Part 3 out of 4
The troopers followed the lad to the bank of the river, and then, as
there was not a shot from the opposite side, all walked boldly along the
shore. At length they came upon a number of small boats, evidently having
been placed in readiness by some of the British forces.
"We'll appropriate these," said Hal. "Luckily they were here or we should
have been forced to swim across."
The men piled into the boats, and pushed off. They reached the opposite
side without discovery, and hastily clambering up the bank were soon
hidden from sight in a clump of trees. Here Hal called another halt,
until he was able to decide upon his next move.
The boats had been pulled into the trees, to be used for their return
trip. The driver of the auto truck was ordered to remain where the party
had left him. All in readiness for a hasty retreat, Hal now bethought
himself of a way to successfully accomplish their mission.
After a consultation the party moved forward, keeping as much as possible
in the shelter of the trees. As they approached the edge of the little
woods they came suddenly upon three German horsemen.
The latter had not seen them, so quietly had they crept along. Hal,
Chester and Lieutenant Anderson were upon them before they knew it, their
men right behind them. Seeing that they were far outnumbered, the Germans
did not put up a fight.
The hands of all three immediately went into the air, and one of them
called out in German:
"Dismount!" ordered Hal, and the Germans obeyed.
"This is what I call luck," said Hal to his friends.
"What do you mean?" demanded Lieutenant Anderson.
"Why," said Hal, "here we have three horses and three German uniforms. If
that isn't luck, I don't know what is."
Quickly the three Germans were stripped of their uniforms, bound
When Hal, Chester and Lieutenant Anderson had donned the German uniforms,
Hal called three of the British troopers to him.
"You men," he said, "will leave all your weapons here, except your
revolvers, which you will hide in your clothes. Then you will accompany
us, afoot, apparently as prisoners."
He called a fourth trooper to him.
"Your name?" he demanded.
"Then, Bristow, we appoint you to take command while we are gone. The
rest of you will remain here until we return, or until you find it
necessary to retreat across the river."
"Very good, sir," said Bristow, and fell back and informed his companions
of the situation.
"Do you realize," asked Lieutenant Anderson of Hal, "that if we are
captured in these German uniforms it will mean a spy's death for
all of us?"
"Perfectly," said Hal, "but we shall have to take that chance. I believe
that having three English soldiers with us, apparently prisoners, will be
a means of avoiding detection."
"All right," said Chester, "only we shall have to be careful."
Quickly the three mounted, and marching the soldiers on ahead of them
started north, bearing off slightly to the east. For an hour they
continued their journey, passing now and then a body of German troops.
But they were not molested, not even challenged.
At length they came upon a farmhouse, setting well back from the road.
"Perhaps we can learn something here," said Chester.
Hal called a halt, and all approached the house. The door was opened by a
young woman, who started back in dismay at sight of them.
"Have no fear," said Hal, who acted as spokesman of the party. "We are
simply tired out and hungry. We thought perhaps you could furnish us with
a bite to eat, and also our prisoners here."
Without a word the woman opened wide the door, and motioned for them to
enter. The six followed her into the dining-room, where soon a hearty
repast was spread on the table.
"We have been on a mission south," Hal said to the woman. "Can you tell
me just how far the German staff is from here?"
"It can't be very far," the woman replied, "for some of the officers
often come here to eat. They say that they like my cooking better than
the regular army fare. I wouldn't be at all surprised if some of them
were to come along soon."
"Good," said Hal, aloud, but nevertheless he was seriously alarmed.
He did not wish to come into such close proximity with the German
Hastily the six bolted their food, and even as they were disappearing
around the outbuildings, Chester, glancing back, saw six men, in
gold-trimmed uniforms, entering the house they had just quitted.
"Great Scott," he said, "we got out of there just in time. Look."
The rest looked back and saw the cause of his excitement. In the shelter
of a clump of trees Hal called a halt.
"There must be something up," he declared, "or the German staff would not
be this far south. I don't suppose General French has been informed of
this. In some way we must find out what is going on."
"And I wouldn't be surprised," said Chester, "if they were using that
farmhouse for a certain purpose."
"By Jove! I never thought of that," said Hal. "I believe you have hit it.
That is where they are making their plans. I wonder"--and he grew greatly
excited. "I wonder if by any chance the Kaiser could be in that party."
"He is probably pretty near the whole party," said Lieutenant Anderson
dryly. "Kaiser Wilhelm is no coward, and if his staff is there, this
close to the British lines, the Kaiser is probably there also."
"Then it's a wonder the woman didn't say something about the Kaiser
"She probably didn't know him," said the lieutenant.
Hal sat wrapped in thought for a long time.
"Do you know what I am going to do?" he said at length, dismounting.
"No. What?" demanded Chester and Lieutenant Anderson in a single voice.
"I'm going to sneak back to the farmhouse, and see if by some hook or
crook I can hear what is going on. We shall probably not have another
chance of overhearing the German plans."
"Great Scott!" said Lieutenant Anderson, "that certainly is a bold plan.
You don't mean it?"
"I certainly do," was the reply.
"Then I shall go, too," said Chester.
"And me," declared Lieutenant Anderson.
"No you won't," said Hal, positively. "The rest of you will stay here. If
I should get into any trouble, I shall fire my revolver, and then the
rest of you can come up. The six of us will be a match for them, the
Suddenly Chester was struck with a great inspiration.
"Why can't we get the rest of our men, and capture the whole crowd?" he
demanded in great excitement.
"I had thought of that," replied Hal, "but something tells me it can't be
done--a hunch, if you like. I have a feeling that if we attempt such a
thing our whole expedition will go wrong. I can't explain just what I
mean, but I feel it."
"And I too," declared Lieutenant Anderson. "I don't know why, but I know
"Bosh!" said Chester, but the words of his two friends evidently had
created some impression, for his ejaculation was only half-hearted.
"Well, if you must go by yourself, all right," said Lieutenant Anderson.
"But my advice is that the sooner you get there the better."
Hal nodded, and, a moment later, going some distance to one side, where
he knew he could not be seen from the dining-room window, he walked
slowly toward the house.
He made no attempt at concealment as he walked along, for he knew that
such an action, should he be seen, would be suspicious and would probably
mean an unsuccessful termination of his plan. He had little fear of
detection, clothed as he was in a German uniform.
Now the lad reached the house, and sought a means of entrance. He did not
wish to go in the front door, for fear that someone might see him, so,
keeping close to the wall, he walked around the house.
His effort was rewarded. For at the extreme rear was a low window,
apparently halfway between the first and second floors.
"Evidently, at a turn in the steps," Hal told himself.
Quickly he grasped the edge of the sill, and exerting great strength
slowly and cautiously drew himself up. The window was open, and the lad
put one leg over the sill. A second later he sat in the opening, and then
disappeared inside the house.
Very cautiously he ascended the steps. Remembering the exact location of
the dining-room, the lad sought out the room above it. There, at one end
of the room, he found what appeared to be a little closet.
Gently opening the door, he peered in. Nothing but darkness met his eyes.
Hal stepped inside, pulling the door to after him, leaving just a little
crack that he might not be suffocated.
Then he laid his ear to the floor and listened intently. From below came
the faint sound of German voices.
Hal ran an exploring finger over the floor of the closet. His finger felt
a little hole, and changing his position the boy saw a very small opening
in the floor. He put his eye to the hole and peered down, and as he made
out the figures in the room below he chuckled softly to himself.
The first man upon whom he laid his eyes was Count Von Moltke,
commander-in-chief of all the German armies, and who, upon one occasion,
had saved him from death before a firing squad.
"Wonder what he would say if he could see me now?" Hal asked himself.
His gaze roved over the room, and there at one end of the table sat an
imposing figure in gold-trimmed military uniform, sword between his
knees, a fierce military mustache curling upward.
There was no mistaking this figure. It was Wilhelm II, Emperor of
In spite of the fact that Hal had sure sense that Emperor Wilhelm would
be in the room below, he felt a peculiar thrill creep over him as he made
out the imposing figure of "The War Lord of Europe." He whistled softly
"Great Scott!" he ejaculated, and then looked long and silently.
"To think," he said to himself after a long pause, "that he is primarily
responsible for this great war, with its toll of thousands of lives and
the destruction of property worth millions of dollars."
