How the Canadian Armada Was Saved
NOT since the famous year of the Tercentenary had the Chateau Frontenac at Quebec been crowded by such a brilliant assemblage of visitors. The expeditionary force which Canada had decided to send to Europe to help the British Empire in the war against Germany was assembling at the Valcartier Camp, and the event had drawn to the quaint old city distinguished and fashionable people from all over the Dominion, as well as many from the neighboring republic.
“1 would not accept Lord Kitchener's advice I_)
that ample protection JD V VJ,
had heen afforded for the transports, und demanded to know what
guns they curried, and so on. As a result of this continued hammering away the people of England came to know that Herman submarines were hovering in the English Channel.”— Canadian Press Association report of a speech by Major-Oeneral Hughes, Minister of Militia for Cunada, at a meeting in London, Ont,, on Korcmber 25, 1914.
“The boast that it needed cable messages from Canada to wake up Lord Kitchener immediately threatened to corer with ridicule not only the Minister of Militia, but the whole Horden Government as well. And Major-Oeneral Hughes then repudiated the speech. To the Toronto reporters who met him on his return from London, Major-General Hughes said : ‘1 never said anything about submarines. I cannot say anything about it. Why go into the past!’”— The Evening Telegram, Toronto, November 30, 1914.
It was early evening, and automobile after automobile arrived at the hotel, bringing officers looking for social relaxation after the hard labors of the day at the camp. The gieat hall of the hotel was crowded with officers and civilians, and the air vibrated with the hum of conversation. Quite suddenly this hum ceased, and immediately afterwards there was a stir of excitement.
An officer in the khaki uniform of a colonel had come in. He was a big, robust man, with a commanding air and bold eyes which might give the idea of intolerance were it not that they also conveyed a hint of kindliness and humor.
At that time a lady was standing at the counter, about to enter her name in the hotel register. The clerk had just handed her the pen, when there came that momentary hush, followed by a greater buzz of conversation, in which she could distinguish such sentences as, “Yes, that’s him.” “Looks as though he likes the job, doesn’t he?” “I’ll wager he’ll get a title when this war is over.” “They say he’s kicking like a steer because up at Ottawa they won’t hear about him going to the war himself.”
The lady paused with the pen in her
hand and turned to jö T IT Y look. At that mo-
^ ^ ^ ment the newcomer
was but a dozen feet from her, talking to a group of friends. “Pardon me, but who is the officer?” she asked the clerk.
“That is Colonel Hughes, madam.”
“The—the Minister of Militia?” she asked. There was an almost exaggerated carelessness in her voice.
She wrote in the register the name, “Madame de Tourneauville, New York.”
An hour later when Colonel Hughes entered the dining-room, he was nettled to see that his usual place at the table was occupied by another officer. The head waiter immediately fussed up to him.
“Oh, Colonel, I am sorry. Somebody said you were not coming in from camp to-night. But I have another seat that is not occupied.”
He led him across the room to a seat by the window, through which the lights of the shipping far out'on the St. Lawrence could be seen. There were three people at the table—a gentleman and his wife and Madame de Tourneauville. The colonel took the empty seat opposite the last-named. As he did so the waiter glanced at the lady as though expecting a sign either of recognition or approval for conducting the colonel to the table.
C. LINTERN SIBLEY
But Madame de Tourneauville chose to proceed indifferently with her meal, without even looking up.
The colonel, his mind filled with the thousand-and-one problems arising from the organization of the great armada that he had been called upon to send from the New World to the Old, never even glanced at his table companions. But as the dinner proceeded, he became aware that the lady who sat opposite was quietly studying him. Presently he found himself studying her—speculating as to who she was, what circles she moved in, and to what country she belonged.
