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THE MEN WHO CHANGED SHIPS Between the lighter-load of burning beeves that came bumping down along their line at noon, a salvo of bombs slapped across them at one o’clock from a raiding Bulgar air squadron, a violent Levantine squall which all but broke them loose from their moorings at sundown, and a signal to raise steam for full speed with all dispatch at midnight, it had been a rather exciting twelve hours for the destroyers of the First Division of the ——th Flotilla, and now, when at dawn the expected order to proceed to sea was received, it began to look as though there might be still further excitement in pickle down beyond the horizontal blur where the receding wall of the paling purple night-mist was uncovering the Gulf’s hard, flat floor of polished indigo. “It’s probably the same old thing,” said the captain of the Spark, repressing a yawn after he had given the quartermaster his course to enter the labyrinthine passage where puffing trawlers were towing back the gates of the buoyed barrages, “a U-boat or two making a bluff at attacking a convoy. They’ve been sinking a good deal more than we can afford to lose; last week they got an oiler and another ship with the whole summer’s supply of mosquito-netting aboard—but that was off the south peninsula of Greece or up Malta way. Here they haven’t more than ‘demonstrated’ about the mouth of the Gulf for two or three months. They know jolly well that if they once come inside, no matter if they do sink a ship or two, that it’s a hundred to one—between sea-planes, ‘blimps,’ P.B.s, and destroyers—against their ever getting out again. There’s just a chance that they may try it this time, though, for they must know how terribly short the whole Salonika force is of petrol, and what a real mess things will be left in if they can pot even one of the two or three oilers in this convoy. You’ll see a merry chase with a kill at the end of it if they do, I can promise you, for the convoy is beyond the neck of the bag even now, and if a single Fritz has come in after them, the string will be pulled and the rest of the game will be played out here in the ‘bull-ring.’” The captain had just started telling me how the game was played, when the W.T. [A] room called him on the voice-pipe to say that one of the ships of the convoy had just been torpedoed and was about to sink, and shortly afterwards a radio was received from the C.-in-C. ordering the flotilla to proceed to hunt the submarine responsible for the trouble. Then the officer commanding the division leader flashed his orders by “visual” to the several units of the flotilla, and presently these were spreading fan-wise to sweep southward toward where, sixty to a hundred miles away, numerous drifters would be dropping mile after mile of light nets across the straits leading out to the open Mediterranean. Northeastward, where the rising sun was beginning to prick into vivid whiteness the tents of the great hospital areas, several sea-planes were circling upwards; and southeastward, above the dry brown hills of the Cassandra peninsula, the silver bag of an air-ship floated across the sky like a soaring tumble bug. The hounds of the sea and air had begun to stalk their quarry. [A] Wireless Telegraph “It’s a biggish sort of a place to hunt over,” said the captain, as the Spark stood away on a course that formed the outside left rib of the flotilla’s “fan,” and took her in to skirt the rocky coast of Cassandra; “and there’s so many in the hunt that the chances are all in favour of some other fellow getting the brush instead of you. And unless we have the luck to do some of the flushing ourselves, I won’t promise you that the whole show won’t prove no end of a bore; and even if we do scare him up—well, there are a good many more exciting things than dropping ‘ash-cans’ on a frightened Fritzie. It won’t be a circumstance, for instance, to that rough house we ran into at the ‘White Tower’ last night when that boxful of French ‘blue-devils’ wouldn’t stop singing ‘Madelon’ when the couchee-couchee dancer’s turn began, and her friend, the Russian colonel in the next box, started to dissolve the Entente by

Detalhes do Produto

    • Ano de Edição: 2015
    • Ano:  2015
    • País de Produção: Canada
    • Código de Barras:  2000749914932
    • ISBN:  9781465545824

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