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Title: Army Boys on German Soil: Our Doughboys Quelling the Mobs
Author: Randall, Homer
Language: English
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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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Army Boys on German Soil

[Illustration: "One move and I'll blow your brains out," he


Our Doughboys Quelling the Mobs



































"I tell you, Bart, I don't like the looks of things," remarked
Frank Sheldon to his chum, Bart Raymond, as the two stood on a
corner in the German city of Coblenz on the Rhine.

"What's on your mind?" inquired Bart, as he drew the collar of his
raincoat more snugly around his neck and turned his back to the
sleet-laden wind that was fairly blowing a gale. "I don't see
anything to get stirred up about except this abominable weather.
It's all I can do to keep my feet."

"It is a pretty tough night to be out on patrol duty," agreed
Frank. "But it wasn't that I was thinking about. It's the way
these Huns have been acting lately."

"Are you thinking of that sergeant of ours that was found stabbed
to death the other night?" asked Bart, with quickened interest.

"Not so much that," replied Frank, "although that's one of the
things that shows the way the wind is blowing. But it's the surly
way the whole population is acting. Haven't you noticed it?"

"There certainly is a difference," admitted Bart. "Everything was
peaches and cream when we first came. The people fairly fell over
themselves in trying to tell us how glad they were to have the
Americans here instead of the French and English. Now they're
getting chesty again. A couple of fellows passed me a little while
ago who looked at me as if they'd like to slip a knife into me if
they dared."

"They hate us all right," declared Frank. "It makes them sore as
the mischief to have Americans keeping the watch on the Rhine.
They're mad enough to bite nails every time they're reminded of

"And that's pretty often," laughed Bart, "for they can't go out
into the street without seeing an American uniform somewhere.
We've got this old town pretty well policed, and if any trouble
starts we'll put it down in a jiffy."

"Well, trouble's coming all right," prophesied Frank. "There are
lots of new faces in the city, fellows who seem to have come from
the outside. You know Germany's being ripped up the back
everywhere by mobs, and the red flag is flying in Berlin. I have a
hunch that these outsiders have come to start the same thing

"If they do they'll get more than they bargained for," said Bart
grimly. "They'll find they're monkeying with a buzz saw. What our
fellows would do to them would be a sin and a shame. But here come
Tom and Billy, if I'm any sort of a guesser."

"Right you are," replied Frank, as he descried two uniformed
figures approaching, their heads bent away from the icy gale which
was increasing in fury as the night wore on.

"Hello, fellows," was the greeting that came from one of the
newcomers, as they came into the flickering light of the street
lamp, near which Frank Sheldon and Bart Raymond were standing.
"This is a dandy night to be out patrolling--I don't think."

"A good night for ducks, Tom," replied Frank with a laugh.

"For polar bears, if you ask me," put in Billy Waldon, Tom's
companion, as he shook the drops from his raincoat. "How would it
be to be back in the barracks just now lapping up a smoking hot
cup of coffee? Oh, boy!"

"It wouldn't be bad--" Bart was beginning, when suddenly a rifle
cracked and a bullet whizzed by so close that it nearly grazed Tom
Bradford's ear.

"Shelter, fellows!" shouted Frank, as he leaped for an adjacent

His companions followed him quickly, and crouching in the hall,
they peered out into the darkness to see if they could detect the
whereabouts of the would-be assassin.

But everything was quiet except for the roaring of the gale, and
the street seemed to be empty.

"Might as well look for a needle in a haystack," muttered Tom
Bradford. "We don't even know the direction from which the shot
came. You can bet that skunk made tracks as soon as he fired."

"It was a mighty close call for you, Tom," remarked Billy. "A half
inch closer and you would have been a goner."

"It would have been hard luck to have been laid out now after
having come through that Argonne fighting alive," grumbled Tom.
"I'd just like to have my hands right now on the cowardly Heinie
who tried to snuff me out."

"Don't you see, Bart, that I was right when I told you that
trouble was brewing?" remarked Frank.

"I guess you were, old man."

"It's because we've been too confoundedly easy with these
fellows," snorted Billy wrathfully. "We've gone on the theory that
if we treated 'em white and gave 'em a square deal they'd
appreciate it and behave themselves. We might have known better."

"The French and English know these ginks better than we do, and
they've put the boots into them from the start," growled Tom.
"There's been no namby-pamby dealing with the Huns in the bridge-
heads where they've held control. They've made the Boches walk
Spanish. If they didn't uncover when the flag went by, they
knocked their hats off for them. They know that the only argument
that a Hun understands is force, and they've gone on that theory
right along. And as a consequence the Heinies don't dare to peep
in the districts where the French and English run things. We ought
to take a leaf from their books and do the same."

"That's our good-natured American way of doing things," said Bart.
"But we're due to stiffen up a bit now. We're not going to stand
for attempts to murder in cold blood--"

He was interrupted by an exclamation from Frank.

"Quiet, fellows," he adjured in a low voice.

"See anything?" whispered Bart, who was nearest him.

"I thought I caught a glimpse of a fellow stealing into that alley
half-way down the block," returned Frank. "And there goes another
one," he added, with a trace of excitement in his voice.

"I was looking that way and I didn't see anything," murmured Billy
Waldon rather incredulously.

"I'd bank on Frank," returned Bart. "He has the best eyes of any
of us. They're regular telescopes."

"There goes another!" exclaimed Frank tensely. "There's something
doing there, sure as guns!"

"I know that alley," said Tom Bradford. "I've often looked into it
when I passed it on my beat. But it's a blind alley and doesn't
lead to any thing. It ends at a brick wall."

"All the better chance to bag them," replied Frank. "We'll wait
just a minute longer to see If any one else goes in, and then
we'll go down and nip the whole bunch. It's against regulations
for them to be on the streets at this hour, and you can bet
they're up to no good."

"I only hope the fellow's among them that fired that shot,"
murmured Tom vengefully.

They waited a moment or two longer, but Frank Sheldon's eyes
detected no other skulking figure and he gave the word to move.

"Have your clubs and pistols ready, but don't use the guns unless
you have to," he ordered, for when the Army Boys were together the
leadership by common consent devolved on Frank. "I guess the clubs
will do the business if it comes to any resistance on their part."

"Fists would be enough," muttered Tom, as with the others he
prepared to follow their leader.

Like so many ghosts they drifted out of the hallway, and, moving
in the shadow of the houses, though in the rain and darkness that
seemed almost unnecessary, they stealthily approached the entrance
to the alley.

It was in one of the poorer sections of the town, and the dwelling
houses were interspersed with factories and coal yards. On each
side of the alley stood the wall of a factory, three stories in
height. No light came from any window, and the alley itself was as
dark as pitch.

"Bart and I will stand on this side, and you two fellows take the
other side," whispered Frank, when they reached the mouth of the
alley. "Keep right on your toes and be ready to nab those fellows
when they come out."

The others did as directed and all waited, tense with expectation,
their clubs ready for instant service if resistance should be

The rain kept pouring down in torrents, and as it fell, a glaze
formed on the sidewalks, so that it was with difficulty that the
Army Boys kept their feet.

They were eager to bring the matter to a head, and the waiting in
drenching rain wore on their patience.

"Could they have possibly gone out some other way, leaving us here
to hold the bag?" queried Bart Raymond, after five minutes had
passed without result.

"I don't think so," returned Frank. "I'm dead sure there isn't any
way to get out except the way they went in. They're in there
holding a pow-wow of some kind."

Ten minutes more passed, and by that time even Frank had begun to
have doubts. Tom slipped over to him from the other side of the

"For the love of Mike! let's get a move on and go into the alley
and smoke them out," he whispered. "We can get them there just as
well as here."

"Just five minutes more," Frank replied. "They may hear us going
in and be on their guard, while if we nab them here we'll catch
them unawares. But if they're not out in that time, we'll go in
and round them up."

At the end of the stipulated time Frank gave the signal.

"Creep in as softly as you can," he admonished his comrades.
"Spread across so that they can't slip between us. They've got to
be somewhere between us and that brick wall at the back."

Moving with all the caution that their experience as scouts had
taught them in their frequent incursions into No Man's Land during
the war, the four Army Boys crept noiselessly into the darkness of
the alley.

Ten, twenty, thirty feet, and still no sign of their quarry. They
must be close to them now.

On they went, wonder gradually giving way to doubt, until with a
muttered exclamation Frank came plump up against the wall that
marked the alley's end.

"Stung!" he murmured in profound disgust.

His comrades gathered close about him.

"That's one on us," muttered Tom.

"We're done good and proper," agreed Billy.

"Are you dead sure that you saw them come in?" queried Bart of

"I know I did," replied Frank, who although puzzled was not shaken
in his conviction.

"They must have been ghosts then," gibed Tom. "Nothing else could
have vanished through a brick wall."

Frank drew his flashlight from his pocket and flashed it about.
There was no one to be seen.

"That wall is perfectly blank," he murmured in perplexity. "Thirty
feet high if it's an inch. There isn't an opening in it anywhere."

"Could they have got into the windows of the building on either
side?" suggested Bart.

Frank swept the flashlight on the walls of the factories.

"Not a chance," he affirmed. "All these windows are protected with
iron bars and nothing could get between them. Those fellows seem
to have just melted away."

At that instant a report rang out, and the flashlight was knocked
from his hand by a bullet.

"Down, fellows!" he shouted, setting the example, and the next
moment all four were lying flat on the ground.

They were just in time, for there was a crackling of guns, and
other bullets sped over their heads.

"After them, boys!" yelled Frank, leaping to his feet. "They're at
the mouth of the alley. I saw the flash from their guns."

He sped for the street with his comrades close upon his heels,
their pistols drawn and ready for instant use.



The Army Boys looked eagerly about them when they reached the
street, but could see no one. It was as though the earth had
opened and swallowed the men who had sought their lives.

They scattered and ran in every direction, searching all hallways
and side streets for blocks around, but nothing rewarded their
endeavors, and it was a bedraggled and exasperated quartette that
finally came together again to compare notes and report failure.

"Never saw anything like it in my life!" snorted Tom. "It's as
though we were all bewitched. Somebody's wished a jinx on us. Some
ghosts are putting up a job on us."

"There was nothing ghostly about that bullet that knocked the
flashlight out of my hand or those other bullets that came singing
over our heads while we were hugging the ground," said Frank
grimly. "If I don't get to the bottom of this, you can call me a

"It gets my goat to think of those Heinies chuckling to themselves
because they put one over on us," gritted Billy between his teeth.

"They laugh best who laugh last," growled Bart. "They'll laugh on
the other side of their mouth when we lay hands on them."

"If we ever do," muttered pessimistic Tom. "But here comes our
relief," he continued, as the light of a lantern hanging on the
arm of the foremost man revealed a group coming toward them. "High
time, too! I got drenched to the skin while I was lying on the
ground in that alley."

"Of course we'll have to report the whole thing to the corporal,
shan't we?" inquired Bart.

"I suppose we shall," Frank acquiesced, though reluctantly.
"Personally, I'd like to keep the whole thing up my sleeve until
we've solved the mystery. But there's danger abroad to-night, and
it wouldn't be fair to the boys who are going to take our places
not to put them on their guard."

The corporal of the guard now had come so close that the light of
his lantern fell upon the group of Army Boys.

"You fellows are all here, I see," said the corporal, who was the
boys' old friend, Wilson. "What was that shooting going on here?
None of you hurt, I hope."

"Dripping wet but right as a trivet," Frank replied with a smile,
and then went on to make his report of the occurrences of the
night while the corporal listened with close attention.

"It's certainly strange," he commented when Frank had finished.
"It's one of many queer things that are happening lately. I'll
report the facts at headquarters and you may be called upon to
tell your story there. But now you are off duty, and you can light
out for the barracks."

They were only too glad to avail themselves of the permission, and
hurried off.

"I've got an idea!" exclaimed Frank, as they scurried along before
the gale.

"Frank's got an idea," chaffed Billy. "Hold on to it, old man, for
dear life."  Frank made a playful pass at him which Billy ducked.

"I've been figuring the thing out," went on Frank, "and I've come
to the conclusion that those fellows wanted us to see them go into
that alley."

There was an exclamation of surprise from his comrades.

"Come again," said Billy. "I don't get you."

"Why should they want us to see them?" queried Bart. "They might
have known that we'd go in after them."

"Sure they did!" answered Frank. "That's just what they wanted.
They figured that they'd get us all in there in a bunch. They
guessed too that, not finding them, we'd flash a light. That would
make us a good target to their confederates who had come to the
mouth of the alley, and they thought they could mow us down with
one volley. In other words the alley was a trap."

"By ginger, I believe you're right!" exclaimed Bart "The shots
came just after the light was flashed. It was a slick trick. You
have to hand it to them."

"But that doesn't explain where the men disappeared to who went
into the alley first," remarked Billy.

"No," admitted Frank. "And it doesn't explain either where the men
who fired the shots vanished to. But there's an answer to
everything, and I'm going to try to find the answer to this. I'm
not going to drop it. Of course, I suppose the secret service men
will take the thing up, but I'm going to do a little investigating
on my own account. I have a hunch that when I take a look at that
alley by daylight, I'll tumble to something."

And while the four chums, after their narrow escape, are cudgeling
their brains to solve the mystery, it may be well for the sake of
those who have not read the preceding volumes of this series to
trace briefly their adventures before this story opens.

Frank Sheldon, a vigorous, clean-cut, young fellow, was a resident
of Camport, a thriving and prosperous town of about twenty-five
thousand people. His father had died a few years before the war
broke out, and Frank lived in a little cottage with his mother, of
whom for some years he was the sole support. She was of French
birth, and by the death of her father had recently come into
possession of a considerable estate in France. There had been some
legal complications regarding the settlement of the property, and
she had intended to go to France to look after her interests when
the outbreak of the war made this impossible.

Frank was employed in the wholesale hardware house of Moore and
Thomas, and his prospects for the future were very bright when the
United States entered the World War. Frank was above everything
else a hundred-per-cent American, and if he had consulted only his
own wishes would have enlisted at once. But his mother's
dependence upon him made him hesitate. An episode occurred,
however, that decided him, when he was forced to knock down a
burly German who had insulted the American flag. There was no
further opposition by his mother, and he joined the Thirty-seventh
Regiment, a Camport regiment with a glorious record in the Civil
War, and one which had recently seen service on the Mexican

Billy Waldon, a close friend of Frank, was already a member, and
Bart Raymond, Frank's special chum and a fellow employee, joined
also. Another friend, Tom Bradford, tried to join, but was
rejected on account of his teeth. He was afterward accepted in the
draft, however, so that the four chums, to their great joy, found
themselves together in the same regiment.

There was one man in the Moore and Thomas firm who was a bitter
and malignant anti-American from the start. His name was Nick
Rabig, and he was foreman of one of the departments. He was born
in America, but his parents were German. Rabig and Frank Sheldon
were at sword's points most of the time because of the former's
bullying disposition, and after Rabig had been caught in the draft
and forced into the ranks of the old Thirty-seventh he got from
Frank the thorough thrashing which had been for a long time coming
to him.

What experiences the Army Boys went through in the training camps,
how narrowly they escaped a submarine attack on the way to Europe,
what exciting adventures they met with on their first contact with
the enemy, are described in the first volume of the series
entitled: "Army Boys in France; Or, From Training Camp to

After they had once reached the scene of action the adventures of
the Army Boys multiplied rapidly. Trench warfare was soon
outgrown, and open fighting in the field became the order of the
day. At one time when the American troops were advancing, the boys
became separated from their comrades and were compelled to leap
from a broken bridge into a stream, and when they attempted to
swim to the other side found themselves in the enemy's hands. For
a time a German prison camp with all its horrors loomed up before
them, but from this they were saved by a friend of theirs, Dick
Lever, who swooped down in his airplane, scattered the enemy
guards, and carried his friends back in safety to their own lines.

Frank had the good luck to hear encouraging news about his
mother's property from a French colonel whose life he had saved
under a rain of fire when the officer, Colonel Pavet, was lying
wounded on the battlefield.

Soon, from raw recruits the boys had been developed into skillful
soldiers, as is shown in the second volume of the series,
entitled: "Army Boys in the French Trenches; Or, Hand to Hand
Fights with the Enemy."

The Spring of 1918 had now arrived, and the Germans were preparing
for the last desperate drive, on the success of which their
fortunes depended. If they could once break through the Allied
lines and seize Paris or the Channel ports they would have come
near to winning the war, or at any rate, would have greatly
delayed the Allies' final victory. The Americans were brought to
the front to check the thrust of the Crown Prince's army toward
Paris, and the old Thirty-seventh found itself in the very van of
the fighting. Tom was captured, and had a series of thrilling
experiences before he was able to escape and rejoin his comrades.
Nick Rabig came out in his true colors, and his guilt as a traitor
was discovered by Tom, while hiding in the woods. How the boys
were brought again and again within arm's length of death in the
terrific fighting is told in the third volume of the series,
entitled: "Army Boys On the Firing Line; Or, Holding Back the
German Drive."

On July eighteenth, Marshal Foch struck like a thunderbolt and
hurled the foe back in a headlong retreat. Again and again the
Germans tried to rally, but the Allies were fired with the
certainty of victory and would not be denied.

Frank and his comrades were wherever the fighting was thickest,
and did their full share in driving the Germans back to the Rhine.
An event which for a time put Frank under a cloud, because it
looked as though he were involved in the robbery of a paymaster's
clerk, ended in showing that Nick Rabig was the real culprit. This
completely vindicated Frank, as will be seen in the fourth volume
of the series entitled: "Army Boys In the Big Drive; Or, Smashing
Forward to Victory."

That victory was now in sight. The German cause was doomed. One
great victory remained to be gained, the clearing of the Argonne
forest, wild, tangled, meshed with thousands of miles of barbed
wire, crowded with machine gun nests and swept with a hurricane of
shot and shell. But nothing could stop America's boys now that
their blood was up, and they did much in helping to win here the
final and greatest battle of the war. All the Army Boys, fighting
like tigers, came through unharmed, except Bart, who was wounded
and afterward wandered away from the hospital while temporarily

The armistice was signed and the Army Boys assigned to the Army of
Occupation with headquarters at Coblenz. At Luxemburg while on the
march they came across an American family who for business reasons
had lived for a time in Coblenz. How they took the head of the
family for a German spy, how they marched as conquerors into
Germany, how Frank was cheered by learning that his mother's
property was sure to come to her, how Bart was found and restored
to his right mind, how by the aid of the suspected spy who turned
out to be a patriotic American they thwarted a desperate German
plot to blow up the fortress of Ehrenbreitstein on the Rhine--all
these and other thrilling adventures are described in the fifth
volume of the series, entitled: "Army Boys Marching Into Germany;
Or, Over the Rhine With the Stars and Stripes".

Since the Army Boys had served as night patrol, they were exempt
from getting up when reveille sounded the next morning, and the
sun was some hours high when they found themselves together again
in their favorite spot in front of the great fortress of
Ehrenbreitstein, which formed the principal barracks for the
American troops in the occupied zone.

"Well, Mister Detective," said Billy, with a grin, as he slapped
Frank on the back, "have you figured out any dope about the
fellows who came so near to bumping us off last night?"

"Can't say that I have yet," laughed Frank. "Fact is, I was so
dog-tired when I hit the hay last night that I went to sleep the
minute my head touched the pillow. And so far this morning I've
been so busy packing away grub that I haven't had time to think of
anything else. But if I can get leave I'm going over to Coblenz
today and take a look at that alley."

"Here comes the corp," remarked Bart, as he saw Wilson
approaching. "I wonder whether he found out anything further about
last night's rumpus."

"Nothing at all," answered the corporal, who heard the last words.
"Everything was quiet for the rest of the night. I stationed two
of the men close to the alley with special directions to watch it,
but nothing at all happened that was out of the ordinary."

"It's hardly likely that there would," answered Frank. "They
wouldn't be likely to try the same game twice in the same night."

"Perhaps they had some special grudge against one or all of you
fellows," suggested the corporal. "Have any of you made any
special enemies in the town that you know of?"

"I don't think so," replied Frank. "How about it, boys?"

"Not guilty," laughed Billy.

"We've yanked in a few trouble makers from time to time," said Tom
thoughtfully, "but we weren't any rougher with them than we had to

"I'll tell you!" broke in Bart, as a thought struck him. "It was
our bunch that discovered the plot to blow up Ehrenbreitstein and
got the tip to our people just in time. Perhaps that's made some
of these crazy Huns wild to throw the hooks into us."

"By Jove!" exclaimed Frank, "I never thought of that. I shouldn't
wonder if you were more than half right, Bart."

"It may be so," agreed Wilson meditatively. "They certainly were
sore when that plot was knocked on the head. They had sworn that
no foreign flag should ever float over the greatest fortress in
all Germany."

"They swore falsely then," cried Billy jubilantly, as he pointed
to the Stars and Stripes floating in the breeze.

Instinctively they took off their caps, as they gazed lovingly
upon Old Glory.



"Take a good look at that flag, boys," said the corporal, with a
smile, "for it may be some time before you see it again."

"What do you mean?" asked Frank in surprise.

Corporal Wilson smiled at the perplexed and somewhat rueful faces
of the four Army Boys.

"Just what I said," he replied to Frank's query. "You fellows are
slated to go over the mountain with a bunch of others to round up
some of the guns and supplies that the Heinies have promised to
surrender. They're slow about it, and have been making all kinds
of excuses to keep from bringing them in. The general's patience
is just about exhausted, and he's going to get those guns or know
the reason why."

"Where is the place?" asked Frank.

"I don't know exactly," answered Wilson. "From the lieutenant who
told me to get the boys together for the job I only gathered that
it's a good way off. He told me to pick out men that I could rely
on, and I thought of you at once. There'll be about fifty of you
altogether. You want to get ready to start in about two hours."

He passed on to recruit the rest of the detachment, and the boys
looked at each other. Frank was thoughtful, Bart indifferent, but
Tom and Billy glum.

"Hard luck," growled Tom.

"You said a mouthful!" snorted Billy.

"Look at those boobs," mocked Bart. "I'll bet a dollar to a
doughnut that they were planning to go over to see Alice and Helen
this afternoon."

    "'Gee whiz, I'm glad I'm free,
     No wedding bells for me."

sang Frank.

"Oh, come off!" retorted Tom. "You're simply jealous."

"A perfectly good day gone to waste," grumbled the usually
cheerful Billy.

"Cheer up, you hunks of misery," gibed Bart. "The worst is yet to

"I'm not specially keen for the trip myself," said Frank. "I'd
thought to go over to Coblenz this afternoon and have another look
at that place where they so nearly bumped us off last night. But I
suppose now that will have to wait."

"The alley will be there when we come back unless there's an
earthquake in the meantime," remarked Bart.

"I wish there would be," declared Tom wrathfully. "I'd like to see
the whole place wiped off the map. That is," he corrected himself,
"if I could get one person out of there before the blow up came."

"Make it two," grinned Billy. "But there's no use grizzling about
it. We'll have time anyway to write a letter to the girls telling
them all about it. Then, ho! for the mountains and the tricky
Huns! I'll be just in the humor to make it hot for them if they
don't toe the scratch."

"We'd better get a move on," counseled Frank. "The corp is a
hustler, and he'll have that squad together before we know it."

"Hello, what's this?" exclaimed Bart, as they came to a part of
the barrack grounds where they caught a glimpse of the road

Two men were engaged in a heated conversation. One was poorly
dressed and had a decided limp, as he tried to keep up with the
other, who looked like a professional man of some kind. The former
was evidently pleading with the latter, who shook off impatiently
the hand that had been placed on his arm.

"Scrapping about something," remarked Tom carelessly.

The lame man still persisted, and suddenly his companion swung
around and aimed a blow at him with his cane. The other dodged and
the cane was lifted again, but before it could fall, Frank had
reached the man's side and wrenched the cane from his hand.

The owner turned with a glare of fury, which changed however to a
look of apprehension as his eyes fell on the American uniform.

He mumbled something that might have been an apology or an
explanation, but Frank cut him short.

"Hitting a lame man doesn't go around here," said Frank curtly.
"If you had actually hit him, I'd have done the same thing to

The man was cowed and made no reply. The lame man meanwhile had
hobbled away. Frank handed back the cane, turned his back upon the
owner and rejoined his companions.

"True Prussian brutality," commented Bart. "Good work, old boy.
But now let's hurry or we'll be late."

They scattered to their quarters, and in a short time were fully
equipped for the coming journey.

