Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

On Land And Sea At The Dardanelles by Thomas Charles Bridges

Part 4 out of 4

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 0.4 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

his cabin.

All that night G2 cruised on the surface, going only at half speed so as
to economise petrol, and at the same time re-charge her dynamos. As for
Ken, tired out with his exertions, he lay upon the throbbing steel floor,
wrapped in a blanket, and slept as peacefully as he had ever slept in his

It was broad day when he woke, feeling more refreshed than for days past,
and quite ready for the plain though plentiful breakfast that was served

A glance which Williams allowed him through the periscope showed an
expanse of bright blue sea sparkling under a clear sky and a light breeze,
but with no sail in sight, and shortly afterwards G2 was submerged until
nothing but her periscope remained above the surface.

By this time the rumour of the expected trooper was all through the little
ship, and there was an air of subdued excitement on every face.

'Where are we now?' asked Ken of Williams.

'Somewhere between Marmora Island and Rodosto. Whatever comes out o' the
Bosphorus for the Dardanelles is bound to run past us, and then--' A wink
said more than words.

The hours dragged by, and Roy began to growl again at the tediousness of
life beneath the ocean wave. Dinner time passed and still there was no
sign of the trooper.

'Looks to me as if news had got abroad that we're a waiting for 'em,'
growled Williams at last. 'Them chaps as got to land last night must ha'
wired to headquarters.'

The other coxswain who was at the periscope at the moment, looked up.

'Then the wires must ha' been down, Joe. She's a coming right now.'

'Let's have a look,' exclaimed Williams, springing across.

'Ay, you're right, Bill. There she is. A big un, too!'

'And, lumme,' he added with a growl, 'a blighted torpedo boat a escorting
of her!'

''Tis only one o' them tin Turkish rattle-traps,' said Bill with a pitying
air. 'The old man'll slap a tin fish into her afore she knows what's hit

As he spoke, the engines were already quickening, and G2 had begun to
glide away at the top speed of her powerful electrics. The deep hum of the
dynamos filled the long interior, and on every face was a look of eager

As for Ken, his heart was throbbing like the dynamos themselves. The
feeling that his father, whom he had hardly hoped ever to see again, was
within a mile or so, had plunged him into such a state of tense excitement
that it was all he could do to control it.

He turned to speak to Williams, but the latter had gone forward, and was
standing by the torpedo in the fore tube.

The other coxswain, too, had gone to his place, and Sub-Lieutenant Hotham
had taken his seat at the forward periscope.

For four minutes, which seemed to Ken like four hours, the submarine drove
onwards in silence. Then came a sharp order from the commander, and she
began to rise.

'What's she coming up for?' asked Roy of Ken in a low voice.

'She's got to, so as to fire her torpedo. You can't fire so long as you're

'But if they see us, they'll let loose with their guns.'

'They've only got the periscopes to shoot at. Take more than Turkish
gunners to hit them.'

'Stand by!' came the crisp order from Commander Strang. 'Three points to
port--one more. Don't miss her, whatever you do, Williams. She's got the
legs of us, and we shan't get a second shot.'

'That's right. Steady now. Shut down! Let go!'

Ken heard a sharp hiss as the compressed air drove the long gray Whitehead
out of its tube, and sent it flashing away on its deadly errand. Young
Hotham sat still as a statue, his eyes glued to the periscope. The rest of
the crew seemed hardly to breathe. As for Ken, his mouth was dry. To him,
more than to any one else aboard, the success or failure of the shot meant

Five, ten, fifteen seconds--then Hotham gave a sharp cry.

'Got her. Got her, by the living jingo! Oh, good shot, Williams!'

As he spoke a dull shock made the whole hull of G2 quiver.

'Hurrah!' shouted Ken, and the cheer was echoed by a score of voices.

'Struck her just aft the engines,' exclaimed Hotham jubilantly. 'Settled
her hash all right. Gad, they've got pluck. They're still shooting. Ah,
did you hear that, Carrington?'--as the submarine quivered again slightly.
'That was a shell. It struck the water not ten yards away.'

'But that's the last,' he continued. 'She's cocking her bows up. Phew, the
whole bottom's knocked out of her. There she goes. She's sinking. Poor
beggars, they haven't time to get out a boat, and we'll never reach 'em in
time to save any of them.'

'Her stern's under. Bow's straight up in the air!' He paused a moment.

'All over,' he added quietly. 'She's gone.' Commander Strang's voice rang
out from farther aft. Ken felt the vessel rising, and a few moments later
a slight swaying told that she was on the surface. Up went the hatch, and
the terrible clatter of the petrol engines replaced the deep purr of the

'I'd give a finger to be on deck,' said Ken to Roy, and for once Roy did
not jeer. He merely nodded, for he knew how desperately anxious Ken was
about his father.

Ken had not long to wait. A few minutes later, an order was passed for
Carrington to go up, and Ken darted up the steel ladder like a

Outside, he found the sun gone, the sky covered with clouds, and a threat
of rain in the cool air. But it was not the weather he thought of. His
eyes were at once fixed upon a large steamer about two miles off to the
southward. Clouds of sooty smoke were pouring from her funnels, and a
yeasty wake trailed away behind her. Taking warning by the fate of her
escort, she was doing all she knew to escape.

'Will she beat us? Will she get away?' Ken asked anxiously of one of the
gun crew.

'Will she spread her little wings an' turn into a waterplane?' replied the
man with a grin. 'Bless you, soldier, she couldn't do more'n fourteen
knots when she come out o' the builder's yard, and that's two more'n she's
going now. You watch an' see how far she gets away.'

A very few moments' watching was enough to convince Ken that G2 was
overhauling her prey hand over fist. Within less than a quarter of an hour
a mile of the steamer's lead had gone. Another five minutes and the
distance between the two was barely twelve hundred yards.

'Hallo, they're getting gay!' remarked the big bluejacket, as rifles began
to spit and bullets to throw up little jets of spray around the rushing

Presently one clanged against the conning tower itself. Commander Strang
gave an order, and a little row of bunting ran up on the tiny mast of the

'"Heave to, or I'll sink you," that means,' observed Ken's friend.

