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The Camp Fire Girls Do Their Bit by Hildegard G. Frey

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girl drew from the fiddle resting so caressingly in the hollow of her
shoulder.

It was a plaintive, melancholy melody she played first, throbbing with
unsatisfied longing and quivering with pain and heartbreak. Sahwah
shivered and thought of ice cold rain drops falling on long dead leaves,
and the restless unhappiness seized upon her again. The melody wandered
on, and in its weird minor thirds there seemed to be all the anguish of
an oppressed people, hopeless of release from bondage; condemned to toil
in darkness forever.

Then a new note crept into the music, a note of protest, of rebellion.
Fury took the place of hopelessness; dumb resignation gave way to angry
stirrings. Fiercely the storm raged for a moment, and then subsided into
feeble murmurs, and flickered out into hopelessness again, blacker and
deeper than before. Then came flight, sudden and headlong, hurried and
confused; and days of wandering by land and sea, hours of loneliness and
homesickness, of mingled hope and fear, of faith and perplexity, ending
in a magnificent hymn of thanksgiving and praise for deliverance. It
made Sahwah think of the persecuted Jews in Russia, fleeing from a
massacre and coming to America for refuge.

But now the music had taken a gayer, brighter turn. Everywhere there was
the hum of industry, a contented sound like the buzzing of bees intent
upon gathering honey. Songs of happiness rose on every side, mingled
with the sound of joyful feet passing in a gay dance. The music took on
an irresistible lilt; the feet of the listeners itched to join in the
measure and tapped out the time involuntarily.

Suddenly the dance turned into marching, the earth resounded with the
tramp, tramp of advancing feet, the music became a martial strain; it
stirred the blood to fever heat and set the pulses leaping madly. Louder
and more triumphant swelled the strain, louder came the tramp of the
victorious armies following in the wake of trumpets, until the whole
earth seemed to mingle its voice in one great shout of victory.

Without knowing it the listeners were on their feet, clutching each
other with tense fingers, their eyes blurred with tears, their throats
aching with emotion, their hearts burning to perform deeds of valor for
their country, to fight to the last ditch, to die as heroes for their
native land.

They hardly realized when Veronica had stopped playing and slipped
quietly out of the room.

"God, what playing!" breathed Mr. Wing to the artist. "Music like that
would turn cowards into heroes and heroes into demi-gods; would inspire
a wooden dummy to fight to the last ditch for freedom and native land.
Daggers and Dirks! What a red-hot little American she is! Why, if a
_dead_ man heard her play the 'Star Spangled Banner' the way she just
played it, he'd rise up to protect his country. Yes, and his very
_monument_ would shoulder a gun and get into the ranks against the foe!"

Refreshments were brought in and the babel of tongues broke loose again.
Everyone asked for Veronica, wanted to sit beside her and tell her what
a wonderful genius she was, but she was nowhere to be found.
Grandmother Wing came in presently and said that Veronica had slipped
out and gone home because she had a sick headache and wanted to be
alone.

"She has those headaches so often," said Migwan in a tone of concern. "I
wonder if I hadn't better go home after her."

"She said she wanted to be alone," said Nyoda thoughtfully. "She always
does, you know, when she has a headache. I don't believe I'd go after
her. She'll go right to bed and be all right in the morning."

With many expressions of regret at Veronica's indisposition the boys and
girls resumed their frolic.

Slim and the Captain, still in their roles of mammy and pickaninny,
walked home with the Winnebagos when the party finally broke up, the
pickaninny trundling his own one-wheeled chariot, which was so full of
presents there was no room for him.

Nyoda broke the news to them of their appointment as executioners of
Kaiser Bill and they accepted the commission gravely. "'Horatius,' quoth
the consul, 'as thou sayst, so let it be,'" quoted Slim with a dramatic
flourish. "We'll execute your orders and the goat at the same time. But
does it take two to speed the fatal ball? Why am I honored thus when
here beside me stands the world's champion crack shot, even the great
Cicero St. John?"

The Captain suddenly flushed and glared at Slim, but said nothing.

"'Herminius beat his bosom, but never a word he spake,'" quoted Slim,
grinning. "You see," he continued, turning to the girls, "the Captain
and I were practising shooting at a target once, out in the country, and
the Captain came so near the bull's eye that he shot the perch out from
under a parrot in a cage fifty feet away. O Mother dear, Jerusalem! You
never saw such a surprised bird in all your life!" Slim was overcome by
the remembrance, and the Captain grinned feebly at the laughter which
the tale invoked.

"Don't you worry, I guess I can shoot a goat all right," said the
Captain with some asperity.

"Uttered like a man, Captain," grinned Slim. "'Then out spoke brave
Horatius, the Captain of the gate--'"

His flow of nonsense was interrupted by an exclamation of surprise from
Nyoda as they reached the front gate. A messenger boy was running up the
steps of Carver House just ahead of them.

CHAPTER XIV

NEWS FROM THE FRONT

"Does Mrs. Andrew Sheridan live here?" asked the boy, looking from one
to the other.

"Here," replied Nyoda, holding out her hand for the envelope.

"Who can be telegraphing at this time of night?" asked Hinpoha, shot
through with a sudden fear that something had happened to her aunt and
they were telegraphing to Nyoda about it.

Nyoda stepped into the hall, switched on the light and tore open the
envelope. Then she gasped suddenly and sat down on the stair steps with
a frightened "Oh-h-h!"

"What is it, Nyoda?" asked the girls, crowding around her in alarm.

She held out the telegram and Gladys took it from her hands and held it
up where all could see:

MRS. ANDREW SHERIDAN,

Oakwood, Pa.

Your husband on board _Antares_ when she sank in collision off Nova
Scotia August first. Now in Good Samaritan Hospital, St. Margaret's,
Nova Scotia, probably fatally injured.
Come.

The signature was that of some official of the government.

"Oh-h-h!" cried the Winnebagos in horror, staring, fascinated, at the
fatal sheet of paper in their hands. Migwan ran to Nyoda and put her
arms around her in silent sympathy; the rest stood still, with shocked,
frightened faces.

After a moment of stunned surprise Nyoda rallied herself. "Come," she
said, in her usual calm, brisk tones, "I have to make haste. I must go
on that early morning train. It goes through here about four. Help me
pack, girls."

Recalled to themselves by the quietness of Nyoda's manner the Winnebagos
set about helping in their usual efficient way. Hinpoha and Gladys sped
to the kitchen to make coffee and sandwiches; Sahwah sped downstairs
into the laundry to bring up the freshly ironed clothes; Slim and the
Captain went up into the attic to bring down the suitcase and make
themselves generally useful; Migwan went to Nyoda's room with her to
help her make ready for the journey.

Sahwah was coming up the cellar stairs with a basket of clothes in her
hand. Just as she passed the side entry door she heard someone fumbling
with the knob on the outside. The knob turned and the door began to open
softly. "Who's there?" called Sahwah sharply, switching on the light in
the entry and throwing wide the door. There stood Veronica, with her
violin under her arm and her hat and coat on. She started back when she
saw Sahwah and the two stood looking into each other's eyes. "She hasn't
been home, she's still got her violin," was the thought that went
through Sahwah's mind.

"I thought you went home with a sick headache from the party," she said
in astonishment.

"So did the rest of them," replied Veronica imperturbably.

Their eyes met and held for a second, and it seemed to Sahwah that
Veronica looked haggard and haunted.

"Is everybody home?" asked Veronica presently.

"Yes," replied Sahwah, "and, O Veronica--" and she told her the news.

"Oh, poor, poor Nyoda!" cried Veronica, and throwing off her hat and
coat she thrust them with her violin into the closet under the stairs
and then sped upstairs.

"She didn't have a headache at all, she didn't go home, she went
somewhere else," throbbed Sahwah's weary brain. "And whatever she's
done, she's scared to death about it," it throbbed on. "Why did she come
stealing in the back door that way?"

Worried and perplexed, but still loyal to her promise to say nothing to
the others about Veronica, Sahwah went on sorting and carrying up the
ironed clothes.

Upstairs Migwan was helping Nyoda get dressed for her journey. Nyoda
was still in her George Washington suit, which she had concealed under a
long cloak on the way home, and Migwan's hands trembled so with
excitement she could hardly take out the endless pins that they had put
in with so much fun and laughter a few hours before.

"How did Sherry, happen to be on the ocean?" Nyoda asked wonderingly.
"He was in France the last time I heard from him. Why would he be coming
to America now?"

Migwan could not answer the question, she could only press her beloved
Guardian's hand tight in hers by way of sympathy and then fly back at
the pins, which all seemed to be allied against them, for they buried
their heads out of sight and thrust their points where Migwan's shaking
fingers caught and tore themselves upon them. The suit was off at last
and Migwan tucked Nyoda into bed for an hour of rest while she pressed
her dark blue silk traveling dress and sewed fresh collars and cuffs
into her jacket.

In the next room Veronica was swiftly packing the suitcase. The whole
house was filled with confusion and haste. The old portraits on the
walls looked down in astonishment at this unwonted turning of night into
day, at the lights burning all over the house, from attic to basement,
and at the girls running up and downstairs, bumping into each other in
their haste and getting more flurried all the time. A smell of coffee
pervaded the whole place, and this was soon superseded by the odor of
burning toast. In the midst of the confusion the telephone rang and
everybody thought someone else was answering it, with the result that
nobody answered it and it rang a second time, long and insistently.
Sahwah rushed up from the basement; Veronica sped swiftly down from
upstairs, followed in a moment by Migwan; Hinpoha hastily snatched the
coffee pot off the fire and ran in from the kitchen; Gladys hastened
from the pantry; the two boys jumped in from the porch, and at the same
moment Nyoda called over the banister and asked if someone would answer
the telephone.

Sahwah got there first and snatched down the receiver with a trembling
hand while the rest stood expectantly around, fearful of what this
midnight message might be. And then after all the call was not for the
house at all; the operator had made a wrong connection!

Hinpoha flew back to her toast; Sahwah returned to the basement, limping
as she went, having struck her shin against the steps in the hurried
trip up. Migwan had pricked her finger when the bell rang, it had
startled her so, and a great drop of blood fell on the clean collar, so
that she had to rip it out and find another one and sew that in. Then
she discovered a button missing and hunted endlessly to find another one
to match.

Everything was fixed at last and Migwan ran downstairs to see what was
to be done there. Everything was being taken care of, and so, turning
off the lights which were blazing unnecessarily in the long parlor, she
sank down in a chair to rest a moment. Already the party seemed days in
the past--could it be that this was still the same night? A shade
flapped in the window, irritating her strained nerves, and she rose
hastily and pulled it up. Her hand came in contact with something soft
and silky. It was the service flag in the window--the flag that stood
for Sherry. Reverently she straightened it out and stood stroking it
with shaking fingers. The dark blue star stood out dimly in the light
that shone through the window from the outside and the thought came into
her mind that soon it might be replaced by a gold star. Tears came into
her eyes; she forced them resolutely back and hastened upstairs to tell
Nyoda that her hour was up and she must get up and begin to dress. Nyoda
was already up and dressed when she went into the room; she was standing
in front of the mirror combing her hair. Migwan hastened forward to
assist her, reproaching herself that she hadn't come up sooner.

