Part 2 out of 3
In the meantime Porky and Beany, having secured their
much-wished-for gum, a hard task on account of a penny jamming in
the slot, turned to join their friend.
"Where's old Asa? I bet he's having a fit," said Beany, chewing
"Look! Look!" said Beany suddenly, grasping his brother by the
arm. "There at the door!"
Porky looked. "That's Asa," he said. "Who's he going off with--
Beany, it's the Wolf!"
IN THE POWER OF THE WOLF
The Wolf, walking as though bent entirely on sightseeing, yet
covering ground rapidly, led the way through the busiest part of
the city, and into a quieter residential section, where he sat
down on a bench just within a walled park. The Wolf was not
conscious of his surroundings. He could only dwell on the fact
that the boy at his side had recognized him, was following him.
He did not doubt for an instant that the secret service had made
use of this seemingly innocent and simple tool.
Asa sat silent under the Wolf's hand. He thought of his home. Little
things occurred to him. Once be nearly giggled when he remembered how
the collie played with the cat; and the Wolf, feeling his shoulders
quiver, looked sharply at him. Asa thought of his father and the
little dragged-out mother. He thought of the three thin, silent
little sisters. They would miss him. He was so glad he had kissed
them all that last night at home. It only went to prove what Colonel
Bright had said. You were always glad afterwards. He was glad.
It was very dark as they walked slowly back to the entrance, the
boys still stalking them. Outside the gate, the Wolf hesitated.
As he looked, a small figure slipped from a shadow across the
light, whistled a peculiar bar of music, and sidled up.
"Didn't expect to meet you here, Excellency," said the Weasel.
"What are you doing here?"
"Been working at the ammunition plants," said the little spy.
"Wish you'd give me some money. I'm stone broke. Hello," as he
spied Asa. "Where did you pick this up?"
"I'm taking him to the house," said the Wolf.
"Better let me have him, Excellency. I'll drop him somewhere
where he will be out of the way.
"I'll take care of that," said the Wolf, snarling and sinking his
steel fingers in Asa's shoulder.
The Weasel looked at the man in disgust. "Well, let me have some
"What for?" demanded his master.
"I have worked hard all day. I want to have a little fun with
it. I have earned it.
"Not a cent!" rasped the Wolf. "I know you, drinking and
gaming--not a cent! For asking you shall go out and earn your
The Weasel whirled round at him. "You give me some money!" he
whispered. In the excitement of the moment he seemed to lose his
He seized the Wolf's arm. With an oath the Wolf flung him away.
He staggered and went headlong. The shock seemed to infuriate
him. He leaped silently at the Wolf. There was a sudden flash
of steel, and the Weasel turned with a spring, whirled, and went
down in a heap. The Wolf, almost before he touched the ground,
tightened his grasp on Asa, and dodged back into the park.
Rapidly, through paths that seemed familiar, he gained another
entrance, and emerged on a quiet street. Down this street he
hurried the exhausted boy, turned suddenly into a basement where
it was pitch dark, and rapped on the door. It was a peculiar
rap, and reminded Asa of telegraphy. In a moment the door swung
open, they entered, the Wolf fastened the door behind him, and
for the first time since he caught Asa, he let go of his
shoulder. He struck a match and let the blaze shine in his face.
There was a queer grunt in the darkness. Without speaking, the
Wolf clutched the boy once more, and led him up three flights of
carpeted stairs, and into a huge room lighted by a couple of
candles. It was the Wolf's den.
He flung Asa into a big, ragged chair, and, throwing his goggles
and hat on the table, sat down opposite Asa, and lighted a
cigarette. Then, reaching under the table, be pulled out a big
square box on rollers, and unlocked it with a key which he wore
on his watch chain. He took out a bottle and glass. Pouring a
full portion, he drained it at a gulp. Another and another glass
he emptied. The fiery liquid went to his head. A new look came
over his face.
"I've got you, haven't I," he demanded of the boy. "I've got
you, and this time I'm going to keep you!" He took another
"How did you come to suspect who I was, you, little fool?" he
demanded. "The day you came to see me in the Hospital and stood
there saying, 'Oh, yes,' to everything I said--who put you on my
track, eh? Somebody was smart--thought I would never notice a
small boy, eh? ho did it?"
"Nobuddy put me on anybuddy's track," said Asa. "I just happened
around every time."
"Of course!" said the Wolf. "Of course! You just happened a
round. Funny, as you Americans say. And the letter in your
pocket--it happens that I lost that letter through the idiocy of
one of my servants. You happened to find that also, of course.
Where did you find it?"
Asa was silent. He determined not to tell.
"Now I want you to tell me the whole thing. If you tell me
everything, I shall give you a great sum of money and let you go.
Won't that be fine?"
He paused again, looking keenly at Asa.
"Come, come!" said the Wolf. "I do not like to be kept waiting.
You saw what I did to the little man down the street. I stabbed
him. I am not afraid to tell you. I shall not stab you. Oh,
no! You are a nice boy; you are going to tell me all about
everything. That little man is dead now, quite dead. You would
not like to be like that, would you? Well, you are going to get
a lot of money, and go free, so you can have a nice time spending
it. Come," he said in a level, patient tone. "Speak!"
Asa's pale, terrified eyes were fixed on his tormentor, but still
he was silent. The Wolf took a twenty-dollar gold piece from his
pocket and laid it on the table before the boy.
"Twenty dollars in gold," he said. He took other pieces like it
from his pocket and piled them up. "Wealth!"' he almost
whispered. "Did you ever have as much money as that?"
Asa shook his head.
The Wolf leaned confidentially forward.
"Now tell me all about everything," he said coaxingly. He
Asa studied him in return. Like a fascinated bird staring at a
snake, he looked at the cold, glittering eyes, the browned face,
the sear on the cheek. As he looked, the sear slowly turned
white. It gave the effect of its springing out into plain sight.
He looked carefully all over the Wolf. It was as though he
wanted to remember every little detail. The Wolf smiled.
"Curious about me, are you?" he said with a snarl, his smile
fading away. "Well, if you won't speak, then I will have to
talk. Now I want to know just who is tracking me, and just how
much they think they know about me. And you are going to tell me
Asa woke up. It felt to the tortured boy as though some cord in
his heart or soul suddenly snapped and left him free. Asa, who
had been always afraid to speak, was afraid no longer. Asa, who
found speech difficult, spoke rapidly and violently.
"No, I ain't," he shrilled. "I ain't goin' to tell a word about
nuthin'. And when I get out of here, I'm goin' to tell the first
policeman I see about that little thin man you stuck the knife
into. And I ain't afraid of you. Not a mite! I don't care what
you do to me, I ain't goin' to tell!"
The scar stood out white as chalk.
"No?" said the Wolf. He took another drink, then with a sudden
motion hurled Asa back in his chair and tied him there. Round
and round the thin figure he twisted the rope, until Asa could
not move a muscle. The Wolf propped the boy's feet up on a box,
and took off his shoes. Asa watched him curiously. He
remembered the wild Indian stories he had read. Was this going
to be a trial by fire, he wondered. The Wolf lighted a huge
cigar and smoked it until the end glowed red. Then he drew his
chair close to Asa's feet. He showed him the cigar.
"That would hurt on your bare feet, wouldn't?" he asked silkily.
"So much pain--and all because you want to be stubborn! Well, I
have taught stubborn boys--and men--many times many times! So
you had better tell me who suspects the Wolf."
A sound at the door caused him to turn. Ledermann entered.
"What's this, Excellency?" asked Ledermann. "Whom have we here?"
"A stubborn little boy," said the Wolf. "A stubborn little boy,
who is going to think better of his course of action in just a
few minutes, and who is then going to tell me ever so many things
that I want to know."
Asa stared at the Wolf's wicked eyes and shivered. The Wolf
"What news to-night, Ledermann?" he asked.
"Adolph is dead for one thing," said Ledermann coolly. "He had
one of his convulsions on the street, and it finished him."
"We were about through with him," said the Wolf heartlessly. He
dismissed the subject. "What else?" he demanded.
"I have all the papers," answered Ledermann. "And as I could not
get here until dark, I took a room in a safe little hotel where I
would be undisturbed, and I made the copy for you." He handed
over a tiny square of paper.
The Wolf carefully unfolded it. Then he laughed gleefully.
"Fine; fine, Ledermann! This finishes our work."
He crossed his leg over his knee, took a peculiar looking wrench
from his pocket, fitted it round the heel of his shoe, and turned
it. The other man caught his arm, and spoke rapidly in German.
"What possesses you, Excellency; are you mad? This boy--"
"Bah! What does it matter whether I finish him now or an hour
later?" he asked. "We can't let him go. I was obliged to punish
the Weasel to-night and he saw it. It seemed to affect him
unpleasantly. These American children know nothing of the value
of discipline. He is going to tell me all he knows before I
finish. The little rat--think of him defying me!"
The heel came off. Asa looked curiously. It was hollow and was
neatly packed with papers like the one in the Wolf's hand. The
Wolf turned out the precious packets, and looked them over
carefully. Ledermann looked from the Wolf intent on his papers,
to Asa, bound in the chair. He looked at the Wolf again. He
swayed a little; the drinks had gone to his head just enough to
make him unsteady and reckless. He had not intended to take so
much; the Wolf was always careful; but to-night--well, the day
had been a hard one, and the end was so near. For months he had
been under a terrific strain--Ledermann shook his head.
