Part 1 out of 4
Scanned by Sean Pobuda.
THE BOY ALLIES WITH UNCLE SAMS CRUISERS
By Ensign Robert L. Drake
Frank Chadwick jumped from a chair in the front window and ran toward
the door. A form had swung from the sidewalk along the drive that
marked the entrance to Lord Hasting's London home and at sight of it
Frank had uttered an exclamation. Now, as the figure climbed the
steps, Frank flung open the door.
"Jack!" he exclaimed with outstretched hand. "I feared something had
happened, you have been gone so long and we had heard nothing of you."
"I'm perfectly whole," laughed Jack, grasping his friend's hand. "Why,
I've been gone less than two weeks."
"But you expected to be gone only a day or two."
"That's true, but a fellow can't tell what is going to happen, you
know. I wasn't sure I should find you here when I returned, though."
"You probably wouldn't had you come a day later," returned Frank.
"We sail tomorrow night," said Frank.
"By George! Then I'm back just in time," declared Jack. "Where bound
"I don't know exactly, but personally I believe to America."
The United States, I understand, is about to declare war on Germany. I
have heard it said that immediately thereafter American troops will be
sent to Europe."
"What's that got to do with our voyage?"
"I'm coming to that. There will be need, of convoys for the American
transports. I believe that is the work in which we will be engaged."
"That will be first rate, for a change," said Jack.
"But come," said Frank, leading the way into the house. "Where have
you been? Tell me about yourself."
"Wait, until I get a breath," laughed Jack, making himself comfortable
in a big armchair. "By the way, where is Lord Hastings?"
"He is in conference with the admiralty."
"And Lady Hastings?"
"Shopping, I believe. However, both will be back before long. Now
let's have an account of your adventures."
"Well, they didn't amount to much," said Jack.
"Where've you been?"
"Pretty close to Heligoland."
"Exactly. You remember how Lord Hastings came to us one day and said
that the admiralty had need of a single officer at that moment, and
that we both volunteered?"
"I certainly do," declared Frank, "and we drew straws to see which of
us should go. I lost."
"Exactly. Well, when I reached the admiralty I found there a certain
Captain Ames. I made myself known and was straightway informed that I
would do as well as another. Captain Ames was in command of the
British destroyer Falcon. He was bound on active duty at once, and he
took me along as second in command."
"Where was he bound?" demanded Frank. "And what was the nature of the
"The nature of the work," said Jack, "was to search out German mines
ahead of the battleships, who were to attempt a raid of Heligoland."
"Great Scott!" exclaimed Frank. "I hadn't heard anything about that.
Was the raid a success?"
"It was not," replied Jack briefly.
"Explain," said Frank.
"I'm trying to," smiled Jack. "Give me a chance, will you?"
He became silent and mused for a few moments. Then he said
"The destroyer service might well be called the cavalry of the sea. It
calls for dashing initiative, aggressiveness and courage and daring to
the point of rashness. Where an officer would be justified --even duty
bound -- by navy standards to run away with a bigger and more valuable
vessel, the commander of a destroyer often must close in to almost
"Hm-m-m," said Frank slyly. "You are not feeling a bit proud of
yourself, are you?"
"Oh, I'm not talking about myself," said Jack quietly. "I was thinking
of a man like Captain Ames -- and other men of his caliber. However,
I've been pretty close to death myself, and having come as close to a
fellow as death did to me, I believe he'll become discouraged and
quit. Yes, sir, I don't believe I shall ever die afloat."
"Don't be too cock-sure," said Frank dryly. "However, proceed."
"Well," Jack continued, "I followed Captain Ames aboard the Falcon and
we put to sea immediately. It was the following night the, we found
ourselves mixed up in the German mine fields and so close to the
fortress itself that we were in range of the land batteries as well as
the big guns of the German fleet. Our main fleet came far behind us,
for the big ships, of course, would not venture in until we had made
sure of the position of the mines."
"Right," said Frank. "I can see that -"
"Look here," said Jack, "who's telling this story?"
"You are," said Frank hastily. "Go ahead."
"All right, but don't interrupt me. As I said, we'd been searching
mines for the battleships. Better to lose a dozen or two of us little
fellows than one of the dreadnoughts, so we steamed ahead like a fan
with nets spread and a sharp lookout. We lost a few craft by bumping
mines, but we destroyed a lot of the deadly things by firing into the
fields and detonating them.
"We could generally tell when we were getting close to a field, which
at this point was protected by the land batteries, for the batteries
would redouble their fire. Might better have saved their powder and
let us run into the fields and be blown to bits, you will say. Not at
all. They would consider that a waste of good mines. Nobody wants to
waste a whole mine on a poor little torpedo boat destroyer -- and
twenty to forty men. There's no profit in that.
"We were sneaking along slowly, feeling our way and sitting on the
slippery edge of eternity when the batteries opened up.
"'We're getting warmer,' said Ames.
"It was close range work and we were able to reply to the fire of the
land batteries with our little 3-inch beauties, although I don't
suppose we did much good. It makes a fellow feel better, however, as
you know, if he's barking back. It's funny how most men have a dread
of dying without letting the other fellow know why he's there. It
doesn't seem so bad when you're hammering him.
"Anyway, it was part of our business.
"There was a bunch of red buoys anchored along one side where our chart
showed the channel to be, and we supposed that they had been used by
the German destroyers as channel buoys or to mark mine fields.
"It developed that the Germans had anchored those buoys and got the
range of them so they could have their guns already set for anything
that came near them. Some of our boats were hit by the first fire. It
was a desperate spot.
"We were up near the lead and we had to run fairly well in advance of
the main body. As you know, it often happens that when a vessel is
steaming head-on very fast, it is difficult to hit her. It seems to
rattle the gunners the same as charging infantry does the defenders.
"Shell after shell missed, but there were so many of them falling
around us that we were almost smothered in the spray. We had all been
under fire before, so it didn't have much effect on us, though.
"Then a shell hit us amidships and tore out one of our boilers. I was
on the bridge with Captain Ames at the time.
"'Go below and report,' said Ames, just as calmly as though we were at
maneuvers and one of our piston rods was pounding a little.
"I went down into a cloud of steam and found two men, pretty well
scalded, dragging out the others who had been more badly hurt by the
explosion. There wasn't enough of the water tight compartment left to
shut it off from the rest of the vessel, but we still had one boiler
"I directed the men to carry the wounded above and started back for the
bridge. Just as my feet were on the bottom of the ladder there was
another crash. The body of a man who had just reached the deck came
toppling down in a shower of splinters and debris.
"Well, I got back on to my feet and made the deck. A shell had
exploded right atop of us and nearly swept us clean. The bridge was
almost carried away. Captain Ames lay under a light steel beam and I
thought he was dead. I ran over to him. As I approached he shook off
the beam and got up. One of his legs gave way and he had to hold on to
a stanchion for support.
"'Cut off my trouser leg!' he shouted, very much excited.
"I ripped out my knife and did as he ordered. Then he twisted the
cloth around his leg above an ugly gash and tied it.
"'What's gone below?' he demanded. 'One boiler,' I replied.
"'Might have been both,' grunted Ames, and added, 'Well, we're not out
of this fight yet."'
Jack paused a moment.
"A brave man!" cried Frank. "Go ahead, Jack."
Jack cleared his throat and proceeded.
"Well," Jack continued, "Ames espied one of the destroyers that had
been leading us floundering around helplessly, with the German
destroyer, which had appeared from nowhere, trying to cut her off.
"'Templeton,' said Ames, 'take the hand steering gear and run in there
and get that fellow out.'
"I ran over to the hand gear. A fellow couldn't be frightened with a
man like Ames telling him what to do. Ames propped himself up against
what was left of the bridge and directed the gunners while we made the
best speed we could with our single boiler.
