Robert L. Drake.

The Boy Allies with the Victorious Fleets The Fall of the German Navy online

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Jack. This Jack dodged and sought to regain his hold on his foe. But the
German wriggled away and struck out for the submarine.

In the meantime, Captain Griswold of the Ventura had been watching the
struggle as his vessel sped away from the scene. There was a strange light
in his eyes and he muttered to himself. At last he muttered an
imprecation.

"He's a brave boy," he said. "I can't run away and leave him like that."

He brought the head of the vessel around in spite of the protests of some
of the passengers, and headed back for the submarine.

"Man the forward gun there!" he cried.

For the Ventura, like other allied ships plying in the seas in those days,
carried small guns for defensive purposes. The gun crew sprang to obey
this order and the gun was trained on the submarine.

"Fire!" shouted Captain Griswold.

"Crash!"

The gun spoke and a geyser of water was kicked up just beyond the
submarine.

At this point the officer left in command of the submarine seemed to
realize his own danger. He sprang to the conning tower, unmindful of the
fact that his commander was struggling in the water.

"Down, men!" he cried.

But it appeared that the German sailors were made of sterner stuff than
was the officer. They refused to go below until their commander had been
brought safely aboard. In vain the officer pointed out their danger.

Jack struck out after the German commander as the latter swam for the
submarine. The lad was a powerful swimmer and he felt confident he could
overtake the man before help could reach him.

The destroyer Essex had now drawn close. Frank had been afraid to order a
shot at the submarine for fear the shell might hit Jack in the water.

"Take the bridge, Mr. Hetherton!" he cried. "Lower a boat, men!"

The boat was lowered in a trice and Frank and a score of sailors sprang
in. The launch darted toward Jack at full speed, Frank standing erect and
with the quartermaster at the rudder.

They were close enough to see the struggle between Jack and the German
commander in the water. Frank saw the man break loose from Jack and strike
out for the submarine. He saw Jack make after him, and he saw something
more.

Half a dozen German sailors leaped into the water and made for Jack, who
apparently did not realize his own danger, so interested was he in the
pursuit of the German commander.

"Faster!" cried Frank, and drew his revolver.

Now, for the first time, Jack realized his danger. But it was too late to
draw back, and it is doubtful if he would have done so anyway.

"I'm going to get that fellow," he gritted between his teeth, referring to
the German commander.

One of the German sailors struck at the lad with a knife. Jack caught the
man's arm with his left hand and twisted sharply. There was a snap, and
the knife dropped into the water. The sailor uttered a cry of pain and
turning, struck out for the submarine with his good arm.

Two sailors now beset Jack on either side, and the German commander turned
to renew the struggle.

"Kill him!" he cried angrily.

One of the sailors raised himself high in the water, and a knife flashed
above him.

"Crack!"

A revolver spoke sharply and the knife dropped from limp fingers.

Frank, standing erect in the Essex's launch, had fired. Now, as has been
said, Frank was a crack shot, and in spite of the pitching of the small
boat, his aim had been true. The bullet had struck the German sailor's arm
just below the elbow, shattering the nerve.

Perceiving the approach of reinforcements, at an order from their
commander, the Germans turned and swam rapidly toward the submarine. The
sailors reached the vessel and climbed aboard. Their commander did
likewise.

Unmindful of the cries of his friends behind him, Jack also laid hold of
the edge of the submarine and drew himself, dripping, aboard the vessel. A
sailor near the conning tower raised his revolver in deliberate aim.

"Crack! Crack!"

Two revolvers spoke almost as one, the first Frank's, the second that of
the sailor who aimed at Jack. But Frank's bullet went home, thus
deflecting the aim of the man who covered Jack, and the German's bullet
went wild.

The commander of the submarine, at this juncture, losing his temper at
being pursued to the very door of safety, turned and sprang for Jack with
a wild cry. He was a big and powerful man, and as he wrapped his arms
about Jack, the lad staggered back.

But he recovered his balance in a moment and struck out with his right
fist. Struck in the stomach, the German grunted and stepped back.

Now the remainder of the German crew came pouring on deck. At the same
time Frank's launch grated alongside and his men poured a volley of rifle
bullets into the enemy. The latter turned and scampered for safety below
decks.

Jack, still struggling with the German commander, paused and looked around
long enough to cry:

"After them, Frank! Don't let them shut you out."

