Part 1 out of 4
THE BOY ALLIES AT LIEGE
Through Lines of Steel
By CLAIR W. HAYES
AUTHOR OF "The Boy Allies On the Firing Line" "The Boy Allies With the
Cossacks" "The Boy Allies In the Trenches"
THE TWO COMRADES.
"War has been declared, mother!" shouted Hal, as closely followed by his
friend, Chester Crawford, he dashed into the great hotel in Berlin, where
the three were stopping, and made his way through the crowd that thronged
the lobby to his mother's side.
"Yes, mother, it's true," continued Hal, seeing the look of consternation
on Mrs. Paine's face. "The Kaiser has declared war upon France!"
Mrs. Paine, who had risen to her feet at her son's entrance, put her hand
upon the back of her chair to steady herself, and her face grew pale.
"Can it be?" she said slowly. "After all these years, can it be possible
that millions of men will again fly at each other's throats? Is it
possible that Europe will again be turned into a battlefield?"
Overcome by her feelings, Mrs. Paine sank slowly into her chair. Hal and
Chester sprang to her side.
"It's all right, mother," cried Hal, dropping to his knees and putting
his arm about her. "We are in no danger. No one will harm an American. At
this crisis a citizen of the United States will not be molested."
Mrs. Paine smiled faintly.
"It was not of that I was thinking, my son," she said. "Your words
brought back to me the days gone by, and I pray that I shall not have to
go through them again. Then, too, I was thinking of the mothers and wives
whose hearts will be torn by the news you have just told me. But come,"
and Mrs. Paine shook off her memories, "tell me all about it."
"As you know, Mrs. Paine," spoke up Chester, who up to this time had
remained silent, "Hal and I went to the American Embassy immediately
after dinner to-night to learn, if possible, what difficulties we were
likely to encounter in leaving Germany. Since the Kaiser's declaration of
war against Russia all Americans have been preparing to get out of the
country at the earliest possible moment. But now that war has been
declared on France, we are likely to encounter many hardships."
"Is there any likelihood of our being detained?" asked Mrs. Paine in
alarm. "What did the ambassador say?"
"While the ambassador anticipates no danger for foreigners, he advises
that we leave the country immediately. He suggests that we take the early
morning train across the Belgian frontier."
"Why go to Belgium?"
"All railroad lines leading into France have been seized by German
soldiers. Passenger traffic has been cut off, mother," explained Hal.
"All trains are being used for the movement of troops."
"Yes, Mrs. Paine," continued Chester, "we shall have to go through
Belgium. Even now thousands of the Kaiser's best troops are marching upon
the French frontier, and fighting is only a question of hours."
"Very well, then," returned Mrs. Paine. "We shall go in the morning. So I
guess we would all better go upstairs and pack. Come along, boys."
While the packing is going on, it is a good time to describe the two
American lads, who will play the most important parts in our story.
Hal Paine was a lad some seventeen years of age. Following his graduation
from high school in a large Illinois city the previous June, his mother
had announced her intention of taking him on a tour through Europe.
Needless to say, Hal jumped at this chance to see something of the
foreign countries in whose histories he had always been deeply
interested. It was upon Hal's request that Mrs. Paine had invited his
chum, Chester Crawford, to accompany them.
Chester was naturally eager to take the trip across the water, and, after
some coaxing, in which Mrs. Paine's influence also was brought to bear,
his parents finally agreed to their son's going so far away from home.
Hal's father was dead. A colonel of infantry, he was killed leading a
charge at the battle of El Caney, in the Spanish-American war. Hal's
grandfather died of a bayonet wound in the last days of the Civil War.
But, if Hal's father's family was a family of fighters, so was that of
his mother. Her father, a Virginian, was killed at the head of his men
while leading one of Pickett's regiments in the famous charge at
Gettysburg. Three of her brothers also had been killed on the field of
battle, and another had died in prison.
From her own mother Mrs. Paine had learned of the horrors of war. Before
the war her father had been a wealthy man. After the war her mother was
almost in poverty. While too young then to remember these things herself,
Mrs. Paine knew what havoc had been wrought in the land of her birth by
the invasion of armed men, and it is not to be wondered at that, in view
of the events narrated, she should view the coming struggle with anguish,
despite the fact that her own country was not involved and that there was
no reason why her loved ones should be called upon to take up arms.
Chester's father was a prominent and wealthy lumberman, and Chester,
although nearly a year younger than Hal, had graduated in the same class
with his comrade. The two families lived next door to each other, and the
lads had always been the closest of chums.
For the last three years the boys had spent each summer vacation in one
of the lumber camps owned by Chester's father, in the great Northwest.
Always athletically inclined, the time thus spent among the rough
lumbermen had given the boys new prowess. Day after day they spent in the
woods, hunting big game, and both had become proficient in the use of
firearms; while to their boxing skill--learned under a veteran of the
prize-ring, who was employed by Chester's father in the town in which
they lived--they added that dexterity which comes only with hard
experience. Daily fencing lessons had made both proficient in the use of
sword and saber.
Among these woodsmen, composed of laborers from many nations, they had
also picked up a smattering of many European languages, which proved of
great help to them on their trip abroad.
Standing firmly upon their rights from first to last, the two lads never
allowed anyone to impose upon them, although they were neither naturally
pugnacious nor aggressive. However, there had been more than one
lumberjack who had found to his discomfort that he could not infringe
upon their good nature, which was at all times apparent.
Both boys were large and sturdy, and the months spent in the lumber camps
had given hardness to their muscles. Their ever-readiness for a
rough-and-tumble, the fact that neither had ever been known to dodge
trouble--although neither had ever sought it, and that where one was
involved in danger there was sure to be found the other also--had gained
for them among the rough men of the lumber camp the nickname of "The Boy
Allies," a name which had followed them to their city home.
It was by this name that the boys were most endearingly known to their
companions; and there was more than one small boy who owed his escape
from older tormentors to the "Boy Allies'" idea of what was right and
wrong, and to the power of their arms.
Both lads were keenly interested in history, so, in spite of the manner
in which they tried to reassure Mrs. Paine and set her mind at rest,
there is no cause for wonder in the fact that both were more concerned in
the movement of troops and warships than in the efforts the other powers
were making to prevent a general European war.
Staunch admirers of Napoleon and the French people, and, with a long line
of descendants among the English, the sympathies of both were naturally
with the Allies. As Chester had said to Hal, when first rumors of the
impending conflagration were heard:
"It's too bad we cannot take a hand in the fighting. The war will be the
greatest of all time, and both sides will need every man they can get
capable of bearing arms."
"You bet it's too bad," Hal had replied; "but we're still in Europe, and
you never can tell what will happen. We may have to play a part in the
affair whether we want to or not," and here the conversation had ended,
although such thoughts were still in the minds of both boys when they
accompanied Mrs. Paine to their apartment to pack up, preparatory to
their departure in the morning.
The packing completed, the lads announced their intention of walking out
and learning the latest war news.
"We won't be gone long, mother," said Hal.
"Very well, son," Mrs. Paine replied; "but, whatever you do, don't get
into any trouble. However, I do not suppose there is any danger to be
For more than an hour the lads wandered about the streets, reading the
war bulletins in front of the various newspaper offices, and listening to
crowds of men discussing the latest reports, which became more grave
As the boys started on their return to their hotel, they heard a shout
down a side street, followed immediately by more yells and cries; and
then a voice rang out in English:
Breaking into a quick run, Hal and Chester soon were upon the scene of
With their backs to a wall, two young men were attempting to beat back
with their fists a crowd of a dozen assailants, who beset them from three
As the two boys rounded the corner, the cry for help again went up.
"Come on, Chester!" shouted Hal. "We can't let that gang of hoodlums beat
up anyone who speaks the English language."
"Lead on!" cried Chester. "I am right with you!"
They were upon the crowd as he spoke, and Hal's right fist shot out with
stinging force, and the nearest assailant, struck on the side of the
neck, fell to the ground with a groan.
"Good work, Hal!" shouted Chester, at the same time wading into the crowd
of young ruffians, for such the attackers proved to be, and striking out
right and left.
