Dave Darrin on Mediterranean Service
With Dan Dalzell on European Duty
H. IRVING HANCOCK
Author of "Dave Darrin at Vera Cruz," "Dave Darrin's South American Cruise," The West Point Series, The Annapolis Series, The Boys of the Army Series, Etc., etc.
P H I L A D E L P H I A HENRY ALTEMUS COMPANY
COPYRIGHT, 1919, BY HOWARD E. ALTEMUS
CHAPTER I—GREEN HAT, THE TROUBLE-STARTER 11
Dave Darrin and Dan Dalzell, while ashore at Gibraltar, have an exciting experience with a spy and stir up a deep mystery.
CHAPTER II—DAN'S THIRTY-THREE-DOLLAR GUESS 27
Admiral Timworth solves the mystery for the ensigns and amazes them very much.
CHAPTER III—THE STARTLER AT MONTE CARLO 43
Danny turns a trick on a brother officer. Ashore at Monte Carlo the young ensigns find the makings of future trouble.
CHAPTER IV—MR. GREEN HAT'S NEW ROLE 55
Dave loses a human trail and saves a human life. Then the plot begins to thicken.
CHAPTER V—DANNY GRIN FIGHTS A SMILE 70
Mr. Green Hat sets a trap at the gambling resort, into which Ensign Dalzell smilingly walks.
CHAPTER VI—DAVE RUNS INTO A REAL THRILL 78
A desperate plot to involve his country heard by Dave Darrin, who acts swiftly on the information he has obtained.
CHAPTER VII—THE ADMIRAL UNLOADS HIS MIND 87
Called before the Admiral, the young officers make their report. The former sends a wireless to Washington, later summoning the ensigns to his quarters for secret orders.
CHAPTER VIII—ON LIVELY SPECIAL DUTY 96
A delicate international situation is explained to Dave and Danny, who are then ordered ashore at Naples on a special and perilous mission.
CHAPTER IX—M. DALNY PLANS A TRAGEDY 102
Darrin meets one of the men he is looking for. As a result of that meeting he and Dan are sentenced to death.
CHAPTER X—TREACHERY HAS THE FLOOR 116
Enticed away for a drive, the Naval officers find themselves in a disreputable section of Naples and on the threshold of a tragedy.
CHAPTER XI—HEMMED IN BY THE BRAVOS 124
Dave and Dan are attacked by a mob of Sicilian bravos and fight a desperate battle to save their own lives.
CHAPTER XII—EVIL EYES ON SAILORMAN RUNKLE 132
The young officers now discover the real reason for the attempt on their lives, but, though they do not know it, fresh perils await them.
CHAPTER XIII—ORDERS CHANGE IN A MINUTE 138
Able Seaman Runkle, bearing an important communication from Darrin to the Captain of the U. S. S. "Hudson," gets into serious difficulties.
CHAPTER XIV—DAN HAS VERY "COLD FEET" 151
Beset by spies, the two young officers set out on a long journey after an exciting start, later finding that they have been guilty of a grave oversight.
CHAPTER XV—AT THE AMERICAN EMBASSY 161
Dave and Danny arrive in Paris, where they are the guests of the American Ambassador. Darrin trails an international plotter and makes an important discovery.
CHAPTER XVI—"SEEING" THE PARIS APACHES 179
The young ensign, after picking up a valuable clew, is attacked by savage Paris Apaches, who, angered by his defense, determine to take his life.
CHAPTER XVII—DAVE'S GUESS AT THE BIG PLOT 189
The details of a plan to involve the United States in war with England are unfolded to his Admiral by Ensign Dave.
CHAPTER XVIII—SURIGNY'S NEXT MOVE 198
English and American officers join hands and one gets a remarkable message from an international plotter as the trail grows hot.
CHAPTER XIX—TRUTH, OR FRENCH ROMANCE 207
Dave meets an acquaintance and listens to an astounding confession.
CHAPTER XX—THE ALLIES CLEAR FOR ACTION 213
"A submarine will sink the British battleship to-night," is the startling information imparted by Dave to his companions.
CHAPTER XXI—MAKING STERN WORK OF IT 223
The young American Naval officer in command of a boarding party on the plotter's yacht, is neatly trapped.
CHAPTER XXII—AFTER THE PEST OF THE SEAS 233
Ensign Darrin and his crew on the Navy launch make an exciting discovery after accomplishing a brilliant capture.
CHAPTER XXIII—THE PUZZLE OF THE DEEP 240
While engaged in a thrilling chase after an undersea boat the launch's company find the tables unexpectedly turned on them.
CHAPTER XXIV—CONCLUSION 249
The pursuit comes to a stirring finish, with Able Seaman Runkle's reputation saved and Ensign Darrin highly honored.
ON MEDITERRANEAN SERVICE
GREEN HAT, THE TROUBLE-STARTER
"Dan," whispered Dave Darrin, Ensign, United States Navy, to his chum and brother officer, "do you see that fellow with the green Alpine hat and the green vest?"
"Yes," nodded Dan Dalzell.
"He's a powerful brute, and it looks as though he's spoiling for a fight."
"You are not going to oblige him, are you?" asked Dalzell in a whisper, betraying surprise.
"Nothing like it," Darrin responded disgustedly. "Danny Grin, don't you credit me with more sense than that? Do you imagine I'd engage in a fight in a place like this?"
"Then why are you interested in what the fellow might do?" demanded Ensign Dan.
"Because I think there is going to be a lively time here. That fellow under the Alpine hat is equal to at least four of these spindling Spanish waiters. There is going to be trouble within four minutes, or I'm a poor guesser."
"Just let Mr. Green Hat start something," chuckled Ensign Dalzell in an undertone. "There are plenty of stalwart British soldiers here, and 'Tommy Atkins' never has been known to be averse to a good fair fight. The soldiers will wipe up the floor with him. Then there is the provost guard, patrolling the streets of Gibraltar. If Mr. Green Hat grows too noisy the provost guard will gather him in."
"And might also gather us in, if the provost officer thought us intelligent witnesses," muttered Darrin.
"That would be all right, too," grinned Dan. "There is bound to be a British army officer in command of the provost guard. As soon as we handed him cards showing us to be American naval officers he'd raise his cap to us, and that would be the end of it."
"I don't like to be present at rows in a place of this kind," Ensign Darrin insisted.
"Then we'd better be going," proposed Ensign Dalzell.
The place was Gibraltar, and the time nine o'clock in the evening. The two friends were seated well back in one of the several Spanish vaudeville theatres that flourish more or less in the city on the Great Rock, even in such times as this period of the great European War.
The theatre was not a low place, or it would not have been permitted to exist in Gibraltar, which, even in peace times, is under the strictest military rule, made much more strict at the beginning of the great war. The performance was an ordinary one and rather dull. At the moment three Spanish women occupied the stage, going rather hopelessly through the steps of an aimless dance, while three musicians ground out the music for the dancers. The next number, as announced on a card that hung at one side of the stage, was to be a pantomime.
One particularly unpleasant feature only was to be noted in the place. Wines and liquors were served to those who chose to order them, Spanish waiters passing up and down the aisles in search of custom.
Mr. Green Hat, to the knowledge of Ensigns Darrin and Dalzell, had been a much too frequent customer. He was now arguing with two waiters about an alleged mistake in the changing of the money he had handed one of them. From angry remonstrance Mr. Green Hat was now resorting to abusive language.
"I'd like to implant a wallop under that rowdy's chin," muttered Dan Dalzell, as he started to rise.
"Don't try it," warned Ensign Dave, as he, too, rose.
Just then the lightning struck; the storm broke.
With an angry bellow, Mr. Green Hat leaped to his feet, knocking down one of the waiters. Four others rushed to the spot. The five promptly assailed Mr. Green Hat, and were swiftly reinforced by the one who had been floored.
But the stalwart, active brawler proved to be too much for the combined force of the waiters. As if they had been so many reeds, Mr. Green Hat brushed them aside with his fists.
"Grab the bloomin' rotter and throw 'im h'out!" bellowed a "Tommy Atkins," as the British soldier is collectively known.
A new note, in a decidedly American tone of protest, rose above the uproar.
"How dare you? What do you mean, fellow?" demanded a young man in a gray traveling suit, glaring up from the floor, to which he, an unoffending occupant of an aisle seat, had suddenly been hurled.
It was too much for Dan Dalzell, who promptly attempted to seize Mr. Green Hat as that individual, with the momentum of a steam roller, rushed up the aisle.
Dalzell reached out a hand to grip Mr. Green Hat by the collar. All too promptly a heavy fist smote Dan in the chest, knocking him back into the arms of Dave Darrin. Dave himself could not act quickly enough to avenge the blow that had been dealt his chum, because Dan's body blocked the way.
Four or five British soldiers at the rear of the little theatre tried to intercept Mr. Green Hat as he dashed up the aisle. Three of the "Messrs. Atkins" went to the floor, under the seats, while the others were brushed aside, and Mr. Green Hat reached the street.
"Stop that thief!" roared the young man in the gray suit. "He has robbed me!"
By this time Dalzell was again on his feet and out in the aisle. He sprinted for the street, followed closely by Dave Darrin. The young man in the gray suit, his face pallid, plunged after the young naval officers.
"You're an American, aren't you?" called Dave, over his shoulder.
"Yes," answered he of the gray suit, "and in official life at Washington, too. That scoundrel has robbed me of something of value to the United States government."
That was enough for Darrin and Dalzell. Though the charge might prove to be false, it was enough to cancel Dave's scruples against fighting.
Out into the street ahead of them ran a waiter, who had taken no part in the scrimmage, waving his arms and shouting:
"Esta direccion!" ("This way!")
