THE BOY SCOUTS IN RUSSIA
CAPTAIN JOHN BLAINE
THE SAALFIELD PUBLISHING COMPANY
Chicago AKRON, OHIO New York
Copyright, 1916 by Saalfield Publishing Company
I The Border 11
II Under Arrest 25
III A Strange Meeting 37
IV Cousins 49
V The Germans 61
VI The Tunnel 73
VII A Daring Ruse 85
VIII Within the Enemy's Lines 99
IX "There's Many a Slip—" 111
X Sentenced 125
XI The Cossacks 137
XII The Trick 151
XIII The Escape 165
XIV Altered Plans 179
XV A Dash Through the Night 193
XVI Between the Grindstones 205
XVII An Old Enemy 217
XVIII The Great White Czar 229
In Russian Trenches
A train had just come to a stop in the border station of Virballen. Half of the platform of that station is in Russia; half of it in East Prussia, the easternmost province of the German empire. All trains that pass from one country to the other stop there. There are customs men, soldiers, policemen, Prussian and Russian, who form a gauntlet all travelers must run. Here passports must be shown, trunks opened. Getting in or out of Russia is not a simple business, even in the twentieth century. All sorts of people can't come in while a good many who try to get out are turned back, and may have to make a long journey to Siberia if they cannot account for themselves properly.
This train had stopped in the dead of night. But, dark and late as it was, there was the usual bustle and stir. Everyone had to wake up and submit to the questioning of police and customs men. About the only people who can escape such inquisition at Virballen or any other Russian border station are royalties and ambassadors. Most of the passengers, however, didn't have to come out on the platform. In this case, indeed, only two descended. One of these was treated by the police officials with marked respect. He was the sort of man to inspire both respect and fear. Very tall, he was heavily bearded, but not so heavily as to prevent the flashing of his teeth in a grim and unpleasant smile. Nor were his eyes hidden as the rays of the station lights fell upon them.
He was called "Excellency" by the policemen who spoke to him, but he ignored these men, save for a short, quick nod with which he acknowledged their respectful greetings. His whole attention was devoted to the boy by his side, who was looking up at him defiantly. This boy won a tribute of curious looks from all who saw him, and some glances of admiration when it became increasingly plain that he did not share the universal feeling of awe for the man by his side. This was accounted for, partly at least, it might be supposed, by the fact that he wasn't a Russian. The Americans in the train, had they been out on the platform, would have recognized him at once for he was sturdily and obviously American.
The train began to move. With a shrill shriek from the engine, and the banging of doors, it glided out of the station. Soon its tail lights were swinging out of sight. But the Russian and the American boy remained, while the train, with its load of free and cheerful passengers, went on toward Berlin.
"You wouldn't let me take the train. Well, what are you going to do with me now?" asked the boy.
His tone was as defiant as his look and if he was afraid, he didn't show it. He wasn't afraid, as a matter of fact. He was angry.
The Russian considered him for a moment, saying not a word. Then he called in a low, hushed tone, and three or four policemen came running up.
"You see this boy?" he asked.
"It has pleased His Majesty the Czar, acting through the administration of the police of St. Petersburg, to expel him from his dominions. He is honored by my personal attention. I in person am executing the order of His Majesty. I shall now conduct him to the exact border line and see to it that he is placed on German soil. His name is Frederick Waring. On no pretext is he to be allowed to return to Russian soil. Should he succeed in doing so, he is to be arrested, denied the privilege of communication with any friend, or with the consul or ambassador of any foreign nation, and delivered to me in Petersburg. You will receive this order in due form to-night. Understood?"
"Photographs will be attached to the official order." He turned again to the boy, and for just a moment the expressionless mask was swept from his eyes by a look of fierce hatred. "Now, then, step forward! As soon as you have passed the line on the platform you will be on German territory, subject to German law. I give you a word of good advice. Do not offend against the German authorities. You will find them less merciful than I."
"I'm not afraid of you," said Fred. He was angry, but his voice was steady nevertheless. "You've cheated me. You've had my passport and my money taken from me. What do you think I can do, when you land me in a strange country in the middle of the night, without a kopeck in my pocket? But I'll find a way to get back at you. Any man who would treat me the way you have done is sure to have treated some other people badly, too. And I'll find them—perhaps they'll be stronger than I."
"Your papers were confiscated in due process," said the Russian. He smiled very evilly. "As for your threats—pah! Do you think your word would carry any weight against that of Mikail Suvaroff, a prince of Russia, a friend of the Grand Duke Nicholas and General of the army?"
"Oh, you're a great man," said Fred. "I know that. But you're not so great that you don't have to keep straight. You may think I had no business to come to Russia. Perhaps you are right, but that's no reason for you to treat me like this. After all, you're my uncle—"
"Silence!" said Suvaroff harshly, startled at the carrying power of the boy's voice.
Fred stepped nimbly across the line.
"You can't touch me now, by your own word!" he taunted. "I'm in Germany, and your authority stops at the border! I say, I could forget everything except the way you've put me down here in the middle of the night, without a cent to my name or a friend I can call on! You needn't have done that. I don't suppose you took my money—you don't need it—but you let your underlings take it."
"I do not know that you ever had the money you say was taken from you," said Suvaroff, controlling himself. "It is easy for you to make such a charge. But the officers who arrested you deny that they found any money in your possession. There is no reason to take your word against them."
Fred stared at him curiously for a moment.
"Gee! You do hate us—and me!" he said, slowly. "I think you really believe all you've said about me! Well, I'm glad if that's so. It gives you a sort of excuse for behaving the way you have to me. And I'd certainly hate to think that any relative of mine could act like you unless he thought he was in the right, anyhow!"
Suvaroff strangled with anger for a moment. His cruel eyes became narrow.
"I have changed my mind!" he cried, suddenly. "Seize him! Bring him back!"
Fred stood perfectly still as two or three policemen and a couple of soldiers in the white uniform coats of Russia came toward him. He knew that it would be useless either to run or to fight. But, as it turned out, there was no need for him to do either, for from behind him a sharp order was snapped out by a young man who had been listening with interest. Quietly a file of German soldiers with spiked helmets stepped forward.
"Your pardon, excellency," said the German officer. "It is, of course, quite impossible for us to permit Russian officials or soldiers to make an arrest on our side of the line!"
"A matter of courtesy—" began Suvaroff.
"Pardon again," said the German, very softly. "Just at this moment courtesy must be suspended. With a general mobilization in effect upon both sides—"
Suvaroff suppressed the angry exclamation that was on his lips. For a moment, however, he seemed about to repeat his order, though his men had halted at the sight of German bayonets.
"I should regret a disturbance," said the German, still speaking in his quiet voice. "My orders are to permit my men to do nothing that might bring on a clash, for just now the firing of a single shot would make war certain. Yet there is nothing in my orders to forbid me to resist an act of aggression by Russia. We are prepared for war, though we do not seek it."
Fred, almost losing interest in his own pressing troubles at this sudden revelation of a state of affairs of which he had known nothing whatever, looked fixedly at Suvaroff. He saw the Russian bite his lips, hesitate, and finally take off his hat and make a sweeping bow to the German officer.
"I agree, mein herr Lieutenant," he said, mockingly. "The time has come, I think. It may be that the fortunes of war will bring us together. Meanwhile I wish you joy of him you have saved!"
The German did not answer. He watched the departing Russians and then, smiling faintly, he turned to Fred.
"I'll have to ask you to give some account of yourself, if you please," he said, in excellent English. "I'm Lieutenant Ernst, of the Prussian army. Sentenced to guard duty here—for my sins. Now will you tell me what all this means?"
"I had a passport," said Fred directly, and meeting the German's eyes frankly. "Prince Suvaroff is my uncle, my mother's brother. Her family refused to recognize my mother after her marriage to my father, and so Prince Suvaroff does not like me. I had to see him on business and family matters. I was arrested. My passport and my money were taken away from me—and you saw what happened. He took me off the train and put me across the border."
"Things are done so in Russia—sometimes," he said. "Not always, but they are possible, for a great noble. Well, I have seen things nearly as bad in my own Prussia! I shall have to see what may be done for you. If you reach Berlin, your ambassador will be able to help you, yes?"
"I am quite sure of it," said Fred, eagerly. "I don't want to trouble you, but if you could help me to get there—"
A soldier interrupted him. He stepped up to Ernst, saluted, and, permission given, spoke in the officer's ear. Ernst started.
"One minute," he said. "I am called away—I will return in one minute."
The minute dragged itself out. In all directions there was a rising sound, confused, urgent. Fifteen minutes passed. Then a soldier came to Fred.
"The lieutenant will see you inside," he said, gravely.
Fred followed him. Ernst, his face sober, but with shining eyes, spoke to him at once.
"War has been declared," he said. "War between Germany and Russia! My young friend, you are in hard luck! The train from which you were expelled is the last that will even start for Berlin until the mobilization is complete."
Outside there was a sudden rattle of rifle fire. Fred stared at the German officer.
"That is the beginning," he said. "We happen to have the stronger force here. We are taking possession of the Russian side of the border station! I wish we might catch Suvaroff—he is a good soldier, that one at least, and worth a division to the Russians. But there'll be no such luck. He'll have got away, of course—a fast motor, or some such way. And they've got more troops close up than we have."
And still Fred stared. He seemed unable to realize that this popping of rifles, this calm, undemonstrative series of statements by an unexcited German officer, meant that war had come at last—the European war of which people even in America had talked for years as sure to come!
"As for you, I meant, of course, to lend you the money and let you go on to Berlin," said Ernst. "Now I can lend you the money, but there will be no trains. You can't stay here. The Russians, I think, will advance very quickly, and it will not be here that we shall try to stop them, but further back and among the lakes to the south. Even if there is a concentration, however, foreigners will not be wanted."
