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´╗┐Title: Mary Louise and the Liberty Girls
Author: Baum, L. Frank (Lyman Frank), 1856-1919
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Mary Louise and the Liberty Girls" ***

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Mary Louise
and the Liberty Girls

By
Edith Van Dyne

Author of
"Mary Louise," "Mary Louise in the Country,"
"Mary Louise Solves a Mystery,"
"The Aunt Jane's Nieces
Series," etc.


Frontispiece by
Alice Casey

The Reilly & Lee Co.
Chicago


Copyright, 1918
by
The Reilly & Britton Co.
---
_Made in the U.S.A._



_Mary Louise and the Liberty Girls_



JUST A WORD

The object of this little story is not especially to encourage loyalty
and devotion to one's country, for these are sentiments firmly
enshrined in the hearts of all true American girls. It is rather
intended to show what important tasks girls may accomplish when spurred
on by patriotism, and that none is too humble to substantially serve
her country.

Organizations of Liberty Girls are possible in every city and hamlet in
America, and are effective not only in times of war but in times of
peace, for always their Country needs them--always there is work for
their busy hands.

One other message the story hopes to carry--the message of charity
towards all and malice towards none. When shadows are darkest, those
who can lighten the gloom are indeed the blessed ones.

EDITH VAN DYNE


CONTENTS

I     THE MASS-MEETING
II    MARY LOUISE TAKES COMMAND
III   THE LIBERTY GIRLS
IV    THE TRAITOR
V     UNCONVINCING TESTIMONY
VI    TO HELP WIN THE WAR
VII   THE LIBERTY SHOP
VIII  THE DETECTIVE'S DAUGHTER
IX    GATHERING UP THE THREADS
X     THE EXPLOSION
XI    A FONT OF TYPE
XII   JOSIE BUYS A DESK
XIII  JOE LANGLEY, SOLDIER
XIV   THE PROFESSOR IS ANNOYED
XV    SUSPENDERS FOE SALE
XVI   MRS. CHARLEWORTH
XVII  THE BLACK SATCHEL
XVIII A HINT FROM ANNIE BOYLE
XIX   THE PRINTING OFFICE
XX    ONE GIRL'S WITS
XXI   SUPRISES
XXII  A SLIGHT MISTAKE
XXIII THE FLASHLIGHT
XXIV  AFTER THE CRISIS
XXV   DECORATING
XXVI  KEEPING BUSY

Mary Louise
and the Liberty Girls

CHAPTER I
THE MASS-MEETING

One might reasonably think that "all Dorfield" had turned out to attend
the much advertised meeting. The masses completely filled the big
public square. The flaring torches, placed at set intervals, lighted
fitfully the faces of the people--faces sober, earnest, thoughtful--all
turned in the direction of the speakers' platform.

Mr. Peter Conant, the Chairman, a prominent attorney of Dorfield, was
introducing the orator of the evening, Colonel James Hathaway, whose
slender, erect form and handsome features crowned with snow-white hair,
arrested the attention of all.

"You have been told," began the old colonel in a clear, ringing voice,
"of our Nation's imperative needs. Money must be provided to conduct
the great war on which we have embarked--money for our new army, money
for ship-building, money for our allies. And the people of America are
permitted to show their loyalty and patriotism by subscribing for
bonds--bonds of the rich and powerful United States--that all may
participate in our noble struggle for the salvation of democracy and
the peace of the world. These bonds, which you are asked to buy, bear
interest; you will be investing in the Corporation of Right, Justice
and Freedom, with the security of the Nation as your shield. As a
stockholder in this noblest of corporations you risk nothing, but you
gain the distinction of personally assisting to defeat Civilization's
defiant and ruthless enemy."

Loud applause interrupted the speaker. On one of the rows of seats at
the back of the stand sat Mary Louise Burrows, the granddaughter of
Colonel Hathaway, with several of her girl friends, and her heart
leaped with pride to witness the ovation accorded her dear "Gran'pa
Jim."

With well chosen words the old gentleman continued his discourse,
stating succinctly the necessity of the Liberty Bond issue and
impressing upon his hearers the righteousness of the cause for which
this money was required.

"The allotment of Dorfield," he added, "is one million dollars,
seemingly a huge sum for our little city to raise and invest, but
really insignificant when apportioned among those who can afford to
subscribe. There is not a man among you who cannot without hardship
purchase at least one fifty-dollar bond. Many of you can invest
thousands. Yet we are approaching our time limit and, so far, less than
two hundred thousand dollars' worth of these magnificent Liberty Bonds
have been purchased in our community! But five days remain to us to
subscribe the remaining eight hundred thousand dollars, and thereby
preserve the honor of our fair city. That eight hundred thousand
dollars will be subscribed! We _must_ subscribe it; else will the
finger of scorn justly be pointed at us forever after."

Another round of applause. Mr. Conant, and Mr. Jaswell, the banker, and
other prominent members of the Liberty Loan Committee began to look
encouraged and to take heart.

"Of course they'll subscribe it!" whispered Mary Louise to her friend
Alora Jones. "The thing has looked like a failure, lately, but I knew
if Gran'pa Jim talked to the slackers, they'd see their plain duty.
Gran'pa Jim knows how to stir them to action."

Gradually the applause subsided. The faces of the multitude that
thronged about the stand seemed to Mary Louise stern and resolved,
determined to prove their loyalty and devotion to their country.

And now Mr. Jaswell advanced and seated himself at a table, while Mr.
Conant requested those present to come forward and enter their
subscriptions for the bonds. He urged them to subscribe generously, in
proportion to their means, and asked them not to crowd but to pass in
line across the platform as swiftly as possible.

"Let us raise that entire eight hundred thousand to-night!" shouted the
Colonel, in clarion tones. Then the band struck up a popular war tune,
and the banker dipped a pen in ink and held it ready for the onslaught
of signers.

But no one came forward. Each man looked curiously at his neighbor but
stood fast in his place. The city, even to its furthermost suburbs, had
already been systematically canvassed by the Committee and their
efforts had resulted in a bare two hundred thousand dollars. Of this
sum, Colonel Hathaway had himself subscribed twenty-five thousand.
Noting the hesitation of his townsmen, the old gentleman again arose
and faced them. The band had stopped playing and there was an ominous
silence.

"Let me encourage you," said Colonel Hathaway, "by taking another
twenty-five thousand dollars' worth of these wonderful bonds. Put me
down for that amount, Mr. Jaswell. Now, then, who are the patriots
eager to follow my lead!"

There was applause--somewhat more mild in character--but none came
forward. Alora's father, Jason Jones, who had already signed for fifty
thousand dollars, rose and added another twenty-five thousand to that
sum. This act elicited another ripple of applause; more questioning
looks were exchanged between those assembled, but there were no further
offers to subscribe.

The hearts of the committeemen fell. Was this meeting, on which they
had so greatly depended, destined to prove a failure, after all?

Jake Kasker, the owner of "Kasker's Clothing Emporium," finally made
his way to the platform and mounting the steps faced his townspeople.
There was a little murmur of surprise and a sudden tension. The man had
been distrusted in Dorfield, of late.

"You all know what I think about this war," said Kasker in a loud voice
and with a slight German accent. "I don't approve of it, whatever
anyone says, and I think we were wrong to get into it, anyhow."

A storm of hisses and cries of "Shame!" saluted him, but he waited
stolidly for the demonstration to subside. Then he continued:

"But, whatever I think about the war, I want to tell you that this flag
that now waves over my head is as much _my_ flag as it is _yours,_ for
I'm an American citizen. Where that flag goes, Jake Kasker will follow,
no matter what fools carry the standard. If they don't think I'm too
old to go to France, I'll pack up and go to-morrow. That's Jake
Kasker--with a Dutch name but a Yankee heart. Some of you down there got
Yankee names an' hearts that make the Kaiser laugh. I wouldn't trade
with you! Now, hear this: I ain't rich; you know that; but I'll take
two thousand dollars' worth of Liberty Bonds."

Some one laughed, jeeringly. Another shouted:

"Make it three thousand, Jake!"

"I will," said Kasker; "and, if there ain't enough of you war-crazy,
yellow-hearted patriots in Dorfield to take what we got to take, then
I'll make it five thousand. But if I have to do that--an' I can't
afford it, but I'll do it!--it's me, Jake Kasker, that'll cry 'Shame!'
and hiss like a goose whenever you slackers pass my door."

There was more laughter, a few angry shouts, and a movement toward the
platform. The German signed the paper Mr. Jaswell placed before him and
withdrew. Soon there was a line extending from the banker's table to
the crowd below, and the signatures for bonds were slowly but steadily
secured.

Colonel Hathaway faced the German clothier, who stood a few paces back,
a cynical grin upon his features.

"Thank you, Kasker," said the old gentleman, in a cold voice. "You have
really helped us, although you should have omitted those traitorous
words. They poisoned a deed you might have been proud of."

"We don't agree, Colonel," replied Kasker, with a shrug. "When I talk,
I'm honest; I say what I think." He turned and walked away and Colonel
Hathaway looked after him with an expression of dislike.

"I wonder why he did it?" whispered Mary Louise, who had overheard the
exchange of words and marked Kasker's dogged opposition.

"He bought the bonds as a matter of business," replied Laura Hilton.
"It's a safe investment, and Kasker knows it. Besides that, he may have
an idea it would disarm suspicion."

"Also," added Alora Jones, "he took advantage of the opportunity to
slam the war. That was worth something to a man like Kasker."


CHAPTER II
MARY LOUISE TAKES COMMAND

When Mary Louise entered the library the next morning she found her
grandfather seated at the table, his head resting on his extended arms
in an attitude of great depression. The young girl was startled.

"What is it, Gran'pa Jim?" she asked, going to his side and laying a
hand lovingly on his shoulder.

The old gentleman looked up with a face drawn and gray.

"I'm nervous and restless, my dear," he said; "that's all. Go to
breakfast, Mary Louise; I--I'll join you presently."

She sat down on the arm of his chair.

"Haven't you slept well, Gran'pa?" she asked anxiously, and then her
eyes wandered through the open door to the next room and rested on the
undisturbed bed. "Why, you haven't slept at all, dear!" she cried in
distress. "What is wrong? Are you ill?"

"No, no, Mary Louise; don't worry. I--I shall be all right presently.
But--I was terribly disappointed in last night's meeting, and--"

"I see. They didn't subscribe what they ought to. But you can't help
that, Gran'pa Jim! You did all that was possible, and you mustn't take
it so much to heart."

"It is so important, child; more important, I fear, than many of them
guess. This will be a desperate war, and without the money to fight--"

"Oh, the money'll come, Gran'pa; I'm sure of that. If Dorfield doesn't
do it's duty, the rest of the country will, so you mustn't feel badly
about our failure. In fact, we haven't failed, as yet. How much did
they subscribe last night?"

"In all, a hundred and thirty thousand. We have now secured barely a
third of our allotment, and only five days more to get the balance!"

Mary Louise reflected, eyeing him seriously.

"Gran'pa," said she, "you've worn yourself out with work and worry.
They ought not to have put you on this Liberty Bond Committee; you're
too old, and you're not well or strong enough to endure all the anxiety
and hard work."

"For the honor of--"

"Yes, I know, dear. Our country needs you, so you mustn't break down.
Now come and drink a cup of coffee and I'll talk to you. I've a secret
to tell you."

He smiled, rather wanly and hopelessly, but he permitted the girl to
assist him to rise and to lead him to the breakfast room. There Mary
Louise poured his coffee and attacked her own breakfast, although with
indifferent appetite.

Gran'pa Jim was the only relative she had in all the world and she
loved him devotedly. Their life in the pretty little town had been
peaceful and happy until recently--until the war. But the old Colonel,
loyal veteran that he was, promptly made it _his_ war and was roused as
Mary Louise had never seen him roused before. In his mind was no
question of the justice of our country's participation in the world
struggle; he was proud to be an American and gloried in America's
sacrifice to the cause of humanity. Too old to fight on the
battlefield, he felt honored at his appointment to the membership of
the Liberty Bond Committee and threw all his energies into the task
assigned him. So it is easy to understand that the coldness and
reluctance to subscribe for bonds on the part of his fellow townsmen
had well nigh broken his heart.

This the girl, his closest companion, fully appreciated.

"Gran'pa," she said, regarding him across the table after their old
black mammy, Aunt Sally, had left them together, "I love my country, as
you know; but I love _you_ better."

"Oh, Mary Louise!"

"It's true; and it's right that I should. If I had to choose between
letting the Germans capture the United States, or losing you, I'd let
the Germans come! That's honest, and it's the way I feel. Love for
one's country is a fine sentiment, but my love for you is deeper. I
wouldn't whisper this to anyone else, for no one else could understand
it, but you will understand it, Gran'pa Jim, and you know my love for
you doesn't prevent my still being as good an American as the average.
However," continued the young girl, in a lighter tone, "I've no desire
to lose you or allow the Germans to whip us, if I can help it, so I've
got two battles to fight. The truth is, Gran'pa, that you're used up
with the hard work of the last few weeks, and another five days of
begging for subscriptions would wreck you entirely. So you're to stop
short--this very minute--and rest up and take it easy and not worry."

"But--my dear!"

"See here, Gran'pa Jim," with assumed sternness, "you've worked hard to
secure Dorfield's quota, and you've failed. Why, the biggest
subscribers for bonds in the whole city are you and Jason Jones!
There's plenty of wealth in Dorfield, and over at the mills and
factories are thousands of workmen who can buy bonds; but you and your
Committee don't know how to interest the people in your proposition.
The people are loyal enough, but they don't understand, and you don't
understand how to make them understand."

"No," he said, shaking his head dolefully, "they're a dense lot, and we
can't _make_ them understand."

"Well, _I_ can," said Mary Louise, cheerfully.

"You, child?"

"Yes. You mustn't imagine I've tackled the problem this very morning;
I've been considering it for some time, and I've talked and consulted
with Alora and Irene and Laura and the other girls about the best way
to redeem the situation. We knew the situation was desperate long
before last night's meeting. So all our plans are made, and we believe
we can sell all the bonds required. It was our policy to keep silent
until we knew what the big mass-meeting last night would accomplish,
but we suspected it would turn out just the way it did--a fizzle. So
the job's up to us, and if you'll sit quiet, Gran'pa Jim, and let us
girls do the work, we'll put Dorfield in the honor column by Saturday
night."

"This is nonsense!" exclaimed the Colonel, but there was an accent of
hope in his voice, nevertheless.

"We girls are thoroughly organized," said Mary Louise, "and we'll sell
the bonds."

"Girls!"

"Why, just think of it, Gran'pa. Who would refuse a group of young
girls--earnest and enthusiastic girls? The trouble with you men is that
you accept all sorts of excuses. They tell you they're hard up and
can't spare the money; there's a mortgage to pay, or taxes or notes to
meet, and they can't afford it, anyway. But that kind of talk won't do
when we girls get after them."

"What arguments can you use that we have disregarded?"

"First, we'll coax; then we'll appeal to their patriotism; then we'll
threaten them with scorn and opprobrium, which they'll richly deserve
if they hang on till it comes to that. If the threats don't make 'em
buy, we'll cry--and every tear will sell a bond!"

The Colonel stirred his coffee thoughtfully.

"You might try it," he suggested. "I've read that in some cities the
Boy Scouts have been successful in placing the bonds. It's an honorable
undertaking, in any event, but--I hope you will meet with no insults."

"If that rank pro-German, Jake Kasker, will buy bonds, there isn't a
man in Dorfield who can give a logical excuse for not doing likewise,"
declared Mary Louise. "I'm going to use Kasker to shame the rest of
them. But, before I undertake this job, I shall make a condition,
Gran'pa. You must stay quietly at home while we girls do the work."

"Oh, I could not do that, Mary Louise."

"You're not fit to leave the house. Will you try my plan for one
day--just for to-day."

"I'll think it over, dear," he said, rising.

She assisted him to the library and then ran down the street to the
doctor's office.

"Dr. McGruer," she said, "go over at once and see my grandfather. He's
completely exhausted with the work of selling Liberty Bonds. Be sure
you order him to keep at home and remain quiet--at least for to-day."


CHAPTER III
THE LIBERTY GIRLS

An hour later six girls met at the home of Alora Jones, who lived with
her father in a fine mansion across the street from Colonel Hathaway's
residence. These girls were prepared to work, and work diligently,
under the leadership of Mary Louise, for they had been planning and
discussing this event for several days, patiently awaiting the word to
start their campaign.

"Some girls," said Mary Louise, "are knitting, and that's a good thing
to do, in a way. Others are making pajamas and pillows for the Red
Cross, and that's also an admirable thing to do. But our duty lies on a
higher plane, for we're going to get money to enable Uncle Sam to take
care of our soldier boys."

"Do--do you think we can make people buy bonds?" asked little Laura
Hilton, with a trace of doubt in her voice.

Mary Louise gave her a severe look.

"We not only can, but we _shall_ make people buy," she replied. "We
shall ask them very prettily, and they cannot refuse us. We've all been
loaded to the brim with arguments, if arguments are necessary, but we
haven't time to gossip with folks. A whole lot of money must be raised,
and there's a short time to do it in."

"Seems to me," remarked Edna Barlow, earnestly, "we're wasting time
just now. Let's get busy."

"Well, get on your costumes, girls," suggested Alora Jones. "They are
all here, in this big box, and the banners are standing in the hall.
It's after nine, now, and by ten o'clock we must all be at work."

They proceeded to dress themselves in the striking costumes they had
secretly prepared; a blue silk waist with white stars scattered over
it, a red-and-white striped skirt, the stripes running from waistband
to hem, a "Godess of Liberty" cap and white canvas shoes. Attired in
this fashion, the "Liberty Girls," as they had dubbed themselves,
presented a most attractive and patriotic appearance, and as they filed
out through the hall each seized a handsome silken banner, gold
fringed, which bore the words: "Buy Bonds of Dorfield's Liberty Girls."

"Now, then," said Mary Louise, "we have each been allotted a certain
district in the business part of the city, for which we are
individually responsible. Each one knows what she is expected to do.
Let no one escape. If any man claims to have already bought bonds, make
him buy more. And remember, we're all to meet at my house at one
o'clock for luncheon, and to report progress."

A block away they secured seats in a streetcar and a few minutes
thereafter reached the "Four Corners," the intersection of the two
principal streets of Dorfield. But on the way they had sold old
Jonathan Dodd, who happened to be in the car and was overawed by the
display of red-white-and-blue, two hundred dollars' worth of bonds. As
for old man Dodd, he realized he was trapped and bought his limit with
a sigh of resignation.

As they separated at the Four Corners, each to follow her appointed
route, many surprised, if not startled, citizens regarded the Liberty
Girls with approving eyes. They were pretty girls, all of them, and
their silken costumes were really becoming. The patriots gazed
admiringly; the more selfish citizens gave a little shiver of dismay
and scurried off to escape meeting these aggressive ones, whose
gorgeous banners frankly proclaimed their errand.

Mary Louise entered the bank on the corner and made inquiry for Mr.
Jaswell, the president.

"We're off at last, sir," she said, smiling at his bewildered looks,
"and we girls are determined to make the Dorfield people do their full
duty. May we depend upon your bank to fulfill your promises, and carry
those bond buyers who wish to make time payments?"

"To be sure, my dear," replied the banker. "I'd no idea you young
ladies were to wear uniforms. But you certainly look fascinating, if
you're a fair sample of the others, and I don't see how anyone can
refuse to back up our girls in their patriotic 'drive.' God bless you,
Mary Louise, and help you to achieve your noble object."

There were many offices in the building, above the bank, and the girl
visited every one of them. Her appearance, garbed in the national
colors and bearing her banner, was a sign of conquest, for it seemed to
these busy men as if Uncle Sam himself was backing this crusade and all
their latent patriotism was stirred to the depths. So they surrendered
at discretion and signed for the bonds.

Mary Louise was modest and sweet in demeanor; her pleas were as
pleasant as they were persuasive; there was nothing virulent or
dominant in her attitude. But when she said: "Really, Mr. So-and-so,
you ought to take more bonds than that; you can afford it and our
country needs the money," the argument was generally effective, and
when she had smilingly pinned the bond button on a man's coat and
passed on to interview others, she left him wondering why he had bought
more bonds than he ever had intended to, or even provoked with himself
that he had subscribed at all. These were the people who had generally
resisted all former pleadings of the regular committee and had resolved
to ignore the bond sale altogether. But perhaps their chagrin was
equalled by their satisfaction in having been won over by a pretty
girl, whose manner and appearance were alike irresistible.

The men of Dorfield are a fair sample of men everywhere. At this period
the full meaning of the responsibilities we had assumed in this
tremendous struggle was by no means fully realized. The war was too far
away, and life at home was still running in its accustomed grooves.
They could not take the European war to themselves, nor realize that it
might sweep away their prosperity, their liberties--even their homes.
Fear had not yet been aroused; pity for our suffering and hard-pressed
allies was still lightly considered; the war had not struck home to the
hearts of the people as it has since. I doubt if even Mary Louise fully
realized the vital importance of the work she had undertaken.

When the Liberty Girls met at Colonel Hathaway's for a light luncheon,
their eyes were sparkling with enthusiasm and their cheeks rosy from
successful effort. Their individual sales varied, of course, for some
were more tactful and winning than others, but all had substantial
results to report. "We've taken Dorfield by storm!" was their exultant
cry.

"Altogether," said Mary Louise, figuring up the amounts, "we've sold
thirty-two thousand dollars' worth of bonds this morning. That's
encouraging for three hours' work, but it's not enough to satisfy us.
We must put in a busy afternoon and try to get a total of at least one
hundred thousand by to-night. To-morrow we must do better than that.
Work as late as you can, girls, and at eight o'clock we will meet again
at Alora's house and compare results."

The girls needed no urging to resume their work, for already they had
gained confidence in their ability and were inspired to renewed effort.

Mary Louise had optimistic plans for that afternoon's work. She first
visited the big flour mill, where she secured an interview with Mr.
Chisholme, the president and general manager.

"We can't buy bonds," he said peevishly. "Our business is being ruined
by the high price of wheat and the absurd activities of Hoover. We
stand to operate at a loss or else shut down altogether. The government
ought to pay us compensation, instead of asking us to contribute to the
war."

"However, if we fail to win the war," Mary Louise quietly replied,
"your enormous investment here will become worthless. Isn't it better
to lose a little now, for the sake of future winnings, than to
sacrifice the past and future and be reduced to poverty? We are asking
you to save yourself from threatened danger--the national calamity that
would follow our defeat in this war."

He sat back in his chair and looked at the girl in amazement. She was
rather young to have conceived such ideas.

"Well, there's time enough to consider all that," he said, less
gruffly. "You'll have to excuse me now, Miss Burrows. I'm busy."

But Mary Louise kept her seat and redoubled her arguments, which were
logical and straight to the point. Mr. Chisholme's attitude might have
embarrassed her had she been pleading a personal favor, but she felt
she was the mouthpiece of the President, of the Nation, of worldwide
democracy, and would not allow herself to feel annoyed. She devoted
three-quarters of an hour to Mr. Chisholme, who gradually thawed in her
genial sunshine. She finally sold him fifty thousand dollars worth of
Liberty Bonds and went on her way elated. The regular Bond Committee
had labored for weeks with this stubborn man, who managed one of the
largest enterprises in Dorfield, yet they had signally failed to
convince him or to induce him to subscribe a dollar. The girl had
succeeded in less than an hour, and sold him exactly the amount he
should have bought.

The mill subscription was a powerful leverage with which to pry money
from other reluctant ones. Stacks, Sellem & Stacks, the big department
store heretofore resisting all appeals, bought from Mary Louise bonds
to the amount of twenty-five thousand; the Denis Hardware Company took
ten thousand. Then Mary Louise met her first serious rebuff. She went
into Silas Herring's wholesale grocery establishment and told Mr.
Herring she wanted to sell him bonds.

"This is outrageous!" cried Herring indignantly. "When the men can't
rob us, or force us to back England in her selfish schemes, they set
girls on us to wheedle us out of money we have honestly earned. This
hold-up game won't work, I assure you, and I advise you to get into
more respectable business. My money is mine; it doesn't belong to the
Allies, and they won't get a cent of it." He was getting more angry as
he proceeded in his harangue. "Moreover," he continued, "our weak
administration can't use me to help it out of the hole it has foolishly
stumbled into, or make America the cat's-paw to pull British chestnuts
out of the fire. You ought to be ashamed, Miss Burrows, to lend
yourself to such unpatriotic methods of bulldozing honest citizens!"

Mary Louise was distressed, but undaunted. The man was monstrously
wrong, and she knew it. Sitting in Mr. Herring's private office at the
time were Professor John Dyer, the superintendent of Dorfield's
schools, and the Hon. Andrew Duncan, a leading politician, a former
representative and now one of the county supervisors. The girl looked
at Professor Dyer, whom she knew slightly, and said pleadingly:

"Won't you defend our administration and our country, Mr. Dyer?"

He smiled deprecatingly but did not speak. He was a tall, lean man,
quite round-shouldered and of studious appearance. He wore double
eyeglasses, underneath which his eyes were somewhat watery. The smile
upon his thin features was a stationary one, not as if assumed, but
molded with the features and lacking geniality.

It was the Hon. Andrew Duncan who answered the Liberty Girl.

"The difference between Mr. Herring and eighty percent of the American
people," said he in stilted, pompous tones, "is that our friend Herring
unwisely voices his protest, while the others merely think--and
consider it the part of wisdom to say nothing."

"I don't believe that!" cried Mary Louise indignantly. "The American
people are loyal to their President. There may be a few traitors; we're
gradually discovering them; but--"

"I am busy," Herring interrupted her, scowling, and he swung his chair
so that his back was toward her.

"You won't be busy long, if you keep talking that way," predicted the
girl.

"Tut-tut!" said the Hon. Andrew, warningly. "Your threats, young lady,
are as unwise as Mr. Herring's speech."

"But they carry more weight," she asserted stoutly. "Do you think any
grocery man in Dorfield would buy goods of Mr. Herring if he knew him
to be disloyal in this, our country's greatest crisis? And they're
going to know it, if I have to visit each one and tell him myself what
Mr. Herring has said."

A tense, if momentary silence, followed, broken by the Professor, who
now said in his smooth, unctuous way:

"Mr. Herring's blunt expression of his sentiments was not intended for
other ears than ours, I am sure. In confidence, one may say many things
to friends which he would prefer to withhold from an indiscriminating
public. We are well assured, indeed, that Mr. Herring is a loyal
American, with America's best interests at heart, but he does not
regard our present national activities as leniently as we do. I have
been endeavoring, in my humble way, to change his attitude of mind,"
here Herring swung around and looked at the speaker stolidly, "and
though I admit he is a bit obstinate, I venture to assure you, Miss
Burrows, that Silas Herring will stand by the Stars and Stripes as long
as there is a shred of our banner to wave in the breeze of freedom,
justice and democracy."

A cynical smile gradually settled on the grocer's stern face. The Hon.
Andrew was smiling with undisguised cheerfulness.

"We are all loyal--thoroughly loyal," said the latter. "I've bought
some Liberty Bonds already, my girl, but you can put me down for a
hundred dollars more. We must support our country in every possible
way, with effort, with money, with our flesh and blood. I have no
children, but my two nephews and a second cousin are now in France!"

"For my part," added Professor Dyer, "I have hesitated as to how much
of my meagre salary I can afford to spend. But I think I can handle
five hundred dollars' worth."

