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flags flying, tied up at the pier immediately next to the Deutschland. Between the two masts hung an immense canvas banner bearing the words:
READ THE PROVIDENCE LEDGER
On top of the after deck-house sat a band, and such a band!-one bass drum with cymbals, one cornet, and one slide trombone, the operator of the latter being very hazy concerning the notes produced by the various positions. But if he missed it the first time, he caught it with the second shot, or the third, perhaps. Under the caricature leadership of Wilson, this band slashed into the "Watch on the Rhine" and followed with other terribly mangled airs of German origin, until Koenig, in desperation, sent over and begged them to desist.
EVERETT'S conscience bothered him a great deal on the matter of a possible violation of American neutrality, and Wilson, knowing that no official instructions had been given, skilfully played upon the young man's feelings until he
"Quick, Roy! quick! Snap him threatening the life of an American citizen!'"
was reduced to a condition best described as "a state of mind."
"You 're only a spectator," had jeered Wilson, "a mere looker-on. I suppose you 'd like to help and all that, but it 's quite impossible-quite impossible. Of course, the only crime recognized in this country is getting caught, and if we 're pinched, you 've got nothing to do but stand pat and keep your mouth shut. Your hands are clean-regular ladylike hands!"
"Oh, they are, are they?" the lieutenant had retorted, and, casting discretion to the winds, added: "You just let something happen that makes it necessary, and you'll see how fast they'll get dirty! I'll risk your damned penitentary, by gad! and be glad of the chance."
Wilson's scheme required that a diver get beneath the Deutschland, there to do certain things, and in the discussion of details it became evident that the lieutenant possessed an even wider experience in under-water work than is usual among naval officers. He solved the problem of eliminating the exhaust air-bubbles, which must issue from the diver's helmet and which, rising to the surface close to the sides of the sub
marine, would surely attract attention, by using a double air-line, one to carry the air to the man, and a second, attached to the exhaust-valve, to convey it back to the point at which the airpump was located. The extreme muddiness of the water removed all chance of the diver being seen, so there remained only the question of getting the man exactly beneath the submarine's keel, since to let him approach the surface in his endeavors to locate the vessel would be disastrous.
Coolley had supplied both man and outfit, the latter, equipped with telephones, being in excellent condition. Unfortunately, this could not be said of the man himself, for he complained of illness, and on the very day set for the first under-water trip to the Deutschland Wilson had to rush him to the hospital for an appendicitis operation.
The meeting held late that night in the "thieves' den" was probably as dejected an affair as that room had ever witnessed. Wilson sat with his head in his hands, utterly beyond speech. There was no other diver available on whom he could depend, and already the time was far too short. Roy, being young, felt the blow much less severely than did the others. Everett, his hands behind his back, paced the floor restlessly and fought out his problem. He knew what he ought to do, or, rather what he ought not to do, and he was perfectly certain that if he asked Washington for instructions, he would be told emphatically to stand clear of the whole business. And yet there was that cargo of nickel and rubber, and unless somebody stopped it, it would undoubtedly get to Germany. And if it did get there, how many lives-English lives, maybe would it mean? And against all that there was merely his life at the most, and not likely that. Time and time again there ran through his mind the words of a famous English admiral, "Better men have sacrificed far more and for a less worthy 'cause." About midnight he turned suddenly upon Wilson.
"That man 's just about my build." "What man?"
"What do you mean?"
"I mean I 'm going to soil my hands. I can wear his things and I can do the work just as well as he can-and tomorrow, by gad! I 'm going to, that 's all!"
And he did.
WHEN the time for action arrived, the Judith's tender lay alongside the tug, Wilson at the oars, and Roy, a big graflex camera on his knees, occupying the stern. Waiting until Koenig appeared on deck, Wilson yelled at the top of his voice, pushed off from the Judith, and with all his strength rowed across the intervening water and full tilt into the very center of the Deutschland. Koenig, enraged and shouting like a madman, rushed to the spot.
