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Ferdinand Heinrich Grautoff.

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soup in short order.

"Then it's all over, of course. Just twenty-four hours too soon," sighed
Engelmann softly as he watched the poodle, who at that moment was
jumping about on the street playing with the gnawed bone.

Engelmann tried hard to control himself, but he did not dare turn his
head, for he could hear low, suppressed sobbing behind him. Martha, the
faithful companion of his busy life, sat at the table with her face
buried in her hands, the tears rolling uninterruptedly down her cheeks,
while her two daughters were trying their best to comfort her.

Old Engelmann opened the window and listened.

"Nothing to be heard yet; but they'll have to pass here to get to the
waterworks," he said. Then he joined his family, and turning to his
wife, said: "Courage, mother! Arthur will do his duty."

"But if anything should happen to him - " sobbed his wife.

"Then it will be for his country, and his death and that of his comrades
will give us an example of the sacrifices we must all make until the
last of the yellow race has been driven out."

The mother went on crying quietly, her handkerchief up to her eyes:
"When was it to be? Tell me!" she cried.

"To-night," said the father, "and they would surely have been
successful, for they could easily have overpowered the few men at the
station and in the town. Listen, there are the Japs!"

From outside came the regular beat of the drums. Bum - bum - bum, bum, bum
they went, and then the shrill squeaking of the fifes could also be
heard.

"Yes, there they are, the deuce take 'em," said Engelmann. The sound of
the drums became more and more distinct and presently the sound of
troops marching in step could be clearly distinguished. Then the steps
became firmer, and the window-panes began to rattle as the leader of the
battalion appeared on horseback in the middle of the street, followed by
the fife and drum corps, and with the little white poodle barking at his
heels. It was a Japanese battalion of reserves marching in the direction
of the new waterworks outside the town.

"Courage, mother!" comforted the old man. "If they only stay at the
waterworks all may yet be well."

"Wouldn't it be possible to warn Arthur?" began the mother again.

"Warn him?" said Engelmann, shrugging his shoulders, "all you have to do
is to go to the telegraph office and hand in a telegram to the Japanese
official, telling them to remain where they are."

"But couldn't we make it a go after all?" asked the youngest son
thoughtfully. "The boxes are all ready, and can be packed in half an
hour. We have three hundred men and thirty wagons. The latter were to be
loaded at eleven o'clock to-night. And then at them with our revolvers!
There aren't more than twenty men at the station," he went on with
sparkling eyes. "At eleven o'clock sharp the telegraph-wire to the
waterworks will be cut, also the wires to all the stations; then let
them telegraph all they like. The minute the train arrives, the engine
will be switched to another track and then backed in front of the train.
Meanwhile the boxes will be packed in the cars and then we'll be off
with the throttle wide open. At each station a car will be dropped, and
wagons will be waiting to receive their loads and get away as fast as
the horses can pull them. Safe hiding-places have been found for all the
boxes, and whatever hasn't been captured by to-morrow morning will
certainly never fall into the enemy's hands."

"Where is the telegraph-wire to the waterworks?" asked the father.

"That's my job, to cut the wire just before the arrival of the train,"
said his son proudly.

"Richard," cried the mother in a horrified voice, "are you in it, too?"

"Yes, mother, you didn't suppose I'd stand and look on while Arthur was
risking his life, did you? What would they think of us on the other side
if we were to hesitate at such a time as this? 'Germans to the front,'
that's our slogan now, and we'll show the people in Washington that the
German-Americans treat the duties of their new country seriously."

Old Engelmann laid his hand on his son's shoulder, saying: "Right you
are, my boy, and my blessing go with you! So you are to cut the
telegraph-wire?"

"Yes, father. We happen to know where it is. The Japs were of course
clever enough to lay it underground, but we have discovered it under the
paving near Brown & Co.'s store. We dug through to it very carefully
from the cellar, and so as to make quite sure in case they should notice
anything out of the way at the waterworks, we attached a Morse apparatus
to the wire in the cellar. In case they suspect anything at the works
and begin to telegraph, I'm to work the keys a little so that they won't
know the wire is cut. In addition we laid a wire to the station last
night, which will give a loud bell-signal in case any danger threatens."