"Thank you," said Mary Louise, somewhat puzzled by these offers. "It
isn't like risking the money; it's a solid investment in the best
securities in the world."

"I know," returned the Professor, nodding gravely, "But I'm not
thinking of that. I'm a poor man, as you probably know, but what I have
is at my country's disposal, since it is evident that my country needs
it."

"Doesn't that shame you, sir?" asked Mary Louise brightly, as she
turned to Silas Herring. "You're a business man, and they say--although
I confess I doubt it--that you're a loyal American. You can convince me
of the fact by purchasing a liberal share of bonds. Then I can forget
your dreadful words. Then I can carry to everyone the news that you've
made a splendid investment in Liberty Bonds. Even if you honestly think
the administration has been at fault, it won't do any good to grumble.
We are in this war, sir, and we've got to win it, that you and every
other American may enjoy prosperity and freedom. How much shall I say
that you have subscribed, Mr. Herring?"

He studied her face, his expression never changing. Mary Louise
wondered if he could read her suspicion and dislike of him, despite her
efforts to smother those feelings in the cause of Liberty. Then Herring
looked at Professor Dyer, who stood meekly, with downcast eyes. Next
the grocer gazed at the supervisor, who smiled in a shrewd way and gave
a brief nod.

Mr. Herring frowned. He drummed nervously with his fingers on his
mahogany desk. Then he reached for his check-book and with grim
deliberation wrote a check and handed it to Mary Louise.

"You've won, young lady," he admitted. "I'm too good an American to
approve what has been done down at Washington, but I'll help keep our
flag waving, as the Professor suggests. When we've won our war--and of
course we shall win--there will be a day of reckoning for every
official who is judged by our citizens to have been disloyal, however
high his station. Good afternoon!"

The first impulse of Mary Louise was to crumple up the check and throw
it in the man's face, to show her resentment of his base insinuations.
But as she glanced at the check she saw it was for ten thousand
dollars, and that meant sinews of war--help for our soldiers and our
allies. She couldn't thank the man, but she bowed coldly and left the
private office. Professor Dyer accompanied her and at the outer door he
said to the girl:

"Silas Herring's heart is in the right place, as you see by his
generous check. Of course, he might have bought more bonds than that,
as he is very wealthy, but he is an obstinate man and it is a triumph
for our sacred cause that he was induced to buy at all. You are doing a
noble work, my child, and I admire you for having undertaken the task.
If I can be of service to you, pray command me."

"Urge everyone you meet to buy bonds," suggested Mary Louise. She did
not care to discuss Silas Herring.

"I'll do that, indeed," promised the school superintendent. But as he
watched her depart, there was a queer expression on his lean face that
it was well Mary Louise did not see.


CHAPTER IV
THE TRAITOR

When the Liberty Girls met that evening at the home of Alora Jones, it
was found that Mary Louise had sold more bonds than any of the others,
although Laura Hilton had secured one subscription of fifty thousand
dollars from the Dorfield National Steel Works, the manager of which
industry, Mr. Colton, was a relative of the girl. Altogether, the day's
work had netted them two hundred and fourteen thousand dollars, and as
soon as she could escape Mary Louise rushed home to report their
success to her grandfather.

"In one day, Gran'pa Jim!" she cried exultantly, and the old colonel's
eyes sparkled as he replied:

"That makes our great mass-meeting look pretty small; doesn't it, my
dear? I consider it wonderful! With four more such days our quota would
be over-subscribed."

"That's what we shall try for," she declared, and then told him who the
biggest bond buyers had been--mostly those who had refused to listen to
the regular Committee or had not been influenced by their carefully
prepared arguments.

"It's just because we are girls, and they are ashamed to refuse us,"
she acknowledged. "It seems like taking an unfair advantage of them, I
know, but those who need urging and shaming, to induce them to respond
loyally to the nation's needs, deserve no consideration. We're not
robbing them, either," she added, "but just inducing them to make a
safe investment. Isn't that true, Gran'pa Jim?"

"What surprises me most," he responded, "is how you ever managed to
load your little head with so much mature wisdom. I'd no idea, Mary
Louise, you were so interested in the war and our national propaganda
for waging it successfully."

"Why, I read the newspapers, you know, and I've listened to you spout
patriotism, and ever since we joined the Allies against Germany, my
girl chums and I have been secretly organized as a band of Liberty
Girls, determined to do our bit in winning the war. This is the first
chance, though, that we've ever had to show what we can do, and we are
very proud and happy to-night to realize that we're backing Uncle Sam
to some purpose."

"This war," remarked the old soldier, thoughtfully, "is bringing the
women of all nations into marked prominence, for it is undeniable that
their fervid patriotism outranks that of the men. But you are mere
girls, and I marvel at your sagacity and devotion, heretofore
unsuspected. If you can follow to-day's success until Saturday, and
secure our quota of subscriptions to the bonds, not only Dorfield but
all the nation will be proud of your achievement."

"We shall do our best," replied the girl, simply, although her cheeks
glowed pink under such praise. "There are enough slackers still to be
interviewed to bring the quota up to the required amount and with
to-day's success to hearten us, I am sure we shall end the week
triumphantly."

Next morning the Liberty Girls sallied forth early, all six aglow with
enthusiasm. Mary Louise consulted her carefully prepared list and found
that her first calf was to be at McGill's drug store. She found Mr.
McGill looking over his morning's mail, but moments were precious, so
she at once stated her errand.

The old druggist glanced up at the girl under his spectacles, noted her
patriotic attire and the eager look on her pretty face, and slowly
shook his head.

"I'm sorry, Miss Burrows, but I can't afford it," he said evasively.

"Oh, Mr. McGill! I'm sure you are mistaken," she replied. "You can
afford insurance, you know, to protect your stock, and this money for
Uncle Sam is an insurance that your home and business will be protected
from the ravages of a ruthless foe."

He stared at her thoughtfully a moment. Then he selected a paper from
his mail and handed it to her.

"Read that," he said briefly.

Mary Louise read it. It was a circular, printed in small, open-faced,
capital type on plain white paper, and unsigned. It said:

"The Treasury Department is asking
us to invest billions in what are termed
Liberty Bonds. It has the 'liberty' to
lend these billions to irresponsible or
bankrupt nations of Europe, who are
fighting an unprofitable war. Some of
our dollars will equip an army of Amer-
ican boys to fight on Europe's battle-
fields. This may be good business. Our
excited politicians down at Washington
may think they are acting for our best
good. But what becomes of the money,
finally? Will our millionaire government
contractors become billionaires when the
money--our money--is spent? Do you
think the days of graft are past and
gone? Have politicians become honest
now that they are handling untold sums?
Let us consider these questions when we
are asked to subscribe for Liberty
Bonds."

"Why, this is treason!" cried Mary Louise, gasping from sheer amazement
and indignation. "It's a--a--treacherous, vile, disloyal insinuation.
Some German spy wrote that, and he ought to be hanged for it!"

The druggist nodded. He picked up the envelope that had contained the
circular and scrutinized it closely.

"Really, it looks like foreign handwriting; doesn't it?" he agreed,
handing her the envelope. "It is postmarked 'Dorfield' and was posted
last evening. The whole town is buzzing about the wonderful work of the
Liberty Girls yesterday. Perhaps your success is responsible for this--
this--opposition."

Mary Louise's cheeks were burning. Her eyes flashed.

"May I keep this--_thing?"_ she asked, with a shudder of disgust as she
thrust the circular into its envelope.

"Certainly, if you wish."

"And will you let an enemy attack like that influence you, Mr. McGill?"

He smiled, rather grimly.

"Yes. I'll invest five hundred in the bonds. I had already decided to
put in a hundred dollars, but for a moment this veiled accusation
bewildered me. You're right; it's treasonable. It will be hard for me
to raise five hundred, just now, but I'll do it. I want that to be my
answer to the German."

Mary Louise thanked him and hurried away. Next door was Lacey's Shoe
Store, and Mr. Lacey was reading a duplicate of that identical circular
when the Liberty Girl approached him.

The man bowed low to Mary Louise, a deference she felt rendered to her
red-white-and-blue uniform.

"Good morning!" he said pleasantly, recognizing the girl as one of his
good customers. "Glad to see you, Mary Louise, for if I give you a good
fat check it may take a nasty taste out of my mouth, acquired by
reading a bit of German propaganda."

"I know, Mr. Lacey," she replied earnestly. "I've seen that circular
before. Do you mind my having it--and the envelope?"

"I wouldn't touch the filth, if I were you," he protested.

"I'm going to run the traitor down," she said. "No man has the right to
live in Dorfield--or in America--who could be guilty of such
disloyalty."

He gave her the circular and his check for Liberty Bonds, and she
passed on to the next store. During the morning Mary Louise discovered
several more of the traitorous circulars. Some merchants would not
admit having received the warning; others, through their arguments,
convinced the girl they had not only read the screed but had been
influenced by it. Perhaps it did not seriously affect her sales of
bonds, but she felt that it did and her indignation grew steadily. By
noon she was tingling with resentment and when she joined the other
Liberty Girls at luncheon, she found them all excited over the circular
and demanding vengeance on the offender--whoever he might happen to be.

"Isn't it dreadful!" exclaimed Lucile Neal, "and what could the person
hope to gain by it?"

"Why, he wanted to kill the Liberty Bond sale," explained Alora Jones.

"A suspicion that this money is to be misapplied, or that officials
will steal part of it, is likely to prevent a lot of foolish people
from investing in the bonds. All this morning I could see that men were
influenced by this circular, which has been pretty generally
distributed."

"Yes; one or two repeated the very words of the circular to me," said
Laura Hilton; "but I just asked them if they considered the United
States able to pay its bonds and they were forced to admit it was a
safe investment, however the money might be used."

"I'd like to know who sent that circular," exclaimed Edna Barlow.

"I'm going to find out!" asserted Mary Louise.

"How, my dear?"

"There must be ways of tracing such a bunch of circulars as were mailed
last evening. I'm going to see the Chief of Police and put him on the
trail."

"Do you know," said Edna, a thoughtful and rather quiet girl, "I
already have a suspicion who the traitor is."

"Who?" an eager chorus.

"I'm not sure I ought to speak his name, for it's only a suspicion and
I may be wrong. It would be an awful thing to accuse one unjustly of
such a dastardly act, wouldn't it? But--think, girls!--who is known to
be against the war, and pro-German? Who did we consider an enemy to the
cause of liberty until--until he happened to buy some bonds the other
night and indulge in some peanut patriotism to disarm a criticism he
knew was becoming dangerous?"

They looked at one another, half frightened at the suggestion, for all
knew whom she meant.

"Perhaps," said Alora, slowly, "Jake Kasker really believes in the
bonds. He certainly set the example to others and led them to buy a lot
of bonds. It doesn't seem reasonable, after that, to credit him with
trying to prevent their sale."

"Those pro-Germans," remarked little Jane Donovan, "are clever and sly.
They work in the dark. Kasker said he hated the war but loved the
flag."

"I'm afraid of those people who think devotion to our flag can cover
disloyalty to our President," said Mary Louise earnestly.

"But the flag represents the President, and Kasker said he'd stand by
the flag to the last."

"All buncombe, my dear," said Edna decidedly. "That flag talk didn't
take the curse off the statement that the war is all wrong."

"He had to say something patriotic, or he'd have been mobbed," was
Lucile's serious comment. "I hadn't thought of Jake Kasker, before, but
he may be the culprit."

"Isn't he the only German in town who has denounced our going into the
European war?" demanded Edna.

"No," said Mary Louise; "Gran'pa has told me of several others; but
none has spoken so frankly as Kasker. Anyhow, there's no harm in
suspecting him, for if he is really innocent he can blame his own
disloyal speeches for the suspicion. But now let us check up the
morning's work and get busy again as soon as possible. We mustn't lose
a single minute."

"And, as we go around," suggested Alora, "let us keep our eyes and ears
open for traces of the traitor. There may be more than one pro-German
in the conspiracy, for the circular was printed by somebody, and there
are several kinds of handwriting on the addressed envelopes we have
gathered. We've no time to do detective work, just now, but we can
watch out, just the same."

Mary Louise did not mention the circular to Colonel Hathaway that
evening, for he was still ill and she did not wish to annoy him.

The next day she found another circular had been put in the mails,
printed from the same queer open-faced type as the first. Not so many
had been sent out of these, but they were even more malicious in their
suggestions. The girls were able to collect several of them for
evidence and were 'more angry and resentful than ever, but they did not
allow such outrageous antagonism to discourage them in their work.

Of course the Liberty Girls were not the only ones in Dorfield trying
to sell bonds. Mr. Jaswell and other bankers promoted the bond sale
vigorously and the regular Committee did not flag in its endeavors to
secure subscriptions. On account of Colonel Hathaway's illness,
Professor Dyer was selected to fill his place on the Committee and
proved himself exceedingly industrious. The only trouble with the
Professor was his reluctance to argue. He seemed to work early and
late, visiting the wealthier and more prosperous citizens, but he
accepted too easily their refusals to buy. On several occasions the
Liberty Girls succeeded in making important sales where Professor Dyer
had signally failed. He seemed astonished at this and told Mary Louise,
with a deprecating shrug, that he feared his talents did not lie in the
direction of salesmanship.

Despite the natural proportion of failures--for not all will buy bonds
in any community--on the fourth day following the mass-meeting
Dorfield's quota of one million was fully subscribed, and on Saturday
another hundred and fifty thousand was added, creating jubilation among
the loyal citizens and reflecting great credit on the Liberty Girls,
the Committee, and all who had labored so well for the cause.

"Really," said Professor Dyer, his voice sounding regretful when he
congratulated the girls, "our success is due principally to your
patriotic organization. The figures show that you secured subscriptions
for over half a million. Dear me, what a remarkable fact!"

"More than that," added Jason Jones, Alora's father, who was a wealthy
artist and himself a member of the Committee, "our girls encouraged the
faltering ones to do their duty. Many a man who coldly turned our
Committee down smiled at the pretty faces and dainty costumes of our
Liberty Girls and wrote their checks without a murmur."

"All the credit is due Mary Louise," declared Alora. "It was she who
proposed the idea, and who organized us and trained us and designed our
Liberty costumes. Also, Mary Louise made the most sales."

"Nonsense!" cried Mary Louise, blushing red. "I couldn't have done
anything at all without the help of you girls. No one of us is entitled
to more credit than the others, but all six of us may well feel proud
of our success. We've done our bit to help Uncle Sam win the war."


CHAPTER V
UNCONVINCING TESTIMONY

On Sunday "Gran'pa Jim," relieved of all worry, felt "quite himself
again," as he expressed it, and the old gentleman strutted somewhat
proudly as he marched to church with his lovely granddaughter beside
him, although her uniform was to-day discarded for a neat tailor-suit.
Mary Louise had always been a favorite in Dorfield, but the past week
had made her a heroine in the eyes of all patriotic citizens. Many were
the looks of admiration and approval cast at the young girl this
morning as she passed along the streets beside the old colonel.

In the afternoon, as they sat in the cosy study at home, the girl for
the first time showed her grandfather the disloyal circulars, relating
how indignant the Liberty Girls had been at encountering such dastardly
opposition.

Colonel Hathaway studied the circulars carefully. He compared the
handwritings on the different envelopes, and when Mary Louise said
positively: "That man must be discovered and arrested!" her grandfather
nodded his head and replied:

"He is a dangerous man. Not especially on account of these mischievous
utterances, which are too foolish to be considered seriously, but
because such a person is sure to attempt other venomous deeds which
might prove more important. German propaganda must be dealt with
sternly and all opposition to the administration thoroughly crushed. It
will never do to allow a man like this to go unrebuked and unpunished."

"What, then, would you suggest?" asked the girl.

"The police should be notified. Chief Farnum is a clever officer and
intensely patriotic, from all I have heard. I think he will have no
difficulty in discovering who is responsible for these circulars."

"I shall go to him to-morrow," decided Mary Louise. "I had the same
idea, Gran'pa Jim; it's a matter for the police to handle."

But when she had obtained an interview with Chief of Police Farnum the
next morning and had silently laid one of the circulars on his desk
before him, an announcement of her errand, Farnum merely glanced at it,
smiled and then flashed a shrewd look into the girl's face.

"Well!" said the Chief, in an interrogative tone.

"Those treasonable circulars have been mailed to a lot of our
citizens," said she.

"I know."

"They are pro-German, of course. The traitor who is responsible for
them ought to be arrested immediately."

"To be sure," replied Farnum, calmly.

"Well, then do it!" she exclaimed, annoyed by his bland smile.

"I'd like to, Miss Burrows," he rejoined, the smile changing to a
sudden frown, "and only two things prevent my obeying your request. One
is that the writer is unknown to me."

"I suppose you could find him, sir. That's what the police are for.
Criminals don't usually come here and give themselves up, I imagine, or
even send you their address. But the city isn't so big that any man,
however clever, could escape your dragnet."

"Thank you for the compliment," said the Chief, again smiling. "I
believe we could locate the fellow, were such a task not obviated by
the second objection."

"And that?"

"If you'll read this circular--there are two others, by the way, mailed
at different times--you will discover that our objectionable friend has
skillfully evaded breaking our present laws. He doesn't assert anything
treasonable at all; he merely questions, or suggests."

"He is disloyal, however," insisted Mary Louise.

"In reality, yes; legally, no. We allow a certain amount of free speech
in this country, altogether too much under present conditions. The
writer of this circular makes certain statements that are true and
would be harmless in themselves were they not followed by a series of
questions which insinuate that our trusted officials are manipulating
our funds for selfish purposes. A simple denial of these insinuations
draws the fangs from every question. We know very well the intent was
to rouse suspicion and resentment against the government, but if we had
the author of these circulars in court we could not prove that he had
infringed any of the existing statutes."

"And you will allow such a traitor as that to escape!" cried Mary
Louise, amazed and shocked.

For a moment he did not reply, but regarded the girl thoughtfully. Then
he said:

"The police of a city, Miss Burrows, is a local organization with
limited powers. I don't mind telling you, however, that there are now
in Dorfield certain government agents who are tracing this circular and
will not be so particular as we must be to abide by established law in
making arrests. Their authority is more elastic, in other words.
Moreover, these circulars were mailed, and the postoffice department
has special detectives to attend to those who use the mails for
disloyal purposes."

"Are any of these agents or detectives working on this case?" asked the
girl, more hopefully.

"Let us suppose so," he answered. "They do not confide their activities
to the police, although if they call upon us, we must assist them. I
personally saw that copies of these circulars were placed in the hands
of a government agent, but have heard nothing more of the affair."

"And you fear they will let the matter drop?" she questioned, trying to
catch the drift of his cautiously expressed words.

He did not answer that question at all. Instead, he quietly arranged
some papers on his desk and after a pause that grew embarrassing, again
turned to Mary Louise.

"Whoever issued these circulars," he remarked, "is doubtless clever. He
is also bitterly opposed to the administration, and we may logically
suppose he will not stop in his attempts to block the government's
conduct of the war. At every opportunity he will seek to poison the
minds of our people and, sooner or later, he will do something that is
decidedly actionable. Then we will arrest him and put an end to his
career."

"You think that, sir?"

"I'm pretty sure of it, from long experience with criminals."

"I suppose the Kaiser is paying him," said the girl, bitterly.

"We've no grounds for that belief."

"He is helping the Kaiser; he is pro-German!"

"He is helping the Kaiser, but is not necessarily pro-German. We know
he is against the government, but on the other hand he may detest the
Germans. That his propaganda directly aids our enemies there is no
doubt, yet his enmity may have been aroused by personal prejudice or
intense opposition to the administration or to other similar cause.
Such a person is an out-and-out traitor when his sentiments lead to
actions which obstruct his country's interests. The traitors are not
all pro-German. Let us say they are anti-American."

Mary Louise was sorely disappointed.

"I think I know who this traitor is, in spite of what you say," she
remarked, "and I think you ought to watch him, Mr. Farnum, and try to
prevent his doing more harm."

The Chief studied her face. He seemed to have a theory that one may
glean as much from facial expression as from words.

"One ought to be absolutely certain," said he, "before accusing anyone
of disloyalty. A false accusation is unwarranted. It is a crime, in
fact. You have no idea, Miss Burrows, how many people come to us to
slyly accuse a neighbor, whom they hate, of disloyalty. In not a single
instance have they furnished proof, and we do not encourage mere
telltales. I don't want you to tell me whom you suspect, but when you
can lay before me a positive accusation, backed by facts that can be
proven, I'll take up the case and see that the lawbreaker is vigorously
prosecuted."

The girl went away greatly annoyed by the Chief's reluctance to act in
the matter, but when she had related the interview to Gran'pa, the old
colonel said:

"I like Farnum's attitude, which I believe to be as just as it is
conservative. Suspicion, based on personal dislike, should not be
tolerated. Why, Mary Louise, anyone might accuse you, or me, of
disloyalty and cause us untold misery and humiliation in defending
ourselves and proving our innocence--and even then the stigma on our
good name would be difficult to remove entirely. Thousands of people
have lost their lives in the countries of Europe through false
accusations. But America is an enlightened nation, and let us hope no
personal animosities will influence us or no passionate adherence to
our country's cause deprive us of our sense of justice."

"Our sense of justice," asserted Mary Louise, "should lead us to unmask
traitors, and I know very well that somewhere in Dorfield lurks an
enemy to my country."

"We will admit that, my dear. But your country is watching out for
those 'enemies within,' who are more to be feared than those without;
and, if I were you, Mary Louise, I'd allow the proper officials to
unmask the traitor, as they are sure to do in time. This war has placed
other opportunities in your path to prove your usefulness to your
country, as you have already demonstrated. Is it not so?"

Mary Louise sighed.

"You are always right, Gran'pa Jim," she said, kissing him fondly.
"Drat that traitor, though! How I hate a snake in the grass."


CHAPTER VI.
TO HELP WIN THE WAR

The activities of the Liberty Girls of Dorfield did not cease with
their successful Liberty Bond "drive." Indeed, this success and the
approbation of their fellow townspeople spurred the young girls on to
further patriotic endeavor, in which they felt sure of enthusiastic
encouragement.

"As long as Uncle Sam needs his soldiers," said Peter Conant, the
lawyer, "he'll need his Liberty Girls, for they can help win the war."

When Mary Louise first conceived the idea of banding her closest
companions to support the government in all possible ways, she was a
bit doubtful if their efforts would prove of substantial value,
although she realized that all her friends were earnestly determined to
"do their bit," whatever the bit might chance to be. The local Red
Cross chapter had already usurped many fields of feminine usefulness
and with a thorough organization, which included many of the older
women, was accomplishing a 'vast deal of good. Of course the Liberty
Girls could not hope to rival the Red Cross.

Mary Louise was only seventeen and the ages of the other Liberty Girls
ranged from fourteen to eighteen, so they had been somewhat ignored by
those who were older and more competent, through experience, to
undertake important measures of war relief. The sensational bond sale,
however, had made the youngsters heroines--for the moment, at least--
and greatly stimulated their confidence in themselves and their
ambition to accomplish more.

Mary Louise Burrows was an orphan; her only relative, indeed, was
Colonel James Hathaway, her mother's father, whose love for his
granddaughter was thoroughly returned by the young girl. They were good
comrades, these two, and held many interests in common despite the
discrepancy in their ages. The old colonel was "well-to-do," and
although he could scarcely be called wealthy in these days of huge
fortunes, his resources were ample beyond their needs. The Hathaway
home was one of the most attractive in Dorfield, and Mary Louise and
her grandfather were popular and highly respected. Their servants
consisted of an aged pair of negroes named "Aunt Sally" and "Uncle
Eben," who considered themselves family possessions and were devoted to
"de ole mar'se an' young missy."

Alora Jones, who lived in the handsomest and most imposing house in the
little city, was an heiress and considered the richest girl in
Dorfield, having been left several millions by her mother. Her father,
Jason Jones, although he handled Alora's fortune and surrounded his
motherless daughter with every luxury, was by profession an artist--a
kindly man who encouraged the girl to be generous and charitable to a
degree. They did not advertise their good deeds and only the poor knew
how much they owed to the practical sympathy of Alora Jones and her
father. Alora, however, was rather reserved and inclined to make few
friends, her worst fault being a suspicion of all strangers, due to
some unfortunate experiences she had formerly encountered. The little
band of Liberty Girls included all of Alora's accepted chums, for they
were the chums of Mary Louise, whom Alora adored. Their companionship
had done much to soften the girl's distrustful nature.

The other Liberty Girls were Laura Hilton, petite and pretty and
bubbling with energy, whose father was a prominent real estate broker;
Lucile Neal, whose father and three brothers owned and operated the
Neal Automobile Factory, and whose intelligent zeal and knowledge of
war conditions had been of great service to Mary Louise; Edna Barlow, a
widowed dressmaker's only child, whose sweet disposition had made her a
favorite with her girl friends, and Jane Donovan, the daughter of the
Mayor of Dorfield and the youngest of the group here described.

These were the six girls who had entered the bond campaign and assisted
to complete Dorfield's quota of subscriptions, but there was one other
Liberty Girl who had been unable to join them in this active work. This
was Irene Macfarlane, the niece of Peter Conant. She had been a cripple
since childhood and was confined to the limits of a wheeled chair. Far
from being gloomy or depressed, however, Irene had the sunniest nature
imaginable, and was always more bright and cheerful than the average
girl of her age. "From my knees down," she would say confidentially,
"I'm no good; but from my knees up I'm as good as anybody." She was an
excellent musician and sang very sweetly; she was especially deft with
her needle; she managed her chair so admirably that little assistance
was ever required. Mrs. Conant called her "the light of the house," and
to hear her merry laughter and sparkling conversation, you would
speedily be tempted to forget that fate had been unkind to her and
decreed that for life she must be wedded to a wheeled chair.

If Irene resented this decree, she never allowed anyone to suspect it,
and her glad disposition warded off the words of sympathy that might
have pained her.

While unable to sally forth in the Liberty Bond drive, Irene was none
the less an important member of the band of Liberty Girls. "She's our
inspiration," said Mary Louise with simple conviction. Teeming with
patriotism and never doubting her ability to do something helpful in
defeating her country's foes, Irene had many valuable suggestions to
make to her companions and one of these she broached a few days after
the bond sale ended so triumphantly. On this occasion the Liberty Girls
had met with Irene at Peter Conant's cosy home, next door to the
residence of Colonel Hathaway, for consultation as to their future
endeavors.

"Everyone is knitting for the soldiers and sailors," said Irene, "and
while that is a noble work, I believe that we ought to do something
different from the others. Such an important organization ought to
render unusual and individual service on behalf of our beloved country.
Is it not so?"

"It's all very well, Irene, to back our beloved country," remarked
Laura, "but the whole nation is doing that and I really hanker to help
our soldier boys."

"So do I," spoke up Lucile. "The government is equal to the country's
needs, I'm sure, but the government has never taken any too good care
of its soldiers and they'll lack a lot of things besides knitted goods
when they get to the front."

"Exactly," agreed Mary Louise. "Seems to me it's the girls' chief duty
to look after the boys, and a lot of the drafted ones are marching away
from Dorfield each day, looking pretty glum, even if loyally submitting
to the inevitable. I tell you, girls, these young and green soldiers
need encouraging, so they'll become enthusiastic and make the best sort
of fighters, and we ought to bend our efforts to cheering them up."

Irene laughed merrily.

