Part 3 out of 4
"Seems queer that they should have blown up one of their own men."
"'Twas probably a mistake. Perhaps they saw us coming and were in such a
hurry that our friend Wernberg had no time to get away."
"But look here," protested Bob. "Don't you remember what Donovan said
that Mr. Wernberg said when he burst into the room?"
"He said, 'they tried to blow me up,'" quoted Mr. Cook.
"Exactly," exclaimed Bob. "Doesn't that seem queer to you?"
"He was probably left there by mistake, as the sergeant says,"
said Mr. Cook.
"But," Bob insisted, "the door was locked."
The men looked at one another blankly.
"I had forgotten that," said Sergeant Riley.
"Well," insisted Bob, "I'd like to have that part of it explained to
me. You don't suppose for a minute that Mr. Wernberg locked himself
in, do you?"
"I shouldn't think he would," Mr. Cook admitted. "But if he didn't do it,
who did? That's what I'd like to know."
"Mr. Wernberg wasn't the only man in the house, you know," said Bob.
"Who else was there?"
"Didn't Hugh and two of the detectives chase another man?"
"Yez mean the fake detective?" asked Sergeant Riley.
"But wasn't he in the same gang? What use would it be to him to blow up
one of his own men?"
"I don't know," said Bob. "Still I don't believe that Mr. Wernberg locked
himself in and threw the key out of the window."
"Doesn't sound likely," the sergeant agreed. "I'd like to know why those
two men were enemies though. From all I can learn I should think they
were working for the same purpose. Why should that fake detective be so
eager to get that paper away from yez, and to get you boys away if he
wasn't up to something suspicious?"
"Don't ask me," exclaimed Bob. "It's too deep for me, and I get more and
more mixed up all the time."
"Well, I believe it's just as I said," continued Riley. "They were both
parts of the same crowd. There must have been evidence against them in
that house and they wanted to destroy it. Your fake detective blew it up
and Mr. Wernberg got caught in there by mistake."
"How do you explain the locked door?" asked Bob.
"I don't, but there must be some explanation for it."
"You think it was an accident, don't you?"
"I do," said Sergeant Riley firmly. "When Mr. Wernberg gets so he can
talk I'll bet he'll say the same thing."
Bob merely shrugged his shoulders. He did not think that the
sergeant's explanation was correct, but he could offer no better one
himself so he said nothing. After all it might be that in the hurry to
get away there was a mix up and Mr. Wernberg was left behind, locked in
the room. Bob had no doubt in his mind that Mr. Wernberg was a member
of a gang that was plotting against the United States. In his heart he
felt sure he was guilty.
On the other hand if the fake detective was not equally guilty he would
be surprised. Certainly no man would disguise himself in that way who
had honorable motives. Nor would any man run away as he had done, or
fire a pistol at real officers of the law unless he was engaged in some
How were these two men connected? That was the question that bothered
Bob. He felt that there was some connection between them, and yet why
should one of them be locked in the second story of a house while the
other one put a bomb under it and burned it up? Perhaps after all it was
as Sergeant Riley had suggested.
"Come on, boys; we'll go home," exclaimed Mr. Cook.
"Thank yez for coming with us," said Sergeant Riley, as Mr. Cook and the
two boys rose to their feet preparatory to leaving.
"Not at all," said Mr. Cook cordially. "If there is anything further we
can do to help, please call on us."
"I will," said the sergeant. "Thank yez again."
"And don't forget to let us know what Mr. Wernberg has to say."
They went out and got into the automobile and a few moments later were
"After you put away the car, I want you to take a note down to the
Wernbergs for me," said Mr. Cook to Bob as he mounted the steps of
"To tell them what happened to Mr. Wernberg?"
"I should think it would be better to go and see them."
"No doubt it would, but somehow I don't like the idea of having to go and
talk to Mrs. Wernberg about it. I suppose I'm a coward."
"I don't blame you," exclaimed Bob, and after he had returned the car to
its place in the garage he came back to the house to wait until his
father should have finished the note he was writing.
When it was ready Mr. Cook handed it to Bob, who at once started for the
Wernbergs' house, accompanied by Hugh. They discussed the recent turn of
events in the mystery and were somewhat at a loss as to what their next
move should be. Now that the old deserted house was a thing of the past
they did not know where to look for the seat of the conspiracy. They did
decide, however, that in so far as it was possible they would keep watch
on number twelve eighty-two Elm Street.
They mounted the front steps of the Wernbergs' house, and Bob advanced
toward the door bell. Before he rang it, however, he spied an envelope
lying at his feet, half concealed under the door mat. He stooped to pick
it up, and as he glanced at it he uttered an exclamation of surprise.
"Look, Hugh," he exclaimed.
The envelope was of plain white paper and addressed to Mr. Wernberg.
There was no street number on it, merely the name. This in itself was not
particularly odd, nor was it the cause of Bob's surprise. On the other
side of the envelope, however, was scrawled a drawing. It was the picture
of an alligator.
"Well, Hugh, what do you think about that?" demanded Bob.
Hugh looked blankly at the rude drawing on the back of the envelope.
"I don't know," he said slowly. "Why should they send Mr. Wernberg one
"Unless it's a message from one member of the gang to another."
"But Mr. Wernberg is in the hospital."
"The others may not know that."
"That's true," Hugh agreed. "This handwriting is the same as that on the
messages that came to your father and to Heinrich too."
"I know it, and the same as in the list we found in the old house."
"What do you suppose the alligator stands for?"
"I've no idea. Why did they steal Percy?"
"Anyway we'd better ring the bell and deliver our message. We can't stand
out here on the porch all day, you know."
Bob pushed the electric bell, and almost instantly the front door was
opened by Frank Wernberg. It would seem as if he had been behind the door
waiting all the time. His close-cropped light hair bristled fiercely, and
his nose was still slightly swollen; his chin also was still raw where
Bob had planted his fist the day before. Bob thought how much longer ago
than that it seemed; so many things had happened in the last two days.
"What are you doing here?" demanded Frank brusquely.
Bob and Hugh had been so surprised by the sudden opening of the door that
for a moment neither one of them replied.
"What do you want?" exclaimed Frank.
"We've got a letter for your mother," said Bob.
Frank glared at them under lowering brows. "Who from?" he asked.
"That's for her to find out," said Bob. "It's addressed to her you see."
Frank snatched the letter from Bob's outstretched hand, and made as if he
was about to go in and shut the door.
"Wait a minute," exclaimed Hugh. "Here's another."
"What kind of a joke are you trying to play on me?" cried Frank angrily.
"None at all," said Hugh. "This one is for your father."
Frank grew red in the face, "If this is a joke I swear you'll be sorry
for it," he exclaimed hotly.
"It's no joke at all," said Hugh. "We found this letter lying here under
the mat. I was just going to hand it to you."
Frank took the letter from Hugh and looked at it suspiciously. Then he
turned it over and looked at the back of it. Suddenly he turned pale.
Bob and Hugh, watching him closely, noticed this fact, and Bob, suddenly
plucking up courage, determined to speak of it.
"What does that alligator mean, Frank?" he asked.
The color rushed back into Frank's face. He looked as though he were
going to run. He swallowed hard two or three times, choked, and then
swallowed again. "I don't know," he blurted out finally, and stepping
inside slammed the door shut in the faces of the two boys.
Hugh looked at Bob and smiled. "Frank was certainly glad to see us,
wasn't he?" he said sarcastically.
"I should say so," Bob agreed. "Let's go home."
They went down the steps and walked slowly in the direction of the
"Frank's a queer fellow," said Hugh finally.
"He certainly is," Bob agreed.
"Do you think he knows what has happened to his father?"
"I doubt it. I don't believe he would have been so surly if he had
"What do you think about the alligator?"
"I'm sure I don't know," said Bob. "It must mean something though, and
Frank must know what it is. Did you see how pale he got when he saw it!"
"Maybe it's the sign of some secret society like the Black Hand, or the
Ku Klux Klan, or something like that."
"Still I can't understand why they should send a warning to Mr. Wernberg
if he is a member of the gang."
