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Just a reminder, once a month we publish a full newsletter but every week we have the continuing stories. You can easily tell them apart. The monthly newsletter is numbers only [001, 002, etc] while the in between newsletters with only the stories in them have a letter after the number [001A, 001B, etc]. If you are not interested in the stories you can easily delete these and still enjoy the full monthly newsletter. The next monthly newsletter will be sent July 01/09.

We trust we will see you here next month.

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

Held Fast For England

By G.A. Henty
Chapter 13
Oranges And Lemons

There was great anxiety in Gibraltar that night, for the wind was very light and from the wrong direction and, in the morning, it was seen that the greater portion of the convoy had drifted far away to the east. Soon after noon, however, the Edgar managed to get in with the Spanish admiral's flagship--the Phoenix, of eighty guns--and in the evening the Prince George, with eleven or twelve ships, worked in round Europa Point; but Admiral Rodney, with the main body of the fleet and the prizes, was forced to anchor off Marbella--a Spanish town--fifteen leagues east of Gibraltar. It was not until seven or eight days later that the whole of the fleet and convoy arrived in the port.

On the 29th a transport came in with the 2nd battalion of the 73rd Regiment, with 944 rank and file. A large number of heavy cannon, from the prizes, were landed; and several hundreds of barrels of powder, in addition to those brought out with the convoy. Great stores of salt provisions and supplies of flour had been brought out but, unfortunately, little could be done towards providing the garrison with a supply of fresh meat. Had Admiral Rodney been able to remain with his fleet at Gibraltar, supplies could have been brought across from the African coast; but the British fleet was required elsewhere, and the relief afforded was a temporary one. The garrison was, however, relieved by a large number of the soldiers' wives and children being put on board the merchantmen, and sent home to England. Many of the poor inhabitants were also taken, either to Barbary or Portugal.

While the fleet was in port, the Spanish blockading squadron was moored close under the guns of Algeciras; and booms were laid round them, to prevent their being attacked by the boats of the British fleet. An opportunity was taken, of the presence of the Spanish admiral in Gibraltar, to arrange for an exchange of prisoners; and on the 13th of February the fleet sailed away, and the blockade was renewed by the Spaniards.

After the departure of the fleet, many months passed monotonously. The enemy were ever increasing and strengthening their works, which now mounted a great number of cannon; but beyond an occasional interchange of a few shots, hostilities were carried on languidly. The enemy made two endeavours to burn the British vessels, anchored under the guns of the batteries, by sending fire ships down upon them; but the crews of the ships of war manned the boats and, going out to meet them, towed them ashore; where they burned out without doing damage, and the hulls, being broken up, afforded a welcome supply of fuel.

The want of fresh meat and vegetables operated disastrously upon the garrison. Even before the arrival of the relieving fleet, scurvy had shown itself; and its ravages continued, and extended, as months went on. The hospitals became crowded with sufferers--a third of the force being unfit for any duty--while there were few but were more or less affected by it.

As soon as it became severe, Captain O'Halloran and his wife decided to sell no more vegetables; but sent the whole of their supply, beyond what was needed for their personal consumption, to the hospitals.

During these eight months, only a few small craft had managed to elude the vigilance of the enemy's cruisers and, frequently, for many weeks at a time, no news of any kind from without reached the besieged. The small supplies of fresh meat that had, during the early part of the siege, been brought across in small craft from Barbary, had for some time ceased altogether; for the Moors of Tangiers had, under pressure of the Spaniards, broken off their alliance with us and joined them and, in consequence, not only did supplies cease to arrive, but English vessels entering the Straits were no longer able to anchor, as they had before done, under the guns of the Moorish batteries for protection from the Spanish cruisers.

Several times there were discussions between Bob, his sister, and Captain O'Halloran as to whether it would not be better for him to take the first opportunity that offered of returning to England. Their argument was that he was wasting his time, but to this he would not at all agree.

