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- The Boy Allies with Haig in Flanders - 10/33 -
"Who said anything about spies?" he asked.
"Well, you didn't, to be sure," said Hal, "But as I happened to have the list in my hands a few moments ago, I didn't need to be told."
"You had it?" cried Stubbs, unconsciously raising his voice.
"'Where is it now?" demanded Stubbs eagerly.
"Safe, I hope," replied Hal quietly, "but don't talk so loud, Stubbs. I sent the list to Chester by a trusted aide, and I have no doubt he is on his way out of the country with it now."
"How'd you get it?" inquired Stubbs.
"By George!" said Stubbs. "You fellows have all the luck. I tried and failed."
"Maybe you didn't know where it was," said Hal.
"Didn't, eh? Say, let me ask you something. Didn't you think it was rather strange when you approached General Rentzel's place that there was no one around, eh?"
"Well, such a thought had occurred to me," Hal admitted, "but I supposed no one was on guard through overconfidence."
"Do you want me to tell you where the guards were?"
"Why, yes, if you know."
"Well, I know all right. They were chasing me around the highways and byways, if you want to know," Stubbs exploded. "They discovered me trying to get into the house and I ran for my life. Well, this beats the Dutch! I cleared the road for you and you grabbed the list!"
Stubbs became silent.
"At all events," said Hal, "we got the list -- and that is what counts, after all."
"True," said Stubbs, and extended a hand in the darkness, which Hal grasped warmly. "Well," he said, "we're all tarred with the same brush, and it will give these Huns great delight to stand us all up before a wall or with ropes around our necks in a bunch. The sooner we get back to our lines the better for all our families."
"But the question is, how?" said Hal quietly.
"I've got a big automobile waiting for me about a mile from here," said Stubbs. "If we can get into it we can go a long ways without interruption."
"They'll wire ahead," said Hal
"So they will," Stubbs agreed, but I've also got a pocket full of the prettiest passports and other credentials you ever saw. I didn't chop down my bridges behind me, as you seem to have done. Once in my car, as I say, and we'll move away from here."
"Then we may as well be moving," said McKenzie, who had not spoken until that moment.
"Right," Hal agreed. "But we must be careful. No telling how many Germans are nearby, scouring the streets for us. Lead the way, Stubbs."
"That's right," said Stubbs, "pick me for the easy work."
"I'll lead the way if the little man is afraid," growled McKenzie.
Stubbs whirled on him in the darkness.
"Look here!" he exclaimed, "I allow no man to talk to me like that. Understand?"
McKenzie was somewhat taken aback, but he growled again:
"Then lead on and don't talk so much."
Stubbs would have made " another angry retort, but Hal nudged him to move.
Muttering to himself, Stubbs led the way to the street again.
There was no one in sight as they emerged from the darkened house, and they moved off down the street with rapid strides. Occasionally they saw passing civilians, with now and then an officer or trooper or so, but Berlin seemed to be sleeping securely in the knowledge that the enemy was far from its door.
Hal gazed at his watch by the glare of a street light. It was almost 4 o'clock.
"Two hours to daylight," he muttered. "We shall have to hurry."
Fifteen minutes later Stubbs slowed down.
"My automobile is in a small garage around the next corner," he said, and added significantly, "if nothing has happened to it."
"Let's get it then," said Hal. "We don't want to stand here."
Stubbs moved on again and Hal and McKenzie followed him closely.
There was no sign of a living person near the little garage. Stubbs approached and attempted to throw back the closed door. It would not budge.
"Let me try, Stubbs," said Hal, pushing forward.
He took from his pocket a short but well tempered piece of steel. He found that the door was held by a padlock. He inserted the piece of steel in the top, and, putting forth all his strength, broke the lock.
There was a sharp report as the lock fell to pieces.
"Quick, Stubbs!" Hal cried. "That noise will have aroused every sleepy policeman within a mile."
McKenzie lent a hand and the door was thrown back. Stubbs gave a gasp of relief. The automobile was there.
"You do the driving, Hal," cried Stubbs. "Pile in here, man," this to McKenzie. "She's all ready to start. Come on."
The others wasted no time in words. McKenzie scrambled in the back seat alongside Stubbs, while Hal sprang to the wheel. A moment later the automobile moved slowly from the garage.
As the big machine came clear into the street, a bright light suddenly flashed around the next comer and headed toward them. Hal knew in a moment what it was. It was a motorcycle, bearing a policeman. There was but one course to pursue, and Hal acted without hesitation. He threw the machine into high and it dashed directly toward the motorcycle.
The man saved his life by swerving swiftly to one side. His machine bumped the curb and threw the rider off. When he picked himself up the automobile bearing the three friends was turning a corner, apparently on one wheel for Hal had scarcely diminished the speed.
The German drew his revolver and fired a shot ill the air. He was sounding the alarm and summoning assistance at the same time.
Quickly he righted his motorcycle, mounted, and made off in pursuit of the high- powered automobile.
At the sound of the German's shot, Hal increased the speed of the automobile.
"McKenzie!" he cried.
McKenzie leaned forward so as to catch the words the lad shouted back to him.
"Get your guns ready!" cried Hal. "Don't let anyone come at us from the rear."
McKenzie understood. He repeated Hal's words to Stubbs, shouting to make himself heard.
"Can't anyone catch us from behind," Stubbs shouted back. "This car will outrun anything in Germany."
McKenzie made no reply, but looked to his guns. He knew that it was not pursuing automobiles that Hal was afraid of; but high-powered motorcycles in use in Germany would probably be able to overtake the car no matter what its speed.
So far, however, the road behind was clear.
TOWARD THE FRONTIER
Hal set his course by instinct and the glow of the disappearing moon, and a few moments after their swift departure, it seemed, they were beyond the city itself, headed straight for the Dutch frontier.
There was no pursuit, and Hal rightly judged the reason to be because he had thrown pursuers off the track by several sharp turns before leaving the city proper.
After an hour's riding, Hal made out specks ahead that he took to be automobiles. He increased the speed of the car slightly to make sure of this fact. The car driven by Hal was gaining, but so slightly as to be almost imperceptible.
"Those fellows are hitting up a pretty swift gait," the lad muttered. "I wonder why."
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