Howls of anger and imprecations greeted the attack from this unexpected
source, and for a moment the ruffians fell back. In the time that it took
the crowd to return to the struggle, the boys forced their way to the
side of the victims of the attack, and the four, with their backs to the
wall, took a breathing spell.
"You didn't arrive a moment too soon," said one of the young men, with a
smile. "I had begun to think we were due for a trimming."
"There are four of us here," returned Hal, "and we ought to be good for
that crowd; but, instead of standing here, when they attack again, let's
make a break and fight our way through. There will be more of them along
in a minute, and it will be that much harder for us."
"Good!" returned the second stranger in French. "Here they come!"
"Are you ready?" asked Hal.
"All ready," came the reply from the other three.
"All right, then. Now!"
At the word the four rushed desperately into the throng, which was
pressing in on them from three sides. Taken by surprise, the enemy gave
way for a moment; then closed in again.
Blows fell thick and fast for the space of a couple of minutes. Then,
suddenly, Chester fell to the ground.
Turning, Hal fought his way to the other side of Chester's prostrate
body. Then, bending down, he lifted his chum to his feet.
"Hurt much?" he asked.
"No," replied Chester, shaking his head like an enraged bull. "Let me get
at them again!"
He rushed in among his assailants with even greater desperation than
before, and two young hoodlums fell before his blows.
In the meantime the strangers were giving a good account of themselves,
and the enemy were falling before their smashing fists.
Hal ducked a blow from the closest of his assailants, and, stepping in
close, struck him with all his power under the chin. The youth fell to
As he did so the ruffian nearest him, with a hiss of rage, drew a knife,
with which he made a wicked slash at Hal. Hal did not see the movement,
being closely pressed elsewhere, but Chester, with a sudden cry, leaped
forward and seized the hand holding the knife, just as the weapon would
have been buried in Hal's back.
"You would, would you, you coward!" he cried, and struck the young German
in the face with all the strength of his right arm. The latter toppled
over like a log.
All this time the crowd of assailants continued to grow. Attracted by the
sounds of the scuffle, reinforcements arrived from all directions, and it
is hard to tell what would have happened had not the sudden blast of a
whistle interrupted the proceedings.
"The police!" yelled someone in the crowd. "Run!"
In less time than it takes to tell it, Hal, Chester, and the two other
young men were alone, while racing toward them, down the street, were
several figures in uniform.
"Run!" cried the young Frenchman. "If they catch us we will all go to
jail, and there is no telling when we'll get out. Run!"
The four took to their heels, and, dodging around corner after corner,
were soon safe from pursuit.
"Well, I guess we are safe now," said the Englishman, when they stopped
at last. Then, turning to Hal:
"I don't know how to thank you and your friend. If you had not arrived
when you did, I fear it would have fared badly with us."
"No thanks are due," replied Hal. "It's a poor American who would refuse
to help anyone in trouble. Shake hands and call it square!"
The Englishman smiled.
"As modest as you are bold, eh? Well, all right," and he extended his
hand, which Hal and Chester grasped in turn.
But the Frenchman was not to be put off so easily. He insisted on
embracing both of the boys, much to their embarrassment.
"I'm Lieutenant Harry Anderson, of the Tenth Dragoons, His Majesty's
service," explained the Englishman, and then, turning to his friend:
"This is Captain Raoul Derevaux, Tenth Regiment, French Rifle Corps. We
were strolling along the street when attacked by the gang from which you
saved us. In the morning we shall try to get out of Germany by way of the
Belgian frontier. If now, or at any other time, we may be of service to
you, command us."
"Yes, indeed," put in the Frenchman, "I consider myself your debtor
Hal and Chester thanked their newly-made friends for their good will,
and, after a little further conversation, left them to continue their
way, while they returned to the hotel, much to the relief of Mrs. Paine,
who had become very uneasy at their long absence.
A PERILOUS SITUATION.
"Come on, Hal. Let's stroll about a few minutes. We've lots of time
before the train pulls out."
It was Chester who spoke. Mrs. Paine and the two boys were sitting in
their compartment of the Brussels express, in the station at Berlin. It
still lacked ten minutes of the time set for departure.
"You don't mind, do you, mother?" said Hal.
"No; if you do not go too far," was the answer.
The boys descended from the car, and wandered toward the entrance of the
station. Just as they were about to step on to the street, a German
military officer swung into the doorway. Hal, who was directly in his
path, stepped aside, but not quickly enough to entirely avoid him.
With one outstretched arm the officer shoved him violently to one side,
and then stopped.
"What do you mean by blocking my way?" he demanded. "Do you know
who I am?"
Hal's temper was aroused.
"No, I don't; and I don't care," was his reply.
"Well, I'll give you something to care about," and, raising his hand, the
officer made as though to strike Hal across the face.
"Don't you strike me," said Hal quietly. "I'm an American citizen, and I
give you warning."
"Warning!" sneered the officer. "You young American upstart! I'll have
you whipped!" and he turned as though to call someone.
At that moment there was a sudden cry of "All aboard!" and the officer,
after taking a threatening step toward Hal, made a dash for the train.
"I guess that is our train, Hal," said Chester. "We had better hurry."
The lads retraced their steps toward their train. Reaching the shed, they
saw the German officer disappearing into a compartment on the train.
"That looks like our compartment to me," said Hal. "I hope we don't have
to ride with him."
"I hope not," agreed Chester, and then broke into a run, as he shouted:
"Hurry! The train is moving!"
It was true. The boys had wasted too much time.
The door to one compartment was all that stood open, and that was the one
in which Mrs. Paine could be seen gesticulating to them.
"We just made it," panted Hal, as they reached the open door, and started
to climb aboard.
At that instant a uniformed arm appeared through the door and
pushed Hal away.
"Go away, you American puppy," came a voice.
Hal slipped, and but for the prompt action of Chester, who caught him by
the arm, would have fallen beneath the train.
The train gathered momentum, as the boys raced along beside it, in vain
seeking an open door by which they might climb aboard. There was none but
their own compartment, and that had passed them. It was impossible for
them to overtake it, and there was not a train guard in sight.
The boys stopped running and stood still as the remainder of the train
On ahead they could see Mrs. Paine and the big German officer, both
gazing back toward them, the former gesticulating violently.
Hal stamped his foot with rage.
"I'd like to get my hands on that big lout!" he shouted. "I'd--"
"Come, come, old fellow," interrupted Chester, "never mind that, now. I
don't blame you, but you can see it's impossible. You'll have to wait."
"You are right, of course," replied Hal. "The thing to do now is to send
mother a telegram to the first station and tell her not to worry, that we
shall be along on the next train. But, just the same, I'd like to get my
hands on that--"
"Come, now," Chester interrupted again, "let's send that telegram and
find out when the next train leaves."
They found the telegraph office, and Hal prepared a message, which he
handed through the window.
The clerk glanced at it, and then passed it back.
"Can't be sent," he informed Hal.
"Can't be sent! Why not?"
"Nothing can be sent over this wire but military messages from this time
on," said the clerk.
"But we missed the train, and I want to send this message to my mother,
so she won't worry," pleaded Hal.
"I'm sorry," the clerk returned kindly, "but it is impossible. I must
obey my orders."
Hal and Chester were nonplused.
"What shall we do?" questioned Chester.
"The only thing I know to do," replied Hal, "is to take the next train
without telegraphing. Mother is sure to be at the Brussels station. I
guess she knows we have enough sense to get there."
"All right Let's find out when the next train leaves."
On their way to the ticket window, Hal stopped suddenly.
"What's the matter" asked Chester.
"Matter!" exclaimed Hal. "The matter is I haven't any money. All I have
was enough to send that telegram, and that amount won't get us to
Chester reached in his pocket, and a startled expression came over his
"Neither have I," he exclaimed, feeling first one pocket and then
another. "I have lost my pocketbook. All I have is a little change."
The lads looked at each other in silence for several minutes.
"What shall we do?" Chester asked finally.
