Motor Boat Boys Down the Danube; or, Four Chums Abroad

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They passed many famous old castles]

MOTOR BOAT BOYS DOWN THE DANUBE

OR

Four Chums Abroad

BY LOUIS ARUNDEL

MADE IN U. S. A.

M. A. DONOHUE & COMPANY CHICAGO NEW YORK

Copyright, 1915 M. A. DONOHUE & CO. CHICAGO

Made in U. S. A.

CONTENTS

CHAPTER PAGE I. FOUR CHUMS ABROAD 7 II. THE NEWS OF WAR AT BUDAPEST 18 III. TAKING CHANCES 30 IV. UNDER SUSPICION 43 V. SIGNS OF COMING TROUBLE 56 VI. THE CAMP ON THE RIVER BANK 68 VII. WHEN THE STORM CAME 80 VIII. THE SPORT OF THE ELEMENTS 93 IX. THE HUNGARIAN MOB 105 X. CLEVERLY DONE 118 XI. UNDER FIRE ON THE RIVER 130 XII. NEARING THE SCENE OF WAR 142 XIII. THE BOY FROM SERBIA 155 XIV. FRIENDS IN TIME OF NEED 164 XV. THE BOOMING OF BIG GUNS 175 XVI. UNDER COVER OF NIGHT 182 XVII. AMIDST BURSTING SHELLS 194 XVIII. THE SMASHING OF THE PONTOON BRIDGE 206 XIX. THE AFTERMATH OF BATTLE 218 XX. A RESCUE BY THE WAY 227 XXI. A HALF-WAY STOP 241 XXII. CONSTANTINOPLE AT LAST--CONCLUSION 250

The Motorboat Boys Down the Danube

CHAPTER I

FOUR CHUMS ABROAD

”So this is the famous Budapest, is it, the twin cities of the blueDanube we've been hearing so much about?”

”Huh! doesn't strike me as so very much of a wonderful place. When youcome to think of it, little old New York and Brooklyn can beat it allhollow so far as bustle and business go; even Chicago would run it a hotrace.”

”Now that's just like you, George Rollins, always ready to find fault,and throw cold water on everything. No wonder they've called you'Doubting George' this long time back. There's always a flaw somewhere,you believe, and so you look for it right along.”

”Between you and me, Buster, I don't think he ever will be cured of thatnasty habit. Why can't he see the bright side of things once in a while,and be an optimist, like our chum and commodore, Jack Stormways?”

”Oh, you ought to know by this time, Josh, a leopard can't change itsspots. I reckon our friend George here has spasms of reform once in justso often; but his weakness is ground in, and his resolves collapse, sohe goes back to his old ways again.”

”You don't say, Buster? Kindly take pity on my ignorance and tell mewhat there is so wonderful about this old Hungarian capital perched onthe banks of the Danube and joined by bridges? I'm willing to have thescales taken from my eyes.”

”Oh, well, first there's the river itself, not dirty water like most ofour streams over in the States, but clear, and almost the color of theblue sky overhead.”

”Sounds fine, Buster. Good for you; go ahead and open his blind eyessome more. It was always George's way to have his nose down over theengine of his Wireless motorboat, and never see a blessed thing aroundhim. Hit him again for his mother, Buster.”

”Then look at the clear atmosphere; the picturesque buildings hangingover the river banks; the queer shaped boats running back and forth; theremarkable costumes of these Magyars; and last, but far from least, thatglorious August sunset painting the little clouds in the west crimsonand green and gold. I tell you it's a scream of a place, if you've gotany eyes in your head.”

”Buster, you're a wonder at word painting, though I reckon you cribbedsome of that stuff from the guide book. What do you say to it now, oldIf and But and Maybe?”

”Why, it looks good enough, I own up, fellows, but chances are all thisis only on the surface. Scratch the veneer off when you go ashoreto-morrow, and prowl around, and you'll find Budapest just as rotten atthe core as Chicago.”

”Don't waste any more words on the growler, Buster. There's such a thingas casting pearls before swine, you know--not saying that our chum hereis really and truly a _hog_; but all the same he grunts like one. Let'stalk about our own affairs.”

