The Project Gutenberg eBook of The Motor Boys in the Army; or, Ned, Bob and Jerry as Volunteers

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Title: The Motor Boys in the Army; or, Ned, Bob and Jerry as Volunteers

Author: Clarence Young

Illustrator: Robert Emmett Owen

Release date: October 19, 2016 [eBook #53320]

Language: English

Credits: Produced by Donald Cummings and the Online Distributed
Proofreading Team at






Ned, Bob and Jerry as Volunteers







12mo. Cloth. Illustrated. Colored Jacket.



Copyright, 1918, by
Cupples & Leon Company

The Motor Boys in the Army

Printed in U. S. A.


I The Fire Alarm 1
II The Runaway Engine 9
III “Just As Easy!” 16
IV Crooked Nose 24
V The Odd Man 33
VI First Call for Volunteers 42
VII Chunky’s Trouble 51
VIII A Pro-German Meeting 59
IX A Fight in the Dark 68
X The Parting 79
XI Off to Camp Dixton 85
XII Pug Kennedy 91
XIII In the Camp 100
XIV Somewhat Different 108
XV In Uniform 117
XVI Hot Words 125
XVII A Midnight Meeting 132
XVIII A Stab in the Back 141
XIX A Cave-In 152
XX A Practice March 159
XXI Crooked Nose Again 166
XXII The Accusation 174
XXIII The Minstrel Show 183
XXIV A Black-Face Pursuit 190
XXV “A Prisoner” 197
XXVI A Night Alarm 207
XXVII The Hand Grenade 213
XXVIII The Storm 223
XXIX In the Old Barn 229
XXX The Round-Up 237






“You’re going, aren’t you, Ned?”

“Surest thing you know!”

“Will you be there, Bob?”

“Of course, Jerry. It ought to be quite a meeting, I should say.”

“You said something!” exclaimed Ned Slade, with an air of conviction. “Things will whoop up in great shape. Why, there hasn’t been so much excitement in Cresville since I can remember.”

“Not since the old lumberyard burned,” added Jerry Hopkins, as he walked down the street, one arm linked in that of Ned Slade on his left, and the other hooked up with Bob Baker’s on his right. “It doesn’t seem possible that we’ve been drawn into this, after all the President did to keep us out; but it’s true.”


“Of course it’s true!” exclaimed Ned. “The President goes before Congress and asks for the whole strength of the nation to back him up, and defy Germany. And he gets it, too!”

“That’s what he does,” added Jerry. “It’s one of the strongest declarations about the war I ever read; and we’ve had a chance to read a few in the last two years. America against Germany! I never expected it, but, now it’s come, we’ll have to get in it good and strong.”

“And we’ve got to hustle, too!” added Bob Baker.

“That’ll be something new for you, Chunky!” observed Jerry Hopkins, with a chuckle. “You’re getting fatter than ever,” and he caught some of his friend’s superfluous flesh between thumb and finger and made Bob squirm.

“Quit it!” the latter begged. “What do you think I’m made of, anyhow?”

“I was just trying to find out,” answered Jerry, innocently. “’Tisn’t as firm as it might be, but when we get back to Boxwood Hall, and you have a little tennis or football to harden you up, I think you’ll feel better.”

“I’d feel better right now if you’d quit pinching me!” exclaimed the tormented one. “Try it on Ned a bit.”

“Oh, he doesn’t need waking up,” laughed[3] Jerry. “But say, do we need tickets for this meeting to-night?”

“I don’t believe so,” remarked Bob, whose nickname of Chunky fitted him well. “But let’s go down the street and read one of the notices. There’s one in front of Porter’s drug store. And while we’re there we can——”

“Get chocolate sodas! I know you were going to say that!” broke in Ned. “Say, I thought you were on a diet, Chunky. The idea of taking chocolate! Don’t you know it’s fattening?”

“Who said anything about chocolate sodas?” demanded the fat one. “I didn’t mention it!” and he glared at Ned. But Jerry was between the two.

“I know you didn’t, little one!” returned Ned sweetly. “But you were going to, and I made it easy for you. However, I don’t believe one chocolate will hurt you; and since you are going to buy——”

“Who said I was?” demanded Bob.

“Why, didn’t you?” asked Ned, with an assumption of innocence. “I’m sure I heard Chunky invite us to have sodas. Didn’t you, Jerry?”

“Sure!” was the ready answer. “Don’t try to back out, Bob. It’s too late.”

“Well, it’s of no use trying to buck up against a conspiracy like this,” sighed the stout youth.[4] “I guess I’ve got the price,” and he rattled some change in his pocket.

The trio of lads, nodding now and then to acquaintances they passed, kept on down the street until they reached Porter’s drug store. In the window was a placard announcing a patriotic meeting to be held in the auditorium that evening, for the purpose, as it stated, of:

Upholding President Wilson, and proving to him that Cresville approves of his course in declaring a state of war with Germany exists.

“No tickets needed,” read Jerry. “It’s a case of first come first served, I guess.”

They entered the drug store, and soon were being served, talking, the while, of the coming patriotic meeting.

“Colonel Wentworth is going to preside,” announced Ned.

“Yes, and there’ll be enough rhetorical fireworks to stock a battleship,” observed Jerry.

“Well, the old soldier means all right,” added Bob, who seemed to be of a kind and mellow disposition, now that he was having something to eat. Eating, as may have been guessed, was one of Chunky’s strong points. “There isn’t a more patriotic citizen than Colonel Wentworth,” went on the stout youth, stirring his chocolate ice-cream[5] soda to mix it well before drinking. “He did his share in the Spanish war, and now he’s anxious to volunteer again, I hear.”

“He’s a little too old, isn’t he?” asked Ned.

“Yes, but he’s in fine shape. Well, we’ll go to the meeting, anyhow, and help whoop things up.”

“That’s right!” chimed in Jerry Hopkins. “These are the days to show your colors.”

It will be evident to the reader that the period of the opening of this story was in the spring, following the announcement of war between the United States and Germany.

Of the events leading up to that announcement nothing need be said here, for they are too well known. But even though every one who had closely followed the trend of thought and happenings, knew there was nothing for an honor-loving and conscientious nation to do except take the step advocated by President Wilson, still the actual declaration that a state of war existed, when it was made, came as a shock.

Then followed the reaction. A reaction which resulted in the holding of many meetings, in the organization of many societies and in new activities in many that were already organized.

The New England town of Cresville, the home of Ned, Bob and Jerry, was no exception to this rule. It was a progressive town, or small city if[6] you will, and numbered among its members citizens of worth and patriotism. So it is not strange that a meeting should be called to “back up” the President.

The meeting had its inception with Colonel Wentworth, a Son of the Revolution, an officer in the Spanish-American war, where he had fought with the regulars both in Cuba and in the Philippines, and an all-around true-hearted and red-blooded American. He felt that Cresville should make her position known, and in order to stir her blood, as well as add fuel to his own, he proposed the holding of a patriotic mass meeting, at which a number of speakers should be heard. A United States Senator had promised to come and tell something of the events leading up to the formal declaration of war.

Ned, Bob and Jerry, home from their college, Boxwood Hall, for the Easter vacation, had read the notices of the meeting, and, having followed with interest the course of events in America preceding the entrance of the United States into the war and also having closely observed the course of England, France, Russia and Italy against a common enemy, had decided to attend the meeting.

They had planned to take a motor trip to a distant city, to attend a concert by the Boxwood Hall Glee Club and a dance afterward, at which the[7] boys expected to meet some young ladies in whom they were more than ordinarily interested. But when Jerry had seen the notices posted for the patriotic rally he had said to his chums:

“Fellows, the dance racket is off! We’ve got to show ourselves at the auditorium.”

“That’s right,” Ned had answered. “Dad’s a great friend of the colonel’s, and he’s going with mother. He told me I ought to show myself there, and I guess we’ll have to.”

So it was decided, and, a few hours after having been the guests of Chunky at the soda fountain, Ned and Jerry, with their stout companion, found themselves part of a throng at the door of the town auditorium, a newly constructed meeting place.

“Some push!” exclaimed Ned, as he felt himself being carried forward in the crush, for the doors had just been opened.

“It’s going to be a success all right,” added Jerry. “They’ll never get ’em all in!”

The hall was, indeed, filled, and standing room was at the proverbial premium when Colonel Wentworth, visibly proud of the success of his undertaking, advanced to welcome the gathering and to introduce the first speaker.

There was the speaking usual at such a meeting, only this time it was tinged with a deeper note of seriousness. America had not yet awakened[8] to the realization of what war really meant, and was going to mean. And some of the speakers tried to bring this home to the people of Cresville.

The meeting was rather long, and even though they were as full of fire, zeal, energy and patriotism as any person there, Ned, Bob and Jerry, after two hours of speech-making, began to wish themselves out of the place. They felt they had done their duty, and were longing for a little change, when it came, most unexpectedly.

They were sitting in the rear of the hall, close to the main entrance doors, when Ned heard a sound that made him suddenly sit up.

“Hear that?” he asked, in a whisper, of Jerry.


“Fire alarm! It’s from the box down near dad’s store! I’m going to see what it is!”

He rose softly, so as not to disturb the speaker. The sound of the alarm could be plainly heard. Bob and Jerry also arose and made their way out, as did several others. An undercurrent of excitement seemed to pervade the meeting. As the boys reached the door, there came from the street a cry of fear.



“Did you hear that?” asked Jerry of his two chums, when they were in the anteroom of the auditorium, and could speak without disturbing the meeting.

“Sounded as if some one was hurt,” added Ned.

A number of men and boys had come out at the same time as had the three friends, and one of them now hurried to the door and looked down the street. There were a number of electric lights, and, as the trees were bare of leaves, a good view could be had.

“Look at that!” cried the man who had made the observation. “Look!”

“What is it?”

“The fire engine horses are running away!” was the excited answer. “The driver’s been thrown off, and the horses are pulling the engine down Hoyt street hill lickity-split! Say, there’ll be a smash-up all right!”

It did seem so, as Ned, Bob and Jerry noted a moment later, when they hurried out in front[10] of the auditorium and gazed down the thoroughfare. The engine could plainly be seen, smoke and sparks pouring from it, for the automatic apparatus, that starts a blaze under the boiler, had been set going by the engineer as the steamer pulled out of its quarters.

The engine was a new one for Cresville, being one of two purchased to replace the old hand-drawn pumping affairs that had so long done duty in the town.

“Come on!” suddenly exclaimed Jerry Hopkins, and he led his two chums over toward his auto, the trio having come to the meeting in the powerful machine.

“What are you going to do?” asked Ned.

“Catch those horses!” replied Jerry as he hurried on.

And in the momentary pause that ensued, while he and his friends were getting in the car, to give pursuit to the runaway fire engine steeds, I will take a brief moment to acquaint my new readers with the chief characters of this story.

Those of you who formed your friendship for the chums in the book called “The Motor Boys,” know Ned, Bob and Jerry full well by this time.

Jerry Hopkins was the son of a rich widow of Cresville, and was the leader of the trio, the three boys having been chums, friends and inseparable companions for many years. Bob Baker, otherwise[11] known as “Chunky,” was the son of Andrew Baker, a banker of the town, while Ned Slade’s father kept the chief department store in Cresville. As already stated, this town, or city, as its more enthusiastic admirers called it, was in New England, not far from Boston.

As may be guessed from the title of the first book, the lads were much interested in machines propelled by gasoline motors. Their initial venture was with motor cycles, after their bicycle days, and then they secured an automobile, in which they went on many a tour, even down into Mexico, as related in other volumes of the “Motor Boys Series.”

They later acquired a motor boat and voyaged on the Atlantic and Pacific, and several books are devoted to their activities in this regard. As might be expected, the perfection of the aeroplane gave the boys a chance for new activities, and they ventured above the clouds more than once.

From the heights to the depths was a natural descent, and a submarine took the motor boys under the ocean where they had more than one thrill. Then they went back to their motor car and boat again; and had more exciting times on road and river.

In “The Motor Boys at Boxwood Hall; or, Ned, Bob and Jerry as Freshmen,” the seventeenth book of this series, you will find our heroes[12] in a new phase. Too long, their parents decided, had they been living a free and careless life, with no systematic studying to fit them for the struggle that lay before them. So they were sent to school again, and Boxwood Hall was the place selected for them.

Because a certain clique there had the idea that these lads regarded themselves too seriously, there was a conspiracy formed against Ned, Bob and Jerry at the school, and they entered under a handicap. How they worked it off, and came in “first under the wire,” will be found fully set down. Also may be read how the faithful trio, at the last moment, turned what might have been an athletic defeat into victory, and, incidentally, helped a fellow student to develop his character along the right lines.

Mr. Slade and Mr. Baker were financially interested in a certain western cattle ranch, and when it was learned that serious thefts had taken place there the motor boys were eager to go out and try to solve the mystery. How they did is told in “The Motor Boys on a Ranch.”

From then on matters at Boxwood Hall went more smoothly, and Ned, Bob and Jerry were accorded the place to which they were entitled.

They had now come home for the Easter vacation, to find their town plunged in war excitement, in which the whole country shared.


“Do you mean you’re going to chase after that engine in this car?” asked Bob, as he managed to fling himself into the rear seat, while Jerry and Ned took the front one and the former started the motor.

“That’s just what I’m going to do,” Jerry answered. “If Jim Foster, the driver, has been thrown off, there’s no one aboard to stop the fire horses.”

“Well, Jim was thrown off all right!” exclaimed Ned. “They’ve picked him up, and are carrying him into Doctor Newton’s place.”

“Hank Tedder, the engineer, is hanging on all right,” added Bob, as he peered down the street and observed a man clinging to the rear of the swaying engine.

“Yes, but he can’t climb over and get into Foster’s seat and stop the horses,” decided Jerry, as he turned on more speed and swung his big touring car after the engine ahead of him. “This is the only way to stop those frightened horses.”

“Unless some one gets in front of ’em and brings ’em up,” added Ned.

“Who’d take a risk like that?” asked Bob, from the rear seat. “In fact, I don’t see how you are going to work it, Jerry.”

“I don’t quite know myself; but I’m going to try. You know the way a mounted policeman stops a runaway team is to ride up alongside of[14] them, get his horse to going at the same speed as the bolters, and then gradually bring them to a stop.”

“And you’re going to try that?” asked Bob, incredulously.

“Sure! Why not? It’s the only thing to do,” answered Jerry, calmly. “If those horses keep on down the Hoyt street hill they’ll go smack into the river! It’s a pity they didn’t get auto engines while they were at it.”

“That’s right!” agreed Ned. “Keep on, Jerry, old man!”

“I will! Hold tight, though, fellows, when it comes to the last lap. There may be an upset!”

Indeed the boys were taking a desperate chance. The frightened horses, hitched to the heavy engine, were pulling it along at top speed, and the downward slope of the street added to their momentum. As yet the grade was gradual, but, a little farther on, the slant was more decided, leading down to the river.

Hoyt street turned at the end, and went along the river bank, but at the speed they were going it would be impossible for the horses to make the turn, the boys thought.

By this time a number of persons, some of whom had left the meeting, were in the street, following after the runaway engine, and shouting wildly. One or two persons in automobiles started after[15] the speeding horses, but Jerry’s car was well in the lead, though the horses had a good start.

The engineer of the steamer, realizing the danger should any pedestrians or persons in vehicles get in the path of the wild horses, pulling the tons of steel and fire behind them, kept the whistle going spasmodically.

The new engine house, as are all those in cities, was fitted with a device to keep steam at ten pounds pressure constantly in the boiler. When the engine pulled out this pressure was enough to operate the whistle, and when the fire was started there was soon steam enough to work the pump, in case it should prove to be needed.

“Do you see anything of the fire?” asked Bob, as Jerry’s car speeded on.

Ned looked up. The number of the alarm box indicated that it was in the neighborhood of his father’s large department store. And he was relieved when he saw no tell-tale glare in the sky. But the danger of the runaway engine was still present. Could Jerry reach and stop the team in time?



Down the hill thundered the fire engine, the man on the back step keeping the whistle going. Behind the steamer came the powerful automobile containing Ned, Bob and Jerry, and after them came a crowd of men and boys, while a car or two, not having the speed advantage of the motor boys’ vehicle, trailed after.

“If they make the turn into Water street, a block above the river, they’ll be safe,” said Ned to his tall chum beside him in the seat. “The hill isn’t so steep there. But if they keep on down past Water street——”

“It’s into the water for them!” grimly finished Jerry Hopkins. “We’ll try to stop them before they get there.”

He gave the auto a little more gasoline, and it leaped forward. At the same moment Bob yelled:

“There it is! See the blaze!”

He pointed off to the left, and there a glare in the sky, which increased in brightness as the boys looked, could be observed.


“One of the tenements over in Frogtown!” exclaimed Ned, naming a poor section of Cresville where lived a number of foreigners who worked in the various factories. Of late a number of new industries had sprung up in the place, and the foreigners, who made up a large share of the workmen, were quartered in long rows of tenement houses, on the outskirts of Cresville, the place being styled “Frogtown,” because built on filled land, where once had been a frog-infested pond.

“If those shacks get to going there’ll be some fire,” murmured Ned. “And they’ll get a good start if the engine doesn’t soon reach the place.”

“Some one ought to send in another alarm, and bring out the other engine,” added Bob. “This one won’t be much good if it goes to smash.”

“We’ve no time to send in alarms now,” muttered Jerry. “Let some one else do that. We’ve got to stop those horses if we can!”

Ned and Bob clung to the sides of the car. This was in the lead now, and nothing was between their automobile and the swaying, rumbling engine.

Suddenly Ned gave a cry and pointed to something.

“What is it?” asked Jerry. “Another fire?”

“Look at that old man! Right in the path of[18] the engine! The horses’ll be on him in a minute!”

“That’s right!” chimed in Bob, from the rear seat. “Hi there! Get out the way!” he yelled. “Don’t you see the engine?”

Certainly the man at the side of the road, standing in the full glare of an arc electric light, ought to have heard the rattle of the runaway engine, even if he did not see it, though the place was well illuminated, and there was then no other vehicle in sight, save the automobile of the motor boys. There was something familiar about the odd figure, but neither Ned, Bob nor Jerry had time just then to look closely enough to make out who it was.

“What’s he doing?” asked Jerry, as he skillfully guided his machine and turned on a little more speed, for he was nearing the engine, and wanted to be in a position to stop the runaway horses if he could.

“He seems to be picking up something off the ground, under the light,” went on Ned. “Get out the way! Get out the way!” he yelled.

Then, for the first time, the little man at the side of the street seemed aware of what was going on.

“Look at him!” cried Jerry.

“He’s right in the way of the horses!” added Ned.


“And he’s going to try to stop ’em!” came from Bob. “Oh, boy! what’ll happen to him?”

And it was plain to the three chums that the little man was going to make an effort to stop the runaways. At this point there was a slight upward slant to the street, before it made the turn over the hill down to the river.

The horses had slackened their speed somewhat, but they were still running at a smart pace, when the little man, first laying something carefully down in the grass at a safe distance from the road, stepped out, and began running alongside the runaways.

“He knows something about the game,” murmured Ned. “Lots of folks that try to stop a runaway horse get right in front. The only way to do is to get alongside and grab the reins.”

“That’s what he’s doing! That’s what he’s done!” cried Bob.

And, indeed, the small man had. He ran alongside the off horse, until he could reach up and grab the reins, and then he hung on and let his weight tell. And it did, too, slight as it was. That, and the effect of his voice (for the boys could hear him calling to the steeds to stop), combined with the fact that the horses were tired and had a little hill before them, gradually brought the runaways to a stop. The nigh horse slipped and fell heavily, but the other retained its feet,[20] and so did the little man who had brought the animals to a stop.

“Say, did you see him do it?” cried Jerry to his chums.

“I should say yes!” chimed in Bob.

“Just as easy!” murmured Ned, admiringly. “Just as easy!”

“He certainly did know how to do it,” agreed Jerry, as he brought the automobile to a stop near the throbbing engine, for now there was a good head of steam up. The boys ran to where the little man still stood. Ned was the first to reach him. The boy gave a cry.

“Professor Snodgrass!”

“What’s that?” asked Jerry, in surprise.

“It’s our old friend, Professor Uriah Snodgrass!”

“Great rattlesnakes, so it is!” shouted Bob.

And it was, indeed, the professor, now a member of the faculty of Boxwood Hall, and a companion, more than once, of the boys on their trips.

“Are you hurt, Professor?” asked Jerry, as he hurried to the side of the little scientist, while the fireman of the steamer came forward to relieve Mr. Snodgrass of the care of the standing horse.

“Hurt? No. Why?” asked the surprised scientist.


“Why because you stopped that runaway.”

“Runaway? Was that a runaway?” asked Professor Snodgrass in great surprise.

“Of course it was!” cried Ned. “Didn’t you know it?”

“A runaway? No, my dear boy, I did not. I heard some yelling, and I saw the fire engine coming my way. But the reason I stopped it was because a little while ago I saw, just beyond, in the road, a most curious bug of a kind that only appears early in April in this locality. I was eager to get it, and I was afraid, if the horses and engine trampled the roadway, that I would lose the exceedingly rare specimen. That’s why I stopped the animals. I had no idea that it was a runaway, but I’m glad if I have been of any service. If you’ll excuse me, now, I’ll go and look for that bug,” and, as though it was his custom every evening after supper to stop a runaway fire engine in danger of plunging into the river, Professor Snodgrass turned aside and began searching in the dust for the bug he wanted. Off to one side, in the grass where he had carefully placed it before stepping out to stop the horses, was the collecting box the boys knew so well.

“Isn’t he the limit?” cried Jerry.

“Same old professor. Hasn’t changed a bit,” observed Bob.

“Well, considering it was only about three weeks[22] ago that we left him at Boxwood Hall, there hasn’t been much time for change,” returned Ned, with a laugh. “But say, fellows, what’s to be done?” he went on. “That fire’s growing worse, and it looks as though one of these horses was out of business.”

“He is,” said Hank Tedder, the engineer. “His leg’s broke. He’ll never pull another engine. And how I’m going to get this steamer to the fire—first alarm it’s ever responded to—I don’t know.”

The boys did not either—that is Ned and Bob did not. But Jerry did. He was always resourceful.

“Unhitch the horses!” he cried to Hank. “Push the engine back so it clears, and we’ll tow it to the fire with our auto.”

“Can you?” asked Ned.

“Sure. We’ve got plenty of power, and it’s a level road from here on. Downhill, if anything. You can ride on the seat, Hank, and put on the brake when it’s needed. Come on, boys!”

“All right. And it can’t be any too soon!” murmured Bob, as he looked at the reddening sky.

“They may send the other engine,” said Jake Todger, another fireman who came up in some one’s automobile just then. He worked to free the injured horse while the boys unharnessed the[23] other one. Professor Snodgrass seemed to have forgotten about everything but the bug he was looking for in the dust of the road, under the electric light.

With straps from the harness, and a strong towline carried on the auto, the machine was soon hitched to the steamer, and then Jerry once more took his position at the steering wheel.

“Going to leave the professor here?” asked Bob, as Hank climbed to the driver’s seat of the steamer, while Jake got on behind.

“Guess we’ll have to,” replied Ned. “I didn’t know he was in town. He must have just arrived, and probably he has come to pay one of us a visit. He’ll look us up later—when he’s found that bug. Best to leave him alone.”

“That’s right,” agreed Jake. “Anything to get to the fire. This has been an awful night!”

“And it’s only just begun,” observed Jerry, as he thought of the patriotic meeting he and the others had left to go to see where the fire was.

Off started the powerful automobile pulling the engine, while the red blaze in the sky grew brighter.



“Some fire, boys!”

“Yes, we aren’t going to get there any too soon.”

“I doubt if we can save any of the old shacks if they get going.”

Thus spoke Ned, Bob and Jerry as they sat in the automobile, pulling the fire engine along the road. It was not as easy as Jerry had thought it would be, and he had to use the utmost power of his car, strong as it was; for the steamer was heavy, and the roads were of dirt. But it was the only solution of the difficulty, with one horse disabled, and no others immediately available.

“Can you make it, boys?” asked Hank, from his seat in front of the throbbing engine.

“We will make it, or bust a cylinder!” exclaimed Jerry, as he turned off the road into a cross street that led to Frogtown, the scene of the fire.

On chugged the automobile, and behind it rumbled the fire engine. The machine was not of the[25] heaviest construction, or perhaps Jerry’s car, powerful as the latter was, could not have pulled it. But, as it happened, it was possible to move it along at good speed, and they were soon at the head of the street on which stood the burning structure.

“It’s one of the big tenements!” cried Ned.

“Yes, and it’s gone beyond saving, I guess,” added Jerry. “The engine didn’t get here in time.”

This was evident to all. The tenement, a long, rambling structure of wood, three stories high, was blazing at one end. Already about half of it had been consumed and had fallen in red ruins. The wind was blowing the flames toward the unburned portion, and it was only a question of time when it would all go.

“Here comes the other engine!” some one shouted, as Jerry drew the one he was pulling up to a fire plug.

“They’d better try to save the rest of the block, and let this shebang go!” exclaimed Jake Todger, as he jumped down and began to attach the big hose from the hydrant to the pump.

Two hose carts were on hand, one belonging to the engine the boys had pulled to the fire, and the members of the department began to attach the line to the engine.

“We’ll have a stream on in a jiffy!” exclaimed[26] Jake. “But the second engine’d better play on the other end of the block to keep that from catchin’.”

This seemed to be the idea of the chief of the fire department, for he came rushing up, and gave orders that the tenement adjoining the one that was ablaze, should be kept wet down.

“You play on the fire itself, Jake!” the chief ordered. “What happened to your engine, and where’s the driver?”

“Pitched off and hurt, I guess. Bad, too. The horses ran away an’ one’s got a busted leg. Jerry Hopkins and his chums pulled the engine here with their auto.”

“Good for them! Well, get busy.”

Jerry ran his car out of the way, and then the engine he had brought to the blaze began pumping. Soon two powerful streams were available, one playing on the blaze itself, and the other forming a curtain of water to prevent the fire from spreading.

“Anybody hurt?” asked Jerry of the chief.

“No, I guess not. We got most of the folks out before your engine got here. I’m much obliged to you. I don’t know what we’d have done if we hadn’t had both engines.”

The fire was a fierce one, and many of the families had hurried out with only a small portion of their possessions. But it was something to have[27] escaped with their lives, for the fire was caused by the explosion of an oil stove a woman was using, and the flames spread rapidly. The woman was badly burned, as was one of her children, and they had been taken to the hospital.

“Think they can save any of it?” asked Bob of Jerry, as they stood watching, having put their automobile in a safe place.

“Not any of the tenement that’s burning, I don’t. They’ll be lucky if the rest of the block doesn’t go.”

“That’s what I think,” added Ned. “Say, hadn’t we better go back to the professor?” he asked. “Maybe he’ll think it funny of us to have gone off and left him.”

“You ought to know him better than that by this time!” exclaimed Jerry, with a laugh. “He won’t think about anything but that bug he’s trying to catch. The idea of stopping a runaway team of fire engine horses, and not knowing it! Just stopped ’em because he thought they’d trample on some insect! And then you think he’ll feel hurt if we don’t come back after him!

“Just let him alone. Sooner or later he’ll show up at one of our homes, and then we can find out what he’s doing in this neighborhood now.”

“Maybe he’s planning some expedition to South America, or some place like that, and he[28] wants us to go with him,” said Bob. “We have had some corking times with him.”

“Nothing like that doing now,” observed Ned. “We’ve got to stick on at Boxwood Hall, I expect. Of course it’s a dandy place, and all that, but I would like a trip off into the wilds. And if we could take Professor Snodgrass along it would be dandy.”

But events were to shape themselves differently for the motor boys. Those of you who have read the previous books of the series need no introduction to Professor Snodgrass. He was a scientist of learning and attainments, and in the boys he had firm friends. They had taken him with them on nearly all of their trips, by automobile, in the airships, in the submarines, and when they journeyed in their motor boats.

The professor had been connected with colleges and museums, for his services as a collector and curator of insects and reptiles were much in demand. He was an enthusiast of the first water, and would do even more desperate and risky things to secure a rare bug than stopping a runaway fire engine.

Of late he had headed a department at Boxwood Hall, and the boys were glad of this, for he proved as good a friend to them there as he had afield on their various trips.

They had left him at Boxwood, about three[29] weeks before, quietly and peacefully cataloging some of his insects, and now they beheld him in the midst of considerable excitement. The professor seldom sent word that he was coming. He just came.

“Look!” suddenly cried Jerry, as he and his chums stood watching the blaze. “What’s the idea over there?” and he pointed to where some firemen were raising a ladder at the still unburned end of the blazing tenement.

“Looks like a rescue,” observed Ned.

“That’s what it is,” said Bob. “They’re taking down an old woman!”

“And some children!” added Jerry.

This was what was going on. Two families, in the top story of the end of the structure not yet directly on fire, had either been overlooked in the other rescues, or they had hidden away in fear, and were not seen.

Now some one had either told of them, or the unfortunates had been seen at the windows, and a call was given for a ladder. One was raised against the wall, and two firemen went up. They succeeded in bringing down the woman and the children, who had been trapped when the stairs burned away.

A cheer greeted the plucky efforts of the firemen, for the rescue was not an easy one. Ned, Bob and Jerry joined in the tribute. All around[30] was the crackle of flames, and thick clouds of smoke rolled here and there, smarting eyes and choking throats. The throbbing and puffing of the steamers mingled with the shouts and orders that flew back and forth.

Suddenly a cry arose at the far end of the burning tenement; the end that could not longer be held back from the flames.

The three chums ran to where the cry sounded, and observed, leaning out of a second story window on the end of the house, an old man. Smoke poured from the window back of him, and behind him could be seen the ruddy flames, ever coming nearer.

“Another one they’ve forgotten,” cried Ned.

“Or else he hid away, or has been unconscious,” added Bob.

“They’ve got to get him soon!” exclaimed Jerry.

But the firemen, and there were none too many of them even with the whole department out, were busy elsewhere. Some were attending the nozzles, others were helping at the engines and some were still carrying to places of safety the women and children brought down from the front of the blazing structure.

