The pirates followed instructions. To Frank Captain Jack said:
"I would advise you not to cry out when he descends. If you do it may be necessary to shoot him."
Frank realized the value of this reasoning and promised to say nothing. Williams and Captain Glenn also signified their intention to remain quiet.
Meanwhile, Jack, on deck, scanned the sea through the blackness in an effort to pick up the German raider if she still remained afloat. As his eyes became accustomed to the darkness, he saw what he believed was a mass of wreckage some distance away. Gradually the shape in the water became more distinct.
It was indeed the wreckage of the German raider that Jack beheld there in the darkness.
"Pretty good shooting, Jack, old boy," the lad told himself. "Can't tell whether the crew went down or has made off in the boats. However, there is nothing we can do for them. Guess I'd better be getting back below."
He descended the ladder.
As he stepped from the bottom rung, many hands seized him from behind and he was carried to the deck. Jack struck out with both hands and kicked with both feet. Grunts told him that several of these blows had found their mark.
But the odds against him were too great. Gradually he was borne back and at last, it seemed to the lad, many men sat on his chest. He heard the voice of Captain Jack:
"Bind him securely, men."
Jack quit struggling and lay still.
Two minutes later he was securely bound and permitted to stand. Captain Jack grinned at him.
"He laughs best who laughs last," he quoted, with a smile.
"So he does," Jack agreed, "but I don't think this is the last laugh."
"Well," said Captain Jack, "you've been on deck, did your torpedo go home?"
"It did," said Jack quietly.
"That means," said Captain Jack, "that I probably shall have trouble with the Germans on Kaiserland. They won't rest until they clear up the mystery. I ought to have you shot."
"Suit yourself," said Jack briefly.
For a moment the pirate chief eyed the lad angrily. Then he said:
"I'll decide on your punishment later. Meanwhile, we'll get back to the island."
It was the afternoon following return of the submarine to the harbor of, Kaiserland. Frank, Jack, Captain Glenn and Williams found themselves the center of a body of armed men. They were marching inland.
Frank hailed Captain Jack, who marched near the head of the procession.
"Where are you taking us?" he demanded.
"I'd thought about turning you over to the Germans," replied Captain Jack, dropping back and falling in alongside Frank.
"I guess you won't do that," said Frank.
"Why won't I?"
"Because it wouldn't be healthy for you. The Germans would think you had a hand in the sinking of the raider."
"Well, you're right, I guess, so I won't turn you over to the Germans right now. But I've a nice little place away back in the forest, where I think you will be safe enough until it is time for me to leave this island for good."
"So you have decided to give up piracy, eh?" asked Frank.
"Almost. One more good haul and I'll have enough to keep me in plenty the rest of my days. My men, too, will be provided for. Why should we keep this up, when we are sure to be caught sooner or later?"
"I'm glad you've seen the light; but if you'll take my advice, you'll quit this business without waiting for the next haul, as you term it."
Captain Jack shook his head.
"No," he said, "I'm decided on that."
"By the way," said Frank, "where is this place you are taking us?"
"Northern end of the island," said Captain Jack. "Most of my men are there. They'll guard you safe enough. In fact, I may say that the place I am taking you is my headquarters. There I have my office, my wireless apparatus and many other things. Oh, yes, you'll be safe enough there."
"Suit yourself," said Frank, "only remember that some day you will answer for your crimes. By the way, what have you done with our two sailor?"
"Done with them?" repeated Captain Jack. "I haven't done anything with them. They have joined my band."
"Is that so?" returned Frank. "I was afraid of it. They told me they would join if you gave them a chance, but I didn't believe it. Oh, well, I guess they will swing along with the rest of you when the time comes."
Captain Jack left Frank's side and moved to the head of the procession again. He smiled at Jack as he passed. Apparently he bore no grudge for the way the lad had maltreated him aboard the submarine.
"This Captain Jack is a pretty decent sort of a pirate," said Jack. "Too bad he won't run straight."
"Decent or not," said Captain Glenn, "a pirate's a pirate, and if we can manage to get out of his clutches it's up to us to do it."
"Right, sir," agreed Williams. "If we can get a couple of guns apiece and get clear, I'll guarantee we can make considerable trouble for Mr. Pirate before he nabs us again."
"We'll take advantage of the first opportunity that presents itself," said Frank, "no matter how small the chance of success may seem."
"And then what?" Jack wanted to know.
"We'll let the future take care of itself," said Captain Glenn quietly.
Darkness was falling when Captain Jack announced that they were nearing the end of their journey.
"I'm glad of that," said Frank. "Hope there will be a good supper ready."
"Don't you fret," laughed the pirate chief, "I'm not one of those old-fashioned pirates who starved his captives to death."
"I'm glad to hear that, Captain," declared Jack.
"Hope you don't fatten us up too much before the feast, though."
Again Captain Jack laughed, but he made no reply.
Fifteen minutes later the four prisoners made out in the semi-darkness what appeared to be a large stockade.
"Afraid of Indians, Captain?" asked Frank.
"No; Germans," was the response. "We built that wall the better to defend ourselves if we are attacked."
"You're far-seeing, at all events," declared Jack.
Half a dozen men advanced from the enclosure to meet Captain Jack and his party. The pirate chief saluted them and they greeted him cordially.
From the top of a wooded building inside the enclosure Frank made out a large wireless aerial.
"Captain Jack is a modern pirate, all right," the lad told himself.
"Send Jackson to me," ordered Captain Jack, as he followed his prisoners into the large wooden building.
A man left the room, but reappeared a few moments later, followed by a man of extremely large stature.
"Jackson," said Captain Jack, and indicated the four captives with a sweeping gesture, "these men are prisoners and I want them well guarded. You'll lock them up in the strong room and post guards outside. You will keep the keys to the door yourself. No one must enter without my permission. Do you understand?"
"Yes, sir," replied Jackson.
"Good. Take them away, then."
Jackson motioned the prisoners to precede him through the door. As Frank passed out, Captain Jack called:
"I'll do myself the pleasure of calling on you tomorrow."
The big building in which the prisoners found themselves was partitioned off into a number of rooms. As they passed a door, Jack heard a faint clicking.
"Wireless room there," he said aloud.
Frank nodded in the half light.
"That's where Captain Jack gets all his tips," he said.
At the end of a long hall, the prisoners brought up against a stout door. Jackson advanced, produced a key and flung the door open.
"This will be your prison," he said. "You will find no windows, but I will provide you with sufficient candles and matches. It will do no good to try to escape as the door is of the stoutest oak; but even if you did batter it down you would find guards without and the noise would arouse the rest of us. You will find bunks inside."
"Are you going to leave us tied up like this?" demanded Frank, extending his bound hands.
"Why, I guess there is no need of that," said Jackson.
He produced a knife and cut the cords. The prisoners entered the large room. Jackson drew half a dozen candles and a quantity of matches from his pocket. These he gave to Jack.
"Make yourselves as comfortable as possible," he said.
He shut the door and locked it from the outside.
With the candles lighting up the interior of the room, the prisoners surveyed their surroundings. The room contained half a dozen hard chairs and as many bunks. There was a single table. That was all.
"Not a very presentable place, if you ask me," declared Frank.
"But a first class prison," was Williams' comment.
All that night and the next day the prisoners remained there without sight of a human face save that of Jackson who himself brought them their meals. Captain Jack failed to keep his promise to call.
"I'm getting tired of this place," declared Frank, as he made ready for bed the following night.
"Same here," said Jack, "but what are we going to do about it?"
The answer came from an unexpected source.
The stout door creaked slightly. A moment later the head of the sailor Allen appeared within. He laid a finger to his lips and uttered a warning.
"S-h-sh!" as he entered the room. Timothy appeared behind him.
From their pockets the two sailors produced twelve Colt automatics, loaded, and an extra supply of ammunition. They motioned the prisoners to help themselves.
"But why all this?" demanded Frank in a low voice. "I thought you fellows had become pirates."
"So did we, sir," whispered Timothy, "but when we found they had locked you up here we changed our minds."
"How'd you get in?"
"Well," said Allen, grinning, "we were put on watch. Jackson appeared a few minutes ago to see that everything was 0. K. Timothy, here, bumped him over the head with the butt of his gun. Then we took the key and opened the door. That's all, sir."
