Part 2 out of 4
"I'm afraid there won't be many people out at this time of night,"
returned Bob disconsolately. "I wish I knew what had happened to the
They proceeded in silence, glancing about them nervously for fear that
they might be the victims of some further surprise. For a half-mile
they kept to the side of the road, for little as they cared to walk
where the darkness was thickest, they knew they would not be as exposed
there as they would be in the middle of the road. When they reached the
top of the hill, however, they became bolder and ventured out upon the
They walked swiftly, every few yards one or the other of the boys turning
to glance behind them to see if they were followed. The night was clear,
and the stars were shining brilliantly; hardly a breath of air was
stirring. Presently they came within sight of the town, and the sound of
the clock on the town hall striking one came faintly to their ears.
"Whew," said Bob, "it's late."
"I should say so," Hugh agreed, "and I was just thinking of everything we
have done to-day. We've certainly been busy."
"We may be even busier to-morrow."
"Well, if we go back to that house again, you can't tell what we'll
"I wonder if we ought to report to the police what we've seen."
"Probably we should," said Bob. "I'd like to go it alone though."
"And so should I. Let's wait a day or two longer anyway."
"I hope it won't be too late then."
"We'll risk it anyway," said Hugh. "Look, here comes an automobile."
"It's going the wrong way for us. Get over on the side of the road."
In the distance appeared the headlights of an automobile rapidly
approaching. The two boys hurried to one side of the road and took up
their positions behind the shelter of some low growing bushes. The car
was traveling fast and as it neared the spot where they were concealed
they could hear the thunder of the cutout. A moment later it roared past
them and disappeared.
"Hugh," exclaimed Bob. "The gray roadster!"
"It was for sure!" said Hugh. "What do you think of that?"
"It was going back to the old house probably."
"I guess it was. Perhaps after all, we should report to the police."
"Wait till after to-morrow," said Bob. "We'll go out in the morning and
take a look around there on our own account."
"We may have to spend to-morrow looking for your car."
"That's true, but let's wait and see what happens anyway."
They continued on their way homeward and soon came within the outskirts
of the town. The houses were darkened and apparently every one was in bed
and asleep. The sound of the boys' footsteps on the pavements echoed
loudly along the still, deserted streets.
"Here's Elm Street," said Hugh. "Let's turn down here; it's on our way
home and we can pass right by that stucco house."
"All right," Bob agreed, and they turned the corner.
"That's the place," whispered Hugh a few moments later.
"There's a light in the third story," said Bob in a low tone.
"Perhaps they're waiting up for that German bomb planter," chuckled
Hugh. "I guess he won't be home to-night."
"Don't joke about it, Hugh. I feel sorry for the man's family."
"So do I, but I don't feel sorry for him."
"I should say not! Anything they do to him won't be half bad enough."
"The snake," muttered Hugh. "I'd like to have one look inside that room
up there though and see what is going on." He glanced up at the lighted
window questioningly. As he did so the shade was thrown up and the
window opened by some man who thrust his head out and looked around. Bob
and Hugh shrank back within the shadow of a nearby tree. They caught
only a fleeting glimpse of the man's face, and saw that it was no one
they knew. He had closely cropped hair and a bristling mustache turned
up at the ends.
"Who do you suppose that was?" whispered Bob a moment later, as the man
they watched withdrew his head and shut the window.
"Never saw him before," said Hugh.
"He looked like a German though. Let's get home before he comes outside
and begins to prowl around."
Walking on the ground so that they would not make any noise they hurried
on. A few moments later they stood in front of the Cooks' house.
"There's a light in your house too," said Hugh. "This and that house on
Elm Street are the only ones where people seem to be awake."
"That's Lena's room," said Bob.
"She's a German, isn't she?"
"Look here, Hugh," laughed Bob. "You can't make me suspicious about
Lena. She has been our cook ever since I was born. She's the most
faithful and kindhearted woman that ever lived. Why she's practically
one of the family."
"Then what is she doing up there all this time?" demanded Hugh. "Her room
was lighted up when we started out."
"I don't know what she's doing," said Bob. "Reading, maybe. You can't get
me excited about her, and just because some Germans are disloyal you
mustn't think they all are."
"All right," said Hugh. "I'd watch them all though."
"You're crazy," said Bob. "What I want to know is what happened to our
automobile. Tomorrow morning before breakfast you'll see me on my way to
police headquarters to report it. Heinie was going to fix the puncture in
my bicycle to-day and I'll go down on that."
"Will you telephone to me about eight o'clock?"
"I will," said Bob, "and if there's nothing we can do about the
automobile well take our bicycles and ride out to the old deserted
"Good, and now we'd better sneak to bed, for we shan't get much sleep
as it is."
"All right. Good night."
"Good night," said Hugh and turned off down the street.
Bob made his way quietly across the lawn towards the house, glancing up
curiously once or twice at the lighted window in Lena's room. As he
looked the light went out. "Poor old Hugh," he thought. "How silly he is
to be suspicious of Lena." He tiptoed up the steps and across the porch,
let himself in carefully with his latch key, and stole upstairs.
He wished to get into bed without waking any of the family, and was
successful in this, for soon he was snugly under the covers without
having disturbed any one. It was a long time before sleep came to him,
however. He was greatly worried about the loss of the car and he dreaded
having to tell his father about it the next day. Of course his father
would understand, but no one could be blamed for being upset at the loss
of a new automobile, particularly as the result of what might prove to be
a wild goose chase.
Heinrich too would be furious, and Bob expected their chauffeur to knock
on his door at any moment and demand where the automobile was. Heinrich
did not go to bed until the car was safely in the garage, and as a rule
he washed it no matter how late the hour was.
Bob's black eye throbbed somewhat too, his fingers smarted from the burn
of the lighted fuse, and his brain was reeling with the events of the
day. At length, however, he fell asleep and strange to say he slept
dreamlessly. He had taken care to set his alarm-clock for half-past six
and it seemed to him that his eyes had been closed only a very few
minutes when it went off close beside his ear. He clutched it quickly and
stifled the alarm so as not to awaken the rest of the household; a moment
later he had jumped out of bed and was getting into his clothes.
He glanced out of the window and saw that it was light outside. The early
morning sun shone on the bare limbs of the trees and made them glisten.
Here and there a bud could be seen almost ready to burst its shell and
Bob rejoiced to see signs of the coming of spring and summer. He was not
happy, however, for the loss of the car weighed him down and oppressed
him. Even the awakening beauties of nature did not cheer him up and that
was unusual in Bob's case.
A few moments later he was fully dressed except for his shoes. He held
them in one hand, and in his stocking feet slipped out of his room and
stole downstairs. He opened the front door carefully and then sat down on
the steps to put on his shoes. As he busied himself a bicycle passed
along the street in front of the house, and Bob recognized the rider as
"What's he doing out at this time of day?" muttered Bob angrily. He sat
motionless and as Frank did not look toward the house he decided that he
had not been seen. Bob yawned, rubbed his eyes sleepily, and stretched.
He suddenly recalled the loss of the automobile, and jumping to his feet
started toward the garage.
As he came near he saw that the front door of the garage was open. That
was queer, he thought, as Heinrich never left it open at night. Then he
recalled that he and Hugh had left it open the night before and that
probably Heinrich had left it undisturbed so that they could run in the
car without trouble when they returned. Heinrich had no doubt come in and
gone to sleep, and had not yet discovered that the car was missing.
Imagine Bob's surprise therefore when he turned the corner of the
building and saw the car standing in its accustomed place. Heinrich was
washing it as if nothing in the world had happened.
BOB IS MYSTIFIED
Bob stopped and stared in amazement. He could scarcely believe his eyes.
There was the car that had disappeared so mysteriously the night before,
in its right place, and undamaged as far as he could see.
"Heinrich," he exclaimed in amazement.
The chauffeur, a hose in one hand, a big sponge in the other, and wearing
high rubber boots, looked up inquiringly.
"What are you doing up so early?" he asked.
"Where did the car come from?" demanded Bob.
Heinrich straightened up and gazed at Bob.
"What you mean?" he inquired.
"Who brought the car home?"
"How do I know? Maybe your father use it last night. Whoever do it, get
it all covered mit dust."
"But," stammered Bob, "the car was stolen."
"What!" exclaimed Heinrich. "What you talking about?"
