The Shark’s Cage
A Story of Submarine Chasing
W. Victor Cook
Author of “Ben Hassan’s Title Deeds," Anton of the Alps," etc.
"YOU see the idea?” said Donald
“Top-hole,” answered the
lieutenant-commander. He was a very young lieutenant commander, and his eyes sparkled with an almost boyish eagerness. “It would be a great scoop,” he said. “The only thing that bothers me is that we have to be so careful not to tread on the toes of these confounded neutrals. The
Canaries, of course, are Spanish territory.”
“The Spaniards,” said Bruce severely, “should protect their neutrality from abuse.”
“I know. All the same, if there were to be any kind of a misfire, and this beastly Boche once got his U-boat clear of this ‘Cage’ of yours, Mr. Bruce, he would send in a complaint to his embassy at Madrid and the Spanish Government would raise Cain. I wish I knew what the international law of the matter is. You see, I stand to get into a deadly row if I’m wrong.’’
The Scotsman nodded his appreciation. “The whole point of my scheme is,” he patiently explained, “that we don’t aim at fighting at all. We merely seek to kidnap the whole caboodle—ship, men, and everything. Kidnapping is only a civil offence, which anybody is entitled to commit at his own risk. On the other hand, these miserable Huns are systematically infringing Spanish neutrality by using this spot as their base. All we do is to slip into La Jaula before them, lie doggo till the right moment, and then corral the lot and cart them away to some comfortable internment camp. Why, they ought to be grateful to us for saving their lives!”
“It would be a great scoop,” the lieutenant-commander repeated dreamily.
“Nothing venture, nothing win,” quoted Bruce.
The young officer gazed thoughtfully at the two men before him. Both of them-— the gray-eyed, alert Scot, and his big, silent companion—wore the dress of Spanish peasants. The second man, a swarthly, raw-boned Catalan—“the Little Bird,” Bruce had said he was called—was much the older. His hair was grizzled, and his brown face was deeply lined, but he looked to have the strength of a horse. An ugly customer, the lieutenant-commander reflected, to have against one in a scrimmage. He had become inured to queer doings since he had taken his first submarine out of Spithead a couple of years before, but the proposition which these two men had come out in a fishingboat from Teneriffe to lay before him was as fanciful an adventure as even the lieutenant-commander could have desired. Boyish as he seemed, however, he was a pretty shrewd judge of character, and he made up his mind quickly.
.“I’ll do it, Mr. Bruce,” he said quietly. “By gad, I wish I could talk to your silent
friend here in his own lingo ! Do you say you have actually got those fifty Spanish peasant suits in your boat right here?”
“Right here, sir,” said Bruce.
“Well, that’s that,” said the lieutenantcommander. He got out a box of cigarettes and passed it. “Before we tranship them, if you won’t think it impertinent, I should just like to hear the beginnings of this business. Of course it stands to reason that a Scottish gentleman and a picturesque Spanish smuggler—I think you said that is your friend’s profession when he is at home—don’t go into partnership to do in a German submarine just on the spur of the moment. Just for the sake of the yarn, I should" be awfully obliged if you could tell me the whole thmg ab ovo, as we used to say at school.”
THE Scot slowly inhaled a mouthful of cigarette smoke and slowly blew it out again before replying. “There’s not much of a yarn in that, lieutenant, though it is true Pajarillo here and I have had some adventures together. Pajarillo means ‘Little Bird,’ you know. I don’t remember whether I mentioned that the Little Bird had a brother who was blown up in a ship which was torpedoed off Marseilles. That was really the first start of it—the ovum, if I may put it so. He took up the vendetta against all Germans from that day forth. And I was lucky enough to fall in with him. Perhaps you have heard of my firm—M'llroy, M'llroy, and M'Allister, the wine people, a good old firm, with branches at most of the Spanish wine ports. Allow me.”
Bruce produced a business card. “If ever you are wanting anything in our line, I think we could give you satisfaction,” he said with a smile. “Well, I am of military age, as you see, and of course I was for joining up when this scrap began ; but my people would not hear of it—said I could do more useful work where I was. You see, I know a good deal about the coast traffic, regular and irregular, around Spain, and my people considered I might get in touch with information from time to time which would be of use to your service in running these sea-wolves to earth, or at least in stopping their supplies. To make a long story short, they were good enough to give me pretty well carte-blanche in the matter, and I happened to tumble across El Pajarillo here. Thanks to my firm, I was enabled to stimulate his natural sentiments of hostility to his brother’s murderers with a fairly substantial financial inducement—if you take me?”
