Issued Semi-Monthly—By Subscription $1.25 per year. Entered as Second Class Matter at the New York, N. Y., Post Office, March 26, 1898.
Entered according to Act of Congress in the year 1898, in the office of the Librarian of Congress, Washington, D. C., by Frank Tousey, 29 West 26th Street, New York.
|No. 3.||New York, April 22, 1898.||Price 5 Cents.|
SHOOTING A PRISONER OF WAR—A COMRADE TO THE RESCUE.
FLYING FOR THEIR LIVES—A BOLD EXPEDIENT.
MORE VISITORS TO THE HUT—DAN DALY ROWS DOWN THE CREEK.
YOUNG GLORY AND CAPTAIN RUIZ CALDERON—IN THE CAMP OF THE PATRIOTS.
AT VALMOSA—YOUNG GLORY DENOUNCED.
FIGHTING IN THE BOATS—DAN DALY ARRIVES.
ARRIVAL AT THE BROOKLYN—DISCOVERING A RAFT.
YOUNG GLORY ON THE NASHVILLE—AT SAN JUAN DE PORTO RICO.
THE FIRST SHOT—A HOT FIGHT.
BOARDING THE CRUISER—THE LAST STAND.
YOUNG GLORY TO THE RESCUE—A SURPRISE FOR THE BROOKLYN.
THE SPANISH PLOT—YOUNG GLORY'S DANGER.
FORTUNE FAVORS YOUNG GLORY—CAPTURE OF THE MAGAZINE.
JUAN AND LIEUT. TYLER—WHAT YOUNG GLORY DID.
THE CRUISER IN DANGER—A PRICE ON YOUNG GLORY'S HEAD.
"Sorry to keep you waiting, senor."
"Faith, an' it's a polite nation I always said ye were."
The first speaker, a Spanish officer, laughed mockingly as he uttered this apology.
The man to whom he addressed his words was Dan Daly.
Dan had been a boatswain's mate on the battle ship Indiana, then on the Cruiser Columbia, and he was now filling a similar position on the Cruiser Brooklyn. Dan Daly was Young Glory's bosom friend, and the Irishman had been the companion of the gallant young hero in many of the daring exploits that had given him world-wide fame.
Dan's position now appeared desperate.
A landing party from the Brooklyn had been surprised by a body of Spaniards in a small village, not many miles from Matanzas, an important town on the north coast of Cuba.
After a short but desperate encounter, the American sailors, overwhelmed by numbers had retired to their boats, leaving Dan Daly behind, a prisoner in the hands of the Spaniards.
A short, quick trial took place. Dan was denounced as a spy, and instantly sentenced to death. It was ordered that the sentence should be carried out at once. So now Dan stood looking death calmly in the face as he had so often done before.
A file of soldiers was rapidly marching to the place of execution, and their heavy tread could be plainly heard as each moment they drew nearer.
The prisoner was standing against a wall, and immediately behind him was a closed door, which was the rear entrance to a large house in the village.
The house itself was at least fifty yards from this wall.
"Ah! how are the men?" said the Spanish officer. "So your waiting days are over."
The file of soldiers drew up about thirty yards from the doomed man, and as they grounded arms the sound sent a sickening sensation through the brave Irishman's heart.
"Shure, it's not war, but murther's your trade," said Dan. "It's the haythins thimselves wouldn't be afther tratin' me this way."
"Talk on," said the Spaniard, coolly, "if it does you any good. It won't alter matters. You have been condemned, and must die."
"Ah, but it's revenged I'll be."
"You won't ask when you see the Stars an' Stripes, the flag of the free, floatin' over this island."
The Spaniard laughed contemptuously.
"That day will never come. Bah!" he added, stamping on the ground, "why do I waste time talking to a miserable Yankee spy?"
The man turned away. But in an instant he came back to the prisoner.
"Spy or not," he growled, rather than spoke, "I suppose you're a human being."
"Faith, an' if you are, I'm not."
The Spaniard's face grew dark with passion.
"Silence! I ask you if you have any request to make. If possible, it shall be carried out."
"Shure, an' I have, then."
"Quick! my men are waiting. Speak!"
"It's Young Glory I'd like to spake to. I'd like to shake his hand—" Dan's voice faltered here—"before I die."
"That young wretch!" cried the Spaniard, savagely. "So you're his friend?"[Pg 2]
"The truest he iver had."
"Then, as Young Glory is not yet in our hands, your request is denied."
Dan's eyes twinkled with fun. The nearness of death could not depress him.
"Shure, it's in no hurry I am. I can wait till you catch him."
The Spanish captain glared fiercely at Dan. Then he faced round towards his men.
"Are your rifles loaded?" he cried.
"Yes, yes, senor capitan!"
"Shoulder arms, then. Wait for the word."
Dan stared round, taking his last look of the earth.
The brave fellow had refused to have his eyes bandaged, and now he was staring defiantly at the men who were to be his executioners.
"They may miss you, senor, the first time," said the Spaniard. "Our men can't fire as straight as you Yankees."
Dan Daly understood what this speech meant. It was virtually a command to the firing party not to kill at the first volley. They intended to prolong Dan's agony.
"Ah! you tremble," cried the Spaniard, gleefully.
Dan held out his hand.
"Faith, it's not you can make my hand shake. It's firm as a rock."
The Spaniard bit his lips with passion. He saw that he could not subdue the proud spirit of the American sailor, and he had hoped to see him writhing on the ground with fear, begging for mercy.
"Yankees are animals, not men," he said, savagely. "No matter, the world is about to be rid of one of them."
"We shall see."
The words were not spoken by Dan, yet they seemed to come from the spot where he was standing.
Instantly the door in the wall was thrown open, and a man dashed through. He seemed to be a Spaniard, for he was wearing the Spanish costume.
Before the officer could raise a hand to defend himself, the stranger was within a yard of him, holding a six-shooter at his head.
Dan was paralyzed with astonishment.
The firing party had lowered their rifles. They had broken their ranks, and were talking together excitedly and rapidly.
By this time the Spanish officer had somewhat recovered from his surprise, and the color which had left his cheeks began to return.
"Who are you?" he demanded, sternly.
"Speak lower, senor, a little lower. I allow no one to address me thus."
"Address you! Caramba! I speak as I please. I am master here!"
The stranger laughed mockingly.
"We won't discuss that point, for I see we shall not agree."
"What do you want?"
"Ah! That's a different question, and I'll give you an answer. You have a prisoner here, an American sailor."
"What of it?"
"He is your prisoner no longer. He is mine."
"You dare to interfere between me and an enemy of your country!"
"I dare do even more than that, senor capitan."
"I will soon put an end to this farce. Hold!"
The officer called to his men, and instantly they were all attention.
"Put a bullet into this impudent rascal."
Quick as lightning the rifles went to the shoulders of the soldiers.
But the stranger was quite prepared for this maneuver.
Like lightning he grasped the Spanish officer and drew him towards himself.
"Now, senor capitan, you are between me and your soldiers. Your late prisoner is behind me. If your men fire, whom will they hit?"
The officer trembled. He saw that it was impossible for his assailant to receive one bullet. The soldiers were also aware of this fact, and so they stood motionless, not daring to fire.
The Spaniard then assumed an air of bravado.
"This is all childish," he said.
"You think so?"
"I know it. You have, by a trick, got me in your power, but for how long?"
"For a sufficient time."
"You are foolish. You have sacrificed your life without helping the prisoner."
"We shall see."
"Yes, and quickly. Supposing you kill me. What follows?"
"Faith, you're dead!"
It was the first word the Irishman had spoken.
The Spaniard glanced ferociously at him.
"I was not speaking to that fool, but to you. I ask, supposing you kill me, what follows?"
"Senor capitan, that won't happen, so we'll not talk of it. Come!"
"You heard me. Walk steadily forward. I'll step backwards keeping my eye fixed on your soldiers. I don't want any harm to happen to you, and they may fire without thinking."
The stranger made a sign to Dan to go before him, so now the prisoner, the stranger and the captain stood in single file, the last named being nearest the soldiers and thus acting as a perfect shield.
"Oh, you won't stir. Very well!"
With these words, finding the officer did not move, the stranger held his six-shooter a little nearer to him, and gave the Spaniard a threatening look.
"Ah, I thought so. Now you walk."
"You have me in your power. I must, but I will have a bitter revenge. Senor, you are cowardly!"
"Cowardly! Ha! Ha! a pretty accusation from you. What! you talk about cowardice! You, who don't know how to treat a brave enemy as a prisoner[Pg 3] of war, but place him up against a wall to have him shot down as if he was a dog. Senor capitan," continued the stranger, speaking very sternly, "you have excited my hatred. Another such speech as your last and you will earn my contempt."
Dan Daly was moving along like one in a dream.
By this time he had reached the door which still stood open.
"Pass through," cried the stranger in a commanding tone.
Instantly Dan did so.
"And me?" asked the officer.
"You will stay where you are."
"And yourself, senor, where shall I find you?" asked the officer, sarcastically.
"That you will know when you discover me!" answered the stranger, defiantly.
With these words he grasped the Spanish officer by the shoulders, and using all his strength to throw him backwards, sending him with such force to the ground that he rolled many yards.
Then like lightning he dashed through the doorway, closing the door behind him, instantly.
A volley of bullets came, burying themselves in the wood.
They were too late to do any damage, for the door was closed before the soldiers fired.
"Now, Dan Daly," said the stranger, "if you value your life, follow me."
"Young Glory!" cried the Irishman, astounded.
"And who else did you think it was?" retorted Young Glory, as he led the way through the garden.
Behind, a furious rush was being made at the door.
Even if this did not give way, it was an easy matter to scale the wall. So Dan Daly and Young Glory had no time to lose.
"Friends of yours live here?" questioned Dan.
"No, no! Don't talk, but look about you!"
A narrow passage led to the side of the house, and as the fugitives reached it, a man stood in their way.
"You cannot pass," he said.
"But we do," retorted Young Glory, bounding forward, and giving the man a furious blow in the face with his fist. Down he went like a log.
"Shure, he's punished for not kapin' to the truth," laughed Dan.
"Now our troubles commence," said Young Glory. "Across this court-yard, or patis as they call it, Dan, and then we're in the street."
Several people, evidently servants belonging to the house rushed into the patis, but none of them attempted to interfere with the two Americans. They seemed completely scared, and stood with startled looks on their faces as the fugitives dashed past.
Now they were in the road.
This part of the village was deserted, for all the people had gone round to the rear of the house where the execution of Dan Daly was to have taken place. It was a sight they did not care to miss.
So Young Glory and Dan crossed the road and then entered a thick wood, which seemed to them to have no paths in it.
Through it they pushed their way, listening intently for sounds of their pursuers. Their progress was slow, but so would that be of the men who were after them. The only advantage the latter possessed was that they knew the country.
"Water!" cried Young Glory.
"It's a river, shure," said Dan.
"No, there's no river in these parts. I'm certain of that. It must be a creek—part of the sea, in fact."
"Faith, it's small use talkin' about it. It's there, an', begorra, our goose is cooked; we can niver get any further."
"It's a bad lookout."
"An' why shouldn't we swim, Young Glory?"
"And be shot down. How long would it take us to get to the other side? Why, if we escaped the bullets the Spaniards would send after us, we'd find the enemy waiting for us when we landed. That's so, Dan; take my word for it."
Dan turned slowly round. Young Glory regarded him with amazement.
"Where are you going?"
"It's savin' time I want to be. We can't escape. It's yourself said so, an' shure I'll jist go back an' meet the Spaniards."
"Pshaw! We are not captured yet, Dan! There are more ways than one of getting out of a difficulty. We'll keep along by the creek, close to the trees, ready to get amongst them if anybody shows up."
"It's in your hands, I am," said Dan Daly, resignedly.
Now, Young Glory knew the position was very serious. He had not the faintest notice how they were to escape.
It might have been possible for him to have got away, but not for Dan. The Irishman was wearing an American naval uniform. To desert Dan, of course, never entered Young Glory's head.
Dan put his hand on the boy's arm at this moment.
"It's back ye must be kapin'."
"Shure, there's a house."
"I see it."
Young Glory's face brightened instantly.
"By jingo, this may be our salvation!" he cried.
"It's puzzled I am!"
"I'm not. Stay where you are, Dan. That is to say, get amongst these trees till you hear from me."
"But where are ye goin'?"
"Going to call on some friends of mine who live in that house."
Before Dan could say a word, Young Glory was gone, and the Irishman, mindful of his safety, hid himself amid the bushes, still keeping a watch on the house to which his comrade was going.[Pg 4]
Young Glory walked boldly up to the hut, for it was no more, and hammered sharply on the door.
He had no cause for fear. He was dressed in the native costume, and spoke the language perfectly.
It was some few minutes before any one answered his summons, and then the door was opened by as villainous-looking a man as Young Glory thought he had ever set eyes on.
The man was apparently about forty years old, not tall, but broad-shouldered and strong.
"Good-day, comrade," said Young Glory, gayly.
The man growled forth a reply.
"Come, come, that's not very civil. A drink and a rest is what I should expect you to invite me to have."
"Go on expecting," answered the man, savagely, showing his teeth as he spoke. "It's all you'll get out of me, senor."
"You're not polite. Caramba! it's living alone has made you like this."
"If I want to live alone," answered the man, adopting a threatening attitude as he spoke, "is it anybody's business but mine?"
"Certainly not," said Young Glory, aloud.
Then to himself he said: "Now, I know there's no one else in the house. Good, that decides me."
"Well, comrade," said Young Glory, smilingly, "people tell me that I've a way with me there's no resisting."
"It has no effect on me."
"Are you sure?"
Quick as a flash, just as the words came from his lips, Young Glory drew his six-shooter from his belt, and held it at the man's head.
"Ha! Ha!" laughed Young Glory, "you change color. You see I was right. Don't you think so?"
"What's your game?" asked the man, sullenly. "I've done you no harm, never seen you in my life before, so you can't want to kill me. And as for robbing me, well, try it. If you get enough to buy yourself a drink I'll be surprised."
"Get into the house," said Young Glory. "Back with you. Hi! Hi!"
The last two cries were meant for Dan, who heard them, and was in time to see Young Glory entering the hut. Dan noticed that his comrade had signed to him, and he immediately ran towards the place.
In a moment he was in the hut.
"A friend of mine, Dan Daly," said Young Glory.
"The top of the mornin' to ye, senor," cried Dan, taking off his cap, gravely. "It's meself's plased to meet you."
"You're an American?"
"Our friend's not polite, Dan," said Young Glory. "I've found that out already. But, to business."
"Yes, Dan. We've much to do. Take this man, gag him, and tie him up securely."
Dan rushed at the fellow without another word.
"Quiet! or I'll shoot you," said Young Glory, seeing the man about to resist.
The sight of the pistol effectually settled the matter, and Dan did his work so expeditiously that the man was lying at the rear of the hut hidden under a heap of rubbish in a very few minutes.
"Now, you must skip, Dan."
"I said so."
"Oh! I stay here," answered Young Glory, carelessly. "You see, the men in pursuit of you will come up very soon, and I must be here to receive them."
"Begorra, it's murther!"
"I think not."
"Young Glory, it's throwin' your life away ye'll be; they'll know you at once."
"We shall see."
"But where shall I hide?" cried Dan.
"Rush to the woods and stay there."
"They will search the woods."
"Not after they've heard my story. I'll put them off the trail. Quick! Get away!"
Young Glory ran to the door of the hut. Then he came back with a look of dismay on his face.
"Too late!" he cried.
"Too late, I said. The Spaniards are coming up by the creek. You can't get away from this house now without being seen."
It was Dan's turn to look scared now.
"It's your own fault," answered Young Glory, impatiently. "You would waste the precious moments by arguing the point, so see what you've brought us to. There's only one thing for you to do now. Under with you."
"Get alongside our friend. Keep him company. Lie still, Dan. It's your only chance."
Young Glory assisted in covering Dan up, and this done, he threw off the hat and cloak he was wearing, and secreted them. Then he hastily assumed some old garments he found in the hut, rubbed some dirt over his face, pulled his hat over his eyes, and with a cigarette between his lips took his station at the door to wait for the soldiers.
Spanish soldiers are not very ceremonious in their treatment of civilians. So Young Glory found himself roughly addressed by the officer in charge of the detachment.
"You live here?" said the officer.
"Yes, senor capitan," answered Young Glory, "this is my poor house."
"Very well. You're the man I want. Have you seen anybody pass this way?"
"Have you been standing here long?"
"Yes, for an hour."
"And you saw no one pass?"
"I said no, senor capitan."
"They must have passed this way," said the officer,[Pg 5] in a low voice, to his sergeant. "The fellow's deceiving us."
"Pardon, senor capitan," said Young Glory. "I have something to say. Just now I saw two men."