"See how I trust you," said the Wolf in English, looking up from
his papers, "I know you will never, never tell. Oh no, that
would be impossible! Isn't that a fine little place to hide
things?" he chuckled, and replaced the packets, screwed the heel
in place, and stamped his foot on the floor. Then he turned to
Ledermann had placed it beyond his reach.
"Give me that!" he demanded violently.
The Wolf turned to him.
"Now, Ledermann, no fooling here; turn in all your accounts.
Destroy everything that could give a clew to us. Pack the bombs
in the vault under the cellar floor. We may come back some day,
when we land with our men on the shores of Long Island." He
turned away. "Go and pack. We must be away from here before
Ledermann shrugged his shoulders, looked curiously at Asa, then
turned and left the room.
The Wolf got up, threw a few things in a small suit-case,
arranged some papers, took off his coat, and stood looking at
Asa. Directly behind him, against the wall, was a large,
old-fashioned wardrobe. Its dark, heavy, walnut doors threw the
lean, muscular figure of the Wolf out as though carved in
granite. He took a step toward the boy, and rolled up his
"Now, young man, I'll attend to you," he said.
Hope died in Asa's heart.
When the Wolf, holding fast to Asa's shoulder, slipped into the
shadows of the Park, Beany raced across the asphalt drive and
knelt beside the little Weasel. He lay a crumpled, limp heap,
and at first Beany thought him dead. There was a faint flutter,
however, as Beany felt his heart, and, turning him gently over,
Beany opened his shirt and uncovered the vicious looking wound
where the Wolf's dagger point had entered.
Across the square, an auto stopped, and a familiar figure jumped
out and looked around. Beany joyfully recognized his friend the
Sergeant. He knew that they were hidden by the gateway post so
he whistled. Hen came running toward him.
"Who's this?" he demanded.
"One of them," said Beany. He looked anxiously at the Weasel's
ashen face. "The Wolf stabbed him. We have got to get him to a
"I'll get the car," said Hen, and was off like a flash.
They lifted the Weasel into the car and laid him back on the
cushions; the boys rolled up the rugs, and their coats to prop
him up. Again he opened his eyes.
"Don't start," he said feebly. "I must tell you something."
He turned his head toward Beany. "I know you," he said. "What
made you leave the Wolf and the little chap? I saw you tracking
them. You ought to have kept right after them."
"That was my brother," explained Beany. "We look just alike."
He kept a careful hand on the wound.
"Let's get to a hospital," said Hen.
"Don't you move!" commanded the Weasel. "If you want to save
that kid, the one with the Wolf, you have about half an hour to
do it in. Don't mind me. He has done for me. I knew he'd get
me, but I will bite yet. Tell him that, will you? Tell him the
Weasel has bitten; bitten to the bone. Lift me a little," he
asked, then continued brokenly:
"The Wolf is head of a system of spies in America. They have
headquarters in Mexico, St. Louis and 'Frisco, as well as here.
The Wolf is the head; he is master of them all. I don't know who
he is. Nobody knows. They all call him Excellency or the Wolf.
He has a submarine-base laid out on the coast of Long Island.
There is a powerful wireless station in the attic of the house
where we meet. That's where he has gone with that kid. He'll
kill that kid. I know him! He is all ready to leave the
country. That's why he did for me. He wants to shut us all up
before he leaves--I'll fix him--I told him I'd bite."
He stopped, and breathed heavily.
"I'm going to drive lickity-split for the hospital," said Hen in
a low tone to Beany.
"Don't you stir!" commanded the weak voice. "When you get to the
house, go around back, and through the yard to the next house.
There is an outside iron fire-escape on it. Go up that to the
level of the roof of the corner house. It is a story lower than
the house that has the fire-escape. There is a trap door in the
middle of the roof. Lift that, and climb down the ladder into the
attic. The wireless is there. If there is a man there working
the wireless, shoot him. He will shoot you if he can. Got a
"No," said Beany.
"Yes," said Hen at the same time.
"There are some stairs going down from the attic," continued the
Weasel, his voice very weak. "Don't go down that way. Look in
the end of the attic close to the big chimney. There is a pile
of doors and lumber there, and behind it is a narrow stair. Go
down that. It opens into a wardrobe in the Wolf's own den. You
will find him there with the kid, if he is still alive. Take the
Wolf anyhow. Don't kill him. I want him to know that I bit--"
his voice trailed off.
"Would hot coffee help any?" asked Hen. "I have a thermos bottle
full; but it's under that seat he's on."
Together they gently lifted the body of the Weasel, and succeeded
in getting hold of the bottle of hot coffee. Hen poured a
steaming portion into the cup, and with difficulty they forced it
between the Weasel's lips. He swallowed a little, and presently
opened his eyes.
"Close call," he said with a faint smile. He hurried on:
"The Wolf has enough information written down, up there
somewhere, to defeat America," he said. "I don't know where it
is, but it must he somewhere, where he can put his hand right on
it. Search everything! Try every piece of blank paper for
sympathetic ink. There is a secret room in the cellar full of
bombs. They are to be left there, stored, until America is
invaded. If you could only work that wireless--messages are
coming in all the time the last three days--"'
"I can," said Beany.
"Then you will get some news sure. Do you speak German?"
"No," said Beany hopelessly.
"I do," said Hen.
"All right," said the Weasel feebly. "Remember, if he man is
there, shoot to kill--shoot to kill!"
"I'd like to get the police," said Beany.
"They are sort of used to this."
"You will not save the kid," said the Weasel. "The Wolf will
kill him at the first alarm. You can't make a sound. When you
get down in the wardrobe, you will find a nail hole in the upper
corner of the right hand door. I put that there, so I could
watch the Wolf. I have meant to bite for a long while--" He
trailed off, and nearly became unconscious. Then he gathered
himself together. "Tell him I bit."
"Say!" said Hen suddenly. He put his face close to the drooping
face of the Weasel. "Say, where's the house? You haven't told
us where to go. We got to get a move on, I should say!"
"The house--the house," he said. "It's number,--it's corner of--
it's number three hundred and one--"
"Gosh, this is awful!" said Hen. "Come, try to tell us! Three
hundred and one--what?"
The Weasel made a mighty effort.
"Number three hundred and one--" His voice trailed off into
"He's dead," said Beany.
"What shall we do?" said Hen. "He's not dead, but pretty close
to it. We will have to get him to a hospital, and wait for him
to give the street that house is on. That means the kid will be
murdered before that time, I suppose. Gee, it's awful."
A taxi rounded the square, and stopped close to them. The driver
"It's him!" said Hen. "I know that fellow." As the driver
walked toward them, he recognized Hen.
"Hullo!" he said. "What's new?"
"Look here," said Hen. "We got to get this man to the hospital.
A fellow came along and did for him."
"Great Scott!" said the driver, peering into the taxi, where the
electric light shone on the huddled figure in Beany's arms.
A slight, boyish figure came running along the walk. It was
Porky, out of breath, and excited.
"I thought you would have him safe in a hospital," he complained.
"He wouldn't let us," said Hen. "Say, I guess there's, no hope
of saving that kid! This feller here told us all about
everything, and how to got into the place and all, and then he
fainted before he could tell where the house is."
"I know," said Porky. "I trailed them there. We will get this
chap to a hospital, and get the police, and get the Wolf."
"Get nothing!" said Hen. He turned to the other driver. "Hop in
here, and take this man to the nearest hospital. Say you picked
him up in the park. They will arrest you probably, but we got
something to do and it won't wait. That on! If they jug you,
get word to Mr. Leffingwell."
Porky gave the address. Hen reached under the seat and from a
hidden pocket brought out a small, wicked-looking revolver. "I
will take your car," he said. He raced over, and started the
engine. The boys followed, and tumbled in.
"Hi! Hi!" yelled Jim Morris, the taxicab driver. "What you
doin'? You crazy! What do you want me to do?"
"Get that fellow into a doctor's hands quick as you can," said
"Then what?" demanded Jim. "You say tell Mr. Leffingwell. What
am I to tell him? Of all the boneheads! What steer do I give
"Bully for you!" said Porky, swinging out the door. "Tell Mr.
Leffingwell we are on track of the Wolf. Remember the name. The
Wolf. Don't say it to any one before you tell Mr. Leffingwell or
you will be sorry for yourself. Ask him to get the secret
service men, and call the police force and come to this address."
He scribbled a street and number on a piece of paper.
"Say, why don't one of youse boys come and tell this yarn? I can
see where I'm the goat!"
"Never mind!" cried Porky. "We'll be along some time or other,
and bail you out."
Hen's mouth thinned down to a straight line as he started the
"Not too fast!" said Porky. "It is not far." He repeated the
street and number. Hen made a quick turn and glided smoothly
across a side street. Beany, looking behind, saw Jim Morris
give a look after them, then start his car and dash off, the
insensible figure of the Weasel swaying on the back seat.
He drove to the nearest hospital without the loss of a single
moment's time. Round the monstrous building, with it's spreading
maze of pavilions, he went through a court, and stopped at a
doorway which opened directly on a large elevator.
He pressed a button, and a white-clad attendant appeared.
"Drunk?" he asked.
