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The Boy Allies in Great Peril by Clair W. Hayes

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Or, With the Italian Army in the Alps



Author of "The Boy Allies at Liege," "The Boy Allies on the Firing Line."
"The Boy Allies with the Cossacks," "The Boy Allies in the Trenches."




"Did you ever see such a mob, Hal?"

The speaker was an American lad of some seventeen years of age. He
stopped in his walk as he spoke and grasped his companion by the arm.
The latter allowed his gaze to rove over the thousands upon thousands
of people who thronged the approach to the king's palace at Rome,
before he replied:

"Some mob, Chester; some mob."

"Looks like a real army could be recruited from this bunch," continued
the first speaker.

"Rather," agreed the other. "And unless I am mightily mistaken that is
what will be done. Most of them are soldiers anyhow, you know."

"True. I had forgotten we were in Italy, where military service is
compulsory. Then you think that Italy has at last decided to enter the

"I certainly do. The Chamber of Deputies has done its best to keep Italy
from becoming involved, but the voice of the people must be heeded sooner
or later. I believe the time has come."

"I am sure I hope so," said Chester. "Italy's army, entirely ready for
any eventuality, should turn the balance in favor of the Allies."

"And I believe it will," said Hal.

"Do you believe the announcement of a state of war between Italy and
Austria will be formally made to-day?"

"I do--and so, apparently, do the others here," and Hal swept his arm
about him in a comprehensive gesture. "Hear them shout!"

For a mighty cheer had suddenly risen upon the air. Wildly excited
Italians--men and women from all walks of life--seemed to have gone
suddenly mad. A deafening roar filled the air. Caps and hats, canes, and
other articles ascended and descended in a dense cloud.

"Can you doubt, after that, that Italy is for war?" asked Hal, when at
last he could make himself heard.

"I guess not," replied Chester grimly. "But why should the crowd have
gathered in front of the palace rather than before the Chamber of

"You forget that the premier is closeted with the king," returned Hal.
"In all probability, the first word of a definite step will emanate from
the palace, though unofficially, of course."

"I see," said Chester. "Well--look there, Hal!"

"What's the matter?" demanded the latter, eying his companion in
some surprise.

Chester seized his friend's arm with one hand and with the other pointed
directly ahead. Hal gazed in the direction indicated. He saw at once what
had caused Chester's sudden exclamation.

Not five yards away, right in the center of the dense crowd, but still in
view of the two boys, stood an Italian army officer in full uniform. He
was gazing straight ahead toward the palace steps, paying no heed to
those who pushed and jostled him. He stood erect, with arms folded upon
his breast.

Even as the two boys looked, an arm came from behind him, and reaching
across his shoulder, a hand crept cautiously into the pocket of the
officer's military cloak, which he had thrown open because of its warmth.

Hal uttered a low exclamation and was about to step forward when there
came a sudden shout from the crowd, which surged in about him, cutting
off his view of the Italian officer. For a single instant Hal turned his
eyes toward the palace and there took one look at a second uniformed
figure, who stood upon the top step and waved his arms about violently.

"I guess war has come," the boy muttered to himself, as he took a step
forward and elbowed his way toward the spot where the other Italian
officer stood.

Chester came close behind his friend.

By dint of hard pushing and shoving, which drew ugly remarks from some of
the bystanders upon whose feet they trod, the boys at last came to the
spot they sought. They had made good time and the invisible owner of the
hand that had explored the officer's pocket was just withdrawing it. And
in it Hal saw a white paper flutter.

He uttered a cry and dashed forward in spite of the crowd. At almost the
same moment the officer came to life. Instinct must have warned him that
there was something wrong. He clapped his hand to his pocket, and then
uttered a fierce ejaculation in his native tongue.

He wheeled about with a cry, and his arm shot out. There was a struggle,
and then the officer fell to the ground. A blow from his adversary's fist
had laid him low. Hal, who was a few leaps ahead of Chester, reached out
to seize the man, who, he could see, still held the bit of white paper in
his hand, but the other was too quick for him.

With a sudden backward leap he was among the crowd, which, apparently,
had failed to grasp the significance of the trouble. Hal uttered a quick
cry to Chester and also dashed into the crowd. Chester followed him.

Ahead, but almost hidden by others of the crowd, which pressed forward
the better to see what was going on upon the palace steps, Hal could see
his quarry squirming his way through the dense mass of humanity.

"Stop him!" he cried, raising his voice to a shout.

The crowd paid no heed. The people were too wrapped up in what was going
on before the palace to notice the three who were trying to force their
way through. Again Hal cried out, but the result was the same.

For a brief instant the fugitive glanced over his shoulder, and he waved
a hand at Hal. It was the first time the lad had seen his face, and he
knew that he would recognize it again wherever he saw it.

"I'll get you yet," declared Hal to himself between tightly shut lips.
"I'll get you if it takes a year."

He pressed on, with Chester close at his heels.

Turning and squirming and twisting their way, the lads managed to plod on
through the dense crowd at a snail's pace. Ahead of them, however, Hal
could see that the fugitive was making about the same progress. His hopes
rose, and he called over his shoulder to Chester;

"Keep coming; we'll get him!"

Chester made no reply, for he knew none was expected. He kept close
behind his friend.

Now, suddenly, the fugitive reached the edge of the crowd. For a single
moment he paused, and gazed back at his pursuers. Once more he waved a
hand at Hal, and then, turning, started off at a run.

Hal, seeing that his quarry was about to make good his escape, suddenly
grew angry. Bringing some tactics learned on the football field into
play, he dashed forward, hurling spectators to right and left. In
another moment he, too, had reached the edge of the crowd and, with a
cry, dashed ahead.

He did not pause to see whether Chester was behind him. All he thought of
was to overtake the fugitive.

Chester, in attempting to follow his friend, stumbled over an
outstretched foot and fell heavily to the ground. He was not badly hurt,
but he had struck on his face and for a moment he was dazed. He dragged
himself quickly to his feet and moved forward again. Some distance ahead
he saw that Hal was gaining upon the fugitive.

Down the wide street ran the fugitive, with Hal close behind and gaining
at every stride. As the sound of pursuing footsteps became plainer, the
man looked back over his shoulder. Then he redoubled his efforts; but
still Hal gained.

Suddenly the man dashed around a corner. Three seconds later Hal did the
same. As he did so he caught sight of a big man before him. Hal tried to
check his pace, but it was too late.

Something bright flashed in the sunlight and Hal felt a sickening thud
upon his head. In vain he tried to keep his feet. He sank slowly to the
ground and then fell forward on his face. And even as he lost
consciousness, he thought to himself:

"What a fool I was. I should have suspected a trap. So he hit me with the
butt of a revolver. I'll get even yet."

Above the fallen lad the man stood with a grim smile of satisfaction. He
stirred the prostrate form with his foot and then put his revolver back
in his pocket. He turned to go.

At that moment Chester dashed around the corner. The lad and the fugitive
took in the situation at the same moment. Chester pulled himself up short
and reached for his revolver, which he always carried in his coat pocket.
But the other was too quick for him. He leaped suddenly forward and
Chester's arm was seized in a vise-like grip.

In vain the lad struggled to free himself. He could not move the powerful
fingers that gripped him. He kicked out with his right foot and this
effort was rewarded by a cry of pain from his opponent.

"Kick me on the shins, will you?" cried the latter in German.

His free hand found the revolver in his pocket and it flashed in the
sunlight once more. He attempted to reverse the weapon and seize it by
the barrel, and as he did so he unconsciously loosened his grip upon
Chester's arm.

The latter swung himself about suddenly and with a sweep of his arm sent
the man's revolver clattering to the ground. The other uttered an
exclamation of rage, and stepped back.

Chester again reached for his own revolver, but once more the other was
too quick for him. He came forward with a jump, and his right fist shot
out. Chester ducked this blow, but he was unprepared for the left-handed
blow that followed.