"Good!" she cried; "you're like a flock of sheep: all you need is a
hint to trail away in the very direction I wanted to lead you. There
are a lot of things we can do to add to our soldiers' comfort. They
need chocolate--sweets are good for them--and 'comfort-kits' of the
real sort, not those useless, dowdy ones so many well-intentioned women
are wasting time and money to send them; and they'll be grateful for
lots and lots of cigarettes, and--"

"Oh, Irene! Do you think that would be right?" from Edna Barlow.

"Of course it would. The government approves cigarettes and the French
girls are supplying our boys across the pond with them even now. Surely
we can do as much for our own brave laddies who are still learning the
art of war. Not all smoke, of course, and some prefer pipes and
tobacco, which we can also send them. Another thing, nearly every
soldier needs a good pocket knife, and a razor, and they need games of
all sorts, such as dominoes and checkers and cribbage-boards; and good
honest trench mirrors, and--"

"Goodness me, Irene," interrupted Jane Donovan, "how do you think we
could supply all those things? To equip a regiment with the articles
you mention would cost a mint of money, and where's the money coming
from, and how are we to get it?"

"There you go again, helping me out!" smiled Irene. "In your question,
my dear, lies the crux of my suggestion. We Liberty Girls must raise
the money."

"How, Irene?"

"I object to begging."

"The people are tired of subscribing to all sorts of schemes."

"We certainly are not female Croesuses!"

"Perhaps you expect us to turn bandits and sandbag the good citizens on
dark nights."

Irene's smile did not fade; she simply glowed with glee at these
characteristic protestations.

"I can't blame you, girls, for you haven't thought the thing out, and I
have," she stated. "My scheme isn't entirely original, for I read the
other day of a similar plan being tried in another city, with good
success. A plan similar, in some ways, but quite different in others.
Yet it gave me the idea."

"Shoot us the idea, then," said Jane, who was inclined to favor slang.

"In order to raise money," said Irene, slowly and more seriously than
she had before spoken, "it is necessary for us to go into business. The
other day, when I was riding with Alora, I noticed that the store
between the post-office and the Citizens' Bank is vacant, and a sign in
the window said 'Apply to Peter Conant, Agent.' Peter Conant being my
uncle, I applied to him that evening after dinner, on behalf of the
Liberty Girls. It's one of the best locations in town and right in the
heart of the business district. The store has commanded a big rental,
but in these times it is not in demand and it has been vacant for the
last six months, with no prospect of its being rented. Girls, Peter
Conant will allow us to use this store room without charge until
someone is willing to pay the proper rent for it, and so the first big
problem is solved. Three cheers for Uncle Peter!"

They stared at her rather suspiciously, not yet understanding her idea.

"So far, so good, my dear," said Mary Louise. "We can trust dear old
Peter Conant to be generous and patriotic. But what good is a store
without stock, and how are we going to get a stock to sell--and sell it
at a profit that will allow us to do all the things we long to do for
the soldiers?"

"Explain that, and I'm with you," announced Alora.

"Explain that, and we're all with you!" declared Lucile Neal.

"All I need is the opportunity," protested Irene. "You're such
chatterboxes that you won't let me talk! Now--listen. I'm not much of
an executioner, girls, but I can plan and you can execute, and in that
way I get my finger in the pie. Now, I believe I've a practical idea
that will work out beautifully. Dorfield is an ancient city and has
been inhabited for generations. Almost every house contains a lot of
articles that are not in use--are put aside and forgotten--or are not
in any way necessary to the comfort and happiness of the owners, yet
would be highly prized by some other family which does not possess such
articles. For instance, a baby-carriage or crib, stored away in some
attic, could be sold at a bargain to some young woman needing such an
article; or some old brass candlesticks, considered valueless by their
owner, would be eagerly bought by someone who did not possess such
things and had a love for antiques.

"My proposition is simply this: that you visit all the substantial
homes in Dorfield and ask to be given whatever the folks care to
dispense with, such items to be sold at 'The Liberty Girls' Shop' and
the money applied to our War Fund to help the soldier boys. Lucile's
brother, Joe Neal, will furnish us a truck to cart all the things from
the houses to our store, and I'm sure we can get a whole lot of goods
that will sell readily. The people will be glad to give all that they
don't want to so good a cause, and what one doesn't want, another is
sure to want. Whatever money we take in will be all to the good, and
with it we can supply the boys with many genuine comforts. Now, then,
how does my idea strike you?"

Approval--even the dawn of enthusiasm--was written on every
countenance. They canvassed all the pros and cons of the proposition at
length, and the more they considered it the more practical it seemed.

"The only doubtful thing," said Mary Louise, finally, "is whether the
people will donate the goods they don't need or care for, but that can
be easily determined by asking them. We ought to pair off, and each
couple take a residence street and make a careful canvass, taking time
to explain our plan. One day will show us whether we're to be
successful or not, and the whole idea hinges on the success of our
appeal."

"Not entirely," objected Alora. "We may secure the goods, but be unable
to sell them."

"Nonsense," said little Laura Hilton; "nothing in the world sells so
readily as second-hand truck. Just think how the people flock to
auctions and the like. And we girls should prove good 'salesladies,'
too, for we can do a lot of coaxing and get better prices than an
auctioneer. All we need do is appeal to the patriotism of the
prospective buyers."

"Anyhow," asserted Edna, "it seems worth a trial, and we must admit the
idea is attractive and unique--at least a novelty in Dorfield."

So they planned their method of canvassing and agreed to put in the
next day soliciting articles to sell at the Liberty Girls' Shop.


CHAPTER VII
THE LIBERTY SHOP

Mary Louise said to her grandfather that night, after explaining
Irene's novel scheme to raise money: "We haven't been housekeeping many
years in Dorfield and I'm not sure I can find among our household
possessions anything to give the Liberty Shop. But I've some jewelry
and knickknacks that I never wear and, if you don't mind, Gran'pa Jim,
I'll donate that to our shop."

The Colonel was really enthusiastic over the plan and not only approved
his granddaughter's proposition to give her surplus jewelry but went
over the house with her and selected quite an imposing lot of odds and
ends which were not in use and could readily be spared. Eager to assist
the girls, the old colonel next morning went to town and ordered a big
sign painted, to be placed over the store entrance, and he also induced
the editors of the two newspapers to give the Liberty Girls' latest
venture publicity in their columns, inviting the cooperation of the
public.

Peter Conant turned over the keys of the big store to the girls and the
first load of goods to be delivered was that from the Hathaway
residence.

The Liberty Girls were astonished at the success of their
solicitations. From almost every house they visited they secured
donations of more or less value. It may have seemed "rubbish" to some
of the donors, but the variety of goods that soon accumulated in the
store room presented an interesting collection and the girls arranged
their wares enticingly and polished up the brass and copper ornaments
and utensils until they seemed of considerable value.

They did not open their doors to the public for ten days, and Joe Neal
began to grumble because one of his trucks was kept constantly running
from house to house, gathering up the articles contributed to the
Liberty Girls' Shop. But the girls induced other trucks to help Joe and
the enthusiasm kept growing. Curiosity was spurred by the big sign over
the closed doors, and every woman who donated was anxious to know what
others had given to the shop. It was evident there would be a crowd at
the formal "opening," for much was expected from the unique enterprise.

Meantime, the girls were busily occupied. Each day one group solicited
donations while another stayed at the store to arrange the goods. Many
articles of furniture, more or less decrepit, were received, and a man
was hired to varnish and patch and put the chairs, stands, tables,
desks and whatnots into the best condition possible. Alora Jones
thought the stock needed "brightening," so she induced her father to
make purchases of several new articles, which she presented the girls
as her share of the donations. And Peter Conant, finding many small
pieces of jewelry, silverware and bric-a-brac among the accumulation,
rented a big showcase for the girls, in which such wares were properly
displayed.

During these ten days of unflagging zeal the Liberty Girls were annoyed
to discover that another traitorous circular had been issued. A large
contingent of the selective draft boys had just been ordered away to
the cantonment and the day before they left all their parents received
a circular saying that the draft was unconstitutional and that their
sons were being sacrificed by autocratic methods to further the
political schemes of the administration. "Mr. Wilson," it ended, "is
trying to make for himself a place in history, at the expense of the
flesh and blood of his countrymen."

This vile and despicable screed was printed from the same queer type as
the former circulars denouncing the Liberty Bond sale and evidently
emanated from the same source. Mary Louise was the first to secure one
of the papers and its envelope, mailed through the local post-office,
and her indignation was only equalled by her desire to punish the
offender. She realized, however, her limitations, and that she had
neither the time nor the talent to unmask the traitor. She could only
hope that the proper authorities would investigate the matter.

That afternoon, with the circular still in her handbag, she visited the
clothing store of Jacob Kasker and asked the proprietor if he had any
goods he would contribute to the Liberty Girls' Shop.

Kasker was a stolid, florid-faced man, born in America of naturalized
German parents, and therefore his citizenship could not be assailed. He
had been quite successful as a merchant and was reputed to be the
wealthiest clothing dealer in Dorfield.

"No," said Kasker, shortly, in answer to the request. Mary Louise was
annoyed by the tone.

"You mean that you _won't_ help us, I suppose?" she said impatiently.

He turned from his desk and regarded her with a slight frown. Usually
his expression was stupidly genial.

"Why should I give something for nothing?" he asked. "It isn't my war;
I didn't make it, and I don't like it. Say, I got a boy--one son. Do
you know they've drafted him--took him from his work without his
consent, or mine, and marched him off to a war that there's no good
excuse for?"

"Well," returned Mary Louise, "your boy is one of those we're trying to
help."

"You won't help make him a free American again; you'll just help give
him knickknacks so he won't rebel against his slavery."

The girl's eyes flashed.

"Mr. Kasker," she said sternly, "I consider that speech disloyal and
traitorous. Men are being jailed every day for less!"

He shrugged his shoulders.

"I believe that is true, and it proves what a free country this
is--does it not? Mr. Wilson's democracy is the kind that won't allow
people to express their opinions, unless they agree with him. If I say
I will stand by the American constitution, they will put me in jail."

Mary Louise fairly gasped. She devoutly wished she had never approached
this dreadful man. She felt ashamed to breathe the same air with him.
But she hated to retreat without a definite display of her disgust at
his perfidious utterances. Drawing the circular from her bag she spread
it before him on his desk and said:

"Read that!"

He just glanced at it, proving he knew well its wording. Mary Louise
was watching him closely.

"Well, what about it?" he asked brusquely.

"It expresses your sentiments, I believe."

He turned upon her suspiciously.

"You think I wrote it?" he demanded.

"My thoughts are my own," retorted Mary Louise.

Kasker's frown deepened.

"Your thoughts may get you into trouble, my girl," he said slowly. "Let
me tell you this: However much I hate this war, I'm not fighting it
publicly. To you I have spoken in private--just a private conversation.
The trouble with me is, I talk too much; I don't know enough to keep my
mouth shut. I guess I'll never learn that. I ain't a hypocrite, and I
ain't a pacifist. I say the United States must win this war because it
has started the job, and right or wrong, must finish it. I guess we
could beat the whole world, if we had to. But I ain't fool enough to
say that all they do down at Washington is right, 'cause I know it
ain't. But I'm standing by the flag. My boy is standing by the flag,
and he'll fight as well as any in the whole army to keep the flag
flying over this great republic. By and by we'll get better
congressmen; the ones we got now are accidents. But in spite of all
accidents--and they're mostly our own fault--I'm for America first,
last and all the time. That's Jake Kasker. I don't like the Germans and
I don't like the English, for Jake Kasker is a George Washington
American. What are you doing, girl?" he suddenly asked with a change of
tone.

"I'm putting down that speech in shorthand in my notebook," said Mary
Louise, "and I think I've got every word of it." She slipped the book
in her bag and picked up the circular. "Good afternoon, Mr. Kasker!"

The German seemed bewildered; he ran his fingers through his bushy hair
as if trying to remember what he had said.

"Wait!" he cried, as she turned away. "I've changed my mind about those
goods; I'll send some over to your shop to be sold."

"Don't do it," she replied, "for we won't accept them. Only those whose
patriotism rings true are allowed to help us."

Then she marched out of the big store, the proprietor at the desk
staring at her fixedly until she had disappeared.

"That's it, Jake," he said to himself, turning to his papers; "you talk
too much. If a man prints a thing, and nobody knows who printed it,
he's safe."


CHAPTER VIII
THE DETECTIVE'S DAUGHTER

"I'm pretty sure, Gran'pa Jim," said Mary Louise that evening, "that
I've trailed the traitor to his lair, and he's none other than--Jake
Kasker!"

This was the first time she had mentioned her suspicion of Kasker to
him, and her statement was received by the colonel with moderate
surprise, followed by a doubtful smile.

"I know Jake," he remarked, "and while he is uneducated and his mind is
unformed concerning most things outside the clothing business, I should
hesitate to accuse him of downright disloyalty."

"He's a German, and sympathizes with the Kaiser," asserted Mary Louise.

"Did he say that?"

"Well, not in so many words."

"A German-American is not usually pro-German," the colonel declared,
"for Germans who come to America come to escape the militarism and
paternalism of the Junkers, which is proof in itself that they
disapprove of what we term kaiserism. I know that Kasker talks
foolishly against the war and resents the drafting of his son, but I
think he is a good American at heart. He has bought Liberty Bonds more
liberally than some who proclaim their patriotism from the housetops. I
don't fear these outspoken objectors, my dear, as much as those who
work slyly in the dark--such as the writers of those disgraceful
circulars."

"I practically accused Kasker of sending out those circulars," said
Mary Louise, "and his defense was very lame and unconvincing. Listen,
Grand'pa, to what he said. I took the speech down in shorthand, and
that worried him, I'm sure."

The colonel listened and shook his head gravely.

"Yes, Jake Kasker talks too much," he confessed, "and much that he says
is disloyal to our government and calculated to do much harm,
especially if widely circulated. This is no time to criticise the men
who are working hard to win the war; we should render them faithful
support. The task before us is difficult and it will require a united
country to defeat our enemies. I must talk to Jake Kasker."

"Won't it be better to let the authorities deal with him?" suggested
the girl. "They're certain to get him, in time, if he goes on this way.
I believe I frightened him a bit this afternoon, but he's too dull to
take warning. Anyhow, I shall relate the whole interview to Chief
Farnum to-morrow morning."

This she did, but the Chief gave her little satisfaction.

"No one pays any attention to Kasker," he said.

"He's a German, and a traitor!" she insisted. "A woman's intuition is
seldom at fault, and I'm convinced he's responsible for this latest and
most dreadful circular," and she laid it before him.

"A girl's intuition is not as mature as a woman's intuition," the Chief
answered in an impatient tone. "You force me to say, my dear young
lady, that you are dabbling in affairs that do not concern you. I've
plenty of those circulars on file and I'm attending to my duty and
keeping an eye open for the rascal who wrote them. But there is no
proof that Kasker is the man. The federal officers are also
investigating the case, and I imagine they will not require your
assistance."

Mary Louise flushed but stood her ground.

"Isn't it the duty of every patriotic person to denounce a traitor?"
she inquired.

"Yes, if there is proof. I think you are wrong about Kasker, but if you
are able to bring me proof, I'll arrest him and turn him over to the
federal agents for prosecution. But, for heaven's sake, don't bother me
with mere suspicions."

Mary Louise did not accept this rebuke graciously. She went away with
the feeling that Chief Farnum was, for some reason, condoning a crime,
and she was firmly resolved to obtain the required proof if it could be
secured without subjecting herself to the annoyance of such rebuffs as
the one she had just endured.

"We ought not to permit such a snake in the grass to exist in dear old
Dorfield," she told her girl associates. "Let us all try to discover
absolute proof of Kasker's treachery."

The other Liberty Girls were as indignant as Mary Louise, but were too
intent on their present duties to pay much attention to Jake Kasker.
For the Liberty Girls' Shop was now open to the public, and men, women
and children crowded in to see what the girls had to offer. Sales were
so brisk during the first week that the stock became depleted and once
more they made a house to house canvass to obtain a new supply of
material.

This kept all six of the girls busily occupied. Irene each morning rode
down to the shop in the Hathaway automobile--wheel-chair and all--and
acted as cashier, so as to relieve the others of this duty. She could
accomplish this work very nicely and became the Liberty Girls'
treasurer and financial adviser. Each day she deposited in the bank the
money received, and the amounts were so liberal that enthusiasm was
easily maintained.

"The soldier boys have reason to rejoice," said Irene complacently,
"for we shall soon be able to provide them with numerous comforts and
luxuries--all of which they are surely entitled to."

So the new enterprise was progressing finely when, one evening, on
reaching home from a busy day at the shop, Mary Louise found a letter
that greatly pleased her. It was from an old and valued girl friend in
Washington and after rambling along pleasantly on a variety of subjects
the writer concluded as follows:

"But we can talk all this over at our leisure, my dear, for I'm going
to accept one of your many pressing invitations (the _first_ one, of
course) and make you another little visit. I love Dorfield, and I love
you, and the dear Colonel, and Irene and Alora, and I long to see all
of you again. Moreover, Daddy is being sent abroad on a secret mission,
and I should be lonely without him. So expect me at any time. In my
usual erratic fashion I may follow on the heels of this letter, or I
may lag behind it for a few days, but whenever I turn up at the
Hathaway gate, I'll demand a kiss and a welcome for
"JOSIE O'GORMAN."

Now, this girl was in many ways so entirely unlike Mary Louise that one
might wonder what link of sympathy drew them together, unless it was
"the law of opposites." However, there was one quality in both their
natures that might warrant the warm friendship existing between the two
girls. Mary Louise was sweet and winning, with a charming, well-bred
manner and a ready sympathy for all who were in trouble. She was
attractive in person, particular as to dress, generous and considerate
to a fault. The girl had been carefully reared and had well repaid the
training of the gallant old colonel, her grandfather, who had
surrounded her with competent instructors. Yet Mary Louise had a
passion for mysteries and was never quite so happy as when engaged in
studying a baffling personality or striving to explain a seeming
enigma. Gran'pa Jim, who was usually her confidant when she "scented a
mystery," often accused her of allowing her imagination to influence
her judgment, but on several occasions the girl had triumphantly proven
her intuitions to be correct. You must not think, from this statement,
that Mary Louise was prone to suspect everyone she met; it was only on
rare occasions she instinctively felt there was more beneath the
surface of an occurrence than appeared to the casual observer, and
then, if a wrong might be righted or a misunderstanding removed--but
only in such event--she eagerly essayed to discover the truth. It was
in this manner that she had once been of great service to her friend
Alora Jones, and to others as well. It was this natural quality,
combined with sincere loyalty, which made her long to discover and
bring to justice the author of the pro-German circulars.

Josie O'Gorman was small and "pudgy"--her own expression--red-haired
and freckled-faced and snub-nosed. Her eyes redeemed much of this
personal handicap, for they were big and blue as turquoises and as
merry and innocent in expression as the eyes of a child. Also, the good
humor which usually pervaded her sunny features led people to ignore
their plainness. In dress, Josie was somewhat eccentric in her
selections and careless in methods of wearing her clothes, but this
might be excused by her engrossing interest in people, rather than in
apparel.

The girl was the daughter--the only child, indeed--of John O'Gorman, an
old and trusted lieutenant of the government's secret-service. From
Josie's childhood, the clever detective had trained her in all the
subtle art of his craft, and allowing for her youth, which meant a
limited experience of human nature and the intricacies of crime, Josie
O'Gorman was now considered by her father to be more expert than the
average professional detective. While the astute secret-service agent
was more than proud of his daughter's talent, he would not allow her to
undertake the investigation of crime as a profession until she was
older and more mature. Sometimes, however, he permitted and even
encouraged her to "practise" on minor or unimportant cases of a private
nature, in which the United States government was not interested.

Josie's talent drew Mary Louise to her magnetically. The detective's
daughter was likewise a delightful companion. She was so well versed in
all matters of national import, as well as in the foibles and
peculiarities of the human race, that even conservative, old Colonel
Hathaway admired the girl and enjoyed her society. Josie had visited
Mary Louise more than once and was assured a warm welcome whenever she
came to Dorfield. Most of the Liberty Girls knew Josie O'Gorman, and
when they heard she was coming they straightway insisted she be made a
member of their band.

"She'll just _have_ to be one of us," said Mary Louise, "for I'm so
busy with our wonderful Shop that I can't entertain Josie properly
unless she takes a hand in our game, which I believe she will be glad
to do."

And Josie _was_ glad, and proclaimed herself a Liberty Girl the first
hour of her arrival, the moment she learned what the patriotic band had
already accomplished and was determined to accomplish further.

"It's just play, you know, and play of the right sort--loyal and
helpful to those who deserve the best we can give them, our brave
soldiers and sailors. Count me in, girls, and you'll find me at the
Liberty Shop early and late, where I promise to sell anything from an
old hoopskirt to a decayed piano at the highest market price. We've had
some 'rummage sales' in Washington, you know, but nothing to compare
with this thorough and businesslike undertaking of yours. But I won't
wear your uniform; I can't afford to allow the glorious
red-white-and-blue to look dowdy, as it would on my unseemly form."


CHAPTER IX
GATHERING UP THE THREADS

Josie O'Gorman had been in Dorfield several days before Mary Louise
showed her the traitorous circulars that had been issued by some
unknown obstructionist. At first she had been a little ashamed to
acknowledge to her friend that a citizen of her own town could be so
disloyal, but the matter had weighed heavily on her mind and so she
decided to unload it upon Josie's shrewder intelligence.

"I feel, dear, that the best service you can render us while here--the
best you can render the nation, too--will be to try to discover this
secret enemy," she said earnestly. "I'm sure he has done a lot of harm,
already, and he may do much more if he is left undisturbed. Some folks
are not too patriotic, even now, when we are facing the most terrible
ordeal in our history, and some are often so weak as to be influenced
by what I am sure is pro-German propaganda."

Josie studied the various circulars. She studied the handwriting on the
envelopes and the dates of the postmarks. Her attitude was tense, as
that of a pointer dog who suddenly senses a trail. Finally she asked:

"Do the police know?"

Mary Louise related her two interviews with Chief Farnum.

"How about the agents of the department of justice?"

"I don't know of any," confessed Mary Louise.

Josie put the circulars in her pocket.

"Now, then, tell me whom you suspect, and why," she said.

Until now Mary Louise had not mentioned the clothing merchant to Josie,
but she related Jake Kasker's frank opposition to the war at the
Liberty Bond mass-meeting and her interview with him in his store, in
which he plainly showed his antagonism to the draft and to the
administration generally. She read to Josie the shorthand notes she had
taken and supplemented all by declaring that such a man could be guilty
of any offense.

"You see," she concluded, "all evidence points to Kasker as the
traitor; but Chief Farnum is stubborn and independent, and we must
obtain positive proof that Kasker issued those circulars. Then we can
put an end to his mischief-making. I don't know how to undertake such a
job, Josie, but you do; I'm busy at the Liberty Shop, and we can spare
you from there better than any one else; so, if you want to 'practise,'
here's an opportunity to do some splendid work."

Josie was a good listener. She did not interrupt Mary Louise, but let
her say all she had to say concerning this interesting matter. When her
friend paused for lack of words, Josie remarked:

"Every American's watchword should be: 'Swat the traitor!' War seems to
breed traitors, somehow. During the Civil War they were called
'copperheads,' as the most venomous term that could be applied to the
breed. We haven't yet coined an equally effective word in this war, but
it will come in time. Meanwhile, every person--man or woman--who is not
whole-heartedly with President Wilson and intent on helping win the
war, is doing his country a vital injury. That's the flat truth, and
I'd like to shake your Jake Kasker out of his suit of hand-me-down
clothing. If he isn't a traitor, he's a fool, and sometimes fools are
more dangerous than traitors. There! All this has got me riled, and an
investigator has no business to get riled. They must be calm and
collected." She slapped her forehead, settled herself in her chair and
continued in a more moderate tone: "Now, tell me what other people in
Dorfield have led you to suspect they are not in accord with the
administration, or resent our entry into the Great War."

Mary Louise gave her a puzzled look.

"Oughtn't we to finish with Kasker, first?" she asked, hesitatingly,
for she respected Josie's judgment.

The girl detective laughed.

"I've an impression we've already finished with him--unless I really
give him that shaking," she replied. "I'll admit that such a person is
mischievous and ought to be shut up, either by jailing him or putting a
plaster over his mouth, but I can't believe Jake Kasker guilty of those
circulars."

"Why not?" in an aggrieved tone.

"Well, in spite of his disloyal mutterings, his deeds are loyal. He's
disgruntled over the loss of his son, and doesn't care who knows it,
but he'll stand pat and spank the kid if he doesn't fight like a
tartar. He hates the war--perhaps we all hate it, in a way--but he'll
buy Liberty Bonds and help win a victory. I know that sort; they're not
dangerous; just at war with themselves, with folly and honesty
struggling for the mastery. Let him alone and in a few months you'll
find Kasker making patriotic speeches."

"Oh, Josie!"

"Think of someone else."

Mary Louise shook her head.

"What, only one string to your bow of distrust? Fie, Mary Louise! When
you were selling Liberty Bonds, did you meet with no objectors?"

"Well--yes; there's a wholesale grocer here, who is named Silas
Herring, a very rich man, but sour and disagreeable."

"Did he kick on the bonds?"

"Yes."

"Then tell me all about him."

"When I first entered his office, Mr. Herring made insulting remarks
about the bonds and accused our government of being dominated by the
English. He was very bitter in his remarks, but in his office were two
other men who remonstrated with him and--"

"What were the two men doing there?"

"Why, they were talking about something, when I entered; I didn't hear
what, for when they saw me they became silent."

"Were they clerks, or grocers--customers?"

"No; one was our supervisor, Andrew Duncan--"

"And the other man?" asked Josie.

"Our superintendent of schools, Professor Dyer."

"Oh; then they were talking politics."

"I suppose likely. I was obliged to argue with Mr. Herring and became
so incensed that I threatened him with the loss of his trade. But Mr.
Duncan at once subscribed for Liberty Bonds, and so did Professor Dyer,
and that shamed Silas Herring into buying a big bunch of them also."

"H-m-m," murmured Josie contentedly. "Then neither of the three had
purchased any bonds until then?"

"I think not. Gran'pa Jim had himself tried to sell Mr. Herring and had
been refused."

"I see. How much did the supervisor invest in bonds?"

"One hundred dollars."

"Too little. And the Professor?"

"Five hundred."

"Too much. He couldn't afford it, could he?"

"He said it was more than his salary warranted, but he wanted to be
patriotic."

"Oh, well; the rich grocer took them off his hands, perhaps. No
disloyal words from the Professor or the supervisor?"

"No, indeed; they rebuked Mr. Herring and made him stop talking."

Josie nodded, thoughtfully.

"Well, who else did you find disloyal?"

"No one, so far as I can recollect. Everyone I know seems genuinely
patriotic--except," as an afterthought, "little Annie Boyle, and she
doesn't count."

"Who is little Annie Boyle?"

"No one much. Her father keeps the Mansion House, one of the hotels
here, but not one of the best. It's patronized by cheap traveling men
and the better class of clerks, I'm told, and Mr. Boyle is said to do a
good business. Annie knows some of our girls, and they say she hates
the war and denounces Mr. Wilson and everybody concerned in the war.
But Annie's a silly little thing, anyhow, and of course she couldn't
get out those circulars."

Josie wrote Annie Boyle's name on her tablets--little ivory affairs
which she always carried and made notes on.

"Do you know anyone else at the Mansion House?" she inquired.

"Not a soul."

"How old is Annie?"

"Fourteen or fifteen."

"She didn't conceive her unpatriotic ideas; she has heard someone else
talk, and like a parrot repeats what she has heard."