"What time did you get in last night?" Bob inquired, becoming more and
more anxious and bewildered every moment.
"Twelve o'clock," said Heinrich. "What you mean the car iss stolen?"
"Was it here when you came home?"
"Certainly it was here. What you talking about?"
"I don't know," said Bob weakly, and he sat down on the running board and
passed his hand across his brow.
"Are you sick?" asked Heinrich anxiously. "You look pale."
"I'm not sick," said Bob. "I guess I'm crazy," and he held his head in
both hands, staring blankly at the floor.
Heinrich did not know what to make of the strange behavior of his
employer's son. He stared at him curiously, and it was plain to see that
he was telling the truth in all he said.
"What you mean the car iss stolen?" he inquired finally.
"Nothing," said Bob blankly. "It's too much for me."
"I go to a party last night," said Heinrich. "I come home late and the
door here iss open. Here iss the car too. Why you think it stolen?"
"I don't know," said Bob. "I guess I must have dreamt it."
"You are sick," exclaimed Heinrich. "You had better go back and go to
bed. If you wish I go with you to the house."
"No," said Bob. "I'm all right." He rose to his feet dazedly, looked in
bewilderment at the car again and started out.
"I have a loss," said Heinrich, convinced that Bob was probably
"What's that?" demanded Bob, turning around.
"Burglars," said Heinrich.
"Where? In the garage here?"
"Yes. Last night," and Heinrich brushed a tear from his eye.
"You did?" exclaimed Bob. "They didn't steal all that money you had
yesterday, did they?"
"No," said Heinrich sorrowfully. "I almost wish they had. They
"Percy," cried Bob, greatly relieved. "Why should any one steal him?"
"I do not know. I come down this morning and I look in the tub to say
good-morning to Percy. The tub iss here, but Percy iss gone."
"There are some queer things going on around here, Heinie," said Bob.
"I like to catch the man what steal him," said Heinrich fiercely.
"I'd like to catch lots of people," said Bob. "Maybe he fell out
of the tub."
"He could not do that," exclaimed Heinrich. "The sides iss too high."
"Well, it's certainly strange." Bob went out of the garage and started
slowly back toward the house. Heinrich, sorrowing over the loss of his
alligator, with a sigh took up the sponge and hose again and fell to
washing the car once more.
Bob returned to his room, washed his face and hands, something he had
neglected to do before, and went downstairs again. He glanced at the
morning newspaper, full of war news and preparations for war; one
column told of the arrest of many Germans all over the country, men who
were suspected of caring more for the Fatherland than they did for the
There was no mention of the bomb episode on the railroad bridge the night
before, however. Bob knew that the authorities would not permit the
publication of any such items if they could prevent it so he was not
surprised. Presently the rest of the family appeared and they went in to
Mr. Cook's mail was lying on the table by his plate; it was his custom
every morning to glance it over while he was eating. While Mrs. Cook
talked to Bob about Harold, her husband looked through his letters.
Suddenly he uttered an exclamation of surprise. "Here's a queer
thing," he said.
"What?" demanded Mrs. Cook anxiously. She had been very nervous lately.
"This postcard," said Mr. Cook. "Listen to what it says. 'Take the advice
of one who knows and keep your automobile home at night.'"
Bob turned pale. "What does it mean!" inquired Mrs. Cook.
"I'm sure I don't know," said her husband.
"How is it signed?"
"It is not signed at all."
"I can't imagine what it's all about," said Mr. Cook. "As far as I know,
our car hasn't been out of the garage at night for over a week."
"Perhaps Heinrich has had it out," Mrs. Cook suggested.
"I'll ask him right after breakfast," said Mr. Cook. "They must have
mistaken our car for some one else's."
"Who do you suppose sent it?"
"I'm sure I don't know," said her husband musingly. "At any rate I think
I shall turn it over to the police; I don't like the look of it."
Throughout this conversation Bob sat silent. He thought perhaps he could
explain part of the mystery to his father, but he was puzzled as to
whether he ought to do so or not. On the other hand if his father called
in the police, he knew that he and Hugh would have small chance of
clearing up the matter themselves.
"It worries me so, Robert," exclaimed Mrs. Cook. "I am so afraid that
something will happen to you, especially as you are making war supplies
at the factory now."
"The plant is guarded," said her husband. "Besides I think I owe it to my
country to help all I can, don't you?"
"Of course, but suppose some of your guards are treacherous."
"They are all trusted employees of American birth."
"No Germans at all?"
"The man in charge at night has parents born in Germany; you know him,
Karl Hoffmann, the one who wants to marry Lena. He is just as faithful
and true as she is. I can vouch for all the others as well."
"He's all right I guess," said Mrs. Cook with a smile. "Even if Heinrich
doesn't like him." Heinrich and Karl Hoffmann were rivals for Lena's
affections, and they despised each other. Lena, however, seemed to like
them both equally well, or at least she did not care enough about either
to marry him.
Bob used to delight in teasing Heinrich about his rival. When Karl was on
the premises Heinrich would sulk in the garage and mutter threats against
him. Karl was twice Heinrich's size, but the little blue-eyed, spectacled
chauffeur never seemed to question his ability to deal with him.
Mr. Cook rose from the table. "I'll go down and ask Heinrich about this
car business," he said, "and then I'll go down to the office." He kissed
Mrs. Cook and Louise and left the room. Bob followed him out. His father
put on his coat and hat and stepped out onto the front porch. A sudden
resolution seized Bob.
"Father," he said.
"What is it, Bob?" asked Mr. Cook, turning to glance at his son.
"I think I can explain about the car."
"You can?" exclaimed his father in surprise, looking curiously at Bob's
"Yes, sir," said Bob, nervously. "It's a sort of a long story. Shall I
tell it all?"
"Certainly. Come out here to the summer house."
They walked in silence to the little rustic house on the lawn and sat
down side by side on the rough wooden seat. Bob was excited, but still
determined that the best thing for him to do was to tell his father the
whole story. He knew his father would understand and see things from his
point of view; they were more like two brothers than a father and son.
"Hugh and I had the car out last night," said Bob, and then he began at
the beginning and related the entire story through to the end. He told of
their visit to the armory, their meeting with Harold on the bridge, the
narrow escape with the bomb, their decision to watch the Wernbergs'
house, their trip to the deserted house, the disappearance of the
automobile, and finally its strange return.
Mr. Cook listened intently throughout the whole narrative, one
exclamation as Bob told of the bomb episode being his sole interruption.
"That card must have been sent by the one that brought the car
back," said Bob.
"It would seem so," his father agreed, and fell silent, thinking.
"That was a close call you boys had with that bomb," he said finally.
"Yes, sir," said Bob.
"What have you planned to do to-day?"
"We were going to report the loss of the car to police headquarters and
then go out to the deserted house again, to see what we could find."
"You weren't going to say anything to the police about it?"
"That might be dangerous, you know."
"Yes, sir," said Bob. "We wanted to solve the thing ourselves if we
"I don't know about that," said Mr. Cook musingly. "I hate to
think of you two boys fooling around out there with a lot of
desperate men around."
"Don't do anything until this afternoon anyway," Bob pleaded.
Mr. Cook thought for a minute. "All right," he agreed. "Ill wait until
after luncheon. Do you and Hugh expect to go out there this morning?"
"Have you got a gun?"
"No, we haven't."
"Well, there's an automatic pistol and two boxes of cartridges in the
second drawer of my bureau. Go up and get them before you start, for I
think you ought to be armed. And above all don't say anything about it to
"Certainly not," exclaimed Bob, much excited that his father was
"Be careful," warned his father. "I'll be home for luncheon and we'll
talk more then."
Heinrich appeared with the car and Mr. Cook got in and was soon on the
way to his office. Bob hurried into the house to telephone to Hugh and
possess himself of his father's automatic pistol.
Hugh promised to hurry over as fast as he could, and he could tell from
the tone of Bob's voice that something stirring was on foot. Bob had
answered his question about the car evasively and he was anxious to hear
the latest developments. Consequently by the time that Bob had tucked the
pistol safely in his back pocket and had gone to the garage for his
bicycle, Hugh appeared.
Bob related the story of the car and its strange return, and also told
about the postal card his father had received that morning. The mystery
seemed to deepen rather than clear up, and both boys were profoundly
mystified by the strange events of the previous day.