He was impressed with the refinement of her bearing and the keen intelligence of her eyes. But most of all he was impressed by the uncommon quality of her beauty. She was possibly thirty years old, he told himself—no more. Of that he was certain; perhaps she was much less—who could tell? The striking pallor of Jier face was its most striking quality, seeming a tint rather than a shade. Blending into a delicate brownness at the throat, it bespoke healthy vitality. The heavy coils of her hair were black, ana her eyes, serious and vaguely tragic as they were, yet glowed with warmth and animation.
She was slender but every move was a study in grace.
The curves of her figure all low, yet there was no suggestion of angularity.
Indeed, her figure suggested strength and suppleness beyond the ordinary.
The colonel smiled grimly to himself as he thought of the power which this fascinating woman would possess with many men.
Here, he told himself, was a woman who could move with distinction in any society, and twist most men around her little finger.
And with that he dismissed her from his mind and reverted to the consideration of military problems.
But presently, when the others had left the table, his attention was sharply brought back to the lady.
“Colonel Hughes!” she said.
“I have something important to say to you.”
Her voice was of softer quality than is usual on this side of the Atlantic, and tohugh every accent was perfect, it suggested, as did her face, foreign associations.
“To me, madam?” The colonel was obviously surprised, and not altogether at ease.
“Yes. Will you meet me alone?”
The colonel glanced furtively around the now halfempty dining-room. Then he looked at his companion.
Undeniably the woman had breeding as well as beauty. And there was a quiet seriousness in her face that disarmed suspicion.
The colonel paused, nevertheless, before replying. Then: “But madam!” he began courteously.
“I know what you would say,” she broke in. “You never saw me before. You do not even know my nameBut this is a matter of life and death. It concerns you most intimately. If you value—”
She broke off suddenly, as one of the diners passed by the table.
“—Oh, Colonel, how romantic you are! Of course it is a beautiful view”—she was looking out at the gleaming lights on the river, and at the violet darkness of night beyond them—“but that loneliness,
stretching away, as you say, to the North Pole, appals me!”
The colonel looked, at her amazed. His eyes asked as plainly as words, “Is this woman crazy?”
She threw a significant glance at the back of the diner who had just passed, and continued without a word of explanation. The incident, with its suggestion of confidence, its tacit implication that the
colonel would understand, established a more intimate atmosphere.
“-If you value your country’s wel-
fare, you must hear what I have to say. So I want you to meet me alone. Be on the Terrace, at the far end, under the Citadel, at nine o’clock. And be alone. Remember, it is a matter of life and death, and there is not another moment to be lost”
She rose and bowed, leaving the Colonel gazing after her in wonderment and some of the other men in the dining room in frank admiration.
Now, as we have said, the Colonel is a cabinet minister, which bespeaks years of discretion. He is also a man of the world, and has seen much of men and things. He knew that charming ladies who display sudden interest in Cabinet Ministers are more often than not the diplomatic representatives of clever and designing men. The wise course in this instance would appear to be to smile a knowing smile and let it go at that.
But other elements entered into the situation. The Colonel, for all his bluff and breezy manner, and his habit of speaking his mind without fear or favor, is a far more subtle student of human nature than people give him credit for. Furthermore, there was an undercurrent of tearful tremulousness, of passionate sincerity, in the remarks of his table companion that could not have escaped him. He munched an olive reflectively. “Supposing—” he began. The sentence never finished itself in his mind. “Oh, hang it, I’ll see her,” he said to himself, and rose from the table. The swift decision was characteristic.
At nine o’clock he was leaning over the railing on the Terrace watching the ferry-boat far below crawling crabwise across the river, the reflections of its lights flickering in silvery streamers on the water.
There was a light step beside him. The lady was at his elbow. He raised his hat.
“Good evening,” he said.
She bowed her head slightly in acknowledgement. “Shall we walk along the Terrace?” she asked.
The rocky heights of this famous citadel city are steeped in the romance of history. There, Indian and white man, Frenchman and Englishman, have lived and loved, intrigued and fought. Schemes that decided the history of continent and dynasty have been brought to fruition here. Yet never was a stranger story of plot for life and Empire unfolded
upon these historic heights than the one now told to the half-incredulous ear of Colonel Hughes.