As he came up after ducking the first blow, the second caught him
squarely upon the point of the chin, and he toppled over. It was a
clean knockout.

"I guess that will settle you," said the victor, as he surveyed the
prostrate forms of his two enemies. "I guess that will teach you not to
interfere in other people's business. Hello, one of them is moving."

He gazed curiously at Hal, who at that moment opened his eyes. The man
stood undecided a moment. Then he took a step toward the boy, but
stopped again.

"No," he muttered. "What's the use? Let him be."

He swung upon his heel and made his way down the street. A moment later
he was lost to sight around a corner.



While Hal and Chester are still upon the ground and consciousness is
gradually returning, it will be well to introduce a few words concerning
them, that those who have not made their acquaintance before may learn
just what sort of boys our heroes are.

Hal Paine and Chester Crawford were typical American boys. With the
former's mother, they had been in Berlin when the great European
conflagration broke out and had been stranded there. Mrs. Paine had been
able to get out of the country, but Hal and Chester were left behind.

In company with Major Raoul Derevaux, a Frenchman, and Captain Harry
Anderson, an Englishman, they finally made their way into Belgium, where
they arrived in time to take part in the heroic defense of Liége in the
early stages of the war. Here they rendered such invaluable service to
the Belgian commander that they were commissioned lieutenants in the
little army of King Albert.

Both in fighting and in scouting they had proven their worth. Following
the first Belgian campaign, the two lads had seen service with the
British troops on the continent, where they were attached to the staff of
General Sir John French, in command of the English forces. Also they had
won the respect and admiration of General Joffre, the French

As related in the third book of this series, "The Boy Allies with the
Cossacks," Hal and Chester had seen active service under the Russian Bear
in the eastern theater of war. They fought in the midst of the Russian
forces and were among the troop of 60,000 that made the first wild dash
over the Carpathians to the plains of Hungary.

Returning to the western war area with despatches from the Grand Duke
Nicholas to the French commander-in-chief, they had again taken up their
duties with the British army. As related in "The Boy Allies in the
Trenches," they had been instrumental in defeating more than one German
coup, and it was through them, also, that a plot to assassinate President
Poincaré had failed.

Both lads were about the same age. Large and strong, they were proficient
in the use of their fists and of the art of swordsmanship, and were
entirely familiar with firearms. Another thing that stood them in good
stead was the fact that both spoke French and German fluently. Also, each
had a smattering of Italian.

Following their coup in saving the French president from the hands of
traitorous Apaches in Paris, Hal and Chester had come to Rome with their
mothers, whom they had found in Paris, and Chester's uncle. They had not
come without protest, for both had been eager to get back to the firing
line, but their mothers' entreaties had finally prevailed. As Chester's
Uncle John had said, "This is none of our war. Your place, boys, is with
your mothers."

Chester and Hal had sought consent to rejoin the army in vain. Neither
Mrs. Paine nor Mrs. Crawford would hear of such a thing. So at last they
agreed to return home. First, however, at Uncle John's suggestion, the
party decided to stop in Rome.

"Italy is still a sane and peaceable country," Uncle John had said.

Naturally the lads had been greatly interested in the war demonstrations
in Rome. Uncle John, who at first had "pooh-poohed" the prospect of
Italy's entering the war, finally had been convinced that such a course
was only a matter of time. Mrs. Paine and Mrs. Crawford, realizing how
greatly interested their sons were becoming, immediately decided to
return to America. They feared that some harm would come to Hal and
Chester--feared that the boys might be drawn into trouble again--for they
both knew their dispositions not to shirk danger.

The war situation at this time was anything but favorable to the
Allies. Along the great western battle line, stretching out from the
North Sea far to the south, the mighty armies were gripped in a
deadlock. Occasional advances would be made by both sides and retreats
would follow.

Having pushed the invader back from the very walls of Paris soon after
the outbreak of hostilities, the French had shoved him across the Aisne
and then across the Marne. But here the allied offensive halted. Grand
assaults and heroic charges proved ineffectual. The Kaiser's troops were
strongly intrenched and could not be dislodged. On their side, the
Allies' positions were equally impregnable and repeated assaults by the
enemy had failed to shake their lines.

In the eastern theater of war the Russians, at this moment, were meeting
with some success. Several large Austrian strongholds had been captured
after the bloodiest fighting of the war, and it was believed that it
would only be a question of a few weeks until the Russian Grand Duke
would develop his long-expected invasion of Hungary.

In the north of the eastern war arena, also, the Russians had met with
some success, Poland had been invaded, and around Warsaw the great German
drive had been checked. The sea was still free of German ships, with the
exception of the submarines which still continued to prey upon all
commerce, neutral as well as Allies'.

The situation in the Balkan states remained unchanged. It was hoped that
the Balkan countries would rally to the support of the Allies, and thus
form an iron ring about the Germanic powers, but this matter was no
nearer a successful issue than it had been months before. However,
diplomats of both sides were still busy in the Balkans, and each hoped to
gain their support.

But for the last few weeks all eyes had been turned toward Italy. A
member of the Austro-German Triple Alliance at the beginning of the war,
Italy had refused to support a war of aggression by the Kaiser and had
severed her connection with the Alliance. She had announced that she
would remain neutral.

At length, however, matters reached such a pass that Italy realized she
must cast her lot with the Allies. She knew that should the Germans
emerge from the war victorious she had all to lose and nothing to gain.
The first act of the successful German army would be to crush her.
Besides, there had always been antagonism between Austria and Italy,
and the drawing of Italy into the Triple Alliance in the first place
was considered an act of trickery. Austria and Italy could have nothing
in common.

The people of Italy demanded that she throw her military as well as her
moral support to the Allies. The matter had been threshed out in the
Chamber of Deputies. Wild anti-German and anti-Austrian demonstrations
were almost daily occurrences in the streets of Rome and other of the
larger Italian cities. The people wanted war. Here was the one country of
all the powers engaged in the mighty conflict that could truthfully say:
"This is a popular war."

At the instigation of the Kaiser, Austria had agreed to make many
concessions to Italy in return for her neutrality. She agreed to almost
anything. But the Italian government was not fooled. Austria would yield
anything at the present time, and then, with the aid of her powerful
ally, Germany, at the close of the war, take it away from Italy again.

So the Italian people and the Italian government decided upon war on the
side of the Allies. Millions of trained fighting men, fresh from the
rigors of the recent Turkish war, were ready to take the field at almost
a moment's notice. The reserves had already been ordered to the colors.
The Italian fleet was ready for action.

There was now no question that Italy would enter the war. The chief topic
of interest was as to where she would strike first. Would she send an
army to join the French and British troops recently landed on the
Gallipoli peninsula and a portion of her fleet to help force the
Dardanelles, or would she strike first at Austria, and if so, would the
first blow be delivered by her fleet in the Adriatic, or to the north,
upon the border, and through the Alps?

The Chamber of Deputies had been in continuous session now for almost two
days. It was known that upon the result of this conference hinged the
issue, peace or war. The chamber was still in session, but the Premier
had left and sought King Victor Emmanuel at the palace for a

News of this kind travels quickly. The great mob which had assembled
outside the Chamber of Deputies wended its way to the palace, where it
stood awaiting some word of what action was to be taken. The people knew
that the answer would not be long coming.

Hal Paine and Chester Crawford were standing in the midst of this crowd
when this story opens. They had just left their mothers and Uncle John at
their hotel, announcing that they would get the latest war news. The two
women had offered no objection, but Uncle John had instructed them:

"Don't be gone long, boys. Remember we leave in the morning, and we
expect you to do your share of the packing."

So the two lads had strolled out and joined the crowd.