"You've done well," said Captain Glenn. "The next thing is to get out of here."
"No difficulty there," said Allen. "Everybody is asleep."
"Let's go, then," said Frank.
Armed with two revolvers apiece, the six left the room quietly. They were not accosted as they made their way through the darkened building. They passed noiselessly into the stockade, but there they found that the heavy gates were barred.
"Nothing to do but go over the top," whispered Frank.
Jack boosted Frank up. Sitting astride the wall, Frank lent the others a helping hand and soon they were over the wall.
"Guess it's up to us to lose ourselves in the jungles," said Frank dryly. "Come on."
The others followed. Five minutes later they were out of sight from the stockade. They plunged into the darkness among the great trees.
CAPTURING THE WIRELESS STATION
Morning. As the first faint streak of light came streaming over the treetops and dimly lighted the forest itself, Frank stirred his five sleeping comrades with the toe of his boot.
"Time to get up," he said in a low voice to each.
Since midnight the lad had stood guard. There was little likelihood, the friends knew, that their escape would be discovered before morning, but it had been decided that watch should be kept nevertheless, Jack had stood watch until midnight, after which Frank took up the vigil.
With all upon their feet now, Frank called a council of war.
"We've got to decide what to do," he said.
We've come away without as much as a bite to eat. It's likely that we can rustle up something in the forest, also water to quench our thirsts, but I'm in favor of more substantial food."
"What do you suggest, then?" asked Williams.
"Well," said Frank, "it's certain that our absence will be discovered soon after daylight. Naturally they'll make a search for us, because Captain Jack will not feel easy while we are at large. I figure that he will scout the forest with the bulk of his men, leaving the so-called fort lightly guarded. My plan would be to work back toward the enemy, and when we hear them coming take shelter in the tops of these big trees. When they have gone by, we'll come down and go to the fort. There we'll get all the chow we want."
"That's not a bad plan," decided Jack, "but you haven't carried it far enough, Frank."
"What do you mean?" asked Frank.
"Well," said Jack, "we can also take charge of the wireless room. You know I have had some experience in wireless telegraphy. Maybe we can pick up an American ship of war."
"By George! A good idea!" exclaimed Captain Glenn. "But we can't tell them where we are."
"That's true, too," said Jack, "but we can fix our location so closely that they should be able to find us."
"It's worth trying, anyhow," declared Williams.
"All right, then," said Jack. "We may as well be on the move."
Jack took the lead and they retraced the route they had traversed in their flight through the night.
It seemed to all members of the party that they had walked for hours, when Jack suddenly called a halt.
"Thought I heard voices," he said. "Guess we'd better play safe. Our place now is up in the trees."
He scanned the big trees near by. A short distance away were two even larger than the rest. Their branches were so thick that Jack felt sure they would form a perfect screen.
"Let's climb," he said.
Jack clambered up the nearest tree. Captain Glenn and Williams followed him. Frank, Timothy and Allen swung themselves into the other. There, high up among the branches, they sat quietly, waiting.
Their patience was rewarded at last. An hour later, peeping from his hiding place, Frank saw the familiar figure of Captain Jack. To right and left his men were beating the brush in an effort to find the fugitives. Each man carried a rifle ready for instant use.
Frank smiled to himself.
"You want to look up and not down," he said softly.
Captain Jack was exhorting his men to greater pains.
"Don't miss an inch of the ground," he shouted. "We're bound to find them sooner or later. Five hundred dollars in gold to the man who discovers them first. Keep working, men, and be careful."
The searchers passed directly beneath the trees in which the fugitives were hiding. It would have been an easy matter for Frank or any of the others to have killed Captain Jack and several of his men with a single volley, but none could bring himself to shoot down a man in cold blood. Besides, a single shot would have precipitated a battle, and all the fugitives knew that their best chance of safety lay in avoiding discovery.
Directly beneath the tree in which Frank was hiding, Captain Jack paused and lighted his pipe. Then, with a word to his men, he passed on.
The fugitives in the trees almost held their breath for fear they would betray their hiding place. For an hour after the pirates had passed they remained perfectly motionless, fearing that one or more men had perhaps lagged behind.
Then Jack slid down the tree and the others followed him.
"Now for the fort," cried Jack.
The six made off through the woods as fast as possible. Just beyond the trees at the edge of the clearing in which the fort stood, Jack, who had appointed himself commander of the expedition, halted.
"I don't know whether the gate is locked or not," he said. "Chances are, though, that it's not. Neither can we tell how many men are within or whether they are on guard. I believe, however, that we will be safe enough if we cross the clearing at a run. They won't hardly be looking for us to come back."
"You're right, Templeton," said Captain Glenn.
"Let's be moving, then," said Frank impatiently. "Ready?" asked Jack, looking the others over.
Every man held an automatic ready for action in each hand.
"All ready," said Williams.
"Then follow me!"
Jack dashed from the forest straight toward the fort. Spreading out a trifle, so as to make as poor marks as possible should they be discovered, the others dashed after him.
No one opposed their advance across the open and they reached the gate without discovery here they halted a minute. Then Jack laid his shoulder to the gate and pushed.
The gate flew open and the six rushed inside.
At the door to the fort itself stood a single figure. He took one look at the men bearing down on him, fired at them without taking aim and dashed inside.
"Quick! Before he locks the door!" shouted Jack.
He leaped forward and succeeded in putting his foot in the door before the man could close it.
"Lend me a hand here and force the door!" the lad cried.
Captain Glenn and Williams threw their weight against it. The door was flung open. Jack ducked as he ran in and it was well that he did so.
There was a flash and a bullet sped over his head. Before the man could fire again, Jack had closed with him and reversing his revolver quickly, brought the butt down on the man's head with all his force. The pirate toppled to the floor.
Jack jumped across the inert body. Frank was at his heels.
At the far end of the main room four men barred progress. Frank's revolvers spoke sharply twice as he ran forward and two men dropped. Jack felt a twinge of pain in his left side as he advanced and realized that he had been hit. He did not falter, however. His own revolvers spoke and the door to the next room was closed.
The room in which the six now found themselves was the main room in the fort. Doors led off from three directions, one, as Jack knew, to the wireless room.
"Guard the doors!" shouted Jack. "Shoot the first head you see!"
The others asked no questions but took their positions.
"Frank," said Jack, "we want to get into that wireless room. I don't know how many men there may be in there. I'm going to break in the door. You cover me."
Frank advanced and took position behind Jack.
The latter drew back a bit, then dashed at the door. It was of stout oak, this door, but beneath Jack's weight, the lock was shattered.
As the lad plunged head foremost into the room, there were several sharp flashes as revolvers spat at him. A bullet plowed through his left shoulder, but he took no heed, nor did it even stop his rush.
At one side of the room stood three men with leveled revolvers. Into these Jack pitched headlong before they could fire again.
On the opposite side of the room stood two more men. Frank, dashing into the room right behind Jack, opened on these with his revolvers. One dropped before he could return the lad's fire, but a bullet from the second man's revolver grazed the lobe of Frank's right ear. But the man never fired again. Another bullet from Frank's automatic brought him to the floor.
Jack, when he pitched in among the three men, fired twice - once with each revolver. The enemy also fired, but their nerves were so unsteady at this unexpected rush that the bullets went wild.
Fighting was too close now to bring revolvers into play, so Jack used his automatics as clubs.
A man toppled over before a powerful blow. Frank now came to Jack's aid.
He poked his revolver into one man's back and commanded:
The command was obeyed on the instant. At the same moment the other pirate, now clenched in Jack's powerful arms, cried out:
Jack released him. The two lads were now undisputed masters of the field. They returned to the other room, pushing their captives out ahead of them.
AN "S. 0. S." CALL
"By Jove, Jack," said Captain Glenn, as the lads and their prisoners appeared, "that's what I call quick action. How many more men do you suppose there are here now?"
"I don't know," was the lad's reply. "I'll ask our friends here." He shook the man nearest him, roughly. "How many more men in the fort?" he demanded.
This prisoner chanced to be the wireless operator, so he spoke English.
"No more, sir, I am sure," he said fearfully.
