Part 4 out of 4
Jack and Harris had kept up a steady flow of conversation regarding the
probable fate that was in store for them if they poked their heads
outside the door, and at last Jack rose to his feet.
"Well," he said quietly, "there is no need of staying here. We may as
well make a break for it Chances are, if we are quick enough, we can
get into the open without being shot down."
"Not in these clothes," said Harris.
"True enough. We'll have a look for other clothing. What do you say,
"I'm not convinced yet the man is not coming back," said Frank, "but I
tell you what I will do. We'll hunt up some other clothes and get into
them. Then we'll wait until twelve o'clock. If he has not returned by
that time, I'm with you."
"Fair enough," said Harris. "Come on."
The three made their way upstairs, where they started a thorough search
of the house; and at last Jack ran onto a closet in which were stored
half a dozen suits of civilian clothes.
He called the others.
"All right if they'll fit," said Harris.
Fortunately, they did fit; and fifteen minutes later the three were
garbed in plain citizens' attire. They left their uniforms in the room
where they had changed.
"Now to see if we can find a few guns," said Jack.
Again they searched the house.
Frank was the first to find a weapon. There were two revolvers in a
drawer of a writing desk in the parlor and with them was a goodly
supply of ammunition. Frank gave one of the guns to Jack.
"We ought to be able to find one more," said Harris. "I've got to have
They ransacked the house from top to bottom; and at length Frank came
across another weapon. Harris gave an exclamation of satisfaction.
"Let's divide up that ammunition, now," he said.
This was done and the three returned to the parlor. Frank glanced at
"Five minutes to twelve," he said. "We'll wait until midnight and not a
To this the others agreed.
"I guess you were right after all," Frank told his companions. "Still I
can't understand this thing at all."
"You'll probably understand it better when you stick your head out the
door and a bullet hits close to it," said Harris, grimly.
"No; I don't believe there is anything like that going to happen,"
Frank declared. "Maybe he was detained and couldn't get back on time."
"When he gets back he'll find us missing," said Harris.
"He will unless he hurries," Frank agreed.
The minutes passed slowly; but at last the hands of Frank's watch
pointed to midnight.
The lad closed the case of his watch with a snap and rose to his feet.
He examined his revolver carefully to make sure it was in working order
and then said:
"Time's up; may as well be moving."
The three advanced cautiously to the front door. Behind, the house was
"Careful when you open the door, Frank," Jack warned. "Stoop down.
There is no telling what may be lurking out there."
Frank heeded this warning. Stooping, he opened the door, threw it wide
and looked out.
"Coast clear," he announced.
He was about to step out when the sound of hurried footsteps came to
"Wait a minute," Frank whispered. "Some one coming."
A man appeared down the street. He came nearer. Frank gave an
exclamation of satisfaction:
"Come on back to the parlor," he whispered. "Here he comes now."
Jack and Harris obeyed Frank's injunction and the three flitted back to
the parlor silently.
A moment later the front door opened softly and directly the officer
appeared in the parlor door.
"I came almost not getting here," he said with a smile. "Did you get
"So tired," said Frank, "that we were just about to leave when I
chanced to see you coming down the street."
"So? Well, you would have had a hard time escaping, I am afraid. Now,
my way it will be easier. I have had my means of escape laid out ever
since I arrived here. Unless something unforeseen occurs, we should be
able to get away without difficulty."
"I am sure I hope so," declared Frank.
Their captor surveyed the three closely.
"I see you are all ready," he said. "Changed your clothes, eh?"
"I hope you didn't think we were going prowling about the street in our
British uniforms?" said Jack.
"Hardly. By any chance did you find weapons, too?"
Frank hesitated. For a moment he debated what was best to answer.
However, the odds were now three against one, so he replied:
"Yes; we have a gun apiece."
"Good; then we may as well be moving. The car should be here in ten
minutes at the latest. You see, that's why I was late. Had a blowout
aways back. We had to come in on foot. I sent my driver for another car
while I hurried here, for I was afraid that you might do something
rash. You see, I know more about you than you think I do."
"I wish you would tell us who you are, sir," said Jack.
"All in good time," replied the officer with a smile. "All in good
Came a "honk-honk" from without.
"There's our car," said the officer quietly. "Come along."
Without a word the others followed him through the dark hall, out the
door and down the steps, where they climbed into the car, in the rear
seat, their captor taking his seat with the driver.
The automobile started immediately.
They rode along slowly for perhaps an hour; and they came to what the
lads recognized immediately as the water front. Their captor called a
halt and climbed out, motioning the lads to follow him. Immediately
they had alighted, the automobile drove away.
Straight down to the water their captor led the way. Jack whispered to
"You can't tell me we are going to get away from here as easily as all
"Sh-h-h!" was Frank's reply.
Jack thereafter maintained a discreet silence.
At the edge of the pier their captor pointed to a small rowboat in the
"We'll get in here," he said.
They did so and a moment later they were being rowed across the water
by a man Frank recognized as a German sailor. The thing was becoming
A short distance ahead there now loomed up what appeared to be nothing
more than a motorboat of considerable size. The rowboat approached this
craft and the officer motioned his three companions to follow him
aboard. They did so.
Aboard, they saw that the vessel upon the deck of which they stood was
in reality a pleasure yacht, now converted into a vessel of war. A look
at her graceful outlines and long slender body told all three that the
vessel was built for speed.
Their captor had halted and waited for the three to come up with him.
"Follow me below," he whispered. "I'll do the talking. Agree with
whatever I say and listen carefully to my every word."
The three friends obeyed.
Below they were ushered into what proved to be the commander's cabin.
An officer in the dress of a lieutenant commander of the German navy
rose and greeted the boys' captor with a salute and an extended hand.
Their captor grasped the hand.
"Commander von Ludwig, I take it," said the commander of the vessel.
Von Ludwig bowed.
"The same, sir," he replied. "I have here a paper that gives me command
of your vessel, sir. You are ordered to report to Berlin at once."
"I have been expecting you, sir," was the reply. "I shall leave at
once, if your boatman is still near."
"I ordered him to await you," was von Ludwig's reply.
The commander of the German vessel glanced at von Ludwig's three
"Your officers?" he asked.
"Yes. Your officers will be relieved in the morning."
"Very well, sir. Then I shall leave you. A safe and successful voyage
to you, sir."
"The same to you, sir."
