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"And do I go along, sir?" Frank wanted to know.

Again Lord Hastings nodded.

"You do," he replied, "together with the officers and crew of the
Brigadier who survived the recent engagement. Your compliment will be
filled from other vessels damaged in the raid."

"And where is the Essex now, sir?" asked Jack.

"Here," replied Lord Hastings, "in Dover. You are to go aboard this

"I can't get there too quickly to suit me," declared Jack.

"Same here," Frank agreed.

"Now, remember," enjoined Lord Hastings, "that I still am desirous of your
delivering to Secretary Daniels the document I gave you."

"Is the Admiralty still unconvinced of the likelihood of submarines
reaching American waters, sir?" asked Frank.

"It is, but you know my opinion has not changed."

"I begin to agree with you, sir," said Jack. "At first I'll admit I was
skeptical, but the way you explain the matter it sounds reasonable."

"Well," said Frank, "I hope we get there in time to spoil their plans."

"Amen to that, my boy," said Lord Hastings. "But, I'll detain you no
longer. You both probably are anxious to get a look at your new vessel."

"But we have no sailing orders, sir," said Jack.

"You will have before morning," was Lord Hastings reply. "I don't like to
hurry you off, but the truth is I'm busy and will have to get down to

"Sorry we have detained you so long," said Jack. "Goodbye, sir."

They shook hands all around, and the lads wended their way to the harbor,
where they soon were put on board their new ship.

"And now," said Frank, "while we had a good time and all that, I hope
this voyage won't be interrupted."

"My sentiments exactly," Jack agreed. "I want to have another look at



"Land Ho!"

The cry came from the forward lookout, posted aloft.

Jack clapped his binoculars to his eyes and gazed earnestly ahead.

"Where do you make our position, sir?" asked Lieutenant Hetherton.

"Off the Virginia Capes," was Jack's reply. "We should pick up Fort Monroe
before noon."

Jack was a good prophet. It still lacked half an hour of midday when the
outlines of the historic fortress at Old Point became distinguishable in
the distance.

The Essex slipped quietly through the smooth waters of Hampton Roads and
dropped anchor some distance off shore. At Jack's command the launch was
made ready, and leaving Lieutenant Hetherton in command, Jack motioned
Frank to follow him into the launch.

A moment later they were gliding shoreward through the water.

"We'll have to pay our respects to the commandant," said Jack. "It would
be a breach of etiquette if we didn't. Also, I want to ascertain the best
place to anchor for the next week or so."

"Surely you're not figuring on staying here," protested Frank.

"Not at all, but you know these papers I have been entrusted with must be
delivered, and I can't deliver them here. I'll have to go to Washington."

"Right," Frank agreed. "I had forgotten. And are you going to take me

Jack smiled.

"Well, I might, if you are real good," he said.

"I'll be good," Frank promised.

"Hello," said Jack at this point, "if I'm not mistaken, here comes a guard
of honor to escort us to the commandant."

Toward the point where the launch now moved, half a dozen American
officers approached. They extended helping hands as Jack and Frank
scrambled ashore. Jack addressed the senior officer, a major.

"I am Captain Templeton of H.M.S. Essex," he said. "Will you please escort
me into the presence of the commandant?"

"With pleasure, sir," replied the major. "Come with me."

He led the way, Frank and the other American officers following. Jack was
received immediately by the commandant. Their conference was brief, and
soon Jack returned to the place where he had left Frank.

"Well, what did he say?" demanded Frank, as they made their way back
toward the launch.

"Said it would be well to continue to Newport News," said Jack. "Docking
facilities are better there right now. We can tie up alongside one of the
piers there, or anchor off shore, as we choose. Said he would send word of
our coming."

"Good," said Frank. "Then I suppose we shall continue without delay?"


"But if memory serves," said Frank, "Newport News is on the James River,
and not Hampton Roads."

"Correct," replied Jack.

"Well, I didn't know the river was navigable by a vessel of our draught."

"It is, nevertheless," replied Jack.

They stepped into the launch, and were soon back aboard the Essex. Jack
immediately gave the necessary commands and the vessel moved forward.

Two hours later the Essex anchored in the James River half a mile off
shore. Frank took in the scene about him, and expressed his wonder.

