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The Brighton Boys with the Submarine Fleet by James R. Driscoll

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Jack was conducted to an old boat house that in the days before the
war had been used by the Belgian fishermen as a repair shop for
their fishing craft. He was glad of a chance to rest. The ropes
had bound his legs and arms painfully, and his muscles ached from
the battering he had received in the sea while making his escape
from the _Dewey_. The _Dewey_! Jack thought now of his good old
ship and wondered what "Little Mack" and the rest of the boys were
doing.

Completely tired out, he climbed into a dilapidated old fishing dory
and stretched himself out in the bottom of the boat. Using a
tarpaulin for a cover, he made himself as comfortable as possible
and dozed off.

So fatigued was he that he slept soundly, unconscious of the activity
without, where the moored U-boat was being fitted for another voyage
into the North Sea.

It was several hours past noon when he was awakened by the roar of
guns, hoarse cries of men, and the stamp of feet outside his prison.
As he jumped to his feet and clambered out of the boat a shell burst
just over the fish-house, scattering a hail of metal over the flimsy
roof and tearing a jagged hole in the wall above the doorway. Running
to a window that looked out over the canal wharf, Jack saw Germans
scrambling up out of the hold of the U-boat, some of them carrying
rifles, others lugging a machine gun. The village was in wild confusion.

"Am I dreaming?" Jack asked himself incredulously, "or is the village
being attacked?"

For answer came another shell that ripped its way clean through the
frame building in which he was housed, bursting with a roar that
brought the flimsy structure crashing down upon the head of the
imprisoned boy. Blinded by the dust and splinters, he fought his
way madly through the mass of debris until he emerged clear of the
wreck. The first thing he stumbled upon was the body of the German
sentry who had been posted outside the guardhouse. He had been
struck down by a fragment of the shell and blood flowed from an
ugly wound in the head.

Jack paused only long enough to rip off the sidearms and ammunition
belt of the stricken German and then ran pell-mell across the open
space that fronted the old guardhouse to one of the village streets
up which the stream of German sailors had vanished. As he got an
unbroken view up the street and on to the higher ground that stretched
away from the village, Jack beheld a pitched battle in progress with
a skirmish line stretched out as far as the eye could carry. The
Germans had raffled to the defense of their hiding place and had
hurriedly thrown up an emplacement for their machine guns.
"Crack---crack----crack!" came the spitting of the rifles, interspersed
now and then with the louder detonation of light artillery.

Whoever they were, whether English, French, or American, Jack saw at
a glance that the village had been attacked. He thought of the U-boat
at the wharf and forthwith decided that his bit in the spectacular
drama now being staged was to prevent the escape of the craft.
Hurriedly retracing his steps, he made for the wharf, running at top
speed and drawing the revolver he had appropriated from the wounded
sentry. As he came dashing down to the wharf he discerned a German
at the quay-post endeavoring to cast off the towline.

"Drop that rope!" he commanded. The German turned, saw the approaching
boy and the menacing pistol. He threw up his hands instantly.

"Now get aboard as fast as you can," commanded Jack, pointing the way
over the gangplank, after he had relieved his captive of a brace of
revolvers. Jack followed hard on the steps of the German and once on
the deck of the U-boat, ordered the fellow below.

"Close that hatch as you go down and keep it closed," ordered Jack.
"And if there are any more below deck tell them to stay right where
they are. If anybody shows head above deck I'll blow out his brains."

Soon Jack was in command of the situation. Making sure that the
submarine was securely moored ashore, he retreated again to the
deck of the U-boat, drawing after him the heavy plank that had been
laid down as a gangplank. The battle on the outskirts of the village
was still raging with fury. Shells were bursting all around the
submarine. Running to starboard, Jack took up his position directly
behind the conning tower with the steel turret between him and the
village. Crouching with a revolver in either hand, he kept sharp
watch at the closed hatches for any attempted outbreak from within.

Soon they came, pouring in wild retreat down the village street
toward the wharf, running pell-mell for the U-boat. At a glance
Jack could see the tide of battle had turned against the Germans and
they were being worsted. He resolved to stand his ground and prevent
the escape of the enemy by way of the submarine.

On they came, a dozen or more of them, heading directly for the
U-boat. The leader of the column, looking in vain for the gangplank,
called to a companion and together they attempted to swing another
timber into position. Leaning around the turret Jack took careful
aim and fired. The foremost of the pair threw up his hands and
dropped. Maddened at this unexpected turn of affairs, the infuriated
Germans began raining a hail of fire at the turret of the U-boat.
Shielding himself as best he could, Jack returned the fire, making
a special effort to keep the Germans away from the towline ashore.

As he fired again at a skulking figure, Jack felt a sting in his right
arm and at the same moment his revolver fell from his fingers and
splashed into the canal. He almost despaired of holding out longer
when with a great cheer the attacking party burst through the village
and hurled themselves upon the remnants of the Germans making their
last stand at the wharf.

Risking a glance over the top of the turret between the bases of the
periscope poles, Jack was stunned with joy to see the familiar
uniforms of the bluejackets and marines of the United States Navy!

CHAPTER XIX

CAPTURING A U-BOAT

The battle at the wharf was of short duration. Completely surrounded
and outnumbered ten to one, the party of isolated Germans threw down
their arms and surrendered. From his vantage point behind the conning
tower of the captured U-boat Jack kept tabs on the struggle until all
firing had ceased and he was sure the Germans had been completely
subjugated. The cheering of his rescuers apprised him of the defeat
of the enemy. Walking out on the deck of the U-boat, he pulled off
his hat and welcomed his deliverers with a lusty yell.

His sudden appearance from behind the conning tower of the U-boat
completely nonplussed his friends for a moment. The bluejackets
wheeled at the sound of his voice and a dozen rifles were trained on
him in an instant.

"Don't fire!" yelled Jack. "I'm Jack Hammond of the U.S.S. _Dewey_."

For a moment the blue jackets paused---and then pandemonium broke
loose.

"Hurrah, hurrah for Jack Hammond!" they shouted. Hastily a gangplank
was thrown out to the captive U-boat and Jack ran ashore only to be
surrounded by his fellow-countrymen and fairly lifted off his feet.

"We've heard all about you---how you escaped from the U-boat and called
for help from the German wireless station. Bully for you, Jack
Hammond; Uncle Sam can be proud of you," cried a sergeant of marines,
who was gripping his hand with a clasp of steel.

Through the crowd of sailors and marines at that moment came a slender
lad who elbowed his way forward with the ruthless violence of a
fullback determined upon a touchdown. Right and left he tossed the
bluejackets until he had fought to the side of the rescued American
in the center of the group.

"Jack!" he yelled in delight.

"Ted!" cried the other almost in unison.

Unabashed, the two old Brighton chums embraced each other like two
school girls just back for the fall term after summer vacation.

"Gee, chum, I never expected to see you again!" exclaimed Ted as he
released his companion from a regular bear hug.

"Nor I you, either," said Jack. "Tell me, what happened to the _Dewey_?
How did you get out? Where is McClure and all the rest of the crew?
How did you get here?"

Jack was so excited thinking of his old friends he forgot his own part
in the stirring incidents of the last few hours, and his own injury,
as he insisted on hearing the whole story from his old roommate.
"I'll tell you pretty soon; everybody is safe and all O.K.," answered
Ted. And then he beheld the blood dripping from Jack's wounded arm.

"Wait a moment; what's wrong here?" he exclaimed, lifting the arm
tenderly and disclosing to the view of the excited group of Americans
a wound just above the wrist.

"Oh, it's just a scratch on the arm; one of the Boches nipped me while
I was out there on the U-boat deck waiting for you fellows to come
down through the village," he replied lightly, trying to minimize his
injury.

A first-aid kit was produced and the wound hurriedly dressed. It
seemed to be but a slight flesh wound. In the midst of the dressing
a great shrapnel shell burst just on the other side of the canal
and threw some of its fragments into the water just beyond the U-boat.
At the same moment was heard the whirr of an airplane motor overhead
and very shortly a hand bomb crashed to earth not more than two
hundred yards up the canal towpath, exploding with a terrible detonation
and tearing up a fearful hole in the ground.

"The German guns are all in action now," said Ted as he watched the
airplane circling above the U-boat base.