When they had decided to return to America, each lad had carefully
packed his British uniform, so they were now in civilian clothes. This
was a matter of some regret to them, for they had been proud of their
uniforms, and not without cause, and even as they walked along to-day
Chester had remarked:

"We should have our uniforms on, Hal."

"Why?" demanded the latter.

"Well, just look at all these Italian officers. It makes me feel lonesome
to be without my uniform."

Hal laughed.

"By Jove! it does at that," he agreed. "I can sympathize with the soldier
who has such an absolute disgust for a civilian. You know there is no
love lost between them."

"Right! Well, I wish I had my uniform on."

"It's a good thing you haven't, I guess. That warlike spirit of yours
might get us in trouble. Every time I look at mine, I want to run back to
the front instead of going home."

"It is pretty tough," agreed Chester.

"You bet it is. But what else could we do? We must please our mothers,
you know."

"I suppose you're right. But just the same, several times I have had a
notion to disappear."

"The same thought struck me, too; but we gave our promise, you know."

Chester shrugged his shoulders.

"It can't be helped now," he said.

"Maybe we'll have a little war of our own some day," said Hal. "Then
they'll have to let us fight."

"That would be too good to be true," was Chester's reply.

It was just at the end of this conversation that the lads had joined
the crowd before the palace, and Chester had made the remark that opens
this story.



Hal sat up and passed his right hand gently over his head.

"Quite a bump," he muttered to himself. "What a fool I was not to have
been prepared for that ruse. Well, I'll know better next time."

The lad pulled himself to his feet and gazed in the direction in which
the other had disappeared. He made as if to move after him, and then
changed his mind.

"Not much chance of finding him now, I guess," he muttered.

He turned on his heel, and then, for the first time, his eyes fell upon
Chester's prostrate form.

"So he got you, too, eh?" he said to himself.

He hurried forward and bent over his chum. At the same moment Chester
opened his eyes and smiled up at him feebly.

"Hello," he said; "where's our friend?"

"Gone," replied Hal briefly, raising Chester's head to his knee. "How do
you feel?"

"A little rocky, and that's a fact," was the reply.

"What did he bump you over with--gun?"

"No; fist."

"I don't see any marks."

"I feel 'em," said Chester, rubbing his chin ruefully. "He landed an
uppercut that was a beauty."

"I am glad you are well enough to appreciate it," said Hal, with a slight
smile. "He was big enough to have put you out for keeps."

"I'm not to be gotten rid of so easily," returned Chester. "Help me up."

Hal lent a supporting hand and Chester struggled to his feet.

"Dizzy?" queried Hal.

"A little," was the reply. "I'll be all right in a minute, though."

He shook his head several times and at last appeared to have gotten rid
of the effects of the blow. He threw off Hal's hand.

"Well, what now?" he asked.

Hal hesitated.

"I hate to see that fellow get away," he said finally. "He probably has
stolen important information."

"I guess there is not much doubt of that," replied Chester, "but Rome is
a pretty sizeable town. A slim chance we have of finding him."

"I'd know him if I see him," said Hal

"So will I. Did you notice the scar across his face?"

"Yes; that's why I say I would know him any place. What do you suppose it
was he stole?"

"A paper of some kind; I saw that. Probably has to do with troop
movements or something of the sort. You remember he stole it from an
army officer."

"Yes; which reminds me that he also disposed of said army officer without
much trouble. The last I saw of him he was floundering about on the
ground in the midst of the crowd."

"Let's go back and have a look for him."

"Good; come on."

The boys turned and retraced their steps. Rounding a corner they came
again within sight of the palace.

"Crowd still there," Hal commented briefly.

It was true. The crowd seemed to have grown rather than to have

"Something must have happened while we were gone," said Chester. "Hear
them yell."

"I guess it means war," was Hal's quiet response. "Well, I'm glad."

"And so am I. This German business should be settled without much
trouble now."

"Don't you believe it. The Kaiser is good for a long, hard fight yet."

They pushed their way through the crowd. Suddenly they came to a stop,
their further progress being barred by a solid mass of humanity directly
in front of them, Hal took Chester by the arm.

"Let's see what is going on here," he said.

By dint of hard pushing and shoving they worked their way gradually
through the crowd.

"As I live, it's our friend the army officer," ejaculated Hal.

"So it is," agreed Chester, "and he seems to be rather excited. Look at
him waving his arms about."

Surrounded by a curious crowd, the officer referred to was declaiming
eloquently. It was plain from the attitude of the crowd, however, that he
wasn't making himself plain.

"He's too excited to talk coherently," said Hal. "Maybe we can help him
out a bit. Let's get through the rest of this gang."

He put his elbows in front of him, and closely followed by Chester, threw
his weight upon the mass of humanity in front. The crowd parted, and the
lads pushed their way through, unheeding the protests their rough methods
called forth. They stopped beside the still excited officer.

"Signor--" began Hal, but the officer paid no attention to him, and
continued to wave his arms violently about.

"You can't get his attention that way," said Chester. "Let me try."

He grasped the Italian officer roughly by the arm and whirled him about.

Immediately the latter's arms ceased their violent gesticulations and he
turned an angry face upon Chester.

"How dare you lay your hands upon an officer of the king?" he demanded in
a harsh voice.

His hand dropped to his holster.

"Here! Here!" exclaimed Hal. "Hold your horses now and don't get excited.
We've come to tell you something about that paper you lost."

"Ah!" cried the Italian. "So you have it, eh? Give it to me!"

He held out a hand expectantly.

"No, we haven't it," replied Hal, "but--"

"Give me the paper!" cried the officer, his voice becoming shrill
with anger.

"I tell you we haven't the paper," said Hal.

"That's a lie!" shouted the Italian. "You knocked me down and stole
the paper."

He clutched Hal by the arm.

"Let go of me," said the lad angrily. "We are trying to help you and--"

The Italian officer now suddenly drew his revolver, and pointed it
squarely at Hal.

"Give me the paper or I shall shoot," he said more quietly.

He staggered suddenly backward and the revolver dropped to the ground
with a clatter. The Italian wheeled and confronted the angry face of
Chester, who had struck up the weapon.

"What's the matter with you? Can't you see we are trying to help you?"
demanded Chester.

At this point there came a diversion. Members of the crowd who had
witnessed the dispute between the officer and the two lads suddenly set
up a cry of "spies."

Others behind them took it up.

"Spies! Spies!" a hundred voices rang out.

The crowd surged in about them.

Hal gave one quick look about, and then said quietly to Chester:

"We are in for it now, old man. We'll have to make a break for it."

"All right," said Chester grimly. "Lead the way."

Once more the Italian officer stretched forth a detaining hand, but this
time Hal wasted no time in explanation. He struck out straight from the
shoulder, and the officer toppled to the ground.

"Second fall for him to-day," muttered Hal between his teeth.

He felt Chester's arm press his elbow.

"Come on," he said.

Side by side the lads stepped forward in the very faces of the mob that
barred their path, and for a moment the crowd gave back. Then one man,
bolder than the rest, sprang forward and sought to clutch Chester's arm.
The lad's fist met him half way and he dropped silently to the ground.

An angry roar went up from the crowd.

Chester's hand dropped to his pocket. Hal perceived the motion and
cried out:

"No guns, Chester!"

Chester realized the soundness of the warning and his revolver remained
where it was.

Two of the crowd sprang forward together, but Hal and Chester, with their
greater strength and reach, disposed of them easily. A blow from behind
landed on Chester's neck and he staggered forward. He recovered himself
in a moment, however, and shouted.

"Rush 'em, Hal!"

The latter also realized that to stand still and fight gave the crowd
behind too great an opening and he obeyed Chester's injunction. At the
same moment both sprang forward, and the crowd opened before them.

Straight ahead they went, striking out right and left, but rushing
forward as fast as possible all the time. Men fell on both sides of
them beneath their heavy blows, and so far neither lad had received a
severe jolt.