"Perhaps so; but--"

"All right. I'm not going to the Liberty Girls' Shop to-morrow, Mary
Louise. At your invitation I'll make myself scarce, and nose around. To
be quite frank, I consider this matter serious; more serious than you
perhaps suspect. And, since you've put this case in my hands, I'm sure
you and the dear colonel won't mind if I'm a bit eccentric in my
movements while I'm doing detective work. I know the town pretty well,
from my former visits, so I won't get lost. I may not accomplish
anything, but you'd like me to try, wouldn't you?"

"Yes, indeed. That's why I've told you all this. I feel something ought
to be done, and I can't do it myself."

Josie slipped the tablets into her pocket.

"Mary Louise, the United States is honeycombed with German spies," she
gravely announced. "They're keeping Daddy and all the Department of
Justice pretty busy, so I've an inkling as to their activities. German
spies are encouraged by German propagandists, who are not always German
but may be Americans, or even British by birth, but are none the less
deadly on that account. The paid spy has no nationality; he is true to
no one but the devil, and he and his abettors fatten on treachery. His
abettors are those who repeat sneering and slurring remarks about our
conduct of the war. You may set it down that whoever is not
pro-American is pro-German; whoever does not favor the Allies--all of
them,  mind you--favors the Kaiser; whoever is not loyal in this hour
of our country's greatest need is a traitor."

"You're right, Josie!"

"Now," continued Josie, reflectively, "you and I must both understand
that we're undertaking a case that is none of our business. It's the
business of Mr. Bielaski, of the department of justice, first of all;
then it's the business of Mr. Flynn, of the secret service; then it's
the business of the local police. Together, they have a thousand eyes,
but enemy propagandists are more numerous and scattered throughout the
nation. Your chief of police doesn't want to interfere with the federal
agents here, and the federal agents are instructed not to pay attention
to what is called 'spy hysteria,' and so they're letting things slide.
But you believe, and I believe, that there's more treachery underlying
these circulars than appears on the surface, and if we can secure
evidence that is important, and present it to the proper officials, we
shall be doing our country a service. So I'll start out on my own
responsibility."

"Doesn't your secret service badge give you authority?" asked Mary
Louise.

"No," replied Josie; "that badge is merely honorary. Daddy got it for
me so that if ever I got into trouble it would help me out, but it
doesn't make me a member of the secret service or give me a bit of
authority. But that doesn't matter; when I get evidence, I know what
authority to give it to, and that's all that is necessary."

"Anyhow," said Mary Louise, with a relieved sigh, "I'm glad you are
going to investigate the author of those awful circulars. It has
worried me a good deal to think that Dorfield is harboring a German
spy, and I have confidence that if anyone can discover the traitor, you
can."

"That's good of you," returned Josie, with a grimace, "but I lack a
similar confidence in myself. Don't you remember how many times I've
foozled?"

"But sometimes, Josie, you've won, and I hope you'll win now."

"Thank you," said Josie; "I hope so, myself."


CHAPTER X
THE EXPLOSION

Day was just beginning to break when a terrible detonation shook all
Dorfield. Houses rocked, windows rattled, a sudden wind swept over the
town and then a glare that was not a presage of the coming sun lit the
sky.

A brief silence succeeded the shock, but immediately thereafter
whistles shrieked, fire-bells clanged, a murmur of agitated voices
crying aloud was heard on every side, and the people began pouring from
the houses into the streets demanding the cause of the alarm.

Colonel Hathaway, still weak and nervous, stood trembling in his
bathrobe when Mary Louise came to him.

"It's the airplane factory, Gran'pa Jim," she said. "I can see it from
my windows. Something must have exploded and the buildings are on
fire."

The airplane works of Dorfield had been one of the city's most unique
institutions, but until we entered the World War it was not deemed of
prime importance. The government's vast airplane appropriations,
however, had resulted in the Dorfield works securing contracts for the
manufacture of war machines that straightway raised the enterprise to
an important position. The original plant had been duplicated a dozen
times, until now, on the big field south of the city, the cluster of
buildings required for the construction of aircraft was one of the most
imposing manufacturing plants in that part of the State. Skilled
government aviators had been sent to Dorfield to inspect every machine
turned out. Although backed by local capital, it was, in effect, a
government institution because it was now devoted exclusively to
government contracts; therefore the explosion and fire filled every
loyal heart with a sinister suspicion that an enemy had caused the
calamity.

Splendid work on the part of the fire department subdued the flames
after but two of the huge shed-like buildings had been destroyed. By
noon the fire was controlled; a cordon of special police surrounded the
entire plant and in one of the yards a hundred and fifty workmen were
corralled under arrest until the federal officers had made an
investigation and decided where to place the blame.

Reassuring reports had somewhat quieted Colonel Hathaway and Mary
Louise, but although they returned to their rooms, they could not
sleep. Aunt Sally, realizing the situation, had an early breakfast
prepared, but when she called Josie O'Gorman the girl was not in her
room or in the house. She appeared just as the others were finishing
their meal and sat down with a sigh of content.

"My, but the coffee smells good!" she exclaimed. "I'm worn out with the
excitement."

"Did you go to the fire, Josie?" asked Mary Louise.

"Yes, and got there in time to help drag some of the poor fellows out.
Three men in the building where the explosion occurred were killed
outright, and two others seriously injured. Fortunately the night shift
had just quit work or the casualties would have been much greater."

"It's dreadful, as it is," said Mary Louise with a shudder.

"What was the cause of the explosion!" inquired the colonel.

"Dynamite," replied Josie calmly.

"Then it was not an accident?"

"They don't use dynamite in making airplanes. Twenty-two machines, all
complete and packed ready for shipment, were blown to smithereens. A
good many others, in course of construction, were ruined. It's a pretty
bad mess, I can tell you, but the machines can be replaced, and the
lives can't."

"I wonder who did it," said Mary Louise, staring at her friend with
frightened eyes.

"The Kaiser," declared Josie. "He must be in fine fettle this morning,
since his propaganda of murder and arson has been so successful."

"I--I don't quite understand you," faltered Mary Louise.

"Josie means that this is the work of a direct emissary of the Kaiser,"
explained the colonel. "We know that among us are objectors and
pacifists and those who from political motives are opposing the
activities of our President, but these are not dynamiters, nor do they
display their disloyalty except through foolish and futile protests.
One who resorts to murder and arson in an attempt to block the
government's plans, and so retard our victory, is doubtless a hired
assassin and in close touch with the German master-spies who are known
to be lurking in this country."

"That's the idea, sir," approved Josie, nodding her tousled red head,
"and better expressed than any answer of mine could have been."

"Well, then, can't this demon be arrested and punished?" asked Mary
Louise.

"That remains to be seen," said Josie. "An investigation is already
under way. All the outgoing night shift and some of the incoming day
shift have been held under suspicion, until they can be examined and
carefully questioned. I heard your Chief of Police--whom I know and
knows me--assert that without doubt the bomb had been placed by one of
the workmen. I wonder what makes him think that. Also the police are
hunting for everyone seen loitering about the airplane plant during the
past twenty-four hours. They'll spend days--perhaps weeks--in
investigating, and then the affair will quiet down and be forgotten."

"You fear they will not be able to apprehend the criminal?" from the
colonel.

"Not the way the police are going at it. They're virtually informing
the criminal that they're hunting for him but don't know where to find
him, and that if he isn't careful they'll get him. So he's going to be
careful. It is possible, of course, that the fellow has left traces--
clues that will lead to his discovery and arrest. Still, I'm not
banking much on that. Such explosions have been occurring for months,
in various parts of the country, and the offenders have frequently
escaped. The government suspects that German spies are responsible, but
an indefinite suspicion is often as far as it gets. Evidence is
lacking."

"How about your boasted department of justice, and the secret service?"
asked Mary Louise.

"They're as good as the German spy system, and sometimes a bit better.
Don't think for a minute that our enemies are not clever," said Josie
earnestly. "Sometimes our agents make a grab; sometimes the German spy
remains undiscovered. It's diamond cut diamond--fifty-fifty. But when
we get every alien enemy sequestered in zones removed from all
factories doing government work, we're going to have less trouble. A
lot of these Germans and Austrians are liberty-loving Americans, loyal
and true, but we must round up the innocent many, in order to squelch
the guilty few."

The following week was one of tense excitement for Dorfield. Federal
officers poured into the city to assist in the investigation; the
victims were buried with honor and ceremony, wrapped in American flags
to show that these "soldiers of industry" had been slain by their
country's foe; the courtrooms were filled with eager mobs hoping that
evidence would be secured against some one of the many suspects.
Gradually, however, the interest decreased, as Josie had predicted it
would. A half dozen suspects were held for further examination and the
others released. New buildings were being erected at the airplane
plant, and although somewhat crippled, the business of manufacturing
these necessary engines of war was soon going on much as usual.


CHAPTER XI
A FONT OF TYPE

Mary Louise went into Josie O'Gorman's room and found the young girl
bent over a table on which were spread the disloyal circulars.

"You've been studying those things for nearly two weeks, Josie," she
said. "Have you made any discoveries?"

"I know a lot more about the circulars than I did," answered Josie.
"For instance, there are nineteen printing offices in Dorfield, and
only two of them have this kind of type."

"Oh, that's something, indeed!" cried Mary Louise. "One of the two
offices must have printed the circulars."

"No; the curious fact is that neither printed them," returned Josie,
regarding the circulars with a frown.

"How do you know?"

"It's an old style of type, not much in use at present," explained the
youthful detective. "In one printing office the case that contains this
type face hasn't been used for months and months. I found all the
compartments covered with dust a quarter of an inch thick. There wasn't
a trace of the type having been disturbed. I proved this by picking out
a piece of type, which scattered the dust and brought to light the
shining bodies of the other type in that compartment. So the circulars
could never have been printed from that case of type."

"But the other printing office?"

"Well, there they had a font of the same style of type, which is
occasionally used in job printing; but it's a small font and has only
twenty-four small a's. I rummaged the whole shop, and found none of the
type standing, out of the case. Another thing, they had only three
capital G's, and one of those was jammed and damaged. In the last
circular issued, no less than seven capital G's appear. In the first
one sent out I find fifty-eight small a's. All this convinces me the
circulars were issued from no regular printing office."

"Then how did it get printed?" asked Mary Louise.

"That's what puzzles me," confessed Josie. "Three of the four big
manufacturing concerns here have outfits and do their own printing--or
part of it, anyhow--and I don't mind saying I expected to find my clue
in one of those places, rather than in a regular printing office. But
I've made an exhaustive search, aided by the managers, and there's no
type resembling that used in the circulars in any of the private print
shops. In fact, I'm up a stump!"

"But why do you attach so much importance to this matter?" queried Mary
Louise.

"It's the most direct route to the traitor. Find who printed the
circulars and you've got your hand on the man who wrote and mailed
them. But the printing baffles me, and so I've started another line of
investigation."

"What line is that, Josie?"

"The circular envelopes were addressed by hand, with pen and ink. The
ink is a sort in common use. The envelopes are an ordinary commercial
kind. The circulars are printed on half a sheet of letter-size
typewriting paper, sold in several stationery store in large
quantities. No clue there. But the handwriting is interesting. It's
disguised, of course, and the addressing was done by two different
people--that's plain."

"You are wonderful, Josie!"

"I'm stupid as a clam, Mary Louise. See here!" she went to a closet and
brought out a large card-board box, which she placed upon the table. It
was filled to the brim with envelopes, addressed to many business firms
in Dorfield, but all bearing the local postmark. "Now, I've been days
collecting these envelopes," continued the girl, "and I've studied them
night after night. I'm something of a handwriting expert, you know, for
that is one of the things that Daddy has carefully taught me. These
envelopes came from all sorts of people--folks making inquiries, paying
bills, ordering goods, and the like. I've had an idea from the first
that some prominent person--no ordinary man--is responsible for the
circulars. They're well worded, grammatical, and the malicious
insinuations are cleverly contrived to disconcert the loyal but weak
brethren. However, these envelopes haven't helped me a bit. Neither of
the two persons who addressed the envelopes of the circulars addressed
any of these business envelopes. Of that I'm positive."

"Dear me," said Mary Louise, surprised, "I'd no idea you'd taken so
much trouble, Josie."

"Well, I've undertaken a rather puzzling case, my dear, and it will
mean more trouble than you can guess, before I've solved it. This
pro-German scoundrel is clever; he suspected that he'd be investigated
and has taken every precaution to prevent discovery. Nevertheless, the
cleverest criminal always leaves some trace behind him, if one can
manage to find it, so I'm not going to despair at this stage of the
game."

"Do you know," said Mary Louise thoughtfully, "I've had an idea that
there's some connection between the explosion at the airplane works and
the sender of these circulars."

Josie gave her a queer look.

"What connection do you suspect?" she asked quickly.

"Why, the man who wrote those circulars would not stop at any crime to
harass the government and interfere with the promotion of the war."

"Is that as far as you've gone?"

"Have you gone any farther, Josie?"

"A step, Mary Louise. It looks to me as if there is an organized band
of traitors in Dorfield. No one person is responsible for it all.
Didn't I say two different people addressed the circulars in disguised
handwriting? Now, a bomb has to be constructed, and placed, and timed,
and I don't credit any one person with handling such a job and at the
same time being aware that the utmost damage to the War Department's
plans would be accomplished by blowing up the airplane works. That
argues intelligent knowledge of national and local affairs. There may
be but two conspirators, and there may be more, but the more there are,
the easier it will be for me to discover them."

"Naturally," agreed Mary Louise. "But, really, Josie, I don't see how
you're going to locate a clue that will guide you. Have you attended
the trial of those suspected of the bomb outrage?"

"I've seen all the testimony. There isn't a culprit in the whole bunch.
The real criminal is not even suspected, as yet," declared Josie. "The
federal officers know this, and are just taking things easy and making
the trials string out, to show they're wide awake. Also I've met two
secret service men here--Norman Addison and old Jim Crissey. I know
nearly all of the boys. But they haven't learned anything important,
either."

"Are these men experienced detectives?"

"They've done some pretty good work, but nothing remarkable. In these
times the government is forced to employ every man with any experience
at all, and Crissey and Addison are just ordinary boys, honest and
hard-working, but not especially talented. Daddy would have discovered
something in twenty-four hours; but Daddy has been sent abroad, for
some reason, and there are many cases of espionage and sabotage fully
as important as this, in this spy-infested land. That's why poor Josie
O'Gorman is trying to help the government, without assignment or
authority. If I succeed, however, I'll feel that I have done my bit."

"Don't you get discouraged, dear, at times?"

"Never! Why, Mary Louise, discouragement would prove me a dub. I'm
puzzled, though, just now, and feeling around blindly in the dark to
grab a thread that may lead me to success. If I have luck, presently
I'll find it."

She put away the envelopes, as she spoke, and resuming her seat drew
out her tablets and examined the notes she had made thereon. Josie used
strange characters in her memoranda, a sort of shorthand she had
herself originated and which could be deciphered only by her father or
by herself.

"Here's a list of suspects," she said. "Not that they're necessarily
connected with our case, but are known to indulge in disloyal
sentiments. Hal Grober, the butcher, insists on selling meat on
meatless days and won't defer to the wishes of Mr. Hoover, whom he
condemns as a born American but a naturalized Englishmen. He's another
Jake Kasker, too noisy to be guilty of clever plotting."

"They're both un-American!" exclaimed Mary Louise. "There ought to be a
law to silence such people, Josie."

"Don't worry, my dear; they'll soon be silenced," predicted her friend.
"Either better judgment will come to their aid or the federal courts
will get after them. We shouldn't allow anyone to throw stones at the
government activities, just at this crisis. They may _think_ what they
please, but must keep their mouths shut."

"I'm sorry they can even think disloyalty," said Mary Louise.

"Well, even that will be remedied in time," was the cheerful response.
"No war more just and righteous was ever waged than this upon which our
country has embarked, and gradually that fact will take possession of
those minds, which, through prejudice, obstinacy or ignorance, have not
yet grasped it. I'm mighty proud of my country, Mary Louise, and I
believe this war is going to give us Americans a distinction that will
set us up in our own opinion and in the eyes of the world. But always
there is a willful objection, on the part of some, toward any good and
noble action, and we must deal charitably with these deluded ones and
strive to win them to an appreciation of the truth."

"Isn't that carrying consideration too far?" asked Mary Louise.

"No. Our ministers are after the unregenerates, not after the godly.
The noblest act of humanity is to uplift a fellow creature. Even in our
prisons we try to reform criminals, to make honest men of them rather
than condemn them to a future of crime. It would be dreadful to say:
'You're _all_ yellow; go to thunder!'"

"Yes; I believe you're right," approved the other girl. "That is, your
theory is correct, but the wicked sometimes refuse to reform."

"Usually the fault of the reformers, my dear. But suppose we redeem a
few of them, isn't it worth while? Now, let me see. Here's a washwoman
who says the Kaiser is a gentleman, and a street-car driver who says
it's a rich man's war. No use bothering with such people in our present
state of blind groping. And here's the list that you, yourself, gave to
me: One Silas Herring, a wholesale grocer. I'm going to see him. He's a
big, successful man, and being opposed to the administration is
dangerous. Herring is worth investigating, and with him is associated
Professor John Dyer, superintendent of schools."

"Oh, Professor Dyer is all right," said Mary Louise hastily. "It was he
who helped bring Mr. Herring to time, and afterward he took Gran'pa
Jim's place on the Bond Committee and solicited subscriptions."

"Did he get any?"

"Any what?"

"Subscriptions."

"--I believe so. Really, I don't know."

"Well, _I_ know," said Josie, "for I've inspected the records. Your
professor--who, by the way, is only a professor by courtesy and a
politician by profession--worked four days on the bond sale and didn't
turn in a single subscription. He had a lot of wealthy men on his list
and approached them in such a manner that they all positively declined
to buy bonds. Dyer's activities kept these men from investing in bonds
when, had they been properly approached, they would doubtless have
responded freely."

"Good gracious! Are you sure, Josie?"

"I'm positive. I've got a cross opposite the name of Professor John
Dyer, and I'm going to know more about him--presently. His bosom chum
is the Honorable Andrew Duncan, a man with an honest Scotch name but
only a thirty-second or so of Scotch blood in his veins. His mother was
a German and his grandmother Irish and his greatgrandmother a Spanish
gipsy."

"How did you learn all that, Josie?"

"By making inquiries. Duncan was born in Dorfield and his father was
born in the county. He's a typical American--a product of the great
national melting-pot--but no patriot because he has no sympathy for any
of the European nations at war, or even with the war aims of his native
land. He's a selfish, scheming, unprincipled politician; an
office-holder ever since he could vote; a man who would sacrifice all
America to further his own personal ends."

"Then, you think Mr. Duncan may--might be--is--"

"No," said Josie, "I don't. The man might instigate a crime and
encourage it, in a subtle and elusive way, but he's too shrewd to
perpetrate a crime himself. I wouldn't be surprised if Duncan could
name the man--or the band of traitors--we're looking for, if he chose
to, but you may rest assured he has not involved his own personality in
any scheme to balk the government."

"I can't understand that sort of person," said Mary. Louise,
plaintively.

"It's because you haven't studied the professional politician. He has
been given too much leeway heretofore, but his days, I firmly believe,
are now numbered," Josie answered. "Now, here's my excuse for
investigating Silas Herring and his two cronies, Dyer and Duncan. All
three of them happen to be political bosses in this section. It is
pretty generally known that they are not in sympathy with President
Wilson and the administration. They are shrewd enough to know that the
popularity of the war and the President's eloquent messages have
carried the country by storm. So they cannot come right out into the
open with their feelings. At the same time, they can feel themselves
losing control of the situation. In fact, the Herring gang is fearful
that at the coming elections they will be swept aside and replaced with
out-and-out loyal supporters of the President. So they're going to try
to arouse sentiment against the administration and against the war, in
order to head off the threatened landslide. Dyer hoped to block the
sale of Liberty Bonds, blinding folks to his intent by subscribing for
them himself; but you girls foiled that scheme by your enthusiastic
'drive.' What the other conspirators have done, I don't know, but I
imagine their energies will not be squelched by one small defeat. I
don't expect to land any of the three in jail, but I think they all
ought to be behind the bars, and if I shadow them successfully, one or
the other may lead me to their tools or confederates--the ones directly
guilty of issuing the disloyal circulars and perhaps of placing the
bomb that damaged the airplane works and murdered some of its
employes."

Mary Louise was pale with horror when Josie finished her earnest and
convincing statement. She regarded her friend's talent with profound
admiration. Nevertheless, the whole matter was becoming so deep, so
involved that she could only think of it with a shudder.

"I'm almost sorry," said the girl, regretfully, "that I ever mixed up
in this dreadful thing."

"I'm not sorry," returned Josie. "Chasing traitors isn't the
pleasantest thing in the world, even for a regular detective, but it's
a duty I owe my country and I'm sufficiently interested to probe the
affair to the extent of my ability. If I fail, nothing is lost, and if
I win I'll have done something worth while. Here's another name on the
list of suspects you gave me--Annie Boyle, the hotel-keeper's
daughter."

"Don't bother about Annie, for goodness' sake," exclaimed Mary Louise.
"She hasn't the brains or an opportunity to do any harm, so you'd
better class her with Kasker and the butcher."

But Josie shook her head.

"There's a cross opposite her name," said she. "I don't intend to
shuffle Annie Boyle into the discard until I know more about her."


CHAPTER XII
JOSIE BUYS A DESK

The "Liberty Girls' Shop" was proving a veritable mint. Expenses were
practically nothing, so all the money received could be considered
clear profit. It was amusing to observe the people who frequented the
shop, critically examining the jumble of wares displayed, wondering who
had donated this or that and meantime searching for something that
could be secured at a "bargain." Most of the shrewd women had an idea
that these young girls would be quite ignorant of values and might mark
the articles at prices far below their worth, but the "values" of such
goods could only be conjectural, and therefore the judgment of the
older women was no more reliable than that of the girls. They might
think they were getting bargains, and perhaps were, but that was
problematic.

The one outstanding fact was that people were buying a lot of things
they had no use for, merely because they felt they were getting them
cheaply and that their money would be devoted to a good cause.

Mrs. Brown, who had given the Shop a lot of discarded articles,
purchased several discarded articles donated by Mrs. Smith, her
neighbor, while Mrs. Smith eagerly bought the cast-off wares of Mrs.
Brown. Either would have sneered at the bare idea of taking "truck"
which the other had abandoned, had the medium of exchange not been the
popular Liberty Girls' Shop. For it was a popular shop; the "best
families" patronized it; society women met there to chat and exchange
gossip; it was considered a mark of distinction and highly patriotic to
say: "Oh, yes; I've given the dear girls many really valuable things to
sell. They're doing such noble work, you know."

Even the eminent Mrs. Charleworth, premier aristocrat of Dorfield,
condescended to visit the Shop, not once but many times. She would sit
in one of the chairs in the rear of the long room and hold open court,
while her sycophants grouped around her, hanging on her words. For Mrs.
Charleworth's status was that of social leader; she was a middle-aged
widow, very handsome, wore wonderful creations in dress, was of
charming personality, was exceedingly wealthy and much traveled. When
she visited New York the metropolitan journals took care to relate the
interesting fact. Mrs. Charleworth was quite at home in London, Paris,
Berlin and Vienna; she was visiting friends in Dresden when the
European war began, and by advice of Herr Zimmerman, of the German
Foreign Office, who was in some way a relative, had come straight home
to avoid embarrassment. This much was generally known.

It had been a matter of public information in the little town for a
generation that Dick Charleworth had met the lady in Paris, when she
was at the height of her social glory, and had won the hand of the
beautiful girl and brought her to Dorfield as his wife. But the wealthy
young manufacturer did not long survive his marriage. On his death, his
widow inherited his fortune and continued to reside in the handsome
residence he had built, although, until the war disrupted European
society, she passed much time abroad.

The slight taint of German blood in Mrs. Charleworth's veins was not
regarded seriously in Dorfield. Her mother had been a Russian court
beauty; she spoke several languages fluently; she was discreet in
speech and negative in sympathy concerning the merits of the war. This
lasted, however, only while the United States preserved neutrality. As
soon as we cast our fortunes with the Allies, Mrs. Charleworth
organized the "Daughters of Helpfulness," an organization designed to
aid our national aims, but a society cult as well. Under its auspices
two private theatrical entertainments had been given at the Opera House
and the proceeds turned over to the Red Cross. A grand charity ball had
been announced for a future date.

It may easily be understood that when Mrs. Charleworth became a
patroness of the Liberty Girls' Shop, and was known to have made sundry
purchases there, the high standing of that unique enterprise was
assured. Some folks perhaps frequented the place to obtain a glimpse of
the great Mrs. Charleworth herself, but of course these were without
the pale of her aristocratic circle.

Their social triumph, however, was but one reason for the girls'
success; the youngsters were enticing in themselves, and they proved to
be clever in making sales. The first stock soon melted away and was
replaced by new contributions, which the girls took turns in
soliciting. The best residences in Dorfield were first canvassed, then
those of people in moderate circumstances. The merchants were not
overlooked and Mary Louise took the regular stores personally in
charge.

"Anything you have that you can't sell, we will take," was her slogan,
and most of the merchants found such articles and good-naturedly
contributed them to the Shop.

"Sooner or later we shall come to the end of our resources," predicted
Alora Jones. "We've ransacked about every house in town for
contributions."

"Let's make a second canvas then," suggested Lucile. "And especially,
let us make a second appeal to those who did not give us anything on
our first round. Our scheme wasn't thoroughly understood at first, you
know, but now folks regard it an honor to contribute to our stock."

"Yes," said Jane Donovan, "I had to laugh when Mrs. Charleworth asked
Mrs. Dyer yesterday what she had given us, and Mrs. Dyer stammered and
flushed and said that when we called on her the Dyers were only renting
the house and furniture, which belonged to the Dudley-Markhams, who are
in South America; but, Mrs. Dyer added, they have now bought the
place--old furniture and all--and perhaps she would yet find some items
she can spare."

"Very good," said Edna Barlow; "the Dyers are in my district and I'll
call upon them at once."

"Have the Dyers really bought the Dudley-Markham place?" asked Mary
Louise.

"So it seems," replied Jane.

"But--'it must have cost a lot of money."

"Isn't the Professor rich?" inquired Josie O'Gorman, who was present
and had listened quietly to the conversation.

"I-don't-know," answered Mary Louise, and the other girls forbore to
answer more definitely.

That evening, however, Josie approached the subject when she and Mary
Louise were sitting quietly at home and the conversation more
confidential.

"The Dyers," explained her friend, "were not very prosperous until the
Professor got the appointment as superintendent of schools. He was a
teacher in a boys' school for years, on a small salary, and everyone
was surprised when he secured the appointment."

"How did it happen?" asked Josie.

Mary Louise looked across at her grandfather.

"How did it happen, Gran'pa Jim?" she repeated.

The old colonel lowered his book.

"We haven't been residents of Dorfield many years," said he, "so I am
not well acquainted with the town's former history. But I remember to
have heard that the Herring political ring, which elected our Board of
Education, proposed John Dyer for the position of school
superintendent--and the Board promptly gave him the appointment."

"Was he properly qualified?" Josie asked.

"I think so. A superintendent is a sort of business manager. He doesn't
teach, you know. But I understand the Professor received his education
abroad--at Heidelburg--and is well versed in modern educational
methods. Our schools seem to be conducted very well."

