In This Issue:

ADVENTURE STORY: HELD FAST FOR ENGLAND
ADVENTURE STORY: STAR ACTION

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Yours in life building,
Glenn and Diane Davis
Learn To Read Prince George and the World

Held Fast For England

HELD FAST FOR ENGLAND
By G.A. Henty
Chapter 3
An Unexpected Journey [part 2]

"You see, Robert, what you have brought down upon me," Mr. Bale said. "This comes of your telling stories about bottles, when there is a woman with one in her basket next to you."

"I really was not thinking of her when I spoke, uncle. But I am glad, now, for I really could hardly breathe, before.
"Why, uncle, I had no idea you smoked!" he added, as Mr. Bale took a cigar case from his pocket.

"I do not smoke, when I am in the city, Robert; but I see no harm in a cigar--in fact I like one--at other times. I observed a long pipe on the mantelpiece, at Mr. Medlin's; and indeed, I have seen that gentleman smoke, when we have been out together, but I have never observed him indulging in that habit, in the city."

"Oh, yes! He smokes at home," Bob said.

"I have great confidence in Mr. Medlin, Robert. You have been comfortable with him, I hope?"

"Could not be more comfortable, sir."

"An excellent man of business, Robert, and most trustworthy. A serious-minded man."

Bob was looking up, and saw a little twinkle in Mr. Bale's eye.

"You don't find it dull, I hope?"

"Not at all dull, sir. Mr. Medlin and his family are very musical."

"Musical, are they, Robert?" Mr. Bale said, in a tone of surprise. "As far as I have seen in the counting house, I should not have taken him to be musical."

"No, I don't think you would, uncle. Just the same way as one wouldn't think it likely that you would smoke a cigar."

"Well, no, Robert. You see, one must not always go by appearances."

"No, sir; that is just what Mr. Medlin says," Bob replied, smiling.

"Oh, he says that, does he? I suppose he has been telling you that we go out fishing together?"

"He did mention that, sir."

"You must not always believe what Medlin says, Robert."

"No, sir? I thought you told me he was perfectly trustworthy?"

"In some points, boy; but it is notorious that, from all times, the narratives of fishermen must be received with a large amount of caution. The man who can be trusted with untold gold cannot be relied upon to give, with even an approach to accuracy, the weights of the fish he has caught; and indeed, all his statements with reference to the pursuit must be taken with a large discount.
"You were surprised, when you heard that I went fishing, Robert?"

"Not more surprised than I was when you lit your cigar, sir."

"Well, you know what Horace said, Robert. I forget what it was in the Latin, but it meant: "'He is a poor soul, who never rejoices.'
"The bow must be relaxed, Robert, or it loses its stiffness and spring. I, myself, always bear this in mind; and endeavour to forget that there is such a place as the city of London, or a place of business called Philpot Lane, directly I get away from it."

"Don't you think that you could forget, too, uncle, that the name I am known by in the city is Robert; and that my name, at all other times, is Bob?"

"I will try to do so, if you make a point of it," Mr. Bale said, gravely; "but at the same time, it appears to me that Bob is a name for a short-tailed sheepdog, rather than for a boy."

"I don't mind who else is called by it, uncle. Besides, sheepdogs are very useful animals."

"They differ from boys in one marked respect, Bob."

"What is that, uncle?"

"They always attend strictly to business, lad. They are most conscientious workers. Now, this is more than can be said for boys."

"But I don't suppose the sheepdogs do much, while they are puppies, uncle."

"Humph! I think you have me there, Bob. I suppose we must make allowances for them both.
"Well, we shall be at Guildford in half an hour, and will stop there for dinner. I shall not be sorry to get down to stamp my feet a bit. It is very cold here, in spite of these rugs."

It was seven o'clock in the evening when the coach drew up at the George Hotel, in Portsmouth. Captain O'Halloran was at the door to meet them.

"Well, Mr. Bale, you have had a coldish drive down, today.
"How are you, Bob?"

"At present, I am cold," Bob said. "The last two hours have been bitter."

"I have taken bedrooms here for you, Mr. Bale. There is no barrack accommodation, at present, for everyone is back from leave. Any other time, we could have put you up.
"Now, if you will point out your baggage, my man will see it taken up to your rooms; and you can come straight on to me. Carrie has got supper ready, and a big fire blazing. It is not three minutes' walk from here."