The young fellow had talked himself into a state of great excitement,
and his two sisters, watching him proudly, began to be infected by his
enthusiasm.

The shades of night were falling slowly as Richard Engelmann bade a
touching farewell to his family and left the house, whistling a lively
tune as he walked towards the town.




_Chapter XVI_

THROUGH FIRE AND SMOKE


A train was always kept in readiness at Centralia on the Northern
Pacific Railway, which could get up full steam at a moment's notice in
case of necessity. Two Japanese, the engineer and the fireman, were
squatting on the floor of the tender in front of the glistening black
heaps of coal, over which played the red reflections from the furnace.
They had just made their tea with hot water from the boiler and eaten
their modest supper. Then the engineer pulled out his pipe and stuffing
its little metal bowl with a few crumbs of tobacco, took one or two
puffs at it and said, "Akoki, it is time," whereupon the stoker seized
his shovel, dug into the heap of coals and threw the black lumps with a
sure aim into the open door of the furnace. With a hissing sound the
draft rushed into the glowing fire, and the engine sent out masses of
black smoke which, mixed with hundreds of tiny sparks, was driven like a
pillar of fire over the dark row of cars. The engineer climbed down the
little iron steps and examined the steel rods of his engine with
clinking knocks from his hammer.

Up and down in front of the dark station walked a Japanese sentinel and
each time that he passed beyond the ring of light thrown by the two
dimly burning lamps he seemed to be swallowed up in the darkness. Only
two little windows at one end of the station were lighted up; they
belonged to the Japanese guard-room and had been walled up so that they
were no wider than loop-holes. The train which inspected this district
regularly between eight and nine o'clock each evening had passed by at
8.30 and proceeded in the direction of Portland. With the exception of
the non-commissioned officer and the man in charge of the three
arc-lamps on the roof that were to light up the surrounding country in
case of a night-attack most of the soldiers had gone to sleep, although
a few were engaged in a whispered conversation.

Suddenly the sergeant sprang up as a muffled cry was heard from the
outside. "The lamps!" he yelled to the man at the electric instrument.
The latter pushed the lever, but everything remained pitch dark outside.

The soldiers were up in a second. The sergeant took a few steps towards
the door, but before he could reach it, it was torn open from the
outside.

A determined looking man with a rifle slung over his shoulder appeared
in the doorway, and the next moment a dark object flew through the air
and was dashed against the wall. A deafening report followed, and then
the guard-room was filled with yellow light caused by the blinding
explosion, while thick black smoke forced its way out through the
loop-holes. Armed men were running up and down in front of the station,
and when the man who had thrown the bomb and who was only slightly
injured but bleeding at the nose and ears from the force of the
concussion, was picked up by them, they were able to assure him
triumphantly that his work had been successful and that the guard-room
had become a coffin for the small Japanese detachment.

Stumbling over the dead body of the sentinel lying on the platform, the
leader of the attacking party rushed towards the engine, out of the
discharge-valves of which clouds of boiling steam poured forth. With one
bound he was up in the cab, where he found the Japanese fireman killed
by a blow from an ax. Other dark figures climbed up from the opposite
side bumping into their comrades.

"Halloo, Dick, I call that a good job!" And then it began to liven up
along the row of cars. Wild looking men with rifles over their shoulders
and revolvers in their right hands tore open the carriage doors and
rushed quickly through the whole train.

"Dick, where's Forster?"

"Here," answered a rough voice.

"Off to the engine! Into the cars, quick! Are you ready? Is anyone
missing? Arthur! Where's Arthur?"

"Here, Dick!"

"Good work, Arthur, that's what I call good work," said the leader;
"well done, my boys! We're all right so far! Now for the rest of it."

Fighting Dick distributed his men among the different cars and then he
and Forster, formerly an engineer on the Northern Pacific, climbed into
the cab.

"They've made it easy for us," said Forster, "they've only just put
fresh coal on! We can start at once! And if it isn't my old engine at
that! I only hope we won't have to give her up! The Japs shan't have her
again, anyhow, even if she has to swallow some dynamite and cough a
little to prevent it."

