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

The Great War Syndicate by Frank Stockton

Part 1 out of 3

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 0.2 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

This etext was prepared with the use of Calera WordScan Plus 2.0


Author of "The Lady or the Tiger," "Rudder Grange,"
"The Casting Away of Mrs. Lecks and Mrs.
Aleshine," "What Might Have Been
Expected," etc., etc.


In the spring of a certain year, not far from the
close of the nineteenth century, when the political
relations between the United States and Great Britain
became so strained that careful observers on both sides
of the Atlantic were forced to the belief that a
serious break in these relations might be looked for at
any time, the fishing schooner Eliza Drum sailed from
a port in Maine for the banks of Newfoundland.

It was in this year that a new system of protection
for American fishing vessels had been adopted in
Washington. Every fleet of these vessels was
accompanied by one or more United States cruisers,
which remained on the fishing grounds, not only
for the purpose of warning American craft who might
approach too near the three-mile limit, but also to
overlook the action of the British naval vessels
on the coast, and to interfere, at least by protest,
with such seizures of American fishing boats as might
appear to be unjust. In the opinion of all persons of
sober judgment, there was nothing in the condition of
affairs at this time so dangerous to the peace of the
two countries as the presence of these American
cruisers in the fishing waters.

The Eliza Drum was late in her arrival on the
fishing grounds, and having, under orders from
Washington, reported to the commander of the
Lennehaha, the United States vessel in charge at that
place, her captain and crew went vigorously to work to
make up for lost time. They worked so vigorously, and
with eyes so single to the catching of fish, that on
the morning of the day after their arrival, they were
hauling up cod at a point which, according to the
nationality of the calculator, might be two and three-
quarters or three and one-quarter miles from the
Canadian coast.

In consequence of this inattention to the apparent
extent of the marine mile, the Eliza Drum, a little
before noon, was overhauled and seized by the British
cruiser, Dog Star. A few miles away the
Lennehaha had perceived the dangerous position of the
Eliza Drum, and had started toward her to warn her to
take a less doubtful position. But before she arrived
the capture had taken place. When he reached the spot
where the Eliza Drum had been fishing, the commander
of the Lennehaha made an observation of the distance
from the shore, and calculated it to be more than three
miles. When he sent an officer in a boat to the Dog
Star to state the result of his computations, the
captain of the British vessel replied that he was
satisfied the distance was less than three miles, and
that he was now about to take the Eliza Drum into

On receiving this information, the commander of the
Lennehaha steamed closer to the Dog Star, and
informed her captain, by means of a speaking-trumpet,
that if he took the Eliza Drum into a Canadian port,
he would first have to sail over his ship. To this the
captain of the Dog Star replied that he did not in
the least object to sail over the Lennehaha, and
proceeded to put a prize crew on board the fishing

At this juncture the captain of the Eliza Drum
ran up a large American flag; in five minutes afterward
the captain of the prize crew hauled it down; in less
than ten minutes after this the Lennehaha and the
Dog Star were blazing at each other with their bow
guns. The spark had been struck.

The contest was not a long one. The Dog Star was
of much greater tonnage and heavier armament than her
antagonist, and early in the afternoon she steamed for
St. John's, taking with her as prizes both the Eliza
Drum and the Lennehaha.

All that night, at every point in the United States
which was reached by telegraph, there burned a
smothered fire; and the next morning, when the regular
and extra editions of the newspapers were poured out
upon the land, the fire burst into a roaring blaze.
From lakes to gulf, from ocean to ocean, on mountain
and plain, in city and prairie, it roared and blazed.
Parties, sections, politics, were all forgotten. Every
American formed part of an electric system; the same
fire flashed into every soul. No matter what might be
thought on the morrow, or in the coming days which
might bring better under-standing, this day the
unreasoning fire blazed and roared.

With morning newspapers in their hands, men rushed
from the breakfast-tables into the streets to meet
their fellow-men. What was it that they should do?

Detailed accounts of the affair came rapidly, but
there was nothing in them to quiet the national
indignation; the American flag had been hauled down by
Englishmen, an American naval vessel had been fired
into and captured; that was enough! No matter whether
the Eliza Drum was within the three-mile limit or
not! No matter which vessel fired first! If it were
the Lennehaha, the more honour to her; she ought to
have done it! From platform, pulpit, stump, and
editorial office came one vehement, passionate shout
directed toward Washington.

Congress was in session, and in its halls the fire
roared louder and blazed higher than on mountain or
plain, in city or prairie. No member of the
Government, from President to page, ventured to oppose
the tempestuous demands of the people. The day for
argument upon the exciting question had been a long
weary one, and it had gone by in less than a week
the great shout of the people was answered by a
declaration of war against Great Britain.

When this had been done, those who demanded war
breathed easier, but those who must direct the war
breathed harder.

It was indeed a time for hard breathing, but the
great mass of the people perceived no reason why this
should be. Money there was in vast abundance. In
every State well-drilled men, by thousands, stood ready
for the word to march, and the military experience and
knowledge given by a great war was yet strong upon the

To the people at large the plan of the war appeared
a very obvious and a very simple one. Canada had given
the offence, Canada should be made to pay the penalty.
In a very short time, one hundred thousand, two hundred
thousand, five hundred thousand men, if necessary,
could be made ready for the invasion of Canada. From
platform, pulpit, stump, and editorial office came the
cry: "On to Canada!"

At the seat of Government, however, the plan of the
war did not appear so obvious, so simple. Throwing a
great army into Canada was all well enough, and that
army would probably do well enough; but the question
which produced hard breathing in the executive branch
of the Government was the immediate protection of the
sea-coast, Atlantic, Gulf, and even Pacific.

In a storm of national indignation war had been
declared against a power which at this period of her
history had brought up her naval forces to a point
double in strength to that of any other country in the
world. And this war had been declared by a nation
which, comparatively speaking, possessed no naval
strength at all.

For some years the United States navy had been
steadily improving, but this improvement was not
sufficient to make it worthy of reliance at this
crisis. As has been said, there was money enough, and
every ship-yard in the country could be set to work to
build ironclad men-of-war: but it takes a long time to
build ships, and England's navy was afloat. It was the
British keel that America had to fear.

By means of the continental cables it was known
that many of the largest mail vessels of the British
transatlantic lines, which had been withdrawn upon the
declaration of war, were preparing in British ports
to transport troops to Canada. It was not impossible
that these great steamers might land an army in Canada
before an American army could be organized and marched
to that province. It might be that the United States
would be forced to defend her borders, instead of
invading those of the enemy.

In every fort and navy-yard all was activity; the
hammering of iron went on by day and by night; but what
was to be done when the great ironclads of England
hammered upon our defences? How long would it be
before the American flag would be seen no more upon the
high seas?

It is not surprising that the Government found its
position one of perilous responsibility. A wrathful
nation expected of it more than it could perform.

All over the country, however, there were
thoughtful men, not connected with the Government, who
saw the perilous features of the situation; and day by
day these grew less afraid of being considered
traitors, and more willing to declare their convictions
of the country's danger. Despite the continuance of
the national enthusiasm, doubts, perplexities, and
fears began to show themselves.

In the States bordering upon Canada a reactionary
feeling became evident. Unless the United States navy
could prevent England from rapidly pouring into Canada,
not only her own troops, but perhaps those of allied
nations, these Northern States might become the scene
of warfare, and whatever the issue of the contest,
their lands might be ravished, their people suffer.

From many quarters urgent demands were now pressed
upon the Government. From the interior there were
clamours for troops to be massed on the Northern
frontier, and from the seaboard cities there came a cry
for ships that were worthy to be called men-of-war,--
ships to defend the harbours and bays, ships to repel
an invasion by sea. Suggestions were innumerable.
There was no time to build, it was urged; the
Government could call upon friendly nations. But wise
men smiled sadly at these suggestions; it was difficult
to find a nation desirous of a war with England.

In the midst of the enthusiasms, the fears, and the
suggestions, came reports of the capture of
American merchantmen by fast British cruisers. These
reports made the American people more furious, the
American Government more anxious.

Almost from the beginning of this period of
national turmoil, a party of gentlemen met daily in one
of the large rooms in a hotel in New York. At first
there were eleven of these men, all from the great
Atlantic cities, but their number increased by arrivals
from other parts of the country, until at last they,
numbered twenty-three. These gentlemen were all great
capitalists, and accustomed to occupying themselves
with great enterprises. By day and by night they met
together with closed doors, until they had matured the
scheme which they had been considering. As soon as
this work was done, a committee was sent to Washington,
to submit a plan to the Government.

These twenty-three men had formed themselves into a
Syndicate, with the object of taking entire charge of
the war between the United States and Great Britain.

This proposition was an astounding one, but the
Government was obliged to treat it with respectful
consideration. The men who offered it were a power
in the land,--a power which no government could afford
to disregard.

