Project Gutenberg's The Motor Boys Bound for Home, by Clarence Young

This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere in the United States and most
other parts of the world at no cost and with almost no restrictions
whatsoever.  You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of
the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at  If you are not located in the United States, you'll have
to check the laws of the country where you are located before using this ebook.

Title: The Motor Boys Bound for Home
       or, Ned, Bob and Jerry on the Wrecked Troopship

Author: Clarence Young

Release Date: December 10, 2016 [EBook #53704]

Language: English

Character set encoding: UTF-8


Produced by Donald Cummings and the Online Distributed
Proofreading Team at





Ned, Bob and Jerry on the
Wrecked Troopship







12mo. Cloth. Illustrated. Colored Jacket.



Copyright, 1920, by
Cupples & Leon Company

The Motor Boys Bound for Home

Printed in U. S. A.


I Turning Back 1
II Suspicions 9
III The Little Man 18
IV Off Again 26
V The Night Attack 37
VI A Strange Encounter 45
VII A Midnight Blast 52
VIII Disabled 60
IX The Mysterious Cabin 68
X Calling in Vain 76
XI Drifting 83
XII Through the Open Door 91
XIII A Well-Known Voice 101
XIV The Fog 109
XV The Crash 117
XVI A Waif of the Sea 125
XVII Ned Wonders 133
XVIII A Queer Craft 140
XIX A Lone Navigator 149
XX Three on a Raft 156
XXI Reunited 165
XXII Ned and Pepper-Pot 175
XXIII Making the Best of It 181
XXIV Ned Learns Something 189
XXV The Bow Gun 198
XXVI Leaking 208
XXVII The Wireless 214
XXVIII The Search 222
XXIX “Derelict Ahoy!” 232
XXX All’s Well—Conclusion 237






Slowly and ponderously the United States transport, Sherman, moved out of the maze of boats that had clustered about her at the Brest dock. With ever-gathering speed she thrust her prow into the rippling water, leaving behind, on the wharf, cheering hundreds of Uncle Sam’s boys who envied the lot of their fellows in thus sailing for home after the Great War. Mingled with the resonant voices of the Americans were the shriller notes of their French comrades, who were bidding God-speed to their allied comrades.

“Well, we’re really off at last,” remarked a tall, bronzed youth, speaking to some of his chums who leaned over the rail with him, waving to friends on the wharf.


“Yes, Jerry,” remarked a rather stout khaki-clad soldier lad, “off at last. And now that the captain can dispense with my valuable services in warping the ship away from the dock—I believe warping is the proper word—I’m going to look——”

“For the kitchen!” interrupted a third member of the little group clustered about the lad called Jerry, who wore on his coat the D. S. C. of valor. “Isn’t that what you were going to say, Bob?”

“What’s that about a kitchen?” asked the youth called Jerry.

“Oh, Bob is up to his old tricks,” remarked the soldier who had interrupted his friend’s facetious words.

“Perhaps I may be, Ned,” came in reply from the stout one; “but I know enough not to call the place on board a ship where food is prepared a ‘kitchen.’ Why don’t you say galley, you land-lubber?” and with this parting shot Bob Baker, winking one eye at his tall friend, Jerry Hopkins, strolled aft.

He was soon lost in the throng of soldiers which crowded every available part of the transport, and Ned and Jerry, retaining their places by the rail, looked down at the water of the harbor which they were leaving behind. This was one of the first transports to depart for the United States after the terrible conflict, and in addition to taking[3] home a number of unwounded men, it also carried many casual cases.

Among the former were many friends and comrades of Jerry Hopkins, Ned Slade, and Bob Baker, three chums known to many of my readers as the “Motor Boys,” of whom more will later be told.

“Yes, we’re on our way,” remarked Ned to Jerry, as the two stood somewhat apart for the moment, their friends at the rail having moved to one side. “We’re on our way, and Bob hasn’t lost much time in starting his favorite indoor sport.”

“Well, I don’t know that I blame him,” announced Jerry. “The eating problem has been a hard one for all of us since this war started, and there’s such a crowd on board that it isn’t likely to be an easy matter to get a feed now. Bob always was one who believed in safety first, when it comes to his stomach.”

“You’re right!” assented Ned. “But there’s one thing about him: He isn’t mean, and if he finds a way to get an extra supply of grub he’ll share it with us.”

“You said a mouthful!” agreed Jerry.

For several moments they stood looking at the gradually disappearing reminders of the late conflict—the docks and the buildings at the Brest camp, in France, where they had spent some days[4] in waiting for transportation back to the United States. Then Ned turned to look over the seething deck.

“This is some crowd!” murmured Ned. “I hope Bob doesn’t get lost in it.”

“Especially if he does manage to find the galley, and can bribe or intimidate one of the cooks into slipping him something on the side,” added Jerry. “In that case I hope Bob’s memory carries him back to us, for, to tell you the truth, I’m hungry.”

“So’m I,” admitted Ned; “though I did pull a raw one on Chunky. But I guess we ought to consider ourselves lucky to be on board.”

“You said it!” declared Jerry. “There’s a lot of the boys who would give up a wound stripe for the sake of going back on one of these early boats. Now that the war is practically over, there’s going to be a big slump in the enthusiasm that kept us going when nothing else would have done it. Yes, we’re dead lucky to be going back.”

And so, amid the whistle salutes of other craft, the waving of hands and the tossing of hats and caps from unknown well-wishers, the Sherman kept on her way.

Out toward the west she headed, out toward the land of the Stars and Stripes, and deep in their hearts Ned, Bob, and Jerry were thankful for the Providence that had picked them as among[5] the first to go back home after the fighting was over.

They had covered themselves with glory, for in addition to the D. S. C. bestowed on Jerry Hopkins, Ned and Bob had received honorable mention, and their company was one picked out for signal honor, the three boys sharing in the general praise.

“I wonder how things are going back in Cresville,” mused Ned, after a period of silence on the part of himself and Jerry.

“That’s queer! I was just thinking that same thing myself,” the taller lad exclaimed. “It will seem mighty quiet after the hail-storms we’ve been through.”

“Hail-storms is right,” agreed Ned Slade. “But it can’t be too quiet for me. All I want to do is to sit under a tree back of the house, with plenty of books and magazines to read, clean clothes—real clean clothes—to wear, a bath-tub where I know where it is, and——”

“Something to eat!” interrupted a voice behind him, and, turning, Ned and Jerry beheld their stout chum, Bob Baker, who smilingly held out some sandwiches.

“Running true to form,” murmured Ned, as he accepted one, and also a bit of chocolate candy his friend extended. “How’d you manage to do it, Bob?”


“Oh, my hypnotic eye. Just told one of the cooks I had to have something if they didn’t want the captain to read the service for burial at sea. And the cook allowed he didn’t want that to happen so soon after we’d got started. This is the result,” and Bob began munching on his share of the auxiliary rations, an example followed by Ned and Jerry.

“Am I right?” mumbled Bob, between bites.

“Right-O, Chunky!” murmured Jerry. “This touches the right spot.”

“Do you accept my amendment regarding the necessities you require on reaching home, Ned?” asked Bob, after a period of eloquent silence.

“Amendment accepted, all in favor say ‘aye!’” exclaimed Ned, adding, a moment later: “The ayes have it!”

“Didn’t see anything of Professor Snodgrass, did you?” asked Jerry of his chums, as they disposed of the last of the sandwiches and chocolate Bob had procured in some mysterious way.

“No,” answered Ned. “The last I saw of him was when he had seen to it that Gladys Petersen and Dorothy Gibbs were safely on their way home and he was packing up his pictures and specimens of bugs and things to ship to the college.”

“He said he might possibly join us on this transport,” said Bob. “And he may be here, for[7] all we know. Looks as if everybody I ever met in France is on board.”

“Not that pretty little girl with the black hair and brown eyes you were so fond of in the restaurant—she isn’t here, is she?” asked Jerry.

“Oh, cut it out!” growled Bob. “You know what I mean.”

“But did she know what you meant?” asked Ned pointedly. “You know you never could get the hang of the French words, and she used to rip them out like a drygoods clerk tearing off a yard of muslin.”

“Say, if you fellows think I’m going to rustle grub for you, and then have you insult me, you’ve got another guess and a half coming!” cried Bob hotly—so hotly, in fact, that Jerry quickly interposed.

“That’s all right, Bob,” he said quietly, laying a cautioning hand on Ned’s shoulder. “We two were just as fond of Marie as you were, only she seemed to take more of a notion to you than she did to us.”

This admission apparently brightened Bob visibly, and his anger slowly died away.

“And, going back to the original subject,” said Ned, “did either of you see the professor?”

They had not, they admitted.

“Well, we’re not likely to hear from him until we get across, then,” decided Bob.


But it was not to be long before his words were disproved.

Gathering speed, the transport moved ahead, and the craft was approaching the open sea, leaving behind, in a misty haze, the camp at Brest, when without warning she suddenly slowed up, not gradually, as if making a regular stop, but with a jar and a shudder that seemed to go through her whole structure.

“What’s that?” cried Bob, as he and his chums felt the tremors and the vibration.

“Something’s wrong!” said Ned in a low voice.

“Could we have struck a mine?” asked Bob in a half whisper, as though he feared to start a panic. “It couldn’t be a sub, could it? I thought——”

He did not finish the sentence, for in the midst of it the vessel started on again; but, to the surprise of all, she began turning slowly back toward the port she had so recently left.



Not much imagination is required to picture the confusion on board the U. S. S. Sherman when she was turned around and headed for Brest, the port from which the craft had so recently sailed. And also it is easy to guess something of the many and rapid questions that were fired from all directions, without any counter-barrage in the way of replies being given.

“What does it mean?”

“Aren’t they going to let us go home after all?”

“Have the Germans started another war?”

“Did we strike a mine?”

“Has a torpedo hit us?”

The two last were the questions most often asked, for it was easily within the bounds of possibility that the craft might have been damaged by some floating mine, nor was it out of the bounds of possibility that she might have been torpedoed. Some German captain of a submarine, not having heard of the signing of the armistice, or choosing[10] to ignore it, perhaps pleading ignorance later, might easily have taken this method of revenge for the fancied wrongs to the “Fatherland.”

And so it was that on all sides arose the question:

“What has happened?”

But no one answered it. At least the returning soldiers, among whom were Ned, Bob, and Jerry, had no one to answer it for them. They “milled around” on the decks, surging this way and that until they threatened the equilibrium of the vessel and the officers had to go among them ordering them to remain quiet.

“But what has happened, sir?” asked Jerry of a captain with whom he was on friendly terms.

“I don’t know, exactly. Something seemed to go wrong with the machinery. But there is no danger. We are only a short distance from shore. It is the duty of every one to remain calm.”

The boys did their best, but the questioning still persisted and at length Jerry said:

“Fellows, I’m going to find out what the matter is.”

“I am, too!” exclaimed Ned.

“So’m I!” added Bob. “Maybe the galley is on fire, and——”

“That would be a terrible calamity!” laughed Jerry, and his laugh seemed to ease the tension[11] somewhat. Then he added: “You two boys had better stay here. If three of us chase around we’ll be ordered to keep to one spot. But if I go alone I may be able to manage it.”

“And as soon as you find out what it is come back and tell us,” begged Ned.

“Sure thing!” promised his tall chum, as he moved away.

While Jerry is thus endeavoring to learn the cause of the sudden turning back of the troopship, readers who are meeting Ned, Bob, and Jerry for the first time will be told something more about the lads, so they may seem more like old acquaintances.

To those readers who have the first book of this series, entitled “The Motor Boys,” not much need be said. It need only be stated that the present series, under the caption “Ned, Bob and Jerry,” is a continuation of the same characters in new fields.

Ned Slade was the son of a wealthy department store-keeper. Bob Baker’s father was a banker. And Mrs. Julia Hopkins, the mother of Jerry, was financially interested in several institutions controlled by Mr. Slade and Mr. Baker. The youths lived in Cresville, in one of our New England states, and their interest in locomotion dated from the days of their early boyhood, when they owned motor cycles. It was their activities[12] on these machines that gained them the appellation of “Motor Boys.” They later secured an automobile, and in this they made a trip Overland, to Mexico, and Across the Plains, as related in the books bearing those distinctive titles.

Afterward the boys secured a motor boat and had many voyages, including travel on the Atlantic, the Pacific, and in Strange Waters. Trips above the clouds followed in airships of various makes, and, not satisfied with that, the three adventurous lads descended to the depths in submarines.

Following a series of exciting adventures, detailed at length, there was a conference on the part of the parents of Ned, Bob and Jerry. It was decided that the lads had better “buckle down” to some serious work in life, and, accordingly, they were sent to college to complete their educations.

In “The Motor Boys at Boxwood Hall, or, Ned, Bob and Jerry as Freshmen,” is related the many jolly times they had and how they helped to establish a reputation for old Boxwood Hall in athletics. At Boxwood Hall the three had lots of fun, as well as doing good work in their studies. The boys had many obstacles and difficulties to overcome but how they won out in the end is set forth in detail in the book.

The three chums spent a summer on a ranch,[13] and then the Great War broke out. Ned, Bob and Jerry joined the army, and, in due course, they found themselves fighting Germany. What happened to them is set forth in the book immediately preceding this, called “The Motor Boys on the Firing Line.” More than the details of many battles is in this volume, for in addition to fighting for Uncle Sam the Motor Boys had also to help their friend, Professor Uriah Snodgrass.

This doughty little scientist was the boys companion on their many trips, and he not only enjoyed the companionship of the boys, but he obtained much information by going with them, not to mention many valuable, if not always pleasant specimens. For Professor Snodgrass collected bugs, snakes and allied creatures for Boxwood Hall and other colleges and also several museums.

He had gone to Europe with the boys on a double mission. One was to find two young ladies—Dorothy Gibbs and Gladys Petersen—nieces of Professor Petersen’s, and the other was to get photographs of the effects of war noises on certain insects.

Professor Snodgrass found the girls, and, with the help of the three boys, was able to send them back to the United States. He also got the pictures he wanted, and he secured for himself a[14] large sum of money. This money had been left by Professor Petersen to Professor Snodgrass, provided the latter discovered the whereabouts of the two young ladies.

Now, with the ending of the war Ned, Bob and Jerry had started back home on the transport. Professor Snodgrass, having seen to it that the nieces of his late friend were safely cared for, had turned his attention to shipping back the moving and other pictures he had made of the insects. The boys had lost sight of him in the confusion of the preparations for sailing for home. Professor Snodgrass, however, had said he might meet the boys on the transport. But, up to the time of the turning back of the Sherman, no further word had been received concerning the little scientist.

Now all was confusion on board the troopship. In spite of the orders of the officers, the men kept moving here and there, each one seeking to learn the cause of the trouble, to find out why they should be going back to France when they hoped they had left it for good—and this was saying or thinking nothing against the country that had given them such a warm welcome in her hour of dire distress.

“It’s a fat chance Jerry has of finding out what the row is,” commented Ned to Bob, as they retained their places near the crowded rail close[15] to one of the lifeboats—a position Jerry had assigned to them as a rendezvous.

“What makes you think so?” asked Bob.

“Because I just heard our colonel telling the major he didn’t know what was up.”

“Well, maybe it isn’t generally known yet,” said Bob. “If there’s been an accident the captain of the ship is sure to know about it, even if he doesn’t tell our colonel right away. You see the ship captain is in full authority, once the vessel gets away from the dock. His word is law, and the military authorities, that had the say on shore, don’t cut any ice now.”

“Poetically speaking,” added Ned, with a smile.

“Exactly,” agreed Bob, also grinning. “You see the safety of the ship depends on the captain, and you can stake your last doughnut that he knows what’s up, even if he hasn’t told any of the military crowd, which includes us—ahem!” and Bob swelled up his chest. “But you can depend on it that if anything is to be found out Jerry will discover it. He has a way with him!”

“Can he find out something our colonel can’t learn?” asked Ned.

“He might. The colonel couldn’t descend to asking information of a stoker or a coal passer, but Jerry could, not being of the elect, you know. Yes, you let Jerry-boy alone, and he’ll come home with the bacon. And, speaking of bacon, I wish[16] I had some right now, with some fresh eggs, and have them with the sunny-sides up. The bacon nice and crisp, and the coffee just right, with cream in a little pitcher on the side and——”


That was Ned giving Bob a thump on the back.

“What’s the matter?” indignantly demanded the stout youth.

“Cut out the imaginary eats!” was the answer. “Haven’t we got troubles enough without that? But here comes Jerry. Now to see if he has found out anything!”

The tall lad, on whose coat was the D. S. C., sauntered toward his two chums. With a signal from his eyes—a signal they well knew how to interpret, Ned and Bob moved to one side. Jerry had told them, without the use of words, that he wanted to speak with them alone.

Just then, fortunately for their plans, there was a little commotion farther up the deck, and in the rush that followed there was a clear space left near the rail where the three boys now stood.

“Well, what is it?” asked Ned, as Jerry looked first at him and then at Bob. “Are we sinking, Jerry?”

“Far from it. The hull is as sound as a dollar.”

“Then it wasn’t a mine or a torpedo?” asked Bob.

“Not this time. But there has been an accident[17] to the machinery, and we’re returning to the dock for repairs.”

“Only an accident to the machinery!” exclaimed Ned. “Then why, in the name of Andy Rush, all this mystery and excitement?”

“Because,” answered Jerry slowly, “from what I heard, the accident was a premeditated one, and it looks suspicious.”

“Suspicious!” exclaimed his two chums.

“Hush! Yes! But not so loud. That’s why I gave you the high sign to let me have a word alone with you. There’s a rumor that some revengeful German may have set off a time bomb in the engine room. So far the damage is slight, but——”

Jerry paused, for another tremor ran through the ship and again the vessel came to a sudden stop.



“Say, this is getting a bit more than interesting!” cried Ned, as he and Bob gazed at Jerry.

The stout lad looked up at the lifeboat near which he leaned on the rail.

“None of that!” warned Jerry. “Don’t start a rush. There’s no danger!”

But his words did not seem to be borne out, for no sooner was it apparent to all on board that the Sherman had come to a stop again than a sort of panic began which the officers had to work hard to subdue. Finally the colonel commanding the troops had to make an address from the main deck.

“There is absolutely no danger!” he declared. “The captain assures me the ship is not leaking a drop, and we shall soon be back at the dock whence we started. This is unfortunate, but it can not be helped. We shall start for home again as soon as possible.”

“When will that be, sir?” some soldier asked.[19] While another—more than one, in fact—inquired as to the cause of the trouble.

“There has been an accident to the machinery,” the colonel stated. “One of the engines is disabled, and that puts all the work on the remaining unit. I am told that this excess caused a temporary stoppage of the one good engine. But we shall soon be under way again.”

“Was there an explosion?” some one asked.

“A slight one, yes,” was the rather hesitating answer.

“What caused it?”

“Did we hit a mine?”

“Was it a Boche?”

These were only a few of the questions, hurled like hand grenades, at the colonel.

“I am not at liberty to say what caused the explosion,” he announced. “It can not be told at present. All I ask of you—all that your officers ask of you—is that you remain quiet. We shall soon start again, to be quickly back at the dock.”

“For how long?” asked several.

That seemed to strike a popular chord.

“I am sorry, but I am unable to answer that question,” replied the colonel with a smile. “I know you all want it answered, and I will say that if it is found it will require too long to repair the damage to this transport another will be provided.”


There was a cheer at this, and the colonel and his staff looked relieved. The danger of a panic and a rush for the boats seemed past. But many rumors were still in circulation, and that of a German spy or some Hun sympathizer having tried to sink the transport and the troops gained each hour.

It seemed a very long time, though it was not more than two hours, before the ship was under way again. But she limped along under less than half steam, and many anxious hearts were glad when the dock they had recently left loomed in sight again.

The accident, of whatever nature it was, had happened when the Sherman was not far from shore, and, even had it been necessary to launch the lifeboats and rafts, it is probable that all on board would have been saved.

But there was always danger, especially when the wounded men were considered, and there were not a few of them on board. Consequently, it was with a feeling of relief that all observed the craft being warped back to the berth she had so lately left.

“Now the question arising is: What——”

“Are we going to eat, and when!” interrupted Ned, breaking in on what Bob had started to say.

“As you were! As you were!” growled the stout lad. “I wasn’t going to say that at all.[21] What I mean is: ‘What’s going to happen to us? Shall we have to stay cooped up on board when there’s peace and plenty and room to move about on shore?’”

“Not to mention Marie, of le restaurant de la palma or something like that,” mocked Jerry.

“That’s right—keep on picking at me!” mourned Bob. “But you guys’ll be just as glad as I shall be to get off this tub if she isn’t moving toward the U. S. A.”

“Guess you’re right,” assented Jerry. “It isn’t going to be much fun cooped up here if we’re going to stay tied to the dock. It’s too crowded. Wouldn’t be so bad if we were at sea and knew we were moving toward home. But if we have to hang around this dock it will give me the willies!”

“You said another mouthful!” agreed Ned. “But it’s a good thing this accident didn’t happen when we were three or four days out. And maybe they’ll let us go ashore.”

This hope was realized, at least on the part of the Motor Boys, a little later. Once the Sherman was made fast to the dock again, there were numerous petitions from the privates to their officers for permission to go ashore, if only for a few hours. Ned, Bob, and Jerry made their requests, and, to their delight, they were granted. Perhaps Jerry’s D. S. C. and the honors attained by Ned and Bob had something to do with this.


“But you must not go far away, and you must report back here on board in three hours,” their captain told them. “It is thought the repairs will be completed by then.”

Jerry and his chums were closely scrutinized and their passes examined with care when they walked down the gangplank to the dock. All who were allowed to go on shore were thus observed, and as the three friends passed out to the streets of the city which had loomed so large of late as the location of the camp of much rain and mud, they noted that the sentries had been doubled around the wharf of the Sherman.

“If there’s a German spy on board he’ll stand a fat chance if they find him,” said Bob, as he and his chums started off on their leave.

The three boys headed at once for a restaurant, for the emergency rations which Bob had, somehow, managed to secure had long since lost their effects. And, for a wonder, Ned and Jerry did not twit their stout companion with being over-zealous in his desire for food. They wanted it as much as he did.

Moreover, they went to the restaurant where the pretty Marie waited on one of the tables. Bob had discovered this “life-saving station” in the midst of his wanderings about Brest, and after some persuasion on the part of his chums had let them into the secret of it. Thereafter they spent[23] much of their leave-time in this place. Now again they headed for it.

And Marie was there. She welcomed the boys with a smile. With smiles, in fact; for though Bob claimed it as his right to bask in them to the exclusion of all others, Marie, in reality, smiled impartially on her “three musketeers.”

“Back so soon?” she asked, with her fascinating accent and pronunciation.

“Yes. Couldn’t stay away from you, ma’m’sell,” returned Bob, trying to catch Marie’s eyes in a glance that meant more than words.

“What’s that? What’s she got to sell?” asked Ned, winking at Jerry.

“Oh, cut it out! That’s an old one,” replied Bob. “I can speak as good French as you.”

“Better, mon ami, much better!” laughed Jerry. “Now you two old roosters stop kidding and get down to business. We have only three hours’ shore leave, so let’s make the most of it. What have you to eat, Marie?”

“Now you’re talking!” commented Ned. “Bob can live on love if he likes, as for me, give me——”

“Liberty or death!” chanted Bob.

They all laughed gaily, and Marie was told, in a casual way, of the accident to the troopship and her trip back to the dock.

The boys were so taken up with the pretty waitress[24] and with getting their appetites in a fair way to be satisfied, that they paid little attention to those around them at the other tables. But when they had begun to eat, and the sharp edge of their hunger was somewhat dulled, Jerry looked about the restaurant to note the possible presence of some of their friends who, like themselves, might have also received shore leave from the Sherman.

Jerry did not see any soldiers whom he and his chums knew, though he did observe a number of Uncle Sam’s boys, together with some French poilus and British Tommies. What attracted his attention, however, was the sight of a little bald-headed man seated at a table two or three removed from the one at which he and his friends were dining. The little man was in civilian clothes.

“Look!” excitedly exclaimed Jerry, nudging Ned, who sat next to him. “Look over there!”

He pointed to the little bald-headed man, who was busy over his soup.

“Professor Snodgrass!” exclaimed Ned. “Well, this is luck!”

Jerry arose from his chair, followed by Ned, and started toward the man to whom he had called the attention of his chums. The man’s back was toward the lads, but there was no doubt in their minds that he was their scientific friend.

“Where have you been, Professor Snodgrass?”[25] asked Jerry, as, with Ned, he stood at the other table.

And then the two boys received the surprise of their lives. For the little man who gazed quickly up at them was not Professor Snodgrass at all, though he bore a wonderfully striking resemblance to him from the back.

But more strange than the fact of his being the professor’s double (which was not so pronounced when his face was seen) was the action of the little man. His face turned red with rage, and he fairly spluttered as he rose from his chair, facing Jerry and Ned, and exclaiming:

“What do you mean? How dare you call me Professor Snodgrass? How dare you insult me? I shall complain to the manager! How dare you?”

Highly indignant, he motioned to Jerry and Ned to move back, and, hardly knowing what they were doing, they retreated, while the eyes of all in the restaurant were turned on them.



Jerry Hopkins was the first of the three chums to regain his composure and take the situation in hand. Quietly he motioned to Ned to fall back, and, at the same time, nodded to Bob not to approach, as the stout youth seemed about to do. The two soldiers had had enough experience with Jerry’s method in an emergency to be willing to let him manage matters now.

“What do you mean? What do you mean?” spluttered the little man, who, from the back, had so closely resembled Professor Snodgrass. “How dare you insult me?”

“There seems to be some mistake,” said Jerry, trying to keep his voice under control, for, truth to tell, he was as indignant as his chums were at the unwarranted assumption on the part of the stranger.

“Mistake? I should say there had been!” was the exclamation from the little man. “You made a mistake in thinking I had anything to do[27] with that—that charlatan! That pretender! That scientific faker, who calls himself ‘Professor’ Snodgrass. A mistake indeed!”

“Wait a minute! Wait a minute!” broke in Ned, unable longer to hear his friend thus abused. “The mistake will be on the other foot in a minute if you keep on that way!” he said indignantly.

The little man seemed about to rise from the table to attack Ned, but Jerry gently thrust back his impetuous chum.

“Let me handle him,” he whispered to Ned.

“Is he crazy?” asked Bob.

“It begins to look that way,” answered Jerry, as the little man resumed his seat at his table, though he did not continue his meal.

“We wish to apologize for having mistaken you for a friend of ours,” said Jerry suavely. “Seeing you from the back we took you to be Professor Snodgrass, and——”

“Is he a friend of yours?” asked the little man fiercely.

“He certainly is!” exclaimed Bob truculently.

“Well, all I have to say is that I am sorry for you,” said the little man. “You had no right to assume that I was he, and your effrontery in publicly addressing me as such needs to be apologized for.”

“Which we are doing,” said Jerry stiffly. “And I might add,” he went on, “that if you continue in[28] your present strain there will be something else to apologize for, and not on our part, either!” He seemed quite a different Jerry now.

“We have made proper reparation for having mistaken you for our friend, Professor Snodgrass,” he continued, “and that, to a gentleman, should be sufficient. I think that is all, sir!”

Jerry turned stiffly and marched back to his own table, followed by Ned and Bob, who had left their seats to join him. For a few seconds the little bald-headed man did not seem to know what to do. He said something about its being “all right now,” but mingled with this were grunts and mutterings about “insolent puppies,” which words, however, Jerry and his chums thought best to ignore.

“Say, what was eating him, anyhow?” asked Bob, when they had resumed their seats for their dessert which the pretty Marie was then bringing to them.

“I guess you mean what had he been eating,” said Ned. “Red pepper and chili con carne I imagine, with a dish of tabasco sauce and frijoles on the side.”

“Reminds me of our Mexico trip,” interposed Bob. “What was the name of that Spanish fellow who was always making so much trouble?”

“You mean Vasco Bilette,” suggested Jerry.

“That’s it! This fellow, who really looks a[29] lot like our dear, old professor, certainly is touchy.”

“He certainly is,” agreed Jerry. “Say, Bob,” he went on, “you claim you can parlez-vous better than the rest of us. Suppose you ask Marie if she knows this duck.”

“Sure!” assented the stout lad. “Say, chere Marie,” he went on as the pretty little waitress came up to their table, “comprehendez-vous him?” and he pointed to the man who was the cause of the Motor Boys’ discomfiture. For it had been disquieting, to say the least, to have the eyes of all in the restaurant turned on them during the fracas, as Ned termed it.

Comprehendez-vous him?” asked Bob of Marie. “You know. La petite hommes de la table d’hote,” and to make sure that his “French” would be understood he pointed to the little man.

“Say, what’s that you’re getting off?” demanded Jerry.

“I’m asking her if she’s wise to the guy who’s eating in this restaurant,” translated Bob. “Comprehendez—that means ‘do you know.’ La petite—that means ‘little’ and hommes means ‘man.’”

“He’s right there,” declared Ned earnestly, while Marie looked amusedly at “les trois mousquetaires.”

“How do you know?” snapped Jerry.

“Why, isn’t it painted all over the cars we’ve[30] been riding in, ‘chevaux 8—hommes 40’? That is eight horses or forty men. Sure hommes mean men, or man.”

“Watch Bob swell up,” commented Jerry.

“Well, you told me to spout French, and I’m doing it,” said the lad with the perpetual appetite. “Now give her a chance to answer. I’ll ask her again. Chere Marie! Comprehendez-vous la petite hommes de la table d’hote?

The pretty waitress placed on the table the dishes she had brought up to serve, turned for a look over her shoulder at the man Bob referred to, and then looked back, with a smile, at the stout lad and his chums.

Oui,” she answered, guessing shrewdly at Bob’s meaning and shrugging her shoulders expressively.

“Oh, ho! So she does know him!” exclaimed Ned, for in spite of the fact that they let Bob assert his knowledge of French, they could not help acquiring some of the words, and that “oui” meant “yes” had been one of their first acquisitions.

“Who is he?” asked Jerry.

“She can’t understand that,” declared Bob. “Wait, I’ll translate it to her.” Then, laboriously he said: “Le nom des hommes? Comprehendez-vous?

“What’s that?” Ned wanted to know.


“I’m asking her if she knows his name,” replied Bob.

They looked anxiously at Marie. Again she turned and glanced at the little man who had waxed so indignant at being taken for Professor Snodgrass.

Cochon!” exclaimed Marie, and she seemed to snap out the word as a second lieutenant issues his commands to the awkward squad.

“What did she say?” chorused Ned and Jerry.

Bob was nonplussed. He scratched his head and then repeated the word to Marie.

Cochon?” he asked.