"It may not have been a warning," said Hugh. "Perhaps it was just a
message of some kind or another."
"Then why should Frank have been so scared when he saw it?"
"Don't ask me. I'm getting more mixed up every minute."
They turned into the Cooks' yard and slowly approached the house. A man
and woman were just disappearing around the corner.
"Who are they?" Hugh inquired.
"Lena, the cook, and one of her beaux," said Bob.
"I thought Heinrich was in love with her."
"He is," laughed Bob, "but he has a rival, and that's the man."
"What's his name?"
"Another German," said Hugh soberly.
"Say, Hugh," laughed Bob, "you certainly are suspicious. You suspect good
old Lena, and now you suspect the man with her because he has a German
name. Why, that man Hoffmann has worked for father for years, and father
thinks the world of him."
"That doesn't mean he may not be mistaken," Hugh insisted.
"Why, father has even selected him as one of the guards for the factory,"
said Bob. "I guess that shows how much confidence he has in him."
"But suppose Lena is disloyal," exclaimed Hugh. "If Karl Hoffmann is in
love with her there's no telling what she might get him to do."
"But Lena is not disloyal," said Bob peevishly. He was becoming tired of
Hugh's constant slurs against the people whom his father employed.
"Well, I'd watch them all," said Hugh.
Bob offered no further comment. He could not convince Hugh that his
suspicions were unfounded so he decided there could be no use in arguing
with him. They entered the house and found Mr. Cook seated in the
"Did you deliver my note?" he asked.
"We did," replied Bob.
"Who came to the door?"
"Frank," and Bob related their experiences to his father. Mr. Cook was
much interested and puzzled by the manner in which Frank had acted when
he saw the drawing of the alligator on the back of the envelope.
"We thought perhaps it might be the sign of some secret society,"
"Possibly so," agreed Mr. Cook. "Let's see; the same sign was on the
paper you found in the old house, Heinrich got a note with the
picture on it, and now this letter you picked up on the Wernbergs'
porch had it too."
"And the handwriting was the same as on that postal card you got this
morning," said Bob.
"I didn't see any picture on that though."
"No," agreed Bob. "Neither did I."
"I threw the card away," said Mr. Cook. "I was afraid your mother might
find it and worry."
"Perhaps there won't be any more trouble, now that Mr. Wernberg is out of
the way," suggested Bob. "If he was the leader of the gang, his burns
will keep him in the hospital and out of mischief for some time to come."
"You didn't hear what happened this afternoon then?" asked his father.
"No, what?" demanded Bob and Hugh in one breath.
"You remember the railroad bridge, don't you?"
"I guess we'll never forget that, will we, Hugh?" exclaimed Bob. "You
don't mean that they tried to blow it up again?"
"Well, it looks so," said Mr. Cook. "One of the guards on the bridge this
afternoon saw a man coming down the river in a rowboat. He called to him
to halt, but the man kept right on. The guard challenged him three times,
but as the man gave no answer he fired at him."
"Did he kill him?" demanded Bob excitedly.
"No," said Mr. Cook, "he didn't try to kill him. He just wanted to scare
him, and when he fired the man jumped out of the boat into the water. The
guard hurried down to the bank of the river, but the man had scrambled
ashore and run off; you know it's quite a long distance from where the
railroad tracks cross the bridge down to the water. The guard got a long
pole and waded out into the river after the boat. He caught it finally
and when he had hauled it ashore he found it was loaded with dynamite. Of
course no one knows, but they think he planned to blow up the bridge."
"Whew!" exclaimed Hugh. "The man got away, you say?"
"Couldn't the guard see what he looked like?"
"Yes, he did see that, and here is the interesting part."
"What do you mean?"
"Why," said Mr. Cook, "the man was rather slight, weighing perhaps a
hundred and fifty pounds and he had a close-cropped black mustache."
"The fake detective!" exclaimed Bob. "Was that who it was?"
"The description fits him, doesn't it?"
"Yes," agreed Hugh, "but he was out at the old house this afternoon. How
could he be on the river at the same time?"
"He was out at the old house early this afternoon," said Mr. Cook. "This
episode at the bridge happened only about an hour ago."
"He must have hurried right down there," exclaimed Bob. "When he realized
that the police were on his trail he probably decided he had no time to
lose, and that's why he dared try such a thing in broad daylight."
"Where did you hear about it, Mr. Cook?" inquired Hugh.
"Sergeant Riley just told me over the telephone; I had called him up to
inquire how Mr. Wernberg was getting along."
"How is he?" asked Bob.
"Pretty bad yet; once in a while he recovers consciousness, but only
for a few minutes. Besides he suffers so from his burns he can't do
"And meanwhile his gang keeps on working," said Hugh.
"Is that fake detective part of his gang?" said Bob. "He's the one who
blew him up."
"I don't know," exclaimed Hugh in despair. "We just go 'round and 'round
in circles and don't seem to get anywhere at all."
"But the fact remains, doesn't it, boys," inquired Mr. Cook, "that
whether we know who the gang is, and what the relations are between the
two gangs--if there are two--that somebody is hard at work plotting
against this country? Also they are becoming bolder for they know that
their time is short; sooner or later they are bound to be caught."
"You're afraid for your factory to-night, aren't you, father?" asked Bob.
"I am, indeed," said Mr. Cook.
Bob was on the point of asking if he and Hugh might not help guard it
when the telephone rang and his father was called away to answer it.
"Let's go down and talk to Heinrich," exclaimed Bob when his father
left the room.
"Aren't you going to ask your father if we can stand guard to-night?"
"Wait till after dinner. I'll ask him then."
"Do you think he'll let us?"
"I guess so. It depends on how badly he needs us."
They went out, and just at the corner of the porch met Karl Hoffmann. He
had said good-by to Lena and was on his way home. Bob knew him well, as
he did most of his father's employees, for much of his spare time was
spent down at the factory. Furthermore, on account of Lena, Hoffmann was
a frequent visitor in the Cook home.
He was a big, fine looking fellow of about forty. He had black hair and a
piercing black eye, a typical Prussian, for it was from that province in
Germany that his parents had migrated some twenty-five years previously.
He was a powerful man, standing nearly six feet in height, and not yet
showing any tendency towards stoutness, so common among Germans.
"Hello, Karl," cried Bob cheerily.
Hoffmann stopped short. His face had been drawn into a scowl as he strode
along, and he had been deeply engrossed in his own thoughts. Bob had
often seen him that way after talking with Lena, however. She was
something of a flirt and received lightly her admirers' advances. Many a
time both Heinrich and Karl had been driven almost to desperation by the
manner in which she treated them. Neither did they like each other,
because they were rivals.
"Hello there, Bob," he exclaimed, his face brightening. Bob had always
been a marked favorite of his, and many a thing he had showed him about
the machinery at the factory.
"You look mad," said Bob.
"I was sort of mad," said Karl. "I was worried."
"Anything I can do for you?" Bob inquired, nudging Hugh with his elbow.
He loved to tease both Karl and Heinrich about their love affair.
"No, thanks," replied Karl seriously. "It will be all right I hope."
"I hear you're making ammunition down at the factory," said Bob.
"Keeps you pretty busy, doesn't it?"
"It certainly does. We're going to work both a night and day shift
"You want to watch out for some of these bomb plotters," said Bob. "There
are a lot of them around here, I understand."
"That so?" exclaimed Karl. "I hadn't heard of any."
"Well, they're here all right."
"We have the plant guarded, you know."
"I know it. It's a good thing too."
"I think it's unnecessary," said Karl. "I told your father so, too."
"You're more of an optimist than he is, I guess," laughed Bob. "He's
heard a lot of things that have made him sort of nervous."
"That so?" demanded Karl. "I wonder what they were?"
"I don't know," Bob lied. He thought that if his father wanted to tell
his employees any details he would probably do so himself.
Just then Hugh plucked his sleeve. "Look, Bob," he exclaimed. "Here comes
Frank in to see you."
