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- The Boy Allies with Uncle Sams Cruisers - 3/34 -


you back again. He has been anxious, especially now that he has been ordered again on active service. He has been wondering where he would get a first officer."

"I guess you could, fill that place without any trouble," said Jack.

"I guess I could fill it all right, if I had to, but I would much rather have you along," declared Frank.

"Well, I'm glad to be back, old fellow," said Jack. "I'll admit that for a few minutes there the other night it looked as though I would never see London again, but everything is all right at last."

There were the sounds of footsteps below. These a few moments later ascended the stairs.

"Probably Lord Hastings," said Frank.

The lad was right and a moment later Lord Hastings stepped into the room. His eyes fell upon Jack and he advanced with outstretched hand.

"Jack!" he exclaimed. "I certainly am glad to see you again."

They shook hands heartily.

CHAPTER III

SAILING

"Frank tells me," said Jack, at the dinner table that evening, "that we are about to sail again; about to go into active service."

Lord Hastings smiled.

"There has been a slight alteration in plans since I spoke to Frank last," he said.

"You mean that we are not to go, Sir?" asked Frank. His face showed his disappointment.

"Not exactly," said Lord Hastings.

"But," Jack interrupted, "Frank said that we would help convoy American troops to England and France."

"Frank lets his imagination run away with him sometimes," said Lord Hastings quietly. "America has not yet declared war on Germany."

"But she will, sir," said Frank positively.

"That is probably true," said Lord Hastings, "although the resolution is being fought in the senate, according to latest cable advices. However, as you say, America will undoubtedly declare war. But even should American troops be sent to Europe it will not be for several months after war is declared."

"I thought they would send the regulars right away, sir," said Frank.

"Hardly. However, it is possible that an American fleet will be dispatched to act in conjunction with the British grand fleet in the war zone."

"Then we must sit home, sir?" asked Frank.

"I didn't say that," said Lord Hastings, smiling.

"You are too quick to jump at conclusions, Frank."

Frank flushed a trifle. "I'm just disappointed, sir," he replied.

"You need not be," said Lord Hastings. "There is work ahead. In fact, I may say that you will leave England some time tomorrow."

"Is that so, sir?" exclaimed Frank, happy again instantly. "Where do we go, sir?"

"I am not going at all," said Lord Hastings; "at least, not for some time yet. You and Jack will make this trip alone."

"That's too bad," declared Jack quietly. "We always like to have you with us, sir."

"I know you do," laughed Lord Hastings, "However, I will turn up later, so don't worry."

"In that event, it's all right," grinned Jack.

Will you, tell us where we are going, sir, and what we are to do?" asked Frank.

"I will if you will restrain your impatience," said Lord Hastings.

Frank felt this rebuke and became silent. A moment later Lord Hastings continued:

"I suppose you have heard that there is another German raider operating in the Atlantic off the coast of South America?"

"No, sir," said Frank, "I had not heard of it."

"Nor I," said Jack.

"Nevertheless, it's true," said Lord Hastings. Where it came from no one seems to know, but many merchant ships have been sunk by this raider. It is understood that she has citizens of allied countries aboard to the number of several hundred."

"Must be a big ship, sir," said Frank.

"So it is. It is probably a converted liner."

"Well, why haven't some of our cruisers picked it up, sir?" Jack wanted to know.

"They've tried hard enough," said Lord Hastings. "Trouble is this raider seems to have the heels of all ships of war. She simply runs away from them. However, the activities of the raider have become so serious that the government has decided she must be captured at all hazards."

"Which is where we come in," guessed Frank.

Lord Hastings gazed at the lad sternly.

"Frank," he said, "it's a wonder to me that your tongue hasn't got you into trouble long ago. Now, if you'll listen, I'll proceed."

Frank sat back abashed.

"Excuse me, sir," he said. "It won't happen again."

"All right, then," said Lord Hastings. "As I say, it seems impossible to come up with this raider by speed, so she must be captured or sunk by strategy. Now, I'll explain the plans to you, that you may know what to do and what will be expected of you."

Lord Hastings talked slowly for several hours, and the lads listened with unflagging interest. When His Lordship had finished it was almost midnight.

"Now, are you sure you understand?" he asked, getting to his feet.

"Perfectly, sir," was the reply.

"Very well, then, you had better turn in. You will sail aboard the Algonquin at five tomorrow evening. I will see that your reservations are made and that you are supplied with sufficient funds."

The lads went to bed.

When Jack and Frank went aboard the Algonquin the following evening half an hour before the sailing hour, they were dressed as civilians. Each wore a heavy traveling suit and overcoat and a steamer cap. Lord Hastings accompanied them aboard and introduced them to the captain, Stoneman by name, with whom His Lordship was well acquainted. Then Lord Hastings went ashore.

The Algonquin was an American vessel and sailed under American registry.

"I don't believe any raider will bother us," said Jack.

"Never can tell," declared Frank. "What's our destination, anyhow? I forgot to ask."

"Buenos Ayres," replied Jack.

"Wonder if there are many passengers aboard?"

"Doesn't look like it. We'll have a look at the passenger list."

They did so and found that the only passengers on the trip were two women, registered as Mrs. Silas Wheaton and Miss Elizabeth Wheaton.

"Looks like we would be pretty much to our ourselves," grinned Jack.

"So much the better," said Frank.

The Algonquin was not, in the true sense of the word, a passenger steamer. She had accommodations for some, but she was primarily a freighter, detoured this trip to carry a cargo of oil to the Argentine capital.

The vessel lifted anchor and steamed down the Thames promptly at 5 o'clock. At 6 the lads found themselves at dinner at the captain's table. There, too, they found Mrs. Wheaton and her daughter, Elizabeth. Introductions followed.

"I do hope we do not meet a submarine on the way," declared Miss Wheaton, who could not have been more than eighteen.

"I guess we are safe enough on that score," smiled Jack.

"Then they tell me there is a German raider operating off the coast of South America," said the girl. "We may be captured."


The Boy Allies with Uncle Sams Cruisers - 3/34

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