They were soon seated at table and, after the meal was over, they drew round the fire.

"So you have really become a man of business, Bob," his sister said. "I was very glad to hear, from your letter, that you liked it better than you expected."

"But it will be a long while, yet, before he is a man of business, niece. It is like having a monkey in a china shop. The other day I went down to the cellar, just in time to see him put down a bottle so carelessly that it tumbled over. Unfortunately there was a row of them he had just filled; and a dozen went down, like ninepins. The corks had not been put in, and half the contents were lost before they could be righted. And the wine was worth eighty shillings a dozen."

"And what can you expect of him, Mr. Bale?" Gerald O'Halloran said. "Is it a spalpeen like that you would trust with the handling of good wine? I would as soon set a cat to bottle milk."

"He is young for it, yet," Mr. Bale agreed. "But when a boy amuses himself by breaking out of school at three o'clock in the morning, and fighting burglars, what are you to do with him?"

"I should give him a medal, for his pluck, Mr. Bale; and let him do something where he would have a chance of showing his spirit."

"And make him as wild and harum-scarum as you are, yourself, O'Halloran; and then expect him to turn out a respectable merchant, afterwards? I am sure I don't wish to be troubled with him, till he has got rid of what you call his spirits; but what are you to do with such a pickle as this? There have been more bottles broken, since he came, than there ordinarily are in the course of a year; and I suspect him of corrupting my chief clerk, and am in mortal apprehension that he will be getting into some scrape, at Hackney, and make the place too hot for him.
"I never gave you credit for much brains, Carrie, but how it was you let your brother grow up like this is more than I can tell."

Although this all sounded serious, Bob did not feel at all alarmed. Carrie, however, thought that her uncle was greatly vexed, and tried to take up the cudgels in his defence.

"I am sure Bob does not mean any harm, uncle."

"I did not say that he did, niece; but if he does harm, it comes to the same thing.
"Well, we need not talk about that now. So I hear that you are going out to the Mediterranean?"

"Yes, uncle, to Gibraltar. It is a nice station, everyone says, and I am very pleased. There are so many places where there is fighting going on, now, that I think we are most fortunate in going there. I was so afraid the regiment might be sent either to America, or India."

"And I suppose you would rather have gone where there was fighting, O'Halloran?"

"I would," the officer said, promptly. "What is the use of your going into the army, if you don't fight?"

"I should say, what is the use of going into the army, at all?" Mr. Bale said, testily. "Still, I suppose someone must go."

"I suppose so, sir," Captain O'Halloran said, laughing. "If it were not for the army and navy, I fancy you trading gentlemen would very soon find the difference. Besides, there are some of us born to it. I should never have made a figure in the city, for instance."

"I fancy not," Mr. Bale said, dryly. "You will understand, O'Halloran, that I am not objecting in the slightest to your being in the army. My objection solely lies in the fact that you, being in the army, should have married my niece; and that, instead of coming to keep house for me, comfortably, she is going to wander about, with you, to the ends of the earth."

Carrie laughed.

"How do you know someone else would not have snapped me up, if he hadn't, uncle?"

"That is right, Carrie.
"You would have found her twice as difficult to manage as Bob, Mr. Bale. You would never have kept her in Philpot Lane, if I hadn't taken her. There are some people can be tamed down, and there are some who can't; and Carrie is one of the latter.
"I should pity you, from my heart, if you had her on your hands, Mr. Bale. If ever I get to be a colonel, it is she will command the regiment."

"Well, it is good that one of us should have sense, Gerald," his wife said, laughing. "And now, you had better put the port wine on the table."

"No thank you, my dear. Your brother is half asleep, now, and it is as much as I can do to keep my eyes open. After the cold ride we have had, the sooner we get back to the George, the better.
"We will breakfast there, Carrie. I don't know what your hours are but, when I am away on a holiday, I always give myself a little extra sleep. Besides, your husband will, I suppose, have to be on duty; and I have no doubt it will suit you, as well as me, for us to breakfast at the George."

"Perhaps it will be better, uncle, if you don't mind. Gerald happens to be orderly officer for the day, and will have to get his breakfast as he can, and will be busy all the morning; but I shall be ready for you by ten."

