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The Boy Allies in the Trenches by Clair Wallace Hayes

Part 3 out of 4

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"Great Scott!" exclaimed Chester. "That's pretty good shooting, if you
ask me. Wonder who's doing it?"

"There is not much question about that," said Hal dryly. "That is His
Lordship, fighting for his bed."

"By Jove!" cried Chester. "I'll bet that's just who it is."

The lads were right.

No sooner had they left the room in which His Lordship lay asleep than he
arose and peered forth. His eyes fell upon the Germans in the distance.

His Lordship muttered to himself: "Why can't they let a man sleep?"

It was at that moment that one of the Germans, thinking to draw a fire
from whoever chanced to be in the house, fired through the window. The
bullet whistled close to His Lordship's head and moved him to action.

"Shoot at me while I'm trying to take a nap, will you?" he said to
himself. "Well, if you want my bed you'll have to come and take it."

He reached for his rifle, which stood near the bed, and, dropping on his
knee at the window, brought it to bear upon the first German. A crack
and a puff of smoke and the Teuton was no more. A second one met the
same fate.

These were the two shots whose effect the lads had witnessed from the
house next door. Now His Lordship calmly left the window and dragged the
bed right up against it. Then he climbed in and lay down flat, still
keeping his hand upon the rifle, which protruded through the window. As
he glanced over the sights he rested.

Several German bullets crashed through the window and sped above his
head; but to these he paid no heed, nor did he fire until he drew a bead
upon a vital spot of some German. Then there would be a sharp crack and
the result would be one enemy less.

Hal and Chester also were able to pick off an occasional enemy when one
happened to expose himself. But the Germans became more cautious now.

"It's only a question of time until they get us," said Hal quietly.
"Certainly they will not allow us to remain here and pick them off
like that."

"True," replied Chester. "But I guess we'll be able to pick off a few
more before they get us."

From the next house came a hail in His Lordship's languid voice:

"You fellows hold 'em off a little while," it said. "I'm going to
take a nap!"

"Great Scott!" exclaimed Chester. "Do you hear that?"

"Oh, I heard it, all right," replied Hal, and he was forced to smile a
little to himself.

There came no further shot from the next house, even when a German
exposed himself. Had His Lordship been on guard he could have picked him
off with ease.

"He's asleep, all right," said Hal briefly. "We need look for no
help there."

But in this the lad was mistaken, as he was soon to learn.

The silence from His Lordship's station evidently had caused the
Germans to believe that one of their bullets must have gone home, for
they came into the open and appeared to be ready to make a dash upon
Hal and Chester.

Immediately both lads opened upon them, and several fell. In spite of
this, however, the Germans came on. But, as they drew closer to the
house, and the lads continued to pour lead into them, there came several
quick flashes from the window next door, and as many Germans dropped in
their tracks.

His Lordship's repeating rifle was at work once more. The Germans drew

His Lordship pumped lead into them right and left as they dashed for the
nearest shelter, and by the time they reached it half the number who had
rushed forward lay upon the ground.

Now, from the distance, came the sound of trampling hoofs. The sound came
from the rear, and in another second the Germans broke from behind their
shelter and fled swiftly.

A force of French cavalry dashed into view around the house.

Both lads heaved a sigh of relief and left their refuge.

"May as well go in and tell His Lordship he can finish his nap," said

But there was no need for this. When the lads entered the room His
Lordship lay sleeping peacefully, one hand still grasping his rifle.

"Well," said Chester, "he's the limit. However, he's some fighter, too.
You'll have to give him credit for that."

A few moments later the squadron of British, which had advanced again in
the wake of the cavalry, came into sight. The sergeant dashed rapidly
toward the house where he had left the boys.

The latter greeted him at the door.

"We didn't miss you until we had gone too far to come back," said the
sergeant. "I feared you had been killed."

"We are all right," replied Hal, "but there is no telling what might have
happened to us had it not been for His Lordship, who is sleeping in the
next room."

"What! His Lordship sleeping while all this was going on?" exclaimed
the sergeant, pointing to the bodies of the dead Germans that lay
scattered about.

"Oh, that!" exclaimed Chester. "His Lordship did most of that
between naps!"

The Allies were now in force enough to hold the town, which they did all
that day with Hal and Chester in command. With the coming of night,
however, an officer appeared to relieve them. He also informed them that
General Joffre desired their presence immediately.

Accordingly the lads left the little village, and midnight found them
back in their own quarters. They retired immediately to rest, for General
Joffre had left word that he would postpone his interview with them until
the morrow.

Bright and early the next morning, however, the lads were admitted to
his presence.

"This," said the French commander, placing a paper in Hal's hands, "is an
important communication for the French prime minister. I have selected
you two lads to place it in his hands immediately. Since you told me of
the plot to kidnap the President, I have investigated. From a prisoner I
have learned additional facts, which I have put into the paper you hold."

"The prime minister is in Paris, is he not?" asked Hal.

"He is. I have informed the prime minister, by wireless, that you are on
the way with the message; also, that if there is any work to be done, he
could not do better than to give you chaps a hand in it."

"Thank you, sir," said both lads in one voice.

"Make all possible haste," said General Joffre, waving them from
his presence.



"How far are we from Paris, Hal?" asked Chester, when they were once more
on the outside.

"Not more than eighty miles," was the reply. "You heard what the Kaiser
is said to have told his troops, didn't you?"

"No; what was it?"

"He told them that they were but two hours' ride, by automobile, from
their goal; by which he meant the French capital."

"Great Scott! I didn't realize they were so close."

"It is pretty close; but still, when you stop to think, not so close
after all; for the road to Paris, for the Kaiser's troops, at least, is
strewn with insurmountable obstacles, and death and danger lurk on
every hand."

"True," said Chester. "Besides which, the Kaiser is considerably farther
from his goal than he was some months ago."

"Yes," agreed Hal, "he has been forced a long way down the field, as we
would say on the gridiron."

Besides the document which they were to carry to the French Prime
Minister, General Joffre also had given the lads an order for one of
the large army automobiles, that they might make the trip with all
possible haste.

Hal accosted the proper officer, and soon the lads had the huge car at
their disposal. The officer also offered to furnish them with a
chauffeur, but Hal declined this offer, electing to drive the machine
himself. Chester climbed into the tonneau and Hal took his place at the
wheel. Both waved a good-by to the officer, and, under Hal's guiding
hand, the large automobile started off slowly.

Gradually Hal increased the speed, till at length they were flying along
the road at the rate of forty miles an hour. There were no speed
restrictions in the war zone, and as the car dashed over the ground Hal
kept a keen eye out for machines approaching from the other direction.

Chester leaned over the front seat and clutched Hal by the shoulder.

"At this rate," he shouted, "it won't take us long to get to Paris."

"About two hours," Hal shouted back, without taking his eyes from the
road ahead.

Through the towns of Villers and Cotterets the automobile flashed,
although Hal reducing his speed a trifle when the little cities came in
sight. On the road beyond, however, he proceeded to let the car out
again, and so they dashed into Nanteul.

Here, because of somewhat more congested traffic, Hal was forced to
reduce his speed considerably, and they went slowly through the
streets of the towns. Before setting out on their trip, Hal had spent
half an hour over the maps of the road, that there might be no danger
of their getting lost, and the lay of the country was firmly impressed
upon his mind.

As they wended their way slowly through the streets of Nanteul, there
came suddenly the sound of an explosion beneath them. Hal brought the car
to an abrupt stop and leaped lightly to the ground. Chester did likewise.

"Tire blown out," said Hal briefly, after a quick glance at the rear
left-hand wheel.

He walked to the rear of the car, where a spare tire should have been
ready for just such an emergency. There was none there.

The lad stepped back with an exclamation of dismay.

"What's the matter?" asked Chester.

"Matter is that we have no spare tire," replied Hal. "Where shall
we get one?"

"I don't know," returned Chester. "The chances are that every spare tire
within forty miles is in use. However, we might go into this restaurant
and make some inquiries."

Hal followed his friend into the restaurant, where Chester made known
their wants.

