The Apartment Next Door
William Andrew Johnston
Part 3 out of 4
"It's funny about his never seeing them coming back."
"Probably there is nothing mysterious about that. I have a notion they
always come up one side the river and down the other, taking the 125th
Street ferry home. That would not be a bad plan to help them in eluding
too curious observers. All these German spies are trained to leave as
blind a trail behind them as possible. The thing we have got to discover
is what brought them up here. We've just got to find out their
"I am afraid there is little chance of our doing that," insisted Jane.
"We've nothing to go on."
"We've learned something. We know that their destination is somewhere
between here and Fort Lee on this side of the river. That narrows down
the search considerably. That's more, too, than anybody else that the
Chief has had on their trail has learned. Something tells me that we are
getting warm right now. Obviously the place they come to must be nearer
West Point than it is New York. They would hardly take too roundabout a
course, even for the sake of hiding their tracks. Keep a sharp lookout
for tire tracks leaving the main road."
The route they were following quickly led them into a sparsely inhabited
mountainous district and instead of the concreted state highway they
found themselves on a hilly dirt road, full of ruts and loose stones
that made travel difficult. At times it was all Dean could do to manage
the machine, so that he had to leave most of the task of observing the
by-ways to Jane. For more than two miles they had seen neither house nor
barn. Once or twice they came upon little used lanes leading off through
the woods, but none of them showed any traces of the recent passing of
As they came dashing around a curve on a steep down-grade, where hardly
more than the semblance of a road had been cut into the hillside, Jane
caught her breath sharply. Above the roar of their own motor she thought
she heard some other noise, something that sounded like another car
near-by; yet neither behind nor ahead was there another automobile
"Listen," she cried sharply.
Dean started to slow down, but it was too late. Out of a cut in the
hillside, half screened by a clump of bushes at the side on which Jane
was riding, a great gray motor shot out just as they were passing. Jane
caught just one glimpse of the man on the driver's seat. It was Frederic
Hoff, frantically twisting at the wheel in an effort to avert the
threatened collision. There came a thud and a crash as the forward part
of the Hoff car struck the motorcycle a glancing blow, overturning it
completely. Too terrified even to shriek, Jane felt herself being
catapulted out of her seat and flung high in air. Then came a blank.
Her companion did not escape so easily. The heavy machine crashed over
on him and dragged him several yards. His head, as he landed in the
roadway, struck a stone, and the motorcycle itself pinned him to the
earth by its weight, one of his arms doubled up in an alarming fashion,
as he lay there completely senseless.
Jane fortunately had landed on some soft grass, though with sufficient
force to leave her badly stunned. As she lay there, a boyish figure in
her disguise, her senses began gradually to revive, although it was some
time before she opened her eyes.
Vaguely, as from a great distance, she began to hear voices, and it
seemed to her that they were German voices, arguing about something. The
voices seemed angry and excited. At first she did not bother about them.
She was wondering how badly she was hurt. Her arms and limbs had a
curious sort of deadness about them, a detached sensation, as if they
belonged to some one else. She wondered if she was paralyzed and dared
not try to move them, fearful lest she might find that it was the
The voices--the German voices--came nearer, became louder and more
strident. She struggled to collect her thoughts. Where was she? What had
happened? Where was Thomas Dean? Gradually some memory of the accident
came to her. They had been run down by the Hoffs' car. The voices she
kept hearing were those of the two Hoffs, angrily wrangling about
something. As she revived further she became acutely conscious that her
head seemed to be splitting. What was it the Hoffs were arguing about?
Still lying there motionless, with her eyes closed, endeavoring to
collect herself, she tried to listen to what they were saying.
"I tell you there is not time. I must hurry. Every minute is precious. I
cannot delay my work for these swine, no matter if they both are dying
or dead," old Otto was angrily shouting with many German oaths.
"I tell you," Frederic was saying,--his voice was calmer but
determined,--"we've got to get these people to a doctor. It's too
heartless. I will not leave them here."
"And betray us at the last moment, when our plans are all ready,"
snarled old Otto.
"There is less danger if we bundle them into the car and take them with
us than if we leave them here," protested Frederic. "Two bodies right
here at the entrance would be fine, _nicht wahr?_"
His last remark appealed to old Otto.
"That is so," he muttered. "It is not safe. We must hide the bodies,
both of them, yes?"
The bodies! Jane decided that Dean must have been killed and that they
thought that she, too, was dead. As she strove to open her eyes she
could hear Frederic protesting.
"It's inhuman," he cried. "They both are hurt, but perhaps still alive.
We must take them to a hospital."
"And endanger all our plans," stormed old Otto. "Throw them into the
"We'll do nothing of the sort," Frederic insisted, his voice becoming
unusually stern and severe. "I'm going to get both of these people to a
doctor at once, I tell you."
With effort Jane opened her eyes and looked cautiously about. Where was
Thomas Dean? How badly had he been hurt? The Hoffs' automobile was
slowly backing up. As she looked old Otto sprang out of it and righted
the motorcycle. As he did so Jane saw the body of Dean lying senseless
beneath it, but to him the old German paid no attention. He was
examining the motorcycle and still sputtering that the swine should be
left to rot.
"We are going to take them with us in the car," directed Frederic in a
voice of authority. "I command it."
At the word old Otto's mutterings ceased, though he shot a black look at
the younger man.
"This machine," he suggested, "it is not hurt. I will take it and do our
work. There is haste. You remain with the car. Do what you will with
"Go then," said his nephew curtly. "You can take the train at the first
station and make time."
As the old man mounted the motorcycle and sped away Frederic sprang from
the car, and approaching the spot where Dean's body lay, began making an
examination of his injuries.
"Scalp wound, perhaps fractured skull, broken arm," Jane heard him
saying aloud to himself. She noted curiously that as soon as he was left
to himself he began speaking in English.
He left Dean and approached her. As he came nearer she closed her eyes
again, trying to plan some course of action. Her head was throbbing so
that she found it impossible to think. She felt toward young Hoff a
warmth of gratitude for not having gone off and left them helpless as
his uncle had insisted. Even though he was an enemy of her country, a
man to be hated, a spy, she could not help being glad for his presence
there. What would she have done without him, with Dean lying there
injured and helpless on this lonely mountain road?
"This chap seems only stunned," she heard him say as he bent over her,
then as he looked closer, she heard him exclaim:
"My God, it's Jane!"
In an instant he was down at her side on his knees. Tenderly one of his
arms went about her and lifted her head.
"Miss Strong, Jane, Jane," he implored, "Jane dear, speak to me."
Stunned though she still was a flush crept into Jane's cheeks at the
unexpected term of endearment, though she still kept her eyes closed.
Gently he laid her back on the turf and hastened to the automobile,
returning with a flask which he held to her lips. Slowly Jane opened
"Thank God," he cried. "Jane dear, tell me you are not hurt."
For a moment she lay there, staring wonderingly at him as he bent over
her imploringly, the tenderest of anxiety showing in every line of his
face. Unprotestingly she let him slip his strong arm once more under her
head. In her dazed brain there was a strange conflict of peculiar
emotions. He was a German, a spy,--she hated him, and yet it was
wonderfully comforting to her to have him there. Under other
circumstances she could have loved him. He was so handsome, so masterful
and so kind, too. He cared for her. Had he not called her "Jane, dear"
in his amazement at finding her lying there? But she must not let
herself think of him in that way. It was her duty, her sacred duty to
trap him, to thwart his nefarious plans against her country. She must do
her duty just as her soldier brother was doing his in far away France.
Still supported by Hoff's arms she sat up, trying to collect her
thoughts and gingerly testing the movement of her arms and limbs.
"Tell me," he cried again, "Jane, dear, are you hurt?"
"I don't think so," she managed to say.
With his assistance she got up on her feet and walked uncertainly to
the car, shuddering as she looked at Dean's crumpled senseless body.
"Your friend," said Hoff, as he placed her in the forward seat and
wrapped a rug about her, "I am afraid, is badly hurt."
"It's our chauffeur, Thomas Dean," she explained confusedly.
She had been wondering what she could say to Frederic to account for her
presence there. It was unconventional at least for a girl to be
motorcycling about the country dressed in man's clothes with a
chauffeur. Hoff must surely realize now that she had been shadowing him.
She felt almost certain that he had known it from the very first, since
that afternoon when he had overheard her telephoning about the "fifth
book." Yet never by word or manner had he betrayed the fact that he
suspected her. Beyond his customary reserve in speaking about himself or
his activities, there was nothing to indicate that he knew anything yet.
Whatever she told him now she must be careful not to betray her mission.
Perhaps even in spite of all that had happened she still might be able
to aid Chief Fleck in trapping them.
But did she really want to trap Frederic Hoff? Had Thomas Dean's bitter
charge that she was trying to protect him been true? Frederic Hoff loved
her. She, yes--she had to admit it to herself--she was beginning to love
him. Could she go on with it?
Hoff had been busy lifting the unconscious Dean into the tonneau. As she
watched him as he lifted up the body unaided she was conscious of
admiration of his great strength.
"Will he die?" she whispered.
"I don't know," he answered. "He is badly hurt. We must get him to a
doctor at once."
He stopped a moment longer to examine the car. Fortunately the glancing
blow that it had struck the motorcycle had done no more damage than
shatter one of the lamps and bend the mud guard. Soon they were moving
rapidly in the direction of New York.
"I think," said Hoff, "we had better leave him in the care of the first
doctor we come to. We can say that he is an injured motorcyclist we
found lying in the road."
"And me?" asked Jane, almost fearfully.
"I'll take you back to the city with me."
"No," she replied, "that won't do. I ought to stay by him. Besides, if
I return with you, it will be hard to explain."
He turned to look inquiringly at her and for a moment drove on in
"There's nothing more you can do for the man once he is in competent
medical hands, except to notify his people. Is he married?"
