Gasping with the sudden shock, Ken
struck out and got his head above water. Only
a few yards away, he saw Roy still clinging tightly
to the survivor of the dinghy’s crew. He
swam hard towards him and managed to reach him.
‘You!’ gasped Roy, who
hardly seemed to have realised what had happened.
‘The trawler’s gone,’
panted Roy, as he lifted one hand and dashed the salt
water from his eyes. ’Big shell got her.
See, she’s still afloat, but sinking fast.’
Roy gave a groan. He seemed to
be nearly at the end of his strength.
‘The brutes!’ he muttered.
‘We must get hold of the dinghy
again. It’s our one chance,’ said
Ken. ‘Here, let me help you with that chap.’
‘Why, it’s Gill,’
he exclaimed, as he caught the man by the other arm,
and started paddling hard towards the dinghy, which,
caught in the current, was drifting steadily away
It was at this moment that the searchlight
switched suddenly off. Darkness shut down around
them, leaving nothing in sight but the overturned boat,
a dim bulk among the dull ripples.
Roy was almost done as the result
of the exertions he had made in holding up Gill, and
Gill himself weighted them terribly. For two minutes
or more Ken thought they would never reach the boat.
At last they managed it, and then
they had only just strength enough left to haul Gill
up across it and, each with an arm across the keel,
cling and let themselves drift where the current took
‘The skipper said it was out
of the frying pan into the fire,’ said Roy,
with a weak attempt at a laugh. ‘He wasn’t
far out, eh, Ken?’
‘He wasn’t,’ Ken
agreed. ’I say, Roy, he had pluck, hadn’t
he? It took grit to stand by the “Swan”
under a fire like that.’
‘It did,’ said Roy. ‘God rest
his soul,’ he added softly.
Silence fell between them. Ken’s
spirits were sinking in spite of his best efforts
to keep them up. The sea was deadly cold, and
the boat so small that they were only just able to
keep their heads above water. And they knew,
both of them, that their chances of life were not one
in a thousand.
They were right out in mid-straits,
they were still fully nine miles from the southern
entrance, and even if a British warship should come
up to see what had happened to the trawlers, the odds
were enormous against her people spotting them.
Ken strained his eyes through the
gloom, but could neither see nor hear any other craft.
The waters were bare and silent.
‘Roy,’ he said at last,
and it was all he could do to keep his teeth from
chattering. ‘Roy, can’t we manage
to right the dinghy?’
‘You and I might. But what about Gill?’
The question was unanswerable.
It would take all their united strength to turn the
dinghy over. And who was to hold Gill meantime?
No, the case was absolutely desperate.
There was nothing for it but to hang on and continue
hanging on until at last the deadly cold had done its
work, and they dropped off and sank into the darksome
depths beneath them. It was a miserable end,
and Ken’s whole soul rebelled against it.
The guns had ceased firing, there
were no lights anywhere to be seen, the only sound
was the monotonous slap of the ripples against the
hull of the overturned boat and far in
the distance the dull mutter of the guns
down by Sedd-el-Bahr.
Ken felt a dull stupor creeping over
him, a curious sense of unreality. His thoughts
began to wander. So much so that at first he hardly
noticed the curious sucking splash which came from
the water some little distance to the left.
It was Roy who called his attention to it.
’Ken, there’s a thundering
great fish out there. Do they keep sharks in
Before Ken could reply, the splash
was followed by a slight grating sound, then a dull
clank, like two metal plates being lightly struck together.
Hope dawned suddenly in Ken’s
heart, sending a tingling shock through the whole
of his perishing body.
‘That’s no fish,’
he muttered. ‘That’s no fish.’
Then raising himself as high as he could out of the
water he sent a sharp cry for help pealing through
‘Hallo! Hallo! Who’s that?’
Never had Ken been happier to hear the sound of a
‘Three survivors from the “Maid
of Sker,"’ he answered. ’Our boat’s
‘Hang on!’ came the quick reply.
‘We’ll have you out in a jiffy.’
There came low voiced orders, the
low purr of an engine, and a low dark bulk topped
by a curious square-looking turret came gliding towards
‘What is it?’ muttered Roy in a dazed
‘A submarine,’ Ken answered
gladly. ’That’s her conning tower.
Here she comes. Hang on to Gill, or the wash
will take him off.’
A moment later, and the long gray
craft swam up right alongside of the dinghy.
It was the most beautiful bit of steering imaginable.
A hand reached out and pulled the dinghy close against
the hull, and strong arms gripped and lifted the three
Ken felt himself swung gently up the
conning tower, then he was lowered with equal ease
and skill through the open hatch. Within an incredibly
short time he was flat on a mattress laid on the throbbing
steel floor of the submarine.
A keen-faced officer stood beside him.
‘Both the sweepers gone?’ he asked gravely.
’I’m afraid so, sir.
The “Swan” was knocked all to bits, and
we saw the “Maid” sink. I believe
we are the only survivors.’
’We heard the firing, but couldn’t
get here sooner. But you’re in khaki.
’Horan and I are escaped prisoners,
sir. We stole a boat up by Kilid Bahr, and were
picked up by the “Maid.” Gill is the
only man left from the trawler. He was one of
the crew of the “Maid’s” dinghy that
went to help the “Swan’s” people.’