"Two men!" cried the captain, excitedly. "It must be they. Where! Where!"
"They came out of the wood about two hundred yards below, and seeing me standing at the door they darted back again into the trees."
"Ask him what they were like," whispered the sergeant. "That will test his story."
The officer, pleased with the suggestion, put the question.
"Like! well, now, it wasn't as if I had many minutes to examine them, and, besides it was too far off for me to tell the color of their hair or eyes."
"Fool!" exclaimed the captain, savagely. "Their dress! that's the point."
"One of them seemed to be a civilian, a Cuban I should say, capitan. The other, was certainly a sailor, a navy man, the——"
The captain waited for no more.
"Our men," he cried enthusiastically. "They cannot escape us now."
Young Glory threw away his cigarette and smiled as he looked after them.
"You can crawl out of your shell, Dan, now," said Young Glory, when the last soldier had disappeared.
"Faith, that's a comfort. An' what did them sogers want?"
"They were looking for you, Dan. They found me, but didn't know me."
"It's great ye are, Young Glory. There's nobody but yourself could decave them. It's time we have for talkin' now, an' it's mesilf 'd like to know how ye stopped them spalpeens from shootin' me."
"When I saw you taken prisoner, Dan, I determined to save you. The boats went back to the cruiser, but I didn't."
"Ye stayed on shore?"
"Yes. By good luck I managed to get into a house while everyone was away, and get a change of clothes. Then I came to look after you. Why, I was present when they tried you."
"But I was. It's not Young Glory's way to desert a comrade, Dan."
The Irishman pressed his hand warmly.
"It's the lucky man who has yourself for a friend, Young Glory."
Dan began foraging about the hut now.
"It's food an' drink I'm afther," he explained, "an' partic'larly the last. Ha! what's this? Wine! Well, it can't be helped."
"What did you expect to find?"
"A drop of the craythur, shure. It's much I'd give for three fingers of whisky."
The two seamen made a good meal of some cold fish and bread and the bottle of wine, most of which latter going down Dan's throat.
Then Dan lit his pipe.
"Hurroo! but it's great. It's happy as a king I'm feelin'."
"For how long? We can't stay here, Dan; we must get out of this."
"But not till it's dark."
"It's Captain Miles won't go away, Young Glory. He'll be afther kapin' the cruiser near."
"Yes, I feel certain he will. I've no doubt he's doing his best to rescue you, Dan."
And so the two talked on, Dan smoking and Young Glory thinking how they might make their escape.
It seemed as if night would come and find them chatting.
An interruption took place.
Young Glory from time to time went to the door of the hut and glanced up and down the road. Now he came back quickly.
"Your hiding-place again, Dan."
"There are more soldiers coming."
"There will be if you don't hurry."
The warning was enough. Dan was out of sight in a moment.
This second visit to the hut alarmed Young Glory greatly.
He saw that things were in a very critical position.
In the event of a thorough search it was absolutely certain that Dan would be discovered.
As the soldiers approached the hut, Young Glory tried hard to maintain his calm. He saw with surprise that all these men were officers. So much he could tell from their uniforms.
When they came to the hut they found Young Glory sitting at the table, busily engaged in mending some fishing lines which he had found in the hut.
He sprang up quickly as the leader entered, and saluted him respectfully.
"Welcome, senor capitan."
"My good fellow," answered the Spanish officer, "myself and my friends here won't interfere with your work. Go on, I beg. We only seek a short rest."
Young Glory put the fishing lines away.
"It is nothing," he said. "My friend who lives here is away to-day, and I am keeping house for him, so I thought I would do a little work."
"Has he anything in the drinking line?" cried a young lieutenant. "That's more to the point."
A shout of approval followed.
"You don't speak very often, Ruiz," said one of the officers, "but when you do, you display the wisdom of Solomon."
The officers, making themselves quite at home, bustled about the hut, as Dan had done, searching for drink.[Pg 6]
Young Glory was on thorns all the time. Detection seemed imminent.
"Sit down, senores," he cried. "I will myself search for the wine."
"But it's found," cried one of the officers, gayly. "Why, my good fellow, your friend must be in the liquor business. He's a regular cellar of wine here. Come on, gentlemen; take your choice. Here's claret from France, Rhine wine, brandy, Amontillado from Spain, and whisky and wine from America."
"Nothing American for me!"
"Good sense again, Ruiz. Let us try the Amontillado. It will remind us of our country."
The proposition found favor, and several bottles were opened, and the soldiers helped themselves.
"Your friend's a smuggler," said one of the officers to Young Glory.
The latter shook his head.
"My good fellow, it's a matter of indifference to us what he is. He's a benefactor of his species, anyway. Don't you agree with me, gentlemen?"
They all raised their glasses and shouted boisterously.
Young Glory began to breathe more freely now. There was not a word said as to the escape of Dan Daly and the search for him.
Very soon he discovered from the talk that the officers were in complete ignorance of it. They were posted with their regiment a considerable distance from the village, and were now on their way to headquarters there.
What they had said was true. They had merely stopped at the hut in the hope of obtaining refreshment. No doubt they would soon take their departure.
The wine loosened their tongues, and they began to talk freely. Young Glory lost not a word of what was being said, for it seemed likely that he would hear something that might prove valuable.
"Where to to-night, Ruiz?" asked one man.
"Why ask him? He'll be waiting for the fair Julia. Her eyes will glance at him from the balcony."
"Wrong for once, gentlemen," said Ruiz.
"Captain Calderon is inconstant," laughed another officer.
"Oh! Ruiz, I did not think that of you."
"And if you did, you would be wrong. No, comrades, luck's against me to-night. I'm on duty."
"Can anything be worse?"
"I said so."
"Tell us, Ruiz."
"I'm going to Valmosa."
"There is a lot of ammunition collected there."
"I heard of it."
"Well, it's to be moved to-night to this place."
"You'll have hot work. The rebels are in force between here and Valmosa."
"Everybody knows that."
"I wish you good-by, Ruiz," said one of the officers, solemnly. "Old fellow, I pity you!"
"Pshaw! there's no danger. It's only the discomfort I'm thinking of. We are going to bring the ammunition to this place by water."
"There's no cause for surprise. It's the simplest way."
"But the American cruiser. Think of that, Ruiz. She's sure to be hanging around."
"And if she is, it's a matter of very little consequence."
"But you'll be stopped."
"No. We shall be in small boats and keep close in to shore. Now, the Yankee cruiser must stay a good way out, for the water's not deep enough to let her in. To-night will be dark. There's no moon till two o'clock, and so it's simplicity itself to get the stuff through."
"Why did they send you? You don't belong to those fellows at Valmosa."
"Never saw one of them in my life. But the order was given me, and that's enough."
"The old general had had his dinner when he gave the order?"
"Then we know what that means. He had more wine than wit in his body."
"I must get away," said Ruiz.
"There's no hurry."
"Not for you. Stay, if you please."
"No, no; we'll all go together."
Ruiz Calderon rose.
"I have to get a good horse. The most dangerous part of the business is getting to Valmosa, because I must go near the rebel lines."
"Good luck to Ruiz!" cried all his comrades, emptying their glasses as they spoke.
"Thank you, gentlemen, thank you. My good fellow, your wine was excellent. If you should hear a horseman gallop past your hut to-night, don't be alarmed. It will only be me."
Scarcely had they gone, when Dan Daly rushed out.
"Faith, it's more than flesh an' blood could stand. Arrah! but me mouth watered when I heard the glasses clinkin'. The spalpeens!" he cried in dismay, "they've not left a drop for me."
Dan gazed in amazement at the hoard of liquor that had been discovered.
"What a find! It's meself could put in a week here in this blessed hut."
"But you won't."
"I say you won't. It will be dark, Dan, in one hour. There's a boat lying down on the creek."
"An' faith, what's that to me?"
"Everything. You'll get on board that boat, go down the creek into the sea, and try and find the[Pg 7] cruiser. The Brooklyn won't be far off. You must take a light with you and give a signal."
Dan was astounded.
"An' is it by mesilf I'm to go?"
"That's exactly what it is, Dan. You're old enough to be trusted alone, you know."
"Oh, I have work on shore. Never mind me."
"It's more danger ye're runnin' your head into."
"Trust me to get it out again. Now, don't interrupt me. I've a letter to write."
Dan busily employed himself with the whisky whilst Young Glory was writing his letter.
"Here it is."
"An' who's it for?"
"He's the only Captain Miles I know. Now, Dan, it's very important that that letter should reach Captain Miles as soon as possible. You understand me?"
"Yes, an' if it's to be done I'll do it."
"That I know. Now, to start you."
The two men left the hut. The boat was moored immediately opposite, and in it were a pair of sculls.
Young Glory would not allow a moment to be wasted. He unhitched the painter and pushed off the boat. Then, having seen Dan start on his dangerous mission, he went back to the hut.
The project Young Glory had conceived was incredibly bold.
If he had told Dan what it was, the Irishman would have done his best to dissuade him from it.
But Young Glory instead of changing his mind, became more fixed in his purpose as the time flew by.
"I don't see why it should fail," he said to himself, as he sat listening intently. "Ah! there he is. Well, the die is cast, or will be in a few minutes, anyway. I'll go through with it to the end."
He passed his hand through his thick golden curls which his sombrero had hitherto concealed. Then he hurriedly went out and posted himself behind a large tree a few yards from the hut.
Nearer and nearer came the noise that had attracted his attention. A horseman was approaching at a rapid rate, that was clear.
"Captain Calderon for certain," said Young Glory to himself. "There won't be any time to see, so I must assume it's he and take my chances."
It was so dark that he could not see the horseman, though he knew he must be very near by the sound. Then, suddenly, out into the road he sprang.
"Halt!" he cried in ringing tones, "or I will put a bullet into you."
The horseman seemed astounded. Many men could have dashed by regardless of consequences, but this man reined in his steed instantly, drawing the animal back on its haunches.
As he did so Young Glory drew up close to him, still keeping him covered with his six-shooter.
"I must ask you to dismount," he said, "and at once."
There was a light coming from the hut, for Young Glory had left the door open, and by it both men were able to distinguish each other.
Young Glory recognized Captain Calderon instantly.
"My man!" he muttered.
"The fellow from the hut!" cried the officer.
"I asked you to dismount, senor capitan," repeated Young Glory.
"I heard you, and I demand to know the meaning of this insolence."
"Demand! A strange word from a helpless man, senor. Are you aware that you are in my power, senor. Come, come, don't drive me to extremities. I should be sorry to have to injure a gallant young officer like yourself, but I tell you plainly, captain, that if you hesitate, my duty will compel me to kill you!"
There was something in the tone with which these words were spoken, more than in the words themselves, which impressed the officer.
He realized now that he had not, as he had supposed at first, a drunkard to deal with. But he was still completely at a loss to know what was meant.
However, he reasoned that a few minutes' chat in the hut, would certainly lead to a satisfactory explanation.
"The less time lost the better," said the Spanish captain.
So he dismounted, and Young Glory took possession of his pistol and also his horse. The latter he instantly hitched up to a hook driven in the wall of the hut.
"Now, fellow," said the captain, when the two men found themselves in the hut, "what does this foolery mean?"
"Take off your clothes!"
The officer colored with passion.
"My clothes," he gasped. "Never!"
"I will make you."
"What! are you a thief?"
"Call me what you please, but do as I say or it will be worse for you."
The Spanish captain made a dash at Young Glory.
The latter stepped back quickly, raising his six-shooter as he did so, and pointing it at his captive.
"You are foolish," said Young Glory. "You cannot compete with me, and you ought to understand that."
What was causing the Spaniard to stare so? Not the fact that he was threatened by Young Glory's six-shooter. No, but because when Young Glory had moved backwards, his sombrero had dropped off his head, thus exposing his thick yellow curls.
"You are not a Spaniard," said Captain Calderon, astounded at the change in his captor.
"Neither are you a Cuban."
"Who are you, then?"
"I will tell you. I am Young Glory."
The Spaniard dropped into a chair.
"So you are the man who released the prisoner who was to be shot?"
"And you've done terrible injury to the Spanish cause, both here and in Spain."
"You pay me a high compliment, senor."
"We have a heavy debt against you, Young Glory," said the Spaniard, gloomily.
"You will when this night is over. My work has only just commenced. Come, captain, you and I must not quarrel. You are a brave man, I know. Don't drive me to extremities. I must have your uniform and I'll give you—these."
Young Glory laughed as he pointed to the rags he was wearing.
A soldier soon recognizes the truth. A civilian is more disposed to argue. So the result was that Captain Calderon yielded with the best grace he could, and commenced to undress.
Young Glory, meanwhile, was doing the same, and in a few minutes the exchange had been effected.
Captain Calderon was a Cuban fisherman. Young Glory was a Spanish officer.
"They fit me beautifully, capitan. Don't you think so? Why, really, I'm not a conceited chap, but I don't think it would be well for you if the fair Julia saw me to-night."
"So you were listening to what I and my comrades were saying?" asked the captain, with a black look on his face.
"I heard every word. It's a way I have, and I find it extremely useful sometimes. I shall to-night."
"And now I suppose I can go?"
Young Glory smiled pityingly.
"For a man of your intelligence that is a very foolish question, senor. No, you will stay here. I shall have to secure you, bind you up in fact, and also gag you."
"Yes, you might raise an alarm. You have an excellent voice as I heard when you were drinking."
Young Glory, as a seaman, had no difficulty in fixing the cords so that they would hold, and whilst he was talking, he went on with the work.
The captain was trussed up like a chicken now.
"You will repent this," hissed the captain, through his clinched teeth.
"I am of a different opinion."
"Some day I will have a bitter revenge."
"Why? All is fair in war. You would do the same to me if it served you and I was in your power. But we shall talk all night if we get on this strain. You won't be lonely for I have provided a companion for you. See!"
Young Glory raised the clothes that covered the owner of the hut and exposed him to view.
Whilst the captain was staring in astonishment at what he saw, Young Glory extinguished the light, left the hut, and closed the door securely after him.
Then he unhitched the horse, sprang into the saddle and galloped away.
Sailors do not excel as horsemen, but Young Glory was an exception to the rule. Before he had enlisted he had passed several years in the west, and the animal who tried to unseat him had a very difficult task to perform.
"The road to Valmosa," he muttered. "Guess that won't be hard to find. I know where Valmosa lies, and roads are not very plentiful in this benighted land, so I won't have much trouble if I stick to the one I'm on."
Young Glory's danger was in falling into the hands of some Spaniards. They might happen to be comrades of Ruiz, and it would be almost impossible to deceive them. But this did not daunt him. He had understood all these dangers before he took this desperate project in hand, and he thought of them now, merely because he had nothing else to do.
The ride exhilarated him, and his spirits rose as he proceeded.
Gradually the path—it was really little better than a mule path—descended towards the sea, and Young Glory was pleased because he knew Valmosa was on the coast, and this seemed to show him he was on the right road.
However, his reflections were cut short with startling rapidity.
A dozen men sprang from the surrounding trees. Two men sprang forward and seized his horse's bridle, the others, with threatening gestures, threw themselves in his way, barring his further progress.
"Caramba, senor, but you're in a hurry," said a man, who appeared to be their leader.
"You have judged rightly, senor," answered Young Glory, "I am in a hurry. Let me proceed."
The men laughed loudly.
"You are a Spanish officer. You must be mad to talk in this way," was the stern answer.
"And who are you?" asked Young Glory.
"We are Cuban patriots."
"Patriots! Then I'm safe!" exclaimed the boy, softly.
"He must die!" whispered several of the men. "We give no quarter now, since those Spanish wretches have commenced shooting their prisoners in cold blood."
Half a dozen pistols were leveled at the boy, and as many machetes flashed in the air.
A crisis had come.
"Stop!" cried Young Glory, boldly. "I am no Spaniard."
"Then what are you?"
"I am an American sailor."
The weapons that had threatened Young Glory's life were at once lowered, but the men seemed to receive his statement with great suspicion. They con[Pg 9]ferred together hastily, still retaining their hold on the young hero's horse.
At length the leader spoke.
"We cannot decide this question. You may be an American sailor, or you may be a spy. That is for others to determine. You must come with us to the general."
"Hurry, then, I beg. For, senors, a project I have in view for the benefit of your cause will fail if I am long delayed."
They pushed through the woods, the patriots finding paths that Young Glory would have searched for in vain.
Some half mile was traversed in this fashion, when a sentinel challenged. The answer was satisfactory, and on they went.
Then past one picket after another they went, showing what faithful guard the patriots kept, until the order to halt was given, and Young Glory found himself near a large fire around which were a number of Cuban officers.
"A prisoner, general!" said the leader of the party.
"And a valuable one, too," was the answer, as the general glanced at Young Glory. "A captain at the very least. Has he been searched?"
"Do so. He may be a bearer of despatches."