The blue dress was soon on and adjusted and Migwan pinned the collar
while Veronica adjusted the cuffs.

Nyoda was checking off on her fingers the things she must take.
"Handkerchiefs--did you get them in?" Veronica nodded.

"Towels, soap case, hairpins, buttonhook?"

"Everything," replied Veronica.

"Slippers, bathrobe--"

"I forgot the slippers!" exclaimed Veronica, and sped after them.

The hall clock chimed half past three and Nyoda started nervously.

"Plenty of time," said Migwan soothingly. "Come downstairs now and drink
your coffee and eat something."

Nyoda went downstairs and drank several cups of coffee and forced
herself to eat some of the scorched toast, although she was not in the
least hungry.

"You'll stay here in the house until I come back, won't you, girls?" she
said between sips of coffee. "Ill leave you in full charge. You'll be
careful, won't you?"

"Yes, Nyoda," they all promised. "We'll be good and see that nothing
happens. Don't worry."

"I'll send you my address as soon as I get there, so you can write me.
Remember about lighting the gas stove in the kitchen, Hinpoha, it puffs.
The bed linen is in the closet off the front room upstairs."

"Yes, Nyoda, we'll find everything, don't worry."

The long peal of an auto horn sounded outside.

"There's the car," said Sahwah. "The boys got it out of the garage and
around the front of the house."

"What time is it?"

"A quarter to four. We'd better start, you have to buy your ticket
first. Here, let me take the suitcase."

"Where are my gloves?"

"Here they are," said Migwan, handing them to her.

They passed quickly down the front walk and into the waiting automobile.
A swift ride through the quiet streets in the first pale glimmerings of
the dawn, and they were in the little station, the only ones waiting for
the train.

The Captain strode over to the blackboard while Nyoda went to buy her
ticket. "Train's on time," he announced, coming back to the group.

In another minute they heard the whistle in the distance, and then the
long train roared in and came to a panting halt. The Captain seized
Nyoda's suitcase and jumped aboard with it. Nyoda followed and stood
still on the train steps to say good-bye to the Winnebagos crowding
around.

"Be good, girlies," she said, smiling bravely at them.

"Oh, Nyoda, _dear_ Nyoda! We'll think of you every minute. We'll pray
for you and Sherry."

The conductor stood on the platform, watch in hand.

"If you need anything, Nyoda, telegraph and we'll send it"

The conductor dropped his right hand in signal to the engineer, and
swung aboard, the wheels began to turn, the Captain leaped down from the
other end of the car.

"Good-bye, Nyoda!"

A waving of handkerchiefs on the platform, an answering wave from the
car window, and Nyoda was gone. No. 46 had puffed in on time, made its
usual five-minute stop, and puffed out on time. But what a difference
its coming and departure had made to the Winnebagos! It was all over in
such quick time that they hardly had time to draw breath.

They stood on the platform and watched the train out of sight and then
turned and climbed up the steps to the street, silent for the most part,
with only an occasional exclamation of "What _will_ Nyoda do if Sherry
dies?"

Then another swift drive through the silent streets, scarcely any
lighter than they had been before, and they were back at Carver House,
which suddenly seemed empty and dreary with Nyoda gone.

They sat down to the table and ate up the rest of the toast and drank
the rest of the coffee; then the boys started back to their tent in the
woods, and the Winnebagos, beginning to feel weak and shaky now that the
excitement of getting Nyoda ready had passed, went slowly and sadly up
the stairs and crept into bed.

Thoroughly worn out with the strenuous evening and the still more
strenuous night that followed it, they finally fell asleep, while the
sun rose unwelcomed over Carver Hill and the stair clock chimed half
past six in vain.

CHAPTER XV

IT NEVER RAINS--

Sahwah wakened with the sound of a bell ringing in her ears. The house
was still asleep; the sun was pouring in brightly through the south
window of the room. Sahwah wondered idly why the sun was shining in at
that window; it always shone in the other window when she wakened in the
morning. Then she remembered. It all seemed like a dream; the telegram,
the hurried preparations for departure, the swift journey to the station
with Nyoda and the return to Carver House without her. Sahwah was still
piecing together the events of the night before when the shrill ring
sounded through the house again. It was the front doorbell. Sahwah
jumped up and threw on her bathrobe and, yawning widely, ran downstairs.

It was Agony; Agony with a face as pale as a ghost. "What's the matter?"
asked Sahwah in consternation, forgetting her own great news at the
sight of Agony's expression.

"It's Veronica," Agony burst out breathlessly.

"What's the matter with Veronica?" asked Sahwah in alarm.

"She's been arrested!"

Sahwah's heart thumped queerly and then seemed to stand still at this
climax of her forebodings. "What for?" she asked faintly.

Agony came in and sat down on the hall seat "There's so much to tell, I
think I'll begin at the beginning," she said, and Sahwah stood still
with her eyes fastened on Agony's face apprehensively.

"You remember when you were all over at our house for dinner one night,
and papa was home, he told us something about the big case he was
working on, the Atterbury case, and he said he suspected that German
agents were mixed up in it? Well, yesterday he got hold of some letters
that proved it. There was one from a German Prince, Prince Karl Augustus
of Hohenburg, to some man in this country, written before the war,
promising to pay money to have strikes started and machinery damaged if
this country went into the war. This very Atterbury was mentioned in the
letter, and it made papa's case complete against him. The letter had
gotten into the wrong hands and somebody turned it over to papa. It was
so important that papa had to take it to Washington. That's why he came
home unexpectedly last night; he planned to go this morning. He brought
the letter home with him and locked it in his desk upstairs. This
morning a Secret Service agent came out from Philadelphia to go along
with papa and papa went to get the letter and it was gone."

"But what has Veronica----"

Agony drew another long breath and hastened on. "Why, papa says that
Veronica asked to use the telephone in the study last night, and she was
in there a long time alone, and soon afterward she disappeared from the
party. The letter was in his desk when she went in there; nobody else
went in after her. It looks as though she took it, and the Secret
Service man arrested her."

"But I thought Veronica was upstairs in bed!" gasped Sahwah.

"She came over to our house about nine o'clock this morning," said
Agony, "and told us about Nyoda's husband being injured and her going
away in such a hurry. She was downstairs with me when papa discovered
that the letter was gone, and the agent arrested her right away."

Sahwah's head was in a whirl, and she sat down weakly on the stairs.
Then she raised her head and said with a flash of spirit, "Veronica
never took any letter out of your father's desk! I don't believe it!
Whatever would she want with such a thing as that?"

"But," continued Agony, "don't you see? This Prince Karl Augustus of
Hohenburg is a friend of hers, she played for him and his wife gave her
a ring! She's taken that letter away so it can't be used in the trial
to prove that he was connected with the business!"

"I don't believe it!" said Sahwah flatly. Her blood rose to fighting
pitch even while her heart misgave her. "Agony Wing," she raged, "do you
think for a moment that Veronica would have anything to do with enemy
agents? What if she did know that old prince. She didn't like him. Do
you think she'd steal letters for him?"

"It does seem awfully odd," said Agony, "the fuss she always made about
wanting to be an American. Papa could hardly believe it of her, either,
but the Secret Service man and Mr. Prince are perfectly sure she did
it."

"Mr. Prince!" exclaimed Sahwah in wrath. "What's _he_ got to do with
it?"

"Well, it seems that all along he's been suspicious of her; he didn't
think she was sincere when she talked about liking America better than
her own country," replied Agony. "He says he isn't surprised at all that
this happened; he's been expecting something of the kind. It was he that
told papa and the Secret Service man about her having known the prince."

"How did _he_ find it out?" demanded Sahwah.

"I don't know, I never told him," declared Agony, bristling as though
she thought Sahwah suspected she had told.

"I hate that artist!" Sahwah declared fiercely. "He's a meddlesome old
thing!"

"Well, you can't really blame him for suspecting Veronica," said Agony,
lightly, "You see, she's an alien enemy, and----"

"Agony!" cried Sahwah savagely, "do _you_ believe Veronica's a traitor?"

"I hate to think----" began Agony.

Sahwah came close to her and faced her with blazing eyes. "Do you
believe she is?"

"It's hard to believe----"

"_Do you believe she's a traitor_?"

Agony shrank back from her fury. "No, I don't," she said meekly. "Don't
be so savage, Sahwah."

Sahwah subsided.

"Where is Veronica?" she asked.

"She's still over at our house. The Secret Service man sent me over here
to bring all you girls over, he wants to talk to you."

Sahwah roused the girls from bed with her sensational piece of news and
they all hastened home with Agony. Mr. Wing took them upstairs to his
study and they went in, feeling queer and frightened. Veronica was
sitting there, her face as white as a sheet, her great eyes dilated with
fear and bewilderment. The artist lounged in the window seat, watching
Veronica closely and smiling slightly to himself, and facing Veronica
sat a small, keen-looking man with little, steely gray eyes that bored
like gimlets.

"These are the girls with whom Miss Lehar is staying," said Mr. Wing. He
introduced the little man as Special Agent Sanders.

Sahwah searched Mr. Wing's face pleadingly; he looked greatly puzzled,
and very, very much disturbed. Then she looked at the gimlet-eyed man in
the chair and saw his eyes rove from one to another of the girls
questioningly. He began to speak without preliminary.

"When you girls reached home after this party last night was Miss Lehar
there?"

"Yes," answered Migwan and Hinpoha and Gladys together. Sahwah was
silent.

Immediately Agent Sanders' eye was upon her. "Was she?" he asked
directly of Sahwah.

Sahwah opened her lips and closed them nervously, unable to frame an
untruth, and equally unable to tell what she knew. She looked helplessly
at Veronica. The room became very still. The others looked at her in
astonishment. Agent Sanders bored her with his little, keen eyes. Sahwah
felt herself turning red and white and her heartbeats thumped against
her eardrums. She sent Veronica another miserable look. Veronica
returned the look steadily, and then she spoke.

"Tell him you saw me coming in the back door after you got home," she
said calmly.

"Is that true?" Agent Sanders asked of Sahwah.

Sahwah nodded. A gasp of astonishment went up from the other three
Winnebagos.

"Tell all the circumstances connected with the incident," Agent Sanders
directed Sahwah.

"There weren't any circumstances connected with it," replied Sahwah
earnestly. "We had just come home and our friend had had bad news and
was going away early in the morning and we were getting her ready and I
went out in the back entry way to get something and just then Veronica
came in the back door."

"You thought she had gone home with a sick headache and was in bed?"