”Wonder if Jack will fetch a sheaf of letters back from the postoffice?And say, I'm just a little mite anxious to learn how that spat betweenSerbia and Austria is going to turn out.”

”All of us are, Buster, and have been ever since we read how the GrandDuke who was the latest heir to the Austrian throne after Francis Josephwas murdered with his wife by some Serbian hothead conspirators.”

”Oh, as far as that goes, Josh, I figure that the game little bantamwill have to take water and back down, after all this strutting around,just to show that Serbians have pluck.”

”Don't be too sure of that, fellows,” put in George; ”you mustn't forgetthat Russia, yes, and France, too, are back of Serbia. There may besomething more come out of this rattling of sabres in their scabbardsthan only a tempest in a teapot.”

”Then it would be Russia and France against the two Teuton States,”remarked the boy answering to the suggestive name of Buster; ”andknowing how the Kaiser has been getting his country ready for a scrapthis long while, I'd bet on them to turn the trick.”

George, despite his failings, seemed to have read up on the matter andbe pretty well posted on facts.

”But there's always a big chance it wouldn't stop there,” he announced,with an air of importance; ”other countries would sooner or later bedrawn into the scramble, because everybody believes there's going to bean Armageddon or great world war before the era of peace finally comesalong.”

”Just what do you mean?” demanded Josh.

”There's Great Britain, for instance; she's bound to France in some way,and may have to shy her castor into the ring. Then her ally in the East,Japan, may choose to knock out Germany's holding in China, just tooblige. Besides, Italy must show her hand, and for one I can't believeshe'll stand for her old enemy, Austria. And last, but not least,there's Turkey, hand in glove with Germany, besides all those scrappylittle Balkan States, from Greece to Bulgaria and Rumania, who willfight just as they think their interests lie.”

”Whee! but it would be a grand smash-up if all that comes off!”ejaculated Buster. ”I'd sure hate to pay the bills. It'd take me sometime to get enough of the long green together I sure reckon.”

”Seems to me it's high time for Jack to be showing up,” ventured Josh.”I hope he hasn't run up against any trouble, being unable to speak eventen words of German, while the Magyar tongue is a sealed book to him.”

”I hinted to Jack that perhaps I'd better be the one to go,” saidGeorge, modestly, ”because I know German fairly well; but he onlylaughed, and said there were lots of ways of communicating with aHungarian as long as both parties had their hands to use and could winkand nod.”

”Oh, well, while we're waiting for him here on our old powerboat that wechartered,” said Buster, with a resigned air, ”I'm going to take timeto make out a list of groceries we want to lay in while we're at thecapital. Goodness knows if we'll have a half-way decent chance to buyanything worth eating again before we strike the Serbian border, andthen push on through Rumania to the Black Sea.”

George and Josh also sought comfortable seats where they could loungeand watch in a lazy fashion the bustling scene around them; for therewere dozens of quaint sights to be seen if one only used his eyes.

While the three lads are thus employed, awaiting the coming of theircomrade who had gone to get their mail at the general postoffice, a fewwords of explanation concerning them may not come amiss.

These four boys belonged to a motorboat club over in the Middle West,their home being on the upper Mississippi River. There were two othermembers, who had not made the trip abroad, by name Herb Dickson andJimmy Brannagan, the latter a ward of Jack Stormways' father.

Buster, of course, had another name, which was Nicholas Longfellow.Nature had in a way played a sad joke on the boy, for, while a Longfellowby family relation, he was also pudgy and fat, always wheezing whenexerting himself, but as jolly as could be, full of good nature, andwilling to go to any trouble to help a friend, yes, or even an enemy.

Josh Purdue had a strain of the Yankee in him, for he was as sharp as asteel trap, though perfectly honest. As an all-round comrade Josh couldnot very well be excelled.

George Rollins was a good-enough chap too, though he complained attimes, and was so inclined to want to be shown that his friends haddubbed him ”Old Missouri” and ”Doubting George.”