Unconsciously, almost, he drew his revolver, and pointed it straight at
the War Lord's breast.
"With one little movement of my finger," said the lad softly to himself,
"I could snuff out the life of the man who has already sent thousands to
their death. One shot, and--"
His fingers tightened on the trigger, but for a moment only. Then he
lowered his weapon, and a moment later dropped it back in his
pocket, while he wiped away little beads of perspiration that had
gathered on his brow.
"It's no use," he told himself, "I couldn't do it if I wanted to."
Wilhelm II, Emperor of the German Empire and War Lord of Europe, will
never know how close he was to death at that moment!
Now the voices of the officers in the room below became louder, and by
straining his ears the lad could make out what they were saying.
"If," came a voice from below, and Hal recognized it as that of Count Von
Moltke, "if we can draw the British to this point, we can cut them off
from their French support and annihilate them. And--"
"And," came the voice of the Kaiser himself, "we can, then, by a quick
turning move, take the French by surprise and our victory will be
"Exactly, sire," came Count Von Moltke's voice again.
"But, sire," said a third voice, "what have we to warrant that the
English will accept our bait?"
The Emperor did not reply immediately, and Count Von Moltke broke in
"We will make a strong showing on the eastern shore of the Marne," he
said, "and will retire slowly before the British. As they come on,
flushed with apparent victory, Von Kluck will take them on the left
flank. We shall cut them to pieces."
"The plan sounds well to me," came the voice of the Kaiser again.
"General Von Kluck, how soon can you be in readiness to execute
"Not before day after to-morrow, sire," was the reply. "It will take me
that long to bring my men to the designated point, at the same time
keeping the British unaware of their withdrawal."
"And how many men will you be able to bring?" asked the Kaiser.
"Half a million, sire."
"Leaving how many in their present position, as a screen?"
"Very few, sire. Hardly more than 50,000 men."
The Kaiser growled something, unintelligible to Hal, into his mustache.
Then he spoke aloud:
"If the British were aware of that," he said, "by a quick advance they
would place us at a tremendous disadvantage."
"So they would, sire," agreed General Von Kluck. "But it must be seen
that they do not anticipate our plan."
"In that event," came the Emperor's reply, "it will be necessary for that
part of your force which is left to make a show of strength at the same
moment the mass of your command is withdrawn."
"Exactly what I had figured upon, sire."
"Good; but you say it is impossible for you to be ready until the day
after to-morrow. In that event, we must hold the English in their present
positions at all costs. A premature advance on their part, while we would
undoubtedly repulse it, would mean the ruination of our coup. See to it,
gentlemen, that there is no leak."
"There shall be none, sire," came a chorus of officers.
"Very well. But I had had my mind set on being in Paris long ere this.
Had it not been for the interference of these English--and these
starving Belgians, I would be there now," and the Kaiser's voice grew
harsh. "They must be crushed," and he struck the table a heavy blow with
his clenched fist.
"And crushed they shall be, sire," said Count Von Moltke soothingly. "It
is only a question of time."
"Well, you have been long enough doing it," came the Emperor's angry
voice. "See that you do not fail me again. If you do--"
He broke off, but his silence was more menacing than any threat he might
There was the sound of chairs scraping on the floor, and a moment later
of heavy footsteps. Hal, in his hiding place, knew that the German
officers were leaving the house.
"By George!" the lad muttered to himself, "Wilhelm must be a holy terror.
I'll bet Von Kluck, Von Moltke and all the rest are due for a terrible
wigging, for I'm here to see that this plot fails."
Hal waited patiently for perhaps half an hour, and then, feeling certain
that the coast was clear, emerged from his hiding place. He was just
lowering himself from the window by which he had entered when, from
almost below him, there was a loud scream.
Glancing down, Hal beheld the pale face of the woman who had given them
food only a short time before. Fearing that the Emperor and his officers
might be attracted by her screams, Hal dropped quickly to the ground, and
an instant later had his hand clapped over the woman's mouth.
"Quiet!" he commanded in a harsh voice. "If you make no noise you shall
not be harmed. Otherwise--" he paused significantly.
The woman shuddered once or twice, but she uttered no further sound.
"Go into the house," Hal commanded, and followed her.
"I guess I had better tie you up for safe keeping," the lad muttered to
himself. "I can't afford to be interfered with now."
He found a piece of rope, and, making a gag out of a napkin, gagged and
bound her securely. Then he placed her gently in a chair.
"You will have to sit there until someone comes along to free you," he
told her. "I hope it won't be long, for your sake, but I can't afford to
take any chances with you."
He left the house; and as he turned his eyes toward the spot where he had
so lately left his friends, his heart sank.
Chester, Lieutenant Anderson and the three troopers were running toward
him as fast as their legs would carry them, closely pursued by a band of
mounted Germans. Even at this distance Hal could make out the forms of
Count Von Moltke, and, yes, Emperor Wilhelm himself!
With the high German officers came a little troop of mounted soldiers,
evidently, Hal thought, an escort, that had been left some distance
behind while the Emperor and his officers discussed their plans in the
farmhouse. In all, there were twelve horsemen dashing after the
Now his friends came up with him, and Hal, believing as did his
friends that discretion was the better part of valor, also turned and
ran. Several shots rang out, but none was touched and they did not
pause to reply.
"Just wait till we get back to our own men," thought Hal to himself as he
ran along, "that is, if we can make it."
But help came unexpectedly. Bristow, the man who had been left in charge
of the little band of English, hearing the sound of firing, had crawled
forward to investigate. He made out the figures flying toward him and
recognized them instantly; also, he saw the pursuing horsemen.
Quickly he returned to his men, and at a word they all dashed forward.
This reinforcement arrived not a moment too soon, for the horsemen were
overhauling the fugitives rapidly.
When the fugitives saw their own men approaching they stopped in their
mad flight, drew their revolvers and fired at the pursuers with almost a
The horses of the Germans came to a sudden halt, being pulled up on their
haunches, so forcibly did their riders bring them to a stop. A moment
later the pursuers themselves were in full flight.
Hal laughed loudly to himself, and so great became his mirth that he was
forced to hold his sides.
"What on earth is the matter with you?" demanded Chester in great
surprise. "What are you laughing at?"
"Why," explained Hal, between bursts of laughter, "I am laughing at the
sight of Emperor Wilhelm II, War Lord of Europe, flying as if the evil
one himself were after him!"
WITHIN THE ENEMY'S LINES.
Briefly now Hal recounted to his two friends what he had overheard in the
farmhouse, pointing out the danger that threatened the allied armies.
When he had concluded he said:
"Now I have another plan, and I want to know if you, Chester, and you,
Lieutenant Anderson, will follow my instructions?"
"Certainly," said the lieutenant.
"You know I will, Hal," said Chester.
"All right, then. What I want you to do is this: Return and report to
General French what I have just told you. Take the men with you.
"But you?" demanded Chester; "aren't you coming, too? Surely you have
accomplished the mission successfully."
"No," replied Hal. "In this German uniform I believe I shall be perfectly
safe on this side, and I am going to try and gain further information. It
may be that I can learn something that will be important."
"Then I shall go with you," declared Chester.
"And I, too," said Lieutenant Anderson.
"Oh, no you won't," said Hal grimly. "Didn't you just promise to obey my
commands, both of you?"
"But we didn't know what you planned to do," said Chester.
"I know you didn't," said Hal. "That is why I asked your promises before
I told you."
"But I don't think it is fair," protested Chester.
"I don't care what you think," replied Hal. "You have both promised, so
that's all there is about it."
In vain did Chester and Lieutenant Anderson protest. Hal was firm.
"Come, now," he said at last. "You are making it more dangerous for me
every moment you stand here arguing about it. Get in the boats and
return at once."
Slowly Chester and Lieutenant Anderson complied with his request. The men
already were in the boats, and Hal stood and watched them row away.
"I shall be back some time to-night or in the morning," he called to
Chester; "but," and he smiled grimly to himself, "if I were you, I
wouldn't wait up for me."
Chester and Lieutenant Anderson waved their hands in reply, and with one
last look Hal turned and made his way back in the direction of the
He walked by the house without stopping, for he had no mind to linger
long in that vicinity.
"The quicker I find the main army and lose myself among the rest of the
officers the better off I shall be," he told himself.
He espied a small squadron of Germans approaching him at a quick trot.