"I don't know what to do," replied Hal; "but we have got to do something.
I guess the best thing is to go back to the embassy and see if we can't
raise the price of a couple of tickets. I am sure the ambassador will let
us have it."
"A good idea," said Chester. "I guess the sooner we get there the
better. Come on."
The ambassador received them immediately.
"I'm awfully sorry, boys," he said, after listening to their troubles,
"but I am afraid I can do nothing for you."
"Can't you lend us enough money to get to Brussels?" asked Hal in
surprise. "You'll get it back, all right."
"Yes, I can lend it to you, and I am not afraid of not getting it back."
"Then why can't you help us?"
"The reason is this," the ambassador explained, "this morning's train to
Brussels was the last upon which foreigners were allowed to depart. The
German government has given orders that all foreigners now in Germany
must remain until mobilization is completed. So you see you are up
Hal and Chester looked at each other, and both smiled faintly.
"I see we are," said Chester.
"Now, I'll tell you what I can do," continued the ambassador. "I can let
you have enough money to keep you until such a time as you will be
allowed to leave the country; or, better still, you can come and live
with me. What do you say?"
"I'm sure we appreciate your kindness very much," said Hal, "and we
may be forced to take advantage of it. We shall look about the city
this afternoon, and, if nothing else turns up, we shall be glad to
stay with you."
"Let me hear from you before night, anyhow," said the ambassador, rising.
"We certainly shall. Come, Chester, let's go out and look around a bit."
The boys left the embassy.
The streets of the city were even more densely thronged than they had
been the night before. Thousands and thousands of people paraded up and
down--war the sole topic of their conversation.
Late in the afternoon, as Hal and Chester were walking along Strassburga
Strasse, a hand was suddenly laid on the former's arm, and a voice
"I thought you boys were on your way to Brussels. How does it happen you
are still in Berlin?"
Turning, Hal perceived that the person who had accosted him was none
other than Lieutenant Anderson, and with him was Captain Derevaux.
All four expressed their pleasure at this unexpected meeting, and the
boys explained their misfortune.
"How is it you and Captain Derevaux didn't get away?" Chester
Captain Derevaux smiled.
"We were so unfortunate as to be recognized by a member of the German
general staff at the station this morning," he explained, "and we were
detained. But," he added grimly, "we are not figuring upon remaining in
"What do you propose to do?" asked Hal and Chester in a breath.
"Oh, Anderson and I have a little plan whereby we shall make ourselves
scarce on this side of the border," answered the captain. "We are
planning to get out of Berlin soon after nightfall."
"How?" asked Hal.
"Well," said Lieutenant Anderson, "we haven't perfected our plans yet,
but we have an idea that we believe will take us safely out of
Germany. It may be successful, and it may not. But we are going to
take a chance at it."
"Is it dangerous?" questioned Chester.
"That all depends upon how you look at it," replied the lieutenant, with
a smile. "It may mean a fight," he added seriously, "but we are prepared
for that," tapping the pocket of his civilian coat significantly.
"Yes, it may mean a fight," agreed the French captain, "but an officer of
the French army will not shirk an encounter with these German
"No, nor an English officer," declared the lieutenant. "War between
England and Germany has not been declared yet, but it seems only a
question of hours until it will be."
Hal was suddenly struck with an idea. He turned to the lieutenant.
"Why cannot we go with you?" he asked. "We must get to Brussels as soon
as possible. If we wait here until after the mobilization of all the
German forces, and are unable to send a message to mother, she will be
frantic. Why cannot we go with you?"
The lieutenant was taken aback.
"Why, I know no reason," he said, "except that your presence in our
company, if ill fortune should befall us, would probably mean your arrest
as enemies of Germany. You might even be convicted as spies, and shot."
"We are willing to take any chances necessary to get us to Brussels
and put an end to mother's worries," declared Hal stoutly. "Aren't
"You bet we are," replied Chester.
The lieutenant turned to Captain Derevaux. "What do you say?" he asked.
The captain shook his head.
"It's a bad business," he replied slowly. "If we are caught it will go
hard with our young friends, I am afraid. Of course, I am willing to do
anything in my power to aid them, but this--this, I fear, is impossible."
"Don't say no," implored Hal. "Just think how mother must be worrying.
Why, we would go through anything to save her pain. Besides, you don't
expect to be captured, do you?"
The captain shook his head.
"You have a good plan of escape, I am sure, or you would not tackle it.
Isn't that so?" continued Hal.
The captain admitted it.
"Would our presence make it more dangerous for you?"
"Then, I ask you again, if you won't allow us to go with you, sharing
whatever dangers may arise. Besides," and Hal smiled, "you know that four
are sometimes better than two."
The captain reflected.
"You are right," he said at length. "If Anderson is agreeable, I shall be
glad of your company; yes, and your aid," he added, after a pause.
"I agree with the boys," said the lieutenant. "Four are sometimes better
than two, and in an adventure, such as this promises to be, four are
always better than two. I say, let them come with us, by all means."
And so it was decided. A meeting-place was arranged for eight o'clock
that night, and, with this parting injunction, the officers left:
"Say nothing to anyone. Do not talk, even between yourselves, and, if you
can, buy a revolver apiece," for the purchase of which the lieutenant
tendered Hal a bill.
TOWARD THE FRONTIER.
It was a long afternoon for Hal and Chester, and they waited impatiently
for the time when they were to meet the two young men who were to be
their companions on the journey.
After several futile attempts the lads finally gave up their attempt to
buy revolvers, as it caused too many questions, and, in spite of their
eagerness to get away, it was with no little anxiety that they made their
way to the rendezvous that night.
Captain Derevaux and Lieutenant Anderson were waiting when the
"I am glad you are prompt," said the former. "We must hurry. Even now we
may be followed," and he glanced about furtively.
"Which way do we go?" asked Hal, of the young Englishman, as the four
moved along the street.
"North," was the reply. "We are heading for Kolberg, on the Baltic Sea.
From there we will try to get across into Denmark. The thing to do is to
get out of Germany at the earliest possible moment, and, with good luck
in getting a boat of some kind at Kolberg, that is the quickest route."
"Won't we have trouble getting a boat?"
"I am afraid we shall; but we must leave something to chance."
"Well, I guess we won't be any worse off in Kolberg than in Berlin," said
Hal. "How do you figure to get there?"
"Automobile! We have arranged for a car to pick us up on the northern
outskirts of the city, just inside the line."
"Won't the place be guarded?"
"Of course; but, by a little ingenuity and a bold dash, we should be able
to get through. If not--"
The lieutenant shrugged his shoulders expressively.
"Well," said Hal, "I won't object to a little excitement."
"Don't worry," replied the young officer; "you will have all the
excitement you want, and more, too, or I miss my guess."
They continued their walk in silence.
Beyond getting into Denmark, the young officers had formulated no plan.
But, once out of Germany, the rest would be easy. A ship to England,
and from there into France for the young Frenchman, and the two
American boys would telegraph to their mother, or continue their
journey alone. Lieutenant Anderson was bound direct for London, where
he would join his regiment.
The officers had decided to make their attempt at escape by way of
Denmark because, in all likelihood, the country between Berlin and
Kolberg would be less closely guarded than any other part of the German
Empire. Troops were being rushed to the French and Russian borders, and
they realized it was practically impossible for them to journey in those
directions without being captured. Also the southern route offered little
hope of success.
The streets became more and more deserted as the four friends continued
their walk toward the northern outskirts. They passed several detachments
of rapidly moving troops, but they were unchallenged.
Suddenly the young Englishman called a halt.
"The automobile is waiting at the next corner," he explained. "Just
beyond is the northern limit of the city. Go quietly and we may not be
Hal and Chester were greatly excited by this time, but they obeyed
instructions as well as they could, and climbed into the big car that was
waiting for them, without even being seen. The driver immediately started
the machine, and our boys were on their way at last.
On toward the city line the big car rushed, and it was just as the four
friends were breathing a sigh of relief at having passed the first danger
safely, that a harsh voice rang out:
Almost directly ahead stood a squad of armed men, their rifles leveled
straight at the occupants of the oncoming car.
