THE BOY SCOUT AVIATORS
BY GEORGE DURSTON
"As long as I can't be at home," said Harry Fleming, "I'd rather be here
than anywhere in the world I can think of!"
"Rather!" said his companion, Dick Mercer. "I say, Harry, it must be
funny to be an American!"
Harry laughed heartily.
"I'd be angry, Dick," he said, finally, "if that wasn't so English—and
so funny! Still, I suppose that's one reason you Britishers are as big
an empire as you are. You think it's sort of funny and a bit of a
misfortune, don't you, to be anything but English?"
"Oh, I say, I didn't quite mean that," said Dick, flushing a little.
"And of course you Americans aren't just like foreigners. You speak the
same language we do—though you do say some funny things now and then,
old chap. You know, I was ever so surprised when you came to Mr. Grenfel
and he let you in our troop right away!"
"Didn't you even know we had Boy Scouts in America?" asked Harry. "My
word as you English would say. That is the limit! Why, it's spread all
over the country with us. But of course we all know that it started
here—that Baden-Powell thought of the idea!"
"Rather!" said Dick, enthusiastically. "Good old Bathing-Towel! That's
what they used to call him at school, you know, before he ever went into
the army at all. And it stuck to him, they say, right through. Even
after Mafeking he was called that. Now, of course, he's a lieutenant
general, and all sorts of a swell. He and Kitchener and French are so
big they don't get called nicknames much more."
"Well, I'll tell you what I think," said Harry, soberly. "I think he did
a bigger thing for England when he started the Boy Scout movement than
when he defended Mafeking against the Boers!"
"Why, how can you make that out?" asked Dick, puzzled. "The defence of
Mafeking had a whole lot to do with our winning that war!"
"That's all right, too," said Harry. "But you know you may be in a
bigger war yet than that Boer War ever thought of being."
"How can a war think, you chump?" asked the literal-minded Dick.
Again Harry roared at him.
"That's just one of our funny American ways of saying things, Dick," he
explained. "I didn't mean that, of course. But what I do mean is that
every-one over here in Europe seems to think that there will be a big
war sometime—a bigger war than the world's ever seen yet."
"Oh, yes!" Dick nodded his understanding, and grew more serious. "My
pater—he's a V. C., you know—says that, too. He says we'll have to
fight Germany, sooner or later. And he seems to think the sooner the
better, too, before they get too big and strong for us to have an easy
time with them."
"They're too big now for any nation to have an easy time with them,"
said Harry. "But you see what I mean now, don't you, Dick? We Boy Scouts
aren't soldiers in any way. But we do learn to do the things a soldier
has to do, don't we?"
"Yes, that's true," said Dick. "But we aren't supposed to think of
"Of course not, and it's right, too," agreed Harry. "But we learn to be
obedient. We learn discipline. And we get to understand camp life, and
the open air, and all the things a soldier has to know about, sooner or
later. Suppose you were organizing a regiment. Which would you rather
have—a thousand men who were brave and willing, but had never camped
out, or a thousand who had been Boy Scouts and knew about half the
things soldiers have to learn? Which thousand men would be ready to go
to the front first?"
"I never thought of that!" said Dick, mightily impressed. "But you're
right, Harry. The Boy Scouts wouldn't go to war themselves, but the
fellows who were grown up and in business and had been Boy Scouts would
be a lot readier than the others, wouldn't they? I suppose that's why so
many of our chaps join the Territorials when they are through school and
start in business?"
"Of course it is! You've got the idea I'm driving at, Dick. And you can
depend on it that General Baden-Powell had that in his mind's eye all
the time, too. He doesn't want us to be military and aggressive, but he
does want the Empire to have a lot of fellows on call who are hard and
fit, so that they can defend themselves and the country. You see, in
America, and here in England, too, we're not like the countries on the
Continent. We don't make soldiers of every man in the country."
"No—by Jove, they do that, don't they, Harry? I've got a, cousin who's
French. And he expects to serve his term in the army. He's in the class
of 1918. You see, he knows already when he will have to go, and just
where he will report—almost the regiment he'll join. But he's hoping
they'll let him be in the cavalry, instead of the infantry or the
"There you are! Here and in America, we don't have to have such
tremendous armies, because we haven't got countries that we may have to
fight across the street—you know what I mean. England has to have a
tremendous navy, but that makes it unnecessary for her to have such a
"I see you've got the idea exactly, Fleming," said a new voice, breaking
into the conversation. The two scouts looked up to see the smiling face
of their scoutmaster, John Grenfel. He was a big, bronzed Englishman,
sturdy and typical of the fine class to which he belonged—public school
and university man, first-class cricketer and a football international
who had helped to win many a hard fought game for England from Wales or
Scotland or Ireland. The scouts were returning from a picnic on
Wimbledon Common, in the suburbs of London, and Grenfel was following
his usual custom of dropping into step now with one group, now with
another. He favored the idea of splitting up into groups of two or three
on the homeward way, because it was his idea that one of the great
functions of the Scout movement was to foster enduring friendships among
the boys. He liked to know, without listening or trying to overhear,
what the boys talked about; often he would give a directing word or two,
that, without his purpose becoming apparent, shaped the ideas of the
"Yes," he repeated. "You understand what we're trying to do in this
country, Fleming. We don't want to fight—we pray to God that we shall
never have to. But, if we are attacked, or if the necessity arises,
we'll be ready, as we have been ready before. We want peace—we want it
so much and so earnestly that we'll fight for it if we must."
Neither of the boys laughed at what sounded like a paradox. His voice
was too earnest.
"Do you think England is likely to have to go to war soon—within a year
or so, sir?" asked Harry.
"I pray not," said Grenfel. "But we don't know, Fleming. For the last
few years—ever since the trouble in the Balkans finally flamed
up—Europe has been on the brink of a volcano. We don't know what the
next day may bring forth. I've been afraid—" He stopped, suddenly, and
seemed to consider.
"There is danger now," he said, gravely. "Since the Archduke Franz
Ferdinand of Austria was assassinated, Austria has been in an ugly mood.
She has tried to blame Servia. I don't think Russia will let her crush
Servia—not a second time. And if Russia and Austria fight there is no
telling how it may spread."
"You'd want us to win, wouldn't you, Harry, if we fought?" asked Dick,
when Mr. Grenfel had passed on to speak to some of the others.
"Yes, I think I would—I know I would, Dick," said Harry, gravely. "But
I wouldn't want to see a war, just the same. It's a terrible thing."
"On, it wouldn't last long," said Dick, confidently. "We'd lick them in
no time at all. Don't you think so?"
"I don't know—I hope so. But you can't ever be sure."
"I wonder if they'd let us fight?"
"No, I don't think they would, Dick. There'd be plenty for the Boy
Scouts to do though, I believe."
"Would you stay over here if there was a war, Harry? Or would you go
"I think we'd have to stay over here, Dick. You see, my father is here
on business, not just for pleasure. His company sent him over here, and
it was understood he'd stay several years. I don't think the war could
make any difference."
"That's why you're here, then, is it? I used to wonder why you went to
school over here instead of in America."
"Yes. My father and mother didn't want me to be so far from them. So
they brought me along. I was awfully sorry at first, but now it doesn't
seem so bad."
"I should think not!" said Dick, indignantly. "I should think anyone
would be mighty glad of a chance to come to school over here instead of
in America! Why, you don't even play cricket over there, I've been
"No, but we play baseball," said Harry, his eyes shining. "I really
think I miss that more than anything else here in England. Cricket's all
right—if you can't play baseball. It's a good enough game."
"You can play," admitted Dick, rather grudgingly. "When you bowl, you've
got some queer way of making the ball seem to bend—"
"I put a curve on it, that's all!" said Harry, with a laugh. "If you'd
ever played baseball, you'd understand that easily enough. See? You hold
the ball like this—so that your fingers give it a spin as it leaves
And he demonstrated for his English friend's benefit the way the ball is
held to produce an out-curve.
"Your bowlers here don't seem to do that—though they do make the ball
break after it hits the ground. But the way I manage it, you see, is to
throw a ball that doesn't hit the ground in front of the bat at all, but
curves in. If you don't hit at it, it will hit the stumps and bowl you
out; if you do hit, you're likely to send it straight up in the air, so
that some fielder can catch it."
"I see," said Dick. "Well, I suppose it's all right, but it doesn't seem
Harry laughed, but didn't try to explain the point further. He liked
Dick immensely; Dick was the first friend he had made in England, and
the best, so far. It was Dick who had tried to get him to join the Boy
Scouts, and who had been immensely surprised to find that Harry was
already a scout. Harry, indeed, had done two years of scouting in
America; he had been one of the first members of a troop in his home
town, and had won a number of merit badges. He was a first-class scout,
and, had he stayed with his troop, would certainly have become a patrol
leader. So he had had no trouble in getting admission to the patrol to
which Dick belonged.
It had been hard for Harry, when his father's business called him to
England, to give up a all the friendships and associations of his
boyhood. Had been hard to leave school; to tear up, by the roots, all
the things that bound him to his home. But as a scout he had learned to
be loyal and obedient. His parents had talked things over with him very
frankly. They had understood just how hard it would be for him to go
with them. But his father had made him see how necessary it was.
"I want you to be near your mother and myself just now, especially,
Harry," he had said. "I want you to grow up where I can see you. And,
more-over, it won't hurt you a bit to know something about other
countries. You'll have a new idea of America when you have seen other
lands, and I believe you'll be a better American for it. You'll learn
that other countries have their virtues, and that we can learn some
things from them. But I believe you'll learn, too, to love America
better than ever. When we go home you'll be broader and better for your
And Harry was finding out that his father had been right. At first he
had to put up with a good deal. He found that the English boys he met in
school felt themselves a little superior. They didn't look down on him,
exactly, but they were, perhaps the least bit sorry for him because he
was not an Englishman, always a real misfortune in their sight.
He had resented that at first. But his Boy Scout training stood him in
good stead. He kept his temper, and it was not long before he began to
make friends. He excelled at games; even the English games that were new
and strange to him presented few difficulties to him. As he had
explained to Dick, cricket was easy for any boy who could play baseball
fairly well. And it was the same way with football. After the far more
strenuous American game, he shone at the milder English football, the
Rugby game, which is the direct ancestor of the sport in America.
All these things helped to make Harry popular. He was now nearly
sixteen, tall and strong for his age, thanks to the outdoor life he had
always lived. An only son, he and his father had always been good
friends. Without being in any way a molly-coddle, still he had been kept
safe from a good many of the temptations that beset some boys by the
constant association with his father. It was no wonder, therefore, that
John Grenfel, as soon as he had talked with Harry and learned of the
credentials he bore from his home troop, had welcomed him
enthusiastically as a recruit to his own troop.
It had been necessary to modify certain rules. Harry, of course, could
not subscribe to quite the same scout oath that bound his English
fellows. But he had taken his scout oath as a tenderfoot at home, and
Grenfel had no doubts about him. He was the sort of boy the organization
wanted, whether in England or America, and that was enough for Grenfel.
Though the boys, as they walked toward their homes, did not quite
realize it, they were living in days that were big with fate. Far away,
in the chancelleries of Europe, and, not so far away, in the big
government buildings in the West End of London, the statesmen were even
then making their best effort to avert war. No one in England, perhaps,
really believed that war was coming. There had been war scares before.
But the peace of Europe had been preserved for forty years or more,
through one crisis after another. And so it was a stunning surprise,
even to Grenfel, when, as they came into Putney High street, just before
they reached Putney Bridge, they met a swam of newsboys excitedly
"Germany threatens Russia!" they yelled. "War sure!"
Mr. Grenfel brought a paper, and the scouts gathered about him while he
read the news that was contained on the front page, still damp from the
"I'm afraid it's true," he said, soberly. "The German Emperor has
threatened to go to war with Russia, unless the Czar stops mobilizing
his troops at once. We shall know tonight. But I think it means war! God
save England may still keep out of it!"
For that night a meeting at Mr. Grenfel's home in West Kensington had
long been planned. He lived not far from the street in which both Harry
and Dick lived. And, as the party broke up, on the other side of Putney
Bridge, Dick, voicing the general feeling, asked a question.
"Are we to come tonight, sir?" he said. "With this news—?"
"Yes—yes, indeed," said the scoutmaster. "If war is to come, there is
all the more reason for us to be together. England may need all of us
Dick had asked the question because, like all the others, he felt
something that was in the air. He was sobered by the news, although,
like the rest, he did not yet fully understand it. But they all felt
that there had been a change. As they looked about at the familiar sight
about them they wondered if, a year from then, everything would still be
the same. War? What did it mean to them, to England?
"I wonder if my father will go to war!" Dick broke out suddenly, as he
and Harry walked along.
"I hadn't thought of that!" said Harry, startled. "Oh, Dick, I'm sorry!
Still, I suppose he'll go, if his country needs him!"
At home, Harry had an early dinner with his father and mother, who were
going to the theatre. They lived in a comfortable house, which Mr.
Fleming had taken on a five-year lease when they came to England to
live. It was one of a row of houses that looked very much alike, which,
itself, was one of four sides of a square. In the centre of the square
was a park-like space, a garden, really. In this garden were several
tennis courts, with plenty of space, also, for nurses and children.
There are many such squares in London, and they help to make the British
capital a delightful place in which to live.
As he went in, Harry saw a lot of the younger men who lived in the
square playing tennis. It was still broad daylight, although, at home,
dusk would have fallen. But this was England at the end of July and the
beginning of August, and the light of day would hold until ten o'clock
or thereabout. That was one of the things that had helped to reconcile
Harry to living in England. He loved the long evenings and the chance
they gave to get plenty of sport and exercise after school hours.
The school that he and Dick attended was not far away; they went to it
each day. A great many of the boys boarded at the school, but there were
plenty who, like Dick and Harry, did not. But school was over now, for
the time. The summer holidays had just begun.
At the table there was much talk of the war that was in the air. But Mr.
Fleming did not even yet believe that war was sure.
"They'll patch it up," he said, confidently. "They can't be so mad as to
set the whole world ablaze over a little scrap like the trouble between
Austria and Servia."
"Would it affect your business, dear?" asked Mrs. Fleming. "If there
really should be war, I mean?"
"I don't think so," said he. "I might have to make a flying trip home,
but I'd be back. Come on—time for us to go. What are you going to do,
boy? Going over to Grenfel's, aren't you?"
"Yes, father," said Harry.
"All right. Get home early. Good-night!"
A good many of the boys were already there when Dick and Harry reached
Grenfel's house. The troop—the Forty-second, of London—was a
comparatively small one, having only three patrols. But nearly all of
them were present, and the scout-master took them out into his garden.
"I'm going to change the order a bit," he said, gravely. "I want to do
some talking, and then I expect to answer questions. Boys, Germany has
declared war on Russia. There are reports already of fighting on the
border between France and Germany. And there seems to be an idea that
the Germans are certain to strike at France through Belgium. I may not
be here very long—I may have to turn over the troop to another
scoutmaster. So I want to have a long talk tonight." There was a
"What? You going away, sir? Why?"
But Harry did not join. He saw the quiet blaze in John Grenfel's eyes,
and he thought he knew.
"I've volunteered for foreign service already," Grenfel explained. "I
saw a little fighting in the Boer war, you know. And I may be useful. So
I thought I'd get my application in directly. If I go, I'll probably go
quietly and quickly. And there may be no other chance for me to say
'Then you think England will be drawn in, sir?" asked Leslie Franklin,
leader of the patrol to which Dick and Harry belonged, the Royal Blues.
"I'm afraid so," said Grenfels grimly. "There's just a chance still, but
that's all—the ghost of a chance, you might call it. I think it might
be as well if I explained a little of what's back of all this trouble.
Want to listen? If you do, I'll try. And if I'm not making myself clear,
ask all the questions you like."
There was a chorus of assent. Grenfel sat in the middle, the scouts
ranged about him in a circle. "In the first place," he began, "this
Servian business is only an excuse. I'm not defending the Servians—I'm
taking no sides between Servia and Austria. Here in England we don't
care about that, because we know that if that hadn't started the war,
something else would have been found.
"England wants peace. And it seems that, every so often, she has to
fight for it. It was so when the Duke of Marlborough won his battles at
Blenheim and Ramillies and Malplaquet. Then France was the strongest
nation in Europe. And she tried to crush the others and dominate
everything. If she had, she would have been strong enough, after her
victories, to fight us over here—to invade England. So we went into
that war, more than two hundred years ago, not because we hated France,
but to make a real peace possible. And it lasted a long time.
"Then, after the French revolution, there was Napoleon. Again France,
under him, was the strongest nation in Europe. He conquered Germany, and
Austria, Italy and Spain, the Netherlands. And he tried to conquer
England, so that France could rule the world. But Nelson beat his fleet
"Hurrah!" interrupted Dick, carried away. "Three cheers for Nelson!"
Grenfel smiled as the cheers were given.
"Even after Trafalgar," he went on, "Napoleon hoped to conquer England.
He had massed a great army near Boulogne, ready to send it across the
channel. And so we took the side of the weaker nations again. All
Europe, led by England, rose against Napoleon. And you know what
happened. He was beaten finally at Waterloo. And so there was peace
again in Europe for a long time, with no one nation strong enough to
dictate to all the others." But then Germany began to rise. She beat
Austria, and that made her the strongest German country. Then she beat
France, in 1870, and that gave her her start toward being the strongest
nation on the continent.
"And then, I believe—and so do most Englishmen—she began to be jealous
of England. She wanted our colonies. She began, finally, to build a
great navy. For years we have had to spend great sums of money to keep
our fleet stronger than hers. And she made an alliance with Austria and
Italy. Because of that France and Russia made an alliance, too, and we
had to be friendly with them. And now it looks to me as if Germany
thought she saw a chance to beat France and Russia. Perhaps she thinks
that we won't fight, on account of the trouble in Ireland. And what we
English fear is that, if she wins, she will take Belgium and Holland.
Then she would be so close to our coasts that we would never be safe. We
would have to be prepared always for invasion. So, you see, it seems to
me that we are facing the same sort of danger we have faced before. Only
this time it is Germany, instead of France, that we shall have to
fight—if we do fight."
"If the Germans go through Belgium, will that mean that we shall fight?"
asked Leslie Franklin.
"Almost certainly, yes," said Grenfel. "And it is through Belgium that
Germany has her best chance to strike at France. So you see how serious
things are. I don't want to go into all the history that is back of all
this. I just want you to understand what England's interest is. If we
make war, it will be a war of self-defence. Suppose you owned a house.
And suppose the house next door caught fire. You would try to put out
that fire, wouldn't you, to save your own house from being burned up?
Well, that's England's position. If the Germans held Belgium or
Holland—and they would hold both, if they beat France and
Russia—England would then be in just as much danger as your house would
be. So if we fight, it will be to put out the German fire in the house
"Now I want you to understand one thing. I'm talking as an Englishman. A
German would tell you all this in a very different way. I don't like the
people who are always slandering their enemies. Germany has her reasons
for acting as she does. I think her reasons are wrong. But the Germans
believe that they are right. We can respect even people who are wrong if
they themselves believe that they are right. There may be two sides to
this quarrel. And Germans, even if they are to be our enemies, may be
just as patriotic, just as devoted to their country, as we are. Never
forget that, no matter what may happen."
He stopped then, waiting for questions. None came.
"Then you understand pretty well?" he asked. There was a murmur of
assent from the whole circle.
"All right, then," he said. "Now there's work for Scouts to do. Be
prepared! That's our motto, isn't it? Suppose there's war. Franklin,
what's your idea of what the Boy Scouts would be able to do?"
"I suppose those who are old enough could volunteer, sir," said
Franklin, doubtfully. "I can't think of anything else—"
"Time enough for that later," said Grenfel, with a short laugh. "England
may have to call boys to the colors before she's done, if she once
starts to fight. But long before that time comes, there will be a great
work for the organization we all love and honor. Work that won't be
showy, work that will be very hard. Boys, everyone in England, man and
woman and child will have work to do! And we, who are organized, and
whose motto Be Prepared, ought to be able to show what stuff there is in
"Think of all the places that must be guarded. The waterworks, the gas
tanks, the railroads that lead to the seaports and that will be used by
A startled burst of exclamations answered him. "Why, there won't be any
fighting in England, sir, will there?" asked Dick Mercer, in surprise.
"We all hope not," said Grenfel. "But that's not what I mean. It doesn't
take an army to destroy a railroad. One man with a bomb and a time fuse
attached to it can blow up a culvert and block a whole line so that
precious hours might be lost in getting troops aboard a transport. One
man could blow up a waterworks or a gas tank or cut an important
telegraph or telephone wire!"
"You mean that there will be Germans here trying to hurt England any way
they can, don't you sir? asked Harry Fleming.
"I mean exactly that," said Grenfel. "We don't know this—we can't be
sure of it. But we've got good reason to believe that there are a great
many Germans here, seemingly peaceable enough, who are regularly in the
pay of the German government as spies. We don't know the German plans.
But there is no reason, so far as we know, why their great Zeppelin
airships shouldn't come sailing over England, to drop bombs down where
they can do the most harm. There is nothing except our own vigilance to
keep these spies, even if they have to work alone, from doing untold
'We could be useful as sentries, then?" said Leslie Franklin. He drew a
deep breath. "I never thought of things like that, sir! I'm just
beginning to see how useful we really might be. We could do a lot of
things instead of soldiers, couldn't we? So that they would be free to
go and fight?"
"Yes," answered the scoutmaster. "And I can tell you now that the
National Scout Council has always planned to 'Be Prepared!' It decided,
a long time ago, what should be done in case of war. A great many troops
will be offered to the War Department to do odd jobs. They will carry
messages and dispatches. They will act as clerks, so far as they can.