The proprietor, a smiling and effusive little Frenchman, greeted
them warmly.

"I myself have a tire that shall be yours," he told them. "It shall be
taken from my own car and put upon yours. Jacques!"

In response to this call a dapper little waiter came forward, and to him
the proprietor made known his desires. The waiter bowed and departed. The
proprietor turned to the lads.

"While Jacques is making ready messieurs' car," he said with a bow, "it
will give me pleasure to have messieurs lunch with me."

"How long will it take him to fix it?" asked Hal.

The little Frenchman shrugged his shoulders.

"Perhaps fifteen minutes, perhaps twenty," he replied.

"In that event," said Hal, "we shall be glad to accept your invitation."

The Frenchman beamed upon them, and led the way to the rear of the little
room, where he motioned them to seats at a somewhat secluded table.

"We shall not be disturbed here," he said.

A light luncheon was soon upon the table, and the lads fell to with a
will, for they were quite hungry.

While the lads were in the midst of their meal, a group of French
officers, all young lieutenants, came boisterously into the restaurant
and took seats at a table close to where the lads sat. It was plain to
both boys that they had been drinking more than was good for them, and
they paid no attention to them beyond acknowledging their salutes.

One of the young officers pounded loudly on the table and demanded wine
immediately. The proprietor arose from the table where the lads sat and
hastened to attend to the wants of his customers himself, and soon
several bottles of wine were upon the table.

The proprietor filled the glasses of the young officers, and then, at a
nod from one of them, approached the table where the lads sat and poured
out two more glasses of the sparkling fluid, which he placed before Hal
and Chester.

The French officers at the other table rose, each with his glass in his
hand; then one of them looked toward Hal and Chester, and the latter,
realizing that the young Frenchman was about to propose a toast, also got
to their feet; but instead of holding their wine glasses aloft, the
glasses which they raised held nothing more than water.

The young Frenchman gave his toast.

"France!" he said gravely.

Each man raised his glass to his lips and drained it, but Hal and
Chester drank the toast in clear, cold water. As the first Frenchman
returned his glass to the table, he noticed that the wine before Hal and
Chester remained untouched. His face turned a dull red, and he
approached the lads.

"And why does not monsieur drink with us?" he demanded in a harsh voice,
thrusting his face toward Chester. "Can it be that you are spies?"

"No," said Chester, taking a step backward; "we are not spies. We
are British officers, and we drank your toast in water. We do not
drink wine."

"British officers!" repeated the Frenchman. "Then how comes it that you
wear the uniforms of French lieutenants?"

"That," replied Chester quietly, "is none of your business."

"None of my business!" echoed the Frenchman. "_Mon Dieu_! And what if I
make it some of my business, eh?"

"If I were you," said Chester, "I wouldn't think of such a thing."

The Frenchman took a step backward at the menace in the lad's tone; but
the other French officers now gathered about, and these reenforcements
apparently lent him courage.

"So!" he exclaimed. "It is that we are not good enough to drink
with you, eh?"

"No," replied Chester; "we simply don't drink. That is all. We appreciate
your courtesy in thinking of us, and we drank your toast in water, which
is the strongest drink we ever touch."

Hal, who up to this time had remained silent in his chair, now rose
to his feet.

"Look here," he said, facing the fiery Frenchman; "we are on important
business and haven't time to fool with you. My friend has explained why
we didn't drink wine with you. That should settle the matter."

"But it doesn't settle it," exclaimed the Frenchman, now in a rage. "You
refused to drink with us because you think us not good enough."

"All right, have it that way if you will," said Chester wearily. "If you
say so, then we didn't drink because you are not good enough."

"_Mon Dieu_!" cried the Frenchman, and his hand rested upon the butt of
his revolver. "You have insulted me, and for that you shall pay."

With one hand still resting upon his revolver, he stepped quickly
forward, and before Chester could realize what was up, he slapped the lad
sharply in the face.

This was too much for Chester. Up to this time he had remained perfectly
cool, but the blow in the face, light though it was, was more than he
could stand. He took a quick step forward, and as he did so his right
fist flashed out, and the young Frenchman, struck squarely upon the nose,
went to the floor with blood streaming from his wounded member.

There came several subdued exclamations from the others of the party, and
the hands of the other French officers dropped to their revolvers.

But before any of them could draw, Hal had whipped forth his own
automatics, and covered them.

"I'll blow the head off the first one who makes a move," he said sternly.

The French officers made no move to draw.

The Frenchman whom Chester had knocked down now got to his feet,
considerably sobered up by the force of the lad's blow. He was suffering
more from wounded dignity than anything else, and he was very angry. He
approached Chester.

"For that blow," he said very quietly, "monsieur shall give me

"I'll repeat the dose if that's what you want," said Chester, also
thoroughly aroused, and he took a step forward.

The Frenchman drew back.

"_Non! Non!_" he exclaimed. "You shall give me satisfaction with swords
or pistols, as a gentleman, if, for the moment, you can be one."

"So," said Chester, "I am no gentleman, eh? I'll make you wish you had
never seen me, you little--"

"Hold on! Hold on!" interrupted Hal. "We have other business to attend
to. We have no time for duels."

But for the moment he had relaxed his vigilance, and the nearest officer,
with two quick blows, knocked his revolvers from his hand, and the lad
found himself covered.

"Now," said the young Frenchman to Chester, "will you fight or not?"

"I'll fight," replied the lad calmly.



"It seems to me," said Hal quietly, "that there is enough fighting to be
done at the front without fighting among ourselves. Besides, we have
important business in Paris immediately."

"It won't take long to dispose of this fellow, Hal," said Chester

"Perhaps not," replied Hal, "but you know there is always the chance that
you may fall. Then they would probably drag me into it, and, if I went
down, what would happen to the document we bear?"

"That's true," said Chester. He turned to his adversary. "Is it
understood," he asked, "that, if I fall, there is an end of the quarrel?"

The Frenchman bowed in assent.

"And if you kill me," he said, "my friends will not molest you."

"Well, that suits me," said Chester. "Where and when are we going to
fight this thing out?"

"Immediately," was the reply; "and, with our host's permission, we shall
fight right here, monsieur."

"Any place suits me," said Chester. "And the weapons?"

"The choice lies with you, _monsieur_."

"Very good," said Chester. "Revolvers at ten paces!"

"Ten paces!" exclaimed one of the Frenchmen, stepping back in surprise.
"Surely _monsieur_ is jesting!"

"Not a bit of it," replied Chester quietly. "I want to get close enough
to make sure I can't miss him."

"But, _monsieur_," protested one of the Frenchmen, "it will make it that
much easier for your opponent to hit you also."

"He won't hit me," said Chester. "Don't you worry about that. Revolvers
at ten paces, or there will be no fight."

The French officer who had volunteered to act as the other's
second bowed.

"It shall be as _monsieur_ desires," he said.

The revolvers of the others, which had covered Hal, were now lowered, and
the lad was allowed to pick up his weapons. He approached Chester.

"Are you sure you can get him?" he asked.

"Dead certain," replied Chester. "Look at him now. See how he's shaking.
It's the ten paces that did that. He knows I can't possibly miss him at
that distance, and he is consequently nervous for fear his first shot
may go wild."

There was truth in the lad's words. Chester's antagonist was plainly
nervous, and he and his second talked together in low tones. Finally the
second came over to Hal.

"My friend," he said, "wishing to spare your friend's life, is willing to
accept his apology."

"There'll be no apology," growled Chester, who had overheard this remark.

"But the ten paces, _monsieur_," protested the Frenchman. "It will be
murder. My friend is a crack shot. At the distance he cannot miss. He
would give your friend a chance for his life by lengthening the

"Ten paces or nothing," replied Hal.

The Frenchman bowed and returned to his principal. They conversed in low
tones, and finally the second announced that the terms were satisfactory.

As the two principals came together Hal perceived a peculiar gleam in the
eye of the Frenchman, and realized in a moment that Chester's antagonist
had some scheme up his sleeve. Hal thought rapidly, and then drew a
breath of relief. He believed he had solved the Frenchman's plan and he
determined to thwart it.

