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´╗┐Title: Boy Scouts Mysterious Signal - or Perils of the Black Bear Patrol
Author: Ralphson, G. Harvey (George Harvey), 1879-1940
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 "Boy Scouts Mysterious Signal - or Perils of the Black Bear Patrol" ***

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BOY SCOUTS MYSTERIOUS SIGNAL

Or

Perils of the Black Bear Patrol

by

G. HARVEY RALPHSON



[Frontispiece: The Forces Finished a Brilliant Attack]



M. A. Donohue & Company
Chicago -------- New York

Copyright, 1916
M. A. Donohue & Co.
Chicago



CONTENTS


CHAPTER

     I. AN UNWILLING RECRUIT
    II. A FRIEND APPEARS
   III. OUT OF THE FLAMES
    IV. BURIED ALIVE
     V. A GUARD IN DISGRACE
    VI. A MYSTERIOUS SIGNAL
   VII. A SUSPECTED SPY
  VIII. FRUSTRATED PLANS
    IX. ABANDONING A REGIMENT
     X. AN EAGLE'S TALONS
    XI. THE FLIGHT OF THE EAGLE
   XII. TEMPTATIONS
  XIII. A GREAT SURPRISE
   XIV. BAFFLED PURSUERS
    XV. A BIT OF SCIENCE
   XVI. UNDER FALSE COLORS
  XVII. ACCUSED
 XVIII. PURSUIT
   XIX. LESE MAJESTY
    XX. CAPTURED
   XXI. ESCAPED PRISONERS
  XXII. HELD UP!
 XXIII. TABLES TURNED
  XXIV. A STERN CHASE
   XXV. ESCAPE



Boy Scouts Mysterious Signal

Or

Perils of the Black-Bear Patrol


AN UNWILLING RECRUIT

CHAPTER I

"But I say it's not fair!" cried a red-headed lad, drawing himself up
to his full height.  "You're not playing fair with us!"

"Ach, it is not so!" protested the one to whom the boy spoke.  "We find
you an enemy in our city, and you must take the consequences!"

"Just because you wear an officer's uniform," retorted the boy,
beginning to lose his temper and gazing fearlessly into the pale blue
eyes of the other, "is no sign you know more than we do.  You may think
that helmet and those stripes on your arm give you more brains than the
common run of people, but it isn't so!  I say I protest!"

"And much good your protest may do you at this time and place," was the
calm answer.  Then, drawing his eyebrows down until the blue eyes were
scarcely able to peer beneath them, he continued: "I, Heinrich von
Liebknecht, Captain in His Imperial Majesty's army in command of a
detachment sent forward to capture this city, have decided that it is
better that you remain with us.  There is nothing more to say."

"But there is a great deal more to say!" stormed the boy.

"Jimmie," cautioned another lad, stepping forward and laying a hand on
the arm of the red-headed boy, "perhaps it would be better to say no
more just at this time.  There must be some way out of this."

"Silence!" commanded the man who had called himself von Liebknecht.
"The decision has been made.  I leave you now, but will return in a few
moments.  By that time you will have said farewell to your friends and
be ready to accompany me for service under the Kaiser!"

The lad addressed as Jimmie could scarcely restrain a sneer as the
other finished speaking.  His contempt was unbounded, and he did not
seem to be making any great effort to conceal his emotion.

Just as the door was closing behind the departing man Jimmie permitted
himself to wrinkle his freckled nose in that direction and accompanied
the gesture with a motion indicative of great disgust and contempt well
known to many.

The scene was one unusual in the extreme.  Four young boys were
standing in a room from which the ceiling had been partly removed by an
exploding shell from a cannon.  They were in one of the houses that had
only partly escaped destruction during the bombardment of Peremysl by
the Germans on that memorable first day of June, 1915.

Three of the boys were about eighteen years of age and wore the
well-known uniforms of the Boy Scouts of America.  The eldest, Ned
Nestor, was slightly older than the others and wore insignia that
denoted his rank as patrol leader of the Wolf Patrol, New York City.

Jack Bosworth and Harry Stevens stood beside Ned, their uniforms
slightly the worse for wear, due to the extremely active experiences
they had just undergone.  These boys were members of the Black Bear
Patrol of New York City, and were fast friends of Ned Nestor and his
red-headed chum, Jimmie McGraw, the fourth member of the group.

Just now Jimmie was not wearing the Boy Scout uniform.  Instead he was
dressed in the uniform of a Russian Cossack, and this was the immediate
reason for the controversy that had arisen between the boy and the
German officer.  Those of our readers who have followed the adventures
of the boys as related in previous volumes of this series, and
particularly that entitled "Boy Scouts with the Cossacks, or Poland
Recaptured," will at once recall the exciting circumstances that
resulted in Jimmie's donning the Cossack uniform and the reason for the
presence of the four boys in Peremysl at this time.

Jimmie seemed to be too much overcome by his emotion at what he
considered rank injustice to be able to carry on rational conversation.

"I tell you, Ned," he sputtered, "just because I happen to have on some
clothes a little different from others they needn't think I'm any
different myself!  I'll fix his clock, all right!"

"Don't forget about using slang, Jimmie!" cautioned Ned, half laughing.
"But you see the German officer, von Liebknecht, is really more than a
little bit right at that."

"How's that?" inquired Jimmie in astonishment.

"They say clothes don't make the man," replied Ned, "but in a great
many cases clothes are like one's reputation--they play an important
part in other people's estimate of us.  In this case, for instance, the
Germans have just captured this city from the Russians.  You are
discovered wearing a Russian Cossack uniform, and they naturally and
almost excusably conclude that the wearer of the uniform is a subject
of the country it represents."

"Oh, I see," slowly replied the lad, nodding his red head.

"Yes, Jimmie," put in Harry Stevens, "you see it pays to 'Be Prepared,'
just as our motto says.  We never can tell just when we'll be required
to depend upon our reputation or our uniform for a favorable opinion
from those who see us or hear of us."

"That's all very well," interrupted Jack Bosworth, "but how are we to
get Jimmie out of this predicament?  General or Captain von Liebknecht
seems to think that he's going to make a German soldier out of Jimmie
just to keep him out of harm's way, and I don't like it."

"Perhaps we can find some of the other uniforms or clothes of some sort
for Jimmie to change into," suggested Harry eagerly.

Ned shook his head in a despondent manner.

"I'm afraid that wouldn't work, boys," he said presently.  "We would
only be caught at it and all tried for spies, and maybe find ourselves
in a worse predicament than we now are.  Perhaps the German officer
will listen to reason when he returns."

"Yes," scorned Jimmie.  "Perhaps the sun will shine at midnight, or
water will start running uphill, or something like that will happen!"

"You don't seem to have much faith in the German ability to change the
mind?" inquired Jack.  "Maybe this fellow'll be different."

"No, sir!" pursued Jimmie gloomily.  "The average German is a pretty
decent fellow in a great many ways, but when it comes to changing his
mind--why, it 'can't be did,' because it's impossible."

"Hush!" commanded Ned.  "Here he comes.  I'll talk to him."

But, though Ned endeavored by every art of conversation at his command
to influence the German Captain to change his mind, that individual
insisted that since Jimmie had been found in the captured city wearing
the uniform of a Russian Cossack he must be treated as one.  The only
alternative he would admit was that Jimmie must give evidence of his
claim that he was not a Russian by enlisting in the German army.

"So," decided the German, "you haf been to riding horses accustomed.
Goot.  You shall now ride a horse for der Kaiser, und," he added
meaningly, "you shall do it vell.  You may now say goot bye to dese
odder poys und come mit me.  Der oath ve vill administer."

Several soldiers fully armed, standing about, stepped forward at the
Captain's signal.  Placing themselves between Jimmie and his chums,
they advanced, fairly compelling the lad to accompany them.

Thunderstruck at the proceedings, but unable to render any assistance
to their comrade, the three lads watched Jimmie disappear through the
doorway.  Then, as they were left quite alone, they turned to one
another with an air of dejection.

"What shall we do, Ned?" inquired Jack presently.

"Yes, Ned," put in Harry, with something very like a catch in his
voice, "let's have your ideas.  You are always ready with some
suggestion in an emergency.  What shall we do?"

"In the first place, boys," answered Ned, "I'm mighty glad to hear you
ask questions like that.  It shows me that you are ready for action
instead of wanting to sit down and give way to despair.  I'm ready for
action this minute if I could only decide what should be done."

"I move we hunt around and find some guns and go hold that bunch of
Germans up and take Jimmie away from them!" said Harry impulsively.

"Do you suppose the Captain will make good on his threat of making
Jimmie enlist in their cavalry regiment?" asked Jack, ignoring Harry's
suggestion.  "If they do, can't he slip away some night?"

"What if he does?" inquired Harry.  "Where would he slip to, and where
shall we get to help him?  It seems to me that every minute counts now.
If they get him into a cavalry regiment they'll want to be on the move
right away.  At times like these, with Germany fighting the whole of
Europe, they can't afford to let a regiment remain idle."

"That's very true," nodded Ned thoughtfully.  "Germany has won a
victory over Russia, and that may relieve some of her forces in the
east, at least temporarily, until Russia gathers enough of an army to
make another assault.  In that case they might send the cavalry
regiment toward the western front in Prance or Belgium, where Germany
is meeting the French, English and other troops."

"Do you think they will make Jimmie go along and fight the allies?"
questioned Jack.  "If they do that, he may get killed."

"Perhaps that would suit the German Captain as well as anything else,"
observed Ned.  "It would save him the trouble and responsibility of
ordering the red-head shot immediately."

"Then in that case," continued Jack, "I second Harry's motion and hope
it is carried unanimously.  Let's get busy and get the boy."

"I think you are right," agreed Ned.  "Now, if we can have some plan of
action we'll be able to make more headway than without it."

"Right you are, Scout Master!" cried Jack.  "What is your plan?"

"Well," began Ned, glancing at his comrades, "it seems almost too bold
a thing to try just at first thought, but I can't think of anything
better than to try to get away from this place in the Eagle, and then
watch our chance to kidnap Jimmie from those fellows."

"A fine idea!" was Harry's almost cheerful response.  "Ned, there's
nothing too bold to try once, anyway.  Maybe we can get Jimmie out of
their hands.  If we ever do--"

Harry's clenched first, which he shook at the door out of which the
Germans had led Jimmie, spoke more eloquently than his unfinished
sentence.  Plainly he was ready for action.

"Let's slip out of here while we have a chance," suggested Ned.

"Just the thing!" agreed Jack.  "It's the best time we'll ever find.
The incoming army is pretty busy just now and won't see us."

With one accord the three lads moved toward the door.  Ned glanced
around the partially wrecked apartment in the hope of discovering
something that would be of use to them in their endeavor to help Jimmie
escape.  An object in one corner caught his attention.

As Ned stepped forward to examine the object he had seen, he was
startled to hear a cry from Jack, who had been looking from a window.

"Look!" cried the boy, pointing toward the street.  "They're actually
making Jimmie take an oath of enlistment!"

Quickly joining Jack, Ned and Harry saw Jimmie standing in the street,
surrounded by German soldiers wearing the uniforms of Uhlans.  Directly
behind the lad stood one of the soldiers with the muzzle of a gun
pressed against Jimmie's back.  Before him an officer stood, apparently
administering some form of oath.  The three boys could see Jimmie's
lips move in response to the prompting of the officer.

Directly the ceremony was ended and the soldiers turned as if preparing
to mount their horses, standing near.

"There's a bunch coming back to this house!" declared Jack.

"Wonder what they want?" mused Harry in a puzzled manner.

"I think they have decided they want three more recruits!"

"Good night!" was the lad's startled ejaculation.  "Let's go!"

"Come over here," directed Ned, springing toward a corner of the room.
"I think I've found something that will help us out."



CHAPTER II

A FRIEND APPEARS

Harry and Jack hastened to cross the room strewn with wreckage left by
the exploding shell.  Ned was already kneeling in the corner.

"What is it, Ned?" cried Jack excitedly.  "Have you got a gun?"

"No, not a gun," replied Ned in suppressed excitement, "but it may
prove more useful than a gun at this time."

"Oh, I see what it is!" was Harry's exclamation.  "Hurrah!  We may be
able to beat them out after all.  Hurry!"

"Huh!" scornfully put in Jack.  "Nothing but a trap door into the
cellar!  I wouldn't give much for that!"

Ned, without replying to either lad, was busily scraping away the
refuse from the corner.  Almost concealed by the litter, he had seen a
huge ring in the floor and, naturally concluding that it was fitted
into a trap door, had begun an investigation for the purpose of
discovering if the door led to a passage that might afford a means of
escape for the lads.  The proximity of the approaching soldiers made
their need of some haven of refuge an imperative one.

Presently Ned discovered the outlines of the trap door, which he had
correctly surmised to be in that spot.  The location of the debris
favored the quick plan that had formulated in Ned's fertile brain.  He
rose to his feet and gave a quick glance about the room.

Without wasting time or effort in conversation, the lad quickly pointed
toward a table that lay upturned not far from the trap door.
Signalling to his comrades for assistance, he darted toward the object
and began dragging it to a position directly over the trap door.

Jack and Harry, divining his intention, hastened to assist Ned.  Their
united efforts soon placed the table in position.  It was the work of
but a moment to raise the trap door and prop it up with a short piece
of wood from the wreckage strewn about.  Making the well-known signal
used by railroad men in the United States as a sign for a fireman to
shovel more coal into the firebox, Ned urged the others to descend into
the darkness that yawned mysteriously at their feet.

Jack was first through the opening.  He clung to the rim for a moment
with his hands.  Then he released his hold and dropped.

Harry and Ned, impatiently waiting for Jack to pass through the door,
heard him drop to a floor below and give a startled cry.  Then they
prepared to follow just as the tramp of many feet resounded through the
passage outside the room.  Harry slipped into the opening and in turn
dropped out of sight.  Ned followed feet first and for an instant hung
from the sill.

Grasping the stick that had been used as a prop, Ned gave a mighty
wrench backward and fell.  He said afterward that it seemed as if he
had taken a full week to drop from his position to the floor below.  In
reality the drop was not a great one.  The distance was, however,
greater than the height of any of the three boys, and explained their
inability to gain a foothold before releasing their hold upon the floor
above.  For a moment Ned was unable to regain his breath.

Presently he sat upright and began to search for his comrades.

"Jack, Harry!" he called softly.  "Where are you?"

"Here we are, Ned," came a whisper from the darkness that shut the boys
in on every hand.  "Can you see us?"

"Can't see a thing!" declared Ned.  "Where are you, anyway?"

"Stay right where you are and we'll be there in a moment," was Harry's
answer.  "This is one horrible place or I'm a Dutchman!"

"Come on, then, and be quick about it," urged Ned.  "I wonder if we
have dropped out of the frying pan into the fire," he added.

"Impossible," chuckled Jack, in spite of the seriousness of their
predicament.  "Where there's fire there's light, and I can't see a
single ray of light in this miserable place!"

"Hush, Jack!" cautioned Harry.  "Not so loud or they'll find us.  Can't
you hear them tramping about in the room above?"

Harry's question brought Ned and Jack to a realization of the fact that
the room they had so recently quitted was occupied by the soldiers from
whom they had tried to escape.  Footsteps echoed along the stout floor,
and the boys could hear sounds indicating that pieces of furniture were
being hurriedly overturned.

"Uh!" grunted Jack as he suddenly bumped into Ned.  "Wonder you
wouldn't blow signals when you're going to cross ahead of a fellow."

"Hush!" whispered Ned.  "They may hear us!  Let's wait a bit!"

All three boys drew close together.  They instinctively clasped hands
in the darkness, looking for some degree of comfort in the act.

The noises above them gradually lessened.  Presently they ceased
altogether, and the boys could hear footsteps clattering along the
floor in the direction they assumed the door to be.  Directly quiet
reigned in the place.

"They've gone, I guess," Ned said after a moment's wait.  "Now what
shall we do?  Shall we climb back into the house?"

"I move that we explore this apartment first," said Jack.

"Oh, no!" urged Harry.  "This isn't a nice place to go poking around
in.  We have troubles enough already without hunting more."

"What's your objection to looking the place over?" asked Ned.

"Rats!" was Harry's brief but expressive explanation.

"Rats?" queried Ned.  "What do you mean?  Are there rats here?"

"There certainly are, and lots of them," was the positive answer.
"When I dropped into this place I think I dropped onto one, and must
have crushed him before he had time to squeal.  I heard others running."

"We really ought to make a light," returned Ned.  "We can't tell what
the place is like without some way of seeing it."

"There's a light!" was Jack's sudden exclamation.  "See it over there
to the right.  Why," he added, "there are two lights!"

"And I see others!" cried Harry.  "I believe it's the eyes of the rats.
Perhaps they were frightened away and are coming back."

"Have you any matches?" asked Ned.  "I haven't a one with me.  It's
careless, I know, but not a match can I find in my pockets."

"Where's your searchlight?" inquired Jack.  "Haven't you that?"

"No; the Germans took that away from me when they searched us."

"I have two matches," said Harry, "but I don't want to waste them.
Perhaps it will be a long time before we get any more, and I feel that
we ought to save them if possible."

"Maybe we can find some stuff here dry enough to make a fire with, and
that'll give us light!" suggested Jack.

"Good idea!" responded Ned.  "The place feels dry enough."

"Let's keep hold of hands and move slowly about," put in Harry.  "In
that way we won't be separated and may find just what we want."

Acting on this suggestion, the boys clasped hands and moved slowly
about, feeling their way cautiously with their feet.  They seemed to be
in a cellar with a solid stone floor that had been made quite smooth.

"Here's something!" exclaimed Harry as his foot struck a small object.
"This feels like a piece of wood."

"Here's my knife; let's whittle some shavings," offered Jack.

In a short time the boy had succeeded in producing the desired shavings
from the board Harry had discovered.  Gathering these carefully in his
hands, he held them ready to receive the flame from Harry's match.  All
three lads eagerly gathered closer together as Harry prepared to strike
the match that would give them the desired ability to see.  Harry's
hand trembled a trifle in spite of his effort at self-control.  His
first effort was unsuccessful.

"Careful, Harry," admonished Ned.  "Better strike it on your shoe sole.
That makes a better match scratcher than your trousers."

"Correct!" observed Jack.  "And go easy," he added.  "We have only two,
you know.  If anything should happen, you understand--"

"Yes, I know," answered Harry.  "That's why I'm trying to be extra
careful.  I'm just as anxious for a light as you are."

"The rats are coming closer," observed Jack, a slight quaver
perceptible in his voice.  "I don't want them to start anything."

"All right now, Harry; lean on me a bit to balance yourself," urged
Ned.  "Make sure this time, and get it in your cupped hands."

"Here goes!" announced Harry, lifting one foot and striking the match
upon the sole of his shoe.  "Here comes the light!"

But, contrary to expectations, the light did not come, although the lad
tried again and again.

"Try the other match, Harry; maybe this one got wet somehow and won't
work," suggested Jack, stepping closer.

"I have tried them both," declared Harry in a faint voice.

"What's the matter, then?" demanded Jack excitedly.

"I guess they are those safety matches that will light only on the
box," was Harry's explanation.  "I haven't the box, either," he added
in a voice scarcely above a whisper.  "It's no go, boys!"

"Look through all your pockets," directed Ned, "and see if there isn't
a scrap of box left by oversight.  We must have a light!"

Frantically the three boys searched their pockets, but could discover
no shred or vestige of a box on which to strike the impregnated safety
matches held by Harry.  At length they gave up the effort.

"That's peculiar!" declared Jack with emphasis.  "Just think of all the
matches used every day in the United States by thousands and thousands
of people who never think of saving them.  We have used a whole lot of
matches ourselves needlessly, and now we want just one as badly as we
ever wanted anything.  It's fierce!"

"It surely is fierce," agreed Ned, "but we'll have to make the best of
it.  It seems peculiar, too," he went on, "that the rats haven't begun
anything.  They seem to be all about us."

"Yes, but they are not moving about very fast," observed Harry.  "Maybe
they 're afraid of us yet.  Let's make a noise and scare them."

"How shall we do it?" asked Jack.  "What will you make a noise with if
you haven't anything to use?  Tell me that!"

"Stamp on the floor good and hard; that'll scare them."

"All right; here goes!" agreed Jack, suiting the action to the word.

All three boys were startled at the result of Jack's stamping.  A
crackling sound was heard, followed by a tiny spurt of flame from the
floor under his foot.

"Easy there, easy!" cried Harry, dropping to his knees.  "That's just
what we wanted.  Don't move now, but give me those shavings!"

With trembling hands the lad took the shavings from Jack's hand.
Carefully shielding the tiny flame from possible draughts of air, the
boy held the point of one of the thin pieces of wood over the flare.
In a moment it had caught fire.  Licking up the curl, the flame
gradually leaped from one piece of wood to another until the entire
handful was ablaze.  The dancing light played upon the three faces and
sent a glow out into the surrounding blackness.  Harry deposited the
burning shavings upon the floor, where the fire was soon transmitted to
the larger piece of wood Jack had used in whittling.

As the boys saw that the matter of fire was assured, they glanced first
at each other, then let their gaze wander about the apartment.

"Goodness, the rats don't seem to be much afraid of fire!" exclaimed
Jack, pointing toward a horde of rodents swarming about the place.

"What's that on them?" asked Harry wonderingly.

"I declare it's red!" exclaimed Ned.  "It looks like blood!"

"Where'd they get blood from, I'd like to know!" protested Harry.

"There's only one answer to that just now, with all the dead and
wounded soldiers about," answered Ned, shaking his head.  "It's awful!"

"Let's get out of here as quick as we can," urged Jack.  "Come on."

With one accord the lads turned from the swarm of rats.

"Where are you going?" demanded a strange voice from the darkness.

"Who are you?" asked Ned, startled by the sudden question.

"Maybe I'm a friend," was the answer.  "Yes, I guess I am."



CHAPTER III

OUT OF THE FLAMES

When the soldier who had been holding his rifle at Jimmie's back
lowered the weapon and the ceremony of administering the oath of
allegiance to the Kaiser had been completed, the red-headed Boy Scout
who had been masquerading under a Cossack uniform breathed a deep sigh
of relief that but faintly expressed his sentiments.

In spite of the seriousness of the situation, Jimmie maintained a
mental reservation that little less than contradicted his words so
recently spoken.  He felt that it would be only policy to obey the
orders of those in superior force, since he could see no advantage to
be gained by a flat refusal.  His thoughts rapidly compassed the
situation, and he recognized the fact that the invading horde of
Germans were in no mood to consider dispassionately the matter of a boy
more or less who was found under the circumstances in which they had
discovered Jimmie.

Reluctantly, therefore, but because he thought it by far the better
plan, the lad had submitted to the course insisted upon.

During all the time that he had been repeating the words after the
officer the boy had been mentally conjecturing a means of escape
whereby he might rejoin his chums and be fairly sure of the escape of
the entire party from the hands of the army that had so recently
captured Peremysl and who were now engaged in bringing order out of the
apparent chaos that reigned.

Not until the searching party returned and reported to the Captain
their unsuccessful quest after his three comrades did Jimmie realize
that an effort was being made to apprehend them.

Then he began to believe that it was not the intention of the German
Captain to allow the boys to leave the country.  The thought was a very
disquieting one.  In entertaining it, Jimmie felt himself fully
justified in taking any possible course of escape.

"Well, my lad," began the Captain, addressing Jimmie in a not unkindly
tone, the while his blue eyes regarded the lad with an amused glance,
"now that you are a full-fledged Uhlan and your comrades are on their
way home, you will be fitted out with a new uniform by the proper
department.  See that you select a good strong one, for we have plenty
of rough work ahead of us.  Yes?"

"Very good, sir!" replied Jimmie with outward politeness, although his
heart was filled with rage at the thought of donning the German
uniform.  "I shall try to do well whatever I undertake."

"Spoken like a man!" declared the officer with a short laugh.

A brief order spoken in the German language to an orderly nearby
resulted in that individual signing to Jimmie.  Obediently the lad
followed his new guide.  Past groups of soldiers who were, by their
fair hair, round cheeks, blue eyes and general stocky build, members of
the German army, the boy and his conductor took their way.

Not far down the street they came upon several wagons in charge of a
commissioned officer, before whom the guide stopped with a very formal
salute.  After receiving a recognition of his salute the guide
explained his errand.  A laughing response greeted his explanation of
circumstances.  The officer called one of his aides, and the work of
outfitting the erstwhile Cossack began.

Jimmie discovered that the wagons were veritable stores on wheels, and
was greatly surprised at the neatness and order with which the large
assortment of goods were disposed.  No difficulty was experienced in
securing clothing of the proper dimensions, and Jimmie soon stood forth
to all external appearances as loyal and brave a Uhlan as ever followed
the banner of the Emperor or stuck a lance into a dummy at riding
exercise.  He could not restrain a laugh at the peculiar round cap that
was fitted to his head.

"Now I'm hungry!" he declared as he surveyed himself in his new
regalia.  "Where's the eats?" he asked of the guide.

A stare from a pair of pale blue eyes was the only response.

"I say," began Jimmie in a louder tone, "I haven't had anything to eat
for a long time.  I'm hungry!" he finished in a shout.

Another stare and a nod of the head greeted this outburst.

"Aw, come off!" was Jimmied disgusted sally.  "Where are your ears?
Wake up!  It's six bells and the cook has struck.  Here--"

Seizing the guide by the sleeve, Jimmie shook his finger under the
other's nose for attention.  Then he repeated his old-time universal
sign language denoting hunger.

The guide followed with great interest Jimmie's motion of pointing into
his open mouth and gazed delightedly at the patting of the stomach.
Apparently, however, he could discover nothing amiss with the belt
buckle or any of the accoutrements that adorned the person of the
new-found recruit.  He shook his head in a negative way.

"Oh, you mutton-head!" scorned Jimmie.  Then, recalling the few words
of German he had learned in haphazard fashion, he began again, pausing
between each word to give emphasis to his request.

"Ach, Ich say, old scout," he stated, "Ich would like some brodt haben,
und sauer kraut, und wiener wurst, and kaffee, and pumpernickel, und
kaffekuchen, und Kolbfleisch, und--oh, whatever you have handy."

A smile slowly spread over the face of the guide as he began to
comprehend Jimmie's meaning.  He nodded vigorously.

"And I say, dumbhead, Heute Ganse Braten!" Jimmie added vigorously.
"There!" he declared in an undertone, "I know I saw that sign in Dick
Stein's restaurant on the north side in Chicago one time when I was
there, and I asked the man what it meant.  He said it was German for
'We have roast goose to-day,' and I'd like a little of that, too."

"So-o," drawled the guide.  "Und you haf been by Stein's restaurant?
Yes?  Vell, I vas waiter dere for two, tree year.  It is a nice blace."

"You rascal!" shouted Jimmie.  "You understood me all the time.  Why
didn't you let me know you understood English at first?"

"Maype I didn't understand," the other stated simply.

"Maybe you didn't, and again maybe you did," retorted the lad rather
tartly.  "If you keep on playing your monkey shines on me, you'll get
me sore pretty soon, and I'll be tempted to cloud up and rain all over
you.  And there'll be considerable dunder und blitzen along with the
cyclonic disturbance in the atmosphere," he added.

"All right," was the calm response.  "You iss hungry.  Maybe you vant
someding to eat.  Yes?  Or maybe not?"

"Great frozen hot boxes!" cried Jimmie in a despairing tone.  "I don't
see how, with all the scarcity of ivory in the market, the billiard
ball makers let you roam about at large so long.  Why," he added with
rising indignation, "you're giving the exact symptoms of a chap who is
ossified from the shoulders to the sky!  Of course I want to eat, and
I'd be de-lighted to perform that simple operation now."

"But to eat before mess, it is verboten," declared the guide.

"Say," retorted Jimmie, "just let me have your name and the address of
any relatives you want notified in case of accident.  Something is
going to blow up pretty soon, and when the explosion is over they'll go
around with a sponge to gather up the pieces of the innocent
bystanders.  Among those present was a former waiter at Dick Stein's."

"Ach, yes," slowly replied the other.  "My name iss Otto von
Freundlich.  In America I am called Friendly Otto.  It iss so in der
telephone book.  Names iss backwards put down."

"Well, if you'll just be good enough to get me one of those nice large
German pancakes that we used to get at Stein's, with a couple of cups
of coffee and a little 'T' bone steak well done, with some fried
potatoes and a side order of cauliflower in cream, some cold slaw, a
little lettuce, some lentils, and a small platter of sauer kraut, I'll
try to worry along until mess time.  Can't we eat at all?"

"No, not all of dot," soberly responded Otto seriously, evidently
believing that Jimmie intended to eat everything he had mentioned.

"Then for pity's sake tell me what I can have.  I'm getting so hungry I
could almost eat the wheels off this wagon."

"Maybe a little soup und some rye bread?" replied Otto inquiringly.

"That listens good to your Uncle Dudley," was Jimmie's response in a
somewhat mollified tone.  "Lead me to it and I'll do the rest."

"Come," directed Otto, starting away and beckoning the lad to follow.
"Come; der cook maybe has something good for hungry soldiers."

Jimmie followed with much interest, taking note of everything as he
went along.  Here he saw a group of soldiers resting after some
evidently heavy work.  There another group were arranging their
accoutrements and polishing their weapons as they rested in the shade
of a broken wall that had withstood the heavy hammering of the immense
German guns during the days of bombardment of the city.

Wagons were drawn up along the side of the street, gasoline trucks were
darting hither and thither on various errands, while small groups of
horsemen were constantly passing to and fro about the town.

Everywhere was activity, indicating to Jimmie that not only were the
Germans investing the city and preparing it for their occupation, but
that other preparations were under way.  This could only mean to the
lad that the commander of the invading forces was preparing to press
the advantage he had gained by following the Russian army he had driven
from Peremysl and attempt to administer a crushing blow.

