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Title: A Boy Scout's Courage
Author: Griggs, Edward Howard, 1868-1951
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.

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[Illustration: Cover]



                         A BOY SCOUT’S COURAGE



                                  _By_

                             EDWARD GRIGGS



                      THE SAALFIELD PUBLISHING CO.
                       AKRON, OHIO –––– NEW YORK



                            Copyright, 1921
                                   By
                      The Saalfield Publishing Co.



                           MADE IN THE U.S.A.



TWELVE VOLUMES


1  A BOY SCOUT’S ADVENTURE
2  A BOY SCOUT’S DESTINY
3  A BOY SCOUT’S HOLIDAY
4  A BOY SCOUT’S CHANCE
5  A BOY SCOUT ON THE TRAIL
6  A BOY SCOUT MYSTERY
7  A BOY SCOUT PATRIOT
8  A BOY SCOUT HERO
9  A BOY SCOUT’S DARING
10  A BOY SCOUT’S COURAGE
11  A BOY SCOUT’S STRUGGLE
12  A BOY SCOUT’S SUCCESS



                                  ――――



CONTENTS


    CHAPTER I–A FRIEND IN NEED
    CHAPTER II–AN UNEXPECTED BLOW
    CHAPTER III–A GOOD WITNESS
    CHAPTER IV–THE FIRST BLOW
    CHAPTER V–THE SILENT WIRE
    CHAPTER VI–A TREACHEROUS DEED
    CHAPTER VII–THE TRAP
    CHAPTER VIII–A DARING RUSE
    CHAPTER IX–THE CIPHER
    CHAPTER X–A CAPTURE FROM THE SKIES
    CHAPTER XI–VINDICATION

                                  ――――



                         A BOY SCOUT’S COURAGE



CHAPTER I–A FRIEND IN NEED


"As long as I can’t be at home, I’d rather be here than anywhere in the
world I can think of!"

Was it little more than a week, thought Harry Fleming, American Boy
Scout living in London, since he had uttered those words so lightly?
Was it just a week since Grenfel, his English scoutmaster, had bidden
the boys good-bye?  Was it just two days since father and mother had
been so suddenly recalled to the States?  Was it just that very morning
that he and his good chum Dick Mercer had been detailed on this mission
which had led to the discovery of the secret heliographs so busily
sending messages to the enemy across the North Sea?  Was it just a few
hours since the two Scouts, hot on the trail, had cached papers and
motorcycles and started the closer exploration of that mysterious estate
outside the sleepy English village, leased, so the village gossip had
it, by a rich American who eccentrically denied himself to all comers
and zealously guarded the privacy of his grounds?

Was it just a few moments since he had urged, even commanded Dick Mercer
to leave him, caught in a trap set for just such trespassers as they?
Had he urged his chum to leave him in his agony, for the ankle was badly
wrenched, and seek safety in flight? For it was Harry Fleming, hero of
"A Boy Scout’s Daring," whom we now find listening in an agony of fear
rather than of pain to such sounds as came to him after Dick had, so
reluctantly, left him pinned in the trap.  He could hear, plainly
enough, the advance of the two searchers who had scared Dick into hiding
in the rhododendron bush; he could even see the gleam of their
flashlights, and was able, therefore, to guess what they were doing.
For the moment it seemed impossible to him that Dick should escape.

As to himself, he was quite sure that he would be captured in a few
minutes, and, as a matter of fact, there were things that made the
prospect decidedly bearable.  The pain in his ankle from the trap in
which he had been caught was excruciating.  It seemed to him that he
must cry out, but he kept silence resolutely.  As long as there was a
chance that he might not fall into the hands of the spies who were
searching the grounds, he meant to cling to it.

But the chance was a very slim one, as he knew. He could imagine,
without difficulty, just about what the men with the flashlights would
do, by reasoning out his own course.  They would look for footprints.
These would lead them to the spot where he and Dick had watched the
raising of the wireless mast, and thence along the path they had taken
to return to the wall and to safety.  Thus they would come to him, and
he would be found, literally like a rat in a trap.

And then, quite suddenly, came the diversion created by Dick’s daring
dash for escape, when he sped from the bush and climbed the wall,
followed by the bullets that the searchers fired after him. Harry
started, hurting his imprisoned ankle terribly by the wrench his sudden
movement gave it. Then he listened eagerly for the cry he dreaded yet
expected to hear, that would tell him that Dick had been hit.  It did
not come.  Instead, he heard more men running, and then in a moment all
within the wall was quiet, and he could hear the hue and cry dying away
as they chased him along the road outside.

"Well, by Jove!" he said to himself, enthusiastically, "I believe Dick’s
fooled them!  I didn’t think he had it in him!  That’s bully for him!
He ought to get a medal for that!"

It was some moments before he realized fully that he had gained a
respite, temporarily, at least. Obviously the two men who had been
searching with flashlights had followed Dick; there was at least a good
chance that no one else knew about him.  He had decided that there was
some system of signal wires that rang an alarm when a trap was sprung.
But it might be that these two men were the only ones who were supposed
to follow up such an alarm.

He carried a flashlight himself, and now he took the chance of playing
it on his ankle, to see if there was any chance of escape.  He hooded
the light with his hand and looked carefully.  But what he saw was not
encouraging.  The steel band looked most formidable.  It was on the
handcuff principle and any attempt to work his foot loose would only
make the grip tighter and increase his suffering.  His spirits fell at
that.  Then the only thing his brief immunity would do for him would be
to keep him in pain a little longer.  He would be caught anyhow, and he
guessed that, if Dick got away, he would find his captors in a savage
mood.

Even as he let the flashlight wink out, since it was dangerous to use it
more than was necessary, he heard a cautious movement within a few feet.
At first he thought it was an animal he had heard, so silent were its
movements.  But in a moment a hand touched his own.  He started
slightly, but kept quiet.

"Hush–I’m a friend," said a voice, almost at his elbow.  "I thought you
were somewhere around here, but I couldn’t find you until you flashed
your light.  You’re caught in a trap, aren’t you?"

"Yes," said Dick.  "Who are you?"

"That’s what I want to know about you, first," said the other boy–for it
was another boy, as Harry learned from his voice.  Never had a sound
been more welcome in his ears than that voice!  "Tell me who you are and
what you two were doing around here.  I saw you this afternoon and
tracked you.  I tried to before, but I couldn’t, on account of your
motorcycles.  Then I just happened to see you, when you were on foot.
Are you Boy Scouts?"

"Yes," said Harry.  "Are you?"

"Yes.  That’s why I followed–especially when I saw you coming in here.
We’ve got a patrol in the village, but most of the scouts are at work in
the fields."

Rapidly, and in a whisper, Harry explained a little, enough to make this
new ally understand.

"You’d better get out, if you know how, and take word," said Harry.  "I
think my chum got away, but it would be better to be sure.  And they’ll
be after me soon."

"If they give us two or three minutes we’ll both get out," said the
newcomer, confidently.  "I know this place with my eyes shut.  I used to
play here before the old family moved away.  I’m the vicar’s son, in the
village, and I always had the run of the park until these new people
came.  And I’ve been in here a few times since then, too."

"That’s all right," said Harry.  "But how am I going to get out of this
trap?"

"Let me have your flashlight a moment," said the stranger.

Harry gave it to him, and the other scout bent over his ankle.  Harry
saw that he had a long, slender piece of wire.  He guessed that he was
going to try to pick the lock.  And in a minute or less Harry heard a
welcome click that told him his new found friend–a friend in need,
indeed, he was proving himself to be!–had succeeded.  His ankle was
free.

He struggled to his feet, and there was a moment of exquisite pain as
the blood rushed through his ankle and circulation was restored to his
numbed foot.  But he was able to stand, and, although limpingly, to
walk.  He had been fortunate, as a matter of fact, in that no bone had
been crushed.  That might well have happened with such a trap, or a
ligament or tendon might have been wrenched or torn, in which case he
would have found it just about impossible to move at all.  As it was,
however, he was able to get along, though he suffered considerable pain
every time he put his foot to the ground.

It was no time, however, in which to think of discomforts so
comparatively trifling as that.  When he was outside he would be able,
with the other scout’s aid, to give his foot some attention, using the
first aid outfit that he always carried, as every scout should do.  But
now the one thing to be done was to make good his escape.

Harry realized, as soon as he was free, that he was not by any means out
of the woods.  He was still decidedly in the enemy’s country, and
getting out of it promised to be a difficult and a perilous task.  He
was handicapped by his lack of knowledge of the place and what little he
did know was discouraging.  He had proof that human enemies were not the
only ones he had to fear.  And the only way he knew that offered a
chance of getting out offered, as well, the prospect of encountering the
men who had pursued Dick Mercer, returning.  It was just as he made up
his mind to this that the other scout spoke again.

"We can’t get out the way you came in," he said. "Or, if we could, it’s
too risky.  But there’s another way.  I’ve been in here since these
people started putting their traps around, and I know where most of them
are.  Come on!"

Harry was glad to obey.  He had no hankering for command.  The thing to
do was to get out as quickly as he could.  And so he followed, though he
had qualms when he saw that, instead of going toward the wall, they were
heading straight in and toward the great grey house.  They circled the
woods that gave them the essential protection of darkness, and always
they got further and further from the place where Dick and Harry had
entered. Harry understood, of course, that there were other ways of
getting out but it took a few words to make him realize the present
situation as it actually was.

"There’s a spot on the other side they don’t really guard at all," said
his companion.  "It’s where the river runs by the place.  They think no
one would come that way.  And I don’t believe they know anything at all
about what I’m going to show you."

Soon Harry heard the water rustling.  And then, to his surprise, his
guide led him straight into a tangle of shrubbery.  It was hard going
for him, for his ankle pained him a good deal, but he managed it.  And
in a moment the other boy spoke, and, for the first time, in a natural
voice.

"I say, I’m glad we’re here!" he said, heartily.  "D’ye see?"

"It looks like a cave," said Harry.

"It is, but it’s more than that, too.  This place is no end old, you
know.  It was here when they fought the Wars of the Roses, I’ve heard.
And come on–I’ll show you something!"

He led the way on into the cave, which narrowed as they went.  But
Harry, pointing his flashlight ahead, saw that it was not going to stop.

"Oh!  A secret passage!  I understand now!" he exclaimed, finally.

"Isn’t it jolly?" said the other.  "Can’t you imagine what fun we used
to have here when we played about?  You see, this may have been used to
bring in food in time of siege.  There used to be another spur of this
tunnel that ran right into the house. But that was all let go to pot,
for some reason. This is all that is left.  But it’s enough.  It runs
way down under the river–and in a jiffy we’ll be out in the meadows on
the other side.  I say, what’s your name?"

They hadn’t had time to exchange the information each naturally craved
about the other before.  And now, as they realized it, they both
laughed.  Harry told his name.

"Mine’s Jack Young," said the other scout.  "I say, you don’t talk like
an Englishman?"

"I’m not," explained Harry.  "I’m American. But I’m for England just
now–and we were caught here trying to find out something about that
place."

They came out into the open then, where the light of the stars enabled
them to see one another.  Jack nodded.

"I got an idea of what you were after–you two," he said.  "The other
one’s English, isn’t he?"

"Dick Mercer?  Yes!" said Harry, astonished. "But how did you find out
about us?"

"Stalked you," said Jack, happily.  "Oh, I’m no end of a scout!  I
followed you as soon as I caught you without your bicycles."

"We must have been pretty stupid to let you do it, though," said Harry,
a little crestfallen.  "I’m glad we did, but suppose you’d been an
enemy!  A nice fix we’d have been in!"