“We’ve got to get him down!” cried Jerry.

“If we only had a ladder!” added Ned.

“Here’s one!” shouted Bob, and he pointed to[31] a short one that had been thrown on the ground, evidently as of no use in reaching the women and children who were taken from the floor higher up.

“Will it reach?” asked Ned.

“We’ve got to try,” Jerry yelled. “Bring it over!”

With the aid of his chums, he raised it against the window. Just then part of the house fell in, and the crowd surged back, thinking to get out of danger, so the boys were left comparatively to themselves in making this rescue.

“Hold the ladder at the foot, Bob,” directed Jerry; “it isn’t any too firm. Ned and I’ll go up and see if we can get him down.”

The old man, half choked from smoke, was leaning from the window now, shouting as well as he could with his feeble breath.

“Don’t jump!” yelled Ned. “We’re coming after you!”

Quickly he started up the ladder, followed by Jerry. The old man held out his arms to them imploringly.

Bob braced himself against the foot of the ladder to prevent it from slipping, and for once in his life he was glad that he was fat and heavy. He made a good anchor.

“Keep still! We’re coming! We’re coming!” yelled Jerry.

The aged man was excited and fearful, and[32] small wonder. The smoke, pouring from the window around him, was thicker now, and the flames back of him were brighter.

Up and up went Ned and Jerry. When they came closer they could hear the old man shouting:

“My money! My money! I must get my money and the jewelry!”

They were at the window now, the ladder just reaching to it, with not a foot to spare.

“Never mind about your money and jewelry!” shouted Jerry. “You’ll be lucky to get off with your life. Come on, we’ll help you down!”

“No, I must get my money! I can not afford to lose it! I must go back and get it, and get the jewelry! They took some but I saved the rest.”

He turned as though to hobble back into the smoke filled and fire encircled room.

“You’ll be burned to death if you go!” shouted Jerry.

“Oh, but I must get my money!” whined the aged man. “Crooked Nose came for it, but I hid some of it away from him. I must get it. I don’t want Crooked Nose to get it! Oh, wait until I get my money!” and he disappeared from the casement.



“We’ve got to get him!” cried Jerry to Ned.

“Sure thing! He’ll be burned to death in there in less than a minute! What’s he mean about Crooked Nose?”

“Hanged if I know! But don’t stop to ask questions. Go on up. I’ll be right after you. We’ve got to get him. Stand firm, Bob!” Jerry yelled to his chum at the foot of the ladder.

“Right!” answered the stout one, making his voice heard above the various noises of the fire.

Up the ladder went Ned and Jerry, pausing a moment as they got to the point where they could look into the room. The smoke had blown away for the time being.

“There he is!” cried Ned, pointing to a figure huddled on the floor.

The two boys leaped into the room, taking big gulps of fresh air to hold in their lungs as long as possible, for they saw that the wind was blowing the smoke into the room again.

They caught hold of the old man. He appeared[34] to be a Frenchman, though he spoke good English. The boys lifted him up, and this seemed to restore his scattered senses.

“Wait! Wait!” he murmured. “My money! I must get my money. And that jewelry! Crooked Nose got some of it, but I hid the most. He shan’t have it! I must save it. In the iron box! Get it for me! Don’t let Crooked Nose have it!”

“He’s raving!” said Ned.

“Don’t talk! Save your breath!” mumbled Jerry, doing just what he warned his chum against. “Catch hold and——”

He did not finish, but nodded in the direction of the open window. The room was lighted by the reflection of flames outside. Ned understood, and, taking hold of the old man’s legs one of which seemed to be crippled, while Jerry supported his head, they carried him to the casement.

Jerry got out first, while Ned held the old man, who kept muttering something about “Crooked Nose,” and “money and jewelry.” The boys paid little attention then, though the time was to come when the incident would be brought back to them in a startling manner.

Once again on the ladder, Jerry called:

“Now work him out till he hangs over my shoulder like a sack of flour, Ned. I can carry[35] him down that way. He isn’t heavy. Hold him steady until I give the word.”

“All right,” answered his chum, and then the two proceeded to save the old man. Ned shifted the burden until it rested on the window sill. The Frenchman was either unconscious now, or incapable of motion, for he was as limp and inert as Jerry could wish, and he was easier to handle in that way. Getting him over his shoulder, as he might a sack of flour, Jerry started down the ladder with his burden.

Ned gave one last look around the room where the old man seemed to have lived all alone. There was a bed in one corner, and a stove in the other, with a few poor possessions.

“I don’t see anything of Crooked Nose or a box of money, or jewelry either,” murmured Ned. “I guess he was out of his head through fear. I might take another look, but——”

Just then there was a sound indicating that a large portion of the structure had fallen in. This was followed by such a burst of flame and smoke into the room that Ned was almost trapped. He made a dive for the window and got out on the ladder. Down it he hurried, after Jerry and his burden, and he was not a moment too soon, for an instant later the flames burst from the window in a volume sufficient to have overwhelmed any one who had been in the apartment.


“Just in time,” murmured Ned, as he came to the ground, a few seconds after Jerry reached it.

Willing hands took the burden of the old man, and he was carried to a place where volunteer nurses and a physician worked over him.

By this time the tenement house was a mass of flames. The fire involved the end where the old Frenchman had lived, and there was no hope of saving it. The place was like a tinder-box, and soon after Jerry and Ned had left it the roof at that end fell in.

Quickly the fire burned itself out, and then came the problem of caring for the unfortunates who had lost nearly everything, and who were homeless. Kind friends and neighbors took in such as they could.

“How’s our Frenchman?” asked Ned of Jerry, as they were about to go to their automobile and depart for home, since the high point of the excitement had passed.

“I don’t know. We might take a look.”

A policeman directed them to a near-by store, where several firemen and spectators had been treated for cuts from glass or partial smoke suffocation, and there the boys found the old Frenchman. He was a cripple, with a stiff left leg, and had suffered much from shock. He was in great distress of mind.

“These are the boys who brought you down[37] the ladder, who saved you,” said a doctor, pointing to Ned and Jerry.

The man murmured something in his own expressive language, and then, as if realizing that the boys could not understand very well, though they knew some French, he said, in English:

“I can never thank you enough! You saved my life! But tell me, did you see Crooked Nose or my iron box of money and jewelry?”

“No,” answered Jerry gently. He thought the old man was still wandering in his faculties.

“Who is Crooked Nose?” asked Ned.

“He is a villain!” exclaimed the Frenchman, whose name, some one said, was Jules Cardon. “He is a villain who tried to rob me of all I had. He got some of my money and some of the jewelry, but the rest I put in the iron box and locked. Then I hid it. But the fire came and I could not find it. Then I remember no more. But if you find Crooked Nose you will catch a great scoundrel, and perhaps find my money and the precious jewelry.”

“Is Crooked Nose a man?” asked Jerry.

“Yes. He came to see me this evening. He knew me in France—many years ago. He demanded money. I would not give it to him, and he said he would take it, or he would—— Well, he made threats. I hid most of the money and[38] the jewelry, but I forgot where I put it when the fire came. Oh, was it burned?”

“Well, if it was left in there I should say it was,” replied Jerry, as he looked at the glowing ruins. “Nothing much left there.”

“But maybe Crooked Nose took it,” suggested Mr. Cardon. “He is a villain.”

“What’s his name?” asked Bob.

The crippled old Frenchman shook his head.

“It would be of no use to tell you,” he said. “He changes his name too often. Crooked Nose, I call him. He can’t change that!”

The old man seemed much improved, bodily, but his mental anguish was pitiable. Again and again he implored to be allowed to go back and look for his money, but of course this could not be. What was left of the ruins was a mass of blazing wood.

Then, when he seemed to think that all was lost, the old man became calmer, and told a more connected story.

The old Frenchman was an engraver by trade and had worked for many years in New York, doing fine engraving for some leading jewelers. Then he had become crippled by an accident and had moved to Cresville for his health. In Cresville he had managed to pick up considerable work from the local jewelers, doing the engraving on rings, watches, and silver and gold ware for them.


“I have much jewelry to engrave!” he said, with a sorrowful shake of his head. “I have a fine gold watch, and a silver tea set, and a magnificent diamond brooch, and other things. Now—where are they?” and he shrugged his shoulders despairingly.

“Gee, that will be a big loss for somebody!” remarked Ned.

Just before the fire broke out the old Frenchman had had a visitor. This, as he explained, was a “queer stick of a man with a very crooked nose.”

“He got it in a fight in France many years ago,” said Mr. Cardon. “I had not seen him in a long time. How he found me and my money and the jewelry I do not know. But he threatened, and would have hurt me, had I not given him some. But I hid the most of it, and then the fire came. It came after Crooked Nose went out. Maybe he set the blaze. He was wicked enough. Oh, my money is lost—and that jewelry I was trusted with!”

“It is if it was in there. But maybe that fellow you call Crooked Nose got it,” suggested Jerry. “You can have a look in the ruins after they cool.”

There was nothing more the motor boys could do, and, learning that some of the neighbors[40] would care for the old Frenchman, they got ready to go home.

“Hadn’t we better go back and see what has become of Professor Snodgrass?” asked Bob, as they reached their automobile.

“Well, it might be a good plan,” agreed Jerry.

“Some of the bugs he is after may have carried him off,” suggested Ned, with a laugh.

They started for the place where the runaway fire horses had been caught by Mr. Snodgrass.

“This has been what you might call a ‘large’ evening,” remarked Jerry, as he guided the car.

“Somewhat juicy,” added Ned.

“Speaking of juicy reminds me of a broiled steak,” put in Bob. “What do you say to a little supper? I’m hungry.”

“For once I agree with your gastronomic suggestion,” replied Jerry. “What say, Ned?”

“I’m with you. Let’s include the professor if we can find him.”

They reached the scene where they had last observed their friend, but he was not in sight. The horse lay there, having been shot to end its suffering, and then the boys went on into town.

There they telephoned to their people that they were all right and would be home later, at the same time mentioning the fact that Professor Snodgrass was in town, and would probably call[41] if he did not get on some bug-hunting chase that kept him out all night.

As the boys entered a restaurant they almost collided with, or, rather, were fairly run into by, a man who seemed in great haste. He acted in a peculiar manner, turning his face aside as if to escape observation, and hurried on out.

“Well, you’re a gentleman!” angrily murmured Jerry, who had received the full impact of the odd character.

“Didn’t even say: ‘Excuse me!’ did he?” asked Ned.

“Nothing like it. He must be going to catch a train!”

Bob, who was just behind his chums, turned quickly and looked after the man.

“Did you see him?” he asked.

“Did I see him. I felt him!” declared Jerry, with a rueful laugh.

“And did you notice?” went on Bob, in some excitement.

“Notice what?” Ned inquired.

“His crooked nose! It was all on one side of his face. Say, fellows, maybe that’s the man who tried to rob the old Frenchman!” exclaimed Bob in a tense whisper.



Jerry and Ned looked at Bob quickly, and then darted glances after the man who had so rudely pushed out of the door, almost upsetting Jerry on his way.

“Did he really have a crooked nose?” asked Ned.

“He sure did! I had a good view of his side face, and his nose looked as though he had been a football player most of his life, and had fallen on his nose instead of on the pigskin.”

Ned darted out to the sidewalk, and looked up and down the street. He came back to report.

“The man, Crooked Nose or not, isn’t in sight,” he said. “But if you think it’s worth while postponing the meal——”

“No, don’t!” hastily begged Bob. “Maybe after we caught up to him it wouldn’t be the right man.”

“I’m inclined to agree with you there,” said Jerry. “We have only this Frenchman’s word for it, and there is probably more than one man with[43] a crooked nose in Cresville. We can’t go up to the first chap we meet who’s decorated that way and accuse him of taking money and jewelry or setting fire to a house. It won’t do.”

“No,” assented Ned. “We might properly call him down for his manner of colliding with us, but that isn’t criminal. I guess we’ll just have to let him go, and second Bob’s motion to hold a grub-fest. I have an appetite, even with all the smoke I swallowed.”

“Same here,” said Jerry. “That Frenchman may have been dreaming. But he tells a funny story, and Crooked Nose, as we’ll call him until we think of a better name, did seem to want to get off without being recognized.”

“He actually seemed afraid of us,” went on Ned. “He came out of here like a shot as soon as he saw us. I’m sure there’s something wrong about him, and there may be more in the Frenchman’s story than has yet come out.”

“We can go and see him to-morrow,” suggested Jerry. “But we’d better look after Professor Snodgrass a little now. He may be at one of our houses expecting us; that is, if he hasn’t found a new colony of bugs.”

So the boys proceeded with their meal, talking meanwhile about the events of the night.

“I wonder how the patriotic meeting made out?” asked Ned.


“We can pass there on our way home,” said Jerry. “I guess there will be plenty of such from now on, since Uncle Sam has decided to take a fall out of the Kaiser.”

But as the boys, in their automobile, rode past the auditorium, it was closed and dark, showing that the meeting was over. That it was a success they heard from several persons to whom they spoke as they rode through the streets of the small city on their way to Jerry’s house, since it was decided to stop there first, to see if Professor Snodgrass was visiting Mrs. Hopkins.

And it was there they found him, talking to Jerry’s mother, who was entertaining the little scientist, meanwhile wondering what was keeping the boys.

“Well, how does it feel to be a hero?” asked Ned, as he greeted the professor.

“A hero?” murmured Mr. Snodgrass, wonderingly.

“Yes. Didn’t he tell you, Mother?” inquired Jerry. “He stopped the team that was running away with the fire engine and——”

“And you never mentioned it, Professor!” exclaimed Mrs. Hopkins.

“Too modest!” murmured Jerry.

“Really, I never gave it a thought,” said the visitor. “In fact, I didn’t notice anything about the vehicle in question. I only saw some horses[45] coming down the road, and I didn’t want them to step on a colony of bugs I wished to investigate. That is all there was to it. But did the fire amount to anything, boys?”

“Yes, it was some fire,” answered Bob. “And, what’s more, Jerry and Ned did a bit of hero work themselves,” and he related the incident of the rescue of the Frenchman.

“Oh, it wasn’t anything!” declared Jerry, as he saw his mother looking proudly at him. “Bob was in it, too. If he hadn’t been so fat he couldn’t have kept the ladder from slipping.”

“That’s right!” chimed in Ned. “I guess we can all congratulate ourselves.”

“How was the meeting?” asked Mrs. Hopkins.

“We didn’t hear much of it,” answered Jerry. “Came out when it was less than half over, to see about the fire, and we’ve been busy ever since. But say, Professor, what do you think about this declaration of war with Germany?”

“I think it was the only thing the people of the United States could do with honor and with a regard for their own rights and the cause of humanity,” was the quick answer. “We’ll all have to get into the fight sooner or later, and in one way or another. I think there are stirring times ahead of us, boys.”

The talk became general, and Professor Snodgrass told of having heard from a fellow scientist[46] that a certain kind of insect was to be found in the vicinity of Cresville, and so he had decided to come on a little expedition in the few days that remained of the Easter vacation.

“We’re glad to see you,” declared Jerry. “Are you counting on going anywhere else after bugs?”

“Not just at present,” answered the scientist. “I have found just what I want right here, so it won’t be necessary to get out the airship or the submarine this time.”

“I wish we could,” sighed Ned. “It seems a shame that all our good times have to be curtailed for a while, and that we have to go back to Boxwood Hall.”

“That’s the place for you boys, for some years yet,” said Mrs. Hopkins. “You have had your share of fun, and you must now be content to do a little serious work.”

“That is right,” chimed in Professor Snodgrass. “But I have not given up all hope of making other trips with you boys. I haven’t forgotten the stirring times we have had. There may be more ahead of us, though when the country actually gets into war every one will have to give up some pleasures.”

The boys related the incidents of the fire, incidentally speaking of the Frenchman’s real or fancied loss of his money and the jewelry and about the man with the crooked nose.


“Oh, I think I know that crippled Frenchman!” cried Mrs. Hopkins suddenly. “He does work for Mr. Martley, the jeweler. Oh, I wonder if it can be true,” and she gave a gasp.

“What is it, Mother?” demanded Jerry, who saw that something was wrong.

“I sent that new diamond brooch I bought last month at Martley’s back to be engraved. Perhaps Mr. Martley let that Frenchman have it.”

“He mentioned a diamond brooch.”

“If it is mine and it is gone!” Mrs. Hopkins clasped her hands. “It cost eight hundred dollars!”

“In that case Martley will have to pay for it,” added Jerry quickly.

“Yes, Jerry. But it will make a lot of trouble,” sighed his mother.

“Was that man’s nose bent to the left?” asked Professor Snodgrass, looking up from a dried bug he was inspecting, for he carried specimens in almost every pocket, and looked at them whenever he had a chance.

“Yes, and it was quite a bend, too,” said Bob. “Why do you ask, Mr. Snodgrass?”

“Because I think I saw the same man shortly after you boys left me to go to the fire, dragging the engine with your auto. I was in the middle of the road, getting some of the insects into my specimen box, when I was almost trodden on by[48] a man who was hurrying past. I looked up to remonstrate with him, and then I saw that he had a very crooked nose. Before I had a chance to say all I wanted to about his manners, or, rather, lack of them, he hurried on.”

“It must have been the same chap,” declared Jerry. “His rudeness shows that. He did the same thing to us. We must keep our eyes open, and, if we see him around town, we’ll find out who he is.”

Professor Snodgrass not only spent the night at Mrs. Hopkins’ house, but his visit extended over several days.

During that time some highly interesting facts came to light.

It was learned that at the time of the fire the old crippled French jeweler had had a great number of things in his possession to engrave, entrusted to him by two of the local jewelers, Mr. Martley and Mr. Jackson.

Among the things given to him by Mr. Martley were the diamond brooch belonging to Mrs. Hopkins and also a gold watch which was the property of Mr. Baker, Bob’s father. Both of these valuable articles were now missing—and even when the ruins of the fire were searched they were not brought to light.

Of course both Mrs. Hopkins and Mr. Baker were much disturbed, and so was Mr. Martley.[49] The jeweler was in a bad way financially, and this made matters worse than ever for him. His creditors came down on him immediately and the next day he had to make an assignment. The other jeweler was better fixed and settled up promptly for his losses.

“It looks as if my father would be out his watch,” said Bob to his chums. “And such a fine timepiece too! It cost a hundred and sixty dollars!”

“That isn’t as bad as my mother’s loss,” returned Jerry. “That diamond brooch cost eight hundred dollars!”

“Martley was a fool to trust the old Frenchman with the things.”

“He knows that—now. Not but what I guess the old man was honest enough. But it was a careless thing to do.”

“Maybe Crooked Nose got the things.”

“If he did, I hope we get Crooked Nose.”

“So do I. I don’t think we’ll get much out of Martley. He’s too deeply in debt, so I’ve heard.”

Professor Snodgrass was still at the Hopkins home and the boys went with him on one or two short trips, looking for bugs. But there was, on their part, not much interest in the work. They were, as was every one else in town, too much absorbed in the exciting events that followed the entrance[50] of the United States into the war against Germany.

It was about a week after the fire, when Ned, Bob and Jerry were out in their automobile, discussing what they would do at the coming term of school, that they passed a newspaper office and stopped to read the bulletin.

“Look at that, fellows!” cried Jerry.

“What is it?” asked Bob, whose view was obstructed by Ned.

“It’s a call for volunteers to fight the Kaiser,” was the answer. “There may be a draft, later, fellows, and the volunteers are the boys who go first!” Jerry rose in his seat to read the bulletin over the heads of the crowd.

“The first call for volunteers,” he murmured. Then, with a suddenness that was startling, he exclaimed:

“Fellows, this hits us! I’m going to offer myself to Uncle Sam! Are you with me?”



Ned Slade clapped Jerry Hopkins on the back with such vigor that the latter almost lost his balance.

“What does that mean?” Jerry asked.

“It means I’m with you!” was the answer. “We’ll all enlist and start for the other side as soon as they’ll let us! I was just wishing for some excuse to get out of going back to Boxwood Hall, and this’ll be it all right!”

“Do you think we can make it?” asked Bob. “I mean will our folks let us cut school?”

“Oh, I guess so,” answered Jerry easily, though, to tell the truth, he had some doubts about it.

“Let’s go somewhere and ask about enlisting,” suggested Ned. “We want to get into this as soon as we can, and the sooner the better. There must be some way of finding out the quickest way of getting into the army.”

“Let’s go and ask Colonel Wentworth,” suggested Jerry. “He’ll know, all right.”

“You said it!” agreed Ned. “Say, this is great! I wonder if——”


He was interrupted by a cheer from the crowd in front of the bulletin board.

“Are they applauding our recent determination to enlist?” asked Jerry, as the car started up the street toward the office of Colonel Wentworth.

“No, it’s just a new item on the bulletin board, about the state militia being mobilized.”

“That means business,” said Jerry. “Oh, boy! but I hope we can get into this game from the very start.”

They drove to the office of Colonel Wentworth, who carried on a real-estate business when he was not making patriotic addresses. They found the old soldier holding forth to a circle of friends about what the United States ought to do, and what it ought to avoid, in the coming conflict.

“Ah, good morning, boys!” he greeted Ned, Bob and Jerry. “Come in and sit down. I’ll attend to you in just a moment. Now, as I was saying, Mr. Benson——”

“Oh, we didn’t come on business; that is, not real-estate business,” said Jerry quickly. “And we don’t want to take up much of your time. We just want to ask where’s the nearest place to go to enlist, and how do you do it.”

The eyes of Colonel Wentworth sparkled brightly. He clasped the hand of Jerry Hopkins and exclaimed:

“What did I tell you, gentlemen? Didn’t I[53] say that the youth of this land would rally to the colors as soon as the call went forth? Here is proof of it! Boys, I’m proud of you! Cresville will be proud of you! And generations to come will be proud of you!”

The colonel seemed starting on one of his orations, but he caught himself in season and said:

“There is no time like the present. There is a recruiting station of the regular army at Richfield,” naming the nearest large city. “I’ll take you over there and see that you sign up. Are you old enough to enlist without the consent of your parents? If you’re not we’ll first stop and see them and——”

“I guess we’d better stop and see them anyhow,” suggested Ned. “We’re none of us twenty-one yet, and I guess it’d be better to get formal permission.”

“Yes, it would,” the colonel told them. “I have not the slightest doubt in the world but what the consent will be given, but it makes it easier if it is first obtained.”

“We’ll go home then,” went on Ned, “and get the consents in writing. What we wanted to know was the nearest place to volunteer, and you’ve told us that.”

“Glad to have done it!” exclaimed the enthusiastic colonel. “Don’t hesitate to call on me if I[54] can be of the slightest assistance to you. Good-bye and good luck!”

And, as they left his office, Ned, Bob and Jerry could hear the former soldier telling his friends:

“That’s the spirit of ’Seventy-six reincarnated! That’s what’s going to beat the Kaiser!”

“I hope we get a shot at him all right,” murmured Jerry, as they went down to their automobile. “What do you think about your folks, Ned? Will they let you go?”

“Oh, I guess so. I heard dad saying the other night he wished he was young enough to enlist, so he ought to be glad to have me take his place.”

“I fear my mother will make a fuss at first,” said Jerry, “but she’ll give in finally, I think. The one trouble will be about school. She has her heart set on having me graduate from Boxwood Hall.”

“Oh, well, you can come back and finish the course,” said Ned. “How does it strike you, Chunky? You won’t be sorry to cut the books, will you?”

“No, I guess not,” was the rather slow answer. “Oh, of course I’ll be glad to get out of going back to Boxwood Hall. It’s nice there, and all that, but I’d rather go to a soldier’s camp.”

There was something in the way Bob spoke that made Ned remark to Jerry, a little later:

“I wonder what’s the matter with Chunky? He didn’t seem to enthuse very much.”


“No, he didn’t, that’s a fact,” admitted Jerry. “Maybe he has a little indigestion.”

“I should think he would have, the way he eats. But I don’t believe it’s indigestion this time. Something’s wrong with Bob, and I’d like to know what it is.”

But Ned was so occupied with his own affairs, wondering whether or not his parents would consent to his enlisting, that he did not give the matter of his stout chum much consideration just then.

As might have been expected, there was a momentary opposition on the part of Mrs. Hopkins as regarded Jerry, and on the part of Mr. and Mrs. Slade and Mr. and Mrs. Baker as to their sons. And it was not from any lack of patriotism. It was merely that they felt the boys were a little too young to be of real service to their country.

“If you were a little older, I’d at once say go,” said Mrs. Hopkins to Jerry. “I want you to serve your country. But I think you can best do it, now, by getting a good education, and enlisting later.”

“It may be too late then, Mother,” said Jerry. “There is talk of a draft, and while those who go under the forced call will be just as good soldiers as the volunteers, I’d like to volunteer.”

“But what about school? I don’t want to see you lose all the advantage your studies will give you.”


“I can take them up later.”

Both Jerry and his mother, as did other boys and other parents, seemed to ignore the chance that there would be many who would not come back. But it is always that way, and it is a good thing it is.

“What are Bob’s parents, and Ned’s, going to do?” asked Mrs. Hopkins.

“I’ll find out,” answered Jerry.

In the end there was a family council, and the matter was gone over in detail. The boys were so much in earnest, as the war fervor swept over the country, that Mr. Slade said:

“Well, I don’t see, as patriotic citizens, that we can do any less than let our boys do their share. They are strong and healthy. There will be no trouble about passing the physical tests, I imagine.”

“The only trouble is about school,” said Mr. Baker. “The spring term is about to begin, and I understand there are some important studies to be taken up in anticipation of the final examinations.”

“There are,” said Ned. “But we aren’t the only ones who will be out of school. Lots of the boys are volunteering. And some have already gone to France to drive ambulances or fly aeroplanes. Fully a score of the fellows we know,[57] and some we aren’t intimate with, won’t come back to Boxwood Hall.”

“Are you sure about this?” asked his father.

“I had it from Professor Snodgrass,” was the answer, for by the time of this family council the scientist had returned to Boxwood Hall. “And, what’s more, a lot of the members of the faculty are going to volunteer, also. Boxwood Hall won’t be the same place it was before the war.”

“Well, in that case,” said Mr. Baker, “probably some rules will be made about those who drop out on account of volunteering. They may be given certain credits, and allowed to make up the lost time by degrees. I don’t see, Mrs. Hopkins and Mr. Slade, but what the boys have won their point.”

“Then are we to consent to their enlisting?” asked Jerry’s mother, and she was not ashamed of the tears in her eyes nor the catch in her voice, for Jerry was an only son and his mother was a widow. When Jerry went there would be only his sister Susie left.

“I shall consent to Ned’s going,” said Mr. Slade.

“And Bob has my permission,” added Mr. Baker. “He’s getting too stout, anyhow. It may do him good.”

“You may go, Jerry,” said Mrs. Hopkins.

“Fine, Mother! I knew you’d say I might![58] And now, boys, let’s go and see Colonel Wentworth and find out what the next step is.”

They hurried to their automobile and were soon speeding toward the office of the former soldier. He received them with delight, and gave them a letter of introduction to the recruiting officer at Richfield.

“Let’s go right over and sign up!” proposed Ned eagerly.

“Might as well,” added Ned. “How about it, Chunky?”

“Well, I s’pose if we’re going to enlist we’ve got to sign, or do something, but I was thinking we might wait a few days and——”

“Wait?” cried Jerry.

“What for?” demanded Ned.

Bob did not answer at once, but on his face there was a troubled look. His chums wondered what it meant.



“Look here, Chunky!” exclaimed Jerry, after a quick glance at Ned, “I may as well say what’s on my mind, and get it out of my system. Both Ned and I have been wondering about you, lately.”

“Wondering about me?”

“Yes, about the way you’re acting on this enlistment business. You want to volunteer and join the army, don’t you?”

“Why, yes, sure I do.”

“Well, you don’t act very happy over it,” put in Ned. “You were enthusiastic at the start, and then you simmered out. Are you getting cold feet? You’re not——”

“I’m not afraid, if that’s what you mean!” blurted out Bob.

“No, I wasn’t going to say that,” put in Ned, quickly. “No one who knows you, as Jerry and I know you, would ever accuse you of that. You’ve gone through too many tight and dangerous places with us to have us say that you’re[60] afraid. And yet something has happened, hasn’t it?”

“Well, yes, I s’pose you could call it that,” assented Bob slowly.

“Are you going to renege in the matter of volunteering?” asked Jerry.


“But you aren’t as keen on it as you were at first!” declared Ned. “What’s the matter, Bob? Are you in trouble, Chunky, old man?” and he put his arm affectionately over his chum’s shoulder.

“Yes, fellows, I am in trouble,” said Bob, and he spoke desperately. “I almost wish I hadn’t agreed to enlist! That I’d waited for the draft, and then——”

“What are you saying?” cried Jerry in amazement.

“Well, I mean that then I’d have a good excuse to go to war, and I couldn’t help myself,” and Bob floundered a good deal in his explanation.

“Why do you need an excuse?” asked Jerry.

“Oh, well, I suppose I may as well tell you.”

“Wait a minute!” broke in Ned. “Bob, this is getting a bit personal, I know, but the end justifies the means, I think. Have you been to see Miss Schaeffer lately?”

Bob looked up quickly.

“Last night,” he answered. “You ought to know. You left me there in the car.”


“So I did. But I have a reason for asking. Doesn’t her father own some stock in a Boston German paper?”

“I believe he does,” said Bob.

“And the paper has been one of the strongest advocates against the United States taking any part in this war, as I happen to know,” went on Ned. “It came out flatly, and justified the sinking of the Lusitania on the ground that it was carrying munitions to England. The same paper has taunted Uncle Sam, since the declaration of war, with siding with our old enemy, Great Britain. Am I right, Chunky?”

“I suppose it’s true. But Helena hasn’t anything to do with the paper.”

“No, but she can’t help siding with her father, and he helps to dictate the policy of that slanderous German sheet! Bob, tell me the truth; isn’t the Schaeffer family pro-German?”

“Well, I suppose they are. It’s natural——”

“It isn’t natural!” burst out Jerry. “If any so-called German-Americans want to side with the Kaiser let them go back to Germany where they belong. Uncle Sam hasn’t any use for ’em! Bob, I didn’t think this of you!”