"Stuck!" said Jim briefly.
"Stabbed?" asked the attendant.
"'S what I said," retorted Jim, and almost before he could
realize it, the unconscious Weasel, the attendant and himself
were being smoothly carried to the emergency ward, far above.
The attendant motioned to Jim, and they went silently into an
office where another man, also in while, sat at a desk, and took
down in a big book the circumstances of the Weasel's arrival. He
finished, then Jim saw him reach under the desk and press a
button. Immediately the door opened, and a couple of heavily
built men in plain blue uniforms entered. They read the entry in
the big book, then looked searchingly at Jim.
"You are detained, Morris," said the taller of the two, "pending
an examination into this affair." He took up the house telephone.
Presently he turned. "The man is very badly hurt; perhaps dying.
He is unconscious."
He nodded to Jim. "Come along," he said. "I'll have to keep you
"That's all right," Jim said airily. "I wish I could send a
telephone message. Don't see what harm there is in that."
"No, there's no harm in that," said the detective, "providing the
person you wish to talk to is a decent sort."
"It's Leffingwell--Leffingwell who is Chairman of all the city
committees," said Jim proudly. "Look up his number yourself."
The detective did so. Jim called and began speaking.
"Say, is this Mr. Leffingwell?" he asked. "No, I don't want no
Timmons. I want Mr. Leffingwell."
Jim smiled wickedly into the receiver. "Well, say, young feller,
I'm surprised you don't know me. This is J. P. Morgan speaking'.
I want sell--Huh? Oh, y-y-yes, Sir. Why, yes, sir, Mr. Leffingwell.
I thought I was talking to some fresh guy on the phone. Excuse
me, Sir! Yes, sir! I have news for you. I'm here at the Park
Hospital with a fare what got stabbed. No, sir, it's not a boy.
He's a little thin man. I know where the boys is, and they want
help. Yes, Sir! My car is right here, but I'm been' detained.
Yes, sir, they won't let me go 'til the young feller gets better
The detective cut in. "Does he want you to come there?"
"He sure does that!" said Jim.
The detective took the receiver. He told Mr. Leffingwell the
He listened attentively. Then "Yes, sir," he said. "I will come
right over with him."
BY WAY OF THE HOUSE NEXT DOOR
The boys will never know how long it took to drive to the street
and number given them by the poor Weasel. Arriving at the corner
where the old brown stone house stood looking the picture of
desolation, with its closely boarded-up windows, its dusty steps
and seedy doors, the boys passed down the side street and left
the car in the shadow of the buildings there. They separated and
hurried back to the house, one at a time. Slipping through the
dense shadows in the weedy, cluttered-up back yard, a yard that
had once been a trim garden with smooth paths and neat little
hedges, as back yards were once in the olden days, they met under
the iron fire-escape attached to the house next door. This
building, much higher than the corner house, was used as a
private sanitarium or hospital by one of the highest-priced
specialists in the city. The fire-escape, therefore, was in
perfect condition, and safe as such a spidery stairway could be
made, with strong rails and good treads.
Porky whispered a word of command, and noiselessly the boys
ascended. The night was pitch dark, but their eyes growing
accustomed to the gloom, they made their way without a stumble.
Reaching the place where the lower building met the taller one,
they found they could not get from the stairway to the other
roof. There was nothing for it but to go on up the remaining
story, cross the roof of the building and drop down to the lower
level. They tiptoed over the flat, pebbled roof, clung to the
eaves, and one by one made the long drop in safety, the only
damage being scratched and bruised palms as they sprawled on
the rough roofing.
A glass skylight was set in the middle of the roof. They hurried
to it and Hen, with a quick twist, worked it loose, and tipped it
noiselessly back on the roof.
"Take off your shoes!" he whispered.
They felt their way down the rough ladder that led from the
skylight to the attic, and stood motionless, scarcely breathing
in the dense darkness.
Hen, who had the flashlight, feared to press the button. There
was not a sound, save a little sputter which they rightly laid to
the wireless machine which the Weasel had told them about. In a
moment, (it seemed years) Hen decided that they must have light,
even at the risk of discovery, and his flashlight illumined the
room in which they stood. Immediately Porky pointed to the big
chimney, and the pile of lumber stacked beside it. He touched
the others, and led the way. They went noiselessly across the
uneven floor, and reaching the boards, found, as the Weasel had
said, a narrow opening in the floor.
As the three neared the bottom of the ladder, a scream, muffled
and choked but full of agony, sounded close to them. The boys
recognized that thin, boyish tone, even in its torture. They
felt their hair rise on their scalps as they listened.
Quickly turning in the narrow, breathless space in which they
found themselves, they saw a little star of light pierce the
pitch blackness. It was the little peek hole made in the panel
by the Weasel. Porky put his eye to the place. One instant he
looked, and drew back as Hen pressed close. In turn they peered
through the tiny hole. They shuddered as they did so. Then Hen,
with all the caution he could summon, pushed open the door, and
stepped out, covering the Wolf with a wicked-looking muzzle. The
bound and gagged boy in the chair saw the strange group which had
so suddenly and so mysteriously appeared, but for a moment the
Wolf, who was standing with his back toward the wardrobe, was
unaware of their presence. He was laughing--a cold-blooded,
curdling, low laugh as he stooped toward the boy's bare feet, his
lighted cigar in his hand. Already those feet were marred by
cruel burns along the tender soles.
As he stopped, he watched his victim's eyes for a sign of
"Give me the names!" he demanded in his low snarling, smooth
voice. He watched his victim's eyes and in them, suddenly, he
saw a strange flash of hope, of amazement. Asa was looking over
the Wolf's shoulder.
Without the least suspicion of the truth, the Wolf straightened
up, and lazily turned. What lie saw wiped the sneering,
malicious smile from his face.
Hen, his bulldog jaw set, held the revolver pointed straight at
the traitorous heart.
"Hands up," barked Porky in a voice which seemed to come from
some one else. He was not himself. The sight that had met his
eyes, the bound figure, the blistered feet, the crouching Wolf
with his low, fiendish laugh--it was all like a frightful
electric shock to Porky, and in that horrible instant he came
into his manhood. Behind him, at his shoulder, his twin brother
went through the same agony of soul and he, too, felt a strange
new thrill, an addition of courage and strength.
"Hands up!" said Porky again.
For a, moment the sly eyes of the Wolf swept the room, then his
hands were raised. He backed toward the table but a curt order
from Hen, and he stood still.
"There's rope on that table," said Hen. "Get it and bind him."
Beany grabbed the rope, and bent to tie the ankles of the Wolf.
Like a flash his hands came down, he seized the boy and clutching
him in a vise-like grip, held him before him as a shield.
"Shoot if you like," he sneered, and backed rapidly toward the
door. Hen followed, the useless pistol still pointed, but
Beany's body covered the Wolf who, with the strength of ten, held
Beany before him as he neared the door that would mean escape,
and safety. He had almost reached it when a deafening noise
sounded from below. There was the sound of a door being battered
in, shots were fired, and shouts heard. For a second the Wolf
faltered. For a second he was off his guard. In that second,
Beany made a light, steel-muscled bound, swung his legs up and
out, using the spy's breast as a brace, turned a somersault over
his head, dropping to the floor behind him. It was so quick, so
unexpected, that the Wolf could not keep his hold, and Beany
dropped to the floor, crying, "Shoot!"
A revolver cracked, but it was in the Wolf's hand. Porky felt a
sting as the bullet grazed his shoulder. Then Hen's weapon
barked just once!
The revolver dropped from the Wolf's hand, a strange, blank look
spread over his face, and he sank to his knees. Beany, flat on
the floor behind him, jumped to his feet.
The door, which had been unlatched, swung violently open and for
a second the face of Ledermann appeared, then flashed by as he
saw the tableau, and dashed for the stairway to the attic and the
roof. A dozen policemen ran in, three of them following
Ledermann, at Porky's direction, while the others snapped the
cuffs on the two men at the table, and tenderly took the cruel
gag from Asa's parched and bleeding mouth, and untied him. Beany
rushed up into the attic after the men who were pursuing
Ledermann and as he reached the place, the call of the wireless
caught his attention. He answered the call, and commenced to
take down a long message.
Below, Porky and Hen knelt by the Wolf and turned him over. He
still breathed, and Hen fumbled through his pockets for another
revolver. He found instead a long, keen knife which he threw
aside. Then, with Porky, he fell to watching the closed eyes of
the spy. They opened, and the Wolf looked from one to the other
with cold, unrelenting hatred. He did not speak.
"Buck up!" said Hen suddenly. His voice shook with excitement.
"Say, you don't want to croak yet. I got to tell you: the Weasel
said to tell you that he had bit. Understand? He has bit.
See?" Hen paused with a look of satisfaction.
The Wolf, who was bleeding fearfully, slowly closed his eyes.
"That ends him," said Hen solemnly. "Gosh!"
A detective felt the heart of the wounded man.
"He's alive," he said. "Send an ambulance call, somebody."
Another detective raced down the stairs, while those who remained
commenced to search the room for hiding places.
"I know where he's got some stuff hidden," Asa said thickly.
