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Or, The Vanishing Submarines



Author of _The Boy Allies in the Baltic_, _The Boy Allies on the North
Sea Patrol_, _The Boy Allies Under Two Flags_, _The Boy Allies with the
Flying Squadron_, _The Boy Allies with the Terror of the Seas_

A.L. Burt Company New York





"What I would like to know," said Frank Chadwick, "is just how long
England intends to put up with the activities of the German submarines
in the waters surrounding the British Isles."

"How long?" echoed Jack Templeton. "Surely you know that England is
already conducting a vigorous campaign against them."

"I don't seem to have heard anything of such a campaign," returned Frank
dryly; "but another big liner was torpedoed and sunk off the coast of
Ireland yesterday. What are we going to do about it? That's what I want
to know."

"I'll tell you a little something you don't seem to know," said Jack.
"In the last thirty days, in the neighborhood of a hundred German
submarines have disappeared - sunk or captured - no one seems to know
which. Nevertheless, it is a fact. Through diplomatic channels word has
been received in London that a large number have failed to return to
their bases. The German government is much disturbed."

"Where have they gone?" asked Frank, with some surprise.

"I don't know. Nobody knows - unless, perhaps, a few high government
officials. They have just naturally disappeared - vanished."

"How do you know all this?"

"I happened to hear Lord Hastings discussing it with Mr. Churchill while
you were out the other day."

"But, of course, Mr. Churchill knows what has happened to the

"Of course; but he's not telling everything he knows."

"But doesn't Lord Hastings know?"

"I suppose so; but he is keeping his information to himself."

"Well, I didn't know any of them had disappeared."

"They have, though, and I heard Mr. Churchill say that the government
hoped within another month to have rid British waters entirely of the
German submersibles."

"I hope his hope comes true," said Frank with a smile.

"And I; but I would like to know something more of the mystery of these
vanishing submarines."

Both lads were to learn something more, even sooner than they could
possibly have hoped.

The door opened and a man strode into the room. Attired in the full
uniform of a British naval commander, he made a striking appearance in
his gold and lace. He greeted the two lads with a smile.

"Well, boys?" he said.

The newcomer was Lord Hastings, erstwhile distinguished secret service
agent and new commander in his British majesty's royal navy. Also,
though the fact was known to few, he was a distant cousin of the king
himself and one of the most highly trusted officers of the empire.

"Well, boys?" he repeated.

"Well, sir," said Frank, "we were just discussing the mystery of the
vanishing submarines."

Lord Hastings gazed at the lad in surprise.

"Vanishing submarines!" he repeated. "And tell me, how did you know
there were such things as vanishing submarines?"

"Why, Jack told me, sir," replied Frank.

"And how did you know it?" demanded Lord Hastings of Jack.

"I heard you and Mr. Churchill discussing it, sir," replied Jack.

Lord Hastings drew a long breath, evidently of relief.

"I didn't know we had been so indiscreet," he said, half to himself.
"However, there is no harm done, for I know you boys are to be trusted
not to repeat what you overhear. I'll tell you this, you two are among
the very few who know that any of the German submarines have been
accounted for."

"Then it is true?" asked Frank.

"Oh, it's true enough," replied Lord Hastings. "Perhaps a hundred of
them have disappeared."

"And where are they, sir?" asked Frank. "At the bottom?"

"That," said Lord Hastings with a slow smile, "is the mystery the German
government would like to solve."

"But surely you know, sir."

"If I did, I would not repeat it within these four walls," declared Lord
Hastings. "Walls have ears, you know, as is proven by the fact that Jack
overheard my conversation with Mr. Churchill."

"I didn't mean to listen, sir," interrupted Jack.

"Oh, I know that," replied Lord Hastings. "But now take my advice, and
keep what you know locked close within you."

"We shall, sir," replied both lads.

"Good! Now I have a piece of news for you."

The two lads stepped forward eagerly.

"Are we to go on active service again, sir?" asked Frank anxiously.

"It's about time we did," mumbled Jack, half to himself.

Lord Hastings smiled as he saw the eager looks upon the faces of both.

"Well, we have a little work cut out for us," he replied quietly.

"Hooray!" cried Frank.