At that hour Bob appeared, alone.

"Uncle won't come round till one o'clock, Carrie. He said he should take a quiet stroll round, by himself, and look at the ships; and that, no doubt, we should like to have a talk together."

"Is he very cross with you, Bob?" she asked, anxiously. "You know he really is kind at heart, very kind; but I am afraid he must be very hard, as a master."

"Not a bit, Carrie. I expected he was going to be so, but he isn't the least like that. He is very much liked by everyone there. He doesn't say much, and he certainly looks stiff and grim enough for anything; but he isn't so, really, not a bit."

"Didn't he scold you dreadfully about your upsetting those twelve bottles of wine?"

"He never said a word about it, and I did not know at the time he had seen me. John, the foreman--the one who used to take me out in the holidays--would not have said anything about it. He said, of course accidents did happen, sometimes, with the boys; and when they did, he himself blew them up, and there was no occasion to mention it to Mr. Bale, when it wasn't anything very serious. But of course, I could not have that; and said that either he must tell uncle, or I should.
"It really happened because my fingers were so cold I could not feel the bottle. Of course the cellar is not cold, but I had been outside, taking in a wagon load of bottles that had just arrived, and counting them, and my fingers got regularly numbed.
"So John went to the counting house, and told him about the wine being spilt. He said I wished him to tell him, and how it had happened."

"What did uncle say, Bob?"

"He said he was glad to hear that I told John to tell him; but that he knew it already, for he had just come down to the cellar when the bottles went over and, as he didn't wish to interfere with the foreman's work, had come back to the counting house without anyone noticing he had been there. He said, of course boys could not be trusted like men; and that, as he had chosen to put me there, he must put up with accidents. He never spoke about it to me, till last night."

"Well, he seemed very vexed about it, Bob, and made a great deal of it."

"He didn't mean it, Carrie; and he knew I knew he didn't mean it. He knows I am beginning to understand him."

That evening, Mr. Bale sent Bob back to the hotel by himself.

"I thought I would get him out of the way," he said, when Bob had left. "I wanted to have a chat with you about him.
"You see, Carrie, I acted hastily in taking him away from school; but it seemed to me that he must be getting into a very bad groove, to be playing such pranks as breaking out in the middle of the night. I was sorry, afterwards; partly because it had upset all my plans, partly because I was not sure that I had done the best thing by him.
"I had intended that he should have stopped for another year, at school; by that time he would be between sixteen and seventeen, and I thought of taking him into the office for six months or so, to begin with, for him to learn a little of the routine. Then I had intended to send him out to Oporto, for two years, and then to Cadiz for two years; so that he would have learnt Portuguese and Spanish well, got up all there was to learn about the different growths, and established friendly relations with my agents.
"Now, as it happens, all these plans have been upset. My agent at Oporto died, a month ago. His son succeeds him. He is a young man, and not yet married. In the first place, I don't suppose he would care about being bothered with Bob; and in the second place, boys of Bob's age are not likely to submit very quietly to the authority of a foreigner. Then, too, your brother is full of mischief and fun; and I don't suppose foreigners would understand him, in the least, and he would get into all manner of scrapes.
"My correspondent at Cadiz is an elderly man, without a family, and the same objection would arise in his case; and moreover, from what I hear from him and from other Spanish sources, there is a strong feeling against England in Spain and, now that we are at war with France, and have troubles in America, I think it likely enough they will join in against us. Of course my correspondent writes cautiously, but in his last letter he strongly advises me to buy largely, at once, as there is no saying about the future; and several of my friends in the trade have received similar advice.
"I have put the boy into the cellar for, at the moment, I could see nothing else to do with him. But really, the routine he is learning is of little importance, and there is no occasion for him to learn to do these things himself. He would pick up all he wants to know there, when he came back, in a very short time."

"Then what are you thinking of doing, uncle?" Carrie asked, after a pause, as she saw that Mr. Bale expected her to say something.