"Yes," replied Sahwah, "but when she came in I decided she had been out
for a walk." This sounded like a perfectly natural explanation to
Sahwah.

"Didn't it strike you strange that she should have gone walking at that
hour?"

"No, it didn't," replied Sahwah eagerly. "She often does it."

"Ah-h!" Agent Sanders merely breathed the syllable, yet it held a world
of meaning. Sahwah felt vaguely apprehensive.

"So she often goes out walking at midnight, does she?" continued the
agent. Sahwah felt that she had made a misstep somewhere, and was
harming Veronica's cause instead of helping it, but the eyes of the
agent seemed to be drawing all her knowledge from her like a magnet
picking up needles.

"I meant," said Sahwah, "that she often has those sick headaches, and
when she does she generally goes out walking to cure them."

"And these headaches generally occur at night?"

"Yes."

"In other words," said Agent Sanders as confidently as if he could see
right inside of her head and knew everything in it, "this is not the
first time Miss Lehar has gone on a mysterious errand at night--eh?"

Sahwah started, and then was furious at herself because she knew the
agent had noticed it.

He bored his eyes right through her, and remarked sarcastically, "You
knew this girl to be an alien, an enemy of your country; you knew she
was going off on mysterious errands, and yet you didn't think there was
anything strange about it!"

Then to Sahwah's relief Agent Sanders fell to making rapid notes in a
memorandum book, and ceased addressing her. He turned abruptly to
Veronica.

"Where did you go when you left this house last night?" he asked
pointblank.

"Down the street to Carver House, through the yard, down the hill behind
it, along the road to the edge of town and back," replied Veronica
readily.

The agent looked thoughtful for a moment. The straightforwardness of
her reply seemed to perplex him a little.

Then he asked, "Whom did you meet down there at the edge of town?"

Veronica did not answer.

"Whom did you meet?" he repeated triumphantly.

Veronica opened her lips as if to speak and then closed them again and
remained silent. The room was so still that the heavy ticking of the
clock sounded like hammer blows on an anvil. All eyes were on Veronica;
the Winnebagos stared, open-mouthed; Sahwah's blood ran cold in her
veins; Agent Sanders leaned forward, the whole force of his personality
concentrated in his compelling eyes.

"I didn't meet anybody," said Veronica, returning his gaze steadfastly.

"Where did you go, then?"

Veronica was silent.

"Answer me."

"I can't tell you."

"Why not?"

"Because I can't." There was a ring of finality in Veronica's tone.

Agent Sanders scribbled something more in his little notebook. Then he
renewed his questioning. "You took that letter to somebody, didn't you?"

"I did not," replied Veronica emphatically. "I told you before, and I
repeat it, I know nothing about any letter. I never saw it, and I never
heard of it until you accused me of taking it."

The agent smiled knowingly. "To whom did you telephone from this study
last night?"

"To a friend of mine."

"Who?"

Veronica refused to answer that question, calmly defying the agent to
make her tell. Again there was a sensation in the room. The Winnebagos
were ready to drop with astonishment at the strange behavior of
Veronica. Sahwah looked around at the various faces. Mr. Wing still wore
his puzzled, pained expression; the artist seemed to be getting bored;
he looked out of the window and his left hand was playing with his ear,
pulling down the lobe and releasing it with a jerk, a gesture he was
continually making when his hands were idle. It irritated Sahwah now and
made her nervous; she was filled with a desire to tie his hand down so
he couldn't reach his ear.

"That will do," said Agent Sanders to the Winnebagos, indicating by a
gesture that they were to go out of the room. Sahwah lingered. She stood
up beside Veronica and put her arm around her. "She didn't do it! She
didn't do it!" she said fiercely, facing the three men fearlessly.
"She's as loyal to this country as you are!"

"Possibly," said Agent Sanders drily. "Well, little lady, your faith in
your friend is very beautiful to see, but until we find out that
someone else took that letter we can't take much stock in it."

"I'll prove to you that she's all right," Sahwah proclaimed rashly, and
then reluctantly went out of the room. Her faith in Veronica's innocence
was unshaken. Veronica herself had said that she did not know anything
about the letter, that was enough for Sahwah. Her friend had spoken, and
she never dreamed of doubting her word.

As she went out she saw Mr. Wing rub his hand thoughtfully over his
forehead and heard him say, "But hang it, Sanders, you didn't hear her
play last night. She had us all roused to such a pitch of patriotism
that we were ready to go to the front on the next ship." The agent said
nothing, only went on making notes in his little book. The artist sprang
to open the door for Sahwah, but she took the knob out from under his
very hand and passed him with hostile eyes.

Soon afterward Agent Sanders and Mr. Wing went to Philadelphia and took
Veronica away with them. Before they went the Winnebagos all flung
themselves upon Mr. Wing and implored him not to let the agent take her
away. "_You_ know she is all right," pleaded Sahwah. "_You_ tell him not
to arrest her."

Mr. Wing threw out his hands in a helpless gesture. "You don't
understand, my dear," he said patiently. "I can't tell Special Agent
Sanders 'not to' do anything. I don't happen to have the authority."

"Oh-h," said the Winnebagos.

"You see," he went on gently, "Agent Sanders is only doing his duty in
arresting her. It's his business to run down the enemies of our country
and he is working for the good of all of us. The case against her is
pretty strong, you'll have to admit. She's an alien enemy, a friend of
this Prince Karl Augustus; is wearing a ring which his wife gave her.
Then here comes this letter from him which will expose him as the head
of a great plot. Veronica is in the house with that letter; she is known
to have been alone in the room where it was; soon after that she leaves
the house and says she is going home with a sick headache. When you get
home you find her trying to steal unobserved into the back entry. She
herself admits that she had an appointment with someone during that
time. The next morning the letter is found to have disappeared.
Naturally all suspicion points to her, and how could Sanders do anything
else but put her under arrest? This is a serious matter, much more
serious than you can guess, if that letter goes back into the hands of
the prince's agents."

"But do you really think she took the letter?" asked Sahwah
despairingly.

Mr. Wing shrugged his shoulders and repeated his gesture of
helplessness. "It's hard to know what to expect from such a
temptestuous nature as that," he said seriously. "A nature which can
work up such a passionate loyalty for an adopted country--what must its
feelings have been toward its own native land? Suppose when the chance
unexpectedly came to aid the cause for which her country is fighting and
for which her father died, the old ties were stronger than the new, and
she could not resist the temptation? A nature like hers is capable of
going to any extreme. Naturally I hate to suspect her of any connection
with enemy agents, but as a servant of the government it is my duty to
act upon anything that is in the least suspicious. Sanders is absolutely
convinced that she's a dangerous spy in the employ of the enemy, for she
answers the description of a young girl he has been trying to find for a
long time, a girl who belongs to the Hungarian nobility who has helped
German agents in this country.

"Sanders is dead sure she took that letter and passed it back to the
prince's agents, and you really can't blame him for thinking so. For,
hang it all, if _she_ didn't, who under the shining sun did?"

Only Sahwah, with her faith in her friend unshaken, though circumstances
pointed accusing fingers from every direction, declared stoutly, "She
didn't, I know she didn't. Some day you'll find out I'm right!"

CHAPTER XVI

CLOUDY DAYS

The days dragged themselves along and a week loitered past which seemed
an age to the Winnebagos. No word had come from Nyoda since a telegram
she had sent upon her arrival, saying that Sherry was very low and not
expected to live. They had written her about Veronica's plight, but
there was no answer to that.

Neither did they hear anything about Veronica. Mr. Wing had been in
Philadelphia ever since the day of Veronica's arrest, but they had not
heard from him since.

The Winnebagos wore themselves out talking about Veronica. The subject
of her mysterious excursions from the house was always in the air, and
it formed a hurdle over which no one could jump. Where had she gone on
those excursions? Why didn't she confide in them and satisfy their minds
on this point?

It usually happens in such instances, where our friends fail to take us
into their confidence on matters which we think we have a right to
know, that our pride is hurt at the neglect and pretty soon we begin to
have suspicions in regard to the mysterious action. So it was with the
Winnebagos. At first they only felt hurt that Veronica should have
secrets away from them, but soon they began to say to themselves that
there must have been something suspicious somewhere, if she could not
confide in them, her best friends.

It was Agony who voiced this sentiment the oftenest, and kept the
mystery constantly stirred up. She never let them forget it for a
moment. She seemed inclined to argue as her father had done, that
Veronica's ties of blood and birth had been too strong for her and in an
unguarded moment she had yielded to the impulse to assist the cause of
her native land. The constant repetition of this belief began to
influence the others. Much as they were loath to believe that Veronica
would assist the enemies of their country, they were always conscious of
the fact that they had never really known Veronica; that they could not
understand her strange, passionate nature; that never in their
acquaintance with her had they ever been able to guess what she would do
next. There had always been a gulf between themselves and her which they
had never been able to cross entirely, much as they had come to love
her; there was always a line drawn around her over which they had never
been able to pass. They loved her dearly; they admired her wildly; but
they no more understood the soul that was locked up in her
uncommunicative nature than they understood the riddle of the Sphinx.
They all realized this, and were filled with sorrowful forebodings. The
fact that she had known Prince Karl Augustus loomed larger and larger in
their minds as the days wore on, and it seemed not at all improbable
that she had seized the opportunity to aid him in his activities,
without ever stopping to think of the consequences of her act. They were
broken-hearted over it, but gradually came to believe the possibility of
the charge against her.

Only Sahwah stood out stanchly for her right along, refusing to doubt
her for a moment.

"I don't care if she _is_ an alien enemy!" she declared vehemently.
"She's my Veronica, and I know she never had anything to do with it, so
there!"

She wouldn't listen to Agony and her wise-sounding talk, withdrew to
herself a great part of the time, and for lack of other supporters spoke
out her mind to the portrait of Elizabeth Carver, hanging serenely over
the harp in the long parlor.

"You would have stood up for your friend, no matter what the others
said, wouldn't you?" she demanded beseechingly, and it seemed to her
that Elizabeth nodded her head in confirmation.

Then one day came news which filled them all with consternation.
Veronica was to be interned! Mr. Wing came home and told them about it
briefly. The weight of suspicion had been so strong against Veronica
that nothing could stand against it; her internment had been ordered by
the agents of the government. They were now awaiting the arrival of the
internment papers from Washington; when these came she would be taken
away.

Mr. Wing wearily waved aside the hosts of questions poured out by the
dismayed Winnebagos. He had suffered great chagrin over the loss of the
letter which was to have played such an important part in the coming
trial; sober afterthoughts had convinced him of the possibility of
Veronica's connection with enemy agents; he had come to believe it
implicitly now. Of course, she had taken in these simple girls with her
spectacular protestations of loyalty to this country; that was part of
the game. His anxiety was all for his girls, for fear they had already
compromised themselves in some way.

