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´╗┐Title: The Boy Scouts In Russia
Author: Blaine, Captain John
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 "The Boy Scouts In Russia" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



THE BOY SCOUTS IN RUSSIA

_by_

CAPTAIN JOHN BLAINE

_Illustrated by_

E.A. FURMAN

THE SAALFIELD PUBLISHING COMPANY

Chicago     AKRON, OHIO      New York

     Copyright, 1916
           by
Saalfield Publishing Company


[Illustration: "Go! Hurry! Get this coat and helmet off me!"]



CONTENTS

Chapter                             Page

    I The Border                     11

   II Under Arrest                   25

  III A Strange Meeting              37

   IV Cousins                        49

    V The Germans                    61

   VI The Tunnel                     73

  VII A Daring Ruse                  85

 VIII Within the Enemy's Lines       99

   IX "There's Many a Slip--"       111

    X Sentenced                     125

   XI The Cossacks                  137

  XII The Trick                     151

 XIII The Escape                    165

  XIV Altered Plans                 179

   XV A Dash Through the Night      193

  XVI Between the Grindstones       205

 XVII An Old Enemy                  217

XVIII The Great White Czar          229



In Russian Trenches


CHAPTER I

THE BORDER


A train had just come to a stop in the border station of Virballen. Half
of the platform of that station is in Russia; half of it in East
Prussia, the easternmost province of the German empire. All trains that
pass from one country to the other stop there. There are customs men,
soldiers, policemen, Prussian and Russian, who form a gauntlet all
travelers must run. Here passports must be shown, trunks opened. Getting
in or out of Russia is not a simple business, even in the twentieth
century. All sorts of people can't come in while a good many who try to
get out are turned back, and may have to make a long journey to Siberia
if they cannot account for themselves properly.

This train had stopped in the dead of night. But, dark and late as it
was, there was the usual bustle and stir. Everyone had to wake up and
submit to the questioning of police and customs men. About the only
people who can escape such inquisition at Virballen or any other Russian
border station are royalties and ambassadors. Most of the passengers,
however, didn't have to come out on the platform. In this case, indeed,
only two descended. One of these was treated by the police officials
with marked respect. He was the sort of man to inspire both respect and
fear. Very tall, he was heavily bearded, but not so heavily as to
prevent the flashing of his teeth in a grim and unpleasant smile. Nor
were his eyes hidden as the rays of the station lights fell upon them.

He was called "Excellency" by the policemen who spoke to him, but he
ignored these men, save for a short, quick nod with which he
acknowledged their respectful greetings. His whole attention was devoted
to the boy by his side, who was looking up at him defiantly. This boy
won a tribute of curious looks from all who saw him, and some glances
of admiration when it became increasingly plain that he did not share
the universal feeling of awe for the man by his side. This was accounted
for, partly at least, it might be supposed, by the fact that he wasn't a
Russian. The Americans in the train, had they been out on the platform,
would have recognized him at once for he was sturdily and obviously
American.

The train began to move. With a shrill shriek from the engine, and the
banging of doors, it glided out of the station. Soon its tail lights
were swinging out of sight. But the Russian and the American boy
remained, while the train, with its load of free and cheerful
passengers, went on toward Berlin.

"You wouldn't let me take the train. Well, what are you going to do with
me now?" asked the boy.

His tone was as defiant as his look and if he was afraid, he didn't show
it. He wasn't afraid, as a matter of fact. He was angry.

The Russian considered him for a moment, saying not a word. Then he
called in a low, hushed tone, and three or four policemen came running
up.

"You see this boy?" he asked.

"Yes, excellency."

"It has pleased His Majesty the Czar, acting through the administration
of the police of St. Petersburg, to expel him from his dominions. He is
honored by my personal attention. I in person am executing the order of
His Majesty. I shall now conduct him to the exact border line and see to
it that he is placed on German soil. His name is Frederick Waring. On no
pretext is he to be allowed to return to Russian soil. Should he succeed
in doing so, he is to be arrested, denied the privilege of communication
with any friend, or with the consul or ambassador of any foreign nation,
and delivered to me in Petersburg. You will receive this order in due
form to-night. Understood?"

"Yes, excellency."

"Photographs will be attached to the official order." He turned again to
the boy, and for just a moment the expressionless mask was swept from
his eyes by a look of fierce hatred. "Now, then, step forward! As soon
as you have passed the line on the platform you will be on German
territory, subject to German law. I give you a word of good advice. Do
not offend against the German authorities. You will find them less
merciful than I."

"I'm not afraid of you," said Fred. He was angry, but his voice was
steady nevertheless. "You've cheated me. You've had my passport and my
money taken from me. What do you think I can do, when you land me in a
strange country in the middle of the night, without a kopeck in my
pocket? But I'll find a way to get back at you. Any man who would treat
me the way you have done is sure to have treated some other people
badly, too. And I'll find them--perhaps they'll be stronger than I."

"Your papers were confiscated in due process," said the Russian. He
smiled very evilly. "As for your threats--pah! Do you think your word
would carry any weight against that of Mikail Suvaroff, a prince of
Russia, a friend of the Grand Duke Nicholas and General of the army?"

"Oh, you're a great man," said Fred. "I know that. But you're not so
great that you don't have to keep straight. You may think I had no
business to come to Russia. Perhaps you are right, but that's no reason
for you to treat me like this. After all, you're my uncle--"

"Silence!" said Suvaroff harshly, startled at the carrying power of the
boy's voice.

Fred stepped nimbly across the line.

"You can't touch me now, by your own word!" he taunted. "I'm in Germany,
and your authority stops at the border! I say, I could forget everything
except the way you've put me down here in the middle of the night,
without a cent to my name or a friend I can call on! You needn't have
done that. I don't suppose you took my money--you don't need it--but you
let your underlings take it."

"I do not know that you ever had the money you say was taken from you,"
said Suvaroff, controlling himself. "It is easy for you to make such a
charge. But the officers who arrested you deny that they found any money
in your possession. There is no reason to take your word against them."

Fred stared at him curiously for a moment.

"Gee! You do hate us--and me!" he said, slowly. "I think you really
believe all you've said about me! Well, I'm glad if that's so. It gives
you a sort of excuse for behaving the way you have to me. And I'd
certainly hate to think that any relative of mine could act like you
unless he thought he was in the right, anyhow!"

Suvaroff strangled with anger for a moment. His cruel eyes became
narrow.

"I have changed my mind!" he cried, suddenly. "Seize him! Bring him
back!"

Fred stood perfectly still as two or three policemen and a couple of
soldiers in the white uniform coats of Russia came toward him. He knew
that it would be useless either to run or to fight. But, as it turned
out, there was no need for him to do either, for from behind him a sharp
order was snapped out by a young man who had been listening with
interest. Quietly a file of German soldiers with spiked helmets stepped
forward.

"Your pardon, excellency," said the German officer. "It is, of course,
quite impossible for us to permit Russian officials or soldiers to make
an arrest on our side of the line!"

"A matter of courtesy--" began Suvaroff.

"Pardon again," said the German, very softly. "Just at this moment
courtesy must be suspended. With a general mobilization in effect upon
both sides--"

Suvaroff suppressed the angry exclamation that was on his lips. For a
moment, however, he seemed about to repeat his order, though his men had
halted at the sight of German bayonets.

"I should regret a disturbance," said the German, still speaking in his
quiet voice. "My orders are to permit my men to do nothing that might
bring on a clash, for just now the firing of a single shot would make
war certain. Yet there is nothing in my orders to forbid me to resist an
act of aggression by Russia. We are prepared for war, though we do not
seek it."

Fred, almost losing interest in his own pressing troubles at this sudden
revelation of a state of affairs of which he had known nothing whatever,
looked fixedly at Suvaroff. He saw the Russian bite his lips, hesitate,
and finally take off his hat and make a sweeping bow to the German
officer.

"I agree, mein herr Lieutenant," he said, mockingly. "The time has come,
I think. It may be that the fortunes of war will bring us together.
Meanwhile I wish you joy of him you have saved!"

The German did not answer. He watched the departing Russians and then,
smiling faintly, he turned to Fred.

"I'll have to ask you to give some account of yourself, if you please,"
he said, in excellent English. "I'm Lieutenant Ernst, of the Prussian
army. Sentenced to guard duty here--for my sins. Now will you tell me
what all this means?"

"I had a passport," said Fred directly, and meeting the German's eyes
frankly. "Prince Suvaroff is my uncle, my mother's brother. Her family
refused to recognize my mother after her marriage to my father, and so
Prince Suvaroff does not like me. I had to see him on business and
family matters. I was arrested. My passport and my money were taken away
from me--and you saw what happened. He took me off the train and put me
across the border."

Ernst nodded.

"Things are done so in Russia--sometimes," he said. "Not always, but
they are possible, for a great noble. Well, I have seen things nearly as
bad in my own Prussia! I shall have to see what may be done for you. If
you reach Berlin, your ambassador will be able to help you, yes?"

"I am quite sure of it," said Fred, eagerly. "I don't want to trouble
you, but if you could help me to get there--"

A soldier interrupted him. He stepped up to Ernst, saluted, and,
permission given, spoke in the officer's ear. Ernst started.

"One minute," he said. "I am called away--I will return in one minute."

The minute dragged itself out. In all directions there was a rising
sound, confused, urgent. Fifteen minutes passed. Then a soldier came to
Fred.

"The lieutenant will see you inside," he said, gravely.

Fred followed him. Ernst, his face sober, but with shining eyes, spoke
to him at once.

"War has been declared," he said. "War between Germany and Russia! My
young friend, you are in hard luck! The train from which you were
expelled is the last that will even start for Berlin until the
mobilization is complete."

Outside there was a sudden rattle of rifle fire. Fred stared at the
German officer.

"That is the beginning," he said. "We happen to have the stronger force
here. We are taking possession of the Russian side of the border
station! I wish we might catch Suvaroff--he is a good soldier, that one
at least, and worth a division to the Russians. But there'll be no such
luck. He'll have got away, of course--a fast motor, or some such way.
And they've got more troops close up than we have."

And still Fred stared. He seemed unable to realize that this popping of
rifles, this calm, undemonstrative series of statements by an unexcited
German officer, meant that war had come at last--the European war of
which people even in America had talked for years as sure to come!

"As for you, I meant, of course, to lend you the money and let you go on
to Berlin," said Ernst. "Now I can lend you the money, but there will be
no trains. You can't stay here. The Russians, I think, will advance very
quickly, and it will not be here that we shall try to stop them, but
further back and among the lakes to the south. Even if there is a
concentration, however, foreigners will not be wanted."

"What shall I do?" asked Fred.

"You speak German?"

"Yes."

"Then I shall lend you some money--what I can spare. You can start back
toward Koenigsberg and Danzig. Your consul will be able to help you. You
can walk and the people will gladly sell you food."

"Yes, and thank you for the chance, I'm a Boy Scout; I won't mind a hike
at all."



CHAPTER II

UNDER ARREST


So it was arranged for Fred Waring, thousands of miles from home, to
start from Virballen. The lieutenant who had saved him from Suvaroff
lent him what money he could spare, though all told it was less than a
hundred marks, which is twenty dollars.

"Good-bye, and good luck go with you," said Ernst. "If we do not meet
again it will be a real good-bye. If you can send the money back, let it
go to my mother in Danzig. If you cannot, do not let it worry you! If
any people ask you questions, answer them quickly. If any tell you to
stop, stop! Remember that this is war time and every stranger is
suspected. You will be in no danger if you will remember to answer
questions and obey orders."

"Thank you again--and good-bye," said Fred. He had known this German
officer for only a few minutes, but he felt that he was parting from a
good friend, and, indeed, he was. Not many men would have been so
considerate and so kindly, especially at such a time, to a strange boy
from a foreign land, and one, moreover, who had certainly not come with
the best of recommendations. "I--I hope you'll come through all right."

"That's to be seen," said Ernst, with a shrug of the shoulders. "In war
who can tell? We take our chances, we who live by the sword. If a
Russian is to get me, he will do so, and it will not help to be afraid,
or to think of the chances that I may not see the end of what has been
begun to-night! We have been getting ready for years. Now we shall know
before long if we have done enough. The test has come for us of the
fatherland."

And then Fred said a bold thing.

"I can wish you good luck and a safe return, Lieutenant," he said. "But
I can't wish that your country may be victorious because my mother,
after all, was a Russian."

"I wouldn't ask that of you," said Ernst, with a laugh. "Even though it
is Prince Suvaroff's country, too?"

"There are Germans you do not like, I suppose--who are even your
enemies," said Fred. "Yet now you will forget all that, will you not?"

"God helping us, yes!" said Ernst. "You are right. Your heart must be
with your own. But you don't seem like a Russian, or I would not be
helping you."

Then Fred was off, going on his way into the darkness alone. Ernst had
told him which road to follow, telling him that if he stuck to it he
would not be likely to run into any troop movements.

"Don't see too much. That is a good rule for one who is in a country at
war," he had advised. "If you know nothing, you cannot tell the enemy
anything useful, and there will be less reason for our people to make
trouble for you. Your only real danger lies in being taken for a spy.
And if you are careful not to learn things, that will not be a very
great one."

Fred was not at all afraid, as a matter of fact, as he set out. Before
he had stepped across the mark that stood for the border he had been
hugely depressed. He had been friendless and alone. He had been worse
than friendless, indeed, since the only man for many miles about who
knew him was his bitter enemy. Now he had found that he could still
inspire a man like Ernst with belief in his truthfulness and honesty,
and the knowledge did him a lot of good. And then, of course, he had
another excellent reason for not being afraid. He was entirely ignorant
of the particular dangers that were ahead of him. He had no conception
at all of what lay before him, and it does not require bravery not to
fear a danger the very existence of which one is entirely without
knowledge.

The idea of walking all through the summer night, as Ernst had advised
him to do, did not seem bad to him at all. As a scout at home, he had
taken part in many a hike, and if few of them had been at night, he was
still thoroughly accustomed to being out-of-doors, without even the
shelter of a tent or a lean-to. Nor was he afraid of losing his way, for
as long as the stars shone above, as they did brilliantly now, he had a
sure guide.

Fred wasn't tired, for he had enraged Suvaroff, who had seemingly wanted
him to be frightened, by sleeping during the journey to Virballen
whenever he could. It had been comfortable enough on the train; he had
not been treated as a prisoner, but as a guest. And he had, as a matter
of fact, been aroused only an hour before the train had reached the
frontier.

So he had been able to start out boldly and confidently. In the country
through which he was now tramping the nights are cool in summer, but the
days are very hot. So Fred had made up his mind, as soon as he
understood that he had a good deal of walking before him, to do as much
of his traveling as was possible by night, and to sleep during the day.
In East Prussia, as in some parts of Canada, the summer is short and
hot; the winter long and cold.

There was nothing about the silent countryside, as he tramped along an
excellent road, to make him think of war. The fields about him seemed to
be planted less with grain; they were very largely used for pasture, and
he saw a good many horses. He remembered now that this was the great
horse breeding district of Germany. Here there were great estates with
many acres of rolling land on which great numbers of horses were bred.
It was here, he knew, that the German army, needing great numbers of
horses every year, found its mounts.

"They'll need more than ever now," he thought to himself. "If there's
really to be war, I suppose they'll take every horse that's able to work
at all, whether it's a good looking beast or not. Poor horses! They
don't have much chance, I guess."

He thought of the Cossacks he had seen in Russia, wiry, small men, in
the main, mounted on shaggy, strong, little horses, no bigger in reality
than ponies. He had heard of the prowess of the Cossacks, of course.
They had fought well in the past in a good many wars. But somehow it
seemed rather absurd to match them, with their undersized horses,
against magnificent specimens of men and horseflesh such as the German
cavalry. He had passed a squadron of Uhlans, near Virballen, outlined
against the sky. They had been grim and business-like in appearance. But
then the Cossacks were that, too, though in an entirely different way.

"I wish I had someone along!" he thought, at last.

That was when the dawn was beginning to break. Off to the east the sun
was beginning to rise, and in the grey half light before full day there
was something stark and gaunt about the country. Before him smoke was
rising, probably from a village. But that sign of human habitation, that
certain indication that people were near, somehow only made him feel
lonelier than he had been in the starlit darkness of the night. This
would be good enough fun, if only one of his many friends back home were
along--Jack French, or Steve Vedder. It was with them that he had
shared such adventures in the past. And yet not just such adventures,
either. This was more real than anything his adventures as a Boy Scout
had brought him, though he belonged to a patrol that got in a lot of
outdoor work, and that camped out every summer in a practical way.

Being alone took some of the zest out of what had seemed, once
Lieutenant Ernst's loan had saved him from his most pressing worry,
likely to be a bully adventure. Now it seemed rather flat and stale. But
that was partly because having tramped all night, he was really
beginning to be tired. So he went on to the village, and there he found
a little inn, where he got a good breakfast and a bed, in which, as soon
as he had eaten his meal, he was sound asleep.

Few men were about the village when he went in. He had noticed, however,
the curious little throng, early as it was, about a bulletin ominously
headed, "Kriegzustand!" That meant mobilization and war. The men had
answered the call already, all except those who were too old to spring
to arms at once. Some of the older ones, he knew, would be called out,
too, for garrison duty, so that younger men might go to the front.

In his sleep he had many dreams, but the most insistent one was made up
of the tramp of heavy feet and the blowing of bugles and the rattling of
horses' feet. And this wasn't a dream at all, for when he awoke it was
to find a soldier shaking him roughly by the shoulders, and ordering him
to get up. And outside were all the sounds of his dream. The sun was
high for he had been asleep for several hours. So he got up willingly
enough, and hurried his dressing because he remembered what Ernst had
told him. Then he followed the soldier downstairs, and found himself the
prisoner in an impromptu sort of court-martial.

Really, it wasn't as bad as that. Considering that he had no passports
and nothing, in fact, to show who he was, and that no responsible person
could vouch for him, he was very lucky. It was because he was a boy, and
obviously an American boy, that he got off so easily. For after he had
answered a few questions, a major explained the situation to him very
punctiliously.

"You must be detained here for two or three days," said the major. "This
is an important concentration district, and many things will happen that
no foreigner can be allowed to see. We believe absolutely that you are
not unfriendly, and that you have no intention of reporting anything you
might chance to learn to an enemy. But in time of war we may not take
any risks, and you will, therefore, be required to remain in this
village under observation.

"Within the village limits you will be as free as if you were at home,
in your own country. You will not be allowed to pass them, however, and
if you try to do so a sentry will shoot you. As soon as certain
movements are completed, you will be at liberty to pass on, on your way
to Koenigsberg. I will add to Lieutenant Ernst's advice. When you reach
Koenigsberg, after you have reported yourself to the police, wait there
until a train can take you to Berlin. It will mean only a few days of
waiting, for at Koenigsberg there are already many refugees, and the
authorities want to get them to Berlin as soon as the movements of troop
trains allow the railway to be reopened for passenger traffic."

Fred agreed to all this. There was nothing else for him to do, for one
thing, and, for another, he was by no means unwilling to see whatever
there might be to be seen here. He could guess by this time that without
any design he had stumbled on a spot that was reckoned rather important
by the Germans, for the time being at least, and he had heard enough
about the wonderful efficiency of the German army to be anxious to see
that mighty machine in the act of getting ready to move.

He did see a good deal, as a matter of fact, that day and the next. It
was on the famous Saturday night of the first of August that he had left
Virballen. Sunday brought news of a clash with France, far away on the
western border, and of the German invasion of Belgium. Monday brought
word of a definite declaration of war between Germany and France, and
of the growing danger that England, too, might be involved.

And all of Sunday and all of Monday supplies of all sorts poured through
the little village in an unceasing stream. Motor cars and trucks were to
be seen in abundance, and Fred caught his first glimpse, which was not
to be his last, of the wonderful German field kitchens, in the mighty
ovens of which huge loaves of bread were being baked even while the
whole clumsy looking apparatus was on the move. But it only looked
clumsy. Like everything else about the German army, this was a practical
and efficient, well tried device.

Then suddenly, early on Tuesday, he was told that he was free to go, or
would be by nightfall. And that day all signs of the German army, save a
small force of Uhlans, vanished from the village. That evening,
refreshed and ready for the road again, Fred set out. And that same
evening, though he did not know it until the next day, England entered
the war against Germany.



CHAPTER III

A STRANGE MEETING


As he walked west Fred noticed, even in the night, a change in the
country. It was not that he passed once in a while a solitary soldier
guarding a culvert, as he neared a railway, or a patrol, with its
twinkling fire, watching this spot or that that needed special guarding.
That was part of war, the part of war that he had been able to foresee.
It wasn't anything due to the war that made an impression on his mind so
much as a sort of thickening of the country. Though he had traveled so
short a distance from the Russian border, there seemed to be more people
about.

Great houses, rising on high ground, with small, contented looking
villages nestling, as it were, under their protection, were frequent. He
was, as a matter of fact, in a country of great aristocratic
landholders, the great nobles of Prussia, the men who are the real
rulers of the country, under the Prussian King, who is also the German
Kaiser. And in many of these great houses lights were burning, even
after midnight, when all signs of life in the villages had ceased. The
country was stirring, and there was more of it to stir. Now from time to
time he heard the throbbing hum of an automobile motor. Only one or two
of these passed him, going in either direction, on the road along which
he was traveling. But there were parallel roads, and he could hear the
throbbing motors on these, and often see the pointing shafts of light
from their lights, searching out the road before them as they sped
along.

Fred knew enough of Germany to understand something of what he saw and
heard. It was from these great houses that a great many officers were
contributed to the army. These young men had no real career before them
from their birth, almost, except in the army. So it was easy to guess
why the lights were burning in those mansions, and why there was anxiety
among them, and why the throbbing motor cars were humming over the
roads.

