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- The Boy Scout Aviators - 4/24 -
will show it best by serving as loyally and as faithfully under him as you have under me. I shall be with you in spirit, no matter where I am. Now it's, getting late. I think we'd better break up for tonight. We will make a special order, too, for the present. Every scout in the troop will report at scout headquarters until further notice, every day, at nine o'clock in the morning.
"I think we'll have to make up our minds not to play many games for the time that is coming. There is real work ahead of us if war comes -- work just as real and just as hard, in its way, as if we were all going to fight for England. Everyone cannot fight, but the ones who stay at home and do the work that comes to their hands will serve England just as loyally as if they were on the firing line. Now up, all of you! Three cheers for King George!"
They were given with a will -- and Harry Fleming joined in as heartily as any of them. He was as much of an American as he had ever been, but something in him responded with a strange thrill to England's need, as Grenfel had expressed it. After all, England had been and was the mother country. England and America had fought, in their time, and America had won, but now, for a hundred years, there had been peace between them. And he and these English boys were of the same blood and the same language, binding them very closely together. "Blood is thicker than water, after all!" he thought.
Then every scout there shook hands with John Grenfel. He smiled as he greeted them.
"I hope this will pass over," he said, "and that we'll do together during this vacation all the things we've planned to do. But if we can't, and if I'm called away, good-bye! Do your duty as scouts, and I'll know it somehow! And, in case I don't see you again, good-bye!"
"You're going to stand with us, then, Fleming?" he said, as Harry came up to shake hands. "Good boy! We're of one blood, we English and you Americans. We've had our quarrels, but relatives always do quarrel. And you'll not be asked, as a scout here, to do anything an American shouldn't do."
Then it was over. They were out in the street. In the distance newsboys were yelling their extra still. Many people were out, something unusual in that quiet neighborhood. And suddenly one of the scouts lifted his voice, and in a moment they were all singing:
Rule, rule, Britannia! Britannia rules the waves! Britons never, never, never shall be slaves!
Scores of voices swelled the chorus, joining the fresh young voices of the scouts. And then someone started that swinging march song that had leaped into popularity at the time of the Boer War, Soldiers of the Queen. The words were trifling, but there was a fine swing to the music, and it was not the words that counted -- it was the spirit of those who sang.
As he marched along with the others Harry noticed one thing. In a few hours the whole appearance of the streets had changed. From every house, in the still night air, drooped a Union Jack. The flag was everywhere; some houses had flung out half a dozen to the wind.
Harry was seeing a sight, that once seen, can never be forgotten. He was seeing a nation aroused, preparing to fight. If war came to England it would be no war decreed by a few men. It would be a war proclaimed by the people themselves, demanded by them. The nation was stirring; it was casting off the proverbial lethargy and indifference of the English. Even here, in this usually quiet suburb of London, the home of business and professional men who were comfortably well off, the stirring of the spirit of England was evident. And suddenly the song of the scouts and those who had joined them was drowned out by a new noise, sinister, threatening. It was the angry note that is raised by a mob.
Leslie Franklin took command at once. "Here, we must see what's wrong!" he cried. "Scouts, attention! Fall in! Double quick -- follow me!"
He ran in the direction of the sound, and they followed. Five minutes brought them to the scene of the disturbance. They reached a street of cheaper houses and small shops. About one of these a crowd was surging, made up largely of young men of the lower class, for in West Kensington, as in all parts of London, the homes of the rich and of the poor rub one another's elbows in easy familiarity. The crowd seemed to be trying to break in the door of this shop. Already all the glass of the show windows had been broken, and from within there came guttural cries of alarm and anger.
"It's Dutchy's place!" cried Dick Mercer. "He's a German, and they're trying to smash his place up!"
"Halt!" cried Franklin. He gathered the scouts about him. "This won't do," he said, angry spots of color showing on his cheek bones. "No one's gone for the police -- or, if they have, this crowd of muckers will smash everything up and maybe hurt the old Dutchman before the Bobbies get here. Form together now -- and when I give the word, go through! Once we get between them and the shop, we can stop them. Maybe they won't know who we are at first, and our uniforms may stop them."
"Now!" he said, a moment later. And, with a shout, the scouts charged through the little mob in a body.
They had no trouble in getting through. A few determined people, knowing just what they mean to do, can always overcome a greater number of disorganized ones. That is why disciplined troops can conquer five times their number of rioters or savages. And so in a moment they reached the shop.
"Let us in! We're here to protect you!" cried Franklin to old Schmidt, who was cowering within, with his wife. Then he turned to the rioters, who, getting over their first surprise, were threatening again.
"For shame!" he cried. "Do you think you're doing anything for England? War's not declared yet -- and, if it was, you might better be looking for German soldiers to shoot at than trying to hurt an old man who never did anyone any harm!"
There was a threatening noise from the crowd, but Franklin was undismayed.
"You'll have to get through us to reach them !" he cried. "We --"
But he was interrupted. A whistle sounded. The next moment the police were there.
PICKED FOR SERVICE
The coming of the police cleared the little crowd of would-be rioters away in no time. There were only three or four of the Bobbies, but they were plenty. A smiling sergeant came up to Franklin.
"More of your Boy Scout work, sir?" he said, pleasantly. "I heard you standing them off! That was very well done. If we can depend on you to help us all over London, we'll have an easier job than we looked for."
"We saw a whole lot of those fellows piling up against the shop here," said Franklin. "So of course we pitched in. We couldn't let anything like that happen."
"There'll be a lot of it at first, I'm afraid, sir," said the sergeant. "Still, it won't last. If all we hear is true, they'll be taking a lot of those young fellows away and giving them some real fighting to do to keep them quiet."
"Well, we'll help whenever we can, sergeant," said Franklin. "If the inspector thinks it would be a good thing to have the shops that are kept by Germans watched, I'm quite sure it can be arranged. If there's war I suppose a lot of you policemen will go?"
"We'll supply our share, sir," said the sergeant. "I'm expecting orders any minute -- I'm a reservist myself. Coldstream Guards, sir."
"Congratulations!" said Franklin. He spoke a little wistfully. "I wonder if they'll let me go? I think I'm old enough! Well, can we help any more here tonight?"
"No, thank you, sir. You've done very well as it is. Pity all the lads don't belong to the Boy Scouts. We'd have less trouble, I'll warrant. I'll just leave a man here to watch the place. But they won't be back. They don't mean any real harm, as it is. It's just their spirits -- and their being a bit thoughtless, you know."
"All right," said Franklin. "Glad we came along. Good-night, sergeant. Fall in! March!"
There was a cheer from the crowd that had gathered to watch the disturbance as the scouts move away. A hundred yards from the scene of what might have been a tragedy, except for their prompt action, the scouts dispersed. Dick, Mercer and Harry Fleming naturally enough, since they lived so close to one another, went home together.
"That was quick work," said Harry.
"Yes. I'm glad we got there," said Dick. "Old Dutchy's all right - he doesn't seem like a German. But I think it would be a good thing if they did catch a few of the others and scrag them!"
"No, it wouldn't," said Harry soberly. "Don't get to feeling that way, Dick. Suppose you were living in Berlin. You wouldn't want a lot of German roughs to come and destroy your house or your shop and handle you that way, would you?"
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