Infomotions, Inc.The Submarine Boys for the Flag Deeding Their Lives to Uncle Sam / Durham, Victor G.



Author: Durham, Victor G.
Title: The Submarine Boys for the Flag Deeding Their Lives to Uncle Sam
Publisher: Project Gutenberg
Tag(s): benson; millard; jack; jack benson; submarine; hal; major woodruff; submarine boys; ensign fullerton; lieutenant; lieutenant ridder; professor radberg; navy; submarine boy; captain jack; daisy huston; herr benson; lieutenant benson; miss huston; lieutenan
Contributor(s): Lehtonen, Joel, 1881-1934 [Translator]
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Rights: GNU General Public License
Size: 49,210 words (really short) Grade range: 7-9 (grade school) Readability score: 69 (easy)
Identifier: etext17059
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Title: The Submarine Boys for the Flag
       Deeding Their Lives to Uncle Sam


Author: Victor G. Durham



Release Date: November 15, 2005  [eBook #17059]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ISO-646-US (US-ASCII)


***START OF THE PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK THE SUBMARINE BOYS FOR THE FLAG***


E-text prepared by Jim Ludwig



Note: This is book six of eight of the Submarine Boys Series.




THE SUBMARINE BOYS FOR THE FLAG

Deeding Their Lives to Uncle Sam

by

VICTOR G. DURHAM

1910







CONTENTS

CHAPTERS
    I. "Do You Speak German?"
   II. "French Spoken Here"
  III. The Man Who Marked Charts
   IV. Jack's Queer Lot of Loot
    V. Sighting the Enemy
   VI. Flank Movement and Rear Attack
  VII. A Lesson in Security and Information
 VIII. Eph Feels Like Thirty Tacks
   IX. Jack Plays with a Volcano
    X. "Mr. Grey" Makes New Trouble
   XI. Facing the Secretary of the Navy
  XII. Navy Officers for an Hour or a Day
 XIII. Commander of a U.S. Gunboat!
  XIV. The Bow Gun Booms and Eph Puts Off
   XV. "The Right Boat and the Right Crew!"
  XVI. The Duel Through the Door
 XVII. The Last Hour of Command
XVIII. Eph Bets an Anchor Against a Fish-Hook
  XIX. Jack's Caller at the United Service Club
   XX. The Girl in the Car
  XXI. Daisy Huston Decides for the Flag
 XXII. The Part of Abercrombie R.N.
XXIII. "Foreign Trade" Becomes Brisk
 XXIV. Their Lives Deeded to the Flag




CHAPTER I

"DO YOU SPEAK GERMAN?"


"Hey, there, Mister!" called out Jabez Holt, from one of the two office
windows in the little hotel at Dunhaven.

As there was only one other man in the office, that other man guessed that
he might be the one addressed.

With a slight German accent the stranger, who was well-dressed, and
looked like a prosperous as well as an educated man, turned and demanded:

"You are calling me?"

"I reckon," nodded Jabez.

"Then my name is Herr Professor--"

"Hair professor?" repeated Jabez Holt, a bit of astonishment showing in
his wrinkled old face.  "Hair professor?  Barber, eh?  Why, I thought you
was a traveler.  But hurry up over here--do you hear me?"

"My good man," began the German, stiffly, drawing himself up to his full
six-foot-one, "it is not often I am affronted by being addressed so--"

"There!  He'll be outer sight in another minute, while you are arguin'
about your dignity!" muttered Holt.  "And that's the feller you said you
wanted to see--Jack Benson."

"Benson?" cried the German, forgetting his outraged dignity and springing
forward.  "Benson?"

"That's him--almost up to the corner," nodded Landlord Jabez Holt.

"Run out and bring him back with you," directed Herr Professor Radberg.
"Be quick!"

"Waal, I guess you're spryer'n I be," returned old Jabez, with a shrewd
look at his guest.  "Besides, it's you that wants the boy."

Running back and snatching up his hat, Professor Radberg made for the
street without further argument.

Moving along hastily, the German soon came in sight of young Captain Jack
Benson, of the Pollard Submarine Torpedo Boat Company.

"Ach, there!  Herr Benson!" shouted the Professor.

Hearing the hail, Jack Benson turned, then halted.

"You are Herr Benson, are you not?" demanded Professor Radberg, as soon
as he got close enough.

"Benson is my name," nodded Jack, pleasantly.

"Then come back to the hotel with me."

"You are a foreigner, aren't you?" asked Jack, surveying the stranger
coolly.

"I am German," replied Radberg, in a tone of surprise.

"I thought so," nodded the boy.  "That is, I didn't know from what
country you came.  But, in this country, when we ask a favor of a
stranger, we usually say 'please.'"

"I am Herr Professor--"

"Oh, barbers are just as polite as other folks," Jack assured him, his
laughing eyes resting on the somewhat bewildered-looking face of the
German.

"Then please, Herr Benson, come back to the hotel with me."

"Yes; if it's really necessary.  But why do you want to go to the
hotel?"

"Because, Herr Benson, when we are there, I shall have much of importance
to say to you."

"Important to me, or to you?" asked Jack, thoughtfully.

He had no intention of answering a much older man disrespectfully.  But
there was about Herr Radberg the air of a man who expects his greatness
to be recognized at a glance, and who demands obedience from common
people as a right.  This sort of thing didn't fit well with the
American boy.

"Oh, it is important to you, and very much so," urged the Professor,
somewhat more anxiously.  "Besides," added the German, with a now
really engaging smile, "I have met your demand, Herr Benson, and have
said 'please.'"

"Then I suppose I'll have to meet your demand," nodded Jack,
good-humoredly.  "Lead the way, sir."

"Ach!  You may walk at my side," permitted the German.

It all seemed a bit strange, but Captain Jack Benson had been through
more strange experiences than had most Americans of twice or thrice his
age.  Besides, as he walked beside Herr Professor Radberg Jack imagined
that he had guessed at least an inkling of the other's business.  The
German had announced himself as a professor; probably, therefore, he was
a scientist.  Being a scientist, the Professor had very likely invented,
or nearly invented something intended for use in connection with
submarine torpedo boats, and wanted to interest the concern by which the
young submarine skipper was employed.  Though this guess was a
reasonable one, it soon turned out to be the wrong one.  The Professor's
real reason for seeking this interview was one that was bound to take
the submarine boy almost off his feet.

Readers of the preceding volumes in this series need no introduction to
Captain Jack Benson, nor to his chums, Hal Hastings and Eph Somers.
Such readers recall, as told in "_The Submarine Boys on Duty_," how
Jack and Hal drifted into Dunhaven just at the right moment to fight for
an opportunity to work themselves into the submarine boat building
business.  How the boys helped build the first of the now famous Pollard
submarines, and afterwards learned how to man her, was all told, together
with all their strange adventures in their new life.

In the "_The Submarine Boys' Trial Trip_" was related how Jack Benson
solved the problem of leaving a submarine boat when it lay on the
ocean's bottom, and also the trick of entering that submerged boat
again, after diving from the surface of the water.  The attempt of
shrewd business men to secure control of the new submarine boat company
was also described, together with the manner in which the submarine
boys outwitted them.  Through a successful trial trip, and Captain
Jack's ingenious ways of arousing public interest, the government was
forced to buy the "Pollard," as the first of the submarines was named.

In "_The Submarine Boys and the Middies_" was narrated how the submarine
boys secured the prize detail of going to the Naval Academy at Annapolis
as temporary instructors in submarine boating.  Many startling adventures,
and some humorous ones, were related in that volume.

Then in "_The Submarine Boys and the Spies_" was shown how the young men
successfully foiled the efforts of spies of foreign governments to learn
the secrets of the Pollard craft.

In "The Submarine Boys' Lightning Cruise" the adventures of these clever,
enterprising boys were carried further.  In this book, was told how the
boys were trained in the handling of the actual torpedo of, warfare.  The
Pollard boats, "Benson" and "Hastings" were entered in official
government tests in which the submarine craft of several other makes
competed.  The desperate lengths to which the nearest rival of the
Pollards went in order to win were told with startling accuracy.  The
result of all these tests was that the Pollard company received from
the Navy Department an order for eighteen submarine torpedo boats, the
"Benson" and the "Hastings" being accepted as the first two boats on
that order.

By the time the present narrative opens it was near the first of May.
Over at the shipyard, where facilities had been greatly increased, two
of the submarines had lately been finished, and four more were under way
in long construction sheds.  Work on the government's order was being
rushed as fast as could be done while keeping up the Pollard standards,
of high-class work.

Of late Jack and his young friends, though their pay went on, had little
work to do.  Whenever a new boat was completed it was the task of the
submarine boys to take her out to sea and put her through all manner of
tests in order to determine her fitness.  But there were days and days
when the submarine boys had naught to do but enjoy themselves as their
fancy dictated.

"Shall we sit down here?" asked Jack, as he and the tall German entered
the hotel office.

Jabez Holt stood behind the desk, bent over the register, on which the
Professor's name had been the only new one in a week.  The old landlord
pretended to be busy, but he was covertly watching and listening.

"Sit here?" repeated Professor Radberg.  "Ach, no!  Come along with me."

There was something rather disagreeably commanding in the German's
invitation, but Jack merely smiled quietly as he followed in the
stranger's wake.  Up the stairs they went.  The Professor unlocked a
door, admitting himself and his guest to the outer of a suite of two
rooms.  Once they were inside Radberg locked the door behind them.

"Come to the other room, Herr Benson," directed the Professor.  The door
of this inner room the German also locked, remarking:

"Now, if the man, Holt, chooses to follow and listen, he can hear
nothing."

"All this sounds mighty mysterious," laughed Jack Benson, good-humoredly.

However, the submarine boy went and stood by a chair near the window and
then waited until he saw that the stranger was about to seat himself.

"Now," asked Jack, stretching his legs, "what's the business about?  I
haven't a whole lot of time to-day."

"Listen, and you shall hear, as soon as I am ready," came, stiffly, from
the stranger.  "You are a boy, and I am Herr Professor--"

"Oh, you told me all about being a hair professor before," smiled Jack.
"Now, see here.  Whether you're really a barber, or whether you're just
amusing yourself with me, we want to have one thing understood.  I came
here, sir, as a matter of courtesy to you, and you will have to treat
me with just as much courtesy.  Otherwise, I shall wish you
good-morning."

This was said with a flash of the eye which warned Radberg that, in his
rather overbearing way, he was going too for.

"Oh, my dear young friend," he replied, persuasively, "you don't
understand.  In Germany I am--well, perhaps what you would call a
rather distinguished man.  At least, my neighbors are good enough to
say so.  And, in Germany, when a herr professor talks, others listen
respectfully."

"Just the same way with the hair professors in this country," chuckled
Jack.  "When an American barber gets wound up and started, all a fellow
can do is to listen.  It's no use trying to run away from a barber
anywhere, I guess.  He has you strapped down to the chair."

"Barber?" repeated Professor Radberg, in disgust.  "I don't understand
you."

"Oh, it isn't necessary," laughed Jack.  "It's a sort of Yankee joke.
And I beg your pardon, Professor, if I am wasting your time.  Now, go
ahead, please, and tell me why you invited me here."

There was something of salt water breeziness and crispness about Jack's
speech that caused the German's brow to cloud for an instant.  Then,
after a visible effort to compose himself, Radberg leaned forward
to ask:

"Do you speak German?"

"No, sir." Jack shook his head.

"Ach, that is too bad!" muttered the German, in a voice suggesting
severe disapproval of one who hadn't mastered his own native tongue.
"However, you will soon learn."

"Yes; if there's a big enough prize goes with it," agreed Jack.

"Prize?" repeated Professor Radberg.  "You will say so!"

Then, leaning forward once more, and speaking in his most impressive
voice, Herr Professor Radberg continued:

"Herr Benson, we are going to take you into the German Navy!"

The Professor now leaned back to watch the effect of his words.

"Are you going to do it when I'm awake?" asked Jack, curiously.

"Nein!  I do not understand you."

"Are you going to take me in by force, or wait until you catch me
asleep?" questioned Captain Jack Benson.

"Ach!  Do not be silly, boy!"

"I might say the same to you, Professor," replied Jack Benson,
composedly, "but we'll let it pass.  How are you going to get me into
the German Navy, and what are you going to do with me after you get me
there?"

"How?" cried Professor Radberg.  "Why we are going to pay you a very
handsome sum of money, and we are going to give you a most honorable
position in our imperial service.  And--"

Here Professor Radberg leaned forward once more, lowering his voice
considerably.

"There are three of you boys, all experts at the Pollard works.  Well,
we are going to take all three of you into the German navy, and we will
do something very handsome for you all."

"The other fellows will be delighted when I tell 'em what's coming their
way," smiled Captain Jack.

"Ach!  So?  Of course."

"Now, what do you propose to do with us in your navy?" Jack went on.
"Are you going to make officers of us?"

"Officers?" repeated Herr Professor Radberg, slowly.  "Well, no, Herr
Benson.  We could not exactly do that.  Our officers are, as you will
understand, very--what is your English word?--aristocratic.  They
could not be quite persuaded to take American commoners as their brother
officers.  That you would not expect, of course."

"Certainly not," young Benson agreed.  If there was a slight tinge of
sarcasm in his it was lost on the German, whose brow cleared as he went
on, heavily:

"No, no, my young friend; not officers.  But you shall all three have
very honorable positions, and handsome sums of money to pay you for
entering our service.  We in Germany know the rank which you young men
have won as submarine experts, and we shall not be niggardly, for we
have determined to have you in our service."

"I hope you'll pardon me," proposed young Benson.  "There is just one
point that has been overlooked.  You tell me that you are authorized
to come to Dunhaven and kidnap my friends and myself.  But, really,
how do I know that you have such authority from your own side of the
water?"

Radberg looked a bit puzzled, for a moment.  Then, as he seemed to
begin to comprehend, he replied, heavily:

"Herr Benson, I have already told you that I am Herr Professor--"

"Now, don't hang out the striped pole again, please," urged Jack, his
face as sober as that of a judge.  "Come right down to the points of
the compass.  How am I to know that you really do represent the
German government?"

"Ach!  I comprehend," nodded the German.  "Of course you will understand
that, on an errand of this kind, I do not travel with too many papers.
But I shall take you and your two companions on to Washington to-morrow,
I think--"

"To-morrow ought to do as well as any time," replied Jack, ironically.

"Yes; I think it will be to-morrow," continued the German.  "I shall
take you to our German Embassy, and one of our officials there will
prove to you that I have been acting with authority."

"That'll be right fine of him," agreed Jack, placidly.

"Ach!  It is settled, then," replied the German, all but dismissing the
matter with a wave of his hand.  "Yet you must bring your two comrades
here.  They must understand just what is wanted of them.  And now, Herr
Benson, do you wish to understand what is to be paid to you to transfer
your services to our German flag?"

"Why, yes; that will be mighty important--if we go under the German
flag."

"If you go?" repeated the Professor.  "Why, that is all settled!"

"Then I must have missed something, by not watching you closely enough,"
murmured Jack.  "I shall have to sit up straighter and keep my eyes
wider open.  When was it all settled, sir?"

"Why, did you not tell me--"

"Haven't had a blessed chance to tell you anything," replied Jack,
looking astonished.  "You've been doing all the telling."

"But you'll go with me, of course, to Washington?" uttered Radberg,
looking much taken aback.

"I doubt it," muttered young Benson, shaking his head.  "In fact, sir,
I may as well tell you that it's waste of our time to carry this line
of talk any further."

"Ach! You are cunning," smiled Professor Radberg, no longer nonplussed.
"That is as it should be, too, for you are a clever young man, Herr
Benson."

"A thousand thanks," murmured Captain Jack.

"But, instead of talk," pursued the German, "you wish to see some money.
Quite right!  I should, were I in your place, Herr Benson.  Well,
then--ach!  Look at this."

Thrusting a fat hand down deep in a trousers pocket, Herr Professor
Radberg brought up into view a big roll of money.  He held this up so
that the submarine boy could feast his eyes on it.  Jack looked,
composedly.

"Did you ever see anything like this--you, who are such a young boy?"
smiled the German, teasingly.

"I--I don't know, really," responded Jack, thoughtfully, thrusting a
hand down into his own trousers pocket.  Young Benson brought up into
the light a very comfortable looking handful of banknotes, rolled and
surrounded by a broad elastic band.  "Let's measure the two, Professor,
and see how they compare."

"Ach!" muttered the German, regarding Jack's money with some displeasure.
"Where did you get all that?"

"Oh, now, Professor!" cried the young submarine captain, reproachfully.
"I didn't ask you where you got yours!"

"Ach!  This is all so much foolishness!" cried the German Professor,
returning his money to his pocket.

"That's what I think, too," agreed Jack, following suit.  "It's what our
English cousins call 'bad form,' to go to comparing piles of money."

"Now, sit down, Herr Benson, and I will tell you what a very handsome
sum of money, and what excellent wages, the German government will pay
you to enter our imperial naval service."

"How much money is there in Germany?" interrupted the submarine boy,
thoughtfully.

"How much, in all Germany?" demanded the Professor.  "Nein!  How should
I know?"

"You expect me, of course, to turn my back on this country for good, to
tell you Germans whatever I may know about submarine secrets, to drill
with your navy, and be prepared to fight in your navy if war comes?"

"Ach, yes!  of course," replied Radberg.  "Now, we are beginning to
understand one another."

"Professor," interrupted Captain Jack Benson, "we've had enough of
joking."

"Joking?  I assure you--"

"Professor," once more broke in the submarine boy, "_I wouldn't sell out
my country's flag for all the money you ever saw!_"

For a few moments the Professor's face was a study in consternation.
Then he broke forth, angrily:

"Ach!  You are a fool!"

"I guess so," nodded Jack, without resentment.  "That's just the kind
of fools we Americans are generally."

Herr Radberg was a good enough reader of human faces to realize that,
at all events, there was no use in continuing the conversation at
present.

"Very good," he growled.  "You can go.  I shall see your friends,
instead."

"When you get through with 'em you'll think they're idiots," grinned
Captain Jack Benson.

Herr Radberg wasn't a fool.  Neither was he a rascal, expert in offering
bribes.  Brought up within the wall's of a German university, he would
have been willing to lay down his life instantly for the good of the
Fatherland.  Yet he couldn't understand that men of other nations could
be just as devoted to their own countries.  From Herr Professor
Radberg's point of view Germany was the only country in the world that
was fitted to inspire a real and deep sense of patriotism.

"No harm done, Professor," said Jack, moving toward the door, and
turning the key to unlock it.  "I'm sorry you had all the trouble and
expense of coming to Dunhaven on a useless errand.  Good-bye!"

"Ach!  You may go, but you will come back," scowled the other.  "If
not, your comrades will, I hope, prove to be young men of better sense
and judgment."

"Oh, they'll listen to you," smiled Jack.  "Good-bye!"

"I shall have two of you, anyway," were Radberg's last words before the
door of the outer room closed and Jack's footsteps sounded in the
corridor.




CHAPTER II

"FRENCH SPOKEN HERE"


"Well, what do you think of that?"

It was Eph Somers who put the question, and the time was some fifteen
minutes later.

Captain Jack had met his two comrades up on the main street of the
village.  He had told them, with a good deal of amusement, of his late
talk with the German.

Hal Hastings didn't say a word, but his eyes twinkled.

"I wouldn't have minded," laughed Jack, "but it was the Professor's
cock-sureness that I was to be Germany's oyster."

"Is he an old man?" asked Hal.

"Not very," Jack answered.  "Perhaps not old enough to know better.
Anyway, if I were going to a foreign government, Germany would be about
the last country.  Germany is our rival in building a large navy.  About
every other month the experts in Germany sit down to figure whether they
are anything ahead of us in the tonnage of warships, and, if so, whether
there is any danger of our catching up with them.  Now, unless the
Germans have a notion that they may need, to fight us one of these
days--"

"Oh, I don't believe anything of that sort," broke in Hal, shaking his
head.  "I don't believe any country in the world is aching to pick a
quarrel with us."

"Not while the United States pocket-book is such a fat one, and so well
built for paying war expenses," grinned Eph.  Then his look became more
solemn, as he added:

"But we don't want ever to get into a naval condition where it will be
easy for some other country to snatch that fat pocket-book out of our
hands."

"Let's go along, fellows.  Drowning and confusion to all possible foes
afloat," proposed Hal, the one who could never see "war" on the horizon.
"After a winter on hot sodas, it'll be a relief to know that the
druggist put in icecream soda to-day."

So the three boys turned and made their way to the drugstore.  While
they were exploring with spoons the bottoms of their glasses, the
street door opened.  Herr Professor Radberg looked in, then came in,
beaming condescendingly on the young men.

"Ach!  You young men are just the ones I wish to see," he exclaimed,
resting one hand on Eph's shoulder, the other on Hal's.

"Lots of folks will pay for that privilege," declared Eph, solemnly.

"Yes?  Well, I will pay, too--you shall see.  I shall look for you at
the hotel, in just one hour.  One hour--remember."

"Have you a telescope?" inquired Eph, calmly.

"A telescope.  Eh?" inquired the German.  "What for?"

"You might need it in looking for us," Eph replied.

"Then, in one hour, I shall see you--at the hotel!"

"You'll be lucky, if you do," grinned Eph.

"Eh?  I do not know that I understand," responded Herr Professor Radberg,
slowly.

"If you're figuring on seeing us," Eph went on, gravely, "I'm afraid
you're in for bad news."

"Bad news?  Ach!  What do you mean, young man?"

"Just what I said," replied Eph.

Professor Radberg looked so puzzled that Hal Hastings broke in, quietly:

"Professor, unless I'm much in error, you want to see us about a
proposition that we enter the German naval service."

"Hush!  Not so loud," warned Radberg, looking suspiciously around.

"There's nothing we have to keep quiet about," Hal went on.  "You have
already spoken to our captain, Jack Benson, about this matter."

"Ach!  Yes."

"And Jack has refused."

"Your captain is a fool!" cried the German.

"Then we serve a fool, because he's our captain," retorted Hal, quietly,
though there was a flash in his eyes.

"I shall look for you two at the hotel in one hour," declared the German,
impressively.

"My friend, Mr. Somers, has already told you that you'll be using your
eyesight to poor advantage, then," Hal answered.

"What do you mean?"

"Why, I mean, Professor, that you can't possibly persuade us to go to
Germany and tell your people anything that we know about the Pollard
submarine boats, or any other type."

"But you shall be well paid!"

"Professor, what would be your price for selling out your country to the
United States?" asked Hal, gazing fixedly at the German.

"You insult me!" cried the German, his face growing red.  "I am a
patriot."

"Yet, you insult us by thinking that we would sell our country," went
on Hal, coolly.

"Are you two going to be as big fools as your captain?" demanded Herr
Professor Radberg, almost incredulously.

"Bigger!" promised Eph, with a grin.

"Ach!  Well, we shall talk this all over when you come to the hotel in
an hour," replied the German.  He turned and left the store.

"Now, I don't doubt," mocked Hal, "he has gone away firm in the belief
that we'll keep his appointment."

"He'll wake up after a while," laughed Eph Somers.

After indulging in a second ice cream soda the submarine boys started
down the street toward the Farnum shipyard where the Pollard boats were
built.

As they passed a street corner they heard a cautious:

"Hss--sst!"

"Now, who threw that our way?" demanded the irrepressible Eph, turning
swiftly.  Then he added, in a tone so low that only his comrades could
hear:

"Say, fellows, I'll bet that cost something!"

"That" was, a rather undersized little man, of perhaps thirty.  Dark of
hair, and sparkling of eye, the stranger's rather pallid face was partly
covered, in front, by a short goatee, of the French "imperial" sort,
and a moustache whose points were waxed out in fierce military
fashion.

It was the stranger's apparel that had attracted Eph's notice
particularly.  The stranger was arrayed almost exquisite fashion; his
clothes were of finest texture and latest Parisian type.  His little,
pointed shoes were almost as dainty as a girl's.  Though the day was
warm the stranger was gloved, and handled a cane in the head of which a
handsome amethyst shone.

"I wonder how that got through the custom house?" was Eph Somers's next
undertoned question.

"Ah, good morning, gentlemen," greeted the stranger, coming toward them,
all smiles and bows.  "Av I have not med ze mistake, zen I am address ze
torpedo boys."

"Right-o," drawled Eph.  "Regular human torpedoes, as touchy as
gun-cotton.  Why, I am due to explode this moment!"

Though the stranger looked puzzled at first, his face rapidly broke into
a cordial smile.

"Oh, ah!  I understand.  You mek what is call ze American joke, eh?  You
have little fun wiz me."

The Frenchman, for that he unmistakably was, laughed in the utmost good
humor.  The boys found themselves much inclined to like this stranger.

"Now, young gentlemen," continued the Frenchman, "I am ze Chevalier
Gari d'Ouray."

"Glad to meet you, Chev," volunteered Eph, with suspicious amiability,
holding out his hand, which the Frenchman took daintily.  "I'm a
'shoveleer' myself, and this awkward, gawky looking boy with me is our
engineer."

Eph had a tight grip on the stranger's hand, by this time, and was
surely making it interesting for the Frenchman.  The Chevalier d'Ouray
was doing his best to retain his politeness, but Somers's hearty grip
hurt the foreigner's soft little hand.

"What can we do for you, Chev?" demanded Eph, holding to the Frenchman's
hand so persistently that Hastings gave his friend a sharp nudge in
the back.

"Let us go somewhere," urged the Frenchman.  "Some place were we can sit
down and have ze talk about important matters.  I have ze message for
you zat I cannot deliver upon ze street."

"Now, don't say, please," begged Eph, "that you have heard we are wanted
in the French Navy."

The Chevalier d'Ouray looked intensely astonished.

"Parbleu!  You are one marvel!" gasped the Frenchman.  "You read my most
secret thought.  But yes!  You have made ze one right guess.  However,
I cannot more say upon ze street.  Let us go somewhere."

"All right," nodded Eph.  "You go along, now, and we'll be along in an
hour."

"Wiz pleasure," nodded the chevalier, eagerly.  "But we're shall I go?"

"Anywhere you like," suggested Eph, cordially.

"But, zen, how will you know w'ere I am to be found?"

"Oh, we'll take a chance on that," proposed Eph, carelessly.

"But, unless I am able to say, now, w'ere I shall be--" the Frenchman
started to argue.

"We'll guess the meeting place as well as we did your errand," proposed
Eph.

"Ten thousan' thanks!" cried, the chevalier.  "Yet, for fear we mek ze
one mistek, suppose I say--"

Eph Somers had struck such a streak of "guying" nonsense that Jack
Benson felt called upon to interpose, for he and Hal both liked the
twinkling eyes and good-humored face of this dandified little Frenchman.

"Pardon me, sir," Jack accordingly broke in, "but, if we happened to
guess your errand, it was because we have just gotten away from the
agent of another government."

"How?  Is zat posseeble?" cried the Chevalier d'Ouray, a disappointed
look coming into his face.

"Yes; it's true," nodded Jack.

"But you did not come to any terms wiz him?"

"Oh, no!"

"Ah, zen, ze coast is steel clear," cried the little Frenchman,
delightedly.  "So, as to w'ere we can meet and mek ze one talk--"

"We can get that all over with, right here," Jack replied.  "We can make
you the same answer that we gave the other man.  We are Americans, and
would never think of serving any other flag, even in peace time.
Chevalier, I can save your time by telling you that any arrangement to
engage our services away from the United States would be utterly
hopeless."

"But ze money--" began the Frenchman, protestingly.

"There isn't money enough across the Atlantic to hire us," Jack answered,
bluntly.

"And ze honneur--"

"Honor?  What would that word afterwards mean to Americans, Chevalier,
after they had left their own country to serve another?"

The Chevalier d'Ouray began to look as though he realized he had a harder
task before him than he had expected.

"So you see, sir," Jack went on, "it will not be in the least worth your
while to try to tempt us.  Come what will or may, we are under the
American flag for life.  You yourself, Chevalier, wouldn't leave the
French flag to serve this country, Great Britain or Germany."

"No; but zat is deeferent, for I, monsieur, am French."

"And we are American," Jack responded.

"I will leave you, now, zen, gentlemen," replied the Frenchman, in a
tone of disappointment.  "But I shall not go away before to-morrow.  If
you change ze mind--or weesh to hear w'at I have to mek ze offer--"

"Thank you," nodded Jack.  "But don't waste any more time on us,
Chevalier.  And now--good-bye!"

The Chevalier d'Ouray shook hands with them all most gallantly.  Eph felt
somewhat ashamed of his late nonsense, and, to prove it, hit the
Chevalier d'Ouray a friendly slap on one shoulder that set the Frenchman
to coughing.

"Say," muttered Jack, as the three now hurried along the street, "I begin
to wish I had a good umbrella."

"Humph!  You'd look great with one," retorted Hal.  "You, who have stood
on the platform deck of a submarine for hours, steering unconcernedly,
when the skies were trying to drown you."

"But I feel," remonstrated Jack, "that it's soon going to rain foreign
agents.  I'd like to get in out of the international wet."

"Oh, we won't see any more of these fellows," smiled Hal.

"Now, there's just where I believe you're wrong, messmate," Jack
contended.  "These foreign governments hire detectives to watch each
other.  When we hear from one, we're likely to hear from the whole lot
at once.  Look around you, Eph.  Do you see a Jap anywhere?"

"Not a solitary jiu-jitsu fiend," responded Eph, after halting and
staring both ways in turn along the street.

"Well, Japan is about due," laughed Benson.  "And now, let's get in
through the gate of the shipyard.  If any more of these foreign agents
show up--well, there are two boats in the harbor that are in commission.
We'll find an excuse to put to sea in one of them."