If Germany were beaten back in the beginning, if the task she had
undertaken proved too heavy, this was the province that was sure to feel
the first brunt of invasion. Behind him, to the east, Fred knew were the
great masses of Russia, moving slowly, but with a terrible, always
increasing force. No wonder these people were stirring, were sending out
all their men to drive back the huge power that lay so near them, a
constant menace!

But now, though he did not know it, Fred was approaching real danger for
the first time. Many of the motors he saw and heard were going west.
Though he could not guess it, they were carrying women and children away
from the old houses that were too much exposed, too directly in the path
of a possible invasion for the helpless ones to be left in them when the
men had gone to fight. All Germany had to be defended. It happened to be
the part of East Prussia to bear invasion, if it came to that.

And so the people of the great houses were making their migration. The
men went to their regiments; the women to Berlin, and to the great
fortresses that lay nearer than Berlin--Koenigsberg, Danzig, Thorn. This
was historic country that Fred was traversing, the same country that had
trembled beneath the thundering march of Napoleon's grand army more than
a hundred years before, when the great Emperor had launched the mad
adventure against Russia that had sealed his fate.

But he didn't think of these things, except of Napoleon, as he trudged
along. Once more he traveled through the night. Once more, as the first
signs of morning came, he began to feel tired, and, despite the food he
had carried with him which he had stopped to eat about midnight, he was
hungry. And, as had been the case on the night of his tramp from
Virballen, the first rays of the rising sun showed him a village. It was
in a hollow, and above it the ground rose sharply to a large house,
evidently very old, built of a grey stone that had been weathered by the
winds and rains of centuries. It was a very old house, and strangely
out of tune, it seemed to Fred, with the country though not with the
times. It was so old that it showed some traces of fortification, and
Fred knew how long it was since private houses had been built with any
view to defence. It was a survivor of the days when this whole region
had been an outpost of civilization against hordes of barbarian
invaders.

One curious thing he noticed at once about the great house. No flag was
flying from it, though it boasted a sort of turret from which a flag
might well have been flung out to the wind. All the other big houses he
had seen had had flags out and the absence of a standard here seemed
significant, somehow.

When he entered the village he found that there was no inn. He saw the
usual notice of mobilization and the proclamation of war, but the people
were not stirring yet. He had to wait for some time before he found a
house where people were up. They looked at him curiously, but grudgingly
consented to give him breakfast. There was an old man, and another who
was younger, but crippled. And this cripple was the one who seemed most
puzzled by Fred's appearance in the place. He surveyed him closely and
twice Fred caught him whispering, evidently about him.

Then the cripple slipped away and came back, just as Fred was finishing
his meal, with a pompous looking, superannuated policeman, recalled to
duty since the younger men had all gone to war. This man asked many
questions which Fred answered.

"You are American?" asked the policeman, finally. "You are sure you are
not English?"

All at once the truth came over Fred. They thought he was English! Then
England must have entered the war! They would think that he was an
enemy, perhaps a spy! Yet, though he knew now the cause of the
suspicious looks, the mutterings, he couldn't utter a word in his
defence. He hadn't been formally accused of anything.

"Yes, I'm an American," he said, quietly. "I'm not English. I've no
English blood in me."

He had intended to try to get a place to sleep in the village, but now
he decided that it would be better to get away as soon as he could. If
there had been soldiers about, or any really responsible police
officials, he would not have been at all disturbed. But these people
were nervous and ignorant; the best men of the place had gone, the ones
most likely to have a good understanding. So he paid his little
reckoning, and started to walk on.

They followed him as he started. As soon as he was in the open road
again, a new idea came to him. Why not try the great house on the hill?
There certainly someone would know the difference between an American
and an Englishman. He was very tired. He knew that, even if he went on,
he would have to stop at some village sooner or later. And if he was
suspected here, he would be at the next place.

And so, trying to ignore the little crowd that was following him, he
turned off and began climbing toward the mansion above the village.

It was like a signal. From behind him there rose a dull murmur. A lad
not much older than himself raced up and stood threateningly in his
path.

"If you are an American and honest, why are you going there?" asked this
boy, a peasant, and rather stupid in his appearance.

"None of your business!" said Fred, aroused. He didn't think that the
advice of his friend Lieutenant Ernst to answer questions covered this.

"You can't go there. There are spies enough there already!" cried the
other.

And then without any warning, he lunged forward and tried to grapple
with Fred.

That aroused all the primitive fight in Fred. He met the attack joyously
for wrestling was something he understood very well. And in a moment he
had pinned the peasant boy, strong as he was, to the earth.

But he had got rid of one opponent only to have a dozen others spring
up. There was a throng about him as he shook himself free, a throng
that closed in, shouting, cursing. For a moment things looked serious.
Fred now understood these people thought he was a spy. And he could
guess that it would go hard with him if he didn't get away. He forgot
everything but that, and he fought hard and well to make good his
escape. But they were too many for him. Try as he would, he couldn't get
clear, although he put up a fight that must have been a tremendous
surprise to his assailants. In the end, though, they got him down, with
cries of triumph.

And then there came a sudden diversion from outside the mob. Down the
road from the great house, shrieking a warning, came a flying motor car.
Its siren sounded quick, angry blasts, and the mob, terrified, broke and
scattered to get out of the way of the car. Fred, stupefied, didn't run.
He had to jump quickly to one side to get out of the car's path. Then he
saw that it was slowing down, and that it was driven by a boy of his own
age. This boy leaned toward him.

"I'm going to turn and go back. Jump aboard as I come by--I won't be
going very fast!" he cried.

Fred didn't stop to argue or to wonder why this stranger had come to his
aid in such a sensational and timely fashion. Instead, he gathered
himself together and, as the car swung about and passed him, leaped in.
As he grasped the seat, the driver shot the car forward and it went
roaring up the hill, pursued by a chorus of angry cries from the crowd,
utterly balked of its prey.

"That was a close call for you!" said the driver, in German.

But something in his tone made Fred look at him sharply. And then part
of the mystery was solved. For the driver was not a German at all, but
plainly and unmistakably a Russian.

"Yes--but how--why--?"

"Wait! Don't talk now!" said the driver. "Wait till we're inside. We'll
be all right there, and I've got a few questions I'd like to ask, too."

There was no more danger from the mob of villagers, however. The speed
of the car, even on the steep grade, was too great to give pursuers on
foot a chance, and so its driver was able, in a few moments, to drive it
through great open gates into a huge courtyard.

"Now who are you?" he asked. "And why were those people attacking you?"

"They thought I was English," said Fred. "I suppose England must have
declared war on Germany, too."

"She has. Aren't you English, then?"

"No, I'm American. My name's Fred Waring. You're a Russian, aren't you?"

"Yes. My name's Boris Suvaroff. This is a summer place my father owns
here. He's away. I'm glad of that, because the Germans would have taken
him prisoner if he'd been here."

For just a moment neither seemed to catch the other's name. Then the
Russian boy spoke.

"Fred Waring--an American?" he said. "I--is it possible? I've got a
cousin called Waring in America! My father's first cousin married an
American of that name years and years ago."

"She was a Suvaroff--my mother," said Fred, but he spoke stiffly. "Her
family here disowned her--"

"Some of them--only some of them," said Boris. "Are you really my
cousin? My father wrote to your mother long ago--but he got no answer!
He has often told me of her. He was very fond of her! Are you really my
cousin?"

"I guess I am!" said Fred. "I'm glad to know that some of you will own
me! My uncle Mikail had me arrested when I went to see him in
Petersburg!"

And then while they learned about one another, the two of them forgot
the war and the danger in which they stood.



CHAPTER IV

COUSINS


"So you have seen Mikail Suvaroff!" said Boris. He shook his head. "We
have seen little of him in the last few years. He and my father do not
agree. Mikail is on the side of the men about the Czar who want no
changes, who want to see the people crushed and kept down. My father
wants a new Russia, with all the people happier and stronger."

"Then I should think they wouldn't agree," said Fred, heartily. "Mikail
is like the Russians one reads about, dark and mysterious, and always
sending people to Siberia and that sort of thing."

"It isn't as bad as that, of course," said Boris, with a laugh. "Russia
isn't like other countries, but we're not such barbarians as some people
try to make out. Still, of course, there are a lot of things that ought
to be changed. Russia has been apart from the rest of the world because
she's so big and independent. That's why there are two parties, the
conservatives and the liberals. My father is all for the Czar, but he
wants the Czar to govern through the men the people elect to the Duma.
After this war--well, we shall see! There will be many changes, I think.
You see, this time it is all Russia that fights. Against Japan we were
not united. It is the Russian people who have made this war."

"I only knew there was danger of war the night it began," said Fred. "I
suppose it is on account of Servia, though?"

"Yes. That started it. They are Slavs, like ourselves. It is as it was
when we fought Turkey nearly forty years ago. The Turks were murdering
Slavs in the Balkans, and all our people called on the Czar to fight.
This time we could not let Austria bully a nation that is almost like a
little brother to Russia."

"I can understand that," said Fred. "I suppose there's enough of the
Slav in me, from my mother, to make me feel like that, too."

"Even after the way Mikail treated you? Tell me about that. Why did he
behave so, though I suppose you may not know?"

"I don't, really. My father is dead, you know. I and my mother are
alone. She has always loved Russia, though she calls herself an
American, and is one, and has always made me understand that I am an
American, before all. But she has taught me to love Russia, too. And she
has always told me that there were estates in Russia that belonged to
her, and would belong to me. She and my father were angry and hurt
because of the way her family treated them, but she said that some time
she wanted me to take possession of the estate, and to live for a little
time each year in Russia. She said that the peasants on the place would
be better off if I did that."

"Yes," Boris nodded. "That is what those who criticise us do not always
remember. Russian nobles do look after their peasants. The peasants in
Russia have not had the advantages of the poor in other countries. They
are like children still. My father is a father to all the people on our
estate. When they are sick, he sees that they are cared for. If there
are bad crops, he gives them food and money. We must all do such
things."

"That's what she told me. Well, she wrote letters and she could get no
answers. So she decided to come herself. But she was taken ill. Not
seriously, but ill enough so that the doctor did not want her to travel.
And that was why I came. I went to my uncle, because he was in charge of
her affairs. And then, though he was kind enough when I first saw him,
and promised to help me, I was arrested. All my papers were taken away,
and all my money. And he brought me to Virballen, after I had been kept
in a sort of prison for three or four weeks. There I was taken off the
train for Berlin and put across the border, without any money or
passports. The German lieutenant himself was going to send me to Berlin,
but then the news came that war had been declared, and he advised me to
walk. I was held up at the first village I came to, and I got as far as
this. You saw what happened here in this little village."

"That is very, very strange," said Boris, vastly puzzled. "Do you know
what charge was made against you?"

"No! Some tommyrot about a conspiracy against the Czar. But just what it
was I was never told. I am forbidden to re-enter Russia."

"I don't understand at all," said Boris. "Mikail can't want to keep your
mother's property for himself. He is a very rich man--by far the richest
of the family, though none of the Suvaroffs are poor. And I know about
your mother's lands, because they are next to our own."

"The money that comes from them has always been sent to her," said Fred.
"That was what I was thinking of, too. There was no trouble, you see,
until it seemed that we might want to live on the place from time to
time."

"Yes. My father has had something to do with the arrangements. Your
mother is well off, even without her own property, isn't she?"

"Yes. My father was not a millionaire, but he always had plenty,"
answered Fred, very frankly.

"Mikail did hate the idea of her marriage," said Boris, reflectively. "I
could understand this better if I thought that he was trying to keep her
inheritance from her to show his dislike. But it cannot be that. There
is something very mysterious. I wish my father were here! I think
perhaps he would understand."

"Where is he, Boris?"

"With the army by this time! He did not believe there would be war, to
the very last. That is the only reason I am still here. But he himself
was called back as soon as things began to look serious. I stayed here
with my tutor but he is gone now. He is a German, and has been called
out. It is fortunate that my father had gone, because the Germans would
have held him, of course, if he had been here. They have come here three
or four times to look for him, but now I think they have decided that we
have told the truth, and that he is not here."

"How did you happen to come to my aid in such a fashion? I was
beginning to think that I was in serious danger down there."

"You were, Fred! They thought you were an English spy. And they hate the
English worse than they do us, I think. They have thought that the
English should be on their side. When they found it could not be so,
they thought that at least England would be afraid to fight."

"I see that. But you--what brought you out?"

"I know those people. And when I saw that they were attacking someone,
it seemed to me that I couldn't just stand by and look on. It was sure
to be someone on my own side that they were treating so--the cowards!
But a mob is always cowardly. And, of course, I knew that I could manage
easily with the automobile. They were sure to scatter when they saw it
coming, because they are afraid of motors, anyway."

"Well, you can belittle it as much as you like, but you certainly saved
me from an awfully nasty situation. And you didn't know who I was,
either!"

"No, I didn't, of course. But it makes me feel all the better to find
out it was you, Fred. Still you know we're not out of the woods yet."

"We're all right here, aren't we?"

"I don't know. I think the Russians will be in East Prussia, and well
in, before very long. If that happens and the German army is pushed back
of this line, these people will be entirely out of control, except if
Russian troops happen to come to this particular spot--and there's no
especial reason why they should."

"You mean they might attack the house?"

"They might do anything, especially if the war seems to be going against
them. They're good enough people, as a rule, but in times like these
there's no telling what will happen."

"I hadn't thought of that. But--yes, you're right, of course. What do
you think we'd better do, Boris?"

"There's nothing to be done at once. We've got to wait a little while,
and let the situation develop. If we tried to get away now, it would be
very risky indeed, I think. You see, between us and the Russian border
there are a lot of German troops. And, even if you went back now toward
Koenigsberg and Berlin, I'm afraid you'd have a hard time. You see, you
haven't any passport. And you're partly Russian. Then you've been here,
and they'd know that. I'm afraid you'd stand a good chance of being
locked up. Tell me just what happened at Virballen."

Fred told him all that he could remember, and Boris frowned.

"Ernst will make a report, you see," he said. "I'm afraid they'll be
looking for you. It makes it look as if you were in a bad hole."

"How do you mean? There's nothing in what happened there to interest
Germany, is there?"

"If things had been normal that night, you'd have found out what there
was, I can tell you! You see the Russian and the German secret police
work together very well. It's all right when they're looking for
nihilists and violent revolutionaries--the sort of people who would
think it a great thing to assassinate either the Kaiser or the Czar.
But the trouble is that if a big man in either Germany or Russia has a
grudge against someone, he can use that whole secret police machinery
against him. That's what Mikail Suvaroff was doing to you."

"But the Germans?"

"He would have seen to it, I suppose, that the secret police on our side
told the Germans here some cock and bull story--enough to induce them to
make it unpleasant for you. That was arranged in advance probably. Right
there on the border, with war starting, those fellows lost their
importance. The soldiers, like Ernst, were in full command. But they'll
be as busy and as active as ever a little way behind the fighting line,
looking for spies. They'll remember what the Russians had to say about
you, and they'll decide that you're a suspicious character, and lock you
up in some fortress till the war's over!"

"Gee! That's a nice prospect! Say, Boris, what am I to do? If I go to
Berlin, I'll be arrested! If I go back to Russia, my uncle will
probably have me boiled in oil or something! If I stay here, your
peasant friends down below will lynch me! I'm beginning to think I'm not
popular around here!"

Boris laughed, but his eyes were grave.

"It's a ridiculous situation," he said. "I don't really know what to
say. I don't believe you need to fear Mikail very much. He has a good
deal to think of by this time, because, now that the war has come, he
won't have time for intrigue. He's a first-class soldier. He made a
splendid record in the war with Japan--and not many of our generals did,
you know. But I tell you what I think we'd better do. Wait here until we
hear from my father. He will know. And when he learns that you are here,
he will be able to protect you in some fashion."

"But how are you going to hear from him here?"

"That's a secret--yet! But there's a way, never fear. A way that the
Germans don't suspect, and won't be able to interfere with. Tell me,
Fred. If it is safe for you to go back into Russia, will you stand by
me? Or would you rather take your chance of going home through Germany?
I'm a Boy Scout, and we have known for a long time some of the work we
would have to do if war came."

"I'm with Russia, even if America stays out," said Fred, with instant
decision. "Blood's thicker than water--you know the old saying. And I am
half a Russian. If there's any way that I can help, you can count me in.
I'm a Boy Scout, too, when it comes to that. I didn't know there were
any in Russia, though."

"There are. They're all over Europe now, you know. Well, we'll see.
What's this?"

A servant had entered.

"There is a man who would see you, Boris Petrovitch," he said, using the
familiar address of Russian servants.



CHAPTER V

THE GERMANS


Boris jumped up.

"That is good!" he said. "I have been hoping he would come."

"You do not know who it is," said the servant. "Boris Petrovitch, do not
see this man. He is a German. He looks to me like one of their spies."

"I will look at him first," said Boris, with a smile. "But, Vladimir, I
think your eyes are getting feeble. It is time you were sent to the
place in the Crimea to rest, like the old horses that can no longer do
their share of the work."

Vladimir bridled indignantly. But then a slow smile came over his face.

"Is it Ivan?" he asked.

"It should be," said Boris. "I shall know as soon as I see him."

The newcomer was waiting in the great hall. Boris, with Fred at his
heels, got a glimpse of him; then without ceremony he ran down the
polished staircase.

"So you have come at last!" he cried.

Ivan was a loutish German in appearance, and only his eyes betrayed the
fact that he was not as stupid as he looked. At the sight of Boris he
smiled, and the act changed his whole expression. But Fred thought he
had never dreamed of so splendid a disguise. This man, he guessed, must
have come many miles through Germany, in a country where the closest
possible watch was being kept for spies, and for all, indeed, who might
even be suspected of espionage. And it was easy to see how he had been
able to do it. Fred knew that he must be a Russian. Yet in every detail
of his appearance he was German. His clothes, his bearing, his every
little mannerism, were carefully studied. Fred guessed that this was no
servant, but a secret agent of much skill and experience. He was to
learn the truth of his surmise before many days had passed.

"Ivan Feodorovitch!" said Boris. "So you really got through! Have you
brought the--"

He stopped at a forbidding look in the man's eye. For a moment he seemed
to be puzzled. Then he understood that it was the presence of Fred, a
stranger, that was bothering Ivan.

"Oh!" he cried, with a laugh. "Ivan, you may speak before this stranger
as freely as before me. Let him be a stranger to you no longer. He is my
cousin from America--the son of Marie Feodorovna, who went away to be
married before I was born!"

Fred was not prepared for what followed. There was an outcry, first of
all, from the half dozen servants in the great hall. They crowded
forward curiously to look at him. And as for Ivan, he stared blankly for
a moment, and then plumped down on one knee and, to Fred's unspeakable
embarrassment, seized his hand and kissed it.

"He and all of them are old, old retainers of our house," Boris
explained swiftly. "To them one of our blood ranks second only to the
Czar himself. My father saw to it always that here we were surrounded
only by such faithful ones. These people and their ancestors before them
have been in the service of us and of our ancestors for many, many
generations--since before the freeing of the serfs, of course."

It was Boris who brought Ivan back to the errand that had caused his
sudden appearance.

"Have you brought the parts for the wireless?" he asked. "It was as my
father foresaw. The first thing the Germans did was to come here and
render the installation useless, as they supposed."

"It need not remain useless," said Ivan. "Everything needful I have
brought. The station may be working by to-night. Except that there can
not be anything worth sending for a few hours, it might be set up now.
Better not to use it and risk betraying our secret until there is real
need of it."

Boris turned to Fred to explain.

"We have spies all through East Prussia, and through Galicia and
Silesia, too, of course," he said. "They can find out a good many things
of interest and importance to our army. But it is one thing to obtain
such knowledge and quite another to find some means of sending it back
to our people. We hope, if we are not sent away from here too soon, that
we can make this house very useful that way. It stands high, you see,
and we have a very powerful wireless. The Germans knew this and they
thought they had made it useless."

"Oh, that's great!" said Fred. "Perhaps I can help, too, because I can
send by wireless. I don't know whether I would be much good with the
Continental code, because I've learned only with Morse. But I might be
of some use."

"Another operator will be of the greatest use," said Boris. "I know a
little, a very little, about it. And there is a man here. But I am
afraid that they will come very soon and take every man who is of
fighting age away."

"But your men aren't soldiers!"

"Most of them have served their term in the army. But, even if they had
not, the Germans would take every able-bodied man. That is all right.
We are probably keeping back all Germans who might go home and go into
the army, and all the other countries will do the same with men of a
nation with which they are at war."

"Vladimir has all that I brought," said Ivan, breaking in now. "As for
me, I must go again."

"Go? Now? Aren't you going to stay?"

"No! I have much to do. I may be back. But if I return, I shall come
through the cellar--you understand? There are strange movements of
troops in this region that I cannot understand at all. There are far
fewer soldiers here than I thought there would be. I have not been able
to find traces of more than a single corps of Germans--and we had
expected them to have three or four, at the very least, concentrated in
East Prussia as soon as the war broke out. At Augustowo they were even
expecting an attack."

"Then if there are so few as that, won't we advance?"

"Ah, that I don't know! The Austrians, I hear, are very busy. They say
they are moving already in great strength across the border, but that is
far away from here, and it is not our concern. It is for us to keep the
Germans so busy here that they will not be able to crush France before
England can get her army into action. At the beginning it does not
matter so much whether we win victories or not, so long as we can force
the Germans to send many corps here instead of using them to invade
France. But I have talked enough. Now--good-bye, and may God be with you
here!"