"They were still dousing us with water, but the shells were not falling
on board now. The two German destroyers were sweeping down on the
helpless boat ahead, the missiles from their light guns playing a
regular tattoo on her. It was an even chance we wouldn't find a live
man aboard her.
"Ames was having a glorious time where he had propped himself against
the shattered bridge. He swore every time one of our shells missed and
he laughed gleefully every time one went home.
"We were only about a thousand yards from the British destroyer now and
it looked like there was a fair chance of getting her out of the mess.
I was beginning to have hope when I heard the screaming of a heavy
shell from one of the land forts. Exactly amidships of the destroyer
it landed. It broke her back and all her ribs, so to speak. Steam and
steel and water and men flew high in the air. Everything aboard her
was blown to bits.
"There was no use trying to tow her out now. I searched the water with
my glass for living men. I figured we might be able to save a few if
any survived, although it was against admiralty orders to stop when in
danger. I didn't believe in the admiralty's stand at that moment. But
I couldn't make out a living soul.
"The Germans immediately turned their attention to us. Their
marksmanship was getting better. There was a frightful jar and the
steering gear was wrenched out of my hands and I was thrown to the
deck. When I picked myself up there was nothing with which to steer.
Our rudder and a part of our stern had been shot away --
"'Alternate the screws!' Ames yelled. 'I'm busy with these guns.
We'll fight as long as she floats!'
"The speaking tubes existed no longer. I stationed a man at the hatch
-- and another below and transmitted my orders to the engine room by
them. First we drove ahead with one screw, then with the other, to get
a zig-zag course; next we backed first with one propeller and then the
other. Each time we backed farther than we went forward, for I wanted
to get out of the mess if possible. The crazy course threw the enemy
gunners off somewhat.
"Suddenly I heard a yell from Ames. We'd put one of the German
destroyers out of business. The other one was steaming toward us, but
she was a long ways off,
"The men were cheering. I looked at the second destroyer, thinking we
must have finished her, too, but she was still firing. Then I glanced
around to see what the men were yelling about.
"Right into that hail of fire steamed a little mine sweeper. She
looked for all the world like a tugboat. She had a single gun mounted
in her bow, and one or two amidships. She had no armor and a rifle
bullet probably would have pierced her sides with ease, but she pounded
straight toward us; the water around her was beaten to a foam.
"Far out on the prow stood a man with a coil of rope. Ames sent a man
to our stern. The sweeper had come close. The man in the prow swung
his rope and let the coil fly. It fell across our stern. There wasn't
much left to make it fast to, but we did it somehow and the sweeper
started to tow us out of that particular part of the water.
"Our guns continued to bark at the destroyer, which was gaining on us.
Some of our shots went home. The little old tugboat was hit once, but
her master stuck to his task; and he undoubtedly saved our lives.
"Gradually we were pulled back, till at length we were under the
protection of the guns of our fleet. From the flagship, signals were
being flashed for our benefit. Ames read the flags through his
"'Congratulating us?' I asked.
"'Blast him, no!' shouted Ames. 'He wants to know why in blazes we
didn't come out when we had a chance. Well, he wouldn't have come out
himself had he been here, and I've been on the flagship, so we needn't
feel sensitive about it!'
"And that's about all," Jack continued, "except for the fact that the
raid by the battle fleet was given up. We cruised about for several
days, in spite of our crippled condition. The ship's carpenter put us
in condition to stay afloat, but at last we returned. I came here the
moment I had landed."
"Well, you had a pretty strenuous time, if you ask me," declared
Frank. "Too bad, though, that the raid couldn't have been made. We
might have captured Heligoland."
"The Germans might capture Gibraltar," said Jack, with a vein of
sarcasm in his voice, "but I don't think they will -- not right away."
"It can be done, though," declared Frank.
"What? The Germans capture Gibraltar?"
"No, I mean the British can take Heligoland. Wait until Uncle Sam gets
in the war, he'll show you a few things."
"Maybe so," said Jack, "but what's all this talk I hear about the
United States declaring war on Germany?"
"It's only talk, so far," said Frank, "but it seems certain to come.
In fact, the war resolution already has passed the house and is being
debated in the senate. It wouldn't surprise me if the senate passed it
today. Then all that is needed is the signature of President Wilson."
"Well, let's hope there is no hitch," said Jack fervently.
"I don't think there will be. Come, let's go to our room and wait for
The two boys went upstairs, and while they are awaiting the arrival of
Lord Hastings, a few words will be necessary to introduce them more
Frank Chadwick was an American lad of possibly nineteen.
He had been in Italy when the great European war broke out, and through
a misfortune had been shanghaied aboard a sailing vessel. After some
adventures he fell in with Jack Templeton, a young Englishman, who had
spent most of his life on the north coast of Africa. Together the lads
had disposed of the crew of the vessel.
They became fast friends. Fortune threw them in the path of Lord
Hastings, British nobleman and secret service agent, and they had gone
through all kinds of troubles with him. Lord Hastings had commanded
several vessels during the course of the war, and Jack and Frank upon
these occasions had been his first officers.
Both lads spoke German and French fluently, and both had a smattering
of several other tongues. Jack was huge in stature and of enormous
strength for one of his age. Frank, on the other hand, was rather
small, but what he lacked in physical strength he more than made up in
Frank's greatest accomplishment, and one that had caused Jack much
envy, was shooting. He could hit almost anything with a rifle, and
revolvers in his hands were no less deadly.
Frank's chief trouble was his hot-headedness and more than once this
had gotten him into such trouble that it took all Jack's
resourcefulness to extricate him.
Both lads had seen service in many parts of the world since they had
met Lord Hastings. Their commander recently had lost his vessel and
the three had been on indefinite leave of absence.
The day before Jack's return Frank had been informed by Lord Hastings
that they were about to put to sea again.
"Well," said Frank, when the two were in the room always reserved for
their use when they were in London, "Lord Hastings will be glad to see
you back again. He has been anxious, especially now that he has been
ordered again on active service. He has been wondering where he would
get a first officer."
"I guess you could, fill that place without any trouble," said Jack.
"I guess I could fill it all right, if I had to, but I would much
rather have you along," declared Frank.
"Well, I'm glad to be back, old fellow," said Jack. "I'll admit that
for a few minutes there the other night it looked as though I would
never see London again, but everything is all right at last."
There were the sounds of footsteps below. These a few moments later
ascended the stairs.
"Probably Lord Hastings," said Frank.
The lad was right and a moment later Lord Hastings stepped into the
room. His eyes fell upon Jack and he advanced with outstretched hand.
"Jack!" he exclaimed. "I certainly am glad to see you again."
They shook hands heartily.
"Frank tells me," said Jack, at the dinner table that evening, "that we
are about to sail again; about to go into active service."
Lord Hastings smiled.
"There has been a slight alteration in plans since I spoke to Frank
last," he said.
"You mean that we are not to go, Sir?" asked Frank. His face showed
"Not exactly," said Lord Hastings.
"But," Jack interrupted, "Frank said that we would help convoy American
troops to England and France."
"Frank lets his imagination run away with him sometimes," said Lord
Hastings quietly. "America has not yet declared war on Germany."
"But she will, sir," said Frank positively.
"That is probably true," said Lord Hastings, "although the resolution
is being fought in the senate, according to latest cable advices.
However, as you say, America will undoubtedly declare war. But even
should American troops be sent to Europe it will not be for several
months after war is declared."
"I thought they would send the regulars right away, sir," said Frank.
"Hardly. However, it is possible that an American fleet will be
dispatched to act in conjunction with the British grand fleet in the
"Then we must sit home, sir?" asked Frank.
"I didn't say that," said Lord Hastings, smiling.
"You are too quick to jump at conclusions, Frank."
Frank flushed a trifle. "I'm just disappointed, sir," he replied.
"You need not be," said Lord Hastings. "There is work ahead. In fact,
I may say that you will leave England some time tomorrow."