"No," said Jane, "he's not married. I can tell his friends."
"Did your parents know about"--he hesitated--"about this trip with the
Jane blushed guiltily, wondering what he suspected of her. She hoped
that he did not think she had a habit of going off on such journeys with
the chauffeur. Even though the man at her side was officially her enemy
she resented being put into a position that would cheapen her in
"No," she replied, "they knew nothing about it."
Hoff drove on in silence. She had feared that he might ask her more
embarrassing questions, might insist on knowing where she had been going
when the accident occurred. A panic seized her. What if he should ask
her? What could she tell him? He had a masterful way about him. If he
took it into his head to make her confess she realized that she would
have a struggle to keep from telling him everything. She made up her
mind that she would not, she dare not answer any more questions.
When he spoke again she was relieved to hear a suggestion instead of a
"When we have crossed the ferry," he said, "you can put on a dust coat
to hide your costume, and I will send you home in a taxi. Will that be
"That will do nicely," she replied, gratefully conscious that he was
endeavoring to plan so that her part in the afternoon's adventures need
not become public.
Nevertheless she waited nervously while Hoff and the doctor carried Dean
into the doctor's home. What if the doctor's suspicions should be
aroused, and he should insist on knowing all the details of the
accident? To her astonishment the doctor seemed to accept Hoff's brief
recital of finding an injured motorcyclist on the road without question.
Perhaps if she had seen the amount of the bills Hoff left to care for
the chauffeur's treatment she might have understood better.
Yet unconscious though Dean had lain all the way, as they resumed their
journey without him, she felt a sudden sense of dread at being alone in
the car with Frederic Hoff. It was not that she longer feared he would
endeavor to make her tell her reasons for the expedition. She was afraid
that with just the two of them alone in the car he might seize the
opportunity to declare his affection for her.
But, to her amazement, he hardly spoke a word to her on all the rest of
the journey homeward. Once in a while as she ventured a glance in his
direction, annoyed a little perhaps by this neglect of her, she saw only
a strong face set in lines of thought, his brow wrinkled in deep
perplexity, and his blue eyes looking steadily at the road ahead--and at
something far, far beyond.
Save for an occasional solicitous question about her comfort he did not
speak again until just after he had put her in a taxi at the ferry. As
Jane was trying to say her thanks he leaned forward unexpectedly, his
tall frame blocking the whole doorway.
"Jane," he said, his voice vibrant with emotion, "Jane, you must trust
me. Everything must come out all right. Some day--some day soon when we
have won--I am coming to find you and tell you that I love you."
"When we have won!" Jane shuddered and drew back in the car, aflame with
She had read and had heard often of the unspeakable conceit of the
Prussians. She knew that they regarded themselves as supermen who could
not be defeated. Her challenged American pride rose to battle. As she
rode home she was sure now that more than she hated anything else in the
world she hated Frederic Hoff, the spy, the German, who had dared to
boast to her that they expected to win.
PUZZLES AND PLANS
Chief Fleck had spent a sleepless night trying to put two and two
together. Instead of the answer being "four" as it should have been each
time he completed his figuring the result was "zero." Time and again he
mustered the facts into columns, only to succeed in puzzling himself
Two German spies, the Hoffs, had set out together in their motor on
their usual mysterious Wednesday mission. Two other persons, two of his
most intelligent operatives, Thomas Dean and Jane Strong, had set out on
a motorcycle to shadow them.
What had happened?
Otto Hoff had returned to his apartment on foot, hours before his usual
time, seemingly much perturbed about something.
Frederic Hoff had arrived back at the apartment, also on foot, some
hours later than usual, and the motor had not been returned to its
usual garage. Frederic Hoff had appeared to be unusually elated about
Thomas Dean was in a doctor's home somewhere up the Hudson with a broken
arm and a bad scalp wound and was unable to tell what had become of
either Miss Strong or the motorcycle.
Jane Strong had arrived home in a taxicab half an hour before Frederick
Hoff, apparently unhurt but in a most peculiar condition of mind. When
Chief Fleck had called her on the 'phone she had refused to answer any
questions. The best he could get out of her was a promise that she would
come to his office in the morning.
From this situation Fleck's shrewd and experienced mind had been wholly
unable to make any satisfactory deductions. That something unforeseen
and unusual had happened to the Hoffs he was certain. It was the first
time on a Wednesday that they had not returned together. Whatever it was
that had happened it had depressed old Otto and had been a cause of
elation to Frederic. What could it have been? That was the poser.
Coupled with this was the annoying fact of Jane Strong's sudden
reticence. Hitherto he had found her at all times ready and eager
whenever he called on her--ready to do anything he asked her, or to tell
him everything. Why had she suddenly balked? He recalled that Dean had
hinted, and Carter, too, that the girl was becoming interested in the
younger of the Germans, yet he scouted the possibility of Jane having
gone over to the enemy's side. A girl of her stock, living with her
parents, with a brother fighting in France, never could be guilty of
disloyalty, even if she were in love. Yet how was her disinclination to
talk to be accounted for? After he had received a report that she was at
home he had waited, expecting her to call him up. When she had not done
so, he had called her. She had been positively curt and decisive. She
had nothing to say to him, she had replied, at present. Dean was safe.
She would come to his office in the morning. There was nothing for him
to do but to await her arrival.
He was expecting Carter, too. He had sent him to Nyack the evening
before as soon as he had learned of Dean's whereabouts. Carter was to
find out everything that Dean had learned and report as soon as he
could. It was Carter who arrived first.
"Dean doesn't know what happened to him, nor where the girl went," said
Carter. "They had lost the Hoffs' trail at the Garrison ferry, as he
told you over the 'phone. They had to wait there half an hour for
another boat. They scouted around West Point, and nearly three hours
afterward they picked up the trail heading toward New York. About ten
miles south of West Point they were clipping along a mountain road when
something happened. Dean is not sure whether he hit a stone in the road
or whether an automobile struck them. He was knocked unconscious and
didn't remember anything more until he came to and found the doctor
setting his arm."
"Who took him to the doctor's?"
"It was a couple, the doctor said, who explained that they had found
Dean lying in the road under his wrecked motorcycle. The doctor could
not remember what the couple looked like. Said he had been too busy
looking after the injured man. I did worm out of him, though, that the
man had left two hundred dollars with him to take care of Dean."
"That's funny," said the chief.
"It sure is," said Carter. "Looks like hush money to me. What does the
"Nothing yet," said Fleck. "She wouldn't talk at all last night, but
she's coming here at ten."
"That's funny," said Carter. "Why wouldn't she talk?"
"I don't know yet," said Fleck decisively, "but I am going to find out.
Do you really suppose that she has fallen in love with young Hoff?"
Carter shook his head.
"Dean thought so, and I know that Dean was in love with her himself, but
I don't know. I'd bank on that girl somehow, even if she is in love."
"There she comes now," said the chief as he heard the door of the outer
As Jane entered she faced the two men almost defiantly. She too had had
a sleepless night. Although she herself had been physically uninjured in
the accident the shock to her nerves had left her unstrung, and besides
she had been bothering all through the dark hours as to how much of what
had happened in the last few hours it was her duty to tell to
As her personal relations with Frederic Hoff and her feelings toward him
had in no way affected her sense of duty she felt that it was
unnecessary for her to report the declaration of love he had made to
her. Surely an affair that involved only the heart was her own property
so long as she faithfully reported anything and everything that might
lead to the exposure of the Hoffs' plots. She could not see that it was
any of Chief Fleck's business, nor her country's either, if Frederic
Hoff had fallen in love with her. At any rate it would be utterly
impossible for her to make any statement about her own feelings toward
him. Even in her own heart and mind she was not quite sure what they
were. From the first his forceful personality had had great charm for
her. His obvious interest in her she had found delightful and
flattering. When she recalled how gallantly he had insisted on remaining
to rescue Dean and herself, even before he knew her identity, she was
filled with admiration for him. Yet always matched against all that she
found lovable in him was the knowledge that he was a German, a traitor,
a spy, perhaps a murderer, and at times she felt that she hated him with
a hatred that never could be overcome.
"Well," said Fleck, studying her countenance, "what have you to tell
"How is Dean?" she asked. "Will he live?"
Fleck and Carter exchanged glances. Was she, they wondered, really
concerned in the handsome young chauffeur's welfare, or had she merely
put the question to gain time in framing what she was going to say?
"I just left him," said Carter, in response to an almost imperceptible
nod from the chief; "he's all right except for a scalp wound and a
"I'm glad," said the girl impulsively.
"What happened to him?" asked Carter.
"Don't you know? The Hoffs' automobile hit us and overturned the
"The Hoffs' car!" cried Fleck and Carter together.
"Yes, I thought you knew."
"Tell us everything," demanded Fleck. "Where did it happen? Did they
run you down purposely?"
"I don't think so; in fact I am sure they didn't. It was entirely
"Where did it happen? All Dean could remember was that you had picked up
their trail about ten miles south of West Point. He could not tell how
the accident occurred. He didn't even mention the Hoffs or seem to
suspect that they were anywhere near at the time."
"I don't think he saw their car at all," Jane explained. "I caught just
a glimpse of it before we were crashed into. We were on a mountain road
going down a steep hill when their motor shot out of a deep cut just as
we were passing."
"What happened then?"
"I must have been stunned for a moment or two. When I regained my senses
the Hoffs' car had stopped, and Frederic was backing the car to where
the accident had happened. His uncle was storming at him for stopping.
He wanted Frederic to go on and leave us there, but Frederic wouldn't do
it, and they quarrelled. Frederic won out by pointing out that two
bodies lying at the entrance would arouse suspicion."
"At the entrance to what?"
"I don't know. He didn't say. I think I could find the place again."
"We've got to find it," said Carter.