"The patrol!" exclaimed Captain Derevaux, as the auto came to a stop.
An officer approached the side of the machine.
"Give an account of yourselves," he demanded. "Your passports, please."
"We have none," replied Captain Anderson. "We are just taking a
"You cannot pass here," said the officer. "Either return at once, or I
shall be forced to place you under arrest."
There was no use arguing.
"Home it is, then," said the young Englishman aloud, and then in a
whisper to the driver: "Ahead! Full speed!"
"To the bottom of the car!" he cried, as the machine jumped forward
with a lurch.
He dived to the floor of the car, the young Frenchman and Hal following
Chester, however, had been so surprised at the suddenness of this
maneuver, that for a moment he was unable to move; but, while his
momentary inaction placed him in great danger, it nevertheless saved his
companions from capture, or even death.
As the automobile lunged away, hurling the officer to the side of the
street, the latter shouted a command:
"Fire! Shoot the driver!"
One man only was in a position to obey. The others were forced to jump
for their lives, as the machine bore down on them. This one man, however,
raised his rifle and aimed at the driver, just as the car swept by.
The muzzle was right at the side of the car, and a miss would have been
But, before he could fire, Chester sprang to his feet, and, leaning out,
grasped the barrel of the weapon in both hands. With a desperate effort,
he wrenched it from the soldier's hands, just as he was about to pull
Then, at a second command from Lieutenant Anderson, he dropped beside his
friends in the bottom of the car, and it was well that he did so.
A volley rang out from behind. The hum of bullets could be heard
overhead, and there was the sound of splintering wood, as others crashed
into the rear of the auto, but the machine sped on.
Then came a second volley, and the automobile swerved suddenly to one
side. The chauffeur groaned, but the car immediately righted itself and
continued on its way.
Unmindful of the bullets flying about, Hal sprang to his feet and
climbed into the front seat, where the chauffeur was making heroic
efforts to keep the car steady, a stream of blood the while pouring from
a wound in his head.
"Give me the wheel!" cried Hal, as the car lurched from one side of the
road to the other, at the imminent risk of turning over.
He climbed in front of the chauffeur and his strong hands grasped the
steering wheel just as the man's body relaxed and he fell back
Bullets were still flying thick and fast, but the range was too great now
for accurate shooting. Still, there was always the chance that one of the
leaden messengers would hit Hal and end disastrously the career of the
Without even checking the speed of the auto, Hal called to Chester:
"The chauffeur is badly wounded. Pull him into the rear of the car!"
"Slow down!" came the answer. "We can't pull him from beneath you while
going at this terrific speed."
"Slow down nothing!" shouted Hal. "We don't want to be captured after
this. You'll have to pull him out!"
It was no small task, this driving a flying automobile, while a man in
whose lap he was almost sitting was being pulled from under him by hands
Once Hal lost his balance. Throwing out one hand, he grasped the side of
the car, and that alone saved him and his friends, too, for that matter.
The car swerved to one side of the road, and just at that instant a sharp
curve came into view.
With a desperate effort Hal regained his balance, steadied the
machine, and, without even trying to slacken his speed, took the curve
on two wheels.
"Whew!" he muttered to himself. "That was a close shave!"
By this time the body of the chauffeur had been pulled into the back of
the car, and Hal slid into his seat.
"Are you all right?" came Chester's voice from the rear.
"All right now," replied Hal.
"You can slow down a bit," shouted Lieutenant Anderson. "We are out of
range. We are safe enough now."
"We are safe from bullets, but we are not safe from pursuit," Hal called
back. "Do I keep to this road?"
"Yes," came the reply, "if you don't run into a ditch or a
"Oh, I'll run it, all right; and I'll run it on the road, too," Hal
answered grimly. "I've made a record on a worse road than this."
"Is the chauffeur badly hurt?" he called back after a few minutes.
"No, I don't think so," replied the French captain's voice. "Just a
scalp wound. He has lost a lot of blood, and is still unconscious, but I
think he will come around all right presently."
Hal settled back in his seat and gave his entire attention to the
The big car flashed through several small towns, and the dim lights in
the homes looked like a string of brilliant spots, so swiftly did they go
by. For almost half an hour the terrific speed was continued, and then,
at a shouted command from Lieutenant Anderson, Hal slowed down.
"We should be nearing Angermunde by this time," the lieutenant explained,
"and it will never do to go through there at this speed."
"Do you suppose our would-be captors have communicated with the
authorities at Angermunde?" asked the Frenchman.
"I would not be surprised," replied the lieutenant; "but we must risk it.
One thing I am sure of, however, is that our pursuers are not far behind.
They will never rest till we are caught. And, for that reason, we cannot
afford to waste much time."
"You are right," said the captain. "We must get through Angermunde as
quickly and as quietly as possible."
Then to Hal he shouted: "Don't lose your nerve, and keep cool. Be ready
to make a dash if you get the word."
"Don't you worry about my nerve," Hal replied grimly. "I'll run right
through a thousand Germans, if you say so."
"I guess that will not be necessary," broke in the lieutenant, with a
laugh, "but you never can tell what may happen."
Hal reduced the speed of the machine even more, and slowly approached the
town, the lights of which could be seen in the distance.
It was now nearly midnight, and, as Captain Derevaux suggested, it would
be wise to go through the town without attracting attention, if possible.
But this was not to be.
The automobile entered the town, and had proceeded some distance, when
Hal called back:
"I guess we will get through without any trouble, all right."
"Don't be too sure," replied the Englishman. "Always be ready for the
The words were hardly out of his mouth, when, rounding a sharp turn, Hal
saw a line of cavalrymen blocking the street some distance ahead.
"The road is blocked with troops," he called back to his friends, as he
reduced his speed. "Their rifles seem pointed right at us. Shall I speed
up and run through them?"
His three companions arose and peered over his shoulder. The cavalrymen
were plainly discernible in the glare of an electric street light.
"It's impossible," replied the lieutenant. "We shall have to stop. They
would shoot us to pieces before we could get through. Here," turning to
Chester and Captain Derevaux, "cover up the chauffeur with these rugs
and lay him in the bottom of the car. It would never do for an officer
to see him. It may be that our friends behind have not tipped off our
present enemy, but the sight of this wounded chauffeur would give it all
away." The car was slowly nearing the line of troops. "Halt!" came the
command. "Halt, or we fire!" The car came to a stop within a few feet of
IN DANGER STILL.
It was with no small trepidation that the occupants of the automobile saw
the officer in command approach.
"Keep your wits and say nothing unless you have to," was the young
lieutenant's whispered advice. "Leave the talking to me."
"Where are you from?" asked the officer.
"Berlin," replied the Englishman.
"Where are you bound?"
"Our business is purely private. Two of my companions are young American
lads and the third is a Belgian gentleman. I am an Englishman. You will
interfere with us at your peril."
"In times of war we interfere with whom we choose. A state of war exists
in Germany, as you know."
"There is no state of war between your country and ours."
"Perhaps not, but I am not sure of it; there may be by this time. You
have no passports, I take it?"
"We have not."
"Then I must ask you to leave your machine and come with me."
"For what reason?"
"Because I command it. You are my prisoners."
Turning to an aide, the German officer commanded:
"Call a guard of four men!"
The aide saluted and did as he was ordered. Four of the troopers who
blocked the road dismounted and ranged themselves beside the car.
"Order Lieutenant Myers to take his men and report to Major Von Volk,"
commanded the German officer of his aide.
The troopers, with the exception of the four who guarded the car, wheeled
and rode away.
The officer turned again to the automobile.
"Leave the car," he ordered the four occupants.
"He evidently hasn't been tipped off," whispered Lieutenant Anderson to
his companions, as they left the machine.
"No," Hal whispered back, "but the others are likely to be along in a
"Right," came the reply. "We must watch our chance, and, if one comes,
make the most of it."
The four stepped from the automobile, and were immediately surrounded by
"See what they have in the machine," the officer ordered one of the men.
"Great Scott!" ejaculated Chester. "We are in for it now!"