"Is that so, sir?" exclaimed Frank, happy again instantly. "Where do
we go, sir?"
"I am not going at all," said Lord Hastings; "at least, not for some
time yet. You and Jack will make this trip alone."
"That's too bad," declared Jack quietly. "We always like to have you
with us, sir."
"I know you do," laughed Lord Hastings, "However, I will turn up
later, so don't worry."
"In that event, it's all right," grinned Jack.
Will you, tell us where we are going, sir, and what we are to do?"
"I will if you will restrain your impatience," said Lord Hastings.
Frank felt this rebuke and became silent. A moment later Lord Hastings
"I suppose you have heard that there is another German raider operating
in the Atlantic off the coast of South America?"
"No, sir," said Frank, "I had not heard of it."
"Nor I," said Jack.
"Nevertheless, it's true," said Lord Hastings. Where it came from no
one seems to know, but many merchant ships have been sunk by this
raider. It is understood that she has citizens of allied countries
aboard to the number of several hundred."
"Must be a big ship, sir," said Frank.
"So it is. It is probably a converted liner."
"Well, why haven't some of our cruisers picked it up, sir?" Jack wanted
"They've tried hard enough," said Lord Hastings. "Trouble is this
raider seems to have the heels of all ships of war. She simply runs
away from them. However, the activities of the raider have become so
serious that the government has decided she must be captured at all
"Which is where we come in," guessed Frank.
Lord Hastings gazed at the lad sternly.
"Frank," he said, "it's a wonder to me that your tongue hasn't got you
into trouble long ago. Now, if you'll listen, I'll proceed."
Frank sat back abashed.
"Excuse me, sir," he said. "It won't happen again."
"All right, then," said Lord Hastings. "As I say, it seems impossible
to come up with this raider by speed, so she must be captured or sunk
by strategy. Now, I'll explain the plans to you, that you may know
what to do and what will be expected of you."
Lord Hastings talked slowly for several hours, and the lads listened
with unflagging interest. When His Lordship had finished it was almost
"Now, are you sure you understand?" he asked, getting to his feet.
"Perfectly, sir," was the reply.
"Very well, then, you had better turn in. You will sail aboard the
Algonquin at five tomorrow evening. I will see that your reservations
are made and that you are supplied with sufficient funds."
The lads went to bed.
When Jack and Frank went aboard the Algonquin the following evening
half an hour before the sailing hour, they were dressed as civilians.
Each wore a heavy traveling suit and overcoat and a steamer cap. Lord
Hastings accompanied them aboard and introduced them to the captain,
Stoneman by name, with whom His Lordship was well acquainted. Then
Lord Hastings went ashore.
The Algonquin was an American vessel and sailed under American
"I don't believe any raider will bother us," said Jack.
"Never can tell," declared Frank. "What's our destination, anyhow? I
forgot to ask."
"Buenos Ayres," replied Jack.
"Wonder if there are many passengers aboard?"
"Doesn't look like it. We'll have a look at the passenger list."
They did so and found that the only passengers on the trip were two
women, registered as Mrs. Silas Wheaton and Miss Elizabeth Wheaton.
"Looks like we would be pretty much to our ourselves," grinned Jack.
"So much the better," said Frank.
The Algonquin was not, in the true sense of the word, a passenger
steamer. She had accommodations for some, but she was primarily a
freighter, detoured this trip to carry a cargo of oil to the Argentine
The vessel lifted anchor and steamed down the Thames promptly at 5
o'clock. At 6 the lads found themselves at dinner at the captain's
table. There, too, they found Mrs. Wheaton and her daughter,
Elizabeth. Introductions followed.
"I do hope we do not meet a submarine on the way," declared Miss
Wheaton, who could not have been more than eighteen.
"I guess we are safe enough on that score," smiled Jack.
"Then they tell me there is a German raider operating off the coast of
South America," said the girl. "We may be captured."
"Pooh!" exclaimed her mother. "Didn't I see guns front and back on
this ship as I came abroad?"
"You mean fore and aft, mother," said the girl, smiling. "Yes, I saw
the guns, too, but I don't imagine they would be much protection
against a German raider."
"Then what are they there for?" Mrs. Wheaton wanted to know.
Jack and Frank laughed, and Captain Stoneman allowed a smile to wrinkle
the corners of his mouth.
"Well, they won't dare attack us," said Mrs. Wheaton. "If they do the
United States will make Germany pay for it."
"I guess Germany is not worrying about the United States right now,"
said Jack quietly.
"We'll make her worry," declared the woman.
"We're going to declare war and then the Kaiser will wish he had let us
alone. Besides, there are probably American ships of war off the coast
of South America. They will not allow us to be molested by a German
"But, perhaps they won't be able to help it," mother, said the girl.
"Of course they will be able to help it," said the mother. "Now don't
talk about this foolishness to me any more."
She arose and left the table. Her daughter followed her a few moments
"If the Germans get her they'll find they have caught a tartar,"
"So they will," declared Captain Stoneman.
"By the way, Captain," said Frank, "do you fear the raider will attack
"She will if she knows we are around," declared the captain grimly.
"And we are not prepared to fight her, sir?" asked Frank.
"Hardly," said the captain quietly.
"What's your crew?" demanded Jack.
"First, second and third officers, chief engineer, assistant and forty
men," was the reply.
"And nothing worth while to shoot with," grinned Frank.
The captain brought his hand down hard upon the table.
"No!" he bellowed. "And still with these pirates sailing the seas, the
American government won't allow us to carry guns big enough to do any
"Well, we'll hope for the best," said Frank, rising.
The lads made their way on deck.
Word of the United States' declaration of war upon Germany was flashed
to the Algonquin on the fourth day out. It brought a thrill to Frank
and to Captain Stoneman, an American himself.
Mrs. Wheaton, however, was the only person aboard who did any bragging
as a result of it. She declared that now the United States had come to
the rescue of the world, she had no fear of German raiders or Germans
in any other shape or form.
The Algonquin was still two days out from Buenos Ayres. It was night.
Came a hail from the lookout forward,
"Ship, sir!" he sang out.
"Where away?" demanded Captain Stoneman from the bridge.
"Dead ahead, sir!"
Half an hour later the light of an approaching vessel became visible to
all on deck.
"The raider, do you suppose?" asked Frank, who stood near the captain.
"How do I know?" demanded the captain angrily. "It may be and it may
A moment later the searchlight of the approaching vessel picked the
Algonquin out of the darkness.
"Drat those searchlights!" shouted the angry captain. "If it wasn't
for those things a man would have a chance."
The wireless operator hurried up.
"Message, sir," he exclaimed.
"Well, why don't you give it to me. What are you standing there for?"
"Vessel orders us to heave to or she'll put a shell into us, sir," said
the operator, paying no attention to the captain's anger.
"She will, eh? What right has a bloodthirsty pirate like that to tell
me what I can do? I won't do it."
Nevertheless Captain Stoneman gave the command to heave to.
"What's he sign himself ?" he demanded of the wireless operator.
"He doesn't sign himself at all," was the reply.
"Drat him!" exclaimed the captain again. "Oh, well, we'll see what
Half an hour later a small boat from the vessel that had accosted them
scraped alongside the Algonquin.
"Throw over a ladder," came a voice in English. "I'm coming aboard
The captain of the Algonquin growled again but he gave the necessary
A moment later three figures scrambled on deck. At sight of the first
man, Captain Stoneman's frown changed to a smile and he stepped quickly
"Dash me if it isn't Lansing!" he exclaimed. "When did you get into
the service, old man?"
The man in the uniform of a naval officer looked at the captain closely
a moment, then extended a hand.
"Well, well, well!" he exclaimed. "If it isn't Stoneman. Where you
"Buenos Ayres. What ship are you?"
"American cruiser Pioneer, Stoneman. I'm the first officer."
