The Boy Scout Aviators
Part 2 out of 3
zig-zagging all around, but that we'll find they all get east
gradually. Now we'll circle around this one until we find out in
what direction it is flashing, then we'll know what line we must
follow. After that all we've got to do is to follow the line to
some high hill or building, and we'll pick up the next station."
Their eyes were more accustomed to the work now, and they wasted
very little time. This time, just as Harry had guessed, the
flashes were being sent due east, and judging from the first case
that the next station would be less than ten miles away, he
decided to ride straight on for about that distance. He had a
road map, and found that they could follow a straight line, except
for one break. They did not go near the hilltop at all.
"I'd like to know what they're doing there," said Dick.
"So would I, but it's open country, and they're probably keeping a
close lookout. They're really safer doing that in the open than
on the roof of a house, out here in the country."
"Because they can hide the heliograph? It's portable, isn't it?"
"Yes. They could stow it away in a minute, if they were alarmed.
I fancy we'll find them using hilltops now as much as they can."
"Harry, I've just thought of something. If they've planned so
carefully as this, wouldn't they be likely to have country places,
where they'd be less likely to be disturbed?"
"Yes, they would. You're right, Dick. Especially as we get
further and further away from London. I suppose there must be
plenty of places a German could buy or lease."
"And perhaps people wouldn't even know they were Germans, if they
spoke good English, and didn't have an accent."
That suggestion of Dick's bore fruit. For the third station they
found was evidently hidden away In a private park. It was in the
outskirts of a little village, and Harry and Dick had no trouble
at all in finding out all the villagers knew of the place. "'Twas
taken a year ago by a rich American gentleman, with a sight of
motor cars and foreign-looking servants," they were told. "Very
high and mighty he is, too -- does all his buying at the stores in
Lunnon, and don't give local trade any of his patronage."
The two scouts exchanged glances. Their suspicions were confirmed
in a way. But it was necessary to be sure; to be suspicious was
not enough for them.
"We'll have to get inside," he said under his breath to Dick. But
the villager heard, and laughed.
"Easy enough, if you're friends of his," he said. "If not -- look
out, master! He's got signs up warning off trespassers, and traps
and spring guns all over the place. Wants to be very private, and
that, he does."
"Thanks," said Harry. "Perhaps we'd better not pay him a visit,
The village was a sleepy little place, one of the few spots Harry
had seen to which the war fever had not penetrated. It was not on
the line of the railway, and there was not even a telegraph
station. By showing Colonel Throckmorton's letter, Harry and Dick
could have obtained the right to search the property that they
suspected. But that did not seem wise.
"I don't think the village constables here could help us much,
Dick," said Harry. "They'd give everything away, and we probably
wouldn't accomplish anything except to put them on their guard. I
vote we wait until dark and try to find out what we can by
ourselves. It's risky but even if they catch us, I don't think we
need to be afraid of their doing anything."
"I'm with you," said Dick. "We'll do whatever you say."
They spent the rest of the afternoon scouting around the
neighboring country on their motorcycles, studying the estate from
the roads that surrounded it. Bray Park, it was called, and it
had for centuries belonged to an old family, which, however, had
been glad of the high rent it had been able to extract from the
rich American who had taken the place.
What they saw was that the grounds seemed to be surrounded, near
the wall, by heavy trees, which made it difficult to see much of
what was within. But in one place there was a break, so that,
looking across velvety green lawns, they could see a small part of
an old and weatherbeaten grey house. It appeared to be on a rise,
and to stand several stories above the ground, so that it might
well be an ideal place for the establishment of a heliograph
But Harry's suspicions were beginning to take a new turn.
"I believe this is the biggest find we've made yet, Dick," he
said. "I think we'll find that if we discover what is really
going on here, we'll be at the end of our task -- or very near it.
It's just the place for a headquarters."
"I believe it is, Harry. And if they've been so particular to
keep everything about it secret, it certainly seems that there
must be something important to hide," suggested Harry, thinking
deeply. "I think I'll write a letter to Colonel Throckmorton,
Dick. I'll tell him about this place, and that we're trying to get
in and find out what we can about it. Then, if anything happens
to us, he'll know what we were doing, and he will have heard about
this place, even if they catch us. I'll post it before we go in."
"That's a splendid idea, Harry. I don't see how you think of
everything the way you do."
"I think it's because my father's always talking about how one
ought to think of all the things that can go wrong. He says
that's the way he's got along in business is by never being
surprised by having something unfortunate happen, and by always
trying to be ready to make it as trifling as it can be."
So Harry wrote and posted his letter, taking care to word it so
that it would be hard for anyone except Colonel Throckmorton to
understand it. And, even after having purposely made the wording
rather obscure, he put it into code. And, after that, he thought
of still another precaution that might be wise. "We won't need
the credentials we've got in there tonight, Dick," he said. "Nor
our copies of the code, either. We'll bury them near where we
leave our motorcycles. Then when we get out we can easily get
them back, and if we should be caught they won't be found on us.
Remember, if we are caught, we're just boys out trespassing. Let
them think we're poachers, if they like."
But even Harry could think of no more precautions after that, and
they had a long and tiresome wait until they thought it was dark
enough to venture within the walls.
Getting over the wall was not difficult. They had thought they
might find broken glass on top, but there was nothing of the sort.
Once inside, however, they speedily discovered why that precaution
was not taken -- and also that they had had a remarkably narrow
escape. For scarcely had they dropped to the ground and taken
shelter when they saw a figure, carrying a gun, approaching. It
was a man making the rounds of the wall. While they watched he
met another man, also armed, and turned to retrace this steps.
"They've got two men, at least - maybe a lot more, doing that,"
whispered Harry. "We've got to find out just how often he passes
that spot. We want to know if the intervals are regular, too, so
that we can calculate just when he'll be there."
Three times the man came and went, while they waited, timing him.
And Harry found that he passed the spot at which they had entered
every fifteen minutes. That was not exact for there was a
variation of a minute or so, but it seemed pretty certain that he
would pass between thirteen and seventeen minutes after the hour,
and so on.
"So we'll know when it's safe to make a dash to get out," said
Harry. "The first thing a general does, you know, is to secure
his retreat. He doesn't expect to be beaten, but he wants to know
what he can live to fight another day if he is."
"We've got to retreat, haven't we?" asked Dick. "It wouldn't do
us any good to stay here."
"That's so. But we've got to advance first. Now to get near that
house, and see what we can find Look out for those traps and
things our friend warned us of. It looks like just the place for
them. And keep to cover!"
They wormed their way forward, often crawling along. Both knew a
good deal about traps and how they are set, and their common sense
enabled them to see the most likely places for them. They kept to
open ground, avoiding shrubbery and what looked like windfalls of
branches. Before they came into full view of the house they had
about a quarter of a mile to go. And it was an exciting journey.
They dared not speak to one another. For all about, though at
first they could see nothing, there was the sense of impending
danger. They felt that unseen eyes were watching, not for them,
perhaps, but for anyone who might venture to intrude and pass the
first line. Both of the scouts felt that they were tilting
against a mighty force, that the organization that would perfect,
in time of peace. Such a system of espionage in the heart of the
country of a possible enemy, was of the most formidable sort.
They stopped, at last, at the edge of the clump of thick, old
trees that seemed to surround the place. Here they faced the open
lawn, and Harry realized that to try to cross it was too risky.
They would gain nothing by being detected. They could find out as
much here by keeping their eyes and ears open, he thought, as by
going forward, when they were almost sure to be detected.
"We'll stay here," he whispered to Dick, cautiously. "Dick, look
over there -- to the left of the house. You see where there's a
shadow by that central tower? Well, to the left of that. Do you
see some wires dangling there? I'm not sure."
"I think there are," whispered Dick, after a moment in which he
peered through the darkness. Dick had one unusual gift. He had
almost a savage's ability to see in the dark, although in daylight
his sight was by no means out of the ordinary.
"Look!" he said, again, suddenly. "Up on top of the tower! There
is something going up there -- it's outlined against that white
Harry followed with his eyes and Dick was right. A long, thin
pole was rising, even as they looked on. Figures showed on the
roof of the tower. They were busy about the pole. It seemed to
grow longer as they watched. Then, suddenly, the dangling wires
they had first noticed were drawn taut, and they saw a cross-piece
on the long pole. And then, with a sudden rush of memory, Harry
"Oh! We have struck it!" he said. "I remember now - a portable,
collapsible wireless installation! I've wondered how they could
use wireless, knowing that someone would be sure to pick up the
signals and that the plant would be run down. But they have those
poles made in sections - they could hide the whole thing. It
takes very little time to set them up. This is simply a bigger
copy of what they use in the field. We've got to get out!"
He looked at his watch.
"Carefully, now," he said. "We've just about got time. That
sentry must be just about passing the place where we got over the
wall now. By the time we get there he'll be gone, and we can slip
out. We've got everything we came for, not that we've seen that!"
They started on the return journey through the woods. More than
ever there seemed to be danger about them. And suddenly it
reached out and gripped them - gripped Harry, at least. As he
took a step his foot sank through the ground, as it seemed. The
next moment he had all he could do to suppress a cry of agony as a
trap closed about his ankle, wrenching it, and throwing him down.
"Go on!" he said to Dick, suppressing his pain by a great effort.