Exploring the front of the auto first, the soldier found nothing. Then he
turned his attention to the back. He lifted up the rugs that had been
thrown over the chauffeur, and started back with a cry.
"A dead man!" he exclaimed, and added: "At least he appears to be dead.
He has a bullet hole in the back of his head."
"What!" demanded the officer, and hurried to the side of the car.
He drew his sword and waved it at his men.
"Guard them closely!" he exclaimed, indicating his four prisoners.
"Pretty ticklish situation," whispered Hal to Chester, who stood beside
him. "We have got to do something."
"You bet," replied Chester, "and we've got to do it now."
He took off his cap, twirled it about a few seconds, and let it fall to
Chester stooped to pick it up. Rising suddenly, he came up under the
guard of his nearest captor, and with his head butted him with all his
force under the chin.
The blow was more than flesh and blood could stand. The soldier fell to
the ground with a groan of pain, his tongue almost bitten off. Without a
pause, Chester turned upon another of his captors, and, with two
well-directed blows of his fist, sent him staggering.
The suddenness of Chester's attack had not taken Hal by surprise. When
Chester dropped his cap, Hal divined his purpose, and, as his friend
butted his first victim, Hal acted. Turning upon his nearest guard, he
seized the latter's rifle, at the same time delivering a well-directed
kick at his enemy's shin. The man released his hold on the rifle, and, as
he stooped unconsciously to rub his shin, the pain of which was almost
unbearable, he met Hal's right fist, which, sent into his face with
stunning force, knocked him cold.
All this happened in the smallest fraction of the time it takes to tell
it, and, before the German officer and the soldier who were exploring the
interior of the automobile could realize what was happening and go to the
aid of their companions.
Captain Derevaux and Lieutenant Anderson had acted with almost as much
celerity as had Hal, in spite of the fact that Chester's attack had taken
them by surprise. Almost at the same moment Hal seized the weapon of his
guard Captain Derevaux closed with the third man, and, with his fingers
at his throat, was attempting to choke him into unconsciousness.
At the same moment the German commanding officer and his troops ran to
the aid of their fellows.
"Shoot them!" shouted the officer, drawing his revolver and rushing to
take part in the fray. He already held his sword in his hand.
The soldier drew a revolver.
Hal, having disposed of one enemy, clubbed the rifle he had wrenched
from him, and, before either the German officer or his man could fire,
was in the thick of the melee. Lieutenant Anderson, having picked up a
rifle dropped by one of the German soldiers, was already there, his
weapon also clubbed.
The officer and the trooper were unable to bring their revolvers to bear,
and rushed into the fight with their weapons clubbed.
With a single blow Hal crushed the skull of the soldier, and then turned
upon the officer who was engaging Anderson.
Lieutenant Anderson and his opponent were still battling desperately for
the possession of the latter's gun, and Captain Derevaux and the
remaining German trooper were rolling about upon the ground, the
captain's finger still pressed into his enemy's throat. Chester had gone
to the captain's aid.
Warding off the officer's sword, Anderson suddenly dropped his rifle,
and, stepping inside the other's guard, placed the officer hors de combat
with several well-directed and lightning-like blows to the face and jaw.
At that moment Captain Derevaux's opponent succeeded in shaking off the
captain's grip, and, springing to his feet, leveled his rifle, which he
snatched from the ground as he arose, squarely at the young Frenchman.
With a shout Chester sprang forward, picking up a rifle as he leaped, and
aimed a smashing blow at the man's head. The clubbed weapon found its
mark with a crushing impact, and the man threw up his arms, spun around
two or three times, and then fell in a heap.
And it was not a moment too soon. For, as the last German measured his
length upon the ground, there was a sudden shout, and a body of cavalry,
attracted by the sounds of the conflict, bore down upon the victors.
"Quick!" shouted the lieutenant. "To the machine!" And, with Hal and
Captain Derevaux, he made a rush for the auto.
Chester had stopped to gather up the two revolvers that lay on the
"Go ahead!" he shouted. "I'm coming!" And, picking up the last revolver,
he ran up to the automobile and swung himself aboard, just as Hal, who
had climbed into the driver's seat, threw in the clutch, and the machine
At that moment a volley of shots rang out. The whizzing bullets again
flew around the car, and there was again the sound of splintering wood,
as they smashed into the rear of the auto.
All but Hal dived into the bottom of the car, and he bent as low as
possible over the steering wheel.
Soon the sound of firing became less audible, and finally ceased
Chester, Lieutenant Anderson and Captain Derevaux arose from the bottom
of the car and resumed their seats.
"That's what I call great work, boys," declared the lieutenant, putting
his hand on Hal's shoulder. "If it hadn't been for you, I guess the
captain and I would be locked up by this time. Isn't that so, captain?"
"It certainly is," was the reply. "And had it not been for the prompt
action of Chester in that encounter, France would have lost a captain
Hal and Chester were embarrassed by all this praise.
"That's all right," Hal called over his shoulder. "You would have done
the same for us."
At this moment the chauffeur, who had been almost forgotten in the
"Hello," ejaculated the captain. "Our friend is getting better. Guess we
had better see what we can do for him."
He raised the head of the wounded man to his lap, and wiped the blood
stains from his face, while the lieutenant prepared a bandage. In a few
minutes the chauffeur had recovered sufficiently to drink a little water
and to eat several sandwiches the lieutenant produced from a small but
"Well, I guess we are safe for a little while, at any rate,"
"It looks like it," replied the lieutenant; "but, as I said before, you
never can tell."
They rode cautiously along in silence for a long time; in fact, until the
first streak of dawn appeared in the east. Then, suddenly, the sound of
chug-chugging came from behind.
Chester turned his head and jumped to his feet with a cry:
"We are pursued! Speed up, Hal! Speed up!"
It was true. Far back could be seen a pursuing automobile, and, even from
that distance, it was apparent it was gaining.
Hal "speeded up" and in a short time the pursuing car was out of sight.
Nevertheless, the speed was not diminished.
"I guess they have learned that we can travel some, anyhow," remarked
And just at that moment there was a loud explosion--the car rocked
crazily, and Hal brought it to a stop.
"Tire blown out," exclaimed the French captain, in despair. "Now we are
up against it. What shall we do?"
"Fix it," retained Chester briefly.
He got out, and the rest, including the wounded chauffeur, followed suit.
At that moment Chester bethought himself of the pursuing machine, and
"We haven't time. Our pursuers will be upon us."
"You are right," said the captain, "but I have an idea."
The place in which they had stopped was shaded upon both sides by great
trees. As far as could be seen the woods continued. A hundred yards back
over the road they had traversed was a sharp curve, hiding any
approaching vehicle from sight. Ahead, the road stretched out in a
straight line for a considerable distance.
"I figure this way," said the captain hurriedly, "the machine as it is is
doing us no good, is it?"
"It certainly is not," replied the lieutenant.
"And, if we wait here long enough to fix it it won't do us any good
either, will it?"
"Then my idea is this: Head the machine straight down the road, lash
the wheel fast and start her off. If I am not mistaken, it will run
along the road at least to the next curve. Even from here you can see
the steep embankment at the curve. When the machine hits that curve it
will go over.
"Now, if that embankment is as steep as it looks, the car, when it hits
the bottom, will be out of sight. In the meantime, we hide here until our
pursuers pass. The chances are they will continue past the curve, never
seeing the wreckage at the bottom of the embankment, believing we are
still ahead of them. Then we can continue our journey afoot. What do you
think of that idea?"
"I think it is first-rate," declared Hal, and the others agreed with him.
"But won't they discover, when they reach the next town, that we haven't
passed through?" asked Chester.
"They probably will," was the reply; "but we will cross that bridge when
we come to it. Besides, there is little doubt in my mind that the
authorities in the next town know of our coming. We couldn't be so
fortunate a second time."
Accordingly the plan suggested was carried out. Hal elected to get in the
car and start it, and, as it took a flying leap forward, he hurled
himself from the machine to the soft grass beside the road. He was
considerably shaken up, but not badly hurt.