Bob swung around just in time to see Frank Wernberg on a bicycle turning
into the driveway. He rode a few yards and then suddenly turned around
and rode out again. Coming to the street once more he dismounted from his
bicycle, and gazed back at the Cooks' house as if he was debating
whether he should go in or not. Finally, however, he seemed to decide
against that course and jumping on his wheel rode off down the street.
"He lost his nerve," exclaimed Hugh. "You ought to have called to him."
"A fine chance of that," snorted Bob. "If he wants to he can come in here
and see me, but I won't run after him."
"Who was that boy?" asked Karl curiously.
"Frank Wernberg," said Bob.
"Wernberg?" exclaimed Karl. "Does his father live down on the
"I don't like that man," said Karl soberly. "I hope he's not a friend
"He is not," exclaimed Bob warmly. "What do you know about him, Karl?"
"Nothing much; I just don't trust him."
"No one seems to like him," laughed Bob. "I guess he won't bother us for
some time to come though now."
"Why not?" demanded Karl quickly.
"What's the matter with him?"
"I don't know," said Bob evasively. He suddenly remembered that probably
he had no right to talk about what they had done that day. "All I know is
that he's in the hospital."
"Serves him right," exclaimed Karl. "That's a good place for him and for
all of his same kind."
If Hugh had had any lingering doubts as to whether or not Karl was loyal
they were now dissipated. If Mr. Wernberg was implicated in German plots
against the United States, certainly no man who sympathized with him
would hate him as Karl Hoffmann plainly did.
"We may come down and help you guard the factory to-night, Karl," said
Bob. "You'll be there, won't you?"
"Yes, I'll be there," said Karl. "I wish you wouldn't come though."
"Suppose something should happen and you got hurt?"
"I thought you said there was no danger."
"I don't think there is, but I know your father doesn't agree with me,
and if something should happen to you, just think how badly he'd feel."
"We want to help though," insisted Bob.
"Let the men who are paid for it do the guarding."
"But it's my father's plant," said Bob. "You don't think I want anything
to happen to it if I can help it, do you?"
"If he wants you to come, all right," said Karl. "Still you take my
advice and stay home."
He said good-by to the boys and went off toward his house. He had to be
at the factory early and wanted his supper before he went on duty.
"Well, Hugh?" demanded Bob after Karl had gone. "What do you think of
"Oh, he's all right," said Hugh.
"Do you think he would be disloyal?"
"No, I guess any man who hates Mr. Wernberg as much as he does can't be
pro-German. Still he was funny about not wanting us at the factory
"I know why that was," exclaimed Bob. "He thinks we're just a couple of
kids and would only be in everybody's way."
"I guess so," Hugh agreed. "He seemed like a nice fellow all right."
"He is, but Heinie doesn't think so. Let's go ask him about Karl now, and
I'll guarantee you'll see some fun. Heinie gets mad the minute you
mention his name."
"He's jealous of him, isn't he?"
"He surely is. Lena likes Karl better than she does him, I think, and I
guess Heinie knows it. That's why he doesn't like Karl."
"Still I don't blame Lena," observed Hugh. "Karl is certainly
They found Heinrich seated on a chair in the garage busily counting over
a large pile of bills. When the boys appeared he showed the same
embarrassment he had when Bob had surprised him at the same work before.
"The rich man again," laughed Bob, but Heinrich said nothing.
"Any trace of Percy?" Bob inquired.
"No," said Heinrich sorrowfully. "I guess he iss gone."
"We've just been talking to Karl Hoffmann," said Bob. "You don't suppose
he could have stolen him, do you?"
Immediately Heinrich's manner changed. He rose to his feet angrily, while
Bob nudged Hugh. Heinrich became pale with rage.
"That scoundrel!" he stammered. "I would not be surprised if he would
steal poor Percy. He iss mean and low enough to do anything."
"Why, Heinie," said Bob mildly. "I always thought Karl was a fine
"He iss a low down snake!" cried Heinrich. "I would not trust that fellow
mit two cents."
"Lena likes him," said Bob.
Heinrich became madder than before at this remark. He stuttered with
rage, and advancing toward Bob shook his clenched fist in his face. "Sure
she like him," he cried. "Why not? He gives her presents all the time and
it iss for that that she like him. She knows what a low down cur he iss,
for I have told her so. Only because he has money and can give her
presents does she like him. But I will show her!"
"What are you going to do?" demanded Bob, somewhat alarmed by the
violence of Heinrich's manner.
"I buy her presents now," exclaimed Heinrich. "You see that?" he
demanded, pulling the roll of bills out of his pocket. "You see that?" he
repeated. "Well, I got some money now, and I show her who can buy nice
presents. She like me better than Hoffmann when I get more money than
he." Heinrich looked at the bills held in his fist, and then jammed them
back fiercely into his pocket.
"Where'd you get all the money?" asked Bob. "You didn't draw it out of
the savings bank, did you?"
"No," exclaimed Heinrich. "I earn it."
"Working for father?"
"No, for Mr. Wernberg."
"What!" exclaimed Bob, completely taken by surprise. He and Hugh looked
at each other in astonishment. This was a new turn of events.
"Yes," said Heinrich. "I do some work for Mr. Wernberg; he iss a
fine man too."
"What was the work?" inquired Bob. He remembered that Hugh had advised
him to watch their chauffeur. He never imagined, however, that even if
Heinrich was guilty he would be so bold as to confess brazenly that he
was employed by a man to plot against the United States. Still, he had
always suspected that poor Heinrich was not quite right in his head.
"I cannot say," said Heinrich. "The work iss secret."
"Why, Heinie," exclaimed Bob. "I never thought you would do a thing
"Why not?" demanded Heinrich. "I do my work here, don't I? Why should I
not make a little extra money if I can?"
"But Mr. Wernberg is a bad man."
"He iss not," Heinrich protested stoutly. "He iss one man who knows right
Bob shook his head sorrowfully. It hurt him to discover that their
chauffeur, a man he had grown up with and liked, was working hand in
glove with Mr. Wernberg. He never would have believed it possible had he
not heard it with his own ears from Heinrich himself. It was a great
shock to him and he knew how badly his father and mother would feel. Of
course he must tell his father.
"Come on, Hugh, let's go," exclaimed Bob. Heinrich had turned away from
them and walked off angrily. The combination of Lena and Karl and Mr.
Wernberg, had been too much for him to stand apparently. He was mad
"Well," said Bob, when they were outside, "I never would have
"I told you to watch them all," Hugh reminded him.
"I know you did, and I guess you were right. Why poor old Heinie should
be such a fool is more than I can understand."
"Are you going to tell your father?"
"I suppose I must."
"Will he tell the police?"
"I don't know. I should think perhaps he'd have to, though."
"It's too bad," murmured Hugh. He knew how fond his friend was of
"At any rate Karl is all right I guess," said Bob.
"I'll agree with you there," said Hugh. "How about Lena?"
"Don't ask me. I feel as if I couldn't think."
Mr. Cook met them on the front porch and was at once impressed by the
expression on the faces of the two boys.
"What's wrong?" he demanded.
"We've just had an awful shock," said Hugh.
"What is it? Tell me, Bob," his father urged.
"Heinrich is one of Mr. Wernberg's gang."
"Say that again," exclaimed Mr. Cook incredulously.
"Heinrich is working with Mr. Wernberg. You ought to see the pile of
money he has been paid already."
"Why, Bob," exclaimed Mr. Cook amazedly. "I think you must be mistaken."
"He just told us himself," said Bob. "He said Mr. Wernberg was a fine man
and one of the few who knew right from wrong."
"How did he happen to tell you all this?"
Bob related the circumstances to his father. When he had finished Mr.
Cook remained silent for several minutes.
"I am so sorry," he said finally. "I don't see why Heinrich told you."
"He was mad," said Bob, "and jealous."
"A dangerous man to hire for that kind of work I should think,"
exclaimed Mr. Cook. "If he would say as much as he did to you this
afternoon I don't see what there is to prevent him from telling all
"You mean he might give the whole thing away?"
"Still," said Bob, "Heinie can be awfully stubborn sometimes."
"I know it. We'd have to be clever to get a full confession from him
"I don't see what use he could be to Mr. Wernberg," said Hugh.