"That’s just what I thought about you," admitted Jack.  "You see,
everyone has sort of laughed at me down here because I said there might
be German spies about.  I’ve always been suspicious of the people who
took Bray Park.  They didn’t act the way English people do.  They didn’t
come to church, and when the pater–I told you he was the vicar here,
didn’t I?–went to call, they wouldn’t let him in!  Just sent word they
were out!  Fancy treating the vicar like that!" he concluded with
spirit.

Harry knew enough of the customs of the English countryside to
understand that the new tenants of Bray Park could not have chosen a
surer method of bringing down both dislike and suspicion upon
themselves.

"That was a bit too thick, you know," Jack went on.  "So when the war
started, I decided I’d keep my eyes open, especially on any strangers
who came around.  So there you have it.  I say!  You’d better let me try
to make that ankle easier.  You’re limping badly."

That was true, and Harry submitted gladly to such ministrations as Jack
knew how to offer.  Cold water helped considerably; it reduced the
swelling. And then Jack skillfully improvised a brace, that, binding the
ankle tightly, gave it a fair measure of support.

"Now try that!" he said.  "See if it doesn’t feel better!"

"It certainly does," said Harry.  "You’re quite a doctor, aren’t you?
Well, now the next thing to do is to try to find where Dick is.  I know
where he went–to the place where we cached our cycles and our papers."

Like Dick, he was hopelessly at sea, for the moment, as to his
whereabouts.  And he had, moreover, to reckon with the turns and twists
of the tunnel, which there had been no way of following in the utter
darkness.  But Jack Young, who, of course, could have found his way
anywhere within five miles of them blindfolded, helped him, and they
soon found that they were less than half a mile from the place.

"Can you come on with me, Jack?" asked Harry. He felt that in his
rescuer he had found a new friend, and one whom he was going to like
very well, indeed, and he wanted his company, if it was possible.

"Yes.  No one knows I am out," said Jack, frankly.  "The pater’s like
the rest of them here–he doesn’t take the war seriously yet.  When I
said the other day that it might last long enough for me to be old
enough to go, he laughed at me.  I really hope it won’t, but I wouldn’t
be surprised if it did, would you?"

"No, I wouldn’t.  It’s too early to tell anything about it yet, really.
But if the Germans fight the way they always have before, it’s going to
be a long war."

They talked as they went, and, though Harry’s ankle was still painful,
the increased speed the bandaging made possible more than made up for
the time it had required.  Harry was anxious about Dick; he wanted to
rejoin him as soon as possible.

And so it was not long before they came near to the place where the
cycles had been cached.

"We’d better go slow.  In case anyone else watched us this afternoon, we
don’t want to walk into a trap," said Harry.  He was more upset than he
had cared to admit by the discovery that he and Dick had been spied upon
by Jack, excellent though it had been that it was so.  For what Jack had
done it was conceivable that someone else, too, might have accomplished.

"All right.  You go ahead," said Jack.  "I’ll form a rear guard–d’ye
see?  Then you can’t be surprised."

"That’s a good idea," said Harry.  "There, see that big tree, that
blasted one over there?  I marked that.  The cache is in a straight
line, almost, from that, where the ground dips a little.  There’s a
clump of bushes."

"There’s someone there, too," said Jack.  "He’s tugging at a cycle, as
if he were trying to get ready to start it."

"That’ll be Dick, then," said Harry, greatly relieved.  "All right–I’ll
go ahead!"

He went on then, and soon he, too, saw Dick busy with the motorcycle.

"Won’t he be glad to see me, though?" he thought.  "Poor old Dick!  I
bet he’s had a hard time."

Then he called, softly.  And Dick turned.  But–it was not Dick.  It was
Ernest Graves!



CHAPTER II–AN UNEXPECTED BLOW


For a moment it would have been hard to say which of them was more
completely staggered and amazed.

"What are you doing here?" Harry gasped, finally.

And then, all at once, it came over him that it did not matter what
Ernest answered; that there could be no reasonable and good explanation
for what he had caught Graves doing.

"You sneak!" he cried.  "What are you doing here–spying on us?"

He sprang forward, and Graves, with a snarling cry of anger, lunged to
meet him.  Had he not been handicapped by his lame ankle, Harry might
have given a good account of himself in a hand-to-hand fight with
Graves, but, as it was, the older boy’s superior weight gave him almost
his own way. Before Jack, who was running up, could reach them, Graves
threw Harry off.  He stood looking down on him for just a second.

"That’s what you get for interfering, young Fleming!" he said.  "There’s
something precious queer about you, my American friend!  I fancy you’ll
have to do some explaining about where you’ve been to-night!"

Harry was struggling to his feet.  Now he saw the papers in Graves’
hand.

"You thief!" he cried.  "Those papers belong to me!  You’ve stolen them!
Give them here!"

But Graves only laughed in his face.

"Come and get them!" he taunted.  And, before either of the scouts could
realize what he meant to do he had started one of the motorcycles,
sprung to the saddle, and started.  In a moment he was out of sight,
around a bend in the road.  Only the put-put of the motor, rapidly dying
away, remained of him. But, even in that moment, the two he left behind
him were busy.  Jack sprang to the other motorcycle, and tried to start
it, but in vain.  Something was wrong; the motor refused to start.

"That’s what he was doing when I saw him first!" cried Harry, with a
flash of inspiration.  "I thought it was Dick, trying to start his
motor–but it was Graves trying to keep us from starting it!  But he
can’t have done very much–I don’t believe he had the time.  We ought to
be able to fix it pretty soon."

"It’s two miles to the repair place!" said Jack, blankly.

"Not to this repair shop," said Harry, with a laugh.  The need of prompt
and efficient action pulled him together.  He forgot his wonder at
finding Graves, the pain of his ankle, everything but the instant need
of being busy.  He had to get that cycle going and be off in pursuit;
that was all there was to it.

"Give me a steady light," he directed.  "I think he’s probably
disconnected the wires of the magneto–that’s what I’d do if I wanted to
put a motor out of business in a hurry.  And if that’s all, there’s no
great harm done."

"I don’t see how you know all that!" wondered Jack.  "I can ride one of
those things, but the best I can do is mend a puncture, if I should have
one."

"Oh, it’s easy enough," said Harry, working while he talked.  "You see,
the motor itself can’t be hurt unless you take an axe to it, and break
it all up!  But to start you’ve got to have a spark–and you get that
from electricity.  So there are these little wires that make the
connection.  He didn’t cut them, thank Heaven!  He just disconnected
them. If he’d cut them I might really have been up a tree because that’s
the sort of accident you wouldn’t provide for in a repair kit."

"It isn’t an accident at all," said Jack, literally.

"That’s right," said Harry.  "That’s what I meant, too.  Now let’s see.
I think that’s all. Good thing we came up when we did or he’d have cut
the tires to ribbons.  And there are a lot of things I’d rather do than
ride one of these machines on its rims–to say nothing of how long the
wheels would last if one tried to go fast at all."

He tried the engine; it answered beautifully.

"Now is there a telephone in your father’s house, Jack?"

"Yes.  Why?" for Jack was plainly puzzled.

"So that I can call you up, of course!  I’m going after Graves.  Later
I’ll tell you who he is.  I’m in luck, really.  He took Dick’s
machine–and mine is a good ten miles an hour faster.  I can race him and
beat him but, of course, he couldn’t know which was the fastest.  Dick’s
is the best looking.  I suppose that’s why he picked it."

"But where is Dick?"

"That’s what I’m coming to.  They may have caught him but I hope not.  I
don’t think they did, either.  I think he’ll come along here pretty
soon. And, if he does, he’ll have an awful surprise."

"I’ll stay here and tell him–"

"You’re a brick, Jack!  It’s just what I was going to ask you to do.  I
can’t leave word for him any other way, and I don’t know what he’d think
if he came here and found the cycles and all gone.  Then take him home
with you, will you?  And I’ll ring you up just as soon as I can.
Good-bye!"

And everything being settled as far as he could foresee it then, Harry
went scooting off into the night on his machine.  As he rode, with the
wind whipping into his face and eyes, and the incessant roar of the
engine in his ears, he knew he was starting what was likely to prove a
wild-goose chase. Even if he caught Graves, he didn’t know what he could
do, except that he meant to get back the papers.

More and more, as he rode on, the mystery of Graves’ behavior puzzled
him, worried him.  He knew that Graves had been sore and angry when he
had not been chosen for the special duty detail.  But that did not seem
a sufficient reason for him to have acted as he had.  He remembered,
too, the one glimpse of Graves they had caught before, in a place where
he did not seem to belong.

And then, making the mystery still deeper, and defying explanation, as
it seemed to him, was the question of how Graves had known, first of
all, where they were, and of how he had reached the place.

He had no motorcycle of his own or he would not have ridden away on
Dick’s machine.  He could not have come by train.  Harry’s head swam
with the problem that presented itself.  And then, to make it worse,
there was that remark Graves had made. He had said Harry would find it
hard to explain where he had been.  How did he know where they had been?
Why should he think it would be hard for them to explain their actions?

"There isn’t any answer," he said to himself. "And, if there was, I’m a
juggins to be trying to find it now.  I’d better keep my mind on this
old machine, or it will ditch me!  I know what I’ve got to do, anyhow,
even if I don’t know why."

Mile after mile he rode, getting the very best speed he could out of the
machine.  Somewhere ahead of him, he was sure, riding back toward
London, was Graves.  In this wild pursuit he was taking chances, of
course.  Graves might have turned off the road almost anywhere.  But if
he had done that, there was nothing to be done about it; that much was
certain.  He could only keep on with the pursuit, hoping that his quarry
was following the straight road toward London.  And, to be sure, there
was every reason for him to hope just that.

By this time it was very late.  No one was abroad; the countryside was
asleep.  Once or twice he did find someone in the streets of a village
as he swept through; then he stopped, and asked if a man on another
motorcycle had passed ahead of him.  Two or three times the yokel he
questioned didn’t know; twice, however, he did get a definite assurance
that Graves was ahead of him.

Somehow he never thought of the outrageously illegal speed he was
making.  He knew the importance of his errand, and that, moreover, he
was a menace to nothing but the sleep of those he disturbed.  No one was
abroad to get in his way, and he forgot utterly that there might be need
for caution, until, as he went through a fair sized town, he suddenly
saw three policemen, two of whom were also mounted on motorcycles,
waiting for him.

They waved their arms, crying out to him to stop, and, seeing that he
was trapped, he did stop.

"Let me by," he cried, angrily.  "I’m on government service!"

"Another of them?"  One of the policemen looked doubtfully at the rest.
"Too many of you telling that tale to-night.  And the last one said
there was a scorcher behind him.  Have you got any papers? He had them!"

Harry groaned!  So Graves had managed to strike at him, even when he was
miles away. Evidently he, too, had been held up; evidently, also, he had
used Harry’s credentials to get out of the scrape speeding had put him
in.

"No, I haven’t any credentials," he said, angrily. "But you can see my
uniform, can’t you?  I’m a Boy Scout, and we’re all under government
orders now, like soldiers or sailors."

"That’s too thin, my lad," said the policeman who seemed to be
recognized as the leader.  "Everyone we’ve caught for speeding too fast
since the war began has blamed it on the war.  We’ll have to take you
along, my boy.  They telephoned to us from places you passed–they said
you were going so fast it was dangerous.  And we saw you ourselves."

In vain Harry pleaded.  Now that he knew that Graves had used his
credentials from Colonel Throckmorton, he decided that it would be
foolish to claim his own identity.  Graves had assumed that, and he had
had the practically conclusive advantage of striking the first blow.  So
Harry decided to submit to the inevitable with the best grace he could
muster.