"What shall I do?" asked Fred.
"You speak German?"
"Then I shall lend you some money—what I can spare. You can start back toward Koenigsberg and Danzig. Your consul will be able to help you. You can walk and the people will gladly sell you food."
"Yes, and thank you for the chance, I'm a Boy Scout; I won't mind a hike at all."
So it was arranged for Fred Waring, thousands of miles from home, to start from Virballen. The lieutenant who had saved him from Suvaroff lent him what money he could spare, though all told it was less than a hundred marks, which is twenty dollars.
"Good-bye, and good luck go with you," said Ernst. "If we do not meet again it will be a real good-bye. If you can send the money back, let it go to my mother in Danzig. If you cannot, do not let it worry you! If any people ask you questions, answer them quickly. If any tell you to stop, stop! Remember that this is war time and every stranger is suspected. You will be in no danger if you will remember to answer questions and obey orders."
"Thank you again—and good-bye," said Fred. He had known this German officer for only a few minutes, but he felt that he was parting from a good friend, and, indeed, he was. Not many men would have been so considerate and so kindly, especially at such a time, to a strange boy from a foreign land, and one, moreover, who had certainly not come with the best of recommendations. "I—I hope you'll come through all right."
"That's to be seen," said Ernst, with a shrug of the shoulders. "In war who can tell? We take our chances, we who live by the sword. If a Russian is to get me, he will do so, and it will not help to be afraid, or to think of the chances that I may not see the end of what has been begun to-night! We have been getting ready for years. Now we shall know before long if we have done enough. The test has come for us of the fatherland."
And then Fred said a bold thing.
"I can wish you good luck and a safe return, Lieutenant," he said. "But I can't wish that your country may be victorious because my mother, after all, was a Russian."
"I wouldn't ask that of you," said Ernst, with a laugh. "Even though it is Prince Suvaroff's country, too?"
"There are Germans you do not like, I suppose—who are even your enemies," said Fred. "Yet now you will forget all that, will you not?"
"God helping us, yes!" said Ernst. "You are right. Your heart must be with your own. But you don't seem like a Russian, or I would not be helping you."
Then Fred was off, going on his way into the darkness alone. Ernst had told him which road to follow, telling him that if he stuck to it he would not be likely to run into any troop movements.
"Don't see too much. That is a good rule for one who is in a country at war," he had advised. "If you know nothing, you cannot tell the enemy anything useful, and there will be less reason for our people to make trouble for you. Your only real danger lies in being taken for a spy. And if you are careful not to learn things, that will not be a very great one."
Fred was not at all afraid, as a matter of fact, as he set out. Before he had stepped across the mark that stood for the border he had been hugely depressed. He had been friendless and alone. He had been worse than friendless, indeed, since the only man for many miles about who knew him was his bitter enemy. Now he had found that he could still inspire a man like Ernst with belief in his truthfulness and honesty, and the knowledge did him a lot of good. And then, of course, he had another excellent reason for not being afraid. He was entirely ignorant of the particular dangers that were ahead of him. He had no conception at all of what lay before him, and it does not require bravery not to fear a danger the very existence of which one is entirely without knowledge.
The idea of walking all through the summer night, as Ernst had advised him to do, did not seem bad to him at all. As a scout at home, he had taken part in many a hike, and if few of them had been at night, he was still thoroughly accustomed to being out-of-doors, without even the shelter of a tent or a lean-to. Nor was he afraid of losing his way, for as long as the stars shone above, as they did brilliantly now, he had a sure guide.
Fred wasn't tired, for he had enraged Suvaroff, who had seemingly wanted him to be frightened, by sleeping during the journey to Virballen whenever he could. It had been comfortable enough on the train; he had not been treated as a prisoner, but as a guest. And he had, as a matter of fact, been aroused only an hour before the train had reached the frontier.
So he had been able to start out boldly and confidently. In the country through which he was now tramping the nights are cool in summer, but the days are very hot. So Fred had made up his mind, as soon as he understood that he had a good deal of walking before him, to do as much of his traveling as was possible by night, and to sleep during the day. In East Prussia, as in some parts of Canada, the summer is short and hot; the winter long and cold.
There was nothing about the silent countryside, as he tramped along an excellent road, to make him think of war. The fields about him seemed to be planted less with grain; they were very largely used for pasture, and he saw a good many horses. He remembered now that this was the great horse breeding district of Germany. Here there were great estates with many acres of rolling land on which great numbers of horses were bred. It was here, he knew, that the German army, needing great numbers of horses every year, found its mounts.
"They'll need more than ever now," he thought to himself. "If there's really to be war, I suppose they'll take every horse that's able to work at all, whether it's a good looking beast or not. Poor horses! They don't have much chance, I guess."
He thought of the Cossacks he had seen in Russia, wiry, small men, in the main, mounted on shaggy, strong, little horses, no bigger in reality than ponies. He had heard of the prowess of the Cossacks, of course. They had fought well in the past in a good many wars. But somehow it seemed rather absurd to match them, with their undersized horses, against magnificent specimens of men and horseflesh such as the German cavalry. He had passed a squadron of Uhlans, near Virballen, outlined against the sky. They had been grim and business-like in appearance. But then the Cossacks were that, too, though in an entirely different way.
"I wish I had someone along!" he thought, at last.
That was when the dawn was beginning to break. Off to the east the sun was beginning to rise, and in the grey half light before full day there was something stark and gaunt about the country. Before him smoke was rising, probably from a village. But that sign of human habitation, that certain indication that people were near, somehow only made him feel lonelier than he had been in the starlit darkness of the night. This would be good enough fun, if only one of his many friends back home were along—Jack French, or Steve Vedder. It was with them that he had shared such adventures in the past. And yet not just such adventures, either. This was more real than anything his adventures as a Boy Scout had brought him, though he belonged to a patrol that got in a lot of outdoor work, and that camped out every summer in a practical way.
Being alone took some of the zest out of what had seemed, once Lieutenant Ernst's loan had saved him from his most pressing worry, likely to be a bully adventure. Now it seemed rather flat and stale. But that was partly because having tramped all night, he was really beginning to be tired. So he went on to the village, and there he found a little inn, where he got a good breakfast and a bed, in which, as soon as he had eaten his meal, he was sound asleep.
Few men were about the village when he went in. He had noticed, however, the curious little throng, early as it was, about a bulletin ominously headed, "Kriegzustand!" That meant mobilization and war. The men had answered the call already, all except those who were too old to spring to arms at once. Some of the older ones, he knew, would be called out, too, for garrison duty, so that younger men might go to the front.
In his sleep he had many dreams, but the most insistent one was made up of the tramp of heavy feet and the blowing of bugles and the rattling of horses' feet. And this wasn't a dream at all, for when he awoke it was to find a soldier shaking him roughly by the shoulders, and ordering him to get up. And outside were all the sounds of his dream. The sun was high for he had been asleep for several hours. So he got up willingly enough, and hurried his dressing because he remembered what Ernst had told him. Then he followed the soldier downstairs, and found himself the prisoner in an impromptu sort of court-martial.
Really, it wasn't as bad as that. Considering that he had no passports and nothing, in fact, to show who he was, and that no responsible person could vouch for him, he was very lucky. It was because he was a boy, and obviously an American boy, that he got off so easily. For after he had answered a few questions, a major explained the situation to him very punctiliously.
"You must be detained here for two or three days," said the major. "This is an important concentration district, and many things will happen that no foreigner can be allowed to see. We believe absolutely that you are not unfriendly, and that you have no intention of reporting anything you might chance to learn to an enemy. But in time of war we may not take any risks, and you will, therefore, be required to remain in this village under observation.
"Within the village limits you will be as free as if you were at home, in your own country. You will not be allowed to pass them, however, and if you try to do so a sentry will shoot you. As soon as certain movements are completed, you will be at liberty to pass on, on your way to Koenigsberg. I will add to Lieutenant Ernst's advice. When you reach Koenigsberg, after you have reported yourself to the police, wait there until a train can take you to Berlin. It will mean only a few days of waiting, for at Koenigsberg there are already many refugees, and the authorities want to get them to Berlin as soon as the movements of troop trains allow the railway to be reopened for passenger traffic."
Fred agreed to all this. There was nothing else for him to do, for one thing, and, for another, he was by no means unwilling to see whatever there might be to be seen here. He could guess by this time that without any design he had stumbled on a spot that was reckoned rather important by the Germans, for the time being at least, and he had heard enough about the wonderful efficiency of the German army to be anxious to see that mighty machine in the act of getting ready to move.
He did see a good deal, as a matter of fact, that day and the next. It was on the famous Saturday night of the first of August that he had left Virballen. Sunday brought news of a clash with France, far away on the western border, and of the German invasion of Belgium. Monday brought word of a definite declaration of war between Germany and France, and of the growing danger that England, too, might be involved.
And all of Sunday and all of Monday supplies of all sorts poured through the little village in an unceasing stream. Motor cars and trucks were to be seen in abundance, and Fred caught his first glimpse, which was not to be his last, of the wonderful German field kitchens, in the mighty ovens of which huge loaves of bread were being baked even while the whole clumsy looking apparatus was on the move. But it only looked clumsy. Like everything else about the German army, this was a practical and efficient, well tried device.
Then suddenly, early on Tuesday, he was told that he was free to go, or would be by nightfall. And that day all signs of the German army, save a small force of Uhlans, vanished from the village. That evening, refreshed and ready for the road again, Fred set out. And that same evening, though he did not know it until the next day, England entered the war against Germany.