"It is needless to search me," said Young Glory, advancing slightly towards the general. "I am not what I seem. I am an American seaman. My name is Young Glory."
This startling announcement caused a sensation.
"Young Glory!" cried several of the officers.
"Yes, that is my name."
"Have you any proof?" said the general.
"Then we cannot let you proceed."
Young Glory's face fell. Here he saw all his hopes dashed to the ground. He determined to make one more effort.
"But if you stop me, a certain scheme against the Spaniards that I can carry through to success, will fail. I tell you it is so."
"No matter. I have said before we do not know you, so we must detain you for inquiries."
"Have you ever heard of Young Glory, general?"
"That is a foolish question. His name is a household word."
"Very well; I again repeat I am Young Glory."
"And again I ask for proof."
Suddenly an idea occurred to the boy.
"Have you ever heard of Captain Ruiz Calderon?"
"Yes. He's a distinguished officer in the Spanish army. What of it?"
"I'm Captain Calderon, or rather," said Young Glory, with a laugh, "I'm supposed to be to-night."
"I took him prisoner."
"And released him?"
"No. Made him change clothes with me, tied him securely, and left him in a cottage on a creek belonging to a fisherman."
"I know the place!" cried one of the soldiers.
"You did this?" asked the general, incredulously.
"Certainly. It was necessary for the success of my plans. Send to the cottage, if it's possible to do so."
"It can be done."
"Very well. I entreat you to be quick, general. Much depends on it."
It was rather dangerous work to venture so near the Spanish lines, but four patriots volunteered at once, and the general, after giving them a few brief instructions, sent them on their way.
Well mounted, if no mischance happens to them, they would soon be back, and Young Glory, who was in a boiling passion, quite ignored the presence of the Cubans, and threw himself on the ground to rest while awaiting the result.
"I believe he is Young Glory," said the general to one of his officers. "He doesn't look like an impostor."
"Well, he's in a temper because I've done my duty. Let him alone. His young blood will soon cool."
So it did, and Young Glory, on thinking calmly over the matter, saw that he could not have expected any different treatment to what he had received.
"General," he said, going up to him, "I was hasty. You must pardon me."
The general smiled.
"I have thought no more of it. Have a cigar. You'll find them good. They taste better perhaps to me," he added, with a laugh, "because the tobacco was grown by a Spaniard, one of our bitterest enemies, and they cost nothing."
The time seemed long. In reality the men—or at least two of them—were back in an incredibly short space of time.
"Well?" questioned the general.
"We have been there."
"And your comrades?"
"They are safe. We left them behind."
"And this young man's story?"
"Quite true, general, only he forgot to say that he had left two prisoners in the hut."
"Yes, general," said Young Glory. "One of them is the man who lives in the hut."
"How did it all happen?"
As Young Glory told the story of the marvelous escape of Dan Daly from the firing party, with the subsequent details of the pursuit and eventful safety, the men gathered round and listened with bated breath.
"Senor, it is marvelous!" exclaimed the general, when the recital was ended. "I had heard something of the extraordinary escape of the American prisoner before. Now tell me of your future plans."
"That is for your ear alone."[Pg 10]
"Stand back, senores," said the general, waving his hand, "except Colonel Mendez, my chief."
"That is the same as yourself, general," replied Young Glory, bowing to the officer who had been named.
When Young Glory had told them what his plan was, they were lost in amazement.
"And you mean to do it?"
"Certainly. That's what I'm here for."
"Do you want any of my men?"
"If you can send some of them on the road with me to point out the way I shall be glad, but they must not go near Valmosa. If they were seen with me that would spoil all."
"Success to you, Young Glory," said the general, pressing his hand as he was riding off.
"Oh! then you believe I'm Young Glory now?"
"Caramba! my friend, your deeds show that. There's not another man would do such things. Adios."
Once more Young Glory was in the saddle with two of the patriots riding alongside him. Under their guidance he made rapid progress.
"We must leave you now, senor," said one of the men.
"Thank you for coming."
"Yonder, where you see the lights is Valmosa. Goodness only knows how you will reach it."
"Leave that to me."
Once more Young Glory was alone, riding rapidly to the scene of his desperate undertaking.
It was a challenge by the sentry. Young Glory had, of course, expected this, and he was ready.
"Dispatches from Monterey!" he cried, instantly, thinking by so doing that the sentry would not demand the watch-word for the night.
The scheme was successful. The sentry told him to advance, keeping his rifle on him the while, until he had satisfied himself of the truth.
One look seemed to give him confidence.
"You are from Monterey, capitan?"
"Yes. I am Captain Ruiz Calderon."
One obstacle was surmounted. The rest was easy. In a few minutes Young Glory found himself in Valmosa.
There all was excitement.
Instantly Young Glory went to the commandant of the garrison.
"If he knows Ruiz Calderon, I'm lost," was Young Glory's reflection as he entered the commandant's room.
"A dispatch from General Lopez," said Young Glory, saluting.
The commandant took the letter and tore it open, scarcely giving Young Glory a glance.
"So you are Captain Calderon?" he said, after reading the dispatch.
"General Lopez says you are a brave and energetic soldier."
Young Glory bowed.
"To-night you have work before you that will prove your strength. You are to command the expedition that starts for Monterey."
"So the general told me."
"Everything is in readiness. There is no reason for delay."
"I think you are right, colonel. There seems to be every reason for hurrying. You spoke of danger."
"From what quarter do you expect it?"
"From the Americans. The rebels are on shore. They can do us no harm."
"How can the Americans do so?"
"They have a cruiser in these waters."
"She will not see us."
"Who knows? Those ships carry great searchlights now, and they can light up the water."
"Let them. They have to sink us after they find us and it's not easy to hit a small boat at long range."
"Good. That's the way to talk, capitan. You are a man after my own heart."
Young Glory was leaving the room when he passed a man he thought he knew, but it was somewhat dark and he only had a mere glance.
He heard a few words, though, that disquieted him somewhat.
"That's Captain Calderon—" it was the commandant speaking—"he leads the expedition."
"Calderon of Lopez' division?"
"Caramba! but he's grown."
With beating heart Young Glory hurried on.
"I know that voice," he muttered. "Strange! where can I have heard it?"
During the last few months he had been through so many scenes, and he had met with so many strange faces, that he was quite unable to satisfy himself as to the identity of the owner of the voice.
The boats were all in readiness.
Two large craft contained ammunition. A smaller one was in advance, filled with sailors and soldiers, in order to tow the heavier craft along.
Young Glory speedily took in the whole of the arrangements. He might have preferred to make some changes, but his object now was to get out of Valmosa with all speed. Rapidly he gave his orders. The men seemed to have no suspicion, and all was going smoothly. Yet Young Glory could not get out of his mind the stranger who had passed him at the commandant's headquarters.
"Cast off!" he cried.
Instantly the men on the pier let the boats loose, and the men bent to their oars.
"Row, my lads, long and steady. You've a hard pull before you," said Young Glory, "and you'll need all your strength."
The sailors showed at once they did not intend to overexert themselves.[Pg 11]
"Rather different to our blue jackets," was Young Glory's reflection. "Why, Dan Daly and half a dozen of our fellows would lick the whole crowd."
There was commotion on shore at this instant. Anxiously Young Glory looked towards the pier. He could see nothing on account of the darkness, but he heard the pattering of feet. One man, if not more, was hurrying towards the end of the pier.
Then Young Glory heard some shouting, but the roar of the sea prevented him from distinguishing the words.
The shouting continued.
This word came distinctly across the water.
"They've caught a spy," exclaimed Young Glory, quickly, to turn the men's thoughts away from himself. "Hurry up, lads, and you may get back in time to see the fun, for he'll have to die, that's sure."
Not another word reached the boat. Yet, Young Glory felt by no means safe. He knew that a boat might be sent off to overtake him, and then he was lost entirely.
But as the minutes passed, and he heard no sound of pursuing oars, he became easier in his mind.
To get out of possible danger from shore, he ordered the men to row out towards the sea, but here he was beaten. The waves ran high and the boats were in great danger of being swamped. Back to the shore again he had to go, and adhere to the original plan of creeping along by the beach.
The coast was rocky hereabout.
Suddenly above their heads a figure, which looked unnaturally tall in the darkness, rose on a great bowlder which overshadowed the water.
"You have a traitor in that boat!" cried this apparition. "The man with you is not Captain Calderon. It is Young Glory!"
These words produced a panic.
It was a wonder that the boats were not overturned. The men stopped rowing, and so the craft containing the ammunition drifted up against them, and they were all in a mass together.
The actions of many of the men were most violent and threatening. They uttered fierce cries, and assailed Young Glory with menaces.
"To your work," he cried, bravely, thinking yet that he might overawe them.
But they took no notice.
"I am your captain," said Young Glory. "Obey my orders!"
"You are a traitor!"
"Seize him! Kill him!"
These were the cries that were now heard. But a clear voice came from the shore. It was that of the man who had denounced Young Glory.
"Do not kill him," he said. "Traitors must be treated differently. Make a prisoner of him."
"Who are you who give your orders?" asked one of the men. "You seem to own us!"
"Own or not," was the stern answer, "it will be bad for those who refuse to obey me. I am Jose Castro!"
There was a buzz of astonishment.
Everyone had heard of the famous Spanish spy, whose services to Spain in the war had been immense.
"Jose Castro!" muttered Young Glory. "And I thought I had seen his hated face for the last time when he sank in the river at Seville. Such men never die. I am lost," he added, "but I will die fighting!"
Three men came towards him. They were bent on carrying out the spy's orders, and were about to seize him.
"Stand back!" he cried, defiantly.
"We are fifty to one. To fight is useless," said the Spanish soldier. "You will be killed."
"Then I will die fighting. Back! I say," he added, as the men pressed forward. "I will never be taken alive!"
"We shall see!"
The three men rushed at Young Glory.
Instantly he drew his sword. Around his head it flashed.
Then down it came on the nearest man's head. He dropped. A moment later one of his companions was lying in his blood. The third man hesitated.
"This shall cost you dearly," said Young Glory, defiantly, as he faced the crowd.
"No, no! There must be no firing," said one of the sergeants. "A noise will bring the guns of the American cruiser on us. Once more, will you surrender?"
"Rush at him, men. Cut him to pieces if he resists."
Such an order is easier given than obeyed. Men cannot move about a boat with perfect freedom, and Young Glory standing in the stern was a desperate foe.
The fight was renewed.
It was a repetition of what had previously taken place.
Two men fell before Young Glory's terrible sword, and the boy himself was not hurt.
But now a diversion took place.
Young Glory heard the sound of oars behind him, and he saw on turning his head, that one of the Spanish boats was hastily coming up. Attacked on both sides the end was certain.
It was necessary to do something at once. To jump into the water was no good. The boats would row after him and capture him in a few minutes. In the sea he would be quite powerless to defend himself.
"Now will you surrender?" cried the sergeant.[Pg 12]
"The boat will be on you in a minute. You will be between two fires."
"I care not."
"He's a brave fellow!" cried the sergeant, tauntingly. "Look at him, lads."
"We can't see his face."
"He'll keep this bluff up to the last, lads. Then he'll whine for mercy."
"But let's see him."
The sergeant seized a torch, and instantly set fire to it.
There was a glare of light.
"Look at the hero!" he cried.
"Are you mad?" shouted Jose Castro, from the rock. "Do you want everyone to know where you are? Out with that flame if you value your lives!"
"Not yet!" cried Young Glory, springing forward like lightning. He seized the burning torch, and with a quick movement tore it from the sergeant's hand.
Then he jumped back to his post on the stern seat of the boat, and instantly he began to wave the torch above his head.
Jose Castro was furious.
"Kill him, kill him!" he shouted.
"He has a few minutes to live, that's all!"
Still Young Glory waved the torch, hoping it might be seen by those on the cruiser Brooklyn. Even then it was doubtful if they could do anything.
The boat that had been coming up at the stern missed its mark, and ran in between the two ammunition boats.
Then Young Glory saw that he was saved for a few minutes at all events. The torch still waved, and Jose Castro stormed and raved at the men in the boats.
"Listen," said Young Glory.
"I have a word to say."
"Don't let the traitor speak!"
"Be silent!" exclaimed the sergeant. "Well, what is it?"
"I will make terms with you."
"You make terms?"
"Yes. I have the best of the situation now."
The Spaniards roared with laughter at this view of the situation.
Young Glory was really only seeking to gain time.
"Put me on shore, and I will give up the torch."
"Yes, don't you see that if I continue to wave it, the American cruisers will fire and send you all to the bottom of the sea?"
"Oh, that doesn't matter! If I can take fifty Spaniards there with me, I shall be satisfied."
Jose Castro had heard enough of this talk to know what it meant.
"Why parley with the dog?" he shouted. "If you are men, you will kill him!"
Now was the critical point. The end seemed at hand.
The second boat rushed at Young Glory.
Quick as a flash he sprang from the stern of the boat where he had been standing, into the nearest of the two boats that contained the ammunition.
The boat that was coming up, rushed in, locking itself between the other two boats.
"You will kill me, you say!" hissed Young Glory through his clenched teeth. "Try it on! If you move one step, or one of you raises a finger I will set fire to the powder, and blow you all up!"
A fearful cry arose from the men.
Many of them were so appalled that they sprang into the water and began to swim to shore.
The other men, afraid to move, stood motionless as statues.
"Dan! Dan!" shouted Young Glory now. "I believe he's near. I heard a noise."
The men looked suspiciously at him.
Jose Castro was very ready with his advice.
"Cut your boats adrift!" he cried.
"No," returned Young Glory. "No man must move or lift a finger, or I fire the powder."
Young Glory clearly commanded the situation, but how long would it last? One of the men who had swam ashore might have a rifle, and if so, no doubt he would fire at Young Glory.
But the sergeant was not satisfied even with this. For he saw that if Young Glory fell dead in the ammunition boat the torch would fall too, and then what would happen? It was too dreadful to think about.
It was Jose Castro who was firing. But as he was only possessed of a six-shooter and the distance was great, Young Glory did not stand in fear of any of the bullets the spy might send.
However, he told him to desist, as it was quite possible he might do some injury. Jose sternly declined, and when Young Glory threatened to blow up the boats, he told him to do so.
"Well, let him fire," muttered Young Glory. "He does good, really, for he's making a noise, and that's what I want. Dan! Dan!"
Here Young Glory began to shout again.
"Faith, it's here I am!" said a well known voice, and immediately the bow of a boat shot around the nearest point of land.
"Alone!" cried Young Glory, in dismay. He had expected to see Dan come with not less than three of the cruiser's boats.
It was a terrible disappointment.
"Shure, an' it was your cries that brought me."
"And you didn't see the light?"
"Where are the others?"
"The skipper didn't send them."
"Begorra, it's not near the cruiser I've been at all, at all."
"That accounts for it," muttered Young Glory.[Pg 13] "Well, I'm in a pretty mess now, and I've dragged Dan into it, which is worse."
"It's a great illumination ye have there, Young Glory."
"An' mebbe it's friends of yours these gentlemen are?"
"Very good friends. See! there's not one of them will do anything to hurt me."
"Because, Dan, I'm standing with powder and shot all around me, and if I happened to drop this torch—I threatened to do it—the consequence would be very serious."
"Is it here ye're afther stayin' the night?"
"I can't go, Dan, an' I won't let these friends of mine leave me."
"It's mighty awkward."
"Yes, we'll go!" shouted Young Glory. "A good idea's just come into my head."
"It's the great head, is yours!"
"Now, Dan, have you a six-shooter?"
"Then take it."
"Go round the boats to each of the Spaniards you see sitting here."
"You'll make him hand over his arms, sword and gun, mind, and six-shooter. Even a stilletto, if he has such a thing."
"Faith, I won't be afther lavin' the spalpeens wid a pen-knife."
"Very well. Do your work, and do it quickly. Every moment counts now."
Dan went to work with a vengeance. Not a man offered resistance. What, between Young Glory's torch and Dan's six-shooter the men were fairly cowed, and one after another they handed over their weapons. Dan Daly threw them carelessly at the bottom of his boat.
"It's no arms they have, but fists now, Young Glory, an' shure they don't count, for a Spaniard wants a knife in his hand, anyway."
"Very good. Now take your oars," said Young Glory, sternly. "The boats' heads are pointed to sea. Pull right out with all your strength. If any man refuses, I'll shoot him dead!"
Not a man refused to obey.
Young Glory's actions had terrorized them.
Instantly they bent over their oars, and the boats once more began to move. Young Glory, torch in hand, still stood in the bow of one of the ammunition boats.
Jose Castro danced about like a maniac on the shore.
"You shall all be shot!" he cried. "The general will have you killed as traitors."
But the men rowed on, despite Jose's threats.
Dan Daly had started up when he heard the noise.
"Faith, an' I know the gentleman," he said, "though it's his name that's not in my mind now."
