Text - " The Blue Grass Seminary Girls on the Water" Carolyn Judson Burnett

close and start typing
The sun was just sinking below the horizon, but there were still several
hours before darkness would fall. The view was indeed picturesque and
the passengers were impressed with it.

The steamship Yucatan was now on the last leg of her journey toward

In the main salon a crowd of men had gathered. On the upper deck, the
gallery deck, the promenade deck and the main deck they had also
gathered in knots. They blocked the main staircase and the exits from
the engine room below.

A group somewhat larger than the rest had assembled about the captain's
cabin. A close observer would have noticed that each man among these
different groups wore a peculiar little button in the lapel of his coat.

Each group was silent. It appeared that they were waiting for something.
Now a young man appeared and spoke to the first group holding his open
watch in his hand. Then he passed on to the next, then to the next,
until he had approached all. Then he took his place with the others near
the bridge, and waited, watch in hand.

Suddenly he pulled a little whistle from his pocket, put it to his lips,
waited a moment, and then blew a shrill blast, that penetrated to the
farthest part of the ship.

Instantly the various groups of men wearing the button of peculiar
design came to action.

The passengers on the promenade deck, the Willing party among them,
found themselves under the muzzles of many revolvers. On the gallery,
the deck, the main salon, the grand stairway a like condition prevailed.

Only the men who guarded the exit from the engine and boiler rooms were
inactive, but these stood with drawn revolvers.

A dozen men swarmed from the bridge into the wheel house, where they
confronted the pilot, the Captain, the first and second officers, who
chanced to be there together. Officers in other parts of the ship also
had been held up.

The surprise had been complete. The Yucatan was at the mercy of this
army of conspirators, whoever they chanced to be.

Shirley and Mabel had eyed the strange proceedings upon their section of
the ship with no less amazement than the rest of the passengers. Mr.
Willing, Colonel Ashton and Dick were equally astonished.

"What is it, a wholesale hold-up?" demanded the colonel.

"Worse, I'm afraid," declared Mr. Willing.

"I know!" exclaimed Shirley suddenly. "Mr. Bristow is concerned in

"My goodness! I believe you are right Shirley," declared Mabel.

"I know I am right," returned Shirley positively. "This is why he sailed
on the Yucatan."

In the meantime the captors of the vessel had relieved all on board of
whatever weapons they had. They had made a systematic search of the
cabins, while some of their number kept the crew and passengers covered.
Of the many aboard the ship the only ones who did not know what had
happened were the engine crew and stokers.

The wireless had been among the first points seized, and the operator
had had no opportunity of sending a message.

And now a young man moved about among the passengers, assuring them that
there was no danger so long as they kept quiet. This young man came aft
on the promenade deck where the Willing party stood.

Even as Shirley had surmised, he was Henry Bristow.

He smiled as he approached them.

"Well," growled Mr. Willing, "I see you have put the thing through."

"Part of it sir, part of it," was the reply. "The rest is to come."

"What are you going to do now, Mr. Bristow?" asked Mabel.

The latter smiled at her.

"Captain Von Blusen, if you please, Miss Ashton," he said, "I am no
longer Henry Bristow, but Captain Friederich Von Blusen, of His Imperial
Majesty's service."

"And what are you going to do with the ship?" asked Shirley.

"Why, we shall do a little cruising," was the reply. "We have
established a naval base off the coast of Cuba, but we have no ships on
this side of the Atlantic. Therefore we must have ships. This is the

"And what are you going to do with us, captain?" asked Mabel.

"Ah, that is the hard part," was the reply, "but, before starting, we
came to a conclusion, though none of the passengers is likely to be
pleased. We shall set you adrift in small boats."

The others staggered back in dismay.

"Impossible," declared Mr. Willing. "Surely you are not barbarians."

"The law of necessity must be obeyed," replied the captain.

He took his departure.

"The cold-blooded scoundrel," declared Colonel Ashton. "This is what we
get for helping him to escape."

"And that is my fault," declared Mabel.

"Well, there is no use talking about it now," said Dick. "It's too

An hour later the new crew began getting out the boats, and all the
passengers provided themselves with life preservers. Fortunately, the
weather was calm and the sea smooth and there was little likelihood of a
storm at this time of year.

With everything in readiness, Captain Von Blusen once more approached
the Willing party, and drew Mabel slightly to one side in spite of the
protests of the others.

"Miss Ashton," he said, "in your cabin the other day you spoke of your
sympathies to the German cause. Now I shall tell you something, for you
have done much for me. Advise the others to make no attempt to reach
Colon, should they be picked up."

"And why not?" demanded Shirley.

The captain hesitated.

"Well, there is no harm in telling you," he said at last. "Of course,
you may not know that Germany is trying to bring the United States into
this war on her side. We have at last found a way. Just off Colon are
several Japanese warships. We shall near them unobserved, and signal by
wireless that a certain thing must be done, representing ourselves as
one of the Japanese battleships.

"Naturally, we shall be refused permission. Now we have a new invention
that would enable us to destroy Colon from a distance, and in our
message we shall threaten this unless the supposed Japanese demand is
granted. Do you understand?"

Mabel nodded her head slowly. She was beyond words.

"And when the demand is refused," continued the captain "we shall use
some of this new explosive. That will mean war between Japan and the
United States, and therefore, England also, as she is Japan's ally. Do
you see?"

"Yes, I see," said Mabel quietly.

"And what do you think of the plan?"

"I think it is contemptible," declared Mabel.

"But, but" began the captain.

"I don't care to hear any more," said Mabel. "But you will not succeed,
I am sure of that. You can not succeed."

She turned on her heel and made her way back to the others, the captain
standing as if rooted to the deck as he stared after her.

Mabel turned the matter over in her mind. She felt certain that the
captain had been boasting, and the more she thought it over the more she
became convinced of it. Therefore, she decided to say nothing about it
to the others.

Under the muzzles of the revolvers of the captors of the big steamship,
captain, officers, crew and passengers now took their places in the
small boats, and were lowered over the side.

Each boat was well stocked with provisions and water, for the Germans
had no mind to set their prisoners adrift and let them starve or perish
of thirst.

The shore of Cuba was not far away, and, with steady rowing by the men,
it would be possible for them to reach there within twelve hours.
Besides, there was always the chance they would be picked up by a
passing vessel.

Fortunately, the passenger list was not large. The bulk of it had been
made up of the men who had later captured the ship. Therefore, officers,
passengers and crew included, there were not more than three hundred set

The engine room crew had been impressed into service by the Germans.