A STRANGE MEETING
As he walked west Fred noticed, even in the night, a change in the country. It was not that he passed once in a while a solitary soldier guarding a culvert, as he neared a railway, or a patrol, with its twinkling fire, watching this spot or that that needed special guarding. That was part of war, the part of war that he had been able to foresee. It wasn't anything due to the war that made an impression on his mind so much as a sort of thickening of the country. Though he had traveled so short a distance from the Russian border, there seemed to be more people about.
Great houses, rising on high ground, with small, contented looking villages nestling, as it were, under their protection, were frequent. He was, as a matter of fact, in a country of great aristocratic landholders, the great nobles of Prussia, the men who are the real rulers of the country, under the Prussian King, who is also the German Kaiser. And in many of these great houses lights were burning, even after midnight, when all signs of life in the villages had ceased. The country was stirring, and there was more of it to stir. Now from time to time he heard the throbbing hum of an automobile motor. Only one or two of these passed him, going in either direction, on the road along which he was traveling. But there were parallel roads, and he could hear the throbbing motors on these, and often see the pointing shafts of light from their lights, searching out the road before them as they sped along.
Fred knew enough of Germany to understand something of what he saw and heard. It was from these great houses that a great many officers were contributed to the army. These young men had no real career before them from their birth, almost, except in the army. So it was easy to guess why the lights were burning in those mansions, and why there was anxiety among them, and why the throbbing motor cars were humming over the roads.
If Germany were beaten back in the beginning, if the task she had undertaken proved too heavy, this was the province that was sure to feel the first brunt of invasion. Behind him, to the east, Fred knew were the great masses of Russia, moving slowly, but with a terrible, always increasing force. No wonder these people were stirring, were sending out all their men to drive back the huge power that lay so near them, a constant menace!
But now, though he did not know it, Fred was approaching real danger for the first time. Many of the motors he saw and heard were going west. Though he could not guess it, they were carrying women and children away from the old houses that were too much exposed, too directly in the path of a possible invasion for the helpless ones to be left in them when the men had gone to fight. All Germany had to be defended. It happened to be the part of East Prussia to bear invasion, if it came to that.
And so the people of the great houses were making their migration. The men went to their regiments; the women to Berlin, and to the great fortresses that lay nearer than Berlin—Koenigsberg, Danzig, Thorn. This was historic country that Fred was traversing, the same country that had trembled beneath the thundering march of Napoleon's grand army more than a hundred years before, when the great Emperor had launched the mad adventure against Russia that had sealed his fate.
But he didn't think of these things, except of Napoleon, as he trudged along. Once more he traveled through the night. Once more, as the first signs of morning came, he began to feel tired, and, despite the food he had carried with him which he had stopped to eat about midnight, he was hungry. And, as had been the case on the night of his tramp from Virballen, the first rays of the rising sun showed him a village. It was in a hollow, and above it the ground rose sharply to a large house, evidently very old, built of a grey stone that had been weathered by the winds and rains of centuries. It was a very old house, and strangely out of tune, it seemed to Fred, with the country though not with the times. It was so old that it showed some traces of fortification, and Fred knew how long it was since private houses had been built with any view to defence. It was a survivor of the days when this whole region had been an outpost of civilization against hordes of barbarian invaders.
One curious thing he noticed at once about the great house. No flag was flying from it, though it boasted a sort of turret from which a flag might well have been flung out to the wind. All the other big houses he had seen had had flags out and the absence of a standard here seemed significant, somehow.
When he entered the village he found that there was no inn. He saw the usual notice of mobilization and the proclamation of war, but the people were not stirring yet. He had to wait for some time before he found a house where people were up. They looked at him curiously, but grudgingly consented to give him breakfast. There was an old man, and another who was younger, but crippled. And this cripple was the one who seemed most puzzled by Fred's appearance in the place. He surveyed him closely and twice Fred caught him whispering, evidently about him.
Then the cripple slipped away and came back, just as Fred was finishing his meal, with a pompous looking, superannuated policeman, recalled to duty since the younger men had all gone to war. This man asked many questions which Fred answered.
"You are American?" asked the policeman, finally. "You are sure you are not English?"
All at once the truth came over Fred. They thought he was English! Then England must have entered the war! They would think that he was an enemy, perhaps a spy! Yet, though he knew now the cause of the suspicious looks, the mutterings, he couldn't utter a word in his defence. He hadn't been formally accused of anything.
"Yes, I'm an American," he said, quietly. "I'm not English. I've no English blood in me."
He had intended to try to get a place to sleep in the village, but now he decided that it would be better to get away as soon as he could. If there had been soldiers about, or any really responsible police officials, he would not have been at all disturbed. But these people were nervous and ignorant; the best men of the place had gone, the ones most likely to have a good understanding. So he paid his little reckoning, and started to walk on.
They followed him as he started. As soon as he was in the open road again, a new idea came to him. Why not try the great house on the hill? There certainly someone would know the difference between an American and an Englishman. He was very tired. He knew that, even if he went on, he would have to stop at some village sooner or later. And if he was suspected here, he would be at the next place.
And so, trying to ignore the little crowd that was following him, he turned off and began climbing toward the mansion above the village.
It was like a signal. From behind him there rose a dull murmur. A lad not much older than himself raced up and stood threateningly in his path.
"If you are an American and honest, why are you going there?" asked this boy, a peasant, and rather stupid in his appearance.
"None of your business!" said Fred, aroused. He didn't think that the advice of his friend Lieutenant Ernst to answer questions covered this.
"You can't go there. There are spies enough there already!" cried the other.
And then without any warning, he lunged forward and tried to grapple with Fred.
That aroused all the primitive fight in Fred. He met the attack joyously for wrestling was something he understood very well. And in a moment he had pinned the peasant boy, strong as he was, to the earth.
But he had got rid of one opponent only to have a dozen others spring up. There was a throng about him as he shook himself free, a throng that closed in, shouting, cursing. For a moment things looked serious. Fred now understood these people thought he was a spy. And he could guess that it would go hard with him if he didn't get away. He forgot everything but that, and he fought hard and well to make good his escape. But they were too many for him. Try as he would, he couldn't get clear, although he put up a fight that must have been a tremendous surprise to his assailants. In the end, though, they got him down, with cries of triumph.
And then there came a sudden diversion from outside the mob. Down the road from the great house, shrieking a warning, came a flying motor car. Its siren sounded quick, angry blasts, and the mob, terrified, broke and scattered to get out of the way of the car. Fred, stupefied, didn't run. He had to jump quickly to one side to get out of the car's path. Then he saw that it was slowing down, and that it was driven by a boy of his own age. This boy leaned toward him.
"I'm going to turn and go back. Jump aboard as I come by—I won't be going very fast!" he cried.
Fred didn't stop to argue or to wonder why this stranger had come to his aid in such a sensational and timely fashion. Instead, he gathered himself together and, as the car swung about and passed him, leaped in. As he grasped the seat, the driver shot the car forward and it went roaring up the hill, pursued by a chorus of angry cries from the crowd, utterly balked of its prey.
"That was a close call for you!" said the driver, in German.
But something in his tone made Fred look at him sharply. And then part of the mystery was solved. For the driver was not a German at all, but plainly and unmistakably a Russian.
"Wait! Don't talk now!" said the driver. "Wait till we're inside. We'll be all right there, and I've got a few questions I'd like to ask, too."
There was no more danger from the mob of villagers, however. The speed of the car, even on the steep grade, was too great to give pursuers on foot a chance, and so its driver was able, in a few moments, to drive it through great open gates into a huge courtyard.
"Now who are you?" he asked. "And why were those people attacking you?"
"They thought I was English," said Fred. "I suppose England must have declared war on Germany, too."
"She has. Aren't you English, then?"
"No, I'm American. My name's Fred Waring. You're a Russian, aren't you?"
"Yes. My name's Boris Suvaroff. This is a summer place my father owns here. He's away. I'm glad of that, because the Germans would have taken him prisoner if he'd been here."
For just a moment neither seemed to catch the other's name. Then the Russian boy spoke.
"Fred Waring—an American?" he said. "I—is it possible? I've got a cousin called Waring in America! My father's first cousin married an American of that name years and years ago."
"She was a Suvaroff—my mother," said Fred, but he spoke stiffly. "Her family here disowned her—"
"Some of them—only some of them," said Boris. "Are you really my cousin? My father wrote to your mother long ago—but he got no answer! He has often told me of her. He was very fond of her! Are you really my cousin?"
"I guess I am!" said Fred. "I'm glad to know that some of you will own me! My uncle Mikail had me arrested when I went to see him in Petersburg!"
And then while they learned about one another, the two of them forgot the war and the danger in which they stood.
"So you have seen Mikail Suvaroff!" said Boris. He shook his head. "We have seen little of him in the last few years. He and my father do not agree. Mikail is on the side of the men about the Czar who want no changes, who want to see the people crushed and kept down. My father wants a new Russia, with all the people happier and stronger."
"Then I should think they wouldn't agree," said Fred, heartily. "Mikail is like the Russians one reads about, dark and mysterious, and always sending people to Siberia and that sort of thing."
"It isn't as bad as that, of course," said Boris, with a laugh. "Russia isn't like other countries, but we're not such barbarians as some people try to make out. Still, of course, there are a lot of things that ought to be changed. Russia has been apart from the rest of the world because she's so big and independent. That's why there are two parties, the conservatives and the liberals. My father is all for the Czar, but he wants the Czar to govern through the men the people elect to the Duma. After this war—well, we shall see! There will be many changes, I think. You see, this time it is all Russia that fights. Against Japan we were not united. It is the Russian people who have made this war."