"Indeed we have," Jane agreed, "and quickly, too. I fear we are going to
be too late. Old Mr. Hoff seemed to be in terrible haste and spoke of
their plans being nearly completed."
"Go on," said Fleck quietly, "tell us the rest."
"Frederic Hoff stayed behind to pick us up, and the old man went off on
the motorcycle. I heard them talking about his taking a train at the
"What did young Hoff do when he found it was you lying there?"
"He seemed surprised and startled."
"What did he say?"
Jane colored and hesitated. There rose in her mind the picture of his
tall figure bending over her, with anguish in his eyes, with expressions
of endearment on his lips. She could not, she would not tell them what
he had said.
"He asked if I was hurt."
"Is that all?"
Again she blushed and hesitated.
"Did he not seem amazed at finding you there? Did he not ask you to
account for your presence there?"
"No," said the girl, firmly, "he didn't."
"Didn't he question you at all?"
"No," she insisted, "he was busy getting Dean into the car. He was
unconscious, and it looked as if he was badly hurt."
"Queer, mighty queer," muttered Carter to himself.
"Didn't he ask you who Dean was?" questioned Fleck.
"I explained that he was our chauffeur. He may have known him by sight
at any rate."
"We stopped at the house of the first doctor we came to and left Dean
there, and then Mr. Hoff brought me on home in the car. At the ferry he
put me into a taxi."
"What did you talk about on the trip home?" asked Fleck suspiciously.
"Didn't he try to pump you?"
"We hardly talked at all. He seemed concerned only in getting me home
without its becoming known that I had been in an accident."
"Is that all?" asked the chief. She could see by his manner that he
mistrusted her, that he felt that she was keeping something back.
"We hardly exchanged a dozen words," she insisted.
Fleck shook his head in a puzzled way.
"I can't understand it at all," he said. "Old Otto is a common enough
type of German, painstaking, methodical, stupid, stubborn, ready to
commit any crime for Prussia, but the young fellow is of far different
material. He has brains and daring and initiative. He is far more alert
and more dangerous. I cannot understand his finding you there and not
trying to discover what you were doing."
"I can't understand that either," Jane admitted.
"There's no doubt in my mind," the chief continued, "that Frederic Hoff
is the real conspirator, the head of the plotters."
"Why do you say that?" asked Jane quickly. "What did you find out when
you searched the apartment yesterday?"
She felt certain from the manner in which he spoke that he must now have
some damning evidence of Frederic Hoff's guilt. He was not in the habit
of making decisions without proof.
"We found," said Fleck, his keen eyes fixed on her face as if trying to
read her innermost thoughts, "a British officer's uniform hanging in
Frederic Hoff's closet, proof positive that he is a dangerous spy."
"And," said Carter, pointing to the two clippings lying on Fleck's desk,
"in the old man's waste-paper basket we found those."
Jane picked up the clippings and examined them curiously.
"What are they?" she asked, looking from one to the other; "cipher
messages of some sort?"
"We think so," said Carter. "We don't know yet."
"I've noticed these peculiar advertisements often," said Jane, studying
the clippings, "but I never thought of connecting them with the Hoffs. I
wonder--" Fleck and Carter had their heads together and were talking in
"I wonder," said the chief, "what young Hoff is up to. He must have
known the girl was there to spy on him. I can't understand his not
"He's a cagey bird," Carter replied. "They are both of them expert at
throwing off shadowers. Both of them know, I think, they are
"Oh, listen," interrupted Jane, all excitement. "I believe I can read
this cipher. The number of letters in the word in big type at the
beginning of the advertisement is the key. See, this word here is
'remember'--that has eight letters. Read every eighth word in this
advertisement. I've underlined them."
Fleck took the paper quickly from her hand and he and Carter bent
eagerly over it to see if her theory was correct.
Please, that our new paste, Dento, will
_stop_ decay of your teeth. Sound teeth
are _passports_ to good health and comfort.
No good _business_ man can risk ill health.
It is _closely_ allied with failure. The
teeth if not _watched_ are quickly gone.
A genuine, safe, pleasing paste for the
teeth, prepared and sold only by the
Auer Dental Company, New York.
"Stop passports business, closely watched," repeated Fleck aloud. "That
certainly makes sense and fits the facts, too. In the last few days we
have drawn the net closely around a gang of supposed Scandinavians who
have been busy supplying passports to suspicious-looking travelers.
Let's see the other advertisement."
Excitedly the three of them read it together as Fleck underscored every
Forget it is _imperative_ for one and _all_
to use cleansing _agents_ on teeth that
_leave_ no bad results. "_Ship_ more of
that _wonder_-working paste immediately.
_Workers_, employers, wives, all _ready_ to
commend it. _Friday's_ supply gone,"
writes a druggist, to whom a big shipment
was made last week.
A genuine, safe, pleasing paste for the
teeth, prepared and sold only by the
Auer Dental Company, New York.
"Imperative all agents leave ship. Wonder-workers ready Friday," read
Fleck. "That's surely a message, a warning to Germany's agents to get
off some ship or ships before they are destroyed. You, Miss Strong, have
heard old Otto talk about the wonder-workers, whatever they are, being
nearly ready. I guess he means bombs--bombs to blow up American
transports. This message says they will be ready Friday."
"And to-morrow's Friday," said Jane.
THE SEALED PACKET
"Is this Miss Strong?"
Jane, her face blanching, held the receiver in wavering hands for a
moment before she could muster courage to answer. She had recognized
Frederic Hoff's voice speaking. What could he want with her now?
"It is Miss Strong," she managed to answer.
"This is Frederic Hoff. May I come in for a moment? It is most
Again Jane hesitated. Frederic was the last person in the world she felt
like seeing just at this moment. Only five minutes before she had
arrived home from Chief Fleck's office. She was under orders to hold
herself in readiness to start immediately for the scene of yesterday's
accident. That this trip, unless their plans miscarried, would
inevitably result in the exposure and disgrace of both the Hoffs she
felt morally certain. To face on friendly terms the man whose downfall
she was plotting, the man who only a few hours before had told her that
he loved her, seemed a task far beyond her endurance, a situation too
tragic for her to cope with.
Duty, her duty to her country, her honor, her patriotism, her affection
for her soldier brother, all bade her mask her feelings and seek one
more opportunity of leading Hoff to betray himself in conversation if
that were possible. Yet, to her own amazement and horror, her heart
protested vigorously against such action. Harassed as she was by
conflicting emotions, worn out by the trying experiences that had been
hers the last few days, she realized at last that she was really in love
with Hoff. The throb of joy that she had experienced at the sound of his
voice, the thrill that came to her each time she saw him, the delight
she found in his presence, the fact that despite all the circumstances,
she wanted to be near him, to be with him, convinced her against her
will and judgment that her heart was his. In vain she marshalled the
damning facts against him. She tried to remember only the expression of
murderous hate she had seen on his face the night that her predecessor,
the other K-19, had been murdered. She tried to think of him only as a
treacherous spy, an enemy of her country forever plotting to destroy
Americans, yet she could not. However base and treacherous and low her
reason told her Frederic Hoff must be, her refractory heart persisted in
beating faster at the prospect of his coming.
Hitherto not much given to self-analysis, she now found herself
wondering at herself. What could be the matter with her? Why must she
love this rascal? Why could she not fall in love with some decent,
clean, patriotic young American, with some man like Thomas Dean?
Chauffeur though he was now pretending to be, she knew that he was a
college man, well-bred, and traveled. She knew, too, that Dean was in
love with her. For him she had a sincere liking, great admiration even,
and toward him now she was experiencing that feeling of sympathy a woman
always has for the man she cannot love. But her feeling toward Dean, she
classified as only that of friendship, nothing at all like the
passionate affection that was rapidly drawing her closer and closer
Dared she see him now? Might not her love for him overcome her high
desire to be of service to her country? Might she not be led by her
unruly heart into betraying to him the fact that he was in the most
Yet she must see him, she told herself. Perhaps this very day he might
be arrested and imprisoned. She might never again have the opportunity
of seeing him alone and of talking with him. Into her troubled brain
came a daring thought. Perhaps it was not too late, even yet, to turn
him from his evil course. Was there, she wishfully wondered, any
possibility of her leading him, through his love for her, to forsake his
comrades, even to betray them? No, she admitted to herself, that was a
preposterous idea. He was too dominating, too forceful, too determined,
to be influenced to anything against his will.
"May I come in, please?" he kept insisting over the 'phone.
"Only for a minute," she answered tremulously. "I'm going out soon. I
have an engagement."
"I'll come right over. I will not keep you long."
As she awaited his arrival, subconsciously desirous of looking her best
in his presence, she stopped almost mechanically before her mirror to
adjust her hair, letting him wait for her for a few minutes.
He sprang forward to meet her as she entered the room where he was, his
face beaming with delight at the sight of her.
"Jane," he cried, with a volume of meaning in the monosyllable, as
seizing her hand, he held it tightly and gazed earnestly into her face.
Bravely she tried to meet his gaze, to read in his face if she could the
object of his unexpected visit, but her eyes fell before his, and the
hot blood surged into her cheeks. Within her raged a desperate battle
between her head and heart. Mingled with her unwelcome quickening of the
pulse at his approach and admiration for his audacity in coming to her
when he must know that she knew what he was, there was also an
overwhelming sense of futile rage that he, a scheming German plotter,
dared intrude his presence into an American home.
"I'm glad to see you appear no worse for your accident," he said,
releasing her hand at last. "You got home all right, without attracting
any one's notice?"
"Oh, yes," she answered, trying to make her reply seem wholly
indifferent and disinterested.
"Your chauffeur is all right, too," he went on. "I telephoned this
morning. He had already left the doctor's. There's nothing more the
matter with him than a broken arm and a scalp wound. That's fortunate,
"Very fortunate," she admitted.
