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- The Boy Scounts on a Submarine - 24/24 -


to take a sleeping powder. He had some powdered sugar all fixed up. The mate was the only man in the cabin at the time, and the Captain said all at once something came over him as though a voice had shouted, 'Here is the man!'

"Yet not a line of the fellow's face changed. It was just sheer intuition. When the mate left the room, the Captain got hold of the doctor, who was the only one we were really trusting then, and tipped him off. He in turn came to me and I did my part by declaring loudly that I was dead tired and was going to turn in.

"Well, boys, at four this morning we caught our bird. The mate, of all men on the ship! They caught him red-handed, as they say, at the Captain's locker, and the doctor laid him out with a neat little tap from a billy, and when he came to we put him through the third degree. And we overhauled his things and found enough information to get him a string of German crosses a yard long.

"He was meek as could be; but I know now that was because he thought he had a good chance to got away somehow. We are near shore; and it seems he can swim like a duck--a long-distance champion and all that. He was so very meek about it that we were a little careless. I know it taught me a lesson. There are only two places where a spy is safe: in his grave, or in irons; and he's not very safe then. He watched his chance and when he got a second's show, he moved like a whirlwind. He knocked his guard down and grabbed his revolver, all in one jump, shot full at Captain Greene, missed him but winged me and killed the captain of the Firefly, poor fellow!

"Then he made for the door with Captain Green after him; and you know the rest."

"Gee!" said Porky.

"Sakes!" added Beany.

There was a silence. The Colonel looked at his watch. There was a sound of tramping from above.

"They are getting the men ready to go ashore," he said. "This is to be the last daylight disembarkation. Better go up and take a look around, boys. It is worth seeing. Are your things all ship-shape?"

"Yes, sir; all ready to pick up," said Porky, "Can't we do something for you?"

"Not a thing, thank you! This arm does not even burn now. When you see me on deck, just fall in, and don't let me have to look for you." He smiled and dismissed them with a nod as the doctor entered.

"Doc," he said as the young man proceeded to put a dressing on the wounded arm, "there go two, of the most remarkable boys I have ever known. I expect great things of them sooner or later if their lives are spared."

And with this prophecy, which was to be fulfilled far sooner than the Colonel dreamed, the subject was closed.

On deck the boys, with their bags beside them, watched the orderly rush of disembarkation with the keenest delight. They were as glad to go ashore as they had been to go aboard in that far, fair America that they were so proud and happy to call home.

Load after load of men left the side of the great ship, and the empty boats came dancing back from the great distant docks for other loads. The men were all happy and excited. The air was clear and clean as though it had just been washed, as indeed it had by a heavy rain the night before.

Overhead a couple of great planes circled above the harbor. The thought that they did not know where they were lent a touch of unreality and, romance to it all. The boats full of men went gayly off, the soldiers singing, calling, and whistling back to their mates still on board.

"Well, we are here!" said Porky soberly.

"Yep!" answered Beany. There was a long silence. Then, "We are here all right!" he repeated.

"Yep!" said Porky.

"I Wish we could call mom and pop up on a long distance and tell them we are safe. It's going to be some old time before we see them again!"

"Sure is!" agreed Porky, his face growing strangely long at the thought. "There's one thing we got to remember. We are here, and they were game to let us come. I didn't realize how game they were, Beans, but they sure were game! Well, we have got to pay them up for it, and the only way we can do it, is by first taking the best care of ourselves that we possibly can, and then by doing something to make them proud of us. Of course we don't know what we can do, but something will come up, I know; and it's up to us to do it."

"You bet we will!" said Beany solemnly. They turned again to watch the sailors.

Colonel Bright appeared on deck just then, and the boys hurried to his side, and stood unobtrusively behind him.

The next few hours passed in such a whirl that they were never clearly defined in the boys' memory. Event followed event with dizzying rapidity. Short trips on strange, camouflaged little railroads, alternated with dashes in strange, large, unkempt automobiles driven by haggard, desperate, cool, young fellows who looked and were equal to any emergency. Little was said. Occasionally they were personally conducted by one or two French officers who talked rapidly in their own tongue to Colonel Bright, who actually understood what they said, and fired back remarks almost as rapid as theirs.

"Machine guns!" Beany muttered once to his brother.

As they went on, the country commenced to show devastating effect of war. By the time darkness fell they were passing through a torn and tumbled landscape, with here and there a ruined village. They reached a place finally, unlighted, almost unmarked in the darkness. The boys wondered at the cleverness of the chauffeur as he silently rounded a corner and brought his car up to a ruined gateway, behind which a small squat building showed dimly.

Without a word Colonel Bright went rapidly up the path, the boys following closely behind, while the orderly carried the Colonel's bags.

A low tap on the door and it opened, disclosing a densely dark hall or room; the boys could not see enough to tell what it was. As the door was closed, a flashlight was pressed, and they were able to follow their guide across the space and through another corridor to a heavy door. A low tap and this door was opened.

As they entered, a man rose from a desk. He was gray and grizzled; a man whose keen face and eagle glance ware destined to live as long as history is written or read, a man in whom America rests her pride and hopes.

As they entered, he bent his piercing glance upon them; then, recognizing Colonel Bright, his face was lighted with a bright smile that suddenly wiped out its lines of care, and he stepped forward, both hands extended in greeting.

It was General Pershing.

The boys, standing well back in the shadows of the gloomy room, felt something catch their throats.

France... the firing line... General Pershing...

All at once, they had no doubts, no memories, no homesickness, no regrets. France; the firing line; General Pershing!

The boys stood rigidly at attention. The room was dark; no one saw them. It did not matter. Joy and courage and high hopes filled their hearts.

It was the beginning of their Great Adventure.

THE END


The Boy Scounts on a Submarine - 24/24

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