They will patrol the railways and other places that ought to be under
guard, where soldiers can be spared if we take their places. So far as
such things can be planned, they have been planned.
"But most of the ways in which we can be useful haven't showed
themselves, at all yet. They will develop, if war comes. We shall have
to be alert and watchful, and do whatever there is to be done …"
"Who will be scoutmaster, sir, if you go to the war?" asked Harry.
"I'm not quite sure," said Grenfel. "We haven't decided yet. But it will
be someone you can trust—be sure of that. And I think I needn't say
that if you scouts have any real regard for me you will show it best by
serving as loyally and as faithfully under him as you have under me. I
shall be with you in spirit, no matter where I am. Now it's, getting
late. I think we'd better break up for tonight. We will make a special
order, too, for the present. Every scout in the troop will report at
scout headquarters until further notice, every day, at nine o'clock in
"I think we'll have to make up our minds not to play many games for the
time that is coming. There is real work ahead of us if war comes—work
just as real and just as hard, in its way, as if we were all going to
fight for England. Everyone cannot fight, but the ones who stay at home
and do the work that comes to their hands will serve England just as
loyally as if they were on the firing line. Now up, all of you! Three
cheers for King George!"
They were given with a will—and Harry Fleming joined in as heartily as
any of them. He was as much of an American as he had ever been, but
something in him responded with a strange thrill to England's need, as
Grenfel had expressed it. After all, England had been and was the mother
country. England and America had fought, in their time, and America had
won, but now, for a hundred years, there had been peace between them.
And he and these English boys were of the same blood and the same
language, binding them very closely together. "Blood is thicker than
water, after all!" he thought.
Then every scout there shook hands with John Grenfel. He smiled as he
"I hope this will pass over," he said, "and that we'll do together
during this vacation all the things we've planned to do. But if we
can't, and if I'm called away, good-bye! Do your duty as scouts, and
I'll know it somehow! And, in case I don't see you again, good-bye!"
"You're going to stand with us, then, Fleming?" he said, as Harry came
up to shake hands. "Good boy! We're of one blood, we English and you
Americans. We've had our quarrels, but relatives always do quarrel. And
you'll not be asked, as a scout here, to do anything an American
Then it was over. They were out in the street. In the distance newsboys
were yelling their extra still. Many people were out, something unusual
in that quiet neighborhood. And suddenly one of the scouts lifted his
voice, and in a moment they were all singing:
Rule, rule, Britannia! Britannia rules the waves! Britons never, never,
never shall be slaves!
Scores of voices swelled the chorus, joining the fresh young voices of
the scouts. And then someone started that swinging march song that had
leaped into popularity at the time of the Boer War, Soldiers of the
Queen. The words were trifling, but there was a fine swing to the music,
and it was not the words that counted—it was the spirit of those who
As he marched along with the others Harry noticed one thing. In a few
hours the whole appearance of the streets had changed. From every house,
in the still night air, drooped a Union Jack. The flag was everywhere;
some houses had flung out half a dozen to the wind.
Harry was seeing a sight, that once seen, can never be forgotten. He was
seeing a nation aroused, preparing to fight. If war came to England it
would be no war decreed by a few men. It would be a war proclaimed by
the people themselves, demanded by them. The nation was stirring; it was
casting off the proverbial lethargy and indifference of the English.
Even here, in this usually quiet suburb of London, the home of business
and professional men who were comfortably well off, the stirring of the
spirit of England was evident. And suddenly the song of the scouts and
those who had joined them was drowned out by a new noise, sinister,
threatening. It was the angry note that is raised by a mob.
Leslie Franklin took command at once. "Here, we must see what's wrong!"
he cried. "Scouts, attention! Fall in! Double quick—follow me!"
He ran in the direction of the sound, and they followed. Five minutes
brought them to the scene of the disturbance. They reached a street of
cheaper houses and small shops. About one of these a crowd was surging,
made up largely of young men of the lower class, for in West Kensington,
as in all parts of London, the homes of the rich and of the poor rub one
another's elbows in easy familiarity. The crowd seemed to be trying to
break in the door of this shop. Already all the glass of the show
windows had been broken, and from within there came guttural cries of
alarm and anger.
"It's Dutchy's place!" cried Dick Mercer. "He's a German, and they're
trying to smash his place up!"
"Halt!" cried Franklin. He gathered the scouts about him. "This won't
do," he said, angry spots of color showing on his cheek bones. "No one's
gone for the police—or, if they have, this crowd of muckers will smash
everything up and maybe hurt the old Dutchman before the Bobbies get
here. Form together now—and when I give the word, go through! Once we
get between them and the shop, we can stop them. Maybe they won't know
who we are at first, and our uniforms may stop them."
"Now!" he said, a moment later. And, with a shout, the scouts charged
through the little mob in a body.
They had no trouble in getting through. A few determined people, knowing
just what they mean to do, can always overcome a greater number of
disorganized ones. That is why disciplined troops can conquer five times
their number of rioters or savages. And so in a moment they reached the
"Let us in! We're here to protect you!" cried Franklin to old Schmidt,
who was cowering within, with his wife. Then he turned to the rioters,
who, getting over their first surprise, were threatening again.
"For shame!" he cried. "Do you think you're doing anything for England?
War's not declared yet—and, if it was, you might better be looking for
German soldiers to shoot at than trying to hurt an old man who never did
anyone any harm!"
There was a threatening noise from the crowd, but Franklin was
"You'll have to get through us to reach them!" he cried. "We—"
But he was interrupted. A whistle sounded. The next moment the police
PICKED FOR SERVICE
The coming of the police cleared the little crowd of would-be rioters
away in no time. There were only three or four of the Bobbies, but they
were plenty. A smiling sergeant came up to Franklin.
"More of your Boy Scout work, sir?" he said, pleasantly. "I heard you
standing them off! That was very well done. If we can depend on you to
help us all over London, we'll have an easier job than we looked for."
"We saw a whole lot of those fellows piling up against the shop here,"
said Franklin. "So of course we pitched in. We couldn't let anything
like that happen."
"There'll be a lot of it at first, I'm afraid, sir," said the sergeant.
"Still, it won't last. If all we hear is true, they'll be taking a lot
of those young fellows away and giving them some real fighting to do to
keep them quiet."
"Well, we'll help whenever we can, sergeant," said Franklin. "If the
inspector thinks it would be a good thing to have the shops that are
kept by Germans watched, I'm quite sure it can be arranged. If there's
war I suppose a lot of you policemen will go?"
"We'll supply our share, sir," said the sergeant. "I'm expecting orders
any minute—I'm a reservist myself. Coldstream Guards, sir."
"Congratulations!" said Franklin. He spoke a little wistfully. "I wonder
if they'll let me go? I think I'm old enough! Well, can we help any more
"No, thank you, sir. You've done very well as it is. Pity all the lads
don't belong to the Boy Scouts. We'd have less trouble, I'll warrant.
I'll just leave a man here to watch the place. But they won't be back.
They don't mean any real harm, as it is. It's just their spirits—and
their being a bit thoughtless, you know."
"All right," said Franklin. "Glad we came along. Good-night, sergeant.
Fall in! March!"
There was a cheer from the crowd that had gathered to watch the
disturbance as the scouts move away. A hundred yards from the scene of
what might have been a tragedy, except for their prompt action, the
scouts dispersed. Dick, Mercer and Harry Fleming naturally enough, since
they lived so close to one another, went home together.
"That was quick work," said Harry.
"Yes. I'm glad we got there," said Dick. "Old Dutchy's all right-he
doesn't seem like a German. But I think it would be a good thing if they
did catch a few of the others and scrag them!"
"No, it wouldn't," said Harry soberly. "Don't get to feeling that way,
Dick. Suppose you were living in Berlin. You wouldn't want a lot of
German roughs to come and destroy your house or your shop and handle you
that way, would you?"
"It's not the same thing," said Dick, stubbornly. "They're foreigners."
"But you'd be a foreigner if you were over there!" said Harry, with a
"I suppose I would," said Dick. "I never thought of that! Just the same,
I bet Mr. Grenfel was right. London's full of spies. Isn't that an awful
idea, Harry? You can't tell who's a spy and who isn't!"
"No, but you can be pretty sure that the man you suspect isn't,"
suggested Harry, sagely. "A real spy wouldn't let you find it out very
easily. I can see one thing and that is a whole lot of perfectly
harmless people are going to be arrested as spies before this war is
very old, if it does come! We don't want to be mixed up in that,
Dick—we scouts. If we think a man's doing anything suspicious, we'll
have to be very sure before we denounce him, or else we won't be any
"It's better for a few people to be arrested by mistake than to let a
spy keep on spying, isn't it?"
"I suppose so, but we don't want to be like the shepherd's boy who used
to try to frighten people by calling 'Wolf! Wolf!' when there wasn't any
wolf. You know what happened to him. When a wolf really did come no one
believed him. We want to look before we leap."
"I suppose you're right, Harry. Oh, I do hope we can really be of some
use! If I can't go to the war, I'd like to think I'd had something to
do—that I'd helped when my country needed me!"
"If you feel like that you'll be able to help, all right," said Harry.
"I feel that way, too not that I want to fight. I wouldn't want to do
that for any country but my own. But I would like to be able to know
that I'd had something to do with all that's going to be done."
"I think it's fine for you to be like that," said Dick. "I think there
isn't so much difference between us, after all, even if you are American
and I'm English. Well, here we are again. I'll see you in the morning, I
"Right oh! I'll come around for you early. Goodnight!"
Neither of them really doubted for a moment that war was coming. It was
in the air. The attack on the little shop that they had helped to avert
was only one of many, although there was no real rioting in London. Such
scenes were simply the result of excitement, and no great harm was done
anywhere. But the tension of which such attacks were the result was
everywhere. For the next three days there was very little for anyone to
Everyone was waiting. France and Germany were at war; the news came that
the Germans had invaded Luxembourg, and were crossing the Belgian
And then, on Tuesday night, came the final news. England had declared
war. For the moment the news seemed to stun everyone. It had been
expected, and still it came as a surprise. But then London rose to the
occasion. There was no hysterical cheering and shouting; everything was
quiet. Harry Fleming saw a wonderful sight a whole people aroused and
determined. There was no foolish boasting; no one talked of a British
general eating his Christmas dinner in Berlin. But even Dick Mercer,
excitable and erratic as he had always been, seemed to have undergone a
"My father's going to the war," he told Harry on Wednesday morning. He
spoke very seriously. "He was a captain in the Boer War, you know, so he
knows something about soldiering. He thinks he'll be taken, though he's
a little older than most of the men who'll go. He'll be an officer, of
course. And he says I've got to look after the mater when he's gone."
"You can do it, too," said Harry, surprised, despite himself, by the
change in his chum's manner. "You seem older than I now, Dick, and I've
always thought you were a kid!"
"The pater says we've all got to be men, now," said Dick, steadily. "The
mater cried a bit when he said he was going—but I think she must have
known all the time he was going. Because when he told us—we were at the
breakfast table—she sort of cried a little, and then she stopped.
"I've got everything ready for you,' she said.
"And he looked at her, and smiled. 'So you knew I was going?' he asked
her. And she nodded her head, and he got up and kissed her. I never saw
him do that before he never did that before, when I was looking on,"
Dick concluded seriously. "I hope he'll come back all right, Dick," said
Harry. "It's hard, old chap!"
"I wouldn't have him stay home for anything!" said Dick, fiercely. "And
I will do my share! You see if I don't! I don't care what they want me
to do! I'll run errands—I'll sweep out the floors in the War Office, so
that some man can go to war! I'll do anything!"
Somehow Harry realized in that moment how hard it was going to be to
beat a country where even the boys felt like that! The change in the
usually thoughtless, light-hearted Dick impressed him more than anything
else had been able to do with the real meaning of what had come about so
suddenly. And he was thankful, too, all at once, that in America the
fear and peril of War were so remote. It was glorious, it was thrilling,
but it was terrible, too. He wondered how many of the scouts he knew,
and how many of those in school would lose their fathers or their
brothers in this war that was beginning. Truly, there is no argument for
peace that can compare with war itself! Yet how slowly we learn!
Grenfel had gone, and the troop was now in charge of a new scoutmaster,
Francis Wharton. Mr. Wharton was a somewhat older man. At first sight he
didn't look at all like the man to lead a group of scouts, but that, as
it turned out, was due to physical infirmities. One foot had been
amputated at the time of the Boer War, in which he had served with
Grenfel. As a result he was incapacitated from active service, although,
as the scouts soon learned, he had begged to be allowed to go in spite
of it. He appeared at the scout headquarters, the pavilion of a small
local cricket club, on Wednesday morning.
"I don't know much about this—more shame to me," he said, cheerfully,
standing up to address the boys. "But I think we can make a go of
it—think we'll be able to do something for the Empire, boys. My old
friend John Grenfel told me a little; he said you'd pull me through.
These are war times and you'll have to do for me what many a company in
the army does for a young officer."
They gave him a hearty cheer that was a promise in itself.
"I can tell you I felt pretty bad when I found they wouldn't let me go
to the front," he went on. "It seemed hard to have to sit back and read
the newspapers when I knew I ought to be doing some of the work. But
then Grenfel told me about you boys, and what you meant to do, and I
felt better. I saw that there was a chance for me to help, after all. So
here I am. These are times when ordinary routine doesn't matter so much
you can understand that. Grenfel put the troop at the disposal of the
commander at Ealing. And his first request was that I should send two
scouts to him at once. Franklin, I believe you are the senior patrol
leader? Yes? Then I shall appoint you assistant scoutmaster, as Mr.
Greene has not returned from his holiday in France. Will you suggest the
names of two scouts for this service?"
Franklin immediately went up to the new scoutmaster, and they spoke
together quietly, while a buzz of excited talk rose among the scouts.
Who would be honored by the first chance? Every scout there wanted to
hear his name called.
"I think they'll take me, for one," said Ernest Graves. He was one of
the patrol to which both Harry Fleming and Dick Mercer belonged, and the
biggest and oldest scout of the troop, except for Leslie Franklin. He
had felt for some time that he should be a patrol leader. Although he
excelled in games, and was unquestionably a splendid scout, Graves was
not popular, for some reason, among his fellows. He was not exactly
unpopular, either; but there was a little resentment at his habit of
pushing himself forward.
"I don't see why you should go more than anyone else, Graves," said
young Mercer. "I think they'd take the ones who are quickest. We're
probably wanted for messenger work."
"Well, I'm the oldest. I ought to have first chance," said Graves.
But the discussion was ended abruptly.
"Fleming! Mercer!" called Mr. Wharton.
They stepped forward, their hands raised in the scout salute, awaiting
the scoutmaster's orders. "You will proceed at once, by rail, to
Ealing," he said. "There you will report at the barracks, handing this
note to the officer of the guard. He will then conduct you to the
adjutant or the officer in command, from whom you will take your
"Yes, sir," said both scouts. Their eyes were afire with enthusiasm. But
as they passed toward the door, Dick Mercer's quick ears caught a sullen
murmur from Graves.
"He's making a fine start," he heard him say to Fatty Wells, who was a
great admirer of his. "Picking out an AMERICAN! Why, we're not even sure
that he'll be loyal! Did you ever hear of such a thing?"
"You shut up!" cried Dick, fiercely, turning on Graves. "He's as loyal
as anyone else! We know as much about him as we do about you, anyhow—or
more! You may be big, but when we get back I'll make you take that back
"Come on," said Harry, pulling Dick along with him. "You mustn't start
quarreling now—it's time for all of us to stand together, Dick. I don't
care what he says, anyhow."
He managed to get his fiery chum outside, and they hurried along, at the
scout pace, running and walking alternately, toward the West Kensington
station of the Underground Railway. They were in their khaki scout
uniforms, and several people turned to smile admiringly at them. The
newspapers had already announced that the Boy Scouts had turned out
unanimously to do whatever service they could, and it was a time when
women—and it was mostly women who were in the streets—were disposed to
display their admiration of those who were working for the country very
They had little to say to one another as they hurried along; their pace
was such as to make it wise for them to save their breath. But when they
reached the station they found they had some minutes to wait for a
train, and they sat down on the platform to get their breath. They had
already had one proof of the difference made by a state of war.
Harry stopped at the ticket window.
"Two-third class—for Ealing," he said, putting down the money. But the
agent only smiled, having seen their uniforms.
"On the public service?" he questioned.
"Yes," said Harry, rather proudly.
"Then you don't need tickets," said the agent. "Got my orders this
morning. No one in uniform has to pay. Go right through, and ride
first-class, if you like. You'll find plenty of officers riding that
"That's fine!" said Dick. "It makes it seem as if we were really of some
use, doesn't it, Harry?"
"Yes," answered Harry. "But, Dick, I've been thinking of what you said
to Graves. What did you mean when you told him you knew more about me
than you did about him? Hasn't he lived here a long time?"
"No, and there's a little mystery about him. Don't you know it?"
"Never heard of such a thing, Dick. You see, I haven't been here so very
long and he was in the patrol when I joined."
"Oh, yes, so he was! Well, I'll tell you, then. You know he's studying
to be an engineer, at the Polytechnic. And he lives at a boarding house,
all by himself. Not a regular boarding house, exactly. He boards with
Mrs. Johnson, you know. Her husband died a year or two ago, and didn't
leave her very much money. He hasn't any father or mother, but he always
seems to have plenty of money. And he can play all sorts of games, but
he won't do them up right. He says he doesn't care anything about
"How old is he?"
"Sixteen, but he's awfully big and strong."
"He certainly is. He looks older than that, to me. Have you ever noticed
anything funny about the way he talks?"
"No. Why? Have you?"
"I'm not sure. But sometimes it seems to me he talks more like the
people do in a book than you and I do. I wonder why he doesn't like me?"
"Oh, he likes you as well as he does anyone, Harry. He didn't mean
anything, I fancy, when he said that about your being chosen just now.
He was squiffed because Mr. Wharton didn't take him, that's all. He
thinks he ought to be ahead of everyone."
"Well, I didn't ask to be chosen. I'm glad I was, of course, but I
didn't expect to be. I think perhaps Leslie Franklin asked Mr. Wharton
to take me."
"Of course he did! Why shouldn't he?"
Just then the coming of the train cut them short. From almost every
window men in uniform looked out. A few of the soldiers laughed at their
scout garb, but most of them only smiled gravely, and as if they were
well pleased. The two scouts made for the nearest compartment, and
found, when they were in it, that it was a first-class carriage, already
containing two young officers who were smoking and chatting together.
"Hullo, young 'uns!" said one of the officers. "Off to the war?"
They both laughed, which Harry rather resented. "We're under orders,
sir," he said, politely. "But, of course, they won't let us Scouts go to
"Don't rag them, Cecil," said the other officer. "They're just the sort
we need. Going to Ealing, boys?"
Harry checked Dick's impulsive answer with a quick snatch at his elbow.
He looked his questioner straight in the eye.
"We weren't told to answer any questions, sir," he said.
Both the officers roared with laughter, but they sobered quickly, and
the one who had asked the question flushed a little.
"I beg your pardon, my boy," he said. "The question is withdrawn. You're
perfectly right—and you're setting us an example by taking things
seriously. This war isn't going to be a lark. But you can tell me a few
things. You're scouts, I see. I was myself, once—before I went to
Sandhurst. What troop and patrol?"
Dick told him, and the officer nodded.
"Good work!" he said. "The scouts are going to turn out and help, he?
That's splendid! There'll be work enough to go all around, never you
"If, by any chance, you should be going to Ealing Barracks," said the
first officer, rather shyly, "and we should get off the train when you
do, there's no reason why you shouldn't let us drive you out, is there?
We're going there, and I don't mind telling you that we've just finished
a two hour leave to go and say good-bye to—to—"
His voice broke a little at that. In spite of his light-hearted manner
and his rather chaffing tone, he couldn't help remembering that
good-bye. He was going to face whatever fate might come, but thoughts of
those he might not see again could not be prevented from obtruding
"Shut up, Cecil," said the other. "We've said good-bye—that's the end
of it! We've got other things to think of now. Here we are!"
The train pulled into Ealing station. Here the evidences of war and the
warlike preparations were everywhere. The platforms were full of
soldiers, laughing, jostling one another, saluting the officers who
passed among them. And Harry, as he and Dick followed the officers
toward the gate, saw one curious thing. A sentry stood by the railway
official who was taking up tickets, and two or three times he stopped
and questioned civilian passengers. Two of these, moreover, he ordered
into the ticket office, where, as he went by, Harry saw an officer,
seated at a desk, examining civilians.
Ealing, as a place where many troops were quartered, was plainly very
much under martial law. And outside the station it was even more
military. Soldiers were all about and automobiles were racing around,
too. And there were many women and children here, to bid farewell to the
soldiers who were going—where? No one knew. That was the mystery of the
morning. Everyone understood that the troops were off; that they had
their orders. But not even the officers themselves knew where, it
"Here we are—here's a car!" said the officer called Cecil. "Jump
aboard, young 'uns! We know where you're going, right enough. Might as
well save some time."
And so in a few minutes they reached the great barracks. Here the bustle
that had been so marked about the station was absent. All was quiet.
They were challenged by a sentry and Harry asked for the officer of the
guard. When he came he handed him Wharton's letter. They were told to
wait—outside. And then, in a few minutes, the officer returned, passed
them through, and turned them over to an orderly, who took them to the
room where Colonel Throckmorton, who was seemingly in charge of
important affairs, received them. He returned their salute, then bent a
rather stern gaze upon them before he spoke.
THE HOUSE OF THE HELIOGRAPH
"You know your way about London?" he asked.