The plan of the Syndicate was comprehensive,
direct, and simple. It offered to assume the entire
control and expense of the war, and to effect a
satisfactory peace within one year. As a guarantee
that this contract would be properly performed, an
immense sum of money would be deposited in the Treasury
at Washington. Should the Syndicate be unsuccessful,
this sum would be forfeited, and it would receive no
pay for anything it had done.

The sum to be paid by the Government to the
Syndicate, should it bring the war to a satisfactory
conclusion, would depend upon the duration of
hostilities. That is to say, that as the shorter the
duration of the war, the greater would be the benefit
to the country, therefore, the larger must be the pay
to the Syndicate. According to the proposed contract,
the Syndicate would receive, if the war should continue
for a year, one-quarter the sum stipulated to be paid
if peace should be declared in three months.

If at any time during the conduct of the war by the
Syndicate an American seaport should be taken by
the enemy, or a British force landed on any point of
the seacoast, the contract should be considered at an
end, and security and payment forfeited. If any point
on the northern boundary of the United States should be
taken and occupied by the enemy, one million dollars of
the deposited security should be forfeited for every
such occupation, but the contract should continue.

It was stipulated that the land and naval forces of
the United States should remain under the entire
control of the Government, but should be maintained as
a defensive force, and not brought into action unless
any failure on the part of the Syndicate should render
such action necessary.

The state of feeling in governmental circles, and
the evidences of alarm and distrust which were becoming
apparent in Congress and among the people, exerted an
important influence in favour of the Syndicate. The
Government caught at its proposition, not as if it were
a straw, but as if it were a life-raft. The men who
offered to relieve the executive departments of their
perilous responsibilities were men of great ability,
prominent positions, and vast resources, whose
vast enterprises had already made them known all over
the globe. Such men were not likely to jeopardize
their reputations and fortunes in a case like this,
unless they had well-founded reasons for believing that
they would be successful. Even the largest amount
stipulated to be paid them in case of success would be
less than the ordinary estimates for the military and
naval operations which had been anticipated; and in
case of failure, the amount forfeited would go far to
repair the losses which might be sustained by the
citizens of the various States.

At all events, should the Syndicate be allowed to
take immediate control of the war, there would be time
to put the army and navy, especially the latter, in
better condition to carry on the contest in case of the
failure of the Syndicate. Organization and
construction might still go on, and, should it be
necessary, the army and navy could step into the
contest fresh and well prepared.

All branches of the Government united in accepting
the offer of the Syndicate. The contract was signed,
and the world waited to see what would happen next.

The influence which for years had been exerted by
the interests controlled by the men composing the
Syndicate, had its effect in producing a popular
confidence in the power of the members of the Syndicate
to conduct a war as successfully as they had conducted
other gigantic enterprises. Therefore, although
predictions of disaster came from many quarters, the
American public appeared willing to wait with but
moderate impatience for the result of this novel

The Government now proceeded to mass troops at
important points on the northern frontier; forts were
supplied with men and armaments, all coast defences
were put in the best possible condition, the navy was
stationed at important ports, and work at the ship-
yards went on. But without reference to all this, the
work of the Syndicate immediately began.

This body of men were of various politics and of
various pursuits in life. But politics were no more
regarded in the work they had undertaken than they
would have been in the purchase of land or of railroad
iron. No manifestoes of motives and intentions were
issued to the public. The Syndicate simply went to
work. There could be no doubt that early success
would be a direct profit to it, but there could also be
no doubt that its success would be a vast benefit and
profit, not only to the business enterprises in which
these men were severally engaged, but to the business
of the whole country. To save the United States from a
dragging war, and to save themselves from the effects
of it, were the prompting motives for the formation of
the Syndicate.

Without hesitation, the Syndicate determined that
the war in which it was about to engage should be one
of defence by means of offence. Such a war must
necessarily be quick and effective; and with all the
force of their fortunes, their minds, and their bodies,
its members went to work to wage this war quickly and

All known inventions and improvements in the art of
war had been thoroughly considered by the Syndicate,
and by the eminent specialists whom it had enlisted in
its service. Certain recently perfected engines of
war, novel in nature, were the exclusive property of
the Syndicate. It was known, or surmised, in certain
quarters that the Syndicate had secured possession of
important warlike inventions; but what they were
and how they acted was a secret carefully guarded and

The first step of the Syndicate was to purchase
from the United States Government ten war-vessels.
These were of medium size and in good condition, but
they were of an old-fashioned type, and it had not been
considered expedient to put them in commission. This
action caused surprise and disappointment in many
quarters. It had been supposed that the Syndicate,
through its agents scattered all over the world, would
immediately acquire, by purchase or lease, a fleet of
fine ironclads culled from various maritime powers.
But the Syndicate having no intention of involving, or
attempting to involve, other countries in this quarrel,
paid no attention to public opinion, and went to work
in its own way.

Its vessels, eight of which were on the Atlantic
coast and two on the Pacific, were rapidly prepared for
the peculiar service in which they were to be engaged.
The resources of the Syndicate were great, and in a
very short time several of their vessels, already
heavily plated with steel, were furnished with an
additional outside armour, formed of strips of elastic
steel, each reaching from the gunwales nearly to
the surface of the water. These strips, about a foot
wide, and placed an inch or two apart, were each backed
by several powerful air-buffers, so that a ball
striking one or more of them would be deprived of much of its
momentum. The experiments upon the steel spring and
buffers adopted by the Syndicate showed that the force
of the heaviest cannonading was almost deadened by the
powerful elasticity of this armour.

The armament of each vessel consisted of but one
gun, of large calibre, placed on the forward deck, and
protected by a bomb-proof covering. Each vessel was
manned by a captain and crew from the merchant service,
from whom no warlike duties were expected. The
fighting operations were in charge of a small body of
men, composed of two or three scientific specialists,
and some practical gunners and their assistants. A few
bomb-proof canopies and a curved steel deck completed
the defences of the vessel.

Besides equipping this little navy, the Syndicate
set about the construction of certain sea-going vessels
of an extraordinary kind. So great were the facilities
at its command, and so thorough and complete its
methods, that ten or a dozen ship-yards and foundries
were set to work simultaneously to build one of these
ships. In a marvellously short time the Syndicate
possessed several of them ready for action.

These vessels became technically known as "crabs."
They were not large, and the only part of them which
projected above the water was the middle of an
elliptical deck, slightly convex, and heavily mailed
with ribs of steel. These vessels were fitted with
electric engines of extraordinary power, and were
capable of great speed. At their bows, fully protected
by the overhanging deck, was the machinery by which
their peculiar work was to be accomplished. The
Syndicate intended to confine itself to marine
operations, and for the present it was contented with
these two classes of vessels.

The armament for each of the large vessels, as has
been said before, consisted of a single gun of long
range, and the ammunition was confined entirely to a
new style of projectile, which had never yet been used
in warfare. The material and construction of this
projectile were known only to three members of the
Syndicate, who had invented and perfected it, and it
was on account of their possession of this secret
that they had been invited to join that body.

This projectile was not, in the ordinary sense of
the word, an explosive, and was named by its inventors,
"The Instantaneous Motor." It was discharged from an
ordinary cannon, but no gunpowder or other explosive
compound was used to propel it. The bomb possessed, in
itself the necessary power of propulsion, and the gun
was used merely to give it the proper direction.

These bombs were cylindrical in form, and pointed
at the outer end. They were filled with hundreds of
small tubes, each radiating outward from a central
line. Those in the middle third of the bomb pointed
directly outward, while those in its front portion were
inclined forward at a slight angle, and those in the
rear portion backward at the same angle. One tube at
the end of the bomb, and pointing directly backward,
furnished the motive power.

Each of these tubes could exert a force sufficient
to move an ordinary train of passenger cars one mile,
and this power could be exerted instantaneously, so
that the difference in time in the starting of a train
at one end of the mile and its arrival at the other
would not be appreciable. The difference in
concussionary force between a train moving at the rate
of a mile in two minutes, or even one minute, and
another train which moves a mile in an instant, can
easily be imagined.

In these bombs, those tubes which might direct
their powers downward or laterally upon the earth were
capable of instantaneously propelling every portion of
solid ground or rock to a distance of two or three
hundred yards, while the particles of objects on the
surface of the earth were instantaneously removed to a
far greater distance. The tube which propelled the
bomb was of a force graduated according to
circumstances, and it would carry a bomb to as great a
distance as accurate observation for purposes of aim
could be made. Its force was brought into action
while in the cannon by means of electricity while the
same effect was produced in the other tubes by the
concussion of the steel head against the object aimed

What gave the tubes their power was the jealously
guarded secret.

The method of aiming was as novel as the bomb
itself. In this process nothing depended on the
eyesight of the gunner; the personal equation was
entirely eliminated. The gun was so mounted that its
direction was accurately indicated by graduated scales;
there was an instrument which was acted upon by the
dip, rise, or roll of the vessel, and which showed at
any moment the position of the gun with reference to
the plane of the sea-surface.

