BOY SCOUTS IN THE NORTH SEA
"The Mystery of a Sub"
G. HARVEY RALPHSON
Made in U. S. A
M. A. Donohue & Company Chicago :: New York
Copyright, 1915, By M. A. Donohue & Co., Chicago
Made in U. S. A.
CHAPTER PAGE I A Package Vanishes 7 II Difficulties And Dangers 18 III The Man With The Scar 30 IV the Lena Knobloch 42 V Two Mysterious Changes 54 VI A Difficult Departure 65 VII A Warning From The Sea 76 VIII More About The "U-13" 87 IX A Strange Visit 98 X Shipwreck And Rescue 109 XI A Fleet Of Submarines 120 XII A New "U-13" Appears 131 XIII A Threatening Situation 142 XIV Helped By An Enemy 153 XV Mistaken Identity 165 XVI A Strange Discovery 176 XVII Alone And Helpless 187 XVIII Help From A Stranger 198 XIX Mackinder Again 209 XX A Mysterious Craft 221 XXI A Mystery Explained 232 XXII More Mystery 240 XXIII The Mystery Of The "U-13" 246
BOY SCOUTS IN THE NORTH SEA; or, "THE MYSTERY OF A SUB"
A PACKAGE VANISHES
"Good night!" exclaimed a lad of about eighteen peering from the window in a railway coach. "This train's running on a regular lake!"
"What's that, Jimmie?" asked a companion approaching the first speaker. "Are we on a ferry? I still feel the wheels hit the rail joints."
"Oh, yes, now and again we crawl along a rail's length or two," admitted the boy, "but it's mighty slow work! I'm getting tired!"
"What place is this, anyway?" inquired a third boy coming to the window. "It looks as if we're going out into the ocean!"
"We can't be headed for Holland at this rate!"
"We surely are!" assured the one addressed as Jimmie. "I'll bet I can tell you what that is! The Belgians cut their dikes and flooded the country to drive out the Germans. My dream book says that's it!"
A general laugh greeted this assertion. Moving about in the limits of the none too commodious compartment of a European railway carriage four boys dressed in the well-known khaki uniforms of the Boy Scouts of America endeavored to observe the scenery through the windows.
To those of our readers who have followed the adventures of this group of boys as related in the previous volumes of this series no introduction is necessary. However, for the benefit of those who have not been so fortunate, a word of explanation may not be out of place at this time. The lads had very recently been engaged in a man hunt that led through parts of France and Belgium. They had visited the trenches of both the French and German forces and had several times faced death.
Just now they were practically prisoners, having been accorded passage from the German lines to a neutral port in Holland, where they expected to take ship for their home town of New York.
Ned Nestor, a fine, manly lad, was the Leader of the Wolf Patrol of New York City, Boy Scouts of America. He had been often selected for difficult work by the Chief of the United States Secret Service because of his aptitude for the work. His coolness and sound judgment had carried himself and his companions through many difficulties. It was a mission of this character upon which the boys had recently engaged and from which they were now returning.
Jimmie McGraw, freckle-faced and red-headed, was a member of the Wolf Patrol of which Ned was leader. He was an ardent adherent of Ned's. Brought up a newsboy on the Bowery of New York the boy had come under the observation of the older lad, who had found him indeed worthy of all the care which had been bestowed.
Jack Bosworth, the son of a prominent corporation attorney, and Harry Stevens, whose father was a well-known automobile manufacturer, were the other members of the group. These latter two were members of the Black Bear Patrol of New York. All the lads appeared to be about eighteen years old. Their tidy uniforms, their well-knit frames and their alert attitudes bespoke the constant training of their leader.
As they looked from the windows of the car in which they now found themselves they discovered that the situation was even as Jimmie had stated. The country was flooded with water released from the dikes.
"Tell you what," declared Jack Bosworth, after a prolonged inspection of the landscape, if it may be so called, "this is some wet!"
"You win the argument," announced Jimmie, wrinkling his freckled nose at his companion. "I always said you were the wise little fox!"
Jack's answer to this pleasantry was an attempt to box the younger lad's ears. Jimmie's resentment of the procedure drew the others into a friendly scuffle that terminated only when the contestants paused for breath.
"I wish they'd hurry up and let us get onto dry land again!" said Jimmie, when he next found himself able to draw a long breath.
"You won't find much dry land when it rains like it's going to right now!" stated Harry, pointing out of the window. "Watch it come down!"
"I hope they don't get to the border while it rains like this," answered Ned, with an involuntary shiver. "I don't fancy standing out in such a drizzle as this appears to be. We'd be wet through in no time!"
"Why, do they make us get out?" queried Harry.
"Yes, I understand from what the officer said back there at the old castle that we'll be searched body, boots and baggage."
"And what if they find something they don't like?"
"Perhaps they'll put us in jail for a few months or until the war has ceased," replied Ned. "I'm sure I don't know what they'll do."
"Br-r-rh!" shivered Jimmie. "I wouldn't turn our old friend The Rat out into a rain like this! That would be cruelty to animals!"
"Small chance anyone'll have to turn him out now!" spoke up Jack. "That dynamite fixed him so he won't be turned out for some time!"
"Don't speak of it, boys," protested Ned. "I see him yet!"
"Let's change the subject," proposed Jimmie, out of consideration for his chum's feelings. "I think I see some land. Can we be coming to the border I wonder? I hope we are and that we can soon be starting home!"
"Train's slackening speed," announced Harry. "They're stopping!"
It was even as the boy had said. With many a bump and groan of grinding brakes the train crawled to a standstill beside a hut built upon a rise of ground. Here was stationed a force of soldiers detailed to the work of searching and examining all who attempted to pass from Belgium to Holland. Those who were not certified as refugees or in other ways vested with proper authority to pass were promptly rejected and turned back.
A guard came running along the foot board opening doors. He shouted instructions to the inmates of the carriages, who promptly began scrambling out of the uncomfortable cars. All baggage was placed along the track to facilitate examination. The train itself was searched.
Gesticulating and conversing rapidly two soldiers approached the little group of Boy Scouts. Apparently an argument of some sort was in progress, but the boys could not determine the nature of it.
One of the men pointed to the uniforms and to the medals upon the sleeves of the boys' jackets. Gradually his companion seemed to be convinced by the flow of words. At length he nodded his head, as if surrendering his last doubts. The two men fell to examining the luggage.
"Go as far as you like, Old Scout!" scorned Jimmie, as he observed the rough manner in which his belongings were being tossed about. "I'll bet I'd punch your dome a little, though, if you could talk English!"
"Ah, ha!" cried one of the soldiers, tapping his comrade on the shoulder, as if his argument had been conclusively supported. "Anglaise!"
A torrent of words from the other seemed to meet a receptive ear. The first speaker nodded energetically. His satisfaction was all too evident. From his appearance he was expecting nothing short of a medal.
"Judging from their motions," Jimmie remarked, "these two fellows are about to fight a duel. I'll bet on the shorter one!"
"Not much!" declared Harry. "They're merely telling one another what a nice day it was yesterday and how fine the weather'll be when it clears up. They are using the sign language, that's all!"
"Don't you kid yourself!" protested Jimmie, uneasily. "I smell Old Man Trouble coming around the corner right now!"
"Go on, Jimmie!" scorned Jack. "You're dreaming again!"
"I know I am!" replied the younger lad. "Last night I dreamed of eating salt mackerel and my dream book says that means trouble!"
"Here they come now!" cautioned Ned. "Hush a minute, boys!"
Addressing the boys in German the soldier was evidently asking some question which demanded an answer. Ned as spokesman shook his head. The other soldier spoke rapidly in the French language.
"Excuse me, gentlemen," Ned said, lifting a protesting hand, "we cannot understand the language you are using. We speak only English!"
"Ah, ha! Anglaise!" cried the soldier, gesticulating.
"There, you put your foot in it!" declared Jimmie. "Why didn't you say: 'Come across with some good old United States, Bo'?"
"They probably don't understand your slang, Jimmie!" replied Ned.
"So-o-o," exclaimed one of the men in poor English, "you speak English, do you? And from what part of England do you come?"
"We are not from England at all," explained Ned, "but from the United States. We are being sent home by the kindness of a German officer, who has been most considerate. See, here are our passports!"
"Bah!" scornfully protested the man. "Passports are most easily forged. And information may be carried still more easily!"
"But I assure you," continued Ned, "we are speaking the truth!"
"So say all spies!" replied the other. "We shall see for ourselves just what information you have in your possessions!"
"Go as far as you like," replied Ned, somewhat nettled at the soldier's insolence. "You won't find a thing that shouldn't be there!"
One of the men was already bending over the bags containing such articles as the boys had deemed necessary for their trip. Without regard for the owners' rights he was rapidly taking out every piece separately. After carefully examining it he threw the article on the ground. He was evidently annoyed at not finding something incriminating.
Submitting to the search with poorly concealed dislike of the man and his methods, the boys waited with what patience they could muster until the ordeal should be ended. Ned endeavored to distract their thoughts by commenting on the others, who were meeting similar treatment.
He was interrupted by an exclamation of delight from the searcher.
"Ah!" cried that worthy, standing upright. "Nothing contraband! Nothing to be concealed! No information! These are not spies!"
He held in his hand a flat packet wrapped in heavy oiled silk, tied with many wrappings of stout twine and sealed carefully with wax.
"Gather your possessions quickly and follow me!" commanded the soldier triumphantly, drawing a revolver. "We shall visit the commander!"
"What is that thing and where did it come from?" questioned Ned.
"Search me!" declared Jimmie, excitedly. "Maybe this gink had it up his little sleeve and dropped it in there at the right minute!"
"He looks equal to it!" stated Jack stoutly. "He's a villain!"
"Better be careful what you say!" cautioned Ned. "We are not out of the woods, and these fellows understand English pretty well!"