Von Ludwig, motioning to his companions to remain in the cabin until
his return, went on deck with the departing commander. A few moments
later the latter was being rowed ashore. For the space of several
seconds, von Ludwig gazed after him, a peculiar smile lighting up his
face as he murmured:
"If you only knew what a time I had getting the paper I just gave you,
you would not be going so serenely about your business right now. Oh,
He threw open his arms with a gesture and descended to his cabin.
"Now," he said to Jack, Frank and Harris, "the first thing we must do
is to secure the crew and the officers of this vessel. The crew, I
happen to know, numbers only ten men. There are two officers. We shall
have to overcome them."
"And how are we going to work the ship, sir?" asked Jack.
Von Ludwig glanced at the lad sharply.
"You would be a better sailor, sir, if you would follow orders without
question," he said sharply; then added more calmly: "However, I shall
tell you, for I can see none of you trust me fully. I have my own crew
of five men coming aboard within the hour."
"I beg your pardon, sir," said Jack.
"That's all right," said von Ludwig. "Now follow me."
The others did as ordered. Before a door not far from the commander's
cabin von Ludwig stopped.
"In there you will find the first officer," he said
He motioned to Frank and Jack. "Get him and get him quietly."
The lads nodded their understanding and von Ludwig signalled Harris to
Jack laid his hand on the knob of the door and turned it gently. The
door flew open without a sound.
"Find the light switch, Frank," Jack whispered.
Frank's hand felt carefully over the wall.
"Turn it on when I give the word," said Jack. "I may need to see what I
"All right; but be careful, Jack."
Slowly Jack tiptoed across the room, where he could dimly see a form
stretched across a bunk. Bending over the figure, Jack raised a hand
and then called to Frank:
Instantly, Frank threw the switch and then sprang forward to lend Jack
a hand should it be necessary. But his assistance was not needed.
Jack's fist rose and fell once and the form in the bunk gasped feebly
once and lay still.
"I don't like that sort of thing," said Jack, "but I suppose it had to
be done. Help me bind him up and gag him. He's not badly hurt and will
come round in a few minutes."
It was the work of but a few moments to tear the sheets into strips and
to bind and gag the helpless man. Then Jack and Frank left the cabin.
At almost the same instant von Ludwig and Harris came from a second
"All right?" asked von Ludwig.
"All right, sir. And you?"
"Everything shipshape. Now for the crew. First, however," he said,
addressing Jack and Frank, "don the clothing of these two officers. You
shall be my second and third in command."
The lads returned to the cabin they had just quitted and stripped the
prisoner. Jack donned the uniform, for the German was a big man. Then
they hurried into the second cabin and performed a similar operation
and Frank soon was attired in the uniform of a German lieutenant.
"Now," said von Ludwig, "have the crew report here and keep your guns
Frank made his way aft, and in German, called:
"All hands forward!"
The crew came tumbling from their bunks and hurried forward, most of
the men no more than half dressed. Jack, Frank and Harris, on either
side of von Ludwig, confronted them.
"Men," said von Ludwig, "I am the new commander of this ship and we
shall get under way immediately. Fearing that you will not always obey
my commands, I have brought along these little persuaders."
A pair of automatics flashed in his hands and covered the ten sailors.
"Hands up!" he cried.
Taken completely by surprise there was nothing for the German sailors
to do but obey. Up went their hands. Von Ludwig called to Harris.
"Help me keep them covered," he said, "while you other two tie them
Under the muzzles of the revolvers levelled in steady hands by von
Ludwig and Harris, Jack and Frank set to work binding the members of
the crew. A few minutes later the work was done.
"Trundle them into that cabin there," said von Ludwig, motioning to an
open door. "Tie them there so they cannot release their own bonds or
the bonds of the others. Then report to me on deck."
The lads obeyed. It was the work of only a few moments, struggle as the
Germans did. Then Frank and Jack went on deck.
A short distance away a rowboat was coming rapidly toward the
_Bismarck_--for such was the name of the vessel on which the lads found
Von Ludwig pointed to it.
"My crew!" he said quietly.
A few moments later the little skiff scraped alongside the _Bismarck_.
One at a time its occupants--five in number--scrambled over the side
and stood before von Ludwig. The latter scrutinized each man closely.
"All right," he said at length.
He selected three men.
"You report to the engine room immediately," he said. "You will find
everything ready. The crew has been overpowered and there will be no
one to interfere with you."
The men moved away. Von Ludwig addressed the other two.
"Take the lookout forward," he said to one; and to the other: "Go aft
and keep your eyes open." Then he spoke to Harris. "I'll appoint you in
command in the engine room," he said. "Heed your signals carefully."
"Very well, sir," he said and disappeared.
Von Ludwig motioned to Jack and Frank, who followed him to the bridge.
The officer cast a quick glance over the water and said:
"I guess there is no reason to delay longer. Mr. Chadwick, will you
take the wheel? I'll be with you in a moment to give you your
Frank moved away. Von Ludwig was just about to address Jack when he
made out another rowboat coming toward the _Bismarck_.
"Hello!" he said aloud. "Wonder what's up now. Guess we'd better wait a
The rowboat drew closer and Frank discovered it was filled with men.
"Boat crowded with men, sir," he exclaimed.
"So!" exclaimed von Ludwig. "Then I guess we won't wait, after all. You
may get under way, Mr. Templeton."
With this order von Ludwig took his place beside Frank at the wheel and
produced a chart. The bell in the engine room tinkled. A moment later
the engines began to move and the _Bismarck_ slipped easily through the
Came a hail from the rowboat.
"Wait a moment, there!"
Von Ludwig paid no attention to this call. The _Bismarck_ gathered
"Haven't time to talk to you fellows," said von Ludwig. "We want to be
a long ways from here before daylight."
There was a sound of a shot from the rowboat, followed by many other
shots. Von Ludwig waved a hand in derision.
"You're too late," he called. "Shoot away. I don't think you will hit
"But, sir," said Frank, "they will awaken every sleepy German
"That's so," said von Ludwig. He called to Jack: "Full speed ahead, Mr.
Jack gave the word and the vessel dashed ahead.
"I don't know anything about these waters, sir," exclaimed Frank, in
some alarm. "There may be mines about."
"Not here," was von Ludwig's reply. "Farther on, yes. That's why I have
this chart. We'll run the mine fields safely enough, barring
"What is my course, sir?" asked Frank.