Frank understood and led his men toward the conning tower at a run. Most
of the enemy were already inside and descending, but Frank arrived in time
to prevent the closing of the conning tower, which would have permitted
the submarine to submerge, leaving the struggling figures in the water.
With the conning tower open, it was, of course, impossible for the U-Boat
to submerge, for she would have been flooded immediately.

Frank's men made prisoners of the half a dozen Germans who had not time to
get below, and then the lad ran over to help Jack.

"Keep away, Frank," said Jack. "I've got this fellow, and I hope he
doesn't give up too easily. We've heavy accounts to settle with him."

The big German showed no symptoms of giving up. He lashed out with both
arms and Jack was kept busy warding off the blows. But the German
commander was a novice at this sort of fighting, while Jack, only a year
or so before, had won the heavyweight boxing championship of the British
navy. So there was no doubt in Frank's mind as to the outcome. He and his
men formed a circle around the struggling figures, at the same time
guarding the conning tower to prevent the enemy from closing it.

"Shoot the first head you see down there," Frank enjoined the men he left
on guard, and he knew they would be only too glad to obey this order.

Jack, with a smile still on his face, permitted the German commander to
waste his energy in ineffective blows. Then Jack stepped forward and
delivered a heavy blow to the man's mouth. The German staggered back. Jack
doubled him up with a left-handed punch to the pit of the stomach, then
straightened him with a second hard right to the point of the chin.

The German commander reeled backward. Jack followed up his advantage, and
for the space of a minute played a tattoo on the man's face with both
fists. Then he stepped back, and as the German came toward him, the lad
muttered:

"I guess this has gone far enough. Now for the finish."

He started a blow almost from the deck, and putting his full force behind
it, struck.

"Crack!"

The blow could be heard even aboard the Ventura, which had approached
close by this time.

The German commander seemed to stagger back all of ten paces, the British
sailors scurrying back to keep out of his way. Then the man fell, his head
striking the deck with a sickening thud.

"There," said Jack, "I guess that will settle you. Tie him up, men."

A wild cheer had burst from the sailors as Jack delivered the finishing
touch. None of these men had ever seen Jack in action before, and it was
only natural that they should be greatly impressed at this exhibition of
their commander's prowess.

"By glory! What a blow!" one of them exclaimed. "Did you see it, Tom?"

"Did I?" exclaimed the man addressed as Tom; "did I? I'll say I did, and I
thought I was pretty handy with my fists. But not against Captain Jack,
not for me."

As bidden by Jack, the sailors rolled the German commander over and bound
him. Then they carried him to the Essex's launch and threw him in, none
too gently, either, for there was no man there who had not a disgust for
Germans, German tactics and everything German.

"Now," said Frank to Jack, "I guess we may as well stand clear and let the
Essex pour a few shells into the vessel, eh?"

Jack shook his head.

"No," he said, "we shall take possession of the vessel. Call down below
and see if the Germans will surrender."

Frank approached the conning tower and called down.

"Hello!" he shouted.

There was no response.

"Hello below!" he shouted again in German.

"What do you want?" came a sullen voice from below.

"We're in possession of this vessel now," said Frank. "Come up here and
surrender."

"We'll stay where we are," came the reply after a brief pause.

"But you can't man," exclaimed Frank. "Don't you know when you have been
captured."

"We'll stay here awhile," said the spokesman of the sailors.

"But you can't stay there forever, and you can't submerge," said Frank.
"Come up and surrender."

To this the lad received no response. Frank reported to Jack.

"So they won't surrender, eh?" said Jack. "Then we'll go down and get
them."

"Rather risky, Jack," Frank warned.

"So it is," Jack agreed. "So's the whole war. But wait. We'll see."




CHAPTER XVII

CAPTURE OF THE SUBMARINE


Captain Griwsold aboard the Ventura had watched the struggle on the
submarine with eager eyes. His fingers clenched and unclenched.

"I'd like to get into that," he muttered. "I guess I'm not too old."

Abruptly he turned to the first officer.

"Lower a boat," he said. "I'm going aboard the submarine."

The first officer protested.

"But the passengers - " he began.

"The passengers be hanged," said the captain of the Ventura. "Besides,
we're safer here under the nose of this destroyer than we would be
prowling off by ourselves."