"I wish I had my automatic and about ten yards start!" stormed Jimmie, gathering up wearing apparel and jamming it into his kit. "I could beat that slow-footed camel in a straightaway without half trying!"
"Better wait and see it out," advised Ned, replacing his own belongings. "It's only a mistake and can surely be explained."
"Maybe we can be examined and go ahead on this same train," offered Jack consolingly. "Anyhow, we won't gain anything by arguing with these fellows. They have no sense of humor and don't want one!"
Following their two captors the lads trudged down the track toward the hut. Carefully they picked their way between groups of genuine refugees rearranging their meagre possessions in the coaches.
In a short time the boys were duly presented before a gray-haired officer seated at a table placed against the wall of the hut. It was darker in the room than out of doors. A single oil lamp served to dispel the gathering gloom of the early twilight.
Reporting volubly in German, with many gesticulations, the soldier presented the four boys. At the conclusion of his recital he laid the parcel upon the table. Drawing himself to his full height and assuming a tragic air he surveyed his captives with complacency.
"Look at that mark!" whispered Jimmie hoarsely. "What is it?"
"It says 'U-13' as plainly as the freckles on your nose," replied Harry, who stood nearest the table. "I don't know what it means!"
A challenge from the sentry at the door drew the attention of those within the hut. For a moment every eye turned toward the entrance.
Ever on the alert, Jimmie saw a hand thrust through the open window. It seized the package and noiselessly disappeared.
DIFFICULTIES AND DANGERS
Finding that the disturbance had been caused by the approach of one of the refugees, who demanded an audience with the commander, but who had quickly been satisfied by the explanation of the sentry, the officer again gave his attention to the group before him.
"Proceed!" he ordered. "You may speak English for the benefit of these young gentlemen. Let us have the story, now!"
"Myself and my comrade searched the baggage of these fellows," began the soldier, directing a contemptuous glance at the boys. "When we reached the kit of that one there," here he pointed at Ned, "we discovered what seemed to us to be suspicious goods. Here it is—!"
A gasp of astonishment terminated the triumphant recital.
"Go on!" ordered the officer without emotion.
"But a moment ago the package was lying on your table!" almost shouted the soldier. "Now it is gone!"
"So I perceive!" replied the officer. "If you have evidence, please produce it. Otherwise I shall examine the passports of the young gentlemen, and if they are found correct I shall permit them to depart."
He reached out a hand for the passports, which were quickly presented. After a minute scrutiny and careful comparison of descriptions he returned them to the lads. Again he turned to the soldier.
"Have you any evidence of their guilt?" he inquired.
"I believe they have stolen the package!" stormed the soldier.
"Search them!" commanded the officer. "With respect!" he added.
During the hasty but thorough search of the lads' clothing Jimmie grinned maliciously into the faces of the soldiers. His delight knew no bounds. Their discomfiture upon failing to find the package was exceeded only by the delight of the lad, who prudently held his own counsel.
"There must have been a mistake!" at length declared the officer impatiently. "We cannot delay the train longer. Permit them to proceed!"
"But I swear I discovered in their luggage a suspicious parcel!"
"It is not here! The young gentlemen do not seem to have it! In the face of their apparently correct passports and this courteous request from their friend, von Moltke, I am not justified in holding them longer! Young men, you may resume your journey!"
Thanking the officer in grateful acknowledgment of his courtesy the lads again found their compartment. Scarcely had they regained their former position before the train again began to move.
"Now, Ned," began Harry, as the wheels once more clicked over the rail joints, "produce! Let's have the secret!"
"Produce nothing!" declared Ned. "I have nothing to produce!"
"The package, man, the mysterious package of contraband spy literature!" demanded Harry in a serious tone. "What secrets are you carrying out of this country to help the English?"
"I tell you I have nothing at all! I don't know what that package contained, nor do I know where it came from!"
"That's all right, too!" declared Jack. "But where did it go to so suddenly? That's the interesting part! What did you do with it?"
"Honestly, boys," protested Ned, "I haven't got it. I saw that fellow fish it out of my kit. I saw him put it on the table. When I turned back after glancing at the door the package was gone!"
"We know that!" continued Harry. "Now, who took it?"
"I'd give a good deal to know that myself!" declared Ned.
"Just how much would you give?" queried Jimmie from his seat in a corner from whence he had been listening. "I'd like to make a stake!"
"Jimmie pinched it!" cried Harry, pouncing upon his comrade.
"Deliver that package!" shouted Jack, going to the assistance of his chum. "Search him, Ned!" he continued, as Jimmie was dragged to his feet. "Go through him carefully while we hold him."
"Go as far as you like," grinned Jimmie teasingly. "It's not here!"
"Where is it, Jimmie?" questioned Ned, seriously, "let's have it!"
"I tell you I haven't got it!" declared Jimmie, still grinning. "But I saw it when it disappeared and I know where it went!"
"Hurry up!" shouted Jack, impatiently. "Say something!"
"It went out of the window of the shanty!" declared Jimmie.
"Aw, go on!" scorned Harry. "Just jumped up and flew away!"
With a laugh Jimmie then related what he had seen at the moment when all the other occupants of the hut had been giving their attention to the disturbance at the front door. The tale astonished his chums.
"I saw the hand as plainly as I see my own!" declared Jimmie, holding his hand up to the light of the single oil lamp. "It was the hand of a gentleman, I should say. I mean by that, it was soft and well kept—not hard and calloused. The peculiar mark by which I shall know it again if I see it was a scar extending clear across the back. I somehow connected that scar with a saber or sword cut. It was an ugly wound."
"Did you see anything of the man?" asked Ned, eagerly.
"No, I wasn't turned far enough and I didn't dare move," replied Jimmie. "All at once I seemed to comprehend that the thief was saving us a lot of troublesome delay, and I just let him make his getaway without raising a holler! I thought he was helping us as well as himself!"
"I think we ought to vote Jimmie a credit mark!" declared Ned.
"He certainly exercised wonderful self-control in not making a noise at a critical time," added Jack. "I wonder, now, if the chap at the door made the disturbance to assist the other fellow in grabbing the parcel. It would almost seem as if they were working together!"
"It does seem like that!" stated Ned, thoughtfully. "But what puzzles me most is the fact that the package was in our baggage!"
"I wonder what on earth could have been in the old 'U-13'!"
But ponder and speculate as they might the lads were unable to arrive at a solution of the mysterious presence and disappearance of the package bearing the curious mark. Weary with the exertion of attempting to solve the problem the boys at length composed themselves for sleep.
Mile after mile the train bumped jerkily along the uneven track. Occasionally a guard opened the door to scrutinize the compartment, but upon finding the little party at rest he again proceeded to his duties.
Gradually the train drew away from the inundated section. To the southward, whence they had come, the boys were leaving the scene of the mighty conflict, the like of which history had never seen. Behind them were the trenches filled with soldiers—some happy and gay even in the presence of death, others disheartened and downcast. There, too, they were leaving the great cannon with their roaring, screaming shells, the vicious crack of rifles and the wasp-like singing of bullets.
Before them in fancy they saw a great ship upon which they would take passage to the peace and quietness of their own country. Their dreams were filled with scenes of New York and their beloved club room, hung with trophies of the prowess of the members of their patrol.
At Amsterdam they would embark speedily, and after a week or ten days of ocean travel would see again the Goddess of Liberty holding up to the world a beacon to guide their ships into a haven of peace and plenty.
Could the boys have pierced the veil and looked upon the scenes through which they were soon to pass their rest that night might not have been so tranquil, their dreams would perhaps have been less pleasant.
Thanks to the consideration extended them at the instance of their friend, von Moltke, the German officer in whose charge they had been placed during the last exciting scenes of their stay in the war zone, the lads had been accorded the privilege of a whole compartment. Due to this fact they found room in which to stretch out as they slept. This exceptional advantage was fully appreciated.
Toward morning the boys were awakened by the bustle surrounding the arrival of the train at Utrecht. At this point another passenger was thrust unceremoniously into the compartment. After performing this duty the guard hastened away to perform similar services for others.
"Good morning, gentlemen," said the newcomer pleasantly.
"Top of the morning to you!" smiled Jimmie, rising and endeavoring to smooth out the wrinkles in his uniform. "How's the weather outside?"
"Clearing rapidly, but there's promise of some wind," replied the newcomer. "May I ask how far you are going?"
"New York!" declared Jimmie with a grin. "That is," his added, "if this old ark holds together until we get to Amsterdam and we can find a ship there. It would be just our luck to find the last canal boat gone!"
"Been having tough luck?" inquired the other solicitously.
"Rotten!" stated the boy. "How far do you go?" he asked.
"Amsterdam is my present destination," was the reply. "My name's Mackinder—Robert Mackinder, and I'm trying to get out of this forsaken country, don't you know. I'm in hopes I'll be able to find some craft destined to a point where I'll be able to get home."
Introductions of the four lads followed. Mackinder proved himself an entertaining talker. Listening to his tales of adventure in various lands the boys were soon at ease. The man apparently had traveled over the whole world for he seemed familiar with all lands.
"I say," declared Jimmie, as their new found friend concluded a tale of privation through which he had passed in South Africa, "that story of starvation reminds me that I am hungry. I haven't eaten in a week!"
"Jimmie, Jimmie!" cautioned Ned. "Get down to recent dates!"
"Well, it feels that way, anyhow," persisted the boy.
"Can you tell us where we'll be able to find a lunch counter?" asked Ned. "We have nothing in our kits except some hard tack."
"There is no place short of Amsterdam where one can get anything like a decent meal," replied Mackinder. "There I can show you the way to a restaurant that is all right. It is not far from the docks."
"Then we'll get one good, solid, square meal!" shouted Jimmie.
"And after breakfast," put in Harry, "we'll go aboard the steamer and let 'em sail as soon as they like! What shall we eat?"