"All right," he said.  "I’ll go along with you, officer.  But you’ll be
sorry before it’s over!"

"Maybe, sir," said the policeman.  "But orders is orders, sir, and I’ve
got to obey them.  Not that I likes running a young gentleman like
yourself in. But–"

"Oh, I know you’re only doing your duty, as you see it, officer," he
said.  "Can’t be helped–but I’m sorry.  It’s likely to cause a lot of
trouble."

So he surrendered.  But, even while he was doing so, he was planning to
escape from custody.



CHAPTER III–A GOOD WITNESS


Dick’s surprise and concern when he found the cache empty and deserted,
with papers and motorcycles alike gone, may be imagined.  For a moment
he thought he must be mistaken; that, after all, he had come to the
wrong place.  But a quick search of the ground with his flashlight
showed him that he had come to the right spot.  He could see the tracks
made by the wheels of the machine; he could see, also, evidences of the
brief struggle between Harry and Graves.  For a moment his mystification
continued.  But then, with a low laugh, Jack Young emerged from the
cover in which he had been hiding.

"Hello, there!" he said.  "I say, are you Dick Mercer?"

"Yes!" gasped Dick.  "But how ever do you know?  I never saw you
before!"

"Well, you see me now," said Jack.  "Harry Fleming told me to look for
you here.  He said you’d be along some time to-night, if you got away.
And he was sure you could get away, too."

"Harry!" said Dick, dazed.  "You’ve seen him? Where is he?  Did he get
away?  And what happened to the cycles and the papers we hid there?
Why–"

"Hold on!  One question at a time," said Jack. "Keep your shirt on, and
I’ll tell you all I know about it.  Then we can decide what is to be
done next.  I think I’ll attach myself temporarily to your patrol."

"Oh, you’re a scout, too, are you?" asked Dick. That seemed to explain a
good deal.  He was used to having scouts turn up to help him out of
trouble. And so he listened as patiently as he could, while Jack
explained what had happened.

"And that’s all I know," said Jack, finally, when he had carried the
tale to the point where Harry rode off on the repaired motorcycle in
pursuit of Ernest Graves.  "I should think you might really know more
about it now than I do."

"Why, how could I?  You saw it all!"

"Yes, that’s true enough.  But you know Harry and I were too busy to
talk much after we found that motor was out of order.  All I know is
that when we got here we found someone I’d never seen before and never
want to see again messing about with the cycles.  We thought it must be
you, of course–at least Harry did, and of course I supposed he ought to
know."

"And then you found it was Ernest Graves?"

"Harry did.  He took one look at him–and then they started right in
fighting.  Harry seemed to be sure that was the thing to do.  If I’d
been in his place, I’d have tried to arbitrate, I think.  This chap
Graves was a lot bigger than he.  He was carrying weight for age.  You
see, I don’t know yet who Graves is, or why Harry wanted to start
fighting him that way.  I’ve been waiting patiently for you to come
along, so that you could tell me."

"He’s a sneak!" declared Dick, vehemently.  "I suppose you know that
Harry’s an American, don’t you?"

"Yes, but that’s nothing against him."

"Of course it isn’t!  But this Graves is the biggest and oldest chap in
our troop–he isn’t in our patrol. And he thought that if any of us were
going to be chosen for special service, he ought to have the first
chance.  So when they picked Harry and me, he began talking about
Harry’s being an American. He tried to act as if he thought it wasn’t
safe for anyone who wasn’t English to be picked out!"

"It looks as if he had acted on that idea, too, doesn’t it, then?  It
seems to me that he has followed you down here, just to get a chance to
play some trick on you.  He got those papers, you see. And I fancy
you’ll be blamed for losing them."

"How did he know we were here?" said Dick, suddenly.  "That’s what I’d
like to know!"

"Yes, it would be a good thing to find that out," said Jack,
thoughtfully.  "Well, it will be hard to do.  But we might find out how
he got here.  I know this village and the country all around here pretty
well.  And Gaffer Hodge will know, if anyone does. He’s the most curious
man in the world.  Come on–we’ll see what he has to say."

"Who is he?" asked Dick, as they began to walk briskly toward the
village.

"You went through the village this afternoon, didn’t you?  Didn’t you
see a very old man with white hair and a stick beside him, sitting in a
doorway next to the little shop by the Red Dog?"

"Yes."

"That’s Gaffer Hodge.  He’s the oldest man in these parts.  He can
remember the Crimean War and–oh, everything!  He must be over a hundred
years old.  And he watches everyone who comes in. If a stranger is in
the village he’s never happy until he knows all about him.  He was
awfully worried to-day about you and Harry, I heard," explained Jack.

Dick laughed heartily.

"Well, I do hope he can tell us something about Graves.  The sneak!  I
certainly hope Harry catches up to him.  Do you think he can?"

"Well, he might, if he was lucky.  He said the cycle he was riding was
faster than the other one. But of course it would be very hard to tell
just which way to go.  If Graves knew there was a chance that he might
be followed he ought to be able to give anyone who was even a mile
behind the slip."

"Of course it’s at night and that makes it harder for Harry."

"Yes, I suppose it does.  In the daytime Harry could find people to tell
him which way Graves was going, couldn’t he?"

"Yes.  That’s just what I meant."

"Oh, I say, won’t Gaffer Hodge be in bed and asleep?"

"I don’t think so.  He doesn’t seem to like to go to bed.  He sits up
very late, and talks to the men when they start to go home from the Red
Dog.  He likes to talk, you see.  We’ll soon know–that’s one thing.
We’ll be there now in no time."

Sure enough, the old man was still up when they arrived.  He was just
saying good-night, in a high, piping voice, to a little group of men who
had evidently been having a nightcap in the inn next to his house.  When
he saw Jack he smiled.  They were very good friends, and the old man had
found the boy one of his best listeners.  The Gaffer liked to live in
the past; he was always delighted when anyone would let him tell his
tales of the things he remembered.

"Good-evening, Gaffer," said Jack, respectfully. "This is my friend,
Dick Mercer.  He’s a Boy Scout from London."

"Knew it!  Knew it!" said Gaffer Hodge, with a senile chuckle.  "I said
they was from Lunnon this afternoon when I seen them fust!  Glad to meet
you, young maister."

Then Jack described Graves as well as he could from his brief sight of
him, and Dick helped by what he remembered.

"Did you see him come into town this afternoon. Gaffer?" asked Jack.

"Let me think," said the old man.  "Yes–I seen ’um.  Came sneaking in,
he did, this afternoon as ever was!  Been up to the big house at Bray
Park, he had.  Came in in an automobile, he did.  Then he went back
there.  But he was in the post office when you and t’other young lad
from Lunnon went by, maister!" nodding his head as if well pleased.

This was to Dick, and he and Jack stared at one another.  Certainly
their visit to Gaffer Hodge had paid them well.

"Are you sure of that, Gaffer?" asked Jack, quietly.  "Sure that it was
an automobile from Bray Park?"

"Sure as ever was!" said the old man, indignantly. Like all old people,
he hated anyone to question him, resenting the idea that anyone could
think he was mistaken.  "Didn’t I see the machine myself–a big grey one,
with black stripes as ever was, like all their automobiles?"

"That’s true–that’s the way their cars are painted, and they have five
or six of them," said Jack.

"Yes.  And he come in the car from Lunnon before he went there–and then
he come out here. He saw you and t’other young lad from Lunnon go by,
maister, on your bicycles.  He was watching you from the shop as ever
was!"

"Thank you, Gaffer," said Jack, gravely.  "You’ve told us just what we
wanted to know.  I’ll bring you some tobacco in the morning, if you
like.  My father’s just got a new lot down from London."

"Thanks, thank’ee kindly," said the Gaffer, overjoyed at the prospect.

Then they said good-night to the old man, who, plainly delighted at the
thought that he had been of some service to them, and at this proof of
his sharpness, of which he was always boasting, rose and hobbled into
his house.

"He’s really a wonderful old man," said Dick.

"He certainly is," agreed Jack.  "His memory seems to be as good as
ever, and he’s awfully active, too.  He’s got rheumatism, but he can see
and hear as well as he ever could, my father says."

They walked on, each turning over in his mind what they had heard about
Graves.

"That’s how he knew we were here," said Dick, finally.  "I’ve been
puzzling about that.  I remember now seeing that car as we went by.  But
of course I didn’t pay any particular attention to it, except that I saw
a little American flag on it."

"Yes, they’re supposed to be Americans, you know," said Jack.  "And I
suppose they carry the flag so that the car won’t be taken for the army.
The government has requisitioned almost all the cars in the country, you
know."

"I’m almost afraid to think about this," said Dick, after a moment of
silence.  "Graves must know those people in that house, if he’s riding
about in their car.  And they–"

He paused, and they looked at one another.

"I don’t know what to do!" said Dick.  "I wish there was some way to
tell Harry about what we’ve found out."

Jack started.

"I nearly forgot!" he said.  "We’d better cut for my place.  I told
Harry we’d be there if he telephoned, you know.  Come on!"



CHAPTER IV–THE FIRST BLOW


To Harry, as he was taken off to the police station, it seemed the
hardest sort of hard luck that his chase of Graves should be interrupted
at such a critical time and just because he had been overspeeding.  But
he realized that he was helpless, and that he would only waste his
breath if he tried to explain matters until he was brought before
someone who was really in authority.  Then, if he had any luck, he might
be able to clear things up.  But the men who arrested him were only
doing their duty as they saw it, and they had no discretionary power at
all.

When he reached the station he was disappointed to find that no one was
on duty except a sleepy inspector, who was even less inclined to listen
to reason than the constables.

"Everyone who breaks the law has a good excuse, my lad," he said.  "If
we listened to all of them we might as well close up this place.  You
can tell your story to the magistrate in the morning. You’ll be well
treated to-night, and you’re better off with us than running around the
country–a lad of your age!  If I were your father, I should see to it
that you were in bed and asleep before this."

There was no arguing with such a man, especially when he was sleepy.  So
Harry submitted, very quietly, to being put into a cell.  He was not
treated like a common prisoner; that much he was grateful for.  His cell
was really a room, with windows that were not even barred.  And he saw
that he could be very comfortable indeed.

"You’ll be all right here," said one of the constables.  "Don’t worry,
my lad.  You’ll be let off with a caution in the morning.  Get to sleep
now–it’s late, and you’ll be roused bright and early in the morning."

Harry smiled pleasantly, and thanked the man for his good advice.  But
he had no intention whatever of taking it.  He did not even take off his
clothes, though he did seize the welcome chance to use the washstand
that was in the room.  He had been through a good deal since his last
chance to wash and clean up, and he was grimy and dirty.  He discovered,
too, that he was ravenously hungry. Until that moment he had been too
active, too busy with brain and body, to notice his hunger.

However, there was nothing to be done for that now.  He and Dick had not
stopped for meals that day since breakfast, and they had eaten their
emergency rations in the early afternoon.  In the tool case on his
impounded motorcycle Harry knew there were condensed food tablets–each
the equivalent of certain things like eggs, and steaks and chops. And
there were cakes of chocolate, too, the most nourishing of foods that
are small in bulk.  But the knowledge did him little good now.  He
didn’t even know where the motorcycle had been stored for the night.  It
had been confiscated, of course; in the morning it would be returned to
him.

But he didn’t allow his thoughts to dwell long on the matter of food.
It was vastly more important that he should get away.  He had to get his
news to Colonel Throckmorton.  Perhaps Dick had done that.  But he
couldn’t trust that chance.  Aside from that, he wanted to know what had
become of Dick. And, for the life of him, he didn’t see how he was to
get away.

