Part 2 out of 4
As he spoke, he himself dropped behind a boulder which thrust its
weather-stained head out of the thin grass. He glanced round and saw that
his companions had followed his example.
A bullet struck the stone just above his head and spattered off in a
shower of shrieking fragments. The whole air was thick with lead. It was
clear that they had run into a very strong enemy force, no doubt the
reinforcements which had been brought up from the east.
'Where are they?' sang out Dave, who was lying in a little hollow with Roy
Horan, a few yards to their left.
'There's a ravine ahead. That's where they are. Look out! Here they come!'
The hill-side opposite seemed suddenly to vomit men. They came sweeping
out in masses, hundreds strong.
'Rapid fire!' sang out Ken to his squad.
There was no need for his advice. Every man of the Colonials let loose at
once, and few fired less than fifteen aimed rounds to the minute. The
execution was awful. The attacking force reeled and writhed like a monster
But the officers behind, in their ugly greenish-gray German uniforms,
drove them forward, and though the leading files fell by scores the rest
swept onwards. To his dismay, Ken saw more pouring out behind in support.
The odds were at least ten to one. It was impossible to withstand such an
attack in the open.
Colonel Conway knew it too. Next moment the whistles shrilled again,
giving the order to retire.
Slowly the men began to fall back. Their steadiness was wonderful. Raw
troops can be trusted to charge, but, as a rule, it takes veterans to
retire successfully. These Australians, hardly one of whom had ever been
under fire before the previous night, retreated in such magnificent order
as made their officers' hearts thrill with admiration.
Every bit of cover was made full use of, the men dropping and firing, then
rising again, and gliding back to the next stone or bush. They lost, of
course--lost heavily--but for each Australian who fell, four Turks went
Ken, dodging and shooting with the best, still managed to keep an eye on
his two friends, and saw with relief that neither was hit. Slowly they
worked back until they were within fifty yards of their trench.
Here was open ground with practically no cover at all.
'Come on!' shouted Ken. 'A last sprint.'
He saw Dave spring to his feet and make a dash. Then suddenly he stumbled,
flung out his arms and fell flat on his face. At the same moment two
Turks, big, black-bearded fellows, came leaping out of a patch of scrub,
barely twenty yards behind Dave.
Ken spun round, and taking quick aim at the nearest, pulled the trigger.
There was no report. He had finished the last cartridge in his magazine.
There was no time to reload. Dave, hurt but not killed, was trying to
crawl away on hands and knees, but it was clear that in another moment he
would be a prisoner.
Without an instant's hesitation, Ken charged straight at the two Turks.
They, intent on their prisoner, failed to see him until he was almost on
them. Then one, uttering a hoarse cry, sprang forward, stabbing at him
with his bayonet.
Ken's blade clashed against the other's as he parried, then side-stepping
like a flash, he drove his bayonet into the man's ribs, and with a choking
sob he fell dead.
Something whizzed past Ken's head, and a heavy blow on the left shoulder
brought him to his knees. The second Turk had struck at him with his rifle
butt, and missing his head, caught him on the shoulder. He saw a savage
grin on the man's face as he raised his rifle again to finish the job and
avenge his comrade. It looked all odds on Ken's brains being scattered the
Before the rifle could descend a shadow flashed across, and something
crashed upon the Turk's head with such fearful force as cracked his skull
like an egg-shell. For a moment his body remained upright, then it swayed
and fell sideways like a log to the ground.
'Gosh, but I thought I was too late!' panted Roy Horan. 'And confound it
all, I've cracked the stock of my rifle.'
'You saved my head from being cracked anyhow,' answered Ken. 'But Dave's
hit. Give us a hand back with him.'
'I'll carry him,' said Roy quickly, and dropping his useless rifle, he
quickly hoisted Burney on his broad back, and set off at a run for the
trench. Ken, whose shoulder felt quite numb, followed, and a moment later
all three tumbled safely back into the trench.
Roy laid Dave down gently on the ground.
'Afraid he's got it bad,' he whispered, as he pointed to an ugly stain on
the back of Dave's tunic. 'We must get the doctor as soon as we can.'
'Let's see if we can't stop that bleeding. The doctor's full up with
work.' As Ken spoke, he bent down and began stripping off Dave's uniform,
so as to get at the wound.
Tunic and shirt were both sodden with blood. Ken's heart sank. It looked
as if his chum must have been shot clean through the body.
'He's bleeding like a pig,' muttered Roy, as he unwound a bandage.
By this time Ken had bared Dave's back, and with a handkerchief mopped
away the blood.
'Well, I'm blessed!' he exclaimed. 'Look at that!'
The two stared, for instead of the blue-edged puncture which a bullet
makes as it enters, there was nothing but a shallow cut about three inches
'I see,' said Ken suddenly. 'The bullet struck the leather of his braces,
and glanced. I say, Dave, old chap, you may thank your stars for those
bullock-hide braces of yours. They've saved you this time, and no mistake.
It's only a flesh wound which a strip of plaster will put right in a day
'Thanks be for that, anyhow,' said Dave earnestly. 'It would have broken
me all up to lose the rest of the fun. But,' he added thoughtfully, 'I'm
sorry my braces are gone up. I'll never get another pair like 'em.'
Roy burst out laughing.
'You ungrateful beggar. Here, I've got a bit of string, and we'll soon put
'em to rights. Now Carrington, let's have a squint at your shoulder.'
Ken's shoulder was badly bruised, but nothing worse, and he and Dave soon
forgot their injuries in the excitement of a big frontal attack by the
Turks. For ten minutes they loaded and fired until their rifle barrels
were almost red hot; then the survivors of the attacking party took to
their heels and ran.
After that there was peace for a little except for shell fire. This,
however, grew heavier. Fresh guns had been brought up, and at least three
were devoting their whole attention to the trench. They had got the range,
too, and the shrapnel was bursting right over the gallant Colonials.
Casualties became very heavy, and the doctor and stretcher-bearers were
kept busy the whole time.
To make matters worse, another machine gun had been mounted on rising
ground to the north and its fire was enfilading the trench. If it had not
been for the traverses on which the colonel had insisted, the position
would have become untenable.
Ken, flattened against the clay face of the trench, began to feel very
uneasy. They had no more reinforcements, and if the Turks got more guns,
it began to look as though the whole business would end in failure.
'About time we did another sally to look for that machine gun,' said big
Roy Horan in his ear.
'Not in the daylight,' answered Ken, shaking his head. 'We shouldn't have
a dog's chance of reaching it.'
'Well, something's got to happen pretty soon,' answered Roy, ducking, as a
shell burst almost overhead. 'Something's got to happen, or there won't be
enough of us left to hold this blessed dug-out.'
'Things don't look healthy, and that's a fact,' allowed Ken. 'Our only
chance is to get some guns to work. And that's just what we haven't got.'
'And can't get, either, until that path up the cliff is finished.'
At that moment a shell pitched full into the next traverse, blowing its
two occupants to fragments, and scattering their torn remains far and
'That's poor old Carroll,' growled Roy. 'The swine! How I'd like to get
back on 'em!'
Ken did not reply. The horror of it had made him feel quite sick.
At that moment the firing burst out more hotly than ever. It seemed as if
every gun and rifle in the enemy's hands spoke at once.
'What's up now?' muttered Roy.
Ken gave a sharp exclamation, and pointed upwards. Looking up, Roy saw a
big bi-plane soaring high overhead. It looked like a silver bird as it
skimmed across the rich blue of the afternoon sky.
'Hurrah, a plane at last!' said Ken joyfully. 'That means business. She's
spotting for the ships,' he explained. 'You'll see something pretty soon,
you chaps, or hear it anyhow.'
All around the plane, the air was full of the white puffs of bursting
shrapnel, but the dainty man-bird flirted through them unscathed. The
eager Australians, all staring skywards, saw her bank steeply, and at the
same time a long white streak shot downwards from her, like a ribbon
unrolling in mid air. Then she had turned and was going seawards again at
a terrific speed.
'Now look out!' cried Ken, and almost as the words left his lips the
battleships outside let loose.
A score of 6-inch guns spoke out at once with a ringing clamour which
absolutely drowned all other sounds, and their great 100-pound shells came
hurtling inland with a series of long-drawn shrieks.
'Look! Look!' cried Ken again, as great fountains of earth and gravel
spurted from the side of a hill a mile and a half away to the left. That's
plastering them. Now we're getting a little of our own back.'
There was no doubt about it. The German guns shut up like a knife, but
whether they were actually hit or merely silenced, it was, of course,
impossible to say.
For twenty solid minutes the grim battleships and cruisers poured forth
their storm of shells, until the whole hill-side where the German guns had
been posted gaped with brown craters. Then they ceased, and the saucy
aeroplane came buzzing inland again to observe and report upon the damage
What its extent was the Colonials could not, of course, know, but at any
rate the enfilading guns remained silent and the worst danger was at an
'That's saved our bacon,' said Ken, with a sigh of relief. 'We'll get a
little rest now, perhaps.'