"I want a limburger cheese sandwich," announced Jimmie. "I'd like it to be on rye bread with plenty of mustard. Then with a couple of cups of real old Dutch coffee I guess I'd last until noon."
"By noon we'll be out on the North Sea, I hope," stated Harry.
"You don't get onto the North Sea direct from Amsterdam!" scorned Jack. "You have to go through some sort of lake or bay first!"
"Leave it to Mr. Mackinder here!" protested Harry.
"Your friend is right, Harry," smiled Mackinder, thus appealed to. "Amsterdam is on the Zuider Zee. If we get a vessel at that place we will pass northward through that water, thence between some of the Friesian Islands into the North Sea. From that point it is but a short distance to my destination. Any port in England will be suitable for my purpose."
"Nix on England for mine!" declared Jimmie. "I'm for the little old United States every time. We are neutral there without having to think about it. I'm about done with war. I've seen enough!"
"Too much is plenty, as the Dutchman says," put in Harry. "But about this Amsterdam place, now. Do you know the town, Mr. Mackinder?"
"Indeed I do!" was the reply. "I have been there many times."
"Then perhaps you'd be good enough to give us a little help. You see, we're strangers there and since we've lost our airship we're almost helpless. We're not accustomed to finding our way about where the inhabitants don't speak English. Besides, we're not provided with a map."
"I shall be delighted to help you in any way possible," continued the man. "I think that if you follow me you'll have little trouble."
The lads gladly availed themselves of this offer, and shortly after their arrival at the city they found themselves in a room plainly but comfortably furnished. From their windows they could see the shipping in the harbor. Before them a busy street teemed with traffic.
Watching the strange sights below the boys were startled to hear:
"I'll trouble you now for the 'U-13' package!"
Wheeling quickly they were frightened to observe that Mackinder had them covered with a revolver. His look was stern and determined.
THE MAN WITH THE SCAR
"What package is it you want?" inquired Ned in amazement as he saw that Mackinder evidently intended to enforce his demand at all costs.
"I shall countenance no delay!" spoke the man sharply. "You may step to your luggage there and produce that package instantly. If you refuse I shall summon assistance and it will be taken forcibly."
"You have the wrong pig by the ear this time, partner!" put in Jimmie. "Just put up your little cannon. It won't do you any good here."
"Enough!" snapped Mackinder. "You will gain nothing by attempting such methods. I am not to be balked by trivialities!"
"Well, Boss," smiled Jimmie, "we haven't got any 'U-13' package and we haven't got any of those other things, either!"
"I warn you," went on Mackinder in a menacing tone, "it has become known to the authorities that you have this package. I have been commissioned to secure it. If you surrender it before leaving this country you will lose nothing. If you refuse it will be taken by force. In that case you need not expect to receive any degree of clemency in the matter!"
"Mr. Mackinder," began Ned with dignity, "we don't understand what you mean. If you intend to infer that we have some mysterious package that we should not have you are not fair to us. Perhaps you would like to examine our luggage and be sure it is not there."
"Very well," stated Mackinder grimly. "If you insist."
Keeping the revolver leveled in the direction of the group the man stepped to the side of the room. He grasped the old-fashioned bell-pull. In answer to his summons steps were heard approaching the door.
"Ah, there you are, Norton," sighed Mackinder in a relieved tone as a man in uniform appeared. "Just keep an eye on these chaps, will you. I'm going through their luggage. Look sharp, now!"
From Norton's appearance the boys judged that the task was much to his liking. He fingered a wicked looking revolver, as if anticipating trouble and hoping that would come quickly. His manner was that of an eager hunting dog scenting game and only waiting a command to attack.
Thinking it best to offer no resistance and understanding that arguments would not avail under the present circumstances Ned seated himself in a convenient chair. He began to divert the minds of his comrades by talking of the shipping and the traffic which they could see.
Hastily Mackinder tossed the luggage about in his efforts to locate the article he sought. Finally he turned to Ned.
"Where have you concealed it?" he asked with some display of anger.
"Concealed what?" asked Ned impatiently. "I tell you, Mr. Mackinder, I don't like this idea of your holding us up in this manner without apparent authority. You are imposing on good nature!"
"Perhaps I have been a little hasty," stated Mackinder, "but I have been commissioned to secure a certain package which is alleged to contain information vital to two countries. It may possibly concern more. You are said to have had possession of this package at the time you left the castle in Flanders. Where is it now?"
"Do you mean the flat package the soldier found in our baggage at the frontier where we were searched?" inquired Jimmie.
"No doubt it is the same one," stated Mackinder.
"Then," declared the boy, pointing at Mackinder's hand, "I have every reason to believe that you know more about the whereabouts of that package than do we. I recognize that peculiar scar on your hand!"
Quick glances of inquiry were directed by the boys at the hand toward which Jimmie was pointing. It bore a scar running clear across the back—an ugly, jagged scar that they had heard Jimmie describe.
"What did you mean by coming here and trying to throw a bluff into us about the package still being in our kits when you yourself took it from the table in the hut?" demanded Jimmie aggressively.
"You're mistaken, boys, I don't know what you're talking about!"
"Then you've got a mighty poor memory!" declared the lad.
"Mr. Mackinder," Ned said in a low tone vibrant with indignation, "if you've quite satisfied yourself that we have not got the package you seem to be seeking we'll excuse you. We don't want your company any more, and we shall try to proceed upon our journey alone."
"But, see here, boys—" Mackinder attempted to explain.
"Not another word!" cried Ned rising. "There is the door and you are at liberty to use it quickly. You are welcome to the package!"
"You will find out later on," Mackinder said, as he started to leave the room in company with Norton, "that I've been trying to help you out of mighty suspicious circumstances. You are ungrateful!"
"Good-bye!" called out Jimmie. "Don't slam the door!"
For a moment the boys gazed at one another in amazement after the two men had left the room. They were excited and puzzled.
"Well, this is a stunner!" declared Ned at length.
"Who is this Mackinder, who is Norton, what is in this 'U-13' package that he wants, how did it get into our baggage, why was it put there, where are we going, when do we eat!" demanded Jimmie in a breath.
"That's the way to talk, Jimmie!" cried Harry, laughing in spite of the situation that the boys all felt to be a serious one.
"The last question is the most important!" stated Jack. "I'm in favor of the eats part and that without further delay."
"Come on, boys," suggested Ned. "Let's eat first and talk things over afterward. I'm nearly famished myself, and Jimmie is hungry, too!"
In a short time the lads were seated in a quaint restaurant ordering strange dishes. They were hungry, as only healthy, active boys can be. The food was well cooked and appetizing. They ate heartily.
"Now, I'm in favor of getting to the docks as quick as possible," announced Jimmie, pushing his plate away. "Let's get our passage settled."
All were in favor of this arrangement. After paying for their breakfast the lads set out in search of a ship upon which they might secure passage to the United States. But they were not to secure this easily.
Extended inquiry during the forenoon elicited the information that there was no vessel clearing from the port of Amsterdam for any place in America. Although they made every effort to find a steamer which would afford them the accommodations they sought none was found.
Inquiry at the railway station disclosed the fact that their airship, the Grey Eagle, now dismantled and packed in boxes, was at the freight sheds waiting a claimant. Until they could find a vessel to carry it home the boys preferred to let it remain in its present location.
After dinner they continued their inquiries for a vessel. At length they learned of a full-rigged three-masted ship that was to clear in a few days for New York. Regretting even this short delay the lads decided to attempt to secure passage, although the journey would be a long one.
Ned secured the services of a boatman, who offered to row them out to the ship, which lay at anchor in the harbor. The man charged them what the boys considered an extraordinary price for the service, but explained that the weather was unfavorable and that at any moment a storm might break. To this the boys could but agree. A glance at the sky convinced them that a storm of rather unusual violence was gathering.
"Take him up, anyhow, Ned!" urged Harry. "We want to get home!"
"All right, then, here goes!" declared Ned, stepping aboard the waterman's craft. "Pull away, my friend, we're all aboard."
In a short time the man was threading his way amongst the shipping in the harbor. From their position so low upon the water the masts and spars of the vessels looked to be of extraordinary height to the boys, who viewed every object with keen interest.
A hail from the boatman was answered by a man from the deck of the ship. He thrust his head over the rail inquiringly.
"Where's your captain?" asked Ned, as the man appeared.
"What do you want of the captain?" asked the man in a surly voice.
"We want to talk with him," replied Ned. "We'll explain to him."
"He's busy now and don't want to be disturbed. Tell me what you want and I'll give him your message. Maybe he'll see you!"
"We want to arrange passage on your ship to the United States."
"I'll see what he's got to say," replied the man, moving away.
While he was gone the boys examined the vessel closely. Jimmie pronounced the vessel very much to his liking. He admired the lines and pointed with pride to the modeling of the stern.
"Hello!" the boy cried excitedly, his arm extended still in the act of indicating the ship, "there goes our friend Mackinder in a launch!"
"Where?" asked Ned eagerly, turning about in his seat.
"Right astern of us!" replied Jimmie. "I wonder what he was doing aboard this ship. He seems to be in a hurry to get ashore."
"Maybe he wasn't on this ship at all," was Harry's objection. "He might have been out on the harbor for a pleasure ride."
"Sure, he's just the chap to take a pleasure ride on the harbor with a storm brewing! I've got a picture of that chap joy-riding!"
"I hope he doesn't see us," declared Jack. "He might have enough influence with the captain to prevent our securing passage on this ship."
The conversation was interrupted by the advent of the captain, who looked over the rail at the little craft riding alongside.
"What do you want?" he inquired in a business-like tone.
"We want to arrange passage on your ship to New York, Captain," stated Ned respectfully. "We understand you are to sail soon. We are citizens of the United States homeward bound. Can you help us out?"
"Not this trip!" decided the captain instantly.
