Robert L. Drake.

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

. (page 8 of 12)
Online LibraryRobert L. DrakeThe Boy Allies with the Victorious Fleets The Fall of the German Navy → online text (page 8 of 12)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


is as cosy a little harbor as you would care to see. I noticed it as we
came by. We'll take the Essex there, and she will be hidden well enough."

"Unless the submarine should chance to come to the surface there," was
Frank's objection.

"We'll have to leave something to chance," declared Jack.

"In which event your plan is as good as any I can conceive," said Frank.
"But after we get the Essex there, then what?"

"Why," said Jack, "I'll take a party of half a hundred men or so and
surround the house of this Cutlip boy. When the Germans arrive we'll nab
'em. After that we can find the submarine."

"Hasn't it struck you, sir," Frank asked of Jack, "that maybe the men who
accosted this boy and his father were merely bluffing? That they may not
return to-night?"

"It has," Jack replied, "but at the same time there is a chance that they
will. Therefore, in lieu of any other clue as to the whereabouts of the
submarine, I deem it well to act on what information, we have."

"It won't hurt anything, that's sure, sir," was Lieutenant Hetherton's
comment.

In this the other officers agreed.

"Very well then," said Jack. "It shall be as I suggested. Mr. Chadwick,
will you shape your course for the point I have mentioned."

"But the boy, sir?" said Frank. "Shall we not put him over the side
first?"

"No; we'll take him with us," Jack decided.

As the destroyer began to forge ahead, the Cutlip boy grew alarmed and
hurried to Jack's side.

"You are not taking me away, are you, sir?" he asked fearfully.

"No," replied Jack, and outlined the situation as fully as he deemed wise.

Young Cutlip was plainly eager to help in the capture of the German
submarine crew.

"And you feel sure they will come back to-night?" Jack questioned.

"Yes, sir. They must be very hungry. If you could have seen those three
men devour what little food I gave them! They seemed to be half starved."

"Strange, too," Jack muttered, "considering the number of ships they have
sunk in these waters recently. They should have replenished their stores."

"It may be that this was one of the less fortunate submarines," said
Frank. "The sinkings may have been done by other U-Boats."

"That's true, too," said Jack. "I hadn't thought of that. I guess that
must be the answer."

Less than an hour later, the Essex passed behind the shelter of the reef
Jack had mentioned. There Jack ordered her stopped, and anchor dropped.

"We should be out of sight here," he said, "unless, as you suggested,
Frank, the enemy should come to the surface at this point. And we'll have
to trust to luck that they don't."

"And now what, sir?" asked Frank.

"I'll let you select a hundred men of the crew for shore duty," said Jack.

This task did not take long, and Frank had picked and armed his men within
half an hour.

"Now," said Jack, "I'm going to put you in command of the party, Frank.
Lieutenant Hetherton shall go along as your immediate subordinate. Two
officers are enough. The rest of us will wait here. But if you have not
returned soon after daylight, we'll start a search for you."

"I can see no reason why we should be longer," said Frank. "We'll do the
best we can."

"Then I would suggest that you go ashore at once," said Jack. "You must
reach the Cutlip home while it is yet daylight in order to lay your
plans."

"Right, sir," said Frank, saluting. "We shall go ashore at once."

They put off over the side in small boats and rowed toward the shore,
where they landed less than an hour after the Essex dropped anchor. Jack
waved a hand to his chum from the bridge.

"Good luck!" he called.

Frank waved back at him, then addressed his men.

"By fours! Forward march!" he commanded.

The party, with young Cutlip in their midst, moved inland.




CHAPTER XIX

IN THE NIGHT


It was not a long march to the Cutlip home, and the Essex party reached
there some time before nightfall. Young Cutlip now whispered a word of
caution to Frank.

"My father will not like this," he said. "He is naturally a cautious man.
If he thinks I have given the alarm - am responsible for your being
here - it will go hard with me."

"Then he must not know it," said Frank decidedly. "Do you think he will be
home now?"

"Yes, sir; most likely."

Frank considered.

"Then I'll call a halt here," he said. "You can return home and we will
come later. In that way he will not know that you gave the alarm. But by
the way, when he sees us is he not likely to try and warn the enemy?"

"He might, sir. He is terribly afraid of submarines and men who control
them. He appears to think they are something supernatural. He believes the
crews of the submarines can whip anyone, sir. That is why he is likely to
tarry and give an alarm."