"I won't leave you!" said Dick. "I -"
"Obey orders! Don't you see you've go to go? You've got to tell
them about the wireless - and about where I am! Or else how am I
go get away? Perhaps if you come back quickly with help they
won't find me until you come! Hurry - hurry!"
Dick understood. And, with a groan, he obeyed orders, and went.
A CLOSE SHAVE
Probably Dick did not realize that he was really showing a high
order of courage in going while Harry remained behind, caught in
that cruel trap and practically in the hands of enemies who were
most unlikely to treat him well. In fact, as he made his way
toward the wall, Dick was reproaching himself bitterly.
"I ought to stay!" he kept on saying to himself over and over
again. "I ought not to leave him so! He made me go so that I
would be safe!"
There had been no time to argue, or Harry might have been able to
make him understand that it was at least as dangerous to go as to
stay -- perhaps even more dangerous. Dick did not think that
there was at least a chance that every trap was wired, so that
springing it would sound an alarm in some central spot. If that
were so, as Harry had fully understood, escape for Dick would be
most difficult and probably he too would be captured.
"I'm such a coward!" Dick almost sobbed to himself, for he was
frightened, though, it must be said, less on his account than at
the thought of Harry. Yet he did not stop. He went on
resolutely, alone, as he got used to the idea that he must depend
on himself, without Harry to help him in any emergency that arose,
his courage returned. He stopped, just as he knew Harry would
have done, several feet short of the wall. His watch told him
that he had time enough to make a dash, had several minutes to
spare, in fact. But he made sure.
And it was well that he did. For some alarm had been given. He
heard footsteps of running men, and in a moment two men, neither
of them the one they knew as the sentry, came running along the
wall. They carried pocket flashlights, and were examining the
ground carefully. Dick sensed at once what they meant to do, and
shrank into the shelter of a great rhododendron bush. He was
small for his age, and exceptionally lissome and he felt that the
leaves would conceal him for a few moments at least. He was
taking a risk of finding a trap in the bush, but it was the lesser
of the two evils just then. And luck favored him. He encountered
Then one of the men with flashlights gave a cry that sounded to
Dick just like the note of a dog that has picked up a lost scent.
The lights were playing on the ground just where they had crossed
"Footsteps, Hans!" said the man. "Turned from the wall, too!
They have gone in, but have not come out."
"How many?" asked the other man, coming up quickly.
"Two, I think -- no more," said the discoverer. "Now we shall
Dick held his breath. If they could follow the footsteps -- and
there was no reason in the world j to hope that they could not! --
they would be bound to pass within a foot or two of his hiding-
place. And, as he realized, they would, when they were past him,
find the marks of his feet returning. They would know then that
he was between them and the wall. He realized what that would
mean. Bravely he nerved himself to take the one desperate chance
that remained to him. They were far too strong for him to have a
chance to meet them on even terms, all he could hope for was an
opportunity to make use of his light weight and his superior
speed. He knew that he could move two feet, at least, to their
one. And so he waited, crouching, until they went by. The light
flashed by the bush, for some reason, it did not strike it
directly. That gave him a respite. Fortunately they were looking
for footprints, not for their makers.
The moment they were by, Dick took the chance of making a noise,
and pushed through the bush, to reach the other side. And, just
as the cry of the man who first had seen the footprints sounded
again, he got through. At once, throwing off all attempt at
silence, he started running, crouched low. He was only a dozen
feet from the wall he leaped for a projection a few feet up. By a
combination of good luck and skill he reached it with his hands.
A moment later he had swarmed over the wall and dropped to the
other side just as a shot rang out behind. The bullet struck the
wall, chipped fragments of stone flew all over him. But he was
not hurt, and he ran as he had, never known he could run, keeping
to the side of the road, where he was in a heavy shadow.
As soon as he could, he burst through a hedge on the side of the
road opposite the wall, and ran on, sheltered by the hedge until,
to his delight, he plunged headfirst into a stream of water. The
fall knocked him out for a moment, but the cold water revived him
and he did not mind the scraped knee and the hurt knuckles he
owed to the sharp stones in the bed of the little brook. He
changed his course at once, following the brook, since in that no
telltale footprints would be left.
Behind him he heard the sound of pursuit for a little while, but
he judged that the brook would save him. He could not be pursued
very far. Even in this sleepy countryside he would find it easy
to get help, and the Germans, as he was now sure they were, would
have to give up the chase. All that had been essential had been
for him to get a few hundred feet from the park, after that he was
But, if he was safe, he was hopelessly lost. At least he would
have been, had he been an ordinary boy, without the scout
training. He was in unknown country and he had been chased away
from all the landmarks he had. It was of the utmost importance
that he should reach as soon as possible, and, especially, without
passing too near Bray Park, the spot where the motorcycles and the
papers and codes had been cached. And, when he finally came to a
full stop, satisfied that he no longer had anything to fear from
pursuit, he was completely in the dark as to where he was.
However, his training asserted itself. Although Harry had been in
charge, Dick had not failed to notice everything about the place
where they made their cache that would help to identify it. That
was instinct with him by this time, after two years as a scout; it
was second nature. And, though it had been light, he had pictured
pretty accurately what the place would look like at night. He
remembered for instance, that certain stars would be sure to fill
the sky in a particular relation to the cache. And now he looked
up and worked out his own position. To do that he had to
reconstruct, with the utmost care, his movements since he had left
the cache to the moment when he and Harry had entered Bray Park.
But the chase had confused him, naturally. He had doubled on his
track more than once, trying to throw his pursuers off. But by
remembering accurately the position of Bray Park in its relation
to the cache, and by concentrating as earnestly as he could to
remember as much as possible of the course of his flight, he
arrived presently at a decision of how he must proceed to retrieve
the motorcycles and the papers.
As soon as he had done so he hurried on, feverishly, taking a
course that, while longer than necessary, was essential since he
dared not go near Bray Park. He realized thoroughly how much
depended on his promptness. It was essential that Colonel
Throckmorton should learn of the wireless station, which was
undoubtedly powerful enough to send its waves far out to sea, even
if not to the German coast itself.
And there was Harry. The only chance of rescue for him lay in
what Dick might do. That thought urged him on even more than the
necessity of imparting what they had learned.
So, scouting as he went, least he encounter some prowling party
from Bray Park silently looking for him, he went on hastily. He
was almost as anxious to avoid the village as the spy headquarters,
for he knew that in such places strangers might be regarded with
suspicion even in times of peace. And, while the war fever had
not seemed to be in evidence that afternoon, he knew that it
might have broken out virulently in the interval. He had heard
the stories of spy baiting in other parts of the country; how,
in some localities, scores of absolutely innocent tourists had
been arrested and searched. So he felt he must avoid his friends
as well as his enemies until he had means of proving his identity.
Delaying as he was by his roundabout course, it took him nearly an
hour to come to scenes that were familiar. But then he knew that
he had found himself, with the aid of the stars. Familiar places
that he had marked when they made the cache appeared, and soon he
reached it. But it was empty; motorcycles and papers -- all were
A FRIEND IN NEED
"As long as I can't be at home, I'd rather be here than anywhere
in the world I can think of!"
Was it little more than a week, thought Harry Fleming, since he
had uttered those words so lightly? Was it just a week since
Grenfel, his English scoutmaster, had bidden the boys of his troop
goodbye? Was it just two days since father and mother had been so
suddenly recalled to the States? Was it just that very morning
that he and his good chum Dick Mercer had been detailed on this
mission which had led to the discovery of the secret heliographs
so busily sending messages to the enemy across the North Sea? Was
it just a few hours since the two Scouts, hot on the trail, had
cached papers and motorcycles and started the closer exploration
of that mysterious estate outside the sleepy English village,
leased, so the village gossip had it, by a rich American who
eccentrically denied himself to all comers and zealously guarded
the privacy of his grounds?
Was it just a few moments since he had urged, even commanded, Dick
Mercer to leave him, caught in a trap set for just such
trespassers as they? Had he urged his chum to leave him in his
agony, for the ankle was badly wrenched, and seek safety in
flight? The terrible pain in his ankle and the agonizing fear
both for himself and his chum made moments seem like hours and the
happenings of these same moments appear as an awful dream.
He could hear, plainly enough, the advance of the two searchers
who had scared Dick into hiding in the rhododendron bush, he could
even see the gleam of their flashlights, and was able, therefore,
to guess what they were doing. For the moment it seemed
impossible to him that Dick should escape. He was sure of capture
himself in a few minutes, and, as a matter of fact, there were
things that made the prospect decidedly bearable. The pain in his
ankle from the trap in which he had been caught was excruciating.
It seemed to him that he must cry out, but he kept silence
resolutely. As long as there was a chance that he might not fall
into the hands of the spies who were searching the grounds, he
meant to cling to it.
But the chance was a very slim one, as he knew. He could imagine,
without difficulty, just about what the men with the flashlights
would do, by reasoning out his own course. They would look for
footprints. These would lead them to the spot where he and Dick
had watched the raising of the wireless mast, and thence along the
path they had taken to return to the wall and to safety. Thus
they would come to him, and he would be found, literally like a
rat in a trap.
And then, quite suddenly, came the diversion created by Dick's
daring dash for escape, when he sped from the bush and climbed the
wall, followed by the bullets that the searchers fired after him.