"It's a favorite method of these German plotters, Hugh," said Mr. Cook.
"Very often they get some simple-minded, ignorant fellow like Heinrich
and make a tool of him. Heinrich hasn't got brains enough to think of
"Are you going to turn him over to the police?" inquired Bob.
"I was just thinking of that," said Mr. Cook. "I certainly would hate
to do it."
"But he may do some damage."
"I know it and I think I know what I'll do. To-night I expect to be at
the factory practically all night; I'll keep Heinrich with me on one
pretext or another. He'll be right with me all the time so that he won't
be able to do any harm and besides I can watch his actions. I am still
hoping that he may prove to be loyal."
"I'm afraid he won't," said Bob.
"I'm afraid not too," agreed his father. "Still I won't let him out of
my sight and when morning comes we can decide what ought to be done
"If it isn't too late."
"Let's hope not," exclaimed Mr. Cook earnestly.
"Hugh and I would like to help guard the factory to-night," said Bob.
"I think we have plenty of guards," said Mr. Cook. "You'd better stay
home and go to bed; you've had a busy time of it the last two days."
"I know it, but we want to help," explained Bob. "Somehow I have a
feeling that something is going to happen down there to-night."
"Suppose it does, and you get hurt. What would your mother say?"
"That's what Karl Hoffmann said," exclaimed Hugh.
"Karl is usually right too," said Mr. Cook. "He takes so much
responsibility about my personal affairs that really I don't know what
I'd do without him."
"He was afraid we'd get hurt," sniffed Bob.
"Karl likes you," said his father. "He doesn't want anything to
happen to you."
"We can take care of ourselves."
"I know that," his father assented. "Do you want to go very much?"
"We certainly do," cried Bob and Hugh in one breath.
"Well," said Mr. Cook, "I'm proud of you for wanting to help, and under
the circumstances I don't see how I can refuse."
"That's great!" cried Bob enthusiastically.
"It won't all be fun by a good deal," his father warned him.
"We know that, but we're ready to do anything that comes along."
The two boys were much excited at the prospect of the guard duty. It
seemed to them that at last they had been recognized as capable of aiding
in the defense of their country. Perhaps if they had known what awaited
them they would not have been quite so enthusiastic.
Hugh was going home for dinner, and was to return shortly afterward to
accompany Bob and his father to the factory. He left the house and Bob
started upstairs to prepare himself for the evening meal. On the landing
of the stairs he heard some one talking over the telephone and stopped to
listen. Of late he had become suspicious of every one and had fallen into
the habit of noticing every little thing that happened.
It was the cook's voice and he was doubly interested at once.
"Yes," he heard her say, "this is Lena."
Bob flattened himself against the wall and listened intently.
"What's that?" Lena demanded over the 'phone. "In the hospital, you say!"
There was a pause while the other person talked to her.
"I will try to be there," said Lena. "I also have a message for you, but
I don't know whether I should say it now or not; those blamed detectives
are on to us."
There ensued another pause while Bob became more and more excited. What
was this plot anyway that turned old and trusted servants against their
masters? Was no one to be relied upon? Who could be trusted?
"Yes, I will tell Heinrich," said Lena speaking again. "Good-by."
She hung up the receiver and Bob continued up the stairs, whistling and
trying to act as if he had heard nothing. He met Lena in the hall and she
eyed him narrowly.
"Hello, Lena," he exclaimed cheerfully. "Fine day, isn't it?"
"Yes, Mr. Bob," she said, and passed on toward the back stairs.
No sooner was she gone than Bob turned and sped down stairs again to the
library. He burst into the room breathlessly, causing his father, who was
reading his evening paper to glance up in surprise.
"Father," exclaimed Bob in a tense whisper, "Lena's in it too."
"What's that?" demanded his father. "Sit down, Bob."
Bob grasped a chair and sat down facing his father. "Lena's in it too,"
"In the plot with Mr. Wernberg."
Mr. Cook laid down his paper. "Tell me what you know," he said soberly.
Bob repeated the part of Lena's telephone conversation that he had heard.
"You see," he exclaimed, "she spoke about the hospital and that must have
meant Mr. Wernberg; then she said the detectives were on to them; finally
she said she'd tell Heinrich and also try to be there to-night."
"You don't know what she is to tell Heinrich and where she is to be
"No, sir," said Bob. "That's all I heard."
"Well," exclaimed Mr. Cook after a moment's pause. "This is a nice state
"What are you going to do about it?" asked Bob. "Are you still going to
wait until to-morrow before you report Heinie to the police?"
Mr. Cook passed his hand across his brow as if to wipe away the doubts
that assailed him. "Heinrich and Lena both," he muttered. "What a pity."
"I tell you what I'll do," he exclaimed finally. "I'll take Heinrich
along with me to-night just as I planned, and I'll tell your mother under
no conditions to let Lena go out this evening. In the morning we may know
better what to do."
"I have a better scheme than that," said Bob eagerly.
"Tell me what it is."
"Take Heinrich along with you and watch him all the time; that part is
all right. But let Lena go out if she wants to."
"What's the point of that?" demanded his father. "For all we know Lena
may he able to do more harm than Heinrich; certainly she's smarter."
"Let her go out," said Bob, "and I'll go with her."
"I don't see what you mean."
"I'll follow her."
"You'd have to be disguised."
"I know it; I'll attend to that though."
"It might lead you to some very dangerous spot," said Mr. Cook. "I hate
to have you do it."
"Look here, father," exclaimed Bob earnestly. "We're at war with Germany,
aren't we? Well, just think of all those millions of men over in Europe
on the battlefields; all the English and French, and Italians, and
Belgians, and Russians, and all the others. If the United States is in
the war we ought to be willing to do our part. Our allies in Europe are
fighting for us as much as for themselves, and it seems to me that to
disguise myself and follow the cook is a small thing for me to contribute
to the common cause."
"I guess you're right, Bob," said his father.
"Why look here," continued Bob. "Just think of the way those men over
there are every one of them risking their lives a hundred times a day. We
just can't sit still and let them do all our fighting for us. We can give
them money and food and I think we ought to expect to give our lives too
if it is necessary. I know I don't want to hide behind somebody else and
let him fight for me."
"You're all right, my boy," exclaimed Mr. Cook, rising to his feet. He
grasped his son affectionately by the arm, and there were tears in his
eyes as he did so. "You're all right," he repeated, "and I'm proud of
you. You've got the spirit that every true American should have, and
which I believe they do have. When Germany finds herself facing a million
American troops and sees the Stars and Stripes floating from the opposing
trenches she'll know she's beaten. I hope we'll show them that we mean
business and the sooner we do, the quicker the war will be over."
"What kind of a disguise can I wear?" asked Bob.
"I guess you won't need a very elaborate one. Isn't there a false-face in
the house with whiskers or a mustache on it!"
"I think there is one I used last hallowe'en."
"Get that then," said his father. "We can rip off the whiskers and glue
them on your face. Put on an old suit of clothes and a sweater; wear a
slouch hat and take along that hickory cane that I have. That ought to
fix you up all right."
"I guess it will," exclaimed Bob, much excited at the prospect. "I'll go
upstairs and look for the false-face now."
"Don't put it on until after dinner."
"I won't," said Bob as he hurried up to the attic in search of the
disguise he was to wear. In a cupboard on the top floor he found the
false-face and quickly tore the whiskers and mustache from it. He brought
the handful of hair down to his room and hid it in his closet. He
selected the oldest suit he owned and placed it on a chair with an old
slouch hat he used to wear when he went fishing.
The announcement that dinner was ready put an end to any further
preparations for the time being. The meal was a quiet one and there was
but little conversation. Mrs. Cook's thoughts were of Harold and she was
greatly worried about him; particularly as she did not know where his
regiment had been sent. Mr. Cook, although he too was concerned about his
elder son, was occupied principally with anxiety as to the plots that
seemed to be brewing all about him, and the possible damage to his
factory. Bob, needless to say, was highly excited over the prospects of
adventure that the evening held forth for him.