"Good-bye," said Boris, and Fred repeated Ivan's wish in Russian. Ivan
seemed astonished.

"So your mother taught you her mother tongue!" he said. "Ah, but that is
splendid!"

Then he was off.

"Ivan might have been a great actor, I believe," said Boris. "See, isn't
he the German to the life as he goes, there? No wonder he can deceive
them so!"

"It's pretty dangerous work for him, though, I should think," said Fred.
"They wouldn't waste much time on him if they caught him, would they?"

"Only the time they needed for a drumhead court-martial. After that, if
he was lucky, he would be shot instead of being hung. But he is ready,
you see. It is his part. Oh, we Russians are all united now, if we never
were before! Germany has threatened us for years. She has set Austria
against us. This time we had to fight, and you will see that all Russia
will be behind the Czar. We learned our lessons against the Japanese.
That was not a popular war. It was not made by the people, but by a few
who forced the Czar's hand. Now we shall make the world see that though
Russia may be beaten, she has the power to rise from defeat."

"What will happen here if they do take the men away?"

"They won't take them all. Only the younger ones. There will be enough
left to look after the place and after us. Though if they come, I shall
have to hide you, my cousin! I am just thinking of that. I shouldn't
wonder if those stupid people would have sent word to someone. We had
better be prepared. Come with me--I will show you something."

Fred followed Boris, and in a few minutes found himself in a great room
that was obviously the dining-room of the house. In this room there were
many pictures, and the walls were panelled in oak, blackened by smoke
and age. Boris looked about to make sure that they were not observed,
then he touched a spot in one of the panels, and it slid open. Beyond
this, however, was revealed an unbroken wall. Again Boris touched a
certain spot, and now this wall, seemingly solid and unbroken, gave way,
just as the oaken panel had done.

"Even if they discovered the panel, you see, they would not have the
secret," said Boris. "I will show you the exact spots you must touch.
Then if they come, you can reach this place by yourself. Once in here,
you will be safe. Carry an electric torch always with you. I will give
you one later. You will find two sets of arrows marked every few feet
through the passages to which this leads. The upper ones point to the
outside door that is at the end of a passage far beyond the house. The
lower ones, if you follow their course, will bring you back to these
panels. So you cannot lose your way."

"By George, that certainly sounds mysterious! Have you always planned
for something like this?"

"Oh, these passages are very old. This house, you see, was built at a
time when intrigue was more common than now. But when my father began to
see, as he did years ago, that Germany was sure to force war upon us,
and that it would probably come in his lifetime, he made many changes.
This is not really a private house at all--it is a little outpost of
Russia, here in the midst of an enemy's country. And it is not the only
one. In Silesia and in Galicia we have places like it."

"Perhaps the Germans will find that Russia is not so slow after all!"

Outside now there rose a peculiar sound, but one that Fred identified
at once.

"That sounds like your Germans coming now, Boris," he said, quietly.
"I've heard crowds making just that same noise at home--on election
night, for instance, when they were coming to make the winner give them
a speech."

Boris listened for a moment, then he went to a window.

"Yes," he said. "But it's not the sort of Germans we need to worry
about. It's only the people from the village. Old men, and women, and
children--boys, of course. I'm surprised that they should come for they
know they can't get in."

But even as he spoke, there came a thunderous sound of knocking at the
outer door and the sharp grounding of arms--a noise as ominous as it was
unmistakable.

"There are soldiers, too. They are here much sooner than I thought they
could come!" exclaimed Boris. "Here, into that passage with you! Listen!
Follow the arrows! They will lead you down. Stop at a double arrow. You
will be able to hear. The wall is very thin there, on purpose. You can
hear what is going on in the great hall and still be perfectly safe.
I'll come for you as soon as I can get rid of them."

"All right. But will you be safe yourself? Oughtn't you to come with me,
Boris?"

"Oh, they won't do anything to me! I'm only a boy, you see. They'll
never think that I could be dangerous. In with you, now! We can't keep
the soldiers out. I don't want to give them an excuse for burning the
place down, and they'd do it in a minute if there was any resistance."



CHAPTER VI

THE TUNNEL


Fred found the secret passage much less confusing than he had thought it
likely to be. As soon as he had stepped in, the panels slid back into
place, and the passage was immediately dark. But Boris had had time to
find an electric torch for him, and had told him where to find
another--or two or three, for that matter--when that was exhausted.

"We've always kept them there in case of emergencies," he had explained.

So Fred had felt assured of a supply of light, which was the one
absolutely necessary thing if, as was entirely possible, the German
soldiers stayed in the house for any time. One other thing, of course,
was necessary; food and drink. And that, too, he knew where to find.
Boris had told him of a store of compressed foods, and of fresh water,
piped into this amazing passageway from the outer entrance, far beyond
the limits of the gardens and grounds of the house.

The first thing Fred did was to switch on the light of his torch and
inspect the warren in which he had found sanctuary. It was not at all
the musty, bad smelling place he had expected it to be. The walls had
been plastered and stained a dull grey, which did not reflect the light
from his torch appreciably. The arrows appeared, as Boris had said they
did, at frequent intervals.

"Not much of a secret." That was Fred's first thought. "But it needn't
be. The men who worked in here are the ones the family can trust
absolutely, I suppose."

It gave Fred a certain thrill to feel himself in touch with such things,
to know that he belonged to such a family as the Suvaroffs, capable of
inspiring such devotion in its retainers--which, though Boris regarded
it as a matter of course, seemed a great thing to Fred, with his
American upbringing.

"What a piece of luck!" he reflected. "Imagine my stumbling on such a
splendid fellow as Boris! If it hadn't been for all this trouble, I
might never have known I had a cousin! And he's the sort of cousin I
call worth having! He amounts to something--and I don't believe he's as
old as I am. Well, I've got to show him that an American scout can keep
up his end! I'll try to play the game with him."

It made up for all the trouble he had had since he had first seen his
uncle. He was more puzzled than ever, after what Boris had told him, to
account for the behavior of Mikail Suvaroff.

"I'll bet there's some explanation," he said to himself. "I certainly
hope so! Seeing Boris makes me inclined to like these Russian relatives
a whole lot, and I'd like to think that Uncle Mikail could square
himself somehow. He's got a whole lot to make up for, of course."

Though he did feel that very strongly, he was able now to frame a
thought that had come to him more than once after he had become certain
that it was Prince Suvaroff who had caused his arrest. And that was
that Suvaroff had seemed far too big and important a man to do a small,
petty thing.

"He's got a wrong idea of me, some way," Fred decided. "He has heard
something, or made up his mind to something that isn't so. Well, I hope
I get back to Russia and stay out of jail long enough to find out what
was wrong. Perhaps this war will make a difference, especially if I'm
lucky enough to be able do something for 'Holy Russia'."

Fred moved along quietly while he was thinking of the extraordinary
sequence of events that had brought him to where he now was, flashing
his light on the arrows, and looking for the double mark that would show
him he had reached the spot of which Boris had told him. But when he got
there he had no need of any sign, for he could hear voices distinctly on
the other side of a very thin wall. Boris was speaking.

"I'm so sorry, Herr Hauptmann," Boris was saying, in faultless German.
"I did see some of the peasants chivying a fellow down below. And I did
go out, of course, in my car, to see if I could help him. I got him away
from them. But he didn't come all the way back. He wanted to go on, and
it's not just the time I should choose for entertaining guests. So I
didn't urge him to stay."

"I'm sorry to seem to doubt your word. In fact, Prince, I don't," said a
rumbling voice, that of the German captain Boris had been addressing, as
Fred could guess. "But was this person you rescued so--chivalrously--an
Englishman?"

"I really don't know, Herr Hauptmann. He might have been. Or an
American. One or the other, I should think."

"Clever Boris!" thought Fred. "He'll tell him some truth and some
fiction! He has got to deceive him, of course--that's war."

"I have reason, Prince, to think that he was an English spy," the
captain went on. "You will allow my men to make a search? And, by the
way, I shall be sorry to take away your servants, but my orders are to
arrest and send to detention camps every man of military age I find
here."

"I understand, captain. I am entirely in your hands, of course. I should
like to know if it will be possible for me to return soon to Russia?"

"You must go to higher officers than myself, Prince," said the captain.
"If it rested with me--! But, of course, it does not. If you see your
father soon, however, will you give him my compliments? And tell him
from me that I should esteem it an honor if we should meet in the
field?"

"Gladly, captain. It is a pity that such good friends and neighbors as
we have all been must be enemies, is it not? But it was not our doing."

Fred frowned a little.

"That sounds rather bad," he said to himself. "If this captain has lived
near here, he must know a good deal about the place. And, by George, if
they make a search they will find the wireless machinery that Ivan
brought in with him! It may be a mighty bad thing for this house and for
Russia that Boris saw me and brought me in, though it was certainly
lucky for me!"

But even then Fred did not guess the extent of the trouble he had really
caused. He listened intently, but for a time there was silence beyond
the wall. Then he heard a murmur of voices, and guessed that a report of
the search for him was being made. And then the captain's voice boomed
out.

"Prince," he said, "I must ask you to come with me and to consider
yourself under arrest. It is very painful but those are my orders.
Colonel Goldapp wishes to see you. I think it is only a form."

"What? You will take me away?" Fred caught the dismay in his cousin's
tone, and winced slightly. But then he understood that it was not fear
for himself that moved Boris, but anxiety lest the important plans of
which he was such an essential part should be spoiled. "But my
father--he thinks that I am safe here until he can make arrangements for
me to return to Russia."

"I am sorry." The German's tone, gruff though it was, was by no means
unkindly. "Orders, however--I have no choice. Doubtless you will be
allowed to return as soon as the colonel has seen you."

"Well, there is no use in arguing, of course," said Boris. He raised his
voice, and Fred understood that what followed was meant especially for
his ears. "Where will you take me, Herr Hauptmann?"

"Colonel Goldapp's quarters are at present in the parsonage near the
village. You will be examined there, Prince. We shall be there to-night,
at least, perhaps longer."

"I see. I will be ready in a few moments. Will you excuse me if I write
some instructions for Vladimir, who will be in charge after I go? You
may, of course, read what I write."

"Assuredly."

Then there was silence. The room outside was so quiet that Fred had a
chance to realize how perfectly the place in which he was hidden served
its purpose. He could hear the heavy breathing of someone near the
wall. Then a chair scraped along the floor, and in a moment he heard the
scratching of a pen. And then there came a new sound, a tapping, as with
two fingers. That was Boris, and quite suddenly Fred understood. Boris
was tapping out a message to him in telegraphic code.

"You must take charge here," Boris tapped with his fingers. "I will tell
Vladimir to get you as soon as it is safe. The parsonage where I will be
taken is very near the outlet of the secret passage. If Ivan returns,
tell him I am there, and that I will sing or whistle the song of the
Volga boatmen from time to time, so that he may know the window of my
room, if there is no guard in the room with me. Do not answer, for they
might hear."

"Good boy! He certainly has nerve!" said Fred to himself, admiringly.
"He doesn't know what's going to happen to him next, but he is certainly
doing all he can to make things come right."

Then there was a new confusion of noise outside. Fred heard Boris call
Vladimir and speak to the old servant in Russian. Then the German
officer gave Vladimir his instructions.

"This place will be left alone for the present," he said. "Prince
Alexander Suvaroff has been a good friend and neighbor, and, though he
is an enemy, we desire to respect his property as long as possible. But
neither you nor any who are left in the house with you must go out--this
for your own safety--except to get food and then go yourself."

Fred heard a general movement then, and guessed that they were going
out. Silence followed, and, after listening for a time, he decided upon
an exploration of the secret passage. A vague plan was taking form in
his mind already. It seemed to him that, as he was at liberty, he should
do anything that was in his power to free Boris. Until he knew more of
the lay of the land, he could not even make a real plan, but it was
possible, he thought, that something that was in his mind might easily
prove to be feasible.

It was easy, with his torch and the guiding arrows, to follow the
devious, winding course of the passage. He surmised that its ascents and
descents, which seemed arbitrary and unreasonable as he pursued them,
were due to other entrances than the one he knew. It would be necessary,
as he could understand, to have more than one means of getting in and
out of such a passage. And when he found himself at last going in a
straight path which sloped easily downward, he guessed that he was
beyond the house, and that he had come to a part of the passage that led
to the outer world.

Here there was a trace of dampness, but nothing like what might have
been expected in what was really a tunnel. Fred had to admire the
excellence of the construction work. The descent, as he knew from what
he had seen outside, must really be very sharp. But it was managed here
with turns and zigzags so that the grade was never very sharp.

Fred became suddenly conscious of a change in the air.

"I must be near the opening," he thought.

A couple of minutes proved that he was right. He now remembered that
Boris had not had time to tell him how the door or gate was operated.
But he decided not to go back at once, but to try to discover the secret
for himself. It had occurred to him that it was more than probable that
a sentry or two might be left in the house, and he had no mind to stay
in the passageway, helpless and useless, if Vladimir found it impossible
to let him out at once.

At the end of the passage he found a solid, seamless door. He decided at
once it must work on an axis of some sort and that it must be set in
motion by pressing a spring. And so, steadily and systematically, he
searched the whole door, until he struck the right spot at last. As the
door moved, he marked the spot with a tiny pencil mark. It swung
open--and he looked into the eyes of a startled German soldier, his
mouth wide open!



CHAPTER VII

A DARING RUSE


It would be hard to say which was more surprised--Fred or the soldier.
For just a moment they stood, both of them, perfectly still, staring at
one another with fallen jaws. And then Fred acted by pure instinct, and
without the semblance of a plan in his mind. He had played football in
school and on the team of his scout troop in America. And now he dived
for the astonished German's legs and brought him down with a flying
tackle. The heavy gun flew out of the soldier's hands, and, fortunately
for Fred, he fell so that his head struck the ground heavily. He was
stunned and, for the moment at least, safe and out of commission.

There was time, therefore, for Fred to see how the ground lay. He found
that he was in a slight hollow, sandy in the bottom, where he stood and
the soldier lay. He imagined that at certain times this hollow might be
filled with water, for the sand had that appearance, and, moreover,
there was a gully, evidently washed out by water, leading down into the
pit.

"Wonder how long he's good for?" speculated Fred, looking at the
soldier. "A few minutes, anyhow. He got quite a bump!"

He satisfied himself in a moment that the soldier was not badly hurt. He
was a ridiculous figure as he lay there sprawled out. His breathing was
heavy; it sounded almost like heavy snoring. He was very young, scarcely
more than a boy himself. His uniform was entirely new, as was his
equipment. He was very slight too, and his face was typical of a certain
sort of German. He looked, Fred thought, like a bird. It was a queer
idea, and he laughed as it came to him, but it did describe this German
absolutely.

"I'll risk it," Fred decided. He hesitated about the door. Perhaps he
ought to close it. But if he did, he couldn't open it again from this
side for that was a secret he hadn't learned. And, after all, the only
danger was that the soldier might come to his senses and go in--and if
he did that, Fred could follow him. So taking the rifle, he crawled
along the gully the rain had washed out, moving very cautiously. As he
neared the top, he lifted his head and saw, not more than fifty yards
away, a grey stone house, simple and unassuming. A flag pole had been
put up in front of this house, and a German flag drooped from it.
Soldiers were all about the place, and two automobiles stood before the
door. Motorcycles were lying on the ground. While Fred watched, two men
rode up on the snorting, crackling little machines and hurried into the
house.

This was undoubtedly the parsonage, now being used as the headquarters
of Colonel Goldapp. Fred's heart sank as he surveyed the place. It
seemed to him that there wasn't much chance that he could rescue Boris.
There were too many Germans about. Even though there was no reason for
the staff to anticipate an attack, he could guess that the place would
be well guarded. And yet he was here because he hoped that he would be
able, after seeing the parsonage, to devise some plan of getting Boris
away.

However, that was something to be attempted later, if at all. His chief
concern now was for the soldier he had thrown. And now he made his way
back, and found to his dismay that the man was beginning to recover his
senses. As Fred came back he stretched, yawned, and sat up, with the
most ludicrous mixture of fright and wonder in his eyes. Fred had his
gun, and at the sight of that the soldier spoke indignantly.

"Give me back my gun!" he said, testily. "It is against the rules for
anyone to touch my gun. If you let the corporal catch you with that,
there'll be trouble. I promise you!"

Fred had hard work to control his features. He wondered if the man was
really a little simple-minded, or if the effects of his fall still
confused him. He finally decided that both theories were right. For a
moment he hesitated, wondering what to do. He wanted to get back into
the passageway, and he did not want the German to see him doing it. As
he thought, he studied the entrance attentively. And he was startled
suddenly to find that he could not see it! Had something happened? Had
the door closed automatically? If that were so, he was in a nice fix,
and he would soon join Boris as a prisoner.

But then he realized that the seeming disappearance of the opening was
simply the result of clever screening, by means of bushes. It had
deceived him for the moment. He saw that the door was so contrived that
anyone emerging from it would seem to anyone even a few feet away, to be
simply coming out from behind a bush. And then he got his great idea, an
idea that made him turn his head, so that the soldier would not see the
grin he could not suppress.

"Here, give me that gun!" said the soldier, again. He was more impatient
than before, and his tone was one of anger. He struggled to his feet,
too, and stood, swaying uncertainly, still weak and very dizzy as the
result of his fall.

"Beware!"

The word came in a sepulchral, heavy voice from directly behind the
soldier. He swung around, greatly puzzled.

"Who's there?" he called, sharply.

"I am everywhere!" said the same voice.

But now it came from the very ground at his feet.

And then the voice spoke, swinging around, as the soldier turned, like a
dancing dervish, trying always to face the voice, only to have it come
from some new quarter.

"Attend carefully to what I say!" said the mysterious voice. "You have
risked death by coming to this spot! But I am merciful, and I wish to
preserve all soldiers who fight for their fatherland! I am the spirit of
this place! I command you to go! Go up the gully. Stand with your back
turned to this place and count one hundred. Then, and only then, you may
return. Your gun will be here, and you may then go in peace. This ground
is sacred to me. On your life, when you have regained your gun, go! Do
not look back! Do not hesitate! And, above all, tell no one what you
have seen! I have spoken!"

The soldier was trembling now in every limb. He looked hard at Fred, as
if he suspected that he might have something to do with this mysterious,
awesome voice. But Fred's lips had never moved. Fred, at home, had often
amused the guests of his family and the gatherings of the scout patrol
to which he belonged with this trick of ventriloquism. But the German
evidently had never heard of such a thing. And suddenly he broke into a
run. He made for the gully and ran along it with stumbling feet.

"Now stop!" boomed the voice--directly in front of him! "Not a step
further! Begin to count aloud. But do not shout!"

"Ein, zwei, drei, vier--" began the German, obediently.

And Fred, half choking with suppressed laughter, slipped behind the
screened entrance of the secret passageway, while the soldier's back
was still turned. He did not quite close the door, but waited to make
sure that the German's curiosity did not get the better of his fright,
which had certainly been real enough. But it was all right. The man
counted right up to a hundred, and once or twice, to Fred's huge
amusement, when he stammered, and lost track of his numbers, he went
back and counted several of them over again! But he finished at last,
and Fred heard him come stumbling down the gully. He seemed to hesitate
then.

"May I really go now?" he asked. "I did not know there was a spirit
here, or I would not have come."

"Yes. Go, and quickly!" said Fred, throwing his voice out so it came
from far above the soldier.

He heard the soldier running then, and in a moment closed the door
behind him, and began retracing his steps along the secret tunnel.

"Gee! That was a close call!" he said to himself. "Serves me good and
right, too, for doing more than I was told! I might have spoiled
everything by not waiting until I knew more about the place. If that
soldier hadn't been ready to see a ghost in anything he didn't have some
reason to expect to meet, I'd be in a lot of trouble now. And yet I'll
bet he's brave enough, too. If he had an enemy he could see and touch,
he'd fight all right."

But Fred had more to think about now than what had happened, or what
might have happened, either. He was more interested in what was to come
next. He went along, flashing his torch. There was no sound at the thin
wall, where he stopped, when he reached it, to listen for the sound of
voices in the great hall. That encouraged him. He decided that if any
soldiers had been left on guard in the place, they would have been in
there. And when he came near to the panel by which he had entered, when
he let his torch wink out he saw that there was a light ahead of him.

For a moment he caught his breath, wondering if some enemy had
discovered the secret, and was waiting to pounce on him. But he went on,
because he decided that if anyone were waiting they must know already
that he was in the tunnel. And in a moment he came face to face with old
Vladimir.

"The coast is clear, excellency," said the old Russian. "All the Germans
have gone--a curse upon them! My master has told me to treat you as if
you stood in his place until he returns. I have the things that Ivan
brought. Is it your pleasure that I should deliver them to you?"

Fred was puzzled for a moment. Then he remembered the wireless.

"Oh, yes, by all means!" he said. "And show me the room where the
wireless is. You know all about that, Vladimir?"

"I know where it is. I do not understand such devil's work, but I am an
old man, and stupid."

Fred laughed.

"Perhaps it's devil's work, but if we have any luck it will be pretty
useful to us," he said. "Come on, if it's safe for me to come out.
There's a lot for me to do."

Vladimir led the way to the top of the house. On the roof, like a
pent-house, there was a little room or cupola, and in this was a
partially dismantled wireless installation. Fred was left there alone
while Vladimir went off to get the things that Ivan had given to him for
safekeeping, and he studied the installation closely. It was different
from any that he had ever seen, but its leading principle, of course,
was familiar to him. At first it surprised him to find that it was
supplied with power by weak batteries, which the Germans had ruined.

"You couldn't send more than twenty miles with those batteries!" he said
to himself.

