Part 2 out of 4
The lads saluted and left the commander's cabin.
Two hours later found Jack, with 4oo British sailors at his
command, already disembarked from small boats and stealing into
the woods. Frank, with his little fleet, was picking his way
carefully up the river.
The lad easily found a channel between the two sunken
merchantmen, and the little boats pushed on.
"Careful of mines!" had been Captain Marcus' parting injunction
and the lad peered keenly ahead constantly.
He made out several small objects floating upon the water, and
these were carefully avoided.
By dint of careful rowing the boats finally drew up safely, not
more than a quarter of a mile from the German forts, where the
little party awaited the signal agreed upon.
Jack, in the meantime, had led his men through the dense woods,
and by making a wide detour, had penetrated almost to the rear of
the enemy's fortress, which, he figured, would be the most likely
to be improperly guarded.
Here he and his men lay down, awaiting the signal to attack. But
still the British bombardment continued, and shells rained upon
the little African town.
Suddenly the sound of screeching shells ceased. Jack sprang to
his feet and listened intently for a moment. But the big guns on
the warships were now silent. It was time to act.
"Attention!" called Jack, and his men stood ready about him.
Silently they crept forward to the very edge of the little town.
Here, moving figures in the glare of many fires gave evidence
that the German troops and their native allies were on the alert.
But as Jack had surmised, they were not expecting an attack from
Approaching closer and closer, Jack finally gave the command:
The crack of 4oo rifles followed this command, and under the
withering fire of the British, the Germans were mowed down on all
At the same instant, from the river, the rapid firers in Frank's
command shattered the stillness of the night with their noise of
death. Thus attacked on two sides, the Germans for a moment
stood as if paralyzed, men dropping on all sides.
But for a moment only. Then they leaped forward ready to
encounter the unseen foe. Under the command of their officers
they formed coolly enough, and volley after volley was fired into
But Jack and his 400 British sailors were not to be stayed.
Right in among the Germans they plunged, shooting, cutting and
slashing. The Germans at this end of the town were gradually
being forced back -- back upon their comrades who already were
retreating before the rapid-firers of Frank's command at the
other end of the town.
Caught between two fires, they nevertheless fought bravely,
pouring in volley for volley. Suddenly the British under Jack
ceased firing altogether and rushed upon the foe with cutlasses
and clubbed rifles.
The shock of this attack was too much for the Germans, and with
the fierce hail of bullets from Frank's end of the field, there
was but one thing for them to do.
The officer in command raised a handkerchief on the point of his
sword. Jack could barely make it out in the half-light. At the
same moment the officer commanding the Germans opposing Frank's
small force cried out:
Instantly the sound of firing ceased, and the German officer
walked up to Frank and delivered his sword. At precisely the
same moment, the other German officer, who it turned out was in
command of the town, presented his sword to Jack.
Jack gallantly passed the weapon back to him, saying:
"Keep it, sir. I could not deprive so brave a man of his sword.
However, I must ask you to accompany me back to my ship."
The German signified his assent, and Jack called out to Frank
whom he could now see approaching with his prisoner:
"Are you hurt, Frank?"
"No," came the reply, "are you?"
Jack made haste to reply in the negative.
The boys decided that Frank should stay with the sailors left to
guard the town, and that Jack should escort the German commander
to the Cumberland. Accordingly the two took their seats in one
of the little boats, and were rowed back down the stream.
Frank, after giving the necessary orders to guard the town and
fort, established himself in the commander's quarters, where he
awaited some word from Captain Marcus.
THE BOYS MAKE AN ENEMY
Jack with his prisoner returned aboard the Cumberland, where the
lad turned the German commander over to Captain Marcus.
"Shall I go back to the town, sir?" he asked, as the commander
signified that he might leave the cabin.
"If you like," was the reply.
"Have you any commands regarding the prisoners, sir? Or as to
the manner of guarding the place against attack?"
"Yes; you may present my respects to Mr. Chadwick, and tell him
that you two are in joint authority until morning, when I shall
do myself the pleasure of paying you a visit. You will take
whatever precautions necessary to guard against an attack from
any of the enemy who may move against you from Boak."
"Very well, sir," replied Jack, saluting.
"Boak, as you probably are aware," continued the commander, "is
another small German fortress further up the river. I do not
anticipate an attack, but it is best to be prepared. You may
also say to Mr. Chadwick that I am well pleased with his work,
and with yours."
"Thank you, sir," returned the lad, and saluting again, he turned
and left the cabin.
He was over the side of the Cumberland in a few moments, and was
soon being rowed swiftly back toward Duala.
Several hundred yards from the little landing, his cars caught
the sound of a great hubbub. There were cries and shouts and
Rapidly the lad covered the intervening distance, leaped to the
ground and sprinted in the direction in which he could see a knot
of wildly gesticulating figures.
"Sounds to me like Frank was in trouble of some kind," he panted
to himself as he ran along, for at that moment he had detected
the sound of his friend's voice raised in anger.
Jack dashed up to the knot of men, all of whom lie now perceived
were British sailors, and as he saw his friend standing calmly in
the center of them unhurt, he paused on the edge of the crowd to
With a flush on his face, plainly evident in the red glow of a
camp fire, Frank stood facing a man. The latter, in height,
topped the lad by a good three inches, and even from where he
stood Jack could see that the man's fingers twitched nervously at
"I am in command here until further notice," Frank was saying,
"and while I am, our captives will receive such treatment as is
due prisoners of war. Do you understand that, Mr. Stanley?"
"Bah!" cried the other, whom Jack now recognized as an officer
aboard the Cumberland; "by seniority I am your superior officer.
I am not answerable to you for my actions."
"Aren't you?" exclaimed Frank, taking a threatening step forward,
a peculiar glint in his eyes. "We'll see about that later. In
the meantime understand that I am in command here and that what I
say goes. Molest another of the prisoners and you shall answer
"Is that so?" sneered Stanley. "And what do you think you'll do
"Try and see," said Frank grimly.
"Do you think I'm afraid of you?" cried Stanley. "I'll show
With these words, he took a sudden step backward, and Jack was
able to see the cause of all the trouble. Crouching between two
sailors was an old native, black of color and grizzled of hair.
Stanley doubled his fist, and before a hand could be raised to
stop him, drove it between the old native's eyes.
Jack sprang forward with a cry, but Frank forestalled him. He
leaped upon the perpetrator of this inhuman act, and with a quick
blow knocked him to the ground.
Stanley rose with blood on his lips and evil in his eye. Quickly
he stepped back a pace, and a revolver glinted in his hand.
"You -- you --" he stuttered.
At that moment the revolver was twisted violently from his grasp,
and, turning, Stanley looked into Jack's angry countenance.
"What's the meaning of this?" Jack demanded. "Would you become a
"He struck me," shouted Stanley angrily, "and he shall give me
satisfaction, and so shall you, you meddling upstart."
"So?" said Jack quietly. "What kind of satisfaction do you want?
I'm perfectly ready to accommodate you."
Stanley took one look at Jack's stalwart figure, fully his own
height and equally as broad. Evidently he decided he cared
nothing for a tussle with this opponent.
"I have nothing to say to you," he said. "But this fellow,"
pointing to Frank, "struck me and I demand satisfaction."
"Well," said Frank, interrupting. "You shall have it. Pull off
"I'm not a common bruiser," sneered Stanley. "I will fight you
with revolvers at twenty paces."
"Enough of this," broke in Jack. "I will permit no duel."
"I do not want to kill you," said Frank.
"So!" exclaimed the enraged officer, "a coward, eh?"
Frank stepped quickly forward, an angry gleam in his eye.
"Enough," he said. "I'll fight you."
Again Jack started to protest, but Frank waved him aside and
turned to the men gathered about.
