‘There are the boats,’ said Roy. ’Three, four—yes, half a dozen of them. Now we shan’t be long.’ ‘They’re great clumsy brutes of things,’ Ken answered. Hang it all! There isn’t one we can manage between us.’
‘Wait. There’s a smaller one beyond. That might do us.’ muttered Roy, hurrying forward.
Ken followed quickly. As Roy had said, this boat which lay by itself was decidedly smaller than the others. It had, however, been pulled clear of the water.
‘Good, she’s got a pair of oars,’ said Roy. ’Give us a hand to launch her, Ken.’
She was a considerable weight, and the shingle was deep and soft. There is no tide in these waters, so the beaches are dry like those of a lake. In spite of their best efforts, it took them some little time to get her afloat.
They had only just succeeded and Ken was scrambling aboard, when rapid steps came hurrying down the beach.
‘Halt!’ came a sharp voice speaking in Turkish. ‘Who goes there?’
‘Hurry!’ hissed Roy.
‘No use,’ was the low-voiced answer. ’He’d get us both before we were out of range.’ As he spoke, Ken turned and stepped swiftly back to the beach.
‘Friend,’ he answered, speaking in the same language. ’Despatches for Chanak from Colonel Gratz.’
The sentry, a burly Turk, armed with a Mauser rifle, pulled up opposite Ken.
‘Despatches,’ he repeated suspiciously. ’Why are they being sent by boat? And who gave you leave to use this boat?’
In a flash Roy saw that this was a man of more intelligence than the average run of Turkish soldiers, and that it would be useless to try and bluff him. The only chance was to put him out.
‘We had our orders,’ he said. ‘You can look at them if you wish.’ He pretended to take something out of his pocket, at the same time stepping forward. Then, like a flash, he drove his fist with all his might into the Turk’s face.
The man reeled backwards, but did not fall. Next moment he uttered a shout that rang through the night.
‘We’ve done it now,’ growled Roy, as he leaped past Ken, and caught the wretched sentry by the throat with a grip that effectually prevented any further sound.
‘Take his rifle, Ken,’ he said sharply. ’It’s all right. I’ll gag him. You get into the boat.’
How he did it Ken did not know, but within an incredibly short time Roy had sprung into the water, pushed the boat off, and scrambled aboard.
‘I’ll take the oars,’ he said unceremoniously, and Ken, though himself a useful man with sculls, made no objection. Roy’s strength, he knew, was greater than his own.
In a trice Roy had flung off his Turkish overcoat and British tunic. The blades bent as he sent the boat hissing through the water.
There was no tiller, but Ken found a broken scull at the bottom of the boat with which he contrived to steer. He kept her head due south, but fairly close in shore, and what between Roy’s powerful efforts, and the strong current which always flows out of the Sea of Marmora into the Aegean, they were soon going almost as fast as a man could run.