All at once as they stood there there seemed to have arisen between them
an invisible, impenetrable barrier. They faced each other wordlessly,
each embarrassed by the knowledge of the secret gulf that was between
them. Hoff was the first to recover from it.
"Come," he said, "sit down. There is something I wish to say to
you,--something of the utmost importance, Jane."
Still struggling with her emotions, Jane allowed him to place a chair
for her and seated herself, striving all the while to crush back into
her heart the warmth of feeling toward him that always overwhelmed her
in his presence, endeavoring to present to him a mask of cold
indifference. Yet her curiosity, as well as her affections, had been
greatly stirred by his remark. What was it that he was about to say to
her? Did he intend, in spite of the insurmountable obstacles between
them, dared he, ask her to marry him? Tremblingly she waited for what he
had to say.
"Jane," he said, "you know that I love you. I am confident, too, that
you love me."
"I don't love you," she forced her unwilling lips to say. "I can't. When
our country is at war, when she needs men, brave men, how could any true
American girl love any man who stayed at home, who idled about the
"Girl," his voice grew suddenly stern and commanding, softening a little
as he repeated her name, "Jane, dear, let me finish. I love you. There
are grave reasons--all-important reasons--why I may not now ask you to
be my wife."
"I never could be your wife," she cried desperately, "the wife of a--"
The word died in her throat. She could not bring herself to tell him,
the man she loved, the thing she knew he was.
"My Jane," he said, wholly unheeding her impassioned protest, "you know
little yet of what life means in this great world of ours. You, here in
your parents' home, sheltered, protected, inexperienced, have not the
knowledge nor the means of judging me. You must take me on faith, on the
faith of your love for me. For a woman, life holds but two great
treasures, two loves--her husband's and her children's. With a man it is
different. Love is his, too, but there is something more, something
bigger--duty. Here in your country--"
Even in her distress she caught his phrase "here in _your_ country" and
turned ghastly white. Always before in talking with her he had spoken of
himself as an American. Did he realize, she wondered, that he had at
last betrayed himself to her? Was he about to strip the mask from
himself and his activities at last, and in the face of it all expect
her, Jane Strong, to admit that she loved him?
"Here in your country," he went on placidly, "women forced by economic
conditions have been driven from home into business, into politics, into
office-holding, even into war activities. Longing for the clinging arms
of little children they are striving to forget in assuming some part in
the affairs that belong properly to men. But to the true woman love must
ever mean more than duty, more than country. Those are words for men. A
woman, if she would find happiness, must follow her heart, must forsake
all for the man she loves. A woman's duty is only to the man she loves,
just as a man's duty is to be true to himself, to his country."
"But," she cried, "you told me you were American, that you were born
"Jane," he persisted, with an impatient gesture, "we will not discuss
that now. I love you. You must trust me in spite of everything. I know
you will. You must. I can answer no questions. I can make no
explanations. I can only say I love you. That must suffice."
"No, no," she protested, almost sobbing.
"I came here to-day," he went on calmly, "to ask a favor of you."
"A favor," she cried.
Calming herself she forced herself to look into his face. There was
something so monstrously unbelievable about his audacity that she could
hardly believe her ears. What sort of a credulous stupid creature was
he, she angrily asked herself, that in one breath he could all but
confess to her that he was a spy and in the next beseech her to do him a
favor. Yet there came to her now a remembrance of her duty to her
country. She felt that she must mask her feelings toward him, that if
she was to be of service she must endeavor bravely to lead him on. She
must try to induce him to confide in her. Hard as her task might be,
what was it compared to the work her brother and those other brave
American boys had undertaken facing the fire of death-dealing guns,
facing the terrible gas attacks, living for days and weeks in those
terrible trenches? Reinforced by a sense of duty, she made a pitiable
effort at cordiality as she asked:
"What is it you wish of me?"
From one of his pockets he had brought forth a small packet which he
held out to her. In spite of her agitation she forced herself to study
it observingly, making note that it was tied with strong cord and sealed
in several places with red wax. Curiously, too, she noted that on it was
written her own name.
"Jane," said Hoff, "to-night I am going away. I may be absent for only a
day or two if all goes well, but it is possible I may never come
back,--may never be able to see you again."
She caught her breath sharply. There was the solemnity of finality in
his tones. Where was he going? What might happen to him? She realized
that the journey he was about to make was in connection with the plot
that she and Chief Fleck were seeking to uncover. Evidently he
anticipated peril in what he was about to undertake. Suppose he should
be trapped in the commission of some act inimical to America's welfare?
What would happen to him? He would be arrested, of course. More than
likely he would be sent to prison. He might even be shot as a spy. What
if she were the one responsible for his meeting a disgraceful death?
How could she go on with it? She must warn him. She must try to persuade
him to give up his plans. She tried hard to steady herself, to think
calmly. She must listen to every word he was saying and try to
"This little packet is for you," he went on. "I want you to keep it
safely. In case anything happens, in the event that within one month I
have not returned and you have heard nothing of me, I wish you to open
it and keep what it contains. Promise me that you will do what I ask."
In a panic of indecision she got up from her chair, trying to frame a
score of questions, but none of them succeeded in passing the barrier of
her trembling lips.
"Promise me," he said softly yet impellingly, as he placed the little
packet in her hand and closed her fingers over it.
"I promise," she whispered, hardly knowing what she said.
Quickly he caught her in his powerful arms. For just a second he held
her there, his face close to hers, his blue eyes burning into hers with
a steady inscrutable gaze as if he was trying to read in them the love
her lips had refused to speak.
Then, so quickly that it was all over before she quite realized what had
happened, he had kissed her passionately full on the lips and was gone.
Overcome with the lassitude which follows emotional crises, trembling in
every limb, weak as from a long illness, the girl sank back into a
chair, still clutching in her hand the sealed packet Hoff had entrusted
to her. Minute after minute she sat there with staring eyes, with heart
beating madly, with her whole body racked with the torment of
Slowly she lifted the packet and turned it over and over, wondering what
it could possibly contain, questioning herself as to what could have
been Frederic Hoff's motive in entrusting it to her. Was there, she
wondered, under those seals, some evidence of his guilt and treachery
that he had not dared to leave behind him? He must have known that she
suspected him and was seeking to entrap him. Had he, knowing all this,
but sensing the love for him that he had kindled in her, taken advantage
of it and extorted from her her promise to keep it safe?
Wherein lay her duty now? More than ever she was certain that Frederic
Hoff was on some hazardous mission for the enemy. He had all but
admitted his nationality to her. Her own country's welfare demanded that
the Hoffs' plans should be discovered and thwarted. Should she, or
should she not open the package? Possibly it contained some secret code,
some clue to the dastardly activities in which he and his uncle
But her heart rebelled. She recalled what he had said, that she must
take him on trust. The memory of his burning kiss, of that last earnest
look he had given her, refused to be forgotten. Whatever he was, however
base the work in which he was engaged, she knew down deep in her heart
that Frederic Hoff had been earnestly sincere when he had said that he
As she debated with herself what she ought to do, the telephone rang
again. It was Chief Fleck.
"Can you meet me at the 110th Street subway station in half an hour?" he
asked. "I'll be waiting in my car. Arrange it, if you can without
arousing your family's suspicion, to be away all night."
"I will be there," she answered.
As she turned away from the telephone with sudden resolve she thrust the
sealed packet, still unopened, into the bosom of her gown.
"I promised him," she said almost fiercely. "I'll keep my promise. That
much at least I owe our love."
THE MOUNTAIN'S SECRET
In a turmoil of mental anxiety Jane waited the arrival of Chief Fleck at
the place he had designated. She was still badly wrought up by the scene
through which she had just passed with Frederic. There were moments when
her heart insisted that, regardless of the despicable crimes that were
laid at his door, she should forsake everything for him, for the man she
loved. Had there been in her mind the slightest possible doubt as to his
guilt she might indeed have wavered, but the evidence of his treachery
seemed too manifest! She loathed herself for caring for him and felt it
her sacred duty to go on with her work of aiding the government in
trying to entrap both of them; yet how could she ever do it?
As she waited she debated with herself whether or not to tell Chief
Fleck what had passed between herself and Frederic. After all, why
should she? That was her own secret, not the country's. If she stifled
her love, and gave her best efforts to aiding the other operatives in
running down the conspirators, what more could be expected of her?
Certainly she was not going to tell any one of the sealed packet
Frederic had entrusted to her. She had promised him she would keep it
safe. Surely there could be no harm in that, yet the little parcel,
still in the bosom of her gown where she had thrust it, seemed to be
burning her flesh and searing itself into her very soul.
In strong contrast with her own spirit of martyrdom was Fleck's manner.
Never before had she seen him in such high spirits as he was when he
drew up before the subway station in a low car built for speed. On the
seat beside the chauffeur was a young man whom she recognized as another
of the operatives. As Fleck swung the door of the tonneau open for her
she noticed lying on the floor under a rug several rifles and drew back
"Come on, Miss Strong," he cried gaily. "Don't be afraid of them. We
may be glad we have them before we return from our hunting expedition."
"But," she asked hesitatingly as she took her seat beside him, "you
don't expect to shoot these men--without a trial."
Her heart seemed torn in anguish as she sensed anew the peril that lay
ahead for Frederic. Misgivings that she might be unable to fulfil her
task seized her, and she was smitten with reproach for her own conduct
toward him. Why, an hour ago, when there was still opportunity, had she
not warned Frederic? If he were really sincere in the affection he
professed for her maybe she might have persuaded him, if not to betray
his comrades, at least to abandon them and escape from the country. Yet
even now her reason told her that any plea she might have made would
have been worse than futile. Above and beyond his love for her she
understood that he held sacred what he conceived to be his duty, his
misguided duty to his erring country. It was too late now for regrets,
for repentance, too late for her to do anything but to try to serve her
country, cost her what it might, yet anxiously she awaited Chief
Fleck's reply to her question.