Then the five stood and watched the car in its mad flight down the road.
"I hope that the fact of a tire being bursted won't stop it's sticking to
the road," said Chester.
Fortunately the car continued its journey in as straight a line as the
best chauffeur in the world could have driven, and the five companions
strained their eyes as it neared the distant curve.
"It's almost there!" cried Hal. "I hope it makes a good jump; and I hope
that embankment is steep."
"And I hope that she makes her leap before our pursuers heave in sight,
which is more to the point," declared Chester.
Again they strained their eyes, watching the flight of the mad car. And
then the car reached the embankment.
"There she goes!" cried Chester, and the big machine, as though making a
desperate leap, hurled itself into space, where it soared for a moment
like a huge bird, and then disappeared from sight.
"Well, it's gone," said the lieutenant sorrowfully; "and now it's up to
us to hoof it, to the next town, at least."
The five moved into the woods and just as they gained the first dense
covering there was a sound from the road over which they had come.
Dropping to the ground, they peered between the trees. Presently a second
huge car, in which could be caught a glimpse of uniforms, rounded the
curve, flashed by, and disappeared down the road.
"Let's go farther into the woods," urged Chester. "We might be
Going deeper and deeper in among the trees the five continued their
journey; and, when they felt sure they had penetrated far enough to avoid
any chance of detection, they turned their faces northward and set out at
a brisk pace.
All morning the journey through the woods continued. At intervals the big
trees became more sparse, and the party took all precautions against
being seen, as they flitted through the open places.
About noon, Lieutenant Anderson made a foraging expedition, and returned
with a basket of food, which he had purchased from a nearby farmhouse.
Hungrily the five disposed of it, quenching their thirst from a sparkling
brook of cool water. Then they resumed their march.
Night was falling when the travelers at length emerged from the woods.
Half a mile ahead could be seen the lights of a town.
Lieutenant Anderson called a consultation.
"If I mistake not," he said, "those lights indicate the town of
Stettin. We shall have to be very careful. They are bound to be on the
lookout for us."
"Has anyone a plan?" he asked, after some further talk.
"I think I have one," returned Hal. "It might work out all right"
"Let's hear it," demanded Chester.
"Yes," chorused the others, "what is it?"
"Well," said Hal, "my idea is that it would be much better for us to
separate. If we all approach together we are sure to be recognized. Our
number alone would give us away. But, if we go singly, or by twos, from
different directions, we stand a chance of gaining the city without being
"A good idea," exclaimed Captain Derevaux; "I heartily approve of it."
"And I, too," declared the young lieutenant; "and I recommend that we put
the plan into execution at once."
The lone dissenting voice came from the wounded chauffeur.
"I don't know your plans, gentlemen," he said; "and I don't want to know
them. I have had trouble enough. I am a German, and, from what I have
heard, although I know I should look upon you as enemies of my country,
I do not believe you mean any harm. Besides, you have treated me well,
and I will not betray you. But I must ask that you leave me here. I will
make my way into the town some time during the night I shall be
"Had we not better make him go with us?" questioned Chester. "Is he not
likely to betray us?"
"No; I am sure he would not," said Hal.
"And I," agreed the French captain.
"I am a little inclined to doubt the advisability of leaving him behind,"
said Lieutenant Anderson, "but--"
"Sir!" broke in the chauffeur. "I am just as much a gentleman as you are,
and my word is my bond!"
The young Englishman's face flushed.
"Forgive me!" he exclaimed, extending his hand. "I am sorry for my
unreasonable doubts. I am sure that you can be trusted."
"I believe that our friend's decision simplifies matters exceedingly,"
"In what way?" demanded the lieutenant.
"In the first place, it makes one less of us. And, again, it does away
with the necessity of one of us approaching the town alone, which is
also a good thing. While for two to approach the town is much better
than four, under the circumstances, two are also better than one, for
the reason that they can give a good account of themselves should
"Which is good reasoning," declared Captain Derevaux. "I agree with you."
"I suggest," said Lieutenant Anderson, "that one of the boys go with you,
captain, and the other with me. I shall go back a short distance into the
woods, make a detour, and enter the town from the west."
"Another good idea," replied the captain. "Hal and I will wait here half
an hour after you have gone, and will reach the town from this side at
about the time you and Chester arrive."
"Where shall we meet?"
"I believe the best plan would be to meet in the hotel. Whichever of us
arrives first will wait for the others."
"Good," said the lieutenant. "The best part of that idea is that,
providing we get into the town safely, the hotel will be the least likely
place our pursuers will look for us. They probably will figure we will
sneak along the outskirts."
"Sure," broke in Chester. "But how are we to get out of the town? Won't
the other side be so closely guarded that we can't get through?"
"Yes, I suppose they will be laying for us, all right, but we shall have
to leave that to luck. The thing to do now is to get in. We will get out
as best we may."
"Right," declared Hal; "and I guess that, as long as we are going, we
might as well go now. The sooner we start the better, is the way I
look at it."
Chester and the lieutenant said good-by to the chauffeur, and then
Chester turned to Hal and held out his hand.
"In case--" he said, as they gripped, and a moment later he and the young
lieutenant were gone.
Hal, Captain Derevaux and the chauffeur reentered the woods, where they
sat down to wait the half hour agreed upon.
As his chum's form disappeared from sight, striding rapidly along beside
the gallant lieutenant, Hal experienced a peculiar sinking sensation in
the region of his stomach, while his heart throbbed jerkily, and he
turned faint. For almost the first time he realized the real seriousness
of the situation.
"Good old Chester!" he said to himself. "I hope nothing happens to him. I
wish I could take all the danger upon my own shoulders."
In vain did he try to shake off the feeling of uneasiness that oppressed
him; and it was with a heavy heart at the absence of his friend that he
found himself bidding the chauffeur good-by, when Captain Derevaux roused
him from his reverie and announced that it was time for them to be on
Striking out from their shelter, the two approached the town boldly. They
walked silently and swiftly.
It was now quite dark, but the gleam of a full moon made their figures
plainly discernible. At the edge of the town they unconsciously breathed
easier and quickened their step.
Just passing the first house inside the city, they heard the sound of
running footsteps behind them. Hal looked over his shoulder. A uniformed
figure was hurrying after them.
"Run!" cried Hal to his companion, and he suited the action to the word.
The captain also broke into a quick run.
A command of "Halt!" behind them went unheeded, and the two friends sped
over the ground, heading for the friendly shelter of the first cross
street that was now but a few yards away.
Slackening their speed but a trifle, they rounded the corner just as the
sharp crack of a rifle rang out. Around a second corner they dodged, and
another, and still another.
Stopping a moment to gain a much-needed breath, they could hear the
sounds of great confusion, and again they broke into a quick run.
"The whole town will be aroused and on our track in a few minutes,"
panted Hal. "We will have to lose ourselves some way awfully quick."
Luckily, the streets they had traversed so far had been deserted. But as
they rounded another corner they saw a crowd of men coming rapidly
"I guess it's all up," exclaimed Hal, and the two slowed to a walk.
The crowd moved rapidly, and they advanced to meet it.
"No use running," said the captain. "We will try to bluff it out."
The first man of the crowd to reach them stopped.
"What's the row back there?" he asked.
"Just a street fight, I guess," replied Hal. "We didn't stop to see."
"More than likely some Frenchman has been rounded up," said the man.
"Better come along and see the fun," and he broke into a trot again.
"We had better make a bluff at going," said Hal to the captain, as he
noticed that some of the crowd eyed them queerly.
Turning, they joined the crowd, and began to retrace their steps. They
went slowly, however, and the crowd gradually drew away from them. At
last, finding themselves behind the last man, they turned suddenly into a
side street and broke into a run again.
Turning another corner, they slowed down to a walk.
"We had better get away from here," exclaimed the Frenchman. "They will
be back after us in a minute."
They continued their walk, still stepping along at a rapid pace, and at
length emerged, without further difficulty, into a brilliantly lighted
street, which, they learned, was the main thoroughfare of the town.
