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- The Boy Scounts on a Submarine - 5/24 -
REVELATIONS AT THE FLOWER-HOUSE
You would not have thought they were thinking at all as they sat on the broad brick steps, holding their chins in their right hands, left hands twisting their puttee lacers. They talked occasionally but not of the yellow-eyed man who was even then laughing and talking to the Colonel.
They came out a few minutes later, and "Captain DuChassis," as the Colonel called him, ran lightly down and drove off toward the clubhouse. The Colonel stood looking after him, and the two boys stood at attention beside him. He looked down and saw them presently.
"Boys, did you ever have a hunch?" he said.
"Yes, Sir!" they said together.
"Silly things--hunches; very silly! Never let a hunch spoil what seems to be a very good friendship, or change your opinion of a man."
Porky looked quickly up.
"I got the same hunch, Colonel," he said.
"Same man," added Beany.
"Eh, what's this?" demanded the Colonel.
The boys were silent; and while the officer continued his puzzled study of the two faces, the long racer swept again to the steps, and Captain DuChassis stepped out and handed down a lovely girl. She was in a riding habit, and she ran lightly up to the Colonel and kissed his tanned cheek. "Well, daddy," she cried, "we are going to take a ride together, Captain and I!"
She looked at the young man beside her and smiled. He was resplendent in riding clothes and returned her smile tenderly. They stood talking with the Colonel while they waited for their horses.
"How does everything go, daddy? Have you heard anything from Elinor Pomeroy?" She turned, "Elinor is a school friend of mine," she explained. "She is in dreadful trouble. Her brother invented a gas that will absolutely whip Germany, and he was attacked the very night that the gas was tried out, and frightfully hurt, and the formula taken away from him. Of course, it wouldn't matter if he could tell some one, but he never will. I heard to-day that he is conscious now, but the past is a perfect blank. Isn't that too dreadful? I wish I knew where that paper is, I'd like to be the one to get it."
"Would you, Miss Carol?" asked Captain DuChassis. He smiled and tapped his swagger stick lightly on his boot top. "Perhaps you are near it now.
"No such luck! she sighed.
"There will be luck for some one in it perhaps," said the Colonel. "Mr. Leffingwell has just offered a splendid prize to any Boy Scout who finds the formula. He offers an education to the lucky lad. Two years of prep school, and four years of college."
"He is a what you call it safety-first man, is he not?" laughed the Captain. "Is he pro-German? It looks it, setting such a task for children." He turned to the young lady. "Shall we mount? Here are the horses."
After the Colonel had watched them canter away, he turned once more to speak to the boys. They were gone. Sadly they had faded away around the corner, and drifted over to the cow stables, where they sat miserably down on a bale of hay.
"What we goin' to do?" asked Beany miserably. "That's the limit!" agreed Porky. "Here we got it all planned. We got to find that formula, nobody else has the chance we have, and now we've spotted one of our men. We will find that formula when we pull in the bunch that tried to shoot Colonel Handler. They are all mixed up somehow, you'll find. All right, we find that formula, because we got to do it for our country; and what do they do to us? What does Mr. Leffingwell do to us?" Porky's voice rose to a wail. "What does he do?" he asked again. "He goes and sticks an education on us! A college education!"
"Is Mr. Leffingwell going to pick our college?" asked Beany.
"You bet he won't pick mine!" said Porky, loftily. "Cause there ain't goin' to be no such animal!"
"Well, I dunno," mused the other twin. "We got to find that formula. See, the more people we tell, the more it gums the works. It sounds cheeky, but we work better alone: me and you. Le's go look around while we think. I can think better when I'm lookin I at things.
"Me too," said Porky.
They drifted over to the bandstand where the crowd was thickest and the noise loudest and, wriggling through the press, approached an ice cream stand. To reach the counter, Porky stooped and jammed his thin figure between two men.
They paid no attention to him.
"Where is the Wolf?" asked one.
"Riding with the Colonel's daughter," the other laughed. "Trust the Wolf!"
"As far as you can see him," said the other. "I have news," said the shorter man. "Meet me in the flower-house to-night at eight o'clock sharp."
Porky was afraid to look up for fear they would take notice of him. He drummed on the counter, and called loudly for a cone. The men moved away. Porky looked cautiously after them. For a second, he thought of telling his brother to follow them, but remembered in time that they looked exactly alike. He moved over beside Beany, who was biting scallops off the edges of his cone: he had not heard.
"Come here!" Porky said briefly. He handed his cone to a small child and walked rapidly past the Hospital, around the drive leading to the beautiful new horse stables and, cutting across the race-track, threw himself down in the center of the grassy ring where the saddle horses were shown. For acres around stretched open space.
Beany, used to his brother, lay flat in the grass and tipped his hat over his tanned face.
"Go on now. Get it off your chest!" he demanded.
"Want to know what they call the guy that's riding with Miss Bright?"
"DuChassis--Captain," said Beany.
"He's called the 'Wolf,'" said Porky. Even alone as they were, he lowered his tone.
Beany sat suddenly erect. "What?" he said.
"You heard me," said his brother. He rapidly repeated the conversation he had overheard.
"Where is the flower-house?" asked Beany.
"It must be the greenhouse," he said. "I think I have seen the shorter one of those men helping the head gardener."
"I tell you what! It's your turn now, because I heard them plan this. So you go camp at the flower-house by-en-by, and I will keep watch around the gates to see if they change their minds and go out."
"What good will that be?" said his brother. "You didn't see either of their faces."
"No, but I saw their pants," said Porky. "I can look at all the legs, can't I? But they won't be there. I will watch to make sure; but they will be right where they said, over by the flower-house. See, they don't use any science. All they do is get in a crowd, or back up against a good high wall, and tell each other their real names. If we bring this across, I've a mind for us to be detectives."
"There's the college education," Beany reminded him.
"Well," said Porky, "I suppose detectives ought to know a little something. Come on back, I want a sandwich. I have lived on hot dogs now for two days. Notice how small they are getting? The dog part, I mean."
As they rounded the grandstand, a heavy automobile truck backed up to something covered with a tarpaulin. The boys darted into the crowd. They demanded explanations of anybody who would answer. A boy spoke, up.
"Ridin' horse ran away," he said. "Saw it 'myself. Girl ridin' it."
Porky and Beany gasped. "Was she killed?" they cried.
"Didn't hurt her at all," said the strange boy rather regretfully, it seemed. "But the feller with her, he chased her an' his horse caught up, and the feller grabbed her bridle, and her horse 'swerved, and he was pulled offen his horse, and his horse come right bing into the bandstand, and broke his neck."
"My gosh!" said the twins. "Where did they take the man? Was he
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