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The Vigilantes of the "Silver Star"
(Copyright, 13m3, by Albert Bonnk hwn.) ff.l " 'VT WAS after the Spanish fleet hid J?, I I sunk under American fire. It wi ffi-V..l before Manila surrendered. 81 x 51 transports lay anchored off ' " Cavlte, protect ingly encircled by the ships of the American fleet. Within the circle were also some merchant sailing hip dbcharglng Australian coal Into navy lighters. OutHlde the circle were anchored the foreign warahlpa Oerman, French, Japanese and English. My Idea in making thbt plain la simply to show that the situa tion out there made any other manner of procedure than that which we followed practically impassible. Oura was the only effective way. It must be remembered that the duties of consuls and port captains were but vaguely to be defined at that time. The I'nited States tranport Zealand!, of which I was a quartermaster, lay anchored In the seaward edge of the circle, within hnlllng distance of the flugship. Our regu lar four-hour sea watches were now changed to night and day duty; two quar termasters divided the day at. gangway watch, two did the same at night, while all Others of the ship's company slept. It was the third night of August. I had been lounging laslly about the decks, trying hard to keep awake, for the night was a drowsy one. At last I leaned over the gangway railing, watching the distant regu lar rows of lights of (be besieged city. Overhead hung a deep Indigo sky, sprinkled with stur dust an Ideal tropical night. So calm wan the water that the lights of the neighboring ships reflected as single fire spot, and the bl!s of the most distant gun boat of the fleet were distinctly audible striking the hour; four bells, I think It was, when the sergeant of the guard Joined me In my nocturnal contemplations. "Fine night, but blamed hot," he aaid. There was that tropical humidity in the atmosphere that kept us In continual per spiration, brought on by no physical exer tion. The sergeant's shirt waa thrown back and he breathed heavily. "You're not used to the tropics?" I ventured. "Yes, I am," he replied. "I'm a sailor like yourself. I've been six years in tropical waters. I was psld off in Philadel phia six months ago from a, llmejulcer." Buch an introduction could only find a response in me. Leaning over the rail ws yarned of ships and foreign ports and the beauties ot tropical seas. A typical soldier of fortune, I thought, as I looked at my companion's well-knit figure vaguely de fined by the gangway light. His English accent seemed Incongruous with his Ameri can uniform, but he had worn the uniforms I a half dosen armies, I soon learned. This is tiresome," he growled. "Here w are doing guard duty and the rest of am ashore, scrapping. Hear those guns biasing awuyT" The black mass of Jungle. Just abova tho city, was occasionally lit up by a flash of fire, followed by a low "br-r-r-oom." We watched the firing for some time In silence, but the cannonading was too distant to disturb the almost perfect stillness that bung over ths glassy water; it seemed like being up in some gigantic airship, with the phosphorescent flush of tlsh the lights of dtltfs miles underneath. The ships about Seemed to hover In the air with ua, a mighty fleet of phantom air craft. Suddenly the sergeant grasped my arm. "Listen," he said. A faint splash came from for'd. Looking down we saw an object in the water ap proaching In a phosphorescent glow, until finally it stopped at the foot of the gang way. The sergeant and I hurriedly descended the broad gangway ladder, lit the lowest tep we mode out a half-naked man hold ing on. but apparently too weak to pull himself out. Each of us seised a white hand, and a second later Jiad the swimmer staggering up the steps. We pulled htm tip to the deck, where he sank upon his knees between us. shaking and sputtering, nd Anally vomiting into the scuppers. "For Ood'a sake, hide me!" he gasped, and a second fit of vomiting overtook him. "I'll take htm down into the forecastle," aid the sergeant, and. calling a man from the guard room, they led him for'd. Half an hour Inter Jackson rejoined me at my post. How la her' I asked. "All right," he answered, "but pretty well pegged out. He can talk now. though. Say. we're sallormen; we can under stand his ease; there's no need for am to report. You are that Nova Scotia bark over there?" I cast my eyes to ward a big square rigged wooden ship swinging Inshore to ward Cavlte, Its tapering rigging sil houetted against the horiaon. "He swam blamed nasty Job the water's full of sharks. It's 6ilver Star a Blue Note hot box. Skipper killed a man on the trip ut. Six poor suckers In irons down the fore peak, while the two mates and the bos' a are discharging