"If they weren’t awfully sure of me, they’d have locked me up a lot more
carefully than this," he reflected.  "And of course it would be hard.  I
could get out of here easily enough."

He had seen a drain pipe down which, he felt sure, he could climb.

"But suppose I did," he went on, talking to himself.  "I’ve got an idea
it would land me where I could be seen from the door–and I suppose
that’s open all night.  And, then if I got away from here, every
policeman in this town would know me. They’d pick me up if I tried to
get out, even if I walked."

He looked out of the window.  Not so far away he could see a faint glare
in the sky.  That was London.  He was already in the suburban chain that
ringed the great city.  This place–he did not know its name,
certainly–was quite a town in itself. And he was so close to London that
there was no real open country.  One town or borough ran right into the
next.  The houses would grow fewer, thinning out, but before the gap
became real, the outskirts of the next borough would be reached.

Straight in front of him, looking over the housetops, he could see the
gleam of water.  It was a reservoir, he decided.  Probably it
constituted the water supply for a considerable section.  And then, as
he looked, he saw a flash–saw a great column of water rise in the air,
and descend, like pictures of a cloudburst.  A moment after the
explosion, he heard a dull roar.  And after the roar another sound.  He
saw the water fade out and disappear, and it was a moment before he
realized what was happening.  The reservoir had been blown up.  And that
meant more than the danger and the discomfort of an interrupted water
supply.  It meant an immediate catastrophe–the flooding of all the
streets nearby.

In England, as he knew, such reservoirs were higher than the surrounding
country, as a rule. They were contained within high walls, and, after a
rainy summer, such as this had been, would be full to overflowing.  He
was hammering at his door in a moment, and a sleepy policeman, aroused
by the sudden alarm, flung it open as he passed on his way to the floor
below.

Harry rushed down, and mingled, unnoticed, with the policemen who had
been off duty, but summoned now to deal with this disaster.  The
inspector who had received him paid no attention to him at all.

"Out with you, men!" he cried.  "There’ll be trouble over this–no
telling but what people may be drowned.  Double quick, now!"

They rushed out, under command of a sergeant. The inspector stayed
behind, and now he looked at Harry.

"Hullo!" he said.  "How did you get out?"

"I want to help!" said Harry, inspired.  "I haven’t done anything really
wrong, have I? Oughtn’t I be allowed to do whatever I can, now that
something like this has happened?"

"Go along with you!" said the inspector.  "All right!  But you’d better
come back–because we’ve got your motorcycle, and we’ll keep that until
you come back for it."

But it made little difference to Harry that he was, so to speak, out on
bail.  The great thing was that he was free.  He rushed out, but he
didn’t make for the scene of the disaster to the reservoir, caused, as
he had guessed, by some spy.  All the town was pouring out now, and the
streets were full of people making for the place where the explosion had
occurred.  It was quite easy for Harry to slip through them and make for
London.  He did not try to get his cycle.  But before he had gone very
far he overtook a motor lorry that had broken down.  He pitched in and
helped with the slight repairs it needed, and the driver invited him to
ride along with him.

"Taking in provisions for the troops, I am," he said.  "If you’re going
to Lunnon, you might as well ride along with me.  Eh, Tommy?"

His question was addressed to a sleepy private, who was nodding on the
seat beside the driver.  He started now, and looked at Harry.

"All aboard!" he said, with a sleepy chuckle. "More the merrier, say I!
Up all night–that’s what I’ve been!  Fine sort of war this is!  Do I see
any fightin’?  I do not!  I’m a bloomin’ chaperone for cabbages and
cauliflowers and turnips, bless their little hearts!"

Harry laughed.  It was impossible not to do that. But he knew that if
the soldier wanted fighting, fighting he would get before long.  Harry
could guess that regular troops–and this man was a regular–would not be
kept in England as soon as territorials and volunteers in sufficient
numbers had joined the colors.  But meanwhile guards were necessary at
home.

He told them, in exchange for the ride, of the explosion and the flood
that had probably followed it.

"Bli’me!" said the soldier, surprised.  "Think of that, now!  What will
they be up to next–those Germans?  That’s what I’d like to know!  Coming
over here to England and doing things like that! I’d have the law on
’em–that’s what I’d do!"

Harry laughed.  So blind to the real side of war were men who, at any
moment, might find themselves face to face with the enemy!



CHAPTER V–THE SILENT WIRE


Probably Jack Young and Dick reached the vicarage just about the time
that saw Harry getting into trouble with the police for speeding.  The
vicar was still up; he had a great habit of reading late.  And he seemed
considerably surprised to find that Jack was not upstairs in bed.  At
first he was inclined even to be angry, but he changed his mind when he
saw Dick, and heard something of what had happened.

"Get your friend something to eat and I’ll have them make a hot bath
ready," said the vicar.  "He looks as if he needed both!"

This was strictly true.  Dick was as hungry and as grimy as Harry
himself.  If anything, he was in even worse shape, for his flight
through the fields and the brook had enabled him to attach a good deal
of the soil of England to himself.  So the thick sandwiches and the bowl
of milk that were speedily set before him were severely punished.  And
while he ate both he and Jack poured out their story. Mr. Young frowned
as he listened.  Although he was a clergyman and a lover of peace, he
was none the less a patriot.

"Upon my word!" he said.  "Wireless, you think, my boy?"

"I’m sure of it, sir," said Dick.

"And so’m I," chimed in Jack.  "You know, sir, I’ve thought ever since
war seemed certain that Bray Park would bear a lot of watching and that
something ought to be done.  Just because this is a little bit of a
village, without even a railroad station, people think nothing could
happen here.  But if German spies wanted a headquarters, it’s just the
sort of place they would pick out."

"There’s something in that," agreed the vicar, thoughtfully.  But in his
own mind he was still very doubtful.  The whole thing seemed incredible
to him.  Yet, as a matter of fact, it was no more incredible than the
war itself.  What inclined him to be dubious, as much as anything else,
was the fact that it was mere boys who had made the discovery. He had
read of outbreaks of spy fever in various parts of England, in which the
most harmless and inoffensive people were arrested and held until they
could give some good account of themselves.  This made him hesitate,
while precious time was being wasted.

"I hardly know what to do–what to suggest," he went on, musingly.  "The
situation is complicated, really.  Supposing you are right, and that
German spies really own Bray Park, and are using it as a central station
for sending news that they glean out of England, what could be done
about it?"

"The place ought to be searched at once–everyone there ought to be
arrested!" declared Jack, impulsively.  His father smiled.

"Yes, but who’s going to do it?" he said.  "We’ve just one constable
here in Bray.  And if there are Germans there in any number, what could
he do?  I suppose we might send word to Hambridge and get some police or
some territorials over.  Yes, that’s the best thing to do."

But now Dick spoke up in great eagerness.

"I don’t know, sir," he suggested.  "If the soldiers came, the men in
the house there would find out they were coming, I’m afraid.  Perhaps
they’d get away, or else manage to hide everything that would prove the
truth about them.  I think it would be better to report direct to
Colonel Throckmorton. He knows what we found out near London, sir, you
see, and he’d be more ready to believe us."

"Yes, probably you’re right.  Ring him up, then. It’s late, but he won’t
mind."

What a different story there would have been to tell had someone had
that thought only half an hour earlier!  But it is often so.  The most
trivial miscalculation, the most insignificant mistake, seemingly, may
prove to be of the most vital importance.  Dick went to the telephone.
It was one of the old-fashioned sort, still in almost universal use in
the rural parts of England, that require the use of a bell to call the
central office.  Dick turned the crank, then took down the receiver.  At
once he heard a confused buzzing sound that alarmed him.

"I’m afraid the line is out of order, sir," he said.

And after fifteen minutes it was plain that he was right.  The wire had
either been cut or it had fallen or been short circuited in some other
way.  Dick and Jack looked at one another blankly.  The same thought had
come to each of them, and at the same moment.

"They’ve cut the wires!" said Dick.  "Now what shall we do?  We can’t
hear from Harry, either!"

"We might have guessed they’d do that!" said Jack.  "They must have had
some one out to watch us, Dick–perhaps they thought they’d have a chance
to catch us.  They know that we’ve found out something, you see!  It’s a
good thing we stayed where we could make people hear us if we got into
any trouble."

"Oh, nonsense!" said the vicar, suddenly.  "You boys are letting your
imaginations run away with you!  Things like that don’t happen in
England. The wire is just out of order.  It happens often enough, Jack,
as you know very well!"

"Yes, sir," said Jack, doggedly.  "But that’s in winter, or after a
heavy storm–not in fine weather like this.  I never knew the wire to be
out of order before when it was the way it is now."

"Well, there’s nothing to be done, in any case," said the vicar.  "Be
off to bed, and wait until morning.  There’s nothing you can do now."

Dick looked as if he were about to make some protest, but a glance at
Jack restrained him. Instead he got up, said good-night and followed
Jack upstairs.  There he took his bath, except that he substituted cold
water for the hot, for he could guess what Jack meant to do.  They were
going out again, that was certain.  And, while it is easy to take cold,
especially when one is tired, after a hot bath, there is no such danger
if the water is cold.

"Do you know where the telephone wire runs?" he asked Jack.

"Yes, I do," said Jack.  "I watched the men when they ran the wire in.
There are only three telephones in the village, except for the one at
Bray Park, and that’s a special, private wire.  We have one here, Doctor
Brunt has one, and there’s another in the garage.  They’re all on one
party line, too. We won’t have any trouble in finding out if the wire
was cut, I fancy."

Their chief difficulty lay in getting out of the house.  True, Jack had
not been positively ordered not to go out again, but he knew that if his
father saw him, he would be ordered to stay in.  And he had not the
slightest intention of missing any part of the finest adventure he had
ever had a chance to enjoy–not he!  He was a typical English boy, full
of the love of adventure and excitement for their own sake, even if he
was the son of a clergyman. And now he showed Dick what they would have
to do.

"I used to slip out this way, sometimes," he said. "That was before I
was a scout.  I–well, since I joined, I haven’t done it.  It didn’t seem
right.  But this is different.  Don’t you think so, Dick?"

"I certainly do," said Dick.  "Your pater doesn’t understand, Jack.  He
thinks we’ve just found a mare’s nest, I fancy."

Jack’s route of escape was not a difficult one.  It led to the roof of
the scullery, at the back of the house, and then, by a short and easy
drop of a few feet, to the back garden.  Once they were in that, they
had no trouble.  They could not be heard or seen from the front of the
house, and it was a simple matter of climbing fences until it was safe
to circle back and strike the road in front again.  Jack led the way
until they came to the garage, which was at the end of the village, in
the direction of London. Their course also took them nearer to Bray
Park, but at the time they did not think of this.

"There’s where the wire starts from the garage, d’ye see?" said Jack,
pointing.  "You see how easily we can follow it–it runs along those
poles, right beside the road."

"It seems to be all right here," said Dick.

"Oh, yes.  They wouldn’t have cut it so near the village," said Jack.
"We’ll have to follow it along for a bit, I fancy–a mile or so, perhaps.
Better not talk much, either.  And, I say, hadn’t we better stay in the
shadow?  They must have been watching us before–better not give them
another chance, if we can help it," was Jack’s very wise suggestion.

They had traveled nearly a mile when Dick suddenly noticed that the
telephone wire sagged between two posts.

"I think it has been cut–and that we’re near the place, too," he said
then.  "Look, Jack!  There’s probably a break not far from here."

"Right, oh!" said Jack.  "Now we must be careful.  I’ve just thought,
Dick, that they might have left someone to watch at the place where they
cut the wire."

"Why, Jack?"

