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- The Boy Allies Under Two Flags - 1/39 -


Scanned by Sean Pobuda

#2 of a series.

THE BOY ALLIES UNDER TWO FLAGS

By Ensign Robert L. Drake

CHAPTER I

IN THE MEDITERRANEAN

"Boom! Boom!"

Thus spoke the two forward guns on the little scout cruiser H.M.S. Sylph, Lord Hasting, commander.

"A hit!" cried Jack, who, from his position in the pilot house, had watched the progress of the missiles hurled at the foe.

"Good work!" shouted Frank, his excitement so great that he forgot the gunners were unable to hear him.

"Boom! Boom! Boom! Boom!"

The Sylph had come about, and now poured a broadside into the enemy.

Then, from the distance, more than a mile across the water, came the sound of many guns. The German cruisers Breslau and Goeben were returning the fire.

Shells, dropping in. front, behind and on all sides of the Sylph threw up the water in mighty geysers, as if it were a typhoon that surrounded the little vessel. Shells screamed overhead, but none found its mark.

All this time the vessels were drawing closer and closer together. Now, as the little scout cruiser rose on a huge swell, a single shock shook the vessel and a British shell sped true.

A portion of the Breslau's superstructure toppled; a second later and the faint sound of a crash was carried over the water to the Sylph.

"A hit!" cried Jack again.

A loud British cheer rose above the sound of battle, and the gunners, well pleased with their marksmanship, turned again to their work with renewed vigor.

"Lieutenant Templeton on the bridge!" came the command, and Jack hastened to report to Lord Hastings.

"What do you make of that last shot, Mr. Templeton?" demanded the commander of the Sylph. "Is the enemy seriously crippled, would you say?"

"No sir," replied Jack. "I think not. You may see that the wreckage has already been cleared away, and the enemy is still plugging away at us."

"Mr. Hetherington!" called the commander. The first lieutenant of the little vessel saluted. "Yes, sir"

"I fear the enemy is too strong for us, sir. You will have to bring the Sylph about."

"Very well, sir."

A moment later the head of the little scout cruiser began to swing gradually to the left.

Jack returned to the wheelhouse.

"What on earth are we coming about for?" demanded Frank, as his friend entered.

"Lord Hastings believes the enemy is too strong for us," was the other's reply.

"But that's no reason to run, is it?"

"I don't think so, but it appears that Lord Hastings does. I guess he knows more about it than we do."

"I guess that's so; but I don't like the idea of running."

"Nor I."

At this instant there was a. hail from the lookout:

"Steamer on the port bow, sir!"

"What's her nationality?" bellowed Lord Hastings.

"British, sir," was the reply.

"Can you make her out?"

The lookout was silent for a moment and then called back. "Yes, sir; Cruiser Gloucester, sir!"

"Good!" shouted Lord Hastings. "Lieutenant Hetherington! Bring her about again."

The Sylph came back to her course as if by magic, and once more rushed toward the enemy. Several miles to port, could now be seen the faint outline of the approaching British battle cruiser, sailing swiftly, under full steam, as though she were afraid she would not arrive in time to take part in the battle.

"Full speed ahead!" came the order from the Sylph's commander, and the little craft leaped forward in the very face of her two larger enemies.

A shell from the Goeben, which was nearer the Sylph than her sister ship, crashed into the very mouth of one of the Sylph's 8 inch guns, blowing it to pieces.

Men were hurled to the deck on all sides, maimed and bleeding. Others dropped over dead. An officer hurriedly reported the fact to Lord Hastings.

"We'll get even with her," said His Lordship grimly. "Give her a shot from the forward turret."

In spite of the tragedy enacted before his eyes only a moment before, the British gunner took deliberate aim.

"Boom!"

There was silence, as all watched the effect of this one shot.

"Right below the water line," said Lord Hastings calmly. "A pretty shot, my man."

By this time the Gloucester had come within striking distance, and her heavy guns began to breathe defiance to the Germans. But the Breslau and the Goeben had no mind to engage this new enemy, and quickly turned tail and fled.

Lord Hastings immediately got into communication with the captain of the Gloucester by wireless.

"Pursue the enemy!" was the order that was flashed through the air.

The two British ships sped forward on the trail of the foe. But the latter made off at top speed, and in spite of the shells hurled at them by their pursuers, soon outdistanced the Gloucester. The Sylph, however, continued the chase and was gradually gaining, although, now that the battle was over for the time being, the strain on the little cruiser relaxed. Wounded men were hurriedly patched up by the ship's surgeon and his assistants, and the dead were prepared for burial.

Jack and Frank approached Lord Hastings on the bridge. The latter was talking to his first officer.

"They must be the Breslau and Goeben," he was saying, "though I am unable to account for the manner in which they escaped the blockade at Libau. They were supposed to be tightly bottled up there and I was informed that their escape was impossible."

"Something has evidently gone wrong," suggested Lieutenant Hetherington.

"They probably escaped by, a ruse of some kind," said Jack, joining in the conversation.

And the lad was right, although he did not know it then.

The two German ships, tightly bottled up, even as Lord Hastings had said, in Libau, had escaped the blockading British squadron by the simple maneuver of reversing their lights, putting their bow lights aft and vice versa, and passing through the blockading fleet in the night without so much as being challenged. This is history.

"Well," said Frank, "we succeeded in putting our mark on them, even if we didn't catch them."

"We did that," agreed Lieutenant Hetherington.

Darkness fell, and still the chase continued; but the Sylph was unable to come up with her quarry, and the two German cruisers succeeded in limping off in the night.

"We shall have to give it up," said Lord Hastings, when he at


The Boy Allies Under Two Flags - 1/39

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