"Wouldn't I shoot them all on sight, gladly, the damned spies," he
responded. "That's the great trouble with this country, Miss Strong.
We're too soft-hearted and chivalrous. The Germans realize that war and
sentiment have no place together. If killing babies and destroying
churches will in their opinion help them win the war they do it without
compunction. The civilized world decided that poison gas was too brutal
and dastardly for use, even against an enemy, but that didn't stop the
Huns from using it. They put duty to Germany above all else, and if
their country expects it are ready to rob, murder, use bombs, betray
friends, do anything and everything, comforted by the knowledge that
even if we do catch them at it here in this country all we will do to
them will be put them in jail for a year or two. If I had my way I'd
shoot them all on sight."
"Without any evidence--without trying them?" questioned Jane.
"Without trial, yes--without evidence, no; but in the case of these
Hoffs we have evidence enough to stand them both up and shoot them."
"Have you learned more?" she asked quickly. "Is Frederic, too, involved
with his uncle?"
He shot an appraising glance at her. He had been inclined to regard
Dean's suspicion that she was in love with the younger Hoff as the mere
figment of jealousy, but where two young persons of the opposite sex are
thrown together, there is always the possibility of romance. Jane
colored a little under his searching glance, yet what he read in her
face seemed to satisfy his doubts, and he made up his mind to take her
fully into his confidence.
"Thanks to your quick wit in reading those advertisements," he said, "we
have now a fairly complete index of the Hoffs' activities in the last
six months. I have been spending the last two hours in going over all
the Dento advertisements that have appeared. For weeks they have been
sending out a regular series of bulletins."
"Bulletins about what?" asked Jane.
"About everything of interest to the secret enemies of our country:
explanations of where and how to get false passports, detailed
statements of the sailings of our transports, directions for obtaining
materials for making bombs, instructions for blowing up munition plants,
suggestions for smuggling rubber, orders for fomenting strikes. They
even had the nerve to use the name of William Foxley, signed to a
testimonial for Dento."
"Who is William Foxley?" asked Jane curiously.
"In the Wilhelmstrasse code that was in use when Von Bernstorff was
still in this country; in sending their wireless messages they made
frequent use of proper names which had a code meaning. Boy-ed was
'Richard Houston,' Von Papen was 'Thomas Hoggson' and Bolo Pascha was
always mentioned as 'St. Regis,' In this same code 'William Foxley'
always meant the German Foreign Office."
"But surely you did not learn this from the advertisements?"
"Not at all. Hugo Schmidt, who was reputed to be the paymaster of the
gang, was caught trying to burn a copy of this code at the German Club.
With the records of their wireless messages our government managed to
reconstruct the whole code. The use of a word or two from this code in
these advertisements is most significant. It shows that whoever prepared
these advertisements was high in the confidence of the German
government. Only the very topnotch spies are likely to be permitted to
know the diplomatic code."
"And you think, then, that Otto Hoff may be the head of the conspirators
in this country?" said Jane.
"Not Otto--Frederic," said Fleck quickly. "The young man, I am certain,
was the director, probably sent out from Berlin after the country became
too hot for Von Papen and Boy-ed. The old man, I believe, merely carried
out his orders. I doubt even if they are uncle and nephew."
"I think you are wrong about that," protested Jane. "Whenever I was
listening over the dictagraph it was always the old man who was so
bitter against America. It was he who talked about the wonder-workers
and the necessity for haste. I never heard Frederic say
anything--anything disloyal, that is."
"The fact that he knew enough to keep his mouth closed shows that he is
the more intelligent of the two. Don't forget, too, that at times he
even dared to don the uniform of a British officer. You saw him
yourself. Undoubtedly he is the more dangerous of the pair."
"But who read these advertisements?" asked Jane, seeking to change the
subject. "For whom were the bulletins intended?"
"It was one of their ways of keeping in communication with their
thousands of secret agents all over this country. I wouldn't be
surprised if occasionally these advertisements were printed in Texas
papers and shipped over the border into Mexico. We have been watching
the mails and the telephone and telegraph lines for months, yet all the
while Mexico has been sending messages across, telling the U-boats
everything they needed to know. We never thought of checking up the
advertising in papers in the Mexican mail."
"But what about the messages old Mr. Hoff left in the bookstores? Was
that part of the plan, too?"
"It may have been simply a duplicate method of communication in case
the other failed. The Germans here know that they are constantly watched
and take every precaution. We'll land that girl as soon as we have the
Hoffs safe behind the bars, and then we'll soon see if Carter's
dachshund theory was right."
"But who," asked Jane, "is the spy in our navy? Who signalled the Hoffs'
apartment and supplied them with the news about our transports? Was it
"Probably," said Chief Fleck carelessly, "that is not my end of the
work. It is up to the Naval Intelligence Bureau to clean out the spies
in the navy. I'm after the boss-spy. After we land him it will be easier
to get the small fry. A defiant German prisoner once boasted to me that
Germany had a man on every American ship, in every American regiment,
and in every department in Washington. I suspect it comes pretty near
being true. A country that has so many citizens with German names and
such an enormous population of German descent has its hands full."
As they talked the chief's car had crossed the ferry, and turning north
through Englewood, was heading rapidly in the direction of West Point.
"Where are we going now?" Jane ventured to ask. "To the place where I
was yesterday--where we had the accident?"
"Not directly," the chief replied. "I sent Carter and some men up there
ahead of us to do some reconnoitering. I'll get in touch with Carter at
the restaurant at the State Park. He was to call me up. We are nearly
As the car swung into the park and stopped before the entrance of the
two-story restaurant building, Fleck sprang hastily out and started for
the telephone but stopped abruptly at the sight of a young man with
bandaged head and with one arm in a sling who rose from the concrete
steps of the building to greet him.
"Why, Dean," he exclaimed in amazement, "what are you doing here? How
did you get here?"
"You don't think I was going to be left out at the finish," laughed the
"But your injuries, your arm--"
"Both all right, as right as they'll be for several weeks."
"But how did you know we were coming here? How did you manage to get
"Carter stopped on his way out to make sure about the road. I wanted to
come with him, but there was no room in his car. He refused to bring me,
anyhow. I managed to worm out of him what your plans were, and the
doctor's jitney did the rest."
"Well," growled the chief, with simulated indignation, though secretly
delighted with Dean's show of spirit, "I suppose there's nothing else to
do but to take you along. Climb in there beside Miss Strong."
As Dean approached the car Jane rose in amazement.
"Oh, Thomas, Mr. Dean," she cried, "I'm so glad to see you. I was afraid
yesterday that you had been badly hurt."
"It was a close shave for both of us," he admitted, flushing with
delight at the warmth of her greeting, "but what are you doing here? The
Chief had no business to bring you on a trip like this."
All his affection for the girl had revived at this unexpected sight of
her, and with a lover's righteous anxiety he resented Fleck's having
exposed her to the probable perils of this expedition to the enemy's
"They needed me," she said simply, "to show them the way."
"That need exists no longer," he protested, "since I am here. The Chief
must send you back."
"Don't be absurd," she objected warmly.
"But it is no place for a woman," he insisted doggedly, kicking
meaningly at the rifles on the floor of the car. "There may be a fight.
These men are desperate and dangerous and more than likely will resist
any attempt to arrest them."
"I want to be there to see it if they do," said Jane calmly.
"Please, won't you, for my sake," he begged, "go back home or at least
wait here for us?"
"I won't," said the girl doggedly.
"I'll ask the Chief to send you back."
"Don't you dare," she retorted hotly, resenting his air of protection
She was glad for the presence of the two other men in the car. She
sensed that it was only their being there that kept Dean from making a
scene. There was nothing in his manner toward her now of the obsequious
chauffeur. While she admitted to herself that there was no longer the
necessity for his continuing in his fictitious character she strongly
resented his loverlike jealousy for her welfare and welcomed the chief's
return, for she saw from his face, as he came running up to the car,
that he had received some sort of news that had highly delighted him.
Almost before he was in the car he had given orders to start, leaving no
opportunity for Dean to make his threatened protest against
"I got Carter on the 'phone," Fleck explained hurriedly as they swung
out of the park and turned northward. "He has succeeded in locating the
place the Hoffs go every week. It is about three miles back of? the
road, over toward the river from the place where you two had that
accident yesterday. Away of? there in the woods in a deserted locality
is a sort of club, the members of which are Austrians or Germans. They
have given it out that they are health enthusiasts and mountain
climbers, 'Friends of the Air,' they call themselves."
"Who are they really? What are they doing there?" asked Jane
"Carter has not had time yet to learn much about them. The place was
some sort of a health resort or sanitarium that failed several years
ago. Last summer it seems to have been taken over by this bunch of
Germans. At times there are only two or three of them there, but
recently the number has increased. Carter thinks there must be a dozen
men there now."
"How did he locate the place?" asked Dean.
"Carter is a real detective," said the chief enthusiastically. "He
reasoned it out that where there were Germans there must be beer. He
scouted along the main road until he found a wayside saloon where, as he
had shrewdly suspected, they got their liquid supplies. Prom the
proprietor of the place and the hangers-on he had no trouble in getting
the information he wanted without arousing their suspicions."
"Where is Mr. Carter now?" asked Jane.
"He's waiting for us a few miles up the road."
"He has only four men with him, hasn't he?" questioned Dean.
"And there are four of us here."
"Three and a half," said the chief, motioning to Dean's bandaged arm.
"It's my left arm," he retorted. "I can handle a revolver, at least,
with my good arm."
"And I can shoot, too," boasted Jane; "that makes nine of us."
"Nine of us against twelve of the enemy," said the chief thoughtfully.
"It looks like a busy evening."