"Just the youngsters I was going out to try to find," hailed Grant
Andrews, foreman of the submarine construction work, as he hurried
across the yard.  "Mr. Farnum told me to get out and find you.  He'd
have sent some one else, but I guess the business is rather on the
quiet."

"Is he in his office?" queried Jack.

"Yes."

"Thank you; we'll go right in, then."

"Now I wonder what country it is whose agent has gotten hold of Mr.
Farnum?" asked Eph, plaintively.

"Nonsense!" mocked Jack.

"That's what we try to tell 'em all," mocked Eph.  "But the Germans are
the hardest."

All three of the submarine boys were laughing so heartily, as they
entered the shipbuilder's private office that Jacob Farnum, a youngish
looking man to be at the head of so large a manufacturing plant, glanced
up quickly.

"What's the joke, boys?" he asked. "I haven't had a laugh since I
pounded my thumbnail with a sledge-hammer."

Captain Jack Benson quickly detailed the meetings with Radberg and
d'Ouray.

"The Frenchman didn't look a bit like a 'shovelee' either," muttered
Eph.  "If anything, that looked more in the German's line."

"Well, you'll have a chance to get rid of nonsense, now, for a while,"
went on Mr. Farnum, after having enjoyed a few laughs with the boys.
"I've some serious business in hand for you, and the time has come."

That was like the shipbuilder.  Whatever he was planning, at any time,
he kept strictly to himself until the time came to put the plan into
operation.

"There's quite an important little job for you up at Craven's Bay,"
continued Mr. Farnum.  "You know, there are important fortifications
there, because the Navy people expect, in wartime, to use Craven's
Bay as a possibly important naval station and shelter for vessels that
have to put in.  Now, for some time the Army engineer officers have been
perfecting a system of submarine mines for the bay.  The engineers have
a problem on hand as to whether an enemy's submarine boats could sneak
into the bay and blow up the submarine mines before the Army woke up
to the danger."

"There's a chance that _that_ could be done," nodded Jack, musingly.

"Jest so," nodded Mr. Farnum.  "So I want you to go up in one of the
boats.  To-morrow the engineer officers at that station will test it out
with you whether a submarine can destroy the mines, or the mines could
be made to destroy the submarine boats."

"Then the Army engineer officers will use dummy submarine mines, I hope,"
broke in Eph.

"Oh, of course," nodded Mr. Farnum.  "Now, the trip to Craven's Bay is
only an eight-hour sail at a good gait, so you won't really need to
start until after dark to-night."

"I believe I'd rather start now, though, and go at less speed," suggested
Jack, thoughtfully.

"That's just as you please, of course," nodded the shipbuilder.

"It will take us out on the water, for one thing," Captain Jack
continued, "and we've been growing stale on shore, of late."  Then he
added, whimsically: "Besides, if the agents of any more foreign
governments show up, they won't find us here."

"And there's a Jap just about due now," grimaced Eph.

"Take Williamson with you, for use in the engine room," advised Mr.
Farnum.  "That will allow you to take the boat through with two watches
above and below.  Which boat will you take?"

"The 'Spitfire,' unless you'd rather have us take the other one," young
Benson replied.

"Take the 'Spitfire,' by all means," nodded the owner.

Twenty minutes later, Williamson having been found, the crew was all
ready for the start for Craven's Bay.

Eph and Williamson cast off from moorings while Hal Hastings, down below
at the gasoline motors, started the twin propellers as soon as Jack
Benson, at the deck wheel, signaled for speed ahead.

Right after the start, Williamson, a grown man and machinist, dropped
below.  Eph Somers stood beside the young submarine captain.

For some minutes both boys gazed out over the waters.  Then Eph remarked:

"Well, we got away without being overhauled by a Jap or a Russian,
didn't we?"

"I don't know," smiled Jack, unsuspectingly.  "See that launch over to
port?  Hanged if she doesn't seem to be putting toward us."

"She does," admitted Eph, solemnly.  "Oh, well, with a few more turns of
the screw we can easily get away from that launch."

For some moments Captain Jack paid no especial heed to the launch
bearing down upon them on the port side.  He noted only, at the distance,
that the launch contained two men.  Presently, however, as the launch
came nearer, Captain Benson made a discovery.

"Eph," he gasped, "look over there!  Are my eyes going back on me, or is
that a Japanese in the bow of the launch?"

"Japanese?" gasped Eph Somers, in turn.  "Nothing but!"

Eph made a swift dive for the box that contained the signal flags used
in the international marine signaling code.  Moving swiftly, young
Somers selected the two flags representing "N" and "D."  These he strung
to the halliard of the short signal mast forward.  Nor was he ahead of
time, for by this time the launch had described part of a circle, and
was coming up alongside.

In the bow of the launch stood the Japanese, smiling, and holding a
megaphone in his hand.

"Submarine, a-ho-o-o-oy!" came the hail.  "Will you slow down?  I have
something to say to you."

Up flew the signal flags, fluttering in the breeze.  Then Eph snatched
up a megaphone, holding the smaller end to his mouth.

"Launch ahoy!" he shouted back.  "Just tell your folks that you saw
our signal!"

The Japanese read the fluttering flags, then called back:

"N.D.?  What does that mean?"

Hoarsely Eph Somers bellowed back:

"_Nothing doing!_"




CHAPTER III

THE MAN WHO MARKED CHARTS


It was a little before midnight when the "Spitfire" came to anchor in
Craven's Bay, after having been piloted to anchorage by a quartermaster's
tug that put off from Fort Craven on signal.

"Fine place, if your searchlight is keen enough," yawned Eph, gazing off
into the darkness.

Eph and Williamson had slept through the evening, after supper, and were
now to take the night watch tricks, the machinist's deck watch
beginning at once and lasting until four in the morning.

About an hour after daylight, Eph Somers deserted the deck, except for
occasional intervals.  After a while the odor of coffee and steak was in
the air.  Then, snatching up a bugle, Somers sounded the reveille
tumultuously through the small cabin of the submarine torpedo boat.

Not long did the other members of the crew take to turn out and dress.
They came out into the cabin to find Eph trotting between table and
galley, putting things on the table.

"This seems like old times," chuckled Williamson, as he seated himself
with the boys.

"Yes; because you don't have to cook," grimaced Eph.  "Wait until after
breakfast, when you have to clear away and wash dishes!"

"Even so, I have the best of it," laughed the machinist, good-humoredly.
"I have something in my stomach to work on."

"I always do get the tough end of any job, don't I?" grumbled Eph,
resignedly, then buried his troubles under a plateful of steak and
fried potatoes.

"You hoisted the signal, 'N.D.', yesterday afternoon," laughed Captain
Jack, laying down his coffee cup.  "If you don't watch out, Eph, I'll
hoist the 'N.G.' flag over this table."

"Breakfast no good?" demanded Eph, looking much offended.

"No; 'N.G.' will stand for 'no grouch.'"

Somers joined heartily in the laugh that followed.

Just as they were finishing a really good meal, for which every
breakfaster had a royal, salt-water appetite, a steamer's whistle was
heard, not far off to port.

"I'll bet that's the Army tug!" muttered Captain Jack, rising hastily
from the table.  "Tell you what, fellows, we've got to begin to have
something like Navy discipline aboard this craft.  In that case, we'd
have had breakfast over an hour ago."

Jack was off up the steps as though pursued.  Eph went after him as soon
as that youth with the sun-kissed hair had time to pull on his visored
cap and button his blouse.  No matter what the need of haste, Somers
never appeared on deck looking less natty than a veteran naval officer.

Forward, on the tug, stood a major of engineers, a young lieutenant
beside him.

"Good morning, Mr. Benson," hailed Major Woodruff.  "We're going to try
to come in close enough to put a gang-plank over.  Can you take a bow
line from us?"

"Yes, sir," Captain Jack saluted the Army officer, and Eph hurried to
receive the line.

In less than two minutes Major Woodruff and Lieutenant Kline were on the
platform deck of the "Spitfire."

"This is the first one of your craft we've seen," declared the major, as
Eph cast off the bow line, and the tug backed water.  "Will you show us
over?"

This the submarine boys gladly did, as the Army shares with the Navy in
the defense of the country.

"You see what you have to do, Kline," said Major Woodruff, presently.
Then the older officer turned to Jack to say:

"Mr. Benson, since Mr. Farnum has been kind enough to place you and the
boat at our orders, Kline is going to remain on board, today, during the
tests.  He will give Mr. Somers whatever orders are necessary in order
to make the tests most successful."

"Why not give the orders to me, sir?" Jack asked.

"Why, you see, Mr. Benson," replied the major, "I plan for you to be on
shore, out on the neck, to make certain observations regarding the work
of your craft.  Those observations you will turn in to me."

"Very good, sir.  The neck, I take it, is the narrow strip of land that
separates this part of the bay from the ocean?"

"Quite right, Mr. Benson."

It was to be observed that the major, like naval officers, addressed Jack
by the title of "mister," not "captain."  This was because, in the
military service, Army and Navy titles are not recognized unless
conferred by government appointment or commission.  Hence, though young
Benson was "captain" to his crew and to civilians, officers of the
United Service could address, him only as "mister."

"The neck, Mr. Benson," continued Major Woodruff, "is the land best
suited for watching our work from to-day.  And now, I will state what
the object of to-day's tests is.  This morning our tug will be engaged
in planting certain submarine mines.  Mr. Somers will watch our work of
planting.  Of course the mines will contain no explosives.  You young
men have, I understand, solved the problem of leaving a submarine boat
while it lies on the bottom?  You are also able to enter the submarine
again from the surface?"

"Quite right, Major," Jack nodded.

"Then, if Mr. Somers watches the planting of the dummy mines, he will
have the same advantage as would the commander of an enemy's submarine
in knowing where our mines are planted.  We shall plant four of them,
this morning, and Mr. Somers, after seeing each mine planted, will mark
down its position on a chart of the bay.  He will then take the boat
outside, enter under water, and, without touching any of our mines,
while handling the boat, will see if he can stop close by and cut the
connecting wires."

"If your mines contain no explosive, Major," Eph inquired, "how are you
going to be able to tell whether I collide gently with one of your
submarine mines?"

"We shall know at once," smiled Major Woodruff.  "If you should collide
with one, you will cause, a bell to be rung in the camera obscura room
over at the fort.  The bell that rings will show us which one of the
mines you touched against."

The "camera obscura," as used at a modern fort, is in itself a most
interesting contrivance.  While no elaborate description of it can be
attempted here, it will be enough to explain to the reader that, in the
camera room, which is darkened, is a large white table covered with
white oil-cloth, or other white substance.  On this white surface is
drawn a plan of the harbor to be defended.  The position of each mine
sunk under the water's surface is indicated on this map against the
white background.  Each mine is numbered.  Overhead is a revolving
shutter, somewhat on the plan of a camera's lens shutter.  This shutter,
which turns a reflecting lens on the harbor, can be turned in any
direction.  Any vessel in the harbor can thus be "caught," and its
reflection, in miniature, thrown upon the white map surface.

Suppose an enemy's battleship to be entering the harbor.  The camera
obscura shutter, in being turned about, suddenly throws upon the white
screen-map the miniature picture of the hostile battleship.  Henceforth
the officer in command sees to it that the shutter is so operated as
to keep the image of the battleship always upon the white screen map.
Thus the course of the battleship is followed--absolutely.  At any
second the exact position of that battleship in the harbor is known.

Let us suppose that the officer in command at the white, map-covered
table finds that the battleship is gradually approaching the position
indicated in the harbor as mine number nineteen; as the officer watches
the moving image of the battleship, he sees it going closer and closer
to the exact spot numbered nineteen or the white map.

"Be ready, Sergeant," calls the officer, warningly, to a non-commissioned
officer who stands before a board on the wall on which are several
electric push-buttons, each numbered.

"Yes, sir," replies the sergeant.

At this moment the officer sees the image of the battleship passing
fairly over the dot on the white map that is numbered nineteen.

"Fire nineteen, Sergeant," calls the Army officer in charge.

The non-commissioned officer quickly presses electric button numbered
nineteen.  As he does so the electric current is sent flashing, perhaps
along four or five miles of insulated wire on the bottom of the harbor.
At the other end of that wire is submarine mine number nineteen.  In a
breathless instant the current traverses the whole length of the wire.
The spark has reached the gun-cotton!  There is a dull, booming sound;
a great column of water shoots up from the surface.  In the midst of the
commotion the enemy's battleship is rent, and all on board, perhaps
killed.  The cool, dry-eyed Army officer bending over the white
screen-map sees all this scene of horror depicted under the white
surface beneath his eyes.  He knows that submarine mine number nineteen,
planted out there in the harbor, has done its duty in protecting this
portion of the coast of the United States.

Here, at Fort Craven, it was desired to find whether an enemy's submarine
boat could creep in, below the surface, find the mine, whose location
was already known through spies, and effectively cut the firing wire.
If this could be done, then, in war-time, it might be that the sergeant
at the wall-board would press the button in vain.  No explosion would
follow.  With the current thus cut off, the officer bending over the
white screen would not see the miniature reproduction of the destruction
of the enemy's battleship.

A submarine torpedo boat, coming into a harbor underneath the surface,
is not pictured on the white table under the camera obscura.  So it was
desired to see whether Eph could come in, knowing the exact locations of
each of the four dummy mines, and quickly cut the firing electric wires.
If this could be done, the Army would have to revise its method of firing
such submarine mines by means of the camera obscura detection.

As Eph listened to the explanation his mind began to revolve plans
rapidly whereby he hoped to succeed in cutting the mine wires.

"You will keep sufficiently below the surface, too, Mr. Somers,"
continued Major Woodruff.  "We do not want you so close to the surface
of the water that a ripple would show on the camera obscura table.  You
cannot, of course, rise and use your periscope to see where you are.
Even the periscope would betray you."

The "periscope" is a device also of the nature of a camera obscura.  In
the case of the periscope a narrow metallic tube is thrust above the
water and the shutter turned about, reflecting all the scene about on a
white-covered table in the boat's cabin.

"I think I can beat you, Major," smiled Eph.

"I certainly hope you can," replied Major Woodruff.  "That is what we
want to see today.  We shall watch closely, too, and see whether any
plan can be devised for beating a submarine torpedo boat at its own
game."

Lieutenant Kline was to remain on board the "Spitfire," both in order to
watch the work and to give Eph any instructions that might be necessary
in order to make the tests more conclusive.

"If you will come along with me, then, Mr. Benson," suggested Major
Woodruff, "I will put you ashore on the neck.  On the way over I will
give you your instructions."

As the tug came alongside again Jack followed the major over the gang
plank to the deck of the other craft.

"Good-bye, Captain Somers," called Jack, laughingly.  "Give a fine
account of yourself as an enemy of the United States!"

"Oh, you--" began Eph, flaring red, but wisely cutting his speech
short.

On the way over to the strip of land known as the "neck" Major Woodruff
managed to make his instructions wholly clear to young Benson.

"Now, you know what to watch for, and what observations, to report to
me," finished the major of engineers, as the tug came to a stop.  A
small boat was lowered, and, in this, Captain Jack Benson was put on
the desolate shore.

Then the tug went back over by the fort.  Jack grew tired of waiting,
for it was some two hours ere the tug finally left the ordinance wharf
at Fort Craven.

It was warm out there, on the low, sandy cliffs, provided one got into
a position sheltered from the ocean winds.  So Jack, in the weariness
of his waiting, threw himself down in a sheltered hollow.

Finding that the sun shone disagreeably in his eyes, the submarine boy
pulled his cap forward over his face.

Then, in the course of a very few minutes, the inevitable happened.  Jack
Benson drifted off into sleep.

He awoke with a fearful start, for he had no idea how long he had slept.
Yanking out his watch and noting the time, the submarine boy concluded
that he had not been asleep more than twenty or thirty minutes.

"But I might just as easily have slept for hours," Benson reproached
himself.  "Then what a hero I'd have felt.  Asleep on post!"

At that moment Jack Benson heard a faraway whistle, across the bay.
Showing just the top of his head above a ridge of sand, Captain Jack
saw the Army tug just pulling out from the dock across the bay.

But Jack saw something else, too, in that brief instant.

A slim, soldierly-looking man of perhaps thirty, tall and of naturally
good carriage, was skulking along in front of the submarine boy, yet
hidden from the bay by a sand ridge.

Under one arm the stranger carried a draughtsman's board and a book.  A
strap over one shoulder held a field-glass case.

"Where in blazes have I seen that chap before?" wondered Captain Jack
Benson, staring hard.  "For I have seen him--somewhere.  I'd declare
that under oath."

Figure, carnage and face all strangely haunted the submarine boy, who
crouched lower, watching.

"By the great turret gun!  He's skulking for a reason!" muttered Benson.
"Is he spying on the mine-planting?  I wonder?  Yes!  That must be his
work!  Long-legs, I'll keep my eyes on you!"

The stranger hastened along for perhaps a quarter of a mile further.
Then he threw himself down on the sand, choosing a position in which he
could lie flat, his head fairly well hidden behind a low ridge of sand.

Unslinging the field-glass, the stranger brought it to his eyes, closely
watching the progress of the tug.

"Ha-ha!" muttered watchful Jack, who had followed, keeping behind
another sand ridge.  "So, sir!"

The minutes passed, though Jack Benson was so absorbed in watching this
long stranger that the boy had but the vaguest notions of the flight of
time.

The tug had halted, now.  A great crane at the bow swung around, and a
submarine mine hung poised in the air.  Then, with a rattle of chains
not audible at the distance, the mine was slowly lowered until it
touched on bottom.

While this was going on, the long-legged stranger, wholly absorbed in
his own work, made some observations and some hurried calculations.
Then he pulled the drawing-board toward him, jotting down a point.

Jack Benson, standing stealthily, got a good look, for the first time,
at the top of that drawing board.

"A chart of the bay, of course," muttered Benson, savagely, between his
teeth.  "The fellow is marking down the exact position of that mine!"

Still, the submarine boy did nothing to betray his own presence.  He
watched and wondered.  The thought struck him that this long-legged
one might be an officer of the Army, on observation duty like the
submarine boy himself.

"But that isn't right; I'm sure it isn't," decided young Benson, quickly.
"If they fellow were here on honest business, he wouldn't have sneaked
out here to get in position.  Besides, I have a vague remembrance of
this fellow, and I don't connect him with anything honest!"

The Army tug, out on the bay, was now engaged in planting a second mine.
Again the slim stranger was all attention.  When the crane began to
lower the mine, a second mark was made on the chart on the drawing
board.

Now, once more, the fellow lay at full length, watching intently off
over the bay.  At his right hand lay drawing-board, the book and the
field-glasses.

"I'll give him a little excitement!" grimaced Jack Benson, stealing
softly forward.

Suddenly the boy swooped down upon drawing board, book and glasses,
then, with a panting whoop, wheeled and started off on a dead run.

"Here you--stop!" yelled the slim one, hoarse with sudden anger.

Like a flash the stranger was up and in pursuit.  As he quickened in
the chase this stranger drew a revolver that glinted in the sun.




CHAPTER IV

JACK'S QUEER LOT OF LOOT


"Stop, thief!"

Jack Benson only sped onward the faster.

"Halt, you young rascal!" roared the long-legged one, in pursuit.

"The fellow who can call names like that, under the circumstances, has
no sense of humor!" chuckled the submarine boy, inwardly.

"Drop that chart and book!" panted the one in chase.  "You're stealing
government property!"

"Yes, but which government?" Jack shot back at his pursuer.

"Are you going to stop?"

Jack's answer was to increase his burst of speed slightly.

"Then I'm going to fire!" came the warning.  Glancing over his shoulder
the submarine boy saw the long-legged one still running after him.  At
the same time the pursuer was raising his revolver, sighting.

Jack felt a little shiver.  He had never been suspected of being a
coward, yet he was willing to admit that he didn't want to feel a
chunk of lead plowing its way through him.

"Last word to halt!" yelled the pursuer, in an ugly tone.

"Fire, then!" dared Jack Benson.

Crack!  Whizz-zz!  Chug!  The weapon was discharged promptly.  Jack,
still in flight, heard the bullet whistle by him.  Then it struck the
sand, fifty feet ahead, throwing up a spurt of the fine particles.

"That was for a caution.  The next shot will be to hit!" panted the
pursuer.

"I wonder if you can do it?" Jack taunted backward over his shoulder.

There was method in the submarine boy's tactics.  He hoped, by making
the stranger angry, to spoil his aim.

Crack!  The bullet sped by, fanning the fugitive's face.  The close
aim, however, had the reverse of the effect expected by the marksman.
It roused all the submarine boy's anger.  He might be hit, but he
would stop, now, only if a bullet laid him low.

Two more shots sped after the fugitive.  Their aim was too close for
comfort, though not true enough to score a hit.  Each of the shots
sounded a bit further back, too.

"He's getting winded," gritted the running submarine boy.  "With his long
legs that chap ought to get over ground faster than I.  The difference
is that that fellow is out of condition, and my hard work keeps me
about up to the mark of condition all the time.  He--"

Crack!  Jack happened to turn, just as the fellow fired, and the boy was
able to see that the bullet struck the ground behind him.

"Out of range!" clicked Benson.  "What's the good of carrying a pocket
revolver for service work?  Now, if he had a dozen shots more left he
would be wasting his cartridges to fire at me."

In fact, it was plain enough that the pursuer had given up the chase for
the time being.  Not only was he out of range of his quarry, but the
long-legged one lacked the wind to keep on on foot.

"Say, what a fool I'd have been, to give up this plunder!" cried Jack,
mockingly.  "That chap couldn't catch me; he couldn't hit me.  So I've
gotten away with the stuff he was so anxious to have--and which the
Army, I'll bet, would a thousand times rather he didn't have!"

"Now, how am I going to get back to the Army people?" wondered young
Benson, slowing down to a walk, though keeping a vigilant lookout to
the rear.  "I don't want to walk something like a million miles to find
a place from which I can get across the bay."

It was desolate country, over here.  Jack and the long-legged one, well
to his rear, now, might be the only human beings within some miles.  The
outlook was not an encouraging one.

"Say!  Wow!  Whoop!  Blazes!" uttered Captain Jack, suddenly.  "Now, I
remember Long-legs!  Millard was the name he gave when he came to us, at
Dunhaven, last Fall.  He was the chap who wanted to work on the submarine
construction.  Said he'd do any kind of work, but Grant Andrews put him
in a separate shed, sorting and counting steel rivets, and never let him
get near a submarine boat.  That's the same fellow--Millard.  Or, at
least, that was the name he gave them.  But, when Millard found he wasn't
going to do anything but take care of rivets, he threw up the job four
days after.  He had pretended to be mighty hard up, too, and wanted work
at any sort of wages."

Jack's face began to glow as he remembered more and more of the brief
career of Millard at Dunhaven.

"And Dave Pollard, when he was over in Washington later, said he ran
across Millard living at the swell Arlington Hotel!  Millard had a
different name in Washington, and refused to recognize Mr. Pollard--said
there was some mistake.  By hookey!  There isn't any mistake.  Millard
was trying to steal submarine secrets at Dunhaven, and now he's trying
to map out harbor defenses in Craven Bay!"

Again Captain Jack glanced backward over his shoulder, but Millard was
no longer in sight.

"He knew me, probably, in a flash," muttered the submarine boy.  "I'm
sorry I didn't recognize him sooner."

Having gotten his wind back, Jack broke into a run again.  Just because
Millard had dropped out of sight was no reason for taking chances of a
sudden swoop from the stranger.

For some five minutes Jack Benson jogged along.  Then he came in sight
of a little semicove.  Here lay a small motor launch, whose skipper,
somewhat of the fisherman type, was busily engaged with the engine.

"Say," hailed young Benson, running down to the water's edge, "can you
start your engine at once?"

"I reckon," nodded the fisherman, looking up.

"Run your bow in, so I can get aboard, then," directed Captain Jack,
briskly.  "I want to get over to where the Army tug is at work.  Do
you know where that is--over to the southeast ward?"

"Yep," nodded the fisherman.

"I'll give you three dollars to take me over there in a hustle," proposed
Jack.

"You're easy enough," grinned the man in the boat, starting the engine,
then lightly driving the bow of the boat upon the sand.  "But you'll pay
me in advance."

"Certainly," nodded the submarine boy, taking out the money, as he
stepped into the boat, and handing it over.

"Now, pick up that boathook, and shove off, and we'll start," added the
master of the little launch.

As Jack snatched up the boathook he caught, sight of Millard, three
hundred yards away, just coming in sight on a run.

"You'd better get your engine going fast," warned Jack, "or that fellow
headed this way will make trouble for us both.  He's carrying a gun."

The skipper took just one look at Millard, who was racing along, pistol
in hand, and was prepared to believe his present passenger.  That little
launch stole out of the cover under its reverse gear until the master of
the craft thought himself far enough from shore for him to be out of
range of Millard's weapon.

"Who is that feller?" asked the fisherman, when satisfied that he was at
a safe distance and increasing it every instant.

"From the way he's dancing up and down, it looks as if he were crazy,"
laughed Jack, coolly.

"What's his particular specialty in craziness?" asked the master of the
launch, looking shrewdly at the submarine boy.

"Now, see here," protested Benson, good humoredly, "as I understand it,
you're paid to take me over to the Army tug--not to ask questions.  Am
I right?"

"You're right," nodded the fisherman, then surveyed the boy's uniform
curiously.

"Your uniform looks like you was in the Navy?" suggested the man at the
stern of the boat.

"Does it?" queried Jack.

"Are you in the Navy?" persisted the boat man.

"Just now, I'm serving with the Army," Captain Jack replied, evasively.

"Are you--" started in the human interrogation point, anew.

"See here," broke in the submarine boy, "I thought we agreed you had just
one job to do for me, and that questions formed no part of it."

"That's right," agreed the fisherman.  "But say, there's just one
question I wish you'd answer me.  Are you--"

"No!" interrupted Benson, decisively.  "I am not.  I never was."

"You didn't let me finish," complained the man.

"Wait until I'm out of the boat," proposed the submarine boy.  "Then ask
all the questions you like.  Maybe you're paid to ask questions, but I'm
paid to hold my mouth shut."

It went a good deal against the submarine boy's grain to be so brusque
with an inquisitive stranger, but there seemed to be no other defense.

"Oh, well, if you're ashamed of your business--" retorted the
fisherman, falling into a sullen silence.

This turn of affairs just suited Benson.  He compressed his lips and sat
back, looking out across the bay at the tug, which was at work some
three miles away.

"Can you put on a little more speed?" inquired Jack.

"No," answered the fisherman, sulkily.  "Doin' all the gait she'll
kick now."

So Jack possessed his soul in patience until the wheezy little launch
had covered the whole distance.

While still some two hundred yards off Jack caught sight of Major
Woodruff coming out of the after cabin of the tug.

"Ahoy, Major!" yelled the submarine boy, holding his hands to his lips.
"Perhaps you'd better stop work until I've reported."

Then the launch ran in alongside, and Jack stepped up to the deck of
the tug, holding tightly to the loot he had taken from Millard.

The master of the launch manifested a disposition to hang about in the
near vicinity, until curtly ordered away by Major Woodruff.

"I suppose you thought, Major, that I took a good deal upon myself in
advising you to suspend work," Jack hinted.  "Yet I've something to
show you, and much to tell you.  And I'm wagering an anchor to a
fish-hook that you'll be glad you stationed me over on that neck of
sand."

Major Woodruff led the way back into the cabin.  There he examined the
chart, with a start of astonishment.

"The fellow was marking down all our mine positions," came savagely from
between the Army officer's teeth.

Then he picked up the book.

"A nice little assortment of notes on matters of military interest along
this coast," muttered the soldier.  "Your long-legged fellow has been
busy at other points than Craven's Bay."

Then, closing the book with a snap, Major Woodruff looked keenly at the
submarine boy as he remarked:

"Mr. Benson, I think our present submarine tests can be well suspended.
We have a much more important task ahead of us--to catch this impudent
thief of military secrets!  And, in this undertaking, Benson, you can be
of the greatest sort of help!"




CHAPTER V

SIGHTING THE ENEMY


"You can count on me, sir," declared Captain Jack Benson, eagerly.

"I can count on every one of you submarine boys, can't I?" asked Major
Woodruff, thoughtfully.

"You can count on us," declared Benson, earnestly, "as though every one
of us were sworn into the service and had a record of being tried and
tested!"

In an instant after speaking the submarine boy realized that this must
have had a boastful sound.  So he added, quickly:

"Please don't suspect me, Major, of being a braggart.  But Hal, Eph and
I have always taken our work with seriousness.  We have always acted
just as though the Flag depended upon us for its protection.  We have
the desire, every minute of our lives, to be great Americans--that is,
great in our devotion to the Flag, even if we cannot be great in deeds."

"By Jove, I believe you!" cried Major Woodruff, reaching forward and
clasping Jack's hand tightly in his own.

The major went on heartily:

"No, no, Benson, I don't consider you boastful.  You're talking the way
I heard some youngsters talk when I was a boy.  It's refreshing and
encouraging to hear you talk that way.  Do you know, boy, when we older
fellows sometimes get to thinking of the country's past glories, we
wonder whether the boys of to-day are going to make such men as have
carried the United States of America forward in the past?  The thought
makes us solemn and anxious.  I suppose every man who is grown and on
toward middle life has always, in every generation, wondered whether
boys were as serious and dependable, as staunch and loyal as the boys
of the day before yesterday.  Look here, lad!"

Major Woodruff rose, stepping to the door aft and throwing it open.  The
stern of the tug was visible.  From the pole that slanted out over the
stern, hung the Stars and Stripes.

"You don't need to glance at that fine old bit of bunting more than a
second, lad," continued the major, "before you feel all that it can ever
make you feel.  In your case, I believe the sight of the Flag is always
an inspiration to you.  I pray it is so with every boy who grows up in
this country.  But is it?"