But when Vladimir returned that was explained. For he removed a picture
that hung on the wall and disclosed a number of wires.

"I do not understand," he said. "But my master and Ivan have told me
that those wires that you see run down to a place far below the cellar,
where there is a great engine that moves when petrol is put into it--"

"Oh, I see, a dynamo run by a Diesel engine, probably!" said Fred,
suddenly enlightened. "That's a fine idea! They can develop power
without steam! Costs a lot--but it's worth it, of course! I'll just try
that out!"

Quickly he connected up the wires, tried out his key, after replacing
the parts that had been taken away, and in a moment got a powerful
spark.

"That's great!" he said, to himself, ignoring old Vladimir, who watched
him in fascinated wonder. "I can send a long distance with that spark!"

Then he pounced on something he had overlooked before,--a little book
bound in black leather. As he opened it, he gave an exclamation of joy.
It was a code book, as he saw at once, and on the inside of the cover
was a list of wireless stations, with their calls. There was one at
Virballen, he saw, and a dozen other places just over the border, and
running quite a distance into Russian territory, including one at
Augustowo, were named.

"Ivan told me to guard that book as if it were my life," said Vladimir.
"He said to put it in a safe place, and to destroy it if the Germans
found it, even if they killed me for doing it."

"He was right," said Fred, soberly. "If the Germans got that book, it
would be as valuable to them as a whole army, Vladimir."

"It is very strange," said the old man. "I do not understand, but I am
old and stupid, and it is not for me to question my betters."

Fred sat down and studied the code for a few moments. More than ever he
was glad now that his mother had always insisted that he must be able to
read and speak her Russian tongue. He would have to send in Morse,
instead of in the somewhat simpler Continental code, but that, he
thought, would make little difference. Some operator would be certain to
understand his sending.

And now he sat down and began calling Suwalki. He would have liked to
call Virballen, which was nearer, but he was not sure that the Russians
were still in possession of their station there, since he remembered
that the Germans had had the superior force there on the Saturday night
when the war broke out--a night that seemed to lie a century in the past
now!

For a long minute he hammered out his call. And then through the air,
over miles of hostile country, came a welcome whisper in his ear--the
whisper of the answering call from Suwalki! He was in touch with Russia!



CHAPTER VIII

WITHIN THE ENEMY'S LINES


For many reasons Fred did not want to hold a long talk with the Suwalki
operator. German wireless stations were undoubtedly at work in the
surrounding country, and, though there was no great danger that his
messages might be intercepted and read, it was not advisable, of course,
to let the Germans, who were sure to be watchful, know that there was a
private Russian station somewhere within German limits. The instruments
here were tuned to a certain wave length, and he guessed that this was
standard for all Russian military stations, and different from that of
the Germans. But when he held his circuit to listen he got whisperings
that sounded almost like static electricity. It was evident that a good
many stations were sending, and that the air all about was full of the
waves.

So he contented himself with a brief and direct report of what had
happened, explaining why Boris was not himself present to make this
report. He asked for information as to the movements of the Russian
army, but got no satisfaction.

"We don't know ourselves," said the Suwalki operator. "Things are moving
very fast, but absolutely no news is being given out. I know that our
cavalry--Cossacks, chiefly--have crossed the border at half a dozen
different points. The Germans and the Austrians have invaded Poland, and
our troops have all been withdrawn from that region. The concentration
there is going on at Brest-Litovsky, and behind the line of Warsaw-Novo
Georgevsk. But here there are a good many troops. There may be Cossacks
within a few miles of you. They are raiding. Here it is said that our
first move will be to try to cut the German railways."

That was all he could find out. He arranged for word of Boris's seizure
to be sent to his father, and then closed his circuit and went below, in
search of old Vladimir.

By now it was afternoon, and Fred began to think that if Boris had been
coming back that day he would have arrived already. Plainly, it seemed
to him, Colonel Goldapp must have decided to retain him as a prisoner.
He wanted to get down near the parsonage again, but he was afraid to
venture out by the secret passage. He didn't know how thoroughly he had
frightened the soldier who had so nearly caught him. If the man had
recovered his wits and decided that it was no ghost, but a very
substantial and real person who had bowled him over, there would
doubtless be a guard in the hollow, by the outer entrance of the tunnel.
And, in any case, it was too risky to seek egress by that means again in
broad daylight.

"Vladimir," he said, when he found the old servant, "I want you to make
me look like a German, if you can. Disguise me, so that I may go down
toward the village safely. Is it possible?"

Vladimir studied him for a moment.

"I think so," he said. "There are plenty of clothes here, and there is
a man who has often helped when there were to be private theatricals."

The transformation was soon completed, and when he looked at himself in
a glass Fred had to laugh. His clothes were those of a Prussian peasant,
and a few very slight changes in his appearance had been made by the man
to whom Vladimir had spoken. They worked wonders, and Fred decided that
he could go anywhere in Prussia now with impunity.

"Is it safe for you to leave the house?" he asked Vladimir.

"Yes, for they think that I am harmless," said the old man.

"I wish to know how to open the door of the tunnel from the outside,"
said Fred. "But I think it would be unsafe to go there directly. It will
be better for you to start out and get there as if you had gone by
chance. It is near the parsonage where my cousin is, and if anyone
questions you, you could say, I should think, that you wanted to be near
your master."

"Yes," said Vladimir. "That would be safe."

"Then do you go there and stay, unless they drive you away. I will go
there, too, if I can, and if the coast is clear and no one is watching,
you can show me. Unless, indeed, you can tell me now?"

"It will be better for me to show you," said Vladimir. "The looks of the
outside change constantly. A storm will destroy a bush, or some other
landmark there, and, though I could touch the proper spot in the
darkness myself, I would find it hard to describe it to you. I will
start at once?"

"Yes. And I will come to you, if it is safe, as soon as I can. I should
not be more than ten minutes behind you in reaching the hollow."

Nothing about the whole adventure upon which he had embarked so
strangely, and with so little intention on his own part, impressed Fred
more than the unquestioning obedience old Vladimir yielded to him. More
than ever before, he realized that the Suvaroffs must indeed be as great
a family as his mother had declared. Though she had become a true
American, Mrs. Waring had never ceased to love the land of her birth,
and she had always tried to impress Fred with her own feeling for the
great house to which she had belonged.

"Such families as the Suvaroffs can do much harm to themselves and to
others," she had said. "But they can also be of great service to those
of their blood, to those who are dependent upon them, and to their
country."

The truth of this was constantly being impressed anew upon Fred at this
time. He was struck especially by the difference between the way that
the people of this house treated Boris and himself, and the attitude
that had been noticeable in those who had served his uncle, Mikail
Suvaroff. Mikail was decidedly a greater figure than Boris's father. Yet
it was not devotion that he seemed to inspire. He won obedience, not
because his people were devoted to him, but because he had filled them
with fear, and because they knew the consequences that would certainly
follow if he were displeased in any way.

It was still light when Fred left the house. He went out by a side
entrance, reaching the road from the garden. Vladimir had gone down the
hill before him. It was understood that he would manufacture some errand
as an excuse for his appearance in the village. A number of the people
of the village were in the road near the great house; they stared at it
curiously, and with hostile murmurs. They paid no attention to Fred,
however, and this convinced him that his disguise was good. He passed
near them, and he breathed more freely when he had gone by.

At the foot of the hill he turned away from the village. Here he
remembered something that both amused and annoyed him. He had not asked
just where the parsonage was. He knew its location with reference to the
outer portal of the tunnel, to be sure, but he had come to that
underground. However, he remembered where the sun had been when he had
emerged into the open air before, and, after some profitless scouting
about, a passing motorcycle set him on the right track. It set him
thinking, too.

"There are an awful lot of these fellows with dispatches running about,"
he said to himself. "It seems to me that this place is more than a
colonel's headquarters. A colonel has just one regiment under him, and
he certainly wouldn't need so many riders to carry his orders
about--unless he were in command of a detached fort or position, and
Colonel Goldapp isn't. I guess he's there, right enough, but I've an
idea there's someone more important, as well. It might be worth while to
find out just what is going on around here."

But that could wait. For the moment his task was to meet Vladimir and
then to spy out the parsonage. Meeting Vladimir proved easier than he
had hoped. He followed the trail of the man on the motorcycle until he
was within sight of the grey stone parsonage, and then had his bearings
exactly. He approached the hollow cautiously, but no one was around.
The ground was fairly soft; there had been rain within the last three or
four days. And so, as he approached the spot of his encounter with the
superstitious soldier, Fred was able to tell that no visitation had been
made to the hollow. He marked the footsteps of the soldier; the man had
evidently run from the place.

Looking around cautiously, he saw that everything was clear, and dropped
down on hands and knees as he reached the gully. Vladimir was waiting,
and in less than a minute explained the secret of the door.

"All right," said Fred. "Now you get back to the house, and either be
near the entrance to the passage yourself, or keep someone stationed
there. I don't know what's going to happen, so I can't tell you, but I
think that maybe I shall get Boris away from the parsonage."

Vladimir's eyes gleamed.

"I am an old man," he said, "and I fear that I am useless. But if I can
help to rescue him--"

"If you can help, I'll let you know," said Fred. "But I don't know yet
even how I shall set about it. And I think it's more important for
someone we can trust absolutely to be in the house. There may be nothing
for you to do there, and yet, if anything does come up, you will be
needed there very quickly. Shall you go back through the tunnel?"

"No. They may have watched me as I came out, and it will be better for
them to see me return. No one suspects the tunnel yet, but some of these
Germans are clever."

"Right! Well, I know how to get into it now from this end, and that may
help a lot. But I hope that when I use it again Boris will be with me."

He let old Vladimir go out first. Then, after waiting for several
minutes, he went up the gully in his turn, and set out boldly and with
no attempt to hide his movements, for the parsonage.

There was even more activity there now than there had been when he had
first set eyes upon it. There were more automobiles; four of them
altogether. At the wheel of each sat a soldier driver in grey uniform,
and with a cloth covered helmet. Each car was of the same type, a long
rakish grey body, low to the ground. As he neared the house an officer
wearing a long, grey coat came out, accompanied by two or three younger
men. He turned to speak to them, then got into one of the cars, which
immediately drove off. As it went a peculiar call was sounded, more like
a trumpet than an automobile horn. Fred guessed then what he afterward
learned to be a fact; that the automobiles used by the German staff
officers on active service had horns that indicated the rank of the
officer using them.

It seemed to Fred that there were more officers than soldiers about.
There seemed to be only enough soldiers to provide a guard. Sentries
were all about, but there were officers almost in swarms. He walked
along, indifferently rather than boldly, and he was sharply challenged
when he drew fairly near to the house.

"You can't go any further, youngster," said the soldier. "The staff has
taken this house."

Fred stared at him rather stupidly, but turned away. Then he was called
back suddenly, and for a moment his heart was in his mouth at the
thought that his disguise had been penetrated and that he was about to
be made a prisoner. Like Boris, he was concerned only with the effect of
this upon his plans. He did not think of his own safety, although, had
he been caught, he might have expected the fate of a spy, since he was
in disguise within the German lines. It proved, however, that he was not
to be arrested. A young captain was eyeing him sharply.

"Come with me, boy," he said. "We are short of servants in the house
here. You will do."

For a moment he was indignant, but then his heart leaped happily. If he
was taken into the house as a servant, he could find out all and more
than he had hoped, and that without risk.



CHAPTER IX

"THERES MANY A SLIP--"


Once inside the house, Fred found a scene of orderly confusion. That is,
it looked like confusion to him, but he could see that, for all the
bustling and the hurrying that went on, everyone knew just what his part
in the work was. Telephone bells were ringing all the time, and Fred
noticed now that wires entered the house through the dining-room window.
Evidently a field telephone system had been installed and connected this
house with a whole region, of which, in a military way, it seemed to be
the brain. Then Fred heard a voice that he recognized at once, and
started at the sound, until he placed it as that of the captain who had
taken Boris away, and remembered that the captain had not seen him, even
before he was disguised.

Fred's work, he soon found, was simplicity itself. He was to do the
bidding of any officer. He was sent on errands, from one part of the
house to another; often he carried written messages, handed to him by
staff officers, to the room in which three telegraph operators were hard
at work. Generally speaking, he was there to do odd jobs and make
himself generally useful. Luckily, he was taken for granted. Everyone
seemed assured that he was one of the village boys, pressed into service
because he happened to be the first one to come along.

But for the first hour or so it was impossible for him to make any
attempt to discover if Boris was still in the house. He was too busy,
and he dared not spoil his opportunity to learn something really worth
while by seeming to spy about. He was rewarded before long for his
patience, for just as he was beginning to despair, an officer spied him
in a moment when he was not actively engaged upon some errand.

"Here, boy," called the officer, "take this tray!"

Fred took a tray from a soldier who was holding it awkwardly.

"Take it upstairs to the room on the third floor where a sentry is on
guard. He will let you in. When the prisoner there has finished his
meal, return with the tray to the kitchen. Do not let any knife or fork
or spoon stay in the room when you go. So you will make yourself really
useful and release a man who can do things for which you are too young."

It seemed to Fred, as he started upstairs with his tray, that this luck
was almost too good to be true. He scarcely dared to hope for what had
seemed to him the inevitable explanation of his errand. But when the
sentry opened the door of the locked room, and he looked in, he saw
Boris sitting dejectedly on the side of a bed. It was all he could do to
suppress a cry of delight, but he managed it, and he was hugely tickled
as he saw Boris's indifferent glance at him. His disguise must be good,
or Boris would have known him. He put the tray down, and then walked to
the window. He looked down first, and then up. Then with a grin, he
turned to his cousin.

"Not a word," he said, quickly. "Do you know me?"

Boris stared; then a smile broke out all over his face. There was no
need for him to put his answer into words. Fred came very close.

"Speak low, but do not whisper," he said. "Tell me, what have they done
to you?"

"Nothing. Colonel Goldapp has been too busy to see me."

"I don't wonder! Boris, this is no colonel's headquarters. It is more
like that of an army corps. And there is at least one general here. His
name is von Hindenburg."

"Von Hindenburg? He is commander-in-chief in East Prussia! If he is
here, there must be a German concentration in this region! They did not
expect that! Oh, I must get out and get the news back--"

"Yes. The wireless is working. I talked this afternoon to Suwalki."

And in a few words he told Boris the essential facts of what had
happened since the raid upon the great house on the hill on that
morning.

"How often do they come in here?" he asked.

"Only when my meals are brought to me. There will be no one else now
to-night, I think, unless Colonel Goldapp sends for me. They are very
polite. I think I shall be alone most of the time. They have no idea
that I will try to get away, because they think I know they have so many
sentries and patrols about that it would be useless for me to try to do
it."

"Listen, then, Boris. I will go now. I think they will let me go now. I
have been working hard for them about the house. But I will come back
later. Stay near your window, so that I can see a handkerchief if you
hold it. Then I will throw up a stone with a string tied about, and you
can draw up a rope and slip down. If this general is so important we
ought to let them know. I will send the word by wireless and then come
back."

"Good! It is risky for you. They wouldn't spare you if they caught you
trying to help me to get away. But if you can manage it at all, have
clothes like the ones you wear ready for me, in a bundle. Vladimir will
get them for you."

Fred nodded, and was off at once. He was detained a little time when he
went down with the tray, but he pleaded finally with a kindly looking
officer, telling him that he was very tired, and had not expected to
stay away from home so long, and was allowed to go. He went to the
opening of the tunnel, found that the place was unguarded, and decided
from the general appearance of the hollow that it was not visited by
soldiers. Indeed, it was within the outer line of sentries, and, in a
way, safer because of that. Had it been beyond that line, it would have
been much harder to reach.

The operator at Suwalki, when he called him by wireless, complained
bitterly, saying that he had been trying for hours to get an answer.
Boris's father had been heard from and was extremely anxious to get into
touch with his son. But it seemed the news that Fred sent made up for
this. The man at Suwalki was incredulous.

"Our information is that General von Hindenburg is many miles from
where you are," he flashed back. "Are you sure of your facts?"

"Absolutely sure," Fred answered. "Do you want the exact location of the
house used as headquarters? I can describe it for you if you have the
village shown on your map."

"Yes. Give it to me," came the answer.

Before he finished his wireless talk, Fred felt that the Russian
operator did not fully trust him. Nor did he blame him. He knew the
excellence of the German spy system; he had heard a good deal about it
from Boris, and, for that matter, before he had even seen Boris at all.
So he only laughed, though he hoped that this feeling would not prevent
the Russians from using the information he had given. He could not see
just how it was to be useful to them, however. Possibly the fact that
von Hindenburg was here, and not to the south, was the important thing.

By this time it was growing dark, and Fred decided that it would soon be
safe to try to throw the cord up to Boris's window--as safe, at least,
as it would ever be. He got a bundle of clothes from Vladimir, and this
time he determined to travel through the tunnel, since he knew that if
he went by the outside route he would have trouble in getting through
the sentries. Luck was with him again. He was nervous as he opened the
door and came out into the night, but there was no one about. At a
little distance he could hear steady footsteps; evidently a sentry was
walking his beat near by. But Fred's scout training had taught him how
to move quietly and he slipped through the gully and toward the house
without raising an alarm.

Once he was on the right side of the house, he found shelter in a clump
of bushes, where, unseen himself, he could study the situation. His
first thought was of the house. He soon found the window of Boris's
room. Immediately below it were the windows of corresponding rooms, and
one of these was lighted. This made him pause at once. For the rope to
be drawn up, or for Boris to show himself before that lighted window
for even the moment of a swift descent, might well be fatal. That was
one point, but he speedily devised a way of overcoming that.

There was another danger to be considered, and it took him longer to
calculate this. Naturally there was a patrol about the house. Fred
himself had had to avoid the sentry, making his steady round. Now he lay
in the bushes and timed the man's appearances for nearly half an hour.
There were two men, as a matter of fact, and they met on each circling
of the house. Fortunately, their meeting came at the very end of the
garden. So Fred was able to work out a sort of mental chart of their
movements, and to confirm it by timing them. The two sentries met on his
side of the house at the eastern end. The first walked west, the second
north. The one who walked west had his back to Fred and to the window
where Boris waited for a minute. Then he, too, turned north. Then came a
blessed interval of just a minute, in which neither sentry was in sight.
Altogether, there was a period of almost two minutes in which no eye
would be fixed on Boris's window, unless the sentry chanced to turn and
look back.

To make sure, Fred studied both men. And not once did either of them
look back or up. Their attention did not seem to centre on the house at
all. It was as if their instructions were more to prevent a surprise
attack from outside, or the coming of some spy, than to watch those who
were already in the house.

Once he had made up his mind, Fred buried himself deeper in the
shrubbery and risked using his pocket flashlight while he wrote a note
to Boris, telling him what he had learned of the movements of the
sentries. He told Boris, also, not to draw up the rope at once, but to
climb from his window to the flat roof, something easy enough to manage,
and then to move along five paces. There the rope, when it was drawn up,
would be invisible against the grey stone of the house wall, whereas,
against a lighted window, it would show up so plainly that the most
stupid sentry would be sure to see it.

Fred had substituted a tennis ball for the stone he had originally
intended to throw. The ball had many advantages. In case his aim was
bad, the ball would not make a noise if it fell or if it struck against
the wall, while the sound of a stone would have betrayed them had he
failed to put it through the window. Now he tied his note to the ball,
making it firm and secure with the end of a ball of twine. About his
body he had coiled a long, very thin, very strong rope. After Boris had
the end of the cord he would fasten the rope to his end, and so enable
Boris to draw it up. And to guard against losing the end of the cord, he
tied it to his own left wrist.

He waited for the sentries to meet; gave the one who stayed on his side
a start, and then, taking careful aim, threw his ball. At home Fred had
played baseball. More than once a game had depended on the accuracy of
his toss of a hot grounder to the first baseman. In basketball games, he
had stood, with the score tied, to shoot for the basket on a foul, when
the outcome was to be settled by the accuracy of his throw. But never
had he been as nervous as he was now. The ball flew straight and true,
however. He saw it enter the window. And the next moment a tug on his
wrist told him that Boris had it.

He waited breathlessly. Then two short pulls signalled that Boris had
read his note and would follow his instructions. He gave three sharp
tugs, and then settled down to wait, with beating heart, for now the
crucial test was coming. The other sentry was about to appear. If he
noticed the thin string, by any chance, the whole scheme would be
spoiled and Fred, in all probability, would be caught and treated as a
spy.

The man came around the corner of the house, walking slowly, his head
down. As he neared the twine he stopped for just a moment and looked up.
Fred scarcely dared to breathe. He knew what had happened. The twine had
brushed against the sentry's cheek. But then a puff of wind carried it
away, and the man went on, brushing at his cheek, thinking, perhaps, a
moth had touched it.

One sharp tug of the twine. That was the signal to Boris to go ahead.
His eyes strained on the window, Fred saw his cousin's figure appear on
the sill, saw him climbing swiftly up a water pipe, and then saw him
drop to the flat roof, hidden for the moment by a low parapet. Then
there was another period of agonized waiting, for again a sentry was to
pass. Fred used the brief interval of enforced inaction to loosen the
rope and place it on the ground, tied to the loose end of the twine he
took from his wrist, so that it would have a clear passage through the
bushes. Then the coast was clear again, and he signalled to Boris to
draw it up. Up, up went the twine; then the rope started. And at last it
dangled against the side of the house. Fred, knowing it was there, could
scarcely see it himself. He decided that the sentries would never notice
it.