“I take you, Mr. Bruce,” said- the ■ lieutenant-commander with a grin.
“Well, that was the beginning of our adventures together, and this is one of them. We had a pretty good run in the Mediterranean, but things began to get rather hot for us there. The Little Bird fancied he was getting too unpopular among the Boche U-boat commanders, and we heard there was a chance of doing some useful business around the Canaries. So for the sake of my friend’s health we came south the other day with an old schooner, the Marta ; she’s lying in Santa Cruz just now. We had a bit of trouble on the way ; but that is another story. A couple of days after we landed, the Little Bird ran up against an old acquaintance of his in a café. The old acquaintance had had to clear out of Spain some years ago owing to a difference with the Customs on the tariff question; and after drifting about Cuba for a few years, he had settled down here in the Canaries, where, I gather, he is doing pretty well. Of course, like everybody else, they talked about the submarine campaign. The Little Bird’s friend wasn’t very pleased with the Huns, it seems, because he has a biggish interest in the banana trade, which is all anyhow on account of the pirates; but, on the other hand, he mentioned that he was making up his losses to some extent by helping to supply the brutes with necessaries at one of their rendezvous. Well, the Little Bird is pretty slim—don’t let him think I am talking about him—and after they had had a few drinks together, he seems to have got his old friend to take him on as a kind of agent to convey the stuff to this place which they call the Cage—La Jaula in the Spanish. You see, the Government regulations about neutrality make it a difficult thing to deal in that sort of trade, and the Cage is a nasty place to get at, and the Little Bird had a pretty good record as a daring smuggler at home in the old days; so I suppose his acquaintance thought he would be a handy kind of man for the job. Anyway, he took him on, and Pajarillo got through with a big consignment of stuff in AÍ style, and his friend was delighted. The Little Bird did not forget his vendetta, however, and had a good look round while he was there, and a few days later he took me up with him alone on the qt., and we made a further and more detailed inspection of the locus in quo, as the lawyers say. And now Pajarillo’s friend has booked him to take charge of the next lot of mules going up with the stuff on Sunday night for loading into the U-boat on the Monday. He will take his own crowd with him—half-a-
dozen fellows from the Marta who can be relied on to obey orders. They will deal with the two men in charge of the store and the tackle on the cliff-top. The rest we do for ourselves.”
“Won’t it be just a wee bit rough on your friend’s pal in Santa Cruz?” asked the lieutenant-commander, with a true British sense of fair-play.
The Scot smiled. “M'llroy, M'llroy, and M'Allister will see that the gentleman is not out of pocket on the transaction,” he said.
“Top-hole!” exclaimed the young officer. He patted the great Catalan on the shoulder. “Mr. Bruce, tell him he’s a brick,” he requested.
Bruce interpreted, and the brown, lined face relaxed into a grave smile. He removed his cigarette with his left hand and held out his right. “Camarada!” he said.
“True for you, old son!” replied the lieutenant-commander. “We’ll give ’em Kamerad,, if we have any luck. Now, let’s get those fancy-dresses of yours aboard, Mr. Bruce, and then your friend can go back with his boat and carry on. You are sure you can point me out the way into this Cage place from the sea?”
“I took my bearings very carefully when I was there,” answered the Scot; “and though I have never had the honor of piloting a submarine before, I have knocked about a good deal with ships of one sort or another. I think I can promise you.”
A COUPLE of afternoons later Donald Bruce was enjoying the novel, and to him weird, experience of standing with lieutenant-commander at the periscope of the submarine as it pursued its way beneath the waters of the Atlantic along the rock-bound coast of Teneriffe. The sensation reminded him of a long-ago day in his childhood, when, with a crowd of summer visitors, he had walked round the table of a camera-obscura on a seaside pier at home, watching from the darkness of the tiny room the crowd of trippers and the bathing-machines on the distant beach. Only the camera-obscura did not sway up and down with the rather sickly alternations which the Atlantic Ocean imparted to the submarine ship. He wiped the perspiration from his forehead, and wished the trip was over.
“There’s La Jaula!” he suddenly exclaimed.
The shore, perhaps two miles to starboard of them, was a line of high cliff, parched and gray-brown in the hot sun. At a point which they were nearing there was a black slit in the line of sunlit cliff, where some ancient cataclysm of this volcanic land had rent the rocky mass. The slit went only part way up the cliff, and seen from this distance and point of view had the appearance of a mere triangular crack in the face of the rock wall—a crack perhaps ten feet wide at its base, and extending some fifty feet up the cliff side.