“If anyone comes near us,” she said, “talk conventionalities about the scenery, about the sights of Quebec, about the old monasteries—anything.”
“Very well, madam, “said the Colonel. “But tell me who are you and what you want.”
“I am registered at the hotel as Madame de Tourneauville, of New York,” she said. “That must be sufficient for you as to name. As to my business, I belong to the Intelligence Department of the British Government.”
The Colonel looked at her shrewdly, and not without suspicion.
“Of course,” he said, “you can produce your credentials?”
“No, sir, I cannot,” she x-eplied, “My work is of too serious and too dangerous a character for me to carry any identification of that kind with me. We have a saying in the Intelligence Department that to have anything in our private possession which would afford a clue to our real identity is to give a hostage to fate.” “Well, what do you want?” asked the Colonel, coldly. “Do you want me to give you some information?”
“Ño. I have some to give you”
She turned her head abruptly, as though afraid of being followed, then drew herself closer to him and linked her arm in his. They were near the hotel now, but a cold wind was blowing off the river, and they were the only ones promenading.
“Let us take another turn back towards the Citadel,” she said.
At that moment they passed under the glare of a lamp, and the Colonel profited by it to look searchingly into the woman’s face.
“Very well, madam,” he replied. “But this certainly is a very strange proceeding. I must say I don’t see why, if you have any information to give, you do not give it in the usual way, instead of insisting on this mysterious promenading. I don’t want you to think me rude, but
“Yes, yes, I know!”
She lowered her voice, and spoke almost in a whisper.
“Colonel Hughes, unless you prove yourself equal to the occasion, not a single soldier of the 33,000 you are sending to England will ever reach there!”
“What do you mean, madam?”
He spoke sharply, almost threateningly, and stood stock still, looking at her.
“Don’t act like that,” she replied, “I fear that we are being watched. That is why I have come to you with my information in this mysterious way—to you, instead of to my superior in New York. The cleverest men in the German Secret Service are at work in the States. And some of the cleverest men—and women— in the British Intelligence Department are following up every German movement there. Now I was detailed to watch German activity in connection with Canada, and I have discovered what they mean to do. Also I have discovered that
it is impossible for me even to approach my superior in New York without being suspected—and to be suspected is to be lost as a useful servant of the Intelligence Department. Of course, you might ask, why don’t I cable t o headquarters in England? But I can’t cable in code from, the States. You see,
Colonel, their espionage system is so complete that in really important matters like the one I come to you about it is absolutely necessary that there shall be no intermediaries in conveying information. Therefore, instead of going to my chief I come to you direct, because the information concerns you more than anybody else.”
“I see,” replied the Colonel, reflectively. “Well, tell me what you have to say,”
They proceeded along the Terrace, two dim figures in the shadowy night—dim figures with the fate of many thousands resting on their words.
“There is a plot to blow up every one of your transports before they get out of the Gulf. Somewhere in the wild country to the north of the St. Lawrence a Zeppelin has been built. You may not be aware that a Zeppelin can carry twenty tons of bombs, in addition to its crew— twenty tons! That means that each Zeppelin has a bomb magazine containing 500 bombs, and can discharge twelve from each side simultaneously by means of a mechanism that gives absolute accuracy of aim. You are figuring on fortythree ships as transports for your troops-”
“How do you know what I am figuring on?” asked the Colonel, sharply.
“Never mind how I know,” replied the lady. “I was saying you are figuring on forty-three ships as transports. A Zeppelin would carry ten bombs for every one of these ships—ten bombs, each one of which is as destructive as the torpedoes which have blown up ships off the British coast. Once let this Zeppelin steal over your precious assembly of unarmored transports at night, and not one will remain afloat by daylight!”
“Nonsense!” exclaimed the Colonel. “What wild rubbish are you talking? Are you one of those silly spiritualistic people who has been seeing visions?”