When a little later they had assembled at the place the corporal
had appointed, they found there a group of their comrades selected
from the old Thirty-seventh bent on the same errand as themselves.
Lieutenant Winter was in command of the detachment, which numbered
about half a hundred.

"Mighty good name for the leader of this trip," Bart whispered
jokingly to Frank, as they stood drawn up in line awaiting the
command to start.

"It certainly is," agreed Frank, drawing his coat a little closer.
"This is about as bitter weather as I've ever stacked up against."

"Looks to me as if a snow storm were coming," murmured Billy.

"Attention!" came the sharp command. "Forward, march!"

The lines moved forward as one man, the lieutenant riding ahead on
horseback and two motor trucks loaded with supplies bringing up
the rear.

The road led at first along the bank of the river and was fairly
level. After two miles had been traversed the line of march
swerved sharply toward the right and the men began to climb.

The weather was biting cold, and a stinging-wind whipped their
cheeks and searched their clothing. But they were warmly clad and
the pace at which they marched kept them comfortable enough. Their
sturdy frames were inured to hardships, and they joked and laughed
as they went along.

Soon they had passed through the little suburban villages that
hung on the flank of Coblenz, and the way was interspersed with
farmhouses at longer and longer intervals. The country became
wilder, and as the path wound upward, they soon found themselves
in the midst of mountains, on the other side of which lay the town
for which they were bound.

The leafless branches of great trees waved creakily over their
heads as the wind whistled through them. There was no sign of
human life or habitation to, be seen. For all that appeared to the
contrary, they might have been in the depths of a primeval forest.

"The jumping off place," muttered Tom, as at the command of the
lieutenant the detachment paused for a short rest.

"The little end of nowhere, I'll tell the world," returned Billy,
gazing about him. "Gee, what a place to be lost in!"

There was only a brief time permitted for rest, as the lieutenant
was anxious to get his men over the ridge and at their destination
before the short winter afternoon came to an end. The men fell in
and the march went on.

The sky had now become a steely gray, and flakes of snow began to
fall. They came down slowly at first and then more rapidly, and
the ground was soon covered. The wind too had increased in
intensity, and the boys soon found themselves in what promised to
develop into a genuine blizzard.

The road had dwindled now to a mere mountain path, and even this
was soon obliterated by the snow that was becoming deeper every

Suddenly Bart tripped over a root and fell full-length on the
snow. He tried to rise, but could not bear his weight upon his
foot, which gave way under him. His comrades, who had laughed at
first, sprang to help him. They drew him to one side, while Wilson
came to see what the matter was.

"It's nothing," explained Bart, as he stood with an arm flung over
the shoulders of Tom and Billy, while Frank, on his knees,
vigorously rubbed and manipulated his ankle. "I'll be all right in
a minute. It was a boob stunt for me to do."

"Nothing broken?" inquired Wilson anxiously.

"No," answered Frank, looking up but keeping on with his rubbing.
"I can feel that the foot's all right. He's just strained it a
little, that's all."

"Good," said Wilson. "You fellows come on after us then as soon as
you can," and he hurried back to his place.

Two or three minutes more and Bart was able to walk, although he
limped a trifle. They picked up their rifles and hurried after
their comrades.

In the gathering dusk they did not notice that a trail diverged
from the main one that they had been traveling, and they turned
into this side trail, straining their eyes through the whirling
snow to catch a glimpse of their comrades.

They had gone on for about ten minutes, not talking in order to
save their breath, when Frank put into words the growing
uneasiness of all of them.

"Queer that we haven't caught up to them yet!" he exclaimed,
peering ahead, although he could not see more than twenty paces
through the blinding snow.

"We certainly are traveling a good deal faster than they were when
we saw them last," declared Bart.

"They must have got hold of some seven-league boots," grumbled

"Put on a little more speed," advised Billy. "Make it snappy now,
and we're bound to catch up with them."

They quickened their pace, but without result. There were no
footprints to be seen, but that meant nothing, for the snow
covered up all tracks almost as soon as they were made.

For twenty minutes more they hurried along as well as they could
through the snow that clogged and clung to their feet, and at last
the truth forced itself upon their unwilling minds.

"No use, fellows," said Frank, as he stopped and the others
gathered around him. "There's no use kidding ourselves any longer.
We might as well own up to it that we've taken the wrong trail."

"Guess you're right, old man," said Tom disconsolately. "It simply
wouldn't be possible for us not to have caught up to them at the
rate we've been going. We're up against it for fair, and the
question is, how we're going to get out of it. Getting snowbound
in this wilderness doesn't make any hit with me."

"There's only one thing to do," said Frank decidedly, "and that is
to right about face and try to find the place where we turned

"Swell chance," muttered Tom. "It's getting dark now by the
minute, and it'll be as black as pitch in a little while."

"I know it's a forlorn hope," admitted Frank, "but it's the only
thing to do just the same, and even forlorn hopes have a way of
winning out sometimes. We can't stand here and be frozen to death.
Perhaps we'll find some of the fellows sent back to look for us.
Get a hustle on now."

He set the pace, and they followed with a speed that under other
conditions they would not have thought possible.

But fast as they went, the snow and the darkness came faster, and
despite all their efforts they were not able to find where the
paths diverged. Everywhere was one bleak wilderness of snow. Soon
they had all lost the path they were following and found
themselves floundering through the woods among the tree trunks.
There was no use in going further, for in the dense darkness they
were quite as likely to be going away from their comrades as
toward them, and at last Frank called a halt.

"The storm's got us, fellows," he declared, with a forced laugh
that had little mirth in it.

"All my fault," remarked Bart gloomily. "I guess I'm a Jonah, I
picked out the wrong moment to take a tumble. Now we're in a fine

"We've been in worse," said Billy cheerily, "and pulled through
them just the same."

"That's the way to talk!" exclaimed Frank heartily, giving Billy a
slap on the back. "We'll get out of this scrape as we have out of
a lot of others. At the worst, it's only a matter of having to
wait till daylight. We're worth a dozen dead men yet. At any rate
we've got grub with us, so that there's no danger of our

"How about freezing to death?" said Tom, who was always inclined
to see the dark side of things.

"We won't do that either," replied Frank. "That is, if we keep
moving, and that's what we've got to do. It may not get us
anywhere, but at least it will keep the blood circulating. Then
too, there's the odd chance of our stumbling upon some hut or
other where we can find some kind of shelter."

"Better let me go first, then," put in Bart. "I'm good at
stumbling. In fact it's my long suit."

They all laughed and felt better.

"We don't know where we're going, but we're on the way," sang out
Billy, as they began to trudge forward.

They had plenty of rations with them, and they munched some food
as they went along. It was cold comfort, but it was comfort just
the same.

"Oh, you hot coffee!" murmured Billy, and at the picture that he
conjured up the others groaned.

The snow was now knee deep and showed no signs of letting up,
though the wind had abated somewhat in violence.

They plodded on through the heavy drifts that clutched at their
tired legs like so many nightmare hands trying to hold them back
to their destruction. They were young and hardy, but their
physical strength was sorely tested by the battle with the
elements. Their hearts were thumping as though they would burst
through their ribs, and their breath came in gasps.

Suddenly Frank's keen eyes caught sight of a dark mass that seemed
to stand out even blacker than the darkness which was everywhere
around them. He rubbed his eyes clear of the snow that clung to
the lashes and looked again. Then he gave a shout.

"We've found it, boys!" he yelled. "There's a building of some
kind just ahead of us. See it? See it?"

They looked and saw, and with a joyful shout make a break for



As the Army Boys drew closer, the building seemed to grow in size.
Wing after wing detached itself from the mass that seemed to cover
fully an acre of ground. There were no fences to hinder their
approach, but there were great masses of broken blocks and masonry
through which they had to wind their way before they found
themselves before a frowning tower, whose peak rose above the top
of a quadrangular group of buildings surrounding it.

"Why, it's an old castle of some kind!" exclaimed Frank, as they
paused at the foot of the tower, spent and breathless.

"I don't care what it is," replied Bart. "It's shelter of some
kind, and that's enough for me."

"Wonder if there's any one living here," remarked Billy Waldon,
his eyes sweeping the great mass for some sign of life. "Even the
bark of a dog would be welcome to-night."

"Not a light anywhere," commented Tom. "If there's anybody living
here I guess they're dead."

"There's not even a door to knock at," said Frank Sheldon, looking
into the yawning space of what had evidently been an entrance to
the tower. "I guess we'll have to go on a little exploring
expedition. Come along, fellows, and get out of the wind. Lucky
that I have my flashlight along."

They crowded in on their leader's heels, first, as a precaution,
seeing that their weapons were ready, though there did not seem to
be the faintest chance of their being required.

Frank drew his flashlight, and the streaming rays illuminated a
long passageway whose end they could not see. There were open
spaces in the roof and walls through which the snow had drifted in
spots, but there were other parts that were clear and dry, and
these were welcomed by the boys with immense relief after their
long battle with the snow.

At a turning of the corridor they came upon a large room that,
although mildewed and dilapidated and wholly bereft of furniture,
was intact as far as the walls and ceiling were concerned. But
what especially caught their eyes was a huge stone fireplace, and
at once they decided to end their explorations for the present
right there.

"Perhaps that hot coffee wasn't such a dream after all," chuckled
Billy. "We've got plenty of the stuff in our kits, and all we need
is some hot water."

"There's no end of broken branches about here," said Frank. "Let's
get a pile of them in here, and we'll have a fire started in less
than no time."

Though Tom said that the wood would probably be too wet to burn,
he turned in heartily with the others, and in a few minutes they
had a bigger pile of wood ready than probably the old room had
ever seen before. Then by careful nursing of some chips and twigs
a blaze was started that soon developed into a roaring fire,
before which the boys stood and dried out their wet clothes and
toasted themselves until they were in a glow.

The coffee problem was now a simple one, as all they had to do was
to melt snow enough to furnish the hot water, and they used the
cooking utensils that they had in their kits, for they had started
out that afternoon in full marching order. Savory odors soon
announced that the fragrant brew was ready, and they almost
scalded their throats in the eagerness to partake of it.

"Yum-yum!" murmured Tom after his second cup. "Nectar has nothing
on this."

"I'll say so," agreed Billy, with a blissful expression on his

"We never knew how good it was until we thought we couldn't get
it," grinned Bart.

"Maybe this isn't a contrast to things as they were an hour ago,
eh, fellows?" laughed Frank. "Listen to the wind screaming round
this building, mad because it can't get at us."

"I wonder what the rest of the bunch are thinking about us just
now," remarked Billy.

"I suppose they're worried to death, because we didn't turn up,"
replied Frank. "They've probably got squads out hunting for us at
this minute. They've probably guessed what happened when we failed
to catch up with them."

"Well, there isn't a chance in a thousand of their striking this
place," said Tom, yawning. "In the meantime, I'm all tired out and
vote that we hit the hay."

"There isn't any hay to hit, worse luck," said Bart, looking about
him ruefully. "It's the stone floor for us to-night, all right.
But it's warm and dry, and we'll make out with our blankets. It'll
beat traveling around in the snow all night, any way."

"Let's get some more wood so that we'll have enough to last all
night," suggested Frank, and followed by the others he suited the
action to the word.

"How about some of us standing watch?" remarked Bart, when the
huge pile of branches had been heaped within easy distance of the

"Don't see any need of it," remarked Tom, rubbing his eyes. "We're
probably miles away from any living thing and there's nothing to
watch for except ghosts. There ought to be plenty of those around
in a place so old as this. But who wants to watch for ghosts? I'd
rather be asleep than awake if any of those old codgers come
perambulating around."

"Quit your kidding," replied Frank with a laugh. "But I think we
ought to stand watch, turn and turn about. There's a bare chance
that some of the detachment may come this way, though I don't
think it's likely. Then again we're really in an enemy's country,
and it wouldn't be good soldiering for all of us to go to sleep.
Besides, the fire has got to be kept up."

They felt the force of this and agreed.

"Let's see," remarked Frank, as he consulted his radio watch, "I
figure it will be about eight hours till daylight. That'll be two
hours for each of us."

"You fellows go to sleep," broke in Bart, "and I'll stand watch
all night. That's only right, for I'm the fellow who got you into
this fix."

"Nonsense!" said Frank. "That doesn't go with this bunch. We'll
share and share alike, or else there's nothing doing."

Bart still persisted, but the others overruled him and he had to
give in.

Frank drew a memorandum book from his pocket, tore out a page and
made four strips of different lengths. The one that drew the
shortest was to stand the first watch and the others were to take
their turn according to the length of their strips. Bart drew the
shortest, and Billy, Tom, and Frank followed, the latter having
the longest slip remaining in his hand.

"If you go to sleep, Bart, you'll be shot at sunrise," joked

"I'm all right then," retorted Bart, "for I never get up that

Frank, Billy, and Tom spread their blankets as near the fire as
was safe, and rolled themselves in them. The bed was hard, but
this bothered them little, and they were so tired that they were
asleep almost as soon as they stretched themselves out.

Bart, too, was more exhausted than he ever remembered being in all
his life before, and from time to time he looked enviously at the
forms of his sleeping comrades. The two hours that stretched
before him would be very long ones.

At times he would pace slowly about the room, stopping now and
then to replenish the fire. His foot still hurt him a little, and
he frequently sat down in a corner to rest himself. He found,
however, that this was dangerous, for an almost uncontrollable
drowsiness would steal over him, despite all his efforts to keep
awake. The only way he could feel sure of staying awake was to
keep on his feet.

An hour passed and half of another.

He was counting the minutes now before he would be relieved, when
suddenly, as he was passing the entrance that opened on the
corridor, he heard a sound that startled him.

He stood stock still, every trace of sleepiness gone in an instant
and all his faculties keenly on the alert. But nothing happened
and he relaxed.

"Pshaw!" he said to himself impatiently. "What's the matter with
me? Am I letting what Tom said about ghosts get on my nerves?"

Then the sound came again, and this time Bart knew that he was not



What Bart heard was the sound of human voices.

At first the thought flashed across him that they might be those
of some of his comrades, sent back by Lieutenant Winter to look
for the missing men.

But he dismissed this thought almost as soon as it was formed.
There was a peculiar quality about the tones that was not
American, a coarse guttural sound such as he had grown only too
familiar with in the streets of Coblenz. Those who were talking
were Germans.

He listened intently.

It was evident from the varying tones that there were quite a
number of men in the group. At times the conversation seemed
animated, and then again there would be a lull. Once he thought he
heard them quarreling.

What could these men be doing here in the dead of night? Was it
possible that some part of the castle was inhabited after all? Or
had they gathered together for some secret and lawless purpose?

Bart thought at first that he would wake his companions and tell
them what he had heard. On second thought, however, he concluded
that he would do a little reconnoitering on his own account. They
were so utterly tired that he hated to wake them for what after
all might prove to be not worth while.

Carefully looking to his weapons, he stole from the room and moved
in the direction of the voices.

But this was not so easy a matter as he thought. The old castle
proved to be a perfect maze of rooms, some connected and others
detached, and again and again he found himself going further away
from the sounds and having to retrace his steps. Then too he was
afraid to flash a light, and had to grope his way over the uneven
floor and amid piles of debris.

At last, however, he found himself on the right track. A faint ray
of light from a distant room gave him the clue. Moving with the
stealth of an Indian on the trail, he crept forward until at the
end of a distant corridor he found what he sought.

In a large room, lighted by a fire that blazed on the hearth and
by three or four candles, were a number of men engaged in animated
conversation. A glance at their features showed that all were
Germans. Some of the men were in civilian clothes, but others wore
old, dilapidated army uniforms.

They were a rough looking lot, and Bart saw at a glance that most
of them were armed. They were gathered about a man with a red,
bushy beard, who seemed to be the leader. He had a map spread on a
table improvised from boxes, and was pointing out places indicated
by red dots.

Bart counted the men. There were nine burly fellows, who looked
desperate and as though they could give a good account of
themselves in rough and tumble work. In one of the guns standing
against the wall Bart noted a red flag thrust in the muzzle--the
symbol of the German revolutionary element that was spreading
terror throughout the former empire.

He could hear distinctly now what the speakers said, but his
knowledge of German was limited and he could not get the full
meaning. He heard repeatedly however the words "Coblenz,"
"Liebknecht," and "Spartacide." He knew what was meant by those
baleful words. They meant the overthrow of law and order, a
program of blood and massacre. And they were discussing this
program evidently with reference to Coblenz, where the American
Army of Occupation had its headquarters.

Bart pondered what he should do. It was out of the question for
him alone to attack these conspirators. They were too many for any
single man. He must arouse his comrades at once.

With the utmost caution he tiptoed back, and finding the room, not
without some difficulty, bent over the sleepers. They were dead
with sleep and he had to shake them to get them wide awake, but
the news he whispered to them had them on edge and ready for
action in an instant.

They crowded together for a whispered conference.

"What would we better do?" asked Billy.

"There's just one thing to do," said Frank, "and that is to nab
the whole bunch. That is," he went on, "if we find that they're
really hatching mischief, as Bart thinks. I've picked up enough
German in the last few months to be able to understand what
they're talking about, and on a pinch I could even talk with them
after we've got them under our guns."

"But are you sure we have any right to arrest them?" asked Bart, a
little doubtfully.

"Sure we have," answered Frank promptly. "You said they were
armed, didn't you?"

"Yes," replied Bart.

"That's all the excuse we need then to nip this thing in the bud,"
Frank answered. "It's against regulations for the Germans to carry
arms in the zone occupied by the American army, and any one who
does is liable to arrest on sight. See that your guns are all
right, fellows, and come along. I have a hunch that we're going to
give these plotters a surprise party. But we'll listen first and
make sure before we pinch them."

Bart went in advance to show the way, and his comrades crept after
him, drifting along like so many ghosts.

The conference was still in progress, but it had somewhat changed
its character. When Bart had been listening, it had been a debate
in which all were taking more or less part. Now the man with the
red beard was making a speech. He had taken the red flag from the
gun muzzle and waved it from time to time to punctuate his
remarks. He had worked himself up into a passion as he progressed.
His eyes were bulging, his face inflamed, as he poured out a
torrent of words that evidently carried away his hearers, to judge
from their rapt attention and the frequent ejaculations that burst
from them.

The Army Boys listened for several minutes, and then at a sign
from Frank drew back a little distance, while he spoke to them in

"It's what I thought," he murmured. "That fellow is an agitator
from Berlin who has come to stir up trouble in the Coblenz
district. He's urging these men to start an uprising that will
take the American troops by surprise and wipe them out. From
something he said I have an idea that he was concerned in the plot
to blow up Ehrenbreitstein. He's as dangerous as a rattlesnake,
and we've got to get him.

"Now," he went on, "just back me up when I give the word. They're
nine to our four, but we have the advantage of surprise. Follow my
lead and we'll bag them all right."



When the Army Boys got back to the room the orator was winding up
his speech. He finished with an eloquent peroration, and his
hearers broke into applause as the last word left his lips.

Frank leaped into the room with his rifle leveled directly at the

"Hands up!" he shouted.

At the same instant, the rest of the Army Boys followed their
leader, their rifles sweeping the room.

The effect of the sudden entrance of the Army Boys was electric.

With a roar of rage and chagrin, the conspirators made as though
they would rush on the intruders. But the wicked looking muzzles
of the army rifles and the look of determination in the faces of
the boys who held them produced a change.

Slowly the hands went up until all were raised above their heads.

"Hold them there now," commanded Frank. "The first one who moves
is a dead man."

Most of them could not understand the words, but as they looked
into Frank's eyes they had not the slightest doubt of his meaning,
and they stood like so many statues, only their eyes and the
working of their features betraying the impotent anger that
possessed them.

"Now, Tom," said Frank, without removing his eyes from those of
the German leader, "go over these men and take whatever weapons
they may have, while the rest of you keep the bunch covered."

Tom laid aside his rifle and did the work with promptness and
thoroughness, and his search was rewarded by a considerable
collection of knives and pistols. To these he added the rifles
that had been leaning against the wall, and removed the lot from
the room.

"They haven't anything left more dangerous than a toothpick," he
reported to Frank, with a grin, as he picked up his rifle and
resumed his place.

"Fine and dandy," remarked Frank.

"Now," he went on, addressing the prisoners, "back up to that wall
and sit down on the floor. Quick now! _Sitzen Sie sich.
Verstehen Sie?"_

They understood, and showed that they did by obeying, though if
looks could kill Frank would have been blasted by the venomous
glance that the German leader shot at him.

Only then did Frank permit himself to relax. He lowered his rifle
with a sense of relief.

"We've got them corralled now," he remarked to his comrades. "Let
your rifles down, boys, but keep your eyes on them. If any one of
them tries to make a break, we can pot him before he gets to his

"Well, now that we've got them what are we going to do with them?"
asked Billy.

"Sort of white elephant on our hands it seems to me," said Tom, in
some perplexity.

"No more sleep for any of us to-night, I guess," observed Bart.

"Oh, I don't know," said Frank. "Two of us will be enough to guard
these fellows at a time, while the others get a few winks. I think
I'll question the fellow who seems to be running this shooting
match and see if I can get anything out of him."

He motioned to the leader to get to his feet and come forward,
which the latter did with a thunderous frown on his face.

Frank had a faint hope that the man would be able to speak
English, in which case his task would be comparatively easy. But
when he asked the captive in German whether he could speak
English, the latter replied with a surly negative.

So Frank was compelled to muster his limited vocabulary and pick
out enough German to make himself understood. In that language,
then, the questioning proceeded.

"What were you men doing here?" asked Frank.

"By what authority do you ask me?" the prisoner responded. "Since
when has it been a crime for Germans to meet together on German

"That depends on the purpose of the meeting," answered Frank. "You
may be on German soil, but just now you are under American laws,
and they don't allow such meetings unless permission is received
in advance. Besides, Germans are forbidden to have arms. How about
those weapons we've just taken away from you?"

"If there are any laws like that they ought to be broken," replied
the prisoner impudently.

"Don't get gay with me now," said Frank, with an ominous glitter
in his eyes. "We taught your armies a lesson not long ago, and
you'll find that we can teach you civilians just as easily."

"Our armies were not beaten," the man answered with a sudden flare
of rage. "They could have fought for years if it had not been for
the hunger at home."

"They gave a pretty good imitation of beaten armies then," said
Frank sarcastically, "and I had an idea that the Americans had
something to do with the beating. But that's neither here nor
there. What were you planning to do at Coblenz?"

"Nothing," growled the prisoner.

"That doesn't go with me," replied Frank. "I happened to hear some
of that speech of yours and Coblenz was sprinkled through it
rather thickly. Suppose you hand over to me that map with the red
dots marked on it."

"I have no map," the man replied, a look of apprehension coming
into his eyes.

"Lying again, are you?" said Frank. "Bart, cover this fellow with
your rifle while Billy goes through his pockets."

The prisoner's fist clenched, but a prod of Bart's rifle made him
think better of it, and Billy drew from one of the inside pockets
of the man's coat the identical map over which the group had been
poring when Bart first came upon the scene.

"That'll do," said Frank. "Go back to the wall and sit down. Your
case will be attended to by the American authorities at Coblenz."

The German, with a muttered imprecation, did as he was told, and
while Bart kept his eye on the group of prisoners, Frank and the
other Army Boys looked over the map.

They had been so long in Coblenz that they knew the town from end
to end, and could readily identify the places that on the map were
splashed with red. They included all the places occupied as
headquarters by staffs of the various brigades and divisions of
the American Army, as well as the American hospital and other
buildings devoted to army uses.

"What do the red marks mean, do you think?" asked Billy, with
lively curiosity.

"Blood or bombs or something of that kind, I suppose," replied
Frank. "Taking this with what I gathered from the fellow's speech,
I think it marks places that are to be blown up. It looks like a
general uprising against American rule. I think that Army
headquarters will find this little sheet of paper an interesting
thing to study. And it wouldn't surprise me very much if our
genial friend over there should find himself before long standing
before a firing squad."

"What is this place here?" asked Tom, putting his finger on one of
the red spots.

"I don't know of any government building there," commented Billy.
Frank took another look.

"Why, fellows," he said with quickening interest, "that's where
the alley is that we were so nearly trapped in the other night.
Don't you recognize it?"

"Sure enough," agreed Billy. "But what is there that they would
want to blow up?"

"Maybe some of these red spots are meant to indicate meeting
places of the conspirators," suggested Frank. "See, there's a
little red cross added here that you don't find in connection with
the army and government buildings. But it's queer that that alley
should turn up again. I wish I knew what it meant."