"Yes, sir," said Harry.
"I shall have messages for you to carry," said the colonel, then. "Now I
want to explain, so that you will understand the importance of this, why
you are going to be allowed to do this work. This war has come
suddenly—but we are sure that the enemy has expected it for a long
time, and has made plans accordingly.
"There are certain matters so important, so secret, that we are afraid
to trust them to the telephone, the telegraph—even the post, if that
were quick enough! In a short time we shall have weeded out all the
spies. Until then we have to exercise the greatest care. And it has been
decided to accept the offer of Boy Scouts because the spies we feel we
must guard against are less likely to suspect boys than men. I am going
to give you some dispatches now—what they are is a secret. You take
them to Major French, at Waterloo station."
He stopped, apparently expecting them to speak. But neither said
"No questions?" he asked, sternly.
"N$1—$2 sir," said Dick. "We're to take the dispatches to Major French,
at Waterloo? That all, is it, sir? And then to come back here?"
The colonel nodded approvingly.
"Yes, that's all," he said. "Except for this. Waterloo station is closed
to all civilians. You will require a word to pass the sentries. No
matter what you see, once you are inside, you are not to describe it.
You are to tell no one, not even your parent—what you do or what you
see. That is all," and he nodded in dismissal.
They made their way out and back to the railway station. And Dick seemed
a little disappointed.
"I don't think this is much to be doing!" he grumbled.
But Harry's eyes were glistening.
"Don't you see?" he said, lowering his voice so they could not be
overheard. "We know something now that probably even a lot of the
soldiers don't know! They're mobilizing. If they are going to be sent
from Waterloo it must mean that they're going to Southampton—and that
means that they will reach France. That's what we'll see at Waterloo
station—troops entraining to start the trip to France. They're going to
fight over there. Everyone is guessing at that—a lot of people thought
most of the army would be sent to the East Coast. But that can't be so,
you see. If it was, they would be starting from King's Cross and
Liverpool street stations, not from Waterloo."
"Oh, I never thought of that!" said Dick, brightening.
When they got on the train at Ealing they were lucky enough to get a
compartment to themselves, since at that time more people were coming to
Ealing than were leaving it. Dick began at once to give vent to his
"How many of them do you suppose are going?" he cried. "Who will be in
command? Sir John French, I think. Lord Kitchener is to be War Minister,
they say, and stay in London. I bet they whip those bally Germans until
they don't know where they are—"
"Steady on!" said Harry, smiling, but a little concerned, none the less.
"Dick, don't talk that! You don't know who may be listening!"
"Why, Harry! No one can hear us—we're alone in the carriage!"
"I know, but we don't know who's in the next one or whether they can
hear through or not. The wall isn't very thick, you know. We can't be
too careful. I don't think anyone knows what we're doing but there isn't
any reason why we should take any risk at all."
"No, of course not. You're right, Harry," said Dick, a good deal
abashed. "I'll try to keep quiet after this."
"I wonder why there are two of us," said Dick presently, in a whisper.
"I should think one would be enough."
"I think we've both got just the same papers to carry," said Harry, also
in a whisper. "You see, if one of us gets lost, or anything happens to
his papers, the other will probably get through all right. At least it
looks that way to me."
"Harry," said Dick, after a pause, "I've got an idea. Suppose we
separate and take different ways to get to Waterloo? Wouldn't that make
it safer? We could meet there and go back to Ealing together."
"That's a good idea, Dick," said Harry. He didn't think that their
present errand was one of great importance, in spite of what Colonel
Throckmorton had said. He thought it more likely that they were being
tried out and tested, so that the colonel might draw his own conclusions
as to how far he might safely trust them in the future. But he repressed
his inclination to smile at this sudden excess of caution on Dick's
part. It was a move in the right direction, certainly.
"Yes, we'll do that," he said. "I'll walk across the bridge, and you can
take the tube under the river from the Monument."
They followed that plan, and met without incident at the station. Here
more than ever the fact of war was in evidence. A considerable space in
and near the station had been roped off and sentries refused to allow
any to pass who could not prove that they had a right to do so. The
ordinary peaceful vocation of the great terminal was entirely suspended.
"Anything happen to you?" asked Harry with a smile. "I nearly got run
over—but that was my own fault."
"No, nothing. I saw Graves. And he wanted to know what I was doing."
"What did you tell him?"
"Nothing. I said, 'Don't you wish you knew?' And he got angry, and said
he didn't care."
"It wasn't any of his business. You did right," said Harry.
They had to wait a few moments to see Major French, who was exceedingly
busy. They need no one to tell them what was going on. At the platform
trains were waiting, and, even while they looked on, one after another
drew out, loaded with soldiers. The windows were whitewashed, so that,
once the doors of the compartments were closed, none could see who was
inside. There was no cheering, which seemed strange at first, but it was
so plain that this was a precautionary measure that the boys understood
it easily enough. Finally Major French, an energetic, sunburned man, who
looked as if he hadn't slept for days, came to them. They handed him the
papers they carried. He glanced at them, signed receipts which he handed
to them, and then frowned for a moment.
"I think I'll let you take a message to Colonel Throckmorton for me," he
said, then, giving them a kindly smile. "It will be a verbal message.
You are to repeat what I tell you to him without a change. And I suppose
I needn't tell you that you must give it to no one else?"
"No, sir," they chorused.
"Very well, then. You will tell him that trains will be waiting below
Surbiton, at precisely ten o'clock tonight. Runways will be built to let
the men climb the embankment, and they can entrain there. You will
"You might as well understand what it's all about," said the major. "You
see, we're moving a lot of troops. And it is of the utmost importance
for the enemy to know all about the movement and, of course, just as
important for us to keep them from learning what they want to know. So
we are covering the movement as well as we can. Even if they learn some
of the troops that are going, we want to keep them from finding out
everything. Their spy system is wonderfully complete and we have to take
every precaution that is possible. It is most important that you deliver
this message to Colonel Throckmorton. Repeat it to me exactly," he
They did so, and, seemingly satisfied, he let them go. But just as they
were leaving, he called them back.
"You'd go back by the underground, I suppose," he said. "I'm not sure
that you can get through for the line is likely to be taken over,
temporarily, at any moment. Take a taxicab—I'll send an orderly with
you to put you aboard. Don't pay the man anything; we are keeping a lot
of them outside on government service, and they get their pay from the
The orderly led them to the stand, some distance from the station, where
the cabs stood in a long row, and spoke to the driver of the one at the
head of the rank. In a moment the motor was started, and they were off.
The cab had a good engine, and it made good time. But after a little
while Harry noticed with some curiosity that the route they were taking
was not the most direct one. He rapped on the window glass and spoke to
the driver about it.
"Got to go round, sir," the man explained. "Roads are all torn up the
straight way, sir. Won't take much longer, sir."
Harry accepted the explanation. Indeed, it seemed reasonable enough. But
some sixth sense warned him to keep his eyes open. And at last he
decided that there could be no excuse for the way the cab was
proceeding. It seemed to him that they were going miles out of the way,
and decidedly in the wrong direction. He did not know London as well as
a boy who had lived there all his life would have done. But his scout
training had given him a remarkable ability to keep his bearings. And it
needed no special knowledge to realize that the sun was on the wrong
side of the cab for a course that was even moderately straight for
They had swung well around, as a matter of fact, into a northwestern
suburban section, and once he had seen a maze of railway tracks that
meant, he was almost sure that they were passing near Willisden
Junction. Only a few houses appeared in the section through which the
cab was now racing and pavements were not frequent. He spoke to Dick: in
"There's something funny here," he said. "But, no matter what happens
pretend you think it's all right. Let anyone who speaks to us think
we're foolish. It will be easier for us to get away then. And keep your
eyes wide open, if we stop anywhere, so that you will be sure to know
the place again!"
"Right!" said Dick.
Just then the cab, caught in a rutty road where the going was very
heavy, and there was a slight upgrade in addition, to make it worse,
slowed up considerably. And Dick, looking out the window on his side,
gave a stifled exclamation.
"Look there, Harry!" he said. "Do you see the sun flashing on something
on the roof of that house over there? What do you suppose that is?"
"Whew!" Harry whistled, "You ought to know that, Dick! A
heliograph—field telegraph. Morse code—or some code—made by flashes.
The sun catches a mirror or some sort of reflector, and it's just like a
telegraph instrument, with dots and dashes, except that you work by
sight instead of by sound. That is queer. Try to mark just where the
house is, and so will I."
The cab turned, while they were still looking, and removed the house
where the signalling was being done from their line of vision. But in a
few moments there was a loud report that startled the scouts until they
realized that a front tire had blown out. The driver stopped at once,
and descended, seemingly much perturbed. And Harry and Dick, piling out
to inspect the damage, started when they saw that they had stopped just
outside the mysterious house.
"I'll fix that in a jiffy," said the driver, and began jacking up the
wheel. But, quickly as he stripped off the deflated tire, he was not so
quick that Harry failed to see that the blow-out had been caused by a
straight cut—not at all the sort of tear produced by a jagged stone or
a piece of broken glass. He said nothing of his discovery, however, and
a moment later he looked up to face a young man in the uniform of an
officer of the British territorial army. This young man had keen,
searching blue eyes, and very blond hair. His upper lip was closely
shaven, but it bore plain evidence that within a few days it had sported
"Well," said the officer, "what are you doing here?"
The driver straightened up as if in surprise. "Blow-out, sir," he said,
touching his cap. "I'm carrying these young gentlemen from Waterloo to
Ealing, sir. Had to come around on account of the roads."
"You've have your way lost, my man. Why not admit it?" said the officer,
showing his white teeth in a smile. He turned to Harry an Dick. "Boy
Scouts, I see," he commented. "You carry orders concerning the movement
of troops from Ealing? They are to entrain—where?"
"Near Croydon, sir, on the Brighton and South Coast Line," said Harry,
lifting his innocent eyes to his questioner.
"So! They go to Dover, then, I suppose—no, perhaps to Folkestone—- oh,
what matter? Hurry up with your tire, my man!"
He watched them still as the car started. Then he went back to the
"Whatever did you tell him that whopper about Croydon for?" whispered
Dick. "I wasn't going to tell him anything-"
"Then he might have tried to make us," answered Harry, also in a
whisper. "Did you notice anything queer about him?"
"You have your way lost!' Would any Englishman say that, Dick? And
wouldn't a German? You've studied German. Translate 'You've lost your
way' into German. 'Du hast dein weg—' See? He was a German spy!"
"Oh, Harry! I believe you're right! But why didn't we—"
"Try to arrest him? There may have been a dozen others there, too. And
there was the driver. We wouldn't have had a chance. Besides, if he
thinks we don't suspect, we may be able to get some valuable information
later. I think—"
"I'd better not say now. But remember this—we've got to look out for
this driver. I think he'll take us straight to Ealing now. When we get
to the barracks you stay in the cab—we'll pretend we may have to go
back with him."
"I see," said Dick, thrilling with the excitement of this first taste of
Harry was right. The driver's purpose in making such a long detour,
whatever it was, had been accomplished. And now he plainly did his best
to make up for lost time. He drove fast and well, and in a comparatively
short time both the scouts could see that they were on the right track.
"You watch one side. I'll take the other," said Harry. "We've got to be
able to find our way back to that house."
This watchfulness confirmed Harry's suspicions concerning the driver,
because he made two or three circuits that could have no other purpose
than to make it hard to follow his course.
At Ealing he and Dick carried out their plan exactly. Dick stayed with
the cab, outside the wall; Harry hurried in. And five minutes after
Harry had gone inside a file of soldiers, coming around from another
gate, surrounded the cab and arrested the driver.
ON THE TRAIL
Harry had reached Colonel Throckmorton without difficulty and before
delivering Major French's message, he explained his suspicions regarding
"What's that? 'Eh, what's that?" asked the colonel. "Spy? This country's
suffering from an epidemic of spy fever—that's what! Still—a taxi cab
driver, eh? Perhaps he's one of the many who's tried to overcharge me.
I'll put him in the guardhouse, anyway! I'll find out if you're right
later, young man!"
As a matter of fact, and as Harry surmised, Colonel Throckmorton felt
that it was not a time to take chances. He was almost sure that Harry
was letting his imagination run away with him, but it would be safer to
arrest a man by mistake than to let him go if there was a chance that he
was guilty. So he gave the order and then turned to question Harry. The
scout first gave Major French's message, and Colonel Throckmorton
immediately dispatched an orderly after giving him certain whispered
"Now tell me just why you suspect your driver. Explain exactly what
happened," he said. He turned to a stenographer. "Take notes of this,
Johnson," he directed.
Harry told his story simply and well. When he quoted the officer's
remark to the cab driver, with the German inversion, the colonel
"You have your way lost!' Eh?" he said, with a smile. "You're right—he
was no Englishman! Go on!"
When he had finished, the colonel brought down his fist on his desk with
a great blow.
"You've done very well, Fleming—that's your name?—very well, indeed,"
he said, heartily. "We know London is covered with spies but we have
flattered ourselves that it didn't matter very much what they found,
since there was no way that we could see for them to get their news to
their headquarters in Germany. But now—"
He frowned thoughtfully.
"They might be able to set up a chain of signalling stations," he said.
"The thing to do would be to follow them, eh? Do you think you could do
that? You might use a motorcycle—know how to ride one?"
"Yes, sir," said Harry.
"Live with your parents, do you? Would they let you go? I don't think it
would be very dangerous, and you would excite less suspicion than a man.
See if they will let you turn yourself over to me for a few days. Pick
out another scout to go with you, if you like. Perhaps two of you would
be better than one. Report to me in the morning. I'll write a note to
your scoutmaster—Mr. Wharton, isn't it? Right!"
As they made their way homeward, thoroughly worked up by the excitement
of their adventure, Harry wondered whether his father would let him
undertake this service Colonel Throckmorton had suggested. After all, he
was not English, and he felt that his father might not want him to do
it, although Mr. Fleming, he knew, sympathized strongly with the English
in the war. He said nothing to Dick, preferring to wait until he was
sure that he could go ahead with his plans.
But when he reached his house he found that things had changed
considerably in his absence. Both his parents seemed worried; his father
seemed especially troubled.
"Harry," he said, "the war has hit us already. I'm called home by cable,
and at the same time there is word that your Aunt Mary is seriously ill.
Your mother wants to be with her. I find that, by a stroke of luck, I
can get quarters for your mother and myself on tomorrow's steamer. But
there's no room for you. Do you think you could get along all right if
you were left here? I'll arrange for supplies for the house; Mrs.
Grimshaw can keep house. And you will have what money you need."
"Of course I can get along!" said Harry, stoutly. "I suppose the
steamers are fearfully crowded?"
"Only about half of them are now in service," said Mr. Fleming. "And the
rush of Americans who have been travelling abroad is simply tremendous.
Well, if you can manage, it will relieve us greatly. I think we'll be
back in less than a month. Keep out of mischief. And write to us as
often as you can hear of a steamer that is sailing. If anything happens
to you, cable. I'll arrange with Mr. Bruce, at the Embassy, to help you
if you need him, but that ought not to be necessary."
Harry was genuinely sorry for his mother's distress at leaving him, but
he was also relieved, in a way. He felt now he would not be forbidden to
do his part with the scouts. He would be able to undertake what promised
to be the greatest adventure that had ever come his way. He had no fear
of being left alone for his training as a Boy Scout had made him too
self reliant for that.
Mr. and Mrs. Fleming started for Liverpool that night. Train service
throughout the country was so disorganized by the military use of the
railways that journeys that in normal, peaceful times required only two
or three hours were likely to consume a full day. So he went into the
city of London with them and saw them off at Euston, which was full of
distressed American refugees.
The Flemings found many friends there, of whose very presence in London
they were ignorant, and Mr. Fleming, who, thanks to his business
connections in London, was plentifully supplied with cash, was able to
relieve the distress of some of them.
Many had escaped from France, Germany and Austria with only the clothes
they wore, having lost all their luggage. Many more, though possessed of
letters of credit or travellers' checks for considerable sums, didn't
have enough money to buy a sandwich; since the banks were all closed and
no one would cash their checks.
So Harry had another glimpse of the effects of war, seeing how it
affected a great many people who not only had nothing to do with the
fighting, but were citizens of a neutral nation. He was beginning to
understand very thoroughly by this time that war was not what he had
always dreamed. It meant more than fighting, more than glory.
But, after all, now that war had come, it was no time to think of such
things. He had undertaken, if he could get permission, to do a certain
very important piece of work. And now, by a happy accident, as he
regarded it, it wasn't necessary for him to ask that permission. He was
not forbidden to do any particular thing; his father had simply warned
him to be careful.
So when he went home, he whistled outside of Dick Mercer's window, woke
him up, and, when Dick came down into the garden, explained to him what
Colonel Throckmorton wanted them to do.
"He said I could pick out someone to go with me, Dick," Harry explained.
"And, of course, I'd rather have you than anyone I can think of. Will
you come along?"
"Will I!" said Dick. "What do you think you'll do, Harry?"
"We may get special orders, of course," said Harry. "But I think the
first thing will be to find out just where the signals from that house
are being received. They must be answered, you know, so we ought to find
the next station. Then, from that, we can work on to the next."
"Where do you suppose those signals go to?"
"That's what we've got to find out, Dick! But I should think, in the
long run, to someplace on the East coast. Perhaps they've got some way
there of signalling to ships at sea. Anyhow, that's what's got to be
discovered. Did you see Graves tonight?"
"No," said Dick, his lips tightening, "I didn't! But I heard about him,
"How? What do you mean?"
"I heard that he'd been doing a lot of talking about you. He said it
wasn't fair to have taken you and given you the honor of doing something
when there were English boys who were just as capable of doing it as
"Oh!" said Harry, with a laugh. "Much I care what he says!"
"Much I care, either!" echoed Dick. "But, Harry, he has made some of the
other chaps feel that way, too. They all like you, and they don't like
him. But they do seem to think some of them should have been chosen."
"'Well, it's not my fault," said Harry, cheerfully. "I certainly wasn't
going to refuse. And it isn't as if I'd asked Mr. Wharton to pick me
"No, and I fancy there aren't many of them who would have done as well
as you did today, either!"
"Oh yes, they would! That wasn't anything. We'd better get to bed now. I
think we ought to report just as early as we can in the morning. If we
get away by seven o'clock, it won't be a bit too early."
"All right. I'll be ready. Good-night, Harry!"
Morning saw them up on time, and off to Ealing. There Colonel
Throckmorton gave them their orders.
"I've requisitioned motorcycles for you," he said. "Make sure of the
location of the house, so that you can mark it on an ordnance map for
me. Then use your own judgment, but find the next house. I have had
letters prepared for you that will introduce you to either the mayor or
the military commander in any town you reach and you will get quarters
for the night, if you need them. Where do you think your search will
lead you, Fleming?"
He eyed Harry sharply as he asked the question. "Somewhere on the East
coast, I think, sir," replied Harry.
"Well, that remains to be seen. Report by telegraph, using this code.
It's a simplified version of the official code, but it contains all you
will need to use. That is all."
Finding the house, when they started on their motorcycles, did not prove
as difficult a task as Harry had feared it might. They both remembered a
number of places they had marked from the cab windows, and it was not
long before they were sure they were drawing near.
"I remember that hill," said Harry. "By Jove—yes, there it is! On top
of that hill, do you see? We won't go much nearer. I don't want them to
see us, by any chance. All we need is to notice which way they're
They watched the house for some time before there was any sign of life.
And then it was only the flashes that they saw. Since the previous day
some sort of cover had been provided for the man who did the signalling.
"What do you make of it, Dick?" asked Harry eagerly, after the flashing
had continued for some moments.
"It looks to me as if they were flashing toward the north and a little
toward the west," said Dick, puzzled.
"That's the way it seems to me, too," agreed Harry. "That isn't what we
expected, either, is it?"
"Of course we can't be sure."
"No, put it certainly looks that way. Well, we can't make sure from
here, but we've got to do it somehow. I tell you what. We'll circle
around and get northwest of the house. Then we ought to be able to tell
a good deal better. And if we get far enough around, I don't believe
they'll see us, or pay any attention to us if they do."
So they mounted their machines again, and in a few moments were speeding
toward a new and better spot from which to spy on the house. But this,
when they reached it, only confirmed their first guess. The signals were
much more plainly visible here, and it was obvious now, as it had not
been before, that the screen they had noticed had been erected as much
to concentrate the flashes and make them more easily visible to a
receiving station as to conceal the operator. So they turned and figured
a straight line as well as they could from the spot where the flashes
were made. Harry had a map with him, and on this he marked, as well as
he could, the location of the house. Then he drew a line from it to the
"The next station must be on this line somewhere," he said. "We'll stick
to it. There's a road, you see, that we can follow that's almost
straight. And as soon as we come to a high building we ought to be able
to see both flashes—the ones that are being sent from that house and
the answering signals. Do you see?"
"Yes, that'll be fine!" said Dick. "Come on!"
"Not so fast!" said a harsh voice behind them.
They spun around, and there, grinning a little, but looking highly
determined and dangerous, was the same man they had seen the day before,
and who had questioned them when the tire of their taxicab blew out! But
now he was not in uniform, but in a plain suit of clothes.
"So you are spying on my house, are you?" he said. "And you lied to me
yesterday! No troops were sent to Croydon at all!"
"Well, you hadn't any business to ask us!" said Dick, pluckily. "If you
hadn't asked us any questions, we'd have told you no lies."
"I think perhaps you know too much," said the spy, nodding his head,
"You had better come with me. We will look after you in this house that
interests you so greatly."
