Chapter 1216326

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Chapter NumberXXV (Continued), XXVI & XXVII
Chapter TitlePoet's Corner, The Chaplain of Revenge & How Padre Grenville Won the Great Naval Battle
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article1216326
Full Date1927-08-16
Page Number6
Corrections8
Word Count2075
IllustratedN
Last Corrected2018-12-18
Newspaper TitleThe Canberra Times
Trove TitleFrom Windjammer to Battleship
article text

SERIAL STORY

FROM WINDJAMMER TO BATTLESHIP

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

BY S. G. FIELDING

(Continued)

As they sang these last words, the forms and faces of the congregation around him grew dim and indistinct. The dull roar of the distant traffic died away, and was succeeded by a strange, weird silence. Slowly the mists from the roof closed down upon them, the marble monuments, stone pillars, the Gothic arches, silently crumbled into dust, and he found himself standing hand in hand with Adele Wilkinson a thousand years ago, on the wide marsh land of the ancient "Isle of Thorns." with the red deer peeping at them through the thickets. The Thames swept by, clear and limpid, while far away in the distance they could just distinguish the little village of London. Man and maid looked into each other's eyes, and saw therein the light of

love that had no beginning and would have no ending, for it was eternal as the life of God Himself. He knew now that he had always loved, and would be loved by the girl beside him for

ever.

He was about to speak, when he was suddenly awakened from his dream fancy by a great wave of harmony that came floating down through aisle and transept, filling the Abbey with a strain of triumphant music:—

"Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be; world without end. Amen."

At the conclusion of the service, they

at once left the Abbey, Adele suggest- ing that they should visit it again some

other day. As they passed out of the

south porch into the sights and sounds of the busy city, she did not again ask him if he had been dreaming, or how he liked the service, or what he thought of the Abbey, for she knew by the rapt

look upon his face that his spirit had been far away "above the smoke and stir of this dim shot, which men call earth." Had not her own spirit been with him?

As they passed St. Margaret's, a wed- ding party emerged, and they were com- pelled to wait for a few minutes until the assembled crowd had dispersed.

"How lovely," remarked Adele, "to be married under the very shadow of the old Abbey. I wonder who they are?"

She spoke in so low a tone that Jack hardly knew whether she had ad- dressed him or not. For the moment he could not think of a suitable reply; but his thoughts were "long, long thoughts," and he made up his mind that if ever he were married, it would be in St. Margaret's, under the shadow of the old grey Abbey, and this his bride—but he was recalled to earth by a policeman roughly saying to him: "Now then, young man, move on, please ! "

CHAPTER XXVI.

THE CHAPLAIN OF THE REVENGE

The Rev. Jack Grenville, the recently appointed Chaplain to H.M.S. Revenge, had been attending a farewell Naval

parade at Westminster Abbey before leaving London for his port of em- barkation. The service had been very impressive. It would probably be the last one many of the officers and men of the fleet would take part in. The psalms, beautifully rendered, specially appealed to him; the 104th and the 107th, "There go the Ships" and "They that go down to the sea in ships, these see the works of the Lord and His wonders in the Deep," from which the special preacher. Canon Scott-Holland,

had taken his text.

As he emerged from the north tran- sept, Adele Wilkinson, his financee, joined him to say goodbye. A fashion able wedding party just leaving St. Margaret's, together with the crowd from the Abbey, compelled them to wait for some minutes at the porch for which Jack was not sorry.

"How Lovely," remarked Adele, "to be married under the very shadow of the old Abbey, and you think that can be arranged Jack on your return?"

"I am sure of it, if——" he hesitated a moment, and said, "if we are spared. It is only fair to tell you, dearest, that we may be called upon to take part in one of the greatest naval battles since the world began."

"Jack, dear," she said clinging closer to him, "for my sake you will not take any unnecessary risk. I thought Chap- lains were exempt from fighting."

"So they are, but in war time one never knows what may happen. Re- member," he said, with a laugh, "I must uphold the reputation of my great name sake, "Sir Richard Grenville, and you know I had a good sea training in the Mercantile Marine before going to Oxford and taking orders. What if an opportunity should occur for me to dis-

tinguish myself, you would not have me shirk it, Adele?"

"Oh, no! But———"

"Strange," he said interrupting her, "that I should have been appointed to the "Revenge———but, see! there is Wil- son waving to me from his car; I must be off! Goodbye darling, and God bless

you."

"May I go with you to the station?" "Bettor not, dear; it will only lengthen out the agony, no ladies as you are aware are allowed to travel by the navy special. Au Revoir; don't worry; I'll be back again before, you know it."

CHAPTER XXVII.