The Winnebagos saw him in a new mood to-day, stern, inflexible,
obdurate. He curtly advised them to speedily forget their friend and to
say nothing to outsiders about the occurrence. He refused to tell them
where she was at present, and would not hear of their having any
intercourse with her.

"The first thing you know you'll be suspected of connivance yourselves,"
he warned. "And I also advise you not to express too much sympathy for
your friend," he continued. "It's a sure way to make yourselves
unpopular these days."

Stricken, Sahwah sped home, and fleeing from the others, went into the
woods by herself. That was always her place of refuge in trouble. When
others would have sought human comfort and advice, Sahwah fled straight
to the woods. There she could think clearly and gather together her
stunned faculties.

She wandered on blindly until she came to the brook, the little laughing
stream she loved so well, and sat there for hours trying to think of
some plan by which she could save Veronica. For the conviction was
strong within her that Veronica was innocent and it would not budge for
all the suspicions in the world. She thought of one wild extravagant
scheme after the other, and abandoned them all, and at last, utterly
crushed and low-spirited, she took her way back to Carver House.

CHAPTER XVII

THE DRILL CONTEST

While the Winnebagos were gasping under the cold shower of upsetting
events, time marched steadily onward toward the day set for the military
drill contest between Oakwood and Hillsdale. In these last days the
Winnebagos realized what it meant to have the honor of a town on their
shoulders. Although they had little heart for drilling they must turn
out every day with their company of Oakwood girls just as if nothing had
happened, must be the life and brains of the company and never appear to
let their enthusiasm flag. Everyone in town depended upon them to win
the contest for Oakwood; everywhere they went they were greeted with
pleasant smiles and complimentary remarks; they were touched and
flattered by the confidence that was reposed in them--they simply _had_
to win that contest for Oakwood. No one else knew anything about
Veronica; that was kept a state secret. The Winnebagos simply told Miss
Raper that she had been called out of town and would not be in the
contest, and Miss Raper chose another girl to put in her place.

Migwan and Gladys and Hinpoha were sitting together getting the suits
ready which they were to wear in the drill--white skirts and middies,
white shoes and stockings, red, white and blue arm band--when Sahwah
came in waving an envelope over her head. "Letter from Nyoda!" she
called. The three dropped their sewing and fell upon her in a body.

"Open it quick!"

"Here, take the scissors."

"Oh, read it out loud, Migwan, I can't wait until it's passed around."

Migwan promptly complied while the rest listened eagerly as she read:

Good Samaritan Hospital, St. Margaret's, N.S.

DEAR GIRLS:

_Oh_, I'm so thankful I can hardly write; my pen wants to dance jigs
instead of staying on the lines, but I must let you know at once because
I know how anxious you have been. Sherry is out of danger, he rounded
the corner today, and there isn't much doubt about his recovery.

But if you had ever seen the day I arrived--! I got to St. Margaret's in
the afternoon, tumbled into the first cab that stood outside the
station; begged the driver to lose no time getting to the hospital, and
went rattledly banging over the rough streets as though we were fleeing
from the German army. The hospital was filled to overflowing with the
survivors of the wreck, all of whom had been brought into the port of
St. Margaret's. Beds were everywhere--in the offices, in the corridors,
in the entries. It took me some time to locate Sherry because there
was so much confusion, but I found him at last in one of the wards.

As I came up I heard a doctor who had been attending him say to the
nurse beside him, "It's all up with him, poor chap."

Then he turned around and saw me standing there, and I said quietly, "I
am his wife."

He and the nurse exchanged glances, and he looked distressed. He seemed
to expect me to go off into a fit or a faint, and looked surprised
because I stayed so calm. I was surprised myself. I seemed to be in a
dream and moved and acted quite automatically.

Sherry did not know me; he had been struck on the head while swimming
for a lifeboat, and had been insensible for hours. The doctors said his
skull was fractured. They had done everything they could; there was
nothing to do now but wait until the end came.

I had had nothing to eat all day, because I had been too nervous to eat
on the train. But I stayed by his bedside all that night watching. He
was still living in the morning and I left him at times to help look
after other patients, because the nurses simply couldn't get around fast
enough.

One of the men I waited on was a friend of Sherry's, a Y.M.C.A. man. He
said that Sherry was being sent back to America to give a series of
lectures. Just think! to have come safely through those awful months in
the trenches, and then to perish when so near home!

For three days he lay in a stupor and all that time I never slept a wink
because they said the end would come any minute without warning. But
instead of that he opened his eyes without warning this morning,
recognized me, and said, "Hello, Elizabeth," as casually as if we hadn't
been separated for a year.

He's been awake now for five hours and the doctor says he's out of
danger. I sort of let go then when the tension was over, but I've slept
a bit since and have got a grip on myself again. I'm so happy that I
feel like dancing a jig up and down the wards, and it is only with great
difficulty that I can restrain myself.

I must stop now, because Sherry is clamoring for refreshments.

Your blissful, too-thankful-to-live

NYODA.

P.S. The soap is in the closet under the kitchen stairs. I forgot to
tell you before I went away.

A chorus of glad cries greeted the reading of the letter. "Sherry's
going to get well! Isn't it wonderful?"

Hinpoha and Migwan flung their arms around each other in an exuberance
of feeling just at the same moment that Sahwah and Gladys did the same
thing, and they all laughed and hugged each other for joy.

"Dear Nyoda! Think of her, going without sleep for three nights and
keeping up through it all!"

"And helping to take care of the other injured ones! Isn't that Nyoda
all over, though--_Give Service_, no matter how badly she might feel
herself!"

"But, she never said a word about Veronica," said Sahwah in a puzzled
tone, when the first excitement had subsided. "I can't understand it."

"She probably forgot it, she was so thankful about Sherry," said Gladys.

"Not she," replied Sahwah positively. "She couldn't have gotten our
letter. I'm going to write again."

* * * * *

The day of the great contest had arrived. It was the 15th of August,
the day on which Oakwood celebrated the one hundred and seventieth
anniversary of its founding. An elaborate celebration had been prepared,
with parades and pageants in the daytime, and fireworks and a sham
battle at night. The military drill contest had been a part of this
celebration, that Oakwood's victory over Hillsdale might have a more
spectacular setting. Oakwood was making much more of an occasion out of
that contest than the Winnebagos had expected and their sporting blood
began to tingle. The thought of winning before all that crowd thrilled
them through and through.

Agony was in a high feather. Hers was a nature which expanded in the
limelight; crowded audiences inspired her to outdo herself instead of
"fussing" her as they did Oh-Pshaw. She could hardly wait for their hour
to strike.

The contest was at five in the afternoon, after the parade and before
the evening's program of fireworks. At four o'clock the Hillsdale
delegation drove into town in hayracks decorated with flags and bunting,
the troop of Girl Scouts who were going to drill in the first rack, and
after them several racks full of Hillsdale girls and boys, coming to
watch the contest.

"There they come!" whispered the Oakwood girls to each other, and the
thrill of the coming struggle began to go through them at the sight of
their adversaries.

"Oh, I'm afraid I'm going to make a mistake!" said Oh-Pshaw, turning
quite cold. "I'll never get through that field formation wheel, I know."

"You will _not_ make a mistake," said Agony emphatically. "Don't think
about the audience, just think about that trip to Washington we're going
to get, and keep cool. I don't see what you're so excited for anyway.
I'm not a bit scared." Then she added, "How are you ever going to be a
Torch Bearer if you can't keep cool?" It was a home thrust, and Agony
knew it. Oh-Pshaw wanted to be a Torch Bearer more than anything else
and she considered this occasion a test of her fitness. She must not get
rattled!

The contest took place on Commons Field. A tent had been set up on
either end of the field for the use of the people in the pageant, and
the two drill companies used these tents as points of entry upon the
drill grounds, forming their squads inside. The judges, who were three
military men belonging neither to Oakwood nor Hillsdale, sat half way up
the hill overlooking the center of the grounds. The Hillsdales, being
the visitors, were given the privilege of drilling first.

The Oakwood girls looked on critically as their rivals marched out on
the field and began their maneuvers. The Hillsdale supporters began to
cheer and kept it up incessantly. The spirits of the Oakwood girls rose
as they watched. The Hillsdale Scouts did their steps perfectly, they
had to admit, but they lacked "pep." The Winnebagos knew they could put
a dash into their performance that would beat this mere mechanical
perfection all hollow. Their nervousness left them; the music of the
band, the presence of the crowd, the sight of themselves in their natty
white uniforms had gone to their heads like wine. They were inspired;
they could hardly wait to get out on the drill grounds; they knew they
would march as they had never marched before.

The Hillsdale Scouts finished their maneuvers and marched off amid a
wild outbreak of applause from their friends, and Oakwood, tingling with
eagerness, sprang to attention at Miss Raper's command. The bugle blew
its signal for their entrance, the band crashed into a march and the
squads began to move forward. A roar of applause went up from the crowds
on the hillside; Oakwood citizens hailed their champions with all their
powers of heart and voice.

"CAMP FIRE GIRLS!" yelled several thousand enthusiastic throats. The
Winnebagos thrilled as they had never thrilled before. Here was the
whole town honoring them, _them_, depending upon them to lead the
Oakwood girls to victory over the ancient rival, Hillsdale. Agony was
nearly suffocating with pride; applause was the breath of life to her.

The company came to a halt opposite the judges, one squad behind the
other.

"Squads Left--Hunch!" Miss Raper's sharp command pierced them like a
bullet. With the ease of long practice the squads moved in obedience to
the command. The maneuvers had commenced. Command after command rang
out, which they obeyed with conscious snap and finish, pivoting,
wheeling, rear marching, left and right flanking in perfect step and
rhythm. Applause was continuous, Oakwood citizens had recognized the
"pep" in their performance and knew what the decision of the judges
would be.

The first half of the maneuvers was over; there remained now only the
prize figure of the drill, the difficult field formation, in which the
squads wheeled into the form of a cross and then revolved by fours
around a common center, like the spokes of a wheel going around. It was
a complicated figure and required rapid thinking as to whether to turn
to right or left in certain places.

The first half of the figure was executed without a flaw; the squads
stood ready to form the cross. "_Ready--Wheel_!"

Alas for Oh-Pshaw! When the critical moment arrived and she got to
thinking how dreadful it would be if she _should_ make a mistake, she
went all to pieces, lost her head and marched forward instead of
backward, crashing violently into Agony, who was marching with the four
ahead. Not prepared for the collision, Agony lost her footing and went
down in a heap on the ground, covering her white suit with dust from
head to foot. A simultaneous gasp of dismay went up from the audience
and the company, while the Hillsdale-ites laughed triumphantly. One of
the Hillsdale boys, a youth of eighteen, who considered himself
superlatively funny, called out, "Oakwood Squad, _Awkw'd_ Squad!"

