Half a dozen or more were driven over the side into the sea, and left perforce to drown.
At last the Turks broke and gave way. Some dropped their weapons and flung up their hands in token of surrender.
‘They’ve surrendered!’ cried Captain Carrington. ‘Give them quarter.’
At that moment Ken saw a Turkish officer, his face covered with blood, spring out of the crowd aft and rush forward.
‘Look out there!’ he shouted, and wrenching himself loose from the press, raced after the man.
The officer, however, had a long start, and before Ken could catch him, had reached the gun and was swinging it round.
‘Look out!’ yelled Ken again, as he realised what the man was after. He was desperate, and meant to turn the gun full upon the packed crowd, destroying friend and foe alike.
He had got the gun round, his finger was almost on the button when Ken reached him, and going at him head down, like a Rugby tackier, flung both arms around his waist.
[Illustration: ‘On every side revolvers were cracking.’]
With a fierce exclamation, the man hit out with his fist, but the blow fell harmlessly on Ken’s back. Then, twining both hands in Ken’s collar, he made a frantic effort to break his grip and fling him aside.
Ken held on like grim death. If he failed, it meant death for all his friends. The other was a powerful, wiry man in the prime of life, while Ken had not yet come to his full strength. For some seconds they struggled fiercely, the Turk exerting every effort to reach the gun, Ken straining frantically to hold him off.
Ken’s heel caught in a ring bolt. He felt himself falling, but managed to drag the other down with him. But his own head struck the deck with such force as to half stun him, and he felt his grip relaxing.
‘Dog, you shall die with the rest!’ hissed the other, as at last he tore himself free, and sprang to the gun.
But Ken was not done yet. He had fallen almost under the gun, and swiftly lifting one foot he kicked out desperately at the gray barrel above him.
There was a crash which nearly deafened him, and for a moment he believed that the madman had succeeded in his awful purpose. Then a tall figure sprang across him, and with a shout Roy drove his fist into the Turk’s face.
Up went the man’s arms, he staggered back and fell into the sea.
‘Well done, Ken!’ cried Roy. ‘That’s finished it.’
Ken scrambled to his feet and stared round in amazement.
‘W—Where did the shell go?’ he stammered.
‘Somewhere in the direction of Constantinople,’ was the reply. ’Your kick did it, Ken.’
‘It’s all right,’ he added jubilantly.’ The rest of the chaps have given in. The launch is ours.’
RUNNING THE GAUNTLET
’It seemed shabby to leave you to do all the fighting, but if I had come into it I’m afraid you’d have been left without a ship.’