"What is all this bustle about, Otto?" he asked presently.

"Ach, I know not," was the reply.  "Und if I should know, it is
verboten that I should say.  You will discover in good time."

"That's all right, but I'll bet my last year's hat that you know pretty
well what's going on if you'd only talk a bit."

"That is perhaps so and perhaps not so," replied Otto.

"All right; I vote yes on the amendment," persisted Jimmie, feeling
that by a little maneuvering he could learn something from his guide.
"From what the Captain said while we were in the house and you were on
the street, I understand that your regiment will be one of the first to
be tolled off to pursue the Russians.  Maybe he'll send me with them.
I do hope so, for that will give me a chance to get a whack at them in
payment for the hard treatment I received."

"Ach, nein!" protested Otto, evidently endeavoring to set Jimmie right.
"My regiment is to return.  We have done our work here."

"I thought so all the time," muttered Jimmie.  "You may have been in
America a while, but you haven't got wise to the great game of 'bluff'
the Americans pull off once in a while.  You're easy."

"What is dot?" inquired Otto.  "I did not hear what you say."

"I say," replied Jimmie in a louder tone, "I'm hungry.  I want
something to eat, and I'm curious to know what is in that bundle you
are carrying so carefully.  Is it dynamite or something?"

"Nein; it is the Russian Cossack uniform you wore.  I shall burn it
when we arrive at the kitchen you see ahead of us."

"Oh, so you don't like Cossack uniforms any better than I do."

"It is orders," was the German's simple statement.

"Well, here we are at the cook's place," announced Jimmie as the two
drew near a movable kitchen equipment in the street.

A few words addressed to the person in charge of the kitchen brought
forth a smiling response.  In a moment Jimmie was supplied with a small
dish of nourishing stew of cabbages and beans.

He devoured the contents of the dish with an appetite, and gladly
accepted the cup of black unsweetened coffee that was tendered.

"Thank you!  That was just like mother used to make!" he said as he
returned the empty dish and cup.  "I'll see you again."

Jimmie stepped back a pace, preparing to follow Otto, presuming that he
would lead the way to regimental headquarters.

As he glanced about in search of his guide he discovered the German
stuffing the discarded Cossack uniform into the furnace underneath a
huge kettle.  With a startled cry Jimmie grasped frantically at his
breast.  Then he darted forward and snatched the clothing from the fire.



CHAPTER IV

BURIED ALIVE

"Well, if you're a friend, step forward and let us see what you look
like," challenged Ned, turning in the direction from whence the strange
voice proceeded.  "You needn't be afraid to show your face."

"I'm not the one who is afraid," was the reply.

"We're not afraid, if that's what you mean," retorted the lad.

A chuckle from the newcomer was the only response.

"Are you coming forward?" asked Ned in a rather impatient tone, for his
experiences of the last few moments had been enough to cause him to be
slightly irritable.  "I'd like to see you."

As the lad spoke he peered eagerly toward the blackness surrounding
himself and his chums.  Owing to the faintness of the flame from their
small fire, the darkness lying about them like a dense pall was too
great for his eyes to pierce.  Try as he might, he could not
distinguish even the faintest outline of the stranger.

"If you are afraid of the rats or the Germans you might step over this
way and we'll go to a more convenient and pleasant place.  This isn't a
cheerful spot," was the stranger's suggestion.

This invitation was received in silence by the three boys.

"Of course," the other continued, "if you prefer to remain here and
talk it over with the rodents, I have no objections."

"Perhaps we would rather take our own way out of here," Ned stated with
little friendliness in his voice.

"Perhaps," was the dry response from the utter darkness.  "But," went
on the stranger, "you'd have a beautiful time doing it.  There's only
one way out of this place except by the trap door through which you
came.  Unless you're regular little derricks you can't move all that
rubbish piled on top of the trap door, and you'd not be apt to discover
the underground exit if you had the eyes of a hawk and an electric
light plant besides.  Better come along."

Ned had not relaxed his clasp on the hands of his companions, and now
drew them closer to him.  In a whisper he asked:

"What do you think, boys?  Shall we do as he suggests?"

"Might as well," said Jack.  "We can't be in much worse case than we
are now, and those rats might get good and ugly when they get wise to
our being here.  I move we follow him."

"Second the motion, unless you've got a better suggestion," added
Harry.  "This place is getting on my nerves.  Let's go."

"I rather feel as if we ought not to go with this fellow unless he's
willing to show himself and let us get an idea who he is," Ned stated
in a hesitating way.  "Perhaps you boys are right, but I don't feel at
all easy about it.  Maybe he's trying to get us into a trap."

"That's so," agreed Harry.  "At least if we remain where we are we'll
be no worse off than we would have been without him."

"You're right there," put in Jack, "but on the other hand we're in a
bad fix, and Jimmie's outside and needs us.  This fellow's coming may
be just the chance for escape that we are wanting.  Suppose we follow
him as he suggests and all the while remember our motto to 'Be
Prepared.'  Wouldn't that be the proper course?"

"I guess you're right, Jack," Ned said with a sigh.  "Perhaps I'm wrong
about it.  I don't want to overlook a chance to help Jimmie and get
back to America.  I'll withdraw my objections."

"All right, then, let's get started.  Tell him so."

"Are you there?" Ned called out in a louder tone, addressing himself
toward the place from which the stranger's voice had come.

"I am for a minute," answered the other.  "But I'm going now.  If you
care to come with me I'll be glad to take you out of here."

"Where will you take us?" asked Ned, reluctant still to follow.

"That's something I cannot say right now.  You'll find out."

"All right," consented the boy, starting forward.  "But remember," he
cautioned, "we shall not relish anything in the way of tricks."

"Suspicious still, I see," laughed the other.  "Well, follow this
light, and be careful how you step.  There may be irregularities in the
floor that you'll have to discover for yourselves.  It won't be safe to
do any talking for a while.  The Germans are watchful."

The three boys were startled to observe a circle of light appear upon
the stone floor of the apartment at some little distance from the spot
where they were standing.  It appeared to emanate from an electric
searchlight held in the hands of the stranger.

Ned took a step toward the light.  Jack and Harry did likewise.  Their
surprise increased as they observed that the light moved along the
floor at a pace about equal to their own.

Ned thought that he could faintly discern the feet of the person
carrying the light, but was unable to learn anything of the character
of the person.  He was torn between his desire to escape from the
apartment and the wish to learn the identity of the stranger.

Only a few steps had been taken by the stranger before the light was
extinguished.  Instantly the three boys halted.

"S-s-sh!" came a warning hiss.  "Be mighty careful now of your
conversation and your footsteps.  Keep as quiet as possible and follow
me closely.  We are all in extreme danger!"

In spite of his efforts at self-control, Ned's muscles trembled and he
found it difficult to walk steadily.  Assuming that his chums were in
like plight, the lad summoned all his courage and reached out a
reassuring hand to the others.  The contact with his friends seemed to
restore the equilibrium that had been Ned's most valuable asset in
times of stress and danger in his many adventures.

Long afterwards the boy declared that in all his experiences that
compassed many strange and hazardous enterprises in the United States,
Canada, Mexico, the Philippines, China and other countries he had never
felt so keenly the need of aid as he did at that moment.

Not for long, however, were the boys permitted to consider the peril of
their position.  Almost instantly they heard a faint grating sound
directly in front of them.  A cold draught of damp, musty air struck
their faces, and they understood that a door had been opened into some
other apartment.  The odor of the incoming air told them plainly that
the next apartment was also underground, and they surmised that it had
not recently been occupied.

"Come!" was the command borne to their ears in the faintest of whispers
from the person leading the way.

Unhesitatingly the lads advanced.  Jack had taken but a couple of steps
before he collided with some solid object.  The shock of contact
brought forth a grunt of surprise.  At the same moment Harry went
through a similar experience.  Ned met no resistance and nearly lost
his hold of the others before he recovered his balance.

"Gee!" Jack whispered, "I've hit a wall!"

"Here, too!" put in Harry, lowering his whisper to a mere breath.

"Single file, lock step," directed Ned.

Jack and Harry fell in behind their Scout Master obediently, and the
little party began groping its way along.  Ned reached out a hand on
either side as he went forward.  His hands came in contact with walls
that appeared to be made of stone.  The dampness had gathered in great
drops on the surface.  A slime had been deposited that made Ned shudder
as he felt it.  He knew, however, that this was no time to permit an
interruption through squeamishness.

There was now no guiding light in advance, and the boys cautiously
picked their way along the stones, with Ned feeling every inch of the
way before he set his foot down.  Directly the lad heard another
warning hiss.  This time the sound was closer than formerly.

"Put your hand on my shoulder," came the whispered command.

Ned followed this instruction immediately.  He judged by the height to
which he raised his hand to rest it upon the other's shoulder that the
stranger was a person of about his own build.  His sense of touch also
told him that the other's clothing was of a material similar to the
khaki uniform he himself was wearing.  A faint odor of gasoline and
grease assailed his nostrils, particularly distinguishable because of
the damp air in which the party was traveling.

Suddenly the boys were startled by the sound of an explosion that came
faintly to their ears.  The earth in their vicinity trembled.

"What's that?" asked Ned in a whisper.  "What's going on?"

"Hush!" replied the guide.  "The Germans are making some improvements
in the town.  They are blowing down some dangerous walls.  Now keep as
quiet as you can and follow me.  We'll have to hurry!"

Ned made no further attempt at conversation, but obediently gave his
entire attention to following the strange person in advance.

Before the little party had traversed the passage to any considerable
distance they heard several other explosions similar to the first.  One
particularly louder than the others was followed by the sound of small
pieces of rock tumbling from the roof and walls of the passage.  Ned
pressed still closer to his guide, while Jack and Harry needed no
urging to make them crowd up to Ned in their impatience.

Not far from the point where the boys had noticed the pieces of rock
falling the guide turned a corner abruptly.  Ned wondered how he was
able in the intense blackness to distinguish so accurately the spot for
making the turn, but refrained from making any comment.

As he followed the guide around the corner the lad's foot struck
against an object lying on the floor.  A metallic ring from the object
he had kicked caught the lad's attention.  Slipping his hand quickly
down the other's back in preparation for a movement to pick up the
object, Ned was surprised to come in contact with a belt.  He was
startled to observe that the belt was filled with cartridges.

Without stopping to comment upon the circumstance, Ned stooped quickly
with hand outstretched.  His fingers came in contact with the object
his foot had struck.  He instantly recognized it to be an automatic
pistol.  Restraining his impulse to cry out, the lad shifted the weapon
in his hand to a grip that would permit him to use it in case such a
move was necessary.  He straightened up at once.

Scarcely had the boys taken another dozen steps before they heard the
voices of a number of men, all apparently endeavoring to talk at once
and using a language that was unintelligible to the lads.

Greater caution, if possible, was now used by all in their negotiating
the dark passage.  A few steps farther on carried them past the place
where the voices had been heard.  Ned breathed a sigh of relief as the
voices died away in the distance.

Presently the guide halted.  He turned to a position where he could
face Ned.  Still speaking in a whisper, he said:

"We are not out of danger yet, but I'll thank you to let me have that
automatic you picked up back there.  It's mine!"

"Come on, now, hand it over," continued the other.

"Where did you get it?" whispered Ned.  "Can you prove what you say?"

"Of course I can!" replied the other.  "I'm a bird man, and that is
part of my equipment.  You have no right to it!"

A louder detonation than any they had heard yet drowned Ned's reply.
The walls in the passage seemed shaking as if about to fall.  From the
passage in their rear came shrieks and groans.  An odor of sulphur came
blowing upon their backs.  A crashing and grinding noise filled the
air.  Jack and Harry closed in upon the others.

"Let's get out of here as quick as we can," urged Ned.

"We're at the end of the passage!" declared the guide.  "That blast has
probably filled the corridor back of us with rubbish.  Unless we can
dig a way out of it, we're buried alive!"



CHAPTER V

A GUARD IN DISGRACE

Jimmie's momentum carried him toward the camp kettle with such violence
that he was unable to check his speed.  He could only swerve his course
enough to avoid actually falling into the open door through which fuel
had been fed.  Unfortunately, however, the lad lost his footing and, as
he fell, thrust a hand against the hot iron.

"Ow, wow!" yelled Jimmie, as he rolled over the ground, dragging with
him the already burning Cossack uniform.

"Here, here!" shouted Otto, rousing from his phlegmatic attitude and
springing forward in Jimmie's direction.  "Leave dot alone!"

Jimmie rose to his feet nursing his burned hand and casting a glance of
extreme disgust toward his new-found friend.

"What business have you got burning up my clothes, I'd like to know!"
he indignantly began.  "You big sauer kraut eater.  You don't seem to
know that clothes cost money and that these clothes were presented to
me by the Imperial Czar of Russia!"

"Dot makes no difference about dot Russian bizness," answered Otto
doggedly; "my orders iss to burn dot uniform, und dot's chust vot I'm
going to do.  Maybe you would like to watch me."

"Yes, I'll watch you," Jimmie stated aggressively, his face flushing
until the freckles were scarcely distinguishable.  "You can burn the
old uniform as fast as you like, but there is something in it that I
want before you start the conflagration."

Otto stretched forth a hand in an effort to wrest the already charred
and smoldering garments from The Wolf.  He evidently intended to take
matters strictly into his own hands and obey orders to the letter,
regardless of Jimmie's wishes in the matter.

Jimmie just as resolutely intended to have his own way about the
matter, although he had no objection to the ultimate burning of the
discarded insignia of the gallant troop he had at one time joined.

Although suffering keenly from the hand that had come in contact with
the iron and that would be giving him pain for some time, Jimmie
directed his attention to a search of the garments.  He thrust his
uninjured hand into one pocket after another, frantically groping for
some object.  Directly he gave a glad shout and withdrew his hand,
clutching a small packet from which a loop of heavy cord hung.

Otto had lost some of the zest with which he had been imbued when he
first raised an objection to Jimmie's action.  His sluggish nature had
dominated his movements, and now he moved forward with the ponderous
motions of the average German agriculturist, although it was plain to
the observers standing about that nothing short of a superior force
could deter his progress or swerve him from his course.

"I've got it!" shouted Jimmie gleefully as he grasped the packet and
attempted to gather up the scattered garments.

"Yes," put in Otto, in a voice which betokened his rage because his
beloved orders had not been obeyed, "you haf got it, und now you will
get someting else!  I have someting for you right here!"

"You're welcome to the uniform now," was Jimmie's response.  "I'm
through with the uniform, and I hope with the Russian army."

"Maybe so," stated Otto, growling forth the words in a tone resembling
the greeting usually given a tramp by a bulldog, "but you ain't through
with the German army, by a long shot!"

"Oh, the German army ain't so much," scorned Jimmie.  "I've seen lots
of armies that could tie you Dutchmen into knots."

"Yes, they could--not!" derisively put in Otto, with an air that he had
evidently picked up during his experience on the north side of Chicago.
"You wait; I will show you someting!"

Jimmie's interest in the packet had absorbed his attention to such an
extent that he had not noticed the approach of the German, and it was
not until Otto's great arms surrounded his form that the boy realized
his danger.  He had considered Otto merely as a guide, and had not
thought it possible for him to act in any other capacity.  Now he
understood that the German intended to do him bodily harm, if possible.
Quickly as the realization of his danger flashed through the boy's
active mind, he began to plan a means of escape.  He well understood
that, struggle as he might, his strength would be far less than that of
his antagonist, and he knew that, in order to escape, he must resort to
his knowledge of wrestling and boxing.

Although compelled to think and act quickly in the emergency, a
recollection of Ned Nestor's training and the drills to which he had
subjected his fellow Boy Scouts flashed across Jimmie's vision.

Otto's arms had encircled Jimmie's form and were slowly tightening in a
python-like constriction that forced Jimmie's organs upward into his
ribs and shut off his heart action.  Again Jimmie recalled vividly his
experiences in trying to break a "body scissors" on the mat, This time,
however, he cast aside the rules of conduct that forbid fouls and
determined to free himself at whatever cost.

Otto's surprise at feeling Jimmie's heels gouging up and down his shin
was exceeded only by his astonishment at receiving a blow on the chin
from Jimmie's red head.  Butting in a fight was a part of "the game"
that the former newsboy had picked up in his encounters on the Bowery
when protecting his corner from other vendors.

Long since discarded, the accomplishment now served Jimmie well, and he
used it effectively, not forgetting to keep one foot in action as he
industriously pegged away at the foot upon which his heel had first
landed.  Jimmie believed thoroughly in the old adage that 'continual
dropping will wear away a stone.'

Black specks began to float slowly across Jimmie's vision and his
breath seemed to have left his body.  In place of lungs the boy felt he
had only a great raging furnace.  His foot began to be heavier and
heavier.  He was about to give up in despair.

Without warning, Otto released his grasp to fling Jimmie from him as he
stepped backward to escape the onslaught of kicks and blows from
Jimmie's active head.  As he released the boy he aimed a vicious swing
that would have done a great deal of damage had it landed.

Luckily for the red-headed Uhlan, his feet became tangled in the
remnants of the discarded and partly burned uniform that had been the
innocent cause of the battle.  Just as Otto aimed the blow at Jimmie's
head the boy stumbled and fell backward.

There flashed to the lad's mind the thought that the Russian uniform
had been the means of saving him from a most unwelcome hurt.

Perhaps one of Jimmie's most lovable qualities was the ability to see
and appreciate a joke, no matter what the time or circumstances.  This
quality so dominated the lad that his comrades often declared he would
laugh at his own expense even when he was hungry.  Just now he was so
impressed with the absurdity of the uniform's being the cause of his
trouble and the means of his escape that he laughed aloud.

Unnoticed by either of the contestants, a considerable number of the
cooks and "kitchen police" had gathered to witness the difficulty
between the two.  These bystanders now offered words of encouragement
in an effort to prolong the battle.  It seemed that the dominating
spirit of battle had not been satisfied during the several days of
awful history-making struggle between the armies around the stricken
city.  The bloodlust was strong in their souls.

Jimmie heard their cries, although he could not distinguish the words
they used, nor could he have understood them had he done so.  He
realized that Otto would probably hear and understand, and that for
very shame, if for no other reason, the other man would return to the
conflict.  He therefore drew a deep breath and braced himself for the
expected advance.  Something warm and wet seemed to be trickling down
over Jimmie's face.  He put up a hand to wipe it away.  The hand came
away wet and sticky.  To Jimmie's astonishment the hand was red.

A roar of rage assailed his ears, and Jimmie turned just in time to
duck under a mighty swing.  Angered at the persistence displayed,
Jimmie let fly a stinging hook that fell short of its intended mark.
Instead of landing on Otto's chin, as he had purposed, Jimmie flung his
fist full upon the "Adam's apple" of his antagonist, bringing forth a
gurgling squawk that afforded merriment to the bystanders.

He lost no time in following up his advantage.  Quickly springing
forward, he landed a shower of blows, each one in a telling spot about
Otto's head.  The lad's ire was fully roused, and he entered into the
matter of administering punishment with a zest.

Handicapped by his lighter weight, the boy could not hope successfully
to cope with the burly German on anything like an equal footing, and
consequently determined to press the advantage to the utmost, hence he
wasted no blows, but made every one count.

Eager to administer what he considered ample punishment, yet wary and
cautious, the lad gave his entire attention to his effort.  He was
looking for an opening through which he might slip a "knockout," and
gave no heed to the events transpiring about him.  Hence he did not
notice the approach of a small party of officers until he felt a hand
laid heavily upon his shoulder and a voice spoke in his ear.

"So, this is the way my soldiers behave when I am not present!" Jimmie
heard the man say.  He turned to gaze at the newcomer.

"Captain von Liebknecht!" he gasped in utter amazement.

"The same," replied the officer who had first interviewed Jimmie in the
partly ruined house.  "It seems to me," he went on in a severe tone,
his pale blue eyes narrowing to mere points, "that my recruits might be
in better business than trying to spoil my veterans!"

For a moment Jimmie forgot to be respectful.  The old spirit of Bowery
repartee, so long held in leash and thoroughly muzzled by Ned Nestor's
training and Jimmie's own self-control, had broken bonds, and now
showed itself upon the surface without restraint.

"You can't spoil a bad egg, Captain!" was the impertinent response.
"This fool Dutchman got too gay and I just put him into the clear!"

"Silence!" roared von Liebknecht.  "No reply is necessary."

"Well, I made one just the same," was Jimmie's undaunted retort.

"So I observe," remarked the officer, "and for that you shall be
punished.  It shall be my pleasant duty to see that you get your full
share of regular work, and in addition I shall assign you to the
delightful position of assisting the police detail."

"But I'm not big enough to be a policeman," objected Jimmie.

A smile spread over the face of the officer as he observed:

"That is your misfortune, not mine.  If you had been so fortunate as to
be a German, you would have been much bigger and perhaps more
respectful.  You will please remember in future to be at least civil."

Jimmie began to realize that it would not be to his advantage to
continue the conversation, especially in the spirit already shown.  He
therefore drew himself up to his full height and gravely saluted, using
the well-known Boy Scout form, with thumb and little finger touching
and the other three fingers extended vertically, palm outward.

The action seemed to please von Liebknecht immensely, although he would
not alter his decision in the least.  A rapidly spoken order to an aide
standing near resulted in Jimmie's being hurried away in the direction
of the camp where the Uhlans' horses were quartered.

He thought he saw the wings of an aeroplane resting in an open space.
Forms were moving about the plane.  Jimmie started.

The lad began moving his arms as if stretching himself or going through
a sort of setting-up exercise.  Again and again he repeated the
movements.  A smile lighted the freckled face.



CHAPTER VI

A MYSTERIOUS SIGNAL

"Good night!" ejaculated Harry, as the guide finished speaking.  "You
certainly have got us into a tight box now!"

"That's what I say," put in Jack, "you're a fine one!"

"Let me have your searchlight," commanded Ned, retaining his grasp on
the other's cartridge belt, "hand it over quickly."

"I'll run the searchlight myself," declared the unknown in a crisp
tone.  "You've got my gun and I guess that's enough!"

"Yes, and I know how to use it, too," replied Ned.

"There, there, Ned, this isn't any time to start arguing," urged Jack,
pacifically, "let's get out of here first of all."

"Second the amendment," laughed Ned, controlling himself with a slight
effort, "I've got this fellow dead to rights, and if he will only help
us with his searchlight, we will try to get outside quickly."

"Well, he's going to help us," volunteered Harry.  "I'll see to that.
Just notice this big rock I am holding."

"Don't get excited, hoys," urged the stranger.  "I'm doing everything I
can to get all of us out of this mess.  Our troubles all came about
simply because of the fact that we were not 'Prepared.'"

"Then you believe in being prepared?" asked Jack.

"That's my motto--'Be Prepared'!" answered the stranger.

"That's our motto, also," put in Harry eagerly.  "I wonder where you
got that motto.  You don't talk like the United States."

"Huh!  I should say not!" declared the other.  "But I came from a place
that is every bit as good as the United States," he added.

"There's only one place that I know of," stated Ned emphatically, "that
answers that description.  What part of Canada are you from?"

"Vancouver," was the ready response.  "Do you know the place?"

"Well, we ought to.  We put in some time in British Columbia chasing a
man who robbed the United States government."

"Good," declared the stranger.  "My name is Gilmore--David Gilmore.  I
belong to the Moose Patrol of Vancouver."

"Dave, for short, I suppose," put in Jack in a more friendly tone.

"To my friends--yes," answered David with a short laugh.

"Now, boys," began Ned, "if it's agreeable, I suggest--"

A shriek of agony cut short the suggestion Ned was about to make.  By
common consent the boys drew closer together as the awful sound echoed
through the narrow confines of the low tunnel in which they were
imprisoned.  All thoughts of introductions were driven instantly from
their minds, to be replaced by their desire to render aid.

"The searchlight, Dave," said Ned quickly, falling naturally into the
use of the shortened appellation.  "Let's make haste."

A circle of flame from the searchlight in David's hand was his reply to
this request.  It fell upon the damp, slimy walls of the tunnel,
illuminating a small space in their immediate neighborhood.  The boy
swung the searchlight to a position where it would give them a view of
the area through which they had just come.

An appalling sight met their eyes.  The explosion had wrecked the roof
and sides of the narrow space.  Heaps of broken rock and other debris
choked the passage.  Beneath one of the lumps projected the feet of a
man.  Beyond that the boys could dimly see the forms of one or two
others.  It seemed that several men had been unfortunately caught.

"Where did that fellow come from?" queried Ned anxiously, pointing
toward the feet of the luckless individual who was screaming in agony.

"I don't know," Jack stated briefly, "but we'll help him out."

"All right, boys; let's get busy," urged Harry.

No further suggestions were needed to enlist the aid of all four boys.
As they moved forward, their progress somewhat hindered by fallen
rocks, the cries grew fainter and presently ceased.

As they reached the spot where the man lay imprisoned, David thrust the
searchlight to a favorable position, where it would show them the face
of the stranger.  He knelt but a moment.  Rising again to his feet, the
lad turned to his new-found companions.

"I guess we're too late, boys," he said in a hushed voice.

"That's too bad," said Ned sympathetically.  "I'm sorry."

"What shall we do?" questioned Jack.  "Can't we help him at all?"

David shook his head sadly.  He again swung the searchlight around the
place, examining the walls carefully as he did so.

"I'm sure that it's no use, boys," he said.  "If the fellow had not
been beyond help he would not have stopped crying out.  In such a time
as this, heartless though it may seem, we'll have to look out for
ourselves without spending energy on those beyond help."

"You're right, I guess," agreed Ned sadly.  "I heartily wish that we
were all back in America again, beyond the influence of this awful war.
I sincerely hope that it will be confined to Europe."

"I echo your sentiment," said David.  "And now," he added briskly, "let
us give our attention to getting out of this place.  I wonder if we can
move some of these looser stones and get through into the room beyond.
We may be able to get out to the street that way."

"What do you know about the layout of this place?" asked Jack.

"We are now under one of the big buildings--I should say under the
ruins of one of the big buildings of Peremysl.  It got struck by shells
during the early part of the engagement and was neglected after that.
The men we heard were refugees from the Russian army who thought they
would be able to appear after the German occupation and do some damage
to the invaders.  They were well equipped with supplies of various
sorts, including ammunition, and intended to get out to-night."

"I wonder if they have all gone?" asked Jack.

"I suppose the most of them are dead," answered David.  "And we may
join them unless we get out.  Our chances look slim."

"I don't know about that," objected Ned.  "I notice that the smell of
powder is not so pronounced as it was a while ago.  The air in here
seems much better than it did before the explosion, and I believe that
somewhere a passage has been opened which permits the air to flow in.
It seems to me I can smell sweet air."

"I believe you're right, Ned," declared Harry sniffing.

"Let's get at these stones, then," suggested Jack, suiting the action
to the word, and beginning to lift away lighter pieces of rock from the
heap that confronted the lads.

All the boys took hold eagerly and began the task of removing the
barrier that prevented their exit.  They took turns holding the
searchlight upon the work.  Presently Jack announced that he could see
light through the crevices between the stones.  This announcement was
hailed joyfully by the others.

"Hurrah!" announced Harry gleefully, as he pushed a piece of rock
forward, opening a space wide enough to penult him to thrust an arm
through.  "One more chunk out of here and we can get through."

In another moment the four boys stood erect in a space that had
formerly been a cellar.  They drew deep draughts of air into their
lungs and looked up beyond ruined walls to see the sky overhead.

"That looks good to me," stated Ned, pointing upward.

"Here too!" put in David.  "Now I can get a good look at you fellows
and will be able to recognize you readily the next time I see you.
My," he added, "you are Boy Scouts, too."

"Why, of course," said Ned in astonishment.  "What did you think we
were?  I hope you didn't take us for soldiers."

"Well, not exactly," said David, smiling, "but I really didn't have
time to form a definite opinion before I heard that you were captured.
Would you like to get back to your plane?" he asked.

"Would we?" asked Jack in a tone expressive of his intense longing for
the Eagle.  "You are just right, we would!"

"Perhaps we can manage to make it if the Germans have not taken it
away," suggested David.  "I can't say for sure, but we can try."

"Let's be on our way, then," urged Harry, eager to start.

"Suppose we look about and look for something to eat," suggested Ned.
"I'm beginning to appreciate Jimmie's feelings."

"I hope you're not hungry already?" laughed Jack, "Why," he added, "you
had something to eat no longer ago than--"

"Yes, no longer ago than the last time we ate," interrupted Harry.
"You may not believe it, but I'm getting so hungry I could eat
anything."

"All right; call the waiter, then, and we'll all eat."

"Perhaps I can find something," volunteered David.  "I know where the
Russians kept most of their stores.  They had a place over here at one
side of this big space filled with things to eat and shoot and so on.
They had a lot of stuff in there."

"Where do you suppose they have all gone?" asked Ned, glancing about.

"I rather imagine they have gotten away as fast as they could after the
Germans began blowing down the tottering walls.  Those fellows we saw
back there in the tunnel were possibly trying to get away by that
route," replied David.  "I intended bringing you here when we left the
cellar where the rats were.  I thought the way was clear."

"How did you happen to be there?" asked Ned.

"I got tired of being a prisoner," answered David.  "Naturally, when
the chance offered, I just slipped into the passage and started.  I
counted my steps to the end and found I must go the other way.  When I
had reached the cellar where you were I was exploring it when I heard
the noise overhead.  I just stayed in the dark until you made a light."

"Then you thought you'd help us out?" asked Harry.

"Yes," was the reply.  "I felt that you needed a guide, and I had to do
one good turn a day, you know.  I thought that would be one."

"Sure, we know," Harry stated in a low voice.  "I guess that was pretty
nearly three good turns, wasn't it, Ned?"

