Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

The Apartment Next Door by William Andrew Johnston

Part 4 out of 4

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 0.4 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

"Why not wait until daylight for that?" suggested Carter.

"It is not safe," the chief objected. "To-night is the time to do it. A
plot important enough to have the especial attention of the war office
in Berlin must have many important persons involved in it. Somebody with
money in New York, some influential German sympathizer, must have helped
old Hoff set up these aeroplanes here and equip his shop. Some chemical
plant supplied the material for those bombs. It must have taken hundreds
of thousands of dollars to carry the plan to completion. Men rich enough
and powerful enough to have put through this plot are powerful enough to
be still dangerous. The minute word reaches the city that the plan has
miscarried there will be some one up here posthaste to destroy or remove
any damaging evidence we may have overlooked. Now is the time to do our

"You're right, Chief," Carter admitted. "It would not surprise me if
there is not a wireless plant here. I'll soon find out."

"Let me help," cried Jane.

Her nerves were suffering from a sharp reaction. All through the
excitement of the attack she had remained calm and collected, but now
she felt that if she remained another minute in the same room with the
two bodies, if she stayed near that row of shackled prisoners, if she
should chance to catch Frederic's eye, she either would burst into
hysterical weeping or would collapse entirely. If only there was some
activity in which she could engage it might serve to divert the current
of maddening thoughts that kept overwhelming her. With something to do
she might regain her self-control.

"Please let me help Mr. Carter," she begged.

"Certainly," said Fleck, "go ahead. You have earned the right to do
anything you wish to-night."

Guided by the light of an electric torch Carter and she quickly made
their way to the upper floor. In most of the rooms they found only cheap
cots with blankets, evidently the sleeping quarters of the workmen, but
in one of the rooms was a desk, and from it a ladder led to an
unfinished attic. Boldly climbing the ladder and flashing their torch
about they quickly located a high-powered wireless outfit. It was
mounted on a sliding shelf by which it could be quickly concealed in a
secret cupboard, but evidently the plotters had felt so secure from
intrusion in their retreat that they had been in the habit of leaving
it exposed.

"I thought we'd find it," said Carter exultantly. "It's an ideal
location, up here in the mountains. I'd better smash it at once."

"Wait," warned Jane, thoughtfully, "they spoke of having received a
wireless message from those dreadful X-boats lying there off the coast.
If we could only find their code-book, perhaps--"

"Right," cried Carter, catching her idea at once.

Together they descended to the room below and began ransacking the
desk, Jane holding the light while Carter examined the papers
they found.

"Their system sometimes is bad for them," said Carter. "Here's a ledger
with the names of all the men employed here and the amounts paid to
each. And look," he went on excitedly, "look what the stupid fools have
done with their German methodicalness--here are entries showing all the
supplies they obtained, from whom they got them and what they cost.
There's evidence here for a hundred convictions. We'll just take that
book along."

There was one small drawer in the desk that was locked. Ruthlessly
Carter smashed the woodwork and pried it open. Its only contents was a
small parcel, a folded paper in a parchment envelope. Hastily he drew
forth the paper and studied it intently.

"It's a code," he cried, "a naval code, evidently the very one they used
to communicate with those boats. I'll wager the Washington people even
haven't a copy of it. That's a great find. Come on, we've got enough for
one night."

"Do any of the men in our party understand wireless?" asked Jane as
they descended.

"Sure," said Carter, "Sills does. He used to be the radio man on a

"Couldn't he be left on watch here?" suggested Jane, "and try to signal
those X-boats and keep them waiting until to-morrow night? Maybe by that
time our--"

"I get you," cried Carter; "that's a good idea. Explain it to the

As Jane unfolded her plan, suggesting the possibility of sending
American cruisers out to search for the X-boats after Sills had lured
them by false messages to the surface, Fleck heartily approved of it.

"I'll leave Sills here with one other man to guard the house," he said.
"We'll have to let poor Dean's body remain here for the present, too.
We'll need all the room in the cars for the prisoners."

There was still much to be done. While some of the men were
unceremoniously carrying out the shackled prisoners and piling them in
the cars, others, under Carter's direction, crippled the three
"wonder-workers" and dismantled them, carrying their dangerous cargo of
bombs into the woods and concealing them.

None of the prisoners, since the moment the shackles had been put on,
had uttered a word. Sullen silence held all of them unprotestingly in
its grip. Even Frederic kept his peace, though from time to time his
glance roved about, seeking Jane, and always in his eyes was a strange
look, not of defeat, nor of shame, but rather of exultant triumph. Jane
still dared not trust herself to look in his direction, but Fleck and
Carter, too, observed curiously the expression in his eyes. Was he, they
wondered, rejoicing over Dean's untimely end? Did he, with true Prussian
arrogance, in spite of the failure of his plot, still dare to hope that
with Dean out of the way, he might escape punishment and yet win Jane
Strong? Even as they picked him up, the last of the prisoners, and put
him in the rear seat of the chiefs car, his eyes still sought for Jane.

