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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesThe Great War Syndicate - Web page 24
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The Great War Syndicate - Web page 24 Post by :blinky Category :Long Stories Author :Frank R Stockton Date :April 2011 Read :825

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The Great War Syndicate - Web page 24

In three days a convention of peace was concluded
between Great Britain and the American Syndicate acting
for the United States, its provisions being made
subject to such future treaties and alliances as the
governments of the two nations might make with each
other. In six days after the affair at Caerdaff, a
committee of the American War Syndicate was in London,
making arrangements, under the favourable auspices of
the British Government, for the formation of an
Anglo-American Syndicate of War.

The Atlantic Ocean now sprang into new life. It
seemed impossible to imagine whence had come the
multitude of vessels which now steamed and sailed upon
its surface. Among these, going westward, were six
crabs, and the spring-armoured vessel, once the
Tallapoosa, going home to a triumphant reception,
such as had never before been accorded to any vessel,
whether of war or peace.

The blockade of the Canadian port, which had been
effectively maintained without incident, was now
raised, and the Syndicate's vessels proceeded to an
American port.

The British ironclad, Adamant, at the conclusion
of peace was still in tow of Crab C, and off the coast
of Florida. A vessel was sent down the coast by the
Syndicate to notify Crab C of what had occurred, and to
order it to tow the Adamant to the Bermudas, and
there deliver her to the British authorities. The
vessel sent by the Syndicate, which was a fast coast-
steamer, had scarcely hove in sight of the objects of
her search when she was saluted by a ten-inch shell
from the Adamant, followed almost immediately by
two others. The commander of the Adamant had no idea
that the war was at an end, and had never failed,
during his involuntary cruise, to fire at anything
which bore the American flag, or looked like an
American craft.

Fortunately the coast steamer was not struck, and
at the top of her speed retired to a greater distance,
whence the Syndicate officer on board communicated with
the crab by smoke signals.

During the time in which Crab C had had charge of
the Adamant no communication had taken place between
the two vessels. Whenever an air-pipe had been
elevated for the purpose of using therein a speaking-
tube, a volley from a machine-gun on the Adamant was
poured upon it, and after several pipes had been shot
away the director of the crab ceased his efforts to
confer with those on the ironclad. It had been
necessary to place the outlets of the ventilating
apparatus of the crab under the forward ends of some of
the upper roof-plates.

When Crab C had received her orders, she put about
the prow of the great warship, and proceeded to tow her
north-eastward, the commander of the Adamant
taking a parting crack with his heaviest stern-gun at
the vessel which had brought the order for his release.

All the way from the American coast to the Bermuda
Islands, the great Adamant blazed, thundered, and
roared, not only because her commander saw, or fancied
he saw, an American vessel, but to notify all crabs,
repellers, and any other vile invention of the enemy
that may have been recently put forth to blemish the
sacred surface of the sea, that the Adamant still
floated, with the heaviest coat of mail and the finest
and most complete armament in the world, ready to sink
anything hostile which came near enough--but not too near.

When the commander found that he was bound for the
Bermudas, he did not understand it, unless, indeed,
those islands had been captured by the enemy. But he
did not stop firing. Indeed, should he find the
Bermudas under the American flag, he would fire at that
flag and whatever carried it, as long as a shot or a
shell or a charge of powder remained to him.

But when he reached British waters, and slowly
entering St. George's harbour, saw around him the
British flag floating as proudly as it floated above
his own great ship, he confessed himself utterly
bewildered; but he ordered the men at every gun to
stand by their piece until he was boarded by a boat
from the fort, and informed of the true state of affairs.

But even then, when weary Crab C raised herself
from her fighting depth, and steamed to a dock, the
commander of the Adamant could scarcely refrain from
sending a couple of tons of iron into the beastly sea-
devil which had had the impertinence to tow him about
against his will.

No time was lost by the respective Governments of
Great Britain and the United States in ratifying the
peace made through the Syndicate, and in concluding a
military and naval alliance, the basis of which should
be the use by these two nations, and by no other
nations, of the instantaneous motor. The treaty was
made and adopted with much more despatch than generally
accompanies such agreements between nations, for both
Governments felt the importance of placing themselves,
without delay, in that position from which, by means of
their united control of paramount methods of
warfare, they might become the arbiters of peace.