"Well, we'll have to let the Secret Service ferret that out," said
Billy. "They have fellows there to whom this will be as clear as
crystal after they've studied it a little. In the meantime we've
got a big enough job on our hands to take care of these prisoners.
What are we going to do with them?"

"We've got time to think that over between now and daylight,"
answered Frank. "For the present we'll make them lie down flat and
far enough apart so that they can't talk with each other. Then you
and I will stand the first watch and Bart and Tom the next. As
soon as daylight comes we must be on the move."

The plan was carried out, although Bart and Tom declared that they
had lost all desire for sleep and would keep awake with the
others. Frank, however, wanted to have them in good shape when
morning came, and the plan was carried out. As a matter of fact,
Bart and Tom were fast asleep in five minutes, and Frank and Billy
yielded as readily when their turn came.

With the first streak of dawn, the boys were on their feet.

"Doped it out yet?" Bart asked of Frank.

"Pretty well," his chum answered. "I've figured out that we'd do
better to try to find our detachment than to go back with these
fellows to Coblenz. In the first place, it must be nearer, and
then, too, we have the chance of meeting some of the detachment
who have probably been sent out to look for us. The sun will give
us the general direction and we'll probably hit the camp before

"Perhaps some of the prisoners could give us the direction,"
suggested Bart.

"I suppose most any of them could," answered Frank. "Some of them,
no doubt, are natives of this section, though that big red beard
comes from Berlin. But do you think I'd trust any of them? Not on
your life! They'd only lead us into a trap."

"I guess you're right," agreed Bart.

"How about breakfast for these Huns?" asked Tom.

"We'll have to rustle some grub for them, of course," answered
Frank. "Haven't they got any food with them?"

"A few hunks of bread and cheese," answered Tom, "but not nearly
enough to go around. We'll have to give them some of our rations,
I suppose, though we made quite a hole in them last night and
there isn't very much left."

"Well, we'll divide up with them as long as we have any," said
Frank, "though I know mighty well they wouldn't do it with us if
the case were reversed."

"You bet they wouldn't," answered Tom, "I've been a prisoner in
their hands, and I know what I'm talking about."

They made coffee and distributed food, giving to their prisoners
as much as they ate themselves. Then Frank lined up the prisoners
and directed them to go ahead in the general direction he pointed
out, warning them sternly that he would not hesitate to shoot at
the least sign of resistance or any attempt to escape.

The storm had ceased, although a bitter wind was still blowing and
heaping the snow in drifts. Still this had some advantages, for
while it piled the snow deep in places it swept other spots almost
clean and they made fairly rapid progress. The prisoners marched
sulkily but steadily, with a wholesome respect for the rifles
behind them and the men who held them.

They had been marching for perhaps an hour through the bleak
forest, when Bart gave a sudden exclamation.

"See those black dots on the snow?" he said, pointing ahead and a
little to the right. "They're moving and they're coming this way!
I'll bet it's some of our fellows sent out to find us."

Frank looked hard and long, and as he looked his face grew grave.
He did not seem to share his comrade's jubilation.

"Guess again, Bart," he said.

"Why?" asked Bart.

"Because," replied Frank, "those fellows are wearing German
uniforms. They're probably a lot of disbanded soldiers on their
way home. I rather think, boys, that we're in for a fight."



There was a stir among the Army Boys as they crowded around their

"Are you sure, Frank?" asked Billy.

"Positive," answered Frank. "I can tell by their uniform and by
their walk. I could even make out that some of them were wearing
the uniform of the Jaeger regiments. They fought against us in the
Argonne, and you'll remember that they're pretty tough birds. If
it comes to a scrap we'll have our work cut out for us."

"But why should there be any scrap?" questioned Tom. "Germans are
arrested every day in Coblenz and no one tries to rescue them."

"That's different," replied Frank. "The people know there that
we've got powerful forces right at hand that could crush any
attempt at rescue. But that doesn't count much out in the
wilderness. If these fellows have an officer with them, he'll
probably have sense enough to know that it doesn't pay to buck up
against the United States army. But if they're just traveling
along without organization, they feel so sore at us that they may
be willing to take a chance and mix in."

"How many do you make them out to be?" asked Billy.

"About fifteen, I should judge," was the answer.

"What are you going to do?" asked Bart.

"Keep right ahead in the direction we are going. The boldest way
is usually the best. If they saw us do any pussyfooting, they'd
think we were scared, and they'd come after us anyway."

 The two parties were not traveling in such a line that they would
necessarily meet each other. Under ordinary conditions they would
have passed at a distance of perhaps six hundred feet. But as the
other party approached, Frank could see that one of their number
was observing him and his comrades through a pair of field
glasses. There was a hurried consultation, and then the newcomers
swerved from their line of march and came directly toward the Army

"Just what I expected," muttered Frank, as his eyes darted from
place to place over the snowy landscape to find a favorable
position from a military point of view.

A hundred feet away was a slight rise of ground from which grew a
clump of gigantic oak trees. They were so close together that
their roots seemed to intermingle. On the near side of the little
hill the vagaries of the wind had swept the snow into a sort of
cave formation, leaving a space in the center hollowed out with
great banks of snow on both sides.

Straight into this cave-like space Frank marched his group of
prisoners who were walking with their hands upraised, but resting
on their heads so as to ease their arms.

"You stand here, Billy, with your gun leveled, and if any one of
these fellows makes a break drop him in his tracks," Frank
directed, "You, Bart and Tom, come with me, and we'll go ahead and
have a parley with this gang, and see what their intentions are."

The newcomers had now approached within a distance of a hundred
yards. The boys looked in vain for any one wearing an officer's
uniform, but there was no one who seemed to be in command. The
crowd advanced in straggling formation, some of their faces
exhibiting merely curiosity, while those of others were ugly and
determined. There were perhaps half a dozen rifles among the lot,
but the boys could see army revolvers at the belts of half a dozen
more. A few had nothing but heavy sticks. The clothing of all was
worn and travel stained, but all were of military cut and pattern,
indicating that the wearers had belonged to the German army. The
Army Boys went boldly toward them, and their confident bearing
seemed to impress the Germans, who hesitated in their advance and
crowded close together as though in consultation.

The boys kept going until they were within thirty feet, and then
Frank handed his rifle to Billy and went forward with empty hands
to show that his intentions were peaceable.

"We're American soldiers, as you can see by our uniforms," he said
in a clear voice, in which there was no trace of wavering. "We are
on our way to camp. We saw you turn from your line of march and
come our way as though you wanted to speak to us. What do you

Frank had spoken in German and they all understood him, but there
was no answer ready, although the men's eyes glowered as they
rested on his uniform and there were muttered exclamations.

"Is there any one of you that speaks English?" Frank asked, after
waiting a moment.

Again a whispered consultation, and one of their number was pushed
forward by the others.

"Do you speak English?" Frank asked.

"Yes," replied the man roughly. "I lived for five years in your
accursed America."

The tone and words were offensively insolent, but Frank took no
notice of them.

"Then perhaps you can tell me what you and your comrades want with
us," he said.

"We want those prisoners you have with you," the man replied.

"What prisoners?" parried Frank.

"Don't try to fool us," the man answered angrily. "We saw those
men walking with their hands on their heads, and we know they are
Germans. We want them, and we're going to have them."

"How are you going to get them?" Frank asked quietly.

"How are we going to get them?" sneered the man. "Why, by taking
them, if we have to. There are only four of you, as we saw through
our glasses, and we're four to one. You wouldn't be fools enough
to fight against such odds. If you give them up peaceably we won't
hurt you. But if you don't, we'll wipe you out."

"Now listen," said Frank sternly. "We've arrested these men
because they were plotting against the United States. We've set
out to take them into camp, and we're going to do it. This
district is under American rule and America has a long arm. You
may wipe us out, but the American Government will reach out that
arm and get you, no matter where you try to hide. I warn you to go
on your way and let us pass."

"It's fight then, is it?" snarled the German.

He turned to his companions.

"Comrades!" he roared.

But he got no further.

Like lightning, Frank's left hand shot out and gripped the man by
the collar. With his right, he yanked his automatic pistol from
his belt and clapped it against the man's temple.

"One move and I'll blow your brains out," he snapped.

The man, after his first instinct of revolt, stood like a statue.
That cold muzzle against his head was a compelling argument.

There was a wild commotion among the Germans, and rifles were
raised, but as Frank had whirled his prisoner between him and them
they did not dare to fire, but stood raging but irresolute.

Walking backward with his prisoner, the pistol still pressed to
his head, Frank rejoined Bart and Tom, whose rifles were leveled
at the crowd. Step by step the boys retreated, until they stood
with Billy in the shelter of the oaks. Frank then delivered his
prisoner to Billy, who made him lie down in the snow cave with the

"Good work, old man!" said Tom admiringly, as he clapped Frank on
the shoulder.

"I'll tell the world so," agreed Bart enthusiastically.

"Gee, but my heart was in my mouth while I watched you," said

"Have any trouble with the prisoners while I was gone?" asked

"Not much," grinned Billy. "Redbeard tried to get up, but I handed
him a clip on the jaw and he sat down again."

"Drop!" shouted Bart suddenly. "Those fellows are getting ready to

They threw themselves flat on the snow, and a moment later some
bullets zipped over them.

"Looks as though they meant business," muttered Frank.

"Lucky that they haven't all got rifles," remarked Billy.

"Seems like the old Argonne days come again, only on a smaller
scale," remarked Tom. "Shall we let them have a taste of lead,
Frank? My finger's fairly itching to pull the trigger."

"Hold in a while, Tom," counseled Frank. "They have done that to
vent their spite. We're safe enough behind these oaks, and we
haven't any too much ammunition. If they show any signs of making
a rush, we'll let them have a volley."

"That's just what they're going to do," remarked Bart. "They know
they're four to one and they're going to take a chance."

"Five to one, really," answered Frank, "for Billy will have his
hands full in guarding the prisoners."

Another volley came at that minute, and several bullets embedded
themselves in the oaks. At the same moment, the Germans rushed
forward a few yards, taking shelter behind what trees they could
or throwing themselves behind hillocks of snow.

"They're in earnest," remarked Tom.

"All right," said Frank, and his fingers tightened on his rifle.
"Let them rush us. They'll get all that's coming to them."



"Those fellows are old campaigners," commented Bart. "You can tell
that by the tactics they're using. It's the old system they tried
at the Marne and in the Argonne, making a rush for a few yards,
throwing themselves flat, and then repeating the process until
they got near enough to rush us."

"A pretty good system, too," commented Tom, "but it didn't win
then and it isn't going to win now. Just watch me wing one or two
of these Huns and put a crimp into their tactics."

His chance came even while he was speaking, for one of the Germans
thrust his rifle out from behind a tree and fired. At the same
instant, Tom's rifle cracked, and the bullet ploughed its way
through the man's right shoulder. He fell with a groan and rolled
out from behind his shelter on to the snow. He was an easy mark as
he lay there, but Tom refrained from firing again. The man was out
of the fight and as good as dead as far as any further offensive
was concerned. Besides, it was no part of the American idea of war
to kill a wounded foe, although it was a matter of record that it
had frequently been done by the Germans.

"Good shooting, old man," commented Frank. "You haven't got out of
the way of potting them."

"One less to cause us trouble," remarked Billy. "Gee, if I didn't
have these prisoners to watch! I'm getting cross-eyed, trying to
keep one eye on them and the other on these fellows that are
trying to rush us."

"Keep both eyes on the prisoners," directed Frank, "especially on
that red-beard person. He's bad medicine. We'll handle these
fellows. Ah, you will, will you?"

The last exclamation was prompted by one of the Germans who tried
at that moment to glide from a small tree behind which he was
sheltered to a larger one that seemed to promise better
protection. He moved swiftly, but Frank's bullet was swifter, and
the man went down with a bullet in his thigh.

"Talk about sniping," grinned Bart. "Those fellows will wake up
after a while to the fact that they've tackled a hornet's nest.
Even a thick German head can take in an idea sometimes."

"Especially if it's pushed in by a bullet," added Tom.

Just then a volley came from the besiegers, and a rain of bullets
buried themselves in the trees behind which the boys were

Bart gave a sharp exclamation.

"Are you hurt, Bart?" asked Frank anxiously.

"Not much, I guess," replied Bart, putting his hand to his
shoulder where the cloth had been torn away. "Just ridged the
flesh. It doesn't amount to anything."

There was a little blood issuing from the shoulder, but Frank was
relieved on examination to find that the bullet had just grazed
the flesh, breaking the skin but doing no serious damage. He put a
little ointment and lint on it and held the bandage firm with a
bit of adhesive plaster, though Bart declared that it was not
worth bothering about.

"Here they come!" cried Tom.

The besiegers had gathered themselves for a rush, and now they
came in a body toward the trees, firing as they ran.

The rifles of the Army Boys spoke, and two of their assailants
went down. The rest faltered for a moment, and in that moment
another of their number fell.

This seemed to dash the spirit of the attackers. They had
evidently counted upon the retreat of the defenders when they saw
three times their number bearing down upon them. They faltered,
then broke and ran, not this time to the nearest shelters, but
straight back to the place from which they had first started. The
accurate shooting had given them a wholesome respect for their
opponents, and their only thought was to get out of the range of
those deadly rifles.

The boys might have shot more of them as they ran, but that was
not in Frank's plan. All he wanted was to get them out of his path
so that he could get his prisoners to camp, and he wanted to do it
with as little bloodshed as possible.

"Guess they've got enough of our game," remarked Tom, as he
reloaded his rifle.

"Shouldn't wonder," replied Bart. "We called their bluff. They
thought we'd have a case of nerves when we saw them come rushing
towards us. But we've seen those fellows' backs too often to be
afraid of their faces."

The Germans continued their retreat until they had gotten to a
reasonably safe distance, and then they gathered together and
seemed to be consulting as to their next move.

Frank watched them keenly. Suddenly he saw a commotion in their
ranks, and looking in the direction to which their faces had
turned, he saw a body of men larger than the first coming over the

"Another bunch of disbanded soldiers," he muttered anxiously, as
he saw that the newcomers were Germans and had now quickened their
steps in answer to the shouts and gestures of their first
assailants. "Now we're up against it for fair."

"We didn't figure on tackling the whole German army," growled Tom.

"Our ammunition is getting low, too," remarked Bart, ruefully, as
he looked at his cartridge belt. "We'll have to make every shot
tell from now on."

"If the bullets give out, we'll light into them with our bayonets
and gun butts," gritted Frank between his teeth. "We've started to
get these prisoners to camp, and we'll get them there or die

"I know what the Germans would do if they were in our place,"
remarked Tom. "They'd stand the prisoners in front of them, so
that the other fellows would have to kill their own comrades
before they could get at them."

"I know they would," agreed Frank. "They did that in Belgium even
with women and little children. But we're human beings, and we
don't do that sort of thing."

By this time the two bodies of men had joined, and Frank estimated
that altogether they numbered more than forty.

"Ten to one," he remarked when he had finished counting, "and most
of those new arrivals have guns."

"We're in for another rush," said Bart, "and this time they won't
cave in as easily as they did before. The Germans are plucky
enough when they fight in numbers."

The Army Boys looked carefully to their rifles and loosened their
knives in their sheaths. Then by a common impulse they shook hands
all around. Nothing was said, but each knew what was in the hearts
of the others. They felt that they were in for a fight to the
death, and with the heavy odds against them it looked as though
none of them would come out alive.

But the expected rush did not come.

"Can't be that they've given it up, do you think?" asked Tom,
after five minutes had passed.

"Nothing like that," replied Frank. "They're holding a big pow-wow
about something."

As he spoke, a figure detached itself from the crowd and came
towards them, waving a white handkerchief attached to a stick.

"The white flag!" exclaimed Frank. "They're going to invite us to

"You know what Whittlesey told them in the Argonne when they tried
the same thing on the lost battalion," remarked Bart.

"We'll tell them the same thing, only a little more politely,"
Frank assured him with a grin.

The man approached until he was about fifty feet distant, and then
stood there, waving the flag and by gestures inviting the
defenders to come out and meet him.

"You're elected, Frank," laughed Billy. "Go out and let Heinie
spiel his little spiel."

Frank laid aside his rifle and stepped from behind his tree. He
walked directly toward the messenger, who lowered the makeshift
flag and stood waiting.

"What is it that you want?" Frank asked in German, when he had
come within speaking distance.

"We want you to surrender," replied the man in excellent English.

"And if we don't?" continued Frank, in his native tongue.

"Then you'll be committing suicide," answered the other promptly.

"I'm not so sure of that," replied Frank. "I suppose you'd have
said that before you made your last rush. But as you see, we're
not dead yet."

"That was different," replied the messenger. "You can see now that
we have double the number we had before and more than double the
guns. You can't possibly hold out against us."

"Maybe not," replied Frank, "but at any rate we're going to try.
If you want us, you'll have to come and take us, and even then
you'll only get our dead bodies, for we won't be taken alive."

He spoke with a decision that seemed to disconcert the man who
stood for a moment irresolute.

"Is that your last word?" he asked.

"I have only one word," replied Frank. "You heard me. Go back and
tell your comrades to come on as soon as they like. They'll find
us ready for them. But I warn you now as I warned you before that
our Government will get you--every last one of you. You may kill
us, but you'll swing for it."

He turned to go back to his friends, but the messenger still stood

"Well," said Frank, turning around, "why don't you go? Got
anything more to say?"

"Only this," returned the messenger. "My comrades will not insist
on your surrender. But we must have the prisoners. If you give
them up, you may go where you will."

"So you had that little joker in reserve, did you?" asked Frank
grimly. "Well, my answer is just the same. We've got those
prisoners, and we're going to keep them. We started to take them
into camp, and we're going to take them there. If you get them at
all, you'll get them after we're dead."

There was no mistaking the determination in his tones, and there
was a look of unwilling admiration in the eyes of the messenger as
he turned to depart.

"You are foolish," he said, "but you have had your chance. You and
your companions are doomed."

"That may be," replied Frank, "but if we are, we'll take a lot of
you along with us."

They separated and returned to their respective camps.

"Get ready now, boys, for the fight of your lives," Frank
admonished his comrades, after he had told them of what had passed
between him and the flag bearer.

"Let them come," said Bart. "We're good for a lot of them if our
bullets hold out."

"And when they're gone, we've got our bayonets," put in Tom.

"And our knives may do some damage," added Billy, as his hand
rested on the haft of his.

With every faculty alert and their eyes fixed upon their enemies,
the Army Boys waited for the expected rush.

"What are they waiting for?" muttered Tom peevishly. "Are they
getting cold feet? Or are they waiting for another gang of hoboes
to join them before they care to tackle us?"

"It isn't that," Frank answered. "They may be planning new
tactics. Their others didn't work very well."

"I believe they're going away," cried Billy, as he saw the crowd

"Guess again," returned Frank. "They're doing what I've been
afraid all along they'd try to do. They're spreading out so as to
surround us on all sides. They didn't have men enough to do that
at first, but they've got them now."

A few minutes more and they saw that Frank was right. The men were
describing a wide circle, with the evident intention of attacking
the Army Boys from all sides at once.

"That means that they'll drive us out into the open," said Frank.
"We can't be on both sides of a tree at once. Half of them at
least can take pot shots at us without our having any shelter."

"It's good dope from their point of view," remarked Tom. "We'd
better start in to discourage it right away. They think they're
out of range, but I'm going to try to prove to them that they're

His eye ran along his rifle barrel, and after taking unusually
careful aim he fired. One of the Germans threw up his hands and

"A long shot, but I got him," remarked Tom with satisfaction.

"Some shot," said Bart approvingly.

The immediate result was a widening of the circle as the others
tried to get back further out of range. But the circle kept
forming just the same, and in a quarter of an hour it was

 Then it began contracting, the foe taking advantage of every hill
and every tree to get nearer. Occasionally they would send over
some scattering shots, but in the main they held their fire until
they should get into closer quarters.

The Army Boys in the meantime had been working feverishly. The
trees were no longer to be relied on, with enemies at the back as
well as at the front. So they dug furiously into the snow, until
they had heaped it high enough all around them to form a circular

When they had finished, the top of the trench was on a level with
their eyes, so that their bodies were sheltered. But they had to
lift their heads above it as often as they sighted and fired their
rifles, and they risked getting a bullet every time they did it.

By now the enemy was creeping closer, and there was a constant
zipping of bullets around and over their heads. The boys
themselves were forced to husband their fire, because of their
scarcity of ammunition, and they wasted no bullets in merely
returning the enemy's fire. They watched their opportunities, and
wherever an arm or a head showed itself, it became a target for
their rifles. Sometimes they missed, but oftener they found their
mark, and they knew that they had put at least five of their
enemies out of the fighting. But the odds were still enormous, and
with every moment the Germans were drawing closer. Soon they would
be near enough for a concerted rush from all sides at once.

"It's coming soon now, fellows," Frank warned his comrades, "and
when it comes we want to jump out to meet it. We don't want to be
caught in this trench like rats in a trap. When I give the word,
let them have all you've got in your guns, and then we'll lay into
them with our knives and bayonets."

Several minutes passed and the enemy's fire died down. Soon it
ceased entirely and an ominous silence replaced the singing of the

"Have they run out of ammunition, do you think?" Bart asked of

"No such luck," was the answer. "They're getting ready for a rush.
On your toes now, and listen for the word."

One, two, three minutes passed. And then came the rush.

But it was not the rush that the boys had looked for!

Out from the trees with a wild cheer came tearing a squad of the
old Thirty-seventh, with Wilson at their head, and fell like an
avalanche on the foe!

The Germans were taken completely by surprise. In their
concentration on their expected prey they had failed to note the
foe approaching from the rear. There were a few scattered shots,
and then the Germans scattered and ran like so many hares in all



The Army Boys for the first instant were almost paralyzed with
surprise. In their hearts they had bidden good-bye to the world,
for they knew how slight their chances were against the odds that
menaced them.

Frank was the first to grasp the situation, and he jumped from the
trench with a wild hurrah.

"It's the old Thirty-seventh!" he yelled. "Our own boys! Come
along, fellows!"

With a whoop Bart and Tom joined him, Billy remaining to guard his
prisoners, and they plunged at once into the task of hunting down
the fugitives. A few escaped through the wood, but the great
majority of them were rounded up and placed in charge of Billy and
several aids. Aid was given to the wounded, and litters were made
for them which the prisoners were compelled to carry. There were
two killed, and these were buried where they lay.

It was only after these necessary things had been attended to that
the boys were able to get their breath and find time for
explanations with Wilson, who was delighted beyond measure to find
that apart from the trifling ridge in Bart's shoulder they were
all safe and sound.

He listened with the utmost interest and attention while they
unfolded the story of their adventures.

"It is a mighty fine piece of work you boys have done," he
remarked, after he had fully grasped the situation, "They'll be
glad at headquarters to have these conspirators under their thumb,
for they've been hearing all sorts of queer things about ructions
that are being planned in the occupied zone. So Raymond's stumble
may prove to have been a good thing after all."

"Perhaps it was," admitted Bart with a grin, "though I've been
calling myself all sorts of a boob ever since the thing happened."

"It sure has kept things from being monotonous," chuckled Billy.
"I've had a lot of things happen to me in my young life, but I
can't just now recall anything much more exciting than has taken
place since we lost you last night in the snow."

"The lieutenant was all wrought up about it," said the corporal.
"He had searching parties out for you all last night. Right after
breakfast this morning he routed us out again and told us we'd
hear from him if we came back without you."

"Well, you've got us, all right, and a nice little bunch of
prisoners in addition to prove that we haven't been loafing on the
job," laughed Frank. "But how did you come to find us?"

"It was the sound of shooting that brought us here on the double
quick," replied Wilson. "We took just one look at that circle
creeping up on you and we tumbled to the situation at once."

"You came just in the nick of time," said Bart soberly. "If you'd
been five minutes later you wouldn't have found much except our
dead bodies."

"And the old Thirty-seventh would have lost four of its best men,"
replied the corporal warmly. "But we'd better get a move on now
and hustle back to camp."

He lined up his men, and after appointing guards for the disarmed
and sullen prisoners, took up the march.

A little over an hour later the band trooped into the village
where Lieutenant Winter's detachment was stationed. News of their
coming had been carried on ahead, and they received a royal
welcome from the men, who crowded about them and grasped their
hands and pounded their backs as they made their way to

There the reception was more than cordial, and there was heartfelt
relief in the clean cut face of the lieutenant as he had the Army
Boys tell their story.

