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HOME > Classical Novels > Bill Bolton and the Flying Fish > Chapter III MAN OVERBOARD
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 The man who entered so was a tall, heavy-set individual in the early thirties. Blond as only the Scandinavians or North Germans are blond, his very next words betrayed Teutonic origin.  
“So!” he as the three kept their hands level with their ears. “A boy and two half-grown men. Master Evans, and a pair of , eh? The one, we miss the first time. The others on us like manna out of heaven,—I don’t think! Three more mouths to feed and no money in it for anyone. Donnerwetter, noch ein Mahl!”
“Nichts kom heraus, mahogany bedstead,” piped Charlie. The added danger seemed to revive his spirits with a . “The same to you and many of ’em, Dutchy. I know some more, too,” he went on proudly. “Schweitzerkäse, frankfurters and getthe-Houtofhere! That last is the longest word in the Heinie dictionary!”
“What’s the shortest?” inquired Bill, who was enjoying this byplay.
“Oh, I don’t know—but the one they say the quickest is ‘camerad.’”
“Halts ’maul! Shut up, I mean!” thundered the blond stranger. The whites around the pupils of his light blue eyes became bloodshot with anger. “I am master here,” he roared. “Silence! I will have it!”
Two sailors appeared in the behind him. He wheeled about. “Adolph, you will keep the prisoners covered. Hans, take their weapons from them. And now,” he continued, when the three lowered their hands after they had been searched, “you will tell me what names you go by.”
Charlie sprang to his feet and made a stiff, military bow. “The dark gentleman over yonder,” he said solemnly, “is traveling . So that you will not be confused by false appearances, I will breathe his secret. He is no less a personage than His , George the Fifth! Beside me on this couch is Mary, the Four-Fifths, and I am Herbert Hoover!—Oh, Doctor, why so angry? You may call me Herbie if you’re good!” He finished in falsetto, with rolling eyes toward Bill and Osceola.
“Ruhig! Silence!” shouted the officer, while Bill and Osceola were convulsed with laughter at his fury. “Hans—take this devil-child on deck and keep him there until I come. If he offers more , give him a taste of your belt!”
“Gosh, you can’t please the Doctor,” protested Charlie with an air of injured as he was led . “He asked for the go-by, so I gave it to him.”
The stranger waved him away. “Now, you two will tell me who you are,” he commanded. “From American children one expects insolence—with you, it is different. Your names at once, if you please.”
“My name is Bolton.” Bill saw no reason for hiding his identity.
“And I,” said his friend, “am Osceola, Chief of the Seminoles.”
“So,” their captor. “The two young fellows that were mixed up in the Shell Island business. So!” He pronounced the last word as though it were spelled with a Z. Then for a minute or so he appeared lost in thought. Neither Bill nor Osceola uttered a word.
“So——It shall be done.” the blond man had arrived at an important decision. “I am the von Hiemskirk. And remember, both of you—my word is the law. I am in command. You will earn your keep. Ja, you will be put to work and it will be well to remember that my discipline is that of the Imperial Navy. You will obey all orders—on the jump!”
“And the alternative?” Bill rose to his feet.
The baron stuck a single eyeglass in his eye and stared at Bill with an evil smile on his lips.
“We are now about sixty miles off the coast of North America,” he said coldly. “It is a long swim, my young friend. Come now—we will go on deck.”
He strode out of the room, and Bill and Osceola followed him, with a look of understanding. The sailor brought up the rear.
Charlie called to them from the rail. “Say, look what I’ve found! That’s what took Mother and Dad and everybody off of here while I was in the trunk room. Hans says they’re going to take us too. I don’t care what happens now, I’ll be with Dad and Mother—but it’s pretty tough on you fellows! Say, you wouldn’t think these Heinies had brains enough to run one of those things, would you?”
He waved excitedly overside, and the two friends saw the long gray and tower of a submarine beside the yacht.
The baron, who had stopped to speak to a young officer, walked over to the boy and caught him roughly by the shoulder.