A pleased expression fluttered across Jack's face, but he gave voice to
no exclamation; he was never as effusive as his chum.

"I'm glad you're pleased," returned Lord Hastings. "Yes, we shall see
active service, at once."

"When do we start, sir?" asked Frank, his face shining.

"In the morning."

Frank's face fell.

"I was in hopes it was to-night," he replied.

"Scouting, submarine or what?" demanded Jack.

"You will have to wait for an answer to that question," said Lord
Hastings. "In the meantime, it would be well this afternoon to get
whatever equipment you may need. Your other things, together with mine,
are at the bottom of the sea with the old D-16."

"And perhaps," said Frank slyly, glancing at Lord Hastings, "before our
present work is over we may know something of the mystery" - he lowered
his voice - "of the vanishing submarines."

Lord Hastings eyed him somewhat coldly.

"Perhaps," he said, and, turning on his heel, left the room.

"You shouldn't have said that, Frank," declared Jack, when they were
left alone. "You remember what he said about the walls having ears."

"I know it," said Frank, with sincere regret. "It just slipped out."

"If you'll take my advice, you'll see that it doesn't slip out again,"
advised Jack.

"I'll be mum from now on," said his chum with a slight smile. "But now I
guess we may as well get what things we may need."

"All right," said Jack.

They picked up their caps and made their way from the house.

And while they are engaged in the task of out-fitting themselves for the
coming expedition, a few words concerning the two chums may well be

Jack Templeton was an English boy some eighteen years of age. Born in
the British Isles, he had nevertheless spent most of his life in Africa,
his father having conducted a small trading station upon the coast of
that continent. Jack's father was a scholar and from him the boy had
acquired a good education.

Jack's father died, leaving the boy as a legacy nothing but the little
African trading store; and Jack set about to make his own living there
and to put by enough so that within a few years he would be able to
return to the land of his birth.

And then fate took a hand in shaping his career.

A party from a passing schooner stopped for supplies at Jack's store,
and, in the lad's absence, departed without paying for the provisions.
Jack set forth to collect. He climbed aboard the schooner before it hove
anchor, and, payment being refused by the schooner's crew, a fight

Jack was forced to take refuge in the hold, while the ship got under
way. He succeeded in making his way to the next compartment, where he
was surprised to find two other prisoners. These he released, and they
proved to be a British secret service agent and Frank Chadwick.

Frank was an American boy. He had been separated from his father, and
while seeking him in Naples had been shanghaied aboard the schooner, and
there he was, following a mutiny among the crew, as Jack found him. By
some resourcefulness and not a little fighting, the lads overcame the
crew and made their way back to Jack's home, taking the other prisoner
with them.

Here they joined an expedition in which the secret service agent was
implicated, and in this manner met Lord Hastings. The latter took an
interest in them at once, and, after they had proved their mettle, the
British nobleman took them aboard his own vessel as midshipmen.

Then followed a series of exciting adventures, which had led them to
many parts of the world. They had been instrumental in the first big
victory of the British fleet off Heligoland; they had taken part in the
pursuit of the German cruiser _Emden_, "the terror of the seas," and had
been in at the death; they had been with the British fleet that had sunk
the last German squadron upon the oceans - off the Falkland Islands; they
had taken part in many and dangerous other exploits, having more than
once been in the heart of the enemy's territory; and always they had
returned safely.

But there was once when it seemed that all - Lord Hastings, Frank and
Jack - had come to their end. It came about in this wise: After a long
cruise, which resulted in great successes, their submarine, D-16, had
come to grief in the Dardanelles. They were caught below and it seemed
that all must perish.

Then Jack had decided that it was futile for all to die; there was
safety for all but one. A deck of cards decided who was to stay, and
Jack had drawn the fatal card - the ace of spades.

Officers and crew were launched to safety by means of a torpedo tube;
and Jack sat down to await the end. But, in some unaccountable manner,
the submarine had suddenly risen to the surface, and Jack, taking
advantage of the single instant the vessel was above water before it
took its final death plunge, flung himself clear. And thus all were

But, because of their desperate experiences, they were unfit to
immediately resume new duties; so all had returned to England until such
time as they would be physically in shape again.