"Sigue andando!" ("Keep right on!") roared Danny Grin, darting down the street at a hard pace.
But a moment later both naval officers, followed by the young man in gray and the waiter, came to a halt, for, directly ahead of them, on the well-lighted street, suddenly appeared a patrol detachment of the British provost guard.
"Did you stop the fellow who ran this way, sir?" hailed Ensign Darrin, as he recognized the uniform of the British infantry officer in command of the detachment.
"We didn't see any man running this way," replied the British lieutenant, smartly returning the salute that Ensign Darrin had given him.
"Didn't see any fellow running?" repeated three Americans, in tones of bewilderment.
"We were chasing a thief, sir," Darrin continued, "and this waiter told us that the fugitive ran this way."
"I—I thought he did," stammered the waiter in Spanish, though it was now plain that he understood English.
In deep disgust and with dawning suspicion, Dave Darrin glared at the waiter until that fellow changed color and trembled slightly. Dave was now certain that the waiter, probably by previous arrangement, had shielded the escape of Mr. Green Hat.
Turning to the English officer, Dave quickly recounted what had happened. At the same time he introduced himself and Dan as American naval officers, and both tendered their cards.
"And you, sir? Who are you, and what did you lose?" inquired the British officer, turning to the young man in the gray suit.
"May I answer that question to an officer of my own country?" appealed the young man in the gray suit.
"Yes," assented the British officer, after keenly regarding the stranger who claimed to have been robbed.
"Will you step a few yards down the street with me?" urged the unknown American, addressing Dave.
"Certainly," Darrin nodded, for he saw insistent appeal in the stranger's gaze.
"Mr. Darrin," began the stranger, using the name he had heard Dave announce in the introductions to the Britisher, "do you really belong to the American Navy?"
"I do, indeed," Darrin answered. "I am attached to the battleship 'Hudson,' now lying in this harbor."
"Then I will introduce myself," continued the young man in the gray suit. "My name is George Cushing. Do you recognize the meaning of this?"
"This" proved to be a small gold badge, revealed by Cushing as he turned back the lapel of his coat. It was a badge worn by men belonging to a special branch of the secret service of the American Department of State. The members of this special service are usually found, if found at all, on duty in foreign countries.
"I know the badge, Mr. Cushing," nodded Dave Darrin. "Now, what have you to tell me?"
"That big man with the green hat must have started that fight with the waiters in the theatre to cover his intended attack on me," Cushing replied. "At the moment of knocking me down, he snatched from my coat pocket and made off with a most important document."
"Then you almost deserved to lose it, sir," replied Darrin sternly, "as a punishment for wasting your time in such a place as that theatre."
"I must see the American admiral as soon as possible," urged Cushing, ignoring Darrin's reproof. "But first of all, I must ask you to pass me safely by that provost guard, or I might be detained at a time when I cannot afford to lose a single instant. You will vouch for me, won't you, Mr. Darrin? Here are my formal credentials," continued Cushing, producing and unfolding a wallet that contained properly sealed and signed credentials from the American Department of State.
"The paper that was stolen from you did not in any way relate to the defenses and fortifications here at Gibraltar, did it?" Dave asked.
"Not in the least," Cushing replied promptly.
"You give me your word of honor for that?" Dave asked bluntly.
"Do you believe I'd waste my time on such rubbish as that?" demanded Cushing, scornfully. "Why, every civilized government on earth possesses accurate plans of the fortifications at Gibraltar! I give you my word of honor, Mr. Darrin, that the paper stolen from me did not in any way relate to the Gibraltar fortifications."
"Then I'll do my best to get you by the provost guard," Ensign Darrin promised, turning to lead the way back.
"Sir," Dave announced to Lieutenant Abercrombie, commanding the provost guard detachment, "I beg to report, on what I regard as the best of authority, that there is no reason why my countryman, Mr. Cushing, should be detained by you."
"Then that of which he claims to have been robbed is nothing that could officially interest me?" pressed the British officer.
"I am certain that the matter could not interest a British officer, except in his desire to see a thief caught," Ensign Darrin vouched.
"That is all, then," replied Lieutenant Abercrombie. "Gentlemen, you are at liberty to proceed on your way."
In the meantime the Spanish waiter had slipped back to the theatre.
Dave and Dan saluted, the Englishman doing the same. Then Lieutenant Abercrombie gave each of these brothers in arms a hearty handclasp. The men of the provost guard parted to allow the three Americans to pass on their way.
"And now where do you wish to go, Mr. Cushing?" Dave inquired, after they had passed the British provost guard.
"I suppose you expect me to search for the thief," rejoined the man from the State Department. "But that would now be worse than a waste of time. Gibraltar, quaint Moorish city that it is, is so full of holes in the wall that it would be impossible to find the thief, for he will not venture out again to-night. The best thing I can do will be to go straight to the American admiral, and you gentlemen, I imagine, can take me there."
"A launch will put off from the mole for the flagship at ten o'clock," Dave informed him. "We may as well go down to the mole and wait."
Twice, on the way, after leaving the more crowded parts of the city behind, the three were challenged by English sentries invisible in the darkness.
"Who goes there?" came the sentry's hail in each instance.
"Officers from the American flagship," Darrin answered for the party.
"Pass on, gentlemen," came the response out of the darkness.
At all times strict watch over all comers outside the British army service is kept at Gibraltar, and after dark this vigilance is doubled.
"On a moonless night like this, one would imagine that Gibraltar, save for the few blocks of 'city,' held few human beings," murmured Dan, as the three continued on at a quiet walk toward the water front. "One gets the impression that there are but a few sentries, sprinkled here and there, yet we know there are thousands of British soldiers scattered over this rock."
"Hardly scattered," smiled Dave Darrin. "Except for the guard, men and officers are alike in barracks, and many of the barracks are at rather long distances from the fortifications."
Nor are the fortifications to be found along the water front. Back on the great hill of rock are gun embrasures, often cut into the face of the rock itself. Back of the embrasures are galleries cut through the stone, and here, in time of siege, the soldiers would stand behind the huge guns.
Gibraltar's harbor is small, though large enough to hold a great fleet. In the days when cannon had shorter range than now, a British fleet might have hidden in the harbor and been secure against all the fleets of the world, for the guns of the huge fortress could have sunk the combined navies of the world, had they attempted to enter the harbor. In these modern days Gibraltar is not so secure, for the heights of Algeciras, in Spain, are only about seven miles away. If Spain were at war with Great Britain, or if any other power took the heights of Algeciras from Spain, guns could be mounted on those heights that would dominate the harbor of Gibraltar. None the less, as long as war exists and the huge stone height of Gibraltar remains, the impression of strong military force will abide with the rock.
Down at the mole a British sentry stopped the trio. Near him stood a corporal and three other soldiers.
"American officers and a friend," replied Ensign Darrin, when halted by this sentry. Then the trio advanced when ordered. Lieutenant Totten, from the 'Hudson,' stepped forward, peered at Darrin and Dalzell, and said to the corporal:
"I recognize these gentlemen as officers of ours."
"And the friend?" inquired the corporal.
"The friend is an American citizen who has business with Admiral Timworth," Dave stated.
"Then it is all right," Lieutenant Totten assured the corporal.
Whereupon the British corporal permitted Cushing to step out on the mole with his companions, Darrin and Dalzell.
"Which is the flagship launch?" asked Darrin.
"The rearmost," answered Lieutenant Totten. "Ours is the only launch here. The two other launches belong to the warships of other powers."
Cushing, while this brief conversation was going on, had walked rapidly along the mole until he reached the farthest launch.
"I want you!" he shouted, bending over suddenly.
He had found and seized by the coat collar the man with the green hat.
Dave and Dan rushed to the spot, hardly knowing what they could do, as they did not want to see the representative of the American State Department lack for backing.
"Pull Cushing away from that fellow," ordered Totten.
"Is that an official order?" Dave flashed back, in a whisper.
"It is," nodded Totten, and faded back into the blackness of the night.
Dave bounded forward. He saw that the launch was one belonging to some liner or merchant ship in the harbor. Three or four men belonging in that launch had leaped to the rescue of Mr. Green Hat. Dave, with one tug, tore Cushing away.
Mr. Green Hat fell back in the launch. Two sailors belonging to that craft cast off the lines at bow and stern, and the launch glided out into the harbor.
"Why didn't you help me, instead of putting the double cross on me?" Cushing demanded, angrily.
"I had my reasons," Ensign Darrin replied, briefly.
"They must have been good ones," muttered Cushing.
"All aboard for the flagship!" announced Lieutenant Totten, in a quiet tone.
"Come along, if you're going out with us," Darrin urged Cushing.
The passengers for the flagship launch were speedily aboard. Other officers were there who had been ashore for the evening.
As the launch was cast off she glided almost noiselessly across the smooth water of the harbor, followed closely by the shifting rays of a British searchlight on shore. Ever since the great European war had started searchlights stationed on shore had followed the movements of every craft in the harbor at night. Beyond, the flagship's few lights glowed brightly. In a few minutes the party was alongside.
Dave and Dan, after saluting the officer of the deck, and reporting their presence on board, went at once to Dave's quarters.
"There was a good deal of a mix-up, somewhere," Dan announced, at once. "Why should Totten order you to drag Cushing away from Mr. Green Hat, when that rascal had robbed Cushing of valuable government papers?"
"It's too big a puzzle for me," Ensign Darrin admitted, promptly. "But Lieutenant Totten is my superior officer, and the responsibility belongs to him."
For a few minutes the two chums chatted. Dalzell was about to say good night and go to his own quarters, when an orderly rapped at the door, then entered, saluting.