"Good for you, son," exclaimed the captain. "First I took you for that
German raider they say is sailing about in these parts."
"That's what I took you to be," declared the lieutenant. "I know there
is no need searching your ship, Captain. You're true blue, but I'll
have to have a look at your papers."
"Perfectly proper," said Captain Stoneman. "Come below."
The two disappeared below, but returned on deck a few moments later.
"Who are your passengers, Captain?" asked the American officer.
Captain Stoneman explained.
"Guess I'd better have a look at them anyhow, if it's no trouble," said
"No trouble at all . Bo's'n," he called, "summon all passengers on
Frank and Jack were already there, and approached. The American
officer asked them a few questions, and then waved them away.
"All right," he said.
Mrs. Wheaton and her daughter appeared a few moments later. The former
was angry. She approached the lieutenant.
"What do you mean by holding us up in this high-handed fashion?" she
"Necessity of war, madam," said the lieutenant with a bow.
"Necessity fiddlesticks," was the reply. "Who are you, anyhow?"
"I'm Lieutenant Lansing, American cruiser Pioneer, madam," came the
Mrs. Wheaton's manner underwent an immediate change. "You'll pardon
me, Lieutenant," she exclaimed. "Of course, I know you must do your
After a few words with Mrs. Wheaton and her daughter, Lieutenant
Lansing turned again to Captain Stoneman.
"All right, Captain," he said, "you may proceed. If leave you now just
a word, though. Look out for that raider. She's around here some
place. If you sight her, fire your guns, and if I'm within hearing
I'll come up. Work your wireless, too. I'm here to nail that fellow."
"Very good," said Captain Stoneman. "You can count on me, Lansing."
The two men shook hands and the American naval officer, followed by his
men, disappeared over the side. Captain Stoneman gave a signal and the
Algonquin moved on again.
"Didn't take the United States very long to get started, did it?" said
Frank, as they descended below.
"I should say not," was Jack's reply. "Still, I am afraid American
cruisers will have no more success in nabbing the raider than have
"Don't forget we're on the job," said Frank, with a smile.
"I'm not forgetting it," said Jack. "The sooner we come up with that
fellow the better it will please me."
"Well, guess we may as well turn in," said Jack.
"Probably will be nothing doing tonight."
Five minutes later the lads were asleep.
Morning dawned clear and bright and Captain Stoneman congratulated
himself that he was fast nearing his destination.
"Tomorrow morning at this time and we will be safe," he said at the
"Pooh," said Mrs. Wheaton. "What is there to be afraid of? Don't you
know that the American cruiser Pioneer is in these waters?"
"But she is not in sight, mother," said her daughter.
"I'd like to know what difference that makes. Lieutenant Lansing knows
that there are Americans aboard the Algonquin. He will not desert us."
"I am afraid," said Frank, "that Lieutenant Lansing has more important
duties just now than seeing that the Algonquin reaches port safely."
"And what can be more important, I'd like to know?" demanded Mrs.
"Well, there are a whole lot of things," said Frank, "one of which is
to nab this German raider, and I'll venture to say that the Pioneer is
paying more attention to the raider right now than it is to the
"Young man," said Mrs. Wheaton, "it is perfectly plain to me that you
do not know what you are talking about."
Frank flushed, and was about to reply. But he caught the eye of Miss
Wheaton and remained silent. A few moments later he excused himself
and left the table.
Fifteen minutes later Elizabeth Wheaton approached him on deck.
"Don't mind mother," she said with a smile. "It is just her way. She
means no harm."
"Probably not," agreed Frank with a smile, "but you will admit that it
is rather annoying."
Before the girl could reply, there came a hail from the lookout
"Where away?" called the first officer, who held the bridge.
"Dead ahead!" came the reply.
Indeed, a ship was plainly visible to all on deck at that moment.
It came to the first officer in a flash that this vessel bearing down
on the Algonquin was in all probability the German raider.
He summoned the captain.
Captain Stoneman came jumping on deck.
He gave one look at the approaching vessel, and then cried angrily,
forgetting his grammar absolutely as he did so. "That's her! That's
her as sure as I'm a foot high."
ABOARD THE RAIDER
Captain Stoneman now became the man of action that Jack and Frank knew
he could be.
"Mr. Bronson!" he summoned the first officer, who approached hastily.
"Mr. Bronson," continued the captain, "you point that gun aft toward
the heavens and you fire it until I tell you to stop. Mr. Taylor, you
do the same with the gun forward."
The captain glanced around. His third officer was busy. He called to
"Mr. Templeton," he cried, "you go below and tell my wireless operator
to pick up the cruiser Pioneer. You tell him I said not to stop
trying, or I'll be down and attend to him myself."
Jack hurried away to obey the command.
Frank approached Captain Stoneman.
"Can I be of any assistance, sir?" he asked.
The captain glared at him angrily. "No," he shouted; then added:
"Yes. You stand at the hatchway there and don't you let either of
those women come on deck. If you do, I'll toss you overboard."
Frank went to his post.
So far there had been nothing to indicate that the approaching ship was
other than a peaceful vessel. She had, so far as Captain Stoneman
knew, made no effort to pick up the Algonquin with her wireless.
"I wonder," said Captain Stoneman to himself, "whether that pirate is
going to blow me up without warning, or whether that wireless operator
of mine has gone to bed? I'll go down and find out."
He ordered his first officer away from the gun aft to take the bridge
and ran below to the wireless room.
"Any message from the ship ahead?" he demanded.
"No, sir," was the operator's reply.
"What's all that 'click-clicking' about?"
"I'm trying to pick up the Pioneer, sir."
"Humph! Can't you raise her?"
Captain Stoneman returned on deck without further words. He relieved
the first officer and ordered him back to the gun aft. At almost the
same moment, the forward gun, pointed high, spoke.
"That'll raise the Pioneer if she's around here," said Captain Stoneman
The aft gun also spoke now, and then both boomed again.
An instant later a cloud of smoke burst from the approaching vessel,
followed by a heavy boom. A solid shot passed over the Algonquin and
splashed in the water beyond.
"Humph!" said Captain Stoneman again. "Signal to heave to, eh? Well,
I can't afford to disregard it."
He signaled the engine room and the Algonquin a few moments later came
to a stop.
"Now, come on, you pirates," mumbled Captain Stoneman. "Come on aboard
and tell me what you want."
A boat put off from the raider, for such the strange vessel proved to
be. It came toward the Algonquin rapidly.
Captain Stoneman motioned to Frank.
"Better let the women come up now," he said quietly, "and Mr. Bronson,
pipe all hands from below."
Before the small boat reached the Algonquin's side, all passengers and
members of the crew were on deck. Frank pressed close to Jack.
"Got your gun?" he asked.
"In my boot," was the quiet reply; "and yours?"
"All right. How about your little decoration?"
Jack took a small object from his pocket and put it in the left-hand
button hole of his coat. Frank followed his example.
"What is the meaning of this outrage?" demanded Mrs. Wheaton, as she
watched the small boat approach.
"Meaning is that we are prisoners of the German raider," answered
Captain Stoneman, who overheard the remark.
"And why?" demanded the woman. "I heard guns fired above here.
Couldn't you hit anything?"
"We didn't try, madam," said the captain. "We fired those guns to
notify the Pioneer we had encountered the raider."
"Well, why didn't you shoot at her?" demanded Mrs. Wheaton.
Captain Stoneman was about to make an angry retort, but restrained
himself with a visible effort.
The raider's boat scraped alongside the Algonquin.
"Throw down a ladder here," said a voice in English, though with a
heavy German accent.
Captain Stoneman growled ominously, but he ordered the command obeyed.
A moment later a German naval officer appeared on deck. He was closely
followed by half a dozen other figures. The officer approached Captain
"You are the commander of this vessel?" he asked.
"I am," was the reply. "What of it?"