"I only knew there was danger of war the night it began," said Fred. "I suppose it is on account of Servia, though?"
"Yes. That started it. They are Slavs, like ourselves. It is as it was when we fought Turkey nearly forty years ago. The Turks were murdering Slavs in the Balkans, and all our people called on the Czar to fight. This time we could not let Austria bully a nation that is almost like a little brother to Russia."
"I can understand that," said Fred. "I suppose there's enough of the Slav in me, from my mother, to make me feel like that, too."
"Even after the way Mikail treated you? Tell me about that. Why did he behave so, though I suppose you may not know?"
"I don't, really. My father is dead, you know. I and my mother are alone. She has always loved Russia, though she calls herself an American, and is one, and has always made me understand that I am an American, before all. But she has taught me to love Russia, too. And she has always told me that there were estates in Russia that belonged to her, and would belong to me. She and my father were angry and hurt because of the way her family treated them, but she said that some time she wanted me to take possession of the estate, and to live for a little time each year in Russia. She said that the peasants on the place would be better off if I did that."
"Yes," Boris nodded. "That is what those who criticise us do not always remember. Russian nobles do look after their peasants. The peasants in Russia have not had the advantages of the poor in other countries. They are like children still. My father is a father to all the people on our estate. When they are sick, he sees that they are cared for. If there are bad crops, he gives them food and money. We must all do such things."
"That's what she told me. Well, she wrote letters and she could get no answers. So she decided to come herself. But she was taken ill. Not seriously, but ill enough so that the doctor did not want her to travel. And that was why I came. I went to my uncle, because he was in charge of her affairs. And then, though he was kind enough when I first saw him, and promised to help me, I was arrested. All my papers were taken away, and all my money. And he brought me to Virballen, after I had been kept in a sort of prison for three or four weeks. There I was taken off the train for Berlin and put across the border, without any money or passports. The German lieutenant himself was going to send me to Berlin, but then the news came that war had been declared, and he advised me to walk. I was held up at the first village I came to, and I got as far as this. You saw what happened here in this little village."
"That is very, very strange," said Boris, vastly puzzled. "Do you know what charge was made against you?"
"No! Some tommyrot about a conspiracy against the Czar. But just what it was I was never told. I am forbidden to re-enter Russia."
"I don't understand at all," said Boris. "Mikail can't want to keep your mother's property for himself. He is a very rich man—by far the richest of the family, though none of the Suvaroffs are poor. And I know about your mother's lands, because they are next to our own."
"The money that comes from them has always been sent to her," said Fred. "That was what I was thinking of, too. There was no trouble, you see, until it seemed that we might want to live on the place from time to time."
"Yes. My father has had something to do with the arrangements. Your mother is well off, even without her own property, isn't she?"
"Yes. My father was not a millionaire, but he always had plenty," answered Fred, very frankly.
"Mikail did hate the idea of her marriage," said Boris, reflectively. "I could understand this better if I thought that he was trying to keep her inheritance from her to show his dislike. But it cannot be that. There is something very mysterious. I wish my father were here! I think perhaps he would understand."
"Where is he, Boris?"
"With the army by this time! He did not believe there would be war, to the very last. That is the only reason I am still here. But he himself was called back as soon as things began to look serious. I stayed here with my tutor but he is gone now. He is a German, and has been called out. It is fortunate that my father had gone, because the Germans would have held him, of course, if he had been here. They have come here three or four times to look for him, but now I think they have decided that we have told the truth, and that he is not here."
"How did you happen to come to my aid in such a fashion? I was beginning to think that I was in serious danger down there."
"You were, Fred! They thought you were an English spy. And they hate the English worse than they do us, I think. They have thought that the English should be on their side. When they found it could not be so, they thought that at least England would be afraid to fight."
"I see that. But you—what brought you out?"
"I know those people. And when I saw that they were attacking someone, it seemed to me that I couldn't just stand by and look on. It was sure to be someone on my own side that they were treating so—the cowards! But a mob is always cowardly. And, of course, I knew that I could manage easily with the automobile. They were sure to scatter when they saw it coming, because they are afraid of motors, anyway."
"Well, you can belittle it as much as you like, but you certainly saved me from an awfully nasty situation. And you didn't know who I was, either!"
"No, I didn't, of course. But it makes me feel all the better to find out it was you, Fred. Still you know we're not out of the woods yet."
"We're all right here, aren't we?"
"I don't know. I think the Russians will be in East Prussia, and well in, before very long. If that happens and the German army is pushed back of this line, these people will be entirely out of control, except if Russian troops happen to come to this particular spot—and there's no especial reason why they should."
"You mean they might attack the house?"
"They might do anything, especially if the war seems to be going against them. They're good enough people, as a rule, but in times like these there's no telling what will happen."
"I hadn't thought of that. But—yes, you're right, of course. What do you think we'd better do, Boris?"
"There's nothing to be done at once. We've got to wait a little while, and let the situation develop. If we tried to get away now, it would be very risky indeed, I think. You see, between us and the Russian border there are a lot of German troops. And, even if you went back now toward Koenigsberg and Berlin, I'm afraid you'd have a hard time. You see, you haven't any passport. And you're partly Russian. Then you've been here, and they'd know that. I'm afraid you'd stand a good chance of being locked up. Tell me just what happened at Virballen."
Fred told him all that he could remember, and Boris frowned.
"Ernst will make a report, you see," he said. "I'm afraid they'll be looking for you. It makes it look as if you were in a bad hole."
"How do you mean? There's nothing in what happened there to interest Germany, is there?"
"If things had been normal that night, you'd have found out what there was, I can tell you! You see the Russian and the German secret police work together very well. It's all right when they're looking for nihilists and violent revolutionaries—the sort of people who would think it a great thing to assassinate either the Kaiser or the Czar. But the trouble is that if a big man in either Germany or Russia has a grudge against someone, he can use that whole secret police machinery against him. That's what Mikail Suvaroff was doing to you."
"But the Germans?"
"He would have seen to it, I suppose, that the secret police on our side told the Germans here some cock and bull story—enough to induce them to make it unpleasant for you. That was arranged in advance probably. Right there on the border, with war starting, those fellows lost their importance. The soldiers, like Ernst, were in full command. But they'll be as busy and as active as ever a little way behind the fighting line, looking for spies. They'll remember what the Russians had to say about you, and they'll decide that you're a suspicious character, and lock you up in some fortress till the war's over!"
"Gee! That's a nice prospect! Say, Boris, what am I to do? If I go to Berlin, I'll be arrested! If I go back to Russia, my uncle will probably have me boiled in oil or something! If I stay here, your peasant friends down below will lynch me! I'm beginning to think I'm not popular around here!"
Boris laughed, but his eyes were grave.
"It's a ridiculous situation," he said. "I don't really know what to say. I don't believe you need to fear Mikail very much. He has a good deal to think of by this time, because, now that the war has come, he won't have time for intrigue. He's a first-class soldier. He made a splendid record in the war with Japan—and not many of our generals did, you know. But I tell you what I think we'd better do. Wait here until we hear from my father. He will know. And when he learns that you are here, he will be able to protect you in some fashion."
"But how are you going to hear from him here?"
"That's a secret—yet! But there's a way, never fear. A way that the Germans don't suspect, and won't be able to interfere with. Tell me, Fred. If it is safe for you to go back into Russia, will you stand by me? Or would you rather take your chance of going home through Germany? I'm a Boy Scout, and we have known for a long time some of the work we would have to do if war came."
"I'm with Russia, even if America stays out," said Fred, with instant decision. "Blood's thicker than water—you know the old saying. And I am half a Russian. If there's any way that I can help, you can count me in. I'm a Boy Scout, too, when it comes to that. I didn't know there were any in Russia, though."
"There are. They're all over Europe now, you know. Well, we'll see. What's this?"
A servant had entered.
"There is a man who would see you, Boris Petrovitch," he said, using the familiar address of Russian servants.
Boris jumped up.
"That is good!" he said. "I have been hoping he would come."
"You do not know who it is," said the servant. "Boris Petrovitch, do not see this man. He is a German. He looks to me like one of their spies."
"I will look at him first," said Boris, with a smile. "But, Vladimir, I think your eyes are getting feeble. It is time you were sent to the place in the Crimea to rest, like the old horses that can no longer do their share of the work."
Vladimir bridled indignantly. But then a slow smile came over his face.
"Is it Ivan?" he asked.
"It should be," said Boris. "I shall know as soon as I see him."
The newcomer was waiting in the great hall. Boris, with Fred at his heels, got a glimpse of him; then without ceremony he ran down the polished staircase.
"So you have come at last!" he cried.
Ivan was a loutish German in appearance, and only his eyes betrayed the fact that he was not as stupid as he looked. At the sight of Boris he smiled, and the act changed his whole expression. But Fred thought he had never dreamed of so splendid a disguise. This man, he guessed, must have come many miles through Germany, in a country where the closest possible watch was being kept for spies, and for all, indeed, who might even be suspected of espionage. And it was easy to see how he had been able to do it. Fred knew that he must be a Russian. Yet in every detail of his appearance he was German. His clothes, his bearing, his every little mannerism, were carefully studied. Fred guessed that this was no servant, but a secret agent of much skill and experience. He was to learn the truth of his surmise before many days had passed.
"Ivan Feodorovitch!" said Boris. "So you really got through! Have you brought the—"
He stopped at a forbidding look in the man's eye. For a moment he seemed to be puzzled. Then he understood that it was the presence of Fred, a stranger, that was bothering Ivan.
"Oh!" he cried, with a laugh. "Ivan, you may speak before this stranger as freely as before me. Let him be a stranger to you no longer. He is my cousin from America—the son of Marie Feodorovna, who went away to be married before I was born!"