Standing there before the Flag, Jack quietly doffed his cap.

"Thank you, Benson," acknowledged the major, also doffing his own cap.
Then, closing the door, Major Woodruff stepped back to the table on
which lay chart and book.

"This chart, Benson, shows what the rascal Millard, has been doing out
on the neck.  This book proves that he has been at work at some other
points.  The book doesn't tell much of the story, though.  Of that I
am certain.  Millard, if he has been at work long, has compiled other
notes in other written volumes.  If so, then he has also made other
charts of our coast defenses.  For what other government has he thus
marked a series of charts with our secrets?  And has Millard succeeded
in getting other charts, and other books of notes, off to the foreign
government he is serving--or has he them hidden somewhere in this
country, awaiting his chance to take the results of his spying out of
the United States?"

"I wish I knew!" muttered Jack.

"I'm coming to the point," continued Major Woodruff, briskly.  "Now, of
course, when we discover evidence that spies of other governments are at
work along our lines of national defenses, the first thing we try to do
is to catch these foreign agents and all the material they have
succeeded in getting together."

Major Woodruff, who was becoming considerably excited, paused to light
a cigar, ere he continued, more slowly:

"Now, you and your two friends, Benson, know this fellow Millard.  You
will spot him instantly, wherever you go.  I shall communicate with
Washington, at once, by means of a telegram in cipher.  The War
Department will order me to use all speed in catching Millard, and in
finding out where he keeps his other stolen records.  Men and money will
be used in running down this fellow.  Yet you and your two chums should
be in the front ranks of pursuit, for you will know him the instant you
lay eyes on him."

"You want me to take my friends ashore, then, Major, and lay the
'Spitfire' up?"

"By no means," answered Major Woodruff, decisively.  "In reality
operations will be suspended at this point until we have run Millard
down.  Yet we must have the appearance of being as busy as ever.  The
submarine will hover about, and this tug will be busy, apparently, in
laying the bay with mines.  You have a fourth man on your boat?"

"Yes, sir; Williamson, the machinist."

"Can he run the engines all right?"

"As well as any of us, Major."

"Then I will put aboard a man who can steer.  Thus the 'Spitfire' will
be seen moving about the bay, and apparently at work.  I'll also put
aboard a guard of a sergeant and three or four soldiers of the engineer
corps, and they'll guard that boat from harm with their lives.  That
will leave all three of you young officers of the 'Spitfire' free for
shore duty."

"It will, Major.  And now, sir, what is that shore duty to be?"

"Simply to locate Millard.  He may be at one of the hotels in Radford."

Radford was the busy, important little port four miles farther up the
bay.

"He's likely to be somewhere in Radford, anyway," nodded young Benson.

"Wherever the fellow is found, he must be seized at once," continued
Major Woodruff, warmly.  "Any policeman will seize him on your request.
I will give each of you three a written statement that you have been
asked to locate Millard and have him arrested.  If you run across
Millard anywhere, turn him over to a policeman, then show my written
authorization.  On that the police authorities will hold the scoundrel
and notify the military authorities.  Then, once we have Millard out at
Fort Craven, securely under lock and key, by authority from Washington,
we will make every effort under the sun to locate his charts and
notebooks."

"Why, the work you want us to do is going to be easy enough," murmured
Captain Jack.

"It is going to be easy, if you succeed in finding the fellow, and in
turning him over to a policeman," replied Major Woodruff.  "And, by the
way, I have just remembered that Lieutenant Ridder, of the engineer
corps, reported last night from a former station in the West.  No one
around here will know him.  Good enough!  I'll have Ridder get into
citizen's clothes and go about with you three.  He can give you
instructions on any point about which you're in doubt."

"We ought to run that rascal down, sir," answered Jack Benson, rising.
"Unless--"

"Unless what, Benson?"

"Why, sir, unless he's more clever than a rascal usually succeeds in
being.  I haven't lived so very long, Major Woodruff, but, from what
little I've seen of the world, it has struck me that the cleverest
scoundrels are always just a little less smart, in the end, than the
average of honest men."

"I hope you'll prove it, in this case," replied the major.  "And now, to
signal your boat.  We'll run both craft in at the ordnance dock at Fort
Craven."

A couple of miles away Eph Somers was slowly running the submarine back
and forth over the water in seeming aimlessness.  In response to sharp
blasts from the whistle of the Army tug, the "Spitfire" was seen to
turn and head for the tug.

"Mr. Somers, you will follow in our wake," shouted Major Woodruff, when
the two craft were within hailing distance of each other.  "We will
show you where to make fast at the ordnance dock."

"Very good, sir," Eph responded, with a salute.

A little later in the forenoon both boats docked at the water front of
Fort Craven.

"You'll come up to my quarters, now, and meet Lieutenant Ridder,"
announced the Major, when he had gathered the submarine boys together,
and when Jack had given necessary explanations to Williamson.

"You may not see us again, for a few days," Jack informed the machinist,
in winding up.

"That won't surprise me so very much, either," laughed the machinist.
"Things are always happening, where you are, and mysteries have ceased
to puzzle me."

"Have you young men ever been on a military post before?" inquired
Major Woodruff, as he led them up from the dock.

"Never sir," replied Jack.  "We have seen considerable of Navy life, but
this is the first time we've ever been at a fort."

"You don't see much about this place, do you," laughed the engineer
officer, "that makes you think of a fort?"

"Not much," Benson admitted.

"Yet we have a fighting plant here that could prevent a big fleet,
indeed, from getting far up the bay at the important cities beyond.
That is," Woodruff continued, thoughtfully, in a low voice, "if the
enemy, in advance of his coming here, doesn't know all about our defenses
through the work of spies."

Just at the point near the dock, Fort Craven looked not unlike the yard
of a big factory plant.  Wagons going and coming constantly heightened
this effect.  Beyond, past the plain, on one side, Major Woodruff
pointed out the barracks of the Coast Artillery, of the Engineers
soldiers, and of the Infantry.  There were also laborers' quarters,
several office buildings, a hospital, a chapel, and two streets of
cottages that served as quarters for the officers stationed at Fort
Craven.

It was into one of these officers' streets that Major Woodruff soon led
his three young companions.  Admitting the boys to his home, the major
took them to the library on the ground floor.

"Now, I'll telephone for Lieutenant Ridder to come over in citizen's
dress," announced the major.  "At the same time, I must advise Colonel
Totten, who is commander of the post.  He may come over here, or he may
order us all over to headquarters."

Colonel Totten elected to come over to the major's quarters.  He arrived
just after Lieutenant Ridder, who proved to be a rather boyish looking
young man, not long out of West Point.

The plans were quickly laid by which Lieutenant Ridder was to take an
automobile up to Radford, going to one of the hotels and registering.

Jack and his two chums were to make the journey in another auto.  They
would go to still other hotels, perhaps to three different ones.  At any
moment when instructions were needed, any one of the three could call up
Lieutenant Ridder on the telephone.

In addition, Major Woodruff gave each of the three submarine boys a
written and signed authorization for them to call upon the police to
seize Millard, if found, and hold the fellow for the United States
military authorities.

"Now, you young men may start for Radford," continued the major.
"Colonel Totten and I will busy ourselves with the despatches that must
be sent to Washington about this affair.  But I trust, lads, you will
not fail to realize the importance of prompt success."

"It's a special duty to the Flag, sir," Captain Jack answered, simply.

The automobiles were waiting outside.  Lieutenant Ridder was given a
three minutes' start.  Then the submarine boys followed after, in a
second car.

As Radford was but four miles distant from the post the trip was not to
be a long one.

"This is the sort of job that has me by the ears," glowed Eph Somers,
enthusiastically.  "I won't be selfish enough to say I hope to be the
fellow to catch Millard.  But, if he does stray my way, I hope I won't
be idiot enough to let him slip through my fingers."

"I don't care if Lieutenant Ridder is the one who nabs him," remarked
Hal, coolly.  "All that I'm particular about is to see this foreign
agent nabbed before he succeeds in getting any information out of the
country."

The car that bore the boys was soon driving through the streets of
Radford.  Jack held in his hand a list of the better grade and
middle-class hotels that Colonel Totten had given him.

"Which hotel are we going to first?" asked Hal.

"I don't know," uttered Jack, suddenly, sharply.  "I know what I'm going
to do, however."

Leaning slightly forward the young submarine captain prodded the
chauffeur lightly, twice, in the back--a signal that had been agreed
upon at need.

In response, the chauffeur ran the car slowly in at the curb.

Captain Jack, opening the tonneau door, was quickly out on the sidewalk,
without any need having risen for wholly stopping the car, which then
shot forward again.

"Now, what on earth was that for?" demanded Eph Somers, as the car
sped on.

"Don't look back," replied Hal.

"Why not?"

"Well, a certain party would see you looking at him."

"Who?"

"Why, Jack had the good luck to see Millard going along on the sidewalk.
We've just passed the fellow!"

"Are we going to nab him?" demanded Somers, breathlessly.

"You'll have to leave that decision to good old Jack," chuckled Hal
Hastings.  "He's out there, dogging Millard from the rear.  It's Jack
Benson's affair just at this moment."

It was mighty hard for Eph to refrain from looking back.  But he
restrained his curiosity.




CHAPTER VI

FLANK MOVEMENT AND REAR ATTACK


When Jack Benson first touched the sidewalk, and the automobile glided
on, leaving him in the wake of Millard, it was the young submarine
captain's intention to follow his instructions to the letter.

Millard, having no especial reason of his own for feeling in danger, was
walking along at a moderate gait, occasionally glancing into shop
windows or gazing at the people whom he passed.

He did not look behind, so it was easy for Jack, less than half a block
to the rear, and keeping close to the buildings, to follow without being
detected.

"Hullo," muttered the submarine boy.  "There's a policeman on the
crossing at the next corner.  In another moment our long-legged one will
be safely in custody."

Feeling in his inner coat pocket for the written authorization, Benson's
fingers touched the envelope.

"He's easily caught;" murmured the boy.

There is sometimes a big slip between a wish and its fulfillment.  Just
as Captain Jack was on the point of darting out into the street to hail
the policeman a street car whizzed by.  With a flying leap the policeman
landed on the front platform and was whirled along the thoroughfare.

"Lesson number one about being too sure," grumbled disappointed young
Benson.  "However, we'll soon come upon another policeman."

Two blocks more were covered, however, without sighting a bluecoat.  Jack
even began to wonder how it would do to leap upon Millard, calling upon
passing citizens to aid him until a policeman arrived.

"But that would be a two-edged sword, that might cut too keenly on the
wrong side," reflected the submarine boy.  "Millard would be sure to
claim that I was assaulting him.  It would look like that, too, and
I'd probably get a thumping from the crowd, while Millard slipped away.
Then he would be warned that he was wanted, and he'd make himself mighty
scarce after that."

Still no policeman came into sight.

"Gracious!" muttered Jack Benson, suddenly.  He had just glanced into a
store's show window, where a mirror was set at an angle.  The submarine
boy, looking into that mirror, became aware that he could see people at
a considerable distance behind him down the street.

"I wonder if Millard has been taking sights, too, and has had a peep at
me, that way?" muttered the boy.

At the next corner the long-legged one, after a brief look down the side
street, turned into it.

"Now, that we're getting away from the main street there'll be far less
chance of finding a police officer," sighed Jack, at last wholly
discontented with luck.

Millard led without, apparently, ever thinking to glance back.  He
turned a second corner, into another small street, and kept on.

"This is getting more exciting," muttered the young trailer.  "Yet all
signs point to the fact that I've got to make the grab all by myself.
I wonder if I can down that chap and get the upper hand of him?  I don't
mind a thumping, but I'd be sadly ashamed of myself to let the fellow
get away from me."

Millard was walking briskly, now.  Next, he turned sharply to the left.

"Ah!" Then Jack Benson shot swiftly forward on tip-toe, trying to make
no noise as he ran.

For the long-legged one had, to all seeming, at the distance, wheeled
and gone through the wall of a brick building.

Just an instant later, however, this impossible feat was explained.  The
submarine boy found himself at the street-end of a narrow alley between
two brick buildings.

"He has gone into the rear house, at the end of the alleyway," decided
Benson, peering down this narrow thoroughfare.  "He has left the door
partly open, too.  I'll have to have a look-in."

As he stole down the alley-way Jack Benson was too sensible, and by this
time, too much experienced in the ways of a rougher world, not to suspect
that there might be some trap in that door partly open.  "He may have
seen me, and may have left that door open on purpose," Benson reflected.
"He may be lying in wait for me, inside.  Or else he may have left that
door open, just to make me suspect a trap and keep out.  In the meantime,
he may be slipping through a door on the other side of the house, and
sneaking away from me."

For a few seconds Jack Benson paused thoughtfully on the step just
outside the door that was partly ajar.

"I may walk into a trap, by going inside, or I may be letting that
wretch walk out of one by staying out here," wavered Benson, torn
between two impulses.

Then, just as suddenly, this thought flashed through his mind:

"What you're doing is for the Flag!  Never mind what happens to you,
Jack Benson.  Just rash in and say '_here goes_'!"

There was not another second's hesitation.  Jack Benson softly pushed
the door far enough open to admit him.  At the back of the hallway he
saw stairs leading below.

"Basement stairs, with a rear basement door letting out on another
alleyway!" suspected the submarine boy.

Though he had determined to be as reckless as seemed necessary in order
to get quickly on the trail of the vanished one, Jack moved on tip-toe.
He had all but reached the head of the stairs when a ground-floor door
behind him opened noiselessly.  The long-legged one, who had an equally
good reach of arm, thrust out a noose that fell over the boy's head.

"Ug-g-g-gh!" rattled in Jack Benson's throat, as Millard, in grim
silence, jerked the rope noose tight about the boy's neck.  A sharp pull,
a twist, and Millard had the boy face down in that hallway, and was
kneeling on the victim's back.

"You ought to have known enough to keep away from me," growled the
wretch, as he tightened on the noose.

That was about the last that the young submarine captain heard or knew,
just then, for things were rapidly growing black before his eyes.
Jack tried to fight, but the choking was too severe.  He couldn't get
even a breath of air into his lungs to give him fighting strength.

Finding that the boy's struggles had ceased, the long-legged one eased
off on the noose.  He bent Jack's arms behind him so that the wrists
crossed.  Then, pulling another cord from one of his pockets, the
wretch tied the youngster's hands with a few deft movements.  Oh, but
this rascal was an expert artist with ropes and cords.

Jack felt himself being prodded just over the pit of the stomach, and
his senses slowly wandered back to him under the disturbing handling.
He was lying on his back, when his eyes opened once more.  His throat
felt sore, but he could breathe again.

Then the submarine boy discovered that his hands and feet were securely
lashed.  Beyond that, he discovered Millard squatting on the floor,
close by, in Japanese fashion, for the foreign agent was sitting back
on his own crossed heels.

"Feel wholly comfortable?" mockingly inquired the foreign agent, when
he saw the boy's eyes open.

"Not especially, thank you," mumbled the boy, dryly.

Jack had discovered, by this time, that he was lying on a wooden floor,
very likely in the basement of the house.  The room contained no
furniture, beyond an old table.  Daylight was excluded by wooden
shutters fastened into place over the windows.  On the table a single
candle burned in a candlestick.

"Why didn't you bring along with you, Benson," sneered the long fellow,
"the property of mine that you stole from me?"

It was plain, then, that the foreign agent remembered the submarine boy
well.

"Why are you playing this fool trick on me?" counter-questioned Captain
Jack.  "You knew I didn't have the--the things with me.  You could see
that."

"I put you to this inconvenience," replied the foreign agent, "because
I wanted to know a few things.  In the first place, why are you bothering
with me, or with my plans?"

Jack remained silent.

"Won't talk, eh?  Oh, well, then, perhaps we can find out a few things
without any very especial help from you."

Millard bent over, thrusting his hand into one after another of young
Benson's pockets.  In so doing he brought to light the envelope in the
lad's inner coat pocket.  Just an instant later, the wretch snatched
the folded sheet from the envelope, spread the paper open and held
it up to the light.

"Ho-ho!" sneered the rascal, "an order authorizing you to cause my
arrest?  This disposes of your case, then, young Mr. Benson!"




CHAPTER VII

A LESSON IN SECURITY AND INFORMATION


Despite the savageness of his utterance Millard continued to gaze
thoughtfully, for a few moments, at the submarine boy's face.

As the rascal gazed, however, a grayness came into his cheeks that,
somehow, smote Captain Jack with secret terror.

"I--I don't see how it can be helped," gasped Millard, at last, in an
altered tone that came as another dash of ice water over the submarine
boy.  "Benson, I hate to do it.  I'd hate to use a dog in such a way,
but--but there's no help for it!"

A long-drawn-out sigh, a still queerer look in his face, then the
scoundrel broke forth again:

"It's your own fault, after all, boy, and there's no help for it."

"By and by I suppose you'll enlighten me as to what 'it' means?" hinted
Jack, trying hard to bolster up a courage that, none the less, would
ooze and drop.

Millard's only answer was to bend over the boy and roll him somewhat in
examining the prisoner's bonds.  It was through this that Jack discovered
what he had not known before--namely, that his wrists, besides being
bound behind his back, were also lashed fast to something in the
flooring.

There was a queer little choke in Millard's breathing as he went out of
the room and returned with a bushel basket of shavings.  These he
dumped on the floor, close to a wall.  Then, again, he went out.  When
he returned he was carrying a can of coal-oil.  The contents he poured
over the shavings, then against the wall.  Next, over the shavings, he
heaped three or four newspapers.

Jack Benson didn't ask questions.  Millard went at it all in such a
business-like way that the submarine boy felt the words sticking in
his throat; they couldn't be uttered.

Finally, when all else was ready, Millard took the lighted candle out
of the candlestick.

"This candle will burn for thirty minutes yet," guessed the wretch,
noting its unburned length with the air of an expert "That will be time
enough.  Poor lad!"

He set the lighted candle down on top of the papers, over the pile of
oil-soaked shavings.  It fitted nicely into a place that the wretch
had made ready for it.  Then, without a word, the long-legged one
tip-toed softly over and bent beside the submarine boy.

"Open your mouth," he ordered.

Of course Captain Jack didn't propose to do anything of the sort.  With
one hand, however, Millard gripped the boy's nostrils, pressing tightly.
Just a little later Jack had to open his mouth for air.

"Thank you," mocked the other, and neatly shoved a handkerchief between
the boy's jaws.  This he tied in place, and rising, looked down upon a
gagged foe.  Then, with a last look over at the candle, the long-legged
one darted from the room.

Left alone, Jack Benson watched that candle on top of the prepared heap.
His eyes gleamed with the fascination of terror.  When that candle
burned down to the right point it would set fire to the paper, and
then--!

Try as he would to bolster his grit, Captain Jack Benson found himself
in a fearful plight.  At first, he could only stare, with terror-dilated
eyes, at that candle--ever burning just a slight fraction shorter!

While the horror-laden moments were dragging by Jack heard a step on
the stairs behind his head.  Then he realized that some one was looking
into the room.  Then a voice spoke.  It was Millard's, though scarcely
recognizable on account of its huskiness.

"It's a fearful thing to do, Benson, but--but I can't help it!  If you
only knew what it means to me to win!"

Then followed a moment of utter silence.  Jack could hear his own heart
beating, as he fancied he could hear that of his persecutor.  Then
there was another sound, as though some light-weight metallic object
had fallen to the floor.

"Good-bye, old chap!  I--I respect you for your calm grit--that's
all I can say."

There was the sound of a quick turn, then soft footsteps.  Jack knew
that Millard had fled.

"He respects me for my 'calm grit'!" laughed Jack, grimly--almost
hysterically.  "Doesn't the scoundrel know that I'm all but frozen
into the torpor of dread?"

Then, just as suddenly, an anguished "oh!" broke from the boy's lips, to
be followed, instantly, by a tremor of hope.

For, except at the time when interrupted by Millard's return, the young
submarine captain had been fighting savagely at the bonds behind his
back.  Now, he fancied, he heard or felt a single strand giving way.

"I've got to get out of this quickly, if at all!" quavered the boy,
staring with wavering eyes at the ever-shortening candle-bit.  "There
won't be anything left to do--except bear it--if I'm ten minutes
longer at this all but hopeless task."

After a few frenzied moments of struggle there was another "r-r-rip"
behind him--close to his wrists.

Now, young Benson fought with rage and frenzied strength.  His gaze was
ever toward the candle, burning lower.  It seemed as if it must
communicate its flame to the paper at any instant.

There came another ripping sound.  Captain Jack Benson, though he
could not see, felt something giving around his wrists.  Frantically
he squirmed and twisted with his hands.  Then, suddenly, his wrists
fell apart--free!

With an exulting throb of gratitude for this well-nigh unexpected boon,
Benson forced himself up into a sitting posture.  He was shaking, now,
from sheer nervousness.

Swiftly, tremulously, he felt in his pockets.

"My long-legged friend never thought to take my knife--probably because
he hadn't the slightest idea I'd be able to use it," thrilled the
submarine boy, as he forced a blade open.

It didn't seem to take an instant, now, to cut the cords and set his
feet free.  Jack staggered to his feet.  The lighted candle had burned
down, now, even more perilously close to the paper--but what did the
submarine boy care now?  At the worst, he could easily run from this
house which, he felt certain, was untenanted save for himself.

As soon as he could steady himself well enough, Benson bent and snatched
up the burning candle from the tinder-like bed on which it stood propped.

"Instead of destroying me," he chuckled, "this candle will now light me
on my way out."

At the doorway at the end of the room Jack Benson, by some strange
chance, happened to remember that slight metallic sound of something
falling to the floor while Millard was speaking.  Now, Jack bent over,
holding the candle to aid him in his hunt.  Ah!  There it was!  Yet how
utterly insignificant--nothing but a hairpin!

"Trifles often lead to something big, though," muttered the submarine
boy, dropping the hairpin into his pocket.  "I've been too much around
machinery to despise small things."

Candle in hand, Jack quickly ascended through the rest of the house,
after finding, in the lower hallway, a stout stick that he picked up.
With this club he felt he had a weapon to be depended upon at need.

But there was nothing in the rest of the little three-story house to
throw any light upon the habits of Millard, or the place for which
that worthy had departed.

In one upper room Benson found a small mirror hung from a nail in the
wall.  In this same room was a small trunk, lid up and empty.

Back to the basement Jack returned.  At the rear he found a small yard.
Beyond that a fence, with a gate in it.  The gate was unlocked.  On a
nail at the edge of the gateway Jack found a fluttering fragment of
gray veiling.

"A woman has left here," thought Jack, holding the fragment of veiling
in his hand.  "Or else Millard got away disguised as a woman.  That
trunk may have held woman's apparel for the very purposes of such an
escape."

This rear gateway opened upon a long, narrow alley that led to a street
beyond.

Having satisfied himself on this point, Benson stepped back into the
yard.

"Hold on!  Here's something that will help," muttered the boy, staring
down curiously at the ground.

It was the imprint of a foot in a wet spot on the ground.  As Jack bent
over it he saw the marks of diagonal criss-crossing such as is found
in the soles of rubbers.

"The print is a fresh one.  Either Millard wore rubbers away, or some
woman has been here who wore them," Jack concluded.

Dropping his cudgel, since he would have no use for it, Benson made his
way down the alley to the street beyond.  At the corner stood a small
grocery store, whose proprietor was in the doorway.

"I wonder," began Jack, "whether you saw a woman came down out of this
alley-way lately?  A tall woman?"

"About twenty minutes ago I saw a tall woman, in a gray dress and
wearing a gray veil," replied the storekeeper.

"Was she carrying anything?"

"Some sort of a grip--a suit case, I guess."

"Did you ever see the woman before?" persisted Jack.

The storekeeper shook his head.

"Which way did the woman go?"

"I don't remember, particularly, but I think down that way," replied the
grocer, pointing.

Jack hurried along.  It was a quiet part of the town.  None of the people
to whom he spoke within the next three or four minutes remembered having
seen the tall, veiled woman in gray, though some "thought" they
"might have."

"I reckon," wisely decided Captain Jack Benson, "that I know just about
enough to take my information to Lieutenant Ridder."




CHAPTER VIII

EPH FEELS LIKE THIRTY TACKS


As agreed, the young West Pointer was in a room at the Grindley House.
As this room was equipped with a telephone, the young Army man was in
touch both with Fort Craven and with the submarine boys, should the
latter find anything to report over the talking wire.

Here in the room Captain Jack found Ridder, for the boy had felt it
best to go direct to the hotel.

"Surely, you haven't found out anything as quickly as this?" asked the
young lieutenant of engineers, looking up in surprise.

"I've learned a few things," replied Jack, quietly.

"Sit down, and let us hear what you've learned."

Jack dropped to the chair, but Lieutenant Ridder, when he heard the news,
was so excited that no chair could hold him.

"Jove!  and just our luck!" gasped the Army officer.  "No policeman
in sight!  Now, if you three boys had kept together--"

"But, you see, when I dropped from the automobile, I wasn't sure it was
Millard.  I had had only a glance, and his face was away from me."

"If you see that wretch again, jump on him wherever he is."

"I could have done it, this last time," Benson nodded.  "Yet I had an
idea that, if I followed him, he might lead me to the place where he
kept his maps and his other stolen information.  And he did, I guess,"
added Jack, with a somewhat disappointed smile.

"Wait a moment.  I'll try to get Major Woodruff over the wire," muttered
Lieutenant Ridder.  "He may have some orders for us."

Major Woodruff was at his home.  He heard the message and sent his
orders crisply.

"The major thinks we had better keep this matter from the police, yet,
and do our best to find Millard, either in his own garments, or behind
that gray dress and veil," announced the Army lieutenant.

"Then I wish we had the other boys here," muttered Jack, wistfully.

At that moment the 'phone bell rang.  It was Hal, reporting, and
inquiring whether any word had come from his chum.

"Mr. Benson is here, and I think you'll do well to get here as quickly
as you can," replied Ridder.

"Is there any word--" began Hal Hastings.

Ting-ling-ling!  The 'phone bell rang, cutting off Hal.  The latter had
received his orders, and his next concern was to obey them.  That was
lesson number one in brisk Army discipline.

Hal was on hand in five minutes.  While Jack was recounting to him the
adventure with Millard, Eph Somers came in.  He stood in the background,
listening, his jaw gradually dropping until his mouth was wide open.

"You heard how Benson ran into the fellow?" asked Lieutenant Ridder,
turning to Somers.

"Yes," muttered Eph, disgustedly, "and I guess I have been enjoying
the fool's part of the adventure!"

"How so?" demanded the Army officer quickly.

"I met that same woman, I'll bet a cookie," growled Eph,
"and--and--I--"

"Well, sir?" demanded Lieutenant Ridder, briskly.

"I carried that bag for _her_--carried it nearly two blocks!"

"What's that?" cried Jack Benson, leaping up.  "How--"

"No; I don't believe, on second thought, that I'm the prize fool."

"Come, come," directed Lieutenant Ridder.  "Talk up quickly, young man."

"If you want to hear what I have to say," retorted Eph, with a slight
flash of his eyes, "you'll have to wait until I get around to it."

It was serving direct notice on Ridder that Army briskness wouldn't do
in Eph's case.

"Well, what have you to tell?" demanded the young lieutenant,
impatiently.

"I was on my way back here," Eph continued.  "Guess, maybe, I was eight
blocks or so away from here.  I had been to the hotels that I agreed to
visit, and--"

"Why did you go to the hotel, anyway, after you knew Benson had sighted
Millard?" broke in the Army officer.

"Because it wasn't a sure thing that Jack had seen Millard.  He thought
so, and so did we.  But, after we left him, the auto ran along slowly,
and we heard no row behind, so we guessed that maybe Jack had been wrong
in his guess.  At least, Hal and I figured it out that way.  So I went
to the hotels on my list, just the same, and I guess you did, didn't
you, Hal?"

"Yes," nodded Hastings.

"This isn't bringing us, very fast, to your latest adventure," complained
young Ridder.

"It's your fault, then," continued Eph, placidly.  "You asked a question,
and I answered it."

"Well, what about meeting the woman in a gray dress and veil?"

"I met her," retorted Eph.

"Could you see through the veil?"

"No."

"Then how do you know it was Millard?"

"I don't know," Eph rejoined.  "But there are mighty few women as tall
as Millard.  Besides, this one had rather a long foot, and wore rubbers.
I noticed that.  Huh!  This makes me feel like thirty tacks!"

"How did you meet her--or him?" asked Ridder.

"I was crossing a street, maybe eight blocks from here," Eph replied,
"and I saw that tall woman, in gray, slip on the crossing.  There was
a street car coming, and she gave a little yell.  I got to 'her' just
in time to pull 'her' out of the way of the trolley and to set 'her'
on 'her' feet again.  Then I picked up 'her' dress suit case.  It
struck me that the one I supposed to be a woman was on the point of
speaking to me when he--she--seemed to see my uniform and then get a
look at my face.  Then the party, whether it was he or she, made signs
to show that he, or she, was deaf and dumb.  The suit case was heavy,
so I offered to tote it along, as I was headed the same way.  I thought
it was the least I could do for a woman who had just had a great shock.
If that was Millard--and I'd bet a torpedo boat it was--how he must
have chuckled over the idea of having one of the submarine boys carry
his bag for him."

"How far did you go with this 'lady'?" asked the Lieutenant Ridder, with
a faint touch of sarcasm.

"Two blocks," replied Eph.

"And you left her--"

"At a cheap hotel where I can find her again.  And I guess it's up to
us to start right away."

"Yes," nodded Jack.  "And we can't start too soon."

