The Dreadnought Boys Aboard a Destroyer
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Title: The Dreadnought Boys Aboard a Destroyer
Author: John Henry Goldfrap
Release Date: June 25, 2018 [eBook #57396]
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***START OF THE PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK THE DREADNOUGHT BOYS ABOARD A DESTROYER***
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|Note:||Images of the original pages are available through the Digital Library of the Falvey Memorial Library, Villanova University. See https://digital.library.villanova.edu/Item/vudl:487932|
ABOARD A DESTROYER
CAPTAIN WILBUR LAWTON
Author of “The Boy Aviators Series,” “The Dreadnought Boys onBattle Practice,” etc. etc.
HURST & COMPANY
HURST & COMPANY
|I.||The Foreign Agent||5|
|II.||A Willing Tool||20|
|III.||At Sea on a Destroyer||31|
|V.||The Dreadnought Boys’ Fortune||55|
|VI.||The Secret of the Derelict||68|
|VII.||An Insult to the Flag||84|
|VIII.||The Boys Make an Interesting Discovery||98|
|IX.||On Special Duty||110|
|X.||A Battle in the Dark||121|
|XI.||On Secret Service||133|
|XII.||Playing with Edged Tools||147|
|XIII.||Prisoners of War||161|
|XIV.||A Drum-head Court-martial||172|
|XV.||A Shell from the Sea||182|
|XVII.||Under the Gold-starred Flag||206|
|XVIII.||A Board of Strategy||220|
|XIX.||The Sea Fight off Santa Anna||232|
|XXI.||Victor and Vanquished||257|
|XXII.||An Order to Halt||266|
|XXIII.||With the Costavezan Cavalry||276|
|XXIV.||Ned’s Heroic Deed||288|
The Dreadnought Boys Aboard
THE FOREIGN AGENT.
“Pardon me—but surely I am not mistaken,—youtwo young men are brave sailors on board theBeale?”
“Hum; don’t know about the ‘brave sailor’part of it,” smiled Ned Strong pleasantly, as thedark-skinned speaker halted him and his companionHerc Taylor in the shadow of the graywall of the Brooklyn Navy Yard. “We are onboard the Beale, though, or will be shortly.”
The man who had addressed the two stalwart,sunburned young fellows wearing the natty uniformof Uncle Sam’s sea-fighters flourished hissilver-headed cane as if in token of having attainedan object.
“The Beale—the torpedo-boat destroyer?” heasked, as if he were anxious to make quite sureof his ground.
“Yes, sir,” said Ned, briskly taking up his suit-case,as if about to start off again. He had setdown the piece of baggage when the strangerfirst addressed them.
“One moment,” demanded the fashionablydressed first speaker, who spoke with a trace offoreign accent, “since you are on board that craft,you must come with me.”
Ned looked astonished at the other’s brusquemanner of address. As for Herc Taylor, thered-headed, his freckles shone pinkly under histan.
“I guess you’re a foreigner, sir, aren’t you?”he asked gently.
“Why, yes, senor,” the other twisted his littlewaxed mustache nervously, “but I——”
“I guessed it,” went on Herc serenely, “becausein the United States we have a foolishhabit of saying ‘please’ if we wish anythingdone.”
“Well, ‘please,’ then, senor. Come, I wish totalk with you, please. I know a place, not equalto the Hotel Espanola, perhaps, but where we canget a good drink——”
“Count us out then,” snapped Ned sharply,“we don’t drink.”
The stranger placed his thumb and forefingertogether, elevated them to a level with his chinand, after gazing at them for a second, gave alight:
“He’ll blow away if he does that again,” mutteredHerc. But apparently the man of the waxedmustache had been only taking this way of dismissingany possible offense he might havecaused. He bowed low.
“Ah, well, I have made a mistake, I see. Ofcourse not. Zee brave sailors of the Uncle Samdo not drink, nevaire. Perhaps, then, you willdo me the honor of accompanying me to thatdrug store at the corner. I see they sell ice-creamsodas there. Will you try one of those?”
This was touching Herc Taylor in a weak spot.He gazed at his companion inquiringly. ButNed Strong’s eyes were riveted on the smallwicket gate which opened in the long, gray-paintedwall, a few feet from where they werestanding. The wall inclosed the humming hiveof activity known as the Brooklyn Navy Yard.Inside the gate stood a marine, sharply scanningall arrivals. It was his duty to protect the gatewayto one of Uncle Sam’s ship hospitals, whereeverything from a rib to a rivet can be adjustedor replaced, even on the largest Dreadnoughts.
“We ought to report at ten-thirty. It’s tennow,” he said, gazing at a handsome gold watchhe had just drawn out of his breast pocket. Insidethe case it bore an inscription, “Presentedto Ned Strong from Henry Varian, in slighttoken of the inestimable services rendered by himat Guantanamo, Cuba.”
Readers of the “Dreadnought Boys on BattlePractice” will recall the occasion which Mr. Varian,the inventor of the powerful explosive Chaosite,had thus chosen to commemorate. Thewatch had been presented to Ned Strong, as anordinary seaman on board the big DreadnoughtManhattan. At the risk of his own life he hadsaved Mr. Varian from some rascals who hadabducted him, and under the threat of blowinghim up, had tried to compel the inventor to giveup the formula of his explosive and the blueprints of a patent gun-breech of his devising forhandling the stuff. It was Ned Strong’s ingenuityand pluck, it will be recalled, which had resultedin the plans of these men being a completefailure, and in their all being sentenced to longprison terms.