“Devil-child!” he roared in his deep . “I to you regarding insolence for the last time a short while ago!” He turned to the officer. “Herr !” he commanded. “Take this boy forward and see that he is well punished.”
“The whip, Herr Baron?”
“Ten lashes—yes—and at once.”
“Zum befehl, Herr Baron!” He grabbed Charlie’s arm and yanked the struggling youngster along the deck.
Like a flash Bill after them. He caught up with the pair at the gangway, and gripping the young officer by the collar, he jerked him backward on to the deck. Then, as Charlie made a dash for Osceola, he down and slapped the lieutenant’s face with the palm of his open hand.
“Before you try to maltreat that boy, perhaps it would be as well to settle with me,” he said calmly, while along the deck came the click of the sailors’ rifles. “That is,” he added, “if you’ve got the to do it.”
“Schweinhund!” cried the officer, as he sprang to his feet. Without an instant’s , he swung for Bill’s head.
The useful art of self-defense is well taught at the Academy, and Bill had ever been a pupil. He jerked back his head, the man’s fist by a hair’s breadth. Then as the other overbalanced, he stepped in with a short-arm jab to his opponent’s kidneys. This he followed up immediately with a powerful left hook to the point of the , and the Herr Lieutenant went crashing overside, through the ropes of the gangway. There came the dull thud of his head as it struck the metal side of the submarine, and he disappeared down the narrow strip of water between the . Immediately Bill dived after him.
His body cut the surface with hardly a splash, and he shot into the cool green depths from his twenty foot dive with eyes wide open. To right and to left dark of the vessels’ shadowed the green. No other objects met his searching gaze, so using a powerful breast stroke, he forged further downward. All at once he saw something grayish white below. His lungs were bursting with lack of air and the heavy water pressure at this depth. It grew icy cold, but he continued to strain , backing his muscles with an indomitable force of will.
The white spot beneath him was taking shape now—surely the uniform of the unlucky lieutenant. Yes, there he was, sinking face down, arms and legs spread-eagled and useless, the wind knocked out of him by the double blow of Bill’s fists and the crash against the submarine side.
Bill caught the , figure, with a cupped hand beneath the chin. Instantly his legs and free arm got into action again, but heading this time in the opposite direction. Up shot the drowning man and his rescuer. Bill’s head was whirling, his were leaving him. The man would sink again if he lost his hold. Slipping the of his elbow beneath the unconscious lieutenant’s chin, he held his head close to his side. Would they never reach the surface—and air? What if his own unprotected should strike the curve of a ’s hull? Sharp pain stabbed him between the eyes—he knew no more.
Far away—fathoms above him—Bill heard a voice calling his name. He seemed to be floating upward in a sea-green , but there was air at last—heaven-sent air.
“He’s coming round now,” said the voice, which sounded like Osceola’s, and much nearer than before. “No wonder he went out—under water nearly two minutes and a half! How’s the other fellow, Baron?”
“Poor Fritz!” Surely this was the blond commander speaking and his voice seemed much louder and closer at hand than that of the young chief. And as the words grew more distinct, their meaning impressed itself on Bill’s dawning consciousness. “Poor Fritz!” repeated the baron. “We’ve got the water out of him now and he will live—but it will be a touch and go for some time. The poor lad has a bad case of . I can’t tell whether his skull is fractured, but I don’t think so.”
“He got an awful crack on the back of his head, but you can’t hold that up against Bill Bolton,” returned Osceola.
“Oh, no, my dear chap. I assure you I hold no at all.”
Something has happened, thought Bill, to alter Osceola’s status with the Baron.
“I wish you to know, my dear Chief, that both Fritz and I are sportsmen. Blows were struck in fair fight. When Fritz hit the submarine, I could have killed young Bolton without hesitation. But when he dived after my cousin—I loved the lad. It was splendid—colossal!”
“I’m glad you feel that way,” Osceola remarked. “Things were getting a bit strained, I thought.”
“Yes, yes, I know that. But I have had a terrible day, my friend. That devil-child put my temper on edge. And a dozen wildcats are as nothing to the boy’s mother when she found we’d left him behind. God be thanked, that is over. I cannot let you and Bolton continue your journey at present, but at least you will live well, and have an interesting time. In saving the life of Fritz, you two have rendered me a service. Karl von Hiemskirk does not forget such favors.”
