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- The Boy Allies with Uncle Sams Cruisers - 2/34 -


"I directed the men to carry the wounded above and started back for the bridge. Just as my feet were on the bottom of the ladder there was another crash. The body of a man who had just reached the deck came toppling down in a shower of splinters and debris.

"Well, I got back on to my feet and made the deck. A shell had exploded right atop of us and nearly swept us clean. The bridge was almost carried away. Captain Ames lay under a light steel beam and I thought he was dead. I ran over to him. As I approached he shook off the beam and got up. One of his legs gave way and he had to hold on to a stanchion for support.

"'Cut off my trouser leg!' he shouted, very much excited.

"I ripped out my knife and did as he ordered. Then he twisted the cloth around his leg above an ugly gash and tied it.

"'What's gone below?' he demanded. 'One boiler,' I replied.

"'Might have been both,' grunted Ames, and added, 'Well, we're not out of this fight yet."'

Jack paused a moment.

"A brave man!" cried Frank. "Go ahead, Jack."

Jack cleared his throat and proceeded.

CHAPTER II

THE BATTLE

"Well," Jack continued, "Ames espied one of the destroyers that had been leading us floundering around helplessly, with the German destroyer, which had appeared from nowhere, trying to cut her off.

"'Templeton,' said Ames, 'take the hand steering gear and run in there and get that fellow out.'

"I ran over to the hand gear. A fellow couldn't be frightened with a man like Ames telling him what to do. Ames propped himself up against what was left of the bridge and directed the gunners while we made the best speed we could with our single boiler.

"They were still dousing us with water, but the shells were not falling on board now. The two German destroyers were sweeping down on the helpless boat ahead, the missiles from their light guns playing a regular tattoo on her. It was an even chance we wouldn't find a live man aboard her.

"Ames was having a glorious time where he had propped himself against the shattered bridge. He swore every time one of our shells missed and he laughed gleefully every time one went home.

"We were only about a thousand yards from the British destroyer now and it looked like there was a fair chance of getting her out of the mess. I was beginning to have hope when I heard the screaming of a heavy shell from one of the land forts. Exactly amidships of the destroyer it landed. It broke her back and all her ribs, so to speak. Steam and steel and water and men flew high in the air. Everything aboard her was blown to bits.

"There was no use trying to tow her out now. I searched the water with my glass for living men. I figured we might be able to save a few if any survived, although it was against admiralty orders to stop when in danger. I didn't believe in the admiralty's stand at that moment. But I couldn't make out a living soul.

"The Germans immediately turned their attention to us. Their marksmanship was getting better. There was a frightful jar and the steering gear was wrenched out of my hands and I was thrown to the deck. When I picked myself up there was nothing with which to steer. Our rudder and a part of our stern had been shot away --

"'Alternate the screws!' Ames yelled. 'I'm busy with these guns. We'll fight as long as she floats!'

"The speaking tubes existed no longer. I stationed a man at the hatch -- and another below and transmitted my orders to the engine room by them. First we drove ahead with one screw, then with the other, to get a zig-zag course; next we backed first with one propeller and then the other. Each time we backed farther than we went forward, for I wanted to get out of the mess if possible. The crazy course threw the enemy gunners off somewhat.

"Suddenly I heard a yell from Ames. We'd put one of the German destroyers out of business. The other one was steaming toward us, but she was a long ways off,

"The men were cheering. I looked at the second destroyer, thinking we must have finished her, too, but she was still firing. Then I glanced around to see what the men were yelling about.

"Right into that hail of fire steamed a little mine sweeper. She looked for all the world like a tugboat. She had a single gun mounted in her bow, and one or two amidships. She had no armor and a rifle bullet probably would have pierced her sides with ease, but she pounded straight toward us; the water around her was beaten to a foam.

"Far out on the prow stood a man with a coil of rope. Ames sent a man to our stern. The sweeper had come close. The man in the prow swung his rope and let the coil fly. It fell across our stern. There wasn't much left to make it fast to, but we did it somehow and the sweeper started to tow us out of that particular part of the water.

"Our guns continued to bark at the destroyer, which was gaining on us. Some of our shots went home. The little old tugboat was hit once, but her master stuck to his task; and he undoubtedly saved our lives.

"Gradually we were pulled back, till at length we were under the protection of the guns of our fleet. From the flagship, signals were being flashed for our benefit. Ames read the flags through his glasses."

"'Congratulating us?' I asked.

"'Blast him, no!' shouted Ames. 'He wants to know why in blazes we didn't come out when we had a chance. Well, he wouldn't have come out himself had he been here, and I've been on the flagship, so we needn't feel sensitive about it!'

"And that's about all," Jack continued, "except for the fact that the raid by the battle fleet was given up. We cruised about for several days, in spite of our crippled condition. The ship's carpenter put us in condition to stay afloat, but at last we returned. I came here the moment I had landed."

"Well, you had a pretty strenuous time, if you ask me," declared Frank. "Too bad, though, that the raid couldn't have been made. We might have captured Heligoland."

"The Germans might capture Gibraltar," said Jack, with a vein of sarcasm in his voice, "but I don't think they will -- not right away."

"It can be done, though," declared Frank.

"What? The Germans capture Gibraltar?"

"No, I mean the British can take Heligoland. Wait until Uncle Sam gets in the war, he'll show you a few things."

"Maybe so," said Jack, "but what's all this talk I hear about the United States declaring war on Germany?"

"It's only talk, so far," said Frank, "but it seems certain to come. In fact, the war resolution already has passed the house and is being debated in the senate. It wouldn't surprise me if the senate passed it today. Then all that is needed is the signature of President Wilson."

"Well, let's hope there is no hitch," said Jack fervently.

"I don't think there will be. Come, let's go to our room and wait for Lord Hastings."

The two boys went upstairs, and while they are awaiting the arrival of Lord Hastings, a few words will be necessary to introduce them more fully.

Frank Chadwick was an American lad of possibly nineteen.

He had been in Italy when the great European war broke out, and through a misfortune had been shanghaied aboard a sailing vessel. After some adventures he fell in with Jack Templeton, a young Englishman, who had spent most of his life on the north coast of Africa. Together the lads had disposed of the crew of the vessel.

They became fast friends. Fortune threw them in the path of Lord Hastings, British nobleman and secret service agent, and they had gone through all kinds of troubles with him. Lord Hastings had commanded several vessels during the course of the war, and Jack and Frank upon these occasions had been his first officers.

Both lads spoke German and French fluently, and both had a smattering of several other tongues. Jack was huge in stature and of enormous strength for one of his age. Frank, on the other hand, was rather small, but what he lacked in physical strength he more than made up in courage.

Frank's greatest accomplishment, and one that had caused Jack much envy, was shooting. He could hit almost anything with a rifle, and revolvers in his hands were no less deadly.

Frank's chief trouble was his hot-headedness and more than once this had gotten him into such trouble that it took all Jack's resourcefulness to extricate him.

Both lads had seen service in many parts of the world since they had met Lord Hastings. Their commander recently had lost his vessel and the three had been on indefinite leave of absence.

The day before Jack's return Frank had been informed by Lord Hastings that they were about to put to sea again.

"Well," said Frank, when the two were in the room always reserved for their use when they were in London, "Lord Hastings will be glad to see


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