“Oh, don’t be too severe on Chunky!” interposed Ned. “He hasn’t done anything yet. I know just what the situation is, I think. Bob, you have come to the parting of the ways.[62] You’ve either got to go with us or stay home. What are you going to do? I can see, of late, that you have been rather cold toward this enlistment proposition. Now that won’t do. If you want to wait for the draft, well and good. That’s your business, of course. But we’d hate to see you do it.”

“I should say so!” agreed Jerry. “I never dreamed of this. What does it all mean?”

“It’s his girl—Helena Schaeffer,” said Ned. “Isn’t it true, Bob, that she has spoken to you against volunteering?”

“Yes, she has, and that’s what makes me worry. I was going to keep still about it, and try to work everything out myself. But I don’t believe I can. You know— Oh, well, I’m awfully fond of Helena, and I think she likes me, a little. This is among friends, of course.”

“Of course,” murmured Jerry and Ned.

“And she’s as good as said that if I enlist to fight against Germany, when her father is so fond of the old Kaiser, and what he represents, that she’ll—well—she and I will have to part company, that’s all!” and Bob blurted out the words.

“What are you going to do?” and Ned asked the question relentlessly. This was no time for half-way measures, he felt.

Bob did not answer for a moment. They were talking in the street in front of Colonel Wentworth’s[63] office. And then, at what seemed a most opportune moment, a phonograph in a near-by store began playing one of the popular songs of the day; a song with the lilt of marching steps and an appeal for every one to do his duty and fight for Uncle Sam.

Bob straightened up. His eyes grew brighter and he squared his shoulders in a way his chums well know.

“Boys!” he exclaimed, “I’ve been a fool to hold back one minute on this thing. If you’ll wait a little while, I’ll come back and give you my answer. And you don’t have to guess what it is, either.”

He started off down the street.

“Where are you going?” demanded Jerry.

“I’m going to have a talk with Helena,” Bob answered.

“Wait and we’ll take you to her corner in the auto. Might as well ride as walk,” called Ned. “We’ll wait for you at my house.”

Jerry and Ned did not say much to Chunky during the ride. They thought it best to let him work out the problem in his own way. And it was better done without suggestion from them.

“See you later,” said Ned, as his stout chum left the car and started down the street toward the Schaeffer home.

“What do you think he’ll do?” asked Jerry, as[64] Ned turned the car in the direction of his own home.

“The right thing,” answered Ned. “Chunky is all right. It’s just that he’s a little fascinated by Helena, who, to do her justice, is a mighty pretty girl. It’s too bad she has pro-German tendencies. And yet it isn’t so much her as it is her father who influences her. She is a nice girl, and mighty sensible, too, except on this one point. I know, for I’ve been there with Chunky. That’s why I happened to know how the bug had bitten him.

“Even before we got into this war against Germany Mr. Schaeffer was ranting about the unneutrality of this country, and declaring that we were favoring England and France and discriminating against the Kaiser. I wish we’d done more of it! We wouldn’t have it so hard as we’re going to have it from now on.”

“But about Chunky. Do you think he’ll tell his friend that he is going to enlist and let her make the best of it?” asked Jerry.

“Or the worst—yes. I think Bob will do just that. He was wobbling the least bit, but I think he’s on his feet now. We’ll wait for him to come back.”

Meanwhile Bob Baker was having his own troubles. He had made the acquaintance of Miss Schaeffer some time before, when it seemed there would be never a question as to what nationality[65] a person claimed. But the war had made a difference.

As Ned had stated, Mr. Schaeffer was one of the owners of a rabid German paper, published in Boston, and the editorial policy was against anything French or English, and against the United States helping the Allies in any way.

When the United States formally entered the war the sheet did not dare come out and openly espouse the cause of Germany, but in underhand ways and by sly insinuations it sought to deprecate the cause of the Allies and tried to say, only too plainly, that the United States had no business entering the war, and that the youth of the land would do well to keep out of it. In other words it discouraged enlisting.

Just what took place between Chunky and Helena, Bob never disclosed in detail. Ned and Jerry felt it would be indelicate to do that, and they never asked much about the matter.

Poor Bob put in a bad quarter of an hour, and when he left the Schaeffer home his step was not as buoyant as when he entered. But there was a look of determination on his face, and he seemed relieved, as though he had got rid of a weight.

“Well?” asked Jerry, as Bob joined his two chums a little later. “How about you?”

“I’m ready to go and sign up whenever you are,” was the quiet answer.


“Good!” exclaimed Ned, clapping Chunky on the back with such right good will that the stout lad almost lost his balance.

“I told you how it would be,” whispered Ned to Jerry, and the latter nodded comprehendingly.

“Have any trouble?” asked Ned. “I mean did she break with you?”

“Oh, not exactly,” answered Bob. “But things are not as pleasant as they were. It’s her father, though, not Helena.”

“That’s what we thought,” said Jerry. “Well, I’m glad it’s over. Now we’ll be three together once more. Too bad it had to happen, Chunky, but it’s better to come out and know where you stand.”

“That’s right,” agreed the stout lad. “I’m going to do my duty. Friendship doesn’t count in this war. It’s duty.”

“You said something!” commented Ned. “And now to take the step that will put us in the fight formally for Uncle Sam and against the Kaiser. We’ll go and volunteer!”

“That’s what I’ve been wanting to do right along,” declared Chunky; “but I didn’t want to break with Helena if I could help it. She says she doesn’t see why I have to enlist, why I can’t wait for the draft, and all that. She says maybe there won’t be any draft if there’s enough opposition to it. But I’m going to volunteer.”


So the three boys started for Richfield, where the nearest enlistment station was located.

As they drove down the street their attention was attracted by a large notice posted on the door of the auditorium.

“Another patriotic meeting?” asked Jerry.

“Wait until I get out and see what it is,” suggested Ned.

He sprang from the car and ran up the steps. When he came back there was a queer look on his face.

“What is it?” asked Bob.

“A rotten pro-German meeting!” was the righteously angry answer. “It’s a meeting at which Mr. Schaeffer is going to preside, and it is called for the purpose of protesting against any person being sent to fight outside of the boundaries of the United States!”

“Do you know, fellows, they oughtn’t to allow ’em to hold that meeting!” exploded Bob, who, now that he had made his decision, was as enthusiastic as his chums.



Jerry and Bob got out of the automobile to go up to read the notice for themselves. As Ned had informed them, a meeting was called, on whose behalf was not stated, to protest against the reported action of the military authorities in sending recruits to do battle on foreign soil.

“We will defend our own country to the last ditch,” was one of the statements made, “but we will not send our youth of the land abroad to fight for foreign kings!”

“Bah, that makes me sick!” declared Jerry. “What do they want to do? Wait until the foreign Kaiser comes over here to kill our women and children before they’re willing to fight?”

“Looks so,” admitted Ned.

“Well, it won’t look so long!” announced Jerry. “I agree with you, Bob, that this meeting ought not to be held. It’s encouraging sedition. The military authorities ought to know about it.”

“Let’s tell Colonel Wentworth!” suggested Ned.


“Yes, we’ll tell him and also let the recruiting officer in Richfield know about it,” agreed Jerry. “The military authorities may want to have a representative present to listen to the talk. If some of these pro-Germans get too rambunctious they may get sat on.”

“And I’d like to do some of the sitting!” added Ned.

“I’ll help,” offered Chunky.

“And that will be some aid,” laughed Jerry, as he looked at his stout friend.

“Yes, that’s what we’ll do—tell the colonel and the recruiting officer,” went on Jerry. “I’ve read about some of these meetings being held in other places. They are started, financed and encouraged by German agents here, the same agents that sent out the warning against sailing on the Lusitania! The wretches! Boys, this meeting ought not to be held!” And there were peculiar looks that passed back and forth among the three chums.

“Do you remember,” asked Ned, reminiscently, as they motored onward, “that the seniors were going to hold a meeting at Boxwood Hall, once, and that we broke it up?”

“I should say I do remember!” exclaimed Jerry.

“Well—” Ned spoke suggestively.

“Oh,” said Jerry.

Bob’s eyes showed interest.

“Something doing?” he queried.


“Better hang around a bit and watch,” advised his tall chum.

“You get my meaning, I see,” said Ned, with a laugh.

The recruiting officer at Richfield was both interested and delighted at the call of the boys. He was delighted at getting such fine-appearing recruits, for the motor boys were above the average in physique, though it could not be denied that Bob was a bit fat.

“But a few setting up exercises will take that off you in jig time,” said the recruiting officer.

His interest, too, was keen on getting the information the boys had to give about the pro-German meeting.

“So they are starting already, are they?” demanded Lieutenant Riker. “Well, we’ll have to expect that. However, they must not go too far—these pacifists and these lovers of the Kaiser. Uncle Sam is pretty easy; too easy, I say, but he has a long arm. I’m much obliged to you boys for the information. I’ll have one or two regular men there, just to listen and to report to the Department of Justice. And as for you——”

“Oh, we’ll be there!” exclaimed Jerry. “We wouldn’t miss it. We are going to tell Colonel Wentworth about it, and he may have something to suggest.”

“I wouldn’t be surprised if he did,” commented[71] Lieutenant Riker with a smile. “Well, I’ll leave that part to you. Now about this enlistment. It’s fine of you to be among the first to come in. There’ll be plenty more too, when they find out a draft is coming.

“Not that it is to the discredit of any one to be in the selective service, as it is going to be called,” he went on. “No higher honor can come to a man. But the advantage of enlisting is that you can pick your own branch of service, and that will be of value. Have you boys any idea where you’d like to be?”

“I’d like aeroplane work,” said Jerry. “We’ve had experience in that.”

“I was thinking of submarines,” put in Ned.

“Why not the artillery?” asked Bob. “You know we had a little to do with explosives when we went out west to our mine.”

“I see you boys know a little something about all three branches of the service,” commented the lieutenant. “Well, perhaps it will be best for you to volunteer for the infantry at first, and, later, make application to be transferred. You can do this as long as you have volunteered.”

“That’s what we’ll do,” said Jerry. So, having formally enlisted, with the consent of their parents, the boys were told that word would be sent to them in a few days where to report for preliminary examinations and training.


“And now we’ll get back and see about that meeting!” exclaimed Jerry.

“I shall be interested in the outcome,” said the recruiting officer.

“I hope you won’t be disappointed,” remarked Jerry, with a smile.

Colonel Wentworth was at once interested and indignant.

“The idea!” he exclaimed. “What! allowing a pro-German meeting in Cresville? And especially when some of her sons are going to be in the new army! It’s infamous!”

“What had we better do?” asked Ned.

“We’d better do something to teach these scoundrels a lesson!” declared the colonel, who was a good deal of a “fire-eater,” though no finer patriotic gentleman lived. “I’ll speak to some of my friends, and we’ll be at the meeting.”

“We expect to do the same,” said Bob. “We have some friends, too. We’ll all be there.”

“Of course,” went on the colonel, “every man is entitled to his own opinion, to a certain extent. But I don’t believe that when we are at war a set of men who, for their own advancement came over here to make money, can, when war is declared against the country they used to live in, side with that country and against the land that has given them everything they have, and has made them everything they are. There should[73] be no more German-Americans! We should all be Americans. And any meeting or gathering that tends to foster this divided spirit, any gathering of misguided individuals which has for an object the weakening of our righteous war-like spirit, should be broken up.”

“And we’ll attend to the breaking-up!” exclaimed Jerry. “Come on, boys! We’ve got lots to do!”

And for the rest of that day Ned, Bob and Jerry were very busy.

There was a large gathering at the meeting held under the auspices of the “Friends of Liberty,” as they called themselves. Just who the prime movers were was not certain, but some men, whose names proclaimed their former nationality, whatever it might be now, were actively engaged in making the arrangements. Among them was Mr. Schaeffer, who was seen hurrying to and fro from the front entrance to the rooms back of the stage, where the speakers were sequestered.

Ned, Bob and Jerry, with some of their chums, were among the early arrivals at the hall. Bob took a survey over the audience and bowed to some one.

“Some one else we can get to help when the row starts?” asked Jerry.

“It’s Helena,” answered Bob, and he seemed a trifle uneasy. “Say, boys, what are we going to[74] do about the women and girls?” he asked. “We don’t want any of them roughly treated.”

“There won’t be any rough treatment,” said Jerry. “All those who wish, will be given a chance to leave the hall peaceably first.

“And then the whole thing may fizzle out. It all depends on the line of talk the speakers hand out. Lieutenant Riker said we’re not to stand for anything seditious, or that would tend to discourage recruiting. It may be that these Kaiserites will only generalize and not particularize enough to give us cause for action. We’ve got to wait. But don’t worry about Helena. She’ll be all right, whatever happens.”

Bob seemed easier after this, but it was noticed that his gaze strayed often toward that section of the hall where Miss Schaeffer sat.

Meanwhile her father and two or three other members of the committee hurried to and fro. If Mr. Schaeffer saw the boys, he did not speak to them.

The meeting opened peaceably enough with a statement by Mr. Schaeffer to the effect that war was a terrible thing, and something to be avoided by all peace-loving people, which was the kind making up the population of the United States. If other nations wanted to engage in battle, let them, was his argument. But let them keep away from those who did not want to fight. Of[75] course, he suggested, there were certain rights which must be upheld, and on these other speakers would dwell. He introduced Adolph Pfeiffer as the principal orator of the evening.

There were a few murmurs as Mr. Schaeffer sat down, but nothing serious. He had not come out strongly enough to warrant any open challenge, though his weak and lack-of-back-bone policy made some of the audience sneer. Ned, Bob and Jerry looked over toward several regular soldiers seated not far from them. They had been sent by Colonel Riker, but they gave no sign that there was any need for action yet.

Mr. Pfeiffer was a lawyer, and his name indicated his leanings. He began by counseling patience and prudence, and dwelt on the legal aspects of war, what belligerents had a right to do, and what was against international law. Then he spoke of the entrance of the United States into the war, and he did not challenge the right of the government to make such a declaration.

“But I do say,” he went on, after a short pause, “that the United States has no right to send our boys across the water to fight with the French and the English against Germany. The United States has no right to do that!”

“Why not?” some one in the audience demanded.

“Because it is a violation of constitutional rights.[76] We may defend our land from an invasion, but Germany is not going to invade us. It is not right to send our soldiers to fight her.”

“That’s right!” cried Mr. Schaeffer. “This war is not a good war. We should not go abroad to fight Germany. Our country is doing wrong and we should not uphold her when she——”

“Treason! Treason!” came the cries from all over the hall.


“I guess it’s time to start something!” exclaimed Ned, starting to his feet. On one side of the hall he saw the soldiers rising. On the other Colonel Wentworth was shaking his fist at the men on the platform, and shouting something that could not be heard.

“There’ll be a riot in a minute!” cried Bob, as he started toward that part of the hall where Helena Schaeffer had been sitting.

“There’s going to be a fight, I guess,” said Jerry calmly. And then he yelled: “Let the women and children get out! This is no place for them!”

There were some frightened screams and squeals, and a rush on the part of a number of women to reach the exits. Ushers helped them, and a quick glance showed Bob that Helena had gone with them.

Meanwhile the men on the platform, the German-American speakers, were holding a hasty[77] consultation. Colonel Wentworth was advancing up the aisle, calling for three cheers for the stars and stripes, and the singing of the “Star-Spangled Banner.”

“Quiet! Quiet!” roared Mr. Schaeffer, his Teutonic accent coming back to him. “Sit down. You have no right to interrupt this peaceable meeting, Colonel Wentworth!”

“That’s the trouble with it! It’s too peaceful—too traitorous!” cried the former soldier. “I call on all good Americans to put an end to this seditious talk!” he shouted.

“We’re with you to the finish!” exclaimed Jerry.

“Put ’em out!” some one called.

“Don’t stand for any seditious talk!” advised some one beside the colonel.

Ned, Bob and Jerry kept together. They saw half a dozen soldiers, regulars from the recruiting station, walking toward the platform.

Just then some one threw a chair over the heads of the crowd toward the platform. It broke some of the electric lights with pops like those of a distant revolver.

“It’s a shame to stop our speakers!” declared a man next to Jerry, and his voice was unmistakably German.

“Oh, is it? Say, what kind of an American are you?” asked Ned.


“Chust as goot vot you are!” came the quick answer. “I show you dot you can’t——!”

He aimed a blow at Ned, who, to guard himself quickly raised his arm, and, in so doing, accidentally struck the German in the face. The latter let out a roar, and at once began to fling his arms around like flails.

“Grab him!” cried Jerry to Bob, who was beside Ned.

In another instant fights started in several parts of the hall, and there were shouts and yells, some calling for order and others yelling just from excitement.

“There’s going to be a fight!” joyously cried Jerry. “Stick together, boys!”

An instant later the lights went out, and the fight, spreading to all parts of the auditorium, became general in the darkness. There was the sound of blows, the crashing of chairs, and the shouts of the enraged ones.



None of the motor boys had a very clear idea, during the mêlée or afterward, of what went on. Jerry said some one hit him several times, and he hit back. This much was certain because one of his hands was so bruised that he had to have it bandaged.

Ned declared he knocked one man down, a man who spoke with a very pronounced German accent, until Ned rather spoiled the accent by contriving to have his fist collide with the mouth of the person who was muttering something about “Der Tag.”

“His day came right then and there,” explained Ned afterward. “Only it was good night for his.”

As for Bob, he declared that, in the dark, he was struck on all sides at once.

In the dark no one could tell whom he was hitting. The fight kept up, the din growing greater until it was deafening, until a cry for order, led by several men in concert, came. These men were the soldiers.


Some one managed to light a solitary gas jet in a corner of the hall, and by the gleam the swaying, struggling mass could be observed. Fortunately the women and girls had gotten out, or they might have been hurt. As it was, they stood outside and screamed, probably because of fear for their men relatives inside. Then some one switched on all the lights, and with that the fight stopped.

There were a few bloody noses, and some eyes that, in the process of time, would turn black, blue and other hues, there were torn collars and garments, while a number of chairs were overturned.

But when Ned, Bob and Jerry looked toward the stage it was deserted. The chairs that had been filled with honorary vice-chairmen, were empty. Mr. Pfeiffer was absent. So was Mr. Schaeffer. In fact, of all the German-Americans who had undertaken to conduct the meeting not one was in sight. They had sneaked off in the confusion and the darkness. The meeting was most effectively broken up.

“Well, things came off as we expected,” remarked Jerry, tying his handkerchief around his injured hand.

“But not in just the way we had counted on,” said Ned.

This was true, for the boys had planned that one of them should call for three cheers for the[81] flag, and demand that the band play the national anthem.

It was expected that this would be objected to by those in charge of the meeting, and then there would be a good chance to denounce those responsible, and an opportunity for breaking up the gathering. This had been Colonel Wentworth’s plan, but events had shaped themselves differently. The putting out of the lights had not been planned by the motor boys.

With the withdrawal of the leading pro-Germans, their sympathizers in the audience soon went out, leaving the place well filled with loyal citizens. Colonel Wentworth, seeing a chance to make a speech, at once took charge of matters, and organized a patriotic meeting then and there. This was turning the tables on the pro-Germans with a vengeance.

Ned, Bob and Jerry remained for a while, and then, as Jerry’s hand was getting painful, the motor boys left and went to a near-by drug store.

As might be expected, the breaking up of the pro-German meeting created a stir in the town. On all sides, save among those who might, because of their nationality, be expected to differ, there were heard words of commendation. And when Ned, Bob and Jerry called on Lieutenant Riker, to get some final instructions about their enlistment, the soldier grinned broadly as he asked:


“Any more meetings of the ‘Friends of Liberty’ scheduled for your town?”

“Not just at present,” laughed Jerry.

There was some talk, on the part of those who had called the meeting, of proceeding against those who had broken it up. Mr. Pfeiffer, the lawyer, was loudest in this talk.

But he did nothing, and his talk finally ceased with conspicuous abruptness, probably, as Jerry remarked, on the advice of more prudent friends. At the same time there was a noticeable cessation in the activities of the pro-Germans.

“But I don’t suppose you’ll dare go to call on Helena now,” said Ned to Bob one day.

“No,” was the somewhat disconsolate answer. “I don’t believe it would be just the thing.”

“Especially if Mr. Schaeffer were at home,” observed Jerry.

The breaking up of the meeting had one good effect. Though a stickler for strict justice might condemn the method used, there followed, nevertheless, a stimulation to recruiting. When it became known that Ned, Bob and Jerry had enlisted and expected soon to be sent to the nearest training station, there was a wave of patriotism in Cresville, and many mothers and fathers were in despair on account of very young boys who wanted to join the colors.

It required no little tact to get such off the[83] notion, but to the credit of the home-folk be it said that in no case, where a boy was physically fit, and of the proper age, did he have to hold back because of the objection of parents.

Those were stirring days, and events moved swiftly. Once the motor boys had made up their minds that it was the right thing to enlist, they were eager to be off to the training camp.

Lieutenant Riker told them they would probably be sent to a cantonment in one of the Southern states, which shall be called Camp Dixton, for a period of training.

“How long will that last?” asked Ned. “When can we go to France and do some real fighting?”

“You’ll go as soon as you are fit,” answered the experienced soldier. “It would be a mistake to send you abroad now. You would do more harm than good—I mean raw troops in the aggregate. You must be trained, and taught how to take care of yourselves. Why, even the period of training in how to meet gas attacks alone will take some time. Don’t be in too much of a hurry. Learn the business of war and fighting first, and then you’ll be able to deal the Boche so much harder blows.”

This was good advice, and the boys, in their calmer moments, appreciated it; but it was hard to be inactive. At last the day came when they[84] were to part from their parents and friends in Cresville. They did not need to take much with them, for they would be fitted out in camp.

Up to this time nothing more had been heard concerning the gold watch and the diamond brooch lost in the fire, nor had anything more been learned of the French engraver’s money or of the mysterious Crooked Nose.

“It’s good-bye to our motor boat and auto and aeroplane for a while,” said Ned, with a sigh, as the boys made their way to the station, having parted with their parents at home.

“Yes, but what we know about running them may come in handy later,” remarked Jerry.

On their way to the station they met other boy friends who had also enlisted, and as they reached the depot they saw a crowd there to give them a send-off.

“And look who’s here to kiss little Bob good-bye!” exclaimed Ned.

“Who is it?” asked Chunky.

“Miss Helena Schaeffer,” was the answer. “Oh, Bob! Oh, boy! Go to it!”



Bob Baker did not flinch in what might be called the “face of the enemy.”

True, Helena was not exactly an enemy, though her father had helped to organize the pro-German meeting. But Helena was a girl who, in a measure, thought for herself. She did not altogether agree with the opinions held by her father and his Fatherland friends, though she had heard many stories of the achievements of the Kaiser and his chosen ones. Also she had heard, not from her father, other stories that reflected anything but glory on German arms.

And so, when Helena knew that the motor boys were about to take the train that, eventually, would land them at Camp Dixton, she decided to go to say good-bye to Bob Baker.

Naturally, she did not tell her father of her intention, and, naturally, Mr. Schaeffer was as far as possible from the station from which the recruits departed. He did not care to see such activities on the part of loyal Cresvillians in favor of Uncle Sam.


It was a violation of the constitutional rights of the young men to be placed in a position where they might have to fight on foreign soil, Mr. Schaeffer claimed. Mr. Pfeiffer had said so and he ought to know.

“Well, Helena, I am glad to see you,” remarked Bob, when he found himself near the blue-eyed girl.

“Are you?” she inquired, and her voice was not very warm.

“Of course I am!” he insisted. “It’s no end good of you to come down to see me off.”

“Well, I thought I’d come,” she said, a bit shyly. “I—I’m sorry we had that little difference of opinion. But you know—you know, I’ve always liked you, Bob.”

“I hope so, Helena.”

“But you know war is a terrible thing!”

“Are you sorry to see me go?”

“Of course I am! I’m afraid you won’t come back.” And for the first time she showed a little emotion.

“Oh, I’ll come back all right!” declared Bob, as he took her hand.

“Let go!” she exclaimed. “Some one will see us!”

“I don’t care!” declared the stout one. “I like you a lot, Helena, and I’m sorry your father——”

“Please don’t speak of him!” she begged[87] quickly. “I must do as my father says, and, though I like you, I—I—that is, he says—well, he doesn’t believe in this war!”

“I’m afraid he’ll have to come to believe in it,” said Bob. “We all will. It’s a war that’s got to be fought to a finish. I’m sorry for the peace-loving Germans, if there are any, who don’t hold with the Kaiser, but I’m against all who do! We’re in this war to win, Helena!”

The girl did not answer. She seemed struggling with some emotion. The distant whistle of a train was heard, and the recruits, some of whom formed the centers of rather tearful groups, prepared to gather up their luggage.

“Well, I guess it’s good-bye, Helena,” said Bob, while Ned and Jerry were bidding farewell to some boy and girl friends, among them Mollie Horton and Alice Vines.

“Yes, good-bye,” Helena murmured. “I’m sorry you’re going, but I suppose you know your own business best. Perhaps you will not be gone for as long as you think.”

“Oh, I guess it will be for a long time,” said Bob. “This war isn’t going to be over in a hurry. But we’ve all got to do our duty.”

“Well, it’s too bad we can’t all have the same duty,” sighed Helena. “However, I suppose that can never be. Good-bye, Bob. Write to me when you get a chance!” and before Bob knew[88] what was happening she had given him a rather sisterly kiss on his forehead and disappeared in the crowd.

“Here! Wait a minute!” called Bob, starting after her. But the train came in just then and there was so much confusion, and such a scramble to get baggage together and find places in the cars, that Bob did not get another glimpse of Helena.

A United States regular, Sergeant Mandell, was in charge of the recruits, having been detailed by Lieutenant Riker to conduct them safely to Camp Dixton.

“All aboard, boys!” he called. “All aboard!”

“All aboard she is!” echoed Jerry.

“We’re off for the camp!” said Ned.

Bob said nothing, but as soon as he got in his seat he raised the window and looked out. Helena was not in sight, and, with a sigh, the stout lad turned away.

A special car had been reserved for the boys from Cresville and vicinity, who were going away in a body, and the lads now filled the coach with gay songs and jests. To most of them it was a holiday, a picnic, but there were some who felt the gravity of the situation, and who felt that doing their duty in the matter of enlisting was not as easy as it seemed.

The three motor boys kept together, and soon[89] had stowed away their possessions and made themselves comfortable.

“Well, this is the first time we ever left Cresville under such circumstances,” observed Ned, as the train pulled out of the station amid cheers from those left behind, and a stirring air played by the band.

“Yes, we’ve gone out on many a trip, but none was just like this,” agreed Jerry. “I wish the professor could be with us, at least part of the way. He’d be interested in this bunch.”

“More likely he’d be crawling around on the floor of the car looking for a new kind of fly,” said Bob, with a chuckle.

Professor Snodgrass had gone back to Boston after his flying visit to Cresville. But he had promised to go to see them in camp, for it was evident that, on account of the war, he would not be kept very busy at Boxwood Hall.

Soon the prospective soldiers in the special car were having the best of times. They had gotten over the first wrench of parting, and were having fun. They sang and joked, and Ned, Bob and Jerry entered into the jollity of the occasion.

“Do we go right into camp?” asked one lad from Cresville.

“No, I believe we first have to stop at Yorktown and go through a detailed examination,” answered Jerry, who had been making inquiries.[90] “So far all we’ve gone through has been preliminary; and though we have enlisted, there is still a lot of red tape to go through. They’ll sift us out at Yorktown.”

“You mean separate the sheep from the goats!” laughed Ned.

“Something like that, yes,” Jerry admitted.

So they traveled on. At each stop there was a rush to get papers, if any were available, so the recruits might know the latest news in regard to the war. There were flaming headlines, but not much real news, as events were, as yet, hardly shaped. But everything went to show that Uncle Sam had at last decided to get into the war on a wholesale scale.

“When’s the next stop?” asked Bob, as the conductor came through on one of his trips.

“Oh, in about half an hour. But that isn’t Yorktown.”

“No, I know it isn’t.”

“Chunky wants to know if there’s a lunch counter there,” put in Ned, grinning.

“Oh, yes, sort of one;” and the conductor smiled.



“Say, look here!” blustered Bob, when the conductor had passed on. “Just because I ask about the next station doesn’t mean that I want to eat all the while.”

“You aren’t eating all the while,” said Ned. “This is only the second in a while since we started.”

“Well, I’m hungry!” declared the stout lad. “Maybe you are, too, only you’re too proud to admit it.”

“I’m not!” declared Jerry. “Chunky, I second your motion, and I wish my jaws were in motion right now. I’ll be with you when the crullers nest again!” he chanted.

“Who said pie?” demanded a voice at the end of the car.

“That bunch up in the middle,” answered another, indicating the motor boys.

“Is there any chance for a feed?” came a veritable howl from some hungry lad. “Tell me, oh, tell me, I implore!”


“Next stop,” answered Jerry. “That is,” and he turned to the sergeant in charge, “unless you have some rations concealed somewhere about your person,” and he laughed.

“Not a ration,” was the answer. “I suppose there ought to have been some arrangement made for feeding you boys on the way, but there is such a rush that it has been overlooked. However, if you are short of change——”

“Oh, we’ve got the money! All we want is time to eat!” came the cry.

“I’ll see to that, then,” said Sergeant Mandell. “If necessary I’ll have the conductor hold the train for a minute or two, until you can raid the lunch counter. But mind! everything must be paid for, as I am responsible.”

Ned, Bob, and Jerry, by common consent, were detailed into a foraging party on behalf of some of their comrades and a common fund was made up with which to purchase what food could be found. Then the boys eagerly waited for the train to arrive at the station where there was a lunch counter.

And such a rush as there was when the place was announced! The three motor boys, as treasurers, were accompanied to the counter by a mob of the boys who for themselves or for companions had orders for everything in sight.

“I want apple pie!”


“Cherry for mine!”

“Give me peach!”

“What’s the matter with the ‘peachy’ girl behind the counter?” asked some one, and there were many glances of warm but respectful admiration cast at the young girl behind the piles of food on the marble shelf.

