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- The Boy Allies with Haig in Flanders - 9/33 -


There came the sound of rapid footsteps in the next room. Hal picked Gladys up in his arms, carried her to the window, and dropped her to the ground as he said in a low voice:

"To hesitate means failure. Do as I say and quickly."

He returned to McKenzie's side. When he reached there McKenzie extinguished his light.

"Well, we've got the list," he said quietly.

"We have," Hal agreed, "but our lives probably will pay the forfeit. We must stay here until we are discovered. To follow Gladys would mean her capture."

"We won't have to wait long," said McKenzie grimly. "Here they come."

It was true.

Footsteps came toward them. Suddenly the room burst into light as someone pressed an electric, light button. General Rentzel strode into the room.

His eyes fell upon Hal and McKenzie immediately. He said nothing, but gazed about. Then he saw the shattered safe. He dashed forward with a cry and examined the interior, carefully. Then his face turned white as he faced Hal.

"The list," he said in a hoarse voice, "where is it?"

Hal smiled.

"Where you will never get it, I hope," he replied quietly.

General Rentzel strode forward with a shout.

"They are spies! Seize them, men!" he cried.

Hal's right arm shot out and the chief of the German secret service sprawled on the floor.

"To the stairs!" Hal cried to McKenzie.

The Canadian needed no urging. Two German soldiers fell to the floor under his quick blows and then McKenzie joined Hal on the steps which fled upward from the rear of the room.

Hall produced a revolver. McKenzie did likewise.

"The first man who moves dies!" cried Hal, as he moved his revolver from side to side.

The men below, of whom there were perhaps a dozen, stood still. Apparently each was afraid to make the first move.

General Rentzel sat up and wiped his face with a handkerchief.

"Shoot them!" he cried.

From the rear of the crowd there was a flash of fire and a report. A bullet sped over Hal's head. McKenzie's revolver flashed and a German fell to rise no more.

At this moment McKenzie took command.

"Up the steps!" he cried.

Hal realized that to hesitate meant instant death. He was, perhaps, two steps above McKenzie, and he covered the rest in two leaps. There he stopped and covered the room. He was in position to protect McKenzie's retreat.

McKenzie also leaped to the top step, and there, for a moment, they were out of the line of fire. To reach them it was necessary for the Germans to stand directly in front of the steps, and there was no man below who felt called upon to face this certain death, in spite of the hoarse commands of General Rentzel.

But in a situation like this could not last long. Other officers and soldiers, aroused by the explosion appeared on the scene. Hal realized that their predicament was desperate. With a cry to McKenzie, Hal darted back along the hall, turned into the first room he saw, flung open the window and leaped to the ground.

McKenzie was close behind him.

Hal led the way along the street at a rapid walk, with McKenzie at his heels. The lad turned down several side streets, doubling occasionally on his tracks in an effort to throw off possible pursuers. As they drew farther away from the house where they had been discovered they encountered fewer and fewer people. Apparently the sound of the explosion had not reached here.

They were safe for the moment and Hal breathed easier.

"Hope Chester has a good start," he said to McKenzie in a low voice.

"He should have by this time," was the reply. "They figure, of course, that we have the list."

Hal would have replied, but as they passed a house at that moment a man stepped from the door. Hal uttered an exclamation of pure amazement.

The newcomer was dressed in costume that he had worn since the war began. He looked much as upon the night that Hal first saw him. He paid no attention to Hal and McKenzie at first, but Hal brought him about with a word.

"Stubbs!"

It was indeed the little war correspondent of whose presence in Germany Herr Block had told the three friends before they left Holland.

Stubbs wheeled sharply. He saw Hal and turned pale.

"Hello -- hello, Hal," he gasped. "Wh -- what are you doing here?"

"Is that your house?" demanded Hal, indicating the one from which Stubbs had just emerged.

"Yes; why?"

"Then we'll go in with you," said Hal quietly.

"But I don't want to go in," declared Stubbs.

"But we do," said Hal. "Meet my friend, McKenzie, Stubbs."

"I don't want to meet him," declared Stubbs. "I tell you I'm in danger here."

"So are we," said Hal. "That's the reason we're going to take advantage of your hospitality. Come on in, Stubbs. We've got to get out of this country."

"I'll never get out alive now that you've showed up," Stubbs mumbled.

But he led the way inside.

CHAPTER IX

STUBBS IS CRESTFALLEN

Inside, Stubbs struck a match.

"I say! Hold up, there!" Hal exclaimed, and grasped the hand that held the match and extinguished the flame. "We don't want any light in here," he added.

In vain Stubbs tried to pierce the darkness with his eyes to make out the lad's features.

"Humph!" muttered the little man. "What have you been up to now?"

"Stubbs," said Hal, "the whole of Germany will be scouring the city for us before long. We've got to get away from here."

"Well," said Stubbs, "the whole of Germany is already looking for me, but they haven't found me yet."

"What are they hunting you for?" demanded Hal. "Surely, you haven't harmed anyone."

"Maybe not; but they've discovered who I am."

"That you're an American war correspondent, eh?"

"Why, no," said Stubbs quietly, "they've discovered that I'm here at command of the American state department searching for a certain list of names."

It was Hal's turn to be surprised and be started back.

"What's that?" he cried, believing that he could not have heard aright.

Stubbs repeated his statement.

"But I thought --" began Hal.

"And what business have you to think!" demanded Stubbs with sudden anger. "Haven't I the same, right as you to do something for my country?"

"Of course, Mr. Stubbs, and I think all more of you for it, but at the same time I never dreamed --"

"Of course you didn't. Neither did anyone else, which is the reason my services were accepted. That is, no one knew it outside of Germany, but they seem to have spotted me here soon enough."

"I see," said Hal. "Then you must have made an effort to get the list of German agents in the United States."

Stubbs gave an exclamation of amazement.


The Boy Allies with Haig in Flanders - 9/33

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