It may have occurred to Lieutenant Ridder that he wasn't exactly being
consulted.  However, he saw that these submarine boys were used to
acting swiftly, and he began to believe that they would work better
if left to their own devices.  So he merely nodded, adding:

"I'll wait here.  I'll hope to have a report before long."

Eph led his two comrades back unerringly to the cheap hotel.  They went
straight to the hotel desk, Jack asking, bluntly, whether any very
tall woman, in gray, and carrying a dress suit ease, had registered
there.

"No," replied the clerk, very positively.

Then they interviewed the porter.  He remembered the "woman" having
stepped inside the hotel.  She readjusted her veil in the lobby near
the doorway.

"Then she went outside, spoke to a driver, got into his cab, and went
away," continued the porter.

"She spoke to the driver, did she?" Eph asked.

"Of course, sir," retorted the porter.  "You didn't think she made signs,
did you?"

From their talk the submarine boys were satisfied that it was the same
"woman" whom Eph had so gallantly assisted.  They were equally sure
that this veiled "woman" in gray was none other than Millard.

"Do you remember which driver it was whose cab she engaged?" Jack asked,
turning to hand the porter a dollar.

"Jack Medway's cab, sir," was the quick answer.  "And here it comes,
now."

The submarine boys hurried out, transferring their attention to Medway.

"I'm just back from taking the lady," replied the driver, after Jack
Benson had slipped him, also, a dollar bill.  "But say--was it a lady,
or a joke?"

"Why?" queried Jack Benson.

"Well," replied the driver, "the voice was pitched high, but there was
something peculiar about it.  I wondered, at the time, if it was a man
rigged and togged out like a woman."

"Where did she tell you to take her," Jack Benson wanted to know.

"To Furnam Square!"

"Did you take her to any address there?"

"No; just to the square.  Then I waited to fill my pipe, and I saw the
woman, if woman it was, walk across the square and get into another cab."

"If you haven't anything else to do," hinted Jack, "suppose you take us
to Furnam Square now."

Within a very few minutes the three friends were gazing out of a cab
window upon the square.  It looked like a very quiet residence section.

"There was another cab here, you say, that took your last 'fare' from
this square?" asked Jack.

"Yes; there is a fellow who has a regular stand here.  It's his cab,"
replied Medway.

"Let us know, then, when that particular driver gets back here," begged
Jack.  "We'll sit here in your rig and wait."

Medway grinned.  Waiting, as well as driving, meant money for him.

Fully an hour and a half dragged by.  Jack was beginning to wonder if
it would not be better to give up this present clue to the chase, when
Medway, leaning down from his box, called quietly.

"That's the other fellow and his rig, coming back into the square now."

"As soon as he stops," directed Benson, "drive us over alongside.  Don't
say anything to him.  Let me do the talking."

In a moment more Jack was out on the sidewalk, talking earnestly with
the driver just returned.

"You've had a long trip of it," guessed Jack, noting the warm condition
of the horses.

"You bet," nodded the other driver.

"Just got back from taking the tall woman in gray somewhere."

"Yep.  But do you call it 'somewhere'?  I'd call it most anywhere."

"How far was it?" asked Jack.

"What do you want to know for?" demanded the Jehu, looking with sudden
sharpness at his questioner.

"Because we'd like to go to the same place that you took the woman,"
returned Benson, promptly.

"Huh!  I took her for three dollars.  I wouldn't go over that trip
again for less'n five."

"We'll pay the five, and be glad to," proposed Jack Benson, displaying
some money.  "More than that, if you play right fair with us, we'll put
another five on top of the first, just as a little present to your
horses."

"You'd better use the young gentlemen right, Jim," advised Medway.
"They're good fellows, and they pay well."

"Why do you want to go where I took that last party?" questioned Jim,
with a shrewd look.

"One of the things that the second five-dollar note pays you for is
asking no questions," retorted Jack.  "Do you want to take up our
offer?"

"Yes; if you'll give me fifteen minutes to rest and water the horses,"
agreed Jim.

"That'll be all right," nodded Jack.  "And now, Medway, have we paid
you enough?"

"Plenty," cheerfully responded the first driver, taking the hint and
leaving.

"Where did you take that woman?" questioned Jack, while the new driver
got out a bucket for watering his horses.

"Away down by the sea-coast.  Know where the Cobtown fishing shanties
are?"

"No."

"Well, Cobtown is made up of three or four little villages of rickety
old houses.  Some are occupied by fishermen, and some ain't.  There's
three or four coves down that way fishing craft anchor in.  It's a
lonely, wild bit of country, and some rough characters 'mong them
fishermen."

"Did you take your fare to any particular house or shanty down at
Cobtown?"

"Nope; she got out on the road, in sight o' Cobtown, an' walked along,
toting her old grip."

"What kind of a 'grip' was it?"

"An old brownish suit case."

"That's the one," nodded Eph.

As the driver busied himself over his team, the submarine boys drew
aside to talk over their new information.

"I reckon we're going to be too late," grumbled Captain Jack.

"What makes you think so?" Hal inquired.

"Fishing villages, smacks and fishermen," answered Jack, gloomily.
"Fishermen are a daring, reckless lot of fellows.  They'd take a craft
anywhere, in any kind of weather, for money enough.  Fellows, I'm
afraid Millard has hired a smack and started up or down the coast."

"Then we've got a craft that can chase any smack on the Atlantic
coast," declared.  Eph, stoutly.

"Of course; if we knew which craft to overhaul, and had the authority
to do it."

"Authority?  Then what's the matter with the people at the Fort?"
demanded Eph.

"Their authority runs only on the land.  Besides, by the time we got
through the red tape, and got started, any smart smack, in a good wind,
would be forty miles the other side of the horizon."

"Are you going to take this long drive, then?" asked Hal Hastings,
rather dubiously.

"Yes," declared Jack Benson, promptly.  "Hal, old fellow, any trail is
best where it's freshest."

"I reckon you can git in, now, gents, if ye want," called the driver.

Seated in the cab the submarine boys set out to meet whatever might
be before them in Cobtown.  Had they possessed the gift of prophecy--

However, none of us possess that!




CHAPTER IX

JACK PLAYS WITH A VOLCANO


After something more than an hour's drive the Jehu pulled his horses up,
got down from the box and opened one of the doors.

"Here you are, young gents.  This is the spot where I put the last fare
down.  An' now you know as much about her whereabouts as I do."

The district into which the submarine boys had come was well outside of
the city, and in a different direction from Craven's Bay and the Fort.

It was bleak and wild here.  Even the shanties of the three little
villages, with their fish-sheds, their racks with nets spread, the
rickety wharves--all looked dismal.  It seemed as though here must be
one of the spots where only a scanty living is earned and only by the
hardest kind of work.

"Well, we're much obliged to you, driver, and here's the money promised
to you."

"Obliged to you, gents.  Will you want to be going back with me?"

"No," Captain Jack answered.  "I reckon we're going to be moored here
for a while."

"Now, whereaway?  What's the course?" demanded Eph Somers.

Benson glanced at his watch, then up at the sun.

"It'll be dark in about an hour and half," he muttered.  "Why not wait
until dark?  We can't have been seen from any of the villages yet.
Looking out over the water you don't see a craft of any sort headed
away from here.  From this point, looking down, we can see if any of the
boats in port get ready to put out.  So Millard, if he hasn't already
escaped, can't get away by sea without our knowing it.  If he tries to
get away by land, we're right where we can see him coming."

"Then you think we'd better wait here, keeping out of sight, until
dark?" asked Hal.

"Most decidedly.  Don't you?"

"Yes," nodded Hal.

"But it'll be a mighty tedious wait," growled Eph, the impatient one.

"Well, youngster, we're not here to consult our own comfort," retorted
Captain Jack.  "There's something higher to consult--the best interests
of our country."

"Oh, if you put it that way!" grumbled Eph, much mollified.

The submarine boys had stepped into a little hollow, just off the road,
and barely below a rise in the ground.  There were trees and bushes
about to aid them in concealing themselves.  If they saw anyone coming
their way they could easily find better hiding.

No one came, however.  Dark found the boys desperately hungry.

"Of course we didn't think to bring anything to eat," uttered Eph,
disgustedly.  "What are we going to do about it?"

"We've got to each of us take a village, presently, enter it and search,"
replied Captain Jack.  "With only one of us to each village, it will be
tough luck if each one can't find some one who has enough food to sell
a little of it."

"How soon are we going to start?" asked Eph, hopefully.

"Well, supper time will be the best time to go through the villages,"
decided the young submarine skipper "If Millard has taken refuge with
anyone who lives in one of these villages, he'll be more likely to show
himself at supper time than at any other."

"It won't take long to look into each of the houses," muttered Hal.
"There aren't many in any one of the villages."

"If we don't espy our man at table," Captain Jack went on, "we'll have
to try other means of finding him out.  You two will know what to do
when you're on the ground.  If Millard is anywhere in the village that
you go to look through, don't fail to find him--that's all."

Jack chose, for himself, the northernmost village.  Hal took the next
one, and Eph the southernmost.

"Now, remember, fellows," breathed Benson, sharply, as they parted,
"the one great thing is not to fail!"

The night was dark and the sky overcast as the submarine boys parted to
go their several ways.

"I think I can understand how Eph feels about his stomach," grimaced
Jack, as he strode along.  "I don't believe I'd balk, just now, at the
plainest food ever cooked.  Why, I haven't eaten since this morning!"

The evening being rather warm, most of the houses, as Jack neared the
village, proved to have open windows.  Lights shone, and the fishermen
and their families could be seen at table.

No one appeared in the street, at first.  Jack strolled down the
principal street, looking into each house without much difficulty.  Yet
the one face that he sought was not visible.

Down at the further end of the street Benson came upon a
tumble-down-looking grocery store.

"What kind of sandwiches can you put me up?" queried the submarine
boy, casually.

"Stranger, eh?" asked the man behind the counter, staring curiously.

"Yes; haven't you had any other strangers here lately?"

"Not as I knows on," replied the man, a shaggy, unkempt-looking fellow
of forty.

"None here to-day, eh?" asked Jack, taking out a half-dollar and toying
with it on the counter.

"Don't remember anybody very special," replied the storekeeper.

"You haven't answered me about the kinds of sandwiches you can put up,"
Jack reminded him.

"Not very fancy in that line, young feller.  Cheese, or sardines;
that's all."

"Give me three of each, then," begged Jack.  He seized the first sandwich
that was prepared and began to eat it.

"Hungry, eh!" asked the storekeeper.

"Yes," Jack admitted; "for want of anything better to do."

"Foller the sea, don't ye?"

"Depends," muttered Jack, his mouth half full of sandwich.  "When I'm
going before a brisk fair wind, sometimes the sea follows me."

"'Spose so," grinned the storekeeper, passing over the second sandwich.
After that, the fellow got in slightly ahead of the submarine boy's
appetite, though Benson finished the whole meal in a few minutes.

"Now, if you've got a bottle of soda water, to wash that all down with,"
hinted Benson.  It was forthcoming, also a smoky-looking glass.

"So you haven't had any strangers here lately," hinted Captain Jack.

"Nope."

"Any craft been fitting out to sail to-night or first thing in the
morning?"

"Nope."

"Gracious, but this is a dead place," laughed Jack.  "Must be a lot of
shacks for rent around here?"

"There was one place," stated the storekeeper, "but a dude feller hired
it last week.  Said some sort o' fishing club'd be down this way to
fish, once in a while.  That kinder minds me," went on the storekeeper.
"I guess maybe some o' that crowd are down, 'cause I saw a light up
there at the house, jest come dark."

"If there's a fishing club down here, that ought to make business good
for you," suggested Captain Jack.

"Dunno.  They can start tradin' as soon as they like.  I'm ready."

"Which house has the fishing club hired?" was Jack's next question.

"Why, I guess you can make it out from the door," replied the
storekeeper, coming out from behind the counter and going to the front
of his establishment.  "There, if yer eyes are good, you can jest make
out a building over there on the point.  See it?  Well, there's a little
boat wharf in front that ye can't see until you get closer."

Jack had found out just what he wanted to know.  He had the very
information for which he had been fishing, nor did he believe the
storekeeper suspected him of undue curiosity.

"Well, I've got to be moving along, now I'm fed," announced young Benson.
"The yacht I belong to is some distance from here.  Good night!"

Nor did Captain Jack linger in the village.  Had anyone stood still in
that street and stared after Benson, he would have seen the boy vanish
in the darkness.

Captain Jack, however, had not disappeared from the scene.  He was
merely shifting to the part of it that interested him most.  Cautiously
he stole out along the further side of a ridge of land, toward the
rickety old house on the point.

"Not a sign of a light, now," breathed the submarine boy.  "If Millard
was really there, I hope he hasn't had time to get away for good."

All was silent and dark about the old house, as Captain Jack stole
closer.  At nearer range he made the circuit of the house, only to
find every window shuttered, and the place as dismal as the grave.

"I'm afraid the game has escaped," muttered Benson, with a sinking
feeling at his heart.  "Yet he didn't escape, by sea or land, while we
were watching outside the village.  And it was just at dark that the
storekeeper saw a light here.  I wonder if it would be easy to--"

Right there Jack Benson's train of thought broke off.  From the opposite
side of the house came a sound exactly like that of the opening and
closing of a door.

"Can that be our man coming out?" wondered Skipper Jack.

He started cautiously around the house, but soon drew back around the
corner of the building.  Dropping to the ground, and lying flat, the
submarine boy allowed only the top of his head to show as he peeped.

Glory!  Jack knew, well enough, that tall figure striding off into the
gloom.  It was Millard, and under his left arm the fellow carried a
large package that might be a bulky portfolio well wrapped.

"He has his drawings--his maps of American fortifications and fortified
harbors--the very stuff that we want to get!" throbbed the boy.  "And
now--we're going to get them!"

Keeping Millard's receding figure zealously in sight, Jack, crouching
low, started after the long-legged one as soon as the distance between
seemed sufficient to keep Millard from guessing at pursuit.

"Oh, how I wish Hal and Eph were here!" muttered Captain Jack, in keen
disappointment.

"I need help on this!"

Within two minutes Millard had struck into a well-beaten path that led
northward over succeeding ridges of laud.  In a way, it was easier
following here, for there were occasional trees and clumps of bushes
behind which the young shadow could drop at need.

Two minutes in this path, and Jack Benson's heart gave another quick
leap.  Some one else was coming stealthily behind him.  Jack dodged
around a clump of bushes and waited.

"Hal!" breathed Jack, almost wild with joy, as the two chums clasped
hands fervently for one brief instant.  Then:

"See here, Hal, I've got to dart forward again, or Millard will be out
of sight.  But I'll tell you what--while I trail Millard, you concern
yourself only with following me."

"Good enough," whispered Hastings, nodding.  "Now, you start again!"

For just an instant Millard had disappeared.  However, by moving forward
quickly, Benson was soon able to make out the quarry through the
darkness.

For some five minutes more the chase continued.  Then, his long body
rather sharply defined against the sky, Millard began the ascent of a
low hill that ended in a cliff overlooking the broad ocean.

As Millard's course forward could end only in the sea, Jack now crouched
low, stealing along a parallel course behind a low ridge of rock.

Then Millard suddenly stepped into a clump of tall bushes.  Though his
game was now out of sight, Jack did not lose his nerve, for he could
hear the fellow.

Spink!  spank!  clank!  The noise came from a shovel, vigorously used.

"Not a hard one to guess," throbbed Captain Jack Benson, exultantly.
"He has brought his maps and his stolen records with him, and is
burying them in this lonely spot until some other time when he'll feel
safe about coming back for them.  Talk about luck!  Why, Hal and I can
pounce on this fellow, when he comes out over yonder, and, after we get
him, we can next dig up whatever it is that this foreign agent thinks
is worth burying!"

Then, with a shade of curiosity, Benson added to himself:

"I don't know, yet, how it happened that Hal was on my trail.  There
wasn't time for him to tell me."

Clank!  clank!  But after a while the noise of the shovel ceased for a
while.  Captain Jack craned his neck eagerly, trying to pierce the
darkness of the night.  He could make out nothing, though he heard
some one still moving inside the clump of bushes.

Then again the noise of the shovel on the dirt was heard.

"He's filling in, now, beyond a doubt," thought Captain Jack.  "He is
burying--what?  The maps and records?  Hiding them here that he may
dig them up at some later date?"

Benson chuckled noiselessly.

"If that's Millard's game I reckon some one else will do some digging
over yonder before he pays this place a second visit!"

Ah, the noise had stopped, at last.  Now, Millard came out of the
thicket.

"He hasn't that bundle he brought up here!" throbbed Jack Benson.  "And
he isn't bringing a shovel out, either, so it must be hidden right handy.
Great!"

Mr. Millard could depart, now, if he wanted.  Jack trusted to his chum,
prowling somewhere about, to have the good judgment to follow the
long-legged fellow away.  As for Benson, he didn't mean to do another
thing until he had found the shovel, and had determined just what had
been so carefully buried on this dark night!

So Jack watched, rather indifferently, as Millard slunk off into the
darkness.  After three minutes or so had passed, Jack rose and ran
straight for the thicket.

There it was--new ground, that had just been turned over with a shovel.
There was no mound, but the fresh earth showed just where to dig.

"Oh, this is as easy as making change for a blind man!" chuckled the
young submarine skipper, rubbing his hands ecstatically.

What about the shovel?  Jack turned to feel around in the darkness.
Really, Millard couldn't be such a very clever fellow!  Jack had no
difficulty in finding the shovel.  Its handle was sticking out from
under a mass of dead brush.

Jack Benson drew out the implement, brandishing it.

"Hal had the good sense to shadow that chap away," decided the young
skipper.  "Otherwise, he'd have been here by this time.  Good
haul--rascal and records in the same night.  For, if Hal goes on
Millard's trail, then Millard is pretty sure to be a prisoner before
the night is over. Oh, I wish Eph would turn up."

Then Jack took a good grip on the shovel.  Clank!  spink!  spink!

Having been so recently moved, this dirt was easy to dig.

Yet, suddenly, there came a new note on the night air.

"Jack, O Jack!" sounded in Hal's frantic tones.  "Quick!"

"Eh?" called Captain Benson. "What's the row?  Come here and see what I
can show you!"

"No!  You come here--quick!"

"That's queer," pondered Jack Benson, leaning on his shovel, trying to
understand what it could all mean.

Then he heard, even at the distance, the sound of Hal Hastings panting,
as though engaged in hard physical effort.

Again rose Hastings's frantic voice, though somewhat muffled in its
sound.

"If you don't hustle, it will be too late!"

Jack dropped the shovel on the ground, wheeled, and ran down the slope
to where Hal's voice sounded.

"I'm coming, old fellow!" quivered the submarine skipper, starting to
run.

Boom!  A terrific explosion shook the ground.  The air seemed full of
flying fragments of rock.




CHAPTER X

"MR. GRAY" MAKES NEW TROUBLE


Had Jack Benson started down the slope two or three seconds later he
must have been killed.

As it was, the fearful force of concussion sent him sprawling headlong
on the ground.

A shower of small fragments of rock and of loose dirt fell about him.

Yet Jack was up again, like a flash, never stopping to inquire whether
he had been hurt.

"O-oh!" came the groan, from Hal Hastings.

"There, in a second!" panted Captain Jack, beginning to run again.

A blow sounded, then a fall.

Captain Jack raced into a little, bush-lined hollow, just in time to
see Millard leap up and take to his heels.

Hal Hastings lay on the ground, as though badly hurt.

"Oh, you would, would you?" raged Captain Jack Benson, making a swift
spurt after Millard.

He caught the long-legged one, too, by the back of the fellow's coat
collar.

Yank!  Millard was pulled over backward.  Down he went, Benson piling
a-top of him.

"Down!" cried Skipper Jack, exultantly.  He found, however, that Millard
possessed strength enough to put up a stiff fight.

"Come on, Hal--if you can!" called Jack Benson, sharply.

"Can't--just yet," came, in muffled tones, from the usually prompt Hal
Hastings.

"Let go, you young hound!" ordered Millard, striking out savagely.

Jack hung desperately.  Yet the trouble was that the young submarine
skipper had tackled a man who was at least fifty per cent. stronger
and fully as agile.

While Hal still hung back, Millard gave a heave, then rolled himself
over on top of Jack Benson.

"I'll give you just a short lesson!" snarled the long-legged one.

He raised a fist, intent on bringing it down like a sledge-hammer
across Benson's face.

That blow, however, wasn't the one that landed.  Biff! whack!  Two
sturdy, hard fists registered on Millard's head from behind.  Then a
boy shot himself forward, battering-ram fashion, hurling Millard over
to the ground. The boy went with the fellow, landing on top of him.

And that boy was Eph Somers!

"Come on, Jack, if you want some of this!" offered Eph, generously.

Truth to tell, there was need of both the submarine boys, for Millard
now fought more fiendishly than before.

Millard was a powerful fellow, when aroused, but he had pitted against
him two of the doughtiest, gamest boys to be found along the Atlantic
coast.  He was pretty well beaten up, in fact, by the time that Hal came
limply upon the scene.

"Want any help?" demanded Hal, in a still somewhat breathless voice.

"Nope!" answered Eph, sturdily.  "Not unless you want exercise."

As Somers spoke he landed another blow, this against the "wind" at
Millard's belt-line.  In the same instant Jack Benson managed to knot
his hands in the fellow's coat lapels, and to press the backs of his
hands against the wretch's throat.

"I sur--ug-g-gh!--er--render," gurgled the long-legged one, weakly.

"You'd better, unless you want to discover that we haven't yet started
in with rough handling," retorted Eph valiantly.

Young Benson eased his hold on Millard's wind-pipe.  Yet all three of
the submarine boys watched their prisoner, cat-like, for any new
outbreak.

"Now, roll over on your face, if you want us to believe you're going to
be good," ordered Jack.

Though he swore, under his breath, Millard obeyed.  Then something
flashed in the night--handcuffs that Jack had brought away from his
meeting with Lieutenant Ridder at the hotel.

Click!  The steel band snapped into place around Millard's right wrist.

"Hold on--not that!" protested the prisoner, hoarsely.

"Yes; even that!" mocked Eph, picking up a fragment of rock.  "And keep
quiet, unless you want me to batter your head in!"

It was this rough, vigorous sea-talk, backed by a belief that young
Somers would prove equal to his threat, no doubt, that made Millard
allow his left wrist to be brought over to meet the right.

"You've got those things on too tight," complained Millard, sullenly.

"No-o-o, I don't think so," retorted Captain Jack, after looking.  "We
need 'em as tight as we can have 'em, without causing pain, when we
have a fellow like you to deal with.  Now, what was that explosion?"

"Wait a second!" broke in Eph, in a low voice.  "Millard had a pal here.
It was the pal I shadowed here.  And that pal is running, now, with a
fair-sized bundle that he came here to get."

"He was running when you jumped into this business?" demanded Benson.

"Yes."

"Then the pal is too far away, by this time, for us to catch him by
running after him," decided Skipper Jack.  "Now, about that explosion!"

"This wretch had a mine planted up on the hill," explained Hal Hastings.
"I was watching, at the rear, you know, and it happened that I stopped
right close to the hollow where you found me.  Then I saw Millard drop
into that hollow, and I took a look-in.  I was just in time to see him
bending over to reach for the handle of a magneto battery.  Now, I
happened to know that magneto batteries are made for the purpose of
touching off explosives at a safe distance.  So I jumped in on him.
Just at that second I heard you, Jack, old fellow, striking with the
shovel up above there.  I had to guess fast, so the whole thing
struck me like a flash.  Millard had been digging, up there, just to
lead on anyone who might be shadowing him.  While you were bent over
the spot where he had been digging, he meant to touch off a mine that
must have been planted and laid days ago.  Millard, you rascal, if you
suspected that you were being watched, it was your idea to lead the
shadow out here, get him over that mine and touch it off!"

The prisoner's eyes flashed.

"That was your game, wasn't it?" demanded Benson, angrily.

"Find out, if you can," growled the prisoner.

"You've guessed it, Hal," nodded Jack, then shuddered.  "Had I followed
this villain out here alone, and then gone to digging, unwarned, where
I had seen him digging, my remains would have come down in four counties.
But, you mean scoundrel, you never happened to think that you'd be
trailed by three different fellows, all at different points along your
trail."

"This is where my account comes in," interposed Eph Somers.  "You
remember the village you sent me to, Jack?  Well, all I could find out
was that, a few days ago, a chap named Gray had come along and hired a
little schooner that's about twice as fast as any other sailing craft
in these parts.  He hired two fishermen to sail it for him--when he
got ready.  His crew have been wondering, since, when he'd be ready.
Since he made the deal, Gray has just been hanging around and doing
nothing."

"My informant pointed out Gray to me.  Right after that, I vanished.
But I kept an eye on Gray.  When he left the village, so did I.  The
trail led up here.  Gray went to a pile of dead brush that had been
heaped up.  He prowled under the brush, brought out a wooden box that
had been hidden there, and, from the box, took a bundle.  He started
off with it.  I figured that bundle was what we wanted.  I didn't want
to take the chance of tackling him and having him get the best of me,
so I started to follow.  Just then I heard the rumpus up here.  Maybe
I did wrong, but I figured we could get Gray again, so I hustled up
here to help."

"This wretch, Millard, and I had a pretty rough-and-tumble time of it,"
Hal broke in.  "At last, though, he gave me a blow in the wind that put
me right down and out, for a little while.  Then he got the handle of
the magneto and pumped it."

"Glad I started down the slope just when I did," nodded Skipper Jack,
dryly.  "If I hadn't--well, what's the use of talking about it?"

Forcing Millard to get upon his feet, the boys inspected, first the
magneto battery, to which was attached wire buried in the ground.
Then up the slope they went, to find a miniature crater, some ten feet
deep and at least fourteen feet across, where the mine had been
exploded.

"Say, it's hard, even yet, to understand why I wasn't killed," muttered
Jack Benson.  "But here we are, standing here, thinking about ourselves,
when that fellow, Gray, is getting away with a package that we ought to
have.  Come along, fellows!  And you, Millard, if you try to bold back
on us, you'll learn some new things in the way of discomfort!"

Thus warned, and realizing that his determined young captors were in
a savage frame of mind, the long-legged one didn't try to lag.  All
four appeared in the village in which Eph had prowled for information.
The appearance of the handcuffed prisoner stirred up a lot of curiosity.
Eph, however, showed his written authorization for taking Millard in
the name of the United States government, so no one offered the captive
any aid or sympathy.

But the submarine boys met with disturbing news.  They heard that a
little more than a half an hour before, Gray, still carrying a big
package, had embarked on his chartered schooner, and had put to sea.

"Had we better charter something and go in chase?" wondered Hal.

"What's the use?" demanded one of the fishermen.  "The 'Juanita' is
four miles or more out to sea, by this time, and the night's dark you
couldn't see her.  And there's no craft hereabouts fast enough to catch
the 'Juanita.'"

"Besides," whispered Jack, in his chum's ear, "we have no power to
overhaul a craft at sea."

So, making the best of the situation, the submarine boys hired a driver,
horse and wagon at the village, and started on their return to town.




CHAPTER XI

FACING THE SECRETARY OF THE NAVY


Jack was the first to enter Lieutenant Ridder's room at the hotel.  The
young engineer officer jumped up out of his chair, looking somewhat
angry.

"Look here, Benson," expostulated the lieutenant, "what sort of way is
this to use me?  Here I've been loafing about here for hours, and you
haven't sent or brought me word of any kind.  You--"

"We've brought you something better," smiled Jack Benson, throwing the
door further open.  "Here is Millard, himself."

Millard came in, a policeman at his side, for the submarine boys had
hailed the first policeman they met inside the city limits, and had
explained to him.

"This man is wanted as a United States prisoner, is he, sir?" inquired
the policeman.

"Yes, if his name is Millard," replied Lieutenant Ridder.

"Oh, this is Millard, all right," confirmed Jack Benson.

"Then shall I leave the fellow with you, sir?" inquired the policeman.

"Yes, of course; and thank you."

"You'll give me a receipt for the fellow, as a United States prisoner?"
hinted the policeman.

"As a United States suspect," corrected Lieutenant Ridder, going to a
table on which were writing materials.  The policeman was handed the
desired document, then withdrew.  Then Ridder went to a telephone,
calling up Major Woodruff.

"The major will be here in about ten minutes," announced Ridder, hanging
up the receiver.  "In the meantime we will do no talking in the presence
of this suspect."

It was just a little less than ten minutes later when Major Woodruff,
accompanied by a corporal and two private soldiers, entered the room.

Millard was at once taken away, under guard.

Then the boys told their stories, quickly, comprehensively.

"I'll have to get a clear wire all the way through to Washington,"
declared Major Woodruff, promptly, going to the telephone.  In a minute
more he had arranged matters, and hurried to the table to write his
despatch.  Ere the major had finished writing a messenger boy was at
the door.

"Boy, you'll find my automobile at the hotel entrance," stated Major
Woodruff.  "Give this card to my chauffeur, and he'll take you on the
jump to the telegraph office.  Then come back in the automobile, and
wait for more work."

"Do you expect anyone in Washington to get that message now, after ten
o'clock at night?" Jack asked, wonderingly.

"To-night?" repeated Major Woodruff.  "Yes, sir!  You haven't much idea,
I take it, Mr. Benson, how fast government business travels.  Within
five minutes the first part of my message will be ticking out on a
receiver in the War Department.  The Army officer in charge will get
the Secretary of War over the telephone.  Why, my answer will very
likely be here inside of twenty minutes!"

It was thirty minutes, exactly, when a messenger placed a telegram in
Major Woodruff's hands.  As soon as the messenger had gone outside,
the major read this telegram.