"You'd best keep a civil tongue in your head," said the German.
"What's your destination, and the nature of your cargo?"
"Buenos Ayres; oil," growled the captain, answering both questions
"Good!" said the German. "We are in need of oil." He turned to one of
his men. "Below with you," he said. "Take three men and unloosen a
hundred barrels of oil. I'll send a boat after them."
The man saluted and went below, followed by several of his companions.
The German officer turned again to Captain Stoneman.
"You and your men, and these two ladies," he indicated Mrs. Wheaton and
her daughter, "will be prisoners aboard the Vaterland. Captain Koenig
will make you as comfortable as possible."
"Thanks," said Captain Stoneman briefly." I know enough about you
Germans and what to expect."
"Silence!" thundered the German, "or I shall have you placed in irons."
Captain Stoneman shrugged his shoulders, but he held his tongue.
Now, for the first time, the German officer appeared to notice that
Jack and Frank were not members of the Algonquin crew. He motioned
them to approach.
"You are passengers?" he asked.
"Yes, sir," said Jack.
The German took a quick step forward as he noticed the little emblem on
Jack's coat. He glanced at Frank and saw one there, too. He tapped
the one that Jack wore with his finger.
"Where did you get that?" he asked sharply.
"Where could I get it but in one place?" was Jack's reply.
"You are no German," said the officer.
"I was not born in Germany, it is true," said Jack, "but my ancestors
were. I am what some people are pleased to call a German-American."
"Good!" exclaimed the German officer. "But what are you doing here?"
"That," said Jack, "is rather a long story and one that I am commanded
to tell to Captain Koenig."
The German officer hesitated.
"You come together?" he asked at length, indicating Frank.
"Yes," said Jack.
"Well," said the German, "you will realize that I must be careful. I
must see if you are armed."
He examined the lads' clothing carefully.
"You will follow me," he said a few moments later.
The crew of the Algonquin, meantime, was being transferred to the
Vaterland. Jack and Frank found themselves in the last boatload to
Aboard the Vaterland, as the two lads followed their captor to the
cabin of the German commander, Frank saw the disgust in the eyes of
Elizabeth Wheaton as he passed her. It was plain that she, at least,
took him for what he represented himself to be to the German officer.
"Oh, well," said the lad, as he walked along, "it cannot be helped."
Captain Koenig asked the lads several sharp questions which apparently
satisfied him that they were what they claimed to be.
"But I cannot land you yet," he said.
"Any time within the month will do, Captain," said Jack. "We still
have a little time. We do not need to reach New York until two days
before the meeting. You can set us ashore some place in time enough
for us to get there."
"I'll do better than that," said the captain. "I'll set you ashore on
the coast of Florida three weeks from today."
"Good!" said Jack.
"Now," said the captain, "if you care to accompany me on deck, you
shall see the last of the ship that carried you here."
The lads followed the captain on deck. The latter summoned his first
"Fuses all set?" he asked.
"Yes, sir. The explosion should occur within one minute."
All turned their eyes to the abandoned Alqonquin.
Suddenly there was a terrible explosion. A sheet of flame sprang from
the doomed vessel. She seemed to leap high in the sky, then settled
down in two pieces. A moment later she disappeared from sight.
"You shall pay for that, Captain Koenig!" said Jack to himself, between
Jack and Frank leaned against the lifelines, gazing over the stem of
the Vaterland as the vessel's triple screws drove her ahead. Jack's
eyes were fixed thoughtfully upon the strong if crudely constructed
turret on the after deck, from which protruded the glistening nose of
an 8-inch gun. His gaze wandered forward past the rakish stacks to the
light bridge which spanned the Vaterland's beam. Mounted on the
bridge, in addition to the two naval telescopes, were four rapid-fire
guns, each capable of spitting bullets at the rate of five hundred a
minute, though, sheltered as they were under the tarpaulins, they
looked harmless enough.
Frank regarded Jack curiously.
"What's on your mind?" he asked.
"I was thinking," said Jack slowly, "that if I could get my hands on
one of those machine guns on the bridge, these Germans would wish they
were home in the Kiel Canal."
"You mean?" said Frank.
"I mean that if I had five minutes to man one of those rapid-firers up
yonder I could rake this ship from stem to stern. There'd be a few
less Germans in this world before they got me. Anyway, it's a point
Frank nodded his head.
"It certainly is," he replied.
Jack resumed his study of the big ship.
Half way up each mast he saw the round-covered dots which denoted the
powerful searchlights, and from the tops of the thin masts sagged the
wireless aerials. Immediately under the bridge and sheltered somewhat
by it was the wireless room. The entire ship, even to the rifle
barrels, was painted the dead, neutral gray which is known as "war
Frank followed the direction of Jack's gaze.
"They are well prepared, aren't they?" he said.
"They certainly are," declared Jack.
"Well," said Frank, "we must remember that we are to do nothing yet.
The time will come, though, and it is as well to know beforehand what
we will have to contend with."
"Exactly," said Jack. "That's why I am trying to impress all these
things on my memory."
"Come," said Frank, "we'll interview the captain."
Jack followed his friend to the captain's cabin. The captain expressed
much pleasure at seeing them.
"How goes everything this morning, Captain?" asked Frank.
"Good!" was the response. "What can I do for you?"
"We've just been looking about the Vaterland," said Jack in German.
"It must have required remarkable ingenuity to have converted this ship
into the formidable vessel it is now."
"You think so?" said the captain. "I am glad. I did it under my own
"And you have had the most remarkable success," said Frank. "The
Emperor will have much to thank you for when the war is over."
"Ja!" exclaimed Captain Koenig. "I shall have the Iron Cross."
"Undoubtedly, Captain," declared Jack. "By the way, how large a crew
do you carry?"
"Almost two hundred officers and men," was the reply.
"But your prisoners," exclaimed Frank. "Surely you have many of them?"
"We have now more than 300 prisoners aboard this ship," declared
Captain Koenig; "mostly men. Besides the women who came aboard with
you, there are only five."
"That's a pretty big load, Captain?"
"The Vaterland," said Captain Koenig proudly, "has accommodations for
more than a thousand souls."
"I knew it was a big ship," said Frank, "but I had no idea it carried
so many. By the way, where do you keep your prisoners?"
"Forward, beneath the main deck," replied the Captain.
"They are well guarded, of course?"
"Well guarded, indeed," was the captain's reply.
"They are of course, unarmed and the door to their prison is locked.
Besides, there are armed men on guard without every instant."
"I see you, have spared no pains to keep everything safe," said Frank.
"You are right, sir. The Vaterland is in my hands, and it shall stay
in my hands. No ship of war can catch me. I am well prepared on all
"Your foresight is to be commended, Captain," declared Jack. "The
Kaiser has reason to be proud of you."
"You think so?" exclaimed Captain Koenig. "I am pleased."
The lads went on deck again after some further conversation.
"He's a pretty conceited old pirate, if you ask me," declared Jack.
"So he is," Frank agreed; "yet when you stop to think of it he has some
reason to be. He's doing a pretty good job for the Kaiser."
"A pretty bad job for the Allies," said Jack.
"Which is the reason we are here," declared Frank. "Hello, here comes
Miss Wheaton; I'll have a word with her."
He lifted his cap as he spoke. Miss Wheaton bowed and would have
passed on had not Frank intercepted her.
"Won't you stop a moment, Miss Wheaton?" the lad asked.
"I wish to have nothing to do with German spies," returned the girl
"I beg your pardon," said Frank, and stepped back.
The girl passed on. Five paces beyond, however, she stopped, turned
and retraced her steps.
"I had taken you for Americans, aboard the Algonquin," she declared.
"Surely you are not German?"
"No," said Frank, "I am an American."
"And are helping the enemies of your country," declared the girl.