Making sure that his revolvers were ready for instant action, the lad
trudged bravely on. The mounted troops passed him at a distance of
perhaps a hundred yards, and the officer in command waved his sword in
greeting as they went by.
"So far, so good," muttered the lad to himself.
Small bodies of troops passed him at more frequent intervals now. But
feeling perfectly safe in his German uniform, with shoulder straps of
captain, the lad continued boldly on.
At last, some distance ahead, he made out a large encampment.
"Guess this is the place I am headed for," he told himself.
He approached boldly and soon mingled with the German officers, who were
taking life easy, war, seemingly, being far from their thoughts. The
place, to Hal, looked as if it might be a drill ground, with a large body
of troops on parade.
He walked about for an hour or more and was not challenged once, although
once or twice passing officers nodded pleasantly to him.
"Either they mistake me for someone else, or they are a very pleasant and
courteous set," the lad told himself. "However, I didn't come here to
learn how they behave themselves. I won't get any information this way. I
wonder who is in command here, but I can't afford to ask."
Continuing his stroll, he at last mingled with a crowd of officers who
were idling about talking.
"I heard General Beulow say that we were likely to be ordered forward
within a few hours," said one of the group of officers.
"So?" questioned another. "I had forgotten that you are now a member of
"What's up, do you know?"
"Nothing that I can talk about," replied the other with a pleasant smile.
"All right," said another. "The sooner the better."
The little group broke up and Hal continued his stroll.
"Good," he said to himself. "At least I have learned that General Beulow
is in command here."
And he had learned not a moment too soon, as it turned out.
At that moment an officer approached him.
"I can't seem to place you," he said. "Is your regiment here?"
"No," returned Hal, in excellent German, without the slightest accent. "I
am attached to General Von Kluck's command. I came here with him to-day."
"Oh," said the German officer, "then you are on his staff?"
"In that event I am in luck. Evidently you are the very man I have been
sent to seek. You are Captain Dersam?"
Hal took a long chance.
"Yes," he replied.
"Good," said the German officer. "Come to my quarters. I have documents
to deliver to you."
Hal followed the German officer to the latter's tent. There the German
took from a small express box a small package of papers, which he placed
in the lad's hands.
"These," he said, "you are to deliver to General Von Kluck. I suppose you
knew that he had already returned to his command?"
"Yes," replied Hal firmly. "I was simply waiting for these. My horse is
yonder," and he waved his hand.
"Oh," continued the German. "Then perhaps you know that Von Kluck, Von
Moltke and the Emperor himself had a brush with a bunch of British or
French spies a while back. The Emperor was much put out. He believed that
information of an expected coup had leaked out, so all generals were
hurried back to their posts to see that everything was shipshape."
"Yes," said Hal briefly; "I know."
He placed the papers in his pocket.
"Auf Wiedersehen," said the German officer, bowing Hal from his tent.
"Your orders are to put those papers into General Von Kluck's hands at
the earliest possible moment."
"It shall be done," said Hal as he walked rapidly away.
"Great Scott!" he said to himself. "I am in luck. I wouldn't be surprised
if these papers were orders concerning the movement which I overheard in
Quickly he sought out a quiet spot, and broke the Imperial seal. It was
even as he had expected--only more. For the papers contained the present
troop positions, their expected movements and the number of men and how
Hal whistled softly to himself.
"Won't General French be surprised when he sees these?" he said softly.
"Now to get back."
It was growing dusk, and as Hal walked along toward the outposts in the
direction from which he had so recently come, he whistled blithely to
himself. It was a mission well done, and the lad, although by no means
egotistical, was well aware of it.
He passed the farthest outpost of the camp unchallenged, and made off in
the darkness. Then, still feeling safe in his German uniform, and more
confident at having not been recognized during his stay in the German
camp, he paid no heed to footsteps that were now approaching.
A lantern swung suddenly into his face by a newcomer caused him to start
back in surprise. And even as he did so he made out that the pair who had
accosted him were a man and woman.
And what is more he also recognized the woman. It was she whom he had so
recently bound in the farmhouse. And her cry made it apparent that she
had recognized him as well.
"It is he!" she exclaimed in a loud voice.
A COLD SWIM.
Before Hal could recover his composure, which had left him at being so
suddenly accosted, the woman had thrown her arms around his neck,
pinioning his hands to his side. He tried to shake himself loose
without hurting the woman, but so tight was her grasp that he was
unable to do so.
The man who was with her came to her assistance, dodging around the
struggling pair with his revolver reversed, held ready to strike. But
the woman herself prevented this, for he was unable to bring the butt of
the weapon down on the lad's head without the imminent risk of injuring
Hal contrived to keep the woman between the man and himself, until he had
decided just what course to pursue. He had now freed his hands, and
awaited an auspicious moment to spring upon his enemy.
It came at last. Suddenly hurling the woman violently from him, Hal
leaped forward and, catching his opponent off his balance, struck out
swiftly with his bare fist. There was a sharp "spat" and the man fell to
Hal turned to run, but found himself opposed by the woman, who pointed
the revolver at his head. She held the weapon in a steady hand, and the
lad realized that a miss at that close range was utterly impossible.
"Hands up!" commanded the woman.
"Now see here--" he began.
The woman interrupted.
"Hands up!" she commanded again.
This time Hal obeyed, for he knew by the hard ring in the woman's voice
that she was not to be trifled with.
"About face," commanded his captor.
Hal did as ordered.
"Now," continued the woman, "you will march on ahead of me, and,
remember, at the first false move I shall fire."
Without a word Hal turned and started away, the woman but a few paces
behind him. But Hal was of no mind to be taken back to the German camp.
He realized clearly what fate awaited him there.
His nimble wit was at work as he walked along, and he finally hit upon a
plan. It was not without danger, but the lad figured he might just as
well be shot then and there as to be put to death as a spy.
As he walked along he seemingly tripped over some unseen obstacle. In
attempting to regain his balance he reeled backward. The woman by this
time was right upon him.
Unable to tell whether he had really tripped or whether it was a ruse,
she stood undecided a moment. That moment proved her undoing. For Hal,
spinning on his heel, swept the revolver from her outstretched hand, and
with a quick leap seized it himself.
"Now, madam," he said calmly. "I shall give you just thirty seconds to
get away from here. If you have not put a considerable distance between
us by the time the thirty seconds have expired, I shall be forced to
use this weapon, much as I should dislike to shoot a lady. I am on
important business and it brooks of no delay. Neither shall one life
stand in the way."
The woman took one quick look at him, then turned and ran.
"I am glad she believed me," said Hal to himself. "I don't believe I
could have brought myself to shoot."
He turned and walked back to the spot where he had placed one of his
opponents hors de combat.
The latter was just struggling to his feet, and as Hal approached he
"What! haven't you had enough yet?" asked the lad in well simulated
surprise. "Well, here's some more then."
He stepped quickly forward, and feinting with his left, drove his right
fist squarely into the German's mouth. It was more than flesh and blood
could stand, and once more the German toppled to the ground, where he
"Now to get back across the river," said Hal to himself. "Wonder if I can
find a boat of some kind."
He walked slowly along the bank, keeping a keen eye out for any kind of a
craft in which to make the trip. He could find none; but, from the
direction of the great German camp, came the sound of excited voices and
the trampling of many feet.
"Great Scott! Here they come," exclaimed Hal aloud. "I guess it's up to
me to get away from here pretty quick."
Without a moment's hesitation he advanced to the water's edge and plunged
into the stream. The water was icy cold, and Hal's breath was taken away
by the suddenness of the shock.
He recovered himself in a moment, however, and struck out for the
opposite shore. About half way across he became aware of voices on the
shore immediately behind him.
"I don't believe there is anyone there," said a voice.
"The woman is a spy herself, that's my belief," said a second. "She has
concocted this story as an excuse for her being abroad at this hour. I
certainly don't believe there is a spy on this side of the river."
"Nor I; however, if he is in that water we can spot him with a
searchlight. Turn yours on."
Hearing the words, Hal took a long breath and sank from sight. It was
well that he did so promptly, for a brilliant shaft of light flashed
across the water, making it as bright as day. The German swept it back
and forth across the water. He could see no one.
"I told you so," he said. "There is no one out there. Come, let's get
away from here."