'Maybe ye will, and maybe ye won't,' said Sergeant O'Brien, who came past
at that moment and overheard Ken's words. 'But if ye want forty winks,
bhoys, now's your time to snatch 'em. There'll be mighty little slape this
night for any of us.'
'Why so, sergeant?' asked Dave.
[Illustration: '"Hurrah, a plane at last!" said Ken.']
'Because so soon as ever it's dark we'll have the Turks buzzing round us
like bees. And the ships can't help us then, remember,' he added
'LIZZIE' LETS LOOSE
Sergeant O'Brien was soon proved a true prophet. Darkness had hardly
fallen before the scrub in front was alive with Turks, who came on with a
rush, intent on driving the Colonials out of their position.
'Steady, boys!' cried the sergeant. 'Don't fire till ye can see them. Let
every cartridge tell.'
Every officer and every non-com. down the long length of the trench was
giving the same advice, and the Turks were allowed to approach until their
squat forms loomed clear in the starlight.
'Now let 'em have it. Pump it into 'em, lads!' came O'Brien's voice again.
With one crash every rifle spoke at once, and at the same time the maxims
turned loose their hose-pipe streams of lead. The Turks seemed to melt and
vanish under the concentrated storm of fire. Not one reached the trench.
'Socked 'em that time,' remarked Dave, with great satisfaction.
'Sure, that was only the overture!' answered O'Brien. 'They were just
thrying their luck, so to spake.'
Again he was right. As soon as the survivors of the first attack had
retreated the air became thick with the shriek and moan of shrapnel, and
the vicious whizz of Mauser bullets. This went on for nearly an hour, then
a second attack materialised.
It was in heavier force than the first, and though the steady fire of the
Colonials did tremendous execution, some of the Turks actually reached the
trench and came plunging in, stabbing wildly with their short bayonets.
Not one of them ever got out again, but they did a good deal of damage,
and during the lull that followed the stretcher-bearers were busy. Five
separate times during the hours of darkness did fresh masses of Turks
sweep down upon the worn and weary Colonials, and twice parties of the
latter counter-attacked and drove the survivors helter-skelter before
'Jove, I never was gladder to see daylight,' said Ken hoarsely, as a pale
yellow light began to dim the stars. His eyes stung with powder smoke, his
mouth was sour with fatigue, and every muscle in his body ached.
'Well, lad, we've made good, anyway,' said O'Brien with a smile on his
blackened face. 'Just take a peep over, and see what ye can see.'
Ken raised his head cautiously and peered through the embrasure in front.
The sight that met his eyes was a terrible one. The scrub for nearly a
hundred yards in front of the trench had almost vanished. It had been
literally mown down by the storm of bullets which had raged across it all
night long. And all the open space was paved with the bodies of dead and
wounded men. There were hundreds of them, some on their faces, some on
their backs, most of them still enough, a few trying to crawl away, and
others moaning feebly.
It was a horrible sight, and for the moment Ken felt almost sick.
'They'll not thry it again just yet,' said O'Brien quietly. 'The next
attack will be one in force, and for that they'll need more men than
they've left here.'
'And we'll be ready for them then, eh, sergeant?' said Roy Horan
cheerfully. 'There's more than ourselves been busy during the night.'
As he spoke he pointed over in the other direction, and Ken, with
difficulty withdrawing his eyes from the scene of slaughter in front,
looked back down the cliff.
A cry of delight escaped him. A regular road had been made, curving all
the way up the cliff, and two field guns had been brought up, and set in
position. In spite of the enemies' fire, all sorts of stores had come
ashore in the night, and the camp cooks were already busy preparing
It was the first hot meal that any of the men had had for thirty-six
hours, and it did them all the good in the world. When it was over they
were told to take what sleep they could.
Ken and his two chums needed no second order. They simply pitched
themselves down, and no one ever slept better on a spring mattress than
Ken did in the muddy bottom of that trench.
What woke him at last was a crash which made the solid hill-side quiver,
and dwarfed to insignificance anything that he had previously heard.
In a flash he was up and on his feet.
'Go aisy, lad,' said O'Brien, who was standing up, with a pair of glasses
to his eyes and a smile on his lips. Go aisy. 'Tis only Lizzie opening the
'Lizzie?' muttered Ken, still half dazed with the prodigious explosion.
Again came an enormous roar, followed by a sound like a train rushing
through the sky. Then from a hill to the left and a mile or so inland a
geyser of rocks and soil spouted, and was followed by the same
earth-shaking crash which had wakened him.
Ken looked out to sea. Some three miles off shore lay the biggest
battleship he had ever set eyes on. Even at that distance her immense
turrets, with their grinning gun muzzles, were clearly visible.
'The "Queen Elizabeth!"' he gasped.
'That's what,' said Roy Horan, who had got up and joined Ken. 'They've
sent her along to lend us a hand. Oh, I tell you, she's no slouch. Watch
her now! Gee, but she's giving Young Turkey something to chew on.'
'Why, there's a regular fleet!' exclaimed Ken, rubbing the last of the
sleep from his eyes. 'This is something like. Some of those sniping
gentlemen are going to be sorry for themselves.'
No fewer than seven warships were lying off the coast, every one of them
smashing their broadsides into the Turkish positions. The noise was
incredible, but every sound was dwarfed when the great super-Dreadnought
fired her 15-inch guns. The shells, the length of a tall man and weighing
very nearly a ton, were charged with shrapnel, carrying no fewer than
twenty thousand bullets apiece. Exploding over the enemy's position, each
deluged a couple of acres of ground with a torrent of lead.
[Illustration: '"'Tis only Lizzie opening the ball."']
It was a most amazing sight. The whole sky was full of the smoke of
bursting shells--smoke so heavy that the light breeze could not break it,
as it swam in masses that seemed quite solid until they struck against the
higher ground far inland.
Hour after hour the tremendous bombardment continued. At first the Turkish
field pieces endeavoured to reply, but one by one they were silenced, and
when at last, late in the afternoon, the thunder of the guns ceased, the
silence was only broken by a faint crackle of musketry.
'Now's our chance!' exclaimed O'Brien, who seemed to have an uncanny
faculty for understanding beforehand exactly what was in the colonel's
'A charge, you mean?' said Ken eagerly.
'That's it, sonny. Before they've got over the effects of that swate
Sure enough, a minute later came the order for advance, and, refreshed by
their long rest, the Australians and New Zealanders came pouring over
their parapet, and with bayonets flashing in the evening sun, rushed
forward through the scrub.
For the first two hundred yards there was hardly a check, then all of a
sudden the scattered fire thickened.
'They're in the ravine, bhoys,' shouted O'Brien. 'Don't be waiting to
shoot. Give thim the steel.'
The firing grew heavier. Many of the gallant Colonials dropped, but the
only effect upon the rest was to make them race forward at greater speed.
Ken saw before him a dark line seamed with spits and flashes of flame. A
bullet clipped past his ear so close that he felt the wind of it. He never
paused. Next moment he was over the lip of the shallow ravine in which the
Turks had entrenched themselves.
On the two previous occasions when he and his comrades had attacked
Turkish trenches, the enemy had defended themselves bravely. Now they
seemed no longer to have any stomach for the fight. As the Colonials
poured like an avalanche into the ravine the Turks turned, and scrambling
wildly up the far side, bolted for their lives.
But the Colonials, with the bitter memory in their minds of all they had
suffered during the previous night and day, were not minded to let them
escape so easily. With loud shouts they gave chase. The Turks, good
marchers but poor runners, stood no earthly chance in this terrible race,
and by scores and hundreds were bayoneted or seized and dragged back as
Filled with mad excitement, Ken raced onwards in the forefront of the
line. His bayonet was dripping, a red mist clouded his eyes, for the
moment he was fighting mad.
He stumbled over a log and nearly fell. He realised that he was in a small
wood of low-growing trees with wide spreading branches. To his right he
heard shouts and shrieks and the sound of shots, but for the moment there
was not another soul in sight.
His throat was like a lime kiln. He stopped a moment to take a swallow of
water from his felt-covered flask, then went forward again.
He came to an open space, and as he reached its edge saw four men with a
quick-firer hurrying frantically across the open to the trees on the far
Three were Turks, but the fourth wore the gray-green of a German officer.
The latter was short and--for a German--slight. Something about him seemed
At that moment he turned and glanced round, and Ken saw his face. He could
hardly believe his eyes. The man was Kemp, ex-steward of the 'Cardigan
Castle.' There could be no doubt about it. That sallow complexion, the low
forehead, and the thick black eyebrows which met above his nose were quite
Without an instant's hesitation Ken flung up his rifle and fired straight
at the man. But blown with long running, his hand shook. At any rate, he
missed, and next instant the German, the Turks, and their gun vanished
into the trees opposite.
Footsteps came crashing through the dead leaves and dry sticks behind Ken.
'We've got 'em on toast, Carrington,' came the deep voice of Roy Horan.
The big fellow was splashed with blood and dripping with perspiration, but
in his eyes was a gleam which told of his delight at the result of the
Ken gave a gasp of joy.