The two principals, according to the arrangements made, were to stand
back to back, and, at the count of three, each take five steps, turn and
fire at will. Each weapon had been carefully examined by both seconds and
all cartridges removed but two. Consequently, each was to be allowed two
shots, if necessary, and, in the event that neither fell, honor was to be
declared appeased. It was also stipulated that should one of the
principals fire before he had taken five paces he should be shot down by
the other's second.

The seconds were the only two permitted to have arms besides the
principals. Hal had insisted upon this, and, accordingly, the others
turned their weapons over to the proprietor, who, at Hal's command, had
taken them to the next room.

Chester and his opponent stood back to back, and Hal, who had called the
toss of a coin, began to count:

"One! Two! Three!"

At the word Chester and the French officer who had stood in the center of
the room walked slowly away from each other with measured stride.

Two steps, three, four, the young Frenchman took, and then wheeled
suddenly and brought his revolver to bear upon the back of his
antagonist, who was taking the full five strides. The Frenchman's finger
tightened on the trigger.

But Hal had been watching him like a hawk. His quick mind had detected
the treachery of the Frenchman before the two had taken their places, and
he held his own revolver ready, as did the Frenchman's second.

As the Frenchman wheeled suddenly, upon his fourth step, and his finger
pressed the trigger, Hal's own weapon spoke suddenly. With a cry the
Frenchman threw up both hands, and pitched to the floor on his face.

The next moment Hal's revolver covered the Frenchman's second, before the
latter could raise his own weapon--had such been his intention--and in a
stern voice the lad cried:

"So this is French bravery, eh? You shoot men in the back! No wonder your
principal agreed upon ten paces."

Chester, having wheeled quickly at his fifth step, took in the situation
at a glance, and his revolver covered the other French officers. One of
the latter, raising a hand, stepped forward.

"_Monsieur_," he said quietly to Chester, "I would have you believe that
neither I nor my friends had a hand in this. Had we known what our friend
contemplated, we would not have allowed the duel to proceed."

Chester glanced at the Frenchman keenly for a moment, then lowered
his revolver.

"I believe you," he said simply.

Hal also now lowered the weapon with which he had covered the Frenchman's
second, and the latter also made profuse protests of innocence, which
both lads believed to be true. Then he bent over Chester's late

"He is still alive," he said, looking up after an examination. "The
bullet struck him in the chest. With proper attention he will recover."
He approached Chester and held out his hand. "I regret this unpleasant
incident exceedingly," he said. "I trust you will absolve us from blame."

"Of course," said Chester, grasping the outstretched hand. "I would be
loath to believe that all Frenchmen are not true soldiers and honorable

Hal also shook hands all around with the young Frenchmen, and a few
moments later announced that they must be on their way. The Frenchmen
escorted them to their car, which was now ready and waiting for them,
and, as Hal sent it forward with a lurch, they sped the lads on their way
with rousing cheers.

"By Jove! That was a pretty narrow squeak!" Chester called over Hal's
shoulder, as the car swept from the little city of Nanteul and sped on
across the open country. "If you hadn't been on the alert I would be with
the angels now."

"I don't know how I came to suspect him," replied Hal, also raising his
voice to a shout, to make himself heard above the roaring of the flying
automobile. "Something seemed to tell me he was up to some deviltry, and
I figured it out before you took your places. So, when he turned before
time, I was ready for him."

"And a good thing for me that you were," Chester muttered to himself.

The car sped on.

Through Dammartin they dashed with slightly diminished speed, and,
bearing off a trifle to the north, passed through St. Gonesse. Ten
minutes later they came within sight of Paris and Hal slowed down.

"Well, I guess we won't have any more trouble before we get to Paris," he
said. "I judge that we are on the outskirts now."

The car continued at a more moderate gait. Passing vehicles became more
frequent now, and the lad was forced to go very slowly in some places to
avoid dense crowds of pedestrians and troops.

"Where are we going to find the Prime Minister, Hal?" asked Chester.

"By Jove! I hadn't thought of that!" exclaimed Hal. "We'll have to
find out."

They were in the very heart of the city now. Hal brought the car to a
stand, near one of the city's police officers and accosted the latter
in French.

"We bear a communication from General Joffre to the Prime Minister," he
said. "Can you tell us where to find him? We are strangers in the city."

The policeman was very polite. He signaled another officer, who was
passing, and repeated Hal's request. The latter immediately climbed into
the car beside Hal.

"I happen to know," he said, "that the Prime Minister at the present
moment is at the Chamber of Deputies, where he is making an address. If
your business is important, no doubt you will be permitted to see him as
soon as he has concluded."

He pointed out the way, and Hal drove the car slowly along the streets.
They drew up at last before an imposing building, which, the policeman
informed them, was where the Chamber of Deputies sat. The lads alighted
and ascended the steps.

At the entrance they were stopped by a soldier, who demanded their

"We bear a message from General Joffre to the Prime Minister," said Hal.

The soldier summoned an officer, to whom Hal repeated their errand. The
latter motioned the lads to follow him, and showed them into a
waiting-room and took his departure, ordering them to wait.

"The Prime Minister has concluded his address," he told them. "I shall
take your message."

Half an hour later a man appeared in the doorway. He was slender and
rather tall. "Lieutenants Paine and Crawford?" he asked.

"Yes, sir," replied the lads, getting to their feet.

"I," said the newcomer, "am the Prime Minister."



Hal and Chester made a profound bow.

"I have been informed," continued the Prime Minister, "that you bear a
message from General Joffre containing proof of information you obtained
bearing on a plot to kidnap the President of France."

"Yes, sir," replied Hal, and from his pocket produced the document, which
he passed to the Prime Minister.

The latter broke the seal and ran through it hurriedly.

"Hm-m-m," he said at last. "Not as much information as I believe we
shall need."

"But surely you know enough to protect the President," said Hal.

The Prime Minister looked at him somewhat coldly, and Hal drew back,
confused at having been so bold. The Prime Minister touched a bell upon a
desk and an attendant entered.

"Have General Gallieni summoned here immediately," he instructed.

The attendant bowed and departed. For half an hour the Prime Minister
paced up and down the room, deep in thought. The lads stood silent,
neither caring to interrupt his meditations. Finally the attendant again
entered the room, and announced:

"General Gallieni!"

A short, squat man, attired in a brilliant red-and-blue uniform, with
medals flashing upon his breast, strode into the room and came to
attention before the Prime Minister.

"You summoned me, sir?"

"Yes, General. These," indicating Hal and Chester, "are the two officers
who overheard the plot to kidnap President Poincare. I have called you
here that you may hear their story at first hand." He turned to the two
lads. "This," he said, "is General Gallieni, military governor of Paris.
You will repeat to him what you overheard."

In a few brief words Hal did so, and, when he had concluded the Prime
Minister passed the message from General Joffre to General Gallieni.
The latter ran his eye over it quickly, and for some moments thereafter
was silent.

"And you say that this plot was to be carried out in the event that the
German offensive failed?" he asked at length.

"Such is my understanding, sir," replied Hal.

"And you say a German agent is supposed to have been in communication
with Pierre Duval, recognized as King of the Apaches?"

"Yes, sir."

General Gallieni turned to the Prime Minister.

"I have made inquiries," he said, "and I have learned enough to
substantiate this story. We can, of course, foil the plot with ease, but
that is not enough."

"No," the Prime Minister agreed, "that is not enough."

"We must apprehend Duval himself," continued the military governor.

"Exactly," said the Prime Minister, "and with him sufficient of his men
to cause the others to realize that when they plot treason to France
their necks are in jeopardy."

"Precisely," agreed General Gallieni. "But this Duval is a slippery
fellow and hard to catch. I have learned that, unlike other Apaches, he
comes of better blood; in fact, is supposed to be a gentleman. But,
beyond this, I have learned nothing except the existence of the plot to
kidnap the President."