“Man alive!” exclaimed the lieutenantcommander, “you don’t suppose I am going to put my ship at that crack! The camel that got through the needle’s eye had a cushy job compared with that! What!”
“Wait and see,” Bruce answered. “The tide is high at present. When the tide is low, even the few feet fall that the ocean tides give you here will show you all the difference. You will see that the opening broadens very much at the base. You will then be able to run right up to the cliff, dive as you enter the cleft, run along under water for a hundred yards or so at a depth of from twenty to thirty feet, and
then poke your periscope up again. You will find yourself in the Cage.”
“I say, Bruce,” said the young officer gravely, “you know what would happen if this little ship of mine hit those rocks in the tunnel?”
Bruce nodded. “I know. But you won’t hit them. If it were a man swimming, he could swim right in without diving.”
“How do you know?”
“Because I have done it, sir,” said Bruce. “The Little Bird and I swam it together, and tested the depth by diving.”
The officer stared at him. “The devil you did!” he exclaimed. “Well, you’re a cool hand, anyway. All the same, it’s a deuced rum place.”
“Inside,” the Scot continued, “it is a great irregular crater—acres of still, dark water, with precipices dropping down to it as steep as the sides of a house, on every quarter but one, and there is our ravine. My theory is that in one of the prehistoric eruptions of these islands there actually was a crater, which burst open here partly under water, and that the sea-water, getting down to the underground fires, went off in steam and blew crevices like this on all sides. However, I’m no geologist.”
“No,” the lieutenant-commander agreed. “But for a wine-merchant’s clerk, old son, you have some pretty serviceable gifts. I think we’ll lay off here till sundown, and then butt in and try our luck in the Cage.”
AT dusk, when the submarine, all but ** her periscope submerged, again approached the cliff, there was a noticeable change. The narrow slit had broadened out at the base till it resembled the mouth of a vast culvert debouching into the sea. On the water-level it was nearly a hundred yards across. Inside it was biack as the pit.
“By gum!” said the lieutenant-commander as he stood at his eye-piece, “it’s a shuddery place, Mr. Bruce! I bet that Boche skipper’s heart was in his seaboots the first time he went in there! I know mine is. Well, we’re in for it now. Here goes!”
He gave the order to submerge still deeper, and had any man been there to witness, he would have seen the periscope disappear in the swirling water at the foot of the cliff. Sunk deep under, the lieutenant-commander stood in the body of his little craft, and by the light of the electric lamps watched the second hand of his chronometer, with a tense, pale face. At last his hand moved to a lever. The vessel’s way was checked. She rose a little, and presently at the eye-piece of the periscope a dim, uncertain picture showed itself.
Bruce heaved an involuntary sigh of relief. “You must come to the surface now,” said he. “If the Little Bird has done his part we have no observers to fear.” A couple of minutes later they emerged from the conning-tower on to the wet deck, and looked about them.
npHE submarine was afloat in the midst -*• of a deep, gloomy lake, ringed round with beetling cliffs, in whose cracked and riven sides cavernous black openings showed here and there—mysterious witnesses to the terrific force of that long-ago explosion which had rent the island shore. Only at one point in the irregular circuit of the dark lake was there a tiny strip of beach, formed of broken volcanic fragments. This beach was steep-to, the water deepening immediately; but against the rocky wall behind the beach was a simple arrangement of tackle, by means of which* a gangway could be raised or lowered, to extend a few feet out over the water. At
íe present moment this gangway was own, and in the dim light, standing at the id of it with a hand on one of the guide>pes, was the tall figure of El Paj arillo, noking a cigarette with philosophic calm. The lieutenant-commander rubbed his mds with satisfaction. “Mr. Bruce, that irtner of yours is a daisy. I take off my it to him,“ he said.
j The Scot glanced up the face of the cliff pove the gangway tackle. “Yes, it’s all ght,” said he: “there’s the signal—the
panish flag hung out instead of the un.”
Three hundred feet up the dark rock, a t of bunting, striped with the yellow and id, hung against the fading daylight. “The store-hut is just there,” said ruce, “and there is a tackle at the top, i lower the stuff by. It doesn t look far, at it’s the better part of half a mile to et there. I will show you where to take our ship so that she won’t be seen, and ïen we will come back and get to work.
