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Chapter 2

  • Toward morning, I must have dozed, though it seemed to me at the time that _ad lain awake for days, instead of hours. When I finally opened my eyes, i_as daylight, and the girl's hair was in my face, and she was breathin_ormally. I thanked God for that. She had turned her head during the night s_hat as I opened my eyes I saw her face not an inch from mine, my lips almos_ouching hers.
  • It was Nobs who finally awoke her. He got up, stretched, turned around a fe_imes and lay down again, and the girl opened her eyes and looked into mine.
  • Hers went very wide at first, and then slowly comprehension came to her, an_he smiled.
  • "You have been very good to me," she said, as I helped her to rise, though i_he truth were known I was more in need of assistance than she; th_irculation all along my left side seeming to be paralyzed entirely. "You hav_een very good to me." And that was the only mention she ever made of it; ye_ know that she was thankful and that only reserve prevented her fro_eferring to what, to say the least, was an embarrassing situation, howeve_navoidable.
  • Shortly after daylight we saw smoke apparently coming straight toward us, an_fter a time we made out the squat lines of a tug—one of those fearles_xponents of England's supremacy of the sea that tows sailing ships int_rench and English ports. I stood up on a thwart and waved my soggy coat abov_y head. Nobs stood upon another and barked. The girl sat at my feet strainin_er eyes toward the deck of the oncoming boat. "They see us," she said a_ast. "There is a man answering your signal." She was right. A lump came int_y throat—for her sake rather than for mine. She was saved, and none too soon.
  • She could not have lived through another night upon the Channel; she might no_ave lived through the coming day.
  • The tug came close beside us, and a man on deck threw us a rope. Willing hand_ragged us to the deck, Nobs scrambling nimbly aboard without assistance. Th_ough men were gentle as mothers with the girl. Plying us both with question_hey hustled her to the captain's cabin and me to the boiler-room. They tol_he girl to take off her wet clothes and throw them outside the door that the_ight be dried, and then to slip into the captain's bunk and get warm. The_idn't have to tell me to strip after I once got into the warmth of th_oiler-room. In a jiffy, my clothes hung about where they might dry mos_uickly, and I myself was absorbing, through every pore, the welcome heat o_he stifling compartment. They brought us hot soup and coffee, and then thos_ho were not on duty sat around and helped me damn the Kaiser and his brood.
  • As soon as our clothes were dry, they bade us don them, as the chances wer_lways more than fair in those waters that we should run into trouble with th_nemy, as I was only too well aware. What with the warmth and the feeling o_afety for the girl, and the knowledge that a little rest and food woul_uickly overcome the effects of her experiences of the past dismal hours, _as feeling more content than I had experienced since those three whistle- blasts had shattered the peace of my world the previous afternoon.
  • But peace upon the Channel has been but a transitory thing since August, 1914.
  • It proved itself such that morning, for I had scarce gotten into my dr_lothes and taken the girl's apparel to the captain's cabin when an order wa_houted down into the engine-room for full speed ahead, and an instant later _eard the dull boom of a gun. In a moment I was up on deck to see an enem_ubmarine about two hundred yards off our port bow. She had signaled us t_top, and our skipper had ignored the order; but now she had her gun traine_n us, and the second shot grazed the cabin, warning the belligerent tug- captain that it was time to obey. Once again an order went down to the engine- room, and the tug reduced speed. The U-boat ceased firing and ordered the tu_o come about and approach. Our momentum had carried us a little beyond th_nemy craft, but we were turning now on the arc of a circle that would brin_s alongside her. As I stood watching the maneuver and wondering what was t_ecome of us, I felt something touch my elbow and turned to see the gir_tanding at my side. She looked up into my face with a rueful expression.
  • "They seem bent on our destruction," she said, "and it looks like the sam_oat that sunk us yesterday."
  • "It is," I replied. "I know her well. I helped design her and took her out o_er first run."
  • The girl drew back from me with a little exclamation of surprise an_isappointment. "I thought you were an American," she said. "I had no idea yo_ere a—a—"
  • "Nor am I," I replied. "Americans have been building submarines for al_ations for many years. I wish, though, that we had gone bankrupt, my fathe_nd I, before ever we turned out that Frankenstein of a thing."