"But the police and the secret service men," said the Prime Minister,
"haven't they been able--"

"The police and secret service men, bah!" interrupted General Gallieni.
"They have learned nothing. Their faces are so familiar to the denizens
of the underworld as to make them absolutely useless. I have set some of
my officers on the trail, but they seem to have met with no better luck.
No; we must have men whose identities cannot be so easily established;
strangers, say, who are willing to risk their lives by going into the
haunts of the Apaches, and, perhaps, putting themselves in their power."

"Then, sir," said Chester, taking a step forward, "you need seek no
further. My friend and I shall be glad to undertake the work."

"You!" exclaimed the Prime Minister, starting back in surprise. "Why, you
are nothing but boys."

"True," said Hal, somewhat nettled, "but more than once we have
accomplished men's work."

General Gallieni looked at them long and carefully. Then he once more
turned his eyes upon the contents of General Joffre's message.

"General Joffre," he said quietly, "speaks highly of you both. He says
that you are to be trusted implicitly and he appears to have great
confidence in your resourcefulness. Upon his recommendation I should say
that, if you are willing to undertake the work, you would come as near
bringing it to a successful termination as any men we might find."

"Thank you, sir," said Hal quietly. "We are both willing and eager to
make the attempt."

"Then," said the general, "we shall consider the matter settled."

"But," protested the Prime Minister, "it seems to me that they are much
too young to be allowed to assume such a risk."

"From General Joffre's letter," remarked the military governor of Paris
dryly, "I should say that they have already assumed risks every whit as
great." He turned again to Hal and Chester. "Do you know anything of the
Apaches of Paris?" he asked.

"Only what we have read," replied Chester. "I should say that they are of
the lowest possible order of criminals."

"You are entirely right," replied General Gallieni. "The Apaches of Paris
have not acquired an undeserved reputation. There is no crime on the
calendar they would not commit for a few cents. From petty thievery to
murder they have advanced by degrees, until to-day the life of a person
who ventures among them is not worth a cent, should they believe he had a
franc in his pocket.

"The Apaches infest the poorer sections of the city, notably the banks of
the Seine and portions of the Quartier Latin. They seldom venture from
their own haunts, and, like cats, do most of their prowling and evil
deeds during the darkest hours of the night. Nowhere in the world is
there a more villainous band of cutthroats. You would think that, in
times like these they would rally to the support of their country, but
they have not. And now comes this plot to turn their President over to
the enemy."

The lads had listened with great interest to this account of the men, in
whose midst they had volunteered to risk their lives. They realized the
danger that confronted them in such a venture, but neither was minded to
give it up because of this.

"Well, we shall have to be careful, sir," said Hal. "We will dress poorly
and will show no money. If you will put us on the right road I am sure
that we shall learn something of value in the course of a day or two."

"It is still not too late to draw out," said the general, eying
them closely.

"Well, we won't draw out," said Hal quietly.

"I should say not," agreed Chester.

"Report to me to-night at my quarters in the Hotel de Ville, say at 9
o'clock, and I will give you your directions and what other information I
can that will be of service to you. In the meantime, I would advise that
you seek rest, for you are likely to need it."

The military governor took his departure, and soon the lads also left the
presence of the Prime Minister, who had directed them to a hotel nearby.

In this little hotel, clean and comfortable, the lads sent out and
procured some old clothes that would give them the appearance of dire
poverty. Then they examined and cleaned their automatics and laid in an
extra supply of cartridges.

"Well, I guess that's about all we can do till to-night," said Hal.
"Let's get a little sleep."

"My sentiments exactly," said Chester.

It was perhaps 4 o'clock in the afternoon when they arose. Outside the
sun was shining brightly.

"By Jove!" said Chester. "This is too nice a day to remain in the hotel.
Let's take a walk."

"Agreed," said Hal.

They left the hotel, and for an hour strolled about the city, looking at
the sights of interest.

"By the way," said Chester, "what's this Hotel de Ville where we are to
report to General Gallieni to-night?"

"Why," said Hal, "that's the city hall, or at least what we would call
the city hall in America. I suppose that when Paris was put under martial
law the military governor, who, of course, superseded all civic
authorities, at once took up his quarters there."

"I see," said Chester.

Strolling along Bois de Boulougne, the lads saw, some distance ahead of
them, a crowd gathered about what appeared to be a knot of struggling
men. They hurried up and peered over the shoulders of the other

In the center of the throng was a young man, defending himself as best he
could, against the attacks of half a dozen smaller assailants, young
rowdies and ruffians.

Even as the lads looked the assailed snatched a club from the hands of
one of his opponents, and laid about him lustily, clearing a small space
on all sides of him.

But the weight of numbers was bound to tell, and the assailants closed in
again, while the crowd stood and laughed.

Such unequal odds did not appeal to the two lads.

"Come on, Hal," said Chester. "We can't stand idly by and let that crowd
of ruffians beat that fellow up."

"I should say not," said Hal. "Come on."

Elbowing and shoving, the lads forced their way through the crowd and
fell upon the assailants from the rear. The young man to whose assistance
they had come welcomed this unexpected aid with a slight smile, and the
three stood side by side and fought off the ruffians.

But the ranks of the latter were increased now, and the lads were hard
pressed. They were giving a good account of themselves, but it was
evident that, unless help arrived, they would get the worst of it.

Suddenly a tall man in a heavy fur overcoat, who had alighted from an
automobile to see what the excitement was about, after a quick glance at
the combatants, uttered a cry and dashed forward, elbowing his way
through the crowd.

Hal and Chester each felt himself seized by the shoulder by a strong
hand, and a voice exclaimed:

"So! I have found you young scalawags at last!"

At the sound of this voice Hal and Chester stood stockstill, and from the
crowd came the cry of: "The police!"

Hal glanced quickly into the face of the man who held him and his chum
firmly by the arm. The face was set in a stern expression, but there was
a kindly smile behind it and the eyes twinkled.

Chester voiced his astonishment with two words.

"Uncle John!" he cried.



"Mr. Crawford!" cried Hal, equally as surprised.

For the man who held the two lads in a vise-like grip was the brother of
Chester's father, whom they had last seen in America.

Uncle John smiled grimly.

"Yes, it's me," he said, paying no heed to his slip in grammar, "and now
that I've found you I am going to take you with me."

Still grasping each by the shoulder, he led them through the crowd and
pushed them into the waiting automobile. He then gave the driver an
address and climbed in himself. The machine started off.

"Now," said Uncle John, settling himself comfortably, "tell me where you
have been. Both your mothers are frantic, and they set me a strenuous job
when they turned me loose on your trail. I have been looking for you for
months. Where have you been, and what are you doing in those French

"But where is mother?" asked Hal.

"You'll see her soon enough," was the grim response, "and yours, too," he
added, turning to Chester.

"Is mother here in Paris?" asked Chester.

"She is; you'll be with her in fifteen minutes."

"And mine, too?" asked Hal.

"Yes; now tell me about yourselves."

"Well," said Chester, "there is not much to tell. I suppose Mrs. Paine
told you how we became separated in Berlin?"


"Well, we managed to escape from Germany and made our way to Liege just
before the German assault on that fortress."

"And were you there during its defense?" asked Uncle John in surprise.

"Yes, we were there. We were fortunate enough to render the Belgian
commander some slight service, for which we were later made lieutenants
in the Belgian army."

"Lieutenants!" ejaculated Uncle John.


"Then what are you doing in French uniforms?"

"I am coming to that. Later we saw service with the British troops, and
also with the Cossacks in Russia. We were captured several days ago by
the Germans, and we donned these uniforms when we finally got into the
French lines. To-day we came to Paris with a communication from General
Joffre for the Prime Minister."

Uncle John sat straight up in his seat during this recital, so great was
his surprise.

"And you have gone through all this unwounded?" he asked.

"Well, no," said Chester; "we have both been wounded, but we are all
right now."

"And to-night," said Hal, "we have further work to do."

"Well," said Uncle John grimly, "I think your fighting days are over."

"Over!" echoed both lads in consternation.

"Yes. You will accompany us back to the United States the day after
to-morrow. In the meantime I shall make it my business to see that you
stay in the hotel and are not allowed to go gallivanting about."