THE submarine went ahead slowly to-.
wards the landward borders of the. Cage, passing round an angle of rock which completely hid her from the entrance and the landing-stage. She came, to one of the fissures in the cliff side, large, enough to take her in complete concealment even on the surface of the water. “How will this do?” Bruce asked. “Top-hole!” answered the officer. “I’ll send my second round here with her when we have gone ashore. Now for the beach.
and those fancydress costumes of yours!”
With twenty men of the submarine’s crew, garbed like themselves as Spanish peasants, and wearing the silent alpargatas, or rope andals, on their feet, they landed. El Pajarillo saluted gravely as they came up the gangway.
“All is secure above, Señor Bruce,” he repeated. “I delivered my stores into the
hut, and sent away all those with me who were not members of the Marta’s crew. Then we surprised the German agent and the two men with him. I have put them in a safe place under guard. The German submarine will come in on to-morrow morning’s ebb. We have plenty of time to get ready. You have the gear ready for loosening the bridge?”
“We have everything, Little Bird,” Bruce answered. “And if everything goes as it should, I shall take the responsibility of advising my firm to add 50 per cent, to '»our fee for this adventure.”
The old smuggler bowed with a regal air. “I shall do my best to deserve your consideration, señor.”
T ED by Bruce and the Spaniard, the _ party made their way up a steep winding track, which rose gradually, with varying gradient, towards the cliff-top. They walked in single file, for the track, though bordered in places with thick subtropical shrubs, admitted of no more. Again and again it curved so sharply on itself round an angle of rock that an un-
guided stranger in the swiftlv gathering darkness must inevitably have walked over the edge of the precipice which fell away on the outer side. The sailors, habituated to the confined space of the submarine, breathed heavily as they breasted the steep ascent.
When they had covered something over a quarter of a mile along the sharp zigzags of the cliff-path, they came to a point where the narrow track, clinging to the side of the cliff, made a series of angles like an irregular letter M. At the central point of the M a narrow bridge, formed of a couple of planks laid together and secured by a rope to uprights on either side, spanned a cavernous crack of some seven feet wide, which dropped sheer for fifty or sixty feet. Here Bruce halted, and turned to the lieutenant-commander, who walked immediately in his rear.
“This is the crux of the whole scheme,” said he. “As soon as Mr. Hun arrives in the morning, he will send up his workingparty of a dozen to twenty men to load up the stuff from the hut. In all probability the skipper will go with them himself to superintend proceedings. There is just about enough room in these shrubs to hide a couple of your most reliable men. As soon as the Boche party have crossed the bridge and got out of sight, those men must pitch that bridge down into the canon. Then the Little Bird, who is known to the Huns from having been here before with a consignment of stuff, will go down to the German boat, say there has been an accident to the bridge, and tell them to send up every man they can spare with fresh planks to make a new one. That will pretty well clear out their ship. As soon as the second party have got well away, your fellows ambushed in the rocks by the landing-stage will sound a bugle, and rush the U-boat. At the same signal your ship will sail round the bend and show the Germans the game is up. If the second German party attempt to return down the path, they will be held up there by the half-dozen fellows you will have hidden for the purpose. And, as you see, on a path like this a couple of men with rifles could hold up any number. As for the first lot we shall look after them up above. You see, they won’t be able to recross the gap with the bridge gone. There is a very steep bit just at the top as you come out to the store-hut. With a few men up there we shall be able to truss them up one after the other as they climb
to the level, and we shall have half of them captured before they know there is anything amiss. They will have to come up sooner or later, and we can afford to wait for them if necessary. The great thing is to keep our men well hidden till the right moment. If we do that, we ought to bag the whole hornet’s nest without so much as a sting.”
“They might shoot your friend, the Little Bird,” observed the lieutenant-commander.
“They might; but I don’t think they will,” said Bruce. “Pajarillo is pretty well used to looking after himself, and he knows what he is up against.”
“We’ll see it through, anyhow,” said the other. “If these Canary folk can’t protect their own neutrality, we must help them.”
It was now a darkish night, with only a crescent of moon showing. El Pajarillo, however, had already gone carefully over the ground, and with the aid of flashtorches the lieutenant-commander placed his men in the several ambushes selected. He himself decided to lead the beach-party to the attack of the U-boat.