“Sandwiches—all you got!” demanded Jerry.

“And some crullers, if you haven’t enough pie!” added Bob. “I want a lot of crullers. You can put ’em in your pocket!” he confided to Ned.

“Put ’em in your pocket? Man, dear! I’m going to put mine in my stomach!”

“Yes, I know. So’m I—most of ’em,” went on Chunky. “But you can stow away some in your pockets to eat when you get hungry again. They don’t get as mushy as pie.”

“You’re the limit!” Ned told his chum. “You haven’t had a feed yet, and you’re thinking of the next one. But go to it! I never felt so hungry in my life.” So Bob went to it, to the extent of stuffing his pockets with crullers, and carrying away as much else as he could in his hands.

The girl at the lunch counter would have been swamped, but Jerry organized a sort of helping corps, and dealt out the food to his fellow recruits, making payment in due course, until the counter looked as fields do after a visit from the locusts.

Back to the car, only just in time, rushed the[94] boys, bearing things to eat to those of their comrades who had remained in their seats, for some were detailed to remain as a sort of guard over the luggage.

“Ah! This is something like!” exclaimed Bob, as he sat in his seat when the train had again started, holding a sandwich in each hand, while his pockets bulged suspiciously.

“You seem pretty well provided for,” remarked Ned to his stout chum, as the three motor boys sat together again.

“Well, I don’t aim to starve if I can help it,” retorted Bob, as he munched away.

“You must weigh five or six pounds more,” added Jerry, with a glance at Bob’s pockets. “That’s dangerous business, old man!”

“What?” asked Bob, pausing half-way to a bite of his sandwich.

“Putting on weight like that. You must remember that you’re not more than just tall enough to break in under the military requirements, and if you are too heavy for your height—out you go.”

“You can’t take away my appetite!” exclaimed Bob, but he did not see Ned wink at Jerry and motion with his head toward the bulging pockets of the stout lad.

For a time there was a merry scene in the car, where the prospective soldiers were riding. Hungry appetites were being appeased, and this caused[95] a line of small talk, which had rather died away after the first part of the journey.

Many of the lads were friends, and a number knew the motor boys, having lived in Cresville. Others were from surrounding towns, and some of them Ned, Bob, and Jerry knew, or had heard about. Others were total strangers, and one or two seemed quite alone. These had come from small villages, where not more than one or two had volunteered. One such lad, who gave his name as Harry Blake, the motor boys made friends with, and shared their food with him, as he had not seen fit, for some reason or other, to get off and provide himself.

“Have you any particular branch of the service in view?” asked Jerry of Harry, as he saw Ned and Bob jointly looking at a paper.

“I did hope to get in the aviation corps, but they tell me it’s pretty hard.”

“Hard to get in?”

“Well, yes, and hard to learn the rudiments of the game.”

“Oh, no, that isn’t exactly so,” Jerry answered. “Of course I don’t know much about military aeroplanes, but my friends and I have been operating airships for some time. It’s comparatively easy, once you get over the natural fear. Though of course becoming an expert is another matter.[96] I think you could soon learn. You look as though you were cool-headed.”

“No, I don’t get excited easily, but I don’t know beans about an airship. I’ve read a little; but the more I read the more I get confused. I’d like to understand the principle.”

“Perhaps I can help you,” Jerry said. “I’ve got a book here on aeroplanes, and my friends and I have helped build some. I can give you a little book-knowledge for a starter.”

“I wish you would,” pleaded Harry, and then he and Jerry plunged into a subject that interested them both.

Meanwhile the train rushed on, carrying the recruits nearer to the training camp, or rather, to the city where they would be given a more careful examination and separated into units, to be divided among the various cantonments where Uncle Sam was getting his new armies ready to face the Kaiser’s veterans.

Jerry had just finished telling Harry something about the way in which the double rudders controlled an airship—one guiding it up or down, and the other to left or right, when there came a howl from Bob—a veritable wail of anguish.

“What’s the matter?” asked Ned, who had moved out of the seat beside his stout chum, and was sitting back of him. “Did you bite your tongue?”


“Bite my tongue? Come on! You know better than that. Hand ’em over!” and Bob, extending his fist, shook it under Ned’s nose.

“Hand what over? What do you mean? If you mean these magazines, I’ve just started ’em. Besides, they’re mine!”

“No, I don’t mean the magazines, and you know it!” declared Bob.

“Well, I’m sure I don’t know what you do mean. What’s the row, anyhow?”

“My crullers!” exclaimed Bob. “You snitched ’em out of my pocket when you were sitting in the same seat with me. Come on; a joke’s a joke, and I don’t mind if you keep one for yourself, and another for Jerry. But hand over the rest!”

“The rest of what?” asked Ned, innocently enough.

“Oh, quit! You know! My crullers. I bought ’em to eat when I got hungry, and now they’re gone,” and in proof Bob stood up and turned both coat pockets inside out.

“Yes, I see they’re empty,” observed Ned coolly. “But I haven’t got ’em!”

“You have so!”

“Indeed I haven’t. Search me!” and Ned, with an air of injured innocence, stood up and extended his arms at either side, an invitation for Bob to feel in his pockets. It was an invitation which the stout youth did not ignore, and he felt[98] about Ned’s clothes with thoroughness, and convinced himself that the crullers were, as Ned had declared, not on his person.

“Well, you know where they are!” declared Bob.

“No, I don’t!”

“Jerry does, then!”

“What’s that?” asked the tall lad, looking up from his book on aeroplanes, which he and his new acquaintance were going over.

Bob explained, and Jerry’s denial was such that the stout lad felt inclined to accept it as final. Especially as he remembered that Jerry had not been near him since the purchase of the food at the lunch counter.

“Well, somebody’s got my crullers and I’m going to get ’em back!” exclaimed Bob. “I paid for ’em and I want ’em. A joke’s a joke, but this is too much! Shell out, fellows!” and he looked around at those nearest him.

The truth of the matter was that Ned had slyly slipped the bags of crullers out of the two side pockets of Bob’s coat, and had passed them, surreptitiously to two fellow conspirators. And then, as is usual in such cases, the crullers had gone from hand to hand until, reaching the far end of the car, they had been quickly eaten.

But Bob did not give up. Satisfied that Ned did not have the pastry on his person, Bob set[99] about a search for it. He walked down the aisle, looking in various seats, and poking his fingers in the pockets of those he knew, until he came to the end of the car.

In one of the seats sat a heavily-built youth, whose face was not of a prepossessing type. He had a sort of bulldog air about him, as though “spoiling for a fight,” and he had had little to say to the other recruits.

Bob, looking at the coat of this lad, as the garment was spread out over the unoccupied half of a seat, made a grab for something in one of the pockets, at the same time crying:

“Here they are! I knew you’d snitched ’em!” and he pulled out a bag, and drew therefrom a cruller.

The lad in the seat turned quickly from looking out the window, and, without a moment’s hesitation, sent his fist into Bob’s face.

“Maybe that’ll teach you to let Pug Kennedy’s things alone!” he growled.



Bob, surprised as much by the suddenness of the other’s action as by the violence of the blow, staggered back, his hands going to his bruised face. There was a moment of silence, and then Jerry, who had seen the whole occurrence, cried out in ringing tones:

“Here, fellow, don’t you hit him again!”

“Who says so?” demanded “Pug” Kennedy, as he called himself. “If you’re looking for trouble come down and get yours!” and he stepped out into the aisle and struck a characteristic pugilistic attitude.

“I’m not looking for trouble,” said Jerry calmly; “but I like fair play, and I’m going to see that my friend gets it.”

“Oh, you’re going to butt in, are you?” sneered the other.

“No, I’m not in the habit of doing that,” said Jerry. “But what did you strike Bob for?”

“None of your business.”

“Oh, yes, it is our business, too,” said Ned,[101] walking up beside Jerry. Bob’s nose had begun to bleed and he was holding his handkerchief to it. He seemed dazed, and acted as though he did not know how to account for what had occurred.

“What happened, Bob?” asked Jerry, as Ned walked up to the heavily-built lad.

“Why, I was looking for my bag of crullers, and I saw them in his pocket and——”

“You did not!” burst out Pug Kennedy. “That’s my own grub that I bought in the station, and if you want to fight for it——”

“What are you always talking about fighting for?” asked Ned suddenly, as he put out his hand and swung the bully around sharply. “I guess you aren’t the only one who can do that.”

“Keep your hands off me!” roared Pug Kennedy. “If you’re looking for trouble——”

“I generally find what I’m looking for,” said Ned softly, and he did not give back an inch as Kennedy took a quick step forward.

Then, with a quickness that showed he understood considerable about the pugilistic ring, Kennedy made a sudden shift, and his fist shot out toward Ned. But the latter was just as quick, and, dodging the blow, he put out his hand in a stiff arm movement and pushed Kennedy back into his seat. The bully fell heavily. He tried to get up.

“No you don’t! Just sit there awhile!” cried[102] Ned, and he plumped himself down on the struggling one, holding him in place.

Seeing how matters were going, the others who had crowded up drew back as well as they could in the aisle of the swaying car, to give room to the struggling ones. If there was to be a fight it was no more than right that it should be a fair one.

“Let me up!” spluttered Pug Kennedy.

“Not until I get ready,” answered Ned coolly.

He could afford to be cool. For he had dodged what Pug had thought was going to be a “knockout blow” in such a clever way that the bully was disconcerted, and now Kennedy was held down in such a position that he could not use his strength to advantage.

But he was strong, Ned had to admit that. Only because of the fact that he had the larger boy at a disadvantage, sitting on him, so to speak, and holding him down by bracing his legs against the opposite seat, was Ned able to keep himself where he was, for Pug struggled hard.

“Just stay there until you cool off a bit,” advised Ned, “and until you learn not to hit out so with your fists. If you want to fight, we’ll find some one your size and weight in our crowd to take you on. How about it, Jerry?”

“I’ll agree if he will,” was the answer, and the tall lad grinned cheerfully.

“Who said I wanted to fight?” growled Pug[103] Kennedy, as he saw several unfriendly looks cast in his direction, and noted the athletic build of Jerry Hopkins.

“Well, you sort of acted that way,” commented Ned, who did not intend to give the bully the slightest advantage. “What did you want to hit Bob for?” and he nodded at his chum, who had finally succeeded in stopping his nose hemorrhage.

“What’d he want to go and shove his hands into my pocket for, without asking me if he could?” demanded Pug, and it must be admitted that he really had right on his side. Bob had acted hastily, and perhaps indiscreetly, considering that he did not know the lad who had had the encounter with him.

“I was only looking for my crullers,” Bob explained. “Some one took ’em for a joke, and when I saw the bag in your pocket I thought you had ’em.”

“Well, why didn’t you say so?” growled Pug, who, in truth, looked something like the animal from which had come the nickname.

“You didn’t give me a chance,” said Bob. “If you wanted to fight why didn’t you say so?”

“Well, you mind your own business, and let me alone!” growled the belligerent one. “And you’d better let me up if you know what’s good for you!” he added fiercely to Ned.

“Oh, I guess I know my business,” was the calm[104] rejoinder. “At the same time I’m willing to let you up provided you promise to keep your hands off my friend. If you want to fight, as I said, that can be arranged.”

“I won’t promise anything!” growled Pug.

“Then you’ll sit there until you do,” observed Ned. There is no telling how long this deadlock might have kept up, but at this point Sergeant Mandell, who had been in the smoking car, came back to see how his recruits were getting on. He took in the scene at a glance.

“Let him up, Slade,” he ordered Ned. “And you, Kennedy, keep quiet. Remember you’re soldiers now, and you must obey your superiors. For the time being I am your officer, though I want to be your friend, too. Now what’s the row?”

It was explained in various ways, but all agreed that Kennedy had struck first, and with little provocation, for Bob’s action, though thoughtless, poking his hands into the pockets of another lad, had been innocent enough.

“You had no right to hit him for that,” declared the sergeant. “But I am not saying that Baker did exactly right, either. Though it was natural for him to want his crullers.”

With mutterings and growls, Pug Kennedy shook himself after Ned let him up, and slunk into his seat, away from the others. Ned, Bob,[105] and Jerry went back to their places, and quiet was once more restored.

“Bob, old man, I’m sorry,” said Ned. “It was my fault. I did take your crullers, but I haven’t ’em now. I passed ’em down the line as a joke. I’ll see if I can get ’em back.”

“Let ’em go, I don’t want ’em,” growled Bob.

It was perhaps a good thing he did not want them, since the crullers had been eaten. When Ned learned that he offered to buy some more at the next lunch counter.

But there was no time for this, as Sergeant Mandell said they would soon reach Yorktown, where they would be quartered until they could be more carefully examined and a decision arrived at as to where to send them for preliminary training.

As the motor boys, with their old and new friends, were gathering up their luggage, preparatory to getting off the train when it should stop in Yorktown, a lad slipped up to Ned.

“You want to look out for that fellow,” he said in a low voice.

“What fellow?”

“That Pug Kennedy. The one you sat on.”


“Oh, he’s a scrapper and always looking for a fight. He comes from the same town I do, and[106] he’s licked every boy in it, some bigger than he is, too.”

“Thanks for telling me,” said Ned. “I’m not afraid of him. But, just the same, it’s as well to be on the watch. He seems like a bully.”

“He is. He doesn’t mind fighting a fellow smaller than himself. I don’t like him, but I’ve got to hand it to him—he is some scrapper! I hope the army takes some of the mean wrinkles out of him.”

“The army is just the place to get it done,” observed Ned. “Thanks for telling me. See you again some time.”

He looked over to note what Kennedy was doing, but the latter had left the car. Ned, Bob, and Jerry, with their fellow recruits, were formed into a squad, and, amid the friendly looks of a crowd that gathered at the station, they marched to the barracks, which were not far away.

“So Pug Kennedy is a scrapper, is he?” observed Jerry, when Ned told him the result of the talk with the other boy. “Well, it’s as well to know that first as last. I hope he isn’t sent to our camp. But, if he is, we’ll have to make the best of it.”

It was noted that “Pug” answered to the title of Michael, and it was assumed that “Pug” had been the characterization given him because of his fancied resemblance to a dog of that breed—a[107] resemblance more real, in certain ways, than fancied.

In the following days the recruits were measured, weighed, tested in various ways, and finally were all sworn in as privates in the United States army that was eventually to fight, in France or elsewhere, the troops of the Central Powers.

To Bob’s distress he was held up by one doctor, as being overweight, and was close to being rejected. But his chums took him in hand, and for a day starved him on a most reduced diet, and made him take so much exercise that Bob lost about five pounds, and passed.

“But it was a close call,” said Jerry, when all was safe. “Don’t go to stuffing yourself with pie or crullers until after you’re in the camp. Then they won’t put you out, I dare say.”

“I’ll be careful,” promised Bob, now quite anxious.

And, three days later, the motor boys, with a number of their friends from Cresville, and with others whom they did not know, including the unpleasant Pug Kennedy, were sent to Camp Dixton, there to be given a thorough training for their new life in the army.



Out of the gray, chilly, and silent dawn came the sharp notes of a bugle. The sound echoed among the mist-enshrouded hills, the notes vibrating in and out among the trees, and then seemed to die away in the distance.

But if any one of the several thousand prospective soldiers, sleeping the sleep of the more or less just in the tents of Camp Dixton, thought it was but a dream, those notes of the bugle, he was sadly, if not rudely, awakened when the sound came with greater insistence, as if calling over and over again:

“Get up! Get up! You must get up!”

“I say, Ned!” lazily called Bob from his bed amid the blankets on the ground under a khaki tent, “what day is it?”

“What difference does that make?” asked Ned. “What time is it?”

“You ought to know without asking, when you hear that horn,” grunted Jerry.

“Horn? Bugle you mean,” came a voice from[109] the other corner of the tent, if a conical tent, the shape used in the army, can be said to have “corners.”

“Have it your own way,” assented Jerry. “I’m anxious to know what Bob meant by asking what day it was.”

“If it’s only Sunday we’ll get a chance to rest,” explained the stout Chunky, peering out from under his blankets. For he and the others had wrapped up well, as the night had been chilly.

“Chance to rest!” exclaimed Ned. “Say, we haven’t done anything yet.”

“Done anything!” challenged Bob. “Don’t you call that drill we went through yesterday anything?”

“Just a little setting up exercise, and some marching to get you to know your hay foot from your straw foot,” commented the tall lad. “If you’re going to kick about that the second day in camp what will happen in about a week?”

“Oh, I’m not kicking,” hastily said Bob. “In fact, I’m too lame and sore to kick. And my arm feels like a boil.”

“Anti-typhus germs,” explained Ned. “You’ll be a whole lot worse before you’re better. We have to have two more injections, I understand.”

The rousing notes of the bugle, “rousing” in a double sense, again sounded, and, not without considerable grumbling and growling, in which[110] even Jerry, by the look on his face at least, seemed to join, the boys got up and prepared for another day in camp—their second.

The young volunteers, with a lot of other recruits, had reached the camp ground the day before, but there was so much confusion, so many new arrivals, and such a general air of orderly disorder about the place, that the impressions Ned, Bob, and Jerry received were mixed.

Camp Dixton was situated in one of the Southern states, and was laid out on a big plain at the foot of some hills, which, as they rose farther to the west, became sizable mountains. The plain which had, until within a short time of the laying out of the cantonments, been several large farms, consisted of level ground, with a few places where there were low rounded hills and patches of wood. It was an ideal location for a camp, giving opportunity for drills and sham battles over as great a diversity of terrain as might be found in Flanders or France.

As to the camp itself, it was typical of many that have since sprung up all over the United States to care for the large army, or armies, that are constantly being raised. And the building of Camp Dixton, like the making of all the others, had been little short of marvelous. On what had been, a few months before, a series of farms, there was now a military city.


The place was laid out like a model city. The barracks for the soldiers were, of course, made of rough wood, and few of them were painted, but there was time enough for that. A great level, center space had been set aside as a parade ground, and in the midst of this was the division headquarters. North and south of the parade ground were the long rows of “streets” lined with the wooden buildings, some of which were sleeping quarters, some cook houses and others places where the officers lived.

There were long rows of warehouses, into which ran railroad sidings; there were an ice house, an ice plant, a big laundry, a theater, and many other buildings and establishments such as one would find in a city.

As for the military units themselves, there were infantry, cavalry, machine gun companies, artillery companies, a motor corp and even a small contingent of aeroplanes.

On their arrival the day before, Ned, Bob, and Jerry, with the other recruits, had been met at the railroad station by a number of officers, who looked very spick and span in their olive-drab uniforms, with their brown leather leggings polished until one could almost see his face in them.

In columns of four abreast, carrying their handbags and suitcases, the new soldiers were marched[112] up to camp, a most unmilitary looking lot, as the boys themselves admitted.

A few at a time, the lads were ushered into booths, where officers took their names, records, and other details, then they were given something to eat.

“For all the world like a sort of picnic in a new mining town,” as Ned wrote home.

Then had come a preliminary drill, and some setting-up exercises. The boys were so tired out from this, and from their journey, that no one thought of anything but bed when it was over.

“And now we’ve got to do it all over again,” murmured Bob, as he began to dress. “This is somewhat different from what we were used to at home. Home was never like this!”

“Quit your kicking!” exclaimed Jerry. “Aren’t you glad you’re in this, and are going to help lick the Huns?”

“Sure I am!” declared the stout lad.

“Then keep still about it!”

“Say, I’ve got a right to kick if I want to, as long as I get up when the bugle calls,” declared Bob. “It’s the constitutional right of a free-born American citizen to kick, and I’m doing it!”

“Showing you how much like the mule an otherwise perfectly good fellow can become,” murmured Ned, and then he had to duck to get out of the way of a shoe that Bob tossed at him.


“Come on, fellows! Hustle!” called a non-commissioned officer, thrusting his head in the doorway of the tent where the boys were dressing. “Roll call soon!”

“We’ll be there,” announced Ned. “I hope we get shifted to one of the barracks to-day,” he went on. “It’s a bit damp in this tent.”

“Yes, a wooden shack will be better,” agreed Jerry.

Most of the new arrivals were in the wooden buildings, but in the hurry and confusion of the day before, some had to be assigned temporarily to tents. New barracks were in the course of construction, however, to accommodate the constantly growing number of volunteers. Later the great camps would be filled with the men of the draft.

When Ned had finished his hasty dressing, he strolled over to look at the posted notice in the tent, which gave a list of the day’s duties and the hours for drills. The bulletin was headed “Service Roll Calls.”

The first thing in the order of the day is reveille, but this is preceded by what is known as “First call.” This is sounded at 5:45 in the morning, rather an early hour, as almost any one but a milkman will concede. But one gets used to it, as Bob said later.

“First call” is a series of stirring notes on the[114] bugle which has for its purpose the awakening of the buglers themselves, to get them out of their snug beds to give the reveille proper. March and reveille come ten minutes later, the buglers marching up and down the streets in front of the tents and barracks, and “blowing their heads off,” to quote Jerry Hopkins. This is calculated to awaken each and every rookie, but if it fails the various squad leaders see to it that no one is missed.

“Assembly,” is the call which comes at six o’clock, and then woe betide the recruit who is not dressed and in line, standing at attention. As can be seen, there is but five minutes allowed for dressing; that is, if a man does not awaken until the reveille sounds. If he opens his eyes at first call, and gets up then, he has fifteen minutes to primp, though this is generally saved for dress parade. Roll call follows the assembly.

On this morning, when it had been ascertained that all were “present or accounted for,” Ned, Bob, and Jerry, with their new comrades, were dismissed to wash for breakfast. With soap and towels there was a general rush for the wash room, and then followed a healthful splashing.

“It isn’t like our bathroom at home,” said Bob, as he polished his face, “but I suppose the results are the same.”

“Sure,” agreed Ned. “They have showers[115] here, and that’s more than they have in some camps, yet, I hear.”

“We’ll need a shower after drill,” declared Jerry. “It’s going to be hot and dry to-day.”

Breakfast was the next call, only it was not called that. It was down on the schedule as “mess,” and so every meal was designated though, of course, in their own minds, each recruit thought of the first meal as breakfast, the second as dinner, and the third as supper. But to the army cook each meal was a “mess.”

But before breakfast the boys had to make up their beds. They had been given a lesson in that the previous day. Soon after their arrival the recruits were divided into squads, and under the guidance of a squad leader they were taken to a big pile of straw and told to fill the heavy, white cotton bags that were to serve in the place of mattresses. There was a hole in the middle of the bag, and through this the straw was poked, and the whole made as smooth as possible on the bunks.

After their first night, Ned, Bob, and Jerry were transferred to a wooden barracks. When they carried the straw mattresses to this building, they found that each squad room contained about fifty bunks arranged around the walls, with two rows down the middle. On each bunk, besides the mattress, or “bedsack,” as it is officially called,[116] were a pillow and three blankets. These must be neatly arranged after the night’s sleep. Beds in a military camp are not made up until just before they are used, but during the day the blankets must be neatly folded, laid on the bunks and the pillow placed on top of the blankets.

There were no clothes closets, and the only place Ned, Bob and Jerry had to put their things was on a shelf back of each lad’s bunk, and on some nails, driven into the wall near by. On these were all the possessions they were allowed, and, as can be imagined, they were not many—or would not be, once the boys were in uniform.

As yet, none of the new recruits wore a uniform. All were dressed just as they had come from their homes, and there was the usual variety seen at any baseball game.

“Mess call!” sang out Jerry, as he and his chums heard the notes of the bugles again. This time the call seemed to the boys to be more cheerful.

“I hope they have something good for breakfast,” murmured Bob, and this time his chums did not laugh at him. They were as hungry as he was.



“Um! Oh! Smell that!” cried Bob, as he hurried out in answer to the first mess call of the day. “Bacon, or I’m a sinner!”

Breakfast call was sounded at 6:15 and half an hour was allowed for it.

As soon as the mess call had sounded each man, acting under the directions of his squad leader, got his mess kit, consisting of plate, cup, knife, fork and spoon. Later the boys needed no instructions in producing these implements of “warfare.”

The signal being given, they marched to the kitchen where there was dished out to each one what was to be the first meal of the day. This proved to be steamed rice and milk, bacon, scrambled eggs, fried potatoes, buttered toast, bread and coffee.

With this as a starter the boys marched into the mess hall and sat down at long tables to eat.

“How goes it, Chunky?” asked Ned, as he noticed his stout chum beginning to eat.


“Tell you better when I’ve had my second or third helping,” was the somewhat mumbled reply.

“Talk it out, Chunky,” advised Jerry. “Don’t scramble your reply; leave that to the eggs you’re sailing into.”

“Huh, I’ll sail clear through these, and then some.”

“Can you have as much as you like?” asked a rather timid lad next to Ned.

“All you want, son, and more,” answered the squad leader, who was walking about, and who had overheard the question.

As each one finished he took his mess kit down to the end of the hall, where there was a kettle of scalding water, and washed his cutlery and dishes. There are no official dishwashers in the army, save those who serve in the officer’s mess.

“Well, do you feel better?” asked Ned, as he and Jerry filed out with Bob.

“Lots,” was the answer. “What call’s that?” he inquired, as another bugle note blared out.

“Sick call and fatigue,” answered Jerry, who was learning the army orders and regulations.

This call came at 6:45 and gave opportunity for such as were physically disabled in any way to escape drill for the day. If a man is not feeling physically fit in the morning he so reports to his first sergeant, who places the name on a list. Then, when the proper call comes, and all who are[119] in need of medical attention are collected, an officer marches them to an infirmary.

Of course, this applies only to those slightly “under the weather.” In case of a very ill recruit the doctor goes to him, instead of having him go to the medical man. If a man is taken ill, or feels the need of medical attention at any time other than the official sick call, an officer is detailed to take him to the doctor, or the doctor comes to him, at any hour it may be necessary.

Fortunately there were very few who responded to sick call the first morning in Camp Dixton. When it was over, at 6:50 o’clock, came the first call for the day’s drill. Five minutes later came the assembly, which meant that every man, not excused, must be in line. Then the drill began. It was to last an hour.

There were six drills during the day (or were at Camp Dixton), besides guard-mount in the late afternoon. Between the drills came dinner, of course. But the new soldiers were impressed with the drills. There were so many of them, and when there was no drill there was a school of instruction.

Drills, or the assembly calls for them, came at the following hours: 8:15, 9:30, 10:45, 1:00, and 2:15. At 3:30 came a school of instruction, which lasted an hour. There was guard-mount, too, which is another sort of drill, at 5:00. This[120] lasted half an hour, and mess call for supper sounded shortly after 5:30, followed by retreat, meaning that the main part of the day was over.

From supper time till the call to quarters, which sounded at 9 P.M., the recruit was allowed to do about as he pleased, though sometimes there was instruction in the evening. The call to quarters was the signal for all lights to be out in the squad room, though it was not necessary for all the soldiers to be there at that hour. They were, however, expected to be there at ten o’clock when taps were sounded, this being a bugle call for all lights to be out, and every one in bed, except the officers and sentries.

“Well, I don’t see where we’re going to have an awful lot of time to scrabble around and have fun,” said Bob, in a half-growling tone, as he looked over the printed list of the camp schedule. “We have from four-thirty to five-forty-five with nothing to do, if we’re not in the guard-mount stunt, and then we have time after supper. But that isn’t much.”

“Say, what do you think you’re on—a vacation?” asked Jerry.

“Well, no, not exactly,” answered Bob slowly.

“Not exactly! I should say not! Most emphatically—not! You’re here, and so we all are, to do our duty and beat the Germans, and if it takes all day I’m willing!” went on Jerry.


As has been mentioned there are many kinds of drills in the army, but the new recruits, such as Ned, Bob, and Jerry, found, according to their squad leader, that the physical drill was the most important one for them at first. Later on would come rifle drill, drill in the trenches, bayonet practice, machine gun drill, rushes with hand grenades and so on. There seemed to the boys to be no end to it.

The boys of course, began at the very bottom to learn about army work, and one of the first things they were told was in regard to different formations, or units. The squad is the smallest unit of the infantry, to which branch of the service the three chums were attached. A squad consists of eight men, seven privates and a leader, who is, generally, a corporal. This squad is the foundation of the army, and the members of it generally stay together, sleeping, eating and fighting in unison with other squads.

After the squad comes the platoon, which is made up of from two to six squads, and the men are in charge of a lieutenant with a couple of non-commissioned officers to help him. Four platoons make a company, and this is in charge of a captain, with two lieutenants to aid him.

The battalion of four companies comes next and a major commands a battalion, while three battalions usually make up a regiment, which is[122] commanded by a colonel, with a number of staff officers to advise and aid him. It takes two regiments of infantry to make a brigade, which is in charge of a brigadier general. Next comes a division, which is the largest group in the army, and is made up in various ways, from infantry and artillery and machine gun battalions.

“I wonder what’s up?” said Ned, as he walked with his chums to the designated place. None of them was in uniform, as yet. That would come later.

“What do you mean—up?” asked Jerry.

“I mean it looks as though we were going to listen to a speech,” went on Ned.

And this was just what was going to happen. The captain of the company to which they were temporarily assigned, had gathered the recruits about him.

“I want to tell you a few things before we begin the physical drill,” he said, “so you will appreciate the importance of it. If I did not, you might think that some of it was of little use. But I want to say that it all has a value that has been tried and proved.

“You know the army that is to help whip Germany is just like a big machine. You are all parts in that machine, and every part, no matter how small, must work in perfect unison with every other part, or there will be failure. To begin[123] with, you must be physically fit to stand much hard work, and this drill is to get you in good condition.

“Some of the motions you are made to go through may seem foolish to you, but they are all for some good purpose. You have muscles which, ordinarily, you seldom use. It is to bring out these muscles, and make them fit for service, that certain motions and practice are necessary. You’ll be surprised on finding what a little exercise will do for certain weak and flabby muscles that you have. They will be waked up and made to do their duty.”

And the boys found, before the day was over, that their captain spoke the truth, and with a knowledge that could not be questioned.

“Oh, look who’s here,” said Bob to Ned in a low voice, as they had a little respite from twisting and turning and stooping and rising.