"You fool! You fool!" he cried. "If you do not leave these waters instantly, you will be shot!" And suiting action to the word, he whipped out a heavy automatic and covered the pair in the boat. Wilson never turned a hair. Speaking under his breath, but loud enough for Koenig to hear, he said:
"Quick, Roy! quick! Snap him threatening the life of an American citizen!" Roy leaped to his feet, and swung the big camera into position.
"No! no! no!" shrieked Koenig, as the delicacy of his position flashed into his mind, and he quickly pocketed the firearm. "You are nothing but a curse," he cried. "You waste my time and cause me more trouble that all others in America. When I say 'No' to you I mean 'No'; I do not mean something else. Why do you not take the straight answer and go away before something happens?"
"I want an interview, and I intend to get it," called back the man in the rowboat. "I won't take 'No' for an answer, but I'll take just ten minutes of your time instead. If you 'll give me that, you'll have no further bother. If you don't, you'll waste far more than ten minutes trying to keep away from me."
"So? If I had you in Germany, I— Ach, Gott! of what use- Come on, then; I must be rid of you some way. But not the camera; indeed no!"
Thus did Wilson reach the deck of the Deutschland, and thus did he live up to his reputation and scoop his fel
low-workers of the press with an authentic, exclusive interview with the famous captain. Thus also did he accomplish another matter of which Koenig was in complete ignorance. When the tender pulled away from the Judith in that first headlong rush, Roy's right hand was behind his back. In that hand was the end of a light, strong rope, which, after being snubbed one turn around a convenient cleat, passed over the stern of the rowboat and straight down into the water. Ten feet below hung an iron weight, from which the rope, previously soaked so that it would not float, continued under the Judith and then upward, where it was payed out with complete secrecy. The instant the tender struck the Deutschland, Roy let go his end of the rope and brought his hand around to the camera in the most natural way possible, the weight sank to the bottom, and Everett, waiting in his armor beneath the Judith for word to proceed, had only to follow the guide-line thus laid for him to arrive at a point almost under the submarine and half-way between her bow and stern. Thereafter the line indicated a direct path between the two vessels. His walk over the harbor bed released a material number of air and gas bubbles from the mud, but Wilson's strenuous oarsmanship had so disturbed the surface that they went quite unnoticed. Besides, Wilson's interview-by-sheer strength was at that period absorbing all the attention the Germans possessed.
Once on board the Deutschland, Wilson opened fire with a series of lightning-like questions that embraced Koenig's family history for five generations, the history of Germany, of the war, of transatlantic traffic, of submarines, of the Deutschland, of the Deutschland's first complete voyage, of this last voyage over, the experiences anticipated on the trip about to be made (Oh, sumptuous irony!), the future of sub-ocean traffic, and so much else that Koenig soon gasped for breath.
Meanwhile, not very far beneath them, Everett worked silently and with good effect.
Wilson switched to the matter of the forbidden photographs.
"I've got three minutes yet," he lied
glibly, pulling out his watch. "Now look; Captain, be a sport! Next to flying across the Atlantic, you 've pulled off the greatest stunt of this century! People want to know what you look like. I don't care a damn for your old boat; I want you! Come on; be a good fellow! You really owe it to the public. Just as you are-no, no, no fussing up; stand where you are."
So Koenig again gave in, since to do otherwise with this irresponsible person merely meant further trouble. Roy was pulled aboard, and after some delay made the exposures desired. Then as
a hail came from the Judith, a prearranged signal which meant that Everett was on his way back, Wilson bade the captain an embarrassingly effusive farewell, called him the prince of good fellows, and asserted that he had known all along that perseverance would in the end win the very much desired, and very much appreciated, interview.
"And now I am gone," he concluded as he went down into his boat. you won't mind if the tug follows you out to sea, will you? It's the boss's orders."
"I have no means of stopping you," answered the captain, with some asperity; "so you may come if you wish, though it will be of no benefit. But let me tell you one thing-do not ever let us meet in Germany, for your own sake!"