"The admiral's compliments, gentlemen," said the messenger. "The admiral wishes to see Ensigns Darrin and Dalzell at once."
"Our compliments, and we will report at once," Dave answered. Both young officers were now in uniform, for Dan had left his in Dave's quarters before going ashore, and the chums had changed their clothes while chatting. It now remained only for Dave to reach for his sword and fasten it on, then draw on white gloves, while Dalzell went to his quarters, next door, and did the same.
"What can be in the wind?" whispered Dan. "This is the first time that Admiral Timworth has ever expressed any desire to see us. Can it be that we bungled in some way with the Cushing business?"
"I'm not going to waste any time in guessing," replied Ensign Darrin, as they stepped briskly along, "when I'm going to have the answer presented to me so soon."
Then they halted before the entrance to the admiral's quarters, to learn if it would be agreeable for the admiral to receive them at once.
DAN'S THIRTY-THREE-DOLLAR GUESS
As the two young officers entered the admiral's quarters the curtains were closed behind them by the marine orderly.
Admiral Timworth was seated at his desk. Beside him was Captain Allen, commanding officer of the battleship "Hudson," flagship of the Mediterranean Squadron.
Lieutenant Totten and Cushing were also present.
"Good evening, gentlemen," was Admiral Timworth's greeting, after salutes had been exchanged. "Accidentally, you became spectators this evening, at a little drama connected with both the diplomatic and the secret service of your country."
The admiral paused, but both young officers remained respectfully at attention, making no response, as none was needed.
"You are aware," continued the admiral, "that Mr. Cushing was knocked down and robbed of an important government paper. Now, it happens that this paper was the key to a code employed by the State and Navy Departments in communicating with naval commanders abroad."
This time Dave actually started. The loss of such a code would be vitally important. The State and Navy Departments almost invariably communicate with naval commanders by means of a secret code, which can be read only by commanders possessing the key. Thus, when cablegrams are sent from stations in foreign countries, their import can be understood only by the officers to whom the communications are addressed.
"That strikes you as a most serious loss, does it not?" asked Admiral Timworth, smiling.
"Why, yes, sir; so it would seem," Dave answered, bowing.
"The code that was stolen to-night," laughed the admiral, "will be of but little value to the government into whose hands it may fall. The code in question was one that was used in the year 1880, and has not been employed since. Nor is it likely ever to be employed again."
Captain Allen joined in the admiral's laugh.
"We had every reason," continued the admiral, "to believe that an attempt would be made to steal that code ere Mr. Cushing delivered it to me. In fact, our government allowed it to be rather widely known that Mr. Cushing had left Washington to turn over to me a code. So, of course, Mr. Cushing has been followed. As a matter of fact, the code that we have been using for the last six months has not been changed. I was delighted when I learned that Cushing had been assaulted and robbed. Mr. Cushing himself took the loss seriously, for he did not know, until he came aboard a few moments ago, that the United States government had hoped he would be robbed. Lieutenant Totten was sent ashore, ostensibly to look after the launch, but in reality, to learn, if possible, whether Cushing's assailant put off in the launch of another power, and if so, which power. Ensigns Darrin and Dalzell, you noted, did you not, the nationality of the launch in which Mr. Cushing's assailant escaped?"
"I did not, sir," Dave replied. "It was not a naval launch, and therefore did not belong to any ships belonging to the Entente Allies' naval vessels in port here."
"Then, gentlemen," continued Admiral Timworth, his voice in tones of formal command, "you will not at any time mention this matter to any one unless so directed by me. I have had just one object in sending for you and giving you this order. For some time our Government has known that secret efforts are being made to discredit us with the allied powers of Europe. I feel rather certain that this fleet, while in the Mediterranean, will be closely watched by plotters serving one of the Central European powers, or else acting on their own account in the hope of being able to succeed and then claim reward from that government. Keep your eyes open. You may meet other spies and have reason to suspect them to be such. Do not be fooled by the apparent nationality of any man's name. A spy uses many names in his course around the world. Few international spies ever use their own names. The man in the green hat, who assaulted Mr. Cushing to-night, is one of the cleverest of his kind, and perhaps the most able with whom we shall have to contend. The fellow's name is supposed to be Emil Gortchky. At one time or another he has served as spy for nearly every government in Europe. He is a daring, dangerous, and wholly unscrupulous fellow. Ensigns Darrin and Dalzell, I sent for you in order to tell you these things, and to add that if, during this cruise, you run across the fellow at any point, you are to report the fact to me promptly. Of course you will understand that the seal of official secrecy attaches to all that I have said. That is all, gentlemen. Good evening."
Saluting, Ensigns Darrin and Dalzell promptly withdrew. They were still a good deal puzzled.
"I'll come to your quarters in a minute, if I may," murmured Danny Grin, as he reached the door of his own cabin.
"I want you to come," Dave answered dryly.
So, in another minute, Dan Dalzell, minus sword and gloves, bobbed into Dave's room.
"Now, what do you make out of all we have heard and seen?" breathed Dalzell tensely.
"Just what the admiral told us," answered Darrin.
"Nothing more?" pressed Dan.
Dave was thoughtful for a few moments before he replied:
"Danny, boy, we have our orders from the commander of the fleet. If we encounter Mr. Green Hat anywhere in the future, we are to report the fact. That is the extent of our instructions, and I think we shall do very well not to think too much about the matter, but to be ready, at all times, to follow our orders."
"I was in hope that you could evolve something more romantic than that," returned Dalzell disappointedly.
"It is very likely," went on Dave judicially, "that we have already had as large a hand in the affair as we are going to have. I doubt if we shall hear anything more of Mr. Green Hat; even if we hear of his further deeds, we are not likely to have any personal part in them."
"I'm disappointed," Dan admitted, rising. "I'm going to bed now, for I have to be up at half-past three, to turn out on watch at eight bells. You, lucky dog, have no watch to stand until after breakfast. Good night, Dave!"
"Good night; and don't dream of Mr. Green Hat," smiled Darrin. "You'll never see him again."
In that prediction Ensign Darrin was destined to find himself fearfully wide of the mark. Mr. Green Hat was not to be so easily dropped from the future calculations of the youngest naval officers on the "Hudson."
None of our readers require any introduction to Dave Darrin and Dan Dalzell, ofttimes known as "Danny Grin." These two fast friends in the naval service were members of "Dick & Co.," a famous sextette of schoolboys in Gridley. Dick Prescott, Greg Holmes, Dave Darrin, Dan Dalzell, Tom Reade and Harry Hazelton first appeared in the pages of "THE GRAMMAR SCHOOL BOYS SERIES," in which volumes were described the early lives of these young American schoolboys.
We found the six boys again in the pages of the "HIGH SCHOOL BOYS SERIES," in the volumes of which the athletic triumphs of Dick & Co. were vividly set forth. In the "HIGH SCHOOL BOYS' VACATION SERIES" were recounted their further adventures.
At the conclusion of their high school careers the six chums separated to seek different fields of endeavor. Dick Prescott and Greg Holmes secured appointments as cadets at the United States Military Academy at West Point, as narrated in the "WEST POINT SERIES." Dave Darrin and Dan Dalzell were nominated as midshipmen to the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis, and all that befell them there is set forth in the "ANNAPOLIS SERIES." The great things that happened to Tom Reade and Harry Hazelton are told in the volumes of the "YOUNG ENGINEERS SERIES." Dick Prescott's and Greg Holmes' adventures in the Army, after graduation from West Point, are set forth in the volumes of the "BOYS OF THE ARMY SERIES."
The "DAVE DARRIN SERIES" is devoted to the lives of Dave Darrin and Dan Dalzell as naval officers, after their graduation from the Naval Academy. We now find them serving as ensigns, this being the lowest rank among commissioned officers of the United States Navy.
The first volume of this series, published under the title, "DAVE DARRIN AT VERA CRUZ," tells the story of Dave's and Dan's initial active service in the United States Navy. That our two young ensigns took an exciting part in the fighting there is known to all our readers.
For some time after the taking of Vera Cruz by the United States forces and the arrival of Regular Army regiments, Dave and Dan continued to serve with constant credit aboard the "Long Island," stationed at Vera Cruz. Then followed their detachment from the "Long Island," and their return to the United States. They were then ordered to duty with the Mediterranean Squadron, aboard the flagship "Hudson." We already know what befell them on their arrival at their first port of call, the British fortress of Gibraltar, and in the quaint old Moorish city of the same name, which stands between the fortress and the harbor.
* * * * *
Dan soon took his leave of his chum, going to his own quarters for a short sleep before going on duty at eight bells in the morning. Dave, having opportunity to sleep until shortly before breakfast, sat for some minutes pondering over his strange meeting with Mr. Green Hat, whom he now knew as Emil Gortchky, a notorious international spy.
Still puzzling, Darrin turned out the light and dropped into his berth. Once there the habit of the service came strongly upon him. He was between the sheets to sleep, so, with a final sigh, he shut out thoughts of Mr. Green Hat, of the admiral's remarks, and of the whole train of events of the evening. Within a hundred and twenty seconds he was sound asleep. It was an orderly going the rounds in the early morning who spoke to Ensign Darrin and awakened him.
"Is the ship under way?" asked Dave, rolling over and opening his eyes.
"Aye, aye, sir," responded the orderly, who then wheeled and departed.
Dave was quickly out of his berth, and dressed in time to join the gathering throng of the "Hudson's" officers in the ward-room, where every officer, except the captain, takes his meals.
"Have you heard the port for which we're bound, Danny?" Darrin asked his chum.
"Not a word," replied Dalzell, shaking his head.
"Perhaps we shall find out at breakfast," commented Dave.