"We'll count it as three, anyhow," responded Ned heartily.

"Now, you're hungry," interrupted David, rather loath to hear his own
praises.  "Come over this way and we'll see what we can find."

As David had predicted, the boys found a smaller room opening off the
large one in which they were gathered.  There was a miscellaneous
collection of articles comprising food, ammunition, arms and many other
things.  They at once attacked the food supply.

Harry gleefully announced the discovery of a can of beef from Chicago,
while Jack went into ecstacies over a can of beans.

Without the loss of a moment the boys fell to and soon satisfied their
hunger.  Directly Jack began searching amongst the goods.

"Where did they store their water?" he asked David.

"I don't know that," replied the boy.  "What is in that barrel?"

"Nothing but gasoline, judging by the smell," replied Jack.

"Hurrah!" shouted Ned, springing to his feet.  "Just the thing!"

"Not to drink!" objected Jack scornfully.  "Not for me, anyway!"

"No, but fine for the Eagle if we can get it there and find the plane
still in working order.  Let's hope they haven't taken it away."

"Let's go see," suggested David.  "We can take along some of this
gasoline in some of these empty tins and cans."

"You're a brick!" announced Jack.  "I'm beginning to like you!"

Scrambling over the wreckage and ruins of the building, the four boys,
each bearing a vessel with gasoline, gained the street.  They turned a
corner and passed along apparently unnoticed.  In a short time they
stood in the vacant space where the Eagle had landed.

Before them the planes loomed large.  Ned almost shouted for joy.

"There are soldiers on that hill over there!" announced Jack.

"One of them has gone crazy or something," said Harry, pointing.

"That's Boy Scout semaphore signals!" declared David.

"Answer him, Ned," suggested Jack.  "Maybe he means us."

"He's spelling 'Wolf' in American," stated Ned.  "Here comes more."

"Right arm above head, left horizontal--that's 'J,'" said David.
"Right diagonally down, left across chest--that's 'I;' right diagonally
down, left horizontal--that's 'M;' he repeats it; he repeats 'I;' right
down in front, left up diagonally--that's 'E.'"

"That spells 'Jimmie!'" cried Harry in excitement.



CHAPTER VII

A SUSPECTED SPY

For a time Jimmie forgot the drudgery to which he had been sentenced as
a result of his fight with Otto for possession of the tiny packet
concealed in the Cossack uniform.  Forgotten were the multiplicity of
duties incident to his service as a member of the "kitchen police"--the
work to which all offenders in the army were subjected, and which
corresponded to the tasks of a garbage collector.

Apparently the lad was devoting himself wholly to the strenuous labor
of calisthenics.  There seemed to be no idea in his mind of making any
certain motion a given number of times for the purpose of developing
different muscles.  Instead he merely placed his arms in various
positions and held them there a moment before assuming a different
attitude.  Seldom did he repeat any motion.

We know, of course, that he had seen the boys as they emerged from the
underground cavern that nearly proved their tomb.  He had taken a
chance on their being his comrades and had made signals to attract
their attention.  When he received an answering wave of the arm from
Ned he delightedly began sending a message by means of the well-known
semaphore code.  Although the lad possessed no flags or other means of
carrying out fully the code as prescribed, he did the best he could
with only his arms for signals.  We know that Ned and his chums were
able correctly to interpret the message Jimmie was sending.

"Great frozen hot boxes!" mused the boy half aloud.  "They are down
there among the ruins.  I wonder how they got free of the searching
party.  Things have been coming pretty fast for me lately, and I
declare I clean forgot the others.  Wonder what they'll do."

He had not long to wait.  Directly he saw Ned and the others consulting
beside the aeroplane.  The next moment Ned had stepped clear of the
machine and began waving his arms after the same fashion adopted by
Jimmie when he spelled out his own name.

"There he goes!" declared Jimmie to himself.  "There he is making the
letter 'C.'  There comes 'A,' and next is 'N.'  That is 'Can.'  Now
here comes 'U;' 'Can You.'  Here is 'G,' 'E,' 'T.'  'Can You Get--.'
Now he says 'A,' 'W,' 'A,' 'Y.'  That's 'Away.'  Can I get away?  Not
very handy with all these Germans about.  Guess I'll have to tell him
something myself.  Here goes."

Accordingly Jimmie began a reply in the same code.  He briefly informed
Ned that he understood the regiment was to go west, probably to Verdun,
where Jimmie had heard that heavy fighting was taking place.  He also
stated that he was unable to escape in daylight, but that he would try
to do so after nightfall.

In response to this wig-wagging Ned began to give directions for their
co-operation in an attempt at escape by Jimmie, when suddenly he
discerned a soldier creeping up behind his red-headed friend.

Instantly he gave the well-known danger signal and tried to tell Jimmie
that someone was near.  For some strange reason the lad failed to
comprehend the information given, and not until it was too late did he
realize that it was himself who was in danger.

Intently watching Ned and trying to interpret the signals being made by
the older boy, Jimmie did not observe the footsteps of the approaching
soldier.  Suddenly he felt an arm thrown about his neck.  He was drawn
irresistably backward by the strong arm that shut off his wind nearly
to the choking point.

With all the energy in his lithe young body the lad tried to kick and
strike at his unseen antagonist, but his efforts were unavailing.

For what seemed to the lad countless years the vise-like grasp was
maintained upon his windpipe.  He began to understand that his
struggles were useless, and spent his entire energy in an effort to
stiffen the cords of his neck, hoping to assist his breathing by so
doing.  Presently, as he ceased his struggles, the soldier who had so
skillfully captured him set the lad upon his feet.

"So," began the soldier, "think you that we understand not the fact
that you are but a spy and that information you are giving to your
friends in the city?  Yes.  It is indeed so."

Jimmie's only reply was a wrinkling of his freckled nose in a grimace
of extreme disgust and contempt.  Even had he been so minded, the
condition of his wrenched neck and strained muscles prevented sprightly
conversation.  He winked rapidly to clear his tear-filled eyes, and
indulged in another wrinkling of the nose.

"So," continued the other, paying no heed to Jimmie's motions of
contempt.  "And this is why we have not had better success in our
campaign.  We must fight not only the enemy in their trenches, but we
must also contend with traitors in our own camps!"

"Who's a traitor?" demanded Jimmie in a belligerent tone.

"Your name I know not," answered the soldier, "but the red hair and the
active nose, with its habit of turning up toward the sky, would be
identification enough without a name.  I need no name."

"Well, you haven't any name so far as I know," was the lad's
impertinent response.  "And I don't want to get acquainted with you."

"The subject we will not change," was the cool rejoinder of the German.
"We just now are discussing your giving information to the other
Russian spies down there in the city.  You will not need a name after
to-morrow, or possibly after this evening, if Herr Captain von
Liebknecht is as zealous in the service of the Kaiser as he has been.
If I were giving orders, you would be shot now."

"Well," began Jimmie, pursuing the subject, "I'm not shot yet and
you're not shot, but in the language of the little old United States
you certainly act like a fellow just about half-shot."

"Half-shot?" inquired the German in a puzzled manner.  "How can a man
be half-shot?  He would then be only kerwundete."

"You and I are getting on famously, Old Man," Jimmie observed, half
laughing.  "From all appearances you'd like to stand me up against a
wall at sunrise and I'd like to see you in Halifax."

"Halifax?" queried the soldier.  "You speak of strange places."

"Well, all right," Jimmie replied.  "I guess we'd better be going now,
so I'll get my bucket from the place where I dumped its contents into
the ditch and we will go back to camp.  I hold no resentment against
you for your harsh treatment of me, especially since you weigh just
about three times as much as I do."

"The bucket will do well enough where it is," came the answer in a low
tone, cold as ice.  "Just now you will appear before the Captain.  Do
you not know you are under arrest?"

"Under arrest?" puzzled Jimmie.  "Who's pinching me?"

"Ach!  Ach!" protested the soldier, raising his hands in a gesture of
despair.  "What a strange person!  What a strange language!"

"You're quite right there," Jimmie said, "and if I had my way we'd be
stranger still.  Yes," he added, "I think we'd be still strangers.
That would just about suit me to perfection."

"Come on, now," the German ordered, with a trace of impatience tinging
his phlegmatic manner.  "Long enough we have waited."

"I'm willing," said Jimmie, turning upon his heel.  "We might as well
get the trouble off our minds.  If I'm to be shot for keeps I hope
they'll do it soon and do a good job while they're at it."

Although the boy's manner was light and buoyant enough to deceive even
the experienced and hardened Uhlan who had constituted himself captor,
his heart was heavy, for he well understood the danger of his position.
He could hope for little nursing from the peculiar German minds with
which he had to cope.  Appearances certainly were against him, and he
knew that the evidence would be taken only at face value.

Resolved, however, to make the most of a bad bargain, the boy
resolutely forced a smile to his freckled face and bore himself erect
and with apparent fearlessness as the two neared camp.

No time was lost by the soldier who had Jimmie in charge.  He went
directly to the spot where Captain von Liebknecht's tent was pitched.
A sentry paced up and down the narrow limits of his beat, carrying his
rifle in the prescribed position.  In accordance with regulations, he
was equipped with his full outfit, including a vicious looking sword
bayonet and bandoliers of cartridges that gave forth a silent message
which to Jimmie's troubled mind spelled a most gloomy and forbidding
prospect for the immediate future.

A challenge from the sentry halted the pair until the necessary
questions and answers could be exchanged.  Upon being convinced that
Jimmie's conductor had an urgent message for the Captain, the sentry
ordered them to remain where they were while he hailed the guard
stationed inside the tent.  To this individual the sentry explained the
reason for the visit and the request for an interview.

Jimmie was not left long in doubt.  Almost instantly, it seemed, the
guard returned and, after exchanging a few words in a low tone with the
sentry, beckoned for the soldier and the lad to follow.

He led the way into the tent, raising the flap for Jimmie and his
captor to pass.  More than ever the lad felt his appellation of The
Wolf was well deserved.  It seemed to him that circumstances were
conspiring to make him seem to the Germans a predatory animal, and
while he would have been willing and was even anxious to dispel this
notion from their minds, he well understood that nothing he could do or
say would be of effect in this direction.  Feeling keenly the need of
most careful handling of the situation, Jimmie glanced quickly and
furtively about the tent.  He was somewhat surprised to observe there a
number of officers of the regiment apparently in conference.

A number of papers, amongst them maps, was spread upon the little table
in the center of the tent.  Captain von Liebknecht had patently been
directing certain movements of troops, using the maps to further
explain his instructions.  Jimmie's entrance had interrupted the
Captain's action of tracing with his finger the line of railroad
leading from Peremysl, or Przemysl, as it must henceforth be known.

As the Captain raised his eyes to observe who his visitors might be,
Jimmie let his glance fall to the map, where he saw the finger pointing
at the town designated as Cracow.

In a flash the boy realized that von Liebknecht had been giving
instructions for the transportation of troops by rail, and that Cracow
would be the next stopping point, where he guessed that the horses
would be detrained for water and rest if possible.

Mentally making a note of this fact, Jimmie raised his glance
fearlessly to meet the cold blue eyes of the German officer.  In that
glance Jimmie comprehended the fact that he could expect little mercy
from a man whose whole ambition in life seemed to be unquestioning and
unwavering devotion to his Emperor.  He read also in the blue eyes
craft and skill in diplomacy and a keen intelligence withal.

"Captain," began the soldier who had brought Jimmie to the tent, "this
Cossack has been giving information to his Russian friends."

Jimmie detected without any difficulty the implied sneer in the term
"Cossack," but forebore making any reply on the instant.

"So?" observed von Liebknecht.  "Again?  Must we always be troubled at
critical times with this wonderful recruit?"

As none of the group seemed able to reply, silence was the only
response.  The Captain let his glance wander about from one to another
of his aides.  His eyes rested for a moment upon the countenance of a
member of the group apparently older than the others.

An almost imperceptible shake of the head answered the questioning
glance.  For some reason The Wolf felt a sense of relief.

"What have you to say for yourself, young man?" asked the Captain.

"I guess I said enough before I enlisted," answered Jimmie.

"Yet you have now some secret information," demanded the other.

"No, sir," protested the lad in wide-eyed amazement.

"No?" queried von Liebknecht in his accustomed level tones.  "Then what
is it you have in that little packet you took from the Cossack uniform
at so great a cost as a burned hand?" he added.

Involuntarily Jimmie's hand clutched at his breast.



CHAPTER VIII

FRUSTRATED PLANS

"Good night!" was David's ejaculation as the boys saw Jimmie at the
hilltop being captured by the German.  "That ends it, I suppose!"

"No," protested Ned, "it just begins the work.  Up to now we have been
only playing, but here's where the real work starts."

"What do you mean--'real work'?" was Jack's anxious inquiry.

"Why," replied Ned, "they've got Jimmie enlisted in that Uhlan
regiment, and you can plainly see how closely they are watching him.
If we get him away from those fellows it means real work for all."

"Aw!  Go on!" put in Harry.  "I move we go back to the cellar and get a
bunch of those Russian rifles with sufficient ammunition, fill the
tanks of the Eagle with some of this gasoline, get aboard a lot of
canned goods and swoop down on the German camp like a hawk after some
chickens.  We can let down a trapeze for Jimmie to grab onto."

"Sounds easy, doesn't it?" remarked David with a short laugh.

"Easy?" questioned Harry.  "You don't seem to know Jimmie very well or
you would mean just what you say.  He can do it all right!"

"But, I say," replied David, "wouldn't those German soldiers be on the
alert when we approached?  Wouldn't they jolly well shoot us full of
holes, and wouldn't they make it rather difficult that way?"

"Now, see here, Dave," argued Harry, "if you could have seen Jimmie
when he rescued Havens, the aviator, in British Columbia by dropping
from our aeroplane to that of Havens by means of a single rope, you
wouldn't think the trick so very impossible."

"Of course," admitted David, "I have no doubt your friend is a wonder,
although I have never met him.  It is not so much his ability I
question as it is the possibility of our getting to him without being
detected by the Germans.  My word, that is a big task."

"Evidently there are a number of things you don't know," returned
Harry, it must be said in a somewhat boastful manner.  "We'll have to
introduce you to Mr. Ned Nestor, the champion aviator of the Wolf
Patrol of New York City.  And," the boy added, "that means, of course,
the United States.  He is some aviator, I tell you!"

"Why didn't you make it the world while you were at it?" asked Jack
quizzically, regarding Harry with an amused smile.

"Well, I guess I wouldn't have been far wrong at that," contended Harry
with a glance of pride in Ned's direction.  "As the Irishman would say,
Ned has 'a way wid him,' and you know it as well as I do."

"I'll not be the last one to admit that Ned certainly can coax an
aeroplane into doing stunts that seem marvelous, but I agree with Dave
here that unless our chum has some way of striking the Germans blind
and deaf we have a mighty slim chance of picking Jimmie up."

Harry's glance of contempt at his comrade was withering in the extreme.
So great was his faith in Ned's ability that he would not have
hesitated at anything, no matter what the conditions.

"I move," Harry went on, "that we cut out this argument, rob the
Russian cache back there in the cellar, and make ourselves scarce
around here while the 'beating' still remains in good condition."

"I second the motion," added Ned, "so far as the matter of getting out
of Peremysl is concerned.  We can take up the other matter later on."

"Those in favor say 'Aye'," said Jack, turning upon his heel and
starting back toward the base of supplies the boys had discovered under
the pilotage of young Gilmore, the Vancouver Moose.

"The 'Ayes' have it!" announced Harry, preparing to follow his chum.
"What do you need most, Ned, and what will you have first?"

"Well, I guess we need something to eat, and a little more gasoline
wouldn't go so bad," stated Ned, picking up one of the empty vessels in
which gasoline had been brought to the Eagle.

"Sure enough!" cried Jack.  "I clean forgot the gasoline business.
Watch me give an imitation of a Boy Scout carrying water for the
elephant, only in this case the elephant happens to be an 'Eagle'."

In spite of the seriousness of the situation in which the boys found
themselves, David could not repress a laugh of merriment and
appreciation of the light-hearted manner in which Harry and Jack met
the difficulties and dangers surrounding the little party.

"I say, lads," he began, as the four boys took their way carefully from
the site on which the Eagle rested toward the underground cavern they
had recently quitted, "there's plenty for us in that storeroom, and all
we need to do is help ourselves.  If only we are not interrupted by
some of the Germans patrolling the town, we will be all right."

"Let me get my hands on one perfectly good shooting iron, with some
cartridges," stated Jack, "and it will go pretty hard with any German
who endeavors to stop us before we get good and going!"

"Now, Jack," protested Ned, "that 'shooting iron' business will have to
be postponed, I'm afraid, until such time as we are more nearly out of
the woods than we are just now.  It wouldn't be quite the thing."

"Oh, of course," said Jack in a tone intended to appear sulky, but with
a covert wink at Harry, "somebody is always taking the joy out of life.
Why can't I just shoot up a few Dutchmen, I'd like to know?"

"Because they might not think it polite," answered Ned seriously.
"Besides," he added, "it wouldn't be strictly in accordance with Boy
Scout principles, as you yourself will admit."

"Well," observed David with a sigh, "when I consider some of the things
that have happened during the last few days and weeks, I am almost
ready to admit that I'd like to resign temporarily."

"Why?" asked Ned.  "Have the Germans been doing things to you?"

"Well," stated David, "isn't their capture and treatment of Jimmie
sufficient to make us want to do things to them?"

"Yes, it is," admitted Ned, "but at the same time we must remember that
'two wrongs never make a right,' and, according to my recollection,
number ten of the Boy Scout laws states that a scout is brave and has
the courage to face danger in spite of fear, and defeat does not down
him."

"Yes," put in Jack, "and number three, which we all know so well,
states that a scout must do one good turn to somebody every day."

"Am I to understand that you would not consider shooting a German a
good turn?" asked Harry, who was slightly in the lead.

"A good turn to whom?" asked Ned, following closely upon Jack's heels.
"Would shooting be a good turn to the 'shootee'?"

"Well, I don't know about that," answered Jack.  "I can easily
understand how some fellows might consider it a disadvantage."

"My word," put in David, as the little party prepared to descend into
the subterranean cavern which they termed their base of supplies,
"these poor fellows here are not able to know whether it's a
disadvantage or not.  Just look at that poor chap lying there."

As he spoke David pointed toward the form of a Russian soldier lying in
a huddled heap upon the stone floor amidst a tangle of debris.

Jack shuddered as he gazed upon the spectacle for an instant.

"I guess I won't want to shoot any Germans," he said.  "And I guess
that might include other folks besides Germans, too."

"Let's hurry on, boys," urged Ned.  "This awful war business will get
on my nerves directly.  Let's get our supplies and make our getaway."

Luckily for the little party, the German occupants of the defeated city
were busily engaged in occupations that required all their attention.
Hence the work of provisioning the Eagle was accomplished without
untoward incident.  In a very short time the boys had succeeded in
placing aboard the air craft sufficient fuel and provisions from the
abandoned stores to satisfy the demand of even Jack and Harry, who well
remembered the hunger with which they had been assailed at the time of
their entrance into the stricken war zone.

"Is everything all ready now?" asked Jack, wiping the sweat from his
forehead.  "Have we got everything we need, Ned?"

"Yes, I think we have everything," Ned replied, glancing quickly but
carefully over the mechanism of the giant plane.

"Just one minute, then," urged Jack.  "While you're warming up the
engine I'll slip back and pick up one of those rifles I saw, for use in
case of emergency.  Something, you know, might happen."

Ned laughed as Jack darted away.  Turning to the others, he said:

"If we're not careful Jack will soon be as bloodthirsty as Jimmie
himself.  But," he went on, "it might come in handy at that."

Preferring not to use the self-starter, for the sake of quiet, Ned
turned an electric switch which controlled a circuit leading to a
contrivance designed by Harry for just such an emergency.  This
delicate piece of mechanism was located at the carburetor, and was
called by Harry the "starting stove."  Its office was to warm the
gasoline to such an extent that it would make vaporization much more
rapid than would ordinarily be the case.  This would enable the aviator
to start his engine without the usual difficulty due to cold fuel.

Scarcely had the electric current warmed the carburetor sufficiently
before Jack returned, carrying a rifle, together with a quantity of
cartridges.  These he bundled into the fuselage.

"All right, boys, get aboard and we will 'get out of town,' as that
Montana freight conductor used to say," urged Ned.

David climbed to a seat beside the steering levers, which were in Ned's
grasp.  Harry found a place beside a quantity of canned goods.

"Beat it, Ned!" cried Jack from his position on the ground.  "We're
just in time.  Here come the German soldiers after us!"

It was even as the boy said.  A detachment of soldiers, evidently
policing the town, had discovered the activity of the boys in the
vicinity of the giant aeroplane and were coming forward to investigate.

Ned stepped on the starting pedal energetically.  Current from the
storage batteries flowed through the motor, saturating it almost
instantly.  Ned's foot was pressed upon the cut-out lever, and the
resultant roar from the engines precluded absolutely the possibility of
further conversation.  Like a thing of life the Eagle leaped forward.
Ned gave all his attention to the problem of steering.

In an ever-widening circle the Eagle rose above the open space upon
which it had rested.  Ned lifted his foot from the cut-out lever,
throwing the exhaust from the engine through the specially designed
muffler, which was perhaps Harry's greatest pride.

The contrast between the clamor of a moment before and the comparative
quiet of the present instant was startling.

In astonishment at the results achieved, David glanced in wonderment
and amazement at the fabric which was bearing the boys aloft.  Fully
able to appreciate superior mechanism, the boy was lost in his
examination of the delicate and yet effective machinery.

His glance of approval rested upon Ned and Harry in turn.  He looked
about to give a friendly nod to Jack.  Greatly to his surprise, Jack
was not to be seen anywhere in the fuselage.  Startled greatly, he
turned toward Ned and laid a hand upon the boy's arm.

"Where's Jack?" he cried.  "I don't see him anywhere!"

Ned almost precipitated the entire party in a sudden plunge earthward
as he turned in response to David's query.  For a moment only the boy
lost control of the great machine.  But that moment was enough to cause
the aeroplane to dip swiftly toward the ground.

Before Ned could regain control much of the altitude was lost.  In
another instant he had again directed the course of their craft toward
the open air high above the ruined city.  But the lost distance was
sufficient to bring the party within range of the rifles of the German
soldiers who had been running toward their location.

A sharp report echoed from below.  A whizzing, tearing sound assailed
the ears of the lads within the fuselage of the Eagle.

"Pretty close that time," commented Harry with a slight tremble in his
voice.  "Shall I reply to them, Ned?" he asked.

"Not yet," replied Ned, shaking his head negatively.

Another report from below was heard, followed instantly by the clang of
a bullet against metal.  A shriek rose from below.



CHAPTER IX

ABANDONING A REGIMENT

In wide-eyed amazement Jimmie stared for a moment at von Liebknecht,
not knowing what answer to make to the sudden question.  He disliked
very much telling the officer the truth concerning the packet he had
been to so much trouble to rescue, yet felt that nothing else but the
exact truth would serve in the present instance.

For a full minute he glanced about from one to another of the group in
the tent.  The glances that met his in return were anything but
friendly.  Some were indifferent, while others scowled fiercely as
their resentment against the lad mounted.  Evidently all firmly
believed that the boy was what he had been accused of being--a spy.

At length resolved to adhere to the truth at whatever cost, Jimmie
raised his head to direct his gaze straight into the Captain's eyes.

"That packet," he began in a low tone, "is my own private property.  I
don't know just what it contains, but it is not contraband."

A faint smile lighted von Liebknecht's usually immobile countenance.

"How, then," he asked, endeavoring to make his voice convey the spirit
of friendship he tried to feel for the lad, "can you say that it is not
contraband or infer that the packet does not contain information that
would be of value to our enemy if you do not know its contents?"

"Because I received it from a man who was dying and who wanted badly to
make restitution for some things he had done that were wrong.  He had
no interest in the dispute between your country and your enemies except
to make whatever money he might from the matter."

"You speak in riddles.  Please explain more fully."

"Well," Jimmie continued, "there was a man in the United States who
brought over a ship load of ammunition.  He stole a lot of money
intended for the relief of the suffering people of Poland.  He
kidnapped and shanghaied me and generally proved himself a bad sort.
When he got over to Riga he was forced to enlist in the Russian Cossack
regiment, the same as I was, and when the Russian Cossacks attacked the
German troop train he was wounded badly.  I tried to assist him, and
did what I could.  When he found he was dying he asked me to take this
packet, which I understand contains the keys to a safe deposit box in
New York City, and when I get back there he wanted me to see what I
could do toward setting right some of his wrongdoings."

"A very fine tale, indeed," was the comment of von Liebknecht, "but you
will scarcely expect us to believe that in the face of all the
circumstances.  We don't mean to imply that you, necessarily, know
different, but the man's story as you have told it is improbable."

"I am telling the exact truth as I understand it!" declared Jimmie
earnestly.  "If he was lying to me, I do not know it.  I believe he
told the truth, for he understood that he could not live much longer."

"Nevertheless, we will be obliged to examine the contents of the
packet," stated von Liebknecht positively.  "Is it not so?" he asked,
turning to the group of officers for confirmation of his decision.

Vigorous nods from the ones addressed indicated their approval.

Unwilling to submit to the proposed action, Jimmie took a step
backward.  His action was misinterpreted by the soldier who had
captured the boy.  With a quick motion the man again seized the
red-headed lad in the same manner as previously, and deftly slid his
hand to the pocket where the packet reposed.  Before Jimmie could offer
any resistance the object sought was brought forth and tossed upon the
table.

"Please make a note of the fact," stated von Liebknecht, addressing an
orderly seated nearby with a memorandum book, "that the packet is to be
opened with the full consent of Herr McGraw."

Jimmie gasped.  He began to understand that the records of his presence
in the German regiment of Uhlans would be made to show favorably for
the officer in command in case anything serious happened.  And that
something very serious would shortly happen to him the boy did not for
a single moment doubt.  He felt vaguely uneasy.

With a knife tendered by one of his associates von Liebknecht deftly
ripped the stitches that held the wrapping of the tiny packet.

In another moment the oiled silk covering had been removed and an inner
wrapping opened.  Jimmie leaned forward to gaze upon the contents with
as much interest as was displayed by the others.

Presently, when the wrappings had been removed, he saw a key and a
folded paper.  The key was of the peculiar construction adopted
generally by safe deposit vaults for the use of their patrons.  The
paper had been prepared evidently for use in case of just the emergency
that had overtaken the man who had given it to Jimmie.  It was covered
with memoranda and figures in very fine waiting.

Von Liebknecht scowled as he pored over the document.  The memorandum
had been made in a fragmentary way, and evidently referred to other
documents that would be found in the safe deposit box.

The Captain puzzled over the document for a time, then passed it to the
officer nearest him.  He then gave his attention to the key.

"What do you make of if?" he asked Jimmie presently, tapping in a
nervous manner upon the table with the key.  "What does it mean?"

"Just what I told you, I think," Jimmie replied.

"It appears different to me," the Captain objected.  "I am of the
opinion that it has to do with information concerning the dispute in
progress between my country and the enemies.  I am sorry, but I shall
have to retain the packet for forwarding to headquarters.  You will
receive it again if it is found to be what you claim.  Otherwise--"

He left the sentence unfinished, and Jimmie waited for a time,
expecting him to complete the statement.

"Well, otherwise?" asked the boy half breathlessly.

"Otherwise, we shall see," stated von Liebknecht with a smile.

"And in the meantime?" went on the lad anxiously.

"In the meantime we are preparing to leave for the western theater of
war, where we are needed far more than here.  You will accompany us
with the best grace possible under the circumstances."

"But my comrades?" asked Jimmie, with a slight tremble in his voice.
"Will it not be possible to let all four of us return to America?"

"I am sorry," returned the Captain, "but what you ask is impossible."

"Well, then," persisted the lad, "can't we at least let them know where
I am and where I am going, so that they won't worry?"

"They are, no doubt, well acquainted with you and your abilities," went
on von Liebknecht.  "If your capacity for taking care of yourself is
equal to your ability to make a disturbance, they should experience no
uneasiness on your behalf.  Besides," he added, "it is impossible to
communicate with them just now.  We do not know where they are."

In spite of the seriousness of his own situation, Jimmie breathed a
sigh of relief, for he felt that the information given him was correct,
and he interpreted the Captain's statement to mean that the three boys
had succeeded in making their escape from the soldiers.

He was, nevertheless, greatly perturbed over the prospect of leaving
the immediate vicinity, for he felt that his chances of escape were
greatly lessened.  He knew that the boys would endeavor to assist him,
but, owing to the interrupted code message, he could only guess at how
this would be accomplished.

The map, still spread upon the table, gave him a hint.  He remembered
the fact that von Liebknecht's finger had pointed at Cracow.  A firm
resolve formed within the boy's breast.  He determined that, if his
suspicion proved correct and the regiment paused at Cracow, he would
make an attempt to escape there.  He also decided that if it were at
all possible he would advise his chums of the fact.

While Jimmie was turning over these points in his mind a buzz of
whispered conversation was going on between the officers around the
table.  At length a decision was reached, and von Liebknecht again
turned his attention to his newest recruit.

"You may go in company with this man," he said.  "He and Otto
Freundlich will be given charge of you, and will be required to turn
you over to the proper officer upon demand.  They will have orders to
insist upon your presence at all times, and in order to make sure that
you do not attempt to escape they will be given orders to shoot if
necessary.  I would advise you for your own good not to try to leave
the regiment at any time."

"If we are leaving this place and my chums are not here," Jimmie
replied, feeling that further argument would accomplish no alteration
of the Captain's decision, "I cannot see why I should attempt to
escape.  You are entirely wrong in supposing that I am trying to get
information to the Russians concerning your army."