_"Keep prisoner Millard close confinement pending further orders.
Have communicated Secretary of Navy.  Latter official says sea chase
shall be made to catch fellow Gray on 'Juanita.' If submarine boys
will accept sea service, briefly, for Navy Department, have them come
to-night's train and report Secretary Navy at nine to-morrow morning.
Their expenses borne by government."    (Signed) "Secretary of War."_

"What does that mean, sir," cried Jack Benson, rising, "about _if_ we
will accept sea service, and reporting in the morning to the Secretary
of the Navy at Washington?"

"Why, I belong to the Army," replied Major Woodruff, hauling out his
watch, "and this is a Navy matter.  However, since one of you youngsters
knows Gray by sight, and you're all of you familiar with this business,
I imagine the Secretary of the Navy wants to put you out to sea on one
of the country's gunboats, to aid in the chase.  For any real
information, however, you'll have to apply in person to the Secretary
of the Navy himself.  Are you going to Washington?"

"Are we going--" Jack started to repeat, with mild irony, when a
knock at the door interrupted him.  Major Woodruff opened the door,
to receive another telegram.

"Washington wakes up quickly," he laughed.  "Here you are, Mr. Benson--a
despatch from our other fighting department at the Nation's capital."

Clearing his throat, Major Woodruff read:

_"Send description of schooner 'Juanita,' and of suspect, Gray, as
mentioned in your telegram Secretary War.  Are submarine boys leaving
to-night to report in morning?  Secretary of Navy."_

"Here you are, and you see you've got to make up your minds quickly,"
said the major.  "The night train south for Washington leaves in a
little more than an hour from now."

"Why, there's only one answer possible, sir," cried Captain Jack Benson,
his eyes shining.  "Of course we'll take to-night's train and report to
the Secretary of the Navy in the morning.  When it's for the Flag I
don't even have to consult my comrades, or look their way.  I know
their answer as well as I know my own."

"Good enough, young man," applauded Major Woodruff, while Lieutenant
Ridder gave Jack a hearty slap across the shoulders.  "But, to go to
the Navy Department, you'll want citizen's clothes--not your present
uniforms, which are not official.  I can send my auto to your boat, and
you can be back here in forty minutes, if you dress quickly."

"Ready for the word, 'forward,' sir," responded Captain Jack, saluting.
Hal and Eph also raised their hands to their foreheads.

It was a swift trip, with some hurried dressing on board the "Spitfire,"
but Major Woodruff landed them at the railway station ten minutes ahead
of train time.

"Good fortune, gentlemen," wished Major Woodruff, pressing the hand of
each when the train was ready.  "Don't be scared when you find
yourselves face to face with so big a man as the Secretary."

It is not to be wondered at if the minds of all were in a bit of a whirl
as they made for their berths in a sleeping-car.

"After all," muttered Jack, to himself, as he undressed in his berth,
"it's strange how some fellows get the cream of things.  Here we get
the trip to Washington, while Lieutenant Ridder will have only the fun
of going out to the cliff above Cobtown to-morrow to have a look at
what is left of Millard's mine."

Their train brought the submarine boys into Washington just before seven
in the morning.  There was time for a good breakfast.  Then, being
strangers at the national capital, the youngsters engaged a cab to take
them to the imposing building that shelters the State, War and Navy
Departments.

Jack Benson sent in his card.  Five minutes later the three submarine
boys were ushered into the presence of the Secretary of the Navy.




CHAPTER XII

NAVY OFFICERS FOR AN HOUR OR A DAY


"So you're really the three famous submarine boys?" inquired Secretary
Sanders, rising from his chair and extending his hand.

"We're submarine boys; that's all I ever heard about it, Mr. Secretary,"
replied Captain Jack, as he introduced his friends.

"Now, be seated, young gentlemen, and tell me all you know about this
matter that has brought you over to Washington."

Jack Benson acted as spokesman, telling the whole tale clearly, yet
using up no more time in talk than was absolutely necessary.  It was a
good, concise, business statement.

"Now, of course," pursued Mr. Sanders, "you wonder what the Navy
Department wants you to do.  Well, in the first place, we've been
asking, by wireless, through the night and early morning, to have all
craft on the lookout for a schooner answering to the description of the
'Juanita'."

Secretary Sanders paused, but none of the three boys asked any questions.

"You will wonder, of course, what success we've had so far, and I may
say that our success has been ample," resumed the Secretary of the Navy,
with an amused smile.  "In other words, we've been able to pick up news
of three schooners, all of which answer to the general description of
the 'Juanita'--but it happens that that isn't the name of any one of
the three."

Jack Benson nodded, but did not speak.

"Of course," pursued the Secretary, "it may be that the skipper of the
'Juanita' has tried an old trick, through the night.  He may have set
a man to painting another name at the schooner's stern."

Again Skipper Jack nodded.

"The schooner that we think most likely to be the 'Juanita' is about
fifty miles out at sea, now, according to a report received twenty
minutes ago.  Evidently she is headed for one of the British West
Indies.  Now, if the wind continues the same, and the suspected vessel
keeps to her present course, she will, at five this afternoon, be off
the Norfolk Navy Yard, and some sixty-two miles out at sea.  Now,
unless we are otherwise advised, we want a gunboat, the 'Sudbury,' now
at Norfolk, to overhaul the suspected schooner and ascertain whether she
is really the 'Juanita,' and whether the man, Gray, and his bundle of
documents are still on board.  The suspected vessel is to be searched,
and Gray and the documents, if found, are to be seized, and the schooner
then released.  Do you understand?"

"Perfectly, sir." Jack answered quietly.

"One of you young men will know Gray at a glance.  The other two are
familiar with the whole case.  Otherwise, it would not have been
necessary to have called you into this matter.  Yet, to overhaul a
vessel, or to make an arrest or a seizure, you require authority.  Such
authority can be vested only in naval officers.  Hence, for the present,
it will be necessary to give all three of you appointments as officers
in the United States Navy."

At this announcement Jack Benson lost, for the moment, some of his
cool composure.

"Officers of the Navy, sir!" he gasped, but his eyes glowed at the mere
thought.

"You will be officers only temporarily," returned the Secretary.  "You
are not of age, any of you, I take it."

"We are all just about the same age, sir--seventeen, nearly eighteen,"
Jack replied.

"Just so.  Now, none of you could legally bold officers' commissions,
except by a special act of Congress.  However, with the approval of the
President, it is legal for me to give you special, temporary appointments
under which you have the title, rank, pay and command of officers.  These
appointments I am going to give and, for a brief while, though you will
not have commissions, you will nevertheless be as actually officers of
the Navy as are any admirals on the list."

This astonishing statement almost took away the breath of the submarine
boys.

"You are familiar with navigation, Benson, and are a capable enough
sea-pilot along this coast.  I learned that much, early this morning,
through Mr. Farnum's answer to my telegram."

"Then Mr. Farnum knows what we are going to do?" asked Jack, quickly.

"He doesn't," replied Secretary Sanders, with a shake of his head.
"Mr. Farnum knows, only, that you have a chance to be of some service
to the Navy.  He seemed to be much pleased by our inquiry."

The Secretary had just touched an electric button on his desk.  Now a
clerk entered the room.

"Telephone the secretary of the President," directed Mr. Sanders, "and
ask him whether the President has examined and approved the special
appointments that I sent over a while ago."

The clerk was quickly back, to say:

"The special appointments, Mr. Secretary, are duly approved, and are
now on their way over from the White House."

Two minutes later, a messenger entered, handing a sealed envelope to
the Secretary of the Navy.

Breaking the seal, Mr. Sanders drew forth three heavy, folded sheets
of parchment.

"Here you are, Mr. Benson," resumed the Secretary, handing over one of
the parchments.  "This document confers upon you, for the time being,
the rank, pay and command of a lieutenant, junior grade, in the
United States Navy.  You, Mr. Hastings, and you, Mr. Somers, will rank
as ensigns under your special appointments."

Jack's head swam a bit as he thanked Mr. Sanders; then he started to
glance over this marvelous document.

But the Secretary of the Navy now cut in, briskly:

"That is all, gentlemen.  You know your instructions, in general,
Lieutenant Benson.  You will now go to my chief clerk, who will swear
you into the service.  He will also give you an order on a local tailor
for the uniforms of your ranks.  In one hour and twenty minutes your
train starts south.  On arrival at Norfolk you will report without an
instant's delay at the Navy Yard.  Aboard the 'Sudbury' you will
receive all further instructions, wired from this Department.  Good
morning, gentlemen."

Then, indeed, things moved fast.  At the desk of the chief clerk of
the Navy Department the three budding naval officers stood with their
right hands raised while the official at the other side of the desk
administered to them the oath binding them to loyalty to the government
and to obedience to all lawful orders of their superiors.

"And now, gentlemen," continued the chief clerk, "I will send for
Ensign McGrath, who is on duty here, and present you to him.  He will
go with you to the tailor's, and will see that you are properly rushed
to the train that you are to take.  Remember, you are not to pay for
your uniforms or equipment.  The bill will be sent here."

Ensign McGrath looked sleepy, but proved to be a hustler.  One of the
Department's autos was out in the grounds, and into this McGrath
bundled the three submarine boys.  Five minutes later they were in the
tailoring establishment, where a good many ready-made uniforms were
kept for sale.

What a whirl it was.  Yet, in twenty minutes, each submarine boy found
himself in the duty uniform of a United States junior naval officer,
each uniform adorned with the insignia of the wearer's rank.  In the
meantime, dress-suit cases had been procured from a store near by.

"All right and proper," nodded Ensign McGrath.  "And--I'm not throwing
bouquets, gentlemen, but you really look as though you had been born
for the uniforms.  Now, only one thing is missing--the swords."

"Are we to wear swords?" asked Jack, his face flushing with pleasure.

"Under certain conditions, on duty, naval officers wear swords.  You
will need them as parts of your equipments."

The dealer brought these side-arms at once.  The naval sword is a
handsome one, vastly more natty than the infantry side-arm of a junior
officer.

What a thrill each submarine boy felt as he was shown how to adjust his
sword to the belt!

"They're really nonsensical jewelry in these civilized days," declared
Ensign McGrath, dryly.  "But the regulations call for swords at some
times.  Now, gentlemen, you will need to get your uniforms off as
quickly as you can, and the tailor's helpers will pack them in your suit
cases.  You travel in citizen's clothes, and don your uniforms as soon
as you get aboard the gunboat."

Ten minutes later each proud submarine boy picked up his suit case and
sword, the latter, in each instance, being inside of a chamois-skin
carrying case.

In single file they made their way to the street.

"Now, for the last leg of the race in Washington," announced Ensign
McGrath, as they entered the automobile once more.

"I wonder if it will happen on the way, or at the station?" laughed Jack,
as the government gas-wagon whirled them down Pennsylvania Avenue.

"Will what happen?" inquired McGrath.

"Why," laughed Benson again, "I know we've got to wake up out of this
trance, but I can't figure when it's going to happen."

"I suppose all of you do feel excited," nodded Ensign McGrath,
understandingly.

"Not excited," declared Jack.  "I'm just simply unprepared to believe
that any part of this has really happened."

At the railway station they were met by a messenger from the chief
clerk's office, who handed each of the submarine boys a small parcel.

"Copy of the Regulations, sir" stated the messenger.  "It is required
that each officer of the Navy possess a copy."

"You'll want to scan the book good and hard most of the way down to
Norfolk," advised Ensign McGrath.  "You'll find much between the covers
that you'll need to know right at the first jump-off.  And now, for the
tickets."

These McGrath bought, including parlor car seats.  The ensign then saw
them safely to their seats.

"Now, you've got enough to do, reading your new books," laughed the
ensign, "So I'm not going to waste your time by staying here to talk
to you.  It's ten minutes, yet, to the time of your departure.  Good-bye,
gentlemen--_and good luck!_"

When McGrath had gone Jack leaned across the aisle to whisper:

"Eph, can you get at your sword handily--to draw it, I mean?"

"What's up?" said Eph, suspiciously.

"I want you to stick about a sixteenth of an inch of the point of your
sword into me, so I can judge how long I've been dreaming."

"What's the matter with using your own sword?" demanded Eph, a trifle
gruffly.

"That's just the trouble," smiled Benson, plaintively.  "I'm afraid I'll
wake up and find I haven't any."

Hal was leaning back in his parlor car chair, his eyes closed.  He was
dreaming delicious daydreams.




CHAPTER XIII

COMMANDER OF A U.S. GUNBOAT!


"Lieutenant Benson, sir?" inquired a coxswain, saluting.

"Yes," replied Jack, returning the salute.

"The gig is waiting to take you to the 'Sudbury' sir."

This information was punctuated by another salute which Jack, as head of
the party of three young officers, again returned.

"Lead the way," directed Jack.

For the third time saluting, the coxswain possessed himself of Jack's
suit case and sword, then crossed the wharf to the landing stairs
down below, the gunboat's cutter waited, a natty little craft, occupied
by a bowman and four oarsmen.

The three young officers seated themselves at the stern of the gig.

"Cast off," directed the coxswain.  "Up oars!  Let fall!  Give way!"

With the long, steady, magnificent sweep of the Navy which the sailors
pulled, the little gig seemed to race through the water.

"Is that the 'Sudbury'?" inquired Jack, nodding toward a trim little
gunboat some two hundred feet long.

"Yes, sir."

All three of the submarine boys gazed at the gunboat with secret
enthusiasm.  Had it not been for the guns fore and aft, and at the
rail on either side, the "Sudbury" might have been mistaken for some
multi-millionaire's yacht.

In another moment the gig was making fast at the gangway.  Then Jack
Benson stepped out, and, heading his comrades, went up over the side.

At the head of the gangway a corporal and four marines stood drawn up.
At a low-voiced command from the corporal the marines presented arms,
standing thus until the three new young officers, saluting, passed.

Just beyond the marines, stood an officer of the Navy.  He brought his
hand to his cap in a smart salute.

"Lieutenant Benson?" inquired this officer.

"Yes."

"I am Ensign Fullerton, executive officer of this vessel."

They shook hands and Jack presented his comrades.

"I think I had better show you to your cabin, sir," suggested Ensign
Fullerton.

"As you please," nodded Jack.

The way was actually led, however, by three of the marines, who, at a
word from the corporal, had possessed themselves of the limited baggage
of the new arrivals.

In Jack's cabin was a broad double berth, two deep wardrobe closets, a
book-case, desk and several chairs.

"I had no idea junior officers had such roomy quarters," murmured Jack.

"They don't, usually, sir," smiled Fullerton.  "But it's different, of
course, in the case of the commanding officer."

"But I'm not the commanding officer," gasped Jack.

"For the purposes of this cruise you are," smiled Fullerton.  "But I
forget.  You haven't received your orders.  There they are on your desk.
They arrived less than an hour ago by wire."

Like one in a dream young Jack Benson picked up a bulky telegraph
envelope and broke the seal.  There, before his eyes, danced the words
of the latest order from the Secretary of the Navy.

Lieutenant Jack Benson was directed to take command of the United
States gunboat, 'Sudbury,' until further orders.  Ensigns Hastings and
Somers were directed to assume such duties aboard as were assigned to
them by Lieutenant Benson.

"I didn't expect this," stammered Jack.  "I--I--we thought our
temporary rank in the Navy was given us merely that we might have legal
standing in making one arrest that is wanted."

"No one ever does know just what is wanted of him, until the order
comes," laughed Ensign Fullerton.  "At least, that has been the case
since Mr. Sanders became Secretary of the Navy.  He keeps all officers
on the jump.  But I guess that is what a good many of them need, sir."

As the Ensign appeared to be at least twenty-five years old that
respectful "sir" struck young Benson's ear queerly.

"Pardon me, gentlemen, but be seated," suggested Lieutenant Jack,
suddenly, as he realized that his chums and this one sure-enough naval
officer were all standing.

"You have been aboard naval vessels before, sir, haven't you?" asked
Ensign Fullerton.

"Oh, yes; but never in the present way," smiled Benson.

"Then, no doubt, you understand, sir, that the 'Sudbury' is under steam,
only awaiting your order to put to sea."

"The last part of these orders," replied Jack, picking up the telegram,
"advises me that sailing orders will be wired soon."

"Then may I make a suggestion, sir?"

"Of course," nodded young Benson.

"At your direction I will have Mr. Hastings and Mr. Somers shown to
their cabins.  Then I will send for the one other young man left of
the gunboat's old equipment of officers, and present him to you.  After
that I would suggest, sir, that I have the crew piped to quarters for
brief inspection by the new commanding officer."

Hal and Eph were quickly made acquainted with their own cabins, which
were on the port side of the gun-deck, Jack's being on the starboard.

Ensign Fullerton brought in a slim, very erect young man in a
midshipman's uniform--Mr. Drake, just out of the Naval Academy.

"Our engineers are all warrant machinists or petty officers; no
commissioned officers among them," stated Fullerton.  "Our highest
marine officer is Sergeant Oswald.  Besides the sergeant we have
eighteen other enlisted men among the marines.  Here is the ship's
complete roster," continued the Ensign, taking a document out of a
pigeon-hole over the young commander's desk.  "And now, sir, shall I
pass the order for piping the crew to quarters?"

"If you will be so good," Jack nodded, rising.

At this moment Hal and Eph appeared at the doorway.

"Pardon me, gentlemen, for suggesting that you had better put your
swords on," suggested Fullerton, "Inspection of crew at quarters is
about to come off."

Hal and Eph vanished, but soon reappeared, wearing their new swords
and trying hard not to look conscious of the fact.  Jack was engaged
in adjusting his own side-arm to his belt.

"I neglected to state, sir," continued Ensign Fullerton, "that we have
no medical officer at present.  A hospital steward down in sick bay is
our nearest approach, at present, to a medical officer."

"Forewarned is forearmed," laughed Jack.  "We'll try not to be ill."

It was time, now, to proceed to the quarterdeck; for, forward, the
shrill sound of the boatswain's whistle seemed to fill the air.

Though all the crew, including the marines, had been summoned and
formed at the mast, the inspection was but a matter of a moment.  Its
purpose was more to give the crew a glimpse of their new officers.

Just as the inspection was ending, a marine of the guard approached,
announcing in a low tone:

"Telegram for the commanding officer, sir."

Ensign Fullerton received it, returning the marine's salute, and passed
the envelope to Jack Benson, who opened it.

"Our sailing orders, Mr. Fullerton," announced Jack, as soon as the
former had dismissed the formation at the mast.  "This telegram gives,
as you see, the latest reported position of the schooner believed to be
the 'Juanita,' and her course.  You will get under way at once, Mr.
Fullerton.  Then you and I will work out the course."

"This is the starboard watch, sir," continued the executive officer.
"Which officer is to command it?"

"Mr. Hastings.  Mr. Somers will take the port watch."

"Very good, sir.  And I would suggest, sir, that Mr. Drake is an
excellent pilot between here and the sea."

"Then direct Mr. Drake to take the bridge with the watch officer."

"Very good, sir."

"And, as soon as we are under way, Mr. Fullerton, come to my cabin and
we will figure out our course more in detail."

"Very good, sir."

It was Ensign Fullerton, who, acting as executive officer, transmitted
the needed orders to Hal, Eph and Midshipman Drake.

The three young officers now removed their swords, sending them by a
marine orderly to their respective cabins.  Hal took command from the
bridge, subject to Fullerton's directions, while Jack, as commanding
officer, also took his station there briefly.  Eph, being free to do as
he pleased for the time, went to his cabin to try to figure out
whether he were dreaming.

Quickly the "Sudbury" left her anchorage, proceeding downstream.  As soon
as the start had been fairly made Ensign Fullerton reported at the
cabin of the young commanding officer.  They worked out on the chart the
probable positions that the suspected schooner would take that afternoon.

"We should sight her at about five o'clock, sir, if she doesn't change
her course, and if the wind holds the same," said Ensign Fullerton.

"If we get the right craft, first off, it will be a short cruise, won't
it?" smiled Jack, rather wistfully.

"I--I--" began Ensign Fullerton, slowly, then paused.

"Well?" smiled Jack Benson.

"On second thought, I believe I had better not say what I started to
say," replied the ensign.

"Oh, go ahead, Fullerton," urged Jack.  "It isn't easy to wound my
sensibilities."

"I was going to say, sir," replied the Ensign, flushing a bit, "that I
quite understand how you feel about a short cruise.  The sensation of
holding a command in the United States Navy is one that you would not
care to give up too soon."

"I was thinking of something of the sort," Benson admitted.  "But--see
here!  On one point my orders don't quite enlighten me.  If the suspected
schooner proves not to be the right are we to come back to report the
fact?"

"If you were so to order," replied Fullerton.  "Yet you do not need to.
This vessel is equipped with wireless, and you are in instant
communication, at every moment of the day and night, with the Navy
Department at Washington."

"I'm glad of that," admitted Lieutenant Benson, frankly.  "It will
lessen the danger of my making a fool of myself during my first and last
naval command."

"Not your last command, I hope," remarked the ensign.

"The only way I could get a permanent command," retorted Jack, "would
be to get appointed to Annapolis, if I could, and then work through the
long, long years for command rank."

"There are other ways," replied Ensign Fullerton, quietly.  "And
especially, if a war should break out.  Young men trained as finely as
you and your comrades, and showing as great talent, sir, would have no
difficulty in reaching important rank in a war of the future, when so
much must be risked on the submarine craft of which you young men are
masters."

"We have run a few submarine boats, I suppose," nodded Benson.  "But none
of us has ever had the Annapolis training."

"Not all of the best American sea-fighters have come out of Annapolis,
sir," replied Fullerton, soberly.  "If a boy gets through Annapolis
there's nothing wonderful in his making a fairly good officer.  But
my cap, sir, is off to boys who can come through the ordinary machine
shop and qualify themselves to command submarine boats or anything else
afloat!"

Then, dropping back to his ordinary manner, Fullerton saluted, next
left the cabin to carry to the watch officer the orders for the course.

Lieutenant Jack Benson, briefly of the U.S. Navy, strolled out to the
after deck for a short promenade.  Here he was joined by Eph Somers, who,
in his naval uniform, did not forget to salute before accosting the
commanding officer of the U.S.S. "Sudbury."

"I'm really beginning to feel that I'm not dreaming," confided Eph,
almost in a whisper.  "Whee!  but it's fine to be out on a craft so big
that you don't get a cramp in your leg from walking!  Say, do you know,
Jack," he whispered, "I am almost crazy to see one of this ship's big
guns fired!"

"You may have your wish," laughed Jack.  "Who knows?"

Who knew, indeed?

How was it possible, for that matter, for any of these three young
officers to guess what lay ahead of them?




CHAPTER XIV

THE BOW GUN BOOMS AND EPH PUTS OFF


In the nineteenth century, when a vessel left port, her destination
unknown, that craft might get away from a pursuing squadron scattered
over the seas.

At best, knowledge of a marine fugitive's whereabouts could be gained
only from the masters of other vessels that had sighted the fugitive.
Usually, such information must be delayed until the informing master of
the sighting ship reached port.

In the twentieth century all is greatly changed.

A vessel bound for parts unknown, carrying some fugitive from justice,
is sighted by some steamship that is equipped with a wireless telegraph
outfit.  Hours before, perhaps, the master of the steamship has been
asked to keep a weather-eye open for a vessel that answers the name or
description of the runaway craft.  Now, she is sighted by the master of
the steamship.  Ten minutes later the authorities on shore know the
exact whereabouts of the fleeing craft.  Should she change her course
wholly, her new whereabouts is soon after reported to land by the
master of some other wireless equipped steamship.

Once upon a time the task of finding and overtaking a runaway vessel
at sea presented innumerable difficulties.  Nowadays, it is often
necessary only that the pursuing craft possess sufficiently greater
speed to overtake the easily located fugitive.

As the "Sudbury" turned out into the open sea that little gunboat was
in instant communication with Washington, and also with any wireless
equipped ocean traveler up to nearly half way across the great Atlantic.

At three o'clock the Navy Department at Washington reported to a gunboat
out of sight of land that the last sighting of the supposed "Juanita"
placed her on the same course as hitherto reported.

At four o'clock came word that the Navy Department had had no new report
as to the schooner by wireless.

At five o'clock another wireless despatch was flashed through the air.
Lieutenant Jack Benson, reading, discovered that the "Juanita" had
again been sighted on the same course, headed for some port in the
British West Indies.

At 5:20 Ensign Eph Somers, port watch officer of the "Sudbury," sent a
marine orderly to report to Lieutenant Benson that a schooner's
topmasts were within sight.

Benson hurried to the bridge, but found Ensign Fullerton there just
ahead of him.

"We'll shape our course in straight pursuit of the schooner, Mr.
Fullerton," decided Lieutenant Jack.

"Very good, sir."

As yet the schooner's topmasts were visible only from the military top.
After a few minutes had passed, however, the vessel's masts were visible
from the bridge.

"Does her rig look like that of the 'Juanita,' Mr. Somers?" questioned
young Benson.

"I can't say, sir," Eph replied.  "I didn't see her, at Cobtown, under
sail.  I shall have to wait until I can make out the hull, sir, before
I can make even a good guess."

Smoke was pouring heavily from the "Sudbury's" two funnels by this time,
for the gunboat was being pushed, under forced draught, to considerably
better than twenty knots an hour.  The schooner apparently was making
between seven and eight knots an hour.

In a few minutes more the hull of the stranger began to show.  Eph,
with a pair of marine glasses to his eyes, studied the stranger long
and carefully.  Lieutenant Benson, knowing it would be folly to hasten
his comrade's judgment, waited in silent patience.

"That craft looks very much like the 'Juanita,' sir," ventured Eph, at
last.  "In fact, sir, I think that's our schooner."

"Steer up to windward of her, then, Mr. Somers," Jack directed.  "Mr.
Fullerton, give orders to have the port bow gun manned.  When the order
is given, be prepared to fire a blank shot toward the schooner.  If,
after one minute, the schooner shows no signs of heaving to, then fire
a solid shot across her bows."

"Very good, sir."

Without leaving the bridge Ensign Fullerton passed the word for the
manning of the gun and loading with a blank cartridge.

There was a new, deeper glow in Eph Somers's eyes as he paced the
bridge.  He was to have, at last, his wish to see the "Sudbury" fire
a shot.

In a few minutes more the "Sudbury" was ranging tip alongside the
schooner, though a full quarter of a mile away to windward.

"Mr. Fullerton, fire the blank shot at the stranger," ordered Lieutenant
Jack Benson.

"Aye, aye, sir."

The order was carried by a simple wave of the executive officer's hand.
The petty officer in command behind the bow gun, looking for the signal,
saw it and gave a low-toned order.

_Bang!_ Eph was watching for it.  His eyes danced as he heard the sharp
explosion and saw the cloud of white smoke, with the tongue of fire
spitting through the center of it.  In most of us there is left some of
the spirit of the old Norse pirate; Eph had a lot of it.

"The people on the schooner act as though they were bewildered," smiled
Jack, watching the schooner through his glass.  "It doesn't look as
though they expected any such order from us.  I wonder if they mean
to obey?"

"Worse for them, if they don't," replied Ensign Fullerton, grimly.  "A
solid shot across the bows, and a shot through their rigging after that.
What schooner has any chance to defy a ship of war?"

"There they go around," cried Jack, barely above his breath, "They'll
heave to."

"Of course," smiled Fullerton.  "Your orders, sir?"

"Lower the power launch.  Send a corporal and four marines, and six
sailors, armed, beside the boat-handlers.  Mr. Somers will take command,
as he's the only one of us who knows the fellow Gray by sight."

Ensign Fullerton accordingly transmitted the orders, also ordering
Midshipman Drake up to the bridge to serve as watch officer in Eph's
absence.  Hal Hastings was asleep in his cabin at the time.

In the meantime the schooner continued "hove to," several men lining
her starboard rail.

"Somehow, Mr. Fullerton," muttered Lieutenant Jack, after Eph had
departed in the power launch with his boarding crew, "I'm not much
inclined to think that's our schooner."

"Somers seemed to think so."

"Mr. Somers said it looked like the 'Juanita.' He's too careful to
commit himself to more than that."

"We shall soon know, sir, anyway."

It is probable that Eph was disappointed that the schooner had been
stopped by anything less than a round shot through her rigging.  Yet,
as he stood up in the stern of the launch, as it bounded over the waves,
he felt a heap of satisfaction in the thought that he commanded the
searching party, and that he did so by virtue of being an officer in
the United States Navy.  And this, too, was a form of duty in which
Ensign Somers wore his sword at his side.

"I hope they're preparing a surprise for us," chuckled Eph, as he
looked about him at his armed crew.  "I hope the schooner's people
will try some mean trick for us, or attempt to put up a fight.  Whee!"

Yet none of these aggressive thoughts showed in the young Ensign's face.
Eph knew his place, usually, and the amount of dignity that went with
any place.

"Make fast alongside!" Eph sang out, as the launch rounded in alongside
the schooner.

"What's wrong with the United States Navy, Midshipman?" came the jovial
question from a bronzed, broad-shouldered, bearded man of fifty who
appeared at the quarter rail, offering Eph a hand to aid him on board.

But Eph, disdaining the proffered hand, seized the rail, vaulting neatly
on board.  Then he straightened up.

"I am Ensign Somers, from the gunboat 'Sudbury.'"

"Ensign, eh?" muttered the schooner's master, looking in some
bewilderment at Eph's boyish face.  "I beg your pardon, Mr. Somers."

"What craft is this, sir?" Eph continued.

"Schooner 'Varia,' from New York, bound for Jamaica."

"We saw 'Varia' painted on your stern, of course," smiled Eph.  "But was
that name painted there during the night?"

"Sir?" demanded the skipper, in some astonishment.  "Oh, I see, Ensign.
Your commander thinks we may be sailing under false colors.  Will you
be kind enough to step down into my cabin?"

