Dienstag, 13. September 2016

THE THIRD OFFICER by Percy F. Westerman illustrated by E.S. Hodgson and Zdenek Burian

The Third Officer, A Present-day Pirate Story by Percy F. Westerman, illustrated by Edward Smith Hodgson was first published by Blackie & Son Limited, London and Glasgow, 1921.

Percy F. Westerman 1876-1959
Despite Edward Smith Hodgson, a British painter and illustrator, illustrated a large number of  Westerman's books, there is no information on his life in the Web. Danger! (sub-titled "Being the Log of Captain Sirius") is a short story written by Arthur Conan Doyle,  first published in The Strand Magazine in july 1914, it was illustrated by E.S. Hodgson

She was a light cruiser of about 4000 tons

Black Strogoff addresses the "Donibristle's" crew

A dash for freedom

 The fate of Ah Ling

Illustrations  for The Third Officer by Zdenek Burian 1937

The third Officer Alwyn Burgoyne

His colour deepened under his tan as he replied: "You'll be getting me into a jolly hole if you persist."

Almost every officer and man on the deck of the Donibristle knew the significance of the signal. They had not served in the Outer Patrol during the Great War, when the examination of neutral merchantmen was an everyday occurrence, without learning to understand the peremptory command: "Heave-to instantly, or I will fire into you".
Such a mandate coming from a vessel flying the White Ensign was not to be treated with levity or contempt. Deeply puzzled, Captain Blair stepped to the engine-room telegraph and was about to ring for "Stop" when a startled voice—the First Officer's, although it was hardly recognizable—shouted:
"They're not bluejackets, sir; they're Chinks."

Outside this a sentry was posted, while, as an additional precaution, that for some reason was not taken in the case of the men, four villainous-looking Orientals, armed to the teeth, were stationed with the prisoners.

On landing, the Donibristle's crew were formed up in a hollow square, with armed guards patrolling the outer face of the formation. Here they were kept in suspense for more than a quarter of an hour, until the arrival of the pirate captain, Don Ramon Porfirio, attended by his lieutenants, Pablo Henriques and Black Fritz Strogoff.
Ramon Porfirio was a Bolivian by birth, but had spent most of his time since the age of sixteen in various seaports of Chili and Peru. He was about thirty-five years of age, of medium height, and inclined to corpulence. His features were remarkable, his face being round and flabby;...it will be necessary only to portray the third pirate officer, "Black" Fritz Strogoff. He was short in stature, being only about five feet four inches, and grotesquely broad in proportion to his height. He had hardly any neck, literally speaking, although figuratively he possessed plenty. His features were swarthy, while by a curious contrast his hair was of a light straw colour.
The men heard his appeal in stolid silence. The offer fell on deaf ears. They were "not having any". Ramon Porfirio would have to cast his net elsewhere to obtain his recruits.

The two chums were passing within thirty yards of the hut with the canvas annexe that formed the "galley ". As they did so a grimy, laughing face with a mass of cropped hair appeared through a slit in the canvas, and a hand was waved in friendly greeting.

The pirate in charge of the boat signed for the men to continue rowing, and steered towards the entrance. They were going to fish in the lagoon it appeared.

It was the Peruvian's cowardly performance with his boots that gave Burgoyne his chance. In his blind fury the half-caste slipped. Before he could recover his balance Alwyn was up and striking hard. The Peruvian's enormous hand was gripping his neck, but Burgoyne was jabbing lightning-like punches right over the fellow's heart. Like the rattle of a pneumatic hammer the Englishman's right fist pummelled his opponent's ribs, until the half-caste's clutch relaxed. Breaking away, Burgoyne summoned his remaining energies and delivered a terrific straight left full on the point of the pirate's jaw. The force of the blow lifted the huge bulk completely off the ground. Staggering and already unconscious, he toppled backward over the ropes into the midst of the crowd of spectators.

At the first opportunity Burgoyne broached the subject to Captain Blair. The Old Man listened carefully to the Third Officer's recital, then, to the latter's utter astonishment he said:
"I'm sorry, Mr. Burgoyne, but I refuse to give you or anyone else permission to make the attempt."

The actual descent took four minutes. To Burgoyne it seemed much longer, and it was with considerable relief that he felt his feet touch the soft sand, and was able to extricate his cramped and bruised frame from the embraces of the bowline.

Suddenly a dazzling glare leapt from the vessel and the giant beam of a searchlight swept the island. From where the three officers lay prone on the grass they could see the rim of the cliff outlined in silver. The crest of the Observation Hill was bathed in the electric gleams, but elsewhere, owing to the depression towards the centre of the plateau, the island was in darkness.
 Swimming close to the rocks on the island side of the channel, he arrived at the entrance to the harbour, and was glad to find his feet touch bottom just within the southern spur of rock that practically enclosed the anchorage.
 The next instant a flash of flame leapt from the pirates' look-out station, and a bullet whizzed shrilly above the heads of the fugitives, ricochetting fifty yards beyond the boat.

Alwyn found himself swimming mechanically with one arm, while the other held up his charge. He was dimly aware that the sea was no longer breaking but was a succession of heavy, crestless rollers, the tops feathered with spray flung upward by the howling wind.

With the frenzy of despair he regained his feet, and bending low under the weight of his burden—he was now carrying Hilda across his back like a sack of flour, but how he managed it he had not the slightest idea—he staggered rather than ran up the shelving, yielding sand until he dimly remembered stumbling blindly against the trunk of a tree.

A little farther on they discovered an oar, a length of grass rope, and another copper air-tank, all of which they collected and placed well above high-water mark.
"One minute, sir," interrupted Minalto. "What be that? We ne'er had no li'l barrel in the boat, did us?"
He pointed to a small cask, half buried in the sand It was encrusted with barnacles, and growing marine whiskers a foot or more in length.

But before the last pig had disappeared in the brushwood Jasper hurled his spear with tremendous force. The aim was good, and the nail-shod tip struck the luckless animal just behind the fore-quarters.

 So they launched a boat and rowed ashore: eight men armed with rifles, and our old friend Strogoff sporting a pair of automatics. I thought it high time to sheer off, so I crept back for about fifty yards and again watched developments."

Without hesitation Mostyn and Jasper both raised their rifles and took rapid aim. Both weapons barked simultaneously, even as Black Strogoff wildly loosed ten rounds from his pistol. The next instant the automatic was violently wrenched from the pirate-lieutenant's hand, leaving Strogoff not only defenceless, but with a dislocated wrist and his face cut in half a dozen places by fragments of the splayed nickel bullet.

The two Australian airmen did their work neatly and effectively. Standing in pursuit they sat on the tail of the pirate seaplane, and with one burst from a Lewis gun sent the latter down in a spinning nose-dive, with the machine a mass of flames.

Then in quick succession it released four powerful bombs. One secured a direct hit, blowing a block-house to atoms, while the others, falling close to the second machine-gun post, damaged it so severely that only three badly-scared men emerged from the ruins, and fled panic-stricken to a shelter of a more substantial nature.

Their method of working was simple and effective. At the entrance to each dug-out they summoned the inmates to surrender. The invitation was invariably declined with expressions of rage and defiance until a smoke bomb was neatly lobbed into the underground retreat. In a very brief space of time a dozen or more half-suffocated rogues would appear staggering through the smoke, to be secured and bound almost without resistance by the burly Australian bluejackets.

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