Mingling with the crowd, they were soon comparatively safe.
"The thing to do now is to find out where the hotel is," said the
Stopping in an open shop, Hal made an inquiry.
"Two blocks ahead," was the reply, and following directions, Hal and the
captain soon came upon a large, though unpretentious, hotel. They went in
and sat down in the rotunda. Chester and the lieutenant had not arrived,
and once more Hal felt that queer sinking sensation in his stomach.
"If anything has happened to Chester," he mused, "I don't know what I
But his anxiety was soon set at rest, for a few moments later Chester and
Lieutenant Anderson appeared in the doorway.
Hal jumped to his feet and seized Chester by the hand.
"I was afraid--" he began in a queer voice, but the lieutenant silenced
him with a gesture.
"Careful!" he whispered.
Hal returned to his seat and Chester and the lieutenant also sat down.
Hal recounted the experience he and the captain had had, and the
"Then we have no time to waste. We must leave here at once."
Rising, the four companions left the hotel.
"We must get something to eat before we go," declared the Frenchman, and
accordingly they dropped into a little restaurant, where they treated the
inner man to his entire satisfaction. Then they went to the street again.
"The best thing we can do is to go straight through the town and out on
the other side--if we can," said the lieutenant, and they turned their
steps toward the north once more.
They reached the northern extremity of the town without difficulty and
just as they were congratulating themselves on their good fortune, Hal
gripped lieutenant Anderson by the arm and whispered:
Not two hundred yards ahead could be seen a line of army huts, extending
on either side as far as the eye could see.
"Ummm," grunted the lieutenant. Then: "Doesn't look like much chance of
getting through here."
At the same instant there came from the rear the sound of the footsteps
of a large body of men approaching with confusion.
"The crowd!" cried Hal.
The lieutenant was a man of action, as already has been seen.
"Follow me!" he exclaimed, and dashed to the right. His three companions
ran after him.
Suddenly the lieutenant stopped and pointed ahead.
"Horses!" he whispered. "Good!"
He advanced more slowly, the others closely behind him.
"If we can cut out four horses," explained the lieutenant, "we will have
a chance. We'll make a dash and trust to luck and the darkness."
Silently they approached the horses, which stood quietly a few yards
away. A sentry passed nearby, and the four companions dropped to the
ground. Fortunately, the sentry did not look in their direction.
"That's what I call luck," whispered Hal.
From behind the sounds of confusion became more audible, indicating the
rapid approach of the crowd. At the same time lights flared up in the
huts, and an officer stepped to the entrance of one only a few feet from
the four friends.
He espied them on the instant, and then the lieutenant acted.
"Quick!" he cried, and jumped toward the horses.
A revolver cracked, and a bullet whined over Hal's head even as he
With a bound all four fugitives were among the horses, and almost with a
single movement each threw himself into a saddle.
But at that moment the camp came to life. Armed men sprang up on
In the very act of digging his heel into his horse's flank, the
lieutenant pulled up.
"It's no use," he said quietly to his friends. "To move is certain
Then came a voice from right before them.
"Surrender!" it cried. "Surrender or you are dead men!"
THE OLD CASTLE.
Lieutenant Anderson raised a hand.
"We surrender," he said quietly.
The officer approached, a revolver held ready for instant use.
"Dismount!" he ordered shortly.
The four companions slid to the ground. A squad of soldiers
"Search them for arms," was the next command, and they were relieved of
"To the castle!" ordered their captor. "Forward, march!"
With the four prisoners in the center, the soldiers moved away.
"Looks like we were into it pretty steep this time," said Hal, as they
were being led away.
"Silence!" came the sharp command of the German officer.
They moved along for several minutes without a word except for an
occasional command from the officer.
At length a grim, gray wall loomed before them in the darkness, and
without a stop the prisoners were hurried across a little bridge, led
across a courtyard and escorted within the structure.
A fear-inspiring place it was, but the four captives entered without a
tremor, their heads held high and their step firm. Any spirit of
foreboding they may have felt was not manifested in their carriage.
Down dark and dirty corridors they were led, and after many sharp turns,
their guards stopped before what appeared to be a hole in the side of the
wall. Into this opening the prisoners were thrust without ceremony, and a
door behind them was closed with a bang.
It was several minutes before the four companions could accustom their
eyes to the semi-darkness, but finally they were able to make out the few
objects that furnished the cell, for such it proved to be.
There were three broken chairs and two dirty-looking mattresses, one of
the latter at each end of the cell. Also there was a small table.
"Pretty dismal looking place, this," remarked the doughty French captain,
after a hasty glance about.
"Dismal and dirty it certainly is," said Hal.
"How long do you suppose we shall have to stay here?" asked Chester.
"Until they get ready to let us out," replied the young English
lieutenant dryly. "Which may not be a very satisfactory answer, but it's
the best I can do."
"What do you suppose they will do with us?" queried Hal.
"You've got me. If they don't take us out and shoot us as spies, we are
likely to lie here till we rot."
"Surely they would be afraid to do that."
"Don't fool yourself that they are afraid to do anything."
"But we can prove we are not spies."
"Can we? How? With the trouble we have made, they won't be able to kill
us off quick enough."
"Well," said Hal hopefully, "maybe something will turn up that will
enable us to convince them."
"I hope so. But if it doesn't turn up soon, we are gone goslings, just as
sure as you're a foot high," and Lieutenant Anderson threw himself down
on one of the evil-looking mattresses, remarking: "Might as well take a
little snooze, anyhow."
"This doesn't look to me like a time to sleep," remarked Hal to Chester,
although he almost envied the coolness with which the young Englishman
accepted his perilous situation.
"Looks to me more like the time to try and find a way out," agreed
Captain Derevaux, however, also flung himself upon one of the mattresses
and he and the lieutenant soon were fast asleep.
In spite of the fact that they had been more than twenty-four hours
without sleep, the two boys were in no mood to close their eyes. As Hal
said, now seemed to be the proper time to expend whatever energies they
had in getting out of their prison.
The boys looked around. There were two small windows to their cell, but
it was plain they were too small to permit of a human body being squeezed
through. Besides, they were barred. Beyond, across a courtyard, could be
seen another wing of the castle. It appeared to be almost in ruins.
Looking from the other window, the boys could discern the bridge which
they had been led across. The bridge spanned a moat, which at one time
had been filled with water. Now it was a mass of growing weeds.
Hal shook the bars at the window through which he was peering, and one
came away in his hand. It had grown loose through age. Still, however,
it was impossible for a man to pass through the window. The opening was
"No chance of getting out here," remarked Hal, turning to Chester, who
stood at the other window.
"Nor here," was the answer. "I couldn't squeeze through to save my life."
"What are we to do, then? I certainly won't let them take me out and
shoot me without a fight."
"No more will I," declared Chester. "I would rather be killed fighting
than to be taken out and stood up against a wall."
"Then if it comes to the worst we will pitch into the guards when they
come to take us out and fight until the end," said Hal.
"We will," agreed Chester. "It would be a much more pleasant death. I
don't think much of walking out and standing over my own grave and
letting somebody shoot at me without a chance to fight back."
They continued their conversation well into the night.
As the first rays of sunlight filtered into their cell a key turned
gratingly in the rusty lock of the door. Captain Derevaux and Lieutenant
Anderson, who now appeared to have been sleeping with one eye open, were
on their feet immediately, and the four friends faced the door.
Slowly the huge door swung outward and a grinning apparition appeared in
the doorway, carrying a vessel of water and a loaf of bread. It was an
old, old negro, and he shuffled forward haltingly. Just outside the door
could be seen half a dozen German soldiers.
Hal and Chester stared at the old negro in speechless amazement. The
sight of the old darky carried them back across the sea to the home of
Hal's Virginia uncle. They forgot their danger for a moment, gazed at
each other and broke into a laugh.
The old negro looked at them in surprise, and with ruffled dignity. He
placed the water and bread upon the table, and drawing himself up,
pointed to them and then commanded:
It was too much for the two lads and they broke into another loud guffaw.