"Your eye's better anyway," remarked Hugh.
"Yes," said Bob. "But I may get another one to-day."
"We'll hope not. When do you want to start?''
"Come ahead then," and jumping on their bicycles the two boys pedalled
out of the yard. Little did they dream that bright April morning, as they
rode along, that they were headed for adventures which would make the
events that had gone before appear mild in comparison.
THE DESERTED HOUSE
"Somebody stole Percy," said Bob when they had ridden a little way.
"Yes. Heinrich's pet, you know."
"Why should any one want to do that?"
"I can't imagine, and poor old Heinie is all broken up about it. I've
never seen any one who liked animals as much as he does."
"Who do you suppose did it?"
"I've no idea. Perhaps the man who returned the car stole him and is
planning to wait until he grows big and then train him to come and bite
us," laughed Bob.
"Let's hope not," smiled Hugh. "There are too many strange things going
on for me to understand just now. My brain is all mixed up."
"And so's mine. I should like to know who sent that postal card though."
"Perhaps we'll get on the trail of it when we get to the deserted house."
"Do you suppose we can break in?"
"Perhaps we can. I've brought an electric flashlight along that may come
"A good idea," exclaimed Bob. "I have an idea myself."
"We'd better not ride too far down the road. Let's leave our wheels this
side of the hill, and then go across the country and come in to the
house from the back. In that way I think we'll stand less chance of
"Probably you're right. At any rate I hope no one steals our bicycles."
"I wonder if they'd be returned," said Bob. "Wasn't that a queer thing?"
"It certainly was."
They rode in silence for some time and presently came within sight of the
hill of which they had been speaking. They dismounted from their
bicycles, and wheeling them by their sides started across the fields. A
hundred yards from the main road they concealed them under a clump of
bushes and then continued on their way. They walked for about a half-mile
until they saw the fringe of the woods in the middle of which stood the
"Bob," said Hugh suddenly. "I know who took your automobile."
"What?" exclaimed Bob. "What are you talking about?"
"I know who took your automobile."
Bob burst out laughing. "What are you talking about?" he demanded. "How
could Heinrich take it? Hugh, you're going crazy."
"Isn't Heinrich a German?"
"Weren't there a lot of Germans meeting out here in the old house
"We think so. I still don't see what that has to do with Heinie."
"How do you know Heinrich wasn't here?" asked Hugh.
"You mean that Heinrich is a plotter?" exclaimed Bob, suddenly realizing
what his friend was driving at.
"He might bear watching," said Hugh. "He and that German cook of yours."
"They're both honest and reliable," exclaimed Bob warmly.
"Well," said Hugh, "I heard a story last night about two men coming to a
house where they had a nice 'honest and reliable' German girl and
demanding to see her. The owner of the house refused, and the men then
showed secret service badges. Of course when he saw the badges he had to
do as they said and he called in the girl. As soon as she came into the
room one of the men went up to her and grabbed hold of her hair. Well,
sir, it came right off her head and then they discovered that the maid
was nothing more nor less than a man, a German in disguise, trying to get
information for his government."
"Is that a true story?" exclaimed Bob in amazement.
"The man in whose house it happened told it to father," said Hugh. "It
only goes to show that you can't be too careful. I wouldn't be too sure
about Heinrich and Lena if I were you. The Germans are a bad lot and I
suspect them all."
"Perhaps," said Bob. "Still Heinie and Lena are different."
"They may be tools of Mr. Wernberg for all you know."
"You're foolish," exclaimed Bob. "Why even if they weren't loyal to the
United States they'd be loyal to father and mother. I know that."
Hugh shrugged his shoulders. "It sounds fishy to me, that's all," he
said. "Didn't Heinrich say he went to a party last night? How do you know
the party wasn't held out here, and that he just happened to run across
your car and decided to bring it home."
"If he had he would have washed the car last night, not this morning."
"Because he's so methodical, like all the Germans. He never could have
slept if he had known the car was dirty."
"Why, Bob," Hugh protested, "Heinrich says he didn't come in until twelve
o'clock and he says the car was there then. Why didn't he notice that it
was dirty then? I'd like to know."
"He probably didn't light but one light in the garage and didn't
"Sounds likely," snorted Hugh. "Take my advice and watch 'em both."
"They're just as faithful as you or I," exclaimed Bob. "You can't talk me
into getting suspicious of those two."
"The faithful ones are the ones to suspect," said Hugh grimly.
"Nonsense," said Bob, but his friend's words nevertheless set him to
thinking. What if Heinrich and Lena should turn out to be working in the
interests of Germany? He recalled the light in Lena's room the night
before, and then he thought of all the money Heinrich had had and how
embarrassed and uneasy he had been when Bob spoke of it. Ugly stories of
Germans crowded through his mind, but he refused to believe that their
two servants were of that sort.
Presently they reached the edge of the woods. The wagon road they had
followed the night before ran all the way through the stretch and a
break in the trees a short distance away showed where it came out on
"We must go carefully now," warned Hugh. "How far in is the old house?"
"Oh, about a quarter of a mile," said Bob. "I don't believe any one is
apt to be out here in the daytime." He felt for his back pocket, however,
and the knowledge that he had a revolver with him was most reassuring.
They stole along through the woods, stepping softly and keeping a sharp
lookout in all directions. All was silent, however, and seemingly they
were alone. Before long they were able to glimpse the old deserted house
through the trees. They stopped and gazed at it intently.
It was two stories high and of wood. Years had evidently passed since any
one had lived there and the house was in need of repairing. Some of the
shutters were missing, others sagged or were hanging limply from the
frames, the glass in most of the windows was broken, and the wind and
weather had stripped practically all the paint from the sides of the
abandoned dwelling. The cellar door was missing and all in all the place
presented a forlorn and desolate appearance. Hugh and Bob both recalled
tales of ghosts connected with the old house, and somehow now that they
were there they wished they had stayed at home.
"Perhaps we ought to report this business to the police after all,"
"Yes," said Bob. "Still I'd hate to go home and tell father that we
didn't even go inside the place."
"That's true," Hugh agreed. "What shall we do?"
"Let's walk around it and see if we can see anything suspicious."
"All right. We'd better keep in the shelter of the woods though."
"Oh, yes, of course."
Remaining almost a hundred feet distant from the little clearing, in the
center of which stood the house, the boys began to walk. Save for an
occasional nervous glance about them they never took their eyes off the
deserted dwelling. When they came to the wagon-road they darted across
quickly, fearful lest they should be discovered. Their progress was slow
and an hour had elapsed when they returned to their starting point.
"I don't believe any one is there," whispered Bob.
"It doesn't look so. Shall we go in?"
"I suppose so," said Bob, though it was plain to be seen that neither boy
much relished the task. However they dared not go home and report failure
to Mr. Cook, so presently they ventured forth from the woods and started
across the clearing. The cellar door was open and toward this they made
A gentle breeze rattled one of the shutters, causing the boys to start
nervously. Bob kept his hand on his hip pocket and they walked closely
together. Presently they came to the cellar steps and peered in
cautiously. Their faces were pale, as gingerly they walked down the stone
steps and entered the gloomy cellar.
"Flash your light," whispered Bob.
Hugh did so, and a huge gray rat scuttled across the floor, startling the
boys so that they almost cried out. Little by little their courage
returned, however, and they advanced a few steps. They listened intently,
but no sound came to their ears. Hugh's flashlight revealed the stairs
leading to the first floor and stepping noiselessly the boys approached.
Slowly and very cautiously they ascended and presently came to the top
of the stairs. Bob was in the lead, his pistol gripped tightly in one
hand. With his free hand he pushed the door open gently and looked
within. The kitchen was deserted, a broken-down stove in one corner, a
water heater covered with dirt and rust, a sagging sink, and two
battered chairs and a table completing the furnishings. A soft breeze
entered through a broken window and gently stirred the strip of wall
paper hanging limply from the ceiling.
Bob beckoned to Hugh and they emerged into the room. They listened
intently. Not a sound was to be heard. Reassured they passed out of the
kitchen through a narrow back hall, and into the parlor. The same aspect
of neglect and decay was everywhere evident, but nothing suspicious was
to be seen.
"Shall we go upstairs?" whispered Bob.
"We might as well. I don't believe there's any one here anyway."