Harry started, hurting his imprisoned ankle terribly by the wrench
his sudden movement gave. Then he listened eagerly for the cry he
dreaded yet expected to hear that would tell him that Dick had
been hit. It did not come. Instead, he heard more men running,
and then in a moment all within the wall was quiet, and he could
hear the hue and cry dying away as they chased him along the road
"Well, by Jove!" he said to himself, enthusiastically, "I believe
Dick's fooled them. I didn't think he had it in him! That's
bully for him! He ought to get a medal for that!"
It was some moments before he realized fully that he had gained a
respite, temporally at least. Obviously the two men who had been
searching with flashlights had followed Dick, there was at least a
good chance that no one else knew about him. He had decided that
there was some system of signal wires that rang an alarm when a
trap was sprung. But it might be that these two men were the only
ones who were supposed to follow up such an alarm.
He carried a flashlight himself and now he took the chance of
playing it on his ankle, to see if there was any chance of escape.
He hooded the light with his hand and looked carefully. But what
he saw was not encouraging. The steel band looked most
formidable. It was on the handcuff principle and any attempt to
work his foot loose would only make the grip tighter and increase
his suffering. His spirits fell at that. Then the only thing his
brief immunity would do for him would be to keep him in pain
a little longer. He would be caught anyhow, and he guessed that,
if Dick got away, he would find his captors in a savage mood.
Even as he let the flashlight wink out, since it was dangerous to
use it more than was necessary, he heard a cautious movement
within a few feet. At first he thought it was an animal he had
heard, so silent were its movements. But in a moment a hand
touched his own. He started slightly, but kept quiet.
"Hush -- I'm a friend," said a voice, almost at his elbow. "'I
thought you were somewhere around here but I couldn't find you
until you flashed your light. You're caught in a trap, aren't
"Yes," said Dick. "Who are you?"
"That's what I want to know about you, first," said the other boy
-- for it was another boy, as Harry learned from his voice. Never
had a sound been more welcome in his ears than that voice. "Tell
me who you are and what you two were doing around here. I saw you
this afternoon and tracked you. I tried to before, but I
couldn't, on account of your motorcycles. Then I just happened to
see you, when you were on foot. Are you Boy Scouts?"
"Yes," said Harry. "Are you?"
"Yes. That's why I followed -- especially when I saw you coming in
here. We've got a patrol in the village, but most of the scouts
are at work in the fields."
Rapidly, and in a whisper, Harry explained a little, enough to
make this new ally understand.
"You'd better get out, if you know how, and take word," said
Harry. "I think my chum got away, but it would be better to be
sure. And they'll be after me soon."
"If they give us two or three minutes we'll both get out," said
the newcomer, confidently. "I know this place with my eyes shut.
I used to play here before the old family moved away. I'm the
vicar's son, in the village, and I always had the run of the park
until these new people came. And I've been in here a few times
since then, too."
"That's all right," said Harry. "But how am I going to get out of
"Let me have your flashlight a moment," said the stranger.
Harry gave it to him, and the other scout bent over his ankle.
Harry saw that he had a long slender piece of wire. He guessed
that he was going to try to pick the lock. And in a minute or
less Harry heard a welcome click that told him his new found
friend -- a friend in need, indeed, he was proving himself to be,
had succeeded. His ankle was free.
He struggled to his feet, and there was a moment of exquisite pain
as the blood rushed through his ankle and circulation was restored
to his numbed foot. But he was able to stand, and, although
limpingly, to walk. He had been fortunate, as a matter of fact,
in that no bone had been crushed. That might well have happened
with such a trap, or a ligament or tendon might have been wrenched
or torn, in which case he would have found it just about
impossible to move at all. As it was, however, he was able to get
along, though he suffered considerable pain every time he put his
foot to the ground.
It was no time, however, in which to think of discomforts so
comparatively trifling as that. When he was outside he would be
able, with the other scout's aid, to give his foot some attention,
using the first aid outfit that he always carried, as every scout
should do. But now the one thing to be done, to make good his
Harry realized, as soon as he was free, that he was not by any
means out of the woods. He was still decidedly in the enemy's
country, and getting out of it promised to be a difficult and a
perilous task. He was handicapped by his lack of knowledge of the
place and what little he did know was discouraging. He had proof
that human enemies were not the only ones he had to fear. And the
only way he knew that offered a chance of getting out offered, as
well, the prospect of encountering the men who had pursued Dick
Mercer, returning. It was just as he made up his mind to this
that the other scout spoke again.
"We can't get out the way you came in," he said. "Or, if we
could, it's too risky. But there's another way. I've been in
here since these people started putting their traps around, and I
know where most of them are. Come on!"
Harry was glad to obey. He had no hankering for command. The
thing to do was to get out as quickly as he could. And so he
followed, though he had qualms when he saw that, instead of going
toward the wall, they were heading straight in and toward the
great grey house. They circled the woods that gave them the
essential protection of darkness, and always they got further and
further from the place where Dick and Harry had entered. Harry
understood, of course, that there were other ways of getting out
but it took a few words to make him realize the present situation
as it actually was.
"There's a spot on the other side they don't really guard at all,"
said his companion. "It's where the river runs by the place.
They think no one would come that way. And I don't believe they
know anything at all about what I'm going to show you."
Soon Harry heard the water rustling. And then, to his surprise,
his guide led him straight into a tangle of shrubbery. It was
hard going for him, for his ankle pained him a good deal, but he
managed it. And in a moment the other boy spoke, and, for the
first time, in a natural voice. "I say, I'm glad we're
here!" he said, heartily. "D'ye see?"
"It looks like a cave," said Harry.
"It is, but it's more than that, too. This place is no end old,
you know. It was here when they fought the Wars of the Roses,
I've heard. And come on -- I'll show you something!"
He led the way on into the cave, which narrowed as they went. But
Harry, pointing his flashlight ahead, saw that it was not going to
"Oh! A secret passage! I understand now!" he exclaimed, finally.
"Isn't it jolly?" said the other. "Can't you imagine what fun we
used to have here when we played about? You see, this may have
been used to bring in food in time of siege. There used to be
another spur of this tunnel that ran right into the house. But
that was all let go to pot, for some reason. This is all that is
left. But it's enough. It runs way down under the river -- and
in a jiffy we'll be out in the meadows on the other side. I say,
what's your name?"
They hadn't had time to exchange the information each naturally
craved about the other before. And now, as they realized it, they
both laughed. Harry told his name.
"Mine's Jack Young," said the other scout. "I say, you don't talk
like an Englishman?"
"I'm not," explained Harry. "I'm American. But I'm for England
just now -- and we were caught here trying to find out something
about that place."
They came out into the open then, where the light of the stars
enabled them to see one another. Jack nodded.
"I got an idea of what you were after -- you two," he said. "The
other one's English, isn't he?"
"Dick Mercer? Yes!" said Harry, astonished. "But how did you find
out about us?"
"Stalked you," said Jack, happily. "Oh, I'm no end of a scout! I
followed you as soon as I caught you without your bicycles."
"We must have been pretty stupid to let you do it, though," said
Harry, a little crestfallen. "I'm glad we did, but suppose you'd
been an enemy! A nice fix we'd have been in!"
"That's just what I thought about you," admitted Jack. "You see,
everyone has sort of laughed at me down here because I said there
might be German spies about. I've always been suspicious of the
people who took Bray Park. They didn't act the way English people
do. They didn't come to church, and when the pater -- I told you
he was the vicar here, didn't I? -- went to call, they wouldn't
let him in! Just sent word they were out. Fancy treating the
vicar like that!" he concluded with spirit. Harry knew enough of
the customs of the English countryside to understand that the new
tenants of Bray Park could not have chosen a surer method of
bringing down both dislike and suspicion upon themselves.
"That was a bit too thick, you know," Jack went on. "So when the
war started, I decided I'd keep my eyes open, especially on any
strangers who came around. So there you have it. I say! You'd
better let me try to make that ankle easier. You're limping
That was true, and Harry submitted gladly to such ministrations as
Jack knew how to offer. Cold water helped considerably, it
reduced the swelling. And then Jack skillfully improvised a
brace, that, binding the ankle tightly, gave it a fair measure of
"Now try that," he said. "See if it doesn't feel better!"
"It certainly does!" said Harry. "You're quite a doctor, aren't
you? Well now the next thing to do is to try to find where Dick
is. I know where he went -- to the place where we cached our
cycles and our papers."
Like Dick, he was hopelessly at sea, for the moment, as to his
whereabouts. And he had, more-over, to reckon with the turns and
twists of the tunnel, which there had been no way of following in
the utter darkness. But Jack Young, who, of course, could have
found his way anywhere within five miles of them blindfolded,
helped him, and they soon found that they were less than half a
mile from the place.
"Can you come on with me, Jack?" asked Harry. He felt that in his
rescuer he had found a new friend, and one whom he was going to
like very well, indeed, and he wanted his company, if it was
"Yes. No one knows I am out," said Jack, frankly. "The pater's
like the rest of them here -- he doesn't take the war seriously
yet. When I said the other day that it might last long enough for
me to be old enough to go, he laughed at me. I really hope it
won't, but I wouldn't be surprised if id did, would you?"
"No, I wouldn't. It's too early to tell anything about it yet,
really. But if the Germans fight the way they always have before,
it's going to be a long war."
