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- The Boy Allies Under Two Flags - 30/39 -


"And so," said Lord Hastings to the two lads, as they stood leaning over the rail, after the Sylph was once more under way, "so goes the 'German Terror of the Sea.'"

The Sylph now turned her head once more to the west, and started on her journey back toward the Mediterranean. She steamed along slowly, Lord Hastings, greatly satisfied with the success of his mission, being in no particular hurry. They put in at Ceylon for coal; then once more resumed their journey.

It was the second day after leaving Ceylon that the lookout made a startling discovery.

"Submarine off the starboard bow, sir!" he called.

Instantly there was excitement on board the Sylph, for there was no telling whether the submarine were friend or foe. At length those on the bridge were able to make out the periscope of the vessel, close to the water. And at this very moment it stood higher and higher in the water. The submarine was coming to the surface.

The Sylph had been quickly stripped for action, for Lord Hastings had determined to give battle should the submarine prove to be an enemy. All available guns were turned upon the spot where the submarine was rising.

But hardly had the under-sea craft come to the surface than a British ensign was run up.

Lord Hastings breathed easier.

"Good!" he exclaimed. "I wouldn't care much to encounter a submarine."

The commander of the submarine, Captain Nicholson, came aboard the Sylph to pay his respects to Lord Hastings.

"I suppose you are aware," he said during the course of the conversation, "that Turkey has declared war on England, France and Russia?"

"What!" cried Lord Hastings. "Turkey has declared war! I hadn't heard of it."

"Well, it's true, nevertheless," replied Captain Nicholson.

Lord Hastings smiled grimly.

"I guess it will be 'The Sick Man of Europe's' last illness," he said pointedly.

Captain Nicholson laughed.

"It will," he said briefly.

"But what are you doing in these waters?" asked Lord Hastings, having already explained his own presence there.

"Well," said Captain Nicholson, "I understand that there are at least three Turkish cruisers anchored in the mouth of the Euphrates, in the Persian gulf. I suppose they are there to protect Bassora, about 70 miles up the river, from possible attacks. I had thought of attempting to sink them."

"What, alone?" said Lord Hastings.

The captain of the submarine shrugged his shoulders.

"Why not?' be wanted to know.

'Well," said Lord Hastings, "it's a desperate venture, but if you are successful, it will be a feather in your cap."

"I'm not looking for glory," replied Captain Nicholson. "But I would give my right arm to destroy those Turkish cruisers, guarded as they are by a fort. And I mean to have a try at it."

"I'd like to go with you," said Lord Hastings, "but the Sylph would be worse than useless in such an encounter."

"True," said Captain Nicholson. "But I have an idea. Have you ever been aboard a submarine in action?"

"I have been aboard many submarines, yes," replied Lord Hastings, "but one in action, no."

"Then why not come with me?"

"I would like to," said Lord Hastings, "but what of the Sylph?"

"Your first officer could take command until you returned."

"No," said Lord Hastings, "it can't be done." He was struck with a sudden idea, and turned to Jack and Frank. "How would you two lads like to make such an excursion?" he asked.

"We would like nothing better, sir," replied Frank.

"Indeed, we would like it immensely," agreed Jack.

Lord Hastings turned again to Captain Nicholson.

"Why not take these two lads as substitutes for me?" he asked.

The commander of the submarine looked somewhat dubious.

"Oh, I'll guarantee they won't be in the way," said Lord Hastings with a laugh, and he proceeded to relate to the astounded commander some of the things the lads had already accomplished.

Captain Nicholson arose, and took each lad by the hand.

"I shall account it an honor to have you with me,"' he said quietly.

"So be it, then," said Lord Hastings. "I shall remain here with the Sylph until you return."

Both lads thanked Lord Hastings heartily for giving them this opportunity of seeing something of under-the-sea fighting aboard a British vessel.

"How soon do you plan to start?" Lord Hastings inquired of Captain Nicholson.

"Immediately," replied the commander of the submarine Y-3.

"And how long do you figure it will be before you can return here?"

"Not more than thirty-six hours."

Lord Hastings turned to the two lads.

"You had better take a few clothes with you," he told then. "Do you prepare now, while I have a few words with Captain Nicholson."

The lads hastened to their own quarters, and rapidly threw a few belongings together, so anxious were they to be off.

"Lord Hastings is a brick!" exclaimed Jack.

"I should say he is!" agreed Frank. "He agrees to wait in this outlandish spot two days just to give us this opportunity. How many other commanders do you suppose there are who would go to all that trouble?"

"Not many," replied Jack dryly.

"I guess not. Are you ready;"'

"Yes."

"Come on then, let's go back to Lord Hastings' cabin."

Captain Nicholson was already on his feet, ready to go, when the lads re-entered the commander's cabin.

"I see it didn't take you long," he observed.

"We are very anxious to go, sir," Jack explained.

"They are always quick and prompt," said Lord Hastings.

"An excellent trait," commended Captain Nicholson.

Lord Hastings accompanied Captain Nicholson and the two lads to the rail.

"All you two lads have to do," he said, "is to, look on. You are not supposed to do any fighting, just keep out of everybody's way and make no trouble. Also, keep out of mischief."

"Very well, sir," replied Jack.

The three clambered over the rail and dropped into the little boat that was rising and falling gently with the swell of the waves on the sea below.

Quickly the launch put off toward the submarine.

Lord Hastings raised his voice and shouted after them.

"I'll wait here until you return. Don't be gone any longer than you can help."

"We'll be back within the time I mentioned," Captain Nicholson called back.

Lord Hastings signified that he was satisfied, and waved his hand to the departing boat.

Jack and Frank waved in return.


The Boy Allies Under Two Flags - 30/39

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