"I am no more wasting it, here, than if I were in Philpot Lane," he said. "It will be plenty of time for me to begin to learn the routine of the business, when I am two or three and twenty. Uncle calculated I should be four years abroad, learning the languages and studying wines. Well, I can study wines at any time; besides, after all, it is the agents out here that choose them. I can speak Spanish, now, like a native, and there is nothing further to be done in that way; I have given up lessons now with the doctor, but I get plenty of books from the garrison library, and keep up my reading. As for society, we have twenty times as much here, with the officers and their families, as I should have in London; and I really don't see there would be any advantage, whatever, in my going back.
"Something must be done here, some day. And after all, the siege does not make much difference, in any way, except that we don't get fresh meat for dinner. Everything goes on just the same only, I suppose, in peace time we should make excursions, sometimes, into Spain. The only difference I can make out is that I am able to be more useful to you, now, with the garden and poultry, than I could have been if there had been no siege."

There was indeed no lack of society. The O'Hallorans' was perhaps the most popular house on the Rock. They were making quite a large income from their poultry, and spent it freely. Presents of eggs, chicken, and vegetables were constantly being sent to all their friends, where there was any sickness in the family; and as, even at the high prices prevailing, they were able to purchase supplies of wine, and such other luxuries as were obtainable, they kept almost open house and, twice a week, had regular gatherings with music; and the suppers were vastly more appreciated, by their guests, than is usually the case at such entertainments.

Early in September, when scurvy was still raging, the doctor was, one day, lamenting the impossibility of obtaining oranges and lemons.

"It makes one's heart ache," he said, "to see the children suffer. It is bad enough that strong men should be scarcely able to crawl about; but soldiers must take their chances, whether they come from shot or from scurvy; but it is lamentable to see the children fading away. We have tried everything--acids and drugs of all sorts--but nothing does any good. As I told you, I saw the scurvy on the whaling trip I went, and I am convinced that nothing but lemon juice, or an absolutely unlimited amount of vegetables, will do any good."

A week previously, a small privateer had come in with some mailbags, which she had brought on from Lisbon. Among them was a letter to Bob from the owners of the Antelope. It had been written months before, after the arrival of the brig and her two prizes in England. It said that the two vessels and their cargoes had been sold, and the prize-money divided; and that his share amounted to three hundred and thirty-two pounds, for which sum an order upon a firm of merchants at Gibraltar was inclosed. The writers also said that, after consultation with Captain Lockett, from whom they had heard of the valuable services he had rendered, the owners of the Antelope had decided--as a very small mark of their appreciation, and gratitude--to present him with a service of plate, to the value of five hundred pounds, and in such form as he might prefer on his return to England.

He had said nothing to his sister of this letter, as his intention was to surprise her with some present. But the doctor's words now determined him to carry into effect an idea that had before occurred to him, upon seeing so many sickly children among the families of the officers of their acquaintance.

"Look here, doctor," he said, "I mean to go out and try and get a few boxes of oranges and lemons; but mind, nobody but you and I must know anything about it."

"How on earth do you mean to do it, Bob?"

"Well, I have not settled, yet; but there can't be any difficulty about getting out. I might go down to the Old Mole, and swim from there to the head of the bay; or I might get some of the fishermen to go round the point, and land me to the east, well beyond the Spanish lines."

"You couldn't do that, Bob; there is too sharp a lookout kept on the batteries. No craft is allowed to go any distance from the Rock, as they are afraid of the Spaniards learning the state to which we are reduced, by illness. If you did swim to the head of the bay, as you talk about, you would be certain to be captured at once, by the Spaniards; and in that case you would, as likely as not, be shot as a spy."

"Still, deserters do get out, you know, doctor. There is scarcely a week that two or three don't manage to get away. I mean to try, anyhow. If you like to help me, of course it will make it easier; if not, I shall try by myself."

"Gerald and your sister would never forgive me, if anything happened to you, Bob."

"There is no occasion for them to know anything about it. Anyhow, I shall say nothing to them. I shall leave a note behind me, saying that I am going to make an attempt to get out, and bring back a boat full of oranges and lemons. I am past seventeen, now; and am old enough to act for myself. I don't think, if the thing is managed properly, there is any particular risk about it. I will think it over, by tomorrow, and tell you what plan I have fixed on."