"Fine work," he commented, when they had finished. "You men are a
credit to the regiment and the army. I'll see that this is brought
to the notice of the general in command. You can go now, that is,
all but Sheldon. I'll need one of you here to check up on the
stories of the prisoners."

The others saluted and retired, and while the prisoners were sent
for the lieutenant looked over the map with great interest, asking
Frank many questions about the speech he had heard in connection
with it.

The man with the red beard simply admitted that his name was
Spatler, and then shut up like an oyster. No persuasion or threats
could bring anything out of him, and he was finally sent back to
the guardhouse to be eventually dealt with by the authorities at
Coblenz. The mark of Billy's punch was still evident in his
swollen jaw, and he shot a baleful glance at Frank as he passed by
him on the way out.

Other prisoners were questioned without result, until the German
was reached whom Frank had arrested at the point of his pistol.
All his insolence and braggadocio had vanished. He was evidently a
poltroon at heart, for he showed every evidence of being willing
to betray his comrades and tell all that he knew on condition that
his own lot would be made easier.

"This is getting interesting," smiled the lieutenant as he saw
that the man was beginning to weaken. "I guess I'll excuse you
now, Sheldon, for he'll probably talk more freely with me alone.
And as he talks English I shan't need an interpreter."

Frank saluted and went out, glad to rejoin his comrades, whom he
found regaling themselves with hot coffee and steaming "chow"
which the company cook had put before them, a pleasure in which
Frank himself promptly took part, while their comrades crowded
around them eager to hear every detail of their experiences of the
night before.

They had scarcely finished before Frank was summoned to
headquarters by a messenger. He went, expecting that something had
come up in connection with the prisoners, but was agreeably
surprised to find his old friend, Colonel Pavet, waiting for him.

The meeting was especially cordial on both sides. Colonel Pavet
had not forgotten how Frank had brought him in wounded from the
battlefield under a hail of enemy fire, and Frank on his part had
a profound gratitude to the colonel for his efforts to secure for
Mrs. Sheldon her rights in her father's property.

"So you are still at it," smiled the colonel, after greetings had
been exchanged.

"What do you mean?" asked Frank.

"Modest as usual," said the colonel. "I've been hearing all about
the little war you've been carrying on on your own account. It was
a gallant piece of work, and I congratulate you."

"Oh, that was nothing," replied Frank. "It was a job that came our
way and we had to do it. But how comes it that I see you in this
out of the way place?" he continued, in order to change the

"I have been to Berlin on a military commission for the Allies,"
replied the colonel, "and I am now on my way to Coblenz, from
which city I will go to our own bridgehead at Mayence."

"So you got to Berlin, did you?" asked Frank with interest. "It's
the place I've been wanting to get to ever since I've been in the
war. But I wanted to go in with a conquering army with bugles
blowing and drums beating and flags flying and plant the flags of
the Allies on the Kaiser's palace."

"I have shared that ambition," replied the colonel, "and there's
nothing in the world that could have kept us from doing it, if the
Germans hadn't signed the armistice just when they did. But, for
that matter, we may have to do it yet."

"Do you think so?" asked Frank with quickened interest.

"I shouldn't be surprised," was the reply. "Things are in a
terrible condition there. The Soldiers' and Workmen's Councils are
trying to take possession of the Government. There were street
riots every day that I was there. The police station was captured
by the rioters and scores of detectives and policemen were
murdered by the mob. The buildings are riddled with bullets and
cannon balls. Berlin is getting some of the punishment that is due
for her guilt in starting the war."

"I suppose that fellow Liebknecht is at the head of all this,"
remarked Frank.

"He was, but he isn't any longer," replied Colonel Pavet.

"What do you mean?" asked Frank. "Has he been arrested?"

"He's been killed," was the answer.

"How did that happen?"

"He was shot while attempting to escape from the officers who were
taking him to prison," said the colonel. "At least, that was the
explanation given. More than likely that was only a pretext. But
he is dead anyway, and so is that she-tigress, Rosa Luxemburg, who
was his partner in stirring up the mobs. They sowed the wind of
riot and massacre and now they have reaped the whirlwind."

"Well, now that they are killed I suppose things will quiet down
somewhat," remarked Frank.

The colonel shook his head.

"I don't know," he said dubiously. "The mobs will probably try to
obtain revenge for the killing of their leaders. Things look very
black, not only in Berlin but in every part of the country.
Business is paralyzed, millions are on strike, the food situation
is bad, and the whole nation is mad with the bitterness of

"How about their signing the treaty?" asked Frank. "Do you think
they will do it?"

"They say they won't," replied the colonel. "They are calling it
all kinds of names, 'the graveside of right', 'the Peace of
violence', 'the shackles of slaves' and all that kind of rot. They
swear they will never sign it. But then you have to take that talk
for what it is worth. The Germans are the greatest bluffers and
the quickest quitters in the world. There is what you Americans
call the 'yellow streak' all through the nation. They said they
wouldn't sign the armistice, but they signed it. They said they'd
never let us enter their territory, but we're here. Now they're
saying they'll never sign the Peace Treaty, but they'll probably
do it when it comes to the pinch. Outside they're tigers, but
inside they're sheep."

"Well," said Frank, "I almost wish they wouldn't. I'd rather have
the treaty signed at Berlin than at Versailles."

"Eager for more fighting with the Huns?" asked the colonel, with
an amused smile.

"Not that exactly," returned Frank. "But when I start a job I like
to finish it and finish it right."

"Well," said the colonel, "you may have all the fighting you want
right here in the Coblenz bridgehead. I heard rumors when I was in
Berlin that a movement was on foot to stir up trouble in the zone
of American occupation. Agitators were to be sent there by the
Spartacans to try to overthrow the local government and take the
reins of power. I heard that proposed myself at a street meeting
of rioters that I witnessed from the windows of my hotel. A man
with a red beard was declaiming at the top of his lungs and
predicting that if the people of Coblenz would rise under the red
flag they could sweep the hated Americans back from the Rhine."

"A man with a red beard, did you say?" asked Frank.

"Why, yes," answered the colonel, a little amused by his
earnestness. "Not that there's anything extraordinary about that,
I should suppose. There are probably thousands of men with red
beards in Berlin. Why do you ask?"

"Because," said Frank, "the man whom we captured in the ruined
castle last night and whom the lieutenant has been examining also
has a red beard. He is an agitator of the worst type, and I know
from what he said in his speech that he comes from Berlin. It may
be only a coincidence, but if so it's a singular one."

"I shouldn't wonder if you were right," said the colonel. "What is
the man's name?"

"Spatler, I think," replied Frank. "Heinrich Spatler. At any rate
that's the name he gave to the lieutenant."

"Spatler," repeated the colonel, wrinkling his brows. "It seems to
me that I saw that name on one of the banners carried by the
rioters at the meeting. It may be that you are right. If he's the
same man, he's a fanatic of the most dangerous kind and will stop
at nothing. I hope that now your people have him under lock and
key you'll keep him there. But I must go now, as I want to reach
Mayence to-night if possible. I'm very glad to have had this few
minutes' chat with you. By the way, when have you heard from
Madame Sheldon? I hope that she is well."

"I had a letter from her a week ago," replied Frank. "She is in
excellent health and full of gratitude to you for your efforts in
recovering her property. As soon as I am released from the Army of
Occupation she plans to meet me in Paris and go with me to
Auvergne. There she will have a chance to meet you and express her
thanks in person."

"I shall be charmed," replied the colonel. "I should like nothing
better than to have her settle in France permanently as a resident
of our beautiful Auvergne, but I suppose that is too much to hope
for. You have America in your blood."

"Yes," laughed Frank. "France is beautiful and great, but America
is to me above all."

"I should think less of you if it were not so," answered Colonel
Pavet. "_Au revoir,_ then. Remember me to Madame Sheldon when
you write."

With a cordial handshake they parted. The colonel vaulted into the
saddle of his horse which an orderly was holding at the door, and
Frank returned to his comrades, who he found busily preparing to
return to Coblenz, in accordance with an order that had just come
from the lieutenant.

"Why we've just got here!" objected Frank, when he heard the news.
"And now we're going back!"

"It's this way," explained Tom. "The lieutenant is anxious to get
those prisoners off his hands and safe in jail at Coblenz. It
seems that he pumped a lot of information out of one of the
fellows who gave away his comrades, and he wants headquarters to
go into the matter at once. We've been chosen among others to
guard the prisoners because we took them and we may be wanted as
witnesses. So back we go, and I'm glad of it."

"Same here," echoed Billy.

Bart and Frank looked at each other and laughed.

"'Alice, where art thou?'" quoted Bart.

"We know why you fellows want to get back to Coblenz in such a
hurry," joked Frank. "Gee, it must be awful to have such a
hankering. I will admit, however, that Alice and Helen are pretty
girls. Bless you, my children, bless you."

"Quit your kidding and get busy," admonished Billy. "We start in
half an hour."

"We'll be ready," replied Frank. "Watch our smoke."

At the appointed hour all was ready and the company set off with
their prisoners under guard. There was a strong detachment as
escort, and in addition to the men's rifles, a couple of machine
guns were taken along, as the lieutenant was taking no chances. He
had learned enough from the perusal of the papers and the
testimony of the informer to believe that serious trouble was
brewing, and he was anxious above all that the prisoners should be
safely delivered at Coblenz.

It was a beautiful winter day. The air, though cold, was still,
and the sun was shining brightly. The boys were in high spirits
and joked and laughed as they trudged along. The prisoners alone
were sullen and depressed. The man with the red beard was the only
one that maintained an air of defiant.

Suddenly, the roar of an aeroplane made itself heard, and, looking
up, the boys descried it sailing above them like a gigantic bird
and moving in the same direction in which they were traveling.
They saw at a glance that it was an American plane.

"No more need to duck for shelter when we see those things,"
laughed Billy.

"No bombs coming down to smash us into bits," exulted Bart.

"No," said Frank, "all German planes are on the ground. They can't
look for Red Cross signs and hospitals any more."

"This fellow's swooping down!" exclaimed Tom, with heightened
interest. "Maybe he's caught sight of us fellows and wants to get
a closer look."



"More likely it's engine trouble of some kind," suggested Frank,
gazing at the swooping airplane. "My, but he's a nifty driver! See
how he handles that machine!"

"Dick Lever himself couldn't do better," remarked Bart, as he
watched the graceful curves described by the aviator in his

"Good old Dick!" observed Billy. "I wonder where he is now."

The aviator was evidently aiming for a large open space a little
to the right and in advance of the moving column. Soon he had
reached it and landed as lightly as a feather.

"Wouldn't have broken a pane of glass if it had come down on it,"
observed Tom admiringly. "That fellow knows his business."

The aviator climbed out of his machine and came over toward the
column, which had just received the order for the ten minutes
rest, which, according to regulations, came at the end of every
hour of marching.

He was encased in heavy clothing and his face was almost concealed
by the fur-rimmed visor that he wore.

"Something about that fellow that looks familiar," remarked Billy.

"By the great horn spoon!" ejaculated Frank, "it's Dick Lever

"That's what," smiled the newcomer, as the boys surrounded him
and, with a yell, fell upon him.

There was no mistaking the warmth of the greeting, and Dick smiled
with gratification as he extricated himself from their grasp and
tried to shake hands with them all at once.

"What good wind blew you this way?" queried Frank.

"A mighty cold wind, as you fellows would admit if you were up
there," laughed Dick.

"You look pretty well fixed for it," commented Billy, as he took
in Dick's voluminous trappings. "A polar bear has nothing on you."

"I need every bit of it," answered Dick. "But where are you
fellows bound for, and what are you doing with these birds?" he
continued, glancing at the motley group of prisoners.

"We're taking them into Coblenz to let our people give them the
once over and the third degree," explained Frank. "They've been
trying to stir up trouble in the American zone. Cunning little
bunch, isn't it?"

"I'm glad you've got your claws on them," Dick remarked, looking
at the group with cold disfavor. "There's a whole lot more like
them that ought to be rounded up. I tell you our people have been
too easy with this breed of cattle and they're going to be sorry
for it. We're so afraid of being harsh that we go to the other
extreme. We stand up so straight that we fall over backward. The
Germans don't understand anything but force, and unless we exert
it they think we're afraid to."

"Think we're too easy?" asked Bart.  "You bet we are!" replied
Dick. "We ought to treat them as the French do at Mayence and the
British at Cologne. They know the people they're dealing with, and
while they're just, they're stern. Anyone who tries to put
anything over on them finds that he's monkeying with a buzz saw.
Unless we wake up from our easy good-nature, we'll find ourselves
with a lot of trouble on our hands."

"You seem to be rather worked up about it," remarked Billy.

"Not a bit more than I ought to be," returned Dick earnestly. "I
have chances of seeing things that you fellows don't. I'm flying
all over the occupied zone, and I tell you that the Spartacides
are trying to stir up trouble everywhere. In almost every other
town you can see the red flag flying. There's stormy weather
coming, and we've got to be prepared for gales."

"That just fits in with what Colonel Pavet of the French Army was
telling me to-day," said Frank. "He's just back from Berlin, and
he's sure there's trouble afoot."

"Well," said Dick, "I hope that we're both false prophets, but I'm
afraid we're not. I'll have to get on now, fellows."

"What did you come down for?" asked Tom. "Engine trouble?"

"No, it wasn't that," replied Dick. "The old girl is working fine.
I just saw an American bunch marching along here and dropped down
to say 'howdy.' I'm off now. See you soon in Coblenz."

With a wave of his hand, he walked over, climbed into his machine,
and started skyward.

The boys watched him soaring until his machine was only a dot in
the steel blue of the winter sky, and then, as their brief rest
period had ended, started on the march to Coblenz.

"One great boy, that Dick," remarked Frank, when the aviator was
finally lost to sight.

"You bet he is," agreed Billy emphatically. "He's one of the
greatest aces that ever climbed into a plane."

"I suppose he must be feeling rather lonely now that he isn't
bringing down his daily Hun," suggested Tom.

"He's all wool and a yard wide," affirmed Bart. "I'll never forget
that if it hadn't been for him I might never have got back to you

"Do you remember the time he swooped down with his machine guns
popping and carried us off when we were being taken to a German
prison camp?" asked Frank. "I tell you it took nerve for a fellow
to charge a whole detachment."

"Oh, he's got nerve enough for a whole regiment," declared Billy.
"He'd be a mighty handy fellow to have at your back in any kind of
scrap, and don't you forget it."

In a short time they reached the town without further adventure
and delivered their prisoners into the hands of the authorities.
They were off duty then and had no further assignment for the rest
of the afternoon and evening. The early winter dusk was settling
down, but it was yet a full hour before it would be entirely dark.

"What are you going to do with yourself, Bart?" asked Frank. "I
know of course what Tom and Billy are going to do. They're going
to make tracks for the house where their deities reside."

"Good guess," admitted Billy. "You bet we are."

"I haven't anything special on hand," replied Bart in answer to
Frank's question.

"Come along with me then," said his chum.

"Anywhere you say, what's the game?"

"I'm going straight for the alley where they nearly got our number
the other night. That thing's on my mind all the time. It haunts
me even in my sleep. I'm going to get to the bottom of that
mystery or know the reason why."

"All right. I'm with you."

By the time they had reached the alley it was almost entirely
dark. Choosing a moment when the street was empty, they slipped
into the alley and made their way toward the further end.

They felt the walls on either side as they went along for
indications of a door or opening of any kind. They did the same
with the blank wall that closed the alley at the other end.
Nothing rewarded their search. The wall at the farther end was far
too high to scale. It seemed impossible for anything except with
wings to vanish from the alley as completely as had their
assailants on that memorable night when they had so nearly lost
their lives.

"It beats me," said Bart at length. "We saw them go in and we
followed them up and they weren't there. Sounds like black magic,
doesn't it?"

"It surely does," agreed Frank, in great perplexity. "They didn't
go through the back, they couldn't go through the sides, they
couldn't go into the air, but they did go somewhere."

"Down into the ground," suggested Bart jokingly. "That seems the
only place left."

Frank started.

"There's many a true word spoken in jest," he said. "Perhaps
you've hit it, Bart. That's one place we haven't examined."

"Small chance to examine that just now," said Bart. "You can see
it's all covered with a glare of ice. There isn't a bit of ground

They walked over the ice-covered surface with scarcely a hope
under present conditions of making any discoveries, even if there
were any to make. They had to depend entirely upon the sense of
touch, for it was by this time pitch dark and Frank did not care
to flash his light for fear they might be observed by passers-by.

They had come perhaps to within twenty feet of the rear wall, when
Frank gave a sudden exclamation.



"What is it, Frank?" asked Bart Raymond in a low voice.

"My foot sank in," explained Frank. "It's softer here for some
reason than in the rest of the alley. Just wait a minute till I
can feel around here and see what I can make of it."

He felt about cautiously with his feet and found that the ice had
softened for a space of about four feet and that the space was
almost perfectly square.

"There's some reason why this spot should be different from the
rest," he said, after having verified his discovery. "It's all
open to the weather, like every other part of the alley, and
there's only one explanation. There's heat coming up from beneath.
That means that there must be an open space beneath this spot. I
wish I dared use my flashlight."

"Wait a minute," said Bart. "I'll slip out to the mouth of the
alley and see if the coast is clear. If it is, I'll give a low
whistle and then you flash your light and see what it shows you."

He left his companion, and a moment after Frank heard the signal
agreed upon.

Instantly he flashed his light on the rectangular space that had
caught his attention.

The ice had melted there to such an extent that only a thin glaze
covered the surface. Through this transparent covering Frank
Sheldon caught sight of what seemed to be the outline of a door
covered with gravel that only partially concealed it. He thought
he saw something too that faintly resembled an iron ring.

"A trap door!" he muttered under his breath, jubilant in the
thought that he had perhaps fallen upon a clue to the mystery that
had so long perplexed him.

He took out his knife and began to dig down toward the ring, when
a low whistle from the opening to the alley warned him to be on
the alert. Instantly the light was extinguished and the next
moment Bart was at his side.

"Better let up, Frank," he whispered. "There's a big commotion
down the street and a crowd is beginning to gather. I think it's a

As he spoke, a fire engine clanged down the street and an
increasingly red light made itself apparent in the sky.

"Too bad," grumbled Frank, as he put his flashlight back into his
pocket "I think I was just on the verge of finding out something
that would put us on the track of those fellows who seemed to
vanish into thin air."

"Hard luck," murmured Bart, sympathetically, "but well have to
give it up for the present."

Frank hesitated, but the increasing glare that made the alley
visible and the sound of footsteps of people hurrying to the fire
showed him that his friend was right, and he reluctantly desisted.

"To-morrow's a new day," said Bart consolingly, as the comrades
stole out of the alley and mingled with the groups of passers-by.

"If Tom and Billy can tear themselves away from the girls, we'll
bring them with us the first chance we get and try to clear up the
whole mystery," observed Frank.

But this proved more difficult than they expected, and many days
were to pass before their discovery could be followed up. There
was a sudden tightening of the military regulations, which the
boys attributed in part at least to the revelations that had
followed the examination of their prisoners. A rigorous system of
drill and training was put in force and the Army Boys' hours of
liberty were greatly curtailed in consequence. They were kept more
closely to their barracks, and their visits to the town except in
the line of duty became few and far between.

The day following Frank's discovery that company of the old
Thirty-seventh to which the boys belonged was sent on a long hike
in full marching equipment, and when they returned after several
hours they were, as Tom expressed it, "dog-tired." Nor were they
pleased to find that in the interval their quarters had been
changed and they had been assigned to another part of the

It was with sighs of relief that they eased their heavy packs from
their shoulders and dropped them thumping to the floor.

"Gosh!" exclaimed Billy, "I don't mind carrying a pack that weighs
sixty pounds or even eighty; but after a time this pack of mine
gets to weigh about two tons, and that seems just a little bit too

"You told a whole bookful that time," said Tom ruefully. "It is
surprising how those packs keep getting heavier all the time.
Another half mile, and I think the straps would have been through
my shoulders altogether."

"Well, there's no use worrying about what might have happened,"
laughed Frank, "seeing that we've arrived safe and sound. While
we're in barracks we'll be able to get three square meals a day,
and that appeals to me more, even, than getting rid of the old

Frank had hardly finished speaking when an officer approached and
called: "Attention!" Then followed roll call, and the boys,
together with a number of their comrades, were assigned to a
barracks next but one to that in which they had stopped. This, of
course, necessitated shouldering the heavy packs once more, but by
this time the boys had come to expect things like this, so took it
all as a matter of course, and soon found themselves in the
quarters that were to be theirs until the order came once more to

The barracks was furnished with rows of army cots, and the boys
dropped their packs at the heads of those assigned to them. Then
began the task of unpacking, and by the time that was completed it
was almost time for mess.

"It's lucky we got our mess kits out before mess call blew,"
commented Tom. "It would be an awful thing to get caught without
them around meal time."

"Not much danger of that," said Billy, with a mischievous twinkle
in his eye. "We've been in the army quite some time now, Tom, and
yet I can't call to mind a single time when you weren't Johnny on
the spot when the bugle blew for eats."

"Say, don't you two fellows go to starting an argument along those
lines," interrupted Bart. "When it comes to being chow hounds, I
think we're all tarred with the same brush. None of us has ever
got a call from the mess sergeant for not being on time."

"Well, perhaps you're right," admitted Tom laughingly. "And when
you get right down to it, the whole of this man's army seems to be
about the same way, so that leaves nothing for us to argue about."

Mess kits in hand, they all trooped down to the kitchen and took
their places on the line that already was of sizable length. They
wound slowly past the cooks, and in course of time the four
friends were served and fell to on a savory plate of substantial

For a short time conversation ceased, the boys giving their whole-
hearted attention to the entertainment that Uncle Sam had
provided. The food disappeared with astonishing rapidity, and when
the last of it was gone Billy exclaimed:

"Fellows, we can kick all we want to over army life, but I never
had such an appetite in civilian life, and never felt half as good
as I do right this minute."

"All right, then, since you like it," grinned Frank, "to-morrow
I'll let you carry my pack as well as your own, and then you'll
feel just twice as good as you do now."

"No, thanks," declined Billy. "I don't want to feel any better
than I do now. If I felt any better, I'd go to the medical officer
to find out what was wrong with me."

"If you ate much more, you'd have a quartermaster officer coming
around to find out what was the matter with you," countered Tom.

"The trouble with you is, that you don't understand my motives,"
complained Billy. "Personally, I dislike food, and, if I had my
way, would make a canary bird look like a heavy eater. But I feel
that it's my duty to eat a lot so that I can keep up my strength
and continue to be a terror to all Germans. Uncle Sam expects this
of me, and I refuse to disappoint him."

"Oh, well, if that's your motive, it's all right," said Tom, with
mock gravity. "But seeing you in action, it looked to me as though
you really enjoyed your grub. I hope you'll excuse my mistake."

"Oh, that's all right, please don't mention it," said Billy, with
a magnanimous wave of his hand. "I've known others to make the
same mistake, but, believe me or not, they don't always accept my
statements as you do, when I explain the true state of affairs to

"Some people are hard to convince, I suppose," replied Tom, "but I
guess I'm one of the easy ones."

"It's easier for both of you to talk than to wash mess gear
apparently," said Frank, "What do you say to canning some of that
brilliant repartee so that we can get these things out of the way
and have time for a little something else before taps blow?"

"Suits me," acquiesced Billy. "But it surely does make me feel bad
to have people think I really like to eat, and I can't seem to
rest easy until I set them right. But now, let's get these things
cleaned up in a little less than no time."

It did not take long for the boys to get their mess kits cleaned
and out of the way, and then they found themselves with a couple
of hours to spend exactly as they pleased.

"Might as well wander over toward the canteen and see what's
doing," suggested Frank, and as none of the others had anything
better to propose, they acted accordingly.

At the canteen all was life, bustle and activity, one line always
going in to purchase tobacco, candy, and such other little
comforts as were on sale, and another coming out in possession of
these valued commodities. It was hard to realize that all these
men were tried and seasoned fighters, ready to "go and get the Hun
at the drop of a hat."

"What's doing in the way of a camp entertainment to-night?" asked
Frank of one burly doughboy, who was contentedly munching a huge
piece of cake.

"I understand there's going to be a movie show," replied the
latter. "They generally have pretty good reels too, so I'd advise
you not to miss it."

"Much obliged," said Frank. "Guess we might as well take it in,
fellows, what do you say?" turning to his companions.

"Sure thing," they assented, and accordingly made their way to a
brightly lighted tent, toward which many others were going. They
arrived there only a short time before the show was to start, and
having secured good seats, settled down to enjoy it.