‘Horan and I were trying to save him when the
“Maid” was hit.’
The other nodded approvingly.
’Ah, you’re Australians.
Good men! But I see you’re about all in.
I shan’t bother you with any more questions
now. Williams, see these men have a change, and
a tot of rum. And some of you give ’em a
good rub down. They’re stiff with cold.’
He nodded again and went off.
Williams, a burly torpedo coxswain,
at once took charge of Ken. His big hands were
as tender as a woman’s as he stripped off the
boy’s soaking clothes and substituted for them
a fresh suit of warm lammies. Before putting
them on, he gave Ken such a rubbing with a rough towel
as sent the stagnant blood tingling through every
‘Thanks awfully,’ said
Ken gratefully. ’I say, how’s Gill?
He got knocked silly with the blast of the shell that
sunk the “Swan.” Is he hurt?’
‘He ain’t hit, anyway,’
said Williams. ’He’s swallowed a bit
more salt water than suits his innards, but he’ll
pull round all right, never you fear.
‘Here, drink this down,’
he continued, handing Ken a thick mug full of some
steaming mixture. Ken swallowed it obediently.
It was thick Navy cocoa, laced with a dash of rum.
It sent a grateful warmth through
every inch of Ken’s body, but its immediate
effect was to make him so drowsy that his eyes began
‘That’s all right,’
he heard Williams remark in a satisfied voice.
’Forty winks won’t do you no manner of
harm.’ The last thing Ken remembered was
being wrapped in a blanket. Then he dropped back
on the mattress and almost before his head reached
it was sound asleep.
He woke to the purr of engines and
a warm thick atmosphere smelling strongly of oil and
illuminated by white electric lamps. For the moment
he could not imagine where he was nor what had happened.
It was not until he rolled over and saw Roy lying
stretched on another mattress beside him, and Gill
a little beyond, that any sort of recollection came
back to him.
He stretched himself. He was
sore all over, but otherwise fit enough and very hungry.
Then he sat up.
A burly figure came towards him, walking
with that curiously light-footed tread which becomes
second habit in a submarine. It was Williams,
‘Well, young fellow me lad,’
he remarked genially, ‘how goes it?’
‘Top hole, thanks. A bit empty. That’s
‘If that’s your only trouble, we’ll
soon fix it. Can you walk?’
‘Then come along forrard, and we’ll see
what cooky can do for you.’
Cooky’s efforts consisted in
biscuit, butter, sardines, jam, and lashings of hot
strong tea, to all of which Ken did the fullest justice.
‘And how d’ye like life
under the ocean wave?’ asked Williams, who was
watching Ken’s progress with the eye of a connoisseur.
‘First time I ever tried it,’
said Ken, glancing round the long, narrow interior
which seemed merely a packing case for a maze of intricate
machinery. ‘What is she? What class
’She’s G 2, sonny, and
don’t you forget it. The last word in submarine
gadgets. Twenty knots on the surface, and twelve
submerged. Carries eight o’ the biggest
and best torpedoes, any one o’ which is warranted
to knock the stuffing out o’ the “Goeben”
or any other o’ Weeping Willy’s super-skulkers.’
‘Where are we now?’ inquired Ken with
‘Couldn’t say precisely.
But somewheres about ten fathom below the shinin’
surface of the Dardanelles.’
Ken felt a queer thrill. There
was something uncanny in the thought that they were
spinning along, sixty feet below the sea-level, cut
off from all the living world.
‘Pass the word the commander
wishes to see Carrington,’ came a voice.
‘Lootenant Strang wants you,’
said Williams. ’Go right aft. Sentry’ll
show you. And go careful, mind you. Submarines
ain’t the sort o’ shops for foot races.’
Ken went cautiously back past the
amazing tangle of spinning, whirling machinery.
Where the long interior narrowed to the stern hung
a thick curtain. The sentry silently parted it,
and Ken found himself in the officer’s quarters
of G2. They were as plain as the steerage on a
liner. Just two bunks and in the middle a table
at which Lieutenant Strang sat, busily writing.
He glanced up as Ken entered, and,
saluting, stood to attention. Ken noticed, with
inward approval, the strength and intelligence in the
clean-cut features of the commanding officer.
‘Feeling better, Carrington?’
‘Quite all right, sir, thank you.’
‘I want to hear what you’ve been doing.
Let’s have the whole yarn.’
Ken told him. He put it as shortly
as he could, but gave his story clearly and well.
Lieutenant Strang listened with the deepest attention.
‘’Pon my word, you and
your chum have been going it some!’ he remarked
when Ken at last finished. ’So you’re
a son of Captain Carrington? How is it you did
not take a commission?’
‘I didn’t think I had
any right to it, sir,’ Ken answered simply.
’It seemed to me it was the sort of thing one
ought to win.’
’Just so. I dare say you
are right. I hope you’ll get one anyhow.
But see here, I can’t put you ashore. We’re
going north, not south.’
‘Going up through the Straits,
sir?’ exclaimed Ken. ’We’ve
gone. We’re opposite Bulair this minute,
so far as I can judge.’