"And don't forget," warned Jane, "that the Hoffs are coming up this
evening. At least young Mr. Hoff told me this morning that he was going
away this evening. That makes two more on the other side."
"And one of them," muttered Fleck, "a mighty dangerous man."
THE HOUSE IN THE WOODS
At last they had reached their goal, the place which the two spy
suspects undoubtedly had been in the habit of visiting regularly every
week for months past.
Sheltered by a great rock and the underbrush about it, Jane, with Fleck
and Thomas Dean, peered eagerly out at a dingy, weather-beaten frame
structure which neighborhood gossip had told them was the sheltering
place of the "Friends of the Air." In its outward appearance at least,
Jane decided, it was disappointingly unmysterious. It looked to her
merely like a cheap summer boarding-house that had gone long untenanted.
There was a two-story main building, cheaply constructed and almost
without ornament, sadly crying for new paint, and the usual outbuildings
found about such places in the more remote country districts.
Still from Chief Fleck's manner she was certain that he regarded their
achievement in locating the place as of the highest importance. They had
run their two automobiles noiselessly up the lane leading from the main
road until they were perhaps half a mile distant from the house and then
had concealed them in the woods near-by, being careful to obliterate all
traces of the wheel tracks where they had left the lane. Making a detour
among the trees they had reached their present position not more than
three hundred yards away from the buildings. They had carried the rifles
with them, and these now were close at hand, hidden under the log on
which the three of them were sitting. Carter, with the other men, under
Fleck's orders, had divided themselves into scouting parties and had
crept away through the woods to study their surroundings at still closer
range while the waning afternoon light permitted.
At first glance one might have been inclined to believe the buildings
untenanted. There seemed to be no one stirring about the place, and some
of the unshuttered windows on the second floor were broken. The only
indications of recent occupation were a pile of kegs at the rear of the
house and near-by a heap of freshly opened tin cans. Near one of the
larger outbuildings, too, was a pile of chips and sawdust.
"There does not seem to be any one about," whispered Jane. "What do you
suppose they do here?"
"I can't imagine yet," said Fleck with an impatient shake of his head.
"The fact that this house is important enough for the Hoffs to visit
once a week makes it important for us to cautiously and carefully
investigate everything about it. It may be a secret wireless plant away
off here in the woods where no one would think of looking for it. It
might be a bomb factory where their chemists manufacture the bombs and
explosives with which they are constantly trying to wreck our munition
plants and communication lines. Perhaps it is just a rendezvous where
their various agents, the important ones engaged in their damnable work
of destruction, come secretly to get their orders from the Hoffs and to
receive payment for their hellishness accomplished."
"It's all so funny, so perfectly absurd," said Jane with a nervous
"Absurd," cried Fleck indignantly, "what do you mean? It's frightfully
"Of course, I understand," Jane hastened to say. "I was just thinking,
though, how funny we are here in America, especially in the big cities.
We know nothing whatever about our neighbors, about the people right
next door to us. In one apartment we'll be doing all we can to help win
the war, and in the apartment next door the people will be plotting and
scheming to help Germany win, and it is only by accident we find out
about it. Take my own father and mother. They haven't the slightest
suspicion of the people next door. They would hardly believe me if I
told them the Hoffs were German spies. They see them every day in the
elevator. Young Mr. Hoff has been in our apartment several times. My
mother has met him and talked with him. I was just thinking how amazed
and horrified she will be when she hears about it and learns what I have
"You are perfectly right," said Fleck soberly. "We are entirely too
careless here in America about our acquaintances and neighbors. We know
that we are decent and respectable, and we're apt to take it for
granted that everybody else is. We don't mind our neighbors' business
enough. Nobody in a New York apartment house ever bothers to know who
his neighbors are or what their business is, so long as they present a
respectable appearance. I know New York people who live on the same
floor with two ex-convicts and have lived there for three years without
suspecting it. We should have here in America some system of
registration as they have in Germany. Tenants and travelers ought to be
required to file reports with the police, giving their occupation and
other details. If that plan were in use here enemy spies would lack most
of the opportunities we have been giving them."
"Yes," said Dean, "you are right. I've lived in Germany. Over there a
crook of any sort can hardly move without the police knowing it. Their
system certainly has its good points."
"It surely has," Fleck agreed. "If the Prussians' character were only
equal to their intelligence they would be the most wonderful people in
the world, but they are rotten clear through. They have no conception
of honor as we understand it. Only the other day I read of a Prussian
officer who led his men in an attack on a chateau, guiding them by plans
of the place he had made himself while being entertained in the chateau
as a guest before the war."
"Don't you think any of them have a sense of honor?" asked Jane in a
Her mind had reverted, as she found it frequently doing, to Frederic
Hoff and the sealed packet he had entrusted to her. He had professed to
love her and had demanded that she trust him. Was it, she wondered, all
a base pretense on his part? Was he--for Germany's sake--taking
advantage of her affection for him to make her the unwitting custodian
of some secret too perilous for him to carry about with him? Perhaps
that little parcel she was carrying in the bosom of her gown contained
the code he and his uncle used? Had it not been for Dean's presence she
might have been tempted to take Fleck into her confidence and tell him
of the peculiar incident, though in spite of all she knew about him she
felt that Frederic Hoff's feeling for her was real, and that toward her
he always would show only respect and honor, as he always had done
hitherto; and yet--
Before the chief had time to answer her question Dean with a whispered
"hist" pointed to a path in the rear of the buildings they were
watching. Behind the house two rugged hills, their sides of precipitous
rock so steep that they hardly afforded a foothold, came down close
together, making a V-shaped cleft through which a narrow path ran in the
direction of the river. Looking toward this cleft to which Dean was
pointing they now saw a group of workmen approaching the house.
All of them were in the garb of mechanics, yet as they approached in
single file down the path, the quick eye of the chief noted that they
were keeping step.
"They've all of them seen service," he muttered to himself, "either in
prison or in the German army."
Some of them carried kits of tools, and they walked with the air of
fatigue that results from a day of hard physical work. They seemed to
have no suspicion as yet that they were under observation, for as they
walked they chatted among themselves, the sound of their German
gutturals reaching the watchers, but unfortunately not distinctly enough
to be audible. Dean was busy counting them.
"There are fourteen," he announced, "two more than we were expecting to
"At what do you suppose they are working?" asked Jane curiously.
"Here comes Carter," replied Fleck. "Perhaps he can tell us. His face
shows that he has learned something."
Carter, crawling rapidly but silently through the underbrush, approached
breathlessly, his sweaty, begrimed countenance ablaze with excitement.
"What's up?" asked Fleck, as soon as he was within hearing.
"My God, Chief," he gasped, "they've got three big aeroplanes out there
on a plateau overlooking the river--three of them all keyed up and ready
"Friends of the Air," muttered Fleck; "so that's what it means."
"They've evidently smuggled all the material up and built the three
planes right here," Carter went on. "I watched them putting on the
finishing touches and testing the guy-wires. There is a machine shop,
too, rigged up in one of those outbuildings. The thing that gets me is
how they got the engines here. All the planes are equipped with powerful
"If there are traitors in the army and navy, why not in the aeroplane
factories, too?" suggested Fleck. "A spy in the shipping department
could easily change the label on even a Liberty motor intended for one
of Uncle Sam's flying fields. Even when it didn't turn up where and when
it was expected, it would take government red tape three months to find
out what had become of the missing motors."
"These machines"--said Jane suddenly, "they must be the 'wonder-workers'
old Mr. Hoff was always talking about."
"And that last advertisement we read," Dean reminded them, "announced
that the wonder-workers would be ready Friday. It looks as if we got
here not a minute too soon."
"You bet we didn't," said Carter. "Every one of those three planes is
fairly loaded down with big bombs, scores of them."
"To bomb New York," said Fleck soberly; "that's their plan. Zeppelins
for England, big guns to shell Paris, bombs from the air for New York.
It's part of their campaign to spread frightfulness, to terrorize the
world. Undoubtedly that is the reason Berlin sent Frederic Hoff over
here, to superintend the destruction of the metropolis. There have been
whispers for months and months that the city some day was to be bombed,
but we never were able to discover their origin."
"And not a single anti-aircraft gun or anything in the whole city to
stop them, is there?" cried Jane. "Wouldn't it be terrible?"
Fleck smiled grimly.
"Any foolhardy German who tries to bomb New York from the air has a big
surprise coming to him--a lot of big surprises. The war department may
not have been doing much advertising, but it has not been idle."
"Then we have some anti-aircraft guns!" cried Jane delightedly. "I never
heard anything about them."
"That would be telling government secrets," said Fleck, smiling
mysteriously, "but I'd just like to see them try it. I have sort of a
notion to let them start their bombing."
"Oh, no, we mustn't," Jane insisted. "We mustn't let those aeroplanes
ever start. Can't we do something right away to cripple them?"
"There's plenty of time," the chief assured her. "It is best for us to
wait until after dark. The early morning would be ideal time for an
aerial attack on the city, when everybody is helpless and asleep.
There's generally a fog over the river and harbor, too, before sunrise
at this season of the year, and that might help them to mask their
movements. It would take an aeroplane less than an hour to reach the
city from here, so that there is no likelihood of their starting until
long after midnight. That gives us plenty of time, and besides we must
wait until the Hoffs arrive."
"That will make two more--sixteen of them against our nine," warned
"We cannot help it how many of them there are," said Fleck. "It is of
vital importance for us to know just what their plans are. It is
unlikely that they will post guards to-night in this secluded spot,
where they have been at work in safety for months. As soon as it is
dark we can smash the aeroplanes."
"That will be easy," said Carter. "I know something about aeroplanes.
Cut a couple of wires, and they are out of business. Sills, one of my
men, is posted on bombs, and he'll know just how to fix the fuses to
render them useless."