Cochon! Cochon!” was the swift answer. “Oui! Cochon des cochons!

“Um!” murmured Bob.

There was a moment’s silence, during which Marie moved off to serve another table.

“Well, what is he, a German spy?” asked Ned. “If he is, he has his nerve with him—showing up here after the armistice.”

“Yes, tell us what she said,” begged Jerry.

“Well,” returned Bob slowly, “you know the French language is very queer. It isn’t like any other language.”

“Oh, we know that all right!” exclaimed Ned. “You needn’t tell us that. Even though you may know a lot more about it than we do, it hasn’t taken us six months to appreciate the fact that it’s[32] a mighty elusive way of conversing. But what I want to know, and what Jerry wants to know, is: What did Marie say that pepper-hash guy was?”

“Well,” confessed Bob, “that’s just it. If the French language didn’t have so many words in it that sound a lot alike, but mean a lot of different things, I could be sure. She called him a cochon.”

“A cochon of a cochon,” added Jerry.

“Yes, that’s what she did,” said Bob.

“Well, but what is a cochon?” asked Ned.

“It’s either a pig or a coachman,” said Bob, desperately. “That’s the trouble. I’m not sure which. I forget whether cocher is pig or whether it’s coachman, and I don’t know whether cochon is coachman or pig. I know it’s one or the other, but just now I sort of forget.”

“A heap of good your French does us!” laughed Jerry. “If she said he was a coachman it might mean he was a respectable, though humble, member of society. If, on the other hand, she called him a pig, it might mean he had something to do with starting this war. Now which is it?”

Bob scratched his head again. Plainly, he was “stumped.”

“I’ll ask her again when she comes back,” he said. “I wish I had my French book here. I sort of think that cochon means pig, and, in that case——”

“Well, he certainly acted like a pig, so we’ll let[33] it go at that,” declared Jerry. “The idea of getting on his ear just because we happened to mistake him for Professor Snodgrass!”

“And he did look a lot like him from the back,” declared Ned.

“Sure,” assented Bob. “I wonder where the dear old chap is, anyhow? I wish he were going back with us.”

“Not much chance of that,” said Jerry. “He said he’d like to, and he really started back, but he received word to take up some other line of scientific investigation before he left to go back to Boxwood Hall, and you can wager your last cartridge that he’ll do it. But this man seems to have some sort of grudge against him, taking us up the way he did.”

“That’s right,” agreed Ned. “Say, Bob, you’ll have to tackle your friend Marie again. See if you can’t find out more about this duck.”

“I will,” promised Bob. “I’ll speak to her as soon as she comes back. It might be, you know, that this fellow is some relation to the Germans the professor captured.”

“Not much chance of that,” declared Jerry. “This cocher or cochon doesn’t seem a bit like a Hun.”

“You never can tell,” remarked Ned. “We’d better find out all we can about him while we have the chance. If Professor Snodgrass is going to[34] remain here it would be a good thing for him to know about this guy.”

“Here comes Marie now,” said Jerry. “Go at her again, Bob, and see if she can’t speak English.”

“I will,” agreed the stout youth.

When Marie again approached their table, in response to a beckoning signal, Bob began:

Marie, de la cochon la petite cocher est le——

“Oh, for cats’ sake!” cried Ned, “you’ll be worse tangled than before. Can’t you get some American words? Here, let me——”

But at that moment there came an interruption in the person of a member of the American military police who, thrusting his head into the restaurant, called:

“Anybody here that’s booked to go on the Sherman had better hike back to the dock. She’s going to sail soon.”

“Has the machinery been repaired?” asked Jerry.

“Yes! She’s getting ready to sail. You fellows going on her?”

“Yes,” answered Ned.

“Oh, you lucky dogs!” sighed the other. “Well, get a move on. We got orders to round up everybody that had shore leave,” and with a friendly wave of his hand he departed.


“Come on!” cried Jerry, gathering up a few possessions, an example followed by the others.

“I’ll pay the bill,” said Ned, taking a handful of change out of his pocket.

“Where’s Marie?” asked Bob. “I want to——”

“Oh, never mind finding out what cochon means!” exclaimed Jerry. “We don’t want to be left!”

“I want to say good-bye!” declared Bob, indignantly. “And I was going to ask her if she could put us up some sandwiches.”

“Cupboard love!” laughed Ned. “Come on! Move lively!”

“The pepper-hash individual is moving, too,” commented Jerry, as they left the restaurant, having noted that the man who had so resented being taken for Professor Snodgrass was also settling his bill.

“Well, if he doesn’t run into us again I’ll be thankful,” remarked Jerry. “He sure did make me feel like twenty-nine cents when he turned on me the way he did.”

Quickly the three chums made their way back to the dock to which the Sherman had returned. They saw others on the same errand. The repair work had been completed sooner than was expected, and now the siren of the vessel was blowing to call back those who had been allowed shore leave.[36] Fortunately each one, when being granted permission to “stretch his legs,” had been told to hold himself in readiness, and none had gone far away.

The Motor Boys were soon on board again, and after a slight delay the transport was again moving slowly from the dock.

“Off again!” exclaimed Ned.

“Yes; and let’s hope with better luck!” added Bob.

Jerry looked about the crowded deck. As he did so he gave a start, and grasped the arm of Ned.

“Look!” he exclaimed.

“What is it?” asked Ned. “See a ghost?”

“No, but if that isn’t our peppery friend of the restaurant—le cochon—I’ll do K. P. for a week!”



Instantly Ned and Bob turned to look in the direction indicated by Jerry. Both the tall lad’s chums saw the individual referred to as “le cochon.”

“It’s him all right!” asserted Bob, with complete disregard for the rules of grammar.

“But what’s he doing here?” demanded Ned.

“That’s what I’d like to know,” said Jerry in a low voice. “It can’t be that he feels so indignant at us for having honestly mistaken him for Professor Snodgrass that he has followed us here.”

“If he has,” voiced Ned, “he’ll find we have our gang with us, and he’d better watch his step!”

“We’ll take no more of his insults,” declared Bob. “I’ve a good notion to go up to him now and ask him what his game is.”

“No, don’t!” interposed Jerry, as his stout chum seemed about to put this into execution. “Let’s lay low for a while, and see what we can[38] find out. No use starting anything. We’ve had trouble enough already.”

“Exactly,” chimed in Ned. “There’s been enough of a hoodoo about this homeward trip. Let’s get out to sea before we tackle le cochon. Then he can’t dodge us by getting off and walking ashore.”

“He’s going below, anyhow,” remarked Jerry, as they saw the little man descending a companionway. “He must feel at home. I didn’t know they allowed any civilians to travel on the troopships.”

“They’ve made an exception in his case,” decided Jerry. “Well, it is queer, and I’d like to know what it all means. This man is an American, by his talk, but he isn’t at all like our dear old professor, no matter how much he looks like him from the rear.”

“I’d like to see the professor once more,” said Ned.

“Same here,” agreed Bob. “Well, we’ll see him, I suppose, when we get back home. Gee! After what we’ve gone through it hardly seems as if there is any such a place.”

“You said a mouthful, buddy!” exclaimed a tall soldier who wore the croix de guerre. “I’d rather see my back yard with the sunflowers and the hollyhocks in it than all the gardens of the too-de-loories over here.”


The Sherman was now again rapidly leaving the harbor of Brest and making her way toward the open sea.

“There isn’t going to be much of a joy-ride about this,” observed Ned, as he and his chums found their sleeping quarters and stowed away their few belongings.

“No; it’s too crowded,” decided Bob. “There isn’t much more elbow room than we had in the trenches.”

“Trenches!” exclaimed Jerry. “Don’t name ’em!”

Any one who heard, saw, or had any experience in connection with the return of the first of our fighting forces back to their homes need not be told that the transports were no place for a comfortable voyage. While everything possible was done to insure the comfort of the soldiers, the first requisite was to bring back as many as possible in the shortest possible time, and also transport as many casualties as could safely and comfortably be accommodated. The recovered, or partly recovered, wounded were the first consideration, and none of the soldiers who were comparatively well and strong, even though some of them had been in hospitals, begrudged an inch of space that went to make life easier for those who had lost an arm, a leg, who were suffering from the effects of gas or shell shock, or who were[40] among the most terribly afflicted—some being blinded.

So, as Bob said, the transport was no place for joy-riding. There was such a crowd that the soldiers had to stand up to eat, many of them, and they were glad of a place to sleep. They could not move around much on the boat, big as it was.

“Now we’re really on our way at last!” exclaimed Bob to his chums. “And do you know what I think will be the best thing to do?”

“I can make a pretty good guess,” laughed Ned. “It has something to do with eating, hasn’t it?”

“Don’t get fresh,” advised the stout lad. “You may be thankful to me, later, for suggesting this.”

“What were you going to say, Chunky?” asked Jerry. “Go on, tell me! Don’t mind the shrimp!”

“Well, I was going to say it would be a good thing if we located the place at the lunch counter where we’ll be handed our rations,” suggested Bob. “They’ll be giving the mess call soon, and if we know where to fall in, and the shortest route to the dining car, so much the better.”

“Not such a bad suggestion at that,” commented Jerry. “We’ll do it, old top!”

“Yes, you said something—for once,” conceded Ned.

Accordingly, led by Bob, who might perhaps qualify as an expert in the matter of eating, the three lads asked their way about the troopship[41] until they found where their particular company would be fed, and at about what time.

“About an hour more!” sighed Bob, as he looked at his wrist watch.

“Listen to him!” cried Ned. “And it’s only a little while ago that la belle Marie was feeding him!”

“It’s the sea air!” confessed Bob. “It always did make me hungry!”

There was not a great deal to do on board the Sherman—at least during the first day of the homeward-bound voyage. The soldiers stood about on deck, or sought such sheltered places as they could find, and smoked, played cards, talked or read. Later on some entertainments might be gotten up, it was said. But the wounded required the attention of the nurses and the doctors, and the well and strong were well able to shift for themselves.

Bob’s wisdom in finding out in advance where they were to assemble at mess call proved to be a commendable bit of forethought. For while some of the soldiers hurried here and there in what approached confusion, the three chums got in line, and with a few other knowing ones were among the first to be fed.

“Chunky, we’ve got to hand it to you!” complimented Jerry, as he cleaned his plate. “You sure are one good little feeder.”


“And I take back all I said,” added Ned. “You may come to my party, Bob, when I have it.”

“Thanks!” murmured the stout one, smiling between bites.

After the dinner mess there was nothing to do until the middle of the afternoon, when word went around that there was to be boat drill. That is, each man was to be told where his station was, and what boat he was to try to get into in case of danger. This program held for two days of ocean travel, until some began to complain of too many boat drills.

But, in spite of the fact that the war was over, there was a chance that a floating mine might be struck.

Following the short boat drill, Ned, Bob, and Jerry came back to a comfortable place they had preempted on the after deck, and they were sitting there talking when Bob nudged Jerry, who was nearest him, and whispered:

“There he is again!”

“Who?” asked the tall lad.

“The pepper-pot,” was the answer. “Le cochon!

As he spoke he nodded toward a secluded and shadowed corner. There, staring at the three boys, they could make out the little bald-headed man of the restaurant. He was peering at them through his spectacles over the top of what to the[43] boys seemed to be a pamphlet and which he was holding just below the level of his eyes.

“Well, he’ll know us again, anyhow,” mused Jerry. And then, as if conscious that he was under observation and had been detected in spy work, the peculiar individual hastily turned and went below.

“I’d like to know what his game is!” exclaimed Ned.

“So would I!” agreed Jerry.

“We’ll have to keep watch,” said Bob. “He seems to have it in for us.”

“Let’s see if we can find out something about him,” suggested Ned. “We can ask some of our officers, and, if they don’t know, maybe they can find out from the ship’s captain. It may be this fellow is a German spy, or at least a Hun sympathizer, who would like to play some mean trick on those who put the ‘Fatherland’ on the blink.”

“Yes, let’s see if we can get a line on him,” agreed Bob.

Jerry was about to assent to this when the three chums were approached by a group of their comrades who wanted them to join a party that was going to call on some of the wounded who were below decks. This was done, and, for the time being, the queer little bald-headed man was forgotten.

Indeed the minds of the Motor Boys did not[44] revert to him until late that night when they were turning in, and then Jerry said:

“We’ll make some inquiries in the morning.”

The boys were tired enough to sleep soundly, even though their beds were not as comfortable as those oftentimes they had stretched out on when in some camp. But they were too happy over going home to find fault, and soon all were asleep, as were hundreds all around them.

It was shortly after midnight, Jerry declared later, stating that he had glanced at his radium-faced wrist watch, when the midnight attack took place. And it was made on Bob. He was sleeping between Ned and Jerry, and they were awakened by hearing the stout lad yell.

“What’s the matter?” demanded Jerry, suddenly awakening and instinctively glancing at his watch. “What is it, Bob?”

“I’ve got him! I’ve got him!” cried a voice savagely, and the tones were not those of Chunky. Then followed the sound of a struggle.



Instantly all was in confusion in that part of the sleeping quarters where the three friends were berthed. Jerry leaped up, followed by Ned, and the tall lad flashed on the scene the gleam from his pocket electric torch.

He saw a strange sight. Bob was struggling in the grasp of a white-robed figure. The two were tumbling about, each one seemingly trying to get an advantageous grip on the other. And all the while the figure in white was shouting:

“I’ve got him! I’ve got him! I’ll kill him now! I’ve got him!”

While Bob, exerting himself to the utmost, could only gasp:

“Let up now! What’s the matter! Ned! Jerry! He’s killing me!”

Ned’s answer to this appeal was to leap on the back of the man who had Bob in what might prove to be a death-grip, while Jerry moved about to get in position where he, too, could help his chum.[46] Meanwhile, the tall lad kept his pocket electric lamp glowing.

“Who is he? What’s he fighting you for, Bob?” cried Jerry, while many other soldiers, awakened by the commotion, gathered about the struggling twain.

The only answer from the stout youth was a grunt, and a gasp.

“It’s le cochon!” cried Ned. “That’s who it is! The same fellow who acted so rotten in the restaurant, Jerry! He’s trying to kill Bob! He must be crazy!”

At first, as Jerry admitted afterward, this was his thought also. But a second look at Bob’s midnight assailant told a different story. This man had a shock of red hair, while the other had been almost bald. And there was a great difference in the physique of the two.

Ned was doing his best to pull the fellow away from Bob by a rear attack, and to this end Jerry likewise lent his aid. Other soldiers also joined in to separate the two struggling ones, and they worked to such good advantage that the desperate grip on Bob’s throat was broken, his attacker pulled away and his arms held behind him.


“Why it’s Meldon!” some one shouted. “It’s Meldon of the Twenty-seventh. He was in the hospital!”

And Meldon, if that was the name of the man[47] in white pajamas, looked wonderingly about him, passed his hand over his eyes as if in a daze, and murmured:

“Where am I? What happened?”

“Lots happened, old man,” answered Ned, himself panting from the violence of the struggle.

“Are you all right, Bob?” he asked his chum.

Bob carefully and tenderly felt of his throat before answering.

“I—I guess so,” he replied, after a pause. “But what’s the idea of giving me the once-over like that?” he demanded of his assailant.

The latter acted most strangely. He looked from one to the other of those about him, including those who held him tightly, and again, he passed his hand over his forehead, one arm having been released when it was seen that he was going to offer no more resistance.

At that moment, when every one was wondering what it all meant, a nurse came hurrying in.

“Here he is!” she called to a doctor who followed. “Is he hurt?” she asked the soldiers about the pajama-clad one.

“No,” answered Jerry. “But he came near——”

“Did he attack any one?” interposed the surgeon quickly.

“You might call it that,” answered Bob, with an attempt at a smile.


“Just what I feared!” exclaimed the medical man. “We’ll have to keep him under closer restraint.”

“Who is he, sir?” asked Jerry, saluting the surgeon, who bore the rank of major. “All we know is that we heard a commotion in the dark, and found my chum here, Bob Baker, struggling with this man.”

“Meldon is a private suffering from shell shock,” answered the doctor. “He has violent spells, and then gets up and imagines he’s attacking a German.”

The soldier in pajamas seemed to have become completely quiet now. He gently shook himself loose from those holding him, and, advancing to Bob, held out his hand.

“I’m all kinds of sorry, old man,” he said in a cultured voice. “These spells come on me before I know it, but they’re getting less frequent. All I know is that I went to sleep in my usual berth and woke up having a dickens of a fight. I can’t tell you how sorry I am. But it must have come on me in my sleep, and I thought I was back again fighting the Huns.”

“Well, as long as you did your share of that I’ll call it square,” said Bob, with a laugh. “At first I thought you were——”

He stopped, with a significant look at Ned and Jerry.


“Did you think I was a Boche, too?” asked the soldier who had caused the commotion.

“Well, not exactly,” Bob answered slowly, for he had been about to say that he had thought his assailant was none other than the queer little man—a thought shared by Ned and Jerry.

“Well, I hope it doesn’t happen again,” said the afflicted one. “And I’m sure it won’t. I’m getting better, I know.”

“We’ll keep him a little more confined than we have been doing,” said the doctor to Jerry and his friends, when the nurse had led away the shell-shocked individual. “This is the second or third time he has gotten loose in the night and started a fight. Fortunately, none of them ended seriously. Better let me look you over,” the medical major suggested to Bob. “He didn’t bite you anywhere, did he?”

“Not a bite!” answered Bob, with a laugh. “Though he did gouge me a bit on the neck.”

Bob’s throat was scratched by the other’s finger nails, and an antiseptic wash was applied to prevent any possible bad effect. Then such quiet as was possible under the circumstances replaced the midnight excitement.

“At first I thought it was le cochon,” remarked Ned in a low voice to his chums, as they turned in to get what sleep they could.

“That was my first idea when I awoke and[50] found him choking me,” admitted Bob. “Though I couldn’t form any good reason why he should want to put me out of business.”

“There’s something queer about le cochon,” declared Jerry. By common consent the boys had adopted that name for the strange little man. “Why should he be on board here where no civilians—or at least none unless specially qualified—are permitted? And why should he have such a feeling against Professor Snodgrass?”

“Those are questions I’d like to have answered,” said Ned. “Did either of you ever hear our professor speak of an individual who somewhat resembled him?”

“If he ever knew such to be a fact,” declared Jerry, “he’d never give it a thought or remember to tell us. All he thinks of is bugs, bugs, and then more bugs.”

“Guess you’re right,” assented Bob. “But this man must know our professor, and also have no liking for him, or he wouldn’t have called him such names as he did.”

“We oughtn’t to have stood for that!” said Ned vigorously.

“No,” agreed Jerry. “But it was better to let the thing go as it did. No use having too much of a row. Now let’s go to sleep. I’m tired.”

Next day the Sherman was many miles further out to sea on her homeward-bound voyage. Jerry[51] and his chums inquired for the soldier who had attacked Bob, and learned that he was progressing toward recovery as well as could be expected.

It was the third day out that, as Ned, Bob and Jerry were coming back from the “sick bay,” or hospital, where they had been to call on Meldon, and when they were walking along a dimly-lighted passage, they saw some one approaching them. As the passage was narrow they all squeezed back against the wall to let the person who was nearing them pass. But the latter, at the sight of the three boys, seemed to change his plans.

Instead of passing he turned suddenly, and, with a muttered exclamation, swung back. Not before, however, Jerry had time to notice that he carried a black object under one arm. And as soon as the tall lad observed this Ned exclaimed:

“What’s that funny smell? Isn’t it like a burning fuse?”



To Ned, Bob, and Jerry, as well as to other soldiers who had taken part in the Great War, the word “fuse” referred to but one thing, and that was the explosion which usually followed the lighting of it. The lads were familiar with many kind of fuses, from the ordinary time one, the most common form of which is the fizzing string attached to a firecracker, to the complicated fuses in the big shells. These may be set to explode the shell at any height, or at any time desired.

And when Ned, sniffing the air suspiciously, spoke of a fuse, his two companions understood at once what he meant. But Jerry perhaps because he did not want to cause an alarm, or it may have been because he really believed what he said, exclaimed:

“Fuse, my eye! That’s cigar smoke you smell!”

“Then all I have to say is that it’s a pretty poor specimen of cigar,” retorted Ned. “Must be one[53] of the substitute tobacco ones the Germans had to use. Cigar! My word, old top! I’m glad I don’t smoke if they have to inhale that sort of stuff.”

“It does smell funny,” agreed Bob. “And did you see who that was?”

“Our peppery friend, le cochon,” remarked Jerry. “He evidently didn’t want to meet us, for he turned away like a shot.”

“He had something under his arm,” went on Ned. “Fellows, I don’t want to be an alarmist, but after all that has passed, and smelling what I believe to be powder smoke, don’t you think we ought to tell the captain?”

“And get laughed at?” asked Jerry. “Not much. We got ourselves into a conspicuous position once by having something to do with this man, and I’m not going to risk it again. He, too, seems to have had enough of us, for it was evident that he didn’t want to meet us. Let well enough alone, I say.”

“Yes,” insisted Ned, “but suppose he’s been up to some trick here? Suppose he may have planted——”

Ned did not finish what he had started to say. For at that moment there was a commotion in that part of the ship given over to hospital needs, and loud cries indicated that something unusual was going on.


“What’s that?” asked Bob, looking at his two chums.

“Sounds as if some of the patients were making a row,” remarked Jerry. “It may be Meldon, the fellow who attacked you in a nightmare, Bob. Perhaps he’s having another spasm, poor fellow.”

“Maybe we’d better go back there and see if we can give any help,” suggested Ned. “Sometimes when they get to raving that way, as they often do, they’re stronger than usual and the women nurses can’t handle ’em. Let’s go and see if we can help.”

“It may be a good idea,” agreed Jerry.

Forgetting, or putting aside, rather, for the time being, the memory of the strange man they had met, and the odd manner in which he had acted, the three chums turned back to the hospital which they had just left.

And it was fortunate that they did. For two of the wounded men had become delirious and were fighting their nurses. And as it happened, there was only one doctor on duty just then, and he was having his hands full.

Of course the two patients did not know what they were doing, their pain and suffering having affected their brains temporarily, and the aid of Ned, Bob and Jerry in subduing them was greatly appreciated by the nurses. In fact, the help was absolutely necessary, for one of the nurses was in[55] danger of bodily harm from the unreasoning strength of the patient, a big raw-boned Kentucky mountaineer, who had been sorely wounded in the head, and who was scarcely on the road to recovery.

But, being directed by the nurses and by the one doctor, the Motor Boys soon managed to subdue without the use of undue force the two half-insane patients, who were soon strapped to their cots.

“Thank you very much, boys!” exclaimed the head surgeon, when he had come in and had been told of what had happened. “You helped out a whole lot. I shall see that you are officially thanked.”

“Oh, this wasn’t anything,” declared Jerry. “We just heard the row and came to do what we could.”

“Well, I, for one, am mighty glad of it,” exclaimed the panting nurse, who had been in danger from the attack of the crazed soldier. “I shall never forget it! I went through a good part of the war, and I didn’t want to have to wear a wound stripe on the way home,” and she nodded to the three chums.

“This bids fair to be an eventful voyage,” remarked Jerry, when he and his friends were up on the main deck again. “We started off with a bad omen—putting back to port; Bob has to fight[56] for his life; and now we rescue some of the nurses. I wonder what’s next on the program?”

“Don’t you think we’d better report what we saw down in the passage?” asked Ned, “and that we smelled what might have been a burning fuse?”

“Well, let’s first think it over a bit,” suggested Jerry. “I’d hate, like all get-out, to give a false alarm. Suppose we go to the ship captain, or our captain, which would be the proper procedure, and tell him what we saw? What evidence have we?”

“Well, we saw that pepper-hash individual with something black under his arm,” declared Ned.

“Might have been a box of cigarettes he was taking to some of the wounded men,” interposed Jerry.

“He ran back when he saw us,” persisted Ned.

“Yes, because of the encounter we had before,” agreed Jerry. “That doesn’t prove anything.”

“Well, I’m sure I smelled powder smoke—the same as when a bomb fuse is lighted,” declared Ned.

“You may have, and, again, you may have merely got a whiff of a bad, cheap cigar. That’s no evidence, so far. If we went to the captain with that information he’d only laugh at us.

“Besides,” went on Jerry, “you’ve got to have motives for suspecting any one, even le cochon.[57] And you can be pretty sure he didn’t get on board this troopship unless he was well vouched for. They aren’t taking any chances.”

“Well, maybe I’m imagining a whole lot,” admitted Ned. “Only I would like to know who that fellow is, what his game is, and why he seems to have such a grudge against our Professor Snodgrass.”

“Yes, I’d like the answer to those questions myself,” admitted Jerry. “But to get at them I don’t just feel like going to the Sherman’s captain and telling him we suspect the pepper-pot of being a German spy.”

“No,” assented Ned slowly, “I don’t suppose we can do that. But I’m going to keep my eyes open.”

“There wasn’t a sign of anything wrong when we came back through the passage where we met that duck,” remarked Bob.

“No. But it still smelled mighty queer,” stated Ned.

“It always will so near the hospital rooms,” suggested Jerry. “The odor of iodoform is very lingering.”

“Well, maybe it was that,” agreed Ned. “But I’m going to keep my eyes open.”

“Yes, we can all do that,” came from Jerry. “And now let’s get in line for the semi-occasional feed. It’s about due, I think.”


“You’re falling in with me, I see,” laughed Bob.

During the afternoon the three chums moved about on board the Sherman as much as the crowded condition of the transport would permit. And it was while making their way about the crowded boat deck that they heard some one hail them with:

“Well, if there aren’t the three musketeers!”

Turning quickly, Ned, Bob, and Jerry beheld a youth whom they had learned to know and like in the trenches.

“Well, if it isn’t old Hen Wilson!” cried Jerry.

“Old scout Hen!” added Ned.

“Where’d you blow in from?” demanded Bob.

“Been here all the while,” was the answer, as the four met in a jolly circle. “That’s what I was just going to ask you. I didn’t know you were on board.”

“Nor we you,” declared Jerry. “There’s such a bunch on this craft that we may meet a lot more friends we knew in the fighting days. Where have you been keeping yourself, Hen?”

“Oh, moving around here and there. I ran into a bunch of the old gang that helped clean up that machine-gun nest—you know, Jerry—the place where you got whiffed.”

“Oh, I remember that all right. And so some of those fellows are on board? Lead me to ’em!”

The rest of the day was most pleasantly spent—that[59] is, as pleasantly as possible under the circumstances—and Ned, Bob, and Jerry were glad that they had found old friends whose presence would help while away what might, otherwise, be a tedious voyage.

It was in the middle of the night that Jerry was awakened by a dull explosion and a concussion that sent a tremor through the whole ship. Dim lights that were burning near the sleeping quarters went out suddenly, and Jerry, straining his eyes to pierce the darkness and at the same time sitting up and feeling about him, heard the voice of Ned crying:

“What is it? What’s the matter?”

At the same moment Bob broke in with:

“We hit something sure, that time, or something hit us! If the whole bottom isn’t blown out of the ship we’re lucky!”

And then followed a scene of confusion and almost panic.



Sudden noises at night, particularly when accompanied by a tremor and by vibrations that shake one to his innermost being, are, in themselves, terrifying. When to that is added the additional source of danger of the occurrence taking place at sea on board a crowded transport and the possibilities for tragic happenings from this source, fears may well be multiplied.

And yet, such was the discipline and foresightedness on board the Sherman that the panic and terror were only momentary. No sooner did Ned, Bob, and Jerry, together with many of their comrades, find themselves stumbling about in the dark with the noise of the explosion still ringing in their ears, than they were aware of signals being sounded throughout the ship.

The signals were those for instant falling in on the part of the soldiers, and indicated that they were to take the quarters assigned to them, each[61] man nearest the boat in which he was to have a place should destruction menace the ship.

And then, while excited cries were issuing from many throats and when some, in the confusion, forgot what the bugle calls meant and while still others were instinctively terrified in the darkness, lights began to gleam. Some of the illumination came from oil lanterns provided for an emergency to the dynamo lighting system of the ship. Other glows flitted from portable electric flash-torches that many of the officers and men carried, but the greater light came from the auxiliary storage battery system, which was switched on as soon as the proper officer found that the big, whirring dynamo was out of commission.

“Fall in! Fall in! Take your places at the boats!” cried the officers, rapidly getting the situation well in hand. “Be ready for the order to abandon ship!”

And then perfect order came out of confusion. No longer did the soldiers rush madly about, crying out to know what had happened. No longer was the pall of blackness hiding man from the sight of man. Once more wonderful discipline was uppermost.

“What’s it all about?” asked Bob of Ned, as he and his chum followed Jerry to their appointed station.

“Your guess is as good as the next man’s,” said[62] Jerry. “Let’s get to our boat first, and talk afterward.”

They stumbled upward and onward in the midst of the crowd, groping their way, for the lighting system, though sufficiently good to enable them to see to progress, was not as bright as the regular one. As they stumbled on toward their boat-station a voice of authority cried:

“Wounded men first in the boats!”

“Right!” sang out a number of hearty voices, and it was evident there would be no terrible scenes should it become necessary to abandon ship. And this dire thought was uppermost in the minds of all.

It was also evident that the Sherman had received an injury much more serious than the previous one that had sent her back to the dock for repairs to the machinery which had been so quickly made. She had come to a stop now in the darkness on the broad ocean, and was slowly heaving to the swell. There was also a slight list to one side, its cause unknown to the soldiers who, in response to the commands of their officers, were moving in orderly array to safety stations.

“Well, our adventures are keeping up,” said Jerry in a low voice to his two chums when they had reached their boat station and stood waiting for further orders. “But I didn’t quite bargain for this.”


“Me, either,” commented Ned.

“Do you think the old boat will go down?” asked Bob.

“No telling,” Jerry answered. “It looks pretty serious, or they wouldn’t get us all up here this way. They’re bringing up the wounded now.”

As he spoke it could be seen that doctors, nurses, and stretcher-bearers were appearing on deck with the casualty cases. And to the credit of the unfortunate ones be it said that they remained quiet, and some even laughed and joked, though they must have known, in case of the necessity for abandoning ship and taking to the small boats, that their chances of being saved were infinitely smaller than those of able-bodied men. But they were Uncle Sam’s boys, and that is enough to say.

Naturally, on all sides, the questions asked were:

“What happened?”

“What caused it?”

“Did a sub attack us?”

And so insistent were these queries, and so vital was it to have some information given out, that when at last all the wounded had been brought up and every man was at his station the officer commanding the troops addressed them.

“As you all know, there has been an unfortunate accident,” he said. “The full extent is not yet known, but I am authorized by Captain Munson[64] to say that the ship is in no immediate danger. We are protected by a number of water-tight bulkheads, and, so far, only one compartment is flooded. This has been closed off and we expect to keep on.”