Fred was not prepared for what followed. There was an outcry, first of all, from the half dozen servants in the great hall. They crowded forward curiously to look at him. And as for Ivan, he stared blankly for a moment, and then plumped down on one knee and, to Fred's unspeakable embarrassment, seized his hand and kissed it.
"He and all of them are old, old retainers of our house," Boris explained swiftly. "To them one of our blood ranks second only to the Czar himself. My father saw to it always that here we were surrounded only by such faithful ones. These people and their ancestors before them have been in the service of us and of our ancestors for many, many generations—since before the freeing of the serfs, of course."
It was Boris who brought Ivan back to the errand that had caused his sudden appearance.
"Have you brought the parts for the wireless?" he asked. "It was as my father foresaw. The first thing the Germans did was to come here and render the installation useless, as they supposed."
"It need not remain useless," said Ivan. "Everything needful I have brought. The station may be working by to-night. Except that there can not be anything worth sending for a few hours, it might be set up now. Better not to use it and risk betraying our secret until there is real need of it."
Boris turned to Fred to explain.
"We have spies all through East Prussia, and through Galicia and Silesia, too, of course," he said. "They can find out a good many things of interest and importance to our army. But it is one thing to obtain such knowledge and quite another to find some means of sending it back to our people. We hope, if we are not sent away from here too soon, that we can make this house very useful that way. It stands high, you see, and we have a very powerful wireless. The Germans knew this and they thought they had made it useless."
"Oh, that's great!" said Fred. "Perhaps I can help, too, because I can send by wireless. I don't know whether I would be much good with the Continental code, because I've learned only with Morse. But I might be of some use."
"Another operator will be of the greatest use," said Boris. "I know a little, a very little, about it. And there is a man here. But I am afraid that they will come very soon and take every man who is of fighting age away."
"But your men aren't soldiers!"
"Most of them have served their term in the army. But, even if they had not, the Germans would take every able-bodied man. That is all right. We are probably keeping back all Germans who might go home and go into the army, and all the other countries will do the same with men of a nation with which they are at war."
"Vladimir has all that I brought," said Ivan, breaking in now. "As for me, I must go again."
"Go? Now? Aren't you going to stay?"
"No! I have much to do. I may be back. But if I return, I shall come through the cellar—you understand? There are strange movements of troops in this region that I cannot understand at all. There are far fewer soldiers here than I thought there would be. I have not been able to find traces of more than a single corps of Germans—and we had expected them to have three or four, at the very least, concentrated in East Prussia as soon as the war broke out. At Augustowo they were even expecting an attack."
"Then if there are so few as that, won't we advance?"
"Ah, that I don't know! The Austrians, I hear, are very busy. They say they are moving already in great strength across the border, but that is far away from here, and it is not our concern. It is for us to keep the Germans so busy here that they will not be able to crush France before England can get her army into action. At the beginning it does not matter so much whether we win victories or not, so long as we can force the Germans to send many corps here instead of using them to invade France. But I have talked enough. Now—good-bye, and may God be with you here!"
"Good-bye," said Boris, and Fred repeated Ivan's wish in Russian. Ivan seemed astonished.
"So your mother taught you her mother tongue!" he said. "Ah, but that is splendid!"
Then he was off.
"Ivan might have been a great actor, I believe," said Boris. "See, isn't he the German to the life as he goes, there? No wonder he can deceive them so!"
"It's pretty dangerous work for him, though, I should think," said Fred. "They wouldn't waste much time on him if they caught him, would they?"
"Only the time they needed for a drumhead court-martial. After that, if he was lucky, he would be shot instead of being hung. But he is ready, you see. It is his part. Oh, we Russians are all united now, if we never were before! Germany has threatened us for years. She has set Austria against us. This time we had to fight, and you will see that all Russia will be behind the Czar. We learned our lessons against the Japanese. That was not a popular war. It was not made by the people, but by a few who forced the Czar's hand. Now we shall make the world see that though Russia may be beaten, she has the power to rise from defeat."
"What will happen here if they do take the men away?"
"They won't take them all. Only the younger ones. There will be enough left to look after the place and after us. Though if they come, I shall have to hide you, my cousin! I am just thinking of that. I shouldn't wonder if those stupid people would have sent word to someone. We had better be prepared. Come with me—I will show you something."
Fred followed Boris, and in a few minutes found himself in a great room that was obviously the dining-room of the house. In this room there were many pictures, and the walls were panelled in oak, blackened by smoke and age. Boris looked about to make sure that they were not observed, then he touched a spot in one of the panels, and it slid open. Beyond this, however, was revealed an unbroken wall. Again Boris touched a certain spot, and now this wall, seemingly solid and unbroken, gave way, just as the oaken panel had done.
"Even if they discovered the panel, you see, they would not have the secret," said Boris. "I will show you the exact spots you must touch. Then if they come, you can reach this place by yourself. Once in here, you will be safe. Carry an electric torch always with you. I will give you one later. You will find two sets of arrows marked every few feet through the passages to which this leads. The upper ones point to the outside door that is at the end of a passage far beyond the house. The lower ones, if you follow their course, will bring you back to these panels. So you cannot lose your way."
"By George, that certainly sounds mysterious! Have you always planned for something like this?"
"Oh, these passages are very old. This house, you see, was built at a time when intrigue was more common than now. But when my father began to see, as he did years ago, that Germany was sure to force war upon us, and that it would probably come in his lifetime, he made many changes. This is not really a private house at all—it is a little outpost of Russia, here in the midst of an enemy's country. And it is not the only one. In Silesia and in Galicia we have places like it."
"Perhaps the Germans will find that Russia is not so slow after all!"
Outside now there rose a peculiar sound, but one that Fred identified at once.
"That sounds like your Germans coming now, Boris," he said, quietly. "I've heard crowds making just that same noise at home—on election night, for instance, when they were coming to make the winner give them a speech."
Boris listened for a moment, then he went to a window.
"Yes," he said. "But it's not the sort of Germans we need to worry about. It's only the people from the village. Old men, and women, and children—boys, of course. I'm surprised that they should come for they know they can't get in."
But even as he spoke, there came a thunderous sound of knocking at the outer door and the sharp grounding of arms—a noise as ominous as it was unmistakable.
"There are soldiers, too. They are here much sooner than I thought they could come!" exclaimed Boris. "Here, into that passage with you! Listen! Follow the arrows! They will lead you down. Stop at a double arrow. You will be able to hear. The wall is very thin there, on purpose. You can hear what is going on in the great hall and still be perfectly safe. I'll come for you as soon as I can get rid of them."
"All right. But will you be safe yourself? Oughtn't you to come with me, Boris?"
"Oh, they won't do anything to me! I'm only a boy, you see. They'll never think that I could be dangerous. In with you, now! We can't keep the soldiers out. I don't want to give them an excuse for burning the place down, and they'd do it in a minute if there was any resistance."
Fred found the secret passage much less confusing than he had thought it likely to be. As soon as he had stepped in, the panels slid back into place, and the passage was immediately dark. But Boris had had time to find an electric torch for him, and had told him where to find another—or two or three, for that matter—when that was exhausted.
"We've always kept them there in case of emergencies," he had explained.
So Fred had felt assured of a supply of light, which was the one absolutely necessary thing if, as was entirely possible, the German soldiers stayed in the house for any time. One other thing, of course, was necessary; food and drink. And that, too, he knew where to find. Boris had told him of a store of compressed foods, and of fresh water, piped into this amazing passageway from the outer entrance, far beyond the limits of the gardens and grounds of the house.
The first thing Fred did was to switch on the light of his torch and inspect the warren in which he had found sanctuary. It was not at all the musty, bad smelling place he had expected it to be. The walls had been plastered and stained a dull grey, which did not reflect the light from his torch appreciably. The arrows appeared, as Boris had said they did, at frequent intervals.
"Not much of a secret." That was Fred's first thought. "But it needn't be. The men who worked in here are the ones the family can trust absolutely, I suppose."
It gave Fred a certain thrill to feel himself in touch with such things, to know that he belonged to such a family as the Suvaroffs, capable of inspiring such devotion in its retainers—which, though Boris regarded it as a matter of course, seemed a great thing to Fred, with his American upbringing.
"What a piece of luck!" he reflected. "Imagine my stumbling on such a splendid fellow as Boris! If it hadn't been for all this trouble, I might never have known I had a cousin! And he's the sort of cousin I call worth having! He amounts to something—and I don't believe he's as old as I am. Well, I've got to show him that an American scout can keep up his end! I'll try to play the game with him."
It made up for all the trouble he had had since he had first seen his uncle. He was more puzzled than ever, after what Boris had told him, to account for the behavior of Mikail Suvaroff.
"I'll bet there's some explanation," he said to himself. "I certainly hope so! Seeing Boris makes me inclined to like these Russian relatives a whole lot, and I'd like to think that Uncle Mikail could square himself somehow. He's got a whole lot to make up for, of course."
Though he did feel that very strongly, he was able now to frame a thought that had come to him more than once after he had become certain that it was Prince Suvaroff who had caused his arrest. And that was that Suvaroff had seemed far too big and important a man to do a small, petty thing.
"He's got a wrong idea of me, some way," Fred decided. "He has heard something, or made up his mind to something that isn't so. Well, I hope I get back to Russia and stay out of jail long enough to find out what was wrong. Perhaps this war will make a difference, especially if I'm lucky enough to be able do something for 'Holy Russia'."
Fred moved along quietly while he was thinking of the extraordinary sequence of events that had brought him to where he now was, flashing his light on the arrows, and looking for the double mark that would show him he had reached the spot of which Boris had told him. But when he got there he had no need of any sign, for he could hear voices distinctly on the other side of a very thin wall. Boris was speaking.