"What's more," said Fleck, "if I understand German thoroughness, they
will go over their final plans in detail to make sure that everything is
understood. The darkness will let us slip up closer to the house, and we
may be able to overhear what they say. Don't forget, too, that our main
job is to catch the Hoffs red-handed."
"That's right," said Dean. "They are the brains of the plot. These other
fellows are just workmen taking orders."
"I'm puzzled," said Fleck, "to know what they plan to do with the
aeroplanes after the bombing has taken place. There is not one chance in
a thousand of their being able to return here in safety without
discovery. It will be sure death for the aviators that take up those
With a shudder Jane recalled what Frederic had said to her only a few
hours ago as they parted--that he was going away and might never return.
Was this what he had meant? Was he, Frederic, to be one of the foolhardy
three who proposed to forfeit their lives in this desperate attempt to
deal destruction from the air on a sleeping city, to wreck innocent
homes, to cripple and maim and destroy helpless babies and women? She
could not, would not believe it of him. That he had the courage and
daring to undertake such a perilous task she did not doubt. She
realized, too, that the controlling motive of all his actions was his
high sense of duty toward his country, and yet in spite of all that she
had learned about the plots in which she was enmeshed, her heart refused
to believe that he ever could bring himself to participate in such
wanton frightfulness. She recalled the spirit of mercy that he had shown
toward herself and Thomas Dean after the accident as contrasted with the
brutal indifference of his uncle. She kept hoping against hope that
something might happen to prevent his arriving here. Devoutly she wished
that she might awake and find that it was all a terrible mistake, a
hideous unreality, and that the "Friends of the Air" were not in any way
associated with the Hoffs.
Yet her reason told her it must all be true, terribly, infamously true,
and that he was one of them, perhaps the leader of them.
One by one the members of the various scouting parties had come creeping
in through the forest. All of them verified what Carter had already
reported. One man, more venturesome than the others, had even dared to
creep close up to the rear of the house and had seen through the window
the workmen, gathered about their supper of beer and sausages, toasting
the Kaiser with the unanimity of a set formality.
As the light waned, secured from observation by the undergrowth between
their position and the house, they sat there discussing plans of action,
selecting while the light still permitted the most advantageous posts
from which they could make a concerted rush on the plotters. Fleck was
insistent that they should do nothing to betray their presence until
after the Hoffs had arrived, and Dean once more voiced his protest
against Jane taking part in the attack. "I will be of far more use than
you with your crippled arm," she resentfully insisted. "I can handle a
revolver as well as any man, and a rifle, too, if necessary."
"Dean is right," Fleck decided. "It is no work for a woman. Here is an
automatic, Miss Strong. You will stay here until after we have rounded
them up. If we get the worst of it, which is not likely to happen, make
your way to the automobile and telephone the commandant at West Point."
Reluctantly Jane assented. She realized that further protest was
useless. Fleck was in command, and his orders must be obeyed
unquestioningly if their plans for the capture of the plotters were to
be successfully carried out.
Presently they heard in the distance the sound of an automobile
approaching, and soon they could distinguish its lights as it negotiated
the rough, winding woodland road that led to the house. A toot from the
horn as it arrived brought the men within the house tumbling out the
front door with huzzas of greeting for their leaders, and Fleck observed
that all the men as they came out automatically raised their hands
"Ex-German soldiers, every one of them," he muttered.
As the Hoffs got out of the car a shaft of light from the opened front
door threw the figures of the new arrivals into sharp relief, and Jane
saw, with a shudder of terror, that Frederic was dressed in an aviator's
costume. There was no longer any doubt left in her mind that he was one
of those going to certain death, and a dry sob choked her.
The Hoffs passed within the house, and the door was closed.
"Now," cried Fleck, "to your stations, men. Each of you take a rifle.
You stay here, Miss Strong. Come on, Carter."
THE ATTACK ON THE HOUSE
In accordance with instructions already issued two of Fleck's men rushed
for the front of the house, where with rifles ready they stood guard,
while the others took cover in the shadow of one of the outbuildings a
few feet distant from the rear entrance.
Apparently the plotters had been so long undisturbed in their mountain
fastness that they had ceased to take even the most ordinary precautions
against surprise. So far as could be discovered they had posted no
guards over the aeroplanes and their deadly cargo, nor at either of the
two doors to the main building. Nevertheless Fleck, as he crept
stealthily up to the building with Carter at his side, took out his
automatic and held it in readiness, and Carter followed his example.
There was no moon to reveal their movements as they approached the rear
of the house. The evening was warm, and one of the windows had been left
open. Noiselessly they crept up to it and looked within. It opened into
a large room used as a dining hall, where they could see all of the men
clustered about one of the tables, at the head of which sat old Otto
Hoff with Frederic at his side. On the table before him was what
appeared to be a rough map or blueprint. Frederic and five of the other
men, Fleck observed, now wore aviation costumes.
"Comrades," old Otto was saying in German, "here is the course. You will
have no difficulty in following it. Down the river straight till you see
the lights of New York. You each understand what you are then to
"Certainly," three of the men, the pilots evidently, responded.
"Let us, to make sure," old Otto insisted, "once more rehearse it. Much
there is at stake for the Fatherland. You, Anton and Fritz, will blow up
the transports and the warships that guard them. Six great transports
are lying there, ready to sail at daylight The troops went aboard
to-night. We waited until it was signalled that it was so. You must not
fail. The biggest of those transports once belonged to Germany. You must
teach these boastful Americans their lesson. That one boat you must
destroy for certain. Beside the transports to-night lie five vessels of
war, two battleships, three cruisers. Them you must destroy also, if
there is time. To each transport, two bombs, to each warship, two
bombs--twenty you carry. If all goes well, two you will have left With
these do what you will, a house, a church, it matters not--anything to
spread the terror of Germany in the hearts of these money-grabbing
"It will be done," said Anton solemnly.
"I have thrown bombs before. You can trust me," said Fritz.
"You, Hans and Albert," old Otto went on, "will fly over the city at
good height. When you reach the end of the island you turn to the left,
so, and come down close that your aim may not miss. Here will be the
Brooklyn Navy Yard,"--he indicated a place on the map. "If there is fog
the bridges will locate it for you. Smash the ship lying there, the
shops, the dry docks; if it is possible blow up the munitions
"I know the place well," Hans replied. "I worked there many months. I
can find my way in the dark. It will be done."
"And to you, Herr Captain," said Otto, turning to Frederic and saluting,
"to you, whom the War Office itself sent here to oversee this
all-wonderful plan of mine which it has seen fit to approve, to you and
your mate falls the greatest honor and glory. You--"
A suppressed sob at his side caused Fleck to turn quickly and lay his
finger on the trigger of his revolver. There, close beside him,
listening to all that had been said, was Jane. Left alone in the
darkness she had found it impossible to obey the chief's orders and
remain where she was. Every little sound about her had carried new
terrors to her heart. Hitherto she had not felt afraid, but the solitude
filled her mind with wild imaginings. She was seized, too, by an
irresistible desire to know what part Frederic was playing in this drama
of the dark. Was his life in peril? Were Fleck and Carter now gathering
evidence that would bring about his conviction, perhaps his shameful
death? She must know what was happening. Quietly she had stolen up to
peer through the window.
Fleck, as he recognized her, with an angry gesture of warning to be
silent, turned back to hear what Otto was saying.
"--you, Frederic, have the glory of leading the expedition, of bombing
that damned Wall Street which alone has kept Germany from winning her
well-deserved victory. You will destroy their foolish skyscrapers, their
banks, their business buildings. Your work will end this way. You will
strike terror into the cowardly hearts of these American bankers whose
greed for money has led them to interfere with our great nation's
rightful ambition. You shall show them that their ocean is no
protection, that the iron hand of our Kaiser is far-reaching. Do your
work well, and they will be on their knees begging us for peace."
"God helping me," said Frederic, "I will not fail in my duty to my
There was something magnificent in his manner as he spoke, something
almost regal, and Fleck regarded him with a puzzled air. Who was he,
this man who had been sent out from Germany on this mission--this man to
whom even old Otto paid deference? Despite the assurance with which he
had spoken Fleck had observed in Frederic an uneasiness, a watchfulness,
that none of the others seemed to exhibit. He had the appearance of
alertly listening, listening, for what? Fleck's first thought was that
he might have overheard the little cry that Jane had inadvertently
given, but he quickly dismissed this theory. If Frederic had heard that
sound it would have alarmed him, and the look in his eyes now was one of
expectancy rather than of fear.
Jane, too, was puzzled and distressed. With trembling hands she clutched
at the sill of the window for support as she heard Frederic assent to
old Otto's plans for him. Her estimate of his character made it seem
incredible that he would willingly lend himself to this work of
wholesale murder, yet she could no longer doubt the evidence of her own
ears. With overwhelming force it came to her that this man who so
readily agreed to such bloody, dastardly work as this, must undoubtedly
be also the murderer of that K-19 whose body had been found just around
the corner from her home. Bitterly she reproached herself that she had
allowed herself to care for him. Shamedly she confessed to herself that
she still loved him--even now.
"Your great work accomplished," Otto continued, "remember your orders.
Forty miles due east of Sandy Hook there will be lying two great
submarines, waiting to take you off--not U-boats, but two of our
powerful, wonderful new X-boats, big enough to destroy any of their
little cruisers that are patrolling the coast, fast enough to escape any
of their torpedo boats. How important the war office judges your work
you may realize from this--it is the first mission on which these new
X-boats have been dispatched. They are out there now. We have had a
wireless from them. They are waiting to convey six heroes back to the
Fatherland, where the highest honors will be bestowed on them at the
hands of our Emperor himself. Herr Captain and Comrades--"
He stopped abruptly, and there came into his face a pained look of
surprise, of terror.
_"Was is dass?_" he cried in alarm.
One of Fleck's men in hiding out there in the shadow of the building
had been seized by an irresistible desire to sneeze.