Then came the last pause. And when the sentry had passed the rope, Boris
slipped over the parapet and started his descent. He had to come quickly
for he had less than two minutes to reach the ground and join Fred in
his shelter. Down he came, hand over hand, so fast at the end, when he
just slid, letting the rope slip through his fingers, that he must have
burned the skin from his palms. But he made it, and came running toward
Fred. He was crouched low against the ground. But, just before he
reached the bushes there was a shout from above, a flash, a loud report.
A bullet sang over Fred's head, and the next moment the garden was alive
with rushing, shouting men, ablaze with flashing points of electric
light. They tried to hide in the shrubbery. But in vain. At this last
moment, when Fred's plan had seemed sure of success, disaster had
come--for some German officer, going on the roof, had been just in time
to see the rope and spoil everything with his chance shot!



CHAPTER X

SENTENCED


Both Fred and Boris recognized at once the hopelessness of flight. Both
thought instinctively of the hollow and the concealed entrance to the
tunnel, and both knew that to attempt to use that now would not save
them, and would give away a secret that might be supremely important at
some future time, either to them or to someone else among those who
shared the precious secret. The grounds were flashing with light in all
directions; soldiers called to one another; men ran all around, looking
for them.

And yet, hopelessly caught as they were, neither could give up supinely.
Both had the dauntless fighting spirit that must be conquered, that will
never give up, not only while hope remains, but while disaster, be it
ever so certain, has not actually come to pass. They were in a sort of
thicket, almost as thick as a primeval jungle. At the same moment the
thought seemed to come to each of them that the one chance for momentary
safety lay in keeping perfectly still. They were side by side, wedged in
a little opening they had made for themselves, and now they went down
together.

All about them the din of the pursuit continued. Officers were pouring
out of the house to join the hunt. Shouts and cries resounded. Fred had
to smile to himself. It seemed to him that the boasted system and order
of the German army could not be what he had always heard about it if the
escape of two boys could produce such a disorganization.

And then there was a sudden diversion. The noise seemed to die away. It
did not cease for there was still a good deal of talking, but there was
no more shouting, until there was a sudden whirring sound.

"An aeroplane!" whispered Boris. "I've seen them for the last few days,
flying in all directions. They use them for scouting."

"I knew I ought to recognize that sound!" said Fred.

It seemed fairly safe for them to speak to one another now. For some
reason it was quite evident they had been forgotten.

There was an interval of almost complete silence; then came a sudden
explosion of orders. Half a dozen motorcycles sprang into crackling
life; there was the unmistakable din of a powerful aeroplane engine,
which, with no muffler, is noisy enough to wake the dead. Then came the
whirring of its propeller. They were sure that if they only dared to
raise their heads, they would see the machine rising near by.

But there was more to follow that was just as inexplicable. The
motorcycles chugged away; then three automobiles started. Their engines
roared for a moment before they subsided to the ordered, steady hum of a
smooth running motor. On the first car that got away there was a horn
that made Boris start convulsively as he heard its bugle note, and grasp
Fred's shoulder.

"That horn belongs only to a car used by a full general!" he said. "It
must be von Hindenburg going, Fred! That flying machine brought
important news!"

That had been evident to Fred almost from the first. He wondered
mightily what was going to happen next. It seemed incredible that the
Germans, knowing that he and Boris must soon be found, and that only
patience was necessary if they were to be caught, would so quickly give
up looking for them. And yet--Boris was right, of course. A general
would not depart with such abundant evidence of haste and sudden
decision unless some grave news had come through the air.

One question was soon settled. Scarcely had General von Hindenburg's car
started, with the musical call of its horn clearing the way for it, when
the search for the two scouts was renewed with as much vigor as had been
shown before the coming of the aeroplane. And this time it was speedily
successful. There was less din and confusion. Fred saw at once that some
officer with a cool and level head had taken charge. The searchers now
did the simple, obvious thing. They divided the grounds up into
sections, and beat over each section thoroughly, with the result that a
corporal and a private speedily came upon Boris and Fred, and, raising a
sort of view halloo, dragged them out into the open, flashing their
electric torches in their eyes.

"Here they are!" cried the corporal. "Herr Hauptmann, here they are!"

A captain came up quickly, and at the sight of Fred exclaimed sharply in
his surprise.

"You're the boy I chose to help with the work in the house here!" he
said. His face darkened. "He is a spy! Take him into the guard room and
lock him up." He barely glanced at Boris. "Yes, that is the other. See
that he is taken back to his quarters, corporal, and that a sentry
remains constantly on guard."

"He is not a spy! If he is one, then so am I!" Boris broke out in a
sharp protest. "He must be treated exactly like myself, or I must be
used as he is!" throwing caution to the four winds.

"I am giving the orders here," said the German, coldly. "We have no
desire to treat you harshly, Prince. You and your father have won the
liking and respect of all your neighbors here, and it is a matter of
regret that we must detain you at all. But you must be able to see for
yourself that there is a great difference between an open enemy like
yourself and one who pushes his way among us to get what information he
can--"

"I beg your pardon, captain," Fred interrupted, thoroughly awake by this
time to the danger in which he stood. "It was by your orders, and
against my own protest, that I came into the house here at all."

"You will have an opportunity to explain all such matters at your
trial," said the captain. "I can assure you that all will be done in a
regular fashion, and that you will have every opportunity to defend
yourself. Colonel Goldapp will doubtless arrange for a quick hearing
since we shall not be here much longer."

Fred was quite cool and collected. He was frightened, to be sure, and
he was brave enough to admit that to himself. He had good reason to be
frightened. There is no offence more serious than espionage in time of
war, and by every rule of war he was a spy. He had pretended to be a
German, which he was not, and had been found within the German lines. It
was true, of course, that he had been ordered into headquarters, but
that was a trifling point, and, though he had raised it, Fred knew very
well that no technicality would save him if the truth about him came
out.

Boris understood all this, undoubtedly, quite as well as Fred or the
German captain, but he was beside himself. He felt that Fred had run
into this terrible danger because of him, in order to try to rescue him
from an imprisonment that, though annoying, was by no means a serious
matter.

"Take me instead of him!" he cried, forgetting that with every word he
was really making Fred's case worse. "I--"

"I'll be all right," said Fred, with a cheerfulness he certainly did
not feel. "All I want is a fair trial. If I get that, I'll be all
right."

Unwillingly enough, Boris let himself be led away. Something in Fred's
look, or in his voice, had warned him not to say anything more. So Fred
saw him go, and was taken himself to the guard room, of which he was the
only occupant save for the impassive Pomeranian sentry. Fred guessed,
somehow, that German soldiers in war time did not often do things that
caused them to be put under arrest. In the little he had seen of them he
had come to understand what it was that made a German army so
formidable.

He expected to be brought before the court early in the morning but, in
fact, he was called out in less than an hour, and taken into the
dining-room of the parsonage. Here, at the head of the table, sat an
officer in a colonel's uniform; Colonel Goldapp, unquestionably,
presiding over the court, which included four officers beside himself.
Fred knew enough of the military law to understand what was going on.
He saw a young lieutenant sitting with some papers before him. Another
came and drew him aside.

"I am to defend you," this officer said, pleasantly. "That is, of
course, I am to see that you get fair treatment. You are accused of
being a spy. The charge, as I understand it, is that you are a Russian,
but have disguised yourself as a German. If this is true, the best
advice I can give you is to plead guilty and throw yourself on the mercy
of the court. Your age will be taken into consideration."

"I am not a Russian," said Fred, quickly. "I am an American. I demand an
opportunity to see the American ambassador, or at least the nearest
American consul."

"Is that all?"

"That is all I can say. It is true that I am an American, and I believe
it is my right, as a foreigner, to ask to see the representative of my
country, since America and Germany are not at war, but are friendly one
to the other."

"That would be true if you were charged with an offence in a civil
court. But in a court-martial there are no such rules. Once more, I
believe your best course is to plead guilty. I do not know the evidence
against you, but I can tell you that the court might be merciful if you
admitted your guilt frankly, while it would probably treat you more
harshly if you forced it to prove your guilt."

Fred shook his head, however. And so the trial began. It was a real
trial, and fair enough, but a trial by court-martial is not like one in
a civil court, especially in time of war. There were no delays. The
judge-advocate stated the case against Fred very briefly. He called as
witness the officer who had brought Fred into headquarters, who said
that the prisoner had been entirely willing to come. Then the corporal
who had found him testified. And the third witness, when he was called,
was none other than Lieutenant Ernst, who had befriended Fred at
Virballen! At the sight of him Fred's heart sank. He began to
understand what a strong case there really was against him.

At Ernst's first words there was almost a sensation, for the lieutenant
brought out the fact that Fred was related to the Suvaroff family. The
fact that Fred had gone straight to the house of his kinsman came out as
a result of Ernst's evidence, and Fred knew that it would be useless to
say that this had been the result of pure chance, and that he had not
even known of Boris's existence. It was true, but it was none the less
incredible. It was easy to see when Ernst had finished giving his
testimony, which he did reluctantly, and with a good deal of sympathy
for Fred, that the court had made up its mind.

There were no witnesses for Fred to call. He told his own story, but it
was not believed. The finding of the court was inevitable: "Guilty as
charged!" And Colonel Goldapp, in an expressionless voice, pronounced
sentence.

"The prisoner is old enough, though he is only a boy, to know the fate
of a spy. He risked this fate. He will be shot at once. Captain von
Glahn will take charge of the execution of the court's sentence."

Fred passed through the minutes that followed as if he were in a dream.
It seemed to him that it was someone else who was led into the garden,
placed against a wall, and blindfolded. Von Glahn, a young officer, came
and stood beside him.

"The firing squad will be here at once," he said. "I am sorry. Is there
any message I can deliver for you?"

And then outside a bugle rang out, and there was a burst of wild,
frenzied yelling and the next moment a crash of firing.



CHAPTER XI

THE COSSACKS


Something fell against Fred, something heavy and warm. It was a full
minute before he realized that it was von Glahn, staggering, coughing.
He supported the German officer for a moment. Then they went down
together with von Glahn, still coughing terribly, on top. That saved
Fred's life. For over him now, for the next five minutes, there raged a
furious fight. Horses were all through the grounds; Fred heard them, and
the savage, unearthly cries of their riders. For the first minute there
was a good deal of firing. He guessed that the firing squad that had
been meant for him was putting up a stiff struggle; later he knew it.

Then abruptly it was all over. There was no sound save the groans of
wounded men. The firing ceased, and with it the fierce shouts of those
who had invaded the garden at that most critical of moments. Fred
realized afterward that he must have fainted, for when next he could see
and hear, there was a faint light in the sky. He was aroused by the
moving of the heavy weight of von Glahn's body, and looked up to see a
bearded man, small and wiry, in a rough sheepskin coat, who grinned down
at him.

"Not hurt, eh, comrade?" said this man in Russian. He seemed surprised
when Fred answered in his own tongue, and started back. But he had
pushed the body of the German captain away, and Fred rose to his feet a
little unsteadily. It was a wild, strange scene upon which his eyes
rested. All about the place where he had lain the ground was covered
with evidences of a furious struggle. Nearly a score of Germans lay
about, dead. Among them were half a dozen Cossacks, and over one of
these stood a riderless horse, muzzling his master's body inquisitively.
Fred was about to question the man who had relieved him of von Glahn's
weight when there was a sudden rush, and Boris, sobbing with delight,
threw his arms about him and kissed him on both cheeks.

"Here--I say, Boris, don't do that!" he cried.

"Oh, I forgot that is not your custom!" said Boris. "But I thought you
were dead! I thought they had killed you! I saw them bring you out from
my window, and if the sentry had not stopped me, I would have thrown
myself out to join you! Come with me--my father is here!"

Fred was still dazed. His escape had been so miraculous that he wanted
to pinch himself to see if he were still awake. A month before he had
been at home in America, envied by the rest of his patrol because he was
actually to go to far-off Russia by himself. And since then he had been
three times a prisoner, had been in danger of exile to Siberia, and just
now had escaped by mere seconds meeting a blast of bullets from a German
firing squad, a victim of a war that had not even been dreamed of when
he had sailed from America!

But there could be no real doubt of the truth as he followed Boris into
the house. In the dining-room where he had been sentenced to death, he
came upon Lieutenant Ernst, chatting amiably with half a dozen Russian
officers in their white coats. The German grinned at him.

"You're in luck, youngster," he said. "I'm not so sorry, really! They
didn't get what they came after, you see."

"No, worse luck!" said a Russian. "How did the old fox know we were
coming?"

Ernst only looked wise, and did not answer. Fred was surprised by the
way in which captive and captors mingled, seemingly on the most friendly
terms. But when he thought it over, it did not seem so strange. Ernst
and these Russians knew what a huge thing this war was. Each had his
part to play, and would play it as well as he could. But individuals,
after all, could not count for much, and the man who was prisoner to-day
might be on top to-morrow. Later bitterness and personal hatred might
come, but as yet, as Fred began to understand, these men hadn't come to
that. They were like players on rival football teams after a hotly
contested game. In the play each man would fight his hardest; after the
whistle blew, friendship ruled. The referee's whistle had blown when
Ernst was caught in a trap.

Boris pushed on into a smaller room. Here Fred saw a man he would have
known anywhere as Boris's father, and, for that matter, as some close
relative of his mother. Alexander Suvaroff, General of Division in the
Russian army, looked very much like Mikail, but there was a sharp
difference between them. This Suvaroff was as kindly in aspect as the
other was repellent and harsh. His eyes twinkled affectionately when he
saw Fred.

"Welcome, cousin," he said. "Even if our chief purpose failed, I am glad
we got here in time to save you. You heard that General von Hindenburg
got away?"

"I knew that before we were caught," said Fred, "but I didn't know you
had come for him."

"Of course they did!" said Boris. "Your wireless message told the staff
he was here, and my father led a cavalry raid behind the German lines to
try to catch him. But--he ran away!"

The general laughed at the contempt in Boris's tone.

"Of course he ran away!" he said. "I only wonder how he knew we were
coming! That was bad luck--because not once did we strike so much as a
German patrol as we rode."

"I can tell you," said Fred. "An aeroplane brought word. Its pilot must
have seen you as he flew overhead, and suspected that you were coming
here."

"So!" Suvaroff frowned. "I did not think of that! However, it is better
than what we suspected at first. It looked as if someone at headquarters
must have betrayed the plan. Well, it was too good to come true. If we
had caught him and his staff, we might have hastened the end of the war
by a good many months. Von Hindenburg is the ablest general in Germany,
though he has been in disgrace for years. They sent for him as soon as
war came. He'll do good work."

Fred was thinking.

"If that aeroplane saw you coming, general," he said, "isn't there
danger that they may try to surround you here?"

"Yes, more than danger. They are sure to try to do it! But their cavalry
is very slow, and I do not believe they have infantry enough near by to
make any trouble for us." He frowned thoughtfully. "There is something
very peculiar about the whole situation around here! If von Hindenburg
is here, it means that their chief concentration on this front must be
here. And yet we get reports of an astonishingly small number of troops!
Not more than two corps."

Boris looked eagerly at his father, and then at Fred. But before he
could speak General Suvaroff went on, crisply.

"You can ride?" he asked Fred. "Good! I will see that you and Boris have
horses. Then we shall start. We can be back in our own lines before
daylight."

Fred hesitated. Then Boris took the words from his mouth.

"Father, I want to stay!" he said, eagerly. "It will be safe. I can get
back to the house and they can never catch me there, you know! They may
not even search for me, but if they do, I can hide from them in the
tunnel. And you say the German movement about here is puzzling. Would it
not be well to have some way of sending word from here? Ivan is at work.
But no matter what he discovers, if we are not at the house, it will do
no good. Let me stay!"

"I should like to stay, too," said Fred.

"Impossible!" said General Suvaroff at once to that. "You would be shot
as soon as you were caught--you are under sentence now. They would not
treat you as a prisoner of war, even if they caught you among my
troopers."

"But if they did not catch me--"

"No! I cannot let you take so great a risk. You are of my kin, and I owe
a duty to your mother. I shall see that you get back safely to Russia
and are sent home by sea from there."

"But if I go into Russia, I shall be arrested--those are Prince Mikail's
orders," said Fred, quietly. "I am sure to be caught there, and here
there is a chance that I may not be found. If you take Lieutenant Ernst
with you as a prisoner, no one among the Germans will know me, except as
I appear now. If I change back to my own clothes, I shall be safe from
anything worse than detention. None of the officers of the court-martial
escaped, did they?"

"No, that is true," said Suvaroff. He spoke thoughtfully. It was plain
that Fred's argument was making an impression on him. "I have heard
something of your affair with Mikail. I shall look into that. Eh--I
don't know just what to do!"

"Let us stay!" pleaded Boris. "We will be careful, and we know now just
what dangers we must avoid."

"I think we shall be back here, in force, before the week is out," said
his father, after a moment's reflection. "Very well, you shall stay! It
is true that you may be of the greatest service. I have not the right to
consider personal matters when the welfare of Russia is at stake."

It was light by now. In curious contrast to the shambles of the garden
and the disorder of the house, its windows shattered by bullets, its
furniture broken and draperies torn in the swift conflict that had
followed the appearance of the Cossacks, roosters were crowing outside
and birds were singing. General Suvaroff gave a sharp order;
subordinates passed it along. A bugle sounded, and, five minutes later,
after the general had said good-bye to the two scouts, the Cossack
raiders rode away. They were strung out in a long column along the road.
As they passed through the village Fred and Boris, watching from an
upper window of the abandoned parsonage, saw the villagers watching.
Boris had a powerful field glass, and through this he and Fred could see
the very faces of the watching Germans. Hatred and fear mingled in the
looks they sent after the invaders of their country.

"One can't blame them," said Fred, with a shudder. "War's rather
ghastly, isn't it, Boris?"

He looked down into the garden, and Boris's eyes followed his.

"Yes," said the Russian. "That's the ugly part of it. It's all ugly. But
sometimes war must come, it seems to me. We in Russia have never wanted
to make war. We have fought because we were forced to fight. I think
that is what history will say of us in this war."

"They are not going toward Russia," said Fred, looking after the
raiders, who were melting into the landscape now. "Their road seems to
be due west."

"They must ride in a long circle, I suppose," said Boris. "If they went
straight back, they would run right into the Germans. There must be a
lot of the enemy between us and the Russian lines--their main body, you
see. And my father won't want to fight. His object is to get back with
as many men as possible. It would be useless to send a thousand
Cossacks against an army corps."

"Oh, of course! It's wonderful to think of how they got here, Boris,
riding right through the enemy's country! It's like the work cavalry did
on both sides in our Civil War. They used to get behind the enemy's
lines and cut telegraph wires and railways all the time."

In the village, there were now more signs of life. As the Cossacks rode
by, the street had been empty, but now men and women were coming out
furtively. They began to come toward the parsonage.

"Time for us to go," said Fred, with decision. "We wouldn't have much
chance if they caught us here. And if we're to be of any use, those
people have got to think that we've gone."

"Right!" said Boris. "Hello--look up there! I was afraid of that!"

He pointed to a monoplane, flying high and coming from the north, from
the direction of the Baltic.

"Looking for the raiders," said Fred. "Let's hurry. I think we ought to
report what has happened by wireless. Your father's party may need
help."



CHAPTER XII

THE TRICK


It was nervous work going through the lower floor of the house, through
the garden, trampled by the rush of the Cossack charge, through bushes
clipped and torn by bullets. All about was a curious silence, broken
only by the sounds that the birds made, and the humming insects, which
were not at all disturbed by war and the ruin it left in its wake. It
was a relief to both scouts to pass into the tunnel. There everything
seemed normal, strange though the place was. And in a few moments they
were back in the great hall of the Suvaroff house, and were being
greeted with delight by old Vladimir, though he reproached them, too,
for coming back.

Their first thought was for the wireless. Fred sent a brief report of
what had happened, describing the escape of General von Hindenburg. And
then, as he was about to end the message, Ivan stood beside him. His
eyes were shining and he seemed greatly excited.

"Tell them that von Hindenburg has only a masking force here with very
few first line troops," he said. "Most of the Germans are far to the
south. Their plan is to join the Austrians in an advance from Cracow.
Here they hope to hold the lakes with a few troops. They expect our army
to advance. They will give up Johannisberg and Ortelsburg. They will
make no stand at all until we come to Allenstein. The whole movement
here is a trick. They hope to lead us on here and then drive a great
wedge into the heart of Poland, until they can strike at Warsaw."

Fred made no comment. He sent the message, then asked his own questions.

"You know of the raid last night?"

"I heard something of it--and that the old fox Hindenburg escaped. Tell
me the rest."

"I'll be off," he said, when they had done. "Half a mile away I have a
cache. There is a motorcycle and the uniform of a German soldier--a man
of the cycle corps. I shall follow General Suvaroff."

"Can you catch them?" asked Boris, doubtfully. "They ride fast."

"Not so fast," said Ivan. "There may be fighting to do as well as
running, and for fighting you need horses that are not too tired. It
would be foolish to save an hour or two by hard riding and lose
everything at the end for lack of the power to break through. And a
motorcycle can do better than the fastest horse."

"But how did you get one?" asked Fred. "And the German uniform?"

Ivan smiled significantly.

"I met a man of about my size," he said. "I was walking. And I was
tired. I took his cycle and his uniform away from him."

There was something about his tone and the look in his eyes that made
Fred refrain from asking any more questions. He admired Ivan greatly,
but he was a little afraid of him, too. In him he could see what lay
behind the general belief that Russia was still a barbarous, partially
civilized state, the underlying truth of the old saying: "Scratch a
Russian, and you will find a Tartar beneath." He was glad that Ivan was
on his side, and was bound to him, moreover, by his loyalty to the name
of Suvaroff.