He made a movement forward. His hand dropped on Dick's shoulder. But as
it did so Harry's feet left the ground. He aimed for the spy's legs,
just below the knee, and brought him to the ground with a beautiful
diving tackle—the sort he had learned in his American football days. It
was the one attack of all others that the spy did not anticipate, if,
indeed, he looked for any resistance at all. He wasn't a football
player, so he didn't know how to let his body give and strike the ground
limply. The result was that his head struck a piece of hard ground with
abnormal violence, and he lay prone and very still.
"Oh, that was ripping, Harry!" cried Dick. "But do you think you've
"Killed him? No!" said Harry, with a laugh.
"He's tougher than that, Dick!"
But he looked ruefully at the spy.
"I wish I knew what to do with him," he said. "He'll come to in a little
"We can get away while he's still out," said Dick, quickly. "He can't
follow us and we can get such a start with our motorcycles."
"Yes, but he'll know their game is up," said Harry. "Don't you see,
Dick? He'll tell them they're suspected—and that's all they'll need in
the way of warning. When men are doing anything as desperate as the sort
of work they're up to in that house, they take no more chances than they
have to. They'd be off at once, and start up somewhere else. We only
stumbled on this by mere accident—they might be able to work for weeks
if they were warned."
"Oh, I never thought of that! What are we to do, then?'
"I wish I knew whether anyone saw us from the house or if they didn't—!
Well, we'll have to risk that. Dick, do you see that house over there?
It's all boarded up—it must be empty."
"Yes, I see it." Dick caught Harry's idea at once this time, and began
measuring with his eye the distance to the little house of which Harry
had spoken. "It's all down hill—I think we could manage it all right."
"We'll try it, anyhow," said Harry. "But first we'd better tie up his
hands and feet. He's too strong for the pair of us, I'm afraid, if he
should come to."
Once that was done, they began to drag the spy toward the house. Half
carrying, half pulling, they got him down the slope, and with a last
great effort lifted him through a window, which, despoiled of glass, had
been boarded up. They were as gentle as they could be, for the idea of
hurting a helpless man, even though he was a spy, went against the
"We can't be too particular," said Harry. "And he brought it on himself.
I'm afraid he'll have worse than this to face later on."
They dumped him through the window, from which they had taken the
boards. Then they made their own way inside, and Harry began to truss up
the prisoner more scientifically. He understood the art of tying a man
very well indeed, for one of the games of his old scout patrol had
involved tying up one scout after another to see if they could free
themselves. And when he had done, he stepped back with a smile of
"I don't believe he'll get himself free very soon," he said. "He'll be
lucky if that knock on the head keeps him unconscious for a long time,
because he'll wake up with a headache, and if he stays as he is he won't
know how uncomfortable he is."
"Are we going to leave him like that, Harry?"
"We've got to, Dick. But he'll be all right, I am going to telephone to
Colonel Throckmorton and tell him to send here for him, but to do so at
night, and so that no one will notice. He won't starve or die of thirst.
I can easily manage to describe this place so that whoever the colonel
sends will find it. Come on!"
They went back to their cycles and rode on until they came to a place
where they could telephone. Harry explained guardedly, and they went on.
THE MYSTERY OF BRAY PARK
"I hope he'll be all right," said Dick.
"They'll find him, I'm sure," said Harry. "Even if they don't, he'll be
all right for a few days, two or three, anyhow. A man can be very
uncomfortable and miserable, and still not be in any danger. We don't
need half as much food as we eat, really. I've heard that lots of
They were riding along the line that Harry had marked on his map, and, a
mile or two ahead, there was visible an old-fashioned house, with a
tower projecting from its centre. From this, Harry had decided, they
should be able to get the view they required and so locate the second
"How far away do you think it ought to be, Harry?" asked Dick.
"It's very hard to tell, Dick. A first-class heliograph is visible for a
very long way, if the conditions are right. That is, if the sun is out
and the ground is level. In South Africa, for instance, or in Egypt, it
would work for nearly a hundred miles, or maybe even more. But here I
should think eight or ten miles would be the limit. And it's cloudy so
often that it must be very uncertain."
"Why don't they use flags, then?"
"The way we do in the scouts? Well, I guess that's because the
heliograph is so much more secret. You see, with the heliograph the
flashes are centered. You've got to be almost on a direct line with
them, or not more than fifty yards off the centre line, to see them at
all, even a mile away. But anyone can see flags, and read messages,
unless they're in code. And if these people are German spies, the code
wouldn't help them. Having it discovered that they were sending messages
at all would spoil their plans."
"I see. Of course, though. That's just what you said. It was really just
by accident that we saw them flashing."
Then they came to the house where they expected to make their
observation. It was occupied by an old gentleman, who came out to see
what was wanted and stood behind the servant who opened the door. At the
sight of their uniforms he drew himself up very straight and saluted.
But, formal as he was, there was a smile in his eyes.
"Well, boys," he said, "what can I do for you? On His Majesty's service,
"Yes, sir," said Dick. "We'd like to go up in your tower room, if you
"Scouting, eh?" said the old gentleman, mystified. "Do you expect to
locate the enemy's cavalry from my tower room? Well, well—up with you.
You can do no harm."
Dick was inclined to resent the old gentleman's failure to take them
seriously, but Harry silenced his protest. As they went up the stairs he
whispered: "It's better for him to think that. We don't want anyone to
know what we're doing, you know—not yet."
So they reached the tower room, and, just as Harry had anticipated, got
a wonderful view of the surrounding country. They found that the
heliograph they had left behind was working feverishly and Harry took
out a pencil and jotted down the symbols as they were flashed.
"It's in code, of course," he said, "but maybe we'll find someone who
can decipher it—I know they have experts for that. It might come in
handy to know what they were talking about."
"There's the other station answering!" said Dick, excitedly, after a
moment. "Isn't it lucky that it's such a fine day, Harry? See, there it
is, over there!"
"Let me have the glasses," said Harry, taking the binoculars from Dick.
"Yes, you're right! They're on the top of a hill, just about where I
thought we'd find them, too. Come on! We've got no time to waste.
They're a good seven miles from here, and we've a lot more to do yet."
Below stairs the old gentleman tried to stop them.
He was very curious by this time, for he had been thinking about them
and it had struck him that they were too much in earnest to simply be
enjoying lark. But Harry and Dick, while they met his questions
politely, refused to enlighten him.
"I'm sorry, sir," said Harry, when the old gentleman pressed him too
hard. "But I really think we mustn't tell you why we're here. But if you
would like to hear of it later, we'll be glad to come to see you and
"Bless my soul!" said the old man. "When I was a boy we didn't think so
much of ourselves, I can tell you! But then we didn't have any Boy
It was hard to tell from his manner whether that was intended for a
compliment or not. But they waited no longer. In a trice they were on
their motorcycles and off again. And when they drew near to the hilltop
whence the signals had come, Harry stopped. For a moment he looked
puzzled, then he smiled.
"I think I've got it!" he said. "They're clever enough to try to fool
anyone who got on to their signalling. They would know what everyone
would think—that they would be sending their messages to the East
coast, because that is nearest to Germany. That's why they put their
first station here. I'll bet they send the flashes zig-zagging all
around, but that we'll find they all get east gradually. Now we'll
circle around this one until we find out in what direction it is
flashing, then we'll know what line we must follow. After that all we've
got to do is to follow the line to some high hill or building, and we'll
pick up the next station."
Their eyes were more accustomed to the work now, and they wasted very
little time. This time, just as Harry had guessed, the flashes were
being sent due east, and judging from the first case that the next
station would be less than ten miles away, he decided to ride straight
on for about that distance. He had a road map, and found that they could
follow a straight line, except for one break. They did not go near the
hilltop at all.
"I'd like to know what they're doing there," said Dick.
"So would I, but it's open country, and they're probably keeping a close
lookout. They're really safer doing that in the open than on the roof of
a house, out here in the country."
"Because they can hide the heliograph? It's portable, isn't it?"
"Yes. They could stow it away in a minute, if they were alarmed. I fancy
we'll find them using hilltops now as much as they can."
"Harry, I've just thought of something. If they've planned so carefully
as this, wouldn't they be likely to have country places, where they'd be
less likely to be disturbed?"
"Yes, they would. You're right, Dick. Especially as we get further and
further away from London. I suppose there must be plenty of places a
German could buy or lease."
"And perhaps people wouldn't even know they were Germans, if they spoke
good English, and didn't have an accent."
That suggestion of Dick's bore fruit. For the third station they found
was evidently hidden away in a private park. It was in the outskirts of
a little village, and Harry and Dick had no trouble at all in finding
out all the villagers knew of the place. "'Twas taken a year ago by a
rich American gentleman, with a sight of motor cars and foreign-looking
servants," they were told. "Very high and mighty he is, too—does all
his buying at the stores in Lunnon, and don't give local trade any of
The two scouts exchanged glances. Their suspicions were confirmed in a
way. But it was necessary to be sure; to be suspicious was not enough
"We'll have to get inside," he said under his breath to Dick. But the
villager heard, and laughed.
"Easy enough, if you're friends of his," he said. "If not—look out,
master! He's got signs up warning off trespassers, and traps and spring
guns all over the place. Wants to be very private, and that, he does."
"Thanks," said Harry. "Perhaps we'd better not pay him a visit, after
The village was a sleepy little place, one of the few spots Harry had
seen to which the war fever had not penetrated. It was not on the line
of the railway, and there was not even a telegraph station. By showing
Colonel Throckmorton's letter, Harry and Dick could have obtained the
right to search the property that they suspected. But that did not seem
"I don't think the village constables here could help us much, Dick,"
said Harry. "They'd give everything away, and we probably wouldn't
accomplish anything except to put them on their guard. I vote we wait
until dark and try to find out what we can by ourselves. It's risky but
even if they catch us, I don't think we need to be afraid of their doing
"I'm with you," said Dick. "We'll do whatever you say."
They spent the rest of the afternoon scouting around the neighboring
country on their motorcycles, studying the estate from the roads that
surrounded it. Bray Park, it was called, and it had for centuries
belonged to an old family, which, however, had been glad of the high
rent it had been able to extract from the rich American who had taken
What they saw was that the grounds seemed to be surrounded, near the
wall, by heavy trees, which made it difficult to see much of what was
within. But in one place there was a break, so that, looking across
velvety green lawns, they could see a small part of an old and
weatherbeaten grey house. It appeared to be on a rise, and to stand
several stories above the ground, so that it might well be an ideal
place for the establishment of a heliograph station.
But Harry's suspicions were beginning to take a new turn.
"I believe this is the biggest find we've made yet, Dick," he said. "I
think we'll find that if we discover what is really going on here, we'll
be at the end of our task—or very near it. It's just the place for a
"I believe it is, Harry. And if they've been so particular to keep
everything about it secret, it certainly seems that there must be
something important to hide," suggested Harry, thinking deeply. "I think
I'll write a letter to Colonel Throckmorton, Dick. I'll tell him about
this place, and that we're trying to get in and find out what we can
about it. Then, if anything happens to us, he'll know what we were
doing, and he will have heard about this place, even if they catch us.
I'll post it before we go in."
"That's a splendid idea, Harry. I don't see how you think of everything
the way you do."
"I think it's because my father's always talking about how one ought to
think of all the things that can go wrong. He says that's the way he's
got along in business is by never being surprised by having something
unfortunate happen, and by always trying to be ready to make it as
trifling as it can be."
So Harry wrote and posted his letter, taking care to word it so that it
would be hard for anyone except Colonel Throckmorton to understand it.
And, even after having purposely made the wording rather obscure, he put
it into code. And, after that, he thought of still another precaution
that might be wise. "We won't need the credentials we've got in there
tonight, Dick," he said. "Nor our copies of the code, either. We'll bury
them near where we leave our motorcycles. Then when we get out we can
easily get them back, and if we should be caught they won't be found on
us. Remember, if we are caught, we're just boys out trespassing. Let
them think we're poachers, if they like."
But even Harry could think of no more precautions after that, and they
had a long and tiresome wait until they thought it was dark enough to
venture within the walls.
Getting over the wall was not difficult. They had thought they might
find broken glass on top, but there was nothing of the sort. Once
inside, however, they speedily discovered why that precaution was not
taken—and also that they had had a remarkably narrow escape. For
scarcely had they dropped to the ground and taken shelter when they saw
a figure, carrying a gun, approaching. It was a man making the rounds of
the wall. While they watched he met another man, also armed, and turned
to retrace this steps.
"They've got two men, at least—maybe a lot more, doing that," whispered
Harry. "We've got to find out just how often he passes that spot. We
want to know if the intervals are regular, too, so that we can calculate
just when he'll be there."
Three times the man came and went, while they waited, timing him. And
Harry found that he passed the spot at which they had entered every
fifteen minutes. That was not exact for there was a variation of a
minute or so, but it seemed pretty certain that he would pass between
thirteen and seventeen minutes after the hour, and so on.
"So we'll know when it's safe to make a dash to get out," said Harry.
"The first thing a general does, you know, is to secure his retreat. He
doesn't expect to be beaten, but he wants to know what he can live to
fight another day if he is."
"We've got to retreat, haven't we?" asked Dick. "It wouldn't do us any
good to stay here."
"That's so. But we've got to advance first. Now to get near that house,
and see what we can find. Look out for those traps and things our friend
warned us of. It looks like just the place for them. And keep to cover!"
They wormed their way forward, often crawling along. Both knew a good
deal about traps and how they are set, and their common sense enabled
them to see the most likely places for them. They kept to open ground,
avoiding shrubbery and what looked like windfalls of branches. Before
they came into full view of the house they had about a quarter of a mile
to go. And it was an exciting journey.
They dared not speak to one another. For all about, though at first they
could see nothing, there was the sense of impending danger. They felt
that unseen eyes were watching, not for them, perhaps, but for anyone
who might venture to intrude and pass the first line. Both of the scouts
felt that they were tilting against a mighty force, that the
organization that would perfect, in time of peace. Such a system of
espionage in the heart of the country of a possible enemy, was of the
most formidable sort.
They stopped, at last, at the edge of the clump of thick, old trees that
seemed to surround the place. Here they faced the open lawn, and Harry
realized that to try to cross it was too risky. They would gain nothing
by being detected. They could find out as much here by keeping their
eyes and ears open, he thought, as by going forward, when they were
almost sure to be detected.
"We'll stay here," he whispered to Dick, cautiously. "Dick, look over
there—to the left of the house. You see where there's a shadow by that
central tower? Well, to the left of that. Do you see some wires dangling
there? I'm not sure."
"I think there are," whispered Dick, after a moment in which he peered
through the darkness. Dick had one unusual gift. He had almost a
savage's ability to see in the dark, although in daylight his sight was
by no means out of the ordinary.
"Look!" he said, again, suddenly. "Up on top of the tower! There is
something going up there—it's outlined against that white cloud!"
Harry followed with his eyes and Dick was right. A long, thin pole was
rising, even as they looked on. Figures showed on the roof of the tower.
They were busy about the pole. It seemed to grow longer as they watched.
Then, suddenly, the dangling wires they had first noticed were drawn
taut, and they saw a cross-piece on the long pole. And then, with a
sudden rush of memory, Harry understood.
"Oh! We have struck it!" he said. "I remember now—a portable,
collapsible wireless installation! I've wondered how they could use
wireless, knowing that someone would be sure to pick up the signals and
that the plant would be run down. But they have those poles made in
sections—they could hide the whole thing. It takes very little time to
set them up. This is simply a bigger copy of what they use in the field.
We've got to get out!"
He looked at his watch.
"Carefully, now," he said. "We've just about got time. That sentry must
be just about passing the place where we got over the wall now. By the
time we get there he'll be gone, and we can slip out. We've got
everything we came for, not that we've seen that!"
They started on the return journey through the woods. More than ever
there seemed to be danger about them. And suddenly it reached out and
gripped them—gripped Harry, at least. As he took a step his foot sank
through the ground, as it seemed. The next moment he had all he could do
to suppress a cry of agony as a trap closed about his ankle, wrenching
it, and throwing him down.
"Go on!" he said to Dick, suppressing his pain by a great effort.
"I won't leave you!" said Dick. "I-"
"Obey orders! Don't you see you've go to go? You've got to tell them
about the wireless—and about where I am! Or else how am I to get away?
Perhaps if you come back quickly with help they won't find me until you
Dick understood. And, with a groan, he obeyed orders, and went.
A CLOSE SHAVE
Probably Dick did not realize that he was really showing a high order of
courage in going while Harry remained behind, caught in that cruel trap
and practically in the hands of enemies who were most unlikely to treat
him well. In fact, as he made his way toward the wall, Dick was
reproaching himself bitterly.
"I ought to stay!" he kept on saying to himself over and over again. "I
ought not to leave him so! He made me go so that I would be safe!"
There had been no time to argue, or Harry might have been able to make
him understand that it was at least as dangerous to go as to
stay—perhaps even more dangerous. Dick did not think that there was at
least a chance that every trap was wired, so that springing it would
sound an alarm in some central spot. If that were so, as Harry had fully
understood, escape for Dick would be most difficult and probably he too
would be captured.
"I'm such a coward!" Dick almost sobbed to himself, for he was
frightened, though, it must be said, less on his account than at the
thought of Harry. Yet he did not stop. He went on resolutely, alone, as
he got used to the idea that he must depend on himself, without Harry to
help him in any emergency that arose, his courage returned. He stopped,
just as he knew Harry would have done, several feet short of the wall.
His watch told him that he had time enough to make a dash, had several
minutes to spare, in fact. But he made sure.
And it was well that he did. For some alarm had been given. He heard
footsteps of running men, and in a moment two men, neither of them the
one they knew as the sentry, came running along the wall. They carried
pocket flashlights, and were examining the ground carefully. Dick sensed
at once what they meant to do, and shrank into the shelter of a great
rhododendron bush. He was small for his age, and exceptionally lissome
and he felt that the leaves would conceal him for a few moments at
least. He was taking a risk of finding a trap in the bush, but it was
the lesser of the two evils just then. And luck favored him. He
encountered no trap.
Then one of the men with flashlights gave a cry that sounded to Dick
just like the note of a dog that has picked up a lost scent. The lights
were playing on the ground just where they had crossed the wall.
"Footsteps, Hans!" said the man. "Turned from the wall, too! They have
gone in, but have not come out."
"How many?" asked the other man, coming up quickly.
"Two, I think—no more," said the discoverer. "Now we shall follow
Dick held his breath. If they could follow the footsteps—and there was
no reason in the world to hope that they could not!—they would be
bound to pass within a foot or two of his hiding-place. And, as he
realized, they would, when they were past him, find the marks of his
feet returning. They would know then that he was between them and the
wall. He realized what that would mean. Bravely he nerved himself to
take the one desperate chance that remained to him. They were far too
strong for him to have a chance to meet them on even terms, all he could
hope for was an opportunity to make use of his light weight and his
superior speed. He knew that he could move two feet, at least, to their
one. And so he waited, crouching, until they went by. The light flashed
by the bush, for some reason, it did not strike it directly. That gave
him a respite. Fortunately they were looking for footprints, not for
The moment they were by, Dick took the chance of making a noise, and
pushed through the bush, to reach the other side. And, just as the cry
of the man who first had seen the footprints sounded again, he got
through. At once, throwing off all attempt at silence, he started
running, crouched low. He was only a dozen feet from the wall he leaped
for a projection a few feet up. By a combination of good luck and skill
he reached it with his hands.
A moment later he had swarmed over the wall and dropped to the other
side just as a shot rang out behind. The bullet struck the wall, chipped
fragments of stone flew all over him. But he was not hurt, and he ran as
he had, never known he could run, keeping to the side of the road, where
he was in a heavy shadow.
As soon as he could, he burst through a hedge on the side of the road
opposite the wall, and ran on, sheltered by the hedge until, to his
delight, he plunged headfirst into a stream of water. The fall knocked
him out for a moment, but the cold water revived him and he did not mind
the scraped knee and the hurt knuckles he owed to the sharp stones in
the bed of the little brook. He changed his course at once, following
the brook, since in that no telltale footprints would be left.
Behind him he heard the sound of pursuit for a little while, but he
judged that the brook would save him. He could not be pursued very far.
Even in this sleepy countryside he would find it easy to get help, and
the Germans, as he was now sure they were, would have to give up the
chase. All that had been essential had been for him to get a few hundred
feet from the park, after that he was safe.
But, if he was safe, he was hopelessly lost. At least he would have
been, had he been an ordinary boy, without the scout training. He was in
unknown country and he had been chased away from all the landmarks he
had. It was of the utmost importance that he should reach as soon as
possible, and, especially, without passing too near Bray Park, the spot
where the motorcycles and the papers and codes had been cached. And,
when he finally came to a full stop, satisfied that he no longer had
anything to fear from pursuit, he was completely in the dark as to where
However, his training asserted itself. Although Harry had been in
charge, Dick had not failed to notice everything about the place where
they made their cache that would help to identify it. That was instinct
with him by this time, after two years as a scout; it was second nature.
And, though it had been light, he had pictured pretty accurately what
the place would look like at night. He remembered for instance, that
certain stars would be sure to fill the sky in a particular relation to
the cache. And now he looked up and worked out his own position. To do
that he had to reconstruct, with the utmost care, his movements since he
had left the cache to the moment when he and Harry had entered Bray
But the chase had confused him, naturally. He had doubled on his track
more than once, trying to throw his pursuers off. But by remembering
accurately the position of Bray Park in its relation to the cache, and
by concentrating as earnestly as he could to remember as much as
possible of the course of his flight, he arrived presently at a decision
of how he must proceed to retrieve the motorcycles and the papers.