Josie was thoughtful for a time, and after the colonel had resumed his
book, she asked Mary Louise:

"Who was Mrs. Dyer, before her marriage?"

"That is ancient history, as far as I am concerned, but I heard the
girls talking about her, just the other day. Her family, it seems, was
respectable but unimportant; yet Mrs. Dyer is very well liked. She's
not brilliant, but kindly. When we first came here, the Dyers lived in
a little cottage on Juniper street, and it is only lately that they
moved to the big house they've just bought. Mrs. Dyer is now trying
hard for social recognition, but seems to meet with little
encouragement. Mrs. Charleworth speaks to her, you know, but doesn't
invite Mrs. Dyer to her affairs."

Next day Edna Barlow, after a morning's quest of contributions,
returned to the Shop in triumph.

"There's almost a truck-load of stuff outside, to be unloaded," she
announced, "and a good half of it is from Mrs. Dyer--a lot of the old
Dudley-Markham rubbish, you know. It has class to it, girls, and when
it has been freshened up, we're sure to get good prices for the lot."

"I'm surprised that Mrs. Dyer was so liberal," said Mary Louise.

"Well, at first she said the Professor had gone to Chicago on business,
and so she couldn't do anything for us," replied Edna; "but I insisted
that we needed goods right now, so she finally said we could go up in
the attic, and rummage around, and take whatever we could find. My,
what a lot of useless stuff there was! That attic has more smashed and
battered and broken-legged furniture in it than would furnish six
houses--provided it was in shape. The accumulation of ages. But a lot
of it is antique, girls, and worth fixing up. I've made the best haul
of our career, I verily believe."

Then Laura Hilton, who had accompanied Edna, added:

"When Mrs. Dyer saw our men carrying all that stuff down, she looked as
if she regretted her act and would like to stop us. But she didn't--was
ashamed to, probably--so we lugged it off. Never having been used to
antique furniture, the poor woman couldn't realize the value of it."

"This seems to me almost like robbery," remarked Lucile, doubtfully.
"Do you think it right for us to take advantage of the woman's
ignorance?"

"Remember the Cause for which we fight!" admonished Irene, from her
chair. "If the things people are not using, and do not want, can
provide comforts for our soldier boys, we ought to secure them--if we
have to take them by force."

The attic of the old house had really turned out a number of
interesting articles. There were tables, stands, settees, chairs, and a
quaint old desk, set on a square pedestal with a base of carved lions'
feet. This last interested Josie as soon as it was carried into the
shop. The top part was somewhat dilapidated, the cover of the desk
being broken off and some of the "pigeonhole" compartments smashed. But
there was an odd lot of tiny drawers, located in every conceivable
place, all pretty well preserved, and the square pedestal and the base
were in excellent condition.

Josie open drawer after drawer and looked the old cabinet-desk over
thoroughly, quite unobserved because the others in the shop were
admiring a Chippendale chair or waiting upon their customers. Presently
Josie approached Mary Louise and asked:

"What will you take for the pedestal-desk--just as it stands?"

"Why, I'll let Irene put a price on it," was the reply. "She knows
values better than the rest of us."

"If it's fixed up, it will be worth twenty dollars," said Irene, after
wheeling her chair to the desk for a critical examination of it.

"Well, what will it cost to fix it up?" demanded Josie.

"Perhaps five dollars."

"Then I'll give you fifteen for it, just as it stands," proposed Josie.

"You? What could you do with the clumsy thing?"

"Ship it home to Washington," was the prompt reply. "It would tickle
Daddy immensely to own such an unusual article, so I want to make him a
present of it on his birthday."

"Hand over the fifteen dollars, please," decided Irene.

Josie paid the money. She caught the drayman who had unloaded the
furniture and hired him to take the desk at once to the Hathaway
residence. She even rode with the man, on the truck, and saw the
battered piece of furniture placed in her own room. Leaving it there,
she locked her door and went back to the Shop.

The girls were much amused when they learned they had made so important
a sale to one of themselves.

"If we had asked Mrs. Dyer to give us fifteen dollars, cold cash,"
remarked Laura, "she would have snubbed us properly; but the first
article from her attic which we sold has netted us that sum and I
really believe we will get from fifty to seventy-five dollars more out
of the rest of the stuff."

Mrs. Charleworth dropped in during the afternoon and immediately became
interested in the Dudley-Markham furniture. The family to whom it had
formerly belonged she knew had been one of the very oldest and most
important in Dorfield. The Dudley-Markhams had large interests in
Argentine and would make their future home there, but here were the
possessions of their grandmothers and great-grandmothers, rescued from
their ancient dust, and Mrs. Charleworth was a person who loved
antiques and knew their sentimental and intrinsic values.

"The Dyers were foolish to part with these things," she asserted. "Of
course, Mary Dyer isn't supposed to know antiques, but the professor
has lived abroad and is well educated."

"The professor wasn't at home," explained Edna. "Perhaps that was lucky
for us. He is in Chicago, and we pleaded so hard that Mrs. Dyer let us
go into the attic and help ourselves."

"Well, that proves she has a generous heart," said the grand lady, with
a peculiar, sphinx-like smile. "I will buy these two chairs, at your
price, when you are ready to sell them."

"We will hold them for you," replied Edna. "They're to be revarnished
and properly 'restored,' you know, and we've a man in our employ who
knows just how to do it."

When Mary Louise told Colonel Hathaway, jokingly, at dinner that
evening, of Josie's extravagant purchase, her girl friend accepted the
chaffing composedly and even with a twinkle in her baby-blue eyes. She
made no comment and led Mary Louise to discourse on other subjects.

That night Josie sat up late, locked in her own room, with only the
pedestal-desk for company. First she dropped to her knees, pushed up a
panel in the square base, and disclosed the fact that in this
inappropriate place were several cleverly constructed secret
compartments, two of which were well filled with papers. The papers
were not those of the Dudley-Markhams; they were not yellowed with age;
they were quite fresh.

"There!" whispered the girl, triumphantly; "the traitor is in my toils.
Is it just luck, I wonder, or has fate taken a hand in the game? How
the Kaiser would frown, if he knew what I am doing to-night; and how
Daddy would laugh! But--let's see!--perhaps this is just a wedge, and
I'll need a sledge-hammer to crack open the whole conspiracy."

The reason Josie stayed up so late was because she carefully examined
every paper and copied most of those she had found. But toward morning
she finished her self-imposed task, replaced the papers, slid the
secret panel into place and then dragged the rather heavy piece of
furniture into the far end of the deep closet that opened off her
bedroom. Before the desk she hung several dresses, quite masking it
from observation. Then she went to bed and was asleep in two minutes.


CHAPTER XIII
JOE LANGLEY, SOLDIER

Strange as it may seem, Mary Louise and her Liberty Girls were regarded
with envy by many of the earnest women of Dorfield, who were themselves
working along different lines to promote the interests of the
government in the Great War. Every good woman was anxious to do her
duty in this national emergency, but every good woman loves to have her
efforts appreciated, and since the advent of the bevy of pretty young
girls in the ranks of female patriotism, they easily became the
favorites in public comment and appreciation. Young men and old
cheerfully backed the Liberty Girls in every activity they undertook.
The Dorfield Red Cross was a branch of the wonderful national
organization; the "Hoover Conservation Club" was also national in its
scope; the "Navy League Knitting Knot" sent its work to Washington
headquarters; all were respectfully admired and financially assisted on
occasion. But the "Liberty Girls of Dorfield" were distinctly local and
a credit to the city. Their pretty uniforms were gloriously emblematic,
their fresh young faces glowed with enthusiasm, their specialty of
"helping our soldier boys" appealed directly to the hearts of the
people. Many a man, cold and unemotional heretofore in his attitude
toward the war, was won to a recognition of its menace, its
necessities, and his personal duty to his country, by the arguments and
example of the Liberty Girls. If there was a spark of manhood in him,
he would not allow a young girl to out-do him in patriotism.

Mary Louise gradually added to her ranks, as girl after girl begged to
be enrolled in the organization. After consulting the others, it was
decided to admit all desirable girls between the ages of 14 and 18, and
six companies were formed during the following weeks, each company
consisting of twenty girls. The captains were the original six--Alora,
Laura, Edna, Lucile, Jane and Mary Louise. Irene Macfarlane was made
adjutant and quartermaster, because she was unable to participate
actively in the regimental drills.

Mary Louise wanted Josie to be their general, but Josie declined. She
even resigned, temporarily, from membership, saying she had other
duties to attend to that would require all her time. Then the girls
wanted Mary Louise to be general of the Dorfield Liberty Girls, but she
would not consent.

"We will just have the six companies and no general at all," she said.
"Nor do we need a colonel, or any officers other than our captains.
Each and every girl in our ranks is just as important and worthy of
honor as every other girl, so the fewer officers the better."

About this time Joe Langley came back from France with one arm gone. He
was Sergeant Joe Langley, now, and wore a decoration for bravery that
excited boundless admiration and pride throughout all Dorfield. Joe had
driven a milk wagon before he left home and went to Canada to join the
first contingent sent abroad, but no one remembered his former humble
occupation. A hero has no past beyond his heroism. The young man's
empty sleeve and his decoration admitted him to intercourse with the
"best society" of Dorfield, which promptly placed him on a pedestal.

"You know," said Joe, rather shamefacedly deprecating the desire to
lionize him, "there wasn't much credit in what I did. I'm even sorry I
did it, for my foolishness sent me to the hospital an' put me out o'
the war. But there was Tom McChesney, lyin' out there in No Man's Land,
with a bullet in his chest an' moanin' for water. Tom was a good chum
o' mine, an' I was mad when I saw him fall--jest as the Boches was
drivin' us back to our trenches. I know'd the poor cuss was in misery,
an' I know'd what I'd expect a chum o' mine to do if I was in Tom's
place. So out I goes, with my Cap'n yellin' at me to stop, an' I got to
Tom an' give him a good, honest swig. The bullets pinged around us,
although I saw a German officer--a decent young fellow--try to keep his
men from shootin'. But he couldn't hold 'em in, so I hoisted Tom on my
back an' started for our trenches. Got there, too, you know, jest as a
machine-gun over to the right started spoutin'. It didn't matter my
droppin' Tom in the trench an' tumblin' after him. The boys buried him
decent while the sawbones was cuttin' what was left of my arm away, an'
puttin' me to sleep with dope. It was a fool trick, after all, 'though
God knows I'll never forget the look in Tom's eyes as he swallered that
swig o' cool water. That's all, folks. I'm out o' the game, an' I
s'pose the Gen'ral jus' pinned this thing on my coat so I wouldn't take
my discharge too much to heart."

That was Joe Langley. Do you wonder they forgot he was once a milk-man,
or that every resident of Dorfield swelled with pride at the very sight
of him? Just one of "our soldier boys," just one of the boys the
Liberty Girls were trying to assist.

"They're all alike," said Mary Louise. "I believe every American
soldier would be a Joe Langley if he had the chance."

Joe took a mighty interest in the Liberty Girls. He volunteered to
drill and make soldiers of them, and so well did he perform this task--
perhaps because they admired him and were proud of their drill-master--
that when the last big lot of selected draft men marched away, the
entire six companies of Liberty Girls marched with them to the train--
bands playing and banners flying--and it was conceded to be one of the
greatest days Dorfield had ever known, because everyone cheered until
hoarse.


CHAPTER XIV
THE PROFESSOR IS ANNOYED

Josie O'Gorman, after resigning from the Liberty Girls, became--so she
calmly stated--a "loafer." She wandered around the streets of Dorfield
in a seemingly aimless manner, shopped at the stores without buying,
visited the houses of all sorts of people, on all sorts of gossipy
errands, interviewed lawyers, bankers and others in an inconsequential
way that amused some and annoyed others, and conducted herself so
singularly that even Mary Louise was puzzled by her actions.

But Josie said to Mary Louise: "My, what a lot I'm learning! There's
nothing more interesting--or more startling--or, sometimes, more
repulsive--than human nature."

"Have you learned anything about the German spy plot?" questioned Mary
Louise eagerly.

"Not yet. My quest resembles a cart-wheel. I go all around the outer
rim first, and mark the spokes when I come to them. Then I follow each
spoke toward the center. They'll all converge to the hub, you know, and
when I've reached the hub, with all my spokes of knowledge radiating
from it, I'm in perfect control of the whole situation."

"Oh. How far are you from the hub, Josie?"

"I'm still marking the spokes, Mary Louise."

"Are there many of them?"

"More than I suspected."

"Well, I realize, dear, that you'll tell me nothing until you are ready
to confide in me; but please remember, Josie, how impatient I am and
how I long to bring the traitors to justice."

"I won't forget, Mary Louise. We're partners in this case and perhaps I
shall ask your help, before long. Some of my spokes may be blinds and
until I know something positive there's no use in worrying you with
confidences which are merely surmises."

Soon after this conversation Mary Louise found herself, as head of the
Liberty Girls, in an embarrassing position. Professor Dyer returned
from Chicago on an evening train and early next morning was at the Shop
even before its doors were opened, impatiently awaiting the arrival of
Mary Louise.

"There has been a mistake," he said to her, hastily, as she smilingly
greeted him; "in my absence Mrs. Dyer has thoughtlessly given you some
old furniture, which I value highly. It was wife's blunder, of course,
but I want back two of the articles and I'm willing to pay your Shop as
much for them as you could get elsewhere."

"Oh, I'm awfully sorry, Professor," said the girl, really distressed,
as she unlocked the Shop door. "Come in, please. Mrs. Dyer told our
girls to go into the attic and help themselves to anything they wanted.
We've done splendidly with the old furniture, and fenders, and
brassware, but I hope the two articles you prize are still unsold. If
so, you shall not pay us for them, but we will deliver them to your
house immediately."

He did not reply, for already he was searching through the accumulation
of odds and ends with which the store-room was stocked.

"Perhaps I can help you," suggested Mary Louise.

He turned to her, seeming to hesitate.

"One was a chair; a chair with spindle legs and a high back, richly
carved. It is made of black oak, I believe."

"Oh, I remember that well," said the girl. "Mrs. Charleworth bought it
from us."

"Mrs. Charleworth? Well, perhaps she will return it to me. I know the
lady slightly and will explain that I did not wish to part with it."
Still his eyes were roving around the room, and his interest in the
chair seemed somewhat perfunctory. "The other piece of furniture was a
sort of escritoire, set on a square pedestal that had a carved base of
lions' feet." His voice had grown eager now, although he strove to
render it calm, and there was a ring of anxiety in his words.

Mary Louise felt relieved as she said assuringly:

"That, at least, I can promise you will be returned. My friend, Josie
O'Gorman, bought it and had it sent to our house, where she is
visiting. As soon as some of the girls come here to relieve me, I'll
take you home with me and have Uncle Eben carry the desk to your house
in our motor car. It isn't so very big, and Uncle Eben can manage it
easily."

The tense look on the man's face relaxed. It evident that Professor
Dyer was greatly relieved.

"Thank you," he said; "I'd like to get it back as soon as possible."

But when, half an hour later, they arrived at the Hathaway residence,
and met Josie just preparing to go out, the latter said with a
bewildered look in her blue eyes: "The old desk? Why, I sent that home
to Washington days ago!"

"You did?" Mary Louise was quite surprised. "Why, you said nothing to
me about that, Josie."

"I didn't mention it because I'd no idea you were interested. Daddy
loves old things, and I sent it home so he would have it on his return.
By freight. You are away at the Shop all day, you know, so I asked
Uncle Eben to get me a big box, which he brought to my room. The desk
fitted it nicely. I nailed on the cover myself, and Uncle Eben took it
to the freight office for me. See; here's the receipt, in my
pocket-book."

She unfolded a paper and held it out to Professor Dyer, who read it
with a queer look on his face. It was, indeed, a freight receipt for
"one piece of furniture, boxed," to be shipped to John O'Gorman,
Washington, D. C, The sender was described as "Miss J. O'Gorman,
Dorfield." There was no questioning Josie's veracity, but she called
the black servant to substantiate her story.

"Yes, Miss Josie," said Uncle Eben, "I done took de box to de freight
office an' got de receipt, lak yo' tol' me. Tuesday, it were; las'
Tuesday."

Professor Dyer was thoughtful.

"You say your father is away from home at present?" he asked.

"Yes; he's abroad."

"Do you suppose the freight office in Washington would deliver the box
to me, on your order?"

"I'm afraid not," said Josie, "It's consigned to John O'Gorman, and
only John O'Gorman can sign for its receipt."

Again the Professor reflected. He seemed considerably disturbed.

"What is the business of John O'Gorman, your father?" he presently
inquired.

"He's a member of the government's secret service," Josie replied,
watching his face.

The professor's eyes widened; he stood a moment as if turned to stone.
Then he gave a little, forced laugh and said:

"I'm obliged to make a trip to Washington, on business, and I thought
perhaps I'd pick up the--ah--the box, there, and ship to Dorfield.
The old desk isn't valuable, except--except that it's--ah--antique
and--unusual. I'd like to get it back and I'll return to you the money you
paid for it, and the freight charges. If you'll write a note to the
railway company, saying the box was wrongly addressed and asking that
it be delivered to my order, I think I can get it."

Josie agreed to this at once. She wrote the note and also gave
Professor Dyer the freight receipt. But she refused to take his money.

"There might be some hitch," she explained. "If you get the box, and it
reaches Dorfield safely, then I'll accept the return of my money; but
railroads are unreliable affairs and have queer rules, so let's wait
and see what happens."

The Professor assured her, however, that there was no doubt of his
getting the box, but he Would wait to pay her, if she preferred to let
the matter rest. When he had gone away--seeming far more cheerful than
when he came--Mary Louise said to Josie:

"This is a very unfortunate and embarrassing affair, all around. I'm so
sorry we took that furniture from Mrs. Dyer before her husband came
home and gave his consent. It is very embarrassing."

"I'm glad, for my part," was the reply. Josie's blue eyes were shining
innocently and her smile was very sweet. Mary Louise regarded her
suspiciously.

"What is it, Josie!" she demanded. "What has that old desk to do
with--with--"

"The German spy plot? Just wait and see, Mary Louise."

"You won't tell me?"

"Not now, dear."

"But why did you ship the thing to Washington, if it is likely to prove
a valuable clue?"

"Why ask questions that I can't answer? See here, Mary Louise: it isn't
wise, or even safe, for me to tell you anything just yet. What I know
frightens me--even _me!_ Can't you wait and--trust me?"

"Oh, of course," responded Mary Louise in a disappointed voice. "But I
fail to understand what Professor Dyer's old desk can possibly have to
do with our quest."

Josie laughed.

"It used to belong to the Dudley-Markhams."

"The Dudley-Markhams! Great heavens, But--see here--they left Dorfield
long before this war started, and so--"

"I'm going out," was Josie's inconsequent remark. "Do you think those
are rain clouds, Mary Louise? I hate to drag around an umbrella if it's
not needed."


CHAPTER XV
SUSPENDERS FOR SALE

The two girls parted at the Liberty Shop. Mary Louise went in "to
attend to business," while Josie O'Gorman strolled up the street and
paused thoughtfully before the windows of Kasker's Clothing Emporium.
At first she didn't notice that it was Kasker's; she looked in the
windows at the array of men's wear just so she could think quietly,
without attracting attention, for she was undecided as to her next
move. But presently, realizing this was Kasker's place, she gave a
little laugh and said to herself: "This is the fellow poor little Mary
Louise suspected of being the arch traitor. I wonder if he knows
anything at all, or if I could pump it out of him if he does? Guess
I'll interview old Jake, if only to satisfy myself that he's the
harmless fool I take him to be."

With this in mind she walked into the store. A clerk met her; other
clerks were attending to a few scattered customers.

"Is Mr. Kasker in?" she asked the young man.

"In his office, miss; to the right, half way down."

He left her to greet another who entered and Josie walked down the
aisle, as directed. The office was raised a step above the main floor
and was railed in, with a small swinging gate to allow entrance. This
was not the main business office but the proprietor's special den and
his desk was placed so he could overlook the entire establishment, with
one glance. Just at present Kasker was engaged in writing, or figuring,
for his bushy head was bent low.

Josie opened the gate, walked in and took a chair that stood beside the
desk.

"Good morning, Mr. Kasker," she said sweetly.

He looked up, swept her with a glance and replied:

"What's the matter? Can't one of the clerks attend to you? I'm busy."

"I'll wait," was Josie's quiet reply. "I'd rather deal with you than a
clerk."

He hesitated, laid down his pen and turned his chair toward her. She
knew the man, by sight, but if he had ever seen the girl he did not
recall the fact. His tone was now direct and businesslike.

"Very well, miss; tell me what I can do for you."

It had only taken her an instant to formulate her speech.

"I'm interested in the poor children of Dorfield," she began, "having
been sent here as the agent of an organization devoted to clothing our
needy little ones. I find, since I have been soliciting subscriptions
in Dorfield and investigating the requirements of the poor, that there
are a lot of boys, especially, in this city who are in rags, and I want
to purchase for them as many outfits as my money will allow. But on
account of the war, and its demands on people formerly charitably
inclined, I realize my subscription money is altogether too little to
do what I wish. That's too bad, but it's true. Everywhere they talk
war--war---war and its hardships. The war demands money for taxes,
bonds, mess funds, the Red Cross and all sorts of things, and in
consequence our poor are being sadly neglected."

He nodded, somewhat absently, but said nothing. Josie felt her clever
bait had not been taken, as she had expected, so she resolved to be
more audacious in her remarks.

"It seems a shame," she said with assumed indignation, "that the poor
of the country must starve and be in want, while the money is all
devoted to raising an army for the Germans to shoot and mangle."

He saw the point and answered with a broad smile:

"Is that the alternative, young lady? Must one or the other happen?
Well--yes; the soldiers must be killed, God help 'em! But _himmel!_ We
don't let our kiddies freeze for lack of clothes, do we? See here;
they're taking everything away from us merchants--our profits, our
goods, everything!--but the little we got left the kiddies can have.
The war is a robber; it destroys; it puts its hand in an honest man's
pocket without asking his consent; all wars do that. The men who make
wars have no souls--no mercy. But they make wars. Wars are desperate
things and require desperate methods. There is always the price to pay,
and the people always pay it. The autocrats of war do not say 'Please!'
to us; they say 'Hold up your hands!' and so--what is there to do but
hold up our hands?"

Josie was delighted; she was exultant; Jake Kasker was falling into her
trap very swiftly.

"But the little ones," he continued, suddenly checking himself in his
tirade, "must not be made to suffer like the grown-up folks. They, at
least, are innocent of it all. Young lady, I'd do more for the kids
than I'd do for the war--and I'll do it willingly, of my own accord.
Tell me, then, how much money you got and I'll give you the boys' suits
at cost price. I'll do more; for every five suits you buy from me at
cost, I'll throw an extra one in, free--Jake Kasker's own
contribution."

This offer startled and somewhat dismayed Josie. She had not expected
the interview to take such a turn, and Kasker's generosity seriously
involved her, while, at the same time, it proved to her without a doubt
that the man was a man. He was loud mouthed and foolish; that was all.

While she gathered her wits to escape from an unpleasant situation, a
quick step sounded on the aisle and a man brusquely entered the office
and exclaimed:

"Hello, Jake; I'm here again. How's the suspender stock?"

Kasker gave him a surly look.

"You come pretty often, Abe Kauffman," he muttered. "Suspenders? Bah! I
only buy 'em once a year, and you come around ev'ry month or so. I
don't think it pays you to keep pesterin' merchants."

Abe Kauffman laughed--a big laugh--and sat down in a chair.

"One time you buy, Jake, and other times I come to Dorfield somebody
else buys. How do I know you don't get a run on suspenders some time?
And if I don't visit all my customers, whether they buy or not, they
think I neglect 'em. Who's this, Jake? Your daughter?"

He turned his bland smile on Josie. He was a short, thickset man with a
German cast of countenance. He spoke with a stronger German accent than
did Kasker. Though his face persistently smiled, his eyes were half
closed and shrewd. When he looked at her, Josie gave a little shudder
and slightly drew back.

"Ah, that's a wrong guess," said Mr. Kauffman quickly. "I must beg your
pardon, my girl. But I meant a compliment to you both. Accept my card,
please," and he drew it from his pocket and handed it to her with a
bow.

Josie glanced at it:

"KAUFFMAN SUSPENDER COMPANY,
Chicago.
Abe Kauffman, President."

"My business does not interest ladies," he went on in a light tone
meant to be jovial. "But with the men--ah!--with the men it's a hold-up
game. Ha, ha, hee! One of our trade jokes. It's an elastic business;
Kauffman's suspenders keep their wearers in suspense. Ha, ha; pretty
good, eh?"

"Do you ever sell any?" asked Josie curiously.

"Do I? Do I, Jake? Ha, ha! But not so many now; the war has ruined the
suspender business, like everything else. Kasker can tell you that,
miss."

"Kasker won't, though," asserted Jake in a surly tone. The girl,
however, was now on another scent.

"Don't you like the war, then?" Josie asked the salesman.

"Like it?" the eyes half opened with a flash. "Who likes war, then?
Does humanity, which bears the burden? For me--myself--I'll say war is
a good thing, but I won't tell you why or how I profit by it; I'll only
say war is a curse to humanity and if I had the power I'd stop it
tomorrow--to-day--this very hour! And, at that, I'd lose by it."

His voice shook with a passion almost uncontrollable. He half rose from
his chair, with clinched fists. But, suddenly remembering himself, or
reading the expression on the girl's face, he sank back again, passed
his hand over his face and forced another bland, unmirthful smile.

"I'd hate to be the man who commits his country to war," he said in
mild, regretful tones.

But here, Kasker, who had been frowning darkly on the suspender man,
broke in.

"See here, Abe; I don't allow that kind of talk in my store," he
growled.

"You? You're like me; you hate the war, Jake."

"I did once, Abe, but I don't now. I ain't got time to hate it. It's
here, and I can't help it. We're in the war and we're going ahead to
win it, 'cause there ain't no hope in backing down. Stop it? Why, man,
we _can't_ stop it. It's like a man who is pushed off a high bank into
a river; he's got to swim to a landing on the other side, or
else--sink. We Americans ain't goin' to sink, Abe Kauffman; we'll swim
over, and land safe. It's got to be; so it will be."

"All right. I said, didn't I, that it won't hurt my pocket? But it
hurts my heart." (Josie was amazed that he claimed a heart.) "But it's
funny to hear _you_ talk for the war, Jake, when you always hated it."

"Well, I've quit kickin' till we're out of the woods. I'm an American,
Abe, and the American flag is flying in France. If our boys can't hold
it in the face of the enemy, Jake Kasker will go do it himself!"

Kauffman stood up, casting a glance of scorn on his customer.

"You talk like a fool, Jake; you talk like you was talking for the
papers--not honest, but as if someone had scared you."

"Yes; it's the fellows like you that scare me," retorted the clothing
merchant. "Ev'ry time you curse the war you're keeping us from winning
the war as quick as we ought to; you're tripping the soldiers, the
government, the President--the whole machine. I'll admit I don't _like_
the war, but I'm _for_ it, just the same. Can you figure that out, Abe
Kauffman? Once I had more sense than you have, but now I got a better
way of thinking. It ain't for me to say whether the war's right or not;
my country's honor is at stake, so I'll back my country to the last
ditch."

Kauffman turned away.

"I guess you don't need any suspenders," he said, and walked out of the
store.

Kasker gave a sigh of relief and sat down again.

"Now, young lady," he began, "we'll talk about--"

"Excuse me," said Josie hastily. "I'm going, now; but I'll be back. I
want to see you again, Mr. Kasker."