"Well, they might have thought we, or someone else, might come along to
find out about it, just as we’re doing.  I’m beginning to think those
beggars are mighty clever, and that if we think of doing anything,
they’re likely to think that we’ll think of it.  They’ve outwitted us at
every point so far."

So now, instead of staying under the hedge, but still in the road, they
crept through a gap in the hedge, tearing their clothes as they did so,
since it was a blackberry row, and went along still in sight of the
poles and the wire, but protected by the hedge so that no one in the
road could see them.

"There!" said Jack, at last.  "See?  You were right, Dick.  There’s the
place–and the wire was cut, too!  It wasn’t an accident.  But I was sure
of that as soon as I found the line wasn’t working."

Sure enough, the wires were dangling.  And there was something else.
Just as they stopped they heard the voices of two men.

"There’s the break, Bill," said the first voice. "Bli’me, if she ain’t
cut, too!  Now who did that? Bringing us out of our beds at this hour to
look for trouble!"

"I’d like to lay my hands on them, that’s all!" said the second voice.
"A good job they didn’t carry the wire away–’twon’t take us long to
repair, and that’s one precious good thing!"

"Linemen," said Jack.  "But I wonder why they’re here?  They must have
come a long way.  I shouldn’t be surprised if they’d ridden on bicycles.
And I never heard of their sending to repair a wire at night before."

"Listen," said Dick.  "Perhaps we will find out."

"Well, now that we’ve found it, we might as well repair it," said the
first lineman, grumblingly.  "All comes of someone trying to get a
message through to Bray and making the manager believe it was a life and
death matter!"

"Harry must have tried to telephone–that’s why they’ve come," said Jack.
"I was wondering how they found out about the break.  You see, as a
rule, no one would try to ring up anyone in Bray after seven o’clock or
so.  And of course, they couldn’t tell we were trying to ring, with the
wire cut like that."

"Oh, Jack!" said Dick, suddenly.  "If they’re linemen, I believe they
have an instrument with them. Probably we could call to London from
here.  Do you think they will let us do that?"

"That’s a good idea.  We’ll try it, anyway," said Jack.  "Come on–it
must be safe enough now. These chaps won’t hurt us."

But Jack was premature in thinking that.  For no sooner did the two
linemen see them than they rushed for them, much to both lads’ surprise.

"You’re the ones that cut that wire," said the first, a dark, young
fellow.  "I’ve a mind to give you a good hiding!"

But they both rushed into explanations, and, luckily, the other lineman
recognized Jack.

"It’s the vicar’s son from Bray, Tom," he said. "Let him alone."

And then, while their attention was distracted, a bullet sang over their
heads.  And "Hands oop!" said a guttural voice.



CHAPTER VI–A TREACHEROUS DEED


Harry Fleming had, of course, given up all hope of catching Graves by a
direct pursuit by the time he accepted the offer of a ride in the motor
truck that was carrying vegetables for the troops in quarters in London.
His only hope now was to get his information to Colonel Throckmorton as
soon as possible.  At the first considerable town they reached, where he
found a telegraph office open, he wired to the colonel, using the code
which he had memorized. The price of a couple of glasses of beer had
induced the driver and the soldier to consent to a slight delay of the
truck, and he tried also to ring up Jack Young’s house and find out what
had happened to Dick.

When he found that the line was out of order he leaped at once to the
same conclusion that Jack and Dick had reached–that it had been cut on
purpose. He could not stay to see if it would be reopened soon. A stroke
of luck came his way, however.  In this place Boy Scouts were guarding
the gas works and an electric light and power plant, and he found one
squad just coming off duty.  He explained something of his errand to the
patrol leader, and got the assurance that the telephone people should be
made to repair the break in the wire.

"We’ll see to it that they find out what is the trouble, Fleming," said
the patrol leader, whose name was Burridge.  "By the way, I know a scout
in your troop–Graves.  He was on a scout with us a few weeks ago, when
he was visiting down here. Seemed to be no end of a good fellow."

Harry was surprised for he had heard nothing of this before.  But then
that was not strange.  He and Graves were not on terms of intimacy, by
any means.  He decided quickly not to say anything against Graves.  It
could do no good and it might do harm.

"Right," he said.  "I know him–yes.  I’ll be going, then.  You’ll give
my message to Mercer or Young if there’s any way of getting the line
clear?"

"Yes, if I sit up until my next turn of duty," said Burridge, with a
smile.  "Good luck, Fleming."

Then Harry was off again.  Dawn was very near now.  The east, behind
him, was already lighted up with streaks of glowing crimson.  Dark
clouds were massed there, and there was a feeling in the air that
carried a foreboding of rain, strengthening the threat of the red sky.
Harry was not sorry for that.  There would be work at Bray Park that
might well fare better were it done under leaden skies.

As he rode he puzzled long and hard over what he had learned.  It seemed
to him that these German spies were taking desperate chances for what
promised to be, at best, a small reward.  What information concerning
the British plans could they get that would be worth all they were
risking?  The wireless at Bray Park; the central station near Willesden,
whence the reports were heliographed–it was an amazingly complete chain.
And Harry knew enough of modern warfare to feel that the information
could be important only to an enemy within striking distance.

That was the point.  It might be interesting to the German staff to know
the locations of British troops in England, and, more especially, their
destinations if they were going abroad as part of an expeditionary force
to France or Belgium.  But the information would not be vital; it didn’t
seem to Harry that it was worth all the risk implied.  But if, on the
other hand, there was some plan for a German invasion of England, then
he would have no difficulty in understanding it.  Then knowledge of
where to strike, of what points were guarded and what were not, would be
invaluable.

"But what a juggins I am!" he said.  "They can’t invade England, even if
they could spare the troops.  Not while the British fleet controls the
sea.  They’d have to fly over."

And in that half laughing expression he got the clue he was looking for.
Fly over!  Why not? Flight was no longer a theory, a possibility of the
future.  It was something definite, that had arrived. Even as he thought
of the possibility he looked up and saw, not more than a mile away, two
monoplanes of a well-known English army type flying low.

"I never thought of that!" he said to himself.

And now that the idea had come to him, he began to work out all sorts of
possibilities.  He thought of a hundred different things that might
happen. He could see, all at once, the usefulness Bray Park might have.
Why, the place was like a volcano!  It might erupt at any minute,
spreading ruin and destruction in all directions.  It was a hostile
fortress, set down in the midst of a country that, even though it was at
war, could not believe that war might come home to it.

He visualized, as the truck kept on its plodding way, the manner in
which warfare might be directed from a center like Bray Park.  Thence
aeroplanes, skillfully fashioned to represent the British ’planes, and
so escape quick detection, might set forth.  They could carry a man or
two, elude guards who thought the air lanes safe, and drop bombs here,
there–everywhere and anywhere.  Perhaps some such aerial raid was
responsible for the explosion that had freed him only a very few hours
before.

Warfare in England, carried on thus by a few men, would be none the less
deadly because it would not involve fighting.  There would be no pitched
battles, that much he knew.  Instead, there would be swift, stabbing
raids.  Water works, gas works, would be blown up.  Attempts would be
made to drop bombs in barracks, perhaps.  Certainly every effort would
be made to destroy the great warehouses in which food was stored.  It
was new, this sort of warfare; it defied the imagination.  And yet it
was the warfare that, once he thought of it, it seemed certain that the
Germans would wage.

He gritted his teeth at the thought of it.  Perhaps all was fair in love
and war, as the old proverb said.  But this seemed like sneaky, unfair
fighting to him.  There was nothing about it of the glory of warfare.
He was learning for himself that modern warfare is an ugly thing.  He
was to learn, later, that it still held its possibilities of glory, and
of heroism.  Indeed, for that matter, he was willing to grant the
heroism of the men who dared these things that seemed to him so
horrible.  They took their lives in their hands, knowing that if they
were caught they would be hung as spies.

The truck was well into London now, and the dawn was full.  A faint
drizzle was beginning to fall and the streets were covered with a fine
film of mud.  People were about, and London was arousing itself to meet
the new day.  Harry knew that he was near his journey’s end.  Tired as
he was, he was determined to make his report before he thought of sleep.
And then, suddenly, around a bend, came a sight that brought Harry to
his feet, scarcely able to believe his eyes.  It was Graves, on a
bicycle.  At the sight of Harry on the truck he stopped.  Then he
turned.

"Here he is!" he cried.  "That’s the one!"

A squad of men on cycles, headed by a young officer, came after Graves.

"Stop!" called the officer to the driver.

Harry stared down, wondering.

"You there–you Boy Scout–come down!" said the officer.

Harry obeyed, wondering still more.  He saw the gleam of malignant
triumph on the face of Graves. But not even the presence of the officer
restrained him.

"Where are those papers you stole from me, you sneak?" he cried.

"You keep away from me!" said Graves.  "You–Yankee!"

"Here, no quarreling!" said the officer.  "Take him, men!"

Two of the soldiers closed in on Harry.  He stared at them and then at
the officer, stupefied.

"What–what’s this?" he stammered.

"You’re under arrest, my lad, on a charge of espionage!" said the
officer.  "Espionage, and conspiracy to give aid and comfort to the
public enemy. Anything you say may be used against you."

For a moment such a rush of words came to Harry that he was silent by
the sheer inability to decide which to utter first.  But then he got
control of himself.

"Who makes this charge against me!" he asked, thickly, his face flushing
scarlet in anger.

"You will find that out in due time, my lad.  Forward–march!"

"But I’ve got important information!  I must be allowed to see Colonel
Throckmorton at once!  Oh, you’ve no idea of how important it may be!"

"My orders are to place you under arrest.  You can make application to
see anyone later.  But now I have no discretion.  Come!  If you really
want to see Colonel Throckmorton, you had better move on."

Harry knew as well as anyone the uselessness of appealing from such an
order, but he was frantic. Realizing the importance of the news he
carried, and beginning to glimpse vaguely the meaning of Graves and his
activity, he was almost beside himself.

"Make Graves there give back the papers he took from me!" he cried.

"I did take some papers, lieutenant," said Graves, with engaging
frankness.  "But they were required to prove what I had suspected almost
from the first–that he was a spy.  He was leading an English scout from
his own patrol into trouble, too.  I suppose he thought he was more
likely to escape suspicion if he was with an Englishman."

"It’s not my affair," said the lieutenant, shrugging his shoulders.  He
turned to Harry.  "Come, my lad.  I hope you can clear yourself.  But
I’ve only one thing to do–and that is to obey my orders."

Harry gave up, then, for the moment.  He turned and began walking along,
a soldier on each side. But as he did so Graves turned to the
lieutenant.

"I’ll go and get my breakfast, then, sir," he said. "I’ll come on to
Ealing later.  Though, of course, they know all I can tell them
already."

"All right," said the officer, indifferently.

"You’re never going to let him go!" exclaimed Harry, aghast.  "Don’t you
know he’ll never come back?"

"All the better for you, if he doesn’t," said the officer.  "That’s
enough of your lip, my lad.  Keep a quiet tongue in your head.  Remember
you’re a prisoner, and don’t try giving orders to me."



CHAPTER VII–THE TRAP


The bullet that sang over their heads effectually broke up the
threatened trouble between Dick Mercer and Jack Young on one side, and
the telephone linemen on the other.  With one accord they obeyed that
guttural order, "Hands oop!"

They had been so interested in one another and in the cut wire that none
of them had noticed the practically noiseless approach of a great grey
motor car, with all lights out, that had stolen up on them.  But now,
with a groan, Dick and Jack both knew it for one of the Bray Park cars.
So, after all, Dick’s flight had been in vain.  He had escaped the
guards of Bray Park once, only to walk straight into this new trap.
And, worst of all, there would be no Jack Young outside to help this
time, for Jack was a captive, too.  Only–he was not!