On the following day, Bob told the doctor that there were two plans.

"The first is to be lowered by a rope, down at the back of the Rock. That is ever so much the simplest. Of course, there is no difficulty about it if the rope is long enough. Some of the deserters have failed because the rope has been too short, but I should take care to get one long enough. The only fear is the sentries; I know that there are lots of them posted about there, on purpose to prevent desertion."

"Quite so, Bob; and no one is allowed to go along the paths after dark, except on duty."

"Well, the other plan is to go out with the party that furnishes the sentries, down on the neutral ground; choose some dark night, manage to get separated from them, as they march out, and then make for the shore and take to the water. Of course, if one could arrange to have the officer with the party in the secret, it would make it easy enough."

"It might be done, that way," the doctor said, thoughtfully. "Have you quite made up your mind to do this thing, Bob?"

"I have quite made up my mind to try, anyhow."

"Well, if you mean to try, Bob, it is just as well that you shouldn't get shot, at the start. I have just been round to the orderly room. Our regiment furnishes the pickets on the neutral ground, tonight. Captain Antrobus commands the party. He is a good fellow and, as he is a married man, and all four of his children are bad with scurvy, he would feel an interest in your attempt.
"You know him as well as I do. If you like, I will go with you to his quarters, and see what we can do with him."

They at once set out.

"Look here, Antrobus," the doctor said, after asking that officer to come out for a chat with him, "if we don't get some lemon juice, I am afraid it will go very hard with a lot of the children."

"Yes, we have known that for some time, doctor."

"Well, Repton here has made up his mind to try to get out of the place, and make his way to Malaga, and get a boatload of fruit and try to bring it in. Of course he will go dressed as a native, and he speaks Spanish well enough to pass anywhere, without suspicion. So, once beyond the lines, I don't see much difficulty in his making his way to Malaga. Whether he will get back again is another matter, altogether. That is his business. He has plenty of money to purchase the fruit, when he arrives there; and to buy a boat, and all that sort of thing.
"The difficulty is in getting out. Now, nobody is going to know how he does this, except our three selves."

"But why do you come to me, Burke?"

"Because you command the guard, tonight, on the neutral ground. What he proposes is that he should put on a soldier's greatcoat and cap, and take a firelock and, in the dark, fall in with your party. When you get well out on the neutral ground, he could either slip away and take his chance or, what would be better still, he might be in the party you take forward to post as sentries, and you could take him along with you, so that he would go with you as far as the shore; and could then slip away, come back a bit, so as to be out of sight of the farthest sentry, and then take to the water.
"He can swim like a fish, and what current there is will be with him; so that, before it began to be light, he could land two or three miles beyond the Spanish lines. He is going to leave a note behind, for O'Halloran, saying he has left; but no one will know whether he got down at the back of the Rock, or swam across the bay, or how he has gone.
"I have tried to dissuade him; but he has made up his mind to try it and, seeing that--if he succeeds--it may save the lives of scores of children, I really cannot refuse to help him."

"Well, I don't know," Captain Antrobus said. "There certainly does not seem much risk in his going out, as you say. I should get a tremendous wigging, no doubt, if he is discovered, and it was known that I had a hand in it; but I would not mind risking that, for the sake of the children.
"But don't take a firelock, Repton. The sergeants would be sure to notice that there was an extra man. You had better join us, just as we set out. I will say a word or two to you, then do you follow on, in the dark. The men will suppose you are one of the drummers I am taking with me, to serve as a messenger, or something of that sort. That way you can follow close behind me, while I am posting the sentries after leaving the main body at the guardhouse. After posting the last man at the seashore, I can turn off with you for a few yards, as if giving you an order.
"Then I will go back and stay for a time with the last sentry, who will naturally think that the drummer has been sent back to the guardhouse. I will recommend him to be vigilant, and keep by him for some time, till I am pretty sure you have taken to the water and swam past; so that if the sentry should hear a splash, or anything, I can say it can only be a fish; and that, at any rate, it would not do to give an alarm, as it cannot be anything of consequence.
"You see, you don't belong to the garrison, and it is no question of assisting a deserter to escape. Anyhow, I will do it."