"Don't you lie to me," said Jack sternly.
"I'm not lying," protested the operator. "Ask Pedro there, if you do not believe me."
Jack whirled on the second captive.
"How many?" he demanded of the South American.
"No more, senor," was the man's quaking response.
"Maybe not," said Jack, "but if I find you have not told me the truth, it will be the worse for you. Captain Glenn, will you have these fellows tied up? Then the rest of you stand guard at the door. See if you can repair that outer door. Captain Jack and the others will be back some time and we don't want to be taken by surprise. I'll have a little session with the wireless."
"How about your wounds?" asked Williams.
"Scratches," replied Jack briefly. "I don't have time to bother with them now. I'll have 'em fixed up later. Now you fellows do as I tell you."
The others recognized Jack's authority. The prisoners were bound and locked in another room. Captain Glenn and Williams stood guard at the door, that they might not be surprised by the return of the pirates.
Frank started a tour of inspection with the an announcement that he would gather whatever firearms he could find and make sure there were no pirates in the fort. He also bound up the men who had been wounded in the fighting. The dead men he laid on cots until such time as they could be given burial.
Jack took the operator's seat in the wireless room and adjusted the receiver to his head. Then he began to experiment with the key. Directly sharp flashes of light from the aerial without showed that be was flashing messages into space.
For perhaps an hour he endeavored in vain to pick up a ship or a station in any of the South American countries. The signature he put to each message was "J. T." — his own initials, but he could think of none better.
As he was about to give up his tests as a failure, he suddenly caught a faint clicking.
"J. T," came faintly to his ears.
He answered promptly.
"Who are you?" was the message he sent.
"U. S. cruiser Virginia," was the reply. "Who are you?"
"Survivors of merchant ship Albatross," Jack flashed back. "Castaways on uncharted island."
"What's your location?"
"Don't know. But there is a German submarine base on this island."
The wireless seemed nervous as the next message came in.
"Island called Kaiserland. There are also a nest of pirates here. We've just captured the wireless room."
"How long can you hold out?"
"Good! I'll summon assistance and we'll search South American waters thoroughly. We'll find you sooner or later."
"Very well," Jack flashed back, "but be careful. These waters are infested with the enemy and they'll sink you if possble."
"Don't worry about us," was the Virginia's reply. "We can take care of ourselves. Can't you give me an idea where you are?"
Jack thought rapidly. Then he sent this:
"We were aboard a pirate ship three nights ago and sank a German raider 75 miles from this island. If you can pick up the wreck, we are due west."
"Thanks. We'll find it if it is still afloat. What's the strength of this pirate crew?"
"About fifty men."
"And the strength of the German submarine base, together with officers and men; also equipment?"
"Don't know," was Jack's reply. "I've only the pirate chief's word that there is a German submarine base. He is using a submarine stolen from the German as his own."
"Maybe he is lying to you," said the Virginia's wireless.
"Don't you believe it," Jack flashed back. "They're on this island all right."
"They won't be long, thanks to you," was the answer. "I'll pick you up later. I'm going to summon help."
The clicking of the wireless ceased. Jack waited impatiently for his call again, and at length it came.
"I've relayed your message to Washington," said the wireless. "I will have a fleet down here before long, but we'll come for you alone if necessary."
"Thanks," said Jack, "I —"
The lad broke off as Frank appeared in the door with a cry.
"Pirates coming back, Jack!" he cried. "Come on."
Jack delayed long enough to send this message:
"Pirates coming. Have to quit talking and fight. More later."
Before he removed the instrument from his head he caught this reply:
"Lick 'em good! Good luck."
Jack smiled to himself as he hurried from the wireless room and joined Frank and the others without.
"We may not lick 'em," he muttered, "but they'll know they've been in a fight."
Through the single window in the room Jack saw the returning pirates, Captain Jack in the lead, returning slowly.
"The good captain will be rather surprised when he finds his fortress has changed hands in his absence," said Jack to Frank.
"Rather," agreed Frank. "Now, what's the best plan? Step out and warn them away, or let them come close and do it then?"
"Let 'em come close," advised Jack. "There's only one window here to guard and we can do that without trouble. They don't have any artillery, so they can't batter down the door. Rifles won't do it. Let 'em come close and we'll give them a little scare."
Captain Jack led his pirate force toward the fort, unconscious of the danger that lay within. Captain Glenn and Williams had repaired the outer door so that it was now as strong as it had ever been.
Inside the stockade itself, Captain Jack approached the door wearily. He had had a hard and unsuccessful day and he was in no pleasant frame of mind. The door refused to budge when he pushed on it. Captain Jack raised his voice in a shout.
"I say there, Lawrence, what do you mean by locking me out? Open that door at once." For answer Jack opened the little window, and poking an automatic out before him, he said softly:
"Lawrence is a good pirate now, captain. We have him safely tied up."
Captain Jack stepped back in consternation. Then he reached for his gun.
"Hold on there!" shouted Jack. "I don't want to kill you, but I will if you make another move like that. Stand still now, like a real good pirate, and listen to what I have to say."
Captain Jack glared at Jack malevolently and for a moment it seemed that he might risk a shot for a chance to draw. Then his hands dropped to his side.
"All right," he said. "I'm listening."
"We're in command of this fort now," said Jack, "and we're going to stay in possession. You and the rest of your pirates will have to stay outside. Also you will have to rustle your own grub. We need all we have in here. Don't make the mistake of trying to catch us napping. We'll always be on guard, and you will find you are barking up the wrong tree. That's all. I'll give you five minutes to get out of range."
"So you've become pirates yourself, eh?" said Captain Jack, trying to keep his temper. "You steal our grub, and —"
"That's enough," said Jack, flourishing his revolver. "Your five minutes are growing short."
Captain Jack shook a threatening fist at Jack Templeton.
"I'll go!" he shouted, "but I'll come back and when I do you are going to be the sorriest Englishman I ever saw. You can lay to that. You can't make a fool of Captain Jack and live."
"I couldn't make a fool of you," said Jack. "That job was done before I ever saw you. Now go!"
A moment longer Captain Jack hesitated; then, as Jack raised his revolver, he turned and strode away.
The remainder of the pirates followed their chief.
CAPTURE OF CAPTAIN JACK
"He's telling the truth," said Jack, as he withdrew his head and shut the window. "He'll be back, all right, but I don't believe he'll try it tonight."
"Why?" asked Captain Glenn.
"Because he will figure that is what we expect him to do. No, I believe we will be secure enough here to-night."
"That's pretty good reasoning, Jack," said Frank. "But we'll be ready for the pirates when they do come."
"Nevertheless, it would be well to sleep with one eye open, so to speak," said Williams.
"Oh, we'll stand guard," said Jack. "We will not lay ourselves open to surprise by all going to bed at the same time. To my mind the night should be divided into three watches, as should the day. There are six of us. That means four hours' guard duty apiece."
"That's reasonable enough," Frank agreed. I'll take the first watch, if it's agreeable."
"Any way suits me," declared Captain Glenn.
"Then I'll pick you for second watch, Captain," said Jack. "I'll take the third. That will leave the day watch for Williams, Allen and Timothy."
Thus it was arranged. Frank began his watch at six o'clock that evening.
It was about an hour later when, as the others had gathered about them, Frank conceived a brilliant idea.
"By George!" he exclaimed suddenly.
"What's up?" asked Jack.
"Well," replied Frank, "I think I've got a plan that will save a lot of trouble."
"Let's hear it," said Williams.
"According to Jack's reasoning," said Frank, "we have little to fear from the pirates tonight."
"Right," said Jack. "What of it?"
"If your reasoning is good — and I believe it is," Frank continued, "why can't we make a sortie tonight and capture the estimable Captain Jack? That would settle the whole business. Pirates without a leader would be like a ship without a rudder. What do you think about it?"
Jack considered the plan carefully before vouchsafing a reply. At length he said:
"Your plan, Frank, has all the earmarks of being successful. I believe you have solved the problem."
"So do I," declared Williams.
"I'm not so sure," said Captain Glenn. "Of course, no one will dispute that Frank's plan will solve the solution if it is successfully carried out. But there's the trouble. Should it fail, chances are some of us wouldn't be good for anything more. Besides, it would leave a harder task for those who survived."