"Can I depend upon you men not to let this go any further?" he
"You can, sir," they answered in chorus.
"All right, then," said Frank. "Get ready, sir."
One sailor volunteered to act as second for Stanley and Jack
stepped to Frank's side. Then the two seconds met and decided
the details of the duel. The principals were to be allowed one
shot each. This was to be all, whether either man was hit or
Before accepting the revolver from the hand of his second,
Stanley quickly drew his own revolver, and taking aim at a little
knob on a tree some fifty feet distant, fired quickly. The
bullet splintered the bark on the tree and the pieces flew high
in the air.
"Half an inch away!" called a sailor who stood near the tree.
Stanley turned to Frank with a sneering smile on his face.
"Say your prayers," he taunted. "They will be your last."
Frank smiled grimly.
"I heard a story once," he replied quietly, "about a man who
could hit a dime every shot at a hundred yards. But when he
fired with a loaded pistol pointed at him he didn't come off with
such a good record."
The principals now stood back to back. Each was to take twenty
paces forward -- Jack had refused to make the distance any closer
-- turn and lire when ready.
"Ready, go!" came Jack's voice, and slowly the two started away
from each other.
"Seventeen, eighteen, nineteen --" counted Frank, and at that
instant there was a sound of a shot and a bullet whistled over
his head, grazing the scalp.
Stanley, nervous because of the lad's coolness, had fired at the
count of nineteen.
"Twenty!" said Frank without a sign of nervousness in his voice.
He turned slowly, and aimed his revolver at the ground in front
Very slowly he raised the barrel of his weapon until it pointed
at the knees of his now shaking antagonist, then to his belt, to
his chest, and finally to his head.
Beads of perspiration stood out on Stanley's forehead. Then,
with a quick movement, Frank raised the muzzle of his weapon
still higher, and fired over Stanley's head.
Then he calmly replaced the weapon in his pocket and walked back
to where Jack was standing.
Having thus escaped what appeared almost certain death, Stanley
became bold again. Evidently he had not realized that Frank had
"I demand another shot," he cried angrily.
"There will be no more duel so far as I am concerned," said Frank
Jack walked angrily up to Stanley.
"He spared your life," he said heatedly.
"Bah!" replied Stanley. "He missed cleanly, and he's afraid to
Frank walked quickly over to his late opponent.
"You fool!" he said quietly. "Look here!"
Quickly he whipped his revolver out, and without taking aim,
fired twice in rapid succession.
Although three times as far away as Stanley had been when he gave
his exhibition of skill, the little knot on the tree leaped into
the air, and as it fell, the second bullet caught it in midair
and splintered it into little pieces.
Midshipman Stanley staggered back aghast.
"I could have killed you with ease," said Frank calmly, and
walking away, he picked up his coat and put it on.
"I -- I didn't know he could shoot like that!" sputtered Stanley
"That's not so very good -- for him," said Jack.
"Why, once --"
"Never mind," interrupted Midshipman Stanley, backing hurriedly
away, "I'll take your word for it. But, remember, I am not
through with either of you yet. My time will come, and when it
He broke off abruptly, an evil sneer in his voice, and walked
Now the sailors surrounded Frank and gave him three rousing
"You're all right, Frank!" they called, some of them slapping him
familiarly on the back.
Frank waved them laughingly aside, and turned to Jack.
"Any orders from Captain Marcus?" he asked, as though nothing out
of the ordinary had happened.
"Lead the way to your excellency's quarters, and I'll tell you,"
replied Jack with a smile.
Frank led the way.
Briefly Jack repeated Captain Marcus' orders to Frank.
"I took the liberty of making those preparations without awaiting
such a command," said Frank. "I have thrown out outposts, and
there is no danger of a surprise tonight."
"You mean this morning," disagreed Jack, after a look at his
watch. "It's after four o'clock now."
"Then it will soon be daylight," said Frank. "You had better
turn in and get a little sleep. I'll stand watch."
Jack well knew the futility of an argument over this matter, so
he turned in without further words by the simple process of
throwing himself on a pallet on the floor of the tent. Frank
took his seat in the doorway, where he remained looking out into
The sun was high in the heavens when Jack awoke. He jumped up
with a start. Frank was not there. Jack made a hasty toilet and
set out to find his friend. He came upon him at the river land-
ing, and, as the lad cast his eyes down the stream he made out
the launch of Captain Marcus coming, swiftly toward the camp.
He tapped Frank lightly on the shoulder.
"Why didn't you wake me up?" he demanded.
"Well, you were sleeping so comfortably I hated to disturb you,"
"And I suppose you would have let Captain Marcus find me asleep?"
"I don't believe he would have minded. He knows we all sleep
"I'll get even with you one of these days," said Jack laughing,
and both lads stepped to the very edge of the landing to give
Captain Marcus a hand as he clambered from the boat.
"How is everything?" he demanded, as he arose to his feet.
"First rate," replied Frank.
"No signs of the enemy?"'
"Not a sign, sir."
"Good! Evidently he doesn't know we have occupied the town. I
believe that by a quick dash we can capture Boak. What do you
"Fine!" exclaimed Jack with enthusiasm.
"Of course we can, sir," agreed Frank.
"All right, then; it shall be your job!"
Jack and Frank saluted.
"Thank you, sir," both said breathlessly.
Several hours later the two lads, in the captain's launch, found
themselves at the head of a small flotilla moving slowly up the
river. Each boat was equipped with one rapid-fire gun and
carried twenty men. In all there were twelve boats.
The farther up the river the little party progressed the narrower
became the stream, until finally it was little better than a deep
creek. Foliage of large trees overhung the water, making it
almost as dark as night. The water was black and murky.
Frank shuddered as he glanced at it.
"Looks like it might be full of all kinds of reptiles and
things," he said.
"It certainly does," Jack agreed. "I would as soon think of
jumping into the bottomless pit as of diving into this black
Around bend after bend in the small stream the little flotilla
proceeded cautiously, and ever, as they progressed, the stream
became narrower and more fear-inspiring.
In some of the boats men began to grumble. Jack turned and
called out angrily:
"Silence!" Then he added more companionably: "It's all right,
men. Where men have gone before men can go now without fear of
the unknown. I'll admit it doesn't look very pleasant, but
surely an English sailor is not afraid to go where a German foot
The men started a cheer at the lad's words, but he silenced them
by a motion of his hand, and called out:
"Silence! We do not want to warn the enemy of our approach."
Now, rounding a little bend in the stream, the lads could make
out, some distance ahead, what appeared to be the huts of a
little village. Also, they could see that, at that point, the
stream widened out considerably.
Apparently secure in the belief that the forts at Duala could
successfully ward off the attacks of any enemy, the German
commander at Boak had grown careless, and the lads could not see
a single sign of soldiers or sentries.
Frank glanced behind him and ordered softly:
"Take down all flags!"
The command was passed from one boat to another, and soon the
little flotilla was moving up the river, looking more like a
pleasure party than a hostile force, except for the uniforms of
the men. However, these could not be plainly seen from the
village, because of the shadow cast by the dense foliage that
overhung the river.
Now, through their glasses, the boys could see several German
officers peering at them through long telescopes.
"They've seen us," said Jack.
"Yes," was Frank's reply. "But evidently they believe us
friends, or they would open fire on us."
"Perhaps their guns are not of the heavy caliber of those at
"By Jove! I believe you have hit it!" exclaimed Frank. "In
that case, with our rapid-firers, we should have little trouble
taking the village."
At the point where the stream widened out, Jack allowed two of
the craft behind to come up even and thus, three abreast, the
journey was continued.
Every man was now at his post. The gunners were ready to open
with the rapid-firers at a moment's notice. All held their
rifles ready. Still the Germans did not fire, apparently
uncertain of the identity of the newcomers -- or rather,
seemingly certain they were friends.