The only response was a thicker hail of bullets. But the low deck of G2,
flying onwards as she was at about twenty-two land miles an hour, made a
poor target, and the Turks failed to do any damage beyond knocking a
little paint off.

'Confound 'em!' growled Strang. 'They haven't got sense enough to come in
out of the rain. Give 'em a shell, Watson.'

The long gray 12-pounder was ready. Her vicious-looking muzzle swung
round. There was a ringing bang, and the shell, small but charged with
deadly lyddite, spun away on its errand.

[Illustration: 'A black-browed officer came to the rail.']

Ken, watching eagerly, saw a bright flash light the side of the steamer,
close under her stern, and as a cloud of smoke floated up, the crash of
the explosion came back to his ears.

The big steamer staggered and yawed right out of her course.

'Capital!' said Strang with strong approval. 'That's hashed her steering.
Signal 'em to heave to, or the next will be in their engine-room.'

There were a few more scattering rifle shots, but the officers on the
transport soon stopped that. The transport herself, with her rudder in
rags, was out of all control. Her engines were stopped, and she lay
sullenly waiting for her saucy little enemy.

Strang gave a sigh of relief.

'Glad they had the sense to shut up,' he said to Ken. 'If they'd gone on
shooting I should have had to sock it into them, and I didn't want to
break my promise to your old Pacha.'

The submarine, smartly handled as usual, glided up close under the tall
side of the transport, and Strang hailed her in French.

A black-browed officer, with angry eyes, came to the rail, and answered in
the same language.

'You have British and French prisoners aboard,' said Strang sharply. 'You
will be good enough to put them all into a boat and send them across.'

'And if I refuse?' retorted the other.

'I shall shell you until you think better of it,' was the calm reply.

The other bit his lips. 'Very well,' he said sullenly. 'I have no choice.'

'Look out for treachery, sir,' said Ken in a low voice. 'That man means
mischief, I believe.'

'He is an ugly looking beggar. But what can he do?'

The words were hardly out of his mouth before the black-browed officer
flung up his arm, with a pistol gripped in his fist, and fired straight at
Commander Strang's head.

Quick as he was, Ken was quicker. As the man's arm came up, so did Ken's,
and seizing Strang by the wrist, he jerked him back.

Before the man could fire a second time, one of the bluejackets had raised
his rifle and shot him through the body.

'Thank you, Carrington,' said the commander, glancing at the gray splash
of lead on the deck, just where he had been standing the previous moment,
'You were right, and I was wrong.

'Speak to them in their own language,' he continued coolly. 'Tell them
I'll blow them out of the water if they try any more tricks of that sort.'

Ken's announcement was followed by dead silence aboard the steamer. Then a
second officer appeared at the rail. He had both hands up.

'We surrender,' he said.

''Bout time, too,' growled the big bluejacket.

Strang repeated his former orders, and this time they were obeyed without
hesitation. Ken's heart beat thickly as he watched the prisoners hurrying
into the boat which had been lowered from her davits to a level with the

'Do you see your father yet?' Strang asked.

'Not yet, sir,' Ken answered, with his eyes fixed on the fast-filling

'Sixteen--seventeen--eighteen,' he counted mechanically. Suddenly a slight
cry escaped his lips, and he started forward.

'Father!' he shouted loudly.

An upright man with keen blue eyes, a man of about fifty, but whose hair
and moustache were almost white, was in the act of getting to the boat. At
Ken's cry, he started violently, stopped short and stared incredulously in
the direction of the sound.

'Father!' shouted Ken again.

'You, Ken?' The tone was one of utter amazement.

'It's me all right, dad,' Ken answered in a voice which shook a little in
spite of himself.

Before their eyes the other seemed to shake off ten years of age. He
sprang into the boat as lightly as a boy. Three more followed, making
twenty-two in all. Then the blocks creaked, and the boat was rapidly
lowered to the water.

Oars began to ply vigorously, and she shot across the intervening space,
and a minute later was alongside the submarine.

'You must wait there, please, gentlemen,' said Strang courteously. 'I have
to deal with the troops at once. Keep well astern.'

Ken was aching to greet his father, but there was plenty for him to do for
the moment. He had to translate the commander's orders, which were that
all those aboard the steamer should get away at once in the boats. He gave
them twenty minutes for the operation.

They were the longest twenty minutes Ken every knew, but they were over at
last. The crowded boats pulled slowly away in a northerly direction, the
big steamer floated empty and helpless.

'Do we board her, sir?' asked young Hotham of Strang.

'Yes, I'll save my torpedoes while I can. Put a good charge of gun-cotton
in her hold. Quick as you can, Hotham. We may have a destroyer down on us
any minute. You may be sure they had plenty of time to use their

He turned to the boatful of released prisoners. They were of every sort,
young and old--French, English, with even one or two Russians and

'Gentlemen,' he said briefly, 'I can't ask you all aboard. The reason is
obvious. In a submarine there is only room for a certain number, and I am
already three beyond my proper complement. The question is, what I am to
do with you for your safety, and I should be obliged if two of you would
come aboard to discuss matters with me. One whom I will specially ask is
Captain Carrington.'

Ken's breath came quickly as he watched his father step across out of the
boat on to the steel deck of G2, but like the trained soldier that he was,
he did not move. Strang, however, had not forgotten him.

'You shall have your father to yourself as soon as we have settled
things,' he said, as he passed him.

Mr Ramsay, who had been manager of a British bank at Constantinople, was
the other delegate from the boat. He and Ken's father both shook hands
with Strang.

'We are most deeply indebted to you, Commander Strang,' said Captain
Carrington.' We never hoped for such luck as to find a British vessel
already in the Marmora.

'Ours is unfortunately the only sort that can get through at present,
sir,' said Strang with a smile.' And after all, I don't know that you have
much cause for gratitude. I can't ferry you home through the Straits, for
in the first place I can't carry you, and in the second I have my job to
do up here. There is only one thing I can think of.' Here he lowered his
voice, so that Ken could hear no more. But presently he saw the others
nod, evidently agreeing to the proposal, whatever it was.

[Illustration: 'Ken's hand gripped that of father.']

Mr Ramsay went back to the boat, and she was at once taken in tow. The
screws began to revolve again, and G2 swung round in a half circle, and
headed due east, running on the surface.