Thanking Captain Antrobus greatly, for his promise of assistance, Bob went off into the town; where he bought a suit of Spanish clothes, such as would be appropriate for a small farmer or trader. He then presented his letter of credit at the merchant's, and drew a hundred pounds, which he obtained in Spanish gold. This money and the clothes he put in an oilskin bag, of which the mouth was securely closed. This he left at the doctor's.

As soon as it became dark he went down again. The doctor had a greatcoat and hat in readiness for him--there being plenty of effects of men who had died in the hospital--and as soon as Bob had put them on, walked across--with Bob following him--to the spot where Captain Antrobus' company were falling in. Just as they were about to march, the doctor went up to the captain; who after a word or two with him said to Bob, in a voice loud enough to be heard by the noncommissioned officer, close to him:
"Well, you will keep by me."

The night was a dark one, and the party made their way down to the gate, where the passwords were exchanged; and the company then moved along by the narrow pathway between the artificial inundation and the foot of the Rock. They continued their way until they arrived at the building that served as the main guard of the outlying pickets. Here two-thirds of the company were left; and the captain led the others out, an officer belonging to the regiment whose men he was relieving accompanying him. As the sentries were posted the men relieved fell in, under the orders of their officer and, as soon as the last had been relieved, they marched back to the guardhouse.

A minute later, Captain Antrobus turned to Bob.

"You need not wait," he said. "Go back to the guardhouse. Mind how you go."

Bob saluted and turned off, leaving the officer standing by the sentry. He went some distance back, then walked down the sand to the water's edge, and waded noiselessly into the water. The oilskin bag was, he knew, buoyant enough to give him ample support in the water.

When he was breast deep, he let his uniform cloak slip off his shoulders; allowed his shoes to sink to the bottom, and his three-cornered hat to float away. The doctor had advised him to do this.

"If you leave the things at the edge of the water, Bob, it will be thought that somebody has deserted; and then there will be a lot of questions, and inquiries. You had better take them well out into the sea with you, and then let them go. They will sink, and drift along under water and, if they are ever thrown up, it will be far beyond our lines. In that way, as the whole of the guard will answer to their names, when the roll is called tomorrow, no one will ever give a thought to the drummer who fell in at the last moment; or, if one of them does think of it, he will suppose that the captain sent him into the town, with a report."

The bag would have been a great encumbrance, had Bob wanted to swim fast. As it was, he simply placed his hands upon it, and struck out with his feet, making straight out from the shore. This he did for some ten minutes; and then, being certain that he was far beyond the sight of anyone on shore, he turned and, as nearly as he could, followed the line of the coast. The voices of the sentries calling to each other came across the sea, and he could make out a light or two in the great fort at the water's edge.

It was easy work. The water was, as nearly as possible, the temperature of his body; and he felt that he could remain for any time in it, without inconvenience. The lights in the fort served as a mark by which he could note his progress; and an hour after starting he was well abreast of them, and knew that the current must be helping him more than he had expected it would do.

Another hour, and he began to swim shorewards; as the current might, for aught he knew, be drifting him somewhat out into the bay. When he was able to make out the dark line ahead of him, he again resumed his former course. It was just eight o'clock when the guard had passed through the gate. He had started half an hour later. He swam what seemed to him a very long time, but he had no means of telling how the time passed.

Will Bob make it? And if he does, how will he return. Don’t miss next week’s episode.


Peter and Janet in
Star Action
By Glenn Davis
copyright 2009
Chapter 18
Deeper In Trouble

"This isn't going to be easy," commented Cosmic, peering out from between two trees at the werewolves' camp. Their little group was standing among a grove of trees on the ridge of a hill.

The werewolves' camp was down in the valley. An eighteen foot, electrified fence surrounded the compound. Beyond the fence were several single story cement buildings. Except for a few werewolves on guard duty the place seemed almost deserted.

"What is the importance of this hidden base?" asked Stormer.

"Many of our top secret experiments are carried out here. Our security has been stepped up since your captain was captured. They are afraid of a major counterattack.

