The Boy Scouts in Front of Warsaw
Colonel George Durston
Part 2 out of 3
pans, he said sharply in English:
"Warren, do not eat!"
The three turned threateningly as he spoke, but as he made no effort to
continue the speech in what was to them an unknown tongue, they once
more went about their tasks. As they became interested in the tasks
they were doing, Ivan spoke again.
"Warren?" he said.
Warren heard. "Yes!"
"Don't try to keep the girls if they start to take them," he said as
rapidly as he could talk.
"There they go again!" said the woman "What are they up to, do you
Michael went over to Warren.
"Do you want your head broken again?" he scowled. "You will get it.
And you, too!" He turned to Ivan, and shouted threateningly across the
room. "It will be your turn if I hear you speak again."
Ivan, who had said all he wanted to, nodded and was silent.
Soon Michael and Patro picked Ivan up and carried him to the massive
bench that stood at one side of the table, and seating him there, tied
his legs in a clever fashion so that he was unable to reach the bonds,
he was so wedged between the bench and table. The place must once have
been a public wine room, and what furniture there was of the heaviest
Warren they lifted and tied in the same manner on the opposite side of
the great table.
"There!" said the woman Martha. "Now you can see each other, and talk
as long as you like." She looked at the men and laughed.
"Where are you going?" said Ivan in Polish.
"Well," said the woman, "I don't mind telling you in the least."
"Don't do it!" warned Patro.
"Why not? They are safe," said the woman.
"Won't your bonds hold as long as necessary? You see," she said,
turning to Warren, "it will be a day or two perhaps before your friends
find you. And even then I don't believe you will tell my plans. It
will be too late. We are going to tame these nice little girls, and
make beggars of them. Something useful, you see, instead of letting
them grow up in idleness as they would if they stayed with you. We
will go to Prague from here and I will give the little one to my
sister. Then we will get out of this accursed country soon as we can,
and get away where money comes easy to the poor war refugees. What do
you think of that?" She leered close to the boy's face.
Everything was ready. The food, poisoned as Ivan knew it to be, stood
temptingly between them, on the table. It was not an unpleasing meal.
To Warren, who had not tasted solid food for two days, everything
looked inviting. Ivan felt himself shaking with excitement. All was
ready. The men unbarred the door, and the woman with a last sneering
jest at the boys, picked up little Rika, while Michael lifted Elinor.
The child screamed.
"Warren, don't let them take me away! Don't let them take me!" she
cried over and over.
"Be a good girl! We will come for you very soon," said Ivan swiftly,
as she paused for breath.
The child screamed again, and Michael wound a thick muffler across her
The heavy door closed with a clash. The boys heard a faint cry, and
then the great key turned in the lock. They looked at each other.
"What does it all mean?" said Warren. He struggled furiously to
release his feet, but gave up to sit staring at Ivan. "What does it
"Well, for one thing, " said Ivan, "that food is poisoned." He
proceeded to recount to Warren, the strange circumstance of the
whispered conversation which he had so clearly overheard.
"It has saved our lives," said Warren solemnly. "I am starved and
would have eaten this stuff sure as nails . Gee, what an escape! Let
us work out of these ropes and get out of here. Perhaps, we can get
those cutthroats before they got away from the city."
For some moments the boys both wiggled and twisted to free themselves.
It was in vain. So closely were they wedged between the benches and
table, and so cleverly were their feet tied with rope and pieces of
board to wedge them, that it was absolutely an impossibility to release
themselves. All through the night they sat there, at intervals
renewing their efforts to get free, and with despair growing in their
hearts. They began to realize the seriousness of the situation. When
Warren's watch told them that morning had come, they found themselves
looking wistfully at the food. Its scent was in their famished
nostrils. Warren drew a piece of fish toward him.
"I wonder if it is all poisoned," he said.
With a cry Ivan reached out and swept the food from the table.
"There!" he exclaimed, "I found myself wondering the same thing. If
we die, we die -- but not that way, my Warren. We will be free yet.
Ivanovich does not die today."
But Warren, weakened from, his hurts, laid his head down on his arms
with a groan.
Ivan looked at him pityingly. The loss of his little sister had almost
crushed Warren. He who was always the leading spirit, quick and
resourceful, was for the moment crushed.
Ivan did not speak. He respected the grief of his friend. He knew
that soon he would be himself again, planning for success.
Late that same afternoon three Boy Scouts sauntered down the dark and
twisted alley leading to the river. The section of the city was
strange to them, and it was now so wrecked by the recent bombardment
that the enemy themselves shunned it. The poor creatures that had once
found lodging in those dark holes of want and famine had all fled at
the first gunshot; and the boys idled here and there, looking at the
marks of the shots, and picking up many a queer memento of the battle.
Warsaw had fallen; but the spirit of boys is the same all the world
over. In their imaginations, even while the smoke of battle still hung
over the city, they had planned other and victorious battles. They had
already saved Warsaw for a wonderful golden future.
As they climbed around, one of them pointed to the broken plaster on
"See!" he said. "A Scout! Two of them have been here. There are the
marks of the nails in their Scout shoes."
The other boys looked. Sure enough they saw distinctly the marks of
the well known Scout shoes, sold even in distant Warsaw.
"Let's follow them up," said another boy, leading the way.
It was something to do and they bent to the chase like young hounds on
a fresh fox trail. Rather to their disappointment, the tracks did not
double or disappear here and there. They led directly down the street.
As they followed, a faint cry sounded. The boys stopped, startled.
"What's that?" whispered one.
The cry was repeated. "Someone in trouble," cried the first boy,
The boy behind took a quick step, and caught him by the arm.
"Stop!" he whispered. "Don't go on! That's not a human voice."
Frozen in attitudes of astonishment, the boys stood listening with all
"Pshaw!" said the tall boy, Thaddeus, in his rapid Polish. "What think
you would cry like that -- spirits?" He laughed.
"It might be," said the second lad doggedly. "There are spirits, of
course; and when souls are set free in the violence of war they say
they ever return to haunt the scene of their passing."
"Well, nobody has passed here," said Thaddous, "alive or dead. Let's
"Wait just a minute," said the second boy. "I tell you there is evil
somewhere about here!"
"The street is dark and crooked enough to hold almost anything," said
Thaddeus. "I am not surprised now that my father always ordered me to
keep away from these streets leading to the river. They say many and
many a poor wretch has been bundled down there and pushed off into the
Vistula. She tells no tales, that river."
The cry was repeated. It was faint, and there was a note of pain or
terror in it that chilled the listeners. Very faint and far away it
"I'm going back," said the second boy.
"Go!" said Thaddeus scornfully, "Go and give up your Scout badge, and
tell the chapter that while the sons of Warsaw were not afraid to meet
a bloody death, you are not one of them because you think the spirits
are abroad in the town.
The boy blushed.
"Come!" said Thaddeus. "I know you don't mean it. There is someone in
trouble. Let us find them quickly."
Following the tracks and listening every few steps for the voices, the
boys reached the place where Warren and Ivan were imprisoned. They
were nearly exhausted from the cramped positions and the long fast.
They had called until their throats were parched, and their voices
croaked and wheezed. But as they heard the boys familiar and welcome
voices sound faintly through the heavy door, new energy thrilled then
and they lifted their voices together in a shout that echoed in the
vaulted room. It was answered.
So thick and close fitting was the door that they could not make the
listeners outside understand anything but the word "Help!" which,
spoken in any language, is certain to bring response. The boys outside
shouted assurances which were, also not understood, but the sound of
friendly voices put now life into Warren and Ivan every moment. The
great locked door was baffling; but there was plenty of heavy timbers
around, and finding a sort of battering ram was a moment's work. The
three went to work with a will. Blow after blow fell on the heavy
door. It did not yield an inch. The lock also held firm, but the new
casing was built in old and rotted wood. It gave, and with a dusty
splintering the door toppled in, and the boys, springing over without a
moment's hesitation, entered.
They hurried to the exhausted prisoners and cut the ropes and freed
them. Both boys were so numb that it was some time before the Scouts
could rub feeling into the cramped legs and feet.
Warren pointed to the floor where the pieces of food were scattered.
Three dead rats lay near.
"You were right, Ivan," he said with a great shudder.
"What is it?" said the Scout who was rubbing him.
"Poison," said Warren. "Meant for us." A little at a time he told the
newcomers the adventures of the past long hours.
After the blow on the bead Warren had lain unconscious for so long, and
when he finally roused the darkness and dungeon-like appearance of the
room so perplexed him, that he thought himself delirious. He was very
dizzy, and tried to sleep, feeling that if he could lose himself, he
would wake and find the whole thing a bad dream. Even when his sister
came and caressed him, he did not change his mind.
But finally full consciousness came, with all the suffering of his
hurts, as well as the dreadful anxiety about Elinor and Rika and the
seeming hopelessness of escape.
The boys all shook their heads when Ivan broke in to tell bow he had
given up the great ruby, only to be thought a thief. They listened
breathlessly when he told of the strange whisper that came so clearly
to his ears, and when they reached the account of the poison they
"Yon couldn't see the rats, could you?" Warren asked Ivan.
"No!" said Ivan.