Before the discharge of the cannon an observation
was taken by one of the scientific men, which
accurately determined the distance to the object to be
aimed at, and reference to a carefully prepared
mathematical table showed to what points on the
graduated scales the gun should be adjusted, and the
instant that the that the muzzle of the cannon was in
the position that it was when the observation was
taken, a button was touched and the bomb was
instantaneously placed on the spot aimed at. The
exactness with which the propelling force of the bomb
could be determined was an important factor in this
method of aiming.

As soon as three of the spring-armoured vessels and
five "crabs" were completed, the Syndicate felt itself
ready to begin operations. It was indeed time. The
seas had been covered with American and British
merchantmen hastening homeward, or to friendly
ports, before the actual commencement of hostilities.
But all had not been fortunate enough to reach safety
within the limits of time allowed, and several American
merchantmen had been already captured by fast British

The members of the Syndicate well understood that
if a war was to be carried on as they desired, they
must strike the first real blow. Comparatively
speaking, a very short time had elapsed since the
declaration of war, and the opportunity to take the
initiative was still open.

It was in order to take this initiative that, in
the early hours of a July morning, two of the
Syndicate's armoured vessels, each accompanied by a
crab, steamed out of a New England port, and headed for
the point on the Canadian coast where it had been
decided to open the campaign.

The vessels of the Syndicate had no individual
names. The spring-armoured ships were termed
"repellers," and were numbered, and the crabs were
known by the letters of the alphabet. Each repeller
was in charge of a Director of Naval Operations; and
the whole naval force of the Syndicate was under the
command of a Director-in-chief. On this momentous
occasion this officer was on board of Repeller No. 1,
and commanded the little fleet.

The repellers had never been vessels of great
speed, and their present armour of steel strips, the
lower portion of which was frequently under water,
considerably retarded their progress; but each of them
was taken in tow by one of the swift and powerful
crabs, and with this assistance they made very good
time, reaching their destination on the morning of the
second day.

It was on a breezy day, with a cloudy sky, and the
sea moderately smooth, that the little fleet of the
Syndicate lay to off the harbour of one of the
principal Canadian seaports. About five miles away the
headlands on either side of the mouth of the harbour
could be plainly seen. It had been decided that
Repeller No. 1 should begin operations. Accordingly,
that vessel steamed about a mile nearer the harbour,
accompanied by Crab A. The other repeller and crab
remained in their first position, ready to act in case
they should be needed.

The approach of two vessels, evidently men-of-war,
and carrying the American flag, was perceived from the
forts and redoubts at the mouth of the harbour,
and the news quickly spread to the city and to the
vessels in port. Intense excitement ensued on land and
water, among the citizens of the place as well as its
defenders. Every man who had a post of duty was
instantly at it; and in less than half an hour the
British man-of-war Scarabaeus, which had been lying
at anchor a short distance outside the harbour, came
steaming out to meet the enemy. There were other naval
vessels in port, but they required more time to be put
in readiness for action.

As soon as the approach of Scarabaeus was
perceived by Repeller No. 1, a boat bearing a white
flag was lowered from that vessel and was rapidly rowed
toward the British ship. When the latter saw the boat
coming she lay to, and waited its arrival. A note was
delivered to the captain of the Scarabaeus, in which
it was stated that the Syndicate, which had undertaken
on the part of the United States the conduct of the war
between that country and Great Britain, was now
prepared to demand the surrender of this city with its
forts and defences and all vessels within its harbour,
and, as a first step, the immediate surrender of the
vessel to the commander of which this note was delivered.

The overwhelming effrontery of this demand caused
the commander of the Scarabaeus to doubt whether he
had to deal with a raving lunatic or a blustering fool;
but he informed the person in charge of the flag-of-
truce boat, that he would give him fifteen minutes in
which to get back to his vessel, and that he would then
open fire upon that craft.

The men who rowed the little boat were not men-of-
war's men, and were unaccustomed to duties of this
kind. In eight minutes they had reached their vessel,
and were safe on board.

Just seven minutes afterward the first shot came
from the Scarabaeus. It passed over Repeller No. 1,
and that vessel, instead of replying, immediately
steamed nearer her adversary. The Director-in-chief
desired to determine the effect of an active cannonade
upon the new armour, and therefore ordered the vessel
placed in such a position that the Englishman might
have the best opportunity for using it as a target.

The Scarabaeus lost no time in availing herself
of the facilities offered. She was a large and
powerful ship, with a heavy armament; and, soon getting
the range of the Syndicate's vessel, she hurled ball
after ball upon her striped side. Repeller No. 1 made
no reply, but quietly submitted to the terrible
bombardment. Some of the great shot jarred her from
bow to stern, but not one of them broke a steel spring,
nor penetrated the heavy inside plates.

After half an hour of this, work the Director-in-
chief became satisfied that the new armour had well
acquitted itself in the severe trial to which it had
been subjected. Some of the air-buffers had been
disabled, probably on account of faults in their
construction, but these could readily be replaced, and
no further injury had been done the vessel. It was not
necessary, therefore, to continue the experiment any
longer, and besides, there was danger that the
Englishman, perceiving that his antagonist did not
appear to be affected by his fire, would approach
closer and endeavour to ram her. This was to be
avoided, for the Scarabaeus was a much larger vessel
than Repeller No. 1, and able to run into the latter
and sink her by mere preponderance of weight.

It was therefore decided to now test the powers of
the crabs. Signals were made from Repeller No. 1 to
Crab A, which had been lying with the larger vessel between it
and the enemy. These signals were made by jets of
dense black smoke, which were ejected from a small pipe
on the repeller. These slender columns of smoke
preserved their cylindrical forms for some moments, and
were visible at a great distance by day or night, being
illumined in the latter case by electric light. The
length and frequency of these jets were regulated by an
instrument in the Director's room. Thus, by means of
long and short puffs, with the proper use of intervals,
a message could be projected into the air as a
telegraphic instrument would mark it upon paper.

In this manner Crab A was ordered to immediately
proceed to the attack of the Scarabaeus. The almost
submerged vessel steamed rapidly from behind her
consort, and made for the British man-of-war.

When the latter vessel perceived the approach of
this turtle-backed object, squirting little jets of
black smoke as she replied to the orders from the
repeller, there was great amazement on board. The crab
had not been seen before, but as it came rapidly on
there was no time for curiosity or discussion, and
several heavy guns were brought to bear upon it. It
was difficult to hit a rapidly moving flat object
scarcely above the surface of the water; and although
several shot struck the crab, they glanced off
without in the least interfering with its progress.

Crab A soon came so near the Scarabaeus that it
was impossible to depress the guns of the latter so as
to strike her. The great vessel was, therefore, headed
toward its assailant, and under a full head of steam
dashed directly at it to run it down. But the crab
could turn as upon a pivot, and shooting to one side
allowed the surging man-of-war to pass it.

Perceiving instantly that it would be difficult to
strike this nimble and almost submerged adversary, the
commander of the Scarabaeus thought it well to let it
alone for the present, and to bear down with all speed
upon the repeller. But it was easier to hit the crab
than to leave it behind. It was capable of great
speed, and, following the British vessel, it quickly
came up with her.

The course of the Scarabaeus was instantly
changed, and every effort was made to get the vessel
into a position to run down the crab. But this was not
easy for so large a ship, and Crab A seemed to have no
difficulty in keeping close to her stern.

Several machine-guns, especially adopted for
firing at torpedo-boats or any hostile craft which
might be discovered close to a vessel, were now brought
to bear upon the crab, and ball after ball was hurled
at her. Some of these struck, but glanced off without
penetrating her tough armour.

These manoeuvres had not continued long, when the
crew of the crab was ready to bring into action the
peculiar apparatus of that peculiar craft. An enormous
pair of iron forceps, each massive limb of which
measured twelve feet or more in length, was run out in
front of the crab at a depth of six or eight feet
below the surface. These forceps were acted upon by an
electric engine of immense power, by which they could
be shut, opened, projected, withdrawn, or turned and

The crab darted forward, and in the next instant
the great teeth of her pincers were fastened with a
tremendous grip upon the rudder and rudder-post of the

Then followed a sudden twist, which sent a thrill
through both vessels; a crash; a backward jerk; the
snapping of a chain; and in a moment the great rudder,
with half of the rudder-post attached, was torn from
the vessel, and as the forceps opened it dropped to
leeward and hung dangling by one chain.

Again the forceps opened wide; again there was a
rush; and this time the huge jaws closed upon the
rapidly revolving screw-propeller. There was a
tremendous crash, and the small but massive crab turned
over so far that for an instant one of its sides was
plainly visible above the water. The blades of the
propeller were crushed and shivered; those parts of the
steamer's engines connecting with the propeller-shaft
were snapped and rent apart, while the propeller-
shaft itself was broken by the violent stoppage.