"Take off his shoe; the other one," and someone did so. "Get
that iron thing on the table," Asa continued, "and get the heel
The Chief had it done in a moment and the tiny squares of paper
fluttered to the floor. The Chief picked them carefully up, and
put them in his pocketbook as a wild clanging down below
announced the coming of the ambulance. A couple of doctors came
up, three steps at a time, and examined the Wolf. A bandage soon
stopped the flow of blood, and, still unconscious, he was carried
down the stairs. A detective picked Asa up and prepared to
follow, but that young man stiffened, the way a spunky boy
sometimes does, and slid through the man's arms. As he came to
his feet, he let out a howl of pain, and went to his knees. But
he was speaking.
"Not with him!" he cried hoarsely. "Not with him! I won't go in
the ambulance with the Wolf! He'll come to yet and kill somebody,
and he'll blame me for the whole thing. I'd rather stay here."
"All right," said the Chief. "You need not go in the ambulance.
I will carry you down to the police car, and we will take you
right over to Mr. Leffingwell's."
He picked Asa up in his arms and carried him downstairs and into
the first car. There was quite a procession of them when they
finally started, after leaving a heavy guard in the house, and
very soon they pressed the button at Mr. Leffingwell's door,
which was opened by Barton, the butler.
"'Ow! Bless my 'art!" said Barton, quite like a human being, and
stepped back. It was Timmins who stepped forward; Timmins who
took Asa and bore him into the living room where Colonel Bright,
Mr. Leffingwell, John, his son, and Mr. and Mrs. Potter all rose
to their feet, when Timmins walked in. Mr. Leffingwell would
have another doctor; and while they waited five minutes for him
(he was right in the building) Asa, suffering pretty badly, but
not giving a sign of it, except for his twitching face, lay on
the settee, with Timmins fixing his pillows some other way every
second, and Barton off ordering a hot drink from the cook, who
had taken a peek, and was crying out in the kitchen.
Nobody knew anything about what the boys had been through, but
nobody asked a word; only Porky and Beany kissed their mother
hard, and hugged their dad, and were pounded on the back by Mr.
Leffingwell, who seemed to have a had cold. When the doctor
came, he ordered Asa straight to bed, and Timmins carried him off
with the haughty Barton stalking in the rear, a glass of egg and
milk in one hand and hot chocolate in the other.
ORDERED OVER THERE
The Leffingwell cook had prepared a regular crackerjack--no, a
Leffingwell dinner; and Mr. Leffingwell begged the boys to say
little about their adventures until they had had something to
eat. As they all sat down at the table, Porky and Beany looked
back over the couple of centuries or so that had passed since
breakfast, and decided that since they had not had time for
anything at all since that remote period, it would be a good
thing to sample a few of the good things urged upon them by
Barton, the butler.
Presently, that is along about the third helping of everything
there was, the boys commented to tell about their day's
adventures. They had an attentive audience; an audience that
forgot to eat or say "Dear me suz!" or smoke. And it seemed as
though they wanted to hear everything over at least three times.
And the boys were willing to tell.
Before the meal was finished, the doctor came quietly in. He had
been to look at Asa and, finding him asleep under the effects of
the quieting tablet he had given him, he came to report to Mr.
Leffingwell that his young guest was doing well.
"It won't lame him permanently, will it?" asked Colonel Bright.
"No, no danger of that unless there should be some infection, and
I am sure there will be nothing of the sort. I wonder, Mr.
Leffingwell, if it is possible to keep the boy here for a few
days or a week? I hate to have him moved. Your man Timmins says
he was talking about going to his home to-morrow.
"Well, I should say not!" exploded Mr. Leffingwell. "Where is
"Sitting beside Asa," said the doctor. "Shall I call him?"
He tiptoed back to the boy's room, and in a moment returned,
followed by Timmins, who stood just inside the doorway and looked
inquiringly at Mr. Leffingwell.
"What's this, Timmins, about Asa's going home to-morrow? You get
those fool notions out of Asa's head, and, Timmins, we will
appoint you head nurse for a while. The lad seems to like you."
Timmins smiled and bowed. "Yes, sir! Thank you, sir!" he said.
And at that moment the ice-cream came in. That Leffingwell cook!
The ice-cream was in the shape of little tents, with a silk flag
sticking gayly out of the ridge pole of each.
The boys noted with satisfaction that the tents were good-sized.
They gave their whole attention to the work in hand, and the
others seemed secretly to agree to put aside the day's
excitements for a space.
After dinner they followed Mr. Leffingwell to his den, where Mrs.
Potter took out her knitting. She had a very large knitting bag,
and it seemed full of balls of wool.
Colonel Bright noticed it. "Looks as though you were going into
the knitting game wholesale."
Mrs. Potter smiled. "Not quite," she said. "I am making two
complete sets for a couple of young men who are going into the
Porky felt of the soft, light yarn. "I say--that's pretty good of
you, mom. Who are your lucky friends?"
"That reminds me of something," said the Colonel. "I know a
couple of lads, about like Porky and Beany here, who have been
crazy to go across. I have been watching them for some time, and
have about made up my mind that they would be a real help to me
over there, and not a hindrance. So I have been pulling wires,
and making plans, and I think it looks as though I can take them
with me. It's just about the job you boys were joking about
"No joke at all!" said Porky bitterly. "Oh, gee; now some one
else has it!"
"Why, you don't mean that you really meant it?" said the Colonel.
"I wish you had made it clear!"
"We couldn't have tried harder to make it clear unless we had hit
you, Colonel," said Beany sadly.
"Well, that's too bad," said the Colonel. "These fellows are
just about your age. Perhaps they seem older to me because they
have had a lot of responsibility that has made them older. It's
"Never mind, Colonel," said Porky. "If the other fellows have
fallen in luck, why, it's great for them. What, are you planning
"It's like this," said Colonel Bright, squinting up his eye as he
puffed busily on his cigar.
"There's a lot of most important running around to do behind the
lines in what is really a zone of safety: messages, and plans,
and all that sort of thing, you understand, that have to be taken
from one officer to another, and it seemed to me that it was
better to have some one who knew that that was his whole job, and
could give every minute to it, rather than depend on petty
officers who were continually being ordered away. I thought it
would save a lot of time and anxiety if I could have aides that
were trained to just the service I required. So I reported the
case to some of the big fellows in Washington, and they told me
to go ahead. You see I've been in this army of ours so long that
I suppose I have a sort of pull. Well, at any rate, that's how
"And the fellows are going over with you?" asked Porky.
"It has the sort of look as though I was going with them, as it
stands now. Of course orders are secret; but I would not be
surprised if my men packed off in about a week. I have work in
Washington, however, that may keep me there for another week at
least, so I am to go over on a regular passenger boat, and the
chaps I have spoken of will go with me."
"Gosh! What luck!" said Beany, looking at his brother. "Are
"They are related some way," said the Colonel, smoking at his
"Gosh! what luck!" said Porky, looking at Beany. "Always
something to take the joy out of life!"
"You ought to be glad for 'em," said Mrs. Potter. "I declare,
boys, I didn't know as there was a jealous hair in both your
heads! How you do talk!"
"That's all right, mom," said Porky. "We are not jealous; only
it was just exactly what we wanted to do, and it's a sort of
jolt. Is that who the sweaters are for, mom?"
"Yes, I thought I might as well," said Mrs. Potter. She glanced
at the Colonel. He was looking at his cigar. Mr. Leffingwell
was staring at the ceiling. She glanced at Mr. Potter. His
right eyelid quivered. "Yes," said Mrs. Potter, "Colonel Bright
thought they might like to have them." She smiled at Porky and
Beany--strange, soft, tender, sad, wonderful smile.
"Come, see if they are going to fit," she said.
Mr. Leffingwell blew his nose.
All the while that the preparations for the boys' journey went
swiftly on, time, pain-filled and gloomy, dragged itself away in
the two hospital rooms where the Wolf and the Weasel lay wounded.
By carefully questioning his nurse, the Wolf, who was not so
badly hurt as it was at first thought, found out that the Weasel
was his next door neighbor. That question settled, the Wolf
settled himself to the task of getting well. In a few days to
the amazement of those attending him, he was able to sit up.
They commenced leaving him alone for an hour or so at a time.
Two days more, wrapped in a heavy bathrobe, he was lifted into a
reclining chair, and allowed to look out of the window. How
could the nurse guess that the moment she left, her helpless
patient rose to his feet and falteringly at first, moved here and
there about the room, stopping every moment or two to rest? When
she returned she found him quietly seated, resting, as she had
left him. He did indeed look tired and pale, so she hurried him
back to bed. The next day and the next this was repeated. Then
came his chance. His nurse was going to a lecture in the
assembly room on the first floor. She would be gone a couple of
She placed the Wolf in his chair by the window, looked at his
bandages, set a bell beside him, and left a pile of magazines on
the wide window sill at his elbow. Then, with repeated warnings
to rest and not overdo, she left him.
As soon as he heard the last light pad-pad of the girl's
rubber-heeled shoes, the Wolf stood up. He stood firmly. He
tied the bathrobe about him and went to the door. There he
waited, listening. All was quiet. He opened the door a little.
As he did so, a nurse and a doctor came out of the Weasel's room,
went slowly down the ball, and turned into a room at the corner.