"It can't be done, Uncle John," said Chester quietly. "We have duties
to perform."

"So you have," returned Uncle John, "and the chief one is to return home
where you belong."

Chester was about to reply, but thought better of it, and remained
silent. At Uncle John's request, Hal filled in the details of their
adventures, and, as the account progressed, Uncle John became more and
more surprised.

At length the machine drew up in front of one of the largest hotels in
the city and the three alighted and went in. Five minutes later Chester
was in the arms of his mother and Hal was in the arms of his. Both
mothers wept tears of joy at having their sons with them again.

"We'll go home immediately," said Mrs. Paine.

"On the first steamer," agreed Mrs. Crawford.

"I'll go now and see about accommodations," said Uncle John.

He left the room.

"I am sorry, mother," said Hal, "but we cannot go home now."

"Cannot go home!" exclaimed Mrs. Paine. "Why?"

"Because we have duties to perform here," replied Hal quietly.

"Duties? What have you to do with this war? You are an American."

"Nevertheless," said Hal, "we have taken the oath of allegiance,
and we must stay, at least until we have accomplished the mission
we are now on."

"What is the mission?" asked his mother.

"I am sorry, mother, but I cannot say," was Hal's reply.

"Is it dangerous?"

"Well, not particularly so," said Hal.

"And you won't tell me what it is?"

"I cannot. It is not my secret to tell. It belongs to France."

"In that event," said Mrs. Paine, who had been a soldier's wife, "I will
not press you."

"Thank you, mother," said Hal gratefully.

A similar conversation had ensued between Chester and Mrs. Crawford, with
like result.

"But, if we let you go on this mission, will you then return home?" asked
Mrs. Crawford.

"We can't promise, mother," said Chester.

"Then," said Mrs. Crawford, "I shall not permit you to go."

Chester made no reply to this.

Mrs. Paine also refused her consent unless Hal would promise to return
home after the termination of the mission on which they were now engaged,
and Hal would make no such promise.

An hour later Uncle John returned and to him the two mothers told
their troubles.

"Well," said Uncle John calmly, "I'll fix 'em."

It was now after six o'clock, and all descended to dinner. The meal over,
Uncle John called the two lads into his own room. Motioning them to
seats, he stepped out the door, and quickly turned the key in the lock.

"Now," he said from the outside, "we shall see whether you'll stay or

Hal and Chester looked at each other in dismay.

"Great Scott!" cried the latter. "What are we going to do now?"

Hal looked at his watch.

"After seven o'clock," he said. "We haven't much time."

He looked about the room, and his eye fell upon the telephone. Quickly he
stepped forward and placed the receiver to his ear. After some
questioning he turned to Hal with a smile.

"I guess it's all right now," he said.

"What are you trying to do?" asked Chester.

"You'll see," said Hal.

He turned to the telephone.

"I wish to speak with General Gallieni," he said. "Tell him it is the
party he is expecting to-night at nine. All right." He was silent a
moment, then spoke again: "General Gallieni?"

"Yes," came the reply over the wire.

"This is Lieutenant Paine, whom you are depending on for to-night. We are
prisoners in room number 257," and Hal gave the name of the hotel.

"What!" came the surprised reply. "By whom are you being held?"

"By our uncle. Cannot you send a detachment of soldiers with orders to
take us before you at once?"

Hal heard a slight chuckle wafted over the wire.

"It shall be done," came the reply, and the military governor of
Paris rang off.

Hal turned to Chester with a smile.

"I guess that will fix it," he said.

"Well, I should say so," said Chester. "But what will Uncle John and our
mothers think when we are dragged away, apparently as prisoners?"

"I don't know what they'll think," said Hal, "but we are in honor
bound to see this thing through, and we must not let sentiment stand
in the way."

"I guess you are right," said Chester slowly, after a moment's

"I know I am," said Hal, and so the matter rested.

It was nearly eight o'clock, as Hal perceived by a glance at his watch,
when the heavy sound of tramping feet became audible in the hall.

"Room 257," came a voice from without.

There was a loud rap on the door.

"Who's there?" called Hal, thinking to keep up the deception.

"Open the door in the name of the law!" came back the response.

From an adjoining room Mrs. Paine, Mrs. Crawford and Uncle John were
startled by the pounding on the door, and looked into the hall just as
the above conversation through the door took place. Uncle John
immediately stepped forward.

"What is the meaning of this?" he demanded.

The French officer turned upon him.

"None of your business," he replied. He turned and rapped on the door
again. "Open the door," he commanded, "or I shall break it in."

"Hold on there!" said Uncle John. "I have the key to the door. Tell me
what you want with those young men and I'll unlock the door."

"I am ordered to take them before General Gallieni at once," said the
officer more civilly.

"The military governor!" exclaimed Uncle John.

"Exactly, _monsieur_," said the officer, "and now, as you have the key,
will you please to unlock the door immediately?"

"But what does the general want with them?" asked Uncle John anxiously.

"I cannot say," was the reply. "Will you unlock the door or shall I be
compelled to use force?"

Without further words Uncle John unlocked the door, and the officer,
followed by two of his men, strode in. They approached the two lads.

"You are under arrest," said the officer briefly.

Mrs. Paine and Mrs. Crawford attempted to reach their sons, but the
soldiers barred their progress.

"Don't worry, mother," said Hal, as they were led by, and he smiled.

Uncle John caught the smile and a great light dawned upon him.

"Well, by George!" he said to himself, "I didn't think they had it in

He allayed the fears of the anxious mothers by telling them what he had



Hal did not see the look of understanding upon Uncle John's face, as they
were led along, but Chester did. He smiled to himself.

"Uncle John has caught on," he said to his friend.

"Caught on?" echoed Hal.

"Yes. He knows that we have hoodwinked him."

"So much the better, then," said Hal. "It will save our mothers some
worry." He turned to the officer who conducted them as soon as they were
out on the street. "It's all right now," he said. "We can go the rest of
the way alone."

"Perhaps you can," was the reply, "but you won't. You'll come right
along with us."

"But," protested the lad, "we must first go to our other hotel and get
the clothes we have secured for our work."

"You will have to talk to General Gallieni about that," said the
officer gruffly.

"But General Gallieni knows all about our plans."

"Does he? I'm not so sure. However, I guess he will before long?"

"Look here," said Hal, "what's the matter with you?"

"Come, now," said the officer, "that's enough of that. March."

Chester broke into a laugh, and Hal glanced at him in surprise.

"What are you laughing at?" he demanded.

"Why," said Chester, "I am laughing because you can't see through this."

"Is that so?" said Hal, somewhat nettled. "Perhaps you can see
through it?"

"Of course," said Chester. "General Gallieni simply sent this squad after
us. He didn't explain the situation to the officer."

"By Jove!" said Hal. "Now, why didn't I think of that? It's plain enough,
now that you speak of it."

They marched along in silence, and soon were ushered into the presence of
General Gallieni. The latter dismissed the other officers with a wave of
his hand and turned to the lads.

"Well, I see you escaped," he said, with a semblance of a smile on his
grim features.

"Yes, sir; thanks to you, sir," said Hal, also smiling.

"Thank yourselves," said the general. "It took some resourcefulness to
think of such a plan. It proves to me that you can use your heads. I
am, therefore, more confident that you may be successful in your
desperate work."

Hal and Chester were greatly flattered by this high praise, but they
simply saluted and said:

"Thank you, sir."

"Now," said the general, "you may as well go about the work at once.
Further delay is useless. But you cannot go in those uniforms. Didn't you
lay in some other clothes, as you suggested?"

"We did, sir," replied Hal, "but the officer who conducted us here
wouldn't let us go after them."

"True," said the general. "I didn't explain the situation to him, because
I feared that he might possibly give the _coup_ away. Perhaps I can fix
you up here, however."

He struck a little bell on his desk a sharp tap. Immediately an orderly
entered and to him the general spoke briefly. The orderly saluted and
departed, returning a few moments later with a bundle of ragged clothing.