'The very man, Horan! Kemp and three Turkish gunners have just gone into
the trees opposite. They've got a quick-firer. Are you game to hunt 'em
'Kemp?' exclaimed Roy, who had of course heard the story of the treachery
aboard the 'Cardigan Castle.' 'Kemp, that spy scoundrel--are you sure?'
'Dead certain, though I can't imagine how he got here.'
'More can I, but by the Lord Harry, we'll have his scalp all right. Which
way did they go?'
Ken pointed and began to run. Roy raced alongside.
It was the maddest enterprise, and if either had stopped to think they
would have realised this fact. Two against four, and the latter armed with
a quick-firer! And by way of improving matters, the two had outrun all
their companions and were far out in a country swarming with enemy troops.
But Ken thought only of vengeance against the traitor Kemp, and as for
Roy, he was the sort to fight till he dropped, and laugh at any odds.
'Where's Dave?' asked Ken, as they tore along, side by side.
'All right when I last saw him about half a mile back,' was the answer.
'Which way have those blighters gone?'
Ken, alone, might have been at a loss to follow, but this was where Roy
came in. Brought up on a great cattle run, he could track a stray beast
over miles of ranges. It was child's play to him to trace the heavy
footmarks over the leaf-strewn floor of the wood.
'Go as quietly as you can,' he whispered to Ken. 'Kemp's quite cute enough
to ambush us if he thinks we're on his track.'
It was wonderful how quietly the young giant could move, and Ken,
naturally light-footed, followed his example easily. The tracks led
uphill, and presently the trees began to thin, and the ground to become
Then the trees gave out altogether, and they found themselves on the side
of a great hill seamed with gullies and covered with low scrub and loose
[Illustration: Within No. 1 Fort at Cape Helles in the Dardanelles.]
[Illustration: Tired out, the soldier was sleeping on a bed of live
'There they are!' said Ken in a low voice, pointing to heads just visible
over the edge of one of the shallow gullies. 'I tell you what they're
after. They're going to emplace that gun somewhere up on the hill-side,
and pepper our people on their way back.'
'That's about the size of it. Well, it's up to us to spoil their little
game. We must work up along the next gully parallel with them and get a
slap at 'em over the edge.'
'That's the tip,' said Ken, 'but mind, we've got to bust up the gun itself
as well as the men with it.'
Bending double so as not to be seen, the two scurried up the parallel
gully until they reckoned that they must be on a level with the gun and
'It's going to be a stalk now,' whispered Roy, and dropping on hands and
knees, crept cautiously over the side of the gully.
On the ridge he stopped.
'Hang the luck!' he muttered. 'They've gone a lot farther than I reckoned.
They're a couple of hundred yards away, and still moving. What's worse,
the two gullies bend away from one another, and there's no cover to speak
Ken crept up alongside, and took a look.
'It's a bit awkward,' he admitted. 'But they're taking it easy. We ought
to be able to make fair practice from here.'
'All right. You take the left-hand man. I'll try for the right.'
A couple of seconds pause, then the two rifles spoke at once. Ken's man
went down like a log, but Roy apparently missed his.
Roy gave an angry exclamation and took a rapid second shot.
'Hurrah--nailed him that time,' as he saw the man go over like a shot
The remaining Turk, seeing his companions down, turned and made a dead
bolt. Kemp, with a cry of rage which came plainly to their ears, rushed
after him, apparently with the idea of bringing him back.
Ken and Roy both loosed off at once, but without success, and next instant
their quarry was out of sight over the far ridge.
'Rotten luck! It was Kemp we wanted,' growled Roy.
'We want the gun worse,' Ken answered grimly.
Springing up, he dropped into the far gully and began to run towards the
'Watch out for Kemp,' sang out Roy, as he followed. 'He may be laying for
us just over the ridge.'
'I thought of that,' answered Ken. 'I'll slip across and have a look.'
Both crept together over the second ridge, but there was no sign of Kemp
or of the third Turk. They might have sunk into the ground for all that
could be seen of them.
'Now for the gun,' said Ken, as he dropped back into the gully.
They wasted no time at all in reaching it. Beside it lay the two Turks.
They were both quite dead.
'Pity we can't take the gun back with us,' said Ken regretfully.
'Why shouldn't we? I'll sling it on my back. It don't weigh more than
Ken shook his head.
'It's too far, old chap. We're all of a mile from our own lines. No, I'll
take the breech block off, and if you can find a good-sized stone we'll
smash the rest of it enough to make it useless.'
Roy at once hove up a rock the size of his head, and raising it high in
air brought it down with a shattering crash on the gun. The stout steel
barrel twisted under the tremendous shock, the water jacket burst.
'That suit you?' he said.
Ken glanced at the ruins, and smiled.
'Take Krupps all their time to make that serviceable again,' he remarked,
and the words were hardly out of his mouth before there came a sudden rush
of feet, and Kemp, accompanied by no fewer than eight sturdy-looking
Turks, came scrambling over the ridge from the right.
'Don't kill them,' shouted Kemp in Turkish. 'Don't kill them. Take them
alive. Ten marks apiece to you if you take them alive.'
The men were on them instantly. There was no time to shoot. Stooping
swiftly, Roy swung up the broken barrel of the quick-firer, and with a
shout sprang at the Turks, whirling the weighty length of steel around his
In his powerful hands it was a fearful weapon. The Turks went down like
ninepins. Ken, who grasped his rifle by the barrel was in no way behind
his chum. The Turks had not been prepared for such a resistance. Inside
ten seconds five of them were down, and the three others had had all they
wanted. They ran for their lives.
Kemp had taken no part in the battle. He was standing a little aloof on
the upper ground. Roy, having disposed of his assailant, whirled round and
made for the man.
Kemp whipped out a repeating pistol and levelled it at his head.
'Drop that or I shoot,' he said viciously.
'No, you don't,' cried Ken.
Ken had seen the pistol in Kemp's hand, and had just had time to get his
own rifle to his shoulder, the muzzle levelled full at Kemp's head.
'Drop that pistol, or I'll blow your head off,' he said curtly.
Kemp's lips parted in a snarl, showing his white teeth. For a moment it
looked as though he would shoot Roy and take his chances.
But his pluck was not quite equal to it, and the grim, determined look on
Ken's face daunted him. With a muttered oath, he dropped the pistol.
'And a very pretty toy, too!' said Roy, springing forward and picking it
up. 'A nice new automatic, Roy. We'll keep that as spoils of war.'
'Don't waste time over the pistol,' said Ken sharply. 'Collar the chap
himself. He'll be better worth bringing back than a cart load of pistols.'
In an instant Roy's great arms were round Kemp, and lifting him clean off
his feet he popped him down in front of Ken.
'Tie him,' said Ken.
'I am an officer,' said Kemp haughtily. 'I will not be bound like a common
'You were an English ship's steward when I last saw you,' Ken retorted.
'And engaged in the charming occupation of signalling out of the bathroom
port to an enemy submarine.'
It was evidently no news to Kemp that Kenneth Carrington was his adversary
of the bathroom. Dark as it had been, he must somehow have recognised him.
He glared back defiantly.
'I was serving my country,' he answered with a lofty air.
'And what do you think would have happened to a Britisher who had been
caught on a German ship, engaged in an act of such abominable treachery?'
returned Ken hotly.
Kemp merely shrugged his shoulders.
'Well, it's not for me to deal with you,' said Ken. 'We'll take him back,
Roy, and he'll stand a proper court-martial. Still, as he calls himself an
officer, I suppose I must take his parole.'
'Do you give it?' he demanded of Kemp.
Kemp's sallow face had gone white, but whether from fear or rage was
doubtful. 'Yes,' he said in a low voice, 'I give my parole.'
They turned, and with Kemp between them, set out at a sharp pace in the
direction from which they had come.
From the distance rifles still snapped, and a couple of miles away to the
south-west field-guns were booming. But all around was strangely quiet.
Ken began to feel a trifle uneasy. He realised that they had got a long
way ahead of their comrades, and that the latter had already been
'Quite nice and peaceful up here, eh, Ken?' said Roy with his cheerful
Before Ken could reply there came a shot from somewhere quite close at
hand, and with a sharp cry Ken dropped his rifle.
'Winged, old chap?' said Roy, turning quickly.
As he did so Kemp made a dash, and hurled himself up the slope to the
'Never mind me!' cried Ken. 'Catch Kemp. Shoot him. Stop him anyhow.'
Roy flung up his rifle and took a snap shot.
He missed, and before he could pull the trigger a second time, the
ex-steward had dived like a weasel into a clump of scrub and was gone.
Roy dashed up the bank in hot pursuit. The moment he showed himself a
regular volley of rifle shots rang out, and spinning round he sprang back
into the hollow.
'There's about twenty Turks coming hard up the next gully,' he panted.
'We've got to bunk like blazes if we want to save our skins.'
THE HUNTERS HUNTED
Ken was standing, looking half dazed. His rifle was on the ground, and he
was holding his left arm with his right hand.
'Are you hurt, Ken?' asked Roy, and there was real concern in his voice.
The two had known one another less than a week, yet each had come to
respect and like the other.