The crab, which had quickly righted, now backed,
still holding the crushed propeller in its iron grasp,
and as it moved away from the Scarabaeus, it
extracted about forty feet of its propeller-shaft;
then, opening its massive jaws, it allowed the useless
mass of iron to drop to the bottom of the sea.

Every man on board the Scarabaeus was wild with
amazement and excitement. Few could comprehend what
had happened, but this very quickly became evident. So
far as motive power was concerned, the Scarabaeus was
totally, disabled. She could not direct her course,
for her rudder was gone, her propeller was gone, her
engines were useless, and she could do no more than
float as wind or tide might move her. Moreover, there
was a jagged hole in her stern where the shaft had
been, and through this the water was pouring into the
vessel. As a man-of-war the Scarabaeus was worthless.

Orders now came fast from Repeller No. 1, which had
moved nearer to the scene of conflict. It was to be
supposed that the disabled ship was properly furnished
with bulk-heads, so that the water would penetrate
no farther than the stern compartment, and that,
therefore, she was in no danger of sinking. Crab A was
ordered to make fast to the bow of the Scarabaeus,
and tow her toward two men-of-war who were rapidly
approaching from the harbour.

This proceeding astonished the commander and
officers of the Scarabaeus almost as much as the
extraordinary attack which had been made upon their
ship. They had expected a demand to surrender and haul
down their flag; but the Director-in-chief on board
Repeller No. 1 was of the opinion that with her
propeller extracted it mattered little what flag she
flew. His work with the Scarabaeus was over; for it
had been ordered by the Syndicate that its vessels
should not encumber themselves with prizes.

Towed by the powerful crab, which apparently had no
fear that its disabled adversary might fire upon it,
the Scarabaeus moved toward the harbour, and when it
had come within a quarter of a mile of the foremost
British vessel, Crab A cast off and steamed back to
Repeller No. 1.

The other English vessels soon came up, and
each lay to and sent a boat to the Scarabaeus. After
half an hour's consultation, in which the amazement of
those on board the damaged vessel was communicated to
the officers and crews of her two consorts, it was
determined that the smaller of these should tow the
disabled ship into port, while the other one, in
company with a man-of-war just coming out of the
harbour, should make an attack upon Repeller No. 1.

It had been plainly proved that ordinary shot and
shell had no effect upon this craft; but it had not
been proved that she could withstand the rams of
powerful ironclads. If this vessel, that apparently
carried no guns, or, at least, had used none, could be
crushed, capsized, sunk, or in any way put out of the
fight, it was probable that the dangerous submerged
nautical machine would not care to remain in these
waters. If it remained it must be destroyed by torpedoes.

Signals were exchanged between the two English
vessels, and in a very short time they were steaming
toward the repeller. It was a dangerous thing for two
vessels of their size to come close enough together for
both to ram an enemy at the same time, but it was
determined to take the risks and do this, if possible;
for the destruction of the repeller was obviously the
first duty in hand.

As the two men-of-war rapidly approached Repeller
No. 1, they kept up a steady fire upon her; for if in
this way they could damage her, the easier would be
their task. With a firm reliance upon the efficacy of
the steel-spring armour, the Director-in-chief felt no
fear of the enemy's shot and shell; but he was not at
all willing that his vessel should be rammed, for the
consequences would probably be disastrous. Accordingly
he did not wait for the approach of the two vessels,
but steering seaward, he signalled for the other crab.

When Crab B made its appearance, puffing its little
black jets of smoke, as it answered the signals of the
Director-in-chief, the commanders of the two British
vessels were surprised. They had imagined that there
was only one of these strange and terrible enemies, and
had supposed that she would be afraid to make her
peculiar attack upon one of them, because while doing
so she would expose herself to the danger of being run
down by the other. But the presence of two of these
almost submerged engines of destruction entirely
changed the situation.

But the commanders of the British ships were brave
men. They had started to run down the strangely
armoured American craft, and run her down they would,
if they could. They put on more steam, and went ahead
at greater speed. In such a furious onslaught the
crabs might not dare to attack them.

But they did not understand the nature nor the
powers of these enemies. In less than twenty minutes
Crab A had laid hold of one of the men-of-war, and Crab
B of the other. The rudders of both were shattered and
torn away; and while the blades of one propeller were
crushed to pieces, the other, with nearly half its
shaft, was drawn out and dropped into the ocean.
Helplessly the two men-of-war rose and fell upon the

In obedience to orders from the repeller, each crab
took hold of one of the disabled vessels, and towed it
near the mouth of the harbour, where it was left.

The city was now in a state of feverish excitement,
which was intensified by the fact that a majority of
the people did not understand what had happened, while
those to whom this had been made plain could not
comprehend why such a thing should have been allowed to
happen. Three of Her Majesty's ships of war, equipped
and ready for action, had sailed out of the harbour,
and an apparently insignificant enemy, without firing a
gun, had put them into such a condition that they were
utterly unfit for service, and must be towed into a dry
dock. How could the Government, the municipality, the
army, or the navy explain this?

The anxiety, the excitement, the nervous desire to
know what had happened, and what might be expected
next, spread that evening to every part of the Dominion
reached by telegraph.

The military authorities in charge of the defences
of the city were as much disturbed and amazed by what
had happened as any civilian could possibly be, but
they had no fears for the safety of the place, for the
enemy's vessels could not possibly enter, nor even
approach, the harbour. The fortifications on the
heights mounted guns much heavier than those on the
men-of-war, and shots from these fired from an
elevation might sink even those "underwater devils."
But, more than on the forts, they relied upon their
admirable system of torpedoes and submarine batteries.
With these in position and ready for action, as they
now were, it was impossible for an enemy's vessel,
floating on the water or under it, to enter the harbour
without certain destruction.

Bulletins to this effect were posted in the city,
and somewhat allayed the popular anxiety, although many
people, who were fearful of what might happen next,
left by the evening trains for the interior. That
night the news of this extraordinary affair was cabled
to Europe, and thence back to the United States, and
all over the world. In many quarters the account was
disbelieved, and in no quarter was it thoroughly
understood, for it must be borne in mind that the
methods of operation employed by the crabs were not
evident to those on board the disabled vessels. But
everywhere there was the greatest desire to know what
would be done next.

It was the general opinion that the two armoured
vessels were merely tenders to the submerged machines
which had done the mischief. Having fired no guns, nor
taken any active part in the combat, there was every
reason to believe that they were intended merely as
bomb-proof store-ships for their formidable consorts.
As these submerged vessels could not attack a town, nor
reduce fortifications, but could exercise their power
only against vessels afloat, it was plain enough to see
that the object of the American Syndicate was to
blockade the port. That they would be able to maintain
the blockade when the full power of the British navy
should be brought to bear upon them was generally
doubted, though it was conceded in the most wrathful
circles that, until the situation should be altered, it
would be unwise to risk valuable war vessels in
encounters with the diabolical sea-monsters now lying
off the port.

In the New York office of the Syndicate there was
great satisfaction. The news received was incorrect
and imperfect, but it was evident that, so far,
everything had gone well.

About nine o'clock the next morning, Repeller No.
1, with her consort half a mile astern, and preceded by
the two crabs, one on either bow, approached to within
two miles of the harbour mouth. The crabs, a quarter
of a mile ahead of the repeller, moved slowly; for
between them they bore an immense net, three or
four hundred feet long, and thirty feet deep, composed
of jointed steel rods. Along the upper edge of this
net was a series of air-floats, which were so graduated that they
were sunk by the weight of the net a few feet below the
surface of the water, from which position they held the
net suspended vertically.

This net, which was intended to protect the
repeller against the approach of submarine torpedoes,
which might be directed from the shore, was anchored at
each end, two very small buoys indicating its position.
The crabs then falling astern, Repeller No. 1 lay to,
with the sunken net between her and the shore, and
prepared to project the first instantaneous motor-bomb
ever used in warfare.

The great gun in the bow of the vessel was loaded
with one of the largest and most powerful motor-bombs,
and the spot to be aimed at was selected. This was a
point in the water just inside of the mouth of the
harbour, and nearly a mile from the land on either
side. The distance of this point from the vessel being
calculated, the cannon was adjusted at the angle called
for by the scale of distances and levels, and the
instrument indicating rise, fall, and direction was
then put in connection with it.

Now the Director-in-chief stepped forward to the
button, by pressing which the power of the motor was
developed. The chief of the scientific corps then
showed him the exact point upon the scale which would
be indicated when the gun was in its proper position,
and the piece was then moved upon its bearings so
as to approximate as nearly as possible this direction.

The bow of the vessel now rose upon the swell of
the sea, and the instant that the index upon the scale
reached the desired point, the Director-in-chief
touched the button.

There was no report, no smoke, no visible sign that
the motor had left the cannon; but at that instant
there appeared, to those who were on the lookout, from
a fort about a mile away, a vast aperture in the waters
of the bay, which was variously described as from one
hundred yards to five hundred yards in diameter. At
that same instant, in the neighbouring headlands and
islands far up the shores of the bay, and in every
street and building of the city, there was felt a sharp
shock, as if the underlying rocks had been struck by a
gigantic trip-hammer.