"' Nothing risked, nothing gained," said Frank.
"That's true enough," said Captain Glenn, "but —"
"There is no use arguing," declared Jack. "Time grows short. Either we adopt the plan or we don't. We'll put it to vote. Frank, of course, votes for the plan and so do I. How about you, Williams?"
"Aye, sir," was the reply.
"Good! That's three. One more vote and it's decided. How about you, Timothy?"
"I vote yes," returned the sailor.
"That settles it, then," said Jack. "Captain Glenn, you're in the minority."
"All right," said the captain. "I'll make the vote unanimous if Allen is agreeable."
"Suits me, sir," was the reply.
"As it's my, plan," said Frank, "I ask to be allowed to lead the sortie. Some of us, of course, must stay here to protect the retreat of the others should they come back in a hurry."
"You're the doctor, Frank," said Jack.
"Very well. Then I elect to have you stay behind, Jack. Captain Glenn, Williams and I will do the work. You fellows who remain will be ready to admit us when we return."
"Trouble is," said Captain Glenn, "we don't know just where the pirates are encamped."
"I imagine we won't have much trouble finding out," said Frank.
"Then there is another thing," said Williams. "They may see us when we emerge from the stockade."
"I think not," said Frank. "First we will extinguish all lights. We can pass from the fort into the stockade, of course, without danger of being seen. Fortunately the night is dark. I am sure we can slip into the open unobserved."
"It's worth trying, at all events," declared Jack.
And so it was decided.
It was half past eleven o'clock by Jack's watch when Frank led the way from the fort. Behind him came Captain Glenn. Williams brought up the rear. Immediately they were outside, Jack closed and barred the door. Then he took up his silent vigil at the little window, prepared to unbar the door at a moment's notice should he see the others returning.
The three without flitted from the stockade like shadows. The night, as Frank had said, was very dark. Outside the stockade, the three threw themselves to the ground and crawled quietly toward the not far distant forest. They reached the shelter of the trees safely, then got to their feet.
Frank, acting upon impulse, led the way to the left, passing further into the forest as he advanced. After half an hour of careful walking, he stopped suddenly. The others halted at his side.
Frank pointed into the darkness. There, not ten yards away, Jay several sleeping figures. Frank knew they were members of the pirate band. The thing to do now was to single out the figure of Captain Jack.
Motioning the others to follow him, Frank stepped carefully in among the prostrate forms. He scanned each sleeper carefully, and at last he came upon a figure that he felt certain was the pirate captain.
This figure lay at full length, his face buried in one arm so Frank could not distinguish his features. But from the man's general build, the lad felt certain that he had picked the right man.
He motioned Captain Glenn and Williams to step close. Frank drew a previously prepared gag from his pocket and bent over the sleeper. Captain Glenn presented the muzzles of a pair of automatics squarely at the man, and Williams stooped over, armed with a length of rope. These precautions taken, Frank stirred the sleeper gently.
The man turned over and as he did so Frank clapped the gag to his mouth and tied it quickly. Then he lent a hand to Williams, and in spite of the gurgled protest of the victim, bound his hands. Frank then looked into the man's face.
He had picked aright. The man was Captain Jack.
The pirate, gazing into the weapons held by Captain Glenn, became suddenly quiet. Frank motioned him to proceed the way they had come. Captain Jack did so and stepped carefully over the sleeping men, as Frank, in a low voice, warned him to do.
Presently the three companions and their prisoner were beyond the circle of sleeping command.
"Now hurry," said Frank in a low voice.
At the same moment Captain Jack, in some manner, loosened the gag in his mouth and his voice rang out in a shout.
"Help! Help, men! Help!"
Frank realized the uselessness of further caution.
"Run!" he cried.
He whipped out his revolver, and as Captain Jack would have lingered, he fired at the ground. The bullet kicked up the shrubbery and the Captain, apparently believing the lad had attempted to shoot him, took to his heels with the others.
From behind came the sounds of confusion as the pirates, slumber-stricken, got to their feet, took in the situation and dashed to the chief's aid.
"Run your hardest!" cried Frank. "Don't hesitate or we shall be shot down as we cross the open."
But the moment gained as the pirates rubbed the sleep from their eyes sufficed.
Several times Frank urged Captain Jack to greater efforts by kicking up the dirt at his heels with a bullet from his revolver; but they entered the protection of the stockade at the same moment the first pirate reached the clearing that intervened and opened fire with his rifle.
As the four dashed across the stockade to the fort, Jack, who had not taken his eyes from the window since his friends left, quickly unbarred and threw open the door.
The four dashed inside. Quickly Jack barred the door again.
"Guns ready!" he cried. "The pirates may attack!"
Frank turned to Captain Jack.
"Well, my friend, Mr. Pirate Chief," he said with a grin, "we have you safe at last, eh?"
Captain Jack's only reply was a subdued growl.
CONVERSION OF CAPTAIN JACK
"Here they come!" cried Jack from the window. Half a dozen forms flitted through the stockade gate and dashed toward the fort. Jack's revolver flashed twice and one man rolled over on the ground; but the others came on. Bullets struck close to the window as the pirates returned the fire.
"Here, Williams," said Frank, "take charge of Captain Jack. I'll lend Jack a hand at the window."
Regardless of the bullets that struck close, one every now and then coming through the window, Frank poked out his head and fired rapidly several times. Came howls of anguish and directly three men ran for the outer gate.
"Let 'em go," said Frank quietly. "Guess they won't bother us again for some time."
Jack slammed the window shut and dropped a heavy board down behind it. This was protection in case the pirates without tried their luck at shooting through the window.
"Give us some light, Captain Glenn," ordered Frank.
A moment later the interior of the fort was lighted up by the flare of half a dozen candles, Frank turned and surveyed the prisoner. .
"And how are you tonight, Captain Jack?" he asked.
The reply of the pirate chief was irrelevant.
"You've got me," he said, what do you think you are going to do with me?"
"We haven't figured that out yet," said Frank. "The first thing was to get you. We do one thing at a time, you see."
"Well, you've trouble on your hands now," said Captain Jack. "My men won't rest until they have released me."
"We'll risk that," said Frank. "Captain Glenn, I guess it is still you're watch. I'm going to lock our pirate up for the night and then I'm going to turn in."
"Same here," said Jack, and the others signified their agreement.
Frank conducted Captain Jack to the room where so recently he and his friends had been imprisoned. The key was in the door.
"Guess you'll sleep all right in here, Captain," said Frank.
He pushed his prisoner in the room and closed and locked the door behind him.
The night passed quietly. Allen 'rustled up breakfast the following morning and Frank conducted the pirate chief out to help eat it. Timothy stood guard at the window as the others ate.
"How'd you sleep, Captain?" asked Frank of the pirate chief.
"Not very well," was the reply.
"What's the matter, Captain? Conscience?"
"I was thinking, if that's what you mean," replied Captain Jack.
"I wouldn't be surprised if it were precisely what I mean," said Frank.
"Look here, Captain," said Jack, taking a hand in the conversation. "You're not half the bloodthirsty pirate you would have us believe. To tell the truth, I've taken quite a shine to you. In the right way, you could make a man of yourself."
"Thanks," said the pirate chief. "I've had those same thoughts, but I guess it's too late now."
"It's never too late," said Jack sententiously.
"Let me ask you a few questions."
"Fire away," said Captain Jack.
"All right. Now, you're an American, are you not?"
"Yes; a German-American, I guess you would call me."
"There is no longer such a thing as a German-American," Frank broke in. "Either you are an American, with the interests of the United States at heart, or you are a German and a subject of the Kaiser."
"Exactly," Jack agreed, "and for a man born and reared in America, as I judge you to have been, I cannot conceive how he could forsake the land of his birth for such brutes as the Germans have proved themselves to be in this war."
"My parents were German," said Captain Jack.
"That doesn't signify," said Jack. "America is their adopted country and I am sure that you would find them standing by Uncle Sam."