At that moment, however, Hal felt a keen pain in his left arm. He glanced
down curiously and saw a tiny stream of red spout forth. His lips set in
a thin line.

"Guns, Chester," he said quietly, halting in his tracks. "They are
using knives."

"Good," said Chester, also halting. "Back to back."

The lads whipped out their automatics simultaneously, and, back to back,
confronted the crowd. Hal spoke.

"We are not spies," he shouted, "but we are not going to be killed
without a fight. We are British army officers. Stand back!"

Before the threatening muzzles of the two automatics the crowd hesitated.
Then, from directly ahead of Chester, a shot rang out. The lad heard
something whiz past his head, and from beyond came a cry of pain.

"Shot one of his own number," muttered the lad.

His finger tightened on the trigger as he saw a man about to leap forward
regardless of the automatic.

"I'm going to shoot, Hal," he called.

"I guess it can't be helped," replied the lad quietly. "When I give the
word turn loose on 'em, and then we'll make another break."

He hesitated a single instant and then called:


"Ready!" came the reply.

"Then--" began Hal, and suddenly cried, "Wait!"

For at that moment the crowd in front of him suddenly began to scatter,
and from beyond Hal made out a troop of Italian cavalry bearing down on
them with drawn sabers. Hal lowered his weapon and called out:

"It's all right, Chester!"



"What's the meaning of this?" demanded an officer, pulling in his horse
beside the two lads, while his troop gave their attention to driving back
the crowd, which gave ground slowly.

"We were attacked by the crowd, captain," Hal explained.

"Why?" asked the officer.

"We were accused of being spies."

"By whom?"

"By an Italian army officer back there," replied Hal, making a gesture
with his hand.

"Here he comes now," interrupted Chester.

The man who had caused all the trouble now came pompously forward. At
sight of him, the mounted officer sprang from the saddle and came to

"What is the matter, sir?" he asked.

"Arrest these two," said his superior, pointing to Hal and Chester. "They
are spies, and they knocked me down."

The Italian captain motioned to half a dozen of his men. He also pointed
to the two lads.

"Arrest them," he said quietly.

The men surrounded the lads.

"But--" began Chester.

"No words," said the officer. "Take them before General Ferrari," he
ordered his men.

He motioned to the commander of the troop to accompany them.

"I shall be there to make the charge against them," he said.

The young officer saluted.

"Very well, sir," he replied. He turned to the lads. "March," he ordered.

There was no help for it, as the lads realized in a moment. Accordingly
they made no further protests and marched off, surrounded on all sides.

As they walked along the street there came a new diversion. A man came
hurrying toward them. Hal and Chester recognized him in an instant.

"Uncle John!" cried Chester.

He glanced at Hal and smiled sheepishly.

"We seem always to be in trouble when he appears," said Chester with a
slight smile.

Uncle John addressed the officer in command of the squad.

"What's the meaning of this?" he demanded.

"The meaning of what, sir?" asked the officer respectfully, for he was
impressed by Uncle John's manner.

"What are you doing with these two lads?"

"They are under arrest, sir."

"What!" ejaculated Uncle John. "Under arrest, and what for?"

"They are spies."

"Spies!" The good man staggered back. He forced a smile. "You are joking
with me," he said.

The Italian officer drew himself up.

"I never joke of serious matters," he said quietly. "But what interest
have you in these prisoners?"

"Well, I have considerable interest," was the reply. "One of them happens
to be my nephew. What have they been doing?"

"I couldn't say as to that. All I know is that they are spies."

"You're crazy," shouted Uncle John, now becoming angry. "They are British
army officers, and American citizens."

The young officer drew himself up.

"Crazy, am I?" he demanded. "March!" he ordered his men.

"Here, hold on a minute," gasped Uncle John. "I didn't mean to ruffle
your feelings; but one of those boys is my nephew. I tell you they are
British officers."

"I trust they will be able to prove it," said the Italian.

"What?" demanded Uncle John. "Why?"

"Because," replied the officer with a pleasant smile, "they probably will
be shot if they don't."

"Shot!" gasped Uncle John.

"Exactly. That is the usual treatment accorded spies."

"But I tell you--"

"You can tell the rest to General Ferrari," said the Italian officer.
"Forward, men."

Uncle John was brushed unceremoniously aside in spite of his protests,
and the lads were led away.

"Don't worry, Uncle John," Chester called back to him. "We'll get out of
this all right. Tell mother to have no fear."

"I'll see the ambassador!" shouted Uncle John. "I'll get you out of
this. I'll show these confounded Italians they are not half as big as
Uncle Sam."

"Poor old Uncle John," said Chester to Hal. "He does get excited so
easily. I'll bet the ambassador is due for an unpleasant half hour."

"I'd give a whole lot to be there to hear what transpires," agreed Hal.

In front of a large and imposing building the Italian officer called a
halt; and a few minutes later ordered the prisoners up the steps.

"Where are we going?" demanded Hal.

"You'll find out soon enough," was the reply.

"You're very civil and courteous, to be sure," said Hal.

"I can see no reason for being courteous to a spy," replied the officer.

"Perhaps not," returned the lad; "but when we are out of this I believe I
shall hunt you up and pull your nose."

"What!" exclaimed the officer, stepping back. "Pull my nose! Such
American impudence! I have a notion to pull your nose right here."

"I wouldn't if I were you," said Chester, grinning.

"And what have you to say about it?" exclaimed the now angry officer.

"Oh, nothing," replied Chester. "Just a kindly word of warning;
that's all."

The officer stared at both lads angrily, as they stood at the top of the
steps, and seemed about to say more, when a second officer appeared in
the doorway and motioned for all to enter.

"Move on there," said the first officer angrily.

The lads obeyed without replying.

Inside the building they were led through a long corridor, and thence to
a room which they were motioned to enter. Inside stood a tall, stout man
attired in full military uniform.

"General Ferrari, I guess," Chester whispered to his friend.

Hal nodded in assent. It was indeed General Ferrari, and he came forward.

"What have we here?" he demanded, addressing the officer.

"Spies, sir," was the reply.

"Where did you find them?"

The officer explained.

"So Colonel Fuesco found them, eh? You say they stole an important
document from him?"

"Yes, sir, and the colonel will be here directly, sir."

"Good, you may go. Leave a guard outside the door."

The officer saluted and took his departure, casting a sneering glance at
the two lads.

"Sit down," commanded the general.

The lads obeyed, and the general took a seat at a huge desk at the far
end of the room and immediately plunged into a mass of correspondence.
For half an hour he was busy with his letters and paid no attention to
the boys. The latter also sat silently.

An orderly entered the room and announced:

"Colonel Fuesco, sir."

"Show him in," said the general.

A moment later and the colonel came blustering in. He gazed angrily at
the two lads and spoke to General Ferrari in a whisper. Then both turned
upon the lads.

"Have you the paper?" demanded the general.

"No, sir," replied Hal. "We never had it in the first place. Will you
allow me to explain, sir?"

"Proceed," said the general.

"First," said Hal, "I would inform your excellency that we are officers
in the British army, having recently come from France."

He then went ahead with the story of how they had seen Colonel Fuesco
relieved of his papers before the palace a short time ago. At the
conclusion of the story the colonel sniffed audibly.

"A likely tale," he sneered.

"Silence, colonel," said the general sharply. "I shall go at this matter
in my own way. Can you prove your identity?" he asked of Hal.

"With time, yes," was the reply.

At this moment the orderly again entered the room.

"The officer you were expecting, sir," he said to General Ferrari.

"Have him enter," said the general, and the orderly saluted and

"There can be no doubt that these are spies, sir," said Colonel Fuesco.

Chester became suddenly angry.

"That's a lie," he said flatly.

"What!" exclaimed the doughty colonel. "You call me a liar?"

Before General Ferrari or Hal could move to stay him, he stepped close to
Chester and struck him in the face.