A minute later the signal came for the officers to seat themselves. Then, after orders had been given to the attentive Filipino boys, who served as mess attendants, a buzz of conversation ran around the table.
Soon the heavy, booming voice of Lieutenant Commander Metson was heard as he asked Commander Dawson, the executive officer:
"Sir, are we privileged to ask our port of destination?"
This is a question often put to the executive officer of a war vessel, for ninety-nine times out of a hundred he knows the answer. He may smile and reply:
"I do not know."
Sometimes the executive officer, who is the captain's confidential man, has good reasons for not divulging the destination of the ship. In that case his denial of knowledge is understood to be only a courteous statement that he does not deem it discreet to name the port of destination.
But in this instance Commander Dawson smiled and replied:
"I will not make any secret of our destination so far as I know it. We are bound for some port on the Riviera. It may be Nice, or perhaps Monte Carlo. I am informed that the admiral has not yet decided definitely. I shall be quite ready to tell you, Mr. Metson, as soon as I know."
"Thank you, sir," courteously acknowledged the lieutenant commander.
During this interval the buzz of conversation had died down. It soon began again.
"The Riviera!" exclaimed Ensign Dalzell jubilantly, though in a low tone intended mainly for his chum's ear. "I have always wanted to see that busy little strip of beach."
The Riviera, as will be seen by reference to a map of Southern Europe, is a narrow strip of land, between the mountains and the sea, running around the Gulf of Genoa. One of the most important watering places on this long strip of beach is Nice, on French soil, where multitudes of health and pleasure seekers flock annually. The mild, nearly tropical climate of this place in winter makes Nice one of the most attractive resorts along the Riviera. Only a few miles distant from Nice is the principality of Monte Carlo, an independent state under a prince who is absolute ruler of his tiny country. Monaco is but two and a quarter miles long, while its width varies from a hundred and sixty-five yards to eleven hundred yards. Yet this "toy country" is large enough to contain three towns of fair size. The most noted town, Monte Carlo, stands mainly on a cliff, and is the location of the most notorious gambling resort in the world, the "Casino."
"I wonder," suggested one of the younger officers, in a rumbling voice, "if our Government feels that we officers have more money than we need, and so is sending us to a place where we can get rid of it by gambling. What do you say, Darrin?"
"Monte Carlo is one of the noted spots of the world," Dave responded slowly, "and I shall be glad to see a place of which I have heard and read so much. But I shall not gamble at Monte Carlo. I can make better use of my money and of my character."
"Bravo!" agreed Totten.
"How long is that strip of beach, the Riviera?" asked one officer of Lieutenant Commander Wales, the navigating officer.
"From Nice to Genoa, which is what is commonly understood as the real Riviera," replied the navigating officer; "the distance is one hundred and sixteen miles. But, beyond Genoa, on the other side, the beach continues for fifty-six miles to Spezia. On the strip from Genoa to Spezia the shore is so rocky that it has been found necessary to construct eighty-odd tunnels through the headlands for the railway that runs the whole length of the Riviera."
Most of the talk, during that breakfast hour, was about the Riviera, and much of that had to do with Monte Carlo.
"For years I've wanted very particularly to see that town of Monte Carlo," Danny Grin confessed.
"Not to gamble, I hope," replied Dave.
"Millions for sight-seeing, but not a cent for gambling," Dalzell paraphrased lightly.
"Gentlemen," warned Mr. Wales, "don't be too certain that you'll see Monte Carlo on this cruise. Often the weather is too rough for a landing in that vicinity."
"And in that case?" queried Lieutenant Totten.
"In that case," replied Wales, "the usual rule is for the ship to go on to anchorage in the harbor at Genoa."
"Any one know whether the barometer is talking about a storm?" Dalzell asked.
"That's a foolish question," remarked Lieutenant Barnes grouchily.
"Hello!" said Danny Grin, turning half around and eyeing the last speaker. "You here?"
"As usual," nodded Barnes gruffly.
"What was that you said about a foolish question?" demanded Dan.
"I was referring to your habit of asking foolish questions," retorted Barnes.
"Do I ask any more of them than you do?" Dalzell retorted, a bit gruffly.
"You do," Barnes declared, "and that's one of them."
"If I thought I asked more foolish questions than you do, sir," Dan rejoined, laying down his coffee cup, "I'd—"
Here Dalzell paused.
"What would you do?" Barnes insisted.
"On second thought," Dan went on gravely, "I don't believe I'll tell you. It was something desperate that I was thinking of."
"Then drop the idea, Dalzell," scoffed Lieutenant Barnes lightly. "You're hardly the fellow we'd look to for desperate deeds."
"Oh, am I not?" demanded Dan, for once a bit miffed.
Several of the officers glanced up apprehensively. From necessity, life in the ward-room is an oppressively close one at best. A feud between two officers of the mess is enough to make all hands uncomfortable much of the time.
"Cut it, Barnes," ordered the officer sitting on the right-hand side of Lieutenant Barnes. "Don't start any argument."
"Gentlemen," broke in the paymaster, anxious to change the topic of conversation, "have you gone so far with your meal that a little bad news won't spoil your appetites?"
Most of those present nodded, smilingly.
"Then," continued the paymaster, "I wish to bring up a matter that has been discussed here before. You all know that in some way, owing to the carelessness of some one, there is an unexplained shortage of thirty-three dollars in our mess-fund. You appointed Totten and myself a committee to look into the matter. We now beg to report that the thirty-three dollars cannot be accounted for. What is your pleasure in the matter?"
"I would call it very simple," replied Lieutenant Commander Wales. "Why not levy an assessment upon the members of this mess sufficient to make up the thirty-three dollars? It will amount to very little apiece."
That way of remedying the shortage would have been agreed to promptly, had not Lieutenant Barnes cut in eagerly:
"I've a better plan for making up the shortage. One man can pay it all, as a penalty, and there will be a lot of fun in deciding which member has to pay the penalty."
"What's the idea, Mr. Barnes?" asked the executive officer.
"It's simple enough," Barnes went on, grinning. "Let us set apart the dinner hour on Tuesday evening, say. Every time this mess gets together we hear a lot of foolish questions asked. Now, on Tuesday evening, if any member of this mess asks a question that he can't answer himself, let it be agreed that he pay into the mess a fine of thirty-three dollars to cover the shortage."
"It won't work," objected Totten. "Every officer at this table will be on his guard not to ask any questions at all."
"In that case," proposed Barnes, "let the rule hold over on each successive Tuesday evening until the victim is found and has paid his fine."
"It sounds like sport," agreed Dave Darrin.
"It will be sport to see the victim 'stung' and made to pay up," grinned Dan Dalzell.
"And I think I know, already," contended Lieutenant Barnes, "which officer will pay that shortage."
"Are you looking at me with any particular significance?" demanded Danny Grin.
"I am," Barnes admitted.
"Oh, well, then, we shall see what we shall see," quoth Dalzell, his color rising.
The scheme for fixing the thirty-three-dollar penalty was quickly agreed upon. In fact, the plan had in it many of the exciting elements of a challenge.
Darrin left the mess to go on duty. Dan found him presently.
"Say," murmured Danny Grin, in an aside, "do you think Barnes will be very angry when he pays over that thirty-three dollars?"
"I haven't yet heard that he is to pay it," Dave answered quietly.
"But he is," Dalzell asserted.
"I'm going to make it my business," Dan went on, "to see that Barnes is the victim of the very scheme that he proposed. He will ask a question that he can't answer, and he'll do it when Tuesday evening comes around."
"Don't be too sure of that," Dave warned him. "Barnes may not be exactly the most amiable officer aboard, but at least he's a very keen chap. If you are forming any plans for making Barnes pay, look out, Dan, that your scheme doesn't recoil upon yourself!"
"Wait and see," Dalzell insisted. "I tell you, Barnes is going to pay that thirty-three dollars into the mess treasury!"
THE STARTLER AT MONTE CARLO
The frowning crags of Monaco confronted the United States battleship "Hudson."
Here and there the rocky eminences were broken by tiny strips of white beach. In comparison with the crags the great, floating fighting machine looked like a pigmy, indeed.
It was toward evening, and the day was Tuesday. Darrin and Dalzell, both off duty for the time being, strolled along the battleship's quarter-deck, gazing shoreward.
"It's almost too bad that the times are so civilized," murmured Danny Grin. "That little toy principality would make an ideal pirates' nest."
"I fancy Monaco has done duty enough in that line in the past centuries," smiled Darrin. "I have been reading up a bit on the history of Monaco. Piracy flourished here as late as the fourteenth century. Even rather late in the eighteenth century every ship passing close to this port had to pay toll. And to-day, through its vast gambling establishments, visited by thousands every week, Monaco reaches out and still takes its toll from all the world."
"It won't take any from me," smiled Dalzell.
"That is because you're a disciplined human being, and you've too much character and honesty to gamble," Darrin went on. "But think, with a pitying sigh, of the thousands of poor wretches who journey to Monaco, enter the Casino at Monte Carlo, part with their money and their honor, and then pass into one of the gardens, there to blow their brains out.
"We shall get a glimpse of the place to-night," Dave continued. "I will admit that I have a good deal of curiosity to see it. So I am glad that we have shore leave effective after dinner. Still, we shan't see anything like the crowd or the picture that we might see if Europe were at peace."
"This is Tuesday night," Dan warned his chum.
"Yes; the night to avoid dangerous questions at mess," Dave smiled. "Dan, are you still going to try to catch Barnes?"
"Watch me," winked Dalzell.
"Look out, Dan! Such a trap may be set at both ends."
But Dalzell winked once more, then allowed his mouth to expand in that contortion which had won him the nick name of "Danny Grin."