Next minute Ken's hand gripped that of his father.

For a moment neither of them could speak. They had not seen one another
for two long years, and both had so much to say that they did not know
where to begin.

Strang, with his usual kindly tact, touched Ken on the shoulder.

'Take your father for'ard of the conning tower. You can talk there without
interruption. We shall be on the surface for the present.'

Ken thanked him gratefully, and they both went forward, and there, leaning
against the gray steel of the little turret, with the small waves lapping
over the turtle-back forward, Ken told his father how their strange
meeting had come about.

Then Captain Carrington gave his son a brief sketch of his two years'
imprisonment. It had not been as bad as it might, for the kindly Othman
Pacha had used what interest he possessed to get his friend shut up in a
fortress instead of the usual horrible Turkish jail. Still it had been bad
enough, and the worst of it, the deep anxiety he had felt for Ken.

'Well, that's all over, dad, thank goodness,' said Ken. 'Everything will
be all right now. It's only a matter of time before we force the
Dardanelles, and--'

'A matter of time,' broke in the other with the quizzical smile that Ken
remembered so well. 'Just so, my boy, but I'm afraid you are forgetting
something. What are we to do meanwhile? Here we are, in the heart of
Turkish territory, and no way out. It's rather early to say that our
troubles are all over, isn't it?'

Ken's face fell. In his delight at meeting his father again, he had quite
forgotten the difficulties still before them.

'But--but I thought that Lieutenant Strang had a plan,' he stammered.
'He's towing the boat somewhere.'

His father nodded.

'Yes, I suppose it need be no secret from you. He is taking us, or trying
to take us, to a certain cave on the south shore of the sea. It is one of
the hidden petrol bases which are supplied by friendly Armenians. But,
even if we get there safely, there is always the risk of discovery by the
enemy, as well as difficulties of provisioning so many of us. And we may
not even get there. Supposing that an enemy ship appears in chase, and the
submarine has to submerge, what then?'

Ken gazed at his father blankly. Before he could speak again a sharp hail
came from the look-out in the conning tower.

'Ship in sight, sir!'



Ken and his father were both on their feet in an instant. While they had
been talking it had turned misty. It was only a haze, but it blurred the
horizon so that at first they could not see the vessel.

But presently Ken pointed.

'There she is. Do you see, dad?'

Captain Carrington nodded.

'I see her, Ken, but my eyes are not what they were. I can't tell what she

At this moment Lieutenant Strang stepped up to them.

'It's just as I was afraid, sir,' he said quietly. 'There appears to be
something after us. It's so thick I can hardly make out what she is yet,
but in any case it's precious awkward.'

'Very awkward indeed,' admitted Captain Carrington. 'Alone, you would be
all right, for you could submerge of course, but if so you leave us
prisoners to be picked up again. Still, of course, there is no choice. You
must not risk your ship.'

Strang bit his lip. He knew that Captain Carrington was right. But it went
bitterly against the grain to abandon the people whom he had rescued with
so much trouble. As for Ken, the idea of losing his father again just
after he had found him sent his spirits down to zero.

After a moment's thought, Strang spoke again. 'I might leave the boat,
sir, and tackle this fellow, whoever he is. It's on the cards I might sink
him and come back again and pick you up.'

'That might be worth trying,' answered Captain Carrington. And he spoke as
calmly as if the upshot was of absolutely no consequence to him whatever.

Ken, who had been staring hard at the approaching craft, turned quickly to
the commander.

'Couldn't you capture her, sir?' he said eagerly.

Strang stared as if he thought that Ken had suddenly taken leave of his

'Capture her?' he repeated.

'Yes, sir. Then you could put all the prisoners aboard her, and they could
find their own way to the hiding place. And Horan and myself, too,

Strang gave a low whistle.

''Pon my soul, it's an idea. Especially as, being an enemy ship, she
wouldn't be so likely to be searched.'

'It would be very nice for us if it could be managed,' said Captain
Carrington with a smile. 'But I suppose it is quite out of the question,
Mr Strang?'

'It all depends on what she is, sir,' replied Strang, as he put up his
binoculars and focused them on the indistinct patch on the misty horizon.

Presently he put them down.

'She's nothing but a launch,' he said quickly. 'Armed, of course, but
probably only a 6-pounder. I'm hanged if I don't try it.'

'Very good,' said Captain Carrington, speaking as calmly as ever. 'I will
go back into the boat, and tell my friends. By the bye, how would it do to
use us as bait for the trap? If you were merely to submerge, and lie close
by with only your periscopes showing, it seems to me that you might manage
to take them unawares.'

'I've got a better plan than that, sir,' broke in Ken quickly. 'Put Horan
and myself in the boat. Give us some pistols. We'll sham shipwrecked. Most
of us can hide in the bottom of the boat. The launch won't have much of a
crew. With a rush we might overpower them.'

The boldness of Ken's suggestion made both men gasp. Strang was the first
to speak.

'It's a big risk, but it might work. Are you willing, Captain Carrington?'

A grim smile parted the lips of Ken's father.

'Willing! It would make me young again.'

Strang's decision was taken like a flash.

'It goes, then. And I'll lend you a couple of my men as well. Williams and
Johnston. Hefty chaps in a scrimmage, and both equal to engines of any
kind. But we must be smart. This must be done before the Turks get any
notion of what is up.'

He dashed back to the conning tower, and orders flew like hail. The men
were equally quick to obey. Williams and Johnston came tumbling up, and
Roy hard at their heels.

'What's up?' demanded Roy eagerly of Ken, and when Ken had quickly
explained, the big New Zealander's face fairly glowed with delight.

'Fine, oh fine!' he cried. 'I began to think we were never going to get
another chance. 'It's the greatest scheme you ever thought of, Ken.'

Two more bluejackets rushed up, with armfuls of cutlasses.

'Commander says these are the jokers for a scrimmage,' one told Ken, as
they hurriedly passed them across to the people in the boat.

'He's right,' said Roy, 'but we shall want a pistol or two as well.'

'Plenty here, Horan,' said Williams, the torpedo coxswain, holding up a
couple of the big regulation Navy revolvers. 'It's all right. We've got
all we want. Come along in, you two soldiers.'