They talked as they went, and, though Harry's ankle was still
painful, the increased speed the bandaging made possible more than
made up for the time it had required. Harry was anxious about
Dick, he wanted to rejoin him as soon as possible. And so it was
not long before they came near to the place where the cycles had
"We'd better go slow. In case anyone else watched us this
afternoon, we don't want to walk into a trap," said Harry. He was
more upset than he had cared to admit by the discovery that he and
Dick had been spied upon by Jack, excellent though it had been
that it was so. For what Jack had done it was conceivable that
someone else, too, might have accomplished.
"All right. You go ahead," said Jack. "I'll form a rear guard --
d'ye see? Then you can't be surprised."
"That's a good idea," said Harry. "There, see that big tree, that
blasted one over there? I marked that. The cache is in a
straight line, almost, from that, where the ground dips a little.
There's a clump of bushes."
"There's someone there, too," said Jack. "He's tugging at a
cycle, as if he were trying to get ready to start it."
"That'll be Dick, then," said Harry, greatly relieved. "All right
-- I'll go ahead!"
He went on then, and soon he, too, saw Dick busy with the
"Won't he be glad to see me, though?" he thought. "Poor old Dick!
I'll bet he's had a hard time."
Then he called, softly. And Dick turned. But -- it was not Dick.
It was Ernest Graves!
AN UNEXPECTED BLOW!
For a moment it would have been hard to lay which of them was more
completely staggered and amazed.
"What are you doing here?" Harry gasped, finally.
And then, all at once, it came over him that it did not matter
what Ernest answered, that there could be no reasonable and good
explanation for what he had caught Graves doing.
"You sneak!" he cried. "What are you doing here -- spying on us?"
He sprang forward, and Graves, with a snarling cry of anger,
lunged to meet him. Had he not been handicapped by his lame
ankle, Harry might have given a good account of himself in a hand-
to-hand fight with Graves, but, as it was, the older boy's
superior weight gave him almost his own way. Before Jack, who was
running up, could reach them, Graves threw Harry off. He stood
looking down on him for just a second.
"That's what you get for interfering, young Fleming!" he said.
"There's something precious queer about you, my American friend.
I fancy you'll have to do some explaining about where you've been
tonight." Harry was struggling to his feet. Now he saw the
papers in Graves' hand. "You thief!" he cried. "Those papers
belong to me! You've stolen them! Give them here!" But Graves
only laughed in his face.
"Come and get them!" he taunted. And, before either of the scouts
could realize what he meant to do he had started one of the
motorcycles, sprung to the saddle, and started. In a moment he
was out of sight, around a bend in the road. Only the put-put of
the motor, rapidly dying away, remained of him. But, even in that
moment, the two he left behind him were busy. Jack sprang to the
other motorcycle, and tried to start it, but in vain. Something
was wrong; the motor refused to start.
"That's what he was doing when I saw him first," cried Harry, with
a flash of inspiration. "I thought it was Dick, trying to start
his motor -- it was Graves trying to keep us from starting it!
But he can't have done very much -- I don't believe he had the
time. We ought to be able to fix it pretty soon."
"It's two miles to the repair place!" said Jack, blankly.
"Not to this repair shop," said Harry, with a laugh. The need of
prompt and efficient action pulled him together. He forgot his
wonder at finding Graves, the pain of his ankle, everything but
the instant need of being busy. He had to get that cycle going
and be off in pursuit, that was all there was to it.
"Give me a steady light," he directed. "I think he's probably
disconnected the wires of the magneto -- that's what I'd do if I
wanted to put a motor out of business in a hurry. And if that's
all, there's no great harm done."
"I don't see how you know all that!" wondered Jack. "I can ride
one of those things, but the best I can do is mend a puncture, if
I should have one."
"Oh!" said Dick, "it's easy enough," working while he talked.
"You see, the motor itself can't be hurt unless you take an axe to
it, and break it all up. But to start you've got to have a spark -
- and you get that from electricity. So there are these little
wires that make the connection. He didn't cut them, thank Heaven!
He just disconnected them. If he'd cut them I might really have
been up a tree because that's the sort of accident you wouldn't
provide for in a repair kit."
"It isn't an accident at all," said Jack, literally.
"That's right," said Harry. "That's what I meant, too. Now let's
see. I think that's all. Good thing we came up when we did or
he'd have cut the tires to ribbons. And there are a lot of things
I'd rather do than ride one of these machines on its rims -- to
say nothing of how long the wheels would last if one tried to go
fast at all."
He tried the engine; it answered beautifully.
"Now is there a telephone in your father's house, Jack?"
"Sure there is. Why?" for Jack was plainly puzzled.
"So that I can call you up, of course! I'm going after Graves.
Later I'll tell you who he is. I'm in luck, really. He took
Dick's machine -- and mine is a good ten miles an hour faster. I
can race him and beat him but, of course, he couldn't know which
was the fastest. Dick's is the best looking. I suppose that's
why he picked it."
"But where is Dick?"
"That's what I'm coming to. They may have caught him but I hope
not. I don't think they did, either. I think he'll come along
here pretty soon. And, if he does, he'll have an awful surprise."
"I'll stay here and tell him --"
"You're a brick, Jack! It's just what I was going to ask you to
do. I can't leave word for him any other way, and I don't know
what he'd think if he came here and found the cycles and all gone.
Then take him home with you, will you? And I'll ring you up just
as soon as I can. Good-bye!"
And everything being settled as far as he could foresee it then,
Harry went scooting off into the night on his machine. As he
rode, with the wind whipping into his face and eyes, and the
incessant roar of the engine in his ears, he knew he was starting
what was likely to prove a wild-goose chase. Even if he caught
Graves, he didn't know what he could do, except that he meant to
get back the papers.
More and more, as he rode on, the mystery of Graves' behavior
puzzled him, worried him. He knew that Graves had been sore and
angry when he had not been chosen for the special duty detail.
But that did not seem a sufficient reason for him to have acted as
he had. He remembered, too, the one glimpse of Graves they had
caught before, in a place where he did not seem to belong.
And then, making the mystery still deeper, and defying
explanation, as it seemed to him, was the question of how Graves
had known, first of all, where they were, and of how he had
reached the place.
He had no motorcycle of his own or he would not have ridden away
on Dick's machine. He could not have come by train. Harry's head
swam with the problem that presented itself. And then, to make it
worse, there was that remark Graves had made. He had said Harry
would find it hard to explain where he had been. How did he know
where they had been? Why should he think it would be hard for
them to explain their actions?
"There isn't any answer," he said to himself.
"And, if there was, I'm a juggins to be trying to find it now.
I'd better keep my mind on this old machine, or it will ditch me!
I know what I've got to do, anyhow, even if I don't know why."
Mile after mile he rode, getting the very best speed he could out
of the machine. Somewhere ahead of him, he was sure, riding back
toward London, was Graves. In this wild pursuit he was taking
chances, of course. Graves might have turned off the road almost
anywhere. But if he had done that, there was nothing to be done
about it, that much was certain. He could only keep on with the
pursuit, hoping that his quarry was following the straight road
toward London. And, to be sure, there was every reason for him to
hope just that. By this time it was very late. No one was
abroad, the countryside was asleep. Once or twice he did find
someone in the streets of a village as he swept through, then he
stopped, and asked it a man on another motorcycle had passed ahead
of him. Two or three times the yokel he questioned didn't know,
twice, however, he did get a definite assurance that Graves was
ahead of him.
Somehow he never thought of the outrageously illegal speed he was
making. He knew the importance of his errand, and that, moreover,
he was a menace to nothing but the sleep of those he disturbed.
No one was abroad to get in his way, and he forgot utterly that
there might be need for caution, until, as he went through a fair
sized town, he suddenly saw three policemen, two of whom were also
mounted on motorcycles, waiting for him.
They waved their arms, crying out to him to stop, and, seeing that
he was trapped, he did stop.
"Let me by," he cried, angrily. "I'm on government service!"
"Another of them?" One of the policemen looked doubtfully at the
rest. "Too many of you telling that tale tonight. And the last
one said there was a scorcher behind him. Have you got any
papers? He had them!"
Harry groaned! So Graves had managed to strike at him, even when
he was miles away. Evidently he, too, had been held up,
evidently, also, he had used Harry's credentials to get out of the
scrape speeding had put him in.
"No, I haven't any credentials," he said, angrily. "But you can
see my uniform, can't you? I'm a Boy Scout, and we're all under
government orders now, like soldiers or sailors."
"That's too thin, my lad," said the policeman who seemed to be
recognized as the leader. "Everyone, we've caught for speeding
too fast since the war began has blamed it on the war. We'll have
to take you along, my boy. They telephoned to us from places you
passed -- they said you were going so fast it was dangerous. And
we saw you ourselves."
In vain Harry pleaded. Now that he knew that Graves had used his
credentials from Colonel Throckmorton, he decided that it would be
foolish to claim his own identity. Graves had assumed that, and
he had had the practically conclusive advantage of striking the
first blow. So Harry decided to submit to the inevitable with the
best grace he could muster.
"All right," he said. "I'll go along with you, officer. But
you'll be sorry before it's over!"
"Maybe, sir," said the policeman. "But orders is orders, sir, and
I've got to obey them. Not that I likes running a young gentleman
like yourself in. But --"
"Oh, I know you're only doing your duty, as you see it, officer,"
he said. "Can't be helped -- but I'm sorry. It's likely to cause
a lot of trouble."
So he surrendered. But, even while he was doing so, he was
planning to escape from custody.
A GOOD WITNESS
Dick's surprise and concern when he found the cache empty and
deserted, with papers and motorcycles alike gone, may be imagined.