"Good," returned the other. "Come on."
Hal remained under the water just as long as he could and came to the
surface as the Germans turned to walk off, ready to take another quick
breath and dive again. But seeing no sign of the searchlight, he rightly
concluded that the Germans, who had been but half-hearted in their search
anyhow, had gone.
Treading water he listened intently for a few moments, and then made out
the sound of retreating footsteps.
"Well," he said to himself at last, "I guess they have gone. Now to get
out of here as soon as I can. I'll be frozen if I don't hurry."
With quick strokes he continued his cold swim, and soon emerged upon the
farther shore. He made out the form of a dark figure some distance away,
and hurried toward it, remarking to himself:
"Looks like a sentinel. I'll get a match from him and build a fire and
get thawed out before I continue my journey."
He approached to within a few yards of the figure before his presence was
noted. Then the sentinel, for such he proved to be, hearing footsteps
behind him, turned suddenly and leveled his rifle at Hal.
"Halt!" he commanded.
"It's all right," said Hal. "I'm English."
"Come a little closer and let me look at you," said the sentinel, not
lowering his weapon.
Hal did as commanded. Suddenly the sentinel made out the German uniform
and his rifle leaped up again.
"So," he exclaimed. "You Dutchman! You thought you'd fool me, did you?
You are my prisoner. One false move and you are a dead man."
"Don't be a chump," said Hal, his teeth chattering from cold. "I tell
you I'm English. Can't you tell that by my talk? What do you think I am?
"Well," said the sentinel, "what do you think I would take you for in
that German uniform?"
Now Hal understood, and in spite of the cold he laughed.
"I don't blame you," he said. "I forgot all about this uniform. But I can
assure you I'm English. I've been over the river getting a little
"Well," said the sentinel, by no means assured that Hal was what he
represented himself. "I'll let the colonel decide that point. March ahead
of me now, and mind, no tricks, unless you want a bullet in your back."
"All right," said Hal shortly, "as long as you can't take my word for it,
I suppose I shall have to go with you."
He walked along some little distance, the sentinel behind him with
leveled rifle, before he came to the tent of the officer in charge of
what he now saw was a reconnoitering force.
"My name is Paine," he informed the colonel. "I have been across the
river within the German lines on a mission for General French. I have
accomplished it and was returning when this sentinel accosted me. I can
show credentials," and he showed the officer a pass signed by the
The officer shook hands with him.
"What can I do for you?" he asked.
"I must be back at the earliest possible moment," said Hal. "Have you a
"Then I should be grateful if you would allow me to make use of it."
"It shall be done," said the officer. "Now you sit here by the fire while
I have it put in readiness. You are half frozen."
"Thanks," replied Hal. "I am. But I haven't very long to stay. Please
have the car ready as soon as possible. And if you can spare a driver I
shall be glad of his services. I don't believe I could drive the car any
"You shall have him," agreed the officer, and left the tent. Hal huddled
up close to the little fire.
THE GERMAN COUP FAILS.
Wrapped tightly in a great fur overcoat that the officer had insisted on
lending him, Hal snuggled back comfortably in the large automobile as it
sped over the ground toward General French's headquarters.
The chauffeur was a speed demon and the huge machine covered the ground
much more quickly than the one in which the little party of British had
started on their mission. It was not long, therefore, before the lad
found himself descending from the car. Another moment and he once more
stood before his commander.
"So, you got back safely, eh," exclaimed General French. "Young Crawford
gave me your report, and I was afraid that you would be captured. Did you
learn anything further?"
"Yes, sir," Hal made reply. "I have learned the number of men in each
command, their positions and all details."
"What!" exclaimed General French in great surprise.
"Yes, sir," continued Hal, and reaching in his pocket he drew out the
documents given him by the German officer. "Here they are, sir."
General French took the papers from the lad's hand, and glanced at them
quickly. After a brief perusal, he laid his hand on Hal's shoulder.
"You have done well," he said quietly. "I shall not forget it. You may go
now, for I doubt not that your friend is greatly worried over you. I will
say this: You have rendered an invaluable service to England--one that
the King shall hear of. I have already taken steps to thwart this German
coup, and if we are successful the credit will be mainly due you."
Hal saluted and with glowing heart left the general's tent.
"Now to find Chester," he said.
He had little difficulty in doing this, for Chester was still making his
quarters with Lieutenant Anderson. Approaching the lieutenant's tent, Hal
walked up cautiously.
"I want to surprise them," he told himself.
Inside he heard the sound of voices, and he paused to listen.
"I'm afraid he won't ever get back," came Chester's voice. "I should have
insisted on accompanying him. I shouldn't have let him go alone."
"Still," said Lieutenant Anderson, "he was in command. We had to
"That is true," replied Chester, "but just the same if ill befalls him I
shall feel that I am partly to blame. Besides, we had the information we
went after. What had he to gain by staying and putting himself in the
Stepping quietly into the tent, Hal advanced to the center before he
"A whole lot, Chester," he said quietly.
Chester and Lieutenant Anderson were upon their feet in an instant, and
one had him by either hand, wringing it enthusiastically.
"Stop it, stop it," laughed Hal. "You'll wring my arms off."
"And so you are back safely," said Chester, looking long at his friend.
"Yes, I'm back," said Hal.
"And what did you learn? Anything else?"
"Lots," replied Hal, "but let me get out of this wet German uniform";
having done which he plunged into a story of his experiences after they
had left until his return to General French's tent.
"And General French says," he concluded, "that steps have been taken to
spoil the Kaiser's plan."
"Good," said Chester and Lieutenant Anderson in one voice.
"Well," said Chester, after some further talk, "I guess we might as well
turn in. Anderson and I were unable to sleep because you had not
returned. We can rest easier now."
Almost completely exhausted, the three were soon slumbering deeply. The
day's work had been strenuous indeed, and there is no telling how long
they would have slept on had not the sound of a bugle, calling "To arms!"
Quickly they leaped up, and throwing on what few clothes they had
removed, were soon at their posts. The whole army was ready to move at a
The first glimmer of the morning sun appeared over the horizon as the
command for a general advance rang out. Slowly at first, then faster, the
great British fighting machine moved on, squadron upon squadron of
cavalry leading the way.
There were no bridges across the little river, nor were there boats
enough to carry the army across. But under the direction of skillful
engineers, the best in the world, pontoon bridges sprang up as if by
magic. Before the Germans were fully aware of what was going on, several
thousand men had been hurled across the little stream.
These--advancing in the face of the overwhelming force of Germans, rushed
forward to check them--fought off the enemy while other British, troops
were poured over the Marne. Desperately did the Germans try to drive them
back. Time after time they charged, only to be hurled back again by the
British horsemen, and the infantry that now had had time to form after
crossing the river.
Artillery was brought into action to force the British back across the
little stream. But it was no use. The Germans had been caught unprepared.
Already Gen. Von Kluck had weakened his defense by sending some of his
men south to take their places in the force with which the Kaiser and his
generals expected to execute their great coup.
Evidently the danger of a sudden attack had not been anticipated by the
German general staff. That the British, without the support of their
French allies, farther to the south, would take the offensive, was a
factor that had apparently been overlooked.
The surprise was practically complete. The British army on the continent
at this time numbered slightly more than 100,000 men. Probably two-thirds
of this whole force was hurled across the Marne in this battle, which,
starting as a skirmish, soon grew into one of the fiercest and bloodiest
struggles of history.
Scotch Highlanders, Irish troops, Sikh legions, recently arrived from
India, British troops from other of her foreign possessions and the
English themselves stood shoulder to shoulder, fighting nobly and driving
back the foe.
But the Germans contested every inch of the ground. Outnumbering the
British as they did, however, they were slowly compelled to retreat, the
British pursuing them relentlessly.
Apparently it was not General French's plan to push the battle too
strongly now. It was merely his intention to deliver such a blow as would
make the coup planned by the Germans impracticable.
For seven solid hours the battle for the opposite shore of the Marne
continued, both sides fighting desperately and heroically. Then, as the
Germans continued to retreat, General French called a halt. The British
fell to work digging trenches in the recently won ground, and preparing
to resist an attack should one be delivered.
This first skirmish on the eastern banks of the Marne, while possibly
unimportant, when viewed in the light of later events, became one of the
greatest factors in the offensive movements of the Allies.