"Listen, now," said Ivan. "Here it is very dangerous. Stay as long as
you can, but never let yourselves be caught in the house by any Germans.
Do not let the villagers see you. Take to the tunnel without hesitation
if there is an attack upon the house, or a search. I think you will be
safe as long as you are watchful, but you cannot be off your guard for
even a moment. The Germans will think that you went back with the
Cossacks but they will try to make sure."

"We will be careful," said Boris. "You are sure of what you have
learned? There will be no more than two army corps in this region?"

"That is certain. I have scouted for twenty miles to the west and I have
been along the railway lines. If there were more troops coming, I
should have discovered it. I am sure of that."

"And now you are going back toward our lines?"

"Yes. I may be of service to your father. And, in any case, I shall be
of more use if I am with the German advanced position than if I stayed
here, far in the rear. Good-bye!"

He departed through the tunnel. And then for Fred and Boris began a task
almost harder than any that could have been set. They had to wait. There
was nothing for them to do except sit in the little turret room. Below,
Vladimir and the others kept a sort of guard, but there seemed little
reason even for that.

From the turret, whence the wireless waves were sent pulsing out through
the air, a fine view of the surrounding country for a good many miles
was to be had. For the most part this was a level section, slightly
undulating, but with very few high spots. From their vantage point the
roads stretched out like ribbons or like lines on a map. Fred opened the
wireless and amused himself by listening. At first he could hear only a
confused jumble through the receivers that were clamped to his ear. Then
he changed his wave length, experimenting until he got a clear series of
dots and dashes.

"I think I'll take this down," he said to Boris. "It'll be like Greek to
us, of course, but it's all German wireless talk, and it all means
something. Perhaps if we're lucky, we'll stumble on to the key of the
code they're using, and that might be useful."

After a time Boris, who could receive well enough but was an inexpert
sender, relieved him, and Fred, taking the field glass, began to search
the horizon. Soon something caught his eye and held his attention. At
first he thought he saw troops moving, coming from the east. It seemed
strange that German troops should be in retreat so soon, but in a moment
he understood. He did not see soldiers moving along the road, but a
company of civilians, with carts that were drawn by men and women. At
first the sight puzzled him, but then he understood, and he called to
Boris to look.

"They're clearing out the villages toward the border," he said.

Boris only glanced through the glass.

"Yes. They were doing it the day after the war began, too," he said.
"It's better for them, of course. If civilians are about where there is
fighting, they are in danger from both sides. The Germans wouldn't stop
a minute at shelling one of their own villages if we were holding it.
Fred, I think they must be going to send our little lot away, too. There
are soldiers coming along the road--Uhlans."

Fred looked down and saw a picket of lancers approaching, headed by an
officer. And in a few minutes there were signs of great activity in the
village. Soon the exodus began. And then the Uhlans turned at the road
leading up to the great house, and began to climb.

"Coming to warn our people, I suppose," said Boris. "We'll make
ourselves scarce, Fred. Vladimir can talk to them when they arrive."

But Fred did not go without one more sweeping look about him. And it
showed him something that surprised him.

"I've got a curious feeling," he told Boris, when they had slipped into
the secret passage. "I've got what we call a hunch in America--a feeling
that Ivan has been fooled. You didn't see what I did just now. I'm
perfectly certain I saw troops marching on two roads that aren't very
far apart, to the north."

"Marching east or west?"

"East. I think a real trap is being prepared, Boris. And--I'm going to
try to find out the truth!"

"How?"

"I'd better not tell you, Boris. Go back and listen--see what you can
hear at the thin wall. I'm afraid that if we both go we might be heard,
if they are near there. I want to know where those Uhlans come from."

"All right," said Boris, wondering a little. He went off, and Fred, as
soon as he had disappeared, began to make his way very quietly, almost
stealthily, indeed, toward the other end of the tunnel--the one that
gave to the open air.

"He'd never have let me go if I had told him," he said to himself,
feeling the need of justifying what looked like treachery, since his own
conscience was accusing him. "And I didn't lie to him. I didn't say that
I would be there when he came back. I only hope I get out before he
finds I've gone!"

When he reached the opening he felt safe, and there he stopped and wrote
a note to Boris, telling him what he meant to do and why he had not
taken him into his confidence before.

"He's sure to find that," said Fred to himself. "He'll come down here
looking for me, and I suppose he'd go out, too, no matter how dangerous
it might be, if I didn't leave this note."

As he swung the door that let him out, Fred felt the little thrill that
always came to him when he opened the way thus to the outer air. Ever
since he had come upon the German soldier here the first time, he had
had this feeling. This time, however, the way was clear, and he slipped
out and made his way swiftly toward the parsonage. He took advantage of
every bit of cover for he had no wish to be seen, at least as yet. Soon
he reached the vantage spot he sought. From it he commanded a view of
the village, and of the entrance to the great Suvaroff house on the hill
as well.

The dismal procession from the village had already begun. The place, in
fact, was already almost entirely deserted. Orders from the army
evidently counted for a good deal here. Fred wondered what Americans
would have done in a like case. But the departure of the villagers, who
knew him, and might have recognized him even in his German guise,
relieved him immensely. Before the house on the hill he could see a
mounted Uhlan on guard over the horses. The rest had gone inside. There
were only five of them altogether, which made him feel confident that
none would be left behind. There were too few for that.

As time passed, he wondered why they stayed inside so long. In a way, it
was to his liking that they should, but it made him nervous. He was
afraid that a real search was being made; afraid that, by some stroke of
misfortune, Boris's hiding-place had been revealed. But at last he saw
the solitary horseman outside the house stiffen to rigid attention. Then
the others came out, and he almost shouted in his relief when he saw
that they brought no one with them. The officer swung to his saddle and
in a minute more the little command was cantering down the hill. Fred
looked at the village searchingly now. There was no one left. A quarter
of a mile away the rear end of the wretched procession of refugees
straggled along the road, going west. They were not looking back.

Now it was time to put his plan to the test. The chances of full
success, as he understood perfectly, were most remote. And the danger
was great. He had not seen these Uhlans; there might well be someone
even in that small party who would recognize him. And he knew what would
happen then, if he were caught. But his plan compelled him to run that
risk, and he emerged from his shelter, and struck out boldly along the
road the Uhlans had taken to come to the village. He walked northeast,
and he knew that that in itself would be suspicious, but it was all part
of his plan.

He had not long to wait for the plan to begin, or at least to work out
according to his calculations. Behind him he heard a shout, but,
affecting not to hear it, he did not turn. And in a few moments he heard
the sound of galloping hoofs behind him. Even then he did not turn until
a Uhlan had ridden past him.

"Stop!" cried the soldier. "Where are you going?"

Fred looked at him blankly.

"Stop!" said the German again, for Fred, after having looked at him, had
moved on. Still Fred paid no attention, and the man rode up to him and
leaned over, dropping a heavy hand on his shoulder and shaking him in
no gentle way.

"Where are you going, I say? Answer!" roared the Uhlan.

But Fred only smiled and pointed first to his ears and then to his
mouth. By pantomime he pretended to be deaf and dumb. And when the
officer came up, Fred was still smiling--and silent. He knew he had
never seen this officer before.



CHAPTER XIII

THE ESCAPE


"What's the matter with him, Schmidt!" asked the officer.

Fred knew enough of German uniforms by this time to place him as a
lieutenant of the lowest grade, and was thankful that he did not have an
experienced man to deal with.

"Deaf and dumb, I think, Herr Lieutenant," said the man. "I rode up
behind him, calling to him and making a good deal of noise, but he did
not even know I was coming until I was on top of him."

"Well, he can't go this way!" said the lieutenant. "How are we to make
him understand that?"

"If I dismounted and turned him about, he might perhaps understand,"
said the soldier.

"Try it!"

Fred had hard work to conceal his amusement but he managed it. The
soldier solemnly turned him about and pushed him in the direction whence
he had come. But Fred immediately turned around, walked a couple of
paces as he had been going, and then stopped, smiling broadly. Then he
turned around, shook his head violently, and turned back.

"He's trying to tell us he wants to keep on the way he was going," said
the lieutenant.

The two Germans seemed to be puzzled, but then the officer got an idea.
He produced paper and pencil and wrote hurriedly.

"Who are you? Where are you going?" he wrote. Then he handed the paper
to Fred. Fred hesitated for a moment. He understood German and could
talk it very well. But he was a little nervous about writing it,
especially in the German script. He could write it, but he was not sure
that he could write it so well that it would seem like the work of a
German. However, he took the chance.

"My name is Gebhardt," he wrote. "I come from Munich, and I am visiting
my uncle and aunt here at Gumbinnen. My uncle sent me to Insterberg and
then I found I could not go back by train. Soldiers have made me turn
around so many times that it has taken me all this time to get here. Why
can I not go to Gumbinnen?"

The officer took the paper and, when he had read it, told the soldier.
They seemed to find Fred's explanation plausible, and his writing had
passed muster.

"Here is a fine mess!" said the lieutenant. "Poor boy! I feel sorry for
one with such an affliction! And is he not between the devil and the
deep blue sea? In Gumbinnen there will be Russian cavalry by
to-morrow--and at Insterberg, I suppose, the first real battle will be
fought!"

Fred caught his breath. He was getting what he wanted now, certainly! If
only he did not betray himself! If the officer would only go on and tell
him a little more! And he did go on, almost as if he were speaking to
himself.

"If his people have any sense, they will have cleared out of Gumbinnen
before this. He knows someone at Insterberg, perhaps, but if it is the
plan to let the Russians come so far without fighting and then strike
while they are there, the population will have been ordered out. And
they have been unloading troop trains at Insterberg, too--so that the
Russians would not find out how many men we had here. Eh--take him up
behind you, Schmidt! We can't abandon him. Perhaps the hospital people
or the cooks can make some use of him."

Fred heard this with a start of dismay. It was decidedly more than he
had bargained for, because now that he had the information he had come
to get, he wanted to get back to the wireless as quickly as possible. It
did him no good to know the German plan, or to have a hint of what it
was, unless he could pass on his knowledge to those who could make some
use of it. But he could not protest when the officer wrote down an
explanation of what was to be done with him, telling him that the road
to Gumbinnen was not safe, but that he would see to it that Fred should
get to a safe place.

So when the soldier Schmidt patted his horse's back and indicated that
Fred should climb up, Fred had no choice but to obey. He had plenty to
think of, too, as they rode along. For one thing, while he had taken his
chance and won, since this officer had not seen him before, there was
every prospect that he would be recognized if he were now taken to
headquarters. He supposed that that was where they were going, and he
knew that a number of the officers who had left the parsonage with
General von Hindenburg on the night of the Cossack raid would be
present. It would be strange, indeed, if none of them knew him. And it
took no imagination to guess what recognition would mean.

There was just one thing in his favor now. It was beginning to get dark.
He did not know how far they had to ride, but he hoped it was a long
way. Ordinarily, he would not have wanted the ride to be prolonged
because his position was highly uncomfortable. Fred could ride well
himself, but riding alone on a horse and sitting behind a man who fills
his own saddle with very little to spare are two different things.

Try as he would, Fred could not think of a means of getting away. To
escape from five mounted men by slipping off the horse and running for
it was manifestly impossible. He gave up that idea before he even
elaborated upon it. But soon the glimmering dawn of an idea did come to
him. The pace slackened, and he noticed that he and Schmidt were falling
behind. The lieutenant called out sharply, and Schmidt, growling to
himself beneath his breath, used his spur and brought his horse up into
alignment with the others again. But only for a hundred yards or so.
Then the horse faltered and fell behind again. Now the lieutenant
reproved Schmidt sharply.

"I'm sorry, Herr Lieutenant," said Schmidt. "My poor beast is very
tired, and he is carrying an extra burden. He has had more work to do
to-day than any of the others. If you would permit me to drop behind and
come in alone--it is not so far now?"

"Very well," said the lieutenant. "We'll never get there if we hang
back waiting for you." And he gave the word to ride on.

Schmidt at once began to take things more easily. Fred heard him
grunting to himself.

"Those verdamter young officers!" he grumbled. "Just because they have a
pair of shoulder straps, they think they know it all! I would like to
put some of them across my knee!"

Fred knew enough of German discipline to be vastly amused by this. But
he had no time now to think of trifling things. His whole energy was
devoted to finding some way to turn this new circumstance to his own
advantage. It seemed to him that there ought to be some way of managing
it. And in a moment he got the idea. Schmidt was as tired as his horse,
or even more so, and by this time he was swaying in his saddle and half
asleep, as a trained horseman often does. Fred leaned forward and very
quietly cut the saddle girth almost through. He knew that the slightest
strain would finish the work. Schmidt was utterly unconscious of what
was going on. Fred could tell, from the man's breathing, just what his
condition was. He would snore a little and then, with a start, he would
arouse himself, breathing normally for a minute. Then the snoring would
start again. He was trusting himself entirely to his horse.

Dusk had fallen now, and Fred decided that it was time to see if his
plan was feasible. He took a handkerchief from his pocket, rolled it
into a ball, and flung it straight ahead, so that it fell, unrolling,
right before the horse's eyes. The effect was inevitable. The frightened
horse reared. At the strain the severed girth gave, and the saddle,
rolling, spilled both Schmidt and Fred into the road, while the horse
bolted. Fred lay still, watching Schmidt, who rose, cursing fluently,
and stood for a moment staring stupidly after his horse. Then he began
to call, and broke into the awkward, lumbering run of the cavalryman.

Fred might have slipped away then, but he was sure that Schmidt would
catch the horse, which must, he thought, be trained to stop even after a
momentary panic. And it was not his plan to seize a chance that might
after all not be as good as it looked. He wanted to make as sure as
possible of getting away. And now, as soon as Schmidt had started after
the horse, he crawled over to the saddle, which lay where it had fallen.
He took the heavy revolver from the holster and was duly grateful for
one thing he had noticed--these Uhlans carried no carbines. Their only
weapons, seemingly, were their lances and the revolvers in their
holsters.

He was not a moment too soon. Schmidt came back almost at once, leading
his horse. He was scolding it for running, and he was also expressing
his opinion of government saddles and leather. He found the broken
girth, and sat down at once to mend it. Fred scarcely dared to breathe
for a moment. But Schmidt did not notice the empty holster, and though
he growled and swore when he saw how the girth had snapped, he did not
seem to notice that it had been cut almost through.

Fred went over and looked at him. Then, idly, indifferently, he went to
the horse, which was standing perfectly still, though its flanks were
still heaving. Fred patted the horse's head. Schmidt glanced around at
him. His back was turned, and he seemed to see nothing worthy of
attention in Fred's attitude.

And then, with one spring, Fred was on the horse's back, and, bending
low, was urging the tired animal back over the road he had travelled so
slowly. With a cry of mingled rage and surprise Schmidt leaped up and
began shouting. But the horse, ready enough to obey when it was running
riderless away, now obeyed the more convincing orders of its rider.
Fred, moreover, was a welcome contrast to Schmidt's big bulk; there was
a difference of at least seventy pounds.

Fred turned once to look at Schmidt, and saw him staring with an
expression of stupefaction at the empty holster. Then he devoted himself
entirely to the road ahead. It was as he had thought and hoped; Schmidt
did not have another pistol. And, with Fred urging him on, the horse
galloped on as if it had been really fresh.

"Thank heaven he's stupid, that Schmidt!" thought Fred.

Then he had a fit of remorse. He was afraid that it would go hard with
Schmidt, for he knew that in the German army excuses are not readily
accepted. However, it was not a time to think of sentiment. Fred was
taking desperate chances himself, and it had been a case of seizing any
chance of escape that offered itself. Not only his own liberty, but very
probably his own life had depended upon his getting away. He knew
enough, by this time, to understand that the outcome of the first
campaign of the war might depend upon the accuracy of the information
the Russians obtained of the German movements.

It was plain to Fred that the Russians, in this quarter at least, had
not been well served by their spies. He was surprised at the absence of
initiative the Russians had shown in some ways. Aeroplane scouting, for
instance, would have made it impossible for the Germans to spring such a
surprise as evidently was in preparation. The Germans were using their
aerial scouts. It was one of them, detecting the approach of General
Suvaroff and his Cossack raiders, who had spoiled the plan for the
capture of von Hindenburg.

But though he had felt that he was perfectly justified in sacrificing
Schmidt to his own need to escape, Fred could not help feeling sorry for
the poor fellow.

"I hope he'll be able to think up a good story!" he said to himself.
"And, by George, I hope I don't meet any more German soldiers! They
would certainly finish me off if they found me riding on a German horse!
There isn't anything I could do that would make them think that was all
right, no matter how stupid they were!"

He urged his horse on now as hard as he dared, tired though he knew it
to be. His plan was simple enough. He meant to ride to within a mile of
the village, and then dismount, letting the horse go wherever it liked.
Its usefulness to him would be over as soon as it had put him past the
possibility of pursuit. He thought his troubles were nearly over. But
suddenly, around a turn in the road, came a glare of light, and in his
ears sounded the bugle of a German military automobile.



CHAPTER XIV

ALTERED PLANS


Fred's horse did for him what he could scarcely have done for himself in
time. It reared and threw him, then bolted. Tired already, the sudden
appearance of the monstrous ray of light and the roar of the approaching
motor was too much for that horse. Fred was not hurt by the fall. Having
had no stirrups from which to disengage his feet, he was able to let
himself go. And he had no sooner landed than he was up. For just a
moment, he knew he must be plainly visible in the glare of the
searchlight. But he dashed for the side of the road and made his way
through a hedge and into the field on the other side. There he began to
run as fast and as hard as he could.

He had two chances, he thought. One, that he had not been seen at all;
the other, that whoever was in the car might think he had passed on the
flying horse. If he had been seen, however, he could not hope to escape
by running. He was too tired, for one thing, after the strenuous
experience of the previous night, and for another, he was almost certain
to be seen, for after he had traversed a space that was covered with
shrubs and young trees, he would be in the open. And a bullet could
travel faster than he could.

And so, after making his dash, he stopped running and threw himself
down, facing the road, to watch and to listen. At first he thought he
was safe, for the car roared by. But in a moment his ear caught a
different note in the sound of the motor, and then the engine stopped.
It started again in a moment, but now the headlight was coming toward
him again! The car had been turned around. It was back, undoubtedly, to
look for him. Still he decided not to run, but to stay where he was,
though every instinct prompted him to take the chance of flight. That,
however, was pure panic, and he fought against the impulse.

The car came along slowly. He was not more than a hundred feet from the
road, and the headlight showed him the progress of the car. Its
blinding light, however, made it impossible for him to see the car
itself or its occupants. It gave them the advantage. Finally the car
stopped, and he groaned. It had stopped exactly opposite his
hiding-place! He had hoped that they would not be able to tell just
where he had left the road, but in a moment the explanation came to him.
He had trampled down the hedge in getting through, of course, and had
left a trail that a child might have followed.

Then the headlight was switched off, and for a moment he lost the car
altogether. His ears, rather than his eyes, told him that someone was
coming. He heard the breaking down of the hedge, and then footsteps
moving slowly, but coming closer. And in a moment he saw a little
stabbing ray of light that wandered back and forth. Whoever was stalking
him was evidently not afraid of him.

Suddenly he remembered his pistol, the one he had taken from Schmidt's
holster. He gripped it convulsively. After all, he was not as helpless
as he had believed. He waited. Should he risk all now, with a shot--a
shot that might warn this stalker off and give him another chance to
escape, even though there were others in the car? He drew out the
pistol, and cocked it. Then, at the faint sound, a voice called to him
out of the darkness.

"Do not fire! It is I--Ivan! Ivan Ivanovitch!"

For a moment Fred thought he was going to collapse, so great was the
relief and the slackening of tension. He did laugh out, but caught
himself at once.

"Ivan!" he said. "I thought it was a German officer! It is I, Ivan--Fred
Waring!"

"I knew it," said Ivan, coming up close. "I saw you for just a second as
your horse reared. It was just a flash of your face, but if I have ever
seen a face once, I never forget it. And you have the look of a Suvaroff
about you, even though you are different. I would have known you for one
of the breed had I met you anywhere in the world, had no one told me
who you were. And so I turned to find you and follow you."

"But what are you doing here? I thought you were to rejoin our own
army?"

"I was pressed into service as a chauffeur. This car was needed near the
front, and there was no one to drive it. I deceived them wholly, with my
uniform, and my motorcycle. And so they forced this car upon me! My plan
was to use it, instead of my cycle, to get past their lines."

"But you are riding straight to Gumbinnen--and they are near there in
force!"

"No, they have retreated from there. They know that we are too strong
for them, and they do not care to fight."

"Yes, and do you know why? Because they have been bringing troops up
secretly to Insterberg, and are planning to fight a great battle there
on their own grounds! You were wrong, Ivan, in the information you
sent."

Wasting no words, he quickly told of what he had learned that evening.
And Ivan smote his hands together for he was deeply troubled.

"And I thought I knew all their plans!" he said, savagely. "If the staff
had acted upon my information, we should have marched into a trap!"

"Now I must get to the wireless," said Fred. "That was what I meant to
do when you frightened my horse there in the road."

"Come, I will drive you back. It will not take long, and your work is
more important than mine now. It is safe, too. You can be hidden in the
car in case we encounter any Germans. But that is not likely. They are
not as thick in this district as they were forty-eight hours ago."

They made their way together to the car, and Fred laughed.

"I don't think I was ever so scared as when you turned and came back. It
was worse, in a way, than when they were going to shoot me in the
parsonage garden. I'd been so sure I was safe--and then to hear that
bugle call on your car!"

"It is not right for you to run such risks," said Ivan. "I wish you were
behind our lines! You are not even a Russian, and yet you have been
near to death for us."