Dave soon forgot Dalzell's threat of trouble for the evening. It had passed out of his mind by the time that Ensign Darrin entered the ward-room. Yet soon after the officers had seated themselves the executive officer announced:
"In the interest of fair play to all I deem it best to warn you, gentlemen, that to-night is the night when the first gentleman who asks a question that he cannot himself answer is liable to a penalty of thirty-three dollars to make up the deficit in the mess treasury."
There were nods and grins, and shakings of heads. Not an officer present had any idea that he could be caught and made to pay the penalty.
As the meal progressed Lieutenant Commander Wales finally turned to one of the Filipino waiters and inquired:
"Is there any of the rare roast beef left?"
"Don't you know yourself, Wales?" demanded Totten quickly.
"Why, er—no-o," admitted Mr. Wales, looking much puzzled. "Why should I?"
"Then haven't you asked a question that you can't answer?" demanded Totten mischievously.
"That's hardly a fair catch, is it?" demanded the navigating officer, looking annoyed.
"It is not a fair catch," broke in the executive officer incisively. "Any gentleman here has a perfect right to ask the waiter questions about the food supply without taking chances of being subjected to a penalty."
"I bow to the decision, sir," replied Lieutenant Totten. "I merely wished to have the question settled."
Some of those present breathed more easily; others yet dreaded to become victims of a penalty proposition that many now regretted having voted for.
As the dessert came on Dan Dalzell turned to Dave.
"Darrin," he said, "can you tell me why it is that a woodchuck never leaves any dirt heaped up around the edge of his hole?"
Dave reflected, looking puzzled for a moment. Then he shook his head as he answered:
"Dalzell, I'm afraid I don't know why."
"Of course you know why, Dalzell," broke in Lieutenant Barnes warningly.
"Perhaps I do know," Dan replied, nodding his head slowly. "However, perhaps some other gentleman would like the chance of answering the question."
Instantly a dozen at least of the officers became interested in answering the question. To each reply or guess, however, Dalzell shook his head.
"If everyone who wants it has had a try at the answer," suggested the executive officer, "then we will call upon Mr. Dalzell to inform us why a woodchuck, in digging his hole, leaves no dirt piled up around the entrance."
There was silence while Dan replied easily:
"It's perfectly simple. Instead of beginning at the surface of the ground and digging downward, the woodchuck begins at the bottom of the hole and digs up toward the light and air."
As Dalzell offered this explanation he faced Lieutenant Barnes, who was eying him scoffingly.
When Dan had finished his explanation there was a puzzled silence for an instant. But Dan's half-leer irritated Lieutenant Barnes. Then came the explosion.
"Shaw!" snorted Barnes. "That's an explanation that doesn't explain anything. It's a fool answer. How does the woodchuck, if he digs up from the bottom of the hole, ever manage to get to the bottom of the hole to make his start there?"
"Oh, well," answered Dan slowly, "that's your question, Mr. Barnes."
"My question?" retorted the lieutenant. "What do you mean?"
"If I understand aright," Dan went on, "you asked how the woodchuck manages to get to the bottom of the hole before he begins to dig."
"That's right," nodded the lieutenant, stiffly.
"That's just the idea," Dan grinned. "I am calling upon you to answer the question that you just asked. You must tell us how the woodchuck manages to get to the bottom of the hole in order to start digging upward."
It required perhaps two seconds for the joke to dawn on the other officers at the long mess table. Then an explosion of laughter sounded, and every eye was turned toward Lieutenant Barnes.
"That isn't fair!" roared the lieutenant, leaping to his feet. "That was a trap! It wasn't a fair catch."
Barnes's face was very red. His voice quivered with indignation.
But Dan Dalzell was smiling coolly as he retorted:
"I'll leave it to the mess if Barnes hasn't asked a question that he can't answer."
"You're caught, Barnes!" roared half a dozen voices, and more laughter followed.
"You asked a question, Barnes, and you can't answer it," came from others.
"That thirty-three dollars will come in handy," called another.
"Pay up like a man, Barnes."
"That's right. Pay up! You're caught."
The lieutenant's face grew redder, but he sat down and tried to control his wrath.
"It doesn't seem like a fairly incurred penalty," declared Barnes, as soon as he could make himself heard, "but of course I'll abide by the decision of the mess."
"Then I move," suggested Wales, "that we leave the question to a committee of three to decide whether Mr. Barnes has been properly caught in the fine that he himself was the one to propose. For committee I would suggest the executive officer, the paymaster and the chaplain."
Informally that suggestion was quickly adopted. The three officers named withdrew to a corner of the ward-room, where they conversed in low tones, after which they returned to their seats.
"Gentlemen," announced the executive officer, "the committee has discussed the problem submitted to it, and the members of the committee are unanimously agreed that Mr. Barnes fairly and fully incurred the penalty that he himself suggested the other morning."
Barnes snorted, but was quick to recover sufficiently to bow in the direction of the executive officer.
"Then I accept the decision, sir," announced the lieutenant huskily. "At the close of the meal I will pay thirty-three dollars into the mess treasury."
Barnes tried to look comfortable, but he refused to glance in the direction of Danny Grin.
"Did I catch him?" whispered Dalzell to his chum.
"You did," Dave agreed quickly. "Barnes must feel pretty sore over the way his plan turned out."
There was much laughter during the rest of the meal, and Barnes had to stand for much chaffing, which he bore with a somewhat sullen look. As the officers rose none offered to leave the ward-room. All stood by waiting to see Barnes hand thirty-three dollars to the paymaster.
"Here is the money," announced Barnes, handing a little wad of bills to the paymaster.
"Count it, Pay!" piped a voice from the rear of the crowd, but it was not Dan who spoke.
Lieutenant Barnes had the grace to leave the ward-room without stamping, but in the nearest passageway he encountered Ensigns Darrin and Dalzell.
"I suppose you are chuckling over the way I dropped right into your trap," snapped Barnes to Dan. "But do you call it a fair kind of trap?"
"What was the committee's decision on the subject?" inquired Dan, softly.
"Oh, I'll admit that the decision went against me," answered the lieutenant, scowling. "How will you like it if I promise to pay you back fully for that trick? Are you willing that I should?"
"If your mind is set on paying me back," Danny Grin responded, "then my willingness would have very little to do with your conduct. But I am willing to make you a promise, sir."
"What is that?" asked the lieutenant, quite testily.
"If you attempt to pay me back, sir, and succeed, I'll agree to take my medicine with an appearance of greater good humor than you displayed a few minutes ago."
"Huh!" sniffed Mr. Barnes.
"Danny boy," broke in Dave, "I don't want to spoil a pleasant conversation, but I would like to remind you that, if we are to make much of our evening ashore, we shall do well to change to 'cits' at once. The launch leaves the side in fifteen minutes."
"You'll excuse me, won't you, sir?" begged Dalzell, favoring the lieutenant with an extremely pleasant smile.
The chums went to their respective cabins, where they quickly made the change from uniform to citizen's dress, commonly called "cits."
Promptly the launch left the "Hudson's" side, but both young ensigns were aboard. At least a dozen other officers and a score of seamen were also aboard the launch, which was to return for forty more seamen who held the coveted shore leave.
Yet the reader is not to suppose that either officers or men were going ashore with any notion of gambling. An American naval officer, with his status of "officer and gentleman," would risk a severe rebuke from his commanding officer if he were to seat himself to play in any gambling resort. As for the enlisted men, the "jackies," they are not of the same piece of cloth as the jovial, carousing seamen of the old-time Navy. The "jackies" of to-day are nearly all extremely youthful; they are clean-cut, able, ambitious young fellows, much more inclined to study than to waste their time in improper resorts.
So, while most of the officers and men now going ashore were likely to drop in at the Casino, for the sake of seeing the sights there, it was not in the least to be feared that any would engage in the gambling games.
When the launch landed in the little harbor, drivers of automobiles and carriages clamored for fares.
"Are we going to ride up to the Casino?" Dan asked his chum.
"If you'd rather," Dave assented. "But, unless you feel tired, let us stroll along and see every bit of the way."
"These natives are all jabbering French," complained Dalzell, as the chums set out to walk over the steep, well-worn roads, "but it isn't the kind of French we were taught at Annapolis."
"Can't you understand them?" asked Dave.
"Hardly a word."
"If you have to talk with any of the natives," Dave advised, "speak your French slowly, and ask the person you're addressing to do the same."
Though the way was steep, it was not a long road. Dave and Dan soon reached the upper, rocky plain, edged by cliffs, on which the Casino and some of the hotels and other buildings stand.
"If it weren't for the gambling," murmured Dan to his friend, "I'd call this a beautiful enough spot to live and die in."
"As it is, a good many men and women manage to die here," Darrin returned gravely.
The Casino was surrounded by beautiful gardens, in which were many rare tropical trees and shrubs. From the Casino came the sound of orchestral music. Throngs moved about on the verandas; couples or little groups strolled through the gardens. Inside, the play had hardly begun. Gambling does not reach its frantic height until midnight.
"We shall feel out of place," mused Dave aloud. "Dan, we really should have known better than to come here in anything but evening dress. You see that every one else is in full regalia."
"Perhaps we'd better keep on the edge of the crowd," responded Danny Grin. "There is enough to be seen here, for one evening, without entering the Casino."
Though Dave intended to enter the Casino later, he decided, for the present, to take in the full beauty of the night in the gardens. There were electric lights everywhere, which outshone the brilliance of the moon.
"Hello!" whispered Dan, suddenly. "There's an old friend of ours."
"Mr. Green Hat," Dan whispered impressively.
Instantly Dave Darrin became intensely interested, though he had no intimation of what this second meeting portended. That Mr. Green Hat was destined to play a highly tragic role in his life, Darrin, of course, had no inkling at that moment.