The scene of the picture was in the West, when it was still "wild
and woolly," and depicted many encounters between settlers and
Indians. These fights were the subject of much criticism by the
expert audience, who did not hesitate to shout words of advice at
critical situations.

"Gosh!" growled one doughboy, in deep disgust, "just one machine
gun would have cleaned up that bunch of redskins in less time than
it takes a Hun to say _'kamerad'_"

"Yes, or a few good hand grenades would have done their business
for them, too," said another. "It's too bad the old timers didn't
have a few of those modern playthings along. It would have made
things a whole lot easier for them."

"What would have been the matter with a few tankfuls of poison
gas?" suggested Bart. "Seems to me that would have made them curl
up and quit pretty quick."

There were other suggestions of the same nature, and when the
picture finally came to a close there was a general impression
that such warfare was mild indeed compared to that of the present

"I don't know how you fellows feel," remarked Frank, as they filed
out of the tent and started for their barracks, "but I feel tired
enough to crawl into my little two by four and get a real night's

"I'm with you," declared Tom. "I felt all right before, but that
picture seems to have made me tired, because now it's all I can do
to stay awake."

"I guess it must have been the picture all right," said Billy,
"because certainly it isn't because of overwork."

"Well, I didn't claim it was from overwork, did I?" replied Tom.
"I enlisted in the Army to fight Germans, not to work. All I've
had to do is march twenty or thirty miles a day with a sixty pound
pack on my back, but outside of that I must admit that I didn't do
much work, except dig trenches, do sentry duty, and kill a few
Huns as a sideline. It certainly is one grand picnic for me, I
don't mind admitting."

"Yes, and to make you like it all the more," said Billy, "I hear
that there's going to be big doings to-morrow--a review, plenty of
marching and maneuvering to give the soldiers a good time, and it
is expected a pleasant day will be had by all."

"You might know something like that would happen just when we
think we're laid up for a nice rest," grumbled Tom. "But maybe it
will rain, and then the whole thing will have to be called off."

But Tom's hope was a vain one, for the next day broke clear and
delightful, with never a suggestion of rain in the heavens.
Reveille blew at its accustomed unearthly time, according to the
soldiers' standpoint, and the boys could soon tell that something
was "in the wind" by the air of suppressed excitement on every

"Guess you were right, Billy," said Tom, who had not as yet fully
recovered from his grouch of the previous evening. "I thought when
the armistice was signed that we would be all through with this
sort of thing, but I suppose I should have known better."

"We're not through with it yet, and what's more, we won't be
through with it for some time to come," said Frank. "Remember, the
peace treaty isn't signed yet, and in Berlin they say they're not
going to sign it. And it's just a case of where we can't let up
until they do."

"As far as I'm concerned, I wish they wouldn't sign it," said
Bart. "We stopped fighting too soon, anyway. We should have kept
on until we'd carried the war on to German territory. It would do
me good to see their cities get a dose of the same medicine they
handed out to French and Belgian towns."

"There's a lot of people feel the same way," agreed Frank. "But
before we get through with them I think they'll realize that
they've got the loser's end of the proposition."

Just as Frank ceased speaking the bugle blew general assembly, and
the boys hastened to fall into ranks. The officers paced up and
down the lines, straightening them out and inspecting clothing and
equipment as they went along. Then their captain appeared on the
scene and proceeded to make them a short address.

"Men," he said, "the regiment is going to be inspected by General
Pershing to-day, and I hardly need to tell every one of you to be
right up on his toes. I know you can pass a perfect inspection,
and it's up to every man to be a credit to the regiment."

After the captain had left the officer next in charge supplemented
his word.

"You are going to be dismissed now, and will have a chance to get
thoroughly cleaned up and ready for inspection," he said. "Any man
that isn't in first class shape by the time assembly blows again
is going to find himself out of luck. Dismissed!"

Everybody saluted, and the Army Boys joined in the rush back to
the barracks. The next hour was a busy one, in which razors, combs
and brushes were applied vigorously, and the man with a complete
shoe cleaning outfit found himself suddenly popular. The scene in
the crowded washrooms resembled pandemonium let loose, but in an
incredibly short time first one man and then another emerged spic
and span, and by the time the bugle blew again there were only a
few stragglers who were caught unprepared. These last threw
themselves desperately into their uniforms, and two minutes after
the bugle sounded every man was standing in his appointed place.

Then followed the preliminary inspection, after which the command
"at ease" was given. Everybody shifted to a more comfortable
position, and prepared for the long delay that they knew would
probably ensue.

"Wonder how long it will be before the general arrives,"
speculated Frank. "It's only about half past nine now, and I don't
believe he'll get here anything like that early."

"He'll probably have lunch first," predicted Tom, gloomily.
"They've just got us out here now with the idea that standing will
make us grow."

"Aw, snap out of it," laughed Billy. "I knew a man once that died
from an in growing grouch, and likely enough the same thing will
happen to you."

"It's just like an in growing toenail, only worse," chuckled Bart.

"Can't help it," said Tom. "This sort of thing is enough to give
any one a grouch. Chances are that General Pershing has forgotten
all about us, and we'll have to stand here until we starve to

"Well, you haven't got to worry about that just yet," said Bart,
"because you haven't much more than gotten through your breakfast.

But he was interrupted by the short blast on the bugle that
signified "attention," and everybody straightened like a flash. A
big gray automobile pulled up in front of headquarters, and from
it descended the general, accompanied by officers of his staff.
Punctilious salutes were exchanged, and then the general,
accompanied by some of his officers and also those of the
regiment, passed slowly between the long files of straight-backed
soldiers. His searching glance seemed to take in everything at
once, but so thoroughly had every one prepared that even his
exacting eye could find nothing to take exception to. It was a
time of suspense for all the soldiers, as they knew that the least
detail of dress or equipment lacking or misplaced meant a visit to
the guardhouse. But the inspection passed off perfectly, as far as
the men were concerned, and soon the inspecting party turned its
attention to the barracks. The men were still held in ranks at
attention, however, as nobody knew what the next step in the day's
events would be.

Not long after the inspecting party had disappeared into the
barracks they reappeared and made their way to regimental
headquarters. Here they formed in a group, and, as far as the boys
could judge, appeared to be awaiting the arrival of some person or
persons, as they kept glancing down the road over which the
general's car had come only a short time before.

"They must be expecting some other big bugs," speculated Billy in
a whisper, keeping at the same time a wary eye on the nearest
officer. "Looks as though this were going to be a red letter day
around these diggings."

Sure enough, Billy had hardly enunciated the words when another
big military car appeared, dashing up to headquarters at high
speed and stopping with a jerk. Great was the curiosity as to whom
the last comer might be, and greater still the surprise when the
soldiers recognized the well known features of the commander-in-
chief of all the Allied armies, Marshal Foch himself!

To the boys the reason for the great marshal's presence here was
obscure, but, as usual, his movements were dictated by very
sufficient reasons. He was preparing the future movements of the
Allied armies in the event of Germany's refusal to sign the peace
treaty. Where a civilian might have said: "Oh, of course they'll
sign the treaty; what else can they do?" the man who had led the
Allies to victory had no intention of leaving the smallest thing
to chance. At present he was making an inspection of all the
Allied armies at the Rhine crossings, together with their
equipment, transportation facilities, artillery, and all the other
branches on which a successful advance would so much depend.

After a short conversation in the open, Marshal Foch and General
Pershing entered the regimental headquarters, accompanied by the
higher officers of both staffs. Meanwhile the boys had again been
given the command "at rest," which was a welcome change from the
long period of standing rigidly at attention.

After a short interval, the two generalissimos reappeared. This
time both entered the car that had brought Marshal Foch to the
scene, and the big automobile rolled off in a cloud of dust.

"Guess inspection is over now, and pretty near time, too,"
whispered Tom.

His surmise turned out to be correct, for shortly afterward the
regiment was dismissed and returned to the barracks, where shortly
afterward the midday mess was served.

But the visit of the two commanders marked the beginning of an era
of extreme bustle and activity. Numbers of tanks, both small and
large, began to make their appearance in the camp, likewise
heavily loaded ammunition wagons and lorries, big field pieces,
and all the other equipment that modern warfare has made a

Of course all this was of the greatest interest to the four Army
Boys, as to their comrades, and many were the speculations as to
its meaning.

"Looks as though the war had started again," said Bart. "There
hasn't been as much as this stirring since the armistice was

"Either that, or we're getting all ready to start again, which
seems more likely to me. But we'll probably find out soon enough,
one way or another," remarked Billy.

It was in fact the preparation of a new drive that they saw going
on about them. And this time, should it start, the drive would not
stop its easterly course until it reached Berlin. The Allied
leaders were determined to make this advance so irresistible and
conclusive that there could be no discussion afterward as to
whether the German Army really was beaten.

More men and supplies arrived constantly. Two days after the visit
of Marshal Foch and General Pershing a number of aeroplanes
arrived, and a flying field was established adjoining the main
camp. Here a number of observation balloons were continually being
tried out, and it was seldom that one was not hovering over the

"That's one thing," fellows, that we have yet to try," said Frank,
addressing his friends. "We've been in the tanks, up in
aeroplanes, and about every other place you can think of except a
'sausage' balloon. It would suit me fine to go up in one and get a
bird's-eye view of 'the Rhine, the Rhine, the German Rhine.'



"No accounting for tastes," grinned Billy Waldon, "but as for me
I'd rather have a sausage in me than to be in a sausage."

Little more was said about going up in the observation balloons at
that time, but the same evening after colors, as the four friends
all happened to be off duty at the same time, they decided to
stroll over to the aviation field, as that seemed to offer more
things of interest than any other place. As they drew near, they
saw that one of the balloons was just being inflated, and they
quickened their steps. A few hundred paces brought them alongside
the partly inflated balloon, which already was tugging strongly at
its moorings as the buoyant gas hissed into it. The observer who
was to go up in it was standing near, and seeing the interest the
boys took in the process, he bestowed a friendly grin on them.

"Thinking of going into the business?" he inquired gaily.

"Don't know but what I might some day," replied Frank, in the same
vein. "What are the inducements?"

"Well, if you happen to have any troubles on your mind, this is
pretty apt to end them all for you, once and for all. I can't give
you any testimonials from others who have used this cure, because
after they took it they weren't giving testimonials any more, but
I give you my word that it's all that I claim for it"

"Yes, but you've been up quite a few times probably, and you're
still in the land of the living so it can't be quite as bad as you
say it is," replied Frank, laughingly.

"Oh, it's safe enough now, as far as that goes," said the other.
"But when actual fighting is going on, then it's a different
matter altogether."

"Were you ever attacked while you were up?" asked Billy.

"I surely was," replied the observer. "I was up over No Man's Land
one day, right on the edge of the clouds, when suddenly a Boche
airplane came darting out of the clouds and opened on me with his
machine gun before I knew what had happened. Just by luck, I
didn't get hit, but the bullets tore big holes in the balloon and
it started to drop fast. I had time to jump clear with my
parachute though, and landed without a scratch not a hundred feet
from the wreckage of my balloon."

"You were pretty lucky, at that," observed Billy.

"You bet I was!" assented the other. "Another time I had to jump
for it, too; only this time the balloon caught fire from some
incendiary bullets fired at it. After I jumped the parachute was
mighty slow in acting, and I dropped two thirds of the way before
it finally took hold. I gave myself up for lost that time, and, as
it was, I landed so hard that my left leg was broken, but even at
that I wasn't doing much kicking."

"No, you wouldn't, with a leg broken," observed Billy slyly.

"That's one on me," conceded the observer, with a laugh. "At the
time, though, I couldn't see much humor in it. Take it altogether,
I guess a balloon will give a man his fair share of thrills."

"Gosh! I'd like to try it once," said Frank, longingly.

"If you'd really like to try it so much, I don't know but what I
can arrange it for you," said the observer slowly. "The trouble
is, though, that I can take only two of you, because I have only
two extra parachutes."

"We're not apt to need them, are we?" asked Frank.

"Oh, of course, the chances are that we won't, seeing that we
won't be attacked now by a hostile machine, as we would likely
have been a few months ago," responded the other. "Just the same,
it's always possible for accidents to happen, and so I'll have to
limit it to two passengers, although I'd like to take you all up."

"You and Bart go, Frank," said Billy. "Tom and I will come around
some other time, and then maybe we'll get a chance."

"Well, if you and Tom don't mind, I guess we will," said Frank,
and with the words he and Bart stepped into the car of the
balloon, followed by the observer.

"I'm afraid you'll find it rather tame," said the latter. "It's
not nearly as exciting as you might think when looking at it from
the ground."

By this time the balloon was fully inflated, and the observer gave
the sign to the man in charge of the windlass to let the big gas
bag rise. The windlass man released the brake on the big drum, and
the balloon shot upward with a speed that took the breath away
from the two passengers. Up they shot until they had attained an
altitude of about five hundred feet, after which the windlass man
checked their further progress.

The boys exclaimed aloud over the wonderful sight that met their
eyes. Mile upon mile the smiling Rhine countryside stretched away
on every side. The picturesque Rhine, bordered by its ruined
castles, was visible for many miles.

"Isn't that a wonderful sight?" demanded Bart. "Why, from up here
it seems as though we should almost be able to see Berlin."

"From the way things look now," observed their newly found friend
grimly, "we'll all see Berlin pretty soon, and we won't have to go
up in balloons to see it, either."

"Right you are!" acquiesced Bart. "And I'd be one happy little
soldier if I knew that we were going to start to-morrow."

While the foregoing dialogue had been going on Frank had been
taking in the view, but now he turned to the observer.

"Seems to me it looks pretty black over in the west," he remarked.
"I think we're going to have a storm."

The observer glanced quickly in the direction indicated, and then
jumped for his telephone.

"Pull her down, Dan!" he called. "Pull her down quick! There's a
big storm coming our way, and coming mighty fast, too."

The boys could feel the tug of the cable as it tightened in
response to the starting of the windlass, but before the balloon
had descended a hundred feet the storm was upon them. A mighty
blast roared about the frail balloon, jerking it here and there in
such a violent manner that the boys were nearly thrown out. The
captive balloon tore madly at its moorings, and seemed like some
wild thing struggling to be free.

"We're in for it now," yelled Dunton, the observer. "She won't
stand much more of this, and if she breaks away, it's the
parachutes for us."

Even as he spoke a specially vicious blast tore madly at the
balloon, and the occupants heard a ripping, tearing sound. A
second later the big "sausage" leaped upward, and the boys did not
need to be told that it had broken free from its moorings.

"Get hold of the parachutes!" yelled Dunton, "but don't jump yet.
This wind is too strong, but if it dies down a little we'll have
to risk it."

They were traveling at a terrific rate before the wind, and
mounting steadily higher. Instead of abating, the wind seemed
momentarily to increase in violence, and the balloon made
increasingly heavier weather of it. It was only a matter of time
when the wind would rip it to pieces, and this catastrophe was not
long in coming. There was a sound of ripping cloth, and the next
moment the balloon began to drop rapidly. This left its passengers
no alternative but to take to their parachutes, as to remain
longer with the balloon spelled sure death, and they had a bare
chance for life if they jumped.

Grasping the hand-holds of the big white parachutes, the three
youths climbed to the edge of the basket, poised for a second, and
then leaped off into space.

For seconds the Army Boys experienced a terrible series of
sensations as they dropped with the speed of light toward the
uprushing earth. The wind roared and whistled in their ears, and
they both thought the parachutes would never open in time to
prevent their being dashed to atoms on the ground. But when they
were less than two hundred feet from the ground, each felt a
sudden checking of the plummet-like drop and knew that the
parachutes had at last taken hold. Slower and more slowly they
went, as the parachutes gathered the air in their silken folds.
But still the boys were not safe, for the strong wind tore at the
parachutes and threatened at any moment to tear them loose. But at
last Frank landed, with considerable of a shock, to be sure, but
free of serious injury. His first thought was of his companions,
and especially of Bart.

By great good fortune, Frank had landed clear of a river, although
within a hundred feet of the bank. Looking in that direction, he
was horrified to see Bart in the water, struggling amid the
envelope and ropes of the parachute. He was so badly entangled
that it was almost impossible for him to swim, and already his
efforts were growing weaker.

Leaping to his feet, Frank rushed toward the stream, calling words
of encouragement to his friend as he went.

"Hold up, Bart!" he yelled, "I'll be with you in a minute."

Reaching the river bank, he paused only long enough to kick off
his shoes, and then plunged in to the rescue of his friend. With
powerful strokes he plowed through the water, and was soon
alongside Bart, who by this time was in sore straits. Frank drew
his knife, and with a few swift strokes cut away the wreckage of
the parachute in which Bart was entangled.

"Thanks, old man," gasped the latter. "You came just in the nick
of time, this time. Two minutes more, and I'd have been done for."

"Thank Heaven I did get here in time," said Frank fervently. "Just
rest your hand on my shoulder, Bart, and I'll tow you to shore.
It's lucky this river isn't as wide as the old Hudson, isn't it?"

Fortunately Frank was a powerful swimmer, and it did not take him
long to reach the bank. He and Bart crawled up to dry land, and
threw themselves panting on the ground to recover from their late
misadventures. But a moment later, Frank was on his feet once

"I forgot all about Dunton, the observer!" he exclaimed. "He may
have landed in the river, too, or he may be injured and in need of
help. Do you feel fit enough to help me look for him, Bart?"

"Oh, I'm as good as ever now," said Bart, with an attempt at a
grin. "Guess I must have been born to be hung, because I don't
seem to be able to get myself killed by any other method."

The boys set out on their quest, and were soon delighted to see
the observer himself limping toward them. The latter caught sight
of them at the same time, and waved his hand to them.

"Gosh, but I'm glad to see you!" he exclaimed, when they came
within speaking distance. "I was afraid you'd both gone under, and
if you had I'd never have forgiven myself for taking you up with

"We were just starting out to look for you," said Frank. "Where
did you land?"

"In a good soft place," said the other. "The branches of a big
tree. My ankle caught in a branch and got wrenched a little, but
otherwise I'm O.K."

"I landed in the river, and Frank had to fish me out," said Bart.
"But now that we're all safe, I'm beginning to wonder just where
we are. The storm seems to be over, and I guess it's up to us to
get back to camp as soon as possible, or they'll have us down as

"I'm not sure just where we are," responded Dunton, "but I hope we
haven't landed among the Huns. They'd like nothing better than a
chance to put us out of the way."

"Well, all we've got to do to get back is follow the river down,"
said Frank. "Let's go."

Following Frank's suggestion, they had not gone more than half a
mile when, to their great satisfaction, they caught sight of an
American sentry walking his post.

"Good!" exclaimed Dunton. "That means that we're still in the
occupied zone. We'll just ask this bird where we are."

Inquiring of the sentry, they learned that they had landed at
Montabaur, which was on the very edge of the zone occupied by the
American Army. The sentry gave them directions as to the best way
to reach camp. They arrived there without further mishap, and
separated, the two friends hastening to their barracks, and Dunton
to his headquarters to make a report on the loss of the balloon.

Great was the joy of Tom and Billy at seeing their comrades safe
and sound, as they had been under intense anxiety concerning them.

"But we might have known better than to have worried about you,"
said Billy finally, after he and Tom had heard the story of their
adventure. "I had a hunch all along that you'd both come piking
along sometime to-night or to-morrow, and after this, I refuse to
worry in any degree about you. It serves you right, anyway, for
going up without us."

"Well, in the future, you can go up without me all you want to,"
laughed Frank. "How about it, Bart?"

"You said it," acquiesced Bart heartily. "I'm off that parachute
stuff for all time. I know when I've had enough, and this is one
of the times."

"The way it looks around here," said Billy soberly, "it isn't
going to be necessary to go up in the air to find excitement. All
the evening we've been hearing reports of big riots going on in
Coblenz, and everybody says we're likely to be called out to-
morrow to do a little suppressing act."



For once rumor had not overstated things. The most turbulent
rioting the city had ever seen started the next day, and, in spite
of all the efforts of the authorities, seemed to increase in
intensity as the day wore on. The German authorities seemed to be
utterly helpless to cope with the situation, and finally the
American troops had to be called upon to quell the disturbances.

"What did I tell you?" exclaimed Billy, when the order came
through to get under arms. "We're in for a nice little shindy now,
as sure as guns. But as far as I'm concerned, I'm glad of a chance
to teach these Huns how to behave. The trouble with us is, we're
entirely too easy with them."

"Yes, we're not half as strict as we ought to be," assented Frank.
"But the more monkey business they try, the tighter the lid is
going to be clamped down, as they'll find to their cost."

But in point of fact, the rioting was not so much against the
American authorities as it was against the German authorities who
were operating under the protection and direction of the

But it was all one to the boys, as all they cared about was the
prospect of some pleasurable excitement. And more excitement was
brewing for them than they anticipated, for this was by far the
most serious riot that had occurred since they had entered German
territory, and was one not easily to be suppressed.

The regiment was not long in getting ready, and was soon swinging
out of camp, headed toward the rebellious city. As the soldiers
approached it, they could hear the sound of rifle firing, mingled
with the sharper sound of machine gun fire.

"Something doing, all right," said Bart, as they swung rapidly
along. "Sounds as though some one were getting trouble, and plenty
of it, and I'm willing to bet the Heinies are getting the worst
end of it."

"You can bet they are," agreed Billy. "And just wait till this
bunch of bad men gets after them. It begins to seem like old times

"Right you are," said Tom. "And whatever's going to happen, it
will be pretty soon, because we're getting close."

By this time they were indeed on the outskirts of the town, and
before long were swinging down one of the main streets, the noise
of rifle firing and shouting growing steadily louder as they
progressed. At first few people were to be seen, although here and
there an anxious face peered out of an upper window.

But as they penetrated further into the heart of the city, they
encountered hurrying and shouting knots of men, who, however,
hastily changed their direction when they caught sight of the
businesslike appearance of the Americans.

Suddenly Billy caught sight of a face at an upper window that
seemed familiar.

"There's the fellow that tried to strike the lame man the day you
took his cane away from him, Frank!" he exclaimed.

Frank looked in the direction that Billy indicated just as the man
was hastily withdrawing behind a curtain.

"Couldn't see much of him, but it did look something like him," he
remarked. "But I shouldn't be surprised to find him mixed up in
this trouble. He's the kind that would be in the thick of it."

Just then there was a flash from the window and a bullet whizzed
by the Army Boys and flattened against the wall on the other side
of the street.

"I'll bet that was aimed at you, Frank!" exclaimed Bart. "That
fellow's a bad shot but he has a good memory."

The shot was quickly followed by others from windows and roofs,
but fortunately, the snipers were in too much of a hurry to take
effective aim, and their bullets did little damage at first.

But as the Americans marched on, they encountered constantly
increasing opposition. Several of the soldiers had been wounded by
the time they had reached the thick of the disturbance. When they
turned a corner into one of the main streets of the town they
found that a barricade had been erected across it, and this
barricade was being held by a small force of Americans, who,
hemmed in on every side by Germans, were finding it a hard task to
hold out against tremendously heavy odds. But the advent of
reinforcements turned the tide of battle for the time being, and
the mob quickly took to its heels and left the Americans a brief
breathing space.

The new arrivals were welcomed lustily, and soon found themselves
within the barricades, where they commenced a brisk fire against
their unseen enemies on roof and at window, who still kept up a
scattering fire. Meanwhile, the leaders held a brief consultation
to decide their immediate course of action.

It was decided to dispatch small bodies of men, as many as could
be spared, to clean up the adjacent streets, and so prevent the
rioters from massing again.

The four Army Boys, together with twelve of their company, two
squads in all, found themselves detailed to a narrow street, and
they soon found that their task was going to prove no sinecure.
The street was very narrow, bordered by tall, peaked houses, and
every house seemed to shelter two or three riflemen. It was only
occasionally that the Americans could see their opponents, but
when a German did venture to expose himself for a moment, his slip
almost invariably proved fatal, as the American rifles spoke with
deadly effect. But the Americans were at a terrible disadvantage,
and the sergeant in charge saw this and acted accordingly.

"Break up into groups," he ordered, "part on one side of the
street and part on the other, and go from house to house. Clean
them out thoroughly, and show no mercy to anybody you find with a
rifle in his hand. We'll assemble again at the end of this

This plan was put into immediate operation. The four Army Boys
were together. With their rifle butts they battered in the doors
of houses, then fought their way up to the roofs against the most
treacherous opposition. Again and again one or the other escaped
death by what seemed a miracle, and they saw to it that the Huns
paid the price for these attacks. The second house that they
entered was a large one, and seemed a veritable maze of rooms, for
each one of which they had to fight to gain possession. As they
reached the foot of the stairway leading up to the top story, they
saw three burly Germans at the top, rifles in hand, evidently
prepared to stop the hated Americans at any cost.