"Due north until I tell you to change."
Frank said nothing further, but guided the vessel according to
instructions. Behind, the rowboat had given up the chase, but now, from
other parts of the harbor, from which the _Bismarck_ was fast speeding,
came sounds of confusion.
Searchlights came to play upon the _Bismarck_.
Von Ludwig sighed deeply.
"I was in hopes we would get away without trouble," he said, "but it
seems we won't. The erstwhile commander of this vessel must have
discovered in some manner that he has been fooled."
"We'll have every ship of war hereabouts after us, sir," said Frank.
"That's what we will," was Von Ludwig's reply. "However, I am not
afraid of their catching us. This vessel has the heels of anything in
this port. Trouble is, though, they may tip off vessels on the outside
of our coming, by wireless."
"What shall we do then, sir?"
"We'll have to manage to get by them some way; for if we should be
caught now it would mean the noose for all of us."
"Not a very cheerful prospect, sir," said Frank, quietly.
"I agree with you. However, they haven't caught us yet. We'll give them
a hard race."
"Is the vessel armed, sir?"
"It should be, if I have been informed correctly. I'll have a look
about. Hold to your course until I return."
He moved away. He was back in a few moments, however, with the
announcement that there were four 12-pounders aft, as well as four
"Enough to fight with," he announced gravely.
"But we haven't the men to man them, sir," protested Frank.
"We'll impress our prisoners into service if it's necessary. With a man
to guard them they can handle the engine room."
"I am afraid it will come to that, sir," said Frank.
Von Ludwig shrugged.
"What will be, will be," he replied quietly.
And it did come to that, as Frank had predicted As the vessel still
flew through the water at full speed, there came a sudden cry from the
"Cruiser off our port bow, sir!"
Von Ludwig sprang forward. He gazed at the vessel quickly and then
called to Frank:
"Port your helm hard!"
Frank obeyed without question and the _Bismarck_ swung about sharply.
Von Ludwig sprang to his side.
"They'll pick us up with their searchlight in a minute or two," he
cried. "Come with me, Templeton! Chadwick, hold that course till I
Jack sprang after von Ludwig. The latter hurried to the cabin where
the German prisoners were confined. He unloosened the bonds of five.
"You men," he said sharply, "will go before us to the engine room,
where you will perform the necessary duties."
Under the muzzles of the weapons of Jack and von Ludwig, the men
obeyed, for there seemed nothing else to do. In the engine room von
"I want you men to put forth your best efforts. Any foolishness and you
will be shot, for I will take no chances. Harris, can you guard them?"
"Yes, sir," replied Harris, with a smile. "Give me another gun, sir."
Von Ludwig passed a revolver to Harris.
"There must be no half way methods here," he said quietly. "Shoot the
first man who makes a false move. Ask questions afterward. Our lives
depend upon it."
"I shall obey your instructions, sir."
"Good!" Von Ludwig addressed the former engine-room crew. "Follow me,
men," he exclaimed.
No questions were asked and the others followed Jack and von Ludwig
from the room, leaving Harris in command of the German crew of five.
These Germans, under the muzzles of Harris' two revolvers, fell to work
Von Ludwig led the former engine-room crew to the guns forward.
"Man these guns," he said quietly. "There may be fighting to do. When I
give the word fire as rapidly and as accurately as possible at the
closest enemy vessel."
"Very well, sir," said one of the men.
Von Ludwig called to Jack to follow him and returned to the bridge.
There he gave a slight alteration in course to Frank and the vessel's
head turned slightly.
"Funny they haven't raised us with that searchlight," von Ludwig
muttered to himself.
The _Bismarck_ was dashing through the water at a rapid gait. Suddenly
she became the center of a blinding glare. The searchlight of a German
cruiser a half a mile to port had picked them up. Von Ludwig gave a
sharp command to the men who manned the forward guns.
"Aim and fire!" he cried.
A moment later one of the guns spoke and a shell screamed across the
water toward the German cruiser. Apparently it did not find its mark,
however, for nothing happened aboard the enemy to indicate the shot had
"Again!" cried von Ludwig.
Another gun boomed. Followed a sharp explosion.
"Good work, men!" cried von Ludwig. "Try it again."
But the next shot came from the enemy. A shell screamed overhead.
"They'll do better with the next shot, sir," said Jack, quietly.
"So they will," was von Ludwig's quiet response. "Starboard your helm,
Frank obeyed immediately, and again the course of the _Bismarck_ was
changed quickly; and none too soon.
For another salvo had come from the German cruiser and two shells flew
past the spot where the _Bismarck_ would have been at that moment had
her course not suddenly been altered.
"Fire, men!" cried von Ludwig. "Fire as fast as you can. If you can't
disable her we are done for!"
The men who manned the _Bismarck's_ guns were working like Trojans.
Once, twice, thrice more they fired; and upon the fourth shot there
came a cry of dismay from aboard the enemy cruiser.
"Must have hit something, sir," said Frank.
"Right. I trust it was a vulnerable spot."
Twice more the German cruiser fired at the _Bismarck_, but without
result. The smaller vessel was drawing ahead rapidly now.
"Fifteen minutes and we will be safe," said von Ludwig.
The men aboard the _Bismarck_ continued to fire at the German cruiser,
but apparently none of the other shots found their mark. The German, it
could be seen, was in full pursuit, but the smaller vessel forged
rapidly ahead with each turn of her screws. And at last von Ludwig
"Well, I guess we are safe enough here."
But even as he spoke a cry apprised him of a newer and closer danger!
A TERRIBLE STRUGGLE
The trouble had started in the engine room. Hardly had the _Bismarck_
drawn clear of the fire of the German cruiser when one of the five
members of the German crew impressed into service fell over, apparently
in a dead faint. The men, under Harris' watchful eye, had been working
hard and the first thought that struck the Englishman was that the man
had dropped from exhaustion.
Hastily he shoved one of his automatics in his belt and advancing,
stooped over the man. Instantly, the other four Germans rushed for him.
Harris heard them coming and attempted to get to his feet. He was too
late. A heavy shovel, wielded by one of his four assailants, struck him
a hard blow over the head and Harris fell to the deck unconscious.
Quickly the men relieved him of his two weapons and then they held a
"We must release the others first," said one man.