"We are able to pay well for our accommodations," continued the boy. "It is rather important that we get home as quickly as possible."
"Possibly," returned the captain shortly.
Nonplussed, Ned was at a loss to find words with which to urge his request further. The captain's distant manner gave him no encouragement.
"We'll not be the slightest trouble, Captain," the lad presently continued. "We understand you'll be loaded in a few days and will sail for New York direct. Cannot you arrange to accommodate us?"
"This isn't a passenger vessel," stated the captain.
"Well, then, couldn't we sign articles and work our way over? We'd be willing to pay whatever you think is right for that privilege."
"You want to get me into trouble with the authorities, don't you?" replied the other, preparing to move away.
"But, Captain, just think a moment. There must be some way in which you can arrange it. Don't leave us in a foreign country!"
"You seem to have done pretty well in foreign countries as it is! If you can pull off the stunts you have just done I guess you'll get over to New York all right—if that's where you want to go!"
"What do you mean? I don't understand you!"
"Oh, you don't, eh? Well, to put it plainly, this is a peaceable, neutral ship doing honest trading. I carry freight, not spies!"
With these words the captain disappeared. The boys gasped in astonishment at the words and looked at each other speechless.
Ned motioned to the boatman to return to the dock. His puzzled frown showed plainly that the boy was at a loss to understand the situation.
"I've got it!" almost shouted Jimmie, as the lads were once more on land. "I know what the answer is! I've been reading my little dream book!"
"All right, wise man, let's have it! Don't keep it bottled up!"
"Mackinder!" declared Jimmie impressively.
"You don't mean to say that he beat us to the ship and managed to get the captain to refuse us passage on his vessel?" asked Ned.
"I believe I'm right at that!" maintained Jimmie, stoutly.
"Then the only thing we can do is to try to find some coasting vessel to carry us out of the Zuider Zee into the North Sea and make a port in England. We can then go overland to Liverpool and get a ship from there home. Suppose we try that?" offered Ned.
The boys were passing along a covered dock at the moment. As they turned a corner they saw Mackinder standing near. A smile of triumph lighted his face.
THE LENA KNOBLOCH
"What did I tell you?" inquired Jimmie, as the boys passed the man. "There he stands with his arms folded and grins like a cream stealing cat! I wish I had a half a brick! We'll have to watch out for him!"
"It surely looks as if you were right, Jimmie!" assented Ned.
"But what gets me," put in Harry, "is why he should be after us! What have we done? He seems to have information that we're criminals!"
"It looks mighty strange that he should have stolen the package out of that hut and then continue to insist that we have it," remarked Ned. "Are you sure he's the same fellow, Jimmie?"
"It's the very same hand," declared the lad, "and that hand is a dead give away! I wonder he didn't wear a glove or bandage!"
"Maybe he didn't have time when he got the package," explained Jack. "Can anyone tell me how the thing got into our kits?"
This question was unanswerable by any of the lads. Puzzling over the strange adventures they had recently encountered the lads proceeded to their hotel, where they spent some time in freshening both themselves and their uniforms and in rearranging their baggage.
At supper time they were tired and very hungry. At the first opportunity they proceeded to the restaurant where they had formerly eaten.
Jimmie's spirits revived as food was set before them. In a moment he was laughing and chatting away without a care in the world. His good humor was infectious. Soon all four boys were in a merry mood.
"I wish we could get a civilized paper," declared Jack at length. "I'd really like to see what's going on in the world."
"Maybe we can get one at the desk. Or possibly the cashier can tell us where they will have English papers for sale," suggested Harry.
"Here comes a man who looks as if he were a native," spoke up Jimmie. "I'll bet he can tell us a whole lot of things we want to know!"
The boys glanced up to observe a man approaching their table. He was evidently a seafaring man. His dress and manner betokened the deep sea mariner. A decided air of the ocean marked him to the boys' eyes.
"Goot efening, Chentlemen!" the stranger said as he approached.
"Howdy!" replied Jimmie, with a wave of his hand. "What'll you have?"
"Vell," replied the visitor, "schnapps vas goot, but you couldn't get 'em here. Dis isn't no blace for dot! No, sir!"
"I wasn't inviting you to have a drink," snapped Jimmie somewhat confusedly, "I meant to ask you what's on your mind."
"So-o-o-o!" exclaimed the newcomer with a long drawn expression of surprise. His shaggy eyebrows raised as he extended his chin and shrugged his shoulders, pantomiming an apology. "So, dot's it, eh?"
"Sure thing!" answered Jimmie, regaining his composure in a measure but with his face still flushed. "We want to know what you're after."
"Vell," went on the visitor, "my name's Captain Johannes von Kluck. Don'd forgot dot 'Captain' part, eider. Und I haf learned dot you chentlemans vas lookin' for a fine, fast ship. Und I have chust dot!"
As he made this announcement Captain von Kluck smiled a wide look of friendship at the entire party. It was a wonderful smile, beginning at the tiny wrinkles surrounding the corners of his eyes. From there it spread all over his face, gradually distorting the features until, as Jimmie afterward declared, the boys were forced to smile in spite of themselves.
"And where does your fine ship go, Captain von Kluck?" asked Ned.
"Chust vherefer you vant to go!" declared the captain solemnly. "Me, I am a goot navigator, und mine mate he is, too, a goot von!"
"We want to go to New York," continued Ned. "If you can arrange to furnish us passage to that port, we'll pay you well."
To this the captain answered by spreading his hands and shrugging his shoulders until they nearly reached his ears. Over his beaming face spread a look of despair. He slowly shook his head.
"To New York I cannot go!" he answered dolefully. "Bud I vill put you ashore in England, und from dere you can easy get a ship!"
"Well, that's better than nothing at all!" admitted Ned.
"Sure!" declared Jimmie. "Anything to get out of this place!"
"When can you be ready to sail, Captain?" inquired Ned.
"Who, me?" questioned the captain in a tone of surprise.
"Nobody else but you, your crew and we boys!" laughed Ned.
"Sure! Dot's all ridt!" nodded von Kluck. "Vhell, I'm ready now. Yet I haf some cheeses on board to put, und some odder tings!"
"Can you accommodate the boxes containing our airship?" asked Jimmie. "We have the Grey Eagle over here at the railroad station and don't want to leave it behind us when we leave the country."
"Maybe it vould on de schip go!" consented von Kluck.
"Hurrah!" exultantly cried the lads. "That's fine!"
"How big is your ship, Captain?" asked Ned, "and what's her name?"
"Mine schip is der Lena Knobloch!" smiled the captain. "Dot's vot you English beoples call garlic. Und id vas a goot schip alreaty!"
"Well, then," suggested Ned, "suppose the captain takes supper here as our guest. Two of us will remain with him to arrange details while the other two hasten away and get a truck to take the boxes to the dock. Can you give us directions for reaching the vessel, Captain?"
"Sure," assented the captain, seating himself. "Und I know a man vot vould haul your goots, too. I get him," he added.
"In that case, we'll all go over together," proposed Jack. "I don't like the idea of separating while we're in a strange town."
"Perhaps the captain can tell us where we can get some English papers," ventured Jimmie. "We'd like to get the latest news."
Wheeling in his chair the captain bawled out an order in Dutch. A waiter came bustling up with an air of deference. Evidently he knew the captain and understood that no delay would be tolerated.
A few words were rapidly spoken, whereupon the waiter hastened away to return presently with several newspapers. These were spread upon the table before the boys, who began a perusal of their contents.
"Gee whiz!" exclaimed Jimmie, glancing at the headlines of the paper which had fallen to his lot. "Listen to this—three vessels sunk in the mouth of the Mersey river by a German submarine identified as the 'U-13.' Then there's been two vessels sunk at the mouth of the Thames!"
"What sunk them?" inquired Harry.
"It says here that they were sunk by a German submarine. In each case the diver has been identified as the 'U-13' by the crews of the ill-fated vessels. Now, that's going some!"
"Let's see," pondered Harry, "the Thames is the river leading to London, while the Mersey is the river leading to Liverpool."
"Right you are, Old Scout, go to the head of the class!"
"Hush, Jimmie, no nonsense!" cautioned Ned.
"What I was thinking about," continued Harry, "is the distance a boat would have to travel to get from one place to the other. It must be all of seven hundred miles around Land's End. A boat would have to be speedy to cover that distance so quickly!"
"How quickly?" demanded Jimmie. "The paper says the three ships were sunk at the Mersey on Wednesday morning. Those at the Thames, or rather 'off Margate,' as the article states, were sunk Thursday afternoon. That wouldn't be such an impossible feat after all!"
"Twenty miles an hour sustained speed for about twenty-eight hours is running along at a pretty good clip, just the same!"
"Well, the vessel did it!" declared Jimmie. "The paper says that about six o'clock Wednesday morning the Wanderer, a vessel laden with foodstuffs from Australia, was hailed by the crew of a submarine. They were permitted to take to the small boats and then the Wanderer was torpedoed, going down at once. The submarine was positively identified as the 'U-13.' Then the other paragraph says that at about eight o'clock on Thursday evening the steamer Adventure from Buenos Ayres with a cargo of flour for London was treated in the same manner off Margate by the 'U-13'!"
"Isn't it a little strange that the submarine should have attacked a peaceful merchant vessel?" inquired Jack. "That isn't war!"
"Evidently it is the intention to blockade all English ports and shut off the food supply of the nation," ventured Ned. "You see the article relates that all the ships were loaded with food and destined to English ports. It must be a blockade movement!"
"Here's an account," announced Harry, "that says a steamer was hailed by a submarine a few miles off the Lizard Head. It escaped by its superior speed, but only by a narrow margin, for the submarine launched a torpedo that barely missed striking the after portion of the ship!"
"Maybe it was the same little old 'U-13,'" suggested Jimmie.
