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Navy Boys Behind the Big Guns; Or, Sinking the German U-Boats
 

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Navy Boys Behind the Big Guns; Or, Sinking the German U-Boats


  NAVY BOYS BEHIND THE BIG GUNS

  Or

  Sinking the German U-Boats

  by

  HALSEY DAVIDSON

  Author of"Navy Boys after the Submarines," "Navy BoysChasing a Sea Raider," Etc.

  Illustrated

  New YorkGeorge Sully & CompanyPublishers

  The gunners were literally "stripped for action," theirglistening supple bodies alert as panthers.]

  * * * * *

  BOOKS FOR BOYS

  NAVY BOYS SERIES

  BY HALSEY DAVIDSON

  12mo. Cloth. Illustrated

  NAVY BOYS AFTER THE SUBMARINES Or Protecting the Giant Convoy

  NAVY BOYS CHASING A SEA RAIDER Or Landing a Million Dollar Prize

  NAVY BOYS BEHIND THE BIG GUNS Or Sinking the German U-Boats

  NAVY BOYS TO THE RESCUE Or Answering the Wireless Call for Help

  NAVY BOYS AT THE BIG SURRENDER Or Rounding Up the German Fleet

  THE NAVY BOYS ON SPECIAL SERVICE Or Guarding the Floating Treasury

  GEORGE SULLY & COMPANY PUBLISHERS NEW YORK

  COPYRIGHT, 1919, BY GEORGE SULLY & COMPANY

  _Navy Boys Chasing a Sea Raider_

  PRINTED IN U.S.A.

  * * * * *

  NAVY BOYS BEHIND THE BIG GUNS

  CONTENTS

  CHAPTER PAGE

  I A RUN TO ELMVALE 1

  II THE STRANGER 11

  III THE WATER WHEEL 19

  IV S. P. 888 27

  V THE STREAK ON THE WATER 38

  VI AN OLD FRIEND 44

  VII FOG HAUNTED 54

  VIII PUZZLED 64

  IX JUST TOO LATE 74

  X AHEAD OF THE FLOOD 81

  XI UNEXPECTED PERIL 90

  XII COURAGE 100

  XIII THE KENNEBUNK SAILS 106

  XIV AN UNEXPECTED TARGET 115

  XV THE BIG GUN SPEAKS 127

  XVI AN ACCIDENT 135

  XVII BLOWN UP 144

  XVIII MORE TROUBLE 155

  XIX COINCIDENCE 162

  XX THE WITCH'S WARNING 173

  XXI THE EXPLANATION 180

  XXII THE RACE 190

  XXIII UNDER SPECIAL ORDERS 196

  XXIV TICK-TOCK! TICK-TOCK! 204

  XXV IN THE THICK OF THE FIGHT 211

  NAVY BOYS BEHIND THEBIG GUNS

  CHAPTER I

  A RUN TO ELMVALE

  When Philip Morgan announced his approach by an unusually cheerfulstrain, Al Torrance was already behind the steering wheel of hisfather's car, with the engine purring smoothly.

  "'Lo, Whistler," Al said. "Thought you had forgotten where we planned togo this morning. What made you so late?"

  "'Lo, Torry. Never hit the hay till after one. Just talking. My jawsache," Morgan broke off his whistling long enough to say.

  "Sure it isn't whistling that's made your jaws ache?" queried his chumslyly. "Not having had much chance to pipe up while we were aboard ship,I guess you are making up for lost time."

  "Talking, I tell you," returned Morgan. "Thought the girls never wouldlet me stop. And father, too. Mother won't own up she's reconciled to mybeing in the Navy," and Whistler grinned suddenly. "But she listened toall I told them, too. She was just as eager to hear about it as Phoebeand Alice."

  "Guess you made yourself out to be some tough garby," chuckled Torrance,using the term the seamen themselves employ to designate a sailor.

  "Oh, I gave 'em an earful," Whistler agreed, and puckered his lipsagain.

  "Come on and get in," ordered Torry impatiently. "Pa's got to use thecar this afternoon. But he says we can have it to run over to Elmvalein, if we want."

  "Where are Frenchy and Ikey?" Whistler broke off in his tune again toask.

  "Going to wait for us down on High Street--and Seven Knott, too."