Ken and Roy tumbled aboard the boat, other three of the ex-prisoners, who
were too old or infirm to be any use as fighters, were hastily transferred
to the submarine.

Inside of three minutes all was ready, the warp was cast off, and the
steel hatch in the conning tower dropped with a clang. In a trice G2 began
to sink, and within an incredibly short space of time she had dipped out
of sight beneath the sea, and the boat lay alone on the surface, rocking
slightly to the send of the small gray waves.

For the first time Ken had leisure to glance round at his companions.
Including Roy, himself, Williams, and Johnston, the full number was
twenty-three, and of them all there was not one who did not look keen and
eager for the fray. All had suffered at the hands of the enemy, some had
lost all they had in the world. Every man was anxious to get a little of
his own back. By the way they gripped the cutlasses that had been served
out, by their grim faces, and eager eyes, Ken felt certain that there
would be no hesitation when the critical moment arrived.

'What is the craft?' asked Roy, who was crowding close beside him.

'Nothing but a launch,' Ken answered.

'She looks pretty big for a launch,' said Roy, staring at the vessel which
was now near enough to see the shape of her.

'Oh, I dare say she's a fifty-footer. And no doubt she carries a good few
men. And a gun, too. It's not going to be any picnic, old chap. Our only
chance is a surprise.'

'And there won't be much surprise about it, if we let them see how many
men we have aboard,' cut in Captain Carrington briskly. The years had
dropped away from him, and he was again the naval officer.

'Get down, Ken, and you too, Horan. Williams and Johnston, hide yourselves
under that tarpaulin forward.'

Very shortly all the younger men of the party were stowed away, some under
the thwarts, others under a couple of tarpaulins which Strang had put in
for the purpose. All weapons were carefully hidden, and the dozen older
men, who were all that were left in sight, were directed to loll about, as
though suffering from long exposure or fatigue.

The haze was thickening, so there was little danger of the people aboard
the launch noticing the manoeuvre.

The launch had, however, sighted the boat. There was no doubt about that,
for she had altered her course, and was coming straight towards them.

'Beastly fuggy under here!' growled Roy in Ken's ear.

'Take it easy, old chap. We shan't have long to wait.'

Ken's father heard, and bent down.

'She's within a mile. Mind you don't move till I give the word.'

'All right, dad,' came the muffled response from under the tarpaulin. 'How
big is she?'

'A good size. She looks as if she carried a score of men. And there's a
6-pounder in her bows.'

Soon she was so near that Ken clearly heard the beat of her engine. His
breath came quick and short. The critical moment was very near.

The revolutions slackened, and a man hailed from the launch, speaking, to
Ken's dismay, in harsh German.

'Who are you? What are you doing there?' the speaker demanded

'We are British and French from Constantinople,' answered Captain
Carrington, using the same language. 'We were aboard the Turkish transport
"Bergaz" which was sunk earlier in the day by a British submarine.'

'Blitzen!' exclaimed the German angrily. 'Then the message was true after
all. Those verdomde British have managed to pass the mine-fields.

'And where is the submarine?' he demanded savagely.

'She was forced to abandon us. One of your warships hove in sight.'

The German paused a moment. His eyes scanned the surface in every
direction. But there was no sign of G 2's periscopes. Either she had gone
under altogether, or withdrawn to such a distance that her periscopes were
invisible in the mist.

'Train the gun on them,' growled the German officer. Then, raising his
voice, 'If this is a trap, every one of you will pay for it with your

'I have told you the literal truth,' said Captain Carrington coldly. 'You
can take us or leave us as you wish.'

Again the German hesitated.

'The safest way will be to haul off and sink them,' he said to a Turk who
stood beside him. He spoke in Turkish, but Ken, of course, understood, and
knowing the brutality of the average German officer, felt anything but

Apparently the Turkish officer had different views, for after a short
conversation the German gave an order, and the launch moved forward again.

Ken, though he could not see what was happening, heard the beat of her
screw, and every nerve in his body tingled. As for Captain Carrington and
the rest, they sat in their places, not moving an inch, and doing their
best to convey the idea that they were quite worn out, and cared not at
all whether they were retaken or not.

Yet, under his coat, or in his pocket, each man gripped his revolver,
while his cutlass lay handy at his feet.

The launch came on slowly, and her crew fortunately were hardly noticing
the boat. Their eyes were busy, searching the misty surface for the
periscope of their deadly enemy.

Only the German seemed to have any suspicion concerning those in the boat.
When the launch was within about half a dozen yards, he spoke again.

'You there, Englishman, stand up!' he ordered sharply. 'You, I mean, the
one who speaks German.'

Captain Carrington rose leisurely to his feet.

'You will be the first to pay for treachery,' said the German fiercely.
'Put your hands up.'

Ken quivered. To him it sounded as though his father's death warrant had
been sounded. At the first sign of attack the German would shoot him. Yet
he had his orders, and he dared not move.

It seemed an age before he felt a slight jar. It was the launch touching
the boat.

'What's under that tarpaulin?' came the sharp question from the German.

Crack! Crack! Two shots rang out simultaneously. There was a scream and
the sound of a heavy splash.

Ken waited no longer. Like a flash he flung aside the tarpaulin, and
leaped to his feet. The German was gone, he was struggling in the water
and one of their own men was lying writhing in the bottom of the boat.

'Up and at 'em!' came a hurricane yell from Williams, and with one bound
the big coxswain had leaped aboard the launch, and was laying about him
with his cutlass.

Ken waited just long enough to make sure that his father was not hurt,
then followed.

He heard the Turkish officer shout an order for full steam ahead. The
launch darted forward, but it was too late. Johnston and another man
detailed for the purpose had already flung grappling irons across. The
launch drew the boat with her, close alongside.

'Out, ye black-faced blighter!' roared Williams, as he cut down a great
burly Turk who was swinging at him with a rifle butt.

Inside ten seconds every mother's son in the boat had reached the deck of
the launch, and a regular hand-to-hand battle raged.