"You may go into the next room and change," said the general, and the
lads hastened to obey.

Ten minutes later, dirty, ragged and unkempt, they once more stood before
General Gallieni. The latter surveyed them critically.

"You'll do," he said at last, with an approving nod. "Now--are you

"Two automatics each, sir, and a good supply of cartridges," said Hal.

"_Bien_! Here," the general handed each a little silver whistle, "should
you ever be in a tight place and in need of assistance, blow these, and,
if help is near, you will get it."

The lads shoved the whistles out of sight in the clothes.

"I guess that is about all," said the general. "Remember, the main thing
I want is Duval. Establish his true identity and learn where he can be
found and you will have done enough. The rest of the work will be for
other hands. By the way, if I were you, I would go first to the _Quartier
Latin_, and loiter about there. You know where it is?"

"No, sir," said Hal.

The general gave them the necessary directions and then rose.

"That is all," he said, and the lads, realizing that their interview was
at an end, saluted and took their departure.

For an hour they walked along the streets, and at last found themselves
in the midst of the Latin Quarter of the French capital. Here they saw
many others of their own apparent ilk, dressed in rags, dirty, and
carrying a certain hangdog and famished look.

"Guess we are in the right place," said Hal to Chester in a low voice.

"Looks like it," said Hal, "but the question is, how are we going to find
out anything?"

"We'll have to trust to luck," said Chester.

But Dame Fortune smiled upon them sooner than they could possibly have
anticipated, and it came about in this wise:

As the lads walked slowly along they were attracted by a terrible din and
confusion in the distance. They stopped for a moment and listened and
then went forward swiftly.

Rounding a corner into a dark side street they came abruptly upon the
scene of the confusion. A dirty little street Arab was defending himself
with bravery and skill against an overwhelming number of other rowdies.
The little fellow was fighting with tooth, nail and foot, but in spite of
his agility and stubbornness, he was getting the worst of the encounter.

He went down and the others piled on top of him.

"Come on, Hal," exclaimed Chester, "let's give the fellow a hand."

"All right," agreed the latter; "but, remember, no guns. It would
give us away."

They dashed quickly forward, and, striking out right and left, cleared a
path for themselves and were soon at the side of the fallen man. While
Hal stood off the enemy Chester bent down and lifted the little man to
his feet. The latter recognized the touch of a friendly hand and quickly
jumped up.

"Thanks," he said briefly, and jumped to Hal's side to renew the

Chester sprang forward with him. And these reenforcements reached Hal
none too soon, for he was being sorely pressed by his foes. One of the
enemy, making a slight detour, suddenly launched himself headlong at Hal,
and came down on his shoulder, and with his talon-like fingers clawed at
the lad's face.

With a quick twist of his arm the lad succeeded in catching his opponent
by the throat, and, exerting great pressure with his other arm, bore
upward heavily. There was a choking screech from the man and he lay limp
in Hal's arms. Then the lad, raising him at arm's length, dashed him full
in the faces of the foe.

The little man to whose help the lads had come took this in out of the
tail of his eye.

"_Bien! Bien!_" he exclaimed, and dashed forward.

Hal and Chester were right behind him.

Hal struck out with his right, and one of the enemy toppled over with an
oath. Another went down before his left fist. Chester, with a heavy blow,
felled another of their opponents, and the little man, snarling and
fighting with hands and feet, quickly disposed of two more.

The enemy drew back and the three had time for a breathing spell. Their
foes, however, had no mind to give up the fight, and with a sudden
concerted dash, surrounded the trio.

The fighting became fast and terrific. The weight of numbers was
beginning to tell, and suddenly Chester went down before a heavy smash on
the jaw. He was badly shaken up, but was not unconscious. As he scrambled
to his feet, the clear sound of a whistle shattered the night.
Immediately the fighting stopped and the assailants drew back.

"_Les Gendarmes_!" exclaimed one, and took to his heels, followed
by the rest.

"_Les Gendarmes_!" exclaimed the little man to whose assistance the lads
had come. "_Voila_!"

Chester got to his feet quickly, and, with Hal, dashed forward upon the
heels of the little man. Round corner after corner, through dark streets
and darker alleys he ran, the lads following close behind him. Finally,
out of breath and tired of limb and body, he came to a halt in a secluded
spot in a narrow street.

The lads came to a stop beside him. The man immediately threw himself
upon the ground and the lads did likewise. Here, for a few moments, all
lay silent, panting.

Finally the little man spoke.

"You came to my aid just in time," he said, "and I thank you. But for you
I should have been killed."

"Killed!" exclaimed Hal. "And why would they have killed you?"

"Because," said the little man, "I myself picked the pocket of a man whom
one of their number was trailing."

"I see," said Chester, manifesting no surprise, for he was well aware
that the street Arab had taken them for his own kind. To have betrayed
surprise would have been to invite suspicion.

"Now," said the little man, "we shall have to hide. The police will be
scouring the neighborhood. Have you a refuge handy?"

"No," said Hal.

"Then you shall come with me." He hesitated a moment, then added: "Which
do you love best, your country or gold?"

Hal took a long chance.

"Gold," he said briefly.

The little man slapped him familiarly on the back.

"As all true Apaches!" he exclaimed. "_Bien_! Then you shall come with

He led the way along the dark street and the lads followed him.



Before a low-lying, tumble-down wooden shack of but a single story the
little man paused and glanced furtively about. Then he darted quickly up
the steps, and, motioning to the lads to follow him, disappeared within.

Inside Hal and Chester found themselves in what appeared to be a narrow
passageway. It was damp and evil-smelling and the darkness was intense.
The lads were unable to see a yard in front of them. The voice of the
little man pierced the darkness.

"Come," he said, and the lads advanced in the darkness.

They came presently to a flight of stairs, leading down, and they
descended slowly, feeling their way that they might not fall. At the
bottom there was still nothing but darkness. Here their guide was
waiting for them and allowed them to pass. A moment and there came to
the ears of the lads a dull clang, as if a heavy iron door had been
closed behind them.

And this, in truth, was the case.

Ahead of them in the dark hall their guide had opened the door without
their knowledge that such a thing existed, and now that they had passed
through he closed it again. The lads waited until he again brushed by
them and took the lead. Then they followed.

It seemed to Hal and Chester that the passageway wound about
considerably, for they were conscious of making several sharp turns.
Then, from ahead, a faint glow of light pierced the darkness and they
could make out their surroundings. In the rear it was perfectly dark and
on each side of the narrow passageway the dark, grimy walls rose sheer
for perhaps twenty-five feet. The place reeked with the smell of foul
air and tobacco smoke.

Now that the light shattered the blackness the little man, who had
advanced as soft-footed and as sure-footed as a cat in spite of the
darkness, increased his stride and made toward the light. He brought up
directly against another door, through cracks in which the light
streamed. Here he turned to Hal and Chester.

"I am Jean Garnier," he said. "And you?"

"Hugo Choteau," replied Hal, giving the first name that came into his

"I am Victor Doubet," said Chester, and added to himself, "I hope I can
remember it."

He kept repeating it over and over to himself, that he might grow
accustomed to it.

"_Bien_," said Jean. "Come! I shall introduce you to my friends."

He knocked sharply on the door--three light taps, followed by one loud

From within came the sound of scraping chairs, followed by footsteps
approaching the door. Came the sound of bars being removed and placed on
the floor and a bolt shot back with a crash. Light immediately flooded
the passageway as the door was opened a crack and an evil-looking face
peered forth.

"Oh, it is you, Jean," he said, after peering intently at the lads'
guide. "Come in."

He threw the door open wider.

"Yes, it is I," said the Apache, "and with me two friends."

"If they are friends of yours they are welcome," said the man inside.

The three entered the room together and the man who had opened the door
immediately re-bolted and re-barred it.

Inside Hal and Chester looked quickly about, but still not so as to give
an impression of undue curiosity. The room was perfectly bare, except for
a single large table and probably fifty old wooden chairs, which were
scattered about without regard to order. At the far end of the room there
was another door, but except for this there was no means of egress.