At the thought Dick had turned, to discover that Jack was not beside
him.  It was very dark, but in a moment he caught the tiniest movement
over by the hedge, and saw a spot a little darker than the rest of the
ground about it.  Jack, he saw at once, had taken the one faint chance
there was, dropped down, and crawled away, trusting that their captors
had not counted their party, and might not miss one boy.

Just in time he slipped through a hole in the hedge.  The next moment
one of the headlights of the grey motor flashed out, almost blinding the
three of them, as they held up their hands.  In its light four men, well
armed with revolvers, were revealed. "Donnerwetter!" said one.  "I made
sure there were four of them!  So!  Vell, it is enough.  Into the car
with them!"

No pretence about this chap!  He was German, and didn’t care who knew
it.  He was unlike the man who had disguised himself as an English
officer, at the house of the heliograph, but had betrayed himself and
set this whole train of adventure going by his single slip and fall from
idiomatic English that Harry Fleming’s sharp ears had caught. Dick, was
thrilled, somehow, even while he was being roughly bundled toward the
motor.  If these fellows were as bold as this, cutting telephone wires,
running about without lights, giving up all secrecy and pretence, it
must mean that the occasion for which they had come was nearly over.  It
must mean that their task, whatever it might be, was nearly
accomplished–the blow they had come to strike was about ready to be
driven home.

"’Ere, who are you a shovin’ off?" complained one of the linemen, as he
was pushed toward the motor.  He made some effort to resist but the next
moment he pitched forward.  One of the Germans had struck him on the
head with the butt of his revolver.  It was a stunning blow, and the man
was certainly silenced.  Dick recoiled angrily from the sight, but he
kept quiet.  He knew he could do no good by interfering.  But the sheer,
unnecessary brutality of it shocked and angered him.  He felt that
Englishmen, or Americans, would not treat a prisoner so–especially one
who had not been fighting.  These men were not even soldiers; they were
spies, which made the act the more outrageous. They were serving their
country, however, for all that, and that softened Dick’s feeling toward
them a little.  True, they were performing their service in a sneaky,
underhanded way that went against his grain.  But it was service, and he
knew that England, too, probably used spies, forced to do so for
self-defence.  He realized the value of the spy’s work, and the courage
that work required.  If these men were captured they would not share the
fate of those surrendering in battle but would be shot, or hung, without
ceremony.

A minute later he was forced into the tonneau of the car, where he lay
curled up on the floor.  Two of the Germans sat in the cushioned seat
while the two linemen, the one who had been hit still unconscious, were
pitched in beside him.  The other two Germans were in front, and the car
began to move at a snail’s pace.  The man beside the driver began
speaking in German; his companion replied. But one of the two behind
interrupted, sharply.

"Speak English, dummer kerl!" he exclaimed, angrily.  "These English
people have not much sense, but if a passerby should hear us speaking
German, he would be suspicious.  Our words he cannot hear and if they
are in English he will think all is well."

"This is one of those we heard of this afternoon," said the driver.
"This Boy Scout.  The other is riding to London–but he will not go so
far."

He laughed at that, and Dick, knowing he was speaking of Harry,
shuddered.

"Ja, that is all arranged," said the leader, with a chuckle.  "Not for
long–that could not be.  But we need only a few hours more.  By this
time tomorrow morning all will be done.  He comes, Von Wedel?"

"We got the word to-night–yes," said the other man.  "All is arranged
for him. Ealing–Houndsditch, first.  There are the soldiers.  Then
Buckingham Palace.  Ah, what a lesson we shall teach these English!
Then the buildings at Whitehall.  We shall strike at the heart of their
empire–the heart and the brains!"

Dick listened, appalled.  Did they think, then, that he, a boy, could
not understand?  Or were they so sure of success that it did not matter?
As a matter of fact, he did not fully understand.  Who was Von Wedel?
What was he going to do when he came?  And how was he coming?

However, it was not the time for speculation. There was the chance that
any moment they might say something he would understand, and, moreover,
if he got away, it was possible that he might repeat what he heard to
those who would be able to make more use of it.

Just then the leader’s foot touched Dick, and he drew away.  The German
looked down at him, and laughed.

"Frightened?" he said.  "We won’t hurt you! What a country!  It sends
its children out against us!"

His manner was kindly enough, and Dick felt himself warming a little to
the big man in spite of himself.

"Listen, boy," said the leader.  "You have seen things that were not for
your eyes.  So you are to be put where knowledge of them will do no
harm–for a few hours.  Then you can go.  But until we have finished our
work, you must be kept.  You shall not be hurt–I say it."

Dick did not answer.  He was thinking hard. He wondered if Jack would
try to rescue him.  They were getting very near Bray Park, he felt, and
he thought that, once inside, neither Jack nor anyone else could get him
out until these men who had captured him were willing.  Then the car
stopped suddenly.  Dick saw that they were outside a little house.

"Get out," said the leader.

Dick and the telephone man who had not been hurt obeyed; the other
lineman was lifted out, more considerately this time.

"Inside!" said the German with the thick, guttural voice.  He pointed to
the open door, and they went inside.  One of the Germans followed them,
and stood in the open door.

"Werner, you are responsible for the prisoners, especially the boy,"
said the leader.  "See that none of them escape.  You will be relieved
at the proper time.  You understand?"

"Ja, Herr Ritter!" said the man.  "Zu befehl!"

He saluted, and for the first time Dick had the feeling that this
strange procedure was, in some sense, military, even though there were
no uniforms. Then the door shut, and they were left in the house.

It was just outside of Bray Park–he remembered it now.  A tiny box of a
place it was, too, but solidly built of stone.  It might have been used
as a tool house.  There was one window; that and the door were the only
means of egress.  The German looked hard at the window and laughed.
Dick saw then that it was barred.  To get out that way, even if he had
the chance, would be impossible. And the guard evidently decided that.
He lay down across the door.

"So!" he said.  "I shall sleep–but with one ear open!  You cannot get
out except across me.  And I am a light sleeper!"

Dick sat there, pondering wretchedly.  The man who had been struck on
the head was breathing stertorously.  His companion soon dropped off to
sleep, like the German, so that Dick was the only one awake.  Through
the window, presently, came the herald of the dawn, the slowly advancing
light.  And suddenly Dick saw a shadow against the light, looked up
intently, and saw that it was Jack Young. Jack pointed.  Dick, not quite
understanding, moved to the spot at which he pointed.

"Stay there!" said Jack, soundlessly.  His lips formed the words but he
did not utter them.  He nodded up and down vehemently, however, and Dick
understood him, and that he was to stay where he was.  He nodded in
return, and settled down in his new position.  And then Jack dropped out
of sight.

For a long time, while the dawn waxed and the light through the window
grew stronger, Dick sat there wondering.  Only the breathing of the
three men disturbed the quiet of the little hut.  But then, from behind
him, he grew conscious of a faint noise. Not quite a noise, either; it
was more a vibration. He felt the earthen floor of the hut trembling
beneath him.  And then at last he understood.

He had nearly an hour still to wait.  But at last the earth cracked and
yawned where he had been sitting.  He heard a faint whisper.

"Dig it out a little–there’s a big hole underneath. You can squirm your
way through.  I’m going to back out now."

Dick obeyed, and a moment later he was working his way down, head first,
through the tunnel Jack had dug from the outside.  He was small and
slight and he got through, somehow, though he was short of breath and
dirtier than he had ever been in his life when at last he was able to
straighten up–free.

"Come on!" cried Jack.  "We’ve no time to lose. I’ve got a couple of
bicycles here.  We’d better run for it."

Run for it they did, but there was no alarm. Behind them was the hut,
quiet and peaceful.  And beyond the hut was the menace of Bray Park and
the mysteries of which the Germans had spoken in the great grey motor
car.



CHAPTER VIII–A DARING RUSE


Harry, furious as he was when he saw Graves allowed to go off after the
false accusation that had caused his arrest, was still able to control
himself sufficiently to think.  He was beginning to see the whole plot
now, or to think he saw it.  He remembered things that had seemed
trivial at the time of their occurrence, but that loomed up importantly
now.  And one of the first things he realized was that he was probably
in no great danger, that the charge against him had not been made with
the serious idea of securing his conviction, but simply to cause his
detention for a little while, and to discredit any information he might
have.

He could no longer doubt that Graves was in league with the spies on
whose trail he and Dick had fallen.  And he understood that, if he kept
quiet, all would soon be all right for him.  But if he did that, the
plans of the Germans would succeed.  He had seen already an example of
what they could do, in the destruction of the water works.  And it
seemed to him that it would be a poor thing to fail in what he had
undertaken simply to save himself.  As soon as he reached that
conclusion he knew what he must do, or, at all events, what he must try
to do.

For the officer who had arrested him he felt a good deal of contempt.
While it was true that orders had to be obeyed, there was no reason,
Harry felt, why the lieutenant should not have shown some discretion.
An officer of the regular army would have done so, he felt.  But this
man looked unintelligent and stupid.  Harry felt that he might safely
rely on his appearance.  And he was right.  The officer found himself in
a quandary at once.  His men were mounted on cycles; Harry was on foot.
And Harry saw that he didn’t quite know what to do.

Finally he cut the Gordian knot, as it seemed to him, by impounding a
bicycle from a passing wheelman, who protested vigorously but in vain.
All he got for his cycle was a scrap of paper, stating that it had been
requisitioned for army use.  And Harry was instructed to mount this
machine and ride along between two of the territorial soldiers.  He had
been hoping for something like that, but had hardly dared to expect it.
He had fully made up his mind now to take all the risks he would run by
trying to escape. He could not get clear away, that much he knew. But
now he, too, like Graves, needed a little time. He did not mind being
recaptured in a short time if, in the meanwhile, he could be free to do
what he wanted.

As to just how he would try to get away, he did not try to plan.  He
felt that somewhere along the route some chance would present itself,
and that it would be better to trust to that than to make some plan.  He
was ordered to the front of the squad–so that a better eye could be kept
upon him, as the lieutenant put it.  Harry had irritated him by his
attempts to cause a change in the disposition of Graves and himself, and
the officer gave the impression now that he regarded Harry as a
desperate criminal, already tried and convicted.

Harry counted upon the traffic, sure to increase as it grew later, to
give him his chance.  Something accidental, he knew, there must be, or
he would not be able to get away.  And it was not long before his chance
came.  As they crossed a wide street there was a sudden outburst of
shouting.  A runaway horse, dragging a delivery cart, came rushing down
on the squad, and in a moment it was broken up and confused.  Harry
seized the chance.  His bicycle, by a lucky chance, was a high geared
machine and before anyone knew he had gone he had turned a corner.  In a
moment he threw himself off the machine, dragged it into a shop, ran
out, and in a moment dashed into another shop, crowded with customers.
And there for a moment, he stayed. There was a hue and cry outside.  He
saw uniformed men, on bicycles, dashing by.  He even rushed to the door
with the crowd in the shop to see what was amiss!  And, when the chase
had passed, he walked out, very calmly, though his heart was in his
mouth, and quite unmolested got aboard a passing tram car.

He was counting on the stupidity and lack of imagination of the
lieutenant, and his course was hardly as bold as it seems.  As a matter
of fact it was his one chance to escape.  He knew what the officer would
think–that, being in flight, he would try to get away as quickly as
possible from the scene of his escape.  And so, by staying there, he was
in the one place where no one would think of looking for him!