"Oh, you 'U-13'!" laughed Jack. "You're some boat, all right!"
"Say!" shouted Jimmie, jumping quickly to his feet. The boy glanced about the group with startled looks. "What about that 'U-13' package? Do you suppose it was intended for the submarine?"
The boys exchanged puzzled looks. Perplexity was expressed in every face. A look of worry began to appear on Ned's countenance.
"I wonder who Mackinder is and what he has to do with that package," the lad said presently. "Boys, we're surely stumbling into a mess of something. We'll have to be careful!"
"Captain," demanded Jimmie, turning to von Kluck, "what do you know about this 'U-13' business? What is the 'U-13'?"
Leaning back in his chair the captain drew a long breath. He filled a great pipe from a capacious pouch. Gravely he packed the tobacco into the immense bowl, accompanying the procedure with sundry shakes of his head. Not until the pipe was drawing freely did he reply.
"Ach, id vas vot der Deutsch say it 'Unterseeboot'! You English say it submarine! Und dot liddle schip goes 'Boom'! und down goes der big schips under der vasser! Und dey stay, too!" he concluded.
"Yes, we know that," assented Jimmie, punctuating his statement with a poke at the paragraph he had just read, "but who owns it?"
"Vhell, der Chermans dey claim to haf a big share in id!"
"Then if we start out for England in this Lena Knobloch of yours how do we know that the 'U-13' won't come along and take a poke at us just out of pure spite?" questioned the lad.
"Vhell, maybe she vill," agreed von Kluck, between puffs. "Bud if you vhas like me, you iss willing to took a chance. I go, und das Lena goes, und by und by maybe we make blenty money und go ashore to shtay."
"You take it easy, I must say!" returned Jimmie, somewhat amused.
"Are you going out just the same, Captain?" inquired Jack.
"Sure!" proclaimed the captain, in no uncertain tones.
"Then let's be getting that truck and take the Grey Eagle boxes aboard the Lena Knobloch!" cried Jack. "The sooner it's over the easier I'll feel. I'm beginning to get nervous about all this 'U-13' business!"
After paying their bill the boys set out in company with the captain to find the trucker. That individual put up a strong protest at taking out his horses at the unseemly hour, but a piece of coin slipped into his hand at the opportune moment by Ned soon changed his mind.
Another piece of money changing hands at the proper moment secured the consent of the official in charge of the freight sheds to the delivery of the boxes containing the precious Grey Eagle.
Making the affair a pleasure jaunt the lads lost no time in loading the cases aboard the truck. Merrily they set off for the dock.
Upon arriving in the vicinity of his vessel the captain shed his jovial air like an overcoat. He bawled out orders to his crew, emphasizing his commands with sundry fistic punctuations. The men evidently knew with whom they had to deal, for they fell to the work with a will.
The boys turned back to the hotel to secure their hand baggage.
A small cart drawn by two huge dogs was approaching. In the vehicle were some milk cans. The figure of a woman guided the strange team.
"This is rather early for the milklady!" laughed Jimmie.
"That's no woman!" declared Jack. "Look at that walk!"
"That's Mackinder!" Jimmie cried. "See the scar on his hand!"
TWO MYSTERIOUS CHANGES
"Hey, you!" shouted Jimmie, dashing across the street in the direction of the queer outfit. "Come here! I want to see you!"
The pseudo milk vendor gave a quick glance at the approaching boy. A street lamp cast a flickering glare upon the automatic which Jimmie had drawn from his pocket. Without waiting to explain or ask questions the person addressed deserted the dog team instantly.
With but a single look over its shoulder the figure darted toward a building at the head of the quay. Boots clattered on the pavement, while the long stride clearly indicated to the boys that Jimmie and Jack had been correct in their surmise that the garb of a woman milk vendor had been assumed as a disguise.
Although Jimmie's speed was great, the lad's sprint was not sufficient to permit him to overtake his quarry.
"He'll never make it!" declared Jack, tugging away at his own automatic and preparing to follow his comrade.
"Come on, fellows, let's get a move on!" suggested Harry. "That fellow will just about get into a corner somewhere and knock Jimmie over the head. He's capable of worse than that, I believe!"
All three lads hastened after the fleeing figure of their red-headed chum and the one whom he was pursuing.
An open door in the building indicated that the race had turned in that direction. Producing an electric searchlight Ned urged caution. Directly the lads heard the sound of a falling body. This was at once followed by an exclamation of surprise and disgust. They recognized the tones as those of their companion.
"Are you there, Jimmie?" called Ned, swinging the beam from his searchlight about the interior, lighting up a collection of merchandise piled in the warehouse. Jimmie was nowhere to be seen.
"Where could he have gone so suddenly?" queried Harry.
"Maybe Mackinder hit him over the head!" ventured Jack.
"Mackinder better be careful how he monkeys with this crew!" was Harry's belligerent comment. "Maybe that guy'll get all that's coming to him and get it right in the neck!"
For a moment the boys stood listening intently for some indication of the presence of their comrade. Once Ned thought he heard a soft footfall. He put out his hand to touch Jack on the arm.
"Ss-s-sh!" he hissed. "What was that?"
"Rat, maybe!" suggested Jack. "Turn your searchlight this way a minute. I want to see where this passage leads."
Ned swung the searchlight in the direction indicated. Its lance of flame pierced the gloom, revealing tiers of boxes and piles of bags and bales heaped up in orderly array. Sufficient space had been left between the heaps of merchandise to provide passageway.
"Come on," cried Jack, "we're losing time standing here!"
Scarcely had the boy uttered the words ere an object came hurtling through the air. It struck the searchlight fairly upon the lens. There was a quick cry of distress from Ned, a rattle of broken glass, the tinkle of the falling searchlight. For a moment complete silence reigned. The next instant there was a rush of a heavy body.
Taken by surprise the boys were not prepared for the onslaught. They went down like ten pins. Harry received a blow on the jaw that nearly put him out for the count. Jack declared afterwards that his stomach would never cease aching from the punch that landed there.
Ned had been bringing up the rear of the little party, hence suffered least. He felt about quickly for the searchlight as he lay on the floor. Before he could recover it the boys heard the outer door slam and knew that someone had passed out of the building after the sudden attack. Who it might have been they could only conjecture.
"Oh, my poor jaw!" groaned Harry. "I'm knocked out!"
"No, you're not!" protested Ned. "That only shook you up!"
"Sure!" agreed Jack. "Shook us all up so we'll get a little more 'pep'. Let's hurry up and follow that guy!"
"Wait a minute," objected Ned. "We want to find Jimmie first!"
"Right-O!" agreed Harry. "I think my jaw is better now. Where are we going, anyway? Do you suppose that was Jimmie that floored us just now? Maybe he thought Mackinder had pals coming in!"
"I don't believe it," stated Ned. "Jimmie must have known that Mackinder was alone with the milk wagon. He also knew that we would follow him here. Possibly the lad is farther along in the warehouse, lost amongst this merchandise. That must have been Mackinder!"
"You're right, Ned!" declared Jack. "He probably misled Jimmie in here and then dashed out as we came in!"
"But where is Jimmie now?" queried Harry. "I don't hear him!"
"Oh, Jimmie!" called Ned in a loud tone.
To this hail there was no answer. Complete silence reigned.
"That's mighty funny!" puzzled Harry. "Get your searchlight and let's hunt him up. He can't have gotten far away."
A short search by all three boys resulted in the recovery of the searchlight. Beyond the damaged lens the instrument had suffered no injury. It was still serviceable and cast a strong beam of light.
By its aid the lads followed the passage, stepping rapidly forward. They were becoming alarmed over the failure of their chum to respond to their calls. All feared that Mackinder might have done the lad harm. Momentarily their anxiety increased.
"Here's a side passage!" declared Harry, who brought up the rear of the little procession. "Where does this go?"
"Wait a minute with that searchlight, Ned!" called Jack, who followed Ned closely. "Throw it back here a minute for Harry!"
Before the light could be brought into service Harry had taken a step into the passage he had just discovered. A sharp cry of surprise brought Jack and Ned to his side in an instant.
The lads saw Harry bending over the form of their missing chum. Jimmie lay in a heap, blocking the passageway.
Fearful that their first suspicions had been correct, the boys scarcely dared investigate. Jack began growling out uncomplimentary remarks concerning Mackinder. Ned quickly forced his way to Harry's side.
"Here, let me see him!" Ned cried, throwing the flame of his searchlight on the recumbent form. "Why, he's all huddled up!"
"All in a bunch!" agreed Harry. "I wonder if he's hurt!"
"Roll him over," directed Ned. "Let's get him out of here!"
"Why, he's tied!" cried Harry, in a startled voice.
"Tied?" questioned Jack, pushing forward. "Who tied him?"
"And gagged!" went on Harry, his voice vibrating with indignation. "Mackinder will pay for this!" the lad continued. "We'll get him!"
Without the loss of a moment Harry was swiftly relieving Jimmie of the object which prevented speech. A small block of wood had been forced between Jimmie's teeth. This had been secured in place by tying a handkerchief over his face. The gag had been extremely effective, even though it was uncomfortable and crude.
As the gag was removed Jimmie wagged his jaw a few times to relieve the strained muscles. He nodded his appreciation.
"How are you feeling, Jimmie?" was Ned's solicitous inquiry.
"All right," replied the lad. "Untie my hands, will you?"
"Gee, but you're an artist, Jimmie!" cried Jack. "We'll get you a job as 'Tricko, The Handcuff King'! I want to say right now," the boy went on in mock seriousness, "there are very few people who can tie themselves up so completely and so quickly as this job has been done!"
"You win the argument!" decided Jimmie, ironically. "If I get my tutor where I can lay hands on him I'll show him a trick or two that wasn't in the first chapter. He's in for some instruction all right!"