Agony scrambled to her feet, white with anger, and Oh-Pshaw stood still
where the collision had occurred, too horrorstruck to move. A low
command from Miss Raper and the squads righted themselves into line and
proceeded with the maneuver. There was no vim left, however. Oakwood had
lost. They heroically struggled through the remainder of the figure, but
Oh-Pshaw, completely demoralized, made one misturn after the other. The
bugler "sounded off" and the contest was over.

The Winnebagos and their company would have fled away and hidden
themselves, but no, they must march back onto the field with the
Hillsdale company to hear the decision of the judges. It was a fearful
ordeal, that standing up before the disappointed citizens of Oakwood to
hear their triumphantly smiling rivals pronounced the victors, one that
taxed the courage and composure of the girls to the utmost. With a
desperate effort to appear blandly indifferent to the decision they
stood frozen stiff at attention, carefully avoiding every eye in the
audience. The spokesman of the judges stood up and prolonged the torture
five long minutes, by complimenting first one company and then the other
upon different points of their performance. It seemed he would never
come to the point and pronounce Hillsdale the winner. All that time
Agony stood there, acutely conscious of the dust on her dress, boiling
with fury at Oh-Pshaw because she had caused her to make a spectacle of
herself. The taunt, "Oakwood Squad, _Awkw'd_ Squad," still rankled in
her breast.

The spokesman came to the point at last, and with much flowery language
announced that "all things considered, Hillsdale had displayed a greater
degree of excellency," etc. A splitting cheer went up from the Hillsdale
visitors; the Oakwood citizens were glum and silent. With a last
desperate effort to maintain an outwardly Stoic attitude the Winnebagos
marched with their company from the field. It was all over. Oakwood had
trusted in them, and they had not fulfilled the trust.

Once inside the shelter of their tent the company gave way to tears in
some spots and to wrath in others. Agony turned furiously upon Oh-Pshaw
and vented her rage and disappointment in angry up-braidings; Hinpoha
wept unconsolably; Gladys looked a world of reproach whenever she turned
to Oh-Pshaw, and even gentle Migwan exclaimed in a voice that was sharp
with disappointment, "Oh, Oh-Pshaw, how _could_ you?"

Poor Oh-Pshaw! She felt as though she could never hold up her head
again. She could never be a Torch Bearer now; she had disgraced the
Winnebagos, they would never have anything more to do with her. Agony,
her beloved twin, had turned against her; there was nothing left in the
world for her now. With quivering lips and smarting eyes she slipped out
of the tent and lost herself in the crowd outside. The rest did not
notice her going; they were too busy lamenting. By and by Sahwah looked
around and missed her.

"Where's Oh-Pshaw?" she asked.

"I don't know," replied Hinpoha, noticing for the first time that she
was no longer in the tent. "She was here a minute ago."

"She'd _better_ run and hide," sputtered Agony, still vindictive in her
wounded pride.

Sahwah stared at Agony thoughtfully and her sympathy went out to
Oh-Pshaw, having to bear the whole brunt of their disaster, her whole
day spoiled for her. Other features of the celebration were going on in
Oakwood; the pageant of the Early Founders was beginning. "Come on out
and see what's going on," said Sahwah, who hated to miss anything, even
for the melancholy pleasure of crying over spilt milk.

So they drifted back into the celebration and their interest in the
proceedings soon began to dull the sharpness of their disappointment.
Oh-Pshaw was nowhere to be seen, however, and by-and-by Sahwah slipped
away from the others and went in search of her. She guessed that
Oh-Pshaw might have gone home, to get away from the girls, and went to
the house, but it was closed and locked, and there was no sign of
Oh-Pshaw in the garden anywhere. Then Sahwah remembered that Oh-Pshaw
had a favorite nook out in the woods where she went when she wanted to
be alone, a wide-spreading, low-boughed chestnut tree in a dense, shady
grove, away from the singing brook with its terrifying gurgle; into the
branches she climbed and sat as in a great wide armchair, secure from
interruption. She had taken Sahwah with her once. Of course that was
where she would go.

Sahwah hesitated a moment. Over on Main Street the fun was going at full
blast; it was just about time for the balloon to go up. If she went out
to look for Oh-Pshaw she would miss it. After all, Oh-Pshaw might not
have gone to the woods; she might be in the crowd somewhere, watching
the performance where the girls couldn't see her. But Sahwah knew
Oh-Pshaw, and knew that she considered herself disgraced and that she
would have no heart to look at the rest of the performance. She had a
vision of Oh-Pshaw sitting disconsolate out in the woods, hiding away
from the festivities, and that vision refused to go away.

"I'll go and _see_, anyway," Sahwah decided resolutely, "and if she _is_
there I'll make her come back with me, and if she _isn't,_ there's no
harm done by going. I've seen balloons before, and I'll see them again."

Turning her back on the festive town she took the path to the woods, and
hurried along with light, swift footsteps, humming as she went. Just
inside the woods she pounced on something in the path with a little
exclamation of triumph. It was a red, white and blue arm band,
undoubtedly Oh-Pshaw's. She _had_ come to the woods after all. Sahwah
sped on to the big chestnut tree, finding it without difficulty,
although she had only been there once. Sure enough, there was Oh-Pshaw,
all curled up in the embrace of the wide branches, her face in her arms,
the picture of abandoned woe. Sahwah swung up beside her and called her
gently by name. Oh-Pshaw raised her head with a start and looked
surprised when she saw who it was.

"Hello," she responded forlornly to Sahwah's greeting.

"Don't take it so to heart," said Sahwah cheerfully. "It wasn't as bad
as you think."

"The girls will never speak to me again," said Oh-Pshaw dismally, "and
you can't blame them, either."

"Oh, come, they will, too," said Sahwah. "They're all over it already
and out enjoying the rest of the show. Come on back. You wouldn't want
to miss the sham battle for anything."

Oh-Pshaw's woebegone look began to fade from her face and her heart was
warmed clear to the bottom at the thought of Sahwah's leaving the
celebration and coming all the way out here to find her. The world took
on a cheerful hue again; she sat up and dried her eyes and began to
smooth out her crumpled uniform. Sahwah jumped lightly from the tree and
Oh-Pshaw followed her, but Oh-Pshaw's foot had gone to sleep from
sitting on it so long and she jumped stiffly and came down on a jagged
stump, skinning her shin from ankle to knee and giving the knee itself a
bad bump.

"_Anything_ broken?" asked Sahwah, bending solicitously over the injured
member and inspecting the damage.

"I guess not," replied Oh-Pshaw, wincing with the pain, "though it hurts
like fury. I guess it's just skinned."

Sahwah bound up the two places that were bleeding the most with her
handkerchief and Oh-Pshaw's and was gently replacing the stocking when
her ears caught a sound--a noise like the humming of a giant bee.
"What's that noise?" asked Oh-Pshaw.

"It's an aeroplane," said Sahwah. "It must be _the_ aeroplane that's
coming over from Philadelphia to take part in the sham battle. The one
has been in Oakwood all day, but the other hadn't arrived yet when I
started out to look for you. It's coming in this direction, over the
woods. Come on, let's run to the open space by the Devil's Punch Bowl
and see if he flies over there." Sahwah seized Oh-Pshaw by the hand and
started away on a run, and Oh-Pshaw followed as best she could for the
pain in her knee. The humming noise grew louder and louder as they ran,
and then suddenly it stopped altogether.

"Where is he, is he gone?" asked Oh-Pshaw in disappointment.

"I can't imagine," replied Sahwah, looking up in bewilderment when they
came out beside the Punch Bowl. "No, there he is," she cried, as the
machine suddenly shot into sight directly above them. "Oh-Pshaw!" she
screamed, "it's coming down!"

Rooted to the spot, they watched it, as nose downward the machine came
rushing toward them, struck against the rock cliffs high above them and
dropped with a terrific splash into the Devil's Punch Bowl.

CHAPTER XVIII

OUT OF A CLEAR SKY

It happened so quickly that the two girls had no time to jump back out
of the way; they were caught in the deluge of water that shot out from
the Punch Bowl on every side. When they got their eyes open again the
luckless flying machine lay before them in the water, a mass of
wreckage. Oh-Pshaw gave a little muffled shriek and sat down on a log,
hiding her face in her hands. Sahwah shook her roughly by the shoulder.

"_Oh-Pshaw!_ The man's under the machine, in the water!"

Oh-Pshaw shuddered and did not look up.

"_Oh-Pshaw! Oh-Pshaw!_ He'll drown!"

Oh-Pshaw looked up, still shuddering, and gazed in fascinated horror at
the thing in front of her. "Isn't he--dead?" she asked in a hoarse
whisper.

"No, he isn't, he's _struggling_. Don't you see the water moving? I'm
going out and help him," Sahwah exclaimed with sudden resolution.

She waded swiftly out into the water until it became too deep for her
to stand and then swam out to the wrecked machine, in the clutches of
which the unfortunate flyer was held fast. As she reached it, the man's
head came up above the surface for a moment and then immediately
disappeared again. Sahwah held on to the machine with one hand and with
the other reached down and brought his head up out of the water again.
His eyes were closed and he was quite limp. He had fainted. Try as she
might she could not free him from the wreck of the machine entirely; he
was securely pinioned. All she could do was hold his head out of the
water.

"Run! Get help!" she called out sharply to Oh-Pshaw. "I can't get him
out." Oh-Pshaw sprang up and hobbled off as fast as she could go.

Sahwah pulled herself up on top of the machine, which was partly above
the surface of the water, and sat there in a tolerably secure position
holding the unconscious man up. A red stream flowing from the side of
his head began to spread in the water and lengthen out in the flowing
cataract of the Punch Bowl. It gave Sahwah the shivers, that ever
lengthening red stream; she averted her eyes and held on grimly, trying
to calculate how long it would take Oh-Pshaw to bring help. Then a new
danger arose. The wrecked machine began to tilt and settle and finally
with a sickening lurch went down under Sahwah, dragging her and her
unconscious burden into the depths of the Devil's Punch Bowl. When she
came up and struck out for the bank she found she was still clutching
the collar of the unconscious man, for by some lucky chance the tipping
of the machine had released him. She brought him to shore and worked
over him to expel the water from his lungs and soon was relieved to see
that he was breathing again. She took off the great goggles that covered
half his face and opened the coat that was so tightly buttoned around
his neck, which it seemed must be choking him. There was something
hauntingly familiar about the face; it came over Sahwah that she had
seen it before, where, she could not remember. It was a young face; the
aviator looked little more than a boy.