Now that the English had obtained a foothold upon the opposite side they
did not relinquish it, in spite of heavy assaults made by the Kaiser's
troops in the days that were to follow. Passage across the stream for the
rest of the allied army was now comparatively easy, for the English,
already having a foothold, stood ready to drive off the Germans as
And if the action at the Marne was one of the deciding factors in the
offensive movement of the Allies, the credit of it is undoubtedly due
largely to Chester and Hal, who, at the risk of their own lives, enabled
the British troops to catch the Germans in their own trap.
That the boys' value in this important battle was recognized, is
evidenced by the fact, that, when the army once more had come to a halt,
General French summoned the two lads to him, and with a hand on the
shoulder of each, and his whole staff grouped about him, said:
"You have done well! England is proud of her kinsmen!"
It was two days later. The battle was raging fiercely, on all sides men
were dropping singly, in pairs, in tens and in hundreds. Since early
morning, when an advance guard of Germans had approached the British
line, the struggle had continued without a minute's breathing space.
Gradually giving way before the English attacks, the German troops fell
back mile after mile, the English, in the section of the field where the
fighting had been going on, pursuing them closely. Unmindful of their
support on either side, the British still pressed forward, until now they
were far beyond either flank.
Suddenly from either side of the English troops came a thundering volley.
Taken by surprise, the British halted suddenly, while men tumbled to the
earth on every hand.
Before the officer in command could give the order to fall back, a force
of Germans was hurled into their rear, completely cutting them off from
any possible hope of aid from that direction. A thousand men were in this
little force now completely surrounded.
But the officer in command of the British was not of the caliber to
surrender. He was a typical son of Albion, a fighting man, none other
than Captain Harry Anderson, whose part in the expedition across the
Marne had raised him to that rank.
Advancing with his command, he soon found himself the ranking officer
still on his feet. Hal and Chester, who the night before had shared his
quarters, at the call to arms had plunged into the thick of the conflict
alongside the gallant captain. In spite of the terrific carnage, in
spite of the shot and shell that fell about them, they had so far
Perceiving that retreat was cut off, Captain Anderson conceived a
possible escape. With a loud cry of "Forward!" to his men, he dashed
right into the face of a terrible rifle and artillery fire.
Men dropped as though mowed down by the wind, but the little column
halted not. They had spread out, fan-wise, at the command of Captain
Anderson, to avoid as much as possible the sweeping fire of the Germans,
and they now pressed forward at a run.
Completely surprised at this sudden charge by the little body of men,
that the German officers evidently believed entirely in their power, and
still more surprised by their desperate offense in the face of
overwhelming odds, the Germans, for a moment, gave way.
That moment was enough for the success of Captain Anderson's strategy. At
the point of the bayonet the British burst through the German line,
dealing out death on every hand as they did so. A moment and the Germans
rallied, but it was too late.
The British were now through the barrier of steel, and had taken refuge
behind a little ridge. And now the reason for the captain's sudden charge
Directly ahead was a large house, and for this refuge the British dashed
madly. The first man to reach the door tried the knob. The door was
locked. From behind came the plod of the heavy German feet and the sharp
crack of rifles.
There was not a moment to lose. With a swift blow of his rifle butt, the
British soldier smashed in the door, and into this opening the troops
poured. A second squad had dashed around to the rear of the house and
performed a similar operation. In less time than it takes to tell it
injured and uninjured alike were in the house. The ground outside,
however, was strewn with their companions.
Quickly every window in the house was manned, the doors barred. And the
British stood silently awaiting the approach of the enemy, which they
knew would come in a very few minutes.
"If it were not for the artillery we could hold this place indefinitely,"
said Captain Anderson.
"Yes," agreed Chester; "or, if we can manage to hold out till night, we
may be able to get away."
"It is possible, too," said Hal, "that our absence will be noticed and
aid sent to us."
"I'm not banking much on that," replied Captain Anderson, "for, if we
are missed, our loss probably will be put down to the fortunes of war.
It is hardly possible General French would know we are cooped up in
"That's so," said Chester. "Well, we will have to hold on as long as we
can. That's the best we can do."
"Exactly," agreed Hal quietly.
The three approached the window in front of the house on the second
floor. But, even as they neared it, the rifle of the soldier
guarding it spoke.
"Evidently the siege has begun," said Hal grimly. "Poor fellow!" he
added, as one of the men at the window toppled to the floor, a bullet
in his head.
His place was quickly taken by another, and the battle went on. The
firing became fiercer with each passing moment. The British barred the
windows with chairs, tables, and whatever other articles of furniture
they could find, leaving an opening just large enough to poke their
But even this was not enough to keep out all the German bullets.
Still men fell, though not as fast as before. Captain Anderson
assigned Hal to direct the fire of the British in the front of the
first floor and Chester in the rear. The captain took command of the
second floor himself.
The three were everywhere encouraging the men, seemingly being all over
their respective stations at once. Occasionally, as a man fell, Hal or
Chester would step into the breach and hold the place until relieved by
Noon came and went, and still the fighting continued. Apparently, thus
far, the Germans had not conceived the idea of battering the house to
pieces with their big field guns. Evidently they thought they could take
it without this trouble.
And now darkness drew on. The German fire had played havoc with the
defenders, but, if they had suffered severely, the enemy's loss, exposed
as they were to the grilling fire from the house, had been enormous.
Night fell, and with it came a lull in the firing. Hal took advantage
of this respite to hurry upstairs for a word with Captain Anderson. As
they conversed in low tones, they were startled by an outcry from the
Hurriedly descending the stairs, they beheld the cause of the commotion.
Struggling in Chester's arms was a man in civilian garb.
"I caught him just as he was about to open the front door," Chester
The man's struggles were soon quieted, and he stood before Captain
Anderson, pale and trembling.
"What are you doing here?" demanded the latter.
"I was hiding in the cellar," said the man in a shaking voice. "When
you English burst in I didn't know what to do. I remained in my
hiding-place until there was a lull in the fighting. I was afraid I
would be killed if I was found, so I tried to get out the first time I
thought I had a chance."
Captain Anderson looked at him queerly.
"Surely you are not a German?" he asked.
"No, sir," was the reply, "I am French."
"Then what need had you to be afraid of us?"
"Well, you see, sir," was the nervous reply, "I am a peace-loving man. I
don't want to fight, and I won't fight if I can help it."
"A nice specimen of a Frenchman, to be sure," said the captain, with a
sneer. "If you are such a peace-loving man, how does it happen we find
you here? Why haven't you fled with the rest of the old women and
"Well, you see, sir," quavered the man, "I have been hiding here. I was
afraid that if I went to Paris I would be forced to fight."
"And you have been hiding here ever since war broke out?"
"Yes, sir. I have a nice hiding-place downstairs," and he rubbed his
hands in satisfaction.
"And you were not discovered by the Germans?"
"No, sir; and a party of officers were here only yesterday."
"Then, no doubt, you heard their plans. Perhaps you can give us important
"I could, yes, sir," was the reply. "But, if I do, will there be any
pay for me?"
The captain was taken by surprise.
"And you call yourself a Frenchman," he said in contempt. He took a
threatening step forward. "No," he said angrily, "there will be no pay,
but I can promise you that if you don't tell what you know you will be
shot right here and now."
"Oh, sir, you wouldn't do that," said the man in a wheedling voice.
"Wouldn't I?" exclaimed the captain. "You shall see."
He turned to his men, and, in response to a signal, two of them
approached the Frenchman. But the stern tone had convinced the man that
the officer meant what he said.
"I'll tell, sir," he cried, falling on his knees.
Captain Anderson waved his men away.
"Very well," he said coldly, "and see that you make no mistake. If your
information is of no value you shall be shot anyhow."
"But it is, sir," protested the Frenchman.
"All right. Then let's have it."
"The Germans are planning an aeroplane raid on the English," said the
man, in a low voice. "There is a park of aeroplanes hardly two miles from
here, on the road leading to Viviers. They are ready for instant flight."
"What!" exclaimed Captain Anderson. "Are you sure?"
"Perfectly," was the reply. "I heard the German officers talking of it
only yesterday. They said it would deal a death-blow to the English."
"And so it would," said the captain, "unless it can be stopped."
Hal broke suddenly into the conversation.
"Can you point the approximate whereabouts of this park of machines out
to us?" he asked.