The stairs leading to the second floor creaked and groaned under the
weight of the boys, but as they were now convinced that the house was
uninhabited they were not worried. Coming to the second story they
proceeded to the room located in the front of the house.
"This must be the place," whispered Bob excitedly.
A table stood in the center of the room; around it were grouped five
seats, chairs and old boxes, as if five men had had a meeting or
"This is where they had their meeting last night," said Hugh. "Here are
places for five men, and we saw that many come out."
"Yes, sir," echoed Bob. "This looks like headquarters."
"Suppose we could expose them," exclaimed Hugh. "Wouldn't it be great?"
"If we only could," said Bob eagerly. "Let's look around."
Pen and ink, together with a pad of writing paper were lying on the
table. Besides the table and seats, however, there was no furniture in
the room, and there seemed small promise of anything of interest to the
two searchers. They lifted every box and searched under it, but all in
vain. Finally Bob looked behind the door. With an exclamation of delight
he stooped and picked up a piece of paper lying upon the floor.
"What is it, Bob?" inquired Hugh eagerly.
"I don't know. I can't see very well."
"Bring it over here by the window. It's awfully dark and gloomy in
Bob followed this suggestion, and presently was reading what was written
on the paper. Hugh looked on over his shoulder.
"'List of places to be attacked.'" Bob read. "'Railroad bridge, Court
House, Armory, National Cartridge Company, High Ridge Steel Company. More
to be added later.'"
"This looks like the real thing," exclaimed Bob excitedly. "I wonder if
they plan to take these in order. At any rate we fooled them once on the
"Yes," said Hugh, "and we want to fool them on the others if we can."
"They've got father's factory listed," exclaimed Bob. "I was afraid they
would; the Germans don't like him. He's too good an American."
"Some one must have dropped that paper by mistake," said Hugh. "They
never would have left anything like that lying around."
"Suppose they discover they've left it and come back after it."
Both boys looked nervously out of the window, but all they saw was
the little clearing and the quiet trees, swaying gently under the
"Isn't it signed?" asked Hugh.
"Look on the back; there may be something there."
Bob turned over the sheet of paper. "No writing," he said. "There's a
picture here though."
"What is it?"
"I can't see very well. It looks like some sort of a bug."
"It looks like an alligator," said Hugh, taking the paper from Bob and
examining it closely.
"Let me see," exclaimed Bob. "That's what it is," he announced a moment
later. "What do you suppose is the idea of that?"
"I'm sure I don't know. Probably some man was just trying to amuse
himself by drawing pictures, and happened to draw an alligator."
"Maybe it's a picture of Percy," laughed Bob.
"Say," exclaimed Hugh suddenly, "it's strange, though. Heinie's
alligator was probably stolen by the man that returned the car, and
whoever returned the car was probably out here at this meeting. What's
"I don't believe there is any," said Bob. "You're too suspicious, Hugh."
"Won't you admit that it's queer?"
"Of course I will, but I think it also proves that Heinie couldn't have
been the one who returned our car last night. That is, if you think the
man who stole the alligator was the one who brought back the car.
Heinrich wouldn't cry about the loss of his pet if he was the one who
took it, would he?"
"It's too deep for one to understand," sighed Hugh with a shake of his
head. "At any rate one thing is sure and that is that some plots are
being hatched around here and--"
Before he could finish there was a loud crash behind them, the only door
leading out of the room was slammed shut, and a key turned in the lock.
Bob and Hugh stared at each other in astonishment. They had been tricked
and were now prisoners. A moment later they recovered somewhat from their
surprise and with one accord sprang for the door.
Bob seized the knob and shook it violently. To no purpose, however.
"Get a chair, Hugh," he cried. "We'll smash the door in."
"How do we know what's waiting for us in the hall?"
"I don't care. We've got to get out of here."
There was a deafening report of a gun fired in the narrow hall. The panel
of the door close to Bob's head was splintered, and a bullet shot across
the room, shivering the one remaining pane of glass left in the window.
"Duck!" shouted Hugh. "Get away from that door!"
Bob needed no second urging. He sprang aside and cowered against the
side of the wall. The two boys looked at each other, pale-lipped and
"Whew," exclaimed Hugh. "That was a close call."
Bob whipped his pistol out of his pocket, and began to crawl back
toward the door.
"What are you going to do?" demanded Hugh in alarm.
"I'm going to send a bullet through there myself," said Bob. "We might
just as well let them know we're alive too."
"Don't you do it. You'll only waste your bullets and it may help us later
if they don't know we are armed."
Bob hesitated. "I guess you're right," he said a moment later, and
presently resumed his place against the wall.
"What'll we do?" said Hugh.
"I don't know. Did you hear anybody?"
"Not a soul. All I heard was the door bang and then the pistol shot."
"I guess we're in for it," said Bob nervously.
"We must get out of here."
"I think so too, but how?"
"We can smash the door."
"Yes, and the minute we stick our heads out of the door we'll get a
bullet through us. I don't see that we stand a chance."
"But we can't stay here," protested Hugh. "If we do they'll certainly fix
us one way or another."
"If I don't come home to lunch father will get worried and bring help to
us; he knows where we are."
"These people won't wait that long. If they are spies and plotters
they'll be desperate and they won't waste much time dealing with us."
"I wonder how far it is to the ground."
"We'd break a leg trying to jump," said Hugh.
"I'll look anyway," and Bob carefully raised himself to his feet and
advanced toward the window. He peered out and then suddenly uttered an
"Hugh," he cried in a low voice. "The gray roadster is out there. A man
just got in and is driving off."
With one bound Hugh was by his friend's side. "Could you see who it was?"
he demanded eagerly. The roadster had disappeared down the wagon road.
"I couldn't see," said Bob. "His back was toward me all the time."
"How do you suppose that car got in here without our hearing it?"
"I don't know. Of course they had the cutout closed."
"Do you think that man has gone for help?"
"I wouldn't be surprised."
"Then now is our chance to get out of here."
"Perhaps he left a guard."
"I can't help it. At any rate we'll never have a better opportunity
"Shall we smash the door in with a chair?" asked Bob.
"I don't see what else we can do."
"It's a chance."
"Of course it is, but it's no bigger chance than it is to stay here."
"All right then," said Bob. "Let's each get a chair."
They possessed themselves of chairs and then took their places one on
each side of the door. They held the chairs by the backs and prepared to
swing them against the panels.
"One, two, three," counted Bob, and smote the door with all the
strength he could muster. A second later Hugh followed suit. The door
was made of heavy oak, however, and stood fast. Bob and Hugh shrank
back against the wall and waited for any result of their efforts.
Silence pervaded the house.
"I guess that man was the only one here," said Hugh.
"It seems so; let's try it again."
Once more the chairs crashed against the door, but without effect. Again
and again the two boys exerted themselves to the utmost, but the sole
result of their efforts was to break the chairs. Finally, well-nigh
exhausted, they stopped.
"It's no use, Bob," panted Hugh. "The door is stronger than the chairs."
"We've got to get out of here though."
"The only way I can see is the window."
"But we can't jump that far; we'd only break a leg or something. There
isn't even a roof to help us."
"Can't we make a rope out of our clothes and slide down?"
"I say to try the door again," exclaimed Bob.
"But we can't smash it with these chairs," Hugh protested.
"I know it; let's try the table."
"How are you going to do that?"
"I'll show you," said Bob. "Take hold of this end with me."
They grasped the table and dragged it to a spot directly in front of the
door and eight or ten feet distant from it. "Now," exclaimed Bob. "When I
say, 'three,' we'll push it with all our might against the door."
"It'll never work," said Hugh, with a shake of his head.
"Try it," cried Bob. "We've got to do something."
They took firm hold of the table and set themselves. "Now," said Bob.
"One, two, three." They pushed with all their strength and a moment later
the table crashed into the door. The door creaked and groaned but did
not give way.
"It won't work," said Hugh with great conviction.
"Yes, it will too," exclaimed Bob. "Stick to it."
They dragged the table back and once again drove it hurtling against the
door. This time their efforts met with some success for the corner of the
table drove straight through one of the panels.
"See that?" cried Bob excitedly. "I believe that if I put my hand through
that opening I can reach the key and unlock the door."
"You don't suppose for a second that that man left the key in the
door, do you?"
"I don't suppose he did," admitted Bob, somewhat crestfallen. "Still
there's no harm in trying anyway."