The desire to evolve that power which should render
opposition useless had long led men from one warlike
invention to another. Every one who had constructed a
new kind of gun, a new kind of armour, or a new
explosive, thought that he had solved the problem, or
was on his way to do so. The inventor of the
instantaneous motor had done it.

The treaty provided that all subjects concerning
hostilities between either or both of the contracting
powers and other nations should be referred to a Joint
High Commission, appointed by the two powers; and if
war should be considered necessary, it should be
prosecuted and conducted by the Anglo-American War
Syndicate, within limitations prescribed by the High
Commission.

The contract made with the new Syndicate was of the
most stringent order, and contained every provision
that ingenuity or foresight of man could invent or
suggest to make it impossible for the Syndicate to
transfer to any other nation the use of the
instantaneous motor.

Throughout all classes in sympathy with the
Administrative parties of Great Britain and the United
States there was a feeling of jubilant elation on
account of the alliance and the adoption by the two
nations of the means of prohibitive warfare. This
public sentiment acted even upon the opposition; and
the majority of army and navy officers in the two
countries felt bound to admit that the arts of war in
which they had been educated were things of the past.
Of course there were members of the army and navy in
both countries who deprecated the new state of things.
But there were also men, still living, who deprecated
the abolition of the old wooden seventy-four gun ship.

A British artillery officer conversing with a
member of the American Syndicate at a London club, said
to him:--

"Do you know that you made a great mistake in the
beginning of your operations with the motor-guns? If
you had contrived an attachment to the motor which
should have made an infernal thunder-clap and a storm
of smoke at the moment of discharge it would have saved
you a lot of money and time and trouble. The work of
the motor on the Canadian coast was terrible enough,
but people could see no connection between that
and the guns on your vessels. If you could have sooner
shown that connection you might have saved yourselves
the trouble of crossing the Atlantic. And, to prove
this, one of the most satisfactory points connected
with your work on the Welsh coast was the jet of smoke
which came from the repeller every time she discharged
a motor. If it had not been for those jets, I believe
there would be people now in the opposition who would
swear that Caerdaff had been mined, and that the
Ministry were a party to it."

"Your point is well taken," said the American, "and
should it ever be necessary to discharge any more
bombs,--which I hope it may not be,--we shall take care
to show a visible and audible connection between cause
and effect."

"The devil take it, sir!" cried an old captain of
an English ship-of-the-line, who was sitting near by.
"What you are talking about is not war! We might as
well send out a Codfish Trust to settle national
disputes. In the next sea-fight we'll save ourselves
the trouble of gnawing and crunching at the sterns of
the enemy. We'll simply send a note aboard
requesting the foreigner to be so good as to send
us his rudder by bearer, which, if properly marked and
numbered, will be returned to him on the conclusion of
peace. This would do just as well as twisting it off,
and save expense. No, sir, I will not join you in a
julep! _I have made no alliance over new-fangled
inventions! Waiter, fetch me some rum and hot water!"

In the midst of the profound satisfaction with
which the members of the American War Syndicate
regarded the success of their labours,--labours alike
profitable to themselves and to the recently contending
nations,--and in the gratified pride with which they
received the popular and official congratulations which
were showered upon them, there was but one little
cloud, one regret.
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In the course of the great Syndicate War a life hadbeen lost. Thomas Hutchins, while assisting in theloading of coal on one of the repellers, wasaccidentally killed by the falling of a derrick. The Syndicate gave a generous sum to the family ofthe unfortunate man, and throughout the United Statesthe occurrence occasioned a deep feeling of sympathetic regret. A popular subscription was started to build a monumentto the memory of Hutchins, and contributions came, not onlyfrom all parts of the United States, but from manypersons in Great Britain who wished to assist in theerection of this tribute
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About nine o'clock on the appointed morning,Repeller No. 11, much to the surprise of the spectatorson the high grounds with field-glasses and telescopes,steamed away from Caerdaff. What this meant nobodyknew, but the naval military observers immediatelysuspected that the Syndicate's vessel had concentratedattention upon Caerdaff in order to go over to Irelandto do some sort of mischief there. It was presumedthat the crabs accompanied her, but as they were now attheir fighting depth it was impossible to see them atso great a distance. But it was soon perceived that Repeller No. 11 hadno intention of running away, nor
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