Hal, knowing Chester's quick temper, became alarmed and cried out

"Don't hit him, Chester."

But he spoke too late. The blow aroused Chester's fighting blood and
he took no thought of consequences. His right fist shot out sharply,
and struck squarely upon the nose, the colonel reeled back and fell to
the floor.

He was up in a moment, however, and in spite of his commander's sharp
order, closed with Chester. The two rocked back and forth, as Hal and
General Ferrari sought to separate them.

And at this moment a newcomer entered the room. He was a young man, thin
and tall, and his face showed the marks of hard service. He was attired
in the uniform of a French major. He, too, took a hand in attempting to
separate the combatants.

As the five struggled about, Hal caught a glimpse of the newcomer's
face, and he gave a cry of wonder, uttering a name that caused Chester
to release his hold upon the Italian officer and step back in surprise
and pleasure.

"Major Derevaux!" exclaimed Hal.



The French officer also stepped back in surprise, for until that moment
he had not had time to glance at the two lads. He, too, gave vent to an
exclamation of pleasure and held out both hands.

"Hal! Chester!" he cried.

Each lad seized upon a hand and wrung it heartily. General Ferrari and
Colonel Fuesco stood back and eyed them curiously. Finally the general
spoke to the Frenchman.

"You know these boys?" he asked.

"Know them!" repeated Major Derevaux. "Well, I should say I do. They are
Lieutenants Paine and Crawford, of His British majesty's service, sir."

"Then they are not German or Austrian spies?"

"What! These lads German spies! If you but knew of what invaluable
service they have been to the cause of the Allies, you would be proud to
shake hands with them. Why, let me tell you," and forgetting all other
matters for the moment, Major Derevaux plunged into an account of the
boys' triumphs since joining the allied forces.

At the conclusion of this recital, General Ferrari extended a hand to
each of the boys.

"I am indeed glad to know two such gallant lads," he said. "I felt sure
when I first saw you that there must be some mistake in your cases."

"But they stole my paper!" cried Colonel Fuesco.

"That is not true," said Major Derevaux. "I can vouch for their loyalty."

"But who can vouch for you?" demanded the colonel. "How is General
Ferrari to know that you, too, are not a spy, coming to him with false

"I can answer that question," replied the general. "As it happens, I have
known Major Derevaux for years. He has often visited at my home, he and
his parents. You owe these lads an apology, colonel."

"He knocked me down," replied the colonel, pointing to Chester.

"So he did," said the general, "and you deserved it."

Chester now approached the colonel and extended a hand.

"I bear you no ill will," he said.

The officer glanced at him searchingly for a moment, and then took the

"I have done you and your friend an injustice," he said. "I am sorry."

"Say no more about it," replied Chester.

Colonel Fuesco also shook hands with Hal.

"But what of my paper?" he demanded of the general.

"I can give you a description of the man who took it," said Hal, and did
so. When he mentioned that the man had a scar on his face, the two
Italian officers uttered a cry.

"Hans Robard!" they exclaimed.

"You know him, then?" asked Chester.

"Rather," said the general dryly. "He is an Austrian, and attached to the
Austrian embassy here. Of course there has as yet been no formal
declaration of war between Italy and Austria, but it has been known for
days that war was sure to come. Colonel Fuesco here has been entrusted
with important documents relating to troop movements, and it is this
document that Robard has stolen. It must be recovered."

"We are willing to help all we can," said Chester. "With a little
forethought we should have been able to recover it ourselves. Robard made
monkeys of us."

"He made a monkey of me, too," said the colonel ruefully.

"The thing to be done," said Chester, "is to get track of him."

"That's easy enough," was the reply. "He can be found at the embassy; but
he will deny that he has the paper. Also, we cannot arrest him. Being a
member of a foreign embassy, in times of peace he is immune from arrest."

"And he will take the paper with him when he leaves Italy," said
Major Derevaux.

"It was stolen once," said Hal thoughtfully. "Why cannot it be
stolen again?"

"What do you mean?" asked Colonel Fuesco.

"Just what I say. Robard stole the document from you. Some one must
recover it from Robard without his knowledge."

"An excellent idea!" exclaimed General Ferrari. "But who will do
this work?"

"We shall be glad to undertake it, your excellency," said Hal.

"You! But you are so young for such a piece of work."

"Don't you believe it, general," Major Derevaux interrupted. "If the
papers can be recovered, these lads can get them. You could not put the
mission in better hands."

"But the danger--"

"We have been in danger before, sir," said Chester quietly.

The general considered a moment, and then brought a hand down on his desk
with tremendous force.

"So be it!" he exclaimed. "And if you are successful, Italy will know how
to reward you."

"We seek no reward, sir," said Hal quietly. "Then we are at liberty to go
now, sir?"

"Yes. I shall not hamper you with instructions."

"All we wish to know, sir," said Hal, "is whether Robard still is at the
Austrian embassy."

"He is," was the reply, "and will be until some time to-morrow, when the
ambassador will be given his passports."

"Can I be of any assistance?" asked Colonel Fuesco, stepping forward.

"If you can, we shall call on you," replied Hal.

"Good," said the colonel, and, drawing out a card, he scribbled an
address on it. "You will find me there," he said. "I shall remain at my
quarters in the hopes that I may be given a hand in the game."

The lads shook hands with the general and walked to the door.

"Wait a moment, boys," said Major Derevaux. "I want a few words with the
general, and then I shall be at liberty to go with you."

"If it is all the same to you, Major Derevaux," said the general, "I
would prefer to postpone our conference until this evening. I have
several matters that require my immediate attention."

Major Derevaux accepted this postponement graciously, and announced that
he would accompany the boys at once. As they would have passed out, the
general's orderly once more entered the room.

"The American ambassador is without, sir," he said, "and demands an
immediate interview with you."

General Ferrari turned to Colonel Fuesco.

"You see what trouble you have brought down on my head," he said, with a
smile. "I won't bother to see the ambassador now," he said to his
orderly. "I shall send these lads to greet him."

In response to these words, Hal and Chester, accompanied by Major
Derevaux and Colonel Fuesco, made their way from the room. In the
corridor they encountered the American ambassador and Uncle John.
The latter was walking back and forth nervously and muttering
angrily to himself.

"Here we are, Uncle John," said Chester.

Uncle John jumped as though he had been shot, for he had not perceived
their approach.

"You young rascals," he exclaimed, "so you have been released, eh?"

"Yes," said Chester quickly, "we have been released providing we can
really apprehend the man who is the spy."

"What do you mean?" asked Uncle John anxiously.

Hal followed Chester's lead, for he wished no obstacle to be put in
their path.

"If we can catch the spy, we shall be permitted to go free," he said,

"I see," said Uncle John. "But I can't see that spy-catching is any of
your business."

"Well, we have promised to do the best we can," said Chester.

"In that case, I have nothing to say," said Uncle John. "But remember we
are due to sail for home to-morrow."

"Oh, we can wait over for the next ship," said Chester.

"Perhaps," said Uncle John, with a twinkle in his eye. "We shall see what
your mothers have to say about that."

Hal now bethought himself to introduce Uncle John to his friends. This
accomplished, the American ambassador announced that he would be moving,
and took his departure. The others Uncle John invited to have lunch with
him in a nearby hotel.

Over the table, Hal asked Major Derevaux what he was doing in Rome.

"I don't know as it is my secret now," replied the major. "I am here with
a despatch from General Joffre. I cannot say exactly what the despatch
contains, but at a guess I would say it has to do with the entrance of
Italy into the war, and plans for a possible simultaneous advance between
all the troops opposed to the Austro-German army."

"I see," said Hal. "That would be a great thing. I wish we were going
back to the front with you."

"Well, you're not," said Uncle John briefly.

"We won't argue about it," said Chester, smiling. "But you never can tell
what will happen."