She ran down the aisle to the door, looked up and down the street and
saw the thick-set form of the suspender salesman just disappearing
around the corner to the south. Instantly she stepped out. Josie was an
expert in the art of shadowing.


CHAPTER XVI
MRS. CHARLEWORTH

When Mary Louise reached home that evening she was surprised to find a
note from Josie which said:

"I've decided to change my boarding place for a week or so, although I
shall miss Aunt Sally's cooking and a lot of other comforts. But this
is business. If you meet me in the street, don't recognize me unless
I'm quite alone. We've quarrelled, if anyone asks you. Pretty soon
we'll make up again and be friends. Of course, you'll realize I'm
working on our case, which grows interesting. So keep mum and behave."

"I wish I knew where she's gone," was Mary Louise's anxious comment, as
she showed the note to Gran'pa Jim.

"Don't worry, my dear," advised the colonel. "Josie possesses the rare
faculty of being able to take care of herself under all circumstances.
Had she not been so peculiarly trained by her detective father I would
feel it a duty to search for her, but she is not like other girls and
wouldn't thank us for interfering, I'm sure."

"I can't see the necessity of her being so mysterious about it,"
declared the girl. "Josie ought to know I'm worthy of her confidence.
And she said, just the other day, that we're partners."

"You must be the silent partner, then," said her grandfather, smiling
at her vexed expression. "Josie is also worthy of confidence. She may
blunder, but if so, she'll blunder cleverly. I advise you to be patient
with her."

"Well, I'll try, Gran'pa. When we see her again she will probably know
something important," said Mary Louise resignedly.

As for little, red-headed Josie O'Gorman, she walked into the office of
the Mansion House that afternoon, lugging a battered suit-case borrowed
from Aunt Sally, and asked the clerk at the desk for weekly rates for
room and board. The clerk spoke to Mr. Boyle, the proprietor, who
examined the girl critically.

"Where are you from?" he asked.

"New York," answered Josie. "I'm a newspaper woman, but the war cost me
my job, because the papers are all obliged to cut down their forces. So
I came here to get work."

"The war affects Dorfield, too, and we've only two papers," said the
man. "But your business isn't my business, in any event. I suppose you
can pay in advance?"

"For a week, anyhow," she returned; "perhaps two weeks: If the papers
can't use me, I'll try for some other work."

"Know anybody here?"

"I know Colonel Hathaway, but I'm not on good terms with his
granddaughter, Mary Louise. We had a fight over the war. Give me a
quiet room, not too high up. This place looks like a fire-trap."

As she spoke, she signed her name on the register and opened her purse.

Boyle looked over his keyboard.

"Give me 47, if you can," said Josie carelessly. She had swiftly run
her eye over the hotel register. "Forty-seven is always my lucky
number."

"It's taken," said the clerk.

"Well, 43 is the next best," asserted Josie. "I made forty-three
dollars the last week I was in New York. Is 43 taken, also?"

"No," said Boyle, "but I can do better by you. Forty-three is a small
room and has only one window."

"Just the thing!" declared Josie. "I hate big rooms."

He assigned her to room 43 and after she had paid a week in advance a
bellboy showed her to the tiny apartment and carried her suitcase.

"Number 45'll be vacant in a day or two," remarked the boy, as he
unlocked her door. "Kauffman has it now, but he won't stay long. He's a
suspender drummer and comes about every month--sometimes oftener--and
always has 45. When he goes, I'll let you know, so you can speak for
it. Forty-five is one of our best rooms."

"Thank you," said Josie, and tipped him a quarter.

As she opened her suitcase and settled herself in the room, she
reflected on the meeting in Kasker's store which had led her to make
this queer move.

"A fool for luck, they say," she muttered. "I wonder what intuition
induced me to interview Jake Kasker. The clothing merchant isn't a bad
fellow," she continued to herself, looking over the notes she had made
on her tablets. "He didn't make a single disloyal speech. Hates the
war, and I can't blame him for that, but wants to fight it to a finish.
Now, the other man--Kauffman--hates the war, too, but he did not make
any remark that was especially objectionable; but that man's face
betrayed more than his words, and some of his words puzzled me.
Kauffman said, at two different times, that the war would make him
money. There's only one way a man like him can make money out of the
war, and that is--by serving the Kaiser. I suppose he thought we
wouldn't catch that idea, or he'd been more careful what he said. All
criminals are reckless in little ways; that's how they betray
themselves and give us a chance to catch them. However, I haven't
caught this fellow yet, and he's tricky enough to give me a long chase
unless I act boldly and get my evidence before he suspects I'm on his
trail. That must be my programme--to act quickly and lose no time."

Kauffman saw her when she entered the hotel dining room for dinner that
evening, and he walked straight over to her table and sat down opposite
her.

"Met again!" he said with his broad smile. "You selling something?"

"Brains," returned Josie composedly.

"Good! Did Jake Kasker buy any of you?"

"I've all my stock on hand, sir. I'm a newspaper woman--special writer
or advertising expert. Quit New York last week and came on here."

"Wasn't New York good enough for you?" he asked, after ordering his
dinner of the waitress.

"I'm too independent to suit the metropolitan journals. I couldn't
endorse their gumshoe policies. For instance, they wanted me to
eulogize President Wilson and his cabinet, rave over the beauties of
the war and denounce any congressman or private individual who dares
think for himself," explained Josie, eating her soup the while.
"So--I'm looking for another job."

Kauffman maintained silence, studying the bill-of-fare. When he was
served he busied himself eating, but between the slits of his
half-closed eyes he regarded the girl furtively from, time to time. His
talkative mood had curiously evaporated. He was thoughtful. Only when
Josie was preparing to leave the table did he resume the conversation.

"What did you think of Jake Kasker's kind of patriotism?" he asked.

"Oh; the clothing man? I didn't pay much attention. Never met Kasker
before, you know. Isn't he like most of the rabble, thinking what he's
told to think and saying what he's told to say?"

She waited for a reply, but none was forthcoming. Even this clever lead
did not get a rise out of Abe Kauffman. Indeed, he seemed to suspect a
trap, for when she rose and walked out of the dining room she noticed
that his smile had grown ironical.

On reaching her room through the dimly lighted passage, Josie refrained
from turning on her own lights, but she threw open her one little
window and leaned out. The window faced a narrow, unlighted alley at
the rear of the hotel. One window of Room 45, next to her, opened on an
iron fire-escape that reached to within a few feet of the ground. Josie
smiled, withdrew her head and sat in the dark of her room for hours,
with a patience possible only through long training.

At ten o'clock Kauffman entered his room. She could distinctly hear him
moving about. A little later he went away, walking boldly down the
corridor to the elevator.

Josie rose and slipped on her hat and coat.

Leaving the hotel, Kauffman made his way down the street to Broadway,
Dorfield's main thoroughfare. He wore a soft hat and carried a cane.
The few people he passed paid no attention to him. Steadily proceeding,
he left the business district and after a while turned abruptly to the
right.

This was one of the principal residence sections of the city. Kauffman
turned the various corners with a confidence that denoted his perfect
acquaintance with the route. But presently his pace slowed and he came
to a halt opposite an imposing mansion set far back in ample grounds,
beautifully cared for and filled with rare shrubbery.

Only for a moment, however, did the man hesitate--just long enough to
cast a glance up and down the deserted street, which was fairly well
lighted. No one being in sight, he stepped from the sidewalk to the
lawn, and keeping the grass under his feet, noiselessly made his way
through the shrubbery to the south side of the residence. Here a
conservatory formed a wing which jutted into the grounds.

The German softly approached, mounted the three steps leading to a
glass door, and rapped upon the sash in a peculiar manner. Almost
immediately the door was opened by a woman, who beckoned him in. The
conservatory was unlighted save by a mellow drift that filtered through
the plants from a doorway beyond, leading to the main house.

From behind the concealment of a thick bush Josie O'Gorman had noted
the woman's form but was unable to see her face. The girl happened to
know the house, however. It was the residence of Dorfield's social
leader, Mrs. Charleworth.

Josie squatted behind that bush for nearly half an hour. Then the glass
door opened and Kauffman stepped out.

"By the way," he said in a low voice, "it's just as well we didn't take
Kasker in with us. He's a loud-mouthed fool. I've tested him and find
he blats out everything he knows."

"We do not need him, since I've decided to finance the affair,"
returned the woman, and Josie recognized her voice. It was the great
Mrs. Charleworth herself. Mrs. Charleworth, in secret conference with
Abe Kauffman, the suspender salesman!

Then Josie experienced another surprise. A second man stepped through
the shadowy doorway, joining Kauffman on the steps.

"It seems to me," said this last person, "that there is danger in
numbers. Of course, that's your affair, Kauffman, and none of my
business, but if I'm to help you pull it off, I'd rather there wouldn't
be too many of us. It's a ticklish thing, at the best, and--"

"Shut up!" growled Kauffman, suspiciously peering around him into the
darkness. "The less we talk in the open, the better."

"That is true. Good night," said the woman, and went in, closing the
door behind her.

"I think I will light a cigar," said Kauffman.

"Wait until you are in the street," cautioned the other.

They walked on the grass, avoiding the paths and keeping in the darkest
places. Finally they emerged upon the sidewalk, and finding the coast
clear, traveled on side by side.

At times they conversed in low tones, so low that the little red-headed
girl, dodging through the parkings in their wake, could not overhear
the words they spoke. But as they approached the more frequented part
of the town, they separated, Kauffman turning into Broadway and the
other continuing along a side street.

Josie O'Gorman followed the latter person. He was tall and thin and
stooped a trifle. She had been unable, so far, to see his face. He
seemed, from the turnings he made, to be skirting the business section
rather than pass directly through it. So the girl took a chance, darted
down one street and around the corner of another, and then slipped into
a dim doorway near which hung an electric street-light.

She listened eagerly and soon was rewarded by a sound of footsteps. The
man she was shadowing leisurely approached, passed under the light and
continued on his way, failing to note the motionless form of the girl
in the doorway.

Josie gave a little laugh.

"You're a puzzling proposition, Professor," she whispered to herself,
"and you came near fooling me very properly. For I imagined you were on
your way to Washington, and here you've mixed up with another important
job!"


CHAPTER XVII
THE BLACK SATCHEL

When Josie reached the hotel it was nearly midnight. Half the lights in
the office had been extinguished and behind the desk, reading a novel,
the night clerk sprawled in an easy chair.

She hadn't seen the night clerk before. He was a sallow-faced boy,
scarcely twenty years old, attired in a very striking suit of clothes
and wearing a gorgeous jewelled scarf-pin in his cravat. As he read, he
smoked a cigarette.

"Hello," said this brilliant individual, as Josie leaned over the
counter and regarded him with a faint smile. "You're No. 43, I guess,
and it's lucky old Boyle ain't here to read you a lecture--or to turn
you out. He won't stand for unmarried lady guests bein' out till this
hour, an' you may as well know it first as last."

"He's quite right," was Josie's calm reply. "I'll not do it again. My
key, please!"

He rose reluctantly and gave her the key.

"Do you sit up all night?" she asked sweetly.

"I'm s'posed to," he answered in a tone less gruff, "but towards
mornin' I snooze a little. Only way to pass the time, with noth'n' to
do an' nobody to talk to. It's a beastly job, at the best, an' I'm
goin' to quit it."

"Why don't you start a hotel of your own?" she suggested.

"You think you're kiddin' me, don't you? But I might even do that, if I
wanted to," he asserted, glaring at her as if he challenged
contradiction. "It ain't money that stops me, but hotel keepin' is a
dog's life. I've made a bid for a cigar-store down the street, an' if
they take me up, somebody can have this job."

"I see you're ambitious," said Josie. "Well, I hope you get the
cigar-store. Good night, Mr.--"

"My name's Tom Linnet. I won't tell the ol' boy you was out so late. So
long."

The elevator had stopped running, so Josie climbed the stairs and went
thoughtfully to her room. Kauffman had preceded her. She heard him drop
his shoes heavily upon the floor as he undressed.

She turned on the light and made some notes on her tablets, using the
same queer characters that she always employed. The last note read:
"Tom Linnet, night clerk at the Mansion House. New clothes; new
jewelry. Has money. Recently acquired, for no one with money would be a
night clerk. Wants to quit his job and buy a cigar store. Query: Who
staked Tom? And why?"

As she crawled into bed Josie reflected: "Mary Louise would be
astonished if she knew what I have learned to-night. But then, I'm
astonished myself. I feel like the boy who went fishing for sunfish and
caught a whale."

Next morning she was up early, alert to continue her investigations.
When she heard Mr. Kauffman go down to breakfast she took a bunch of
pass-keys from her bag, went boldly through the hall to the door of 45,
unlocked it with ease and walked in. A hurried glance showed her a
large suitcase lying open upon a table. She examined its contents. One
side was filled with samples of suspenders, the other with
miscellaneous articles of male apparel.

Josie was not satisfied. She peered under the bed, softly opened all
the drawers in the dresser and finally entered the closet. Here, on the
rear shelf, a newspaper was placed in such manner as to hide from
observation anything behind it. To an ordinary person, glancing toward
it, the newspaper meant nothing; to Josie's practised eye it was
plainly a shield. Being short of stature, the girl had to drag in a
chair in order to reach the high shelf. She removed the newspaper, took
down a black hand-satchel--it was dreadfully heavy and she almost
dropped it--and then replaced the paper as it had been before.

Josie was jubilant. She removed the chair, again closed the closet
door, and leaving the room practically as she had found it stole back
to her own apartment, the heavy satchel concealed in the folds of her
frock. But no one saw her, the hall being vacant, and she breathed a
sigh of relief as she locked her own door against possible intruders.

Then she placed the black satchel on a stand and bent over it. The lock
was an unusual one. She tried all the slender keys upon her bunch
without effect--they were either too large or did not fit the keyhole.
Next she took a thin hairpin, bent and twisted it this way and that and
tried to pry the lock open. Failure. However, she was beginning to
understand the mechanism of the lock by this time. From that
all-containing handbag which was her inseparable companion she drew out
a file, and taking one of the master-keys, began to file it to fit the
lock of the black satchel.

This operation consumed more time than she was aware, so interesting
was the intricate work. She was presently startled by a sound in the
corridor. Mr. Kauffman was coming back to his room, whistling an aria
from "Die Walkure." Josie paused, motionless; her heart almost stopped
beating.

The man unlocked his door and entered, still whistling. Sometimes the
whistle was soft and low, again it was louder and more cheerful. Josie
listened in suspense. As long as the whistling continued she realized
that the theft of the black satchel remained undiscovered.

Kauffman remained in his room but a few moments. When he departed,
carefully locking his door after him, he was still whistling. Josie ran
to her own door and when he had passed it opened it just a crack, to
enable her to gaze after him. Underneath his arm he carried a bundle of
the sample suspenders.

"Good!" she whispered softly, retreating to bend over the satchel
again. "Mr. Abe Kauffman will sell suspenders this morning as a blind
to his more important industries, so I needn't hurry."

Sooner than she expected the lock clicked and sprang open. Her eyes at
first fell upon some crumpled, soiled shirts, but these she hurriedly
removed. The remainder of the satchel contained something enclosed in a
green flannel bag. It was heavy, as she found when she tried to lift it
out, and a sudden suspicion led her to handle the thing very gingerly.
She put it on the table beside the satchel and cautiously untied the
drawstring at the mouth of the bag. A moment later she had uncovered a
round ball of polished blue steel, to which was attached a tube covered
with woven white cotton.

Josie fell back on a chair, fairly gasping, and stared with big eyes at
the ball. In her desire to investigate the possessions of the suspender
salesman she had scarcely expected to find anything like this. The most
she had hoped to discover were incriminating papers.

"It's a bomb!" she stammered, regarding the thing fearfully; "a real,
honest-for-true bomb. And it is meant to carry death and destruction to
loyal supporters of our government. There's no doubt of that. But--"
The thoughts that followed so amazing an assertion were too bewildering
to be readily classified. They involved a long string of conjectures,
implicating in their wide ramifications several persons of important
standing in the community. The mere suggestion of what she had
uncovered sufficed to fill Josie's heart and brain with terror.

"Here! I mustn't try to think it out just yet," she told herself,
trying with a little shiver of repulsion for the thing to collect her
wits. "One idea at a time, Josie, my girl, or you'll go nutty and spoil
everything! Now, here's a bomb--a live, death-dealing bomb--and that's
the first and only thing to be considered at present."

Controlling her aversion and fear, the girl turned the bomb over and
over, giving it a thorough examination. She had never seen such a thing
before, but they had often been explained to her and she had an inkling
as to the general method of their construction. This one before her was
of beautiful workmanship, its surface as carefully turned and polished
as if it had been intended for public exhibition. Grooves had been cut
in the outer surface and within these grooves lay the coils of the time
fuse, which was marked with black ink into regular sections. The first
section from the end of the fuse was marked "6;" the next section "5"
and so on down to the section nearest the bomb, which was divided by
the marks "1"--"1/2"--"1/4."

"I see," said Josie, nodding her head with intelligent perception.
"Each section, when lighted, will burn for one hour, running along its
groove but harmless until the end of the fuse is reached. If the entire
fuse is lighted, it will require just six hours to explode the bomb,
while if it is cut off to the last mark and then lighted, the bomb will
explode in fifteen minutes. The operator can set it to suit himself, as
circumstances require."

The manner in which the fuse was attached to the bomb was simple. The
hole made in the bomb was exactly the size of the fuse inserted into
it. There were two little knobs, one on each side the hole. After
pushing the fuse into the hole a fine wire was wound around it and
attached to the tiny knobs, thus holding it firmly in place.

Josie took a pair of small pincers, unwound the wire and cautiously
withdrew the fuse from the hole. Examining the end of the fuse she saw
it was filled with a powdery substance which, when ignited, would
explode the bomb. She had recourse to her hairpin again and carefully
picked the powder out of the fuse for the distance of the entire first
section. This proved difficult and painstaking work, but when completed
not a grain of the powder remained in the woven cotton casing for the
distance of six inches from the end.

Having accomplished that much, Josie sat looking at the thing in a
speculative way. She could not have told you, at the moment, why her
first act had been to render the bomb impotent in so queer a manner
when she could have simply destroyed the entire fuse. But, of course,
no one would try to use the fiendish contrivance unless it was supplied
with a fuse.

After a period of thought the girl decided what to do next. She removed
the bomb, fuse, green bag--even the satchel--to the big lower drawer of
her bureau, and turned the lock.

"No one is likely to come in but the chambermaid, and she will be too
busy to disturb anything," Josie decided; and then she locked her room
door and went down stairs to breakfast.


CHAPTER XVIII
A HINT FEOM ANNIE BOYLE

Josie was late. In the breakfast room she found but one guest besides
herself, an old lady with a putty face. But there was also a young girl
seated at a near-by table who was grumbling and complaining to the maid
who waited upon her.

"It ain't my fault, Miss Annie," protested the maid. "The cook says you
ordered your breakfast half an hour ago, an' then went away. We tried
to keep it hot for you, and if it's cold it's your own fault."

"I was talking with Mr. Kauffman," pouted the girl, who seemed a mere
child. "I've a good notion to order another breakfast."

"If you do, cook will tell your father."

This threat seemed effective. The girl, with a sour face, began eating,
and the maid came over to take Josie's order. The tables were near
enough for conversation, so when the maid had gone to the kitchen Josie
said sweetly:

"That Mr. Kauffman's a nice man, isn't he? I don't wonder you forgot
your breakfast. Isn't this Miss Annie Boyle?"

"Yes," was the answer. "Do you know Abe Kauffman?"

"I've met him," said Josie.

"He an' Pa used to be good friends," said Annie Boyle, who did not seem
at all shy in conversing with strangers, "but Pa's soured on him
lately. I don't know why. P'raps because Abe is a German, an'
everybody's tryin' to fling mud at the Germans. But Abe says the
German-Americans are the back-bone of this country, and as good
citizens as any."

"He don't seem to like the war, though," remarked Josie carelessly.

"Well, do you know why? Abe's had two brothers and five cousins in the
German army, and all of 'em's been killed. That's why he's sore on the
war. Says his brothers deserved what they got for not comin' to America
an' bein' American citizens, like Abe is. But I know he's dreadful
sorry 'bout their bein' killed just the same. German folks seem to
think a good, deal of their families, an' so jest to mention the war
makes Abe rave an' swear."

"That's foolish," said Josie. "He'll get himself into trouble."

"Abe's no fool; he knows how far he can go, an' when to stop talkin'.
He'll cuss the war, but you never hear him cuss'n' the United States.
He told me, just a while ago, that the war'll make him rich, 'cause
he's smart enough to use it for his own good. But he said I mustn't
talk about that," she added, with a sudden realization that Josie was
regarding her curiously. "Abe an' me's chums, an' what he says is
between us. P'raps he was only jokin', 'bout gettin' rich. Abe's a
great joker, anyhow."

That this was a rather lame retraction was apparent even to Annie
Boyle. She gave Josie a suspicious look, but Josie's face was
absolutely expressionless. The maid was placing her order before her
and she calmly began her breakfast. A moment later, the old lady rose
and tottered out of the room.

"Gee! I wish I had her money," remarked Annie Boyle, looking after her.
"She's got a wad of stocks an' just has to cut coupons off 'em. Lives
here easy an' don't worry. If I had her dough I'd--" She stopped
suddenly.

"Money's a good thing to have," said Josie. "There's Tom Linnet, now;
he's going to buy a cigar store."

"How'd you know?" asked Annie quickly.

"Why, he told me."

"Oh; are you an' Tom friends?"

"We're not enemies. Tom's in luck to have so much money."

"Wall," said Annie, "he's a fool to flash it all of a sudden. Pa took
him for night clerk when he didn't have a cent--and it wasn't so long
ago, either. He gets his board an' five dollars a week. Folks are goin'
to wonder where he got all his fine clothes, an' them di'monds, an' how
he can afford to buy Barker's cigar store. I asked Abe about it an' Abe
says he guesses Tom got the money from an aunt that jus' died."

"Perhaps he did."

"Well, where'd he get the aunt? Tom's got two brothers that are
peddlers an' a father who's a track-walker, an' he's got a mother what
takes in washin'. If there's an aunt, she's some relation to the rest
of the family, so why didn't she leave them some money, as well as
Tom?"

"I don't know, but I'm glad Tom is so well fixed," answered Josie,
rather absently, for her eye had fallen on the menu card beside her
plate, and the menu card had somehow conveyed a new thought to her
mind. She picked it up and examined it critically. Part of it was
printed in a queer, open-faced type--all capitals--while the balance of
the list of dishes had been written in with pen and ink. These printed
bills would do for a good many breakfasts, for they mentioned only the
staples, while the supplementary dishes were day by day added in
writing.

"I wonder who prints your bills-of-fare?" she said to Annie Boyle.

"Why do you wonder that?" demanded Annie.

"I like the type, and I want to get some cards printed from it."

"We print our own bills," said the child. "There's a press an' type an'
the fixings in a room in the basement, an' Tom Linnet used to print a
new card every day for all the three meals. He did it at night, you
know, between two an' six o'clock, when nobody's ever around the hotel.
They was swell bills-of-fare, but Tom claimed he couldn't do so much
printin', although that's part o' the night clerk's duty, an' Pa
thought it used up too much good cardboard at war-time prices. So now
we jus' get out a new bill once a week, an' write the extry dishes on
it."

"That does very well," said Josie. "Does Tom still do the printing?"

"Yes. Pa hired him as night clerk 'cause he'd worked in a printin'
office an' could do printin'. But since Tom got rich he don't like to
work, an the bills ain't printed as good as they used to be."

"This looks pretty good to me," said Josie, eyeing it approvingly.

"I guess, if Tom wasn't goin' to leave, Pa would fire him," asserted
Annie, rising from the table. "Good mornin', miss; I'll see you again,
if you're stoppin' here."

After she had gone, Josie finished her breakfast thoughtfully. Three
distinct facts she had gleaned from Annie Boyle's careless remarks.
First, Tom Linnet had acquired sudden riches. Second, the type used on
the hotel menu cards was identically the same that the disloyal
circulars had been printed from. Third, between the hours of two and
five in the mornings, the night clerk's duties permitted him to be
absent from the hotel office.

Josie decided that Annie Boyle had not been admitted to the inner
confidences of the conspirators, and that Tom Linnet was their tool and
had been richly paid for whatever services he had performed. She was
now gathering "clues" so fast that it made her head swim. "That chance
meeting with Kauffman, at Kasker's," she told herself, "led me directly
into the nest of traitors. I'm in luck. Not that I'm especially clever,
but because they're so astonishingly reckless. That's usually the way
with criminals; they close every loop-hole but the easiest one to peep
through--and then imagine they're safe from discovery!"


CHAPTER XIX
THE PRINTING OFFICE

After breakfast Josie sallied out upon the street and found a hardware
store. There, after some exploration, she purchased an asbestos
table-mat. With this she returned to her room and locked herself in.

The chambermaid had "been and gone," but Josie's drawer was still
locked and its precious contents intact. The girl scraped the surface
of the table-mat with her pen-knife until she had secured enough loose
fibre to serve her purpose and then she proceeded to restuff the fuse
with the asbestos fibre the entire length of the section from which she
had removed the powder. Then she pushed the end of the fuse into the
hole in the bomb, wired it as before, and replaced the long fuse in its
grooves.

"Now," said Josie, surveying her work with satisfaction, "if they light
that fuse, and expect it to explode the bomb in an hour or more,
they'll be badly fooled. Also, I shall have prevented another
catastrophe like the explosion at the airplane factory."

She replaced the bomb in its bag, placed the bag in the black satchel,
tucked in the soiled shirts to cover it and with her improvised key
managed to relock the satchel. Watching for a time when the corridor
was vacant, she went to 45, entered the room and replaced the satchel
on its shelf, taking care to arrange the newspaper before it as a mask.

She had taken the chair from the closet and was about to leave the room
when she heard footsteps coming down the hallway, accompanied by a
whistle which she promptly recognized.

"Caught!" she exclaimed, and gave a hurried glance around her. To hide
within the room was impossible, but the window was open and the iron
fire-escape within easy reach. In an instant she had mounted it and
seizing the rounds of the iron ladder climbed upward until she had
nearly reached the next window directly above, on the third floor. Then
she paused, clinging, to get her breath.

Kauffman was annoyed to find the door of his room unlocked. He paused a
moment in the middle of the room and looked around him. "Confound that
chambermaid!" Josie heard him mutter, and then he opened the closet
door and looked in. Apparently reassured, he approached the open
window, stuck out his head and looked _down_ the fire-escape. Josie's
heart gave a bound; but Kauffman didn't look upward. He drew in his
head, resumed his whistling and busied himself repacking the sample
suspenders in his suitcase.

Josie hoped he would soon go out again, but he seemed to have no
intention of doing so. So she climbed her ladder until she could look
into the window above, which was also open. The old lady she had seen
at breakfast was lying upon the bed, her eyes closed. Josie wondered if
she was asleep. The door leading from the room to the hallway also
stood open. The weather was warm, and the old lady evidently wanted
plenty of air.

While Josie hesitated what to do a boy came up the alley, noticed her
on the fire-escape and paused to look at her in astonishment. The girl
couldn't blame him for being interested, for her attitude was certainly
extraordinary. Others were likely to discover her, too, and might
suspect her of burglary and raise a hue and cry. So she deliberately
entered the room, tiptoed across to the hall and escaped without
arousing the old lady. But it was a desperate chance and she breathed
easier when she had found the stairs and descended to her own floor.
Safe in her own room she gave a little laugh at her recent predicament
and then sat down to note her latest discoveries on her tablets.