"Well, what do you think of that!" exclaimed Chester. "Here's what looks
like an old plantation negro, and he speaks German."
"Funniest thing I ever heard," gasped Hal between bursts of laughter.
At their words, an expression of amazement passed over the old
"Lawdy! Lawdy!" he exclaimed, a wide grin spreading itself over his
features; "if dese two chilluns ain't 'Mericans," and advancing toward
them he demanded:
"What yo'al doin' hyah? Dey tol' me dey dun captured fo' spies!"
Hal explained briefly.
The old negro rolled his eyes in gaping wonder at the recital.
"Can't you help us, uncle?" asked Chester, as Hal completed his story.
Frightened, the old darky looked around; then began slowly to back toward
the door of the cell, just beyond which stood the line of soldiers.
"Yo'al jes' wait," he spoke in a hoarse whisper. "Ol' Uncle Billy'll see
what he c'n do."
He backed out of the cell as he finished and the door clanged behind him.
"It seems that we have at least one friend," remarked Hal, after Uncle
Billy had gone.
"But what can he do to help us?" demanded the young French captain.
"I don't know," replied Hal; "but you may be sure he will do anything he
can. He will not desert us. He is that kind, and I know the kind well."
"You can bet on that," Chester agreed. "He'll be back before long."
It was nearing the hour of noon when the cell door again swung open.
Believing that Uncle Billy had returned, the two boys jumped to their
feet. But they were disappointed. An officer, whose shoulder straps
proclaimed him a lieutenant, entered. Behind him stood the inevitable
line of soldiers.
He beckoned the prisoners. "Follow me!" he commanded.
"Where to?" demanded Lieutenant Anderson.
"General Steinberg desires your presence."
He stood aside as the captives filed from the cell. Outside the line of
soldiers fell in step behind them.
Our four friends were marched out of the castle and across the field to
the army camp. They were led to a hut rather larger than the rest, which
proclaimed it the headquarters of the commanding officer. They were
ushered inside and their military escort fell back.
General Steinberg sat at a table surrounded by several officers of his
staff. He looked up as the prisoners entered, and unconsciously Captain
General Steinberg jumped to his feet.
"So!" he exclaimed. "A soldier, eh? And an officer, besides. I thought
so! What rank, and to what command are you attached?"
Captain Derevaux drew himself up to his full height.
"Captain of French Rifles!" he said defiantly.
"And what are you doing within our lines in civilian clothes, may I ask?"
demanded the general, with a sneer. "Spying, eh?" he continued without
waiting for a reply. "I thought so. Are your companions also spies?"
"We are not spies," declared the captain vehemently. "I was stranded in
Berlin and was trying to make my way out of the country so as to join my
"And why should we allow you to leave the country and join our foes? Did
you report yourself to the authorities in Berlin when war was declared?"
"And why, may I ask?"
"Because I had already received orders to join my regiment, and I did not
propose to be detained."
The general waved him aside and turned to Lieutenant Anderson.
"And you are also an officer, perhaps, eh?" he questioned.
"I am," replied the lieutenant boldly. "I hold his British majesty's
commission as a lieutenant of Dragoons."
"Another spy, eh?"
"No; I am no spy, and you do not dare treat me as one."
"I don't? You shall see. Stand aside!"
The general turned to Hal and Chester.
"And you," he said, "you both look over young to be taking the risk of
spies. How do you come to be mixed up in this business?"
"Why did you not submit to arrest in Angermunde?"
"Because we feared we would be detained."
"And is that a sufficient cause for attacking a squad of German troops?"
"We considered it so," replied Hal.
"Enough!" exclaimed General Steinberg. "It is my belief you are all
spies. You shall be shot to-morrow at sunrise!"
Turning to the officer who had escorted them to his hut, he commanded:
"Return them to their cell and see that they are well guarded!"
"But, general," the young captain spoke up, "these boys are in no way to
blame. They are perfectly innocent!"
"Shoot us if you like, but spare them," pleaded the lieutenant.
"Bah!" exclaimed the general. "One is as guilty as the other!"
With a wave of his hand he signified that the interview was ended.
"Take them away!" he ordered.
"It's all my fault!" exclaimed Captain Derevaux when they were back
in the cell once more. "I should not have permitted you boys to
"It is not!" denied Hal and Chester together. "Whatever may befall us is
no discredit to you. Had we not come with you, we probably should have
tried to escape the country alone."
"But if you had not been captured in our company you would be in no
danger of being shot," declared Lieutenant Anderson. "I cannot forgive
myself that I consented to your coming."
"Never mind that," said Hal. "You tried to help us, and that we go to our
deaths to-morrow morning is not due to you."
"Fool that I was!" cried the Frenchman. "Had I kept my presence of mind
in Steinberg's hut our position would not be so desperate. It was my
salute that caused all this trouble."
"Come, come, never mind that," soothed Chester. "It couldn't be helped.
Besides, I am sure he had his mind made up to shoot us, anyhow. Let's not
think about it."
It was perhaps an hour later that the huge cell door once more swung
slowly open. Uncle Billy stepped quickly inside and closed the door
"Sh-h!" he whispered, holding up a warning finger and coming close.
Silently he went to the table and, one after another, produced from some
place about his person four revolvers.
"When I brung yo'al yo' dinnah t'night," he explained, "I'se gwine ter
leave de' door open. I'se gwine ter p'tend ter lock it, but it ain't
gwine ter be locked.
"At nine o'clock t'night de' watch am changed, an' fer five minutes there
ain't no guard in de' hall. That am when yo'al slip out an' sneak down
de' hall. When yo'al gits out o' de cas'le, jes' yo'al sneak roun' to de
right, an' dere'll be frien's dere."
Uncle Billy again put a warning finger to his lips.
Hal opened his mouth to ask a question, but with a soft "sh-h" Uncle
Billy silenced him.
Then, after several furtive glances about, the old negro stole quickly
from the cell, closing the door softly behind him.
"What did I tell you!" shouted Hal, when the old negro had taken his
departure. "Didn't I tell you old Uncle Billy wouldn't leave us in
"What do you suppose his plan is?" asked Chester.
"I haven't any idea, but you can depend upon its being a good one."
Captain Derevaux and Lieutenant Anderson were examining the revolvers
Uncle Billy had laid on the table.
"Loaded, all right," remarked the latter.
"At least they won't stand us up against a wall without a fight,"
declared the captain.
"I don't know what Uncle Billy's plan of escape is," said Hal, "but I
am sure it will be successful. I have a lot of confidence in these
"And I, too," declared Chester.
"Well," interrupted the Frenchman, "all we can do now is to wait and hope
for the best."
"We at least have a fighting chance," spoke up the lieutenant, "and
that's more than I ever expected to have again."
"It's a long time between now and nine o'clock," said Chester. "I think
we all had better get some sleep. We are likely to need it before we
"Right," replied the lieutenant. "I guess we had better turn in."
The four lay down upon the dirty mattresses, and with their minds more at
ease were soon asleep.
It was after six o'clock when Uncle Billy once more entered the cell with
their "dinner," which consisted of another vessel of water and a second
loaf of bread.
Hal made a grimace.
"Is that what you call dinner, Uncle Billy?" he demanded. "Why, I'm so
hungry I could eat a fence rail."
Uncle Billy grinned widely.
"Yo'al will git a shore 'nuff dinnah 'fore long," he replied.
"Is everything all right?" asked Chester.
"Yassah, yassah. Everyt'ing am all right. Yo'al jes' do like I tell you,"
and the old darky hastened from the cell.
The four prisoners fell upon the single loaf of bread and devoured
it hungrily. Thirstily they gulped down the water, and then sat
down to wait.
The long hours passed slowly.
"Great Scott!" exclaimed Chester finally. "Won't nine o'clock ever come?"
"Hold your horses and don't get excited," ordered Lieutenant Anderson.
"Impatience won't get us anything."
Chester subsided, and for a time the four sat in silence.
Suddenly the stillness was broken by the faint sound of a distant bell.
The young lieutenant pulled his watch from his pocket. Then he closed the
case with a snap and rose to his feet.