  "Did Hansie say he'd go?" cried the other sailor boy. "Bet he's sore ashe can be because he's not with the _Colodia_ and Lieutenant Lang."

  "He'd never 've taken this furlough, he says, if his mother hadn'tbegged so hard. Did you ever see a garby so stuck on a gold stripe asSeven Knott is on Lieutenant Commander Lang?" said Torry, ratherscornfully.

  "I don't know. Mr. Lang has been a good friend to Hans Hertig. This ishis second hitch under Mr. Lang," Whistler said.

  "Wonder if we'll enlist a second time, too, Whistler."

  "Bet you!" was the succinct reply.

  The car started under Torry's careful guidance, and they quickly whiskedaround the corner into the main street of Seacove, the small port inwhich the chums had been born and had lived all their lives until theyhad enlisted as seamen apprentices in the Navy not many months before.

  They passed the little cottage in which Mrs. Hertig, Seven Knott'smother, lived. Beyond that was the Donahue home, where Frenchy's widowedmother lived with his younger brothers and sisters.

  Then came the Rosenmeyer delicatessen shop, and there the car was pulleddown by Torry, for there was a little group outside the shop, the centerof which were three figures in blue.

  "Look at those happy Jacks, will you?" ejaculated Torry in feigneddisgust. "Got an audience, haven't they? And even Seven Knott must betalking some, too. What do you know about that?"

  For the attitude of Seacove had changed mightily since these boys hadjoined the Navy early in 1917. War had been declared between the UnitedStates and Germany and her allies, the drafted men were being called tothe training camps, and some had already gone "over there" and werefighting in the trenches of northern France.

  Philip Morgan, Alfred Torrance, Michael Donahue, Ikey Rosenmeyer, andtheir mates on the destroyer _Colodia_ had already aided in convoying alarge number of troop ships across the Atlantic, had chased submarinesand destroyed at least one of the enemy U-boats, and had hunted for andcaptured the German raider, _Graf von Posen_, which had among the otherloot in her hold the treasure of the Borgias which had been purchasedfrom an Italian nobleman by the four Navy boys' very good friend, Mr.Alonzo Minnette.

  The four friends, Morgan, Torrance, Donahue, and Ikey Rosenmeyer, theson of the proprietor of the village delicatessen store, had been givena furlough since landing at Norfolk with the captured raider, of theprize crew of which they had been members. Coming north to Seacoveby train, they had met their shipmate, Hans Hertig, known aboard the_Colodia_ as Seven Knott, who had likewise been given a furlough afterleaving the naval hospital where he had been convalescing from a wound.

  The _Colodia_ was still at sea--or across the Atlantic--or somewhere.The young seamen who belonged to her crew did not know where. Theyawaited her return to port in order to rejoin her.

  They had another iron in the fire, too; but that they did not talk aboutmuch, even among themselves. Mr. Minnette, who was their very goodfriend, and who worked now in a War Department office at Washington in alay capacity, had told them he would try his best to get them aboard anew superdreadnaught that was just out of the yard and was being fittedfor her maiden cruise.

  A number of Naval Reserves would be put aboard this new huge ship; andthe Seacove boys, with their expe
rience in the training school atSaugarack and aboard the _Colodia_, surely would be of some use astemporary members of the dreadnaught's crew.

  The boys had written Mr. Minnette about Seven Knott, for he was eager toget back into harness, too. And Seven Knott had held the rank ofboatswain's mate aboard the _Colodia_.

  Naturally the friends were all eager to get behind the big guns. Almostevery boy who joins the Navy desires to become a gunner. Whistler and AlTorrance were particularly striving for that position, and they studiedthe text-books and took every opportunity offered them to gain knowledgein that branch of the service.

  "Hi, fellows!" called Torry, having stopped the car. "Going to standthere gassing all day?"

  The three figures in seaman's dress broke away from their admiring friendsand approached the automobile. Frenchy Donahue was a little fellow withpink cheeks, bright eyes, and an Irish smile. Ikey Rosenmeyer was a shrewdlooking lad who always had a fund of natural fun on tap. The older man,Hans Hertig, was round-faced and solemn looking, and seldom had much tosay. He had had an adventurous experience both as a fisherman and navalseaman, and really attracted more attention in his home town than did thefour boy chums.

  "Get in, fellows," urged Torry. "We want to be sure to catch those chapsat Elmvale during the noon hour. They go home from the munition worksfor dinner, and we must talk with them then."

