The Land that Time Forgot
Those were anxious days, during which I had but little opportunity to associate with Lys.
I had given her the commander's room, Bradley and I taking that of the deck-officer,
while Olson and two of our best men occupied the room ordinarily allotted to petty
officers. I made Nobs' bed down in Lys' room, for I knew she would feel less alone.
Nothing of much moment occurred for a while after we left British waters behind us. We
ran steadily along upon the surface, making good time. The first two boats we sighted
made off as fast as they could go; and the third, a huge freighter, fired on us, forcing us to
submerge. It was after this that our troubles commenced. One of the Diesel engines broke
down in the morning, and while we were working on it, the forward port diving-tank
commenced to fill. I was on deck at the time and noted the gradual list. Guessing at once
what was happening, I leaped for the hatch and slamming it closed above my head,
dropped to the centrale. By this time the craft was going down by the head with a most
unpleasant list to port, and I didn't wait to transmit orders to some one else but ran as fast
as I could for the valve that let the sea into the forward port diving-tank. It was wide
open. To close it and to have the pump started that would empty it were the work of but a
minute; but we had had a close call.
I knew that the valve had never opened itself. Some one had opened it--some one who
was willing to die himself if he might at the same time encompass the death of all of us.
After that I kept a guard pacing the length of the narrow craft. We worked upon the
engine all that day and night and half the following day. Most of the time we drifted idly
upon the surface, but toward noon we sighted smoke due west, and having found that
only enemies inhabited the world for us, I ordered that the other engine be started so that
we could move out of the path of the oncoming steamer. The moment the engine started
to turn, however, there was a grinding sound of tortured steel, and when it had been
stopped, we found that some one had placed a cold-chisel in one of the gears.
It was another two days before we were ready to limp along, half repaired. The night
before the repairs were completed, the sentry came to my room and awoke me. He was
rather an intelligent fellow of the English middle class, in whom I had much confidence.
"Well, Wilson," I asked. "What's the matter now?"
He raised his finger to his lips and came closer to me. "I think I've found out who's doin'
the mischief," he whispered, and nodded his head toward the girl's room. "I seen her
sneakin' from the crew's room just now," he went on. "She'd been in gassin' wit' the boche
commander. Benson seen her in there las' night, too, but he never said nothin' till I goes
on watch tonight. Benson's sorter slow in the head, an' he never puts two an' two together
till some one else has made four out of it."