These six boys had gone through a good many lively times together,as they possessed three motorboats of different models, called theWireless, a cracky craft built for racing, and which gave George, theskipper, much trouble; the Tramp, which Jack commanded; and the beamyComfort, run by Herb Dickson.

It would be utterly impossible for us to undertake to mention a titheof their interesting and thrilling escapades while cruising in theseboats. If the reader who has made their acquaintance for the first timein this volume desires to know more about these happenings, he isreferred to the six earlier books in the Motorboat Boys' Series, allof which can be easily procured.

As to just how the interesting quartette of wide-awake American boyscame to be running down the historical Danube River in the late summerof nineteen-fourteen, that can be easily explained.

Some of their parents were well-to-do, and as school would not beginthis year until some time in October or November, it was at firstsuggested in a spirit of fun, and then debated as an actual possibility,that they coax their folks to let them go abroad for a season.

Needless to say that as the lads had considerable money in the treasury,thanks to their having been instrumental in capturing some bold bankrobbers who had run away with the funds of an institution, they werefinally able to gain their folks' consent.

Then came the question of what they would like to do most of all. Bythis time they had come to be such cruisers that they could not bear thethought of following in the footsteps of the general run of Europeantourists. Any one could read all about the cities in the magazineaccounts, as well as the many books of foreign travel.

It was Jack who made a startling proposition that caught the fancy ofthe other three from the first.

He had lately been reading an account of a canoe trip made by an Englishgentleman all the way down the Danube from its source in Germany not farfrom the Rhine, through Austria-Hungary, along the Serbian border, andthen through Rumania until he finally reached the Black Sea, and broughtup at Constantinople.

The account was so vividly written up that it appealed strongly to Jack,and his proposition was that they make their way to some place furtherdown the beautiful river than his starting point, charter some kind of amotorboat, and continue the voyage. They could thus get to the Turkishcapital in good time after a most interesting trip, take a steamer toLondon, and come home in that way.

Well, the more they talked it over the stronger grew the inclination toenjoy a water voyage through a most interesting country, the praises ofwhich they had seen sung in many an account they managed to unearth atthe library.

Eventually this was just what the daring quartette had done. Theywere lucky enough to get hold of a pretty fair powerboat that wouldaccommodate four sleepers with some crowding. This they had fitted up tosuit themselves, for long experience in camping out had made them wisein many particulars. And, Buster considered this the most important partof the whole business, they had found a little kerosene blue-flame stovesomething like those they owned at home, upon which many of their futuremeals were likely to be cooked.

The party had only been a short time on the way when they brought up atthe Hungarian capital, where it was planned to spend a couple of daysprying around; for they had reason to believe they would run across nolarge city save Belgrade in Serbia until they crossed the Black Sea andcame to Constantinople.

As often happens, the best laid plans often go astray, and, looking backto former scenes, the four chums could pick out several other instanceswhen this had happened to them.

Buster had just finished his long list of eatables, in which he jotteddown everything that appealed to his voracious appetite, when Josh washeard saying he had glimpsed Jack coming. All of them therefore jumpedup to greet the bearer of the mailbag, being greatly interested in newsfrom the home folks.

”Something has happened, as sure as you live!” exclaimed Josh as thefourth member of the little party drew closer; ”look at Jack's face,will you? He couldn't be more solemn if he had been told he was going tobe hung to-morrow.”

”No bad news from across the sea, I hope, Jack?” faltered Buster.

Jack Stormways, who was a resolute looking young fellow, a born leaderamong boys, shook his head and allowed a faint smile to steal across hissober countenance.

”I'm glad to say it isn't that, fellows,” he told them; ”but allBudapest is in a frightful uproar just now, and it's a question if ourlovely voyage doesn't come to a sudden end right here.”

”Great Caesar's ghost! What's happened now, Jack?” cried Josh, lookingalarmed.

”Only this, and you can guess what it means in Europe,” Jack announced.”Germany declared war on Russia last night, and her army is said to bealready marching into neutral Belgium to strike France in the back, andtake Paris!”