"Well," said Warren, "it queered me so I thought I wouldn't say
anything about it. After you threw the food off the table, I looked
down and presently something slipped out of the shadow. It was the
biggest rat you ever saw. Much bigger than any of those. He walked
around bold as anything, and I began to think what a big fellow like
that could do if a fellow got down and out. Well, it made me cold.
Then he went off, and I think he told a lot of the others that there
was a lot of good eats on the floor, and half a dozen of them came
along, and went after that meat and stuff. And when they ate it, one
by one they just went staggering around for a little as though they
didn't know what ailed them, and then they fell down, and I never hope
to see such agony. It was back of you, Ivan, and I thought there was
no use telling you. But it is all over now, for the rats and for us
too; and we can be glad you fellows found us. As soon as we can walk,"
he ended, "we must take this thing to headquarters. We know where to
look for the girls, and they must help."
The largest Scout laughed.
"You don't know what you are talking about," he said. "You can't get
help from anyone. Our people, the people of Warsaw, are so scattered,
that it is the same as though they did not exist. As for the others,
the enemy, they laugh. I know of one lady who lost a child -- But
there is no use to talk. Whatever is done -- we will have to do
"We will go down ourselves, now we know where to look, and we will take
the children. We are strong, if it comes to a fight; we can still get
We ourselves will rescue the children." He laughed and helped Warren
to his feet. "We are Scouts," he said.
"It is a good thing we are," said another boy, busy rubbing Ivan who
lay with set teeth, stifling the pain of returning circulation in his
"You did a wonderful thing, Warren," he continued, addressing the boy
he named, "when you started the Boy Scout movement over here. Well I
remember the day I told my people about it. They were amused. They
called it one of the crazy plans of the Americans. They were afraid to
have me join. They were afraid that I would get into trouble with the
government. Everything is so strictly watched. But they were so glad
to have me have a good chance to learn the American language, that they
would not quite forbid me. I thought I never would learn. Sometimes I
thought I knew it well; and there would appear in your speech some
strange words that you could not seem to translate to us, and you
called it all with one word, 'Slang!' You said you could not get along
without it. And it was and is the most difficult part of all the noble
language. Yet now that I can read your native language, I never seem
able to find this slang you talk in the books or magazines. I have
kept a careful list of all I have heard you say, and I am teaching it
to my mother and to my sister who was to have been presented at Court,
had not this war come up. It would be fine for them to be able to talk
this slang to your ambassador." He stopped speaking Polish, and broke
into lame and halting English. "Do you get me, Lissee!" he asked.
"For the love of Mike!" he said. "No, I don't mean that! For Pete's
sake --" He groaned again. "I don't know what I mean," he said, "but I
do get you. Mikelovo and you don't want to teach your precious family
any more gems." He hastily sought an excuse. "You see only men and
boys talk it as a general thing. Better teach the women stuff out of
"All right," said the earnest student of the American language, "but in
all other things the Boy Scouts are all right for my family."
"When the books and other things came from your country, I showed them
to my father with trembling; but he approved. And now we will do all
the great things, we ourselves, that our poor country cannot do. We
will help your good father, and rescue the little children."
"One thing I have noticed," said the first boy. "There are no boys
around the streets giving any help to the hurt or lost or troubled
except the Boy Scouts. When Warsaw rises again, there will be a great
order here, and all the boys in the city shall have a chance to prepare
"Gee whiz, yes," said the student of slang, solemnly, "we will get 'em
all in line."
THE CARVED PANEL
We will leave the Boy Scouts puzzling over the tremendous problem of
getting in touch with headquarters and releasing Professor Morris and
the others, while we visit a magnificent home far up in the residential
part of the city, where the beautiful parks, wide streets and fine
buildings all told of great wealth.
Many of the places lay in ruins, but here and there arose a dazzling
white marble building that bad happily escaped the destruction of the
iron rain that had poured over the ill-fated city. Many of these were
occupied by the officers and men of the invading army. Destruction of
the worst sort went with them, and the unhappy owners had, whenever
possible, secreted the most valuable of their belongings. Pictures,
jewels, silver, furs and even rugs were hidden in secret vaults or
buried in gardens and cellars. For the people of Warsaw, as well as
their fair city, were ruined, although sooner or later the scraps saved
could be converted into money. Rich and poor fared alike; for the
present, at least, everyone needed food and, safe shelter.
In the dining-room of one of the finest places saved from the
destroying shells sat a group of officers. They were big, blonde men,
and they talked roughly and rapidly in their native German. It was
plain to see that they were quarreling. One of them, rising from the
great carved chair in which he had been lounging, kicked it from his
path and walked nervously up and down the room. He was scowling
ferociously while with his saber point he jabbed little holes in the
Russian leather covering the back of the chair opposite him.
He shook his head as the man who was walking up and down neared his
"I tell you, Otto, you can't do it," he said. "You can't burry things
so. Those people are Americans. You can't execute that old man on a
bare suspicion. What if his notes are a code? We have them, at all
events; and we have him; and we must wait until the General returns."
"That's not my idea at all!" scowled the other man. "This is war. I
am in command, my friend, and if I think I have a spy, and see that it
is my duty to stand this man up against a wall, then what? Bang!
Bang! It is all over. What can be said?"
"What is your idea exactly?" asked the man at the table. "What is the
use of hurrying things so? It sounds like murder to me. I think the
old man is perfectly harmless . He is probably just what he claims, a
professor in one
the American Universities. I've heard of this Princeton. It is a
place of some size and standing."
"That is just it, Gustav!" cried the other.
"That is one reason for suspecting him. He is too glib with his
Princeton. Himmel! Did you ever hear a man talk so fast and so much
and use such words? I can speak as good English as any man my age,
but there were words, dozens of them, that I had never dreamed of."
"Is that the real reason why you are going to shoot him as a spy?"
asked Gustav, coming back to the main point once more.
"I don't suppose I shall shoot him at all," answered Otto grimly. "I
want to, that's all, but I can't do it unless I have sufficient cause,
no matter how would like to remove him. He is in the way."
Gustav stared, and laid down his saber. "I See!" he said, nodding his
head slowly. "The girl?"
"Yes! The girl!" said Otto. He frowned and continued to walk up and
down, while the other laughed.
"What would you?" he demanded. "You would get yourself into all sorts
of trouble. There is no kidnapping of young women in this campaign,
"I would like to marry her," said Otto coolly. "She is so pretty and
"So are the German girls," declared Gustav, loyally.
"What a romantic episode!" sighed Otto, rolling his eyes in a
sentimental manner. "I discover this beautiful American here in
Warsaw, in the heart of the war; I love her; I marry her. It is
"It certainly is," said Gustav. "Wonderful indeed! And in order to
bring her to a proper idea of your goodness and charm, you shoot her
father and brother - do you shoot her brother, by the way?"
Otto scowled. "You are coarse, my friend," he said. "I do not shoot
Germany merely destroys a spy. As for the brother, he is small, I
think he disappears."
"Does the German army cause that too?" asked Gustav.
"Don't jest," said Otto. "I am in earnest."
"In truth, so am I!" answered Gustav. "You are crazy, just plain
crazy. The man is no more a spy than I am, I'll be bound!"
Otto shrugged his broad shoulders. "You don't know whereof you speak,"
he said. "You have not heard him talk, have you?"
"No, I'll grant that," Gustav acknowledged. "Have him brought in and
let me hear him."
"Very well," said Otto, "but speak English to him. His German is so
bad that he ought to he shot for that if for nothing else."
He turned and summoned an orderly. The two men sat in silence. At a
nearby table two lieutenants were busy writing. They did not speak but
looked eagerly as the door opened, and the prisoners entered. The
Lieutenants shifted in their chairs and smiled at each other in
anticipation. Gustav caught their fleeting grins and dismissed them
from the room with a curt command, then turned his attention to the
group standing just within the door.
Professor Morris stood with a protecting arm around each of his
children. He looked broken and old, and wore the air of a man who has
been rudely wakened from a secure and comfortable sleep to view some
unimagined horror. The War, the bombardment and the fall of Warsaw,
had at last become something more than a spectacle to be transferred to
the pages of his book. It was a frightful fact, a living reality in
which men died by thousands, and little children perished, where
women's hearts broke with their anguish and despair.
He found that War recognizes but few laws, and even fewer obligations.
It seemed that his standing as a man of learning, his claim as a
citizen of the United States, availed him nothing. Standing there, a
prisoner, with a helpless child on either side, the ivy-covered walls
of his beloved Princeton seemed far away indeed. As lie closed his
tired eyes for an instant he could see a clear and lovely picture of
the velvet green campus and the great iron gates opening on the smooth
and level streets shaded by lofty trees. He heard the chimes, the
laughter of happy young fellows passing to and fro. There were rows
and rows of peaceful homes, stately mansions and simple cottages. On
level, perfectly kept tennis courts, here and there, men and girls all
in white played tennis. He saw his friends --
But opening his weary eyes, he saw a gorgeous, tumbled room whose
princely draperies were torn and full of saber cuts, a sideboard where
priceless glass had been a target for the rough play by rougher men.
Before him were the two hard, blonde German faces, and there he stood,
a prisoner, with his two children clinging to him. Warren and Elinor
were gone, he knew not where.
Captain Handel stood motionless, but Captain Schmitt rose civilly and
bowed when he saw Evelyn. He could not help it. The girl was so
noble, so lovely, and hid her fright so gallantly, that he was
compelled to pay her the slight courtesy that he did.