Finally dinner was over. Mr. Cook dispatched Bob to the garage with a
message to Heinrich to have the car ready in half an hour. As Bob ran
across the lawn he met Lena returning from the garage. "Aha," he thought
as he greeted her, "you saw Heinrich all right, didn't you?" He was fully
convinced now that their cook and chauffeur were agents of Mr. Wernberg,
and partners in crime. A moment later he reached the garage.
"Father wants you to bring the car around in half an hour," he announced
to Heinrich, who was engaged in putting on a clean collar and necktie.
"What!" exclaimed Heinrich angrily. Bob had never before seen their
chauffeur question any order that his father had given. "I can't."
"Those are his orders," said Bob, eyeing Heinrich closely.
"Does he want me to drive him out?"
"But I can't," cried Heinrich. "I can't, I tell you; I have an
"I guess you'll have to break it then," was Bob's retort.
Heinrich wrung his hands in desperation. "What shall I do?" he moaned.
"What shall I do?"
"Can't you change your appointment?"
"I do not think so," wailed Heinrich. "This iss terrible. Do you think
your father would change his mind if I should speak to him?"
"I'm sure he wouldn't," said Bob. "I know he wants the car and he wants
you to drive it. I heard him say that positively."
"This iss terrible," repeated Heinrich. "What will they do mitout me?"
"It's too bad," said Bob, more convinced every moment that mischief was
afoot that evening. "I don't know what you can do about it though."
"Of course I have to go mit your father," said Heinrich finally, heaving
a great sigh. "I wonder if he will want the car for long."
"I think he will."
"Very well," said Heinrich, becoming resigned to his fate, "I will be
there but only because I do not wish to lose my job. But I fear something
"That's just what we want to prevent," thought Bob grimly. "All right
then, Heinie," he said aloud. "Father will expect you in half an hour."
He hurried back to the house, warned his father that he should keep
Heinrich always within sight, and related his conversation with the
chauffeur as an argument for this course. Then he went upstairs, two
steps at a time to make ready his disguise. While he was there Hugh
arrived and went up to Bob's room.
"What are you doing, Bob?" he demanded.
"Putting on a disguise."
Bob told him.
"I want to go with you," exclaimed Hugh eagerly. "Two would be better
than one anyway."
"Where are you going to get a disguise?"
"I'll borrow part of yours. You can certainly spare enough of those
whiskers to make me a mustache anyway."
"You ought to have another hat."
"You can lend me an old cap, can't you? I've got on the oldest
suit I own."
Bob brought out the glue pot and with Hugh's assistance was soon adorned
with a set of black whiskers and a mustache. His hair did not match at
all, but as he expected to wear a hat pulled far down over his eyes that
fact did not make much difference. He put on the hat, and wearing his old
clothes and a sweater looked at himself in the mirror.
"Whew," he exclaimed, "I'm certainly a hard looking character."
"You certainly are," agreed Hugh, "and you look about forty years old."
"All the better," said Bob. "Now let's get you fixed up."
With what was left of Bob's whiskers a small black mustache was twisted
into shape and glued to Hugh's upper lip. It was remarkable to see what a
great change in his appearance it made.
"When we take these things off, all the skin on our faces will come too,"
said Hugh inspecting himself in the mirror.
"Don't you care," exclaimed Bob. "What we're interested in at present is
to have them stay on to-night. How about a hat for you now?" He rummaged
around on the closet shelf and produced an old cap and a derby.
"Put the derby on, Hugh," he urged. "You'll look just like Charlie
"That wouldn't do, I'm afraid," laughed Hugh. "I'd have too big a crowd
"Turn up the ends of your mustache and you'll look like the kaiser."
"Not for me!" exclaimed Hugh hastily. "I don't want to look like
anything German. I'll wear the cap, I guess. I think that's better than
At that moment Mr. Cook appeared upon the scene. He stood and looked at
the two boys approvingly. "Well," he said, "you certainly look like a
couple of tough customers all right. I'm glad you're going along, Hugh; I
think two will be better than one."
"Is Lena still here?" asked Bob.
"Still here," said his father. "She's getting ready to leave though and
you two had better be prepared."
"He's due in about five minutes."
"You'd better watch him, father," warned Bob.
"Don't worry about that," said Mr. Cook soberly. "I suppose that you two
'things' will come to the factory later. I expect to be there all night."
"We'll try to get there," said Bob. "We'll keep track of Lena as long as
we can, and if it's possible we'll report to you at the office."
"Good," exclaimed Mr. Cook. "Don't forget to be very careful, and don't
get into trouble if you can help it."
"We'll do our best," Bob promised.
ON THE STREET
As Mr. Cook left the room the two boys heard the automobile come up the
driveway and stop in front of the house. Mrs. Cook and Louise were to
spend the evening with an aunt of Bob's a short distance down the street,
and Mr. Cook was to take them there in the car. Bob and Hugh waited until
they should all leave for they did not want to be seen by any one in
Presently they heard the car start off and they knew the coast was clear.
Silently they slipped down stairs and out the front door. By the side of
the house they paused for a consultation.
"These whiskers itch awfully," exclaimed Bob.
"So does this mustache," said Hugh. "I guess we'll have to endure
"Where shall we wait?"
"Won't Lena come out the back door?"
"I guess so. At any rate she'll have to come around and go down the front
walk, there's no other way for her to get out of the yard."
"Let's cross the street and wait there then."
They followed that plan and presently were standing side by side in the
shadow of a tree on the opposite side of the street. Lena could be
expected to appear at any minute and they kept a sharp lookout for her.
"What do you suppose is ahead of us to-night?" asked Hugh in a low tone.
"I wish I knew."
"I hope we aren't going off on a wild goose chase."
"You've been saying right along that we ought to watch Lena," Bob
reminded his friend.
"I know that and I think it's a good plan. All I say is that she may fool
us in some way if we're not careful."
"How do you suppose Mr. Wernberg's getting along in the hospital?"
"I don't know," said Hugh. "I must say though that I'm more
interested in Lena."
"I'd like to see our old friend, the false detective."
"So would I. What do you suppose he is--"
"Ssh," hissed Bob suddenly.
Around the corner of the Cooks' house came a woman. She walked briskly
and a moment later had reached the street. She gazed apprehensively up
and down while the two boys shrank farther back into the shadow; then she
started off in the direction of the city's business district.
"That's Lena," whispered Bob. "Come on."
On the opposite side of the street and perhaps a hundred paces in back of
the hurrying woman the two boys followed.
"We'll have to keep closer than this when she gets down town,"
"I know it," agreed Bob. "She'd get suspicious now though."
Now and again Lena stopped and glanced behind her. Every time she did so
the boys stopped too; evidently she was afraid of being followed. They
met few people and those who did pass them apparently took them for a
couple of tramps, for they paid no particular attention to them.
A little distance down the street Lena turned the corner to her right.
The two boys as a consequence had to run in order not to lose sight of
her. They were fearful lest she should slip away from them and therefore
were greatly relieved when they came to the turn and saw her still in
front of them.
A few moments later she turned again, and then presently, turned still a
"She's trying to lose us," whispered Bob.
"Maybe not," said Hugh. "This is Elm Street."
"Where's twelve eighty-two!"
"On the next block."
The white stucco house was on the same side of the street with the boys,
and as Lena came opposite it she crossed over. Bob and Hugh stopped short
under a large maple tree whose trunk cast a shadow affording ample
protection from a nearby arclight. From this vantage point they watched
the woman they were trailing.
"She's going in," whispered Bob, clutching Hugh's arm excitedly.
Lena turned in from the side walk and started toward the steps of the
white stucco house, number twelve eighty-two. Half-way up she paused
irresolutely. She acted as if she was puzzled as to what she should do;
finally she turned, descended the steps rapidly and continued on down
"That was queer," whispered Bob.
"It looked as though she lost her nerve."
"Why should she be scared to go in where her gang is!"
"Don't ask me. Come on."
Once again they took up the chase. Lena seemed to walk more swiftly than
ever now, and it was not an easy task to keep pace with her and still not
be seen. The night was dark with low-hanging clouds, the street lamps
affording the only light available. Ahead they could see the reflection
from the lights of the main street of the city.