"Surrender!" shouted Frank.

For answer, one of the Germans, who appeared to be the leader,
leveled his rifle at Frank's head, but before he could pull the
trigger, Bart's big automatic pistol spoke once, and the German
swayed, stumbled, and came crashing down the staircase.

"Now's the time, fellows!" yelled Frank, as he saw the remaining
two Germans hesitate after the fall of their leader. "Let's get
'em and get 'em quick! Treat them rough!" As he spoke all the boys
leaped up the staircase, firing as they mounted.

But before they could reach the top reinforcements arrived for the
Huns in the shape of three others of their countrymen. Nothing
daunted, the Army Boys rushed on. As they fired one German fell,
but the others presented a determined front, although their aim
was bad, and so far none of the boys had been seriously wounded,
although both Tom and Frank had been grazed by flying bullets. In
a few more steps they were among the Germans, and then ensued a
fierce hand to hand fight on the narrow landing. The Germans
proved themselves no mean antagonists, and for a few minutes there
was a wild medley of blows and shouts. The boys fought
desperately, and slowly forced their antagonists back against a
light balustrade that guarded the stair well.

Suddenly there was a sharp snapping sound, the frail railing gave
way, and with wild shouts and oaths the Germans hurtled over the
edge for a sheer drop of three stories.

So suddenly did this happen, that the boys had the greatest
difficulty in preventing themselves from following, but they
recovered in time, and peered over. Three of their late enemies
lay still as they had fallen, but the fourth showed some signs of

"Whew!" ejaculated Frank, wiping the sweat from his eyes, "we had
it hot and heavy here for a time, didn't we?"

"I should say we did!" exclaimed Bart. "But that railing was a
good friend to us. I hate Germans, but I've got to admit that
those birds knew the rudiments of close-in fighting."

"Well, they're done for now," said Billy, "and it looks as though
we had cleaned this house up pretty thoroughly. If we have this
much trouble in every house we tackle, I can see where we've got
our work cut out for us."

"I think maybe it would be better to go up to the top of this
house," said Frank, and then enter the adjoining one from the
roof. Anybody in it will be expecting an attack from the street,
and going in that way we may be able to take them by surprise."

"That's a good idea" exclaimed Bart. "Lead on, old timer."

Frank's plan proved to be a good one. They met with no further
opposition while mounting to the roof, and once there, they
located the scuttle leading into the next house. Fortunately this
was not fastened, those in the house probably having left it
unlocked with the idea in mind of facilitating their own escape.

As Frank Sheldon deduced, they had not considered the possibility
of an attack from above.

Opening the trap door, the four friends descended the short length
of ladder that led perpendicularly downward. So far they had heard
no sound to apprise them of the presence of a lurking enemy, and
they began to think that possibly the house was deserted. Then
stopping and listening intently, they heard the muffled sound of
voices, apparently coming from the floor below.

Here was something of a problem presented to the boys, for they
had no orders, nor indeed, desire, to molest those peaceably
inclined, and were only after revolutionists and rioters who were
doing the sniping work. But their doubts were soon set at rest.
From the front of the house came the sharp sound of rifle firing,
and the boys hastened in that direction. On the second floor they
burst into the large front room, taking completely by surprise a
group of some four or five men who were sulking in the shelter of
the windows. As the boys burst into the room they whirled about,
only to find themselves looking into the muzzles of four vicious
looking army pistols.

"Drop those guns and put up your hands," commanded Frank. All
obeyed but one man, who raised his rifle to his shoulder. Before
he could pull the trigger a spurt of fire flashed from Frank's
pistol, and the man sagged slowly to the floor.

"Downstairs with the rest of you!" ordered Frank, at the same time
motioning toward the stairway. "We can't do much with these men
except disarm them," he said in an aside to his companions, as the
Germans sullenly prepared to obey. "We've got to clean out this
house and a lot of others, and we haven't got enough men to guard
prisoners. You break up their rifles, Tom, and then rejoin us in
the street."

They herded the Germans downstairs, and at the street entrance
propelled them forth with a few hearty kicks. This pleasurable
duty had hardly been performed when they were rejoined by Tom, who
had smashed the German rifles over the window sills, putting them
very effectively out of commission.

Meanwhile, the other parties had been doing good work, and the
sniping had to a great extent died down. The boys entered the next
house, but met with no opposition, and when they reached the top
story an open scuttle giving on to the roof told its own story of
flight on the part of the occupants. They went through several
houses in this fashion, but when they neared the end of the block
resistance began to stiffen. Across the end of the street was a
house that commanded it absolutely, and this seemed to have been
chosen by the rioters as a last stand. From every window and from
the roof snipers were busy, and were inflicting serious damage on
the Americans. Already three had been killed, and as many more
wounded. The sergeant marshaled the slender force remaining to

"Boys," he said, "we've got to clean out that hornet's nest, and
then I think we'll have things pretty much in our own hands. We'll
rush it now, and be sure that every man hangs close to the others,
because if we become separated we're done for. Now, all together,
and let them have it plenty!"

With these the little force of intrepid Americans rushed for the
door of this last remaining stronghold. The door was of course
locked, but when half a dozen vigorous young Americans charged it
like so many battering rams, it gave way, and the soldiers surged
forward into a large hallway. A wide staircase led upward from one
side of this hall, and from an upper landing a spiteful rain of
bullets zipped about the Americans. One fell, but the others, led
by the big sergeant, rushed up the staircase, emptying their
pistols as they went. The resistance met here was the most solid
they had encountered that day, and they soon found that they had
their work cut out for them.

When they reached the landing and engaged in hand to hand work
with the Germans, other doors giving on the landing opened, and
more rioters appeared to give aid to their companions. For a time
the fight seemed to be in favor of the Germans, as their number
told, and then in favor of the Americans, who had the advantage of
discipline and team work on their side. Two more of their number
had fallen, however, and the remaining Americans fought with the
fury of desperation added to their usual dauntless courage. They
took merciless toll of German lives, and at last the rioters,
astonished and dismayed at their own losses, began to give way.
Suddenly they were seized by panic, and to a man turned and fled
through a long hall that ran the length of the house.

"Keep after them, boys," panted Sergeant Dan. "Don't give them a
chance to recover themselves. We've got 'em on the run now, and we
want to keep 'em that way."

The Americans followed the rioters down the passageway, reloading
their weapons as they ran. At the end of the hall a sharp turn
gave access to another stairway, and up this the Germans rushed in
headlong flight, the Americans close on their heels. Another and
last flight of stairs took them up to the roof, and this once
reached, they broke and ran in every direction, some disappearing
through the roof-scuttles of adjoining buildings, and others
hiding behind chimneys and other roof structures.

The Americans paused for breath and consultation, and Sergeant Dan
walked to the edge of the roof nearest the street and peered over.

"Guess our job's done for the present," he said, when he returned
to his command. "Everything seems quiet in the street below, and
there's not a soul in sight. Now let's take stock of damages, and
then we'll hike back to the rendezvous."

As the soldiers were taking stock of each other, a sudden fear
gripped at Frank's heart, and he exclaimed:

"Tom! Where's Tom?"

Billy and Bart gazed at him and at each other in dismay.

"He was with us when we attacked this house," said Billy. "I
remember he was right alongside of me when we bumped that door,
and we landed on the floor together when it gave way. But that's
the last I remember of seeing him."

Neither of the others had any later recollection of their friend's

"He may be downstairs wounded," said Frank. "Come on, fellows,
we've got to find him," and forgetful of military discipline in
their anxiety over their friend, the three comrades dashed through
the door leading into the building.

"We'll all go down," said the sergeant. "Some of our fellows have
taken the last count, but others are only wounded, and we want to
get them to a hospital just as soon as we can."

Frank, Bart, and Billy made a frantic search of the building, but
found no trace of their missing friend.

"He may have been badly wounded but have been able to make his way
to the street where he would be picked up and taken to a
hospital," speculated Frank. "Or it's possible that he has been
captured," he added. "As soon as we have reported back to
headquarters with our detachment, we'll try to get permission to
make a search of the hospitals and see if we can't find him

There was little else they could do, so with heavy hearts they
rejoined their companions who had rigged rude stretchers for two
of their wounded comrades and were making ready to march back to

The sergeant knew of the attachment existing between the four
friends, and sympathized with the grief of the three remaining
over the loss of their comrade.

"The chances are," he said, "that Bradford has been captured by
the rioters, and the military police will find out where he is and
get hold of him. Remember that an American soldier takes a lot of
killing before he's actually dead."

But the boys marched in gloomy silence, and their hearts were sad
for their friend.

The rioting had been effectually quelled, and the streets were
once more quiet. The little party soon reached their headquarters,
where the sergeant made his report. The boys could hardly control
their impatience until the time came when they were off duty. They
immediately secured permission to make inquiries at the hospitals
which were taking care of the casualties sustained during the
rioting. There were three of these, and each of the boys went to a
different one, agreeing to meet in a designated place as soon as
they had completed their inquiries. An hour later they assembled
as they had agreed, only to learn that so far their search had
been fruitless.

"The only thing left for us to do," said Frank, "is to go back to
the barracks, where maybe by this time they will have posted a
list of the casualties. If Tom's name is not there well be pretty
sure that he's been captured, and it will be up to us to try to
find him."

Returning to the barracks as Frank had proposed, they found that a
list was posted on the company bulletin board, and carefully
scanned it for Tom's name, while fear tugged at their hearts.

Great was their relief when they failed to find it, for if he were
only a prisoner the chances were that the authorities would get
him back, or that the boys themselves might ferret out the place
where he was being held and rescue him.

"Well," said Bart, as the boys turned away from the bulletin
board, "there's not much we can do for poor Tom to-night, but if
he's a prisoner we'll get word from him sooner or later."

"If he's a prisoner, I'd hate to be the man who has him in
charge," remarked Billy grimly. "Something pretty terrible is apt
to happen to that bird most any time."

"Yes, chances are he'll come marching into camp with a few
prisoners on his own account." said Frank. "That is, if he doesn't
catch this new disease they're talking about,"

"What disease?" asked Billy. "I hadn't heard anything about it."

"Nobody seems to know very much about it," replied Frank. "It has
appeared at various places in Germany, especially in the occupied
zones. It seems to have attacked Germans as well as Americans, and
nobody knows what to make of it. Of course, remember I'm only
telling you what another fellow told me recently, and I give it to
you for what it's worth. It may be just rumor, but he seemed to be
so certain of his facts that I felt inclined to believe him."

As it happened, what Frank had heard as a rumor was indeed a fact--
and a fact, moreover, that was proving most puzzling and
unpleasant for the American medical authorities. The disease that
Frank had spoken of had indeed made its appearance in various
parts of the country, and while the doctors had many theories
concerning it, they were all only theories as yet, and nothing
really definite was known regarding it. The symptoms were much
like those of virulent typhus. Men sickened and died within forty-
eight hours, and once stricken, the unfortunate victim did not
recover in one case out of a hundred.

Some of the doctors were inclined to think it one of the plagues
that usually follow in the track of war, due to privation and
depression. This theory, however, did not explain why American
troops, well fed and victorious, should be affected. Most believed
it to be caused by some deadly germ, hitherto unknown, and every
effort was being made by the medical corps to isolate the germ and
find a remedy for the disease. But the Army Boys were to know more
of the source of this strange scourge and make a most amazing
discovery regarding it.



On the day following that of Tom Bradford's disappearance, Bart
and Billy were assigned to special duty as part of an officers'
escort on a mission to a neighboring town.

After they had left Frank found himself very lonely, especially as
he had an afternoon off duty. Mingled with his thoughts of the
missing Tom was the thought that had constantly haunted his mind
of late--the unsolved mystery of the alley up which hostile
Germans could flit and apparently disappear into thin air. He knew
there must be some explanation of the mystery, but what was it? He
racked his brains to find a plausible solution. But the more he
thought about it, the more uncertain he became, until at last he
came to a resolution.

"Here I am," he thought, "racking my wits over this matter, and
about all I do is just guess work, after all. The best thing I can
do is get permission to go to the town, find that alley and see if
I can't run across some clue that was lacking the last time I was

Having reached this resolve, he lost no time in acting on it, and
readily securing the desired permission, he set off for the town.
This he soon reached, and walked at a smart pace through the
quaint, well-kept streets.

Going along one broad avenue he came suddenly face to face with
the man from whom he had taken away the cane, whom he had since
learned was a famous German physician, a well known character
throughout the war. The latter, however, was so preoccupied that
he took no notice of Frank. His thoughts, whatever they were,
appeared to be pleasant, for as he walked he smiled to himself and
softly rubbed his hands together, as one well pleased with the
course of events.

"The old codger seems mightily pleased over something," mused
Frank, "and I'm willing to bet a reasonable amount it isn't over
any schemes for the betterment of mankind. I may do him an
injustice, but I don't think his genial Hun nature is inclined
exactly in that direction."

He gave little further thought to the chance meeting, his mind
being busied with speculations as to what he might find in the
mysterious alley. The weather was very mild, and he knew the sheet
of ice and snow that had covered the ground on his previous visit
would not now exist to baffle him. But he did not want to enter
the alley until darkness had fallen to offer him concealment, so
abated his usual brisk pace to a mere saunter, and took careful
note of the attitude of the people he passed. The streets were
quiet enough, but the faces of the inhabitants were sullen and
hostile, and Frank could read enmity in the glances cast at him.

"They love the Americans about as much as they love sunstroke," he
meditated. "But it doesn't matter much what they like, because
they'll take just what's handed to them. But it's the lower
elements and the revolutionists who are making most of the
trouble, and I'm a lot mistaken if their headquarters aren't in
the neighborhood of that blind alley. Well, anyway, I'll know more
about it when I get through my privately conducted explorations
this evening."

He stopped in a small restaurant and ordered a light meal. By the
time he had finished this it was nearly dark, and he set out for
his objective without further delay.

He shortly reached the entrance to the alley, and, after casting a
searching glance about him to make sure that he was unobserved, he
slipped cautiously into the place.

"It ought to be a lot easier for me to locate that trap door now
than it was when I was here with Bart," he thought. "There's no
ice now, and if there is a door, I'll be bound to find it."

He proceeded cautiously up the alley, taking every precaution to
avoid noise, and soon reached the blank wall that had so baffled
him and his friends on a previous occasion. He drew a flashlight
from his pocket, and when he thought he was close to the place
where he and Bart had previously located the door he cautiously
played the tiny spot of light over the ground. At first he thought
he must be mistaken, as this part of the alley seemed to be like
all the rest. But, looking closer, his heart leaped as he made out
the outline of a heavy iron ring, lying flat in a recess in the
pavement, and almost covered with gravel and dust. So cunningly
was it concealed that it would inevitably have escaped observation
unless one were actually looking for it.

"There's a trap door here, all right," he exulted. "Now, I wonder
if I can get in, or if it will be fastened from the inside. Here
goes to find out."

With the thought, he worked the iron ring loose from the dirt, set
himself for the effort, and gave a tentative tug. The door did not
give a particle, and he tried again, this time putting every ounce
of his strength into the effort. The door gave a little, but with
all his strength Frank could not lift it more than an inch or two.
He tried again and again, but with no better result, and at last,
to his great disappointment he was forced to give over the attempt
for the time being.

"Guess this is more than a one-man job," he thought to himself.
"What I'll have to do is to bring Bart and Billy here to-morrow
night, and I think the three of us can lift the door easily. I've
made one big step, anyway, for now I know there is really a trap
door here, and before we weren't sure of it."

He pressed the iron ring down into its socket, scattered some
earth and gravel over it, and at last satisfied that he had left
everything as he had found it and in such a condition as not to
arouse suspicion if the secret entrance was used by one of the
plotters before he could return, he turned his footsteps toward



Frank was now convinced that he and his comrades had really
chanced on a big secret, and he was eager to get them and get to
the heart of the matter. He was greatly disappointed that he had
been unable to follow up the adventure that very evening, but with
a soldier's philosophy promised himself better luck the next time,
and swung off toward camp with a stride that soon brought him to
his destination.

But the Army Boy's plan for an immediate further investigation of
the mysterious alley was destined to have a further setback, for
the next day great aeroplane activity started all over the
American front, and it was announced that nobody would be given
leave to visit Coblenz until further notice. It seemed that
reports had been received at general headquarters that the
rioters, driven out of Coblenz, were gathering in smaller towns
throughout the occupied area, and making demonstrations and
inflammatory speeches against the American "invaders."

Many aviators were detailed to fly over all the neighboring
territory and get information of the movements and numbers of the
rioters, so that troops could be sent to the threatened points and
suppress the uprisings before they assumed serious proportions.

Among the aviators detailed to this work was Dick Lever, and on
his return from one of these excursions he sought out his Army Boy
friends. For a considerable time he had been detailed to other
parts of the occupied territory, but now his headquarters were
temporarily near the barracks in which the boys were situated.

So it happened that one evening as Frank, Bart, and Billy were
strolling toward the canteen, they were both surprised and
delighted to espy the long, athletic figure of their friend. Dick
was no less glad to see them, and everybody for some distance
around was apprised of the fact that old comrades had met once

"But where's Tom?" inquired Dick, after the first burst of
enthusiasm was over. "I'm so used to seeing you fellows as a
quartette that your sweet voices don't sound exactly correct as a

The faces of all the boys lengthened at this allusion to their
missing friend, and in a few words they explained to Dick the
circumstances of his sudden disappearance.

"By Jove!" exclaimed Dick excitedly, when they had finished, "I
wouldn't be a bit surprised if I could put you on his trail."

"What do you mean?" chorused the boys.

"Now, don't get excited," said Dick. "What I'm going to tell you
may not be of the least importance after all. It's just this.
While I was reconnoitering over the various camps of the
revolutionists, in one of them I was sure I saw a man in an
American Army uniform. I was too far up to recognize him even if I
had known him, and it might be any American prisoner other than
Tom, or it might be a German dressed in an American uniform for
spying purposes. Anyway, if I hadn't been under special rush
orders to return as soon as possible, I would have gone down and
maybe attempted a rescue, but I had to get back immediately with
my information, so couldn't take any chances."

"But can you give us any idea of the direction of the camp where
you saw this man?" inquired Frank. "If we had the least idea where
to look for him, you can bet we'd get him away from those renegade
Germans, and likely hurt anybody that got in the way, too."

"I'd hate to be the obstacle, myself," grinned Dick. "But, to get
down to business, I can give you a rough idea of the direction and
distance, and in addition, I guess I don't have to tell you that
if there's anything I can do to help, you can count on me to the

The three boys and Dick shook hands all around as they accepted
this offer, and on the spot organized as a committee of ways and
means to rescue their missing comrade. Dick could only tell them
approximately where he had seen the man in American uniform, and
the Spartacides changed their camps so often in order to escape
detection and capture that even this information was of rather
doubtful value.

"The best thing I can suggest is this," said Dick, at last. "I've
been detailed to try out some new aeroplanes to-morrow, and as
long as I take them up and fly them, it doesn't much matter what
direction I go in, provided I don't go too far. Now, what's to
prevent me from flying a few miles in the direction I last saw
this particular bunch of revolutionists, and taking a chance on
finding out something more?"

"We'll appreciate anything you can do in that direction," said
Frank. "You've given us a clue now, at any rate, and you can bet
we won't be slow in following it up. It's going to be some problem
to get hold of him, but we've solved as hard ones before now, and
I guess we won't let this stump us."

"You told it!" said Bart emphatically. "If the Germans couldn't
get one of us while the war was on, it's a cinch they won't be
able to now when it's all over. If old Tom's alive, we'll rescue
him some way."

Dick Lever described the location of the Spartacides' camp with as
much exactness as he could, and even drew a rough map of the
surrounding country, marking the place where he had seen the
American prisoner with a cross.

The boys thanked him heartily, and then walked back to his section
of the camp, as it was getting close to the time for taps, and
Dick had to be back at his quarters by then. On the way they
talked over old times, and Dick promised to visit them again at
the first opportunity, and made them promise once more to call on
him for help if they thought he could be of service in rescuing
Tom. Then they all shook hands, and Bart, Frank, and Billy hurried
back to their own quarters, full of excitement over the news that
Dick had brought them and hopes that they would soon have Tom with
them again.

But this was not to prove quite as quickly nor easily done as they
had anticipated, for conditions were so disturbed that small
detachments were not permitted to go into the surrounding country
lest they should be attacked and overwhelmed by superior forces
that might bear them down by sheer force of numbers.

They had to abandon therefore the plan to hunt Tom unaided, and
Frank went direct to his lieutenant and told him just what they
had learned from Dick regarding the presence of an American
prisoner in the Spartacides' hands and their suspicion that it
might possibly be their missing comrade.

To his surprise, he learned that the lieutenant had already
received a report from other sources that tallied closely with
Dick's. It was intolerable that any American should be left a
prisoner in the hands of desperate men who might at any moment
take his life, and plans were maturing to descend on the place
where he was believed to be held. An adequate force would be
provided and would set out as soon as possible.

With an inward prayer that the attempt would be made soon, Frank
left the lieutenant's presence and hurried away to tell the good
news to Billy and Bart.



"I hear that a detachment is getting ready to go over to look into
that matter of the prisoner that Dick told us about," said Frank
Sheldon, a little later when he and his comrades were coming out
from mess.

"I hope we're slated to go along with it," said Billy eagerly.

"Here comes the corp," remarked Bart. "Let's ask him. He'll
probably be in charge of it."

As Corporal Wilson approached, the boys intercepted him.

"I can guess what you're going to ask," he said with a smile; "and
I'll answer it right now. Yes, you fellows are going with the
detachment. Plans are making now, but there's so much doing right
here just now that we won't be able to start until to-morrow."

"To-morrow?" repeated Frank in disappointment, and his feeling was
mirrored on the faces of his companions.

"Sorry," said Wilson as he passed along, "but orders are orders,
and we can't get off any sooner."

"And who knows what may happen to Tom in the meantime?" said Billy

"It's exasperating," said Frank. "It makes me crazy to think of
another twenty-four hours going by while we're doing nothing to
help him."

"The only comfort is the confidence I have in Tom's luck," said
Bart "That boy sure must have a rabbit's foot around him
somewhere. He has as many lives as a cat. Do you remember how he
got away from that drunken German bunch that had a rope all ready
to hang him? And the slick way he got away in a barrel from the
prison camp? I tell you that the bullet isn't molded that will
kill that boy, and don't you forget it."

"I only hope you're right," returned Frank. "All the same I'll
feel a whole lot easier in my mind when the old scout is with us

Just then a litter passed them carrying a sick man to the hospital

"Those things are getting a little too common to suit me,"
remarked Frank. "The health of the boys here used to be fine. Now
they say that the hospitals are getting overcrowded."

"And a good many of those who go in aren't coming out again,
that's the worst of it," observed Billy. "That cemetery on the
hill is getting altogether too full."

"If this mysterious disease isn't checked it will be worse than
the 'flu,'" said Bart. "What's the matter with our doctors anyway?
Why don't they get on the job?"

"You can't blame them," Frank defended. "There's no better medical
staff in any army than the one we've got. They're working like mad
to try to isolate the germ, or whatever it is, that's causing this
mysterious trouble. But they seem to be all at sea in this matter.
It's an entirely new thing, and they haven't found any way to
conquer it."

"It would be rather hard luck to come through St. Mihiel and the
Argonne, and then to be knocked out by a measly disease like
this," said Billy disgustedly.

"Well, it hasn't got us yet, and let's hope it won't," said Frank.
"But now that we've got a chance, what do you fellows say if we go
over tonight and try to get at the bottom of that alley mystery? I
shan't be easy in my mind until I've solved it."

"Always looking for trouble," laughed Bart. "But I don't mind
confessing that the matter's got tight hold of me too, and I'm
game to see it through to a finish."

"Count me in," said Billy.

"If only poor Tom were with us!" mourned Frank "It's just the kind
of thing he'd like to trail. And if there should happen to be any
scrapping, he'd be a mighty handy lad to have along with us. He'd
rather fight than eat any time."

After the drills and work of the day were over they got permission
to go to the town and started across the river just as twilight
was falling.

While passing through one of the streets, they met the famous
German physician, from whom they customarily got a look that
betrayed his hate of the American uniform. But this time, to their
surprise, he was rubbing his hands and seemed to be in high good

"What's come over his nibs, I wonder," remarked Billy. "Usually he
seems to have a grouch of the worst kind, but to look at him now
you might think that he'd just had news of a good fat legacy."

