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It seemed hard that with the opportunities offered him he should have
failed to make his mark, and doubly hard that his subordinates should
be signalled out for promotion, while he, as far as he knew, was
slightingly passed over. Nevertheless he offered his sincere
congratulations to Fielding and Cardyke. He was not a man to repine
when others deserved and received advancement.

At length the company sat down. Amongst the guests were General Oki,
and Hokosuka, and Mukyima, who had purposely journeyed down from
London for the festive occasion; and the Japanese, who had played
such a prominent part in the unlawful commission of the
_Impregnable_, came in for no small share of attention.

After the customary toasts had been duly honoured, the head waiter
appeared bearing a covered silver dish. A tense silence fell upon the
jovial company. Those who knew what was about to happen seemed to
exercise a magnetic influence over those who did not.

Then the string band burst forth into the strains of an old popular
refrain, "Where did you get that hat?"

Simultaneously the waiter whisked off the cover, and on the dish
reposed a naval officer's cocked hat.

A roar of hearty laughter greeted its appearance. Thompson, Fielding,
Cardyke, and one or two others looked grave, wondering how Drake
would take it; but to their relief the victim of the practical joke,
flushing slightly under his bronzed skin, rose to his feet, and, with
a reassuring smile, raised his hand to command silence.

"Gentlemen," he began, "I will not attempt a speech. If I did I
should say what I didn't mean to say, and leave unsaid what I meant
to say. But I see you have not forgotten to remind me of that little
failing of mine on the occasion of the match which this gathering is
celebrating in its customary manner. It will not be said that a Drake
is not a man of his word. I promised to eat my hat; I will do so.
Will you kindly pass the article round to show that there is no
deception?"

The practical jokers began to look unduly anxious. They never
expected Drake would have taken the matter so calmly. Perhaps he had
been warned, and had prepared a counter-plot? He had. Producing a
small parcel, Drake cut the string, and unwrapped the paper. Within
was a small replica of a lieutenant's cocked hat, faithfully executed
in confectionery. Inside were written the words, "My hat!"

Having passed the edible model round for inspection, Drake, amid the
applause of his comrades, gravely proceeded to eat it.

As soon as Drake had completed his meal, Thompson stood up.

"Gentlemen!" he exclaimed. "I think it only right that we should
signify our satisfaction at the way in which a Drake keeps his word,
by giving him a little certificate of his - er - his conduct. Allow me,
sir, to present you with this."

And leaning over the table Thompson handed the newly appointed
commander the momentous telegram.

Drake took it, hesitatingly, as if suspecting another joke at his
expense, looked at it casually, then again intently.

He tried to speak, but no words came from his agitated lips. He sat
down.

"Gentlemen!" shouted Thompson, in stentorian zones. "A toast:
Commander Douglas Drake, D.S.O., and the heroes of 'The Stolen
Cruiser.'"



THE END



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THE GREAT ANTARCTIC. By JOHN MACKIE. Bound to
be one of the great favourites of the season.

THE STOLEN CRUISER. By PERCY F. WESTERMAN
A thrilling sea story.

WILD NATURE WOOED AND WON. By OLIVER G.
PIKE, F.Z.S., F.R.P.S., and MAGDALEN F. P. TUCK. With
52 photos of Bird Life.

SCHOLARS AND SCOUTS. A most fascinating story of
scouting and school life. By ERNEST PROTHEROE.

BRAVE GIRLS ALL. By OLIVIA FOWELL.

THE FOURTH FORM AT WESTBOURNE. By C. J.
MANSFORD.

FAIRY GROUND. By LADY MACALISTER.

THE BRIG "JANE MARY." By FRANCIS MARLOWE.

UNCLE HAL. By LADY MACALISTER. The £100 Prize
Story.

SCOUTING FOR A KING. By ERNEST PROTHEROE.

PREFECT AND FAG. By CHAS. J. MANSFORD.

THE REBELLION OF MARGARET. By GERALDINE
MÖCKLER.

BULLY, FAG, AND HERO. By CHAS. J. MANSFORD.

FAGS AND THE KING. By CHAS. J. MANSFORD.

BOYS OF THE BRIGADE. By ERNEST PROTHEROE.

AFTER SCHOOL. By ROBERT OVERTON.

KITTY LANDON'S GIRLHOOD. By JESSIE ARMSTRONG.

HARUM SCARUM. By ESMÈ STUART.

HARUM SCARUM'S FORTUNE. By ESMÈ STUART.

THE WILD RUTHVENS. By CURTIS YORKE.

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LONDON: JARROLD & SONS




{Transcriber's Notes:

The following misprint has been corrected:

{The shock of the collison} -> {The shock of the collision}

Obvious punctuation/spelling errors were corrected without note.
}







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Online LibraryPercy F. (Percy Francis) WestermanThe Stolen Cruiser → online text (page 12 of 12)