"You are probably right," admitted Captain Jack. I can recall tales my father told of the downtrodden people of his native land. Today he is probably standing by America to the best of his ability. Truth is, though, I haven't paid much attention the rights and wrongs of this war, My sympathies, naturally enough, were with Germany before the United States was drawn into the conflict. That, of course, was because of my German ancestry. Since the United States entered the war I have been an enemy to both sides. I have robbed Germany and the United States alike, and still, so far, I have killed no man."
"But can't you see," said Frank, "that your present life can result in no good and that, on the other hand, there is much you can do for your country?"
"Oh, I can see it, all right," was Captain Jack's reply. "I'll tell you something. I really hadn't thought much about it until I encountered you fellows. You two," indicating Frank and Jack, "are both young and brave and have done some things to be proud of. Here I am, older than either of you, and I'm just a pirate. Since I first ran across you I have thought considerably of the things that might have been, but it's too late now."
"I tell you it is never too late," said Jack. "There is still time for you to mend your ways and do something for your country. You are a brave man and there is little that a brave man cannot accomplish if he only tries. Just say the word and we will all be willing to lend you a helping you."
Captain Jack got to his feet, amazement written on his countenance.
"You mean that?" he cried.
"Of course," said Jack.
"We'll do what we can," he said.
"But I'm a law-breaker," said Captain Jack. "I should be punished."
"I agree with you there," said Frank. "I would not raise a hand to lighten your punishment, for I feel you deserve it. But every man must pay for his own misdeeds. The thing for you to do now is to expiate, so far as possible, your past crimes by turning yourself to doing what is right and good."
"By George!" exclaimed Captain Jack, and brought his great fist down on the table with a resounding crash, "you are right. Just tell me what to do and I'll do it."
"A man should have to work out his own plan of redemption," he said, "and yet I believe I can help you."
"How?" demanded Captain Jack eagerly.
"I'll explain," said Jack. The others listened anxiously. "You have told us," Jack continued, "that there is a German submarine base on this island. You were telling the truth?"
"I was," said Captain Jack. "I stole my submarine, the Roger, from the Germans on the island."
"All right. Now you could do your native land — America — an invaluable service by destroying that base."
Frank and the others started to their feet at this. It was the first inkling they had had of a plan that had long been fomenting in Jack's mind.
"By George, Jack! A bully idea!" cried Frank. "Why didn't you mention it before?"
"Because we were in no position to carry it out," was Jack's reply.
Captain Jack's face grew red. His eyes flashed.
"A good idea," he said quietly to Jack. "I have no doubt it can be accomplished, though it will of course be dangerous."
"And you are willing to undertake it?" asked Frank, surprised.
"Of course. But I would be alone for a while, that I may think. Have you any objections to my retiring to the next room? I give you my word I shall not attempt to escape."
Jack took the words out of Frank's mouth.
"Go ahead," he said.
Captain Glenn was the first to speak after Captain Jack had left the room.
"Don't you think this conversion is rather sudden?" he asked. "Is the estimable Captain Jack not taking this means to throw us off our guard?"
"I don't think so," replied Jack quietly. "I have studied the man carefully since I have known him and I have discovered that, try as he will, he is not pleased with the life of a pirate. I can see, too, that be craves action, and it may have been only natural, for that reason, that he turned to piracy. I am willing to take his word that he will do what he says whenever he is willing to give it."
"And so am I!" declared Frank.
"It looks pretty fishy to me," declared Captain Glenn, but Williams sided with the two lads.
Half an hour later Captain Jack returned. Walking up to the table he extended a hand each to Jack and Frank.
"You can count on me," he said simply, and added with a half smile, "if you are not afraid to trust an erstwhile pirate."
Frank and Jack grasped the extended hands and gripped them warmly.
"Not a bit of it," they said in a single voice, and Frank added: "We are glad to have a man like you with us."
And thus came about the conversion of Captain Jack, pirate.
CAPTAIN JACK'S MEN REBEL
"There are only seven of us here," said Frank, a short time later. "Strikes me we won't have a whole lot of success raiding the German submarine base."
"Don't forget my fifty pirates," said Captain Jack.
"Great Scott!" ejaculated Captain Glenn. "I hope you don't want me to think that crowd of pirates will listen to you when they hear you have reformed."
"Don't you worry about my pirates," said Captain Jack with a smile. "Just leave them to me. Most of them are either English, French, Americans or Italians. There are a couple of negroes and some Brazilians and Chileans. I'll probably have trouble with the South Americans, but I feel sure the others will join me in whatever I ask."
"I wouldn't be too sure about that," said Captain Glenn.
"I thought most of your men were South Americans," said Frank. "That's the way they impressed me."
"You must remember you haven't seen the most of them," said Captain Jack. "But come, we may as well have the job over with. Will you accompany me?"
"We will," said Captain Glenn decisively.
Captain Jack turned on him.
"You don't trust me," he said.
"You're right," said Captain Glenn briefly. "I don't."
Captain Jack's fists clenched. He was about to make an angry retort, but Frank forestalled him.
"You can't blame him, Captain Jack," the lad said. "It's only an hour ago that you were a pirate of the first water, you know."
Captain Jack's fingers straightened out again.
"That's true," he muttered.
He led the way from the fort and out of the stockade into the clearing beyond. Shouts from the distance told Frank and Jack that the pirates had seen the approach of their chief, and they hailed him with glad cries.
"They seem to think a lot of him," said Jack to Frank.
"Why shouldn't they?" was Frank's reply. "He's done a lot for them, from their viewpoint. Also, it's plain to be seen that they have a wholesome respect for him. I haven't told you how handy he is with a gun."
"That so?" said Jack. "Guess I'd bet on you in a pinch, though."
"You'd probably lose," said Frank dryly, and explained the result of his first encounter with Captain Jack.
"Whew!" said Jack. "No wonder his men respect him."
The pirates now came forth from among the trees to greet their chief. Their expressions indicated that they were clearly surprised at Captain Jack's apparent friendliness with the foe, but no man ventured a word.
Captain Jack motioned them to gather around. Frank, Jack and the others a moment later found themselves in the center of the ring of pirates. Captain Glenn's hands, in his pockets, grasped his revolvers firmly. The American sea captain was determined not to be caught off his guard. He was perfectly certain in his own mind that Captain Jack was bent on mischief.
As the pirates drew closer, Frank and Jack also dropped their hands to their automatics. In his heart each lad trusted Captain Jack, but each had decided in his own mind that it was better to be prepared.
"Men," said Captain Jack, addressing the rabble, "as I lay a prisoner in the fort during the night, it came to me that we are all wasting our lives in our present manner of living. Sooner or later we are sure to be captured and hanged. I've thought it all out and I've come to the conclusion that the life of a pirate is no life for me — nor for any of the rest of you. Therefore, I have decided to be a pirate no longer."
Shouts of surprise — and anger came from the assembled men. Amazement was written large upon every face. The man called Jackson, the same who had locked up the lads and their friends when they first entered the fort, stepped forward.
"You mean that you are going to desert us?" he asked.
Captain Jack shook his head.
"Not at all," he replied quietly. "I mean that I am going to call upon you to join me in a new adventure, but one that is within the law."
There were wild hurrahs from the men. Jackson's face turned dark as he turned upon them.
"Wait until you know what this new venture is, men," he cried.
Frank and Jack exchanged significant gestures. It was plain to them that this man Jackson had no love for Captain Jack and that he had only been biding his time to turn the pirates against their leader.
Captain Jack smiled.
"I'll tell them, Jackson, have no fear," he said. He turned again and addressed the men.
"What I want you to do, men," he said, "is to become true citizens of the world and join me in striking a blow at the German submarine base on the island. The Germans are the enemies of all mankind. They must be destroyed. Will you help me give the island of Kaiserland a new name?"
For several moments there was a dead silence as the men digested their leader's words. The silence was broken by Jackson. Springing quickly forward, he threw up his right hand and shouted:
"Listen to me, men. Captain Jack here, most likely, has been promised immunity for his crimes by these new friends of his. He's trying to lead you on to death or the gallows. I, for one, refuse longer to recognize his leadership. Who is with me?"
But the men, apparently, were not yet ready to take sides. Captain Jack smiled at Jackson; then his face grew stern.