"There he is!" whispered Dalzell, pointing, as the chums stood screened by a flowering bush.
"We'll watch that rascal!" Dave proposed promptly. "I wonder if he has followed the 'Hudson' here with a view to attempting more mischief against our Government. Whatever his game is, I am going to take a peep at the inside of it if a chance comes my way!"
MR. GREEN HAT'S NEW ROLE
Mr. Green Hat, on this occasion, had discarded the article of headwear that had given him that nickname with the young ensigns.
Instead, Gortchky wore an opera hat, with evening dress of the most fashionable description. On his broad white expanse of vest there glittered a foreign decoration.
Though he walked alone, and affected an air of indifference to his surroundings, Darrin was of the impression that the spy was looking alertly for some one.
"Of course it may happen," said Dave to his friend, "that the fellow is foolish enough to come here for the purpose of throwing away at the gaming tables the money he earns by his questionable services to some plotting international ring. Yet that seems hardly likely, either, for Gortchky must be a man of tremendous energy, to render the thrilling services that are demanded of a spy or an international trouble-maker."
Now the two chums left the place where they had been standing behind the bush, to stroll along slowly, all the while keeping Gortchky in sight.
Dave nudged his chum as, at a turn in the path, the spy came face to face with a woman clad in a beautiful evening gown.
Raising his hat, and making a courteous bow to the woman, who returned the greeting, Gortchky exchanged half a dozen sentences with her. Then the pair separated, though not before Dave and Dan had obtained, under the electric light, a good view of the young woman's face. Her dark beauty, her height and grace, gave her a queenly air.
Stepping into another path, Dave and Dan were soon on the trail of Gortchky once more, without having been obliged to pass the young woman face to face.
"I wonder if she's a 'spy-ess'?" murmured Dan.
"It is just as well to be suspicious of any one whom Gortchky appears to know well," Dave answered, slowly, in a low voice.
"I beg pardon, sir," broke in a sailor from the "Hudson," stepping forward and saluting the officers. "May I speak with you, sir?"
It was Dan to whom he spoke, and it was Dan who answered:
Martin was one of the gun-pointers in Dalzell's division.
"Linton, one of our men, has been hurt, and rather badly, by falling off a boulder that he climbed not far from here, sir. I thought I would ask the ensign what to do with Linton."
"How badly is he hurt?" asked Ensign Dalzell.
"I think his right leg is broken, sir. Colby is with him, and I came in search of you, sir, as I was certain I saw you here."
"Is Linton far from here?" asked Dalzell.
"Less than a quarter of a mile, sir."
"Lead the way, Martin, and I'll follow you. Dave, you'll excuse me for a little while, won't you?"
"Certainly," nodded Ensign Darrin. Dave wished to remain where he was, in order to keep an eye over Gortchky's movements, and Dan knew it. So the chums parted for the present.
"Now, I'll see if I can pick up Gortchky again," reflected Ensign Darrin. "He appears to have given me the slip."
Dave went ahead, more briskly than he had been moving before, in the hope of sighting the spy.
Out of the Casino had staggered a young man, despair written on his face, hopelessness in his very air. Plunging into the garden this stranger made his way hastily through it, keeping on until he came to the field where pigeon shoots are held from time to time.
Dave, at the edge of the garden, saw the young man step past the shrubbery and go on into the darkness beyond. Under the last rays of light Ensign Darrin saw something glitter in the stranger's hand.
"That fellow has just drawn a revolver!" flashed through Darrin's mind. "Now, what mischief can he be up to?"
Led onward by some fascination that he did not understand, the young naval officer followed.
In his excitement and desperation the man did not notice that he was being followed.
Halting under the heavy foliage of a tree, the stranger glanced down at the weapon in his hand and shuddered. This foolish young man, haunting the gambling tables until he had ruined himself, and seeing nothing now ahead of him in life, was bent upon self-destruction.
Sometimes there are several such suicides at Monte Carlo in a single week. If unprovided with other means for ending his life, the suicide sometimes hurls himself over the edge of one of the steep cliffs.
Suicides, of course, have a depressing effect on other players, so those in authority at the Casino take every means of hushing up these tragedies as effectively as possible.
"There is really nothing left in life," muttered the young man huskily, as he stared at the weapon in his hand. He spoke in French, but Darrin heard and understood him.
Then the desperate one raised the weapon, pointing the muzzle at his head.
At that instant there was a quick step out of the darkness, and Dave reached the stranger. The latter, startled, drew back, but not in time to prevent Darrin's grip of steel from resting on his right wrist.
Wrench! Dave had the pistol in his own hands, at the same time murmuring:
"You will pardon me, I trust."
Ensign Darrin broke the weapon open at the breach. From the chamber he removed the cartridges, dropping them into his pocket. With another swift movement Dave flung the pistol so far that it dropped over the edge of a cliff.
"You will pardon me, I trust, sir, for throwing your property away in that fashion," Dave apologized, in the best French he could summon.
"Since it is the very last item of my property that was left to me, perhaps it can matter but little that I am deprived of it," said the stranger, smiling wanly. "The cliff is still left to me, however. I can easily follow the pistol."
"But you are not going to jump over the cliff," Darrin assured him energetically.
"And why are you so certain of that?" demanded the stranger.
Dave looked keenly at his companion before he replied:
"Because, sir, your face is that of a man—not of a coward. Suicide is the act of a coward. It is the resort of one who frankly admits that his troubles are greater than he has the manhood to bear. Now, you have, when one regards you closely, the look of a man and a gentleman."
"Thank you for your good opinion, sir," replied the stranger, bowing. "I will say that I was born a gentleman."
"And you still are one, and a man, as well as a gentleman," Dave continued, gently. "Therefore, you are not afraid to face life."
"What is there left to me to make life worth living?" queried the stranger.
"Why should you have the least desire to die?" Dave countered.
"I have lost all my money."
"That is a very slight matter," Darrin argued. "Lost all your money, have you? Why, my dear fellow, there's a lot more in the world."
"But none of the money now in the world is mine," urged the desperate one.
"Then make a part of the world's money yours," the young naval officer retorted, smilingly.
"I have never worked," replied the stranger stiffly.
"Why not?" Dave pressed.
"I never had need to."
"But now you have the need, and working for money will bring some novelty into your life," the young ensign insisted.
"Did I not tell you that I was born a gentleman?" inquired the young man, raising his eyebrows. "A gentleman never works!"
"Some gentlemen don't," Dave admitted. "But they are the wrong kind of gentlemen."
"If I mistake not," quizzed the stranger keenly, "you are a gentleman, yourself."
"I trust that I am," Dave responded gravely.
"Then do you work?"
"More hours a day than any laborer does," Darrin answered promptly. "I am a naval officer."
"Ah, but that is a career of honor—of glory!" cried the stranger.
"And so is any honest job of work that a man takes up in earnest and carries through to the best of his ability," Dave Darrin returned with warmth.
"But you see, sir," argued the stranger, though now he was smiling, "you have been trained to a profession. I never was so trained."
"You are young?"
"Then you are young enough to change your mind and recognize the dignity of labor," Darrin continued. "You are also young enough and, unless I mistake you, bright enough to win a very good place in life for yourself. And you are man enough, now you have had time to think it over, to see the wickedness of destroying yourself. Man, make yourself instead."
"I'll do it! I will make myself!" promised the stranger, with a new outburst of emotion.
"And you will never again allow yourself to become so downcast that you will seek to destroy yourself?"
"I am satisfied," Dave said gravely. "You are a man of honor, and therefore are incapable of breaking your word. Your hand!"
Their hands met in ardent clasp. Then Darrin took out his card case, tendering his card to the stranger.
Instantly the young man produced his own card case, and extended a bit of pasteboard, murmuring:
"I am M. le Comte de Surigny, of Lyons, France."
It was too dark to read the cards there, but Dave gave his own name, and again the young men shook hands.
"But I am forgetting my comrade," Dave cried suddenly. "He was to return in a few minutes, and will not know where to find me."
"And I have detained you, with my own wretched affairs!" cried the young count reproachfully. "I must not trespass upon your time another second."
"Why not walk along with me and meet my friend?" Dave suggested.
Dave and the young French count stepped along briskly until they came to the spot where Dalzell had left his chum. Two or three minutes later Dan hove into sight.
Dan and the Count of Surigny were introduced, and some chat followed. Then the Count frankly told of the service that Darrin had just rendered him.
"That is Dave!" glowed Dan. "He's always around in time to be of use to some one."
In the distance a shot rang out—only one. The Count of Surigny shuddered.
"You understand, do you not?" he asked.
"I am afraid so," Dave sadly responded.
As they stood there four men with a litter hurried past toward the place whence the sound of the shot had come.
"The police of Monte Carlo," murmured the Count of Surigny.
Presently, at a distance, the three onlookers beheld the four men and the litter moving stealthily along, but not toward the Casino. The litter was occupied by a still form over which a cover had been thrown.
"You have shown me the way of true courage!" murmured the Count of Surigny, laying an affectionate hand on Ensign Darrin's shoulder.
The chums and their new acquaintance strolled along for a few moments. Then the Count suddenly exclaimed:
"But I am intruding, and must leave you."
"You surely are not intruding," Dave told him. "We are delighted with your company."
"Wholly so," Dan added.
But the Count felt himself to be an interloper, and so insisted on shaking hands again and taking his departure.
"I shall see or write you presently," said the Count. He had already obtained the fleet address, and knew, in addition, that he could write at any time through the Navy Department at Washington.
"Will he make good?" asked Danny Grin wistfully, as he peered after the departing form.