"Perhaps you are right," assented von Liebknecht, not unkindly.  "That
is a point that we shall ascertain in our own way.  For the present
every circumstance is unfavorable for you, and we must be careful.  You
understand, do you not?" he asked with a slight smile.

"I see how you understand it," the boy said.  "Of course, if you choose
to look at the facts as you do, I cannot help it.  I don't want to get
shot, so I think I'll not try to make a getaway."

"Good!" declared the Captain, apparently greatly relieved.  "That makes
it easier for us.  Now, I shall ask you to assist in getting your
equipment ready for the journey.  Everybody will be required to work
hard if we leave at the time desired."

"Very good, sir," stated the boy, saluting in the approved Boy Scout
fashion.  "I'll help all I can."

So saying, he turned on his heel and signified to the soldier detailed
as his guard that he was ready to leave the place.

"So we are to be comrades for a while at least?" inquired Jimmie
pleasantly as the pair left the tent.  "We might as well get acquainted
before we go farther.  My named is Jimmie McGraw.  What is yours?"

"Mine iss Frederich von Strassheim," answered the other, apparently
feeling no resentment against Jimmie for his kicks and blows delivered
during the process of capture.  "We shall be well acquainted."

"That's interesting," declared Jimmie.  "I thought that the word 'von'
was used only for officers and persons of nobility, though."

"The designation 'von,'" answered the other, proudly drawing himself
erect, "is used only by those entitled to it by royal decree.  My
ancestors distinguished themselves and were of the house of
Hohenzollern.  That is why I am allowed to use it."

"Oh, so that is it?" mused Jimmie.  "All right, von Strassheim, I think
that I'll call you Fritz, though, if you don't object."

"Goot; call me Fritz, then!" laughed the soldier.  "Great friends we
shall be as I can perceive.  And may I call you Jimmie?"

"Call me Jimmie, Red-head, The Wolf, Freckles--oh, anything," stated
Jimmie with a laugh, in response to the other's good nature, "but," he
went on, "for pity's sake don't call me late for eats."

"Mess call iss not yet," responded the other, again resuming his
accustomed gravity.  "We shall have plenty of time to pack our kits."

"Then let's be about it," suggested the lad.  "Where shall we go to
make a start, and what shall we do first, and how shall we do it?"

"One at a time--one at a time," protested Fritz.  "First we shall go
past the place where I found you signalling.  Then we shall proceed to
the stables and look after our horses."

"And then?" inquired Jimmie interestedly, feeling that any information
he might get from Fritz would be useful later on.

"We shall in full marching order break camp," was the reply.  "To the
train of cars we will ride, and there put our horses and baggage
aboard.  Then we start for the west.  But here is the exact spot where
you were standing when I interrupted your conversation."

"Yes, this is the place," acknowledged Jimmie.  "And right over there
is the aeroplane of my friends.  Oh, look!" the boy cried.  "See,
they're starting out with it!  Great frozen hot boxes!  Those other
fellows are shooting!  Good night!"



CHAPTER X

AN EAGLE'S TALONS

"What's that?" gasped Ned as the cry from beneath the airship reached
his ears.  "That's too close to come from the ground!"

"It must be Jack!" was Dave's startled exclamation.  "He's not in the
aeroplane and I can't imagine where he may be!"

"Didn't he get aboard when we started?" queried Ned.

"I thought he did," Harry responded instantly.  "I was busy stowing
things out of our way, though, and wasn't paying much attention."

"I missed him just a moment ago," stated Dave excitedly.  "Where can he
have gone?  Do you suppose he is captured by the Germans?"

"I hope not," Ned replied.  "Maybe he missed getting aboard and is with
those fellows down there who are doing the shooting."

"Give me the glasses from that pocket beside you, Dave," requested
Harry.  "Perhaps I can see the party well enough to distinguish him."

At the instant Harry leaned over the edge of the car for the purpose of
getting a better view of the field they had so recently occupied
another shot rang out from below.  Mingled with the report were shouts
and exclamations from several of the soldiers.

As will be remembered distinctly by those of our readers who have had
the pleasure of riding in aircraft, sounds from the earth are
distinctly heard at a great altitude.  In fact, sounds may be
distinguished clearly at a much greater distance in a vertical than in
a horizontal direction.  It was owing to this fact that the shouts from
the group below came so clearly to the lads in the Eagle.

"I don't hear Jack's voice amongst the clamor," declare Harry.

"I wonder where he can be?" puzzled Dave, earnestly scanning the vacant
space below.  "They cannot have hidden him!"

"Suppose we call out and see if we can get a signal from him,"
suggested Harry.  "He would try to answer us, I'm sure."

"Go ahead," Ned agreed.  "I'll try a little volplaning and see if we
can't get closer to that crowd without getting hit by a bullet."

"Better be careful, Ned," cautioned Dave.  "Those fellows are in
earnest, I think, and wouldn't stop at anything."

"I'll be careful," was Ned's confident answer.  "When you're ready,
just yell your heads off for Jack and then watch and listen."

"I'm going to halloo out now," stated Harry, drawing a deep breath.

"Let her go!" urged Ned, manipulating the levers in such a way as to
practically check the headway of the slowly moving machine.

"Oh, Ja-a-a-ck!" called Harry at the top of his voice, making a trumpet
of his hands.  "Oh, Ja-a-a-ack!" he called again.

All three boys were startled to hear the voice of their chum proceeding
from a point seemingly directly beneath them.

"Here I am," came Jack's cheery tones, although the boys thought they
could detect a slight trace of weariness.

"Where?" cried Ned, greatly surprised at the sudden reply.

"Under the Eagle," replied Jack.  "I'm hanging onto a truss rod and can
stay here for quite a while if you want to leave the place."

"We surely want to leave the place," answered Ned, reaching again for
the levers.  "Can you hang on for a few minutes more?"

"I'm all right for a long time," answered Jack bravely, "but I'd just
as soon you'd hit up the speed a little."

Ned's guiding touch upon the levers sent the Eagle forward at a rate of
speed that quickly carried the entire party to a distance well out of
rifle range from the party below.  He was heading for a hill at no
great distance from their present location.

"I'll land there," he said, indicating by a nod of his head the
eminence toward which they were running.  "We ought to be able to help
Jack out of his position in a very few minutes."

Harry turned the glasses toward the spot Ned had pointed out.

"Look out, Ned!" he cried almost instantly.  "I can see a lot of
helmets there that look as if they were German head dresses."

"Can you see the soldiers under the helmets?" asked Dave.

"Not a soldier!" declared Harry.  "But," he added, "that doesn't say
they're not there.  Those uniforms they are wearing blend so closely
with the natural colors of the landscape that one can't very well tell
whether a German is near or not until he feels the cloth."

"Or the bullet," put in Dave with a grimace toward the hill.

"We're getting nearer all the while," Ned said.  "Keep your eyes open,
and if there are soldiers there we'll go somewhere else."

For a moment Harry intently studied the spot they were fast
approaching.  With the glasses in position he scanned every foot of
ground carefully, not omitting the slightest detail.

"I'm sure I see them now," he stated positively as he lowered the
glasses.  "We're in a nice mess with Jack hanging under this ship
simply by one of the truss rods.  We've got to rescue him!"

"What can we do?" asked Dave, at a loss to solve the difficulty.

"I'll tell you what we'll do!" cried Harry.  "I'm the lightest of the
party, so I'll go down and get him!  I can do it!"

"Harry, are you crazy?" questioned Ned chidingly.  "It's impossible!"

"No, it's not!" stoutly maintained the boy.  "He's there, and we've
simply got to get him.  We can't land anywhere hereabouts, and by the
time we can land he'll be exhausted and will have dropped."

"How will you do it?" asked Dave.  "Let me help."

"I guess you'll have to do most of the work," replied Harry, reaching
into one of the lockers, from which he drew a coil of light line.

"Not if you go under the fuselage to get Jack," objected Dave.

"Yes, sir!" continued Harry.  "When I get down there you'll have to do
all the work of engineering the deal.  You'll have to do a whole lot of
pulling and hauling, and you'll have to run out on one side to balance
the machine.  Mustn't have the ship list too much!"

"Oh, I see!" was Dave's response.  "And," he continued, "I won't be
able to see where you are, because you'll be on the opposite side from
my own position.  How shall we manage?"

"Well, here's my plan," Harry went on rapidly, as he began overhauling
the coil of line.  "When I get out on one side I'll go along the
framework, of course.  You'll be on the opposite side to balance.  Then
when you see that the machine is tipping your way you are to get nearer
the center of gravity so as to stabilize the affair."

"I understand," Dave replied, eagerly entering into the spirit of the
work.  "And when I feel the machine tip away from me I'll go out
farther along the framework so as to again equalize the flight."

"Exactly.  Now, it will be a hard job for us to get this line passed
under the framework so that we can get a purchase and pull it to Jack.
I can't reach that far, and Jack probably is hanging on with his hands,
feet and eyelids, so he can't let go with one hand even."

"I'll tell you how we can fix that," Dave suggested.

"How?" inquired Harry, ready at all times to consider any suggestions
and act upon them if they seemed better than the ones he had made.

"Let's take a loop of the line and fasten it around my body under my
arms.  You can be inside the machine paying out slack as I need it.  I
can take a similar loop and by crawling under the machine I can reach
Jack all right and pass the loop about his body.  Then you can haul in
slack bit by bit as he crawls along the truss rod to the side of the
fuselage.  In that way there will be practically no danger, for the
loop of line about our bodies will prevent our falling if we should
slip."

"Much obliged!" was Harry's acknowledgment of the suggestion.  "But,"
he went on, "I think it would be better for me to do the work."

"Excuse me for insisting," Dave said in a modest manner, "but I am
quite sure that I am better fitted than you.  My work in the Northwest
has always required considerable work with my arms, and besides that I
am pretty well developed about the arms and shoulders.  I don't want to
discredit your ability, but I'm sure, don't you know, that I am
stronger than you and could do the work better.  You'll let me try,
won't you?  Really, you know, you ought to let me help!"

"It's not to your discredit at all, Harry," put in Ned, "that Dave has
larger muscles than you and is perhaps stronger.  This is a job that
requires all the muscle possible, so I think we'd better let him try
it.  We must get Jack out of that place as quickly as possible."

"All right," agreed Harry reluctantly, for he very much disliked to
permit anyone but himself to even attempt the rescue of his chum.

Dave lost no time in tying a bowline in a bight at the two ends of the
length of line.  One of these he passed over his own body.  The other
he took in his teeth.  In another moment he was over the side of the
car, while Harry did his best to balance the Eagle as he had planned
for Dave to do, at the same time paying out line as it was needed.

Presently the lad felt the machine tipping slightly in his direction
and knew that Dave had succeeded in reaching the level of the bottom of
the car and was crawling along the truss rod underneath.

For a short space of time the two boys in the ear anxiously waited.
Harry's patience at length was exhausted, and he called out:

"Have you found Jack, Dave?  Is he there all right?"

"Yes, he's here and he's all right, but rather tired."

"Can I help any?" was Harry's next question.

"Not a bit just now.  Jack is getting ready to make the climb.  Stand
by the line that I am going to jerk.  Haul in slowly."

Bit by bit the line came aboard with its human freight in the loop at
the end.  Harry was exceedingly careful to haul in very slowly, in
order that he might not trip his chum and cause a disaster.  In a few
moments that seemed endless ages to Ned and Harry their comrade's head
showed and the Eagle again took a tilt to starboard.

Harry quickly and carefully crawled to a position where he would
balance the unusual side strain.  He relaxed his vigilance not one
whit, however, and hauled in carefully and slowly on the line.

"Well, that's over with!" sighed Jack as he tumbled over the side of
the car to a position of safety.  "I'm glad it's ended, too!"

"How did it happen?" queried Harry with keen interest.

"Never mind the details just yet," panted Jack, stretching his shaking
arms and working his fingers to restore the circulation that had been
somewhat impeded because of the tense muscles.  "Let's get Dave up here
safely first.  That's one plucky Scout!" the boy added.

"Right you are!" declared Harry.  "I'd almost forgotten him!"

"All right, Dave," called Ned, giving the levers a touch to bring the
Eagle clear of some treetops on a rise of ground.  "Coming up?"

"In just a minute," replied Dave from his position.  "I'm resting
easily, and I think I see the camp where your comrade is located.  Do
you suppose we might pick him up as we fly over the place?"

"That would be a risky and nervy thing to do!" declared Ned.

"Nothing so risky about it that I can see," protested Dave.  "I'm all
right here, and if you'll pass that line down I'll try to manage to
drop the loop where he can get it if we find the right spot."

"I believe Jimmie could do it?" cried Harry enthusiastically.

"All right," assented Ned, "we can't any more than fail!"

Although the feat that the boys proposed attempting would call for
considerable skill, and was certainly not lacking in danger to all
parties, they were not daunted.  They had determined to rescue their
friend at whatever cost and knew that ordinary means would prove
useless.

"Can you see Jimmie anywhere about that camp?" asked Ned, again handing
the glasses to Harry.  "Take a good look," he advised.

"I believe I can see him!" announced Harry, peering through the
binoculars.  "He's walking out toward the edge of the hill toward the
same spot from which he signalled to us.  Some one's with him!"

"Then we'll try it?" determinedly Ned continued.

For a few moments the boys rode in absolute silence with only the whine
of the motors breaking the stillness.  The Eagle was working perfectly
with not a single hitch about the delicate mechanism.

As they approached the two Uhlans Ned slackened the speed of the
motors.  Dave dangled the extra loop in a tempting manner.

A rifle shot was heard.  The Eagle rose suddenly relieved of weight.



CHAPTER XI

THE FLIGHT OF THE EAGLE

"Suppose so?" questioned Fritz as Jimmie made his announcement that the
Germans were shooting at the persons in the aeroplane.

"Well, suppose so!" repeated Jimmie indignantly.  "Why do you say
'Suppose so'?  Where do you get that idea?"

A shrug of the shoulders was the only answer.

"I say," continued Jimmie with still less patience, "what's the big
idea--'suppose so'?  Do you want them to shoot those boys?"

"I care not," was the answer.  "The ones in the aeroplane are trying to
escape are they not?  Why, then, should they not come back?"

"Well, why shouldn't they get away?" questioned Jimmie.

"Perhaps they have information for your friends, the Russians!"

"Oh, you give me a fine large pain!" stormed the now thoroughly aroused
lad.  "Every time you see a shadow, you jump on it for a spy.  Is your
old information so precious that nobody must know it?  What makes you
so suspicious of everybody and everything?"

"It is not right that the enemy should have knowledge of the movements
of the Imperial army," replied Fritz.  "That is all."

"And that's quite enough to make me feel that I'd like to be a spy once
just for pure spite!" declared Jimmie.  "You and your spy business make
me tired!  We Boy Scouts don't care a rap about your old information!"

"Perhaps," was the smiling response.  But Jimmie saw in the smile and
the single word a doubt of his statement.  He was furious.

He realized, however, that he could gain nothing by a loss of temper.
It was with a great effort that he controlled his temper and forced
himself to watch the flight of the aeroplane.  Deep in his heart the
boy was hoping ardently for the success of those in the machine, for he
was now fully convinced that it was Ned and his comrades who had
attempted the flight.  He watched every movement with great interest.

When he saw the figure of his friend hanging to the truss rod beneath
the Eagle, Jimmie's heart almost stopped beating, so great was his
anxiety for the other's safety.  As the sound of the rifle shots
reached his ears the lad turned away his head, for he did not in the
least doubt that the marksmen had been successful.

When he again looked toward the speeding plane he danced with joy, for
he saw the figure still clinging to its perilous position and knew that
by great good fortune the chum he loved so dearly was unharmed.

Both Jimmie and Fritz gazed eagerly toward the soaring plane, and
observed with great interest the movements incident to Jack's rescue.

"Ha!" ejaculated Fritz, drawing a deep breath, as the two saw that Jack
had regained the deck of the Eagle.  "He's a plucky boy!"

"You bet he's a plucky boy!" replied Jimmie, condescending to
administer a friendly slap upon the Uhlan's shoulder.  "They don't make
'em any more so!  And he's a Boy Scout, too!" he added.

"But there is still another boy under the machine," observed Fritz.

"Oh, he'll get out all right!" was Jimmie's confident answer.  "You'll
have to go some with your whole army to beat four Boy Scouts!"

"Maybe," admitted Fritz with another smile.  "But I see that your
friends are heading this way.  Perhaps they intend paying you a little
visit before we start to Verdun," he added.

"They sure are headed this way," the lad said.  "And the fellow
underneath is riding that way on purpose.  I wonder why?"

"Who can tell why a boy does anything?" was Fritz's comment.

"I can tell you why Boy Scouts do a great many things," declared Jimmie
vehemently.  "They do the things that are right and square because it
is best and because they are living up to the rules of conduct that
they are taught.  That's why they do those things!"

"And do the Boy Scout rules teach them to be spies?"

"Now you're talking through your hat again!" was the lad's answer.
"Can't you ever get it out of your head that we are not interested in
your war?  We don't want to mix up in your private scraps."

Fritz wagged his head sagely and smiled in a manner that spoke more
eloquently than words of his disbelief in Jimmie's protestations.

"All right," continued the boy, "you don't have to believe it if you
don't want to, but if you live long enough we'll show you!"

"You say 'We,'" responded the soldier.  "It would appear that you
expect your friends to join you presently for some enterprise."

"Well, it looks as if they expect to come pretty close to this place,
whether I expect them to or not," observed Jimmie, turning his eyes
toward the approaching plane and shading his eyes with a hand.

"We shall return to the stables," decided Fritz.  "Come."

A movement of the Uhlan attracted Jimmie's attention.  The lad saw a
glint of steel and wheeled to observe the erstwhile peaceable man
turned into an entirely different sort of individual, with his short
saber held in his hand in a threatening manner.

For a moment the boy contemplated flight.  An instant's reflection,
however, showed him the folly of such an attempt.  He knew that,
although he was fleet of foot and believed that he could easily outrun
the other, he would be no match for a bullet if one should be sent
after him.  Besides, he saw that his friends could not possibly reach
him with the plane if he should leave the elevated position on which he
stood.

Concluding that his only hope of escape lay in patient waiting, the lad
turned reluctantly from his position and prepared to accompany Fritz as
he had been directed.  He felt that he was giving up the only certain
means of getting away from the regiment he now thoroughly hated.

"Gee!" he exclaimed petulantly, stepping forward a pace.  "It seems as
if the whole bloomin' German army was determined that I should get
mixed up in the war!  First it's von Liebknecht and now it's you and
Otto keeping after me, and I never did a thing to any of you!"

"No?" queried Fritz.  "But you do not say what you would like to do or
what you would do if you had the opportunity."

"All right; you win the argument!" said Jimmie in a hopeless tone.

"Then we go now to care for the horses and prepare for the trip to
Verdun," decided Fritz, with a twist of the keen blade he held.

Entertaining visions of what might happen if Fritz became too careless
in his attentions with the saber, Jimmie cast a last look over his
shoulder at the rapidly approaching airship.  He again took a
hesitating step toward the German, as if to accompany him.

Fritz, believing that Jimmie was preparing to follow without further
parley, began replacing his saber in its scabbard.  For an instant his
attention was concentrated on the task in hand.

That instant was enough for the alert boy.  With a sudden leap forward
he threw his weight into a low tackle and clasped his arms about the
other's legs.  Both came heavily to earth.

Jimmie, having the advantage, was first to rise.  As he jumped to his
feet he again turned to look for the oncoming plane.

The hum of the motors was plainly discernable.  He thought he could
even hear a sharp command given by one of the boys in charge.

Almost overhead he saw the great wings outspread and knew that he had
been sighted and that his comrades were trying to afford him the
opportunity of escape he so much desired.

One glance revealed the strange lad clinging to a perilous seat on the
truss rod.  With one hand the newcomer was balancing himself, while
with the other he was shaking out into plain view the noose trailing at
the end of a line hanging from the under side of the plane.

His actions clearly indicated that he wanted Jimmie to prepare to grasp
the loop and be drawn up to the airship as they rose above the camp of
Germans.  Jimmie needed no second invitation.

Without paying the slightest heed to the efforts of Fritz to right
himself from the undignified position into which Jimmie's onslaught had
placed him, the lad dashed forward to a point from which he thought he
could most advantageously grasp the trailing loop.

Nearer and nearer came the dangling line.  The boy, under the extreme
excitement of the moment, began to imagine the feel of the rope in his
hands, and reviewed the motions he would have to make in order to seize
the line and be drawn up to his comrades.

He gave a brief thought of thankfulness to the gymnasium training Ned
Nestor had so consistently urged upon the members of his patrol, and
flexed his biceps in anticipation of the strain they were to receive.

Ned seemed to be handling the Eagle with consummate skill.  He had
brought the machine to an altitude that was nicely calculated to afford
Jimmie just the opportunity needed without trailing the line upon the
ground, yet not having it out of the lad's reach.

So absorbed were all the lads that they had not observed the activity
about the German camp caused by the approach of the aeroplane.  They
failed to see several marksmen running toward their position with
rifles ready for instant use and with determination upon their faces.

For the moment the lads seemed to forget that they were approaching a
camp of men who suspected them of being Russian spies and who would
hesitate at nothing to prevent their carrying out their designs.

Nearer and nearer swept the Eagle with her strange purpose.  At length
Jimmie's hand was outstretched to grasp the loop of line Dave had so
cunningly fashioned.  He started on a run in the same direction the
airship was going, for the purpose of lessening the shock of being
picked up from a standstill by the airship that was still moving at a
good speed.  He felt the rope within his hand, and then he heard a shot.

Instantly realizing that their maneuver had been discovered, the lad
knew that the soldiers would endeavor by every means within their power
to frustrate the designs of himself and comrades.  Yet he was
determined to make the attempt at escape, desperate though it was.

He felt himself lifted from his feet, and knew that his grasp on the
rope was all that was keeping him from being dashed to earth again.

Another rifle shot rang out, and the boy knew that the Germans were
preparing to concentrate their fire upon himself and comrades.

This time he heard the crash of a bullet as it ripped its way through
one of the wings of the Eagle.

In another instant the lad saw by a quick glance earthward that the
Eagle was not rising rapidly enough to get away from the cluster of
tents toward which it was heading.  He knew that Ned was doing all
possible to so manipulate the wings of the monster craft that the tents
would be cleared, and hoped ardently that he might be able to do so.

As the Eagle began a sloping ascent that promised to accomplish the
purpose of its pilot another rifle in the hands of a German soldier
spoke its sharp command and another bullet sped toward the little party.

A clang of lead upon the metal under part of the fuselage told Jimmie,
hanging in midair, that the last marksman had been more successful than
his companions, and he hoped that no damage was done.

His surprise was indeed great to feel a great trembling and shaking of
the rope he grasped.  He glanced upward to determine the cause.

His astonishment at observing Dave slipping down the rope was so great
that he nearly loosed his own grip.

Lower and lower came the other boy until he reached the knot of the
loop he had tied for Jimmie's benefit.  There he hung a moment.  Jimmie
looked toward the earth again and saw that they were nearly over the
tents.  Mentally deciding that they would clear the tops, the lad again
glanced aloft to observe the strange boy.

It seemed that coincidentally with another shot the Eagle suddenly
jumped miles high into the sky.  Then he found himself bumping about
with the strange lad in a world of canvas with several other people.

By a strange freak of fortune the last shot had severed the rope by
which the two boys clung to the airship and had precipitated them
straight onto the tent.  There they floundered for a time.

"Ha!" Jimmie heard as he opened his eyes.  "Another recruit!"



CHAPTER XII

TEMPTATIONS

"Gee whiz!" exclaimed Harry excitedly, grasping a portion of the
framework of the Eagle to assist in keeping his balance as the great
plane shot skyward.  "What's coming off here, anyhow?"

"What's the matter, Ned?" gasped Jack with equal astonishment.

Ned was too busy, however, just at that moment to give a suitable reply
to the queries.  The antics of the Eagle were occupying all his
attention, and he made extreme efforts to prevent the craft and its
freight from being dashed to an ignominious end in the midst of the
camp of Germans who had succeeded in making a prisoner of Jimmie.

Instinctively the lad knew that something had happened to the boys
beneath the machine, although at the moment he was unable to see just
what calamity had befallen them.

With a great leap the Eagle soared away from the camp amidst the
humming of bullets from the rifles of the angry Uhlans, who fired
rapidly but without proper aim.  Accustomed as they were to shooting at
targets on a level with themselves, they found it an entirely different
proposition to properly aim their weapons when their quarry was at some
distance above the earth.

Several of the missiles, however, struck the fuselage and wings of the
Eagle, causing considerable alarm.  The boys were devoutly thankful
that none of the leaden messengers struck a vital part.

"Whew!" breathed Harry as the Eagle drew away from the scene.  "We
didn't have much margin that time, I declare!"

"I guess that next time we go through a German camp we'll just hang an
anchor out overboard and hook up everything we can as we pass,"
suggested Jack, peering back at the camp they had just left.

"Better get Dave out of his perilous position as soon as we can," put
in Harry, remembering their new-found friend who had done such valiant
service.  "He'll be tired by this time, with all this rough riding and
bouncing about we have been giving him."

"Yes," added Jack with interest, "you certainly started upward with the
little old Eagle going on two wheels.  You're some driver, Ned."

"Let's make ready to help him out," persisted Harry.

"No use," objected Ned, shaking his head disconsolately, "he isn't
there.  I'm sure he dropped off back there at camp."

"What!" cried Harry in amazement.  "Why do you think that?"

"Well, from the sudden way in which the Eagle's progress was checked,
I'm sure that Jimmie caught the loop of line all right," was Ned's
answer.  "Then," he went on, "from the way in which the craft shook
just before she jumped skyward, I believe that the two boys were in
some sort of difficulty.  All at once we began to climb, and that
indicated to me clearly that a considerable weight had been lost."

"Do you mean to say you think both Jimmie and Dave fell?"

"I can't see any other way out of it," declared Ned.

"Well, of all things!" was Harry's expression as the truth of the
matter began to dawn upon him.  "What shall we do now?"

"I move we circle back in a big spiral," stated Jack, "and see if we
can see what's going on there.  Maybe the boys are hurt."

"We weren't going high enough for the drop to badly injure either of
them," declared Harry.  "Unless they were tangled in the rope, they
have landed upside down with care, all right."

"Jimmie will come out of any mixup with his fists doubled up," was
Jack's almost laughing comment.  "I believe that if that chap were to
fall into the hopper of a mud scow he'd come out with a clean shirt on
and a smile all over that freckled face of his."

"Yes, and ready to fight the chap that pushed him in," added Ned.

"Then let's get back there and see what we can see," urged Harry.

"Better not swing too close," advised Jack.  "We can't tell what tricks
those fellows may have up their sleeves.  They weren't prepared for our
sudden coming, and so failed to get us.  Next time, though, they may be
more fortunate and we might get something not wanted."

"What do you think, Ned," questioned Harry.

"I think it would be unwise to go back there too close now," was Ned's
advice.  "I'm of the opinion that our attempt to take Jimmie away had a
bad effect on them, and that they're quite angry."

"Well, swing around a ways and let us take a peep through the glasses.
Maybe we can see what's going on back there."

Accordingly Ned, in an effort to appease the curiosity of his chums,
brought the Eagle in a wide spiral to a position about three thousand
feet above the camp and a trifle to the westward.  From this point of
vantage the lads could clearly see the camp within the range of their
field glasses.  Jack nearly danced with joy as he looked.

"Hurrah!" he shouted.  "I can see a group about one of the tents that
looks all flattened out.  I'll bet that Jimmie landed on top of the
tent and broke it down.  They're standing in the middle of the group
there, and seem to be surrounded by officers."

"Then the rest is easy," commented Ned, giving a touch of the levers
that carried the Eagle away on a straight flight to the westward.

"Easy?" queried Harry.  "What do you mean--easy?"

"Why, they'll be taking train right away for the western front, unless
we're badly mistaken," answered Ned.  "All we have to do is to leave
them alone for a few days until they arrive at the front, and there we
can help Jimmie and Dave to escape."

"You figure that by that time the Germans will have forgotten us?"

"Either that or they'll have other things to think of."

"Then let's beat it out of this neighborhood," suggested Harry.

"Wait a minute," urged Jack.  "What do you suppose they'll do to the
boys if we leave them there?  Won't they try to take out their spite on
the lads and go to extreme measures?"

"I hardly think so," argued Ned, tilting the planes to bring the Eagle
a trifle closer to the earth.  "In the first place, I think the
officers will want to keep the two lads for the amusement of the
soldiers.  It will give them something to think about for a few days."

"Yes, the two boys will amuse the soldiers, all right!" declared Jack.
"But what will happen to the two boys meanwhile?"

"That's what I'm coming to," went on Ned.  "I figure that they will not
be willing to see harm come to the lads through the Germans directly,
because it would make trouble between the German nation and ours and
that of Dave.  They may make the lads go into the front lines when they
get to the front, and if they should get hit by a bullet from one of
their own countrymen the situation would be different."

"I see," reflected Harry.  "Then in that case the Germans could claim
they were not directly responsible.  They might claim that the boys got
enthusiastic and enlisted voluntarily.  If they got shot it was no
fault of the dear, kind Germans!" he finished sarcastically.

"Well, that's about the way of it, I guess," answered Ned.  "Anyhow,"
he added, "I'm not a bit afraid for the boys' safety until Verdun is
reached.  After that I'm not at all so sure as I'd like."

"Then I agree that it's best that we just hit it up for the west."

"Right-o!" cried Jack.  "Let's get out of town, as that freight
conductor used to say.  And let's be quick about it."

"We'll be in plenty of time if we just jog along easily and save any
undue strain on the machine," advised Ned.  "We'd better be on the
lookout for something to eat instead of worrying about speed."