A cheer greeted this announcement. Holding up his hand for silence, the colonel, standing in the light of a ship lantern, went on:

“As you have heard ordered, the wounded will be first placed in the boats in case we have to abandon ship. Others will follow as directed. It is of prime necessity that every man obey implicitly his superior officers. The first to disobey will be instantly shot! You know what that means!” and his voice itself was like the click of a gun.

“It may be that we shall not have to take to the boats,” the colonel resumed. “An investigation of the damage done is now being made. As far as can be learned it was caused by an explosion of one of the small boilers. What caused the boiler to explode we do not yet know. But for the present every one must stand at attention and be ready for quick disembarkation.

“There have been men injured in the engine room, and they will take their places with our wounded in the boats first!” the colonel added, and his words were greeted with a cheer, which told him and the other officers that there would[65] be no disgraceful scenes at the end in case the end should be a tragic one.

“Now you know as much as I do,” the colonel concluded. “We may be only slightly damaged, and we may be greatly so. We shall know in a little while. In the meantime, stand by!”

Another cheer punctuated the closing remarks, and then followed a nerve-racking time. There was nothing to be done except to wait for the conclusion of the investigation of the ship’s officers. They were below now, seeking to learn how badly damaged were the craft’s vitals.

“Well, this is worse and more of it,” remarked Bob, as he began to feel about him to ascertain if he had as many of his possessions as he had been able to gather up in the haste.

“It may not be so bad,” declared Jerry. “We aren’t a great way from the coast, for we haven’t made any wonderful speed so far. I believe we can get back.”

“What! In the small boats?” asked Ned.

“Maybe. Or the Sherman may limp back under her own steam.”

“Not the way she’s listing now,” declared Ned. “Say!” he went on earnestly, “I wish we’d told some one about seeing that peppery chap with the black box leaving a trail of a fuse smell behind him.”

“Oh, don’t get to imagining things!” cautioned[66] Jerry. “There are enough real happenings as it is. Stand by—that’s the order!”

“But we might have prevented this,” Ned persisted.

“Nonsense!” declared his tall chum. “This was an engine-room accident. Probably they were carrying too much steam. Lucky it wasn’t any worse.”

“We don’t know how bad it is,” remarked Bob. “Seems to me the lights are getting dimmer; aren’t they?”

“Maybe they’re shutting some off to save the current,” replied Jerry. “They switched on the storage battery, I heard some one say. They are getting dimmer, that’s a fact.”

As he spoke the incandescent lights began gradually fading away. The filaments, from a white-hot glow, turned red, and then went out, as a glowing match slowly loses its illumination. All that lighted the scenes on the ship’s decks now were the emergency oil lanterns and an occasional pocket electric torch.

“Let no one be alarmed!” called the colonel. “The lights are being turned off to save the battery current for the wireless in case we have to call for assistance. It will soon be morning.”

“If they have to depend for wireless calls on a storage battery it won’t last very long,” declared Ned.


“Let’s wait and see,” advised Jerry.

They all stood waiting for the result of the investigation of the damage done to the troopship. And as they waited in the semi-darkness many thoughts came to each man. It was a time to try one’s soul.

Finally there was a commotion near a group of officers, which included the commanding colonel of the troops on the Sherman. The ship’s captain was seen speaking to the colonel by Ned, Bob, and Jerry. And so close were the lads to the scene of the consultation that they overheard something of what was said.

One word, among the others, seemed to stand out as if written in letters of fire. And that one word was:




Ned nudged his two chums as they stood in the now almost complete darkness, waiting near their boat station for what was next to happen.

“Did you hear that?” asked Ned Slade in a low voice.

“I did,” answered Jerry. “Don’t repeat it.”

“But, if we’re disabled,” whispered Bob, “doesn’t that mean we’ll sink sooner or later? And I haven’t noticed any other ships near us—not since we started the second time.”

“Disabled doesn’t mean that we’re sinking,” said Jerry, “and there’s no use starting another near-panic by scattering that word broadcast. If we’re disabled it may only mean that we can’t proceed under our own steam.”

“How else are we going to proceed?” demanded Ned.

“Send out a wireless call for help and be towed back to port,” was Jerry’s answer. “That’s easy.”

“I didn’t think of that,” murmured Ned. “But[69] say, isn’t it bad luck to have to go back to port twice on the same voyage?”

“Not half as bad luck as it would be to go once to Davy Jones’s locker!” declared Jerry, with a trace of mirth—just a faint trace, for the situation was still too tense to admit of any great feeling of jollity.

“Well, of course there’s something in that,” admitted Ned.

“A whole lot in it!” came from Bob. “Say, have you fellows got anything to eat?” he demanded, still speaking in a whisper, for the word of “silence in the ranks” had gone forth.

“Eat!” exclaimed Jerry in tense tones. “What do you think we are, anyhow? Walking cupboards?”

“I didn’t know but what you might have stowed away a cake or two of chocolate apiece,” sighed Bob. “Lots of times they forget to provision the boats when they abandon ship in a hurry. Chocolate is nourishing. I’ve got three big cakes. That’s one each. Here,” and he extended one to Ned and another to Jerry.

“What’s the idea?” demanded the tall lad, with amused curiosity.

“We might get separated,” answered Bob. “Better take this when you can get it. That cake of chocolate will keep you alive several days.”

“He’s got it all figured out,” said Ned. “Well,[70] you aren’t so bad at that, Chunky. It may come in handy!” and he put his cake away.

Jerry did likewise, and then they stood waiting for the next development. It was not long in coming.

Following the conference of the colonel and his army officers with the captain of the Sherman there was a tense period for a little while, until the colonel made another announcement.

“I regret to inform you, men,” he said, “that the accident in the engine room is more serious than at first was thought. The transport is disabled, and will not be able to proceed under her own power—at least, not until extensive repairs are made. An effort will be made to have the engines patched up, but this may not be possible.

“In the latter case we shall have to be towed back to France. I know that seems hard,” he said quickly; “but it is better than sinking in mid-ocean, and that possibility confronted us all for a time.

“Now we shall all be saved, but it may take some little time. The ship’s captain will at once order wireless calls for assistance to be sent out, and we should have an answer within a short time. Then, in another day, or, at most, two, we should receive help. So make the best of a bad situation. You will presently be ordered back to your sleeping quarters, for there is no danger of the ship’s[71] sinking. She will float for years in this condition. Only one compartment is flooded, and that has been shut off from the rest of the craft.

“The wounded will first be carried back to the hospital quarters, and then the others may go back to bed. I regret this occurrence, but you, who have fought in the Great War, will recognize this as only a minor happening compared to others.”

“Three cheers for the colonel!” called some one, and right heartily they came.

“Three cheers for Captain Munson!” some one else demanded, and the tribute to the commander of the disabled vessel was no less genuine.

The taking back of the wounded who had been brought up on the boat deck to be ready for quick transfer to the small craft went on in orderly fashion, though not so quickly as they had been brought from the hospital. The same need of speed was not present.

Then Ned, Bob, Jerry and the others were allowed to go back to where they had been sleeping, or trying to. And once more peace and quiet seemed to settle down over the ship. The list had been corrected somewhat, though in what manner the three friends did not know, and the Sherman was now riding more easily, though she was still without forward motion, save that perhaps imparted to her by the wind or the ocean currents.


“Don’t you think we’d better tell what we know about old pepper-pot?” asked Ned of his chums, as they reached their sleeping quarters.

“I suppose, after what has happened, that it will be best to,” assented Jerry. “Mind you, I’m not saying he had anything to do with the explosion of the boiler. But later on, if anything should come up, I suppose we’d feel better to remember that we had told. We’ll go to the captain in the morning.”

The boys were just composing themselves for some hours of rest in what remained of the night when they heard the crackle of the wireless overhead.

“Well, anything new?” asked Bob the next morning, as he made about the only kind of toilet possible on the crowded transport.

“I didn’t hear any,” responded Jerry. “Let’s get some eats, and then we’ll report to our captain what we know and let him do as he thinks best.”

On their way to receive from the galley their usual daily ration, Ned seemed to be listening intently for something.

“Want to hear another explosion?” asked Jerry.

“No, I was listening for the crackle of the wireless. I don’t hear it; do you?”

“That’s so—it is silent,” commented Bob.


“Oh, well, maybe they’ve sent off a message for help, have received an answer, and now there’s nothing to do but wait,” came from Jerry.

“That’s so,” admitted Ned. But his chums observed that he was deeply silent during mess. And as soon as it was over he suggested that they go up on deck.

“Better look for our captain first,” suggested Jerry. “His quarters are aft.”

“We’ll see him all right,” Ned declared. “I want to find out about something else, first.”

“What?” asked Bob.

“The wireless,” answered Ned. “I want to see if we’ve had any answer to our calls for help.”

As they approached the vicinity of the wireless room, the boys, and many others, became aware that something unusual had taken place. There was a group of officers—both those of the ship and those in command of the returning soldiers—gathered about the electrical cabin, and workmen were hurrying to and fro.

“What’s up, buddy?” asked Ned of a fellow soldier.

“Don’t know, exactly,” was the answer. “But I think the wireless has given out.”

“Before we got off any messages asking for help?” demanded Ned.

“So they say. But I’m not sure. Here comes my sergeant. I’ll ask.”


There was an exchange of confidences, and then the Motor Boys heard more bad news.

“I thought so!” exclaimed Ned, as he turned away from where he had been questioning the two soldiers.

“Thought what?” asked Jerry.

“That the wireless had given out! That’s what happened. The storage battery short-circuited, the auxiliary dynamo burned out, and they can’t get off a single message.”

“Perhaps they had already sent out an S. O. S. call,” suggested Jerry, hoping to the last.

“They started one, the sergeant says,” replied Ned, “but the apparatus went fluey before they could give our position.”

“Gee! that’s tough luck!” exclaimed Bob.

“Oh, it might be worse!” declared Jerry, with a hopefulness he did not altogether feel. “They got off a message asking for help, and even though our position wasn’t given, it can be pretty well guessed. They know which way we started, and about how fast we have steamed. They can send some one out to pick us up.”

“Maybe,” said Ned gloomily. “Well, there’s no use worrying over it. We’re still afloat, and that’s something. Now then, let’s go to see our captain, or the first lieutenant. We’ll report on pepper-pot. It may be nothing, and, again, it may be something.”


They started to find their own special company officers, and while they were inquiring they stood near a cabin that was among a number of others given over to officers.

Ned had just asked as to the probable whereabouts of his captain and a lieutenant was in the act of replying when two marines, with rifles and fixed bayonets, came swinging along the passage. They halted in front of the cabin, before which stood the lieutenant, and after their salute had been returned, the officer said:

“You are to remain on guard here in front of this cabin until relieved. Let no one go in or come out without written authority from Captain Munson. Remember—written authority!”

“Yes, sir!” answered the marines, and then the lieutenant turned to speak to the three friends while they, in turn, gazed at the closed door of the mysterious cabin.



“Did you wish to see me?” the lieutenant asked, as Jerry and his chums looked in rather a fixed manner at the young man.

“Yes, sir,” replied the tall lad. “We wish to find out where Captain Ware may be found. We’re in his company, and——”

“Oh, yes. You were asking me that when I had to give instructions to these sentinels. If you’ll come with me I’ll take you to Captain Ware.”

He turned to go, but, before leaving, he looked again at the marine corps sentinels, one of whom stood on either side of the closed door of the mysterious cabin—at least it was mysterious to the three Motor Boys.

“Don’t forget!” the lieutenant cautioned. “No one is to enter that cabin—not even I—without a written order from Captain Munson.”

“Yes, sir,” was the answer in chorus, and, acknowledging the salutes of the sentries, the lieutenant[77] strode away, followed by Ned, Bob, and Jerry.

“Has there been a mutiny, sir, or anything like that?” asked Ned of the lieutenant, at the same time nudging his two comrades to indicate that he was taking a chance in thus putting a question to a superior officer on a subject that might well be a forbidden one.

“A mutiny? What makes you think that?” was the quick retort.

“Oh, on account of what happened—the blowing up of the boiler, and all that. I thought maybe some one had been found planting a bomb in the engine room, sir, and——”

“You must have been doing quite a bit of thinking,” was the smiling comment of the young officer. “Be careful you don’t do too much. Or, at least, if you do, keep your thoughts to yourself.”

“Yes, sir,” assented Ned, and he knew then that his questions were not to be answered.

“Who told you the boiler had been blown up, and what made you think a bomb had been placed in the engine room?” asked the lieutenant.

“Oh, we just imagined so, that’s all, sir,” Ned replied.

“It sounded like an explosion, sir,” said Jerry.

“Well, it was,” and the lieutenant’s answer was a bit snappy. “One of the boilers blew out a main feed steam pipe. It takes an explosion to do that,[78] or rather, the act is explosive in itself. But that doesn’t say it was a bomb.”

“I’m glad it wasn’t,” commented Bob.

“I didn’t say it wasn’t!” came quickly from the young officer. “All I said was that a steam boiler could blow up without a bomb having caused it. I don’t know that any one knows exactly what caused the accident to the ship. We are still investigating, and the less talk about it the better—especially when no facts are known. So I advise you young gentlemen not to do too much talking.”

“All right, sir,” murmured Ned. “But we were just thinking—about that cabin, you know—we were just thinking——”

“But keep your thoughts to yourselves—for the time being,” interrupted the lieutenant. “You may hear all about it later, and again you may not.”

They found Captain Ware in a small cabin which he had to share with fellow officers, so crowded were accommodations aboard the Sherman. The captain greeted the boys cordially.

“Now don’t tell me,” he began with a smile, “that you have come to complain of the sleeping quarters, the food, or the lack of exercise. I know all that already—a dozen times over,” and he motioned to a pile of papers on his bed.

“Oh, we haven’t come to complain, sir,” voiced Ned. “But we have something we’d like to tell[79] you, and it may have to do with the accident that disabled the ship.”

“Well, that’s interesting, to say the least,” commented the captain. “Come in, boys. There isn’t a great deal of room, but if you stand up while you’re talking I guess we can squeeze you all in. These cabins were made for only two.”

Thereupon the trio entered and, after a few false starts and a friendly rivalry as to who should open the narrative, the story was finally told. It began with the encounter in the Brest restaurant, when Jerry mistook a stranger for Professor Snodgrass with the consequent unreasonable indignation on the part of the little bald-headed cochon, as he had been dubbed.

Then the boys told of having met the man in the passageway, and of how he turned back at the sight of them, evidently trying to conceal a black object he carried.

Ned told of having smelled what seemed to be a burning fuse; and from there the tale went on to the guarded cabin.

“Hum,” mused Captain Ware, when the boys had finished. “Is that all?”

“Yes, sir,” replied Ned, who had assumed the role of spokesman. “Except that we thought we ought to report it all to you, sir, so you could tell Captain Munson if you thought best to do so.”

“You have done quite right. And, now that[80] you have reported to me, please don’t say anything about it to any one else.”

“Do you think there may be anything in it, sir?” asked Bob, who could not refrain from his impulsive question. “I mean do you think this little man, who looks like our Professor Snodgrass from the back, could have tried to blow up the ship?”

“Oh, yes, he could do it easily enough, if he was so minded and had the opportunity,” answered the captain. “But, mind you, I am not saying that he did. This must be investigated, and Captain Munson, in connection with our army officers, will be the one to do this. I am glad you told me what you did. Now don’t talk about it any more. There is no use in starting rumors, the effect of which we can tell nothing about. And, too, it may prove to be a false alarm.”

“That’s what we were afraid of,” said Jerry. “We didn’t want to get in wrong. But we thought it best to speak after we saw the marines put on duty at the cabin, for we thought it might be of more importance than it seemed in the beginning.”

“Yes,” answered the captain, noncommittally. “Well, I’ll let you know when your further testimony is needed. Now don’t forget to keep still about this.”

He dismissed them with a smile, and the boys,[81] feeling they had done all in their power to set things right and to prevent any further outrages, in case it really should turn out that an attempt had been made to blow up the ship, went up on deck.

“I’m glad that’s off my mind,” remarked Ned.

“So’m I,” added Bob. “There must be something in it all right, or they wouldn’t be guarding that cabin.”

“It’s queer, to say the least,” admitted Jerry. “If we could only know——”

“Hark! What’s that?” interrupted Ned, as they neared the head of the companionway.

“The wireless!” cried Bob. “It’s working again!”

And to the ears of the boys came the well-known crackle that told of electrical impulses being sent off into space.

Quickly the three chums looked about them when they reached the deck. A group around the wireless room testified that in some manner the disabled machinery had been put in operation again.

“Yes,” Ned was told by a comrade to whom he put an inquiry, “they managed to fix up a small dynamo, and they’re sending out calls for help.”

“Then we’re all right!” decided Bob. “I guess my appetite will come back now.”

“Didn’t know you’d lost it!” mocked Ned.


“Why, I didn’t feel a bit like eating!” retorted the stout lad.

“Well, it’s the first time such a thing has happened in a good many years,” commented Jerry.

With every one else on board, they were vitally interested in the reëstablishment of the wireless. But as the day went on and no replies came to call after call that was flashed into the void, the feeling of hope gave way to one of despair.

“Don’t they answer?” was the question asked over and over again.

“No reply,” was the report of the wireless men, as they bent over their keys and strained their ears to catch the faintest click that might come through the ear-pieces strapped to their heads. All their flashing calls seemed in vain.



There is, perhaps, no greater strain to be endured than waiting—waiting for some certain time to come, waiting for an event to pass, waiting for a letter or a message. And when this nervous strain is multiplied several thousand times, and when the waiting has to do with perhaps the very continuation of life itself, it becomes at last almost unendurable.

That is what Ned, Bob, and Jerry, and their thousands of comrades on board the Sherman, found as they waited for some reply to come to the wireless calls. As has been related, the dynamo that sent out the impulses, controlled by the operators’ keys, had been patched up so that it revolved. Steam was generated for a small engine.

“But how long she’ll work no one knows,” confided an operator to Jerry, coming off duty after several anxious hours in the little deck house. “The repairs are only temporary, the engineer[84] tells me, and she may break down again any minute.”

“But you’ll keep on sending out calls as long as you can, won’t you?” asked Ned.

“Oh, sure,” was the answer.

“How do you account for not getting replies to the wireless calls? You’re sending them out broadcast, aren’t you?”

“That’s it. They can be picked up by any number of shore stations, to say nothing of ships at sea.”

“Then why aren’t our calls picked up and answered?” Bob queried.

“Well, there are two reasons that may possibly explain it,” answered the operator. “One is that we’re having a great deal of trouble with static. That’s the electricity that’s always more or less in the air, you know. It interferes with our wireless waves.”

“I thought some fellow got up a patent apparatus to overcome that trouble,” ventured Ned.

“He claimed to,” answered the operator; “but I haven’t yet seen any device that will turn the trick. And believe me, when Old Man Static gets in his fine work you might as well close your switch, take off your headpiece, and read a book. When the static gets ready to quiet down and stop cutting up high jinks it’ll do it, and not before.

“Of course I don’t mean to say,” he went on,[85] “that it’s as bad as when wireless was first invented. A good deal of the trouble has been overcome. But to-day it’s very bad.

“Then, too, our apparatus isn’t working right. She got a jolt when that midnight explosion took place, and the operator who was on duty then slammed in a high-powered current and burned out some of the fuses. Since then it’s been on the floo, and, though we’ve been pounding the keys for all we’re worth, we don’t know whether our messages are getting anywhere or not. Evidently they aren’t, for we haven’t had any replies, and in the natural course of things we would, as we ought to be in the track of many ships going and coming.”

“Just how far do you think the wireless message calls you’ve sent out have gone?” asked Ned.

“Hard to tell,” was the answer. “They may shoot off for a thousand miles—our range is fully that when the machinery is in good condition—and again they may not get a mile away from the ship. I’m inclined to think, though, that the messages leave here all right, but are all balled up by static, or else by other messages jamming them, after they get up in the air.

“You know,” the operator went on, “we work according to different wave lengths. That is, the electrical impulses we send out are so many meters in length. Now then, if we send out messages of[86] one certain wave length, and some other ship, within the prescribed distance, sends out messages at the same time, tuned as ours are, but of a more powerful wave length, ours get all jammed to pieces, so to speak. And all the receiver hears is a jumble of dots and dashes in his earpiece. Naturally he tunes out of that clashing, and listens to what he can hear; to wave lengths that are just right.”

“So, as far as you can tell,” observed Jerry, “it’s just as if a man wrote a lot of telegrams, asking for help, and then, somehow, they got tossed into the waste-paper basket before any one who could give the help read them, is it?”

“That’s one way of putting it,” conceded the operator. “But there is one hope.”

“What’s that?” asked Bob.

“The static disturbance may clear off at any time, or some fellow listening in may catch our call and then send it to the proper place. If that’s done, help will be rushed to us. But I must admit there’s no telling when this will happen.”

“What can we do if we don’t get any reply?” asked Bob.

“Well, we’ll have to drift on until they can patch up the machinery, I suppose,” the operator replied.

“Can they do that?” Ned questioned.

“I believe they’re going to try,” was the answer.[87] “Anything is better than just drifting around.”

“And yet some ship may sight us at any time,” ventured Bob.

“Yes, that’s true,” was the tired wireless man’s remark. “I’ve been torpedoed twice, and I know what it means to be drifting about waiting for the chance of being picked up. I had hoped I shouldn’t have to go through with it again, but it seems I may have to. Well, the boys are going to keep on trying, and I’ll do my share when I go on duty again.

“I don’t mind the sending off of messages so much,” he concluded, as he continued on his way to the cabin set apart for the use of himself and his companions. “It’s the strain of listening for a reply that gets on my nerves. You hear a click in the earpiece, and you think surely it’s coming. Then it turns out to be just Old Man Static getting in his fine work, or else a jumble of dots and dashes from no one knows where—out of the sky, you might say—and there you are. Four hours of that are enough to wear any one’s nerves to a thread.”

“You said it!” commented Jerry. “Well, good luck to you!”

Interest in the reëstablishment of the wireless apparatus, even though it was only temporarily repaired, and anxiety to know when some of the[88] messages sent off into space would be answered kept every one on board the Sherman keyed up to the highest pitch. They were all under a heavy strain.

But as hour after hour passed, and no good news came, faces that had taken on looks of hope began to lose them. The time came for the man who had talked to the Motor Boys to go back on duty.

“Well, here’s for another try,” he said, with a weary smile, as he entered the cabin.

Having nothing better to do, Ned, Bob, and Jerry remained as close as possible to the wireless room. They wanted to know, as soon as might be, if any help was on the way.

It was about an hour after George Hardy, the wireless man who had talked to the three friends, had gone on duty for his second shift since the repair of the apparatus, that he came out of the wireless room with a despairing look on his face.

“What’s the matter?” asked Jerry quickly.

“It’s all up!” was the answer.

“All up! What do you mean?”

“Apparatus all burned out,” Hardy went on. “We tried to the limit of the power, and the whole business has gone bluey. Can’t get another spark out of her.”

“Whew!” whistled Ned, and the faces of Bob and Jerry, as well as those of others who heard[89] the bad news, took on an added look of care and anxiety.

“But you can still listen in, can’t you?” asked Ned, after a pause. “Is the receiving apparatus damaged?”

“No, that’s still in good shape,” Hardy answered. “If, by any chance, some of our messages reached some station, and they can tell where to reply to us, and how, we may get an answer. We’re going to listen in from now on.”

“Well, let us hope that you hear something,” murmured Jerry.

“And all we can do is drift on,” said Ned drearily.

The day passed without anything happening. So many thoughts occupied the minds of the three Cresville boys that they almost forgot to speculate on the outcome of the information they had given their captain. They did not cease to wonder at times, though, as to who occupied the mysteriously guarded cabin, and they also tried to guess the reason for the peculiar actions of le cochon.

“Maybe he’s locked up there as a bomb-planter,” suggested Bob.

“It’s possible,” assented Ned.

“I wish Professor Snodgrass were here,” Bob went on.

“Why?” asked Jerry. “Do you think he could[90] fix up the wireless, mend the broken boiler, or help us in any way?”

“Not exactly,” was the answer from the stout youth. “But he’s better fun than just standing about, waiting for something to happen.”

“Yes, I’d like to see him, too,” agreed Ned.

The night passed without incident, save that word went about the ship now and then that the engine-room force was working desperately to make repairs which would enable the transport to proceed, however lamely.

But when the sun rose, a red ball of fire in the morning, it saw the Sherman still drifting.

“We’re in for some change of weather,” remarked a sailor in the hearing of the chums.

“A storm?” asked Jerry.

“Can’t say, but looks like it.”

And the disabled troopship kept on drifting—drifting—drifting.



Weary were the hours, even fraught with anxiety as they were, that Ned, Bob, and Jerry passed aboard the drifting craft. Notwithstanding the presence of many of their comrades in arms, there was a sense of loneliness on the vast expanse of the waters of the Atlantic.

Had the Sherman been proceeding along under her own power, lessening each hour the miles that separated her from the shores of America, this feeling would not have manifested itself. But as it was, with every one ready for the trip home, which, for this unavoidable cause, could not be completed, the sense of the vastness and loneliness of the ocean, on which the troopship could only drift, filled the boys’ hearts.

With the acknowledgment on the part of the engineers that the wireless apparatus could no longer issue appeals for help, all that remained to be done in connection with that was to wait for the possible chance that some of the messages[92] previously sent out would be answered. To this end one man was kept constantly on duty, with the rubber receivers clamped to his ears. And from the strained look on his face it was easy to guess that his task, simple as it might seem, was no sinecure.

“Why don’t they rig up some kind of sail?” asked several of the soldiers who clustered on the decks, a few forming a knot around Ned, Bob, and Jerry, for those lads had let it be known that they had been talking with one of the wireless men, and, in a manner, spoke as those having authority.

“That’s it!” chimed in another impatient one. “If we can’t steam we ought to be able to sail. I’ve often read stories of where a steamer lost a propeller or something, and the sailors rigged up a mast and got home all right.”

“They rigged up a jury mast—I’ve read about that, too,” said another. “Why can’t we do that here, and blow home?”

“Yes, why can’t we?” asked others. “Let’s send a delegation to the captain and ask him!”

This seemed to find considerable favor, and it might have been carried into effect but for the fact that just then a peculiar tremor which could mean but one thing was felt throughout the ship.

“The engines have started!” cried Ned.


“That’s the throb of the propeller, sure enough!” added Bob.

“We’re moving!” came from Jerry, and a chorus of delighted cheers greeted this announcement.

There was no question as to the last statement. The Sherman was, indeed, moving slowly through the water. Very slowly, indeed. The motion was hardly perceptible at first, but it was undoubted. Soldier after soldier, hearing the news and feeling the vibration, looked over the side and verified Jerry’s announcement.

Like wild-fire rumors flew about the transport. The chief one, and that most readily believed, because it was the one that every one desired to believe, was this:

“The engines have been repaired. Now we’ll get home!”

And for a time this seemed true. The Sherman gathered headway, and soon began moving more swiftly. But, even at that, her speed was nothing like what it had been at the beginning of the voyage.

“I guess we had the wrong dope, Ned,” remarked Jerry, as the three chums discussed the situation. “It couldn’t have been a bomb explosion after all, or they couldn’t have fixed up the engines.”

“Well, I don’t know that I’ll go so far as to[94] admit that. There may have been a bomb explosion all right, but, even then, they might have been able to make repairs. Anyhow, we’re moving.”

“But we haven’t heard anything about the information we gave,” said Bob; “and the marines are still on guard at that cabin—at least some sentries are there. I passed the door a little while ago.”

“And we haven’t had a sight of our pepper-pot friend since that guard was stationed,” added Ned. “I feel sure he’s in there, and that he tried to blow up the ship.”

“Well, he didn’t make out very well, for we’re on our way once more,” went on Bob. “And now I feel like eating again! Come on, fellows, let’s scout around and see if there’s a chance to get some extra grub.”

Bob’s face, that had been gloomy all day (an unusual thing for him) cleared now. He was leading the way to the galley, followed by Ned and Jerry, when the throbbing and vibration of the craft, which unmistakably told of engines working, suddenly ceased.

The three chums gazed blankly at one another, and all about them other soldiers looked alarmed.

“What’s that?” cried Ned.

“Don’t tell me she’s stopping again!” exclaimed Bob.


“She certainly has stopped, but she may start up again,” voiced Jerry.

But as the minutes passed and the Sherman continued to lose headway in the smooth sea, the fears of the three chums and their companions became confirmed.

A little later word was circulated about the ship that the engines had broken down again. And this time more completely than before. The temporary repairs that had been made only caused a worse break in the machinery when the second accident happened.

“Well, it wasn’t a bomb explosion this time,” said Jerry, when it was ascertained for certain that the transport could not possibly proceed under her own power.

“But that isn’t saying it wasn’t the original cause of the accident,” declared Ned. “I’d like to get hold of that pepper-pot and tell him what I think of him.”

“They’ll do more than tell him, provided they can prove that he had anything to do with it,” commented Jerry.

“And it certainly looks as if he had—the way they’re keeping him a prisoner in that cabin,” asserted Ned.

“We aren’t sure he is there,” answered the tall lad.

“I’m pretty sure,” Ned asserted. “Well,[96] there’s no hope for it. All we can do now is to drift around, wait for a wireless message, or——”

“Sail home!” interrupted Bob. “Look, here come some sailors now, getting ready to put up some sort of sail.”

This, indeed, seemed to be the case. A number of men came on deck, and then an effort began to have sails take the place of steam power. There were two masts on the craft, used, ordinarily, to support the wireless apparatus. It was determined, now, to fasten sails on these sticks of steel.

True not much speed could be hoped for, as the Sherman was a big craft and powerful engines were required to move her. But it was hoped that such sails as could be rigged would at least give her steerage way, and this would be needed, in case of a storm, to keep her head on to the waves. Though there was bitter disappointment over the failure of the repairs to the engines, there was hope in the sails.

So interested were the three chums in this that, for the time, they forgot about the mysterious cabin and its occupant, guarded by two marines.

Rumor had it that the engine room was a wreck, but whether this was because of the explosion of the steam pipe, which had caused injuries to a number of men, or to the explosion of a bomb, no one seemed to know for certain. All that was sure was that the engines were out of commission.


And if the tedious hours got on the nerves of the soldiers who had their health and strength, how much more so did they get on the nerves of the wounded in the hospital wards? So over-wrought were some of the casuals that it was necessary to organize squads of the sound men to visit in relays and cheer up their unfortunate comrades.

This worked well, and it not only brightened the wounded, but it gave the unoccupied well lads a chance to do something to vary the monotony.