Jack was soon told of the situation. He had been rescued by a landing
party from several warships of the U.S. fleet. Under the cover of
their guns, trained upon the German fortifications at Blankenberghe,
further up the coast, and another Hun fort further down the coast, the
bluejackets and marines had come ashore.

Seaward could be heard the incessant pounding of the American guns,
intermingled with the boom-boom of the German artillery in the coast
defenses. The German air patrol had flashed warning of the approaching
American fleet and given the range to their gunners.

As Ted finished dressing the flesh wound, Jack saw coming toward him
a naval officer whose epaulets showed him to be a Lieutenant-Commander
of the United States Navy. Jack saluted formally.

"Are you Mr. Jack Hammond of the U.S.S. _Dewey_?" the officer asked.

Jack replied in the affirmative.

"I am Lieutenant-commander Davis of the U.S.S. _Tallahassee_," replied
the officer. "You are the man we came after, and now that we have found
you we must get right out of here as quickly as possible. I should like,
however, to congratulate you on your remarkable exploit in getting away
from the submarine and signaling so fearlessly for aid. Furthermore,
I congratulate you, too, on capturing this U-boat single-handed."

Jack blushed and endeavored to stammer his thanks.

Immediately the American landing party prepared to retire. Deprived
of all arms, the German prisoners were turned loose and driven out
of the village, with instructions to get away as quickly as possible.
After communicating with the American fleet offshore, reporting the
rescue of Hammond and receiving instructions to get aboard ship as
quickly as possible, Lieutenant-Commander Davis ordered the destruction
of the wireless station. Likewise the two huge oil tanks at the
canal's edge in which the Germans had stored fuel for their U-boats
were fired, along with supply stores and every other thing that might
prove of value to the enemy.

Lieutenant-Commander Davis hurried up and asked Jack whether his
injury was sufficiently serious to incapacitate him for active service.
When Jack replied that he was capable of performing any desired
service, the American officer said:

"We shall certainly try and take that U-boat along with us. I am
going to detail twenty of my men to the U-boat under command of
Lieutenant Bridwell I should like you and Mr. Wainwright to assist
Lieutenant Bridwell in getting the U-boat out to sea. We shall
retire overland to our boats on the coast and leave you men to bring
out the submarine."

Forthwith a crew was made up for the U-boat out of the landing party.
Three Germans who still remained cowering within the conning tower of
the submarine submitted quietly to capture. Lieutenant Bridwell
decided to make the Germans assist in getting the U-boat out to sea.

"Put one of our men over each of the chaps and tell them to shoot at
the first sign of any funny business," was Bridwell's order to Jack.
It was found that the U-boat's fuel tanks had been but recently
replenished---in fact, the submarine bad been fitted for another
cruise and was all ready to put to sea.

Jack found himself acting as executive officer to Lieutenant Bridwell
in the operation of the submersible. Her oil engines were easily set
in motion and her steering apparatus; was not unlike that of the _Dewey_,
so the task of navigating the captured prize out to sea seemed not a
difficult one.

Lieutenant Bridwell summoned one of the German prisoners before him.

"You understand English?" he asked.

"Yes," answered the captive Teuton.

"Then listen to me," went on the American commander. "Either you
assist us to get out to sea or forfeit your life. I don't mean by
that that we will kill you. The channel out to sea is probably
mined and netted. If we explode a mine or run into a net and get
stranded you die with the rest of us. Which will it be?"

The German signified his willingness to assist. He knew the channel
very well, he continued, and would do his part. And then the most
surprising thing happened. Of his own free will the captive told how
he and his two companions aboard the U-boat had been pressed into the
submarine service against their will. They had not desired to embark
with one of the undersea fleet, but had been compelled to enlist in
the service.

Many of the Germans were in open revolt against U-boat service, said
the Teuton, because of the great number of submersibles being sunk
by the allied navies. Only the previous week a revolt had occurred
in the fleet at Cuxhaven, an admiral and a naval commander had been
thrown overboard and a number of U-boats were lying inactive at their
bases because of the inability to ship crews.

When the American lad had driven them inside the U-boat at the approach
of the victorious landing party, continued the loquacious prisoner,
they had decided at first to cripple the U-boat. But after talking
it over they had decided that it would be better to fall into the
hands of the Americans than to lose their lives by sinking the U-boat.

And now they were willing to assist their captors in getting safely
out to sea.

Lieutenant Bridwell smilingly accepted the offer, but with a knowing
wink to Jack which meant that the latter was to keep close watch over
the talkative and seemingly docile German.

Now the evacuation of the U-boat base was under way. Having razed the
place completely, Lieutenant-commander Davis was directing the retreat
of his men over the sand dunes to their waiting boats on the beach
front a mile or so off. German airplanes were making valiant efforts
to wipe out the American landing party, but were so hard pressed by
the heavy fire from the American battleships at sea that their aim
was inaccurate.

The U-boat got under way with Lieutenant Bridwell, Jack, and the
German pilot in the conning tower. Ted was dividing his time between
the engine room and the control chamber, where the other two Germans
were stationed under strong guard.

Moving very slowly, the U-boat was headed down the canal and very
soon emerged into the bay that Jack had found in his exploration of
the coast. In full view now was the American fleet from which the
landing party had been set ashore---the battleship Tallahassee, the
cruisers Detroit and Raleigh, the destroyer _Farragut_ and the
submarine _Dewey_. The Tallahassee was lying broadside of the coast
with all her monster fourteen-inch guns ready for action.

Soon the U-boat had wormed its way safely out into the open sea and
was skimming along under the heavy fire of the fleet that was being
directed against the German coast fortifications. As the U-boat, with
the Stars and Stripes flaunting astern, moved outward, the fleet got
under way.

Notwithstanding the heavy German fire from the coast defenses the
American ships got safely away virtually unscarred in the battle.
Fifteen miles out at sea the captured German U-boat came up with
the _Dewey_. Jack had a joyous reunion with "Little Mack," Cleary
and Binns, Bill Witt, Mike Mowrey and all his other friends aboard
the reclaimed American submarine. And then he heard the complete
story of his rescue.

No sooner had the _Dewey_ appeared upon the, surface, following the
successful consummation of Ted Wainwright's plan, than she had
sighted the destroyer _Farragut_. The latter had heard Jack's call
for help from the German wireless station ashore and had come dashing
to the rescue. At first the commander of the _Farragut_ had considered
the whole thing a ruse on the part of the Germans to lure an American
ship to its doom within range of the powerful coast guns; but the
continued silence of the wireless station after that first frantic
call for help had convinced the destroyer's commander that the message
was genuine.

Along the way, while still attempting to speak the wireless operator
ashore, the _Farragut_ had picked up the battleship Tallahassee and
enlisted its aid. The latter had summoned the Detroit and the Raleigh.
It was while the _Farragut_ was searching for some trace of the sunken
_Dewey_ that the escaped submarine had suddenly shot to the surface
within a half mile of the destroyer.

When the Tallahassee, the Detroit and the Raleigh had come up, there
had been a conference and then the landing party had been resolved
upon. Two hundred and fifty bluejackets and marines had successfully
accomplished the landing and after a brief search had spotted the
wireless station and the U-boat village. The German submarine base,
it was noted, was located along the banks of a canal leading into
the coast town of Blankenberghe---a waterway the Germans: had opened
up after their occupation of Belgium.

Jack Hammond got a rousing reception. The story of his escape from the
_Dewey_ and his bold adventure in the German wireless station had
become known and he was roundly cheered. When it was seen that the
Americans had brought back with them a huge German U-boat there was
great jubilation.

The captain of the Tallahassee, who was the ranking officer of the
assembled fleet, decided that the _Farragut_ should tow the captured
U-boat to the American naval base on the English coast, while the
_Dewey_ also was to return to the same port for thorough inspection
and repairs. A number of her crew were in bad shape from the long
confinement in the stranded sub.

"Your men need a bit of play after their hazardous experience," was
the message flashed to the _Dewey_ from the Tallahassee's commander
as he bade "Little Mack" and his men Godspeed.

And so, after an uneventful run across the North Sea, the _Dewey_
came back to England, bringing as her prize a monster U-boat of the
latest design, complete in every detail and ready for service under
the Stars and Stripes.