The launch was heavily manned, and after their first surprise the Turks
pulled themselves together and fought desperately. Though the launch was a
big one, yet there was not much room on her decks for nearly fifty
fighting men, and Ken found himself literally wedged in the centre of a
tight-packed mob, which swayed from side to side as the fighters struggled
frantically for elbow room.

In a way this told in favour of the Britishers. The short, heavy Navy
cutlasses were much better adapted for a melee of this sort than the
rifles and bayonets with which the Turks were armed.

Ken found himself up against a tall, brown-faced fellow who looked like an
Arab and was armed with a long sword. He made a fearful slash at Ken, and
though Ken saved his head by a guard with his cutlass, he was beaten to
his knees.

Up went the Arab's sword again, Ken saw the glitter in his savage eyes,
and thought it was all over when, in the very nick of time, a revolver
spat and turned the fierce face into a blood-stained horror.

Struggling up, he saw Roy leap past and fire a second time at a man who
was swinging at him with a rifle butt. The latter, hit in the shoulder,
staggered, caught his heels in the rail, and went backwards into the sea.

On every side revolvers were cracking, there was a confused medley of
blows, yells, and oaths. And all the time the launch, with no one at the
tiller, and the boat fast alongside, charged wildly across the sea.

Man for man, the Turks were better fighters than the boarders, most of
whom were civilians and unaccustomed to the use of weapons. But the latter
were fighting for their lives and were splendidly led by Captain
Carrington, Ken, Roy, and the two big sailor men. It was really the latter
five who carried the day. They were everywhere at once, slashing and
shooting like demons, and by degrees the Turks fell back before them.

Half a dozen or more were driven over the side into the sea, and left
perforce to drown.

At last the Turks broke and gave way. Some dropped their weapons and flung
up their hands in token of surrender.

'They've surrendered!' cried Captain Carrington. 'Give them quarter.'

At that moment Ken saw a Turkish officer, his face covered with blood,
spring out of the crowd aft and rush forward.

'Look out there!' he shouted, and wrenching himself loose from the press,
raced after the man.

The officer, however, had a long start, and before Ken could catch him,
had reached the gun and was swinging it round.

'Look out!' yelled Ken again, as he realised what the man was after. He
was desperate, and meant to turn the gun full upon the packed crowd,
destroying friend and foe alike.

He had got the gun round, his finger was almost on the button when Ken
reached him, and going at him head down, like a Rugby tackier, flung both
arms around his waist.

[Illustration: 'On every side revolvers were cracking.']

With a fierce exclamation, the man hit out with his fist, but the blow
fell harmlessly on Ken's back. Then, twining both hands in Ken's collar,
he made a frantic effort to break his grip and fling him aside.

Ken held on like grim death. If he failed, it meant death for all his
friends. The other was a powerful, wiry man in the prime of life, while
Ken had not yet come to his full strength. For some seconds they struggled
fiercely, the Turk exerting every effort to reach the gun, Ken straining
frantically to hold him off.

Ken's heel caught in a ring bolt. He felt himself falling, but managed to
drag the other down with him. But his own head struck the deck with such
force as to half stun him, and he felt his grip relaxing.

'Dog, you shall die with the rest!' hissed the other, as at last he tore
himself free, and sprang to the gun.

But Ken was not done yet. He had fallen almost under the gun, and swiftly
lifting one foot he kicked out desperately at the gray barrel above him.

There was a crash which nearly deafened him, and for a moment he believed
that the madman had succeeded in his awful purpose. Then a tall figure
sprang across him, and with a shout Roy drove his fist into the Turk's

Up went the man's arms, he staggered back and fell into the sea.

'Well done, Ken!' cried Roy. 'That's finished it.'

Ken scrambled to his feet and stared round in amazement.

'W--Where did the shell go?' he stammered.

'Somewhere in the direction of Constantinople,' was the reply. 'Your kick
did it, Ken.'

'It's all right,' he added jubilantly.' The rest of the chaps have given
in. The launch is ours.'



'It seemed shabby to leave you to do all the fighting, but if I had come
into it I'm afraid you'd have been left without a ship.'

The speaker was Lieutenant Strang, who stood on the deck of G2, which had
risen again and was lying alongside the launch.

'It was your fellows who won the battle for us,' answered Captain
Carrington cheerfully. 'I wish to congratulate you on the possession of
two such men as Williams and Johnston.' Williams stepped forward and
touched his cap.

'If you please, sir, the captain here and his son and Horan, they did as
much as any. But all on 'em fought like good 'uns.'

'What are your losses, sir?' asked the lieutenant of Captain Garrington.

'Two killed, three rather badly wounded.'

'You got off lightly. There don't seem to be many Turks left.'

'Only nine alive, and of those four are wounded.'

'Are the launch's engines all right?'

'Nothing wrong with them,' answered the captain, 'so Williams tells me.'

'Well, it's getting late and very thick. You had better follow me, and I
will escort you to the place we spoke of. The Turks who are sound can take
the boat and be towed until we are off one of the islands, when we can
cast them off and they can land.'

Ken stepped up to his father, and said something in a low voice. A
slightly startled expression appeared on the captain's face.

'You think it possible, Ken?' he said sharply.

'I do. I believe we could get through.'

'Then I will suggest it to Lieutenant Strang.

'Lieutenant Strang,' he called. 'Before we start I have a suggestion to
make. I will come across if you will permit me.'

'Certainly, sir.'

The launch lay so close to the submarine that it was easy for the Captain
to spring across. Strang met him, and for some moments the two talked in

At first the commander of the submarine seemed unwilling to agree to the
captain's proposal, but presently Ken, who was watching breathlessly, saw
him nod his head.

Then the captain smiled, and turning leaped lightly back on to the launch.

'It's all right, Ken,' he said. 'We are going to try it.'

'Hurrah!' cried Ken in high delight.

'Try what?' demanded Roy. 'Hang it all! Don't keep us in the dark. What's
all the mystery about?' Ken glanced at his father.

'All right,' said the latter. 'Every one must know and agree before we

'Gentlemen,' he said, addressing the anxious crowd who surrounded him, 'my
son has suggested that we might do something better than go and lie up for
an indefinite time in the hiding-place which would be our only possible
refuge on these shores, and where we should be in constant danger from the
enemy. His idea is that we might make a dash back down the Straits.'