'No. I'm not hit. The bullet struck the barrel of my rifle. It numbed my
arm for the moment. I'm quite all right, but my rifle's done for, so far
as firing goes. Rotten luck, losing Kemp.'
'Never mind Kemp,' said Roy, serious for once. 'These Turkish Johnnies are
between us and home. And they're after us. It'll take us all our time to
get clear. Which way are we to go?'
As he spoke a shout came from the next gully. It was Kemp's voice, and he
was evidently calling his men up to pursue the two Britishers.
Ken glanced round quickly. He saw at once that it was out of the question
to make straight back for their own lines. They would be cut off for a
dead certainty. The two other alternatives were to make off to the right
or to go straight back up the gully.
But going to the right meant that they would have to climb the right-hand
wall of the gully, which was much steeper and higher than that to the
left. The result would be that they would be exposed against the sky line
to the enemy's fire.
All this flashed through his mind in a couple of seconds, and he instantly
took his decision.
'We must go back up the gully, Roy,' he said sharply. 'It's absolutely our
'Any way, so long as we don't drop into the clutches of that swine Kemp,'
said Roy. 'I fancy I see him giving us any parole.'
He whipped round as he spoke, and the two set to running steadily up the
gully. As they passed the scene of their late encounter where the bodies
of the dead Turks lay by the broken machine gun, Ken stooped quickly and
picked up one of their rifles, and helped himself also to a bandolier of
This caused only a few seconds delay, yet before they were under way
again, there came a crackle of shots from below, and bullets whizzed
uncomfortably close about their ears.
Luckily for them, a few yards farther up was a bend in the course of the
ravine, and once round that they were safe for the moment.
Safe for the moment--yes--but the prospect before them was not exactly
inviting, and Ken's lips tightened as he and Roy strained onwards up the
hill-side, which grew steeper with every yard.
They were going straight away from their own people, right into the heart
of the enemy country, and rack his brains as he might, Ken could see no
plan for getting back. There was nothing for it but to try to shake off
their pursuers and trust to chance for the rest.
Neither of them was very fresh, for they had been fighting and running for
the better part of two hours. Even so, they managed to keep ahead of the
Turks, and though every now and then a few shots came rattling up from
below they had got far enough ahead to be out of easy range.
They were now at a considerable height, but still a long way from the top
of the hill. The scrub was thinning out and the ground becoming more and
more stony. The worst of it was that the ravine up which they were
travelling was getting steadily more shallow. A very little farther, and
it ended altogether. Beyond, was nothing but bare hill-side, where they
would--barring the scattered rocks--be in full view of the enemy.
Ken dropped to a walk.
'This won't do, Roy. Once we're out in the open, we shall be the very
finest kind of targets.'
Roy shrugged his great shoulders.
'There's nothing else for it. We can't make a ravine. What price taking up
a position here behind these rocks and trying to fight 'em off? We've got
plenty of cartridges.'
Ken shook his head.
'No earthly use. They could get round above us. We shouldn't have a dog's
'Then we'd best shift on topside,' replied Roy coolly. 'They can't get
above us there unless they raise a balloon. Come on, old man, we can dodge
in and out among these rocks.'
Ken glanced back down the hill. Already the first of their pursuers were
in sight round the curve of the ravine, barely three hundred yards away.
They were jogging along quite steadily. It was clear that they felt
absolutely sure of their men--so sure that there was no need to hurry.
Kemp, conspicuous in his ugly German khaki, was shepherding them upwards.
Ken bit his lip. Inwardly he vowed that he would never be taken alive by
the ex-steward. He had a pretty shrewd idea of what his fate and Roy's
would be if they fell into Kemp's clutches.
'Come on, then,' he said desperately, and springing up over the shallow
bank of the ravine made a rush for the spot where the rocks seemed to be
A shout from below told them that their manoeuvre was observed.
'They're spreading out,' said Roy, looking back over his shoulder.
'They're not shooting, anyhow,' answered Ken, as, bent double, he ran hard
alongside his companion.
'I suppose they think they've got us anyhow,' said Roy. 'Ken, I'd give a
lot to disappoint the dear Kemp.'
Up and up they went, bearing a little to the right because it was on that
side that the stones lay thickest. They were still both going strong, and
were, if anything, increasing the distance between themselves and their
pursuers. A little spark of hope began to dawn in Ken's breast. It seemed
just possible that they might still outrun the slower-going Turks, and
crossing the ridge, find shelter in the valley below. There was one point
in their favour. The sun was dropping low in the west. It would be dark in
little more than an hour.
Roy seemed to guess his thoughts.
'We'll do 'em down yet, Ken,' he said.
Almost as he spoke he pulled up short, and flung out his arm just in time
to stop Ken from plunging right over the sheer edge of a tremendous gorge
that gashed the face of the mountain like a slice from a giant's knife.
For an instant both stood breathing hard, staring down into the darksome
depths below. Then Ken turned to Roy.
'That's why they weren't hurrying,' he said bitterly.
For once Roy seemed cooler than Ken. Throwing himself flat on his face, he
wriggled forward till nearly half his body was over the edge.
'Hold my legs,' he said, and Ken, horrified at the other's rashness,
A moment later he was on his feet again. There was a queer glimmer in his
'There's a chance yet. I've spotted a ledge. Don't count on it. I don't
know whether we can reach it. But it's worth trying. Come on.'
He hurried back down the edge of the cliff for about thirty paces, then
looked over again.
'Here it is. It's a goodish way down. But I've tackled places as bad in
the North Island mountains. Will you risk it?'
'I'd risk anything rather than Kemp,' Ken answered curtly.
'Then I'll go first. Lie down on your face, and give me your hands.
Quickly. Those beggars mustn't see us.'
Ken obeyed instantly. He knew nothing of mountaineering himself, but
realised that Roy did. Without a moment's hesitation Roy turned round with
his back to the ravine, and catching Ken's hands, let himself drop quietly
till his long body dangled at full length against the face of the cliff.
[Illustration: 'The strain on Ken's arms was awful.']
The strain on Ken's arms was awful. The depths below made his head swim.
But he set his teeth, dug his toes into the earth, and held on like grim
'Let go,' said Roy briefly.
To Ken it seemed as though he were dropping his friend into the awful
abyss. But he obeyed without hesitation.
There was a second of ghastly suspense. Then Roy was standing on the
almost invisible ledge, balancing himself, spreadeagled against the face
of the rock.
His hands moved slowly, the fingers groping for a hold. He found it, and
clutching tightly with his left, raised his right hand.
'My bayonet,' he said quickly.
Ken slipped it out of its socket and gave it him.
Roy took it and carefully and deliberately drove it into a crevice in the
rock on a level with his head.
'Chuck the rifles over,' he said. 'You mustn't leave them.'
Ken obeyed. A hollow crash came up from the black depths.
'Now I'm ready for you,' said Roy. His voice was so cool and steady that
it gave Ken some confidence. 'Get as good a grip as you can and let go
when I tell you.'
For a moment it seemed to Ken that he could not do what was asked. In any
matter of fighting he was Roy's equal--indeed his superior, for he was
better able to keep his head in the thick of it.
But he had had no experience of heights, and the blood ran cold in his
veins at the idea of dropping over this terrific precipice. It seemed to
him the only possible result must be that he would knock Roy off his
narrow perch, and that they would go crashing together into the yawning
depths of the abyss.
'You're not scared, are you?'
The contempt in Roy's tones stung Ken to the quick. He hesitated no
longer. Turning quickly, he clutched the rocky ledge and recklessly swung
'Good man! I knew you could do it. Steady now! I've got you. Let go!'
Once more Ken obeyed. He fully believed that he was going to his doom.
Instead, to his intense surprise, he found himself balancing on the ledge
Roy gave a low laugh.
'Sorry I insulted you, old man. I just had to. I know the sort of funk
that takes you the first time you try this kind of game. And I give you my
word there are precious few chaps would have stuck it at all.'
'Now I'll tell you something to console you,' he continued. 'The ledge
widens to my right, and runs in under a big overhang. Once we're under
that, we're as safe as rats in a granary. No one can see us from up above
or from anywhere else, so far as that goes.'
Ken hardly heard. It seemed as if every energy he possessed was needed
just to cling where he was, flattened like a dead mole nailed on a
Roy went on talking in a low quiet voice, which gradually brought back
Ken's confidence, and though his heart was thumping, and he felt as though
it was impossible to draw a full breath, he presently managed to follow
his companion along the ledge.
As Roy had said, it gradually widened, and after going very carefully for
a matter of twenty feet it grew broad enough to walk on with some degree
A minute later, and they were in a deep hollow--almost a cave and
absolutely hidden from all inquisitive eyes.
Roy laughed softly as he dropped to a sitting position.
'Gosh, I'd love to see Kemp's face this minute,' he remarked in a low
voice. 'He'll be just about fit to tie.'
Ken did not answer. He had dropped down and sat with his back against the
river side of the cavity, breathing hard. His face was very white, and big
drops of perspiration beaded his forehead.
Roy glanced at him with some anxiety. Then he fumbled in the pocket of his
tunic and brought out a small leather-covered flask.