"Captain Handel tells me that this notebook is yours, Professor
Morris," Gustav commenced in almost perfect English.
"It is," said the Professor. He eyed it hungrily, and reached a hand
out without thinking what he did.
Gustav drew the book back.
"It has a suspicious look," he said. "So many plans and measurements
and specifications. Will you not explain?"
The Professor reddened. He shut his mouth stubbornly.
"Those are private notes," be said. "I was sent over here to make what
discoveries I could along certain lines."
"What, did I tell you, Gustav?" broke in Otto, turning to his brother
officer and speaking in a low tone. "There is the whole thing! He was
a spy sent to make discoveries along 'certain lines.' He confesses
that. He has succeeded in doing so. The book tells us that."
"Wait, wait!" begged Gustav. "Professor Morris, do you understand that
you are here facing a most serious charge?"
"It is a silly, trumped up charge," declared the Professor, irritably.
"Silly trumped up charge! I absolutely will not answer your
questions. Wait until you hear from the American Consul."
"We won't hear from him," said Gustav gently. "You are in our hands,
bearing suspicious documents, and you refuse to answer our questions.
Do you realize the seriousness of this affair?"
"Certainly not!" declared the Professor, "and let me tell you, my young
friend, I shall write this thing up in the papers when I return to
America. I shall make public your personal attitude in the matter. At
the present all I demand is release and that manuscript on the table
beside you. Also my notebook." He bowed slightly and stood waiting as
though he fully expected the officers to do his bidding, as indeed he
"Will you explain your notes?" asked Gustav quietly.
Otto was nervously biting his small moustache, his eyes fixed on
Evelyn's lovely face.
"No! No!" cried the Professor loudly, "a thousand times no! I refuse
to share with you the results of my researches. What, and have you get
the credit of all my labor? Never!" He clenched his hands.
"Father --" began Evelyn pleadingly.
"Be silent, Evelyn!" commanded her father sternly. "I know what I am
about! I refuse to say anything, whatever happens."
"You had better think this over, Professor," said Gustav. "We will
leave you here alone for half an hour. Talk it over with your children
and decide if you wish to give up your life for the sake of these
notes. Explain them to us, and we will promise you safe conduct out of
the country. The girl and boy will have to remain as guarantee of your
good faith. They will not he harmed. In case you will not do as we
suggest --" He tapped his saber, and started to the door.
Otto spoke abruptly.
"The windows are barred," he said. "Two men guard the door. You
cannot escape. Decide!"
He looked longingly at Evelyn and followed Gustav from the room. The
heavy door shut silently behind them but not before they had a glimpse
of the two soldiers standing at attention in the hallway.
While they stood looking at it, it opened and Otto entered, closing it
"I may as well tell you," he said. "You will shoot as a spy if you do
not explain your charts and figures and leave the country."
Then as though he could not conceal his triumph, he added, "In any
case, you know your daughter remains here."
"Remains here?" cried the Professor. "How is that? What do you mean?"
Otto shrugged his shoulders.
"I like her," he said coolly. "I might marry her. You are very
lovely," he added, turning his bold, cold eyes on Evelyn.
She hid her face against her father's shoulder.
Jack sprang at him with a shrill cry. The big man caught the boy, and
flung him contemptuously to the floor.
"Be careful, little sparrow!" he said. "A second time and I will crush
you! I'm going now," he said, turning to the Professor. "In half an
hour we will come and you will tell us which you prefer -- death or
safe conduct." He bowed. "Good-bye for a little, Mees Evelyn, he said
and closed the door behind him.
Evelyn threw herself on her father's shoulder and burst into sobs.
"Oh, father, father, what shall we do?" she cried.
The Professor was silent, then he said, "Well, my dear, I actually
believe that young man meant what he said."
"Of course he did!" sobbed Evelyn.
"In that ease," said the Professor firmly, "I would as lief be dead as
to have the work of a lifetime destroyed by those rascals."
He hastened to the table and took up the portfolio enclosing his book.
"It's all here," he said after a glance.
"But father, whatever they do to you, they are going to keep me here.
What will I do? What will I do?"
She ran to the windows and looked out. It was just as they had been
told. The casements were heavily barred and there was but one door,
the one through which the officers had passed. The walls were paneled
half way up with old oak. The room was solid as a dungeon. There was
not a chance for escape. In a few minutes the soldiers would return
and tear her father from her.
Her father was speaking. She listened.
"All here," he said, "every page! That is fortunate indeed."
He looked searchingly at Evelyn. "I have a plan, my," he said. "This
is a very dreadful affair, but on second thought a scheme occurs to me.
I will explain somewhat of my notes, but not enough so they could
amplify them. Then, with my safe conduct, I will go over to Germany,
explain the whole affair, and demand your release. You will doubtless
be absolutely safe here, absolutely safe. This young Handel seems
rather a rattle-brained youth, but Captain Schmitt looked conservative
and sane. I will place you in his Charge. John is with you, and you
will be perfectly safe, I am positive."
Evelyn grew deathly pale. She kissed her father's cheek, then
listlessly approached the table. A revolver was lying there.
"Yes, I know that I will be safe," she said firmly. She took the
weapon in her hand and looked up.
As she raised her eyes, she looked straight into the face of a girl
about her own age, who stood motionless against the wall, one hand
outstretched its though to call her. Evelyn stared in unbelief. An
instant before they had been alone in the room! Were her senses
leaving her? She looked at her father and brother. They, too, were
staring, speechless and wild-eyed. So she did not imagine the graceful
figure and lovely face with its dark troubled eyes.
The stranger pressed a finger on her lips in a gesture of silence, then
she beckoned, and as they approached, tiptoeing over the thick rug, she
turned and pressed a finger on a carved rosette in the oak panel.
Without a sound it slid open, and they found themselves in a narrow,
stone passage. Once more the strange girl motioned for silence. Then
she slid an iron grating across the secret door through which they had
come, and turning ran lightly down the passage. Without a moment's
hesitation, Evelyn started after, her hand still clasping the revolver
which she had taken from the table. The Professor, clutching his
recovered manuscript, followed, while Jack brought up the rear.
As they turned a corner, a faint shout reached them. The officers had
returned to the empty room!
The way was long, with many sharp turns. It seemed to be a space
between rooms. Once or twice shouts and laughter were faintly heard,
as they seemed to pass near a room full of soldiers. It was dark. The
girl ahead felt in her pocket, and brought out a tiny flashlight. They
came finally to a steep flight of stairs.
Now for the first time the girl spoke. In a cautious whisper she said,
"Be careful!" and holding the flash behind her for their guidance, went
swiftly and lightly down, with the manner of one who is familiar with
every inch of the way. The stairs were wide and shallow. There were a
great many of them and they seemed to go down a long way. Evelyn
wondered if the place was built on a hillside, making it a long way to
the underground regions she suspected beyond or below. She afterwards
found out that this was correct. A door barred with iron was at the
foot of the stairs. Indeed, they ended right against it. The girl
pushed the door open, and when they had entered, closed it behind them
and dropped a massive bar across it. They were in a large, stone
chamber, empty save for a few scraps of furniture.
Their guide swiftly crossed the room and opened another forbidding
looking door. The second room was like the first, but was filled with
casks and huge barrels. Beyond this again they entered a narrow
passage, so very narrow that their garments brushed the walls at either
side. The stones underfoot were rough and uneven.
Professor Morris walked carefully, picking his steps by the aid of the
flashlight. Evelyn and Jack, more careless, stumbled frequently, but
still the girl, light as a feather, flitted on, swift and sure footed.
Once more the flash revealed a wall ahead. As she approached it the
girl turned and smiled. Evelyn stared. There was no sign of any
opening in the rough wall and the great stones seemed fast in their
cement, but the girl, stooping, pressed a corner of one of the paving
stones. To their amazement it slid from its place, revealing another
very narrow flight of steps. The girl descended, and when they were
all down, pressed another spring, and the stone slid in place. Another
flight of steps exactly like the ones they had just descended rose
against the flooring; and when the girl had led the way, they one by
one stepped into a large and brightly lighted room.
Professor Morris blinked; Jack turned red; Evelyn gasped with
THE SECRET CHAMBER
It was a vast apartment of stone, but the rugged walls were nearly
covered with the most rare and beautiful hangings -- curtains,
tapestries and strange oriental rugs. Numerous paintings apparently of
great value also hung about, or stood on the floor leaning against the
wall. The stone floor was deep with rugs and fine furs. A number of
couches, wide and comfortable, were set here and there, and one corner
of the room was hidden by a great black and gold screen. From this
corner came the comforting odor of coffee.
Professor Morris sniffed it with joy.
In the center of the ceiling hung a simple drop light of great power
illuminating the place with almost the glare of sunlight. Beneath the
light stood a large table littered with magazines, papers and articles
of value. Beside it, in a deep easy chair, sat a woman. She was about
forty years of age and beautiful. Her garments were very rich, and she
sat listlessly leaning her head on her hand for she had been weeping.
At her side, evidently bent on comforting her mistress, knelt a woman
in the costume of a servant. A footman in livery stood at attention
behind her chair. Even in that strange, sunless, underground place,
everything in sight, confused though it was, gave evidence of immense
wealth and luxury.