This, what might be termed a crisis, occurred after it became known that the engines had broken down for the second time. This news had brought a reaction to the sick and wounded.

Meanwhile the men were working hard to get the sails rigged; but finally this was accomplished. It was a makeshift, to be sure, but every one was thankful even for that.

And then, as if Fate was determined to make a plaything of the troopship and desired to show what she could do when she tried, there came a dead calm. There had been a fairly good wind all the while the men were rigging the sails, and it was thought, with the expanse of canvas spread to the breeze, that progress could be made—perhaps enough even to bring the ship back to port, or at least in the path of some other craft.

But no sooner had the last rope been made[98] fast and word given to bring the ship around, with the wind as near astern as would serve the purpose, than every breath of air died out.

“Dead calm!” muttered one of the sailors. “Dead as a mackerel!”

“Well, what’s to be done?” asked Bob, when it became evident that the transport could only drift helplessly about.

“Whistle for a breeze!” some one suggested.

The idea was taken in good part, and it had one effect—that of bringing forth a flood of—well, not exactly melody, for too many were off-key. But it brought forth laughs, and this was something, considering the gloom that seemed overpowering all on board.

All that could be done was to wait—wait for the wind, wait for an answer on the wireless, wait for the sight of some craft to aid them, either by providing a tow or sending word of their plight to those that could help.

Slowly the hours passed. Even the serving of meals brought little relaxation or enjoyment, and Ned and Jerry noticed, not without alarm, that Bob’s appetite was very poor.

“Come on, let’s start something!” proposed Jerry, after a bit.

“Start what?” asked Ned.

“Oh, a game, or something. We’ll go woozy if we stand about waiting for something to happen.[99] Let’s go below, get some of the fellows we know, and see what we can dig up.”

As the three chums started for a companionway they noticed an old sailor gazing out across the ocean, which was as calm as the oft-spoken-of “mill pond.”

“See anything?” asked Jerry, as he paused to speak to the old salt.

“Not much,” was the answer.

“What’s the weather going to do?” asked Ned.

“Ha! I wish I knew!” was the retort. “Looked like a storm this morning—red sun and everything. Now I’ll be jiggered if I don’t think we’re in for the doldrums!”

“What’s he saying?” asked another soldier lad of Jerry. “Does he mean some disease may break out?”

“No,” answered the tall lad, with a smile. “Doldrum means a calm—a dead calm. Ships often run into the doldrums near the equator.”

“Well, I wouldn’t mind what we ran into, if we could only move,” was the dismal retort.

“That’s the trouble,” voiced Ned. “The doldrums are the worst calms ever—no motion at all.”

“Good-night!” cried the seeker after information.

Passing through a corridor below decks on their way to seek some of their friends to try to[100] organize something that would while away the dreary monotony, the three chums approached a closed cabin door.

And Bob remarked:

“Why, they’ve taken the marine guards away! I wonder what that means?”

Before his companions could join in his speculation the door of the cabin opened, and through the opening the lads caught sight of a figure. It was the figure of a little bald-headed man, and he wore large spectacles. He was bending over a mass of papers on a table in front of him, and, at the sight of this individual, Ned, Bob, and Jerry, as if in the same voice, exclaimed:

“Professor Snodgrass!”



In the Arabian Nights’ Entertainments is told the story of Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves. In this, at the mention of the magic word “Sesame,” the ponderous rocky portal of the treasure cave swung open or shut, according to its previous position.

And now, as Ned, Bob, and Jerry stood outside the cabin door, through which they had a glimpse of the well-remembered figure, and as together they uttered the magic word “Professor Snodgrass,” the same thing happened as happened to Ali Baba.

The door of the cabin was quickly shut, and not by the figure seated at the table before the mass of papers.

For a few seconds the three lads remained transfixed with surprise. They looked at one another, then glanced at the closed door, and then peered into each others’ faces.


Jerry was the first to recover the use of his voice.

“Did you see that, fellows?”

“Did we see it?” echoed Ned. “I should say so!”

“What does it all mean?” asked Bob. “Why should our old friend, Professor Snodgrass, treat us like that—shutting the door in our faces?”

“He didn’t!” declared Jerry.

“He did!” asserted Bob. “I saw him!”

“You saw the door close,” went on Jerry. “But the professor didn’t shut it. If you had been standing where I was, you could have observed that. There was some one else in the room who acted for him.”

“That’s right!” chimed in Ned. “He didn’t even see us. He didn’t look up once from his papers. It was the same old Professor Snodgrass—more intent on finding out how many legs some new kind of ant has than on his meals. Yes, the same old professor!”

“Are you sure about that?” asked Jerry.

“Sure of it?” reiterated Ned. “Why, of course! Aren’t you?”

“You called his name out, just as we did, and then the door went shut,” declared Bob. “You spoke his name.”

“Yes; and at the time I really thought it was the professor,” admitted Jerry. “But when I[103] think of what took place I begin to have my doubts.”

“Professor Snodgrass never acted that way before, that’s sure,” and Ned seemed siding with Jerry Hopkins. “Every other time he’s seen us he’s been tickled to death. This time——”

“He didn’t see us this time—that’s all there is to it,” declared Jerry. “Professor Snodgrass or not, whoever is in that room never looked up to see us, though he—whoever he is—may have heard us call out the name.”

“If it isn’t the professor who is it?” demanded Bob.

“Who’s the fellow I had the row with in the restaurant?” Jerry countered.

“Oh! Le cochon!” Bob exclaimed. “That’s so! He does look a lot like our friend. But not from the front, Jerry Hopkins! Not from the front!” he added quickly, as he recalled that circumstance, and the fact that this time they had had a full-face view of the man now sitting behind the closed cabin door. “The pepper-pot looks like the professor from the back view, but not from the front. We proved that several times.”

“And besides,” went on Ned, “this isn’t the mysterious cabin, either. There are no marines on guard here.”

“I grant you that,” said Jerry, and he was smiling at his two chums in a manner that, had they[104] not been so excited, would have roused their curiosity.

“And this isn’t the same cabin, either!” reiterated Ned. “The one where the marines are on guard, and where we think the pepper-pot is held a prisoner, is on the deck below.”

“Are you sure of that?” asked Jerry, and the manner of his asking made both Ned and Bob look more closely at the corridor in which they were then standing. Next they glanced at the closed door, noting the number, and with one accord they exclaimed:

“It’s the same!”

“That’s what I thought you’d say,” remarked Jerry, with a little nod of satisfaction. “But we might as well hike along. No use standing here talking over the mystery. Besides, the professor may not like it.”

“I thought you said it wasn’t the professor,” said Ned.

“No, I only said I had my doubts,” corrected Jerry. “I don’t really know what to think.”

“As you say, it’s a mystery,” conceded Bob. “But can’t we get to the bottom of it? Say, all sorts of things are happening on our homeward trip. Here we are delayed because of some mysterious explosion on board, there’s a mysterious prisoner in a mysterious cabin guarded by marines, and now we think we see in the same cabin the[105] real professor. Say, it’s beyond me all right!”

“Yes, it’s queer,” admitted Jerry. “Let’s go off by ourselves and talk it over.”

“Good idea,” agreed Ned. “I guess we’ll have enough excitement doing that not to need other recreation.”

In as secluded a spot as the three Motor Boys could find on the crowded troopship, they talked over the incidents of the trip thus far.

“Then you are sure the cabin where we saw the professor—or at least the cabin where the door was shut so soon after we uttered his name—you’re sure that’s the same cabin where the marines were on guard, are you, Jerry?” asked Ned.

“Positive,” was the tall lad’s reply.

“But how do you account for the change?” asked Bob. “Why are the guards withdrawn, and why is it that this pepper-pot—if it is he in the cabin—looks so much more like Professor Snodgrass from the front than he did at first?”

“The only way I can account for that,” replied Jerry, “is that it really is Professor Snodgrass this time.”

This time!” echoed Ned. “Do you mean to say the professor is on board here?”

“He might be,” the tall lad admitted. “You remember we met only the other day a fellow we knew well. He’d been on board since the start of[106] this unfortunate trip, and yet we didn’t know it until we ran plumb into him. It may be the same with the professor.”

“But he’d be sure to look us up if he were here,” declared Bob. “He always does. He’s very friendly, and he likes to be with us. He’d be sure to speak to us if he were on board.”

“Yes, if he knew we were here,” admitted Jerry. “But he may not. If it was he in the cabin, where the door was just closed, you can make up your mind he never saw us.”

“No, I don’t believe he did,” assented Bob. “But if that is the same cabin where pepper-pot was guarded, and he’s gone now, and the real Professor Snodgrass is in his place, how do you account for it?”

“I don’t account for it,” answered Jerry, with a smile. “All I am sure of is that this is the same cabin where the marines were. You can be as sure of that as I am—in fact, I guess you are sure, aren’t you?”

Ned and Bob nodded in affirmation.

“Then,” went on the tall lad, “all that I am sure of, next, is that the guards are gone. And you must admit that it is possible for both Professor Snodgrass and the man we call le cochon to be in that cabin at the same time, isn’t it?”

“Yes, of course it is,” assented Ned. “But from the way that pepper-pot talked of our friend[107] I shouldn’t think they’d want to be in the same cabin.”

“Maybe they don’t want to be, but circumstances may force them to,” suggested Jerry, with a laugh. “Boys,” he went on, “I believe there’s something queer going on here aboard the Sherman. We’ve done our part in telling what we know. Now it’s up to our superior officers.”

Ned and Bob were silent for a moment. Then the stout lad broke the silence by saying:

“Well, it certainly is a mystery! I only wish we could have a talk with Professor Snodgrass—provided he’s here—and see what he has to say.”

“I wish the same thing myself,” admitted Jerry. “And now perhaps we’d better go on with our original plan, and see if we can do something to organize a little fun to kill this deadly monotony of waiting for help.”

“Yes, let’s do that,” agreed Ned.

As they started once more on their errand a commotion was heard on the deck above. The shuffling of many feet told of soldiers rushing to and fro, while there were shouts that seemed to be those of alarm.

“Hello! Something else doing!” cried Ned, as he hurried toward a companionway that led to the upper decks.

The three reached the deck together, and as they emerged into the open they were immediately[108] enveloped in swirling clouds of white vapor.

“Smoke!” cried Bob. “The ship is on fire!”

“Nonsense!” exclaimed Jerry. “It’s a heavy fog! Just what is to be expected when there’s a dead calm at this time of year. We’re fog-bound, as well as disabled.”

“But why should a mere fog cause such a commotion?” asked Ned.

Before Jerry could answer the three boys were startled by hearing through the dim, misty whiteness a well-known voice saying:

“Don’t disturb me now, and please don’t come too close! This is the best chance I’ve had for a long while to catch some of the mist-flies. Please don’t interrupt me, gentlemen!”



With one accord Ned, Bob, and Jerry looked at one another, their faces close together in the thick fog that was settling down over everything in a white, damp pall.

“There isn’t any doubt of it now!” exclaimed Jerry.

“I should say not!” agreed Bob.

“That’s the voice of Professor Snodgrass,” declared Ned. “I’d know it among a hundred, even if he didn’t use his characteristic talk about some new kind of bug.”

“Mist-flies!” exclaimed Bob. “What are they?”

“Oh, some kind of insect that flies only in a fog—or at least that’s what the professor thinks they are,” commented Jerry.

“Well, now that we’re sure—or almost positively so—that Professor Snodgrass is on board,” suggested Ned, “why not see him? Let’s call out and let him know we’re here—within a hundred feet of him, I should say, though this fog is so[110] thick that he may be several hundred feet off. Voices carry very plainly over water and through heavy mist. I’m going to——”

“You’re going to keep still—at least for a while!” interrupted Jerry, putting his hand over Ned’s mouth in time to prevent that energetic lad from sending out a call to the unseen owner of the voice which sounded so like that of Professor Snodgrass.

“Just wait a bit,” Jerry went on, when Ned had recovered his composure caused by the sudden stoppage of his vocal powers. “I admit that the voice was that of our professor, but maybe it would spoil his plans to be recognized just now or to meet with us.”

“How could it?” asked Bob.

“That’s what I don’t know,” Jerry was frank enough to admit. “But for some reason the professor prefers to remain somewhat concealed. He must have his own reason for that. Very good—it’s his privilege. Now let’s wait until this thing clears up.”

“Do you mean the fog?” asked Ned.

“Partly that, yes. Great guns! isn’t it thick, though? You could almost slice it like cheese.”

“It’s dangerous, too,” said Ned.

“That’s so,” assented Jerry. “This fog adds another danger to this eventful voyage. I never saw mist so thick.”


“What are we going to do?” Bob asked.

“There isn’t anything we can do,” Jerry declared. “All any one can do is to wait for it to lift. I suppose they have a means of sounding some sort of warning signal.”

“No, I didn’t mean so much what can we do about the fog, though that’s bad enough—seems to take away all my appetite,” complained Chunky. “I meant what are we going to do about Professor Snodgrass? Now that we know he’s on board oughtn’t we do something?”

“Yes,” admitted Jerry, “I believe we ought. But not just yet. Let’s wait a while. We’ve got plenty of time. The professor can’t get away any more than we can, and if we start looking for him now we may get him into some sort of mixup. Let matters take their course for a while.”

“I don’t hear anything of him now,” said Ned, listening intently. “He seems to be on the still hunt for his new fog-bugs.”

Though all about them, coming through the white mist, were murmurs of voices and the sound caused by the movement of many bodies, neither of the three lads had a glimpse of Professor Snodgrass. Nor did the echo of his peculiar voice come to them.

The fog seemed to be growing more dense every minute. There was no wind to carry the mist away, and it hung about the disabled troopship[112] like some heavy, white veil. It was actually impossible to see more than fifty feet, and then only dimly. To peer out over the side of the craft was to gaze into a white sea, opaque and impenetrable. To look forward or aft was to note the same thing. From amidships neither stern nor bow of the Sherman could be seen, and men moving about the decks actually collided with one another.

“Why don’t they do something?” complained more than one fretful voice, and it was evident that many were under a great strain.

“What can they do?” asked Jerry, of one of these complaining soldiers. “The invention hasn’t been dreamed of that will dissipate a fog at sea.”

“Well, why don’t the sailors fire guns, blow horns, or something, so we won’t be run down?” went on the other. “We’re floating around here like a log, and we may have a crash before very long.”

“I fancy they’ll start signaling soon,” said Ned.

“How are they going to when they can’t get up steam for the engines?” Bob asked.

“Oh, they’ve got donkey engines for hoisting out the cargo,” remarked Jerry. “Those boilers can make steam, and I guess it can be conveyed to the whistles. That will warn other vessels of our nearness. And this fog may be a good thing, too.”


“How do you figure that out?” a corporal wanted to know.

“Well, we’ll begin signaling, and we may be heard by some craft which can help us. It’s queer they didn’t blow the whistle when they found the wireless wasn’t working.”

“Yes, they might have done that,” assented Ned. “But I don’t agree with you, Jerry, that the blowing of a whistle by our ship in this fog will help us any.”

“Why won’t it?”

“Because as soon as any other ship hears our signals she’s going to keep as far away as she can to avoid a collision.”

“That’s so,” admitted the tall lad. “But I presume there’s some sort of whistle code so they can send out a distress call.”

“In that case we’ll be all right,” said Ned. “Well, all we can do is to grin and bear it. The fog seems to have come to stay.”

And this seemed true. Denser and more dense, the white vapor closed around the slowly drifting Sherman. The air was cold and damp, and it penetrated through the clothing.

“What causes the fog?” asked Ned of a sailor who rolled past the three friends as they stood at a rail.

“Davy Jones, I guess,” was the answer. “Leastways he gets his full share of ships when a[114] fog like this here one comes. Maybe this here one was caused by icebergs.”

“Icebergs!” cried Jerry.

“Yes, this is the time of year they come down, sometimes. An iceberg is cold, you know, and when it gets in warm air it makes a fog. I’ve been on ships more than once that bunked into ’em.”

“Do they do much damage?” asked Bob.

“Damage!” cried the sailor. “Say, did you ever see a little automobile, the lightest kind there is, going full speed, hit a solid wall of rock?”

“I can imagine what would happen,” admitted Ned.

“Well, that’s what happens when a ship strikes an iceberg,” returned the sailor. “Course we’re not speeding, but if we hit about fifty thousand tons of ice—Aye, aye, sir!” he answered in response to a call from one of the mates, and he moved off through the mist.

“Pleasant prospect,” mused Jerry.

“Let’s don’t think about it,” urged Bob. “Say, I wish we’d stayed in France a few months longer. This being picked to be among the first to go home isn’t as nice as it sounds.”

“Oh, we’ll come out of this all right,” asserted Jerry. “Now let’s consider what’s best to be done in case there is another accident in the fog. We ought to try to find out where Professor[115] Snodgrass is. He’ll never think of trying to save himself if he has as much as one bug to occupy his mind. We’d better try to locate him.”

“I thought you said we wouldn’t force ourselves on him for fear of spoiling his plans,” said Ned.

“We won’t exactly force ourselves on him,” was Jerry’s answer. “But we can inquire from the purser where our friend is placed. That may be his regular cabin where we saw him, or he may only have stepped in there. Once we know where he is we can go there and see that he gets out in case there’s a crash.”

“Yes, that’s a good idea,” agreed Ned and Bob.

They were on their way to the purser, who might be expected to know the names of all on board who were not strictly members of the military force, when they heard from above the deep, hoarse note of a whistle.

“Is that ours?” asked Ned quickly.

“Sounded so,” replied Jerry. “But it may be that another ship is near. Let’s go up and see.”

They hurried on deck to learn that it was their own fog signal whistle which had started sending out its hoarse warning. Steam had been generated in one of the donkey hoisting engine boilers, and, by means of a hastily rigged pipe line, conveyed to the big whistle.


On this there now sounded warning blasts which would tell to other craft in the vicinity the nearness of a ship. And, as the three chums listened, they heard the blasts given in peculiar order—as though spelling out some code word.

“Is that saying anything?” asked Ned of a sailor who loomed up through the mist.

“Yes, that tells whoever hears it that we’re drifting, out of control, and need help.”

“Will help come?”

“Nobody knows,” was the answer. “I don’t believe any other ship would take a chance on coming too close while the fog holds.”

And the fog still held. Like a white blanket it wrapped the transport in its folds, hiding from view everything except in a fifty-foot circle.



With moisture fairly dripping from their garments, hanging in beads from their eyebrows, and seeming to penetrate to their innermost being, as water does a sponge, Ned, Bob and Jerry stood at the rail of the transport moodily discussing the situation.

Yes, they were moody. It was, indeed, enough to make any one moody, though perhaps they should have been thankful that their lives were spared and that they were able to be up on deck, and not obliged to lie stretched on a cot in the sick bay. But the boys thought they had just cause for grievance, and perhaps they had.

Certainly to be disabled far out at sea was bad enough, without having to be fog-bound, to run the risk of crashing into some other vessel, having some big steamer, or perhaps a war craft, crash into them, or bear down on an immense iceberg which might be the cause of the very fog that would hasten their destruction.


And so, gloomily and moodily, the three Cresville lads leaned against the rail, straining their eyes to pierce the misty whiteness that enveloped them so closely. Every now and then the hoarse bellow of the steamer’s whistle would sound out its warning and call—for the blasts were so sounded as to form the international call for help. And, punctuating the whistle blasts, was the clang of the fog bell, rung insistently by sailors detailed for this important task.

Meanwhile all that could be done was to watch and wait—wait for the inevitable. Would the fog lift before some fatal crash? or would they be further endangered by its opaqueness? No one could answer.

Lookouts were stationed at every vantage point. Men were sent up to the crow’s nests on the masts, but from there they reported that they could see no more than could be observed from the deck. Their eyes were useless beyond a distance of fifty feet.

“This is fierce!” exclaimed Ned, and he closed his eyes for a moment, for they actually ached from the strain he was putting on them by trying to see the unseeable.

“You said something!” commented Bob.

“Oh, well, it might be worse,” remarked Jerry.

“How could it be?” half-fiercely demanded Ned.


“We might not be afloat in a sound ship, for one thing,” the tall lad answered. “Of course we can’t move under our own power, but we’re in no danger of sinking.”

“No—not yet,” muttered Bob significantly. “But there’s no telling how long we may be this way. Look at those sails! Might as well hang up a couple of pocket handkerchiefs!” and he motioned to the great expanses of canvas between the wireless masts.

They did, indeed, hang as limp as clothes on a line. Not a whiff of wind swayed them, and the moisture of the fog, condensing on their white surfaces, dripped down to the deck.

“Well, we can’t do anything to remedy it,” said Jerry, after a pause. “Might as well grin and bear it.”

“What do you say to looking up Professor Snodgrass?” asked Bob. “That is, I don’t mean go directly to him, for he might have, as Jerry says, some special reason for not wanting to be disturbed. But if he’s here on board—and we’re sure, now, that he is—we could ask of some of the officers and, perhaps, let him know we’re here.”

“Yes, let’s do that!” added Ned. “We started to, but got off the track.”

Jerry considered the matter a moment. Then he said:

“I guess we might as well. We’ll want to[120] know where he is, anyhow, in case of accident, so we can look after him. Let’s go!”

On board the transport the same sort of military rules and regulations that existed in camp or on the battlefield did not hold good. There was more freedom and ease in going about and in making inquiries, and the Motor Boys proceeded to take advantage of this.

Their first inquiries, however, of some of the ship’s officers resulted in disappointment. No one seemed to know Professor Snodgrass. They admitted that there were several civilians on board the transport, but were not aware of their names.

Some said they had seen a man resembling the description given of Professor Snodgrass, but when pressed for details they described the individual the boys had dubbed “le cochon,” and the Motor Boys did not want to meet him again.

They even made their way to the passage where the marines had been on sentry duty in front of the mysterious cabin, and, somewhat to their surprise, found the men on guard. They were not the same men they had seen at first, but two burly soldiers who gruffly bade the boys:

“Move on!”

“This certainly is queer,” declared Bob, when they were out of earshot of the two marines. “One time they have a guard there, and another time they don’t.”


“I wonder why,” voiced Ned.

“Can’t you guess?” asked Jerry.

“No. Tell us!” urged his chums.

“Well, I should think it would occur to you that the marines are not guarding the cabin—just some one in it. And if he isn’t there——”

“Oh, I see!” exclaimed Bob.

“You mean pepper-pot was out of the cabin the other time we were here and we saw Professor Snodgrass inside?” asked Ned.

“About that,” answered Jerry, smiling.

“Well, that’s a white horse of another color,” remarked Ned. “Professor Snodgrass must have been in pepper-pot’s cabin when our volatile acquaintance, le cochon, was out of it. Now that the little man who looks like our friend is there again, the guards are once more on duty. How’s that, Jerry?”

“That’s about the way I size it up.”

“Well, now that we’ve got thus far let’s keep on,” suggested Bob. “Let’s find where the professor is.”

“Why not ask the guards?” suggested Ned.

“We can try,” agreed Chunky. “But they didn’t seem very friendly.”

Nor were they when the friends essayed a few questions. The chief one being as to whether or not the marines knew where Professor Snodgrass could be found.


“Go chase yourself,” was all the reply the boys received.

“Well, we’re on our own now, so let’s make a hunt,” suggested Jerry. “He’s somewhere on this ship, and a man with all the peculiarities of Professor Snodgrass can’t be hidden long.”

“That’s true,” assented his chums.

And the search began. How long the three might have been searching, unaided as they were by any information given in response to their many questions, is doubtful. Probably if they had been able to find the purser he would have solved the riddle for them at once.

But that official was not to be found. Doubtless, with the added responsibilities that had come with the accident to the ship he was in great demand and was not long in any one place.

At any rate Ned, Bob and Jerry could not find him, and no one in his department would give them the information they sought. The transport being so large and so crowded, the professor was almost as well hidden as though he were in some large city and no one had his address.

As it was, chance came to the aid of the three boys. They were wandering about, now and then going up on deck to see if the fog had lifted, coming down again, disappointed because it had not, when, as they were watching a group of sailors putting fresh water in some of the boats that[123] were always kept in readiness for instant use, they heard a well-remembered voice saying:

“Just a moment, now! Just a moment, I beg of you. Don’t stir hand or foot!”

“And why shouldn’t I stir hand or foot?” asked a truculent voice. “Do you think I can stand here all day while you’re creepin’ up on me like a scalping Indian?”

“One moment! Only a second more, I beg of you!” went on the first voice. “There is on your left leg one of the finest specimens of sea-leech I have ever seen, and I want him!”

“A leech! You’re welcome to him!” cried the other voice, and through the fog the three boys saw looming a strange sight.

A sailor was swabbing part of the deck, and he stood with his mop half raised from the pail while stealthily approaching him was the figure of a little bald-headed man, wearing across his nose powerful spectacles.

And it needed but a moment’s glance at the little man to show that he was none other than Professor Snodgrass. Bob impulsively murmured his name.

The little scientist, edging his way along the fog-wreathed deck toward the poised sailor, gave one glance and noticed the three chums.

“Oh, boys! Glad to see you!” he exclaimed, as though they had just left him the day before.[124] “Please don’t move. I am about to make a most important capture. One moment, my friend. Don’t stir hand or foot. In a moment——”

The professor’s words were interrupted by a chorus of terrific shouts. There was a confusion of voices, mingling with the frantic clanging of a bell and the hoarse tooting of the big whistle.

Ned, Bob and Jerry caught a glimpse of something big and black looming up on the port side out of the fog.

A moment later there was a terrific crash, and it seemed as if the transport would be heeled over and capsized. The fear-anticipated collision had happened!



Jerry Hopkins felt himself being tossed through space. That is to say, he felt himself moving through space; but, as a matter of fact, he did not at that instant know whether he had been tossed or was merely falling. There was blackness before his eyes, caused, as he learned later, by a blow on the head, and even if that had not been the case he could have seen little, for the fog, after the collision, seemed to settle down heavier than before.

Jerry had a confused idea that he was shouting something. What it was he did not know, but as there was a riot of shouts going on all about him it did not much matter.

The crash had stunned him for the time being. It had shaken him through and through and disturbed his logical thinking powers. He found time to wonder what had happened to his chums, Ned and Bob, and also to Professor Snodgrass. Was it not queer how they had so unexpectedly[126] met him, and in a characteristic occupation—that of gathering a rare bug unsuspectingly harbored by some innocent spectator?

What had happened to Bob, Ned, and the professor? Did he get the bug he was after? What had become of the surprised sailor?

These, and other thoughts, rushed through the mind of Jerry Hopkins in a series of flashes, like the views on a moving picture screen. He instinctively flung out his hands to protect himself when he should land, and then——

Suddenly he felt himself being immersed in deep water. He had fallen into the sea—he realized that—and the sudden shock cleared his partially numbed brain. Instinctively Jerry held his breath as his head went under, and then he began frantically striking out. He was a strong swimmer, and, even fully dressed as he was, he knew how to take care of himself in the water.

Giving his head a shake to clear his eyes, he looked about him. He wanted to see, if possible, in what direction to swim to save himself. If he had been tossed any distance from the transport he might be some time before he could swim back to her. And it might be better to try to reach the vessel that had crashed into the Sherman.

Then another thought occurred to Jerry. Was it another vessel that had crashed into the troopship in the fog? Might it not have been some immense[127] iceberg, which, even now, was bearing down on the swimming lad?

And then Jerry, in a measure, pulled himself together. He knew that to dwell on such gloomy thoughts was hampering his powers of resistance—taking from him his own self-control that he very much needed at this time. So, vigorously putting them aside, he increased the power of his strokes, though he was beginning to feel the weight of his soaked garments. Again he shook his head to clear his eyes and looked about him for something toward which to swim. All about him was the dense, white fog. He looked for something black looming up through it—the black side of the troopship, or perhaps the side of the vessel which had crashed into the Sherman.

And then, like a flash, it came to Jerry.

“No, it won’t be black!”

For a moment that simple thought, which came in the form of a sentence he might have seen written down, puzzled the lad.

“Why wouldn’t it be black?” he asked himself, even as he swam about. And then came the subconscious answer.

“Camouflage paint!”

That was it! Why hadn’t he thought of it before?

“If our vessel was camouflaged, as she was,” reasoned Jerry, “the other might be also. I’ve[128] got to look for something like that and not the ordinary black-painted side of a ship. Glad I thought of that. But it’s going to be harder to watch for.”

One thing was in his favor—the sea was calm. The absence of wind for several days had made the ocean like some smooth lake, and there was only a long, gentle swell on the crests of which Jerry rose and fell as he swam onward.

But though he strained his eyes, which smarted somewhat from the salt water, he could see no fantastically camouflaged side of a vessel toward which he might make his way to safety.

“This is queer,” he found himself reasoning. “I couldn’t have fallen a great way from the Sherman or the other ship. I must have been swimming the wrong way in the fog. I’ll turn back.”

He turned squarely around—as nearly as he could judge the direction in the fog—and began striking out again. And just as he was beginning to wonder why it was he did not see something, his ears became aware of a confused shouting off to his left; at least he thought it was his left.

“There she is! There’s the Sherman!” Jerry told himself. “I’ve been headed wrong! Why didn’t I hear that noise before?”

Then his ears felt as though warm water had suddenly run out of them from inside his head, and he knew what had happened.


Both ears had filled with water when he took his plunge into the sea, and this had temporarily deafened him. He always had had trouble that way, even when a small lad, and he used to wear wads of cotton in his ears when he went for a swim. He remembered that on several occasions he had feared he was going deaf, only to feel, later, the sensation of warm water running from his ears, and then his hearing returned.

The explanation was simple. Jerry’s inner ears filled with water. It became warmed up to nearly 98 degrees by his blood, and then, expanding with the heat, was forced out naturally. Once his ears were clear of water, he could hear as well as before. And that accounted for the fact that he now suddenly heard the shouting which, probably, had been going on all the while he was in the water.

“I’m all right now,” decided the tall lad. “I know which way to swim.”

He really thought he did, though, as it turned out later, he had mistaken the direction of the noise. And as he swam on, blissfully unconscious of the fact that he was going farther and farther away from the Sherman instead of nearer to it, another thought came to Jerry. He expressed it subconsciously:

“Why don’t I hear some whistling or some other noise from the vessel that crashed into us?”

That was it—why did he not? Once his ears[130] had cleared, Jerry could continue to catch the sound of distant shouting, and also the periodic whistling of the Sherman—he well knew the tones of that instrument. But he did not hear any corresponding note from the other ship that had been in the collision.

“She ought to be whistling, too,” decided Jerry. “Maybe she’s damaged, and maybe some of her men have been knocked overboard as I was. She ought to be whistling.”

But on that mist-covered sea there seemed to be but one vessel in the neighborhood of the swimming lad—and that was the transport which he was vainly endeavoring to find.