As soon as he had done so he hurried on, feverishly, taking a course
that, while longer than necessary, was essential since he dared not go
near Bray Park. He realized thoroughly how much depended on his
promptness. It was essential that Colonel Throckmorton should learn of
the wireless station, which was undoubtedly powerful enough to send its
waves far out to sea, even if not to the German coast itself.
And there was Harry. The only chance of rescue for him lay in what Dick
might do. That thought urged him on even more than the necessity of
imparting what they had learned.
So, scouting as he went, least he encounter some prowling party from
Bray Park silently looking for him, he went on hastily. He was almost as
anxious to avoid the village as the spy headquarters, for he knew that
in such places strangers might be regarded with suspicion even in times
of peace. And, while the war fever had not seemed to be in evidence that
afternoon, he knew that it might have broken out virulently in the
interval. He had heard the stories of spy baiting in other parts of the
country; how, in some localities, scores of absolutely innocent tourists
had been arrested and searched. So he felt he must avoid his friends as
well as his enemies until he had means of proving his identity.
Delaying as he was by his roundabout course, it took him nearly an hour
to come to scenes that were familiar. But then he knew that he had found
himself, with the aid of the stars. Familiar places that he had marked
when they made the cache appeared, and soon he reached it. But it was
empty; motorcycles and papers—all were gone!
A FRIEND IN NEED
"As long as I can't be at home, I'd rather be here than anywhere in the
world I can think of!"
Was it little more than a week, thought Harry Fleming, since he had
uttered those words so lightly? Was it just a week since Grenfel, his
English scoutmaster, had bidden the boys of his troop goodbye? Was it
just two days since father and mother had been so suddenly recalled to
the States? Was it just that very morning that he and his good chum Dick
Mercer had been detailed on this mission which had led to the discovery
of the secret heliographs so busily sending messages to the enemy across
the North Sea? Was it just a few hours since the two Scouts, hot on the
trail, had cached papers and motorcycles and started the closer
exploration of that mysterious estate outside the sleepy English
village, leased, so the village gossip had it, by a rich American who
eccentrically denied himself to all comers and zealously guarded the
privacy of his grounds?
Was it just a few moments since he had urged, even commanded, Dick
Mercer to leave him, caught in a trap set for just such trespassers as
they? Had he urged his chum to leave him in his agony, for the ankle was
badly wrenched, and seek safety in flight? The terrible pain in his
ankle and the agonizing fear both for himself and his chum made moments
seem like hours and the happenings of these same moments appear as an
He could hear, plainly enough, the advance of the two searchers who had
scared Dick into hiding in the rhododendron bush, he could even see the
gleam of their flashlights, and was able, therefore, to guess what they
were doing. For the moment it seemed impossible to him that Dick should
escape. He was sure of capture himself in a few minutes, and, as a
matter of fact, there were things that made the prospect decidedly
bearable. The pain in his ankle from the trap in which he had been
caught was excruciating. It seemed to him that he must cry out, but he
kept silence resolutely. As long as there was a chance that he might not
fall into the hands of the spies who were searching the grounds, he
meant to cling to it.
But the chance was a very slim one, as he knew. He could imagine,
without difficulty, just about what the men with the flashlights would
do, by reasoning out his own course. They would look for footprints.
These would lead them to the spot where he and Dick had watched the
raising of the wireless mast, and thence along the path they had taken
to return to the wall and to safety. Thus they would come to him, and he
would be found, literally like a rat in a trap.
And then, quite suddenly, came the diversion created by Dick's daring
dash for escape, when he sped from the bush and climbed the wall,
followed by the bullets that the searchers fired after him. Harry
started, hurting his imprisoned ankle terribly by the wrench his sudden
movement gave. Then he listened eagerly for the cry he dreaded yet
expected to hear that would tell him that Dick had been hit. It did not
come. Instead, he heard more men running, and then in a moment all
within the wall was quiet, and he could hear the hue and cry dying away
as they chased him along the road outside.
"Well, by Jove!" he said to himself, enthusiastically, "I believe Dick's
fooled them. I didn't think he had it in him! That's bully for him! He
ought to get a medal for that!"
It was some moments before he realized fully that he had gained a
respite, temporally at least. Obviously the two men who had been
searching with flashlights had followed Dick, there was at least a good
chance that no one else knew about him. He had decided that there was
some system of signal wires that rang an alarm when a trap was sprung.
But it might be that these two men were the only ones who were supposed
to follow up such an alarm.
He carried a flashlight himself and now he took the chance of playing it
on his ankle, to see if there was any chance of escape. He hooded the
light with his hand and looked carefully. But what he saw was not
encouraging. The steel band looked most formidable. It was on the
handcuff principle and any attempt to work his foot loose would only
make the grip tighter and increase his suffering. His spirits fell at
that. Then the only thing his brief immunity would do for him would be
to keep him in pain a little longer. He would be caught anyhow, and he
guessed that, if Dick got away, he would find his captors in a savage
Even as he let the flashlight wink out, since it was dangerous to use it
more than was necessary, he heard a cautious movement within a few feet.
At first he thought it was an animal he had heard, so silent were its
movements. But in a moment a hand touched his own. He started slightly,
but kept quiet.
"Hush—I'm a friend," said a voice, almost at his elbow. "'I thought you
were somewhere around here but I couldn't find you until you flashed
your light. You're caught in a trap, aren't you?"
"Yes," said Harry. "Who are you?"
"That's what I want to know about you, first," said the other boy—for
it was another boy, as Harry learned from his voice. Never had a sound
been more welcome in his ears than that voice. "Tell me who you are and
what you two were doing around here. I saw you this afternoon and
tracked you. I tried to before, but I couldn't, on account of your
motorcycles. Then I just happened to see you, when you were on foot. Are
you Boy Scouts?"
"Yes," said Harry. "Are you?"
"Yes. That's why I followed—especially when I saw you coming in here.
We've got a patrol in the village, but most of the scouts are at work in
Rapidly, and in a whisper, Harry explained a little, enough to make this
new ally understand.
"You'd better get out, if you know how, and take word," said Harry. "I
think my chum got away, but it would be better to be sure. And they'll
be after me soon."
"If they give us two or three minutes we'll both get out," said the
newcomer, confidently. "I know this place with my eyes shut. I used to
play here before the old family moved away. I'm the vicar's son, in the
village, and I always had the run of the park until these new people
came. And I've been in here a few times since then, too."
"That's all right," said Harry. "But how am I going to get out of this
"Let me have your flashlight a moment," said the stranger.
Harry gave it to him, and the other scout bent over his ankle. Harry saw
that he had a long slender piece of wire. He guessed that he was going
to try to pick the lock. And in a minute or less Harry heard a welcome
click that told him his new found friend—a friend in need, indeed, he
was proving himself to be, had succeeded. His ankle was free.
He struggled to his feet, and there was a moment of exquisite pain as
the blood rushed through his ankle and circulation was restored to his
numbed foot. But he was able to stand, and, although limpingly, to walk.
He had been fortunate, as a matter of fact, in that no bone had been
crushed. That might well have happened with such a trap, or a ligament
or tendon might have been wrenched or torn, in which case he would have
found it just about impossible to move at all. As it was, however, he
was able to get along, though he suffered considerable pain every time
he put his foot to the ground.
It was no time, however, in which to think of discomforts so
comparatively trifling as that. When he was outside he would be able,
with the other scout's aid, to give his foot some attention, using the
first aid outfit that he always carried, as every scout should do. But
now the one thing to be done, to make good his escape.
Harry realized, as soon as he was free, that he was not by any means out
of the woods. He was still decidedly in the enemy's country, and getting
out of it promised to be a difficult and a perilous task. He was
handicapped by his lack of knowledge of the place and what little he did
know was discouraging. He had proof that human enemies were not the only
ones he had to fear. And the only way he knew that offered a chance of
getting out offered, as well, the prospect of encountering the men who
had pursued Dick Mercer, returning. It was just as he made up his mind
to this that the other scout spoke again.
"We can't get out the way you came in," he said. "Or, if we could, it's
too risky. But there's another way. I've been in here since these people
started putting their traps around, and I know where most of them are.
Harry was glad to obey. He had no hankering for command. The thing to do
was to get out as quickly as he could. And so he followed, though he had
qualms when he saw that, instead of going toward the wall, they were
heading straight in and toward the great grey house. They circled the
woods that gave them the essential protection of darkness, and always
they got further and further from the place where Dick and Harry had
entered. Harry understood, of course, that there were other ways of
getting out but it took a few words to make him realize the present
situation as it actually was.
"There's a spot on the other side they don't really guard at all," said
his companion. "It's where the river runs by the place. They think no
one would come that way. And I don't believe they know anything at all
about what I'm going to show you."
Soon Harry heard the water rustling. And then, to his surprise, his
guide led him straight into a tangle of shrubbery. It was hard going for
him, for his ankle pained him a good deal, but he managed it. And in a
moment the other boy spoke, and, for the first time, in a natural voice.
"I say, I'm glad we're here!" he said, heartily. "D'ye see?"
"It looks like a cave," said Harry.
"It is, but it's more than that, too. This place is no end old, you
know. It was here when they fought the Wars of the Roses, I've heard.
And come on—I'll show you something!"
He led the way on into the cave, which narrowed as they went. But Harry,
pointing his flashlight ahead, saw that it was not going to stop.
"Oh! A secret passage! I understand now!" he exclaimed, finally.
"Isn't it jolly?" said the other. "Can't you imagine what fun we used to
have here when we played about? You see, this may have been used to
bring in food in time of siege. There used to be another spur of this
tunnel that ran right into the house. But that was all let go to pot,
for some reason. This is all that is left. But it's enough. It runs way
down under the river—and in a jiffy we'll be out in the meadows on the
other side. I say, what's your name?"
They hadn't had time to exchange the information each naturally craved
about the other before. And now, as they realized it, they both laughed.
Harry told his name.
"Mine's Jack Young," said the other scout. "I say, you don't talk like
"I'm not," explained Harry. "I'm American. But I'm for England just
now—and we were caught here trying to find out something about that
They came out into the open then, where the light of the stars enabled
them to see one another. Jack nodded.
"I got an idea of what you were after—you two," he said. "The other
one's English, isn't he?"
"Dick Mercer? Yes!" said Harry, astonished. "But how did you find out
"Stalked you," said Jack, happily. "Oh, I'm no end of a scout! I
followed you as soon as I caught you without your bicycles."
"We must have been pretty stupid to let you do it, though," said Harry,
a little crestfallen. "I'm glad we did, but suppose you'd been an enemy!
A nice fix we'd have been in!"
"That's just what I thought about you," admitted Jack. "You see,
everyone has sort of laughed at me down here because I said there might
be German spies about. I've always been suspicious of the people who
took Bray Park. They didn't act the way English people do. They didn't
come to church, and when the pater—I told you he was the vicar here,
didn't I?—went to call, they wouldn't let him in! Just sent word they
were out. Fancy treating the vicar like that!" he concluded with spirit.
Harry knew enough of the customs of the English countryside to
understand that the new tenants of Bray Park could not have chosen a
surer method of bringing down both dislike and suspicion upon
"That was a bit too thick, you know," Jack went on. "So when the war
started, I decided I'd keep my eyes open, especially on any strangers
who came around. So there you have it. I say! You'd better let me try to
make that ankle easier. You're limping badly."
That was true, and Harry submitted gladly to such ministrations as Jack
knew how to offer. Cold water helped considerably, it reduced the
swelling. And then Jack skillfully improvised a brace, that, binding the
ankle tightly, gave it a fair measure of support.
"Now try that," he said. "See if it doesn't feel better!"
"It certainly does!" said Harry. "You're quite a doctor, aren't you?
Well now the next thing to do is to try to find where Dick is. I know
where he went—to the place where we cached our cycles and our papers."
Like Dick, he was hopelessly at sea, for the moment, as to his
whereabouts. And he had, more-over, to reckon with the turns and twists
of the tunnel, which there had been no way of following in the utter
darkness. But Jack Young, who, of course, could have found his way
anywhere within five miles of them blindfolded, helped him, and they
soon found that they were less than half a mile from the place.
"Can you come on with me, Jack?" asked Harry. He felt that in his
rescuer he had found a new friend, and one whom he was going to like
very well, indeed, and he wanted his company, if it was possible.
"Yes. No one knows I am out," said Jack, frankly. "The pater's like the
rest of them here—he doesn't take the war seriously yet. When I said
the other day that it might last long enough for me to be old enough to
go, he laughed at me. I really hope it won't, but I wouldn't be
surprised if id did, would you?"
"No, I wouldn't. It's too early to tell anything about it yet, really.
But if the Germans fight the way they always have before, it's going to
be a long war."
They talked as they went, and, though Harry's ankle was still painful,
the increased speed the bandaging made possible more than made up for
the time it had required. Harry was anxious about Dick, he wanted to
rejoin him as soon as possible. And so it was not long before they came
near to the place where the cycles had been cached.
"We'd better go slow. In case anyone else watched us this afternoon, we
don't want to walk into a trap," said Harry. He was more upset than he
had cared to admit by the discovery that he and Dick had been spied upon
by Jack, excellent though it had been that it was so. For what Jack had
done it was conceivable that someone else, too, might have accomplished.
"All right. You go ahead," said Jack. "I'll form a rear guard—d'ye see?
Then you can't be surprised."
"That's a good idea," said Harry. "There, see that big tree, that
blasted one over there? I marked that. The cache is in a straight line,
almost, from that, where the ground dips a little. There's a clump of
"There's someone there, too," said Jack. "He's tugging at a cycle, as if
he were trying to get ready to start it."
"That'll be Dick, then," said Harry, greatly relieved. "All right—I'll
He went on then, and soon he, too, saw Dick busy with the motorcycle.
"Won't he be glad to see me, though?" he thought. "Poor old Dick! I'll
bet he's had a hard time."
Then he called, softly. And Dick turned. But—it was not Dick. It was
AN UNEXPECTED BLOW!
For a moment it would have been hard to lay which of them was more
completely staggered and amazed.
"What are you doing here?" Harry gasped, finally.
And then, all at once, it came over him that it did not matter what
Ernest answered, that there could be no reasonable and good explanation
for what he had caught Graves doing.
"You sneak!" he cried. "What are you doing here—spying on us?"
He sprang forward, and Graves, with a snarling cry of anger, lunged to
meet him. Had he not been handicapped by his lame ankle, Harry might
have given a good account of himself in a hand-to-hand fight with
Graves, but, as it was, the older boy's superior weight gave him almost
his own way. Before Jack, who was running up, could reach them, Graves
threw Harry off. He stood looking down on him for just a second.
"That's what you get for interfering, young Fleming!" he said. "There's
something precious queer about you, my American friend. I fancy you'll
have to do some explaining about where you've been tonight." Harry was
struggling to his feet. Now he saw the papers in Graves' hand. "You
thief!" he cried. "Those papers belong to me! You've stolen them! Give
them here!" But Graves only laughed in his face.
"Come and get them!" he taunted. And, before either of the scouts could
realize what he meant to do he had started one of the motorcycles,
sprung to the saddle, and started. In a moment he was out of sight,
around a bend in the road. Only the put-put of the motor, rapidly dying
away, remained of him. But, even in that moment, the two he left behind
him were busy. Jack sprang to the other motorcycle, and tried to start
it, but in vain. Something was wrong; the motor refused to start.
"That's what he was doing when I saw him first," cried Harry, with a
flash of inspiration. "I thought it was Dick, trying to start his
motor—it was Graves trying to keep us from starting it! But he can't
have done very much—I don't believe he had the time. We ought to be
able to fix it pretty soon."
"It's two miles to the repair place!" said Jack, blankly.
"Not to this repair shop," said Harry, with a laugh. The need of prompt
and efficient action pulled him together. He forgot his wonder at
finding Graves, the pain of his ankle, everything but the instant need
of being busy. He had to get that cycle going and be off in pursuit,
that was all there was to it.
"Give me a steady light," he directed. "I think he's probably
disconnected the wires of the magneto—that's what I'd do if I wanted to
put a motor out of business in a hurry. And if that's all, there's no
great harm done."
"I don't see how you know all that!" wondered Jack. "I can ride one of
those things, but the best I can do is mend a puncture, if I should have
"Oh!" said Dick, "it's easy enough," working while he talked. "You see,
the motor itself can't be hurt unless you take an axe to it, and break
it all up. But to start you've got to have a spark—and you get that
from electricity. So there are these little wires that make the
connection. He didn't cut them, thank Heaven! He just disconnected them.
If he'd cut them I might really have been up a tree because that's the
sort of accident you wouldn't provide for in a repair kit."
"It isn't an accident at all," said Jack, literally.
"That's right," said Harry. "That's what I meant, too. Now let's see. I
think that's all. Good thing we came up when we did or he'd have cut the
tires to ribbons. And there are a lot of things I'd rather do than ride
one of these machines on its rims—to say nothing of how long the wheels
would last if one tried to go fast at all."
He tried the engine; it answered beautifully.
"Now is there a telephone in your father's house, Jack?"
"Sure there is. Why?" for Jack was plainly puzzled.
"So that I can call you up, of course! I'm going after Graves. Later
I'll tell you who he is. I'm in luck, really. He took Dick's
machine—and mine is a good ten miles an hour faster. I can race him and
beat him but, of course, he couldn't know which was the fastest. Dick's
is the best looking. I suppose that's why he picked it."
"But where is Dick?"
"That's what I'm coming to. They may have caught him but I hope not. I
don't think they did, either. I think he'll come along here pretty soon.
And, if he does, he'll have an awful surprise."
"I'll stay here and tell him—"
"You're a brick, Jack! It's just what I was going to ask you to do. I
can't leave word for him any other way, and I don't know what he'd think
if he came here and found the cycles and all gone. Then take him home
with you, will you? And I'll ring you up just as soon as I can.
And everything being settled as far as he could foresee it then, Harry
went scooting off into the night on his machine. As he rode, with the
wind whipping into his face and eyes, and the incessant roar of the
engine in his ears, he knew he was starting what was likely to prove a
wild-goose chase. Even if he caught Graves, he didn't know what he could
do, except that he meant to get back the papers.
More and more, as he rode on, the mystery of Graves' behavior puzzled
him, worried him. He knew that Graves had been sore and angry when he
had not been chosen for the special duty detail. But that did not seem a
sufficient reason for him to have acted as he had. He remembered, too,
the one glimpse of Graves they had caught before, in a place where he
did not seem to belong.
And then, making the mystery still deeper, and defying explanation, as
it seemed to him, was the question of how Graves had known, first of
all, where they were, and of how he had reached the place.
He had no motorcycle of his own or he would not have ridden away on
Dick's machine. He could not have come by train. Harry's head swam with
the problem that presented itself. And then, to make it worse, there was
that remark Graves had made. He had said Harry would find it hard to
explain where he had been. How did he know where they had been? Why
should he think it would be hard for them to explain their actions?
"There isn't any answer," he said to himself.
"And, if there was, I'm a juggins to be trying to find it now. I'd
better keep my mind on this old machine, or it will ditch me! I know
what I've got to do, anyhow, even if I don't know why."
Mile after mile he rode, getting the very best speed he could out of the
machine. Somewhere ahead of him, he was sure, riding back toward London,
was Graves. In this wild pursuit he was taking chances, of course.
Graves might have turned off the road almost anywhere. But if he had
done that, there was nothing to be done about it, that much was certain.
He could only keep on with the pursuit, hoping that his quarry was
following the straight road toward London. And, to be sure, there was
every reason for him to hope just that. By this time it was very late.
No one was abroad, the countryside was asleep. Once or twice he did find
someone in the streets of a village as he swept through, then he
stopped, and asked it a man on another motorcycle had passed ahead of
him. Two or three times the yokel he questioned didn't know, twice,
however, he did get a definite assurance that Graves was ahead of him.
Somehow he never thought of the outrageously illegal speed he was
making. He knew the importance of his errand, and that, moreover, he was
a menace to nothing but the sleep of those he disturbed. No one was
abroad to get in his way, and he forgot utterly that there might be need
for caution, until, as he went through a fair sized town, he suddenly
saw three policemen, two of whom were also mounted on motorcycles,
waiting for him.
They waved their arms, crying out to him to stop, and, seeing that he
was trapped, he did stop.
"Let me by," he cried, angrily. "I'm on government service!"
"Another of them?" One of the policemen looked doubtfully at the rest.
"Too many of you telling that tale tonight. And the last one said there
was a scorcher behind him. Have you got any papers? He had them!"
Harry groaned! So Graves had managed to strike at him, even when he was
miles away. Evidently he, too, had been held up, evidently, also, he had
used Harry's credentials to get out of the scrape speeding had put him
"No, I haven't any credentials," he said, angrily. "But you can see my
uniform, can't you? I'm a Boy Scout, and we're all under government
orders now, like soldiers or sailors."
"That's too thin, my lad," said the policeman who seemed to be
recognized as the leader. "Everyone, we've caught for speeding too fast
since the war began has blamed it on the war. We'll have to take you
along, my boy. They telephoned to us from places you passed—they said
you were going so fast it was dangerous. And we saw you ourselves."
In vain Harry pleaded. Now that he knew that Graves had used his
credentials from Colonel Throckmorton, he decided that it would be
foolish to claim his own identity. Graves had assumed that, and he had
had the practically conclusive advantage of striking the first blow. So
Harry decided to submit to the inevitable with the best grace he could
"All right," he said. "I'll go along with you, officer. But you'll be
sorry before it's over!"
"Maybe, sir," said the policeman. "But orders is orders, sir, and I've
got to obey them. Not that I likes running a young gentleman like
yourself in. But—"
"Oh, I know you're only doing your duty, as you see it, officer," he
said. "Can't be helped—but I'm sorry. It's likely to cause a lot of
So he surrendered. But, even while he was doing so, he was planning to
escape from custody.