Suddenly a squad of six German soldiers wheeled a small,
old-fashioned cannon to the landing near the officers, and a
moment later a solid shot plowed up the water in front of the
first boat of the British flotilla.
"A signal to show our colors," said Jack grimly. "What do you
say, Frank? Are we ready to show them?"'
"Yes!" cried Frank.
An instant and the English Jack floated over each boat, while at
the same time the first three boats in the battle line opened
with their rapid-firers.
At the distance, scarcely two hundred yards, the execution was
terrible. The German officers and the entire gun squad, riddled
with bullets, fell forward on their faces.
But this was only the beginning.
Swiftly moving German troops now came marching to the river
front, steadily, in spite of the withering British fire, and
sternly, to repel the foe. Slowly they came into position, and,
dropping on their knees, poured a volley into the little
But, deadly as this fire was, that of the rapid-firers aboard the
boats was more so. The British did not escape without
considerable damage, but the German loss was far heavier.
Steadily, in spite of the grilling German fire, the boats pressed
Each man concealed himself as well as he could behind the low
sides of the boats, exposing just enough of his head to take aim
at the enemy.
The first boats were now but a scant hundred yards away. For
some reason, evidently thinking to pick off the men in the boats,
the enemy had not brought artillery to bear. But at this
juncture a squad sprang forward to serve the gun already used.
A charge was rammed home and the gun sighted; but, as the man
detailed was about to pull the lanyard, Frank sprang suddenly to
his feet in the boat and his revolver spoke. The German flung
wide his arms and toppled to the ground. Another sprang to his
place, but only to meet the same fate; and another, and still
All this time the little rapid-firers were continuing their
deadly work, and at last a bugle sounded the call for the German
retreat. Slowly they drew off, firing as they went, but, as the
British now moved up faster, the Teutons turned and ran.
Quickly the little flotilla came alongside the wharf and men
scrambled ashore. It was but the work of a few minutes to land
the rapid-firers, half the British with rifles meanwhile holding
off the enemy.
Then, everything in readiness, Frank gave the order for an
Now, from all sides, came a withering German fire. The enemy had
taken to the woods, seeking to pick off the English one at a
time; but, at a word from Jack, the machine-guns were turned upon
the trees, and this scattering fire soon turned the retreat into
As the English at length poured into the streets of the little
village itself, from every house and hut came a German bullet.
Many British fell, and it was here that the heaviest losses were
sustained by the attacking party.
But Frank soon found a remedy for this. The rapid-fire guns were
turned upon the huts and houses, and, as the bullets began to
find their way into the openings, the work of the snipers
For some minutes there was a lull in the fighting, while
ammunition for the guns was brought up from the boats; when,
suddenly, down the street came a band of Germans at a charge.
Quickly the British formed to meet them, the rapid-fire guns for
the moment being useless. Swords and bayonets were bared and
rifles were clubbed. The Germans came on with a rush. The
impact was terrific, but the British sailors stood firm, and gave
thrust for thrust, blow for blow -- and more.
Being unable to force the British back, and, seeing that they
were getting the worst of this hand-to-hand encounter, the German
officers ordered a retreat. This proved their complete undoing,
for, as they drew off at a run, the rapid-firers of the British
again came into action, and the enemy were mowed down like chaff.
More rapidly now the British pushed on through the heart of the
village, Frank telling off a few men here and there to give
notice of a possible approach of reinforcements from some other
But no reinforcements came, and the Germans finally retreated
before the victorious British until they were once again
sheltered by a dense forest. Then Frank called a halt.
He threw a cordon around the town and dispatched three men in a
little boat to inform Captain Marcus of the success of his
"Well," said Jack, with a laugh, "we've got the town all right.
What are we going to do with it?"
"That's the question," replied Frank. "I guess, before making
any further move, we had better wait for orders."
"My idea, exactly," said Jack.
"Since we're agreed," replied Frank, "we'll wait."
FINISHING UP THE WORK
It was not until somewhat late the following morning that Captain
Marcus, accompanied by the commander of the British cruiser
Dwarf, reached Boak. Frank and Jack were at the little wharf to
After expressing a few words of commendation for the manner in
which they had handled their men in the capture of the town, the
two British commanders took a turn about the village.
"It will be impossible for us to remain here for the sole purpose
of guarding these towns," said Captain Marcus. "We have other
work to do. So now the question arises as to what to do with
"I would suggest," said the commander of the Dwarf, "that we put
a prize crew aboard the German merchantman still in Duala, iron
our prisoners, put them aboard her and send her home. We can
make a thorough search of the town and destroy all arms and
ammunition to be found."
"But," said Captain Marcus, "we shall first have to dispose of
those Germans who escaped to the forest."
"That shouldn't be a hard job," replied the commander of the
Dwarf, "I do not imagine there are many of them."
"About how many would you say?" asked Captain Marcus, turning to
Frank, who, with Jack, had accompanied the two officers on the
tour of inspection.
"Not more than a hundred, sir," was the lad's reply.
"Good!" replied Captain Marcus. "Do you feel equal to the task
of rounding them up?"
"Perfectly, sir," Frank made answer.
"So be it, then. You may act at your own discretion; only see
that you make a good, swift job of it."
Frank and Jack saluted and hurried away. Leaving half their
force to guard the village, the lads, with the other half, which
had dwindled to less than 100 by now, were soon lost to sight in
the forest. They went quickly, but as silently as they could,
for they wished, if possible, to take the foe by surprise.
"This is likely to be, a wild goose chase," declared Jack, when,
at the end of an hour of forced marching they had seen no sign of
the enemy. "There is no telling where the Germans are. They
know the lay of the land and we don't. If they continue to
retreat, there is no telling where we may come up with them, if
Frank's lips set grimly.
"We'll get 'em," he said, "if we have to follow 'em clear across
They continued their march in silence. At length Frank drew his
friends' attention to the fact that, a little to the left, the
grass had been recently trampled, apparently by a considerable
body of men.
"They can't be far ahead of us," he said. "Evidently they are
not aware they are being pursued, for they apparently have been
The British became more wary. Frank divided his men into two
bodies, one of which he placed under Jack's command, while he
himself led the other.
For another hour or more they continued, still without sign of an
The two British forces were now separated by at least a quarter
of a mile, when Jack unexpectedly came to the edge of the forest.
There, just ahead of him, lay the entire German command in a
little opening surrounded on all sides by large trees.
Jack raised his hand and his men came to a halt. Frank, at the
head of his command, perceived this movement, and also halted his
men. Then he covered the distance to where his friend stood
peering through the trees as quickly as possible.
Without a word Jack pointed out the Germans. Frank took a quick
look, and together the two boys drew back into the shelter of the
trees. They had not been seen.
"I believe I have a plan that will deliver the whole bunch into
our hands, possibly without bloodshed," said Jack.
"What is it?" demanded Frank.
"Well," said Jack, "you will notice that the opening in which the
Germans lie is entirely surrounded by trees. My idea is to
completely surround them, and, at a given signal, fire a volley
over their heads. Believing that our force is much greater than
it is, and apparently cut off from escape in all directions, the
Germans may surrender."
"A good idea," exclaimed Frank. "We will act upon it at once."
Quickly he scattered his men in a wide circle around the German
camp. Then, when he felt that all was in readiness, he gave the
signal -- a shot from his revolver.
Immediately there was a fierce volley from the British, aimed
high. The German troops sprang to their feet in a moment; then,
at a command from their officer, dropped quickly to the ground
Whatever idea Frank had had of a bloodless victory was quickly
dispelled, for the German troops -- lying flat on their stomachs,
fired volley after volley into the woods at their unseen
This was ineffective, however, because the British were well
protected by the great trees. At a command from Frank, which was
passed rapidly along the British line, the sailors trained their
rifles upon the enemy and fired.