cargo for Uncle dual with a gang of eooliea. Here's this chnp brake away wants to lodge a romplum. Where? British . consul Inside the Spanish 1 lives. Where? Uacle Sam'a Slows are ftgirlac to hard to. get. In there, too, to bather their heads about six poor British lubbers who hadn't ths sense to keep off a Blue Noae. And the skipper's got a pull with the admiral. Hard lines, Jsck. but I guess you'll have to face the music out." Next day, shortly before I went on watch again, the English sergeant came for me. "Come on down the forecastle." he said, and disappeared. A few minutes later I followed. The men had knocked off, but not yet eaten or washed. The deserter sat on a cheat at the for'd end of the forecastle, ready to drop down the open scuttle into the fore peak should a strange atep come down the companion way. The men. showing traces of suppressed excitement, sat about on their chests. Be sides Jackson four men of the commissary guard were present, a corporal and three privates, who had seen the deserter when we hauled him up the gangway. The sol diers com-ealed their emotions lees effect ively than the sailors. The deserter bad been talking, I guessed. Jackson stood In the middle of the fore rastle. His bare, hairy chest was heaving, his bronaed young face flushed red about the cheekbones. His campaign hat was flung far back, exposing his thick brown hair above the forehead, while beads of tropical sweat stood out over all his face and chest and arms, bared to the elbows. "Boys," he waa saytng. In a suppressed voice a vehement whisper "we can't stand for this. I know the -. I sailed with him six years ago. Thla chap's telling no lies. I say, boys, we can't stand for this!" Jackson paused. He had the men under his touch. Sailor and soldier as he was. he brought the two elements of his audi ence together and made them one. They already looked on him as a leader. He paused as I came down. Then he swung around to the deserter in the dark corner. "Go'n." he said. "Give's the rest." "As I was sayln'," began the sailor, evi dently contlnjlng a story such as I had heard many of before, "Tim Long, he up to the mate an' sex: " 'You give me a square fight, an' it's a 'to.' " 'All right.' sex the mate, and they squares off. Tim lands the mate a heavy one on the Jaw, but Just then the mate reaches Tim one over the eye, an' Tim drops, cause, ye see, the mate had on his knuckle dusters. An' that was what he calls a square fight. "Well, that was the layout the rest of the trip. They wouldn't give us no -show. Mate shot one chap through the arm, cap'n split another chap's head open with a handspike, and one day they triced me up i.ito the main chains and fed me a pint of tar. The day we got in here all hands was sent down the laxarette to stow sail and they clapped down the hatch. Then, as we were made to come up, one at a time, we each got a welt over the head an' put in irons, down the fore peak, an' we've been there ever since. So, ye see, that's how we can't lodge no com plaint. I managed to crawl through a hawse-pipe ye see, I am pretty thin." There was a moment's silence. Jackson broke it. "Boys." he said again, "should we stand for this?" He paused a moment, then swung around to me. "Quartermaster," he said, "you're the one man we need. You've got the night gang way and you can make It all right with your .mates. You can forget to have the yawl hoisted. Unless you aay so, those six poor suckers will have to stay there. Are you with us?" He held out his hand and I could not help the thrill of admiration that came over me at the fine, young, strong face, lit up with fierce enthusiasm, and the manly voice, protesting against a form of injus tice particularly detestable to the heart of a sailor. "I am with you." I said shortly, and we grasped hands. Then one by one the four cltlxan soldiers came up and we did the same. One of them was a Justice of the peace in far away Pennsylvania. .. We two quartermasters of the night watch stood lounging by the gangway. It was near midnight. Every light aboard was extinguished orders from the admiral, for there were still two 6paniah torpedo boats unharmed up the Pasig. It was an other beautiful night, lighted only by the Stars and an occasional flash of the search lights on the warships. The chief officer had made his last round of Inspection an hour before and was now turned In. Only we two of the crew were on deck our re port had been, "All's well, sir." So it was, in our opinion. Dark figures passed us on deck, going aft, but we did not challenge. From under the stern came a faint splashing and rattle of oars, but we did not challenge. Slowly a boat was being hauUd along the side to the gang way ladder, making no noise save a faint splash against Its bow, but