"It's an even chance," Dave replied. "Either that young man will go steadily up, or else he will go rapidly down. It is sometimes a terrible thing to be born a gentleman—in the European sense. Few of the Count's friends will appreciate him if he starts in upon a career of effort. But, even though he goes down, he will struggle bravely at the outset. Of that I feel certain."
"I wonder what has become of Gortchky?" remarked Ensign Dalzell.
That industrious spy, however, was no longer the pursued; he had become the pursuer.
From a little distance Gortchky had espied Dave and the Count chatting, and had witnessed the introduction to Dalzell. A man of Mr. Green Hat's experience with the world did not need many glances to assure himself that the Count had lost his last franc at the gambling table.
Gortchky was not at Monte Carlo without abundant assistance. So, as the Count, head down, and reflecting hard, strolled along one of the paths, a man bumped into him violently.
"Ten thousand pardons, Monsieur!" cried the bumper, in a tone of great embarrassment. "It was stupid of me. I—"
"Have no uneasiness, my friend," smiled the Count. "It was I who was stupid. I should have looked where I was going."
Courteous bows were exchanged, and the two separated. But the man who had bumped into the Count now carried inside his sleeve the Count's empty wallet, which was adorned with the crest of Surigny.
This wallet was promptly delivered to another. Five minutes later, as the Count strolled along, Emil Gortchky called out behind him:
"Monsieur! Pardon me, but I think you must have dropped your wallet."
"If I have, the loss is trifling indeed," smiled the Count, turning.
Gortchky held out the wallet, then struck a match. By the flame the Count beheld his own crest.
"Yes, it is mine," replied the Count, "and I thank you for your kindness."
"Will Monsieur do me the kindness, before I leave him, to make sure that the contents of the wallet are intact?" urged Gortchky.
"It will take but an instant," laughed the Count of Surigny. "See! I will show you that the contents are intact!"
As he spoke he opened the wallet. A packet of paper dropped to the ground. In astonishment the Count bent over to pick up the packet. M. Gortchky struck another match.
"Let us go nearer to an electric light, that you may count your money at your ease, Monsieur," suggested Gortchky.
Like one in a daze the Count moved along with Gortchky. When sufficiently in the light, Surigny, with an expression of astonishment, found that he was the possessor of thirty twenty-franc notes.
"I did not know that I had this!" cried the Count. "How did I come to overlook it?"
"It is but a trifle to a man of your fortune," cried M. Gortchky gayly.
"It is all I have in the world!" sighed the young man. "And I am still amazed that I possess so much."
"Poor?" asked Gortchky, in a voice vibrating with sympathy. "And you so young, and a gentleman of old family! Monsieur, it may be that this is a happy meeting. Perhaps I may be able to offer you the employment that befits a gentleman."
Then Gortchky lowered his voice, almost whispering:
"For I am in the diplomatic service, and have need of just such an attache as you would make. Young, a gentleman, and of charming manners! Your intellect, too, I am sure, is one that would fit you for eminence in the diplomatic service."
"The mere mention of the diplomatic service attracts me," confessed M. le Comte wistfully.
"Then you shall have your fling at it!" promised M. Gortchky. "But enough of this. You shall talk it over with me to-morrow. Diplomacy, you know, is all gamble, and the gambler makes the best diplomat in the world. For to-night, Monsieur, you shall enjoy yourself! If I know anything of gaming fate, then you are due to reap a harvest of thousands with your few francs to-night. I can see it in your face that your luck is about to turn. An evening of calm, quiet play, Monsieur, and in the morning you and I will arrange for your entrance into the diplomatic world. Faites votre jeux! (Make your wagers.) Wealth to-night, and a career to-morrow! Come! To the Casino!"
DANNY GRIN FIGHTS A SMILE
Side by side Dave and Dan strolled through the vast main salon of the Casino.
Here at tables were groups of men and women. Each player hoped to quit the tables that night richer by thousands. Most of them were doomed to leave poorer, as chance is always in favor of the gambling institution and always against the player.
"It's a mad scene," murmured Dan, in a low voice.
"You are looking on now at an exhibition of what is probably the worst, and therefore the most dangerous, human vice," Dave replied. "Bad as drunkenness is, gambling is worse."
"What is at the bottom of the gambling mania?" Dan asked thoughtfully.
"Greed," Dave responded promptly. "The desire to possess property, and to acquire it without working for it."
"Some of these poor men and women look as if they were working hard indeed," muttered Dan, in almost a tone of sympathy.
"They are not working so much as suffering," Dave rejoined. "Study their faces, Danny boy. Can't you see greed sticking out all over these countenances? Look at the hectic flush in most of the faces. And—look at that man!"
A short, stout man sprang up from a table, his face ghastly pale and distorted as though with terror. His eyes were wild and staring. He chattered incoherently as he hastened away with tottering steps. Then his hands gripped his hair, as though about to tear it from his head.
A few of the players in this international congress of greed glanced at the unfortunate man, who probably had just beggared himself, shrugged their shoulders, and turned their fascinated eyes back to the gambling table.
One woman, young and charming, reached up to her throat, unfastening and tossing on the table a costly diamond necklace and pendant.
"Now," she laughed hysterically, "I may go on playing for another hour."
The Casino's representative in charge at that table smiled and shook his head.
"We accept only money, madame," he said, with a grave bow.
"But I have no more money—with me," flashed back the young woman, her cheeks burning feverishly.
"I regret, madame," insisted the Casino's man. Then an attendant, at a barely perceptible sign from the croupier, as the man in charge of the table is called, stepped up behind the young woman, bent over her and murmured:
"If you care to leave the table for a few minutes, madame, there are those close at hand who will advance you money on your necklace."
The young woman pouted at first. In another instant there was a suppressed shout at the table. A player had just won four thousand francs.
"I must have money!" cried the young woman, springing from her chair. "This is destined to be my lucky night, and I must have money!"
As though he had been waiting for his prey, the attendant was quickly by the woman's side. Bowing, he offered his arm. The man, attendant though he was, was garbed in evening dress. Without a blush the woman moved away on this attendant's arm.
"Shall we move on?" asked Dan.
"Not just yet," urged Darrin, in an undertone. "I am interested in the further fate of that foolish young woman."
Within five minutes she had returned. Her former seat had been reserved for her; the young woman dropped into it.
"You have enough money now?" asked the woman at her left.
"I have money," pouted the pretty young woman, "but be warned by me. The pawnbrokers at Monte Carlo are robbers. The fellow would advance me only six thousand francs, whereas my husband paid a hundred thousand for that necklace."
A moment later the young woman was absorbed in the wild frenzy of play.
"And that attendant undoubtedly gets a handsome commission from the pawnbroker," murmured Darrin in his chum's ear. "Greed here is in the very air; none can escape it who lingers."
"How much have you lost, Darrin?" called a bantering voice in Dave's ear.
The speaker was Lieutenant Totten.
"About as much, I imagine, as you have, sir," was Darrin's smiling answer.
"Meaning that you now have as much money as when you entered the place?" answered the lieutenant, banteringly.
"Exactly," returned Darrin. "I have only to study the faces here to know better than to risk even a franc-piece at one of these tables."
"And you, Dalzell?" inquired Totten.
"I haven't any French money, anyway," grinned Dan.
"Not at all necessary to have French money," laughed Totten. "Any kind of real money is good here—as long as it lasts. Every nation on earth is represented here to-night, and the attendants know the current exchange rate for any kind of good money that is coined or printed. Look closely about you and you will see other things that are worth nothing. There are men here, some of them limping, others showing the pallor of illness, who are undoubtedly French, English or Italian officers, injured at the front and sent home to hospitals. Being still unfitted to return to their soldier duties at the front, they are passing time here and indulging in their mania for gambling. And here, too, you will see wealthy French, Italian, English or Russian civilians who have returned to Monte Carlo to gamble, though later on they are pretty certain to be held up to contempt at home for gambling money away here instead of buying government war bonds at home."
"You have been here before?" Dave asked.
"Oh, yes," nodded Totten, "and as I do not play, and would not do so in any circumstances, this place has not much interest for me."
"I can hardly imagine," said Ensign Darrin, gravely, "that I shall ever bother to pay a second visit here."
"It's a good deal of a bore," yawned Lieutenant Totten, behind his hand. "I am glad to note that most of the people here look like Europeans. I should hate to believe that many Americans could be foolish enough to come here."
At that moment a stout, red-faced man rose from a table near by, his voice booming as he laughed:
"I have lost only sixteen thousand francs. I shall be sure to come back and have my revenge. In Chicago my signature is good at any time for a million dollars—for five million francs!"
Many eyes, followed this speaker wistfully. With such wealth as his how many months of frenzied pleasure they might have at Monte Carlo!
"One American idiot, at least," muttered Totten, in disgust. "Or else he's a liar or braggart."
Madly the play went on, the faces of the players growing more flushed as the hour grew later.
Totten moved along with a bored air.
"I guess he's going," said Dan. "I don't blame him for being tired of the place. It's like a human menagerie."
"We'll go, then," agreed Dave. "Surely I have seen enough of the Casino. I shall never care to revisit it."
"Ah, here you are, my dear fellows!" exclaimed a musical voice. "And the Countess Ripoli has asked me to present you to her. She is eager to know if you American officers are as wonderful as I have told her."
The speaker was Dandelli, a handsome, boyish-looking, frank-faced young Italian naval officer with whom Darrin and Dalzell had become acquainted at Gibraltar.
The Countess Ripoli, to whom Dandelli now presented the two young ensigns, was a woman in the full flower of her beauty at twenty-five or so. Tall, willowy, with a perfect air, her wonderful eyes, in which there was a touch of Moorish fire, were calculated to set a young man's heart to beating responses to her mood. Attired in the latest mode of Paris, and wearing only enough jewels to enhance her great beauty, the Countess chose to be most gracious to the young ensigns. Dave thought her a charming young woman; Dan Dalzell nearly lost his head.