This plan was agreed upon and the man who had suggested it was
appointed to make his way to where the others were imprisoned and free
them. A moment later he slipped stealthily from the engine room and as
stealthily approached the cabin where his fellow countrymen were
imprisoned. Inside, he closed the door quickly and in a low voice
cautioned the others to silence.
Quickly he unloosened their bonds and the five sailors and two officers
rose and stretched their cramped limbs. In a few words the German
sailor gave his officers the lay of the land and the first lieutenant
"In the next cabin," he said, "is a chest containing revolvers and
ammunition. Bring it here."
Two men hurried to obey and returned a few moments later bearing the
chest. The two officers armed themselves and the men.
"These English must be very careless," said one, "else we would never
have this chance."
The others agreed and the two officers considered what was best to be
"How many are there, did you say?" asked the first officer of the man
who had released the others.
"There were nine, but we have disposed of the man in the engine room."
"Then we are twelve to eight. Good! First we will try and capture the
bridge and the wheel. As we are in command of the engine room, the rest
should be easy. It will not be necessary to capture all the English.
With the bridge, wheel and engine room in our possession, we can run
the vessel back into the harbor. Come on, men!"
They advanced quietly from the cabin and made their way on deck. It was
the appearance of the first head that had called forth a cry from one
of the British that had attracted von Ludwig's attention. Wheeling
quickly, von Ludwig saw the Germans dash from below.
With a quick cry to the others, he drew his revolver and fired. One man
toppled over. The odds against the British were one less; but the
others sprang forward. Frank, at the wheel, was forced to maintain his
position while the others did the fighting.
The lookout forward and the man stationed aft advanced to take part in
the fray, though keeping out of sight as well as possible.
"Turn the gun on them, men!" cried von Ludwig.
The three men who manned the gun sought to obey, but the gun stuck. It
would not turn. Most likely it had been damaged in the battle with the
German cruiser. The British tried the other guns, but with no better
"Stay where you are," shouted van Ludwig to the men at the guns. "Keep
them between us, if possible."
The gun crew, who had been on the point of trying to join von Ludwig
and Jack, saw the strategy of this plan and stooped down behind the
guns. The lookout forward also stepped behind the mainmast, where he
began to blaze away at the foe. The man aft, by a dash, succeeded in
reaching the side of von Ludwig and Jack.
Frank, at the wheel, was in a perilous situation, but there he had
determined to stay until ordered to shift his position.
"Signal the engine room to slow down," said von Ludwig to Jack.
Jack obeyed and the ship came to a pause. Apparently the men below
believed the Germans had recaptured the ship.
"If Harris is still in command down there, we are all right," said von
Ludwig. "If not, there will be more of the enemy up here in a minute."
And within a minute more of the enemy appeared.
"Back here, Chadwick!" exclaimed von Ludwig. "Never mind the wheel."
Frank sprang to the shelter of the bridge, Jack and von Ludwig
protecting his retreat. Frank drew his revolver.
A German poked his head from the companion-way and Frank took a snap
shot. The head disappeared and there was a howl of pain.
"Got one, I guess," said the lad quietly.
The effect of this shot was to infuriate the Germans. The first officer
commanded a charge on the bridge.
Ten men dashed forward at the word.
Now the four in the shelter of the bridge--von Ludwig, Frank, Jack and
the man who had come from the after part of the vessel, stood to their
full height and fired into the crowd. From the rear, the three other
British also poured in a volley and the lookout stepped into the open
Caught thus between three fires, the Germans were at a loss what to do.
One man dropped and the others dashed for the protection of the
companionway. Before reaching there, however, the first German officer
gave the command to scatter and several of the Germans posted
themselves behind whatever shelter offered on deck. The battle had
reached a deadlock.
The British could not expose themselves without danger of being struck
by a German bullet; and the Germans confronted the same situation.
"Signal the engine room, Jack," instructed von Ludwig. "We must know
whether Harris is still alive."
There was no response to the signal.
"Poor fellow," said von Ludwig. "They probably have done for him."
From time to time Jack signalled the engine room, thinking perhaps that
Harris had only been wounded and that he might answer. Upon the fifth
signal he received an answer.
Then Jack signalled: "Full speed ahead."
A moment later the vessel leaped forward. There came a cry of
consternation from the Germans, who tumbled back down the steps. As
they did so, Frank again sprang to the wheel and brought the head of
the _Bismarck_ sharply about--for since he had released his hold on the
wheel the vessel had been drifting.
Quickly the lad lashed the wheel with several lengths of cable and then
sprang back to the bridge amid a volley of revolver bullets from the
Germans who still held the deck. None hit him.
Below, in the engine room, Harris was facing heavy odds. Before
answering Jack's signal, after regaining consciousness, he had closed
and barred the engine-room door and now he paid no attention to the
hammering upon it. He smiled grimly to himself.
"You won't get in here as long as that door holds," he said. "Before
that I should have assistance."
The pounding upon the door continued.
"We'll have to lend Harris a hand, sir," said Jack. "They are too many
for him down there."
"The first man that steps clear of this bridge is likely to get shot,"
declared von Ludwig. "However, as you say, we must lend him a hand." He
called to the men who were still safe behind the guns. "Make a rush
this way," he said. "We'll cover your retreat."
A moment later three forms flitted across the deck. Two German heads
were raised from their cover. Frank accounted for one and von Ludwig
for the other. Thus were three of the enemy placed _hors de combat_.
Seven had rushed below. There were still two left on deck.
A spurt of flame showed Jack where one was hidden.
With a quick move the lad sprang from the bridge and threw himself to
the deck on his face. There was another spurt of flame and a bullet
whistled over his head. Before the man could fire again, Jack had
leaped forward and seized him by his revolver arm. Angrily, the lad
wrested the weapon from the man's grasp.
The latter drew a knife. There was but one thing for Jack to do.
Quickly he raised his revolver, pointed it squarely at the German's
face, and fired.
A flash of flame had betrayed the hiding place of the last German on
deck. Two of the British rushed for him. The German accounted for both
of them before they could reach him.
The losses so far, had been two British and four of the enemy. There
were still six British on deck and a single German; but seven Teutons
were still hammering at the door of the engine room in an effort to get
"We've got to get rid of this fellow on deck," muttered Frank. He spoke
to one of the men near him.
"You advance from one side and I'll advance from the other," said the
lad quietly. "The man, apparently, is a dead shot and he probably will
get one of us. But he's dangerous there. He may fire at you and he may
fire at me, but the other will get him."