For a moment he thought he must be mistaken, that, after all, he
had come to the wrong place. But a quick search of the ground
with his flashlight showed him that he had come to the right spot.
He could see the tracks made by the wheels of the machine; he
could see, also, evidences of the brief struggle between Harry and
Graves. For a moment his mystification continued. But then, with
a low laugh, Jack Young emerged from the cover in which he had
"Hello, there!" he said. "I say, are you Dick Mercer?"
"Yes!" gasped Dick. "But however do you know? I never saw you
"Well, you see me now," said Jack. "Harry Fleming told me to look
for you here. He said you'd be along some time tonight, if you
got away. And he was sure you could get away, too."
"Harry!" said Dick, dazed. "You've seen him? Where is he? Did
he get away? And what happened to the cycles and the papers we
hid there? Why --"
"Hold on! One question at a time," said Jack. "Keep your shirt
on, and I'll tell you all I know about it. Then we can decide
what is to be done next. I think I'll attach myself temporarily
to your patrol."
"Oh, you're a scout, too, are you?" asked Dick.
That seemed to explain a good deal. He was used to having scouts
turn up to help him out of trouble. And so he listened as
patiently as he could, while Jack explained what had happened.
"And that's all I know," said Jack, finally, when he had carried
the tale to the point where Harry rode off on the repaired
motorcycle in pursuit of Ernest Graves. "I should think you might
really know more about it now than I do."
"Why, how could I? You saw it all!"
"Yes, that's true enough. But you know Harry and I were too busy
to talk much after we found that motor was out of order. All I
know is that when we got here we found someone I'd never seen
before and never want to see again messing about with the cycles.
We thought it must be you, of course -- at least Harry did, and of
course I supposed he ought to know."
"And then you found it was Ernest Graves?"
"Harry did. He took one look at him and then they started right
in fighting. Harry seemed to be sure that was the thing to do.
If I'd been in his place I'd have tried to arbitrate I think.
This chap Graves was a lot bigger than he. He was carrying weight
for age. You see, I don't know yet who Graves is, or why Harry
wanted to start fighting him that way. I've been waiting
patiently for you to come along, so that you could tell me."
"He's a sneak!" declared Dick, vehemently. "I suppose you know
that Harry's an American, don't you?"
"Yes, but that's nothing against him."
"Of course it isn't! But this Graves is the biggest and oldest
chap in our troop -- he isn't in our patrol. And he thought that
if any of us were going to be chosen for special service, he ought
to have the first chance. So when they picked Harry and me, he
began talking about Harry's being an American. He tried to act as
if he thought it wasn't safe for anyone who wasn't English to be
"It looks as if he had acted on that idea, too, doesn't it, then?
It seems to me that he has followed you down here, just to get a
chance to play some trick on you. He got those papers, you see.
And I fancy you'll be blamed for losing them."
"How did he know we were here?" said Dick, suddenly. "That's what
I'd like to know!"
"Yes, it would be a good thing to find that out," said Jack,
thoughtfully. "Well, it will be hard to do. But we might find
out how he got here. I know this village and the country all
around here pretty well. And Gaffer Hodge will know, if anyone
does. He's the most curious man in the world. Come on -- we'll
see what he has to say."
"Who is he?" asked Dick, as they began to walk briskly toward the
"You went through the village this afternoon, didn't you? Didn't
you see a very old man with white hair and a stick beside him,
sitting in a doorway next to the little shop by the Red Dog?"
"That's Gaffer Hodge. He's the oldest man in these parts. He can
remember the Crimean War and -- oh, everything! He must be over a
hundred years old. And he watches everyone who comes in. If a
stranger is in the village he's never happy until he knows all
about him. He was awfully worried today about you and Harry, I
heard," explained Jack.
Dick laughed heartily.
"Well, I do hope he can tell us something about Graves. The
sneak! I certainly hope Harry catches up to him. Do you think he
"Well, he might, if he was lucky. He said the cycle he was riding
was faster than the other. But of course it would be very hard to
tell just which to way to go. If Graves knew there was a chance
that he might be followed he ought to be able to give anyone who
was even a mile behind the slip."
"Of course it's at night and that makes it harder for Harry."
"Yes, I suppose it does. In the daytime Harry could find people
to tell him which way Graves was going, couldn't he?"
"Yes. That's just what I meant."
"Oh, I say, won't Gaffer Hodge be in bed and asleep?"
"I don't think so. He doesn't seem to like to go to bed. He sits
up very late, and talks to the men when they start to go home from
the Red Dog. He likes to talk, you see. We'll soon know - that's
one thing. We'll be there now in no time."
Sure enough, the old man was still up when they arrived. He was
just saying goodnight, in a high, piping voice, to a little group
of men who had evidently been having a nightcap in the inn next to
his house. When he saw Jack he smiled. They were very good
friends, and the old man had found the boy one of his best
listeners. The Gaffer liked to live in the past, he was always
delighted when anyone would let him tell his tales of the things
"Good-evening, Gaffer," said Jack, respectfully. "This is my
friend, Dick Mercer. He's a Boy Scout from London."
"Knew it! Knew it!" said Gaffer Hodge, with a senile chuckle. "I
said they was from Lunnon this afternoon when I seen them fust!
Glad to meet you, young master."
Then Jack described Graves as well as he could from his brief
sight of him, and Dick helped by what he remembered.
"Did you see him come into town this afternoon, Gaffer?" asked
"Let me think," said the old man. "Yes -- I seen 'un. Came
sneaking in, he did, this afternoon as ever was! Been up to the
big house at Bray Park, he had. Came in an automobile, he did.
Then he went back there. But he was in the post office when you
and t'other young lad from Lunnon went by, maister," nodding his
head as if well pleased. This was to Dick, and he and Jack stared
at one another. Certainly their visit to Gaffer Hodge had paid
"Are you sure of that, Gaffer?" asked Jack, quietly. "Sure that
it was an automobile from Bray Park?"
"Sure as ever was!" said the old man, indignantly. Like all old
people, he hated anyone to question him, resenting the idea that
anyone could think he was mistaken. "Didn't I see the machine
myself -- a big grey one, with black stripes as ever was, like all
"That's true -- that's the way their cars are painted, and they
have five or six of them," said Jack.
"Yes. And he come in the car from Lunnon before he went there --
and then he come out here. He saw you and t'other young lad from
Lunnon go by, maister, on your bicycles. He was watching you from
the shop as ever was."
"Thank you, Gaffer," said Jack, gravely. "You've told us just
what we wanted to know. I'll bring you some tobacco in the
morning, if you like. My father's just got a new lot down from
"Thanks, thank'ee kindly," said the Gaffer, overjoyed at the
Then they said good-night to the old man, who, plainly delighted
at the thought that he had been of some service to them, and at
this proof of his sharpness, of which he was always boasting, rose
and hobbled into his house.
"He's really a wonderful old man," said Dick.
"He certainly is," agreed Jack. "His memory seems to be as good
as ever, and he's awfully active, too. He's got rheumatism, but
he can see and hear as well as he ever could, my father says."
They walked on, each turning over in his mind what they had heard
"That's how he knew we were here," said Dick finally. "I've been
puzzling about that. I remember now seeing that car as we went
by. But of course I didn't pay any particular attention to it,
except that I saw a little American flag on it."
"Yes, they're supposed to be Americans, you know," said Jack.
"And I suppose they carry the flag so that the car won't be taken
for the army. The government has requisitioned almost all the
cars in the country, you know."
"I'm almost afraid to think about this," said Dick, after a moment
of silence. "Graves must know those people in that house, if he's
riding about in their car. And they --"
He paused, and they looked at one another.
"I don't know what to do!" said Dick. "I wish there was some way
to tell Harry about what we've found out," Jack started.
"I nearly forgot!" he said. "We'd better cut for my place. I told
Harry we'd be there if he needed a telephone, you know. Come on!"
THE FIRST BLOW
To Harry, as he was taken off to the police station, it seemed the
hardest sort of hard luck that his chase of Graves should be
interrupted at such a critical time and just because he had been
over-speeding. But he realized that he was helpless, and that he
would only waste his breath if he tried to explain matters until
he was brought before someone who was really in authority. Then,
if he had any luck, he might be able to clear things up. But the
men who arrested him were only doing their duty as they saw it,
and they had no discretionary power at all.
When he reached the station he was disappointed to find that no
one was on duty except a sleepy inspector, who was even less
inclined to listen to reason than the constables. "Everyone who
breaks the law has a good excuse, my lad," he said. "If we
listened to all of them we might as well close up this place. You
can tell your story to the magistrate in the morning. You'll be
well treated tonight, and you're better off with us than running
around the country -- a lad of your age! If I were your father, I
should see to it that you were in bed and asleep before this."
There was no arguing with such a man, especially when he was
sleepy. So Harry submitted, very quietly, to being put into a
cell. He was not treated like a common prisoner, that much he was
grateful for. His cell was really a room, with windows that were
not even barred. And he saw that he could be very comfortable
"You'll be all right here," said one of the constables. "Don't
worry, my lad. You'll be let off with a caution in the morning.
Get to sleep now -- it's late, and you'll be roused bright and
early in the morning."
Harry smiled pleasantly, and thanked the man for his good advice.
But he had no intention whatever of taking it. He did not even
take off his clothes, though he did seize the welcome chance to us
the washstand that was in the room. He had been through a good
deal since his last chance to wash and clean up, and he was grimmy
and dirty. He discovered, too, that he was ravenously hungry.