The first officer protested no longer. A boat was lowered and Captain
Griswold and half a dozen sailors climbed in and put off for the
submarine, where they arrived just in time to overhear Jack say that if
the Germans in the submarine didn't surrender they would go after them.
Captain Griswold laid a hand on Jack's shoulder.

"You're some scrapper, youngster," he said.

Jack was thus made aware for the first time that the Ventura had not
rushed for her home port.

"I thought you'd gone, Captain," he said.

"I was on my way," said the captain of the Ventura, "until I saw you
fighting these murderers single-handed. I came back to see if I could
help."

"Thanks," Jack laughed, "but I guess there are enough of us to attend to
them without you, Captain."

"I'm not sure about that," declared Captain Griswold. "I just heard you
say you were going below after those fellows?"

"Well?" questioned Jack.

"Pretty risky," responded Captain Griswold, shaking his head. "How do you
figure to get 'em?"

"Rush 'em," said Jack briefly.

Again the captain of the Ventura shook his head doubtfully.

"Too risky altogether," he declared. "The first one of you that shows his
head down there will be potted, sure as fate."

"But we've got to do it, Captain," said Jack. "How else is it to be done?"

"Well," said Captain Griswold, removing his cap and scratching his head,
"I guess I can suggest a way."

"I'm open to conviction, Captain," said Jack.

"Aboard my ship," went on Captain Griswold, "I have a supply of a certain
sort of gas which, if used properly, will do in minutes what it may take
you hours to accomplish."

"By George!" said Frank. "Kill 'em all at once, eh?"

"Well, no, it won't do that," replied Captain Griswold, "but it'll put 'em
to sleep long enough for you fellows to go down and tie 'em up."

"Bring on the gas, Captain," said Jack quietly.

Captain Griswold hustled back to his boat with the agility of a small
school boy.

"Back to the ship," he roared to the sailors who rowed him.

He mounted the ladder swiftly and summoned his first officer.

"Helgoson," he said, "those Britishers have gone and almost captured that
submarine. It's up to us to help 'em complete the job."

"How, sir?" asked the first officer.

"Do you know where that gas tank is below?"

"Yes, sir."

"Fetch it here. It's small enough so you can carry it. Also get the hose
and the pump."

"Yes, sir."

The first officer hurried away. He was back in a few moments with the
necessary articles, which Captain Griswold took charge of himself.

"Helgoson," said Captain Griswold, "if you were a younger man I would
invite you to take a hand in this party yourself. As it is, you'll have to
stick behind with the passengers."

"But I'm younger than you by almost twenty years, sir," protested the
first officer.

"Oh, no you're not," laughed the commander of the Ventura, "you just think
you are. I've grown twenty years younger this day."

He summoned a pair of sailors, whom he loaded down with the gas, hose and
pump with instructions to place them carefully in the small boat.

"And now for the submarine," he confided to his first officer.

On deck, half a dozen passengers approached the captain with inquiries as
to what was going on.

"Why," he said with a grin, "we're just going to capture a submarine,
that's all. Stick close to the side of the ship and you'll see how it's
done. A lesson like this may come in handy some day."

The passengers protested.

"But the danger - " one began.

"Danger be hanged," said the captain. "There is no danger. While there was
danger we were scuttling for the safety of land and now we come back when
it's all over. You should all be glad of this opportunity to render your
country a service. What sort of citizens are you, anyhow?"

Without further words he climbed down to the launch and was hustled back
to the submarine, where Jack and the others were awaiting him eagerly.

"Well," said Captain Griswold, motioning to the articles that the sailors
laid on the deck, "here's the stuff. Get busy."

"How do you work it, Captain?" asked Jack.

"Don't you know?" demanded Captain Griswold. "Well, I'll tell you what.
You just put me in command here for fifteen minutes and I'll do the job
for you."

"All right, sir," said Jack. "Your commands shall be obeyed."

Captain Griswold turned to the nearest sailor.

"Take that hose and attach it to the nozzle on the tank," he directed.
The sailor did so.

"Now the pump," said the captain, "you will find a place for it on the
other side of the tank."

This was adjusted to the captain's satisfaction.

"Now," said the captain, "all you have to do is to stick this nozzle down
the conning tower, turn it so as to give the gas full play and pump. Of
course the gas would carry without the pump, but you save time this way."

"One moment, Captain," said Jack. "How about ourselves? Won't the gas
affect us as well as the Germans?"

Captain Griswold clapped a hand to his side.