  • We were approaching the U-boat at half speed now, and I could almos_istinguish the features of the men upon her deck. A sailor stepped to my sid_nd slipped something hard and cold into my hand. I did not have to look at i_o know that it was a heavy pistol. "Tyke 'er an' use 'er," was all he said.
  • Our bow was pointed straight toward the U-boat now as I heard word passed t_he engine for full speed ahead. I instantly grasped the brazen effrontery o_he plucky English skipper—he was going to ram five hundreds tons of U-boat i_he face of her trained gun. I could scarce repress a cheer. At first th_oches didn't seem to grasp his intention. Evidently they thought they wer_itnessing an exhibition of poor seamanship, and they yelled their warnings t_he tug to reduce speed and throw the helm hard to port.
  • We were within fifty feet of them when they awakened to the intentional menac_f our maneuver. Their gun crew was off its guard; but they sprang to thei_iece now and sent a futile shell above our heads. Nobs leaped about an_arked furiously. "Let 'em have it!" commanded the tug-captain, and instantl_evolvers and rifles poured bullets upon the deck of the submersible. Two o_he gun-crew went down; the other trained their piece at the water-line of th_ncoming tug. The balance of those on deck replied to our small-arms fire, directing their efforts toward the man at our wheel.
  • I hastily pushed the girl down the companionway leading to the engine-room, and then I raised my pistol and fired my first shot at a boche. What happene_n the next few seconds happened so quickly that details are rather blurred i_y memory. I saw the helmsman lunge forward upon the wheel, pulling the hel_round so that the tug sheered off quickly from her course, and I recal_ealizing that all our efforts were to be in vain, because of all the me_board, Fate had decreed that this one should fall first to an enemy bullet. _aw the depleted gun-crew on the submarine fire their piece and I felt th_hock of impact and heard the loud explosion as the shell struck and explode_n our bows.
  • I saw and realized these things even as I was leaping into the pilot-house an_rasping the wheel, standing astride the dead body of the helmsman. With al_y strength I threw the helm to starboard; but it was too late to effect th_urpose of our skipper. The best I did was to scrape alongside the sub. _eard someone shriek an order into the engine-room; the boat shuddered an_rembled to the sudden reversing of the engines, and our speed quickl_essened. Then I saw what that madman of a skipper planned since his firs_cheme had gone wrong.
  • With a loud-yelled command, he leaped to the slippery deck of the submersible, and at his heels came his hardy crew. I sprang from the pilot-house an_ollowed, not to be left out in the cold when it came to strafing the boches.
  • From the engine room companionway came the engineer and stockers, and togethe_e leaped after the balance of the crew and into the hand-to-hand fight tha_as covering the wet deck with red blood. Beside me came Nobs, silent now, an_rim. Germans were emerging from the open hatch to take part in the battle o_eck. At first the pistols cracked amidst the cursing of the men and the lou_ommands of the commander and his junior; but presently we were to_ndiscriminately mixed to make it safe to use our firearms, and the battl_esolved itself into a hand-to-hand struggle for possession of the deck.
  • The sole aim of each of us was to hurl one of the opposing force into the sea.
  • I shall never forget the hideous expression upon the face of the grea_russian with whom chance confronted me. He lowered his head and rushed at me, bellowing like a bull. With a quick side-step and ducking low beneath hi_utstretched arms, I eluded him; and as he turned to come back at me, I lande_ blow upon his chin which sent him spinning toward the edge of the deck. _aw his wild endeavors to regain his equilibrium; I saw him reel drunkenly fo_n instant upon the brink of eternity and then, with a loud scream, slip int_he sea. At the same instant a pair of giant arms encircled me from behind an_ifted me entirely off my feet. Kick and squirm as I would, I could neithe_urn toward my antagonist nor free myself from his maniacal grasp.
  • Relentlessly he was rushing me toward the side of the vessel and death. Ther_as none to stay him, for each of my companions was more than occupied by fro_ne to three of the enemy. For an instant I was fearful for myself, and then _aw that which filled me with a far greater terror for another.
  • My boche was bearing me toward the side of the submarine against which the tu_as still pounding. That I should be ground to death between the two was los_pon me as I saw the girl standing alone upon the tug's deck, as I saw th_tern high in air and the bow rapidly settling for the final dive, as I sa_eath from which I could not save her clutching at the skirts of the woman _ow knew all too well that I loved.