Until that moment, he had been too active, too busy with brain and
body, to notice his hunger.
However, there was nothing to be done for that now. He and Dick
had not stopped for meals that day since breakfast, and they had
eaten their emergency rations in the early afternoon. In the tool
case on his impounded motorcycle, Harry knew there were condensed
food tables - each the equivalent of certain things like eggs, and
steaks and chops. And there were cakes of chocolate, too, the
most nourishing of foods that were small in bulk. But the
knowledge did him little good now. He didn't even know where the
motorcycle had been stored for the night. It had been
confiscated, of course; in the morning it would be returned to
But he didn't allow his thoughts to dwell long on the matter of
food. It was vastly more important that he should get away. He
had to get his news to Colonel Throckmorton. Perhaps Dick had
done that. But he couldn't trust that chance. Aside from that,
he wanted to know what had become of Dick. And, for the life of
him, he didn't see how he was to get away.
"If they weren't awfully sure of me, they'd have locked me up a
lot more carefully than this," he reflected. "And of course it
would be hard. I could get out of here easily enough."
He had seen a drain pipe down which, he felt sure, he could climb.
"But suppose I did," he went on, talking to himself. "I've got an
idea it would land me where I could be seen from the door -- and I
suppose that's open all night. And, then if I got away from here,
every policeman in this town would know me. They'd pick me up if
I tried to get out, even if I walked."
He looked out of the window. Not so far away he could see a faint
glare in the sky. That was London. He was already in the
suburban chain that ringed the great city. This place -- he did
not know its name, certainly -- was quite a town in itself. And
he was so close to London that there was no real open country.
One town or borough ran right into the next. The houses would
grow fewer, thinning out, but before the gap became real, the
outskirts of the next borough would be reached.
Straight in front of him, looking over the house tops, he could
see the gleam of water. It was a reservoir, he decided. Probably
it constituted the water supply for a considerable section. And
then, as he looked, he saw a flash -- saw a great column of water
rise in the air, and descend, like pictures of a cloudburst. A
moment after the explosion, he heard a dull roar. And after the
roar another sound. He saw the water fade out and disappear, and
it was a moment before he realized what was happening. The
reservoir had been blown up! And that meant more than the danger
and the discomfort of an interrupted water supply. It meant an
immediate catastrophe -- the flooding of all the streets nearby.
In England, as he knew, such reservoirs were higher than the
surrounding country, as a rule. They were contained within high
walls, and, after a rainy summer, such as this had been, would be
full to overflowing. He was hammering at his door in a moment,
and a sleepy policeman, aroused by the sudden alarm, flung it open
as he passed on his way to the floor below.
Harry rushed down, and mingled, unnoticed, with the policemen who
had been off duty, but summoned now to deal with this disaster.
The inspector who had received him paid no attention to him at
"Out with you, men!" he cried. "There'll be trouble over this --
no telling but what people may be drowned. Double quick, now!"
They rushed out, under command of a sergeant. The inspector
stayed behind, and now he looked at Harry.
"Hullo!" he said. "How did you get out?"
"I want to help!" said Harry, inspired. "I haven't done anything
really wrong, have I? Oughtn't I be allowed to do whatever I can,
now that something like this has happened?"
"Go along with you!" said the inspector. "All right! But you'd
better come back -- because we've got your motorcycle, and we'll
keep that until you come back for it."
But it made little difference to Harry that he was, so to speak,
out on bail. The great thing was that he was free. He rushed
out, but he didn't make for the scene of the disaster to the
reservoir, caused, as he had guessed, by some spy. All the town
was pouring out now, and the streets were full of people making
for the place where the explosion had occurred. It was quite easy
for Harry to slip through them and make for London. He did not
try to get his cycle. But before he had gone very far he over
took a motor lorry that had broken down. He pitched in and helped
with the slight repairs it needed, and the driver invited him to
ride along with him.
"Taking in provisions for the troops, I am," he said. "If you're
going to Lunnon, you might as well ride along with me. Eh,
His question was addressed to a sleepy private, who was nodding on
the seat beside die driver. He started now, and looked at Harry.
"All aboard!" he said, with a sleepy chuckle. "More the merrier,
say I! Up all night -- that's what I've been! Fine sort of war
this is? Do I see any fightin'? I do not! I'm a bloomin'
chaperone for cabbages and cauliflowers and turnips, bless their
Harry laughed. It was impossible not to do that.
But he knew that if the soldier wanted fighting, fighting he would
get before long. Harry could guess that regular troops -- and
this man was a regular -- would not be kept in England as soon as
the territorials and volunteers in sufficient number had joined
the colors. But meanwhile guards were necessary at home.
He told them, in exchange for the ride, of the explosion and the
flood that had probably followed it.
"Bli'me!" said the soldier, surprised. "Think of that, now! What
will they be up to next -- those Germans? That's what I'd like to
mow! Coming over here to England and doing things like that! I'd
have the law on 'em - that's what I'd do!"
Harry laughed. So blind to the real side of war were men who, at
any moment, might find themselves face to face with the enemy!
THE SILENT WIRE
Probably Jack Young and Dick reached the vicarage just about the
time that saw Harry getting into trouble with the police for
speeding. The vicar was still up, he had a great habit of reading
late. And he seemed considerably surprised to find that Jack was
not upstairs in bed. At first he was inclined even to be angry,
but he changed his mind when he saw Dick, and heard something of
what had happened.
"Get your friend something to eat and I'll have them make a hot
bath ready," said the vicar. "He looks as if he needed both!"
This was strictly true. Dick was as hungry and as grimy as Harry
himself. If anything, he was in even worse shape, for his flight
through the fields and the brook had enabled him to attach a good
deal of the soil of England to himself. So the thick sandwiches
and the bowl of milk that were speedily set before him were
severely punished. And while he ate both he and Jack poured out
their story. Mr. Young frowned as he listened. Although he was a
clergyman and a lover of peace, he was none the less a patriot.
"Upon my word!" he said. "Wireless, you think, my boy?"
"I'm sure of it, sir," said Dick.
"And so'm I," chimed in Jack. "You know, sir, I've thought ever
since war seemed certain that Bray Park would bear a lot of
watching and that something ought to be done. Just because this
is a little bit of a village, without even a railroad station,
people think nothing could happen here. But if German spies
wanted a headquarters, it's just the sort of place they would pick
"There's something in that," agreed the vicar, thoughtfully. But
in his own mind he was still very doubtful. The whole thing
seemed incredible to him. Yet, as a matter of fact, it was no
more incredible than the war itself. What inclined him to be
dubious, as much as anything else, was the fact that it was mere
boys who had made the discovery.
He had read of outbreaks of spy fever in various parts of England,
in which the most harmless and inoffensive people were arrested
and held until they could give some good account of themselves.
This made him hesitate, while precious time was being wasted.
"I hardly know what to do -- what to suggest," he went on,
musingly. "The situation is complicated, really. Supposing you
are right, and that German spies really own Bray Park, and are
using it as a central station for sending news that they glean
out of England, what could be done about it?"
"The place ought to be searched at once every-one there ought to
be arrested!" declared Jack, impulsively. His father smiled.
"Yes, but who's going to do it?" he said. "We've just one
constable here in Bray. And if there are Germans there in any
number, what could he do? I suppose we might send word to
Harobridge and get some polite or some territorials over. Yes,
that's the best thing to do."
But now Dick spoke up in great eagerness. "I don't know, sir," he
suggested. "If the soldiers came, the men in the house there
would find out they were coming, I'm afraid. Perhaps they'd get
away, or else manage to hide everything that would prove the truth
about them. I think it would be better to report direct to
Colonel Throckmorton. He knows what we found out near London,
sir, you see, and he'd be more ready to believe us."
"Yes, probably you're right. Ring him up, then. It's late, but
he won't mind."
What a different story there would have been to tell had someone
had that thought only half an hour earlier! But it is often so.
The most trivial miscalculation, the most insignificant mistake,
seemingly, may prove to be of the most vital importance. Dick
went to the telephone. It was one of the old-fashioned sort,
still in almost universal use in the rural parts of England, that
require the use of a bell to call the central office. Dick turned
the crank, then took down the receiver. At once he herd a
confused buzzing sound that alarmed him.
"I'm afraid the line is out of order, sir," he said. And after
fifteen minutes it was plain that he was right. The wire had
either been cut or it had fallen or been short circuited in some
other way. Dick and Jack looked at one another blankly. The same
thought had come to each of them, and at the same moment.
"They've cut the wires!" said Dick. "Now what shall we do? We
can't hear from Harry, either!"
"We might have guessed they'd do that!" said Jack. "They must
have had some one out to watch us, Dick -- perhaps they thought
they'd have a chance to catch us. They know that we've found out
something, you see! It's a good thing we stayed where we could
make people hear us if we got into any trouble."
"Oh, nonsense!" said the vicar, suddenly. "You boys are letting
your imaginations run away with you. Things like that don't
happen in England. The wire is just out of order. It happens
often enough, Jack, as you know very well!"
"Yes, sir," said Jack, doggedly. "But that's in winter, or after
a heavy storm - not in fine weather like this. I never knew the
wire to be out of order before when it was the way it is now."
"Well, there's nothing to be done, in any case," said the vicar.
