Under the Dragon Flag eBook

James Alexander Allan
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 97 pages of information about Under the Dragon Flag.
had the disadvantage of swimming in my clothes; moreover, the water was frightfully cold, and began to chill me to the bone.  I could tell, however, that the tide was strongly in my favour, and I believe I should have escaped the boat’s notice, but that the people on shore, hearing, I suppose, the rifle-shots, turned on an electric search-light to see what was going forward.  I was still a good quarter of a mile from the shore, and the boat was nearly as close in—­almost parallel with me, though several hundred yards away.  There was no fort near, but I could see the dark mass of one on a towering height far to the left.  The bright glare soon showed me to my pursuers, who turned the boat’s head towards me and gave way with might and main.  They closed fast, and I gave myself up for lost.  A heavy rifle-fire began crackling along the shore, and the balls frequently skimmed along the water disagreeably near me.  I struggled on, but would inevitably have been retaken if the event had depended on my own efforts.  There was a small coast battery near containing two or three mortars, and a shell was thrown at the boat as it held its daring course for the shore.  It was not a hundred yards from me at the moment.  I heard the scream of the projectile, saw it describing its flaring parabola in my direction, and with my last energies dived to avoid it.  The sound of its explosion rang in my ears as I went under.  When I came up again, the boat was putting back in a hurry with three or four oars disabled.  How near to them the bomb had pitched I cannot say, but they had evidently got a good allowance of the splinters, though chance probably had more to do with the matter than marksmanship.  The gunboat was under steam and standing in, returning the fire.  I strained every nerve, and struggled ashore at last in such a numbed and exhausted state that I could not stand upright without assistance.  I found myself surrounded by Chinese soldiers, who plied me with questions, which I could not have answered even if I had understood Chinese.  Perceiving my condition, they took me off to a small building like a guard-house, some way to the rear of a line of trenches.  They made a blazing wood fire in the middle of the stone floor, and when I had stripped off my wet clothes and was partially thawed, they renewed their interrogatories.  I absolutely knew not a word of Chinese, and could only endeavour by gestures to give them an idea of what had happened.  This was not very satisfactory, but they at least could make out that I was no friend to the Japanese.  They jabbered away for a while amongst themselves, apparently discussing me.  At length one of them brought me some food in a large wooden bowl—­a strange mess of I know not what mysterious compounds, amongst which, however, I could distinguish rice.  It was palatable and I ate it gladly, and asked, too, for a supplementary supply, which was not denied.  Overcome by exhaustion and the fierce heat of the fire, a drowsy stupor came
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Under the Dragon Flag from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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