  • I had perhaps the fraction of a second longer to live when I heard an angr_rowl behind us mingle with a cry of pain and rage from the giant who carrie_e. Instantly he went backward to the deck, and as he did so he threw his arm_utwards to save himself, freeing me. I fell heavily upon him, but was upon m_eet in the instant. As I arose, I cast a single glance at my opponent. Neve_gain would he menace me or another, for Nob's great jaws had closed upon hi_hroat. Then I sprang toward the edge of the deck closest to the girl upon th_inking tug.
  • "Jump!" I cried. "Jump!" And I held out my arms to her. Instantly as thoug_ith implicit confidence in my ability to save her, she leaped over the sid_f the tug onto the sloping, slippery side of the U-boat. I reached far ove_o seize her hand. At the same instant the tug pointed its stern straigh_oward the sky and plunged out of sight. My hand missed the girl's by _raction of an inch, and I saw her slip into the sea; but scarce had sh_ouched the water when I was in after her.
  • The sinking tug drew us far below the surface; but I had seized her the momen_ struck the water, and so we went down together, and together we came up—_ew yards from the U-boat. The first thing I heard was Nobs barking furiously; evidently he had missed me and was searching. A single glance at the vessel'_eck assured me that the battle was over and that we had been victorious, fo_ saw our survivors holding a handful of the enemy at pistol points while on_y one the rest of the crew was coming out of the craft's interior and linin_p on deck with the other prisoners.
  • As I swam toward the submarine with the girl, Nobs' persistent barkin_ttracted the attention of some of the tug's crew, so that as soon as w_eached the side there were hands to help us aboard. I asked the girl if sh_as hurt, but she assured me that she was none the worse for this secon_etting; nor did she seem to suffer any from shock. I was to learn for mysel_hat this slender and seemingly delicate creature possessed the heart an_ourage of a warrior.
  • As we joined our own party, I found the tug's mate checking up our survivors.
  • There were ten of us left, not including the girl. Our brave skipper wa_issing, as were eight others. There had been nineteen of us in the attackin_arty and we had accounted in one way and another during the battle fo_ixteen Germans and had taken nine prisoners, including the commander. Hi_ieutenant had been killed.
  • "Not a bad day's work," said Bradley, the mate, when he had completed hi_oll. "Only losing the skipper," he added, "was the worst. He was a fine man, a fine man."
  • Olson—who in spite of his name was Irish, and in spite of his not being Scotc_ad been the tug's engineer—was standing with Bradley and me. "Yis," h_greed, "it's a day's wor-rk we're after doin', but what are we goin' to b_oin' wid it now we got it?"
  • "We'll run her into the nearest English port," said Bradley, "and then we'l_ll go ashore and get our V. C.'s," he concluded, laughing.
  • "How you goin' to run her?" queried Olson. "You can't trust these Dutchmen."
  • Bradley scratched his head. "I guess you're right," he admitted. "And I don'_now the first thing about a sub."
  • "I do," I assured him. "I know more about this particular sub than the office_ho commanded her."
  • Both men looked at me in astonishment, and then I had to explain all ove_gain as I had explained to the girl. Bradley and Olson were delighted.
  • Immediately I was put in command, and the first thing I did was to go belo_ith Olson and inspect the craft thoroughly for hidden boches and damage_achinery. There were no Germans below, and everything was intact and in ship- shape working order. I then ordered all hands below except one man who was t_ct as lookout. Questioning the Germans, I found that all except the commande_ere willing to resume their posts and aid in bringing the vessel into a_nglish port. I believe that they were relieved at the prospect of bein_etained at a comfortable English prison-camp for the duration of the wa_fter the perils and privations through which they had passed. The officer, however, assured me that he would never be a party to the capture of hi_essel.
  • There was, therefore, nothing to do but put the man in irons. As we wer_reparing to put this decision into force, the girl descended from the deck.
  • It was the first time that she or the German officer had seen each other'_aces since we had boarded the U-boat. I was assisting the girl down th_adder and still retained a hold upon her arm—possibly after such support wa_o longer necessary—when she turned and looked squarely into the face of th_erman. Each voiced a sudden exclamation of surprise and dismay.
  • "Lys!" he cried, and took a step toward her.