"We can eat some of this canned goods we put aboard back there in
Peremysl," suggested Harry.  "I'm getting a little bit hungry now."

"Then don't eat anything until you're good and hungry," Ned put in with
a smile.  "We can't tell where we'll be apt to get anything after this
present supply is exhausted."

"Then I won't eat just now," agreed Harry.  "I'm not so hungry."

Ned's laugh at the other's reply went far to break the spell of
melancholy that rested upon the group after they had discovered the
loss of their comrades.  Truly they needed a bit of cheering, for the
situation was anything but pleasant and hopeful.

"I see a little village off there to the right a piece," said Jack
presently.  "We'd better find a favorable landing spot not far from the
town pretty soon, for it's coming on dark and we'll be unable to see
without showing searchlights that would expose ourselves."

"You're right, I believe," Ned said.  "We'd better land."

"All right, then," agreed Harry.  "Let's come down easy, though."

Under Ned's capable hands the Eagle swooped silently and swiftly toward
the earth.  The great machine behaved splendidly in every particular.
All three boys craned their necks eagerly toward the earth as they
descended.  With watchful eyes they peered about.

In another five minutes they were standing beside the Eagle, which
rested easily in a grassy spot beneath some tall trees that screened
the lads from the eyes of anyone passing upon the road.

Their flight through the twilight had been apparently unobserved, for
no outcry from the nearby village had reached their ears.

For a few minutes the three lads stood peering anxiously forth from a
screen of bushes that separated them from the highway.

At length Ned signalled his comrades to follow, and cautiously stepped
forth from the copse.  The others were close upon this heels.

"Let's go to the village," offered Ned, "and try to find out just where
we are.  Then we can know what to do next."

"Go ahead!" agreed Jack and Harry in chorus.

Ned walked down the road a few paces, then turned to look back at the
spot where they had come through the bushes.  He examined carefully the
shrubbery, and stood a short time examining the outline of the trees
and larger growth, carefully noting the contour.

"Getting a landmark for use when you return?" asked Harry.

"That's just it!" laughed Ned.  "Never can tell, you know," he went on
in mock seriousness.  "Might have to come back in a hurry!"

Laughingly the three then proceeded on their way into the town.

They had not far to go, and were congratulating themselves upon the
fact that the village seemed almost deserted, when a man stepped into
the road from the deep shadow of a low building.

"Halt!" challenged the newcomer.  "Who goes there?"

"A friend!" was Ned's instant answer.

"Advance for examination, friend!" came the next command.

The boys stepped forward wonderingly, not understanding the cause for
the man's challenge nor who he might be.

"Germans again, I'll bet!" whispered Harry as they proceeded.

"What town is this?" inquired Ned as the three approached the spot
where their challenger stood.  "We are lost and would like help."

"Ah, then you have come to the right place," the other said in a
pleasant tone.  "We can surely help you to find yourself, and also can
give you a little lift upon your journey.  Which way do you go?"

"We want to get to the United States," Ned answered.  "We have a little
work to do over here first, and would like to know just where we are
now.  It will help us to get located correctly."

"Then I will make a bargain with you," went on the other in a smooth
tone.  "In exchange for information from us, we ask the same from you.
Are you willing to make an exchange?"

"Perhaps," Ned answered.  "Maybe our information wouldn't help."

"We shall see.  Now, first, you are at Bochnia, a little way to the
east of Cracow.  Vienna lies almost due southwest, and the city of
Berlin is almost due northwest.  You are nearly one hundred and fifty
miles almost due west of Peremysl," he concluded.

"That's good!" declared Ned.  "We thank you heartily."

"Food is scarce," went on the other.  "Gasoline is also scarce, and so
is information.  You may have all you want of either if you will be
fair enough to reciprocate my kindness."

"What can we do for you in exchange for all this kindness?"

"Tell me how many German troops are leaving Peremysl," said the man.

For a moment Ned was about to speak.  Then he stopped.

"We can't tell you that!" he said in a low tone.  "We're not spies!"



CHAPTER XIII

A GREAT SURPRISE

From the tone in which the remark was made Jimmie understood that the
speaker was referring contemptuously to either himself or Dave.

He thought that he recognized the voice, but could not at once
determine the identity of the one who made the statement.  Just at the
moment there appeared to be a world of canvas and ropes wound about his
head and body.  He gasped for breath.

Struggling to free himself from the entangling mass of cloth that
seemed to be smothering and weighing him down, the lad presently found
an opening, through which he thrust his head.  Blinking rapidly as he
cleared his eyes from the dust that had arisen because of the sudden
downfall of the tent, the lad gazed about in astonishment.

"Here, here; cut it out!" he cried as he felt a rough hand laid upon
his ankle.  "What do you think you are doing, anyway?"

"Aus!" a rough voice sounded in his ear.

For a moment Jimmie lay without making an effort to rise.  He was
trying to regain his sense of location that had been momentarily
disturbed because of his fall and sudden change of scene.

The next instant the hand shifted from his ankle to his collar, and he
was unceremoniously dragged forth from the enveloping folds of the tent
cloth.  Without an apology the one who had so effectively taken the boy
from his position set him upon his feet.

"Hands off!" the lad cried with hot resentment at the treatment.
"Leave go of me or I'll start working on you!  Who are you, anyway?"

"That will do, young man," spoke a well-known voice, and Jimmie
recognized von Liebknecht.  "Why do you enter my tent so rudely?"

"Is this your tent?" asked Jimmie, wrinkling his freckled nose and
blinking at the officer as he sparred for time.

"It was!" came the reply in icy tones, for von Liebknecht was plainly
angered.  "Why do you enter unannounced?"

"Well, if you'd ever been on Wall street," Jimmie began, with a twinkle
in his eye, "you'd understand me perfectly when I say that I took a
little flier in aeroplanes.  The stock went up rapidly, and I felt the
bottom drop out of the market.  When I landed, my surprise was, to say
the least, quite 'in tents'!"

"You speak strangely," von Liebknecht replied.  "What do you mean?"

"Sorry if I say things you can't understand," went on the boy, "but you
will have to let me tell the story in my own way.  Not to change the
subject at all, but I'd like to ask after my partner."

"Your partner?" was von Liebknecht's surprised question.

"Yes, the lad who came with me.  Did you see anything of him?"

"Oh, you mean the Boy Scout.  He is somewhere about.  He was not quite
so fortunate as you.  He is being cared for."

"Where?" was Jimmie's startled query.  "Let me see him."

"All in good time.  He is over there," replied von Liebknecht, pointing
to a little group of officers and men not far away.

"Excuse me; I'll be back in a minute," stated Jimmie, darting in the
direction indicated.  "This is rotten luck!" he added as he approached
the group.  "I hope that kid isn't hurt badly."

Much to Jimmie's relief he saw the other boy rise to his feet as he
approached.  In another instant he was by the other's side.

"Are you hurt badly?" he inquired solicitously.

"Not hurt a bit!" declared Dave, drawing himself to his full height and
stretching one arm after the other to prove his statement.

"But you're pretty thoroughly shaken up, though!" declared the
red-headed lad.  "You must have fallen harder than I did."

"Well, I'll admit that last statement," laughed Dave.  "I guess the
breath was jolly well knocked out of me, don't you know."

"Not quite Johnnie Bull enough to be English," mused Jimmie aloud, "but
still too much Johnnie Bull to be strictly United States.  Say, Scout,
where are you from, and what is your name, and where are you going?" he
went on, gazing earnestly at the stranger.

Dave laughed at Jimmie's broadside of questions and answered by
introducing himself.  He received in turn a statement of Jimmie's name
and rank, together with the name of his patrol.

"What were you trying to do?" asked Jimmie as he noted that Dave was
able to stand alone and even to walk a few steps.

"Why, we were trying to give you a chance to get out of this mess,"
replied Dave.  "If it hadn't been for the rotten luck that German
marksman had in cutting the line by which we hung, we'd have made it,
too!"

"And then the German army would surely have been defeated," put in
Jimmie with a broad smile, "for without this valuable addition to his
fighting forces the Kaiser would never be able to conduct this war at
all properly.  They need me here in the army, it seems."

"It begins to look to me as if they'll be needing me, too," added Dave.
"I'll wager a pretty penny they won't let either of us go now!"

"We'll see about that," confidently replied The Wolf.  "We may have a
word or two to say in our own behalf.  We'll try, anyway."

"What shall we do now?" asked Dave as he brushed a bit of dust from his
uniform.  "We can't very well take French leave just now."

"We'd better report to von Liebknecht, who is in command here.  He'll
be apt to make us carry garbage away from the kitchen, but we'll have
to submit to that until the opportunity for escape appears.  Here he
comes now.  Just keep a stiff upper lip and leave the talking to me."

But von Liebknecht spared both Jimmie and Dave the necessity of making
explanations.  His men had already reported fully the attempted rescue
of their red-headed recruit by those in the aeroplane.

A sharp order was given, and instantly the boys were being escorted
toward the stables.  There they were assigned to tasks under the
watchful eyes of certain soldiers, amongst whom Jimmie noted his
erstwhile friend Otto.  In the hurry and excitement of breaking camp
conversation between the newly made chums was impossible.

From that moment the boys noted preparations for the departure of the
regiment.  Far into the night they worked side by side with the
soldiers of the Imperial Kaiser, loading horses and various items of
baggage and supplies into a train waiting not far distant from the camp.

By the time that the last horse had been properly placed in the cars
and the last item of baggage was correctly stowed, the lads were so
weary and exhausted they were glad to lay themselves on a pile of
forage.  In another moment they were both fast asleep.

Jimmie was wakened by the stopping of the train.  He reached out a hand
and touched Dave on the arm.  As Dave turned and was about to rise,
Jimmie slid his hands over the other's lips.

"Hush-sh-sh!" he whispered in a scarcely audible tone.  "I don't know
where we are.  Maybe we'll have a chance to make a getaway."

"Let's try to find out where we are," replied Dave, instantly wide
awake and using the same cautious tone employed by The Wolf.

Carefully the boys rose from their position and proceeded to a position
where they could look from the car.

"No use!" declared Jimmie as he peered forth.  "They've got the track
lighted up all along the train, and there are about 'steen billion or
so of soldiers patrolling the blooming train!"

"I can count up to seventeen million myself," added Dave in the same
spirit.  "After that I lose count on a fat one.  I don't know whether
to count him as two or whether I'm seeing double."

"I guess you're not seeing double at all, at all," replied Jimmie.  "I
think I see the same guy myself.  He's certainly some big gun!"

"Which one do you mean?" queried Dave, trying to locate the one Jimmie
referred to.  "I can't quite make him out right now."

"That fellow over there," answered the other, pointing toward the
forward end of the train.  "Can't you see the big automobile that just
pulled up?  I saw that big guy get out of it just now."

"Sure enough!" declared Dave.  "I can see the auto now, and I think I
can see the man, too.  Wonder who he is and what he wants."

"Probably he's only a station master or something," said Jimmie with
feigned unconcern.  "Maybe it's the Kaiser himself for all we know.  If
it is he, I'm going to scold him roundly for deserting all the
perfectly good sausages in Berlin and coming way out here just to stop
our perfectly good little train.  Wonder what he wants."

"There they come now," went on Dave excitedly.  "They're all coming
along this way, and it looks as if he's going back to the caboose.
Maybe he's going to ride with us a little way."

"Can you see what they're trying to do now?" asked Jimmie.

"In just a minute I will," was the answer.  "Let me get a good hold
here and I'll lean out a ways from the car."

Dave grasped the side of the door and leaned far out from the carriage
in which the boys were riding.  Had he not done so the result might
have been far different.  Jimmie had only time to utter a single word
of caution before he saw that his chum was slipping.

With a cry Dave tried to regain his lost balance.  Finding that it was
impossible to draw himself back into the car, the lad chose the only
other possible course and leaped into the air in an effort to land
squarely on his feet as he left the car.

In this he was successful.  He came down beside the track upon his
feet, turning just in time to face the approaching group.

Jimmie gazed in wonderment and amazement upon the features of the man
he had previously noted.  For a moment he stared speechless.

"Well, I'll be sold for a cent!" he declared as he observed the
individual closely.  "If it isn't the Kaiser I'll eat my hat!"

It was indeed none other than the Kaiser himself!  Jimmie had
recognized the man because he had seen so many pictures of the notable
person who was directing the fighting forces of a great nation.

Instantly the lad recognized the fact that he was committing an act of
extreme incivility in thus shouting out the identity of so august and
important a personage.  Yet he also knew that it was too late to
retract his statement.  He therefore, with his usual air of unconcern,
determined to face the matter and make the best of it.

Without waiting for further preliminaries the lad dropped to the ground
and placed himself beside his comrade.

Drawing himself to his full height, the lad faced the Kaiser and
saluted, using the well-known form adopted by the Boy Scouts.

Much to his astonishment, his salute was gravely returned by the other,
and the party came to a halt.

"What can I do for you?" inquired the Kaiser in a not unkindly tone,
dropping his hand again to his side.

"Well," began Jimmie, scarcely knowing just how he should address the
man, "in the first place, we are not spies, and then, besides, we'd
like to get back to the United States without any trouble."

"So?" inquired the other.  "And why do you wish to go to the United
States, may I ask?  Is your business urgent there?"

"Not at all," replied Jimmie.  "Nothing urgent about it except that we
understand you are having a war over here and we don't want to get
mixed up in it.  That's all, and it's enough, too!"

"And you declare that you are not spies.  Who has said you were?"

"Well, it seems to be the pretty general opinion that because I was
found in Peremysl with a Cossack uniform on that I am a Russian," went
on Jimmie.  "Mr. von Liebknecht, here, seems to think that I am trying
to get back to the Russian army with a lot of information that I
haven't got and--oh, a whole lot of things!"

So great was the lad's excitement at an opportunity to unburden his
grievances that he spoke rapidly.  As he paused for breath the other
looked about the group of officers.  Then he said:

"This is indeed a strange circumstance.  Just now the regiment is
moving westward, and it is not proper that they should be delayed.
Orders have been given for their departure, and they must be obeyed.
If you will come with me we will inquire into the merits of your case
and decide what shall be done.  Will you do that?"

"Yes, sir, we'll be glad to," replied Jimmie, turning to Dave for
confirmation.  "We'll go with you."



CHAPTER XIV

BAFFLED PURSUERS

"There, there," said the man soothingly, "of course you're not spies.
I didn't intend to have you understand that you would be acting the
part of spies in giving me the trifle of information I wanted.  You
failed to understand me, that's all."

"Well, then," replied Ned, "I apologize.  I thought you were asking me
about the German troops and their movements."

"So I was," went on the man.  "I wanted to know so that the good people
of this stricken village could be prepared."

"How could the people of this village resist the Germans?" asked Ned
wonderingly.  "I don't see any fighting men about."

"That's just the point," pursued the other.  "All the men and boys
capable of carrying weapons or doing anything like a man's job at any
kind of work have been drafted by the Germans."

"Then what's the excitement about?" put in Jack impatiently.  "We can't
see why you or the village people should worry if the Germans have
taken everything that can be taken."

"You don't understand, I see," continued the other.  "The Germans have
left here only women and children and very old men.  They even took
away with them such food supplies as could be transported easily.  Now
there is very little grain left, and with it perhaps a few potatoes and
other things.  But all the cattle and other food supply has been
removed.  The villagers are on the point of starving."

"Won't the soldiers feed them when they come--that is, if they're
actually coming?" inquired Jack, presenting his own solution of the
case.

"We are afraid they will not," was the answer.  "They have not a very
savory reputation here.  It is the intention of the remaining people to
escape to the country, taking with them whatever they can carry, when
they know the Germans are again moving in this direction."

"Why, then, don't they go now and be done with it?" asked Ned.

"Evidently you do not understand the characteristics of this people or
their love of their home, no matter how humble it may be," was the
answer.  "If you only understood the fact that these good people have a
gentler side to their nature and that their love of home and family is
fully as great as you will find in your own country, you would not need
to ask such a question.  It is a most serious matter to most if not all
of these people to go away from their homes."

"But I don't see that any information we can give you would be of the
slightest assistance at this time," objected Ned.

"It would give us time to prepare for the intended flight."

"I can't see it," argued Ned.  "You seem to know that the Germans are
moving westward from Peremysl.  That is more than we know."

"We know that they have been successful in their assault on the town,
and we understand that the capture of that stronghold will leave many
troops free for use at other points.  What can be more natural than
that they should leave Peremysl in the hands of a force sufficient to
guard it against any possible attack by the Russians and rush the
remainder of their troops to other points where they are needed--say a
few regiments at strategic points like Verdun?"

As he finished speaking the man glanced casually about the place, as if
observing a passer-by.  Ned and his companions exchanged quick looks of
inquiry.  Using the mute language in which the boys were adept, Ned
flashed a question at his chums.

"What do you suppose he wants?" he asked.  Then in the same manner he
went on: "Be careful.  I mistrust this fellow!  He is not square!"

Jack and Harry had only time to nod their understanding of the message
before the man again turned to them and went on:

"So you see, don't you, that you would be rendering a real aid to a
stricken and starving people by giving us whatever information you may
have about the movements of the German troops?"

"No, I can't say that I do," replied Ned positively.  "You seem to have
plenty of information on hand right now to enable you to make any
necessary preparations for the advent of the Germans if such a thing
should happen.  For myself, I don't believe that the Germans would
visit this place a second time.  It isn't at all likely."

"And why not, pray?" was the man's query.

"For the same reason that lightning doesn't strike twice in the same
place and a mule doesn't kick twice in the same place--they don't have
to," was Ned's quiet answer.  "That's a good reason, isn't it?"

Although Ned's answer had been made in a quiet tone, the words were
full of meaning, and it was apparent to all that the man was capable of
understanding the firmness and resolve in Ned's manner and voice.

"So, then, you refuse to give me any information concerning the
movement of the troops?" went on the other with an air of finality.
"Of course, I suppose you realize that the result of a German raid on
this town would be laid at your door if an inquiry were made?  The good
people here are not so ready to forgive as you may imagine.  If you
have information that would help them to safety and do not give it,
could you blame them if they felt rather unfriendly toward you?"

"Now see here, Mister--whatever your name is--," began Ned, slightly
nettled, "we came here only to find a place to buy some gasoline and
some food.  We are not in this country as spies, and we have repeatedly
declined to give information to either side.  We can't start now."

"All right, then," said the man, nodding his head slightly, "have your
own way about it.  But," he went on, "if you fail to make any purchases
such as you desire, please don't blame anyone but yourselves."

With these words he turned on his heel and left the three lads staring
after him in amazement.  He proceeded quickly, and was soon out of
sight behind a house slightly larger than the others.

"Well, he told us where we were, at any rate," said Ned with a huge
sigh as the man disappeared from their view.  "He's generous!"

"Nix on the sarcasm," counseled Harry; "it strikes me that we are in a
pretty tight fix right now.  That fellow won't do a thing but make it
interesting for us if he gets half a chance."

"You're right, Harry," put in Jack with vigor.  "Do you know, boys, I
wouldn't object to making a little bet that our visitor is a German
himself, put here for the purpose of keeping an eye on everything that
goes on.  He was just trying to pump us, that's all."

"Do you really think so?" asked Ned.  "He seemed all right at first."

"I thought so, too," went on Jack, "but did you notice how rather
uppish he got when we wouldn't tell him all we know and then some?"

"He was inclined to get rather dictatorial toward the last," admitted
Ned.  "Come to think about it, he didn't look like an ordinary villager
at that.  Wonder who he could have been."

"I'm not wondering so much at who he could have been as what he's
liable to do," was Jack's answer.  "I began to suspect him just the
minute you warned us.  I'm glad we didn't tell him anything."

"Let's get out of here, boys," suggested Harry.  "If that fellow is
within fourteen rows of apple trees of the truth and this village is
deserted by all the able-bodied men, we won't have much chance of
getting gasoline or food or information at this place."

"What shall we do?" asked Ned.  "What is your idea?"

"I move we go back to the Eagle and 'get out of town'."

"Second the motion," cried Jack eagerly.  "I don't like this place a
little bit!  Let's be going now."

"All right, then; right about face, march!" commanded Ned.

All three boys wheeled and started back in the direction they had come.
They traveled at a good pace for the first few moments.

Jack even essayed to whistle "Tipperary" between his teeth to help them
along.  With visions of a speedy departure from that neighborhood in
their minds, the boys swung along at a good pace.

Suddenly they were startled to hear the report of a rifle and to be
greeted by the peculiar tearing sound made by a bullet in its flight
through the air.  Almost as if actuated by a common impulse the three
lads crouched low and broke into a run.

Again came the report of the rifle and the noise of a bullet speeding
on its errand of death.  As Jack had stooped to run he had taken a
quick glance over his shoulder.  Now he closed in nearer to Ned.

"That fellow is in the house on our right," he panted.  "I saw the
flash of the gun as he fired that time."

Ned's only reply was a quick nod.  He did not waste breath in making a
reply where none was needed.  For answer he merely extended his hand to
administer a touch of encouragement on Jack's shoulder.

By this time darkness had settled almost completely over the place, and
the boys found running in the not over-excellent highway a task that
required every ounce of their strength and agility.

Presently Ned slackened speed.  His companions did likewise.

"Whew!" the boy panted.  "That was rather exciting, wasn't it?"

"Sure was," came Harry's labored answer.  "But we ought to be somewhere
near the Eagle by this time," he added.

"I think I recognize those trees there now," Ned put in as the three
advanced at a walk.  "Let's get into the field and be on our way just
as quickly as we can.  I don't like to be shot at."

"Do you think we have gasoline enough for an extended flight?" asked
Harry anxiously.  "We'd feel nice to get caught with a flat tire or
something a mile up in the air."

"We have plenty, I think," was Ned's answer.  "We can gauge the tank
easily enough if we can't see the indicator."

"Ha, there she is now!" exclaimed Jack as the three boys broke through
the growth of underbrush and entered the field where the Eagle had been
left.  "She's closer in than I thought," he went on.

"Well, distances are mighty deceptive in the darkness," explained Ned.
"It is very easy to be mistaken on a little matter like that."

"All right, Boss," was Jack's answer in a relieved tone, now that he
was again near their beloved plane.  "Let's have your searchlight."

"Here it is," said Ned, producing the desired article.  "Lucky for us
that I brought it along.  Better start the engine with the muffler on.
We don't want the remaining villagers to come storming up here."

Ned handed the searchlight to Jack and then prepared to make ready for
the anticipated flight by buttoning his coat tightly at the throat.  He
knew that the damp chilliness of night would be uncomfortable.  Just as
Ned and Harry were preparing to assist their chum they were startled to
hear him cry out in surprise:

"This isn't the Eagle, boys!  This is a strange machine!"

"What?" gasped the two boys on the ground.  "A strange machine?"

"Certainly.  Look here!  Why," Jack continued, "I actually believe it's
a German aeroplane!  Now, what do you think of that!"

"Then in that case there are Germans near," decided Ned instantly.

"Say, boys, I have an idea!" was Harry's excited statement.

"All right, let's have it," requested Jack.  "Such rare occurrences
should deserve special mention.  We'll mention you in the log of the
trip.  Perhaps you'll have a medal struck off just for that."

Although the lads were in a situation that was anything but pleasant,
Jack could not resist the temptation to have a little fun.

"Let's take the German gasoline and put it into our tanks," went on
Harry, without giving attention to the attempted joke.

"Good idea!" declared Ned in lower tones.  "But where's the Eagle?"

"I think I can see it right over there," said Harry, pointing.

It was even as the lad said.  Their own machine lay not far from the
one they were examining.  Working quickly, the lads produced a bucket
from the Eagle and in a short time had located the drain cock at the
bottom of the German plane's fuel tank.

They had successfully transferred several loads of the precious fluid
to the tank of the Eagle, working with extreme caution, when Jack gave
a warning hiss from his post at the hedge screening the field.

"They're coming!" he cried in a whisper as he hurried up.



CHAPTER XV

A BIT OF SCIENCE

As Jimmie announced the willingness of the two lads to accompany the
German forces he was looking straight at Dave.  The lad from the
Northwest thought he caught the slightest tremor of Jimmie's eyelid,
but was not positive.  However, acting on the assumption that he was
correct and that Jimmie had some purpose in declaring in so positive a
manner his intentions, Dave thought best to offer no remonstrance.

With senses keenly alert the two boys watched closely the actions of
the group of officers and soldiers about them.

Their stay in this place would be short, for it would not take long to
change engines and have the troops moving westward again.  A second
section of the train was following closely.  The boys knew that no time
would be lost by those in charge of the movement of troop trains.

Therefore they were especially anxious to discover some means of
escape, if possible.  None, it seemed, presented itself.

Hedged round by a ring of soldiers who were fully armed, the boys could
see others at a short distance patrolling the station grounds.  An open
space of some considerable area was occupied just now by small groups
of soldiers who had left the train by permission and were walking about
for exercise.  Electric lights were mounted on poles to give
illumination to the grounds.

The Kaiser and his party again resumed their interrupted progress
toward the rear of the train, leaving an officer with the boys.

"What are they waiting for, Jimmie?" asked Dave, peering about.

"Search me," replied the red-headed lad.  "They've got the engine
coupled on, I guess, and I'm ready to go."

"Do you mean to go all the way to Verdun?" asked Dave anxiously.

"Not on your photograph done in oils," responded Jimmie with more vigor
than elegance.  "We shake this bunch as soon as a chance comes!"

"Right-o!" was Dave's rejoinder.  "That's what I say, you know."

"I don't know where the other boys have gone by this time, but it's a
cinch that they won't stray far from the line of railroad if their
gasoline holds out.  If we can drop off between stops we can signal
them and maybe they'll find us.  It ought to be easy."

"You jolly well keep up your spirit," said Dave admiringly.  "I rather
think, don't you know, that I'm fortunate in finding you boys.  It'll
be something to remember when I get back home."

"Thanks," returned Jimmie.  "It's a good thing we can say the same.  It
isn't often we meet up with fellows as full of grit as you."

"I haven't done anything at all yet," replied Dave modestly.  "In fact,
I only made a bally mess of what I attempted.  But you wait--"

"Listen!" commanded Jimmie, interrupting what Dave was about to say.

"I'm listening, don't you know," replied Dave.

"What do you hear?" asked The Wolf, with his head on one side.

"Why, bless my heart, it sounds quite like the exhaust of a motor.  Now
I wonder what it can be.  It's a petrol motor, too!"

"I know what it is!" Jimmie almost cried out loud.  "It's an airship!"

"Can it be the boys coming back after us?" questioned Dave doubtingly.

"That doesn't sound like the exhaust from the Eagle," protested Jimmie
with a shake of his head.  "She's got a dandy muffler."

Others of the party beside the train were now observing the noise that
the lads had noticed.  An officer dashed across the open space on which
the soldiers were exercising.  Running up to the group in which the
Kaiser walked, he saluted gravely and reported the circumstance.

Nearer and nearer came the sound.  At length it appeared directly
overhead.  Looking up, the boys could faintly make out a great gray
form at some distance above the train.  For an instant only it
appeared, to vanish the next instant in the darkness.  The clamor of
the motors, however, was not diminished.

"He's going to land near here," whispered Jimmie, grasping Dave's arm
in his excitement.  "We'll soon see who and what he is."

The boy's prediction was correct.  For a short time the aviator circled
about the station, evidently searching for a suitable place in which to
make a landing.  In another moment it was seen clearly that he intended
to land as near the station as possible.

Of all the observers none was more interested than the two Boy Scouts
so strangely thrown into the company of this train load of fighting men
and their emperor.  Jimmie was the first to discover the pilot's
intentions.  Grasping Dave's arm, he dragged the other a short distance
away from the spot, to be clear of the descending plane.

A switch engine was bringing up a coach to attach it to the rear of the
train.  The coach was evidently intended for the use of the Kaiser, for
it was stopped exactly opposite the little party surrounding him.

At a signal from the man whom the whole German army worshipped the
engine moved the coach a short distance down the track while the
emperor and his staff gave their attention to the daring aviator.

"Geewhillikins!" exclaimed Jimmie breathlessly.  "Those fellows better
look out a little or they'll get run over!"

It truly appeared as if this contingency were about to occur, for the
soldiers made no attempt to clear the tiny parade ground.  Instead they
waited for the approach of the speeding plane.

In another moment the machine was upon the ground and running along
upon its wheels.  Many willing hands grasped portions of the framework
and assisted in bringing the machine to a halt.

Before the task of stopping the aeroplane was fairly accomplished the
pilot had leaped from his seat.  He approached the group of officers
about the Kaiser with rather unsteady steps and gravely saluted.

The salute was returned by the entire party, who then stood at
attention.  From the center of the party the Kaiser stepped forward.

A few short, brisk sentences were exchanged between the Kaiser and the
stranger who had descended so precipitately from the sky.

"Gee!" exclaimed Jimmie in disgust.  "They're talking German, and I
can't understand it at all!  What rotten luck!"

"Hush!" responded Dave.  "I'm getting a word now and again.  Perhaps I
can make out what it is the chap is reporting."

"If you can understand that awful bunch of noises they call a language
you're going some!" declared Jimmie, half to himself.

"Just a moment now," said Dave.  "He's unburdening himself of a long
talk about the movement of some troops, I take it.  Now he is saying,"
the boy went on, "that he has seen or some one has seen a strange
aeroplane near here.  It is supposed to be one of the French machines
that has somehow got past the lines and is scouting."

"Let him report that stuff all he wants to," was Jimmie's comment in an
uninterested manner.  "We should worry a lot about that!"

"But suppose it is the Eagle he has sighted?"

"Ah!" was the lad's quick ejaculation.  "It can't be the Eagle."

"Why not?" asked Dave.  "Isn't it entirely possible?"