Then, like a flash, one of his previous thoughts came to Jerry Hopkins.

“An iceberg can’t whistle!”

That must be it. An iceberg had been responsible for the crash, and even now was out there, somewhere, in the fog.

Sherman ahoy!” cried Jerry desperately.

He listened, but there came no answer. The tumult and the shouting seemed to have died away. Was he leaving the vicinity of the transport, or was she being borne from him in the frozen grip of a mountainous berg?

Just for an instant, but for an instant only, Jerry lost hope and courage. He seemed to want to cease swimming and let himself sink. Then he[131] got control of himself again, and struck out more vigorously than before.


“I’m not going to die! I’m not going to die!”

This he told himself over and over again, fiercely.

“I’m not going to quit! I’m not going to be a quitter!”

He felt better when he said this over once or twice. He was beginning to feel weary, but he would not allow his mind to dwell on that. His brain forced his legs and arms to do their duty.

And then, when for perhaps the fiftieth time he had feverishly repeated: “I’m not going to be a quitter!” Jerry became aware of something looming up before him out of the fog. At first he took it to be merely but a thicker cloud of the white mist, and then he imagined it to be the dirty white of some iceberg.

But a moment later he knew it for what it was—the camouflaged side of a vessel.

“I’ve found the Sherman!” cried Jerry aloud. “On board the transport!” he yelled. “Throw me a line!”

Nothing but silence greeted him. In growing wonder and fear he swam along the side of the craft. The waves rose and fell along it lazily, now raising, again lowering him.

What did it mean? Was the Sherman so badly damaged that she was sinking and had been abandoned?[132] This could hardly have taken place so quickly. There would have been some boats remaining in the vicinity. But no, there was not a sign.

“Ahoy the Sherman!” yelled Jerry.

No answer. He swam along the side. He came upon a dangling rope, and, by the exercise of his last-remaining strength, he managed to reach the deck.

Then one look told him the story. It was a derelict that had crashed into the Sherman, and Jerry Hopkins was now aboard this waif of the sea.



When the crash had come Ned Slade felt himself thrown back against a deck stanchion, which he grasped desperately. In the instant of the collision, or so immediately following it as to make it seem simultaneous, he had observed a big hole torn in the side of the Sherman.

Stunned and shaken, he clung to the stanchion while all about him were confused shouts and orders and the rushing to and fro of many feet.

Almost as if in a dream, Ned saw the dark shape that had smashed into the troopship slowly back away—pull itself out of the great gash that had been cut. Then the fog swallowed it up.

He had slid to the deck after being hurled against the stanchion, and now he pulled himself to his feet again. As he did so he saw himself surrounded by a number of officers and men who had not been standing near him when the crash came. They looked from Ned to the hole in the[134] side of the transport, and then out into the fog.

“What was it?” some one asked.

“I—I don’t know,” confusedly murmured Ned. And then it occurred to him that he did know—that he had seen exactly what had happened. So he answered: “A steamer crashed into us. She’s out there!”

He pointed to the mist that was thicker than ever.

“What ship was it?”

“Did you see the name?”

“Why doesn’t she stand by and give assistance?”

“I didn’t notice what the name was,” he managed to answer. “She just crashed into us—right here—and then she backed out.” He pointed to the gaping hole.

“Queer she backed out again,” commented a ship’s officer. “She might better have held her nose in the hole. That is, if it’s below the water line. But it isn’t,” he added quickly, as he leaned over the rail to take an observation. “We’re safe, so far. The lowest part of the hole is above the water line. But why doesn’t she let us know who she is? Why doesn’t she signal?”

It was queer, the absolute absence of sound from the other craft. Except for that gaping hole, it was as though she had been a figment of the imagination.


“She doesn’t whistle,” said the officer, who had looked over the side, “and I don’t hear any shouting. Surely she’s still near enough for us to hear from her. Are you sure it was a vessel?” he asked Ned. “Who else was here with you at the time?”

That question gave Ned a shock. That was it! Who had been with him at the time?

Why of course Jerry, Bob and Professor Snodgrass. And there was some one else—the sailor from whose person the little scientist had been about to remove a bug. It all came back to Ned now.

“Are you sure it was a vessel?” the officer asked again. “It may have been an iceberg. I’ve been bumped by them more than once.”

“It was a vessel,” answered Ned, and his mind was struggling with two matters. One was to answer the questions put to him, and the other was to try to think what had become of Bob, Jerry and the professor. He was confusing things.

“It was a vessel,” he went on. “I could see the camouflage paint on her. She slammed right into us and then backed off.”

“That’s queer,” murmured the officer. “If she was under steam she could blow her whistle, and even if she was disabled, as we are, she could ring a bell. But there isn’t a sound.”

“It must have been an iceberg,” declared another[136] officer. “That would account for everything—even the silence.”

“It wasn’t an iceberg!” declared Ned. “I saw the camouflage paint. And look! You can see where some of it is scraped off on the broken end of our rail.”

He pointed to a jagged timber. It was true. Amid the splinters were flecks of blue and white paint.

“He’s right!” assented the first officer. “Besides, if it was an iceberg there’d be chunks of it on our decks now. And there isn’t a cubic inch. It was another ship!”

“But what kind?” cried several. “Why doesn’t she signal us and see if she can help?”

The officer had an answer ready for that question. He had not sailed the seven seas without knowing something of the mysteries of the vast places.

“A derelict,” he said.

“A derelict!” came the chorus. Then they understood.

Then came a barrage of questions, chief among them being:

“How could an abandoned derelict back away?”

“She probably didn’t,” the first officer said. “The shock of the collision probably separated us, and a stray current did the rest. I only hope she keeps away from us!”


The first excitement following the crash having passed, it remained to make certain just how badly damaged the Sherman was and to ascertain the number of her crew and passengers who had been injured.

A hasty examination disclosed the fact that the hole in the side was well above the water line. Except in the event of a storm the transport would not leak. And, even in that case, the flooding of one more compartment would not be fatal.

In regard to the personal damage, though, the troopship had not come off so well. Several had been killed when the prow of the derelict had bit into the Sherman’s side, for several decks were involved in the damage done, and all along the rails, at the point of the crash, men had been standing. Doctors and nurses found themselves with many new casual cases to look after, as well as those with which they had started out. The dead, of course, were beyond help, and their poor, maimed bodies were tenderly laid aside. There were some of the injured whose recovery was in doubt, but others were only slightly hurt.

But military discipline, added to that of the naval officers, soon brought comparative order out of chaos, and then, or even before, boats were lowered to pick up any who might have been tossed by the collision into the sea.


One or two of these were picked up floating near the Sherman, and some had been hurt.

Just how many were missing could not be ascertained until the lists were gone over. But Ned lost no time after a hasty survey of those picked up in telling that Jerry, Bob and Professor Snodgrass, all of whom had been talking with him a moment before the crash, were not to be found.

“We’ll have a thorough search made,” said the ship’s captain, when Ned’s story was repeated. “If necessary I’ll keep boats cruising about all night.”

And he did. Sailors, marines, and soldiers formed searching parties in lifeboats, but they were handicapped by the fog. They dared not go far away from the Sherman for fear of being lost themselves, and their shouts brought no response. Some floating wreckage was picked up, part of it from the troopship and some from the unknown derelict. “Unknown” because nothing that was found afloat after the crash disclosed her identity.

“But what has become of Jerry, Bob and the professor?” wondered Ned. “They were with me. Their bodies are not among the dead—I’m thankful for that—nor are they in the list of wounded. They weren’t picked up by the boats. But where are they?”

And as Ned wondered and wondered the fearful[139] conviction was borne to him that his three friends must have been injured or killed by the crash and have been flung into the sea, their bodies at once sinking.



Bob Baker and Professor Snodgrass struck the water at the same moment, and side by side. They plunged downward together and came up at the same time. And then, with seemingly the same thought, they both struck out for a bit of wreckage. They reached this—a jagged mass of wood which was large enough to partially support them in the water.

Bob was, because of his stoutness, rather fortunate in the water. He floated well, and he was by no means a bad swimmer. As for Professor Snodgrass, in spite of his preoccupation at times, he had mastered the art of keeping himself afloat in the water, and was really well able to look out for himself. So he had not much difficulty.

“Are you hurt, Professor?” gasped Bob, as soon as he had cleared his eyes and mouth of some of the salty water that had entered.

“I—I don’t seem to be,” gasped the little[141] scientist. “This was rather unfortunate, wasn’t it?”

“If you mean being tossed overboard, I’ll say it was,” replied Bob, hardly meaning his answer to take that army-slang phraseology. “But it’s lucky we found this bit of wreckage. It will keep us up, without our having to swim, for some time.”

“Oh, yes, that was lucky,” agreed the professor. “But what I meant was it’s too bad I didn’t get that bug when I had the chance. I refer to the one on the sailor. Very rare bug, that. I almost had it when the crash came. I wonder if he’ll be there when we get back?”

“The bug?” asked Bob, unable to restrain a smile.

“Well, the bug and the sailor. Those bugs cling, once they get fastened on a person or object. If that sailor hasn’t been tossed overboard, like ourselves, I may be able to get my specimen after all when we get back.”

“If we do get back,” put in Bob, as he took an easier position on the bit of wreckage and looked about him.

“Get back! Why shouldn’t we get back?” asked Professor Snodgrass. “All we’ve got to do is to cling here until they send a boat for us.”

“Yes, I suppose so,” half agreed Bob. “But if they can’t see to pick us up, and we drift much farther apart, why——”


He did not need to say more. The little scientist looked about and saw the white fog enveloping them. It was answer enough.

“This surely is unfortunate,” went on the little bald-headed man. “I need just that one bug to complete my collection, and if we don’t return soon some one else may get it.”

“Who’d want it?” asked Bob.

“Why Dr. Hallet, of course,” was the answer, as if there could be no other. “I’ve had to fight tooth and nail the last month to keep him from securing things that really belong to me. And now that I am in this unfortunate position he may get ahead of me. There is only one hope.”

“What’s that?” asked Bob. “Do you see a boat coming for us?”

“No. The hope I refer to is that the sailor on whom I saw that bug may remember that I have first claim to it. He may save it for me and not let Dr. Hallet get it.”

“Is Dr. Hallet on board?” asked Bob, beginning to get a glimmer of light on some matters that had puzzled him and his chums during the past few days.

“Well, he was at the time I left,” announced the professor. “But he, too, may have been tossed overboard as we were. If he was, I hope he doesn’t want to get aboard our present craft. There is hardly room for one more.”


“No, indeed,” agreed Bob. “But, say, Professor, we ought to do something.”

“Do what, Bob?”

“Shout and yell to let ’em know we’re out here. They’ll send a boat for us. Come on, yell!”

Accordingly they blended their voices, far from musically, but into what they hoped would prove to be an appeal for help. Whether it was effective or not they could not tell, as the fog shut them in like a great white blanket.

“If we could manage to propel our craft in the direction of the ship we might be saved sooner,” said Professor Snodgrass. “What do you imagine hit us, Bob?”

“Oh, some sort of ship—derelict, I imagine, because I didn’t hear any whistle before the crash. Ours was the only one going. It wasn’t an iceberg—I know that. I had a glimpse of something big looming up in front of me, then I heard and felt the crash, and—here we are!”

“Yes, here we are!” agreed the professor. “And the next matter to consider is—what are we going to do?”

“We’ve got to hold on to what we have until we can get something better,” the Motor Boy decided, after a moment of thought. “If we smashed the other ship up much, or she smashed us, there’ll be a lot of wreckage floating around soon, and we may be able to pick up a bigger piece. As it[144] is, I think you can get on this one, Professor, and let me swim behind and push it. In that way we can make better progress, and may get back to the transport.”

“I suppose that would be a good plan, Bob. But why can’t we both get on this bit of wreckage?”

“Won’t hold us,” was the answer. “It’s just big enough for you. I’m too fat. Besides, I guess I can stand it better swimming and pushing than you. I’ll get off some of my things, though, and make it easier.”

Partly supporting himself on the mass of wreckage, Bob removed his shoes, trousers and coat, and remained in his underwear, which did not form a bad bathing suit.

His garments he rolled up and stuffed into a big crack in the mass of timbers and boards.

Professor Snodgrass was small and light, and when he had managed, with Bob’s help, to clamber up on the wreckage he found he had a fairly comfortable position compared to being unsupported in the water. Nor did he submerge the mass very much.

“What are you going to do?” the professor asked, as he settled himself on the middle of the mass.

“Try to get back to the Sherman,” Bob answered. “She can’t be very far away.”


“Hadn’t we better yell again?” asked Professor Snodgrass, after a period of silence. “We ought to let them know we’re here.”

“Yes,” agreed Bob, “we had.”

Now, again, they raised their voices, but after several trials, there came no answer.

“They must have got up steam, and are going away from us,” said Bob. “Or else they’ve sunk,” he added, after a moment.

“I can hardly believe that,” answered the professor. “The blow struck by the derelict, as you say it was, I am sure was not hard enough to sink our ship so soon. Besides, if she had gone down we’d see signs of more wreckage, or the lifeboats. As it is, we have seen nothing.”

“That’s right,” admitted Bob. “It surely is queer.”

Bob Baker had paused in his efforts to push the raft, and now was resting himself while he held this conversation with his friend.

He was about to start to swimming again when the professor began quickly to remove his coat, shoes, and trousers.

“What are you going to do?” cried Bob, wondering if the shock had suddenly sent his scientific friend mad.

“Don’t stop me!” cried Professor Snodgrass. “I’ve just got to get it!”

An instant later he dived overboard, and Bob[146] was about to swim around and catch hold of him, when he saw the little man’s object.

Just ahead of the raft was a mass of floating seaweed, and on it, or entangled in it, were several forms of marine life—a crab, a radiolite and one or two others.

“There’s enough here for a month of study!” cried the professor, as he swam back to the raft with his prize. “Oh, if I only had my microscope and notebook here. But they are back on the transport. Oh, if she should be sunk what a loss it would be!”

“I should say so!” agreed Bob, as he helped steady the raft while the little bald-headed man, holding the mass of weeds he had secured, climbed “on board” again. “Think of the lives that would be lost!”

“Yes, that would be awful,” agreed his companion. “But I would lose a most wonderful collection of specimens and much valuable data concerning them. That rascally Dr. Hallet would get them if he could.”

“Who is he?” asked Bob. “Is he that mysterious individual who was in the guarded cabin? the little man who looks like you from behind, with whom Jerry had the row, and who——”

“Look! Look!” suddenly cried the professor, holding to his bunch of seaweed with one hand and with the other stuffing his removed clothes[147] into a crack of the raft so they would not be washed away. “Look! There’s a boat after us!”

Bob looked in the direction of the pointing finger and saw, dimly through the fog, a white object of considerable size, at least as compared to their improvised vessel. It floated well up out of the water, and as the drifting currents brought the two nearer Bob saw that it was a ship’s life raft. It consisted of two large steel cylinders, filled with air and sealed. Between them was a platform and a raised object which Bob knew was a water-tight box, or locker, containing food and water.

“Look!” cried the professor. “There he is! There he is! Oh, I hope the bug is still on him!”

And then Bob observed that the life raft held a lone occupant. It was a sailor, and it needed only a second glance to show that it was the same man from whom Professor Snodgrass had been about to remove a “specimen,” when the crash came.

Almost at the same instant that Bob and the professor observed the lone sailor on the life raft, the man noticed them. He stared a moment, then waved his hand in greeting and called:

“Are you alive?”

“Very much so!” answered Bob. “Have you room for us there?”


“Plenty and to spare,” was the answer. “This raft is built to hold twelve. Wait, I’ll row over to you!”

Then Bob saw that the queer craft was provided with oars; and though it moved clumsily in the water it progressed toward him and the professor. The latter gave one look and observing that substantial help was on the way, he began to examine the specimens in the bunch of seaweed. Not before he had called out, however to the sailor:

“Don’t lose that bug, whatever you do!”

“Bug! Lose the bug! Sure, and the man’s plumb daft!” Bob heard the old salt mutter.



Jerry Hopkins stood in a pool of sea water on the deck of the derelict to which he had climbed after having been immersed in the ocean for more than an hour. Every seam of his garments seemed to spew out a little puddle of dampness, and he said afterward that he felt not unlike a sponge. But for the time being, wonder at his new situation and thankfulness that he was on something more substantial than a wave overpowered every other emotion.

“Well, I’m here, but where am I?” mused Jerry. “I wonder what vessel this is and how long she will remain afloat? Anyhow, if she does go under I can make a raft of something to keep afloat on. This isn’t half bad. Now let’s see where I’m at!”

Jerry knew that the best thing for him to do was to get some dry clothes on, provided he could find any, or, if not, to get his wet ones off[150] and let them dry. The weather was cold and damp, and the fog still prevailed, so much so that he could only see part of the deck of the derelict at a time.

The refugee also felt the need of food and something hot to drink, for though it was not winter his immersion in the sea, coupled to the fact that the last few days had been damp, cold ones, had not served to raise his vitality.

“But first I’m going to see if any one else is on board,” mused Jerry, as he moved about, first, however, removing his soaked coat and trousers. His shoes he had loosed and let drop into the ocean soon after he began swimming.

“This is as good as a bathing suit, in case I meet any one,” mused the lad, as he glanced down at his underwear. “And I can’t stand those wet things. There must be bunks aboard, if nothing else, and I can crawl into one after a bit. But first I’m going to look about.”

He did not pause long to ascertain what sort of craft it was on which he found himself. That it was a derelict, and that it was probably the one that had crashed into the Sherman, or the craft into which the troopship had crashed, was very evident to Jerry Hopkins. That it was a derelict was sure, for there was not a sign of life on deck, nor was the vessel under command. There was no vestige of sail, and no smoke came from[151] her single funnel, nor was there any vibration to tell of engines in motion.

Jerry made a quick tour of the deck, moving swiftly to restore his partially suspended circulation. The vessel showed many evidences of damage, whether by shell fire or collision Jerry could not determine. Her rails were broken in many places, and all her boats were gone except a broken one on the port davits. Looking over the side as best he could the lad decided that there was not much damage below the water line, or, if there were punctures, the bulkheads confined the leakage to one small section.

“She floats pretty well,” mused Jerry, after he had made a tour of the craft and had seen no one on the deck. “She may ride quite a while yet. There’s no one up here, that’s sure, but that isn’t saying there mayn’t be some one below. I’m going to look.”

The sea was calm and the vessel rode on an almost even keel, so the lad had no difficulty in going below. In spite of her comparatively small size, the derelict contained many places where persons might be either in hiding, or perhaps ill or dead. But Jerry moved quickly about below, using his knowledge of ships which was not small, and as he moved here and there he shouted.

The echoes of his own voice were the only answers he received, and when he had penetrated[152] to the engine room, and even to the stokehold, and had seen the boilers cold and dead, and not a soul in sight, he came to the most natural conclusion.

“I’m all alone here!” he exclaimed aloud. Somehow, it seemed less lonely to speak in this way. “Well, since I’ve got to entertain myself,” mused Jerry whimsically, “I’m going to see if there is anything I can wear and anything I can eat. Might as well be as comfortable as I can since I’m to be ‘cook and captain too, and mate’ of this derelict. Wonder what her name is, anyhow?”

A look at the one remaining lifeboat—useless as it was,—showed painted on her bow the words: “Altaire, New York.”

“Never heard of her,” mused the lad. “She’s probably some small tramp steamer, and maybe was doing a sort of free and easy freight business to Europe. The Germans caught her and—good-night! She must have been floating around for some time, though.”

Going below again, out of the cold, damp fog, Jerry came upon what he took to be the cabin of the captain or one of the mates. It bore evidences of having been ransacked, but there was clothing scattered about, as was the case in adjoining cabins, and Jerry at once stripped, rubbed himself down well until his whole body was in[153] a glow, and then he dressed himself in the best of what he found. It was rather nondescript, to say the least.

“But I’m warm, and that’s a whole lot,” reasoned the lone navigator. “And as there’s no one to see me, who cares how I look?”

Warmly clad, though somewhat regretting that he was no longer in Uncle Sam’s uniform, Jerry’s next thought was of getting something to eat.

“And I only wish old Bob and Ned were here with me to help get up a meal—provided I can find any!” mused the lad. “Wonder what happened to them. Were they tossed overboard as I was? Or did the Sherman sink? That can hardly have happened, though, or I’d have heard more of a commotion—fellows shouting and so on. Guess she’s all right, but it’s mighty queer I’m the only one on board here. What became of Professor Snodgrass? And what was he doing on board, and that other queer duck—le cochon?”

Jerry paused to reflect a moment, going hastily over in his mind all that had happened since he had been standing in the fog on the deck of the transport conversing with his friends.

“Seems like a week ago, and yet it wasn’t more than two hours,” he decided. “Well, now for the grub—if there is any!”

Jerry did not need to be told the location of the galley and pantry. He found the place where the[154] ship’s food was prepared, but, like the cabins, the deck, and the engine room—it was drearily empty. There was a stock of dry wood and some coal near the galley stove, however, and finding matches in a tin box, Jerry soon had a blaze.

“Feels mighty good, too,” he decided as he rubbed his hands over the fast-warming stove. “Now if I can get something to eat I’ll feel like a real passenger.”

There was, as the lad soon discovered, enough food on board to last a long while. Much had been hastily taken away—that was evident—but plenty remained.

Whether the passengers and crew had filled the boats before leaving what they believed to be a sinking ship, or whether the Germans had looted the Altaire, Jerry could not determine.

However, he found some tins of pilot biscuit, some canned bacon, and enough coffee to last him a year, he thought. There was condensed milk, also, and plenty of sugar, though how the Germans overlooked that—providing they had been the marauders—it was hard to say.

Moving quickly about, Jerry soon had some bacon sizzling on the stove, its aroma mingling with that of the coffee. Having unearthed a tin of preserved butter, Jerry set himself a table. Then, surveying the work of his hands, he exclaimed:


“Not half bad, old top! Not half bad!”

How good that sizzling, crisp bacon and coffee tasted to Jerry Hopkins! He was just finishing his repast and wondering what he had best do next, when he heard a sound up above on deck.

Jerry started so suddenly that he dropped the empty coffee cup he had been about to set down, and it crashed to the floor, breaking into many pieces.

“Are we hitting something else, or has some one come to life on board here?” mused Jerry, as he slowly rose from his seat.



Slowly, owing to its size and clumsy, though eminently safe, construction, the life raft containing the sailor approached the bit of wreckage that supported Bob Baker and Professor Snodgrass.

“Are you all right?” the sailor called to them, and his voice seemed happy and jolly in spite of his situation.

“As right as can be,” responded Bob. “We’ll be better when we get on board with you, though. That is, if there’s room.”

“Sure, there’s plenty of room!” the old salt asserted. “And there’s stuff to eat and drink here, though I haven’t time to get at it. Steady now, and I’ll have you on board in another minute or two.”

He navigated his queer craft until he had brought it alongside the mass of wreckage, and in a few minutes more, Bob and the professor were safely on board. The change was a most welcome one, since the life raft rode high in the water,[157] and they could sit out of reach of the waves, at least while the sea was calm. In a storm it would be another matter, but they did not think of this just then.

“Now we’ll paddle away from that bit of jagged timber,” said the sailor. “It won’t do to get rammed with that, or we may get a hole stove in one of our air tanks. That’d be bad!”

He was about to fend off the rude craft that had saved the lives of Bob and Professor Snodgrass when the latter uttered a cry.

“Wait a minute!” he begged. “My clothes! I’ve got a pencil in one pocket, and some paper. After I dry it out I can make notes on this new kind of crab I’ve found in this seaweed. I want to get my clothes.”

“It wouldn’t be a bad idea,” decided Bob. “I’ll get mine, too. May have a chance to use ’em later on.”

It did not take long to haul aboard the raft the bundles of wet clothing from the cracks in the mass of wreckage, and then Bob, taking an oar, helped the sailor shove off.

“Now we’re properly afloat, we’d better think what we’re going to do,” suggested the old salt. “I’m no navigator. Beno Judd is my name, and I generally write ‘A. B.’ after it when I sign papers. Can either of you gentlemen navigate?”

“I can’t,” confessed Bob, as he told his own[158] name and that of his scientific friend. “Perhaps the professor may be able to help us.”

“Help you do what?” asked Professor Snodgrass, looking up from his occupation of investigating the seaweed.

“Navigate,” answered Bob. “Mr. Judd, this sailor, says he doesn’t know anything about it.”

“Neither do I,” admitted the professor. “But why do we want to navigate? We’re afloat, aren’t we? And we’re comparatively dry now, or will be soon. This bunch of seaweed will keep me occupied for several days, and——”

He paused to look closely at the sailor.

“What did you do with it?” he asked quickly.

“With what?”

“That bug.”

“Well, maybe the poor thing died of fright, or was drowned, sir,” was the answer, given with just the trace of a smile. “I went overboard when you did, sir, and that’s all I know.”

“Too bad,” mused the professor. “But perhaps sometime I may find another on you. At any rate I have this crab, and a most beautiful specimen it is.”

As he spoke he held up a squirming creature, which, as Bob said later, never would have taken a prize, even at a bulldog show.

“I hope to secure some valuable data from this specimen as to the possible effect of the discharge[159] of depth bombs on inhabitants of the sea,” the professor went on. “If I only had some dry note paper!” he sighed, as he took a sodden mass from his wet garments.

“You’re lucky to be as high and as dry as you are, sir!” exclaimed the sailor Judd. “I count myself lucky to have met with this raft. All I had, at first, was a bit of wood hardly enough to kindle a fire. This is much better.”

“Oh, this is fine,” agreed the professor.

“Speaking of fires,” ventured Bob, “did you say there was something to eat on board?” and he looked suggestively at the closed box which formed the highest part of the life raft.

“This is supposed to contain food and water,” remarked Judd, as he tapped the compartment in question. “Shall I open it?”

“I should say so!” exclaimed the stout lad. “Even a cold snack would taste good.”

“And possibly we might find some dry paper in there on which I could make a few notes.” The professor spoke wistfully. “I have the pencil,” he added, as he drew one from his wet and sodden garments.

“We’ll soon see,” said the sailor. “There’s no need of rowing just now,” he added to Bob, who had one of the oars in his hands. “We aren’t in any danger of running into any one or of getting anywhere, either. We can see what we’ve got to[160] eat and then start to navigate—that is, we can row and see where we get.”

“Don’t you think we ought to see if we can find the Sherman?” asked Bob. “She ought to be somewhere around here,” and he gazed into the fog that still surrounded them.

“Not much use trying,” declared the sailor. “I shouted until my throat ached, and never a word in answer did I get. I don’t know what happened to the transport after I left it, but I couldn’t get sight of her.”

He turned to open the case that was placed amidships of the life raft. It was tightly closed by a catch that could be easily opened when one knew how, and Judd seemed to know.

“Is this life raft from the Sherman?” asked Bob. “Did they throw it over when the crash came?”

“It isn’t one from the transport,” the sailor answered. “It’s like some we carried, though. This one is from the steamer Altaire, and I shouldn’t wonder but what that was the derelict that crashed into us.”

“The Altaire!” murmured Bob. “I wonder if we’ll ever see her again. I’ve always wanted to see a derelict.”

“Well, I’d rather see one at a distance, if they’re going to act as this one did,” remarked Professor Snodgrass. “Though I suppose I shouldn’t find[161] fault, as I might never have discovered this crab if I had not gone overboard. The only thing that worries me, though, is that I didn’t get that sea-leech. That’s what was on you,” he added to the sailor. “A sea-leech is one of the rarest specimens of the genus Hirudo, and this was the Hirudo aqua marinis, quite different from the Hirudo medicinalis. What I was particularly interested in was to observe whether the sea-leech had the same three small white teeth with serrated edges which cause the peculiar triradiated wound as has the Hirudo medicinalis.”

Judd stared in amazement.

“Well, if it’s all the same to you,” said Bob, with a smile, “I’d like to try my teeth on some of the food in that box.”

“All right, my boy! I’m with you!” agreed the professor. “I feel a bit hungry myself.”

Judd opened the locker, and to the delight of the three on the raft it was well filled. There was preserved food enough to last them perhaps a week, and a large cask of fresh water—that is, it was comparatively fresh, for no one could say how long the raft had been adrift.

“But it can’t have been long,” asserted the old salt. “My opinion is that the life raft was jarred off the derelict when she hit us. Otherwise it wouldn’t have been floating in the place where we struck the water. Besides, there isn’t any growth[162] or mass of seaweed and barnacles on it as there would be if it had been long in the water.”

“Well, we ought to be thankful for what we have,” said Bob, with a sigh, as he munched some sea biscuit and a bit of corned beef, a can of which the sailor opened. “This is a good deal better off than I thought we’d be a while back. How about it, Professor Snodgrass?”

“You are right,” was the answer from the little scientist. “And, Bob, don’t destroy any wrapping paper. I can use the blank side for making notes.”

This he proceeded to do, taking the crab as his first specimen, though he declared that the bunch of seaweed, which he had laid aside, contained much else that would hold his attention later.

“Well, now let’s consider what’s best to do,” said Bob, when they had made a fairly substantial meal, washing it down with the water which, though not exactly as good as that from a faucet or a well, was very acceptable.

“Which way shall we row?” asked the sailor. “If you gentlemen will tell me how to navigate I’ll be only too willing.”

“I’ll do my share of rowing,” agreed Bob. “But that’s the question—which way shall we row?”

“Or sail,” added Judd.

“Sail!” exclaimed the stout lad. “Can we sail?”


“Oh, yes, there’s a small mast and sail here,” and the seaman pointed out where it was fastened to the raft. “We can hoist the sail, but there’s no wind to fill it.”

This was true enough. The fog still enveloped them, and it needed a wind to carry away this concealing vapor. It hid them from view even as it hid from them the possible location of the Sherman and the derelict.

“Well, let’s hoist the sail, anyhow,” suggested Bob. “Then it will be ready when the wind does come, and if there are any small boats cruising around looking for us, or if any other ships get in this neighborhood, they can see us more easily if we have the sail up.”

“You’re right,” agreed the sailor. “Up she goes.”

As has been remarked, the raft, on which the three now were, consisted of two large hollow steel cylinders. Between them was a raised framework, and this, in addition to holding the box of food, contained a compartment for the oars and for a small sail. The mast for the latter was soon stepped in the hole provided for it. It was braced by ropes, and the sail hoisted.

“Now we’re all ready for a voyage!” cried Bob, more gaily than he could have talked an hour before.

For some little time they drifted on, the sail[164] hanging idly at the mast, and the fog lazily swirling around them. Then, suddenly, there came a puff of wind. They all felt it at once.

“A breeze!” cried the sailor.

“Yes, and look!” cried Bob. “There’s the Sherman!”