“Who?” asked Ned.

“That Pug Kennedy we had the row with in the train. They’re going to put him in our squad, I’m afraid.”

“That’s bad,” said Jerry. “But still it won’t do to kick. This is only temporary, and he may be changed, or we may. Don’t give up the ship now.”

Pug Kennedy was, indeed, put in the squad with[124] the three Cresville friends, and his unpleasant face grinned at them as the drill went on.

Pug Kennedy lived up to his reputation. He was a “scrapper,” and he did little but growl at every new order. He did not see any reason for this, nor sense in that, and only the fact that he did his growling in a low voice saved him from being disciplined. The officers did not hear him.

It was three or four days after the arrival of Ned, Bob, and Jerry at Camp Dixton that Bob came hurrying up to his chums with a pleased look on his face.

“What is it, Chunky?” asked Ned. “Have you managed to squeeze another mess call into the day’s program?”

“No. But we’re going to get into uniforms to-day. I just heard our captain say so,” answered the stout lad. “Now we’ll look like real soldiers!”

Bob was right. A few minutes later came the call for the recruits to line up and proceed to the quartermaster’s department to be measured for uniforms.

“Now this is something like!” exclaimed Bob.



“What’ll we do with our old suits?” asked Ned, as, with his chums, he walked toward the clothing department, a store in itself.

“They go into the discard,” answered Bob, who, it seems, had been making inquiries. “I suppose we can send ’em home and have ’em kept for us until after the war.”

“That’s what I’m going to do,” declared Ned. “This is a good suit, though it looks a bit mussy now. I’m not going to throw it away.”

“You might as well,” put in Jerry.

“Why so? This war may not last as long as we think,” Ned made comment. “And suits, and everything else, will be a lot higher after it’s over. Might as well save what I can. Don’t see why it won’t do me any good.”

“Because it won’t fit you,” Jerry returned. “Don’t you know what our captain told us? He said the new uniforms we get will hang on some of us like bags for a while, but when we fill out our muscles by the exercise and drill, we’ll fill out the uniforms, too.


“Now your tailor, Ned, and I will say he is a good one, made your civilian suit to fit you. In other words he favored you. He padded the hollow places and so on. But in a couple of months you’ll fill out so that the suit you’re wearing now will look like a set of hand-me-downs from the Bowery in New York.”

“Well, I’ll send it home, anyhow,” decided Ned.

“Yes, it may come in handy for your mother’s charity work,” agreed Jerry.

Before going to the tailor shop, Ned, Bob, and Jerry, with others of the recruits, were measured. These measurements were standardized, so that when each young man went in to get his uniform, the officer in charge merely called off a certain number to designate coat, trousers, hat and so on.

The first outfit issued to the boys consisted of one coat, a pair of trousers, a hat, with cord, three pairs of drawers, two pairs of laces, a pair of leggings, a set of ornaments, an overcoat, two flannel shirts, two pairs of shoes, six pairs of socks, a belt, a pair of gloves and three undershirts. The value of each article was set down and varied from a hat cord, marked as worth six and a half cents, to an overcoat, which cost the government $14.50, making a total of about $45 for each young soldier. For this, of course, Ned, Bob, and Jerry paid nothing. A private gets his uniform[127] and food for nothing, but an officer has to buy his.

“Return to barracks and get into your uniforms for inspection,” was the order the boys received, and they were glad to do it. There were some, like Ned, who sent their civilian clothes home to be used as parents saw fit, and there was a general opinion, coinciding with Jerry’s, that they would be of little use to the owners themselves after their army service, for the young men would, indeed, be of different physical appearance and size.

“Well, how do I look?” asked Ned, as he and his two chums finished dressing in the barracks.

“It fits you sort of quick,” answered Jerry.

The new uniform was, in truth, a trifle loose.

“Yours fits the same way,” laughed Ned. “I guess I’ll do a double stunt of exercise to fill out quicker.”

“Bob looks good in his,” commented the tall motor boy. “It’s because he’s so fat. When he loses some of his flesh he’ll look as though he was wearing a meal sack.”

“Watch your own step,” said Bob, with a laugh. “I’m satisfied.”

There were jokes and jests among the recruits about the appearance of one another, and when Pug Kennedy walked out on the way to drill, to[128] which the squad was summoned, Jerry called to him:

“You’ve got your hat cord on backwards, old man.”

It was not that Jerry felt any particular liking for Michael Kennedy, to give him his real name, but the tall lad did not want any member of his squad to look unmilitary, nor did he want a reprimand to be directed toward Pug, as it might reflect on his companions. But Pug Kennedy was still in an ungracious mood, it seemed, for he answered Jerry’s well-meant remark with:

“Mind your own business! It’s my hat cord.”

“True enough,” agreed Jerry, good-naturedly; “but it may not be long, if you wear it that way.”

“Um!” grunted Pug, as he went out. But Ned took notice that, as soon as he was out of sight around the corner of the barracks, the bully put the cord on differently. It was a light blue cord, and indicated to those who knew the regulations, that the man under the hat belonged to the infantry, or foot-soldier, branch of the army.

The cavalry wear yellow cords on their hats; and the artillery, red. The engineers have a red and white mixed cord; the signal corps, orange and white; the medical corps, maroon; and the quartermaster corps, buff.

In addition there are certain ornaments on the collars of the coats to distinguish the different[129] branches of the service. The infantry wear crossed rifles, the cavalry crossed sabers, the field artillery crossed cannon, the engineers a castle, like the castle in a set of chessmen, the signal corps crossed flags with a torch between, the quartermaster corps wheel with a pen and sword crossed and an eagle surmounting, while the members of the medical corps wear something that looks like an upright bar with wings at the top and two snakes twining around it. This is a caduceus, and is a form of the staff usually associated with the god Mercury. The word comes from the Doric and means to proclaim, literally a herald.

“He took your advice, Jerry,” announced Ned, when he saw what Pug Kennedy had done.

“Glad he did. He might have been a little more polite about it, though. I wish he was in some other squad, but I suppose there’s no use trying to graft him somewhere else. We’ll just have to make the best of him.”

“Or the worst,” added Bob.

In their new uniforms the recruits went through the drill, and it could not be denied that now there was a little more snap to it. It was more inspiring to see men all dressed alike doing something in unison than to watch the same company going through motions, one in a brown suit, another in a green and a third in a blue.


The drill was hard, and it never seemed to end. When one stopped, there was only a brief rest period, and then came another. But it was necessary, and the boys were beginning to feel that.

“I wonder what the folks at home would think if they could see us now?” asked Ned, as their respite came.

“Well, I guess they wouldn’t be ashamed of us,” replied Jerry.

“I should say not!” declared Bob, smoothing out some imaginary wrinkles. “I think we look all to the mustard!”

“Or cheese!” chuckled Ned. “Come on—there goes mess call,” he added, for it was noon, and time for dinner.

As it was Friday there was chowder as the main dish. There were fried fish, candied sweet potatoes, green peas, fruit pudding, mustard pickles, bread and coffee. It was a plentiful meal, and several made a trip to the kitchen for a second helping.

Bob was one of these, and it was when he was walking back to his place at the long table that something happened which nearly caused considerable trouble.

Bob was carrying his filled plate in one hand, and his cup of coffee in the other, when, as he passed the bench where Pug Kennedy was sitting, some one bumped into the stout lad, jostling his[131] arm, and the coffee—or part of it—went down Pug’s back.

Up the bully sprang with a howl, though the coffee was not hot enough to burn him.

“Who did that?” he demanded, wrathfully.

There was no need to answer. The attitude of Bob, standing directly back of Pug, with the half-emptied cup in his hand and the queer look on his face, told more plainly than words that he was the guilty one.

“Oh, so it’s you again, is it, you sneak!” and Pug fairly snarled the words.

“What do you mean?” demanded Bob, justly angry.

“I mean that you’re trying to make trouble for me again—like the time when you accused me of stealing your crullers. You’re trying to spoil my uniform so I’ll get a call-down. I’ll fix you for this!”

“It was an accident,” insisted Bob. “Some one ran against me, and——”

“Accident my eye!” sneered Pug. “I’ll accident you! I’ll punch you good and proper, that’s what I’ll do!” he yelled, and he leaped back over the bench-seat and advanced toward Bob who stepped back.

A fight was imminent.



“Put down your things and put up your hands!” Pug Kennedy fairly issued the order to Bob as an officer might have done.

“Why should I?” asked the stout youth. “I haven’t finished my dinner.”

“Well, you’re not going to until I finish you. Come on! Put up your hands! I’m a scrapper, but I won’t hit any one with his hands full. Put ’em up, I say, or I’ll smash you in a minute!”

“Don’t you hit him!” called Ned, hastily arising from the opposite side of the table.

“Mind your own business!” ordered Pug.

“Take some one your size!” came a voice from the end of the hall.

“I’ll take you if you want me to!” snapped Pug.

He took a step nearer Bob, and the latter, in very self-defense, was about to set down his plate and cup, when Captain Trainer, who had a habit of unexpectedly dropping into the mess hall, entered the big room. He took in, at a glance, what was about to happen.


“Stop!” he cried in commanding tones. “What does this mean?”

“He spilled a lot of hot coffee down my back!” growled Pug, but he had lost some of his belligerency since the advent of his captain.

“I didn’t mean to,” explained Bob. “It was an accident, some one jostled me.”

“Very well,” said Captain Trainer. “That is equivalent to an apology, Kennedy, and I direct you to accept it as such.”

“I’m sure I’m sorry,” said Bob. “I really didn’t mean to.”

“All right,” half growled Pug. “If you do it again, though, I’ll punch you worse than I did before!” and he glared at Bob.

The captain, seeing that he had averted hostilities for the time being, thought it best to withdraw. Enlisted men, especially at meals, like to be free from restraint, and an officer, no matter how much he is liked by his command, is a sort of damper at times.

Pug squirmed and twisted, trying to wipe some of the coffee stains from the back of his coat and Bob went on to his place to finish his meal.

“There’ll be trouble with that fellow before we are through with him,” said Jerry to his chums in a low voice, as they went out of the mess hall, for a little rest before drill was resumed.

“He’s made trouble enough already,” said Bob.[134] “Though of course it is rather raw to have coffee spilled down your back. But I couldn’t help it.”

“Of course not,” agreed Jerry. “But what I meant was that we’ll have personal trouble with him. He seems always spoiling for a fight, and more so when we are concerned than any one else. Maybe he doesn’t like being in the same squad with us.”

“He can’t dislike it any more than we do,” suggested Ned. “Just wait until I get made a corporal and have charge! Then I’ll make him step around.”

“Oh, are you going to get promoted to a corporal?” asked Jerry. “I didn’t know that was on the bill,” and he winked at Bob.

“Sure I’m going to be promoted,” went on Ned. “Aren’t you working for that?”

And Jerry and Bob had to admit that they were, though it was rather early in the game to expect anything.

The first step upward from private, the lowest army rank, is to be made a corporal, and, after that one becomes a sergeant. A corporal wears two V-shaped stripes, on his sleeves. The V in each case is inverted. A sergeant has three such stripes. There are various sorts of sergeants—duty or line sergeants, staff and major sergeants, mess sergeants, supply sergeants and so on. The[135] first sergeant is often called “Top,” and sometimes considers himself almost a commissioned officer.

Sergeants and corporals are non-commissioned officers, and there is a great difference in rank between a commissioned and a non-commissioned man.

A commissioned officer can resign, and quit when he wants to, but an enlisted man, or a non-commissioned officer can not. Commissioned officers are appointed by the President, and the commission carries a certain rank, beginning with second lieutenant. Each step upward means a new commission. The sergeants and corporals are appointed, nominally, by the colonel of their regiment, by warrant.

“Well, then Pug had better look out for himself, if you’re going to have it in for him when you’re made corporal,” went on Jerry. “But say, it must be fun to be an officer—even a non-commissioned one.”

“It is,” agreed Ned. “You get out of a lot of work that isn’t any fun, such as being the kitchen police, doing fatigue work like cleaning up the barracks and grounds, digging drains and the like, and when you’re on guard you don’t have to keep on the go—all you have to do is to keep watch over the other sentries.”

“Fine and dandy!” exclaimed Bob.

“Me for it!” added Jerry.


“But that isn’t getting us anywhere just now,” said Ned. “I’m detailed for kitchen police this very day.”

“So’m I,” admitted Bob, and, as it happened, Jerry was, too.

When one is detailed to the kitchen police it does not mean that the young soldier has to arrest those who eat too much, or too little.

In an army camp the cooking is done, in most instances, by soldiers detailed for it, though in some cases professional cooks may be used, such having enlisted or been drafted. Each day certain members of the company are named to help the cooks, of which there are usually three. The helpers are known as the “kitchen police,” and they do all sorts of work, peeling potatoes, washing the pots and pans, scrubbing the floors, waiting on table, bringing in coal and wood.

This kitchen policing goes by turn, so no one man gets too much of it, or has to do it too steadily. It was the first time Ned, Bob and Jerry had been assigned to this duty, and they went at it without grumbling, which is what every good soldier does. Their many camping experiences stood them in good stead in this, and the efficient manner in which they went about their tasks in cleaning up the pots and pans drew a compliment from the professional cook.

“We’ll know our soup comes out of a clean pot[137] the next time we eat,” said Bob, as he gave the copper a final polish.

“And by the looks of things we’re going to have a good feed to-morrow,” added Ned.

“We always do on Sunday,” said Jerry.

On Sundays in camp, reveille, mess and sick calls are one hour later than on week days, giving more opportunity for slumber, and on Saturdays the first call for drill is not until 7:35 instead of 6:50, which is also a little relief.

“Yes, there’ll be a good dinner to-morrow,” resumed Bob, as he passed the ice chest, having occasion to open it. “Plenty of chicken and the fixings.”

The Sunday dinner in camp, in fact, is usually the long-looked-for meal of the week, and the supper, likewise, is more elaborate than usual. The feeding of the boys of the army is a science, and it is worked out to what might be called mathematical exactness.

For instance, at Camp Dixton each enlisted man received, or was each day credited with, what is called the “garrison ration.” This consisted of a certain amount of fresh beef, flour, baking powder, bran, potatoes, prunes, coffee, sugar, evaporated milk, condiments, butter, lard, syrup and flavoring extract.

Of course each man did not actually receive these things, for, if he had, he would have had[138] trouble in getting them cooked, or in shape to eat. But that was his allowance and he was entitled to it or its equivalent, each article mentioned being issued in certain specific measure or weight.

The soldiers were allowed to trade what they did not want for things they did. They could swap beef for mutton, bacon for hash and so on. They could have rice for beans, or dried apples for prunes, there being substitutes for almost every ration issued.

“And a nice thing about it, too,” said Jerry, when he and his chums were discussing it, “is that you don’t have to eat it all.”

“Don’t tell Bob that, it’ll scare him,” suggested Ned.

“Well, I mean you can save some,” Jerry explained, “and turn it into cash.”

“Do we spend the cash?” asked Bob.

“It isn’t usual. It’s turned back into the company fund, and used to buy extras for special dinners—ice cream and the like.”

While the ration spoken of is supposed to be issued to each soldier, in reality it is not. He has to take the meal the cook prepares each day, and this is supervised by the mess sergeant. This official is given the task of looking after the kitchen. He is supposed to save a little here and there, where he can, and convert mutton into ham and eggs on occasions, and save enough on the prunes[139] to have them turn into lemon pie once in a while.

All this Ned, Bob, and Jerry learned as they went along. They finished their kitchen police work, and were relieved from duty, taking the occasion to go to the Y. M. C. A. headquarters to write some letters.

“I wonder how things are in Cresville,” observed Bob, as he carefully sealed one envelope, and took care that his chums did not see the address.

“I had a paper from there the other day,” said Jerry. “The old town seemed to be getting along in spite of our absence.”

“No more fires?” asked Ned.

“No; didn’t read of any.”

“Crooked Nose wasn’t arrested for stealing the old Frenchman’s money, or my father’s watch, or Mrs. Hopkins’ brooch, was he?” inquired Bob.

“No. But the article said that the old man insisted that he did lose a big sum on the occasion of the blaze. He tells the same story he told us, but I guess few believe he had much money.”

“All the same it was a mean trick, if some one robbed the old man, and I’d like to catch Crooked Nose, if there is such a person,” declared Ned with energy.

“I’m with you!” added Bob. “Say,” he went on, “have any of you written to Professor Snodgrass?”


“No, and we ought to,” said Jerry. “We ought to invite him down to camp. I heard he was given a leave of absence, and there are some queer bugs down here in camp that he might like to look over.”

“I’ll drop him a line,” promised Jerry.

That night the three motor boys went on guard together for a two-hour period just before midnight. Their posts adjoined, and as they marched back and forth they could speak now and again.

It was shortly before twelve o’clock, when the camp was wrapped in darkness and very still, that, as Jerry passed a certain spot where there was a small hollow among some trees, he saw, dimly outlined against the sky, a figure crawling along in a stooping position.

Jerry was about to challenge, for those were his orders, when he saw a second figure crawl along, from the direction of a public road outside the camp, and join the first.

“That’s queer,” mused Jerry, as he observed the midnight meeting. “I’ll have to look into this.”



Jerry Hopkins was of two minds. He knew his orders as sentry required him to challenge any one trying to pass in or out of camp after hours without a pass. And it did not seem likely that these persons, whoever they were, would act so suspiciously if they had passes. In fact, one came from the direction of the barracks, and the other from the town, which lay about three miles from camp.

On the other hand, Jerry knew that often some of the boys stayed in town beyond the legal hour, and tried to run past the guard without getting caught, for in the latter event it meant punishment for being out after taps.

The soldier boys were but human, and, naturally, they did not want to see their fellow soldiers get into trouble. So it was sometimes the custom not to look too closely when some of the late-stayers tried to run guard.

“If that’s all it is, I guess I can find something to do at the other end of my post,” thought Jerry,[142] for he felt that, some day, he might want a similar favor.

But as he was debating with himself he heard Ned approaching, and he waited.

“Everything all right?” asked Ned in a low voice.

“Well, not exactly,” was the answer. “Did you see anything suspicious?”

“Suspicious? No.”

“Take a look down in that hollow,” suggested Jerry. As he pointed to indicate the place to Ned, they both saw two figures in a crouching attitude on the ground. They were two men, one in the unmistakable uniform of a soldier, and the other a civilian. And they appeared to be in close conversation.

“What’s that?” asked Ned in a low voice.

“That’s what we’ve got to find out,” returned Jerry. “I was just wondering whether to challenge or not.”

“Maybe we can find out who they are first,” suggested Ned. “If it’s just a couple of boys out late.”

“That’s what I was going to do,” said Jerry.

“But one seems to be a civilian, and he hasn’t any right around camp at this hour.”

“I’m going over and take a look.” Jerry spoke now with decision.


“I’ll go with you,” offered Ned. “It’s about midway of both our posts.”

Jerry and Ned wanted to do their duty, as they had been instructed by their officers, but, at the same time, if by a little avoidance of a strict rendering of the rules they could help out an indiscreet fellow soldier, they were tempted to do that. It all depended on what was taking place over there in the dark hollow.

Of course there had been talk of enemy spies and of German activities, and a great deal of it had a basis in fact, or easily could have. And it was true that a German spy could do a great deal of damage around Camp Dixton if he tried. There were great store-houses that could be set on fire, there were barracks and stables that could be burned, and more than one fire that did occur during the early days may be set down as having been the work of an enemy alien. If such were the men meeting at midnight in the hollow, just off the posts of Jerry and Ned, they wanted to know it. Even if one did wear Uncle Sam’s uniform, that was no reason for believing him true. There are traitors in all walks of life.

“What do you make ’em out to be?” asked Ned in a whisper of his tall chum.

“I’m not sure. One seems to be a soldier, but the other isn’t. And the soldier, if he is that, came from the direction of our place.”


“Going to yell for the corporal of the guard?”

“Not yet a while. Let’s see who they are.”

The thick grass muffling their footsteps, Ned and Jerry drew near to the place where they had last seen the figures. They were not in sight now, being crouched down in the dark shadows. But as the boys paused to listen, they heard the murmur of voices, and some one said:

“It’s a little soon to start anything yet. Wait about a week and the place will be full. Then the damage will be all the greater.”

“All right; just as you say,” came the response. “Only my friends are getting impatient to have me do something.”

“Oh, you’ll do it all right!” said the first speaker. “And now you’d better hop along. The sentries may be over this way any minute. I’ve got to sneak back. See you again in the usual way.”

Then came a silence, and Ned and Jerry looked at one another in the darkness. They could just make out each other’s outlines.

“Did you hear that?” whispered Ned.

“Sure I did. It was——”

“Pug Kennedy!” filled in Ned.

“And if the other didn’t speak with a German accent I’ll never draw another ration.”

“Just what I think. But what does it mean? Why should Pug Kennedy be out after hours, running[145] the guard and meeting with men who may be enemy aliens?”

“Can’t answer,” replied Jerry. “But it’s up to us to find out. But let’s go easy. We don’t want to make fools of ourselves, and start a false alarm. Wait until we see what happens.”

They did not have long to wait. A few seconds later they heard a shuffle in the grass, and a dim figure came toward them. It was that of a soldier, as Ned and Jerry could see. Of the second person there was not a sign. But he might still be in the dark hollow, or he may have crawled off. At any rate it was Jerry’s duty to challenge, and he did it.

“Halt!” he cried, bringing his rifle to “port,” as the regulations called for. “Who goes there?”

“Friend,” was the answer, though the tone of the reply was anything but friendly. “That you, Hopkins?” came the inquiry.

“Yes. Who are you?” Jerry asked, though he knew full well.

“I’m Kennedy. I’ve been out on a bit of a lark. Can’t you look the other way a second until I slip past?”

It was not an unusual request, and it was one that was often complied with. Yet Jerry hesitated a moment. Kennedy might be telling the truth, and the midnight meeting might be innocent enough. But it looked suspicious. And[146] Jerry had reason to think that the fighter had come from the barracks only recently—not that he was just returning to them.

“Go on. Look the other way and I’ll slip past—that’s a sport!” begged Pug Kennedy, and his voice was more friendly now. “I’ll do as much for you some day.”

It was an appeal hard to resist, and Jerry was on the point of complying, while Ned was willing to agree to it, when some one was heard walking along from a point in back of the three young men.

“It’s the corporal!” hissed Kennedy. “Keep your mouths shut and I’ll do the rest.”

He suddenly seemed to melt away in the darkness, but he probably dropped down in the long grass. The approaching footsteps came nearer and a voice called:

“Hopkins! Slade! Are you there?”

“Here, sir,” was the answer, and Jerry and Ned saw the corporal of the guard standing near them.

“Anything the matter?” he asked.

“Well, I thought I saw some one over here,” answered Jerry, “and I came to look. But I don’t see anything now.”

There was a very good reason for this. Jerry had his eyes tightly shut!

“False alarm, was it?” asked the corporal with a laugh. “Well, that often happens. But it’s[147] best to be on the alert. There are some of the boys out, and we want to catch them as examples. If you see anything more give a call.”

“Yes, sir.”

Jerry and Ned turned away to go back on post when something happened. It was a yell of pain, and came from a point not far from where the corporal had been talking to the two sentries.

“What’s that?” exclaimed Ned.

“Some one hurt,” answered Jerry. “I wonder——”

He did not have time to complete his surmise, for the corporal called:

“Guard! Over this way! I’ve caught him!”

There was a sound of a struggle, and then a light flashed. Ned and Jerry, hurrying over, saw the corporal holding Pug Kennedy, and flashing a pocket electric light into the bully’s face.


“You were right—there was some one here,” said the corporal. “I stepped on his hand in the dark and he yelled. Otherwise I might not have seen him. Sorry, Kennedy, but it’s your own fault,” went on the non-commissioned officer. “Take him to the guardhouse,” he ordered Ned and Jerry, and there was no choice for them but to obey.

“I’ll get even with you for this!” growled Pug Kennedy, as he marched along. “I’ll fix you!”


“We didn’t do anything,” said Jerry in a low voice. “We were going to keep still.”

“Yes you were! You gave me away—that’s what you did. You called the corporal and peached on me! I’ll fix you for this!”

It was useless to protest, and Jerry and Ned did not. Kennedy, muttering and growling, was turned over to the keeper of the guardhouse, and locked up for the rest of the night. He would be given a hearing in the morning.

“How much shall we tell?” asked Ned of Jerry, when they were relieved, and, with Bob, went to turn in.

“Better not say anything until we’re asked,” was Jerry’s opinion. “Let the corporal do the talking. After all he found him, we didn’t.”

“But about the meeting in the dark, and the talk we heard?”

“Well, if I was sure what it meant I’d speak of it. But we may only get laughed at for imagining things if we speak of it. And we haven’t much to go on. Let the corporal do the talking.”

This they did, with the result that Pug Kennedy was punished for being out after taps and trying to run the guard, no very serious offense, but one which carried with it an extra round of police work—cleaning up around camp—and Pug was more or less the laughing butt of his comrades.

“It’s all your fault!” he declared to Ned and[149] Jerry. “You wait! I’ll get square with you!”

But as several days passed, and the “scrapper,” as he was called, made no effort to carry out his threat, Ned and Jerry rather forgot about it. As for the midnight meeting, it seemed to have been nothing more than an attempt on the part of Pug Kennedy to be friendly with some civilian he had met in town.

“Though what they were talking about I can’t guess,” said Jerry.

“Same here,” agreed Ned.

The days in camp were spent in drill. It was drill, drill, drill from morning until night.

Most of the drills were for the purpose of getting the new soldiers in good physical shape, fit to stand the hard work that would come later. To the three motor boys it was much the same sort of thing they had gone through when training for football. There were the preliminary steps, the slow movements, followed by speeding-up practice and then hard driving.

In the course of a few weeks they learned how to march in unison, how to go through certain parts of the rifle drill without making it look too ragged, and finally, one day, orders were issued for bayonet drill.

“This is beginning to look like real war, now,” said Ned in delight, as he and his chums got their guns and bayonets ready for the work.


“What is it to be, trench or with the bags?” asked Bob.

“Bags,” answered Jerry, who had been reading the orders. “The trench work comes later.”

There are several kinds of bayonet drill and exercise, and among them are trench and bag work. In the former, which is only used after the youths have become somewhat familiar with the weapon, there are two lines of soldiers. One is down in a trench, and they are “attacked” by another line standing above them, the theory being that the party outside the trench is the attacking one.

Bag bayonet work is something on the same scale as tackling the dummy in football practice. On a wooden framework a number of canvas bags, filled with sawdust, shavings, hay or other soft material, are suspended. On each bag, which swings freely by two ropes, are painted two white dots. These, in a measure, correspond to the scarlet heart on the buffer of a fencer.

Standing in a row before the swinging bags, with leveled bayonets, the young soldiers endeavor to stab through the object as near the white spots as possible. This is to train their eyes.

Ned, Bob, and Jerry, with their comrades, were marched to the practice ground, and then, after some preliminary instruction and illustrative work by men proficient in the drill, the lads were allowed to do it themselves.


“It looks easy, but it’s hard,” declared Bob, when he had made several wild lunges, to the no small danger of the man next him.

“Take it easy, Chunky,” advised Jerry. “You’ve got more than a week to stay here. Go slow.”

Pug Kennedy, who was stationed next to Ned, had done better than any of the others. Perhaps his proficiency with his fists stood him in good stead. However that may have been, he won commendation from the officer in charge.

“Now for a general attack!” came the orders, after a while. “I want to see how you’d act if you were told to go over the top and smash a crowd of Germans! Lively now!”

The boys went at it with a will, one or two fairly ripping the bags from their fastenings.

Suddenly there was a cry of pain, and Jerry saw Ned stagger in the line, and drop his rifle. Then Ned fell, and on the back of his olive shirt there appeared a crimson stain. Ned had been stabbed by a bayonet.



Momentary confusion followed Ned’s cry and his fall, and those nearest him, when they saw the blood, felt a good deal of alarm. But efficient officers were in charge of the drilling squads, and a few sharp orders sufficed to bring the men back in line, while an examination was made of the injured lad.

He was bleeding freely, but when his shirt was taken off it was seen that a bayonet had struck him a glancing blow, cutting a long, but not deep, gash in the fleshy part of his back.

“How did this happen? Did any one see it?” asked the officer in charge of the instruction.

“It was——” began a lad who had been standing next to Ned.

“I did it!” growled out the unpleasant voice of Pug Kennedy. “But I didn’t mean to.”

“I should hope not,” commented the officer, rather sharply. “But how did it happen?”

“He leaned over and got right in my way just as I was making a lunge,” explained the fighter.[153] “I tried to hold back my gun but it was too late.”

The officer looked sharply at Kennedy, but there seemed to be no good reason why his word should be doubted.

“Very well,” said Captain Reel, who was giving the bayonet instruction. “Only be more careful after this. Save such strokes for the Germans. We can’t afford to lose any of our soldiers. This will be all for to-day.”

Ned had been carried to the infirmary, and thither, having received permission to do so, went Bob and Jerry. They were met by an orderly who, on hearing their inquiries, told them that Ned’s wound was not at all serious, and that he would be kept in his bed only long enough to make sure there would be no infection from the steel and to enable the wound to heal slightly.

Later in the day they were allowed to see their chum. Ned was on a cot in the infirmary, and he smiled at Jerry and Bob.

“Oh, I’m not out of the game for long,” he said, in answer to their inquiries. “I’ll be a bit stiff for a day or so, the doc says, but it’ll soon wear off.”

“How did it happen?” asked Jerry. “Did you really get in his way as he says you did?”

“I didn’t know it if I did,” answered Ned. “I was just making a lunge myself, and I’d been doing it right along, so I knew my distance.”


“He did it on purpose,” insisted Bob. “I was talking to the fellow who was on the other side of Pug Kennedy, and he says there was plenty of room. He did it on purpose to get even with you, Ned, for the way he was caught the other night, when he tried to run the guard.”

“Oh, I wouldn’t go so far as to say that,” objected Jerry. “Pug Kennedy is a scrapper, and he doesn’t like us. But I don’t believe he’d deliberately try to bayonet a chap.”