"Well, come to think of it, you are right.  It might be the Eagle he
has seen and is reporting.  What can we do to stop him if he should
take a soldier or two with him now and start out to plug the little old
Eagle and her crew full of bullet holes?"

"I can't imagine, you know," was Dave's puzzled reply, "unless we
prevent his getting away at all.  I don't see how that is to be done.'"

A sudden resolve came to the red-headed lad as he pondered over the
situation.  Glancing quickly about to observe whether the two were
under surveillance, he drew from his pocket several small objects.

"Stay just about here, Dave," he said.  "I'm going over to the machine
and see what I can do to fix it so they can't run very well.  If I'm
successful it may mean that we can save the boys on the Eagle.  If I'm
caught at it I'll take part in a little shooting-fest myself, and I'll
act the part of the shootee.  Keep your eyes peeled, and if anyone
comes this way put me wise by whistling."

"Don't try anything rash, now," was Dave's remark at this statement.
"If they catch you doing tricks to their machine it'll go hard."

"I'm going to take a long chance," Jimmie answered, with the peculiar
setting of his jaws that his comrades had learned so well to understand
meant a resolve that nothing could swerve.  "Keep your eyes open."

"But, I say," was Dave's further objection, "it won't do any good to
drain his gasoline.  There's likely a supply right here and he can
reload in a few minutes.  Use all your caution, Jimmie!"

"All right, I'll use all my caution and something else," was the answer
as the lad moved slowly toward the aeroplane, as if to casually examine
the rigging out of a boy's natural curiosity.

For some moments Dave stood fairly torn by his emotions.  He was
fearful that Jimmie would be discovered meddling with the mechanism and
that the consequences of such discovery would be dire.

Glancing alertly from side to side, the lad stood at his post in a
fever of excitement.  He strove to keep his hands from trembling.  His
knees seemed scarcely able to support the weight of his body.

Presently the group of officers about the Kaiser seemed to have
questioned the aviator to their complete satisfaction, for several
turned and walked down the track toward the coach waiting for the use
of the Kaiser.  Others walked briskly away across the parade ground,
while the aviator himself and the Kaiser walked together along the
track toward the aeroplane that had brought the man to earth.

Dave was about to signal Jimmie that danger was near, when he saw that
the lad was coming back.  So interested were the aviator and his
auditor in the conversation that was going on that they apparently did
not notice the boy leaving the vicinity of the machine.

Jimmie joined Dave with an air of extreme boredness.

"What did you do, Jimmie?" asked Dave breathlessly.

"I fixed his clock, all right!" was the answer.  Jimmie pointed to one
of the electric lights swinging from a pole not far away.

"See that electric light?" he asked.  "Well, that's the greatest
invention of man.  Without it the whole world would lose lots of time."

"What has that to do with the aeroplane?" asked Dave wonderingly.

"Nothing.  I just wanted to get your mind off the subject.  You're
trembling like a leaf," answered Jimmie.  "If they see you it'll be a
dead give-away.  Can't you stop shaking so?  What's the matter?"

"I'm going to stop.  I was just thinking about what would happen to you
if they saw you at the machine.  I'm all right now."

"You'd better be.  If they start any questions, just remember that you
never saw an aeroplane nor a Boy Scout in your life."

"There he is now," said Dave, pointing toward the machine.

"He's going to try to make a start," said Jimmie.  "But for goodness'
sake," the boy went on, "get your mind off it.  Look away."

By this time the aviator had reached the machine and was preparing for
another flight.  Willing hands had been stretched forth from the crowd
of soldiers who had but a moment before ignored the machine entirely,
and the plane was turned about and headed away from the station.

A preliminary explosion or two from the motors announced to all that
the aviator intended leaving the place.  Other explosions rapidly
succeeded the first.  Then came a silence.  The aviator was examining
his machine, evidently seeking for the cause of some trouble.

The exhausts of his motor had been regular, but something had gone
wrong, and he was trying to locate the difficulty.

Presently he again started the engine in an effort to warm it up.
Becoming impatient at his failure to readily locate the cause of the
uneven running of his motor, the aviator turned on full power.

For an instant the clatter of the motor drowned all other sounds.
Throughout the roar of the exhaust the sharp ears of the two boys could
discover a strange vibration that told of trouble.

Before they could again turn to examine the aeroplane that had been
wheeled along the ground for some distance, there came a crash,
followed by a rending, tearing sound.  Then all was still again.

As Jimmie and Dave turned they saw the aeroplane lying a wreck, torn by
its own propellers.



CHAPTER XVI

UNDER FALSE COLORS

"Well, let 'em come," declared Harry, hastening toward the Eagle with
the last load of gasoline.  "We are ready for a quick start now, and if
they want to see a correct imitation of three boys beating it down the
road they'd better hurry.  We can't wait much longer."

"Sure!" put in Ned.  "Shall we whistle a warning signal to hurry them
up a little, or shall we let them miss the boat?"

"Let 'em miss the boat if they can't get here on time," laughed Jack,
carrying out the joke, although the case of the lads was apt to become
anything but a joke if their presence was discovered by the German
soldiers who were approaching at some distance down the road.

"Hurry, boys," cautioned Ned, laying aside his jovial air as he began
preparations for departure.  "We mustn't get caught now."

"All right, Boss, we're with you every minute," declared Jack.

The boy was already in the fuselage of the Eagle.  He reached an eager
hand to assist Harry with the gasoline.  Harry climbed up to a
favorable position and was about to pour the gasoline into the fuel
tank while Ned, in his haste to be off, was priming the motors.

Suddenly all three were startled to hear a voice from the rear of the
machine they were occupying.

"Halt!" they heard.  "Come out of that machine or I fire!"

"Who's that?" asked Jack, pausing in the operation of emptying the
fuel.  "What do you want and how did you come there?"

"Give her the gas, Ned!" urged Harry.  "We're all ready to go and he's
on the ground.  He can't catch us in a million years."

"I can't make the engine go at all," almost sobbed Ned in his
excitement.  "Somebody has been monkeying with the machinery."

"Ha, ha!" laughed the newcomer.  "So the engine won't run, eh?"

"No, it won't!" snapped Ned as he turned a wrathful face toward the
rear of the Eagle to observe the stranger.  "Did you do it?"

"Yah!" came the answer.  "Mine comrade and myself, ve done tings mit
der wires.  Dere is no current by der spark plugs alretty!"

"Good night!" was Ned's ejaculation of despair as he realized that the
words of the stranger were but too true.  "No current!"

"Yah!" laughed the stranger.  "But," he added, "we haf current in our
guns.  Maybe you like dot ve show you.  Und ve vill, too, aber you
don'd come out of dot machine, und do id quick!"

"I guess it's all up, boys," said Ned forlornly.  "We might as well
unload.  They have got the upper hand of us this time."

"I move we cut and run for it," proposed Jack with spirit.  "We could
easily beat them in the darkness and amongst the trees."

"I don't think so," cautioned Harry.  "They have got help coming up the
road, and we don't know how many of them are near here."

"No, boys," counseled Ned, "we'd better try some other stunt.  If they
get angry at us they might do anything, and we can't stand it to get
shot to pieces just now.  Remember, Jimmie and Dave need us."

"All right, then, Old Fox," was Jack's reply in a resigned tone, "we'll
just trot along as meek as lambs and leave the Eagle to their tender
mercies.  I tell you, though, I hate to do it."

"Hark!  I hear the others coming through the hedge!" said Harry.

"There's quite a bunch of them, to judge by the sound."

"Well, the more the merrier," declared Ned.  "In numbers there is
strength, I've heard, and perhaps in numbers will come our chance.  If
they'll only get in one another's way for a while we'll give them an
opportunity to hear what a real old-fashioned 'good-by' is like."

"Come oudt, now," commanded the stranger, banging at the framework of
the Eagle with a very serviceable looking rifle.

"Coming!" announced Jack as he prepared to descend.  Ned and Harry at
once followed their comrade, and directly found themselves on the
ground, confronted by several men in the uniform of one of the German
regiments.  The officer in command looked his surprise.

Only a few words were needed from their captor to acquaint the officer
with the situation.  He laughed immoderately at the apparent joke of
the purloiners of his gasoline being caught before they had time to use
it.  His merriment was infectious, and presently the entire group were
giving vent to their feelings.

The three boys felt that they were the object of the soldiers'
ridicule, yet they were unable to make any reply, since they did not
understand sufficient German to be able to converse with their captors.

When the officer had finally laughed himself tired he gave a command
and the soldiers formed about the lads and began escorting them toward
the town.  Once there, the officer led the way to a house with which he
was evidently familiar.

Lights were brought and an examination of the lads was begun.  After
several preliminary questions the officer found that he had met his
match in the matter of wits.  Ned declined absolutely to give any
information other than that he and his comrades were from the United
States and heartily wished to be back there.

"So-o-o," was the astonished comment of the officer.  "Und you are
neutral and vish to be neutral all the while?"

"Yes, sir," was Ned's reply as he looked the other squarely in the eye.
"We are not spies and cannot give you any information."

"But you, would go oudt and start somethings maybe if I let you go."

"No, sir, we wouldn't," declared Ned.  "We came to this village and
wanted to buy some gasoline and food, but a man we met wouldn't sell
any.  Instead of that we were shot at as we were leaving."

"Oh, vell," said the officer, waving his hand in a deprecating manner,
"who cares about a little ting like dot in var time?"

"Well, if we had got hit by one of the bullets we wouldn't have felt
very joyful about it, I can tell you that!" said Ned.

"Und why was it that this man wouldn't sell you the gasoline?"

"I don't know unless it was because we wouldn't answer his questions
about the movement of German troops," answered Ned.

"I don't think that was it at all," laughed the officer.  "It was those
uniforms of yours.  You see, they are different than what he was
accustomed to seeing, and he probably thought they were Russian."

"Possibly that was it," agreed Ned, although he secretly doubted this
flimsy explanation.  "Of course, I don't know."

"Yes," the other went on, "I'm sure that was it, and I suggest that the
best plan would be to change them.  You will therefore remove your
uniforms and we will provide you with others more suitable."

"Well, if you please," Ned remonstrated, "we'd much rather take our
chances wearing these same uniforms.  They're ours and others are not.
It wouldn't be very nice to go back on your uniform."

"But you will change, nevertheless," announced the other.  "We need
those uniforms and you don't.  So be quick about it."

At a signal one of the men now came forward bearing an armful of
clothes, which he threw down upon the floor in front of the lads.

"Good night!" said Jack as he put on a coarse shirt several sizes too
large.  "This is no joke at all.  Those fellows were laughing a few
minutes ago, but they'll laugh worse than ever when they see us."

In fact, the boys had to laugh at each other, so strange was the
appearance of the three when they were finally dressed.

"Now," said the officer with a smile, when the exchange of clothing had
been arranged, "we shall let you occupy this little room for a time."

He indicated a small room leading from the larger one.  It was the room
from which the soldier had provided the clothing the boys now wore.

In another moment the lads found themselves alone with the door leading
into the outer room securely fastened.

"Just a little bit dark in here, isn't it?" inquired Harry as the door
closed and the sound of the falling latch came to their ears.

"Yes, but I managed to smuggle my pocket contents into these clothes,"
said Ned.  "I have the searchlight yet."

"Let's use it, then, and be quick about it," suggested Harry.  "I don't
somehow like the looks of this place.  I'd like to be on the little old
Eagle again and homeward bound."

"I guess that's the pretty general sentiment," said Ned as he brought
forth the searchlight and proceeded to send its flame into the corners
of the room.  "We can't get anywhere by remaining here."

"Hello!" exclaimed Harry, lighting upon some boxes in one corner.
"What's this stuff here?  Looks like a gents' furnishing store."

"Why, it's German uniforms, and lots of 'em!" declared Jack.

"Sure enough, it is!" agreed Harry, pulling several garments from one
of the boxes.  "Now that looks more like business than these ragged old
clothes.  I wonder if we could get a fit in here."

"Go as far as you like!" urged Jack.  "Throw a fit any old place and
see if we care.  The house is yours, so help yourself."

"Aw, you go on!" scorned Harry, administering a playful blow on Jack's
ear.  "If you weren't so small I'd give you a licking."

"Yes, you would!" derisively answered the other.  "You have never seen
the day you could do that.  That," he added, "is a man's job!"

"Boys, boys!" cautioned Ned.  "A joke is a joke, but don't carry it too
far.  We must save our strength for more vital things."

Harry and Jack had been busily engaged in pulling the uniforms out of
the box, and now stood erect, each holding in his hands garments that
seemed to be of suitable size for the boys to wear.

"What's the trouble now, Jack?" asked Ned.

"Why, I can't see whether these clothes are the right size or not."

"You don't need to see," retorted Ned.  "Try them on and they'll be
like the baby in the story."

"Oh, I know that!" cried Harry eagerly.  "The nurse didn't need a
thermometer, because if the water was too hot the baby turned red and
if it was too cold he turned blue.  Is that the answer?"

"Right you are!" declared Ned, laughing.  "So we'll try the clothes on,
and if they're right they'll fit, and if they're not right, why--"

"Why," interrupted Jack, "if they're not right we should worry."

"Yes, I guess that's about it," answered Ned as he picked up an outfit
that he assumed to be the right size.

The boys found little difficulty in getting clothing of suitable sizes,
and soon stood forth arrayed in German uniforms.

"Now, then, let's see what the chances of escape may be," said Ned.

A trial of the one small window showed that it was not locked.  There
appeared to be no one outside guarding the exit, and, since the noises
in the outer room had ceased, the lads determined to leave by the
window.  In a short time they again stood outside the house.

To make their way back to the field where the Eagle had been left was a
short task and quickly accomplished.  There they found, to their
astonishment, that the two aeroplanes remained in the same position and
were apparently unguarded.

This time, however, the lads were more cautious in their approach, and
reconnoitered the vicinity thoroughly before approaching the plane.

Ned set to work immediately and soon announced that he had again
connected the severed wires.  In another moment the Eagle rose above
the field into the darkness of the night.



CHAPTER XVII

ACCUSED

A smile came to Jimmie's lips as he heard the crashing sound that
indicated wrecking of the plane.  He turned to observe the condition in
which he would find the machinery, hoping that it had been damaged
beyond repair, or at least so badly damaged that its repair would be a
matter of considerable time and effort.

As he wheeled he observed that Dave already had turned to look in that
direction, and that his face bore a look of astonishment and surprise.
Jimmie's own smile died away as the thought of possible injury to the
plucky pilot of the craft came to his mind.

"Oh, Dave!" he cried anxiously, laying his hand upon his comrade's arm.
"Can you see the pilot?  Has he been hurt badly?"

"I can't see from here, but there's a big crowd gathering about the
wreckage, and they seem to be picking something up."

"Gee!" was Jimmie's regretful rejoinder.  "I surely hope he got out of
the mess without getting hurt.  That's all.  We haven't got any
particular grudge against him, and I didn't wish to harm him."

"What on earth did you do, anyway, Jimmie?" inquired Dave.

"That was easy enough," replied the other.  "I had observed some bolts
through the hub of the propeller.  I also had several bullets in my
pocket, and a good-sized chunk of lead that had been used for filling
some holes in a piece of iron back there in the camp at Peremysl.  What
could be easier than to take out the loose bolt I noticed and fill the
hole plumb full of lead?  That was all."

"But lead wouldn't wreck a machine so completely as that!"

"Don't you think it wouldn't!" boasted Jimmie, rather proud of the
manner in which he had brought about the destruction of the magnificent
machine.  "Just you ask some one when you get home.  Go to a machine
shop and ask 'em what an unbalanced condition will do to a high-speed
piece of machinery that isn't firmly fastened to a solid base."

"But I can't understand, you know," went on Dave, "just how it was
done.  I know that you unbalanced the apparatus, but how should that do
such damage as this we see here?"

"Well, to be honest with you, I didn't expect that it would.  My only
thought was to slip out the big bolt, put in enough lead to fill the
hole if I had time, and then let the vibration of the unbalanced
machine render it impossible for the aviator to steer or handle the
plane.  I had not figured on anything giving way as it did."

"Then you don't want all the credit for wrecking the machine?" inquired
Dave, with a twinkle in his eye.  "Is that it?"

"For some time I don't want any of the credit," replied Jimmie,
lowering his voice as an officer approached their position.

"Here comes a fellow," Dave stated, "that would probably be mighty glad
to connect us with the incident.  But I know nothing!"

"Nor I!" declared Jimmie.  "I didn't even see the thing happen!"

"That's true, too, as I can easily testify," added Dave.

Their visitor proved to be none other than von Liebknecht, the officer
in charge of the regiment, with whom they were now well acquainted.

"You boys are wanted at the rear," he announced.  "Walk directly along
the train and report at the coach reserved for the Kaiser."

"Yes, sir," answered Jimmie, giving the Boy Scout salute.  "And who
shall we find there to whom we shall report?"

"Fritz and Otto, whom you both know, will be on duty.  Tell them that I
have sent you back and that you are there for special duty.  They are
expecting you and will give you instructions."

"Very good, sir," replied Jimmie gravely.  Then, as von Liebknecht
turned to proceed toward the little station building, he added:

"I see an accident has happened to the aeroplane.  I hope the aviator
was not badly injured.  They're carrying him away."

For a moment von Liebknecht paused to look searchingly into the face of
the boy.  Jimmie returned his gaze unflinchingly.  He said afterward
that it was quite the hardest thing he had ever attempted, and several
times he was on the point of letting his gaze wander.  However, he
stood the ordeal well and presently heard the other say:

"He is not badly injured.  A few minor contusions and a scratch or so
comprise all his hurts.  It is very fortunate, however, for all parties
concerned," placing peculiar emphasis upon the phrase, "that it is no
more serious.  It might mean trouble for some one."

"I sure am glad that the fellow is able to get about," was Jimmie's
statement.  "He's a plucky chap, and from what I saw of him when he
landed he is an expert in the matter of handling the aeroplane.  It
would certainly be a pity if he should be killed or badly injured."

"The German army would lose one of its very best aviators if he were
gone," von Liebknecht replied, "and although the loss of his life would
be irreparable, it might be decided to take payment in kind."

"Meaning?" asked Jimmie, paling slightly under the freckles as the full
import of the other's words came to him.

"Meaning," von Liebknecht replied with wonderful self-control, "that
you will report at once as I directed you."

With these words he turned and resumed his interrupted journey toward
the station, striding along with considerable haste.

"Gee, Bo!" exclaimed Jimmie as the two lads started for the rear, "that
was some close shave!  That fellow has got a suspicioner tucked away
inside his brain that is working overtime.  Every little thing that
happens he thinks is caused by a spy or something like that.  I
wouldn't have his disposition for a million dollars in Mexican money."

In spite of the gravity of their position Dave could not resist the
temptation to laugh at Jimmie's exaggerated statement.

The lads could see that the switching engine that had been moving the
coach was making preparations to couple it to the rear of the train,
and lost no time in proceeding in its direction.

As stated by von Liebknecht, they found Otto and Fritz acting as guard.
The two had received the instructions and were prepared to take charge
of the two lads accordingly.

Shortly after Jimmie and Dave reached the coach it was attached to the
train and the journey westward was resumed.

Jimmie and Dave had been placed in a compartment at the rear of the
coach, together with several of the attaches of the Kaiser's staff.
The Kaiser himself occupied a compartment near the forward end, and
here he was conducting the necessary details of preparation for the
exceedingly strenuous work that lay before the German forces.

For a long time the train jolted on.  Engines were changed and train
crews replaced by others, and still the regiment proceeded westward.
The soldiers disposed themselves about the cars in such positions as
were possible and slept the tired sleep of overworked humanity.

Still the Kaiser and his staff sat and discussed plans and prepared
orders for the grave matters confronting them in the western
amphitheatre of war.  Apparently their endurance knew no bounds.  Sleep
seemed to be farthest from their thoughts.

But at length, wearied from their long vigil and arduous labors, the
group were glad to find the Kaiser disposed to snatch a few moments of
rest.  The maps were folded, the dispatch boxes closed, and all
prepared to find positions where they could sleep.

"But the two boys!" von Liebknecht suggested as final preparations were
being made for dismissing the group.  "What of them?"

"Their case can be settled at once," declared the Kaiser.  "Let them be
brought here and we shall question them."

And so it was that as the dawn was breaking ruddily in the east Jimmie
and Dave were wakened from their sound sleep and informed that their
presence was desired in the compartment where the Kaiser waited.

On their feet almost instantly, the two lads rubbed the sleep from
their eyes.  They stretched and yawned prodigiously.

"Setting-up exercise," commanded Jimmie sharply.  "It'll wake us up in
fine shape.  Here goes--one, two three."

Dave followed Jimmie's example, and the two went through a short
routine of bending and turning exercises that started the blood
coursing through their veins and cleared away the fog of sleep.

"There!" announced the red-headed lad presently to the officer.  "Now
we're ready for the Kaiser or the whole bloomin' German army.  Lead on
and we'll follow as closely as you like."

Their movements had been closely observed by a group about them, and,
in spite of the fact that they were foreigners, many a kindly glance
told of the attitude of the men with whom they were placed.

The train had slowed somewhat in climbing a grade, and the boys found
no difficulty in following their guide.  As they proceeded slowly
toward the forward end of the coach Dave found a chance to nudge Jimmie.

"If we only knew what was about here, this would be a grand chance,
don't you know, to give them the slip."

"What do you mean, give them the slip?"

"Why, drop off the train and fade away into the landscape somewhere
hereabouts!" declared Dave with a glance over his shoulder.

"With the day just opening, like switching on all the electric lights
in the world!" objected Jimmie.  "The intention of the gentleman from
Vancouver is excellent, but I'm afraid that his execution of the
maneuver would be decidedly rotten.  It won't do just now."

"Perhaps not," sighed Dave, "but just the same, I'd like to try it out
once to see whether we could make a go of it."

"Nothing doing!" declared Jimmie.  "We're under suspicion already, or I
miss my guess.  The events of the last few hours are enough to let us
know that if we tried anything like that the Germans wouldn't take
kindly to any such plan.  We wouldn't get very far, I fear."

"All right, then," agreed Dave.  "I guess you're right."

"Sure I am!" went on Jimmie reassuringly.  "Just leave it to me, old
chap, and we'll grab the first opportunity that comes along with a
genuine Frank Gotch toe hold and hang on till we put the German
shoulders to the mat for the count.  Leave it to me."

"I'll be with you for all I'm worth!" declared Dave.

Their conversation had attracted the attention of the officer, who now
commanded silence on their part.

"We are now approaching the Kaiser's apartment," that worthy stated,
with a show of reverence as he pronounced the title of his superior.
"You shall not talk until you are asked to do so."

"Correct!" came Jimmie's reply.  "We will keep as still as mice."

The three were admitted in response to the officer's knock, and the
boys found that the little compartment was now somewhat crowded.  Their
presence filled the place until there was not a vacant seat.

For some moments as the train rolled along the upgrade the Kaiser paid
no attention to them, busying himself over a bundle of papers.

At length he looked up and searched the boys carefully with his
piercing gaze.  After he had apparently taken a complete inventory of
the two boys--one in the uniform of his own Uhlans and the other in the
uniform of the Boy Scouts--he turned to one of his aides.

"What is the charge you wish to bring against these young men?"

"That of being spies and tampering with the aeroplane last night!" came
the startling answer.



CHAPTER XVIII

PURSUIT

As the Eagle circled about in a widening spiral Harry and Jack looked
over the rim of the fuselage at the country spreading like a gigantic
map in bas-relief beneath them.

A tiny glow from the cowl lamp in front of the pilot's position showed
Ned that the Eagle was now headed almost directly west, while the
indicators showed an altitude of approximately three thousand feet.  At
a speed approximating forty miles per hour the great bird-like machine
winged its way with its burden of adventurers.

"Tell you what, boys," Jack said presently, growing weary of trying to
discover features in the obscurity below that covered the landscape,
"this makes me feel just like I imagine that old guy must have felt
when he went out after the Golden Fleece or something or other."

"Who was that?" asked Harry as he reached for the binoculars for the
purpose of scanning their position in the hope of discerning some
indication of their whereabouts.  "What are you talking about?"

"Well, I guess it was Jason," answered Jack.  "Remember the stories Ned
was reading to us about those old Greeks and others?"

"Oh, yes, now I do remember.  But where do we resemble him?"

"Well, he went out after a great prize, and we are after the same sort
of thing, only with us we want live game.  We are after the prize of
Jimmie's freedom and safety."

"Good thought!" cried Ned.  "And, like the chap in the story, I am sure
we'll go after the prize with the same determination and resolve to win
out at all costs."

"You're right, we will!" exclaimed Harry with vigor.  "We won't rest
content until we have Jimmie away from those German Uhlans!"

"And Dave, too!" put in Jack.  "We can't forget the fact that he wants
to get back as well as Jimmie.  And he's done us pretty good service,
while we're speaking about him."

"That he has," declared Ned.  "I wonder just where those two young
rascals may be at this minute.  I hope we're not running ahead of them
and missing them in the running."

"They were going west by train unless Jimmie was greatly mistaken when
he gave us those signals from the hilltop," said Jack.  "Now, if they
got going soon after we dropped Dave into their camp, we ought to be
able to see their train soon."

"Are we anywhere near the line of railroad?" asked Harry, peering
through the glasses in an effort to sweep the surrounding country.

"We are not a great distance away, at any rate," answered Ned as he
gave a touch to the levers to straighten the Eagle from a dip due to
running into an air pocket.  "It should be near here, I think."

"I think I can see an illumination away to the southward that looks
like it might be a locomotive," announced Harry.

"Let me have the glasses a moment," requested Jack.  "Maybe I can pick
up something.  But," he added, "I think the railroad will be more to
the northward.  We passed Cracow some time ago."

"Guess you're right, after all," agreed Harry.  "Take a look over to
the northward and see what you can see."

"More than likely," said Jack, preparing to shift his position
slightly, the better to observe the landscape to the northward, "it'll
be a case of the bear going over the mountain to see what he could see.
The other side of the mountain is about all we can discover.  In this
darkness we can't get much of a view."

"It won't do any harm to look, anyway," ventured Harry.

Jack accordingly raised the binoculars and swept the northward section
of the country.  Nothing could be seen that was of interest, and he
swung around, the better to complete his view.

"Great smokes!" he ejaculated as he peered toward the rear.  "If
they're not coming after us, I'll be a Dutchman myself!"

"Who?" asked Ned eagerly.  "Can you see the train?"

"Train nothing!" declared Jack.  "It's those bloomin' Dutchmen from the
village!  They've evidently got a supply of gasoline to replace what we
stole and are coming up like a greyhound after a rabbit.  That's some
speedy plane they've got!"

"Can you see how many men are riding?" asked Ned.

"Can't make them out," replied Jack.  "Suppose you look a bit.  My eyes
get tired from the strain.  Guess I look too hard."

"Take the levers a minute," requested Ned, "and I'll see what I can
see.  Maybe they're not after us at all."

"Well, if they're not after us, they stick to the trail most remarkably
close, that's all I can say!" remarked Jack as he prepared to take
Ned's place at the pilot's position.

"I can see them now," announced Ned as he leveled the glasses at the
pursuing plane.  "They are getting nearer all the while.  It seems to
me I can discover three men in it, too."

"I suppose they're too far away to discover what they look like,"
suggested Harry, "I can just see the machine now myself."

"It's pretty hard to tell what they are," said Ned, "only they seem to
be pretty well protected with helmets and heavy clothes."

"Wish we were in the same comfortable condition," smiled Harry.  "I'm
slightly chilly myself and hope you are the same, thank you."

"Greatly obliged," returned Ned.  "You are entirely correct."

"Look here," interposed Jack, "if you fellows are sufficiently frozen,
I've got a scheme to propose.  Want to hear it?"

"Slip us an earful," said Harry in response to Jack's query, although
he winced slightly at Ned's reproachful glance, for he knew well the
older lad's aversion to slang.

"Suppose the railroad is over there to the northward," went on Jack.
"In that case, Jimmie and Dave'll be in that direction.  Now, by
running over that way we can get nearer to them and at the same time
discover whether that other machine is following us."

"Fine!" declared Ned.  "Head to the northward, and if they are after us
we'll quickly find it out.  Then we can determine what to do."

Accordingly Jack shifted the levers and the Eagle swung sharply to the
northward.  Ned kept the glasses leveled at the following machine in an
effort to discover the movements of its pilot.

Scarcely had the Eagle regained a level keel after the sharp turn
before Ned's exclamation of dismay attracted the attention of his chums.

"They're after us as sure as shooting!" he cried.  "They're cutting
across the corner of the angle.  That'll give them some advantage.  It
won't pay us to try any more dodging if we want to outrun them."

"Sure!" declared Jack.  "The pursuer always has the shorter course to
travel if the one running away tries to tack about any."

"In that case it would be best to keep straight ahead and trust to our
speed to carry us away from them," suggested Harry.

"Yes," agreed Jack, "stern chases are always long chases."

"Do you suppose we can give them the slip somehow without using up all
our gasoline?" asked Jack.  "I don't want to get too far away from
Jimmie and Dave, either.  Can't we work it somehow?"

"If it were only a little lighter," ventured Harry, "we might land
somewhere and argue it out with them from behind a stone wall or
trench."

"That wouldn't be very profitable," Ned argued.  "If we should start
anything like that we'd be in all kinds of trouble at once.  Our best
plan would, I think, be to cut and run for it to the westward.  If
they're after us and mean to catch us, they would try to follow.  Even
though this may be an army plane they are using, I believe the Eagle is
capable of outrunning them."

"Then here goes for a fast ride," declared Jack, reaching for the
handle controlling the mixing valve of the carburetor.  "I'm going to
slip in a little more air and shove the spark ahead a few notches."

"Hang onto your hat," laughed Harry.  "If Jack gets the speed bug
nicely working there won't be much left that isn't tied on!"