  • The girl's eyes went wide, and slowly filled with a great horror, as sh_hrank back. Then her slender figure stiffened to the erectness of a soldier, and with chin in air and without a word she turned her back upon the officer.
  • "Take him away," I directed the two men who guarded him, "and put him i_rons."
  • When he had gone, the girl raised her eyes to mine. "He is the German of who_ spoke," she said. "He is Baron von Schoenvorts."
  • I merely inclined my head. She had loved him! I wondered if in her heart o_earts she did not love him yet. Immediately I became insanely jealous. _ated Baron Friedrich von Schoenvorts with such utter intensity that th_motion thrilled me with a species of exaltation.
  • But I didn't have much chance to enjoy my hatred then, for almost immediatel_he lookout poked his face over the hatchway and bawled down that there wa_moke on the horizon, dead ahead. Immediately I went on deck to investigate, and Bradley came with me.
  • "If she's friendly," he said, "we'll speak her. If she's not, we'll sin_er—eh, captain?"
  • "Yes, lieutenant," I replied, and it was his turn to smile.
  • We hoisted the Union Jack and remained on deck, asking Bradley to go below an_ssign to each member of the crew his duty, placing one Englishman with _istol beside each German.
  • "Half speed ahead," I commanded.
  • More rapidly now we closed the distance between ourselves and the stranger, until I could plainly see the red ensign of the British merchant marine. M_eart swelled with pride at the thought that presently admiring British tar_ould be congratulating us upon our notable capture; and just about then th_erchant steamer must have sighted us, for she veered suddenly toward th_orth, and a moment later dense volumes of smoke issued from her funnels.
  • Then, steering a zigzag course, she fled from us as though we had been th_ubonic plague. I altered the course of the submarine and set off in chase; but the steamer was faster than we, and soon left us hopelessly astern.
  • With a rueful smile, I directed that our original course be resumed, and onc_gain we set off toward merry England. That was three months ago, and w_aven't arrived yet; nor is there any likelihood that we ever shall. Th_teamer we had just sighted must have wirelessed a warning, for it wasn't hal_n hour before we saw more smoke on the horizon, and this time the vessel fle_he white ensign of the Royal Navy and carried guns. She didn't veer to th_orth or anywhere else, but bore down on us rapidly. I was just preparing t_ignal her, when a flame flashed from her bows, and an instant later the wate_n front of us was thrown high by the explosion of a shell.
  • Bradley had come on deck and was standing beside me. "About one more of those, and she'll have our range," he said. "She doesn't seem to take much stock i_ur Union Jack."
  • A second shell passed over us, and then I gave the command to change ou_irection, at the same time directing Bradley to go below and give the orde_o submerge. I passed Nobs down to him, and following, saw to the closing an_astening of the hatch.
  • It seemed to me that the diving-tanks never had filled so slowly. We heard _oud explosion apparently directly above us; the craft trembled to the shoc_hich threw us all to the deck. I expected momentarily to feel the deluge o_nrushing water, but none came. Instead we continued to submerge until th_anometer registered forty feet and then I knew that we were safe. Safe! _lmost smiled. I had relieved Olson, who had remained in the tower at m_irection, having been a member of one of the early British submarine crews, and therefore having some knowledge of the business. Bradley was at my side.
  • He looked at me quizzically.
  • "What the devil are we to do?" he asked. "The merchantman will flee us; th_ar-vessel will destroy us; neither will believe our colors or give us _hance to explain. We will meet even a worse reception if we go nosing aroun_ British port—mines, nets and all of it. We can't do it."
  • "Let's try it again when this fellow has lost the scent," I urged. "There mus_ome a ship that will believe us."
  • And try it again we did, only to be almost rammed by a huge freighter. Late_e were fired upon by a destroyer, and two merchantmen turned and fled at ou_pproach. For two days we cruised up and down the Channel trying to tell som_ne, who would listen, that we were friends; but no one would listen. Afte_ur encounter with the first warship I had given instructions that a wireles_essage be sent out explaining our predicament; but to my chagrin I discovere_hat both sending and receiving instruments had disappeared.
  • "There is only one place you can go," von Schoenvorts sent word to me, "an_hat is Kiel. You can't land anywhere else in these waters. If you wish, _ill take you there, and I can promise that you will be treated well."
  • "There is another place we can go," I sent back my reply, "and we will befor_e'll go to Germany. That place is hell."