"I'll attend to you directly, Jackson," he said quietly. "Now, men, you know me well enough to know I am not trying to betray you. I am asking you, for once, to do a good deed. Most of you are Americans, French, Italian or British. Your countries are at war with Germany. Will you not strike a blow when you have the chance? It is true, there will be no rich booty for us, nothing but danger and perhaps death, but there will be riches greater than booty after all; for the adventure that I propose will bring to each man the consciousness of a duty well done, and that is more than gold. Men, we have been together for many months. I have not failed you in the past. Will you fail me now?"
There were wild cries of "No! No!" and "Destruction to the Germans," but there also were voices raised in protest.
Jackson, realizing that his chances were fast slipping away, determined upon a bold stroke. With a sudden cry he sprang toward Captain Jack, a knife gleaming in his hand.
Frank uttered a cry of warning and his revolver flashed out.
Captain Jack saw the lad's movement from the comer of his eye, and before the lad could press the trigger, he cried sharply:
"Don't shoot! Leave this man to me."
He avoided Jackson's rush by a quick side step, and as lie prepared to defend himself, he explained to Frank:
"One shot might prove our undoing. It would set the men wild. I can handle this fellow. Don't interfere, or allow any of the others to do so, no matter what happens."
Frank returned his revolver to his pocket.
Jackson, who had been carried beyond Captain Jack by the impetus of his spring when Captain Jack stepped aside, now wheeled about and returned to the attack, his gleaming knife rised above his head. Captain Jack, with no weapon in his hand, although he wore both revolver and knife in his belt, waited for him calmly. His arms were spread wide apart and both feet were implanted firmly in the ground. He smiled slightly.
Apparently he presented an uninviting aspect, for Jackson hesitated in his rush. This hesitancy caused his undoing.
Captain Jack leaped forward with a mighty spring. His strong right arm encircled Jackson's neck, while his left hand clutched Jackson's knife arm. Jackson was borne over backwards and Captain Jack went down on top of him.
There was a sharp snap and the knife that Jackson held went flying through the air. Captain Jack's powerful fingers had broken the man's wrist. At the same moment Captain Jack drove his right fist into Jackson's face. Then he got to his feet and faced the others.
"Any more of you want my job?" he cried, his face red with anger.
No man stepped forth.
"I thought not," said Captain Jack. "Very well. Now, you have heard my proposition. You are free to accept or refuse it at your pleasure. As for me, I am going through with it, anyhow. Which of you are with me?"
Came cries of "I am, Captain! I am," and the men rushed forward.
Captain Jack smiled again. He was his old self now. He turned to Frank and Jack.
"You see," he said quietly, "I was sure of my men."
"Well, you know how to handle them, that's certain," said Jack admiringly. "Tell them to follow us back to the fort. Then we'll lay our plans."
Captain Jack gave the necessary command. Frank led the way back. The men followed, talking excitedly among themselves, all save Jackson, who was carried by two of his comrades.
PLANNING THE ATTACK
"Think I'll have a little confab with my friend Virginia," said Jack, soon after they had returned to the fort.
"With whom?" asked Captain Jack.
"Oh, we haven't told you about that, have we?" said Jack. "I mean the United States cruiser Virginia. I picked her up on the wireless yesterday."
"You did, eh?" laughed Captain Jack. "Did you give them our location?"
"I didn't know it," said Jack.
"Well," said Captain Jack, "if you'll let me do the talking this time I'll give it to them."
"Better give them the location of the submarine base, instead," said Jack. "We'll make our start tonight, and it might be well to have a cruiser or two drop in at the finish. But I didn't know you were a wireless operator."
"I'm not much of one," returned Captain Jack, "but I'm not so bad, either."
The two went into the wireless room, where Captain Jack adjusted the receiver over his head. Then he began to flash the Virginia call into space; and at last he got an answer.
"Kaiserland?" came the query.
"Yes," Captain Jack flashed back.
Captain Jack hesitated a moment and then replied:
"So you have captured the other party, eh?"
"No, we've just joined forces. We are going to raid the German submarine base tonight."
"Are you telling the truth or trying to throw me off the trail?"
"I'm telling the truth. The man you talked to yesterday is here, if you care to talk to him."
"Let me talk to him."
Jack took Captain Jack's place at the wireless. It took some conversation to convince the commander of the Virginia that all was well but Jack did it at last and gave the location Captain Jack gave him,
"We haven't been able to pick up any wreck," said the Virginia, "and we had about given up hope of finding you. We tried all night and all morning to pick you up."
"We were busy," said Jack.
"You must have been," was the answer. "You say you will make the raid tonight?"
"Yes; when can you get on the ground?"
"Not before morning. Maybe you had better wait so we can join forces."
"Not much," Jack flashed back. "This is my, plan and I'm going to do the work."
"All right, but be careful. I'll put other vessels in this water in touch and have them on the scene as soon as possible."
"All right," said Jack. "How many vessels in these waters?"
"Half a dozen."
"Well, you'd better get as many of them as possible on the scene," said Jack. "There might be a slip, you know."
"I'll do the best I can. Good-by and good luck to you."
"Good-by!" flashed Jack.
"Not much help to be expected from that source, unless we wait," the lad said to Captain Jack.
"Well, we don't want to wait," said the chief of the pirates.
"Right you are as you are."
"I'm just as anxious for action."
They returned to the other room, where Jack called a council of war.
"The time to strike is now," he said when the others had gathered around the table, all except the pirates, who were still outside.
"I agree with you," said Frank. "How long a march is it, Captain Jack?"
"If we leave here two hours before dark we will reach the base soon after midnight," was the reply; "but if you will allow me, I have a plan to suggest."
"Let's hear it, Captain," said Jack.
"To my way of thinking," said Captain Jack, "it would be better if we attack from two places."
"Two places?" echoed Frank.
"Yes. My plan would be to send the bulk of the men afoot, while I pick a crew for my submarine and strike from the sea."
"By Jove!" said Jack. "A first class idea! But will not the German submarine base be mined?"
"It wasn't when I was there before," said Captain Jack significantly. "Otherwise I would not have come out whole with a submarine."
"That's true," said Jack. "Well, I agree with you. Yours is by far the best plan. How many men do you need aboard the submarine?"
"Not more than fifteen. The others will go a foot."
"There is a hitch in this plan, though," said Frank.
"What is it?' demanded Captain Jack.
"Well, your men may be willing to follow you all right, but will they follow me, or Jack here? You can't go by land and by sea both, you know, Captain."
"By George!" exclaimed Captain Jack. "I hadn't thought of that. However, I have no doubt it can be remedied."
"I think I can point out the remedy," said Captain Glenn.
"What is it, Captain?"
"Well, Frank and Jack here know something about submarines, they tell me. My advice would be to put one of them in command of your men aboard the submarine rather than in command of the land party. Chances are none of your men know aught of navigation and would have to depend upon the man in command, whereas, on land, they might think they could shift for themselves."
"I am of your opinion, Captain," said Captain Jack, "and shall act upon your advice. Now, is Templeton or Chadwick the better man for the job?"
"I fancy one will do as well as the other," put in Williams.
"Personally," said Frank, "I should like the job myself."
"It's yours, then," said Captain Jack briefly.
"Maybe the men will object," said Frank.
"Let 'em," returned Captain Jack. "I'll fix that."
"That's arranged then," said Jack. "Next thing, Captain Jack, is to select the men for the crew. Williams, you'd better go aboard the submarine as first officer."
"Suits me," said Williams briefly.
"I'll draw up a list of the crew," said Captain Jack.
He produced an old envelope and a lead pencil and scribbled. Directly he pushed back his chair.
"That's done," he said. "What next?"
"What's the lay of the land, Captain?" asked Jack.
"Well," replied the pirate chief, "I'll give Chadwick here a chart that he will find sufficient for his purposes. I made it, thinking I might want a second submarine some day."
"But how about the land party?" asked Jack.
"The German base," said Captain Jack, "extends along the southern extremity of the island for perhaps a mile. You see, therefore, that it's small. I don't believe there are more than a dozen submarines there. Whether there are more large raiders, I can't say. I wouldn't be surprised, however, if the one you put a torpedo into the other night was the last. That would mean that ashore, besides whatever number of the submarine crews that are aboard their vessels, there would be comparatively few men. We'll count the submarine crews as twenty-five men to a ship. That's 300 men. There may be an additional hundred men on the ground, but I doubt it."