"I'm so sorry, Herr Hauptmann," Boris was saying, in faultless German. "I did see some of the peasants chivying a fellow down below. And I did go out, of course, in my car, to see if I could help him. I got him away from them. But he didn't come all the way back. He wanted to go on, and it's not just the time I should choose for entertaining guests. So I didn't urge him to stay."
"I'm sorry to seem to doubt your word. In fact, Prince, I don't," said a rumbling voice, that of the German captain Boris had been addressing, as Fred could guess. "But was this person you rescued so—chivalrously—an Englishman?"
"I really don't know, Herr Hauptmann. He might have been. Or an American. One or the other, I should think."
"Clever Boris!" thought Fred. "He'll tell him some truth and some fiction! He has got to deceive him, of course—that's war."
"I have reason, Prince, to think that he was an English spy," the captain went on. "You will allow my men to make a search? And, by the way, I shall be sorry to take away your servants, but my orders are to arrest and send to detention camps every man of military age I find here."
"I understand, captain. I am entirely in your hands, of course. I should like to know if it will be possible for me to return soon to Russia?"
"You must go to higher officers than myself, Prince," said the captain. "If it rested with me—! But, of course, it does not. If you see your father soon, however, will you give him my compliments? And tell him from me that I should esteem it an honor if we should meet in the field?"
"Gladly, captain. It is a pity that such good friends and neighbors as we have all been must be enemies, is it not? But it was not our doing."
Fred frowned a little.
"That sounds rather bad," he said to himself. "If this captain has lived near here, he must know a good deal about the place. And, by George, if they make a search they will find the wireless machinery that Ivan brought in with him! It may be a mighty bad thing for this house and for Russia that Boris saw me and brought me in, though it was certainly lucky for me!"
But even then Fred did not guess the extent of the trouble he had really caused. He listened intently, but for a time there was silence beyond the wall. Then he heard a murmur of voices, and guessed that a report of the search for him was being made. And then the captain's voice boomed out.
"Prince," he said, "I must ask you to come with me and to consider yourself under arrest. It is very painful but those are my orders. Colonel Goldapp wishes to see you. I think it is only a form."
"What? You will take me away?" Fred caught the dismay in his cousin's tone, and winced slightly. But then he understood that it was not fear for himself that moved Boris, but anxiety lest the important plans of which he was such an essential part should be spoiled. "But my father—he thinks that I am safe here until he can make arrangements for me to return to Russia."
"I am sorry." The German's tone, gruff though it was, was by no means unkindly. "Orders, however—I have no choice. Doubtless you will be allowed to return as soon as the colonel has seen you."
"Well, there is no use in arguing, of course," said Boris. He raised his voice, and Fred understood that what followed was meant especially for his ears. "Where will you take me, Herr Hauptmann?"
"Colonel Goldapp's quarters are at present in the parsonage near the village. You will be examined there, Prince. We shall be there to-night, at least, perhaps longer."
"I see. I will be ready in a few moments. Will you excuse me if I write some instructions for Vladimir, who will be in charge after I go? You may, of course, read what I write."
Then there was silence. The room outside was so quiet that Fred had a chance to realize how perfectly the place in which he was hidden served its purpose. He could hear the heavy breathing of someone near the wall. Then a chair scraped along the floor, and in a moment he heard the scratching of a pen. And then there came a new sound, a tapping, as with two fingers. That was Boris, and quite suddenly Fred understood. Boris was tapping out a message to him in telegraphic code.
"You must take charge here," Boris tapped with his fingers. "I will tell Vladimir to get you as soon as it is safe. The parsonage where I will be taken is very near the outlet of the secret passage. If Ivan returns, tell him I am there, and that I will sing or whistle the song of the Volga boatmen from time to time, so that he may know the window of my room, if there is no guard in the room with me. Do not answer, for they might hear."
"Good boy! He certainly has nerve!" said Fred to himself, admiringly. "He doesn't know what's going to happen to him next, but he is certainly doing all he can to make things come right."
Then there was a new confusion of noise outside. Fred heard Boris call Vladimir and speak to the old servant in Russian. Then the German officer gave Vladimir his instructions.
"This place will be left alone for the present," he said. "Prince Alexander Suvaroff has been a good friend and neighbor, and, though he is an enemy, we desire to respect his property as long as possible. But neither you nor any who are left in the house with you must go out—this for your own safety—except to get food and then go yourself."
Fred heard a general movement then, and guessed that they were going out. Silence followed, and, after listening for a time, he decided upon an exploration of the secret passage. A vague plan was taking form in his mind already. It seemed to him that, as he was at liberty, he should do anything that was in his power to free Boris. Until he knew more of the lay of the land, he could not even make a real plan, but it was possible, he thought, that something that was in his mind might easily prove to be feasible.
It was easy, with his torch and the guiding arrows, to follow the devious, winding course of the passage. He surmised that its ascents and descents, which seemed arbitrary and unreasonable as he pursued them, were due to other entrances than the one he knew. It would be necessary, as he could understand, to have more than one means of getting in and out of such a passage. And when he found himself at last going in a straight path which sloped easily downward, he guessed that he was beyond the house, and that he had come to a part of the passage that led to the outer world.
Here there was a trace of dampness, but nothing like what might have been expected in what was really a tunnel. Fred had to admire the excellence of the construction work. The descent, as he knew from what he had seen outside, must really be very sharp. But it was managed here with turns and zigzags so that the grade was never very sharp.
Fred became suddenly conscious of a change in the air.
"I must be near the opening," he thought.
A couple of minutes proved that he was right. He now remembered that Boris had not had time to tell him how the door or gate was operated. But he decided not to go back at once, but to try to discover the secret for himself. It had occurred to him that it was more than probable that a sentry or two might be left in the house, and he had no mind to stay in the passageway, helpless and useless, if Vladimir found it impossible to let him out at once.
At the end of the passage he found a solid, seamless door. He decided at once it must work on an axis of some sort and that it must be set in motion by pressing a spring. And so, steadily and systematically, he searched the whole door, until he struck the right spot at last. As the door moved, he marked the spot with a tiny pencil mark. It swung open—and he looked into the eyes of a startled German soldier, his mouth wide open!
A DARING RUSE
It would be hard to say which was more surprised—Fred or the soldier. For just a moment they stood, both of them, perfectly still, staring at one another with fallen jaws. And then Fred acted by pure instinct, and without the semblance of a plan in his mind. He had played football in school and on the team of his scout troop in America. And now he dived for the astonished German's legs and brought him down with a flying tackle. The heavy gun flew out of the soldier's hands, and, fortunately for Fred, he fell so that his head struck the ground heavily. He was stunned and, for the moment at least, safe and out of commission.
There was time, therefore, for Fred to see how the ground lay. He found that he was in a slight hollow, sandy in the bottom, where he stood and the soldier lay. He imagined that at certain times this hollow might be filled with water, for the sand had that appearance, and, moreover, there was a gully, evidently washed out by water, leading down into the pit.
"Wonder how long he's good for?" speculated Fred, looking at the soldier. "A few minutes, anyhow. He got quite a bump!"
He satisfied himself in a moment that the soldier was not badly hurt. He was a ridiculous figure as he lay there sprawled out. His breathing was heavy; it sounded almost like heavy snoring. He was very young, scarcely more than a boy himself. His uniform was entirely new, as was his equipment. He was very slight too, and his face was typical of a certain sort of German. He looked, Fred thought, like a bird. It was a queer idea, and he laughed as it came to him, but it did describe this German absolutely.
"I'll risk it," Fred decided. He hesitated about the door. Perhaps he ought to close it. But if he did, he couldn't open it again from this side for that was a secret he hadn't learned. And, after all, the only danger was that the soldier might come to his senses and go in—and if he did that, Fred could follow him. So taking the rifle, he crawled along the gully the rain had washed out, moving very cautiously. As he neared the top, he lifted his head and saw, not more than fifty yards away, a grey stone house, simple and unassuming. A flag pole had been put up in front of this house, and a German flag drooped from it. Soldiers were all about the place, and two automobiles stood before the door. Motorcycles were lying on the ground. While Fred watched, two men rode up on the snorting, crackling little machines and hurried into the house.
This was undoubtedly the parsonage, now being used as the headquarters of Colonel Goldapp. Fred's heart sank as he surveyed the place. It seemed to him that there wasn't much chance that he could rescue Boris. There were too many Germans about. Even though there was no reason for the staff to anticipate an attack, he could guess that the place would be well guarded. And yet he was here because he hoped that he would be able, after seeing the parsonage, to devise some plan of getting Boris away.
However, that was something to be attempted later, if at all. His chief concern now was for the soldier he had thrown. And now he made his way back, and found to his dismay that the man was beginning to recover his senses. As Fred came back he stretched, yawned, and sat up, with the most ludicrous mixture of fright and wonder in his eyes. Fred had his gun, and at the sight of that the soldier spoke indignantly.
"Give me back my gun!" he said, testily. "It is against the rules for anyone to touch my gun. If you let the corporal catch you with that, there'll be trouble. I promise you!"
Fred had hard work to control his features. He wondered if the man was really a little simple-minded, or if the effects of his fall still confused him. He finally decided that both theories were right. For a moment he hesitated, wondering what to do. He wanted to get back into the passageway, and he did not want the German to see him doing it. As he thought, he studied the entrance attentively. And he was startled suddenly to find that he could not see it! Had something happened? Had the door closed automatically? If that were so, he was in a nice fix, and he would soon join Boris as a prisoner.