The Wolf listened more intently still, and went out into the
hall. Between the room occupied by the Wolf and the one where
the Weasel lay, there was a space. A table and a chair stood
there. It was where the night nurse sat. On it was a writing
tablet, pens, ink, and a couple of little bottles. One of them
caught the eye of the Wolf. The blue color of the glass told him
that it was a deadly poison even before lie read the label. He
put it in his pocket.
Then he gently turned the handle of the door, and went in. For a
moment he thought the room was empty. The shade at the window
was drawn closed. The Wolf swept the room with a swift glance
then his eyes rested on the bed.
Ah! Did you start then, ever so slightly, you cruel killer, you
merciless destroyer? What good now is the blue vial in your
pocket? Of what use the clenched fist, and writhing, clutching
fingers? You have come too late, Wolf; you have lost your poor
too! Look and look and look again at that peaceful bed. See how
straight the sheet is and how decently it is drawn up. Go over,
Wolf, and draw it down and see what it covers! Hurry, Wolf,
because you have but little time to remain undisturbed! Already
the nurse and doctor have finished making their report; already a
narrow, white stretcher is being prepared.
For the last time in all your wicked life, black murder filled
your heart, Wolf, but the Weasel has escaped you. The Wolf put
the sheet back over the dead face of the Weasel and grating his
teeth, stepped softly to the door. He slipped into the hall, but
as he did so, he heard low voices, and instead of turning toward
his own room, he went in the opposite direction where he saw a
stairway. Unfortunately for him, the stairs led up instead of
down. Slowly, silently, he climbed them; but not before he
thought he heard a low exclamation from below. For some
unforeseen reason the nurse and doctor had looked in the Wolf's
room to see how he was getting on. The room of course was empty,
and the Wolf knew a search would begin at once. How he cursed
his fate that he was dressed only in his underwear and bathrobe!
It would take a clever man indeed to escape in such garments.
And escape he must. The Weasel was dead. He had killed him, and
no one knew better than the Wolf that he would be made to pay the
whole penalty. Adolph was dead, the Weasel was dead, Ledermann
had jumped into the river to escape his pursuers and had drowned.
And here was he, the Wolf, trapped-at bay. He slipped into the
first door at hand. It was a large hall used for a gymnasium for
the nurses. There were steps at the door. He looked about.
There was not a place to hide. Hurrying to the window as fast as
his feeble strength would permit, he raised the sash and looked
out. There, outside the window, was a fire-escape. Without an
instant's hesitation, he stepped out and placed his slippered
foot on the narrow tread of the iron ladder. His head was
swimming from weakness. He heard an exclamation from above and
For an instant he made out the faces of the nurse and doctor
against the sky above him. Then the nurse disappeared, and the
doctor stepped out on the sill. He was going to follow; the nurse
had gone for help. There was one thing to do: hurry--hurry!
Once more the Wolf looked up at his pursuer. He laughed his own
sneering, cruel laugh. The ladder seemed to swing and sway
dizzily. It was like being at the top of a tall mast in a heavy
sea. He clutched the ladder. Then everything grew dark, guns
boomed in his ears, his grasp loosened and the last long night
and the last long silence wrapped him like a cloak.
The Weasel had bitten to the bone.
Crushed and mangled, they lifted the Wolf from the pavement five
stories below, and taking him into the hospital once more for a
little while, laid him in the chamber of death beside the
stretcher where the Weasel rested with that new look in his face.
But the nurse who had cared for the Weasel knew the manner of his
going, and rolled his stretcher away across the room. She would
not let him lie even in death beside the other.
The very next afternoon the telephone rang.
Mrs. Potter and Beany and Asa listened, while Porky said, "Yes,
sir, a dozen times and "All right, sir," until Beany twitched
with nervous excitement.
When he put up the receiver, everybody said, "Well?" at the same
Porky went over and kissed his mother. It was real easy to do,
those days. A fellow wanted to kiss his mother.
"Well?" said everybody again.
Timmins hovered in the doorway.
"To-morrow," said Porky with a sort of solemnity.
No one spoke. Then "What time?" said Beany.
"Six o'clock, morning," answered Porky.
"You know, mom, there's no chance of our getting hurt," said
"How you do talk!" said Mrs. Potter. She did not look up,
however. She was finishing the second sweater, and gave it her
"Naw!" said Porky. "Not a chance in the world! We will be home
before you know it, with a lot of good stories to tell you.
Perhaps we will bring you some loot. Wouldn't you like something
to remember the War by?"
"Just you look out for yourselves," said Mrs. Potter. "I'd like
a couple of boys sent home safe and sound. That's what I'd like
to remember things by." She stabbed the needles through her
knitting and, rising, left the room. The boys looked after her.
Beany made a move to follow, but his brother pushed him back.
"Let her alone," he said. "She likes to be brave."
That evening passed like lightning, although all the traps had
been ready for days. "Gladdis, the cook, had baked them a
wonderful fruit cake, and Mr. Leffingwell came home with four new
comfort kits and a portable typewriter for each one--a little
typewriter that would go in one end of a suit-case.
Everybody seemed more than happy, quite noisy, in fact. There
was not a moment when anybody felt the least bit--the least bit--
well, you know! That is, not a moment except just at bedtime.
Then Mrs. Potter came into the boys' room, and gave them each a
little, thin package. She just handed it to them and kissed them
goodnight, and went out.
"Let's see what they are," said Porky. There were two little
leather cases. Inside were Mom Potter's pretty, motherly dear
face, and pop's splendid, homely countenance. Porky jerked out
The following morning, Mr. Leffingwell's car, crowded with the
whole family, was the first to arrive at the station. The Potter
boys wandered restlessly about until Colonel Bright, followed by
his wife and daughter and a Japanese house-man loaded with rugs
and bags, came breezing in with a hearty greeting for everybody.
Mr. Leffingwell bustled about, tipping everybody he could find
to tip. Timmins and the elevator boy took Asa out on the
platform and sat him on a truck where he could see everybody the
very last minute. And all at once it was the very last minute;
and somehow everybody had shaken hands and had talked loudly,
and the boys had kissed their mother--a kiss to be remembered,
and had swung on board. The train started. The boys strained
for one last look at their parents. They thought they smiled.
Asa turned to Timmins.
"Gee, the light hurts a feller's eyes," he said.
SUNDAY AT SEA
It seemed to the boys as though they could never tire of the
novelty and charm of the open sea. By Sunday they had explored
the perfect little ship Firefly from stem to stern. They had
made friends with every man on board and were in the way of
accumulating a strange assortment of facts from their new
Sunday services, read by the grizzled old Captain, seemed very
solemn and strangely touching. They were held on deck, where the
rattling of shrouds and the soft lap of the water made a
wonderful accompaniment to the familiar words of the prayer book.
The boys could not help noticing that every man listened closely
and respectfully. They joined in the responses, and sang lustily
when it came time for the hymns.
The Captain did not read a sermon. Instead he closed the book,
and for a short five minutes spoke to the men simply, clearly,
and to the point. Then there was one more song. Services do not
usually end with it; but as the sound rose, the boys thrilled and
chilled with patriotism. It was "My Country, 'tis of thee" and
those men roared it from the depths of their big, honest, loyal
When the group scattered, Porky and Beany went forward and stood
looking into the distance that bid their Great Adventure. That
the Adventure was at that moment approaching, drawing nearer and
nearer, they did not dream. The sea looked too calm, too serene,
to hide such a terror. They were talking about the safe and
quiet crossing they were having when Colonel Bright approached.
"What now, my gay young buccaneer?" he asked, stopping and
lighting a cigar.
"We were saying what a good old safe trip we are having," said
The Colonel frowned. "Better say that after we arrive," he said,
"Oh, I'm not afraid!" said Porky.
"Nor me!" added Beany.
"I know you are not," said the Colonel. "But there is one thing
I always remind my men of. That is this: never be afraid but
never fail to be careful. You would be a fool to take a chance
with a mad dog, wouldn't you? Well, your enemy is a mad dog or
worse, every time, whether he is trying to get your reputation or
your life. You never want to take chances. Watch him. Sleep
with one eye open. Listen to every breath of wind. Watch, and
watch eternally. You are only safe when he is dead, or disarmed
and in prison. And never belittle your enemy. Better think of
him as bigger than he is, cleverer, and more cunning. When you
belittle his strength you give him the advantage because you will
not fight so hard. And don't take chances."
"No, sir," said Porky.
"Another thing," said the Colonel. "We are not in the danger
zone yet. When we reach that, you will see our Captain taking
all the precautions that can possibly be taken. Understand we do
not anticipate trouble. This is such a small boat that I
scarcely think the Germans would bother with it. At the same
time, if by any chance they have found out that we are crossing
with important papers, agreements, and chemicals, they will be on
the lookout for us and we will have a good chase if we manage to
escape. I don't say this to scare you boys; but you are here,
and I don't want you to underrate the present danger. I will be
good and glad to get across myself. Not a word of this to the
He nodded and walked on. The boys looked at each other.
"Wow!" said Porky softly.
For awhile the boys stared out over the sea. "Time for grub,"
Beany finally said.
"Hungry? asked Beany.
"No," said Porky. He laughed. "You know what Colonel Bright's
done to me? He's made me imagine things. I thought I saw
something over there in the light--way, way off."
Beany stared. "Nothing doing!" he declared. "I could see if it
was there, you know."
"Yes, I know your eyes," said Porky nervously. "I saw a gull or
a porpoise, I suppose."