"Right you are," responded Jack as the Eagle seemed to fairly leap
forward in answer to his touch.  "Hang on tight!"

Jack's caution was needed, for the speed materially increased.  Ned
continued to keep watch with the aid of the binoculars, while Harry
scanned the surrounding country in an effort to make out any features
that would guide them.

Presently the others were delighted to hear a cry from Ned.

"We're leaving them behind at last, boys!" he managed to shout as he
sheltered his head from the stinging blast of air singing through the
rigging of the Eagle.  "They're getting smaller in the glasses!"

"Slow down, Jack," advised Harry.  "Let's watch them a bit and see what
they're going to do.  Maybe it's only a trick."

"No, it isn't a trick," said Ned as the Eagle's speed decreased.  "That
plane is going to land, I believe.  I think I can see a light on the
ground a little to the northward of their position."

"Suppose we swing round in a big circle and see if we can discover what
they are going to do," suggested Jack, reaching for the rudder levers.
"If they're going to land and get assistance we ought to know it before
it's too late.  If they're giving up it'll be all right."

"Stand by to come about, then," agreed Ned.  "It won't do any harm, and
if we cut in the muffler we should be able to ride above them without
being discovered.  The upper sky is very dark yet."

Accordingly Jack shifted the rudders and brought the Eagle sharply
about, heading directly eastward again.  As the plane proceeded to
retrace the course so recently followed the lad brought the machine to
a higher level and cut in the muffler, entirely deadening the clamor of
the motors.  He had been running with the exhaust partly open in order
to obtain every bit of the engine's efficiency in the flight.

When the boys had reached an altitude that seemed sufficient Jack again
described a circle in the air that brought them almost directly over
the position to which the pursuing plane had descended.

"Ha!" cried Ned, turning the glasses downward.  "I can see a train
standing at a station.  The grounds are lighted by shaded electric
lights, I believe, and there seem to be soldiers moving about beside
the train.  I saw a shower of sparks just then that looked as if they
came from a switch engine.  I'll bet that's a railroad terminal and the
train is one moving troops westward from Peremysl to Verdun!"

"Hope you are right and that the train has got Jimmie and Dave on it,"
put in Jack eagerly.  "Maybe we can get a chance to rescue them yet.
What do you say to trying?"

"The chances would be very poor just now, I'm thinking," replied Harry
doubtfully.  "With all those soldiers there we wouldn't have much of a
chance, especially as we are not able to communicate with the boys,
even granting that they are on that train."

"Better give up the idea, then," regretfully acknowledged Jack.

"Can you make out anything, Ned?" asked Harry, peering downward.

"Nothing in particular," replied the lad.  "It seems to me that the
aviator is trying to start the plane again.  I can see it at the
station under the lights.  Can you hear the exhaust of his engine?"

"I thought I did just then," replied Harry.  "Listen!"

All three boys strained their ears to catch any possible sounds from
below while the Eagle on noiseless wings circled high above the station
grounds.  A confusion of minor sounds came faintly up.

Out of the murmur a crashing, rending noise was heard.



CHAPTER XIX

LESE MAJESTY

"But we're not spies!" snapped Jimmie truculently.  "We wouldn't be
spies for anything!"

"Silence!" commanded the officer in a voice denoting his displeasure at
the interruption.  "It will be best for you to keep silent."

"You may give your answer to the charges if you desire," said the
Kaiser in a not unkindly tone.  "But," he went on, "you will remember
that if the report of Captain von Liebknecht is at all correct matters
look rather unfavorable for you at present."

"I'll admit that latter part without argument," said Jimmie, much
relieved that he was being given an opportunity to speak.  "Things look
rather odd, as you say, but it is only looks.  The facts are that we
are over in this country on a peaceful mission, and have refused to
give information to either the Germans or the Russians.  That rather
squares the account, doesn't it?"

"In a measure, yes," admitted the Kaiser.  "But your presence with the
Russian troops does not incline us to look with much favor upon
yourself or your comrades.  Further," he continued, "the fact that your
comrades have a high-powered aeroplane in our territory and have tried
to rescue you from our regiment appears as if they do not care to be
open and frank with us.  Can you explain that?"

"I think I can," replied Jimmie gravely.  "I can see now that our
actions would appear rather mysterious to your officers, but you must
also remember that they refused to take our word for anything.  They
simply went ahead and acted on the opinion they received from first
sight.  Our statements were not given any weight at all."

"Perhaps the officers were a trifle over-zealous, we will admit,"
continued the Kaiser, "but you have been well treated, have you not?"

"Fairly well," replied Jimmie.  "I may say," he added, "that we have
been very well treated considering all things.  But I'd like to have
that little package that was taken from me."

The Kaiser turned an inquiring glance toward von Liebknecht.

"It is this little package to which I referred briefly in my
statement," explained von Liebknecht, producing the packet that had
been rescued from the Cossack uniform by Jimmie when Otto had attempted
to put the discarded clothes in the fire.

"And what do you say is in this packet?" inquired the Kaiser,
addressing Jimmie, as he readied out a hand to take the parcel from von
Liebknecht.  "Is it your own property?"

"It was given to me by a man who was trying to make money selling
munitions to the Russians," replied the lad.  "He was a villain if ever
there was one.  He stole a lot of money in the United States and came
over on a ship to Riga.  He kidnapped me and had me enlisted in a
Russian regiment of Cossacks, where he also found himself enlisted
against his will.  When an attack was made on a German troop train
before the assault on Peremysl he was badly wounded."

"Ah, then you both were there?" asked the Kaiser interestedly.

"Yes," went on the boy.  "When he found he was so badly wounded he gave
me this packet and asked me to go back to New York, where he had put
papers and other things in a safe deposit vault.  He wanted me to try
to straighten out some of his wrongdoings."

"Then this does not refer in any way to information that might be of
value to our enemy?" questioned the Kaiser, looking keenly at the lad.

"Not in the least!" declared Jimmie, returning the other's gaze frankly
and fearlessly.  "You are a good enough judge of human nature to
determine whether I'm telling you the truth or not."

"I rather think you are telling the truth so far as you know it," was
the answer, accompanied by a smile in recognition of the tribute the
lad had paid.  "But," he added, "is it not possible that the man
himself may have been telling things that were not so in the hope that
the information would fall into the hands of the Russians?"

"I don't believe it," returned Jimmie, positively.  "He knew he was
going to die, and tried, I believe, to right the wrongs he had done."

"No doubt you are correct.  At any rate, I'm inclined to take a chance
and return the packet to you if you agree to keep it as directed and do
your best to follow the man's wishes."

"I'll readily do that!" cried Jimmie, stretching his hand for the
extended packet.  "I'll promise that as I promised him."

"Thank you," smiled Kaiser, in one of his, rare moods of unbending from
the dignity that marked his demeanor.  "I am trusting you."

"Then I suppose that we will be permitted to depart for America as
quickly as we can locate our comrades?" asked Jimmie, eagerly.

A shake of the head preceded the reply to this question.

"That can hardly be permitted at this time," said the other in a
deliberative manner.  "There are several matters to be settled."

"Will we have to go into action with the regiment and fight?"

"Have you any objections to assisting us in return for the favors we
have granted you?" asked the Kaiser with apparent surprise.

"Yes, sir, we have!" declared the boy, earnestly.  "We are not at all
concerned in the war and we don't wish to become engaged in it.  We'd
rather not shoot at anybody unless it is necessary to do so for our own
protection or the defense of our country."

"Those are very noble sentiments, my lad," was the answer to this
statement.  "Just yet we cannot give you permission to depart, but we
shall not require from you service that you are not able to give."

"Thank you, sir," both boys said in chorus.

"But, if you please," objected von Liebknecht, with a look of meaning
in the direction of his superior, "the young men may be of great value
to us in the future, and I suggest that they be held in reserve for any
emergency that may arise."

"Not a bad idea, I'm sure," agreed the Kaiser.  Then, turning to the
boys, he added, "You will, of course, be expected to make no attempt at
escape.  Your matter will be decided later on."

In company with the officer who had guided them to the compartment they
returned to the rear of the coach and fell to discussing the prospects
the future held for them.

They were awakened from a sound sleep into which they had fallen to
find that the train had made another stop and that the regiment was
disembarking.  Men and horses were all about the track, baggage was
being hastily unloaded and every indication showed that their journey
by rail was at an end.

"Ho, hum!" yawned Jimmie, before beginning his setting up exercise, in
which the lads found much benefit, "nothing to do till to-morrow, eh?"

"Looks that way, I declare!" said Dave.  "But if I'm a judge, this is
tomorrow itself.  I wonder are we going into action."

"Something's brewing as sure as fate!" declared the other.  "We
wouldn't unload like this just for exercise on a fine morning."

"It is a fine morning, sure enough," agreed Dave, "but I think it is
going to rain.  I thought I heard thunder just now."

"Does sound remarkably like thunder," said Jimmie, with a glance at the
sky, "but," he continued, "there isn't a cloud in the sky, and a
thunder storm seems about the last thing we could expect."

"What on earth is it, then?" queried Dave, puzzled at the strange sound
that came to their ears.  "I see some of the Uhlans noticing it, too.
Only they seem to be pleased about something."

"I know what it is!" announced Jimmie.  "It's the sound of firing!"

"I believe you are correct, Jimmie," acknowledged Dave.

"Sure, I'm right!" declared the other.  "Can't I tell what a cannon
shot sounds like?  I ought to, for I heard them some time ago, but from
the other side of the lines."

"You did?" asked Dave, interestedly.  "How was that?"

"Why," went on Jimmie, with just a touch of pride in his voice, "we
were in France with the airship we had built before this present one.
We got nicely tangled up with the battling forces and nearly got blown
to bits once.  We got lost in the fog above the lines where the big
shells were flying around like mosquitoes."

"My word!" was Dave's astonished ejaculation.

"Yes," continued the red headed lad, "we thought once or twice we were
goners, but got out after all.  The airship lived through all of it and
finally was drowned in the North Sea as we were trying to get home.  I
was certainly sorry to lose that airship."

"But you were fortunate to escape without losing your lives."

"Sure were," was Jimmie's comment.  "But look there!  There's some
movement on foot or I'm mistaken.  Wonder what it is?"

The boys were not long left in doubt.  An officer came toward them
apparently in some haste.  As he approached he signalled the two to
follow him to a position where the Uhlans were mounting their horses.

"You will follow these men," he said, as the lads drew near.  He
indicated two soldiers nearby who were mounted and leading two horses.

"Hello, Otto!" said Jimmie with a smile, as he wrinkled his freckled
nose.  "And I declare!  If little Fritz isn't on deck also!"

"Here comes the Kaiser and his staff," said Jimmie, directly the line
was at rest.  "He seems to be in a hurry about something."

"They're stopping here," announced Dave.

A group of approaching horsemen, at one side of which rode the Kaiser,
drew rein exactly opposite the two lads.  Jimmie's mount, in a somewhat
restive mood, refused to remain standing, but gave the lad some
trouble.  In his effort to quiet the animal the lad did not notice that
he was gradually drawing closer and closer to the Kaiser.

Presently he succeeded in quieting the horse and took time to glance in
the direction in which the Kaiser was peering through a pair of
binoculars.  The lad saw stretching far below him a gradual slope that
had once been wooded by a forest.  Now, however, there stood only the
shattered stumps of trees, indicating that the place had been subjected
to a most galling fire from the enemy.

A puff of smoke caught his attention.  With a startled exclamation he
pointed to a small object flying through the air straight toward the
position occupied by himself and the Kaiser's staff.

The next moment he kicked the Kaiser's mount in the ribs and dug his
heels into the flank of his own horse.  Both leaped forward.



CHAPTER XX

CAPTURED

"What was that noise?" asked Jack, instantly, as he busied himself with
the levers in an effort to maintain the position of the Eagle.

"That sounded to me like one perfectly good aeroplane going to
smash--just like that!" answered Ned, leaning over the rim of the
fuselage and peering through the glasses.

"Was it the German who was pursuing us?" asked Harry, eagerly.

"I believe it was," declared Ned.  "Yes," he went on, "I can see the
smashed plane there beside the train now.  That's peculiar!"

"What's peculiar?" asked Jack.  "The train being there, or the plane,
or what?  Please be a little more explicit."

"No nonsense, now!" Ned replied.  "I mean its peculiar how that plane
came to be smashed that way.  I didn't see anything drop on it."

"Perhaps a piece of the machinery gave way as he was starting."

"It needn't worry us a particle to explain how it happened," said
Harry.  "It's enough to know that the fellow can't chase us."

"That's a good thing, anyway," was Ned's comment.

Had the lads only known how close they had been to being again pursued
they might not have felt so easy in their minds, but they assumed that
their presence was not known to others than the pilot of the wrecked
machine, and therefore felt secure.

"Now it's up to us to make a noise like a drum, I guess," said Jack.

"All right, let's get away from here as quickly as we can.  If we hold
a course a little south of west we ought to be able to follow the
general line of the railroad and be able to overtake or meet Jimmie and
Dave before they reach Verdun and are forced into the fighting."

Accordingly Jack increased the speed of the motors and brought the
Eagle to the course suggested.  Presently they were flying at good
speed.

"Ned, I'm afraid," Harry said after some time.  "Let's go lower."

"What's the matter, Harry?  Does this altitude affect you?"

"Not in the least, except that it's cold.  But you see that unless we
fly lower the first rays of the rising sun will strike us and we can be
seen and located by any one on the ground.  They will still be in the
deep shadow and we will be in the brighter sunlight."

"I guess you're right, Harry," replied Ned, "and your suggestion is a
good one.  Suppose we do seek a lower level, Jack."

"All right, hang on to your eye teeth and we'll get onto the toboggan,"
replied the lad at the levers.  "Going down!"

"It's plain we'll have to run quite low from now on," said Ned, as he
laid aside the binoculars.  "Daylight is coming on rapidly."

"We'll have to find a spot uninhabited enough for us to hide during the
daytime," ventured Harry.  "We can't let them see us."

"You're right," acquiesced Ned.  "Suppose you take the glasses and tell
me if that dark spot ahead there looks like a good spot to hide in.  It
appears to be a forest or at least woods of some sort."

"That's what it is," declared Harry, after an extended observation.  "I
don't altogether like the looks of the place, for there's a road of
some sort running near the woods, but it's perhaps better than no place
at all.  If we can get to earth without being discovered we can hide
behind those trees until dark again."

"Keep a sharp lookout, Ned, while Jack tries to land," advised Harry.
"I'll watch from this side and if we see any one who might observe us
we can easily be on our way again."

Lower and lower circled the plane under the guidance of Jack, whose
experience in handling the great craft well fitted him for the task.
With scarcely a bump the machine rested in a little grade not far from
a brook overshadowed by the arching branches of trees.

"There!" sighed Ned, clambering from the fuselage and springing to
earth.  "The Eagle is a good little machine, all right, but it seems
good to get the ground under foot once more."

"And I'm glad that we came down when we did, for a little longer up
there," said Jack, pointing to the graying eastern sky, "and we'd have
been fair targets for any old 'Schutzenfest' these chaps wanted."

"Right you are!" declared Harry.  "And now what I'd like would be a
real old fashioned imitation of three boys eating a hearty breakfast.
Just a plain, common, every-day square meal, I mean."

"This is a pretty place," observed Ned, "all sheltered and obscure.  We
ought to be able to get a dandy bath there in that brook and then make
whatever breakfast we want off the supplies we got from Peremysl."

"My appetite is just about now equal to that of our absent and
red-headed friend McGraw," said Harry with a laugh.  "I'm hungry."

"A bath first," cried Ned, beginning to disrobe, "then the eats."

Soon the lads had divested themselves of the German uniforms and were
enjoying the plunge in the cool, clear water of the brook.  Presently
they emerged from the stream and again donned the uniforms they had
taken from the room that was intended as a prison.

"Now," said Ned, as the three were again dressed, "what shall be the
menu of the morning?  With this glorious sun peeping over the tops of
the hills to the eastward of us we ought to have a fine breakfast.  The
weather looks mighty fine."

"Yes," agreed Jack, "but it don't sound very fine.  I thought I heard a
rumble of thunder just now.  Did you hear it?"

"No," replied Ned, "I can't say I did.  Was it thunder?"

"Sounded like it," declared Jack.  "There it goes again!"

"That don't sound like thunder exactly," said Harry.  "I wonder what it
can be.  I thought it was a wagon passing a bridge."

Ned's face went rather pale as he faced his comrades.

"Boys," he stated, "I believe that must be the sound of cannon firing
we hear.  It is coming more regularly now!"

"Then we're pretty close to Verdun," was Harry's rejoinder.

"Yes, that's my idea, too," said Ned.  "Let's get breakfast and be
prepared for whatever may happen.  We don't know what may come along so
close to the lines as we are now, and we must not be napping."

"I'll get a bucket of water from the brook," volunteered Jack, "while
you and Harry make ready the fire and get out the provisions."

"There's plenty of wood hereabouts, I see," put in Harry, "so I'll
gather some wood for a fire and have it burned down to coals in no
time."

"I rather think," objected Ned, "that we should not use wood."

"And why not, if you please, Mr. Scout Master?" asked Harry.

"Because wood lying on the ground has more or less dampness in it and
is apt to give off a smoke that might be seen by some one."

"Always on the lookout for trouble!" declared Jack, as he took the
bucket and started for the brook.  "Well, make a fire of any thing."

"Quite the contrary, Jack, as you know," protested Ned, laughingly.
"I'm only trying to avoid trouble as much as possible, and a smoke now
in this place would be a direct invitation to some one to investigate."

"Right again," returned Jack, "go to the head of the class."

"What shall I use, then, if not wood?" asked Harry.

"Make a gasoline stove like we used to do when we had plenty of fuel,"
answered Ned.  "We have sufficient so we can spare a small amount."

"Perhaps you'd better make the stove, Ned," said Harry.  "You're better
at it than I am.  You've had more experience.  I'll get the supplies
out of the boxes.  We'll want coffee, of course."

"Yes," agreed Ned, "bring some coffee, to be sure, and try to find that
tin of bacon.  I feel just like having a strip of bacon done nice and
crisp.  It begins to smell good already."

"How'd you like a nice Spanish omelette and French fried potatoes with
some hot Parker House rolls and lots of rich yellow butter?"

"Hush, boy, you'll have me so fussed up I can't light the fire,"
protested Ned.  "I guess Jimmie's affliction is catching.  I'm
certainly getting an appetite or the appetite is getting me!"

He proceeded to at once prepare the "stove" by sharpening a stick about
the size of a broom handle.  When it was completed he thrust the sharp
end into the soft earth and then withdrew it, leaving a hole about a
foot or more deep.  Another hole was made a short distance from the
first, but slanted so that the lower ends would meet.  The second hole
was plugged up with a bit of turf.

"Now, then," said Ned, as he finished the first 'stove', "we want some
gas.  Can you bring it or shall I get it?"

"Here's the can," answered Harry, "I can fetch it.  Make another."

Jack meanwhile had returned with the bucket of water and had filled the
coffee pot, into which he put a quantity of coffee.  This was then
placed over one of the "stoves," while on the other was placed a bucket
containing a quantity of beans, together with some of the cereal
"sausage" found amongst the Russian supplies.

Presently the lads were sniffing, as an appetizing odor filled the air.
A can of bacon was opened and set to sizzling in a frying pan.

"Wonder where we are, any how?" remarked Ned as the lads lay stretched
at full length on the grass, waiting for the stew to cook.

"Don't know," responded Jack, removing the frying pan from the fire.
"Suppose after we eat we get the wireless to work?"

"Good idea," remarked Ned, as the three gathered about the pot of stew.
"After breakfast we'll draw straws to see who does the dishes and the
other two will string the aerials."

"There won't be any dishes to wash," declared Harry, "if you fellows
are as hungry as I am.  There won't be any need."

"Maybe so," laughed Ned, helping himself to the bacon and coffee.

For a time the boys gave themselves over to a discussion of the most
excellent breakfast.  When they had finished, Ned said:

"Now, Jack, you and Harry get out the wireless while I clean up."

In a few moments the two were busy at their task selecting two small
trees not far apart to act as masts.  The equipment that had been
stowed in one of the lockers was spread on the grass and they waited
for Ned to return from the brook, where he had gone to wash the dishes.

"All right, Ned," said Jack.  "Turn on the juice and we'll go."

Ned stepped to the aeroplane and started the engine in an attempt to
operate the dynamo.  No explosions followed his efforts.

"The engine's stalled!" he cried.  "What's the matter?"

"Why, the spark plugs are gone!" declared Ned.  "And look here," he
went on, "here are tracks showing some one has been here!"

Jack and Harry sprang to the side of their chum.  They easily detected
the tracks mentioned by Ned.  They were those of a man wearing heavy
shoes or boots and led away through the thicket.

"After him, boys, while the tracks are fresh," said Jack.

All three boys began to follow the tracks.  They led around a clump of
brush near the aeroplane and seemed to be pointing in the direction of
the hilltop to the westward.

"What's this?" said Jack.  "Looks like other tracks here."

The lads gathered closely about the spot.  A lasso whizzed through the
air and settled about their shoulders.  A jerk brought them locked
close together.  Another tripped them into a heap.



CHAPTER XXI

ESCAPED PRISONERS

When Jimmie's toe prodded the Kaiser's horse in the ribs, that animal
gave a mighty spring and bounded from his position.  Usually a
tractable, though mettlesome beast, the horse was greatly surprised at
the treatment he was receiving, and it is not surprising that he made
every effort to escape the punishment.

At the first movement of his comrade, Dave had urged his own horse
forward in the expectation that Jimmie would attempt escape.

So swiftly had the movement been executed by Jimmie that none of the
officers near by had been able to intercept the flight of the three.

Before the Kaiser could check the mad rush of his mount and bring the
noble animal to a quivering stop, considerable distance had been
covered.  Jimmie rode on the Kaiser's right Hank, his own horse's
shoulder close to the other's saddle.  Dave followed immediately behind
Jimmie so close that when the halt was made he fairly crowded Jimmie
beside the Kaiser.  He was still mystified when they stopped.

With a face livid with wrath at the treatment, the Kaiser turned toward
Jimmie.  The next instant he began a forceful speech.  It was never
delivered.  Jimmie slipped from his horse and began to drag the other
from his mount.  He was too excited for coherent speech.

"Young man--," began the other in a severe tone.

"Shut up!" stormed Jimmie.  "Get off your horse, quick!  It's coming!"

As he spoke, the boy, looking earnestly into the face of the man he had
pursued, pointed toward the French lines and in the direction of the
spot where the hasty flight had begun.

Dave glanced back to see a knot of officers and Uhlans closely packed
about the very spot where the three had stood a moment before.  As he
looked he shivered slightly.  A huge black object was hurtling through
the air.  It landed in the center of the group, bearing down with a
shriek of agony a horse and its rider.

Instinctively Jimmie and Dave had thrown their arms up to cover their
faces.  By this means they had protected themselves in a degree from
the force of the flying scraps of earth that stormed upon them like
hail.  They were covered with dirt to a woeful degree.

As the rain of dirt ceased Jimmie looked up at the man he had tried so
hard to rescue.  His face bore a look of solicitude.

"I tried to get you out of there," he said.  "I saw it coming."

"A pretty story!" stormed the other.  "What conduct is this?"

In amazement Jimmie drew back a pace.  He grasped the bridle reins of
his horse in his left hand.  Looking keenly at the mounted man, the lad
recognized the fact that his intentions had been misunderstood.
Without another word the lad mounted his animal.

"Where are you going, Jimmie?" asked Dave anxiously as Jimmie wheeled
his mount.  "What are you going to do now?  Shall we make a break?"

"I guess we've made break enough," replied Jimmie with set jaw.  "Here
I go and rescue one perfectly good Kaiser from a dropping shell that he
don't see, and now he gets sore at me for doing it.  I'm going back to
the position where I was ordered to stand, and they can all be shot to
pieces next time for all the help they get from me!"

"Then I'm going with you!" declared Dave.  "Come on!"

Gravely Jimmie returned to the very rim of the crater that had been dug
in the solid earth by the bursting of the gigantic shell.  Here he
halted, drew himself erect in the saddle and waited.  Dave drew
alongside.

In another instant the two were surrounded by officers and Uhlans.

"Dismount at once!" ordered an officer.

Jimmie glanced quickly at the man and discovered him to be none other
than von Liebknecht, the man who had been so closely concerned in
Jimmie's recent experiences.  Not deigning a reply, the lad obeyed.
His action was quickly followed by Dave.

Following an order rapidly given in German, one of the Uhlans urged his
horse forward and grasped the reins of the two horses.  He fairly
jerked the leathers from the hands of the boys and led the two away.

"My word!" declared Dave with emphasis.  "We're in for it now!"

"I wonder just what they're going to do?" asked Jimmie in a whisper.

"Firin' squad at sunrise, most likely!" said Dave.  "We're now, as I
understand it, criminals of the worst sort."

"I don't get you," puzzled Jimmie.  "What's the big idea?"

"We've committed one of the worst crimes in the calendar!" declared
Dave.  "As I understand it, we've meddled with the person of the
Kaiser, and that's only one degree less awful than saying horrid things
about him.  That's what I've been told, at any rate."

"Great frozen hot boxes!" ejaculated Jimmie.  "Is it a crime to save a
man's life when you get the chance?"

"I can't just say how they'll look at it," replied Dave.  "But here
comes the old top himself.  Maybe he'll have a word to say."

Von Liebknecht began what seemed to the lads to be an apology, but was
cut short by the Kaiser, who gave a command in German.  Without
attempting to complete his unfinished speech, the Captain repeated the
command to an aide standing near, and he in turn addressed two Uhlans.

Much to their surprise, the boys were confronted by their old
acquaintances, Otto and Fritz, who gave their orders in a single word.

"Vorwarts!" came the command in crisp tones as the two crowded their
horses almost upon the two lads.

"That means 'Hike!'" explained Jimmie, turning to Dave.

"Here goes, then," returned Dave, stepping out bravely.

"I say, Otto," began Jimmie presently, "where are we going?"

"Verboten!" came the only answer the Uhlan would offer.

"Ha!" cried Jimmie.  "I know what that means.  I've seen a good many
signs with that word on it.  It means that we are forbidden to walk on
the grass, breathe, live, eat, or do anything else without permits."

"No, no, Jimmie," explained Dave.  "He means that he is forbidden to
tell you where we are headed for.  Isn't that it?"

"I don't know and don't much care!" was the other's reply.  "They are
welcome to start a goat farm any time they wish.  They've got mine for
a starter.  Of all my going a-fishing, this is the limit."

After about half an hour's walk they found themselves near a building
that had evidently been a farm residence.  In common with many other
rural establishments of Germany, this place had been built with the
barns attached to the dwelling house.

Into what had been the cow stable the boys were conducted by their
guards.  A ladder stood in one corner, leading up through a trap door
to the fodder loft above.  Up this ladder the boys were directed.

"Fine little old prison!" declared Jimmie contemptuously.

"Well, it might be worse," said Dave consolingly.  "We're here yet."

"Yes, and if I ever get another chance at the Germans," declared Jimmie
with vigor, "I'll punch their heads as hard as I can!"

"We might as well make ourselves comfortable," suggested Dave.

"Not on your life!" cried Jimmie heatedly.  "From now on I'm going to
make every move in the calendar to get out of this place and away from
those Germans.  If I ever get back to America I'll never eat another
bit of sauer kraut as long as I live!"

Dave could not repress a laugh at this outburst.  He could sympathize
with Jimmie's attitude, for he felt that they were being unjustly
treated.

"How are we going to give them the slip?" asked Jimmie, beginning a
systematic search of the place.  "Are there any windows?"

"There are two on the east side," answered Dave.

"Now, then, let's tear up the bed sheets and knot them together," was
Jimmie's next suggestion, delivered in a half jesting mood.

"A rope would be better," offered his companion.  "Let's look for one."

Presently he gave a cry and stooped to pick up an object at his feet.

"What do you think of this?" he said gleefully as he held aloft the end
of a line nearly as thick as his finger.  "Isn't that luck?"

"My word!" said Dave heartily.  "That's the silver lining, all right!"

"Now to get a cleat or something across that window so we can take the
rope with us!" urged Jimmie.  "Hurry, Dave, hurry!"

They lost no time in doubling the line and passing the ends out of the
window.  The loop which they still held was caught beneath the corners
of the window frame so that it would remain in position until the end
was loosened by the person descending.

Ahead Jimmie could make out the outlines of an aeroplane in an open
space.  Following Dave's pointing finger, the lad saw a man in Uhlan's
uniform rapidly running through the wood in the direction of the barn.

A noise in advance of their position attracted his attention.  He
gripped Dave's arm warningly and pointed to three figures in Uhlan
uniform moving about in the growth of underbrush.

Dave quickly unslung the coil of line from his shoulder and proceeded
to reeve a slip noose in one end.  When he had adjusted the noose to
his satisfaction the lad moved silently forward, crouching as he went.

With a dexterous throw the lad sent the loop of line over the three
figures standing close together.  Jimmie lent a hand to drag it tight.



CHAPTER XXII

HELD UP!

"Pull, Jimmie, pull like the mischief!" cried Dave as the line
tightened about the forms beyond the shrubbery.

"Pulling!" answered Jimmie, throwing his weight onto the line behind
Dave and straining every muscle in an effort to keep it taut.

Presently they felt the tide turning in their favor.

"Pull it taut, Jimmie!" cried Dave.  "Keep them there until I can
manage to tie them.  Don't slacken an inch or they'll get up."

"Leave it to me," panted Jimmie, walking around the trunk of a small
tree with the free end of the lasso.  "I'll take a turn around this
tree and they'll go some to get away.  I'll hold 'em!"

With movements that counted, the lad seized a small stone lying near,
laid the end of the line across a larger one and pounded vigorously in
an effort to sever a length of the lasso.