Now Jack Templeton, although young in years, was wise in the ways of the
world. Also he was of huge stature and as strong as an ox, as he had
proved more than once when put to the test. Frank, although by no means
as large as his chum, was sturdy and strong, and able to give a good
account of himself when occasion required.

The one noticeable difference between the two was that Frank was
high-tempered and quick, whereas Jack was always cool and collected. And
this very fact had more than once showed that Jack, while not exactly
more dependable, could always be relied upon to keep his head.

While both were skillful in the use of weapons, here was a place where
Frank excelled. He was a dead shot with rifle or revolver and was a
strong swordsman. Jack was a good shot himself and a skillful fencer,
but he was not in Frank's class when it came to the use of sword or

Upon their last expedition Jack and Frank had acted as first and second
officers respectively of the submarine, and both now held the rank of
first lieutenant. Their promotions had come deservedly. They had the
implicit confidence of Lord Hastings and more than once had offered
valuable advice, which Lord Hastings had acted upon.

Now a few words about the progress of the war. The seven seas had for
some time, save for the presence of the German submarines, been swept
clear of German, Austrian and Turkish fighting ships. Not a one remained
at large to prey upon the shipping of the Allies. The real fighting
strength of the navies of the three central powers still remained in
their own fortified bases, well guarded by mines.

The Allies had established such an effective blockade that none dared to
venture forth. So the naval situation was practically at a standstill,
where indications pointed to its remaining until the main German fleet,
bottled up in Heligoland, and the main Austrian fleet in the Adriatic
should summon sufficient courage to sally forth and give battle; and
there had been nothing to indicate any sudden action on the part of

On several occasions British submarines had penetrated the mine fields
and created considerable havoc, and aircraft had dropped bombs from the
air. But along these lines the German submarines had been more
successful and now were the one real menace confronting the naval
supremacy of the Entente powers.

Hundreds of ships, large and small, had fallen easy prey to these
under-sea terrors. Big ocean liners, crowded with passengers,
non-combatants, had been sent to the bottom with terrible loss of
innocent lives. Chief among these tragedies laid to the door of the
German submarines was the sinking of the Cunard liner _Lusitania_, in
which more than a thousand men, women and children had been drowned.

And, so far as the British public knew, England had taken no steps to
combat this under-sea peril. However, as Lord Hastings had told the boys
at the opening of this story, Great Britain had taken such steps, and
that they were effective was evident from his additional statement that
in the neighborhood of a hundred submarines had "vanished."

But this warfare was not to end until the submarine evil had been
eradicated. The German under-sea craft must be disposed of so
effectively as to preclude further danger to British shipping. And it
was in this work that Jack and Frank were soon to play a prominent part.



For some reason unknown to Jack and Frank, when morning came, Lord
Hastings announced that the start would not be made until after
nightfall, at which both lads showed keen disappointment.

"I'll tell you what you can do," said Lord Hastings. "I'll give you an
order for my motorboat and you can go to Gravesend during the day if you
care to. I'll meet you there at the Lion Inn to-night at 10 o'clock."

Frank was delighted.

"That's better than hanging around here all day, waiting for night to
come," he said. "What do you say, Jack?"

"Anything to humor you," replied the latter with a smile.

"Take all your things with you," said Lord Hastings; "and, above all,
hang on to that motorboat. Don't let anybody get it away from you."

"We'll hang on to it, never fear," replied Frank. "Come on, Jack."

"Wait a minute," ordered Lord Hastings. "You'll need this written order
to get the boat."

"I'd forgotten, sir," said Frank.

Lord Hastings scribbled rapidly on a piece of paper, which he passed to

"This will fix you up," he said. "Now remember, 10 o'clock sharp."

The boys nodded their understanding of this order, saluted and left.
Getting their things together, they hurried to the river, where Lord
Hastings kept his motorboat; and an hour and a half later they were
proceeding slowly down the river.

"Guess none of the enemy will ever get in here," declared Frank, after a
careful survey of the river.

"Guess not," replied Jack. "Look at the boats. You wouldn't think we
were at war."

"Not if it wasn't for the warships," agreed Frank. "And there are enough
of them to make it hot for any hostile fleet. But it's a wonder to me
some of these German submarines haven't taken a little trip up the

"Mines," replied Jack briefly.