A couple of hours before daybreak a rehearsal of the programme was performed by all hands, the Germans being personated by the remaining members of the submarine’s crew. It went off without a hitch. An hour later the lieutenantcommander with Bruce made a final tour of inspection to see that all were in their places. The submarine was sent away to her hidir.g-place, and then, while the tropical day grew quickly out of the sea, the gray-black cliffs of the Cage waited in silence, with no sign of the watching eyes and listening ears which peopled their grim solitudes. Over the oil-still green water in the Cage itself the German flag ence more hung limply from the storeshed on the height, to allay suspicion. There was nothing to disturb the confidence of the most cautious U-boat skipper who ever sneaked into a secret lair.
TUT ARK ! Just as the shining of the upper sky bore witness to the coming of the sun, the rocky walls of the Cage sent up a warning sound—the swishing, slapping noise caused by the wash of a large vessel. The Little Bird, who was posted at a spot whence he could just see the landing-stage—which he had placed in position—saw from his hiding-nlace the long gray bulk of the U-boat glide up to the stage and stop. An officer on deck stepped on to the gangway and looked about him, as if expecting some one to greet him. Seeing no one, he glanced upward to where the German flag hung immediately overhead. The sight apparently reassured him, for he gave an order, and from the deck of the vessel, where they were clustered, the U-boat’s crew followed him ashore, each man carrying a rifle. El Pajarillo counted a score of men who landed. Led by the officer, they began the ascent of the winding path. They passed him safely, and a little later he heard the crash of the plank bridge falling into the chasm, and a confused shouting which followed.
In accordance with his instructions, the Little Bird promply left the shelter of his bu«h and hastened down the path to the landing-stage. The sound of the crash and the shouting had reached those left on board the U-boat, and the Little Bird’s brown, lined face assumed an expression of great concern as he approached. A junior officer, pistol in hand, awaited him at the end of the gangway. “Gott in
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Himmel! what is the matter, you Spanish trickster?” he demanded fiercely.
El Pajarillo spread out his horny hands and shrugged his big shoulders. “Señor Teniente, there has been an unfortunate accident. The supports of the bridge across the gap have given way, and the bridge has gone to the bottom of the gap. By the mercy of God, all your men are safely across, and I myself contrived to save my skin. But without planks it is impossible to get back, and the Señor Capitan requests that you will at once bring or send a party with planks and gear to repair the bridge.”
“Why not bring them down from the hut?”
“Impossible, Señor Teniente. It is as much as a man’s neck is worth to bring heavy articles down the steep at the top
of the path. If you have been up the path, señor, you will recognize the truth of what I say.”
It seemed that the junior officer had never himself been up the path, but he called a petty officer who had, and this man confirmed the Catalan’s statement. The two Germans thereupon consulted together.
XIIHILE they were still talking, a warn' Oing cry came from above where the German flag drooped in the morning stillness, and there swung slowly down to them a big crate, lowered from the windlass at the cliff-top. The officer watched till it touched the beach. It was full of provisions, cans of heavy oil for the Diesel engines, and large bunches of bananas—a welcome sight to men fresh from the confinement of a submarine cruise.
Not a muscle moved in the Little Bird’s face, but he thought to himself that the Señor Bruce was no fool to drop that tempting bait just at the very moment when its appearance might turn the scale against the German officer’s doubts.
It came, indeed, in the very nick of time, and the young German’s face clearly showed the relief which he felt. He ordered half-a-dozen men to remain and load ship. The rest were to accompany him with gear to repair the broken bridge.
“Bring revolvers, every man,” said he, as a final caution, in his own tongue. “One never knows what to expect from these cursed Spaniards.” He dropped into Spanish again for the Little Bird’s benefit. “As for you,” he said, “you will lead the party, and I warn you that should any accident happen, it will be you who will suffer.”
“With care, Señor 7'eniente, there should be no accident,” answered El Pajarillo with grave sarcasm.
Two wide and solid planks were brought from the body of the vessel, and with half-a-dozen men carrying each, and the officer and El Pajarillo leading, the second party of Germans slowly mounted the path.
IT was ticklish work for the carriers on the narrow track. Twice they stopped for a breather before they reached the spot where the ambush party waited. The Little Bird, walking in front with the knowledge that the officer’s revolver was immediately behind him, could not rid himself of a certain uneasiness as to what would happen when the bugle sounded. The strain of waiting for that bugle told severely on his nerves, and when the officer gave the order for a third halt on a very narrow strip of path almost immediately opposite the ambush, he felt he had done all that could reasonably be expected of a man with a pistol at the small of his back. Profiting by the momentary diversion of the officer’s attention, he turned about with lighting swiftness, and in a moment his powerful arms were fast about the astonished Hun, whose own arms were pinned close to his sides as the Little Bird placed him so as to act as a shield between himself and the rest of the party.