He pointed to what seemed an opening torn in the veil of fog, and all three had a glimpse of the camouflaged side of some vessel. Then, as the wind bellied out the sail, the fog shut in again, and it was as if a blank, white wall confronted them.



Jerry Hopkins, disturbed at his lonely meal by the sound of something or some one moving on the deck of the derelict, started slowly and cautiously toward the companionway.

“If it’s one of the crew of this ship or some of the passengers, I’ll be all right,” he reasoned. “But if it’s one of some beastly German submarine crew——”

He did not finish, but looked around for some sort of weapon. He saw a small bar of iron, which might have been used by the cook for a fire poker, and with this in his hand Jerry cautiously went up on deck.

“Anybody here?” he called, as he carefully thrust up his head. He held the iron bar in readiness. There was no answer, and as Jerry felt the cold, clammy air on his face and smelled the fog, he knew that the derelict was still enveloped in the mist.

“No one seems to have boarded me,” he mused,[166] as his eyes searched the whiteness for a glimpse of some other craft. “If any one is here besides myself he must have been in hiding. Hello!” he cried as loudly as he could. “Anybody at home?”

There was no answer. There was only the swish and swash of the heaving ocean against the sides of the derelict and the rattle and bang of some loose gear, as a swell gently careened her to and fro.

“Nobody here,” mused Jerry. “What could that noise have been?”

He looked about, at first warily, for he half expected to have to engage with some German, as he and his chums had engaged in the trenches in France. Then he became convinced that he was all alone on the craft, and, though he had a realization that this would react dreadfully on him later, for the time being he was thankful that there was no one with whom to contend.

“I wonder what made that noise,” said Jerry again, and he spoke aloud. The words had scarcely left his lips before he heard a banging, rattling sound, and then he saw what it was.

A loose keg, probably one used for water, was rolling about the deck, and this, colliding with various objects, movable and stationary, had caused the commotion.

“Well, it’s a good thing to know what it was,” mused Jerry with an air of relief. “I’ll just make[167] this fast now, so it won’t wake me up when I get to sleep.”

This done, his next thought was on the very subject he had last mentioned—going to sleep.

“It wouldn’t be a bad plan to look to see where I’m going to bunk to-night,” mused Jerry. “I’ve got to turn in some time, and it must be getting on toward night—though one wouldn’t know just what time it was in this fog.”

He looked at his wrist watch. It was one enclosed in a waterproof case, and the hands showed four o’clock in the afternoon.

“I’ll consider that what I just ate was my lunch,” decided Jerry, “and when the time comes I’ll have a late supper. Wish Chunky and Ned were here to share it with me—also the professor. Wonder what happened to them.”

It was a useless wondering, and Jerry realized it, but he could not help speculating on what fate had befallen his companions. They had been standing so near him when the crash came that there was hardly any question in Jerry’s mind but what they had either gone overboard, as had he, or been hurt.

“If they fell into the sea and managed to cling to something, maybe there’s a chance for them,” he reflected. “But if they were right in the path of the collision, it may be all up with them. This certainly was a disastrous voyage from the start.[168] But I suppose I ought to be thankful that I’m alive.”

Carrying out his intention of finding a place to sleep, Jerry went below again. He found he had quite a choice open to him. There were a number of cabins and comfortable beds he could pick from, and though some of the bed clothing had been taken, or at least had disappeared, there was more than he needed.

He made himself up a berth in what he decided was the captain’s cabin, though all papers and everything else to indicate specific ownership had been removed. Jerry hung up his own wet clothes to dry, as he intended donning his uniform as soon as it was in shape to wear.

“I haven’t been discharged yet,” he reasoned; “and if any of the dirty Germans show up I want to show ’em who I am!”

Having made up his berth, Jerry laid out some food he intended to cook when supper time came, and then, having banked the fire in the galley stove, he went up on deck again. The fog was still heavy, and he could see not much further than the width of the deck of the derelict. But he felt that this was a good opportunity for making an investigation of the craft, to decide, if possible, what character of ship she had been.

With his knowledge of vessels it did not take Jerry long to make up his mind that the Altaire[169] had been a tramp freighter, engaged in whatever trade she could pick up. He did not investigate the cargo holds, but they seemed partly filled with boxes and cases. Some had been broken out and carried bodily away. Others were strewn about below decks, the contents, partly removed, of a few giving evidence that goods of iron, steel, rubber, clothing, farm implements, and household appliances had made up the manifest.

“I guess the Germans wish they could have taken the whole cargo,” mused Jerry, as he looked at the broken cases. “Their subs are limited, however. Well, if I could get this ship and her cargo to some port I could make a lot of money.”

That was impossible, as he knew, unaided as he was. His next care was to make as thorough an inspection of the craft as was possible, and this revealed the important fact that she was not leaking or sinking.

“If the Germans thought they put her out of business they made a mistake,” Jerry decided. “Unless they left her with time bombs aboard, which haven’t gone off yet.”

This thought gave him a fright, and he looked as carefully as he could in what he thought the most likely places to find such fiendish devices. He saw nothing alarming, however.

The engine room was in confusion, and certain parts of the machinery were broken. But whether[170] these were vital parts Jerry did not stop to determine. He knew that without help he could not hope to operate the engines anyhow; and without a boiler room gang to get up steam, even the most perfect engine would not run for the best expert in existence.

“I might hoist some sort of sail,” mused the lone navigator. “I suppose I can do that. And I ought to set some sort of signal. This fog can’t last forever, and if any ship passes me I want those on board to know I’m in need of help. I’ll go up and see what I can manage.”

Jerry knew there were certain signals that would indicate a vessel in distress, while others would show the craft was merely unmanageable. He came under both headings, so to speak.

By rummaging in the chart room the lad found a signal book, and also a set of flags and some lanterns. These last had oil in them and were ready for lighting.

“That’s what I’ll do!” decided Jerry. “I’ll hoist the flags for day work, and use the lanterns at night. Might as well get the best I can out of it.”

Finding the proper combination of flags to indicate that he was both in distress and unmanageable, Jerry hoisted them as high as he could on the wireless masts.

“I’d send out a call for help if I could get the[171] electrical machinery to working,” said Jerry, as he looked into the wireless room. But he saw that there had been a destructive force engaged here, for some of the instruments were smashed. He knew how to operate a simple sending set, and also how to receive messages, but he reasoned that it was out of the question to make this apparatus available.

“The Huns must have set off a bomb here to prevent the Altaire signaling for help,” he reasoned.

Having hoisted his signals, Jerry began to look about for the material for getting sail on his craft. There was plenty of canvas, and he knew enough about a boat to feel sure he could get up some kind of surface that the wind might get hold of.

“It will give her steerage way, anyhow,” he reasoned, “and I’ll need that if the wind begins to blow and the old craft falls into the trough. Got to keep her head up to the waves or I’ll be swamped. If a sail won’t do it, I’ll have to rig up a sea anchor.”

This is merely a drag, fastened to the stern of a disabled ship by means of ropes. A sea anchor floats just submerged under the surface, and, offering no surface to the wind while the higher structure of a vessel acts almost as a sail, the anchor becomes a sort of auxiliary rudder in cases where there is not momentum enough for the regular[172] rudder to be effective, or where it is missing.

Jerry found what he thought would make a sail, and he was considering how he could best use this when he noticed that there was a puff of wind. As this had been the first in some days it attracted his attention.

“It’s coming on to blow!” exclaimed the lad. “Good! That will clear away the fog and I can see where I am. Maybe I can sight the Sherman!”

It was this same puff of wind that brought hope to the hearts of Bob, the professor, and Judd aboard the life raft.

“What did you think you saw?” asked the sailor, as Bob uttered his exclamation at the sight of something through a rift in the fog.

I saw a ship! A ship with camouflaged sides!” exclaimed the stout lad. “It’s the Sherman! Right ahead there! Look! There where the fog is breaking again!”


Even Professor Snodgrass looked. For a moment after Bob had first spoken the fog had closed in, shutting out the momentary view he had had. Now the wind freshened, the fog blew away, and he pointed at what he had seen.

“It is a ship!” exclaimed the professor.

“But not the Sherman!” cried Judd. “That’s an abandoned vessel! The derelict, I do believe, that crashed into us!”


“Ahoy there! Ahoy the derelict!” shouted Bob, standing up and waving his arms.

The fog rapidly blew away. The wind caught the sail on the life raft, and the mass moved forward. Judd quickly thrust an oar through a staple at the stern made for the purpose, and began to steer. They approached the strange, silent vessel that now loomed in front of them.

“It is a derelict,” said Bob in a low voice. “There isn’t a soul on board.”

Nearer and nearer they approached. Bob and the sailor joined their voices in a shout.

“It’s just possible some one may be there,” said the stout lad.

They were near enough now to look across the broken rails—to note the damage done to the craft. And then, as they shouted again, they saw a figure running along the deck.

“Some one is there! Some one is there!” cried Bob, greatly excited.

“Ahoy! Ahoy!” shouted the sailor.

“Now I shall be able to get some paper for my crab notes,” murmured the professor.

The figure on the derelict leaned over the side and waved a frantic welcome.

“Bob! Professor!” a voice shouted.

“Why—why—he knows us!” gasped the stout lad. “Who can it be?”

A moment later the mist completely cleared[174] away and the setting sun shone clearly. Bob saw who was aboard the derelict and cried in delight.

“Jerry! Jerry boy! It’s Jerry Hopkins! Oh, what luck!”

And a moment later the life raft grated gently against the side of the Altaire. The refugees were reunited.



“There are three passengers, sir, and one sailor, for whom we are unable to account.”

The chief officer was thus reporting to Captain Munson of the transport Sherman, and Ned, standing near, disheartened and with his mind torn by cruel worries, overheard.

“Who are the missing ones?” asked the captain.

“Two soldiers, Bob Baker and Jerry Hopkins; Professor Uriah Snodgrass; and Beno Judd, a first-class seaman. They can not be found, they are not among the injured, nor are their bodies among the dead. I have put them down as missing, sir.”

“Quite right. Unfortunate, but quite right. Have the boats been able to pick up any one?”

“No, sir.”

“Well, there is not much use, I believe, in keeping them out longer in this fog. Some of them may get lost. Call them back, but station lookouts[176] with orders to report at once anything that looks like floating wreckage to which a person might cling. If this fog would only lift we might have a chance of picking them up, if they, by any chance, are still alive. Have a sufficient number of lookouts stationed, Mr. Bangs.”

“Yes, sir.”

Ned felt sick at heart. It was all over, then—the happy companionship of years—he thought. Never again would he see his beloved comrades, Jerry and Bob, comrades with whom he had passed the gates of death in many a battle. Professor Snodgrass, also—that dear but eccentric individual—he, too, was gone.

“Isn’t there anything we can do?” asked Ned of the captain.

“I’m sorry to say I don’t see what else can be done,” was the sympathetic answer, for the commander of the ship knew something of the love and friendship existing between the lad who was left and those who were gone. “You know how the accident happened, my lad, and we have searched all over in this vicinity. It would be risking other lives to search farther, for it is easy for a small boat to be lost in a fog. If it should lift I would order them out again. I am sorry.”

Ned turned away, his heart heavy. To whom could he go for solace? He had many friends and acquaintances among his fellow soldiers, and[177] the officers were fond of him and his chums. But Ned did not feel like talking to any of them just now. He wanted to be alone. But solitude was difficult to come at on the crowded ship.

Idly he made his way back to the scene of the accident. The break in the bulwarks and rail had been temporarily mended, and a curious crowd was gathered about the hole torn in the side of the Sherman. Ned did not want to stay there.

He looked out into the mist. The wet particles clung to his face like tiny tears, and he had much ado to keep back his sobs as he thought of those who had so lately been with him.

“If only the fog would lift!” murmured Ned, as he turned away from the broken place with a shiver.

But the white curtain of vapor still swirled about the troopship, seemingly moved more by the mysterious ocean currents than by any wind. It was still a dead calm, and though the fog may have lifted over some parts of the ocean area that it had covered, in the vicinity of the transport it was still heavy and impenetrable.

“It seems to shut me in like a prison!” murmured Ned.

Night was coming on, and it seemed to settle down earlier than it needed to, caused by the murkiness of the air. The first call to the supper mess was sounded, but Ned did not respond. He had[178] no appetite for food. There would be time enough later to eat, if he felt so disposed.

“Poor Chunky!” he mused. “I’d never poke fun at him again about his appetite if he were here now.”

Ned choked back a sob and turned to go toward the bow of the ship.

The deck along which he was then progressing was more deserted then than it had been for some time, for many of the soldiers were down below, eating. And as Ned made his way along he saw, coming toward him, a figure that caused him a start, it was so like that of Professor Snodgrass. But he knew in an instant who it was.

Le cochon!” he murmured.

Hardly knowing why he did it, Ned stepped beneath an overhanging part of the deck, and so was partially hidden. The man who so resembled Professor Snodgrass—the man who had acted so violently in the restaurant—walked toward the place where the derelict had crashed into the Sherman and stood looking at the damaged place. Ned, from his vantage place, could observe and hear.

“So this is the place, is it!” murmured le cochon, or the pepper-pot, as Ned sometimes thought of him. “Well, well! I am sorry for him—for all of them. I shall have to redouble my efforts now!”


Ned started. What did the words mean? What was the mystery connected with this strange man who seemed to be under guard at times, and free to rove about at others? What association had he with Professor Snodgrass, and why was he so vindictive toward that little scientist? And, now that the professor was gone, why had this man come to gloat over the place of his disappearance?

All these thoughts rushed through Ned’s mind, which was in a tumult. And then, as the little man spoke, another idea obtruded itself.

What did he mean when he said:

“I shall have to redouble my efforts now!”

To Ned, obsessed as he was with a feeling of enmity against this man, the words had but one meaning.

“He means to go on with his deadly work!” mused the lad. “He was responsible for the damage to the ship in the first place—he caused her to be disabled and held up in the fog. If it wasn’t for that we’d be on our way now, and the derelict wouldn’t have crashed into us.

“This man is responsible for that, though he may not have known about the derelict. He is responsible for the death of Bob, Jerry and Professor Snodgrass. And now he talks of redoubling his efforts! I know what that means! He’s a German spy and he’s going to try to sink the whole[180] shipload of us. He must have gotten away from his guards. I’m going to tell the captain!”

Ned stepped from his place of concealment and was about to hurry to summon some of the ship’s officers when the little man caught sight of him. To Ned it seemed that the pepper-pot was startled and alarmed. He stared at Ned and stammered:

“Oh, you—you are here, are you?”

“Very much so!” was the indignant answer. “But you won’t be here long to go on with your dirty work. I know all about you! I know——”

Like a flash, and taking the youth by surprise, the little man rushed at Ned and in a moment had him in a grip that rendered the lad helpless. Both wrists were held in a muscular vise that spoke volumes for the athletic training of le cochon.

“Be quiet!” The man fairly hissed the words into Ned’s ears. “Don’t say another word!” and he began to drag Ned along.



When Jerry Hopkins looked over the side of the derelict Altaire, and saw, slowly rising and falling on the swell, the life raft containing Bob, Professor Snodgrass, and the sailor, Judd, and when the lone navigator heard the welcome greetings in response to his own shouts, he was filled with delight.

“Jerry! Jerry!” cried Bob. “Throw us a line!”

“And some sort of basket or bag!” added Professor Snodgrass. “I don’t want to lose my seaweed. There are yet several valuable specimens of marine life in it that I haven’t had a chance to examine.”

He was as calm and collected as though he had just been out in a small boat on some specimen-hunting expedition and was now returning. Instead he had been saved from death only by a narrow margin, and even now he was far from a dignified figure in his undergarments, a condition[182] of attire in which Bob shared. Judd, having been more simply clothed at the start, had kept on his own soaked garments, which were of light texture.

“Is it really you?” cried Jerry in delight. “Are you all right? Where’s Ned?”

“Isn’t he with you?” inquired Bob, with a sinking heart.

“No, I’m all alone on board. Oh, but I’m glad to see you! But where is Ned?”

“He must still be on the Sherman,” Bob answered, after a moment of hesitation. “We were thrown into the sea.”

“So was I,” said Jerry. “And I floated around until I found this ship. She seems sound. Did you see anything more of the transport? Did she sink, or what?”

“We don’t know,” Bob answered, while the professor busied himself in making a compact mass of the bunch of seaweed and Judd held the raft as close as possible to the derelict by using one oar as a scull.

“Come on up!” called Jerry. “Wait! I’ll throw you a line. There’s one on the other side that I climbed up by, but I can toss you another. There are plenty of loose ends here. This ship was deserted in a hurry.”

Bob and the sailor soon scrambled up on deck by means of the cable Jerry dropped down to them. And, after a warm hand clasp between the[183] two Motor Boys, and a look that meant much, they turned their attention to getting Professor Snodgrass on board.

The little scientist was not able to climb the rope hand over hand as Bob and the sailor had done, but he was soon hauled up to the deck by the three, clasping his precious seaweed in his arms.

Judd had taken the precaution to make the line that Jerry sent down fast to the life raft, and, once the greetings were over, the old salt slid down again, and fastened the clothes of Bob and the professor to a small rope. The garments were hauled up and hung out to dry in the air which was fast clearing.

“You can put on other clothes in the meanwhile,” said Jerry. “There’s quite a supply to choose from. Enough for the sailor, too. Now tell me all about it.”

“The sailor seems to be calling you,” interrupted Professor Snodgrass, who had spread his seaweed out on deck and was gleefully preparing to examine it more closely.

“Ahoy up there!” shouted Judd from where he stood on the life raft.

“What’s the matter?” asked Jerry.

“Better pull this craft around to the stern and make her fast there,” was the answer. “We might need her again.”

Once more the sailor scrambled up on deck,[184] after having made more secure the rope that attached the life raft to the derelict. Then with his aid, and that of Professor Snodgrass, for the task was not easy, the raft was hauled around to the stern and fastened there. It rode buoyantly.

“We can use her as a sea anchor by weighting her,” the sailor said, “and we may have to if it comes on to blow. Well, you’re pretty well off here—that is, if you have anything to eat,” he observed to Jerry, as he looked about. “If you haven’t——”

“Yes, the Germans, or whoever looted this vessel, left plenty,” was the answer.

“Maybe we’d better hoist up our provision box from the raft,” suggested Bob. “No use wasting the stuff there, and if we have to get aboard the queer boat again we can take the stuff with us.”

This was considered a wise proceeding, and accordingly the water-tight box of emergency rations and water was hoisted up. The food in it would not really be needed as long as the supply on the derelict lasted, but they all felt it was best not to take any chances.

“Now get on some dry clothes, and then we’ll have a talk,” suggested Jerry. “But, first of all, what do you really think about Ned?” and he looked anxiously at Bob.

“I think he’s still on the Sherman,” was the answer.


“Do you really?” the tall lad demanded.

“I really do,” and Bob tried hard to convince himself, as well as Jerry, of this.

He wanted to believe this, but, in reality, he did not know. Ned had been standing close to Chunky when the crash came, and Bob had not seen his chum after that. But, to his relief, Judd came to his aid.

“I’m sure I saw your friend standing on deck near the hole that was stove in us,” he said. “I remember seeing him as I slid overboard.”

“Well, in case the Sherman isn’t in any more danger of sinking than the Altaire is, I hope Ned is on her,” said Jerry.

“Is this the Altaire?” asked Bob.


“Then it’s her life raft that helped save us,” said the sailor. “Things are sure turning out queer!”

Jerry led them below, and they soon all changed to dry garments, which had the additional merit of being warm, though not much could be said for the fit—especially in the case of Professor Snodgrass, whose small form was not built to fill out the rather roomy garments of seamen.

But they all made the best of it, and their spirits rose as they saw how snug and comfortable they could be on the craft of which Jerry had been in lone command for a while.


“And, now that we feel pretty certain Ned is all right, we can begin to take it a bit easier,” sighed Bob. “You said you had plenty to eat, Jerry?”

“Yes, even for you, Chunky,” and the tall lad smiled for the first time since the crash. “Come on down and I’ll show you.”

Bob’s eyes opened with pleasure when he saw the larder. There was plenty for the four refugees for many weeks, even though the Germans, or perhaps the hastily departing crew and passengers, had well supplied themselves.

“It isn’t too early to eat, is it?” asked Bob, as he looked at the packages and cans of food.

“Haven’t you had anything since you went overboard?” asked Jerry, with a smile.

“Oh, well, yes, we had a snack. But——”

“Fall in, Chunky! No, I don’t mean exactly that, either,” and Jerry laughed a little. “You’ve fallen in enough for to-day, and so have I. What I meant was ‘fall to’ and eat as much as you like. Then we’ll decide what’s best to be done.”

“I wonder if the professor wants anything?” mused Bob. “He didn’t eat much on the raft—too much taken up with his crab.”

“I’ll find out,” volunteered the tall lad.

As might have been expected, the little scientist declared that he could not find time to stop now to make a meal. He had managed to get hold of[187] some blank paper, and, attired in a ship’s officer’s suit, many sizes too large for him, he was seated on deck poking through the bunch of seaweed and making notes of the different creatures he found.

“I’ll eat later,” he said. “I want to take advantage of the daylight while it lasts.”

“Thank goodness we have the sun for a change!” exclaimed Bob, as he looked around the horizon. “The fog is gone, and I hope it doesn’t come back. But where do you imagine the Sherman is, Jerry?”

“Haven’t the least idea,” was the answer. “Maybe the sailor can tell us.”

But the seaman was as much at sea, to use an appropriate term, as either of the boys.

“I’m all twisted,” he admitted. “I don’t know which way we drifted after we were on the raft, and I don’t even know which way the transport drifted during the time we were fogbound. I suppose the officers did, but I never was much on navigation. However, we’ve got a sound bottom under us, that’s one blessing. She isn’t taking in any water, is she?” he asked Jerry.

“Not as far as I can tell,” was the answer. “She seems as sound as a dollar—one of Uncle Sam’s dollars,” he added. “But I wish I knew what we ought to do. Night is coming on, and it’s possible we may sight something or some craft sight us.”


“That’s right,” agreed Judd. “I see you have some signals hoisted,” and he looked at the wireless masts from which fluttered the flags Jerry had hoisted. “They’re all right during the day, now that the fog has lifted, but they won’t be any use at night.”

“There are some lanterns,” the tall lad said.

“Then we’ll hoist them,” suggested the sailor.

Eagerly they all looked around the horizon for a sight of the Sherman, or any craft that might aid them. But the sea heaved and rolled restlessly and void.



Ned Slade felt himself being pulled along the deck of the transport in the firm grip of a man who, for the moment, he believed to be insane. The quick grasp of the pepper-pot and his sudden motion in dragging Ned along had, for the time being, deprived the lad of his power of resistance. But it came back to him quickly enough, and, suspecting some sinister design on the part of his captor, he braced himself, pulled his hands away, and demanded:

“What does this mean? What are you trying to do, anyhow? Isn’t it enough for you to have disabled this ship, and so, indirectly, have caused the collision, without trying anything more?”

“Don’t speak so loudly! Come with me! To my cabin! I can explain everything!” hoarsely whispered the little man, variously dubbed the pepper-pot, from his quick, impulsive way, and “le cochon,” a name given by Marie, the restaurant girl.


“Not much!” cried Ned. “I see your game! You want to get rid of me as, perhaps by accident, you got rid of Bob, Jerry, and Professor Snodgrass!”

“Ah! Professor Snodgrass! He—he is impossible! A mere dabbler! A charlatan!” cried the other, with something of his former manner. “I alone hold the secret! I shall give it to the world! Now that he is gone, I can work freely and openly. I will redouble my efforts! I will beat him!” His voice was triumphant.

“Yes, beat him, coward, now that he’s gone!” cried Ned. “I don’t want to have anything to do with you! I’m going to tell——”

Ned swung aside and was going to turn back to avoid what he thought was a lunge on the part of the strange man, a lunge that, the lad thought, meant danger, when he collided with some one hurrying along the passage.

There were many mutual grunts, for the impact had not been a gentle one, and, half dazed, Ned looked up to observe Captain Munson.

“Oh!” exclaimed Ned.

“What is the trouble?” asked the captain, and he smiled at Ned and the little man—smiled in such a way as to convince the Motor Boy that either there was nothing wrong, or else that the captain himself was deceived as to the character of his passenger.


“There is no trouble at all, Captain,” replied the pepper-pot. “Now that my rival has gone, I——”

“You mean Professor Snodgrass,” the captain said. “Yes, unfortunately he is gone. We hope he and the others may have saved themselves, and perhaps have floated off on some bit of wreckage our boats did not observe, but it hardly seems possible. I suppose you do not need a guard any longer?” he smilingly asked of the little man.

“No, thank you, my secret is in no further danger of being taken away by an unscrupulous charlatan!” was the emphatic answer.

And Ned, puzzled, observed with amazement Captain Munson deliberately winking at him the eye that was concealed from the pepper-pot.

“Captain Munson!” exclaimed Ned, “this—this man is trying to——”

The pepper-pot interrupted.

“I can now tell everything!” he said eagerly. “Please let me explain to him, Captain. I was taking him to my cabin to let him understand the whole situation, when he broke away from me and——”

“If you wish to listen to Dr. Hallet’s story I am sure you would find it interesting, to say the least,” broke in the commander. “Of course don’t go with him if you don’t want to, but in view of what has taken place perhaps it will be best to let him[192] tell his side of it. If you wish any further light you may come to me. I will give orders to have the marines withdrawn from in front of your cabin, Dr. Hallet,” he added.

“Do you mean to say—I mean is everything all right? Isn’t there any danger——” began Ned. And then as he looked at the little man, and compared his own splendid physique with that of le cochon, he felt just a little bit ashamed of the exhibition he had made. Certainly he was sure he could hold his own in a struggle, though there was no denying that the pepper-pot—or Dr. Hallet, to give him his right name—had a powerful grip.

“You may safely go with Dr. Hallet,” said the captain. “I am sorry there has been any misunderstanding. I would have explained before, but so many things have happened, it seemed impossible. As I say, if you are not satisfied with what he tells you, come to me,” and having nodded to Ned, with whom he had talked several times following the fatal crash, the commander passed on.

“Now are you satisfied?” asked the little man, and, somehow, in the light of the events of the last few moments, his face seemed more friendly to Ned.

“Well, I don’t in the least understand what it’s all about,” admitted Ned. “You acted so queerly in the restaurant, and then on board the transport;[193] and so much has happened—my friends being missing and all that—you can’t blame me for——”

“Not in the least, my dear boy! Not in the least!” was the suave answer. “If you will come to my cabin I can explain everything to your satisfaction. But first let me ask: You do not seriously believe that I caused the collision with the derelict and the disappearance of your friends, do you?”

Ned thought for a minute. Clearly he could answer in but one way. In spite of what the captain had said, this man might be guilty of having caused the disablement of the Sherman. And so, indirectly, he might be responsible for what happened to her afterward. But to accuse him of having caused Jerry, Bob, the professor and others to fall overboard, even though such accident was the direct result of the collision, was going a little too far. Ned had to admit this. At least it could not be called premeditated, for Dr. Hallet could not have known the derelict was going to drift past.

And so, after hastily thinking the matter over, Ned came to the conclusion that he might better accompany the little man to his cabin, and hear what he had to say.

“But I’ll be on my guard,” mused Ned. “He’s got a grip that’s hard to break. Must have been[194] quite an athlete in his youth. But I’ve got an automatic, and I sha’n’t hesitate to use it if I have to.”

Ned slipped a hand to his hip pocket where he was carrying a small but very effective weapon he had bought in Paris. “It might come in useful,” he reflected.

“I’ll come with you,” he said to Dr. Hallet, “but I warn you I’m not very much prepossessed in your favor, and——”

“I will explain everything, my dear boy,” declared his companion. “And then, if you wish to hold enmity against me—— But come to my cabin. We are likely to be disturbed here.”

This was true enough. Officers and soldiers were constantly passing along the “alley” of the ship, and Ned was kept busy saluting, while several of his acquaintances, coming back from their mess, looked curiously at him and his companion.

To the very same cabin in front of which two marines had been on guard and within which Ned and his chums had once seen Professor Snodgrass, Dr. Hallet now led the Motor Boy. And it needed but a single glance around it to disclose to Ned one fact, at least.

This was that Dr. Hallet was a rival of Professor Snodgrass—or, if not a rival, then a scientist engaged in the same pursuits.

For there were the same sort of specimen boxes, microscopes, notebooks, and other materials scattered[195] about as always marked the abiding place of Professor Snodgrass. There were even live bugs crawling in cases, and Ned recognized one or two as exactly similar to some he had helped Professor Snodgrass catch at different times.

“Now if you will sit down, my boy, I’ll begin to explain,” said Dr. Hallet. “It will take some little time, but I am sure at the end you will have a different feeling toward me.”

“I may, but I’m going to be perfectly frank, and tell you I have my doubts!” declared Ned. “You can start explaining whenever you are ready,” and he let his hand swing around behind him as he took a seat, making sure that his pistol was within ready reach.

“In the first place,” began Dr. Hallet, “I want to say that I—— Oh, I nearly forgot! I haven’t fed my fleas!”

Ned nearly laughed aloud, this was so like what Professor Snodgrass might have said. Dr. Hallet quickly arose, and, going over to a tiny green box, opened the top and sprinkled something in. He then quickly closed the receptacle.

“Have to be sharp with fleas,” he said. “These have bitten persons afflicted with trench fever and mustard gas poisoning, and I am going to make a test to see if those diseases are capable of being transmitted by the bite of insects. I don’t want any of these infected fleas to get on you.”


“I don’t want it, myself,” murmured Ned, as he moved somewhat away from the little green box.

“Well, now that I have given them food enough to last until we land, I hope, I will go on,” resumed the doctor. “As I was going to say, you are much mistaken if you think that Professor Snodgrass and I are enemies.”

Ned started.

“Well,” he said slowly, “if you are a friend of his you take a very queer way of showing it.”

“Professional feeling, my dear boy! Professional feeling; that’s all. Call it jealousy, if you like,” said Dr. Hallet, with something like a chuckle. “As a matter of fact, both he and I are working along the same lines to benefit humanity, and if I said anything harsh against him——”

“Which you certainly did!” interrupted Ned.

“Well, it was in a Pickwickian sense only—merely Pickwickian,” and this time the doctor laughed. “You have read Dickens, I dare say?” he went on.

“Yes,” admitted Ned. “I know my Pickwick Papers.”

“Then you’ll understand. As a matter of fact, Professor Snodgrass is my very dear friend, and we are mutually, though perhaps in a rival manner, seeking the same certain end.”