"There may be somebody on guard in the hall."
"We'll have to risk that." Bob thrust his arm through the opening made in
the door panel, but soon withdrew it. "The key is not there," he said.
"Of course not," exclaimed Hugh. "Get out of the way and let me get a few
whacks at that panel with the chair." He attacked the door furiously and
in a few moments had knocked out the panel completely.
"I guess we can squeeze through there now," he said.
"Let me go first," exclaimed Bob. "I've got a gun."
He squirmed through the opening in the door and seeing no sign of any one
outside called to Hugh to follow him. A moment later they stood side by
side in the dark and narrow hallway.
"We'd better get out of here as fast as we can," whispered Bob.
"The sooner it is, the better I'm pleased," returned Hugh grimly.
They stole along the hall, every sense alert. Presently they came to
the head of the stairs and discovering nothing to alarm them, started
down. The stairs still creaked and groaned, but the boys' confidence
was rapidly returning as they neared outdoors and safety, and they
A side door stood open and toward this they made their way. Bob had
returned his revolver to his pocket for he really thought he should not
need it any more. He stepped out of the doorway and started down the
steps. As he did so a man sprang at him and with a blackjack dealt him a
stunning blow over the head. Bob reeled uncertainly for an instant, and
then sank unconscious to the floor; there he lay in a limp heap.
Before the man could deal with Bob's companion, Hugh had grappled with
him, and a moment later they were rolling over and over on the ground
fighting like wild cats.
Hugh had seized the man by his right wrist and as they went down the
blackjack was sent spinning. It was man to man, bare hands for weapons.
Hugh's assailant was not large, but he was extremely agile. He squirmed
and wriggled, kicked and butted, in fact he used every weapon at his
command. Hugh probably outweighed his enemy, and in addition was a
splendid wrestler, but he was young and his antagonist's strength was
Each fighter struggled desperately to get an arm free. Once Hugh
succeeded, but it was his left arm, and when he seized his opponent's
throat his hold was soon shaken loose. They fought fiercely, both
breathing hard, their faces were red and blotched, and their eyes were
staring. Over and over they rolled, the stones and twigs on the ground
tearing and lacerating their hands and faces.
Hugh got hold of his opponent's right arm. He bent it back with every bit
of strength he possessed, until the man cried out in pain. Hugh knew,
however, that he would receive no mercy if he was overcome and he pressed
home his advantage. Suddenly, with a convulsive twist of his body, the
man shook loose Hugh's hold, and dealt him a heavy blow in the chest.
Hugh felt his wind badly shaken and he seized his opponent around the
waist with both arms, squeezing with all the strength in his body. His
one idea was to keep as close to his enemy as he could, so that the man
would have no opportunity to strike him again.
Gradually Hugh felt his strength slipping. He knew he could not hold out
much longer, and even as he struggled he wondered how soon it would be
before the other Germans returned and made an end of him. Then when he
least expected it, help came to him.
Bob had opened his eyes after a moment. He had seen millions of stars,
and as he came to his senses again his head felt sore and battered. He
did not recall for a moment just what had befallen him. Suddenly,
however, he heard the sounds of a violent struggle being waged near at
hand, and sitting up he spied Hugh and his assailant locked in each
other's grasp, and still fighting. Bob sprang to his feet and
He remembered everything now. His throbbing head recalled to him the blow
he had received and he could feel a large lump on the back of it. He
wondered what would have happened to him if he had not worn a hat. A
moment later, however, he had dismissed from his mind all thought of
himself and was engaged in assisting his friend.
He grasped Hugh's assailant by his throat and knelt on his shoulders
with both knees. Gradually the man's strength waned; Hugh could feel
it slipping. A moment later he lay gasping on the ground too weak to
offer any resistance to the two boys. Hugh held his arms, while Bob
released his hold on the man's throat and sat on his legs. The
prisoner, his breath rattling in his chest, lay with eyes half-closed,
completely done up.
Suddenly Hugh spied something that made him start violently. The man's
coat lay wide open and pinned on his vest was a badge. More than that, it
was a police badge, one of the badges of the police of High Ridge.
"Bob," gasped Hugh in alarm, "this man's a detective."
"What!" cried Bob. "You're crazy."
"I am not. Look here."
He released his hold on his erstwhile opponent and stood up. Bob followed
suit. In amazement they looked at the man on the ground at their feet.
"That's a High Ridge police badge all right," said Bob. "No doubt of
"Are you a detective?" Hugh asked their victim.
The man looked at them through narrowed eyelids. "Yes," he said weakly,
and started to reach towards his hip pocket.
"Here, here!" cried Hugh. "None of that! This whole thing is a mistake."
"Let me help you up," urged Bob, offering his hand to the beaten man.
Hugh also assisted him and they raised him to his feet.
"I guess we were after the same people you were," exclaimed Bob, taking
it for granted that the detective had trailed the Germans to the deserted
house as he and Hugh had done. "They had us locked up in there and we had
just broken down the door and were coming out. We didn't know you were a
"You didn't give us a chance to find out," laughed Hugh, greatly relieved
at the unexpected turn of events. He also felt safer to have an officer
of the law with them.
The detective rubbed his neck, and looked at the two boys narrowly.
"Germans in this house?" he said at length.
"They had a meeting here last night," said Bob.
"How do you know?"
"We followed them out here. Look at this too," and he handed over the
list of buildings to be destroyed that they had found in the old house.
The detective snatched the paper out of his hand and scanned it eagerly.
"Where did you get this?" he demanded.
"We found it upstairs," said Bob.
"Humph," ejaculated the detective and thrust it into his pocket.
"Weren't you trailing these Germans too?" inquired Bob.
"How do you know they were Germans?"
"Who else would want to blow up bridges and ammunition factories?"
"Did they intend to do that?"
"That's what that list says," exclaimed Hugh, nettled by the questions
the man asked as well as by his odd behavior.
"Well," said the detective, "you take my advice. This is no place for a
couple of boys like you to be hanging around. You might get hurt the
first thing you know." He glanced about him nervously as though he
expected some one else to arrive upon the scene at any moment.
"A man locked us in that room just before you arrived," said Bob. "Then
he dashed off in a big gray roadster."
"Well, you'd better get out of here yourselves," said the
"They may come back at any minute and perhaps you'll need help,"
"I'll take care of that part of it," exclaimed the detective. "You get
Convinced that there was nothing else for them to do, Bob and Hugh
started off through the woods, leaving the detective in undisputed
possession of the premises. They were greatly puzzled by their recent
"What do you think of that detective?" demanded Bob, when they had
reached a point out of sight of the house.
"I think he was an old grouch," exclaimed Hugh. "I don't see why he had
to be so disagreeable to us; all we wanted to do was to help him."
"Yes, when those Germans come back he's apt to be handled roughly."
"He was jealous of us, I believe," said Bob.
"Well, we had gone ahead on our own account, and from the way he acted I
guess we knew more about what was going on than he did."
"Perhaps that's it," said Hugh. "Maybe he was afraid we might take some
glory away from him."
"How silly!" exclaimed Bob. "What do we want with glory?"
"We'd better tell your father what happened this morning."
"Of course. He'll think I'm a pretty poor fighter though; a black eye
one day and a big lump on my head the next."
"How does your head feel anyway?" inquired Hugh.
"Oh, pretty well. It still throbs though."
"I should think it might, and you can consider yourself pretty lucky that
you didn't get your skull cracked open."
"He was a queer looking man, wasn't he?"
"Yes, and his actions were even queerer."
"I guess he was jealous," said Bob. "Oh, well, I don't suppose it makes
any difference who corners those Germans, so long as somebody does it."
"Personally, I'm sort of glad to get away from that house," said Hugh. "I
believe that if we had stayed much longer we never would have left."
"How about the detective?"
"If he wants to stay that's his lookout, not ours."
"That's right, and I suppose he'll go for help anyway."
"Perhaps they'll just watch the house for a day or two," said Hugh. "It
may be though that now that those Germans know they are watched they may
meet in some other place."
"True enough. I wish we could find the place."
Presently they came to the spot where they had left their bicycles. They
were still there, and a moment later the boys were wheeling them back
across the field again. Once more in the road, they mounted and soon were
riding towards home. Their minds were busy with plots and Germans and the
recent experiences they had undergone. They felt sure that they were on
the trail of a desperate gang, and that quick action perhaps was
necessary to prevent untold damage, and possible loss of life.