And with her came Jack Hammond---a new American naval hero, whose deeds
had fitted him for rank among the immortal list.

CHAPTER XX

THE MOTHER SHIP

News of the capture of the German U-boat had preceded the returning
squadron and a great reception was accorded the American submarine and
its gallant crew as it came to anchor again in the harbor at Chatham.
Several American warships were at anchor with other units of the
British and French fleets, and thousands of sailors lined the decks
to cheer the plucky _Dewey_ as it wended its way to its anchorage,
accompanied by the destroyer _Farragut_, the latter towing the
captive German submarine.

During the days that followed, Jack and Ted found themselves lionized
wherever they went while on shore duty. News of the capture had
spread throughout England and France, and the censors had permitted
a generous account of the affair to be forwarded by cable to the
United States.

Letters and messages reached the boys, but none that pleased them more,
amid all the adulation heaped upon them, than a simple cablegram of a
few words, forwarded from Brighton Academy that read: _"Hearty
congratulations. We knew you would make good, and we are proud of you._"
"_The Brighton Boys_."

Closer inspection of the captured U-boat by American and English
naval officers proved it to be one of the very latest and improved
types of German undersea craft. It was a vessel of a thousand tons
displacement and more than three hundred feet long, capable of a
surface speed of twenty knots an hour and propelled by twin engines
of eight thousand horsepower. The hull was constructed of double
steel---virtually one hull within another---and the space between
hulls given over to the storage of fuel oil, thus increasing the
cruising radius of the vessel by permitting the carrying of more fuel.
The periscopes were of the telescopic variety that could be raised and
lowered.

"What do you suppose they will do with our prize?" asked Jack one
afternoon about a week after they had returned from their adventurous
voyage. He was talking to "Little Mack," who was supervising some
repairs to the _Dewey_.

The submarine commander's eyes twinkled. "I reckon they'll turn her
right in against the Germans," was his reply.

"Do you suppose they will man her with a crew from the American fleet?"
pursued Jack.

"Haven't the least doubt of it," answered his chief. "Some of my boys
may be taken to fill up her crew and I wouldn't be a bit surprised if
they light on you.

"But not with my permission," continued McClure after a pause.

Jack was pleased at the compliment and hastened to assure his commander
that he hoped always to remain with him for the war. Jack's brave
fight to save his captain from the sea in the encounter with the
floating mine, together with the experiences they had shared the last
two weeks, had endeared these two to each other, and while there was
a difference of some ten years in their ages, they were close friends.

Commander McClure's surmises as to the disposition of the U-boat were
correct, as subsequent events showed. Chief Engineer Blaine and his
staff of the _Dewey_ were assigned to the U-boat with orders to
familiarize themselves with the operation of the vessel as quickly
as possible. American deck guns were being substituted for the
German guns and alterations being made in the torpedo tubes to
accommodate made-in-america torpedoes.

Returning to the naval station one afternoon from shore-leave, Commander
McClure drew Jack aside to announce briefly that he had just received
orders transferring him from the _Dewey_ to command of the U-boat.
Executive Officer Cleary, with a portion of the _Dewey's_ crew, had
been detailed to remain in Chatham with the American submarine. It
was to undergo extensive repairs after its perilous adventure on the
bottom of the sea.

"And now I have a surprise for you," smiled "Little Mack," as he took
from his inner pocket an official-looking envelope and handed it to
Jack. The latter took the proffered envelope and tore it open. What
he read therein was enough to make any ambitious young American
submarine sailor open his eyes.

It was an official order announcing the appointment of Jack as an
ensign with an assignment to the captured U-boat as executive officer
under Lieutenant-commander McClure!

Jack could scarce believe what he read and was so dumbfounded he could
not speak for some minutes.

"And our friend Wainwright is to be with us, too," continued McClure.

"You mean Ted Wainwright?" asked Jack.

"Yes, he will be my aide and relieve the wireless operator at times,"
explained "Little Mack." "As a matter of fact," he continued, "I will
ship the most of my old crew on the U-boat. The _Dewey_ will be out
of service for some time and Cleary will probably take her out on her
next voyage with a brand new crew."

Jack excused himself in a few minutes to hurry away and acquaint Ted
with the news. He found his chum writing letters and broke the news
to him. The two did a fine young hornpipe dance, so delighted were
they over the fact that they had been assigned together to the same
vessel again---and to the famous U-boat.

The next ten days were taken up by the new officers of the U-boat
in acquainting themselves thoroughly with the operation of the captured
craft, and in preparations for the new trip to sea. Latest news from
the front had shown the Allies closing in on the German naval bases
along the North Sea front. The combined armies of the Americans,
the French and the British under one commander had driven the Huns
northward till Zeebrugge was in danger of being wrested from them.
Consequently, the American lads were anxious to get into the fray with
their powerful new vessel.

"What are they going to call our new Kaiser-buster?" asked Jack of his
chief one morning while they were inspecting the ship's storage tanks.

"So far as the Germans are concerned she is still the U-91," said
the little captain. "You notice that we haven't changed the outside
dress of her a single bit. Unless I lose my guess we are going to
get pretty close to the Boche with this old boat of theirs."

And then "Little Mack" confided to Jack that the German code book
had been captured with the U-boat, and that, furthermore, the U-91
had shipped as her wireless chief a former secret-service chap, Hal
Bonte, who had worked for a time in the offices of a German-American
steamship line in New York and knew the German language "like a
breeze."

"Of course the U-91 has been re-named," continued the captain. "She
will be known hereafter in the navy department records as the _Monitor_.
You remember what that other _Monitor_ did."

And Jack, of course, recalled at once the famous battle in Hampton
Roads during the Civil War when the little cheesebox of John Ericsson
had whipped the much touted _Merrimac_ after the Confederate terror
had completely dominated the Federal fleet and for a time wrested the
prestige of the sea from the Union.

"Pretty good record to live up to," commented Jack as he recalled the
feats of the famous little Ironsides that had saved the day for the
Union.

"And you bet we'll do it," retaliated his chief.

It was not long before the _Monitor_ was ready to put to sea again.
Thoroughly equipped, her captain and crew familiarized with the
operation of their new craft after a number of trial trips in English
waters, she awaited only the call of duty that would send her forth
for daring exploits against the Hohenzollern navy---a German submarine
born of steel out of the great Krupp works and put together in the
yards at Wilhelmshaven turned against her own sister ships under the
direction of a doughty Yankee crew!

At last came the order to move, an order received with great acclaim
down in the hold of the massive steel structure where her crew of
forty-two men laid wagers on the number of ships they would sink, and
up in the conning tower where her officers fretted to be loose again
in the North Sea. The _Monitor_ carried eight torpedoes and several
tons of shells for her deck guns, while her fuel tanks had enough oil
to keep her afloat for many days.

During the next few weeks the world was startled by the exploits of
some daredevil sort of a submarine that seemed to have an uncanny
habit of turning up right in the heart of German fleets. Units of
the German navy were being sunk with ridiculous ease. U-boat bases
were raided and upon one occasion the mystery submarine had worked
its way into a German harbor and blown up a cruiser.

Late one afternoon, just before dusk, the _Monitor_ fell in with a
submarine of unusual length and depth, a monster vessel of the type
of the famous _Deutschland_ that had made the memorable transatlantic
voyage earlier in the war, but of even greater displacement.

Running partly submerged the _Monitor_ had sighted the big fellow
several miles astern. Jack was in the conning tower at the wheel
when he noticed the U-boat across the water.

"Looks like an undersea cargo boat," said Jack after he had reported
to McClure, and the two stood gazing intently at it through the
periscopes.

"The Germans aren't trading with cross-atlantic nations any more,"
said "Little Mack" with a grim smile. "Most likely she is a mother
ship for submarines. She has her wireless antenna up and is talking
to some one. Suppose we go above and get in communication with her."

Accordingly, the engines were slowed down and the _Monitor_ ascended
until she was awash. In that position her wireless aerials,
telescopically arranged like her periscopes, were run out and the
wires strung.

Almost immediately she "cut in" on the big submersible.

At that moment the latter vessel spoke the _Monitor_ and wanted to
know who she was.

"Tell him the U-108 out of Zeebrugge," the American skipper told his
wireless chief.