“Well, if you are,” asked Ned in amazement,[197] “why did you act so? Why did you call him a ‘charlatan’? And why were you put under guard? And did you try to blow up the transport with a bomb? If you did——”

Ned’s words died away, for at that moment the Sherman was shaken from stem to stern by a violent concussion, and after a period of portentous silence confused shouting broke out all over the ship.

Ned looked strangely at Dr. Hallet and drew his automatic pistol.



“This isn’t so bad,” remarked Jerry Hopkins.

“Not half,” added Bob Baker. “That is,” he qualified, “when you think how the professor and Judd here and I were situated a few hours ago.”

“Right snug and comfortable, I calls it!” stated the sailor.

As for Professor Snodgrass, attired in a warm but ill-fitting suit which had belonged to some member of the Altaire’s force, he bent over his notes at the table in the cabin of the derelict, where the four refugees were gathered. Night had fallen, signal lamps had been hoisted to the wireless mastheads, and now, having finished their supper, Jerry and his companions were below, “right snug and comfortable,” as the old salt put it.

They had found lanterns and lighted them to give a cheerful glow to the cabin. The electric service was, of course, out of commission with the engines stopped, but provision had been made[199] for auxiliary oil lighting, and it was no worse than conditions had been on all ships before the electric light was discovered.

“Do you think we ought to stand watch and watch all night?” asked Bob, looking at Jerry. “We might sight the Sherman or some other vessel, you know.”

“I don’t see what good it would do,” replied the tall lad. “If we did sight the Sherman we couldn’t move toward her, and unless her engines have been put in commission she couldn’t reach us. We could only drift along and look at one another. And I don’t believe we’ll sight the Sherman.”

“Do you mean she’s sunk?” asked Bob in a low voice, as he thought of Ned still, in all probability, left on board.

“No, not exactly that,” Jerry answered. “She has too many watertight compartments to sink unless she was blown all apart, and I don’t believe that has happened. But I think we must have gotten into two widely separated ocean currents. One is carrying us one way and the other is taking the Sherman along.”

“That’s about the way of it,” chimed in Judd.

“But what about seeing some other vessel?” asked Bob. “I mean one that isn’t disabled and that could take us off.”

“Well, of course, we might see one if we took[200] turns standing watch through the night,” admitted Jerry. “But we have our distress signal lamps set, and any vessel sighting them will put for us at once.”

“Well, all right, if you think that there’s no use worrying,” Bob agreed. “I didn’t fancy standing a night trick myself, but if it had to be done——”

“I don’t think it’s necessary, boys,” said Judd. “As Jerry Hopkins says, if any vessel sees our lights she’ll be bound to come close and investigate.”

The experience through which the sailor had passed with Bob and the professor made him seem like an old friend, and Jerry and Bob were glad to have him call them by name, as though he had known them many years. In fact the nearness to a tragic end, which at one period confronted them all, seemed to squeeze a long time into a very few moments.

“Well then all we’ve got to do,” suggested Bob, “is to stay here, sleep and eat——”

“You haven’t forgotten the eats, Chunky!” laughed Jerry, and it was the first real merriment that had enlivened them since the accident.

“I’m glad you’ve got plenty in the kitchen,” said Bob, joining in the laugh at his own failing. “But what I meant was that we can’t really do anything, can we, to better ourselves any?”

“I don’t know,” replied Jerry, looking at the[201] sailor. “I did think of hoisting some sort of sail, and now that you’re here maybe we can do that. Then we ought to rig up some sort of sea anchor to keep us head on to the waves in case of a blow. Outside of that I don’t know that we can do anything except to keep our distress signals flying.”

“Some sort of sail would be good,” agreed Judd; “and a sea anchor can be easy rigged up now that we have the life raft towing astern. There’s one trouble, though, about setting sail, provided we can do it.”

“What’s the trouble?” asked Bob.

“Well, if we get any steerageway on the craft at all, we may not be able to handle her.”

“Why not?” demanded Bob. “Her rudder is still in place. I noticed it when we were making fast the life raft.”

“Yes, her rudder is in place,” agreed the old salt, “and it only weighs several tons. It’s made to turn by steam, and with the engines dead there isn’t any steam. I doubt if we could manage to steer by hand.”

“There must be some provision for that,” asserted Jerry. “The steam steering gear might go out of commission at any time—in fact, I’ve often read of that happening on vessels. And when it does happen don’t they have to steer by hand?”

“Yes,” admitted the sailor, “I suppose they do.[202] We’ll have a look in the morning and see what we can do. Just now I think we’d better all take it easy.”

“Sure!” agreed Jerry. “We’ve had a hard time. I only hope poor old Ned is as well off as we are just now.”

“I fancy he’s better off in case he’s still on the transport, as he must be,” said Bob.

“He will be if he doesn’t fall too much under the influence of that nincompoop, Dr. Hallet!” suddenly exclaimed Professor Snodgrass.

Jerry and Bob started, looked at one another, and then at the little scientist who was busy making notes about the queer crab and other creatures he had found in the seaweed.

“Who is this Dr. Hallet?” asked Jerry. “You spoke of him once before. Is he the little man I had the trouble with in the restaurant, and who tried to blow up the Sherman?”

“Blow up the troopship!” cried the professor. “Why, I never heard of that!”

“Didn’t you know that her engines were disabled by an explosion?” asked Bob.

The professor shook his head.

“I didn’t pay much attention to what was going on,” he said. “I had a lot of notes to transcribe in my books, having made them only hastily on scraps of paper. All I recall is that we stopped for something or other, and I supposed we were[203] waiting for passengers, or for some reason like that.”

“Waiting for passengers in the middle of the ocean,” murmured Bob. Jerry signaled his chum to refrain from making comments, and then the tall lad fired a volley of questions at the professor.

“Who is this Dr. Hallet?” Jerry asked. “Why is he such an enemy of yours? and why was he kept under guard in his cabin? Afterward the guard was withdrawn and we saw you in there, though perhaps you didn’t see us. And what does it all mean, anyhow? Why will Ned be likely to get into trouble if he is left under the influence of this man? Don’t you think you’d better explain?”

The professor appeared to be considering this. And it seemed to require as much mental effort on his part as though he were deciding the most abstruse of abstract questions.

“Yes,” he finally admitted, “I think I had better explain matters to you. I didn’t think you were so interested. And as for you having trouble with this—this—well, I won’t say what I think of him—but as for you having had trouble with Dr. Hallet, Jerry, I know nothing of that. I only know I’ve had plenty of trouble.”

“He’s a long time getting down to facts,” thought Bob. “I wonder what it all means?”

“To begin at the beginning,” resumed the professor,[204] after apparently casting his mind back into the past, “the trouble between Dr. Hallet and me started when we were rivals in the pursuit of——”

The silence that pervaded the cabin, save for the low voice of the little bald-headed scientist, was suddenly broken by a dull rumbling sound, and a slight vibration seemed to go through the whole length of the derelict. To the boys, used to water navigation as they were, the sound and the feeling meant but one thing.

“We’ve bumped into something or something has bumped into us!” cried Bob.

“Or else we’ve rubbed up against the dock,” added Jerry.

“No dock out here in mid-ocean!” exclaimed the sailor. “But we sure have struck something. Not hard though, that’s one good thing. Otherwise we’d have a hole stove in us.”

“We’d better see what it is,” said Jerry, preparing to go up on deck.

The others agreed with him, even Professor Snodgrass putting away his papers and following the two boys and the old sailor.

As they mounted to the deck the bumping sounds kept up, and the tremors and vibrations continued to be felt throughout the Altaire.

“It’s just as if we were among a lot of ice cakes,” said Bob. “I hope we don’t ram an iceberg.”


“Hardly that in this latitude,” said Jerry. “Though some years they are found farther south than others.”

As they emerged on the deck, coming as they did from the lighted cabin, at first they could observe nothing. But gradually their eyes became accustomed to the darkness and they could see to move about.

“It’s on both sides!” exclaimed Bob.

“And it isn’t ice, either!” added Judd. “I know the smell of ice, and you can always feel a chill in the air. It isn’t a big berg, that’s sure, and small cakes wouldn’t last long in these warm waters.”

“But what is it?” asked Bob.

Jerry ran below and brought up a lantern which had on a powerful reflector. It was a light set on the wall in the cabin and designed to throw the rays in one spot. It was a sort of oil-power searchlight.

Holding this, Jerry advanced to the rail and directed the rays of light over the side and down to the water. What he saw caused him to utter a cry of surprise and fear, in which the others joined.

“Whales!” shouted Jerry. “We’re in the midst of a school of whales!”

“You’re right!” agreed the sailor. “We’ve run right into them, or they’ve surrounded us,[206] and it’s the bumping of their big heads against the sides that made the sounds.”

“Is there any danger?” asked Bob.

“There may be, if they take a notion to ram us all at once,” the sailor said. “Of course there isn’t the same danger to a ship like this that there would be to a small boat. But if they start to ram, and loosen some of the side plates below the water line so that we begin to leak—well, there’s no way of pumping the sea out.”

“Whales?” exclaimed Professor Snodgrass. “How interesting! I wish Dr. Hallet were here now!”

He did not specify whether it was so that the doctor might view the natural phenomenon or so that the professor’s rival might be annoyed and distressed by the visit of the sea monsters.

“What had we better do?” asked Bob.

“Do? Why don’t do anything!” said Jerry. “If we let ’em alone they may swim off, just as they swam up.”

As he spoke there came a more violent concussion to the vessel, and she seemed to heel over slightly.

“That was an old residenter who rammed us!” exclaimed Bob. “A few more blows like that, and we’ll start to leaking. If we only had a hand grenade or two or a bomb gun! Look, they’re clustering thicker than ever right in front of us!”


Indeed, by the rays of the lamp the sea was observed to be churned to foam by the milling of the huge creatures.

Again came a fearful blow on the ship’s quarter, and then Jerry cried:

“The bow gun! The bow gun! We can train that on ’em and shoot! That’s the way to get rid of the whales! Use the bow gun!”



Dr. Hallet smiled as he saw the sinister weapon in Ned’s hand. The lad did not aim at his companion, and, as a matter of fact, he had drawn the pistol more from instinct than anything else. The sudden noise, coupled with what he had gone through, had put Ned on the same sort of defensive attitude as he had been constantly under while in the trenches or on the battlefield.

“There is no need for that,” said the scientist. “I see you do not trust me.”

Ned would have blushed except for the fact that he was almost as brown as an Indian; and whoever heard of an Indian blushing?

“I beg your pardon!” exclaimed the lad. “I—I really didn’t think what I was doing. But did you hear that noise?”

“Yes, I heard something. There is some excitement up above.”

There was no question about that. The shouting[209] and the tumult up above continued to increase, and it was evident that something serious had happened. There had been no concussion such as had taken place when the derelict hit the Sherman, but that there was danger was evident even to the scientist, who, like Professor Snodgrass, was absent-minded and let the ordinary affairs of life pass by unheeded.

“We had better go up and see what it is,” suggested Ned.

“Yes, I agree with you,” was the answer. “My explanations will keep for a while.”

Ned was of the same mind, and, putting away his weapon, he and his companion hastened out of the latter’s cabin. In the passageway leading to the main deck they encountered many sailors, marines, soldiers and officers hurrying along.

“What’s the matter? What’s happened now?” called Ned to some whom he knew.

“Don’t know! Another explosion, I guess!” some one answered.

“They’ve signaled to abandon ship!” cried another. “We’ve got to take to the boats!”

With an exclamation Dr. Hallet turned from Ned’s side. He swung about and was about to retrace his steps when the lad caught him by the arm.

“Where are you going?” he asked.

“Back to my cabin.”


“What for?”

“To get some of my most valuable experimental specimens and save my notebooks. Their loss would be irreparable.”

“You can’t go back!” cried Ned, and he sought to drag his companion with him. “The ship may go down at any minute, and if you’re caught in your cabin you won’t have a chance!”

“But I must save my papers!” cried the scientist. “They represent my life work. I would be ruined if they were lost! If we have to take to the boats I can save them if I have them with me. I can’t let them go down with the ship.”

Ned recognized the same traits so often shown by Professor Snodgrass under similar conditions. The doctor was going to prove a stubborn man, Ned could see that.

“Hurry up! Hurry up!” a sailor shouted as he passed Ned and his companion on the run. “Get to your boat stations!”

“Do you hear!” yelled Ned in the doctor’s ear. “We’ve got to abandon the troopship!”

“I don’t go without my notes!” was the answer, and the man sought to pull his arm away from Ned’s detaining hand.

“Well, if you feel that way about it the only thing for me to do is to help you,” muttered the Motor Boy. “I can’t see you drown like a rat in a trap, and you may if you don’t have help. Come[211] on!” he said in no very gentle voice as he swung around and hurried along with the doctor.

“What are you going to do?” asked the scientist in some alarm.

“Help you gather up your notebooks and other things. Oh, don’t be afraid!” he added, as he saw a look of something like distrust spread itself over the features of his companion. “I know what’s valuable. I have often helped Professor Snodgrass. I’ll do the best I can for you.”

“Ah! Thank you for that!” murmured Dr. Hallet. “Some of my notes are worth more than their weight in diamonds!”

“Professor Snodgrass all over again!” mused Ned, and he was hardly able to repress a smile in spite of the gravity of the situation.

And that it was grave he could not doubt as he noted the confusion on every side and saw the soldiers and others hurrying to the stations that had been assigned to them in case of accident. It had been announced before the troopship sailed that there were enough lifeboats, rafts, and other appliances for saving the men aboard the ship and to provide for all in case it was necessary to abandon the transport at sea. But Ned had his doubts of this, as, it was evident, many others had also. For every one was hurrying to get to a vantage point, though there was no real disorder, and the men were obeying their officers.


Ned, rather reluctantly it must be confessed, followed the doctor into the cabin they had so lately quitted. The scientist began to gather up notebooks and papers and stuff them into his pockets.

“That won’t do!” cried Ned. “If you have to jump overboard they’ll get soaked!”

“But I’m not going to jump overboard!” was the calm reply, and it was to be noted that the doctor was now more calm than was Ned.

“You may have to,” was the grim response. “Haven’t you got a bit of oiled silk, or rubber, or something, you can wrap your papers in? That will protect them from the sea water.”

“Oiled silk? Oh yes, I have something like that,” the doctor decided, after thinking a moment. He produced an oilcloth bag, saying:

“I use this to cover my specimen boxes when I go out in the rain. Will this do?”

“It will have to!” exclaimed Ned, and he began stuffing into the receptacle the papers he gathered up from the various places where they were scattered about the doctor’s cabin. “Lively now!” cried the lad. “We may not have much time!”

“I must save all I can!” murmured the doctor. He gathered up book after book of notes, and as fast as he handed them to Ned the Motor Boy stuffed them into the water-proof bag.

“Everybody on deck!” shouted a voice outside[213] the cabin door. “Everybody on deck! We’ve got to abandon ship! She’s leaking like a sieve!”

“Come on!” cried Ned. “No time for any more!”

“I must save my fleas! I must save the fleas I’m testing as gas poisoning and trench fever carriers!” cried Dr. Hallet, as he turned toward the little green box. “I can’t go without them!”

“You’ve got to!” muttered Ned, grabbing him by the shoulders. “Didn’t you hear ’em say we are leaking?” And by a sudden effort he succeeded in forcing the doctor out of the cabin, not before the scientist, however, had caught up the specimen box containing the insects.



“Come on! Come on! Everybody up on deck! Take your boat stations!” was the cry that Ned and Dr. Hallet heard as they emerged from the cabin.

“Have we got much time?” Ned asked.

“Not any too much!” was the grim response. “Get to your boat station and stand by for further orders—that’s the instructions.”

It was one of the junior ship’s officers who answered Ned, and the lad ventured a further question or two.

“Are we badly damaged?” he inquired. “Did we hit something, or was it another bomb?” And as he asked this he could not help glancing at Dr. Hallet who stood at his side. The scientist, however, did not seem aware of the scrutiny.

“I don’t know anything about any bombs,” was the answer. “All I heard was that they tried to get the machinery going down in the engine room. A big steam pipe burst and blew a hole in the[215] side. We’re taking in water fast, and there aren’t any pumps to get rid of it. There’s a chance to save everybody, though, if they’ll do as they’re told—get on deck and stand by to enter the boats when the word is given.”

“Have I time enough to go back and get a very valuable specimen of a field mouse I left in my cabin?” asked the doctor.

“No!” cried Ned and the officer in such perfect time and with the same explosive effect that it seemed like one voice.

“Up on deck with you!” added the young officer. “See that he obeys you!” he added to Ned, as he looked significantly at the uniform of the soldier lad. He evidently was aware of the peculiar notions of the scientist.

“That settles it!” muttered Ned. “You’ll have to come with me, Dr. Hallet. There are other field mice.”

“None like this one,” was the reply. “He was suffering from a peculiar fungus ailment and I wanted to make a special study of it when I got back home. Dear me! This is terrible! I was sure I could beat Professor Snodgrass at this game, but it seems I am fated not to.”

“I’d like to hear something about this game against our professor,” muttered Ned, “but there isn’t time now. Come on! You’re lucky to have your papers and fleas!”


As for Ned, he thought with regret of certain souvenirs he, in common with Bob and Jerry, had brought on board with them. They had been put away in a safe place, but there was no time to get them now.

And Ned had some mementoes of the Great War that he intended giving to a certain girl back in Cresville. Now, he reflected, they might soon be at the bottom of the sea. Well, “c’est la guerre!”

Up on deck it seemed to be a scene of great confusion, but, in reality, the officers, both those of the army and the ship, under Captain Munson of the Sherman, had the situation well in hand. The confusion was seeming only, for the men were being sent in squads to their respective boat stations. Sailors were seeing to it that the falls of the small craft were clear, and that life rafts were free for launching. Others were making sure that each boat or raft contained food and water.

Of course the orders were that they should always be in that prepared condition, but, like everything else human, there might have been a failure. Captain Munson, however, was trusting nothing to chance, and at this eleventh hour no risk was to be assumed lest some wretched refugees might starve or die of thirst if their boat or raft drifted away. As it was, however, all the boats[217] and other floating bits of sea apparatus were found to be well stocked.

Life preservers and cork rings were put where they could be instantly gotten at, and, this much accomplished, all those who had taken their places at the boats awaited further orders.

In spite of the fact that the war was practically over and that all German submarines had been recalled, it was felt that there was great danger on the open sea from floating mines, or perhaps a stray torpedo that might have failed to find its mark. There was more danger, of course, to a big moving ship in this respect, than to small boats whose speed would be slower, and which did not float as deeply as the drifting mines were submerged below the surface.

But, even with all that potential danger, the soldiers and sailors remained wonderfully calm and in good cheer. They stood waiting, models of discipline in every respect.

Questions flew back and forth, but no one really knew what had happened. Ned’s information was as good as any, and this seemed to be the most acceptable explanation.

Every one knew that the engine room force had been trying desperately ever since the disablement of the Sherman to get the machinery in working condition again. And it might well be that some weakened steam pipe had burst with disastrous[218] results to the transport, if not to human life below decks.

At the same time, Ned could not help thinking that the explosion—if there had been one—might have been caused by a bomb cunningly planted by some German spy, or, now that the war was over and spies were no longer needed, sympathizer. And in that connection he must needs think of Dr. Hallet.

The scientist was assigned to a boat some distance away from Ned’s station, so the lad had no further chance to talk to the queer little man and hear the explanation which was promised.

“I wonder if he really is all right, and it is only professional jealousy between him and Professor Snodgrass, or if there is something more behind it all,” mused Ned.

His reflections were interrupted by the passing along of one of the ship’s officers, and at once several questions were fired at this individual.

“Are we still taking in water?” was the foremost inquiry.

“I am glad to say that the leak has been partly stopped,” was the answer. “It is confined to one compartment, and, if the bulkheads hold, we may not have to abandon ship.”

“I hope, most sincerely, that we do not!” Ned heard the voice of Dr. Hallet exclaim. “I want to get that field mouse!”


“Good-night!” exclaimed a doughboy. “Does he want it for his cat or himself?”

There was a laugh at this, and it served, in a measure, to relieve the nervous tension.

Hope began to spring up in hearts which had begun to lose it, and with small wonder, when the series of happenings that occurred to the Sherman is considered. Nothing but ill luck seemed to have attended her since she set out.

And so they stood waiting at the boats, ready to take to the small craft at the word of command and trust themselves to the great ocean in what, by comparison with the heaving billows, were mere cockle-shells. But the hearts of most of them were stout and strong.

Night began to settle down and a little wind began to blow.

“Storm coming!” said some.

“It’ll blow the fog away,” cried others.

And then, when it was about midnight, word was passed around that there was no immediate danger, and that the soldiers might leave their boat stations. But they were told to hold themselves in readiness for another call.

The leak had been partly stopped, it was said, and the engine room force was again at work trying to get up steam, if only to operate the wireless.

“Let us hope that they do,” said Dr. Hallet,[220] who sought out Ned. “Though I would have been able to save most of my notes, there were some that I should have been forced to leave behind. And I’m glad I can come back to my field mouse,” he added, as he looked in the box in his cabin containing the tiny creature, which was alive.

“If you care to,” said Ned, “I should like to have you go on with the explanation you started when the explosion came.” He was beginning to have a different feeling toward his companion. Dr. Hallet was so much like Professor Snodgrass, that, at times, Ned had to stop and think before using the latter’s name and title.

“Yes, I should like to explain,” said the scientist. “I begin to understand how you mistrusted me, and, as you will see, it is without cause. I may sum it all up in a few words by saying that Professor Snodgrass and I, though scientific rivals, are good friends; and the only thing between us is a sort of race to see who will be the first to discover a certain disputed matter in relation to the germ destroying powers of certain fungi which we gathered in a French forest. I thought at one time that I had the professor beaten, and I managed to secure passage on this transport, thinking to be the first to reach the United States and give to the world my wonderful discovery.

“But I learned that Professor Snodgrass had likewise discovered the secret, and was also on[221] board here. It became a race between us, and I had to take precautions—or at least I thought I did—to prevent him from finding out certain minor details. That is why I had my cabin guarded and——”

“Hark!” interrupted Ned, and his feeling of resentment against his companion was fast vanishing.

“What is it?” asked the doctor, for the Motor Boy seemed to be listening intently. “What is it?”

“Our wireless!” exclaimed Ned. “It’s working again! Now they can call for help! Hurray! Our troubles are over!”



Standing on the sloping deck of the Altaire, sloping from a slight list the vessel had assumed because of a shift of the cargo, Jerry Hopkins and his fellow refugees stood for a moment looking at the strange and wonderful sight of the school of whales attacking the ship. Or, if not attacking, at least trying to ascertain by bumps of their huge heads the character of the strange creature in their midst. And as Jerry’s shout to use the bow gun rang out, there came another tremor of the vessel, caused by what seemed the hardest blow yet delivered.

“We’ve got to scare ’em off or kill some of ’em!” cried Jerry. “They may not intend any harm, but if they open some of our plates we’ll go down, sure!”

“What do you mean by the bow gun?” asked Bob.

“There’s a small gun up forward, put there to ward off submarine attacks, but it doesn’t seem to[223] have done much good,” explained Jerry quickly. “It’s mounted on a swivel, and we can depress it and aim it in almost any direction. There are some shells too. I saw them when I was looking about before you came on board. If we give the whales a shot or two I’m sure they’ll go away.”

“We’ve got to do something!” muttered Bob. “Feel that!”

Again came a tremor of the ship—not one but several, as though a number of the whales had attacked at once, acting in concert against what they may have reasoned was a common enemy.

“Yes, let’s do something!” cried Judd. “I never saw anything like this in all my life, and I know something about whales. I never saw so many at once, and though I’ve known of them sinking small whaling vessels I never knew ’em to attack a big steamer. We’ve got to do something!”

“Then come on to the bow gun!” cried Jerry, and he raised his lantern from where he had lowered it over the side. The rays were still reflected from the wet and glistening backs of the whales as they swam about, now and then one butting his head against the steel sides of the Altaire.

Professor Snodgrass looked on in fascinated silence. And when Jerry removed the lantern, thus cutting off a further view of the immense[224] creatures, the little scientist remarked with something like a sigh:

“I wish Dr. Hallet could see them.”

“Why, is he particularly interested in whales?” asked Bob.

“No, not whales particularly. But it would do him good to see these. It might be the very thing he needs!”

At the time Bob did not pay much attention to this remark. But afterward he thought it rather strange. If Dr. Hallet was not particularly interested in whales, why should Professor Snodgrass desire the other scientist to view them? And why would they do him “good”, if he had no special object in seeing them?

“I declare,” mused Bob, “the further you go into this thing the more mysterious it gets. I wonder what the real explanation of the feeling between Professor Snodgrass and Dr. Hallet is. I’ll wager we haven’t yet begun to get to the bottom of it!”

However, these thoughts came later. Just then the vital need of the moment was to deal with the whales, and this Jerry proposed to do by means of the bow gun.

Hurrying forward, carrying the lantern, while above them glowed the signal fires of distress, Bob, Jerry, and Judd came to the bow gun. It was of three-inch calibre, and capable of being[225] aimed in any direction, and also pointed, at a sharp angle, almost directly into the water at either side of the bow of the ship. It could be trained aft, too, and as it was mounted high there was considerable radius of action allowed.

“Where’s the ammunition?” cried Bob, just as another whale took a head-on bang at the ship.

“In the box near the gun,” answered Jerry, putting down his lantern. The night was calm, and a moon gave some illumination now, having emerged from behind a cloud bank, so the three could see fairly well what they were doing. Professor Snodgrass, however, was not of the least service. When Jerry set the lantern down on the deck the little scientist took a position near it, and there he began making notes, whether about the whales or some minute insect, no one inquired.

The familiarity of Bob and Jerry with weapons of war stood them in good stead now. With the help of Judd they loaded the three-inch gun and aimed it into the midst of the school of whales, which were then congregated on the port side of the bow.

“Shall I fire?” asked Jerry, as he stood in readiness.

“Let her go!” called Bob.

There was a sharp report and the shell was sent into the midst of the whales. That it did execution was disclosed when the lantern was lowered over[226] the side by means of a rope and the white, foaming water was seen to be red for a considerable area.

“They’ve sounded!” cried the sailor, giving information in this term that the whales had sunk below the surface. “I guess we’ve scared ’em off!”

But it was for a moment only. A little later there were bumpings and thumps on the other side of the craft, and the gun was again fired into the midst of the huge bodies. Once more the lantern showed red water, and then a commotion in the sea some distance away told the voyagers that the school of whales was departing. Several must have been killed and others wounded, the others being frightened off.

The bow gun was effective, for though a watch was kept the rest of the night there was no further trouble. The Altaire drifted slowly on, and when morning dawned the refugees came up on deck and looked about the horizon for a sight of some rescuing craft.

“We have the whole place to ourselves,” remarked Jerry, grimly joking as he viewed the waste of waters.

“Yes, it isn’t a bit crowded,” agreed Bob. “Well, let’s have breakfast.”

In one sense the plight of the castaways was not at all bad. They had shelter, plenty of food, the[227] weather was ideal, now that the fog had gone, and they were again clothed in their own garments which had dried out. Nor was there any great immediate danger. The period of long-continued storms had not yet come, their derelict, disabled as she was, was in fairly staunch condition, and unless some accident happened she might float for a long time.

“But we’ve got to get sail on her,” decided Jerry after a breakfast which was cooked by Bob and of which every one had an ample portion.

With the aid and advice of Judd something resembling a sail was hoisted and then the hand steering gear was connected up, after a fashion.

“Now we’re on our way!” cried Jerry, when the derelict began to move with considerable speed compared to her former progress. The wind was west, and was blowing them back toward France. But this was the best they could hope for. They could only sail directly before such breezes as might favor them. Navigation was out of the question.

So they settled down for a stay, of how long they knew not, on the derelict. Jerry had not had time to explore the craft much before the arrival of his friends, and this lack was now made up for, once the sail was set. It was found that the Altaire had sailed from New York with a general cargo consigned to various English firms. And[228] it was evident that she had been intercepted and partly looted by a German submarine. What had become of her crew and her passengers, if she carried any (and there were accommodations for a few) was problematical. But the Altaire made a good sea home for the refugees.

While Bob, Jerry, Professor Snodgrass, and Judd were thus making the best of it on the derelict and eagerly watching for some vessel that might rescue them, Ned Slade and his fellow voyagers on the Sherman were buoyed up with new hope as the word went cheeringly through the craft that the wireless was again working.

The snapping sparks of it had interrupted the talk between Ned and Dr. Hallet, and it was some time before they had a chance to renew the conversation.

For as soon as it became known that signals could again be sent out, giving the position of the disabled troopship and asking that aid be rushed, that was the only topic of moment among all on board.

“How soon will some ship come to our aid?”

Again and again the call was sent out into space, and in less than an hour there was a cheer from the vicinity of the wireless room.

“What’s that?” asked Ned of some of his soldier chums.

“They’ve received our calls!” cried a young lieutenant.[229] “Three of Uncle Sam’s warships are racing toward us at top speed. Now we’re all right!”

And the good news was true. Working night and day, often at great personal risk, the engine room force had managed to rig up a boiler, get steam to an engine, and so whirl the dynamo that furnished the current for the powerful wireless spark. The operators had done the rest.

Forth into the air had gone the mystic signals, and this time they had been heard and understood by many receivers both on shore and at sea. It did not take long to flash the news to the proper quarters, and from Brest, the very port from which the Sherman had departed, aid was rushed to her. The position was accurately given—as accurately as can be on a boundless sea—and the rest had to be left to fate.

In record-breaking time the rescuing convoy was sighted, and then joyous scenes took place on board the Sherman.

Soon after the first enthusiasm had worn off, though, the question arose as to what was the next thing to do. The war-weary soldiers wanted to get back home—to Uncle Sam’s country.

But this problem was easily solved. The war vessels had orders to take on board all the passengers and proceed with them to the United States. The Sherman would be towed back to[230] Brest for repairs, and on board her a crew would have to remain to look after the ship. Every one else, however, was transferred to one or another of the three war vessels that arrived about the same time. The baggage, too, was transferred, much to the satisfaction of the returning soldiers.

“Is there anything that can be done to see if Jerry and Bob are alive?” asked Ned of his captain, when they, together with their comrades and fellow officers, were on board the warship.

“Do you think it possible they may be alive?” the captain asked.

“Yes,” declared Ned, “improbable as it seems, I feel that Bob and Jerry, as well as Professor Snodgrass, are alive. Perhaps that missing sailor is, too. They may have been cast into the sea when the derelict crashed into us, and they may have managed to keep afloat either on some of the wreckage of the Sherman that was torn off, or on a bit of the derelict. She was smashed, too, I believe. Can’t we make a search for Jerry and the others?”