Shipping of all the allied and many of the neutral nations was to be seen
on every hand. Almost over night, it seemed, Newport News had grown from
a port of little importance to one of the greatest shipping centers in the
United States. There, half a mile away, Frank saw one of the great German
merchantmen, which had been interned soon after the outbreak of the war,
but which was later to be converted into a United States auxiliary

"Well," said Jack, "there is no use delaying here. The commandant at the
fort informed me that about the quickest way to get to Washington now is
to take a boat up the Potomac."

"And where do we get the boat?" asked Frank.

"Norfolk. But what's the matter with you, Frank? Where's your geography?
Seems to me that if I were born and lived most of my life in the United
States I would know something about it."

"I do know something about it," declared Frank; "but how do you expect me
to know all these details? This is the first time I've ever been in
Newport News, and I've never been to Norfolk. How do we get there from

"Either in the Essex's launch, or by ferry."

"Which way do you choose?"

"Ferry, I guess. It will save trouble all around."

"Any way suits me," said Frank.

"You talk like you were dead certain of going along," remarked Jack with a

"Of course I do. I know you could not be hard-hearted enough to leave me

"Nevertheless," Jack declared, "I'm not sure I shouldn't leave you in
command here."

"By George! That's no way to talk," declared Frank. "Hetherton can stick
on the job here."

"Well, I guess it will be all right," said Jack. "We may as well pack what
belongings we shall need. We shouldn't be gone more than a day or two."

"I hope so, and I feel sure we shall. There has been no sign yet of enemy
activities in this water."

"And there won't be any sign in advance. When the Germans strike it will
be suddenly."

The lads threw what belongings they believed they would need into their
handbags and were rowed ashore. They proceeded at once to the pier of the
Chesapeake and Ohio ferry and soon were moving along toward Norfolk.

It was a short ride to Norfolk. Arrived in the city an hour later, they
inquired the way to the offices of the Washington and Norfolk Steamboat
company, where they were fortunate enough to be able to secure a stateroom
that night.

It was still early, so the lads spent the afternoon looking about the
city, called by the natives the "New York of the South." They went aboard
the steamer Northland at 5.30 o'clock, and at 6 the boat left its pier.
Jack and Frank remained on deck until after the Northland had put in at
Old Point and taken on additional passengers. Then they went below to

"You know this isn't a bad boat," Frank declared after a walk around,
following their dinner.

"Indeed it isn't," Jack agreed. "It has all the comforts of home. It's
rather small, but outside of that I can't see anything wrong with it."

"I guess it's big enough for us to-night," grinned Frank.

There were a score or more of American army and navy officers aboard and
with some of these the lads struck up an acquaintance. In fact, so
interested were some of the Americans in the lads' experiences that they
sat up late regaling their newly found friends with accounts of warfare in
European waters.

Nevertheless, Jack and Frank were up early the following morning and had a
substantial breakfast before the boat docked at the foot of Seventh street
in the nation's capital. There they took a taxi and were driven to the
Raleigh hotel.

"Now," said Jack, "the first thing to do is to get in touch with the
British ambassador and have him arrange an audience with the secretary of
the navy at the earliest possible moment."

Jack got the embassy on the telephone, told who he was and announced that
he would be on hand to see the ambassador within the hour. Then the lads
were driven to the embassy. Here Jack presented his credentials and
expressed his desire to see the secretary of the navy at once.

"You return to your hotel," said the ambassador. "I'll arrange the
audience and call for you in my automobile."

The lads followed these instructions.

At 2 o'clock in the afternoon the ambassador called for them. They were
driven at once to the War and Navy department building on Pennsylvania
avenue and were ushered almost immediately to the offices of Secretary
Daniels. After a wait of perhaps five minutes, Mr. Daniels' private
secretary announced.

"Mr. Daniels will see you now."

The three passed into the secretary's private office, where the British
ambassador introduced the lads. Secretary Daniels expressed his pleasure
at the meeting, then said:

"And now what can I do for you, gentlemen?"

For answer Jack passed over the papers entrusted him by the Admiralty.
Secretary Daniels scanned them briefly.

"These matters shall be attended to, gentlemen," he said. "Now, is there
anything else?"