still we did not challenge. I removed my uniform coat and slipped softly down the ladder. A hand grasped mine and then we shoved off.' A moment later I heard our bell strike and my watch mate's voice rolled out: "Alfa wetl." Ws pulled quietly away from the steam er's side until It appeared a mere vagiie ' ahadow. Our oarlocks, muffled by wads of engine room waste, seemed only to breathe. There were eight of us In the yawl, Jack son and I In the bow, two privates and three sailors, the latter pulling and the deserter steering. He waa the first to speak In a loud whisper. , "I'm headln' for the for chains. We can Jump there and be on deck before the bos'n sees us." We glided slowly over the almost invis ible water, until presently the big shadow of the sailing ship loomed above us, bow on. "In oars." whispered Jackson, and we' glided in under the bark's bows. A mo ment later I hooked the fore rigging with the boat hook and we were fast. "Boat ahoy!" shouted a voice from on deck. Jackson and I leaped up the chain plates Into the shrouds and sprang down on deck. The rest swarmed up after us. "Who's there?" yelled a voice In front of us. "Friends," said Jackson, but the man we bad between as must have thought other wise, with two revolvers thrust under his nose. "Now you shut up," warned Jackson, "or we'll blow your top off!" We led our prisoner amidships and he went quietly enough. "Now give us the keys to tho fo'csle," commanded Jackson. "It's aft In my bunk," replied tho man, sullenly. "Come along and get It. We'll keep you company." All of us moved aft. The cabin compan ion way scuttle opened and a man appeared. "What's wrong, bos'n?" called a voice. There waa a flash and a report of a re volver and a man beside me dropped. A second later the figure In the companion way stretched its length before us on deck, unarmed. We -quickly crowded down Into the cabin. We had Just time to turn on a dark lan tern when the door to a stateroom leading off from the cabin opened and a big, burly man, partly undressed, ' leaped out among us. He, too, dropped on deck, senseless from the blow of a revolver butt. Next,' headed by the deserter, we quickly made prisoners of the second mate, cook and steward in their respective rooms, locking their doors and threatening to shoot at the least outcry. Then, the skylight being covered by a tarpaulin on the outside, we ventured to light the lamp hung from the center of the cabin. The bos'n, captain and mate we speedily bound to a bench. The mate was bleeding profusely. As he came to, he struggled fiercely with the knotted cords, but an . effective tap from a revolver butt taught him discretion. The" captain took things more calmly and made no resistance. "Now, the key," said Jackson. The bos'n was loosened enough so that he could go into his room and procure it. I took it from him. Jackson nodded that ho and the soldiers would stand guard. Accompanied by the deserter and two sailors I went for'd to the forecastle door, from which we speedily removed the pad lock. Inside all was dark, but I turned on the bull's eye. The scuttle to the fore peak was In the middle of the floor. It, too, was padlocked. One of the men found a fire axe and with a few heavy cuts re moved the lock. We puljed It off and, with the lantern open, I descended, followed by the three sailors I found myself In a crowd ot gaping, blinking men, all manucled at the wrists, some lying down, some standing, all star ing In stupid astonishment. "What's up, sir?" asked one at last. Then they recognised their escaped ship mate. Ho explained the situation In a few sentences. Such a starved looking lot of men I had never seen; 'all were thin, dirty and haggard. But there was no time to lose; I climbed the ladder again, every man following. We passed quickly through the forecastle, out on deck and aft to tho cabin. I think I shall never forget the fiendish look that came over the skipper's pale face as those six manacled men cruwded Into the cabin. He had what might be termed a handsome face, refined, white, delicate, but for all that not pleasant to look upon. His mouth twitched nervously. I had seen Just such a mouth before on a notorious gambler and desperado In the west on trial for his life. "Now," sail Jackson to the mate, "where's the key to those handcuffs? Re member, these are war times, and we came here to kill. I'd a blamed sight rather kill you than some poor innocent Spaniard." The mate hesitated a escond, then growled: "In my room. Top of the wash basin." The key was found end the men relieved of the Irons. They had chafed raw bruises about their wrists. Meanwhile, the man whom the captain had shot waa carried down from deck; ho was one of our sailors. The bullet had gone through his ear, grat ing his skull. Although he bled profusely he showed signs of returning conscious ness. From the captain's cabia we pro cured some whisky, and the wounded man was soon on his feet. 