The message, in German code, was clicked out by Hal Bonte.

For a few minutes the two ships flung their wave lengths at each other
and then the _Monitor's_ operator closed the key to say to his chief:

"That chap over there is the _Bergerhof_, mother ship of the German
U-boat fleet with supplies of fuel and food for our enemy's submarines.
She is keeping a tryst here with her children and expects them at
this rendezvous within the next two hours. After which the well-filled
children are to visit the English channel and attack a group of
transports scheduled for convoy to France the following night. She
signals us to heave to and wait the appointed time."

McClure chuckled at the announcement.

"Just as I thought. Give them an O.K. in your best German," was his
rejoinder.

CHAPTER XXI

TRAPPED

Gain the _Monitor_ spoke the _Bergerhof_ and received in turn a summons
to come alongside and take on fresh stores of fuel.

"If we do we will disclose our identity and it will be all off," said
"Little Mack" in a quandary.

Then Jack had an inspiration.

"Tell them we are having some trouble with our diving rudders and will
be along shortly," he offered.

"Little Mack" seized upon the suggestion and acted promptly. In code
the mother submarine answered that she was coming to aid. "Let her
come; we'll give her a hot reception," said McClure grimly.

As the _Bergerhof_ neared them McClure submerged a little and jockeyed
his vessel into position for a sure shot.

This aroused the suspicions of the German and she asked whether the
steering apparatus of the U-los had again gone wrong.

"Here is our answer," exclaimed McClure, and catching the big submersible
full on the sight of the periscope glass, he released a torpedo.

Their suspicions now fully confirmed the Germans sought vainly to get
their vessel under way; but the movement came too late, as the torpedo
from the _Monitor_ cleft the waters like an arrow and buried its
nose against the hull of the gigantic mother ship just abaft the
conning tower. With a mighty roar and a flash that illumined the
night the speeding projectile crashed through the hull of the
_Bergerhof_ and rent the vessel like so much paper.

"Seems like a pity to put them out of business, don't it?" said
McClure with a tone of wistful regret as he surveyed the picture.
Jack was viewing the whole spectacle through the periscope, his chief
at the observation port in the conning tower.

"We sure did get them," commented Jack. There wasn't the least
possibility of the mother ship offering resistance, since it was now
a matter of a few minutes at the longest until she would be taking
her last dive. So the conning tower of the _Monitor_ was opened and
the officers climbed on deck to watch the death struggle of the
_Bergerhof_. The _Monitor's_ torpedo had done its work well, for it
was quite evident, as the American craft drew near the scene of the
explosion, that the German vessel had been blown out of the water.

"Probably a half dozen men were out on deck when we hit them," said
McClure. "Suppose we get right up close and see whether we can fish
a few of them out of the water."

He rang the _Monitor_ ahead directly for the spot where the German ship
had disappeared under the waves, and as it drew closer slowed down the
engines.

"There's one poor chap directly off the port bow," observed Jack as he
pointed to a bobbing figure in the water. The _Monitor_ was stopped
and in a few minutes the unlucky German was hauled on deck. He proved
to be a petty officer, suffering several slight wounds, and he grasped
eagerly the rope extended to him by several of the American sailors.
In like fashion six other Teutons were hauled out of the water, among
them the captain of the doomed ship.

"We thought you were friends and not enemies," said the German executive
as he looked first from McClure to Jack and then ran his eye along the
deck of the _Monitor_, with surprise written in every feature.

"Sorry, but we had to sink you," was Commander McClure's rejoinder.

The prisoners were hurried below deck and made comfortable. They were
a sorry looking lot after their narrow escape from death. McClure
debated with Jack for a time just what to do with the prisoners, but
decided finally to keep them until he could deliver them to a larger
unit of the U.S. fleet. In the meantime they were herded into the
spacious men's quarters just forward of the control chamber and a
strong guard posted over them in charge of Bill Witt.

"If they start any funny business in here, they'll find themselves
worse off than if they had gone down with 'mother' to the bottom of
the deep blue sea," volunteered Bill as he assumed charge of his wards.

Anxious now to inform the Allies' fleet of the intended U-boat raid
planned for the following evening McClure decided upon a flying trip
down the Belgian coast during the night and then a dash across the
North Sea to intercept speedy American destroyers and convey to them
the valuable information that it might be relayed to the flagship and
the warning given in due time.

"We'll stick to the coast for the next six hours," said the _Monitor's_
captain to his executive officer, "and may be able to lay out another
U-boat hurrying to the tryst with Mother _Bergerhof_."

Cruising on the surface the _Monitor_ settled down for the night's run
with Jack in command while his superior officer went below for a few
hours' rest. It was a calm moonlight night with a smooth running sea
and a breeze out of the south. Jack threw open the conning tower and
climbed into the deck steering station. From his vantage point he
had a commanding view of the sea for many miles in every direction and
the young ensign reveled in the glories of the night.

Suddenly, at a distance of not more than two miles off the starboard
beam, Jack spied a vessel driving leisurely toward the east with a
trail of smoke floating along in her train. Taking up his glasses
he was able to make her out plainly in the moonlight---a destroyer!

Without calling his captain Jack decided to follow her for a while
and accordingly altered the course of the _Monitor_ to east by southeast
until she was cutting in at right angles toward the speedy warship.
After a chase lasting the better part of half an hour Jack found that
the _Monitor_ was rapidly approaching the mainland off to port, with
the destroyer running into what appeared to be a convenient harbor on
the Belgian coast. He decided to report to McClure before proceeding
further, and forthwith sent Ted to waken the ship's commander. In a
few minutes McClure climbed into the conning tower.

"What's up now?" he asked as he swept the horizon.

"Destroyer right ahead, sir," reported Jack as he indicated the
position of the vessel. McClure picked it up with his glasses, and
by taking the _Monitor's_ position was able very shortly to determine
that the vessel was off the entrance to Ostend.

"We might as well run up a bit closer and take a shot at her anyway,"
he announced shortly.

Crowding on full speed, the American vessel edged in closer and was
then partially submerged. The German vessel had not noticed the
submarine as yet; at least, she gave no indication of being cognizant
of the proximity of the American vessel. At a distance of three
thousand yards McClure decided to loose a torpedo.

"We'll take one shot and then dive," he said. "The coast is studded
with guns everywhere here and we are too close to them to loiter
around long."

In another moment, after sighting carefully on the fleeing destroyer,
McClure gave the signal to fire and Jack sent a torpedo whirling from
the bow of the _Monitor_.

"And now down we go," said McClure as he signaled to take in ballast.

Not waiting to note the effect of their fire, the officers of the
_Monitor_ sent their ship careening into the depths and went down to
a depth of fifty feet with a greatly decreased speed.

"Guess we had better turn now and make for the open sea," said McClure
as he grasped the rudder key to swing the _Monitor_ around.

But at that moment came a sharp rasping sound on the forward hull of
the American vessel and then a mighty ripping sound aft followed by a
grinding in the region of the propeller blades and an almost sudden
stoppage of the _Monitor_. McClure and Jack looked at each other,
dismay written in their faces.

"Trapped!" ejaculated the little captain. "We are caught in a submarine
net!"

CHAPTER XXII

YANKEE INGENUITY

There was no denying the fact that the _Monitor_ had become enmeshed
in one of the German wire nets.

Unmistakably the scraping against the hull of the submarine was that
of the cables and chains that composed the net. Furthermore, it was
evident from the manner in which the propellers of the ship had ceased
their revolutions that they had struck an impediment of some kind.
McClure and Jack both realized they had, indeed, run into a snare of
the enemy.

For the next half hour the _Monitor_ was put through all manner of
maneuvers as her captain sought to extricate his craft from the web
of steel into which it had dived.

"Seem only to be getting in the tighter," said "Little Mack" as he
stopped the engines and from his chief engineer received a report to
the effect that the driving shafts could be turned only with the
greatest difficulty.

That which vexed the _Monitor's_ officers most, however, was the
knowledge that their capture was almost certainly known by this time
to the Germans ashore and that it would be a matter of minutes until
a German patrol or some other vessel in close touch with the wireless
ashore would be standing over the _Monitor_ awaiting the time when
the submerged vessel must ascend from the depths and surrender. For
it was well known that the submarine traps were equipped with electrical
lamps floating on the surface that were illuminated automatically the
moment a submerged vessel came in contact with the charged cables
underneath the water. Thus the light would engage the attention of
either a patrol ship or the lookout on shore who would soon dispatch
a destroyer to the scene.