"What's your idea?" asked Captain Anderson.
"Simply this," said Hal. "I believe that by a dash we can get through the
Germans. They will not expect it, and, if they did, would not expect us
to go forward. Consequently, the guard in front is not likely to be
vigilant. We have enough men here to make a successful raid on these
machines and destroy them."
"A first-class idea," said the captain. "We'll do it."
A DEED OF DARING.
Quickly the captain formed and outlined a plan. Then, gathering his men
behind him at the door, he prepared for a sortie. Among the troops were a
few engineers, the captain ascertained upon inquiry, and these he placed
at the extreme rear of the little body.
When all was ready, the captain opened the doors and stepped out. Hal and
Chester were right behind him. It was very dark, and, as there was no
light in the house, Germans who were on guard, being a considerable
distance back to avoid the fire of the British defenders, did not at
first make out the forms flitting silently from the house.
Half the little troop had emerged before a single rifle shot, followed by
a volley, gave notice that they had been discovered. Then, at a word from
Captain Anderson, the British charged right at their enemy.
Not a shot was fired until they were at close quarters, in spite of the
fact that the German fire was not ineffective. Then, as the men spread
out in a long line, they blazed forth their answer, and, hard upon this,
charged with the bayonet.
Apparently the Germans had not prepared for such a move on the part of
the enemy, for they gave ground rapidly. The skirmish was brief, with
success to the British.
The Germans in flight, Captain Anderson, Hal and Chester soon found the
Viviers road, and led their men along at double time. The two miles
were covered quickly, and finally the three could make out in the
darkness what appeared to be a factory. Closer approach showed that
this was what it was.
"Must be a temporary affair," said Captain Anderson, in a low voice. "And
what are those objects nearby?"
Hal peered through the darkness.
"Look like armored automobiles to me," he said.
"And so they are," declared Chester. "And there must be twenty of them.
Seems to me an act of providence must have put them there. We couldn't
want anything better to escape in."
"You are right," declared the captain.
The captain now divided his men into three forces, one of which he
commanded, the other two being led by Hal and Chester.
The first column approached to within fifty yards of the automobiles
before being discovered. Then the cry of a German sentry rang out.
At the word of command, the British opened fire, and again charged with
fixed bayonets. But the German guard was strong, and evidently had been
on the alert against a possible surprise.
A rapid-fire gun stationed near the automobiles opened fire. The first
column of men was literally annihilated, Captain Anderson himself going
to the ground with a severe wound in his chest. Not one of the troopers
reached the automobile.
Seeing what had happened to the first column, Hal and Chester were more
wary. They approached from two directions, and, before the machine-gun
could be turned upon them, were at hand grips with the enemy.
A squad of men hurled themselves upon the German gunners, and this weapon
spoke no more. Then the British advanced upon the aviators, who stood
near to guard their machines.
Both sides were fighting in small groups, and at once began a fierce
interchange of shots at a distance of fifteen yards. The airmen, who were
crouching along the edge of the road, answered the British fire with
great bravery and vigor.
While this fighting was in progress, the detachments of engineers, which
had been in the extreme rear of the British columns, armed with
improvised tools, hurled themselves upon the aeroplanes. With sure blows
from their rifle butts, and whatever other implements they could lay
hands on nearby, they destroyed the motors, the gasoline reservoirs and
the running gear of the German machines.
At this moment one of the armored automobiles burst into flames. A fierce
red glare shot high into the air, lighting up the scene of carnage with
While the little column commanded by Chester now withdrew a short
distance, the lad having ordered this in the hope that he might find
Captain Anderson still alive, Hal, with the comparatively few remaining
men, advanced to one of the armored automobiles, in which stood a German
officer, directing his men.
The officer opened fire on these few British with an automatic revolver.
Two men fell. Hal felt a bullet graze his arm, but not before he had
discharged his own weapon against the chest of his opponent, who fell to
the ground, fatally wounded.
A second German, whom Hal had not noticed in the machine before, brought
his rifle-butt down over Hal's head. But the lad's quick eye had seen
the descending weapon, and his upraised arm warded off the blow. His
left arm, however, fell to his side numb, and he stumbled and fell to
He was up in a moment, and sprang upon the German, one arm still hanging
by his side, and his revolver gone. The German brought his rifle to bear,
but, stepping quickly forward, the lad struck up the weapon, even as the
German pressed the trigger.
With a quick leap Hal was in the automobile, and was grappling with the
German trooper. The German, unable to use his rifle at such close
quarters, struck out with his fist. Hal dodged and his opponent drew back
with a cry of pain. His fist had struck the steel side of the car, and
his arm was now useless.
The two were now on even terms. The German reached out and attempted to
entwine his fingers in Hal's throat, but the lad was too quick for him.
Dodging suddenly, he came up under the other's chin, and sent him
spinning head over heels from the car, so fierce was the contact.
Then the lad turned his eyes to other sections of the field. He could
see no signs of an enemy. Evidently the Germans had had enough, or
were awaiting the arrival of reinforcements before renewing the fight,
for they had no way of determining the strength of the British
In any event, Hal realized that there was no time to lose. Leaping from
the car, he ordered the few men who were left to man the waiting
automobiles, quickly ascertaining that there were enough men capable of
driving them. Then he set out to hunt Chester and Captain Anderson.
He found Chester on his knee, supporting the unconscious form of
"Hurry, Chester, get him into this car," he ordered. "We'll have to get
out of here at once."
He helped the men lift the unconscious British officer into one of the
automobiles, leaped in himself, and took the wheel.
Five of the other cars also were ready to go, each containing twenty men,
all that was left of the thousand who had made a dash for the farmhouse
in the morning.
Hal gave his orders slowly and tersely.
"Follow me, single file," he called to his men, "until I give the word to
close up. Then range right alongside of me. We will go as swiftly as
possible, and try to get through the German lines without a fight, if by
any chance it is possible. However, if we have to make a quick dash and
fight, it would be better to do it side by side, and plow right into the
enemy. Do you understand?"
The driver of each car signified that he understood perfectly, and Hal
started his car off slowly. The others fell in line, and soon all were
moving along at a brisk pace.
Hal found time to call back over his shoulder to Chester:
"How is the captain?"
"I fear he is in pretty bad shape," was the reply; but, even at that
moment, the captain showed signs of returning consciousness.
He stirred a little and moaned feebly. Then he raised his head.
"Where am I?" he demanded.
Slowly and carefully Chester explained the situation to him.
"And was the raid a success?" he asked. "Were the German aeroplanes
"Yes, every one of them," replied Chester.
"Good! Now, give me a rifle, or a revolver, or something. I know we can't
get through the Germans without a fight, and I want to do my part."
In vain did Chester protest. Captain Anderson insisted, and at length
Chester was forced to comply.
As the five automobiles, containing not more than a hundred British all
told, approached the center of the German force, each man determined to
get through to the allied lines or to die in the attempt.
A DASH FOR LIBERTY.
Swiftly the high-powered armored motor-cars rushed on, drawing closer and
closer to the solid ranks of the enemy. Not expecting trouble from within
their own lines, the Germans were not on the lookout for this spectacular
dash, and so were caught unprepared.
Hal gave the prearranged signal. The other cars increased their speed and
drew up to him, two on either side. At a second signal they increased
their speed to the utmost, and dashed forward.
The Germans lay sprawled about, the close formation having been more or
less broken following the morning fight. The five speeding monsters were
upon them almost before they realized it. As the cars approached the
first irregular line of troopers, the British in the machines opened
fire. In spite of their terrific speed, their aim was good. Germans
tumbled right and left, or fell back as they attempted to rise.
Then the machines plowed in among them, hurling them helter-skelter on
all sides, the occupants continuing their destructive fire.
But now the Germans opened fire, and, in spite of the fact that the speed
of the flying automobiles made accurate shooting impossible, the British
did not escape scot-free. Three men in one of the machines to the left of
the one driven by Hal dropped their rifles and sank to the bottom of the
car. In one on the opposite side a soldier threw up his hands and tumbled
from the car.
Hal, protected as he was on either side, had not been touched, nor had
Chester, who stood erect the while, firing rapidly with his automatic.
Suddenly the car nearest the lads on the left swerved, and almost bumped
into them; in fact, would have done so, but for Hal's promptness in
turning slightly to the right. The driver of the car had been struck by a
German bullet and killed.