"Be off to bed, and wait until morning. There's nothing you can
Dick looked as if he were about to make some protest, but a glance
at Jack restrained him. Instead he got up, said good-night and
followed Jack upstairs. There he took his bath, except that he
substituted cold water for the hot, for he could guess what Jack
meant to do. They were going out again, that was certain. And,
while it is easy to take cold, especially when one is tired, after
a hot bath, there is no such danger if the water is cold.
"Do you know where the telephone wire runs?" he asked Jack.
"Yes, I do," said Jack. "I watched the men when they ran the wire
in. There are only three telephones in the village, except for
the one at Bray Park, and that's a special, private wire. We have
one here, Doctor Brunt has one, and there's another in the garage.
They're all on one party line, too. We won't have any trouble in
finding out if the wire was cut, I fancy."
Their chief difficulty lay in getting out of the house. True,
Jack had not been positively ordered not to go out again, but he
knew that if his father saw him, he would be ordered to stay in.
And he had not the slightest intention of missing any part of the
finest adventure he had ever had a chance to enjoy - not he! He
was a typical English boy, full of the love of adventure and
excitement for their own sake, even if he was the son of a
clergyman. And now he showed Dick what they would have to do.
"I used to slip out this way, sometimes," he said. "That was
before I was a scout. I - well, since I joined, I haven't done
it. It didn't seem right. But this is different. Don't you
think so, Dick?"
"I certainly do," said Dick. "Your pater doesn't understand,
Jack. He thinks we've just found a mare's nest, I fancy."
Jack's route of escape was not a difficult one. It led to the
roof of the scullery, at the back of the house, and then, by a
short and easy drop of a few feet, to the back garden. Once they
were in that, they had no trouble. They could not be heard or
seen from the front of the house, and it was a simple matter of
climbing fences until it was safe to circle back and strike the
road in front again. Jack led the way until they came to the
garage, which was at the end of the village, in the direction of
Their course also took them nearer to Bray Park, but at the time
they did not think of this.
"There's where the wire starts from the garage, d'ye see!" said
Jack, pointing. "You see how easily We can follow it -- it runs
along those poles, right beside the road."
"It seems to be all right here," said Dick.
"Oh, yes. They wouldn't have cut it so near the village," said
Jack. "We'll have to follow it along for a bit, I fancy a mile or
so, perhaps. Better not talk much, either. And, I say, hadn't we
better stay in the shadow? They must have been watching us before
-- better not give them another chance, if we can help it," was
Jack's very wise suggestion. They had traveled nearly a mile when
Dick suddenly noticed that the telephone wire sagged between two
posts, "I think it has been. Cut -- and that we're near the
place, too," he said then, "Look, Jack! There's probably a break
not far from here,"
"Right, oh!" said Jack. "Now we must be careful. I've just
thought, Dick, that they might have left someone to watch at the
place where they cut the wire."
"Well, they might have thought we, or someone else, might come
along to find out about it, just as we're doing. I'm beginning to
think those beggars are mightily clever, and that if they think of
doing anything, they're likely to think that we'll think of it.
They've outwitted us at every point so far,"
So now, instead of staying under the hedge, but still in the road,
they crept through a gap in the hedge, tearing their clothes as
they did so, since it was a blackberry row, and went along still
in sight of the poles and the wire, but protected by the hedge so
that no one in the road could see them.
"There!" said Jack, at last. "See? You were right, Dick. There's
the place -- and the wire was cut, too! It wasn't an accident.
But I was sure of that as soon as I found the line wasn't
Sure enough, the wires were dangling. And there was something
else. Just as they stopped they heard the voices of two men.
"There's the break, Bill," said the first voice. "Bli'me, if she
ain't cut, too! Now who did that? Bringing us out of our beds at
this hour to look for trouble!"
"I'd like to lay my hands on them, that's all!" said the second
voice. "A good job they didn't carry the wire away -- 'twon't
take us long to repair, and that's one precious good thing!"
"Linemen," said Jack. "But I wonder why they're here? They must
have come a long way. I shouldn't be surprised if they'd ridden
on bicycles. And I never heard of their sending to repair a wire
at night before."
"Listen," said Dick. "Perhaps we will find out."
"Well, now that we've found it, we might as well repair it," said
the first lineman, grumblingly. "All comes of someone trying to
get a message through to Bray and making the manager believe it
was a life and death matter!"
"Harry must have tried to telephone -- that's why they've come,"
said Jack. "I was wondering how they found out about the break.
You see, as a rule, no one would try to ring up anyone in Bray
after seven o'clock or so. And of course, they couldn't tell we
were trying to ring, with the wire cut like that."
"Oh, Jack!" said Dick, suddenly. 'If they're linemen, I believe
they have an instrument with them. Probably we could call to
London from here. Do you think they will let us do that ?"
"That's a good idea. We'll try it, anyway," said Jack. "Come on.
It must be safe enough now. These chaps won't hurt us."
But Jack was premature in thinking that. For no sooner did the
two linemen see them than they rushed for them, much to both lads'
"You're the ones who cut that wire," said the first, a dark, young
fellow. "I've a mind to give you a good hiding!"
But they both rushed into explanations, and luckily, the other
lineman recognized Jack.
"It's the vicar's son from Bray, Tom," he said. "Let him alone."
And then, while their attention was distracted, a bullet sang over
their heads. And "Hands oop!" said in a guttural voice.
A Treacherous Deed
Harry Fleming had, of course, given up all hope of catching Graves
by a direct pursuit by the time he accepted the offer of a ride in
the motor truck that was carrying vegetables for the troops in
quarters in London. His only hope now was to get his information
to Colonel Throckmorton as soon as possible. At the first
considerable town they reached, where he found a telegraph office
open, he wired to the colonel, using the code which he had
memorized. The price of a couple of glasses of beer had induced
the driver and the soldier to consent to a slight delay of the
truck, and he tried also to ring up Jack Young's house and find
out what had happened to Dick.
When he found that the line was out of order he leaped at once to
the same conclusion that Jack and Dick had reached -- that it had
been cut on purpose. He could not stay to see if it would be
A stroke of luck came his way, however. In this place Boy Scouts
were guarding the gas works and an electric light and power plant,
and he found one squad just coming off duty. He explained
something of his errand to the patrol leader, and got the
assurance that the telephone people should be made to repair the
break in the wire.
"We'll see to it that they find out what is the trouble, Fleming,"
said the patrol leader, whose name was Burridge. "By the way, I
know a scout in your troop -- Graves. He was on a scout with us a
few weeks ago, when he was visiting down here. Seemed to be no
end of a good fellow."
Harry was surprised for he had heard nothing of this before. But
then that was not strange. He and Graves were not on terms of
intimacy, by any means. He decided quickly not to say anything
against Graves. It could do no good and it might do harm.
"Right," he said. "I know him -- yes. I'll be going, then.
You'll give my message to Mercer or Young if there's any way of
getting the line clear?"
"Yes, if I sit up until my next turn of duty," said Burridge, with
a smile. "Good luck, Fleming."
Then Harry was off again. Dawn was very near now. The east,
behind him, was already lighted up with streaks of glowing
crimson. Dark clouds were massed there, and there was a feeling
in the air that carried a foreboding of rain, strengthening the
threat of the red sky. Harry was not sorry for that. There would
be work at Bray Park that might well fare better were it done
under leaden skies.
As he rode he puzzled long and hard over what he had learned. It
seemed to him that these German spies were taking desperate
chances for what promised to be, at best, a small reward. What
information concerning the British plans could they get that would
be worth all they were risking? The wireless at Bray Park, the
central station near Willesden, whence the reports were
heliographed -- it was an amazingly complete chain. And Harry
knew enough of modern warfare to feel that the information could
be important only to an enemy within striking distance.
That was the point. It might be interesting to the Gennan staff
to know the locations of British troops in England, and, more
especially, their destinations if they were going abroad as part
of an expeditionary force to France or Belgium. But the
information would not be vital, it didn't seem to Harry that it
was worth all the risk implied. But if, on the other hand, there
was some plan for a German invasion of England, then he would have
no difficulty in understanding it. Then knowledge of where to
strike, of what points were guarded and what were not, would be
"But what a juggins I am!" he said. "They can't invade England,
even if they could spare the troops. Not while the British fleet
controls the sea. They'd have to fly over."
And with that half laughing expression he got the clue he was
looking for. Fly over! Why not? Flight was no longer a theory,
a possibility of the future. It war, something definite, that had
arrived. Even as he thought of the possibility he looked up and
saw, not more than a mile away, two monoplanes of a well-known
English army type flying low.
"I never thought of that!" he said to himself.
And now that the idea had come to him, he began to work out all
sorts of possibilities. He thought of a hundred different things
that might happen. He could see, all at once, the usefulness Bray
Park might have. Why, the place was like a volcano! It might
erupt at any minute, spreading ruin and destruction in all
directions. It was a hostile fortress, set down in the midst of a
country that, even though it was at war, could not believe that
war might come borne to it.
He visualized, as the truck kept in its plodding way, the manner
in which warfare might be directed from a center like Bray Park.
Thence aeroplanes, skillfully fashioned to represent the British
planes, and so escape quick detection, might set forth. They
could carry a man or two, elude guards who thought the air lanes
safe, and drop bombs here, there everywhere and anywhere. Perhaps
some such aerial raid was responsible for the explosion that had
freed him only a very few hours before. Warfare in England,
carried on thus by a few men, would be none the less deadly
because it would not involve fighting. There would be no pitched
battles, that much he knew. Instead, there would be swift,
stabbing raids. Water works, gas works, would be blown up.