"He is different, for a fact." agreed Bart. "He couldn't look
happier if Germany had won the war."

They looked after him, and saw him vanishing into the doorway of a
dwelling that was really a mansion.

"Swell place that," observed Billy. "He must have a peach of a
practice to live in a house like that."

"He's one of the most famous men in his line in Germany I've
heard," commented Frank.

"They say the Kaiser himself used to consult him. But of late they
say that he's made himself almost a hermit. Seems that he's given
up his regular practice, and simply nurses his grouch because
Germany was licked."

"He sits up pretty late to do it then," put in Billy. "I've been
on sentry duty in this street, and many a time I've seen a light
in his office until almost morning."

"Here's our corner," Frank said, as they came to the next street.

They approached the alley with the utmost caution, and slipped
into its darkness when they felt sure that they were unobserved.

"That's queer!" exclaimed Frank, gazing above the blank wall at
the outline of a tall building that rose beyond it.

"What's queer?" asked Billy.

"Why, that building there is the same one the doctor went into,"
answered his companion. "I know it by that cupola on the top. It
must back up right against this wall. In fact, this wall is part
of the rear wall of the house. I thought these were only

"Oh, well, what if it is?" returned Bart. "We'd better get busy
here before we're interrupted. Let's hope there isn't another fire
in this district to-night."

Without much difficulty they found the square place that Frank and
Bart had noticed on their previous visit. They scraped away the
ice and gravel and discovered the ring by which the trap door was
evidently raised. Then they braced themselves and gave a mighty

But the effort was unavailing. They were far stronger than the
ordinary run of men, and yet even their trained muscles had to
confess defeat.

"Perhaps it's locked or bolted on the other side," suggested Bart.

"Not likely," answered Frank. "It's more probable that it's frozen
in. Get out your knives and dig around the edge of the door, and
then we'll try again."

They did this for perhaps five minutes, and then tried again.

This time the door moved but did not yield. Once more they bent
their backs to the work, and this time they won. Slowly and
creakingly the door rose, showing a yawning chasm beneath, while a
rush of fetid air assailed their nostrils!



The three Army Boys started back almost letting go the trap door
in their desire to escape the noxious odor and fill their lungs
with the cool winter air.

"What is this anyway--the entrance to the infernal regions?" asked

"If it were, it couldn't smell much worse, I imagine," answered

"We're not going to let a thing like that hold us back, are we?"
asked Frank impatiently.

"Of course not," replied Billy. "But that doesn't say we have to
like it, does it? Flash that light of yours and let us see just
what this sweet smelling thing looks like."

Frank directed the rays of his flashlight into the gloomy recess,
and the light fell on a small platform about four feet below the
level of the ground. Two or three stone steps descended from this
and then they could faintly see a rough stone floor from which
several passages branched out in different directions.

He returned the light to his pocket, and the three held a
whispered conversation.

"Well, fellows, you've seen as much of it as I have," said Frank.
"What do you say? Shall we explore it?"

"Sure thing," replied Bart. "What do you think we are, a bunch of
four flushers?"

"Lead on, old scout," said Billy. "But first we must wedge this
door up a trifle, so as to be able to open it easily when we come

"Right you are!" said Frank. "When we do come back we may have to
come in a hurry for all we know, and we want to be able to lift
this up in a jiffy."

They hunted around until they found a small slab of stone which
they wedged under the door, after they had dropped down into the
space below. Then, with Frank in the van, with his flashlight
sending its rays ahead of them, they ventured slowly into the
unknown, feeling their way with the utmost caution.

The stone floor was uneven and damp, and at times they stepped
into pools of noisome water that was covered with green scum. The
sides of the narrow passages were covered with mold, and the air
was heavy and offensive.

Suddenly Frank stepped back with a sharp exclamation, and at the
same instant there was a squeal, and a gray form scurried away
into the darkness.

"A rat!" he murmured to his friends behind him. "I stepped fairly
on him. A mighty big fellow he was, too."

They went on a little further, keeping close together, for there
were several passages that branched off from what seemed to be the
main one, and if they became separated it might be difficult for
them to get together again, especially as Frank was the only one
of the trio who had a flashlight.

And now their ears were assailed by soft patterings and shufflings
that seemed to increase in number as they progressed. Their eyes
caught certain red points that flared like sparks and then
vanished, only to reappear. It was as though a host of eerie
things were keeping tab on their movements, and after a while this
silent mustering of unseen watchers got on their nerves.

Billy, who came last, was passing one of the passages that
branched off to the left when he thought he caught a glimpse of
light. He went into this side passage for a few steps to make
sure, and verified his first impression. There, sure enough, was
an electric bulb, on the opposite side of which he could see the
outline of a door.

He was hurrying back to tell his comrades what he had seen when he
heard an exclamation from Bart that quickened his steps still
more. Bart's right hand was holding on to his left, and in the
light that Frank had directed on it he saw that the hand was

"It was a rat," Bart exclaimed wrathfully, as he nursed his
wounded hand. "The beggar jumped straight at it. It feels as
though he'd made his teeth meet through it"

Billy whipped out his handkerchief and was binding it around his
comrade's hand, when a gray form sprang from the darkness and
fastened its teeth in his trousers leg just grazing the skin.
Frank made a kick at it, but as he did so, his foot slipped on the
damp stone and the flashlight flew out of his hand, leaving them
in utter darkness. He stooped to try to find it, but his hand
touched a furry coat and he drew back just in time to escape a
savage snap.

Then as if by magic those red pin points, that they now knew were
eyes, seemed to spring up from every direction. There were rats
everywhere, an army of them, rats ahead of them and rats behind
them, gathering to oust these human intruders from their domain.
Singly they were contemptible opponents, but now they had the
strength that came from numbers, and they knew it.

And the Army Boys knew it too. For an instant panic gripped at
their hearts. The next moment they had pulled themselves together.

"Back to the trap door, fellows!" said Frank tensely. "Fast, but
not too fast. Don't run. And don't shoot, or we may hit each
other. Draw your revolvers and club them off with the butts."

They retraced their steps as well as they could in the darkness.
The rats knew that they were retreating, and they grew bolder.
Again and again they fastened themselves on their arms and legs,
and had to be beaten off with the revolver butts. All the boys
were bitten many times, and it seemed to them that they would
never come to the end of the passage alive. But none of their
assailants reached their throats, although one had to be knocked
from Billy's shoulder, and at last the nightmare journey ended
when they stumbled against the steps that led to the trap door.
Frantically they heaved the door up and clambered out and sank
down on the ice covered ground, spent and out of breath and
utterly exhausted.



For a time the Army Boys sat there, panting and gasping from their
unwonted exertions, yet filled with a deep thankfulness that they
had won through as well as they had.

At length Frank gave a short laugh that had in it little trace of

"Three husky doughboys of the American Army put to flight by a
horde of rats!" he exclaimed.

"All the same, they'd be picking the bones of those same husky
doughboys if we hadn't vamoosed," defended Billy. "Gee! it seemed
to me that there must have been millions of them."

"I know now how that Bishop Hatto, or whoever it was, felt when
the rats were after him," put in Bart. "If we'd only had some
clubs with us we might have had a chance."

"Well, they made us show our backs, and that's something the Huns
were never able to do," said Frank. "But I guess we'd better get
back to the barracks and cauterize these bites. I don't know how
you fellows made out, but I'll bet they bit me in twenty places.
I'm bleeding fiercely."

"Same here," echoed Billy.

"I feel as though I were one big wound," said Bart lugubriously.
"But say, fellows, don't let on what we've been up against or the
boys will guy us to death."

"And to think we've been to all this trouble only to find that
we'd stumbled into a sewer," said Frank disgustedly. "That's what
it must have been, guessing by the smell."

"Oh by the way!" exclaimed Billy, as a thought struck him. "I
meant to tell you fellows, but the fight with the rats put it out
of my mind. There was an electric light in one of those passages."

Frank, who had gotten to his feet and started to walk away,
stopped as though he had been shot.

"What's that?" he demanded sharply.

"Fact," replied Billy. "I could see it plainly, and behind it I
saw the outline of a door. I started to tell you fellows about it,
and then I heard one of you shout and I didn't think of the thing
again till this blessed minute."

"Well, that certainly was hard luck!" exclaimed Frank bitterly.
"Ten to one that's the clue to the mystery. My hunch wasn't a
false alarm after all. I've a good mind to go back right now and
finish the job."

"Not on your life you won't!" said Bart decidedly. "Not if Billy
and I have to hold you back by main force. Why, boy, you're crazy.
Those rats have tasted blood, and they're full of fight. And then,
too, we haven't any clubs to beat them off. It would be sheer
suicide to go in there again to-night."

"Bart is right," acquiesced Billy. "Some other night perhaps when
we're in shape for it, but not now. Come along, old man, and use
your common sense."

Frank knew in his heart that his friends were right, but it galled
him horribly to defer the adventure.

"Well," he agreed reluctantly, "we'll call it a night's work and
let it go at that. But I'm only giving it on the promise that
we'll try it again. We've never let anything in Hunland get away
with us yet, and it's too late to start it now. If I live I'm
going to get to the bottom of this."

"Sure thing," agreed Bart. "We're just as keen to clear it up as
you are. But this isn't our lucky night. Let's light out for the
barracks and fix up these bites."

They made their way back and slipped in as unobtrusively as they
could, and after they had cauterized and dressed their wounds they
sought to forget their disappointment in sleep.

The next day found them stiff and sore, but this feeling wore off
as the day progressed, and when night came they forgot everything
in their eagerness to be on the march to hunt for their missing
comrade, who had hardly for a moment been out of their thoughts.

The plans for the expedition had been carefully mapped out. The
detachment was to travel by lanes and byroads as much as possible,
and under the cover of darkness they hoped to avoid observation
and comment. Their chief hope of success lay in taking the enemy
by surprise, and every precaution was observed to prevent any
miscarriage of their plans.

"Say, fellows, if we can only have the old scout with us by to-
morrow night!" exclaimed Frank, turning to his two comrades, his
eyes alight with eagerness.

"Wouldn't it be bully?" cried Bart.

"I'm betting that we shall," said Billy hopefully. "That is, if he
happens to be the prisoner that Dick was telling us about. Of
course that's only a guess."

The order came to fall in, and with Lieutenant Winter at the head
the expedition started out on its long hike. The men moved along
in loose formation, and all loud talking in the ranks or
unnecessary noise was put under the ban.

The night was clear and cold. There was no moon, for which the
boys were thankful. There were no cities along the route, and they
passed through the occasional scattered hamlets without attracting
much attention. Now and then a dog barked and at times a face
could be seen pressed against a window pane. Sometimes a
straggling figure was seen on the road, but at the sight of the
shadowy body of marching men it discreetly vanished into the
fields or woods at the side of the highway.

It was about four o'clock in the morning when they reached the
outskirts of the town that was their destination. The lieutenant
threw out a cordon of men to guard the roads and intercept any one
going to or coming from the place. No fires were built, though in
the bitter cold of the early morning they would have been
grateful. But the men submitted to this privation without
grumbling, and stood about stamping their feet and swinging their
arms to keep warm and munching the cold rations that they had
brought with them.

Within an hour three Germans had been brought in by the sentries.
Two of them were laborers who were coming from a neighboring
hamlet to their work in the town. The other had been intercepted
coming from the town on his way to take an early train at a
railroad station some three miles away.

The men were questioned by the lieutenant with the aid of an
interpreter. The laborers knew nothing, or, if they did, they were
too frightened by the sight of the armed men about them to answer
intelligently. They knew that there had been rioting in the town
and some people had been killed and wounded, but they had gone
along doing their work and had not been molested. They knew
nothing about any American prisoner. They were plainly what they
claimed to be and the questioning was not continued long.

The other man proved more intelligent and more communicative. Yes,
the Spartacides held possession of the town and the red flag was
flying from the town hall. The regular authorities had been
disarmed and were held as hostages by the rioters. There had been
a good deal of looting of shops and robbery of the homes of the

As to there being any American among the prisoners or hostages, he
did not know. He had heard some rumors to that effect, but he had
not inquired, for in these days it was well not to show too much
curiosity, and he was a quiet man and wanted to keep out of

The lieutenant was not satisfied that he had told all he knew, and
pressed the man further. Under questioning, at first persuasive
and then threatening, the man remembered that there had been a
meeting of the Spartacides the night before in which the matter of
disposing of the prisoners had been discussed. Some had been in
favor of executing them out of hand. Others had objected. He did
not know what decision had been reached.

Under pressure, he admitted that several executions had already
taken place. Where? At the parade ground. Where was that? Not ten
minutes walk from where they were now standing. Would he lead them
to it?

At this he demurred. He was a peaceful citizen. He did not want to
get tangled up in any political affair. He was strictly neutral.
The Spartacides would take his life.

A cold glint came into the lieutenant's eyes and his hand dropped
carelessly on the handle of his revolver. He toyed with it for a
moment. Was the man quite sure that he did not want to show him
where the parade ground was?

The man wilted on the instant. Certainly he would show them. He
would go that minute if the Herr Lieutenant was ready.

"Very well," said the lieutenant, and promptly gave the order that
the men should fall in line, and prepare to march.

In less than ten minutes they were at the designated spot. It was
a bleak, wind-swept space of ground, rectangular in shape, on the
edge of a stretch of wood. At the end of the grounds nearest the
woods there was a blank wall about ten feet high.

As he caught sight of the wall, Frank gave an involuntary shiver
that was not from cold.

"What's the matter?" asked Billy Waldon, looking curiously at his

"Nothing," replied Frank Sheldon, studiously avoiding his
comrade's eye.



The lieutenant carefully disposed his men in the shelter of the
trees and waited.

It was growing a little lighter now that the dawn was beginning to
glimmer in the eastern sky.

In a little building at the side of the parade ground lights began
to show and figures could be seen passing to and fro. The bustle
increased as the moments passed until it could be surmised that
something unusual was on foot.

A file of men could be seen going through the dim street on the
further side of the building and passing into it by what was
evidently the front entrance. Then, after a while, groups of two
or three came out through the back door and hung about, smoking,
as though they were waiting until the business inside, whatever it
was, should be finished.

Most of the men had old German Army uniforms, but others were
dressed as civilians. One man wore an officer's cap, but if that
really indicated his rank, it was evident from the free and easy
way in which he mingled with the others that the old discipline of
the German Army had disappeared. The boys remembered that one
tenet of the Spartacides' creed was that officer and man should
stand on equal terms.

Presently a table was brought out by some men and placed on the
ground a little way away from the bottom of the steps. Following
this came three men who seemed to be in authority, and behind them
a number of prisoners, guarded by men with rifles.

It had grown lighter now, and a thrill went through the Army Boys
crouching in their covert as they saw that one of the prisoners
wore the American uniform. He was facing the men who sat at the
table, evidently his judges, and his back was toward the eyes that
were watching him so eagerly from the wood, but they knew in an
instant who it was.

It was Tom, dear old Tom, his form as erect, his bearing as
defiant as they had always known it! They knew that figure too
well to be mistaken. There was a constriction in their throats and
their hands gripped their rifles until it seemed as if their
fingers would bury themselves in the stocks.

They were at too great a distance to hear what was said, but it
was apparent that a trial of some kind was in progress. It might
have been that some of them had scruples about executing the
prisoners out of hand, and the form was observed in order to get
their assent to the bloody work that the majority had determined

But that the trial was a mere form was evident from the hurried
way in which it was carried on. One by one, the prisoners, of whom
there seemed to be about a dozen, passed before the table, were
asked a few questions, and then dismissed to take their stand on
the other side. It was pitiful to note that one or two of the
prisoners were mere boys, while others were men well advanced in
years. One, who wore a velvet cap, seemed to be a person of
consequence, possibly an official of the town.

Not more than fifteen minutes had passed before all had gone
through this mockery of a trial. It was evident that their fate
was predetermined, for none was freed. All took their places
between the guards and awaited the next move of the men who held
in their hands the power of life and death.

During all this time the eyes of the Army Boys had been glued on
the one figure of their comrade. They had noted that of all the
prisoners he alone had his hands tied behind him. It filled them
with pride to see the undaunted way in which he had faced his
captors and the evident scorn with which he had heard his fate.
While some of the prisoners were weeping, others wringing their
hands, and others standing in an attitude of completest dejection,
he was apparently as self-possessed and unalarmed as though he had
been standing in front of the barracks at Ehrenbreitstein.

"Same old Tom!" whispered Frank to Bart. "The Germans never cowed
him yet."

"He's faced death too many times to fear it now," answered Bart,
with a catching of his breath. "They knew, too, what they were
about when they tied his hands."

"You bet they know what those hands can do," added Billy.

Two or three minutes elapsed while a dispute seemed to be going on
between the men seated at the table. Then, at a given signal, the
guards marshaled the prisoners in line and led them toward the
wall at the back of the parade ground.

The Army Boys were in a fever of apprehension.

"What's the lieutenant doing?" asked Bart impatiently. "Can't he
see that now's the time?"

"Don't worry," admonished Frank, though he himself was frantic
with the desire for action. "He knows what he's about."

The prisoners were lined up in a row about ten feet from the wall.
Then by a refinement of cruelty, spades were brought forward, and
the condemned men were bidden to dig their own graves. The guards
passed along the line, placing a spade in the hand of each and
telling them roughly what they were to do. They came to Tom and
saw that his hands were bound. There was hesitation and a moment's
colloquy between two of the guards, and then one of them drew his
knife and cut the cords while the other handed Tom a spade.

Tom took it.

The next instant he had whirled it over his head and brought it
down on the head of the guard nearest him. The man went down as if
shot. Spinning about, Tom sent the other guard down in a heap.
Then he hurled the improvised weapon into the ranks of the men's
comrades, who in wild excitement were bringing their rifles to
their shoulders, and broke like a deer toward the woods.

"Charge!" shouted Lieutenant Winter.

Never was order obeyed with more alacrity. Out of the woods came
rushing the men of the old Thirty-seventh, sending a hail of
bullets before them. Several of the German firing squad went down
at the first volley and the rest were overborne in the mad rush.

The scene was indescribable. There was a crackling of scattered
shots from the startled Germans. The men who had acted as judges
jumped to their feet in terror and tried to escape. Bullets
brought down one of them, a bayonet another, while the remaining
member of the trio was gripped and held none too gently by enraged

In a few minutes it was all over. The prisoners were placed under
guard and the Americans were recalled from the chase.

And in the midst of the Army Boys was Tom, panting, spent,
breathless, mauled and pounded by his rejoicing comrades, scarcely
able to believe in his good fortune--good old Tom, who once more
in his adventurous career had gone into the very jaws of death and
had come out unscathed!



There was a wild tumult of questions and answers. None of the Army
Boys knew what they were doing or saying. The escape had been so
narrow, the relief at deliverance so great, that they were simply
incoherent for a while.

"Thank heaven, old man, that we have you with us again safe and
sound!" cried Frank, as he grasped his comrade's hand and almost
wrung it off.

"I felt as though my heart were going to come out of my body while
I watched you," said Bart, gripping the other hand.

"It seemed ages while we stood waiting for the lieutenant to give
the word," added Billy, giving vent to his feelings by giving Tom
a hug like that of a boa constrictor.

"I don't know yet whether I'm awake or dreaming," said Tom, with a
laugh that was a little shaky. "You boys surely did come just in
time. I never expected to see you again. And yet I might have
known that you'd find me if I was on top of the earth."

"You made a game fight for it, old boy," said Frank admiringly.

"Gee, what a clip you gave those fellows with that spade,"
chuckled Billy. "They went down like cattle hit with an axe."

"You might have won out even without us," said Bart "If you had
once got into those woods they'd have had to do some traveling to
catch you."

"They'd probably have caught me with a bullet," laughed Tom. "Can
you imagine, boys, how I felt when I saw you fellows fairly seem
to come up out of the ground? I hadn't really thought that I had a
chance to escape. But I made up my mind that if I had to go I'd
take some of those Huns along with me. That spade that they wanted
me to dig my grave with was a good friend of mine."

"Where they made a mistake was not digging the grave themselves
and letting your hands stay tied," said Billy. "But here comes the

Lieutenant Winter came along the line and greeted Tom warmly.

"Good work you did with that spade, Bradford," he said with a
twinkle in his eye. "It simply shows that in fighting it's the man
more than the weapon that counts. Well, you're safe with us again,
and I'm glad on my own account and for the sake of the regiment.
We couldn't afford to lose a good two-fisted fighter like you. As
soon as you've been to mess I'll want to see you again and
question you on what you've learned while you've been a prisoner."

He passed on to look after the captives and set a guard to
maintain order in the town. The ringleaders had been captured, and
the rest of the Spartacides were cowed and bewildered. And now,
encouraged by the presence of the Americans, the more decent
element of the community again asserted themselves and the rioters
either fled or went into hiding.

The company cook had been busy foraging, and soon had a hot
breakfast ready for the detachment, who after their long vigil in
the cold and darkness fell upon it like so many hungry wolves. The
Army Boys did their full share, and Tom especially ate ravenously
and as though he could never get enough.

"Did they starve you, old boy?" asked Frank, as the food
disappeared like magic.

"Starve's the right word," answered Tom, as well as he could with
his mouth full. "Didn't get a quarter of what I needed. Watery
soup and carrots and black bread and once in a while a musty piece
of meat. And it wasn't because they were short of food, for they
simply gorged. They just wanted to torture me because they hated
all Americans, and I happened to be the only one within their
reach. Oh, I just love those gentle Huns. I've come to believe
that there are only two classes in the world--human beings and

"I've known that ever since I saw what they did in France and
Belgium," remarked Bart. "No other people on earth could have done

After they had finished their meal Tom received a summons to go to
the hall that Lieutenant Winter had selected as his temporary
quarters. When he entered the hall he started, for he saw among
the men standing there the man whom the lieutenant had captured
and used as a guide to the parade ground. The man saw him at the
same time and sought to efface himself among the others.

"Do you know that man?" asked the lieutenant, who had seen Tom's
start of surprise.

"Only too well," said Tom, in a tone where bitterness and scorn
were mingled.

"What about him?" asked the lieutenant.

"He's one of the ringleaders of that gang of highbinders,"
answered Tom.

The lieutenant looked at the man stonily.

"So you're the peaceful citizen that knew so little about the
Spartacides, are you?" he asked bitingly.

The man started to protest, but the lieutenant shut him up
brusquely and turned to Tom.

"It's lucky you came in just when you did," he said. "I was just
about to let this man go because of his services in showing us
where the parade ground was. I know now why he was so reluctant to
do it."  "He did it to save his own skin," answered Tom. "He's a
coward as well as a murderer. He's been responsible for other
executions that have taken place here in the last few days. He's
been one of the bloodiest of the lot, and whenever he saw one of
the gang begin to weaken he's stiffened him up. He started out
this morning to go to another town to stir up the same kind of
riot and murder. I heard him talking about it last night. And just
before he went he came to the room where I was confined and
taunted me. Told me that I'd be food for the worms to-morrow and
that before long there'd be a lot of Americans to keep me

The man again started to protest, but one of the doughboys who was
on guard gripped him by the collar and dug his knuckles into his
neck as he yanked him back.

"Take him away and put him in the same cell where Bradford was
held," commanded the lieutenant. "He shall have a taste of his own
medicine. He'll get a trial when he gets to Coblenz, and the
chances are that he'll face a firing squad. Such fiendish work as
he's been doing is going to be stopped if it takes the whole
American army to do it!"

The eyes of the Americans followed the cringing figure of the
German as he was led away, and then the lieutenant turned to Tom.

"Now for your story, Bradford," he said, and took a pen and
prepared to jot down the main points of the former prisoner's



Tom told in detail just what had happened since he had fallen into
the hands of the Huns. He had been taken from place to place and
treated with the greatest harshness. Everywhere he had witnessed
scenes of bloodshed and cruelty. The Spartacides had spared
neither age nor sex. They had seemed possessed with a lust for
murder. Their bloody work had a fit emblem in their red flag.
Tom's familiarity with the language had not been great enough to
understand all that was said in the conferences that he frequently
overheard, though he had picked up enough to know that murder and
riot were being planned on an extensive scale in the district
occupied by the American Army. Some of the Germans in the mob had
lived previously in America, from which they came to serve in the
German Army when war had been declared and while the United States
was still neutral, and these men, Tom said, were among the
bitterest of all. Often in their off hours they would come and
stand in front of his cell and tell him blood curdling stories of
what they had been doing and of what they were going to do to him
also. They had spoken freely, for they regarded him as good as
dead, and some of the information he had gained from the talk of
these miscreants was regarded as of great value by the lieutenant,
whose pen fairly flew over the paper at some points in Tom's

At last Tom had told the lieutenant all he knew, and after
thanking him the officer dismissed him.