"Now what do you think of that?" he demanded. "I must be getting old
before my time. Here, Lands," he called one of his own men, who
approached. "Go and tell Helgoson I want two dozen of those gas masks in
the store room; and hustle."

The sailor hurried away. He was back within fifteen minutes, and Captain
Griswold distributed the gas masks. Then he took the nozzle of the hose,
poked it down the conning tower and looked around.

"Everybody ready?" he asked.

Jack also glanced around. Every man on the deck of the submarine wore a
gas mask.

"All right, sir," said Jack.

"Then you turn that screw there when I give the word. All right? Then
shoot!"

There was a hissing sound as Jack turned on the gas.

For perhaps ten minutes Captain Griswold moved the hose to and fro. Then
he pulled it forth and motioned Jack to turn the screw again. This the lad
did. Captain Griswold then motioned the others to follow him, and led the
way below.

At the foot of the conning tower they stumbled across several figures,
overcome by the fumes. These were quickly bound and passed up on deck to
the men who remained behind.

The search of the submarine took perhaps half an hour. Every nook and
cranny was explored. The gas had done its work well. Apparently it had
poured in so rapidly that the crew had had no time to open the portholes,
for they were all closed. Captain Griswold opened them now.

Then he led the way on deck, and closing the conning tower, removed his
gas mask. The others followed his example.

"Simple, wasn't it?" said the captain of the Ventura to Jack, grinning
like a boy. "Lucky I happened to come back."

"It is indeed," said Jack. "But won't this gas affect us, Captain?"

"Not out here," was the reply. "It's not strong enough. You can barely
smell it now. Now what are you going to do with the submarine?"

Jack considered a moment.

"I'll tell you Captain," he said, "it strikes me that this submarine is
really the prize of the Ventura. At all events, I cannot be bothered with
it, for there is still patrol work to do in these waters. Can't you tow
her into port?"

"Can't I?" shouted Captain Griswold. "You bet I can. You give the word and
I'll tie her on behind right now."

"All right, Captain," said Jack. "She's yours."

Captain Griswold almost danced a jig there on the deck of the German
submarine.

"Won't New York sit up and take notice when old Captain Griswold comes
into port towing a submarine?" he chortled. "Well, I guess. Here, Lands,
go back to the ship and throw me a line. Then come back and help make it
fast."

This was accomplished with astonishing rapidity and amid the cheering of
the crew and passengers of the Ventura and the wild hurrahs of the British
tars of the Essex.

"Well, she's all fixed," said Captain Griswold, "and to tell you the truth
I'm rather sorry. Of course I'm old and all that, but just the same I'd
like to go with you fellows."

"You're doing your share, Captain," said Jack seriously. "All of us can't
do the fighting, you know. But there's work just as important, and you are
doing your part. But we must be moving now. We've wasted time enough."

"So we have," declared Captain Griswold. "Shall you leave us here, sir?"

"No," said Jack, "we'll follow and see you safely in harbor."

"Very well. Then I shall return to the Ventura."

"And I to the Essex, Captain. Good-bye and good luck to you."

Captain Griswold shook hands heartily with Jack, and then insisted on
shaking hands as well with Frank, and every officer and member of the
British crew aboard the submarine. Then he put off for his ship.

Jack and the others returned to the Essex. When the lad reached the
bridge, the Ventura was already moving, the submarine trailing behind.

"A fine man, Captain Griswold," said Frank.

"Right," Jack agreed. "And the U-87 is his so far as I'm concerned. He
might hang it on his parlor wall for a souvenir."

"Or wear it as a watch charm," added Frank with a grin.




CHAPTER XVIII

ASHORE


For two days the Essex had been cruising up and down the coast on patrol
duty, looking for submarines. Several times the destroyer had been
ordered farther out to sea to form an escort for an incoming steamer, but
after her encounter with the U-87 she had sighted no more of the enemy.

Following the report of two vessels sunk off the coast on May 10, the day
on which the presence of German raiders off the coast was first reported,
the number of sinkings increased the following day, and the next. After
that they fell off, however, and upon the fifth day only one ship - a small
schooner - was sent to the bottom off the coast of Delaware.

The prisoners taken from the U-87 were stowed safely away below-decks on
the Essex, after which Jack got in touch with Admiral Sellings, on the
Dakota, by wireless. He reported the capture of the submarine and the fact
that it was being towed into port by the Ventura. Admiral Sellings ordered
Jack to continue his patrol of the coast until further notice.