The effect was fearful. Germans toppled over on all sides, and
some jumped to their feet and ran toward the trees. Bullets
greeted them from all sides, however, and, after making one last
stand, the entire German force threw their weapons to the ground
as one man.
"We surrender!" called the officer in command.
Slowly the circle of British emerged from the forest and closed
in on them. The German officer delivered his sword to Frank
without a word; then, at the lad's command, the British
surrounded the prisoners and started on their return journey to
Boak, where they arrived after a three hours' forced march, and
were greeted with acclaim by the sailors who had been left
behind. Not a single sailor had been killed in the short but
decisive battle, though two had been wounded.
Captain Marcus, and the commander of the Dwarf also, complimented
the lads highly upon the quick success of their expedition. The
village had been thoroughly searched for arms and ammunition
during their absence, and all was now ready for a quick
"Get the prisoners into the boats, and we will start down the
river at once," ordered Captain Marcus.
This was soon accomplished, and the little flotilla was on its
way back toward Duala. At Duala a second search was made for
arms, ammunition and other munitions of war. This done, the
commander of the Cumberland turned to Frank.
"You will go aboard that German merchantman in the harbor," he
said, "and take her to London. You are in command, and Mr.
Templeton shall be your first officer. The others you may select
yourself. A prize crew will be put aboard immediately."
Frank was somewhat taken aback at this good fortune.
"But I am not a navigator," he said in some confusion, wishing
now that he was.
"That makes it different," was Captain Marcus' reply.
"But I am, sir," Jack interrupted. "I have studied navigation
"Good then!" said Captain Marcus. "In that event, I shall
appoint you to take command and your friend as first officer."
"But --" Jack started to protest, when Frank interrupted him.
"I shall be glad to serve under him," he said.
So it was arranged, and several hours later the two lads found
themselves aboard the German steamer Lena. For the first time in
his life Jack trod the bridge of his own ship, and he could not
but be proud of that moment; Frank, too, was elated at his good
With this parting injunction, Captain Marcus dropped over the
side of the Lena:
"Make straight for London. Although you carry some guns, if
attacked do not fight back unless absolutely necessary. Show the
enemy your heels, if possible. However, if you do have to fight,
fight as the true sons of Great Britain."
"We shall, sir," replied both lads grimly, and Captain Marcus
realized that he could not have put the ship in better hands.
From among the crew Jack now selected a sailor named Jennings for
second officer, and another by the name of Johnson for third
officer. There was a hissing of steam from below, slowly the
cable was loosened, and the Lena put off down the river.
The two British commanders followed in small boats. At the
entrance of the river the steamer slowed down, and the boys
watched the two commanders go aboard their respective cruisers.
A moment later guns on both ships boomed loudly. It was a
salute, carrying a cheery "Good luck" to the ears of the two
lads. As they sailed out to sea they could perceive that the
cruisers also were getting under way, and were heading in the
same direction as the Lena.
The Lena quickened her pace and sped off toward the north,
heading for the open water. Night fell and still she steamed
rapidly on, the cruisers following in her wake.
Frank took the first watch, and Jack turned in. The sea was
perfectly smooth and the Lena steamed on, rolling gently on the
even swell of the waves.
At 7 o'clock, the sun streaming high in the heavens, Jack
appeared on deck. A moment later Frank who had been relieved by
the second officer during the night, also emerged from his cabin.
Both turned their eyes over the stern, where the night before the
two British cruisers had been following, offering protection in
whatever danger threatened.
The cruisers were not in sight. There was not even a cloud of
smoke to show their presence anywhere on the wide sea. They had
turned off on another course during the darkness.
"Well," said Jack, "it's up to us to get into port safely. We
have been thrown upon our own resources."
"Yes," Frank agreed. "Captain Marcus has put great confidence in
us. It's up to us to make good."
"Well," declared Jack slowly, "we'll do it."
"Yes," said Frank, "we will!"
QUELLING AN OUTBREAK
Among the prisoners who were being sent home to England on the
Lena was the German commander who had been captured at Duala,
Colonel Von Roth. He had given his parole, and accordingly had
not been put in irons with the other prisoners in the hold, but
had been given a cabin to himself near the one which Frank and
Jack shared jointly.
Besides Jack and Frank and the two other officers, the crew of
the Lena was made up of fifty sailors, a chief engineer and his
assistant and a squad of stokers. In all, there were probably
seventy-five British aboard.
All the prisoners captured had not been put aboard the Lena for
the reason that there were too many of them. Some were aboard
the Cumberland, and the Dwarf was caring for the remainder.
However, there were probably a hundred prisoners aboard the Lena
besides the colonel.
Colonel Von Roth made himself very agreeable, said, in spite of
the fact that he was an enemy, the boys took quite a liking to
him. He conversed fluently upon subjects pertaining to America,
where he said he had visited more than once, and also spoke
familiarly of that spot on the African coast where Jack had made
his boyhood home.
Having thus thrown the lads off their guard, Colonel Von Roth set
about finding a way in which he could recapture the ship. Of his
parole he thought nothing.
"What's a parole worth when given to a couple of children?" he
had muttered to himself.
From the start the German officer made himself, perfectly at
home, and, although the boys had thought of remonstrating, he was
allowed the freedom of all parts of the ship. He went below,
when, he felt so disposed, and returned when he was ready.
"It seems to me that our gallant colonel is taking things almost
too free and easy," Frank had remarked to Jack, at one of their
"So he is," Jack had made reply, "I'll have to, speak to him
He did so, and was somewhat taken aback at the officer's manner
of receiving the rebuke.
"I meant no harm," he replied, with an air offended dignity,
"but, of course, if you do not wish me to go below, I shall not
However, he had quickly seemed to forget this and neither lad,
because of his apparent sensitiveness, had the heart to remind
him of it.
It had just struck four bells two days later a Jack stood on the
bridge alone. Frank had gone to his cabin and lain down. He
felt somewhat ill, and decided that a rest was what he needed to
put him in condition again.
Jack, having just ordered a slight alteration in their course to
the man at the wheel, signaled the engine-room for more speed.
There was no response to the signal, and Jack tried it again.
Still there wits no response.
"That's funny," said the lad to himself, "the bell was working
all right a moment ago. Guess I'll go and see what's the
He called the second officer, who took the bridge while Jack went
below. As he made his way to the engine-room, he was brought to
a sudden stop at the door. He heard a familiar voice inside,
speaking in a tone of great satisfaction.
"Colonel Von Roth, or I'm much mistaken," Jack fold himself,
laying a hand on the door. "I wonder --"
Struck with a sudden thought, he drew back suddenly, and then
laid his ear to the door.
"You dogs!" came the colonel's voice from within. "Thought to
get away with this ship, did you? Well, I'll show you!"
Without a moment's hesitation Jack opened the door and sprang
inside. The action almost cost him his life. He had expected to
find no enemy but the German officer in the engine-room, but in
this he was sadly mistaken. The room was full of men.
The colonel had laid his plans carefully, and they had worked out
to his satisfaction.
In a moment when the attention of the sentry guarding the
captives had been attracted elsewhere, Von Roth sneaked up on him
from behind and struck him a heavy blow with his fist. Then,
tying the prostrate man, the colonel had possessed himself of the
guard's key and removed the irons from some of the German
He did not wait to release all of them, for he was too anxious to
try his plan of retaking the ship. Therefore, when he had freed
twenty-five men, he led them quickly to the engine-room, thinking
first to capture their strategic point and to take care of the
rest of the ship's crew later.
He had burst into the engine-room so suddenly, with his men at
his heels, that the engineer and his assistants had been too
surprised to resist, in spite of the fact that not one of the
prisoners, save the colonel himself, was armed -- the colonel
having appropriated one of Frank's revolvers.