At the same instant the sky above the spot where
the motor had descended was darkened by a wide-
spreading cloud. This was formed of that portion of
the water of the bay which had been instantaneously
raised to the height of about a thousand feet. The
sudden appearance of this cloud was even more terrible
than the yawning chasm in the waters of the bay or
the startling shock; but it did not remain long in
view. It had no sooner reached its highest elevation
than it began to descend. There was a strong sea-
breeze blowing, and in its descent this vast mass of
water was impelled toward the land.

It came down, not as rain, but as the waters of a
vast cataract, as though a mountain lake, by an
earthquake shock, had been precipitated in a body upon
a valley. Only one edge of it reached the land, and
here the seething flood tore away earth, trees, and
rocks, leaving behind it great chasms and gullies as it
descended to the sea.

The bay itself, into which the vast body of the
water fell, became a scene of surging madness. The
towering walls of water which had stood up all around
the suddenly created aperture hurled themselves back
into the abyss, and down into the great chasm at the
bottom of the bay, which had been made when the motor
sent its shock along the great rock beds. Down upon,
and into, this roaring, boiling tumult fell the
tremendous cataract from above, and the harbour became
one wild expanse of leaping maddened waves, hissing
their whirling spray high into the air.

During these few terrific moments other things
happened which passed unnoticed in the general
consternation. All along the shores of the bay and in
front of the city the waters seemed to be sucked away,
slowly returning as the sea forced them to their level,
and at many points up and down the harbour there were
submarine detonations and upheavals of the water.

These were caused by the explosion, by concussion,
of every torpedo and submarine battery in the harbour;
and it was with this object in view that the
instantaneous motor-bomb had been shot into the mouth
of the bay.

The effects of the discharge of the motor-bomb
astonished and even startled those on board the
repellers and the crabs. At the instant of touching
the button a hydraulic shock was felt on Repeller No.
1. This was supposed to be occasioned the discharge of
the motor, but it was also felt on the other vessels.
It was the same shock that had been felt on shore, but
less in degree. A few moments after there was a great
heaving swell of the sea, which tossed and rolled the
four vessels, and lifted the steel protecting net
so high that for an instant parts of it showed
themselves above the surface like glistening sea-ghosts.

Experiments with motor-bombs had been made in
unsettled mountainous districts, but this was the first
one which had ever exerted its power under water.

On shore, in the forts, and in the city no one for
an instant supposed that the terrific phenomenon which
had just occurred was in any way due to the vessels of
the Syndicate. The repellers were in plain view, and
it was evident that neither of them had fired a gun.
Besides, the firing of cannon did not produce such
effects. It was the general opinion that there had
been an earthquake shock, accompanied by a cloud-burst
and extraordinary convulsions of the sea. Such a
combination of elementary disturbances had never been
known in these parts; and a great many persons were
much more frightened than if they had understood what
had really happened.

In about half an hour after the discharge of the
motor-bomb, when the sea had resumed its usual quiet, a
boat carrying a white flag left Repeller No. 1, rowed
directly over the submerged net, and made for the
harbour. When the approach of this flag-of-truce was
perceived from the fort nearest the mouth of the
harbour, it occasioned much surmise. Had the
earthquake brought these Syndicate knaves to their
senses? Or were they about to make further absurd and
outrageous demands? Some irate officers were of the
opinion that enemies like these should be considered no
better than pirates, and that their flag-of-truce
should be fired upon. But the commandant of the fort
paid no attention to such counsels, and sent a
detachment with a white flag down to the beach to meet
the approaching boat and learn its errand.

The men in the boat had nothing to do but to
deliver a letter from the Director-in-chief to the
commandant of the fort, and then row back again. No
answer was required.

When the commandant read the brief note, he made no
remark. In fact, he could think of no appropriate
remark to make. The missive simply informed him that
at ten o'clock and eighteen minutes A. M., of that day,
the first bomb from the marine forces of the Syndicate
had been discharged into the waters of the harbour.
At, or about, two o'clock P.M., the second bomb would
be discharged at Fort Pilcher. That was all.

What this extraordinary message meant could not be
imagined by any officer of the garrison. If the people
on board the ships were taking advantage of the
earthquake, and supposed that they could induce British
soldiers to believe that it had been caused by one of
their bombs, then were they idiots indeed. They would
fire their second shot at Fort Pilcher! This was
impossible, for they had not yet fired their first
shot. These Syndicate people were evidently very
tricky, and the defenders of the port must therefore be
very cautious.

Fort Pilcher was a very large and unfinished
fortification, on a bluff on the opposite side of the
harbour. Work had been discontinued on it as soon as
the Syndicate's vessels had appeared off the port, for
it was not desired to expose the builders and workmen
to a possible bombardment. The place was now,
therefore, almost deserted; but after the receipt of
the Syndicate's message, the commandant feared that the
enemy might throw an ordinary shell into the
unfinished works, and he sent a boat across the bay to
order away any workmen or others who might be lingering
about the place.

A little after two o'clock P.M., an instantaneous
motor-bomb was discharged from Repeller No. 1 into Fort
Pilcher. It was set to act five seconds after impact
with the object aimed at. It struck in a central
portion of the unfinished fort, and having described a
high curve in the air, descended not only with its own
motive power, but with the force of gravitation, and
penetrated deep into the earth.

Five seconds later a vast brown cloud appeared on
the Fort Pilcher promontory. This cloud was nearly
spherical in form, with an apparent diameter of about a
thousand yards. At the same instant a shock similar to
that accompanying the first motor-bomb was felt in the
city and surrounding country; but this was not so
severe as the other, for the second bomb did not exert
its force upon the underlying rocks of the region as
the first one had done.

The great brown cloud quickly began to lose its
spherical form, part of it descending heavily to the
earth, and part floating away in vast dust-clouds borne
inland by the breeze, settling downward as they moved, and
depositing on land, water, ships, houses, domes, and
trees an almost impalpable powder.

When the cloud had cleared away there were no
fortifications, and the bluff on which they had stood
had disappeared. Part of this bluff had floated away
on the wind, and part of it lay piled in great heaps of
sand on the spot where its rocks were to have upheld a

The effect of the motor-bomb was fully observed
with glasses from the various fortifications of the
port, and from many points of the city and harbour; and
those familiar with the effects of explosives were not
long in making up their minds what had happened. They
felt sure that a mine had been sprung beneath Fort
Pilcher; and they were now equally confident that in
the morning a torpedo of novel and terrible power had
been exploded in the harbour. They now disbelieved in
the earthquake, and treated with contempt the pretence
that shots had been fired from the Syndicate's vessel.
This was merely a trick of the enemy. It was not even
likely that the mine or the torpedo had been
operated from the ship. These were, in all
probability, under the control of confederates on
shore, and had been exploded at times agreed upon
beforehand. All this was perfectly plain to the
military authorities.

But the people of the city derived no comfort from
the announcement of these conclusions. For all that
anybody knew the whole city might be undermined, and at
any moment might ascend in a cloud of minute particles.
They felt that they were in a region of hidden traitors
and bombs, and in consequence of this belief thousands
of citizens left their homes.

That afternoon a truce-boat again went out from
Repeller No. 1, and rowed to the fort, where a letter
to the commandant was delivered. This, like the other,
demanded no answer, and the boat returned. Later in
the afternoon the two repellers, accompanied by the
crabs, and leaving the steel net still anchored in its
place, retired a few miles seaward, where they prepared
to lay to for the night.

The letter brought by the truce-boat was read by
the commandant, surrounded by his officers. It stated
that in twenty-four hours from time of writing it,
which would be at or about four o'clock on the next
afternoon, a bomb would be thrown into the garrisoned
fort, under the command of the officer addressed. As
this would result in the entire destruction of the
fortification, the commandant was earnestly counselled
to evacuate the fort before the hour specified.

Ordinarily the commandant of the fort was of a calm
and unexcitable temperament. During the astounding
events of that day and the day before he had kept his
head cool; his judgment, if not correct, was the result
of sober and earnest consideration. But now he lost
his temper. The unparalleled effrontery and impertinence
of this demand of the American Syndicate was too much for
his self-possession. He stormed in anger.

Here was the culmination of the knavish trickery of
these conscienceless pirates who had attacked the port.
A torpedo had been exploded in the harbour, an
unfinished fort had been mined and blown up, and all
this had been done to frighten him--a British soldier--
in command of a strong fort well garrisoned and fully
supplied with all the munitions of war. In the fear
that his fort would be destroyed by a mystical
bomb, he was expected to march to a place of safety
with all his forces. If this should be done it would
not be long before these crafty fellows would occupy
the fort, and with its great guns turned inland, would
hold the city at their mercy. There could be no
greater insult to a soldier than to suppose that he
could be gulled by a trick like this.