Uncle John changed the subject abruptly. When the conversation reached
this stage he always felt uncomfortable.

"When are you going to start spy-hunting?" he asked.

Chester looked at Hal.

"What do you think?" he inquired.

"Well, I should say not until to-night," replied Hal. "I don't believe we
could do much good in the day time."

"My idea exactly," agreed Chester. "We may have to make a few

"I would like to go with you boys," said Major Derevaux, "but I fear it
will be impossible. I must return immediately I have had my interview
with General Ferrari."

Uncle John had been sitting silent during all this conversation, but
now he straightened in his chair and brought his fist down on the table
with a bang.

"By Jove!" he exclaimed. "All this talk makes me feel young again. What's
the matter with my joining this expedition?"

The two lads gazed at him in wonder. Uncle John saw the amazement written
on their features.

"I mean it," he continued. "I want a hand in this game myself. Here,
waiter, check!" he called.

He paid the check and rose from the table.

"You wait here for me," he instructed the boys.

"Where are you going?" asked Chester.

"Going to buy a gun," replied Uncle John; "going to outfit myself to join
the spy-hunters."

He stalked from the room.



The stars were shining when Hal and Chester, accompanied by Uncle John,
made their way from the hotel toward the Austrian legation. Uncle John
was chuckling to himself as he walked between his two younger companions.

"What is so funny, Uncle John?" asked Chester.

"I was just thinking what your mothers would say if they knew where we
were going," was the reply; "particularly if they knew where I was going.
I guess they think I am too old for this foolishness, but I tell you, a
man likes to be young again."

"What did you tell mother? Where did you say we were going?" asked Hal.

"I told her we were going out--I didn't say where," was the answer. "I'm
something of a strategist myself, you know."

"I see you are," replied Chester.

"Now I want you boys to understand that I am under your orders," said
Uncle John. "You are older heads at this game than I am. I am willing to
obey orders."

"Which is the first essential of every good soldier," said Chester

"By the way," said Uncle John, patting his pocket, "this is the first
time I have had a gun in my hands for a good many years. However, I used
to be able to hit the side of a barn. I guess I haven't forgotten. Do you
think we shall have to do any shooting?"

"I hope not," said Hal, "but you never can tell."

Uncle John lapsed into silence and the three made their way along slowly.
The hour was early, and, as Hal had said, there was no rush.

"Have you formed any definite plan?" asked Chester of Hal, as they
walked along.

"Well, no," was the reply. "We shall have to let events shape

"Which is the best plan, after all," said Chester.

An hour's walk brought them to the embassy building.

"The first thing," said Hal, "is to find out if Robard is in."

"And how are you going to do that?" asked Uncle John.

"Simple," replied Hal. "I'll go up and ask."

He approached the door and rang the bell. A servant opened the door.

"Is Herr Robard in?" asked Hal in perfect German.

The man shook his head.

"I have an important message for him," said Hal. "When shall I
find him in?"

The servant glanced at him sharply, then leaned close.

"Are you the messenger Herr Robard expects?" he asked, in a low voice.

Hal glanced sharply about him, more for effect than anything else, and
replied, speaking softly:

"From the Wilhelmstrasse."

"Good," said the man, nodding his pleasure. "I am instructed to tell you
to come back at a little before ten o'clock."

"Will Herr Robard be here then?"

"Possibly not, but you can wait."

"I shall be here," said Hal, and walked down the steps.

He rejoined Chester and Uncle John, who had waited around the corner.

"I was beginning to fear something had happened to you," said Uncle John.

"What luck?" demanded Chester.

"Better than could be expected," said Hal, and repeated the conversation
with the servant.

"And who do you suppose this messenger is?" asked Chester.

"A German secret agent," replied Hal decidedly.

"That was the first thought that flashed through my head when he asked me
who I was, which is the reason I took a long chance and mentioned the

"You seem to have hit the nail on the head," said Chester.

"Which was luck," said Hal.

"Or quick wit," interposed Uncle John.

"Well," said Chester, "what next? And what are we to do while you are in
the house? Surely you are not expecting that we shall all be admitted?"

"No," replied Hal, "and my plan is this: I shall reach the house somewhat
earlier than the time set, moving up my watch to avoid suspicion should
anything be said. Thus I shall make sure that Robard has not returned. I
shall wait.

"Now, when the servant leaves the room, I shall, in some manner, raise
the window facing the spot where you stood while I went up to the door a
moment ago. Then you and Uncle John can come in. Of course, I may not be
left in that particular room to wait, but I shall manage some way. I'll
cover your entrance with my gun."

"Good," said Chester, "but then what? Will you try to take the papers
forcibly or by stealth?"

"Whichever way seems the most likely to succeed," said Hal briefly.
"Something must be left to chance."

"Well," said Chester, "we may as well return to the hotel for a couple of
hours. It's early yet."

"Not much," said Uncle John. "I don't want to have to answer any
questions. Not me. Let's go some place else."

"We'll walk about, then," Hal decided.

This was done.

At fifteen minutes to ten o'clock Hal once more mounted the steps to the
Austrian embassy. Chester and Uncle John took their places at the spot
agreed upon, and waited.

The same servant opened the door for Hal.

"You are early," he said, somewhat suspiciously it seemed to Hal.

"Why, no," replied the lad, manifesting surprise. "I am on the dot, as I
always am. Ten o'clock."

"But it is not ten yet," said the man.

Hal drew out his watch and looked at it.

"Ten to the minute," he said, and held it up so the man could see.

"Your watch is wrong," was the reply. "However, I suppose it makes no
difference. Come in."

He held the door open while Hal entered, then closed it.

"This way," he said, and led the way down the hall. Fortunately, he
turned into a room facing upon the street where Chester and Uncle John
waited without, though it was the room beyond the one beneath the
window of which they stood. But, Hal noticed, there was a door between
the two rooms.

"Ought to be easy enough," he told himself.

"You can wait here for Herr Robard," said the servant, and moved
to withdraw.

"This is the Herr Robard's private office, I take it," said Hal.

"You are wrong," was the reply. "His office is just across the hall. But
no one is allowed to enter there unless the Herr is with him, and the
door is always locked."

"I see," said Hal, mentally thanking the man for the information, which
had come a great deal easier than he had expected. "The Herr is a careful
man. It is as it should be."

"You can make yourself at home here until he comes," said the servant.
"There are magazines and books. I have other matters to attend to."

"All right," said Hal, for he now wished to get rid of the man without
more loss of time; he had gained all the information he could hope for
without laying himself open to suspicion.

The man withdrew. Hal glanced at his watch.

"Ten-five," he muttered. "That means ten minutes to ten. Robard may come
sooner than expected. I must hurry."

Quietly he arose and silently crossed the room. He tried the knob to the
door of the next room. The door was locked. He glanced down. There was a
key in the lock, and it turned easily. Hal unlocked the door and passed
into the room beyond.

Quickly he crossed to the window, and then paused a moment, listening
attentively. There was no sound. Unfastening the catch, the lad raised
the window gently. It went up without so much as a sound. Hal poked his
head out, and called in a low voice:

"All right."

He stepped back and drew his revolver and took his place in the shadow,
commanding a view of both doors to the room.

He heard faint sounds without, and concluded rightly that Chester was
giving Uncle John a hand up. A moment later Uncle John's head appeared at
the window, and he clambered into the room. He was unable to see Hal in
the darkness and called:

"Where are you, Hal?"

"Sh--h--h!" whispered Hal. "Come over here."

Uncle John obeyed silently.

There came a whistle from without. Hal recognized it as that of Chester.
He hurried to the window and peered out.

"What's the matter?" he called.

"The window is too high, I can't reach the sill," was the reply. "Give
me a hand."

Hal started to lay down his gun and lend a hand, but thought better of
it. He called to Uncle John.

"Help Chester up," he whispered, and again took his position guarding the
doors, with drawn revolver.