The driverless machine, swerving suddenly to the left, leaped forward
ahead of the others, turned suddenly to the right again, and plunged
straight toward the dense masses of Germans, the British inside still
shooting as calmly as though they stood on firm ground, although it
was plainly evident to them that the wild car was carrying them to
All this the boys could see at a glance, but they quickly passed beyond,
and so did not see the gallant fate of their comrades.
Plunging straight into the dense masses of Germans, the gallant machine
leaped upon them like a thing of life, hurling them off on all sides, and
running amuck over their prostrate forms. Then, with another sudden turn
to the left, it sped directly toward a group of officers, who stood
nearby directing the firing. So sudden was this unexpected turn that the
officers were run down before they could move from their tracks.
Then the machine darted straight at a German field battery.
It was a fatal move, for a German gunner sprang forward--there was a
fearful roar--a loud explosion, a cloud of smoke, and, when the smoke had
cleared away, there was no automobile to be seen--nothing but wreckage
and a few maimed bodies scattered about.
But Hal and his companions were having troubles of their own. Even at the
moment that the first car disappeared in smoke, the driver of a second
sprang to his feet, waved his arms about, as he wildly gasped for air,
and tumbled overboard. The machine, now wild, turned and crashed into its
There was a terrific crash, and both cars turned turtle. Came a cry of
triumph from the Germans, but Hal and the driver of the other remaining
car paid no heed; rather, if possible, their cars leaped ahead faster
But the herculean task the lads had set out to accomplish was too much.
In spite of the fact that the Germans had been taken by surprise, their
numbers were so great that the success of such a dash was impossible.
Straight ahead the boys made out a regiment, drawn up with leveled
rifles. In one last desperate attempt to break through, Hal and the
driver of the other car dashed into them.
A blow from the butt of a German rifle knocked the driver of the second
car from his seat as he swept past, and the machine, turning round and
round, like a huge top, suddenly turned over, pinioning its occupants
A second later and Hal felt a sharp sting in his left hand. In spite of
the desperate attempt he made to keep the machine steady, it rocked from
side to side at the sudden loosening of his hand.
Fearing that all would be killed if he did not stop the machine, the lad
threw off the clutch and applied the brakes. Then, in the center of a
large force of Germans, who came rushing in upon them, the lad stood up
in the machine, and, raising his uninjured hand, shouted:
A German officer called a hoarse command, and the long line of
threatening rifles was lowered.
"Come out of there," called the officer, "and be quick about it."
Hal did as commanded, and a moment later Chester also was on the ground.
Turning back to the machine, they tenderly lifted Captain Anderson out
and laid him on the ground. He had fainted during the wild ride.
Hal turned to the German officer.
"Will you please see that my friend," indicating the captain, "receives
medical attention at once?"
"It shall be done immediately," returned the German officer gravely, and
motioned to two of his men to carry the unconscious captain to a nearby
hospital tent. Then he turned to Hal and Chester.
"Do you know that you have created terrible havoc in our ranks?"
Hal smiled grimly.
"That is what we intended to do," he made reply. "However, we wouldn't
have done so had you permitted us to return to our lines in peace."
The German officer also smiled faintly.
"You are bold lads," he said quietly. "Come, I will take you to General
The lads followed the officer, and presently came before the German
commander, the man whose great military genius some days later saved his
wing of the army from probable annihilation.
Standing beside the German commander was another officer, somewhat
younger, recognizing whom, Hal's heart leaped into his throat. This
second officer was none other than the man who, some days before, had
placed in Hal's hands dispatches for General Von Kluck--papers that,
through Hal's bravery, had been turned over to General French, and had
thus foiled the coup planned by the Kaiser himself.
The German recognized Hal almost immediately, in spite of his British
uniform. He stepped forward, and, with a sneering smile, said:
"How do you do, Captain Dersam?"
General Von Kluck, who had been looking silently at the two lads, turned
to the officer.
"You know these prisoners?" he questioned.
"Well, I know one of them," was the reply. "That is, I thought I did
once. It seems that I was mistaken."
"This," said the German, pointing to Hal, "is the young man to whom I
told you I delivered the dispatches intended for you. He represented
himself to me as Captain Dersam, of your staff. Later we found Captain
Dersam gagged and bound on the banks of the Marne. Therefore, this
officer must be a traitor."
General Von Kluck rose to his feet excitedly.
"So," he exclaimed, "you are the man whom we have to thank for the
defeat of our plan, eh?" He turned to the officer. "And you say he was
in German uniform?"
The general turned to Hal.
"Do you know what that means?" he asked.
Hal nodded his head.
"It means," continued the general, "that you are a spy. You shall pay
"But," Hal protested, "I was not captured within your lines in German
uniform nor in disguise. You cannot treat me as a spy."
"I can't, eh?" cried General Von Kluck angrily. "Well, you shall see."
"The boy is right," came a stern voice from behind him, and, turning, Hal
started back in amazement.
"The Emperor!" he cried.
And from other throats in the group came the time-worn salutation:
"_Hoch der Kaiser_!"
"Yes," continued the Emperor of Germany, "the boy is right. He has
spoiled our plans, I will admit; but it takes a brave man to wander into
our lines as he did. It takes a brave one to have made a dash in the
armored cars I have just witnessed; and it takes a brave man to raid
right into the heart of our arms and destroy twenty-five aeroplanes, as I
have no doubt he did."
"What," exclaimed all the German officers in the tent, "the aeroplanes
"Yes," continued the emperor, "and with them another opportunity to deal
a death-blow to the English." Then, turning to Hal: "I have no doubt that
you were concerned in that--am I right?"
"Yes, your majesty," said the lad.
"I thought so," said the emperor, and he turned again to General
"The lad is perfectly right when he says that he was not captured in
disguise. No doubt he was within our lines in German uniform, but, as he
was not captured, he cannot be executed as a spy. Do you understand?"
"Yes, sire," said General Von Kluck, bowing low.
"It seems to me," went on the Kaiser, "that rather than spend so much
time looking for spies to put to death, it would be advantageous if some
of my officers would expend their energies in looking more carefully
after my interests."
Once more the emperor turned to Hal.
"If I mistake not," he said, "you are an American. Am I right?"
"Yes, sire," said Hal.
"Then how comes it that you are fighting for Great Britain?"
Hal explained the misfortunes by which they had been left in Germany, and
of how, eventually, they had taken service with the Allies.
"And who is your friend?" asked the Kaiser, pointing to Chester.
"Chester Crawford, sire," replied Hal, "my boyhood chum."
"And the wounded man?"
"An English officer, your majesty," said Hal, "and a brave one."
"I have found that all the British are brave," said the Kaiser grimly. "I
was misinformed as to their attitude in this crisis," and the Kaiser's
voice grew harsh; "it was not the only subject on which I was
His words were clearly intended for the officers, more than for Hal.
He was silent for some moments, and then to General Von Kluck:
"General, I will take these lads to my own quarters. I desire to question
them on matters pertaining to their own country. You will send a guard
for them in two hours."
"Yes, sire," said General Von Kluck.
The Kaiser motioned to Hal and Chester.
"Follow me," he commanded.
Surrounded by his personal bodyguard, and with Hal and Chester close
behind him, the emperor made his way to his own handsome and luxurious
Inside the tent he motioned the two lads to seats.
"Now, tell me," he said, "what is the general sentiment in America toward
Germany? Where is the general sympathy in this war?"
He had addressed Hal, so the latter replied, Chester maintaining a
"We were not in America when the war broke out, your majesty," he said,
"but I believe that I am right when I say that the sympathies of the
United States, generally speaking, are with the Allies."
The Kaiser nodded his head.
"I was afraid so," he said. "But why?"
"As to why, I can't say," replied Hal. "Chiefly, I suppose, because it is
an English-speaking country."
"I suppose that is true," said the emperor, "and still there are many
more persons of German descent in the United States than of any other
nationality. Do the people of the United States believe that Germany
brought about this war?"
"From what I have heard from Canadian officers and some others, I am
afraid they do, your majesty," said Hal.