Although breathing, the man remained unconscious, and Sahwah thought
about Sherry and his injury and wondered if this man's skull were
fractured. She rolled the collar still farther back from his throat to
give him more air. Then she noticed a slender gold chain around his
neck, and pulling at it brought up a gold locket. It was a girl's
locket, heart-shaped, with a monogram engraved on the outside.
Impulsively Sahwah opened it. Then she uttered an exclamation of
surprise and gazed in round-eyed wonder at the picture inside. It was
her own picture! The little snapshot she had given Hinpoha to wear in
_her_ locket! Why, it _was_ Hinpoha's locket! There were her initials,
D.M.B., entwined in Old English letters on the outside. It was the
locket Hinpoha had lost on the train coming to Nyoda's. How came it in
the possession of this strange aviator? It was a puzzle Sahwah could not
solve. She was still lost in wonder over it when she heard footsteps and
looked around to see Oh-Pshaw appear between the trees, limping
painfully and weeping.

"I couldn't make it," sobbed Oh-Pshaw. "My knee--I don't know what's the
matter with it, I can't walk on it, it keeps doubling up under me. I
fell down on it every other step and each time it hurt worse. I only got
a little way and then I knew it would take me hours to get back to town,
so I came back to tell you. H-how did you get the m-man loose and up on
shore?"

Sahwah explained briefly.

"You run and get help, I'll stay here with him," said Oh-Pshaw, looking
fearfully around her at the shadows which were lengthening in the gully.
There were no lingering sunsets in the Devil's Punch Bowl; night fell
swiftly as the dropping of a curtain when the sun got behind the great
cliff on the western side. Little did Sahwah dream what an ordeal
Oh-Pshaw was committing herself to when she bravely turned around and
returned to the Devil's Punch Bowl when she realized that her slow
progress was likely to endanger the life of the injured man. To sit
beside the Devil's Punch Bowl in the dark, and listen to the terrible
gurgling of the water through the basin! The blood curdled in her veins
at the mere thought of it, and yet she choked back her terror with a
stern hand and said no word as Sahwah rose from beside the unconscious
man, called "All right!" over her shoulder and disappeared between the
trees like an arrow shot from a bow.

Inside of five minutes after Sahwah left it was dark as midnight in the
Punch Bowl, dark with an inky blackness that clutched at Oh-Pshaw as
with hands while the hideous gurgling filled her ears and turned her
blood to water. She was going to faint, she knew it; the strength went
out of her limbs; icy drops gathered on her forehead. Then she
remembered. She _dared_ not faint. She must keep her hand pressed
tightly over the wound in the man's head to keep the blood from flowing.
Sahwah had said so. Sahwah said he would bleed to death if she did not.
Sahwah had just started to do it, when she had come back and reported
her failure to bring help. Now she had to do it. She pressed her hands
tightly over the wound as Sahwah had showed her, and tried to close her
ears to the gurgling. But the old terror had her by the throat,
suffocating her, paralyzing her hands. They dropped uselessly at her
sides; she crouched limp and panting and nerveless beside the helpless
man. Then, for the first time in her life Oh-Pshaw began to fight the
fear. She forced her clammy hands back over the wound, she cast
desperately around for something to think about beside the murmuring
horror at her feet. She began to sing, in a scarcely audible voice, and
through chattering teeth:

"L-lay m-me to sl-leep in sh-sheltering flame,
O M-master of the Hidden F-fire!
W-w-ash pure my heart, and c-cleanse f-for me
M-my Soul's D-desire!"

Over and over she sang it, through chattering teeth, keeping in her mind
the picture of a warm, glowing fire and herself sitting beside it, cozy
and comfortable, and finally the picture became so real that she forgot
about the gurgling water and gave herself up to pleasant fire dreams.
Oh-Pshaw herself was master, not of the Hidden Fire, but of the Hidden
Fear! She was still sitting beside her imaginary fire when footsteps
startled her and in another minute the place was ablaze with
searchlights and swarming over with people.

CHAPTER XIX

KAISER BILL MIXES IN

"Isn't it just too wonderful for anything?" said Hinpoha in an awed
tone. Then she burst out triumphantly, "I _told_ her there was a
light-haired man coming into her life--and he did! Did you ever _hear_
of anything so romantic as this, anyway? He said she was a dream of his
come to life! When he first saw her in the train that day he thought she
wasn't _real_! And then finding my locket on the floor that way and
seeing her picture in it and thinking it was _her_ locket, and wearing
it all this time! I never _heard_ of anything so wonderful. It's better
than anything I ever read in a book. Such a nice-sounding name he has,
too--Robert Allison; it's so--unanimous."

"Don't you mean 'euphonious'?" asked Migwan with a smile.

"Well, 'euphonious,' then," amended Hinpoha. Wrapped up as she was in
this marvel of romance that had happened in the placid, everyday lives
of the Winnebagos, she was not bothering about any carping correctness
of words. She sat at the foot of Oh-Pshaw's bed, where Oh-Pshaw lay with
her knee propped up on a pillow, and went over the details of Sahwah's
case for the twentieth time with Agony and Migwan and Gladys, all of
them foregathered in Oh-Pshaw's room to keep her company.

"It was just like a book!" Hinpoha went on impressively. "Sahwah passed
by the door of his room over there last night after the doctors had
gone, and it was open, and nobody was in the room with him because your
grandmother had gone downstairs for something, and she saw that the
curtain was blowing out of the window. She went in to pull it back and
while she was in the room he opened his eyes and said, 'Is it really
you?' He thought he was _dreaming_ and she wasn't real at all. Then he
told her all about his dream girl, and about seeing her in the train
that day, and finding the locket, and everything. He said the locket had
brought him good luck wherever he went, for half a dozen times he had
escaped as by a miracle from being killed in accidents to his plane. And
to think that the last time it was she herself who saved his life!" The
utter romance of the thing struck Hinpoha momentarily speechless.

Then she thought of something else, and broke out afresh.

"Don't you remember, when I was telling her fortune there in the train,
I told her that the light-haired man had already come into her life, and
she made fun of me and said it must have been the Swede brakeman? Well,
what I told her was true, because Lieutenant Allison had already seen
her then! _Now_, will you say there isn't any truth in fortunes?"

The Winnebagos could only gasp at the workings of fate!

"But what about the other man you said you saw in her fortune, the
light-haired man who was going to turn dark after a while?" asked
Migwan.

"I don't know," replied Hinpoha. Then she added, "Give him time! He
hasn't shown up yet, but he will, you see if he doesn't."

And in view of the success of her former prophecy the Winnebagos could
not very well have any doubts.

"Wasn't it a miracle that Sahwah happened to be in the woods when the
plane came down?" said Agony in a hushed voice.

"Yes, but she wouldn't have been there if we hadn't lost the contest,"
said Migwan musingly. "Isn't it queer the way things work out sometimes?
Here, we wanted to win that contest so badly, and were disappointed when
we didn't, and yet if we _had_ won it Lieutenant Allison would have been
killed!"

The rest looked at each other in silent awe at _this_ marvelous working
of fate! In a dim, groping way they all felt the touch of an unseen,
mighty hand in their affairs, guiding them this way or that as it chose,
regardless of their own plans or intentions.

"It was really Oh-Pshaw that saved his life," said Gladys, "because she
made the mistake that made us lose."

"And I was so hateful about it, and said such mean things!" said Agony
contritely. "I take it all back, Oh-Pshaw. It was the luckiest thing you
ever did to get rattled then."

Oh-Pshaw smiled forgivingly and all was serene between the twins once
more.

While the Winnebago tongues were wagging busily in Oh-Pshaw's room and
Lieutenant Allison was lying quite comfortable in bed in the big square
bedroom of the Wing home, where he had been carried when brought in from
the woods the night before with a ragged cut in his left temple and a
fractured arm, Sahwah, breathless with wonder at the strange new thing
that had come into her life, fled from the chattering girls and went
wandering by herself in the silence of the woods, where she could think
and dream undisturbed.

So preoccupied was she that she had passed out of the gate of Carver
House without even noticing Kaiser Bill, who had broken out of his
confines and was pulling the honeysuckle vine off the fence. The Kaiser
stopped pulling for a moment as she came out and eyed her warily, on
guard for a well-aimed stone, but she passed by unheeding. It betokened
deep abstraction indeed when Sahwah ignored the depredations of Kaiser
Bill. The Kaiser executed a defiant caper under her very nose and then
returned blandly to his vine pulling, sending a suspicious look after
her from time to time as she passed down the hill.

Through the troubles that had overtaken Carver House, Kaiser Bill had
gained a temporary reprieve. In the excitement over Nyoda's going away
he had been forgotten entirely for a whole week, and of course nothing
would be done about his execution until she returned. Kaiser Bill was
making the most of his reprieve by breaking bounds every day and
damaging property to his heart's content.

But not even Kaiser Bill in mischief could hold Sahwah's attention now.
She walked on in the golden afternoon sunshine, her heart attuned to the
song of the wild thrush that came pouring out of the stillness of the
woods. She sought her own favorite haunt, a mossy seat beside the little
singing stream, where she loved to sit and watch the water tumble and
foam over the rocks, but when she got there she found the place already
occupied. Eugene Prince, the artist, sat there, his head tilted back
against the trunk of a tree, sound asleep, with his sketching portfolio
beside him on the ground and his hat on the other side. Sahwah scowled
at the sleeping man and passed swiftly on. She had no desire to sit
near him, even if he _was_ asleep. She found another place, far
downstream, where there was a rocky seat close to the water, and,
curling herself down in it, she watched the water tumble and foam, and
gave herself over to pondering on the delightful mystery of life and
fate.

Upstream, in Sahwah's own private nook, the invader reclined at ease,
steeped in the sound slumber of a drowsy midsummer afternoon. Upon this
peaceful scene there appeared a sinister and menacing apparition, a
shaggy body mounted on slender, adventurous legs, and terminating in a
mischievous-shaped head with evilly glittering eyes and wicked-looking
horns. It was none other than Kaiser Bill, on whom the taste of
honeysuckle had palled, wandering far afield in search of something to
tickle his discriminating palate. He stood still and surveyed the scene,
eyeing the various articles spread out before him with an appraising
eye, like a man in a Thompson's restaurant looking over the articles on
the counter and trying to make up his mind what he will have. He looked
at the pencil, he looked at the sketch pad; he sniffed experimentally at
the hat and then at the portfolio. The portfolio went to the spot; it
was made of leather with brass corners. He had not had such a treat in
many a day. He licked his chops; the water of anticipation began to
gather in his mouth. With a greedy movement he sank his teeth into the
portfolio and began his feast In his sportive delight he played with his
prize, tossing it to the ground and attacking it from all sides, while
his eyes glittered maliciously at the sleeping artist. Then he; moved on
down the wood path, dragging the portfolio with him until he found a
place which struck him as a suitable banquet Chamber, and there he stood
still and began chewing.

Sahwah, sitting on the rock beside the water, gazing off into space with
her chin in her hand, suddenly became aware of a champing sound directly
in her ear, accompanied by the noise of tearing. She raised her head,
and there was Kaiser Bill right beside her tearing something to pieces.
She put out her hand and snatched the thing away so quickly that it was
gone before Kaiser Bill knew what had happened; then, realizing that to
stay in the neighborhood after such a daring act was decidedly perilous,
Sahwah sprang up into the branches of a great old willow tree that
leaned invitingly near, drew herself up out of his reach and from her
safe vantage point made triumphant grimaces down at him. Kaiser Bill,
baffled, dashed his head against the tree several times in fury, then
rushed into the woods.