"There is, sir," said Jack, "and a matter probably of much greater

He drew from his pocket the documents given him by Lord Hastings, and
these he also passed to Secretary Daniels. The latter read them
carefully, his face drawn into a scowl.

"Hm-m-m," he said at last. "Hm-m-m."

He grew silent, apparently lost in thought. At last he spoke.

"I have had some such fears myself," he said at last, "but it seems they
are not shared by other officials of the department. I dislike to take
matters altogether into my hands, and yet I suppose I can do it. First,
however, I shall make an effort to convince my associates through these

"I am instructed to say, sir," said Jack, "that it would be well if you
gave the matter prompt attention."

"Oh," said Secretary Daniels, "I anticipate no immediate trouble; and
still this is a matter that should not be overlooked. I thank you,
gentlemen, for bringing the matter to my attention."

He rose from his chair, signifying that the interview was ended.

Jack and Frank left the Navy department, and the ambassador dropped them
at their hotel.

"I don't know what to think of the Secretary of the Navy," said Jack when
they were alone. "He didn't seem greatly interested."

"He is the man, you know," said Frank, "who wanted to change the technical
terms of port and starboard to right and left."

"That's so," said Jack, "but I'll venture to say he can rise to an

"There is no doubt about that," Frank agreed, and added quietly:
"Americans always have."



Three weeks passed and Jack and Frank were still in Washington.
Immediately after delivering his messages to Secretary Daniels, Jack got
in touch with the British Admiralty wireless and asked for instructions.
When the reply came it was signed Lord Hastings and said merely:

"Stay where you are pending further orders."

And after three weeks no word had come.

Several times during the three weeks Jack and Frank, or one of the lads at
a time, had returned to Newport News to look to the needs of the Essex,
which still lay quietly in the James river. Steam was kept up in the
destroyer every moment of the day, and she was ready to put to sea on an
instant's notice.

"Chances are when we need her it will be in a hurry," said Jack.

Therefore nothing was overlooked that would enable the destroyer to go
into action on a moment's notice. Provisions were added to the stores from
time to time, and the crew were put through their drills daily.

Meanwhile, from what Jack and Frank learned from the British ambassador,
no steps had been taken to prepare for a possible German attack on
shipping in American waters. True, the coast defenses had been
strengthened, but that was merely a matter of routine for a country at

Off the coast, warships were on patrol. But there were comparatively few
of these, for the bulk of the American fleet had been sent abroad to
reinforce the British grand fleet patroling the North Sea.

Jack and Frank discussed these matters frequently.

"It would be a great time for the Germans to strike," said Jack one
evening, as the lads sat in their rooms at the hotel. "The American people
don't seem to realize the possibilities of the submarine."

"That's true," said Frank, "but at the same time such an attack might
prove a boomerang to the Germans."

"What do you mean?"

"Why," said Frank, "you haven't forgotten, have you, that it took a number
of air raids on England to fully arouse the British people to the fact
that the Germans must be licked?"

"That's true enough," agreed Jack. "The Germans, of course, figured that
they would frighten England and scare her out of the war."

"Exactly, and the result was altogether different from what they had
anticipated. That's why I say submarine activities off the American coast
will prove a boomerang to the foe."

"I see," commented Jack. "You mean it would arouse the American people to
the necessity of prompt action."


"Well," said Jack, "it begins to look as though Lord Hastings were wrong.
We've been here three weeks now and nothing has transpired to indicate
that the Germans are meditating a submarine raid in American waters."

"You don't expect them to tip the Washington government off in advance, do
you?" asked Frank with a laugh.

"Hardly; but it would seem that if such a campaign had been planned it
would have been started before this."

"It wouldn't surprise me," said Frank, "to get a flash any day that a ship
had been submarined off the American coast."

Came a rap at the door.

"Come in," Frank called.

A bell boy entered. He held a tray in his hand and on the tray was a

"From Lord Hastings, I suppose," said Frank, taking the message and
passing it to Jack.

Jack broke the seal, spread out the paper. The message, in code, was this:

"Authentic information flotilla submarines headed for America.
Warn Navy Department at once."

Jack sprang to the telephone and got the British embassy on the wire.

"The ambassador, quick!" he said to the voice that answered his call.

There was a short pause, and then Jack recognized the ambassador's voice.