It was long after midnight before the strange cavalcade left the
mountain shack. Fleck's car led the way, with the chief himself at the
wheel, and Jane beside him. Crowded on the rear seat were Frederic and
two other prisoners, and standing in the tonneau, facing them with his
revolver drawn in case they should make an attempt to escape in spite of
their shackles, was Fleck's chauffeur. Carter was at the wheel of the
second car with five prisoners and a man on guard, and the arrangement
in the third car was the same. Six men and a girl to transport thirteen
prisoners! Inwardly Fleck was congratulating himself on his forethought
in having provided shackles enough to go around, for otherwise he surely
would have had a perilous job on his hands.

As they rode down the mountain lane, Jane rejoiced at the darkness that
hid her face, both from Fleck and from Frederic on the seat behind. Now
that there was no activity to distract her maddening thoughts once more
paced in turmoil through her brain. She loved this man, and she was
leading him to disgrace and death. She hated and despised him. He was a
treacherous, dangerous enemy of her country whom she had helped to trap,
and she was glad, glad, glad. No, no! She wasn't glad. She loved him. He
had given her that sealed packet and had charged her to keep it for
him. He couldn't be all bad. Why must she love him? Her mind told her he
was a criminal, an enemy, a spy, a murderer, yet her wilful heart
insisted that she loved him. How strange life was! She and Frederic
loved each other. Why could they not marry and be happy? Why was War?
Why must nations fight? Why must people hate each other? Was the whole
world mad? Was she going mad herself?

Slowly and carefully, Fleck, with his lights on full, had steered the
automobile down the narrow roadway through the woods. He had just turned
the car safely into the main road, and stopped to look back to see how
closely the other cars were following. Suddenly from the wayside a dozen
men in uniform sprang up, the glint of their guns made visible by the
automobile lights.

"Halt," cried a voice of authority.

The one glimpse he had caught of the uniform had conveyed to Fleck the
welcome fact that the party surrounding him were Americans--cavalry

"Chief Fleck," he announced, by way of identification. "Who are you?"

A tall figure in officer's clothes sprang up on the running board and
peered into Fleck's face.

"Thank God, Chief," he said, "that it's you."

"Colonel Brook-White," cried Fleck in amazement, recognizing the voice
as that of one of the officers in charge of the British Government's
Intelligence Service in America. "What are you doing here?"

"Trying to round up some bally German spies," explained Brook-White.

"I've beaten you to it," cried Fleck, with a note of triumph in his
tone. "I've got them all here in shackles."

"Good," said Brook-White delightedly. "I was fearful I'd be too late.
There was delay in getting a message to me. As soon as I had it, I tried
to reach you and couldn't. I dared not wait but dashed up here in my
car. I knew there were some American troopers camped near here, and I
persuaded the commander to detail some of his men to help me. Did you
really capture the Hoff chap, old Otto?"

"He's better than captured," said Fleck. "He's lying dead back there in
the house."

"Good," cried Brook-White. "He was infernally dangerous according to my
advices--but Captain Seymour--where is he? Wasn't he working with you?"

"Captain Seymour?" cried Fleck in astonishment. "I never heard of him.
Who's Captain Seymour?"

"He's one of my chaps," explained Brook-White. "Wasn't it he who steered
you up here?"

"I should say not," said Fleck emphatically.

"Good Lord," cried the British colonel excitedly. "You don't suppose
those bloody Boches got him at the last--after all he's been through? I
hope he's safe."

"Don't worry, Colonel Brook-White," came the calm voice of Frederic Hoff
from the rear seat. "Chief Fleck has me here safe in shackles with the
other prisoners."

"God," cried Fleck, in astonished perplexity. "Is Frederic Hoff a
Britisher--one of your men?"

"Rather," said Brook-White. "Chief Fleck, may I present Captain Sir
Frederic Seymour, of the Royal Kentish Dragoons."

But Fleck was too busy just then to heed the introduction, or to pay
attention to the muttered "_Donnerwetters_" of indignation that burst
from the lips of his other prisoners.

Jane Strong had fainted dead away against his shoulder.



"But," said Jane, "I can't understand it yet. How did you, a British
officer, happen to be living with old Otto Hoff? How did you ever get
him to trust you with his terrible secrets?"

Captain Seymour chortled gleefully. Now that he was arrayed in proper
British clothes, once more comfortable in the uniform of his regiment
and had his monocle in place and was with Jane again, everything looked
radiantly different. Even his speech no longer retained its
international quality but now was tinctured with London mannerisms.