No thought of actual danger entered the mind of the
commandant. It had been easy enough to sink a great
torpedo in the harbour, and the unguarded bluffs of
Fort Pilcher offered every opportunity to the
scoundrels who may have worked at their mines through
the nights of several months. But a mine under the
fort which he commanded was an impossibility; its
guarded outposts prevented any such method of attack.
At a bomb, or a dozen, or a hundred of the Syndicate's
bombs he snapped his fingers. He could throw bombs as

Nothing would please him better than that those
ark-like ships in the offing should come near enough
for an artillery fight. A few tons of solid shot and
shell dropped on top of them might be a very
conclusive answer to their impudent demands.

The letter from the Syndicate, together with his
own convictions on the subject, were communicated by
the commandant to the military authorities of the port,
and to the War Office of the Dominion. The news of
what had happened that day had already been cabled
across the Atlantic back to the United States, and all
over the world; and the profound impression created by
it was intensified when it became known what the
Syndicate proposed to do the next day. Orders and
advices from the British Admiralty and War Office sped
across the ocean, and that night few of the leaders in
government circles in England or Canada closed their

The opinions of the commandant of the fort were
received with but little favour by the military and
naval authorities. Great preparations were already
ordered to repel and crush this most audacious attack
upon the port, but in the mean time it was highly
desirable that the utmost caution and prudence should
be observed. Three men-of-war had already been
disabled by the novel and destructive machines of the
enemy, and it had been ordered that for the present
no more vessels of the British navy be allowed to
approach the crabs of the Syndicate.

Whether it was a mine or a bomb which had been used
in the destruction of the unfinished works of Fort
Pilcher, it would be impossible to determine until an
official survey had been made of the ruins; but, in any
event, it would be wise and humane not to expose the
garrison of the fort on the south side of the harbour
to the danger which had overtaken the works on the
opposite shore. If, contrary to the opinion of the
commandant, the garrisoned fort were really mined, the
following day would probably prove the fact. Until
this point should be determined it would be highly
judicious to temporarily evacuate the fort. This could
not be followed by occupation of the works by the
enemy, for all approaches, either by troops in boats or
by bodies of confederates by land, could be fully
covered by the inland redoubts and fortifications.

When the orders for evacuation reached the
commandant of the fort, he protested hotly, and urged
that his protest be considered. It was not until the
command had been reiterated both from London and
Ottawa, that he accepted the situation, and with
bowed head prepared to leave his post. All night
preparations for evacuation went on, and during the
next morning the garrison left the fort, and
established itself far enough away to preclude danger
from the explosion of a mine, but near enough to be
available in case of necessity.

During this morning there arrived in the offing
another Syndicate vessel. This had started from a
northern part of the United States, before the
repellers and the crabs, and it had been engaged in
laying a private submarine cable, which should put the
office of the Syndicate in New York in direct
communication with its naval forces engaged with the
enemy. Telegraphic connection between the cable boat
and Repeller No. 1 having been established, the
Syndicate soon received from its Director-in-chief full
and comprehensive accounts of what had been done and
what it was proposed to do. Great was the satisfaction
among the members of the Syndicate when these direct
and official reports came in. Up to this time they had
been obliged to depend upon very unsatisfactory
intelligence communicated from Europe, which had been
supplemented by wild statements and rumours
smuggled across the Canadian border.

To counteract the effect of these, a full report
was immediately made by the Syndicate to the Government
of the United States, and a bulletin distinctly
describing what had happened was issued to the people
of the country. These reports, which received a world-
wide circulation in the newspapers, created a popular
elation in the United States, and gave rise to serious
apprehensions and concern in many other countries. But
under both elation and concern there was a certain
doubtfulness. So far the Syndicate had been
successful; but its style of warfare was decidedly
experimental, and its forces, in numerical strength at
least, were weak. What would happen when the great
naval power of Great Britain should be brought to bear
upon the Syndicate, was a question whose probable
answer was likely to cause apprehension and concern in
the United States, and elation in many other countries.

The commencement of active hostilities had been
precipitated by this Syndicate. In England
preparations were making by day an by night to send
upon the coast-lines of the United States a fleet
which, in numbers and power, would be greater than that
of any naval expedition in the history of the world.
It is no wonder that many people of sober judgment in
America looked upon the affair of the crabs and the
repellers as but an incident in the beginning of a
great and disastrous war.

On the morning of the destruction of Fort Pilcher,
the Syndicate's vessels moved toward the port, and the
steel net was taken up by the two crabs, and moved
nearer the mouth of the harbour, at a point from which
the fort, now in process of evacuation, was in full
view. When this had been done, Repeller No. 2 took up
her position at a moderate distance behind the net, and
the other vessels stationed themselves near by.

The protection of the net was considered necessary,
for although there could be no reasonable doubt that
all the torpedoes in the harbour and river had been
exploded, others might be sent out against the
Syndicate's vessels; and a torpedo under a crab or a
repeller was the enemy most feared by the Syndicate.

About three o'clock the signals between the
repellers became very frequent, and soon afterwards
a truce-boat went out from Repeller No. 1. This was
rowed with great rapidity, but it was obliged to go
much farther up the harbour than on previous occasions,
in order to deliver its message to an officer of the

This was to the effect that the evacuation of the
fort had been observed from the Syndicate's vessels,
and although it had been apparently complete, one of
the scientific corps, with a powerful glass, had
discovered a man in one of the outer redoubts, whose
presence there was probably unknown to the officers of
the garrison. It was, therefore, earnestly urged that
this man be instantly removed; and in order that this
might be done, the discharge of the motor-bomb would be
postponed half an hour.

The officer received this message, and was disposed
to look upon it as a new trick; but as no time was to
be lost, he sent a corporal's guard to the fort, and
there discovered an Irish sergeant by the name of
Kilsey, who had sworn an oath that if every other man
in the fort ran away like a lot of addle-pated sheep,
he would not run with them; he would stand to his post
to the last, and when the couple of ships outside
had got through bombarding the stout walls of the fort,
the world would see that there was at least one British
soldier who was not afraid of a bomb, be it little or big.
Therefore he had managed to elude observation, and to remain

The sergeant was so hot-headed in his determination
to stand by the fort, that it required violence to
remove him; and it was not until twenty minutes
past four that the Syndicate observers perceived that
he had been taken to the hill behind which the garrison
was encamped.

As it had been decided that Repeller No. 2 should
discharge the next instantaneous motor-bomb, there was
an anxious desire on the part of the operators on that
vessel that in this, their first experience, they might
do their duty as well as their comrades on board the
other repeller had done theirs. The most accurate
observations, the most careful calculations, were made
and re-made, the point to be aimed at being about the
centre of the fort.

The motor-bomb had been in the cannon for nearly an
hour, and everything had long been ready, when at
precisely thirty minutes past four o'clock the signal
to discharge came from the Director-in-chief; and in
four seconds afterwards the index on the scale
indicated that the gun was in the proper position, and
the button was touched.

The motor-bomb was set to act the instant it should
touch any portion of the fort, and the effect was
different from that of the other bombs. There was a
quick, hard shock, but it was all in the air. Thou-
sands of panes of glass in the city and in houses
for miles around were cracked or broken, birds fell
dead or stunned upon the ground, and people on
elevations at considerable distances felt as if they
had received a blow; but there was no trembling of the

As to the fort, it had entirely disappeared, its
particles having been instantaneously removed to a
great distance in every direction, falling over such a
vast expanse of land and water that their descent was

In the place where the fortress had stood there was
a wide tract of bare earth, which looked as if it had
been scraped into a staring dead level of gravel and
clay. The instantaneous motor-bomb had been arranged
to act almost horizontally.

Few persons, except those who from a distance had
been watching the fort with glasses, understood what
had happened; but every one in the city and surrounding
country was conscious that something had happened of a
most startling kind, and that it was over in the same
instant in which they had perceived it. Everywhere
there was the noise of falling window-glass. There were
those who asserted that for an instant they had
heard in the distance a grinding crash; and there were
others who were quite sure that they had noticed what
might be called a flash of darkness, as if something
had, with almost unappreciable quickness, passed
between them and the sun.

When the officers of the garrison mounted the hill
before them and surveyed the place where their fort had
been, there was not one of them who had sufficient
command of himself to write a report of what had
happened. They gazed at the bare, staring flatness of
the shorn bluff, and they looked at each other. This
was not war. It was something supernatural, awful!
They were not frightened; they were oppressed and
appalled. But the military discipline of their minds
soon exerted its force, and a brief account of the
terrific event was transmitted to the authorities, and
Sergeant Kilsey was sentenced to a month in the guard-

No one approached the vicinity of the bluff where
the fort had stood, for danger might not be over; but
every possible point of observation within a safe
distance was soon crowded with anxious and terrified
observers. A feeling of awe was noticeable
everywhere. If people could have had a tangible idea
of what had occurred, it would have been different. If
the sea had raged, if a vast body of water had been
thrown into the air, if a dense cloud had been suddenly
ejected from the surface of the earth, they might have
formed some opinion about it. But the instantaneous
disappearance of a great fortification with a little
more appreciable accompaniment than the sudden tap, as
of a little hammer, upon thousands of window-panes, was
something which their intellects could not grasp. It
was not to be expected that the ordinary mind could
appreciate the difference between the action of an
instantaneous motor when imbedded in rocks and earth,
and its effect, when opposed by nothing but stone
walls, upon or near the surface of the earth.