Discussing this phase of the situation, Captain McClure had just
decided to make a quick ascension to the surface and take his chances
on freeing the _Monitor_ of her entanglements before a German warship
could come up; but at that moment Bonte reported from the wireless
room the approach of a vessel to port, coming up at full speed.

"Looks as though we are always running into hard luck," said McClure
disgustedly.

Jack tried hard to see the bright side of the situation, but had to
confess to himself that things did look rather black for the _Monitor_
and her men. Nevertheless the boy figured to himself that surely there
was some way in which Yankee wit and ingenuity could baffle the
craftiness of the Germans.

"What are we going to do?" asked Ted as Jack joined him in the torpedo
chamber.

"Haven't quite figured out yet, chum," answered his old Brighton
roommate. "I'll confess that things don't look very rosy for us, but
I'm not going to give up, nor will 'Little Mack' give up, until we
have thought this thing over for awhile."

They strolled from the torpedo chamber into the compartment fitted out
as the men's quarters and there came upon the party of German prisoners
lounging in their bunks, chatting in their own language. Jack could
understand one of them as speculating on the next move of the
Americans. In their midst sat their captain, Hans Schmidt, from Bremen,
he had told them. Jack paused and looked them over for a moment
ruefully.

"I suppose they are chuckling to themselves over our luck and thinking
how nicely they will escape when we go up above and hand ourselves
over as prisoners of war," suggested Ted.

"No doubt, chum, and they probably have the laugh on us right this
time," answered Jack solemnly.

But as he surveyed the prisoners again there came to him a sudden
inspiration born out of the needs of the moment, a brilliant idea
that sent him running into the control chamber and up into the conning
tower where his captain sat alone trying to solve his problem.

"I have it; I have it," he shouted as he grasped the hand of his chief.
And then for five minutes the boy unfolded his daring plan.

"Little Mack" was so thoroughly convinced of the practicability of
Jack's scheme that he set about immediately to put it into action.

"The sooner we try this the better chance we have of getting away,"
volunteered Jack.

"Bonte says there is only one ship above us and it will be better to
try to get away from one than from many. And besides, by going up
immediately we stand a better chance of getting away with our plan
of palming ourselves off as a German crew in one of their own U-boats."

And now Jack's plan was set in motion.

"Mr. Wainwright, will you bring Captain Hans Schmidt into the control
room," "Little Mack" directed.

In a few minutes Ted returned bringing with him the captive naval
officer. Then the American captain addressed himself to the German
leader.

"Captain Schmidt, you are probably aware of the fact that we have
driven into one of your submarine nets and are firmly entangled,"
began McClure slowly. His prisoner nodded assent.

"We do not intend to surrender, although the odds are against us,"
continued the Yankee skipper jauntily. "If we decide to remain down
here and take our medicine you and your men whom we rescued so kindly
from the mother sub are going to get the same medicine that we do."

He paused for a moment to let the import of his words sink home.

"But, Herr Schmidt, we do not propose to stay down here and wait for
death to claim us," he continued calmly. "Life is sweet to us just
as it is sweet to you. We are all here together, prisoners and
captors, and if we live you live; if we die you die.

"Now here is what I propose to do. This, as you see, is a former
U-boat of your navy that fell into our hands. You are a brave German
captain and I am sorry to have had to sink your ship. But there is a
way that you can save yourself and the men who survived with you.

"We are going to ascend in a few minutes. You are to open this
conning tower and call out to the commander of this destroyer overhead
that your U-boat has accidentally stumbled into this net. I am
going to stand right here beside you in the conning tower with this
revolver pressed squarely between your shoulders. We understand
your language and can hear every word you say. If you decline to
obey orders or make one false move you die instantly. You are going
to direct your men here in the hold to work themselves out on the
deck of the _Monitor_ fore and aft. Mr. Hammond will go with the party
forward, Mr. Wainwright aft. They will be armed, with instructions
to shoot the first man who seeks to give an alarm. Your men will cut
the cables and release this vessel.

"And now, what do you say? Either comply with our plan or stay here
and die with us."

Herr Schmidt blinked for a full minute at the electric bulb over the
compass. Then he looked from McClure to Jack and then at Ted, the
trio of American officers gazing intently at their prisoner, grim
determination written on their faces. He must have read in their
eyes their willingness to die rather than submit tamely to surrender,
for he turned in a moment to McClure and said:

"I vill do as you command."

McClure at once directed Jack and Ted to get down into the hold and
change into the uniform of petty German officers, several such
costumes having been found in the _Monitor_ at the time of her capture.
At the same time McClure ordered the German prisoners brought into
the control chamber where he had Bonte, the wireless man, explain
the situation to them in detail. Jack and Ted returned shortly and
all was in readiness for the daring ruse.

"Remember, now, the first man who betrays us dies instantly," said
McClure as he gave orders to throw out ballast.

As the water was expelled from the tanks the _Monitor_ began slowly
to float upward. Moving over to the periscope McClure watched intently
for the moment when the sub would emerge from the sea and he clasped
in each hand a heavy revolver. In another moment the periscope had
thrust its eyes out of the water and McClure was able to make out
the outlines of a German destroyer standing on guard not more than
sixty yards away. Pointing to the conning tower hatch, the American
commander turned to the German leader.

"Now, Herr Schmidt, get busy," he said, with a wave of one of the
revolvers.

CHAPTER XXIII

OUT OF THE NET

In stolid silence the German "Herr Kommander" signaled for the conning
tower hatch to be thrown open and turned to find that Commander
McClure had taken a crouching position directly behind him in the
conning tower, a huge automatic gripped in one hand. Bonte had been
summoned from the wireless room to overhear and translate to the
American commander every word spoken by Herr Schmidt. The latter
grumbled a reply with a nod of his head.

"Remember now, if you betray us, you die instantly," cautioned McClure
as the lid of the conning tower flew open at the touch of a button
and the German thrust his head out into the early morning atmosphere.
A thin silvery mist floated over the water, and McClure, from his
position, could see the, stars twinkling above him. The German
destroyer hovered right at hand and her captain on the forward deck
was bellowing a challenge at the _Monitor_ through a megaphone.

There was a tense silence in the conning tower of the submarine during
the parley that followed.

"Don't attempt to move," said McClure to the German at his side.

In whispers, at intervals in the German dialogue, Bonte translated
to McClure the conversation of Herr Schmidt. The Teuton was telling
his fellow countrymen that it was all a mistake; that this was the
U-108 and that she had stumbled into the net by accident, having been
pulled off her course by a defect in the diving rudders.

McClure had given orders that at the first sign of betrayal the
conning tower was to be closed and the _Monitor_ submerged again
as quickly as possible. Ted stood by ready to transmit the order
to lower away. But what was the surprise of "Little Mack" to have
Herr Schmidt turn and shout down the conning tower in German:

"Send men on deck through the fore and aft hatches equipped to cut
away the cable nets!"

Cramming his revolver into his holster, Jack hurried forward while
Ted made off aft to the engine room. In another moment the forward
hatch was thrown open and three of the German seamen emerged on deck,
followed by the _Monitor's_ executive officer in German naval uniform.
At the same time Ted climbed up from the engine room on the aft deck,
followed by four of the German prisoners. In the dim light the crews
moved about their work like phantoms.

As best they could the Germans lifted the steel wires and cables and
carried them along the deck of the _Monitor_; one toward the bow,
the other toward the stern. It was tedious work and hard work, too,
for the cables were heavy and so interwoven that it was a difficult
task to move them. Ted and his crew had the hardest work because of
the fact that the netting had become entangled in the propeller blades.

Jack and his men finished first, having lifted the last steel mesh
clear of the prow of the _Monitor_, the Germans under him standing
about the deck at his command as though but taking a little air
on the deck of their own vessel After what seemed an eternity to
the submarine commander in the conning tower, Herr Schmidt announced
that the vessel was clear of the entanglements.

"Fine!" exclaimed McClure. "Now we are going away from here."