"True," said Frank, "but you will remember we took a pretty long jaunt
up the Dardanelles, and passed through the Kiel canal."

"And when you stop to think of it, we're pretty lucky to be here right
now," returned Jack dryly.

"Well, so we are, if that's the way you look at it. However, I wouldn't
mind having another such chance."

"You'll probably get it."

Conversation lagged as the boys took in the scenes about them; and there
was little more talk during the trip. They stopped more than once, and,
loitering along, it was dark when they neared their destination.

As they would have drawn up to the wharf there was a sudden flash of
light - gone in a moment - followed by a dark body that swished by them
like a flash.

Frank uttered an exclamation of astonishment.

"See that?" he demanded.

"Yes. What could it have been?"

"You've got me, but it's heading toward the open sea. Great Scott! Maybe
it's an enemy."

"An enemy?"

"Yes; you know how anxious the Germans are over this submarine business.
Maybe this fellow has been spying about. May be going to report to a
German submarine out there some place."

"Think we had better follow and have a look?" asked Jack.

"Believe it would be a good idea. Let's go."

Without another word, Jack brought the boat about and headed after the
one that had so recently dashed by them. In the darkness ahead there was
nothing to be seen.

"Like looking for a needle in a haystack," Jack called to Frank.

"That fellow can't be up to any good," declared Frank. "He showed no
light and was going in a terrible hurry. There's something up."

"Does seem that way," agreed Jack.

"Say! Is this as fast as this thing can go?" demanded Frank. "We won't
ever get any place this way. Let her out a bit."

Jack did so and the little boat seemed literally to fly over the dark
water. This terrific speed Jack kept up for some time and then slowed

"We'll bump into something at this rate," he said; "and that would
settle the whole business. We must be cautious."

"Cautious!" repeated Frank. "We won't find that German being cautious."

"If we weren't cautious, it wouldn't do us any good if we did find him,"
argued Jack. "First thing you know we would be at the bottom."

Frank considered this point a moment.

"Guess you're right," he said at last.

"Swish!" went something at this moment, and, turning quickly, Frank saw
a dark shape speeding away up the river.

"Hey! There went one the other way," he cried to Jack.

"That so?" replied Jack anxiously. "There is something up here, and I'm
going to find out what it is."

He slowed down even more, and, striking a match, lighted the
searchlight, which, until this moment, he had not deemed advisable.

As the light flashed over the water, the lad made out another small
motorboat dead ahead, upon which signs of life became apparent. Jack saw
figures gesticulating violently; then the boat headed directly for the
one occupied by the two boys.

"Guns, Frank!" said Jack quietly. "They are coming at us."

"Leave it to me," replied Frank. "You run the boat. I'll do the rest."

"Don't shoot unless you have to," warned Jack.

Frank made no reply.

Jack kept the light full upon the approaching boat. He could see several
oilskin-clad figures and that was all; and then came a hail from the
oncoming boat.

"What do you want here?"

The query was in English. Jack answered the hail.

"What are you doing here yourself?" he demanded. "We are British
officers. I command you to surrender."

"More likely German officers," was the response. "Heave to now. I'm
coming aboard you."

"If you do you'll get a warm welcome," replied Jack.

He stopped the boat and drew his own revolvers.

"Stand back!" he cried, as the other boat came closer.

In the glint of the searchlight the men aboard the other boat made out
the boys' uniforms. The boat slowed down and the men talked among

"They wear British uniforms," said one in a low voice.

"That's no sign they are English," said another.

"Tell 'em to give the countersign," said a third.

Another hail came from the boat.

"Pass the countersign," it said.

"I don't know any countersign," replied Jack, and would have said more,
had not a voice from the other boat interrupted him.

"I thought not; hands up now or you are dead men. Quick!"

Jack made his decision in a moment. Much as he would have liked to fight
it out, he determined upon a wiser course.

"Hands up, Frank," he said quietly. "They've got the drop on us."

He raised his hands in the air.

Not so Frank.

"They won't get me without a fight," declared the lad angrily, and,
raising his voice, he cried:

"Come and get me, if you want me."

At the same moment he raised his revolver and fired.