In various parts of the room sat perhaps a dozen men, all of evil visage,
their hats pulled low over their eyes, cigarettes protruding from their
lips at a drooping angle. They paid no heed to the entrance of Jean, Hal
and Chester, although, from under their hats, they eyed them keenly.

Jean turned to the man who had admitted them and introduced the two lads
with a flourish of his right hand.

"These, Georges," he said, "are my friends, Hugo Choteau and Victor
Doubet, who, but a few moments since, saved me from death."

Georges' only reply was a grunt. Plainly he was little interested in the
newcomers, as long as they were vouched for by Jean, and he showed no
interest in Jean's recent escape from death. Apparently this was no
novelty. He resumed his seat at the table, and putting up his feet and
drawing his hat even farther over his face, lighted a cigarette and
settled himself in comfort and closed his eyes.

Now that he had piloted them to safety Jean took no further thought of
the boys, but himself dropped into a chair, propped his feet up, lighted
a cigarette and followed Georges' example.

Hal and Chester also sank into chairs and did likewise, both, however,
keeping one eye open.

Directly Jean sat up and from his pocket produced a pack of cigarettes,
which he extended to Hal.

"Smoke?" he said laconically.

Hal was in a quandary. He was not a smoker himself, yet he realized that
the Paris Apache who was not a victim of nicotine was indeed a scarce
article. But he muttered to himself, as he selected a cigarette and
passed the pack on to Chester:

"Here is where smoking a cigarette may save our lives."

Chester's mind followed along on this course, and, after passing the pack
back to Jean, and accepting a match, both lads lighted up in most
approved fashion.

The wants of his guests thus attended to, Jean left them to their own
thoughts, and gave them no further notice.

The Apache is not a talkative man, and therefore there was not the sound
of a human voice to break the death-like stillness of the foul-smelling
den. For perhaps an hour and a half all sat without so much as moving.

Suddenly the stillness was shattered by a resounding knock on the door by
which the lads had so recently entered--three light taps, followed by a
single loud tap. Immediately Georges was upon his feet again, and
unlocked and unbarred the door and peered out. Then he threw wide the
door and another man entered the room.

Now there was something in the appearance of this newcomer that set him
somewhat apart from the other inmates of the den, and when he spoke his
tones were much softer than the voices of the true Apache; but it carried
an evil ring.

"The chief will be here within the hour," he said to Georges. "He desires
that you have all here before he arrives."

"It shall be done," replied Georges, eying the newcomer with some
disfavor because of his pomposity.

The newcomer walked across the room and sat down. As he did so his eyes
fell upon Hal and Chester, slouched back in their chairs. Immediately he
was on his feet.

"Who are these?" he demanded of Georges. "Their faces are
unfamiliar to me."

"Friends of Jean Garnier," replied Georges briefly.

Jean was immediately on his feet and approached the questioner.

"Yes, they are friends of mine," he said, "and, as true Apaches, they
love gold better than anything else. What have you to say about it?" and
his hand slipped to his belt.

It was plain to Hal and Chester that the man was not frightened by this
show of hostility, for he smiled slightly and shrugged his shoulders.

"Oh, nothing at all," he said. "What are one or two Apaches more or less?
You are all of the same breed."

He turned his back on Jean and sat down. Producing a monogramed cigarette
case he opened it, extracted a cigarette, and lighted up. He paid no
further heed to those about him.

Hal and Chester, out of the tail of their eyes, surveyed him critically.
The man had now removed his overcoat and the lads saw that his clothes
were neatly pressed and of good texture. A diamond glistened in his tie.
Plainly he was no Apache.

Georges, in the meantime, had been busy. He aroused several of the
apparently sleeping men, spoke a few words to them, and the latter
hurried away. Some minutes later they returned, and after them came
others. These drifted in gradually now and slunk into chairs. When the
supply of chairs had been exhausted newcomers sat on the floor.

Soon the room was full to overflowing.

The man who had accosted Hal and Chester now threw away his cigarette and
once more approached the lads. Jean, perceiving this, also left his chair
and came forward.

The man whom Hal and Chester surmised was some sort of a lieutenant of
the Apache chief, addressed them.

"Do you know what we are here for?" he asked.

"No," said Hal.

Chester also shook his head.

"Well, I'll tell you," said the man. "We are here to make money. The
President is sought by the Germans, and we are to see that he is
delivered safely into their hands. For this each man is to receive a
handful of German gold. Now, it makes little difference whether you are
with us or not. If you are with us, all right--we can use a few more men.
If not, you will never leave here alive."

Before either Hal or Chester could reply Jean stepped forward.

"Of course they are with us," he said, thrusting his face close to that
of the lads' questioner.

Calmly the man extended one hand, placed it squarely over Jean's face and
shoved him violently backward.

"This," he said quietly, "is none of your business. So keep out."

The little man uttered a cry of rage and made as if to draw a knife; but,
apparently thinking better of it, returned to his chair and subsided.

The man turned to Hal.

"Are you with us?" he asked.

"Yes," replied Hal.

"And you?" turning to Chester.


There came a commanding knock on the door. Georges sprang forward and
flung it wide, and there strode into the room a tall, slender man, in
evening dress, shining top hat and white kid gloves. A black mask
covered his face.

"Pierre Duval," whispered Hal to Chester, "the King of the Apaches!"



Immediately all in the room rose to their feet, Hal and Chester doing
likewise. Duval strode straight to the table in the center of the room
without so much as a glance about, and sat down at its head. Then the
others resumed their seats.

Duval turned to Georges.

"Are we all here?" he demanded, in a low, soft voice.

"Yes, sir," replied Georges, "and two besides."

"Bring the strangers before me," ordered the chief.

At a sign from Georges, Hal and Chester advanced and stood before
the Apache king. The latter surveyed them long and carefully
through his mask.

"Names?" he asked briefly.

The lads gave their assumed ones.

"You know what we are here for?" was the next question.

The lads signified that they did.

"And you are with us?"

"Yes," both replied.

"_Bien_! Back to your places."

The lads retired.

Now Duval rose and addressed the others.

"Since our last meeting it has been decided not to kidnap the President,"
he said slowly.

Exclamations of disappointment escaped the men sitting about.

"But," continued Duval, "there nevertheless will be work for some of us
that will mean additional gold for all."

Cries of satisfaction greeted this statement.

"It has been decided," Duval went on, emphasizing each word, "that
the President must be put out of the way. Are there any present who
object to this?"

He swept the room with his gaze.

Hal and Chester, although taken somewhat aback by this cold-blooded
statement, manifested no surprise. Neither was there a word from any of
the assemblage, and Duval continued again:

"Now, for the honor of accomplishing this work you shall draw lots."

From his pocket he produced a small box.

"In here," he said calmly, "are enough balls so that each may have one.
With the exception of two, all are black. The first man to select a red
ball--his shall be the fortune to do the work; and to him goes an extra
gold piece.

"That there may be no treachery, the man who picks the second red ball
shall follow the first; and, in the event that he shows signs of a soft
heart, or manifests a desire to give a warning, the second man shall kill
him. Is that plain to you?"

Cries of "yes, yes" filled the room.

"All right, then," said Duval. "We shall now proceed with the drawing."

He opened one side of the box, and motioned for the first man to
approach. The latter did so, drew forth a ball and exposed it to view. It
was black, and the man passed on.

Man after man drew and each pulled forth a black ball. Now it came
Chester's turn, and so far neither red ball had been drawn.

Slowly the lad approached with his heart in his mouth. To himself
he muttered:

"I'll draw a red one just as sure as I stand here. I can feel it!"

For a moment he hesitated, and Duval's keen eyes caught the sign of
indecision. He half rose to his feet.

"We want no chicken-hearts," he said. "However, draw or not, as
you choose."

Chester caught the cold menace in the tone, and he realized that should
he fail to draw, knowing what he did of the plot, he would never leave
the room alive.

He thrust his hand into the box, clutched an elusive ball and drew it
forth. He looked at it quickly and held it aloft.

The ball was red!