After the dark, blank, twisted passages, and the horrors so lately
escaped in the room above them, the scene seemed unreal enough to be a
dream. As they appeared through the small square in the floor and
stood in a hesitating group the lady in the easy chair leaned forward
and looked at them earnestly.
Their guide, the young girl, pressed the spring that replaced the
flagstone, and as soon as she was sure that it was adjusted, ran
eagerly across the wide space and knelt at the lady's knee. She spoke
rapidly and excitedly in Polish. Evelyn could catch a word
occasionally. Then the lady rose and advanced with a graceful gesture
"You are indeed welcome," she said easily in English. "I cannot be
thankful enough that my daughter overheard those brutal soldiers and
was able to rescue you. Come and tell me about it."
Professor Morris bowed low over the hand extended him. Then leading
the way, the lady returned to the table where the footman drew chairs
for the group.
Professor Morris told his story of the arrest and imprisonment and the
result of the conference in the dining-room. The lady shuddered.
"You are safe now, at least," she assured him when the story was
finished. "And we are happy .to have you with us. It is a comfort to
have someone with whom to share one's sorrows. One has no happiness to
share now." She smiled sadly.
"I am the Princess Olga Nicholani; with my husband and children I have
lived here all my life. The Prince is with his troops, living or dead
I know not. Our son is with him. When the war separated us I,
Modjeska here and my baby girl, with a few of our old servants,
remained in Warsaw.
"We were perfectly safe until the bombardment of the city commenced.
Then we decided to escape, if possible. We clothed ourselves plainly,
and under cover of darkness crept from the house the first night. All
lights were out, and we reached the corner safely. We had planned to
go down to the river front, where we had a motor boat, in which we
planned to escape. But just as we turned into the river street, we
were met by a maddened crowd of citizens all rushing to safety. They
met us like a great wave. Modjeska and the servants were crushed
against a building, but I was thrown down and for a moment stunned.
When the crowd had passed, my people assisted me to consciousness, but
oh, my heart -- my heart! How can I tell?"
She bid her face in her hands and shuddered. Modjeska clasped her in.
other in her arms, murmuring loving words of comfort.
In a moment the Princess looked up.
"You can imagine our agony, Professor Morris, when we found that our
baby was gone. She had been torn from me in the crowd. We could not
find her. We searched all night. Then they brought me home here by a
secret passage, and, the men hastened to bring down everything movable
of value or comfort. We have plenty of light because we have our own
electric light system, and this building was not struck by shell or
"The secret passage through which Modjeska brought you was revealed to
me by my husband, the Prince. His father had taught him the way, and
not long before the war we carefully taught our two elder children the
secret springs and all the turnings. I do not know why Modjeska
happened to venture along those dark passages to the dining-room."
"I don't know either, mother," said Modjeska, shyly. "I had a strange
feeling that I had to go. Something seemed to drag me there."
"Did you hear the conversation?" asked Professor Morris.
"Part of it," answered Modjeska. "Enough to tell me that something
terrible was going on. I was wild with fright. I did not know how I
could help you until I heard that dreadful man say that he and the
other officer would go out for half an hour. And mother, he told them
they could not escape, because the windows were barred, and the door
guarded. Then at first, when I pressed the spring, the panel would not
open. Something had rusted. I worked and worked before it slid,
"A moment later would have been too late," said the Professor, shaking
"This room is absolutely safe," said the Princess. "There are seven or
eight of these chambers, about fifty feet from the house, under the
garden. So compose yourselves and rest. I cannot leave -- half the
city is searching for my baby - - I can do nothing but sit here in
agony and pray for her return. I know she is dead; I almost pray that
she is, but how can I ever rest until I know?" She bent her head and
Professor Morris cleared his throat.
"I do not doubt that the infant is safe, Madame. No one would
deliberately molest a helpless baby. "
"She wasn't really a baby," said Modjeska. "Mother calls her that
because she was so tiny. She could walk, and talk a little too."
"Don't say was!" cried the Princess. "Don't talk as if she was dead!"
"No, mother darling, no!" soothed the girl.
"How old is she?" asked Evelyn.
The Princess again controlled herself. "Rika -"
She had no chance to continue --
"Rika?" cried Professor Morris, and Evelyn, and Jack, and again,
Evelyn reached inside her blouse, and pulled out a heavy gold chain
hung with a splendid diamond ornament.
"Is this yours?" she cried.
The Princess took one look, then seized Evelyn by the shoulders.
"Yes! Yes!" she cried, chokingly. "Tell me where is she? Have you
seen my baby? Tell me! Tell me!"
Evelyn said the thing quickest.
"She is with my sister, and I think they are safe," she cried.
The Princess gave a deep sigh and fainted quietly away.
It was a long time before she recovered, and then she wanted to be told
over and over all about little Rika. How she had looked, how she had
borne the separation, everything. The Morrises having been assured by
Ivan that Warren was on the track of the men who had kidnapped the
children, and knowing the cleverness and determination that Warren
always put into everything he ever did, were positive that Warren had
the children safely in his possession. And Evelyn knew well that once
with him, they would not get out of his sight again. All of this she
used to comfort the Princess who could scarcely contain herself for
"Now it will all come out right!" she said. "When the men come back
next time, we can set them to hunting up your son and Prince Ivan, and
we will soon be reunited."
She clapped her hands softly, and the footman approached.
"Luncheon, Michael!" she said, and the Professor watched with pleasure
the speed with which the Princess was obeyed. Soon they were eating a
delicious and much needed meal. The Princess herself was so
strengthened by the tonic of hope and joy that she was able to enjoy
the delicate food. She could not hear enough about Rika and at every
sound declared that the men must be returning, although Modjeska
reminded her over and over that they were unlikely to return before
The afternoon wore on, Professor Morris and Evelyn glad to rest after
the recent shocks, and Jack playing games with Modjeska, while the
Princess walked restlessly about the vast chamber, constantly looking
at her watch. Finally she said joyfully:
"It must be growing dark now. The men will soon return, and we will
send them to your house where the boys and your little daughter will be
waiting with my baby Rika. Oh, how can I ever be thankful enough to
you for your goodness to her?"
Professor Morris smiled. "Considering the fact that Miss Modjeska has
saved all our lives," he said, "I think that you need feel under no
obligations to us. We were delighted to entertain the little Rika. I
am positive that my son will have them in safety somewhere, so you
really need not worry. I do not."
Evelyn suppressed a smile. She was quite sure her father did not
worry. He was always ready to let someone else do the worrying for
Suddenly a silver knob fastened to the wall dropped from its place and
swung back and forth on a thin chain.
"They have come!" cried the Princess. She rushed across the room, and
as the footman drew aside one of the heavy hangings, she pressed with
all her might on a rough spot in the granite wall. As in the case of
the flooring, the wall itself parted and slowly swung open. In the
dark opening stood not one of the well-known house servants, but a
slight figure covered with dirt and grime. He was tattered and
barefooted. Under the dirt his pallid face looked deathly, but fire
blazed in the dark eyes, the fire of love.
"Mother!" he cried. "Don't you know me?"
The Princess gave a cry, and clasped her son in a passionate embrace.
"Ignace!" she cried; and "Ignace!" over and over, while she patted him
and felt of him as though to assure herself that it was not a dream.
"Where is your father, Ignace?" she whispered finally, as a dreadful
thought pierced her.
"I come from him," said the young man wearily. "He is wounded, mother,
and needs you, but be brave, because he will live. Let me sit while I
He sank wearily into a chair, still clinging to the hand of the
Princess. He paid no attention to the strangers, but closed his eyes.
"I thought I would never see you again, dear ones," he said huskily.
"I simply can't tell you now what we have been through. All I can say
is that in the final encounter, as the enemy passed Lodz, my dear
father was desperately wounded. I missed him, and searched for him.
When I found him he was unconscious. Mother, I thought he was dead.
But he lived, and under cover of darkness we carried him to the house
of our Aunt Francoise. She has turned it into a hospital, mother, and
all the forty rooms are filled with soldiers. Well, father had good
care then, for all the rush Aunt Francoise had him taken to the hidden
chapel in the east wall, and it is quiet and safe. But you must come
and care for him, mother, for there are not enough nurses by half, and
the men suffer so."
"Where was he injured, Ignaee?" asked the Princess, shuddering. The
"Mother dear, it is pretty bad, but I have see it so much worse. He
has lost his left arm."
The Princess covered her eyes. "Oh, my dear, my dear!" she murmured.
"How can I bear this for you?"
"It might be far worse," said Ignace cheerily. "We must start back to
him tonight. Did you save any of the motor cars?" He turned to
"Two, your Excellency," said the man. "They are hidden in a haystack
down past the woods at the end of the estate. The large touring car,
and your racer."
"Good!" said Ignace; then suddenly, "Where is my little Rika?"
At once the Princess and Modjeska commenced the story of her loss, and
all the other events leading up to the appearance of the Morrises and
the strange coincidence of their having found the little girl.
Ignace listened breathlessly.
Once more the silver knob fell. Someone else was coming.
The footman opened the stone portal, and three men entered. They bowed
profoundly to the Princess and greeted Ignace with deepest respect.
They had of course no news of Rika but the Princess was able to impart
the good news to them and to tell them that, after they had eaten, they
could go to the Morris house and fetch the two girls, Ivan and Warren
"I am not sure that we can do so tonight, Excellency," one said.