But then he realized that the seeming disappearance of the opening was simply the result of clever screening, by means of bushes. It had deceived him for the moment. He saw that the door was so contrived that anyone emerging from it would seem to anyone even a few feet away, to be simply coming out from behind a bush. And then he got his great idea, an idea that made him turn his head, so that the soldier would not see the grin he could not suppress.
"Here, give me that gun!" said the soldier, again. He was more impatient than before, and his tone was one of anger. He struggled to his feet, too, and stood, swaying uncertainly, still weak and very dizzy as the result of his fall.
The word came in a sepulchral, heavy voice from directly behind the soldier. He swung around, greatly puzzled.
"Who's there?" he called, sharply.
"I am everywhere!" said the same voice.
But now it came from the very ground at his feet.
And then the voice spoke, swinging around, as the soldier turned, like a dancing dervish, trying always to face the voice, only to have it come from some new quarter.
"Attend carefully to what I say!" said the mysterious voice. "You have risked death by coming to this spot! But I am merciful, and I wish to preserve all soldiers who fight for their fatherland! I am the spirit of this place! I command you to go! Go up the gully. Stand with your back turned to this place and count one hundred. Then, and only then, you may return. Your gun will be here, and you may then go in peace. This ground is sacred to me. On your life, when you have regained your gun, go! Do not look back! Do not hesitate! And, above all, tell no one what you have seen! I have spoken!"
The soldier was trembling now in every limb. He looked hard at Fred, as if he suspected that he might have something to do with this mysterious, awesome voice. But Fred's lips had never moved. Fred, at home, had often amused the guests of his family and the gatherings of the scout patrol to which he belonged with this trick of ventriloquism. But the German evidently had never heard of such a thing. And suddenly he broke into a run. He made for the gully and ran along it with stumbling feet.
"Now stop!" boomed the voice—directly in front of him! "Not a step further! Begin to count aloud. But do not shout!"
"Ein, zwei, drei, vier—" began the German, obediently.
And Fred, half choking with suppressed laughter, slipped behind the screened entrance of the secret passageway, while the soldier's back was still turned. He did not quite close the door, but waited to make sure that the German's curiosity did not get the better of his fright, which had certainly been real enough. But it was all right. The man counted right up to a hundred, and once or twice, to Fred's huge amusement, when he stammered, and lost track of his numbers, he went back and counted several of them over again! But he finished at last, and Fred heard him come stumbling down the gully. He seemed to hesitate then.
"May I really go now?" he asked. "I did not know there was a spirit here, or I would not have come."
"Yes. Go, and quickly!" said Fred, throwing his voice out so it came from far above the soldier.
He heard the soldier running then, and in a moment closed the door behind him, and began retracing his steps along the secret tunnel.
"Gee! That was a close call!" he said to himself. "Serves me good and right, too, for doing more than I was told! I might have spoiled everything by not waiting until I knew more about the place. If that soldier hadn't been ready to see a ghost in anything he didn't have some reason to expect to meet, I'd be in a lot of trouble now. And yet I'll bet he's brave enough, too. If he had an enemy he could see and touch, he'd fight all right."
But Fred had more to think about now than what had happened, or what might have happened, either. He was more interested in what was to come next. He went along, flashing his torch. There was no sound at the thin wall, where he stopped, when he reached it, to listen for the sound of voices in the great hall. That encouraged him. He decided that if any soldiers had been left on guard in the place, they would have been in there. And when he came near to the panel by which he had entered, when he let his torch wink out he saw that there was a light ahead of him.
For a moment he caught his breath, wondering if some enemy had discovered the secret, and was waiting to pounce on him. But he went on, because he decided that if anyone were waiting they must know already that he was in the tunnel. And in a moment he came face to face with old Vladimir.
"The coast is clear, excellency," said the old Russian. "All the Germans have gone—a curse upon them! My master has told me to treat you as if you stood in his place until he returns. I have the things that Ivan brought. Is it your pleasure that I should deliver them to you?"
Fred was puzzled for a moment. Then he remembered the wireless.
"Oh, yes, by all means!" he said. "And show me the room where the wireless is. You know all about that, Vladimir?"
"I know where it is. I do not understand such devil's work, but I am an old man, and stupid."
"Perhaps it's devil's work, but if we have any luck it will be pretty useful to us," he said. "Come on, if it's safe for me to come out. There's a lot for me to do."
Vladimir led the way to the top of the house. On the roof, like a pent-house, there was a little room or cupola, and in this was a partially dismantled wireless installation. Fred was left there alone while Vladimir went off to get the things that Ivan had given to him for safekeeping, and he studied the installation closely. It was different from any that he had ever seen, but its leading principle, of course, was familiar to him. At first it surprised him to find that it was supplied with power by weak batteries, which the Germans had ruined.
"You couldn't send more than twenty miles with those batteries!" he said to himself.
But when Vladimir returned that was explained. For he removed a picture that hung on the wall and disclosed a number of wires.
"I do not understand," he said. "But my master and Ivan have told me that those wires that you see run down to a place far below the cellar, where there is a great engine that moves when petrol is put into it—"
"Oh, I see, a dynamo run by a Diesel engine, probably!" said Fred, suddenly enlightened. "That's a fine idea! They can develop power without steam! Costs a lot—but it's worth it, of course! I'll just try that out!"
Quickly he connected up the wires, tried out his key, after replacing the parts that had been taken away, and in a moment got a powerful spark.
"That's great!" he said, to himself, ignoring old Vladimir, who watched him in fascinated wonder. "I can send a long distance with that spark!"
Then he pounced on something he had overlooked before,—a little book bound in black leather. As he opened it, he gave an exclamation of joy. It was a code book, as he saw at once, and on the inside of the cover was a list of wireless stations, with their calls. There was one at Virballen, he saw, and a dozen other places just over the border, and running quite a distance into Russian territory, including one at Augustowo, were named.
"Ivan told me to guard that book as if it were my life," said Vladimir. "He said to put it in a safe place, and to destroy it if the Germans found it, even if they killed me for doing it."
"He was right," said Fred, soberly. "If the Germans got that book, it would be as valuable to them as a whole army, Vladimir."
"It is very strange," said the old man. "I do not understand, but I am old and stupid, and it is not for me to question my betters."
Fred sat down and studied the code for a few moments. More than ever he was glad now that his mother had always insisted that he must be able to read and speak her Russian tongue. He would have to send in Morse, instead of in the somewhat simpler Continental code, but that, he thought, would make little difference. Some operator would be certain to understand his sending.
And now he sat down and began calling Suwalki. He would have liked to call Virballen, which was nearer, but he was not sure that the Russians were still in possession of their station there, since he remembered that the Germans had had the superior force there on the Saturday night when the war broke out—a night that seemed to lie a century in the past now!
For a long minute he hammered out his call. And then through the air, over miles of hostile country, came a welcome whisper in his ear—the whisper of the answering call from Suwalki! He was in touch with Russia!
WITHIN THE ENEMY'S LINES
For many reasons Fred did not want to hold a long talk with the Suwalki operator. German wireless stations were undoubtedly at work in the surrounding country, and, though there was no great danger that his messages might be intercepted and read, it was not advisable, of course, to let the Germans, who were sure to be watchful, know that there was a private Russian station somewhere within German limits. The instruments here were tuned to a certain wave length, and he guessed that this was standard for all Russian military stations, and different from that of the Germans. But when he held his circuit to listen he got whisperings that sounded almost like static electricity. It was evident that a good many stations were sending, and that the air all about was full of the waves.
So he contented himself with a brief and direct report of what had happened, explaining why Boris was not himself present to make this report. He asked for information as to the movements of the Russian army, but got no satisfaction.
"We don't know ourselves," said the Suwalki operator. "Things are moving very fast, but absolutely no news is being given out. I know that our cavalry—Cossacks, chiefly—have crossed the border at half a dozen different points. The Germans and the Austrians have invaded Poland, and our troops have all been withdrawn from that region. The concentration there is going on at Brest-Litovsky, and behind the line of Warsaw-Novo Georgevsk. But here there are a good many troops. There may be Cossacks within a few miles of you. They are raiding. Here it is said that our first move will be to try to cut the German railways."
That was all he could find out. He arranged for word of Boris's seizure to be sent to his father, and then closed his circuit and went below, in search of old Vladimir.
By now it was afternoon, and Fred began to think that if Boris had been coming back that day he would have arrived already. Plainly, it seemed to him, Colonel Goldapp must have decided to retain him as a prisoner. He wanted to get down near the parsonage again, but he was afraid to venture out by the secret passage. He didn't know how thoroughly he had frightened the soldier who had so nearly caught him. If the man had recovered his wits and decided that it was no ghost, but a very substantial and real person who had bowled him over, there would doubtless be a guard in the hollow, by the outer entrance of the tunnel. And, in any case, it was too risky to seek egress by that means again in broad daylight.
"Vladimir," he said, when he found the old servant, "I want you to make me look like a German, if you can. Disguise me, so that I may go down toward the village safely. Is it possible?"
Vladimir studied him for a moment.
"I think so," he said. "There are plenty of clothes here, and there is a man who has often helped when there were to be private theatricals."
The transformation was soon completed, and when he looked at himself in a glass Fred had to laugh. His clothes were those of a Prussian peasant, and a few very slight changes in his appearance had been made by the man to whom Vladimir had spoken. They worked wonders, and Fred decided that he could go anywhere in Prussia now with impunity.
"Is it safe for you to leave the house?" he asked Vladimir.
"Yes, for they think that I am harmless," said the old man.
"I wish to know how to open the door of the tunnel from the outside," said Fred. "But I think it would be unsafe to go there directly. It will be better for you to start out and get there as if you had gone by chance. It is near the parsonage where my cousin is, and if anyone questions you, you could say, I should think, that you wanted to be near your master."