"I've just had a wireless from Lord Hastings relative to the matter which
we discussed with Secretary Daniels several weeks ago," he explained. "Can
you arrange another interview immediately?"

"I'll see," said the ambassador and rang off.

The telephone in the lads' room jangled sharply ten minutes later. Jack
sprang to the wire.

"Yes," he said in response to a query. "Ten o'clock? You'll call for us?
Very well."

He replaced the receiver and turned to Frank.

"We will see Secretary Daniels in his office at ten," he said. He looked
at his watch. "Hurry and dress. It's after nine now. The ambassador should
be here in fifteen minutes."

The lads jumped into their clothes, then went downstairs, where they
awaited the arrival of the ambassador. The latter arrived ten minutes
before ten o'clock, and the three were driven to the War and Navy
building. Secretary Daniels received them at once.

"I understand that you come on a very important matter," he said. "Pray,
what is it, gentlemen?"

For answer Jack laid before the American naval secretary the decoded
message from Lord Hastings. The secretary read it, then looked up.

"Well?" he asked.

"Why, sir," said Jack, "Lord Hastings simply wishes you to take all
precautions to prevent sinking of vessels by submarines in American

Secretary Daniels smiled.

"I don't know what we can do that has not already been done," he replied.
"The off-coast waters are mined, and American warships are patroling the
regular channels of navigation."

"All that may be true, sir," said Jack, "but these submarines are slippery
customers, as I have reason to know. It would be well to take even further

"And what would you suggest?" asked Secretary Daniels.

"Why, sir," said Jack, "I'd suggest cancelling sailing orders of all
transports temporarily, at least until such time as I felt sure they could
go in safety. Then I'd flash a warning broadcast to all vessels within
reach of the wireless to be on the lookout for enemy submarines. I'd rush
every available submarine chaser in the Atlantic ports beyond the mine
fields and I would order a destroyer as protection for every vessel known
to be inward bound."

Secretary Daniels smiled.

"You wouldn't overlook anything, would you, Captain?"

"I certainly would not," said Jack firmly.

"Very well, then," said Secretary Daniels. "I'll set your mind at rest.
Your suggestions shall be followed out. I'll give the necessary directions
the first thing in the morning."

"In the morning, sir?" repeated Jack. "The morning may be too late."

"Oh, I guess not," Secretary Daniels smiled. "It has been three weeks or
more since your first warning and nothing has happened. I guess we can
safely depend upon being let alone a few hours after the second warning."

Jack was about to protest, thought better of it and said simply:

"Very well, sir."

A moment later the lads took their departure with the ambassador. In the
seclusion of the latter's automobile, Jack said:

"I can't see how the secretary dares let time slip by like that."

"Never mind," said the ambassador, "you'll find in a day or two that
Secretary Daniels knows what he's doing. Don't make any mistake about him.
He's a capable man."

"I have no doubt of that, sir," replied Jack. "But if he had seen three
years of war, as we have, he would never delay. Besides, he doesn't know
these German submarines as well as I do. Neither do any of the Americans."

"Oh, yes they do," declared Frank.

"They do, eh?" exclaimed Jack. "Well, I'd like to know the name of one of

"His name," said Frank, "is Lieutenant Chadwick, and I think he knows just
about as much about the U-Boats as you do; and he agrees with your ideas

Jack smiled.

"That's right," he said. "I had forgotten you were a native of this land.
Well, here's hoping nothing happens before Secretary Daniels takes all
necessary precautions."

The British ambassador left the lads at their hotel, and they returned at
once to their rooms, where for several hours they discussed the situation.

"There is no use talking about it," said Frank at last. "Let's go to bed."

They undressed.

Just before extinguishing the light, as was his custom, Frank raised the
window. As he looked out he saw below a crowd of excited men and women
moving about the street.

"Hey, Jack!" he called. "Come here."

Jack joined him at the window.

"Now what's up, do you suppose?" asked Frank.

"Too deep for me," declared Jack, "but something surely. Let's go down and
find out."

Hurriedly they slipped back into their clothes, and went down stairs. They
stepped out of the hotel and mingled with the people on the streets, quite
a crowd for Washington at that hour of the night.

The stream of people led toward Eleventh and Pennsylvania avenue, where a
larger crowd was gathered in front of a bulletin board in the window of a
newspaper office.