On the tram car he was fairly safe.  It happened, fortunately, that he
had plenty of money with him. And his first move, when he felt it was
safe, was to get off the tram and look for a cab.  He found a taxicab in
a short time, one of those that had escaped requisition by the
government, and in this he drove to an outfitting shop, where he bought
new clothes. He reasoned that he would be looked for all over, and that
if, instead of appearing as a Boy Scout in character dress of the
organization, he was in the ordinary clothes, he would have a better
chance. He managed the change easily, and then felt that it was safe for
him to try to get into communication with Dick.

In this attempt luck was with him again.  He called for the number of
the vicarage at Bray, only to find that the call was interrupted again
at the nearest telephone center.  But this time he was asked to wait,
and in a moment he heard Jack Young’s voice in his ear.

"We came over to explain about the wire’s being cut," said Jack.
"Dick’s all right.  He’s here with me.  Where are you?  We’ve got to see
you just as soon as we can."

"In London, but I’m coming down.  I’m going to try to get a motor car,
too.  I’m in a lot of trouble, Jack–it’s Graves."

"Come on down.  We’ll walk out along the road toward London and meet
you.  We’ve got a lot to tell you, but I’m afraid to talk about it over
the telephone."

"All right!  I’ll keep my eyes open for you."

Getting a motor car was not easy.  A great many had been taken by the
government.  But Harry remembered that one was owned by a business
friend of his father’s, an American, and this, with some difficulty, he
managed to borrow.  He was known as a careful driver.  He had learned to
drive his father’s car at home, and Mr. Armstrong knew it.  And so, when
Harry explained that it was a matter of the greatest urgency, he got
it–since he had established a reputation for honor that made Mr.
Armstrong understand that when Harry said a thing was urgent, urgent it
must be.

Getting out of London was easy.  If a search was being made for him–and
he had no doubt that that was true–he found no evidence of it.  His
change of clothes was probably what saved him, for it altered his
appearance greatly.  So he came near to Bray, and finally met his two
friends.



CHAPTER IX–THE CIPHER


"What happened to you?" asked Jack and Dick in chorus.

Swiftly Harry explained.  He told of his arrest as a spy and of his
escape.  And when he mentioned the part that Ernest Graves had played in
the affair, Jack and Dick looked at one another.

"We were afraid of something like that," said Jack.  "Harry, we’ve found
out a lot of things, and we don’t know what they mean!  We’re sure
something dreadful is going to happen to-night.  And we’re sure, too,
that Bray Park is going to be the centre of the trouble."

"Tell me what you know," said Harry, crisply. "Then we’ll put two and
two together.  I say, Jack, we don’t want to be seen, you know.  Isn’t
there some side road that doesn’t lead anywhere, where I can run in with
the car while we talk?"

"Yes.  There’s a place about a quarter of a mile further on that will do
splendidly," he replied.

"All right.  Lead the way!  Tell me when we come to it.  I’ve just
thought of something else I ought never to have forgotten.  At least, I
thought of it when I took the things out of my pockets while I was
changing my clothes."

They soon came to the turning Jack had thought of, and a run of a few
hundred yards took them entirely out of sight of the main road, and to a
place where they were able to feel fairly sure of not being molested.

Then they exchanged stories.  Harry told his first.  Then he heard of
Dick’s escape, and of his meeting with Jack.  He nodded at the story
they had heard from Gaffer Hodge.

"That accounts for how Graves knew," he said, with much satisfaction.
"What happened then?"

When he heard of how they had thought too late of calling Colonel
Throckmorton by telephone he sighed.

"If you’d only got that message through before Graves got in his work!"
he said.  "He’d have had to believe you then, of course.  How unlucky!"

"I know," said Jack.  "We were frightfully sorry. And then we went out
to find where the wire was cut, and they got Dick.  But I got away, and
I managed to stay fairly close to them.  I followed them when they left
Dick in a little stone house, as a prisoner, and I heard this–I heard
them talking about getting a big supply of petrol.  Now what on earth do
they want petrol for?  They said there would still be plenty left for
the automobiles–and then that they wouldn’t need the cars any more,
anyhow!  What on earth do you make of that, Harry?"

"Tell me the rest, then I’ll tell you what I think," said Harry.  "How
did you get Dick out?  And did you hear them saying anything that
sounded as if it might be useful, Dick?"

"That was fine work!" he said, when he had heard a description of Dick’s
rescue.  "Jack, you seem to be around every time one of us gets into
trouble and needs help!"

Then Dick told of the things he had overheard–the mysterious references
to Von Wedel and to things that were to be done to the barracks at
Ealing and Houndsditch.  Harry got out a pencil and paper then, and made
a careful note of every name that Dick mentioned.  Then he took a paper
from his pocket.

"Remember this, Dick?" he asked.  "It’s the thing I spoke of that I
forgot until I came across it in my pocket this morning."

"What is it, Harry?"

"Don’t you remember that we watched them heliographing some messages,
and put down the Morse signs?  Here they are.  Now the thing to do is to
see if we can’t work out the meaning of the code. If it’s a code that
uses words for phrases we’re probably stuck, but I think it’s more
likely to depend on inversions."

"What do you mean, Harry?" asked Jack.  "I’m sorry I don’t know anything
about codes and ciphers."

"Why, there are two main sorts of codes, Jack, and, of course, thousands
of variations of each of those principal kinds.  In one kind the idea is
to save words–in telegraphing or cabling.  So the things that are likely
to be said are represented by one word.  For instance _Coal_, in a
mining code, might mean ’Struck vein at two hundred feet level.’  In the
other sort of code, the letters are changed. That is done in all sorts
of ways, and there are various tricks.  The way to get at nearly all of
them is to find out which letter or number or symbol is used most often,
and to remember that in an ordinary letter E will appear almost twice as
often as any other letter–in English, that is."

"But won’t this be in German?"

"Yes.  That’s just why I wanted those names Dick heard.  They are likely
to appear in any message that was sent.  So, if we can find words that
correspond in length to those, we may be able to work it out.  Here
goes, anyhow!"

For a long time Harry puzzled over the message. He transcribed the Morse
symbols first into English letters and found they made a hopeless and
confused jumble, as he had expected.  The key of the letter E was
useless, as he had also expected.  But finally, by making himself think
in German, he began to see a light ahead.  And after an hour’s hard work
he gave a cry of exultation.

"I believe I’ve got it!" he cried.  "Listen and see if this doesn’t
sound reasonable!"

"Go ahead!" said Jack and Dick, eagerly.

"Here it is," said Harry.  "’Petrol just arranged. Supply on way.  Reach
Bray Friday.  Von Wedel may come.  Red light markers arranged.  Ealing
Houndsditch Buckingham Admiralty War Office.  Closing.’"

They stared at him, mystified.

"I suppose it does make sense," said Dick.  "But what on earth does it
mean, Harry?"

"Oh, can’t you see?" cried Harry.  "Von Wedel is a commander of some
sort–that’s plain, isn’t it? And he’s to carry out a raid, destroying or
attacking the places that are mentioned!  How can he do that?  He can’t
be a naval commander.  He can’t be going to lead troops, because we know
they can’t land.  Then how can he get here?  And why should he need
petrol?"

They stared at him blankly.  Then, suddenly, Dick understood.

"He’ll come through the air!" he cried.

"Yes, in one of their big Zeppelins!" said Harry. "I suppose she has
been cruising off the coast.  She’s served as a wireless relay station,
too.  The plant here at Bray Park could reach her, and she could relay
the messages on across the North Sea, to Heligoland or Wilhelmshaven.
She’s waited until everything was ready."

"That’s what they mean by the red light markers, then?"

"Yes.  They could be on the roofs of houses, and masked, so that they
wouldn’t be seen except from overhead.  They’d be in certain fixed
positions, and the men on the Zeppelins would be able to calculate their
aim, and drop their bombs so many degrees to the left or the right of
the red marking lights."

"But we’ve got aeroplanes flying about, haven’t we?" said Jack.
"Wouldn’t they see those lights and wonder about them?"

"Yes, if they were showing all the time.  But you can depend on it that
these Germans have provided for all that.  They will have arranged for
the Zeppelin to be above the positions, as near as they can guess them,
at certain times–and the lights will only be shown at those times, and
then only for a few seconds.  Even if someone else sees them, you see,
there won’t be time to do anything."

"You must be right, Harry!" said Jack, nervously. "There’s no other way
to explain that message. How are we going to stop them?"

"I don’t know yet, but we’ll have to work out some way of doing it.  It
would be terrible for us to know what had been planned and still not be
able to stop them!  I wish I knew where Graves was.  I’d like–"

He stopped, thinking hard.

"What good would that do?"

"Oh, I don’t want him–not just now.  But I don’t want him to see me just
at present.  I want to know where he is so that I can avoid him."

"Suppose I scout into Bray?" suggested Jack.  "I can find out something
that might be useful, perhaps. If any of them from Bray Park have come
into the village to-day I’ll hear about it."

"That’s a good idea.  Suppose you do that, Jack. I don’t know just what
I’ll do yet.  But if I go away from here before you come back, Dick will
stay. I’ve got to think–there must be some way to beat them!"



CHAPTER X–A CAPTURE FROM THE SKIES


Jack went off to see what he could discover, and Harry, left behind with
Dick, racked his brain for some means of blocking the plan he was so
sure the Germans had made.  He was furious at Graves, who had
discredited him with Colonel Throckmorton, as he believed.  He minded
the personal unpleasantness involved far less than the thought that his
usefulness was blocked, for he felt that no information he might bring
would be received now.

As he looked around it seemed incredible that such things as he was
trying to prevent could even be imagined.  After the early rain, the day
had cleared up warm and lovely, and it was now that most perfect of
things, a beautiful summer day in England. The little road they had
taken was a sort of blind alley.  It had brought them to a meadow,
whence the hay had already been cut.  At the far side of this ran a
little brook, and all about them were trees. Except for the calls of
birds, and the ceaseless hum of insects, there was no sound to break the
stillness. It was a scene of peaceful beauty that could not be surpassed
anywhere in the world.  And yet, only a few miles away, at the most,
were men who were planning deliberately to bring death and destruction
upon helpless enemies–to rain down death from the skies.

By very contrast to the idyllic peace of all about them, the terrors of
war seemed more dreadful. That men who went to war should be killed and
wounded, bad though it was, still seemed legitimate. But this driving
home of an attack upon a city all unprepared, upon the many
non-combatants who would be bound to suffer, was another and more
dreadful thing.  Harry could understand that it was war, that it was
permissible to do what these Germans planned.  And yet–

His thoughts were interrupted by a sudden change in the quality of the
noisy silence that the insects made.  Just before he noticed it, half a
dozen bees had been humming near him.  Now he heard something that
sounded like the humming of a far vaster bee.  Suddenly it stopped, and,
as it did, he looked up, his eyes as well as Dick’s being drawn upward
at the same moment.  And they saw, high above them, an aeroplane with
dun colored wings.  Its engine had stopped and it was descending now in
a beautiful series of volplaning curves.

"Out of essence–he’s got to come down," said Harry, appraisingly, to
Dick.  "He’ll manage it all right, too.  He knows his business through
and through, that chap."

"I wonder where he’ll land," speculated Dick.

"He’s got to pick an open space, of course," said Harry.  "And there
aren’t so many of them around here.  By Jove!"

"Look!  He’s certainly coming down fast!" exclaimed Dick.

"Yes–and, I say, I think he’s heading for this meadow!  Come on–start
that motor, Dick!"

"Why?  Don’t you want him to see us?"

"I don’t mind him seeing us–I don’t want him to see the car," explained
Harry.  "We’ll run it around that bend, out of sight from the meadow."

"Why shouldn’t he see it?"