"In that case," said Frank, "we'll have to tie him up until the game is
over."

"He's my father, sir, and I don't want you to hurt him," said young
Cutlip, "but that would be the best way, sir."

"Very well," said Frank. "You run ahead, now; we'll wait here for an
hour."

He called a halt. Young Cutlip ran on ahead. Frank explained the reason
for the halt to Lieutenant Hetherton, who agreed that the lad had acted
wisely.

"No use getting the boy in trouble if we can help, it, sir," he said.

An hour later Frank ordered the march resumed. Young Cutlip had given
necessary directions and the party from the Essex reached the Cutlip home
without trouble. As they drew near, a man came to the door of the little
cabin that nestled in among a group of trees. Beside him, Frank made out
the figure of the boy who had given notice of the visit of some of the
submarine crew.

Frank motioned his men to halt some distance away, called Lieutenant
Hetherton to follow him, and approached the cabin.

"How do you do, sir?" he asked civilly of the big man in the doorway.

"What do you want here?" was the growling response.

"We're from a British destroyer out there," said Frank, waving a hand in
the general direction of the Atlantic, "and we are hunting for submarines
that have sunk a dozen or more ships off the coast."

"You don't expect to find them here on land, do you?" demanded Cutlip.

"Not exactly," said Frank. "But I have reason to believe that the crew of
one of the vessels has come ashore. Have you seen anything of them, sir?"

"I have not," replied Cutlip firmly.

"No one resembling a German, even?" persisted Frank.

"No."

"You are quite sure?"

"Quite sure."

"Think again, my man," said Frank.

"Look here," said Cutlip, "do you mean to insinuate that I'm lying?"

"I don't insinuate anything. I know you are lying. Hold up there!"

For Cutlip had taken a threatening step forward.

"A party of three German sailors from a submarine nearby were seen to come
this way," Frank went on. "You must have seen them. Now, if you are not
trying to shield them, tell me where they are."

"I don't know. I haven't seen them."

"Call a couple of men, Lieutenant," said Frank to Hetherton.

Hetherton raised a hand, and two sailors came forward.

"Once more," said Frank to Cutlip, "will you tell me what you know of
those men?"

"I tell you I don't know anything," answered Cutlip doggedly.

"Tie him up, men," said Frank briefly.

The sailors sprang forward and laid rough hands on Cutlip. The latter
protested vigorously with his mouth, but he offered only feeble
resistance.

"Now," said Frank to Hetherton, "we can't leave him around here for if the
Germans saw him they might take alarm. We'll have to have him sent back to
the ship. I guess those two men are big enough to get him there."

"Plenty big enough, sir," said one of them with a grin.

"Good. Take him back, then, and come back when you have turned him over
to Captain Templeton. Tell the captain to hold him until we return."

The man touched his cap.

"Aye, aye, sir," he said. Then to Cutlip in a rough voice: "March, now."

The three disappeared, Cutlip grumbling to himself and the sailors
grinning.

Frank turned to young Cutlip, who had watched these proceedings with some
disfavor.

"Now, my boy," he said, "we can get ready for business."

"They won't hurt him, will they?" asked the boy, pointing after his
father.

"They will not," said Frank. "Only keep him safe until the trouble is
over."

"All right. Then, I'll help you the best I can, sir."

"That's the way to talk, my boy. Now let me look around a bit."

Lieutenant Hetherton and young Cutlip accompanied Frank on his tour of
inspection. The lad found that the cabin was cuddled securely in a
miniature forest, or rather at one end of it. On both sides and in the
rear were a profusion of dense trees. Only the approach from the front was
in the clear.

"It's all right," Frank said. I'll throw my men around the house from
three sides, and when the Germans have gone in we can surround it
completely. If they come after dark, there is little doubt they will
approach from the front."

"And what shall I do, sir?" asked young Cutlip.

Frank turned the matter over in his mind.

"I am afraid I shall have to ask you to play rather a dangerous part," he
said at last. "You must be inside to receive them. If there were no one
there they might take alarm and run. Now, we'll go inside and see if your
father has complied with the enemy's demand."

The three entered the cabin. Inside, Frank made out several big sacks
scattered about the floor. "Potatoes," he said, and looked further. There
he also found an extraordinary amount of salt meats and a bountiful supply
of vegetables.

"Looks like your good father had been very busy," he said to young Cutlip
with a smile. "That's what the Germans will have the whole world doing for
them if we don't lick 'em."