When Jack sprang into the room it was with his revolver held
ready for instant use. In a trice lit took in the situation, and
realized that it was no time for talk. The stokers, the engineer
and his assistant were standing helpless, evidently awed by the
larger number of Germans.
Jack's revolver spoke, and Colonel Von Roth's hat leaped from his
head. In his hurry Jack's aim had been poor.
The German officer whirled and his revolver also rang out. Jack
felt a sting in his left arm, but he did not pause.
Right into the middle of the crowd of Germans he sprang, his
revolver spitting fire as he leaped. Down went three Germans,
and then Jack was in among them. The tenth and last shot of his
automatic went squarely into the face of a German soldier.
Battling desperately the Germans leaped upon him and overwhelmed
him. So closely entwined were the struggling men that Jack was
unable to take the time to draw his second revolver; but he was
not daunted. His fighting blood was up, and he hurled his six
feet of height and 178 pounds of weight into the thick of the
His revolver reversed in his hand, he struck out often and
fiercely. Here and there the sound of a crunch told him a blow
had landed. But he had no time to investigate; the press was too
By this time the engineer, his assistant and the stokers had
recovered from their surprise and rushed to Jack's aid. Friend
and foe alike grabbed up whatever weapon they could lay their
hands on wrenches, hand-bars and heavy iron pokers.
Guarding his head as well as he could with one upraised arm, Jack
struck right and left with his revolver butt. A man sprang at
him with a heavy wrench, but the lad caught it, by a quick move,
on his revolver. It saved his head, but the weapon went to the
floor in a thousand pieces.
Jack grappled with this antagonist, and, by a quick twist of the
arm, whipped the wrench from his opponent's hand. It rose and
fell and the German toppled over.
Colonel Von Roth, now the only man in the room armed, stood off
to one side, trying in vain to bring his revolver to bear upon
Jack. He was afraid to fire, however, for fear of hitting one of
his own men. Hither and thither he darted around the struggling
mass of men, attempting to get a clear shot at the lad.
Suddenly Jack stooped near the door of one of the furnaces and
picked up a heavy iron poker. With this he laid about him right
lustily, and in a moment had cleared a little circle about
himself. The rest of the English, driven back by the Germans,
were still fighting desperately at the opposite side of the room.
Now that Jack was standing alone, he made an excellent target for
Colonel Von Roth's revolver and the colonel was not slow to
Quickly he raised the revolver and fired; but at that same moment
Jack suddenly took two rapid steps forward, and the bullet
whistled harmlessly over his head.
The lad raised his eyes from the rest of his opponents for a
brief instant, and in that instant realized that the colonel had
singled him out for his bullet.
With a sudden fierce bellow he raised his heavy poker in both
hands, and plunged into the thick of the conflict. There was no
stopping him now. His rush was irresistible. He bore down upon
the foe like a human catapult.
Heavy wrenches, pieces of steel, nuts and bolts were hurled at
him. Some struck him and some flew past. But to these he paid
no heed. Strong as a lion he fought his way on. The Germans
retreated before this fighting figure of sinew and muscle; they
quailed before his grim set mouth and the gleam in the eye of
With mighty strokes he swept them aside with broken heads and
arms and limbs. His object now was Colonel Von Roth, who still
stood at the far end of the room, his revolver raised, ready to
Taking heart from the gallant action of their commander, the
British stokers sprang forward anew, and now the Germans tried to
escape. The English pushed them back rapidly.
Straight for Colonel Von Roth went Jack. The colonel, with
upraised revolver, saw him coming and turned pale. He aimed
quickly and fired. Jack staggered back a step and then came on
again. A second time the colonel fired, but this time the lad
did not even pause.
The heavy iron poker seemed to whirl about his head; there was
the sound of a blow. Colonel Von Roth went to the floor with a
groan, and Jack fell sprawling on top of him, unconscious.
Even as the lad fell, the one German soldier who still remained
in the room, picked up a heavy wrench and sprang forward.
Quickly he raised his arm, and was in the very act of hurling it
at the head of the unconscious lad when there was the sound of a
revolver shot. The German threw up both arms, spun rapidly
around once or twice, and fell to the floor.
In the doorway stood Frank. Aroused from his slumber by the
sounds of scuffling below, he had sprung up suddenly. At first
he could not make out the cause of the disturbance. Then there
suddenly flashed before his face a vision of Colonel Von Roth.
This vision spurred him to instant action. Leaping from his bunk
he ran on deck. There all was serene and quiet. He paused for a
moment, undecided. Then, urged on by some uncanny foresight, he
dashed toward the engine-room.
On the steps he met the first of the retreating German soldiers.
With a cry over his shoulder to the third officer, who had
followed him, he plunged in among them, striking out swiftly
right and left. At the door of the engine-room he halted.
At first he could not make out Jack's unconscious figure lying,
on the floor. But, as the German stooped to pick up the wrench,
the lad divined his purpose. He had fired just a moment before
the wrench would have crushed out his friend's life.
Quickly Frank bent over his chum and gently raised his head to
his knee. There was no sign of life in the still body and Frank
quickly placed his hand over the lad's heart. A faint fluttering
was his reward.
"Thank God! he's alive!" he said.
Exerting himself to the utmost, he lifted Jack to his own
shoulders, and started toward the door. At that moment the third
officer came rushing down the steps. Together they carried Jack
to his cabin, where they laid him on his bunk. Then Frank
hastily summoned the surgeon.
The lad bent over his friend anxiously as the physician examined
"Will he live, doctor?" he asked anxiously.
The surgeon shook his head doubtfully.
"Bullet just grazed his temple," he said. "Also he is badly
bruised about the body. So far as I can see there are no broken
bones; but he may be injured internally."
"Is there anything I can do, doctor?"
The surgeon looked at the lad's white face.
"Yes," he replied. "Go and see that the prisoners are safely
secured. I can work better without your presence here."
Frank started to protest, but the surgeon raised a warning hand.
Without another word Frank left the cabin.
Making sure that all the unwounded prisoners had been safely
secured, Frank gave orders that Colonel Von Roth's body be
prepared for burial. An hour later he returned to the cabin.
"How is he, doctor?" was his first question.
"Still unconscious, as you may see," was the reply. "However, I
have made a thorough examination, and I believe that you need
have no fear; but he must have perfect quiet for several days.
Some one must be with him constantly. It would be well to have
someone come now and wait here until he regains consciousness. I
have other work to do."
"I'll sit here myself," said Frank quietly. "As you go out will
you tell the second officer to keep the bridge until further
The surgeon bowed and left the cabin. Drawing up a chair, Frank
sat down beside his unconscious friend and took up his silent
It was hours later that Frank first noticed signs of returning
consciousness in his wounded comrade. Jack's pale face took on a
little color, his eyelids fluttered, and a minute later he opened
Frank bent over him.
"How do you feel, old fellow?" he asked gently.
It was some seconds before Jack replied. His gaze roved about
the cabin, and Frank could see that for the moment his friend was
unable to recognize his surroundings. At last, however, a look
of understanding passed over his face, and he spoke:
"It was a great old scrap, wasn't it?" and he smiled up at his
"It was all of that," replied Frank. "But tell me, how do you
"Well, I don't feel tip top, and that's a fact," replied Jack
feebly, moving about on his bed.
He made as if to sit up, but Frank held him down.
"You stay where you are," he ordered.
"What's the matter?" demanded Jack. "Can't I get up if I feel
"No," replied Frank, "you can't. You'll stay where you are until
the doctor says you are out of danger."
"Danger!" echoed Jack. "You ought to know by this time that I
was not made to be killed so easily."
"Nevertheless," said Frank, "you are badly wounded. It will be
several days before you will be able to get about."