Almost as quickly as the task could have been accomplished with a knife
Dave had cut off the desired piece of rope with which to tie the
captives.  In another moment he dashed through the thicket in which the
three prisoners were struggling.

Jimmie, hanging onto the lasso with grim determination and taking in
every bit of slack given by the struggling trio, was startled to hear
his companion emit a shriek of astonishment.  A glance over his
shoulder told the lad that something unusual was happening beyond the
bushes.

"Hurry up, Dave!" he advised.  "I can't hold 'em much longer!"

"Let go, let go!" cried Dave, laughing and dancing about.

"What's the matter?" asked Jimmie incredulously.  "Gone crazy?"

"My word, but this is funny!" laughed Dave, gasping for breath.  "Here
are the boys, who were looking for us, and instead of rescuing us we
have captured them.  Let go that line and let 'em up!"

"What?" was Jimmie's open-mouthed question.  "What's that?"

"Sure enough!" declared Dave, swinging his arms to indicate that he
wanted Jimmie to give more slack to the line.  "It's the boys!"

"Say that again, please!" cried Jimmie, dropping the lasso and bounding
forward.  "That's good news if it's true."

Jimmie lost no time in convincing himself that Dave was indeed correct
in his statement.  One glance at the struggling trio and he sat down
upon the grass, where he doubled up with laughter.

"Well," was Jack's scornful admonition, "better stop and save some of
it for another occasion.  You might need it."

"Oh, ho, ho!" laughed Jimmie.  "This is the best joke yet!"

"Where's the joke?" asked Harry, struggling to his feet and throwing
off the loop of the lasso.  "This is no joke for us!"

"It's the best ever!" declared Jimmie.  "Here I was going to be shot at
sunrise for this 'lese majesty' business, and now in only an hour I
have a chance to make the capture of my young life!"

"Shot at sunrise?" queried Ned, joining the group.  "What do you
mean--shot at sunrise?  Is it another joke?"

"Well, it wouldn't have been much of a joke if they'd carried it out,
but the way things stand it is decidedly a good joke all round."

"Would you like to step down to the camp and tell us about it?"

"Just invite us and see!" declared the lad, reaching for the lasso and
coiling it neatly.  "We came out here just for the purpose, boys!"

"You did?" inquired Jack.  "Why, how'd you know we were here?"

"Oh," went on Jimmie with a lofty air, "everybody pretty near knows
you're here.  Next time you'd better be careful and shut the dampers
when you make a fire.  That smoke was a dead give-away!"

"Ah, ha, smarty!" declared Jack.  "That's where you're wrong.  We
didn't make any smoke at all.  So that punctures your balloon."

"Well, anyhow," went on Jimmie unabashed, "a little bird told us."

"Now, see here, Jimmie," put in Ned as the five boys started for the
camp near the Eagle, "tell me the exact truth.  It may have serious
consequences if you don't.  Does anyone know we are here?"

"Not that I know of, Ned," was Jimmie's sober reply.  "We just stumbled
onto you as you were tracking something in the woods."

"Oh, that reminds me," Ned said, halting.  "We were on the track of
some fellow who visited our position and took out the spark plugs from
our engines.  We were following his tracks in the woods when you came."

"What sort of a guy was he?" asked Jimmie, intensely interested.

"I don't know," answered Ned.  "We haven't seen him yet."

"Didn't he leave any signs at all?" went on Jimmie.  "Did he come and
go in an airship, or did he have wings and fly through the air?"

"Neither," declared Ned.  "He left some pretty fair tracks."

"Then we'll get him!" asserted Jimmie, positively.  "He can't get away.
Once we get on his trail he might as well quit!"

"Good boy, Jimmie!" laughed Ned.  "You're a sight for sore eyes.  And,"
he went on, "it's a pleasure to have your optimism to help."

"Thanks!" drily responded the Wolf.  "Where are his tracks?"

"Right around here at the front of the machine near the engine."

"See anything, Dave?" asked Jimmie, at once, as the boys grouped about
the Eagle, being careful not to tread in the tracks left by the one who
had meddled with their engines.

"Yes," responded Dave, instantly.  "He was a shortish chap, you know,
because he had to stand on his toes here to reach the engines."

"And I think he was a Uhlan," went on Jimmie, pointing to other tracks.
"I can see the mark of the spur chain under his instep."

"He must have put his hand right here," added Dave, indicating a spot
on the forward wings that showed grimy finger marks.  "He had a scar
extending across all four fingers.  See the print on it?"

"I'll bet I know who it was!" declared Jimmie, seizing Dave by the
shoulder.  "If that wasn't Otto, I'll go back and enlist all over!"

"Sure enough," replied Dave.  "He was just about that height, and of
course he wore spurs and all that.  I don't know about the scar."

"Well, we will look for a short, heavy set Uhlan with a scar on his
hand, and when we find him we'll choke those plugs out of him!"

"Shall we start after him now, boys?" inquired Jack.

"I vote 'No' on the original question," said Jimmie, instantly.  "It's
pretty near dinner time and I'm as hungry as bears ever get and then
some.  Have you got anything to eat, Ned?"

"Sure we have," was Ned's hearty response.  "Got some mighty fine food,
too.  You'll like it, I'm sure.  Those tracks can wait."

"Just right!" declared the lad.  "Dave and I are starved!  Just throw
us together a little fried ham and some scalloped potatoes, a piece of
Yorkshire pudding with some roast beef for Dave, here, and a few loaves
of bread with a side of creamed cauliflower and some peas and carrots.
Two or three helpings of succotash and some green onions wouldn't go
bad either.  With a couple of cups of coffee and some chocolate eclairs
and a cream puff with a little ice cream and some lemon pie we could
manage to worry along until tea time."

"Good night!" said Ned.  "Wouldn't you rather take pot luck?"

"Oh," responded Jimmie, lightly, "any little old thing you wish."

"Then we'll give you some stew," announced Ned.

"Here's hoping, Ned," Jimmie said, laying a hand on Ned's arm, "that it
isn't cabbage stew with bunches of vegetarian sausages cooked in it."

"Why?" inquired Ned.  "Don't you like that sort of food?"

"Oh," exclaimed Jimmie, with a gesture of disgust, "we've had nothing
else for about four years!  I feel just like poor old Ben Gunn in
'Treasure Island.'  I'd like a little civilized food--a piece of cheese
or something like that.  Don't say stew to me or I'll quit you cold."

"If you want a piece of cheese, take me," declared Jack.  "I feel
mightily ashamed of the way we let you two sneak up on us and catch us."

"Oh, that's all right," offered Jimmie with great magnanimity, "you
really captured yourself, you know.  Dave and I let you walk right up
onto us before Dave swung that rope.  I must get that trick."

"How did you learn that knack, Dave?" asked Ned, admiringly.

"Oh, that's quite easy, you know," replied the other with becoming
modesty.  "I've spent some time in Alberta where there are cattle and I
learned to shoot and ride a horse and throw the rope pretty well."

"That's quite an accomplishment, all right," offered Jack.

"Agreed!" announced Jimmie.  "But," he went on, "we're losing time and
I'm losing flesh while you argue about it.  Leave Dave alone, now.
Can't you see him blushing over the praise you're giving him?  Let's
hustle about and get some eats started.  I'm hungry, I tell you!"

"All right, Jimmie, your wants shall be supplied.  We'll make another
pot of coffee and all hands will take a cup with you for luck."

"This all happened so suddenly," said Ned, as the five lay about the
fires waiting for the cooking to be finished, "that I haven't had a
chance to ask you a question nor tell you how overjoyed I am to have
you with us again.  But I'm really delighted.  How did it happen?"

"Well, they took us with them after Dave knocked over one of their
tents," began Jimmie, with a sly look at his companion.  "If it hadn't
been for that plucky kid over there, I most likely would have lost my
temper two or three times and tried to whip the whole German army."

"Oh, I say, you know," declared Dave.  "He's putting it on too thick!
I really wasn't much help at all.  It was Jimmie who got the Kaiser
into a good humor and then saved his life!"

"Go on, go on!" urged Ned, excitedly.  "Tell us about it quickly!"

In response to the invitation, Jimmie and Dave together told the story
of their adventures since last seeing their chums.  Jimmie was in turn
told of the exciting scenes through which the three boys had passed,
and to him also were made known the circumstances through which Dave
had joined the party.  As the boys finally drew their narratives to a
conclusion, Jimmie, who had followed the tales of his comrades with
interest, turned to Ned and said:

"And so you were on the point of rescuing me when that fellow shot the
rope by which Dave was hanging and you thought it was all off!"

"You are right, we thought things were going wrong with us then."

"And after that you pretty nearly got into a trap yourselves."

"Yes and we were compelled to exchange our perfectly good uniforms for
some old rags that would disgrace a wharf rat!" was Ned's indignant
response.  "Then we simply took the privilege of putting on these
garments.  They are not what we would have chosen, but they match
yours."

"They fooled Dave and myself, all right," laughed Jimmie.  "We thought
that we had caught a mess of German soldiers."

"That simply goes to show us, boys," gravely commented Ned, "that we
ought to be extremely careful about our outward appearance.  It's so
easy for others to mistake us for what we are not."

"Hands up!" the boys heard a rough voice say.  They turned to see a
rifle muzzle showing through a clump of bushes.



CHAPTER XXIII

TABLES TURNED

"What's coming off here?" asked Jimmie, jumping to his feet.

"Halt!" cried the voice from the shrubbery again as Jimmie rose.

"Who's there?" asked the lad, wheeling toward the low undergrowth which
concealed their visitor.  "Come out into the open if you dare."

"Ach, yes!" replied the other.  "I dare come out.  You will all
stand--and in a line, please.  Aber you don'dt, I shoot!"

"What's this," asked Ned, "a hold-up or a joke?"

"Nein," the newcomer replied.  "Aber you don'dt line up dere you find
oudt it is no joke, not.  Beside yourself stand, quick!"

"This is enough to make anybody fairly beside themselves!" Jimmie
declared, unable to repress his tendency toward a joke.

"Come on out, you Dutchman," taunted Jimmie in a moment.  "I can see
you crouching there and see your uniform.  Come on out!"

As the faces appeared, Jimmie gave a gasp of astonishment.

"Otto!  Fritz!" he almost shrieked.  "We left you guarding that old
barn up there.  How does it come that you are here?"

"My post I deserted," he began, stepping from the bushes, but with his
rifle still cautiously pointed toward the lads.  "This country is
familiar to me, for that house was my uncle's.  Many times have I in
this brook waded and swam.  Today I thought of it when we over the hill
came and when we had put you in the barn I came right here to see the
beautiful brook once more and hear the birds singing in the trees."

"Otto, open your left hand and let me see what you have in it!"
commanded Jimmie, as the other finished speaking.

"Nothing have I in my hand," declared Otto, opening and extending the
member palm outward.  "See, nothing in there is!"

"Oh, I thought you had the spark plugs from the Eagle," remarked the
lad.  "You know you took them out.  Where did you put them?"

"In my pocket have they gone," answered Otto, simply as if stating the
most casual fact.  "They are all there safe and sound."

"So I see," acknowledged Jimmie.  "That's very obvious.  What are you
going to do now that you and Fritz have returned?"

"We shall take you back to the barn and put you in the loft once
again," declared Otto in the same tone of voice he might have used in
commenting on the fact that the sun was shining.

"Oh, you shall, shall you?" almost sneered Jimmie.  "All right, but you
wouldn't put us back there hungry, would you?  We were just about to
eat a little lunch.  This won't be quite as good as you used to get at
Dick Stein's place, but it's eatable at any rate.  If you think you
could eat a bit, we'll ask you to join us."

"I can not eat now," replied the other.  "I must guard you as
prisoners.  But if you are hungry, we will let you eat."

"Oh, I say," protested Jimmie, "you'll have at least a cup of coffee
with us!  That isn't sociable to stand and hold a gun at a fellow's
head while he's eating.  It looks rather rough, too!"

"You are now prisoners," replied Otto, shaking his head.

"Why, of course, we are!" admitted the boy with an attempt at a laugh.
"We're prisoners in more ways than one.  You have the spark plugs and
we couldn't make a decent get-away if we tried.  Besides, you two
fellows have your rifles and we are unarmed."

"I guess you've got us dead to rights," put in Dave.

"Sure you have," resumed Jimmie.  "Now, I'll tell you what," he went
on, "you sit here," indicating a position between the fire and the
aeroplane, "and we'll sit on the opposite side of the fire.  You may
have your rifles across your laps or ready at your side.  If we break
and run for it, you may shoot as fast as you please."

"That's fair enough," urged Ned.  "It isn't just the square thing to
take us prisoners without letting us get some food."

"See here," continued Jimmie, reaching out a hand toward the coffee pot
bubbling over the tiny flame and lifting the lid, "did you ever smell
better coffee in your life?  That's worth drinking, I say!"

"Dot's goot cooffee!" announced Fritz, solemnly.  "I take a cup."

"Sure, you'll both have a cup!" declared Jimmie.

"That's a real compliment, Otto," laughed Jimmie, winking at Dave as he
spoke.  "When a German admits that any other nation on earth can make
good coffee it is going some.  The Germans can make real coffee!"

"We generally let Dave pour the coffee, because he's an extra boy in
the crowd and we make the newcomers do all the heavy work, but he's
awkward at it yet owing to his just recently coming off a cattle ranch
in Canada, where he had to lasso a lot of cattle every day.  This time
I'm going to pour the coffee myself."

As Jimmie spoke he glanced back toward Dave, sitting with the others.

"Now, you just sit there, Dave," Jimmie chattered on, "until I tell you
to move.  Remember," he added, "I'm doing this part of it.  All you are
to do is to follow instructions.  You're better at the lasso than you
are at pouring coffee!"

"Yes, I guess that's the truth," admitted Dave with a mock sign of
resignation at finding his short-comings flaunted before strangers.

It was well that the meal was served in the open, for Jimmie poured
until every cup ran over, thereby wasting much of the liquid.

"Have some more, won't you?" he asked, grasping the coffee pot.

"Just a little more," replied Otto.  "I never had better."

"Why," cried Jimmie in a surprised tone, "the pot is almost empty.  I
guess you boys didn't make very much, did you?  Here, Dave," he hurried
on, "you chase yourself up to the Eagle and get some of that coffee out
of the locker on the right-hand side.  We'll brew another pot of it.  I
haven't begun to eat yet."

"See how quickly you can lasso a cup or two of the real stuff and hurry
back here," commanded Jimmie.  "We'll have more in a jiffy."

"Have a little of this stew while you're waiting," urged Ned, extending
the pot of stew toward the soldiers.  "It's mighty good!"

Ned and Jimmie rattled on in a whirlwind of conversation to keep the
attention of the soldiers in their own direction.  So absorbed were
Otto and Fritz in listening to the chatter that they failed to hear the
faint whistle of a rope through the air, and it was not until the noose
of Dave's lasso settled about their shoulders and they were jerked
incontinently backward that they suspected anything wrong.

Otto and Fritz were compelled to surrender to a superior force.
Lengths of small line secured from the Eagle were brought by Dave when
he saw that the two were securely held by his companions.

"Let me get at this chap's pockets a moment," said Ned, advancing.  "I
think he has some spark plugs that would look better in another place.
We can use them to good advantage ourselves."

"Just the thing!" cried Jimmie, gleefully.  "How thoughtful of him to
bring them back here so we could run the little old Eagle."

Ned lost no time in producing the plugs and fitting them into position.

"Now we 're off!" declared Jimmie.  "Let's get the cooking utensils
aboard and beat it out of here.  We won't want no wireless now!"

"For one, I want to get to some place where I can exchange this uniform
for some real clothes!" stated Jack, vehemently.

"And I want a real feed!" protested Jimmie.  "I haven't eaten in weeks.
All I could do was to lunch along on this awful grub!"

"All right, boys, I guess you're right," Ned agreed with a laugh.
"We'll load up and be on our way even if it is daylight."

"Won't the Germans see us rise out of here and take a shot at us?"

"What if they do?" scorned Jimmie.  "They'll be so busy with all this
fighting they won't have time to chase us very far.  Hear those cannons
going all the time?" he went on.  "They're wasting a lot of good powder
shooting at the Frenchmen and the allies!"

As the aeroplane rose above the tree tops, two other planes were
sighted high overhead.



CHAPTER XXIV

A STERN CHASE

"Gee!  I'm mighty glad Otto and Fritz came along just as they did to
bring us these spark plugs and rifles!" Jimmie announced as the Eagle
soared over the surrounding woods.

"It was rather kind of them," answered Jack.  "It looks like we might
need them, too, if those are German planes up there."

"Wouldn't it be a good idea to rise as high as we can, Ned?" asked
Harry.  "If we get well up, we'll be able to see where we are and can
have some idea where we are going."

"Up we go," agreed Ned at the levers, as he tilted the planes for an
ascent.  "I'm sure we need to get some idea of our location."

"They see us!" cried Harry, who had been using the binoculars.  "I
think they're both heading toward us now!  They're coming fast, too!"

"Let them come!" declared Dave.  "If the Eagle lives up to the
reputation Jimmie has given her, we'll be able to outdistance them."

"Maybe we would on a straight-away run," agreed Harry, "but we are one
to their two, and they probably have guns aboard."

"What's the chances of landing and meeting them on a more equal
footing?" inquired Jack.  "Is that at all possible?"

"It's possible to land," replied Ned, "but I don't think we'd have as
good a chance as we have up here.  Look down there and see."

"Where are all the soldiers?" asked Harry, presently.  "I can't see a
single soldier anywhere.  But," he added, "the guns are fired."

"They are all in bomb-proof trenches or else back of the hilltops,"
said Ned.  "I believe that those aeroplanes are scouting around to give
word to the gunners whether their aim has been correct or not."

"Well, if this is war," observed Dave, "I'm going to be glad to get
back home once more.  This doesn't look civilized to me."

"We are headed toward home," replied Jack in an effort to cheer his
friend.  "We'll be out of this in a little while, and then--good-by war
and fights and Kaiser and all for one good, long time!"

"We're a long ways from Tipperary yet, boys.  Don't crow too soon,"
advised Harry, as he trained the glasses on the approaching planes.

"What can you see, Harry?" asked Ned, giving his attention to the
levers.  "Are they still heading toward us?"

"That's just what they're doing!" declared Harry.  "They're coming
fast, too.  Can't we coax a little more speed out of this old tub?"

"You speak as if this were a ship in the water," responded Ned.  "I
want you to understand that this is an aeroplane and that it is
performing a most remarkable feat in carrying five boys and two grown
men, besides a quantity of luggage and supplies."

"I guess our ideas were all right, eh, Ned?" said Jack, as he ran an
admiring eye over the rigging of the craft.  "It's some boat!"

"It certainly is some boat!" declared Ned.  "And I wish--"

"What Ned wished was never known, for at that instant a sharp report
was heard and a bullet sang its way through the rigging of the Eagle
with a vicious twang that made the boys wince.

"Wow!" was Jack's ejaculation.  "That's too close for comfort!"

"May I reply to them?" asked Dave, picking up one of the German rifles
that had been brought aboard.  "I think I can get the range."

"I'd rather not shoot too close to them," Ned answered, manipulating
the levers and valves in an effort to obtain more speed.  "Perhaps we
can run away from both.  In that case we won't have to shoot any one."

"I think I'll take a crack at their propeller," announced Dave.  "Maybe
I can send a bullet through that, and if I can it will stop them."

As he spoke Dave took a quick sight, resting the rifle across the rim
of the fuselage.  A sharp detonation echoed above the hum of the
motors.  Dave peered eagerly toward the plane at which he had aimed.

"I got 'em, I got 'em!" he announced, slapping his thigh in glee.

"Who did you get?" asked Ned, without turning his head.

"I am sure I winged their propeller!" declared Dave, gleefully.  "I
aimed right at the circle in which the blades travel, and I'm sure I
saw splinters from the wooden blades.  They're slowing up, too!"

"Sure enough!" cried Harry, peering through the glasses.  "You're some
shot, Dave.  I'll place all my bets on you hereafter!"

"But the other fellow is hot after us!" was Jack's announcement.

"Where are they?  And what are they doing?" asked Ned.

"They're coming up fast from the left," said Jack.  "I think they're
trying to get over us so as to drop a bomb or so."

"I wish we didn't have these two prisoners with us!" Ned said, as he
urged the Eagle to her best paces.  "It takes a lot of power to keep up
at this altitude when we're carrying so much weight."

"We'll make out all right," responded Jack, encouragingly.  "We can
take them along with us and when get across the French lines we'll just
dump them down as prisoners of war and let them be exchanged."

"That would be a pretty good scheme," commented Harry.  "The only thing
I can see to interfere with it is that fellow on our left."

"He won't be able to do much when Dave gets in his work with the rifle
again," cried Jimmie, admiringly.  "Dave's the boy!"

"That was a lucky shot, though," protested Dave.  "Don't expect every
one to do as much execution as that one did."

"We'll have to take a chance, that's all!" urged Jimmie.  "We won't let
a little thing like that keep us from trying to make a landing."

"Perhaps not," went on Harry, "but at the same time it is a possibility
and must be considered.  Besides," he added, "we're not free from that
fellow over here on our left yet.  He's rising."

"Is he going over us?" asked Ned, anxiously.  "I can't get much more
speed out of this craft the way we're loaded."

"Yes," replied Harry, training his glasses aloft.  "He is trying to
pass above us.  Perhaps he'll drop a bomb on us."

"That's exactly what he's trying to do!" declared Jack.  "What can we
do to prevent him?  Dave, how about another shot?"

"I'll try," answered the boy, "but I'm not sure.  There's considerable
vibration here, you know, and I haven't a rest."

Presently he saw that unless he fired soon the other would be out of
reach, and taking a chance discharged the rifle.  As he had
anticipated, the bullet went wild and resulted in no damage.  Before he
could reload and again take aim the other had passed to a point where
the upper planes of the Eagle shut off his view.

"Now they'll be able to bombard us to their own pleasure!" declared
Jimmie.  "Gee, I wish I could climb up above this top plane and take a
little crack at them myself!  Can't I get up there?"

"None of that, Jimmie!" ordered Ned.  "We have already all the danger
we can handle without trying such a stunt as that!"

"All right, then, but it would be well to alter our course a bit."

"Here goes!" announced Ned, throwing his weight against one of the
levers controlling the horizontal rudders.  "Stand by for a jerk!"

Scarcely had the Eagle swerved sharply from her course before the lads
heard a rushing, whistling sound.  Far below on the ground a missle
fell.  A dull boom came up.  A cloud of smoke rising from the spot
indicated that the missle had been a bomb remarkably well aimed.  They
realized that only by a narrow margin had it missed them.

"Plenty close enough," gritted Jimmie between his teeth.  "Rise, if you
can, Ned, and give us a chance at them with our guns."

From his seat Ned glanced quickly downward and observed the cloud of
smoke about the spot where the bomb had landed.

"Give them another one, Dave," he cried, righting the Eagle and
altering the rudders so as to drive the machine higher.

Without waiting for further instructions, Dave seized his rifle again
and began firing as rapidly as he could load.

"We're getting over the French trenches now!" cried Harry in a moment.
"I can see the puffs of smoke from their guns, and the bursting shells
mean that the Germans are getting the range."

"Then we haven't far to go before we are going to be able to land."

"If we can hold this fellow off a while longer we'll be all right."

"Can you see any place, Harry, that looks like a landing place?" asked
Ned, anxiously.  "We better look for a good spot pretty soon."

Harry turned the glasses to look forward.  He swept the horizon with
eagerness.  Presently he fixed his gaze upon one spot.

"I see another plane coming out to give battle to us and this chap!"

"Look out!" shrieked Jimmie.  "See what Fritz is doing!"

The next instant he had thrown himself forward and over the edge.



CHAPTER XXV

ESCAPE

A gasp rose from the four boys as they saw Fritz hurl himself over the
rim of the car.  They knew that nothing could be done, yet all threw
themselves toward the Uhlan in the vain hope of rescue.

It needed little exercise of the imagination to picture the result of
Fritz's rash act.  Too well the boys understood what would happen when
the soldier fell from such an altitude.

"Good night!" gasped Jimmie, turning a pale face toward his friends.

"How did he do it?" asked Jack, a tremble in his voice.

"He must have been an acrobat of the first water to manage such a
thing!" declared Harry.  "I thought he was as secure as anything."

"Too late now to help him, and we've still got the German aeroplane to
reckon with," warned Ned.  "Keep a sharp lookout for the fellow!"

"What is the stranger doing now?" asked Jack, pointing to the plane
that had appeared from the westward.

"He seems to be heading directly for us," replied Ned.  "I wonder if he
takes us to be Germans, trying some trick or other."

"Better take off these German uniforms," advised Jimmie, stripping off
his jacket as he spoke.  "I'm going to drop mine overboard!"

As he spoke the lad flung the jacket as far as he could and watched its
descent with interest.  The others were not long in following his
example.

"I'll tell you what we'll do!" offered Dave.  "When we get near enough,
shut off the engine so it won't make any noise and we'll all shout
'Vive la France!' at him.  He'll know then we're not enemies."

"Good idea, but I can't speak French," returned Jimmie.

"Well, then, try something!" urged the lad.

"I don't believe anything at all is necessary," stated Ned as the two
came nearer.  "They seem to be after the Germans and not us!"

"What's that place down there?" asked Harry after some time.  "It looks
to me as if it were a camp of some sort.  I see several tents."

"That's an aviation camp just like the one we saw when we came through
France and gave General Joffre his fast ride!" declared Jimmie.

"Sure enough!" declared Ned.  "They have painted the tops of the wings
that peculiar color so that they cannot be readily seen from an enemy
air craft.  That's rather a good idea, too!"

With scarcely a bump the Eagle settled to the earth and was at once
surrounded by French soldiers, some garbed in the well-known suits and
helmets of aviators, others dressed as ordinary infantrymen, while
still others wore greasy overalls and jumpers.

The language used was French, and they were at a loss to know what
their questions meant.

"You'll have to talk United States!" declared Jimmie, rising and
holding up a hand for attention.  "We can't understand that stuff."

"Ah, so you speak English?" questioned one of the men.

All five boys gathered about their prisoner as he stood beside the
Eagle.

As the lads looked at the newcomer they saw a short, broad shouldered
man wearing a white moustache.  The figure looked strangely familiar.

"Do you recognize that man, Jimmie?" asked Ned.

Jimmie's answer was lost in the roar of exhaust from one of the other
aeroplanes parked nearby.  All turned in amazement at the noise.  With
a rush the French plane swept by the group and began soaring into the
air.  One glance showed the lads that Otto was at the levers.

During the brief moment that their attention had been diverted, the
Uhlan had taken advantage of their preoccupation and had silently
stolen away to the machine whose engine had been left running.  Now he
was beyond recall, and in a short time would be again on the eastern
side of the fighting line, where he would no doubt join his regiment.

Chagrined, the lads looked at each other with crestfallen glances.

As the clamor of the other motor died into a steady drone they turned
to look again at the advancing figure.

"Why, that's General Joffre!" gasped Jimmie.  "Hope he don't recognize
us.  I feel too cheap for anything!"

"I think I have seen these young men before," he began cordially.  "You
are the young men who were of so much assistance to me at one time."

"Thank you, General," replied Ned.  "We are glad to see you again."

"And what can I do for you in return for that kindness?" asked the
general without going into the details of the event with which those of
our readers who have read the previous volumes of this series are
already familiar.  "If there is anything I can do, please command me."

"We'd only like safe conduct to some seaport, sir," answered Ned,
"where we can take passage to the United States.  We want to get home!"

"That can be arranged, I am sure!" stated the general, heartily.  "But
you must be rather hungry.  Will you not step into the tent here and
have some lunch?  You can tell me of your adventures while you eat."

There they related to the general and some of his aides the incidents
leading up to their flight of that morning, not omitting to tell of
their neglect to retain the prisoner they had so strangely brought to
camp.

As they finished, the general said, as he looked at Jimmie:

"And so the Germans are rushing train loads of soldiers to the front,
are they?  And are they bringing any guns?"

"They're bringing lots of troops," replied Jimmie, "but I didn't see
any big guns.  They've got some trains of ammunition on the way."

"Thanks!" acknowledged General Joffre.  "That news is important!"

"Great Frozen Hot Boxes!" cried Jimmie, rising.  "There I've gone and
given away a lot of perfectly good information!  And all the time I
said I was going to remain perfectly neutral!  Just my luck!"

"But at least," continued the general, "you have your packet and will
be glad to return to your home so that you may carry out the wishes of
your acquaintance who was responsible for so many of your adventures.
Besides, you didn't intend to tell me anything, did you?"

"If you would consider selling your airship we would like to purchase
it," the general said, turning again to Ned.  "It appears to be a fine
machine and I think we could use it to advantage."

"You are very kind, sir.  We will be glad to sell it if you wish."

In a short time, details of the purchase had been arranged and the boys
were on their way toward Havre, where they were to take boat for the
United States.  As they left the camp they gave three rousing cheers
for General Joffre and swung their caps in farewell.

As the camp was left behind, Dave turned to his companions with
grateful thanks for their kindnesses to him.

"Oh, pshaw!" declared Jimmie.  "Don't say a word about that!  You did
as much for us as we did for you.  Now we're headed for home again
let's forget all about how we served under the Enemy and how the Forces
escaped!"

"Just the same, I'll have a lot to tell the members of my Patrol when I
get back to Vancouver!" declared Dave, earnestly.  "I'm glad I had the
chance to meet with the Black Bears and Wolves!"

"And I hope that the next time you meet any of the Bears and Wolves you
won't have to come over here and meet them while they are in the German
army," put in Ned.  "Hereafter I'm going to be like Jimmie.  I'm going
to be neutral if I have to fight for it!"





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