Left to herself, Sahwah examined the thing she had rescued, and then it
was that she recognized the artist's sketching portfolio. Her first
feeling was regret that she hadn't let Kaiser Bill go on eating it Then
she felt ashamed of such vicious thoughts and began looking over the
portfolio to see how badly it was damaged. It was a sorry wreck, she
decided, after a moment's inspection. Most of the seams were burst open
and the soft leather which lined the stiffer outside was torn away in a
dozen places. It was empty of sketches, these having been scattered
along the path in the progress of Kaiser Bill's capers. Sahwah fingered
the torn lining and wondered if the artist would make them pay for the
damage. While she was wondering her fingers found something under the
lining, and she drew out several sheets of paper, written over in a
close hand. Under these were dozens of other sheets, thin as tissue, but
very tough and strong, covered with lines and angles and circles and
letters in complicated designs. She rummaged still further under the
lining and drew out a black ribbon about an inch wide. On it in gold
letters was stamped _S.M.S. Eitel Friederich_. After that out came a
narrow envelope of exceedingly heavy correspondence paper addressed in a
beautifully shaded handwriting to "Lieutenant Waldemar von Oldenbach,
_S.M.S. Eitel Friederich_." Sahwah turned it over in her hands. It was
sealed on the other side with a wafer of gold wax, the seal being a
coronet The envelope was open at the top, disclosing a letter inside.
Sahwah looked at it curiously, but did not open it. It was the
superscription on the envelope and the gold letters on the black ribbon
that were holding her attention. Sahwah knew from reading the papers
that the _S.M.S. Eitel Friederich_ was one of the German warships caught
in American ports at the outbreak of the war and interned. The ribbon
had evidently come from the ship, but what was it doing here under the
lining of Eugene Prince's portfolio? Why was he carrying around a ship's
ribbon from an interned German vessel? Who was Waldemar von Oldenbach?
Evidently a lieutenant on the _Eitel Friederich_, from the address on
the letter. But what was a letter addressed to such a person doing in
the possession of the artist? A letter from a woman, it undoubtedly was.
Something heavy was in the envelope beside the letter; it fell out into
Sahwah's lap as she handled the letter. It was a little Maltese cross
made of gray metal, with letters stamped in the ends of the crosspieces.
Sahwah held it in her hand and spelled out the letters, and then all at
once she knew what it was. She had seen a picture of such a thing in a
magazine only a few days before. It was an Iron Cross of the First
Class. She stared at it, fascinated, for a moment, then shuddered and
dropped it back into the envelope.

She looked over the thin sheets of paper, but could make nothing of
them; she then turned back to the first letter that had come to light.
The sheets were open and she felt no hesitancy about reading them.

What Sahwah read sent her heart wildly pounding against her throat.
"Atterbury?" "Strikes?"--and signed by Prince Karl Augustus of
Hohenburg? This must be the very letter that was stolen from Mr. Wing's
desk--the letter they accused Veronica of taking! Eugene Prince, the
artist, had taken it and hidden it under the lining of his sketch book.
But no one had ever thought of suspecting him! He had been so sure that
Veronica was an enemy agent, and here he was one himself! She had been
right after all, Veronica was innocent, and her faith in her had not
been betrayed. For a moment that one great dazzling fact blotted out all
other facts. It was not too late yet to save Veronica from internment.
She must get to Mr. Wing as fast as she could with her great discovery.
She must----Here Sahwah looked down, and directly into the face of
Eugene Prince, standing on the ground beside the tree, his eye on the
portfolio and the articles spread out in her lap. For a moment "they
looked at each other, tense, speechless, then the artist sprang into the
tree, snatched the portfolio and the letter away from her and darted
away into the woods. Stunned by surprise Sahwah slid limply to the
ground, vainly looking around to see where the artist had gone. The
woods had swallowed him. At Sahwah's feet lay the gilt-lettered ship's
ribbon, the letter addressed to Waldemar von Oldenbach and the thin
sheets of paper, and in her hand she still clutched the bottom half of
one of the pages of the stolen letter, the half that bore the prince's
signature and the name of Atterbury in one of the lines."

CHAPTER XX

ANOTHER'S SECRET

"Tell me something about this artist who called himself Eugene Prince,"
said Lieutenant Allison, who, propped up in bed with Mr. Wing and the
Winnebagos around him, had been looking over the contents of the
sketching portfolio which Sahwah had just brought in.

Mr. Wing, still dazed from the shock of learning that the man he had
looked upon as such a good friend had played him false, described the
artist as well as he could. The lieutenant listened with a puzzled frown
until he heard about the funny little drawings that the artist used to
make, and then he interrupted with a triumphant exclamation.

"That's he!" he exclaimed. "The very same! Eugene Prince is Waldemar von
Oldenbach himself!"

Then he told about him.

"Waldemar von Oldenbach! His father is a German count, his mother was an
American. He was educated in England and afterward came to America and
entered Cornell. That's where I met him. He was the cleverest scapegrace
that ever lived. He could sing like an angel, draw like St. Peter, and
knew more languages than an Ellis Island interpreter. He made friends
wherever he went. To look at him and hear him talk you would never think
he was a German; he's the picture of his American mother, and being in
England so much he had learned English perfectly. At the same time he
could make himself up like a Frenchman and you'd swear that he and all
his ancestors were born in the shadow of Notre Dame. He was a great old
actor, all right. After he'd been in America a year or so he went back
to Germany and entered the navy and became a first lieutenant on the
_Eitel Friederich_. That's where he was when the war broke out and the
_Eitel Friederich_ was interned. But Von Oldenbach wasn't interned with
her, not much. He got away before they had a chance to photograph him
and label him, and so no official search was ever made for him as it was
in the cases of the other sailors from the _Eitel Friederich_ who
escaped. I have often wondered what became of him, because I knew he was
on the _Eitel Friederich_ when she first came into port, but his name
didn't show up among the ship's officers when they were interned.
Someone on board said he had died the day before the ship was seized and
that was all anybody knew about him. He must have been quietly cruising
around the country ever since, disguised and posing as an artist,
working himself into one locality after another where he could get
information that was of service to his fatherland. These drawings here
are mostly of airplane parts which he's picked up in various places and
his sketches are mostly all rivers and bridges.

"Eugene Prince, indeed! '_Prinz Eugen, der edle Ritter,'_ that's what
they used to call him in college, after an old student song. He had such
winning ways he could take up with anybody. Nobody on earth was proof
against his charm. You see how it has worked with yourself, Mr. Wing. He
made himself such a delightful companion, and became of such real
service to you in your work of trailing enemy agents that you never
suspected he wasn't the most patriotic American alive. You would have
staked your soul on it. When he found out you had this letter which tied
up old Prince Karl Augustus with your strike case, he managed to get it
away from you and so scored one for the Prince, who is a good friend of
his. At the same time he was clever enough to throw suspicion over onto
this little Hungarian girl friend of yours, and if this goat hadn't
butted in just at the right time he probably never would have been found
out. As it is, he'll probably never be caught now. He's too clever.
He'll fool the officers yet, as he's done before." Sleep came slowly to
the girls that night, there had been so much excitement during the day,
but one by one they dropped off at last, even Sahwah, who was so wide
awake she thought she would never sleep again. Sometime after midnight
the doorbell rang, a loud, ferocious peal that clanged through the
silent house like a fire alarm and fetched Sahwah sitting upright in bed
with a beating heart. "What's that?" came in a startled tone from
Hinpoha's room.

"The doorbell," answered Sahwah, jumping out of bed and putting on her
slippers. The other girls were awake by this time, calling to each
other. The bell pealed again.

"Don't you go to the door!" cried Hinpoha hoarsely, as she saw Sahwah
preparing to go down. "It may be the artist coming back to kill us. I've
heard of such things. They come to the door at night and ring the
doorbell and then they shoot you through the door when you open it.
Don't you dare go down!"

"Oh-h-h-h-wow-w!" shrieked Gladys, with a smothered squeal, her nerves
giving away beneath the shock of being wakened so suddenly from sound
sleep, together with the picture of horror conjured up by Hinpoha's
awful suggestion.

Fright overtook the rest of them then and they stood in a shivering
group in the upper hall. Another peal clanged through the house, louder
and more insistent than before.

"I'm going to see who's there," said Sahwah hardily. "Come on, all of
you, come down with me."

"Wait until we get armed," said Hinpoha, casting about for something
that would serve as a weapon of defense. There was nothing in sight but
a two-quart bottle of spring water, which she picked up. Gladys went
into the kitchen and picked up a frying pan, Sahwah climbed up on the
mantel and pulled down the Revolutionary musket that hung there and
brought down a three-foot sword for Migwan. It dropped with a clatter
upon the hearthstone when Migwan tried to take it from her hand, and the
four stood petrified with alarm. Another furious peal at the bell.

"Come on," whispered Sahwah. "I'll open the door a crack and you stand
right behind me. I'm not going to turn on the light, because it's easier
to rush out and make an attack in the dark." Holding their breath they
approached the door with shaking knees. Sahwah turned the key in the
lock as quietly as she could and opened the door a tiny crack. "Who's
there?" she called in a bold voice, at the same time bringing her gun
down on the floor with a warning bang.

"It's I, Nyoda," answered the dearest voice in the world. "Oh, I thought
I'd _never_ make you hear!"

The next minute she was inside the room and the light was switched on.
One look at the four girls, armed to the teeth, and Nyoda doubled up on
the stairs and laughed until she cried, while the Winnebagos looked
sheepish and laid their weapons down in a hurry.

"Didn't you get my wire saying I was coming?" asked Nyoda in surprise.
"I sent one yesterday saying I would reach Oakwood at eight to-night.
Trains were delayed all along the line and I didn't get in until nearly
one this morning."

"We never got any telegram," said Migwan.

"I suppose it'll get here to-morrow," said Nyoda resignedly. "The
telegraph operator in St. Margaret's was also the postmaster, and I have
a suspicion that he was also the expressman, and his messages piled up
on him at times. I got your letter about Veronica yesterday and started
for home immediately. Now tell me everything exactly as it happened."

She listened with wide-open eyes to the tale which Sahwah, assisted by
the other three, poured out excitedly.

At the mention of Veronica's mysterious errands from the house, which
had brought suspicion down upon her, Nyoda suddenly turned white and
clutched the newel post for support.

"Oh, if I had only known!" she cried wildly. "If I had only been here!
Oh, the poor, poor child, why didn't she tell?" Nyoda sank down on the
stairs and buried her face in her hands, while the Winnebagos stood
around with wondering, startled faces.

Then she looked up at the girls and began to speak.