Josie O'Gorman was very particular in this regard. Details seemingly of
trifling moment but which may prove important are likely to escape
one's memory. Her habit was to note every point of progress in a case
and often review every point from the beginning, fitting them into
their proper places and giving each its due importance. A digest of
such information enabled her to proceed to the next logical step in her
investigation.

"These items all dovetail very nicely," she decided, with a satisfied
nod at the quaint characters on the tablets--which all the world might
read and be no wiser. "I must, however, satisfy myself that Tom Linnet
actually printed those circulars. The evidence at hand indicates that
he did, but I want positive proof. Also, I'd like to know which one of
the gang employed him--and paid him so liberally. However, that
suggestion opens up a new line of conjecture; I don't believe Tom
Linnet got all his wealth merely for printing a few circulars, helping
to address them, and keeping his mouth shut. But--what else has he been
paid for?"

She brooded on this for a while and then determined to take one thing
at a time and follow it to a conclusion. So she once more quitted her
room and descended by the elevator--openly, this time--to the office.
It was now noon and the hotel office was filled with guests, and the
clerks and bellboys were all busily occupied. Josie wandered carelessly
around until she found the stairway leading to the basement. Watching
her opportunity she slipped down the stairs.

The basement was not as barren as she expected to find it. There was an
open central space, on one side of which were rooms for the barber
shop, baths, and a pool room, all more or less occupied by guests and
attendants. On the opposite side, at the rear, were baggage and
storerooms. Just beside her she noted a boot-black's stand, where a
colored boy listlessly waited for customers.

"Shine, miss?" he inquired.

"No," said Josie in a businesslike tone; "I'm looking for the printing
office."

"Secon' door, miss," indicating it with a gesture; "but dey ain't
nobody dere. De room's mos'ly kep' locked."

"I know," said Josie, and advancing to the door drew out her keys.

Her very boldness disarmed suspicion; the boy was not sufficiently
interested to watch her, for a man came out of the barber-shop and
seated himself in the boot-black's chair.

This sort of lock didn't phase Josie at all. At the second trial she
opened the door, walked in and closed the door behind her.

It was a small room, dimly lighted and very disorderly. Scraps of paper
were strewn around the floor. Dust had settled on the ink-rollers of
the foot-press. A single case of type stood on a rack and the form of a
bill-of-fare--partly "pied"--was on a marble slab which formed the top
of a small table. On an upturned soap-box was a pile of unprinted menu
cards. Josie noted a few cans of ink, a bottle of benzine, and a few
printing tools lying carelessly about, but the room contained nothing
more.

Having "sized up" Tom Linnet's printing room with one swift glance, the
girl stooped down and began searching among the scraps that littered
the floor. They were mostly torn bits of cardboard or crumpled papers
on which trial impressions had been made.

Josie expected momentarily to be interrupted, so she conducted her
search as rapidly as was consistent with thoroughness. She paid no
attention to the card scraps but all papers she smoothed out, one by
one. Finally, with a little cry of triumph, she thrust one of these
into her handbag. She made this discovery just back of the press, and
glancing up, she noted a hook that had formerly been hidden from her
view, on which were impaled a number of papers--the chef's "copy" from
which various bills had been printed. Running through these papers she
suddenly paused, pulled one away from the hook and tucked it into her
bag.

She was fairly satisfied, now, but still continued her search amongst
the litter. It was not easy to decipher writing or printing in that dim
light, but her eyes were good and the longer she remained in the room
the more distinctly she saw. There was an electric globe suspended over
the press, but she dared not turn on the light for fear of attracting
attention. Several scraps on which writing appeared she secured without
trying to read them, but presently she decided she had made as thorough
an examination of the place as was necessary.

She left the room, locked the door again and boldly mounted the stairs
to the office, meeting and passing several men who scarcely noticed
her. Then she took the elevator to her room and washed her grimy hands
and prepared for luncheon.

At the table she slipped another of the printed bills into her bag, to
use for comparison, and afterward ate her lunch as calmly as if she
were not inwardly elated at the success of her morning's work. Josie
felt, indeed, that she had secured the proof necessary to confound the
traitors and bring them to the bar of justice. But there might be other
interesting developments; her trap was still set. "There's no hurry,"
she told herself. "Let's see this thing through--to the end."

Indeed, on reflection, she realized that several threads of evidence
had not yet been followed to their source. Some points of mystification
still remained to be cleared up. Her facts were mingled with theories,
and she had been taught that theories are mighty uncertain things.

On leaving the dining room, Josie got on her hat and jacket, went out
to the street and caught an Oak Avenue car.

"Oh, Josie!" cried a well-known voice, and there sat Mary Louise, on
her way home from the Shop.

Josie gave her a haughty look, walked straight to the far end of the
car and sat down in a vacant seat. The car was half filled with
passengers.

Mary Louise pushed forward and sat beside her friend. Josie stared
straight ahead, stolidly.

"No one here knows you," whispered Mary Louise, "won't you speak to me,
Josie?"

No reply.

"Where are you stopping? What are you doing? How are you getting along
on the case?" pleaded Mary Louise, so softly that no one else could
overhear.

Josie maintained silence. Her features were expressionless.

"I know you told me, in case we met, not to recognize you," continued
Mary Louise, "but I'm so anxious for news, dear! Can't you come home,
to-night, and have a good talk with me? You owe me that much
consideration. Josie."

The car stopped at a street intersection. Josie stood up.

"Not to-night," she replied, and alighted from the car just as it
started to move again.

"Bother Mary Louise!" she muttered, "she has made me walk three whole
blocks."

Mary Louise was human and she was provoked. There was really no need
for Josie O'Gorman to be so absurdly mysterious. Had she not known her
so well, Mary Louise would have felt that Josie had deliberately
insulted her. As it was, she blamed her friend for inexcusable
affectation. "I'm not sure," she reflected, "that a girl can be a
detective--a regular detective--without spoiling her disposition or
losing to some an extent her maidenly modesty. Of course, Josie has
been brought up in an atmosphere of mystery and can't be blamed for her
peculiarities, but---I'm glad _I'm_ not a detective's daughter."

Josie, however, wasn't worrying over any resentment her friend might
feel at the necessary snub. She was on a keen scent and already had
forgotten her meeting with Mary Louise. Three blocks farther on she
turned into the walk leading to an old but picturesque residence, at
one time a "show place" of Dorfield and the pride of the
Dudley-Markhams, but now overshadowed by modern and more imposing
mansions.

Josie rang the door-bell and presently the door was opened by a young
and rather untidy maid.

"I'd like to see Professor Dyer," said Josie.

"He's gone to Washington," was the reply.

"Indeed! Are you quite sure?"

"Yes," said the maid; and then Mrs. Dyer's head appeared in the opening
and she gave Josie a curious if comprehensive examination. Then:

"If you're from one of the schools, I'm sorry to tell you that
Professor Dyer went to Washington by the early train this morning. I
don't know how soon he will be back. Professor Harrington of the High
School is in charge. But perhaps it is something I can do?"

"No, thank you; I can wait," said Josie, and went away.

"So," she said to herself, as she made her way back to town in a street
car, "if Dyer has really gone to Washington, he hopes to get possession
of the old desk and its hidden papers. Pretty important to him, those
papers are, and I wouldn't blame him for chasing them up. But--has he
really gone? Mrs. Dyer thinks so; but all evidence points to the fact
that she's not in her husband's confidence. Now, if Dyer is on his way
to Washington, what did last night's secret meeting mean? His absence
will complicate matters, I fear. Anyhow, I must revise my conclusions a
bit."


CHAPTER XX
ONE GIRL'S WITS

As she entered the hotel Josie encountered Joe Langley, the one-armed
soldier back from the war. She had taken a great interest in this young
fellow and admired his simple, manly nature, having had several
interesting conversations with him at the Liberty Girls' Shop and at
the drills. Josie felt she needed an ally at this juncture, and here
was one who could be trusted.

"Joe," she said earnestly, drawing him aside, "are you going to be busy
this evening?"

"Yes, Miss O'Gorman, I'm busy every evening now," he replied. "I've
taken a job, you know, and my loafing days and social stunts are over.
There wasn't any bread-an'-butter in telling the society dames about my
war experiences, so I had to go to work. I'm night watchman at the
steel works, and go on duty at seven o'clock."

Josie was disappointed. Looking at him musingly, she asked:

"Are they making munitions now, at the steel works?"

"Of course; it's practically under government control, they say, but is
still operated by the old company. They make shells for the big guns,
you know, and they've ten car-loads on hand, just now, ready to be
shipped to-morrow."

Josie drew a long breath. This was real news and her active mind jumped
to a quick conclusion.

"Are the shells loaded, Joe?" she inquired.

"All ready for war," replied the soldier. "You see, a night watchman in
such a place has an important position. I guard those shells by night,
and another man does nothing but guard them by day."

"Where are they stored?" was Josie's next question.

"In the room just back of Mr. Colton's office--the big main building."

"So Mr. Colton is still the head of the company?"

"He's Vice-President and General Manager, and he knows the steel and
ammunition business from A to Z," asserted Joe Langley. "Mr. Colton
represents the government as well as the steel works. The President is
Mr. Jaswell, the banker, but he doesn't do anything but attend the
Board meetings."

"Joe," said Josie impressively, "you know who I am, don't you?"

"Why, you're one of the Liberty Girls, I guess."

"I'm from Washington," she said. "My father, John O'Gorman, is one of
the government's secret service officers; I'm working on a case here in
the interests of our government, and I may want you to help me foil a
German spy plot."

"Count on me!" said Sergeant Joe, emphatically. And then he added: "I'd
like to make sure, though, that you're really what you claim to be."

Josie opened her hand bag and from a side pocket drew a silver badge
engraved "U. S. Secret Service. No. L2O1." That was her father's number
and a complimentary badge, but Joe was satisfied. He had to glance
inside the handbag to see it, for the girl dared not exhibit it more
openly.

"If you want to know more about me, ask Colonel Hathaway," continued
Josie.

"No," said Joe; "I believe you're on the square. But I'd never have
suspected it of you. Tell me what I'm to do."

"Nothing, at present. But should a crisis arrive, stand by me and obey
my instructions."

"I'll do that," promised the man.

When the girl had regained her room in the hotel, she sat down with a
businesslike air and wrote upon a sheet of paper, in her peculiar
cypher, the story of her discoveries and the conclusions they justified
up to the present hour. This was to fix all facts firmly in her mind
and to enable her to judge their merits. The story was concise enough,
and perhaps Josie was quite unaware how much she had drawn upon her
imagination. It read this way:

"Disloyal circulars have been issued from time to time in Dorfield,
designed to interfere with sales' of Liberty Bonds, to cause resentment
at conscription and to arouse antipathy for our stalwart allies, the
English. These circulars were written by John Dyer, superintendent of
schools, who poses as a patriot. The circulars were printed in the
basement of the Mansion House by Tom Linnet, a night clerk, who was
well paid for his work. Papers found secreted in an old desk from the
attic of Dyer's house prove that Dyer is in the pay of German agents in
this country and has received fabulous sums for his 'services,' said
services not being specified in the documents. In addition to these
payments, there were found in the desk notes of the Imperial German
Government, for large amounts, such notes to be paid 'after the war.'

"Dyer is clearly the head of the German spy plot in Dorfield, but the
person who acts as medium between Dyer and the Master Spy is an alleged
suspender salesman calling himself Abe Kauffman. This Kauffman makes
frequent trips to Dorfield, giving orders to Dyer, and on one occasion
Kauffman, who stops at the Mansion House while in town, hired Tom
Linnet to place a bomb in the Airplane Factory, causing an explosion
which destroyed many government airplanes and killed several employees.
The sum paid Linnet for this dastardly act has made him rich and he has
bought or is about to buy a cigar store. Kauffman now has another bomb
in his possession, doubtless brought here to be placed, when
opportunity arrives, to do the most possible damage. Indications are
that he may attempt to blow up the steel works, where a large amount of
shells are now completed and ready for shipment to-morrow--meaning that
the job must be done to-night, if at all. Perhaps Linnet will place the
bomb; perhaps Kauffman will do it himself. Dyer has lost his
incriminating papers and notes and is on his way to Washington in an
endeavor to recover them.

"Associated with Dyer in his horrible activities is Mrs. Augusta
Charleworth, occupying a high social position, but of German birth and
therefore a German sympathizer. She is clever, and her brains
supplement those of Dyer, who seems more shrewd than initiative, being
content to execute the orders of others. Dyer was educated at
Heidelburg, in Germany, which accounts, perhaps, for his being
pro-German, although I suspect he is pro-anything that will pay him
money.  Dyer and the Hon. Andrew Duncan, while political pals, are not
connected in this spy plot, but I suspect that Peter Boyle, the
proprietor of the Mansion House may be one of the gang. I've no
evidence yet that implicates Boyle, but he harbors Kauffman as a guest
and ought to know that his night clerk is printing traitorous
propaganda. So far, the evidence incriminates Kauffman, Mrs.
Charleworth, Dyer and Tom Linnet. I believe Mrs. Dyer to be innocent of
any knowledge of her husband's crimes; otherwise, she would never have
parted with that important desk--the desk that will prove his ruin and
ought to cost him his life.

"My plan is this," concluded the notation, "to catch Kauffman or Linnet
in the act of placing the bomb to-night, make the arrest, round up the
other guilty ones and jail them, and then turn the case over to the
federal officers for prosecution. A telegram to Washington will secure
Professor Dyer's arrest on his arrival there."

Josie read this through twice and nodded her red head with intense
satisfaction.

"All clear as crystal," she asserted gleefully. "I have proof of every
statement, and the finale can't go very wrong with such knowledge in my
possession. To-night, unless all signs fail, will prove a warm night--
warm enough to scorch these dreadful, murderous tools of the Kaiser!"

And now Josie skipped over to the police station and had a somewhat
lengthy conference with Chief Farnum, who knew her father and treated
the girl detective with professional consideration. After this she
hunted up the two government agents--old Jim Crissey and young Norman
Addison--who knew her well as "John O'Gorman's clever kid, the pride of
her doting Daddy." They listened to her with interest and genuine
respect for her talent and not only promised their assistance whenever
it might be needed but congratulated her warmly on her good work.

This concluded Josie's afternoon labors, and it was with a sense of
triumphant elation that she returned to her hotel to rest and prepare
for the expected crisis.


CHAPTER XXI
SURPRISES

Josie went to dinner as soon as the dining room opened. When she came
out she met Abe Kauffman going in. He stopped and spoke to her.

"Sell any brains yet?" in a jocular way.

"Not to-day," she replied, with her innocent, baby-like stare.

"Well, I didn't sell any suspenders, either. There are no spenders for
_sus_penders. Ha, ha, ha!"

"That doesn't seem to worry you much," asserted Josie, pointedly.

He gave a shrug.

"Well, to-morrow morning I leave by the 5:30 train east, so if I don't
see you any more, I hope the brains will find a market."

"Thank you."

She went on, glad to escape the man. "He told me about leaving on the
5:30, and is probably giving everyone else the same information, so he
can't be connected with the explosion," she reflected. "Clever Mr.
Kauffman! But not clever enough to realize he is near the end of his
infamous career."

Josie's plans, perfected during that afternoon, primarily involved the
shadowing of Abe Kauffman every moment, from now on. Abe Kauffman and
his black satchel. For it grew dark early at this time of year, and
already the brief twilight was fading. So the girl hastened to her room
and exchanged her gray walking suit for a darker one that was
inconspicuous and allowed free movement. Then she slipped her little
pearl-mounted revolver--her father's gift--into her handbag and decided
she was ready for any emergency.

Having extinguished the light in her room, she glanced from the window
into the alley below, where the shadows were now gathering deeply.

"I think Kauffman will go down the fire-escape and drop into the
alley," she mused; "but he must first come to his room for the black
satchel, in any event, and from that instant I must never lose sight of
him."

Suddenly she discovered a form pacing slowly up and down the otherwise
deserted alley. Fearful that other detectives were on the watch, and
might disrupt her plans, she strained her eyes to discover this
person's identity. There was but one light to relieve the gloom, and
that was far down the alley, a spot the prowler for some time avoided.
Finally, however, he came to a point where the light touched his face
and Josie instantly recognized Tom Linnet.

"He is waiting for someone," she decided, "and Kauffman is still at
dinner--killing time because it's yet too early to undertake his
nefarious task. Tom Linnet may be the tool he has selected, and I ought
to get in touch with the boy, somehow, before he meets the arch
conspirator. Kauffman is the one I prefer to land."

With this in mind, she hurried down, passed out at the front office
doorway and turned into a narrow drive at the south of the hotel, which
led to the rear alley. A great business block, now dark and deserted,
loomed on the other side of the driveway, which was used by the baggage
and supply wagons in the daytime.

When the girl reached the corner of the alley she found herself in very
deep shadow; so she ventured to protrude her head far enough to look
after Tom Linnet. To her surprise the party he had been waiting for had
already joined him, for she discovered two dusky forms pacing the
alley.

It could not be Kauffman. While she hesitated whether to steal closer
or maintain her position, the two advanced almost to her corner and
paused there--in the blackest spot they could find.

"I tell you I won't do it!" said Tom, in a hard, dogged tone that was
tense with excitement. "I'm through, and that's all there is to it."

"That's a mistaken notion," was the quiet reply. "You're too deep in
the plot to draw back, and the pay is well worth while."

"I don't want any more money," growled Tom.

"You'll get two thousand for this night's work. Cash. And there is no
risk; you know that."

"Risk? God, man! Can't you guess how I dream of those poor devils I
sent to their death in the airplane job? I hate the money I got!
I--I--"

"See here," said the other voice impatiently, "that was a mistake, and
you know it. We didn't intend murder, but the explosion was delayed. No
one will get hurt to-night."

"Not through me," declared Tom.

"If you fail us, you'll come to grief."

"If I come to grief, so will you. Peach on me, and I'll blow the whole
deal." There was a moment's silence.

"Would three thousand satisfy you?" demanded the tempter.

"No," asserted Tom stoutly; "I'm goin' to quit. What's done can't be
undone, but I'm through with you. It--it's too blamed terrible, that's
what it is! Leave me alone an' let me turn honest. Why don't you do the
job yourself?"

"I think I will," said the other calmly. "If you intend to turn down a
good thing, I'll do my own work and save the money. But remember,
Linnet, silence is your only salvation. Don't talk at all; if you do,
you're liable to say the wrong thing--and you can't afford to do that."

"I'm no fool," responded the night clerk, a shade of relief in his
tone. "But don't come to me again, Professor. I'm done with you."

Professor! Josie felt a distinct shock. She had to flatten herself
against the wall, too, and remain rigid, for the man abruptly turned
the corner and marched down the driveway. Half way to the brilliantly
lighted street he dodged behind the building opposite the hotel,
threading his way through narrow back yards. Josie followed, swift and
silent. Finally they reached a place where the man was forced to pass
beneath the rays of a lamp and Josie was near enough to see his face.
It was, in reality, Professor John Dyer.

That assurance was all the girl wanted, just now. She let him go his
way and turned to regain the hotel. It was not quite eight o'clock, yet
she felt it important to keep an eye on Kauffman and the bomb. The
bomb, especially, for until Dyer took possession of the infernal
contrivance he could do no mischief.

In the hotel lobby she entered a public telephone booth and called up
Jim Crissey; then she went straight to her room. She could hear a low
whistling in 45, which informed her that Kauffman had not yet gone out
and that he was in a cheerful mood.

"I'm beginning to understand their method of work," Josie reflected.
"Kauffman prepares the bombs, or brings them here under the guise of a
suspender salesman; Dyer arranges for their being placed, having
secured information as to where an explosion will do the most damage to
the government, and Tom Linnet is used as the tool to do the actual
work. Mrs. Charleworth probably assists Dyer in getting special
information, and advises the gang, but doesn't take an active part in
the perpetration of the crimes. Her brains and position would naturally
place her at the head of the conspirators in Dorfield, although I'm
pretty sure Kauffman, as the agent of the Master Spy, can dictate what
they must do."

Kauffman slammed his door and locked it. He was going out. Josie opened
her own door a crack to look after him. He was walking deliberately
down the corridor, openly carrying in his left hand the black satchel.

To Josie this seemed the essence of effrontery. He had no intention of
using the fire-escape, after all. He trusted in bravado, as so many
careless criminals do. As she stealthily followed him, she observed the
man stop in the office and exchange commonplaces with one or two guests
whom he knew.

In reality, this was his safest plan. The black bag did not look
suspicious. Presently the bomb would be turned over to Dyer and
Kauffman's responsibility would then end. His very boldness was
calculated to prevent suspicion.

Leaving the hotel, Kauffman walked leisurely up the lighted street.
Only when he turned a corner did Josie momentarily lose sight of him.
There were many pedestrians at this hour and they masked the girl's
form and for a while enabled her to keep near to the man she was
shadowing. The only thing that puzzled Josie was the fact that Kauffman
was proceeding in a direction exactly opposite that taken by Dyer a
short time before. Dyer went south and Kauffman was going north.

When the business section of Dorfield was passed, the streets became
more deserted. They were not well lighted either, which favored Josie
the more.

Kauffman kept steadily on, and as the houses along the way thinned,
Josie decided he was headed directly for the steel works. That upset
her calculations a bit, for she knew he had not seen Dyer since the
latter's interview with Tom Linnet, nor had he seen Linnet; therefore
he could not know that any arrangements he had previously made with
them had fallen through. The German's present actions, however,
indicated that he had decided to place the bomb himself, without the
assistance of his fellow conspirators. Had he been warned of Linnet's
defection? Had he means of communicating with Dyer unknown to Josie?
Dyer was a mystery; even his wife believed he was now on his way to
Washington.

Surprises, in Josie's line of work were not uncommon, and this was no
time to consider whys and wherefores. The one thing she was sure of was
that the bomb was in the black satchel and the black satchel in
Kauffman's hand. No matter where the other conspirators might be or how
they were implicated in tonight's plot, as long as she kept her eye on
the bomb, she would be able to control the situation.


CHAPTER XXII
A SLIGHT MISTAKE

From the edge of the town to the steel works the road led through a
common, overgrown with brush and weeds. There was no moon and although
the distance was not great it was a lonely, dark and "creepy" place. As
soon as the girl saw Kauffman take the road to the works she decided to
get there before he could do so. Knowing well she could not be seen,
she branched off through the brush, and finding her way by instinct
rather than sight, ran swiftly in a half circle over the fields and
struck the road again considerably in advance of the more deliberate
Kauffman.

She now set off at her swiftest run and on reaching the manager's
office, in the front of the main building, perceived that it was
lighted.

Josie rapped upon the door and it was opened by one-armed Joe Langley,
the night watchman.

"Quick!" she said, "let me in and hide me somewhere, where I can't be
seen."

Joe pulled her in, closed the outer door and locked it, and then faced
her.

"What's up?" he demanded.

"There's a man coming here with a bomb in a black satchel," she panted.
"He intends to blow up this building, in which all the shells axe
stored. I want to catch him in the act, Joe, and you must hide me
somewhere."

Joe glanced around with a puzzled look.

"Where?" he asked helplessly.

So Josie looked around her, too. This end of the long building was
partitioned off for offices, as it fronted the town. The central
section was a big space containing a table, benches, etc., while on
either side were little glass rooms with partitions between them
reaching about seven feet in height, the ceiling being some twelve feet
from the floor. The first room to the left of the entrance was marked
"Manager" on its glass door; the next office "Purchasing Agent," and
the third "Chief Engineer." On the right hand side, the corresponding
offices were marked "Secretary," "Examiner," and "Superintendent." All
the office doors were locked except that of the Purchasing Agent, which
stood ajar. Josie sprang into that office and cast a hurried glance
around. The glass division between that and the manager's office was
"frosted" with white paint, but so carelessly done that she found
places where she could see through into the office of the manager. Also
she could see into the main, or reception room, even with her door
closed.

While she examined this place a knock came on the outer door--a loud,
imperative knock.

"This will do," whispered Josie to Joe. "Go an let him in, but don't
let him suspect I'm here."

Joe was not quick-witted, but on the battlefields of France he had
learned prompt obedience to orders. Josie, as a government agent, was
now his commander, so he merely nodded to her as he walked over to
unlock the outer door.

Kauffman stepped in, satchel in hand.

"You're the watchman, I suppose," he said cheerfully. "Is Mr. Colton
here?"

"No," answered Joe.

"I was to meet him here at this time," said Kauffman.

"He said he'd be back this evening," returned Joe, just recalling that
fact, "but he isn't here yet."

"All right," said the man, "I'll wait."

He carefully placed the satchel on the table and sat down on a bench.
Joe regarded him suspiciously, remembering the girl's warning, but said
nothing more. Josie was watching Kauffman from her retreat, but as her
little office was dark and the German sat under a bright light it was
impossible for him to know that his every movement was under
observation.

The minutes dragged. A big clock on the wall ticked with an ominous
sound. Kauffman drew out his watch and compared it with the clock. He
appeared to grow restless.

Josie's quick ears caught the distant sound of a motor car coming down
the road. Perhaps Kauffman heard it also. He rose from his seat and
going to the table unlocked the black satchel, pressed the top open and
looked inside it. Still bending over the satchel he placed a cigarette
in his mouth, lighted a match and applied the flame to his cigarette.
His back was toward Josie but she comprehended instantly the action.

"He has lighted the fuse!" she murmured, triumphantly.

The motor car came to a sudden halt outside the door, which Joe had
left unlocked; but while the German turned expectantly toward the door
the maimed soldier, hearing Josie's whisper, approached her little room
and slightly opened her door.

"He has lighted the fuse of the bomb," she said to him excitedly. "The
bomb is in the satchel!"

Joe turned quickly to the table. He dived into the bag with his one
good hand, drew out the heavy ball of steel and rushed with it to the
door just as the manager, Mr. Colton, opened it and stepped in.

So swift were Joe's actions that Kauffman had no time to interfere.
Both he and the manager stared in amazement as Joe Langley rushed
outside and with all his might hurled the bomb far out upon the common.

"Confound you!" cried Kauffman. "What did you do that for?"

"What is it?" inquired the astonished manager.

"A bomb!" cried Josie, stepping from her retreat and confronting them.
"A bomb with the fuse lighted, and timed to blow up this building after
you had gone away, Mr. Colton. That man before you is a German spy, and
I arrest him in the name of the law. Put up your hands, Abe Kauffman!"

The little revolver was in her hand, steadily covering him. Kauffman
gave an amused laugh, but he slowly raised his arms, as commanded.

"I don't quite understand," said the puzzled manager, looking from one
to the other.

"Well, I brought the new projectile, Colton, as I had agreed," answered
the German, coolly, "but your quaint watchman has thrown it away. As
for the girl," he added, with a broad grin, "she has fooled me. She
said she had brains, and I find she was mistaken."

The manager turned to Josie.

"May I ask who you are, Miss, and how you came to be in my office?"

"I am Josie O'Gorman, an agent of the government secret service," she
replied, not quite truthfully. "I've been shadowing this man for some
time. I tell you, sir, he brought a bomb here, to destroy this
building, and under pretense of lighting, a cigarette he has just
lighted the time fuse. The bomb was in that satchel, but--" she added
impressively, "as a matter of fact the thing was harmless, as I had
already removed the powder from the fuse."

Kauffman gave a low whistle.

"How did you manage that?" he asked curiously.

"Never mind how," she retorted; "I did it."