"But they must have some means of protection," said Jack. "Big guns, and rifles a-plenty."
"Rifles, yes," was the reply, "but few big guns. They feel so secure in their hiding places that they have made use of their guns mostly to arm merchant raiders."
"I see," said Jack. "Well, we'll have to leave something to chance. Now the question arises as how best to destroy the place, submarines and all."
"Well, I can fix that, too," said Captain Jack. "Bombs are the things to do the trick. Half a dozen bombs scattered about and timed nicely, and there won't be a German submarine base at this time tomorrow."
"All right so far as the land side goes," said Frank, "but how about the submarines?"
"Mines," said Captain Jack quietly, "timed to explode simultaneously with the bombs ashore. You can lay them from the submarine."
"By Jove!" said Jack. "You'd make a first class combined general-admiral, Captain Jack," declared Captain Glenn.
Captain Jack smiled slowly.
"I've had all this planned for many a day," he said quietly. "I didn't know when the Germans might declare war on me, and when they did I was determined to exterminate them."
"Well, plans thus being decided upon," said Frank, "there is nothing to do but await the hour of departure."
They discussed the plans in detail while they waited, however. At four o'clock Captain Jack got to his feet.
"Time to get busy," he said.
IN THE NIGHT
Frank took command of the submarine. As he had feared, there was some protest among the men Captain Jack had decided upon to man the vessel, but the pirate chief soon overcame this. Therefore, when the submarine put off from Kaiserland, the men were anxious to obey the lad's every order.
From the fort to the place where the submarine lay the paths of both land and sea parties lay together. According to Captain Jack's calculations the start from this point, if made simultaneously by land and sea forces, would enable both to reach their destination at approximately the same hour, if the submarine was held to five knots an hour. It had been deemed advisable for the undersea craft to go some distance from land and then run south submerged.
From the deck of the submarine Frank waved a band to his friends on shore. The others stood watching while the vessel crept through the water. At length, upon Frank's order, it submerged.
Captain Jack ordered his men south.
The land party now was divided into three sections. Captain Jack led the main body, composed of twelve men. Jack had the same number under his command. Counting Timothy and Allen, Captain Glenn commanded thirteen men.
While Jack was nominally in command of the party, it had been decided that it would be wise to let Captain Jack show the way, this because the pirates would feel more secure under his guidance. They moved south at a rapid walk.
Darkness fell and still the marchers made their way through the thick trees and underbrush. The march would be a long one, so after two hours' walking, Captain Jack slowed his men down a trifle.
At 10 o'clock Captain Jack called a halt in the darkness. He glanced at his watch by the dim light of the moon, and passed the word for Jack and Captain Glenn, who approached a moment later.
"Half an hour's march and we shall be within sight of the base," said Captain Jack. "The Germans have felled trees between them and the forest proper, apparently with the idea of preventing a surprise from this direction. We'll have to trust to luck and the darkness to get us safely across opening."
"We'll take it at a run," said Captain Glenn.
"That will be the best way," Captain Jack agreed, but I figure we had better approach from different points. Templeton, I'll wait here with my men while you make a quarter of a mile detour to the right. Captain Glenn, you do the same to the left. I'll wait here fifteen minutes. When you see the first of my men move across the opening, you follow suit."
"A good idea," was Jack's comment.
"Don't forget," Captain Jack said, "that the main thing is to get the bombs planted without being discovered. If we can do that without interruption, it would even be well to draw off without firing a shot. But the bombs must be placed squarely within the German settlement or our work will count for nothing."
"Right you are, Captain," said Captain Glenn.
"Very good, then. Now, you fellows get to your places and then move toward the clearing. As soon as you see my men moving across the opening, advance."
Jack and Captain Glenn returned to their commands and gave the necessary marching orders. The men moved off in the darkness.
Less than an hour later Jack stood in the shelter of a large tree at the very edge of the clearing. In the distance he could make out what appeared to be numerous buildings. This was the point, the lad felt sure, where the blow would be struck.
In his left hand Jack carried a small but powerful bomb, which had been provided by Captain Jack. The fuse attached would burn fifteen minutes. In the time after it was lighted this meant that the attacking party had fifteen minutes to get out of the way before the explosion occurred. Captain Glenn and Captain Jack carried similar explosives.
Jack kept his eyes upon the place where Captain, Jack's party soon was to move across the open. For five minutes he gazed without result, and then he saw several shadowy figures stealing across the clearing.
Jack turned to his men with a command.
"March!" he ordered.
He placed himself at their head and they dashed through the darkness at a run.
A quarter of a mile on the other side of Captain Jack's party, Captain Glenn also had ordered his men forward.
Meanwhile, what of Frank and the submarine?
Shaping his course by the chart which Captain Jack had given him, Frank kept the course accurately. The speed of the vessel was maintained at five knots, in accordance with Captain Jack's calculations. As Frank's watch showed half past eleven, he felt that the time to exercise the greatest caution had come.
The lad turned the wheel over to Williams and took the latter's place at the periscope. Directly he was able to make out the coast line, and even at this distance he felt certain that he could make out a long row of buildings in the background. The submarine was, of course, still too far away for possible vessels, which would lie low on the water, to be within the lad's range of vision.
"Where are the mines?" the lad asked Williams.
"Foot of the ladder, sir," was the reply.
"Yes, sir, and anchors, too, sir."
"Good! Of course, we'll have to come to the surface to let them go."
"Of course, sir."
'Then be ready when I give the word. I can't pick up any submarines at this distance, but they may all be upon the surface as well as resting beneath the water."
"I'm ready, sir."
"Torpedoes all right?"
"Yes, sir. I just examined them ten minutes ago."
"Guess there are no other precautions we can take," said Frank. "Be ready to grab a couplr of mines and follow me on deck when I give the word." Frank turned and summoned one of the pirate crew, a negro, who answered to the name of Jefferson.
"Jefferson, take the wheel," he said.
Jefferson did so, grinning.
"Slow to two knots, Williams," ordered Frank.
Williams signaled the engine room and the pace of the submarine slowed down until the vessel was barely moving through the water.
Frank glanced at his watch. It was 12 o'clock.
"Fifteen minutes in which to lay the mines," he said to himself. "They must explode at 12:30 —"
At 12:10 the submarine emerged from the depth and floated calmly upon the surface of what appeared to be an artificial harbor. Frank and Williams, leaving Jefferson at the wheel and ordering the engines stopped, sprang on deck, carrying two small packages each. These, bound in little tin boxes, were the deadly mines.
"One off here, Williams," said Frank, putting one on deck and glancing at his watch.
The hands showed 12:15.
"We'll have to work fast," said Frank.
Quickly Frank dropped one of the mines over the port side of the vessel, aft. Williams followed suit to starboard, forward. Frank poked his head down the hatchway and yelled:
"Full speed, ahead, Jefferson!" The vessel dashed forward. "West by north five points!" yelled Frank.
The submarine veered sharply.
Two minutes from where the first mines had been dropped overboard, Frank and Williams let go the remaining two. As they did so, Frank perceived several long shapes emerging from below. He took one look and then dived below with a cry to Williams:
It was true. Attracted by the impending danger in some unaccountable fashion, the German terrors of the deep were coming from fancied security beneath the waves for a look around.
Frank grabbed the wheel from Jefferson and turned the head of the submarine due north. He rang for full speed ahead.
At almost the same instant one of the German submarines espied the stranger in the midst. There was a hail across the water. Then a torpedo flashed close to the Roger.
Again Frank glanced at his watch. It was 12:25 — only five minutes were left in which the pirate submarine might reach a place of safety. Frank feared to give the signal to submerge for the reason that the speed of the craft would be impeded.
It was better to run the gauntlet of the submarines on top of the water. Torpedoes passed close, but Frank maneuvered the little vessel from port to starboard and back again so rapidly that none struck home.
And at last Frank, watch in hand, felt that the submarine was safely out of the danger zone. His watch showed 12:30.
Frank strained his ears to catch the explosion that would tell him the deadly mines had done their work.
CAPTAIN JACK PAYS
The attacking party, led by Jack Templeton, Captain Jack and Captain Glenn, advanced across the clearing toward the unsuspecting German settlement at a run.