"Just a moment, Miss Wheaton," said Frank quietly. He looked around
hurriedly. There was not a soul near, save Jack. "Do not believe all
you see," the lad whispered.
"You mean?" exclaimed the girl.
Frank shrugged his shoulders. "Appearances are often deceitful," he
Miss Wheaton looked at the lad in some amazement. Then she said: "I
hope I do not misunderstand you."
"I am sure you don't," said Frank with a smile. "The Vaterland has
been engaged in her nefarious trade altogether too long. It is time
somebody put a stop to it. Well, the time will come."
Miss Wheaton extended a hand, which the lad grasped.
"I am sorry I doubted you," she said.
"Why, that's all right," said Frank.
The girl inclined her head and passed on. Framl turned to Jack.
"A very nice girl," he said, indicating Miss Wheaton.
"Most likely," Jack agreed. "However, you always were rather strong
for the girls. I hope you didn't tell her our business."
"Why -- why, no," said Frank, flushing." I simply told her she must not
believe all she sees."
"Which was simply another way of telling her we are not what we
represented ourselves to Captain Koenig," said Jack. "Now she'll
probably go straight to the captain and tell him what she has learned."
"No, she won't," said Frank. "She wouldn't do that."
"How do you know she won't?"
"Well, I don't know it, but I don't think she will."
"What you think and what she may do are likely to be altogether
different," declared Jack. "You are too quick with your tongue
"But," Frank protested, "she thought we were Germans and ignored us."
"What do we care what she thinks? If she ignores us so much the better
to my way of thinking."
"But -" Frank began.
"But, nothing," interrupted Jack. "We are here for a single purpose,
and it makes no difference what any one thinks of us."
"You are probably right, Jack," Frank agreed. "I'll have to keep a
tight rein on my tongue. However, I am sure Miss Wheaton will not
"Humph!" said Jack, and the conversation ended.
It was late that afternoon when the lookout forward gave the news that
there was a ship in the offing. Immediately the Vaterland altered her
course slightly and headed for the newcomer, which it developed was a
"Here comes another victim," said Frank.
"You don't suppose --" began Jack.
"Too soon, I'm afraid," said Frank, with a shake of his head. "I wish
it were, but I am afraid it is too soon."
Within range, the Vaterland put a shot across the bow of the stranger.
The newcomer obeyed this command instantly.
She hove to.
ABOARD THE STRANGER
It was the steamer Gloucester that the Vaterland had sighted and which
had heaved to in response to the Vaterland's shot across her bow. The
Gloucester was a small steamer, more on the order of a pleasure yacht
than a freight vessel.
In one of the cabins, as the vessel came to, sat a man in an invalid
chair. Beside him stood a huge negro.
"See what the trouble is, Tom," ordered the invalid as the ship's
The negro hurried on deck, but was back in a few minutes, breathing
"It's the raider, suh," he said. "The Vaterland."
"Good!" said the man in the invalid's chair. "Wheel me on deck, Tom."
The negro did as ordered. There the invalid passed the word for the
captain, who came toward him.
"Yes, sir," said Captain Tucker, saluting.
"The vessel ahead, I understand," said the invalid, "is the Vaterland?"
"It is, Mr. Hamilton."
"Very good. Call the first, second and third officers."
The captain obeyed and a few moments later the three officers stood
"You must not forget, gentlemen," said 'Hamilton, "that we are bound
simply on a pleasure cruise. I was not willing that a German raider
should interfere with the prescription of an ocean voyage ordered by,
my physician. You understand?"
The officers nodded.
The men were: First officer, Mr. Sanborn; second officer, Mr.
Partridge, and third officer, Mr. Richardson.
"Very well, then," said Mr. Hamilton. "That is all."
He turned again to the negro. "Tom," he said, "bring my bags and stow
them in the cutter yonder. We will be taken prisoners aboard the
The negro did as commanded and again took his stand by Hamilton.
"Mind, Tom," said Mr. Hamilton, "no weapons."
"None, suh?" questioned the negro.
"Not a single one."
"Well, suh," said the negro, "dis ain't no weapon I got here. I just
carry it for luck, Mistah Hamilton."
He displayed a pair of brass knuckles.
"Very well," said Mr. Hamilton, "but be sure you put them where they
will not be found."
"Dey won't find 'em," chuckled the negro.
He rolled up the leg of one trouser and stowed the brass knuckles
carefully in the top of his sock.
As the Vaterland's small boat approached the Gloucester, Captain Tucker
ordered a gangway rigged. Mr. Hamilton's chair was wheeled to this
gangway, and those aboard waited the arrival of the German officer in
the small boat.
Lieutenant Blum, the Vaterland's officer, leaped nimbly over the rail.
"The captain?" he demanded.
Captain Tucker stepped forward. "I'm Captain Tucker," he said.
"This," he indicated Mr. Hamilton, "is the owner, Mr. Hamilton, who is
on a voyage for his health."
"I'm sorry his health cannot be given more consideration," said
Lieutenant Blum, "but I am under necessity of sinking your ship. Mr.
Hamilton may continue his voyage aboard the Vaterland."
The prisoners were safely transferred to the Vaterland and a short time
later a rumbling explosion marked the end of the steamer Gloucester.
Mr. Hamilton, through the courtesy of Captain Koenig, was assigned one
of the larger cabins, near the captain's own. Hamilton spoke to
Captain Koenig in fluent German. The German captain seemed to take
considerable interest in the invalid.
As the chair of the invalid was wheeled along the deck, the invalid
glanced sharply at Jack and Frank. Neither lad manifested the
slightest surprise and Mr. Hamilton was soon out of sight.
Members of the crew of the Gloucester, all except the negro Torn, who
was to be allowed to tend Mr. Hamilton personally, were soon locked
safely between decks and the Vaterland proceeded on her way.
Several hours later, Captain Koenig, in paying a visit to the cabin
found the latter studying over a chess board.
"Ha!" exclaimed Captain Koenig. "So you play chess, eh?"
"A little," said Mr. Hamilton.
"That is fortunate," declared the captain. "I too love the game. I
shall be pleased to have you play with me at some future time."
"I shall be glad, Captain," said Mr. Hamilton quietly.
The German commander soon took his leave. Hamilton turned to the
negro, who, upon the captain's departure, had taken the brass knuckles
from his sock and was examining them carefully.
"Tom," said he, "if you don't keep those knuckles out of sight I shall
heave them overboard."
"Yussuh," exclaimed Tom, and hid the knuckles hastily.
"Listen to me, Tom," said Hamilton. "Whenever I am in here I want you
to station yourself outside the door. And I want you to tell me before
you let any one in, understand?"
"And mind you keep those knuckles out of sight. There'll be no use for
them until I give the word. Remember that."
There came a knock on the door and Hamilton fell back on his cushions
as he ordered Tom to open the door. A moment later girl introduced
herself and then said:
"I've come to see you because we are fellow prisoners, Mr. Hamilton,
and to see if there is anything I can do for you. I know you cannot
help yourself, being an invalid."
Mr. Hamilton smiled.
"Don't you worry about me, young woman," he said. "I'm not half so
helpless as you think. See?"
Mr. Hamilton stood up, dropped the robe from his lap and skipped nimbly
across the cabin.
Elizabeth Wheaton stepped back in surprise.
"But I thought -" she began.
"So does Captain Koenig," said Hamilton with a smile. "By the way,
Miss Wheaton, are you armed?"
Hamilton explored the seat of his chair. He produced a box, which he
opened. There lay at least a dozen shining automatics. Hamilton gave
one to the girl.
"Take this," he said simply. "You may have need of it, although if
nothing goes wrong with my plans, all will be well."
The girl took the weapon and hid it in the folds of her dress. At that
moment Tom poked his head in the door indicating that some one was
approaching. Miss Wheaton left the cabin without another word.
A moment later Jack and Frank entered the cabin. Mr. Hamilton, who was
again in his invalid chair covered with a robe, leaped to his feet and
extended a hand to each lad.