'I've carried this ever since I left home,' he said. 'I reckoned it would
come in useful some time. Take a sip of it.'
It was fine old Australian brandy, and although Ken took no more than a
mouthful the effects were immediate. A tinge of colour came back to his
cheeks, and his heart steadied at once.
'Proper stuff, eh?' smiled Roy, as Ken handed back the flask.
Ken held up his hand sharply. 'Listen!' he whispered.
Above their heads they heard heavy footsteps. Then came Kemp's voice.
'What's he saying?' whispered Roy.
'He's telling 'em to hunt among the rocks,' answered Ken in an equally low
voice. 'He seems to be annoyed. He's using all the bad language he knows,
and chucking in German swears where he can't remember the Turkish ones.'
'Must be a bit of a facer for him,' chuckled Roy.
'There's one of the Turks answering him,' said Ken. 'Says we must have
jumped over to escape them.'
'Oh, that's Kemp again,' continued Ken. 'He's telling 'em to go down and
'And what's the Turk say?' Roy asked eagerly.
'He says no one has ever been to the bottom, and couldn't get there if
they wanted to. He calls it the ditch of Shaitan--in other words, the
Devil's Dyke. By Jove, he's started Kemp cursing again. Wonderful flow of
language the chap's got.'
Presently the voices above died away.
'So far as I can make out, they're going to have a try farther up the
hill,' said Ken. 'It's lucky they didn't think of looking for our tracks.
If they'd used their eyes they must have seen the place where we got over.
I know I dug my toes in a good two inches when I was hanging on to you.'
'Thank goodness, tracking is about the last thing that would occur to a
German. All the same, Kemp is quite cute enough to leave a guard posted
here to watch for us.'
Ken looked rather startled.
'I hadn't thought of that, but it's very likely. Then it looks as if we
should have to stay here all night.'
'I'd made up my mind to that already,' Roy answered. 'But it might be
worse. We've got shelter and we're absolutely safe. Also we have our
emergency rations, so we shan't starve. We ought to get a decent sleep for
once in a way.'
'What--sleep on the edge of this precipice!'
'Why not? I've slept in worse places before now.'
'Supposing one rolled over in one's sleep?' said Ken with a slight shiver
as he peered over into the awesome depths below.
Roy laughed softly.
'Don't worry. You shall sleep between me and the rock. It'll take you all
your time to roll over me.'
The sun was down, darkness was already shrouding the depths of space
beneath them. The Turks seemed to have left. At any rate, Ken and Roy
could hear no more of them. The evening silence was broken only by the
mysterious whisper of the evening breeze as it stole down the canon, and
by a faint and distant popping of rifle shots.
Roy stretched his long legs and yawned.
'I'm for supper,' he observed, as he took his iron ration out of his
haversack. 'We'll share this to-night, Ken, and breakfast off yours in the
morning. Luckily I've still got some water in my bottle.'
The emergency or iron ration consists mainly of concentrated beef,
biscuit, and chocolate. There is not much of it, so far as bulk goes, but
it is very sustaining. Roy carefully divided his into two lots, and they
ate slowly, and finished their slim repast with a drink of water.
Then, after chatting a while, they stretched themselves out to sleep. Roy,
according to his promise, made Ken take the inner side, and in spite of
his nervousness, he slept like a log.
Ken roused at earliest dawn. A thin mist floated beneath them, hiding the
depths of the ravine. Musketry still crackled in the distance, but all
around was very still.
Ken shivered slightly, for the morning air bit chill. He sat up and shook
Roy, who was still sleeping peacefully.
'Daylight,' said Ken briefly. 'Time to get out of this.'
Roy sat up and stretched his great frame.
'What a life!' he said with a laugh. 'Yes, I suppose we'd best be
'Shall we breakfast now, or wait till we get up topside?' asked Ken.
Roy gave him a quick look.
'It might be as well to feed now,' he said quietly. 'You see, I haven't a
notion how we're going to get out of this.'
Ken stared. Such a point of view had never occurred to him. He had such
implicit faith in Roy's mountaineering capacity that he had taken it
absolutely for granted that Roy could find a way back to firm ground.
THE BATTLE BY ROCKS
Roy saw Ken's dismay.
'Sorry, old chap,' he said simply. 'I thought you understood.'
Ken smiled back.
'I'm afraid I took it for granted that you had it all pat. You see, I
don't know the first thing about mountaineering myself. Can't we get back
the same way we came?'
Roy shook his head.
'It's too big a reach. But don't worry. We'll find some way out. Stop here
a minute and I'll go and have a squint round.'
Ken looked at him.
'You'll be careful, Roy? Hadn't I better come and give you a hand?'
'I'll call you if I want you,' said Roy. 'I'm going to see where this
He strolled off as calmly as though walking along a twelve-inch ledge over
a two hundred foot drop was as simple as a promenade down the sunny side
of Piccadilly. Ken, feeling anything but happy, watched him until he was
hidden behind a shoulder of rock.
It was quite five minutes before he came back.
'It's all right,' he said cheerfully. 'True, we can't get up, but I think
we can get down. This ledge drops a long way, and there seems to be
another below it. Let's have our grub and go along.'
He ate his share of Ken's rations with evident appetite, and Ken did his
best to follow his example. But it would be idle to say that Ken felt
happy. Glancing down into the tremendous depths that yawned below, he felt
that he would infinitely rather charge a score of Turks, single-handed,
than try to make his way down the face of the gigantic wall of rock.
Roy finished his food, brushed the crumbs from his tunic, and taking the
bayonet which--with the automatic pistol captured from Kemp--were the only
weapons they had, walked off along the ledge.
Ken set his teeth and followed.
'Look up, not down,' said Roy quietly, and Ken did his best to obey.
The ledge, though narrow, did not really present any particular
difficulties. As Roy said, 'If it wasn't for the big drop below, you
wouldn't think twice about it.'
Ken knew this was true, and tried hard to keep it in his mind.
Presently, however, the ledge began to narrow again, and the only way to
tackle it was to flatten themselves, limpet-like, against the cliff face,
and claw their way onwards, gripping every possible little projection
which gave any sort of hand hold.
At last Roy pulled up.
'Capital!' he said. 'You're doing first-rate, Ken. That's as far as we can
go on this ledge. We've got to drop to the lower one now. Don't worry.
It's not as bad as that first drop we had to do last night.'
As he spoke, he stooped, gripped the edge of the ledge with his hands, and
let himself down gently. There was a knob of rock about seven feet down.
He got his feet on this, then reached up for the bayonet which Ken held.
As before, he jammed this into a crevice so as to give himself something
to hold by, then signalled Ken to follow.
Ken's heart was in his mouth. The projection seemed hardly large enough
for one pair of feet, let alone two. But when he reached it he found that
Roy had left it all for him. He himself had stepped off, driving his toes
into a mere crevice alongside.
'Keep hold of the bayonet till I tell you to move,' came Roy's quiet
voice. 'Afraid we'll have to leave it where it is. We can't shift it
again. That's right.'
'Now get your fingers into that crack to the right. I'm going to move your
feet for you.'
What Roy was doing Ken could not tell, and he dared not look. But a moment
later he felt the big fellow's hands shifting his feet.
There came a sharp rattle of falling stones, a quick gasp.
A spasm of fright clutched him. For the moment he fully believed that Roy
'Roy! he cried sharply. 'Roy!'
'All right, old man. It's quite all right. Just a chunk of rock broken
out. The stuff's a bit rotten, but I've got good hand hold.'
A pause. Then, 'Now you can move.'
Again Roy's strong hands shifted his feet. Twice more this happened; then
just as he began to feel that he could stand the strain no longer, he
heard Roy's jolly laugh.
'We've done it. One step more, and you're on the ledge.'
A moment later, and they stood together on a ledge nearly a yard wide. It
seemed like a turnpike road compared to the one above.
[Illustration: Tins and barbed wire are cut up in the Dardanelles as
'filling' for bombs.]
[Illustration: Our gallant bluejackets cheered the return of the
triumphant submarine after her wonderful achievement.]
Roy drew a long breath.
'That was a bad bit,' he said. 'As bad as anything I ever struck. Don't
mind telling you now, Ken, that I was in a blue funk.'
'You didn't show it,' Ken answered rather breathlessly. 'If you had, I
believe I should have crocked.'
'You didn't, anyhow. That's the main thing. And I wouldn't ask a better
man to go climbing with. You kept your head, and did what you were told.
Well, now I think the worst is over. This looks like a regular fault in
the strata, and it ought to take us to the bottom.
Roy's judgment was correct. There were still some nasty places, but
nothing like what they had already tackled, and within another quarter of
an hour they had reached the bottom of the gorge.
A little stream ran down the centre, finding its way among piled masses of
fallen rock. On each side the cliffs towered so high that only a mere slit
of sky was visible. It was as wild and gloomy a spot as Ken had ever seen.
'I've seen better walking,' observed Roy, as a flat stone slipped under
his foot, and nearly pitched him over into the bed of the brook.
'It's better than that abominable cliff, anyhow,' returned Ken. 'But I'd
give something to know where we're going.'