“It is you who are talking nonsense, Colonel,” she remarked quietly. “If you don’t want to hear any more, then at any rate the blame is on your shoulders for what will happen. I have warned you!”
“Say, look here!” remarked the Colonel. “Tell me what you want to get out of me and have done with it. You
want me to hand you over some money, or you want me to do a favor to yourself, or to some relative. What is it?” He spoke roughly.
“Colonel,” she x-eplied, “I am disappointed in you. You have a finely intelligent face. Your eyes look as though they can see into one’s soul. Yet you are allowing the experiences of your office to blunt your preceptions. You are allowing a callous cynicism to draw a veil between you and the world. You don’t believe I am in the employ of the British Government, and you don’t believe, even if I were, that such a plot could be hatched, or that I could get information o f it!”
“And if I don’t believe,” said the Colonel, “you will agree, I think that I am justified. If what you say is true, and if you are what you say you are, why do you come to me in this mysterious fashion, without anything to establish your identity, and why do you want me to wander up and down the Terrace with you at night while you tell your story?” “As to the first part of your question,” returned the lady, “it is quite evident you don’t understand the thoroughgoing nature of the German spy system, while as to the last part of the question, I ask you to listen to me out here because I can’t tx-ust four walls—I’m too experienced!” Immediately her fingers tightened twice on the Colonel’s arm, as though in warning, and she burst into low laughter.
“Oh, Colonel,” she remarked raising her voice. “You flatter me—really you do! But I’d like awfully well to go over the camp with you, as you say—if it wouldn’t be too much trouble?”
“Not at all—not at all,” replied the Colonel, taking the cue. “It really is the sight of a lifetime. You’ll see what a splendid body of men they are. I’d like you to meet some of the offiecrs—fine fellows—the very pick of the brains and manhood of Canada.”
Thus he went on. And he was not surprised presently when a man passed them quietly, wearing rubbers. He felt the pressure of her hand on his arm again as he passed. So they were being shadowed, then as she had said !
When the silent figure got beyond earshot! “He’s shadowing you, not me,” she said, “He doesn’t know me.”
The Colonel responded more seriously: “Tell me what you know of the plot you speak of.”
“There is very little more that I can tell you, except to say that I have the most absolute information of its truth.
You must not ask me how I know. Just believe that I do know.”
“But tell me about this Zeppelin. Where is it?”
“I don’t know, except that it is in wild, uninhabited, mountainous country, within two hundred miles of Quebec, to the north. This I do know—that all the parts, and even the men to put them together, have been carried there by aeroplanes from the United States. Also that everything is now in readiness, and that every move at the Valcartier camp is immediately known to those who want to know. You have had reports from sentries all along the St. Lawrence of aeroplanes flying over at night, have you not?”
“There is a regular aeroplane patrol of the St. Lawrence—and it is not a Canadian patrol. Furthermore, the Zeppelin I speak of has already covered the St. Lawrence from Quebec to the sea on several occasions, flying, of course by night,with lights out.”
“Madam, this is astounding!” The Colonel was stirred out of himself.
“Aeroplanes,” continued the lady, “will be scouts for the Zeppelin when the transports begin to sail. And as you don’t believe me and won’t act on what I am saying, not one of those transports will ever get out of the Gulf!”
“Rubbish!” exclaimed the Colonel, like a man arguing against himself. “I don’t believe in these Zeppelins. The moment a Zeppelin came near enough to drop a bomb it would be smashed to smithereens by our guns. We will have a powerful naval escort.”
“Yes, and I can name you every one of the ships, and tell you, moreover, what you yourself don’t know about them, namely, that not one of them carries an aircraft gun! Good-bye. You had better smoke a cigar and think it over.”
They were near the hotel, and she turned abruptly from him, to go in.