A GOOD WITNESS
Dick's surprise and concern when he found the cache empty and deserted,
with papers and motorcycles alike gone, may be imagined. For a moment he
thought he must be mistaken, that, after all, he had come to the wrong
place. But a quick search of the ground with his flashlight showed him
that he had come to the right spot. He could see the tracks made by the
wheels of the machine; he could see, also, evidences of the brief
struggle between Harry and Graves. For a moment his mystification
continued. But then, with a low laugh, Jack Young emerged from the cover
in which he had been hiding.
"Hello, there!" he said. "I say, are you Dick Mercer?"
"Yes!" gasped Dick. "But however do you know? I never saw you before!"
"Well, you see me now," said Jack. "Harry Fleming told me to look for
you here. He said you'd be along some time tonight, if you got away. And
he was sure you could get away, too."
"Harry!" said Dick, dazed. "You've seen him? Where is he? Did he get
away? And what happened to the cycles and the papers we hid there?
"Hold on! One question at a time," said Jack. "Keep your shirt on, and
I'll tell you all I know about it. Then we can decide what is to be done
next. I think I'll attach myself temporarily to your patrol."
"Oh, you're a scout, too, are you?" asked Dick.
That seemed to explain a good deal. He was used to having scouts turn up
to help him out of trouble. And so he listened as patiently as he could,
while Jack explained what had happened. "And that's all I know," said
Jack, finally, when he had carried the tale to the point where Harry
rode off on the repaired motorcycle in pursuit of Ernest Graves. "I
should think you might really know more about it now than I do."
"Why, how could I? You saw it all!"
"Yes, that's true enough. But you know Harry and I were too busy to talk
much after we found that motor was out of order. All I know is that when
we got here we found someone I'd never seen before and never want to see
again messing about with the cycles. We thought it must be you, of
course—at least Harry did, and of course I supposed he ought to know."
"And then you found it was Ernest Graves?"
"Harry did. He took one look at him and then they started right in
fighting. Harry seemed to be sure that was the thing to do. If I'd been
in his place I'd have tried to arbitrate I think. This chap Graves was a
lot bigger than he. He was carrying weight for age. You see, I don't
know yet who Graves is, or why Harry wanted to start fighting him that
way. I've been waiting patiently for you to come along, so that you
could tell me."
"He's a sneak!" declared Dick, vehemently. "I suppose you know that
Harry's an American, don't you?"
"Yes, but that's nothing against him."
"Of course it isn't! But this Graves is the biggest and oldest chap in
our troop—he isn't in our patrol. And he thought that if any of us were
going to be chosen for special service, he ought to have the first
chance. So when they picked Harry and me, he began talking about Harry's
being an American. He tried to act as if he thought it wasn't safe for
anyone who wasn't English to be picked out!"
"It looks as if he had acted on that idea, too, doesn't it, then? It
seems to me that he has followed you down here, just to get a chance to
play some trick on you. He got those papers, you see. And I fancy you'll
be blamed for losing them."
"How did he know we were here?" said Dick, suddenly. "That's what I'd
like to know!"
"Yes, it would be a good thing to find that out," said Jack,
thoughtfully. "Well, it will be hard to do. But we might find out how he
got here. I know this village and the country all around here pretty
well. And Gaffer Hodge will know, if anyone does. He's the most curious
man in the world. Come on—we'll see what he has to say."
"Who is he?" asked Dick, as they began to walk briskly toward the
"You went through the village this afternoon, didn't you? Didn't you see
a very old man with white hair and a stick beside him, sitting in a
doorway next to the little shop by the Red Dog?"
"That's Gaffer Hodge. He's the oldest man in these parts. He can
remember the Crimean War and—oh, everything! He must be over a hundred
years old. And he watches everyone who comes in. If a stranger is in the
village he's never happy until he knows all about him. He was awfully
worried today about you and Harry, I heard," explained Jack.
Dick laughed heartily.
"Well, I do hope he can tell us something about Graves. The sneak! I
certainly hope Harry catches up to him. Do you think he can?"
"Well, he might, if he was lucky. He said the cycle he was riding was
faster than the other. But of course it would be very hard to tell just
which to way to go. If Graves knew there was a chance that he might be
followed he ought to be able to give anyone who was even a mile behind
"Of course it's at night and that makes it harder for Harry."
"Yes, I suppose it does. In the daytime Harry could find people to tell
him which way Graves was going, couldn't he?"
"Yes. That's just what I meant."
"Oh, I say, won't Gaffer Hodge be in bed and asleep?"
"I don't think so. He doesn't seem to like to go to bed. He sits up very
late, and talks to the men when they start to go home from the Red Dog.
He likes to talk, you see. We'll soon know—that's one thing. We'll be
there now in no time."
Sure enough, the old man was still up when they arrived. He was just
saying goodnight, in a high, piping voice, to a little group of men who
had evidently been having a nightcap in the inn next to his house. When
he saw Jack he smiled. They were very good friends, and the old man had
found the boy one of his best listeners. The Gaffer liked to live in the
past, he was always delighted when anyone would let him tell his tales
of the things he remembered.
"Good-evening, Gaffer," said Jack, respectfully. "This is my friend,
Dick Mercer. He's a Boy Scout from London."
"Knew it! Knew it!" said Gaffer Hodge, with a senile chuckle. "I said
they was from Lunnon this afternoon when I seen them fust! Glad to meet
you, young master."
Then Jack described Graves as well as he could from his brief sight of
him, and Dick helped by what he remembered.
"Did you see him come into town this afternoon, Gaffer?" asked Jack.
"Let me think," said the old man. "Yes—I seen 'un. Came sneaking in, he
did, this afternoon as ever was! Been up to the big house at Bray Park,
he had. Came in an automobile, he did. Then he went back there. But he
was in the post office when you and t'other young lad from Lunnon went
by, maister," nodding his head as if well pleased. This was to Dick, and
he and Jack stared at one another. Certainly their visit to Gaffer Hodge
had paid them well.
"Are you sure of that, Gaffer?" asked Jack, quietly. "Sure that it was
an automobile from Bray Park?"
"Sure as ever was!" said the old man, indignantly. Like all old people,
he hated anyone to question him, resenting the idea that anyone could
think he was mistaken. "Didn't I see the machine myself—a big grey one,
with black stripes as ever was, like all their automobiles?"
"That's true—that's the way their cars are painted, and they have five
or six of them," said Jack.
"Yes. And he come in the car from Lunnon before he went there—and then
he come out here. He saw you and t'other young lad from Lunnon go by,
maister, on your bicycles. He was watching you from the shop as ever
"Thank you, Gaffer," said Jack, gravely. "You've told us just what we
wanted to know. I'll bring you some tobacco in the morning, if you like.
My father's just got a new lot down from London."
"Thanks, thank'ee kindly," said the Gaffer, overjoyed at the prospect.
Then they said good-night to the old man, who, plainly delighted at the
thought that he had been of some service to them, and at this proof of
his sharpness, of which he was always boasting, rose and hobbled into
"He's really a wonderful old man," said Dick.
"He certainly is," agreed Jack. "His memory seems to be as good as ever,
and he's awfully active, too. He's got rheumatism, but he can see and
hear as well as he ever could, my father says."
They walked on, each turning over in his mind what they had heard about
"That's how he knew we were here," said Dick finally. "I've been
puzzling about that. I remember now seeing that car as we went by. But
of course I didn't pay any particular attention to it, except that I saw
a little American flag on it."
"Yes, they're supposed to be Americans, you know," said Jack. "And I
suppose they carry the flag so that the car won't be taken for the army.
The government has requisitioned almost all the cars in the country, you
"I'm almost afraid to think about this," said Dick, after a moment of
silence. "Graves must know those people in that house, if he's riding
about in their car. And they—"
He paused, and they looked at one another.
"I don't know what to do!" said Dick. "I wish there was some way to tell
Harry about what we've found out," Jack started.
"I nearly forgot!" he said. "We'd better cut for my place. I told Harry
we'd be there if he needed a telephone, you know. Come on!"
THE FIRST BLOW
To Harry, as he was taken off to the police station, it seemed the
hardest sort of hard luck that his chase of Graves should be interrupted
at such a critical time and just because he had been over-speeding. But
he realized that he was helpless, and that he would only waste his
breath if he tried to explain matters until he was brought before
someone who was really in authority. Then, if he had any luck, he might
be able to clear things up. But the men who arrested him were only doing
their duty as they saw it, and they had no discretionary power at all.
When he reached the station he was disappointed to find that no one was
on duty except a sleepy inspector, who was even less inclined to listen
to reason than the constables. "Everyone who breaks the law has a good
excuse, my lad," he said. "If we listened to all of them we might as
well close up this place. You can tell your story to the magistrate in
the morning. You'll be well treated tonight, and you're better off with
us than running around the country—a lad of your age! If I were your
father, I should see to it that you were in bed and asleep before this."
There was no arguing with such a man, especially when he was sleepy. So
Harry submitted, very quietly, to being put into a cell. He was not
treated like a common prisoner, that much he was grateful for. His cell
was really a room, with windows that were not even barred. And he saw
that he could be very comfortable indeed.
"You'll be all right here," said one of the constables. "Don't worry, my
lad. You'll be let off with a caution in the morning. Get to sleep
now—it's late, and you'll be roused bright and early in the morning."
Harry smiled pleasantly, and thanked the man for his good advice. But he
had no intention whatever of taking it. He did not even take off his
clothes, though he did seize the welcome chance to us the washstand that
was in the room. He had been through a good deal since his last chance
to wash and clean up, and he was grimmy and dirty. He discovered, too,
that he was ravenously hungry. Until that moment, he had been too
active, too busy with brain and body, to notice his hunger.
However, there was nothing to be done for that now. He and Dick had not
stopped for meals that day since breakfast, and they had eaten their
emergency rations in the early afternoon. In the tool case on his
impounded motorcycle, Harry knew there were condensed food tables—each
the equivalent of certain things like eggs, and steaks and chops. And
there were cakes of chocolate, too, the most nourishing of foods that
were small in bulk. But the knowledge did him little good now. He didn't
even know where the motorcycle had been stored for the night. It had
been confiscated, of course; in the morning it would be returned to him.
But he didn't allow his thoughts to dwell long on the matter of food. It
was vastly more important that he should get away. He had to get his
news to Colonel Throckmorton. Perhaps Dick had done that. But he
couldn't trust that chance. Aside from that, he wanted to know what had
become of Dick. And, for the life of him, he didn't see how he was to
"If they weren't awfully sure of me, they'd have locked me up a lot more
carefully than this," he reflected. "And of course it would be hard. I
could get out of here easily enough."
He had seen a drain pipe down which, he felt sure, he could climb.
"But suppose I did," he went on, talking to himself. "I've got an idea
it would land me where I could be seen from the door—and I suppose
that's open all night. And, then if I got away from here, every
policeman in this town would know me. They'd pick me up if I tried to
get out, even if I walked."
He looked out of the window. Not so far away he could see a faint glare
in the sky. That was London. He was already in the suburban chain that
ringed the great city. This place—he did not know its name,
certainly—was quite a town in itself. And he was so close to London
that there was no real open country. One town or borough ran right into
the next. The houses would grow fewer, thinning out, but before the gap
became real, the outskirts of the next borough would be reached.
Straight in front of him, looking over the house tops, he could see the
gleam of water. It was a reservoir, he decided. Probably it constituted
the water supply for a considerable section. And then, as he looked, he
saw a flash—saw a great column of water rise in the air, and descend,
like pictures of a cloudburst. A moment after the explosion, he heard a
dull roar. And after the roar another sound. He saw the water fade out
and disappear, and it was a moment before he realized what was
happening. The reservoir had been blown up! And that meant more than the
danger and the discomfort of an interrupted water supply. It meant an
immediate catastrophe—the flooding of all the streets nearby. In
England, as he knew, such reservoirs were higher than the surrounding
country, as a rule. They were contained within high walls, and, after a
rainy summer, such as this had been, would be full to overflowing. He
was hammering at his door in a moment, and a sleepy policeman, aroused
by the sudden alarm, flung it open as he passed on his way to the floor
Harry rushed down, and mingled, unnoticed, with the policemen who had
been off duty, but summoned now to deal with this disaster. The
inspector who had received him paid no attention to him at all.
"Out with you, men!" he cried. "There'll be trouble over this—no
telling but what people may be drowned. Double quick, now!"
They rushed out, under command of a sergeant. The inspector stayed
behind, and now he looked at Harry.
"Hullo!" he said. "How did you get out?"
"I want to help!" said Harry, inspired. "I haven't done anything really
wrong, have I? Oughtn't I be allowed to do whatever I can, now that
something like this has happened?"
"Go along with you!" said the inspector. "All right! But you'd better
come back—because we've got your motorcycle, and we'll keep that until
you come back for it."
But it made little difference to Harry that he was, so to speak, out on
bail. The great thing was that he was free. He rushed out, but he didn't
make for the scene of the disaster to the reservoir, caused, as he had
guessed, by some spy. All the town was pouring out now, and the streets
were full of people making for the place where the explosion had
occurred. It was quite easy for Harry to slip through them and make for
London. He did not try to get his cycle. But before he had gone very far
he over took a motor lorry that had broken down. He pitched in and
helped with the slight repairs it needed, and the driver invited him to
ride along with him.
"Taking in provisions for the troops, I am," he said. "If you're going
to Lunnon, you might as well ride along with me. Eh, Tommy?"
His question was addressed to a sleepy private, who was nodding on the
seat beside the driver. He started now, and looked at Harry.
"All aboard!" he said, with a sleepy chuckle. "More the merrier, say I!
Up all night—that's what I've been! Fine sort of war this is? Do I see
any fightin'? I do not! I'm a bloomin' chaperone for cabbages and
cauliflowers and turnips, bless their little hearts!"
Harry laughed. It was impossible not to do that.
But he knew that if the soldier wanted fighting, fighting he would get
before long. Harry could guess that regular troops—and this man was a
regular—would not be kept in England as soon as the territorials and
volunteers in sufficient number had joined the colors. But meanwhile
guards were necessary at home.
He told them, in exchange for the ride, of the explosion and the flood
that had probably followed it.
"Bli'me!" said the soldier, surprised. "Think of that, now! What will
they be up to next—those Germans? That's what I'd like to mow! Coming
over here to England and doing things like that! I'd have the law on
'em—that's what I'd do!"
Harry laughed. So blind to the real side of war were men who, at any
moment, might find themselves face to face with the enemy!
THE SILENT WIRE
Probably Jack Young and Dick reached the vicarage just about the time
that saw Harry getting into trouble with the police for speeding. The
vicar was still up, he had a great habit of reading late. And he seemed
considerably surprised to find that Jack was not upstairs in bed. At
first he was inclined even to be angry, but he changed his mind when he
saw Dick, and heard something of what had happened.
"Get your friend something to eat and I'll have them make a hot bath
ready," said the vicar. "He looks as if he needed both!"
This was strictly true. Dick was as hungry and as grimy as Harry
himself. If anything, he was in even worse shape, for his flight through
the fields and the brook had enabled him to attach a good deal of the
soil of England to himself. So the thick sandwiches and the bowl of milk
that were speedily set before him were severely punished. And while he
ate both he and Jack poured out their story. Mr. Young frowned as he
listened. Although he was a clergyman and a lover of peace, he was none
the less a patriot.
"Upon my word!" he said. "Wireless, you think, my boy?"
"I'm sure of it, sir," said Dick.
"And so'm I," chimed in Jack. "You know, sir, I've thought ever since
war seemed certain that Bray Park would bear a lot of watching and that
something ought to be done. Just because this is a little bit of a
village, without even a railroad station, people think nothing could
happen here. But if German spies wanted a headquarters, it's just the
sort of place they would pick out."
"There's something in that," agreed the vicar, thoughtfully. But in his
own mind he was still very doubtful. The whole thing seemed incredible
to him. Yet, as a matter of fact, it was no more incredible than the war
itself. What inclined him to be dubious, as much as anything else, was
the fact that it was mere boys who had made the discovery.
He had read of outbreaks of spy fever in various parts of England, in
which the most harmless and inoffensive people were arrested and held
until they could give some good account of themselves. This made him
hesitate, while precious time was being wasted.
"I hardly know what to do—what to suggest," he went on, musingly. "The
situation is complicated, really. Supposing you are right, and that
German spies really own Bray Park, and are using it as a central station
for sending news that they glean out of England, what could be done
"The place ought to be searched at once every-one there ought to be
arrested!" declared Jack, impulsively. His father smiled.
"Yes, but who's going to do it?" he said. "We've just one constable here
in Bray. And if there are Germans there in any number, what could he do?
I suppose we might send word to Harobridge and get some police or some
territorials over. Yes, that's the best thing to do."
But now Dick spoke up in great eagerness. "I don't know, sir," he
suggested. "If the soldiers came, the men in the house there would find
out they were coming, I'm afraid. Perhaps they'd get away, or else
manage to hide everything that would prove the truth about them. I think
it would be better to report direct to Colonel Throckmorton. He knows
what we found out near London, sir, you see, and he'd be more ready to
"Yes, probably you're right. Ring him up, then. It's late, but he won't
What a different story there would have been to tell had someone had
that thought only half an hour earlier! But it is often so. The most
trivial miscalculation, the most insignificant mistake, seemingly, may
prove to be of the most vital importance. Dick went to the telephone. It
was one of the old-fashioned sort, still in almost universal use in the
rural parts of England, that require the use of a bell to call the
central office. Dick turned the crank, then took down the receiver. At
once he herd a confused buzzing sound that alarmed him.
"I'm afraid the line is out of order, sir," he said. And after fifteen
minutes it was plain that he was right. The wire had either been cut or
it had fallen or been short circuited in some other way. Dick and Jack
looked at one another blankly. The same thought had come to each of
them, and at the same moment.
"They've cut the wires!" said Dick. "Now what shall we do? We can't hear
from Harry, either!"
"We might have guessed they'd do that!" said Jack. "They must have had
some one out to watch us, Dick—perhaps they thought they'd have a
chance to catch us. They know that we've found out something, you see!
It's a good thing we stayed where we could make people hear us if we got
into any trouble."
"Oh, nonsense!" said the vicar, suddenly. "You boys are letting your
imaginations run away with you. Things like that don't happen in
England. The wire is just out of order. It happens often enough, Jack,
as you know very well!"
"Yes, sir," said Jack, doggedly. "But that's in winter, or after a heavy
storm—not in fine weather like this. I never knew the wire to be out of
order before when it was the way it is now."
"Well, there's nothing to be done, in any case," said the vicar. "Be off
to bed, and wait until morning. There's nothing you can do now."
Dick looked as if he were about to make some protest, but a glance at
Jack restrained him. Instead he got up, said good-night and followed
Jack upstairs. There he took his bath, except that he substituted cold
water for the hot, for he could guess what Jack meant to do. They were
going out again, that was certain. And, while it is easy to take cold,
especially when one is tired, after a hot bath, there is no such danger
if the water is cold.
"Do you know where the telephone wire runs?" he asked Jack.
"Yes, I do," said Jack. "I watched the men when they ran the wire in.
There are only three telephones in the village, except for the one at
Bray Park, and that's a special, private wire. We have one here, Doctor
Brunt has one, and there's another in the garage. They're all on one
party line, too. We won't have any trouble in finding out if the wire
was cut, I fancy."
Their chief difficulty lay in getting out of the house. True, Jack had
not been positively ordered not to go out again, but he knew that if his
father saw him, he would be ordered to stay in. And he had not the
slightest intention of missing any part of the finest adventure he had
ever had a chance to enjoy—not he! He was a typical English boy, full
of the love of adventure and excitement for their own sake, even if he
was the son of a clergyman. And now he showed Dick what they would have
"I used to slip out this way, sometimes," he said. "That was before I
was a scout. I—well, since I joined, I haven't done it. It didn't seem
right. But this is different. Don't you think so, Dick?"
"I certainly do," said Dick. "Your pater doesn't understand, Jack. He
thinks we've just found a mare's nest, I fancy."
Jack's route of escape was not a difficult one. It led to the roof of
the scullery, at the back of the house, and then, by a short and easy
drop of a few feet, to the back garden. Once they were in that, they had
no trouble. They could not be heard or seen from the front of the house,
and it was a simple matter of climbing fences until it was safe to
circle back and strike the road in front again. Jack led the way until
they came to the garage, which was at the end of the village, in the
direction of London.
Their course also took them nearer to Bray Park, but at the time they
did not think of this.
"There's where the wire starts from the garage, d'ye see!" said Jack,
pointing. "You see how easily we can follow it—it runs along those
poles, right beside the road."
"It seems to be all right here," said Dick.
"Oh, yes. They wouldn't have cut it so near the village," said Jack.
"We'll have to follow it along for a bit, I fancy a mile or so, perhaps.
Better not talk much, either. And, I say, hadn't we better stay in the
shadow? They must have been watching us before—better not give them
another chance, if we can help it," was Jack's very wise suggestion.
They had traveled nearly a mile when Dick suddenly noticed that the
telephone wire sagged between two posts, "I think it has been. Cut—and
that we're near the place, too," he said then, "Look, Jack! There's
probably a break not far from here."
"Right, oh!" said Jack. "Now we must be careful. I've just thought,
Dick, that they might have left someone to watch at the place where they
cut the wire."
"Well, they might have thought we, or someone else, might come along to
find out about it, just as we're doing. I'm beginning to think those
beggars are mightily clever, and that if they think of doing anything,
they're likely to think that we'll think of it. They've outwitted us at
every point so far."