"There is great confusion in the house. A triple guard surrounds it.
So far the guards are no nearer than our doorway, but if they spread
their lines we will not be able to get back. I heard a soldier say
that two important prisoners had slipped out from under the very eyes
of the officers and could not be found. They are in hiding somewhere,
and every effort is being made to find them. They know they have not
left the building."
He glanced suspiciously at the strangers.
"Yes, they are here," said the Princess. In a few words she
explained. The man bowed low.
"By your leave, Excellency, I will take the others and go -- at once,"
he said. "One may eat some other time perhaps. We are in danger even
here, and I will not feel safe until we are on our way."
"Go then by all means," said Ignace. "He is quite right, mother, and
the sooner we are out of this, the better."
"Go, and in the meantime we will prepare for the journey."
The men saluted and left silently, and the Princess with the
woman-servant and the two girls, collected dark cloaks and warm rugs.
A bountiful lunch was prepared and packed.
Professor Morris, holding his manuscript, sat searching through one
pocket after another with a mournful persistence. Finally Evelyn noted
him and asked what was the matter.
"I have lost my reading glasses," he said.
"Can't we find them for you?" asked Modjeska politely. She started to
look on the rugs.
"They are not here," said the Professor. "I heard the ease fall out of
my pocket when we were coming through the passage."
"Then we will get them," said Modjeska. "It will only take a minute.
Would you like to come with me, Evelyn?"
"Yes, I would!" said Evelyn, who was nervous and wanted to do
"Hurry!" said the Princess. "I know it is absolutely safe, but I can't
bear one of you out of my sight for a moment."
The passage was very cold and damp, and the girls each put on a heavy,
dark cloak. They threaded their way through the rooms that lay between
the living- room and the passage, and went up the narrow hallway with
the flashlight illuminating the stone floor. The case was found at
last and they were turning to go back, when the sound of an explosion
reached their ears and a dim light appeared at the end of the
corridor. For a moment the girls stood motionless; then they turned,
and ran swiftly down the twisted way to the sliding stone, and found
themselves once more in the room they had left, but it was in
The electric lights were out and the little flashlights made but a dim
illumination in the room.
The men had returned, and all stood staring as the two girls raced into
the room and told their story.
"I think they are dynamiting the dining-room to find the prisoners. We
must leave now," cried Ignace. "No one knows how they may guard the
grounds. They are bound to find their victims."
"'Where is Rika?" cried Modjeska.
"They could find no trace of any of them," said the Princess. "We can
only hope that the boys have taken the little girls either to the
American Consul's or away from Warsaw. We will have to trust to them
and believe that they are all together, until we can get in touch with
them. In the meantime there is but one course open. We must go to the
Prince at Lodz."
"And at once, mother! I have a feeling that we are not safe even
here. Have you your jewels?"
"I have them all," said the Princess. "All that I had placed on Rika,
and which Miss Evelyn has returned, and the court jewels as well.
"Then let us go," said Ignace. "I'll lead the way, Jan. When we reach
the waterfall, go ahead and see if all is safe."
In perfect silence they left the room, slipping along a narrow, low
passageway that at first seemed walled with stone, then gave forth a
moldy, earthy odor.
Presently they heard the sound of gently falling water, and found
themselves under a narrow waterfall. Again a clever spring was touched
by some hand in the darkness, and one by one they emerged so close to
the edge of the falling water that the spray wet them.
They were in the open air once more.
Ignace clasped Evelyn by the hand, and she could feel the nervous
strain in his grasp. Noiseless as shadows, they slid from tree to tree
through the great park, and down the grove of interlacing trees. It
was a long walk. As Evelyn was wondering if she could possibly go much
further, a dark, round shape appeared in the opening ahead.
It was the haystack.
Walking along in the pleasant, fresh air, Warren and Ivan soon gained
control of their cramped muscles. It was good to be free. They were
faint from lack of food, however, and at the suggestion of one of the
Boy Scouts, retraced their steps to the deserted bakery and once more
raided the ovens. Then, rested and refreshed, they picked their way
into the residential section where they knew the officers of the
invading forces had settled themselves.
Repeated questions finally led them to the building where Professor
Morris and his son and daughter had been taken as spies. As they
approached it, they noticed a triple guard at the gate and a large
number of soldiers close around the palace. The boys hesitated.
"Let's see what this all means," said Ivan. "There is some special
reason for all these soldiers on guard. Perhaps we can get one of them
"They are not allowed to, you know," said Warren.
"We will try this," said Ivan. He took a large cake from his pocket
and approached the nearest soldier. He was a young fellow with a
wistful, hungry face, and as Ivan approached, his keen eyes fastened
themselves on the bread.
"Eat?" said Ivan.
"Yes," said the soldier, seizing the cake and biting off a great
corner of it. "Bless you, brother, I was starving!"
"There is more where that came from," said Ivan. "If you are hungry,
why don't you go eat your supper."
"Eat?" said the soldier bitterly. "Who knows how many hours we have
been on guard here? I guarded a door in there all day, and now they
have sent me here. The Captain is so enraged that he thinks nothing of
Ivan leaned carelessly against the wall and shrugged his shoulders.
"What happened?" he asked, idly.
The soldier laughed. "It is funny," he said. "You are nothing but a
boy, so it will not hurt to talk to you, and I have been silent so long
that my tongue's stiff. Besides, this is good cake. Well, know then,
little brother, that some people were brought here last night with
suspicious papers on them. An old man, a boy and a beautiful girl.
The old man would not explain the mysterious words in his little book,
and they threatened him with death. He did not believe it. Did I tell
you he was an American? He was. These Americans never fear. They say
simply, "Kill me? That is impossible. Postpone it, if you please,
while I write to the Consul!" Always it is so. Well, that old man, he
could not be made to realize that Captain Handel is absolute ruler now,
right here. They were brought to the state dining-room this morning,
and the Captain told them straight what he intended to do. It was
death for the old man and the boy, and he would spare the girl." The
soldier laughed. "I and one other were guarding the door, so we
heard. Presently the two Captains came out. As they left the room
Captain Handel called back, 'Half an hour. Just half an hour,
"Then he closed the door sharply. The two Captains went to a little
table not far from the door, and sat down. They were not for one
second out of sight of the door.
"We two stood directly facing it about three feet away in the hall.
"The half hour passed., Captain Handel looked every minute at his
watch, and Captain Schmitt kept saying, 'Wait, wait; be fair.'
"At last the time was up. They went to the door. Captain Schmitt
straightened his saber belt, and threw the door wide.
"He looked, then he dashed in, almost upsetting Captain Handel. The
room was empty. We could see. He called us, and together we searched
in and on and under everything in the great room. We rapped on the
wall. We examined the iron bars, but the windows had not even been
"Captain Handel went into a fearful rage. The prisoners had
disappeared as though they had never been. Even the book was gone from
the table, and the package of papers the old man had guarded.
"We went over every foot of the place again and again. There was not
an inch that sounded hollow, as though there was a secret passage. We
even tore out a panel of the woodwork, and found a stone wall behind
The soldier finished his cake, and drew a grimy hand across his lip.
"That was good, brother," he said.
"What happened then?" asked Ivan, while Warren pressed closer.
"Why, we hunted all day," said the soldier, "but of course we couldn't
find them. Why should we?"
"Why not?" asked Ivan.
"Why not?" repeated the soldier. "Why, those were not human beings at
all. The old man was too silly for a real man, the girl was too
beautiful. Human beings do not disappear from a guarded room with four
stone walls about it."
The man lowered his voice, and spoke in a whisper. "They were devils,
of course," he said.
The boys were silent.
"Of course," said the soldier, "Captain Handel would not believe
anything so simple. He would not believe they were gone, so tonight he
fixed them. It is all over now, and I wish I could go get some
"What did he do?" asked Ivan, trying to keep the anxiety out of his
"He dynamited the room," said the soldier calmly. "That part of the
palace is in ruins. The stones fell like rain. No human being could
have lived in it.
But they did not find the bodies. However, they may be buried under
the wreckage. I don't believe it, though." He sighed. "That was good
cake," he said.
"Here's another," said Warren. He clutched Ivan and sunk into the
shadow. He was shaking.
"It is all over, Ivan," he whispered. "They have killed them."
Ivan pondered. "I don't know," he said finally. "One thing is sure,
if all those soldiers could not find them, it is certain we can't.
They are either safe, Warren, or else they are where we can never help
them any more. It seems to me that the only thing to do now is to go
straight to Lodz and find Elinor."
"Yes, that is the only thing to do," said Warren. "If I let myself
think about Evelyn, I will go mad. We will go to Lodz."
"How?" asked Ivan.
"We will have to walk," replied Warren.
"Well, I hope we can get a lift someway or other," said Ivan. "At any
rate, we must get out of this. I know every step of this part of the
city. This place belongs to Prince Nicholani. I used to play all the
time in this park."
He led the way rapidly through the beautiful grounds and entered a
grove of noble trees. They went on and on through the shadows, until
they reached the open fields. Beside the highway a great pile of hay
"We might sleep here for the rest of the night," Ivan suggested.
"Not if you can go on," said Warren. "I think we had better get as far
from the city as possible."
"Very well," said Ivan, "but let us rest for half an hour."