"It is not true," thundered the Kaiser, bringing his clenched fist down
heavily on the table. "I tell you it is not true. Do you understand? It
is not true. I did all in my power to prevent this war. It is Czar
Nicholas of Russia who is to blame. He and his Slavs would overrun
Germany. But, with the help of God, I shall prevent it. I will not be
called the war lord of Europe for nothing!"
Hal and Chester were startled at this sudden outburst. Neither realized
that Hal was, perhaps, the only person who had dared to stand before the
German monarch and tell him to his face that he had not the sympathy of
the whole world, and that he was held responsible for the greatest war of
Now the Kaiser was talking to himself, his fists still clenched, and he
tapped nervously on the table, as he muttered:
"They have lied to me. Yes, they have lied to me. They told me that few
held me to blame, that the sympathy of the world was with me. I thought
they lied then. I am sure of it now."
Suddenly he ceased talking, and turned to the table, where he was soon
engrossed in looking over some papers and maps. So he sat, utterly
disregarding the presence of the two American boys; nor did they venture
to interrupt his profound study, until two hours later. General Von Kluck
sent the guard ordered by the Kaiser to take them away. When the officer
in charge of the squad made known his commission, the emperor signified
his consent with a nod of his head. He addressed no further words to Hal
"I am commanded," said the German officer, "to take you to my tent and
see that you are well guarded, until it is decided what disposition is to
be made of you."
In a large and commodious tent the boys were made comfortable, and a
guard stationed around the outside. Then the officer took himself away to
make his report to the general.
"Well," said Chester, "they have got us this time, and I don't see any
way of escape. Here we are, right in the heart of the German army, and we
might just as well be in the Sahara desert, as far as our chances go of
getting back to our own lines."
"Don't be so downhearted," said Hal. "More peculiar things have happened.
We are at least in no danger of being shot. I suppose we should be
thankful for that."
"Yes, I suppose we should," Chester agreed. "But just the same I would
like to be back where we belong."
"Well, you can't tell," said Hal. "We may be able to give them the
slip. However, I would be opposed to any plan that did not have a good
chance of success. For, if we failed, I am sure they would shoot us
"There is no doubt of that," said Chester. "Von Kluck would do it anyhow,
if he didn't fear the heavy hand of the Kaiser. By the way, what do you
think of the Kaiser, anyhow?"
"Well," said Hal slowly, "I believe, in the first place, that he takes
himself too seriously. I believe that he considers himself the chosen
instrument of Heaven to put down the Slavs, to say nothing of the French
and English. He has the mistaken idea that he is a man of destiny."
"Yes," agreed Chester, "there is no doubt that he thinks he is right and
the whole world wrong."
Further talk was interrupted by the return of the German officer.
"You are to remain here for the next few days," he informed them. "As the
emperor has interested himself in your behalf, General Von Kluck is
awaiting further word from him as to what to do with you. Right now the
emperor will not talk. He is busy with his maps and papers, and, when he
is busy, no one dare disturb him."
"And what do you suppose will be done with us eventually?" asked Chester.
"Why," was the reply, "I suppose you will be treated as all other
prisoners of war. You probably will be sent to Berlin."
"Back to Berlin!" exclaimed Chester in deep disgust.
"Back to Berlin!" repeated Hal, and he punctured his exclamation with a
long whistle. "Great Scott!"
A NEW FRIEND.
It was indeed a sad word to the ears of the two young American lads. As
Hal said, they had had trouble enough getting out of Berlin at the
outbreak of the war, and had almost been forced back to the German
capital once before. To be prisoners of war in Berlin certainly would be
an inglorious finish to their military careers.
"I would rather go to any one other spot on the map," Chester told his
chum. "Berlin! Can you imagine being cooped up there and never even
knowing what is going on?"
"It would be tough," Hal agreed. "And, once there, I am afraid we would
have to stay until after the war. I don't imagine there is much danger of
anyone escaping from that place now."
"Nor I," said Chester. "If we hope to get away, we shall have to do it
before we get to Berlin."
But it seemed that the lads, if they had any hopes of escape, were doomed
to disappointment. They were carefully guarded, and, while they were made
comfortable, there was never a moment that they were not beneath some
Several times they were allowed to leave their canvas prison and stroll
about outside, but on each of these excursions the German officer in
whose custody they had been placed accompanied them; and finally from
General Von Kluck came the order for them to be sent to Berlin.
"I sort of hate to see you go," the German officer told them, upon
informing them of their fate. "We have gotten along famously together.
However, I am sure you will be well treated in Berlin, and that when you
are released at the end of the war you will be able to deny some of the
tales of German cruelty to their prisoners."
"From the treatment we already have received we can deny them
now," said Hal.
"Indeed we can," Chester agreed.
"Come," continued the officer, "what do you say to a little walk around?
You will not start on your journey until to-night."
Accompanied by their guard the boys once more started on an excursion
through the huge German camp. For an hour or more they walked about,
discussing the war in its various phases, but finally the officer told
them that it was time for him to report for duty, and they started back
toward their temporary prison.
As they were walking slowly along a large gray shape came bounding toward
them. Almost in front of them it came to a stop. It was a dog.
Hal reached forth a hand and patted the animal on the head, and the dog's
tail wagged in friendship. But when the German officer also stretched
forth a hand, he uttered a menacing growl.
"He must be one of your French war dogs," said the German with a laugh,
quickly withdrawing his hand. "We have captured a large number of them,
and, in spite of the fact that we treat them as well as we know how, they
will have nothing to do with us."
At that moment another German officer approached the trio, and, as he
came closer, the dog snarled and showed his teeth. The German drew back
his foot, and, before anyone could interfere, kicked the animal sharply
in the ribs.
But the German paid dearly for this act, for, with one quick bound, the
dog leaped upon his assailant, and, snarling fiercely, bore him to the
ground. Hal, Chester and their officer friend jumped quickly forward,
and, after a sharp tussle, succeeded in dragging the dog off, though not
until he had considerably shaken up his victim, even drawing blood from a
wound in his throat.
With a fierce imprecation, the German reached for his revolver, drew it
quickly, and aimed it at the dog. But, before he could pull the trigger,
Chester leaped forward, and, with a quick movement of his arm, knocked
the weapon from the German's hand.
The German turned angrily on the lad.
"What do you mean by that?" he demanded, in a rage.
"You won't shoot him while I am here," cried Chester, also aroused.
"What business is it of yours whether I shoot him or not?"
"You try it again and I'll show you what business it is of mine, if the
whole German army is standing round," shouted Chester furiously.
Hal grabbed his friend by the coat and attempted to pull him back, but
Chester was too angry now to pay any heed, and he stood facing the German
At this point the other officer evidently decided it was time to
"Come, come," he said to Chester. "That's enough of this. I am sure
Lieutenant Dennig meant no harm. I'm sure he'll apologize if he has said
or done anything to displease you."
"What! Me apologize?" demanded the German. "And what for, pray?"
"I don't want any apology," declared Chester. "All I want is for him to
understand he can't shoot a dumb animal while I'm around."
"Is that so?" sneered the German, but the boys' guard cut him short.
"Lieutenant Dennig," he said sharply, "you forget yourself. These
prisoners are under my protection and shall not be insulted."
The lieutenant drew himself up sharply, saluted his superior officer, and
walked rapidly away.
"One more enemy," said Chester to Hal, as the man made off.
"Oh, he'll get over it," laughed the boys' guard. "He knows he is in the
wrong--that's what makes him so angry."
The object of this little unpleasantness still stood near, wagging his
tail and looking at the two lads. When they continued their walk toward
their tent, he calmly followed them.
The lads did not notice this, however, until they had entered the tent,
and then Hal espied the nose of their newly-found friend poking its way
in after them. A moment later and the dog was curled up at one side of
the tent, sleeping.
"Looks like there were three of you to guard now, instead of two," said
the officer. "However, I guess it is all right."
"I wonder if it would be possible," said Chester, struck with a sudden
thought, "for us to take him to Berlin with us?"
"I'll see what can be done about it," replied the officer. "I believe
that I can arrange it all right."
"We certainly would appreciate it," continued Chester, "and, if the time
ever comes when we may be of service to you, you may command us." The
"I doubt if you will ever have the opportunity," he said. "Present
circumstances would indicate that there is little likelihood of it."
"Well, you never can tell," said Hal, "the fortunes of war, you know."
"True," said the German, "and, if ever occasion arises, I shall take you
at your word."