"Here," cried Jack angrily, "don't be a fool. Give me that gun."

He seized Frank's wrist and wrenched the revolver from his grasp.

The latter turned on his chum angrily.

"What do you mean by that?" he demanded. "Have you turned coward, that
you surrender to a couple of Germans without a fight?"

"I haven't turned crazy," replied Jack quietly. "They are too many for
us; that's all."

The other boat came alongside now and an officer stepped aboard the
boys' craft.

"Your weapons," he said in perfect English.

"Then please step aboard my boat. You shall be taken to Gravesend at

"Gravesend!" echoed Jack. "You couldn't take us to a better place. But
if you are German, why should you take us there?"

"German," repeated the man. "You know we are English. You are the German

"No such thing," declared Frank, taking a hand in things. "We are
British officers and we thought you were German spies. That's why I
fired at you. We thought you were here to learn the secret of the
vanishing submarines."

"Frank!" cried Jack in warning, but it was too late.

"The vanishing submarines, eh?" repeated the stranger. "So you have
given yourselves away. Who but a German spy would be here seeking word
of the vanishing submarines?"

"But I tell you - - " began Jack.

"Silence," thundered the officer. "You have betrayed yourselves, and
that is enough. I give you my word you shall be shot in the morning."

"Oh, I guess not," replied Frank with a laugh. "I guess Lord Hastings
will be able to get us out of this mess."

"Lord Hastings?"

"Why, yes, we happen to serve under him; that's all."

"Tell it to the marines," replied the man with sarcasm. "I am not asking
you to admit anything, for I know enough now."

"Oh, all right," said Frank.

"Climb into my boat," ordered their captor.

The lads complied.

"Say," said Frank, "this is Lord Hastings' motorboat. He told us not to
lose it. Tie it on behind and pull it along, will you?"

"We'll pull it along all right," replied their captor. "Now the best
thing you fellows can do is to keep quiet."

The lads obeyed this gruff command, for they had nothing particular to
talk about.

Half an hour later the motorboat docked at Gravesend and the boys were
ordered to climb out, which they did, under the noses of their captors'

"Where to now?" asked Frank.

"Where I tell you," was the reply.

Jack was struck by a sudden thought.

"Will you tell me what time it is, sir?" he asked the leader of the
party which surrounded them.

"As you ask in such a polite way, I shall do so," was the reply. "I
wouldn't tell this other fellow anything. He's too smart." He produced
his watch, and after a glance at it, said: "Five minutes to ten."

"By George!" exclaimed Jack. "And we were to meet Lord Hastings at the
Lion Inn at 10 o'clock."

"I can promise you'll be at the Lion Inn at 10 o'clock," replied the
leader of the capturing party, "but whether you will find Lord Hastings
there I can't say."

"You mean you are taking us there?" asked Jack.


"That's what I call luck," broke in Frank. "We'll be all right in a few
moments now, Jack."

"You'll be all right till in the morning, I can guarantee that," growled
their captor.

At the door of the inn he motioned them to enter ahead of him. They did
so and the first person on whom their eyes rested was Lord Hastings.

"Well, I see you are on time - - " the latter began, and then broke off
as he saw the armed men behind them.

"Yes, sir, we are on time," replied Frank with a smile, "and we have
brought company to see you, sir!"



Lord Hastings was on his feet by this time and advanced toward the two
lads and their captors.

"What's the meaning of this?" he demanded of the man who appeared to be
the leader.

"We caught these fellows scooting down the Thames in a high-power
motorboat, sir," was the reply. "They were unable to give a satisfactory
account of themselves and one of them took a shot at us. So we brought
them here."

"Do you know who they are?" asked Lord Hastings, smiling a bit to

"No, sir; but I would take them for a couple of German spies, sir."

"H-m-m," muttered Lord Hastings. He stroked his chin a moment and then
asked: "And what do you intend to do with them?"

"Turn them over to Colonel Masterson, sir, who will return about
midnight. He is stopping here, sir."

Lord Hastings seemed to consider the matter a few moments, and then,
with a gesture, he turned on his heel, remarking:

"Well, I can't see that it is any of my business."

"Very good, sir," said the boys' captor.

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