Closely following on this adventure, for whichhe received the congratulations of his own commanderand also of the rear-admiral of the fleet,Ned Strong and Herc Taylor had behaved withsingular gallantry just after the eruption in theforward turret of a dreaded “flareback.” Atgreat risk they closed the safety doors, whichhad jammed, and then carried several unconsciousmen, including Lieutenant Timmons, theofficer in charge, from the inferno of smoke anddeadly gas. For this, readers of that volume willrecall, both had been awarded medals of honor.Thus, in a few short months following their enlistmentfrom the remote New York State villageof Lamb’s Corners, both had become nationalheroes—that is, during the brief period ofpublic memory. Had the recollection of theirgallant deed not died out in the public mind, it isdoubtful if the man who had accosted themwould have chosen just these two youths who hadso fully deeded their lives to their country andtheir flag.
“All right, we will go with you,” said Nedbriskly, as if he had suddenly come to some privateconclusion.
“Ah, zat is good,” smiled the dark-skinned individual.“I am glad you have come to zat determination.”
He started briskly off, headed for the drugstore and followed by the two young man-of-war’smen.
As the boys were a short distance behind him,they had an opportunity to exchange a word ortwo as they went.
“Say, Ned,” began Herc, in a tone of remonstrance,“what’s the matter with you?”
“You don’t like the looks of that fellow?”
“No more than I like the looks of a skunk withits tail swung toward me.”
“Hush, he may hear you. I’ve got a goodreason for going with him.”
“All right, then. What you say goes.”
This brief exchange of words brought themto the drug store, the interior of which lookedcool and inviting, in contrast with the glaringsidewalk, for it was a hot day in early June.
Presently the trio were seated at a small tablein the rear of the store, which was empty for themoment of customers.
“Ah, that sounds good,” exclaimed Herc approvingly,as the long, cool fizz-z-z-z of the fountainannounced that their refreshments were beingdrawn.
The stranger bent forward as the red-headedlad spoke, and in a cautious voice said:
“But I have something to talk to you aboutwhich will sound bettaire.”
“So?” said Ned carelessly, as the soda glasseswere placed in front of them, and Herc at onceburied his nose in pink, creamy foam, “Whatis it?”
“Hush! Do not speak so loud. I don’t want itthat any one should hear us.”
“Oh, then, it’s sort of secret business?”
“Zat is eet. You are a young man of penetration.”
“You’d say so if you saw him wading into anyone he doesn’t like,” grinned Herc, setting downhis empty glass and investigating its depths witha spoon.
The clerk was instantly at his elbow. Thestranger looked up angrily at the store attendant.
“What are you doing listening here?” he demandedsharply.
“I wasn’t listening,” expostulated the aggrievedclerk, “I came to see if this gentlemanwanted any more.”
“Bring us all three some, and then keep away,”grunted the black-mustached foreigner aggressively.
“Make mine vanilla this time,” ordered Herc.
“One nevaire knows who may be a spy,” explainedthe stranger, as the clerk brought thenew order, and then busied himself, out of earshot,in the front of the store.
“Well, we’re not afraid of any spies,” returnedHerc Taylor, giving the stranger a searchinglook.
“Oh, no, of course not. Zee brave sailor ofUncle Sam——”
“Never mind that,” interrupted Ned, “youbrought us here, you said, to talk to us aboutsomething important—what?”
“You young men have heard of the Republicof Costaveza?”
“Of course, that tamale-eating South Americanmerry-go-round,” blurted out Herc, “that’swhere the Beale is bound for—so I heard,” headded rather confusedly. He had caught Ned’seye, and he thought it held a reproof for his outspokenness.
“You are pairfectly right,” assented the other.“Now, there is an opportunity to make what youcall zee big money down there, for two brightyoung men like you.”
“How?” inquired Ned bluntly.
This directness seemed to confuse somewhatthe dark-skinned man, who, like most of his race,which was Latin-American, preferred intriguesand dark hints to coming straight to the point.
“Why,” he began, and then paused, as ifsearching for a word, “by—by keeping zee eyesopen.”
“I don’t understand.”
“Let me explain. The Republic of Costaveza isnow in a state of revolution.”
The boys nodded.
“The United States government is not friendlyto the rebels, but dare not show zat this ees thecase. It would not be consistent with her policiesto interfere.”
“Well, what’s all this got to do with us?”asked Ned in the same direct way. He was growingto like the mysterious manner of the strangerless and less.
“Wait a moment, and you will see. In Costavezathere are, however, many very importantAmerican interests—mining, lumber, asphalt andso on. In the event of the rebels gaining power—whichHeaven soon send—the policy of thenew government would be Costaveza for the Costavezans.You follow me?”
“You mean that if the rebellion succeeds theproperty of the Americans, which they have paidfor and developed, will be confiscated. Is thatit?” questioned Ned.
“Exactly. Now, as I said, the United Statesdares not openly interfere.