He was witness to some touching sights as he made his way back to
his companions. There were mothers embracing their sons, wives
weeping with joy in the arms of their husbands who had been Tom's
companions in the grim march that morning to the rear wall where
they were to face death. But there were no fresh stains on that
wall this morning, and the graves remained undug, though here and
there were seen the first marks of spades where the wretched
victims had begun to dig. It had been a close call, and Tom
involuntarily shuddered. The cool air that he drew into his lungs
had never seemed so sweet to him as now.

He found the Army Boys looking with great interest at a spade
which they held out to him as they approached.

"Here's a souvenir, old boy," grinned Billy.

"It's the one you lammed into the Huns with," explained Bart. "My,
but that was a mighty wallop. They went down like tenpins."

"I guess it gave them a headache," laughed Tom. "I know that I put
all my weight behind the blows."

"One of them will never have any more headaches," declared Frank.
"Even his thick German skull wasn't proof against that blow.
Subsequent proceedings will interest him no more."

"The other one was taken to the hospital with a broken shoulder,"
remarked Billy.

"If Tom had only had time, he'd have cleaned out the whole bunch,"
laughed Bart. "As it is, he's given them a wholesome respect for
American muscle."

"And American speed too, I imagine," grinned Billy. "The way Tom
was making for the woods was a caution. A jack rabbit had nothing
on him."

They could joke about the matter now, but it had been far from a
joke at that moment not far removed, when life and death had been
trembling in the balance.

"Tell us how we came to lose you, Tom," said Frank, as he threw
down the spade and they made their way to their temporary
quarters. "One minute we saw you and the next we didn't."

"You vanished like a ghost," put in Bart "When we were fighting in
that house I saw you knock down one of the rioters with the butt
of your gun. I was busy myself then with a husky roughneck, but I
tumbled him over and looked around for you and couldn't see you."

"We thought at first," said Billy, "that you might have fallen
between the houses when you were chasing the Huns over the roof.
We made a careful search afterward, but couldn't find hide nor
hair of you. You weren't in any of the hospitals, either. You
seemed to have melted into thin air."

"I'm blest if I know myself how it happened," said Tom. "The last
I remember was that a couple tackled me at once. I lunged my
bayonet at one of them, and then I must have gone down and out,
although I don't even remember being hit. I suppose, though, that
the other fellow caught me a clip with a gun butt, for when I next
knew anything I had a lump on the back of my head as big as an

"I found myself in an attic that was as black as Egypt," he went
on. "I couldn't tell whether it was day or night, for there didn't
seem to be any window. My hands were tied behind me, and I was
aching from head to foot. After a while a bunch of Huns came in,
took me downstairs, and pitched me into a covered wagon. Then they
drove off into the country. Where they took me I don't know, but
after a long ride I was taken out of the wagon and slammed down in
a room of what seemed to be a deserted cabin. I only knew it was
somewhere in the woods, for through the windows I could see trees
all around.

"After a while two or three men who seemed to be the leaders came
in. One of them, who could speak English, tried to put me through
the third degree. They wanted me to tell them all that I knew
about the army forces in Coblenz and the surrounding districts,
how many there were, where they were located, what the plans were,
and all that kind of dope. Of course I didn't know anything, and
then they took it out of me in kicks. I got lots of them, and I
guess I'm black and blue all over. They're a plucky lot when a
man's hands are tied."

There was a murmur of rage and sympathy from his comrades and
their fists clenched.

"Some of them wanted to put an end to me right then and there,"
Tom continued, "but others objected until they could get me a
little further into Germany. They felt that the American forces
were a little too near for comfort. Great Scott, how they hate the
Americans! They fairly frothed at the mouth when they spoke of
them. They blame us for their defeat. I've heard them say many a
time that if it hadn't been for us they'd have been in Paris long
ago and maybe in London."

"I guess they were pretty near right at that," remarked Frank.

"They surely were," agreed Billy. "Your Uncle Samuel came along
just in the nick of time."

"But go ahead, Tom," urged Bart. "What did they do with you after

"Just about the same, only more so," replied Tom, with a grin. "I
was taken from one town to another until they finally settled down
here. They seemed to find it a promising place to carry out their
program of loot and murder. There was some pretty sharp street
fighting here for a few days, and then the Spartacides got the
upper hand and commenced killing some of their hostages. What you
saw this morning has been going on for some time, only this was
the biggest batch they have had yet. Going to make a grand wind-up
as it were. They haven't spared the women, either. One of them was
killed yesterday."

"The hounds!" gritted Frank between his teeth.



"It was a pitiful sight," said Tom, continuing the tale of his
experience while a captive. "One of the women wanted to write a
message of farewell to her husband and children. They gave her
paper and pencil, and one of the guards offered his back to rest
the paper on while she wrote. At about every sentence, the guard
let himself fall down and the woman stumbled over him. It was
great fun for the rest of the gang. They laughed as if it were a
show. Oh, I tell you, the Huns are great humorists!"

The eyes of the Army Boys flashed.

"The unspeakable beasts!" cried Frank.

"It would be a good thing if a plague came along and snuffed out
the whole nation!" angrily exclaimed Bart.

"It might be a good thing for the rest of the world," agreed Tom.
"And, by the way, speaking of plague, I don't know but what it's
on the way even now. In one or two of the places I've been in
there's a mysterious something that's killing off the people like
sheep. I've heard the guards talking about it. Nobody seems to
know what it is and the doctors themselves are all at sea. Only
yesterday one of the guards was taken with it. Big husky fellow he
was too, and yet in a couple of hours he was dead. Seems to work
as quickly as the cholera and to be just as deadly. I hope it
doesn't hit the American Army."

"It has hit it already," replied Frank soberly. "There's quite a
lot of our boys in Coblenz who have died of it, and the officers
are all up in the air about it. The medical staff is at its wit's
end. I tell you, it's getting to be a mighty big problem."

"I wish we were out of the hoodooed country!" exclaimed Bart
savagely. "The whole land seems to rest under a curse. When on
earth will that treaty be signed so that we can go back to the

"The Germans say that they're not going to sign it if it proves to
be as severe as is reported," remarked Tom. "I've heard that said
on every side."

"'They say' they're not," sneered Billy. "What does their 'they
say' amount to? Nothing at all. They said they'd never stop
fighting, and they lay down like dogs. They said we'd never step
on the sacred soil of Germany, but there wasn't a peep out of them
when we marched over the Rhine. They're the biggest bluffers and
the quickest quitters in the world."

"When are we going back to Coblenz?" asked Tom.

"In a hurry to get back are you?" laughed Frank. "Well, I don't
blame you, old man. Billy tells me that Alice has been crying her
pretty eyes out ever since you disappeared. But I suppose we'll
have to hang around here for a few days yet. There's a lot to be
done in cleaning out the Spartacides and getting the town in
proper condition. The lieut. won't go back till he's finished the
job. But you needn't worry, for by this time he's telephoned the
whole thing over to Coblenz, and the authorities there know that
you're safe and sound. It's a safe bet that Alice has already
learned the good news."

Frank's conjecture turned out to be correct, for it was nearly a
week before the lieutenant concluded that his work in the town was
done. Then the column took up its march in a jubilant mood, for
their comrade, who was a prime favorite in the regiment, had been
rescued and the work had been done in the deft and finished way
that marked the traditions of the American Army.

Tom and Billy slipped away as soon as they could obtain leave
after they reached the city, and there was not any doubt in any
one's mind as to their destination. Nor on their return to the
barracks that night, bubbling over with glee and high spirits, was
there any question but that their visit had been a thoroughly
satisfactory one. If traces of his captivity were still visible in
Tom's rather hollow cheeks and shrunken waistband, they had
entirely disappeared from his manner.

His comrades had of course told him of their adventure in
connection with the trap door, and he was all agog with interest
in their recital of their battle with the rats, scars of whose
bites were still visible as evidence if any had been necessary.

"It must have been some fight!" he remarked, with a touch of envy.
"Gee! I'd like to have been with you. Too bad, though, that you
didn't find out what you went after. Of course you're not going to
give it up?"

"You bet your life we're not!" answered Frank emphatically. "Give
it up isn't in our dictionary. We're going to search that place
again, rats or no rats, only the next time we'll have clubs and be
ready for them."

"That's the way to talk!" cried Tom. "That'll give me a chance to
get in on the game."

"I don't know that the rats will trouble us next time," put in
Billy. "You'll remember that it was only after we got past that
place where the light was that we came across them in any numbers.
Their stamping ground seemed to be further on."

"That seems likely enough," agreed Bart. "The light being there
showed that somebody had been using the passage without hindrance.
We simply had the hard luck to get in the quarter where the rats
were thickest. At any rate, well take another chance."

That chance was not as soon in coming as they had hoped for,
however, for Coblenz was now seething with unrest. The disorders
that were prevalent all over Germany were manifesting themselves
in the region of the Rhine. Scarcely a day passed without an
outrage of some kind being reported. Several American soldiers
were found stabbed in the street by unknown assassins. Agitators
from Berlin were slipping into the city and trying to stir up
insurrection. It was feared that the sharp lesson given on a
previous occasion would have to be repeated.

Strikes were called in various industries, and sullen knots of
idle men, ripe for mischief, were in evidence everywhere. When
they were dispersed by military patrols, it was only to gather in
some other place.



In view of the menacing situation and the black looks and muttered
curses that were thrown at the Americans who were policing the
city, military regulations were tightened. Leaves of absence were
either forbidden or greatly curtailed, and the Army Boys found
themselves confined to their barracks when not actually on
service. So the projected trip to the alley had to be deferred.

Weeks passed by and lengthened into months. Winter had disappeared
and spring had come, bringing with it soft breezes and verdant
fields and budding flowers and clothing the valley of the Rhine in

It was a welcome change to the Army Boys, who had chafed over the
forced inaction and abstention from outdoor sports caused by the
severe winter. Now most of the time off duty was spent in the
open, and baseball and other games made the banishment from home
seem less of a hardship. Company teams were organized and there
was a good deal of healthy rivalry between the various nines. The
Army Boys were expert players, and the work they did on the
diamond speedily placed their nine in the lead.

But underneath all their work and fun lay the longing for home.
They were in an alien country, among a people that hated them, a
people bitter from defeat and eager for revenge.

They flung themselves down on the river bank one afternoon to rest
after an unusually exciting game of ball when they had just
managed to nose out their opponents in the ninth inning.

"Beautiful river, isn't it?" remarked Frank, his eyes following
the windings of the Rhine, visible there for many miles in either

"Oh, the country's pretty enough," conceded Bart grudgingly. "It's
the people in it that I object to."

  "'Where every prospect pleases,
   And only man is vile,'"

quoted Billy.

"I wish the Paris Conference would get busy and finish up that
treaty," observed Frank impatiently. "What in heck keeps them
dawdling so long over it?"

"It's like a sewing circle," grumbled Bart. "There's a lot of talk
and mighty little work done."

"We'll be doddering old men by the time they get through," added

"Time seems to be no object with them," commented Billy.

"Of course," admitted Frank, "I suppose there's an awful lot to
do. The world's been ripped wide open by these pesky Huns, and
it's some job to sew it up again. Still it does seem that they
ought to hustle things a good deal more than they are doing. I'm
anxious to shake the dust of Germany from my feet forever."

"What's the latest you've heard about the peace terms?" Billy

"Oh, Germany's going to get hers, all right," replied Frank
grimly. "She's had her dance, and now she's going to pay the
piper. She's going to lose her colonies, for one thing. She won't
have a single foot of land outside of Germany itself, and a lot of
that's going to be cut away from her, too. Alsace-Lorraine of
course goes back to France. Schleswig, that Bismarck stole, will
be given to Denmark. The Poles will get part of East and West
Prussia, Posen and Silesia. The coal mines in the Sarre Basin go
to France, to make up for the destruction of French coal mines at
Lens. Germany's got to give back ton for ton the shipping sunk by
her submarines. She must yield up all her aircraft, and can keep
an army of only one hundred thousand men. Then, too, she'll have
to fork over a little trifle of forty or fifty billion dollars, an
amount that will keep her nose to the grindstone for the next
thirty years. Oh, yes, Germany will pay the piper all right."

"It isn't enough," said Bart curtly.

"No," put in Billy. "She's getting off too easily. That's only
sticking a knife in hen. They ought to twist the knife around."

"Even with all that," declared Tom, "she won't begin to pay for
all the misery and death she caused. But what are they going to do
with the Kaiser?" he continued. "Have you heard about that?"

"Oh, they're talking about yanking him out of Holland and putting
him on trial," answered Frank; "but it's a gamble if they really
will. He's such a skulking cowardly figure just now that perhaps
it wouldn't be well to try him. It might dignify him too much,
make a martyr of him. They may let him and the Crown Prince stay
where they are. There's no telling."

"Well," remarked Tom, as they rose to their feet and started
toward the barracks, "whatever the terms, I only hope they'll
hurry them up and let us get back to the States."

A week of comparative quiet followed, and the situation in Coblenz
seemed to be well in hand. That is, as far as disturbances were
concerned. The mysterious disease, however, still seemed to be
uncurbed, despite all the efforts of the medical staff.

Military restrictions now were somewhat relaxed. Leaves of absence
were more easily obtained, but it was some time before the Army
Boys were able to arrange things so that all their leaves fell on
the same night.

That time came at last, however, and they started out soon after
nightfall with the determination once for all to solve the mystery
of the alley. The night was extremely dark, and as the moon would
not rise till late they had comparatively little difficulty in
seizing an opportunity when the street was practically deserted to
slip into the alley unobserved.

Their task was rendered easier by the fact that there was no
longer ice to hinder their raising of the trap door. It creaked
under the straining of their arms, but it yielded, and, using the
utmost caution, they descended into the yawning chasm.

They had provided themselves with stout sticks that they felt sure
would enable them to ward off any attack by rats, though they
devoutly hoped that these would not be needed. Nor were they, for
Billy's conjecture that the part infested by them was beyond the
lighted corridor proved correct.

With the stealth of Indians they moved along the narrow passage,
darting glances into every opening that seemed to branch off from
the main corridor. For some time nothing greeted their eyes but
impenetrable blackness, and they began to think that either the
light had been extinguished or that they had inadvertently passed
it by.

"Hist!" came from Billy's lips, and they halted.

"There it is," he said in a low tone.

They clustered about him as he pointed to the left. There, sure
enough, was the electric bulb glowing, and behind it the outline
of a door. Turning into the passage and inwardly thankful that as
yet no rats had been encountered, they made their way toward the

The door, as revealed by the light, was of heavy oak. There was no
crack or crevice in it anywhere. Standing close to the door they
listened intently for any sound from the other side. Everything
was absolutely quiet. All that they could hear was their own
excited breathing.

Frank put his hand on the knob of the door and flashed a look of
mute inquiry at his comrades. They nodded understandingly, and
inch by inch Frank noiselessly drew the door open.

There was no light in the room beyond, but a ray from the electric
bulb outside fell on a row of bottles and retorts that indicated a
chemical laboratory.

Frank had drawn his flashlight from his section pocket and was
about to turn it upon the room, when suddenly the room became
radiant with a perfect flood of light. At the same time there was
the sound of a quick step in the hall beyond the room, the click
of a door knob, and Frank had just time to push the heavy oaken
door nearly to, when the further door opened and a man came into
the room.

Through the crack of the door Frank caught a glimpse of the man's
face and started back in surprise.



It was the famous physician, the man whose hate for Americans was
so notorious, the man with whom they had already had unpleasant
encounters, the man who had so often shot venomous looks at Frank
and his comrades as they passed and yet who of late had worn an
air so jubilant.

It was his house then to which this mysterious passage afforded
secret entrance, that entrance which the Army Boys had felt sure
was used by conspirators and assassins. What did it all mean?

The doctor approached one of the retorts in which some concoction
was bubbling and examined it carefully, reducing the heat a little
as he glanced at the thermometer. Then he walked over to a row of
phials on one of the shelves and handled them almost caressingly.
One of them he pressed with an almost rapturous gesture to his
breast, at the same time breaking out in a strain of mingled
eulogy and denunciation. The eulogy seemed to be for the phial,
the denunciation for the "accursed Americans," which phrase Frank
heard him repeat several times.

The doctor then replaced the phials on the shelf and picked up an
evening paper printed in German that was lying on a chair. He
looked over the headlines which ran all the way across the page,
and indulged in a chuckle. He read the article through, then threw
down the paper and walked to and fro in the room, rubbing his
hands and evidently in the highest spirits.

The paper had been thrown down in such a way that Frank could
plainly see the flaring headlines. They ran thus:


This then accounted for the doctor's elation. Frank's eye glanced
from the paper to the phial and back again to the paper.

Suddenly a terrible conviction struck him with the force of a

At that moment a bell rang somewhere outside. The doctor stopped
in his pacing, listened a moment, and then with a gesture of
impatience strode to the door and passed out into the hall,
closing the door after him.

Like a flash, Frank was in the room and had possessed himself of
the mysterious phial. Then he was back again among his companions,
who had gazed after him in wonder.

"Quick!" he directed as he closed the heavy door. "Back to the
alley as fast as we can."

"What's the big idea, Frank?" asked Bart, as the boys hurried
after their leader.

"Can't stop to talk about it now, old fellow. Tell you later what
I think I've stumbled on. I think I know now what my hunch meant.
I'm streaking it straight for headquarters as fast as my legs will
carry me."

Bart saw how wrought up he was, and followed him without further

Straight to his captain Frank hastened and told his story. He had
not finished before the captain sent out hastily for others higher
in authority. Then Frank, often interrupted by excited
questioning, narrated every detail of the night's discovery. The
phial was handed over to the chief medical officer, and Frank,
after hearty commendation, was bidden to hold himself ready for
call at a moment's notice.

He hurried off to the barracks, where his comrades were eagerly
awaiting him. To them he poured out all he knew and suspected.

That night and the next day witnessed busy scenes at the
headquarters of the medical staff. The contents of the phial were
analysed and justified Frank's suspicions. A force was organized
in which the Army Boys were included to seize the arch-plotter. It
would have been possible to have entered his house from the front,
but the broad street on which it stood was a thoroughfare thronged
with people at night, and in order to avoid possible riot and
attempt at rescue it was deemed best to enter from the trap door
in the alley.

As soon as it was fully dark, the detachment was set in motion.
Sentries were posted on either side of the alley to prevent any
one from entering, and one by one the arresting party swept down
through the passage from the alley and they made their way, with
Frank as guide, to the oaken door. Here they paused and listened.

Far from being empty, as on the night before, there were sounds in
the room that amounted almost to tumult. Loud exclamations were
interspersed with bursts of laughter. The main note seemed to be
approval. Some one who aroused the enthusiasm of his hearers was

Slowly, very slowly, Lieutenant Winter, who was in charge, drew
the door open by imperceptible degrees. It was the doctor himself
who was holding forth, almost with frenzy. His gestures were wild
and his words came so fast as to make his speech almost

But the listeners caught enough from that wild torrent of words to
know that their darkest suspicions were more than justified. The
man was gloating over his wickedness, over the deaths that had
already resulted, and the deaths he hoped to cause through his
diabolical discovery.

He stopped at length, and others in the party had their turn. Here
was something beyond what the raiding party had looked for. They
had stumbled upon a nest of conspirators who, in their way, as the
doctor in his, were deadly enemies of society in general and the
Americans in particular.

Through this secret passage into the alley, for how long none of
them knew, these desperate men had been going to and fro, avoiding
attention and hatching in the doctor's office a plot that had kept
the entire zone of the American Army of Occupation in a state of
unrest. The proof was all-sufficient, and the conspirators were
weaving the noose for their own necks.

The lieutenant lifted his hand, swung the door wide open, and,
followed by his men, rushed into the room.



It was a scene of wild confusion. Men jumped from their seats with
shouts and execrations. One man leaped for the electric switch to
turn out the light, but Frank reached him at a bound and felled
him to the floor. Pistols were drawn, but the doughboys knocked
them out of the conspirators' hands, and in a twinkling had the
men gripped and powerless.

The doctor crammed some papers into his mouth with the evident
intention of swallowing them, but Tom's sinewy hands were at his
throat and choked them out.

It was all over in a few moments. The surprise had been so great
that resistance was futile. The baffled conspirators stood huddled
together, disarmed, and under guard.

The doctor's rage was fearful as his eyes rested on Frank, for
whom he had cherished bitter enmity since their first encounter,
and who he felt instinctively was the cause of his undoing.

The lieutenant gave a few curt commands and the prisoners were led
out through the passage, secret no longer, and conveyed under
guard to American headquarters.

Here a number of leading American officers had gathered to await
the results of the raid. The prisoners were remanded for
examination on the morrow, with the exception of the doctor, who
was brought at once before the tribunal and sternly questioned.

At first he remained stubbornly silent, refusing to say a word.
Then the crumpled papers that he had attempted to swallow were
opened and read.

They proved to be the formulas relating to the deadly germs
contained in the phials. Step by step the process was described.
The proof was positive and overwhelming. But most important of all
was the setting down of the antidote that would neutralize the
effect of the germs.

The doctor's face during the reading of the papers was a study in
emotions. Rage, disappointment, hate succeeded one another. Upon
the faces of his judges the prevalent expression was one of
horror, tempered somewhat by the relief afforded by the knowledge
that the antidote was within their reach.

Being asked if he had anything to say, the doctor at last broke
his stubborn silence. Denial was impossible. The game was up.
There was nothing to gain by repressing his feelings, and he broke
out in a wild tirade.

Yes, he said, it was true that he had discovered and isolated this
deadly germ and had made numberless cultures of it to be spread
broadcast. He boasted of it. He gloried in it. He had already
killed many of the hated Americans, and if he had been given time
he would have swept the whole American Army of Occupation off the
face of the earth. It was true that he had not confined his
operations to the Americans alone. He had sought revenge on his
own cowardly countrymen who had yielded supinely and permitted the
Americans to occupy the fairest districts of Germany. He had
offered his deadly discovery to the German commanders before the
armistice was signed, but either through doubts of its value or
fear that their own troops would share in the contagion they had
refused to make use of it. Then his rage had turned against
countrymen and foes alike. Like Caligula, he had wished that the
whole human race had but a single head so that he might cut it off
with one blow. He would have done it, too, if this accursed young

Here he made a savage lunge at Frank, and there was a terrific
struggle before he was overpowered by the guards. He fought with
the strength of a maniac, which indeed he was, for the wild rage
under which he labored had reached its climax in the overturning
of his reason. He was dragged away, struggling, fighting, and
foaming at the mouth.

There was unmeasured joy and relief at American headquarters that
night, for the shadow of the plague that had hung over the army
for months was lifted and the remedy was known. Frank and his
comrades came in for praise and commendation that made their faces
glow, and it was promised that promotion and crosses of honor
would be a reward and recognition of their splendid work.

And now the date had been set for the signing of the Peace Treaty.
Germany was at white heat in protest against the terms. She swore
that she would never sign. She raged like a wild beast that had
been caught in a trap. With characteristic treachery she sank the
interned fleet at Scapa Flow. A mob burned the French flags in
Berlin, of which the treaty demanded the surrender. Sign the
treaty? Never! Never!

The Americans were ready on the instant to march toward Berlin.
Twenty-four hours before the time set for signing, tanks,
airplanes, guns and men poured over the Rhine. If the Germans
wanted more fighting they could have it. If they did not sign the
treaty at Versailles, they would be compelled to sign it in
Berlin. The guns were ready to thunder, the men ready to charge.

The Germans saw those preparations and wilted. Their boasting
changed to whining.

On June the twenty-eighth they signed the treaty. _The war was

And when that night the booming of guns at Coblenz told that the
treaty had been signed, the Army Boys hugged each other in delight
at the knowledge that their work was done and that now they were
free to go back home!

"Hurrah!" cried Billy in wild jubilation.

"Back to the States!" shouted Bart.

"Three cheers for Old Glory!" exclaimed Tom.

"And a tiger," added Frank. "Well, fellows, our work is over. Our
boys came over here to! whip the Hun. They did it. They came over
to help win the war. They did it. The job is done, and now we Army
Boys can go back in triumph to God's country!"


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