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HOME > Classical Novels > Bill Bolton and the Flying Fish > Chapter IX THE BARON’S METHODS
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Baron von Hiemskirk roared with laughter. “Splendid, Captain—splendid! To use an American expression, Herr Captain—we pirates are not always as dumb as we may look. I know all about that warship. It will take her five hours, fast steaming, to reach this ship.”
He turned his back contemptuously on the furious skipper and walked to the rail. A glance overside told him that the launch, crowded to the gunwales with more men from the Flying Fish was nosing the landing stage below. He again approached the choleric officer.
“I now take over this ship. Order your crew to the forecastle and your officers to their cabins. You and I, my friend, will repair to your quarters. I want to look over your ship’s papers.”
By this time the second boarding party reached the deck, and commands snapped from the Baron like reports from a machine gun.
Accompanied by an armed seaman from the Flying Fish, Bill and Osceola followed the chief commissary steward below. The man had been told off for the duty by the Baron, with a promise that if there were any complaints upon their return, he would be shot. On second thought, he had expanded Bill’s orders.
“You will attend to the oil and gas,” he said, “and in addition, you will commandeer all stores leaving two days’ crews’ rations for the passengers. Break out what men you need and get the supplies to this deck on the port side. And just as quickly as possible, Mr. Bolton.”
“Aye, aye, sir.”
Arrived at the chief steward’s office, he was amazed to learn from the man’s lists the vast amount of eatables carried by the liner.
“Gosh, there’s everything here from caviar to oatmeal!”
“Well, orders are orders,” said Osceola. “While you’re deciding what to take and what to leave, I’ll get hold of the crew and meet you below in the storerooms.”
“Right-o! I’ll be with you in a jiffy. I hate to have to do this, but if we don’t make a clean job of it, you and I will finish out this cruise in the well-known brig!”
For the next few hours, both lads worked like beavers superintending the transportation of supplies. Leaving Osceola in charge below, Bill went up to the deck where the boxes, barrels and crates from the storerooms were being stacked by members of the captured liner’s crew. The Flying Fish, now transformed into her guise of submarine, came along side, a hoist was brought into use and the provisions lowered to her.
It soon became evident that the underseas boat’s cargo capacity would take but a fraction of the plunder, so Bill ordered the Orleans’ lifeboats to be lowered. One by one, these were loaded. The first boat to receive its quota of goods was secured to the Flying Fish by a tow-line, and the bow of each succeeding lifeboat made fast by a line to the stern of the one ahead. When the last load of crates was being lowered overside, Bill found Osceola at his elbow.
“That tears it, I reckon. Good plan that—using the boats. I wondered how you were going to load all that stuff in the Flying Fish.”
“I hated to do it,” admitted his friend, “but now that the Orleans is practically without provisions, she will have to return to New York, and she can make port in less than twenty-four hours. With this fine weather, there’s little or no danger of the passengers needing the boats.”
“What are we to do now?” asked Osceola.
“Report to Herr Baron, I reckon.”
Bill hailed one of the submarine’s petty officers who was herding the crew back to their quarters.
“Do you know where we’ll find Baron von Hiemskirk?”
“He is in the main dining salon, sir.”
“Come along, Osceola,” said Bill. “He must be pretty nearly finished with his own particular job. I hope so, anyway. If that cruiser shows up and we’re caught—well, it will take a lot of explaining to justify our part in this. The chances are, I’d be handed my discharge from the Navy, if nothing worse.”
Osceola nodded gloomily and the two made their way along an almost empty deck to the main companionway.
“I wonder where the passengers have disappeared to,” mused the young Seminole, as they descended the broad staircase.
“They’ve probably been sent to their cabins for the time being. If my guess is a good one, the big boy is at present engaged in robbing the entire first class of their valuables.”
“It’s certainly a bad bit of work, Bill.”
“Gee, I know it. But some day we may be able to get even with this polite pirate. Just now all we can do is to smile and take orders.”
They found the Baron seated at the head of the captain’s table. An angry gentleman, his wife and two pretty daughters, under guard of a seaman, stood before him.
“Mr. Rodney Conway and family, of New York.” The Baron glanced at a list he held. “I am glad to say that this little interview will conclude my business aboard the Orleans.”
“Look here!” cut in the passenger. “This whole thing is preposterous! Why, y............
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