Here an elderly man, in yachting dress, stepped forward out of a group
of sailors at the waist of the craft.

"This schooner is chartered to convey--" he began, but Eph interposed,
politely:

"Pardon me, sir, but I am talking with the captain only."

Then, turning toward the launch, Ensign Somers called:

"Corporal, board with your marines, and wait further orders."

Then Eph followed the captain below.

"The gentleman who spoke to you," explained Varia's master, "is Dr.
Herman Barnard.  He chartered the 'Varia' at New York for a West Indian
cruise for himself and his family.  Here are my papers, as master.  Here
is the 'Varia's' license to carry passengers, and here are our clearance
papers, from New York to Jamaica."

The papers were all in regular order.  Eph looked them over, noting that
the master's name was Walford.

"I don't see anything wrong here, Captain Walford," Eph continued.
"Where is your list of passengers?"

"Here, sir."

Eph glanced over the list, noting that besides Dr. Barnard, there were
five other men passengers, besides Mrs. Barnard, her two daughters and
one other woman.

"I shall have to ask you, Captain, to line your passengers up on deck,"
Eph continued.

"I had hoped to escape that annoyance, sir," protested the schooner's
master.  "The ladies were alarmed, and took to their staterooms."

"I am very sorry, Captain," Eph insisted, "but I must look over the
passengers."

"Very good, then," sighed Captain Walford.

"And muster the crew forward.  I must see on deck every person on this
craft."

"Very good, sir."

Eph returned to deck, leaning against the starboard rail of the quarter
deck.  Below, he heard some sounds of remonstrance in feminine voices.
Then, as a step sounded on the after companionway, and Eph straightened
up, he heard a woman's voice say:

"United States Navy?  I would call this a good deal more like piracy!"

"But, mamma--"

"Hush, child!"

Mrs. Barnard, when she stepped on deck, looked as severe as her husband
appeared mild.

Ensign Eph doffed his cap quickly to the ladies.

"I know this does not please you," he said, courteously, "but I will ask
you to remember that I am acting under orders, and have no choice."

"It is outrageous to stop a pleasure craft in this fashion!" declared
Mrs. Barnard, haughtily.

"Do you know why we are making this search, madam?" asked Eph, sweetly.

"Of course I don't," snapped the good lady.

"Then I marvel," replied Eph, with another bow, "that you can have an
opinion of something that you don't understand."

One of the girls was so undutiful as to snigger.  Thereupon, one of the
young men joined in the laugh, which became so general that the severe
expression on Mrs. Barnard's face softened considerably.

"Perhaps I owe you an apology, young man, for having spoken as I did of
you," admitted the good lady.

"You only called us pirates," smiled Eph.  "That wasn't much."

"Perhaps I said more than I should have said, young man," admitted Mrs.
Barnard.

"Mamma, wouldn't it be better to address this officer by his title?"
asked the elder of the girls.  Then, turning to Eph, the same speaker
inquired:

"May I ask your title?  Are you a captain?"

"Only an ensign, miss," Eph replied, "and only an acting ensign at that."

While this brief conversation had been going on, the cook, stewards and
watch below were being routed out.  Now Captain Walford came aft to
report:

"All hands on board, sir, have been turned out for your inspection."

"All?" insisted Eph.

"All, sir."

"Then, Captain Walford, I am going to do something that may appear very
extreme, but I regret to say that I can't help it.  I must search this
craft.  If I allowed one for whom we are seeking to slip through our
fingers it would bring a lot of blame down about my head."

Eph now stepped back to the rail, ordering six of the sailors on board.
To them he gave his orders.  The party spread, going below.  Eph,
excusing himself to the ladies, went with the sailors.

No more thorough search could have been made.  Every nook and cranny of
the schooner was searched, but at last Eph was obliged to admit that
the man he sought was not aboard.

"My apologies to everyone for all trouble caused," declared Ensign
Somers.  "I trust you will find it easy to believe that I have only been
following my orders; and, therefore, doing my duty."

"You couldn't have done less, Ensign," replied Dr. Barnard, courteously.
"You couldn't have been more courteous."

"Are we at liberty to proceed on our way, sir?" asked Captain Walford,
as the young acting ensign went over the side.

"I shall have to ask you to take the signal for that from the 'Sudbury,'"
Eph answered.

On the gunboat's quarter deck, following Ensign Somers's report, there
was an anxious conference.

"If this is the craft we've been following all the time," muttered
Jack Benson, "we've a lot of hunting yet ahead of us."

"Shall I signal the schooner permission to proceed, sir?" asked Ensign
Fullerton.

"By all means."

Darkness came down over the ocean while Lieutenant Jack was sending a
wireless despatch through the air to the Navy Department.




CHAPTER XV

"THE RIGHT BOAT AND THE RIGHT CREW!"


Three hours later, under a new order from Washington, the gunboat's
launch stole in alongside of a second schooner that had been pursued,
overhauled and brought to a standstill.

This craft, however, proved to be a Nova Scotian vessel, with papers all
right, a cargo beyond suspicion and no sign of the fugitive Gray aboard.

When news of this second failure had been flashed to Washington, and
twenty minutes more had passed, the instructions came back out of the
ether:

"Cruise slowly about where you are.  Await new instructions, which will
go forward to you as soon as we have fresh, reliable information from
any source.  See that your own search light is freely used through the
night."

"'Puss in the Corner,' at sea," muttered Lieutenant Benson.  "And we
ain't even find a corner."

An hour later the young commander of the "Sudbury" turned in.  Hal was
on the bridge.

The gunboat cruised along lazily at about eight knots an hour.  For
some time Hal paced the bridge indolently, while the sailor lookout,
forward, manipulated the searchlight, sending its beam in wide circles
over the waters.

It was within half an hour of the time of calling the new watch, in fact,
when the bow watch reported:

"Sail dead ahead, sir!"

Barely more than a topsail could be made out, even through the marine
glass of the young watch officer.

"Hold the light on her; we'll overtake and examine her, anyway," was
Ensign Hastings's quick decision.  From the bridge he gave orders for
the engine room to go ahead with increased speed.  While the gunboat was
bounding off after the stranger, time came to call the port watch.  Eph
Somers came up to the bridge, somewhat sleepy.

"Same old story, I guess," yawned Eph.  "Have you passed the word to
the executive office?"

"Not yet," Hal replied.  "I didn't believe it worth while to break the
slumber of Mr. Fullerton, or of the commander, until we got close to
see whether the stranger looks in the least like the 'Juanita.'"

"I don't believe the 'Juanita' is anywhere on this wide ocean," muttered
Eph, stifling a yawn.

"It doesn't look that way," smiled Hastings.

Down before the wheelhouse a bell began to sound briskly.

"Eight bells; your watch, Mr. Somers," announced Hastings.  "But I am
going to remain on the bridge with you for a while.  I want a look at
that mud-hooker over yonder."

Within fifteen minutes more the gunboat was running fairly close,
though off to starboard.

"That doesn't look even a little bit like the 'Juanita,'" muttered
Ensign Eph, disgustedly.  "Why, she's longer than the Cobtown schooner.
Besides, the 'Juanita' is a two-sticker, while that hooker yonder has
a third mast with a yawl-rig leg-o'-mutton sail."

Hal said nothing, but continued to study the stranger through his
night-glass.

"She is a queer-looking hooker," muttered Hastings.  "Say, Eph, somehow
that boat doesn't look as though she was built to fit her own rig."

"Why not!" demanded Eph.

"Well, look at her length.  Then take a peep at the height of her
dory-mast.  Does it look tall enough for the length of the schooner?"

"I hadn't thought of that," admitted Somers, also taking a careful look
through the nightglass.  "Jove, Hal, she is an odd-looking piece of
hulk."

Eph turned to pass the order to run in still closer to the schooner.

"What's wrong with her stern-hull?" asked Ensign Somers, three or four
minutes later.

"Looks like a patchwork affair," declared Hal, more interested than
ever.

"Has she a built-on stern?" demanded Somers, half a minute later.

"By Jove, I half believe she has.  Eph, without that stern and the yawl
mast, would you say the craft looks like the 'Juanita'?"

"I believe she would," muttered young Somers, excitedly.  "Marine
orderly!"

A sea-soldier came quickly up the bridge stairs, saluting.

"Mr. Somers's compliments to Mr. Fullerton, and will the executive
officer come to the bridge?"

Again saluting the marine vanished aft.  It doesn't take a naval officer
long to report, even when he has to rouse himself out of a sound sleep
to do it.

Ensign Fullerton reached the bridge rubbing his eyes, but he listened
intently to what the two younger ensigns had to say.

"Marine orderly!" called the executive officer.  "Mr. Fullerton's
compliments to the commanding officer, and will he come to the bridge?"

Barely a minute later, Jack Benson stood on the bridge, listening to his
subordinate officers and staring across the gap of water at the
unknown craft.

"Mr. Fullerton," directed the young commander, "prepare to fire a signal
shot and to lower the power launch.  Make up the boarding party as usual.
Mr. Somers, you will go in command of the launch.  And I will accompany
you this time.  Mr. Fullerton, when I leave the bridge, you will assume
command."

Both officers, as they received their orders, saluted.

Bang!  The signal gun barked out, the flash from the muzzle sending a
long tongue of red through the darkness.

But the stranger continued on her way through the night.  Ensign
Fullerton regarded the young commanding officer of the gunboat
expectantly.

"Put a solid shot across her bows, Mr. Fullerton."

Again the order was transmitted, with little noise.  The gun-crew then
awaited the signal from the executive officer.

Bang!  This time the solid shot struck the water a bare fifty feet ahead
of the strange craft's bows as she forged on through the waves, her bow
stirring up a gleaming white foam.

"That ought to stop her!" muttered Lieutenant Jack Benson, impatiently.

"I don't believe it is going to, though, sir," reported Ensign Fullerton,
studying the other vessel through his night-glass.  "I don't see a sign
of motion on the stranger's decks."

"Load again with solid shot, then," directed the gunboat's young
commander.  "This time hit her square in the fore-rigging."

"I'll step below and sight the piece myself," replied Ensign Fullerton.

A few moments later the executive officer reported the port bow gun in
readiness for service.

"Fire whenever you are ready, Mr. Fullerton," called Lieutenant Jack, in
a low voice.

Bang! barked the bow gun, a moment later.  Over aboard the stranger
there was a crash, a tearing sound, and then her foretopmast toppled,
hanging loosely in place by the stays.

"That'll stop her, I reckon." chuckled Jack Benson.

And "stop her" it did.  There was no choice but to stop.  This gunboat
of the United States Navy was in a position to shoot every standing
stick out of the schooner, if provoked too far, and the legal right to
go to such lengths existed.

"Stranger is heaving to, sir," reported Ensign Somers.

"Very good, Mr. Somers.  Order the power launch lowered.  Put off as
quickly as possible."

"Very good, sir."

Ensign Fullerton hastened back to the bridge, to assume command, while
Hal hastings stood by him.

Boat-handlers and armed sailors and marines scampered over the side.
Down the gangway followed Jack and Eph, looking very stately as they
held their swords clear of their legs.  Busily the launch chugged
across the intervening water gap.

"Schooner, ahoy!" hailed Eph, as the launch ran in alongside "What craft
is that?"

"Schooner 'Malta,' Cooper, master, from Sidney, N.S.," came the reply of
a man at the after rail.

"Seems to me I've seen you before, in Cobtown!" suddenly exclaimed Eph
Somers, as he leaped over the rail in advance of his marines.

"C-Cob--town?" demanded the schooner's master, falteringly.

"By the great Constitution!  We've caught the 'Juanita' in disguise!"
bellowed back Ensign Eph, turning to Jack Benson, who was just boarding.
"See!  There's the false stern structure."

"You're making a huge mistake of some sort, gentlemen!" protested the
vessel's master, tremulously.

"Marines, lay aboard," thundered Eph.  "Take the deck, Corporal.  Round
up all the crew you see, and make 'em stand at attention along one of
the seams of the deck!  Sailors aboard, you down any man who tries to
block or balk you.  Lively, now!  I've seen this master in Cobtown, and
I'll take my oath this is the 'Juanita' with a pieced-out, false stern
and a faked third mast!"

"We hold you responsible for the deck, Corporal," spoke Jack, in a low
tone to the noncommissioned officer of marines.  "We're going to take
the sailors and go below."

A rush was made for the companionway leading down into the schooner's
cabin.  A man's white, scared face showed below, for a moment.

"Hurrah!" yelled Eph Somers, drawing his sword and making a bound below
"There's Brother Gray.  Oh, we've the right boat--and the right crowd,
too!"




CHAPTER XVI

THE DUEL THROUGH THE DOOR


Bang!

A stateroom door closed just before the two young officers reached it.

Click!  That told the story of a bolt shot into place.

"You may as well open!" called Jack, coolly.  "We have ample force for
breaking down that door!"

Crack!  In that confined space the discharge of a pistol sounded almost
deafening.  A line of red shot through the stateroom door.  The bullet
from the weapon whizzed between Jack Benson and Eph Somers, the missile
burying itself in wood across the passage.

Crack!  Crack!

With that desperate fellow the other side of the door, shooting through
the key-hole, it was worse than folly to remain in line of range.

Yet Jack and Eph retorted coolly, with the dignity of officers.

"My man," requested Lieutenant Jack, turning to one of the sailors,
"hand me your revolver."

Taking the weapon, Benson glanced at it a second or two, then raised the
weapon, sighting for the top of the stateroom door.

Bang! The shot that Jack fired sent a bullet crashing through the door
close to the upper framework.

"You see, Gray!" Jack called coolly, "we're armed, too, and in
overpowering numbers.  Resistance is worse than foolish."

Bang! came the hostile answer.

This shot was fired through one of the panels of the stateroom
door--fired at an angle, too.

Plainly the shot was intended to hit the young naval lieutenant.  It
passed Benson's right side by a margin of barely two inches.

"Pass me another revolver," whispered Benson, in the stillness that
followed.

All through the day and evening these seamen, though outwardly
respectful, and wholly well disciplined, had cherished a great deal of
amusement over their boyish officers.

Now, however, these bronzed men of the deep beheld Benson and Somers at
work in a manner worthy of any product of Annapolis.

The second revolver was handed to Jack.

"I want to be in this, too," muttered Ensign Eph, and held back his hand
for weapons.

"Are you going to surrender, Gray, and open that door?" demanded
Lieutenant Jack.

"Never--to you," came the ugly defiance.

Bang!  Again Gray fired, straight in the direction of the voice the
bullet, crashing through a panel of the door, fanned Jack's left ear so
that he felt the breeze.

"Open up on him, Mr. Somers," directed Benson.  "Slowly.  Fire high, and
fire low.  Try to get him somehow."

Two more shots came from the other side of the locked door.

Then pop-pop-pop! began the fusilade from outside, Jack and Eph firing
with either hand as they sighted their weapons for new spots.

R-r-rip!  crash!  A long enough bombardment of this sort was certain to
reduce the panels to splinters and leave the way clear--if they didn't
riddle Gray with bullets in the meantime.

Pop-pop-pop!  The air was becoming heavy with the white fog of smoke.
Breathing was somewhat difficult, with so many shots being fired in
the confined space.

Then both young officers stopped, passing back one revolver apiece to
be reloaded.

Bang!  came a defiant shot from inside the stateroom.  The bullet
struck the cabin floor just behind Jack, having passed between his feet.

The sailors, back where they were comparatively safe from harm, looked
on in admiration at these two grit-full young American officers.

Pop-pop-pop!  began the fusilade by Jack and Eph again.

"Ouch!" came a sudden yell from the stateroom.

"Hit you, did we?" called Jack, calmly.  "Well, we're going to riddle
you unless you stop that nonsense."

The answer was another shot from inside the stateroom.  The bullet
clipped off a stray lock of hair at the left side of Eph Somers's head.

Both young officers fired slowly, searchingly, until their weapons were
emptied.  Then they passed the hot smoking revolvers back for new
loads.

From the other side of the stateroom door came no sound.

As soon as he and Eph had received the reloaded weapons, Jack motioned
Eph Somers not to fire.

For a few moments they listened.  Then Jack turned, selecting the two
most stalwart-looking of the husky sailors back by the companionway.  A
nod of Jack's head brought them stealthily to his side.

"Put your shoulders to the stateroom door, and force it," commanded
Lieutenant Benson.

At the same time Jack and Eph moved up with the sailors, holding their
revolvers ready to fire at the first sign of renewed hostilities from
within.

Bump!  Two pairs of sturdy shoulders went up against the door.  From
within there came no sign of defiance.  Bump!  At the second determined
assault the door flew open.

"Step back, men!  We'll go in first," commanded Lieutenant Benson.

Revolvers in hand, and ready, the two young officers of the "Sudbury"
pressed forward into the battered-looking room.

"Where is the rascal?" growled Eph Somers.

"Here, hiding like a cornered rat," replied Jack, aiming both revolvers
at a huddled figure well in under the lower berth.  "Come out, Gray!
You won't be hurt unless you try tricks on us."

The answer was a groan.

"Are your hurt?" inquired Lieutenant Benson.

"Yes."

"How badly?"

"You hit me twice."

"Where?"

"Once in the left arm; once in the right thigh.  O-o-o-h!"

Jack Benson felt a swift twinge--almost a guilty jerk of his conscience.

To be sure, Gray had been defying properly appointed officers of the
government engaged in performing their sworn task.  Gray had attempted
to kill or injure the young officers.

Still, Gray was a human being.  Benson, despite his fighting spirit, at
need, was not fond of gazing upon misery.

"I guess you can get out, with a little aid," coaxed Lieutenant Jack.

Gray's answer was another groan.

"We'll help you out, then," Jack continued.  "But don't you dare to open
fire upon any of our party!"

"I would, if I could," snarled the wounded man.

"Why can't you?"

"Fired my last cartridge!" snapped the wretch, defiantly.  "Else you
wouldn't have got in here without losing a few men!"

Jack signed to the two men who had forced the door to lend a hand in
moving Gray out from under the berth.  As they got the wounded man out
on the carpet he presented a sad picture in his bloodstained clothing.

"Will the Lieutenant pardon a suggestion?" spoke up one of the sailors,
saluting.

"Yes."

"I have a first aid package, sir.  With some help I can, bind this man's
wounds until we get him over to the sick bay on the 'Sudbury.'"

"A fine idea," agreed Lieutenant Jack.  "Go ahead."

First of all, the wounded prisoner was taken out into the passageway.
Jack and Eph had yet important work to do here.  For a few minutes
they searched in vain.  Then, in turning over the lower berth's mattress,
Eph's hand touched something hard.

"Wait until I get my pocket-knife out," he smiled.

Rip!  r-r-r-r-rip!  As Ensign Eph tore open the mattress and thrust his
hands inside, the grin on his face broadened.

"I reckon we've got the object of the whole expedition," he announced.

He drew out a package wrapped in heavy paper.  Jack broke the string,
unwrapping, and pulling out to the light, a bundle of charts, layer
upon layer.

"Yes.  Here we have what we're after," nodded Lieutenant Benson.  "And
here are two books written chock-full of notes to go with the charts.
Gracious!  That fellow.  Millard must have stolen plans of every
important fortified harbor on the Atlantic coast.  And here are charts
of some of the gulf ports as well."

Gray, his wounds bound, had been laid on the door of the stateroom,
which had been taken from its hinges.  On this stretcher, the prisoner
was taken over the side into the launch.

"Who's going to pay for the damage done here, sir?" asked the skipper
of the Cobtown schooner, stepping forward.

"Hm!" muttered Jack.  "It seems to me you are lucky, my man, that we
don't put a prize crew aboard this craft and take you back to Norfolk."

"I haven't done anything," protested the fellow, "except to stand for a
lot of damage on board because you're backed by sailors and marines."

"My man," retorted Jack, grimly, "if you think you have suffered any
unfair damage, then lay your case before the Navy Department.  But my
private advice is for you not to attract the attention of the authorities
to you in case they seem likely to overlook you."

"Is my vessel at liberty to proceed?" inquired the man, sullenly.

"Yes; I have no orders to seize your craft.  I'd like to, however,"
Lieutenant Jack Benson added, dryly.




CHAPTER XVII

THE LAST HOUR OF COMMAND


Through the night the "Sudbury" rolled lazily over the waves.

A wireless message had carried the news through space to Washington.
Orders had come to return to Norfolk, there turning Gray over to the
United States authorities.

Benson and his comrades were instructed to return to Washington with
the charts and record books.

Down in a berth in the sick bay, lay Gray.  The hospital steward had
made the wounded man as comfortable as possible.  The latter was
painfully but not seriously wounded.

At the speed at which the gunboat was now proceeding the "Sudbury" was
due at anchorage at six in the morning.

Lieutenant Jack had turned in, after leaving orders that he was to be
called a few minutes before five.  He wanted to be on deck to enjoy
the sensations of his last hour of command on the cruise of a vessel
of the United States Navy.  Forward, the sailors of the watch were
talking in low tones of their very youthful officers.

"There's the real stuff in those boy officers, mates," grunted one
sailor who had been in the boarding party.  "It don't make any
difference whether they've been through Annapolis or not.  Look at the
way the lieutenant and Mr. Somers went up against the shooting.  Kept
us back, and took the medicine themselves, like real officers."

"You'd expect it of Somers," rejoined another sailor.  "There's a bit
of the bull-neck about him, and such men always fight.  But the
lieutenant makes a real officer that I'd be glad to foller anywhere."

"Mr. Hastings didn't get a chance to show what was in him," suggested
another of Uncle Sam's old salts.

"Oh, you leave Mr. Hastings alone for fighting, if he saw any need
to," retorted the sailor who had been the first to speak.  "He's one
of your very quiet chaps.  Your quiet ones always sail into a fight
while a brawler is getting his mouth wound up to do some talking."

"Hanged, if I don't wish them lads could remain on board!" muttered
another old salt.

"With the young lieutenant to command the ship?" asked another.

"Him as well as anyone.  He knows what he's doing, for which reason I
don't care for the number of the year he was born in.  Why, mates, the
lieutenant is the head of them submarine boys we've read so much about
in the newspapers when layin' in port.  And the other two are his
messmates.  Now, I'll stand for it that the submarine boys are good for
any kind of a job on salt water.  I'd foller their lead on a battleship!"

It would have been fine for the three submarine boys had they been able
to know what great opinions the crew held of them.

But Hal was again on the bridge in the last watch, and Eph had gone
below for an hour's sleep ere he, like Jack Benson, was to be called.

Then, at last, two sleepy-eyed boys came from their cabins, going up
to the bridge for what they felt was their last hour of real sea-glory.

Ensign Fullerton appeared half an hour before anchorage was made.

"You have the satisfaction, sir, of knowing that your task was put
through in record time," said Fullerton, by way of congratulation.

"For which I'm truly glad," smiled Benson.  "Yet I could wish our
experience with the Navy had not ended so soon."

"Why, it hasn't ended yet, sir," smiled the executive officer.

"It will, in a few minutes more, however," sighed Jack.  "My last
official act will be to order the gig into the water to take us on
shore.  We're under orders to take the next train for Washington,
you know."

"Very true," smiled Ensign Fullerton.  "But, sir, you are commanding
officer of the 'Sudbury,' no matter where you may be, until you receive
an order to relinquish command.  Also, sir, your present appointments as
officers in the service run until the orders appointing you are revoked."

"But that will all happen before the day is much older," replied Jack,
with a forced smile.

It was going to come harder than he had thought, after this brief taste
of real naval life, to give it all up!

No sooner had the "Sudbury" let go her anchors than Jack called for the
gig.  He and his comrades hurried below, doffing their uniforms, which
went back into the dress suit cases.  Then, in citizen dress, with
their precious swords again wrapped in chamois skin, the three
submarines went over the side.

There was the same ceremony, however, which had attended their coming
aboard.  The marine guard turned out, presenting arms as Lieutenant
Jack Benson passed to the side gangway.  Ensign Fullerton and Mr. Drake
stood by to salute Jack, and to receive his formal acknowledgment of
their courtesy.

Their feet touched the bottom of the gig.  They seated themselves, and
the short row to the landing stage commenced.

On the landing stage stood an orderly, who promptly saluted.

"The Commandant's compliments to Lieutenant Benson, and will the
Lieutenant and his comrades report at the Commandant's office."

Early as the hour was, the commandant was at his desk, in uniform, and
received the young officers most graciously.

"Mr. Benson, and gentlemen," declared the commandant of the navy yard,
"you have done your work well, and as quickly as it could have been
done.  I congratulate you.  The Secretary of the Navy, I believe, will
thank you personally, It was splendidly done.  And now, if you will
come around to the officers' club with me, you will find that your
breakfasts have been ordered.  It will be an hour and a half, yet,
before it will be necessary for me to furnish you with the carriage
that will convey you to the railway station."

In the presence of this much older officer the lads did not attempt to
make too merry at breakfast.  Seated in the dining room of the
officers' mess, they listened respectfully to whatever the commandant
saw fit to discuss.

The meal was about over when a marine orderly entered, crossed the
dining room, stopped at a respectful distance, and saluted.

"Telegram, sir."

The commandant received the envelope, drawing out the sheet it contained.

"Lieutenant Benson, this will interest you and your comrades," pursued
the commandant.

"The order revoking my command of the gunboat," thought Jack.  Oddly
enough, though he expected it, knew it must happen, the arrival of the
moment brought a strange sinking at heart.

"I wonder how on earth it could have happened?" pursued the commandant,
his eyes again turned toward the paper.  "Millard has escaped from Fort
Craven, and, so far, has eluded recapture!"




CHAPTER XVIII

EPH BETS AN ANCHOR AGAINST A FISH-HOOK


"The government possesses the fellow's charts and notes, anyway,"
observed Jack Benson, rather proudly.

"Yes, thanks to you, gentlemen," nodded the commandant.  "Still, I fancy
the authorities, will be fearfully annoyed over this escape."

"There are no particulars, sir, you say?" queried Jack.

"No; the mere announcement of the fellow's escape, and a request to
military and naval authorities to be on the lookout for the fugitive
The despatch also states that description will follow by wire."

"We can give you a pretty fair word-portrait of Millard right now, sir,"
offered Lieutenant Benson.

"And I wish you would."

Jack proceeded to do so.  He had about finished, when the carriage
stopped punctually before the door of the officers' club.  The commandant
took cordial leave of his young guests, after which they were driven to
the railway station.  Just a little later they found themselves leaning
back in parlor car seats, bound for Washington.

Most of the way back the youngsters dozed in their chairs.  Now, that the
excitement was over, all felt need of rest.

Not even at the railway station in Washington could they escape the
watchfulness of the Navy Department.  The same messenger who, the day
before, had handed them their copies of the Regulations, now met
Benson with a note.

"The Secretary will not be at his office until one o'clock this
afternoon," announced Lieutenant Jack, looking up from the order.  "We
are directed to report at that hour."

"What shall we do until then?" demanded Eph, blankly, when the messenger
had departed.

"Why, since we're still in the service," laughed Jack, "and as I've heard
that the Arlington is much patronized by Navy officers, suppose we treat
ourselves to a carriage, go to the Arlington and register.  That will be
the last grand feeling we'll get out of this."

His comrades rather merrily agreed.  So, a few minutes later, the trio
marched through the lobby of the Arlington to the desk.  Jack picked up
a pen, and registered:

"John Benson, U.S.N."

Hal and Eph followed suit.  Then they were led to their connecting rooms.

"We'll have luncheon at half-past eleven," smiled Lieutenant Jack, as
he dropped into an easy chair.  "In the service one never knows when
his next meal is coming."

"Good!" chuckled Hal, though there was a sad ring to his tone.  "Keep up
as long as you can, old fellow, the fiction that we're still in the
naval service."

"Well, aren't we?" demanded Jack, stoutly.

"Surely," assented Hal, meekly.

"Say," demanded Eph, taking out notebook and pencil, "what is an ensign's
pay, anyway?"

"Seventeen hundred dollars a year," replied Benson.

"I don't suppose the Navy Department will try to spring less than a
day's pay on us," hinted Eph.  "If that's right, then the government
now owes me three hundred and sixty-five into seventeen hundred.  Let
me see--"

"Oh, cut it!" laughed Hal.

"What?  My pay?" demanded Eph, "Not much, sir!  I want the only money I
ever really earned."

"One of us ought to drop Mr. Farnum a line," hinted Jack, presently.

"Oh, well, let Hal do it," offered Eph.  "He carries the only fountain
pen in the crowd."

Without a word Hastings crossed to a table on which were envelopes and
paper, and began to write.  Perhaps he welcomed something to occupy his
mind; for, truth to tell, each of these submarine boys had a woefully
"blue" feeling.  Though all were naval officers, still, at this moment,
all realized that they would cease to be such as soon as they had
received the thanks of the Secretary of the Navy.  However, "blue"
as all three felt, none of them hung back when half-past eleven arrived.
They descended to the dining room, where they refreshed themselves
heartily.

The meal over, there was just about enough time left for them to walk
comfortably to the Navy Department.

They had walked a couple of blocks of the way when Hal suddenly felt the
stamped letter in his pocket.  He drew it out, and glanced hurriedly
down the avenue.

"I don't see a letter-box ahead, fellows, but I saw one, half-way down
the block, at the last corner we passed.  You two keep right on.  I'll
join you."

Presently Jack and Eph halted in their walk to look back.

"Where is Hal?" demanded Somers.

"He can't have lost us," muttered Jack.

"Oh, I guess he has simply taken a short cut to meet us ahead on the
way."

Yet, though they continued to look for their comrade until they had
neared the State, War and Navy Building, Hal Hastings had not again
appeared in sight.

"Say, but this is fearfully careless of good old Hal," muttered Jack
Benson, uneasily, as he glanced at his watch.  "We've no time to go back
to look for him, either, for we've barely time to reach the Secretary's
office."