'Mais, it would be ze madness!' exclaimed an elderly Frenchman, with a
gray imperial and a blood-stained bandage around his head. 'Zey would sink

'So they would under ordinary circumstances,' agreed the captain. 'But the
night and--more than that--the fog are in our favour. Besides this launch
is Turkish, and we have several people aboard who can speak the language.'

'But ze mines!' objected the Frenchman.

'There again we are fairly safe. The launch is of such shallow draught
that she will easily pass over the mine-fields. Floating mines we must of
course risk, but there are not likely to be many about, for the Turks only
send them down when an attack is expected. One other point is in our
favour. This launch is fast. With any luck, we shall be through the
Straits and in safety long before daylight.'

The Frenchman nodded.

'Vair well, Monsieur le Capitaine. For me, I am satisfied.'

'I think we all are,' said an elderly Englishman named Symons.

The captain looked round, but no one offered any objection.

'Then it is decided,' he said quietly, and proceeded to issue his orders
as briskly as he had done, years before, on his own quarter-deck.

The Turks were transferred to the empty boat, and taken in tow by the
submarine. Johnston went back to G2, but Williams remained as engineer in
charge of the launch. The dead Turks were put overboard, and the traces of
the fight quickly removed.

Then Strang bade them farewell and good luck, the engines began to move,
the screw churned the water, and the prize, heading westwards, sped
rapidly towards the mouth of the Straits.

Williams, who was the sort of man who could tackle anything in the way of
machinery, from a sewing machine to a Dreadnought's turbines, soon got the
hang of the launch's engines.

'They're a bit of all right,' he said to Ken and Roy, who had volunteered
as stokers and oilers. 'Blowed if I thought them Turks had anything as
good. But I reckon this here craft come from Germany.'

'She certainly can leg it,' observed Ken, as he noticed how the whole
fabric of the little craft quivered under the drive of the rapidly
revolving screw.

'Ay, and I reckon we'll need all she's got afore we're through,' replied
Williams dryly, as he squirted oil into a bearing.

'We ought to be all right if the fog holds,' said Ken.

'Ay, if it does. I'll allow it's thick enough up here, but there ain't no
saying what it'll be down in them straits. Fogs is uncertain things at
best and you never can tell when you'll run out o' one into clear

Williams's warning made Ken feel distinctly uneasy, and every few minutes
he kept looking out to see what the weather was doing. But so far from
clearing, the mist seemed to thicken, until it was as gray and wet as the
Channel on a late autumn day. Night, too, was closing down, and soon it
was so dark that one end of the vessel could not be seen from the other.

The distance to the mouth of the Straits was about thirty miles, and the
Straits themselves have a length of thirty-five. The launch was good for
fifteen knots, and though it would not be possible to go at full speed
through the Narrows, they hoped, barring accidents, to do the journey in
about five hours.

Having done two hours' work, Ken and Roy were relieved, and after a much
needed wash, went into the cabin for a mouthful of food. Then Ken went
forward, to find his father, wearing a rough black oilskin, combining the
duties of look-out and skipper. At the wheel was a young Englishman named
Morgan, an amateur yachtsman who knew the Straits like the palm of his

'Where are we now, dad?' asked Ken.

'Opposite Bulair.'

'What--in the Straits?'

'At their mouth, Ken.'

'We haven't wasted much time, then.'

'Indeed we haven't. But I am afraid we shall have to slow a bit now. The
fog is thicker than ever, there are no lights, and we don't want to come
to an ignominious end by piling ourselves up on the cliffs.

'Still the fog's our best friend,' he continued, 'and we have plenty of
time before us. If we average no more than half-speed we should be clear
before daylight.'

For another twenty minutes they carried on at full speed through the
choking smother, then Captain Carrington rang to reduce speed.

'We're off Gallipoli now,' he said. 'That's where I should have been by
this time, Ken, if G 2 had not popped up just at the proper moment.'

'It isn't exactly a salubrious spot,' Ken answered with a smile. 'The
"Lizzie" has been chucking her 15-inchers into the town whenever she
hadn't anything else to do.'

For the next two hours the launch nosed her way cautiously
south-westwards, through the wet smother. Most of the time she kept fairly
close under the Asiatic shore. There were fewer forts that side, and less
danger therefore of attracting attention.

During the whole of that time she never sighted so much as a rowing boat.
The Straits were as empty as a country lane on a winter night.

About eleven Ken, who had done another spell of stoking, went forward
again to where his father kept his ceaseless watch.

'Getting near the Narrows, aren't we?' he asked in a low voice.

'We are, Ken. If my reckoning is right Nagara Point is almost on our port

'There's a light of some sort just ahead, sir,' said Morgan from the

'I see it too,' said Ken quickly. 'Can it be from the fort?'

Quickly the captain rang to slow still more. With barely steerage way the
launch moved noiselessly forward. There followed some moments of
breathless silence, while the three stared at the dull mysterious glow
which was now almost exactly ahead.

'It's a craft of some sort,' said Ken in a sharp whisper. 'The light's

'You're right. Starboard a trifle, Morgan.'

Again a pause. Then Ken spoke again.

'It's a tug, father. She's towing a string of barges. She's going across
to Maidos.'

'Then I know what they're doing,' said Morgan.' They're taking stores
across from the Asiatic side. I heard they had started that game since our
submarines began to worry them in the Marmora.'

'I thought as much,' Captain Carrington answered quietly. 'Then it is up
to us to stop it.'

Ken glanced quickly at his father, but there was not light to see his
face. It was Morgan who voiced his thought.

'We shall bring the fire of all the batteries down on us,' he said.

'Of course,' Captain Carrington's voice was calm as ever. 'Starboard
another point, Morgan. Ken, call Dimmock. He's an ex-gunnery lieutenant,
and can handle the 6-pounder.'

'I'm here already, sir,' came a voice out of the gloom. I saw the light,
and guessed what was up.'

'I can help, father,' said Ken. 'Ah, and here's Roy.'

All three sprang forward to the gun. It had already been loaded and a
dozen spare shells were ready alongside.