“Hands up, all of you!” shouted El Pajarillo in a terrible voice.
Almost at the same instant the bugle rang out from below, followed by the sound of a British cheer.
The Germans on the path had no time to recover from their astonishment at the sudden turn of affairs before the shrubs parted on the rocky slope, and the ambushed sailors in peasant garb showed themselves with rifles levelled.
"Hände hoch!” cried a petty officer
among the seeming Spaniards. The pronunciation was open to criticism, but the effect was instantaneous. The Huns, trapped on the pathway, with one accord dropped their planks, which crashed down the precipitous side of the cliff, and stood in a row like men petrified, each with his hands stretched high above his head. The British petty officer detailed a couple of his men to disarm them, beginning with the sub-lieutenant, whose revolver they transferred to the Little Bird. Then the whole lot were forthwith marched back down the path to the beach.
EVERYTHING there had gone “according to plan.” The lieutenant-commander, with a beaming face, pointed to half-a-dozen disconsolate Huns grouped under the care of a couple of sentries on the deck of his own submarine, which was now lying alongside the U-boat. While the new prisoners were being sent to join them, the consignment of useful articles which had descended from the cliff-top suddenly began to rise again into the air.
The lieutenant-commander watched its ascent with interested gaze. “What’s that Scotsman up to now?” he muttered. Then he forgot the incident in his preoccupation with his prisoners and their captured vessel. But presently the Little Bird touched him respectfully on the shoulder and pointed skywards.
The lieutenant-commander looked up again, stared hard, and burst out laughing. “Well, if that doesn’t beat cock-fighting!” he said. “Lads, here comes a consignment of real German sausages, carriage paid. Stand by to unpack!”
The crate descended to the beach. It contained, in the place of stores, a parcel of four German sailors securely lashed together with their hands bound fast to their sides. The British seamen unloaded them with many a joke, and the crate immediately reascended. Four times this method of delivery was utilized, and with the last consignment came Donald Bruce himself, grinning broadly as he bestrode the frame and held on to the chain.
He sprang down and shook hands with the lieutenant-commander and the Little Bird. “I was just a wee bit anxious about adding my weight,” he explained. “But it’s a good chain, lieutenant, and I wanted to get down quick and see the haul.' The rest of the boys will come down by road as soon as you send up and mend the bridge. Thev will send you down the stores first. We might as well have them.
"Man, I wouldn’t have missed this for wor-rlds!”
“It puts the lid on,” said the lieutenantcommander. “We’ve got the men, we-ve got the ship, and we’ve got the boodle too.”
“What will you do with them?” asked the Scot.
The lieutenant-commander assumed a severe expression. “Mr. Bruce,” he said, “you are endeavoring to elicit information on Service matters which might be of use to the King’s enemies. If we were within British jurisdiction, you would render yourself liable to proceedings under the Defence of the Realm Act. As it is, let me ask you what you and your piratical friend here intend to do next. You will recognize that it is not possible for me to put to sea with civilians aboard.”
“Sir,” said Bruce gravely, “I consider it my duty to inform the British consul at Santa Cruz of the suspected existence of a resort of German submarines at this point of the coast, in order that he may lodge a proper protest with the Spanish authorities, who will no doubt act upon his information.”
“A very right proceeding,” said the lieutenant-commander. “Will you deem it necessary to inform the consul of our little affair of this morning?”
THE Scot slowly shook his head. “I should regard that as conveying information of naval movements, which, as you doubtless know, lieutenant, we civilians are strictly forbidden to do.”
“Old man,” çaid the lieutenant-commander, “the soundness of your judgment equals the fertility of your resource. You are, if I may say so, It. And your friend here with the unpronounceable name is also It. I shall not forget the name of your enterprising firm, and when this scrapping is over I hope you and I will meet with greater leisure for conversation.”
The two men clasped hands again. “With your permission,” said Bruce, “the Little Bird and I will go up again by the lift. It will save us the climb, and get us the quicker to Santa Cruz.”
So as the windlass wound up the crate again, the Scot and the Catalan ascended in it together.
“It was not so bad, Señor Bruce?” said Pajarillo modestly as they stepped out on top.
“Pajarillo mio, it was superb!” said Bruce.