"We'll have to go in without Hal, then," grumbled Eph.  "It makes me
feel like a fool, too!"

Had the two lads but known it, there was still plenty of time.  For the
Secretary of the Navy may make an appointment with an understrapper,
and then find that he must first see some more important personage.

There were "big" callers ahead of the boys that day, so that it was
nearly two o'clock when Lieutenant Jack and Ensign Eph were admitted to
the presence that they were to leave shorn of their brief rank and
command.

"Good afternoon, Lieutenant Benson.  Good afternoon, Mr. Somers," was
Secretary Sanders's swift greeting.  "You were most successful, and I
must congratulate you heartily.  But--where is Mr. Hastings?"

"We don't know, Mr. Secretary," Jack admitted.  "He left us for a short
time, as we thought, and, since then--"

Mr. Sanders wheeled sharply as the door opened and a clerk came in.

"Pardon me, sir," apologized the clerk.  "But a note has just come for
Lieutenant Benson, sir, and the messenger was insistent that it was a
most important matter--"

"You may take your note and read it, Lieutenant," suggested the Secretary
of the Navy.

Young Benson gave a start when he recognized, in the address, the
handwriting of Hal Hastings.

In another instant Jack gave a much more violent start.  For these were
the words that met his astounded gaze.

_"Dear Jack: I am in a Washington police station, feeling like a
number-one idiot.  Soon after leaving you I ran into Millard, face to
face, There was a policeman within two hundred feet at the moment.  I
let out a full siren yell and dashed at Millard.  He held on to me until
the policeman reached the spot.  I let him hold me, thinking that the
easiest way.  But Millard produced a paper--a request from the military
authorities at Fort. Craven, to arrest and hold anyone pointed out by
the bearer.  I talked--some--to that policeman, but it did no good.
He took me to the station house, and here I am!  Millard vanished,
after saying that he'd wire the news of my arrest to Fort Craven.
You'll have to explain me out of this.  Yours disgustedly, Hal."_

"May I read this to you, Mr. Secretary?" begged Jack Benson.

"Do so, Lieutenant."

"I will be back in a moment," muttered the Secretary of the Navy, rising,
and hastily quitting the room.

The instant that high official was gone Eph caught at his sides with his
hands.

"Oh, wow!  Woof!  Umpah!" chuckled young Somers, his face distorted with
glee.  "Some one catch me!  I'm choking!  Great Scott, what wouldn't I
have given to see that?  Hal, the quiet, the dignified?  Oh, dear!  Oh,
dear.  Hal pounces on the fellow, to arrest him, and Hal is the one who
gets pinched Woo-oo!  I can see Hal's face right now I'll wager an anchor
to a fish-hook that the astonished look is stamped on Hal's face so hard
that it won't come off for a week.  Oh--woof!"

Eph was laughing so hard that the tears streamed down his face.

"Quit that!" commanded Jack, stepping over to his comrade, his own face
stern.  "It's no laughing matter."

"Why, they won't hang Hal!" sputtered Eph, as soon as he could talk.
"Hal will be at liberty almost at once.  But fancy the shock!  Imagine
the dear old fellow's astonishment, and the jolt to his feelings."

Again Eph Somers went off into a paroxysm of laughter.  It seemed
uncontrollable, for Eph had a strong sense of the ludicrous, and Hal's
face, as Somers pictured it, must have been a tremendously funny sight
at the instant when Millard so neatly turned the tables.

"Come, quit your nonsense!" grumbled Jack, disgustedly.

"I can't," roared Eph, going off into still another burst of laughter.

Just at that instant Somers gave himself the lie.  The door opened,
admitting the Secretary of the Navy.  In a fraction of a second Ensign
Eph had straightened up, while his face was solemn enough for an Indian
chief's countenance.

"I have just been straightening out that little matter," explained Mr.
Sanders.  "I have talked with the police, and have described Hastings.
The police are in deep chagrin over their blunder.  Mr. Hastings is now
at liberty and on his way here."

At a motion from Mr. Sanders the two young officers seated themselves.
The Secretary turned to his desk to sign some papers.

From Eph, suddenly, came a suppressed, explosive sound.  Jack seated
beside him on a sofa gave Somers an indignant elbow jab.  The Secretary
glanced up, then resumed his writing.

A minute later there came from Eph the sound of another smothered
explosion.  The picture of Hal Hastings's indignant astonishment had
once more been conjured up before young Somers's face.  Poor Eph was
red in the face with all the effort of keeping back his laughter.

"I fear you must have caught some cold, standing watch on the gunboat's
bridge," said the Secretary, sympathetically.

That sobered Somers in an instant.  The notion that he--he a sea-dog
accustomed to stand watch in all weathers, could catch cold through
exposure of the kind just mentioned made Eph feel a sense of ghastly
humiliation.

Five minutes later Ensign Hal Hastings was shown into the office. The
Secretary of the Navy greeted him kindly, though with a twinkle in
his eyes.

"The paper that caused my trouble was one that was taken from Mr.
Benson when he couldn't help himself," Hal explained.  "For some reason,
the military authorities never discovered that Millard had that paper
about him.  It was enough to save him from arrest an hour ago."

"And Millard is still at large," nodded Mr. Sanders.  "It's a matter
for the military authorities and the Secret Service, I imagine.  I don't
see how the Navy can be drawn into it.  However, I am going to ask you
young gentlemen to retain your special appointments a little longer.  I
may yet have considerable need of you in this affair.  You are stopping
at the Arlington?  Perhaps, for this afternoon, you would enjoy going
over to the United Service Club, where you are likely to meet a good
many Army and Navy officers.  I will send some one along with you who
will see to it that you have ten-day cards at the club."

At any other time this all would have meant to Jack Benson that he was
still an officer in the Navy.  Just now, however, it meant that Millard
was at large, and Benson had a strong notion that it would yet fall to
the lot of the submarine boys to put that wretch where he belonged.




CHAPTER XIX

JACK'S CALLER AT THE UNITED SERVICE CLUB


"Ho-ho!  Haw-haw!  Woof!"

Eph found himself started again, the very instant the boys found
themselves in the lower corridor of the building.

"Let him alone," uttered Jack, scornfully.  "The poor fellow had better
work it all out of his system."

"But, Hal, your face--when the policeman took you, on Millard's
complaint!" sputtered Somers, next going off into another burst of
laughter.

"It didn't seem funny, at the time," returned Hal Hastings, quietly.

"Ho-ho!  Haw!  Of course, not.  Say, Hal, can you do me a tremendous
favor?  Can you look, just for a moment, the way you did when that
blue-coat pinched you?"

Hal began to laugh, despite the fact that his loss of Millard still
rankled under his quiet outside.

"Now, hush up," warned Benson, suddenly.  "Here comes Lieutenant Ulwin,
who has undertaken to present us at the United Service Club.  Idiots are
barred from the club, you know, Eph."

By a great exercise of will power Eph managed to straighten his face
by the time that the lieutenant overtook them.  They entered a cab.  By
this time the young naval officers were beginning to understand that it
is the usual custom to go about Washington in a carriage.

"Have you ever been at a Service Club before?" inquired their guide.

"We breakfasted at the club at Norfolk this morning?" Jack answered.

"Your acquaintance with our Service clubs is not very large, then?"

"We have also been at the club at Fort Craven."

"Oh!" smiled Lieutenant Ulwin.  "I guess you gentlemen have been about
a little more in the two branches of the service, than I had suspected.
You have seen the officers of both the Army and the Navy at play?"

"Mostly at table, I should say," laughed Benson.

"The club is the only place where we can go and get away from shop-talk,"
continued Ulwin.  "As a rule the Army and Navy men at our club do not
talk much shop.  It may be different to-day, however."

"Why to-day?" asked Jack.

"Because--well, you see, I am introducing three rather famous strangers
to-day."

"Meaning--" began Hal, quietly.

"You young gentlemen, of course.  The whole nation has heard much about
the submarine boys.  Yet it is in the Army and the Navy, after all, that
the deepest, most abiding interest in you exists."

"This red spot on my cheek isn't a blush," explained Ensign Eph,
suddenly.  "It's where a mosquito bit me."

"I am not joking," replied Ulwin, with a friendly smile.  "All the
officers of the Navy know about you by this time."

"They'll be greatly disappointed, when they see us, then, won't they?"
laughed Hal Hastings.

"Now, see here," protested Eph, earnestly, "I can stand a good deal.
But, if they see us walking around the club, and ask who left the lid
off the can of shrimps--I'll fight!"

Ulwin laughed heartily.

"I shall have to pass the word to our worst jokers," he smiled, "that
it won't be safe for the fellow who starts in to tease you young men."

"Why, if anyone does start, we've got to keep our tongues behind our
teeth," returned Hal.  "We're only boys--kids--and we can't say
anything smart to men who have been a good many years in the service."

"You can answer back, if anyone starts to have any fun with you,"
replied Lieutenant Ulwin.  "Remember, a club is where all men stand on
an equal footing.  If an admiral gets after you, you will do well to
swallow any witticism he may try on you.  But with any officer below an
admiral you don't have to be so careful."

Eph Somers immediately began to look thoughtful.  Now, Eph did know how
to say caustic things when occasion seemed to demand.

"Here we are," announced Lieutenant Ulwin, suddenly, as the cab stopped
before the club building.

Hal went in at Ulwin's side.  Jack gripped Eph by the elbow, pulling the
auburn-haired one back a few paces.

"Now, see here, Eph, remember that we don't want any funny answers
inside."

"But Ulwin says--"

"You listen to what I'm saying, Eph.  I've known you longer than Mr.
Ulwin has.  Just remember that we're boys--b-o-y-s--boys.  Not one of
us is quite eighteen yet.  If we've gained a little fame for five
minutes, we mustn't begin to imagine that we're eight feet high and on
a par with men forty years old.  So be careful, Eph.  If anyone starts
to have any fun with you, come back at him a different way."

"How?" whispered Eph.

"Look stupid."

"What?"

"Look stupid."

"I don't see much in that."

"Why, it's the funniest answer possible; and, besides, it isn't fresh or
forward."

"How do you make that out?" Eph inquired.

"Why, Eph, boy, if you're half as famous as you may think you are, then
folks will know you can't be stupid.  So, if you pretend to be, you'll
have everyone guessing what you mean by looking that way.  On the other
hand, if you look stupid, and no one is surprised, then you'll
discover that that's just the way the crowd had you sized up in
advance."

"I see," nodded Eph, but it was plain that Jack's almost direct command
was not wholly pleasing to Somers.

The two comrades now caught up with Ulwin and Hal at the elevator.

"We'll go up to the reading room, first," proposed Lieutenant Ulwin.
"That's where the afternoon crowd is usually found."

Anyone who had been looking for "color" or pomp would have been
disappointed.  The only uniforms in sight were those worn by two bell
boys.  The officers of the Army and Navy present were all in citizen
dress.  They looked like a lot of cheerful, prosperous business men.

"Hullo, Ulwin, what are you doing with my friends from Dunhaven?"
eagerly called one young man, rising hastily and coming forward. "Benson,
I'm glad to see you.  And you, Hastings.  And you, Somers."

"Didn't know you knew the young gentlemen, McCrea," broke in Ulwin.

"Don't know them?  When they made me the laughing-stock of every
mess-room crowd in the Navy for months!" retorted McCrea.

Jack, Hal and Eph were shaking hands with the speaker with a good deal
of pleasure.

It was Lieutenant McCrea, one-time watch officer on the battleship
"Luzon."  At one time McCrea had doubted that submarine boats were,
in all respects, as wonderful craft as was claimed.  The submarine
boys had paid him back in most laughable fashion.  Lieutenant McCrea,
at one time, had felt himself much aggrieved over the wholesome teasing
of his brother officers in consequence; but he had long since learned
to accept the whole incident as a good and deserved joke.

Now, McCrea stood wringing the hands of the boys as though he had found
long-lost friends.

"What are you doing these days?" McCrea wanted to know.  "Anything
besides testing new boats at Dunhaven?"

"You must greet them as comrades, McCrea," continued Lieutenant Ulwin.

"What?  Cadets at Annapolis?"

In this case McCrea wondered at their being there, for cadets would be
considered forward who visited an officers' club.

"Benson is a lieutenant, his friends ensigns," replied Ulwin.

"Come, come!" laughed McCrea.  "I'm easy--these boys know that.  But
don't tell me--"

"Fact, though," replied Ulwin.  "They hold special appointments, for
some special duty or other.  I'm here, at the direction of the Navy
Department, to introduce these young brother officers of ours, and to
procure ten-day cards for them."

By this time the news had spread.  A score of officers, young or
middle-aged, were crowding about.  Ulwin had his hands full introducing
the submarine boys.  Yet they stood the ordeal well.  The habit of
command, based on discipline, had given these boys plenty of poise and
self-possession. Nor were any attempts made, at that time, to have any
good-humored fun with them.  Half a dozen officers representing foreign
navies were present.  These, too, came in for introductions.  The
foreigners were, mainly, military or naval officers attached to foreign
embassies at Washington.

"By Jove, Benson, I've had it in mind, for some time, that I wanted to
meet you and grasp your hand," murmured Lieutenant Abercrombie, of the
British Navy, as he drew Lieutenant Jack to one side.  "By Jove, old
fellow, I want to meet you soon and have a good old talk all by
ourselves."

"That will be most agreeable to me," nodded Jack, pleasantly.

"And your comrades, too," added Abercrombie.  "You know, you're already
known on the other side.  Fact, I assure you.  Only the other day I
picked up a London magazine and read quite an account of the doings of
you three.  I was especially interested in an account of how you three
discovered a way of leaving a submarine at the bottom and swimming to
the surface; then diving and re-entering the craft while she's still on
the bottom.  But your method is a secret, I suppose?"

"Yes," smiled Jack.  "At least, the American Navy alone shares the
secret with us."

"Oh, I'm not asking it, you know, old fellow," Lieutenant Abercrombie
assured him.

"Is Mr. Benson here?" called a bell-boy, from the doorway.

"Very much so," replied Lieutenant Ulwin, dryly.

"May I give you a message, sir?" asked the bell-boy, coming closer.

After excusing himself, Benson stepped aside with the boy.  Yet the
latter spoke loudly enough for several to overhear.

"There's a lady, downstairs at the door, would like to see you, sir.
She says it is very, very important, sir."

"Did she give any name?" inquired astonished Jack.

"No, sir; she begged you would overlook that, sir, and just step down
to the door for a few moments."

"All right; I'll go," nodded Benson.  "But it looks queer."

Excusing himself to his host, Ulwin, and to some of the officers with
whom he had been chatting, the leader of the submarine boys went quickly
to the coat-room for his hat, then descended in the elevator.

"Vairee strange place, zis, for a lady to follow a zhentleman--to hees
club," drawled a French captain.

One or two of the others laughed, imagining that this was some flirtation
in which the submarine boy had been engaged.  But Eph flared up a bit,
looking very red, as he muttered:

"It's only fair to tell you, gentlemen, that we submarine boys don't
appreciate jokes at the expense of the finest fellow who ever lived--Mr.
Jack Benson!"

"Good boy" murmured Teal.

Yet, when an hour had slipped by, and Benson had not returned, even his
loyal comrades began to wonder a good deal.  From that frame of mind
they passed on, at the end of another hour, to worry.




CHAPTER XX

THE GIRL IN THE CAB


As Jack reached the door of the United Service Club he found no one at
the doorway.

"That's strange," he muttered.

But in another moment he looked down the street.  A hundred feet away
stood a closed cab.  From it a woman leaned, beckoning slightly.

Had she been veiled, Jack would have been instantly suspicious.

But her face showed, and it was a young, fresh, pretty and wholesome
looking face.

"I don't know her, but she is very evidently a lady," thought Jack
Benson, quickly.

Accordingly, he stepped along the sidewalk, lifting his hat courteously
as he neared the vehicle.

"You are Mr. Benson?" inquired the young woman.

"Yes, madam."

"I trust you will pardon my calling here, and sending you a message.  But
it was very urgent that I see you at once--how urgent you cannot yet
understand."

"I am here, madam," Jack replied; not knowing what else to say.

"I am going to make another strange request of you."

"It is granted in advance, if possible."

"Will you step inside with me, and drive a little way?" inquired the
young woman.

Jack glanced quickly at her.  Her face was flushed; evidently she was
embarrassed.

"Won't you tell me a little more, madam, about your reason for wishing
to see me?" he suggested.

"Yes; but not here--_please!_" she begged.  "I do not want to be seen
about here.  I shall not detain you long, Mr. Benson.  All I ask is
that you sit here beside me, and that we drive a little way, while I
say a few words to you."

Jack hesitated.  He did not like the look of the adventure.  Yet, on
the other hand, it was hard to see harm or danger in it.  The young
woman was evidently, as he had at first guessed, a lady.

"Then you do not feel able to tell me, here, what you wish to speak
with me about?" he inquired.

"I shall begin as soon as we start on our drive," she promised.  "Oh,
please do not refuse me.  You cannot imagine how much is at stake--for
me!"

Though Jack Benson felt the peculiarity of the request from a stranger,
he was unable to see how harm could result from his being kind.

"Very good, then," he agreed.  "I will do my best by listening to you."

After he had entered the cab, and had taken the seat, beside her, the
young woman turned to look at him keenly.

Jack, for his part, saw that she was rather better dressed than the
average.  He imagined her to be the daughter of a family in comfortable
circumstances.

"You do not know who I am, of course?" she began.

"No, madam."

"But you do know one in whom I am much interested," she continued.

For some reason that he could not explain to himself, Jack Benson began
to feel very uncomfortable under the witching battery of her handsome
eyes.

"Who is he?" inquired the submarine boy.

"You know him as--"

She paused, as though stricken with sudden reluctance.

"Well?"

"The name by which you know him is Millard."

Had Jack Benson been lashed at that instant with a whip he could not have
been more astounded.

"Who?" he cried.  "What?  That in fam--"

He checked himself abruptly.

"It was kind of you to stop as you did," the young woman declared,
gratefully.  "The man whom you know as Millard is my promised husband."

"I'm sor--I mean, I'm astonished," sputtered Jack Benson.

Then he turned to take another keen look into her face.

"What do you want to say to me about Millard?" he demanded.

"I ask you--I beg you--to aid him to escape from Washington--from
the country.  Yet, to do that, all he needs is to get safely out of the
District of Columbia.  You know that he is here in Washington, or I
would not have told you as much."

"Does Millard find it so very difficult to get out of Washington?"
queried Jack, grimly.

"If he did not, Mr. Benson, believe me I would never come to the enemy
to beseech mercy.  Probably I am not telling you anything you do not
already know," she went on, rather bitterly.  "But every avenue of escape
from Washington is blocked by Secret Service men.  It is not so difficult
to hide in the city, but to get out of it is impossible--to-day."

"Madam," Jack answered, softly, "it would be my desire to give you
every bit of aid and comfort possible.  However, what you ask is simply
impossible.  For one thing, it would be in direct defiance of my--"

"Oath" he was about to add, but checked him self.  On account of their
knowing that he was to be sought at the United Service Club it was
possible--even likely--that the enemy knew of his actual connection
with the Navy.  Yet, Benson did not propose to supply the other side
with any gratis information.  So he added:

"Contrary to my duty as an American.  I am loyal to the Flag, madam,"
the boy continued.  "Do you know the nature of Millard's offense?"

"No-o-o-o; that is, not exactly."

"Do you wish me to tell you?"

"Why--he--he--told me it was some dispute over international affairs,"
stammered the young woman.

"Do you feel yourself a loyal American?" asked Jack, looking at her
curiously.

"Yes!" she answered, without an instant's hesitation, looking straight
into his eyes, almost defiantly.

"And you love this man, Millard?"

"Yes!" Yet her declaration was not so emphatic as it would have been a
few moments before.

Jack Benson sighed.

"Would you love a man who had betrayed his country's flag?" he asked,
presently, in a very low voice.

"Has Don--has the man you know as Millard offered to do that?"

It was not suspicion, but incredulity that rang in her voice.

Jack Benson knew, now, that he was dealing with a woman who knew herself
to be a patriot--a lover of her country.

"I don't know that I have any right to say anything," Jack answered,
evasively.  "Mr. Millard is a civil engineer, isn't he?"

"Yes, and a mechanical engineer, too," the girl admitted, without
attempt at concealment "As you also doubtless know, he served, once,
with a revolutionary army in Guatemala.  It is in some sort of scrape
like this that he finds him self now.  Some trouble that he has gotten
himself into with this government in order to befriend the
revolutionists of some Central American republic."

"Did Millard tell you so?" demanded Jack Benson, his eyes now very wide
open.

"He let me believe as much," the girl replied, one hand toying with a
fold of her dress, while she glanced down.  "And that is the truth,
is it not?"

"No!" broke, half-angrily, from young Benson.  The passion would have
rung in his denial, but he remembered that he was talking to this girl
about her betrothed husband.

"You spoke of the Flag a moment ago," cried the girl, suddenly, and
gazing searchingly into the boy's eyes.  "Do you mean to tell me that
Don--that Mr. Millard would be engaged in any work hostile to his
own country?"

"Is the one we call Millard an American citizen?" asked Benson.

"Yes."

"Then--"

Jack came to an abrupt stop after that one word.  He would not tell the
dreadful news to this spirited young woman.  It was not necessary.

But she became insistent

"Mr. Benson," she cried, "this has gone too far not to have a full
explanation.  Has--has Mr. Millard done aught to betray the United
States?  For that matter, how could he?"

"Madam," Benson replied, gravely, "no Central American republic would
want charts of our fortified harbors, or notes concerning the
fortifications, the harbor mines, and so on, for the very simple reason
that no Central American republic would ever be equal to the task of
attempting to invade the United States."

"Did Mr. Millard steal such plans--make such notes?"

She hissed the question sharply, her face now deathly white.

"That is the charge against him," Jack nodded.

"Did he do it?"

"I caught him at it, opposite Fort Craven," young Benson answered.

A low, smothered cry escaped the girl.  Her head rested against the side
of the carriage as though her brain were reeling.  But at length she
spoke.

"You--you would not deceive me," she faltered.  "Yet tell me more."

"I can't;" answered Jack, with a shake of his head.  "Further than
that, I cannot go."

"Oh, I see," she nodded, "and I do not blame you.  You feel that,
whatever you told me, I would tell him.  But I wouldn't!"

Though the girl's face was still fearfully pallid, her eyes, as she
turned to gaze into the submarine boy's face, flashed with a new fire.

Then, after a brief pause:

"Whatever he is, or has done, I am an American," she added, quietly.

"This has been a miserable fifteen minutes for me." responded Jack
Benson.  "I have been torn between the impulse to mind my own business,
and the fear that you may be throwing yourself away on a man whom you
would promptly learn to despise."

"I shall never give Donald Graves another thought as a lover," the girl
rejoined, promptly.  "Nor shall I shelter him.  I am going to him now!"

"Then you have an appointment with him?  You know where to find him?"

"Yes," replied the girl, looking at the submarine boy rather queerly.
"Do you care to go with me to meet Donald Graves--the one you knew
as Millard?  But I am stupid, or worse.  That would be to run you into
needless danger--for such a man as I now know Donald Graves to be
would be desperate."

"I am not afraid of him," retorted Jack quietly.  "If you fear only
for me, I beg you to take me to him!"




CHAPTER XXI

DAISY HUSTON DECIDES FOR THE FLAG


"It is a somewhat lonely place, on the outskirts of the city," warned
the girl.  "Mr. Graves had thought that, if no other chance offered,
he might possibly get away by leaving that house and taking to the
country roads.  For he knows that, if he takes a train at any point, he
won't ride five miles before he'll find himself in the clutches of a
Secret Service man.  Oh, he knows how well the trains and the
steamboats will be watched.  He dreads, even, that the country roads
will be watched."

"I don't know anything about the Secret Service lines that are out,"
Jack confessed, honestly.  "Yet I imagine that every possible precaution
has been taken to capture Millard--or Graves."

"You do not know my name," cried the girl, as though struck by a sudden
thought.  "Mr. Benson, you have been wrapped in so much mystery, so
much deceit, so much lying and treachery that I won't even have you
guess whether I am telling you the truth.  Here is my card-case.   Take
out a card for yourself."

The request was so much like a command that Benson obeyed.  On the card,
in Old English script, he read:

"Miss Daisy Huston."

"I thank you, Miss Huston," he acknowledged, gravely, handing back her
card-case.

"Will you signal the driver to stop?" she requested.  They were now
driving through the western part of Washington.

When the driver found himself signaled he reined up, then came to the
cab door.

"You know where to go?" she said.

"Yes," nodded the man.

"Drive there, then."

The driver whipped up his horses to a better speed, the vehicle bowling
along now.

"I very much fear that I am running you into danger," declared Daisy
Huston, soberly.  "Mr. Benson, if you decide to leave the cab, or to
have me take you back to the center of the city, I shall not imagine
you to be lacking in courage."

"I cannot be in any greater danger than you are, Miss Huston," Benson
ventured, with a smile.

"Oh, it is much different in my case," argued the girl.  "Donald Graves
would not attack a woman, especially the woman he had professed to love."

"Miss Huston, do you feel like discussing this matter any further?"
hazarded the young acting naval lieutenant.

"Yes; as much as you wish."

"I confess to being a bit curious."

"About what?"

"Did Millard--Graves, I mean, have any great reason to need money?
More, I mean, than he could earn by honest work?"

"Yes," admitted Miss Daisy.  "My mother is dead.  Under her will I
inherit a considerable little fortune when I am twenty-five.  But it
is solely on condition that I have my father's permission to marry the
man of my choice.  I could remain single until twenty-five, but I am
only nineteen, and Mr. Graves complained that it would be an
eternity to wait."

"Then your father did not approve Millard?  I am going to call him that
because the other name is unfamiliar."

"My father feared that Donald was a fortune hunter.  He said he would
be satisfied if Donald could show that he were rich in his own name."

"So, then, Graves, or Millard, hit upon the plan of stealing our harbor
fortification secrets and selling them to another government," said
Jack, meditatingly.  "Yet I am puzzled to understand how he found the
chance.  There are no foreigners openly engaged in buying our national
secrets."

"I think I can explain all that, though it will be but guess-work,"
replied Daisy Huston, thoughtfully.  "My father was for some years
minister to Sweden.  He is still well acquainted among foreign diplomats
here in Washington.  Some of them are often at our house.  Donald must
have met one there who tempted him, or pointed the way to a fortune.
Yes; I am certain that must be the answer."

"Did--but perhaps you don't like my asking such questions?"

"No; I do not mind--now," replied Daisy Huston.  "I began to feel as
though I had been an innocent party to Donald Graves's wrongdoing.
When I went to try to see you, this afternoon, I supposed only that
Donald had gotten into trouble through some filibustering expedition
to Central America.  I did not look upon that as so serious, you see.
But selling the national secrets is quite another matter," she added,
bitterly.  "I shall never care for the man again.  I have wrenched
him from my heart in these last few minutes.  So you may ask me any
questions that will help to clear up the matter."

"Thank you, Miss Huston.  Then did Graves, or Millard, as I call him,
express any hope of becoming suddenly well to do?"

"Yes; and now I can understand how he has lied to me.  He let me believe
that he hoped to profit through mining concessions to Americans that
would follow the overthrow of one of the petty despots in Central
America."

"Yet Millard has been away from Washington much, has he not?"

"Most of the time during the last four months.  He generally managed
to get over here for one day out of the seven; sometimes two days at a
time."

"I believe the whole matter is becoming rather clear in my mind.  I do
not mind telling you, Miss Huston, how I first came to know the
fellow.  He was over at our shipyard in Dunhaven, trying to get
employment on the construction of submarine boats.  But something in
his manner made us suspect him, and he didn't get near the secrets of
any of our boats."

There was one other thing, however, that Benson felt he would like to
have cleared up.  So he inquired:

"How did you know that I was at the United Service Club?  Did Millard
know?  Did he tell you to go there?"

"He guessed where you might be.  He asked me to drive to the club
first; if you were not there, then I was to drive to the Arlington.
Failing to find you at either place, I was to go back to the hotel in
the evening.  In the event of my finding you at the hotel I was to see
you in the ladies' parlor.  But, oh!  What can you think of me, Mr.
Benson, to have come to you on such an errand--on a mission to save a
betrayer of his Flag?"

"You came innocently, Miss Huston; that is all that I can understand.
And your whole attitude, since you discovered the truth, has been that
of a loyal American girl who would crush her heart, even, for her
country's honor."

"It isn't going to be as hard as you think, perhaps," she smiled,
bitterly, "to cast the man out of my heart.  The man that I now know
Donald Graves to be never was in my heart.  There is no room, there,
for a traitor."

She glanced out of the cab at the scene through which they were passing.
Jack Benson looked at the same time.

"I am terribly uneasy," she confessed.  "Perhaps, even now, Mr. Benson,
you had much better leave this carriage and let me go forward alone.  I
am a woman, and therefore safe.  But I fear--yes, actually fear for
your life when he finds out!"

"Don't be at all uneasy about me, Miss Huston," begged Jack, with cool
confidence.  "I have had rather a sturdy training in the art of taking
care of myself."

Though he did not allow the girl to see the motion, Jack felt stealthily
at his right hip pocket.  Yes; the loaded revolver was there.  Jack did
not believe much in the practice of carrying concealed weapons.  He had
great contempt both for the nerve and the judgment of fool boys who
carried revolvers, loaded or otherwise.  But just now the situation was
different.  Jack Benson was an acting lieutenant in the United States
Navy.  Just before leaving the Navy Department he and his comrades had
each been advised to take a proffered weapon and carry it against the
chance that they might find Millard--or Graves--in Washington, and
find themselves under the necessity of taking him prisoner.