"Several days!" cried Jack in dismay. "You take my word for it,
I'll be up tomorrow."
"You'll stay right where you are until the doctor gives his
permission for you to get up," said Frank firmly, "if I have to
hold you in."
"Don't you believe it," cried Jack. "I'll be up and out of here
tomorrow, or I'll know the reason why."
But he wasn't; for, as Frank had said, he was too badly wounded
to be able to get about. The next day and the following one,
while the Lena continued steadily on her course toward England,
Jack was forced to lie in his bed.
It was not until the dawn of the third day that the surgeon gave
him permission to go on deck. Supported by Frank's arm, the
injured lad made his way to the bridge, where he took a deep
breath of the invigorating air.
"By Jove! this feels good," he exclaimed, as a stiff breeze swept
across the ship. "Think I'll camp out up here a while."
"Oh, no, you won't," replied Frank. "Just one hour, and then
back to bed for you."
"By George! you'd think I was a baby the way you tell me what to
do," said Jack, with some show of temper.
"You'll go back when your hour is up, if I have to drag you,"
said Frank. "And I don't believe you are in condition to put up
"I guess you are right," replied Jack ruefully.
His hour up he returned to his cabin and Frank once more tucked
him comfortably in bed.
It was several days before Jack was able to get about the ship
with his accustomed alacrity; and then the Lena was well out of
African waters, steaming up the coast of Portugal -- the English
channel and London now not far away.
Jack had now resumed command of the ship, and the boys, standing
together on the bridge one fine morning, were congratulating
themselves upon the success of the voyage, when from the lookout
came a cry:
"Cruiser off the starboard bow, sir?"
"How is she headed?" demanded Jack.
"Coming right this way, sir."
"Can you make her out?"
"Not yet, sir."
"Let me know as soon as you can," was Jack's command.
It was fully half an hour later, and the cruiser was not yet
plainly discernible to the naked eye, when the lookout called:
"She's British, sir."
"I wouldn't be too sure," muttered Jack to Frank. "She may be
flying the English flag and still be an enemy. I don't trust
these Germans much."
"Nor I," agreed Frank. "However, we will soon know whether she
is friend or foe."
Slowly the cruiser drew nearer. Now the boys were able to make
out the British flag flying at her masthead. There came a puff
of smoke from the stranger, and a shot passed over the bow of the
"Signal to show our colors," muttered Frank.
At his command the British ensign soon fluttered gaily in the
Came another shot from the cruiser.
"What's the matter now, do you suppose?" asked Frank. "That's a
signal to heave to. If she's British, what does she want us to
heave to for?"
The vessels were still a considerable distance apart, and night
was drawing on. The answer to Frank's question came from the
The British ensign flying at the masthead of the approaching
cruiser suddenly came fluttering down, and a moment later the
Red, white and Black of Germany fluttered aloft in its stead.
"By Jove!" exclaimed Jack. "I was afraid of it!"
At the same moment another shot crossed the Lena's bow.
Jack acted with decision and promptness. At a quick command the
Lena raised the German flag. Then, as the German commander
hesitated, fearing to fire lest the vessel really be of his own
country, Jack signaled the engine-room for full speed ahead.
The Lena seemed to leap forward, and in a moment had turned her
stern to the enemy, thus making her a harder target to hit. The
German, evidently taken by surprise, could not bring her guns to
bear in a moment, and that moment undoubtedly saved the Lena.
The small guns on the Lena, at Frank's command, were made ready
for instant use, and the men were piped to quarters. Although
well aware he was outranged by the enemy, Jack determined to
fight his ship to the last.
"They'll know they have been in a battle unless they sink us
before they come in range of our guns," said Jack grimly.
"You bet they will," replied Frank.
"Everything ready?" demanded Jack.
"All ready, sir," replied Frank, with a slight smile and a
The second and third officers made their reports. The British
were ready for instant action, and eager for the fray.
"We'll run as long as we can," said Jack, "but, if we can't
outrun them, we'll turn about and give them a fight, anyhow."
This word was passed along to the crew, and a loud British cheer
rang out across the waters of the North Atlantic. Frank and Jack
were forced to smile.
"The British sailor would always rather fight than run," said
"Right," said Jack. "This running rather goes against me, too."
Now the forward guns of the German cruiser were brought into
action, and heavy detonations rang out across the water. But the
German gunners had not yet found the range, and the fact that the
Lena was so maneuvered as to keep her stern to the enemy made the
task of the enemy that much harder.
Darkness fell, and still the flight and pursuit continued, but so
far the Lena had not been struck by a single shell. She had
fired but one shot at the foe -- from one of her small guns aft
-- but this had shown that the German cruiser was not yet within
range of the Lena's guns.
Now that darkness had fallen the huge searchlight of the German
cruiser played full upon the Lena. Suddenly Jack and Frank felt
a terrific shock, and the Lena, for a moment, seemed to pause in
her stride. A shell had struck the stem of the vessel. There was
an explosion and a single high mast crashed to the deck.
Quickly a score of sailors sprang forward, and at a word from
Frank, cleared away the wreckage and tumbled it overboard.
"Nothing serious, sir," reported the second officer, after a
"Good!" said Jack calmly.
Then, so suddenly that it appeared to be the hand of magic, the
searchlight of the German cruiser faded from view. Darkness fell
over the Lena intense darkness.
The glare of the searchlight had vanished so suddenly that for a
brief moment Frank did not determine the cause of it.
"What is it?" he demanded anxiously.
"Fog," replied Jack laconically, "and just in time. With luck,
we may make our escape."
The course of the Lena was quickly altered, and she once more
headed toward the coast of England.
At full speed the Lena continued her voyage through the dense
"Is there any danger of our colliding with another ship, speeding
along like this without knowing what is ahead?" asked Frank in
"Certainly," replied Jack. "However, it is a chance we must
take. We know what lies behind, and the way I figure it is that
it is better to take a chance on what may lie before rather than
on what we know lies behind."
"Right," said Frank, and he became silent.
All night the Lena forged ahead at full speed through the fog,
which hung thick and dismal overhead and all about; and all this
time the boys did not leave the bridge.
The men were allowed to rest at their posts, but were kept on the
alert, for, as Jack said, "we must be prepared for anything."
Jack looked at his watch. It was 8 o'clock in the morning; and,
even as he glanced at his timepiece, the fog lifted as suddenly
as it had enveloped them.
"This is better --" Frank began, and broke off with a cry of
Not a hundred yards to the leeward his eyes fell upon the dark
hull of the German cruiser which had pursued them the night
before. Evidently the commander of the vessel had anticipated
the course of the Lena and had taken the same route. There is no
telling in what imminent danger the two had been of a collision
during the night, as both had sped along silently, each fearing
to betray his presence to the other.
Jack espied the enemy at the same instant that Frank cried out;
and he acted upon the instant.
Hoarse commands were shouted across the decks of the Lena, and a
moment later her small guns burst into sound. In spite of the
fact that the enemy must have been on the lookout for the Lena,
it was apparent that the Lena had been the first to realize the
presence of the other.
"Boom! Boom! Boom! Boom!" spoke the Lena's guns, and the sound
went hurtling out across the sea.
At this close range a miss was almost out of the question, and
the Lena's shells crashed into the sides of the German cruiser.
The German vessel staggered and reeled, but in a moment her big
guns answered the smaller caliber ones of the Lena.
The Lena quivered like a human thing under the deadly hail of
fire from the enemy. The great guns raked the merchant ship from
stem to stem, pierced her until her sides resembled nothing more
than a sieve. Men fell everywhere, many prisoners being killed
by fragments. But still the Lena continued to fight back.
Standing upon the bridge Jack directed the fighting of his ship.