"It's Jose Castro."
"True, Dan. There's no killing him."
"Shure, an' there's no tellin'."
The Irishman took up one of the rifles that lay at the bottom of the boat. It was loaded. He put it to his shoulder and fired.
Then he took another and fired.
But by this time Jose had vanished. He had no desire to become a target for Dan Daly's rifle practice.
Meanwhile, the boats were rapidly nearing the shore behind, and fortunately the waves had fallen, or it would have gone hard with everybody.
Young Glory was keenly searching the water for the cruiser. He thought it possible that seeing the torch burning, he might show a light. This, of course was doubtful, for war ships in an enemy's waters, never display a light of any kind at night.
"The cruiser!" shouted Young Glory, joyfully.
"Arrah! but it's sinkin' us she'll be."
"No, no, Dan. It's a shot across our bows. I'll wave the light again."
"An' faith it's little good that'll do."
"But it will. It shows we are not an enemy, for enemies don't give notice of their coming."
Young Glory continued to wave the torch, and the boats proceeded slowly.
"I see it!"
"What! Young Glory?"
"The cruiser. Look, Dan, you can just make it out in the darkness."
"Shure, an' ye're right."
"Give them a hail."
"Ahoy there! Ship ahoy!"
"Who are you?"
"Faith, an' it's Dan Daly's squadron arrivin'!"
From the cruiser came a burst of laughter. Evidently the people there had recognized the Irishman's voice.
The boats were nearer to the cruiser than they appeared to be, and a few minutes after this talk they were alongside the Brooklyn.
Instantly Dan Daly bounded up the gangway.
"Yes, sir," answered Dan, saluting. "It's back I'm glad to be."
"And I'm very glad to see you, Daly," answered Captain Miles, for it was he.
There was a crowd of officers standing around him. Late though it was, they were mostly on deck, for the light shown near the shore had excited their curiosity, and for a long time past they had been watching it, and discussing its meaning.[Pg 14]
"It's some friends of mine below, sir. It's meself wants to ask 'em aboard."
"Arrah! an' ye'd betther be steppin' up lively, ye spalpeens. It's the skipper himself's waitin' to see ye."
Not a word of this speech did any of the Spaniards understand, but Young Glory instantly translated it for their benefit.
One after another they slowly filed up the gangway.
There were not less than forty of them, and it may be imagined that their appearance created a great sensation.
"Spaniards!" cried Captain Miles. "Why, it's a regular army."
"Widout arms, Yer Honor," said Dan. "It's meself has their guns and swords."
"This is most extraordinary, and what's this?"
"I report myself returned, sir."
The skipper staggered back a few paces, he was so astounded.
"There are about forty rifles and as many cutlasses in the boats below, sir."
"They must be brought on board at once."
"That is not all, sir."
"Is there more, Young Glory?"
"Yes, sir. There are two large boats also filled with ammunition."
"That must be brought aboard, too."
The captain turned to the lieutenant-commander, and gave the necessary orders.
"Now, Young Glory, you and Dan Daly will come to my cabin at once. I want to hear all that's happened."
And he sat spellbound whilst Young Glory related the whole story, beginning with Dan's escape, and ending with the capture of the boats.
"It's a letter I had for you, sir," said Dan, "but faith, I couldn't get out to sea."
"The letter is no good now, Dan. Tear it up."
"No, no!" exclaimed Captain Miles, eagerly, taking possession of it. "This letter shall be preserved. It will be a memento of one of the bravest actions ever done by an American seaman."
It was little rest that Dan and Young Glory had that night.
Their comrades insisted on hearing every detail of their marvelous adventures, and the day had dawned before they sank to rest.
Each of them was indulged with an unusual allowance of sleep that night, on account of their great exertions, and when they awoke and went on deck, the shores of Cuba had faded from sight, and the gallant Cruiser Brooklyn was steaming through the Caribbean sea in an easterly direction.
"Where are we bound?" was the universal question now.
"Ask Young Glory. He knows everything," laughingly said one of the men.
"It's Porto Rico we're going to," cried one of the sailors. "I heard an officer say so."
"Porto Rico! That belongs to Spain, eh?" asked one of the sailors.
"Spain! Why, no! China, of course!"
The men were in the highest spirits now. They had not enjoyed the work of the past few days, cruising about off Valmosa and Monterey. Inaction is the last thing a blue jacket appreciates.
Now there was always something to do, and Captain Miles, a first-class officer, saw that everything was done to perfection.
"If we do go into action," he said, "it will not be our fault if we are beaten!"
The run to Porto Rico took some days.
The lookout men were on the alert, expecting to sight land every minute.
Suddenly there was a shout from one of them.
"Porto Rico at last!" cried one of the sailors, joyfully.
"A sail!" cried the lookout man.
"On the port bow!"
One of the officers instantly went to the top with his binocular, bringing it to bear on a small, far distant speck on the ocean.
"A sail, surely," he said, "but what is it?"
"Well, sir?" shouted Captain Miles.
"It is a sail, sir."
"What do you make of it, Mr. Robson?"
"Hard to say. Certainly not a battle ship, nor even a gun-boat."
"Looks like a small boat, sir. Perhaps there may be people aboard, but at present it's impossible to say."
Mr. Robson was a lieutenant on the Brooklyn. He had been early in the war on the battle ship Indiana. There Young Glory had served under him, and had learned to appreciate the attention to duty and the bravery displayed by this gallant officer.
He and Captain Miles paced the deck now, talking over what should be done.
"I should send a boat, sir."
"We shall see in a minute or two what is best to be done, Mr. Robson. We're running directly for the sail."
"It's not a boat, sir!" cried Mr. Robson, after a while.
"Not a boat?"
"You're right," said the captain, after another look. "A raft, sure enough, and what's more, is that there are people on it. Order out two boats."
"They must start for the raft at once."
To lower the boats and man them does not take[Pg 15] long on board a man-of-war. Every man knows his place, and the operation proceeds like clock work.
In a few minutes they were flying over the water towards the raft. Very soon they saw it was crowded with people. Some of them raised their hands as they saw the boats draw near.
"Poor souls!" said Dan Daly. "It's shipwrecked they are, an' starvin' too."
"Well, it won't take many minutes to remedy that, Dan."
"Pull hard, lads!" cried Mr. Robson. "Every minute counts in a case like this."
What a sight met the eyes of the blue jackets.
Half of the occupants of the raft were dead men. The survivors seemed to be, many of them, at the point of death. Very few had strength enough to rise even to a sitting position.
"No time for talking, lads," said Lieutenant Robson. "Get them back to the ship at once."
"And the dead, sir?"
"Throw them over. It's all that can be done."
Some stimulants had been taken with the boats, and by the time that the Brooklyn was reached one of the men had recovered sufficiently to talk. The others were carried below and given at once into the hands of the surgeon.
"You have suffered very much," said Captain Miles, kindly.
"Yes, but our troubles are over at last."
"You feel strong enough to talk?"
"Yes, captain. I'm the mate of the Mary Parker, a fruit ship bound from Rio Janeiro to New Orleans. We were attacked by the Spaniards, and our ship was captured."
"What was done with it?"
"The cargo—that is, the valuable part of it—was taken by the Spaniard, and our ship was sunk."
"And how came you on the water?"
"Oh, that is a terrible story. The Spaniards would not take us on board. The captain said that he had too many mouths to feed as it was."
"Wait. Many of the Spanish officers proposed that we should be sunk with the ship. It would save time, they said. Sometimes I think it would have been better if they had carried out their intention, for my poor comrades suffered torments before they died."
"It was merciless!"
"Then these men held a conference. After a lot of talk they came to a decision. It was decided that the carpenter should rig out a raft in a hasty fashion, and that we were to be put aboard it. And so we were. They sent us adrift on a few timbers without a bite to eat, or one drop of water."
Captain Miles was aghast.
The officers of the Brooklyn who had drawn close to listen, were loud in their expressions of indignation.
"The brutes! the inhuman brutes!" said the skipper. "And these are the men for whom some misguided people feel pity."
"An object lesson like this," said the lieutenant-commander, "shows how much pity they deserve."
"As we left the Spaniard," continued the mate of the Mary Parker, "the wretches on board hooted and jeered at us. We heard some of them propose that they should have some rifle practice on us, but this was rejected, because it was too merciful a death. Five days we passed beneath a burning sun, suffering cruel thirst and hunger. Of twenty men who went on the raft, but nine remain."
Captain Miles was silent. The horrors to which he had listened had affected him deeply, it was some moments before he spoke.
"Tell me, if you can, the name of the ship that captured you."
"It was a Spanish cruiser, the Cristobal Colon."
"The Cristobal Colon! That name will stick in my memory, my friend, until I have revenged you and your shipmates. Do you think it's likely that the Spanish cruiser is in these waters now?"
"Yes, I heard enough while I was aboard of her to make me think so. Her mission is to prey on American commerce."
"We will catch her."
"It's not easy. She does her work, then dashes into the harbor of San Juan and finds safety."
"We shall find a way, never fear."
The treatment of the American sailors by the Spaniards had roused the men's passions to the boiling point. The Cristobal Colon would have a bad time if the two ships came to close quarters.
For three days the Brooklyn cruised around Porto Rico. Not a sign did she see of the enemy.
"Faith, we'll never have a sight of her."
"How's that, Dan?"
"She knows we're around. It's one of their Spanish fishin' vessels has seen us, and that's enough. It's out of San Juan she'll not be comin'."
Captain Miles thought the same as Dan, but he determined to remain, because even if he could not get near enough to the Cristobal Colon to attack her, yet he was able by remaining, to prevent the Spanish cruiser from leaving the port in order to prey on American commerce.
The next day a ship was sighted.
She evidently recognized the Brooklyn, for she flew the Stars and Stripes in a very short time.
"One of ours, boys!" cried a sailor, "and I know her, too."
"Yes. She's a gun-boat. She's the Nashville, and I was aboard her for two years."
"A good boat, Bill?"
"A very smart craft."
It was not long before the captains of the Nashville[Pg 16] and the Brooklyn were exchanging compliments. The skipper of the gun-boat came aboard the cruiser, and a long conference took place.
"So you'd heard of the Cristobal Colon, then?" said Captain Miles.
"Yes," answered Captain Long, of the gun-boat. "It was on her account I was ordered here. Admiral Jackson thought I might be able to help you. More than one ship has arrived in the gulf reporting a severe chase. She's doing great damage as a commerce destroyer, and the admiral says she must be checked."
"It's all very well for Admiral Jackson to talk that way," said Captain Miles, impatiently; "but just let him come here. He wouldn't be able to do any more than I'm doing."
"Of course, if she won't stir outside of San Juan it's difficult for us to act."
"What's to be done? A ship-load of wretches like that should not be at large. They're no better than wild beasts."
"I can't venture in shore."
"But I can, Captain Miles. My boat's very light draft. Supposing I have a look in at San Juan? I may find out something."
"A good idea, but be careful. The Cristobal Colon's a fast boat, and if she caught you, well, you know where you'd be, at the bottom of the sea in a very few minutes."
"I shall be cautious. My scheme will be to try and lure the Spaniards out of port."
"Ha! Ha! Try, by all means, but the fish won't always bite."
"You can do something for me."
"Spare me twenty men. That is, if you're not short-handed. I am."
"I can lend you twenty, but they won't like it at all, for they're all spoiling for a fight with this Spaniard, and they want to be here when the fun begins."
"But I must have them."
"Very well. Mr. Robson!"
"Twenty men wanted for the Nashville. We can spare them, and Captain Long is short-handed."
"Now," laughed Captain Long, "give me a fair selection, Mr. Robson. No cripple, mind."
"All our men are up to the mark."
"Good! The sooner you can send them aboard the better, for I want to start."
Lieutenant Robson lost no time. He had twenty men paraded on deck. Amongst them happened to be Young Glory and Dan Daly.
Lieutenant Robson passed his eye along them.
"If he doesn't like them," he said to himself, "he's hard to please."
In truth he would be, for a finer body of men never stepped the deck of a ship.
"What's up?" whispered one of the men.
"Shure, it's some fightin' for us!"
"Hope so, Dan."
"My men," said Lieutenant Robson, "the duty you are to be placed on, is not given to you because you have displeased the captain. On the contrary. But someone has to do it, and you have been chosen."
The men's faces fell at this speech.
"Yes, you are lent to the Nashville. You will go aboard at once, and my last word is—but I know it's unnecessary—that you will show your new skipper what the men of the Brooklyn can do."
The men were instantly dismissed. It took them a few minutes to collect their belongings, during which they received much sympathy from their comrades.
"You'll miss this fight, Young Glory."
"Don't talk about it," replied Young Glory, hotly. "It's enough to send a man crazy!"
"Shure, it's like desertin', I feel!"
"Do. There's no one to stop you, Dan, and it's very easy. You have only to step over the ship's sides into the mouth of the shark who's waiting there for you."
But Dan was too mad to reply.
He and his comrades very soon found themselves on the Nashville.
The first person they met aboard was Captain Long, whom they had not seen when he paid his visit to Captain Miles on the Brooklyn.
"Young Glory and Dan Daly!" cried Captain Long. "Well, this is a surprise. I can't complain now that they've sent me a poor lot of men."
Captain Long was a lieutenant of the Indiana, the first battle ship on which Young Glory had served during the war. He was only a young man, but he had on so many occasions displayed such conspicuous bravery, that he had been promoted to the rank of captain and placed in command of the gun-boat.
"It might be worse, Dan," said Young Glory.
"Because wherever Captain Long is there's fighting. That's a dead sure thing, and I wouldn't be surprised but what we'll have enough of it."
"Faith, an' it's plased I am to see an ould face."
"Old! Captain Long's young."
"Arrah! ye're a tasin' lad. It's yerself knows what I mane."
The Brooklyn had faded from sight now. The Nashville was running towards San Juan. The gun-boat did not mean to enter the harbor, but simply to cruise about in the hope that something might be seen of the Spanish cruiser.
One night the weather was very thick.
It was quite possible for a ship to leave the port without being seen, or even heard, for the waves stifled any sound she might have made.
Towards morning the weather cleared.
Young Glory was on watch duty and Captain Long happened to be near him.
"Can I have a word with you, sir?"
"Well, sir, I may be mistaken, but I feel positive[Pg 17] that the Cristobal Colon went out of port during the night."
"How do you make that out? You saw nothing."
"And heard nothing?"
"Very little. But this is what happened. I was looking over the ship's sides during the night, and a little after midnight, when the fog was thickest, there was a great rush of water towards our boat. The waves rose high, almost to the deck. What caused that? I said to myself, and there was only one explanation."
"It was the wash from a big steamer. I've no doubt of it."
"You have spoken of this?"
"Certainly, sir. It was my duty. I drew the attention of the officer of the watch to this, and he said he thought it was a tidal wave."
"And you did not agree with him?"
"Young Glory, I think your theory is the correct one. It seems reasonable. That boat's waited for thick weather so as to give us the slip. I must know."
"Why, if she's not in San Juan I must notify the Brooklyn at once, so that she may look after her; we don't want any more ships destroyed."
Captain Long lost not a moment.
All hands were called instantly.
The Nashville's course was changed, and she steered straight for the harbor of San Juan.
The men were all excited now. It was a desperate mission upon which they were bound, and they knew it. The enterprise affected men differently. Some of the sailors looked stern and determined. Dan Daly smiled the first time for a week.
As for Young Glory, he was in his element.
The Nashville had now entered the harbor, quite regardless of the guns or the forts. Captain Long held these antiquated weapons in contempt.
Rapidly his eye scanned the horizon.
"Young Glory was right," he exclaimed; "the Cristobal Colon has sailed from Porto Rico."
He ordered the ship put about, and the Nashville was once more steaming towards the ocean, when a startling sight met all eyes.
The Cristobal Colon hove in view. She was steaming into the harbor, coming towards the Nashville.
Everyone knew what it meant. There was no possibility of escape. The Spaniard barred the way to the ocean, and there was no passing her.
Cruiser against gun-boat! That was the situation.
It was to be a fight against odds!
Instantly all was excitement on the Nashville.
Captain Long saw how serious matters were.
Single-handed he had to fight against the Spanish cruiser, for it was certain that the Brooklyn could give no assistance.
"My lads!" he said, "the odds against us are terrific. All the more reason why we should fight bravely. Let us show the Spaniards to-day what Americans can do."
"Hurrah! Hurrah!" answered the crew, and a ringing cheer went up.
The men knew no fear, and strong hearts count for much in a sea fight.
"Clear the decks for action!" was the order now.
Everything movable was instantly carried away. The decks were stripped bare.
"You have your wish now, Dan," said Young Glory.
"Yes, faith, it's all the fightin' I'll want. Begorra, but it's glad I am I came."
Dan went away and Young Glory was alone.