From a distance Emil Gortchky looked on, a quiet smile gleaming in his eyes.
"Dandelli is a fool, who will do any pretty woman's bidding," mused the spy. "Madame Ripoli can play with him. Also I believe she will surely ensnare for me at least one of the Americans. Which, I wonder? But then why should I care which? The Ripoli knows how to manage such affairs far better than I do."
For the Countess was another of the many dangerous tools with which Mr. Green Hat plied his wicked trade.
If the Countess, as unscrupulous as Gortchky himself, could ensnare either of these young officers with her fascinations, he was likely to be that much the weaker, and a readier prey for the trap that Emil Gortchky was arranging.
"Dandelli," murmured the Countess sweetly, in French, "you will wish, I know, to talk with your dear friend, Mr. Darrin, so I must look to Mr. Dalzell to offer me his arm."
Dan was ready, with a bow, to offer the Countess Ripoli his arm, and to escort her in the direction which she indicated.
It was to one of the verandas that the Countess led the way. As she chatted she laughed and looked up at Dan with her most engaging expression. There were other promenaders on the veranda, though not many, for the furious fascination of gambling tables kept nearly all the frequenters of the place inside.
"You have played to-night?" asked the Countess, again glancing sweetly up into the young naval officer's face.
"Not to-night," Dan replied.
"But you will doubtless play later?" she insisted.
"I haven't gambled to-night, nor shall I gamble on any other night," Dan replied pleasantly.
"But why?" demanded the Countess, looking puzzled.
"Gambling does not fit in with my idea of honesty," replied Dalzell quite bluntly.
DAVE RUNS INTO A REAL THRILL
"I do not understand," murmured the Countess.
"I know that the European idea of gambling is very different from that entertained by most people in my country," Dan went on pleasantly. "To the greater number of Americans, gambling is a method of getting other people's money away from them without working for it."
"And that is why you term it dishonest?" asked the Countess.
"Yes," replied Dan frankly. "And, in addition, it is a wicked waste of time that could be put to so many good uses."
Countess Ripoli shrugged her fine shoulders, and looked up once more at the young officer. But Dan was smiling back coolly at her.
"You have not a flattering idea of the Europeans?" she asked.
"Quite to the contrary," Dan assured her.
"Yet you think we are both weak and dishonest, because we use our time to poor advantage and because so many of us find Monte Carlo delightful?" she pressed him.
"Not all Europeans frequent Monte Carlo," Dalzell answered.
"May I ask my new American friend why he should waste his time here?" laughed the Countess.
"I do not believe I have exactly wasted my time," Dan replied. "A naval officer, or any other American, may well spend some of his time here in gaining a better knowledge of human nature. Surely, there is much of human nature to be seen here, even though it be not one of the better sides."
"What is the bad trait, or the vice, that one beholds most at Monte Carlo?" the Countess asked.
"Greed," Dan rejoined promptly.
"Much of that vice, no doubt," Dan continued. "To-night there must be many a man here who is throwing away money that his family needs, yet he will never tell his wife that he lost his money over a table at Monte Carlo. Again, there must be many a woman here throwing away money in large sums, and she, very likely, will never tell her husband the truth. Let us say that, in both sexes, there are a hundred persons here to-night who will be dishonest toward their life partners afterward. And then, perhaps, many a young bachelor, who, betrothed to some good woman, is learning his first lessons in greed and deceit. And some young girls, too, who are perhaps learning the wrong lessons in life. I know of one very young man here who tried to blow out his brains to-night. For the sake of a few hours, or perhaps a few weeks, over the gaming tables of Monte Carlo, he had thrown away everything that made life worth living. Any man who gambles bids good-by to the finer things of life."
Dan's slow, halting French made the Countess listen very attentively, that she might understand just what he said. She puckered her brow thoughtfully, then suddenly glanced up, laughing with all the witchery at her command.
"Then, my dear American," she said insinuatingly, "I fear that you are going to refuse me a very great favor."
"I hope not," Dan replied, gallantly.
"There is," pursued the Countess, "such a thing as luck. Often a prophecy of that luck is to be seen in one's face. I see such luck written in your face now. Since you will not play for yourself, I had hoped that you would be willing to let me have the benefit of a little of the luck that is so plainly written on your face. I had hoped, up to this instant, that you would consent to play as my proxy."
The Countess was looking at him in a way that would have melted many a man into agreeing to her wishes, but Dan answered promptly:
"I regret, Countess, to be compelled to refuse your request, but I would not play for myself, nor for anyone else."
"If you so detest Monte Carlo and its pursuits," replied the Countess with a pout, "I cannot understand why you are here."
"There was something useful to be gained from witnessing the sights here, but I have seen as much as I wish," Dalzell went on, "and now I am ready to leave. I am returning to my ship as soon as Darrin is ready to go."
"And he, also, is tired of Monte Carlo?" asked Countess Ripoli.
"Darrin's views are much the same as my own," Dan responded quietly.
Countess Ripoli bit her lip, then surveyed Dalzell with a sidelong look which she did not believe he saw, but Dan, trained in habits of observation, had missed nothing.
"Will you take me back to the tables?" asked the Countess suddenly.
"With pleasure," bowed Dan.
Lightly resting a hand on his arm the Countess guided Dalzell rather than walked with him. Back into the largest salon they moved.
Dan's eye roved about in search of Darrin, but that young ensign was not in sight.
* * * * *
At that very moment, in fact, Dave Darrin was very much concerned in a matter upon which he had stumbled.
A few moments before his quick eye had espied Emil Gortchky crossing the room at a distance. Gortchky paused barely more than a few seconds to say a few words to a white-bearded, rather distinguished-looking foreigner. The older man returned Gortchky's look, then smiled slightly and moved on.
It was a trivial incident, but it was sufficient to set Dave's mind to working swiftly, on account of what he already knew about Mr. Green Hat.
For a few moments longer Ensign Darrin stood where he was; then, tiring of the scene, and wondering what had become of Danny Grin, he moved out upon one of the verandas, strolling slowly along. Reaching a darker part of the veranda, where a clump of small potted trees formed a toy grove, Dave paused, looking past the trees out upon the vague glimpses to be had of the Mediterranean by night.
There, in the near distance, gleamed the lights of the "Hudson." Darrin's face glowed with pride in the ship and in the Nation that stood behind her.
Almost unconsciously he stepped inside the little grove. For a few minutes longer his gaze rested on the sea. Then, hearing voices faintly, he turned to see if Dalzell were approaching.
Instead, it was the white-bearded foreigner, the murmur of whose voice had reached him. With him was another man, younger, black-haired, and with a face that somehow made the beholder think of an eagle.
The two men were engaged in close, low-voiced conversation.
"I'd better step into view," reflected Darrin, "so that they may not talk of private matters in my hearing."
Just then a chuckle escaped the younger of the pair, and with it Dave distinguished the word, "American."
It was the sneering intonation given the word that made Dave Darrin start slightly.
"Those men are discussing my country," muttered the young ensign, swiftly, "and one of them at least is well acquainted with that spy, Gortchky. Perhaps I shall do better to remain where I am."
Nor had Dave long to deliberate on this point, for the pair now neared the grove. They were speaking French, and in undertones, but Dave's ear was quick for that tongue, and he caught the words:
"England's friendship is important to America at the present moment, and it is very freely given, too. The English believe in their Yankee cousins."
"When the English lose a naval ship or two at Malta or elsewhere, and learn that it is the Americans who sink their ships, and then lie about it, will the English love for America be as great?" laughed the younger man.
"The English will be furious," smiled the white-bearded man, "and they will never learn the truth, either. For a hundred years to come Great Britain will hate the United States with the fiercest hatred."
"It is a desperate trick, but a clever one," declared the younger man, admiringly. "Nor will there be any way for either England or America to learn the truth. The whole world will know that the Yankees destroyed two British ships with all on board. It will probably bring the two countries to actual war. No matter though England is at present engaged in a huge war, the sentiment of her people would force her to take the United States on, too."
Ensign Dave Darrin, overhearing that conversation, and well knowing that he was listening to more than vaporing, felt his face blanch. He steeled himself to rigid posture as he felt himself trembling slightly.
Farther down the veranda strolled the French-speaking pair, then wheeled out of sight.
In a twinkling Dave strode silently, swiftly toward the salon that he had left. As he stepped into the brighter light, with admirable control, he slowed down to a sauntering stroll, looking smilingly about as though his whole mind were on the scenes of gambling before him.
A moment or two later Darrin's eyes caught sight of Dan Dalzell, as that young officer bowed the Countess Ripoli to a seat.
In vain did the Countess use her prettiest smiles to hold Danny Grin by her side as she played. Dalzell had been schooled at Annapolis and in the Navy itself, and knew how to take his leave gracefully, which he did, followed by the pouts of the Countess. As soon as she saw that the ensign's back was turned, a very unpleasant frown crossed her beautiful face.
Dave continued his stroll until he met Dan at a point where none stood near them.
"Keep on smiling, Dan," urged Dave, in an undertone. "Don't let that grin leave your face. But it's back to the ship for us on the double-quick! I may be dreaming, but I think I have found out the meaning of Mr. Green Hat's strange activities. I believe there is a plot on foot to bring England and our country into war with each other. One thing is certain. It's my duty to get back on board as fast as possible. I must tell the admiral what I have overheard."
Dan did not forget the injunction to keep on smiling. He proved so excellent an actor that he laughed heartily as Dave Darrin finished his few but thrilling words.