"Big news of some kind," said Jack as they hurried along.

"And not good news, either," Frank declared. "There'd be some cheering if
it were."

"You're right," said Jack.

By main force they wormed their way through the crowd, until they were
close enough to read the bulletin board. Then Jack uttered an exclamation
of alarm.

"I knew it!" he cried.

For what he read was this:

"Navy Department announces sinking of two freight vessels off New Jersey
coast by German submarines."

"I knew it!" Jack said again.



The boys returned to their rooms.

"Now what?" asked Frank.

"I don't know," was Jack's reply. "I hate to sit here quietly when the
whole American navy, or what part of it is still here, is in chase of the
Germans, but what are we going to do about it?"

"Search me," replied Frank.

"Our instructions," Jack continued, "are to stay here pending further

"Maybe we'll get them soon," said Frank.

"Yes; and maybe we won't."

"Then we'll just have to sit tight."

"That's what worries me."

There was a knock at the door.

"Come in," Frank called.

A bell boy entered with a second cablegram.

Jack tore it open hastily.

"Hurray!" he cried.

"What's up?" demanded Frank.

He arose and peered over his chum's shoulder. What he read was this:

"Offer your services and the services of the Essex to the U.S. Navy
Department at once."

"Fine!" cried Frank. "Let's get busy."

It was the work of half an hour, however, to get Secretary Daniels on the
telephone. He had been aroused at the first news of the sinkings off the
coast and had been kept on the jump ever since. But he took time to talk
to Jack.

"I am authorized by the British Admiralty, sir," said Jack over the
'phone, "to offer the services of my ship to the American government."

"Accepted with thanks," snapped Secretary Daniels. "You will proceed
immediately to your vessel in Newport News, after which you will join the
American vessels on patrol duty off the coast of Virginia. I shall inform
Admiral Sellings that you will report to him for instructions."

Without awaiting a reply, Secretary Daniels hung up.

"By George!" said Jack. "He's a man of action when he gets to moving."

"What did he say?" demanded Frank.

"Hurry and pack your things," was Jack's reply. "I'll explain as we work."

It was the work of only a few minutes for the lads to gather their
belongings and dump them in their handbags. Then they hurried downstairs,
where they paid their bill and learned that they could catch a train to
Richmond within the hour.

"Going after the submarines?" asked the night clerk.

"Yes," replied Jack shortly.

"Good! I hope you get 'em. Here's your taxi."

The lads jumped into the taxi and were driven to the station, where they
caught their train with time to spare.

It lacked two hours of daylight when they arrived in Richmond. They took a
taxi across town to the Chesapeake and Ohio station, where they caught a
train for Newport News an hour later. At eight o'clock they were in
Newport News, and fifteen minutes later stepped aboard the Essex.

"Glad to see you back, sir," said Lieutenant Hetherton, who held the deck.
"I suppose you've heard - - "

"Pipe all hands to quarters, Mr. Hetherton," Jack interrupted sharply,
"and clear ship for action. We sail within the hour."

Lieutenant Hetherton hurried away.

"Frank," said Jack, "go below and have a look at the engine room. Then
find the quartermaster and see about provisions and fuel."

Frank also hurried away.

Sailing preparations aboard the Essex were made hurriedly and within less
than an hour all was ready for departure. Meanwhile, crowds had collected
ashore, upon learning that the Essex was about to set out in pursuit of
the German undersea raiders.

Loud cheers split the air. Men and women waved their handkerchiefs. From a
group of soldiers on the shore came expressions of good luck. In response
to Jack's request, a pilot had been hurried aboard and now took the wheel.

"Half speed ahead," Jack ordered.

The water churned up ahead of the Essex, and she moved majestically toward
the center of the stream.

Gradually the cheering died away in the distance, and the city of Newport
News was lost to sight. In Hampton Roads again, the pilot was dropped in a
small boat and rowed shoreward.

Frank took his place behind the helmsman and Jack rang for full speed
ahead. At last the Essex was off in pursuit of the German submarines.

Meanwhile, an account of the activity of the enemy off the coats is in
order. Besides the sinking of the first two freight vessels, which had

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Online LibraryRobert L. DrakeThe Boy Allies with the Victorious Fleets The Fall of the German Navy → online text (page 5 of 12)