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- The Boy Allies with Haig in Flanders - 4/33 -
McKenzie with his work. And if he comes safely through this, I feel confident he will not remain long in the ranks."
The found McKenzie, the erstwhile Canadian sergeant, in his tent.
"McKenzie," said Hal, "you are about to take a trip, I see."
"That so, sir? I hadn't heard of it."
"Yes," Hal continued. "I heard a man say you were about to go to Germany."
"And the man," said McKenzie, "was --"
"General Pershing, McKenzie."
"Very well, sir," said McKenzie, to whom the few words told the story of important work to be done.
"In that event, I presume that General Pershing has seen fit to allow me leave of absence."
"He has, McKenzie. I shall present the order to Captain O'Neill at once. In the meantime, see that your guns are cleaned, and that you have an extra supply of cartridges. We may need them. Also, leave any papers or other marks of identification behind. When you are ready, come to my quarters."
"I shall be there in half an hour, sir."
Hal and Chester made their way to Captain O'Neill's quarters. Hal presented the papers, granting leaves of absence to the three.
"Hm-m," muttered Captain O'Neill. "Something up, eh? Well, I wish I were going with you." He extended a hand.
"Good luck," he said quietly."
"We'll have to have a leader for this party," said Hal, "one whose word shall be law. I'm agreeable to Chester."
"I'd rather have you," said Chester.
McKenzie also voted for Hal, who already had done him some service. This agreement, stood.
"All right," said Hal. "Now that I'm in command, I'll outline the course of procedure. We'll go from here to the Dutch border."
"How about passports?" Chester wanted to know.
"That's simple enough. You remember the time when we drew up a set of fake passports representing ourselves to be correspondents of the New York Gazette? We'll follow the same plan, except that we each will be represented as correspondents of different papers. See, I've already drawn, them."
"I see," said Chester, "but American passports won't be honored in Germany now."
"But they will be in Holland," said Hal. "We'll see what can be done about having them changed there. Now, let's see if we know who we are."
He passed the fake passports to the others.
"I'm Barney McCann, eh?" said McKenzie, gazing at the paper he held in his hand. "Oh, well, I guess I can talk Irish as well as German if I have to. And I represent the Chicago Mail."
"I'm still Chester Crawford," said Chester, "and I represent the New York Gazette."
"I'm Hal Paine, and I represent the Philadelphia Globe," said Hal. "We'll probably have to change our names when we go over the German border, but these should answer their purposes in Holland. Fortunately, we have learned a few things from Stubbs, so we are not unfamiliar with the workings of a newspaper."
"Guess we had better get out of these uniforms," said Chester.
"Right. We'll don suits of plain khaki, such as Stubbs wears, and we'll equip ourselves with the necessary paraphernalia."
This was a simple task, and several hours later, horseback, the lads made their way toward where British troops, supported by French, were close to, the border of The Netherlands.
They showed their passports, prepared by Hal, to the British military authorities, and were permitted to pass.
Holland, although not a participant in the great war, nevertheless, soon after the outbreak of hostilities, had felt herself called upon to mobilize her military forces that she might protect her borders should one of the belligerents attempt to overrun her, as the Germans had overrun Belgium at the outbreak of the war. Therefore, when the three travelers reached the border, they were held up by the military.
Hal presented his fake American passport, and Chester and McKenzie did likewise. The officer who had accosted them turned them over to his superior.
"Your intentions," said the officer, "I hope are such as not to break Holland's neutrality?"
"We're perfectly peaceable, sir," returned Hal with a smile.
"Very well. This is a neutral country, and you are, of course, free to travel about it at your leisure so long as you conduct yourselves properly. Of course, were you American soldiers it would be necessary for me to place you under arrest, and YOU would be interned until the end of the war."
"I understand that, sir," said Hal.
"By the way," said the Dutch officer, "there is a Dutch newspaperman here at this moment. Perhaps you would like to meet him. He is Herr Heindrick Block, of the Amsterdamer."
"We shall be pleased," said Hal quietly.
The Dutch officer excused himself, and returned a moment later with a young Dutchman, whom he introduced to the three friends. They shook hands all around.
"I've already met a compatriot of yours," said the young Dutchman, smiling, "a Herr Stubbs. He is with one of the New York papers -- I forget which."
Hal and Chester gave a start of surprise, but quickly recovered themselves.
"He is with my paper, The Gazette, sir," returned Chester. "Is he in these parts?"
"He was yesterday," replied Block. "I do not know where he is now."
The three friends took an instant liking to the young Dutch newspaper man. He led the three to where he was temporarily quartered.
"We can have a little chat here," he said.
During the course of the conversation Hal asked:
"And what is the sentiment in Holland regarding the war?"
The young Dutchman hesitated a moment, and then turned and gazed around quickly.
"The sentiment," he said at last, "is that Germany must be crushed. Of course, at this moment Holland cannot afford to enter the arena. Germany has massed thousands of troops upon our border. An unneutral act would be dangerous. Nevertheless, Holland's sympathies are with the Allies -- have been from the start. There is another factor besides Holland's natural gratitude to England -- that makes for this. Germany has overrun Holland, as well as the rest of the world with spies. Holland is offended, but cannot afford to show it -- now. But while we are kept quiet, there are few of us who would not do much to help the Allied cause."
Hal thought quickly. He glanced at the young Dutchman shrewdly. He felt he could be trusted.
"Then," said the lad quietly, "can you conceive of any way by which we can get passports from the Dutch government that will pass us into Germany?"
The young Dutchman manifested no surprise.
"Have no fear," he said, as Chester and McKenzie manifested some anxiety at Hal's words. "I shall not betray you. Only yesterday I was able to get a passport for your friend Herr Stubbs."
"What?" cried Hal. "Stubbs gone into Germany?"
"I supposed you knew that," said Block. "I supposed he was one of you."
"No," said Chester, "Stubbs is what he represents himself to be -- a war correspondent."
"Nevertheless," said Block, "he has gone into Germany as Herr Klepstein, a Dutch newspaperman."
"That means," said Hal, "that it will be hard work getting passports for us."
"Not at all," said Block. "I can do that with ease. There are many Dutch correspondents in Germany. Two or three more won't matter. One of you can take my passport." He looked at Hal. "You and I look something alike, anyhow," he said.
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