Early the next morning, the little fleet of the
Syndicate prepared to carry out its further orders.
The waters of the lower bay were now entirely deserted,
craft of every description having taken refuge in the
upper part of the harbour near and above the city.
Therefore, as soon as it was light enough to make
observations, Repeller No. 1 did not hesitate to
discharge a motor-bomb into the harbour, a mile or
more above where the first one had fallen. This was
done in order to explode any torpedoes which might have
been put into position since the discharge of the first

There were very few people in the city and suburbs
who were at that hour out of doors where they could see
the great cloud of water arise toward the sky, and
behold it descend like a mighty cataract upon the
harbour and adjacent shores; but the quick, sharp shock
which ran under the town made people spring from their
beds; and although nothing was then to be seen, nearly
everybody felt sure that the Syndicate's forces had
begun their day's work by exploding another mine.

A lighthouse, the occupants of which had been
ordered to leave when the fort was evacuated, as they
might be in danger in case of a bombardment, was so
shaken by the explosion of this motor-bomb that it fell
in ruins on the rocks upon which it had stood.

The two crabs now took the steel net from its
moorings and carried it up the harbour. This was
rather difficult on account of the islands, rocks, and
sand-bars; but the leading crab had on board a
pilot acquainted with those waters. With the net
hanging between them, the two submerged vessels, one
carefully following the other, reached a point about
two miles below the city, where the net was anchored
across the harbour. It did not reach from shore to
shore, but in the course of the morning two other nets,
designed for shallower waters, were brought from the
repellers and anchored at each end of the main net,
thus forming a line of complete protection against
submarine torpedoes which might be sent down from the
upper harbour.

Repeller No. 1 now steamed into the harbour,
accompanied by Crab A, and anchored about a quarter of
a mile seaward of the net. The other repeller, with
her attendant crab, cruised about the mouth of the
harbour, watching a smaller entrance to the port as
well as the larger one, and thus maintaining an
effective blockade. This was not a difficult duty, for
since the news of the extraordinary performances of the
crabs had been spread abroad, no merchant vessel, large
or small, cared to approach that port; and strict
orders had been issued by the British Admiralty that no
vessel of the navy should, until further
instructed, engage in combat with the peculiar
craft of the Syndicate. Until a plan of action had
been determined upon, it was very desirable that
English cruisers should not be exposed to useless
injury and danger.

This being the state of affairs, a message was sent
from the office of the Syndicate across the border to
the Dominion Government, which stated that the seaport
city which had been attacked by the forces of the
Syndicate now lay under the guns of its vessels, and in
case of any overt act of war by Great Britain or Canada
alone, such as the entrance of an armed force from
British territory into the United States, or a capture
of or attack upon an American vessel, naval or
commercial, by a British man-of-war, or an attack upon
an American port by British vessels, the city would be
bombarded and destroyed.

This message, which was, of course, instantly
transmitted to London, placed the British Government in
the apparent position of being held by the throat by
the American War Syndicate. But if the British
Government, or the people of England or Canada,
recognized this position at all, it was merely as a
temporary condition. In a short time the most
powerful men-of-war of the Royal Navy, as well as a
fleet of transports carrying troops, would reach the
coasts of North America, and then the condition of
affairs would rapidly be changed. It was absurd to
suppose that a few medium-sized vessels, however
heavily armoured, or a few new-fangled submarine
machines, however destructive they might be, could
withstand an armada of the largest and finest armoured
vessels in the world. A ship or two might be disabled,
although this was unlikely, now that the new method of
attack was understood; but it would soon be the ports
of the United States, on both the Pacific and Atlantic
coasts, which would lie under the guns of an enemy.

But it was not in the power of their navy that the
British Government and the people of England and Canada
placed their greatest trust, but in the incapacity of
their petty foe to support its ridiculous assumptions.
The claim that the city lay under the guns of the
American Syndicate was considered ridiculous, for few
people believed that these vessels had any guns.
Certainly, there had been no evidence that any shots
had been fired from them. In the opinion of
reasonable people the destruction of the forts and the
explosions in the harbour had been caused by mines--
mines of a new and terrifying power--which were the
work of traitors and confederates. The destruction of
the lighthouse had strengthened this belief, for its
fall was similar to that which would have been
occasioned by a great explosion under its foundation.

But however terrifying and appalling had been the
results of the explosion of these mines, it was not
thought probable that there were any more of them. The
explosions had taken place at exposed points distant
from the city, and the most careful investigation
failed to discover any present signs of mining

This theory of mines worked by confederates was
received throughout the civilized world, and was
universally condemned. Even in the United States the
feeling was so strong against this apparent alliance
between the Syndicate and British traitors, that there
was reason to believe that a popular pressure would be
brought to bear upon the Government sufficient to force
it to break its contract with the Syndicate, and to
carry on the war with the National army and navy.
The crab was considered an admirable addition to the
strength of the navy, but a mine under a fort, laid and
fired by perfidious confederates, was considered
unworthy an enlightened people.

The members of the Syndicate now found themselves
in an embarrassing and dangerous position--a position
in which they were placed by the universal incredulity
regarding the instantaneous motor; and unless they
could make the world believe that they really used such
a motor-bomb, the war could not be prosecuted on the
plan projected.

It was easy enough to convince the enemy of the
terrible destruction the Syndicate was able to effect;
but to make that enemy and the world understand that
this was done by bombs, which could be used in one
place as well as another, was difficult indeed. They
had attempted to prove this by announcing that at a
certain time a bomb should be projected into a certain
fort. Precisely at the specified time the fort had
been destroyed, but nobody believed that a bomb had
been fired.

Every opinion, official or popular, concerning what
it had done and what might be expected of it, was
promptly forwarded to the Syndicate by its agents, and
it was thus enabled to see very plainly indeed that the
effect it had desired to produce had not been produced.
Unless the enemy could be made to understand that any
fort or ships within ten miles of one of the
Syndicate's cannon could be instantaneously dissipated
in the shape of fine dust, this war could not be
carried on upon the principles adopted, and therefore
might as well pass out of the hands of the Syndicate.

Day by day and night by night the state of affairs
was anxiously considered at the office of the Syndicate
in New York. A new and important undertaking was
determined upon, and on the success of this the hopes
of the Syndicate now depended.

During the rapid and vigorous preparations which
the Syndicate were now making for their new venture,
several events of interest occurred.

Two of the largest Atlantic mail steamers, carrying
infantry and artillery troops, and conveyed by two
swift and powerful men-of-war, arrived off the coast of
Canada, considerably to the north of the blockaded
city. The departure and probable time of arrival of
these vessels had been telegraphed to the
Syndicate, through one of the continental cables, and a
repeller with two crabs had been for some days waiting
for them. The English vessels had taken a high
northern course, hoping they might enter the Gulf of
St. Lawrence without subjecting themselves to injury
from the enemy's crabs, it not being considered
probable that there were enough of these vessels to
patrol the entire coast. But although the crabs were
few in number, the Syndicate was able to place them
where they would be of most use; and when the English
vessels arrived off the northern entrance to the gulf,
they found their enemies there.

However strong might be the incredulity of the
enemy regarding the powers of a repeller to bombard a
city, the Syndicate felt sure there would be no present
invasion of the United States from Canada; but it
wished to convince the British Government that troops
and munitions of war could not be safely transported
across the Atlantic. On the other hand, the Syndicate
very much objected to undertaking the imprisonment and
sustenance of a large body of soldiers. Orders were
therefore given to the officer in charge of the
repeller not to molest the two transports, but to
remove the rudders and extract the screws of the two
war-vessels, leaving them to be towed into port by the

This duty was performed by the crabs, while the
British vessels, both rams, were preparing to make a
united and vigorous onset on the repeller, and the two
men-of-war were left hopelessly tossing on the waves.
One of the transports, a very fast steamer, had already
entered the straits, and could not be signalled; but
the other one returned and took both the war-ships in
tow, proceeding very slowly until, after entering the
gulf, she was relieved by tugboats.

Another event of a somewhat different character was
the occasion of much excited feeling and comment,
particularly in the United States. The descent and
attack by British vessels on an Atlantic port was a
matter of popular expectation. The Syndicate had
repellers and crabs at the most important points; but,
in the minds of naval officers and a large portion of
the people, little dependence for defence was to be
placed upon these. As to the ability of the War
Syndicate to prevent invasion or attack by means of
its threats to bombard the blockaded Canadian port,
very few believed in it. Even if the Syndicate could
do any more damage in that quarter, which was
improbable, what was to prevent the British navy from
playing the same game, and entering an American
seaport, threaten to bombard the place if the Syndicate
did not immediately run all their queer vessels high
and dry on some convenient beach?