Attempts would be made to drop bombs in barracks, perhaps.
Certainly every effort would be made to destroy the great
warehouses in which food was stored. It was new, this sort of
warfare, it defied the imagination. And yet it was the warfare
that, once he thought of it, it seemed certain that the Germans
He gritted his teeth at the thought of it. Perhaps all was fair
in love and war, as the old proverb said. But this seemed like
sneaky, unfair fighting to him. There was nothing about it of the
glory of warfare. He was learning for himself that modern warfare
is an ugly thing. He was to learn, later, that it still held its
possibilities of glory, and of heroism. Indeed, for that matter,
he was willing to grant the heroism of the men who dared these
things that seemed to him so horrible. They took their lives in
their hands, knowing that if they were caught they would be hung
The truck was well into London now, and the dawn was full. A
faint drizzle was beginning to fall and the streets were covered
with a fine film of mud. People were about, and London was
arousing itself to meet the new day. Harry knew that he was near
his journey's end. Tired as he was, he was determined to make his
report before he thought of sleep. And then, suddenly, around a
bend, came a sight that brought Harry to his feet, scarcely able
to believe his eyes. It was Graves, on a bicycle. At the sight
of Harry on the truck he stopped. Then he turned.
"Here he is!" he cried. "That's the one!"
A squad of men on cycles, headed by a young officer, came after
"Stop!" called the officer to the driver.
Harry stared down, wondering.
"You there -- you Boy Scout come down!" said the officer.
Harry obeyed, wondering still more. He saw the gleam of malignant
triumph on the face of Graves. But not even the presence of the
officer restrained him.
"Where are those papers you stole from me, you sneak ?" he cried.
"You keep away from me!" said Graves. "You Yankee!"
"Here, no quarreling!" said the officer. "Take him, men!"
Two of the soldiers closed in on Harry. He stared at them and
then at the officer, stupefied.
"What -- what's this?" he stammered.
"You're under arrest, my lad, on a charge of espionage!" said the
officer. "Espionage, and conspiracy to give aid and comfort to
the public enemy. Anything you say may be used against you."
For a moment such a rush of words came to Harry, that he was
silent by the sheer inability to decide which to utter first. But
then he got control of himself.
"Who makes this charge against me!" he asked, thickly, his face
flushing scarlet in anger.
"You'll find that out in due time, my lad. Forward march!"
"But I've got important information! I must be allowed to see
Colonel Throckmorton at once! Oh, you've got no idea how
important it may be!"
"My orders are to place you under arrest. You can make
application to see anyone later. But now I have no discretion.
Come! If you really want to see Colonel Throckmorton, you had
better move on."
Harry knew as well as anyone the uselessness of appealing from
such an order, but he was frantic. Realizing the importance of
the news he carried, and beginning to glimpse vaguely the meaning
of Graves and his activity, he was almost beside himself.
"Make Graves there give back the papers he took from me!" he
"I did take some papers, lieutenant," said Graves, with engaging
frankness. "But they were required to prove what I had suspected
almost from the first -- that he was a spy. He was leading an
English scout from his own patrol into trouble, too. I suppose he
thought he was more likely to escape suspicion if he was with an
"It's not my affair," said the lieutenant, shrugging his
shoulders. He turned to Harry. "Come along, my lad. I hope you
can clear yourself. But I've only one thing to do -- and that is
to obey my orders."
Harry gave up, then, for the moment. He turned and began walking
along, a soldier on each side. But as he did so Graves turned to
"I'll go and get my breakfast, then, sir," he said. "I'll come on
to Ealing later. Though, of course, they know all I can tell them
"All right," said the officer, indifferently.
"You're never going to let him go!" exclaimed Harry, aghast.
"Don't you know he'll never come back?"
"All the better for you, if he doesn't," said the officer.
"That's enough of your lip, my lad. Keep a quiet tongue in your
head. Remember you're a prisoner, and don't try giving orders to
The bullet that sang over their heads effectually broke up the
threatened trouble between Dick Mercer and Jack Young on one side,
and the telephone linemen on the other. With one accord they
obeyed that guttural order, "Hands oop!"
They had been so interested in one another and in the cut wire
that none of them had noticed the practically noiseless approach
of a great grey motor car, with all lights out, that had stolen up
on them. But now, with a groan, Dick and Jack both knew it for
one of the Bray Park cars. So, after all, Dick's flight had been
in vain. He had escaped the guards of Bray Park once, only to
walk straight into this new trap. And, worst of all, there would
be no Jack Young outside to help this time, for Jack was a
captive, too. Only -- he was not!
At the thought Dick had turned, to discover that Jack was not
beside him. It was very dark, but in a moment he caught the
tiniest movement over the hedge, and saw a spot a little darker
than the rest of the ground about it. Jack, he saw at once had
taken the one faint chance there was, dropped down, and crawled
away, trusting that their captures had not counted their party,
and might not miss the boy.
Just in time he slipped through a hole in the hedge. The next
moment one of the headlights in the grey motor flashed out, almost
blinding the the rest of them, as they held up their hands. In its
light from the car, four men, well armed with revolvers, were
"Donnerwetter!" said one. "I made sure there were four of them!
So! Vell, it is enough. Into the car with them!"
No pretence about this chap! He was German, and didn't care who
knew it. He was unlike the man who had disguised himself as an
English officer, at the house of the heliograph, but had betrayed
himself and set this whole train of adventure going by his single
slip and fall from idiomatic English that Harry Fleming's sharp
ears had caught.
Dick was thrilled, somehow, even while he was being roughly
bundled toward the motor. If these fellows were as bold as this,
cutting telephone wires, driving about without lights, giving up
all secrecy and pretence, it must mean that the occasion for which
they had come was nearly over. It must mean that their task,
whatever it might be, was nearly accomplished -- the blow they had
come to strike was about ready to be driven home.
"'Ere, who are you a shovin' off?" complained one of the linemen,
as he was pushed toward the motor. He made some effort to resist
but the next moment he pitched forward. One of the Germans had
struck him on the head with the butt of his revolver. It was a
stunning blow, and the man was certainly silenced. Dick recoiled
angrily from the sight, but he kept quiet. He knew he could do no
good by interfering. But the sheer, unnecessary brutality of it
shocked and angered him. He felt that Englishmen, or Americans,
would not treat a prisoner so -- especially one who had not been
fighting. These men were not even soldiers, they were spies,
which made the act the more outrageous. They were serving their
country, however, for all that, and that softened Dick's feeling
toward them a little. True, they were performing their service in
a sneaky, underhanded way that went against his grain. But it was
service, and he knew that England, too, probably used spies,
forced to do so for self-defence. He realized the value of the
spy's work, and the courage that work required. If these men were
captured they would not share the fate of those surrendering in
battle but would be shot, or hung, without ceremony.
A minute later he was forced into the tonneau of the car, where he
lay curled up on the floor. Two of the Germans sat in the
cushioned seat while the two linemen, the one who had been hit
still unconscious, were pitched in beside him. The other two
Germans were in front, and the car began to move at a snail's
pace. The man beside the driver began speaking in German, his
companion replied. But one of the two behind interrupted,
"Speak English, dummer kerl he exclaimed, angrily. "These English
people have not much sense, but if a passerby should hear us
speaking German, he would be suspicious. Our words he cannot hear
and if they are in English he will think all is well."
"This is one of those we heard of this afternoon," said the
driver. "This Boy Scout. The other is riding to London -- but he
will not go, so far."
He laughed at that, and Dick, knowing he was speaking of Harry,
"Ja, that is all arranged," said the leader, with a chuckle. "Not
for long that could not be. But we need only a few hours more.
By this time tomorrow morning all will be done. He comes, Von
"We got the word tonight -- yes," said the other man. "All is
arranged for him. Ealing-Houndsditch, first. There are the
soldiers. Then Buckingham Palace. Ah, what a lesson we shall
teach these English! Then the buildings at Whitehall. We shall
strike at the heart of their empire the heart and the brains!"
Dick listened, appalled. Did they think, then, that he, a boy,
could not understand? Or were they so sure of success that it did
not matter? As a matter of fact, he did not fully understand.
Who was Von Wedel? What was he going to do when he came? And how
was he coming?
However, it was not the time for speculation. There was the
chance that any moment they might say something he would
understand, and, moreover, if he got away, it was possible that he
might repeat what he heard to those who would be able to make more
use of it.
Just then the leader's foot touched Dick, and he drew away. The
German looked down at him, and laughed. "Frightened!" he said.
"We won't hurt you! What a country that sends its children out
His manner was kindly enough, and Dick felt himself warming a
little to the big man in spite of himself.
"Listen, boy," said the leader. "You have seen things that were
not for your eyes. So you are to be put where knowledge of them
will do no harm -- for a few hours. Then you can go. But until
we have finished our work, you must be kept. You shall not be
hurt -- I say it."
Dick did not answer. He was thinking hard. He wondered if Jack
would try to rescue him. They were getting very near Bray Park,
he felt, and he thought that, once inside, neither Jack nor anyone
else could get him out until these men who had captured him were
willing. Then the car stopped suddenly. Dick saw that they were
outside a little house.
"Get out," said the leader.
Back to Full Books