"By Jove! We are glad to see you, sir," said Frank, "although we did
not expect you so soon."
"I started sooner than I had expected," laughed Lord Hastings, for such
Mr. Hamilton proved to be. "Have you found out the lay of the land?"
"Yes, sir," replied Jack, and explained briefly. He produced a long
sheet of paper, which he passed to Lord Hastings.
"What's this?" demanded the latter.
"Deck plan, sir," said Jack quietly. "I obtained it from Captain
Koenig, sir, though he doesn't know it."
"Very good," said Lord Hastings, and examined it carefully.
Jack put a finger to the paper.
"There," he pointed out, "is the second deck. In here are the
prisoners of the Algonquin and the Gloucester. In the compartment
below are perhaps two hundred other prisoners. Abaft this compartment
is the strong room in which are the small arms and ammunition.
Lieutenant Blum carries the keys. In there, too, are hundreds of
"Very well," said Lord Hastings, and briefly sketched a plan of
action. Then he added:
"This work must be done promptly and there must be no slip. A slip
means failure. Now follow the instructions I give you."
He spoke softly for perhaps fifteen minutes, and when Frank and Jack
took their leave at the expiration of that period, the faces of both
"At 11 o'clock tomorrow morning," Jack whispered.
"Be a sailor," Frank instructed. "You mean six bells."
"All right," laughed Jack. "Have it your own way. Six bells or 11
o'clock. We'll be ready."
It was at 10 o'clock the following morning that Lord Hastings received
a call from Captain Koenig.
"Ah!" exclaimed the German commander. "I find that I have time on my
hands. Would it be too much to ask you to have a game of chess with me
"Indeed, no," was Lord Hastings' reply. "I shall be pleased. I shall
have my man roll me to your quarters within fifteen minutes."
"Very good!" said Captain Koenig. He bowed and departed.
Lord Hastings quickly ordered the negro to find Frank and Jack and
order them to his cabin. A few moments more and they stood before
"Frank," said Lord Hastings, "you approach the bridge and stand there.
When the men come from below, it may be that we will need a man near
the bridge to pick off the gunner should he train one of the
rapid-firers on us. Do not move, however, unless it is necessary. If
we can reach the bridge without attracting attention by firing a shot
it will be infinitely better. Jack, you come with me. I shall now
engage the captain in a game of chess."
Frank stooped and from his boots brought out two automatics. Jack did
likewise. These they put in their pockets. Then Frank left his
Above he encountered Miss Wheaton, who approached him.
"I have learned what is about to happen," said the girl, "and I want to
know if I can be of some assistance."
"You can help most," said Frank, "by going to your cabin and staying
there. Make sure that none of the women come on deck."
"But," said the girl, "I had hoped to be of more value than that."
"Believe me," said Frank, "if you can make sure that the women remain
in their cabins you will have done much."
Elizabeth Wheaton nodded her head. "None shall come out," she said
quietly. She turned on her heel and made her way to her own cabin.
Then she summoned the other women prisoners and when they were inside
she locked the door, taking care, however, that none saw her turn the
key, for she did not wish to answer unnecessary questions.
Frank took a position where he could cover the bridge. There were only
two men there -- the officer of the deck and the quartermaster at the
Below, Lord Hastings motioned to the giant negro to wheel him to
Captain Koenig's cabin.
"I'm depending on you, Tom," he said quietly. "When I give the word
"Yussuh!" said Tom, grinning. "I'll be watching you, suh."
He wheeled Lord Hastings to Captain Koenig's cabin. Jack followed.
The German commander expressed his pleasure at the opportunity of
matching his wits against his prisoner across the chess board. He
espied Jack and eyed him askance.
"I'm somewhat of a chess player myself," Jack explained. "I thought I
would enjoy the battle. Mr. Hamilton, here, has no objections to my
"Nor have I, in that event," said Captain Koenig.
The chess board stood upon a small table. The pieces were in place.
Johnson wheeled Lord Hastings into position and fell into position
behind him. Captain Koenig drew up a chair. Jack remained standing.
The ad was perfectly calm in spite of the excitement that raged in his
breast. Lord Hastings played silently and without anxiety, as though
nothing were about to transpire. Even the negro, Tom, showed nothing
of the excitement that he felt. Now and then, though, his hand touched
the pair of brass knuckles which he had transferred from his sock to
his right-hand pocket.
As the game progressed Captain Koenig became manifestly pleased, for he
felt that he was winning. Lord Hastings glanced at the clock. It
lacked five minutes to 11. He looked at Tom significantly, and the
negro shifted his position closer to Captain Koenig.
Suddenly six bells struck.
As the last stroke sounded, Lord Hastings, apparently accidentally,
brushed one of the chessmen from the board.
"Your pardon," he said to Captain Koenig.
He bent over, apparently to pick up the chessman. Instead, his hand
sought the box in his chair and when he sat straight again, his
revolver covered Captain Koenig.
The commander of the Vaterland started up with an inarticulate cry. At
the same moment Tom sprang forward, and his two hands grasped the
German commander's throat.
Captain Koenig was fat and he was conceited and he had been foolishly
lax. But he was a competent commander in the German navy, which means
that he was a brave and resourceful man. He allowed his body to relax
in the negro's clutch. His foot sought for and found a tiny button
below the chess table. He pressed it.
A buzzer sounded in another cabin.
The men in the cabin worked with swift and silent precision.
In answer to the pressing of the button there came a knock at the
door. A moment later Lieutenant Blum entered. He took in the
situation at a glance. Tom released his hold upon Captain Koenig and
jumped for the lieutenant. As the negro's arms went round the man,
Jack dipped quickly into the lieutenant's pocket and produced the keys
to the quarters occupied by the prisoners, and to the store room.
The lieutenant writhed in the negro's grasp and with a kick caught Tom
on the right shin. Immediately Tom released his bold and sought his
brass knuckles. Before he could strike, however, Lieutenant Blum had
disappeared through the door.
Jack whipped out his revolver and fired, but the German did not stop.
The lad muttered an imprecation.
"Quick, now!" ordered Lord Hastings.
He was calm, cool and collected. Revolvers in the box were disposed of
between the three, and then all dashed below to where the prisoners
Two men guarded the deck at this point. Seeing their enemies bearing
down on them, both opened fire. The revolvers of Lord Hastings flashed
simultaneously and the two Germans dropped.
Quickly Jack fitted one of the keys to the door, and the crews of the
Algonquin and the Gloucester streamed forth. The first man out was
Captain Stoneman. Jack gave him a pair of revolvers. The other
weapons were divided up as far as they would go.
"To the bridge with you, Stoneman!" cried Lord Hastings. "You'll find
Chadwick there. Take the bridge and hold those machine guns until we
get there. Much depends on your getting there before the enemy can
recover from their surprise." Stoneman dashed away. Lord Hastings
designated that the others who were armed should follow. These hurried
"Now for the rifles!" cried Lord Hastings.
Jack led the way and Lord Hastings and members of the Algonquin and
Gloucester crews followed.
At the same moment a bugle blared above and there came the hoarse
sounds of commands.
"We've been discovered!" shouted Jack.
"There is no time to lose, sir."
He fitted a key to the door of the compartment where the rifles,
ammunition and small arms were stored. The men, perhaps sixty all
told, rushed forward and grabbed weapons and ammunition.
"I'll lead these men, Jack," said Lord Hastings.
"One of those keys fits the other prisoners' compartment. Go below and
release them. Arm them and then come on deck. You go with him, Tom.
If any of the prisoners hang back, lock them up or shoot them. This is
no time for fooling. You other men, follow me."
Lord Hastings dashed on deck, closely followed by his men.