"You're right there, sir," agreed Lieutenant Hetherton.

"Well," said Frank, "we'll leave these things as they are. It will help
divert suspicion from young Cutlip here when the Germans find his father
is not on hand. But I guess there is nothing more we can do now. Come,
we'll go outside."

Frank now saw to the disposition of his men. These, as he had decided, he
stationed on three sides of the cabin. He himself took command of the men
on the left, Lieutenant Hetherton commanding the right wing and a sailor
named Hennessy the left. A short time later the sailors who had conducted
Cutlip the elder to the Essex returned and took their places.

"Did he go along peaceably?" asked Frank of one of the newcomers.

"Well, he kicked once or twice," replied the man, "but he went along all
the same, sir."

Frank grinned.

"Just so long as you got him there," he said.

"Oh, he's there, all right," grinned the sailor, "but when I left he was
threatening to have the whole American navy down on us and hoping that
these German submarines shoot us to little pieces."

"I think we'll do most of the shooting, if there is any to be done," said
Frank dryly.

There was silence in the ranks after this, for it was now growing dark and
it was possible that the Germans might appear at any moment. Every man
strained his eyes as he peered through the trees.

Inside the cabin a faint light glowed. Young Cutlip was in there, playing
a braver part than could his father, doing his best for his country as
enemies threatened her existence. Frank smiled to himself.

"A nervy kid," he muttered; "yet, I wish I didn't have to use him. I shall
take especial care that no harm comes to him."

He grew silent.

In the distance came the sound of tramping feet - many of them. Gradually
they drew nearer and directly Frank could hear voices. Heavy, guttural
voices they were and the tongue they spoke was German.

Up to that moment Frank had not been at all sure in his own mind that the
Germans would return to the cabin, as they had told the Cutlips.
Nevertheless, here they were, and the lad's heart leaped high.

"They must be pretty close to starvation to take such chances," the lad
muttered to himself. "Wonder why they don't try a raid on one of the
nearby towns? Guess they don't want to stir up any more trouble than
possible, though. Well, we'll get 'em."

Frank peered from his hiding place. The Germans were in sight now, and
approaching the house four abreast.

"Four, eight, twelve, sixteen, twenty-four," Frank counted.

"That's not so many. We can grab them easy enough."

But a moment later additional footsteps were heard. Again Frank counted
moving figures to himself.

"Twenty more," he muttered. "Where on earth did they all come from? By
George! They certainly are taking a long chance marching around like this.
Well, the more we can get the better."

At the door of the cabin the Germans halted. Three of their number stepped
forward and went inside. This was not at all in line with Frank's plans,
and he realized now that the situation of young Cutlip, inside, was
dangerous in the extreme. Something must be done to protect him.

As the Germans went inside the house, the others, meanwhile, standing
guard, Frank gave the signal agreed upon, a soft whistle, like the call of
a bird of the night. The British began to move from their hiding places
and to draw closer to the Germans, standing there in the open.

"Well," Frank muttered to himself at last, "I guess the sooner we get busy
the better."

He sprang to his feet and leaped forward.




CHAPTER XX

THE BATTLE


Meanwhile, inside the cabin young Cutlip was facing the Germans cooly
enough. He rose to his feet as the door opened and the first German stuck
his head inside. The latter surveyed the interior rapidly, and seeing a
single figure there, advanced quickly, gun in hand.

"Oho! It's the boy," he said in clumsy English. "And where is your
father?"

"I don't know," answered the boy. "He went away."

"But did he get the food?"

Cutlip motioned to the sacks of provisions on the floor.

"Good!" said the German, rubbing his hands.

He returned his revolver to his belt and motioned his two companions to
enter. They closed the door behind them.

"You have told no one of our presence here?" asked the first German, as he
stooped over to examine the sacks.

"No."

"How about your father?"

"He has told no one, either."

"It is well. For if you had, we would kill you now."

Young Cutlip said nothing, but he knew by the hard look in the man's eyes
that he told the truth. In spite of the fact that the boy knew he was in
grave peril, he was perfectly cool.

He sat down again as the Germans passed from sack to sack, examining the
contents. At last the first man stood up and faced the boy.

"Your father, by chance, didn't say anything about pay for this food, did
he?" he asked.

"No," returned Cutlip.

The German grinned.

"Guess he knew it wouldn't do much good," he said. "Well, men, let's roll
this stuff outside."