“One moment, madam,” said the Colonel, putting out his arm to detain her. “You’ve spun a yarn that sounds like hot air—I beg your pardon—that sounds incredible. That yarn, however, is only a prelude to a suggestion. What is it that you mean to suggest I should do?” “I’m not the Minister of Militia, just placed in possession of one of the treasured secrets of the enemy,” she replied. There was a touch of scorn in her voice. She looked at him impatiently for a moment. Then she leaned towards him and whispered: “The Princess Patricias, are boarding the Megantic at Montreal tonight. Pd disembark them at Quebec, and let the papers know about it, or the ship will be sunk anyway—never heard of again, after she passes Father Point. And I’d get half a dozen aeroplanes to scour the back country. Not a man should sail from Canada till I had discovered that Zeppelin and destroyed it. But perhaps I’ve over-estimated my man!”
They were standing close to the statue of the great Champlain. She pointed up at the statue.
“There was a man of the heroic mould,’’ she said, “a man equal to his great op-
portunities. But he never had a tithe of the responsibility that is resting to-night on you.”
And with that parting shot she was gone.
It is a matter of history that when the Megantic arrived at Quebec from Montreal the next day, on her way to England, the men of the Princess Patricia Regiment were ordered to disembark at Levis, and the ship to sail without them. It is a matter of history, because you can read it in the newspapers of that date, that there was much grumbling and discontent among the men ; but no official explanation was ever given. It is a matter of history that the whole of the Canadian Expeditionary Force were kept kicking their heels week after week at Valcartier Camp, until it seemed that they would never sail.
What has not been placed on public record is that Colonel Hughes did cable in code to Lord Kitchener inquiring if the warships to convoy the transports were armed with aircraft guns, and insisting that they should be. Colonel Hughes, it will be seen, only told part of the story when he said at London, Ont.: “I would not accept Lord Kitchener’s advice that ample protection had been provided for the transports. . . . I demanded to know what guns they carried.”
But that is not all. For weeks after the Princess Pats were disembarked at Levis aeroplanes in the service of the Canadian Government were scouring the hinterland of Quebec searching for a Zeppelin hangar. At one time there were as many as ten engaged in the work. Week after week passed, and not a clue could be got. Discontent began to spread among the troops at Quebec. The whole camp began to seethe with mutinous talk. The press, observing a strict censorship of news, kept talk of it from publication. But the reporters repeated strange rumors. The public began to murmur, and to say some pointed things. One Winnipeg newspaper editor who reflected some of the talk of his time in his editorials, and thus trod on far more dangerous ground than he realized, was promptly flung into jail. Even members of the Dominion Cabinet showed signs of revolt, for not a man except the Premier, Sir Robert Borden, knew what was troubling Colonel Sam.
At last things came to such a pass that Premier Borden left the Capital, and went down to Quebec.
“We can’t keep things in hand another week,” he said to Colonel Sam. “Either those troops will have to sail, or there will be open revolt in Canada. 'The public is mad—fighting mad. And after all, you’ve got no proof! Supposing”— he looked fixedly at Colonel Sam from under heavy eyebrows, and his voice, heavy and ponderous, took on an added gravity—“supposing that woman was paid by Germany to come and tell you that story, just to. delay the departure of the troops, or to frighten you and the rest of us! Have you thought of that?”
“It was the first thing that entered my mind,” said the Colonel. “But, you know, I believe there’s a sixth sense in man. I
believe in intuition—and I had an intuition that she was telling the truth.” “But have you the slightest inkling of of a proof?” asked the Premier.
“Yes,” said Colonel Sam. “Our aviators have already established beyond all doubt that aeroplanes are passing every night between the United States and some point north of Quebec! Do you realize what that means? There’s not a soul living in that country. It is nothing but forests and mountains and lakes.”
“Can’t our men follow them?”
“They have tried to, but you can’t follow an aeroplane in the dark, when it carries no light.”
The Premier pondered for a few moments.
“You’ve got all your transports here?”
“And the convoy of warships is waiting?”