So saying, he rang the engine room ahead and the _Monitor_ began to
move off at moderate speed. At the same time there was a great
commotion on the German destroyer and a voice at the end of a megaphone
demanded in stentorian tones where the U-boat was going.

"Tell them we are going into Ostend," said McClure, as the German
officer relayed the message into the conning tower.

Now the American officers were intent upon a safe get-away. In order
to make as small a target as possible of the _Monitor_ the tail of
the sub was turned to the destroyer and in that position she glided
away into the depths. In two minutes she was submerged, only the
tips of her periscopes showing.

"They have their aft guns trained on us and are firing away as fast as
they can load and reload," said Jack as he gazed into the tube.

"Well, they'll never get us now," exclaimed McClure as the _Monitor_
took in another three hundred pounds of water ballast and dived down
out of sight of the German warship.

There was danger now of running into another net and the officers of
the sub were fully cognizant of their peril. As a precaution McClure
stopped the engines entirely and then gave orders to submerge to one
hundred feet. Slowly but steadily the vessel dropped away into the
fathoms and was soon beyond the range of guns, depth bombs or other
menacing projectiles. When at last the depth dial showed the desired
depth the _Monitor_ was headed straight out to the open sea and
started ahead at eight knots an hour.

Unmolested, but feeling her way cautiously along until well out of the
danger zone of nets and mines, the _Monitor_ moved out to sea and set
her course for the Strait of Dover.

By noon she had made excellent progress.

Not a vessel had yet been sighted, and with the freedom of the open
sea the sub was able to cruise on the surface at full speed. Several
hours later the _Monitor_ picked up H.M.S. _Chesterton_, turned over
the German prisoners, and gave warning of the intended U-boat raid
on the transports. "We sank the mother ship of the submarines,"
McClure told the _Chesterton's_ commander, "but they'll probably
get their supplies elsewhere and try to pull off the stunt."

The world was electrified next morning by the news of a great battle
between the Allied High Seas Fleet and the German submarine flotilla,
in which the Germans, outnumbered and outgeneraled, were beaten off
with the loss of several giant U-boats. The _Monitor_ played a very
important part in the engagement and had the satisfaction of sinking
one of the enemy ships by gunfire, coming up at close range right
beside the U-boat and engaging her in an old-fashioned hand-to-hand
conflict.

Several days later while cruising in the North Sea a call came to the
_Monitor_---a radiogram from the flagship of the American admiral,
summoning the sub to a rendezvous with other allied submarines for
important instructions.

CHAPTER XXIV

INTO ZEEBRUGGE

The appointed time the _Monitor_ arrived with other units of the
American submarine fleet at the designated point off the English
coast, to which point the undersea flotilla had been ordered by
wireless. There, awaiting them, was the Admiral's flagship, and all
around her trim vessels flying the Stars and Stripes---"sentinels
of democracy."

In the fleet mobilized the _Monitor_ spoke several vessels that had
accompanied the _Dewey_ across the Atlantic on her first voyage into
the war zone; there, also, were many other submarines built in
American shipyards and now in commission in the North Sea activities.
It was a wonderful picture well calculated to stir the blood of
indomitable spirits like Jack Hammond and Ted Wainwright.

In response to a call from the flagship the _Monitor_ came alongside
and Lieutenant McClure with his executive officer and his aide went
aboard. From the Admiral himself they received warm commendation for
the heroic exploits of the converted U-boat, with special reference
to the individual deeds of Ensign Hammond and Ensign Wainwright.

"Permit me to present you two brave lads with these," said the American
Admiral as he took from his aide two official envelopes and handed
them to Jack and Ted. Saluting, the two boys took the communications
and stepped back beside their commander. The Admiral and Lieutenant
McClure withdrew and went below, leaving Jack and Ted on the forward
deck under the giant fifteen-inch guns of the battleship Pennsylvania,
flagship of the American North Sea fleet.

The Brighton boys proceeded to open the official documents and found
commissions signed by the Secretary of the Navy delegating to them the
rank of first lieutenant, U.S.N.

Needless to say both boys were quite elated over their rare good
fortune. It was, indeed, a moment for elation, considering their
short term of service in the navy. Each had won his spurs in the
great arena of service through devotion to duty and the flag and by
exercising that rare courage and initiative that has characterized
the fighting men of the U.S. Navy.

"I'm glad for the sake of dear old Brighton that we have made good,
aren't you, chum?" asked Jack.

"You've said it, old boy!" answered Ted.

And then the lads for a moment digressed from the great war to talk of
dear old "room 63" back there on the third floor of the dormitories
under the campus oaks, with the lights of the town gleaming at night
from the windows. It was the first time they had approached anything
like "homesickness" as each confessed he would like once more to stroll
up the campus and "see the boys."

Pretty soon Captain McClure emerged from amidships with the Admiral and
after a formal exchange of courtesies the officers of the _Monitor_
went over the side of the Pennsylvania and back to the submarine.
Captain McClure was engrossed in thought and as soon as he and his
staff arrived on the _Monitor_ he beckoned them to follow him below.

"Very important news, boys," he began.

"The department has ordered a concerted attack on Zeebrugge. The
allied armies have been making a successful drive in Flanders designed
at getting in behind the German U-boat bases. It seems to be the
consensus of opinion among the naval strategists of our own country,
as well as in England and France, that the only way to stop the
German submarine is to cut off the Germans at their naval bases.
That is the aim of the land drive, and now it is the navy's turn."

He paused for a moment, and then continued:

"But now, to be more explicit. Here are the orders that I have just
received from the Admiral, in conference with other American and
English naval commanders. A picked fleet from the allied navies has
been selected for the attack on Zeebrugge. Our American submarines
are to lead the way. We are expected to worm our way inside the
enemy port and open the attack, Then the battleships will open fire
on the coast fortifications.

"I'll give you a bit of information that you probably don't know. In
the _Monitor_ when she was captured in the U-boat base below
Blankenberghe---thanks to Mr. Hammond's courage and initiative---was
found a complete chart of the approach to Zeebrugge. Mines, nets,
and other impediments all marked off."

"We think we have the key to the situation in that chart."

Captain McClure---who had attained that rank at the time Jack and Ted
were made lieutenants---further explained that he had been designated
in command of the ten American submarines that were to launch the
spectacular attack. He said he would give his attention almost solely
to fleet maneuvers and leave the handling of the _Monitor_ to his
lieutenants.

"We will do our best, sir," said Jack, as he squared his shoulders.

The attack was to be staged the following night. Now for the next
twelve hours or so the crews of the selected warships were carefully
to prepare for the fray and to rest themselves.

The _Monitor_ was put in tiptop shape. Tenders came alongside and
gave her stores of fuel and ammunition. The giant torpedo tubes were
loaded and the ship's full quota of reserve torpedoes taken aboard.
The night and following day were given over to leisure hours. Jack
and Ted wrote letters home and to school telling of their promotions
and some of their latest exploits.

At nine o'clock of the following evening the submarine fleet received
the word to be off.

The attack was planned to be started at one o'clock in the morning
under the cover of darkness. Keeping in close touch, the submarines
spread out over the sea like a huge fan. Behind them at a distance of
five miles moved the supporting column of dreadnoughts, battle cruisers,
destroyers, scouts and mine sweepers---units in the great fleet bent
upon the task of smashing the German stronghold.

The _Monitor_ led off in the battle array. Copies of the chart of
Zeebrugge, the original that had been found on the converted U-boat
at the time of her capture, had been given to every submarine skipper
in the fleet. Each had his orders for this all-important night.

"Here we go!" murmured McClure to his aides as he signaled his fleet
of submarines forward into the fray.

Picking his way according to the German chart, he set a zigzag course.
At length the officers of the _Monitor_ knew they were closing in,
and so far successfully. The submarines were running submerged
with only the tips of their periscopes showing.

All at once there appeared in the sky directly ahead of the _Monitor_
a line of red lights. A German birdman, circling above on patrol duty,
had observed the wake of the periscopes and had touched off a night
flare.

Like a giant pyrotechnic display the red globules floated in the air.