"We're off," shouted Fighting Dick, whose fame as a desperado had spread
far beyond the borders of the State of Washington. With such men as
these we were destined to win back our native land. They were a wild
lot, but each of them was a hero: farmers, hunters, workmen from shop
and factory, numerous tramps and half-blooded Indian horse-thieves made
up the company. Only a few days ago Fighting Dick's band had had a
regular battle in the mountains with a troop of Japanese cavalry, and in
the woods of Tacoma more than one Japanese patrol had never found its
way back to the city. These little encounters were no doubt also
responsible for the strengthening of the Japanese garrison at Tacoma.

The thing to do now was to get the five thousand guns and ammunition
cases out of Tacoma by surprising the enemy.

Thus far, nothing but the explosion of the bomb at the Centralia station
could have betrayed the plot. It is true that the distant mountains had
sent the echoes of the detonation far and wide, but a single shot didn't
have much significance at a time like this when our country resounded
with the thunder of cannon day in day out!

The train rushed through the darkness at full speed. A misplaced switch,
a loose rail, might at any moment turn the whole train into a heap of
ruins and stop the beating of a hundred brave American hearts. The
headlight of Forster's engine lighted up the long rows of shining rails,
and in the silent woods on both sides of the track, beneath the branches
of the huge trees, lights could be seen here and there in the windows of
the houses, where the dwellers were anxiously awaiting the return of the
train from Tacoma! And now a hollow roll of thunder came up from below.

"The bridges?" asked Fighting Dick.

"Yes, the bridges," said Forster, nodding.

Then a faint light appeared in the distance. The train was nearing
Tacoma.

Houses began to spring up more frequently out of the darkness, now to
the right and now to the left; dancing lights popped up and disappeared.
Tall, black buildings near the tracks gave out a thundering noise like
the crash of hammers and accompanied the roar of the passing train. A
beam of light is suddenly thrown across the rails, green and red
lanterns slip by with the speed of lightning, and then the brakes
squeak and the train runs noisily into the dark station.

A few figures hurry across the platform. Shots ring out from all sides.
A mortally-wounded Jap is leaning against a post, breathing heavily.

The wheels groan beneath the pressure of the brakes and then, with a
mighty jerk that shakes everybody up, the train comes to a stand-still.
Down from the cars! Fighting Dick in the lead, revolver in hand, and the
others right on his heels. They entered the station only to find every
Jap dead - the men of Tacoma had done their duty.

Now the clatter of hoofs was heard out in the street. The heavy wagons
with their heaps of rifles and long tin boxes full of cartridges were
driven up at a mad pace. A wild tumult ensued as the boxes were rushed
to the train - two men to a box - and the doors slammed to. Then the empty
wagons rattled back through the silent streets. Meanwhile Forster ran
his engine on the turntable, where it was quickly reversed, and in a few
moments it stood, puffing and snorting, at the other end of the train.

All this consumed less than half an hour. Suddenly shots rang out in the
neighboring streets, but as no detachment of hostile troops appeared,
the Americans concluded that they had been fired by a patrol which was
coming from the electric-works to see what the noise at the station was
about. Several rockets with their blinding magnesium light appeared in
the dark sky and illumined the roofs of the houses. Was it a warning
signal?

All at once the electric gongs near the station which were connected
with Brown & Co.'s cellar began to ring, a sign that something
suspicious had been noticed at the waterworks. Forster was waiting
impatiently in his engine for the signal of departure and could not
imagine why Fighting Dick was postponing it so long. He was standing in
the doorway of the station and now called out: "Where is Arthur
Engelmann?"

"Not here," came the answer from the train.

"Where can he be?"

The name was called out several times, but no one answered. The train
was ready to start and the men were distributing the boxes carefully
inside the cars, so as to be able to unload them without loss of time at
their respective destinations. And now, at last, Arthur Engelmann came
running into the station.

"Hurry up!" called Fighting Dick.

"No, wait a minute! We'll have to take this fellow along," cried
Engelmann, pointing to a wounded man, who was being carried by two
comrades.

"Put him down! We'll have to be off! We've got plenty of men, but not
enough guns."

"You must take him!"

"No, we're off!"

"You'll wait," said Arthur Engelmann, seizing Dick's arm; "it's my
brother."

"I can't help it, you'll have to leave him behind."

"Then I'll stay too!"