They flung themselves on the hay, and in a moment Ivan was asleep.
Warren could not rest, however, and sat staring moodily into the
night. In half an hour he roused his friend, and they started onward.
They proceeded in silence, each busily thinking. Warren trying to bear
up and take his blows manfully, and Ivan at a loss to know what to say
to the brave boy who had lost all he held dear in so terrible a
The road was level, and they went rapidly. As they rounded a sharp
turn, they saw an automobile ahead of them. It was a low racing car
and stood at the side of the road. There was some trouble on, for a
couple of men were bending over a wheel.
"They have had a puncture," exclaimed Warren, "and they are headed
toward Lodz. Let's see if they will give us a lift."
He boldly approached the men, who started, then looked relieved to see
that it was a couple of boys.
"What's the trouble?" said Warren in Polish. The main straightened,
and threw his hands up in a gesture of despair. "All the trouble in
the world!" he exclaimed. "The tire is punctured, and I cannot mend
it. I am not a chauffeur, but I can drive this ear a little, and my
master told me to bring it to him. I don't know what to do. Of
course, as soon as it comes light the soldiers will seize it."
"I can fix the tire," said Warren. "I know all about it, but we are
going to Lodz and we ought not to wait. It is a long way."
"Good!" said the man. "We are going to Lodz, too. There are only two
seats, but we will carry you somehow. Only be quick and mend the
fire. Our lives may depend on it."
Warren turned the light on the wheel and went to work. He had always
prided himself on his swiftness in working out tire troubles, and when
he saw the bad tear in the tube, he took it off and replaced it with
one of the new tires strapped to the rear of the machine. He worked in
desperate haste, and Ivan, at his side, worked with equal
The men watched or restlessly walked up and down the road talking in
undertones to each other. It was evident that their knowledge of cars
was but slight, and they were forced to trust to the young stranger if
they were to proceed at all on their perilous journey.
When the tire was in place and pumped up, Warren hastily collected the
tools and started to replace them in the tool box but Ivan stopped him
with a word. He spoke sharply to the men.
"Take these things," he said. "We are ready!"
The man who had spoken first took the wheel, and his companion the
other seat. Ivan sat on his knee, with Warren on the running board.
It was soon evident that there was something wrong. The car went
plowing along on low speed, the engine bucking and starting.
"Good heavens, Ivan!" exclaimed Warren, after a few miles of this jerky
progress. "What ails the thing? Do you suppose the dub knows how to
Ivan turned to the man at the wheel.
"What's the matter?" he asked. "Do you know how to drive? What ails
"I don't know," said the man. "In truth I have never driven but twice,
but I thought I could and when the Princess told me to bring this car
after her I was sure I could. She is ahead with her son and Princess
Modjeska and some guests. I fear I will not be able to reach Lodz."
He pressed a lever at random, and the ear shot forward with a speed
that nearly threw Warren from the step. Another frantic attempt and
she slowed down with a suddenness that almost put the others through
the wind shield.
"Here, stop!" commanded Warren. "Get out of that seat and let me
drive! Ivan, tell him I simply eat cars!"
The machine stopped, and the Man thankfully resigned his seat to
Warren, who drew up the heavy motor gloves, and settled himself in his
seat. The car, a beautiful French model, was familiar to Warren, and
he pressed the starter with perfect confidence. And he was justified.
Like a swallow, the beautiful machine skimmed the smooth and level
road, leaving Warsaw with all its tragedy and far behind.
Warren had scarcely slept for two nights. He had had but little food,
and his bandaged head felt light and strange. As they went on and on,
Warren commenced to wonder if he could possibly make the distant city.
At intervals strange colored lights flashed before his eyes, and faint,
booming noises sounded in his ears.
They had not encountered a soul. It was as though the whole country,
after its terrible conflict, lay dead. Finally a faint streak of gray
appeared in the east. Dawn was coming.
"How far to Lodz?" he called. "Just over the hill?"
"Just over yonder hill," said the man at his side.
Warren slowed down, and dropped one tired hand from the wheel.
"Where are you going when you get to the city?" he inquired.
"If we get through," the man replied, "I am to go to the palace where
lives a sister of our Princess. She has turned it into a hospital. By
a strange chance, our Prince was taken there when he was wounded. The
Princess must, be there now.'
"Very well," said Warren. "Direct me when we reach the city."
It grew brighter, and was quite light when they entered the quiet
streets. Fortunately they were not stopped, and with the guidance of
the man beside him Warren drew safely up before the wide stone steps of
The car stopped. Warren shut off the engine, and the others jumped
out, glad to stretch themselves. Warren alone made no effort to move.
The others after stamping their cramped legs, turned to look at him.
His hand was still on the wheel, but he was unconscious.
They carried him into the great hall, and a nurse in uniform directed
them to an empty cot and hurried after a doctor. He pronounced it
simply a case of exhaustion, and gave orders which the nurse rapidly
filled, motioning the others to leave as she did so.
The servants turned to Ivan and thanked him for his assistance. For a
moment Ivan thought that it would be a good plan to go to the Princess,
and tell her that he was in Lodz. Then he decided that the presence of
a boy in the city, although he was the son of her very good friend,
would only cause her to feel responsible for his welfare or safety; so
he merely nodded, turned his back to tell the nurse that he would
return shortly, and then he walked listlessly down into the heart of
Hucksters were driving into the open market. Doors were opening here
and there. A company of soldiers passed at double quick. Ivan
wondered where they were going. He wondered, too, what possible chance
he had to get something to Pat.
There were no Scouts in Lodz besides his tired self and the exhausted
boy back in the hospital cot. Ivan thought of Warren with a gratitude
that he could not have put in words. Warren had taught him so many
things. With Boy Scout principles and Boy Scout training, he had
changed from a haughty, helpless young aristocrat to a helpful,
well-balanced boy, perfectly capable of taking care of himself and of
assisting others as well. Ivan felt the change; he was so reliant, so
strong. A few months ago, he would have stood helpless in his present
situation, conscious only that he was Prince Ivan Ivanovich and must be
looked after. Now, as he faced the morning light, hungry, ragged, and
with only the American nickel in his pocket, he smiled at fate and went
on without fear to enter whatever adventure might come.
The only thing that worried him was the want of enough money to buy
himself a bit of bread and a dried fish. He reflected that he could
easily have asked the Princess for enough to supply his wants, but he
would not turn back.
Ahead of him, an old man with a heavily laden cart was having trouble
with a skittish horse. In vain he pulled on the lines. In vain he
threatened and coaxed. The young creature would not stand, and while
the old man worried with it, vegetables and long sticks of black bread
were slyly stolen out of the end of his cart. Ivan approached.
"Let me hold the horse, father," he said, taking it by the bridle as he
The old man threw his hands up in a gesture of thankfulness.
"Blessings on you, my son!" he cried. "These thieves will ruin me
while I speak with that foolish animal. Hold fast, my son, and I will
give you your breakfast."
Ivan nodded, and the old man turned eagerly to his customers.
Presently he reached over, and handed Ivan a generous pie6e of bread
and some fresh fruit. Ivan watched the throngs as he ate, holding the
horse with his left hand, although it was now perfectly quiet.
As he idly watched the persons passing, he noted that with the passing
time, the market had become crowded. People moved in throngs.
And then, as the crowd before him happened to part, Ivan noticed in the
distance a woman hurrying away. She had a big basket on her arm,
filled with provisions. A little girl clung to her other hand. She
was ragged, dirty and pale; but Ivan recognized Elinor.
Dropping the horse's rein, he dashed toward them, but the crowd had
closed, and he was too late. The earth seemed to have swallowed them.
Like a hound on a trail, he searched the market over and over, but not
a trace could he find of the woman or child. In his surprise at
seeing, Elinor, he had failed to take particular notice of the woman.
But as he thought of it, he felt that, it was not the one he had seen
in Warsaw and be remembered that that woman bad spoken of her sister in
Feeling that there was nothing to be gained by remaining longer in the
market, Ivan hurried back to the hospital, where he found Warren much
better, and fretting because he was not allowed to get up.
"Well, I've seen Elinor!" said Ivan, as soon as he entered the ward.
Warren sat up, his eyes bulging under, his bandage.
"Have you, honest?" he cried. "Where is she?"
"Well, I lost her in the crowd," said Ivan, and told the whole story.
Warren lay listening carefully.
"Well, as long as we know she is here in the same town, we know we will
find her. And there won't be any slip the next time." His face
clouded. "But, Ivan," he said huskily, "I can't bear to think of my
dear Evelyn, and poor father, and little Jack." He closed his lips and
shut his eyes in a desperate effort to control his grief.
Warren's cot was drawn across a closed door. And on the other side of
that door sat Evelyn, crying her heart out for her lost brother and
When poor little Elinor found herself dragged forcibly from her brother
and away from the comparative safety of the underground room where
Warren and Ivan had so mysteriously appeared, as she thought, to get
her and take her home, her childish heart was filled with a terror so
overwhelming that she did not know what she did. Notwithstanding the
efforts of the woman who held her, she screamed as hard as she could
and stiffened in the woman's brutal grasp until she was obliged to put
her down. Elinor tried to run, but she was too tightly held. Then
with a muttered rush of comments, the woman rained blows on the poor
little shoulders and body until the child sank to the ground, nearly
stunned from the force of the blows. Her cries died, and she lay
"Now will you be silent?" demanded the fury, shaking her. "You just
try that again! Just try it, and see what I will do to you." She
overwhelmed the fallen child with terrible threats until Elinor was
silenced and shook as though in a chill.