The terrifying suspicion that there had been some uninvited spectator
outside, listening to their plotting, swept over the whole room. The
whole company, hearing the sound that had alarmed old Hoff, arose as one
man and stood tensed, stupefied with fear, gazing white-faced in the
direction from which the sound had come.
Fleck, rudely brushing Jane aside, dropped back from the window and blew
a sharp blast with a whistle. At the sound his men came running up with
their rifles ready.
Inside, the man called Hans, seizing an electric torch, dashed to the
door, and pulling it wide, rushed forth, his torch lighting the way
before him. Before he even had time to see the men gathering there and
cry an alarm, a blow from the butt of Carter's revolver stretched him
senseless on the stoop.
"In the name of the United States I command you to surrender," cried
Fleck, springing boldly into the open doorway, revolver in hand; "the
house is surrounded."
Instantly all within the room was confusion. Some of those nearest the
door, seeing behind Fleck the protruding muzzles of the guns, promptly
threw up their hands in token of surrender. Others bolted madly for the
front door, only to find their egress there blocked by the rifles in the
hands of the guard that Fleck had had the foresight to station there.
Old Otto, the pallor of fear on his face giving away to an expression of
demoniac rage, drew a revolver and aimed it straight at Fleck. Jane, who
unbidden had followed the raiders as they entered and now was standing
wide-eyed in the doorway watching the spectacle, was the only one to see
that just as old Otto pulled the trigger his nephew, whether by accident
or design, she could not tell, jostled his arm, sending the bullet wide
of its mark.
"Come on, men," cried Fleck, advancing boldly into the room.
Eight of the Germans, piteously bleating "Kamerad" stood against the
wall near the door, their hands stretched high above their heads.
"Guard these men, Dean," cried Fleck, as with Carter close at his side
he dashed into the fray.
One man already lay senseless outside, eight had surrendered. Four had
fled to the front of the house. That left only the two Hoffs and one
other man against five of them. It was Fleck's intention to try to
overpower the trio before the four who had fled returned to aid them.
Jane, amazed at her own coolness, stood beside Dean, her revolver out,
helping him guard the prisoners.
Frederic all the while had been standing by his uncle's side, strangely
enough appearing to take little interest or part in the battle. Old
Otto, though, despite his years, was fighting with vigor enough to
require both the work of Fleck and Carter to subdue him. Vainly he
struggled to wrench himself free from their grasp and use his revolver
again. Fleck's strength pulling loose his fingers from the weapon was
too much for him. As he felt himself being disarmed, in a frenzy he tore
himself loose from both of them and seizing a chair, swung it with all
his strength against the hanging lamp above the table that supplied the
only light in the room.
In an instant the room was in darkness. The four from the front, rushing
back to aid their comrades in answer to old Otto's cries, found
themselves unable to distinguish friend from foe. Fleck's men dared not
use their weapons in the darkness. Back and forth through the room the
opposing forces struggled, the air thick with cries and muttered oaths,
the sound of blows making strange medley with the rapid shuffling
Jane, remembering the electric torch that had been carried by the man
Carter had struck down, felt her way to the door and retrieved it from
his senseless fingers. Returning, she flashed it about the room,
endeavoring to assist Fleck by its light. As she let the beam fall on
Frederic she heard a muttered curse at her side and turned to see Thomas
Dean aiming his revolver directly at the younger Hoff. With a quick
movement she thrust up his arm, and the bullet buried itself in the wall
above his head.
"What are you trying to do," snapped Dean; "help that damned spy to
"He wasn't trying to escape," she angrily retorted. "Look--quick--mind
He turned just in time to see the Germans behind him lowering their
arms. In another second they would have been on his back. At the sight
of his brandished revolver, their arms were quickly raised again.
Meanwhile Fleck's men, guided by Jane's light, were laying about them
with their rifles clubbed. The plotters were at a disadvantage in not
realizing how few there were in the attacking party. Fleck's
announcement that the house was surrounded had both deceived and
disheartened them. When three of their number had been knocked senseless
to the floor the others surrendered and joined the group that stood
with hands up.
To Fleck's amazement it was Frederic Hoff who led in the surrender.
"Watch that young Hoff," he whispered to Carter. "I can't understand his
giving up so easily. It may be only a ruse on his part."
"Perhaps he's afraid the girl will be hurt," whispered Carter, but Fleck
was not there to hear him, having dashed forward to where old Otto was
still fighting desperately.
Somehow in the melee the old man had again got hold of a revolver, and
just as Fleck seized him he fired again. The bullet, aimed at Fleck,
left him unharmed, but found a mark in Thomas Dean, who with a little
gurgling cry, fell forward at Jane's feet. Carter turned at once to
guard the prisoners, as Fleck, with a cry of rage, felled old Hoff to
the floor, harmless for the present at least.
Sending one of his men to the other rooms in search of lamps Fleck soon
had all the prisoners safely shackled, both hand and foot, none of them
offering any resistance. Investigation showed that old Hoff in falling
had struck his head in such a way that his neck was broken, killing him
instantly. The three who had been clubbed were not seriously injured,
and as soon as they revived were shackled as the others had been.
Jane, seeing Dean collapse, had turned to aid him and for some time had
been bending over him, trying to revive him. He had opened his eyes,
looked up into her face and had tried to say something, and then had
collapsed, dying right before her eyes.
"Take the Hoffs' car outside," Fleck directed some of his men, "and
bring up our two cars at once. Carter and I'll guard the prisoners until
you get back. There's a county jail only a few miles away. The sooner we
get them there the better it will be. It won't take any court long to
settle their fate. They got Dean, didn't they?"
"Yes," said Jane, getting up unsteadily from the floor, "I think he's
Fleck bent to examine the body of his aide, feeling for the pulse.
"Too bad," he murmured. "That last bullet of old Hoff's got him, but he
died in a good cause."
Jane, brushing away the tears that came welling unbidden into her eyes,
turned now for the first time since his surrender to look at Frederic.
She had expected as she looked at him lying there shackled on the floor
to read in his expression humiliation at his plight, grief at the
failure of his effort to aid Germany, possibly reproach for her in
having aided in entrapping him. To her amazement there was nothing of
this in his face.
As he lay there on the floor he was observing her with a tender look of
love, and in his eyes what was still more puzzling was an unmistakable
expression of triumph and happiness.
Bewildered by the rapidity with which such a succession of terrifying
events had taken place, Jane sank dazedly into a chair, trying her best
to collect her thoughts, as she looked about on the recent scene of
battle. All of the German plotters had been overcome and captured.
There, dead on the floor, lay the arch conspirator, old Otto Hoff, his
clammy face still twisted into a savage expression of malignant,
And there, too, a martyr to the country's cause, lay Thomas Dean. A sob
of pity rose in Jane's throat as she thought of him, and the great tears
rolled unchecked down her cheeks. He was so young, so brave, so fine.
Why must Death have come to him when there was yet so much he might have
done? With his talent and education, with his wonderful spirit of
self-sacrifice, he might have gone far and high. Regretfully, she
recalled that he had loved her, and with kind pity in her heart she
reproached herself for not having been able to return to this fine,
clean, American youth the affection she had inspired in him.
Thomas Dean, she told herself, was the type of man she should have
loved, a man of her own people, with her own ideals, a man of her
country, her flag, and yet--
There on the floor, not a dozen feet away from her, shameful circlets of
steel girdling both his wrists and his ankles, lay the one man for whom
she knew now she cared the most in all the world, the man she had just
betrayed into Chief Fleck's hands.
Bitterly she reproached herself for not having tried to induce Frederic
to escape. In mental anguish she pictured him--the man she
loved--standing in the prisoner's dock in some courtroom, branded as a
spy, as a leader of spies, charged with an attempt to slaughter the
inhabitants--the women and children--of a sleeping, unprotected city.
With growing horror it came to her that in all probability she herself
would be called on to testify against him. It might even be her
evidence that would result in his being led out before a firing squad
and put to an ignominious death.
She dared not even look in his direction now. What must he be thinking
about her? He had known that she loved him. In despair and doubt she
wondered whether he could understand that she, too, had been influenced
to perform her soul-wracking task by a sense of honor, of duty to her
country equally as potent as that which had impelled him to participate
in this terrible plan to destroy New York. Why had she not informed him
that his plans were known to the United States Government's agents?
Surely she could have convinced him that his was a hopeless mission. The
plot would have been successfully thwarted, and he would not be lying
there in shackles, but, even though forced to flee, who knew, perhaps
some day after peace had come, he might have been able to return for
her. A great sob rose from her heart, but she stifled it back. She would
be brave and true. She must be glad for those of her people that had
But her parents! What would they say? Her father and mother soon now
must learn that she had been deceiving them day after day. How horrified
and amazed they would be to learn that the chauffeur she had brought
into the household was in reality a government detective, and that she,
their daughter, had been a witness of his tragic death. What would they
think when they learned about her part in this gruesome drama that had
just been enacted? They, serene in their trust in her, supposing she was
at the home of one of her girl friends, were peacefully asleep in their
quiet apartment. How horror-stricken her mother would be if she could
have seen her daughter at this moment, alone at midnight in a mountain
shack, one girl among a band of strange men--and two men stretched dead
on the floor.
And Frederic! Always her perturbed imaginings led back to Frederic, to
the terrible fate that lay in store for him, to the awfulness of war
that had put between them an impassable gulf of blood and guilt and
treachery that, in spite of their love for each other, kept them at
cross purposes and made them enemies. Why, she vaguely wondered, must
governments disagree and start wars and make men hate and kill each
other? What was it all for?
In the midst of her mental wanderings she became conscious that Fleck
was speaking to Carter.
"I'll stay here with Miss Strong and the prisoners," he was saying.
"While we are waiting for the men to return with the cars, you'd better
make a search of the house."
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