"Don't you worry about me!" said Fred. "I don't suppose that I would
have started this, but when I was pushed into it as I was, I feel like
doing all I can. If the Germans had caught me when Boris hid me in the
tunnel, they would have treated me like an enemy, so I thought I might
as well give them a good excuse, since they were going to do it anyhow."

"Here we are," said Ivan. "Even if you were frightened, this may turn
out well. You will save some time, and I can take you to the very
opening of the tunnel."

"Well, it's only fair for this car to do me a good turn after the fright
it gave me," said Fred.

Ivan drove swiftly when they started again. On that deserted road,
through a country that had been blasted by the approach of war, though
as yet there had been no actual fighting, there was no reason for
cautious driving. And five minutes brought them to the parsonage, and so
to a point as close to the opening of the tunnel as the car could go.
As the motor stopped Ivan swore in surprise.

"Look!" he said.

To the west there were a dozen darting searchlights winking back and
forth across the sombre sky. And below the searchlights were hundreds of
tiny points of fire.

"They're advancing!" he cried. "And listen!"

From the east there came a dull sound that rose presently to a steady,
loud roar.

"Everything has changed!" cried Ivan, his face white. "We are pushing
the attack--we must have occupied Gumbinnen! The Germans are being
driven back--and they are bringing up their supports! They must mean to
fight here to protect the railway! This place will be the centre of a
battle before morning! I shall give up my plan. The only thing that
counts now is to get word to the staff of what is going on back here!
Come!"

"What about the car?"

"If it is still here after we have sent word, good! If it is not, we
must do without it."

Ivan began running toward the mouth of the tunnel. But Fred, before he
followed, switched off the lights and ran the car off the side of the
road, so that it was under the wall of the parsonage garden and
sheltered, to a certain extent, by the heavy foliage of a large tree,
whose branches overhung the wall.

"I'd like to think that that car was where we could get at it," he said
to himself. "I have an idea that this place is going to be mighty
unpleasant before long."

Then he followed Ivan. The Russian had already entered the tunnel. Fred,
when he followed him, heard him running up the long passage that led up
to the house. Before he could reach the opening, however, he heard other
steps coming toward him, and a moment later Boris was heaping reproaches
on him.

"I thought they had caught you!" he cried. "I saw them chasing someone,
and it looked like you. In fact, I was sure it was you at first sight."

"It was," said Fred, grimly. "I'll tell you about that later, Boris!
You'd better get everyone out of this place. We can't stay here any
longer. Unless I'm greatly mistaken, this will be used as a target for
artillery by morning. It will if Ivan is right."

"He rushed by me just now. He would say nothing except that you were
behind."

"He's at the wireless. Come on! We'll see if he has found out anything
more."

For ten minutes after they reached the turret, they could get nothing
out of Ivan, who was sending hard, with only an occasional pause to
listen to what the other operator sent to him. Then he sat back with a
sigh of relief.

"We were in time!" he said. "These troops back here are the ones that
were supposed to be massing behind Liok, to resist the feint we were
making there. They are too clever, those Germans! They have their
airships to tell them the truth, and their railways to move men swiftly
from one side to another. But they have not enough men! We shall beat
them yet. Our attack will stop. See--look here!"

He moved to a table, and with pens and pencils made a rough diagram of
the position.

"They gave up Gumbinnen without a fight, and formed in a half circle
behind. They had so few men there that it was an invitation to us to try
to outflank them. Our right could sweep out and draw in behind their
left--so. And then their supporting troops could outflank our right, in
turn, and it would be caught between two fires! They have fewer troops
than we in East Prussia to-day, but ours are separated, while they
risked all to bring all theirs together at this one point and left the
south unguarded from Mlawa to Liok! Oh, it was daring--Napoleon might
have planned that!"

"I see," said Fred. "Then when they had won here, they could have used
their railway to move troops southward?"

"Exactly so! A hundred and fifty thousand men all together can beat a
hundred thousand, if all else is equal. But one army of a hundred
thousand can beat two of seventy-five thousand apiece, meeting them at
different times. So our attack will stop. We shall leave a covering
force here at Gumbinnen--or perhaps all our troops here will stay, but
on the defensive, while others are rushed up from Grodno to outflank
them, not on their right, as they hoped, but on their extreme left!"

He was silent for a moment.

"I need one man here," he said. "One man, to keep the engine running for
the dynamo. Everyone else must leave this house. You, Boris Petrovitch,
most of all--you and your cousin. I am responsible to your father for
your safety for it is through my fault that the plans were badly made."

"But why must you stay, Ivan?" asked Boris.

"I must stay until I am ordered away," said Ivan. "But it will not be
safe here after daylight--perhaps there will be trouble even before
that. Yes, I think it will be very soon now."

"Well, I think I shall stay," said Fred.

"No," said Ivan. "Listen! If you go now, quickly, you can get away in
the car. Here is the road you must follow." He took a map and pointed.
"See--swing west first, and then south--far south. So you will be safe
from the Germans, for they have abandoned that section except for the
railway from Insterberg to Liok. That is guarded, but thinly. In the car
are two long coats such as the German officers wear, and two helmets.
They are under the rear seat. Put those on, and you will pass most of
their sentries, if you should encounter them."

"If he says we must go, we must do it," said Boris, quickly. "I should
like to stay, too, Fred, but he is right. We can do no good here, and if
you are caught it will be very bad. It would not matter with me, for
they would only treat me as a prisoner."

Fred was still unwilling. He had not Boris's Russian readiness to accept
whatever came, but there was something about Ivan that convinced him
that argument would be useless.

"Go now," said Ivan, "and God go with you! I will see to it that
Vladimir and the others follow."

And so Fred went through the tunnel again, this time with Boris. He
wondered if he would ever see this place again.



CHAPTER XV

A DASH THROUGH THE NIGHT


Both boys were startled when they reached the open air again to observe
how the din of the battle to the east had increased. They paused for a
moment to stare at one another.

"That is real war," said Boris. "Not like the skirmish here when the
Cossacks came."

"The Germans are giving way on purpose, of course, if Ivan is right--and
it seems to me he must be," said Fred. "I am afraid to think of what
will happen to him."

"I do not like to think of it, either," said Boris, "but it is fate. He
has his work to do, and it is all for Russia--for God and the Czar! I
have always been taught that we can die only once, and that it is a holy
thing to die for Russia."

"Yes, but it is better to live for Russia than to die for her, if it is
possible," said Fred. "Come! We have no time to lose, I suppose."

They approached the car in a death-like silence. It was still where
Fred had left it. There was a little delay in the start. Both Fred and
Boris had driven cars, but they were not familiar with this one, and it
seemed a good idea to learn the controls before they started. But in a
few moments they were off. The car rode easily, and the motor was very
powerful. It was a silent one, too, considering its great power. Fred
took the wheel first.

"We can take it in turns," he said. "Get some sleep, if you can, Boris.
I'll rouse you if there is any need of that. And I'll be glad to rest
myself, after a time. Just now I'm too excited to sleep, even if there
were no especial reason for keeping awake."

There was something so wonderful, so weird that it was almost ghostly,
about that ride in its beginning. Behind them was the din of the heavy
fighting between them and Gumbinnen. The sky was streaked with the
flashes of searchlights, and the vibration of the cannon beat against
their ears incessantly. Yet the road before them, as it lay like a
white ribbon in the path of the great headlight, was absolutely empty.
They passed houses, went through villages. And in none of the houses was
there a light or a sign of life. The whole countryside had been
abandoned.

"It reminds me of things I've read about the plague in olden times,"
thought Fred. "People used to run away like that then, and leave a dead
countryside behind them. It would almost look more natural if there were
signs of fighting."

There were to be plenty all about here soon. But that night there was
nothing, save the inferno of noise and the dazzling points of light in
the sky behind them, to suggest anything save the deepest peace. Grain
stood in some of the fields. In others, where the harvesting had begun,
there were reaping machines. But despite the noise, there was a strange
and unearthly silence. Fred had driven at night through lonely country
before, and he could remember the way dogs at almost every house had
burst into furious barking as the car approached. Now there were no
dogs! It was a trifling thing to think of now, but just then it seemed
to Fred that the absence of the dogs meant even more than the dark,
silent houses themselves.

The houses did look as if their owners might be asleep within, but the
dogs would have barked their alarm. And so that came to be the symbol of
the flight of the people to him.

They had many miles to go. After a couple of hours Fred changed seats
with Boris, and for a time dozed, though he scarcely slept. However, he
did get a good rest, and when they came near to the stretch of road that
Ivan had told them would mark the crisis of the trip, both boys were in
good condition for the test. They slowed down at the sound of an
engine's whistle, the first nearby noise that had come to their ears
since they had left the parsonage. It startled them tremendously at
first, but then they remembered Ivan's warning.

"There is one place where, for about four miles, the road runs very
close to the railway," he had said. "The Germans will have patrols all
along the railway line, but there is no reason why they should pay any
attention to you. Be watchful--that is the vital thing. And especially
so when you begin to descend a long hill. At the bottom of that hill the
railway crosses your road, and that culvert will be watched with
especial care. After that you will find the way clear, for our nearest
outposts should not be more than a mile or so beyond the railway there.
We would have seized the line before, except that until we had
straightened our front in that quarter it would have been useless to do
it."

The whistle that they heard warned them that they were getting near to
this dangerous stretch of road, and in a few moments the sight of a
train, sparks flying from the smokestack of the engine, gave them visual
proof as well. Then for a time they ran along parallel with the tracks.
Fires were burning along the railway at intervals of about a hundred and
fifty yards, and at times, in the firelight, they could see a dark
figure moving slowly.

"Heaven knows what this bugle means!" said Fred, as they drew into line
with the tracks. "But if we sound it they may make up their minds that
we're all right--and I'm not anxious for them to get curious about us."

So he sounded the bugle from time to time. They aroused no curiosity.
Plainly these sentries thought there was nothing strange about the
passage of a military automobile, nor, in fact, was there. It was not
likely that they would know enough of the general disposition of the
German army to speculate as to what officers might be doing hereabout.

"Here we are! We're beginning to dip," said Boris, after a time. "The
culvert Ivan spoke of must be at the bottom of this hill. The road gets
away from the railway again after that, and when we have passed there we
ought to be all right."

"There's just one thing," said Fred, with a frown. "They must know just
as well as Ivan that the Russian outposts lie not far beyond them. Won't
they think it strange for us to be going full speed toward the Russian
lines this way?"

"No. I think that's easily accounted for, Fred. There is a crossroad
less than half a mile beyond that culvert. They will suppose that we
mean to take the turn. Ivan would have thought of that, I'm sure, if
there had been any danger that they would not expect us to be traveling
on this road."

"I guess you're right, Boris. It sounds reasonable. And anyway, if there
is a chance, we've got to take it. I'm certainly not going to hesitate
just for that after we've come as far as this. We'll soon know because,
as you say, once we're past that culvert, we'll be safe. That's the
crucial spot."

The grade grew sharper as they descended, and the pace of the car
increased. Now, at the bottom, stretching across the white road, they
could see a heavy shadow and above on what was unquestionably the
railway, half a dozen lights.

"They've got more than a sentry there. It seems to be a regular post,"
said Fred, a little nervous, as they approached. "I'd like to slow down
here--we're taking this hill pretty fast."

"Yes," agreed Boris, who was driving. "But it's not just the time to
slow down, is it?"

"Hardly. We've got to shoot under there so fast that they won't have a
chance to find out too much about us. The headlight will help us, too.
It ought to dazzle them so that they won't be able to see into the car
at all. As soon as we're close to them, I'm going to sound the bugle
pretty steadily."

They rushed on toward the culvert faster and faster. The powerful
headlight illuminated the scene before them, and they could see a dozen
or more dark figures. And as they came closer, they saw that several men
were looking at them, trying to shade their eyes with their hands.

Fred sounded the bugle steadily now, and saw that this seemed to relieve
the watchers. For the first time he took his eyes from the culvert
itself and looked around. The road here descended much more steeply than
the railway, and that, Fred judged, was the reason for the culvert. For
the first time he realized that the culvert was not quite at the bottom
of the hill; that beyond it the road still bore downward quite sharply
for a space, until it turned. It was plain to him that there were more
dangers ahead than those represented by the soldiers on the culvert.

The pace of the rushing car was faster now than would have been
altogether comfortable had they been on a road they knew perfectly.
Here, with a curve just ahead that was an unknown quantity, there was
real danger in the sheer speed of the machine. Heavy as the car was, it
lurched and swayed from side to side. And simply to shut off the power
would not have been enough. Moreover, that was something both of them
would have feared to do. The slightest mischance, the most trifling
circumstance, might arouse suspicion in the watchers on the culvert. It
was necessary, and Ivan had warned them specially of this, to dash under
that at the highest possible speed for there would be stationed not
private soldiers alone, who would be likely to take it for granted that
an officer's coat and helmet meant that all was well, but an officer as
well.

And an officer would be curious as to the meaning of this solitary car,
rushing over a road that had been deserted, in all probability, for at
least two days. No, there could be no slowing down, even had the fearful
grade made it possible.

Then they flashed into the shadow. For just a moment, before they were
actually under the culvert, Fred, looking up, saw the white faces of
those above, staring curiously. Then he lowered his head, for he knew
that his face and Boris's gave the lie to their helmets. Streaked with
dust they both were, to be sure. There had been a mist in the low-lying
country through which they had come, and the flying dust of the higher,
drier parts of the road had caked on their faces. But they were not the
faces of officers.

Fred thought he heard a shout as they passed under the culvert. But
shouts were not enough to check them. What they both feared was a
volley. And that, as they passed out and beyond the menace of the
culvert, did not come.

"Look back! See if they are looking after us!" cried Boris.

"No!" Fred shouted in his ear, for now the rush of the wind made it
difficult for them to hear anything. "The light is on us now--they might
see too plainly. And, if we were officers going as fast as this, there
would be no reason for us to look back--Oh! Look out!"

They had come to the turn. So great was their speed that they seemed to
reach it before they were well out from the shadow of the culvert, yet
they had traveled two hundred yards or more. There was nothing really to
frighten Fred as he cried out unless it was the sudden imminence of the
turn, which had seemed much further away when they had first seen it. It
was less what he saw than some indefinable thing he felt.

Whether Boris's hand was wavering or whether some hitherto unsuspected
weakness had developed in the machine, Fred could not tell. But he
seemed to sense somehow that all was not well. There was some break in
the rhythm of the car's movement that warned him.

Now they took the turn. Took it on two wheels--on one! For a moment it
seemed that they must upset. Then, by a miracle, the car righted itself.
For a moment it seemed about to straighten itself out and resume its
flight. And then, together, Fred and Boris saw what lay before them, and
Boris tried frantically to swing the car out. In the road lay the wreck
of a huge van.

It was too much for Boris. He did swerve the car, but it struck the
wreck. There was a deafening crash, and then they were hurled out onto
the turf by the roadside, while the motor roared and flames leaped out
over the wreck.



CHAPTER XVI

BETWEEN THE GRINDSTONES


For a moment Fred was stunned by the force of his fall. But it was only
for a moment, since, by something that was very like a miracle, he was
unhurt. He got up and looked around, a little dazed, for Boris. In a
moment he saw him lying very still, his white face lighted up by the
flames from the burning car. He ran over and he was vastly relieved to
see that his cousin was conscious.

"My leg is broken, I think," said Boris, speaking quickly. "Fred, you
must run for it alone. You will be able to get to the Russian lines. But
hurry! They are coming, I'm sure! They must have heard the crash!"

"Do you think I'm going to leave you here?" asked Fred, indignantly.
"We'll sink or swim together, Boris!"

"Why should two of us suffer when one can escape?" asked Boris.
"Besides, you've got to go, Fred, for my sake as well as for your own.
They'll treat me well enough. But if they catch us here wearing German
uniform coats--well, you know what that would mean!"

Fred was startled. He had not thought of that.

"Take my coat and helmet and get away as fast as you can," urged Boris.
"Then I can say that I have been in the car. They'd know that, of
course, but I could make them believe that I was in it against my will,
and that the two men in uniform they saw had escaped. If they catch you,
they'll send you back to headquarters and you'll be recognized there at
once. Then they'd do to me whatever they did to you, just because I was
caught in your company. No, it's the only chance for either of us, Fred,
and you've got to take it quickly."

The idea of abandoning a friend, and much more one who had come to mean
so much to him as did Boris, seemed terrible to Fred. And yet it was
impossible for him to refute Boris's argument. His cousin was right.
And now he could hear the voices of approaching men. Naturally, if the
Germans on the culvert thought that a car containing two German officers
had been wrecked, they would come to the rescue. There was no time to be
lost.

"I suppose you're right, Boris," he said, with a groan. "But it's the
hardest thing I've ever had to do! But it is so. It would make it worse
for you if I stayed. That's the only reason I'll go, though! You believe
that, don't you?"

"Of course I do!" said Boris. "Haven't you proved what sort you are,
when you risked your life to try to help me to get away at the
parsonage? Go! Hurry! Get this coat and helmet off me!"

So Fred set to work. He had to move Boris to get the coat off, and the
Russian groaned with the pain of his broken leg. Fred dared not wait,
now that he had made up his mind to fly, even to see the extent of the
injury, much less to apply first aid. Had there been time, he might have
made Boris comfortable, for, like all well trained Boy Scouts, he
understood the elementary principles of bandaging and had made more than
one temporary setting in splints for broken bones. But he knew that the
Germans would be there in a minute or two, and he had no reason to
suppose that they would lack common humanity. They would care for Boris.
Probably they had a surgeon back at the culvert, or fairly near at hand,
at any rate.

"Get off the road," said Boris, gritting his teeth. "My head is
swimming, and I'm afraid I'm going to faint or do some such foolish
thing! But don't stay in the road. They're sure to go along, looking for
you."

Fred had reasoned that out for himself. And now, when he had rolled up
Boris's coat and helmet into a bundle, he leaped a narrow ditch and
plunged into a thick mass of bushes. He did not know the country here,
and had no notion of what sort of cover he might find. But luck was with
him though for a moment he thought he had stumbled into a disastrous
predicament. The ground gave way beneath him suddenly and he felt
himself falling. He relaxed instinctively, and came down on hands and
knees on a mass of leaves and twigs. He had fallen into a sort of
shallow pit, but deep enough to shelter him. It seemed to him to be like
a deadfall, such as he knew trappers sometimes make. The place was ideal
for such a use, but now no steel-jawed trap yawned for him. And it was
only a moment before he realized that this was just the hiding-place for
him--and one, moreover, for which he himself might have searched in
vain.

"They'll never look for me as near the wreck as this," he said to
himself. "They'll spread out probably, but I think I'll be safe here. As
safe as anywhere, and it will give me a chance to find out what's
happening, too."

The side of the pit nearest the road was almost open, though it was
screened by bushes and foliage. Fred, however, was able to peer out and
to see the dancing flames, giving a weird and ghostly appearance to the
scene in the road. The Germans were very close now and he had just time
to poke up some branches to hide the opening through which he had
fallen. Then he lay down, his eyes glued to a sort of natural peephole
that gave him a view of the road.

"It's like a grandstand seat!" he said. "But I hope no one wants to see
my ticket because I'm afraid the usher would make me change my seat!"

But then Fred had to give his whole attention to what was going on in
the road. The Germans came running up, a young officer in the lead.
There were a half dozen of them. At first, as they looked about near the
burning car, they saw no one. But then one of the soldiers saw Boris and
raised a shout. The officer went over, leaned down and then started back
with a cry of surprise.

"That is no German officer!" he exclaimed. He bent over again and Fred
winced as he saw him shaking Boris by the shoulder. He wondered if Boris
was shamming, or if he had really fainted. Then it was plain that there
was no pretence. The officer, gently enough, raised Boris's head, and
taking a flask from his pocket, forced a little of the spirits it
contained into Boris's mouth. Fred saw his cousin stiffen; he was coming
to his senses. Then the officer let him down, but made a sort of pillow
for him with a cushion that had been thrown out of the automobile when
it was overturned.

"Feel better? Good!" he said. "Now tell me what happened! Where are the
two officers who were in the car? Were they hurt?"

"I--do not know," said Boris.

Fred had to strain his ears to catch what Boris said. Boris was weak and
exhausted, and Fred was glad that the German officer seemed kindly and
disposed to be humane.

"You do not know? How is that? You were in the car with them, weren't
you?"

"I was in the car, but I do not know what happened after the accident. I
was thrown out--and I did not know anything until you roused me just
now."

"But what were you doing in the car, then? Who were those officers?
Where were they going?"

"I do not know. I know only that I was walking along the road, because
all the people had been sent away from their homes, when the car
stopped, and a man told me to get in and sit low, so that I should not
be seen. Then we drove very fast and after a while there was a crash,
and I was thrown out."

"Can you walk?"

The German's tone had changed somewhat. It was anxious now, and puzzled.

"I--don't know," said Boris. "There is a pain in my leg--here, right
above the ankle. Ouch!"

Fred saw the German officer slip his hand down over the spot to which
Boris pointed, and his touch dragged the exclamation of pain from Boris.

"You can't walk, that's certain!" said the German. "You've got pluck,
boy! There's a nasty break there. You need a surgeon! Well, I'll have to
do what I can for you until we can find one. Can you stand a little more
pain? Niehoff, give me your emergency kit. You have the splints? So! I
shall see what I can do."

He was busy for a moment. Then with a sergeant, evidently his second in
command, he withdrew to be out of Boris's hearing. But as it chanced,
his movement brought him to a point where it was easier than ever for
Fred to hear everything he said.