Again the men bent over the sacks.

At that moment there came a shot from without, followed by a volley. On
the instant young Cutlip leaped to his feet, rushed to the door, threw it
open and dashed outside.

There he was right in the midst of the Germans. But the latter were too
busy and too surprised to pay any attention to him at that moment. They
had wheeled at the first volley from the woods, and had turned their own
weapons against the trees on three sides of the cabin.

Two or three of their number had gone down at the first fire, and they
were almost demoralized, so sudden and unexpected was the attack.
Consequently, young Cutlip had time almost to get clear of the enemy. In
fact, by quick dodging, he did get beyond them.

Out the door now rushed the three Germans in the cabin, apparently in
command of the men without. One issued harsh orders, and the Germans
dropped to the ground, thus making much smaller targets.

Frank, as he sprang forward from among the trees, saw young Cutlip throw
open the door and dash out. Frank ran toward him despite the fact that he
was charging the enemy almost single-handed. But he knew that the boy was
in danger through no fault of the lad's own, and that he must be
protected.

"Here, Cutlip!" he called.

The boy ran toward him.

Frank, a revolver in each hand, stopped and awaited the lad's approach.

Two Germans raised their rifles to shoot Cutlip down. Frank's eye caught
the glint of the steel in the darkness. His revolvers spoke sharply twice,
and Cutlip came on unharmed.

A bullet sang past Frank's right ear, another grazed his left. More
bullets began to sing by him. Cutlip stumbled forward, and sheathing one
revolver, Frank caught him by the hand.

"Run!" he cried.

Cutlip needed no further urging. Together he and Frank sped for the
shelter of the woods, which they reached safely and threw themselves on
the ground as a rain of bullets passed overhead.

"Close shave, son," said Frank.

Young Cutlip was trembling, but he was not afraid.

"Give me a gun," he cried. "I can pick off a few of 'em."

But Frank shook his head.

"You've done your part," he said. "Now you get away from here until we
clean these fellows up."

Frank circled among the trees until he came into the midst of his own men
again. These were still peppering away at the enemy from among the trees
and the Germans, lying on the ground, were returning the fire.

"We're wasting too much time here," Frank told himself.

He looked across to where Lieutenant Hetherton and his men were also
blazing away at the foe.

"Forward men!" cried Frank suddenly. "Charge!"

The British tars under Frank's command went forward with a wild yell.
Seeing their companions dashing across the open, the forces commanded by
Lieutenant Hetherton and the sailor Hennessy also broke from the trees and
charged.

The Germans poured several sharp volleys into the attackers, then threw
down their arms.

"Kamerad! Kamerad!" came the cry.

"Cease firing!" Frank shouted.

Silence reigned after the noise of the battle.

"Take charge of those men, Mr. Hetherton," said Frank quietly, "but be
careful how you approach. I don't trust 'em. I'll keep 'em covered."

Lieutenant Hetherton ordered his men to make prisoners of the Germans.

There came a sudden interruption.

The three Germans who had been in the cabin, as though by a prearranged
plan, suddenly dashed back into the little building and flung to the door
before they could be stopped.

"Never mind," said Frank, "remove the others, Mr. Hetherton. We'll attend
to the men inside later."

From the window of the cabin there came a sharp crack. A bullet zipped by
Frank's ear, but the lad did not flinch. He moved his position and saw the
German prisoners marched to the rear.

"Now," he said, "we'll have to get those fellows inside. First, however,
we'll give them a chance."

He raised his voice in a shout.

"What do you want?" came the response from the cabin.

"You are outnumbered ten to one," said Frank. "Come out and surrender. We
don't want to kill you."

"Come and take us," was the sneering response.

"Don't be fools," called Frank. "We're sure to get you."

"Well, I'll get you first," came a sharp cry.

Frank stepped back and none too quickly, for a bullet passed through the
space where his head had been a moment before.

"If you must have it, all right," the lad muttered. He turned to his men.
"I want ten volunteers to go with me," he said quietly.

Every man stepped forward.

Frank smiled.

"Sorry I can't use you all, men," he said. "But ten will be enough.
Gregory, step forward."

A sailor a short distance away did so.

"Now, Gregory," said Frank, "you pick nine more men and bring them here."

This was the work of only a moment, and the men surrounded Frank. For a
moment the lad surveyed the cabin. They were now out of the line of fire
from the window on that side and consequently safe. It would be possible,
Frank knew, to tire the Germans out, but he had no mind for such slow
methods. He addressed his men.