The distance was perhaps two hundred yards and Captain Jack felt that if this distance could be transversed without discovery, the success of the raid was assured.
But the distance was not to be covered without discovery.
Half way across the open a shot rang out. This was quickly followed by three more. One of the men under Captain Glenn's command pitched forward on his face.
"Forward, men!" cried Captain Glenn, springing forward faster than before.
Captain Jack and Jack Templeton also urged their men to redoubled efforts.
Within the German lines, Jack saw men running forward. Apparently the German officers were trying to get their men in formation to ward off an attack. The enemy had no means of ascertaining the strength of the attacking party, attack was ordered.
Although Frank did not know it, it was the sounds of the firing on shore that had brought the German submarines in the harbor from the depths, upon command, to lend a helping hand if need be.
A volley broke from the three divisions of raiders as they dashed for the German lines. Now that their presence had been discovered there was no reason for further efforts at concealment, and Captain Jack and the other leaders had no mind to be fired upon without returning the compliment.
The result of the volleys, the raiders had no means of determining, but they felt sure that some of the bullets had found human marks. Time after time the Germans fired at the advancing' men, but as the latter showed no signs of giving up the attack the German commander ordered his men to fall back toward the water's edge. He naturally supposed that, his base having been discovered, he was being attacked in force. He could have no idea that the raid was being conducted by a small body of desperate men.
The plan of the German commander was to make a stand at the water edge and then rush his men aboard the flotilla of submarines should he be pressed too closely.
This decision was fortunate for the raiders, for had the Germans made a determined stand the attack must have failed.
Captain Jack's party was the first to reach the settlement. Volley after volley they poured into the Germans. Jack and his men arrived next, and soon Captain Glenn's command, bearing down from the flank, reinforced the first arrivals.
Captain Jack hurled his bomb as far forward as possible at precisely 12:15. From their sections of the field Jack and Captain Glenn followed suit at the same time. Then each commander ordered a retreat.
As the raiders turned and ran, the German commander's first thought was to order a pursuit. But he changed his mind quickly, for he feared the retreat might be only a ruse to draw him on. For that reason he ordered his men to stay, for the moment, where they were.
As members of the raiding party dashed back over the ground they had traversed, however, the German rifles poured volleys after them. Captain Jack was bringing up the rear of his party. So it was that no man saw him suddenly pitch forward on his face. Captain Jack drew himself slowly to his feet and as slowly retreated again. There was a terrible pain in his left side and he realized that a German bullet, entering his back, had gone clear through him. Blood flowed profusely and the pirate chief knew that he was badly wounded. Nevertheless, he did not call after his men, but followed them as swiftly as he could.
Now the German commander decided that the retreat of the foe was not a ruse to draw him on. He ordered his men forward and volley after volley was fired over Captain Jack's head at the retreating pirates.
At the edge of the forest beyond, the pirates turned, and then, for the first time, they realized that Captain Jack had been left behind. Wild yells shattered the stillness of the night. In the face of almost certain death, the pirates wheeled and dashed to the rescue of their chief.
But the Germans also were dashing forward. As Captain Jack saw his men rushing back to him, and realized the fate that threatened them, he waved them away, shouting:
"Go back! I'll make it, all right."
Then, as the pirates disregarded this and still came on, he ordered them again to fall back.
"Don't forget the bombs!" he cried.
There are few men who will advance into the face of certain death. These pirates were not of these few. A quarter of a mile away to either side, it was impossible for Jack or Captain Glenn or their men to render assistance; and now the other pirates turned again and took to their heels.
So Captain Jack was left alone to face the oncoming Germans.
First Captain Jack took time to glance at his watch. The hands pointed to 12:25.
"I would like to live five minutes yet," he muttered.
He discarded his now empty rifle and produced his pair of automatics.
The Germans, seeing but one man opposing their path, rushed forward to make him a prisoner.
"Crack! Crack! Crack! Crack!"
Both of Captain Jack's revolvers were flashing fire.
"Crack! Crack! Crack! Crack!" they spoke again.
And so until each weapon had been emptied of ten shots. Captain Jack hurled his useless weapons in the very faces of his foes and again produced his watch.
The hands showed 12:30.
"Time!" said Captain Jack, and at that moment a German bullet laid him low.
But Captain Jack was not dead. He raised his head and listened; and then what he waited for came.
There was a terrible rumble and roar, followed by two ear-splitting blasts. These were quickly succeeded by others. The ground rocked and swayed. Men, huge wooden buildings, steel and iron within the German lines went sailing high in the air, to come down for miles around.
Terrible screams and groans and curses shattered the night, quickly followed by more detonations somewhat muffled, as the mines dropped from the pirate submarine exploded beneath the water.
The waves were lashed into a frenzy. The ground trembled for long minutes and seemed on the point of dropping into the bowels of the earth.
And then it began to rain men and debris.
Great rocks, brought up from deep in the earth, fell on all sides of the place where Captain Jack lay wounded unto death, but as though by a miracle none touched him. Where the pirates were still racing for safety, with Jack and Captain Glenn at their head, trees were uprooted and toppled over. The rain of steel and iron and rocks carried even there, and the men threw themselves to the ground and put their arms above their heads.
And then, as suddenly as it had begun, the rain of missiles ceased.
Jack got to his feet, as did his men. Rapidly he led them back toward where a moment before had been a German submarine base.
There was no base there now. Nothing but ruin and destruction and death. The German submarine base, submarines in the harbor, men who had inhabited the place, had passed into oblivion.
The raid had been complete.
Captain Glenn also returned to the front with his men, and the pirates who had been under Captain Jack's command, dashed back to search for their captain.
The sea had now become calm again and Frank ordered the submarine headed for the harbor. Half an hour later he went ashore, accompanied by Williams and every member of the crew.
Frank was appalled at the extent of the destruction. Rapidly he passed through the ruins toward the forest beyond, where he knew he would find Jack or some trace of him. And there he came upon the sad band of pirates.
Into the midst of these Frank forced his way. In the center, his head on Jack's knee, was Captain Jack. Blood flowed from wounds in the back of his head, from his forehead and from his sides. He was unconscious.
But as Frank bent down beside him, the pirate chief opened his eyes. He saw Jack and Frank and smiled his old smile.
"Was the raid a success?" he asked feebly.
"It was," replied Jack quietly. "Not a German left alive, nor one stone upon another nor a submarine in the harbor."
"Good!" said the pirate chief. "I would like to speak to my men."
At a signal from Jack these gathered around him.
"Men," said Captain Jack, "I am going to a land where there is no piracy and no wars. But before I go I want to tell you that I repented of my evil ways before it was too late; and I want the promise of each one of you that from this time on he will lead an upright life — a peaceful life at such time that his services are not being employed in the service of his native land. I want to shake hands with each one of you and hear your promise."
Sadly the men filed by him and there was none who did not promise freely all that the pirate chief asked. Then they stood near with downcast heads.
Captain Jack shook hands with Williams and Captain Glenn.
"You see I was to be trusted, after all," he said.
Captain Glenn pressed the hand but made no reply.
From the distance there came a dull rumble. Frank stood up and gazed toward the harbor through the darkness. Suddenly a powerful glare lighted up the shore.
"What is that?" demanded Captain Jack, freeing himself from Jack and getting to his feet in spite of his wounds.
"Searchlight," replied Frank briefly. "Probably the Varginia approaching to give us aid."
"We don't need it now," said Captain Jack.
He extended a hand to Jack and one to Frank and the lads pressed them warmly. As they stood thus, Captain Jack's body swayed slightly and became limp. Gently the boys laid him on the ground. They bent over to catch the sound of his voice.
"Tell America that I have been of some good after all," said Captain Jack, pirate chief, in a low voice.
And so he died.
From across the sea came the sound of a big gun. Swiftly toward the island of Kaiserland came the American cruiser Virginia.
Here, beside the body of the dead pirate chief on an uncharted island in the South Atlantic, ends our story. Subsequent adventures of Frank Chadwick and Jack Templeton will be related in a succeeding volume, entitled "The Boy Allies with the Submarine D-32; or, The Fall of the Russian Empire."