"Do you suppose she dropped a note or anything on that porch back there?"
demanded Hugh suddenly.
"I didn't see her do anything like that," said Bob.
"Nor I. At any rate I guess the best thing we can do is to stick
close to her."
"Yes, and we'd better keep closer too, now that we are coming to where
the stores are. We'll lose track of her if we don't."
"Do you suppose any one will notice that we're disguised?"
"I hope not. There's usually a big crowd on the streets Saturday
"We'll hope for luck," said Hugh earnestly.
They quickened their paces until they were scarcely more than
seventy-five feet in back of Lena. There were many people passing them in
both directions now, and apparently Lena was not as suspicious as she had
been; she glanced behind her no more.
Presently they turned into the main street. The sidewalks were thronged
with people and everything was lighted up brilliantly in the glare of
arclights and shop windows. Lena was just ahead of the boys and it was
not an easy task to follow her in the crowd.
Music sounded down the street. A troop of cavalry was approaching and
every one lined the curb to see them pass. Lena stopped and the boys
took their places directly behind her. Every trooper was mounted on a
coal black horse, and they made a fine showing as they drew near; the
crowd began to cheer and many waved small American flags that they were
carrying. Women waved their handkerchiefs as the horsemen passed, and
much to both Bob's and Hugh's surprise Lena waved her handkerchief and
clapped her hands with the others.
"What do you think of that?" whispered Bob.
"Bluff," said Hugh. "She's clever."
The crowd began to break up and presently was moving up and down the
street again. Lena started on her way once more, and almost at her heels
followed Bob and Hugh. They were beginning to wonder whether they were
following a false clue. It might be that Lena had dropped a message on
the porch of the house on Elm Street, and if so her work was probably
done and there could be no object in following her farther.
Suddenly Hugh seized Bob by the arm. "Look at this man coming," he
Not thirty feet distant and walking directly toward them was the false
detective. There could be no mistaking him. Bob and Hugh, forgetting for
the moment that they were disguised were fearful lest he should recognize
them as well. A moment later, however, an interesting event happened
right before their eyes, and they forgot all else.
As the "detective," the man with whom they had fought that morning, the
man who had blown up the deserted house, and whom they suspected of
having tried to blow up the railroad bridge in the afternoon, passed Lena
he held a slip of paper in his left hand. As she went by she took it with
her left hand, though as far as the boys could see the two conspirators
had not even looked at each other.
Lena continued on down the street as if nothing had happened, while the
detective also kept on as though unconscious of having seen Lena at all.
He passed the two boys without even a glance.
Bob and Hugh stopped short.
"What do you think of that?" demanded Hugh. "What'll we do?"
"Follow them," said Bob quickly. "You follow him and I'll trail Lena."
Without another word the two boys separated.
BOB ACTS QUICKLY
Bob had almost lost sight of Lena through this temporary delay and he
hurried ahead through the crowd, bumping into several people, and drawing
black looks from many for his rudeness. He was in a hurry, however. He
had to catch up with Lena, and there was no time to be polite.
Lena too was hurrying. She threaded her way in and out among the throngs
of people, and Bob was hard put to it to keep pace with her. As he rushed
along he became more and more puzzled and confused as to what was taking
place. There was no doubt in his mind that Lena and Heinrich were working
in the interests of Mr. Wernberg and therefore were to be watched
closely. Apparently Lena was in league with the fake detective too, else
why should he stealthily slip a communication into her hand?
But the detective had blown up the house when Mr. Wernberg was within it
and had nearly caused his death. If they were all working together how
was that fact to be reconciled with what had befallen him? Probably Mr.
Wernberg had been injured accidentally as Sergeant Riley had explained.
At all events Lena was hurrying along through the crowd and Bob's task
was to follow her. His father was watching Heinrich and it would never do
for Bob to let his quarry escape him.
Lena followed the main street for several squares. The crowd was still
thick, but Bob kept his eyes on her. Presently she turned down a side
street, where it was easier to follow her and Bob heaved a sigh of
relief. He was sure he could keep track of her now, and his mind was
easier. They passed fewer people all the time, and now the only
illuminations were the street lamps and an occasional arclight.
Bob dropped further behind. His one wish was to avert suspicion on Lena's
part, and the sight of a tough-looking man with heavy black whiskers, old
clothes, and a dilapidated slouch hat dogging her footsteps might well
have made her uneasy.
Every hundred feet or so Lena cast a quick glance over her shoulder. Bob
did not walk on the stone pavement, but skulked along in the shadow of
the hedges and fences except when a passerby came along. Consequently
whenever Lena looked behind her he stood still. It was exciting work.
A half-mile or so down the street Lena stopped. She stood under one of
the street lamps, and after a sharp glance in all directions, stealthily
drew a piece of paper out of the bag she carried. She was plainly
nervous, and Bob watched her intently. She was about to read the note
that the fake detective had handed to her.
It took Bob only a second to make up his mind. The occasion called for
quick action and he acted quickly. Running swiftly and silently on the
moist earth, he stole up behind Lena. She was standing still, deeply
engrossed in what she read on the paper she held in her hand.
Consequently she was unaware of Bob bearing down upon her.
When he was about ten feet behind her, Bob suddenly dashed forward, even
more swiftly than before, and before the startled cook knew what was
happening he had snatched the paper from her hand and was speeding away
with it. He ran only for a few steps, however. An exposed root from one
of the big maple trees that lined the sidewalk caught his foot; he
tripped, was thrown violently forward, and fell sprawling on his face. He
did not relax his hold on the paper, however. It was crumpled, but he
held it tightly clenched in his hand.
The fall jarred him considerably. The knee of his trousers was torn and
his hand scraped. His hat fell off, and as he slid along the ground on
his face, half of his false whiskers were ripped off. He picked himself
up as quickly as he could, however, and turned around to see what Lena
She was nowhere to be seen.
UNDER THE LIGHT
Hugh turned quickly and followed the fake detective through the crowd.
The man sauntered along as if he was in no hurry whatsoever, so that Hugh
too had to walk very slowly. The man stopped and looked in at the windows
of many of the stores, and close behind him every time stood Hugh; he was
at a loss to account for this behavior on the part of the man he was
following, as his dilatory tactics were in sharp contrast to the way in
which Lena had hurried.
Every few moments the fake detective took out his watch and looked at the
time. Hugh decided he must have an engagement for later on in the
evening, and that until then there was nothing for him to do.
As nine o'clock struck on the City Hall clock the man whom Hugh had been
following stepped into a drug store. There was a row of telephone booths
along one side of the store and the man entered one of these and shut the
door. Hugh could see him through the glass, as he took down the receiver
and gave the number to central.
Hugh loitered around the store, looking at the various articles offered
for sale under the numerous glass cases, while at the same time he kept
a careful watch on the telephone booth. The man talked for what seemed
a long time and finally Hugh was afraid to remain in the store any
longer lest he should arouse suspicion. He went out and took his stand
near the front entrance, in a spot where he could see every one who
came in or went out.
There were large posters in the store window urging men to enlist in the
army and the navy. Pictures of trim looking soldiers and sailors were on
the posters and the cards bore urgent calls for recruits. "Your country
needs you _now_," ran the legend and Hugh sighed to think that he was not
yet old enough to answer the call. His ancestors had been Americans for
many generations, they had fought and bled in every war the country had
declared, and Hugh wanted to live up to the traditions they had
established. He realized too that his country did need men, perhaps as
never before. He knew that in order to defeat Germany every ounce of
strength the country possessed would have to be thrown into the struggle.
As his father said, "Germany is beaten, but they don't know it yet, and
it may take years of stubborn fighting to teach them."
Hugh's thoughts were interrupted presently by the reappearance of the
fake detective; he came out of the drug store and turning to the right
walked off down the street. He hurried now, so that Hugh had trouble in
keeping pace with him. The man walked swiftly as if he had some definite
objective in view, and Hugh realized that probably the crisis of the
whole affair was not far distant.
Suddenly Hugh spied a rough-looking individual approaching them from the
opposite direction; his clothes were dirty and the knee of one of his
trousers legs torn. He recognized Bob at once.
