‘Stop!’ he snarled. ‘Stop, you fools. Where are you going?’
The officer was armed with a repeating pistol while his men all had rifles. For the moment Ken was filled with wonder as to why they had not at once used their weapons.
Then he remembered. It was their Turkish greatcoats which had saved them. In the dim light the German still took them for Turkish soldiers.
But discovery could only be a matter of a few seconds. Even as he watched, he saw suspicion dawn in the pig-like eyes of the Prussian.
’At ’em!’ roared Ken, and without an instant’s hesitation flung himself upon the officer.
The man tried to fire, but Ken caught his wrist in time, and closed. The two wrestled furiously together, the German breathing out savage threats in his own language.
He was not tall, but a stocky, powerful man, and it was all Ken could do to hold his own. Vaguely he heard shouts and shots, and knew that Dave and Roy were hotly engaged with the three Turks. But he had no attention to spare for them. All his energies were needed to cope with his own opponent.
Ken’s first object was to deprive the other of his pistol, and he forced the man’s right arm back with all his strength. Stamping and panting, the two worked gradually back down the slope until they had passed the clump of scrub from behind which the German had appeared.
Ken, though breathing hard, was still cool and collected, while the German, on the other hand, had utterly lost his temper. His big heavy face was a rich plum colour, and the breath whistled through his teeth.
At last Ken gained his first object. His fierce grip upon the German’s wrist paralysed the muscles of the man’s hand, and the pistol dropped from his nerveless fingers.
Instantly Ken tightened his hold, and tried to back-heel his adversary. Before he could succeed in this manoeuvre, he felt the ground crumbling beneath his feet.
It was too late to do anything to save himself. Next moment the earth gave way and he and the German, locked in one another’s arms, went flying through the air.
Followed a crash and a thud, and for some moments Ken lay stunned and breathless, though not actually insensible.
In boxing there is nothing more painful than a blow on the ‘mark.’ It knocks all the breath out of the body, and for some time the lungs seem paralysed. This was practically what had happened to Ken. He had fallen full on his chest, and though his senses remained clear enough, he simply could not get his breath back.
When at last he succeeded in doing so he felt as weak as a cat, and deadly sick into the bargain. It was some moments before he could even manage to roll off the body of the man beneath him.
He struggled to his feet and found that he was at the bottom of a bluff about twenty feet high. To the right was a sheer drop to the sea. He shivered as he glanced over to the fog-shrouded waves, full eighty feet below. The ledge on which he had landed was only four or five yards wide. A very little more, and he and his enemy together must have gone clean over the cliff.