They were confused, however. Everywhere they turned they seemed to run
into some new angle of the affair, or some other person who might bear
watching. Hugh was still of the opinion that Heinrich and Lena should
be looked after pretty carefully, though Bob laughed at him. He knew
his family felt that their servants could be relied upon absolutely.
Bob wondered about his father's plant; was it properly guarded? Perhaps
his father might consent to let him go down there and help watch over
it at night.
Talking but little they spun along the road. Each boy was occupied with
his own thoughts, and consequently did not notice an automobile rapidly
approaching down the road.
"Here comes a car," exclaimed Bob suddenly. They swung over to the right
side of the road to let it pass, and a moment later it roared past them
in a cloud of dust.
"Bob," cried Hugh excitedly. "The gray roadster."
"I know it. Did you see who was in it?"
"I didn't notice."
"It certainly was."
"I guess your father was right about him then. He said he was a dangerous
man, and I guess he is, if he's mixed up with that gang out there."
"Well, Frank wouldn't talk the way he does unless he'd heard it at home."
"Probably not. Do you suppose they recognized us?"
"Suppose they did?" said Bob, carelessly. "We have a right to the road,
"Certainly, but the man who locked us in the room! He must have been in
the car and would surely recognize us as the ones who were in the house."
"That's true," exclaimed Bob. "Do you think they'll turn around and come
Hugh glanced back over his shoulder. "The car has stopped," he exclaimed.
"Come on, Bob, we'd better ride for all there is in us."
The two boys leaned forward on their pedals, bent low over the
handlebars, and rode as hard as they could. They were not far from the
town now and they knew that the occupants of the gray roadster would not
dare molest them, when once they had gained the populated districts. Not
once did they look back until they were safely within the city limits.
"I didn't think they'd follow us," puffed Hugh. "Still it's just as well
to take no chances."
"I wasn't so much afraid of them chasing us," said Bob. "What worries me
is that probably they know who we are now, and consequently we won't be
safe no matter where we are."
"I guess we'll have to report to the police."
"If we do I hope they treat us better than that detective did."
"I hope so, too," laughed Hugh. "At any rate we'll ask your father."
"You are coming to our house for luncheon, you know."
"We can talk it over with father then."
They arrived at the Cook residence without further adventure or mishap.
They left their bicycles in the garage, and then started for the house.
Half-way across the lawn they met Mr. Cook.
"Well, boys," he said, plainly relieved at seeing them safely back,
"Feel my head," said Bob, removing his cap.
Mr. Cook did so. "Whew!" he exclaimed. "Where did you get that?"
Bob related the story of their experiences that morning. Mr. Cook offered
no comment until he had finished. "This looks serious," he said at
length. "It's too bad you got such a bump from a detective, a man on your
"What do you think of our seeing Mr. Wernberg?" asked Hugh.
Mr. Cook's face clouded and he shook his head. "I was afraid of
him," he said.
"What shall we do about it?" Bob inquired.
"I think we'd better report it to the police, and do it soon, too." He
looked at his watch. "We've got time before luncheon," he exclaimed. "Was
Heinrich in the garage?"
"How about the car?"
"That's there all right."
"Well, come along then," exclaimed Mr. Cook. "We'll get it and go
straight down to police headquarters now."
"Don't you think our friend the detective will make a report?"
"Possibly. Still, as Bob says, those men are sometimes very jealous and
he might not tell the whole story, particularly about what you did."
A few moments later all three were on their way to the police station.
Bob's old friend, Sergeant Riley, was still behind the desk and gave them
a jovial greeting.
"Yez haven't got no Germans for me, have yez?" he demanded.
"No," said Mr. Cook, "we haven't, but we can tell you where to get some."
"Sounds interesting," said the sergeant laying aside his pen and
carefully blotting the sheet of paper on which he had been writing. "Tell
me about it."
"Go ahead, Bob," his father urged. "Tell your story, and first of all let
Sergeant Riley feel the bump on your head. That'll convince him."
"It would indade," exclaimed the sergeant, after examining the swelling
on Bob's head. "Not that I'd ever doubt anything a son of yours told me,
Bob related the events of that day to Sergeant Riley. The police officer
listened attentively and interestedly until Bob came to the part about
the detective. As he began to tell of that the sergeant started
"A detective, yez said?" he demanded.
"Yes," said Bob, "he had a badge on."
"Can yez describe him?"
"Well," said Bob, "he was a man about five feet seven inches tall; he had
dark hair and a close-cut black mustache. I should think he would weigh
possibly about a hundred and fifty pounds; maybe not quite so much. He
had on a soft brown hat and a dark suit of clothes. I can't remember
anything more about him."
"That's a plenty," exclaimed the sergeant. He had been jotting down the
description of the detective as Bob spoke.
"He was a grouchy fellow all right," exclaimed Hugh. "He chased us away
from there as though he was jealous of us and didn't want us around."
"I daresay he didn't want yez," said Riley.
"What's his name?" asked Bob.
"I don't know," replied the sergeant.
"Come on, Riley," laughed Mr. Cook, "you can't tell me that. Why I
thought you knew every one in High Ridge to say nothing of your own
force. You don't mean to tell me you don't know a detective that wears
the same badge you do?"
"Yes, sir, I do," said Riley soberly. "And I'll tell yez why. That man
these boys met this morning is no detective at all."
Mr. Cook and the two boys were so completely taken aback by the
sergeant's statement that for a moment all they could do was stare at one
another in amazement. Bob was the first to regain his voice.
"What do you mean, Sergeant?" he demanded.
"Just what I say."
"That man was not a detective?" stammered Bob. "He is not a member of the
High Ridge force?"
"There is no man answering to that description here."
"Then he was a fake."
"Well," exclaimed Hugh, Bob, and Mr. Cook in one breath. They could
say no more.
"He was a fake," repeated Sergeant Riley emphatically. "There is no
doubt of it."
The boys were too surprised for words. What kind of a business was this
they were becoming involved in anyway? The further they went the more
confused they became. If you could not trust a man with a regulation
police badge, whom could you trust?
"It seems incredible," said Mr. Cook.
"We are at war with Germany, aren't we?" asked Sergeant Riley calmly.
"We are," Mr. Cook agreed.
"Well, then," said the sergeant, "that explains it. They want to do us
all the harm they can and as they can't bring soldiers over here, thanks
to the English fleet, they've got to strike at us with plots and bombs
and such things. They will stop at nothing."
"Are there many to guard against in High Ridge?" asked Mr. Cook. "You
know I am interested because my factory is making ammunition for the
"There are several," the sergeant admitted.
"Can you tell me who they are?"
"I cannot. 'Twould be against my orders. Yez might feel better to know
that we are watching them pretty carefully though."
"I hope so," said Mr. Cook fervently.
"Have yez had lunch?" asked the sergeant suddenly.
"No," replied Mr. Cook. "Not yet."
"Well, suppose yez go home and get it. I may telephone yez a little later
to go out to that house with some of our men."
"Good," cried Mr. Cook. "We'll hurry and you may be sure we'll be ready
any time you call on us."
They left the police station and were soon on their way home. Arriving at
the house, Hugh and Mr. Cook got out, and Bob drove the car down to the
garage. There he found Heinrich seated on a box in one corner intently
studying a sheet of paper he held in his hand.
"What you got, Heinie?" asked Bob cheerily. "A love letter!"
Heinrich looked up at Bob, a curious expression in his pale blue eyes. He
made no comment, however, and presently returned to the perusal of the
paper he held.
"What is it?" demanded Bob, impressed by the chauffeur's manner. An air
of gloom seemed to pervade the garage, even the dog, the cat, and the
parrot appeared to be affected by it. The dog stood listlessly by his
master's side, the cat walked idly up and down, and the bird failed to
greet Bob with his usual cheery "How do"; he sat limply on his perch, his
feathers ruffled, and muttered to himself.
Heinrich handed the paper to Bob. It was a sheet evidently torn from a
pad and in a large scrawling hand was written the following: "We warned
your boss to keep his car at home; now tell him to keep his son there,
too." No name was signed and Bob turned the paper over and looked at the
opposite side. A picture of an alligator was drawn there. Bob recognized
the sheet as similar to the one that he and Hugh had found in the
deserted house and the detective had taken from them; apparently it had
been torn from the same pad.