“I’ll see,” said the captain. And he used his influence to such good advantage that it was soon after announced to Ned and others that before proceeding to America a search would be made by all three warships for the missing soldiers, the professor, and the sailor.

“We’s going to try to locate the derelict, too,”[231] Ned’s captain told him. “Such craft are a terrible menace to other ships, and they are sunk wherever found. I am sorry to say no one but you seems to have much faith that we shall find your friends, but as a matter of precaution, if nothing else, a search will be made for the derelict. As she can only drift, and as Jerry and the others could only drift, in case they managed to keep afloat on some wreckage, it is possible we may find them in the vicinity of whatever vessel it was that crashed into us in the fog.”

And so the search began; a wearying and anxious search over the broad sea.



Ned Slade and Dr. Hallet were aboard one of the rescuing warships. There was a time, just before the wireless of the Sherman was reëstablished, when it seemed to Ned that he was going to learn Dr. Hallet’s secret, and when he felt that he could be on terms of friendship with the eccentric doctor—who was not a physician, but a doctor of science.

However, since the two had been transferred to the same warship there had been a complete change in Dr. Hallet. Far from seeking a chance to maintain friendly relations with Ned, the doctor avoided the Motor Boy and remained in seclusion. Nor did he send any word or give any explanation of what he had started to say as to his relations with Professor Snodgrass.

As a matter of fact, after a few glimpses of Dr. Hallet, following their transfer from the Sherman, the Motor Boy did not again see the scientist. The latter, Ned learned, was busy over[233] his notebooks and memoranda, which he had brought with him, together with his fleas and other specimens from the troopship.

“I can’t understand it,” said Ned to a soldier chum. “He was just getting friendly with me when we were in the midst of our troubles, and now, when we’re safe, he doesn’t speak to me.”

“Why don’t you go to him and ask for a showdown?” inquired Sam Harden, the lad with whom Ned was becoming chummy.

“I’ve tried to, but he won’t see me. And I can’t very well force myself on him. I don’t know any of the officers who are on board well enough to go to them and tell them all that’s happened. They might laugh at me, and Dr. Hallet might turn ugly again, as he can on occasion.”

“Do you really think he tried to damage the Sherman?” asked Harden.

“No, I can’t say that I do—now,” Ned confessed. “But he surely did act queer. And why he should hate, or pretend to hate, Professor Snodgrass is more than I can fathom.

“But there’s nothing I can do, I suppose, except wait. If we ever find Jerry, Bob, and the professor I may get an explanation. And I certainly do hope we find them!”

“Same here!” echoed his new chum. “They’re making a good search of it.”

This was true. The three warships which were[234] carrying home the troops transferred from the Sherman kept together and in a sort of line swept forward over the sea, cruising about in search of the derelict or for a possible sight of refugees drifting on wreckage. To this end searchlights were kept aglow all night, and soldiers or sailors were constantly on watch during the twenty-four hours.

Meanwhile life aboard the Altaire was far from being dangerous now. The attack of the whales had done no harm, and in the broad daylight Jerry rather wondered whether they had not acted foolishly in firing the bow gun at the creatures.

“I don’t really believe they could have rammed us hard enough to have done any damage,” he said.

“Well, it certainly felt so,” declared Bob.

“And I’m just as glad we drove them away,” said Judd.

As for Professor Snodgrass, he said little. He was too much occupied in classifying and making notes of the various forms of life he found on the bunch of seaweed he had brought on board with him.

Aside from attending now and then to the rude sail that had been hoisted, and steering the craft, which did not require much effort, as she did not move rapidly, there was nothing to do on the derelict except, as Bob said, “to get meals and eat ’em.”


Of course the distress signals were kept flying by day, and the lanterns at night gave notice to whoever might glimpse them that they were carried by a craft which needed help for those on board. And outside of seeing that these signals and lights were kept in place, there was nothing that could be done.

It was utterly impossible for the four to start the engines. The small sail was their only motive power. There was no need of using the steam pumps, for the Altaire was not leaking save in one or two compartments, and the water-tight bulkheads kept the sea from invading other parts of the craft. Even had it been necessary to get steam up for the pumps, it is doubtful if it could have been managed.

All they could do was to wait and hope, and this was wearying enough after the first week.

Each morning they began a vigil that lasted all day, and even into the night, for they knew the lights of an approaching vessel could be seen farther after dark than could the form of the ship itself during the day. But they sighted nothing.

It was more than a week after the crash which resulted in the separation of the Motor Boys when, on a wonderfully clear day, a lookout aboard the war craft containing Ned sent forth a thrilling cry from the crow’s nest.

“Derelict ahoy!” he shouted.


“Where away?”

“Dead ahead!”

And then Ned and the others, rushing to vantage points, saw the Altaire.

There she was, slowly rolling to and fro on a gentle swell, and no sooner had officers and sailors of the rescuing vessel caught sight of her than they raised a cry of:

“Some one’s on board!”

The distress signals told that.

And about the same time Jerry, Bob, the professor, and Judd, grouped at the rail, were frantically waving their hands and shouting. For they had seen the oncoming war craft, and knew that they were saved.

The weary search was over.



“What happened to you?”

“And what happened to you? Did the Sherman sink?”

It was Ned who asked the first question, Jerry who propounded the second. And then he and Ned and Bob clasped hands while about them stood a circle of cheering sailors and soldiers on board the war vessel.

A boat had been sent to bring the refugees from the Altaire, and when Jerry and his chums were safe on board and the cruiser had moved sufficiently far away to be out of danger, the derelict was blown up. Afloat she would be a constant menace to navigation, and it was impossible to salvage her.

It was following this necessary destruction of what had once been a fine vessel that Ned and Jerry questioned one another.

Then came explanations. Jerry told how he had managed to get aboard the derelict, and how[238] he had been joined by Bob, the professor, and Judd. And, in his turn, Ned described the life aboard the transport, his talk with Dr. Hallet, and their transfer to the warship.

“Where is Dr. Hallet now?” asked Jerry.

“He’s shut up in his cabin, I imagine,” answered Ned. “Somehow, he managed to get a cabin to himself. He seems to avoid me. I declare I don’t know what it all means.”

At that moment a steward approached Professor Snodgrass, who was standing in the group that included Ned, Bob and Jerry.

“Dr. Hallet wishes to see you,” the steward said to Professor Snodgrass. “He has heard of your rescue.”

“Wishes to see me!” exclaimed the little scientist. “Dear me, this is rather extraordinary! I don’t know whether to see him or not!”

“The surgeon told me to tell you, sir,” added the steward, “that Dr. Hallet is perfectly normal again. All his trouble has gone, and he is himself once more.”

“Oh, in that case of course I’ll see him!” exclaimed the professor. “It’s all right, boys!” he added to Bob and Jerry. “He must have had the necessary shock to bring back his reason. I hope it will never leave him again. I’ll go to see him at once. I am rejoiced to hear this good news!”

As the professor hurried away Ned looked curiously[239] at his two chums. Then he began to question them.

“Say, what’s it all about?” he asked. “What does the professor mean when he says Dr. Hallet has recovered his reason? Has he been crazy?” burst out Ned.

“Practically so, yes, though harmless,” said Jerry. “The professor explained everything to us while we were on the Altaire. Did you begin to suspect anything?”

“I didn’t know what to think, nor what to expect or suspect,” answered Ned. “At one time Dr. Hallet seemed about to tell me everything, and explain a lot of queer circumstances. Then something happened—I think it was when our wireless got to working—and there was too much excitement to think of anything but a rescue. Since we’ve been on this warship the doctor has avoided me. I declare I didn’t know what to think.”

“Nor did we until the professor explained,” said Jerry. “It seems we were all wrong in our conjectures, but it wasn’t exactly our fault, for the doctor’s trouble made him irresponsible.”

“Does that account for his talk against the professor in the restaurant, and why he had a guard at his cabin?” asked Ned.

“Yes,” was the answer from Bob, while Jerry said:

“I’ll tell you the yarn, Ned. All our troubles[240] are over now, I hope. We had enough of them while they lasted, and at one time it seemed as if we were all booked for Davy Jones’ locker. But here we are, and we’ll soon be back home where we can live life as it ought to be lived.”

“We’ll have our meals on time, for one thing,” declared Bob.

“And the folks will be glad to see us,” added Jerry.

“And perhaps some others than just our folks,” put in Ned, with a smile. He was thinking of girls, and, perchance, one in particular.

The story Jerry told, having had it from Professor Snodgrass, was to the effect that Dr. Hallet had once been a colleague of the little scientist with whom the Motor Boys had made so many trips. When the war broke out and Professor Snodgrass went to Europe to study the effect of battle noises on certain insects, Dr. Hallet made a like voyage to take up another branch of science. In some lines he and Professor Snodgrass were associated, working to the same end. In other lines they differed radically, and often violently, though they were always good friends and helped one another.

Dr. Hallet went too near the front toward the close of the war, and was under fire. He suffered from shell shock, which affected his mind, and among his hallucinations was one in which he[241] imagined that Professor Snodgrass was his enemy and was trying to obtain a certain scientific secret from him.

In order to effect, if possible, a cure of his friend, Professor Snodgrass, on the advice of the physicians treating Dr. Hallet, did not dispute this false idea. On the contrary he even encouraged it. The state of mind of the doctor accounted for his violent talk against the professor in the restaurant, and his queer actions led Marie, the pretty waitress, to give the queer scientist the name of “le cochon.” Of course that was not deserved.

“Did Dr. Hallet try to blow up the ship?” asked Ned.

“Of course not!” exclaimed Jerry. “That time we met him with the black box he imagined he was concealing some insects from the gaze of Professor Snodgrass, and also from us. He included us in his fear, it seems. There never was a bomb on the ship. All the accidents were due to defects in the machinery—the bursting of steam pipes and the like.”

“Yes, I’ve since heard that,” Ned admitted. “But I didn’t know whether or not Dr. Hallet might not have tried to set off a bomb.”

“Nothing like it!” laughed Jerry. “We were all wrong in thinking him that sort of man. He did act queerly, but it was because he was suffering[242] from shell shock. And he made such a fuss about the chance that Professor Snodgrass might steal some scientific secrets that Captain Munson, at the doctor’s request and on the professor’s advice, posted a guard in front of the stateroom. It was not needed, of course.”

“Well, how did it happen we saw Professor Snodgrass in there?” asked Ned.

“He went in to see if he could not quiet the doctor, who had a sort of hysterical fit,” explained Jerry. “The ship’s surgeon suggested this. Professor Snodgrass also looked over some of the doctor’s papers and examined his specimens, hoping, thereby, to get a line on something that might turn his mind into a new channel. It was then we saw him. But he did not see us. Dr. Hallet closed the door quickly.

“But nothing seemed to answer; though, after a while, the doctor himself seemed to quiet down. He requested the guards to be taken away, and this was done. Then came the crash, and what happened to him since I don’t know. At the time the whales attacked us Professor Snodgrass said he wished Dr. Hallet could see them. He thought perhaps interest in them would give him the necessary shock which would bring back his reason.”

“Well, something must have happened to him,” said Ned. “He acted almost rational with me after you and the professor were lost overboard.[243] As I said, two or three times he was on the verge of telling me something, but I can realize now that he was not normal. Then, after we were transferred to this warship, he acted strangely again.”

“But he is all right now,” said Professor Snodgrass, who came on deck again after a visit to his colleague. “His mind has cleared, and we are again united friends. He realizes what he has gone through, but he has no complete idea of how queerly he acted.”

“What brought back his mind?” asked Bob.

“I suppose the various shocks connected with the accidents to the Sherman and the search for the derelict all acted on him in a beneficial way,” replied the professor. “At any rate, after having been irrational, he is himself again, and the surgeon assures me there will be no more trouble.”

Both Dr. Hallet and Professor Snodgrass were allowed on the troopship because of exceptional services rendered the government during the war. Professor Snodgrass had captured a number of Germans, as detailed in the book preceding this. As for Dr. Hallet, he had discovered a method of combating one of the German poison gases.

Professor Snodgrass, because of the mental attitude of Dr. Hallet, had come on board the transport quietly, which accounted for the fact that the boys did not see him for some days. And the[244] professor was so engrossed with various matters that he was not aware of the presence of Ned, Bob and Jerry. Captain Munson knew something about the condition of Dr. Hallet, and also the efforts Professor Snodgrass was making to cure his friend, but he did not feel at liberty to discuss it with the Motor Boys. That is why he spoke to Ned as he did when the doctor started to make an explanation.

“But there will be nothing more to worry about,” declared the professor, concluding his explanations.

Nor was there. Dr. Hallet, though a bit dazed by what he had gone through and having very little real knowledge of his actions following the shell shock, rapidly grew to be himself again. He and Professor Snodgrass joined forces in making scientific observations while the warship bore them and the others homeward. And from the time the professor and the doctor resumed their old relations the Motor Boys saw little of them. For the two scientists were constantly catching specimens, from cockroaches to sea-leeches, and making learned notes and observations regarding them.

“And to think all our theories about the doctor being a bomber were hot air!” exclaimed Bob, as they stood on deck after the good news had been scattered that another day would see them at New York. “We certainly were barking up the wrong[245] tree! It was Marie that gave the wrong idea, in a way. But she didn’t mean to. Mighty fine girl, Marie!” and Bob sighed.

“Here! None of that!” warned Jerry. “I’ll tell Helena.”

“All right! You do, and I’ll whisper something to Mollie Horton about the French girl who tied up your sore finger!” countered the stout lad.

“Better call it a draw,” suggested Ned with a laugh.

And so, as the old proverb has it: “All’s well that ends well.”

And certainly matters ended well for the Motor Boys. The next day the warship anchored off quarantine, and in due time Jerry and his friends went ashore and were sent to a demobilization camp. There they obtained furloughs and went home to Cresville, where an enthusiastic reception awaited them.

They told of their parts in the Great War, but they liked best to relate the story of the wreck of the troopship, for it was like some wonderful romance, and the terrors of the battlefield were not involved.

“I’d like to know the story of the Altaire,” said Ned, one day. And later he and his chums heard it.

The freighter was attacked by a submarine and her few passengers and crew forced to take to[246] the small boats. Then the Germans took what they wanted in the way of supplies and were about to sink the Altaire when they saw a United States destroyer looming on the horizon. The submarine fled before being able to place any bombs, though her crew partly wrecked the engine room and destroyed the wireless plant.

The destroyer picked up the crew of the Altaire, but soon after that a storm came up, and there was no chance to salvage the vessel. It was thought that she had sunk, but, fortunately for Jerry and his three companions, she remained afloat. Thus the mystery was cleared.

“But there’s one thing I’m never going to do if we have another war,” declared Ned, as the three chums found a moment to be by themselves after a round of meeting old friends.

“What’s that?” asked Bob.

“I’m never going to be surprised at what a bug-hunting professor does,” was the answer.

“Same here!” echoed Jerry.

And so, the three young soldiers were safe at home, though they had come a perilous way to get there. And now we shall take leave—at least for a time—of Ned, Bob and Jerry.




12mo.   Illustrated.   Price per volume, $1.00, postpaid


CUPPLES & LEON COMPANY, Publishers      New York



12mo. Cloth. Illustrated. Jacket in Colors

Price per volume, $1.00, postpaid


This is a new line of stories for boys, by the author of the Boy Ranchers series. The Bob Dexter books are of the character that may be called detective stories, yet they are without the objectionable features of the impossible characters and absurd situations that mark so many of the books in that class. These stories deal with the up-to-date adventures of a normal, healthy lad who has a great desire to solve mysteries.

Send For Our Free Illustrated Catalogue




12mo. Cloth. Illustrated. Jacket in Colors

Price per volume, $1.00, postpaid


Stories of adventures in strange places, with peculiar people and queer animals.

Send For Our Free Illustrated Catalogue

CUPPLES & LEON COMPANY, Publishers      New York



12mo. Cloth. Illustrated. Jacket in Colors

Price per volume, $1.00, postpaid


Mr. Chadwick has played on the diamond and on the gridiron himself.

Send For Our Free Illustrated Catalogue

CUPPLES & LEON COMPANY, Publishers      New York



12mo. Illustrated. Price per volume, $1.00, postpaid


Send For Our Free Illustrated Catalogue

CUPPLES & LEON COMPANY, Publishers      New York



12mo. Cloth. Illustrated. Jacket in Colors

Price per volume, $1.00, postpaid


Lively stories of outdoor sports and adventure every boy will want to read.

Send For Our Free Illustrated Catalogue

CUPPLES & LEON COMPANY, Publishers      New York

Transcriber’s Notes:

A List of Illustrations has been provided for the convenience of the reader.

Punctuation and spelling inaccuracies were silently corrected.

Archaic and variable spelling has been preserved.

Variations in hyphenation and compound words have been preserved.

The author’s long dash style has been retained.

The Chapter XXX title in the Table of Contents (All’s Well) was changed to reflect the title within the contents (All’s Well—Conclusion).

End of Project Gutenberg's The Motor Boys Bound for Home, by Clarence Young


***** This file should be named 53704-h.htm or *****
This and all associated files of various formats will be found in:

Produced by Donald Cummings and the Online Distributed
Proofreading Team at

Updated editions will replace the previous one--the old editions will
be renamed.

Creating the works from print editions not protected by U.S. copyright
law means that no one owns a United States copyright in these works,
so the Foundation (and you!) can copy and distribute it in the United
States without permission and without paying copyright
royalties. Special rules, set forth in the General Terms of Use part
of this license, apply to copying and distributing Project
Gutenberg-tm electronic works to protect the PROJECT GUTENBERG-tm
concept and trademark. Project Gutenberg is a registered trademark,
and may not be used if you charge for the eBooks, unless you receive
specific permission. If you do not charge anything for copies of this
eBook, complying with the rules is very easy. You may use this eBook
for nearly any purpose such as creation of derivative works, reports,
performances and research. They may be modified and printed and given
away--you may do practically ANYTHING in the United States with eBooks
not protected by U.S. copyright law. Redistribution is subject to the
trademark license, especially commercial redistribution.



To protect the Project Gutenberg-tm mission of promoting the free
distribution of electronic works, by using or distributing this work
(or any other work associated in any way with the phrase "Project
Gutenberg"), you agree to comply with all the terms of the Full
Project Gutenberg-tm License available with this file or online at

Section 1. General Terms of Use and Redistributing Project
Gutenberg-tm electronic works

1.A. By reading or using any part of this Project Gutenberg-tm
electronic work, you indicate that you have read, understand, agree to
and accept all the terms of this license and intellectual property
(trademark/copyright) agreement. If you do not agree to abide by all
the terms of this agreement, you must cease using and return or
destroy all copies of Project Gutenberg-tm electronic works in your
possession. If you paid a fee for obtaining a copy of or access to a
Project Gutenberg-tm electronic work and you do not agree to be bound
by the terms of this agreement, you may obtain a refund from the
person or entity to whom you paid the fee as set forth in paragraph

1.B. "Project Gutenberg" is a registered trademark. It may only be
used on or associated in any way with an electronic work by people who
agree to be bound by the terms of this agreement. There are a few
things that you can do with most Project Gutenberg-tm electronic works
even without complying with the full terms of this agreement. See
paragraph 1.C below. There are a lot of things you can do with Project
Gutenberg-tm electronic works if you follow the terms of this
agreement and help preserve free future access to Project Gutenberg-tm
electronic works. See paragraph 1.E below.

1.C. The Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation ("the
Foundation" or PGLAF), owns a compilation copyright in the collection
of Project Gutenberg-tm electronic works. Nearly all the individual
works in the collection are in the public domain in the United
States. If an individual work is unprotected by copyright law in the
United States and you are located in the United States, we do not
claim a right to prevent you from copying, distributing, performing,
displaying or creating derivative works based on the work as long as
all references to Project Gutenberg are removed. Of course, we hope
that you will support the Project Gutenberg-tm mission of promoting
free access to electronic works by freely sharing Project Gutenberg-tm
works in compliance with the terms of this agreement for keeping the
Project Gutenberg-tm name associated with the work. You can easily
comply with the terms of this agreement by keeping this work in the
same format with its attached full Project Gutenberg-tm License when
you share it without charge with others.

1.D. The copyright laws of the place where you are located also govern
what you can do with this work. Copyright laws in most countries are
in a constant state of change. If you are outside the United States,
check the laws of your country in addition to the terms of this
agreement before downloading, copying, displaying, performing,
distributing or creating derivative works based on this work or any
other Project Gutenberg-tm work. The Foundation makes no
representations concerning the copyright status of any work in any
country outside the United States.

1.E. Unless you have removed all references to Project Gutenberg:

1.E.1. The following sentence, with active links to, or other
immediate access to, the full Project Gutenberg-tm License must appear
prominently whenever any copy of a Project Gutenberg-tm work (any work
on which the phrase "Project Gutenberg" appears, or with which the
phrase "Project Gutenberg" is associated) is accessed, displayed,
performed, viewed, copied or distributed:

  This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere in the United States and
  most other parts of the world at no cost and with almost no
  restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it
  under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this
  eBook or online at If you are not located in the
  United States, you'll have to check the laws of the country where you
  are located before using this ebook.

1.E.2. If an individual Project Gutenberg-tm electronic work is
derived from texts not protected by U.S. copyright law (does not
contain a notice indicating that it is posted with permission of the
copyright holder), the work can be copied and distributed to anyone in
the United States without paying any fees or charges. If you are
redistributing or providing access to a work with the phrase "Project
Gutenberg" associated with or appearing on the work, you must comply
either with the requirements of paragraphs 1.E.1 through 1.E.7 or
obtain permission for the use of the work and the Project Gutenberg-tm
trademark as set forth in paragraphs 1.E.8 or 1.E.9.

1.E.3. If an individual Project Gutenberg-tm electronic work is posted
with the permission of the copyright holder, your use and distribution
must comply with both paragraphs 1.E.1 through 1.E.7 and any
additional terms imposed by the copyright holder. Additional terms
will be linked to the Project Gutenberg-tm License for all works
posted with the permission of the copyright holder found at the
beginning of this work.

1.E.4. Do not unlink or detach or remove the full Project Gutenberg-tm
License terms from this work, or any files containing a part of this
work or any other work associated with Project Gutenberg-tm.

1.E.5. Do not copy, display, perform, distribute or redistribute this
electronic work, or any part of this electronic work, without
prominently displaying the sentence set forth in paragraph 1.E.1 with
active links or immediate access to the full terms of the Project
Gutenberg-tm License.

1.E.6. You may convert to and distribute this work in any binary,
compressed, marked up, nonproprietary or proprietary form, including
any word processing or hypertext form. However, if you provide access
to or distribute copies of a Project Gutenberg-tm work in a format
other than "Plain Vanilla ASCII" or other format used in the official
version posted on the official Project Gutenberg-tm web site
(, you must, at no additional cost, fee or expense
to the user, provide a copy, a means of exporting a copy, or a means
of obtaining a copy upon request, of the work in its original "Plain
Vanilla ASCII" or other form. Any alternate format must include the
full Project Gutenberg-tm License as specified in paragraph 1.E.1.

1.E.7. Do not charge a fee for access to, viewing, displaying,
performing, copying or distributing any Project Gutenberg-tm works
unless you comply with paragraph 1.E.8 or 1.E.9.

1.E.8. You may charge a reasonable fee for copies of or providing
access to or distributing Project Gutenberg-tm electronic works
provided that

* You pay a royalty fee of 20% of the gross profits you derive from
  the use of Project Gutenberg-tm works calculated using the method
  you already use to calculate your applicable taxes. The fee is owed
  to the owner of the Project Gutenberg-tm trademark, but he has
  agreed to donate royalties under this paragraph to the Project
  Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation. Royalty payments must be paid
  within 60 days following each date on which you prepare (or are
  legally required to prepare) your periodic tax returns. Royalty
  payments should be clearly marked as such and sent to the Project
  Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation at the address specified in
  Section 4, "Information about donations to the Project Gutenberg
  Literary Archive Foundation."

* You provide a full refund of any money paid by a user who notifies
  you in writing (or by e-mail) within 30 days of receipt that s/he
  does not agree to the terms of the full Project Gutenberg-tm
  License. You must require such a user to return or destroy all
  copies of the works possessed in a physical medium and discontinue
  all use of and all access to other copies of Project Gutenberg-tm

* You provide, in accordance with paragraph 1.F.3, a full refund of
  any money paid for a work or a replacement copy, if a defect in the
  electronic work is discovered and reported to you within 90 days of
  receipt of the work.

* You comply with all other terms of this agreement for free
  distribution of Project Gutenberg-tm works.

1.E.9. If you wish to charge a fee or distribute a Project
Gutenberg-tm electronic work or group of works on different terms than
are set forth in this agreement, you must obtain permission in writing
from both the Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation and The
Project Gutenberg Trademark LLC, the owner of the Project Gutenberg-tm
trademark. Contact the Foundation as set forth in Section 3 below.


1.F.1. Project Gutenberg volunteers and employees expend considerable
effort to identify, do copyright research on, transcribe and proofread
works not protected by U.S. copyright law in creating the Project
Gutenberg-tm collection. Despite these efforts, Project Gutenberg-tm
electronic works, and the medium on which they may be stored, may
contain "Defects," such as, but not limited to, incomplete, inaccurate
or corrupt data, transcription errors, a copyright or other
intellectual property infringement, a defective or damaged disk or
other medium, a computer virus, or computer codes that damage or
cannot be read by your equipment.

of Replacement or Refund" described in paragraph 1.F.3, the Project
Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation, the owner of the Project
Gutenberg-tm trademark, and any other party distributing a Project
Gutenberg-tm electronic work under this agreement, disclaim all
liability to you for damages, costs and expenses, including legal

defect in this electronic work within 90 days of receiving it, you can
receive a refund of the money (if any) you paid for it by sending a
written explanation to the person you received the work from. If you
received the work on a physical medium, you must return the medium
with your written explanation. The person or entity that provided you
with the defective work may elect to provide a replacement copy in
lieu of a refund. If you received the work electronically, the person
or entity providing it to you may choose to give you a second
opportunity to receive the work electronically in lieu of a refund. If
the second copy is also defective, you may demand a refund in writing
without further opportunities to fix the problem.

1.F.4. Except for the limited right of replacement or refund set forth
in paragraph 1.F.3, this work is provided to you 'AS-IS', WITH NO

1.F.5. Some states do not allow disclaimers of certain implied
warranties or the exclusion or limitation of certain types of
damages. If any disclaimer or limitation set forth in this agreement
violates the law of the state applicable to this agreement, the
agreement shall be interpreted to make the maximum disclaimer or
limitation permitted by the applicable state law. The invalidity or
unenforceability of any provision of this agreement shall not void the
remaining provisions.

1.F.6. INDEMNITY - You agree to indemnify and hold the Foundation, the
trademark owner, any agent or employee of the Foundation, anyone
providing copies of Project Gutenberg-tm electronic works in
accordance with this agreement, and any volunteers associated with the
production, promotion and distribution of Project Gutenberg-tm
electronic works, harmless from all liability, costs and expenses,
including legal fees, that arise directly or indirectly from any of
the following which you do or cause to occur: (a) distribution of this
or any Project Gutenberg-tm work, (b) alteration, modification, or
additions or deletions to any Project Gutenberg-tm work, and (c) any
Defect you cause.

Section 2. Information about the Mission of Project Gutenberg-tm

Project Gutenberg-tm is synonymous with the free distribution of
electronic works in formats readable by the widest variety of
computers including obsolete, old, middle-aged and new computers. It
exists because of the efforts of hundreds of volunteers and donations
from people in all walks of life.

Volunteers and financial support to provide volunteers with the
assistance they need are critical to reaching Project Gutenberg-tm's
goals and ensuring that the Project Gutenberg-tm collection will
remain freely available for generations to come. In 2001, the Project
Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation was created to provide a secure
and permanent future for Project Gutenberg-tm and future
generations. To learn more about the Project Gutenberg Literary
Archive Foundation and how your efforts and donations can help, see
Sections 3 and 4 and the Foundation information page at

Section 3. Information about the Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation

The Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation is a non profit
501(c)(3) educational corporation organized under the laws of the
state of Mississippi and granted tax exempt status by the Internal
Revenue Service. The Foundation's EIN or federal tax identification
number is 64-6221541. Contributions to the Project Gutenberg Literary
Archive Foundation are tax deductible to the full extent permitted by
U.S. federal laws and your state's laws.

The Foundation's principal office is in Fairbanks, Alaska, with the
mailing address: PO Box 750175, Fairbanks, AK 99775, but its
volunteers and employees are scattered throughout numerous
locations. Its business office is located at 809 North 1500 West, Salt
Lake City, UT 84116, (801) 596-1887. Email contact links and up to
date contact information can be found at the Foundation's web site and
official page at

For additional contact information:

    Dr. Gregory B. Newby
    Chief Executive and Director

Section 4. Information about Donations to the Project Gutenberg
Literary Archive Foundation

Project Gutenberg-tm depends upon and cannot survive without wide
spread public support and donations to carry out its mission of
increasing the number of public domain and licensed works that can be
freely distributed in machine readable form accessible by the widest
array of equipment including outdated equipment. Many small donations
($1 to $5,000) are particularly important to maintaining tax exempt
status with the IRS.

The Foundation is committed to complying with the laws regulating
charities and charitable donations in all 50 states of the United
States. Compliance requirements are not uniform and it takes a
considerable effort, much paperwork and many fees to meet and keep up
with these requirements. We do not solicit donations in locations
where we have not received written confirmation of compliance. To SEND
DONATIONS or determine the status of compliance for any particular
state visit

While we cannot and do not solicit contributions from states where we
have not met the solicitation requirements, we know of no prohibition
against accepting unsolicited donations from donors in such states who
approach us with offers to donate.

International donations are gratefully accepted, but we cannot make
any statements concerning tax treatment of donations received from
outside the United States. U.S. laws alone swamp our small staff.

Please check the Project Gutenberg Web pages for current donation
methods and addresses. Donations are accepted in a number of other
ways including checks, online payments and credit card donations. To
donate, please visit:

Section 5. General Information About Project Gutenberg-tm electronic works.

Professor Michael S. Hart was the originator of the Project
Gutenberg-tm concept of a library of electronic works that could be
freely shared with anyone. For forty years, he produced and
distributed Project Gutenberg-tm eBooks with only a loose network of
volunteer support.

Project Gutenberg-tm eBooks are often created from several printed
editions, all of which are confirmed as not protected by copyright in
the U.S. unless a copyright notice is included. Thus, we do not
necessarily keep eBooks in compliance with any particular paper

Most people start at our Web site which has the main PG search

This Web site includes information about Project Gutenberg-tm,
including how to make donations to the Project Gutenberg Literary
Archive Foundation, how to help produce our new eBooks, and how to
subscribe to our email newsletter to hear about new eBooks.