So now, instead of staying under the hedge, but still in the road, they
crept through a gap in the hedge, tearing their clothes as they did so,
since it was a blackberry row, and went along still in sight of the
poles and the wire, but protected by the hedge so that no one in the
road could see them.
"There!" said Jack, at last. "See? You were right, Dick. There's the
place—and the wire was cut, too! It wasn't an accident. But I was sure
of that as soon as I found the line wasn't working."
Sure enough, the wires were dangling. And there was something else. Just
as they stopped they heard the voices of two men.
"There's the break, Bill," said the first voice. "Bli'me, if she ain't
cut, too! Now who did that? Bringing us out of our beds at this hour to
look for trouble!"
"I'd like to lay my hands on them, that's all!" said the second voice.
"A good job they didn't carry the wire away—'twon't take us long to
repair, and that's one precious good thing!"
"Linemen," said Jack. "But I wonder why they're here? They must have
come a long way. I shouldn't be surprised if they'd ridden on bicycles.
And I never heard of their sending to repair a wire at night before."
"Listen," said Dick. "Perhaps we will find out."
"Well, now that we've found it, we might as well repair it," said the
first lineman, grumblingly. "All comes of someone trying to get a
message through to Bray and making the manager believe it was a life and
"Harry must have tried to telephone—that's why they've come," said
Jack. "I was wondering how they found out about the break. You see, as a
rule, no one would try to ring up anyone in Bray after seven o'clock or
so. And of course, they couldn't tell we were trying to ring, with the
wire cut like that."
"Oh, Jack!" said Dick, suddenly. 'If they're linemen, I believe they
have an instrument with them. Probably we could call to London from
here. Do you think they will let us do that?"
"That's a good idea. We'll try it, anyway," said Jack. "Come on. It must
be safe enough now. These chaps won't hurt us."
But Jack was premature in thinking that. For no sooner did the two
linemen see them than they rushed for them, much to both lads' surprise.
"You're the ones who cut that wire," said the first, a dark, young
fellow. "I've a mind to give you a good hiding!"
But they both rushed into explanations, and luckily, the other lineman
"It's the vicar's son from Bray, Tom," he said. "Let him alone."
And then, while their attention was distracted, a bullet sang over their
heads. And "Hands oop!" said in a guttural voice.
A TREACHEROUS DEED
Harry Fleming had, of course, given up all hope of catching Graves by a
direct pursuit by the time he accepted the offer of a ride in the motor
truck that was carrying vegetables for the troops in quarters in London.
His only hope now was to get his information to Colonel Throckmorton as
soon as possible. At the first considerable town they reached, where he
found a telegraph office open, he wired to the colonel, using the code
which he had memorized. The price of a couple of glasses of beer had
induced the driver and the soldier to consent to a slight delay of the
truck, and he tried also to ring up Jack Young's house and find out what
had happened to Dick.
When he found that the line was out of order he leaped at once to the
same conclusion that Jack and Dick had reached—that it had been cut on
purpose. He could not stay to see if it would be repaired soon.
A stroke of luck came his way, however. In this place Boy Scouts were
guarding the gas works and an electric light and power plant, and he
found one squad just coming off duty. He explained something of his
errand to the patrol leader, and got the assurance that the telephone
people should be made to repair the break in the wire.
"We'll see to it that they find out what is the trouble, Fleming," said
the patrol leader, whose name was Burridge. "By the way, I know a scout
in your troop—Graves. He was on a scout with us a few weeks ago, when
he was visiting down here. Seemed to be no end of a good fellow."
Harry was surprised for he had heard nothing of this before. But then
that was not strange. He and Graves were not on terms of intimacy, by
any means. He decided quickly not to say anything against Graves. It
could do no good and it might do harm.
"Right," he said. "I know him—yes. I'll be going, then. You'll give my
message to Mercer or Young if there's any way of getting the line
"Yes, if I sit up until my next turn of duty," said Burridge, with a
smile. "Good luck, Fleming."
Then Harry was off again. Dawn was very near now. The east, behind him,
was already lighted up with streaks of glowing crimson. Dark clouds were
massed there, and there was a feeling in the air that carried a
foreboding of rain, strengthening the threat of the red sky. Harry was
not sorry for that. There would be work at Bray Park that might well
fare better were it done under leaden skies.
As he rode he puzzled long and hard over what he had learned. It seemed
to him that these German spies were taking desperate chances for what
promised to be, at best, a small reward. What information concerning the
British plans could they get that would be worth all they were risking?
The wireless at Bray Park, the central station near Willesden, whence
the reports were heliographed—it was an amazingly complete chain. And
Harry knew enough of modern warfare to feel that the information could
be important only to an enemy within striking distance.
That was the point. It might be interesting to the German staff to know
the locations of British troops in England, and, more especially, their
destinations if they were going abroad as part of an expeditionary force
to France or Belgium. But the information would not be vital, it didn't
seem to Harry that it was worth all the risk implied. But if, on the
other hand, there was some plan for a German invasion of England, then
he would have no difficulty in understanding it. Then knowledge of where
to strike, of what points were guarded and what were not, would be
"But what a juggins I am!" he said. "They can't invade England, even if
they could spare the troops. Not while the British fleet controls the
sea. They'd have to fly over."
And with that half laughing expression he got the clue he was looking
for. Fly over! Why not? Flight was no longer a theory, a possibility of
the future. It war, something definite, that had arrived. Even as he
thought of the possibility he looked up and saw, not more than a mile
away, two monoplanes of a well-known English army type flying low.
"I never thought of that!" he said to himself.
And now that the idea had come to him, he began to work out all sorts of
possibilities. He thought of a hundred different things that might
happen. He could see, all at once, the usefulness Bray Park might have.
Why, the place was like a volcano! It might erupt at any minute,
spreading ruin and destruction in all directions. It was a hostile
fortress, set down in the midst of a country that, even though it was at
war, could not believe that war might come borne to it.
He visualized, as the truck kept in its plodding way, the manner in
which warfare might be directed from a center like Bray Park. Thence
aeroplanes, skillfully fashioned to represent the British planes, and so
escape quick detection, might set forth. They could carry a man or two,
elude guards who thought the air lanes safe, and drop bombs here, there
everywhere and anywhere. Perhaps some such aerial raid was responsible
for the explosion that had freed him only a very few hours before.
Warfare in England, carried on thus by a few men, would be none the less
deadly because it would not involve fighting. There would be no pitched
battles, that much he knew. Instead, there would be swift, stabbing
raids. Water works, gas works, would be blown up. Attempts would be made
to drop bombs in barracks, perhaps. Certainly every effort would be made
to destroy the great warehouses in which food was stored. It was new,
this sort of warfare, it defied the imagination. And yet it was the
warfare that, once he thought of it, it seemed certain that the Germans
He gritted his teeth at the thought of it. Perhaps all was fair in love
and war, as the old proverb said. But this seemed like sneaky, unfair
fighting to him. There was nothing about it of the glory of warfare. He
was learning for himself that modern warfare is an ugly thing. He was to
learn, later, that it still held its possibilities of glory, and of
heroism. Indeed, for that matter, he was willing to grant the heroism of
the men who dared these things that seemed to him so horrible. They took
their lives in their hands, knowing that if they were caught they would
be hung as spies.
The truck was well into London now, and the dawn was full. A faint
drizzle was beginning to fall and the streets were covered with a fine
film of mud. People were about, and London was arousing itself to meet
the new day. Harry knew that he was near his journey's end. Tired as he
was, he was determined to make his report before he thought of sleep.
And then, suddenly, around a bend, came a sight that brought Harry to
his feet, scarcely able to believe his eyes. It was Graves, on a
bicycle. At the sight of Harry on the truck he stopped. Then he turned.
"Here he is!" he cried. "That's the one!"
A squad of men on cycles, headed by a young officer, came after Graves.
"Stop!" called the officer to the driver.
Harry stared down, wondering.
"You there—you Boy Scout come down!" said the officer.
Harry obeyed, wondering still more. He saw the gleam of malignant
triumph on the face of Graves. But not even the presence of the officer
"Where are those papers you stole from me, you sneak?" he cried.
"You keep away from me!" said Graves. "You Yankee!"
"Here, no quarreling!" said the officer. "Take him, men!"
Two of the soldiers closed in on Harry. He stared at them and then at
the officer, stupefied.
"What—what's this?" he stammered.
"You're under arrest, my lad, on a charge of espionage!" said the
officer. "Espionage, and conspiracy to give aid and comfort to the
public enemy. Anything you say may be used against you."
For a moment such a rush of words came to Harry, that he was silent by
the sheer inability to decide which to utter first. But then he got
control of himself.
"Who makes this charge against me!" he asked, thickly, his face flushing
scarlet in anger.
"You'll find that out in due time, my lad. Forward march!"
"But I've got important information! I must be allowed to see Colonel
Throckmorton at once! Oh, you've got no idea how important it may be!"
"My orders are to place you under arrest. You can make application to
see anyone later. But now I have no discretion. Come! If you really want
to see Colonel Throckmorton, you had better move on."
Harry knew as well as anyone the uselessness of appealing from such an
order, but he was frantic. Realizing the importance of the news he
carried, and beginning to glimpse vaguely the meaning of Graves and his
activity, he was almost beside himself.
"Make Graves there give back the papers he took from me!" he cried.
"I did take some papers, lieutenant," said Graves, with engaging
frankness. "But they were required to prove what I had suspected almost
from the first—that he was a spy. He was leading an English scout from
his own patrol into trouble, too. I suppose he thought he was more
likely to escape suspicion if he was with an Englishman."
"It's not my affair," said the lieutenant, shrugging his shoulders. He
turned to Harry. "Come along, my lad. I hope you can clear yourself. But
I've only one thing to do—and that is to obey my orders."
Harry gave up, then, for the moment. He turned and began walking along,
a soldier on each side. But as he did so Graves turned to the
"I'll go and get my breakfast, then, sir," he said. "I'll come on to
Ealing later. Though, of course, they know all I can tell them already."
"All right," said the officer, indifferently.
"You're never going to let him go!" exclaimed Harry, aghast. "Don't you
know he'll never come back?"
"All the better for you, if he doesn't," said the officer. "That's
enough of your lip, my lad. Keep a quiet tongue in your head. Remember
you're a prisoner, and don't try giving orders to me."
The bullet that sang over their heads effectually broke up the
threatened trouble between Dick Mercer and Jack Young on one side, and
the telephone linemen on the other. With one accord they obeyed that
guttural order, "Hands oop!"
They had been so interested in one another and in the cut wire that none
of them had noticed the practically noiseless approach of a great grey
motor car, with all lights out, that had stolen up on them. But now,
with a groan, Dick and Jack both knew it for one of the Bray Park cars.
So, after all, Dick's flight had been in vain. He had escaped the guards
of Bray Park once, only to walk straight into this new trap. And, worst
of all, there would be no Jack Young outside to help this time, for Jack
was a captive, too. Only—he was not!
At the thought Dick had turned, to discover that Jack was not beside
him. It was very dark, but in a moment he caught the tiniest movement
over the hedge, and saw a spot a little darker than the rest of the
ground about it. Jack, he saw at once had taken the one faint chance
there was, dropped down, and crawled away, trusting that their captures
had not counted their party, and might not miss the boy.
Just in time he slipped through a hole in the hedge. The next moment one
of the headlights in the grey motor flashed out, almost blinding the the
rest of them, as they held up their hands. In its light from the car,
four men, well armed with revolvers, were revealed.
"Donnerwetter!" said one. "I made sure there were four of them! So!
Vell, it is enough. Into the car with them!"
No pretence about this chap! He was German, and didn't care who knew it.
He was unlike the man who had disguised himself as an English officer,
at the house of the heliograph, but had betrayed himself and set this
whole train of adventure going by his single slip and fall from
idiomatic English that Harry Fleming's sharp ears had caught.
Dick was thrilled, somehow, even while he was being roughly bundled
toward the motor. If these fellows were as bold as this, cutting
telephone wires, driving about without lights, giving up all secrecy and
pretence, it must mean that the occasion for which they had come was
nearly over. It must mean that their task, whatever it might be, was
nearly accomplished—the blow they had come to strike was about ready to
be driven home.
"'Ere, who are you a shovin' off?" complained one of the linemen, as he
was pushed toward the motor. He made some effort to resist but the next
moment he pitched forward. One of the Germans had struck him on the head
with the butt of his revolver. It was a stunning blow, and the man was
certainly silenced. Dick recoiled angrily from the sight, but he kept
quiet. He knew he could do no good by interfering. But the sheer,
unnecessary brutality of it shocked and angered him. He felt that
Englishmen, or Americans, would not treat a prisoner so—especially one
who had not been fighting. These men were not even soldiers, they were
spies, which made the act the more outrageous. They were serving their
country, however, for all that, and that softened Dick's feeling toward
them a little. True, they were performing their service in a sneaky,
underhanded way that went against his grain. But it was service, and he
knew that England, too, probably used spies, forced to do so for
self-defence. He realized the value of the spy's work, and the courage
that work required. If these men were captured they would not share the
fate of those surrendering in battle but would be shot, or hung, without
A minute later he was forced into the tonneau of the car, where he lay
curled up on the floor. Two of the Germans sat in the cushioned seat
while the two linemen, the one who had been hit still unconscious, were
pitched in beside him. The other two Germans were in front, and the car
began to move at a snail's pace. The man beside the driver began
speaking in German, his companion replied. But one of the two behind
"Speak English, dummer kerl he exclaimed, angrily. "These English people
have not much sense, but if a passerby should hear us speaking German,
he would be suspicious. Our words he cannot hear and if they are in
English he will think all is well."
"This is one of those we heard of this afternoon," said the driver.
"This Boy Scout. The other is riding to London—but he will not go, so
He laughed at that, and Dick, knowing he was speaking of Harry,
"Ja, that is all arranged," said the leader, with a chuckle. "Not for
long that could not be. But we need only a few hours more. By this time
tomorrow morning all will be done. He comes, Von Wedel?"
"We got the word tonight—yes," said the other man. "All is arranged for
him. Ealing-Houndsditch, first. There are the soldiers. Then Buckingham
Palace. Ah, what a lesson we shall teach these English! Then the
buildings at Whitehall. We shall strike at the heart of their empire the
heart and the brains!"
Dick listened, appalled. Did they think, then, that he, a boy, could not
understand? Or were they so sure of success that it did not matter? As a
matter of fact, he did not fully understand. Who was Von Wedel? What was
he going to do when he came? And how was he coming?
However, it was not the time for speculation. There was the chance that
any moment they might say something he would understand, and, moreover,
if he got away, it was possible that he might repeat what he heard to
those who would be able to make more use of it.
Just then the leader's foot touched Dick, and he drew away. The German
looked down at him, and laughed. "Frightened!" he said. "We won't hurt
you! What a country that sends its children out against us!"
His manner was kindly enough, and Dick felt himself warming a little to
the big man in spite of himself.
"Listen, boy," said the leader. "You have seen things that were not for
your eyes. So you are to be put where knowledge of them will do no
harm—for a few hours. Then you can go. But until we have finished our
work, you must be kept. You shall not be hurt—I say it."
Dick did not answer. He was thinking hard. He wondered if Jack would try
to rescue him. They were getting very near Bray Park, he felt, and he
thought that, once inside, neither Jack nor anyone else could get him
out until these men who had captured him were willing. Then the car
stopped suddenly. Dick saw that they were outside a little house.
"Get out," said the leader.
Dick and the telephone man who had not been hurt obeyed, the other
lineman was lifted out, more considerately this time.
"Inside!" said the German with the thick, guttural voice. He pointed to
the open door, and they went inside. One of the Germans followed them
and stood in the open door.
"Werner, you are responsible for the prisoners, especially the boy,"
said the leader. "See that none of them escape. You will be relieved at
the proper time. You understand?"
"Ja, Herr Ritter!" said the man. "Zu befehl!"
He saluted, and for the first time Dick had the feeling that this
strange procedure was, in some sense, military, even though there were
no uniforms. Then the door shut, and they were left in the house.
It was just outside of Bray Park—he remembered it now. A tiny box of a
place it was, too, but solidly built of stone. It might have been used
as a tool house. There was one window; that and the door were the only
means of egress. The German looked hard at the window and laughed. Dick
saw then that it was barred. To get out that way, even if he had the
chance, would be impossible. And the guard evidently decided that. He
lay down across the door.
"So!" he said. "I shall sleep—but with one ear open! You cannot get out
except across me. And I am a light sleeper!"
Dick sat there, pondering wretchedly. The man who had been struck on the
head was breathing stertorously. His companion soon dropped off to
sleep, like the German, so that Dick was the only one awake. Through the
window, presently, came the herald of the dawn, the slowly advancing
light. And suddenly Dick saw a shadow against the light, looked up
intently, and saw that is was Jack Young. Jack pointed. Dick, not quite
understanding, moved to the point at which he pointed.
"Stay there!" said Jack, soundlessly. His lips formed the words but he
did not utter them. He nodded up and down vehemently, however, and Dick
understood him, and that he was to stay where he was. He nodded in
return, and settled down in his new position. And then Jack dropped out
For a long time, while the dawn waxed and the light through the window
grew stronger, Dick sat there wondering. Only the breathing of the three
men disturbed the quiet of the little hut. But then, from behind him, he
grew conscious of a faint noise. Not quite a noise, either, it was more
a vibration. He felt the earthen floor of the hut trembling beneath him.
And then at last he understood.
He had nearly an hour to wait. But at last the earth cracked and yawned
where he had been sitting. He heard a faint whisper.
"Dig it out a little—there's a big hole underneath. You can squirm your
way through. I'm going to back out now."
Dick obeyed, and a moment later he was working his way down, head first,
through the tunnel Jack had dug from the outside. He was small and
slight and he got through, somehow, though he was short of breath and
dirtier than he had ever been in his life when at last he was able to
"Come on!" cried Jack. "We've got no time to lose. I've got a couple of
bicycles here. We'd better run for it."
Run for it they did, but there was no alarm. Behind them was the hut,
quiet and peaceful. And beyond the hut was the menace of Bray Park and
the mysteries of which the Germans had spoken in the great grey motor
A DARING RUSE
Harry, furious as he was when he saw Graves allowed to go off after
false accusation that had caused his arrest, was still able to control
himself sufficiently to think. He was beginning to see the whole plot
now, or to think he saw it. He remembered things that had seemed trivial
at the time of their occurrence, but that loomed up importantly now. And
one of the first things he realized was that he was probably in no great
danger, that the charge against him had not been made with the serious
idea of securing his conviction, but simply to cause his detention for a
little while, and to discredit any information he might have.
He could no longer doubt that Graves was in league with the spies on
whose trail he and Dick had fallen. And he understood that, if he kept
quiet, all would soon be all right for him. But if he did that, the
plans of the Germans would succeed. He had already seen an example of
what they could do, in the destruction of the water works. And it seemed
to him that it would be a poor thing to fail in what he had undertaken
simply to save himself. As soon as he reached that conclusion he knew
what he must do, or, at all events, what he must try to do.
For the officer who had arrested him he felt a good deal of contempt.
While it was true that orders had to be obeyed, there was no reason,
Harry felt, why the lieutenant should not have shown some discretion. An
officer of the regular army would have done so, he felt. But this man
looked unintelligent and stupid. Harry felt that he might safely reply
on his appearance. And he was right. The officer found himself in a
quandary at once. His men were mounted on cycles; Harry was on foot. And
Harry saw that he didn't quite know what to do.
Finally he cut the Gordian knot, as it seemed to him, by impounding a
bicycle from a passing wheelman, who protested vigorously but in vain.
All he got for his cycle was a scrap of paper, stating that it had been
requisitioned for army use. And Harry was instructed to mount this
machine and ride along between two of the territorial soldiers. He had
been hoping for something like that, but had hardly dared to expect it.
He had fully made up his mind now to take all the risks he would run by
trying to escape. He could not get clear away, that much he knew. But
now he, too, like Graves, needed a little time. He did not mind being
recaptured in a short time if, in the meantime, he could be free to do
what he wanted.
As to just how he would try to get away, he did not try to plan. He felt
that somewhere along the route some chance would present itself, and
that it would be better to trust to that than to make some plan. He was
ordered to the front of the squad—so that a better eye could be kept
upon him, as the lieutenant put it. Harry had irritated him by his
attempts to cause a change in the disposition of Graves and himself, and
the officer gave the impression now that he regarded Harry as a
desperate criminal, already tried and convicted.
Harry counted upon the traffic, sure to increase as it grew later, to
give him his chance. Something accidental, he knew, there must be, or he
would not be able to get away. And it was not long before his chance
came. As they crossed a wide street there was a sudden outburst of
shouting. A runaway horse, dragging a delivery cart, came rushing down
on the squad, and in a moment it was broken up and confused. Harry
seized the chance. His bicycle, by a lucky chance, was a high geared
machine and before anyone knew he had gone he had turned a corner. In a
moment he threw himself off the machine, dragged it into a shop, ran
out, and in a moment dashed into another shop, crowded with customers.
And there for a moment, he stayed. There was a hue and cry outside. He
saw uniformed men, on bicycles, dashing by. He even rushed to the door
with the crowd in the shop to see what was amiss! And, when the chase
had passed, he walked out, very calmly, though his heart was in his
mouth, and quite unmolested got aboard a passing tram car.
He was counting on the stupidity and lack of imagination of the
lieutenant, and his course was hardly as bold as it seemed. As a matter
of fact it was his one chance to escape. He knew what the officer would
think—that, being in flight, he would try to get away as quickly as
possible from the scene of his escape. And so, by staying there, he was
in the one place where on one would think of looking for him!
