The Land That Time Forgot

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 10

her and took
her out on her first run."

The girl drew back from me with a little exclamation of surprise and
disappointment. "I thought you were an American," she said. "I had no
idea you were a--a--"

"Nor am I," I replied. "Americans have been building submarines for
all nations for many years. I wish, though, that we had gone bankrupt,
my father and I, before ever we turned out that Frankenstein of a
thing."

We were approaching the U-boat at half speed now, and I could almost
distinguish the features of the men upon her deck. A sailor stepped to
my side and slipped something hard and cold into my hand. I did not
have to look at it to know that it was a heavy pistol. "Tyke 'er an'
use 'er," was all he said.

Our bow was pointed straight toward the U-boat now as I heard word
passed to the engine for full speed ahead. I instantly grasped the
brazen effrontery of the plucky English skipper--he was going to ram
five hundreds tons of U-boat in the face of her trained gun. I could
scarce repress a cheer. At first the boches didn't seem to grasp his
intention. Evidently they thought they were witnessing an exhibition
of poor seamanship, and they yelled their warnings to the tug to reduce
speed and throw the helm hard to port.

We were within fifty feet of them when they awakened to the intentional
menace of our maneuver. Their gun crew was off its guard; but they
sprang to their piece now and sent a futile shell above our heads.
Nobs leaped about and barked furiously. "Let 'em have it!" commanded
the tug-captain, and instantly revolvers and rifles poured bullets upon
the deck of the submersible. Two of the gun-crew went down; the other
trained their piece at the water-line of the oncoming tug. The balance
of those on deck replied to our small-arms fire, directing their
efforts toward the man at our wheel.

I hastily pushed the girl down the companionway leading to the
engine-room, and then I raised my pistol and fired my first shot at a
boche. What happened in the next few seconds happened so quickly that
details are rather blurred in my memory. I saw the helmsman lunge
forward upon the wheel, pulling the helm around so that the tug sheered
off quickly from her course, and I recall realizing that all our
efforts were to be in vain, because of all the men aboard, Fate had
decreed

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