"Where did you get this, Heinie?" he demanded.
"I go up to the house to see Lena," said Heinrich. "That is maybe a
half-hour ago. I only stay there a few minutes and when I come back
here is this."
"Lying on the floor?"
"Have you no idea who sent it?"
"How should I?" exclaimed Heinrich.
"Somebody must have slipped in here while you were absent and left
it," said Bob. "There are queer things happening around here these
"There is," the chauffeur admitted solemnly.
"Do you mind if I keep this paper?"
Bob started out.
"You better do as that says, too," exclaimed Heinrich earnestly. "You
would not want anything to happen to you."
"I'm not afraid," said Bob soberly. "You know, Heinie," he continued,
"some people are trying to blow up things around here. Some of your
countrymen, and we can't let them do anything like that, you know."
Heinrich seemed much perturbed at this. "So?" he exclaimed his eyes wide.
"Yes," said Bob, "and it's men like you who ought to stop them. You men
who were Germans but are now Americans, could do yourselves a good turn
if you did. Some people of German blood are under suspicion nowadays and
if you showed that you were loyal to the United States it would be a good
thing for you. Not that I mean to say we are suspicious of _you_," Bob
hastened to add.
This speech of Bob's seemed to offer a new line of thought to Heinrich
who merely stared at Bob and said nothing.
"Heinrich is so loyal himself that it never occurred to him that any one
would be suspicious," thought Bob as he hurried off toward the house, the
strange paper clutched tightly in one hand.
He arrived to find every one at the dining-table, and consequently he
said nothing about the warning, for he did not wish to alarm his mother.
She had just heard from Harold; his company had been ordered away from
High Ridge that morning for an unknown destination. She was worried
enough over that without having another son on her mind. Fortunately the
lump on Bob's head was covered by his hair so that it was not noticeable
enough to draw attention to it. His black eye already had been explained.
Luncheon was hardly over when the telephone summoned Mr. Cook. Sergeant
Riley was on the wire inquiring if Mr. Cook and Bob and Hugh could not
meet him at headquarters immediately. A few moments later they were in
the car and on their way down the street. Bob was at the wheel.
Another car was drawn up alongside the curb in front of the police
station and in it were four plain-clothes men. Sergeant Riley was there
to explain that they planned to go out to the deserted house and search
it thoroughly, by force if necessary. He wished the two boys to go along
as guides, and he thought probably Mr. Cook would want to accompany them.
A short time later they started, Bob leading the way. As they passed Elm
Street he glanced curiously at the white stucco house, number twelve
eighty two, and wondered what had happened to the German who had
attempted to destroy the railroad bridge. Probably he now rested in jail,
awaiting trial. Then again it occurred to Bob that possibly he had been
shot; the country was at war and offenders of that kind were not dealt
lightly with at such a time.
They left the city behind and rolled along over the country road. The
three occupants of the car were silent for they did not know what might
await them at their destination. A squad of soldiers out on a hike passed
them. They were hot, dirty and dusty, but their rifles glinted wickedly
in the light of the afternoon sun.
"They look like business," remarked Mr. Cook.
"They certainly do," exclaimed Bob. "I wish I was one of them."
"If the war lasts long enough maybe you will be."
"The United States can certainly raise a big army."
"Indeed it can," his father agreed. "Germany thought they'd have nothing
to fear from us, but they'll be sadly fooled. Just think of the money and
food and equipment of all kinds we can furnish our allies; those things
are just as important as men, and we can send millions of those, too, if
they need them."
Presently they came to the spot where Bob and Hugh had dismounted from
their bicycles that morning. Bob stopped the car and the plain-clothes
detectives followed suit. Sergeant Riley took charge.
"You lead the way," he said to Bob. "We'll follow wherever you go."
A moment later they were off across the field and soon came to the woods
which sheltered the deserted house. In Indian file they commenced to
pick their path among the trees and underbrush. Complete silence was
maintained and the party advanced, ready for any emergency. Of course the
detectives were armed. Mr. Cook carried his pistol, so Bob and Hugh were
the only ones not provided with some means of defense.
In the course of perhaps fifteen minutes Bob, from his position in the
lead, caught a glimpse of the old house through the trees. So far as
he could see there was no sign of life around it anywhere. He held up
his hand and the little party came to a halt. A whispered consultation
was held and it was decided to spread out somewhat and move forward in
The plan was to advance until they reached the border of the trees, and
then at a given signal rush out into the opening and surround the house.
Stealthily the band stole forward. The spring air was soft and balmy, the
buds on the trees were commencing to swell; everywhere nature gave signs
of a reawakening, but these things passed unnoticed. The members of the
little party were occupied with the business in hand, and had no time or
interest for anything else.
Soon they reached their appointed positions. From the spot where he
crouched Bob could see the others lurking within the shelter of the
trees. He could see Sergeant Riley raising a police whistle to his lips
to sound the signal that had been agreed upon. Bob set himself. He had
been advised that inasmuch as he was unarmed he should remain behind, but
he had no such intention. Neither had Hugh.
Suddenly Sergeant Riley sounded a shrill blast with his whistle. Every
man rushed forward. Only for a few steps, however. A burst of flame, and
a puff of smoke shot from the cellar window of the old house, and the air
was rent by a terrific explosion.
Staggered, the men all stopped short in their tracks. An instant later
there was a second explosion. There was a ripping, splitting sound, and
the whole side of the building fell out. The air was filled with bits of
wood and plaster.
"Keep away from that house!" shouted Sergeant Riley as one of his men
darted forward. "Do yez want to get killed?"
A minute later flames appeared, and the red and yellow tongues of fire
began to play around the window frames. Black smoke curled from every
opening. It was plainly to be seen that the house was doomed.
"Look!" cried Hugh suddenly. "There goes a man!"
Without waiting to see what the others were going to do he dashed off in
pursuit of a figure which could be seen scuttling away through the trees.
Two of the detectives joined in the race and one of them fired two shots
from his pistol at the fugitive. In reply the man suddenly wheeled and
shot once at his pursuers. Bob heard the bullet whine past close to his
head. He also had caught a fleeting glimpse of the man, and one look was
enough to convince him that it was the fake detective with whom he and
Hugh had struggled that morning.
A moment later the man was out of sight, Hugh and the two detectives
still after him, shouting and calling to him to halt. Meanwhile the fire
in the house roared and blazed.
"She's a goner," said Sergeant Riley. He stood beside Mr. Cook and Bob as
they watched the burning building.
"I guess she is," remarked Mr. Cook. "There's nothing we can do."
"Nothing," agreed the sergeant.
"It's not much loss anyway," said Mr. Cook.
"No loss at all," exclaimed Bob. "It's a gain if anything, for it makes
one less place for spies and plotters to meet in."
"But any evidence that might have been in there is destroyed,"
"I never thought of that," said Bob. "That's probably why they
"Was that your detective running off through the woods?" asked the
"It certainly was," said Bob. "I guess he was one of the gang after all.
I suppose they left him behind to watch us."
"Then why did he let you get away?" his father replied.
"Probably he thought it would create less suspicion," said Sergeant
Riley. "He got the paper away from the boys and as long as he thought
he could bluff them into thinking he was a detective he thought that
was sufficient. On the other hand if he had held them prisoners or
anything like that there would have been a search for them and trouble
started at once."
"I guess that's right," said Mr. Cook soberly. "However, I hope they
catch him this time."
Suddenly a piercing scream startled them. They glanced up to see a white
face at one of the windows of the house. All around, the fire roared and
the smoke curled up in great clouds. Before they could see who the man
was he had fallen back into the room and disappeared from view.
"I'll get him," exclaimed one of the detectives, and without further
ado, he sprinted for the burning house. Paying no heed to the warning
cries of his comrades he dashed up to the back door and entered, and was
soon lost to sight.
"That feller Donovan is a dare-devil," exclaimed Sergeant Riley. "He'll
stop at nothing. Why should he risk his life for a man that's as good as
"He'll never come out alive," cried Mr. Cook.
"And all for a man who is plotting against the country," echoed
Riley. "Here you!" he shouted to the other plain-clothes man. "Keep
out of there. The High Ridge police force can't afford to lose more
than one man a day." The fourth detective showed signs of wishing to
follow his comrade.