'This is luck,' said Roy in a gleeful whisper, as he ranged himself
alongside the gun. He, like the rest, was perfectly well aware that the
first shot they fired would bring down on them the concentrated fire of
all the batteries on both shores, and that their chances of escape were
hardly worth considering. But this did not weigh for a moment, if they
were able to strike a blow for the Empire.

The revolutions were increasing, the launch moved more rapidly down upon
her quarry.

'Three barges!' exclaimed Roy. 'Big 'uns, too! I say, there must be tons
of stuff aboard. Jove, won't the Turks be sick?'

'We must get the tug first,' said Dimmock, who, though a man of forty, was
as keen as a boy. 'If we can slap it into her first, we can deal with the
barges at our leisure.'

As he spoke he was squinting along the barrel, his right hand busy with
the sighting screw.

'Hang this fog!' he muttered. 'I can hardly see what I'm shooting at.'

The launch was now within little more than a hundred yards of the tug
which was puffing noisily along, her string of barges tailing heavily down
the current, and her crew utterly unaware of the hidden danger gliding
down upon them through the fog.

'I'm beastly rusty,' continued Dimmock. 'Still, I hardly think I can miss
her at this range.'

As he spoke his finger pressed the electric button, and the gun barked
with that ear-splitting crack peculiar to the 6-pounder.

The tug staggered and rang like an iron drum.

'Not much miss about that!' cried Roy triumphantly. 'You must have got her
slap in the boilers.'

'No, it was too high,' said Dimmock in a discontented tone.' This gun
jumps a bit. Sharp there, with that other shell.'

Roy slipped it in as though it were a toy, the breech-block snicked to,
and five seconds later a second report roused the echoes.

'That's better,' said Dimmock, as a flash of flame rose from the midships
section of the tug. 'Ah, there goes her funnel! She's a goner.'

He was right. The tug swung round to the current, and, with engines
stopped, drifted idly down the Straits.

'What's the matter? They haven't begun to fire yet,' said Roy quickly, as
he thrust a third shell into the open breech.

[Illustration: 'Up shot a sheet of crimson flame.']

'So much the better for us,' Ken answered. 'Mr Dimmock, this one ought to
do for the nearest barge.'

Hastily Dimmock sighted again at the blunt, low-lying object which loomed
dimly ahead in the wet darkness.

Once more the smart little gun spoke, but the crack of the report had
hardly sounded before it was drowned by the most appalling crash. Up from
the stricken barge shot a sheet of crimson flame, a blaze of fire which
mounted a hundred feet into the murky air, and in spite of fog and mist
flung its glare upon the iron cliffs on either side the narrow straits.

The launch shuddered as though she had struck a reef, and the blast from
the explosion flung every soul who was standing up flat upon her decks.

Hard upon the roar came a wave, a wave which rose high over the bows of
the long, slim craft, and swept across her in a torrent of cold, salt

It washed Ken back against the rail, which he clutched at desperately, and
so saved himself from going overboard.

Dazed and confused, he struggled to his feet.

'Roy!' he cried thickly, 'Roy!'

'All right. We're all right,' came a hoarse reply, and Roy's tall figure
rose from close under the opposite rail, and grasping Dimmock, lugged him
to his feet.

'Gad, that's done the trick!' he panted. 'The other barges are gone. So's
the tug. We've bust the whole caboodle.'

From aft came Captain Carrington's voice, shouting for 'Full speed ahead!'

Time, too, for the gunners in the forts, recovering from their paralysed
amazement, were already getting busy and the roar of great guns was
followed by the rocket-like hiss of shells.

Like a frightened hare the launch gathered speed and darted away
downstream. Shells, each big enough to smash her to kindling, fell on
every side, but the gunners on both sides were firing too high, and by a
series of miracles the launch was not touched.

Searchlights sprang out, their white fingers feeling through the murk. But
no searchlight ever made will penetrate a thousand yards of fog, and the
dull glares only served to warn the steersman of the launch of dangers to
be avoided.

'Jove, we'll do it yet, Ken,' cried Roy, shouting so as to be heard above
the thunderous din of the guns.

'It will be a miracle if we do,' Ken answered. 'Remember we have to run
the gauntlet all the way down.'

'It doesn't follow,' Roy said quickly. 'They haven't seen us, and they'll
take it for granted that it must have been a submarine. Why, even the
sweepers haven't ventured up here.'

'I only hope you're right,' replied Ken fervently.

'Ah!' he broke off, as a shell whizzed over so near they felt the wind of
it. 'That was close.'

By this they had passed Nagara, and turning due south were rushing past
the big fort of Kosi Kale. For the moment the tempest of shell had died
away behind them.

'I told you so,' said Roy jubilantly. 'They've chucked it. If we don't
whack into a beastly mine we shall get clear.'

Indeed, it almost seemed as though he was right. The firing slackened,
then stopped completely, and the launch, still untouched, sped through the
gloom. Her crew, almost unable to credit such amazing luck, stood about
the decks staring out into the darkness, occasionally exchanging a word or
two in low voices.

'We're in the Narrows,' said Ken. 'See that luminous patch over to the
left. That's Chanak.'

'Almost the same spot where the trawlers were scuppered,' answered Roy.

'Just so. If Fort Hamidieh doesn't open out, we ought really to be all
right. We shall be in broader waters.' He took out his watch and glanced
at its luminous dial.

'In three minutes we shall know one way or the other,' he added.

For the next hundred and eighty seconds there was no sound but the steady
swish of the bow wave and the beat of the powerful engines.

Ken shut his watch with a snap.

'All right. We're past.'

The words were not out of his mouth before there came a ringing report,
and a shell, screaming through the air, smacked into the water about a
length astern.

'A twelve-pounder!' said Ken sharply, as he turned. 'Ah!' as a blaze of
light sprang out about half a mile aft, 'that's why they stopped firing.
There's a destroyer after us.'



Ken was right. That was why the firing had stopped. A destroyer, which
must have been lying in some cove up the Straits, had been summoned by
wireless to take revenge on the bold intruder. She was now dashing
headlong in pursuit.

Roy stared at the dull white glare which came momentarily nearer.

'Rotten luck!' he observed disgustedly. 'None of the "conquering hero" in
ours, I'm afraid, old man.'