Nevertheless, the Essex escorted the Ventura almost to port, before
putting about and resuming her patrol duty.

All the remainder of that day and the two days that followed Jack kept his
ship moving up and down the coast, but he caught no sight of an enemy
vessel, nor were any of the sinkings reported in that time close enough to
be considered within his territory.

On the fourth day came a message from Admiral Sellings.

"German submarine reported twenty miles north of Cape Charles," read the
message. "Investigate."

Jack acknowledged receipt of the order and addressed Frank, who stood
beside him on the bridge.

"Something definite to act on at last," he said, and read the admiral's
message aloud, adding: "Shape your course accordingly, Mr. Chadwick."

Frank gave the necessary directions. The big ship came about and headed
south again.

It was well along in the afternoon when the Essex reached the approximate
point designated by Admiral Sellings. Jack ran the destroyer as close
in-shore as he dared, and for several hours cruised about in the
neighborhood. But he saw nothing to indicate the presence of a submarine.

"If there's a U-Boat here, it's keeping pretty well under cover," said
Frank.

"So it is," replied Jack. "I don't know where the admiral got his
information, but I've got my doubts of its authenticity."

Frank's eyes were caught at that moment by the sight of a small row boat
putting off from the shore. He watched it idly for a moment, and then
noted that it was headed directly for the Essex.

"Hello," he said, "here comes some one to visit us."

Directly the little boat scraped alongside the now stationary destroyer
and the figure in the boat indicated that he wanted to come aboard.

"Don't know what he wants," muttered Jack, "but it'll be just as well to
have him up and find out."

A few moments later the occupant stood before Jack and his officers on the
bridge.

"My name," he said, "is Charles Cutlip, and I live back there." He waved a
hand shoreward. "I suppose you are hunting for submarines, Captain?"

Jack nodded.

"That's what we're here for," he affirmed.

"I thought so," said young Cutlip - he was a little more than a boy. "Well,
Captain, maybe I can help you."

Jack gave an exclamation of astonishment.

"What do you mean?" he asked.

"I don't know exactly," replied the boy. "Yesterday afternoon, while I was
in the house alone, three strange men appeared at the door. They wore the
costume of an ordinary seafaring man, but when they asked me for food they
had a strange manner of speech. They weren't Americans, I'm sure of that."

"And you think they were from a submarine, eh?" asked Jack.

"I'm sure of it, Captain. There were no other ships near, and they could
not have come overland, for it is a long ways to the nearest village and
they had neither horses nor automobile."

"And what did you say to them?" asked Frank.

"I gave them what food there was in the house, but they said it wasn't
enough. About this time my father came in unexpectedly. The strangers drew
revolvers and covered him. They told him they would be back to-night and
that they required him to have a certain amount of food on hand. They
threatened to kill him if he gave the alarm - and they threatened to kill
me too."

"By George!" exclaimed Frank. "It looks as though we had come to the right
spot, Jack."

"It certainly does," agreed Jack. "Now tell us the rest of your tale,
son."

"That's about all," said the boy. "They devoured what food I gave them and
then disappeared."

"And your father sent you for help, I suppose," added Frank.

"No," said the boy. "I came of my own accord. My father is badly
frightened. He has gone to find the food for the strangers. I slipped away
and ran toward the sea. Then I saw your ship, sir, and I hurried to tell
you."

"You have done well," said Jack, laying a hand on the lad's shoulder. "And
now you will be willing to help us further, will you not?"

"Of course I shall, sir."

"Very good. Now you look around the ship to your heart's content, while I
hold a conference with my officers."

"Very well, sir."

The boy walked away. Jack held a consultation with his officers on the
bridge.

"If the boy is telling the truth," he said, "and I have no doubt of it, we
are in luck. It may be that we can capture this German crew ashore and
then take possession of the submarine."

"But, sir," protested Lieutenant Hetherton, "if the submarine were to come
to the surface now and catch sight of the Essex it would never come back
again."

"I had thought of that," replied Jack, "and I have a plan that will offset
it. You see that projecting reef there?" and Jack pointed to the north.
The others signified that they did. "Well," Jack continued, "back of that


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Online LibraryRobert L. DrakeThe Boy Allies with the Victorious Fleets The Fall of the German Navy → online text (page 7 of 12)