"I suppose you didn't see anything," said Beany, scanning the
level sea. "Come on down to dinner."
"All right," agreed Porky. He turned from the rail with a last
glance seaward. He seized his brother and whirled him about.
"Look! Look!" he cried. "There it is again, straight ahead!
What's that?" Beany's keen eyes swept the sea in a lightning
glance. Then lie dashed for the companionway and fairly fell
into the presence of the Captain.
"A periscope! A periscope!" he gasped.
In another instant the Captain was on the bridge, the glasses at
his eyes. He commenced rapping out short orders.
The boys, watching breathlessly, saw the guns trained on the
little periscope which, like the reared head of a poisonous
snake, came darting at them with a swiftness which seemed
incredible. Then everything seemed to, happen at once. The
little racer on whose throbbing deck they stood swerved like a
frightened colt. Her guns spoke together; and at the same time
something slim and long cut cleanly through the water and passed
by, missing the Firefly's side so narrowly that the boys felt
their knees weaken under them. The periscope shook as the guns
volleyed again, wavered uncertainly, and sank from sight.
"We hit her!" said Beany at the rail.
The Firefly, with every ounce of steam on, dashed ahead, doubling
here and there and darting about like a frightened hare. A spot
of oil appeared on the water.
"Something wrong," said Porky; "but you can bet we are slated to
get right out of the immediate vicinity of here at our earliest
The Captain, on the bridge, was talking earnestly with Colonel,
Bright and the other officers. Every face held a look of almost
incredulous relief. The gunners stood close to their steel
charges, every man ready for instant action. The Firefly raced
ahead, on and on. No one thought of the interrupted meal. No
one thought of anything but the danger so narrowly passed. They
were still far away from the danger zone. It had been a most
No one noticed when the sun went down or when dusk fell. Not
until darkness wholly hid the sea did they turn from their
sea-wide search for approaching danger.
Then the Captain came down from the bridge and approached the
"How did you happen to discover the periscope before the lookout
did?" he asked.
Porky spoke for his brother. "It's his eyes," he said. "You
see, sir, he has what they call abnormal eyesight. He can see
farther and clearer than anybody else. He can see in the dark
too, nearly as well as by day. So it wasn't the fault of the
lookout that Beany saw it first. He always sees everything
before anybody else gets a chance."
"That's odd," mused the Captain. "Well, young fellow, you saved
the ship this time all right. It looks as though you had better
be stationed on deck when we reach the danger zone. Come down
now and get you supper. You never want to go into danger when
you are hungry." He slapped Beany on the back and passed on.
The boys followed, suddenly conscious that they had omitted the
important ceremony of dinner, but Beany was almost too nervous to
eat. He felt as though those keen eyes of his should be on deck.
There was a great clatter at the table, the Captain alone sitting
in his usual serious silence.
Young Cogggins called out, "Well, that's over with, anyway! They
say lightning never strikes in the same place twice."
The Captain smiled. "That's true enough," he said, "but for the
sake of safety I had better tell you that these submarines nearly
always travel in pairs. We are apt to meet the sister U-boat
A silence fell. "I don't feel sleepy," murmured young Coggins.
"Wouldn't it be nice to sleep on deck to-night?"
"Deck for mine!" said Porky in a low voice. "I will say I don't
get many thrills out of this being cooped downstairs when there
are subs all around."
"Downstairs!" quoted Coggins scornfully. "Don't let the Captain
hear you talking about the 'downstairs' of his ship, you
"Well, I don't care what you call it! It's downstairs to me
anyhow! And whatever you call it, I don't want to sleep there."
"Bosh!" said Coggins. "I tell you we won't see another sub on
the whole trip. Do you know the percentage of boats that see
subs on their way over?"
He launched into a flow of statistics. Porky and Beany seemed to
listen. In fact they were thinking hard. As usual, they thought
the same thing, and as they were fully conscious that they were
doing so, they found the process as satisfactory as a regular
"Me for bed," said Coggins finally.
"You don't mean bed, do you?" asked Porky. "How the Captain
would feel if he should hear you call his nice berths 'beds!'"
"I thought you were coming on deck," said Beany.
"Of course not; that was a joke," said Coggins.
"Good-night then," said the boys. They went up on deck. It was
perfectly dark. Not even a riding light was shown, and through
the darkness at top speed raced the Firefly.
"Sort of thrilling, isn't it?" said Porky in a low tone as they
leaned over the rail and looked down at the mysterious water
below them. "Gee, I hope we don't get torpedoed! I worry about
the Colonel. I don't know how well he can swim, or anything
about it. He'd catch cold, too, like as not!" He grinned.
"Say, do you know what I did back home? I knew you'd laugh if I
told you. I bought a couple pounds of--"
"Chocolate," completed Beany. "I did too."
"Any malted milk tablets?" asked Porky.
"Yep, a couple of bottles."
"Oh, gee! Doesn't it beat anything? I suppose yours are for the
Colonel in case of shipwreck. Just that!"
"Of course", grinned the other twin. "Well, we are well stocked
up; and as long as we have done it, let's fix things up in case
anything should happen. You know the Colonel will think of
himself the very last one. And if anything does happen, old
chap, just you stick right by the Colonel."
"You know if there is anything we can do, and do it is swim."
The two boys went down to their stateroom, and got out the
precious store of chocolates and malted milk. Each boy put his
share in the oil skin water-tight money belt that had been one of
Mr. Leffingwell's many gifts. Their money went easily into a
much smaller and less complicated carrier that each boy wore
around his neck. Then, feeling ready for any emergency, they
hurried back to the dark and silent deck. They stayed up until
midnight. Then the wind started up, increasing in violence until
the chilled watchers took refuge below.
The boys turned in.
It seemed about fifteen minutes when Porky sat up. Beany was
leaning down from the upper berth.
"Did you call me?" he asked.
"No, I thought you called me," said Porky.
"All right," said Beany. He swung to the floor. "Hustle and
dress. I bet some thing is on foot.
He hustled himself into his clothes and was ready as soon as
Porky, who considered himself the record dresser. Together they
slipped through the dark passage and went up on deck. The
Firefly fled like a wild thing, cutting a swift path through a
rough and choppy sea.
They went forward. Motionless, a dark blur against the sky line,
they saw the lookout, his eyes searching the waste. Scudding
clouds were massing in the east. A storm was on the way. The
boys walked the length of the steamer and leaned over the stern,
where the water boiled furiously away from the propeller. Close
beside them another watch silently studied the surface of the
sea. The night lifted a little. It was nearly dawn. The boys
felt depressed. Porky turned and studied the sky in the east;
Beany kept his keen eyes on the water behind the Firefly.
Suddenly be clutched his brother's arm.
"See! See!" he cried. "Where that patch of white shows! She's
coming! Look! Look!"
The glass of the lookout swept the waves. "Nothing there," he
said gruffly. Then with a gasp he cried loudly, "Torpedo port;
Porky saw a slim, swift something cleaving the water. It made
straight for the ship. His reason told him that it would strike;
he grasped his brother by the arm. "The Colonel!" he cried and
made for the cabins below.
Their hurried descent was broken by a terrific crash which threw
them headlong. They scrambled to their feet and, gaining the
Colonel's door, burst it open.
"Quick, quick, Colonel!" they cried.
They bustled him up the companionway. The little Firefly had
already listed heavily to port when another torpedo struck her
with shattering force. She rocked back and forth, striving to
right herself. The boats were being lowered. The Captain called
for the Colonel, and insisted on his entering the largest
lifeboat. Two other boats were already crowded and launched.
The Firefly settled with a sickening motion.
"All off!" cried the Captain. He glanced over the deserted ship,
and jumped for the boat the Colonel was sitting in. As he landed
a bulky parcel shot past him, and landed at the colonel's feet.
Then another bundle sailed accurately through the air. The first
was the Colonel's uniform; the second, his great top-coat. On
the slanting, shivering deck the twins stood looking down,
yelling madly. "Put on your clothes!" Porky was frantically
"Look in the pockets!" called Beany.
The Captain stood up with a despairing gesture. "Jump!" he
The boys nodded, but instead of obeying, they disappeared behind
the cabin. For a moment the men rested on their oars, then at a
command from the Captain they pulled furiously away from the
sinking ship which threatened to engulf them as she went down.
However, they had gained a safe distance before the doomed
vessel, rocking back and forth, gained a dreadful momentum,
showed her splintered and shattered hull as if in mute excuse for
her action, and disappeared forever in the engulfing sea.
The Captain stood looking at the place were the vessel had
Colonel Bright buried his face in his hands.
"Gone!" he groaned. "What shall I say to their people?" He
choked as he put on the clothes the boys had rescued and thrown
after him. He felt in the pocket of the coat as Beany had yelled
for him to do. It held a water-proof belt stuffed with chocolate
and malted milk tablets. Again he groaned.
"What ailed them? Why didn't they jump?" he asked. Over and
over again he asked the question but there was no one to answer.
In the distance the other boats were working toward the east.
Far the other side of where the doomed boat had gone down, they
could see the gray back of the submarine, now lying on the
surface. Strangely enough, she did not try to pursue or shell
them. The men at the oars rowed furiously to escape. The wind
rose, and the rain, which had been drizzling down, commenced to
fall in torrents. It made a shield as enveloping as a heavy fog.