"What happened, Jimmie?" asked Ned, carefully passing his knife through the bonds that confined the other's hands and feet.
"Well, when I came slamming along into the warehouse I was only a few feet behind the milk maid!" began Jimmie. "I at once crept in on tiptoe, because I reasoned that he would be slugging along, making considerable noise. I didn't know that there were goods in here.
"I couldn't see him anywhere. From that I concluded that he had either stopped or had taken to tiptoeing, too. I had my 'gat' ready and started in. I felt along the bales and boxes a ways. Just as I heard you fellows come into the door something tripped me and down I went.
"Before I could say a word he had shoved that thing into my mouth, pulled a handkerchief out of my pocket, tied it around my face and then tied my hands together under my knees. Say," the lad continued earnestly, "that guy never got his knowledge out of a correspondence course! He's been there and helped skin 'em! He's smooth!"
"Where's your automatic?" asked Harry.
"I don't know," replied Jimmie. "Let's have the bug a minute. I'm sure I heard it fall, but I can't say whether Mackinder got it or not!"
"Mackinder?" questioned Ned. "How do you know it was he?"
"Because as he was tying my hands together I had a chance to feel of the back of his right hand. I could feel the scar as plainly as could be. It was the same scar I saw before he started to run and the same scar I saw when the 'U-13' package was pinched!"
"I'd like to take a poke at him just for luck!" declared Jack.
"I don't know about that," stated Jimmie. "I can't help but admire a fellow as capable as he is. He tied me up so quickly and cleverly and yet so effectively. I'd like to take lessons of him!"
"Here's your gun!" joyously announced Harry. "And here's the milkmaid's dress he shed in here after he trussed you up."
"Now, then," began Ned, as the party was again complete and ready for action, "let's get out of here and get our baggage."
"Let's get Mackinder first," proposed Jack.
"I vote 'No' on that question, Mr. Chairman!" declared Jimmie.
"Why?" questioned Jack, with surprise. "What's the matter?"
"Well, there are several matters!" declared Jimmie. "I don't feel that we'd gain anything by chasing him. The 'U-13' package is not in our possession and he knows it. Besides, he's a clever guy and we might get the worst of it if we step out of our way to go after him."
"I agree with Jimmie," announced Ned. "Let's get aboard the Lena Garlic and get started on our way as soon as possible."
"You mean Lena Knobloch!" corrected Harry.
"It's the same thing!" declared Ned. "Knobloch means garlic!"
"All right, then, let's get going!" agreed Jack.
The boys lost little time in proceeding to their hotel, where they went directly to their room. Here a scene of confusion awaited them. Their possessions lay scattered around in disorder.
"Well, Great Frozen Hot Boxes!" cried Jimmie. "What's this?"
"Mackinder and Norton again, I'll bet my head!" said Jack.
"Weren't satisfied with their first search," agreed Jimmie.
"Came back here and went through everything. Then I'll bet Mackinder grabbed that milk cart and dogs, slipped on an old lady's dress and chased down to the dock to see if he could stop us!" put in Jack. "When he found we were armed he just cut it and ran away!"
"Boys, we will do well to pack up and get aboard that vessel as quickly as possible!" declared Ned. "Through a mistake we're under suspicion, and it won't pay us to remain here another minute!"
Replacing their belongings in the bags with skill and despatch the lads were soon ready. They at once proceeded to the dock.
Tramping aboard they proceeded to the cabin at the after end of the vessel. Entering they discovered Captain von Kluck seated at the little table. Before him was a bottle and a glass.
"Well, Captain," began Ned, "we're here and ready to go!"
"So-o-o?" queried von Kluck. "Vhell, if you're reatty to go, vhy go! But you don'd go on dis schip. Vhe don'd carry bassengers!"
A DIFFICULT DEPARTURE
Astounded at the statement of the captain, whom they had begun to regard as a friend but whose present manner indicated anything but friendship, the boys glanced at each other in some degree of alarm.
"Just what do you mean by that, Captain?" inquired Ned. "I thought it was understood that we were to have passage on your boat!"
"Vhell, den I forgot dot vhe don'd carry bassengers!"
"And I suppose it took Mackinder to refresh your memory!" snapped Jimmie, stepping forward with an outward thrust of his chin.
At the mention of Mackinder's name the captain gave a quick start. His glance at Jimmie was one of uneasiness and alarm.
"Vot do you know about Mackinter?" he inquired.
"I know this," stated Jimmie, angrily. "He's a fake and if you know when you're well off you'll let go your lines right now!"
"Yes, Captain," added Ned, "we found Mackinder trying to detain us because he fancies we have done something wrong or because he thinks we have something he wants. Who he may be we don't know!"
"I know!" stated the captain, stoutly. "I know dot feller is a officer in der British army, und vhen he says shtay, den I shtay!"
"An officer in the British army!" gasped Jimmie.
"I think I see now why he wants that package!" declared Ned. "He thinks that we are bringing some instructions or something to the submarine named 'U-13' and he's trying to intercept the despatches!"
"Well, he's welcome to the 'U-13' package as far as we're concerned!" maintained Jimmie. "What we want is to get home to the little old U. S. A., and that right quick. So, Captain, we'll go now, if you please!"
"No!" decided the captain bluntly. "Vhe don'd go!"
"But you may listen to reason!" said Jimmie, drawing his automatic. "I don't like to hold you up, but you're going to get out of town right now and we're going with you!"
"Put dot gun oop!" cried the captain, starting from his seat.
"I will on one condition!" declared the boy. "If you get under way at once without any more monkey business I'll keep it in my pocket. If you don't I'll use it! We are neutral and we're going to remain neutral if we have to fight to do so!"
"Vhell, I guess dere's no real goot reason vhy vhe shouldn't go, anyhow!" decided the captain. "Mackinter don'd got no license to shtop us. Aber he don'd like id, he couldt lump id!"
"Now you're talking sense!" declared Jimmie. "But, remember! No tricks, or we'll feel like starting something ourselves!"
"All right!" consented von Kluck, secretly anxious to help the boys. "Chust come along und make me leaf port. Dot let's me ouid!"
Upon von Kluck's appearing at the companionway the crew immediately assumed an air of attention. Some were grouped about the capstan, where they were watching the sky and speculating on the character of the approaching storm. Others were occupied at various duties about the vessel. Every man seemed to stand in fear of the captain.
Bawling out a hoarse order, von Kluck at once assumed command of the deck. Lines were thrown down from the belaying pins. A group of men tailed onto the halyards, hoisting the foresail, staysail and jib.
The Lena Knobloch was a schooner-rigged vessel with two masts. The boys noted with a considerable degree of satisfaction that she was built along clipper lines, vastly different from the round-bowed type of vessel commonly seen in those waters.
Under jib, staysail and foresail the vessel swung around as the dock lines were let go. Gathering speed with the force of a favorable wind the little vessel plunged ahead. Von Kluck was evidently planning on leaving the harbor without the use of a tug—a somewhat difficult, if not dangerous, experiment.
Urged by the vociferous driving of the mate men were already hauling on the halyards of the mainsail. With the added press of sail the Lena Knobloch heeled over until her lee rail was nearly awash.
A strong wind was coming out of the northwest, favoring the maneuver of von Kluck, but kicking up considerable commotion on the harbor. Waves were running so high as to make navigation of small craft exceedingly difficult if not dangerous.
Carrying full staysail, jib, foresail and mainsail the schooner plunged into the waves, sending cascades of water over her forecastle with every leap. She was loaded deeply and the boys could see that she would prove to be what the sailors term a "wet ship."
Every moment the speed was increasing. The mate had trimmed the sheets to the exact point for greatest efficiency.
Suddenly all hands were startled by a hail from a point on the starboard bow. They saw a small motor boat riding dizzily upon the crest of a wave one moment to be dropped out of sight in the trough the next.
"Ahoy, the Knobloch!" came a cry.
"Ahoy, the launch!" bawled out the mate in a voice of thunder. "What do you want? Stand off or we'll run you down!"
"We want those passengers of yours!" was the reply.
"All right, come on and get 'em!" yelled the mate above the noise of singing wind in the rigging. "We can't stop now!"
"If you don't heave to I'll fire!" was the answer.
"Good night!" cried Jimmie from a position near the lee rail, where he could look out beneath the main boom. "That's Mackinder!"
A revolver shot sounded amidst the tumult of rushing waters and singing rigging. The echo was quickly bitten off by the rising wind. The shot sounded dully above the humming and roaring.
Before Ned could detain him Jimmie fired. Faintly the boys heard a crash aboard the motor boat. The green starboard sidelight of the launch disappeared. Urged on by the tremendous press of wind in her sails the Lena Knobloch was fast dropping the launch astern.
No other shots were fired at the schooner. Scrambling from his position at the starboard rail Jimmie made his way aft to a point beside the helmsman. Here he peered eagerly into the darkness astern.
"I can't see them at all!" he announced, turning presently to his companions, who were grouped about the little skylight.
"Perhaps we've shaken them off for keeps!" ventured Jack. "Did you see who that was with Mackinder?"
"I thought," said Harry, "that it was his pal, Norton!"
"Well, they're safely out of reach now!" declared Ned. "I'm glad of it, too! If we can hold on at this gait we'll soon reach a port in England, where we can transship the Grey Eagle and get home."
"I only hope the real 'U-13' doesn't come along and demand that package from us!" laughed Harry. "They might take a notion to send us to the bottom if we don't deliver it on demand!"
"Let us hope they're busy on the west coast of England by this time!" suggested Jack. "I don't want any more 'U-13' in mine!"
"Vhat's dot about der 'U-13'?" inquired von Kluck, coming up to the little group. "Is id der 'U-13' dot you're skipping?"
In a few words Ned related the important details of their experience with the 'U-13' package and with Mackinder.
"And so," the boy concluded, "we were just hoping that the real 'U-13' wouldn't show up and claim the package that we haven't got!"