The man nodded that he understood, and one from each side of the bridge
As it transpired it was not Frank who was to pay the penalty for this
rash advance. Perceiving two men approaching, one from either side, the
German fired. Quickly, Frank raised his revolver and also fired. The
German threw up his arms and fell to the deck.
Frank turned quickly and looked for the man who had left the shelter of
the bridge with him. He lay prone on the deck.
"Poor fellow," said Frank. "Yet it had to be done. Just luck that it
"Deck's clear, sir," said Frank to von Ludwig. "Now to lend Harris a
hand in the engine room."
"Forward, then," said von Ludwig. "All except you, Frank, and you,
Jack. You two stay on deck. Take the wheel again, Frank. Jack, you
stand at the head of the companionway and shoot the first German who
"Very well, sir," said Jack, although he was disappointed that he was
not permitted to go to Harris' aid.
"The others follow me," said von Ludwig.
There were but two other men that could follow.
"You are attempting too much, sir," said Jack.
"I think not," said von Ludwig, calmly.
He led the way below.
THE CHEATING OF HARRIS
Below, Harris had just armed himself with a great iron bar; for he knew
that the door was about to give under the attacks of the Germans.
"The fools!" he said to himself. "Why don't they blow the lock off?"
It seemed that the same thought struck the German first officer at
about the same moment. Motioning his men back, he approached the door
and put the muzzle of his revolver against the lock. He pulled the
trigger, and when the Germans again surged against the door it flew
open beneath their weight.
One man stumbled headlong through the door. As he did so, Harris raised
his heavy bar and brought it down on the man's head. The German dropped
with a crushed skull.
But before Harris could raise his weapon again the Germans had closed
about him and sought to strike him down with the butts of their
revolvers. The struggling figures were so closely entwined now that the
enemy could not fire without fear of hitting one of their own number.
Harris struck out right and left and men staggered back before his
terrific blows. Then came the sounds of running footsteps without.
"Back!" called the German first officer.
Two British heads appeared in the doorway almost simultaneously.
"Crack! Crack! Crack! Crack!"
The Germans poured a volley into the two men and the latter sagged to
Harris, at the same moment, had jumped toward the door. As he leaped
over the prostrate forms, he collided with von Ludwig.
"Quick, sir!" he cried. "They are too many for us. Back on deck!"
There was something in Harris' manner that impressed von Ludwig.
Without stopping to argue, he followed Harris. When both were safe on
deck, Harris quickly closed the door of the companionway and battened
"We've a breathing spell, at any rate," he said, mopping his face.
"Why all this rush?" demanded von Ludwig. "Where are the men who went
to your assistance?"
"Dead, the same as we would be if we had lingered another moment,"
replied Harris, quietly. "It was impossible to pass through that door
without being shot down. It was only due to the diversion of the
appearance of the others that permitted me to escape."
Came heavy blows against the covering of the companionway.
"They want to come out," said Harris, grinning.
"That door won't stand much battering," said von Ludwig.
"No, it won't," was Harris' reply, "but one man can guard it well
enough. Besides, we have the bridge. We can steer the vessel where we
"As long as the engines run we can," agreed von Ludwig. "But unless I'm
greatly mistaken the Germans will soon stop them."
He was right; for a few moments later the battering at the door of the
companionway ceased and the engines ceased work.
"Well, we can't go any place now, sir," said Frank, leaving the wheel
and approaching von Ludwig and Harris at the companionway.
Jack also came up to them.
"You're right," agreed von Ludwig, "and that's not the worst of it. The
German cruiser probably is in pursuit of us. If they sight us we are
Came more violent blows on the door over the companionway, followed by
a shot from below.
Jack sprang aside as a bullet plowed its way through the hard wood.
"We'll have to stand to one side," he said. "Otherwise, they are likely
to drop one of us."
"The door will stand considerable battering," said von Ludwig. "There
is but one thing I can think of. We shall have to desert the ship."
"In what, a rowboat?" asked Frank, with some sarcasm.
"Hardly," returned von Ludwig; "but I have discovered that there is a
high-powered motor boat aboard. We can launch that and move off."
"And as soon as the Germans break out here, they'll come after us and
shoot us full of holes," said Harris.
"Well, that's true enough, too," agreed von Ludwig. "Of course, if we
had an hour's start we might get through. But the door won't hold that
Harris had been turning a plan over in his mind.
"If you please, sir," he said slowly at last, "I have a plan that may
"Let's hear it," said Frank.
"Yes; let's have it," said von Ludwig.
"Well," said Harris, "one man, with a couple of revolvers, should be
able to guard this passageway for an hour without trouble. He can shoot
the Germans down as fast as they come up. My plan is this. Let one man
stay behind on guard. The others can put off in the motor boat."
"But the one man will die," said Frank.
"Of course," said Harris, simply. "That shall be my job."
"Not much," said Jack. "I'll pick that job for myself."
"Not while I'm here you won't," declared Frank. "I'm plenty big to
guard the companionway."
"The plan you suggest, Harris," von Ludwig said quietly, "is the only
one, so far as I can see, that promises any degree of success. In my
pocket are papers that must reach the British admiralty at the earliest
"Then there is no reason why you should think of staying, sir," said
"Wait," said von Ludwig. "In a venture such as this, there is no reason
one man should be called upon to sacrifice himself more than another.
We shall all have an even chance."
"What do you mean, sir?" asked Frank.
"Simply this. We shall draw lots to see who shall remain."
"Suits me," said Harris, with a shrug.
"And me," declared Jack.
"Well, then I'm agreeable," Frank said quietly.
"Good. Harris, in the pocket of my coat, which hangs in the pilot
house, you will find a pack of cards. Bring them here."
Harris walked away and returned a few seconds later with a pack of
playing cards. Von Ludwig opened the box and produced the cards.
"The man who cuts the lowest card shall stay behind," he said quietly.
He passed the cards to Harris, who riffled them lightly.
"One moment," said von Ludwig. "If I should be the man to stay, I want
one of you to take these papers in my pocket. They must be turned over
to the admiralty at the earliest possible moment. Should the man who
carries them be in danger of capture, they must be destroyed. Do you
"Yes, sir," said Jack.
"It shall be as you say, sir," said Harris, "Now who will cut first?"
"It may as well be me as another," said von Ludwig.
He cut the cards and exposed to view a jack of hearts.