"Sure I won't!" laughingly replied Wilson, and pushing off, he proceeded to obliterate the new line of bubbles which Everett had kicked up from the mud.
"Only Germany is n't your next port of call, old chap," he muttered as he paddled slowly along. "it'll be England, I'm thinking-England or hell."
IT should be said for Koenig that he left no stone unturned, no precaution untaken. A more capable man could not have been chosen for his perilous task, nor one more thoroughly conversant with transatlantic work. He adopted every possible safeguard against interference and capture, and if he in the end was defeated, it was due solely to his being pitted against a cleverer man, a man whose natural skill, ingenuity,
resourcefulness, and courage, inspired by an all-consuming hate, proved irresistible.
Came the morning when the Deutschland gave evidence of an imminent departure the general cleaning up, the closing of cargo-hatches, the final overcharge of her batteries, and so forth. Roy, working at his wireless outfit in the "thieves' den," quickly called the Amphion. Ten minutes later every man on the cruiser knew that with the coming of night the submarine would slip quietly from her pier and strike for the open sea.
In the afternoon Roy packed his instruments and brought them down to the Judith. With the first suspicion of darkness, the little party assembled in the after deck-house for a final conference.
"Everett, boy, this is your last time, and I wish we could have fixed it otherwise. I still believe that we 'd be crazy to let you finish up before the Deutschland actually casts off. Koenig is no fool, take my word, and if we count on any laxity on his part, we 'll land on our backs, and he 'll get clear away. So get into your suit-and may the Lord be with you! You 've got a nice easychair over there, have n't you?”
"Oh, yes, with cushions, and a stove to keep my hands warm," answered Everett, though with little enthusiasm. His nerves were evidently on edge. "However, there's nothing else for it." So saying, he proceeded with his helper's assistance to get into the diver's dress.
"The very second it's safe to go ahead, I'll give you word," continued Wilson. "Then hustle as if the devil were after you! Finish your job and beat it back here; we can't start till you get aboard. And don't get scared if you feel the sub move; only hustle. Once she starts, I'll hold her about three minutes; but that 's the limit."
Had Koenig seen what shortly occurred within that cabin he would have been shocked into hysterics. A little to one side of the center stood what looked like a good-sized phonograph cabinet, over which was carelessly draped a turkey-red table-cover. This was now thrown aside, and the top of
the cabinet removed, disclosing a kind of dumb-waiter shaft about two or three feet square. A shaft it was, and it led down through the bowels of the tug and out through her bottom plates. The air-pump was started, and Everett's face-plate screwed home. By means of tackle attached to a cross-beam overhead, he was carefully hauled up and then as carefully lowered into the shaft, and down, down, down, until he stood in the mud of the harbor bottom. not a soul outside the narrow limits of the cabin had the slightest inkling that a diver had entered the water.
For some days past, workman had been busy erecting an electric sign on the roof of the Judith's pier, advising the world in general as to the merits of "Baby's Own Soap." The sign had been finished and placed in operation the previous evening, and while the flasher seemed a little irregular in its action, this may have been due to the control wires, which ran into the tug's cabin. The sign's position was innocent enough; it seemed mere chance that while the tug Judith was thrown into deepest shadow, the Deutschland was brilliantly illuminated. Koenig cursed what he called "stupid Yankee notions," but beyond this paid little attention to the sign, although its constant flashing on and off was a source of annoyance.
Shortly after six, the watchers aboard the tug saw preparations for immediate departure. Then before their staring eyes Koenig did the very thing which Wilson had most feared-the thing which he had so strongly warned against, the thing concerning which his wise counsels had fortunately prevailed. He shivered a little as he realized how near they had been to failure.
"Quick, Roy! quick!" he called softly. "Warn Everett-tell him what he 's doing!"
The lad dived into the cabin like a frightened rabbit and snatched the telephone from the astonished helper. Then as the men on the sub reported "All clear," and Koenig gave the order to cast off, Roy, no longer able to control himself, fairly shrieked into the instrument:
"Now! now! Go to it! And for God's sake hurry!"