"It seems to me that a way has opened out of the difficulty. I don't want him to go back to school again. He knows quite as much Latin as is required, in an importer of wines. I want him to learn Spanish and Portuguese, and to become a gentleman, and a man of the world. I have stuck to Philpot Lane, all my life; but there is no reason why he should do so, after me. Things are changing in the city, and many of our merchants no longer live there, but have houses in the country, and drive or ride to them. Some people shake their heads over what they call newfangled notions. I think it is good for a man to get right away from his business, when he has done work.
"But this is not the point. Bob is too young to begin to learn the business abroad. Two years too young, at least. But there is no reason why he should not begin to learn Spanish. Now, I thought if I could find someone I could intrust him to, where his home would be bright and pleasant, he might go there for a couple of years. Naturally I should be prepared to pay a fair sum--say 200 pounds a year--for him, for of course no one is going to be bothered with a boy, without being paid for it."

Carrie listened for something further to come. Then her husband broke in:
"I see what you are driving at, Mr. Bale, and Carrie and myself would be delighted to have him.
"Don't you see, Carrie? Your uncle means that Bob shall stop with us, and learn the language there."

"That would be delightful!" Carrie exclaimed, enthusiastically. "Do you really mean that, uncle?"

"That is really what I do mean, niece. It seems to me that that is the very best thing we could do with the young scamp."

"It would be capital!" Carrie went on. "It is what I should like above everything."

"A nicer arrangement couldn't be, Mr. Bale. It will suit us all. Bob will learn the language, he will be a companion to Carrie when I am on duty, and we will make a man of him. But he won't be able to go out with us, I am afraid. Officers' wives and families get their passages in the transports, but I am afraid it would be no use to ask for one for Bob. Besides, we sail in four days."

"No, I will arrange about his passage, and so on.
"Well, I am glad that my proposal suits you both. The matter has been worrying me for the last three months, and it is a comfort that it is off my mind.
"I will go back to my hotel now. I will send Bob round in the morning, and you can tell him about it."

So Bob is going to Gibraltar. Little does his uncle suspect that war will soon overtake him there! Don’t miss next week’s episode.

STAR ACTION

Peter and Janet in
STAR ACTION
By Glenn Davis
copyright 2009
Chapter 1
Kidnapped

"Come on, Janet, give me back my book!" exclaimed Peter.

"Come and get it," was the lively response from his blue-eyed sister.

A cool, gentle breeze swept across the small clearing where Peter and Janet had enjoyed a picnic lunch under Axin's hot sun. Peter was now laying on the grass looking up at his sister who held out his book with a teasing gleam in her eyes. Peter closed his eyes and pretended to relax.

"What are you doing with the Book of El anyway?" Janet asked, disappointment showing in her voice. "You're not an Eler."

"I know, but the book has a lot of interesting things to say, besides it's small enough to carry with me."

Janet tossed the book at him, "Get out the Flying Disc."

Picking the book off his chest Peter commented, "I've just eaten enough to fill a Centaur and you want me to go hoping all over the place playing catch? Have a heart."

"You're only a year younger than I am so quit acting like you're fifty. Get the disc and play like a seventeen year-old should and I'll whip you."

"That'll be the day!" laughed Peter jumping up. He slid the Book of El into his back pocket. "Get ready for the fastest game you've ever played."

After fifteen minutes of running to and fro they collapsed on the soft ground. In a few minutes their laughter died down and they lay panting and soaking up the sun.

Soon faint voices reached their ears. As the voices grew steadily closer they realized the people were on a path which would take them right through the clearing. Although they didn't like the idea of having their picnic disturbed they paid no attention to the voices.

Suddenly they caught part of the conversation and it drove terror into their hearts. "This must be the biggest thing the U.R.'s have done in a long time." is all they heard but it was enough. The U.R.'s were the largest criminal organization in the known universe and they would not hesitate to kill anyone who might happen to be in their way.

Scrambling up Peter yanked Janet to her feet and together they raced for the cover of the trees. They were too late. The U.R.'s walked into the clearing. Two of them were carrying an unconscious man. They instantly spotted Peter and Janet. "Grab those kids! Smith may have a use for them later, if not we can always use them to show the Captain we mean business."

Two stun beams shot out from the U.R.'s gang and struck Peter and Janet. They fell to the ground unconscious.

It was hours later before they began to stir. Janet was the first one to open her eyes. They were in a white cell with three white walls, at least, they was supposed to be white but the three walls were so dirty they seemed black and brown. The fourth wall was an invisible force field.