“Well, I don’t know what to believe,” returned Ned. “I thought I had plenty of room on each side of me, but my foot may have slipped. Or maybe Pug’s may have done the same thing.”

“He made it slip!” declared Bob. “He wanted to get square with you and he took that way.”

“If he did it’s a pretty serious way,” said Jerry, “and he ought to be dismissed from the service. But it’s going to be as hard to prove that as it would be to prove that he had some plot on foot when he met that man at midnight. I don’t believe we can do anything unless we get better proof.”

“Oh, drop it all!” exclaimed Ned. “It’s only a scratch, anyhow, and it won’t kill me. There’s just as much chance that it was an accident as that he did it on purpose. I’m not going to make any accusation against him.”

“No, I don’t believe it would be wise,” agreed[155] Jerry. “But, at the same time, we’ll keep watch on him. He may try something like it again.”

Ned’s prediction as to the lightness of his injury proved correct. In two days he was out of the infirmary, and though he was not allowed to go in for violent drill for a week afterward, he said he felt capable of it.

Pug Kennedy made a sort of awkward apology for his share in the accident.

“I didn’t mean to do it,” he said to Ned. “But either you leaned over too far toward me, or else I slipped. You may think I did it on purpose, on account of you giving me away to the corporal that night, but I didn’t.”

“I had nothing to do with your getting caught when you went out from barracks that night,” said Ned. “It was your own fault. As for getting square—you’re welcome to try.”

“Who says I was going out of barracks?” asked Pug vindictively.

“Weren’t you?” Ned asked.

“No. Course not. I was coming in, and I sort of got lost in the dark. I didn’t know my way and I asked a fellow I met. He was one of the teamsters, I guess. I was talking to him, when I was caught—I mean you saw me and then the corporal came.”

“We didn’t send for him,” declared Jerry “He just happened to come at that moment.”


“Well, it looked as if you’d sent for him,” growled Pug. “I’d be glad to think you didn’t. And I’m sorry you’re hurt,” he added to Ned.

“Oh, I’m not hurt much,” was the easy answer. “Next time I’ll give you plenty of room when there’s bayonet drill.”

Whether Pug liked this or not, he did not say. But he went away muttering to himself.

Ned was soon back with his chums again, drilling away, and dreaming of the time when he and they could go to France to fight the Huns. But much preliminary work was necessary. It was, as has been said, drill, drill, drill from morning until night.

Meanwhile the boys were beginning to appreciate what the army life was doing for them. They were becoming better physically, every day; as hard as nails and as brown as berries.

They wrote enthusiastic letters home, and received letters in reply, giving the news of Cresville. Matters there were about the same. There had been no more “peace” meetings, though it was said that Mr. Schaeffer and his fellow pro-Germans were contemplating another big meeting as a protest against the draft, which had been put into operation.

The place where the fire had been was still a heap of ruins, Mrs. Hopkins wrote Jerry, and it had not been cleared because of a dispute over[157] the insurance money. Mr. Cardon, the Frenchman, had recovered from his experience, though he still talked about the loss of his money, which, he insisted, a man with a crooked nose had stolen.

“I think his story is true,” wrote Mrs. Hopkins. “But nobody has seen the man with the crooked nose, and there is positively no trace of Mr. Baker’s watch nor of my diamond brooch. Mr. Martley’s creditors have found his affairs in such a mess that there will be next to nothing coming to them—so if the watch and brooch are not recovered we will have to stand the loss ourselves.”

“Isn’t that the limit!” cried Jerry, as he read this portion of the letter to his chums.

“It sure is,” remarked Ned.

“I’ll bet my dad feels sore,” put in Bob.

Professor Snodgrass wrote to the boys, telling them he hoped soon to pay them a visit. He was finishing cataloging the bugs he had caught on his last trip to Cresville, he stated, and would soon be on the lookout for more.

It was two weeks after Ned’s injury by a bayonet in the hands of Pug Kennedy, and he was fully himself again, that, one afternoon as he and his chums were getting ready for hand grenade drill, a cry came from a section of the camp near[158] the artillery unit. There was a series of shouts following a salvo of heavy guns.

“There’s been an accident!” exclaimed Jerry, as he saw a number of officers and men running.

“Cannon exploded, maybe,” said Bob.

“It didn’t sound so,” remarked Ned. “The noise wasn’t any louder than usual. But it’s something,” he added. “There go the ambulances!”

As he spoke a number of the vehicles dashed across the parade ground toward the place that seemed to be the center of excitement.

“Come on!” cried Ned. “We’ve got to see what this is!”

The motor boys started to run, followed by several of their new chums, and on all sides there were questions.

“What is it? What happened?”

A sentry, who did not leave his post, gave the first information.

“A line of trenches caved in!” he said. “A lot of the men are buried alive!”



Had such an accident as had occurred at Camp Dixton taken place in the midst of a big city street, there would have been so much excitement and conflict that the result would have been magnified in seriousness.

As it was there was enough seriousness to it, but it was minimized by the fact that the accident happened in the midst of a military camp, and among men who are used to meeting resolutely every sort of accident and emergency.

Short and sharp were the orders issued. Those who could not be of help were halted before they reached the place, and were held in readiness for any work that would be needed.

The three friends, being among the first to reach the scene, were put in one of the rescue squads. It did not take long to understand what had happened. Trenches had been dug in many parts of the camp to give the men training under the conditions they would find in France and Flanders. But there had been some heavy rain, and[160] when a battery of heavy guns was fired too near a certain line of the trenches, the soft earth slid in on top of the men occupying the defenses. They were buried, a number of them being covered out of sight.

Fortunately there were plenty of entrenching tools on hand, and the first thing to do was to begin digging the men out. This was done under the direction of men of the engineer corps, who were experts in this work.

A hasty calling of the roll showed that twenty men had been caught in the cave-in, and within five minutes every one had been dug out. Several were unconscious, but there were pulmotors in the camp, and these were used until all but one of the victims was breathing naturally, if faintly. This one man died, and several had broken arms, legs and other injuries.

It was a serious and sad accident, and, for a time, cast a gloom over the camp. But it was one of those seemingly unavoidable things for which no one in particular was to blame. A court martial was held, and the officer in charge of the work exonerated.

Nor was the commander of the battery, the firing of the guns of which loosened the soft earth, held responsible. He had nothing to do with the trenches, and it was not his fault.

The accident had its effect, though, in causing[161] greater care to be taken in making trenches after that, and bag or basket work was used, to better bind the earth together. It was a soft and sandy soil, without much body to it, and it shifted more easily than would earth that had a clay mixture.

The accident was also used to good advantage in causing a deeper study of trench work, and the manner of making the trenches and laying them out. Many of the recruits had a deep-seated aversion to grubbing in the ground, digging trenches, but it was part of the drill work and had to be done. The lads likened it to sewer work, and no one liked it.

After the accident one of the French officers, who was an instructor in camp, gave a series of lectures on trench warfare, and at the conclusion there was not only a noticeable improvement in the trenching, but there was more enthusiasm about it.

“A trench may save our lives when we get to France,” was the way Jerry expressed it. “I’m going to learn all I can about them.”

“Same here!” echoed Ned.

What with athletic work, learning the different marching and fighting formations, doing the necessary police work, studying the mechanism of rifles and machine guns, learning how to signal, digging trenches, throwing hand grenades and dozens of other things, Ned, Bob and Jerry were kept busy[162] from morning until night. So with the other recruits.

Of course there was a certain time set aside for play and amusement, and each young soldier was told to play as hard as he worked. This was so he might come back to his tasks refreshed, and with the desire to give them the very best that was in him.

The motor boys soon realized that the making of a soldier was a task that was growing in complication. There were many new ways of fighting, and defending oneself, and all these had to be mastered.

The use of the aeroplane, camouflage, hand grenades, rifle grenades and many other new and terrible forms of fighting made new systems necessary. In gas attacks alone there was enough to study to keep them busy many days in the week, and this branch was regarded as so important that drill after drill was held merely in teaching the boys the best and most rapid manner of adjusting the masks.

All this time Ned, Bob and Jerry were progressing. They were becoming stronger physically, and better able to stand hardship and exposure. They could take long marches, carrying heavy packs, without getting over tired, and they knew how to bind up wounds, how to apply first-aid[163] dressings, and how to carry wounded comrades from the field.

Of course there was much that was unpleasant and hard. Many of their associates were different from those they had been used to, and they had to do what they were told—obey orders. No longer were they their own masters. They lived by rule and rote, and every minute of the day, save the recreation hours, had to be accounted for.

But they knew it was doing them good, and they knew it was in a good cause—the cause of humanity and world-betterment—and they did not complain, except perhaps in a good-natured way, and occasionally.

They had several more or less unpleasant encounters with Pug Kennedy and fellows of his ilk, but this was to be expected. Ned’s back completely healed and he was able to take his place in the hardest drills with his chums.

Somewhat to the surprise of the boys they found that rifle work was not rated as highly as they had expected it would be, for the reason, they were told, that it has been found that in the present war machine guns and artillery play such a big part.

Of course, for some time to come, the rifle will be the arm of the infantry soldier. But it is coming to be more and more an auxiliary, and not a direct means to an end. Hand grenades can do[164] much damage in the enemy trenches, and are easier to carry than a rifle and many rounds of ammunition.

But of course there was rifle practice, and many a day the motor boys and their chums spent on the ranges, perfecting their aim. Every encouragement was offered them to become expert marksmen, and the three friends were not far from the front when the markings were made.

The spring had given place to summer, and the camp was not any too cool. But there were shower baths, and the officers were not over severe in drills when the weather was too hot. There was plenty of chance to cool off between drills.

Occasionally the boys would have short leaves of absence, on which they made trips to town and took in a show or two, getting in on “smileage” books, or reduced rate tickets.

It was after a hard day in the trenches, practice at bayonet drill, and hand grenade throwing that Bob came into the Y. M. C. A. canteen where Jerry and Ned had preceded him and asked:

“Did you see the notice?”

“What notice?” inquired Jerry.

“Is Pug Kennedy going to be transferred?” Ned demanded.

“Nothing doing,” announced Bob, as he[165] slumped into a chair. He had lost considerable flesh and looked the better for it.

“Well, what is it?” some one asked. “Has Germany given up the war?”

“I hope not until we get a chance to have a whack at her!” exclaimed Jerry. “But shoot, Bob! What is it?”

“We’re going to have a practice march,” was the answer. “There’s just been a notice posted about it. We’re to go in heavy marching order, across country, and live just as we would if we were in an enemy’s land.”

“That’s the cheese!” cried Ned. “We can live a sort of free and easy life.”

“Don’t you fool yourself, son,” said an older man. “I’ve been on these practice marches before. How are your feet?”

“Oh, pretty good.”

“Well, they’ll need to be,” was the answer. “Toting seventy pounds on your back, through mud puddles, over rough country, uphill, downhill, isn’t any picnic. Just wait!”




Snappily the command rolled out and it set in motion hundreds of khaki-clad figures, each one with a rifle and a pack on his back.

The hike, or practice march, from Camp Dixton had started. After days of preparation, the laying out of a route, and the sending forward of supplies to meet the small army of men at different places along the way, the start had been made.

Ned, Bob and Jerry recalled the rather direful prediction of the soldier who had told them a marcher was only as good as his feet, but they were not worried.

“I guess we can keep up as long as the next one,” Jerry had said.

“We’ve just got to!” declared Ned. “We can’t be shirkers.”

“I only hope I don’t get hungry,” said Bob, with rather a woebegone face. “I’m going to put some cakes of chocolate in my pocket, so I can have something to nibble on.”


“Don’t,” advised the same soldier who had spoken about their feet. “Don’t eat sweet stuff until just before you can stop to take a drink. Candy will make you thirsty, and the worst thing you can do is to take a drink on the march. Wait until you stop. I’ve tried it, and I know.”

And so the march had started. The route was in a big circle about the camp as a center, and would take about five days. The men were to sleep in dog tents, camping at certain designated points, and eating the rations they carried with them and the food that would be brought to them by supply trains that accompanied the army. It was to be as much like a hike through a hostile land as it was possible to make it.

In order to make the illusion complete—that of having the young soldiers imagine they were at actual warfare—the same sort of marching was to prevail as would have prevailed had the men from Camp Dixton been on their way to take their place in the front line trenches, bordering on No Man’s Land, or as if they were hastening to the relief of a sorely-tried division.

To that end it was ordered that the day’s march should be broken up into periods. That is, the soldiers would march at the regulation speed for a certain number of miles, a distance depending, to a certain degree, on the nature of the land and whether or not it was uphill or downhill. At the[168] end of the distance a halt would be called, and the men would be allowed ten minutes’, or perhaps a half hour’s, rest. They were told not to take off their packs during this period, as it would be hard to get them adjusted to their backs again, but they were instructed to ease themselves as much as possible, by resting the weight of their packs on some convenient rock, log or hummock.

And so down the road went Ned, Bob and Jerry, in the midst of their chums of the army—boys and men with whom they had formed, for the most part, desirable acquaintances.

“This is one fine day,” remarked Jerry, as he and his friends trudged along together.

“Couldn’t be better,” agreed Ned. “How about it, Chunky?”

“Oh, it’s all right, I guess,” was the answer.

“Chunky is worrying so much about whether or not he will have enough to eat that he doesn’t know whether the sun is shining or whether it’s a rainy day,” laughed a friend on the other side of the stout lad.

“Well, I like my meals,” said the stout one, and there was more laughter.

On and on marched the young soldiers. Their officers watched them closely, not only to gain a knowledge of the characteristics of the men, but to note any who might be in distress, and also for signs of stragglers who might purposely delay the[169] march from a spirit of sheer laziness. The younger officers were given points on the method of marching and the care of their men by those who had been through the ordeal before. It was a sort of school for all concerned.

The day was hot, and the roads were dusty, and to trudge along under those circumstances with seventy pounds, more or less, strapped to one’s back was difficult and trying work. But there was very little grumbling. Each man knew he had to do his bit, and, after all, there was a reason for everything, and a deep spirit of patriotism had possession of all.

Now and then some one started a song, and the chorus was taken up by all who could hear the air. This singing was encouraged by the officers, for there is nothing that makes for better spirit than a strain of music or a song on the march.

They passed through a farming country, and on all sides were evidences of the work of the farmers. The injunction from Washington to raise all possible seemed to have been taken to heart by the agriculturists.

Among the volunteers were many boys from cities, who had never seen much of country life, and some of their remarks were amusing, as they noted what was being done on the farms.

During one of the halts, when Ned, Bob and Jerry, with some of their chums, were resting beside[170] the road near a farmhouse, Jerry saw a somewhat lively scene being enacted near the red barn which was part of the farm outfit. Pug Kennedy and one or two of his cronies were chasing some chickens.

As Jerry watched, he saw Pug knock a chicken down with the butt of his rifle, and then seize the stunned fowl, and slip it inside his shirt, which was big and baggy. Just as the scrapper did this a man came out of the barn and began to remonstrate with the soldiers, of whom Pug was one. But the Cresville friends noted that Pug walked away and came toward them. The bulge in his shirt, made where he had hidden the chicken, was plain to be seen.

The man who had come out of the barn was evidently accusing the soldiers to whom he was talking of having taken his chicken. They denied it, and offered to be searched. They could easily afford to do this.

The farmer, getting little satisfaction, came back to appeal to the company commander, who heard his story—one to the effect that a chicken had been stolen.

As looting was strictly forbidden, and as orders had been given to make good any loss met by civilians on account of the soldiers, it was necessary to conduct an inquiry.


The captain started to question his men, but he had not proceeded far when he came to Pug.

“Did you take his chicken?” the scrapper was asked.

“Naw! What would I want of a raw chicken?” was the answer.

Just then Jerry gave a loud sneeze, ending with an exclamation of “Ker-choo!” which sounded a bit like a rooster’s crow.

There was a laugh at this, but Jerry had not done it intentionally, and the officer seemed to know that. But Jerry had been standing near Pug Kennedy when this happened, and the sneeze must have brought the hidden chicken to its senses. It suddenly began to struggle inside Pug’s shirt, and cackled. Perhaps it thought it heard the call of a comrade fowl in Jerry’s sneeze.

“Ah, I think we have what we want,” said the officer. “Kennedy, bring the chicken here!”

“I haven’t any——”

Again the hen cackled and stirred within the bully’s shirt. The evidence was conclusive. There was a laugh, and with an air of having been caught in a petty trick Pug took out the fowl, not much the worse for its experience, and handed it to the farmer.

“If we weren’t on a hike, I’d send you to the guardhouse for that,” said the officer sternly. “You know what the orders are against this sort[172] of business. I’ll take up your case when we get back to camp. Fall in!”

Kennedy muttered something, and shot a look of anger at Jerry.

“That was your fault,” he said.

“My fault?”

“Yes, you sneezed on purpose like a rooster, and you woke up the hen!”

“Oh, come off! I sneezed by accident.”

“I don’t believe you!” said Pug. “I’ll get square all right!”

This seemed his favorite threat.

Jerry laughed. It seemed too far-fetched to be worth noticing, but he was later to remember the promise of the bully.

The farmer, his chicken restored to him, was satisfied, and the march was taken up again. Nothing of moment occurred the rest of that day, and at night a halt was made, and the dog tents put up in the fields and woods near the road. Each man carried half a tent, and by combining the two halves shelter for the largest part of a man’s body was secured. It was not as comfortable sleeping as in the barracks, but the night was warm and the boys were full of enthusiasm, which made up for a lot.

They were gaining valuable experience, and, aside from minor troubles, every one was satisfied.


It was late the next afternoon, and considerable ground had been covered, when something happened that had to do with Jerry, Ned and Bob. They, as well as every one else, were thinking of the coming night’s rest and a meal, when the order was given to rest, it being the last of those occasions for the day, preparatory to going into camp for the night.

As Ned, Bob and Jerry were taking what comfort they could beside the road, the stout youth looked up as a wagon passed. In it was a man, seemingly a farmer, and though he drove by quickly Bob exclaimed:

“There he is!”

“Who?” asked Jerry lazily.

“Crooked Nose!” answered Bob, greatly excited. “He’s the man we saw in Cresville the night of the fire when the Frenchman was robbed! Look, there he is!” and he pointed to the retreating wagon, which turned off down a side road.



“Look here, Chunky!” exclaimed Jerry, with one look at his stout chum and another at the tail-end of the wagon. “Is this a joke, or what?”

“Mostly what, I guess,” put in Ned. “If it’s a joke I don’t see the point, giving us heart disease that way. What do you mean? Was it Crooked Nose?”

“That’s what I said,” retorted Bob as nearly sharp as his bubbling good-nature ever permitted him to be. “I tell you I saw the same man, with the same crooked nose, that ran into you, Jerry, in the restaurant that night in Cresville when we had the fire.”

“Naturally if it was the same man he had the same nose,” said Ned.

“Well, it was the same man all right,” went on Bob. “I don’t very often forget a face.”

“Nor the time to eat,” added Jerry with a laugh. “Never mind, it will soon be time, Chunky. Don’t let your stomach get the best of you.”


“What do you mean?” asked Bob.

“I mean I guess you’re getting delirious from want of food. You’re seeing things.”

“I tell you I saw that man with the crooked nose!” asserted Bob. “And moreover I think it’s our duty to follow him, and see what he’s doing here. He may have my father’s watch, and Mrs. Hopkins’ brooch.”

“Maybe that’s true,” agreed Jerry. “But we’ve got pretty slim evidence to act on. And it seems out of the question to believe that he would be away down here. You probably did see a man with a crooked nose, Bob, but there are lots such.”

“I’m sure it was the same one we saw in Cresville,” insisted the stout lad. “Come on, let’s have a look down that road. We’ve got time.”

But they had not, for just then the order came to fall in, and the march was resumed. But it was only a short hike to the place where camp was to be made for the night, and when Bob found that it was not more than two miles to the road down which he had seen the wagon turn, he said to his chums:

“Say, fellows, we’ve got to investigate this.”

“Investigate what?” asked Jerry, shifting his pack to ease a lame spot on one shoulder.

“Crooked Nose,” replied Bob. “We can ask for a little time off, and take a hike by ourselves[176] down this road. Maybe that fellow works on a farm around here. Though what he’s doing so far from Cresville gets me. I’ll wager it isn’t for any good. But we ought to look him up.”

“S’pose we find he’s the wrong man, even if he has a crooked nose?” asked Ned, not eager for further hiking just then.

“We’ve got to take that chance,” Bob went on. “I’m sure, from the look I had of him, that he’s the same one. Are you with me?”

“Well, you needn’t ask that,” was Jerry’s answer. “Of course we’re with you. And if this turns out a fizzle we won’t say we told you so, Chunky. It’s worth taking a chance on, though if we do find this is the same crooked-nosed chap we saw at the time of the fire, it isn’t going to prove that he robbed the Frenchman. If he got all that valuable stuff he wouldn’t be here—he’d be in the city having a good time.”

“We’ll have to be careful about making an accusation, I guess,” agreed the stout lad. “But if we find he is the same chap we saw we could telegraph to the police of Cresville and ask if he was wanted there. If he is, the police there could take the matter up with the police of this place. That’s the way they do it.”

“Are there any police here?” asked Ned, looking around with a smile, for they were in the midst[177] of a country that looked too peaceful to need officers of the law.

“Oh, they always have constables, deputy sheriffs or something in these villages,” said Jerry. “That part will be all right, Bob. Go to it.”

And “go to it” Bob did. As soon as the army had come to a stop and the supper mess had been served, the three motor boys sought and received permission to go off for a stroll. It was early evening, and they must be back within the guard lines at ten, they were told, but this would give them time enough.

Having traveled about as much as they had, the three friends had acquired a good general sense of direction, and they had noted the location of the highway down which Bob had said the crooked-nosed man had driven.

It was their plan to go back to this point and make some inquiries of any resident they might meet in regard to the existence, on some neighboring farm, of a man with a nose decidedly out of joint.

“His defect is such that it surely will have been noticed,” said Bob. “He’s a marked man if ever there was one, and he ought to be easy to trace.”

As the three friends left the camp, armed with written permission to be absent until “taps” that night, Jerry, looking across the field, where the dog tents were already up, said:


“There goes Pug Kennedy. He must have a pass, too, for he’s going toward the lines.”

“I hope he isn’t going to trail us,” remarked Bob. “If we make this capture, or give information by which Crooked Nose is caught, we want the honor ourselves,” he added, with a grin.

“Oh, Pug doesn’t know anything about the Cresville fire,” declared Ned.

“He might,” insisted Bob. “He lives just outside the town, and he may have heard of the Frenchman’s loss and about Crooked Nose. Come on, let’s get going, and not have him ahead of us.”

But Pug Kennedy did not seem to be paying any attention to the motor boys. He marched steadily on, showed his pass to the sentry, and was allowed to go through the line. Then he started off down the road.

“That’s the way we’re going,” objected Bob, in disappointed tones.

“Oh, don’t pay any attention to him!” exclaimed Jerry. “He’s probably going out to see if he can pick up any more hens. We’ll mind our own affairs, and he can mind his.”

“If he only will,” murmured Ned.

However there was nothing to do but proceed with the plan they had made. Whether it would succeed or not was a question, and there was also a question as to what to do in case they should[179] discover the right crooked-nosed man. But, being youths of good spirits, the boys did not worry much about this end of the affair.

Down the pleasant country road they marched, in the early twilight. It would not be dark for a while yet, and they expected to make good use of their time. Their first “objective,” as Bob said, would be the road down which the crooked-nosed man had driven.

This place was soon reached, but it proved to be a lonely stretch of highway. At least no house was in sight, and there appeared to be no residents of whom information could be asked.

“But there may be a house just around the turn of the road,” suggested Bob hopefully. “Let’s hike on.”

So go on they did, and they were rewarded by seeing, as they made the turn in the highway, a farmhouse about a quarter of a mile beyond.

“Maybe he lives there, or works there,” suggested Bob.

“What gets me, though, Chunky,” said Jerry, “is what he would be doing down here.”

“Nothing strange in it,” said the stout lad. “He may be a sort of tramp farmer, and they go all over, the same as the umbrella men, or the wash-boiler fixers. Come on!”

They hurried forward, eager for what lay ahead of them, and if they had not been so eager[180] they might have been aware of a figure which had cut across lots and was sneaking along behind them. And the figure was that of Pug Kennedy.

“I wonder what their game is?” Pug muttered to himself. “If they are spying on me, it won’t be healthy for them. I’ll see what they’re up to, and maybe I can put a spoke in their wheel.”

Reaching the house, Ned, Bob and Jerry saw, sitting out in front, evidently resting after his day’s labors, a bronzed farmer. He looked at the boys with interest, and inquired:

“What’s the matter? Lost your way?”

“No, we came to see you,” answered Jerry.

“To see me? Well, I’m sure I’m glad to see any of Uncle Sam’s boys. Used to be one myself, but that’s long ago. Come in and set.”

“No, we’re on business,” went on Jerry, who had been elected spokesman. “Have you seen a man around these parts with a very crooked nose?”

The farmer started, and looked closely at the boys.

“A crooked nose?” he repeated.

“Yes,” interjected Bob, “a very crooked nose. It’s spread all over one side of his face.”

“Why, that must be Jim Waydell! At least that’s what he called himself when he came to work for me,” said the farmer, who had given his[181] name as Thomas Martin to the boys, when they told him who they were.

“Do you know him?” asked Jerry.

“Well, not very much, no. He came along, asked for work, and, as I was short-handed, I gave it to him. Why do you ask?”

“We’re not sure whether he’s the man we want to see or not,” answered Jerry, determined to be a bit cautious. “If we could have a look at him close by——”

“He’s out in the barn now,” interrupted the farmer. “Go talk to him, if you like.”

He waved his hand toward a ramshackle red building, and the three boys started toward it. As they entered they heard some one moving around, and then they caught sight of the very man they were looking for standing in the opened rear door. The last rays of the setting sun streamed full in on him from behind, and illuminated his face. His crooked nose was very much in evidence.

“There he is!” exclaimed Bob.

And as if the words were a warning the man, with a cry, gave a jump up into the haymow and disappeared from sight.

“Come on!” cried Ned. “We’ll get him!”

The three motor boys sprang to the pursuit, scrambling over the hay. It was a noiseless chase, for the hay deadened all sounds. They could not[182] see the man, but it was evident that he was either going to hide, or was making toward some unseen door by which he could escape.

“We’ll get him!” exclaimed Bob. “Come on!”

There came a cry from Ned.

“What’s the matter?” asked Jerry.

“Slipped and stuck my hand into a hen’s nest in the hay,” was the answer. “Broke about half a dozen eggs, I guess! Too bad! We might have taken ’em back to camp to fry for breakfast.”

Hardly had Ned uttered the words than the boys were startled by hearing a voice they knew—the voice of Pug Kennedy. It said:

“There they are now, Mister, stealing your eggs! I told you that’s what they were after—robbing hens’ nests. Better look out for your eggs!”

“I will!” exclaimed the voice of the farmer, in answer to this accusation. “I wondered at their story of the crooked-nosed man! They just wanted to get into my barn! I’ll fix ’em!”



Ned, Bob and Jerry, hearing this talk, wondered greatly. What could it mean?

“Come down out of there!” cried Mr. Martin. “Come down out of my haymow, and tell me what you mean! What are you after, anyhow?”

“We want to catch that crooked-nosed man,” answered Jerry. “We didn’t tell you before, but we think he is a thief.”

“Well, I come pretty near knowing you are!” was the grim retort. “Come down here!”

There was no choice but to obey, and rather puzzled as to what it all meant, and why Pug Kennedy should come to make such an accusation, the three chums slid to the barn floor from the haymow. They might miss their chance of catching the crooked-nosed man, but it could not be helped.

“There! What’d I tell you?” exclaimed Pug, pointing to Ned, as the chums faced the now angry farmer. “If those aren’t egg stains I’ll never eat another bit of chow!”


Too late Ned realized what his accidental slipping into the hen’s nest meant. The evidence was damaging against him. The whites and yolks of the eggs dripped from his hands, and there were stains on his uniform.

“Ha! Caught you, didn’t I?” exclaimed the farmer. “Now you’ll pay for this!”

“We’re perfectly willing to pay for the damage we accidentally did to your eggs,” answered Ned. “I believe I broke half a dozen, possibly more. But it was while I was crawling around, trying to get the crooked-nosed man, who was escaping.”

“It’s a good story, but it won’t wash,” laughed Pug Kennedy. “They were after your eggs, farmer, and that’s the truth.”

“I believe you, and I’m much obliged to you for telling me. It isn’t the first time I’ve been robbed by soldiers out on a hike, and I said the next time it happened I’d complain. I’m going to. You’ll come with me before your officers, and see what happens.”

“Oh, that’s all nonsense!” exclaimed Jerry. “We admit we broke some of your eggs by accident, and we’re willing to pay, and pay well for them. We didn’t intend to steal!”

“I should say not!” chimed in Ned, wiping his hands off on some hay.

“I don’t know what you might do,” was the answer. “I only know what I see—egg stains.[185] You might have sneaked into the barn if I hadn’t seen you. And when I did notice you, you told me some story about a crooked-nosed man to make it sound natural.”

“But there is a crooked-nosed man,” insisted Bob.

“Course there is,” said the farmer. “I admit that. But he isn’t such an unusual man. For all I know you may have seen him driving in with my wagon—he’d been to town—and you made up that story about wanting to see him.”

“Yes, we did see him driving,” admitted Bob. “And then we thought——”

He stopped. He realized that appearances were against him and his chums, and that any explanation they might make, especially after Ned’s mishap with the eggs, would seem strange.

“First I thought you were all right, and really did want to see my hired man,” went on the farmer. “But when this other soldier came and said he’d seen you go into my barn, and had heard you talking about getting eggs for a good feed, why, I realized what you were up to.”

“Did he tell you that yarn about us?” asked Jerry, looking at Pug.

“He did. And it’s the truth.”

“Well, it isn’t the truth, and he knows it!” cried Ned. “He’s taking this means of getting even because of what he thinks we did to him. All right![186] Let it go at that. We’ll go before the officers with you. We’re not afraid! We’ll tell the truth.”