'I can tell you. The sea. If we follow the stream we're bound to reach
'But where?' said Ken--'where? I don't know that I've got the points of
the compass very clear in my head, and there's no sun visible yet, but if
I'm not mistaken, this brook runs east, not west.'
Roy pulled up with a puzzled expression on his face.
'Pon my Sam, I believe you're right. In that case, this is the head waters
of some stream that runs out into the Straits.'
'That's my notion, and consequently we're still going plumb in the wrong
'We can't help it,' said Roy. 'It's no use trying to climb up the far side
over the top of the hill.'
'Not a bit. The first thing to do is to get out of this gorge. After that
we must see if we can't skirt round the base of the hill, and get back
Roy nodded, and for some distance they continued on their uncomfortable
way in silence.
'Not much more of it,' said Roy at last. 'We're getting near the mouth
'And that's where our troubles are going to begin,' said Ken with a smile.
'It looks to me as if we were the best part of three miles inland.'
'Which means that we've got to get through the whole bunch of the Turks,'
answered Roy. 'I say, don't you wish we'd got our whole crowd up here?
We'd take the enemy in the rear and play old Harry with them.'
'No use wishing that. But I'll tell you what, Roy. If we ever do get back
we'll have some useful information for the colonel.'
Roy nodded, as he scrambled on to the top of a big rock.
'I can see out of the mouth of the gorge from here,' he said, as he stood
on the summit, 'and by the look of the country you're about right as to
the course of this brook. We're the other side of the water-shed
Ken clambered up beside him. A couple of hundred yards farther down the
gorge ended, or rather turned into a shallow ravine, down which the stream
found its way into a broad valley below. A rough track crossed this
valley, and Ken pointed to figures looking no bigger than dolls in the
distance, which moved along it.
'Reinforcements coming up,' he said. 'They'll be from Kojadere. We must
keep clear of that road. Seems to me the best thing we can do is to swing
to the right and work round the shoulder of the hill.'
'Yes, if we can find cover. Well, there's nothing to stop us from climbing
up here. The bank don't amount to anything.'
He was right, and turning at once they scrambled up the steep rocky slope.
It was broken with projecting crags, and almost covered with brush, which
gave them ample cover. Reaching the top, they got a sight of the sun, and
found that they were facing almost due east. The guns were still
thundering behind them, but their sound was deadened by the great mass of
hill which lay between them and the sea.
The hill-side was thick with scrub and there was no difficulty about
getting forward. They went on steadily, and had travelled about half a
mile when they entered a little wood. Passing through this, they were
dismayed to find themselves on the edge of a steep bank about sixty feet
high, with the track running at the bottom of it, and, beyond, a wide
space of open valley rising again to a hill opposite.
'This is no use,' said Roy. 'We're bound to be spotted if we try to cross
'No, we must keep on this side for the present,' answered Ken, as he
turned back into the trees.
Presently they heard a tramping of feet, and peering through the leaves
saw a body of Turkish troops, about a hundred strong, marching stolidly
along beneath them.
'My word, if we only had a maxim!' muttered Roy, as he stared at the
closely-formed column. 'Couldn't we make hay of 'em?'
Ken did not answer. He watched the men pass on until they were out of
sight around a curve in the track. Then he and Roy moved on again.
Round the next bend, they found themselves at the end of the friendly
wood, and the ground beyond was a deal more open than seemed healthy.
'We'll have to wait until those chaps are well out of the way,' said Ken,
and calmly sat himself down on a big stone, one of many which lay among
the tree trunks.
'Hope they'll hurry,' said Roy rather viciously. 'I'm infernally hungry. I
want to get back to my dinner.'
While Ken rested Roy stood staring out through the tree trunks.
Presently he turned to Ken. 'Tell you what, Ken, I believe there's a
chance for us now. There's another patch of wood less than a quarter of a
mile away, and if we watched our chance we might slip across without being
spotted. Beyond it, the ground rises again, with a lot of rocks and scrub.
Plenty of cover at any rate. What do you think?'
Ken got up and took a long and careful survey.
'It looks all right,' he said at last. 'I'm game to try it anyhow.'
'Then the sooner the better. Those Turks have topped the rise.'
They were on the point of starting when Ken heard a sound which made him
seize Roy's arm.
'Steady a minute! There's something else coming up the track.'
They dropped flat and lay waiting. Sure enough, there was a low rumble of
wheels, and after a few minutes a team of mules came into sight around the
left-hand curve, dragging a field-piece, and accompanied by about a dozen
'Just as well we waited,' whispered Roy. 'We shouldn't have stood much
show if we'd dropped down under their noses, eh?'
Ken did not answer. He was staring fixedly at the gun. His eyes were very
He turned to Roy.
'That's going to be used to smash our chaps, Roy. Jove, if we could only
'Stop it?' repeated Roy in amazement. 'My dear chap, we haven't even got
our rifles. They're lying smashed up at the bottom of the gorge. The only
weapon we've got left is this automatic.'
'We've got something better than bullets,' Ken answered very quietly. He
laid his hand as he spoke upon one of the big loose boulders which lay in
front of him.
'See here,' he went on, 'they'll come right underneath us. If we could get
this rock down on the team, it would probably stampede the mules. Then
before the men have recovered from their confusion, we ought to be able to
give them a couple more. If we could land one on top of the gun itself, it
would damage it pretty badly, even if it doesn't smash the mountings and
make it useless. What do you say?'
'Say--why that it's the greatest scheme ever hatched, and I'm with you
every time,' Roy answered, his face glowing with excitement. 'And, by
Jingo,' he added, 'if we'd picked the spot for bringing it off, we
couldn't have done better.'
This was true enough. The spot where they were perched was fully sixty
feet above the road, and the slope below was next door to perpendicular.
For another thing, the supply of boulders was unlimited.
The one to which Ken had pointed weighed perhaps a quarter of a ton and
was shaped rather like a gigantic egg. He put his weight against it, and
found that it rocked, but even so, he could not be quite certain that
their combined efforts could start it over the edge.
'Wait!' whispered Roy, and turning slipped away into the thick of the
trees. He was back in a minute, carrying a heavy piece of dead timber.
'This ought to do the trick,' he said softly. Ken nodded.
Meantime the Turks below, all unsuspicious of what was brewing, came
slowly and steadily along the road. Slowly, because not only is a
77-millimetre gun with its caisson a heavy weight, but also because the
road was merely an apology for one. It was nothing but a deeply rutted
track thick with sand and loose stones.
The men were in charge of a non-commissioned officer, a Turk like
themselves, and consequently were taking it very easy, strolling along,
smoking and chatting.
Roy drove his stake deep under the big rock, and gave a slight heave.
'She'll shift all right,' he whispered in a tone of quiet satisfaction.
'All right. Wait till I give the word,' said Ken, with his eyes fixed upon
the long gray gun which came jogging slowly onwards, its grim muzzle
swaying and lurching as the wheels took the ruts in the road.
It seemed a long time before it came opposite. Then at last Ken gave one
In an instant they were both on their feet, Roy tugging on the lever, Ken
bracing all his weight on the big rock.
It moved, it rolled slowly over, seemed to pause a moment on the edge of
the bank, then suddenly shot forward. Ten feet below, it alighted on the
slope, rebounded, and at the same time started half a dozen other stones.
In a moment a rock avalanche was roaring down the steep. The great stone
led the way. In a series of gigantic leaps, each longer than the last, it
thundered downwards, at each jump starting fresh tons of the loose shale
which covered the bank.
A cloud of dust rose like smoke, and hid all below. Then from out the
cloud came squeals and shrieks.
In their excitement, Ken and Roy actually forgot to send fresh stones to
follow the first. There was no need. When the dust cloud cleared, one mule
which had broken loose was galloping madly across country, the rest were
down and dead.
The gun, dismounted, was half buried in a pile of shale which lay feet
deep across the road. Of the men, not one remained. Most were not only
dead, but buried. Two only lay clear, and to all appearance they were as
dead as their companions.
Roy looked at Ken.
'What you might call a clean bit of work,' he said, but though he tried to
smile, there was something like awe in his voice.
'Yes. A ten-inch shell could hardly have done more,' Ken answered. 'Poor
beggars! It's rather ghastly wiping 'em out like that, but one has got to
remember that that gun would have probably finished ten times the number
of our chaps if they'd got it into position.
'We'd better go down,' he added. 'We may find a couple of rifles, and I'll
lay we shall need them before we reach our own lines.'
It was an awkward job to get down the bank, for the shale was so loose it
kept breaking away under their feet. They had to go quickly, too, for
there was every chance of fresh reinforcements or more guns coming up the
Fortunately no one else appeared, and in a very few minutes they were busy
hunting among the pile of rocks for rifles that had escaped injury. They
found three, but only one was serviceable. The sights of the others were
damaged. They also found food. It was bread, dark-looking and very stale,
and goats' milk cheese.
But they were far too hungry to be particular. They stuffed it into their
At that moment came a deep groan from among the rocks.
Ken swung round sharply.
'There's one of 'em alive in there,' he said quickly, 'we can't leave the
poor beggar to die by inches.'