"There is something deuced queer about this business!" said the officer.
"I think this boy is telling the truth, but we saw two officers in the
front seat of that car. That much was certain. They were not ground into
powder in the accident, you know. If they had been killed, there would
be something left of them. They got out all right--that's evident. And
they made themselves scarce. They must have known we would come, and if
they have gone so quickly, it is because they did not want us to see
them at close quarters."

"Spies, you think?" asked the sergeant.

"Evidently! But how they got here I'd hate to guess! They came from a
quarter where we are in complete control. Yet they stole one of our
cars, and a couple of uniform coats and helmets, at least!"

"We can look further for them," said the sergeant.

"Yes--and one might look a long time in a haystack before one found a
needle! However, let the men spread out along the road and see what they
can find. Give the order!"

Fred sighed with relief. He had been right in his decision to stay where
he was, as he understood fully when he saw the soldiers go off down the
road, looking for some trace of the passing of the two imaginary
officers. Meanwhile the officer went back to Boris.

"We'll take this lad back with us," he said to the sergeant. "He needs
attention, and I prefer to give someone in higher authority a chance to
talk to him. This is a very mysterious affair, all around. It is too
much for my brain!"

"And for mine, too!" grumbled the sergeant. "If I had my way, we would
have orders to shoot all suspicious characters first and find out
whether they deserved it or not afterward. I thought we should stop that
automobile when we saw it coming."

"And I did not," said the officer, sharply.

The sergeant said nothing more.

Soon the men returned from their fruitless search. Then a litter was
improvised and Boris was placed upon it and taken away. Fred had been
very fearful for it had seemed more than likely to him that a sentry
would be left to watch the wreck. If that had been done, it would have
complicated his position, because he could scarcely have hoped to get
out of his shelter without making some noise. But this was a precaution
that apparently did not suggest itself to the Germans.

And so, as soon as they were well out of hearing, Fred scrambled out,
leaving his dangerous coats and helmets behind, and began trudging
boldly along the road. He did not know the character of the wooded
section through which the road now ran, and it seemed to him that he
would be safer in the road than if he tried to walk under cover.

Fred was very tired. And, now that the excitement was fading, he was
beginning to realize that he had not escaped entirely scatheless from
the wreck of the car. Every bone and muscle in his body was sore and
aching, and he wondered how many black and blue spots he would find when
he got a chance to look for them.

By Ivan's reckoning, he had something like two miles to go to reach the
Russian outposts. He was now in a sort of No Man's Land that lay between
the two armies. And, indeed, before long, he saw fires twinkling
ahead--the fires of the Russians. That was as he came to the crossroad
of which Boris had spoken. It seemed that his troubles must be nearly
over. And just then he heard a clatter of hoofs and saw, riding up the
crossroad toward him, a troop of German Uhlans. He began running. But
they had seen him and gave chase. He dared not stop. On he ran, hoping
that the Russians were nearer than their fires.



CHAPTER XVII

AN OLD ENEMY


Suddenly over Fred's head there was a peculiar whistling. He had never
heard that sound before, but somehow he knew by instinct what it was. He
was under fire! Behind him were the shots, but the firing was wild and
at random. He plunged into the bushes now, for to do so was to choose
the lesser of two evils. He was fairly safe, so sheltered from the
bullets, since if they could not see him, the Uhlans would not be likely
to fire at him at all. And while it was certain that they could follow
him in and catch him if he stayed in the brush, he would delay them at
least, and the Russians were so near that they might hear the firing and
come up.

That came about even sooner than he had thought possible. He stopped,
panting. The Uhlans were close on his trail by this time, and he heard
them coming up. But then came a sudden shouting of orders, and, a
moment later, a furious fusillade that was answered from the Russian
side. Over the rattle of the firing, too, came a sound he remembered
well, though he had heard it only once before--the yelling of charging
Cossacks. For the second time the wild Russian horsemen had come to his
rescue in the nick of time!

But this time there was more of a fight, since the two little bodies of
horsemen were far more evenly matched than had been the case when
General Suvaroff had led his daring raid behind the German lines in the
effort to capture von Hindenburg. For five minutes the fighting was fast
and furious. Fred could hear the clash of steel against steel and the
spiteful spitting of revolvers and automatic pistols. Then the wild
Russian shout of victory arose, and he heard sounds of galloping fast
dying away. Even though he could see nothing, he knew which side had
won.

"Thank Heaven!" he said to himself. "I wonder if they couldn't chase
them and raid the culvert. There aren't so many troops there! Then we
could surely get Boris away from them."

But the first thing to do, of course, was to come out of his cover and
make himself known to his rescuers. There was a certain risk in even
that simple procedure, and Fred was not so carried away by the
excitement of the fight as to forget it. There was more than a chance
that if he broke out, the Russians would mistake him for some German who
had tried to escape by taking refuge in the brush, and that they would
shoot without waiting to make sure. But he had to take the chance, and
he minimized the risk as much as he could by tying his white
handkerchief to a stick and carrying it before him as he pushed his way
into the ditch.

He waved this as he emerged. At first no one saw him. Then a Cossack
spied him and sent his horse straight at him. Fred leaped aside as he
saw that the man meant to ride him down, and, shouting, waved his white
flag. He dodged the first assault, but the Cossack spun his pony around
in little more than his own length, and waving his dangerous lance, came
at him again. He shouted again, and waved his white flag harder than
ever. That would not have saved him, however, but just as the Cossack
lunged and Fred threw himself down, sure that he would either be speared
or trampled by the horse, an officer dashed up and struck up the lance
with his sword.

"Don't you see the white flag?" he roared. "We do not kill men who
surrender!"

"They say that the Germans are hanging every Cossack they capture," said
the man, sullenly.

"Never mind what they say!" said the officer. "Hello! That man is not a
soldier at all!"

"Neither soldier nor German!" cried Fred in Russian, springing up.
"Those Uhlans were chasing me! I have just escaped from the German
lines. I did not think that I should fare as badly among my friends as
among the enemy!"

"Nor shall you, friend!" said the Russian officer with a laugh. "So you
are a Russian? Well, you look as if you might be anything!"

"I'm afraid I do," said Fred, a bit ruefully. He could imagine, even
though he could not see himself, that the Russian was quite right. He
was caked with dirt. In the fall from the automobile, as he had
discovered while he was walking away from the wreck, he had sustained a
nasty cut over the eye, which, though it was not painful, had bled a
good deal. And this had made his appearance even worse than it had been
before. His clothes were torn, too.

"Who are you, and where do you come from?" asked the Russian.

In a few words Fred told his story. When he said that he had left Boris
Suvaroff a prisoner at the culvert, with a broken leg, the officer
started.

"Can't you go after him?" Fred pleaded. "They have very few men there.
You could sweep them away."

"Not with this force. And I should not dare to go so far without special
orders," said the officer. "We could not charge the culvert, and,
approaching it from this side, we should have to ride uphill. But I am
sure that when those in command know your story, a force will be sent to
rescue Prince Boris. Come with us now. I will get you a horse if you
are able to ride. The Uhlans left some behind!"

Fred could ride, and said so. And in a few minutes he was riding toward
the fires that twinkled before them, side by side with the Russian
officer, who was anxious to know all that Fred could tell him.

"That was splendid!" he cried enthusiastically when he heard how Fred
had discovered the real purpose of the Germans by his ruse in pretending
to be deaf and dumb. "And it means, too, that we will get some real work
to do here in this quarter. I thought at first that the army in the
north would get all the fighting. We have been sitting here for nearly a
week, doing nothing. This is the first skirmish we have had, for our
orders are not to bring on an action, but only to prevent the enemy from
coming toward us if they show any sign of attacking."

"If what I have heard is true, there will be an advance from this
quarter soon," said Fred. "If the Germans are to be outflanked, it must
be by the troops here. And that ought to mean as much fighting as anyone
could hope to get."

"That is what we are looking for," said the officer. "But you--you will
be glad of a rest for a time, I should think!"

"I want to get my cousin back," said Fred. "It was hard to leave him."

"It was the only thing to do. You saved his life as well as your own by
going. And one who saves a Suvaroff does a fine thing for Russia in
these days--if this Boris is like the rest of the breed."

"Oh, we have never known!" said Fred, suddenly remembering. "Did General
Suvaroff get back safely after he failed to catch General von
Hindenburg?"

"He did! He had less than a thousand men, and he rode for sixty miles or
more through a whole German army! He was intercepted but when he found a
German brigade lined up in his path, instead of trying to circle around
it, and so giving the Germans time to surround him, he cut right
through it!" answered the officer, smiling.

"That was splendid!"

"I don't think the war will show anything better!" said the Russian,
with enthusiasm. "He charged before the Germans knew that he was fairly
upon them, and the whole fight lasted less than ten minutes. Then our
fellows were through and riding for our lines. And the best of it was
that not more than fifty of our saddles were emptied. The Germans are
wonderful fighters, I believe. We shall have a hard time beating them.
But they fight too much by rule. A German cavalry commander would have
been brave enough to try to do that, but he would not have tried because
he would have known that it was an unsound plan."

"I wish Boris knew that his father was safe," said Fred, a little sadly.
"He has been worried, although he has said nothing."

"Eh--he might have known it! Yes, he got back safely enough. As to
whether he is safe now, that is another matter. He is in the thick of
the fighting around Gumbinnen, and he is not one of those generals who
stay in the rear. He is like Skobeleff. Have you heard of him?"

"He commanded at Plevna, against the Turks?"

"And in a good many other battles! Skobeleff, though he was in command
of the whole army, would insist always on being in the thick of the
fighting himself. He wore his white coat, and he rode a white horse. So
he was always to be seen by his own men and by the enemy. Perhaps he was
wrong, but soldiers will fight better for a general who shares their
perils. Skobeleff used to do impossible things, because he believed that
nothing was impossible that brave men made up their minds to do."

Fred thought of Russian generals in the war with Japan who might have
changed the whole course of that conflict had they had such ideas. But
he said nothing of this. Russian soldiers were mindful of that
disastrous war, he thought. And Fred had an idea that before this far
greater struggle was over, the world would have been forced to forget
the failures of Manchuria. Men who fought as he had seen Russians do
were not going to be beaten again.

Fred was mounted now on a big, rawboned horse that had lost its Uhlan
rider. He was so tired that he was swaying in his saddle, and the
Russian noticed this.

"Keep awake a little longer," he said, cheerily. "We haven't very much
further to go. In half an hour, I think, you can be in a real bed, with
sheets and blankets."

"I don't need anything like that," said Fred, rousing himself and
smiling. "I think I could sleep on a board that was studded with nails!
And I know that they could fight a battle all around me to-night without
waking me up when I once get to sleep."

"I'd like to let you stop here--we are within our lines now--but I know
the staff will want to see you and ask a few questions. And you have
done so much already for Russia that I believe you will want to do that
much more before you rest."

"Oh, a few minutes more or less won't make any difference!" said Fred.
He yawned hugely. "As long as I'm awake, I can make myself stay awake.
If I once let go, though, I promise you I'll be hard to rouse!"

There were more Russians about here than Fred had supposed. It was plain
that since Ivan had had any information as to the conditions here,
re-enforcements had been brought up, for it was not through outposts
that they were riding, but through a large body of troops. Tents
stretched in all directions and fires were numerous, dotting the fields
like stars. There were no woods here; it was open country again. To the
left Fred caught a glimpse of the silver sheen of a river reflecting the
starlight.

"How far are you going to take me?" asked Fred.

"To headquarters. We have less than half a mile to ride now. The
general will be glad to see you."

The Russian chuckled, and there seemed to be a hidden meaning in his
laugh. At any other time, when he was less weary, Fred would have
noticed that. He would have wondered at it, at least; he might even have
guessed its meaning. But now he only asked, quite idly: "Who is in
command of the troops here?"

"You will soon know," said the Russian, repeating his chuckle.

Fred did, indeed, soon get the answer to his question. They rode up to a
small farmhouse, ablaze with light, late as it was. The place was well
guarded. The Russian officer slipped off his horse.

"Wait one minute," he said. He went, and returned at once. Then he led
the way inside. And Fred, all weariness banished by the sight, stared
into the cold, evil eyes of Mikail Suvaroff, wearing his general's
uniform.



CHAPTER XVIII

THE GREAT WHITE CZAR


There was a moment of absolute, chilling silence; the sort of silence
that, in the old phrase, can be felt. For just an instant it was plain
that Mikail Suvaroff did not recognize the nephew he hated. But then he
knew him, and a flash of cold, malignant hatred lit up his eyes, while
his lips curved in a curious, sneering smile.

"So--it is you?" he said. "I thought I had not seen the last of you on
the platform at Virballen! Lieutenant, you may leave us."

"Yes, general," said the lieutenant who had rescued Fred. He was plainly
puzzled and confused. "I did not tell your kinsman that you were in
command here. I thought he would be delightfully surprised by being
confronted with you suddenly. But--"

"Exactly! You were quite right, lieutenant. And now you may leave us!"

The lieutenant flushed at the rebuke, saluted stiffly, and left the
room.

Fred was alone with his uncle.

"You are brave, at least," said Mikail, presently. "That will, perhaps,
be a comfort to you later. Yet you were not well advised to serve the
Germans as a spy. They have not been able to save you from me this time,
you see. It is not a case this time of the station at Virballen, with
the superiority of numbers on their side for the moment."

"It is your Cossacks who saved me from the Germans," said Fred. "I have
been a spy--but it has been in the interest of Russia. General Alexander
Suvaroff and his son can tell you that."

"Perhaps," said Mikail, his eyes and mouth fixed, so that no one could
have guessed what was in his mind. "It is strange that you feel forced
to call upon those who cannot say anything for or against you--since
they are in the hands of the Germans."

Inspiration came suddenly to Fred, and he said nothing. He gave his
uncle stare for stare.

"Well, what have you to say?" said Mikail, at last. "What defence have
you, spy?"

Still Fred said nothing, and he saw the veins in Mikail's hands swelling
with anger.

"So?" he said, when he understood that Fred would not speak. "Well,
there will be a way to make you talk, doubtless. I might have you shot
now--or hung. But you are my nephew. You shall have the fairest of
trials, for it must not be said that I did not see that you were well
treated!" He chuckled ominously. Then he raised his voice. In answer to
his call two officers came in.

"You will be held personally responsible for this prisoner," he said.
"He is to be sent at once to Grodno for trial as a spy. I will dictate
the process accusing him. Let him be dispatched in the morning, under
heavy guard."

The officers saluted. Then soldiers were called and Fred was led away.
From the first he realized the utter hopelessness of any attempt to
escape. He was in the midst of a great army. He could not hope, no
matter what happened, to get more than a few yards in any direction. Yet
even the thought of his peril did not keep him awake. No sooner was he
put in the guard room, where half a dozen soldiers were with him, than
he sank into a heavy sleep. He was too tired, in fact, to realize to the
full how serious the matter was.

But in the morning, when he was roused to partake of a meal, the full
and dreadful peril of his situation came over him. There was something
appalling about the way in which his guards looked at him. Most of all,
there was a terrible quality in the sympathy of the young lieutenant who
paid him a hurried visit.

"I did not know, of course," he said, quickly. "I should have had to
take you to him, just as I did, but I should have prepared you for what
was coming. I have heard something of the story. You have aroused the
general's hatred--and there are terrible stories of his power. Tell me,
is there anyone who can speak for you? It may be that I can get some
word to them--though it would cost me dear if Prince Mikail discovered
that I had done it."

"Boris Suvaroff and his father would help me," said Fred. "But Boris is
a prisoner, and so is Prince Alexander, if my uncle tells the truth! And
the American ambassador--though I suppose he could do nothing."

"I will do what I can. And remember that Dmitri Sazonoff is your friend,
and will believe always that you are a true friend of Russia. Good-bye!
You go to Grodno. There, unless there has been a change, are the
headquarters of the Grand Duke Nicholas Nicholavitch, who is in supreme
command of all our armies. You will be tried there by court-martial. I
wish it meant more--but count upon me for all that I can do."

It was still comparatively early when Fred began his journey to Grodno,
which was, as he knew, one of the concentration points of the Russian
army. The trip was begun in a great motor truck, empty now, which had
been used to bring food and ammunition to the front. It was one of a
long train of similar vehicles, and in it he rode to the border, where
he was transferred to a military train.

He was able on the trip to see what was going on, since no attempt was
made to keep him from doing so. And everything he saw served only to
impress him more and more with the utter hopelessness of his position.
The roads were choked with dense masses of advancing Russians. Troops,
horse and foot, hospital trains, ammunition and provision trains,
guns--all were moving up; evidently in preparation for the striking of a
heavy blow at the German power in East Prussia on a new line of attack.

For the first time Fred saw a country that was really in the grip of a
modern army. The swift movements of the German army around the Suvaroff
house had not given this impression. There were not so many Germans,
relatively speaking at least, and their movements were made with less
confusion and greater speed, owing to their possession of railways that
had been built with an especial view to their being used in time of
war.

Here the railways had all been destroyed by the Germans who had
retreated before the advancing Russians. In many places, too, fields had
been burned over, that the standing crops might not fall into the hands
of the invaders.

Fred almost laughed at the irony of the whole sight. It was because of
him that this movement was being made. At great risk to himself he had
obtained the information that had led to the sudden change in the
Russian plans, of which the great movement he saw was a part. He should
be receiving thanks and honors instead of being on his way to
headquarters as a prisoner of war, condemned, as he well knew, in
advance. For Fred had no illusions. He knew the power of Mikail
Suvaroff, who was so plainly an important member of the high Russian
command. Against so great a man his word would be valueless.

"This Russian army is like a steam roller," Fred thought to himself. "It
may be stopped here or there, but not for long. It will roll over this
whole country sooner or later. Well--I'm glad! Even if I've got to
suffer because my uncle hates me, it's not Russia's fault. I want Russia
to win."

His guards treated Fred well enough. He had an idea that he owed the
consideration he received to Lieutenant Sazonoff. He was quite sure that
General Mikail Suvaroff had nothing to do with it! And his journey,
which might have been one of acute discomfort, was made more than
tolerable.

It was late when the train in which he rode after the border was reached
arrived in Grodno. Here the army was in complete possession. Men in
uniform were everywhere; the civilian population seemed almost to have
disappeared. The din was constant. For hours, after he had been taken to
a cell in the central police station, he lay awake and listened. Guns
rumbled through the streets, motor cars chugged all through the night.
He was aroused in the morning by sounds of frantic, steady cheering, and
when the guard brought him his breakfast, he asked what that meant. The
man's eyes lighted up.

"The Little Father has come to be with his soldiers!" he said. "He has
come to give us his blessing and bid us fight for him and Holy Russia!
How can we lose now?"

"The Czar himself?" said Fred. He smiled. He had hoped, when he left
America, to see the Czar before his return. There was small chance of
that now, even though they were in the same town.

The Russians delayed as little as had the Germans in bringing him to
trial. And here in Grodno there was even less ceremony than there had
been in the dining-room of the East Prussian parsonage.

A young officer was assigned to defend him, but he took the task as a
joke.

"You'll be condemned, of course," he said. "Prince Mikail knows you are
a spy. I think you're very lucky that he didn't hang you outside of his
own headquarters! Better plead guilty. It will save time for everyone."

But Fred refused. Hopeless as the case was, he was still determined to
take every chance there was, and to fight for every minute of delay.
But the proceedings were soon over. The charge against him was read so
quickly that he could scarcely follow it. He was allowed to speak for
himself, but none of the officers of the court paid any attention to
him. The verdict was quickly found. And the president of the court was
just about to pronounce sentence when there was an interruption. Into
the room strode a man at whose entrance every officer started to his
feet, saluting. The newcomer jerked his hand to his forehead, answering
the salute, and then stood staring about.

Fred, had never seen such a figure. The man was a giant. He wore a khaki
uniform. He was nearly seven feet tall, but he was so magnificently
formed that it was only the way he towered over even the tall Russian
officers about him that his great height was apparent. Fred knew him at
once. It was the Grand Duke Nicholas.

"The court is dissolved!" he said, in a harsh, rasping voice. "I will
take charge myself of the prisoner. Boy, come with me!"

Utterly amazed, Fred obeyed. The Grand Duke seized his arm in a
vise-like grip and half pushed, half dragged him along with him. Fred
was too amazed even to wonder what had happened or what was to happen
next. He found himself being led into a room that was filled with
officers. They were grouped about one end of the room, where, near a
window, there stood a short man in a brilliant uniform. Fred gasped as
he recognized him. At the same moment the grip on his arm was loosened,
and the Grand Duke Nicholas swept off his cap.

"Your Majesty," he said, "this is the American boy of whom we have
heard. One who has done such things as he is charged with must hear his
fate from your own lips. He is charged by Mikail Suvaroff with being a
spy and a traitor. On the other hand--"

The Czar smiled.

"Thanks to our good Alexander, we know the truth," he said. "By your
kinship to the great family of Suvaroff, Frederick Waring, you are of
our kin. Were you a Russian, there would be another reward that we
might give you. But you own your father's nationality, though you have
proved that there is good Russian blood in your veins. It is our
pleasure to confer on you the order of St. Stanislas, with the crossed
swords, given for bravery only! Now you may go to the cousin who came
here in time to save you."

Dazed, Fred backed away, knowing only that he had not done the right
thing. A hand fell on his shoulder and he looked up into the eyes of
Boris's father.

"Boris is waiting for you," he said. "The mystery of Mikail's hatred for
you has been solved. He is quite mad--he has been relieved of his
command. I have long suspected this madness and now the whole world
knows it! Your trials are over, my American cousin!"

"But how was Boris rescued?"

"Your friend Lieutenant Sazonoff managed that. He got permission from
his brigadier to attack the railway. I shall see that he is promoted."





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