"Go ahead, if you want to."

At this moment shrill bugle-calls resounded from one of the nearby
streets.

"The Japanese!" roared Fighting Dick; "come on, Arthur!"

But Arthur snatched his wounded brother from the two men who were
carrying him and lifted him across his own shoulder, while the others,
led by Fighting Dick, rushed past him and jumped on the train.

Bullets were whizzing past and several had entered the walls of the
station when Fighting Dick's voice gave the command: "Let her go,
Forster! Let her go!"

Puffing and snorting, and with the pistons turning the high wheels,
which could not get a hold on the slippery rails, at lightning speed,
the engine started just as the Japanese soldiers ran into the station,
from the windows of which they commenced to fire blindly at the
departing train. The bullets poured into the rear cars like hail-stones,
smashing the wooden walls and window-panes.

Fighting Dick, standing beside Forster, looked back and saw the station
full of soldiers. The two Germans must have fallen into their hands, he
thought.

But they must hustle with the train now, for although the telegraph
wires had been cut all along the line, they still had light-signals to
fear! And even as this thought occurred to him, a glare appeared in the
sky in the direction of the waterworks, then went out and appeared again
at regular intervals. Those silent signs certainly had some meaning.
Perhaps it was a signal to the nearest watch to pull up the rails in
front of the approaching train? With his teeth set and his hand on the
throttle, Forster stood in his engine while the fireman kept shoveling
coals into the furnace.

"Forster," said Dick suddenly, "what's that in front of us? Heavens,
it's burning!"

"The bridges are burning, Fighting Dick!"

"That's just what I thought, the damned yellow monkeys! Never mind,
we'll have to go on. Do you think you can get the engine across?"

"The bridges will hold us all right. It would take half a day to burn
the wood through and we'll be there in ten minutes."

Now fluttering little flames could be seen running along the rails and
licking the blood-red beams of the long wooden bridges, giant monuments
of American extravagance in the use of wood. Clouds of smoke crept
towards the train, hiding the rails from view, and soon the engine
rolled into a veritable sea of flames and smoke. Forster screamed to
his companion: "They've poured petroleum over the wood."

"We'll have to get across," answered Fighting Dick, "even if we all burn
to death."

Biting smoke and the burning breath of the fiery sea almost suffocated
the two men. The air was quivering with heat, and all clearly defined
lines disappeared as the angry flames now arose on both sides.

"Press hard against the front," screamed Forster; "that's the only way
to get a little air, otherwise we'll suffocate."

The high-pressure steam of the speeding locomotive hissed out of all the
valves, shaking the mighty steel frame with all its force; the heat of
the flames cracked the windows, and wherever the hand sought support,
pieces of skin were left on the red-hot spots. A few shots were fired
from the outside.

"One minute more," yelled Forster, "and we'll be over."

Fighting Dick collapsed under the influence of the poisonous gases and
fainted away on the floor of the cab. And now the flames grew smaller
and smaller and gradually became hidden in clouds of smoke.

"Hurrah!" cried Forster; "there's a clear stretch ahead of us!" Then he
leaned out of the cab-window to look at the train behind him and saw
that the last two cars were in flames. He blew the whistle as a signal
that the last car was to be uncoupled and left where it was, for he had
just noticed a man standing near the track, swinging his bicycle lamp
high above his head.

"Perhaps they'll be able to unload the car after all," he said to
Fighting Dick, who was slowly coming to. But the sound of the explosion
of some of the boxes of cartridges in the uncoupled car made it fairly
certain that there wouldn't be much left to unload.

Five minutes later, after they had passed a dark station, the same
signal was noticed, and another car was uncoupled, and similarly one car
after another was left on the track. The guns and ammunition-boxes were
unloaded as expeditiously as possible and transferred to the wagons that
were waiting to receive them. The moment they were ready, the horses
galloped off as fast as they could go and disappeared in the darkness,
leaving the burning cars behind as a shining beacon.

When, on the morning of June ninth, a Japanese military train from
Portland traveled slowly along the line, it came first upon the ruins of
an engine which had been blown up by dynamite, and after that it was as
much as the Japanese could do to clear away the remnants of the various
ruined cars by the end of the day. The bridge, which had been set on
fire by a Japanese detachment with the help of several barrels of
petroleum, was completely burned down.