The fake detective eyed Bob as he passed, but probably took him for some
tramp passing through town; certainly he looked the part. Every one in
the crowd edged away from him as he drew near, and Hugh could not help
wondering if he looked as tough as his friend.
Bob recognized Hugh as he came along without a word of greeting, turned
about and walked along beside him. He had seen the fake detective on
ahead and though there was no chance for explanations, he knew that Hugh
was still on the trail.
In a few moments they came to the City Hall. The detective looked up at
the clock on the tower, compared the time with his watch and then took
his stand under one of the electric lights on the street in front.
"He has a date here," whispered Hugh. "We'll have to cross the street."
They crossed over and under the pretense of looking at the billboards in
front of the moving picture theater kept watch on their man.
"Where've you been?" demanded Bob.
"Just following that man around," said Hugh. "What happened to you?" and
he looked at his friend's torn and dirty clothes.
Bob related the story of his experiences. He had searched vainly for any
trace of Lena and failing to find her had resolved to take one turn along
the main street and then go down to the factory. He had met Hugh as has
"But the paper Lena had," exclaimed Hugh. "You got it you say?"
"I certainly did."
"What did it say?"
"Read it," said Bob, handing the crumpled sheet over to his companion.
Hugh started to unfold it, but before he could do so, Bob grasped him by
the arm and pointed across the street. "Look," he exclaimed.
A woman had joined the fake detective under the light, and the two were
"It's Lena!" said Hugh excitedly.
"But where did she come from?"
"I don't know, but there she is all right."
"He's mad about something," said Bob. "Probably because she lost that
piece of paper."
"That'll prove to him they're being watched."
"I wonder if they suspect us."
"Let's hope not, yet," said Hugh earnestly. "There they go," he added a
moment later, as Lena and the fake detective started down the street.
They still were talking excitedly together and it was hard to tell from
their manner whether the man was threatening Lena or pleading with her.
"Another chase, I suppose," sighed Bob. "I'm getting tired."
"Not a chase on foot anyway," said Hugh, for just then the fake detective
hailed a passing cab; he and Lena stepped into it and a moment later were
being driven rapidly away.
AT THE FACTORY
"Well," exclaimed Bob in dismay, "I guess they got rid of us that time."
"Why have they?" demanded Hugh. "Why can't we hire a cab and
"Have you got any money?"
"Not a cent."
"Neither have I. I guess we're left."
"Aren't we fools?" cried Hugh angrily. "How could any one be so stupid?"
"There's no use in crying over spilt milk," said Bob. "The thing for us
to do is to decide what we ought to do next."
"Let's go down to the factory; I don't see what else we can do."
"All right," said Bob disconsolately. "I do hate to have to go and tell
father that we've been tricked and beaten though."
"He can at least get the police to come down and help guard his factory,"
said Hugh. "Probably no harm will come to it if they do that."
"But how do you know his factory is to be attacked? It may be they are
planning other damage to-night. We might have had a chance to stop it if
we'd followed those two, and now they've got away from us."
"Your father ought to have reported Lena and Heinrich to the
"He said he'd keep watch of Heinie, and no doubt he has. He expected we'd
do as well for Lena. We'd better go down and see him about it."
"Let me read this paper first," said Hugh. He once again started to
unfold the crumpled sheet that Bob had stolen from Lena.
"You can't read it."
"Try and see."
Hugh unfolded the paper and gave it one look. "Why it's written in
German," he exclaimed in surprise.
"I know it is; that's why I said you couldn't read it."
"We must get it translated."
"Let's take it down to the factory. We can get Karl Hoffmann to tell us
what it says."
Without further ado they set out. They walked swiftly and exchanged but
few words, for they were both occupied with their own thoughts; a feeling
that something was hanging over their heads oppressed the two boys. The
country was at war and plotters and spies were abroad in the land. The
events of the last two days had convinced them that High Ridge had its
share of mischief makers, and they felt sure that that very night a blow
would be struck.
A walk of twenty minutes brought them to the factory. The low, brick
buildings loomed ghostly in the darkness, with only here and there an
electric light burning inside as protection against thieves. The small
brick office was situated in front of the other buildings and here a
light was shining brightly.
A guard challenged them. Bob recognized the man as one of his father's
employees, and soon convinced him that he and Hugh were all right. They
passed on and a moment later were in Mr. Cook's office. Mr. Cook was
seated at his desk and in a chair opposite him Sergeant Riley was
"Well," exclaimed the sergeant as the boys entered, "if ever I saw two
hard looking bums you two are it. 'Tis a wonder one of my men didn't
run yez in."
"We were sort of afraid of that," laughed Bob. "No one bothered us
"Where's Heinrich?" inquired Hugh.
"In the next room," said Mr. Cook. "Where's Lena?"
"We lost her."
"What do you mean?"
Bob told his father what they had done.
"It looks serious," said Mr. Cook thoughtfully. "Sergeant Riley has just
come from the hospital and he brought me news of Mr. Wernberg."
"How is he?"
"He's better; he talked a little this evening."
"Did he?" cried Bob eagerly. "What did he say?"
"He didn't talk connectedly," said Mr. Cook. "He was only conscious for a
few minutes, and wasn't well enough to hold a real conversation."
"But he must have said something."
"He did. He mumbled about bombs, and plans. He talked a lot about a
factory, and kept saying, 'hurry,' over and over again."
"Didn't any one ask him what he meant?"
"I asked him myself," exclaimed Sergeant Riley, "but he was not well
enough to answer me or understand what I was saying."
"Do you think he referred to this factory?" inquired Hugh.
"The sergeant thinks so," said Mr. Cook. "There are only two others in
High Ridge that they would try to destroy probably, so you see the chance
is one in three that he was speaking of this one."
"I can't imagine a man plotting such things," said Bob bitterly. "He
thinks he's helping Germany I suppose."
"Huh," snorted Bob. "A nice kind of man that will earn his living in a
country and then try to blow it up. Is he going to get well?"
"The doctors say he has an even chance," said Sergeant Riley.
"Well, all I hope is," said Bob, "that when he does get well they take
him and put him in jail for about fifteen years. Have you got plenty of
"I think so," said Mr. Cook. "I've got all I can get anyway."
"Hugh and I are ready to help you know."
"I know it, and I may use you later to-night; we will need them more
then probably. In the meantime why don't you go and lie down for a
"We've got a paper here to be translated first," said Bob.
"Give it to me," exclaimed Mr. Cook. "I'll call Heinrich in."
In response to his summons Heinrich soon appeared from the next room. He
looked pale and haggard as though he was tired and worn and worried. He
glanced from one to another of the people gathered around the desk, but
even his old pals, Bob and Hugh, gave him no more than a fleeting smile.
"We have a letter or something here written in German, Heinrich," said
Mr. Cook. "I'd like to have you translate it for us, please."
Heinrich took the paper that was held out to him. Every one watched him
narrowly as he looked at it, and were amazed to see him suddenly turn
deadly white. His hand shook violently and he had to lean against the
desk to keep from falling. He gazed at Mr. Cook pleadingly, a hunted look
in his eyes.
"What does it say?" asked his employer.
Heinrich gasped and almost choked once or twice. He swallowed hard and
finally found his voice again. "I don't know," he replied.
"You mean you can't read the German?"
That seemed to be as good an excuse as any, so Heinrich seized upon it
eagerly. "Yes," he stammered. "That iss it."
"I don't believe you," said Mr. Cook calmly.
"Please, Mr. Cook," begged Heinrich. "Don't ask me to read it."
"But I want to know what it says."
"I can't read it."
"You don't mean that," said Mr. Cook. "You certainly can read it."
"I can't read it," Heinrich repeated. It was plain to be seen that he was
suffering great mental agony; he glanced about him fearfully as if he
expected to be attacked suddenly. He looked at the paper again and an
involuntary groan escaped him. He appealed to Mr. Cook.
"Please let me go home," he pleaded.