"Oh, I say," he replied, "that was a ripping joke on the bally

Jane eyed him uncertainly. He seemed almost like a stranger to her in
this unfamiliar guise, though for hours she had been eagerly looking
forward to his coming.

The exciting developments of the night before still were to her very
puzzling. She recalled Frederic's identification of himself, and after
that all was blank. When she had come to she had found herself in a
motor being rapidly driven toward New York in the early dawn, with
Carter as her escort. He had not been inclined to be at all

"Let the Captain tell you the story himself," said Carter. "He knows all
the details."

"But when can I see him?" questioned Jane. "When," she hesitated,
remembering the shameful bonds that had held him, "when will he
be free?"

"He's as free this minute as we are," Carter explained. "It didn't take
the Chief long to get the bracelets off, after Colonel Brook-White had
identified him. There's a lot for the Captain to do still, but rest
assured, he'll waste no time getting back to the city to see you."

"I hope not," sighed the girl.

She was too weary, too weak from the revulsion of feeling that had come
on learning that her lover instead of being a dastardly spy was a
wonderful hero, to make even a pretense at maidenly modesty. She wanted
to see Frederic too much to care what any one thought.

Slipping into her home fortunately without arousing any of her family,
she had gone to bed with the intention of getting a rest of an hour or
two. Sleep, she was sure, would be impossible, for she felt far too
excited and upset. Yet she had not realized how utterly exhausted she
was. Hardly had her head touched the pillow before she was lost to
everything, and it was long after noon when a maid aroused her to
announce that Captain Seymour had 'phoned that he would call at three.

As she dressed to receive him, she was wondering how she should greet
him. Blushingly she recalled the impassioned kiss he had pressed on her
lips--why it was only yesterday. It had seemed ages and ages ago, so
much had intervened. Mingled with a shyness that arose from her vivid
memories was also a shade of indignation. Why had he not told her? Did
he not trust her? She resolved to punish him for not taking her into his
confidence by an air of coldness toward him. Certainly he deserved it.

Yet, when he arrived, so full of animation did he appear to be, that
the lofty manner in which she greeted him apparently went unnoticed. He
met her with a warm handclasp and anxious inquiries about how she felt
after all the exciting events. Too filled with eagerness to know all the
details of his adventures she had found it difficult to maintain her
pose, and soon was seated cosily beside him, asking him question after
question, all the while furtively studying him in his proper role. As
Frederic Hoff she had thought him wonderfully handsome and masterful. As
Captain Sir Frederic Seymour, in his regimental finery, he was simply

"A joke?" she repeated. "Do explain, I'm dying to know all about it."

"It wasn't half as difficult a job as one might imagine, you know. Our
censor chaps at home have got to be quite expert at reading letters,
invisible ink and all that sort of thing. Hoff for months had been
sending cipher messages to the war office in Berlin. He kept urging them
to act on his all-wonderful plan for blowing up New York. They decided
finally to try it and notified old Otto they were sending over an
officer to supervise the job."

"What became of him? The officer they sent over?"

"Our people picked him off a Scandinavian boat and locked him up. They
took his papers and turned them over to me. Clever, wasn't it?"

"And you took his name and his papers and came here in his place? Oh,
that was a brave, brave thing to do."

"I wouldn't say that," said Seymour modestly. "I fancy I look a bit like
the chap, and I speak the language perfectly."

"But it was such a terrible risk to take," cried Jane with a shudder.
"Suppose they'd found you out?"

"No danger of that," laughed Frederic. "Old Otto never had seen the chap
who was coming. His real nephew, Frederic Hoff, whose American birth
certificate was used, died years ago. Besides I had the German officer's
papers and knew just what his instructions were. The worst of it was
when old Otto insisted every night on toasting the Kaiser, and when he
kept trying to get me mixed up in his dirty schemes. I had to go
through with the former once in a while, but on the latter, I--how do
you Americans say it--just stalled along. My orders were to land him
only on the big thing--his wonder-workers."

"But how did you explain to him that British uniform?"

"Now that was really an idea. The old fellow was getting a bit cross and
suspicious with me because he thought I wasn't doing enough while they
were getting his 'wonder-workers' ready. At one time he was so
distrustful of me that he had me followed."

"Oh, yes, I know," said Jane quickly. With a thrill she remembered the
scene she had witnessed from her window the night K-19, her predecessor
on Chief Fleck's staff, had been murdered. In her relief at discovering
that Frederic was no German spy, she had forgotten that for weeks and
weeks she had all but believed him guilty of murder. Now, something told
her, surely and confidently, that he could explain it all.

"I saw you from my window one night before I met you," she went on. "A
man was following you, and you chased him around the corner."