On the deck of the ship stood Young Glory, ready for the fight, with his eyes on the Spanish cruiser.
Proudly the American flag flew, and when the men saw the Stars and Stripes waving in the breeze, they realized that they had something to die for.
The Spaniard was coming slowly along now.
The gun-boat had slackened speed, but had not changed its position.
Captain Long was discussing the situation with his lieutenant, and the men at the guns were busily doing the same thing.
"It's a fine ship," said one of the men.
"Why, Dan, how in thunder can you ask such a question? The Spaniard, I mean, of course."
"An' it's a quare name it has."
"Cristobal Colon! Oh! that's named after Columbus."
"Ah! it's himself would be the sad man if he could see his own people now."
"Never mind about that, Dan, this is a fine ship, and don't you forget it."
Dan shrugged his shoulders scornfully, and put a plug of tobacco in his mouth.
"Arrah! it's the little boat for me."
"But think of their guns."
"What of them?"
"Why, they've two ten-inch breech-loading rifles, and she has between thirty and forty quick firing guns."
"An' faith, we have eight."
"An' enough," answered Dan, obstinately. "One American equals ten Spaniards. That's my way of looking at it, so, begorra, eight guns equal eighty. Shure, an' it's all in our favor."
Having made this wonderful calculation, Dan walked away with a satisfied expression on his face.
Captain Long had been speaking to Young Glory. It was an unusual thing for an officer to take advice from a seaman, but then Young Glory was a seaman of no common order. Everybody knew that his place[Pg 18] was the quarter deck, and that time and again he had refused the promotion which had been offered him.
"There can be only one result," said Captain Long.
"And the fight won't last long."
"You think not, sir?"
"No, one shot from one of their big guns will put us out of the way if it strikes."
"Then it mustn't strike."
"It can't be prevented. The Spaniards are poor gunners, that's our only chance."
"Hulloa, she's opened fire!"
The Spanish cruiser began the attack by firing one of her great guns from the barbette in the bows.
The shot went very wide of the mark, and the Yankee sailors shouted with derision.
They were all at the guns waiting the order to commence. But Captain Long was in no hurry.
Another gun from the Spaniard.
"You see, sir, they can't hit us," said Young Glory.
"There's a heavy swell on, and it's almost impossible to train those big guns on us."
"We'll see if we can't do better. Her armor is only three inches thick, steel it's true, but what of that. One good shot may smash through a barbette, anyway."
Then the fight really began.
The rapid firing guns were at work now. Occasionally the deep boom of one of the great ten-inch rifles would be heard, but these latter guns can only be fired at long intervals. It takes time to clean them, load again and fire.
What was Young Glory doing?
He was at one of the bow guns of the Nashville, the largest she was carrying, an eight-inch breech-loader.
Young Glory had for the time superseded the officer of this gun, for it was a critical moment, and Captain Long knew that if Young Glory could not do the required work, there was no one on board who could.
The accuracy of the young hero had been proved in many a hard fight at sea.
Coolly he directed operations, with Dan Daly assisting him.
"An' faith, it's a poor mark," said the latter.
"I have my orders."
"Shure ye have, Young Glory, but it's meself would rather be afther firin' at the big ship herself."
"Dan, you're a good fellow and I'm particularly fond of you, but you wouldn't make a great general. Now, see here, Dan, if I can manage to hit that turret I'll put one of their great guns out of action. That's a tremendous gain."
"It's yerself knows best," said Dan, and he added to himself, "or ye'd prove to me ye knew best anyway."
Dan was working like a hero.
Two of his comrades at the gun had been carried below, badly wounded by some splinters from a shell.
The sight of his comrades' blood infuriated the Irishman, and it animated the other men also.
As for Young Glory, there was apparently no difference in him. He was as cool as ever.
It was his work to sight and train the gun, and each time that it was fired, anxious eyes followed the shot to see whether it would be a success.
"Bah! I'll never hit it!" cried Young Glory, in disgust, after his last unsuccessful shot. "It's the swell on the water. It's almost impossible to take aim; you can't do it with any accuracy."
"Murther!" cried Dan, "but those spalpeens can!"
As he spoke a shot had come from the enemy's ship, and it tore away one of the ship's boats, but doing no other damage. Several men had narrow escapes from the splinters of the shell. Boats are invariably a source of danger in naval fights, and it is the custom for battle ships to get rid of most of their boats before the action begins.
Captain Long was very anxious now.
The last few shots from the Spanish cruiser showed that her gunners were getting the range and elevation. At any moment a shot might come and sink the gun-boat.
Several times he cast anxious eyes seaward, hoping that the noise of the fight might bring the Brooklyn to the port.
Alas! this was not to be. The fine American cruiser was yet far away.
The gun-boat had suffered a serious loss in men. A number of the seamen had been struck by shots fired from the machine guns, and Captain Long knew he could ill afford such losses.
"One good shot from you may give us a fighting chance."
"I am doing all I can, sir."
"That I know."
Young Glory had been almost ready to fire as Captain Long spoke to him. Now he did so.
"A hit!" cried the man. "A hit!"
"A knock-out blow!" shouted Dan, excitedly. "It's yourself won't come up to time."
The wind blew the thick smoke away for a few minutes, and when it was clear all eyes were fixed on the Spanish cruiser. It was seen at once that Young Glory's last shot had been successful.
The barbette was smashed.
The eight-inch gun of the Nashville had sent a shot right against it. Confusion reigned on the cruiser. Men were running hither and thither. They were carrying off the wounded, and others, hastily summoned from below, machinists, carpenters and the like, were busily engaged in trying to make good the damage.
"Ye may work yer hardest," said Dan, shaking[Pg 19] his fist at the enemy, "but it's that gun won't bark any more this blessed day."
"You never said a truer word, Dan!" exclaimed Captain Long, merrily.
Young Glory's shot had put him in a good humor.
"My lads," he cried, "the big do not always win in battle. First blood is ours! Work your hardest, and the last blood will be ours, too!"
"Hurrah!" came from a hundred throats.
Meanwhile, Young Glory was working busily at the gun again, having very little to say, but listening intently to what was going on, and feeling very much amazed at Dan's running comments on the progress of the fight.
Captain Long was on deck in the conning tower. He called his lieutenant, Mr. Tyler, over.
"A new move on, Mr. Tyler."
"Looks like it, sir."
"What does it mean?"
"They're trying to get at us with their broadside guns."
"By jingo, but you're right! Well, that move must be stopped if possible!"
Captain Long gave the necessary orders, and as fast as the Spanish cruiser tried to bring its broadside guns into play, so did the Nashville maneuver so as to keep its bow head on to the Spaniard.
Meanwhile, the guns of the Nashville were busily at work, and more damage had been done to the cruiser. The din was terrific, and for the most part the two ships were enveloped in such a thick cloud of smoke, that it was quite impossible to see what they were doing.
The Nashville had little steam on, for she had been lying to during the fight. Suddenly the Cristobal Colon put on a great burst of speed, and came dashing through the water toward the gun-boat.
"She's going to ram us!"
"Sink her! Stop her!"
These cries came from all parts of the ship.
The excitement was terrific. The Spaniard was firing her guns as she came on, the Nashville was replying. Captain Long was working to stave off the impending disaster. Hastily the engineer got up steam. The gun-boat was well under way again.
"This dodging about can have only one end, sir," said Young Glory to the captain.
"Yes, an end for us."
"Exactly. There's only one way to save ourselves."
"I know none. Once those broadside guns get into play on us it will soon be over. They are bound to sink us at this distance. The worst gunners in the world could not miss."
"Don't give them the chance."
"How, Young Glory?"
"Run boldly up to her, sir."
"It's neck or nothing. Let all hands be ready, and once we're alongside of the Spaniard, we must board her and take her by storm."
The captain was thunderstruck. This audacious proposal fairly took his breath away. It was difficult for him to reply. Meanwhile, Young Glory respectfully awaited an answer.
"Listen. Young Glory proposes to run into the Spaniard and board her."
"It's the only way to save ourselves."
"Save ourselves, Young Glory! Do you know what you're talking about?"
"I generally do, sir."
"Then take note of this. The Cristobal Colon has a complement of five hundred officers and men. What have we?"
"And they are enough, sir."
"Mr. Tyler, it is not a question of whether we have enough, but what are we to do. We shall be sunk for a certainty in a few minutes."
"Board the Spaniard, sir. Board her. I'm with you heart and soul. We'll die fighting."
"No, we will live and triumph!"
As Young Glory said these words his eyes flashed fire, and his looks more than his words brought hope to each of his officers.
Instantly the call for boarders was heard.
The two ships were nearing each other now, the Spaniard rapidly getting into a commanding position. Those on board of the Cristobal Colon were astounded at the action of the gun-boat. Here she was coming at the cruiser as if with the intention of ramming her.
It seemed madness. What chance would such a small craft have against the great Spanish cruiser?
The Spaniards were in high glee.
They anticipated an easy victory.
"The ship will be sunk in a few minutes," said Captain Moret, who commanded the Spaniard, "and those American pigs with her."
"Pardon me, captain," said a lieutenant.
"I wish to make a suggestion."
"If the ship is sunk, she is no use to us."
"Whereas if we capture her, she will be a very valuable prize, in fact, just the kind of a boat we want. Those men must know they have no chance. Call on them to surrender. They are almost within earshot now. Depend upon it if you offer them good treatment they will hand over their boat, and think they've got out of the hole they're in very well."
"Caramba! lieutenant, but you speak well. Ho! there!"[Pg 20]
The captain spoke English, and as there was a lull in the firing he was able to make himself heard.
"I hear you!"
It was Captain Long who answered.
"Strike your flag and surrender, and you shall be treated as prisoners of war."
"Hear my answer?" exclaimed Captain Long, furiously.
The guns of the Nashville poured in a broadside. That was the American reply.
"Sink the dogs!" roared Captain Moret, savagely. "Sink them, they deserve no better fate."
The last broadside of the Nashville had done some damage, but what could not be seen for the clouds of smoke that obscured the view.
The two ships were close to each other now.
The guns of the cruiser were replying now. Here the size of the Nashville was her safeguard. She lay low in the water, and being so near to the cruiser the shot of the latter passed over her decks. One of the topmasts was carried away, and two men were crushed by its fall, so the gun-boat got off lightly.
"Ready, men, ready."
Mr. Tyler, as executive officer stood ready to lead the boarders. Young Glory and Dan Daly, burning with impatience, were near him.
Slowly, amid the smoke, the two ships drifted towards each other. Then with a crash they met. Quick as lightning ladders were thrown from the gun-boat on to the cruiser.
The men swarmed up the sides of the Cristobal Colon like cats.
Captain Moret was astounded. He had never dreamed that the Americans would resort to such desperate tactics. Being completely surprised, he had made no preparations to repel boarders, and such of his men who were not at the guns were in the tops.
The result was that the blue jackets of the Nashville obtained a secure footing on the cruiser's deck.
But Captain Moret was not idle.
"Sweep these dogs from the deck!" he cried, savagely.
Dan fired and missed the captain by a hairbreadth.
"It's a more civil tongue in your head I'd have ye kapin'!" cried the Irishman.
The Spaniards had formed to repel the attack now. By the hundred they rushed on to the deck of the ship. From the tops Spanish riflemen kept up a withering fire on the enemy.
Captain Long saw this. Instantly he put his riflemen at work.
With deadly aim the American riflemen fired. One by one the Spaniards dropped dead in the tops, and those who did not, climbed down from their elevated positions to seek a less dangerous spot.
A hand to hand fight was going on.
The Americans and Spaniards had met on the deck of the cruiser in a fierce contest. Nothing was heard but the clash of steel, the firing of pistols, and the shouts of the fighters.
The Spaniards were three to one, for the Americans had left a large part of their force on the gun-boat. It was quite impossible to employ all the blue jackets in the attack on the cruiser.
Young Glory was in the front of the battle, laying about him with his cutlass. Mr. Tyler, leading the sailors, was fighting by his side. Dan Daly was not far off, and Dan's quaint remarks could be heard above everybody's voice.
The Spanish officers kept somewhat in the background, urging their men to the attack, by every means in their power.
"Arrah! it's hidin' ye are!" shouted Dan. "It's here ye ought to be. It's yer foine gold lace I'd be afther seein'!"
But even this invitation did not tempt the officers of the cruiser to come to closer quarters.
One by one the men dropped. The enemy's loss was far the greater, but they were able to sustain it better than the Americans.
Mr. Tyler saw this, and wished to end matters.
"Follow me!" he cried, bravely, turning to his men and waving his sword.
With a cheer, led by Young Glory, the blue jackets sprang forward and dashed at the Spaniards. The latter, appalled by the fury of the attack gave way.
But it was only for an instant. The Spanish officers struck their men with the flat of their swords, compelling them to stand their ground. More than one Spanish sailor was pistoled as an example to the others.
Like desperate men they rallied. On they came, bearing back the Americans by force of numbers.
To the ground fell Mr. Tyler.
A dozen Spaniards rushed at him.
"Take him prisoner!" cried Captain Moret.
Young Glory and Dan Daly flew to the rescue.
By the time they had reached their leader he was on his feet again with his face to the foe.
"Unhurt!" he cried, with a smile; "slipped, that was all!"
"An' that spalpeen slipped, too!" laughed Dan, as he cut a Spaniard down with a furious blow from his cutlass.
Two men rushed at Dan to avenge their fallen comrade. Just at this instant, as Young Glory was going to Dan's assistance, his sword slipped from his grasp falling to the deck, some distance away.
If Dan was to be saved no time must be lost. Young Glory saw this, and not an instant did he hesitate.
He flew at the nearest Spaniard, without a weapon, and seizing the man by the neck, Young Glory hurled him furiously away. The man rolled over and over on the deck, finally landing against one of the turrets, and lying there unconscious from the force of the blow.
The Spaniards stood aghast at this exhibition of[Pg 21] strength. By this time Young Glory had obtained another cutlass, and Dan had relieved himself of his remaining foe.
The fight became general again. Mr. Tyler was acting on the defensive now. If he could only sustain the contest, he felt convinced that he could tire out the Spaniards.
His men were shooting down the enemy rapidly, and, besides, the riflemen on the Nashville were doing terrible damage.
All at once there was a lull.
The Spaniards called off their men. They got into shelter, and ceased to attack the Americans.
"What does it mean?"
"Sir, it's enough they've had."
"Looks like it, Dan."
"It's givin' up they'll be in a minute."
"No," said Young Glory, decidedly.
"Why, what d'you mean?"
"I know what they're doing, sir. I heard the calls and caught some of the orders given, and I understand them. We shall have the hottest time of all."
"Captain Moret has rallied together all the men on the ship, every man of them, and they'll come against us like an avalanche."
"They will sweep us from the ship!" cried Mr. Tyler, aghast at the prospect.
Even Dan Daly was silent. For once the Irishman could not see a bit of blue sky in the prospect.
"It's retreatin' we ought to be!" cried the Irishman.
"And have them attack our ship?"
"Faith, it's there I want to lure the spalpeens; we'd have an aisy mark on the Nashville. Shure, sir," asked Dan in an injured tone, "it wasn't afraid you thought I was?"
"No, no, Dan."
"Begorra, an' it's betther I feel. But where's Young Glory?"
"Young Glory! why, he's gone!"
Yes, that was the fact. Young Glory had deserted in the thick of the fight, and a blank look of despair came over every face when they saw what had happened.
"Deserted! shown the white feather!" muttered Lieutenant Tyler. "I couldn't have believed it of Young Glory."
"An' shure, if ye did, sir, ye'd be decavin' yourself," said Dan, hotly, sticking up for his chum through thick and thin.
"But he's gone!" was the cry.
"Begorra! P'haps the poor lad's hurt. Faith, it's a Spanish bullet he may have in him, worse luck. Fear and Young Glory can't be coupled together, me lads. It's Dan Daly tells you so, an' it's himself that knows."
"They're forming for the attack, my men."
"Stand firm, lads."
"We will die where we stand."
"That's the way to talk."
The men, desperate though their situation was, were as defiant as ever. The blue jacket who proposed making terms with the enemy would have had a very hot time. But to the credit of these sailors, it may be said, that they were all heroes, and not a man amongst them knew what fear meant.
Cutlass in hand, sternly they stood facing the foe.
"No quarter!" cried a Spanish officer. "We have offered it once, and they replied with a broadside. Forward to the attack for your king and country!"
Roused to a pitch of frenzy by this address, the Spaniards waved their swords in the air. Then, in a close column, they thundered along the deck to where the small, but devoted band of American blue jackets awaited the attack.
Lieutenant Tyler glanced round involuntarily. It was like a man taking his last look at the earth.
The lieutenant was as brave as a lion, but he saw only one issue to the fight.
"Would that Young Glory were here!" he cried. "He's equal to twenty men!"
Then the two forces closed in a fierce fight.
Back the Americans retreated. Well they might do so.
The enemy was more than four to one, and the weight of numbers was irresistible. But the Nashville's blue jackets fought desperately, and for every American sailor that fell, four Spaniards were stretched on the deck.
"The victory shall cost them dear!" hissed Mr. Tyler.
He knew that his men would fight to the last.
Captain Moret, entirely unmoved, saw his men falling like flies. What did he care? A Spanish officer places no value on the lives of those under him, and besides, he knew that his men must win.
Ha! what was that?
A terrific shout was heard now, above the clashing of steel.
"Young Glory to the rescue!"
That was the cry that came from fifty lips.
Then in a moment all saw what had happened.
Captain Moret had stripped the fore part of the ship bare of men in order to concentrate them with the rest of his forces in making one final attack on the enemy.
The quick eye of Young Glory had detected the weak spot instantly.
"Young Glory to the rescue!" shouted the blue jackets, and on they came, taking the Spaniards in the rear.
Even now the men of the Cristobal Colon had nothing to fear, for they still vastly outnumbered the[Pg 22] Americans, but this sudden and unexpected attack in the rear caused a panic.
Young Glory's terrible sword aided to the fear that filled the breasts of the Spaniards. All within reach of him dropped to the deck.
"Forward, men!" cried Lieutenant Tyler, "the enemy weakens. Now is our chance!"
The Spaniards were a huddled and confused mass of human beings now. The last vestige of discipline had gone, and the officers who yet remained, struggled in vain with their men to inspire them with courage.
"Dogs!" they cried, "the day is ours yet!"
"Faith, it's sorry to contradict ye, I am!" shouted Dan Daly, still in the front of the battle.
"Halloa, Dan!" cried Young Glory, looking across the intervening foe. "This is a great day!"
Dan could say no more. He could not find any expression that exactly fitted the case.
The Spaniards now were throwing down their arms.
Captain Moret, in despair, rushed into the thick of the fight, endeavoring to rally his men.
"Cowards!" he cried, furiously. "This is a black day for Spain!"
"Faith, old gentleman," said Dan, "she's had so many black days it won't be noticed, an' it's black herself she is wid crime."
Captain Moret made a furious rush at the author of this insulting speech. The blades of the Irishman and the Spaniard crossed in fierce fight.
"Caramba! but you die!"
"Some day!" answered Dan, coolly, as he parried a furious blow. "Ah! my gold-laced don, you're beginnin' to see that Dan Daly's handled a sword before."
The two men were practically alone. Captain Moret had his back to the mast, and Dan, agile as a cat, despite his age, was hopping merrily round and round him.
The tide of battle had passed them by.
Such of the Spaniards as had not thrown down their arms had retreated in a body towards Lieutenant Tyler's force, with Young Glory and his band of fifty blue jackets in hot pursuit.
"It's your beautiful uniform I'm afther spoilin'," said Dan, as he gave a thrust. "Arrah! but that was a great stroke, though it's meself as says it."
The stroke in question was a severe cut on Captain Moret's sword arm, which caused him instantly to pass his weapon into his left hand.
"Ould gentleman," said Dan, "it's a poor chance ye have. Surrender!"
"Never! While my men fight I will!"
"Begorra, but it's a nuisance ye are. I'm bound to kape ye alive, an' while I'm here I'm afther losin' all the great fight that's goin' on. Ah! it's Dan Daly's the man was born under an unlucky star."
It was perfectly clear that the Spanish captain was in Dan's power. Every moment he weakened, though he continued from time to time to make frantic thrusts at the Irishman. Faintness from loss of blood was coming over him, and it was with difficulty that he kept on his feet.
"Betther give up, captain dear," said Dan in a most insinuating voice.
"What! I hand my sword over to a common sailor!"
"To the last of the Dalys!" replied Dan, drawing himself up proudly as the Spaniard had done. "It's a king I'd be if I had my rights."
"Three cheers for King Dan!" shouted a voice.
But Dan never turned his head. He was making passes at the Spanish captain as if he meant to pin him to the mast.
"Surrender!" cried Dan once more.
"To you, never!"
"But to me, captain," said a voice that caused Dan to start. "I am the commander of the Nashville."
Dan was completely astounded to find Captain Long beside him.
The Spanish captain bowed, and without a word he handed his sword to Captain Long.
"Faith!" exclaimed Dan, "I'm not understandin' it at all. Young Glory, why are you here when there's fightin' to be done?"
"You don't understand, Dan. I do. Look!"
Young Glory pointed to the masthead of the ship. There, Dan Daly, to his astonishment saw the Stars and Stripes flying.
"It means!" cried Young Glory, "that the fight is over. The Spanish cruiser has struck her colors. Our men have surrendered. The Cristobal Colon is ours!"
The Nashville had won this great fight against odds, and it was all owing to Young Glory's daring suggestion that the Spaniard should be boarded.
Instantly the prisoners were disarmed.
"Place them below!" ordered Captain Long, "with a guard over them!"
Mr. Tyler walked up.
"Shall you navigate this ship, sir, entirely with our men?"
"Have we enough?"
"I think so until we get outside. Then we shall fall in with the Brooklyn."
Young Glory dashed along the deck.
"Danger threatens us."
"Some boats are putting off from San Juan."
Instantly it was seen that quite a flotilla was approaching. No doubt the reason they had not done so before was because they thought that the Spanish cruiser stood in no need of aid.
"The Stars and Stripes flying from this ship have brought them out," said Captain Long.
"Give them a broadside, sir. We'll fight them with their own guns, sir."[Pg 23]
"Yes, one of the big guns of this ship is in order. See what you can do with it, Young Glory."
The sailors of the Nashville took a keen delight in handling the Spanish gun and turning it against the on-coming flotilla. Young Glory aimed very carefully.
The first shot told. The great shell from the ten-inch rifle struck the leading gun-boat of the flotilla.
"She's done for!"
"Yes, she is. Look, she's filling."
The men cheered frantically as they saw that the gun-boat had heeled over to the side, and was fast going down.
The rest of the gun-boats lay to. They were afraid they might share the same fate.
"We'll be off with our prize," said Captain Long.
"Who takes charge, sir?"
"You. I'll get back to the Nashville. Let there be no delay."
"There need be none. The engineers had orders some time back to spread the fires."
Back to the Nashville went Captain Long, taking a number of his men with him. The wounded Americans had already been carried to the Nashville, where they were receiving every attention from the surgeon.
Such of the Spaniards as were injured in the fight were left on the cruiser to the care of their own medical officers.
The two boats were still lying side by side, when round the distant headland appeared the bow of a battle ship.
For a moment the men were aghast. It might mean the approach of a new and stronger enemy. Then a great cheer rose from every throat. They saw the Stars and Stripes bravely fluttering in the breeze, and knew what it meant. It was the Cruiser Brooklyn entering the harbor.
The cruiser fired her saluting guns.
But the cheers from her men drowned the noise of the guns.
The blue jackets were wild with delight when they saw the American flag at the masthead of the Spanish cruiser.
At this moment a diversion occurred.
Overlooking the harbor was a fort. Now its guns began to fire at the two ships, the cruiser and the gun-boat. Previously they had refrained, because they were afraid they might do as much damage to friend as foe.
Short-handed as he was, it was a difficult matter for Captain Long to handle his guns. But there was no necessity for his doing so. The Brooklyn took the work in hand instantly.
The first shot struck the fort. It was old. Its weapons were antique, and it had no chance whatever against the great guns of the American cruiser. Shot after shot struck it, crumbling the masonry to powder.
"The batteries are silenced!" cried Young Glory.
"But not our men!"
The cheer that went up confirmed the last statement.
Already the Nashville and the Cristobal Colon were under way, steaming rapidly out of the harbor. A few distant guns from shore thundered at them, but they made a noise, and that was all. They were quite powerless to do any damage.
Once more the vessels were in the open sea clear of San Juan de Porto Rico. The Brooklyn lay to, and a boat put off. In obedience to a signal from the cruiser, the gun-boat and her prize waited till the boat came up. In the cutter was Captain Miles, the commander of the Brooklyn.
"A great and glorious victory, Captain Long," said he, stepping aboard the Nashville.
"Yes, sir, thanks to the men you lent me, and especially Young Glory. Through his advice, as I don't mind admitting, the Spaniard was taken."
"Well, I congratulate you. The country will be crazy when they hear what you've done. You will, of course, return home."
"I want you to lend me some men, Captain Miles, to work the two ships."
"I must do so. Such a valuable prize as the Spanish cruiser must be taken care of."
And Captain Miles went back to his ship, sending shortly after for the necessary help.
Then the ships parted company. The Brooklyn remained in the neighborhood of San Juan, looking for Spanish ships, and the gun-boat and its prize steamed away through the Caribbean Sea.
During the night the two ships parted company.
The wind blew fiercely, and the gun-boat being of light draft went in towards the land, the cruiser with its deeper draft preferring to weather the storm in the open sea.
In the morning nothing could be seen of the gun-boat, but this was no reason for delay. Apparently the Spanish cruiser was well able to take care of itself, and as the destination of the ships had been determined upon, they might go there, either in company or separately, it mattered not which.
They were bound for Key West.
The prisoners for the most part were kept below. They numbered over four hundred, and it was not safe to allow such a number of men, even though unarmed, to wander at large through the ship.
The officers were free to do what they pleased.
They passed the time on deck mostly, keeping strictly to themselves, and wearing savage and sullen faces as they paced to and fro.
"Faith, it's a handsome lot they are," muttered[Pg 24] Dan. "It's myself'll be glad when we've landed you. I'd rather sail in a cattle ship."
"No accounting for tastes, Dan," laughed Young Glory.
"It's an eye we must kape on the dons," said Dan.
"Faith, two. It's the slippery spalpeens they are."
"But they won't try to slip away."
"Arrah, it's worse they'll do!"
"Shure, it's many they are to us. If we're not afther watchin' them closely, they'll try an' take the ship!"
Young Glory laughed.
"Fists against rifles don't count for much. We're armed and they're not. Don't forget that."
"I don't, but it's yourself knows they're as full of treachery as a sausage is of meat."
"I have no fear of them, and I'm quite sure, Mr. Tyler feels the same. Of course he's taking every precaution, but unless those four hundred men below can get out of their quarters, what harm can the officers and the few men who are at large do?"
Dan scratched his head.
"It's a warnin' I've given ye! Don't be afther blamin' me if it happens!"
"That's like Dan," said Young Glory, looking after him. "Prove to him he's wrong, and he won't admit it. He only gets sulky. Well, this time he's clearly out of it, and I'll make him say so when we reach Key West."
It was drawing towards evening now. Young Glory, having nothing better to do, stood and looked over the rail at the setting sun, until it had sunk below the horizon, and all was dark.
Then he threw himself down near a boat which was on the deck, and the lapping noise of the waves, coupled with the want of rest he was suffering from, sent him to sleep.
He had not the faintest idea how long he had been dozing, when he suddenly woke with a start, as men will when aroused from a deep sleep.
But he never uttered a cry, and at once he fell back intending to go to sleep again. It was against the rules to do so, but in his tired state he never thought of this.
In a minute he would have been asleep but for the fact that he heard some men talking, and out of mere curiosity he listened to what was being said.
"Some of the Spanish officers," he muttered. He knew this, for the language they were using was Spanish.
The young sailor was able to hear every word, and before the talk had proceeded far, he was taking in every word, feeling as wide awake as ever he had been in his life.
"Juan," said one man, "I've interested you already by what I've said."
"I confess it, Manuel."
"And you would like to hear more?"
"I can't understand, Juan, how it is you are ignorant of what is going on. They know you're to be trusted."
"I should hope so," was the indignant answer. "Perhaps it is because I have kept myself away from the others. I have felt heart broken over our defeat."
"All the more reason why you should do what you can to repair it."
"There is no repairing it."
"You speak confidently, Juan."
"Because, Manuel, I know where our ships are. We shall meet none as we sail through the Caribbean Sea. No, no, Manuel, dismiss such thoughts. Reconcile yourself to spending the next few months as prisoners of war in America."
"A prospect I by no means fall in with. Help may be nearer than you think, Juan."
"Not unless it descends from the skies, and the age of miracles is past."
"The help is aboard this ship," said Manuel impressively.
"What folly," was Juan's reply. "Have we not lost enough brave men already? I thought of that, but dismissed it from my mind at once. Unarmed men, however numerous they are, can do nothing against men armed to the teeth."
"Exactly my answer to Dan," muttered Young Glory. "This Spaniard is a sensible man."
"But the plan I have in view won't cost the loss of a single man."
"Then it will fail."
"No, it can't. Its success is certain. Don't look so surprised, Juan. Have I a reputation for good sense or not? I'm telling you no fairy tale."
"From anybody but yourself, Manuel, if such a story came I should laugh in their faces."
"You won't laugh at me."
"Not when you've heard me through."
"I weary you. Well, to the point as you say. You know when we handed up our swords we surrendered the ship, don't you?"
"Why ask foolish questions or recall what pains me?"
"But did we hand over everything?"
"There you're wrong."
"I'm a very patient man, as you know, Manuel, but a little more of this talk and I shall be getting up and leaving you."
"I'm leading up to my story. No, Juan, we did not hand over everything. Shall I tell you what was kept back?"
"If you please."[Pg 25]
"The key of the forward magazine!"
Juan was excited now. That was clear by the exclamation he had uttered.
So was another listener, Young Glory. He kept as still as death, not wishing to lose one syllable that was said, and waiting eagerly for the talk to proceed.
"Yes," continued Manuel, after what seemed a long silence, "we kept back the key of the forward magazine, and those fools are ignorant of it."
"But the keys were handed over?"
"There are duplicates."
"Go on! Go on!" exclaimed Juan, hastily. He was as excited now as he had been indifferent before.
"Now, Juan, to get into that magazine is quite an easy matter."
"There are sentries!"
"Who can be overpowered."
"You, I, if necessary. We walk about the ship as we please, so do a few of our sailors, who are kept at work. What's to prevent us from seizing the sentries posted near the magazine, and stabbing them to death?"
"You might leave the stabbing out."
"Certainly, if it's not necessary."
"Having got rid of the sentries, Manuel, what follows?"
"We enter the magazine."
"I suppose so; I'm still wandering in the dark."
"But surely you understand what will happen."
"I haven't the faintest idea."
"We shall be in a position, Juan, to blow up the ship."
"You speak hastily," cried Manuel, angrily.
"I speak sensibly; what good will it do to you or me if the ship is blown up? Four hundred of our nation, you and I included, will visit the next world, taking, say, one hundred Americans with us. A heavy price to pay for such a poor result, and I'm bound to tell you, Manuel, that I've not had enough of this world yet."
Manuel laughed softly.
"Old fellow, there won't be any blowing up."
"Because these Americans will have too much sense; they won't drive us to it."
"What can he mean?" muttered Young Glory. "This is getting interesting."
Juan was quite as much perplexed, and told his friend so.
"I tell you," answers Manuel, sharply, "that there will not be any blowing up. These Americans value their lives. This is the programme. Once in the magazine, of course, it will be known to the American officer commanding this ship."
"There's not much doubt of that."
"None, because he will be notified that we hold the magazine."
"That's a kind attention on your part, Manuel."
"Ha! Ha! You think so? Well, this is what happens. Lieutenant Tyler, that's the fellow's name, I believe. You or I go to him, and say: 'Lieutenant Tyler, the forward magazine of this ship is in the hands of the Spaniards. What do you propose to do about it?'"
"He will be so scared he won't know what to say."
"Exactly. Then we proceed. We offer terms. 'We give you five minutes to decide, Lieutenant Tyler. Release the Spanish sailors you have made prisoners. Surrender the Cristobal Colon back to Captain Moret or you die!'"
"You threaten to blow up the magazine?"
"Manuel, it is very daring."
"What do you think of its success?"
"Once get into the magazine, you can't fail."
"I knew you would say so. The Americans love life even more than we do, and placed in such a dilemma, there can't be any doubt what their choice will be."
Young Glory was fairly amazed at the boldness of the scheme, which was of an entirely different nature to anything he had suspected. He determined to hear the end of the story, for it was clear that the two Spaniards had not yet finished.
"And when do you propose to put this scheme into operation, Manuel?"
"What use in waiting?"
"None, if all is ready."
"It is. The men all know their appointed posts. The instant I give the word the sentries will be seized, and the rest will follow."
"And once more the ship will be ours."
"For that I would do much. The plot will succeed, Manuel. I can see victory in the air."
"And I can't," muttered Young Glory, turning half round towards the two men. "On the contrary, gentlemen, I see nothing but failure. Go on talking till I've seen Mr. Tyler. Then I think the laugh will be all on our side. Ha, ha!"
Young Glory stared aghast. A man, a Spanish naval officer was bending over him, holding a stilletto close against his breast.