"No danger!" reassured von Kluck. "Dis vindt keeps dose fellers under vasser deep! Dey like rough vedder not at all!"
"Hurrah!" joyfully cried Jimmie. "Blow, winds; blow hard!" the lad continued, stretching his hands to windward in an appealing attitude. "Blow hard enough to keep the submarines submarooned!"
A laugh went round as the boys listened to Jimmie's coined word. They were all heartily in sympathy with the expressed wish that the wind would blow hard enough to keep the submarines from the surface.
"But, den," continued von Kluck, with a frown that wrinkled his heavy brows, "dot's not all. Dere's mines floatin' round der Nord Sea dot dem verdom Deutsches blanted. Maybe vhe hit one of dem und if vhe do—"
Here the captain shrugged his shoulders, spreading his hands palm upward and extending them with a final toss aloft to indicate the hopelessness of a situation such as he intimated might befall them.
"Can't we dodge a mine?" queried Jimmie.
"Sure, if vhe can see id!" declared von Kluck.
"That's the trouble," explained Ned. "These mines float deep and before a ship can know of its danger—Bang!"
"Well, Ned," announced Jimmie with a grin, as he wrinkled his freckled nose, "I'll tell you what I'll do. I'll bet you my old hat that if we do hit a mine and get blown up I go higher than you do!"
"All right," agreed Ned, laughing in spite of the seriousness of the situation. "We'll ask von Kluck to be the judge."
"Von Kluck don't seem to be very much worried over the prospect of hitting a mine!" declared Jimmie. "I guess we're all right!"
"Und now," announced the captain, "come to der cabin und eat!"
The boys needed no second invitation. They were soon seated about the little table, where they found great slabs of cheese set out on a plate. Loaves of hard, black bread were placed upon the table by the steward, who withdrew to presently reappear bearing a great pot of steaming coffee. Von Kluck refreshed himself with a glass of his beloved "schnapps," then fell to heartily upon the bread and cheese, motioning to the boys to do likewise.
With considerable relish the lads made a good lunch off the bread and cheese and coffee. Hard and dark, but possessing considerable nutriment, the bread was not at all unpleasant to the taste. It had been plentifully seasoned with small seeds, which lent an appetizing flavor.
Shortly after finishing their lunch the boys again gained the deck, to find the mate actively driving the men in their various duties. The wind still came out of the northwest with a stinging snap. Ned declared that he could feel rain approaching.
"Feels to me more like snow!" stated Jimmie, sniffing to windward. "We'll be getting outside the Friesian Islands soon and then we'll find out what's coming. We're somewhat protected here."
"How long will it be before we pass into the North Sea, Captain von Kluck?" asked Ned of the captain, who approached.
"Vhe might make id by morning," stated the captain. "I vish I make a swift voyage dis time. If Mackinter gets news to England ahead of me, maybe he makes droubles by das Lena Knobloch."
"So you're carrying all the canvas you dare?" asked Harry.
"Chust now, yes! Maybe vhen vhe come about und head up into der vindt vhe get oop der tops'ls und put oop uuder vun chib. I reach off a goot vays und leaf Amsterdam und der vest coast of der Zuider Zee, den I make vun straight reach und run ouid by Eijerlandsche Gut."
"Then I'm going below to try for a little sleep!" declared Jimmie. "I'm not needed on deck and this wind is too cold for comfort!"
"I'll go with you and keep you company," volunteered Jack.
"We'll all go," added Harry. "Come on, Ned."
Clinging to hand rails the lads scrambled below. The deck leaned at an angle that made walking almost impossible. Every plunge sent shivers through the little vessel. Tons of water broke over the bows and dashed along the planks to rush hissing through the scuppers.
In the cabin a lamp swung wildly from a beam overhead, throwing weird, dancing shadows on the bulkheads. Here the noises of the wind were hushed. Only a moaning from the taut rigging reached the ears of the four lads. But the cabin was full of eerie sounds of creaking timbers and straining planks. For some time the boys lay on lockers listening to the confusion of noises. Presently they fell asleep.
They were wakened by the sound of tramping feet on deck, and knew that some maneuver was about to be executed. Coils of rigging were flung on deck. The stentorian voice of the mate bawled out orders.
"Stand by to come about!" roared you Kluck over their heads.
A WARNING FROM THE SEA
Springing from their resting places the four boys staggered up the unsteady companionway. As they gained the deck they were assailed by terrific gusts of wind carrying sleet and snow. During their stay below the weather had turned colder, bringing fitful dashes of sleet out of the north. The schooner presently rode easier.
A hoarse order from forward was followed by a clanking of the cable through the hawse pipes. The sails rattled with great slapping noises as the Lena Knobloch rode to her anchor.
Men were instantly aloft securing the lighter topsails. With a run the foresail and mainsail were lowered and furled. The staysail and jib had but a moment before been lowered as the schooner was headed into the wind. Under bare poles they rode on gentler swells.
"Where are we?" asked Harry, throwing up an arm to protect his face. "Have we reached England yet? Where is the captain?"
"Vhell, how do you like id now?" roared the voice of von Kluck almost at Harry's elbow. "Vhat you tink of dis for some shtorm?"
"This is fierce!" replied the lad, bracing himself against the wind. "Where are we now, Captain von Kluck?"
"Under der lee of one of der Friesian Islands," replied the captain. "I see some rocks aheadt und dere is a big shteamer in drouble oop to vindvard. I hope she makes id into safety, bud I don'd know!"
Shaking his head doubtfully the captain went away forward. Presently he returned, still shaking his head. The crew except the captain and the mate were gathered forward round the capstan.
"Dere's rocks dere—lots of dem!" announced von Kluck. "Dot wessel looks like she's lost her rutter, und if she gets off dem rocks dot captain needs a medal. I tink he's a goner, sure!"
It did, indeed, appear as if von Kluck was right. A big cargo steamer, now dimly discernible to the boys, was rolling in the trough of a heavy sea, urged on by a vicious wind from the northwest. Her range lights showed clearly at the mast heads. A gleam of red indicated that the vessel was showing her port side. With every roll great masses of water boarded the weather rail, sweeping the decks of every movable object.
"Look!" cried the mate, excitedly pointing toward the steamer.
There was no need of explanation. A great mass of rock directly in the path upon which the steamer was drifting sent gigantic columns of water into the air with every wave. Although the eastern sky showed a tinge of gray the blackness upon the water was intense. It was lightened momentarily by the white smother of spray and foam cast upward as wave after wave broke upon the black and threatening menace lying immediately before the apparently doomed vessel.
"Py golly, he's all right!" yelled von Kluck in a moment. "He's lost dot rutter und he's backing on his enchines! He'll make id!"
Surely enough the steamer's captain was executing the very maneuver at which von Kluck had guessed. By backing on his engines he succeeded in drawing the vessel so far to one side of the dangerous rock that it was passed. Only a margin extremely narrow intervened.
But the danger had not passed. Another rock threatened to tear to pieces the all but helpless vessel. With straining eyes and beating hearts the lads watched anxiously as this danger was also cleared.
They clung to the weather shrouds in spite of the whip-like sting of sleet and spray, watching the struggle against wind, wave and rock.
At length the vessel won through the dangerous places. It was now so close that the boys could make out the details of the rigging. Ned procured a pair of binoculars and spelled out the name.
"That steamer is the Anne of Melbourne," he announced. "I wonder if it isn't an Australian vessel. They have had a hard time of it."
"She's close to us now," cried Harry. "I wonder what they'll do."
"If they're wise they'll let go an anchor and ride it out," answered Jimmie. "If I had sense enough to bring a vessel through a tight place like that I'd get a hook overboard as soon as I could."
"That's just what they are doing!" announced Ned. "There's a group of men at the forward end preparing to get the anchor over."
Directly the boys heard the rattle of the cable in the steamer's hawse pipes, followed instantly by a great splash at the bow that told as plainly as words that the ground tackle was out.
Still feeling the heave of waves surging around the head of the island the steamer slowly swung to her cable. The range lights shifted their position. The red side light disappeared.
"She's safe now!" cried Ned, in a tone of relief. "I'm glad they made it all right. I wonder how they got crippled."
"Let me take the glasses a minute, Ned," requested Harry.
"Can you see what's the matter with her?" queried Jimmie.
"Yes," replied the boy, with the glasses to his eye. "Von Kluck was right. It looks as if the rudder stock is twisted and bent badly out of shape. As the stern lifts I can see the blades of the propeller all right, but the rudder seems to be missing."
"The Anne of Melbourne," mused Ned. "I wonder now what that vessel is doing away off up here. If they had a cargo destined for an English port they should have been much farther south."
"You don't suppose the captain lost his reckoning and got this far out of his course, do you?" suggested Jimmie.
"I don't know," replied Ned. Then turning to Captain von Kluck the lad continued: "Captain, what do you think about it?"
"Mit der var doing so many tings, I don'd know what to tink!"
"I can see men moving about on deck now, apparently clearing up the recent damage," stated Harry. "And I see a Boy Scout, too!"
"No!" objected Jimmie. "Don't say that! I don't want any more Boy Scouts mixed up in this! It isn't fair!"
"Just the same, he's there!" laughed Harry.
"Well, then," stated Jimmie, with a sigh of resignation, "we are in for another siege of it. I never knew it to fail! Just as quickly as we get going somewhere and a Boy Scout shows up there's trouble ahead and lots of it! Why can't they stay home?"
"Now, Jimmie," cautioned Ned, "you know we've never in all our adventures found a Boy Scout that really brought us ill luck. Sometimes they've caused us a lot of trouble, but usually they help!"
"That's true, too, but I wish we could get home to the little old U. S. A. without mixing up in this 'U-13' business with the Boy Scouts!"
"Maybe it'll come out all right after all," soothed Ned.