A feeling of indignation against the Syndicate had
existed in the navy from the time that the war contract
had been made, and this feeling increased daily. That
the officers and men of the United States navy should
be penned up in harbours, ports, and sounds, while
British ships and the hulking mine-springers and
rudder-pinchers of the Syndicate were allowed to roam
the ocean at will, was a very hard thing for brave
sailors to bear. Sometimes the resentment against this
state of affairs rose almost to revolt.

The great naval preparations of England were not
yet complete, but single British men-of-war were now
frequently seen off the Atlantic coast of the United
States. No American vessels had been captured by
these since the message of the Syndicate to the
Dominion of Canada and the British Government. But one
good reason for this was the fact that it was very
difficult now to find upon the Atlantic ocean a vessel
sailing under the American flag. As far as possible
these had taken refuge in their own ports or in those
of neutral countries.

At the mouth of Delaware Bay, behind the great
Breakwater, was now collected a number of coastwise
sailing-vessels and steamers of various classes and
sizes; and for the protection of these maritime
refugees, two vessels of the United States navy were
stationed at this point. These were the Lenox and
Stockbridge, two of the finest cruisers in the
service, and commanded by two of the most restless and
bravest officers of the American navy.

The appearance, early on a summer morning, of a
large British cruiser off the mouth of the harbour,
filled those two commanders with uncontrollable
belligerency. That in time of war a vessel of the
enemy should be allowed, undisturbed, to sail up and
down before an American harbour, while an American
vessel filled with brave American sailors lay inside
like a cowed dog, was a thought which goaded the
soul of each of these commanders. There was a certain
rivalry between the two ships; and, considering the
insult offered by the flaunting red cross in the
offing, and the humiliating restrictions imposed by the
Naval Department, each commander thought only of his
own ship, and not at all of the other.

It was almost at the same time that the commanders
of the two ships separately came to the conclusion that
the proper way to protect the fleet behind the
Breakwater was for his vessel to boldly steam out to
sea and attack the British cruiser. If this vessel
carried a long-range gun, what was to hinder her from
suddenly running in closer and sending a few shells
into the midst of the defenceless merchantmen? In
fact, to go out and fight her was the only way to
protect the lives and property in the harbour.

It was true that one of those beastly repellers was
sneaking about off the cape, accompanied, probably, by
an underwater tongs-boat. But as neither of these had
done anything, or seemed likely to do anything, the
British cruiser should be attacked without loss of

When the commander of the Lenox came to this
decision, his ship was well abreast of Cape Henlopen,
and he therefore proceeded directly out to sea. There
was a little fear in his mind that the English cruiser,
which was now bearing to the south-east, might sail off
and get away from him. The Stockbridge was detained
by the arrival of a despatch boat from the shore with a
message from the Naval Department. But as this message
related only to the measurements of a certain deck gun,
her commander intended, as soon as an answer could be
sent off, to sail out and give battle to the British

Every soul on board the Lenox was now filled with
fiery ardour. The ship was already in good fighting
trim, but every possible preparation was made for a
contest which should show their country and the world
what American sailors were made of.

The Lenox had not proceeded more than a mile out
to sea, when she perceived Repeller No. 6 coming toward
her from seaward, and in a direction which indicated
that it intended to run across her course. The
Lenox, however, went straight on, and in a short time
the two vessels were quite near each other. Upon
the deck of the repeller now appeared the director in
charge, who, with a speaking-trumpet, hailed the
Lenox and requested her to lay to, as he had
something to communicate. The commander of the
Lenox, through his trumpet, answered that he wanted
no communications, and advised the other vessel to keep
out of his way.

The Lenox now put on a greater head of steam, and
as she was in any case a much faster vessel than the
repeller, she rapidly increased the distance between
herself and the Syndicate's vessel, so that in a few
moments hailing was impossible. Quick signals now shot
up in jets of black smoke from the repeller, and in a
very short time afterward the speed of the Lenox
slackened so much that the repeller was able to come up
with her.

When the two vessels were abreast of each other,
and at a safe hailing distance apart, another signal
went up from the repeller, and then both vessels almost
ceased to move through the water, although the engines
of the Lenox were working at high speed, with her
propeller-blades stirring up a whirlpool at her stern.

For a minute or two the officers of the Lenox
could not comprehend what had happened. It was first
supposed that by mistake the engines had been
slackened, but almost at the same moment that it was
found that this was not the case, the discovery was
made that the crab accompanying the repeller had laid
hold of the stern-post of the Lenox, and with all the
strength of her powerful engines was holding her back.

Now burst forth in the Lenox a storm of frenzied
rage, such as was never seen perhaps upon any vessel
since vessels were first built. From the commander to
the stokers every heart was filled with fury at the
insult which was put upon them. The commander roared
through his trumpet that if that infernal sea-beetle
were not immediately loosed from his ship he would
first sink her and then the repeller.

To these remarks the director of the Syndicate's
vessels paid no attention, but proceeded to state as
briefly and forcibly as possible that the Lenox had
been detained in order that he might have an
opportunity of speaking with her commander, and of
informing him that his action in coming out of the
harbour for the purpose of attacking a British
vessel was in direct violation of the contract between
the United States and the Syndicate having charge of
the war, and that such action could not be allowed.

The commander of the Lenox paid no more attention
to these words than the Syndicate's director had given
to those he had spoken, but immediately commenced a
violent attack upon the crab. It was impossible to
bring any of the large guns to bear upon her, for she
was almost under the stern of the Lenox; but every
means of offence which infuriated ingenuity could
suggest was used against it. Machine guns were trained
to fire almost perpendicularly, and shot after shot was
poured upon that portion of its glistening back which
appeared above the water.

But as these projectiles seemed to have no effect
upon the solid back of Crab H, two great anvils were
hoisted at the end of the spanker-boom, and dropped,
one after the other, upon it. The shocks were
tremendous, but the internal construction of the crabs
provided, by means of upright beams, against injury
from attacks of this kind, and the great masses of iron
slid off into the sea without doing any damage.

Finding it impossible to make any impression upon
the mailed monster at his stern, the commander of the
Lenox hailed the director of the repeller, and swore
to him through his trumpet that if he did not
immediately order the Lenox to be set free, her
heaviest guns should be brought to bear upon his
floating counting-house, and that it should be sunk, if
it took all day to do it.

It would have been a grim satisfaction to the
commander of the Lenox to sink Repeller No. 6, for he
knew the vessel when she had belonged to the United
States navy. Before she had been bought by the
Syndicate, and fitted out with spring armour, he had
made two long cruises in her, and he bitterly hated
her, from her keel up.

The director of the repeller agreed to release the
Lenox the instant her commander would consent to
return to port. No answer was made to this
proposition, but a dynamite gun on the Lenox was
brought to bear upon the Syndicate's vessel. Desiring
to avoid any complications which might ensue from
actions of this sort, the repeller steamed ahead, while
the director signalled Crab H to move the stern of
the Lenox to the windward, which, being quickly done,
the gun of the latter bore upon the distant coast.

It was now very plain to the Syndicate director
that his words could have no effect upon the commander
of the Lenox, and he therefore signalled Crab H to
tow the United States vessel into port. When the
commander of the Lenox saw that his vessel was
beginning to move backward, he gave instant orders to
put on all steam. But this was found to be useless,
for when the dynamite gun was about to be fired, the
engines had been ordered stopped, and the moment that
the propeller-blades ceased moving the nippers of the
crab had been released from their hold upon the stern-
post, and the propeller-blades of the Lenox were
gently but firmly seized in a grasp which included the
rudder. It was therefore impossible for the engines of
the vessel to revolve the propeller, and,
unresistingly, the Lenox was towed, stern foremost,
to the Breakwater.

The news of this incident created the wildest
indignation in the United States navy, and throughout
the country the condemnation of what was considered the
insulting action of the Syndicate was general. In
foreign countries the affair was the subject of a good
deal of comment, but it was also the occasion of much
serious consideration, for it proved that one of the
Syndicate's submerged vessels could, without firing a
gun, and without fear of injury to itself, capture a
man-of-war and tow it whither it pleased.

The authorities at Washington took instant action
on the affair, and as it was quite evident that the
contract between the United States and the Syndicate
had been violated by the Lenox, the commander of that
vessel was reprimanded by the Secretary of the Navy,
and enjoined that there should be no repetitions of his
offence. But as the commander of the Lenox knew that
the Secretary of the Navy was as angry as he was at
what had happened, he did not feel his reprimand to be

Book of the day:
Facebook Google Reddit StumbleUpon Twitter Pinterest