“Don’t you think if you were to begin to embark the men and move the ships off one at a time down the river to some rendezvous, one at least of the enemy’s aeroplanes would be keeping track of that rendezvous by day?”
“Yes, I imagine so.”
“Could you keep, say, three aeroplanes near the rendezvous waiting for that scout, and, when he arrives, send them after him to shoot him down?” “Yes, but what good would that do?” “The dead man would have maps on him, one of which would show the route to the Zeppelin hangar,” said the Premier.
“You’re right he would!” exclaimed the Colonel, springing up excitedly. “He’d be bound to! Nobody could find his way over several hundred miles of the Laurentians without a map. I’ll try it! I've got some of the most reckless devils that ever flew for the job.”
A breath of relief went up in Canada the next day at the news that the men had begun to embark. Some people wondered why, in spite of the warnings of the newspapers, the news that at last the men were off was published in the papers. As the ships were loaded they moved off, one by one, to Gaspe Bay, the rendezvous. The men on board were puzzled at the fact that in the crow’s nest of every ship there were two men on watch—one scanning the sea, the other the sky. They made fun of this anxious watch. But one day they saw that it might not be as overcareful as it looked. Far away in the sky the faint whirling of an aeroplane motor could be heard. The men in the crow’s nests pointed it out, a speck on the horizon up the river. Rapidly it grew in size and distinctness until it was right overhead, wheeling slowly over the ships in the bay.
Then from half a dozen different places they saw aeroplanes rising up towards the intruder. From one of them there went out a faint puff of smoke, then another and another. It seemed a minute afterwards before the crack, crack of rifle fire was heard.
“My God ! That’s an aeroplane battle.” exclaimed the men on the boats. .
Continued on Page 108.
How the Canadian Armada Was Saved
Continued from Page 8.
Almost immediately after the first shots they saw the intruder swerve away to the north, travelling at terrific speed. He was headed off by another aeroplane, spitting bullets at him. Then he tried to soar above his enemies, but they spread about him, and climbed even as he climbed. Slowly they drifted away over the land, still struggling for the upper air. Smaller and smaller they became until they were only specks in the sky. Then they faded from sight altogether.
“Just a practice flight, I guess,” said one of the men who had watched them. And that was the general opinion on board.
It was after dark that night when a man entered the lines at Valcartier Camp, and was escorted by armed guard to the tent occupied by the Minister of Militia.
He did not wait outside, but rushed in, at the imminent danger of being bayoneted by the indignant sentry.
“It’s all right,” said the Colonel, pushing the sentry out, as soon as he saw his visitor.
“We’ve got him at last, Colonel!” exclaimed the latter. “Hit him somewhere with a bullet—God only knows where, for he was smashed to a jelly by the fall. There’s his map.”
He spread out a topographical chart upon the table. “There’s Quebec, and there’s the Zeppelin hangar”—he pointed to a cross. If I figure out the scale right, it’s 150 miles north-east of Quebec.”
Ten bomb-carrying aeroplanes started out the next day to find and destroy the Zeppelin in its hangar. The aviator on each carried a’photographic copy of the
map found on the dead aviator. They had no difficulty in following the route. In little over three hours they located the hangar. There was no attempt at disguise about it. It had evidently been considered too far off the beaten track for that. It was situated in the middle of a clearing beside a lake. A dozen log huts had been built around it.
The ten raiding aeroplanes were riding the air in a long, wedge-shaped flock, like the flight of wild geese. Each was half a mile or more behind the other. The leader, when the hangar was sighted, hesitated not a moment, but began to swoop down on it on a long slant. He passed less than a thousand feet over the hangar and dropped his bomb. It missed. The aeroplanes behind had drawn out into a long line now. On came another one and dropped his bomb—and another and another. They exploded with deafening reports. The pilots could see the little figures of men running about excitedly below. But except for the destruction of one of the huts, no harm seemed to have been done.
