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- The Boy Scounts on a Submarine - 1/24 -
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THE BOY SCOUTS ON A SUBMARINE
By Captain John Blaine
THE UNEXPECTED VISITOR
A great barking of dogs broke the silence of the sleepy summer afternoon. Elinor Pomeroy laid down her knitting and slowly walked around the house. The barking of the three big dogs had been on a joyous tone. A young man was racing up the long front drive, the dogs leaping and bounding around him.
"Three rousing cheers, old dear," he cried. "Three cheers! I have won out!"
"Do you really mean it, Lester?" she cried. "Do you really mean that your invention is a success?"
"It certainly is, Elinor," he answered, a certain gravity coming into his face and manner. "I know now that it is all right. We have even tried it out, and I am sure of it."
Elinor took her excited brother by the arm and led him to the wide, swinging hammock.
"Begin at the beginning," she ordered gently. "I want to hear the whole thing."
"Well, then," he commenced obediently, "this morning, as soon as I got to the plant, I asked for a meeting with the bureau of management. Well, I went in and told them what I had done; how I happened on a partial combination when I was analyzing something for the office. I told them that I had worked it out further and further, and that finally I found what I was hunting for--a gas that was powerful enough to affect a large number of men and put them out temporarily, without injuring them after the effects wore off.
"Well, they listened, and when I told them my idea was to use it along the battle front instead of the ghastly deadly gases used by the Germans, they commenced to sit up and take notice. You see, sis, my invention is far reaching than anything yet known. It puts out thousands of men with the contents of one grenade, and sinks them into such a deep sleep that they are absolutely helpless for hours. During this time, our men can occupy their positions, and send hundreds of trucks to the rear loaded with sleeping prisoners. When they come to, they are all right.
"They listened, all right, and then they commenced to ask questions. I offered to try it out right there, but they didn't seem to want to. Then Mr. Leffingwell spoke up. You know what a good sport he is. He said, 'Well, fellows, there may be a lot to this. I have a couple of hundred cows out Marcellus way, and I'm going to sacrifice them to my country. Let's take the car, and try this thing out if this young man has enough on hand for a man-sized bomb.'
"Some of the men said he was a fool to risk that herd. My own opinion was that he thought the stuff wouldn't work at all in the open. Anyway, we got into the cars, and went out to the dandiest farm you ever saw.
"We drove the cows all into one end of a big lot because there was no way to send the grenade with sufficient force to spread the gas; but I went as close as I dared, and threw with all my might. It struck a stone and broke and right quick a couple of cows close to the grenade sort of crumpled up and laid down, and some more, and then one on the outskirts of the group looked around and said, 'Dear me suz, it gets late early now!' and she put her head on her arm, and went sleepy sleepums--"
"It's too wonderful; too wonderful!" mused Elinor.
"Well, the best part is," said her brother, "that it is so simple and so cheap. That is, it is simple to combine."
"Where is the formula?" asked the business-like Elinor. "In a safe, I hope."
"No, not yet. The only formula in the world is here in my coat pocket." He patted the coat lying, on the hammock beside him.
"There!" cried Elinor. "Why, Lester, I call that awfully careless! I do truly think you ought to put it in a safe!"
"That's all right," said Lester, leaning back and playing with one of the dogs. "I have it in my head anyhow. Come on, hon; I'm dead tired. Let's forget about it for a little while; let's go see how the grapes are ripening."
An hour later a well-grown boy came rapidly along the road and turned in the lower drive which led directly to the carriage. Putting his wheel on its rack, he hustled into the kitchen where Elinor, prettier than ever in her long blue apron, her face softly flushed from the fire, stood dishing up a delicious supper.
"You are late, small boy," she cried. "Get your hands washed, and go call Lester. I think I left him about an hour ago, and he has been as still as a mouse ever since. He has something fine to tell you."
She turned to the old woman who was helping her, and Wugs, whistling loudly, went through the house and slammed the screen door as he reached the porch. Elinor went on serving the supper.
Mr. Pomeroy, her father, was away on one of the long trips he was accustomed to make. He was a breeder of fine cattle, and bought and sold continually. His wife was dead, and Elinor was all in all to the man who was lonely even when surrounded by his three fine children. Elinor was thinking of the dear little mother who had passed away, and wishing that she could be with them at a time when Lester was to know the greatest pride of his life. Supper was on, and she stood by the table thinking tenderly. Then she frowned. She was conscious of the racket Colonel, the big collie was making in his run. It occurred to her that the dog had been raving for an hour past, but she had been so intent on supper that she had laid the uproar to Lester who loved to play with the bunch and get them excited.
She stepped toward the window to speak to Colonel, when she heard a shout from Wugs. The shout wavered, and turned to a wild, high scream of horror. Elinor stood motionless. Then shriek after shriek split the air, and the girl sped to the front door, dashed it open, snapping on the porch light as she passed the switch in the hall. She gained the steps in her mad rush and paused. Wugs's agonized voice guided her down to the side of the wide veranda. She dashed to his side and looked down where he was kneeling.
Poor, poor Elinor! Her brother--her darling Lester--lay there limp and distorted, and from an ugly wound on his forehead the blood oozed slowly. Beside him, her head on his breast, his Beatrice, his special pet. She was dead; but with her last strength she had crept to the side of her beloved master she tried to defend.
Wugs looked up, his eyes wild with terror.
"He's dead! He's dead! Les is dead!" he kept saying.
Elinor knelt, put her ear on his heart, then sprang to her feet.
"Be a man, John," she, said quietly. "Les is living. We will have to work fast to save him."
After that it was all a terrible 'nightmare'. Men came, and tender, strong hands lifted the unconscious burden and gently laid it on the bed where the little mother had lain so long before she had passed away into rest. Other hands, just as gentle, carried the dead body of little Beatrice around to the garage where, while decently washing the blood from her poor battered little head, they found a piece of rough, dark cloth clenched in the dog's set jaws.
And the nightmare went on while some one telegraphed to Mr. Pomeroy, and the doctors behind closed doors worked over Lester. Nurses slipped silently into the house; detectives appeared, roped the curious people out of the grounds, and raked the place for clews. It was then that Elinor had a thought. She called the chief of police, and took him into the library, shutting the door.
"Lester was always teasing me, Chief, because I was so afraid of spies, but we may as well consider anything now. My brother had just perfected the most wonderful invention--a war device; and the board of directors at the works tried it out this afternoon. The formula was in Lester's coat pocket--the only formula there is. I know it was there, because I told him I thought it was a careless way to carry it. He laughed at the idea of any one around here getting hold of it, and said anyway the formula was in his head.
"I have looked in his coat pockets, all of them.
"The formula is gone."
"That's it, is it?" gritted the detective. "I am sure you are right, Miss Pomeroy. We have a reason for the deed now, and one clew to act on." He opened his hand and showed her the piece of cloth that poor little Beatrice had torn from the intruder's garment.
"Did you ever see anything like this before?" he asked. "That is an unusual pattern. You have a lot of extra help here just now. Did you ever notice a coat or a cap like this?"
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