"Two of you," he said, "break in the door with your rifle butts. We'll
cover you from either side."

Two men stepped forward and the others stationed themselves on either side
of the stout door. Frank called to Lieutenant Hetherton.

"Guard all the windows," he shouted. "Don't let them get away."

The door began to tremble under the blows of the two sailors. Directly
there was a crash as it fell inward.

Now, although this had been no part of Frank's plans, the minute the door
crashed in, the two sailors reversed their rifles and sprang over the
threshold.

"Crack! Crack! Crack! Crack! Crack!"

The rifles of the three Germans within and the two British sailors spoke
almost as one. One of the tars crumpled up in the doorway, while one of
the Germans also threw up his hands and slid to the floor.

With wild shouts of anger, the other sailors surged forward and poured
through the door in spite of German bullets, which now flew so fast that
accurate aim was impossible.

Frank dashed forward with the others. Down went the second German, leaving
but one alive. Frank found himself face to face with the latter.

"Stand back, men," he called.

The sailors obeyed.

In one hand the German gripped a revolver, but Frank held this arm with
his left hand and straightened it high above the German's head. Thus the
German was unable to bring his revolver to bear on the lad.

Nevertheless, his left arm was still free, and he struck Frank a heavy
blow in the stomach with his fist. The pain was severe and Frank loosened
his hold on the man's revolver arm. With a cry of triumph, the German
deliberately lowered his revolver.

Frank, having dropped one of his revolvers, was in a bad way. True, a
second was in his belt, but it did not appear that he had time to draw and
fire before the German's finger pressed the trigger.

But now came an action on the lad's part that proved his right to be
called an expert with the revolver - an action that often had bewildered
Jack and aroused his envy.

So quickly that the eye could not follow the movement, Frank dropped his
hand to his belt, whipped out his revolver, and without taking aim, fired.

A fraction of a second later there was a second report, as the German,
with Frank's bullet already in his shoulder, pressed the trigger, almost
involuntarily. But ere he fired, Frank had dropped to the floor and the
bullet passed harmlessly overhead.

Frank rose quietly.

"Bind him men," he said simply. "He's not badly hurt. He'll probably live
to face the gallows. Where is young Cutlip? Has anyone seen the boy?"

"Here he is, sir," answered the boy himself, and came forward. "And will
you release my father now, sir?"

"As soon as we return to the ship," replied Frank. "Come, men."




CHAPTER XXI

THE END OF THE SUBMARINE


Frank now took account of his casualties. Five men had been killed and
twenty more or less seriously wounded. As many more nursed slight
injuries.

The enemy's casualties, proportionately, had been more severe. Half of the
original number were stretched on the ground. Hardly a man of the others
but had been wounded.

Frank had his dead made ready for transportation back to the Essex, and
litters were improvised for the wounded who were unable to walk. The
grounded Germans also were carried - that is, those of them who were so
severely hurt they could not walk. Those who could walk were surrounded by
the British and marched on ahead.

The return trip was made without incident. The wounded were hurried aboard
the ship where their injuries could be attended to. The unwounded
prisoners were promptly locked up below with the other captives. Then
Frank and Jack, accompanied by young Cutlip, went to Jack's cabin. The
third officer held the bridge.

Frank gave an account of the events of the night as briefly as possible.
When he had concluded, Cutlip again asked:

"Will you release my father now, sir?"

"Certainly," said Jack. "You have borne yourself right bravely, and we
have much to thank you for, as has your country. It is too bad that your
father is not of a different stripe."

The boy's face flushed.

"He's a good father in many ways, sir," he said, "but he seems to be
scared to death of the Germans, especially of their submarine boats."

"We'll have him up here before we let him go," said Jack. "Mr. Hetherton,
pass the word to have; Cutlip brought to my cabin."

Lieutenant Hetherton left the cabin. He returned a few moments later
accompanied by two sailors, who walked on either side of the older Cutlip.
The man was still bound.

"Remove his bonds," Jack instructed.

Cutlip's hands were released, and he rubbed them together as he eyed the
group in the cabin. His eyes rested on his son.

"So!" he exclaimed, "I had an idea you were at the bottom of this."


1 2 3 4 5 6 8 10 11 12

Online LibraryRobert L. DrakeThe Boy Allies with the Victorious Fleets The Fall of the German Navy → online text (page 8 of 12)