"I shall not hesitate to kill if you utter a sound," said the Spaniard, "for the happiness of four hundred men depends on your silence!"
Young Glory felt that he was powerless.
He knew that the threat of the Spaniard was not an empty one, and that he would not hesitate to plunge his dagger into the young sailor's breast in[Pg 26] case the slightest resistance was attempted, or the least sound was uttered.
The man must have been keeping watch whilst his two comrades talked, so as to secure them from interruption.
"You threaten me," said Young Glory, quietly, hoping to conciliate the Spaniard.
"Take care," answered the latter, pressing the dagger a little closer; "I warned you not to speak."
"And I do not disobey you so far as making a noise is concerned. I only ask the meaning of this."
"Perhaps. I also know that you are a prisoner on this ship, and that it is dangerous for you to kill me."
"Not so dangerous as to let you go. You have heard every word that passed between my friends, and have their secret and their lives in your hands. I need say no more to justify myself."
The Spaniard tapped lightly on the boat, and instantly Juan and Manuel rose. They walked round to the other side.
"You here!" they cried, seeing their brother officer.
"Yes, and caramba! but it would have gone hard with your plot, but for me. You seemed to forget that you are not the only people on this ship. Look!"
He pointed to Young Glory as he spoke.
They were astounded.
"Then he's heard what we said?"
"Every word, Juan."
"It means ruin."
"No, fortunately no harm is done. I hold this sailor in my power. He cannot escape me. You must carry out your plot instantly."
"All is ready. We will do so."
They knew there was no time to be lost, and leaving Young Glory to the care of their friend, they turned away to carry into execution their diabolical scheme.
The Spanish officer who had Young Glory in his power, did not wish to be noticed by any of the crew in a suspicious attitude. So he sat down underneath the boat by the side of Young Glory.
"Don't move," he said, showing the sailor his glittering steel blade. "It will be fatal to you if you do."
Young Glory's position was a maddening one. He was in possession of a secret, and was unable to disclose it in the proper quarter. But he never lost sight of the fact that it might yet be possible for him to get away from the Spaniard, and his brain was busily at work upon the project.
It is doubtful if he would have succeeded if fortune had not favored him.
Two sailors, coming along, were thrown nearly off their feet as the vessel lurched, and in saving themselves they fell with outstretched hands against the boat.
The cutter toppled over on the Spaniard. Young Glory quicker than he in moving, had rolled to one side.
In a moment the Spaniard had recovered himself, and furiously threw himself at Young Glory. But the latter was prepared now. He caught the Spaniard by the arm, wrested the dagger from him, and then with a tremendous effort he hurled the man backwards, throwing him off the deck into the sea.
"Help! Help!" screamed the poor wretch.
But it was too late. The cruiser was sailing at a fast pace, the sea was running high, and the night was dark. Long before a boat could have reached him he would have sunk.
Young Glory had no time to lose.
He was rushing away when the two sailors barred his path, and one of them handled him somewhat roughly.
"Shiver me! you lubber, but you don't pass," he said.
"That's right, Bill, we don't allow murders on this ship."
"Stand aside!" cried Young Glory, hotly, "or it will be the worse for you. I must see Mr. Tyler instantly on a matter of life and death."
"Young Glory!" the two sailors cried.
"Yes, and now you know me, perhaps you will let me pass. If you have a complaint to make against me do so, and I shall know how to defend myself. You know where to find me when wanted, for I'm not likely to leave the ship."
The men let him go, and he tore along towards the cabin which Lieutenant Tyler was using.
Meanwhile, let us see what was happening below.
Manuel and Juan had not lost a moment.
They had hurried below, and passing rapidly around, had given the word to all their friends that the time had come to act.
Half a dozen Spaniards who had been assisting in the work of the ship collected together, so as to prevent any one getting near the magazine to render help. The officers took charge of the more dangerous end of the scheme.
It was necessary that they should do so. For they were the only prisoners who were allowed perfect freedom. The fact of their walking about would not alarm the sentries, and so strolling carelessly along in small groups, not less than six Spanish naval officers were within reach of the sentries who were guarding the magazine.
Manuel gave the signal.
It was a faint whistle, but quite audible to ears that had waited anxiously for the sound.
Each man knew what to do, for all the details were prearranged.
Juan sprang at the nearest sentry. Manuel dashed past him and flew at the throat of the second sentry.
Juan and another officer seized the first sentry without the least difficulty. The man was taken completely by surprise, and not being able to resist, he was instantly disarmed.
The second sentry gave more trouble.
He had had some time in which to resist the Spanish officers.
Swiftly he raised his rifle to his shoulder to shoot[Pg 27] down his foes, but agile as a panther, Manuel sprang under the rifle, striking it up as he rose.
The weapon exploded, but the shot did no harm.
Instantly three Spaniards threw themselves on the sentry, tearing his rifle from his hands, and taking his cutlass from his side.
"Hold him fast!" shouted Manuel, as he made for the magazine. "That shot will arouse the entire ship, and there is no time to be lost!"
"If they attack?"
"Shoot them down. Keep them in check for two minutes. That is all I ask!"
It was no time to waste in talking. If this desperate plot was to succeed, it must be carried out instantly. Already Manuel was at the magazine.
He took a key from his pocket.
"They've not changed the locks, so this must fit. Ah!" he said, as he inserted the key. "I thought so. Victory! Victory! We've played a bold game and won!"
Like lightning Manuel darted into the magazine, and without allowing a second to elapse he took a carefully prepared fuse from his pocket, lit it without delay, and placed it on a shelf, which was destitute of explosives.
"Now let them come!" he said, with a look of triumph on his swarthy face. "They must agree to my terms, or we'll die together."
There was a great rush outside.
The sailors had rushed from all parts, and some of the American officers had also been drawn to the spot.
"Treachery! Treachery!" cried the sailors.
"Shoot them down!" shouted an officer.
Instantly a dozen six-shooters were raised. A crisis had arrived. Then Juan stepped forward.
"One moment, gentlemen," said he, speaking very politely, and in soft tones. "You do not seem to understand the position of affairs."
"We know you are traitors."
"It is not worth arguing such a point. Let us get to business. You propose to kill us?"
"Unless you surrender at once."
"Senor, you don't understand how matters stand. We are not in your power; it is you who are in ours."
A loud cry of derision burst forth.
"You do not believe me yet. I speak the truth. You may fire and kill me, but directly you do, there will be an end of you, your sailors and the ship."
"Not so, senor. My comrade is even now in the forward magazine. You know what a quantity of powder and gun-cotton is stored there. Very well, if you fire one shot he will blow up the ship."
This startling assertion caused intense surprise. Some were inclined to attach importance to it, and to accept it as true, but the great majority entirely refused to believe the Spaniard's statement.
"Faith, Don Juan, or whativer ye call yourself," cried Dan Daly, "it's to the marines ye must tell that yarn."
"And they wouldn't swallow it, Dan," retorted a marine, who was standing by.
"It is a fairy story you have given us," said an American officer.
"There's an easy way to determine it, senor."
"Let one of your men step forward and see."
"Who would trust himself?"
"I give you my word," said Juan, hotly, "as an officer and a gentleman, that he will not be hurt, but he must come without arms."
"Shure, it's meself's the boy to do it!" cried Dan, handing his six-shooter and cutlass to a comrade as he spoke.
"You go at your own risk, Dan," said the officer; "nobody asks you to do so."
"Arrah, it's not a finger they'll lift against me! It's Young Glory would fix them for it if they did!"
Dan's faith in Young Glory was unbounded. He little knew how desperate his young friend's own position was at the moment he was speaking.
A buzz of admiration went round as the brave Irishman left his comrades, for there was no denying that it was a courageous act.
However, Dan walked boldly past the Spanish officer and the two disarmed sentries until he came to the magazine.
To find the door open astounded him, for he certainly had not believed one word that had been said.
"Now, do you believe, fellow?" asked Manuel.
"Seein's belavin', Yer Honor."
"Very well; go and tell your friends so."
Dan reached forward towards the fuse which was still burning.
"Lay a hand on that, and I kill you," said the Spaniard, savagely.
"Shure, an' it was only my pipe I was afther lightin'."
"Get out of this," answered Manuel, hotly. "I am in no humor for trifling."
"Well, boys, it's as true as gospel."
"You saw it, Dan?"
"Faith, yes, he's in the magazine, wid a great fuse lighted, an' shure it's mighty little between us and eternity."
Juan spoke again.
"I must see your captain," he said.
"To propose certain terms to him."
"He will refuse."
"Let him. At least, you have no right to do so for him. Recollect that my friend, Manuel, has you all in his power still."
"Senor, no one will harm you; you are free to pass to Lieutenant Tyler's room. I believe you know where it is."
Through the close ranks of the American seamen Juan threaded his way, smiling pleasantly at the[Pg 28] scowling faces and threatening looks he saw on all sides of him.
"I can afford to smile," he said to himself, "for I hold all the tricks in my hand!"
Lieutenant Tyler knew what was happening.
He had been roused from sleep a few minutes before Juan made his appearance, and he was busily getting into such parts of his uniform as he had discarded before lying down.
"You are a bold man!" he said to Juan, "to present yourself to me on such a mission."
"I claim no credit for audacity, senor. The merit of the plot lies with my friend, Manuel."
"Well, what have you to say?"
"Very few words. The ship is in our power."
"Your treacherous comrade has obtained possession of the magazine, you mean?"
"It is the same thing. I will tell you my terms."
"Yes, terms!" assured Juan, haughtily. "Every dog has his day, as I believe an English proverb says. It was yours yesterday. It is ours now. You must release the Spanish prisoners."
"And hand back the ship," Juan went on, without noticing the interruption, "to Captain Moret."
"And if I decline?"
"I make the same answer as I made just now. We shall blow up the ship. If we can't obtain our cruiser again, at least we can prevent it from being of any use to you, and we will sacrifice our lives gladly for such a purpose."
"This is insanity."
"Call it what you please, senor. I call it patriotism."
The responsibility now thrown on Lieutenant Tyler was great, and he had but a short time in which to decide, for Manuel told him he was to hasten matters.
Up and down the room strode the lieutenant.
"Surrender the ship!" he muttered. "An eternal disgrace if I do, and death for all if I don't. What am I to do? This is terrible, terrible!"
"You answer, senor. Be quick!"
"I am in your power. You have broken your words, given as officers and gentlemen——"
"All is fair in war."
"And," continued the lieutenant, "by foul treachery you have gained an advantage. I cannot doom all my men to death. Senor, I must——"
"Refuse your terms!" cried a familiar voice, as the door was thrust open, and without a particle of respect Young Glory rushed in.
"One word and I'll kill you!" shouted the boy, as he held a pistol at Juan.
Lieutenant Tyler and Juan were both amazed.
"May I speak?" asked the latter, insolently.
"Yes, so long as you make no noise."
"My young friend, I have made a great error. I really believed that Lieutenant Tyler commanded this ship. I must ask pardon for the mistake into which I have fallen—I must indeed."
"Sir, I hope you don't suppose me guilty of any disrespect," asked Young Glory of the lieutenant.
"No, no, but I am surprised."
"I must excuse myself, sir. I heard what had taken place before on my way here. I saw this man enter, and I have listened to all that has been said."
"Eavesdropping is a habit of yours!" sneered Juan.
"For which your friend thought to punish me, but found out his mistake. I threw him over to the fishes," said Young Glory, coolly.
"Wretch! I will avenge him," cried Juan.
"Quiet! quiet," said Young Glory, calmly, pointing very significantly to his six-shooter, "you seem to forget that you are in great danger."
"I am in none," answered Juan, instantly. "Lieutenant Tyler, this farce must end. My comrades will be impatient for my return. You were about to give an answer when this fellow thrust himself in."
"Yes, yes," said the lieutenant, sadly. "There is no escape, Young Glory. This man—traitor as he is—has the right to exact terms from me."
"How? you say no, Young Glory?"
"I do, and I will show you why, sir. Leave him to me. I will deal with him. Do you give me power, sir? You may trust me."
"Do what you like, Young Glory."
"Saved! saved!" cried the boy.
Instantly he sprang on Juan. The latter thought he was about to be killed.
"You have no right to slay me. I came here under a safe conduct. This is infamous!"
"Senor, you will not be hurt. Now, to business. Strip that uniform off you quickly!"
"You insult me."
"Off with it, or I will tear it from your back!"
Young Glory seized the officer's tunic, and tore open the front of it.
"It must be, sir," he said to Lieutenant Tyler, who watched these extraordinary proceedings in silence. "Stand guard over him, sir. Compel him instantly to do what I have said, for we have no time to lose."
As the Spaniard was stripped of his naval uniform, instantly Young Glory put it on.
"I shall take back your answer," he said to Mr. Tyler.
"Yes, sir. Why not?"
"You will be killed, or they will know there has been treachery, and that will ruin us!"
"They will not know me, sir. They will take me for this Spaniard. We are of the same height, and in the semi-darkness, near the magazine, I shall pass through."
"But you are sure to be discovered when you reach Manuel, this officer's friend."
"Certain," said Juan.[Pg 29]
"That may be, but by that time my work will be done. I shall have no fear of Manuel."
"Beggar!" cried Juan; "we shall see!"
"Oh, no, you don't!" exclaimed Young Glory, as Juan was slipping out of the cabin. "Here you stay until the work is through."
"I will guard him."
"No, sir, you must come with me."
"With you, Young Glory? Why is that?"
"Because it will seem as if you have given way. When you hear what I say you will know the reason, and agree with me, sir."
"But this is all treacherous."
"Traitors must be fought with their own weapons, sir," answered Young Glory, sternly, as he and Lieutenant Tyler left the cabin.
Juan laughed mockingly as the door closed on him.
"He thinks you will fail, Young Glory," said Mr. Tyler, "and I think the same."
"Let us wait."
The news that Juan was returning speedily circulated. All heads were turned in his direction. Mr. Tyler was some yards behind, having kept at a distance, to better assist Young Glory in carrying out his plans.
"Well?" was the question. "Did you bluff the lieutenant?"
"I don't know about bluffing," was Young Glory's answer, delivered in haughty tones. "All I know is that he accepted the terms I offered. He could do nothing else."
"Faith, an' it's meself that's sorry."
"You wanted to be blown up?" asked Young Glory, quickly.
"It's betther than givin' up the ship, senor," answered Dan Daly.
"Good!" muttered Young Glory. "I shall succeed now, for even Dan Daly doesn't recognize me."
"He gives way!"
"Yes, yes," answered Young Glory, in Spanish.
"Come and tell me all about it."
"I am coming, Manuel."
"But the captain of this ship, where is he? He must hand it over to us instantly. Let the sailors give up their arms!"
"I will talk to you of all these details, Manuel."
"But where is the captain?" cried Manuel, impatiently.
"Here! He will come forward as soon as you and I have fixed things up."
"Lieutenant Tyler!" shouted Manuel.
"Yes, senor, I am here!"
At this moment Young Glory joined him.
"Confess," said Manuel, in triumphant tones, "that it was a great plan of mine!"
Young Glory was silent.
"What! Too jealous to speak! Be honest and admit that I'm a genius!"
"A scoundrel!" cried Young Glory, hotly. "A villainous traitor!"
"Ah! What's this?"
"You're getting your deserts, you wretch!" shouted Young Glory, seizing him instantly, and grappling with him.
"Help! Help!" cried the Spaniard.
Lieutenant Tyler heard the noise, and he had a suspicion what it meant. He rushed to the front through the men.
"Forward, lads," he shouted, waving his sword in the air, "or Young Glory will be killed, and the ship will be blown up!"
"Back! Back!" cried some of the Spanish officers, as the men were advancing. "You are sealing your own doom!"
Shots were interchanged now, and undeterred by what they had heard the sailors pressed forward.
Meanwhile, Young Glory and Manuel were engaged in a deadly struggle. Each man had been trying, without success, to draw a pistol from his belt, and as they could not do so they reeled from one side to another, locked in each other's arms.
"You cannot avert your doom!" hissed Young Glory. "Listen! the sailors are rushing to the rescue."
"I can take you with me."
Quick as lightning Manuel thrust forth his hand towards the burning fuse which Young Glory had not previously noticed.
"Ha, ha!" laughed Manuel, fiendishly, as his fingers grasped it. "We all go together."
There was a great heap of powder lying in the far corner of the magazine, a striking testimony to the carelessness of the Spanish officers.
Without a moment's hesitation Manuel hurled the still lighted fuse towards this powder.
A cold chill ran through Young Glory at this murderous act.
By a supreme effort he tore himself loose, and with one blow of his fist he struck Manuel to the ground.
Then past him he sprang towards the fuse, and with a great leap he landed with both feet on the fuse.
"Saved!" he cried, perceiving that the fuse had fallen a few inches from the powder.
"Not yet!" shouted Manuel.