"Because if he’s out of petrol he’ll want to take all we’ve got and we
may not want him to have it. We don’t know who he is, yet."

The car was moving as Harry explained.  As soon as the meadow was out of
sight Harry stopped the engine and got out of the car.

"He may have seen it as he was coming down–the car, I mean," he said.
"But I doubt it.  He’s got other things to watch.  That meadow for
one–and all his levers and his wheel.  Guiding an aeroplane in a coast
like that down the air is no easy job."

"Have you ever been up, Harry?"

"Yes, often.  I’ve never driven one myself, but I believe I could if I
had to.  I’ve watched other people handle them so often that I know just
about everything that has to be done."

"That’s an English monoplane.  I’ve seen them ever so often," said Dick.
"It’s an army machine, I mean.  See its number?  It’s just coming in
sight of us now.  Wouldn’t I like to fly her though?"

"I’d like to know what it’s doing around here," said Harry.  "And it
seems funny to me if an English army aviator has started out without
enough petrol in his tank to see him through any flight he might be
making.  And wouldn’t he have headed for one of his supply stations as
soon as he found he was running short, instead of coming down in country
like this?"

Dick stared at him.

"Do you think it’s another spy?" he asked.

"I don’t think anything about it yet, Dick.  But I’m not going to be
caught napping.  That’s a Bleriot–and the British army flying corps uses
Bleriots.  But anyone with the money can buy one and make it look like
an English army ’plane. Remember that."

There was no mistake about that monoplane when it was once down.  Its
pilot was German; he was unmistakably so.  He had been flying very high
and when he landed he was still stiff from cold.

"Petrol!" he cried eagerly, as he saw the two boys, "Where can I get
petrol?  Quick!  Answer me!"

Harry shot a quick glance at Dick.

"Come on," he said, beneath his breath.  "We’ve got to get him and tie
him up."

The aviator, cramped and stiffened as he was by the intense cold that
prevails in the high levels where he had been flying, was no match for
them.  As they sprang at him his face took on the most ludicrous
appearance of utter surprise.  Had he suspected that they would attack
him he might have drawn a pistol.  As it was, he was helpless before the
two boys, both in the pink of condition and determined to capture him.
He made a struggle, but in two minutes he was lying roped, tied, and
utterly helpless. He was not silent; he breathed the most fearful
threats as to what would happen to them.  But neither boy paid any
attention to him.

"We’ve got to get him to the car," said Harry. "Can we drag him?"

"Yes.  But if we loosened his feet a little, he could walk," suggested
Dick.  "That would be ever so much easier for him, and for us, too.  I
should hate to be dragged.  Let’s make him walk."

"Right–and a good idea!" said Harry.  He loosened the ropes about the
aviator’s feet, and helped him to stand.

"March!" he said.  "Don’t try to get away–I’ve got a leading rope, you
see."

He did have a loose end of rope, left over from a knot, and with this he
proceeded to lead the enraged German to the automobile.  It looked for
all the world as if he were leading a dog, and for a moment Dick doubled
up in helpless laughter.  The whole episode had its comic side, but it
was serious, too.

"Now we’ve got to draw off the gasoline in the tank in this bucket,"
said Harry.  The German had been bestowed in the tonneau, and made as
comfortable as possible with rugs and cushions.  His feet were securely
tied again, and there was no chance for him to escape.

"What are you going to do?" asked Dick.  "Are you going to try to fly in
that machine?"

"I don’t know, yet.  But I’m going to have it ready, so that I can if I
need to," said Harry. "That Bleriot may be the saving of us yet, Dick.
There’s no telling what we shall have to do."

Even as he spoke Harry was making new plans, rendered possible by this
gift from the skies.  He was beginning, at last, to see a way to
circumvent the Germans.  What he had in mind was risky, certainly, and
might prove perilous in the extreme. But he did not let that aspect of
the situation worry him.  His one concern was to foil the terrible plan
that the Germans had made, and he was willing to run any risk that would
help him to do so.

"That Zeppelin is coming here to Bray Park–it’s going to land here,"
said Harry.  "And if it ever gets away from here there will be no way of
stopping it from doing all the damage they have planned, or most of it.
Thanks to Graves, we wouldn’t be believed if we told what we knew–we’d
probably just be put in the guard house.  So we’ve got to try to stop it
ourselves."

They had reached the Bleriot by that time.  Harry filled the tank, and
looked at the motor.  Then he sat in the driver’s seat and practiced
with the levers, until he decided that he understood them thoroughly.
And, as he did this, he made his decision.

"I’m going into Bray Park to-night," he said "This is the only way to
get in."

"And I’m going with you," announced Dick.



CHAPTER XI–VINDICATION


At first Harry refused absolutely to consent to Dick’s accompanying him,
but after a long argument he was forced to yield.

"Why should you take all the risks when it isn’t your own country,
especially?" asked Dick, almost sobbing.  "I’ve got a right to go!  And,
besides, you may need me."

That was true enough, as Harry realized.  Moreover, he had been
investigating the Bleriot, and he discovered that it was one of a new
safety type, with a gyroscope device to insure stability.  The day was
almost without wind, and therefore it seemed that if such an excursion
could ever be safe, this was the time.  He consented in the end, and
later he was to be thankful that he had.

Once the decision was taken, they waited impatiently for the return of
Jack Young.  Harry foresaw protests from Jack when he found out what
they meant to do, but for him there was an easy answer–there was room in
the aeroplane for only two people, and there was no way of carrying an
extra passenger.

It was nearly dusk when Jack returned, and he had the forethought to
bring a basket of food with him–cold chicken, bread and butter, and
milk, as well as some fruit.

"I didn’t find out very much," he said, "except this.  Someone from
London has been asking about you both.  And this much more–at least a
dozen people have come down to Bray Park to-day from London."

"Did you see any sign of soldiers from London?"

"No," said Jack.

He was disappointed when he found out what they meant to do, but he took
his disappointment pluckily when he saw that there was no help for it.
Harry explained very quietly to both Jack and Dick what he meant to do
and they listened, open mouthed, with wonder.

"You’ll have your part to play, Jack," said Harry. "Somehow I can’t
believe that the letter I wrote to Colonel Throckmorton last night won’t
have some effect.  You have got to scout around in case anyone comes and
tell them all I’ve told you.  You understand thoroughly, do you?"

"Yes," said Jack, quietly.  "When are you going to start?"

"There’s no use going up much before eleven o’clock," said Harry.
"Before that we’d be seen, and, besides, if a Zeppelin is coming, it
wouldn’t be until after that.  My plan is to scout to the east and try
to pick her up and watch her descend.  I think I know just about where
she’ll land–the only place where there’s room for her.  And then–"

He stopped, and the others nodded, grimly.

"I imagine she’ll have about a hundred and twenty miles to travel in a
straight line–perhaps a little less," said Harry.  "She can make that in
about two hours, or less.  And she’ll travel without lights, and in the
dark.  Big as they are, those airships are painted so that they’re
almost invisible from below. So if she comes by night, getting here
won’t be as hard a job as it seems at first thought."

Then the three of them went over in every detail the plan Harry had
formed.  Dick and Harry took their places in the monoplane and rehearsed
every movement they would have to make.

"I can’t think of anything else that we can provide for now," said
Harry, at last.  "Of course, we can’t tell what will come up, and it
would be wonderful if everything came out just as we had planned. But
we’ve provided for everything we can think of. You know where you are to
be, Jack?"

"Yes."

"Then you’d better start pretty soon.  Good-bye, Jack!"  He held out his
hand.  "We could never have worked this out without you.  If we succeed
you’ll have had a big part in what we’ve done."

A little later Jack said good-bye in earnest, and then there was nothing
to do but wait.  About them the voices of the insects and frogs changed,
with the darkening night.  The stars came out, but the night was a dark
one.  Harry looked at his watch from time to time and at last he got up.

"Time to start!" he said.

He felt a thrill of nervousness as the monoplane rose in the air.  After
all, there was a difference between being the pilot and sitting still in
the car.  But he managed very well, after a few anxious moments in the
ascent.  And once they were clear of the trees and climbing swiftly, in
great spirals, there was a glorious sensation of freedom.  Dick caught
his breath at first, then he got used to the queer motion, and cried
aloud in his delight.

Harry headed straight into the east when he felt that he was high
enough.  And suddenly he gave a cry.

"Look!" he shouted in Dick’s ear.  "We didn’t start a moment too soon.
See her–that great big cigar-shaped thing, dropping over there?"

It was the Zeppelin–the battleship of the air. She was dipping down,
descending gracefully, over Bray Park.

"I was right!" cried Harry.  "Now we can go to work at once–we won’t
have to land and wait!"

He rose still higher, then flew straight for Bray Park.  They were high,
but, far below, with lights moving about her, they could see the huge
bulk of the airship, as long as a moderate sized ocean liner. She
presented a perfect target.

"Now!" said Harry.

And at once Dick began dropping projectiles they had found in the
aeroplane–sharply pointed shells of steel.  Harry had examined these–he
found they were really solid steel shot, cast like modern rifle bullets,
and calculated to penetrate, even without explosive action, when dropped
from a height.

From the first two that Dick dropped there was no result.  But with the
falling of the third a hissing sound came from below, and as Dick
rapidly dropped three more the noise increased.  And they could see the
lights flying–plainly the men were running from the monster.  Its bulk
lessened as the gas escaped from the great bag and then, in a moment
more, there was a terrific explosion that rocked the monoplane
violently.  Had Harry not been ready for it, they might have been
brought down, But he had been prepared, and was flying away. Down below
there was now a great glare from the burning wreckage, lighting up the
whole scene.  And suddenly there was a sharp breaking out of rifle fire.
At first he thought the men below had seen them, and were firing upward.
But in a moment he saw the truth.  Bray Park had been attacked from
outside!

Even before they reached the ground, in the meadow where Harry and Jack
had emerged from the tunnel, the firing was over.  But now a searchlight
was playing on the ground on the opposite bank, and Harry and Dick saw,
to their wonder and delight, that the ground swarmed with khaki-clad
soldiers.  In the same moment Jack ran up to them.

"The soldiers had the place surrounded!" he cried, exultingly.  "They
must have believed your letter after all, Harry!  Come on–there’s a boat
here!  Aren’t you coming over?"

They were rowing for the other shore before the words were well spoken.
And, once over, they were seized at once by two soldiers.

"More of them," said one of the soldiers. "Where’s the colonel?"

Without trying to explain, they let themselves be taken to where Colonel
Throckmorton stood near the burning wreckage.  At the sight of Harry his
face lighted up.

"What do you know about this?" he asked, sternly, pointing to the
wrecked airship.

Harry explained in a few words.

"Very good," said the colonel.  "You are under arrest–you broke arrest
this morning.  I suppose you know that is a serious offence, whether
your original arrest was justified or not?"

"I felt I had to do it, sir," said Harry.  He had caught the glint of a
smile in the colonel’s eyes.

"Explain yourself, sir," said the colonel. "Report fully as to your
movements to-day.  Perhaps I shall recommend you for a medal instead of
court martialling you, after all."

And so the story came out, and Harry learned that the colonel had never
believed Graves, but had chosen to let him think he did.

"The boy Graves is a German, and older than he seems," said the colonel.
"He was here as a spy.  He is in custody now, and you have broken up a
dangerous raid and a still more dangerous system of espionage.  If you
hadn’t come along with your aeroplane, we would never have stopped the
raid. I had ordered aviators to be here, but it is plain that something
has gone wrong.  You have done more than well.  I shall see to it that
your services are properly recognized.  And now be off with you, and get
some sleep.  You may report to me the day after to-morrow!"





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