"Now you had better do as I tell you," the woman said. "You will never
see your brother again, never; never! And you will have to live with
me, and do as I say." She jerked the child to her feet and dragged her
down the street after the two men who had gone on, one of them carrying
She was still muttering when she reached them.
"This one has got to be trained," she said savagely; "and I might as
well begin it right off."
Michael shrugged his shoulders. "Why don't you show a little, mercy at
the first?" he inquired carelessly. "It doesn't matter to me, but I
tell you, Martha, you will spoil her for everything if you handle her
too roughly. She will die. I've seen her sort before."
"Then let her die!" said the woman. "Good riddance it will be if she
does not take kindly to my tasks."
"Suit yourself," said Michael; "but take my advice and give her a
"Time!" said Martha. "Time! What are you thinking of? There is no
time! She has lost two years, as it is. You don't seem to remember,
Michael, that I am as good a pickpocket as there is in Europe. That
child is almost too old to begin to learn the art. The other one,
Rika, is just about right; and she has such fine, delicate, little
fingers. Well, this one has good hands too. But you know well that
they are clumsy after they reach five. Do you remember the
yellow-haired child I trained about ten years ago? Ali, she was a
wonder! But you never could keep her down. How I used to beat her!
She would be black welts from her shoulders to her knees. No, you
could not keep her down. She was so ambitious. If she had only kept
out of politics, she might have been stealing yet. But now she is in
Siberia, in the mines. Bah! A home life for me, I say! What care I
who is in power, so long as pretty ladies carry shopping bags and wear
sparkling bracelets and flashing brooches! I say a woman wants to keep
to her own place. Isn't it so, my Michael?"
"Yes, indeed, " said Michael heartily. "I read the other day --"
"Read!" said Martha scornfully. "That's another mistake. Why should a
man like you read? Sooner or later it will get you in trouble. You
never know what the reading may contain. Better not know. What you
don't know won't hurt you."
"You are wrong," said Michael stubbornly. "Sometimes what you don't
know does hurt you. If I could live again, I would be a better man.
When I was a boy there was no learning to be had, except for the upper
class and the priests. Now when I am old and it is too late, you can
learn everything. I have loitered around the schools and listened to
the boys talking their lessons over. It is amazing what they know.
Why, they know everything! And there are schools where they are set to
work at all sorts of trades. I took a job cleaning floors once so that
I might go in and see what it was they did. Martha, those boys (they
were quite little ones, too) made such beautiful things -- furniture
and all that. There was one little chair that you could set on your
hand. It was as perfect as though it was big enough for you. I
thought that I would steal it. Then I thought how sad the little
fellow who made it would feel. The janitor told me there were prizes
for the best workmen, and I knew that chair was best. So I didn't take
it. I never wanted anything more, in my life!"
"Silly," said Martha. "Always bothering your old head about someone's
feelings! I do wish you would stop it! As for these children, I tell
you, Michael, it is a matter of business. We are no longer young. We
must prepare for the time when we can no longer stand on corners and in
church doors and beg. My fingers even now are growing clumsy. Who
will take care of us then if we do not train these children?"
"I suppose so," said Michael wistfully, "But it does seem a pity.
You should have seen that chair."
"I've heard about it enough at any rate," said Martha. "You should have
taken it. You could have sold it for a few kopeks.
"I couldn't," said Michael.
"All right," said Martha. "This is another matter; these children.
You heard what I said. Now here is what I plan. We will go to Lodz
and there we will stay for the next year or two. This war cannot last
forever, and when it is well past, why, then we will strike out in the
world. I know little girls. These will both be beauties when they are
a few years older." She laughed as she dragged Elinor along. "I tell
you I did well when I picked up these pearls."
"No doubt; no doubt!" Michael answered. He could not but look with
pity on the two children however. He was a man whose whole life had
been evil, but somewhere in him was a spark of kindness and
tenderness. He fought, he drank, he stole, he lied; but the sight of
the two poor little girls dragging miserably along with the remorseless
woman somehow touched his heart. He knew that he would often beat
them, and he would also give them their first lessons in picking
pockets; but he knew, too, that there would be times when he would
shield them from the cold, relentless fury of the woman.
So it was with a feeling of pity for the weary little feet that he
asked, "Where do we go tonight? I am tired."
"Tired?" scorned Martha. "You are ever tired! However, we will eat
some supper, and then on to Lodz."
"Walk?" asked the other man, who had not spoken before.
"No," said Martha. "I have a pocketful of money. No, you don't," she
added as the man came close to her. "Here's a handy knife if you try
that. Something tells me to get out of here as soon as we can and it
will take too long to walk with these burdens. Besides, they would
never stand it. You may be sure I would not spend this money on the
railroad if I could help myself.
She turned into a doorway. The house was deserted.
"Here," she said, "I will stay here with these two, while you get
something for me to drink. Also go to the railroad and see if the
trains are running. And hurry!"
She found a chair for herself, pushed the two children in the corner
farthest from the door, and settled herself to wait, while the two men
walked leisurely out of the house and away.
An hour later Michael hurried back. Martha greeted him sourly.
"Don't pretend to hurry, lazy one," she scolded. "I know where thou
hast been. Did you bring what I asked?"
"I bring news," said Michael, glancing at the two children.
"Bah! That is dry drinking," said Martha, making a face. "Well, have
"There is a search on for the little one," said Michael. "I know who
If they find her with us --" He drew his hand across his neck with the
whistling sound of a knife.
"Who is she then?" asked Martha in astonishment.
Michael stooped and whispered in her ear.
"Ai! Ai!" exclaimed Martha. "No wonder her hands are delicate and
small! Well, we have got to go on with it now. And quickly, too. How
will we get out of here? Shall we trust the cars? Do they run?
Answer, Michael, what did you find out?"
"A lot of things," said Michael. "First place, the station is
watched, so I bought two tickets for Lodz. We men will go down there
"And leave me here!" asked Martha furiously.
"No, no, no!" said Michael. "Will you wait until I finish? When I
came from the railroad, I passed a great empty motor truck. Some
soldiers are getting it ready to go to Lodz tonight. They are going
for more munitions. It belongs to the enemy, but thanks to my German
mother, I am German at will; so I spoke to them. I told them about my
wife and two little children who were going to walk to Lodz. It was
great luck. They said you could go with them.
"Think of that!" said Martha. "Not to walk a step, and to ride down
that beautiful road in a truck. What a wonder! I never expected to
get into one of those great horseless things. Well, what did you say
"You are to go down now, and they will start soon. But they do not
want the officers to know they are taking you. It is only because of
my German and my nice way," he laughed. "Well, get up, and we will go
"I am almost afraid," said Martha.
"There is no way as good as this," the man assured her. "You will be
safe. You will rest quite well under the canvases in the truck. And
the road is indeed smooth."
He lifted Rika and led the way. It was growing late, and they hurried
to the place near headquarters where the great track stood. Michael
did not wait for anyone to come. He jumped in, and made a sort of nest
in the canvas covers that were lying in the bottom. In this he seated
Martha and the children, warning the woman to hold fast to the girls.
Then he covered them cleverly with the lightest of the covers, saw that
no one would guess that the truck was occupied, and proceeded to sit on
the nearby curb and smoke. He was afraid that someone would throw
something heavy in the truck, and bring a scream, from one of the
Presently the two soldiers who were to drive came out. They had had a
good meal and were smoking contentedly. Michael went up to them. He
opened his hand and showed three coins.
"Here is all my wealth. I will share it with for your kindness to my
wife and dear little ones," he said in a trembling voice.
The men shook their heads, but he insisted, and they took the offered
coins, protesting that they would take their passengers safely to
"Ah! What goodness!" said Michael with deep feeling. "If I could ever
"That's all right," said one of the soldiers. "Just be silent about
the load we are carrying. Tell no one. Our Captain is in the deuce of
a temper. He would punish anything today." He drew on his gloves and
mounted to his seat. The other soldier swung up beside him.
"It's a pity we can't take you too," said he; "but it wouldn't be
safe. Good- bye."
"Good-bye," said Michael in a trembling voice. "Good-bye, wife!
Good-bye, my sweet children!"
Martha pinched Elinor roughly. "Say goodbye!" she hissed, and a
frightened little voice called, something that was almost lost in the
sound of the engine as the car started. Martha stifled a shriek. This
was a terrifying experience. As the car rolled onward, the two
children, both accustomed to riding in motor cars, and too tired to
mind the unyielding springs and hard tires of the truck, were lulled to
sleep; but Martha sat wide-eyed, not daring to make the least outcry,
and afraid to follow her heart's wish and jump to the ground. The
night was filled with terrors, and when at dawn the car stopped, and a
soldier brought her a can of coffee she was too stiff and frightened to
When at last they reached Lodz, the two men were obliged to lift her to
the ground. They set them down on the outskirts of the city and Martha
hurried, as well as she could with her tired muscles, and the children
dragging at her side, to the hovel where her sister lived.