"Girls," she said in an awed tone, "I simply can't find words to tell
you what Veronica has done. No one could express in seven languages the
depth of her loyalty to a friend. She has kept a promise of silence
about a certain matter at a cost to herself that surpasses belief. But
here and now I absolve her from that promise, and propose to tell you
the whole matter which has so puzzled and tormented you with its
mystery, although it is a matter I urgently wished to keep secret.

"You probably do not know that my husband has a younger brother,
Clement, who was a brilliant scholar and a fine musician. His health had
always been frail, and he overstudied in college, with the result that
in the middle of his junior year he broke down altogether and was ill
for a long time. Worry about his condition finally affected his mind and
he became quite melancholy at times and mentally unbalanced. It was
nothing permanent, the doctors said, and the mental trouble would pass
away if he regained his health, but Clement was morbidly sensitive about
it and was terribly afraid people would find it out and consider him
crazy all the rest of his life, and that his career would be ruined by
it

"His distress was so keen that my husband brought him to a little
cottage here on the outskirts of Oakwood that stands far back from one
of the unfrequented roads, almost hidden by the trees, and established
him there with a young doctor friend and an old housekeeper who had been
in the family for years and had looked after Clem since he was a
youngster. None of his friends knew where he was nor what was the matter
with him, so he was safe from the publicity he feared. He began to
improve with the quiet outdoor life he led, but still there were times
when he grew so melancholy that they feared he would kill himself. He
was passionately fond of violin music, and we soon found out he could be
speedily brought out of his melancholy fits by the sound of his favorite
instrument.

"So I brought Veronica down here this summer, and her playing worked a
miracle every time. Whenever Clem grew despondent they would telephone
for Veronica and she would go over and play for him. When she went out
of the house in the daytime to go over, she went through the cellar
passage that opens out into the spring house on the side of the hill, so
you girls would not see her leaving with her violin."

A light broke in Sahwah's brain. That was why she had not heard Veronica
going out of the front door that afternoon when she disappeared so
mysteriously!

"But he usually had those spells at night," continued Nyoda, "because
he was always sleepless, but no matter what time it was she would always
go and play for him, and the magic strains of her violin would put him
to sleep and drive away the melancholy. Of course, I asked her to keep
the matter a secret, and never breathe a word about Clem's existence to
anybody, and she promised. How little did I guess what it was going to
cost her to keep that secret!"

The Winnebagos looked at each other in wonder and awe at the thought of
this fiery little wisp of nobility who would not break her word of honor
even to clear herself of unjust suspicion. Then with one voice they
broke out in a wild cheer of admiration and acclaim that sent the echoes
flying through the quiet old house:

"Oh, Veronica, here's to you,
Our hearts will e'er be true,
We will never find your equal
Though we search the whole world through !"

CHAPTER XXI

"In consequence of distinguished service rendered your country, I hearby
grant you a full and unconditional pardon!" Nyoda, as leader of the
Court Martial, addressed these thrilling words to Kaiser Bill, who stood
in the center of a solemn conclave, gathered on the lawn of Carver House
to reverse the death sentence passed upon him two weeks before. Once
more the Winnebagos had a heart for nonsense, for Veronica stood in
their midst again, cleared from every breath of suspicion. She and
Sahwah stood with their arms around each other, laughingly looking on at
the process of unsentencing Kaiser Bill to death. Slim and the Captain
were there, too, come to say good-bye to the girls before leaving their
tent in the woods. They had finished their surveying job and were moving
on that day. They arrived on the scene just as the Court Martial sat to
act upon the Kaiser's pardon. Kaiser Bill received the news of his
pardon without emotion, hardly looking at his pardoners, and evincing a
great show of interest in the process of paving the street in front of
Carver House, which was going on at the time.

"He's got his eye on those bricks out there, and the first thing you
know he'll be out there trying to eat them," said Nyoda with a comical
sigh, realizing how impossible it was to interest the Kaiser in
anything, even a thing so momentous as his own pardon, when there was
anything in sight that looked as if it might be good to eat.

Nyoda laughed and went on with the ceremony as mapped out beforehand.
"And in further consideration of the great service you have rendered
your country, this court has decided to change your name from Kaiser
Bill to Sherlock Holmes, as more fitting your great detective skill.
Never again will you hear the hateful name of 'Kaiser Bill' applied to
yourself. Sherlock Holmes, we salute you!" The Winnebagos raised their
right hands in formal salute.

"Furthermore," continued Nyoda, "we have decided----"

"There he goes!" shrieked Sahwah, as the newly christened Sherlock
Holmes broke away from their flattering midst, cleared the fence at a
bound and made straight for the pile of bricks that had started his
mouth to watering.

"He'll get run over if he doesn't look out!" shouted the Captain as a
truck loaded with sand rapidly approached the brick pile. "Hi, there,
look out!" he called warningly.

But the warning came too late, for Sherlock Holmes was already under the
wheels, with the whole weight of the truck on top of him, and by the
time it had come to a stop he was a limp, lifeless wreck of a goat.

The Winnebagos flocked out into the street and looked at his remains,
and almost wept as poor old Hercules heartbrokenly lifted up the body of
his slain darling. The Italian laborers threw down their tools and
gathered around them and a crowd collected from all sides.

"Why didn't you turn aside?" exclaimed the Captain to the driver of the
truck, who seemed to be the only one not sorry about the accident, and
muttered angrily in answer to the Captain's question. He looked
defiantly at the Winnebagos and at Hercules fondling the dead goat, and
then he actually laughed at them. "Serves the beast right," he muttered,
and Sahwah, looking indignantly at him, saw that his left hand reached
up for his ear, pulled down the lobe and released it with a jerk. A
little electric thrill went through Sahwah at the sight of that gesture.
There was only one person she had ever seen do that. That person was the
artist, Eugene Prince. In spite of the black matted hair that covered
the man's forehead, in spite of the black beard that covered the lower
half of his face, the tattered cap, the blue shirt and shabby working
clothes covered with red brick dust, something seemed to tell her that
this was the man the federal officers were now searching for high and
low.

"That's the spy!" she shouted at the top of her voice, to the utter
amazement of the others, but the driver started as if he had been shot.

Immediately Slim and the Captain jumped on him and he fought like a
tiger to get free. Others in the crowd came to the rescue and before
long Waldemar von Oldenbach was safely locked up, minus his black wig
and false beard, awaiting the arrival of Agent Sanders. With his native
cunning he had decided that the safest place for him was to stay right
in Oakwood after the discovery of the contents of his sketching
portfolio, because everyone would think he would try to escape. So he
had disguised himself as a foreign laborer and joined a gang that was
paving the street, the last place where anyone would look for him, and
he would probably never have been discovered if he had not run down the
goat that had discovered his secret in the first place. Even then, no
one would ever have looked for Waldemar von Oldenbach in the person of
that swarthy, unkempt laborer, if it had not been for the sharp eyes of
Sahwah the Sunfish, who noticed everything, and never forgot anything
she saw. Her remembering the peculiar gesture of the artist had been his
undoing.

Sahwah was once more the heroine of the Winnebagos. "How did you ever
do it?" said Hinpoha enviously.

"Oh, I just noticed it," replied Sahwah without laying any claim
whatever to detective ability. Sahwah's ability to talk about her
achievements was as short as her power to think and act was long.

When Agent Sanders came to Oakwood to take the artist away with him he
asked to see the Winnebagos and complimented them all highly upon the
help they had given in catching the wily lieutenant, von Oldenbach. "I
wish to express the thanks of the government," he said formally, "in
consequence of the distinguished service rendered your country----"

Sahwah giggled out loud, and Agent Sanders paused and looked at her with
an inquiring expression.

"That's just what Nyoda said to Kaiser Bill!" said Sahwah, with another
giggle. Then they all laughed, and the Winnebagos discovered that Agent
Sanders' eyes were as kindly as they were sharp.

The Winnebagos held a jubilee that night on the Council Rock with Nyoda.
She was going back to St. Margaret's in a few days because Sherry would
be in the hospital for some time yet and she wanted to be with him until
he was well, so the visit of the Winnebagos to Carver House had come to
a close. Lieutenant Allison had been taken back to his camp that
afternoon, right after he had seen and identified Lieutenant von
Oldenbach. He still wore Sahwah's picture around his neck when he left,
but it was now inclosed in Sahwah's own locket, and there was a fresh
entry in his address book, as there was also in Sahwah's. The smashed
plane had been taken away from the Devil's Punch Bowl and there was
nothing in the placidly murmuring water to hint at the tragedy that had
almost taken place. High up over the water, on the Council Rock, the
Winnebagos held solemn ceremonial.

"Well," said Hinpoha in a tone of deep satisfaction, "the Winnebagos
have done their bit. I take it all back about things never happening out
of books and girls never having a chance to do anything for their
country. We've had our chance, and we've gone over the top!" she
proclaimed triumphantly.

The faces of all the Winnebagos shone with satisfied ambition.

"It was all true, the fortune you told Sahwah," said Migwan in a hushed
voice. "The other man came into her life, too, the man who was light
first and dark afterward!"

"I told you so!" exclaimed Hinpoha triumphantly.

"Talking about 'going over the top,'" said Nyoda seriously, when the
murmur of wonder over Hinpoha's marvelous powers of prophecy had died
away, "I think that two of you Winnebagos have 'gone over the top' on
little excursions of your own, and ought to be decorated for courageous
conduct under fire. Veronica Lehar, you have shown a strength of
character before which we bow in humble admiration, and from this day on
you shall be called Torch Bearer." Then she added fervently, "May we all
love this country of ours as much as you do!"

Veronica turned great shining eyes on Nyoda, and her swiftly rising
emotions almost choked her. Her great love for her new country had never
failed, even though that country had looked upon her suspiciously. "The
light of liberty that had been given to me I will pass undimmed unto
others!" she exclaimed fervently.

"And this girl, too, has proved her mettle," said Nyoda, drawing
Oh-Pshaw to her side and smiling into her wondering eyes. Oh-Pshaw had
told Nyoda how she had sung to forget about the gurgling water in the
Punch Bowl and how all of a sudden she had not been afraid any more, but
she herself never realized what she had accomplished that night, and did
not connect it at all with what Nyoda was saying now.

Then Nyoda related to the girls how Oh-Pshaw had fought with Fear down
there in the darkness all alone, fought with the fear that was in her
bones and had always mastered her, and how for the sake of another she
had conquered it and was now free from its strangling clutch. She told
them how the fear had come into Oh-Pshaw and what a great victory it was
that she had won over herself down there beside the Devil's Punch Bowl.

"And for that victory over yourself you shall also be known as Torch
Bearer, for she who conquers herself for the sake of others is worthy to
lead others."

Oh-Pshaw stared at her blankly, unbelievingly for a moment, and then a
great joy came into her face when she realized that she had achieved her
heart's desire.

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