But the plot had been successful and Fighting Dick's fame resounded from
one ocean to the other, and proved to the nations across the sea that
the old energy of the American people had been revived and that the war
of extermination against the yellow race had begun, though as yet only
on a small scale. And the Japanese troops, too, began to appreciate that
the same irresistible force - a patriotic self-sacrifice that swept
everything before it - which had in one generation raised Japan to the
heights of political power, was now being directed against the foreign
invader.

Half the town had known of the plan for removing the rifles and
ammunition from Tacoma, but a strong self-control had taken the place of
the thoughtless garrulousness of former times. Not a sign, not a word
had betrayed the plot to the enemy; every man controlled his feverish
emotion and wore an air of stolid indifference. We had learned a lesson
from the enemy.

Fourteen Americans were captured with weapons in hand, and in addition
about twenty-eight badly wounded. The Japanese commander of Tacoma
issued a proclamation the following evening that all the prisoners,
without exception, would be tried by court-martial in the course of the
next day and condemned to death - the penalty that had been threatened in
case of insurrection. The Japanese court-martial arrived in the city on
June ninth with a regiment from Seattle. The Tacoma board of aldermen
were invited to send two of their number to be present at the trial, but
the offer being promptly refused, the Japanese pronounced judgment on
the prisoners alone. As had been expected, they were all condemned to
death by hanging, but at the earnest pleading of the mayor of Tacoma,
the sentence was afterwards mitigated to death by shooting.

Old Martin Engelmann tried in vain to secure permission to see his sons
once more; his request was brusquely refused.

In the light of early dawn on June eleventh the condemned men were led
out to the waterworks to be executed, the wounded being conveyed in
wagons. Thousands of the inhabitants took part in this funeral
procession - in dead silence.

Old Engelmann was standing, drawn up to his full height, at the window
of his home, and mutely he caught the farewell glances of his two sons
as they passed by, the one marching in the midst of his comrades, the
other lying in the first wagon among the wounded. Frau Martha had
summoned sufficient courage to stand beside her husband, but the moment
the procession had passed, she burst into bitter tears. Her life was
bereft of all hope and the future stretched out dark and melancholy
before her.

Suddenly a gentle hand was laid on her white head. "Mother," said one of
her daughters, "do you hear it? I heard it yesterday. They're singing
the song of Fighting Dick and of our dear boys. No one knows who
composed it, it seems to have sprung up of itself. They were singing it
on the street last night, the song of Arthur Engelmann, who sacrificed
his life for his brother."

"Yes," said the father, "it's true, mother, they are singing of our
lads; be brave, mother, and remember that those who are taken from us
to-day will live forever in the hearts of the American people."

And louder and louder rang out the notes of that proud song of the
citizens of Tacoma - the first pæan of victory in those sad days.




_Chapter XVII_

WHAT HAPPENED AT CORPUS CHRISTI


The attitude of the European press left no room for doubt as to the
honest indignation of the Old World at the treacherous attack on our
country. But what good could this scathing denunciation of the Japanese
policy do us? A newspaper article wouldn't hurt a single Japanese
soldier, and what good could all the resolutions passed at enthusiastic
public meetings in Germany and France do us, or the daily cablegrams
giving us the assurance of their sympathy and good-will?

These expressions of public opinion did, however, prove that the Old
World realized at last that the yellow danger was of universal interest,
that it was not merely forcing a single country to the wall, casually as
it were, but that it was of deep and immediate concern to every European
nation without exception. They began to look beyond the wisdom of the
pulpit orators who preached about the wonderful growth of culture in
Japan, and to recognize that if the United States did not succeed in
conquering Japan and driving the enemy out of the country, the
victorious Japanese would not hesitate a moment to take the next step
and knock loudly and peremptorily at Europe's door, and this would put
an end once and for all to every single European colonial empire.

But while European authorities on international law were busily parading
their paper wisdom, and wondering how a war without a declaration of war
and without a diplomatic prelude could fit into the political scheme of
the world's history, at least one real item of assistance was at hand.


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Online LibraryFerdinand Heinrich GrautoffBanzai! by Parabellum → online text (page 16 of 23)