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- The Boy Allies with Uncle Sams Cruisers - 20/34 -

When "Captain Jack" admitted to Frank that he was a full-fledged pirate, the lad's first thought was to draw his revolvers and open fire. That was why he dropped his hands to his guns following his exclamation of "Pirates."

Timothy and Allen, the two sailors, taking their cue from Frank, also reached for their weapons. Captain Jack, though realizing on the instant what these movements signified, simply smiled.

"I wouldn't, if I were you," he said quietly.

Frank thought better of his plan to fight and dropped his hands to his side again. He, too, smiled.

"Guess you're right," he said quietly.

"Wouldn't do much good, would it?"

"Hardly, with all my men about you. You might get me, and you might not, but they would get you sure."

"I guess I could get you all right," said Frank.

"Maybe so, though I'm pretty handy with a gun. Suppose I can draw quicker and shoot straighter than you or anyone you have seen."

"There is room for argument on that point," said Frank dryly.

"An argument would soon convince you that I am right," was the reply. "However, we will not argue the point now. Nor need we ever argue it if you are reasonable."

"What do you mean by reasonable?" Frank wanted to know.

"Well," said Captain Jack, "truth is I am somewhat short-handed. I lost my first officer in my last battle. Lost half a dozen men along with him. Now you're an officer, though not a military officer. Therefore I can make use of you, if you're open to a proposition."

"Thanks," said Frank quietly, "but I'm not open to a proposition to become a murderer."

"Careful," said Captain Jack, taking a quick step forward. "That kind of talk won't go with me."

"Well, I don't know whether you're one now or not," said Frank, "but you stand in a fair way of becoming one. I have no hankering for piracy."

Captain Jack looked at the lad long and earnestly. Then he said: "Guess I'll make a pirate out of you anyhow. Grab him, men."

Two men leaped upon the lad. Frank's two revolvers flashed out like a streak of lightning and there were two sharp reports. Not for nothing had Jack once declared that Frank was the quickest and best shot he ever hoped to see.

The men who had sprung upon the lad tumbled over. Frank turned to confront the others. As he did so there were two more sharp reports and the lad's two revolvers clattered to the ground. Sharp pains shot through both his wrists and his hands seemed to have been numbed.

The lad turned to where Captain Jack, with two smoking revolvers in his hands, was smiling quietly.

"You reckoned without Captain Jack, you see," said the pirate chief. "Don't worry. You're not hurt. I just felt called upon to shoot away your guns before you annihilated my men here. Now, if you have no objections, I'll have you and your men tied tip and taken aboard the Roger, where you shall be kept until you are wiling to listen to reason."

Timothy and Allen had been deprived of their weapons and at command from Captain Jack, the three prisoners were securely bound.

"Take them aboard the Roger," instructed the pirate chief with a wave of his hand.

The three captives were led away.

The submarine now had come against the half concealed dock that had caused the castaways such wonderment when they approached the shore. At command of their captors, they leaped to the deck of the submarine and then passed through the conning tower and descended below.

At sight of the interior Frank could not suppress an exclamation of astonishment. The vessel was fitted with the handsomest of appointments. The little cabin into which the three prisoners were led even showed signs of an artistic taste, undoubtedly that of Captain Jack, Frank thought.

"This young pirate certainly has an eye for the beautiful," Frank told himself.

The prisoners once inside the cabin, the captors withdrew and locked the door behind them.

"Well," said Frank, "here we are, men. What are we going to do about it?"

"Nothing we can do, sir," said Allen. "He will probably offer us a chance to join his crew and if we refuse he'll heave us all overboard."

"I'm a f raid he'll have to heave away then," said, Frank, "for I don't think I would make a very good pirate."

"I'd make a better pirate than I would a corpse, sir," declared Timothy, "and this fellow must have made quite a success. Here he is the undisputed owner of a submarine fitted out like a palace; he's his own boss and his prizes he probably distributes among members of the crew. Why, sir, a year of this life and a man would be rich."

"Look here, Timothy," said Frank, "I don't like that kind of talk. Why, man, you talk like you would like to be a pirate."

"Maybe I would, sir. I've thought about it for years. Look at the excitement a man could have."

"Timothy's right, sir," declared Allen. "I'm not hankering for the life of a pirate, but I'm not hankering for a watery grave, either. I don't, know but what I would join if given the chance."

"Look here, men," said Frank, "I'm free to confess that the life of a pirate seems to have its sunny side. I've read a lot of pirate tales and I can remember when I thought I would like to be one. But I know myself and I know you better than you think. When it came to a showdown, you'd balk."

"Well, I'm not sure about that, sir," said Allen..

"I am," declared Frank decisively. "You mark my words, you'll refuse when the time comes."

"Then we'll walk the plank," said Timothy.

"Better to walk the plank with clean hands than to be hanged with the death of innocent persons on your conscience," said Frank.

"We'll see when the times comes," said Allen.

The three were talking of Jack, Captain Glenn and Williams some time later when a hand fumbled with the key in the door. They whirled about quickly, forgetful for the moment that they were helpless in their bonds. A moment later the door swung open and Captain Jack entered, smiling.

"Well, well," he said. "So we're all here, eh? Guess I'll unloosen your hands. I feel that I can handle the whole bunch of you if it's necessary."

He cut the cords that bound them and the three stretched their cramped muscles.

"Now we'll have a little talk," said Captain Jack.

He motioned the three to seats and took a stool himself, near the door, to guard the exit. For the first time Frank took a good look at him.

The pirate chief was perhaps half an inch shorter than Jack Templeton. He was more fully developed, though, as became his years, and had the appearance of being of enormous strength. Frank decided that he was a trifle, though not much, stronger than his chum. He had a pleasant face and smiled continually. There was nothing about him that would label him "pirate."

Captain Jack addressed Frank.

"I've come to ask you to be my first lieutenant," he said.

Frank jumped to his feet.

"I'll see you hanged first," he cried.

Captain Jack smiled calmly.

"No, I don't think you will," he said pleasantly. "I've the whip hand now, you know. If you decline, I shall feel called upon to take stern measures."

"Take them, then," said Frank briefly.

Captain Jack hesitated.

"It seems a pity, too," he said. "You're rather handy with a gun. You could be of great use to me. Now, for example, I have word -- picked up by my wireless station inland -- that a certain ship is about to pass through these waters. It will be loaded with riches. I intend to capture it. I would like to have you lend a hand."

"You've a lot of nerve," said Frank. "You talk about capturing an American ship -- or even a British or French, or of a country allied with the United States -- as though it were nothing."

"Who said it was an American ship or a vessel of an allied nation?" demanded Captain Jack.

"What else could it be?" demanded Frank.

The Boy Allies with Uncle Sams Cruisers - 20/34

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