"Looks like you will carry the papers yourself, sir," said Frank, as he
advanced to cut the cards.
He held up a nine spot of spades.
"That lets you out, sir," he said to von Ludwig.
The latter was plainly nervous.
Jack cut the cards next. Frank uttered a cry of consternation:
"The three of clubs!"
"Looks like I was the fellow to stay, all right," said Jack, smiling
"And this time," said Frank, "you may not be as fortunate as upon the
day you remained behind and faced death on the submarine."
"Can't be helped," he said quietly.
Now Harris advanced and cut the cards quickly.
As he picked up the upper half of the deck, he turned his shoulder
slightly so that the others, for the moment, might not see what he had
cut. He glanced at the bottom card. It was the six of diamonds.
Deftly, Harris shuffled the cards with his hands. Adept in the art of
trickery, though the others did not know it, he had placed the cards in
such position that he knew almost identically where the high and low
Like a flash his hand passed across the bottom of the deck and when it
was withdrawn the six of diamonds had disappeared. Then he turned to
the others and exposed:
The two spot of spades!
"I lose," he said quietly.
Harris' movements had been so quick that they had not been perceived by
Jack was the first to extend a hand.
"I'm sorry," the lad said quietly. "I was in hopes that it would be
As he shook hands with the others, Harris kept his left hand behind
him; for in it reposed the card he had palmed--the six of diamonds,
which would have allowed him to go with the others and would have put
Jack in his place.
As he turned, Harris slipped the card quickly into his pocket, that it
might not be accidentally seen. Then, he knew, he was safe.
Jack picked up the deck.
"I shall keep these, Harris," he said, "that I may always remember a
All this time the thundering on the door of the companionway had
"Come," said von Ludwig, "we must delay no longer. Already it is
He hastened along the deck to where the high-powered motor boat lay
covered with a tarpaulin. Quickly the little craft was lowered over the
side, von Ludwig first inspecting it.
"Plenty of water and provisions," he said quietly. He turned to Harris.
"It is time to say goodbye," he said quietly. "You are a brave man.
This gallant action shall be known to the world."
"Goodbye, sir," said Harris, quietly.
"Remember," said von Ludwig, "there is always a chance that you may
escape. If it comes, make the most of it. Goodbye."
He pressed Harris' hand and passed over the side of the vessel.
As Frank and Jack shook hands with Harris, the latter squeezed Harris'
hand affectionately. The latter smiled.
"I had promised myself another bout with you some day," he said. "My
only regret is that it is not possible now."
A moment more Jack was in the motor boat and it moved away. Harris drew
his revolvers and mounted guard over the companionway, the door of
which now had begun to splinter.
"An hour is what you needed," he said quietly. "You'll get it!"
A CHAMPION PASSES
Harris laid one of his revolvers on the deck, reached in his pocket and
produced the six of diamonds. He looked at it closely in the half
darkness and a smile passed over his face.
"I suppose I'm a fool," he muttered to himself, "but someway I couldn't
help it. I was afraid Jack would cut the low card. I wouldn't have done
it for one of the others, but Jack, well, he's a boy after my own
Harris replaced the card in his pocket; then thought better of his
action, drew it forth again and sent it spinning off across the sea.
"There," he said quietly, "goes all evidence that I cheated."
He picked up the revolver he had laid on the deck and moved a short
distance from the companionway.
There was an extra violent crash and it seemed that the door must burst
"Another one like that will do the work," said Harris, calmly.
He took up what he considered a strategic position and produced his
watch. This he lay on the deck and sat down beside it.
"May as well be comfortable," he remarked.
Again there was a crash and the door of the companionway burst open. A
German head appeared.
"Crack!" Harris had fired without moving from his sitting posture.
The German head disappeared and there was a cry of alarm from below.
"One down, I guess," said Harris, quietly, to himself.
For some moments there was silence, broken occasionally, however, by
the dull sound of voices from below.
"Talking it over, eh?" muttered Harris. "Well, I'll still be here when
you try again."
It was perhaps fifteen minutes later that a cap appeared in the
opening. Again Harris fired. The cap did not disappear and Harris fired
twice more quickly.
The cap disappeared.
"Guess I got another one," said Harris.
Twice more within the next fifteen minutes this happened.
"That should be four, if I have counted correctly," said Harris; "and
I've still four cartridges left. I won't have to reload yet."
He felt in his pocket and then uttered an exclamation of alarm.
"No more bullets. I'll have to make these four count for the next two."
Nothing appeared in the doorway again for ten minutes more and then
Harris fired again. Fifteen minutes later the same thing happened and
Harris, making sure that this was the last of the enemy, emptied his
revolver at it.
Then he got to his feet and put his watch in his pocket.
"Guess that settles it," he said. "Now I'll look around for a boat. I
didn't know it was going to be as easy as all that. If I had I would
have had the others wait for me."
He moved toward the companionway, and as he did so, a bullet whistled
by his ear. Harris stepped back in surprise; and in that moment the
solution came to him.
"By Jove! They've fooled me," he muttered. "They poked their caps up
and I shot them full of holes. However, they don't know yet that I'm
out of bullets."
A few moments later a cap again appeared in the opening. Harris had no
bullets to fire at it.
"They'll discover my predicament in a moment or so, though," he told
He pulled his watch from his pocket and glanced at it.
"An hour," he said. "They have had time enough. However, I'll just see
the thing through."
As he spoke it grew light. Harris looked off across the sea. There, so
far away that it appeared but a speck upon the water, he saw what he
took to be the motor boat bearing his friends to safety. He waved his
"Good luck!" he said quietly.
Now a German head appeared in the door of the companionway. It was not
a cap this time. Harris saw it, and drawing back his arm, hurled one of
his revolvers swiftly. His aim was true and the weapon struck the
German squarely in the face. With a scream of pain the man fell back
into the arms of his companions.
But Harris' action had told his enemies that he had no more bullets,
and seeing that they had but one man to contend with, the Germans
sprang from their shelter and leaped for him.
Harris clubbed his remaining revolver, and with his back to the pilot
house, where he had retreated, awaited the approach of the four foes.
"You're going to have the fight of your lives," he said grimly.
A German sprang. Harris' arm rose and fell and there was one German
less to contend with. But before Harris could raise his arm again, the
other three had closed in upon him. Harris felt himself borne back.