Uncle John approached the window and leaned out. He seized Chester's
uplifted hand, and pulled. A moment later Chester came scrambling through
the window.

"A pretty good climb, if you ask me," he said.

At that moment the door from the hall was thrown open, and a man appeared
in the doorway. In his hand he held a revolver, which he pointed straight
at Uncle John and Chester, who stood in plain sight before the window.

"Hands up!" he called.

There was nothing for it but to obey. Uncle John's and Chester's hands
went high in the air.

Hal, well back from the light which streamed through the open door and
the window, slunk further back in the darkness. He was unnoticed, and he
knew that he held the whip hand.

"So," said the man in the doorway, "burglars, eh? Well, I shall attend to
your cases."

With revolver levelled in a steady hand he advanced further into the



A few paces in front of Chester and Uncle John the newcomer paused.

"Armed?" he asked.

Chester made no reply. Uncle John remained silent.

"We'll see," said the newcomer briefly.

Still covering them with his weapon, he put his free hand in Chester's
pocket and relieved the lad of his revolver. A similar operation and
Uncle John's gun came forth. Uncle John could keep quiet no longer.

"There goes my gun," he said sorrowfully.

In spite of the seriousness of the situation Chester was forced to laugh.

"Don't worry; you'll get it back," he replied.

"You think so, eh?" sneered the newcomer. "Tell me," addressing Chester,
"what are you doing here?"

"That's for you to find out," replied the lad.

"Well, I'll find out," exclaimed the man. "Do you know who I am?"

"Why, yes; your name is Robard, isn't it?"

The other stepped back in surprise.

"So you know me, eh!" he exclaimed. "Then you are not burglars."

"Hardly," replied Chester.

"Then what are you doing here?"

"I can't see that it will do any harm to tell you," was Chester's answer.
"We are after the paper you stole from Colonel Fuesco to-day."

"Oho! And by any chance are you the same youngster I encountered in
the street?"

"The same," replied Chester briefly.

"And where is the other? Surely," peering closely at Uncle John, "you are
not he. He was younger."

"Right you are," replied Uncle John. "But I guess he'll turn up when he
is most needed."

"You think so? Then he had better turn up quickly." He turned again to
Chester. "So you came after the paper," he said. "I am very sorry to say
that you will not get it."

"Then you have sent it to Vienna," said Chester, somewhat crestfallen.

"Oh, no, I still have it right here," and Robard tapped the breast pocket
of his coat.

"Thanks," said Chester. "I just wanted to know where you kept it."

"I suppose you think you are very smart," said the Austrian, somewhat
angry at having betrayed himself.

"Smart enough, I guess," returned Chester.

"Come, I have had enough of this," exclaimed the Austrian. "Hold your
hands up now, and march out of this room ahead of me."

He waved his revolver from one to the other, and stepped aside that the
two might pass ahead of him. Uncle John and Chester obeyed his injunction
and moved toward the door. The Austrian took a step after them.

It was at this moment that Hal came into action.

With a sudden spring he leaped upon the Austrian from behind. With one
hand he seized the wrist that held the revolver, and turned it upward.
With the other he clutched the man by the throat, shutting off his wind
and preventing him from crying out. Hal called to Chester:

"Grab him!"

Chester and Uncle John wheeled about and lent a hand in subduing the
Austrian. Three against one, it was easy work, and after a short
struggle Robard lay panting on the floor. Hal drew his own revolver and
covered him.

"One move and you are a dead man," he said quietly.

Robard glared up at him angrily. Chester smiled at him pleasantly.

"You see I am smarter than you gave me credit for," he said.

The Austrian made no response.

"He keeps the paper in his pocket, Hal," said Chester.

"So I heard him say," replied Hal.

He bent over the Austrian and thrust a hand into his pocket. He pulled
forth a batch of papers, and walking over to the window, ran through them

"Find it?" asked Chester, walking over to him.

Hal extended a paper.

"I guess this is it, all right," he said, and thrust the document into
his pocket.

At that moment there came a startled cry from Uncle John, followed by
a heavy thud. Hal and Chester wheeled quickly, just in time to see
Robard disappearing through the door, which closed after him with a
bang. A key turned in the lock. The thud they had heard was Uncle John
toppling to the floor as the result of a blow delivered by the
Austrian, who, catching Uncle John off his guard, had sprung to his
feet and attacked him.

Hal jumped to the door, while Chester bent over Uncle John and assisted
him to his feet.

"The scoundrel!" exclaimed Uncle John. "He took me by surprise. He gave
me no warning."

"Surely you didn't expect him to," said Chester, somewhat angry.

Hal sprang to Chester's side.

"Quick!" he exclaimed. "We must get out of here. Robard will have
assistance in a moment."

"Which way? Out the window?" asked Chester.

"I guess that will be the best way," said Hal. "You first, Uncle John."

The three hurried to the window, and Uncle John put a leg over the sill.
As he did so a sharp shot rang out and Uncle John withdrew his leg
hurriedly. He tumbled over to the floor, and seizing his foot in his
hand, rocked himself back and forward.

"Hit?" asked Chester anxiously.

"I'm afraid so," replied Uncle John, apparently very much frightened.

Chester bent over him.

He looked at the heel of Uncle John's shoe, and then exclaimed.

"Get up. You are all right. The bullet just carried your heel away."

Uncle John rose to his feet.

"Felt like I had been plugged through the leg," he said. "Just the shock,
I guess. Well, what now, boys? We can't get out that way."

"We'll have to go through the door, then," said Chester.

He approached and tried the knob.

"It's locked," said Hal. "I tried it a moment ago. However, that's the
way we shall have to go out. Stand back a little."

He drew his revolver, put the muzzle to the lock and fired. There was a
loud explosion and the room filled with smoke. Hal seized the knob and
threw the door open.

"Where are your guns?" he asked Chester hurriedly.

"Robard took them," replied Chester.

"Then they must be in the room. Find them quickly."

Chester looked hurriedly about. At last his eyes lighted upon them,
on a little table at the far end of the room, where the Austrian had
laid them.

"All right," said Chester, picking them up and passing one to Uncle John.
"The sooner we make a start the better."

"Let's go then," said Hal.

He poked his head cautiously out the door and looked down the hall. There
was no one in sight.

"Coast clear," he called over his shoulder. "Follow me!"

He sprang into the hall and started for the front door on a dead run.
Chester was right behind him, and Uncle John followed close upon
Chester's heels.

Hal was just about to seize the knob in his free hand, when it was turned
from the outside.

"Back, quick," called the lad. "Some one coming."

He wheeled about as he spoke and the other two did likewise. They
had barely regained their retreat when heavy footsteps were heard
in the hall.

"This way," called a voice in German.

The footsteps came toward them, stopped before the door a moment, and
then passed on.

"Now for another trial," whispered Hal.

Again he poked his head out and saw that the coast was apparently clear.

"Come on!" he cried, and made a second dash for the front door. Chester
followed him, as did Uncle John.

This time Hal reached the door without trouble and threw it open. Without
pausing, he dashed through it and down the steps. Chester was right
behind him. But as Uncle John also would have passed out, there came a
shot from behind and he toppled to the floor.

In the excitement neither Chester nor Hal noticed this and they had gone
half a block before they discovered that Uncle John was not with them.

"Great Scott! What can have happened to him?" exclaimed Chester.

"Probably got caught," replied Hal.

"Then we must go back after him. Come on."

"Wait a minute," said Hal. "Don't forget this paper we recovered. It must
be returned to General Ferrari, Uncle John or no Uncle John."

"But we can't let them kill him!" cried Chester.

"They won't kill him," said Hal positively. "They would be afraid to do
that. First I must deliver this paper, and then we shall try to rescue
Uncle John. But the paper is first. You know that."