"I suppose that netting over the camp makes it invisible to the scanners as well as to the eye." said Cosmic.

"Yes, it does do a good job."

"Where are Captain Caspian and Dr. Kana being held?"

"The prison cells are a little off to the side of the center of the compound."

"How do you suggest we free them?"

"We ought to walk up to their gates and blast our way in," exclaimed Cosmic, "Then clear a path to the captain and Dr. Kana and blast our way out."

"What do you think, Sam?"

"You wouldn't make it five feet past the gate going that way. At any sign of trouble they would have enough personnel there you'd need a full-fledged army to cut your way though.

"If we're going to make it, it will have to be in secret. I'll go down and get some transportation. Then I'll drive you right to the cells. With luck we can be in and out before they even realize anything is wrong."

"Nay, not with luck, but with the mighty hand of El."

"You mean we're not going to leave our mark on them for what they've done to Captain Caspian and Dr. Kana?" said a disappointed Cosmic.

"Correct, there are more things at stake than teaching lessons. Sam, do as you have said."

"Ok. You just follow this ridge until you come to a road. Wait for me there."

Sam hurriedly went to the right. The rest started along the left side taking care to keep among the trees. About a half an hour later they came to the road.

As they were sitting down behind a few bushes to wait Cosmic asked, "What are we going to do with the cubs while we go into the compound, leave them here?"

"No way!" exclaimed Janet, "We're coming with you."

"It's too dangerous." replied Cosmic.

"We have a right to be there. If not for us you wouldn't even know Captain Caspian and Dr. Kana weren't killed by U.R.'s."

"They must come with us."

"What! Come on Stormer..."

"We must not tie ourselves down to one escape route," Stormer said plainly. No one could tell if that was his real reason or not.

"Then I guess we have no choice," said Cosmic reluctantly, "but you two cubs will have to stay out of the way."

Janet was about to angrily reply when Peter cut her off, "We'll try." Softly he added to her, "No use in arguing. At least, we'll be there if they need us."

A soft tinkling noise caught their attention. Coming down the road from the direction of the camp was a troop transport. It was painted a drab green. As it came along it hovered about two feet above the surface of the road. In the center of the front of the transport was the driver's compartment, in it there was room for only one person. Behind the driver's compartment was the box used for transporting troops and supplies. Its roof and sides were covered with a thick tarp. It was the sound of the metal rings on the end of the tarp hitting the transport sides which had attracted their attention.

A werewolf sat behind the steering wheel. It looked like Sam... but it was hard to tell the difference. The transport went a little past the and then turned around. It came to a stop about twenty feet away from where they were hiding.

After checking to make sure no one else was in sight they stepped from the trees onto the road. Sam motioned them to quickly climb in. A few minutes later they started off. Cosmic went to the rear and pulled the tarp down over the end. They were on their way guiding down the road, into the heart of enemy territory.

"I still don't like it," muttered Cosmic, "Everything depends on Sam being what he says he is. If he isn't we're trapped with no way out."

"It was and is our only hope of rescuing Captain Caspian and Dr. Kana," replied Stormer.

"Think of it as just being a greater adventure," commented Janet rather drily.

Ten minutes later the transport came to a stop. Stormer and Cosmic had their guns pointed at the back flap. Janet's hands were sweating as she held her gun on her lap. She couldn't get a shot at the door anyway because Stormer's huge horse body blocked her. A few minutes later Sam jumped into the back. Stormer and Cosmic lowered their guns.

"How were planning to return to your starship?" he asked bluntly.

Cosmic looked surprised, "We were going to let Captain Caspian take my Flyer and go with Stormer. The rest of us will hide or fight until they get back."

"That's what I was afraid of. Apparently your Flyers were discovered because I just caught part of a broadcast saying they were partly dismantled."

"Their slimy hands are taking my Flyer apart!" exploded Cosmic jumping up. He promptly sat down again as his head hit a metal bar.

"How far are they dismantled?"

"As far as I could make out, just a few pieces."

"Where will these pieces be?"

"Probably in the same area as the Flyers."

"How long till they are finished for the day?"