'Afraid not,' Ken answered resignedly. 'The brute's got the legs of us,
and it'll only take one o' those twelve-pounders to settle our hash.
Still, it's no use crying till we're hurt, and the Turks ain't the best
gunners in the world.'

'Crash!' Another shell screamed out of the mist.

'Nearer!' said Roy grimly, as the ugly missile fell alongside, sending up
a fountain of brine.

'Watch her, doing the outside edge!' he continued, as the launch curved
swiftly to port. 'That'll throw 'em off their shooting. Ah, I told you
so'--as the third shell went wide.

'We can't shoot back,' growled Dimmock. 'That's the worst of these rotten
little bow guns.'

'No, it's simply a matter of running and dodging,' said Ken, and turning
went back to where his father was standing.

'Poor luck, Ken,' said the latter with his usual calmness. 'The beggar's
gaining hand over fist. She's at least five knots faster than we.'

'Well, we've hurt the Turks a jolly sight worse than they can hurt us,
that's one comfort, dad,' Ken replied. 'They can't replace that

Before his father could answer, a shell from the destroyer passed so close
overhead that the wind of it flung them both down. There was a splintering
crash, and the launch quivered all over.

'Hurt, father?' cried Ken, springing up.

'Not a bit, thanks. But I'm afraid the launch is.'

'She's still moving anyhow. No, it's only carried away a bit of the cabin
top. We're all right still.'

The searchlight grew clearer every moment. Already the hull of the flying
launch began to show up in the misty radiance. Her steersman sent her
shooting in wide curves, and so succeeded in upsetting the aim of the
Turkish gunners. But it was only putting off the inevitable end, and that
was clear to every soul aboard.

[Illustration: 'The deck-house melted in a shower of splinters.']

'It's no use, dad,' said Ken, as another shell cut away the top of the
stumpy funnel. We can't get away. Let's finish, fighting.'

'Turn and try to ram her?'

'Yes, and Dimmock might by luck get a shell into her. He's a pretty nippy
shot in spite of being out of practice.'

'All right, Ken. I'd rather die fighting than running.'

He raised his voice.

'Mr Morgan, put her hard aport! Dimmock, here's your chance for a last

Round came the launch, turning on her keel like a racing yacht, and
straight she sped for her big pursuer. The latter was evidently taken
aback by this unexpected manoeuvre, and for a moment her searchlight lost
the launch.

The moment the glare was gone the hull of the destroyer showed up dark
against the mist.

'Now's your chance, Dimmock!' cried Ken, and almost instantly the little
gun spoke, and the crash was followed by a flash which lit the destroyer's

'Oh, good shot, Dimmock!' exclaimed the captain. 'That shell exploded
right under her bridge.

For a moment the destroyer yawed right off her course, but she was under
control again in a few seconds, and her forward gun spoke once more.

The flash was followed by a tremendous shock, and the launch, with her
rudder and part of her stern carried away, spun round helplessly, and
began to drift downstream.

'That's finished it,' groaned Roy.

Again the destroyer's gun roared, and the deckhouse melted in a shower of
splinters. Ken, struck on the leg by one of them, toppled over helplessly.
His leg felt numb, he could not move. There was nothing for it now but to
await the inevitable end.

Crash! Vaguely Ken realised that this was a heavier gun than the
12-pounders of the destroyer. He heard a shell roar overhead, then from
the destroyer, now no more than a hundred yards away, rose a blinding

'Hurrah!' he heard Roy shout, but the reason he could not imagine. He made
a desperate effort to struggle up, felt the blood gush hot from his wound.
His head spun, he fell back and knew no more.

Coming back to consciousness after being knocked out is always a slow and
painful business. The first thing that Ken's muddled brain took in was the
surprising fact that he was lying in a real bed between beautifully clean

He had not been in such a bed for more than six months, and he could not
understand it at all.

Slowly he opened his eyes, and looked up at a whitewashed ceiling. Through
a window opposite the sun was shining and a warm breeze blowing.

'I suppose I'm dreaming,' he said at last, and was surprised to hear how
weak and husky his voice seemed.

Some one rose quickly from a chair beside the bed.

'My dear lad,' came his father's voice.

Ken stared at him.

'Is it real?' he asked vaguely. 'Where am I?'

'Absolutely genuine, my boy,' answered Captain Carrington, smiling. 'You
are in hospital in Lemnos, and here you've been for two days. We began to
think you were never coming round again.'

'I'm sorry I frightened you,' said Ken, 'but I wish you'd tell me how I
got here. I had a sort of impression that I ought to be at the bottom of
the Dardanelles.'

'The marvel is that we were not all there,' answered his father gravely.
'It was the cruiser "Carnelian" that saved us at the very last moment by
putting a six-inch shell into the Turkish destroyer.'

'But how on earth did she come to be there, right up the Straits?' Ken
asked amazedly.

'That was Strang's doing. The good chap sent a wireless asking them to
look out for us.'

'Jove, that was smart of him,' Ken said smilingly. 'But Roy, dad? Is Roy
all right?'

'Quite right. He has rejoined his regiment.'

Ken's face fell.

'What about me, dad? Don't say I shan't be able to do the same.'

'There is no need to say anything of the sort, my boy,' replied his father
quickly. 'The only trouble with you is that you lost more blood than was
good for you. The splinter cut a small artery. I have no doubt whatever
that you will be able to rejoin in a month or so.'

'A month! It may be all over by then.'

'It won't,' said the other gravely. 'It will take more than a month to
open the Dardanelles. You'll get your fill of fighting before this
business is over. Those who know best say that it will take three months
at least to beat the Turks.'

'That's all right,' said Ken, with reckless disregard for the hopes of the
British Empire. 'I want a chance of doing my bit in the trenches alongside
Dave and Roy.'

For a moment or two Captain Carrington watched his son in silence.

'You'll be doing your bit under rather different conditions in future,' he
said quietly.

Ken stared. 'What do you mean, dad?'

For answer his father picked up the khaki tunic which hung over the end of
the bed, and showed Ken the sleeve.

On it was the star indicating the rank of Second-Lieutenant in His
Majesty's Army.

Book of the day:
Facebook Google Reddit StumbleUpon Twitter Pinterest