"Spies and traitors are taken alive or dead," the official had remarked
who had handed them the weapons.

"How much further have we to go?" Jack inquired, as the cab turned down
a country lane.

"Only a very short distance, now," replied Daisy Huston.

"Jove, but she's a stunning girl for nerve and principle," thought
Lieutenant Jack, admiringly.  "She's going, now, to what must be the
tragedy of her plans and hopes, yet she has her color back again,
and looks as composed as though out only for an airing!"

"There is the house," almost whispered the girl, at last, resting a
steady, cool hand on his arm.

Jack looked and saw the place--a little, oldfashioned house, standing
in among trees, some hundred feet from the road.  In that swift glance
he also noted that there were no ether buildings near.

Daisy Huston did not ask whether the young man at her side proposed to
try to arrest the man he sought.  She was too discreet to pry into his
plans.

Up into the little yard before the house the horses trotted.  Then,
just as the cab was coming to a stop, the driver cracked his whip-lash
twice.

Immediately the door flew open.  Millard, as Jack Benson knew him,
stepped out jauntily, a smile of delight on his face.

"Good enough, Daisy," he cried, as he strode toward the cab.  "I see
that you have won Benson over to our side.  He shall be my friend,
after this.  But, Daisy, _what_--"

For the girl had sprung lightly out ere Jack Benson could assist her.
The girl now stood, drawn to her full height, yet without affecting
any theatrical pose.  But over her lips hovered a smile of cool disdain
that the look in her eyes heightened.

"Don't lie to me any more, Donald Graves," commanded the girl, steadily,
"and don't deceive yourself.  Both tasks, I know, will be hard for a
man so vile that he'd sell his country's Flag!"

Millard stared at her in growing horror.  Then anger rushed to his face.

"Daisy!" he gasped.  "Have you betrayed me?  Have you brought Benson
here as an enemy?"

Daisy did not answer her former lover.  She continued to gaze at him
with an irony of expression that sent the hot blood mounting to his
head.

"Can't you speak?" he demanded.  "Then, Benson, why don't you talk?"

"Because," replied Jack, "I am waiting for Miss Huston to say to you
all, or as little, as she cares to say."

"Speak, then!" commanded Millard, turning imperiously to the girl.

"And my command to you," retorted the girl, "is different.  Silence!
Never again address me, you traitor to your Flag!"

Millard was swift to realize the fullness of the girl's contempt.  He
knew that everything between them was over.

"Come, come, then, girl!" he uttered, harshly.  "It is time for you to
be gone!  Step to the cab and get away from here, for I would spare you
what is to follow--my reckoning with Benson!"

He clapped his hands.  The door opened, and four men stepped out.  Their
type was not hard to determine.  They were of the scum of
humanity--ready for any desperate deed.




CHAPTER XXII

THE PART OF ABERCROMBIE, R.N.


"Come, girl, you must go!" commanded Millard, harshly.

"I will not," she replied, coldly, "until my escort is ready to go with
me."

"He will not go with you," replied Millard, significantly.  "And you
must not remain.  What is to be done here is no thing for a dainty woman
to see."

"Mr. Benson," appealed the girl, "will you enter the cab first?"

"If he does, the cab will not leave," sneered Millard.

All this while the four men who had just come from the house were
stealthily grouping themselves.  Jack watched them alertly.  He did not
intend to be taken unawares, yet he hesitated to draw his pistol while
Miss Huston was there.

"Go, girl!" Millard ordered again.

"I have told you, already, that I shall go only when Mr. Benson gives
the word and accompanies me," replied the girl, white but courageous.

"Then we won't waste more time," laughed the wretch, harshly.  "Since
you will stay, then you must be a witness of what you have brought on
my worst foe!  Close in, men--get him!"

As the men sprang to obey, and Jack dodged nimbly back, Daisy Huston
uttered a piercing scream.  The next thing she did was wholly natural.
Under the intense strain of her feelings the girl fainted.

"Take her!" nodded Millard, to the driver, who was plainly one of the
desperate lot.  "Take her from here as fast as you can."

The driver, ready for his work, snatched up the girl's light form.

"Have a care what you do--all of you!" cried Jack Benson, warningly,
and now, in his hand, the revolver gleamed.

But one of the wretches, darting in at Jack's right, from behind, aimed
a blow with a cudgel at the weapon.  He struck it from the young
lieutenant's hand.

Down to the ground it fell, but Lieutenant Benson was as quick as
thought, now.

He bent over, snatching up the weapon, then ducked away from a follow-up
blow at his own head, and sprang back.

"You first, then, Millard!" cried the young acting naval officer.

Full of purpose, Lieutenant Jack pressed the trigger.  It stuck.  No
report followed.  That blow from the cudgel had jammed the cylinder.

Having dropped the senseless form of Daisy Huston in the cab the driver
sprang to the box, lashing the horses, just as Lieutenant Benson
discovered the uselessness of his weapon as a firearm.

Then, indeed, young Benson knew that this must be a fight to the very
death.  Yet he was a naval officer at heart, as much as by special
appointment.  At a time like this he held life cheaply.

The first man to get within reach was laid flat by a blow with the butt
of Jack's revolver.

Instantly young Benson wheeled, to strike at another pressing foe.
Instead, he received a glancing though painful blow on his own left
shoulder.  Ere the assailant could recover, however, Benson leaped at
him and would have felled him had not Millard himself leaped in,
striking up the young naval officer's arm.

Once more Lieutenant Jack leaped back.  His whole body was alert, nerves
and muscles responding magnificently.  He fairly vibrated defense.

"Close in on him, men--surround him!" snarled Millard.  "You've got to
get him!  We haven't many minutes left.  We don't know at what instant
to look for interference."

Jack landed effectively on another of the rascals.  Just as he was
wheeling, however, to ward off the attack of another, a stick landed
against his left knee, partly crippling him.

In moving backward Benson almost stumbled over a stone half the size of
his head.

Right there, in the same movement with which he thrust the revolver into
one of his pockets, he bent down, snatched up the heavy stone, and held
it poised over his head.

"Now, come on!  Now, close in!" cried Jack Benson, exulting.  "The first
man who gets too close has his head split open!  Who wants it?"

His usually, good-humored face was transformed by the fiery rage of
battle.

Surely there was some of the old Norseman streak left in Jack Benson's
make-up.

As he stood there, keenly alert, ready to heave the rock, he looked like
a young Thor armed with massive stone hammer.

"Spread!  Get in back of him!" yelled Millard, hoarsely.  "I'll take
the position of attack in front.  Down him!"

"Guess which way I'm going to heave this stone!" cried Jack, tauntingly,
as he half wheeled, so as to watch those trying to steal a march in
his rear.

"Bosh!  You can soon stop that, men!" jeered Millard, suddenly.  "Fall
back and get a fistful of stones.  Rain them in on the youngster at a
safe distance.  One of you will soon hit him and send him down!"

Young Benson gasped inwardly with dismay, though his face did not
blanch.  Millard's followers drew back to obey.

Yes!  These fellows could throw small stones from a much greater distance
than the young lieutenant could hurl the large one.  They had but to
keep up this fire for a few seconds when one of them was certain to hit
him in the head, putting him out of the fight.

Jack Benson dropped the big stone, though he stood over it.  Like a
flash his revolver came out again.  Aiming at Millard, the young naval
officer made frantic efforts to make the cylinder revolve.  But the
weapon proved to be hopelessly jammed.

"Now, keep on volleying the youngster with until you have him down and
wholly out!" yelled Millard, hoarsely.

The air seemed filled with stones.  Jack hopped about as nimbly as
possible, dodging all he could.  Yet one part of his body after another
was hit.

Rat-a-tat-tat!  Jack hardly comprehended what this new noise meant when
it grew in volume.  Then a horseman rode into the yard at a charge.

"One down!" yelled the rider, with savage glee, as he drove his mount
squarely against one of the wretches, bowling him over and underfoot.

Hardly seeming to veer, the rider made for another fellow, and barely
missed him.

Just a second later, so it seemed, this valiant rider hauled the horse
on its haunches, and swung back, heading for another wretch.

Millard leaped at the horseman, a stone in his uplifted fist.

But Jack Benson saw him, and a well-planted blow sent Millard to the
ground.

"Bully good of you, Benson, old chap!" called a hearty voice.  Then the
horseman spurred forward, running down another of Benson's late
assailants.  The two remaining bolted as fast as they could, go.

"Mr. Abercrombie!" cried Lieutenant Jack.

"Yes, it's I: and jolly glad I got here in good time," laughed the
British naval officer, whom this brief rollicking battle had made as
gleeful as a boy.

"But how on earth did you happen to turn up?" asked Jack, a feeling of
mystery coming over him after he had glanced at Millard and had made
sure that the latter would "sleep" for some time to come.

"Why, I was out for my afternoon canter, dear old fellow," bubbled
Lieutenant Abercrombie, R.N.  "I was coming down the road at a hard
trot, don't you know, when a cab rolled by.  A young woman--and a
deuced pretty one--thrust her head out and shrieked at me.  What
could I do?  It was deuced extraordinary, and I had to do something
quickly, so I rode alongside the cab and told the driver to hold up.
I must have looked unusually menacing, don't you know, for, by Jove,
the fellow obeyed me.  Then I reached up and yanked him down off the
cab.  The fellow really started to blackguard me, while the young
woman was shouting something at me at the same time I had to silence
the fellow, don't you know, so I could understand the young lady.
So I struck him over the head with the butt of my riding whip.  My
word, I must have hit the blackguard hard, for he just curled up and
lay down.  The young lady sprang out of the cab and begged me to hurry
down here.  She looked able to take care of herself, so I just left my
revolver with her, and, by Jove, here I am--and deuced glad of it.
Upon my word, Benson, dear old fellow, all the luck seemed to be
running against you."

"It was," Jack admitted, dryly.  "But now I've got the man I came after.
I've got to keep him, too," added Lieutenant Benson, gravely.

As he spoke, the submarine boy drew a pair of handcuffs from an inner
pocket.

"By Jove, do naval youngsters in this country carry such jewelry?"
murmured Lieutenant Abercrombie, R.N.

"They do, I guess, when they're engaged on work like mine at present,"
smiled Lieutenant Jack, United States Navy.

"Now, then, by Jove, I think I'd better go back to the young lady,"
suddenly decided Abercrombie, for Millard still showed no signs of
recovering his senses.  One of the other two men who had been ridden
down now recovered enough to begin to crawl away furtively.

"Do you want that chap?" asked Abercrombie.

"I have no facilities for keeping him a prisoner," Jack answered.
"For that matter, I guess he's nothing but a hired tough.  The
Washington police can find and take care of him at their convenience."

"Good enough," nodded the British lieutenant.  "And now--"

"Would you mind if I go to her, instead?" inquired Benson, hastily.

"Not in the least, dear old fellow.  And, while you're gone, I'll
constitute myself a special 'bobby' to look after this chap of yours
in the bracelets."

So Jack hurried off up the road, wondering how Daisy Huston fared
with a revolver and a hostile cabman.




CHAPTER XXIII

"FOREIGN TRADE" BECOMES BRISK


The cab horses were browsing quietly by the roadside.

Miss Daisy looked anything but perturbed.

In fact, she had passed all uneasiness of spirit on to the cab driver.
That worthy had come back to his senses, but Miss Huston had compelled
him to sit on the ground, his back to a tree.  She stood a few yards
away, watching the surly fellow and holding the pistol as though it were
not the first time she had had such a weapon in her hand.

"Oh, I'm so glad you've come, Mr. Benson!" cried the girl, with true
feminine relief.  "I was so worried about you.  But you're not
hurt--badly.  I hurried a horseman on to you.  He reached you?"

"Yes, thank you," nodded Lieutenant Benson.  "And now, Miss Huston, I
must inform you that we have Millard--your Donald Graves--a prisoner
and manacled.  I must first find a way of getting you back into town.
Then I must turn Millard over to the authorities."

"Why can't he go back in the same cab with me?" asked Miss Huston,
quickly.

"You--could you endure that?"

"Yes," replied the girl, bravely.  "I took you to him.  I sent the
assistance that enabled you to take him prisoner.  Do not fear for me,
Mr. Benson."

"By Jove, but you're clear grit, Miss Huston!" Lieutenant Jack cried,
admiringly.

"Clear American, I hope," retorted the girl.  "Why should men be the
only ones who can do or dare for the Flag?"

"Will you let me have the revolver, Miss Huston?"

"Gladly."

"Thank you.  Now, if you will get inside he cab again."

"And you?"

"I'll sit with the driver and watch him,"

Jack kept his eye on the surly fellow until Miss Huston was inside the
cab.

"Now, fellow, you get up on the box, and handle the reins from the left
side," ordered the young naval officer.

"I always drive on the right side o' the box," came the sulky retort.

"Undoubtedly; but you're driving on the left side this afternoon,"
returned Benson, with a look of significance.  "By the way, did I
mention the fact, yet, that I have an uncertain and bad temper?  Now,
climb up into your place, and don't you attempt to start until I'm
beside you and give the word!"

A moment later Jack Benson sat beside the driver, holding the revolver
in his right hand.

"Now, back to the house," spoke the young naval officer.

Without a word the driver turned his horses about, heading back.

"Here we are!" came, cheerily, from Lieutenant Abercrombie, R.N.

Millard was sitting up, a black scowl on his face as Jack and the others
appeared.

"Now, I've got to get this outfit back into Washington, somehow," mused
Jack, after noticing that Abercrombie had allowed the other thug to
crawl away to safety.

"Why, of course, dear old fellow, you under stand that I'm helping,"
hinted the British officer.

"That's mighty good of you," murmured Jack.  "Then we can do it easily."

Daisy Huston had stepped from the cab.  She stood regarding the scowling
captive.

"I'm glad I know you, Donald; glad I found you out in time," she said,
quietly, gazing hard at him.

"I thought you a friend," Millard retorted, bitterly.  "Great Heavens,
Daisy, if you had been on my side through thick and thin, in good report
and ill, I could have defied all these idiots in Washington.  What an
ally you would have been!  But you chose to be an enemy."

"An enemy to my country's enemies, yes," replied the girl, steadily.

"Do you hate me, Daisy?"

"I don't know," the girl answered, thoughtfully.  "Do you hate me, now,
Donald Graves?"

"I wish I knew," uttered the man.  "But it's hard to turn love like mine
into hate at a moment's notice.  Daisy, the nights are coming when you'll
wake up with a frightened start, and sob as you remember how you turned
me over to--"

"To the officers of the country that you have done your best to betray,"
broke in the girl, firmly.  "No, no, Donald!  Do not imagine that I
shall shed any tears for you, seen or unseen.  Mr. Benson, I am ready,
if you wish to place--your--your--prisoner in the cab beside me."

"It seems like a beastly outrage to do it," muttered Jack, full of
misgivings.

"Not at all," declared the girl, steadily.  "I am glad to see this man
on his way to the bar of justice."

Jack assisted Daisy Huston, with the utmost deference, to a seat inside
the vehicle.  Then he turned to motion to handcuffed Millard--or
Graves--that he was to take the seat beside the woman he had hoped
to make his wife.

"I'll ride close alongside, to make sure there's no unpleasant conduct
toward Miss Huston," volunteered Mr. Abercrombie.

Jack Benson again climbed to the cab box.

"You know I have the pistol," muttered Jack, showing the driver the
weapon.  "There's no need to ride through the town with the weapon in
my hand.  But, if you try to cut up any tantrums, you may be sure
you'll find your own wrists inside of handcuffs."

"I know when I ain't got no show at all," growled the sullen driver.

"Drive ahead, then--into Washington, and straight to police
headquarters."

Lieutenant Abercrombie, R.N., jogged his own mount steadily alongside,
so that he could at all times command a view of the interior.

Millard--Donald Graves--would have opened some conversation with
Daisy Huston, but the disdainful girl cut him short.

As the cab rolled into the busier streets of Washington Lieutenant
Abercrombie drew a little further away from the cab, in order not to
attract attention, though he still remained actively on guard.

The prisoner's manacled hands did not show to the people passing on the
sidewalks.

So, altogether, no passersby thought to turn to look after the cab.

Just as the little procession turned a street corner to drive direct
to the door of police headquarters, Abercrombie waved a hand carelessly
to three pedestrians on the sidewalk.

"Abercrombie!" cried Lieutenant Ulwin.  "And there's Benson on the box
of that hack!"

"Come right along into headquarters," whispered Abercrombie.  "Don't
make any noise."

Wondering until they were fairly agape, Ulwin, Hal and Eph drew up at
the cab door as Jack, after only a brief nod to them, opened the door
and handed out Miss Daisy Huston.

Lieutenant Abercrombie, having given his horse to a boy down the street
to hold, now came forward, raising his hat, to take charge of the
young lady.

"Come along, Millard," called Jack Benson, quietly, and the prisoner
got out, while the British officer stepped down the street with his
fair companion to find another carriage in which she could return home.

Inside Jack marched his prisoner up to the railing in one of the rooms.
The young naval officer at once produced his credentials and displayed
them to the police official in charge.

"Now, with your permission, sir," Jack went on, courteously, "I will
use your telephone, and inform the Navy Department of the prisoner who
awaits their action here."

Five minutes later this had been done.  Benson turned to Lieutenant
Abercrombie, saying:

"I must apologize for not having thought to return your revolver as
soon as we entered."

"I would beg you to keep the weapon, dear old fellow, if it would be
of any use to you," replied the British officer.

And now Hal and Eph found chance to explain that they, worried by Jack
Benson's disappearance, had at last started down to headquarters to
see if they could learn of any mishap to him, or of any other explanation
for his long absence.

"Well, it's all over now," muttered Hal.  "Millard--or Graves--or
whatever other name the fellow may be using at this moment--is safe
in a cell downstairs."

"We thought, once before, that we had him bottled up safely," chuckled
Lieutenant Jack.  "Mr. Abercrombie, how am I ever going to express my
thanks to you?"

"I should feel extremely insulted, dear old fellow, if you thought it
necessary to thank me," retorted the Briton, heartily.

"It will be dark, soon," interposed Lieutenant Ulwin.  "I suggest that
the best thing any of us can do is to turn toward the club.  I feel
certain that the chef will have a famous dinner there to-night."

"We haven't any evening clothes, either citizen or uniform, in
Washington," interposed Jack Benson, who knew something of the
formalities of the service during the dinner hour.

"Come, just the same," begged Ulwin.  "The members don't expect too
much of fellows who are traveling."

Jack was glad of the walk, because it helped to take the stiffness out of
the knee that had been struck.

"You let the cab driver go, did you!" asked Eph, as the submarine boys
walked along together.

"Yes," nodded Jack.  "I had no orders concerning anyone like him.  He's
only some worthless character hired for the job.  He didn't have any
hand in the bigger job of collecting and selling harbor defense plans,
you may be sure."

As the party re-entered the club they found a large attendance.  Nor
was it many moments before a be-moustached German officer approached
the group.

"Oh, Herr Ulwin," he asked, "can you oblige me by excusing Herr Benson
for a moment or two?  And will you come with me, Herr Benson, to meet
a friend who wishes to shake your hand?"

Jack slipped away with the German officer, who conducted him to another
room.

"I think you have met my friend before," explained the German, and
wheeled the submarine boy straight up in front of Herr Professor Radberg.

"You see," smiled the professor, "we meet again."

"It is a great pleasure, surely," declared Jack, as he shook hands.  The
officer stepped a few paces away.

"And now, when, my dear young friend, are you going to give me your
word that you and your comrades will enter the German torpedo service?
I have somewhat better terms to offer you than when we last met.  I have
since been authorized to promise you that you shall enter the German
service as commissioned officers, and that you shall all three be in
line for promotion as merit earns it.  So, then, it is all settled, is
it not!"

Herr Professor Radberg rubbed his hands with a self-satisfied air.

"Yes," Lieutenant Jack admitted, "it is all settled.  But not the way
that you would wish, Herr Professor Radberg.  There may be soldiers
of fortune who follow any flag, for hire.  But we submarine boys would
not enter your German naval service if you created all three of us
high admirals at the outset."

"Admirals?" cried Herr Professor Radberg, protestingly.  "Oh, but that,
my dear young friend, would be quite impossible."

"You are wasting your time with us, sir," Jack continued, firmly.  "We
may, one of these days, be asked to enter the American service
permanently.  We would not enter any other country's service, no matter
what the bait.  Do not give the matter any further thought, please, for
we won't."

The German officer had been standing a few paces away, twirling his
moustache and frowning.  Now, he came forward.

"Herr Benson," he broke in, "I fear that you are so young that you do
not fully understand the honor and dignity of being officers in the
German service."

"Very likely we do not, Captain," Jack returned, with a bow.  "And it
is absolutely certain that we shall never find out from experience."

Lieutenant Jack excused himself, turning to seek his friends.  As
Benson entered the reading room once more he came upon Eph and another
whose face was decidedly familiar.  It was the Chevalier d'Ouray.

"Just in time, Jack," nodded Eph.  "Tell the Chev. for me, please as
he doesn't seem to understand my talk, that we wouldn't even give the
slightest consideration to his idea that we should enter the French
naval service in the submarine division."

"It is quite hopeless, Chevalier," laughed Jack Benson, shaking his
head.  "The honor is quite enough to turn our heads, but we can serve
only the United States."

The Chevalier d'Ouray made a low bow, then turned away, for others
were approaching.

"Where is Hal?" asked Jack.

"Crickety!  Look at him over there, talking to that little Japanese,"
muttered Eph, inclining his head toward a corner.

Hal and a Japanese were talking earnestly.  At any rate, the little
brown man was.  Hal was listening, occasionally shaking his head.
Then Hastings happened to espy his chums.  He turned to the Japanese,
to take his leave, but the little brown man followed him across the
floor, still talking in low tones.

"Captain Nakasura has been trying to interest me in the idea that we
three go over to Japan, under a three years' contract, to act as
instructors and advisers in submarine work," Hal told his comrades.

"And I have high hope that you will see matter same as I do," smiled
the Japanese attache persistently.

"We shan't," Jack declared, shaking his head, emphatically.  "Captain,
you are the third, representing also the third nation, that has just
approached us on this matter.  We shall serve no other country than
our own."

"But my government," urged the Japanese officer, "will make you most
handsome offer."

"Do you remember the day when we were leaving Dunhaven, and you tried
to overtake us in a gasoline launch?" asked Jack, with a smile.

"Yes; very well," admitted Nakasura.

"Do you remember that we hoisted the signal, N.D.?  That meant 'nothing
doing,' Captain.  Our answer is the same, and will be, to-morrow and
the next year."

"Ah, here you are!" cried Lieutenant Abercrombie, as he hurried up and
Captain Nakasura vanished beyond middle distance.  "Benson, dear old
fellow, I want just a word with you before dinner is served," continued
the Briton, thrusting his arm through Jack's and drawing him away after
a nod of apology to Hal and Eph.  "Benson, I've had something on my mind
all day; something I have had instructions to broach to you.  I have
been waiting for the right moment.  Now, I must breathe just a word or
two, and then let you think it over during dinner, don't you know?"

"See here," smiled Jack, standing back, sudden suspicion in his eyes.
"Don't tell me you've been instructed to see whether I'll enter the
British submarine service."

"Just that, dear old chap!" beamed Abercrombie, enthusiastically.  "But
how could you guess?  Fact, though!  And not only you, but Hastings
and Somers as well, don't you know!"

"You're the fourth to spring this on us tonight," answered Jack Benson,
soberly.  "And the answer will have to be the same for all of you."

"The same for all of us, dear chap?" demanded Abercrombie.  "How can
that be?"

"The answer in every case is the same," retorted Jack.  "If our own
government doesn't want us, no other government can have us.  We stand
by our own Flag."

"Eh?  What is this?" muttered Lieutenant Ulwin, coming unexpectedly upon
the pair.  "Foreign government competing for you lads, Benson?  This
won't do!"

"Which is what I have just had the honor of telling Mr. Abercrombie,"
smiled Jack, earnestly.




CHAPTER XXIV

THEIR LIVES DEEDED TO THE FLAG


Secretary Sanders, Secretary of the Navy, looked up at the three young
men who stood in line at the right-hand side of his desk.

It was two days later; two days during which Jack, Hal and Eph had had
little to do except roam about Washington and see all the sights of the
National Capital.  This they had varied by dropping in at the United
Service Club.

"Gentlemen," remarked the Secretary of the Navy, "you have not yet been
relieved of your detail to the gunboat 'Sudbury.'"

"It's coming now," thought each of the three boys to himself, with a
great wave of dismay.  "We are to be no longer of the Navy."

"I will give instructions at once," continued Secretary Sanders, "to
have orders issued relieving you from that duty."

"Yes; it has come," muttered Jack, drearily, to himself.  "Our service
with the Navy is over."

"Gentlemen," and now, for a few seconds, the voice of the Secretary
seemed far away indeed, "I am sensible of all you have done for your
country, and above all, of the zeal you have shown.  Besides, I have in
mind the fact that you have made yourselves among the most expert of all
handlers of submarine torpedo boats.  If it can be arranged, I wish to
keep all three of you actively in the United States Navy."

Jack Benson looked up with a gasp.  His comrades were not less astounded.

"I am aware," Mr. Sanders went on, "that we could not expect you to
enlist as mere apprentices.  In your own particular field of submarine
work you are amply fitted to hold officers' commissions.  Yet, under the
law, you cannot be granted commissions until you are twenty-one years
of age.  None of you are quite eighteen.

"Therefore, it has occurred to me that you can be appointed, specially,
with rank, command and pay, until you are twenty-one.  The President
agrees with me in what I have to offer.  You, Mr. Benson, are offered
a special appointment as lieutenant, junior grade, in the United States
Navy.  You, Mr. Hastings, and you, Mr. Somers, are offered special
appointments as ensigns.  You will all have the privileges of your
ranks except the actual commissions.  Yet you will be actual officers,
and entitled to full respect.  Moreover, the President promises that,
when you are twenty-one years of age, you shall have regular commissions
promptly.  In case the President is not re-elected to his office, he
agrees to urge upon his successor in the White House the fulfilment
of the promise.  So, if you accept the special appointments, now,
you are absolutely certain of commissions as soon as you reach the
age of twenty-one.  Perhaps it is only just to add that we are aware
that all three of you have already been offered commissions in foreign
navies, and that you have refused.  Both the President and myself
appreciate your loyalty to your own Flag.  Now, what do you young
gentlemen say to accepting special appointments to run until you are
each twenty-one?"

"Mr. Secretary, it's the brightest, the one great dream with us all,"
Jack Benson replied, hoarsely.  "There is just one thing that could
hold us back.  We really feel in honor bound to Mr. Farnum and Mr.
Pollard to stand by their interests, for they have been our best
friends."

"What do you say to that, Mr. Farnum?" inquired the Secretary.

From behind a screen stepped Jacob Farnum, the Dunhaven shipbuilder.

"Why, see here, boys," began Farnum, a broad smile on his face, "I
received a long wire from Mr. Sanders yesterday.  Dave Pollard and I
talked this thing over, and we decided that the Pollard boat is now
an assured success.  You have put the boats where we can now build
and run them without you.  You are more needed in the Navy.  Now,
Dave and I both urge you to go where we know your hearts are--into
the Navy.  And you will go with all our best wishes.  The government
needs you, now, to handle the boats that we build up at Dunhaven, and
to train war-crews for those boats.  There is only one objection to
your entering the Navy, boys.  You will have to pass upon our boats.
We know you will do that honestly and fearlessly; yet there are many
who would sneer at having boats passed on for the government by young
officers who hold stock in our concern.  Now, the amount of stock
that each of you holds has been growing steadily with each new success
that you have won for us, which if you enter the Navy you should not
own.  So Dave and I offer you ten thousand dollars each for the shares
that you hold.  It is a fair valuation."

"I know it is, if you offer it, Mr. Farnum," Jack Benson replied, with
feeling.

"Then you'll accept, and take your very heart's-wish--the Navy--all
of you?" asked Mr. Farnum.

"I accept both your offer, Mr. Farnum, and, the greater offer of the
Secretary of the Navy," replied Jack, his eyes becoming misty.

"I accept," murmured Hal.

"So do I," from Eph.

"Then, sir," declared Jacob Farnum, turning to the Secretary of the
Navy, "the Flag is richer by three magnificent young followers!"

*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *

Here we must leave the submarine boys for the present, for these events
happened hardly later than yesterday, and there are no new adventures
yet to chronicle.

Donald Graves--Millard--received a severe sentence in the penitentiary.
He is still serving the sentence, of course.  Gray, his accomplice, who
attempted to spirit the drawings outside of the United States, is now
likewise serving a term.

The trial was a swift, nearly secret one.  Daisy Huston was not dragged
into the case at all.  In one respect the trial failed.  Neither culprit
could be forced to tell for which foreign government the dastardly work
had been attempted.  The "Spitfire" returned to Dunhaven, and was later
sold to the government, with several other boats.  Williamson became
the new Pollard captain.

Several foreign governments were deeply disappointed over not being able
to secure the services of the submarine boys.

But Jack, Hal and Eph could be happy nowhere except under their own Flag.

They are now accepted most cordially by all their brother officers,
young and old, in the United States Navy.

For the most part, so far, the duties of our young officers have been
aboard the different boats purchased from the Pollard Company.  Yet,
for the sake of practice and change, they have been, at times, detailed
aboard other classes of craft in the Navy.

We shall now encounter our young acting naval officers in one of their
new fields of special work, in the next volume of this series, which
is published under the title: "_The Submarine Boys And the Smugglers;
Or, Breaking Up the New Jersey Customs Frauds_."  Here we shall find our
talented lads engaged in doing some of their finest work for Uncle Sam's
Government, and under circumstances that will delight every reader.



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