‘All right, Ken. Hold tight. I’ve got you!’
It was Roy’s cheery voice, and Ken suddenly realised that he was there in the water alongside.
‘Look out!’ Ken managed to gasp. ‘You’ll only be dragged down too.’
‘Not a bit of it,’ Roy answered, as he raised himself and caught hold of the boat. ‘Don’t you worry, old man. I’ve a rope round me. I’ll hold her.’
‘Ah, there she goes!’ he exclaimed, and as he spoke there was a queer sucking sound, and Ken felt the boat whirl away in the direction of the sinking steamer.
For some seconds it seemed as if he, Othman, and all would be ripped away from the boat by the tremendous suction. Great eddies boiled and swirled in every direction, and a thick scum of oil and coal dust rose and covered the surface of the sea.
‘Hold on!’ he heard Roy shout again, and somehow he did, though his right arm felt as though it were being torn from its socket.
At last the commotion ceased, the eddies disappeared, and the strain slackened.
‘Thank goodness, that’s the last of her,’ said Roy, with a sigh of relief. ’Jove, but I couldn’t have stuck it much longer. That rope round my waist has nearly cut me in two. How are you making it, old man?’
‘I’m all right,’ Ken answered, but his voice was so weak it scared Roy.
‘Here, hand over his Nibs,’ he said, as he moved round and took Othman from Ken. ‘Now,’ he said, ’just hang on a few minutes longer, and they’ll pull us in.’
He raised one arm as a signal, the rope tightened gently, and the dinghy and the three holding to it were towed quickly back to the submarine.
Roy handed up Othman and scrambled out himself but they had to lift Ken out of the water. Once on deck, however, he insisted on scrambling to his feet.
‘Not damaged?’ inquired Lieutenant Strang with a touch of anxiety in his voice.
‘Not a bit, sir,’ Ken answered.
’I congratulate you, Carrington. It was an uncommon good and plucky bit of work, and I shall see that it is reported to your own commanding officer.’
Ken went below, tingling with a pleasure which made him forget his aching joints and muscles.
TACKLING THE TROOPER
‘Yes, come in.’
Lieutenant Strang, busy plotting out something on a chart, looked up as the sentry parted the curtains of his cabin.
‘Can Corporal Carrington see you, sir?’ asked the man.
‘Certainly. Send him in.’
Ken, looking more like himself in his khaki, which was now thoroughly dried, entered and saluted.
‘Well, Carrington, what is it?’ The commander’s tone was quick, almost curt, yet there was a smile on his keen face as his eyes fell on Ken’s upright figure.
‘I’ve been talking to Othman Pacha, sir,’ began Ken.
‘Othman Pacha—who the deuce is he?’