'Now, captain." said Jackson, "we're all goln to drink to your eternal damnation, and you've got to drink, too. If you don't, we'll send you there at once." "Make 'em drink some tabasco sanee, Barnes he made me do," suggested one of the crew. "So he shall!" cried Jackson, the flash of his eyes heightened by a swig from the whisky bottle, "an' you're the man to feed It to him!" . A bottle of sauce was brought from the pantry, end, grasping It firmly, the sailor applied the neck to the skipper's mouth. He struggled fiercely, but to no avail. A good dose went down, although most was spilled over his face and night shirt. "How d'ye like it?" asked the sailor, maliciously. "Don't taste good, do it? I didn't like It, neither." We were about to favor the mate In a similar manner, when one of the soldiers whom we had left to watch on deck cam tumbling down the compantonway. "Fellers," he cried, "there's a boat comin'!" It took Jackson to grasp the situation Instantly. "Off with the laxerette scuttle!" he cried. In a moment we had uncovered the hatch In the cabin floor. We quickly gagged the three prisoners with handkerchiefs and un ceremoniously hurled them down, replacing the hatch. Alt except Jackson and I crowded Into the three empty staterooms, shutting the doors. Jackson and I held a hurried consultation. Then I went on deck and he remained In the companton way. I was Just In time. "Silver Star, ahoy!" came the hall. "Hello!" I shouted. "Is all well aboard?" "All's well." The patrol launch came alongside and a man leaped aboard. He was a naval officer, I could see, by his light duck uniform. "Who are you!" he. asked. "Bos'n and night watchman," I responded. "What was that shot for a while ago?" he demanded, rather testily. "Why, I saw a .big shark alongside and took a pop at him." The officer looked about him, rather sus piciously, I thought, but asked no mora questions. Finally he volunteered: "You forgot to hoist your boat. I acknowledged the oversight. He stayed about ten minutes, even en tered Into a brief conversation about things In general, and told me that the Spaniards were soon expected to make another sortie. I feigned great interest. "Weir, good night, bos'n," he said art lut. "Don't be popping off your gun at night unless It's necessary." He dropped Into his launch, and with a few coughs it shot off toward the flagship. Jackson had heard all. "Bury, old boy," he cried, grasping my hand. "Now, let's sneak as soon's we can." Leaving our prisoners to be released by the stevedores In the morning, we all crowded Into the boat and silently nulled for the beach below Cavlte. In half an hour our keel scraped pebbles. The seven men, the crew of the Nova Scotlaman, waded ashore, Jackson and I with them. "Now, fellers," said Jackson, as we reached land, "you hit the road for Camp Dewey. Scatter among the outfits, and tha boys' II treat you well. I'm coming ashora In a few days, and I'll see you then." And they left us. We pulled cautiously back to the Zea land I a, reaching it an hour before dawn. My watchmate met us at the gangway and helped make the boat fast astern. Tha men retired at once, while I took up my post at the gangway. An hour later ' the chief officer appeared. "Well, how have things gone during dha night?" ha asked. "Good," I replied; and meant what I said. It became known next day throughout the fleet that the Nova Scotlaman had been boarded by "pirates" during the night, as the captain put it, and that his crew had decamped, but no discoveries were ever made. The naval officers had something more serious to consider than capturing runaway sailors, so the Incident soon dropped out of notice. Jackson went ashore to Join his regiment soma days later. Some of the deserters afterward Joined his command, and sev eral were killed In action. Later, during the campaigning, I met some of them. Jackson sfterward went to South Africa, where he fought against his own country men in the Boer ranks. That was the last I heard of him. Small Girl Heroine Impelling her own life for her brother's, Mabel Rittel. 11 years old, proved herself a heroine recently, when she rescued her 6-year-old brother Henry from the path of a swlffly moving Kvanaton electric car at Argyle avenue. The children bad been to a grocery store and were crostsiruj the tracks. They waited for one car to pass, and stepped directly In tha path of another. The little boy stood still. His sUier saw he was In danger of being killed and pulled him off the tracks as the fender of the car tripped her and rolled be, haraahwaly to '.he side of tha street. Chicago Inter-Oceao.