“Thanks for dragging me in,” laughed Osceola. “I didn’t do anything.”
“Hah! You dived in after them while my men looked on like half-wits!” the Baron. “You brought these two unconscious fellows to the surface! I call that a very great deal.”
Bill heard him sigh, but although he was now awake, he kept his eyes closed and listened to the Baron’s next words.
“The thing of great importance that is worrying me is that Fritz was first pilot of my command. I, myself, am an , a combat flyer, who had the great honor to be a member of what you call the circus of the unsurpassed Graf von Richthofen, of glorious memory.”
Bill opened his eyes to find himself on the Merrymaid’s deck. He sat up and began to speak rapidly. “Richthofen was the greatest air strategean who ever flew,” he declared, “they tell me that his combat formations and the battle manoeuvers of his famous circus have never been improved upon. Sorry I wasn’t old enough then to take a crack at you myself—you must be a humdinger, Baron, when it comes to this flying game! If you want to use my bus and friend Fritz is temporarily out of the picture—why not fly her yourself?”
Osceola put his arm about Bill’s shoulders, and the Baron bowed from the waist.
“Thank you, indeed, my dear young friend,” he said formally, “both for your of my long-time-dead friend von Richthofen, and because, after my cousin, you had the courage and graciousness to save his life at risk of your own.”
“Oh, please don’t.” Bill colored a dusky red. “Or I shall have to pass out a second time.” With the chief’s help he rose and held out his hand. The Baron shook it .
“We will let our has-beens be never-wases.”
“I couldn’t help overhearing what you said to Osceola when I was consciousness,” went on Bill. “So as long as you can’t see your way clear to letting us go, I’ll do my best to be peaceable in the future.”
“Say nothing more about it, my boy.” The Baron fairly urbanity. “Es tut mer sehr leid, I mean, it makes me very sorry to have to detail you chaps, but it is the fate of war.”
Bill and Osceola looked their surprise. “War?”
“I have to inform you that my command is at war with society. I can not allow my for individuals to me from my aim.”
“And what is that?” inquired Osceola.
“We will talk of that later. Now, there is work to be done. Too much time has been wasted already. I need an airplane pilot, Bolton, because with my multitudinous duties, it is impossible for me always to handle the controls. I will make you two what you Americans call a proposition. You will fly where and when I tell you, Bolton. You will give me your word of honor to do that and no more. The chief here will also be given congenial duties. Obey my commands and you need not give your parole—there is no escape except by air and that will be circumnavigated by your word!”
“And you can sure use big words, Baron,” observed a much Charlie, who had been silently taking in the conversation.
“Perhaps,” the Baron smiled, “but if you will take my advice, such things are better left unsaid. Your tongue has already got you and a number of others into trouble today.” He turned again to Bill. “I am awaiting your decision,” he said.
“And—the alternative in this case?”
“You and the chief will be kept prisoners until such time as I can negotiate your .”
Bill looked at Osceola, who nodded slightly. “All right, then, Baron, I promise to fly your planes as you , but I suspect that your war is nothing more than on a big scale. And I’m hanged if I have anything to do with that!”
The Baron bowed. “It is a bargain. I will now conclude my work on this vessel. Fritz has already been taken aboard the other craft, and when I am through here, Chief Osceola will go in her with me and my men. You, Bolton, will follow us with Charlie, in your .”
“Aye, aye, sir,” returned Bill with Naval Academy crispness, now that he had recognized the baron as his superior officer. “You will keep above surface, I suppose, otherwise, I am likely to loose your ship.”
“Oh, no, we won’t,” broke in Charlie the irrepressible. “He’s going in the air!”
“The air? Don’t be silly, kid—”
“I’m not the silly one—” retorted the youngster. “I’m right, ain’t I, Baron?”
“That submarine is an invention of my own,” declared the commander. “The boy speaks correctly. I shall fly her.”

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