"If he does rescue that man it'll only be to put him in jail," said Bob.
"Or shoot him more likely," cried Riley angrily.
Breathless they waited for any sign of Donovan. The fire burned more
fiercely every moment, and it seemed incredible that any man could enter
that seething furnace and return alive. The air was filled with sparks
and blazing embers; the smoke mounted heavenward in a thick column which
must have been visible for miles.
Minutes that seemed like hours passed. Hugh and the two detectives
returned from their chase. They had not captured their man.
"We followed him as far as the road," one of them reported. "He had a
motor cycle there and got away from us."
"We'll get him later, never fear," said Sergeant Riley, grimly.
"Meanwhile that crazy man, Donovan, is in the house here trying to rescue
some one of them German plotters that showed his face at the window."
The recipients of this piece of news gasped. "He'll never come out,"
exclaimed one of the men. "Still, he never did seem to care much for
White faced and tense they watched the conflagration. Certainly not one
of the men ever expected to see Donovan again. Yet what could they do? As
Sergeant Riley had said, it was folly for any one else to follow him in,
and so they were powerless. All they could do was watch and hope.
Suddenly a figure appeared at the door. It seemed to issue straight
from the hottest part of the fire. On its shoulder was the limp
figure of a man.
"There he is!" cried six voices together, and together the six watchers
made for the house.
Donovan, for it was he, stood on the charred steps. Sparks and blazing
firebrands fell all around him and he tottered uncertainly. Willing
helpers rushed to his assistance, but before they could reach him he
swayed and fell. He rolled down the step dropping his burden, and side by
side the two men lay on the ground. Close by, the wall threatened to fall
on them at any moment.
It did not take long to seize both men, and carry them away from danger
and a moment later they were stretched out side by side on the grass, a
safe distance from the burning building.
The man whom Donovan had rescued, had a face so blackened by smoke and
soot that he was unrecognizable. His clothes were scorched and his whole
body seared with terrible burns. He was unconscious.
"Is he still alive?" whispered Bob in a low voice.
Sergeant Riley put his hand over the wounded man's heart. "I think so,"
he said. "Get some water somebody. And look after Donovan."
"There's a spring back there in the woods," exclaimed Hugh. "I have
nothing to carry water in though."
"Take all the handkerchiefs you can get," ordered the sergeant. "Fill the
hats; you'll lose most of it on the way back, but you'll get some."
Hugh hastened to obey; with him went Bob and two of the detectives. The
spring was not far distant, and they soon were sousing the handkerchiefs
in the clear, cold water. The hats, too, were filled and those made of
felt held the water fairly well. A few moments later they were hurrying
back toward the spot where the injured man was lying.
It had been found necessary to remove the patients farther away from the
burning building, for the heat grew more intense every moment. Donovan
had so far recovered as to be sitting up. He suffered acutely from
numerous burns, but otherwise seemed to be all right. The man whom he
had rescued, however, still lay unconscious on the ground.
Sergeant Riley now took charge of the operations. He bathed Donovan's
face with one of the handkerchiefs and gave him another to suck. Mr. Cook
under Riley's instructions poured water from one of the hats upon the
other sufferer's face, and then gently sopped it with a handkerchief. As
a result of this treatment the soot and grime disappeared and presently
it was possible to distinguish his features.
Suddenly Mr. Cook started back in surprise. "Come here, Bob," he cried.
"See who this is."
One glance was enough for Bob. He recognized the man over whom his father
was working as Mr. Wernberg.
"Who is he?" inquired Sergeant Riley, noting his companion's
"His name is Wernberg," said Mr. Cook.
"I've heard of him," said Riley grimly.
"Have you been looking for him?"
"I know his name," exclaimed the sergeant evasively.
"Well," said Mr. Cook, "he's about done for, I'm afraid. I suppose we
ought to get him to a doctor as fast as we can though."
"Yes," agreed Riley.
"I'll get our car," exclaimed Bob.
"Can you bring it in here?" asked his father.
"Yes. I'll have it here in ten minutes," and Bob set off at top speed
through the woods toward the spot where the automobile had been left.
Mr. Wernberg was still unconscious. In fact it was difficult for a time
to ascertain whether or not he was alive. More water was brought from the
spring and Mr. Cook and Riley continued to minister to the sufferer. Some
of the worst of his burns were bound up with strips of shirts offered by
members of the party, and his outer clothing was removed. As a matter of
fact a large portion of it was so burned that it crumbled to powder at a
"He's alive," said Sergeant Riley after a few moments.
"Then he ought to recover," exclaimed Mr. Cook. "That is, unless he has
inhaled some of the flames and injured his lungs in some way."
"Only a doctor can tell that," said the sergeant. "Whether he gets well
or not, one thing is certain and that is he'll be in the hospital a
"That's right," agreed Mr. Cook. "I wish he could talk though."
At that moment Bob arrived with the automobile and presently Mr. Wernberg
was lifted into the tonneau and a blanket wrapped around him. He was
still unconscious, but his face was drawn with pain that fortunately he
could not feel. Much as the men who cared for him despised him for his
suspected work with the gang of spies and plotters they could only feel
pity for his sufferings.
Mr. Cook, Hugh, and Sergeant Riley accompanied Bob on his trip to the
High Ridge Hospital, and the three other members of the party were left
to watch the fire and see that it did not spread, and then they were to
follow in the other car. Donovan the detective seemed to be himself once
more and related briefly the story of how he had rescued Mr. Wernberg.
"I rushed into the house," he said, "and as I stuck my head inside the
door a wave of smoke caught me full in the face. At first I expected I
should have to turn back, but I kept on and presently the air cleared for
a minute. I knew the trapped man was on the second floor so I hurried
around looking for the stairs. Finally I found them and though they were
awfully rickety I got up.
"The smoke seemed to be thicker on the second floor and I could scarcely
see. I heard a cry and followed it, stumbling and falling along the
hall. The door of one big room was smashed and the smoke poured out of
there as if it was a chimney. No one was in that room and I came out
into the hall again. I heard another call, and traced it as coming from
a room where the door was closed. I grabbed the door-knob, but it was
locked. 'Help! Help!' I heard from inside. 'Unlock the door!' I shouted.
'I have no key,' said the voice, so I put my shoulder to the door and
tried to force it.
"I was choking and coughing and gasping, what with the smoke and all, and
it was hard work standing there. I shoved with all my might though, and
all of a sudden the door gave way. I went shooting into the room and fell
right over a man stretched out on the floor. 'They blew me up,' he cried
and fainted. Well, the room was full of smoke and all around the edges
little tongues of flame were playing; the fellow had fallen to the floor
and been terribly burned. I picked him up and staggered out with him and
you know the rest."
Donovan himself was badly burned about his hands and face. Every one
knows how painful is a burn, but the detective made no complaint, in
spite of the fact that he must have been suffering agonies.
Meanwhile Bob was speeding the car back towards High Ridge. He broke all
speed laws on the way, but he had been warned that haste was imperative
if Mr. Wernberg's life was to be saved. Besides he had a police officer
in the car with him and knew that he was safe.
In an incredibly short time he pulled up in front of the hospital. Two
orderlies were summoned, and soon Mr. Wernberg, placed on a stretcher,
was being carried into the building. Once or twice his eyelids fluttered
as though he were about to regain consciousness, but he did not seem to
possess sufficient strength to accomplish that end.
Two doctors hastily took him in charge, Sergeant Riley left word that
he should be summoned the instant the patient was able to talk, and
then Bob ran the car around to police headquarters. Sergeant Riley
invited them all into his office and they discussed what their next
move should be.
A band passed by the door, several men in uniform followed behind on
their way to the city square where they were to make speeches in order
to urge more enlistments in the army and navy. Crowds of enthusiastic
people trailed the procession, and Bob could not help wondering if the
people realized that danger threatened the country from within as well
as from without.
Presently the car bearing the three detectives arrived at headquarters.
They reported that nearby farmers had come to the scene of the fire,
which was now in such condition that no harm could come from it. The
farmers had promised to watch over the smouldering ruins, for ruins were
now all that remained of the old house.
Donovan once again related his story and then went off in search of a
doctor to care for his burns.
"It's bad business, Sergeant," said Mr. Cook.
"It is," Riley agreed. "I'd like to get me hands on some of them