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- The Boy Allies Under Two Flags - 2/39 -
last realized that the Germans had escaped. "Mr. Hetherington, bring the ship back to its former course."
The lieutenant did as ordered.
"Now, boys," said Lord Hastings, "you might as well turn in for the night."
A few minutes later the lads were fast asleep in their own cabin, and while they gain a much needed rest and the Sylph continues to speed on her course, it will be a good time to introduce the two young lads to such readers as have not met them before.
Frank Chadwick was an American lad, some 15 years old. In Europe when the great European war broke out, he succeeded, with his father, in getting over the border into Italy, finally reaching Naples.
Here the lad lost his father, and while searching for him, had gone to the aid of a man apparently near death at the hands of a sailor. After thanking the lad for his timely aid, the man had immediately shanghaied the lad, who, when he recovered consciousness, found himself aboard a little schooner, sailing for he knew not where.
There was a mutiny on the ship and the captain was killed. The mutineers, putting in at a little African village for supplies, attempted to fleece Jack Templeton, an English youth out of his just dues. Jack, a strapping youngster, strong as an ox, though no older than Frank, succeeded in getting aboard the mutineers vessel, and by displaying wonderful strategy and fighting prowess, overcame the mutineers.
The boys became great friends.
After capturing the schooner from the mutineers, a prisoner was found on board, who proved to be a British secret service agent. The boys released him, and then, with Lord Hastings, who had come to Africa in his yacht, succeeded in striking such a blow at the Triple Alliance that Italy refused to throw her support to German arms in spite of the strongest pressure the Kaiser could bring to bear.
So valuable was the service the boys rendered in this matter, that when they expressed their intentions of joining the British navy, Lord Hastings, who had taken an immense liking to them, secured them commissions as midshipmen. Later they were assigned to duty on his yacht, the Sylph, which, in the meantime, had been converted into a scout cruiser.
The lads had already played an important part in the war. Through them, a plot to destroy the whole British fleet had been frustrated and the English had been enabled to deliver a smashing blow to the German fleet at Heligoland.
In Lord Hastings the boys had found an excellent friend. Although apparently but a commander of a small scout cruiser -- unknown to but a very few -- he was one of the most trusted of British secret agents. He was a distant relative of the English monarch and, as the boys had already learned, had more power in naval affairs than his officers and associates surmised. This fact had been proved more than once, when he had given commands to men apparently much higher in rank.
Following the brilliant victory of the British fleet off Heligoland, in which a number of the Kaiser's most powerful sea fighters had been, sent to the bottom, the Sylph had returned to London for repairs. Here Frank and Jack had been personally presented to King George, who had thanked them for their bravery and loyalty and raised them to the rank of Fourth Lieutenant.
Lord Hastings had been ill, but his illness had been of short duration; and so it was not long before the two lads once more found themselves pacing the deck of the Sylph, going they knew not where; nor did they care much, so long as it took them where there was fighting to be done.
It was on the very day that the Sylph lifted anchor for her second cruise, that London heard of the prowess of the German cruiser Emden, a swift raider which later caused so much damage to British shipping as to gain the name "Terror of the Sea." The news received on the day in question told of the sinking of an English liner by this powerful enemy.
When Frank and Jack sought to learn the destination of the Sylph from Lord Hastings, he had put them off with a laugh.
"You'll know soon enough," he said with a wave of his hand.
"Are we likely to see action soon?" asked Jack.
"If we are fortunate," was the reply.
"Well, that's all we wanted to know," said Frank. "Don't worry," replied His Lordship. "You will see all the action you want before this cruise is over, or I am very badly mistaken."
And with this the boys were forced to be content.
For two days they sailed about in the sunny Mediterranean, sighting neither friend nor foe, and then suddenly had encountered the two German cruisers, the Breslau and the Goeben, and the skirmish with these two ships, described at the opening of this story, ensued.
But now, as the enemy had succeeded in making off in the darkness, and as Lord Hastings had ordered that the original course of the Sylph be resumed, the little vessel was again -- as Jack said when they had started on their journey -- "sailing under sealed orders."
The two lads were about bright and early the morning following the encounter with the German cruisers; and as they stood looking out over the sea, Lord Hastings approached them.
"More news of the Emden," he said, as he came up.
"Another British merchant vessel sunk?" asked Jack.
"Worse," replied Lord Hastings. "A cruiser this time!"
"A cruiser!" exclaimed Jack in surprise. "I always thought that any cruiser of ours was more than a match for a German."
"Well, you are wrong," was Lord Hastings' reply. "From what I have heard by wireless, our vessel attacked, but was sent to the bottom by the Emden before she could do much damage to the German."
"What was the name of the British ship?" asked Frank.
"I haven't heard," replied Lord Hastings; "but the action was fought in the Indian Ocean."
"It seems to me," said Jack vehemently, "that it is about time this German terror of the sea was sent to the bottom."
"So it is," declared Lord Hastings; "and mark my words, she will be when one of our big ships comes up with her."
"May it be soon!" ejaculated Frank.
But it was not to be soon. For almost another month the German terror prowled about the seas, causing great havoc to British and French merchantmen.
For three days the Sylph continued on her way without interruption, and then turned about suddenly and headed for home. Under full speed she ran for days, until the boys knew they were once more in the North Sea, where they had so recently participated in their one great battle.
"Will you tell us why we have come back so suddenly, sir?" asked Frank of Lord Hastings.
"Why," said His Lordship, "the Germans seem to be growing extremely active in the North Sea. Only three days ago, a German submarine, after apparently running the blockade, sank the cruiser Hawke off the coast of Scotland.
"What?" cried both boys in one voice.
"Exactly," said Lord Hastings grimly, "and it is for the purpose of attempting to discover some of these under-the-sea fighters, or other German warships, that we have come back. The whole North Sea is being patrolled, and we are bound to come upon some of the Germans eventually."
"Well, I hope we don't have to wait long," said Frank.
"And so do I," agreed Jack. "I hope that every German ship afloat will be swept from the seas."
The Sylph did not go within sight of the English coast, but for two days cruised back and forth, east, west, north and south, without the sight of the enemy.
This inaction soon began to pall upon the two lads, to whom a fight was as the breath of life itself.
"I wish we had continued on our way, wherever we were going, and not have come back here," said Jack to Frank one afternoon.
"This is about the limit," agreed Frank. "I believe we would have done better to have joined the army. At least we would have seen some fighting."
But the boys desire for action was to be soon fulfilled. The very next day some smoke and dots appeared on the horizon. Quickly they grew until they could be identified as enemy ships. The captain of the Sylph set out a wireless message requesting help from any units in the area:
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