Immediately the men crowded about him and slapped him on the back.

"You are a lucky dog," exclaimed Jean; "an extra gold piece you'll get."

Chester had been so sure that he would draw one of the red balls that
he felt no surprise. Hal, however, was greatly agitated, and he
concealed his anxiety with an effort, as, being next in line, he also
advanced to draw.

"If I can get the other red one," he said to himself, "it may work out
all right."

The same thought had struck Chester, and he leaned forward anxiously. Hal
thrust his hand into the box, then drew it forth again; and the ball that
he held up was black.

The lad heaved a sigh of disappointment as he returned to his place.

"Never mind," said Chester, "it will come out all right."

Next to the last man to draw was Jean Garnier. He thrust his hand
quickly into the box and pulled forth the second red ball. He was so
elated that he cried out with joy. Then he ran to Chester and slapped
him on the back.

"Perhaps," said he, "we can work this together and share equally in
the prize."

Before Chester could reply, Duval rose once more to his feet and ordered
that all leave the room except those who held the red balls. Slowly the
men filed out, Hal being among the last to go. Outside the lad walked
some distance from the house, then, when he felt certain that the others
had disappeared, returned, and concealed himself in a dark alleyway
across the street, where he waited patiently for Chester to emerge.

As soon as the others had left the room, Duval called Chester and Jean to
him, and spoke in a low voice.

"This work must not be bungled," he said sternly. Then, to Jean, "and you
are to see that it is not bungled. If this Victor makes one false move,
you know what to do?"

Jean nodded his head in the affirmative.

"But," he added, "Victor will make no false move."

"I feel sure of that," replied Duval, "or I should not allow him to leave
here alive."

Then he addressed Chester.

"The President," he said, "will make an address from the steps of the
Palace to-morrow at noon. I shall expect you to be in the crowd. When the
proper moment comes, you will know what to do. Jean will be there to see
you do it, and I myself shall be on hand to see that you both obey. Am I

"Yes," said Chester.

Jean likewise nodded affirmatively.

"All right, then. Are you armed?"

Jean shook his head negatively, and so did Chester, in spite of the fact
that he had two automatics concealed in his clothes, for he did not think
it wise to betray this to Duval.

From his pockets the Apache chief produced a pair of automatics, one
of which he handed to each. Then he dismissed them with a flourish
of his hand.

Jean led the way along the dark passageway and into the street. Hal, from
his place of concealment, saw them emerge and followed them. A short
distance from the den he came up with them. Jean, as well as Chester, was
delighted to see him.

"Why," said Jean, "can't we all work together and make sure that the plot
does not fail?"

"An excellent idea," said Chester.

He spoke to Hal in a whisper: "Watch the house and follow Duval when he
comes out."

Hal, accordingly, did not fall in with Jean's plan.

"I am glad to be out of it," he said. "It's too dangerous to suit me. No,
Victor, there, is different. He likes the spice of danger, and so may
you. But I prefer to get my gold easier, in the streets."

Jean shrugged his shoulders in contempt.

"I thought you were a brave man," he said. "Come on, Victor; we have no
time for cowards."

He took Chester by the arm and the two walked off down the street, while
Hal again concealed himself in the dark alley opposite the Apaches' den,
where he waited for Duval to emerge.

His patience was soon rewarded. A dim figure appeared in the doorway and
peered cautiously about. Then it slipped quietly to the street and strode
rapidly away in the darkness. Hal slipped from his concealment and,
keeping a respectable distance behind, set out in pursuit. For several
blocks Duval continued slowly; then stopped suddenly at a corner. Hal
immediately slunk from sight into the shelter of a doorway.

Duval raised a hand, and a moment later a taxi dashed up and stopped
before him. Duval climbed in and the taxi moved away.

Hal, however, was not to be shaken off thus easily. Running forward
quickly he succeeded in catching hold of the taxi and pulling himself up
behind. In this way he rode for perhaps half an hour.

Abruptly the machine came to a halt and Hal quickly jumped to the ground
and into a doorway, where he peered forth in time to see Duval alight.

The man was now without a mask, and Hal perceived the clear countenance
of a Frenchman of the upper class, whose age must have been somewhere in
the thirties. He strode rapidly down the street, and, turning a corner,
mounted the steps of a handsome residence just beyond. Hal came around
the corner just in time to see his quarry enter the door.

The lad took the number of the house and also the name of the street.
These he impressed firmly upon his memory by repeating them over and
over. Then he quietly ascended the steps of the house and tried the door.
It was locked.

The lad descended the steps again and walked round the house, seeking
some other means of entrance. In the narrow areaway he saw a small
window, apparently opening into the cellar. He tried it. It was unlocked
and gave easily before the pressure of his hand.

Hal lay flat upon the ground and pushed his feet through the opening.
Then, slowly, he let his body through until he hung by his hands. He did
not know how far his feet might be from the floor, but it was no time to
hesitate. He released his hold and dropped.

There came a crash so loud it might have raised the dead.



Chester was confident that Hal could take care of his end of the affair,
and he therefore allowed Jean to lead him along without protest. Jean
became talkative as they walked along the dark streets.

"It should be easy," he said with enthusiasm. "All we have to do is to
get close to the President in the crowd. Can you shoot?"

"A little," replied Chester briefly.

"I'm not a bad shot, either," said Jean. "So, if you should miss with
your first shot, I'll turn loose myself. That will insure success."

"I have been thinking," said Chester, "how it would feel to be shot,
and of what is likely to happen to us after we fire. What will the
crowd do to us?"

"Oh, we'll get away, all right," said Jean.

"We'll never get away," said Chester solemnly. "We shall be torn to
pieces before we can move a foot."

"I hadn't stopped to think of that," said Jean slowly.

"No, I suppose not," replied Chester. "Nevertheless, that is what is
bound to happen. And they won't kill us on the spot, either. They'll put
us to death slowly, by torture."

The lad looked sharply at his companion. Plainly this was an aspect of
the case which had not occurred to Jean. He shuddered.

"Do you realize what we are about to do?" Chester went on. "We are
going to shoot down, in cold blood, the President of France; the
President of our own country. The crowd will go wild. We shall be torn
limb from limb."

"Stop it! Stop it!" cried Jean. "Would you have me lose my nerve?"

"And besides," continued Chester, "what has the President done to us that
we should seek his life?"

"But," said Jean, "we shall have gold."

"And what good will gold do us after we are dead?"

"True," said Jean. "It won't do us much good, will it?"

"It won't do us any good," said Chester.

"But," said Jean, "Duval must have thought of all that. He--"

"Duval knows as well as you or I what will happen to us should we
assassinate the President," said Chester. "He will have that much more
gold for himself."

"Still, we may manage to escape," said Jean hopefully.

"And if we do," said Chester sternly, "what then? Do you suppose Duval
will keep faith with us? There will be such a hue and cry as Paris
never heard before. Duval will turn us over to the authorities to save
his own skin."

"If I thought that," said Jean, "I--"

"Besides," interrupted Chester, "we shall only be aiding the Germans, and
not ourselves, and how long do you suppose the Apaches will be allowed to
live should the Germans invade Paris?"

"Why--" began Jean, but Chester interrupted again.

"One of their first steps would be to annihilate us," said Chester. "They
would ravage the city, tear it into little pieces. Remember, it is our
own home, yours and mine. Would you like to see that?"

"No," replied Jean, "but--"

"No matter how you look at it," continued Chester, "you and I are sure to
get the worst of it. Now, I don't know about you; but I am going to have
nothing to do with the plot."

Jean did not reply for some moments, and they walked along in silence for
several blocks. Finally the little man replied:

"But I have been ordered to shoot you if you fail to carry out your end
of the work."

"In which event," replied Chester calmly, "you would also have to
assassinate the President, and would yourself be killed."

"Then what am I to do?" cried Jean, now greatly alarmed.

"Follow my example, and have no hand in the matter," said Chester.

"It might be done," said Jean slowly, "for Duval himself will be
present to-morrow, and, when he sees we have failed, he will do the
deed himself."

"Then we must prevent that also."

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