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A great mass of water shot up into the air, like a compressed geyser. Before the column of water had had time to subside big bubbles of air came up in myriads and burst on the surface. The torpedo had sped past by less than five feet from her rudder. Another turn, and Dave came up with the scene of the explosion.

Oh, cheerful sight!

H. Irving Hancock

The water was mottled with great patches of oil. More cheering still, sundered bits of wooden fittings from a submarine floated on the water. Two dead bodies also drifted on the swells; the remaining Huns on the shattered craft must have gone down with the sea pest. Word of the bomb hit had been signalled along the line. It was hard indeed that the soldiers were not allowed to cheer!

The sun had risen through a haze, which is in favor of a fleet on the defensive, as there is not so much glare from the water to confuse the vision of lookouts. However, there was no attack in the next hour. The fleet continued on its way only as swiftly as the slowest transport could move, for it is an axiom at sea that the speed of a fleet is the speed of its slowest ship.

Did you see that destroyer? I tell you, fellows, after all, submarines are good only for sinking unarmed schooners. You wait! But the long quiet proved too good to last. The almost simultaneous barking of guns from three troopships and from two destroyers called swift attention to the fact that the fusillade was aimed at a periscope off starboard. Nearly a dozen shells struck the water all around the spot where the periscope had vanished. From about the same point a light streak appeared on the water.

Signalling back instructions to the transports as to their course, a destroyer darted out of line to go after the submarine after the fashion that Darrin had employed. Ere long the destroyer swerved in a sharp curve and headed back for her place in the escort line, signalling at the same time:.

A shell from one of the guns engaged hit the pest under water and poured oil on the troubled waters. In the meantime, the endangered transport, which had promptly and intelligently obeyed the steering order, had barely escaped the torpedo fired at her. Spirits now ran high in the troopship fleet. After that the fleet proceeded on its uninterrupted way for so long a time that the noon meal had been eaten calmly by the voyaging soldiers. Few of them thought it worth while to cut that meal short in order to go on deck again. Especially did Pete and his friends feel indifferent to the best that the Huns could do out here on the water.

Just then there came a terrific shock. It was an explosion, followed by a crash that caused the ship to stagger over to starboard, though she quickly righted herself. Then, ashamed of his nervousness, Pete stopped running and tuned down to a slow walk toward the companionway stairs from the mess deck. Others were running, with a resulting jam on the stairs.

Stop shoving, you fellows.

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Soon staff and line officers appeared at the head of the stairs, issuing sharp, steady commands that stopped all signs of a possible panic. His coolness, and his willingness to be on the mess deck calmed the excitement of many a young soldier who was eager to get up to the spar deck. From a deck rail in front of the chart-house a major with a lusty voice shouted down:.

This ship, if she sinks, will be a long time doing it. There will be time to get every man off, and it will be done if you listen to orders and obey them. Only here and there was there a soldier who did not have his life belt on. These now scrambled for their belts.

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From the flagship of the destroyers at the head of the line swift signals were wigwagged and repeated down the lines. One of them read:. Instantly Dave ordered the full-speed signal telegraphed to the engine room, then added, as the destroyer raced down the line:. Briggs will take charge of manning and lowering our two launches and the cutters, and will stand by to lower away.

The Project Gutenberg eBook of Dave Darrin on Mediterranean Service, by H. Irving Hancock.

With the hawser made fast the destroyer was towing the stricken transport out of the fleet line. Overboard went the launches and cutters, and Lieutenant Briggs was soon alongside the transport, which was also lowering well-filled lifeboats. On orders from the commander of the destroyer flotilla, other troopships halted long enough to take on the rescued ones.

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Never had naval small craft worked at greater speed, yet necessity moved faster. The transport had by now heeled well over to port.

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  • She could not keep afloat much longer. Soldiers gathered at the points indicated, and sprang overboard when ordered to do so. These were directed to seek warm quarters below where they could dry their clothing. Many of the soldiers preferred to remain on deck to aid in the rescue of their comrades. At last, when no more heads appeared on the water, and no more men were in evidence on the decks of the sinking transport, the order was signalled for the rescue-work destroyers to stand clear.

    Destroyer and troopship guns, up near the head of the line, had suddenly begun blazing away. Half a dozen periscopes showed short lengths, briefly, above the water, but the number of faint streaks across the sea showed that other enemy submarines were attacking without first taking periscope sights. Remember that fractions of seconds count in carrying out orders now. Then Lieutenant Beatty caught sight of a periscope above the water, some eight hundred yards away. The biggest submarine sea fight of all was now on! Wherever a periscope showed itself it was bound to invite fire from half a dozen gunners in almost the same instant.

    To most of the soldiers it seemed hard to be deprived of a view of the only thing that interested them, but Navy officers, in issuing orders, have a way of speaking that does not admit of doubt as to their meaning. Dave turned this time; the telltale line was there. Suddenly, not more than two hundred yards away, a periscope reared itself in their path, though not more than two feet of its length appeared above the water.

    Intensely alert, Lieutenant Beatty himself sighted and gave the order to fire. Nor was this an easy task, for the destroyer, to avoid ramming and ripping out part of its own hull, veered aside from the direct line. The shell gave a good report of itself. It was plain that it had made a hit of some sort, though below the surface.

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    The destroyer swung again to face its prey. Higher came the periscope, then the conning tower emerged. It was then observed that the conning tower had been struck and a hole put through it on one side. Small though the hole was, if the craft had submerged further instead of rising, she would have been submerged for all time.

    Lieutenant Beatty calmly sighted for the next shot. Just as the deck of the undersea boat came awash the manhole sprang open and the heads of two German sailors appeared.

    That shot could not have been better placed. It struck the tower fairly, exploding inside. It killed both men at the manhole, hurling them into the sea.