[Illustration: 'A rock avalanche was roaring down the steep.']
He began rolling the stones aside, and guided by the groans he and Roy
soon pulled out a youngish Turk and laid him on the side of the road.
Ken examined him quickly.
'He's got off cheaply,' he said. 'Nothing broken--nothing the matter, so
far as I can see, except bruises and a cut on the head. Give him a drop of
your brandy, Roy.'
As Roy unscrewed the stopper, the Turk's eyes opened, and he stared up at
his rescuers in blank amazement.
'Englishmen!' he muttered.
Roy put the flask to his lips, but he shook his head.
'Water,' he said in Turkish.
'It's against his religion to drink wine or spirits,' Ken explained to
Roy, and put his own water-bottle to the man's lips.
'I thank you,' said the Turk with grave courtesy. He sat up and looked
round at the ruin on the road.
'We did not know that your guns were near enough to drop shell upon us,'
he said. 'Nor had we any notion that your troops had advanced so far
'Well, it is Allah's will,' he continued resignedly. 'And our fate for
being driven into an unjust war. I am your prisoner.'
'We don't want any prisoners,' Ken answered with a smile, and at his
fluent Turkish the man's dark eyes opened in evident surprise. 'You are
The Turk stared.
'Then you are separated from your own regiment,' he said keenly, and by
his accent and language, Ken realised that he was a man of some education.
Ken did not answer.
'Your pardon, effendi,' said the Turk. 'I did not mean to ask idle
questions. I thank you for your kindness, and I wish you happiness.'
'Come on, Ken,' broke in Roy, who was scanning the country uneasily. 'We
are right out in the open here. That chap will be all right. Let's get
into that wood as sharp as we can.'
'One moment,' said Roy, and turned to the Turk.
'If you care to do us a good turn, tell us the nearest way back to Gaba
The Turk pointed up the road.
'That is the nearest way, but, I need not tell you, the most dangerous.
Our lines lie between here and the British. You must wait for the darkness
of the night or you will for a certainty be captured. My advice to you is
to conceal yourselves among the trees in the wood, and wait until the sun
shall have set.'
'I thank you,' said Ken courteously. 'Is there anything else in which we
can assist you?'
'There is nothing, I thank you. I will rest a while, then move onwards. In
the name of the Prophet, I wish you a safe journey.'
'What tale was he pitching you?' said Roy impatiently, as he set off at a
great rate for the wood opposite.
'He advised us to lie up for the rest of the day, and try to slip through
their lines at night.'
Roy grunted. 'And I suppose he'll watch where we go and set his pals on us
as soon as they come along.'
'He will do nothing of the sort,' Ken answered rather hotly. 'For
goodness' sake, don't go judging the Turk by the German, Roy. That fellow
considers that we have done him a favour, and nothing would induce him to
'Sorry I spoke,' said Roy briefly, 'but you were so long I was getting
into a horrid stew. Even now, one can't tell whether we've been spotted,
and it isn't likely that the next German who comes along is going to be
kind to us when he sees what we've done to his nice new gun.'
No more was said until they reached the wood and flung themselves panting
under the shade of a scrubby live oak.
'Now we can take a bit of a breather,' said Roy. 'And a bit of lunch, too.
Here, catch!' He flung a chunk of bread across to Ken.
But Ken had sprung up. He was listening keenly.
'Bunk!' he muttered. 'There's cavalry coming.'
Roy was on his feet like a flash, for he too had caught the thud of
horses' hoofs and the jingle of stirrups. For a moment the two stood, side
by side, behind the trunk of the live oak, peering out over the sunbaked
plain. Across it a patrol of cavalry, smart in a gray-blue uniform, were
'They're making straight for the wood,' said Ken quickly. 'They must be
after us. Come!'
They both set off at a run, dodging and ducking under the low-growing
trees. For a moment they thought they were unobserved, but next instant a
shout rudely shattered that illusion. They scurried on as hard as they
could go, but the wood was so open and the trees so far apart that it gave
mighty little shelter. The patrol had broken into a gallop. The thud of
the horses' hoofs grew nearer every moment.
'That thicket over there,' panted Ken breathlessly. 'We'll dodge them yet
if we can reach it.'
But between them and it was a good hundred yards of almost open ground,
and the leader of the patrol saw their manoeuvre, and shouted an order.
His men split out fan-wise and before Ken and Roy were half way across the
open, came a thunder of hoofs, and half a dozen of the troopers came
galloping upon them from the left.
Ken flung up his captured rifle, and fired slap at the first. The bullet
caught the horse between the eyes and down he came with a crash, flinging
his rider far over his head.
But the next was too close to dodge. Ken caught the flash of sun on a
lancehead bearing straight down upon him. He sprang aside, the lancehead
missed him by inches, then the shoulder of the horse caught him with
stunning force and hurled him to the ground.
Before he could pick himself up, three of the troopers were off their
horses, and had flung themselves upon him. He was hauled roughly to his
feet, his rifle snatched from his hand, and his cartridge-pouch torn away.
A few yards away, Roy, his face bleeding, was the centre of another group
who were disarming him in spite of his struggles.
Ken glanced at his captors. He saw that they were Turkish constabulary,
and his heart sank. These men, trained by Germans, paid by them, and
soaked in their brutal tenets, were among the small minority of Turks who
had really come to share the German hatred of the British.
They glared fiercely at their prisoners.
'British swine!' growled one, and spat in contempt.
'They are spies,' said another. 'We find them three miles behind our
lines. Why do we waste time taking them prisoners? Let us hang them and be
done with them.'
'Why not let them run and ride them down?' suggested another. 'Sticking
with a lance is a fit fate for hogs.'
But the sergeant, a tall, swarthy faced man with a pair of fierce black
eyes, pushed his way forward.
'Fools, these are the men who escaped last night from Captain Hartmann. We
have his orders to bring them before him. It will go hard with you if you
disobey. Shackle them both, and send them to him under guard.'
He flung down two pairs of handcuffs, and one of the men who was holding
Ken picked them up, while another seized his wrists.
It was on the tip of Ken's tongue to protest fiercely against this
indignity, but he checked himself. It would be better, he remembered, that
these men should not know that he spoke their language.
Roy was fighting like a fury. Three of the troopers had their work cut out
to hold him. As it was, he managed to get one hand loose, and before the
others could seize it again one of their number lay insensible on the
ground with his nose broken and flattened against his face.
'Steady, Roy!' cried Ken. 'These swabs are no better than Germans. They'll
only frog-march us or something equally beastly if we resist.'
'But handcuffs!' roared Roy in a fury. 'D'ye think I'm going to be
handcuffed like a common criminal?'
'They think we're spies,' Ken answered. 'They're going to take us to
headquarters. It's no use resisting. We must wait our chance.'
Sullenly Roy ceased struggling, and the handcuffs were snapped on his
wrists. The sergeant who seemed in a hurry, gave brief orders, and
galloped on with most of his patrol, leaving a lower grade officer,
probably a corporal, with half a dozen men.
'March!' ordered the corporal, an undersized, vicious-looking fellow,
giving Ken a prick with his lance. 'And keep going, or, by Allah, it will
be more than a prick you will get next time.'
Side by side, Ken and Roy stumbled forward, while their captors cursed or
jeered them in language which Roy fortunately could not understand,
although to Ken every word of it was only too plain. From something the
corporal let drop, he learnt that they were being taken, not to Kojadere,
but to Eski Keni, which lies in the middle of the peninsula, about
half-way between Gaba Tepe and Maidos.
He told this to Roy, speaking in an undertone, as they tramped rapidly
onwards under the threat of the lance-points behind them.
'And the man they are taking us before seems to be Kemp,' said Ken. 'Only
they call him Hartmann. It appears he was cute enough to suspect that we
had hidden ourselves somewhere last night, and these fellows were sent out
to look for us.'
'And I wish we had both gone over the cliff before they found us,' Roy
answered, gritting his teeth. The disgrace of the handcuffs was biting
deep into his soul. Ken had never seen him in such a mood before.
Ken himself was none too happy. It took all his pluck and philosophy to
keep going at all. He was aching in every bone, his mouth and throat were
parched, and his tongue like a dry stick in his mouth. The dust rose
around them in choking clouds, flies bit and stung, yet he could not lift
a hand to brush them from his face. What was hardest of all to bear were
the jeers and insults flung at them by their captors.
But they trudged on doggedly, refusing to pay the slightest attention to
the taunts or blows showered upon them, and in spite of everything, Ken
used his eyes to take in every feature of the country through which they
travelled. Small hope as he had of ever seeing again his own lines, yet he
missed nothing of importance, storing up each hill, valley, clump of
trees, and track in his tenacious memory.
At last they came within sight of a group of squalid hovels in a valley.
'That's Keni,' Ken told Roy.
The brutal corporal caught the word.
'That's Keni,' he repeated in his own language, 'and, by the beard of the
Prophet, you shall soon see how spies are dealt with.'