  Frenchy and Ikey and Seven Knott climbed into the tonneau and the carwhizzed away, leaving the crowd of boys and girls, and a few adults,staring after them.

  "By St. Patrick's piper that played the last snake out of Ireland!"sighed Frenchy, ecstatically, "we never was of such importance since wewas christened--hey, fellows?"

  "Oi, oi!" murmured Ikey, wagging his head, "my papa don't even suggestI should take out the orders to the customers no more. He does it himself,or he hires a feller to do it for him.

  "Mind, now! Last night he closed the shop an hour early so's to sit downwith my mama and me and Aunt Eitel in the back room, after the kids wasall in bed, and made me tell about all we'd done and seen. I tell youit's great!"

  "And before we began our hitch," Al Torrance chuckled, as he expertlyrounded a corner, "we were scarcely worth speaking to in Seacove. Nowfolks want to stop us on the street and tell us how much they think ofus."

  "Gee!" exploded Frenchy, "I could eat candy and ice cream all day longif I'd let the kids spend money on me."

  "We're sure some pumpkins," drawled Whistler Morgan, dryly, sittingaround in the front seat so he could talk with those in the rear."I say, Hans!"

  "Yep?" was Seven Knott's reply.

  "Do you really think we can get some of those fellows at Elmvale to goto the recruiting office and enlist?"

  "Yep. You fellows can tell 'em. You can talk better'n I can."

  Seven Knott knew his shipboard duties thoroughly, and never wasreprimanded for neglect of them. But since the four chums had known himwell, the petty officer had been no conversationalist, that was sure.

  "If this war was going to be won by talk, like some fellows in Congressseem to think," Al Torrance once said, "Seven Knott wouldn't have achance. But it is roughnecks just like him that man the boats and shootthe guns that are going to show Kaiser Bill where he gets off--believeme!"

  Elmvale was a factory town not more than six miles above Seacove. It wason the river, at the mouth of which was situated the little port inwhich were the homes of Whistler Morgan and his friends.

  The biggest dam in the State, the Elmvale Dam, held back the waters ofthe river above the village; and below the dam were several big millsand factories that got their power from the use of the water.

  On both sides of the stream, and around the cotton mills, the threadmills, and the munition factories, were built many little homes of thefactory and mill hands. It had been pointed out by the local papers thatthese homes were in double peril at this time.

  Guards were on watch night and day that ill-affected persons should notcome into the district and blow up the munition factories. But there wasa second and greater danger to the people of Elmvale.

  If anything should happen to the dam, if it should burst, the enormousquantity of water held in leash by the structure would pour over thevillage and cover half the houses to their chimney tops.

  Two bridges crossed the river at Elmvale; one at the village proper andthe other just below the dam itself and about half a mile from the firstmill, Barron & Brothers' Thread Factory.

  "Let's take the upper road," proposed Frenchy, as the car came withinsight of the chimneys of the Elmvale mills. "We've plenty of time beforethe noon whistle blows. I haven't been up by the dam since before we alljoined the Navy."

  "Just as you fellows say," Al responded, and turned into a side roadthat soon brought them above the mills on the ridge overlooking thevalley.

  "I say, fellows," Whistler stopped whistling long enough to observe,"there's a slue of water behind that dam. S'pose she should let go allof a sudden?"

  "I'd rather be up here than down there," Al said.

  "Oi, oi!" croaked Ikey, "you said something."

  "I wonder if they guard that dam as they say they do the munitionfactories," Frenchy put in.

  Al turned the machine into the road that descended into the valley by asharp incline. In sight of the bridge which crossed the river Whistlersuddenly put his hand upon his chum's arm.

  "Hold on, Torry," he said earnestly. "I bet that's one of the guardsnow. See that fellow in the bushes over there?"

  "I see the man you mean!" Frenchy exclaimed, leaning over the back ofthe front seat of the automobile. "But he isn't in khaki. And he hasn'tgot a gun."

  All the Navy boys in the automobile, even Seven Knott, saw the man towhom Whistler Morgan had first drawn attention. The man had his back tothe road. He was standing upright with a pair of field glasses to hiseyes. His interest seemed fixed on a point along the face of the damjust where a thin slice of water ran over the flashboard into the rockybed of the river.

 
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