The former pugilistic champion of the British navy cast all ring ethics
to the winds. He struck, kicked and clawed and sought to wreak what
damage he could upon his enemies without regard for the niceties of
fighting. He knew that they would do the same to him.
So great had been the force of the shock of the three Germans--all that
were now left of the original twelve--that Harris was borne to the
deck. His revolver hand struck the floor with great force and the
weapon was sent spinning from his grasp.
With a mighty effort, he hurled the three men from him and leaped to
his feet. The Germans also arose. Harris did not wait for them to
resume the offensive. With head lowered he charged.
Nimbly the foe skipped to either side and Harris felt a keen pain in
his right side. One of the foe had drawn a knife and stabbed as Harris
rushed by. Whirling quickly, Harris again sprang forward. One man did
not leap out of his way quickly enough, and Harris' hands found his
The man gave a screech as Harris' hands squeezed. The Englishman raised
his enemy bodily from the deck, flung him squarely in the faces of the
other two, and followed after the human catapult.
The foremost German dodged and seized Harris by the legs. Both went
over in a heap, Harris on top. Harris raised his right fist and would
have brought it down on the German's face but for the fact that the
second foe seized his arm in a fierce grasp. At the same moment he
struck with his knife.
The point penetrated Harris' right side and he felt himself growing
faint. Angrily, he shook the German from him and rose to his feet. The
man who had been underneath the Englishman also got quickly to his
feet, and before Harris could turn, stabbed him in the back.
With a cry, Harris whirled on him and seized the knife arm. He twisted
sharply. The German cried out in pain and sought to free himself. But
his effort was in vain.
With the grasp by the wrist, Harris swung the man in the air, and
spinning on his heel, hurled him far across the deck, where the
unconscious form struck with a crash; and at the same moment the other
German struck again with his knife.
Harris staggered back.
Now the German who so recently had felt the effect of Harris' fingers
in his throat, pulled himself from the deck and renewed the battle. He
advanced, crouching, and another knife gleamed in his hand.
It is possible that, had it not been for the effects of the knife
wounds, Harris, in the end, would have overcome these foes, for he was
a powerful man. But when a man is bleeding from half a dozen wounds and
faces two adversaries both armed with knives, he has little chance of
ultimate victory. Harris realized it; but he was not the man to beg for
mercy. Besides, so fierce had been his attacks and so great his
execution, it is not probable that the Germans would have spared him
anyhow. They were insane with rage.
There were only two of them left now; and Harris told himself that
their number would be fewer by one before they finished with him. He
leaned against the pilot house panting from his exertions.
"A great lot of fighters, you are," he taunted his enemies. "Four of
you attacked me with knives and you haven't done for me yet."
The Germans also were glad of a breathing spell. Their faces reddened
as Harris taunted them.
"We shall kill you yet," said one angrily.
"Don't be too sure," said Harris. "I'm an Englishman, you know, and you
have always been afraid of an Englishman."
At this the Germans uttered a cry of rage and sprang forward, their
knives flashing aloft.
The first German missed his mark as Harris dodged beneath his arm and
closed with him. He uttered a cry for help.
"That's right, you coward! You'll need it," said Harris.
He squeezed the man with all his might. Out of the tail of his eye he
caught the glint of the other German's knife as it descended. Releasing
his hold upon the one man, he stepped quickly backward. But the knife
caught him a glancing blow on the forehead, inflicting a deep wound.
For a moment Harris paused to shake the blood out of his eyes. Then,
with a smile playing across his features, he advanced; and as he
advanced he said:
"You've done for me, the lot of you. But I shall take you with me."
The Germans quailed at the look in his face; and as he moved forward
swiftly they threw down their knives and turned to run.
But they had delayed too long.
Harris stretched both hands out straight before him. One hand closed
about the arm of the German to his right. The other clutched the second
man by the throat. Harris pulled the man he held by the arm close; then
released his grip, but before the German could stagger away, seized
him, too, by the throat.
"Now I've got you," he said.
Blow after blow the Germans rained upon his face and shoulders, kicking
out with their feet the while. Harris paid no more attention to these
than he would have to the taps of a child.
But the Englishman felt his strength waning fast. It was with an effort
that he staggered across the deck. At the rail he paused for a moment,
gathering his strength for a final effort.
Then, still holding a German by the throat with each hand, he leaped
into the sea.
Once, twice, three times the three heads appeared on the surface and a
spectator could have seen that Harris retained his grip. Then the three
sank from sight.
And so passed the former pugilistic champion of the British fleet,
brave in death as he had been in life. The waves washed over the spot
where he had gone down.
THE UNKNOWN UNMASKS
With the coming of dawn the three figures in the little motor boat
gazed back in the direction from whence they had come. There they could
still make out the distant shape of the _Bismarck_. She rode quietly in
the water, and there was nothing about her appearance to tell the three
in the motor boat of the terrible struggle that was raging even at that
"Poor Harris," said Jack. "I hope that in some manner he is able to
"Certainly I hope so, too," declared Frank.
"He's a brave man," said von Ludwig.
Jack drew the fateful deck of cards from his pocket.
"These," he said, "I shall keep."
He ran through the deck several times, playing with them. Unconsciously
he counted them.
There was something wrong. Jack counted the cards again. The result was
"Sir!" he called to von Ludwig.
"Well?" "How did you chance to have this pack of cards?"
"I play solitaire considerably," was the reply.
"You couldn't have played solitaire with this deck," said Jack.
"All the cards are not here. There are but fifty-one."
"There were fifty-two when I put them in my pocket," said von Ludwig,
"because I counted them."
Again Jack ran through the deck There were but fifty-one cards.
Suddenly the lad gave a start. He spread the cards out in the bottom
of the boat, making four piles all suits together. He counted the hearts.
They were all there, thirteen of them. He counted the clubs. They were
all there, too. Next he counted the spades. All were there. Last he
counted the diamonds. There were but twelve. Jack arranged them in order.
There was one card shy. Jack found what it was a moment later. There was
no six of diamonds in the deck. For some moments Jack sat silent,
staring at the cards before him. He had been struck with a great light.
"So!" he said to himself at last, "Harris cheated."
"What's that?" said Frank, who had heard Jack's muttered words, but had
not caught their import.
"I said," replied Jack, slowly, "that Harris cheated."
Frank was surprised. A moment later he said: "Well, even if he did, he
"That's it," said Jack, quietly. "He didn't lose."