The village swarmed with soldiers, many of them wounded, who stared at the
two British prisoners with lack-lustre eyes. The narrow street of the
place reeked with filth and foul odours, and swarmed with a pestilence of
flies. The two youngsters were thrust roughly into a dirty hovel, and with
a final jeer from their brutal jailer, the door was locked behind them.
For a moment Roy stood straight, towering in the centre of the low-roofed
room. There was a very ugly light in his eyes.
'Wait, my friend, wait!' he said hoarsely. 'I'll be even with you before
'Steady, old chap!' said Ken quietly. 'Steady! Take it easy while you can.
Remember, we've got that little interview with Kemp before us.'
Roy flung himself down with a gasp.
'It's all right, Ken. I'll calm down after a bit. But heaven pity that
black-moustached blighter if I ever get my hands on him.'
Ken tried to answer, but suddenly dropped flat on the bare earthen floor.
His eyes closed. Instantly he was sound asleep. Roy stared at him vaguely,
yawned, and before he knew it had slipped down and followed his example.
So they lay, happily oblivious of their troubles, all through the blazing
afternoon. The sun was setting when the door was flung open and the
sharp-faced corporal strode in.
He roused them with a kick apiece.
'Get up, British dogs,' he ordered. 'Captain Hartmann awaits you.'
The sleep had refreshed them, and though stiff and sore they were both in
condition so fit and hard that they were little the worse for their trying
experiences of the night and morning.
Under charge of a guard, they were marched rapidly up the street to where
a few larger flat-topped houses stood on slightly higher ground. Through
an open door they were driven along a passage and out into a courtyard
open to the sky, with a fountain in the centre.
At a table, under the shade of a grape arbour, sat two German officers,
one of whom was a typical Prussian, fair, with hard blue eyes and close
cropped hair, while the other was their old friend, the ex-steward Kemp,
An ugly light shone in his deep-set, narrow eyes as they fell on the two
'Soh!' he said, with a evil smile, 'my young friends, the spies!
Achmet'--this to the corporal--'you have done well. I will see that your
conduct and that of your sergeant is recommended in the proper quarter.'
He turned to his companion.
'Ober-lieutenant von Steegman,' he said formally. 'The prisoners are those
of whom I spoke last night to Colonel Henkel. Disguised in the overcoats
of Turkish soldiers, they contrived to destroy one of our quick-firers,
and to-day they were discovered hiding in a wood behind our lines. They
had, it appears, been plundering our wounded, for food and a Turkish rifle
were found in their possession.'
Ken could not speak German, but he knew enough of the language to gather
the meaning of the man's infamous accusations. 'Liar!' he burst in. 'We
were never in Turkish uniform. As for the gun, we took it in fair fight,
At a sign from Hartmann, Achmet, the corporal, struck Ken across the
[Illustration: 'Roy brought them down on the man's head.']
It was probably the last thing he ever did in his life, for Roy, raising
his shackled hands, brought them down upon the man's head with such
fearful force that he dropped like a log, the blood gushing from his mouth
Instantly all was confusion. Hartmann sprang to his feet, shouting out
furious orders. Two of the guard seized Roy and flung him to the ground,
two more laid hands on Ken. Another drew his bayonet, and Ken saw it flash
in the evening sunlight before his very eyes.
It was Von Steegman who sprang forward and seized the man's arm just in
'No. Leave him alone,' he cried harshly. 'The colonel has left express
orders that he wishes to see these men before they are executed. Stand
aside! It is only a short delay. They will both be shot at sundown.'
Von Steegman, if a brute, had ten times the physical power and moral force
of Hartmann. The man obeyed at once, and in a few moments order was
restored. Two men carried away the insensible form of Achmet, Roy watching
with a grim smile.
Ken had hardly thought of his own danger. His lips were bleeding, and the
foul blow had for the moment rendered him perfectly reckless.
'Is this the way you treat prisoners? he thundered, his eyes blazing.
'Small wonder a people who do such things are despised by every other
nation on earth!'
'Himmel, you dare to talk like that?' snarled back Hartmann. 'You, a
private soldier, venture such insolence to an officer?'
Ken was already ashamed of his outburst.
'An officer!' he said with bitter contempt, 'or do you mean a bathroom
Hartmann's sallow face went livid with excess of rage. He bit his lip till
the blood showed upon it in a thin red line.
'You will sing a different song when you stand before the muzzles of the
firing party,' he said in a grating voice.
Von Steegman, who seemed to be the only man among them to remain quite
unmoved, raised his hand.
'All this is highly irregular,' he said harshly. 'Captain Hartmann, it is
our duty to interrogate these prisoners.'
'What's the use of interrogating us if you have already made up your mind
to shoot us?' retorted Ken.
Von Steegman glared at him.
'Because,' he answered in his harsh German English, 'it is bossible that,
by giving us certain information, you may yed save der lives which you haf
Ken stared back, and there was something in his face which made even the
German's bold eyes drop.
'I don't advise you to say any more,' he answered grimly. 'You'd better
proceed at once with your firing party, you miserable German murderer.'
Von Steegman's hand dropped to his sword hilt, his face went the colour of
a ripe plum, for a moment Ken thought--hoped that he was going to have a
Before he could speak there came a stir behind, the door leading from the
house to the yard opened sharply, and a stout, coarse-looking man in the
uniform of a colonel in the Prussian Army, strode heavily in.
Hartmann and Von Steegman rose like two ramrods, and saluted him. They
stood at the salute while he came across to the table.
'So these are the two prisoners,' he said in a thick guttural voice, as he
seated himself, 'the two who were captured spying behind our lines.'
He stared first at Roy, then at Ken. As his bloodshot eyes fell upon the
latter he started ever so slightly. At the same moment Ken seemed to
recognise him, for a look of disgust crossed his face.
THE FIRING PARTY
'These are the spies, Herr Colonel,' he said with an air of deference.
'They were captured more than two miles behind our lines. We have
interrogated them, but they refuse information.'
The colonel looked at Ken.
'Have you nothing to say for yourselves?' he demanded.
'Plenty, but not to you, Colonel Henkel,' replied Ken with a sarcasm he
did not trouble to conceal.
Henkel, however, did not lose his temper as Von Steegman had done. He
turned to Hartmann and Von Steegman and spoke to them both in a low voice.
'As you wish, Herr Colonel,' said Hartmann presently, but there was an air
of distinct disappointment about him.
'Corporal,' said Henkel to the non-com, who had taken the place of the
brute whom Roy had finished, 'take the prisoners back and lock them up
securely. Set a guard over them.'
'Mind this--that you are responsible for them,' he added harshly.
The man saluted, and Ken and Roy, who had hardly expected to leave the
place alive, found themselves marched back down the evil-smelling street
and shut up once more in the same hovel as before.
Roy turned to Ken as the key clicked in the lock behind them.
'This is a rum go,' he said in great astonishment. 'What's it mean? Who is
the Johnny with the fat tummy and the bloodshot eyes? Why was he so quiet
with you? What--?'
'Steady, old man!' cut in Ken. 'One question at a time. Didn't you hear
He broke off with a gasp.
'You don't mean to say he is the sweep that tried to swindle your father
out of his coal mine?'
'You've hit it, Roy--hit it in once. That's the very same chap, though I
never knew before that he was a colonel. He recognised me as soon as I
'But what's his game?' demanded Roy. 'I should have thought he would have
been only too pleased to get you shot out of hand. If your father is dead,
you're next heir to the coal.'
'I'm not very clear what he is after,' Ken answered in a puzzled voice.
'But it's something to do with our property, you may be sure of that. This
much I do know--that Henkel was awfully in debt when I last saw him. And I
know this, too--that our friend, old Othman Pacha, who is Bey in that part
of the country, would refuse to let the property pass without proper title
'Then it's clear as mud,' said Roy quickly. 'Henkel wants to get the deeds
out of you.'
'That may be it. But anyhow I'm not of age. I couldn't sign anything.'
'Don't, anyhow,' said Roy. 'He can't do worse than shoot us.'
But Ken looked very grave. Inwardly, he was thinking that, if Henkel did
actually mean to make terms, he had no right to sacrifice Roy's life as
well as his own.
At this moment the corporal came in with a platter of food and a pitcher
of water. He planked them down without a word, and went out again.
'No use starving ourselves,' said Roy with his usual cheeriness. 'It's a
case of "let us eat and drink for to-morrow we die."'
His pluck was wonderful, and they set to as well as their manacled hands
permitted, on the coarse barley-meal bread and goats' milk cheese. They
had had nothing since their 'emergency' breakfast and they finished the
food to the last crumb.
'That's better,' said Roy. 'Now I'm ready for anything.' As he spoke the
key turned in the lock, the door opened, and in stumped Henkel. He closed
the door behind him, and stood facing the two young fellows.
'So we meet again, Kenneth Carrington,' he said. Like most German
officers, he spoke excellent English, though with a thick, unpleasant
Ken did not answer. It did not seem worth while. He stood facing the
other, watching him with a slightly contemptuous expression in his clear
'We meet under different conditions from the last time,' continued Henkel.
'There is now no Othman Pacha to protect you from your just fate.'
Ken shrugged his shoulders.
'Why talk that sort of rot? You know just as well as I do that the last