The aeroplanes that had passed began to return in long circling flight. Their occupants saw one of the oncoming aeroplanes swoop down till it almost touched the roof of the Zeppelin hangar, the others meanwhile swerving off to watch his flight.
In a moment a vast sheet of flame sprang up from the hangar. Then a great cloud of white smoke enveloped an area of a quarter of a mile around the shed. An appalling agony of sound shook the air, and the nearer aeroplanes were tossed about like autumn leaves. They headed away at full speed and came slowly back. When the smoke had cleared the aviator saw a vast black patch upon the site where the hangar and the little houses had been—nothing more.
Alighting the aviators found that one of their number, the man who had successfully fired the hangar—was missing. He must have been blown into a thousand atoms. The explosion had been far worse than could have been caused simply by a gas-filled Zeppelin. It was evident that not only had the Zeppelin been destroyed but that a vast quantity of bombs had been exploded. Not a tree within a quarter of a mile was standing.
Premier Sir Robert Borden and Colonel Hughes walked restlessly about the camp at Valcartier, deep in conversation. On every hand were scenes of military activity. From the butts far in the distance came the ceaseless crackle of rifle fire. On another part of the camp the artillery were deploying with heavy field guns. Near the great tented city were masses of infantry wheeling and manocvring to the hoarse shouts of their officers. But none of these things interested them. Their thoughts were with the bird-men who had left that morning on the most daring and most responsible mission ever undertaken by aviators on this side of the Atlantic—a mission that was to make wor ld history.
“Do you know,” said the Premier, “we’ve been so busy with the details that
we have not been able to see the thing in its larger aspect. But think of it as, say, Germany must have been thinking of it Think of all that great fleet of transports and their convoys, over fifty vessels in all, streaming out from the New World to help decide the fate of Empire on far-off European battlefields. Say the transports ride half a mile behind each other, with convoying warships riding half a mile away on either side. Why, there’s a procession of ships a mile wide and twenty miles long! The thing is colossal. There never was anything on the sea so vastly imposing; never such a demonstration of imperial power. Why, just think, Colonel”—and the Premier smiled at his own enthusiasm—“this thing will go reverberating down the corridors of Time, and we shall reverberate with it!”
The Colonel laughed heartily. “By Jove!” he exclaimed, “I never thought of that! By Jove, we shall!”
The Premier’s voice dropped to a lower and a graver note. “But if this strikes the imagination,” he proceeded, “think how it would strike the imagination utterly to destroy that fleet before it got out of Canadian waters! Supposing this Zeppelin had stolen out by night, dropped bombs on these transports, as I verily believe they would have, and as the Germans, by their very preparations, show that they undoubtedly intended to do, and had destroyed every one of them—supposing, as I say, the Germans had succeeded in destroying this great Armada before it had even got out of the Gulf—why it would have been by far the most terrible marine disaster in history! It would have been an accomplishment of such magnitude, and betokening such swift, far-reaching, and appalling striking power, as might well have shaken the Empire and have caused the world to stand in awe!”
Even as they were talking there was a stir in the camp. Thousands of eyes were directed at the sky, and soldiers were pointing upwards.
“There's one of the aeroplanes coming back,” said the Colonel. “See it? There it is. Far away, right over that big elm!” ^ , .<■
Side by side they stood watching the aerial messenger as it came bringing out of the clouds its great tidings for good or ill.
The aeroplane alighted gracefully as a bird not five hundred yards from where they stood, and curious soldiers crowded around it.
The aviator unstrapped himself from his seat, got out upon the ground, and pulled his goggles and headpiece off.
“Where’s Colonel Hughes?” he asked.
“Here!” said the Colonel, pushing forward to grasp his hand. “Shake hands with Sir Robert Borden!”
The aviator drew them away, out of earshot of the others.
“We’ve blown the Zeppelin and all its crew into a million fragments!” he said.
“Excuse me one moment,” exclaimed Colonel Hughes—and his action in dragging himself away from that fascinating