“You’d better!” declared Mr. Martin. “You wait till I hitch up and I’ll take you back to camp. This soldierin’ business is all right, and I’m in full sympathy with it. But it isn’t right to rob farmers, and your officers won’t stand for it.”

“We didn’t intend to rob you,” said Jerry. “And while you are acting this way that man, who may be a desperate criminal, is escaping. If you are bound to take us before our officers, at least look after the crooked-nosed chap.”

“Oh, I can lay hands on him when I want him,” said the farmer, and then Ned, Bob and Jerry realized how futile it was to argue with him.

“It’s too bad!” murmured Bob, as they drove back to the camp in the wagon, Pug declining to accompany them, saying he would walk.

“Yes, it is tough,” agreed Jerry. “Just when we were about to get hold of Crooked Nose! If he’s the one you think he is, Bob, he’ll take the alarm and skip.”

“That’s what I’m afraid of. Hang Pug, anyhow! What’s his game?”

“Maybe he made the accusation against us to cover up some trick of his own,” suggested Ned, in a low voice so the now unfriendly farmer would not hear. “Pug had some object in coming[187] away from camp, and it wasn’t to follow us, for he didn’t know what we were going to do.”

“I don’t believe he did,” assented Jerry. “But he must have followed us, and when he saw us go into the barn he made up his mean mind to make trouble for us.”

This was the only explanation the boys could think of, and they had to let it go at that.

The three chums had to stand no little chaffing and gibing when they were brought back to camp in practical custody of the farmer. It was not uncommon for the lads, on hikes and practice marches, to raid orchards and hen roosts, and punishment was always meted out to the offenders, while payment for the damage done was taken from their pay, and their comrades jumped to this as the explanation of the present predicament of Ned, Bob and Jerry.

“But this accusation is unjust!” said Ned, when they were taken before their captain. “It’s all a mistake.”

“Well, let’s hear about it,” said the officer somewhat wearily, for there had been several cases of raids on this march.

Thereupon Mr. Martin told his story of having been informed by Kennedy of the alleged intentions of the motor boys. And he told of having seen them slide down from his haymow, one[188] of them bearing unmistakable evidence of eggs on his person.

“I know it looks queer,” said Ned.

“It certainly does,” agreed the captain, grimly.

But he was a just man and he listened to the boys’ story. He seemed somewhat surprised at the mention of the crooked-nosed man, but he made no comment, and when all was said he gave his judgment.

It was to the effect that as the boys had affirmed on their honor as soldiers and gentlemen that they were telling the truth, he could not but believe them. At the same time it was evident that they had done some slight damage, and had put the farmer to some inconvenience in bringing them back to camp, and it was only fair that they should pay. Having already offered to make payment, they were very willing to do this.

So the incident was ended, and the farmer, convinced that he was in the right, and jingling in his pocket a good price for the broken eggs, went back to his home.

So, much to their regret, the boys lost trace of Crooked Nose, or Jim Waydell, as the farmer had called him. They could not look for the suspect again that night, and the next morning they had to march away with their comrades.

“But when we get back to camp we’ll take a day or so off on furlough and come back here and see[189] if we can land him,” declared Bob. “We’re not sure enough of his identity, on such casual glances, to cause his arrest on mere information. We’ve got to get him ourselves and find out more about him.”

“We’re with you!” said Jerry, heartily.

The practice march was a success from a military standpoint, though it showed up some weak spots in the organization. But that was one of the objects.

For several days after the return of the army there were light drills to enable the boys to recover from the strenuous exercise. Then one evening Bob, in a state of some excitement, came hurrying into the Y. M. C. A. quarters, looking for Ned and Jerry.

“What’s up now?” they asked. “Have you seen Crooked Nose again?”

“No, but our company’s going to give a minstrel show, and the committee has asked me if we three will take part in it.”

“A minstrel show?” repeated Jerry.

“Yes, black up and everything!” exclaimed Bob. “It’ll be fun! Let’s do it!”



Life in the United States army is very nicely balanced, at least in the big cantonments where civilians are turned into soldiers in about six months’ time.

That is to say there is a well-balanced schedule, so much work and so much play. Reading the schedule of what is required in the way of drill would lead one to suppose that there was no time for play at all, but there is, even on the French front, with grim No Man’s Land staring one in the face. Shows and plays are sometimes given within sound of the big guns.

The officers in charge of the men well knew that “all work and no play makes Jack,” not only a dull boy, but a poor soldier. So recreation is planned for. Part of this plan is to let the young fellows amuse themselves, make their own fun, which sometimes is better than having it made by others.

The captain of the company in which Ned, Bob and Jerry lived, moved and had their being,[191] had planned a minstrel show, as Bob had said. On the cantonment grounds was a theater to which professionals occasionally came from the cities to give their services. Almost every night there was a moving picture show.

“But this is to be different,” explained Bob, to his listening chums. “Captain Trainer has found out that there’s considerable talent in our bunch——”

“Ahem! did you look at me?” asked Jerry, assuming an air of importance.

“He pointed to me!” declared Ned.

“You’re both wrong! It was I—Macbeth—he meant!” declaimed a lad with a deep and resonant voice.

“Oh, cut it out and listen,” advised Bob. “This is the game. The captain has found out there are a lot of fellows in our company who have acted in amateur theatricals, and there are a few professionals. So he’s going to get up a minstrel show, and let the other companies see what we can do. There’ll be a little admission charged, and if we make any money it will go into the company’s fund to buy——”

“Grub!” some one cut in, and everybody laughed, for by this time all knew Bob’s weak point.

“Well, grub, if you like,” he admitted. “But say, fellows, won’t it be great?”


“Sure!” came in a chorus.

And then the boys fell to talking about the coming minstrel show.

Preparations for it went on apace. Captain Trainer was an enthusiast, and when he set out to do a thing he carried it to a finish. It was that way with the minstrel show.

A good many “try-outs” and much practice work were necessary. Then, after a deal of weeding work, like that which a careful gardener gives his plants, a very good show was evolved.

It took pattern after the usual black-face affairs, with end-men, bones, tambourines, the interlocutor and specialists. Some of the lads were very clever, and really were almost as good as professionals. Ned, Bob and Jerry were called on to state what they could do, and when it was found that they had a comic-song trio “up their sleeves,” they were put down for that.

“We’ll make a hit all right,” declared Bob, after one of the rehearsals.

“If we don’t get hit ourselves,” added Jerry.

“That’s right!” chimed in Ned. “I understand there is a premium on old cabbage stumps and other articles of that nature.”

“Don’t let him scare you, Jerry,” advised the stout lad. “He’s only afraid of that high note of his. But don’t worry, Ned. We’ll cover you up if you make a break!”


“Huh! I like your nerve. Now come on, let’s try that jazz song over again,” which they did, to the delight of those privileged to listen to the try-out.

In the camp was a professional who showed the boys how to make up with grease paint; burnt cork, the time-honored method of making a black-faced comedian, is now only used by boys when they play in the barn. On the stage, even for amateurs, black grease paint is used.

“Say, you look just like a negro!” exclaimed Bob to Jerry, as they were getting dressed in the evening before the show was to be given. “You’ve even got the walk down pat.”

“Yes. I’ve been practicing a bit,” Jerry admitted. “If you’re going to do a thing, do it right, I say. You’re not bad yourself, Bob.”

“Oh, well, my figure is against me. But I guess we’ll make out all right.”

Indeed the three motor boys were taking special pains with their appearance. That is not to say the other actors were not also, but Ned, Bob, and Jerry seemed to enter into the spirit of it more than some of their chums.

The various acts came off as planned, and were much appreciated by the audience. There were many local hits and take-offs, not only on the enlisted men, but on the officers as well. Mild fun was poked at the different weaknesses of many in[194] the ranks, and not a few of those higher up, and considerable laughter resulted.

The three Cresville friends did their act so well that they were recalled again and again, and if they had not prepared something for encores, which Jerry had insisted on, they might have had merely to bow their thanks. As it was they sang verse after verse of a comical song, bringing in all their friends, to the great delight of the latter.

“You couldn’t have done better, boys,” complimented Captain Trainer, as Ned, Bob, and Jerry came off the stage for the last time. “I’m glad you’re with us. When we get over on the other side I hope you’ll still keep up your spirits enough to give us some enjoyment, when we’ll need it more than we do here.”

“We’ll do our best,” said Jerry modestly.

“You’d think they were a bunch of professionals to hear them talk,” came a low, sneering voice to the ears of the three chums, when the captain walked away. There was no need to ask who had spoken. It was Pug Kennedy, and he was standing just outside the dressing room, talking to one or two of his special cronies. He did not have many associates. His “scrappy” nature prevented this.

“I’ve a good mind to go over and give him a punch,” declared Ned, angrily. “He’s made too[195] many of those uncalled-for remarks of late. I’m not going to stand it!”

“Don’t start a row now,” advised Jerry. “It will spoil all the fun. Let him alone. I heard something to the effect that he was going to apply for a transfer, and if he does he won’t bother us any more.”

“I hope to goodness he does,” said Bob. “He makes me tired!”

Pug gazed over in the direction of the three friends, almost as if inviting trouble, and then, seeing that they were not going to resent the remark he had made with the intention that they should hear it, he lighted a cigarette and strolled out into the darkness. Discipline was somewhat relaxed on account of the minstrel show, and permission was given for the men to remain up an hour later than usual, while the guard lines were extended to allow considerable strolling about.

“Come on, let’s go for a walk,” suggested Bob. “It will cool us off.”

“What, walk with this black stuff on our faces?” exclaimed Ned. “If any one sees us we’ll be taken for negroes.”

“What of it?” asked Jerry. “Every one knows what’s going on. Besides, we can’t wash up yet. We have to go on in the final chorus in about an hour. I’m with you, Bob! We’ll take a walk and cool off.”


They strolled through the camp, and presently found themselves near its outskirts. They had plenty of time, as they had finished their special part of the programme, and only came on in the grand “wind-up.”

As they were walking along, talking intermittently of the show and the chances of going “over there,” Bob, who was slightly in the lead, called in a low voice:

“Look, fellows! See him!”

“See who?” asked Ned. “Do you mean Pug Kennedy?”

“No, but look over under that light!” went on Bob, pointing. “Don’t you see that man. It’s Crooked Nose again! Come on! We’ll get him this time!” and he started to run, followed by Ned and Jerry, who did, indeed, see in the glare of a camp light, the form of a man. And, as he momentarily turned his face toward them, they saw that his countenance was marred by a bent and crooked nose.

The boys gave pursuit, their faces still blackened.



“What’s he doing here?”

“Where’s he going?”

“Did he see us?”

These were the questions asked in turn by Ned, Bob, and Jerry, as they slipped along in the darkness, following the man with the crooked nose, whom they had so unexpectedly seen.

“Maybe he came to laugh at us for the way the tables were turned on us, the time we tried to catch him in the farmer’s barn,” suggested Jerry.

“He’s come a long distance out of his way for a little thing like that,” commented Ned. “I’m inclined to think he came here to meet some one. After Bob spoke I saw the fellow look at his watch as though impatient because of an appointment not kept.”

“Well, where’s he going now?” asked Bob, repeating his question.

“I guess it’s up to us to find out,” replied Jerry.

“Maybe he’s trying to lead us into an ambush,” suggested Bob.


“Cut out the dime-novel stuff,” advised Jerry, with a low laugh. “I’ve got a better explanation than that, and the real one.”

“What is it?” asked Ned.

“It’s our black faces,” returned the tall chum. “If that crooked-nosed man—Jim Waydell the farmer called him, though it may not be his right name—if he saw us at all, which he probably did, he takes us for negroes. That’s why he isn’t worried. He thinks we’re camp roustabouts, and that we don’t know anything about him.”

“I believe you’re right!” exclaimed Ned, after a moment’s thought. “We do look like a trio of colored chaps, and that’s why he isn’t getting worried and taking it on the run. Say, it’s a lucky thing we are this way.”

“Maybe,” assented Jerry. “Now mind your talk. Do the negro dialect as well as you can, fellows, and we may find out something about this mysterious Crooked Nose. If we can bring about his arrest for robbing the Frenchman, or for setting the fire, which Mr. Cardon seemed to think he did, it will be a good thing for us and Cresville. So pretend we are colored men with a few hours off.”

The boys walked as near as they thought safe to the solitary suspect, who was trudging down the road alone. When they spoke aloud the motor boys simulated the broad negro tones, talking[199] and laughing as they had often heard the camp teamsters and servants do, for the place was overrun with good-natured, if rather shiftless, colored men.

As for “Mr. Crooked Nose,” as the boys sometimes called him, he seemed to pay little attention to those who were following him. Either he took them for genuine colored men, and, as such, persons who could have no interest in his movements, or he was indifferent to the fact that they might be some of the minstrel players.

What the man’s object was in coming to camp, when the farm on which he was supposed to work was several miles away, could only be guessed at. But the boys hoped to find it out.

They were approaching the camp confines, and were debating whether they could risk going beyond them, when the crooked-nosed man turned into a field, and made his way toward a deserted barn. This was one that had been on a farm when the land had been taken by the government for Camp Dixton.

“Maybe he’s going to sleep there,” suggested Bob. “Or perhaps he is going to meet some one there.”

“Keep quiet,” advised Jerry. “We’ll walk on down the road, as if we didn’t care what he did. Then we’ll circle back and sneak up to the barn. Maybe we can find out something about him.[200] Strike up a song, so he’ll think we’re what we pretend to be.”

They began humming the chorus of one of the songs they had sung in the minstrel show, and so passed on down the road. There was a moon, and the movements of the crooked-nosed man could easily be observed. He struck off across the vacant lots toward the barn, not even looking back at the singing boys, who did, indeed, have the appearance of negroes.

Proceeding far enough beyond a turn of the road to be hidden from sight, Ned, Bob, and Jerry waited a few minutes, and then turned back. This time they did not sing, and they talked only in whispers.

Cautiously they approached the barn, looking for any sign of a light or any movement that would indicate the presence of the mysterious man or of a person who had come there to meet him, or with whom he had expected to keep a rendezvous.

“‘All quiet along the Potomac,’” quoted Bob, in a low voice.

“Well, have it quiet here, too,” whispered Jerry. “We may discover something, and we may not. But there’s no use in giving ourselves away. He may get angry if he finds we’re not what we seem to be, and knows that we’ve been following him. Go easy now!”


The young soldiers finally stood in the shadow of the barn and listened intently. At first they heard nothing but the rattle and flap of some loose pieces of wood.

“He’s gone!” murmured Ned.

“Listen!” advised Jerry.

Even as he spoke they all heard the low murmur of voices. And the voices were those of men.

“We’ve got to get nearer, where we can hear better,” whispered Jerry to his chums. “It’s around this way.”

He led the way to the side of the barn that was in the deepest shadow, and presently they came to a stop below a small window. The glass had been broken out of it, and through the aperture came the tones of the voices more distinctly. One said:

“When did he say he was coming?”

“He promised to be here to-night,” was the answer.

Of course the boys, not having heard the crooked-nosed man’s voice, did not know which was his, nor which was his companion’s.

“To-night; eh?” came in sharp tones. “Well, he didn’t come, and you tell him I want to see him, and see him bad. I’m tired of hanging around here without any money, and I’m working like a dog on that farm.”

“That’s Crooked Nose,” whispered Bob.


“Yes,” agreed Jerry.

“Well, I’ll tell him,” said the other voice. “I don’t know what’s got into him lately. But he and Pug have some game on and——”

The voice died out into an indistinguishable murmur.

“Did you hear that?” demanded Ned, and his voice was so sharp that Jerry clapped a hand over his friend’s lips.

“Quiet!” he cautioned.

They listened, but the voices were no longer heard. Instead came the sound of feet tramping on bare boards.

“They’re going away,” murmured Bob.

“Let’s stay here and see what happens,” suggested Ned. “I’d like to know who that other man is. Maybe there’s spy work going on in our camp!”

It was within the bounds of possibility.

Waiting in the shadows, the motor boys heard the footsteps die away. Then the murmur of voices sounded again. They came nearer, and indicated that those who were talking were outside the barn.

“Well, I’ll tell him you want to see him,” said the man who was with the crooked-nosed fellow.

“You’d better! He can have all the games he wants with Pug, but he’s got to make a settlement[203] with me. I took all the risk, and he got all the money. I want my share!”

“I’ll tell him!”

“And now about this storehouse business,” went on the other. “Can you get into it?”

“I have an extra key. And Kratzler——”

“No names!” warned the other quickly. “You can’t tell who may be sneaking about. Nix on the names!”

Then the voices died away again, and the boys, listening, could hear nothing more.

“There’s something wrong going on here!” decided Ned. “Did you hear Pug’s name mentioned twice?”

“Yes,” assented Jerry. “But it may not be the one we know.”

“I believe it is,” went on Ned. “We’ve got to find out more about this. There they go!”

He pointed to two figures, dimly seen. They were moving rapidly away across the field.

“Come on!” exclaimed Ned, in a tense whisper.

Just then in the distance, two shots rang out.

“That’s the signal!” cried Jerry. “They’re ending the sketch ‘The Sentry’s Last Challenge.’ We go on right after that in the final chorus. We’ve got about five minutes to make it. Come on! Hike!”

“But what about these fellows?” asked Bob.

“We’ll have to let them go,” decided Ned.[204] “We can’t afford to spoil the minstrel show for the sake of something that may not amount to anything.”

“Not even to catch Crooked Nose?” asked Bob, in disappointed tones.

“We’ll take up his case later,” said Jerry. “Just now we’re minstrels. Come on.”

There was nothing else to do, and though the boys wanted to remain and, if possible, solve the mystery, they felt that they owed it to Captain Trainer to make the minstrel show a success. They had important parts, and the shots they had heard fired were blank cartridges, discharged during the enactment of a little skit, played by some members of their company.

The two men had disappeared in the shadows, and it was a question whether the boys could have spied on them to any further advantage that night. So they hurried back, arriving just in time to take part in the last chorus.

After the show, which was voted a big success, the boys debated among themselves whether they should report what they had seen and heard and mention Pug Kennedy’s name. Also they talked of the time when they had seen Pug have a midnight meeting with some one.

“There was more in that than appeared on the surface,” declared Ned.

“Yes, I agree with you,” said Jerry. “And[205] there’s something in this affair to-night, too. But we don’t know enough to cause more than suspicions, and there’s a chance that things would go against us.”

“Then what are we to do?” asked Bob.

“Keep quiet, I say, until we have more definite information,” was the tall lad’s answer. “We can make another attempt to find out more about this crooked-nosed man.”

“That’s what I say,” decided Ned. “Let’s wait a bit.”

So they said nothing about having followed the man to the barn, being able to get close to him because he took them for negroes, and they bided their time.

The minstrel show made a welcome break in the monotony of camp life, and it acted like a good tonic. The boys were the more ready to take up the routine of work, and there was plenty of it.

As they progressed in their soldier life Ned, Bob and Jerry found it more interesting. The need of the various drills began to be better understood. They liked the work on the rifle ranges, the machine gun exercises and the trench work. They went on several other hikes, and at times were given charge of some new squads of drafted men who came to camp.

It was about two weeks after the minstrel show[206] that Jerry, Bob and Ned were all out on guard together when they heard the man on the post next to Jerry’s calling:

“Corporal of the guard!”

“What’s the matter?” asked Jerry, as he sent the call down the line.

“I’ve got a prisoner!” was the answer. “I caught him trying to get in through the lines! I guess he’s a German spy!”

“Maybe it’s the crooked-nosed man!” exclaimed Bob.

“Or the one who was with him in the barn,” added Ned.

“Or the one they spoke of as going into some game with Pug,” said Jerry. “Come on! We’d better go help Kelly.” Kelly was the name of the sentry who had called.

The three boys went off on a run in the darkness, going to the aid of their comrade. Little did they dream of the surprise in store for them.



“Corporal of the Guard! Post Number Ten!”

This was the cry, in various intonations, that went ringing down the line in the darkness. As instructed, Ned, Bob and Jerry, being the nearest to the place of the alarm, went to render what aid might be necessary to the sentry who had first called. Meanwhile the corporal of the guard, rousing those whose duty it was to go out with him and see to the disturbance, was hastening to the scene.

As Ned, Bob and Jerry approached they heard some one saying:

“But I must have it! I tell you I must get it. It is exceedingly valuable, and you ought not to stop me.”

“Stop you! I’ve stopped you all right!” came the vigorous tones of Kelly, the sentry.

“But I must get through. I must!”

“And I say you must not! Trying to run the guard under my very nose; that’s what you were[208] trying to do. But I caught you! You’re a German spy—that’s what you are!”

“No, I assure you that you are mistaken,” came a gentle voice in answer. “I am only after some new specimens——”

Ned, Bob and Jerry gave a shout.

“It’s him, all right!” cried Jerry, enthusiastically if not grammatically.

“I thought it sounded like him,” added Ned.

“Hello, Professor Snodgrass!” called Bob. “It’s all right. Keep quiet. We’ll be with you in a minute!”

They raced up to the excited sentry, who stood holding a small, bald-headed man, at the same time flashing in his face a pocket electric lamp.

“Oh, it’s you, boys, is it?” asked the little man, who did not seem at all disturbed by the situation in which he found himself. “Well, I’m glad to see you. I just arrived, getting in rather late on account of a delayed train. I walked over, intending to visit you. I had no idea it was so late, but I am glad it is, for I have just seen some specimens of moth that only fly about this hour. I wanted to catch some but—er—this gentleman——”

Professor Snodgrass, for it was he, paused and looked at his captor.

“You’re right! I wouldn’t let you go chasin’[209] through the lines!” exclaimed Kelly. “Do you know him?” he asked the motor boys.

“He is a friend of ours,” declared Jerry. “We know him well. He is Professor Uriah Snodgrass, of Boxwood Hall, and what he says is true—he does collect moths and other bugs.”

“Sufferin’ cats!” cried Kelly. “And I took him for a German spy! I beg your pardon,” he went on. “My father was a professor in Dublin University, and I’m sorry I disturbed you. I’ll help you collect bugs when I’m off duty.”

“Thank you!” said Professor Snodgrass, as if it was the most natural thing in the world to get offers of assistance in this way. “I shall be glad of help. Ha! There is one of the late-flying moths now!” and he reached over and made a grab for something on the shoulder of the corporal of the guard, who had come running up.

“Here! None of that! What’s the idea! Disarm him!” cried the corporal, who was hardly awake yet. “Has he bombs on him?” he asked of Kelly.

“I guess it’s all a mistake,” the sentry replied. “I was patrolling my post, when I saw some one walking along, and seemingly picking things up off the ground. Or maybe, I thought, he was planting infernal machines. So I rushed over and grabbed him, and I yelled and——”

“I was only gathering bugs by the light of my[210] little electric lamp,” the professor explained. “I had no idea I was so near the army camp, though I intended to visit it to see my friends,” and he motioned to the motor boys. With his usual absent-mindedness he had forgotten all about everything but what he saw immediately before him—the bugs and the night moths.

“Do you know this gentleman?” asked the corporal of Jerry.

“Yes, he is a very good friend of ours.”

“Then you may release him,” went on the corporal to Kelly. “And we are sorry for what happened.”

But it is doubtful if Professor Snodgrass heard him, for the little scientist was again reaching forward to get something from the shoulder of the corporal. This time he succeeded, and those gathered about had a glimpse of a white, fluttering object.

“One of the finest and largest white moths I have ever caught!” exclaimed the delighted professor. “I thank you!” he added, as though the corporal had done him a great favor by serving as a perch for the insect.

The excitement caused by the capture of the “prisoner” soon passed, and the corporal went back to his rest, while Ned, Bob and Jerry, whose tour of duty was up, took Professor Snodgrass in charge.


They explained the matter to the officer in charge of their barracks, and a spare bunk was found for the college instructor.

But he did not seem inclined to use it. He wanted to sit up and enter in his note book something about the specimens he had caught in such a sensational manner, but when it was explained to him that to have lights in an army camp after ten o’clock was against the regulations, except in cases of emergency, he put out his pocket electric lantern and dutifully went to sleep, with his specimen boxes under his bed.

The next day Professor Snodgrass told the boys that so many students had enlisted from Boxwood Hall that the teaching force was greatly reduced.

“I was given a leave of absence,” he added, “and I decided to come to see you, and, at the same time, make a study of Southern moths and other insects. So I came on, getting in rather late, as I mentioned.”

“We’re mighty glad to see you,” returned Jerry.

“How are things in Cresville?” asked Ned. “Or didn’t you stop there?”

“Yes, I did, as I wanted to get your exact addresses. Matters are quiet. A number of the boys have enlisted, or been drafted, as you know, but otherwise things are about the same, your folks say.”

“Any more news about the fire?” asked Bob.


“Well, the ruins are still there, and I believe that Frenchman—whose name I don’t recall—is in much distress about the loss of his money.”

“And Crooked Nose has been here!” burst out Bob. “We must try to nab him!”

He and his chums talked about the possibility of this, but it is doubtful if Professor Snodgrass heard, for, just then, a peculiar bug attracted his attention, and he began to “stalk” it, as Ned remarked.

The boys enjoyed the visit of the little scientist, and he took an interest in matters about Camp Dixton; that is, when he was not collecting bugs, in which occupation he spent most of his time.

It was on the night of Professor Snodgrass’ third day’s stay at the place where the soldier city had sprung up. Some hours after Ned, Bob and Jerry had gone to their bunks at the signal of taps, they were awakened by an alarm.

“I’ve got him! I’ve got him!” some one shouted.



“Did you hear that?” asked Ned of Jerry, for the sound of the alarm in the night had penetrated to their barracks, and several had awakened.

“I’ve got him! I’ve got him! He mustn’t get away!” was shouted again, and then a glimmer of the truth began to dawn on Jerry.

“Corporal of the guard, post number seven!” was shouted from somewhere out on the fields about the camp.

By this time all in the immediate vicinity of the barracks, where Ned, Bob and Jerry had their bunks, were aroused. Lights were set aglow, and Ned, looking over to a bed which had been temporarily placed for Professor Snodgrass, cried:

“He’s gone!”

“Yes. And I guess he’s the one who’s got him!” added Jerry with a laugh. “I think it was his voice that caused the disturbance. Perhaps we’d better go out and see what it all is. If it’s some one who doesn’t know the professor they might take him for a spy, and use him roughly.”


“Who do you suppose he’s caught?” asked Bob. “Do you think it can be Crooked Nose or one of his cronies?”

“I don’t imagine it’s anything as dramatic as that,” returned Jerry. “I rather think the professor has been bug-hunting again, and he has found his quarry most unexpectedly, which has caused his jubilation.”

And this they found to be true. When they had slipped on a few garments and their shoes and had gone outside, they found Professor Snodgrass walking along between two sentries. On the faces of the soldiers were puzzled looks, but on that of the little scientist was a gentle and satisfied smile, as though the world had used him very well indeed.

“I have it, boys!” he exclaimed, as he caught sight of his three friends. “It is one of the rarest of its kind. I caught it——”

“He caught it on my post, whatever it is,” said one of the sentries. “And he nearly scared my supper out of me. Talk about snakes! I’d rather see ’em any night!”

“What did you find?” asked Jerry of the professor.

“A new kind of centipede,” was the answer, and the professor showed, in a glass-topped box, a horrible, many-legged insect that was squirming around, trying to get out.


“Oh, landy!” cried the sentry who had apprehended the little scientist, peering into the box. “And to think one of them was loose on my post! Say, how long do you live after one bites you?” he asked anxiously. “There might be more where I have to walk, and if one nips me——”

“Don’t worry,” said Professor Snodgrass. “The bite of this centipede, while it is painful, is not deadly. Proper treatment will make you safe. But this is a most wonderful specimen. I had hoped to find one, but not so soon.”

“And didn’t you discover anything else?” asked an officer who had come out to see what the excitement was about.

“Anything else? No, but I’ll keep on looking, if you’ll let me. I may find a scorpion, though I am a bit doubtful about finding them so far north. However, I’m sure that just before I caught the centipede I saw a number of giant spiders with double stings. I’d like to look for them, and——”

“Excuse me, Lieutenant!” exclaimed the sentry who had caught the professor. “But would you mind giving me another post? He found all them animals he speaks of right here where I’m patrollin’.” And the soldier looked more frightened than if he had been told to charge on a battery of machine guns.

“I mean you saw no unauthorized persons trying[216] to get through the lines, did you?” asked the lieutenant of the professor. “The insects were all you found?”

“Yes, but I haven’t found enough,” answered the scientist. “I should like more time. I couldn’t sleep, so I got up to hunt for specimens, and I was most successful.”

“I’m afraid we shall have to ask you to postpone your operations until morning,” said the officer with a smile. “We want you to feel free to advance the cause of science as much as you can, but a war camp at night is a nervous sort of place, and the least alarm disturbs a large number of men.”

“I’m sorry,” said Mr. Snodgrass. “I can, of course, wait until it is light. There may be more scorpions and centipedes out then.”

“I’m glad I go off duty,” murmured the sentry.

Official explanations were then made. As he had said, Professor Snodgrass had been unable to sleep, and had arisen, without awakening the boys or any of their comrades, and had gone outside the barracks with his electric flash light and his collection boxes.

He had seen the centipede wiggling along in the sand, and had caught it, his yells of delight, announcing the fact, giving the alarm, and causing the sentries to think a corporal’s guard of German spies had descended on them. Two of them[217] made a rush for the professor, much to his surprise. For when he was getting specimens he was oblivious to his surroundings, thinking only of what he was after.

The camp finally settled back to quietness again, and the professor went with the boys back to the barracks, but it was some time before any of them got to sleep again.

The next day Professor Snodgrass found a number of what he said were very rare and valuable bugs from a collector’s standpoint, but which, to the boys and their chums, seemed to be utterly worthless and great pests, for most of them bit or stung.

“Ah, but you don’t understand!” the scientist would say, when objections were made to his viewpoint.

“Well, as long as you catch bugs by daylight, and don’t wake us up in the middle of the night, we’ll forgive you,” said Ned.

“Especially after disappointing us so,” added Jerry.