Peter sat up with a slight headache and began rubbing his head. The first thing he noticed was a man sitting in the far corner watching them. The man was about forty. The top of his head was bald but brown hair, with a few traces of gray, semi-circled the rest of it. He was wearing a bright blue, pull-on shirt which identified him as a member of the U.A.F. White letters printed on his left breast pocket read: CHIEF MEDICAL OFFICER.

Peter touched Janet and she turned and saw the man. Neither of them knew much about the U.A.F. except for a few basic facts such as; U.A.F stood for United Alfra Fleet and that a U.A.F star ship patrolled and protected planets, like Axin, on the outskirts of populations centers.

The man smiled as he stood up, "Praise El the U.R.'s didn't kill you."

Puzzled Peter and Janet stood up as well. Crossing over the few feet between them the man extended his hand.

"Hi, I'm Dr. Kana of the U.A.F. Courage."

"I'm Peter and this is my sister Janet." The terror of a few hours ago had left but a gentle fear and confusion remained.

"I wonder why the U.R.'s kidnapped you?" said Dr. Kana, more to himself than to them.

Janet spoke up, "They probably thought we heard more about their plans than we did. Why they kidnapped us instead of killing us I don't know."

"El must not have wanted them to."

Janet ignored that comment. "What I would like to know is where we are."

"We're aboard one of their spaceships for sure." Dr. Kana shrugged his shoulders, "But that's all I know."

Peter had been thinking and now he said what was on his mind, "You're the real reason we are here. They took us because they thought we were in their way of escaping with you. So the important thing is why they kidnapped you."

Shaking his head slowly Dr. Kana sat down. "You're right, Peter, but I haven't the slightest idea why they kidnapped me. All I know is that I had just finished a meal at The Taste of Home with Captain Caspian, Rev. Flynn and a few others and decided to go for a walk. I was hardly outside the cafe before they grabbed me. I yelled. When the others tried to come to my rescue they were pinned down by fire from across the street. That's the last I remember until I woke up here. I guess it's all in El's hands now."

"How can you say that?" exclaimed Janet, "El's not here, He doesn't know..."

Dr. Kana spoke softly, he could see Janet was understandable upset, "El is everywhere. He is not seen, not always felt, but He's always there." A chuckle escaped from his lips. He tried to hold it back but the way Janet had just glanced around the small cell made it impossible. "No, He's not a spook either."

"Even here you're spreading your El lies," laughed a man from the other side of the force field.

All three turned to look at the speaker. He was a middle-aged man with a hawk-like nose and big bushy eyebrows. He was dressed as a man of considerable wealth and he had a low slung gun strapped to his right leg. There was something about the man, something unexplainable, that gave off a feeling of evil.

"El can't help you now," the man continued mocking, "You're in my hands...the hands of The Boss."

Dr. Kana gave a short snort at this remark but The Boss paid no attention and went on, "I want to welcome you aboard the United Raider Death."

"Cheerful name," muttered Janet.

"You two Axinians are an unexpected addition, but you should consider yourselves very lucky."

"What do you mean?" asked Peter. Somehow he hadn't quite seen how being kidnapped by U.R's was 'lucky'.

"He means we're lucky he didn't kill us." said Janet.

"What?" responded The Boss in mock surprise, "Kill two perfect specimens of a past civilization?"

"Just because Axin hasn't taken the interest in some modern things other people and planets have is no reason to call us a past civilization," said Janet, her patriotic temper flaring.

"I didn't mean it that way, although it's true. Since your people, in general, haven't left your planet and moved about the universe you two are about to become part of a rare species." A wicked grin spread over his face.

Even though they weren't exactly sure what The Boss was getting at a feeling of horror crept over the three prisoners.

"That's right," said The Boss, enjoying every minute, "in an hour I will destory the planet Axin."

"No one is that..." Janet couldn't think of a word to describe it but looking at The Boss's cheerful face she knew she was wrong.

"When you're caught your death will be slow and painful." predicted Dr. Kana.

"The greater the risk, the greater the reward."

"What is your 'reward?'" asked Dr. Kana.

With a casual wave of his hand The Boss bragged, "Fifty million Wefors."

"That's not much considering what you're doing," commented Dr. Kana, "but how are you going to get even that by blowing up a planet?"

"That's not for you to know...yet." The Boss turned and with a laugh disappeared down the hall.

Next week: Chapter Two - Out Of The Fire...



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