"You are right, of course," Chester agreed. "Besides Uncle John knew what
he was up against before he came with us. He'll have to wait until we can
help him."

"All right, then. Now my idea is for you to wait here while I return this
paper to General Ferrari. Then I shall come back and we will see what can
be done. If they should take Uncle John from the house you follow them."

"Suits me," said Chester. "Get back as soon as you can."

Hal waved a hand and hurried away in the darkness.

"Guess I'll see if I can learn anything," said Chester to himself, after
Hal had disappeared.

He approached the embassy cautiously. He could see lights within, but the
shades were drawn and he could distinguish nothing. Once he thought he
heard sounds of a struggle in the house, but he could not be sure.

He was on the point of entering, but it occurred to him that if he should
fall into the enemy's hands he could do Uncle John little good.

"I'll wait until Hal comes back, anyhow," he decided at last.

He walked some distance from the embassy, still remaining close enough to
see any one who should leave by the front door, and sat down on the steps
before a large stone house.

"Hope Hal gets a move on," he muttered to himself, as he settled himself
as comfortably as possible.



When Uncle John fell to the floor, his first feeling was one of anger. He
scarcely felt the sharp pain in his leg, where a bullet had grazed the
skin. He saw Chester disappearing ahead of him, and his first thought was
to get up and hurry after him.

He pulled himself to his feet and again moved toward the door. As he did
so he felt a pair of arms thrown about him from behind. Uncle John turned
to give battle to this assailant.

Now Uncle John was a big man and in his youth had been noted for his
strength. Time had sapped his prowess, however, and he knew that he was
no match for his adversary. Nevertheless, he determined to fight it out.

With an effort he shook off the encircling arms and faced his opponent,
who proved to be none other than Robard himself. Bethinking himself of
the days of his youth, when he had been considered something of a boxer,
Uncle John decided to keep the other at arm's length, if possible.
Therefore he squared off in most approved fashion.

It was plain that the Austrian was not an exponent of the art of
self-defense and Uncle John sent three hard blows to the man's face,
before the latter stepped back and sought to bring his revolver to bear.
But Uncle John had no mind to be shot down and he sprang forward and
seized the other in a fierce embrace. This style of fighting was more to
the Austrian's liking.

A big man himself, he was nothing loath to test Uncle John's wrestling
ability. He threw his arms about him, and the two struggled up and down
the long hall, panting and gasping.

But the Austrian was a younger man and he soon realized that Uncle John
was beginning to tire. The latter realized it also and knew that if he
would be successful, it must be immediately. He put a foot in back of the
Austrian and pushed hard. Robard lost his balance and fell, but he kept
his grip, and Uncle John was pulled to the floor with him.

Uncle John freed an arm and planted his fist squarely in the Austrian's
face. The latter gave a cry of rage and shouted for help. Uncle John
smiled grimly.

"You'll need it," he said.

Again he raised a fist and brought it down with all his force. The
Austrian's arms relaxed their grip. He quivered a bit, and then sank back
unconscious. Uncle John got to his feet.

"I'm not so bad at that," he told himself modestly. "I wish the boys
could have been here to see that. Now to get out of here."

He moved toward the door, but even as he would have opened it, it moved
back and three men stepped inside. They saw Uncle John and the
unconscious form of Robard at first glance, and sprang upon Uncle John
with a shout.

Uncle John drew a long breath and waded into the midst of them.

The newcomers also proved to be novices in the fistic art, and as long as
Uncle John was able to keep them at long range he gave a good account of
himself. But, realizing that they were getting the worst of this kind of
fighting, one of the men gave a command to close in. In vain Uncle John
strove to keep them off. One threw himself to the floor, and avoiding a
heavy kick, grasped Uncle John by the leg, pulling him down. The others
piled on top of him.

Two minutes later Uncle John had ceased to struggle, and lay powerless in
the hands of his captors.

"Well, you've got me," he said. "Now what?"

Still keeping a tight grip upon him, the men assisted Uncle John to his
feet. One drew a revolver and covered him. The other two went to the
assistance of Robard, who was just getting to his feet. The latter came
forward with an angry gleam in his eye.

"So I've got you at last," he said. "Well, I'll see that you don't get
away this time."

"You weren't big enough to get me alone," said Uncle John, panting from
his exertions.

"I wasn't, eh!" shouted Robard, now furiously angry. "I've got you now,
and you shall pay. Take that!"

He dealt Uncle John a heavy blow with the back of his hand.

In his early days Uncle John had been noted for his fiery temper. It
was said of him that when his temper was aroused, he became a maniac.
So it was now.

Taking no thought of the man who held the revolver almost in his face,
Uncle John, his cheek red from the imprint of the Austrian's hand,
uttered a cry of rage, and leaped forward. His move was so unexpected
that the man with the revolver did not fire, and when at last he had
again brought his revolver to bear, he feared to press the trigger lest
he might hit his friend as well as foe.

Uncle John, in a moment, was the center of a struggling, shouting mass.
His fists flew about like flails and he kicked out with his feet
whenever occasion presented itself. One, two, three heavy blows he
landed upon Robard's face, and the Austrian suddenly collapsed in a
heap. Still fighting mad, Uncle John whirled upon the other three, who
now closed with him.

A right-handed jolt caught one of them flush on the jaw and he toppled
over backwards without so much as a groan. The other brought a fist
heavily to Uncle John's nose, bringing blood, but before he could repeat
the blow, Uncle John had placed him hors de combat with a terrific
left-handed punch to the abdomen.

Then the third man drew back and presented his revolver, but Uncle John
sprang forward with a cry and before the man's finger could press the
trigger, Uncle John had seized him about the middle. Raising him high in
the air, he swung him to one side, and the man's head struck the wall
with a crunch even as the revolver exploded.

Uncle John dropped the limp body and surveyed the field. His anger had
departed and he was again a cool and self-possessed American gentleman of
middle age.

"There's that temper of mine again," he said reprovingly to himself.
"Why, I might have killed somebody. After all these years I should
have it under control. I guess I'll be moving before some one makes me
real mad."

He stooped and picked up his hat, which had fallen on the floor, took one
last look at his fallen foes, and opened the door and passed out.

Down the street he saw a solitary figure sitting upon the steps in front
of a large stone house, and he walked in the other direction.

"I've had trouble enough for one night," he told himself. "Guess I will
give that fellow a wide berth."

And had he gone toward the seated figure he would have avoided more
trouble for all concerned, and Hal and Chester would probably never have
seen active service with the Italian army. For the figure that caused
Uncle John to turn his footsteps in the opposite direction was Chester,
awaiting the return of Hal.

"Wonder why those young scalawags didn't come back to help me?" mused
Uncle John, as he walked along toward the hotel. "I'll tell them what I
think of them for running away and leaving me to do all the fighting."

Uncle John glanced at his watch.

"Great Scott!" he exclaimed. "Twelve o'clock! Why, it doesn't seem
fifteen minutes since we went in that house. Guess Hal and Chester have
returned to the hotel by this time. What shall I tell the women folks?
They'll wonder what a man of my age is prowling about the streets of Rome
for at this hour of the night."

He entered his hotel and made his way toward the elevator. It descended,
and as he would have entered, he bumped squarely into Mrs. Paine and
Mrs. Crawford.

"John," cried the latter, "where is Chester?"

"Where is Hal?" demanded Mrs. Paine anxiously.

"Why, they--aren't they--they'll be here in a few minutes," stuttered
Uncle John.

"Where are they?" demanded the two anxious mothers in a single voice.

"Now hold on here," said Uncle John, regaining his composure with an
effort. "I'll explain. Hal and Chester are all right. They'll be here in
a few minutes."

"And what on earth is the matter with you, John?" asked Mrs. Crawford
in surprise.

"What's the matter with me?"

"Yes. Your collar is half off, your clothes are dirty and there is blood
on your shoe. What is the matter?"

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