“Disappoint?” queried the professor. “Why, I couldn’t have asked for a better specimen of centipede than the one I captured.”

They had a day’s furlough coming to them, and they decided to use it, when it was granted, in making a search for the crooked-nosed man. At the same time they could enjoy an outing with the[218] professor, and watch him catch “bugs,” as the boys called all his specimens, whether they were horned toads or minute insects that needed a microscope to distinguish them from the leaves on which they fed.

“This will be like old times,” declared Bob, as they started out one day after the morning mess, the professor being a guest of Jerry’s company.

But though the expedition was a success from a scientific standpoint, in that Professor Snodgrass secured many new specimens, it was a failure as far as the crooked-nosed man was concerned. There was no trace of him at the old barn. In fact the boys scarcely expected to find any there. But they did hope to get some news of him from Mr. Martin, the farmer who had so unjustly accused the chums of taking eggs.

“But he isn’t here,” said that person, when the boys had tramped out to his place and made inquiries. Mr. Martin seemed somewhat ashamed of the rôle he had played, and tried to make amends.

“I guess you boys scared him away,” he said, referring to the crooked-nosed man. “I don’t know anything about him except that he said his name was Jim Waydell, and he came along here, asking for work. I sized him up as a sort of tramp, but he was handy around the place, and, as I needed a man, I took him on, though I didn’t[219] like his looks. But I figured he couldn’t help that. Anyhow he’s skipped, and I don’t know where he is.”

That seemed to end the matter, though the boys had hopes of coming across the crooked-nosed man again.

“Not only would we like to get him on account of the part he may have had in robbing the Frenchman,” announced Jerry, “but I think he and some others, including Pug Kennedy, are mixed up in a plan to do some damage to the camp. We don’t know enough to say anything without getting laughed at, perhaps, but we may be able to find out.”

“That’s right!” exclaimed the professor. “Keep your eyes open. If I hadn’t done that I’d never have caught the centipede.”

They returned to camp, and the next day Professor Snodgrass had to leave. He was on his way farther south, to visit a scientific friend, the two expecting to go on a collecting trip together.

“I may stop and see you on my way north again,” said the scientist. “If I hear anything of the crooked-nosed man I’ll let you know.”

Once again the boys took up the routine of camp life. They were being made into good soldier material, along with thousands of their chums and comrades, and they were beginning to love the life, hard as it was at times.


They drilled, and drilled, and drilled again; they perfected themselves in the use of the rifle and the bayonet; and they received machine gun instructions.

“What is it to be to-day?” asked Bob, as they went out from the mess hall. “Do we hike or shoot?”

“Hand grenade practice,” answered Jerry.

“Good!” exclaimed Ned.

There was a fascination in hurling the lemon-shaped projectiles from trenches, and watching them blow up the earth and stones beyond, where some Germans were supposed to be hiding.

Hand grenades are of several kinds. That used at Camp Dixton was a variation of the Mills bomb, consisting of a hollow metal container, shaped like a lemon, but somewhat larger. It is made of cast iron and is crisscrossed and scored with a number of depressed cuts, which divide the surface of the grenade into lozenge-like sections. The grenade is filled with a powerful explosive, set off by a time fuse, and when the bomb detonates it bursts into pieces, along the scored lines, and the hundreds of lozenge-like pieces of iron become so many bullets, flying in all directions.

The hand grenade is thrown with a motion such as a cricketer uses in “bowling” the ball. It is an overhand style of throwing, and this has been found best for accuracy and does not tire the arm[221] as much as a straight throw. The arm is held stiff as the bomb is hurled.

The time fuse can be set to explode the bomb as it reaches the other trench, or it may be made to explode in mid-air, and, also, the detonation can be made to take place after the bomb has landed.

As long as the bomb is held in the hand it is harmless, for the fingers press down on an outside lever that controls the firing mechanism. But as soon as this hold is released, after the bomb has been made ready for firing, it is likely to explode. Consequently after a bomb has been hurled away from one, it is a good thing to keep one’s distance from it.

“Lively work now, boys!” called the captain, as Ned, Bob and Jerry, with their chums, entered the trench for the hand grenade work. “Just imagine there are a lot of Germans in that other trench who need extermination.”

The practice began, and for a time one would have thought a real battle was in progress, so rapid were the explosions of the grenades. A short distance down the trench, in which the Cresville friends were, stood Pug Kennedy. They had seen little of him during the last few days, as, owing to an infraction of the rules, he had spent some time in the guardhouse. But now he was out.


“This way of throwing these lemons makes me tired!” exclaimed Pug. “Why can’t I throw one like a baseball? I can make a better hit that way, and I’m going to.”

Before any of his comrades could tell him not to disobey orders this way, Pug suddenly threw a bomb. In making the underhand toss, his elbow struck the edge of the trench, the grenade left his hand and fell a few feet away, directly in front of a line of soldiers crouched in the depression.

“Now look what you did!” yelled the corporal in charge of Pug’s squad. “That’ll go off in a second or two!”

“Heads down, every one!” cried a lieutenant who had seen what had happened.

The bomb, with the fuse set to explode it in a short time, lay on the ground just outside the trench that was filled with young soldiers. Pug’s recklessness had endangered all their lives.



There had been several accidents in camp, and just before Jerry, Bob and Ned had arrived two men had been killed by the premature explosion of a hand grenade. It was no wonder then, that, as the young soldiers saw the instrument of death so near them, and realized that in another moment the missiles might be hurled among them, fear clutched their hearts.

“Down! Down!” shouted the lieutenant again, running along the wide trench, in crouching fashion, to see that his command was enforced. “Get down, every one!”

Only in this way could danger be in a measure averted, and yet the explosion, so near at hand, might cave in the trench, burying the boys.

Not more than a second or two had passed since Pug, by his recklessness, had created the danger, and yet it seemed like hours to some, as they gazed with fascinated eyes at the bomb so near them. It needed only a fraction more of time to bring about the explosion.


And yet in that fraction Jerry Hopkins acted. Before any one was aware of his intention he had leaped up on the firing step of the trench, and was out, with a shovel in his hand.

“What are you going to do?” yelled the lieutenant. “Come back! You’ll be killed! That bomb’s going off!”

Jerry did not stop to answer. There was no time. Neither was there time to argue over disobeying one’s superior officer. Jerry knew he had to act quickly, and he did.

With one scoop of his shovel he picked the grenade up in it, and, with the same motion, he sent the deadly missile hurtling over toward the other trench, in which there were no soldiers stationed.

With all his strength, and as far as he could, Jerry hurled the grenade, and it had no sooner landed in the other trench, far enough away to be harmless to the practicing squad, than it exploded. Up in the air flew a shower of earth and stones, a few particles reaching Jerry, who was out of the trench, and some distance in advance of it.

For a moment after the echoes of the explosion died away there was silence, and then came a ringing and spontaneous cheer. The soldier lads realized that Jerry had saved the lives of some of them, and had prevented many from severe injury.


“Great work, my boy! Well done!” cried the lieutenant, as Jerry dropped back into the trench, and the officer shook hands with the tall lad.

“It was the only thing to do, that I could see,” Jerry explained. “I didn’t want to pick the grenade up in my hand, but I thought I could swing it out of the way with the shovel.”

“And you certainly did,” the lieutenant said. “As for you, Kennedy, I saw how you threw that bomb. It was against orders. You have been told to use the overhand swing, and because you did not you dropped the grenade too close to the trench. It was a violation of orders and a serious one. You may consider yourself under arrest.”

Pug received only what was due him, but the look he gave Jerry told that lad he might look for some retaliation on the part of the bully.

“I wish they’d put him out of the army, or at least transfer him to some other company,” said Bob, when the practice was over. “He does nothing but make trouble for us!”

And it did seem so, from the very beginning.

Jerry’s action was officially noted, and he received public commendation from the captain for his quick work in getting the grenade out of the way.

Jerry’s action later received a more substantial recognition than mere words, for he was made a corporal, being the first of the trio to gain promotion.[226] But Ned and Bob were glad, not jealous.

“Corporal, we salute you!” exclaimed Bob, when Jerry was made a non-commissioned officer, and Chunky and Ned formally gave Jerry the recognition due him.

“Oh, cut it out!” advised Jerry—unofficially. “I’m not going to be any different.”

But Jerry found that he had to be just a little different. He was given charge of a squad of seven men, including Bob and Ned, much to the delight of the latter, and the young officer was supposed to look after their welfare, in a way, and also instruct them.

“Well, I’m glad Pug Kennedy isn’t any longer in our squad,” Jerry said. “We can sort of keep to ourselves now.”

As marching, next to actually firing shots at the enemy, forms the principal work of a soldier, there were many drills devoted to this work. The uses of the different formations were explained to the lads, and they were put through many evolutions which seemed tiresome in themselves, but which had certain objects in view.

Of course, on the battlefield, there is little chance for such marching as is done on the drill ground. But there is always distance to go, and sometimes in the quickest possible time, so the soldiers must be hardened to marching under the most adverse circumstances.


To this end many hikes, or practice marches, were held. Sometimes the whole regiment, sometimes only certain companies, and again only a squad would be sent out.

It was one day, about two weeks after his promotion, that Corporal Jerry Hopkins was ordered to take his squad out for an all-day hike through the country. They were to take their rations with them, and spend the day marching about.

It was not an aimless march, though, for it had an object. Jerry was ordered to bring back a map of the route he took, marking the location of houses, barns, wells, places where fodder might be had for horses, sustenance for men, and the location of the roads.

This work is constantly being done by the army, so that the military officials will have complete information about every part of our big country, not only for use in times of peace, but in time of war, should we ever be invaded by a foreign foe.

Behold then, early one morning, Ned, Bob and Jerry, the latter in command, with four other men, ready for the practice hike.

“You will use your discretion, Corporal,” Captain Trainer had said to Jerry. “If an emergency occurs, and you have to remain out all night, seek the best shelter you can. You have your dog tents, and you have rations enough until after breakfast to-morrow. If you should need more[228] you are empowered to requisition them, giving a proper receipt for them, payment to be made later.”

“Yes, sir!”

Jerry saluted and marched his men down the road, not a little proud of his mission.

There was nothing remarkable about the hike. Hundreds of other squads had done the same thing, and had brought back good maps. Jerry wanted to do the same.

Everything went well. They reached their objective, had supper, and camped for the night. And then their troubles began. For no sooner were they snug in their shelter tents than a violent storm came up, with thunder and lightning, and two of the tents, low as they were, blew over.

“Say, this is fierce!” exclaimed Bob, for the tent he and Ned were under had gone down. “Can’t we find some other shelter?”

Jerry came out into the storm and darkness to look about. He realized that he was responsible for the comfort of his men.



If there is one thing more than another which makes life in camp, whether it be in the army or merely a pleasure excursion in the woods, most miserable, it is rain. Snow does not seem so bad, but a soaking rain seems not only to wet one through literally, but also mentally. It depresses the spirits, though, in itself, a good rain is a blessing.

“I say, Corporal!” called Charles Hatton, one of the recruits out with the hiking squad. “There’s an old barn not far off. I’ll be washed away soon. We could go into that shack out of the rain, I should think.”

“I should think so, too,” agreed Jerry. “We’ll do it. I didn’t suppose the storm would be as bad as this, or we’d have gone into the barn in the first place. However, it isn’t too late, except that we’re already wet through.”

“But we can dry out in there, and have a good night’s sleep,” said Bob, who loved his creature comforts, including sleeping and eating.


Jerry gave the necessary orders. The dog tents were struck, those that had blown down were recovered and, carrying their packs, the boys made a rush through the storm for a somewhat dilapidated and seemingly deserted barn which stood in a field, not far from the spot where camp had first been made.

“Well, this is something like!” exclaimed Ned, as they entered the structure. The swinging doors, sagging on their hinges, had not been locked, but, even if they had been, Jerry felt he would have been justified in breaking them open, agreeing to pay for the damage done, as he was authorized to do.

“Well, there’s some hay I’m going to hit, as soon as I get dried out a bit,” declared Bob, as he flashed his electric light on the mow. It was not full, but enough hay remained to make a good bed for the tired soldiers.

They had eaten their supper, and there was nothing to do but to stretch out and wait for morning, when they would be warmed by hot coffee which they could make for themselves. They carried a little solidified-alcohol stove for this purpose.

The boys took off some of their wet garments and spread them out to dry. Then they laid their blankets on the hay and prepared for a better[231] night’s rest than would have been possible under the tents, even if it had not rained.

“This is something like,” said Ned, as Jerry went to see that the doors were fastened, for, in a measure, he was responsible for the safety of the property of whoever owned the old barn.

It was a very old one, and there seemed to be no house near it, but then the boys could not see very well in the storm and the darkness, and they were in a rolling country, so that the farmhouse might have been down in one of the many hollows surrounding the barn.

The building leaked in places, and two of the young volunteers had to move their blankets after they had spread them out, to avoid streams of water that trickled down on them. But at last all were settled and ready for the night’s repose.

There was no need of posting a sentry, so each one had his full rest. Jerry fell asleep with the others. How long he slumbered he did not know, but he was suddenly awakened by hearing, almost directly under him, the sound of voices.

Though he awoke, Jerry did not immediately get up to see who it was. He was not yet fully aroused. At first he thought it might be some of his own squad, who had found themselves unable to sleep, and who hoped to pass away the hours of the night in talk.

“But that won’t do,” thought Jerry. “If they[232] want to gas they’ve got to go somewhere else. We want to sleep.”

However, as he became more thoroughly awake, and listened more intently to the talk, he realized that it was none of his friends.

The voices were those of men—three of them, evidently, to judge by the different intonations—and they rose and fell in varying accents, the murmur now becoming loud and again soft. And the men seemed very much in earnest.

Jerry and his chums were sleeping in what had been the hay-mow, but the mow was a double one. That is, there was a platform, built up about ten feet above the barn floor, and this platform, the floor of which was of closely-laid poles, served to support the hay, of which there was still quite a layer there.

Below this was an open space, in which there was some straw. It was a double mow, in other words, the upper part used for hay and the lower for straw. In front of the two mows was an open space, forming the main floor of the barn, on which stood some wagons and farm machinery, and on the other side of this was another big mow, used evidently for the storage of only one kind of farm produce, since it was not divided.

Unrolling himself from his blankets, and making as little disturbance as possible in this operation, Jerry made his way to the edge of the mow[233] and looked down. It was ten feet to the barn floor, and there was a ladder at one side, up which the boys had climbed.

Down below him, seated around a lantern, the glow of which was dimmed by an old coat wrapped about it, Jerry saw three ragged and drenched men.

“Tramps!” was his instant thought. “They came in here just as we did, to get out of the rain.”

The rain was still coming down in torrents, as evidenced by the rattle on the barn roof, and Jerry was about to crawl back and go to sleep again, reasoning that the tramps had as much right in the barn as had he and his squad, when something happened to make him change his plans.

One of the men by a quick motion accidentally disturbed the coat shrouding the lantern, and a bright gleam shot out at one side. This gleam revealed something that made Jerry start and catch his breath.

“Crooked Nose!” he exclaimed in a whisper, as he stared at one of the three men gathered about the lantern. “There’s old Crooked Nose! And this time we ought to catch him, sure!”

For a daring plan had instantly occurred to Jerry. He and his chums could make prisoners of the three men, including the mysterious one who had been seen in Cresville the night of the[234] fire. Of course, in a way, it was taking a risk, not only of bodily harm, but also because the young soldiers had no right to detain the men, against only one of whom was there any suspicion, and but slight suspicion at that.

“But we’ve got to get ’em and see what it all means,” decided Jerry. “I wish I had a little more evidence to go on, though, and I wish I knew who those other two were.”

“Easy with the light there,” growled the man with the crooked nose, as he replaced the coat his companion had dislodged. “Do you want to bring the farmer and his dogs down on us?”

“Nobody’ll be out such a night,” was the answer. “You’re too much afraid. Freitlach!”

“Shut up!” exclaimed the other. “Didn’t I tell you not to use that name? Don’t use any names.”

“Aw, don’t be so afraid!” taunted the third man—the one who had his back toward Jerry. “You’re nervous.”

“And so would you be if you’d done what I have. If they catch me—” and the man with the crooked nose looked apprehensively over his shoulder into the dark shadows of the barn.

“That’s it; he’s too much afraid,” said the man with his back toward Jerry. “He’s always afraid!”

“He’s afraid of too much,” sneered the man who had displaced the coat. “He’s afraid to[235] give us our share of the swag, and I want mine, too. I’m tired of waiting. I want to have a settlement and get out. That’s what I told you when we met to-night, and that’s what I’m going to have. I’ve starved and begged long enough. Now I want my share!” and he banged his fist on the loose boards of the barn floor, close to the lantern, setting it to swaying so that the man with the crooked nose exclaimed:

“Stop, you idiot! Do you want to set the place on fire?”

“Well, it wouldn’t be the first place we’ve burned,” declared the other, but the words died on his lips as the other struck him across the mouth.

“What does that mean?” demanded the man who had roused the ire of the one with the crooked nose.

“It means to keep still! Do you want to blow the whole thing?”

“Might as well!” was the sullen answer. “I want my share. I don’t care what happens after that. I’m going to skip out. I s’pose you’re going to stay, Smelzer, until——”

“Never mind about me,” growled the man whose face Jerry could not see. “Pug and I have some plans of our own. They’ve been busted up some, but I guess we can carry ’em out somehow.”

“Well, I want my share,” went on the other,[236] speaking to the one with the mis-shapen nose. “I need the coin, and I’m going to have it. I did my share of the work, and I want my share of the swag. When you got me in on the scheme, Freit——”

“What’d I tell you about names?” fiercely demanded the crooked-nosed man.

“Well, when you got me in on the scheme you said the Frenchman had a pot of money, and a lot of jewelry, too.”

“So he did have!” declared Crooked Nose. “I got part of it. I admitted that. But the biggest part is there yet. It may be in the ruins of the fire——”

“Yes, the fire I set to give you a chance to get the coin!” broke in the other. “Now I’m tired of fooling. Either I get half the money you got from the old Frenchman, or I’ll go back to Cresville and see what I can find in the fire ruins! I’m going to get something for the risk I took. Give me half the money you got from the old man the night of the fire, or I’ll squeal! That’s my last word!”



Jerry Hopkins, lying in the haymow and looking down at the men and listening to them, could hardly believe his senses. At last it was all clear to him. Before him was the crooked-nosed man who had been seen in Cresville the night of the tenement house fire. And now, by his own admission, there was the man who had set the blaze so the robbery could be carried out with less fear of detection. As to the third man, Jerry did not know what to think. His mention of “Pug” seemed to link him with the bully, Kennedy, but this yet remained to be proved.

“Anyhow, I’m sure of one thing,” decided Jerry, as he looked back into the dark mow, and could detect no movement that would indicate his chums were awake. “Crooked Nose is the man who robbed old Mr. Cardon, and the other chap is the one who set the fire. They’re both guilty by their own admission. But where is his other money if these fellows didn’t get it? And the brooch and the watch? I wonder if they could be in the ruins?”


Jerry was thinking quickly. There was much to do if he hoped to capture the three men and fasten their crimes on them. First he must awaken some of his companions, and let them listen to the incriminating talk.

Jerry crawled to where his two friends were sleeping. He first awakened Ned, and clapped a hand over his mouth to silence any sudden exclamation of surprise.

“What is it?” Ned demanded.

“Crooked Nose!” whispered Jerry. “Keep still! I think we have them!”

Bob was harder to arouse, and inclined to make more noise, but at length the three motor boys, leaving the other soldiers sleeping in the hay, had crawled to the edge of the mow and were looking down on the three men gathered about the shaded lantern. The discussion was still going on.

“Why don’t you wait?” begged the crooked-nosed man, who had given his name to Mr. Martin as Jim Waydell. “Why do you want to spoil things now?” and he addressed the fellow who had displaced the coat, which had been adjusted again, however. “Why don’t you wait?”

“Because I’m tired of waiting,” was the growled-out answer. “I want some coin. I set the fire. You robbed the Frenchman. It was fifty-fifty with the risk. Now let it be the same with the coin.”


“But I tell you I haven’t got much coin left,” declared Crooked Nose. “We missed the biggest bunch of it, and what I got——”

“Give me half of what you got then!” growled the other.

“I can’t. I had to spend some——”

“Don’t talk so loud!” warned the man whose face was in the shadow. “First thing you know some one may hear us, and then——” He shrugged his shoulders, as though no words were necessary.

“Great Scott!” whispered Ned to Jerry. “Is it possible we have stumbled on the very men we wanted?”

“More a case of them stumbling in on us,” Jerry answered. “Listen to what they are saying.”

It was the same argument over again, one man demanding money and the other trying to pacify him without giving it.

“What are we going to do?” whispered Ned.

“Get ’em, of course,” Jerry replied in the same low voice. “Do you think we three can manage them alone—each one take a man?”

“Sure!” declared Ned. He and his chums were in excellent physical condition, thanks to their army training.

“Well, then let’s jump on ’em. Take ’em by surprise,” advised the tall lad. “We can slide[240] down from the hay and grab ’em before they know what’s up. We’ve heard enough to convict them now. It was the very evidence we needed.”

“Better wake up the other fellows so they can stand by us in case of trouble,” advised Bob, and this was decided on. While the two men were still disputing, and their companion waited, Ned, Bob and Jerry silently roused their sleeping comrades, briefly telling them what the situation was.

“We’ll slide down and grab ’em,” said Jerry. “They don’t appear to be armed, but if they are we’ll take ’em by surprise before they can get their guns. You stand by with your rifles, fellows. I guess the sight of the guns will be all that’s needed. All ready now?” he asked Ned and Bob in a whisper.


“All ready!”

The boys had drawn back to the far end of the haymow to make their plans, so their whispers would not penetrate to the ears of the men. But there was little danger of this, as the storm outside was making too much noise.

The three chums from Cresville now worked their way to the edge of the haymow. The men were still below them, Crooked Nose and his companion angrily arguing, while the other man had risen. For the first time Jerry and his chums had a glimpse of the face.


“I’ve seen him somewhere before,” decided Jerry.

But there was no time then for such speculation. The men must be caught.

Poised on the very edge of the haymow, Jerry and his chums waited a moment. They were going to jump down the ten feet and rush at the men. There was a litter of straw below them which would break the force of their leap.

“Go!” suddenly whispered Jerry.

Three bodies shot over the edge of the haymow, landing with a thud on the barn floor. The men, hearing the noise and feeling the concussion, turned quickly. A sudden motion of one again displaced the coat over the lantern, so that the scene was well lighted.

“They’ve got us!” yelled Crooked Nose, and he made a rush, but Jerry Hopkins caught him in his long arms.

“Get out the way!” shouted the man who had been begging for a division of the spoils, as he headed for Ned like a football player trying to avoid a tackle. But Ned was used to such tactics. He downed his man hard, the thud shaking the barn.

Bob did not have such luck. His man crashed full into him, knocked Bob to one side and then disappeared in some dark recess of the barn.[242] Chunky, somewhat dazed, rose slowly and tried to follow.

Meanwhile Jerry and Ned were struggling with the two men they had caught. The outcome was in doubt, for the prisoners were desperate. But the advent of the other soldiers sliding down from the haymow with rifles ready for use, soon settled the matter.

“Surrender!” sharply ordered Jerry.

“Guess we’ll have to,” sullenly agreed the crooked-nosed man.

“Now find the other fellow,” Jerry ordered, when the men had been tied with ropes, which had been found in the barn.

But this was more easily said than done. Using the lantern and their electric searchlights the boys hunted through the barn, but the third man was not to be found.

“He got away,” said Bob regretfully.

“Oh, don’t worry,” returned Jerry consolingly. “We got the two main ones, anyhow. And maybe these fellows will have something on them to tell who the other fellow was.”

The prisoners did not answer, but they looked uncomfortable.

“Well, this is a good night’s work,” declared Jerry, when he and his chums had a chance to talk matters over. “We’ve got the robber and the firebug, and I guess we can help get back most[243] of the Frenchman’s money and maybe the gold watch and the diamond brooch. They are back in the fire ruins, I imagine.”

By turns Ned, Bob and Jerry explained to their companions the reason for capturing Crooked Nose and the other man, relating the story of the fire in Cresville some months back.

There was little sleep for any one the rest of that night. A guard was posted over the two prisoners, when a search had failed to reveal the missing third man, and in the morning, after a hasty breakfast in the old barn, the march back to camp was made. The storm was over.

There was some surprise when Jerry and his chums returned with their prisoners. Captain Trainer, when he heard the story, had the men locked up in the guardhouse until the civil authorities could be communicated with, as the crime was not a military one.

And, a little later, Hans Freitlach, alias Jim Waydell, the crooked-nosed man, and Fritz Lebhach, his companion, were safely in jail, and some papers found on them disclosed their real identity.

They were German spies, being members of a band that had for its object the destruction of munition plants and warehouses and factories, where war goods for our government and the Allies were being stored and made. They had set a number[244] of fires, it was learned afterward, though the one in Cresville had been a personal matter, designed to get hold of the old Frenchman’s money. After that crime Freitlach and Lebhach had fled, agreeing to meet later in the South, as they did, much to their own discomfort.

“And who do you think that other man was—the one that bowled Bob over?” asked Jerry, rushing excitedly up to his chums a few days after the men had been sent to Cresville to await trial.

“Haven’t an idea, unless he was some football star,” Chunky ruefully answered, remembering his failure to tackle.

“He was Pug Kennedy’s step-father!” was the unexpected information Jerry gave.

“Pug Kennedy’s step-father!” exclaimed Ned and Bob.

“Yes. His name is Meyer, and he’s another German spy, and so is Pug. Meyer masqueraded as an Irishman, for he had been pals with an Irish prize-fighter for some years.”

“And was it his father Pug sneaked out to meet at night?” asked Ned.

“Yes,” answered Jerry. “Since Pug has deserted the whole story has come out. His father was another spy, and his particular work was to make trouble in camps—set fire to storehouses, quartermasters’ depots and the like. Pug was going to help him, and that’s why he enlisted—the[245] rotten traitor! But he’s gone, and the Secret Service men hope to catch them both.”

A week later came back word from Cresville that filled the young soldiers with keen satisfaction. The ashes of the tenement house fire had been thoroughly searched and an iron box belonging to the French engraver had been recovered. It contained a large part of the old man’s money and also Mr. Baker’s gold watch.

“I’m glad dad has his watch back,” said Bob. “But what about the diamond brooch belonging to Jerry’s mother?”

“Maybe they’ll get that later,” said Jerry hopefully.

And they did, although not in the manner expected. The doings of the crooked-nosed man were minutely investigated, and it was finally learned where he had left the brooch with a pawn-broker for a small amount—thinking to get it out of pawn later on and sell it, when it might be safe to do so. The authorities took charge of the valuable piece of jewelry, and it was finally turned over to Mrs. Hopkins, much to her delight.

The thief and the firebug received long terms in state’s prison—terms which were richly deserved.

As for Pug, the military authorities made a search for him after his desertion, which followed[246] the capture of the two men, but he was not found. It was surmised that his step-father got word to him, somehow, after the former’s escape from the barn, that the game was up, and that Pug had better flee. So he did.

The crooked-nosed man and his companion both declared that Pug and his father helped plot the Cresville fire, and wanted to have a share in the proceeds of the robbery. Whether this was true or not could not be learned.

It was learned that Mr. Cardon had, at one time, done some business with Crooked Nose, as it is easier to call him than using one of his many false names. But the unscrupulous one had cheated the Frenchman, and then, later, using the knowledge he had of his wealth and habits, had tried to rob him, getting a confederate to set the fire. The men had gone South after the Cresville crimes because Pug was sent there, and they wanted to keep in touch with him. But, thanks to the activities of Ned, Bob and Jerry, the gang’s operations were successfully broken up.

To the barracks, where Ned, Bob and Jerry were sitting and talking, there penetrated the clear notes of a bugle.

“What’s that—another drill?” asked Ned, starting up.

“The mail has come,” interpreted Jerry.


“Oh, boy!” yelled Bob, making a rush for the door.

A little later all three were reading letters and looking over papers from home.

“Good news, Chunky?” asked Ned, as he saw a smile light up his stout chum’s face.

“Surest thing you know!” was the answer. “Helena writes to say that her father has changed his views, and that they’re both real Americans now. She says she likes me better than ever for being in the army and—— Oh, I didn’t mean to read that!” and Bob blushed. “It was something about the Red Cross I was going to tell you.”

“Go to it, Bob!” laughed Jerry. “Helena’s all right!”

It was that evening, in the free period between the last mess and taps, that a cheering was heard in a distant part of the camp.

“What’s that?” asked Jerry of his two friends.

“Maybe they’ve caught Pug Kennedy,” suggested Ned.

“I hope it’s better news than that,” Jerry remarked.

“It is,” Bob informed them, when he came back from a hasty trip of inquiry. “We’ve received orders to move.”

“Move? Move where?”

“Over there!”

A cheer from his chums interrupted Bob’s[248] words, and for some time there was such confusion that any connected story of it was out of the question.

But those of you who wish to follow the further fortunes of Ned, Bob and Jerry may read of other adventures that befell them in the next volume of this series entitled, “The Motor Boys on the Firing Line, or, Ned, Bob and Jerry Fighting for Uncle Sam.”

“Well, we put in quite a summer, didn’t we?” observed Jerry to his chums one day, as they came back from a practice hike. “We had some lively times.”

“And we may have more,” added Ned. “I just had a letter from Professor Snodgrass. He says he’s coming on another bug-hunting trip. I’m going to tell the captain to warn the sentries not to shoot when they see a bald head.”

“That’s the idea!” laughed Jerry. And while the motor boys are talking over their various adventures we will take leave of them.




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True-to-life stories of the camp and field in the great war.

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Mr. Chadwick has played on the diamond and on the gridiron himself.

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Lively stories of outdoor sports and adventure every boy will want to read.

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Transcriber’s Notes:

A List of Illustrations has been provided for the convenience of the reader.

Punctuation and spelling inaccuracies were silently corrected.

Archaic and variable spelling has been preserved.

Variations in hyphenation and compound words have been preserved.

The author’s em-dash and long dash styles have been retained.