He realized in the first moment of contact that the doom of the
Lena was sealed. She was no match for the German cruiser, but,
before going down, it was his intention to do as much damage as
possible to the enemy. And the fire of the Lena was doing
Men fell on the cruiser as well as on the Lena. Shells crashed
aboard, tumbling down masts, bursting in the mouths of the guns
and hurling showers of iron about. Grimy-faced men ran hither
and thither about the decks of both vessels. They had long since
lost all resemblance to human beings, and all fought like demons.
The German commander did not call upon the British to surrender.
Evidently he did not wish to be bothered with prizes. To sink
the enemy -- that was his sole aim.
One by one the guns of the Lena were put out of action, until
finally but two remained to reply to the fire of the enemy.
Slowly the head of the Lena swung round, to permit of these last
two guns being brought to bear.
"Boom! Boom!" They spoke their last message, and two shells
pierced the very heart of the German cruiser.
There was a sudden, terrific explosion. A fierce red sheet of
flame leaped from the German cruiser, and shot high in the air.
The center turret rose with the flame and fell back to the waters
of the North Atlantic in a million pieces.
The magazine of the cruiser had blown up! Her vitals were opened
and the waters engulfed her.
The two lads stood on the bridge of the Lena, open-mouthed, awed
by this spectacle. Both were too surprised to speak. At the
very moment when the battle seemed lost, one well-directed shot
had turned the fortunes of war in favor of the arms of the
At length Frank spoke.
"It is a miracle!" he exclaimed.
"No," replied Jack calmly, "not a miracle; rather, the courage
and bravery of the sons of Britain are responsible for this good
He turned his eyes upon the floating wreckage. Not a survivor
was in sight. "Poor fellows!" he said, half aloud, "may they
rest in peace!"
At this moment the chief engineer came rushing on deck. Blood
streamed down his face and one arm hung limp at his side.
"The engines are out of commission, sir," he reported, "and there
is three feet of water in the engine-room. The ship is sinking!"
Jack drew himself up to his full height and shouted out his
"Man the boats!" he cried.
He called the second and third officers.
"Look after the wounded," he commanded. "See that they are all
placed in the boats. Release the prisoners, but they must shift
"And the dead, sir?" questioned the second office.
Jack lifted his cap from his head.
"The dead," he said softly, "must be left to the mercy of the
sea. We can do them no good."
The second officer saluted and hurried away.
Frank and Jack superintended the lowering of the boats. Each
small craft already contained a quantity of provisions and water,
and, at Jack's command, such small arms as could be hurriedly
secured were thrown overboard. The wounded were lifted gently
into the boats -- the dead left where they had fallen. The last
act was to release the prisoners. That was all that could be
done for them.
At last all the boats were manned, and, at a word from Jack, they
put away from the ship. Each boat was crowded, for some had been
damaged in the battle with the German cruiser and made unfit for
Slowly the boats pulled away from the Lena.
"Which way?" asked Frank.
"Due east," replied Jack. "We must be some place off the coast
of France, and, unless a storm arises, we stand a good chance of
reaching land safely."
He cast his eyes toward the Lena.
"And hurry!" he commanded. "The Lena is likely to go down any
moment, and, if we do not put some distance between us, she is
likely to carry us under also."
The men in the boats bent to their work with a will, and soon
they were out of danger.
"There she goes!" exclaimed Frank suddenly, and, standing up in
the boat, be pointed a finger toward the Lena.
Slowly the ship had been settling by the head. Now she sank
lower and lower in the water. A terrible hissing arose and went
forth across the sea. The water had reached her boilers.
Then the bow of the ship climbed clear out of the water, for a
moment pointed almost straight toward the sky -- it seemed that
she would turn completely over -- then suddenly lurched heavily
forward, and dived.
The water foamed angrily white, parted quietly for the Lena, as
she took her death plunge, rose high in the air; then, its fury
over, closed calmly over her. The Lena was gone.
"And so," said Jack sadly, "goes my first command!"
Frank laid his hand on his friend's arm.
"It's pretty tough," he said, "but there is no use crying over
spilt milk. What can't be cured must be endured, you know."
"You are right," replied Jack, "and the thing do now is to try
and reach land."
Standing up in the boat and shading his eyes with one band he
looked eastward across the water for a long time. Then he sat
"See anything?" Frank asked.
"Have you any idea how far we are from shore?"
"I don't believe we can be very far away. With clear weather and
steady rowing I believe we should make land within twenty-four
hours, at least."
"Well," said Frank, "when we get ashore, what then?"
"Why," replied Jack, "we must return to London if we can and
report to the Admiralty."
"And then what?"
"Then," said Jack slowly, "I hope we shall once more be assigned
to a ship that is going into battle, that we may avenge ourselves
for the loss of the Lena, and, yes, the death of Lord Hastings!"
UNDER THE TRICOLOR
It was to be many a long day before Frank and Jack were destined
to see London again.
All day, following the loss of the Lena, the little boats bobbed
up and down on the smooth sea, as they headed eastward as fast as
strong British arms could drive them. All day the sun shone
brightly, but as night drew on the air became cold and
penetrating. The men wrapped themselves up as tightly as they
could but even this did not keep out the chill.
Frank and Jack took turns sleeping and in keeping watch. At
length the darkness began to give way to light; and, in the cold
gray dawn of another day Jack, standing watch in the first boat,
made out something in the distance that caused him to utter a
Because of the intense darkness they had approached thus close
without having gained a glimpse of what Jack now saw.
It was land.
Frank, aroused by Jack's cry, was on his feet in an instant and
echoed his friend's cry of joy.
"Where do you suppose we are?" he asked.
"At a rough guess, I should say off the coast of France," was
"Good! Then we should be perfectly safe."
"I wouldn't be too sure of that," said Jack. "You never can tell
what is going to happen in times like these. However, we will
land as soon as possible."
The sun was high in the sky when the first of the little boats,
rounding a sharp promontory, came in sight of a large vessel.
She was plainly a ship of war, anchored a mile off the coast in a
little bay. Beyond the lads could make out the houses of what
appeared to be a small town.
"Wonder what place that is?" said Frank.
"I don't know," replied Jack, "but we'll soon find out. See!
Our presence has been discovered."
Frank looked in the direction Jack pointed. It was true. They
were close enough to the vessel now for the lads to make out
several figures standing upon the deck, pointing toward them and
A moment later and the guns on the vessel shone in the sunlight,
as the ship came about. They were pointed squarely at the little
A flag was quickly, run up to the masthead. The boys made it out
in an instant -- the tricolor of France. A cheer went up from
the British sailors, and in one of the boats a sailor sprang to
his feet and waved a British ensign above his head.
This was seen from the deck of the French vessel, and several
small boats were hurriedly manned and came toward the British.
Within hailing distance a voice cried out in French:
"Who are you and where from?"
"British prize crew aboard German merchantman, which was sunk by
a German cruiser yesterday," Jack shouted back.
The French boats approached closer. The men in them were all
armed, and it was plainly apparent they were not too confident of
the identity of the British. They held their rifles ready for
instant use, and small rapid-firers in the prow of each craft
were ready for business.
But now that the French had approached close enough for their
commander to distinguish the faces of the English sailors the
tenseness of the French sailors relaxed, and they came on more
confidently. The French officer ran his boat close to the one
occupied by Frank and Jack and leaped lightly aboard it. The
lads rose to greet him.
All three saluted, and the French officer said:
"I'm glad to see you."
"Not half as glad as we are to see you," replied Jack with
enthusiasm. "This time yesterday we didn't know whether we would
ever see land again or not."
"You have been adrift all that time?" questioned the officer.
"You said something about having been sunk by a German cruiser.
Why didn't they pick you up?"
"Because they were already at the bottom of the sea," replied
"You mean that you sunk them with the small guns of your ship?"
asked the officer in great wonderment.