The Spaniard was on his feet again, and was coming at Young Glory. He had a dagger in his hand, and on his face was the look of a wild animal.
Young Glory was unarmed now, and it seemed as if he was a doomed man.
"There is time to kill him, or to fire the ship yet!" muttered Manuel as he dashed forward.
The fuse was extinct, so there was no danger from that. Young Glory stood ready to spring aside when Manuel made his attack, for it was his only chance.
"This time you shall die!" hissed Manuel, glaring at his enemy.
Young Glory saw the weapon flash in the air, and as it descended he jumped out of the way. It was only safety for a moment though, for Manuel, agile[Pg 30] as a cat, turned on him and with the speed of lightning thrust again.
There was a rush of feet.
"Young Glory! Young Glory!"
Dan Daly, pistol in hand, had reached the magazine just in time to save Young Glory. He saw the Spaniard in the act of stabbing the brave young sailor, and instantly he raised his six-shooter and fired.
Manuel was struck by the bullet between the shoulders. He staggered wildly, threw up his hands, dropping his stilletto as he did so, and then sank on the floor of the magazine.
When they went to him they found he was dead.
The ship was saved.
Thanks to Young Glory, the plot of the Spanish officers was defeated.
It may be imagined how heartily Lieutenant Tyler thanked the young hero, and also how grateful Young Glory was to Dan Daly for the shot that disposed of Manuel.
Henceforth, the Spanish officers were treated the same as the men. They had shown that they were not to be trusted, and for security's sake they were held as prisoners.
"So you didn't know me, Dan?"
"Faith, no, why it's a great detective ye'd be afther making."
"It was easy work, Dan. Well, we've had a hot time of it lately. I suppose we'll run now to Key West without a hitch."
"Shure, an' I hope not. It's the beautiful ship we have now. If we're afther meetin' a Spaniard it's a great time we'll be havin'."
"You'll be disappointed, Dan. Spanish ships are tired of showing themselves in these waters."
It seemed as if Young Glory was right.
The time passed, and though a good lookout was kept, not one of the enemy's fleet hove in sight.
The Cristobal Colon was running along the northern coast of Cuba now. Since she had parted with the gun-boat she had seen nothing of the latter. No doubt the Nashville was on its way to Key West.
The third day from Porto Rico found the cruiser lying off Mulas. The island jutted out prominently here, and the water being deep, the prize steamed along close in to shore.
"What's that?" asked Dan.
"A town, to be sure."
"An' it's a quare flag that's flying!"
"It's the Cuban flag. All this coast is in the hands of the insurgents."
"More power to them!"
"So say I, but what are we doing?"
"Running in to shore, Young Glory, though it's meself can't say why."
"It's water we want," said Lieutenant Tyler. "There's a good landing place here, deep water, and water, too, and as the town is in the hands of the insurgents, it's too good a chance to lose. Put her right in," he cried. "We run no risk."
The seamen were delighted at the prospect. Very few of them had stepped on dry land for many weeks, and it seemed certain that they would have a few hours ashore at any rate.
"The patriots will be delighted when they find we've taken the Spanish cruiser, sir."
"I expect they know it. This boat's a different build to anything in our navy."
Boom! At this point a gun was fired from shore.
"Giving us a salute!" cried a young officer.
"Of a kind I don't like," answered the lieutenant in a sharp tone. "Salutes are all very well, but not when given in the form of a shell."
The cruiser replied by firing one of its saluting guns.
"No doubt a mistake," was the lieutenant's comment, "but very careless not to know that the gun was shotted."
There was a furious shout on the cruiser now. For another gun was fired, and this time a great shell passed over the deck, landing in the water about three hundred yards away.
"No mistake this time!" cried Young Glory, savagely.
"Must be. Up with our colors. Show them another American flag. Then there can't be any excuse."
Up went the Stars and Stripes, amid the cheers of the sailors.
The instant it did the firing on shore began in real earnest.
A number of masked batteries opened fire on the cruiser, and shot and shell flew to the right and left of it.
Lieutenant Tyler was beside himself with rage.
What did it mean?
"It's a trap, sir, and we've fallen into it," said Young Glory. "That town is in Spanish hands, and the Cuban flag was run up to deceive us."
"Open fire, lads!" cried Mr. Tyler. "We'll show them that two can play at that game."
"The ship's aground!"
This was the cry now, and it turned out to be true.
The Cristobal Colon was on a shoal.
Her guns were being fired furiously, but Lieutenant Tyler saw with a face of concern that the shore batteries were situated at such a height, that it was quite impossible for him to train his guns on them.
Meanwhile, there the cruiser stuck, a target for the enemy to practice upon.
The engines were reversed. It was no good. The bottom of the cruiser was embedded in a bank of sand, and it was quite immovable.[Pg 31]
The men were aghast.
"They'll come out and board us!" said one.
"Shure, it's not such fools they'll be."
"Why not, Dan?"
"Because they've all day to fire at us. Begorra, it's sunk we'll be."
"We can't get off, Young Glory," said Mr. Tyler to the young sailor.
"So I see, sir. But we shall."
"Not for two hours."
"Two hours, sir?"
"Yes, the tide's flowing now. I estimate in two hours' time there'll be enough depth of water to float us off that bank."
"If we're here to be floated," answered Young Glory, gloomily.
"That is so. A shot may send us to the bottom at any time."
"It's a case for desperate measures, sir."
"Desperate! I see nothing."
"Sir, let us land and storm the batteries."
"What! with our small force?"
"Enough, sir, if we take them all."
"And the ship, Young Glory?"
"The men are not wanted here, sir. It's useless working the guns, because we can't do any damage with them, and the Spaniards won't attempt to board us."
"It must be done. There's nothing else left."
Mr. Tyler shouted forth his orders. All was excitement now. When the men knew what decision had been come to they were delighted, for desperate though the undertaking appeared to be, it was better than staying on the ship to be sunk with it.
On the weather side of the ship the boats were manned.
Lieut. Tyler, in person, led the attack, and his forces counted, all told, about one hundred and fifty men.
"A handful," said Young Glory.
"Maybe," said Dan, laughing, "but, begorra! the hand isn't made that'll squeeze us."
The Spaniards, strangely enough, made no effort to oppose the landing. Probably they thought the prey so easy of capture that they wished to tackle them at close quarters. Not a shot was fired as the boats rowed towards the shore.
"This means an ambush," said Young Glory.
Mr. Tyler thought the same, and he was actively on the alert.
The boats were drawn up on the beach, and the men were so eager to get to close quarters with the enemy that they dashed at a furious pace towards the steep and rugged path that led to the batteries.
Young Glory was at their head. Dan was a few paces behind him.
Suddenly, from a wood to the left dashed a body of Spanish soldiers, over a hundred strong, and at the same time nearly two hundred of the enemy came rushing down the hill to the right.
"Between two fires!" cried Young Glory.
Round he glanced quickly, and as he did so, he saw not far away a number of great rocks, forming almost a semi-circle, with the sea in the rear.
"Forward, lads!" he shouted loudly.
The men dashed after him, Mr. Tyler in vain trying to check them.
It looked as if Young Glory was about to charge the great force that was rushing down the hill, but such was not Young Glory's intention. The Spaniards speedily discovered what his plan was. Then a mad race took place to see which party should first arrive at the group of rocks.
"We are safe, sir!" cried Young Glory breathlessly, as he and his comrades reached the haven.
"Yes, it's a natural fortress. We can hold out against five hundred men. Let them have it, lads!"
"It's hail Columbia we'll give them!"
Hurrah! Crack! Crack!
The sailors fired furiously now. The Spaniards fell at every shot. But they did not retreat. Instead of doing so the two forces joined, and together they came with a mad rush at the rocks, behind which stood the seamen, awaiting the enemy's attack.
"Don't waste a shot now!" cried Mr. Tyler, and his men waited till the enemy were quite near.
Then a terrific volley was poured forth. Not less than thirty men fell, but their comrades came on just the same. Crack! Crack!
Again the seamen fired, and then such of the Spaniards as survived bounded like deer at the rocks, trying to scale them.
It was a hand to hand fight now, in which the advantage lay almost entirely with the defenders.
The cutlass and pistol did great work at close quarters.
Not more than ten Spaniards got inside the inclosure, and they never got out again.
Dan was fighting furiously by Young Glory's side, and the two men seemed to bear charmed lives.
"Kill that yellow-haired dog!" cried a voice in the Spanish ranks; "it's Young Glory!"
How savagely the Spaniards echoed the name.
"One thousand dollars to the man who kills him!" shouted the same voice.
And then a dozen men, burning to be able to claim the reward, sprang at the rock behind which Young Glory stood.
"Shure, an' it's more than I'd give for ye," laughed Dan Daly. "A thousand dollars! Begorra, it's yourself won't be afther getting it."
And with these words Dan launched a terrific blow at the Spaniard nearest to him. The man dropped.
"Shure, it's right I was."
Dan turned his attention elsewhere, and Young Glory was defending himself bravely.
His comrades had heard the Spanish officer put a price upon the young hero's head, and the horrible proceeding infuriated them. They flew to his assistance, clustering around him to protect him from harm.
It was a terrible struggle. It must be said for the Spaniards that they fought bravely. They vastly outnumbered the Americans, and this may have given them courage. However, the end was near.
One after another the leading men in the Spanish ranks were shot down and killed with the cutlass. The survivors began to falter.
"Courage!" cried an officer, dashing up and waving his sword. "Courage! Stand your ground! Help is at hand!"
Those words stayed the retreat. Back to the rocks at the charge rushed the Spaniards, some of them looking anxiously around for the promised aid.
There was a wild cheer from the Spanish ranks now. Three large boats, each filled with soldiers, swept round the point.
The Americans were taken in the rear now. Between them and the sea there was no shelter.
It was the Spaniards in the boats firing.
Up rushed Mr. Tyler.
"Lads," he said, "this place can be held no longer. We are between two fires. There is but one thing to do. We must dash out of here, cut our way through the enemy and storm the fort."[Pg 32]
The men shouted wildly. It was a bold plan, quite suited to the audacious nature of these reckless sailors.
Over the rocks, led by the lieutenant, they rushed. Their coming had not been expected by the Spaniards, and the consequence was, that they gave way in face of the sudden attack.
In all directions they turned and fled, the sailors in their eagerness dashing after them and cutting them down. The scene of the fight was a ghastly sight now. All around lay the dead and dying, and every minute added fresh victims to the list.
But now the men were recalled from the pursuit of the flying enemy to resume the main purpose for which they had landed. This was to attack and capture the fort and silence the guns.
Up the steep ascent they toiled, protected from harm by the trees which covered the slope. As they drew nearer the batteries, they saw that an almost impossible task was before them.
The walls of the fort were steep and high. The sailors had no scaling ladder with them. How, then, could they hope to make a successful attack?
This was the problem that confronted Lieut. Tyler.
"Faith, we can jump it!" cried Dan.
"Then you're wasting your time in the navy if that's so, Dan," laughed Young Glory. "A man who can clear fifteen feet ought to go in for athletics."
There was no holding the men back.
Furiously they rushed forward, leaving the shelter of the trees to assail the fort.
The Spaniards had them at their mercy now. They fired from the rampart at the helpless men below.
"Back!" shouted Lieutenant Tyler. "Back, I say! This is folly!"
It needed no more talking to show this. Already in this brief attack the men had sustained a heavier loss than in all the fighting of the day.
"Where's Young Glory?" was the cry.
There was a look of dismay on everyone's face as they glanced round and saw that he was missing.
"The boy gone!" cried Dan, frantically. "Arrah, then, it's meself's goin' too!"
And breaking away from those who tried to hold him, Dan fairly flew till he came to the spot beneath the fort where his comrades had just fallen.
"Not there!" he cried. "It's a prisoner he is! An' shure, how could they take him prisoner? It's not one of them Spaniards has ventured out. An', begorra, he wouldn't be afther takin' himself prisoner!"
Dismissing this last idea as unreasonable, Dan, who had miraculously escaped the enemy's bullets, ran back to his comrades.
"It's the last we've seen of him."
Now, where was Young Glory?
In the attack that had been made on the fort the boy had been at the extreme right—that is, the point of view nearest the sea. Whilst his comrades were aimlessly throwing themselves against the walls of the fort, Young Glory was otherwise engaged.
He had seen a figure emerge from the fort and glide amongst the trees at some distance away. Quick as lightning Young Glory did the same. He stole along towards the spot where the Spaniard had secreted himself, and there was a look on the boy's face that spoke volumes.
"It is he!" he muttered. "I only saw him for an instant, but it's a face I never forgot."
Bang! A man sprang forth, pistol in hand, and fired.
As he did so he laughed defiantly.
"Good-by, Young Glory!"
"You villain, I am not dead yet, as you shall see, Jose Castro!"
For it was the famous Spanish spy.
Quick as lightning, before Jose could fire again, Young Glory had sprung on him.
"Give me the key!" he cried, holding the spy in an iron grasp. "Give me the key, or I will kill you!"
"What key?" gasped Jose.
"The key of the door by which you have just left the fort. I saw you do so. You cannot deceive me."
"And this is my answer!"
With these words Jose tore himself loose, and then an instant later, he flew at Young Glory, knife in hand. But his foot caught in some vegetation, and he fell forward.
As he did so, a large key dropped from his pocket.
"The key!" shouted Young Glory, making for it, with a glad look on his face.
"You shall not have it!" cried Jose. "Death first!"
"Yes, death for you!"
Young Glory seized the frantic Spaniard as he struggled to reach the key. For a moment or so, they swayed about on the bluff. Then Young Glory, exerting all his strength, tossed the spy backwards, releasing his hold so as to save himself from going with him.
Jose Castro went crashing down the bluff towards the sea and the jagged rocks which lay below.
"The last of the spy!" cried Young Glory.
He did not press forward to inquire further into Jose's fate, but flying through the wood at full speed, he burst in on his astonished comrades.
"Saved!" he cried.
"Saved, Young Glory! What does this mean?"
"That I will lead you into the fort, sir. Follow me!"
Stealthily the entire band, hidden from view by the trees, reached the door.
"When it is open, dash in!" said Young Glory. "Not a moment must be lost!"
The men were astounded to see him walk up to the door in the rampart, insert the key in the lock, and open it. Madly they rushed through into the fort.
The Spaniards were standing at the guns when this sudden attack took place, thinking that the enemy was in front. They had no time to rally.
Young Glory leading, the American sailors pressed forward, cutting down all in their path. A few of the Spaniards resisted for a few minutes. Then they threw down their arms in token of surrender.
A number of them saved themselves by jumping off the rampart and flying through the woods.
"The fort is ours!" cried Young Glory.
"The guns must be destroyed," shouted Mr. Tyler. "My lads, those breech-loaders can be easily rendered unfit for use. To the work!"
Rapidly the destruction went on. When it was finished the American tars poured down the hill again, took to their boats, and departed without opposition.
When they reached the cruiser they found that the tide had flowed so fast that the ship was no longer aground.
In a few minutes the vessel left the shores of Cuba behind, and was steaming with all speed for Key West.
The gun-boat having already arrived at the last named place, the story of the gallant fight at San Juan de Porto Rico was already public property. A great reception was given to the Cristobal Colon as she steamed into port.
Young Glory was fairly worshiped, for he was justly regarded as the hero of the battle.
However, he was not inactive long.
In a few days he sailed with an expedition.
His daring deeds will be related under the title of Young Glory in Cuba.
[Transcriber's Note: The following typographical errors in the original edition have been corrected.
In Chapter I, "to whom he addresed" has been replaced with "to whom he addressed"; and "talking together exciteedly" has been replaced with "talking together excitedly".
In Chapter III, "He's the only Captan Miles" has been replaced with "He's the only Captain Miles".
In Chapter IV, "severl years in the west" has been replaced with "several years in the west".
In Chapter V, "as the minutes past" has been replaced with "as the minutes passed".
In Chapter IX, "fast as the Spanish crusier" has been replaced with "fast as the Spanish cruiser"; and "damage had been done to the crusier" has been replaced with "damage had been done to the cruiser".
In Chapter X, a missing quotation mark has been added after "treated as prisoners of war".
In Chapter XII, "keeping trictly to themselves" has been replaced with "keeping strictly to themselves"; an extra quotation mark has been deleted after "what you can to repair it"; a missing quotation mark has been added after "those fools are ignorant of it".
In Chapter XIII, "loud cry of derison" has been replaced with "loud cry of derision".
In Chapter XIV, a missing quotation mark has been added after "you say no, Young Glory?"
In Chapter XV, a missing quotation has been added after "on its way to Key West"; "crusier lying off Mulas" has been replaced with "cruiser lying off Mulas"; and "flag that's flying'!" has been replaced with "flag that's flying!".
Also, the table of contents has been created for this electronic edition. It was not present in the original work.]