"Yes," said Vladimir. "That would be safe."
"Then do you go there and stay, unless they drive you away. I will go there, too, if I can, and if the coast is clear and no one is watching, you can show me. Unless, indeed, you can tell me now?"
"It will be better for me to show you," said Vladimir. "The looks of the outside change constantly. A storm will destroy a bush, or some other landmark there, and, though I could touch the proper spot in the darkness myself, I would find it hard to describe it to you. I will start at once?"
"Yes. And I will come to you, if it is safe, as soon as I can. I should not be more than ten minutes behind you in reaching the hollow."
Nothing about the whole adventure upon which he had embarked so strangely, and with so little intention on his own part, impressed Fred more than the unquestioning obedience old Vladimir yielded to him. More than ever before, he realized that the Suvaroffs must indeed be as great a family as his mother had declared. Though she had become a true American, Mrs. Waring had never ceased to love the land of her birth, and she had always tried to impress Fred with her own feeling for the great house to which she had belonged.
"Such families as the Suvaroffs can do much harm to themselves and to others," she had said. "But they can also be of great service to those of their blood, to those who are dependent upon them, and to their country."
The truth of this was constantly being impressed anew upon Fred at this time. He was struck especially by the difference between the way that the people of this house treated Boris and himself, and the attitude that had been noticeable in those who had served his uncle, Mikail Suvaroff. Mikail was decidedly a greater figure than Boris's father. Yet it was not devotion that he seemed to inspire. He won obedience, not because his people were devoted to him, but because he had filled them with fear, and because they knew the consequences that would certainly follow if he were displeased in any way.
It was still light when Fred left the house. He went out by a side entrance, reaching the road from the garden. Vladimir had gone down the hill before him. It was understood that he would manufacture some errand as an excuse for his appearance in the village. A number of the people of the village were in the road near the great house; they stared at it curiously, and with hostile murmurs. They paid no attention to Fred, however, and this convinced him that his disguise was good. He passed near them, and he breathed more freely when he had gone by.
At the foot of the hill he turned away from the village. Here he remembered something that both amused and annoyed him. He had not asked just where the parsonage was. He knew its location with reference to the outer portal of the tunnel, to be sure, but he had come to that underground. However, he remembered where the sun had been when he had emerged into the open air before, and, after some profitless scouting about, a passing motorcycle set him on the right track. It set him thinking, too.
"There are an awful lot of these fellows with dispatches running about," he said to himself. "It seems to me that this place is more than a colonel's headquarters. A colonel has just one regiment under him, and he certainly wouldn't need so many riders to carry his orders about—unless he were in command of a detached fort or position, and Colonel Goldapp isn't. I guess he's there, right enough, but I've an idea there's someone more important, as well. It might be worth while to find out just what is going on around here."
But that could wait. For the moment his task was to meet Vladimir and then to spy out the parsonage. Meeting Vladimir proved easier than he had hoped. He followed the trail of the man on the motorcycle until he was within sight of the grey stone parsonage, and then had his bearings exactly. He approached the hollow cautiously, but no one was around. The ground was fairly soft; there had been rain within the last three or four days. And so, as he approached the spot of his encounter with the superstitious soldier, Fred was able to tell that no visitation had been made to the hollow. He marked the footsteps of the soldier; the man had evidently run from the place.
Looking around cautiously, he saw that everything was clear, and dropped down on hands and knees as he reached the gully. Vladimir was waiting, and in less than a minute explained the secret of the door.
"All right," said Fred. "Now you get back to the house, and either be near the entrance to the passage yourself, or keep someone stationed there. I don't know what's going to happen, so I can't tell you, but I think that maybe I shall get Boris away from the parsonage."
Vladimir's eyes gleamed.
"I am an old man," he said, "and I fear that I am useless. But if I can help to rescue him—"
"If you can help, I'll let you know," said Fred. "But I don't know yet even how I shall set about it. And I think it's more important for someone we can trust absolutely to be in the house. There may be nothing for you to do there, and yet, if anything does come up, you will be needed there very quickly. Shall you go back through the tunnel?"
"No. They may have watched me as I came out, and it will be better for them to see me return. No one suspects the tunnel yet, but some of these Germans are clever."
"Right! Well, I know how to get into it now from this end, and that may help a lot. But I hope that when I use it again Boris will be with me."
He let old Vladimir go out first. Then, after waiting for several minutes, he went up the gully in his turn, and set out boldly and with no attempt to hide his movements, for the parsonage.
There was even more activity there now than there had been when he had first set eyes upon it. There were more automobiles; four of them altogether. At the wheel of each sat a soldier driver in grey uniform, and with a cloth covered helmet. Each car was of the same type, a long rakish grey body, low to the ground. As he neared the house an officer wearing a long, grey coat came out, accompanied by two or three younger men. He turned to speak to them, then got into one of the cars, which immediately drove off. As it went a peculiar call was sounded, more like a trumpet than an automobile horn. Fred guessed then what he afterward learned to be a fact; that the automobiles used by the German staff officers on active service had horns that indicated the rank of the officer using them.
It seemed to Fred that there were more officers than soldiers about. There seemed to be only enough soldiers to provide a guard. Sentries were all about, but there were officers almost in swarms. He walked along, indifferently rather than boldly, and he was sharply challenged when he drew fairly near to the house.
"You can't go any further, youngster," said the soldier. "The staff has taken this house."
Fred stared at him rather stupidly, but turned away. Then he was called back suddenly, and for a moment his heart was in his mouth at the thought that his disguise had been penetrated and that he was about to be made a prisoner. Like Boris, he was concerned only with the effect of this upon his plans. He did not think of his own safety, although, had he been caught, he might have expected the fate of a spy, since he was in disguise within the German lines. It proved, however, that he was not to be arrested. A young captain was eyeing him sharply.
"Come with me, boy," he said. "We are short of servants in the house here. You will do."
For a moment he was indignant, but then his heart leaped happily. If he was taken into the house as a servant, he could find out all and more than he had hoped, and that without risk.
"THERES MANY A SLIP—"
Once inside the house, Fred found a scene of orderly confusion. That is, it looked like confusion to him, but he could see that, for all the bustling and the hurrying that went on, everyone knew just what his part in the work was. Telephone bells were ringing all the time, and Fred noticed now that wires entered the house through the dining-room window. Evidently a field telephone system had been installed and connected this house with a whole region, of which, in a military way, it seemed to be the brain. Then Fred heard a voice that he recognized at once, and started at the sound, until he placed it as that of the captain who had taken Boris away, and remembered that the captain had not seen him, even before he was disguised.
Fred's work, he soon found, was simplicity itself. He was to do the bidding of any officer. He was sent on errands, from one part of the house to another; often he carried written messages, handed to him by staff officers, to the room in which three telegraph operators were hard at work. Generally speaking, he was there to do odd jobs and make himself generally useful. Luckily, he was taken for granted. Everyone seemed assured that he was one of the village boys, pressed into service because he happened to be the first one to come along.
But for the first hour or so it was impossible for him to make any attempt to discover if Boris was still in the house. He was too busy, and he dared not spoil his opportunity to learn something really worth while by seeming to spy about. He was rewarded before long for his patience, for just as he was beginning to despair, an officer spied him in a moment when he was not actively engaged upon some errand.
"Here, boy," called the officer, "take this tray!"
Fred took a tray from a soldier who was holding it awkwardly.
"Take it upstairs to the room on the third floor where a sentry is on guard. He will let you in. When the prisoner there has finished his meal, return with the tray to the kitchen. Do not let any knife or fork or spoon stay in the room when you go. So you will make yourself really useful and release a man who can do things for which you are too young."
It seemed to Fred, as he started upstairs with his tray, that this luck was almost too good to be true. He scarcely dared to hope for what had seemed to him the inevitable explanation of his errand. But when the sentry opened the door of the locked room, and he looked in, he saw Boris sitting dejectedly on the side of a bed. It was all he could do to suppress a cry of delight, but he managed it, and he was hugely tickled as he saw Boris's indifferent glance at him. His disguise must be good, or Boris would have known him. He put the tray down, and then walked to the window. He looked down first, and then up. Then with a grin, he turned to his cousin.
"Not a word," he said, quickly. "Do you know me?"
Boris stared; then a smile broke out all over his face. There was no need for him to put his answer into words. Fred came very close.
"Speak low, but do not whisper," he said. "Tell me, what have they done to you?"
"Nothing. Colonel Goldapp has been too busy to see me."
"I don't wonder! Boris, this is no colonel's headquarters. It is more like that of an army corps. And there is at least one general here. His name is von Hindenburg."
"Von Hindenburg? He is commander-in-chief in East Prussia! If he is here, there must be a German concentration in this region! They did not expect that! Oh, I must get out and get the news back—"
"Yes. The wireless is working. I talked this afternoon to Suwalki."
And in a few words he told Boris the essential facts of what had happened since the raid upon the great house on the hill on that morning.
"How often do they come in here?" he asked.
"Only when my meals are brought to me. There will be no one else now to-night, I think, unless Colonel Goldapp sends for me. They are very polite. I think I shall be alone most of the time. They have no idea that I will try to get away, because they think I know they have so many sentries and patrols about that it would be useless for me to try to do it."
"Listen, then, Boris. I will go now. I think they will let me go now. I have been working hard for them about the house. But I will come back later. Stay near your window, so that I can see a handkerchief if you hold it. Then I will throw up a stone with a string tied about, and you can draw up a rope and slip down. If this general is so important we ought to let them know. I will send the word by wireless and then come back."