No sooner had the light appeared than there came the boom of a big gun
on shore and a huge shell screeched seaward over the _Monitor_.
Instantly the coast defense guns of the Germans crashed into action.
And now, from the rear of the _Monitor_ and her consorts, came the
answering crash of the great guns on the mighty ships of the Allies.

The furious battle was on!

German aviators, having sighted the American submarines, were bending
all their energies on wiping out the "invisible mosquitoes." Guided
only by the telltale wake of the periscopes, they were dropping huge
depth bombs at random. One of them splashed into the sea directly
astern of the _Monitor_.

"We will have to act quickly now," urged McClure as he rang for full
speed.

So far, so good; not a mine had been encountered. The _Monitor_ was
worming her way unmolested into the heart of the enemy stronghold!

Convinced now that he had passed the guardian line of nets and mines,
McClure decided to dive and run for the inner recesses of the enemy
harbor. Now down, out of sight, out of hearing of the big guns, the
_Monitor_ relentlessly pursued her course, flouting the danger that
lurked on every hand.

At last came the moment when the commander of the submarine flotilla
decided to climb to the surface and make an observation.

With every man standing to his post of duty and every nerve strained
for the next move, the signal to pump out ballast was given and the
_Monitor_ turned her diving rudders to ascend. Soon her periscopes
thrust their eyes out of the depths.

"Look! there, off our port bow!" exclaimed Jack to his chief.

McClure saw it, too, at the same moment---a giant German battle
cruiser lying broadside to the harbor entrance and every gun belching
forth fire at the allied fleet outside!

Responding to the control of her commander, the _Monitor_ swung off
sharply to port and drove straight for the cruiser.

McClure's right hand groped for the torpedo button as he sighted
on the German battle cruiser. He released a torpedo!

CHAPTER XXV

CHLORINE GAS

Confident of security behind the mass of mines and submarine traps
spread ingeniously across the harbor entrance, devoting their attention
almost solely to the artillery duel with the dreadnoughts outside, the
German cruiser knew naught of the stealthy torpedo from the daring
_Monitor_ until it shot suddenly forward below the surface of the
water, revealed in the glare of her own searchlight. But it was
too late then to avoid the deadly missile and it struck home abaft
the engines and directly at the after magazine chambers. With a great
roar and the upheaval of a mighty column of water the torpedo exploded
against the side of the warship. One carefully aimed shot from the
leading American submarine had laid low a ten-thousand-ton cruiser!

"Quick, down we go!" shouted McClure to his navigating officer. The
_Monitor_ shot down now out of sight, and the helm was thrown hard to
starboard. That one shot was sufficient to apprise the Germans of
the presence of submarines and McClure realized full well he would be
a marked man next time he showed his periscopes above water.

It was in mid-channel that the _Monitor_ ventured to the surface
again. The periscopes showed another vessel, a second line battleship
of the pre-dreadnought type, off the starboard beam. Undaunted by
the hail of lead slugs that splashed the sea all around, the _Monitor_
swerved and ran straight for the battleship's bows.

"This one ought to settle scores for that poor old mine sweeper!"
yelled the Yankee skipper as he sighted through the periscope glass
on the wide target in front of him not more than six hundred yards
away.

"Give it to 'em, Mack! Give it to 'em!" cried Jack.

Again, a torpedo leaped from the bowcap of the _Monitor_ and hurled
its ton and a quarter of steel gray mass directly upon the port bow of
the German craft.

As the _Monitor_ dived away again her captain beheld the battleship
listing badly, going down by the bow at a rapid rate.

"Two strikes!" he exclaimed enthusiastically.

"Some night!" gasped Ted as he clutched the foot rail that ran up the
side of the conning tower.

"And some battle!" responded Jack at his side.

With engines slowed down the _Monitor_ ran along a hundred and fifty
yards and then turned her nose upward again for another stab at the
German fleet. As her periscopes cleft the crest of the waves again
and she emerged into the arena of activity McClure caught sight of
a destroyer off the starboard bow not more than five hundred feet away.
A searchlight on the forward deck of the German vessel swept the water
in front of the _Monitor_ with a long white finger of light that fell
in a moment upon the eyes of the American submarine.

"A destroyer driving directly at us at full tilt with all her guns in
action!" roared McClure.

At the same moment he touched off another torpedo; but, in his eagerness
for another "bull's eye" the American commander had fired too soon,
and the torpedo shot past the destroyer, missing the mark by ten yards.

In retaliation, the forward guns of the German craft belched forth a
salvo of leaden hail that followed the path of the searchlight's rays
directly upon the eyes of the _Monitor_. With unerring aim the
German gunners had found their mark. A sharp crash; a roar as the
water above the _Monitor's_ conning tower was converted into a boiling
maelstrom, and the impact of steel against steel betokened the fact
that a shot had struck home in the superstructure of the attacking sub.

"Our periscope's cutoff clean as a whistle," exclaimed McClure as he
backed away from the tube through which he had been observing the
approach of the enemy craft.

"Quick, lower away!" he commanded.

Shipping ballast in all her tanks, the _Monitor_ began dropping into
the depths.

"Look, look!" yelled Jack as he pointed to the steel dome roof of the
conning tower.

In consternation McClure and Ted followed the extended finger to a spot
in the steel casement where a jagged hole had been torn by a fragment
of the German shell fire and where now a thin stream of water was
percolating through the crevice.

"We've got to submerge, boys; that destroyer is almost on top of us
now!" cried McClure in frenzied tones. "Get down into the control
chamber---hurry!" he commanded.

Ted dived down the hatch as fast as he could scramble, followed
closely by Jack, who observed by now a steady stream of water pouring
into the turret of the _Monitor_ and splashing on clear through to
the flooring of the chamber deep down into the hold.

As Jack lowered himself away into the inner chamber amidships the
_Monitor_ was clutched suddenly by a terrific explosion that rocked
the already crippled submarine with the force of a hurricane and
swamped it as though by a tidal wave. She quivered under the whip
of the mighty lash of steel from above.

The German destroyer, driving full speed at the spot where they had
sighted the periscopes of the American tormentor, had crossed directly
over the _Monitor_ and dropped a depth bomb that had exploded nearly
upon the turret of the doughty fighter!

A great gap was torn in the turret through which the sea swept in
a torrent. Fighting madly for the exit hatch into the chamber below,
McClure was dashed off his feet by the lurch of the smitten submarine
and sprawled against the steel side of the conning tower. With the
spray dashing in his face Jack had a fleeting glimpse of his commander,
and by a superhuman effort drew himself back into the turret against
the mass of water. Hurling himself forward, he groped about for his
captain and found him finally on the floor of the turret. Exerting
all his strength, he succeeded in hurling "Little Mack" down into
the control chamber.

Blinded by the swirling water, the youth dived headlong for the opening
in a mad effort to escape the flood and get below that he might shut
off the crushed turret from the rest of the submarine and hold the
deluge in check.

"Close the steel partition!" he yelled to Ted as he leaped for the
opening.

His chum, grasping the air lever, rolled shut the heavy curtain, but
in such precipitate haste that it caught Jack just above the knees
and pinned him fast. There he hung head down with the water pouring
in all around his body.

"Pull me through, Ted! Hurry! Pull me through!" gasped the young
executive officer, as he winced in pain from the smashing blow dealt
his limbs by the steel partition.

Grasping his chum under the armpits, with the water splashing in his
face, Ted braced himself against the side of the control chamber and
pulled with all his might. Inch by inch Jack's body was dragged
through the aperture, Navigating Officer Binns leaping to the assistance
of Ted and hauling away until finally Jack's limbs cleared the opening
and the steel partition closed entirely, shutting off the volume of
water above.

"Are you hurt, chum?" asked Ted.

"Yes, but don't mind me," came the reply, as Jack sprawled out with
both legs hanging limp and useless. Gritting his teeth to stifle a
groan, Jack drew himself up into a sitting posture. By his side lay
McClure unconscious. All around them flowed water, working its way
fore and aft through the submarine.

"Go aft, Ted; find out how things are in the engine room," directed
the injured executive officer. "And you, Binns, make an inspection
forward."

The two officers hurried to make an investigation, returning soon to
report that the boat had not suffered from the depth bomb so far as
could be ascertained except for the damage to the conning tower.
Jack directed that the _Monitor_ be submerged until she rested on the
bottom of the channel. The vessel dropped away until it came to
rest shortly with the depth dial showing one hundred and forty-two feet.