The submarine was not to be seen, and they, of course, were
hidden from her. Hour after hour the rain fell; and all the men
rowed, taking turns at the heavy oars. The Colonel sat silent.
He could not forget the young gallant pair gone down with the
ship, two splendid lives snuffed out in an hour.
Night came to the drenched, hungry men a time of torture. In the
morning, the Colonel divided a part of the chocolate, which
restored a portion of strength to the rowers. So another day
dragged toward its close. The rain had stopped, and a hot sun
had dried their clothing. They were beginning to feel the pangs
of thirst, but the hoard of chocolate and malted milk tablets
mercifully held out. In the far, far distance they could see one
of the other boats. The others were gone. Where, they could not
Then at dawn happened the miracle. Out of the dusk a big ship
seemed to take form. She was miles away, but to their eyes,
growing accustomed only to the unrelenting stretch of sea and
sky, she seemed to loom over them.
As it grew lighter, they could see that she was a huge transport
with her convoys about her.
Carl Coggins leaped to a seat, tearing off a silk shirt as he did
so. He ran a big oar through the sleeves and waved it wildly.
"I have always wanted to do this," he cried. "Now you see why I
wouldn't wear a service shirt under my tunic!"
"Wave ahead!" said the Colonel. "Here's hoping they see you!"
The little boatful anxiously watched the great ship and her
convoys. Would she pause?
A SUBMARINE FLIES A FLAG OF TRUCE
Furiously Carl waved his white flag, Every eye was fastened on
the distant shape. A cry went up from the men in the little boat.
"They see us--they see us!"
They renewed their rowing with all their remaining strength, as
though the great ship laying to in the distance might suddenly
But instead they saw a couple of boats put off--motor-boats that
cut their way furiously through the water and soon reached them.
A word of explanation from the Captain of the Firefiy to the
young officer in charge of the motor-boat, and they were taken in
tow, while the exhausted oarsmen leaned heavily on their oars,
and every heart sent up a prayer of thanksgiving.
The transport was the one they had been trying to overtake, and
Colonel Bright's own men met him with cheers and sobs as he was
assisted on deck. He and the others were hurried below where
they were put under the care of the ship's doctor.
A search now began for the remaining boats. It was not until
just before dark that the powerful glasses in the hands of one of
the lookout men discovered some small specks far to starboard.
It was the missing boats. As soon as they, with their loads of
suffering men, had been taken on board, the transport and her
convoys, wrapped in darkness, plunged forward through the
They were approaching the danger zone.
The following day, the Colonel was himself again. He had been
too long a soldier to let the loss of the two boys, dear as they
were, completely crush him. They were lost; it was the fortune
of war. They were lost as thousands of other young, splendid
fellows had been lost; and although the Colonel could scarcely
bear to think of the grief of the poor mother back home when she
should learn of the loss of her two idolized sons, he put the
picture behind him. Here was a transport full of men, his own
command largely, and a deep anxiety beset him when he looked over
the sea, searching its surface for a glimpse of a telltale
He fell to watching the convoys with their bristling guns and the
intricate tackle used in this modern game of war at sea. They
looked capable, every inch of them, and deadly in their
efficiency. Yet occasionally the deadly U-boat claimed one of
these as a victim. Once more his eyes roved over the big
It was packed and jammed with men. They were quartered in every
possible place. Happy, jolly fellows, full of the finest courage
in the world, ready for anything, eager for the next adventure,
meeting victory with modesty, accepting disaster with a smile.
The rails on each side of the ship were lined with men watching,
watching like himself, yet with a difference.
The Colonel smiled as he guessed the eagerness with which they
hoped for a sight of a submarine. Not a man of them there wanted
to drown, but he wanted to see a sub, and with the hopefulness of
his character he felt that the chances were good for getting away
before any damage was done.
Still thinking of the boys he had loved so well, he leaned once
more over the rail, his sad blue eyes searching the sea. Waves
and sky; waves and sky; a gull in the distance but nothing else.
For an hour he stood there thinking, forgetful of his promise to
go below, staring about, searching the vastness for a sign of the
danger that lurked everywhere, the terrible U-boats; but he
looked and saw nothing. Another night passed but as the day
dawned, a sudden warning call sounded through the ship, and
peering through his porthole, the Colonel saw the long, slim
shape of a torpedo whizzing toward the great ship. It was badly
aimed and as it passed harmlessly on, a thunder of guns shattered
the peace of the morning. The Colonel rushed on deck. As he did
so, he saw the turret of a U-boat between the transport and her
nearest convoy sink out of sight. Again the guns spoke as the
boat went down. The periscope of the sub wavered and leaned far
out of true. Another torpedo cut the water and struck the
transport a glancing blow, doing but little damage. The two
convoys were now busy with another U-boat that had attacked them.
One of the convoys, a destroyer of the latest and finest type,
threw a smoke screen between the U-boat and the transport, but
the U-boat, evidently under orders to get the transport with its
crowds of men at any cost, came to the surface in the midst of
the smoke and, using the screen to her own advantage, slipped
close to the transport. As she did so there was another clamor
of guns from both the convoys. The Colonel could not see the
result of the firing. The guns on the transport were aimed at
the nearest U-boat which had come so, close to her intended
victim. She lay on the surface, and one torpedo and then another
shot from her firing tubes. The fire from the transport missed
The torpedoes seemed possessed. Instead of holding the straight
line that would have doomed the great ship to certain destruction,
they skipped here and there. One of them turned and narrowly
missed the U-boat which was now apparently making an effort to
submerge. So strangely did the boat act that the gunner hesitated
as he was about to give the order to fire.
No other torpedo was sent out, and the submarine kept to the
surface, swinging slowly.
"She must be badly crippled," said the Captain to Colonel Bright,
who stood beside him on the bridge. He gave the order to an
officer to open fire on the boat.
As the men leaped to their guns, a strange thing happened. The
hatch on the submarine opened, and a man leaped out to the deck.
He waved a white flag.
"No good!" said the Captain. "That's been done before. I won't
risk one of my boat crews over there."
"You can't shoot at a flag of truce," said the Colonel hastily.
"You have to in warfare like this," said the Captain bitterly.
The figure on the U-boat, looking very small in the distance,
continued to wave his flag. The Captain nodded to the commander
of the gun crew on the nearest turret. The gun leaped into
position. At that instant the figure on the reeling submarine
whipped a small flag from his pocket and flourished it beside the
other. The officers and men on board the transport gasped.
It was an American flag!
Yes, there on a German submarine a solitary figure was waving
aloft the Stars and Stripes.
The Captain uttered an exclamation of amazement, and shook his
head at the gun crew. Almost at once a couple of motor-boats,
filled with armed men, shot from the transport and raced over the
rough sea to the rolling sub.
"We will soon know what all this is about," said Captain Greene.
"Come down while I prepare a wireless."
The two Captains and the Colonel went below, while the men
crowded the rail and watched the boats, now at the side of the
distant submarine. It was a long time before they started back.
The men could see that they were loading the boats with something
that looked like rolls of cloth. Finally they returned.
The officers, coming back to the decks, were greeted by volleys
of deafening cheers, boots, calls, laughter. Every man who could
got near the railing was there. They were packed solidly,
looking down at the boats below. Those who could not reach a
point of vantage swung up on their companions' shoulders.
Everybody hooted and laughed. Presently there was a break in
the, line, and four strapping sailors made their way through with
a burden which they laid none too gently on the deck. Another
and another, and still they came, until at the Captain's feet
there was a row of fourteen unconscious figures, wound and
strapped with rope until they resembled mummies. Captain Greene
bent closely above the figures. Two of them wore the uniform of
German officers; but one and all were unconscious, and tightly
"What does this mean?" demanded Captain Greene. He looked up
just as a stifled cry came from the Captain of the Firefly. On
the other side of him, Colonel Bright staggered and would have
fallen, had not a friendly hand steadied him. He as well as the
Captain of the Firefly were staring with bulging eyes at the
figure that was just emerging from the crowd at the rail. As
they stared, apparently unable to speak, another figure joined
Covered with dirt, unkempt, dressed in what seemed to be cast-off
fragments of all the uniforms under the sun, the two figures
stood looking around with broad grins, on their pale and smudgy
A bloody bandage half hid the face of one of them, the other
nursed a hand bundled in rough, soiled cloths.
Colonel Bright tried to speak. Words failed him. He gulped
feebly, and waved a hand at the apparitions. They stepped
forward and wearily saluted.
"Yes, Sir, it's us!" said the scarecrow with the bandage.
Porky and Beany had come back!
THE TWINS BEGIN THEIR STORY
With scarcely a look at the still trussed-up figures on the deck,
Colonel Bright rushed forward, and in a second had the two boys
in his arms.
"Please, Colonel, can't we go down to your cabin? I rather guess
we are all in." Porky swayed against the Colonel's broad
The Colonel beckoned to a couple of his men who were standing
near. They dashed forward, and almost carried the exhausted boys
down into the Colonel's roomy cabin.
"Not a word now, boys, until we get you comfortable. Are you
The boys looked at each other.
"I guess we are starved," Beany managed to pipe in a small voice.
Captain Greene went to the door and gave a quick order. A couple
of men got them out of their rags and into fresh pajamas. Then a
light meal came in.