"You won't even leave this room until you've read what that says,"
exclaimed Mr. Cook, becoming angry and irritated at Heinrich's refusal to
do as he said. Bob had seen their chauffeur stubborn before, however, and
he knew that if he made up his mind to a thing he was as obstinate as
only a German can be.
Heinrich merely looked at Mr. Cook sorrowfully.
"I'm a policeman you know," said Sergeant Riley sharply.
Heinrich ignored the implied threat completely.
"Come on, Heinie," urged Bob cajolingly. "Don't be foolish."
"I can't read it," said Heinrich again.
"You know," said Mr. Cook, "we're suspicious of some things you have done
already, Heinrich. Don't make it worse if you can help it."
"I can't read it," said Heinrich.
Bob knew the chauffeur well enough to know that there was no use in
arguing with him further; it would only be a waste of breath and time.
"I don't want to turn you over to the police, Heinrich," said Mr. Cook.
"That is what I shall do, however, unless you do as I ask."
Heinrich turned paler than ever at this, but the words had no
other effect on him. "I can't help it," he muttered doggedly. "I
can't read it."
"Let me see the paper," said Sergeant Riley. Heinrich handed it over.
"What's the little alligator doing on it?" queried the sergeant
"Heinrich can tell you," said Mr. Cook. "What does it mean, Heinrich?"
The chauffeur made no reply. He looked at the floor dejectedly but
offered no remark. Now and again he glanced about him nervously.
Just at that moment the door of the office was opened and Karl Hoffmann
entered. Heinrich looked at the newcomer, and there was hatred in his
very glance. His fists were clenched tightly so that his knuckles showed
white. He opened his mouth as if about to speak, and apparently with
difficulty checked himself.
Karl Hoffmann took in the scene with one glance and was plainly surprised
by the gathering. At first he did not recognize Bob and Hugh, who still
wore their disguises. Both boys greeted him, however, and laughed at his
surprise when he discovered who they were.
Karl himself looked pale as though he was working under a high tension;
certainly the times were strenuous. He held something in his hand that
apparently he wished to give to Mr. Cook. Before he could speak, however,
Mr. Cook anticipated him.
"Here is a paper, Karl," he said. "It has German written on it and I'd
like to have you translate it for us if you will."
As Karl took the paper Heinrich started forward as if he would protest.
He was pale and his lips were shut tight; his face was the picture of
desperation. He looked as if he had reached the limit of his endurance
and must speak. For a moment Bob thought he was going to spring at Karl.
Heinrich finally got control of himself, however, and relapsed into a
Karl took the paper and looked at it carelessly. Suddenly his jaw
dropped and he started back aghast. He turned almost as pale as
Heinrich had done.
"Where did you get this?" he demanded.
"Tell us what it says," urged Mr. Cook.
"This is certainly remarkable," said Karl, though by this time he had
partly regained control of himself.
"He won't read it, I bet," said Heinrich fiercely.
"Keep quiet, Heinrich!" exclaimed Mr. Cook sharply. "Karl is a good
American; of course he'll read. Won't you, Karl?"
"Certainly I will," said Karl easily. He had entirely recovered his
He had just opened his mouth to speak when he was interrupted by a
volley of shots outside. Instantly everything was in confusion. Every
one made a rush for the door and as it was yanked open a piercing shriek
rent the air.
A STRUGGLE IN THE DARK
The woman's scream was so full of terror, so agonized, and so
blood-curdling that for a moment the mad rush out of the door was halted.
Every one stopped short in horror and amazement.
Sergeant Riley was the first to regain his senses. "Come on!" he shouted
and plunged out into the night. Close at his heels followed the others.
That is, all except Heinrich; he dashed into the room adjoining the
office and remained there unnoticed.
The air was filled with shouts and cries. Men ran hither and thither,
black shapes flitting up and down like shadows.
"Spread out!" shouted Sergeant Riley. "Circle the factory and don't let
any one escape."
Bob and Hugh unconsciously kept close together in spite of the sergeant's
orders. One end of the factory was situated on the shore of the Molton
River, and toward the river bank the two boys made their way.
"What a scream that was," shuddered Hugh.
"Awful," cried Bob, and then he tripped over something lying on the
ground, and pitched forward headlong on his face. A moment later he had
regained his feet.
"What tripped you?" demanded Hugh.
"Look!" said Bob, shivering as he spoke. He pointed to a misshapen heap
of something lying on the ground at his feet. "It was soft, like a body."
"The woman who screamed," cried Hugh in terror.
"Strike a match."
"I haven't got one."
"We must pick her up and carry her into the office."
"But she may be dead."
"Suppose she is," exclaimed Bob. "We've got to do it just the same."
"This is terrible," cried Hugh. "Can't we get some one to do it for us?"
"Every one is busy."
"He's busy, too. Come on, Hugh, we must do it. If she's not dead now she
may die while we stand here and talk about it."
Hugh braced himself for the task. They could distinguish the vague
outlines of the woman's form, as Bob stationed himself at her head and
Hugh grasped her feet.
"All ready," said Bob. "Lift her up."
"Suppose we are attacked while we're carrying her."
"Lift her up, will you?" demanded Bob angrily. "What's the matter with
Bob took hold of her shoulders and Hugh grasped her ankles. She was
heavy and absolutely limp so that it was very difficult to lift her from
the ground. The two boys exerted all their strength, however, and
presently were able to start on their way back to Mr. Cook's office,
panting and straining as they went. The distance was not great,
fortunately, and soon they opened the door of the office and deposited
their burden on the floor.
"Why," gasped Bob, starting back in surprise. "It's Lena."
"What?" demanded Hugh.
"It certainly is. Look at the blood on her shoulder."
"Is she dead?"
"I don't know." He took hold of Lena's wrist and felt for her pulse. "Her
heart is still beating," he announced a moment later.
"Hadn't we better get a doctor?"
"I should say so," exclaimed Bob. "Call up Doctor Clarke and tell him to
come down here just as fast as he can."
Hugh hastened to obey, while Bob secured a towel soaked in water and
began to bathe the wounded woman's face. How had it all happened? Perhaps
one of the factory guards had surprised her at some criminal work and had
shot her as she fled. Bob did not know enough to understand whether she
was badly wounded or not; at any rate she was still bleeding profusely.
Presently Hugh reported that the doctor would be down just as quickly as
he could. He had promised to start at once.
"What shall we do?" inquired Hugh.
"Don't you think we ought to stay here with Lena?"
"I don't see that we can do anything for her, and we may be needed
outside. Where's Heinie? Why don't we leave her with him?"
"Where _is_ Heinie anyway?" exclaimed Bob. He hurried to the door of the
adjoining room, but there was no trace of the missing chauffeur.
"He's gone, I guess," said Hugh. "When every one rushed out in the
excitement he must have slipped away. We'll never see him again."
"How stupid of us," cried Bob. "Every one clean forgot him, I guess."
"His escape doesn't settle what we have to do," said Hugh.
"Let's go out and leave her here, I say. We don't know anything to do for
her. Anyway you told the doctor where to come, didn't you?"
"Come on then," and Bob hurried out, with Hugh following close behind.
In front of the office they stopped for a moment, peering intently all
about them and straining their ears for every sound. Bob remembered the
big hickory stick of his father's and stepped inside again to get it.
"We're taking chances prowling around here unarmed," said Hugh when his
friend had joined him once more.
"I know it, but what can we do?"
"Nothing, I guess. Where do you suppose the others are?"
"Let's go find them."
Again they started in the direction of the river, not in a mad rush this
time, but slowly and carefully picking their way. They skulked along in
the shadow of the factory walls, ready for any emergency that might
arise. They kept close together and if the truth were known both boys
would have been very glad to have had an armed companion with them.
They had covered perhaps a hundred and fifty feet or so, and ahead of
them could just make out the dark bank of the river. Suddenly they saw a
man appear around the corner of the building, running toward them. Bob
and Hugh crouched against the brick wall and waited for him to come
near. All at once Bob recognized the stranger and started forward.
"Karl," he cried.
The man halted.
"Where are you going?" asked Bob. "Where are father and the others?"
"Down by the river," replied Karl and once more broke into a run. A
moment later he was lost to sight in the darkness.