McClure, stunned by a blow on the head, sustained when he was hurled
against the side of the conning tower, was carried away still unconscious
to his bunk. Jack, his limbs bruised, torn and partially paralyzed,
insisted upon remaining at his post of duty and directed the dressing
of his wounds.

"I'll be all right in a little bit," he murmured in response to
inquiries.

Ten minutes passed, twenty and then a half hour, while the crippled
submarine lay inactive with a foot of water in her hull and her
commanding officers seriously injured. And then came an added horror
when the electric lights throughout the vessel began slowly to fade
away into darkness. Chief Engineer Blaine came hurrying into the
control chamber:

"Batteries short circuited by the saltwater!" he exclaimed in a tone
of dismay.

"And that means chlorine gas," added Jack.

"Yes, we notice it already aft," said Blaine all righted.

The pungent odor of the deadly fumes swept into the control chamber
as he spoke!

CHAPTER XXVI

THE STARS AND STRIPES

The salt water worked its way into the batteries of the _Monitor_ the
deadly acid was generated and the gas permeated the air. Gasping for
life, half the engine crew retreated forward, covering their eyes and
noses to escape the asphyxiating vapor. With bloodshot eyes Chief
Engineer Blaine stumbled into the control chamber.

"Impossible to stay back there longer!" he exclaimed brokenly, addressing
himself to Hammond.

"Any chance of putting a bilge pump on the water?" asked Jack.

"Not a chance in the world; no man can work back there," replied
the engineer.

By now the gas had increased in such volume that every man in the
conning tower base was choking and coughing. The only thing to do in
such an emergency was to roll shut the steel partition shutting off
the engine room from the remainder of the vessel. To make matters
worse the lights throughout the _Monitor_ went out, leaving the vessel
in utter darkness.

"Every man out of the engine room?" asked Jack.

"I'll find out," answered Blaine.

In the darkness the chief engineer called off the names of his men,
getting a response, one by one, from the electricians, oilers and
machinists who composed his crew. Not a man was missing, but many of
them were suffering from the effects of near-strangulation. Jack
ordered the opening of the reserve oxygen tanks, and this gave the
sufferers temporary relief.

"Come here, Ted!" called Jack out of the darkness.

Groping his way to where his chum sat propped against the side of the
conning tower, Ted bent over the prostrate form of the ship's executive
officer.

"I'm growing weak, chum," said Jack feebly. "My limbs are numb and I
feel so cold. In case I go under keep the _Monitor_ down here about
half an hour and then take your chances on going up. Better to be
taken prisoners than die here like a lot of rats in a trap. Do you
understand, Ted?"

His teeth chattering with mingled fear and cold---fear for the life
of his old Brighton roommate and cold because of the falling temperature
due to the cutting off of all electrical energy---Ted answered in the
affirmative.

"I guess that's about all we can do, chum," he added.

Ted and Navigating Officer Binns conferred together in the control
chamber.

"Better to go up and take our chances on the surface than to remain
here under these conditions," counseled Binns.

"I agree with you, Mr. Binns," replied Ted.

And so, after another ten minutes' wait, the two decided to empty
the ballast tanks.

In another moment the weight of water filling the ballast tanks was
being thrown off under the force of the compressed air and the
_Monitor_ lifted off the bed of the harbor. Striking a match, Binns
leaned over the depth dial, watching the fluctuating hand that marked
foot by foot the progress of the _Monitor_ upward. To lighten the
load as much as possible and counterbalance the weight of water in
the wrecked conning tower Ted released the torpedoes remaining in
the tubes. In a few minutes the indicator hand pointed to zero and
the _Monitor's_ officers realized that now their craft was riding
awash with her deck fully exposed.

Making his way forward through the gloom, Ted sprang to the hatch and
raised the lid. As the morning light streamed in through the opening
a muffled cheer resounded from the interior of the sub. Vaulting up
the ladder, Ted leaped on deck and looked around him. There to
starboard, not more than five hundred feet away, loomed a giant
cruiser. From her stern tailrail trailed a familiar emblem.

"The Stars and Stripes!" exclaimed the youth as his comrades swarmed
up about him from the hold of the prison ship.

A glorious victory had been won by the allied fleets. All about the
_Monitor_ were warships of the American, English, and French nations.
Reducing the land fortifications after a terrific bombardment, the
combined fleet had "rushed" the harbor in the wake of their
mine-sweepers, engaged and overwhelmed the larger units of the German
fleet there assembled, and driven some of the smaller craft into
the Zeebrugge Canal. Thousands of marines and blue-jackets, formed
into landing parties, had been set upon shore and were now taking
formal possession of the German stronghold.

"Hurrah for the _Monitor_!" the cry reverberated over the waters as
the plucky American submarine was made fast alongside the U.S.S.
_Chicago_ and the story of her night's exploits became heralded
about. Willing hands assisted in reclaiming the wounded and gas
victims from the hold of the ship. Jack and his captain, the latter
still unconscious, suffering from a severe concussion of the brain,
were lifted over the side and carried to the cruiser's sick bay
for their wounds to be dressed. It was found upon examination that
the ligaments and muscles in Jack's limbs had been severely torn
and the flesh lacerated, but that his injuries, while painful, were
not serious.

Great jubilation reigned on all the ships. A band on the forward
deck of the Chicago was playing "Stars and Strips Forever," while
from a nearby British battleship came the strains of "Rule Britannia."
Their last rendezvous on the Flemish coast wrested from them, the
backbone of the German U-boat campaign was broken by the concerted
land and sea attack. Several of the allied warships had gone down
in the spectacular engagement of the night, but a notable victory
had been won, and the boys of the navy were in raptures over their
successful engagement.

Later in the day Jack was transferred to a hospital ship. All the
allied wounded from the sea battle off Zeebrugge were to be sent to
England. Captain McClure was grievously wounded. Jack would not be
able to resume active service for some time, so his surgeon said, and
would probably be invalided home.

In due time Jack arrived in London, where for a time he was a patient
in one of the American-endowed hospitals. Within a week he was joined
by Ted. The latter had been granted a leave of absence. Together the
two young lieutenants took passage on a steamship bound for New York,
and, braving the perils of the submarine-infested sea, crossed to
their own dear old U.S.A.---"the home of the free and the land of the
brave."

And now we shall leave them. Suffice to say that after a several
months' sojourn at home they returned again to the field of activity
to resume their places in the U.S. fleet and continue in service
until the end of the war, reaping new honors for themselves, their
alma mater and their country.

Of course, before they went back to rejoin "Little Mack," Bill Witt,
Mike Mowrey and all their old seafaring mates, they visited Brighton.

It was late afternoon of an October day when the young lieutenants,
spic and span in their uniforms, walked briskly up old Pine Street to
the campus of Brighton. Many of the students were loafing about the
campus awaiting the ringing of the dinner gong when the boys arrived.

Hardly had they climbed the gray stone steps leading to the campus,
however, before they were recognized.

"Hurrah for Jack Hammond and Ted Wainwright!" the cry resounded. Word
of their arrival spread through the dormitories and soon a mob of
chattering schoolboys surrounded the two young officers. As the dinner
gong sounded, the heroes were hoisted to the shoulders of their old
chums and carried into the dining room. There they met all the
"profs" and were compelled to hold an impromptu reception while the
dinner waited.

The study period that night at Brighton was set back an hour. Brighton
had her heroes at home, and she was doing them full honor. Many of
the boys had enlisted in the various branches of service and were now
"over there." But those who remained held a joyous reception in honor
of the two whose stirring deeds had brought such signal honor to the
school that had sent them forth.

A few minutes after ten o'clock, when all the boys had been rung to
their rooms and lights were out, two young naval lieutenants stood at
the foot of the campus, gazing back at the facade of the familiar
old dormitory, its windows framing the heads of many youths who were
shouting a farewell to their old friends.

The boys stood in silence contemplating the picture---listening to the
chorus of good-bys.

Ted was first to speak.

"I guess it was worth while, chum---our going away to serve our country
and coming back to get a reception like this," he faltered.

"And then some!" came Jack's answer. "For Brighton and for Uncle Sam!
That's us!"

THE END

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