Porky heaved a sigh. "I suppose you want to know about it," he
The Colonel looked at him.
"No, I don't," he said. "It is enough to get you back. Suppose
you try to sleep for awhile."
Porky smiled. "Say, Colonel, that's good of you!" he said. "We
are done up a bit, aren't we, Beany?"
Beany did not reply. He was sound asleep, sitting bolt upright
on his locker.
"Hello there, young fellows," the Colonel said cheerily twelve
hours later. "How do you feel after your little nap? Think you
could eat a little something?"
"Just try us, sir," said Porky. "Say, Colonel, sir, we have a
lot to tell you! May we talk while we eat breakfast?"
"You certainly may," said the Colonel, "but I will have to call
Captain Greene. This is his ship, and he has a right to hear
anything you have to tell."
Captain Greene came in; the boys did not notice that a shorthand
clerk sat just outside the open door.
"Well, in the first place, Colonel, here are your papers. We
went back to get them, and we took them with us all in their
oil-silk wrapper, but those fellows over there in the submarine
tore the oil-silk up. They took the papers, of course, but I got
'em back when we put the bunch to sleep."
"Begin at the beginning, please," said Captain Greene.
"And tell me why you didn't jump when I said, 'Jump,'" demanded
the Captain of the Firefly.
"Why, we had to get those papers!" said Porky simply. "I don't
think that was insubordination. I knew the Colonel wanted them.
He was so careful of them."
"All right," said the Colonel. "What happened then?"
"Why, the Firefly rolled around for a minute and then she went
down. Say, Colonel, were you ever on a sinking ship? We got
sucked right in with her. I thought we never would come up. I
got out first, and I didn't see Beany, and Gee! I was never so
seared in my life. I was just thinking about diving for him when
he popped up all out of breath, same as I was. We had to float
awhile, we were so used up. Then we happened to look up. We
hadn't said a word yet, and there was that submarine. It had
come up on the other side of us, between us and where the ship
had been. So we couldn't get around to where you must have been
in the boats. There was a man on the little top deck place, and
he had a boat hook, and first I knew he was sticking for me with
that boat hook, just as though I was, somebody's hat lost
overboard. He didn't care whether he stuck his old hook into a
meat boy or not. I saw he wanted us anyhow; so I said, 'Come
on!' to Beany, and swum up the side of the submarine, and
clambered onto the little deck, and Beany followed. Mr.
Boy-sticker grunted something at us, and shoved us down the
little steep ladder, and there we were in the inside of that
"The boy-sticker shoved us over to a table, and there was an
officer sitting with a bottle and glass, and a small chunk of a
sort of black bread."
"That stuff is made of sawdust and oatmeal, I'll bet," said
Beany. "It was worse than we would give the pigs!"
"Well," said Porky, "we stood where we had been shoved, and
pretty soon the officer looked up, and the boy-sticker commenced
to talk to him in German.
"The officer commenced to look real bright and interested. He
said, 'Goot! Goot!' three or four times, and then he said
something to us in German. I shook my head, and he tried French.
He said, 'Parley voos Frongsay?' and I said, 'Wee wee!' and Beany
he butted in and said, 'Better not be so fresh with your wees
unless he's got a dictionary to lend you,' and the officer jumped
and said, 'Himmel! Where have you come from?' in just as good
English as that. We both said Syracuse; and he laughed, and
said, 'What a small world! Why, I went to Syracuse University!'
"You would never think a guy that had chances in a real country like
ours would act like he did. He kept us standing there, and he asked
us all about everything back home, and just as we thought he was
getting real friendly he said cool as anything, 'We saved you because
we are short handed. Do as you are told. Obey. It's your one
chance. We will shoot you, no doubt, when we get to port.'
"Wasn't that nice and encouraging," asked Beany of the attentive
audience. "They made us take off all our clothes and put on
those old things that had belonged to the two fellows who had
died. And then we went to work. Well, he set me to fixing up
the little bunk place he slept in, when he did sleep. The rest
of us just laid down anywhere. There's not a lot of room in a
"Yes, and first thing," said Beany, "Porky was wigwagging me to
be careful what I did, and to try to keep the Captain from
"Yes, because what do you think I had found? A wad of papers
that looked like plans just lying around on his locker, and a
whole row of bottles. Medicines I suppose, and one of them said
Anesthetique, and I made up my mind that was dope."
"The next thing happened, he set me to oiling up the torpedoes.
Gee, it made me so mad to see those great smooth things lying
there on their shelves ready to roll into the tubes and be shot
at some good American ship! All at once it came to me what to do
if I could work it. So I took that knife Mr. Leffingwell gave
me, the one with a whole tool-chest in it, and I opened it behind
my hand, and found a dandy screw-driver. Then I took a look over
the torpedo I was fussing with, and I saw it steered by its tail.
I knew it must be carefully adjust, and I sort of memorized where
all the screws were."
"They can remember anything," said Colonel Bright to Captain
Greene. "Go on!"
"Well, sir, that night I went to sleep, or pretended to, right
under the torpedo shelves, and when I heard everybody snore, I
went to work, and twisted all those screws a little."
The Captain burst out into a roar of laughter.
"Well, son," cried Captain Greene, "it certainly worked! Could
you see the result of your scheme?"
"No, sir, we couldn't see a thing. But I thought it must have
worked because--well, I felt it must!
"Then everybody in the boat seemed to be mad at everybody else;
and everything they said sounded as though they were threatening
each other. Once the Captain laughed when the boy-sticker man
said something to me, and he said,
"'Do you know what he said?' And I said no; and the Captain said,
'Well, it's too bad you never learned German! He was telling you
just what he intends to do to you as soon as I give him leave.
He's a faithful soul, is Heinrich, and he wants you for his very
"I said, 'Well, what you going to do about it? I guess it made
me sort of mad to have him sit there and poke fun at me. He
looked at me a minute, and then he up and shied his glass at me.
It was a big heavy glass, but he was a little full as usual, and
didn't aim very well."
"It took him on the side of the head, just the same," said Beany.
"Well, anyhow," continued Porky, "he looked at me and he said,
'When you speak to me say Sir or next time I'll kill you.' Porky
grinned. "He looked as though he meant it, too."
"You bet he meant it!" said Beany. "He was just aching to shoot
us through the torpedo tube, the way they always get rid of dead
ones. Gee, I was seared to death for Porky. That Captain seemed
to pick on Porky, and he mixed us so, us looking just alike, that
he put a white band around my arm, so he could tell which wasn't
"Well, I guess you don't want to hear all this junk," said Porky.
"We want every bit of it," said Captain Greene.
"Tell them about the fight they had," said Beany, shifting his
"We saw one thing right off," said Porky. "The Captain was the
whole push, just as if he was king. He sat there with a big
revolver beside him on the table, and I can tell you he didn't
trust his own shadow. The way Beany, and I doped it out, he was
running in hard luck. He had been sent out to sink a certain
number of ships before he could report, and all he had torpedoed
was just the Firefly. Grub was getting low, two of his men were
dead, and another one was curled up on the locker sicker than a
pup. Once in awhile the Captain would look at him, and say to us
in English, 'About twenty-four hours more, eh? Then he goes
through the tube.'"
"He just didn't have any heart at all," shuddered Beany. "Of
course that was why they didn't kill us; they couldn't run the
boat and tend to the torpedoes and the periscope and the engines
all at once in a case of a fight, with three men short. And then
they had to fight."
"Tell us about that," said Colonel Bright.
"I don't know when it was," said Porky. "Night and day was all
alike down there, but there was one big yellow-haired fellow that
ran the engine. He had been ordered to show me about it; and,
say, I will say I can run a submarine now. It was what you call
intensive training. When I was slow, he gave me a clip on the
head. He could just do anything with machinery. But they certainly
have got that submarine engine perfected so it will do everything
but talk. Any child could run it as soon as he learned the
different levers. I don't believe we have anything like
it; but we can have now because there's the pattern outside
there. You didn't shell it, did you?"
"Certainly not," said Captain Greene. "It is in charge of a
picked crew of our men right outside."
"Well, don't let 'em take her down until I get a chance to show
them how she works. There is just one lever that controls the
diving gear, and that is hidden, so you can't find it if you
don't know about it. I came near turning the old thing over. I
got beaten up that trip."
"Get to the fight," said Beany.
"The engineer was nutty. He talked all the time and muttered to
himself, and it got on the Captain's nerves or what he had left
of them. He stared at the engineer half the time; and that made
Louie peevish, I suppose. He took it out on me more or less--kept
me sweating over that engine every minute he was awake. He
wanted a drink too. It was sort of raw the way that Captain
would sit there and guzzle and never give the others a bit of it.
Louie would watch and watch and swallow hard; and the Captain
would watch him back again and grin. hey were just like a lot of
"Well, they didn't have enough to eat, to begin with," said
Beany, "and then the air was so bad, and they were all cooped up
in that little space, and you couldn't hear any outside noises at
all. You don't know how funny that is.
"They took our watches, so we couldn't tell the time, and,
honest, I thought we must have been there a month. And they all
knew that something pretty fierce would happen to them it they
went back home without sinking the ships that had been required
of them. They have it all down to a system.
"Well, pretty soon Louie took to leaving me with the engine, and