"Yes," replied Jack briefly. "We were fortunate enough to do
that with our last shot."
"Good for you!" ejaculated the officer. "But come! You must go
aboard the Marie Theresa. Captain Dreyfuss will indeed be glad
to greet two such gallant Englishmen."
It was fully half an hour later, the lads in the meantime having
seen to the disposition of the British sailors aboard the French
cruiser, before Jack and Frank were seated in the commander's
cabin, relating their experiences to him.
"And what do you plan to do now?" asked the commander, after he
had complimented the boys upon their gallant conduct.
"Well," replied Frank, "we had thought of returning to London.
By the way, just whereabouts are we?"
The commander swept an arm in the direction of the little town.
"That," he said, "is St. Julien, on the southern coast of France.
Bordeaux is to the north, and, in the event that you are planning
to return to London, it will be necessary to go that way. If I
were bound that way, I would gladly land you there, but I am
"May I ask which way you are going?" asked Frank.
"I am bound for the Adriatic," replied the commander, "to join
the rest of the French fleet blockading the Austrians there."
"By Jove!' ejaculated Jack suddenly, struck with a sudden idea.
"Why cannot we go with you, Captain Dreyfuss."
"Go with me?" echoed the commander of the Marie Theresa.
"Yes," cried Frank, falling in with the idea at once. "May we,
The captain mused silently for some time.
"It would be very irregular," he said at length.
"We would certainly be pleased to see service under another
flag," persisted Jack.
"Indeed we would," agreed Frank; "and we would be willing to go in
any capacity. If we go to London we may have a long wait before
being assigned to another ship."
Suddenly Captain Dreyfuss slapped his leg with his hand and got
to his feet.
"It shall be done," he said; "and, I may say that I shall be glad
of your company. I will have you shown your quarters. As it
happens, I am short handed. I shall see that your crew is set
ashore and given passage for London."
At his signal a young midshipman entered the cabin and came to
"I place these young men in your charge," Captain Dreyfuss said
to him. "You will show them quarters. From this time on they
will be your shipmates."
The young Frenchman saluted, and the lads followed him from the
He showed them to very neat quarters and said abruptly:
"You will bunk here."
He departed without another word. Frank and Jack stared after
him in some surprise.
"Nice, pleasant companion he'll make," said Frank with fine
"I should say so," answered Jack. "From his actions you'd think
we had done something to offend him."
"Oh, well," said Frank, "I guess we don't need to worry a whole
lot about him."
"No," said Jack, "but just the same I would rather be on good
terms with all on board."
The British sailors had now been gathered on deck and Frank and
Jack went up to bid them goodbye. As they were rowed away in the
direction of the little town the sailors stood up in the boats
and gave three lusty cheers for both lads. The lads waved their
hats at them.
"You'd think these English were somebody," came a voice from
Frank's elbow, and turning the lad saw several French midshipmen
standing nearby. "They leave us to do all the fighting,"
continued one, whom Frank now recognized as the one who had
escorted them to their quarters. "If they fought as well as they
talk, this war wouldn't last long."
Frank took a quick step toward the speaker, but Jack's hand fell
on his arm and stayed him.
"Quiet," said Jack. "We don't want to have any trouble with
them. Besides their words do not apply to you. You are
"You are right," said Frank, and turned away.
Suddenly Captain Dreyfuss' voice rang out on the bridge.
Instantly all became bustle and confusion. The Marie Theresa was
about to get under way. Not yet having been assigned to their
duties, Jack and Frank stood a little to one side.
Slowly the big battle cruiser got under way. With her flag
flying proudly, she turned her stern toward the shore and made
for the open sea. Soon she was heading southward at full speed.
Now a second midshipman approached the lads.
"I am instructed to show you your duties," he said, without
enthusiasm, and the boys could see that he was not well pleased
with his task.
Frank stepped up to him and held out his hand. "See here," he
said, "why can't we be friends?'
The Frenchman took the proffered hand and shook it
half-heartedly. He glanced furtively about, evidently in fear
that some of his comrades might see him in this compromising
situation. Then, as rapidly as possible, he instructed the lads
in their tasks.
"And now," he concluded, "dinner is ready. You will mess with
the other midshipmen. Come, will show you the way."
Without a word the lads followed him. The long table was already
filled. + But there were still some vacant seats. Frank and Jack
dropped into these.
"Midshipman Templeton and Midshipman Chadwick," said their
escort, introducing them to the rest, with a sweep of his arm.
Frank and Jack rose from their seats and bowed. The young
Frenchmen barely acknowledged the introduction with nods of their
Frank's face flushed, and he made as if to rise, but, again Jack
stayed him, and they fell to eating in silence. Several times
during the meal some Frenchman inadvertently made a remark
derogatory to the fighting ability of the English.
Frank held his temper, though his face burned,'' and Jack was
fearful that his friend would soon be mixed up in trouble again.
However, the meal finally came to an end, and Jack and Frank
arose with the others to leave the room.
To the deck below, where the midshipmen were wont to spend most
of their leisure hours, the lads followed the Frenchmen. Here
some drew cigarettes from their pockets, and, in spite of the
regulations against this practice, proceeded to light up in most
Then they broke up into little knots, and Jack and Frank found
themselves left to themselves.
"Come," said Jack at length, "we might as well go on deck."
He took Frank by the arm and started away. As they neared the
door, a big, hulking Frenchman suddenly stretched forth a foot,
and Frank, who had not noticed this obstruction, tripped and fell
heavily to the deck.
He was up in a moment, his face a dull red. He turned on the now
giggling midshipmen, angrily.
"Who did that?" he demanded, taking a step forward and doubling
up his fists.
A laugh went round the room, but there was, no reply.
"Who did that?" demanded Frank again.
The big French middie who had tripped the lad stepped forward.
"I did it," he replied, thrusting out his face. "What of it?"
"Just this," replied Frank, and started forward. Jack stopped
"Here's where I get into this," he said quietly. "I tried to
keep out, but it's no use. Stand aside, Frank, can't you see you
are no match for him."
"Step aside nothing," said Frank, struggling, in Jack's grasp.
"I never saw a Frenchman yet I couldn't lick."
"Well," said Jack calmly, "this is one you won't lick. I'm going
to do it myself. It's my fight, anyway in vain did Frank
struggle. He was like a child in his friend's strong hands.
The big Frenchman thrust his face forward again.
"So you are going to interfere, are you?" he said.
"Yes," said Jack pleasantly, "and you'll wish I hadn't."
"Then take that," cried the Frenchman, and struck out suddenly.
Jack leaped back quickly, but he was not swift enough to entirely
avoid the blow. A tiny stream of blood trickled from his nose.
Without a word he calmly drew a handkerchief from his pocket and
wiped away the red drops. Then he stepped forward and spoke to
"Now," he said quietly, "this chap is going to pay for that. Are
you gentlemen here? Will you see that this is conducted in a
proper manner, or is it to be a rough-and-tumble?"
One of the French middies stepped forward suddenly. He offered
Jack his hand.
"I'll see that it is conducted ship-shape," he said. "You
impress me as a brave man, and I'll see that you get fair play."
"Thanks," said Jack laconically, accepting his hand.
"I might as well tell you, however," continued the Frenchman,
"that you are up against more than your match. This man is one
of the heavyweight aspirants for the championship of the French
navy, and has several scalps to his credit."
"I guess he hasn't bumped up against an Englishman," was Jack's
"What's it to be?" asked the Frenchman.
"Anything suits me," said Jack.
"To a finish," grumbled Jack's antagonist.
Quickly a square was marked off, and, enjoining the spectators to
silence, the young Frenchman who appeared more friendly than the
rest as self-appointed referee called time.
Jack and his opponent squared off.