There was a long talk then, and many explanations, and Martha rested
and slept as though she never would rise again. When she did finally
get up, she had lost all count of the time, but Michael was there, and
the children were trying to get a handkerchief from the pocket of a
coat suspended from the ceiling by a cord.
"Get it so carefully that you will not stir the coat, and you will have
a piece of candy." The children tried again and again.
Martha groaned and disturbed them.
"Well, at last I am rested," she said. "Michael, thou fool, when next
you get me such a place --" She groaned again.
"Better that than not at all, eh, Martha?" laughed the man.
"We might have walked it," she declared.
"Yes. In how many days, he demanded, "'with those children at heel?"
"Of course," she said, "but it was frightful." She shook her head.
"We rocked and tossed like a ship at sea. And those children slept.
Slept all the way.
I could have beaten them!"
She turned to her sister. "You say you have no money? We will have to
go and get some then." She turned to the children and studied them
critically. "Those clothes won't do," she said. "Where is there a
place where I can get them something else to wear?"
"Two houses down," said her sister. "I will go with you."
The women were not gone long, and came back with a bundle of children's
clothing. Michael was still patiently teaching them the handkerchief
trick, Rika's little face was puckered, and she was ready to cry
although Michael had given her several pieces of candy. It did not
take long to take off the clothes the children had been wearing, and
dress them instead more in accordance with the parts they were to
Then Martha took a stick and stood before Elinor.
"Look at me!" she commanded, and when the child's frightened eyes
sought her face she said, "You are to beg for your supper, do you
hear? As soon as you see a kind looking lady or gentleman, you are to
put out your hand, and say, 'Please, we are starving,' like that. Say
Elinor was silent.
"Say it!" she repeated. But Elinor was still.
"Do you want to be beaten?" Martha asked in a terrible voice. "Do
Elinor found her voice. "No," she said in Polish. "No, please do not
beat me, but I cannot beg. My brother will come soon and get me. I do
not want any supper. I will wait for him."
Martha sat down, the stick still in her hand, and thrust her ugly face
close to the child's.
"Hear me!" she growled. "Your brother will never come for you. He is
dead. Dead, I tell you! You will never see him again. You are going
to live here with me, and you are going to do just what I tell you or I
shall beat you so you will never forget it. Now do you understand?"
Elinor looked her steadily in the eyes.
"Yes," she said.
"Then say what I told you," said Martha, getting to her feet.
Elinor looked at her, then reading the threat in her eyes, she said,
"Please, we are starving." It seemed more than her independent spirit
could bear even with the fear of the stick on her heart. She added,
"Some day I shall ran away."
"That settles it!" cried Martha. "We will settle this now!"
She threw the helpless child on the ground and began beating her with
the stick. For a long while Elinor endured it, then unable to keep
silent under the pain, she burst into screams and sobs. The woman
continued her blows until Elinor's voice held a thin note of agony, and
she lifted her and flung the quivering little body on a pile of rags,
and sat herself down by the table.
"That ought to break her spirit," she said.
She waited until the sobs and cries subsided, and then called the
child. The terrified little girl slipped from the bed and ran to her
tormentor. Martha looked at her critically.
"That did you good," she said. "Now we will get out of here, and go to
"Have you any money at all?" asked her sister, turning to Michael.
"A little," he grudgingly admitted.
"Well, let us have enough to go to the market while it is open. I go
late each morning, and buy the spoiled vegetables that are left over."
"A good plan," said Martha.
When they had finished with the market, the women walked slowly down
through the city, begging wherever they could. They were able to
recognize foreigners wherever they met them, although they were not
many. Always, however, they gave, and gave generously. The store of
coins in Martha's sack grew and grew.
"We will have to exchange this stuff for a few larger coins somewhere,"
she said. "I think we can do so safely at the railroad station. Let
us go there."
The day had been a time of torture for the two children. Elinor was so
tired that she thought that she would fall at each step, but the
relentless hand held her up and pulled her on.
Rika, in the other woman's arms, had fallen asleep several times.
They did not mind that; her tear-stained little face with its long,
curling lashes looked very pitiful, and as long as she slept they told
a sad story, about her being lame. But Elinor had to walk; and she was
sure that when she fell from exhaustion, Martha would probably kill
There was a great crowd at the station, and dozens of other beggars;
but Martha noted with satisfaction that none had such beautiful
children to beg for. There were many more coins in the sack before
long, and just as Elinor's knees bent, under her, and she thought that
now at last she would fall, the women set the children on a big box,
and with the most horrible threats if they, stirred or spoke to anyone,
walked off to the ticket office to change the small coins into
something safer to handle.
THE RED CROSS CAR
When Warren was dismissed from the hospital, he found himself being
stared at by Ivan in a very perplexing manner. Finally he demanded the
reason. Ivan laughed.
"You look so clean," he said. "Your face does not go with the rest of
you, those ragged clothes and all that. Besides, I have not seen what
your natural face looked like for a few days. I had forgotten just
what you did look like."
"Just the same, it did seem good to clean up little," he said.
"However, just to oblige you I'll put on a few frills." He stooped and
rubbed his hands in some plaster dust, and transferred it to his face.
Ivan studied the change.
"That's better," he said. "As long as we have to wear these clothes, I
think we had better look the part. There is one thing certain though.
We are dressed exactly as we were in Warsaw, when we were visiting our
friends, the thieves.
I wish we could get some other clothes."
"I hadn't thought of that," said Warren. "I wish we could change, but
how can we?"
"I don't know," said Ivan. "Certainly we can't risk having those
people see us. We will have to be cautious."
"Where shall we go, I wonder?" mused Warren.
"I don't suppose it matters now," said Ivan. "It is so late in the
afternoon. Tomorrow morning we will have to watch the market. They
will be sure to come for more provisions."
"True enough," said Warren. "Let's go down to the central station and
see if the trains are running again."
The boys sauntered down through the streets without being molested by
the sharp- eyed soldiers who patrolled the way. They found the station
a busy place. The trains were once more running, on broken schedules
of course, but everything was so nearly adjusted to the usual order
that there was transportation for the hundreds who were eagerly seeking
passage. There were a great many foreigners carefully clutching their
transports and hurrying out of the country. At the back of the station
stood an automobile, a low, racing roadster.
"We had a ride in her last night," said Warren, as he approached and
recognized the machine. "And it was some ride, wasn't it, Ivan?"
"It certainly was," said Ivan, smiling. "What's the red cross flag on
it I wonder?"
"The Princess has given it over to the hospital, I suppose," said
Warren. "No one will stop it now. Wonder who drives it? I'm sorry
for anyone who rides with the crazy guy who tried to run it last night.
"Here is the chauffeur now," said Ivan, stepping back as a dark, burly
man approached the machine and took a package from the tool-box.
"He is a new one," said Warren.
They wandered around the corner of the building and mingled with the
throngs waiting for the train. It came puffing in, and as the crowd
pressed forward, Warren heard a familiar, coarse, whining voice behind
him. He looked; and as he did so, he was conscious of Ivan who, with
the quickness of a bird, slipped between two people, and was out of
sight. Instantly Warren followed him. They met behind a truck loaded
Warren was shaking. "Did you see?" he asked.
"Yes," said Ivan in a low voice. "Elinor and Rika, too! What are we
going to do?"
"I don't know," said Warren. "Just do what we have to do when the time
comes. Don't risk them another hour. Elinor looks half dead. Keep
out of sight and watch for a chance. Don't let the girls see you, any
more than the women. They would give it away, sure. Come on!"
He slipped quickly through the crowd, only a boy, and unnoticed.
Behind, at his heels, came a thin lad, soiled and ragged. It was
Prince Ivan, Prince of one of the greatest houses in Warsaw, but his
own father would not have recognized him. Together they slyly watched
the two women in front of them who, each with a child, begged pitifully
of the travelers. The woman who had Rika held her in her arms, but
poor little Elinor, on foot, reached a tiny hand toward the passing
throng, and fearfully glanced at her ugly jailer as she did so.
The train remained on the track. It was evidently going to make up a
section. The women wandered here and there, and finally approached a
big packing case near the station door. Here they stood, evidently
consulting. One woman slyly, showed the other a handkerchief full of
kopeks. Then while the boys scarcely dared to breathe, they seated the
two children on the box, and with a fearful threat which caused the
face of Elinor to turn even paler, they hurried into the waiting room,
and turned towards the ticket window.
"Now!" said Warren, "and be quick!"
He ran up to the children, and taking his sister in his arms, pressed
his hand over her mouth until he had spoken a word in her ear. Then
followed by Ivan carrying Rika, he walked steadily round the corner of
Before him stood the roadster, with the Red Cross flag. Without an
instant's hesitation, he slipped into the driver's seat, Elinor still
in his arms. He thrust her between his knees, as Ivan took the other
seat, and tucked little Rika out of sight in the same manner.
As he did so, they heard a series of hoarse screams, and the two women,
beating the air and wringing their hands, came rushing around the
corner. Warren started the car full speed, and they started with a
jerk that almost threw them out. Looking behind, Ivan saw the women
point to the car and to his dismay a soldier on a motorcycle jumped
from his machine and ran up to them. As the car sped down the long
avenue, Ivan saw a last glimpse of the man returning to his machine.
They were followed.
"They are after us!" he said to Warren.
"What with?" asked Warren, his eyes on the road. "There was no other
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