HOW PADRE GRENVILLE WON

THE GREAT NAVAL BATTLE

"There go the ships," the words beat in upon his brain like the burden of an old song, as the Chaplain of the "Revenge" stepped out on deck in the morning watch, while it was yet dark. It had just gone four bells, six o'clock. There was no necessity whatever for him to have turned out so early, but he could not sleep. He had lain awake thinking of the girl he had left be- hind him. Would he ever see her again ?

A report in the ward room the night before that a wireless had been picked

up to the effect that the German fleet was out, had contributed to his wake-

fulness. He had a strong presentiment that the day coming would bring forth great events that would not only affect his own little life, but the destiny of the British Empire, and that of the whole world. In addition to this it was Lieutenant Wilson's watch, and he was anxious to have a quiet chat with his friend for a few minutes about his duties before the day commenced.

As he walked forward he suddenly remembered that the words so strange- ly familiar to him formed part of one of the psalms sung in the Abbey on the

day he had embarked. "There go the

ships," and there they were, going now at the rate of twenty knots an hour. Battle ships, cruisers, torpedo craft, de- stroyers, and he, Jack Grenville, was on board one of them, a battle cruiser under the command of Captain Freder- ick Seymour, a gallant seamon. They were steaming away to the eastward, the destroyers ahead, on the look-out for the enemy fleet, which was reported to have come out from its hiding place in full strength with the intention of trying to cut off part of the British squadron.

Ahead and astern of the "Revenge" he could see the dark outlines of other huge battleships and cruisers, their shapes dwindling in size until the farth- est one appeared a mere smudge on the verge of the horizon. The great squat- looking vessel imemdiately ahed sug- gested to him the unshakesable strength of the British Empire, while the distant destroyer plunging from wave-crest to wave-crest its un- wearied activity. It puzzled him at first to account for the fact that the ships maintained the same distance from each other, although they were steaming at the rate of twenty knots an hour. There seemed to be some- thing mysterious, almost uncanny about it, as though the mighty steel fabrics were endued with a kind of intelligence; but when he went on the bridge and had a chat with Wilson who was stand- ing sextant in hand waiting to measure the angle between the mast head and the waterline of the ship ahead, the mystery was solved.

Presently a faint grey light appeared in the east, and began to steal over sea, and sky. Day was dawning. The mighty ocean seemed to quiver under the first pure gleam of the morn- ing, as though Nature herself trembled at the tragedy the day was about to bring forth. They stood gazing at the

east, until suddenly the clouds were rent, and tinged with light, and the golden wave crests flashed in the glory of the risen sun. The day had come. Evidently something unusual was happening on board the flagship, for all at once a string of coloured flags ap- peared on her mast-head. It was a

signal, even the Padre knew that, but

what it meant he could not tell, for the Naval code differed from the Mercan- tile Marine. No sooner had it blown clear, than up rang a red and while pendant from each ship of the squadron,

which the Lieutenant explained to Jack was the answer to the signal, and meant "I have seen and understand." As the flagship signal came fluttering down the ships began to change their relative positions. First, they broke off in pairs, then suddenly wheeled round, for all

the world like a company of well-drilled

soldiers on land.

So far their own were the only ships visible on the white waste of waters, but everyone on board knew instinctively that a battle, always pos- sible, was now imminent. Somewhere hidden behind the distant horizon lurk- ed the enemy ships. Sea 'planes and wireless had given to those in charge of the fleet information to this effect.

Presently another signal was run up from the flagship. It was a repetition of Nelson's famous words: "England ex- pects this day that every man will do his Duty." Words that for the last hundred years have inspired many a

great naval deed.

Bugles sounded, "all hands to action

stations!"

Long before this, the decks had been cleared for action. As they took up their respective positions, men looked into each other's faces. There was no

sign of fear on any of them, only glad- ness that the long night of waiting had passed, and "the day" had at last dawn-

ed. How would it close?

Another signal fluttered out, and the

battleship and cruisers, at once swung into fighting formation. A lumpy sea was running, and the white water streaming past their bows, broke every now and then like snow showers across their decks. Jack Grenville's heart throbbed with patriotic pride, as he watched the warships steaming into action, with the while ensign and red cross of St. George flying proudly from their mastheads, and the lean, eager muzzles of their turret guns pointing skyward and seaward, as though searching for the hidden enemy.

A few minutes later, a long-ragged smudge of smoke appeared above the eastern horizon. That was the enemy fleet, at present concealed by a smoke screen, a little later the smoke screen lifted and the gigantic shapes of several shadowy battleships and cruisers loom- ed up out of the water; from their sides now and again darted angry flashes of red flame, followed by a sound like that of distant thunder; but for the present their shells dropped short. Still they were evidently going to give battle, and were approaching fast. Probably they knew that they out numbered the British squadron, for they, too had their seaplanes and, wire-

less.

Jack's chat with his friend had been suddenly cut short by the bugle sound for action and Wilson, with a hurried apology, had at once descended to his

turret.

(To be Continued.)