"Maybe," reluctantly agreed Jimmie. "I say, Harry," he continued, "let me take those glasses. I want to see what that fellow's like."
Long and eagerly the lad peered through the binoculars.
"I see him!" he cried, presently. "He's going up the foreshrouds! I'll bet he's working his passage on that steamer!"
"What's he doing on the foreshrouds?" asked Ned.
"It looks as if something had fouled at the fore top," replied Jimmie. "He's going up to clear it, I guess. Oh, look!" the boy shouted. "He's falling! He's broken one of the ratlines and is falling!"
"I see him!" cried Ned. "I can see him!"
"Oh, good!" exclaimed Jimmie, the next moment. "He hit the shrouds and the steamer rolled at the right minute, throwing him clear of the deck. See that splash in the water?"
"I see it!" answered the others, together.
"Are they trying to help him?" asked Harry.
"Yes, they are," stated Jimmie. "They've thrown him a ring buoy!"
"Can you see him now?" asked Ned.
"Yes, and he's swimming. There must be a current in here that's dragging him away from the steamer. The buoy fell short and he's swimming directly away from the steamer. He's coming towards us!"
Intently the lad watched the one in the water. He swam a good stroke resting easily, even though somewhat impeded by his clothing.
Now and again as the crest of a wave approached the swimmer his head was submerged, only to reappear again in the yeasty froth following the racing monster. Eagerly his progress was noted by all on board the schooner. They were at a loss to understand why he had left his own vessel to swim toward a strange craft.
Presently, however, as he approached the Lena Knobloch the lad's strokes became more feeble. He was evidently tiring rapidly.
"Captain, what do you say to getting a boat over?" asked Ned.
"Vhait!" grunted von Kluck. "Id's lots of vork to do id!"
"But the lad may need help!" urged Ned, eagerly.
"Vhell, if he needs id, I put him ofer. Nod before!"
Jimmie ran forward into the very eyes of the schooner. In his hands he grasped a ring buoy, to which was attached a goodly length of line. This he coiled ready to heave the buoy to the one in the water as soon as he should come within reach.
Just as Jimmie was measuring with his eye the distance separating the swimmer from his goal and preparing for a mighty throw of the buoy he noted that the other's stroke was fast weakening.
With a jerk the Wolf unfastened and kicked loose a shoe. In an instant the other followed. A rapid movement loosened his jacket. A backward twist of his shoulders helped him slip from the garment.
One look over the rail showed that the swimmer was losing control of his muscles. Both hands went up into the air only to disappear beneath the crest of an oncoming wave. The boy stayed under.
"Stand by to get me, boys!" shouted Jimmie.
A splash told that he had gone overboard. His companions crowded eagerly to the rail, watching for his reappearance. In a moment they were relieved to see his red head come up close to the spot where the other had sunk. Emptying his lungs of the pent up air with a loud "Whoosh!" the boy instantly refilled them to plunge again under water.
To the intense satisfaction of those on board the schooner he again came quickly to the surface, this time dragging by the hair the boy to whose rescue he had gone. Swimming on his back, using but one hand, Jimmie slowly brought the other lad to a position where he could reach the buoy flung to him by Ned's strong arm.
Harry had already made a bowline in a bight at the end of a line. This he passed over the side to Jimmie, who succeeded without difficulty in getting the loop over the shoulders of the rescued lad.
Soon both were on deck, where they received the attentions of all hands. Captain von Kluck insisted upon giving the newcomer a draught of "schnapps" to assist in the reviving process. As the fiery liquor burned its way down his throat the lad coughed violently.
Choking and spitting the lad clawed at his burning mouth and throat. Evidently he thought the cure worse than the disease.
"Let's get into the cabin," suggested Jimmie. "I'm freezing!"
"Sure enough!" cried Ned. "How thoughtless of us! Captain," he added, "can you have the steward bring us some coffee?"
Roaring for the steward to perform this service, the captain picked up the nearly drowned lad in his strong arms. He deposited the boy on a locker in the cabin, then stood aside to permit his passengers to administer such assistance as they might.
Ned stepped forward to begin operations. With a cry he bent over the boy. Wonderingly the others crowded forward.
"Frank!" cried Ned, seizing the lad by the shoulders. "Frank! Speak to me! Frank, how did you get here?"
"Who is it?" asked Jimmie, elbowing his way into the group to a position where he could see the recumbent figure. "Why," continued the boy in a tone of amazement, "if it ain't old Frank Shaw of New York!"
A cup of steaming coffee at this moment brought by the steward was offered to the newcomer, who drank eagerly. He glanced about the group with a faint smile in answer to their puzzled looks.
"Look out for the 'U-13', boys!" he said.
MORE ABOUT THE "U-13"
"Frank Shaw!" cried Jimmie, crowding close to the lad lying on the locker. "What's that you're saying about the 'U-13'?"
"I say 'Look out for it,' that's all!"
"No, it isn't all!" protested the boy. "Take another drink of this coffee and then brace up and tell us what you know! How did you get here and what and who and where and why is this 'U-13'?"
Frank smiled as he struggled to a sitting posture.
"If you'll rub the cramp out of that leg, boys, I'll 'fess up' everything," he began. "That leg feels as if some one were trying to pull some teeth out of it by the roots. A cramp is fierce."
Two lads began massaging the offending member.
"If I'd known it was you swimming to us, I'd have lowered a boat myself and come to your assistance!" declared Jimmie.
"And if I'd known you were on board this schooner," replied Frank, "I'd have left that ship long before I did!"
"Why, what's the matter on that ship, Frank?" asked Ned.
"Oh, nothing, only it's one of these 'work-houses' just exactly like we have read of. The captain is a hard nut and the mates are both of the 'bucko' type. There isn't a man aboard who hasn't got a mark from one or the other of the mates. They're a tough crowd!"
"I'll bet you didn't just fall overboard, then!" shrewdly guessed Jimmie. "You missed your footing purposely! You know you did!"
"How do you know?" grinned Frank, nursing his cramped leg.
"I was watching through the binoculars," answered Jimmie. "But go ahead and tell us something. We're dying from curiosity!"
"Well," began Frank, "you know I wasn't quite satisfied to be left behind when you four lads left in chase of the fellow who had stolen the Panama plans. I wanted to go along in the Grey Eagle."
"We know that, and we're sorry we didn't take you!" cried Ned.
"I went to see Mr. Bosworth about following you," continued young Shaw. "He was opposed to that plan, but you know I usually get my own way somehow. I put together a kit and started out. I had little difficulty in securing passage on a ship loaded with miscellaneous cargo for England. The vessel was a British tramp—a 'bucko' ship.
"We got close to Land's End after a rather uneventful voyage across the Atlantic. I was dreaming of getting ashore in a short time and then hiking across the channel into France to hunt you up.
"One fine morning we were all startled to hear a hail from the lookout informing the deck that a submarine was approaching. We hove to at the command of the submarine people. They commanded our captain to get his crew into the boats as quickly as possible, for in five minutes they intended torpedoing the ship. They wouldn't take 'No' for an answer."
"That was going some, I must say!" put in Jimmie.
"You needn't be told, of course," went on Frank, "that we lost little time making preparations. One of the sailors disputed my right to take my kit into the small boat. I objected and he cracked me on the jaw. When I recovered I was alone on the vessel. The boats were at some little distance away, with the crew pulling like racers.
"For a moment I was quite desperate, not knowing how to escape. I thought of trying to signal the submarine, but could see the vessel just launching a torpedo. Seemingly the whole after end of the ship was shattered by the explosion. As soon as I could I tried to signal the enemy, but they were just turning about to leave the spot.
"Maybe I didn't hustle about some. The ship was already filling rapidly. The stern was settling fast. All the boats were gone. I could see nothing to serve as a float. Desperately I seized a capstan bar and knocked the wedges and battens off a hatch cover. Then I got a small piece of line. I passed it through a ring bolt and made fast. I figured that when the ship went down the cover would float free for a raft on which I could keep up. Before I was fully ready the compressed air blew the cover off with a 'boom'. It landed close to the rail.
"Just as the hull took a last slant I jumped overboard. After swimming quite a distance away I saw the ship go down. I turned back. There was my hatch cover floating just as I expected."
Here Frank paused to extend his hand for another cup of coffee.
"You're the wise little Scout!" declared Jimmie, admiringly.
"Sure!" agreed Frank. "Then," he continued, "I floated around for the rest of the day on that hatch cover. Toward evening I saw a smoke off to the southwest. It was just out of the glare of the sun. When it got nearer I knew it was a steamer bound for England or some nearby place. It was the Anne of Melbourne. So here I am!"
"But what about this 'U-13'?" inquired Harry, eagerly.
"Oh, yes, I nearly forgot," said Frank. "The submarine that torpedoed the ship was marked 'U-13' on the side!"
"They've been doing a lot of that, according to the newspapers!" stated Ned. "But why do you warn us to look out for her?" he asked.
"When I told the captain of the Anne of my experience," went on Frank, "he decided to head north, intending to go to the westward of Ireland, around between Scotland and the Shetland Island into the North Sea, in the hopes of dodging the submarine, which seemed to be working the waters of the English Channel. Yesterday morning we were hailed by a submarine. I could see that it was the same old 'U-13'!"
"How did it get way up here?" questioned Ned, incredulously.
"Search me!" replied Frank. "They ordered us to heave to, but that captain is a daredevil. He cracked on all steam full speed ahead, declaring that if they took him they'd have to catch him.
"The submarine launched a torpedo at us, but it only smashed our rudder. We had good headway on. That, of course, put us in a mighty bad fix, as the submarine could then have easily sent a torpedo into us, but for some unknown reason they turned and left us.
"The captain was nearly crazy when he discovered what damage had been done. The vessel had been bad enough before, but it became ten times worse. I got a crack or two with a rope's end that sting yet!"