"You mean----" exclaimed Frank, excitedly.
"Yes; I mean that I lost. I should have been the one to stay."
"Impossible," said Frank.
"It's true," declared Jack. "Von Ludwig here says the deck was a full
deck. It's shy a card now. The six of diamonds is missing. That is the
card Harris cut first. You remember he turned aside?"
"That's when he slipped the six of diamonds out of sight and exposed
the deuce of spades."
"What's all this talk about cards?" asked von Ludwig, at this juncture.
Jack explained and for a few moments von Ludwig was lost in thought.
"You know," he said, finally, "I think more of that fellow every minute.
That's the one case I have ever heard of where a man cheated with honor."
There was silence aboard the little craft as it sped over the water, all
three aboard keeping a close watch for the approach of a German vessel
of some sort. Von Ludwig referred to his chart occasionally, for he
wished to steer as clear of mines as possible. They might be deep in the
water and they might be close to the surface. There was no use taking
chances. And while the voyage continued the lads were to be treated to
yet another surprise; but this surprise was to be a pleasure and would
not bring heavy hearts, as had the discovery of the missing card.
"I wish," said Jack, suddenly, to von Ludwig, "that you would
tell me who you really are. I sit here and look at you and know I
should be able to call your name. But I can't do it and it makes it
Von Ludwig smiled. "I should have thought you would know me in a minute
in spite of my disguise," he said quietly. "I am sure I should have known
both of you no matter what pains you took to conceal your features."
"You're only making matters worse," said Frank. "Come on now and tell us
who you are."
Again von Ludwig smiled. "I wonder if you can guess who I am when I say
that I can tell you all about yourselves?" he said. "For instance, you,
Jack. You spent most of your life in a little African village. And you,
Frank, are an American who was shanghaied aboard a sailing vessel in
Naples soon after the outbreak of the war."
"By Jove!" said Jack. "Outside of Frank here there is only one man who
knows all that about me."
"And there is but a single man who knows as much of me," declared Frank.
"Can it be----"
For answer von Ludwig rose in his seat and stripped from his face the
heavy German beard that had given him the true Teutonic expression, and
there stood revealed before Jack and Frank none other than Lord
Hastings, their erstwhile commander and good friend. Frank gave a cry
of delight and sprang forward at the imminent risk of upsetting the
motor boat. He seized Lord Hastings' hand and pressed it warmly. The
latter's greeting was no less affectionate. Jack, not so given to
demonstrations as his chum, also advanced and grasped Lord Hasting's
"You don't know how glad I am to see you again, sir," the lad said
quietly. "It seems like an age since we saw you. And to think that we
didn't recognize you instantly."
"That's what seemed so funny to me," said Lord Hastings. "When I first
saw you aboard that German vessel I was fearful for a minute that you
would recognize me and blurt it out right there."
"But what were you doing there, Lord Hastings?" asked Frank.
"It's a long story," was the latter's reply, "but I guess now is as
good a time as any to explain."
"I wish you would, sir," said Jack.
"Well," said Lord Hastings, "as you know, I told you when we parted
that I had an important diplomatic duty to perform. First, it carried
me to Roumania, where, I may say, I was successful."
"You mean that Roumania has decided to cast in her fortunes with the
"Exactly. She will take that step some time in August, though the exact
date I am unable to say. My mission there at an end, I was ordered to
report to Berlin. As you know, we still maintain a staff of
correspondents in the German capital, although their identities are
Frank and Jack nodded, for they had known this some time before.
"Well," Lord Hastings continued, "in Berlin I was instructed to learn
what Germany planned to do to offset the Roumanian menace, for she is
sure to know of Roumanians decision by this time. I had some trouble,
but I succeeded at last."
"And what will she do, sir?" asked Frank.
"That," was the reply, "I am unable to state at this minute. It is a
secret that I am guarding carefully and I cannot even tell you lads
Frank and Jack asked no further questions along that line.
"But how came you aboard the German vessel, sir?" Jack wanted to know.
Lord Hastings smiled.
"In Berlin," he said, "I was supposed to be a Roumanian officer, who
had hopes of changing the attitude of that country. The Kaiser wished
to show me how foolish it would be for the little Balkan state to join
the Allies, and for that reason, had me shown through the German naval
fortifications. That information, too, I am carrying back with me."
"But why didn't you tell us who you were in Bremen, sir?"
"I don't know. At first I guess because I wanted to surprise you both
when you did learn who I was."
"But you told us not to try and learn who you were."
"Well, that was for a good reason. For, if you should have sought to
pry, it might have aroused suspicions and there is no telling what
would have happened."
"I see, sir," said Frank. "But you almost lost us when you didn't get
back in time."
"I know that now. I wouldn't do the same thing again."
"And what are you going to do after you return to London, sir?" Frank
wanted to know.
Again Lord Hastings smiled.
"That's hard to tell," he replied. "Still, I imagine it will not be
very long before I feel a deck under my heels again."
"You mean you will leave the diplomatic service again, sir?" asked
"I expect to. The king promised me a new command before he despatched
me to the Balkans. But I do not know how long I shall be kept waiting."
"And when you get it, sir, will we go back with you?" asked Frank.
"Why," was the reply, "I should have thought that by this time you
would perhaps have changed your minds."
"Never, sir," declared Jack, positively. "We would rather serve under
"I'll see what can be done," Lord Hastings promised.
And with that the lads were forced to be content. Still, they knew well
enough that Lord Hastings would do what he could to have them with him
"The main thing now," said Lord Hastings, "is to dodge the enemy and
get back to England."
"With you here, sir," said Frank, "I am sure we shall get back safely."
And Frank proved a good prophet.
All that day they made their way slowly through the North Sea. Several
times enemy ships were sighted, but, because the little motor boat lay
so low in the water, the Germans did not see them.
With the coming of night, however, Lord Hastings increased the speed of
the little craft. He felt that they were now beyond the German mine
fields and that if another vessel were encountered it probably would be
And this proved to be the case.
Along toward morning of the second day, a British cruiser bore down on
them. Soon all were aboard the vessel, which, when Lord Hastings
informed the commander of the nature of the papers he carried, turned
about and headed for London.
A day or two later, Frank and Jack again found themselves installed in
the comfortable home of Lord Hastings, where they sat down to await
what time might bring forth--confident, however, that it would not be
long before they were upon active service under the command of their
good friend, Lord Hastings.