On the tram car he was fairly safe. It happened, fortunately, that he
had plenty of money with him. And his first move, when he felt it was
safe, was to get off the tram and look for a cab. He found a taxicab in
a short time, one of those that had escaped requisition by the
government, and in this he drove to an outfitting shop, were he bought
new clothes. He reasoned that he would be looked for all over, and that
if, instead of appearing as a Boy Scout in character dress of the
organization, he was in ordinary clothes, he would have a better chance.
He managed the change easily, and then felt that it was safe for him to
try and get into communication with Dick.
In this attempt luck was with him again. He called for the number of the
vicarage at Bray, only to find that the call was interrupted again at
the nearest telephone center. But this time he was asked to wait, and in
a minute he heard Jack Young's voice in his ear.
"We came over to explain about the wire's being cut," said Jack. "Dick's
all right. He's here with me. Where are you? We've got to see you just
as soon as we can."
"In London, but I'm coming down. I'm going to try to get a motor car,
too. I'm in a lot of trouble, Jack—it's Graves."
"Come on down. We'll walk out along the road towards London and meet
you. We've got a lot to tell you, but I'm afraid to talk about it over
"All right! I'll keep my eyes open for you."
Getting a motor car was not easy. A great many had been taken by the
government. But Harry remembered that one was owned by a business friend
of his father's, an American, and this, with some difficulty, he managed
to borrow. He was known as a careful driver. He had learned to drive his
father's car at home, and Mr. Armstrong knew it. And so, when Harry
explained that it was a matter of the greatest urgency, he got it—since
he had established a reputation for honor that made Mr. Armstrong
understand that when Harry said a thing was urgent, urgent it must be.
Getting out of London was easy. If a search was being made for him—and
he had no doubt that that was true—he found no evidence of it. His
change of clothes was probably what saved him, for it altered his
appearance greatly. So he came near to Bray, and finally met his two
"What happened to you?" asked Jack and Dick in chorus.
Swiftly Harry explained. He told of his arrest as a spy and of his
escape. And when he mentioned the part that Ernest Graves had played in
the affair, Jack and Dick looked at one another.
"We were afraid of something like that, said Jack. "Harry, we've found
out a lot of things, and we don't know what they mean! We're sure
something dreadful is going to happen tonight. And we're sure, too, that
Bray Park is going to be the centre of the trouble."
"Tell me what you know," said Harry, crisply. "Then we'll put two and
two together. I say, Jack, we don't want to be seen, you know. Isn't
there some side road that doesn't lead anywhere, where I can run in with
the car while we talk?"
"Yes. There's a place about a quarter of a mile further on that will do
splendidly," he replied.
"All right. Lead the way! Tell me when we come to it. I've just thought
of something else I ought to never have forgotten. At least, I thought
of it when I took the things out of my pockets while I was changing my
They soon came to the turning Jack had thought of, and a run of a few
hundred yards took them entirely out of sight of the main road, and to a
place where they were able to feel fairly sure of not being molested.
Then they exchanged stories. Harry told his first. Then he heard of
Dick's escape, and of his meeting with Jack. He nodded at the story they
had heard from Graffer Hodge.
"That accounts for how Graves knew," he said, with much satisfaction.
"What happened then?"
When he heard of how they had thought too late of calling Colonel
Throckmorton by telephone he sighed.
"If you'd only got that message through before Graves did his work!" he
said. "He'd have had to believe you then, of course. How unlucky!"
"I know," said Jack. "We were frightfully sorry. And then we went out to
find where the wire was cut, and then got Dick. But I got away, and I
managed to stay fairly close to them. I followed them when they left
Dick in a little stone house, as a prisoner, and I heard this—I heard
them talking about getting a big supply of petrol. Now what on earth do
they want petrol for? They said there would still be plenty left for the
automobiles—and then that they wouldn't need the cars any more, anyhow!
What on earth do you make of that, Harry?"
"Tell me the rest, then I'll tell you what I think," said Harry. "How
did you get Dick out? And did you hear them saying anything that sounded
as if it might be useful, Dick?"
"That was fine work!" he said, when he had heard a description of Dick's
rescue. "Jack, you seem to be around every time one of us gets into
trouble and needs help!"
Then Dick told of the things he had overheard—the mysterious references
to Von Wedel and to things that were to be done to the barracks at
Ealing and Houndsditch. Harry got out a pencil and paper then, and made
a careful note of every name that Dick mentioned. Then he took a paper
from his pocket.
"Remember this, Dick?" he asked. "It's the thing I spoke of that I
forgot until I came across it in my pocket this morning."
"What is it, Harry?"
"Don't you remember what we watched them heliographing some messages,
and put down the Morse signs? Here they are. Now the thing to do is to
see if we can't work out the meaning of the code. If it's a code that
uses words for phrases we've probably stuck, but I think its more likely
to depend on inversions."
"What do you mean, Harry?" asked Jack. "I'm sorry I don't know anything
about codes and ciphers."
"Why, there are two main sorts of codes, Jack, and, of course, thousands
of variations of each of those principal kinds. In one kind the idea is
to save words—in telegraphing or cabling. So the things that are likely
to be said are represented by one word. For instance Coal, in a mining
code, might mean 'struck vein at two hundred feet level.' In the other
sort of code, the letters are changed. That is done in all sorts of
ways, and there are various tricks. The way to get at nearly all of them
is to find out which letter or number or symbol is used most often, and
to remember that in an ordinary letter E will appear almost twice as
often as any other letter—in English, that is."
"But won't this be in German?"
"Yes. That's just why I wanted those names Dick heard. They are likely
to appear in any message that was sent. So, if we can find words that
correspond in length to those, we may be able to work it out. Here goes,
For a long time Harry puzzled over the message. He transcribed the Morse
symbols first into English letters and found they made a hopeless and
confused jumble, as he had expected. The key to the letter E was
useless, as he had also expected. But finally, by making himself think
in German, he began to see a light ahead. And after an hour's hard work
he gave a cry of exultation.
"I believe I've got it!" he cried. "Listen and see if this doesn't sound
"Go ahead!" said Jack and Dick, eagerly.
"Here it is," said Harry. "Petrol just arranged. Supply on way. Reach
Bray Friday. Von Wedel may come. Red light markers arranged. Ealing
Houndsditch Buckingham Admiralty War Office. Closing."
They stared at him, mystified.
"I suppose it does make sense," said Dick. "But what on earth does it
"Oh, can't you see?" cried Harry. "Von Wedel is a commander of some
sort—that's plain, isn't it? And he's to carry out a raid, destroying
or attacking the places that are mentioned! How can he do that? He can't
be a naval commander. He can't be going to lead troops, because we know
they can't land. Then how can he get here? And why should he need
They stared at him blankly. Then, suddenly, Dick understood.
"He'll come through the air!" he cried.
"Yes, in one of their big Zeppelins!" said Harry. "I suppose she has
been cruising off the coast. She's served as a wireless relay station,
too. The plant here at Bray Park could reach her, and she could relay
the message on across the North Sea, to Helgoland or Wilhelmshaven.
She's waited until everything was ready."
"That what they mean by the red light markers, then?"
"Yes. They could be on the roofs of houses, and masked, so that they
wouldn't be seen except from overhead. They'd be in certain fixed
positions, and the men on the Zeppelins would be able to calculate their
aim, and drop their bombs so many degrees to the left or right of the
red marking lights."
"But we've got aeroplanes flying about, haven't we?" said Jack.
"Wouldn't they see those lights and wonder about them?"
"Yes, if they were showing all the time. But you can depend on it that
these Germans have provided for all that. They will have arranged for
the Zeppelin to be above the position, as near as they can guess them,
at certain times—and the lights will only be shown at those times, and
then only for a few seconds. Even if someone else sees them, you see,
there won't be time to do anything."
"You must be right, Harry!" said Jack, nervously. "There's no other way
to explain that message. How are we going to stop them?"
"I don't know yet, but we'll have to work out some way of doing it. It
would be terrible for us to know what had been planned and still not be
able to stop them! I wish I knew were Graves was. I'd like to …"
He stopped, thinking hard.
"What good would that do?"
"Oh, I don't want him—not just now. But I don't want him to see me just
at present. I want to know where he is so that I can avoid him."
"Suppose I scout into Bray?" suggested Jack. "I can find out something
that might be useful, perhaps. If any of them from Bray Park have come
into the village today I'll hear about it."
"That's a good idea. Suppose you do that, Jack. I don't know just what
I'll do yet. But if I go away from here before you come back, Dick will
stay. I've got to think—there must be some way to beat them!"
A CAPTURE FROM THE SKIES
Jack went off to see what he could discover, and Harry, left behind with
Dick, racked his brains for some means of blocking the plan he was so
sure the Germans had made. He was furious at Graves, who had discredited
him with Colonel Throckmorton, as he believed. He minded the personal
unpleasantness involved far less than the thought that his usefulness
was blocked, for he felt that not information he might bring would be
As he looked around it seemed incredible that such things as he was
trying to prevent could even be imagined. After the early rain, the day
had cleared up warm and lovely, and it was now the most perfect of
things, a beautiful summer day in England. The little road they had
taken was a sort of blind alley. It had brought them to a meadow, whence
the hay had already been cut. At the far side of this ran a little
brook, and all about them were trees. Except for the call of birds, and
the ceaseless hum of insects, there was no sound to break the stillness.
It was a scene of peaceful beauty that could not be surpassed anywhere
in the world. And yet, only a few miles away, at the most, were men who
were planning deliberately to bring death and destruction upon helpless
enemies—to rain down death from the skies.
By very contrast to the idyllic peace of all about them, the terrors of
war seemed more dreadful. That men who went to war should be killed and
wounded, bad though it was, still seemed legitimate. But his driving
home of an attack upon a city all unprepared, upon the many
non-combatants who would be bound to suffer, was another and more
dreadful thing. Harry could understand that it was war, that it was
permissible to do what these Germans were planned. And yet—
His thoughts were interrupted by a sudden change in the quality of the
noisy silence that the insects made. Just before he noticed it, half a
dozen bees had been humming near him. Now he heard something that
sounded like the humming of a far vaster bee. Suddenly it stopped, and,
as it did, he looked up, his eyes as well as Dick's being drawn upward
at the same moment. And they saw, high above them, an aeroplane with dun
colored wings. Its engine had stopped and it was descending now in a
beautiful series of volplaning curves.
"Out of essense—he's got to come down," said Harry, appraisingly, to
Dick. "He'll manage it all right, too. He knows his business through and
through, that chap."
"I wonder where he'll land," speculated Dick.
"He's got to pick an open space, of course," said Harry. "And there
aren't so many of them around here. By Jove!"
"Look! He's certainly coming down fast!" exclaimed Dick.
"Yes—and, I say, I think he's heading for this meadow! Come on—start
that motor, Dick!"
"Why? Don't you want him to see us?"
"I don't mind him seeing us—I don't want him to see the car," explained
Harry. "We'll run it around that bend, out of sight from the meadow."
"Why shouldn't he see it?"
"Because if he's out of petrol, he'll want to take all we've got and we
may not want him to have it. We don't know who he is, yet."
The car was moving as Harry explained. As soon as the meadow was out of
sight, Harry stopped the engine and got out of the car.
"He may have seen it as he was coming down—the car, I mean," he said.
"But I doubt it. He's got other things to watch. That meadow for
one—and all his levers and his wheel. Guiding an aeroplane in a coast
like that down the air is no easy job."
"Have you ever been up, Harry?"
"Yes, often. I've never driven one myself, but I believe I could if I
had to. I've watched other people handle them so often that I know just
about everything that has to be done.
"That's an English monoplane. I've seen them ever so often," said Dick.
"It's an army machine, I mean. See it's number? It's just coming in
sight of us now. Wouldn't you like to fly her though?"
"I'd like to know what it's doing around here," said Harry. "And it
seems funny to me if an English army aviator has started out without
enough petrol in his tank to see him through any flight he might be
making. And wouldn't he have headed for one of his supply stations as
soon as he found out he was running short, instead of coming down in
country like this?"
Dick stared at him.
"Do you think it's another spy?" he asked.
"I don't think anything about it yet, Dick. But I'm not going to be
caught napping. That's a Bleriot—and the British army flying corps uses
Bleriots. But anyone with the money can buy one and make it look like an
English army plane. Remember that."
There was no mistaking about the monoplane when it was once down. Its
pilot was German; he was unmistakably so. He had been flying very high
and when he landed he was still stiff from the cold.
"Petrol!" he cried eagerly, as he saw the two boys. "Where can I get
petrol? Quick! Answer me!"
Harry shot a quick glance at Dick.
"Come on," he said, beneath his breath. "We've got to get him and tie
The aviator, cramped and stiffened as he was by the intense cold that
prevails in the high levels where he had been flying, was no match for
them. As they sprang at him his face took on the most ludicrous
appearance of utter surprise. Had he suspected that they would attack
him he might have drawn a pistol. As it was, he was helpless before the
two boys, both in the pink of condition and determined to capture him.
He made a struggle, but in two minutes he was laying roped, tied, and
utterly helpless. He was not silent; he breathed the most fearful
threats as to what would happen to them. But neither boy paid any
attention to him.
"We've got to get him to the car," said Harry. "Can we drag him?"
"Yes. But if we loosen his feet a little, he could walk," suggested
Dick. "That would be ever so much easier for him, and for us too. I
should hate to be dragged. Let's make him walk."
"Right—and a good idea!" said Harry. He loosened the ropes about the
aviator's feet, and helped him to stand.
"March!" he said. "Don't try to get away—I've got a leading rope, you
He did have a loose end of rope, left over from a knot, and with this he
proceeded to lead the enraged German to the automobile. It looked for
all the world as if he were leading a dog, and for a moment Dick doubled
up in helpless laughter. The whole episode had it's comic side, but it
was serious, too.
"Now we've got to draw off the gasoline in the tank in this bucket,"
said Harry. The German had been bestowed in the tonneau, and made as
comfortable as possible with rugs and cushions. His feet were securely
tied again, and there was no chance for him to escape.
"What are you going to do?" asked Dick. "Are you going to try to fly in
"I don't know, yet. But I'm going to have it ready, so that I can if I
need to," said Harry. "That Bleriot maybe the saving of us yet, Dick.
There's no telling what we shall have to do."
Even as he spoke, Harry was making new plans, rendered possible by this
gift from the skies. He was beginning, at last, to see a way to
circumvent the Germans. What he had in mind was risky, certainly, and
might prove perilous in the extreme. But he did not let that aspect of
the situation worry him. His one concern was to foil the terrible plan
that the Germans had made, and he was willing to run any risk that would
help him to do so.
"The Zeppelin is coming here to Bray Park—it's going to land here,"
said Harry. "And if it ever gets away from here there will be no way of
stopping it from doing all the damage they have planned, or most of it.
Thanks to Graves, we wouldn't be believed if we tell what we know—we'd
probably just be put in the guard house. So we've got to try to stop it
They had reached the Bleriot by that time. Harry filled the tank, and
looked at the motor. Then he sat in the driver's seat and practiced with
the levers, until he decided that he understood them thoroughly. And, as
he did this, he made his decision.
"I'm going into Bray Park tonight," he said. "This is the only way to
"And I'm going with you," announced Dick.
At first Harry refused absolutely to consent to Dick's accompanying him,
but after a long argument he was forced to yield.
"Why should you take all the risks when it isn't your own country,
especially?" asked Dick, almost sobbing. "I've got a right to go! And,
besides, you may need me."
That was true enough, as Harry realized. Moreover, he had been
investigating the Bleriot, and he discovered that it was one of the new
safety type, with a gyroscope device to insure stability. That day was
almost without wind, and therefore it seemed that if such an excursion
could ever be safe, this was the time. He consented in the end, and
later he was to be thankful that he had.
Once the decision was taken, they waited impatiently for the return of
Jack Young. Harry foresaw protests from Jack when he found out what they
meant to do, but for him there as an easy answer—there was room in the
aeroplane for only two people, and there was no way of carrying an extra
It was early dusk when Jack returned, and he had the forethought to
bring a basket of food with him—cold chicken, bread and butter, and
milk, as well as some fruit.
"I didn't find out very much," he said, "except this. Someone from
London has been asking about you both. And this much more—at least a
dozen people have come down to Bray Park today from London."
"Did you see any sign of soldiers from London?"
"No," said Jack.
He was disappointed when he found out what they meant to do, but he took
his disappointment pluckily when he saw that there was no help for it.
Harry explained very quietly to both Jack and Dick what he meant to do
and they listened, open mouthed, with wonder.
"You'll have your part to play, Jack," said Harry. "Somehow I can't
believe that the letter I wrote to Colonel Throckmorton last night won't
have some effect. You have got to scout around in case anyone comes and
tell them all I've told you. You understand thoroughly, do you?"
"Yes," said Jack, quietly. "When are you going to start?"
"There's no use going up much before eleven o'clock," said Harry.
"Before that we'd be seen, and, besides, if a Zepplin is coming, it
wouldn't be until after that. My plan is to scout to the east and try to
pick her up and watch her descend. I think I know just about where
she'll land—the only place where there's room enough for her. And
He stopped, and the others nodded, grimly.
"I imagine she'll have about a hundred and twenty miles to travel in a
straight line—perhaps a little less," said Harry. "She can make that in
about two hours, or less. Big as they are, those airships are painted so
that they're almost invisible from below. So if she comes by night,
getting here won't be as hard a job as it seems at first thought."
Then the three of them went over in every detail the plan Harry had
formed. Dick and Jack took their places in the monoplane and rehearsed
every movement they would have to make.
"I can't think of anything else that we can provide for now," said
Harry, at last. "Of course, we can't tell what will come up, and it
would be wonderful if everything came out just as we have planned. But
we've provided for everything we can think of. You know where you are to
"Then you'd better start pretty soon. Good-bye, Jack!" He held out his
hand. "We could never have worked this out without you. If we succeed
you'll have a big part in what we've done."
A little later Jack said good-bye in earnest, and then there was nothing
to do but wait. About them the voices of the insects and frogs changed,
with the darkening night. The stars came out, but the night was a dark
one. Harry looked at his watch from time to time and at last he got up.
"Time to start!" he said.
He felt a thrill of nervousness as the monoplane rose into the air.
After all, there was a difference between being the pilot and sitting
still in the car. But he managed very well, after a few anxious moments
in the ascent. And once they were clear of the trees and climbing
swiftly, in great spirals, there was a glorious sensation of freedom.
Dick caught his breath at first, then he got used to the queer motion,
and cried aloud in his delight.
Harry headed straight into the east when he felt that he was high
enough. And suddenly he gave a cry.
"Look!" he shouted in Dick's ear. "We didn't start a moment too soon.
See her—that great big cigar-shaped thing, dropping over there?"
It was the Zepplin—the battleship of the air. She was dipping down,
descending gracefully, over Bray Park.
"I was right!" cried Harry. "Now we can go to work at once—we won't
have to land and wait!"
He rose still higher, then flew straight for Bray Park. They were high,
but, far below, with lights moving about her, they could see the huge
bulk of the airship, as long as a moderate sized ocean liner. She
presented a perfect target.
"Now!" said Harry.
And at once Dick began dropping projectiles they had found in the
aeroplane—sharply pointed shells of steel. Harry had examined these—he
found they were really solid steel shot, cast like modern rifle bullets,
and calculated to penetrate, even without explosive action, when dropped
from a height.
From the first two that Dick dropped there was no result. But with the
falling of the third a hissing sound came from below, and as Dick
rapidly dropped three more, the noise increased. And they could see the
lights flying—plainly the men were running from the monster. Its bulk
lessened as the gas escaped from the great bag and then, in a moment
more, there was a terrific explosion that rocked the monoplane
violently. Had Harry not been ready for it, they might have been brought
But he had been prepared, and was flying away.
Down below there was now a great glare from the burning wreckage,
lighting up the whole scene. And suddenly there was a sharp breaking out
of rifle fire. At first he thought the men below had seen them, and were
firing upward. But in a moment he saw the truth. Bray Park had been
attacked from outside!
Even before they reached the ground, in the meadow where Harry and Jack
had emerged from the tunnel, and Harry and Dick saw, to their wonder and
delight, that the ground swarmed with khaki-clad soldiers. In the same
moment Jack ran up to them.
"The soldiers have the place surrounded!" he cried, exultingly. "They
must have believed your letter after all, Harry! Come on-there's a boat
here! Aren't you coming over?"
They were rowing for the other shore before the words were well spoken.
And, once over, they were seized at once by two soldiers.
"More of them," said one of the soldiers. "Where's the colonel?"
Without trying to explain, they let themselves be taken to where Colonel
Throckmorton stood near the burning wreckage. At the sight of Harry his
face lighted up.
"What do you know about this?" he asked, sternly, pointing to the
Harry explained in a few words.
"Very good," said the colonel. "You are under arrest—you broke arrest
this morning. I suppose you know that is a serious offense, whether your
original arrest was justified or not?"
"I felt I had to do it, sir," said Harry. He had caught the glint of a
smile in the colonel's eyes.
"Explain yourself, sir," said the colonel. "Report fully as to your
movements today. Perhaps I shall recommend you for a metal instead of
court marshalling you, after all."
And so the story came out, and Harry learned that the colonel had never
believed Graves, but had chosen to let him think he did.
"The boy Graves is a German, and older than he seems," said the colonel.
"He was here as a spy. He is in custody now, and you have broken up a
dangerous raid and a still more dangerous system of espionage. If you
hadn't come along with your aeroplane, we would never have stopped the
raid. I had ordered aviators to be here, but it is plain that something
has gone wrong. You have done more than well. I shall see to it that
your services are properly recognized. And now be off with you, and get
some sleep. You may report to me the day after tomorrow!"