Jack wasted no time. Quickly he descended to the deck below where the
other prisoners were held. These, too, were under guard from the
outside. Sounds of confusion from within told the lads that the
prisoners had heard the sounds of firing above. Men kicked upon the
barred door. They were eager to get out and join in the fray, the
nature of which they could not tell.
The two Germans on guard there were plainly uneasy. No orders had
reached them, and they appeared afraid that the door would give beneath
kicks and blows rained upon it from within; and they knew that there
would be no stopping the prisoners should they break through.
Consequently they were watching the door when lack and the negro
appeared in sight and the attackers had the advantage. One swerved
suddenly, however, and raised his weapon. Jack fired and the man
Tom accounted for the second. Then Jack opened the door. He held up a
hand as the men streamed forth.
"Follow me and get guns!" he shouted to make himself heard above the
babel of voices.
The others understood the import of the words. There was a wild cheer
as they dashed after Jack and the negro Tom.
Frank, on deck, was doing his work. At the first stroke of six bells,
the lad had dropped his hand to his pocket. A moment later there came
a sharp report from below.
"Things have started moving," said Frank quietly.
The officer on the bridge had also caught the sound of the revolver
shot. He looked up sharply. A moment later Lieutenant Blum dashed
forward and jumped to the bridge. He spoke hurriedly to the officer of
the deck, and both made a leap for the machine guns.
Frank smiled quietly to himself. Here was fighting in which he knew
his true value.
The lad's revolver flashed. The man nearest to the first machine gun
dropped in his track. The second man, Lieutenant Blum, touched the
nearest machine gun. Frank's revolver spoke again. The German
lieutenant pitched forward on his face.
"So much for you!" cried Frank. He leaped to the bridge and covered
the man at the wheel.
"A false move and you are a dead man," he said. "Hold her steady."
A glance told the helmsman that the lad meant what he said. The German
kept his hand on the wheel.
Came the cries of men as those released below poured on deck in the
wake of Lord Hastings. Frank gazed in that direction. As he did so,
the man at the wheel rose suddenly, snatched the revolver from the
lad's hand and before Frank could turn, brought it down heavily on his
Frank dropped limply to the deck.
The helmsman himself sprang toward the machine gun, while the big
vessel, with no hand to guide her wallowed in the trough of the sea.
There came a hoarse command from Lord Hastings, who had seen Frank
Several men fired at the helmsman and he went down. The bridge was
unmanned now but its capture was to be no sinecure. The opposition
from forward had developed considerable force and the Germans there
realized that possession of the bridge by the Americans and Englishmen
meant disaster. The third officer, in command, roared out his orders
and a score of heavily armed Germans from the forecastle gathered about
At Lord Hastings' command, his forces scattered -- it would be every
man for himself.
The Germans under the third officer held the forecastle and between
them and the opposition amidships was the bridge. Now more men swarmed
from aft. The British and Americans were between two fires.
A volley belched from the third officer's men. Two Americans went
down. From their scattered positions about the deck, the allies
returned the fire, and with effect, as Lord Hastings could see, for
several men dropped.
"Good work, men!" shouted Lord Hastings.
The British commander knew that Jack, Tom and the other prisoners would
be on deck in a few moments, and that if he could hold the deck until
that time, the bridge might be captured by a massed attack.
But now, with the Germans guarding the bridge from the forecastle, it
was well nigh impossible, for the allied sailors would be mowed down.
For the same reason, the Germens in the forecastle were unable to
advance upon the bridge.
Meantime the Vaterland staggered helplessly.
Suddenly there was a wild cry from forward. On deck dashed Jack and
the negro, Tom, followed by the released prisoners. The Germans in the
forecastle were panic stricken at sight of these unexpected
re-enforcements for the opposition. They poured in a withering fire,
but it was returned with such deadly effect that the Germans
But the Germans aft pressed into the heat of the conflict, disregarding
shots rained upon them by the allies. Lord Hastings called his men to
make a massed stand. They gathered about him and dashed headlong at
Revolvers replaced rifles now, for the fighting was at too close
quarters for the use of the latter. Men emptied their revolvers in the
very faces of their enemies, then clubbed their weapons and continued
As the allies turned to meet this attack, the Germans in the forecastle
rallied and dashed for the bridge. From behind them, the force led by
Jack with Tom flung themselves forward.
At almost the same time consciousness returned to Frank on the bridge.
Slowly he raised his head, saw the men approaching him, picked up the
revolver that lay near his hand and emptied it into the face of the
foe. His second automatic leaped from his pocket and also flashed
Taken by surprise, the Germans hesitated. At the same moment Frank
staggered toward the machine guns. He gripped one, whirled it so that
it covered the deck.
But he could not fire. Lord Hastings' force was in the line of fire
and to have opened up with the rapid-firer would have annihilated the
allies as well as the Germans.
A bullet whistled past the lad's head and he ducked instinctively. He
emptied the second revolver into the mass of his foes and hurled the
now useless weapon in their faces.
Then the Germans were upon him.
But Jack, who realized what would follow should the Germans gain
control of the bridge, had urged his men to greater efforts, and these
now fell upon the Germans from behind.
With absolute disregard for their own safety, and fighting side by
side, Jack and the giant negro forced their way through the struggling
mass. The negro wreaked terrible havoc with his deadly pair of brass
knuckles, but Jack was giving an equally good account of himself with
his two clubbed revolvers.
Two men sprang to the bridge. Frank met the first with a blow of his
right fist and the man dropped back. The second made the bridge and
Frank grappled with him. The two went down in a heap.
"To the bridge, Tom!" called Jack.
With a desperate effort the two broke through the mass of the enemy and
leaped safely to the bridge. Four Germans piled forward with them.
Meantime Lord Hastings' force was so hardly pressed that be for the
moment lost sight of the bridge. Under the volleys of the Germans who
still stuck to the forecastle, the Americans and English threw
themselves to the deck for what little shelter they could find. There
they sniped off what numbers of the enemy they could.
Then the Germans who held the forecastle charged.
There was nothing for Lord Hasings to do now but order his men to their
feet to meet this situation. At command, they leaped up quickly and
presented a solid front to the foe.
In the foremost of the fighting was Captain Stoneman, erstwhile
commander of the Algonquin. He had long since discarded his empty
automatics to favor of bare fists, and now he flung himself into the
midst of the battle. Others sprang forward with him, those who were
still armed firing point blank into the mass of the foe.
The Germans gave ground.
The men who had been released last by Jack and the big negro now dashed
forward with wild cries of joy and fell upon the enemy from the rear.
On the bridge, Jack, Frank and the negro Tom now were battling with
fully a dozen men. No shots were fired. All on the bridge had
exhausted their ammunition, and now fell to with butts of revolvers and
their naked fists.
"Charge 'em!" shouted Jack suddenly, who realized that the enemy was
working back so that they could get their hands on the machine guns.
Frank and the negro asked no questions. Jack dashed forward; they
"I'm coming, suh!" shouted the negro.
His long arms flew about like flails, and wherever those brass knuckles
struck a man went down. Jack felled two men with as many blows. The
negro accounted for two more. Frank dropped one to the deck.
There were still seven against three, and the Germans pressed forward
with wild cries.
Again the brass knuckles found their mark and a German toppled to the
deck. Glancing around, the huge negro saw Frank locked in a close
embrace with a powerful German.
The negro stepped back and struck out viciously. The grip on Frank
There were but five men to deal with now.
One of these Jack disposed of with a blow to the point of the chin.
Frank brought his revolver crashing down on the head of another. Tom's
knuckles went home again.
There were only two Germans on the bridge now. These turned to run.
Tom stepped forward with quick strides and grasped one by the arm,
twisted sharply and sent him hurling into the sea. Then, with the rage
of battle still in his heart and before Frank or Jack could stop him,
he struck the remaining German a powerful blow in the face. The man
crumpled tip and lay still.
The three now were the undisputed masters of the bridge. But along the
deck the battle still raged.