Kauffman turned to the manager.

"Will you please order your man to get the projectile?" he asked. "It
is lucky for us all that the thing isn't loaded, or there really would
have been an explosion." He now turned to Josie, with his hands still
in the air, and explained: "It is meant to explode through impact, and
ordering it tossed out there was the most dangerous thing you could
have done."

At the manager's command Joe took an electric searchlight and went out
to find the steel ball.

"If you please, miss," said Kauffman, "may I put down my arms? They are
tired, and I assure you I will not try to escape."

Josie lowered the revolver. Her face was red. She was beginning to
wonder if she had bungled the case. A second thought, however--a
thought of the papers she had found in the old desk--reassured her. She
might have been wrong in some respects, but surely she was right in the
main.

"This man," said Mr. Colton, pointing to Kauffman, "is known to me as a
munition expert. He bears the endorsement of the Secretary of War and
is the inventor of the most effective shells we now manufacture. What
you have mistaken for a bomb is his latest design of projectile for an
eight-inch gun. He had arranged to bring it here and explain to me its
mechanism to-night, and also to submit a proposition giving our company
the control of its manufacture. If you are a government agent, you
surely understand that these arrangements must be conducted with great
secrecy. If we purchase the right to make this projectile, we must
first induce the government to use it, by demonstrating its
effectiveness, and then secure our contracts. So your interference, at
this time, is---ahem!--annoying."

Josie's face was a little more red than before. A second motor car drew
up at the door and to her astonishment Mrs. Charleworth entered and
greeted both the manager and Kauffman in her usual charming manner.
Then she looked inquiringly at the girl.

"Pardon me, madam," said Mr. Colton. "There has been a singular
misunderstanding, it seems, and our friend here has been accused of
being a German spy by this young lady, who is a government detective--
or--or claims to be such. The precious projectile, in which you are so
deeply interested, has just been tossed out upon the common, but Joe
Langley is searching for it."

Mrs. Charleworth's face wore an amused smile.

"We are so beset with spies, on every hand, that such an error is quite
likely to occur," said she. "I recognize this young lady as a friend of
the Hathaway family, and I have met her at the Liberty Girls' Shop, so
she is doubtless sincere--if misled. Let us hope we can convince her--
Miss O'Gorman, isn't it?--that we are wholly innocent of attempting to
promote the Kaiser's interests."

Joe came in with the steel ball, which he deposited upon the table.
Then, at a nod from the manager, the soldier took his searchlight and
departed through the door leading to the big room in the rear. It was
time to make his regular rounds of the works, and perhaps Mr. Colton
preferred no listeners to the conversation that might follow.


CHAPTER XXIII
THE FLASHLIGHT

"Perhaps," said Josie, her voice trembling a little, "I have assumed
too much, and accused this man," pointing to Kauffman, "unjustly. I was
trying to serve my country. But I am somewhat confused, even yet, in
regard to this affair. Will you please tell me, Mrs. Charleworth, what
connection you have with Mr. Kauffman, or with his--projectile?"

"Very gladly," said the lady, graciously. "I am a stockholder in this
steel company--a rather important stockholder, I believe--and while I
am not a member of the board of directors, Mr. Colton represents my
interests. Two years ago we bought the Kauffman shell, and paid
liberally for it, but Mr. Kauffman unfortunately invested his money in
a transatlantic merchant ship which was sunk, with its entire cargo, by
a German submarine. Again penniless, he began the manufacture of
suspenders, in a small way, with money I loaned him, but was not very
successful. Then he conceived the idea of a new projectile, very
effective and quite different from others. He asked our company to
finance him while he was experimenting and perfecting the new
projectile. The company couldn't undertake to do that, but I personally
financed Mr. Kauffman, having confidence in his ability. He has been
six months getting the invention made, tested and ready to submit to
government experts, and up to the present it has cost a lot of money.
However, it is now considered perfect and Mr. Kauffman has brought it
here to-night to exhibit and explain it to Mr. Colton. If Mr. Colton
approves it from a manufacturing standpoint, our company will secure an
option for the sole right to manufacture it."

"Mr. Kauffman has been in Dorfield several days," said Josie. "Why did
he not show you the projectile before?"

"I have been out of town," explained the manager. "I returned this
afternoon, especially for this interview, and made the appointment for
this evening. I am a busy man--these are war times, you know--and I
must make my evenings count as well as my days."

Josie scented ignominous defeat, but she had one more shot to fire.

"Mrs. Charleworth," she stated, with a severe look, "John Dyer, the
school superintendent, was at your house last night, in secret
conference with Mr. Kauffman and yourself."

"Oh, so you are aware of that interview?"

"Clever!" said Kauffman, "I'd no idea I was being shadowed." Then the
two exchanged glances and smiled. "It seems impossible," continued the
man, "to keep any little matter of business dark, these days, although
the war office insists on secrecy in regard to all munitions affairs
and publicity would surely ruin our chances of getting the new
projectile accepted for government use."

"I am awaiting an explanation of that meeting," declared Josie sternly.
"Perhaps you do not realize how important it may be."

"Well," answered Mrs. Charleworth, a thoughtful expression crossing her
pleasant face, "I see no objection to acquainting you with the object
of that mysterious meeting, although it involves confiding to you a bit
of necessary diplomacy. Mr. Colton will tell you that the Dorfield
Steel Works will under no circumstances purchase the right to
manufacture the Kauffman projectile--or any other article of munition--
until it is approved and adopted by the War Department. That approval
is not easily obtained, because the officials are crowded with business
and a certain amount of red tape must be encountered. Experience has
proved that the inventor is not the proper person to secure government
endorsement; he labors under a natural disadvantage. Neither is Mr.
Colton, as the prospective manufacturer, free from suspicion of selfish
interest. Therefore it seemed best to have the matter taken up with the
proper authorities and experts by someone not financially interested in
the projectile.

"Now, Professor Dyer has a brother-in-law who is an important member of
the munitions board, under General Crozier, and we have induced the
professor, after much urging, to take our projectile to Washington,
have it tested, and secure contracts for its manufacture. If he
succeeds, we are to pay liberally for his services. That was how he
came to be at our house last evening, when arrangements were finally
made."

"Was such secrecy necessary?" asked Josie suspiciously.

It was Kauffman who answered this question, speaking with apparent good
humor but with a tinge of sarcasm in his voice: "My dear young lady,
your own disposition to secrecy--a quality quite necessary in a
detective--should show you the absurdity of your question. Can we be
too careful in these days of espionage? No emissary of the Kaiser must
know the construction of this wonderful projectile; none should even
know that it exists. Even should our government refuse to adopt it; we
must not let the Central Powers know of it. My own negotiations with
Mr. Colton and Mrs. Charleworth have been camouflaged by my disguise as
a suspender merchant. It was equally important that Mr. Dyer's
connection with us be wholly unsuspected. When the projectile is
adopted, and these works are manufacturing it in quantities to help win
the war, still no information concerning it must be made public. You
must realize that."

"That is all true," agreed Mr. Colton. "These frank statements, miss,
have only been made to you because of your claim to being a government
agent. If you fail to substantiate that claim, we shall place you under
arrest and turn you over to the authorities, for our own protection."

"To be sure," said Josie; "that will be your duty. I am the daughter of
John O'Gorman, one of the high officers of the United States Secret
Service, who is now in Europe in the interests of the government. I
came to Dorfield to visit my friend, Mary Louise Burrows, as Mrs.
Charleworth is aware, and while here my suspicions were aroused of the
existence of a German spy plot. Therefore I set to work to bring the
criminals to justice."

"And, like the regulation detective, you have followed a false trail,"
commented Kauffman, with his provoking smile.

"Not altogether," retorted Josie. "I have already secured proof that
will convict two persons, at least. And I am amazed that you have
intrusted your secrets to that arch-traitor, Professor Dyer. Will you
tell me, Mrs. Charleworth, what you know about that man?"

Mrs. Charleworth seemed astounded.

"Professor John Dyer is one of Dorfield's old residents, I believe,"
she answered slowly, as if carefully considering her words. "He is also
the superintendent of schools, and in that capacity seems highly
respected. I have never heard anything against the man, until now. His
important public position should vouch for his integrity."

"Isn't his position a political appointment?" inquired Josie.

The lady looked at Mr. Colton. "Yes," said the manager. "It is true
that John Dyer was active in politics long before he was made
superintendent of schools. However, he was an educator, as well as a
politician, so it seems his appointment was merited."

"How well do you know him personally, madam?" asked the girl.

"Not very well," she admitted. "We do not meet socially, so our
acquaintance until very recently was casual. But I have looked upon him
as a man of importance in the community. On learning that he had a
relative on the munitions board, I asked him to come, to my house,
where I made him the proposition to take our projectile to Washington
and secure its adoption. I offered liberal terms for such service, but
at first the professor seemed not interested. I arranged a second
meeting, last evening, at which Mr. Kauffman was present to explain
technical details, and we soon persuaded Mr. Dyer to undertake the
commission. We felt that we could trust him implicity."

"When did he intend to go to Washington?" was Josie's next question.

"On the 5:30, to-morrow morning. After exhibiting the projectile to Mr.
Colton and securing the firm's option to manufacture it on a royalty
basis, we are to take it to my house, where Mr. Dyer will receive it
and obtain our final instructions."

"One question more, if you please," said Josie. "What connection with
your enterprise has Tom Linnet?"

"Linnet? I do not know such a person," declared Mrs. Charleworth.

"Who is he?" asked the manager.

"I know him," said Kauffman. "He's the night clerk at the Mansion House
where I stop. Sometimes I see him when I come in late. He's not of
special account; he's weak, ignorant, and--"

A sharp report interrupted him and alarmed them all.

Josie swung around quickly, for the sound--she knew it was a revolver
shot--came from the rear. As Colton and Kauffman sprang to their feet
and Mrs. Charleworth shrank back in a fright, the girl ran to the back
door, opened it and started to make her way through the huge, dark
building beyond the partition. The manager followed in her wake and as
he passed through the door he turned a switch which flooded the big
store-room with light.

In the center of the building were long, broad tables, used for
packing. A few shells still remained grouped here and there upon the
boards. On either side the walls were lined with tiers of boxes bound
with steel bands and ready for shipment. No person was visible in this
room, but at the farther end an outer door stood ajar and just outside
it a motionless form was outlined.

Josie and Mr. Colton, approaching this outer door nearly at the same
time, controlled their haste and came to an abrupt halt. The upright
figure was that of Sergeant Joe Langley and the light from the room
just reached a human form huddled upon the ground a few feet distant.
Joe had dropped his flashlight and in his one hand held a revolver.
Josie drew a long, shuddering breath. The manager took a step forward,
hesitated, and returned to his former position, his face deathly white.

"What is it? What's the matter?" called Kauffman, coming upon the scene
panting for he was too short and fat to run easily.

Joe turned and looked at them as if waking from a trance. His stolid
face took on a shamed expression.

"Couldn't help it, sir," he said to the manager. "I caught him in the
act. It was the flashlight that saved us. When it struck him he looked
up and the bullet hit him fair."

"Who is it, and what was he doing?" asked Mr. Colton hoarsely.

"It's under him, sir, and he was a-lighting of it."

As he spoke, Sergeant Joe approached the form and with a shove of his
foot pushed it over. It rolled slightly, unbent, and now lay at full
length, facing them. Josie picked up the flashlight and turned it upon
the face.

"Oh!" she cried aloud, and shivered anew, but was not surprised.

"I guess," said Joe slowly, "they'll have to get another school
superintendent."

"But what's it all about? What did he do?" demanded Kauffman excitedly.

Joe took the light from Josie's hand and turned it upon a curious
object that until now had been hidden by the dead man's body.

"It's a infernal machine, sir, an' I ain't sure, even yet, that it
won't go off an' blow us all up. He was leanin' down an' bendin' over
it, twisting that dial you see, when on a sudden I spotted him. I
didn't stop to think. My Cap'n used to say 'Act first an' think
afterwards,' an' that's what I did. I didn't know till now it was the
school boss, but it wouldn't have made any difference. I done my duty
as I saw it, an' I hope I did it right, Mr. Colton."

Kauffman was already stooping over the machine, examining it with a
skilled mechanical eye.

"It's ticking!" he said, and began turning the dial backward to zero.
The ticking stopped. Then the inventor stood, up and with his
handkerchief wiped the perspiration from his face.

"Gott!" he exclaimed, "this is no joke. We've all been too near death
to feel comfortable."

"This is horrible!" said Mr. Colton, "I can't yet believe that Dyer
could be guilty of so fiendish an act."

"I can," asserted Josie grimly, "and it isn't the first time he has
planned murder, either. Dyer was responsible for the explosion at the
airplane factory."

Footsteps were heard. Out of the darkness between the group of
buildings appeared two men, Crissey and Addison.

"Are we too late, Miss O'Gorman?" asked Crissey.

"Yes," she replied. "How did you lose track of Dyer?"

"He's a slippery fellow," said Addison, "and threw us off the scent.
But finally we traced him here and--"

"And there he is," concluded Josie in a reproachful tone.

Crissey caught sight of the machine.

"Great Caesar!" he exclaimed, "who saved you?"

"I did," answered Joe, putting the revolver in his hip pocket, "but I
wish you'd had the job, stranger."

CHAPTER XXIV
AFTER THE CRISIS

Mrs. Charleworth drove Josie, who was sobbing nervously and quite
bereft of her usual self-command, to Colonel Hathaway's residence. The
woman was unnerved, too, and had little to say on the journey.

The old colonel had retired, but Mary Louise was still up, reading a
book, and she was shocked when Josie came running in and threw herself
into her friend's arms, crying and laughing by turns, hysterically.

"What's the matter, dear?" asked Mary Louise in an anxious voice.

"I've b-b-bungled that whole miserable G-Ger-man spy plot!" wailed
Josie.

"Wasn't there any plot, then?"

"Of course; but I g-grabbed the wrong end of it. Oh, I'm so glad Daddy
wasn't here to see my humiliation! I'm a dub, Mary Louise--a miserable,
ignorant, foozle-brained dub!"

"Never mind, dear," said Mary Louise consolingly. "No one can know
everything, Josie, even at our age. Now sit down and wipe that wet off
your face and tell me all about it."

Josie complied. She snivelled a little as she began her story, but soon
became more calm. Indeed, in her relation she tried to place the facts
in such order that she might herself find excuse for her erroneous
theories, as well as prove to Mary Louise that her suspicions of Abe
Kauffman and Mrs. Charleworth were well founded.

"No girl is supposed to know the difference between a bomb and a
cannon-ball--or projectile--or whatever it is," was her friend's
comment, when Josie had reached the scene in the manager's office, "and
any man who is a German and acts queerly is surely open to suspicion.
Go on, Josie; what happened next?"

Even Mary Louise was startled and horrified at the terrible retribution
that had overtaken Professor Dyer, although Josie's story had aroused
her indignation toward him and prepared her for the man's final
infamous attempt to wreck the steel plant.

"And what about Tom Linnet?" she asked.

"Chief Farnum is to arrest him to-night," said Josie. "He will confess
everything, of course, and then the whole plot will be made public."

"Poor Mrs. Dyer!" sighed Mary Louise.

But fate decreed a different ending to the night's tragedy. When the
police tried to arrest Tom Linnet the young man was not to be found. He
had not bought the cigar store, but with what funds remained to him, he
had absconded to parts unknown.

Chief Farnum wired his description to all parts of the country.
Meantime, on the morning after the affair at the steel works, an
earnest conference was held between Mr. Colton, Colonel Hathaway, Josie
O'Gorman, Mrs. Charleworth, the Chief of Police and the two secret
service agents. At this conference it was deemed inadvisable to
acquaint the public with the truth about John Dyer's villainy. The
government would be fully informed, of course, but it seemed best not
to tell the people of Dorfield that a supposedly respectable citizen
had been in the pay of the Kaiser's agents. It would be likely to make
them suspicious of one another and have a bad influence generally. The
criminal had paid the penalty of his crimes. The murders he had
committed and attempted to commit were avenged.

So it was announced that the school superintendent had been killed by
an accidental explosion at the munition works, and the newspapers
stated that Mrs. Dyer did not desire a public funeral. Indeed, she was
too overwhelmed by the tragedy to express any desire regarding the
funeral but left it all to Colonel Hathaway and Mr. Colton, who
volunteered to attend to the arrangements. The burial was very
unostentatious and the widow received much sympathy and did not suffer
in the esteem of the community. Mrs. Dyer, in fact, was never told of
her husband's dishonor and so mourned him sincerely.

Immediately following the conference referred to, Josie brought the
Chief of Police and the secret service men to her room and in their
presence dragged the old pedestal-desk from her closet. Mary Louise,
who had been admitted, exclaimed in surprise:

"Why, Josie! I thought you sent the desk to Washington."

"No," answered Josie, "I merely shipped an empty box. I knew very well
that Dyer would try to get back the desk, hoping I had not discovered
its secret, so I deceived him and gained time by proving that I had
sent a box home by freight."

"That explains his decision to take the projectile to Washington,"
commented Detective Crissey, "he believed he could kill two birds with
one stone--get back his papers and earn a big fee from Mrs.
Charleworth."

"Also," added Josie, "he would be able to give the German Master Spy
full information concerning the projectile, and so reap another reward.
But all his diabolical schemes were frustrated by Joe Langley's
bullet."

"Well, here's the desk," said Chief Farnum, "but where are those
important papers, Miss O'Gorman?"

"And what do they prove?" added Crissey.

Josie slid back the panel in the square pedestal, disclosing the two
compartments filled with papers. These she allowed the police and the
detectives to read, arid they not only proved that John Dyer was in the
pay of an organized band of German spies having agents in Washington,
New York and Chicago, but Crissey was confident the notes, contracts
and agreements would furnish clues leading to the discovery and
apprehension of the entire band. So the papers were placed in his
charge to take to Washington, and their importance was a further
argument for secrecy concerning John Dyer's death.

"So far as I am concerned," Josie said afterward to Colonel Hathaway
and Mary Louise, "the spy case is ended. When they arrest Tom Linnet
they will be able to prove, from the scraps of paper I found in the
printing room of the hotel, that Linnet printed the circulars from copy
furnished by Dyer, and that Dyer and Linnet together directed the
envelopes, probably in the still hours of the morning at the hotel
desk, where they were not likely to be disturbed. The circulars may not
be considered legally treasonable, but the fact that Linnet personally
placed the bomb that destroyed the airplane works will surely send him
to the scaffold."

"I suppose you will be called as a witness," suggested Mary Louise,
"because you are the only one who overheard his verbal confession of
the crime."

"It wont take much to make Linnet confess," predicted Josie. "He is
yellow all through, or he wouldn't have undertaken such dastardly work
for the sake of money. His refusal to undertake the second job was mere
cowardice, not repentance. I understand that sort of criminal pretty
well, and I assure you he will confess as soon as he is captured."

But, somewhat to the astonishment of the officers, Tom Linnet managed
to evade capture. They found his trail once or twice, and lost it
again. After a time they discovered he had escaped into Mexico;
afterward they heard of a young man of his description in Argentine;
finally he disappeared altogether.

The arms of the law are long and strong, far-reaching and mercilessly
persistent. They may embrace Tom Linnet yet, but until now he has
miraculously avoided them.


CHAPTER XXV
DECORATING

Colonel Hathaway and Mary Louise were walking down the street one day
when they noticed that the front of Jake Kasker's Clothing Emporium was
fairly covered with American flags. Even the signs were hidden by a
fluttering display of the Stars and Stripes.

"I wonder what this means?" said the colonel.

"Let's go in and inquire," proposed Mary Louise. "I don't suppose the
man has forgiven me yet for suspecting his loyalty, but you've always
defended him, Gran'pa Jim, so he will probably tell you why he is
celebrating."

They entered the store and Kasker came forward to meet them.

"What's the meaning of all the flags, Jake?" asked the colonel.

"Didn't you hear?" said Kasker. "My boy's been shot--my little Jakie!"
Tears came to his eyes.

"Dear me!" exclaimed Mary Louise, with ready sympathy; "I hope he--he
isn't dead?"

"No," said Kasker, wiping his eyes, "not that, thank God. A shell
splinter took out a piece of his leg--my little Jakie's leg!--and he's
in a hospital at Soissons. His letter says in a few weeks he can go
back to his company. I got a letter from his captain, too. The captain
says Jakie is a good soldier and fights like wild-cats. That's what he
says of Jakie!"

"Still," said Colonel Hathaway, with a puzzled look, "I do not quite
understand why you should decorate so profusely on account of so sad an
event."

"Sad!" exclaimed the clothing man, "not a bit. That's glory, the way
_I_ look at it, Colonel. If my Jakie's blood is spilled for his
country, and he can go back and spill it again, it makes great honor
for the name of Kasker. Say, once they called me pro-German, 'cause I
said I hated the war. Don't my Jakie's blood put my name on America's
honor roll? I'm pretty proud of Jakie," he wiped his eyes again; "I'll
give him an interest in the business, if he comes back. And if he
don't--if those cursed Germans put an end to him--then folks will say,
'See Jake Kasker over there? Well, he gave his son for his country--his
only son.' Seems to me, Colonel, that evens the score. America gives us
Germans protection and prosperity, and we give our blood to defend
America's honor. I'm sorry I couldn't find a place for any more flags."

The colonel and Mary Louise were both a little awed, but as Kasker
accompanied them to the door, they strove to express their sympathy and
approval. As they parted, however, the man leaned over and whispered:
"Just the same, I hate the war. But, if it _has_ to be, let's stand
together to fight and win it!"
* * * * * * * *
"Gran'pa Jim," said Mary Louise, when they were on the street again,
"I'm ashamed. I once told you I loved you better than my country, but
Jake Kasker loves his country better than his son."


CHAPTER XXVI
KEEPING BUSY

The Liberty Girls were forced to abandon their Shop when a substantial
offer was made by a business firm to rent the store they had occupied.
However, they were then, near the end of their resources, with depleted
stock, for they had begged about all the odds and ends people would
consent to part with. What goods remained to them were of inferior
worth and slow to dispose of, so they concluded their enterprise with a
"grand auction," Peter Conant acting as auctioneer, and cleaned up the
entire stock "in a blaze of glory," as Mary Louise enthusiastically
described the event.

The venture had been remarkably successful and many a soldier had cause
to bless the Liberty Girls' Shop for substantial comforts provided from
its funds.

"But what can we do now," inquired Mary Louise anxiously as the six
captains met with Irene one afternoon following the closing of the
shop. "We must keep busy, of course. Can't someone think of something?"

One and all had been thinking on that subject, it seemed. Various
proposals were advanced, none of which, however, seemed entirely
practical until Irene said:

"We mustn't lose our reputation for originality, you know, nor must we
interfere with those who are doing war relief work as well, if not much
better, than we could. I've pondered the case some, during the past few
days, and in reading of the progress of events I find that quite the
most important thing on the government programme, at present, is the
conservation of foods. 'Food will win the war' is the latest slogan,
and anyone who can help Mr. Hoover will be doing the utmost for our
final victory."

"That's all very well, Irene," said Alora, "but I'm sure we are all as
careful as possible to conserve food."

"Don't ask us to eat any less," pleaded Edna, "for my appetite rebels
as it is."

"I don't see how we Liberty Girls can possibly help Mr. Hoover more
than everyone else is doing," remarked Laura.

"Well, I've an idea we can," replied Irene. "But this is just another
case where I can only plan, and you girls must execute. Now, listen to
my proposition. The most necessary thing to conserve, it seems, is
wheat."

"So it seems, dear."

"People are eating large quantities of wheat flour simply because they
don't know what else to eat," Irene continued. "Now, corn, properly
prepared, is far more delicious and equally as nourishing as wheat. The
trouble is that people don't know how to use corn-meal and corn-flour
to the best advantage."

"That is true; and they're not likely to learn in time to apply the
knowledge usefully," commented Mary Louise.

"Not unless you girls get busy and teach them," admitted Irene, while a
smile went round the circle. "Don't laugh, girls. You are all very fair
cooks, and if properly trained in the methods of preparing corn for
food, you could easily teach others, and soon all Dorfield would be
eating corn and conserving wheat. That would be worth while, wouldn't
it?"

"But who's to train us, and how could we manage to train others?" asked
Mary Louise.

"The proposition sounds interesting, Irene, and if carried through
would doubtless be valuable, but is it practical?"

"Let us see," was the reply. "Some time ago I read of the wonderful
success of Mrs. Manton in preparing corn for food. She's one of the
most famous professional cooks in America and her name is already a
household word. We use her cook-book every day. Now, Mrs. Manton has
been teaching classes in Cleveland, and I wrote her and asked what she
would charge to come here and teach the Liberty Girls the practical
methods of preparing her numerous corn recipes. Here's her answer,
girls. She wants her expenses and one hundred dollars for two weeks'
work, and she will come next week if we telegraph her at once."

They considered and discussed this proposition very seriously.

"At the Masonic Temple," said Mary Louise, "there is a large and fully
equipped kitchen, adjoining the lodge room, and it is not in use except
on special occasions. Gran'pa Jim is a high Mason, and so is Alora's
father. Perhaps they could secure permission for us to use the lodge
kitchen for our class in cookery."

The colonel and Jason Jones, being consulted, promised the use of the
kitchen and highly approved the plan of the Liberty Girls. Mrs. Manton
was telegraphed to come to Dorfield and the cookery class was soon
formed. Alora confessed she had no talent whatever for cooking, but all
the other five were ready to undertake the work and a selection was
made from among the other Liberty Girls--of the rank and file--which
brought the total number of culinary endeavorers up to fifteen--as
large a class as Mrs. Manton was able to handle efficiently.

While these fifteen were being trained, by means of practical daily
demonstration, in the many appetizing preparations for the table from
corn-meal and corn-flour, Alora and one or two others daily visited the
homes of Dorfield and left samples of bread, buns, cookies, cakes,
desserts and other things that had come fresh from the ovens and range
of the cooking-school. At the same time an offer was made to teach the
family cook--whether mistress or servant--in this patriotic branch of
culinary art, and such offers were usually accepted with eagerness,
especially after tasting the delicious corn dainties.

When Mrs. Manton left Dorfield, after two weeks of successful work, she
left fifteen Liberty Girls fully competent to teach others how to
prepare every one of her famous corn recipes. And these fifteen,
divided into "shifts" and with several large kitchens at their
disposal, immediately found themselves besieged by applicants for
instruction. Before winter set in, all Dorfield, as predicted by Irene,
was eating corn, and liking it better than wheat, and in proof of their
success, the Liberty Girls received a highly complimentary letter from
Mr. Hoover, thanking them for their help in the time of the nation's
greatest need. A fee, sufficient to cover the cost of the material
used, had been exacted from all those willing and able to pay for
instruction, so no expense was involved in this work aside from the
charges of Mrs. Manton, which were cared for by voluntary subscription
on the part of a few who were interested in the girls' patriotic
project.

Another thing the Liberty Girls did was to start "Community Concerts"
one evening each week, which were held in various churches and attended
by throngs of men, women and children who joined lustily in the singing
of patriotic and popular songs. This community singing became immensely
popular and did much to promote patriotic fervor as well as to
entertain those in attendance.

And so Mary Louise's Liberty Girls, at the time this story ends, are
still active workers in the cause of liberty, justice and democracy,
and will continue to support their country's welfare as long as they
can be of use.

"We're a real part of the war," Mary Louise has often told her
co-workers, "and I'm sure that in the final day of glorious victory
our girls will be found to have played no unimportant part."

THE END





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