Now it was Sam's turn to be surprised, "They're not working on it now. It was some poor clerks report I caught. The camp doesn't come alive until after dark."

"Cosmic, you are the fastest of us. You can reassemble the necessary parts on the Flyers, while I rescue Captain Caspian and Dr. Kana."

"You get all the fun."

Stormer ignored him and continued, "Then you and I will attack the compound, giving Sam time to escape with the others in this transport. We will regroup away from here and carry out our original plan."

"Now we're going places!" said Cosmic.

"The next stop I make will be at the guard gate. After that will be the one where Cosmic drops out. If you go through the closest door you will find your Flyers. I doubt anyone will be around. Then I will go on to the prisoners section."

"That sounds good, so let's go."

Sam went back to the cab. They made it through the gate without any problems. If this was indeed a trap they were deep in trouble. All too soon they were at the second stop.

"May El be with us all," muttered Stormer as Cosmic lifted the flap and crawled out.

When the transport came to a stop for the third time Peter and Janet's hearts were thumping so hard they felt sure the whole camp could hear them. Before they could climb out Sam jumped in the back.

"In the prison section there are likely to be one or two guards. It is best if I go in alone. If I need help I will return, if not I will bring your Captain back with me." With that Sam vanished.

"I don't like the way he keeps forgetting Dr. Kana," muttered Janet.

Stormer signaled them to be quiet. It wouldn't do for werewolves who might be passing by, to hear voices and investigate.

The next ten minutes seemed to be longest in their lives. Every nerve in their bodes were alert to possible danger. They realized that at any moment they could be fighting for their lives. Peter felt naked without a gun because there was nothing he could do at all except keep out of the way. But strangely none of the three were worried. Even in their desperate situation, a sense of peace filled them. They knew deep inside that El was with them, and as long as they didn't make any stupid mistakes, He was going to take care of them.

Janet jumped, the flap suddenly swung back a bit. Stormer never moved, his eyes and gun fixed on the flap. D r. Kana climbed in. He looked tired but otherwise none the worse for his experiences.

Then came Captain Caspian. It was obvious the werewolves had concentrated on her. She looked tired too, but more so than Dr. Kana. Her eyes were bloodshot, her hair was a mess, and parts of her uniform were ripped. There were also a few bruises on her face and from the way she moved, it wasn't hard to guess that there were bruises in quite a number of other places as well. Something about her gave the impression she was mentally tired as well, as if she had been using all her mental strength to combat the werewolves. Perhaps this was the greater battle of the two.

No one talked as the transport began moving, they just sat with expressions of joy on their faces. The transport came to a halt behind a large cement building. Stormer was about to leap out so that he could help Captain Caspian and Dr. Kana down when Cosmic's face appeared. He motioned him back as he climbed in. He was followed closely by Sam.

"It's great to see you Captain, Dr." he said with a nod of his head. Captain Caspian nodded her response, partly because she felt too tired to reply and partly because she knew something else was on Cosmic's mind. Cosmic's eyes darted back and forth from Captain Caspian to Stormer as he said, "The small part they've taken out is the Lector. I've searched through this building and can't see any sign of it."

"What's the Lector?" asked Sam.

"It's the power supply for the Flyers, without it they're not going anywhere."

"They probably took it to the Sargot building. It will be impossible to retrieve now."

"What about your Flyers?" Stormer asked Peter and Janet without turned to look at them, because of the cramped quarters.

"They're under goodness knows how many feet of water," said Janet gloomily.

"The Courage will send more help, won't they?" said Captain Caspian, whose weary mind was having a hard time grasping why only Stormer and Cosmic had been sent with Peter and Janet.

"No, we cannot expect any assistance from that direction. Smith is in command and Rev. Flynn is under arrest for your murder."

Captain Caspian glanced around. She was struggling hard to control her emotions. Once again her hopes had been raised only to be dashed into pieces. With all the pressure she had been under she felt she was near her breaking point. Trying to keep despair out of her voice she said, "Then we are the Courage's only hope... and we are stuck on this planet for the rest of our lives!"

How are they going to escape the werewolves and return the the Courage? No miss next week.

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