"I remember that," he said; "the poor chap was found dead the next
morning. Old Otto killed him. The man had been following me, and I had
imagined that he was one of old Otto's spies and knocked him down. I
couldn't find anything on him to indicate who he was, so just as he was
beginning to revive I left him and came on home. It seems old Otto had
been watching him trail me. He followed along and shot the man. He
gleefully told me about it the next day, the hound. I ought to have
given him over to the police, but that would have upset our plans."

"I see," said Jane; "what about Lieutenant Kramer? Was he working with
old Mr. Hoff?"

"That's the funny part of it. Here in this country you've got so many
kinds of secret agents they're always trampling on each others' toes.
There's your treasury agents, and your Department of Justice agents, and
your army intelligence men and your naval intelligence men--nine
different sets of investigators you've got, counting the volunteers, so
some one told me, and each lot trying to make a record for itself and
not taking the others into its confidence. Rather stupid I call it."

"I should say so," agreed Jane.

"Here was I watching old Hoff for our government, and Kramer watching me
for your navy and Fleck watching both of us. It was a funny jumble."

"But about that uniform?" Jane persisted.

"When the old man got to ragging me a bit, I felt I must do something to
convince him I was all right. I suggested trying to get a British
uniform and maybe learning thereby some secrets. It delighted him
hugely. Of course I just went down to Colonel Brook-White and got my own
uniform, and that was all there was to that."

"It puzzled Mr. Carter, though, how you got it in and out of the house.
He used to open every bundle that came for Mr. Hoff."

Sir Frederic laughed delightedly.

"I had a messenger who used to bring it back and forth in a big lady's
hat-box. It always was addressed to you, my dear, but the boy had
instructions to deliver it to me."

"Humph," snapped Jane with mock indignation. "And when did you first
find out that I was helping Chief Fleck watch you?"

"I suspected it from the start. Kramer told me how you'd become
acquainted with him. Then when I heard you 'phoning Carter about the
bookstore I knew for certain."

"Oh, that's one thing now I wanted to ask about--those messages Hoff
left in the bookstore. Who were they for?"

"Instructions to a German advertising agency on how to word some
advertisements that contained a code."

"Oh, those Dento advertisements?"

"You knew about them?" cried Seymour in astonishment.

"Of course," said Jane proudly. "I was the one who deciphered them; but
what did that girl do with those messages? Carter had a theory that she
slipped them under a dachshund's collar."

"That theory's just like Carter," laughed Frederic--"regular detective
stuff. I never heard of any dachshund's being used. The girl used to
slip them into a letter box in her apartment-house hallway. Two minutes
later a man would get them and carry them to their destination."

"The traitors in our navy--the men who signalled old Otto and Lena Kraus
about the transports--who were they? They are the scoundrels I'd like to
see arrested and shot."

"Never worry. They'll all meet their deserts. I can't tell even you who
they are, but I've given your Chief Fleck a list of them. They will be
quickly rounded up now. What else can I tell you?"

"There's this," said Jane, the color rising to her cheeks as she drew
forth from its hiding place in the bosom of her gown the packet he had
entrusted to her the morning before, its seals still intact.

"What?" he cried in delight. "You kept it safe? You did not open it even
when you saw me arrested, when you must have been convinced that I was a
spy? Girl, dear girl"--his voice became a caress, and the light of love
flamed up in his eyes, "you did trust me then, in spite of everything."

"I had promised you, and I kept my promise," faltered Jane, striving
for words to explain, though she had been unable to explain her actions
even to herself. "I think my heart trusted you all the time, even though
my head and eyes made me believe you were what you pretended to be. Even
when things looked blackest my heart persisted that you were true."

"God bless your heart for that," cried Frederic, as he took the little
packet from her hands and began breaking the seals. "Yesterday morning,
when old Otto's plans were ready, I foresaw the danger of the trip ahead
of me. I realized I might never come back alive. If they discovered who
I was a second too soon it would mean my death. I dared not, for my
country's sake, tell even you what I was doing. My honor was at stake. I
dared not drop the slightest hint nor write a single line. The only
thing I'd kept about me in the apartment that wasn't filthy German stuff
was what's in here."

Slowly he was unwrapping something rolled in tissue paper, as Jane,
eager-eyed, looked wonderingly on.

"But," he went on, "I couldn't go away from you without leaving some
token, some clue. If it happened that I never came back, I wanted you
to know--"

He stopped abruptly.

"To know what?" questioned the girl breathlessly.

"To know that I loved you, darling, better than all else save honor," he
said, taking her into his arms. "See the token I left behind for you.
It's an old, old family ring with the Seymour crest. You'll wear it,
girl of mine, won't you, wear it always."

Unhesitatingly Jane Strong thrust forth the third finger on her left
hand, and instinctively her lips turned upward toward his.

And no matter what might have happened just then in the apartment next
door, neither of them would have known anything about it.


Book of the day: