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Title: Under Fire For Servia

Author: James Fiske

Illustrator: E. A. Furman

Release date: August 21, 2010 [eBook #33480]

Language: English

Credits: Produced by Chris Curnow, Michael, Mary Meehan and the
Online Distributed Proofreading Team at


Under Fire For Servia

World's War Series, Volume 4

By Colonel James Fiske

Illustrated by E. A. FURMAN


Copyright, 1915
By The Saalfield Publishing Co.

In a moment they were alone in the heavens, racing toward Servia.


CHAPTER I. Dick Makes a Friend
CHAPTER II. A Surprising Offer
CHAPTER III. The Police Raid
CHAPTER IV. The Refuge
CHAPTER V. Under Fire
CHAPTER VI. Across the Save
CHAPTER VII. The Wounded Captain
CHAPTER IX. Back to Semlin
CHAPTER X. A Daring Decision
CHAPTER XI. Craft against Craft
CHAPTER XII. In the Nick of Time
CHAPTER XIII. Face to Face
CHAPTER XIV. The Explosion
CHAPTER XV. The Tables Turned
CHAPTER XVII. Between the Lines
CHAPTER XIX. Hallo's Last Card


Under Fire For Servia



The American consul in the small but highly important city of Semlin, in Hungary, was a busy man. He was probably one of the first men in the world who knew how great was the danger of war between Austria-Hungary and the little kingdom of Servia after the assassination of the heir to the Austrian throne in the summer of 1914. Now, since the Austrian ultimatum to Servia had aroused all Europe to the peril, refugees had doubled the consul's work. All the Americans in Servia, and there had been quite a number there that summer, seemed to be pouring through Semlin. Indeed, all the Americans gathered there from all the Balkan states, and from Turkey as well, since the great trunk railway, the famous Orient line, crossed the Save river at Belgrade, and Semlin was therefore a border town, where in many cases passports had to be examined.

So it was a hard matter for any stranger to see the consul in person unless he could prove that his business was of the greatest importance. His office force did all it could to give him the time he needed to catch up with his duties, but on a sunny morning late in July there came a visitor who refused to be put off. The consul heard him as he sat at his desk, writing frantically.

"I tell you I've got to see him!" That was what the consul heard, in a voice that caused him to sit straight in his chair in astonishment. For the voice was that of an American boy. Clear, penetrating, self-reliant, it rang out like a call from home. The consul smiled and touched a bell on his desk. And a minute later Dick Warner faced him, bearing out what his voice had already told about him.

"You want to see me?" said the consul. "Well, sir, what can I do for you? Lost your folks? Want money to get home? Something like that, eh?" a note of condescension in his voice.

"No, sir. I just want to get permission to stay here in Semlin. The police say that I'm English, and that I'll have to go away. But that's because Mike Hallo has a pull."

"Michael Hallo, the great merchant?" the consul frowned.

"I don't know anything about his being a great merchant, sir, but I know that he's a great crook! I've chased him here from New York, and now that I've found him, I'm not going to let him frighten me into going away before he makes good!"

"Tell me about this, my boy," said the consul. "It sounds as if it should be interesting."

"That's what I want to do, sir. My name's Dick Warner, and my father's dead. He and Mike Hallo were partners in New York, and they had a good business. We always had lots of money until my father died. Then, right away after that, Mike Hallo said the business began to go wrong and lost money. And, after a while, it got so bad, he said, that it had to be closed down, and there wasn't any more money coming in. He sold out, and gave my mother a little money and said he was going home."

"That might have happened," said the consul.

"Sure—only it didn't, you see! My mother was soft, and she believed everything Mike Hallo told her. And I wasn't old enough to know anything about it. So he got away with it all right, and went home. But then we began to find things out. We found that the business hadn't been losing money at all, and that he hadn't really sold it. He had another crook running it, and sending him all the profits, only the law couldn't do anything about that, because there'd been a sort of fake sale, and they said this other man had bought it legally. Do you see how that could be, sir?"

"Yes, very easily. I'd have to know more about the facts to understand it properly, but I can understand that it's possible."

"I thought you would, sir. Well, that was how it was. We knew he'd cheated us. A lawyer that was a friend of my dad's said he thought Mike Hallo would still be away ahead of the game, even if he paid my mother a hundred thousand dollars, or perhaps a hundred and fifty thousand! And we—why, my mother's got about five hundred a year left to look after herself and my little sister, and we used to have ever so much when dad was alive! So I just came over here to find Mike and try to make him come through."

"Good for you!" exclaimed the consul, carried away for the moment. But then he frowned thoughtfully. "Look here, Dick, I believe your story, right through. You're not the sort of boy that would get things twisted. But if you couldn't make Hallo disgorge in New York, how can you hope to do it here, where he has all sorts of influence—pull, as you call it? And how did you get here, anyway? It costs money to travel from New York to Semlin."

"I had a good job, and saved up my money, sir. And then I worked my way across the ocean as a steward. I'd studied languages a good deal, too, and I got another job then, traveling with a rich family that wanted to have someone to buy tickets and tell how much things cost in the shops, so that they wouldn't get cheated. I came as far as Buda-Pesth with them, and then they paid my way to Belgrade so that I could reserve rooms for them there. You see, I can talk German and Magyar and Servian and Russian, as well as French and English and Italian."

"For heaven's sake!" said the consul, in amazement. "My boy, I'm not so sure that you won't be able to give Hallo a bad time, after all! You must have a gift of tongues. I don't know half the languages you do, and I'm supposed to, too, in my work."

"Oh, I've always been pretty good at languages, sir. And if you like to know how to talk other languages, you can find people that speak them all in New York. I know a little Turkish, too—not so very much, but enough to get along. And I forgot about the Greek."

The consul roared with laughter.

"By George!" he said. "I'll back you to make it hot for Hallo!" But then he grew more serious. "I don't know, though," he went on. "You're in hard luck, Dick. In ordinary times I think you'd have a good chance. But these aren't ordinary times. Come here!"

He led the way to the window. From it they could see the broad Danube, the great, sluggish river that was wending its slow way to the Black Sea, and the narrower, cleaner Save, directly before them, which flowed into the bigger stream here and lost its own identity. Across the Save was a steel bridge, over which a train was now running. And at the other end of the bridge was a city of white houses, with minarets and spires, and on top of a high, flat topped hill stood an old, white fortress.

"Look there, above the bridge," he said. "Do you see that monitor?"

"Yes, sir. And there are two more out in the Danube."

"Exactly! Well, at any moment those monitors may begin bombarding Belgrade, the capital of Servia. I don't know at what moment war will break out, but I know that it won't be delayed very long."

"It won't be much of a war, will it, sir?" asked Dick. "Servia's too small to have a chance with Austria-Hungary, I thought."

"Maybe. But you must remember that Servia has just been through two great wars. She smashed the Turks in her great battles with them, and then she smashed the Bulgarians, who had beaten the Turks too, and were supposed to have the most efficient army of its size in all Europe. You see, the Servian army has been doing a lot of fighting in these last few years. Every man in it is a veteran, and knows just what war is. A man like that is worth more than one who has to get used to the idea of a campaign, and has never been under fire. And—maybe Austria wouldn't have to fight Servia alone."

Dick stared at him.

"Maybe Russia will help Servia. I think she will. Then all of Europe will get into the war, sooner or later. If Austria has to fight Russia on the other side, she won't be able to spare her whole army or anything like it to fight Servia. And three hundred thousand Servians won't be beaten by that many Austrians, I can tell you!"

"Well, but I don't see what that's got to do with Hallo, after all, sir. He's not a soldier, is he?"

"No. He's past the age of military service. But this is what it will mean, Dick. In time of war ordinary affairs can't be attended to the way they are in times of peace. Even legal, admitted debts, that a man is perfectly willing to pay, can't be collected. Special laws and rules are made, just for war. It would make it much easier for Hallo to dodge you. And he has a pull, as you say."

"Yes, but so have you, haven't you, sir?"

"I hope so," said the consul, with a smile. "Of a different sort from his, too. But I'm afraid it isn't the sort that can help you very much just now, Dick. Still, we'd better do what we can. You want to stay here. Have you got a passport? It would simplify matters for you."

"No, sir. They told me at home I didn't need it."

"That's what they are always saying," said the consul, looking annoyed. "They never seem to understand, at home, that Europe isn't just like America. Here war is likely to break out at any moment, and then a passport is a necessity. It's been that way for years. Still, I suppose you've got some sort of proof that you're an American citizen? Your birth certificate or something of the sort?"

"No, sir, I'm afraid I haven't. I haven't got anything except my Boy Scout certificate."

"Let me see that."

Dick produced, rather proudly, the pocket card that showed him to be a first-class scout, a member of a star patrol of a good New York troop, and recorded his many honor badges.

"This is fine," said the consul, returning it. "But it doesn't prove that you're an American, my boy."

Dick looked at him in dismay.

"But you believe that I am, don't you, sir?"

"I certainly do! There isn't a boy of any other country in the world that could have come here as you have done! But what I believe doesn't count. If Hallo is trying to have you expelled, I'd have to be able to prove definitely that you were an American, instead of just saying that I believed it. In ordinary times—but, as I've told you already, these aren't ordinary times. And I know a little something about this Hallo. I've had trouble with him myself."

"You have, sir?"

"Yes. He exports things to America, and it's part of my duty to certify to values and so on, for the customs. I've thought once or twice that he was trying to cheat. I'm sure of this—that his pull is mighty strong. But I tell you what I'll do. I'll cable for proofs of your identity. Your scoutmaster should be able to get them. We'll hope Hallo won't hurry too much. Now be off, but come back at six, and we'll have dinner together."



Plucky and self-reliant as Dick Warner really was, he felt a good deal better when he emerged from Consul Denniston's office than when he had been trying to get by the barrier of clerks fifteen minutes earlier. Then he had been a good many thousand miles from home, and not only friendless in a strange and alien country, but possessed of a determined and unscrupulous enemy as well. He had told only the truth about Hallo, but he did not know everything, by any means, about the rich Hungarian who had cheated his widowed mother.

He had not been very long in Semlin, however, without making the discovery that here, in the old Hungarian town that faced the capital of Servia across the river Save, Mike Hallo was a far more important person than he had ever been in New York. The firm of Warner and Hallo had been a good, sound one in New York, and both partners had been comfortably well off. But in Semlin means that had not seemed very great in New York made a man the equivalent of a millionaire in America. Hallo lived in one of the finest houses of the city, and seemed to be looked up to and respected.

"Gee!" Dick had said to himself. "They seem to think as much of him here as people in New York do of J. P. Morgan or Andy Carnegie!"

Dick was boarding in Semlin. The extravagance of a hotel, he felt, was not for him. He had a considerable sum of money, which he always carried with him, in gold, wrapped in a belt, which never left him, but he knew this money might have to last him a long time, and if he could help it he was certainly not going to have to seek charity to get home. He wanted to paddle his own canoe; that was his favorite motto.

Dick hadn't seen Mike Hallo, to speak to him, since he had come to Semlin. He had seen him at a distance when Mike had been driving in an open carriage, and Mike had seen him, too. Dick had caught the flush on the sallow cheeks, and the look of hate that had sprung into his father's partner's narrow, beady eyes. Oh, yes, Mike knew he was in Semlin! And Dick did not underestimate the man's cleverness. It was just as sure as it could be that Hallo understood very well why he had come and what he hoped to do. Dick had tried to follow Mike's thoughts, too.

"He's a crook—he cheated my mother," Dick had said to himself. "And any man who would do a thing like that has got a yellow streak in him a mile wide. So it's a cinch he's afraid of me. He may think I can't do anything to hurt him, and all that, but he won't take any chances if he can help it, because he's a coward. He'll know he's in the wrong, even if he thinks he's got the law fixed, so that he couldn't be pinched, even if he went back to New York. But down at bottom, just because he himself knows that he's in the wrong, he'll be afraid. And he'll hate me, too, because he's done me an injury."

As a matter of fact, that was good reasoning, and showed that Dick had it in him to become a good judge of human nature. A man's worst enemy is always the one to whom he has done the greatest injury. It is much easier to forgive someone who has done one an injury than to retain a liking for the person one has hurt or cheated.

That morning, before he had gone to the consulate, the Semlin police had visited Dick. First they had asked for his passport and when he couldn't produce one, had told him that, as an English subject, he must leave the town within twenty-four hours.

"You go tell Mike Hallo I'm not afraid of him, even if he gets the whole Hungarian army after me!" Dick had said.

The policemen had only professed utter ignorance concerning Hallo, but Dick had not been deceived. He had not lived in New York without coming to the conclusion that a man with a great deal of money can command a good many things not at the disposal of ordinary people, and he was perfectly sure that it was Mike Hallo who was behind this sudden activity of the police in Semlin.

"He's a dirty sneak," he said to himself. "But I've got to get busy and call on Uncle Sam to help, or I'm apt to be chased out of here before I get a good crack at Mike. Even if I'm not afraid of him and the whole Hungarian army, it's a cinch that it wouldn't take more than a couple of Hungarian cops to put me on a train and see that I stayed there."

So, if he had not been frightened, Dick had been a good deal worried when he went to the consulate. His travels about Europe had shown him that over here things were allowed that would have been impossible at home, and that there is something more than a pretty line or two of poetry about the verse that sings of the land of the free. There wasn't much freedom, he had long since decided for himself, in countries like Austria and Hungary. Those who had influence with officials, like the police, or with the army, could do very much as they pleased, and those who didn't had to toe the mark whenever anyone in uniform told them to do so whether they liked it or no.

That was why he was able to leave the consulate with a light heart and a song on his lips. He had found a friend, and it seemed to him that a friend was a pretty good thing to have found here on the banks of the Danube, four thousand miles and more from the apartment on Washington Heights where his mother and his little sister, for whose sakes he had made his adventurous journey, were waiting for him. About Consul Denniston, busy as he was, and rather stern though his aspect had been in the beginning, there was something that made Dick feel that he would go through a good deal for the sake of anyone he had decided to befriend. So in the street Dick snapped his fingers at Semlin and the whole Austrian empire.

"That for Mike Hallo!" he said. "Well, I think I'll go and try to see the old boy! Wonder if he'll see me? They can't hang me for trying!"

He knew where Hallo was to be found. His office was in the warehouse that he owned. His trade was largely one with Russia and Roumania. Barges laden with products of all sorts from the interior came consigned to him, and were transshipped here at Semlin to the river steamers and other vessels that went down the Danube toward the sea. And so his warehouse was down by the river, whence an excellent view of the old, mysterious looking city of Belgrade could be had. Dick knew something of history, and he remembered that for centuries the high tide of the Turkish invasion had come as far as this and stopped. Christian and Turk in turn had held Belgrade and Semlin, and great battles had been fought many and many a time on the ground that he now trod.

But he forgot about ancient history when finally he stood outside of Hallo's warehouse. He went in boldly, not asking anyone for directions, until he came to a boy of about his own age on guard outside his own door. This boy took one look at him, and then, to his surprise, spoke to him in English.

"What can I do for you?" he asked, very politely.

"I'd like to see Mr. Hallo," said Dick.

"Right in here," said the other boy. "He's not busy just now."

"He will be, when he sees me," said Dick, and walked in.

Hallo was sitting at a table, looking over some papers. At the sound of Dick's entrance he looked up, and for just a moment Dick saw the same look of mingled fear and hatred in his eyes that he had caught when he had seen him driving. But then that look vanished, and Hallo, with an obvious effort, greeted Dick with the bluff heartiness that Dick remembered so well as his customary manner in the days before his father's death.

"Well, well, Dick Warner! My old friend's son! I am glad to see you, Dick! What brings you here, so far from New York?"

"Business, Mr. Hallo."

"You are starting young, Dick! May I ask what sort of business? And can I help you, or is this just a friendly visit to a man who held you on his knee when you were a baby back in New York?"

"Oh, cut that out, Mr. Hallo!" said Dick, disgusted. "You know mighty well why I'm here. I want to know what you're going to do about the way you cheated my mother. You told her the business in New York had failed, and she believed you. Now are you going to do the right thing?"

"I don't understand, Dick," said Hallo. Plainly he was trying to be very patient, and his whole manner was that of a kindly, genial man assailed by a bad little boy, but determined not to lose his temper. "Your father's estate was settled in the regular way. No one regretted his death more than I. The way things went afterward proved how important he was to the business. I lost a great deal of money in the failure, you know."

"You didn't!" said Dick. "Oh, we've got the goods on you, Mike Hallo! And I'll tell you something, too. Maybe there's nothing I can do to you here. I don't know yet—not until I've hired a lawyer who knows all about the sort of law you have here. But I know this much. You'll be wanting to come back to America sometime—you'll have to, on account of your business. And we've found out enough to fix it so that you'll be arrested the minute you step off the steamer on to American soil!"

This was a pure bluff, but it might be true, at that. What Dick did know was that Hallo had stolen money, and he was sure that, whether the law would make it possible to cause his arrest or not, it ought to make that not only possible, but easy. Beyond question, too, the statement had its effect. Hallo's small eyes were getting smaller and narrower, and though the smile was still on his face, he kept it there with an obvious effort.

"You hurt me, Richard," he said. "I did all I could for your mother. I tried in every possible way to cover up the mistakes your father made before he died—"

"You said just now that if he had lived things would have been all right! You don't want to mix up your stories that way, Mike! It won't sound well when they get you into court and try you!" retorted Dick, his temper quickly rising.

"I see that there is no use in talking to you," said Hallo, looking as if he felt more sorry than angry. "I regret very much that your mother is not so well off as she was once, but it is not my fault, and I am afraid that I am too busy to talk any more to you about this matter until you are in a better frame of mind. How long shall you be in Semlin?"

"You ought to know," said Dick. "How long can I hold out against your pull? If that goes back on you, you've still got the answer. Because I'm going to stay here until you either have me run out of town or come through with a check for the money you stole—and a check that I can get certified at the bank, too, before I take the train."

Hallo tried to look bewildered, and as if he did not understand what Dick meant, but the attempt was a poor one. His anger was rapidly passing all bounds.

"So long!" said Dick. "I'll see you again, Mike. I'll give you a tip, too. You'd better not try any monkey business with me, because Uncle Sam's right on the job. I'm not very important, you know, back in New York, but I'm an American! And I guess they'd just as soon send a gun-boat or two up that big river after me if there wasn't any other way of fixing things."

And on that word Dick turned and left the office. He had accomplished as much and as little as he had expected. He had forced a show-down, so that now matters between him and Hallo had come to a crisis. He had never expected Hallo to yield, of course, until he was forced to do so. In fact, he had done even better than he had hoped. He had expected to have some difficulty in getting speech with the man at all.

The boy who had let him into Hallo's office was waiting for him outside.

"Quick!" he whispered. "I am a friend. Tell me where you live. Perhaps I shall be able to help you—and you will need help!"



The strange boy vanished before Dick could ask him what he meant, and he went on, wondering. His whole manner had been friendly, but it was also puzzling in the extreme. Instinctively Dick had told him where he was staying in Semlin, and then the other had disappeared at once. Dick could make nothing of it.

"Oh, well, it can't make any difference," he said to himself. "He didn't want to know for Mike Hallo, because Mike must know all about where I'm staying, and if he doesn't, he can find out—in a place where the police get the names of everyone who takes a room for a night."

So Dick resolved not to worry about the future, but to have a look around the town. He didn't think much of Semlin. It might be old, but it was not especially interesting. It seemed to him dirty, for one thing, and he didn't like dirt. Belgrade, across the river Save, however, fascinated him. There was something romantic about the great citadel. He knew that it had withstood siege after siege in the olden times, and the fact that it probably wouldn't be used as a fortress at all if war broke out that day didn't detract a bit from the interest of its history.

"Some fort, all right!" he said to himself. "I can just see those old Johnnies trying to rush that hill, in days when men fought hand to hand, instead of laying off a few miles and pounding away at a place with big guns. If they're going to have another scrap here, I hope I'm around to see some of it. I'd like to see a war."

He was to be gratified in that modest wish!

There was one noticeable thing. Semlin was a garrisoned town; a regiment of the Austrian army was always there. But now a great many extra troops were always more or less in evidence. Trains would come in, with soldiers looking out from every window. The men would detrain, march through the town, and disappear. After leaving Hallo's office, Dick saw a full regiment arrive like that, march through the streets, and disappear to the west. Now he stopped and began doing a sum in mental arithmetic.

"Gee!" he said, to himself. "I bet the consul's right! I bet the Austrians do mean to start something! That makes about fifteen thousand men I've seen brought in here just since I've been here. I wonder if the Servians know about it? I should think it would be a pretty good thing for them to have a few people here in Semlin just sort of keeping their eyes open."

Dick did not know to the full how serious the situation was. But then very few people in Semlin did. Here news was being suppressed. At this point, where the border brought masses of Servians and Hungarians into such close contact, it was not considered wise to allow the newspapers to print all they knew. It was understood that Austria had made certain demands, but it did not seem to occur to anyone in Semlin that it was possible for tiny Servia to defy the mighty Austrian empire. But as a matter of fact, the final steps that led to the great war were being taken, and war was already regarded as inevitable by those who, like Consul Denniston, were in a position to know the truth.

The consul had told him to come back for dinner at six o'clock, and so Dick had a good deal of time to kill. He determined, therefore, to go across to Belgrade and see if there was a message there yet from the Abercrombies, the family with which he had traveled as far as Buda-Pesth. He was to engage rooms for them when they wrote or telegraphed to him that they were ready for him to do so, and he decided that he might as well see if the message had come, though he was pretty sure that there had not been time yet.

To his surprise, he found some difficulty in passing the guards at the centre of the bridge. Luck favored him, however. One of the soldiers was a Hungarian who had been a waiter at a famous Hungarian restaurant in New York, and had returned to serve his term with the army. When he heard Dick say that he was an American, he offered to question him, and began to ask Dick about New York.

"He's all right. He knows all the places I know!" said the soldier, after that.

And so Dick was able to proceed. In Belgrade, inquiring at the bank the Abercrombies had named, he found a message, but not the sort of message he had been looking for.

"We are going to London as fast as we can get there," ran the message. "Should advise you to do the same. Situation looks very serious."

There had been more in the original message, for the blank was plainly marked "Censored." Dick was indignant at the idea that anyone should interfere with a telegram sent by as distinguished an American as Judge Abercrombie, but, after all, he decided there was no one here to blame. The censoring had been done at Buda-Pesth in all probability. And the essential fact was there. He was a good deal disappointed, for he had rather hoped that Judge Abercrombie might be able to help him in his dealings with Mike Hallo. However, there was no help for it.

So, having nothing else to do now, he spent a part of the afternoon in wandering about Belgrade, and making himself familiar with the strange old town. The older part of the city he found to be much more romantic when viewed from Semlin. At close quarters it was incredibly dirty, and the houses were rabbit warrens, inhabited by a wretched mixture of Turks and mixed breeds. He managed to learn there were not so many Servians; for Servians are not fond of living in towns. They are farmers and herders, and by choice they live in the open country, which is why they are a hardy and long-lived race.

But the new palace seemed to him a fine building, and he was lucky enough to see old King Peter, with his white hair and his fine, sturdy face, drive out of the grounds. A crowd had assembled, knowing that he was going to drive out, and it cheered the old man to the echo. Dick remembered how, for many years, King Peter had lived in Paris alone, in poverty, longing always for the time when he might return to the land his ancestors had helped to free from Turkish tyranny. And now this old man was an idolized king, who had led his people in two victorious wars and to-day was being urged by them to defy a country many times the size of his own. Dick took off his own hat and cheered with the crowd when the carriage passed him.

"I'm not a Servian," he said, to himself, "but he's a real man, and it won't hurt me to take off my hat to him, I guess."

Here in Belgrade there was far more excitement over the prospect of war than there had been in Semlin. Dick decided that this was because here much more of the truth was known.

He liked the looks of the newer part of Belgrade, beyond the palace. Here there were pleasant white houses, in green gardens, and everything was clean and well kept. The people, too, seemed to him more like real folks, as he put it. There wasn't a servile respect for a uniform. One reason for that, had he known it, was that when Servia went to war it meant that every man, and every boy old enough to carry arms, was engaged. It was a nation that fought, not just an army.

So it was with a pleasanter impression of the Servian capital than he had expected to acquire that Dick returned to Semlin. When he got back the sun was already low over the hills in the west, and he had just about time to hurry to his lodgings and change his clothes.

There he found something that surprised and angered him. In his absence someone had been through all his few belongings; few because he had of necessity traveled with little baggage. He could see that everything had been ransacked, and he guessed that the police had paid his room another visit in his absence. It hadn't done them any good, for of course he carried no papers that would have been of the slightest interest to anyone else, and his money, the only valuable thing he had, was always in the belt that he wore next to his skin, under all his clothes.

But he was angry, none the less, and he carried his anger with him to the consulate, where, arriving promptly, he had to wait a little while for the consul to finish some business. When he told Mr. Denniston what had happened the consul frowned.

"I'm not surprised," he said. "I couldn't prove this, Dick, but I've learned enough to be perfectly certain that Hallo is behind the police interest in you. I don't believe that anyone really thinks you are English, or has the slightest idea that you may be a spy."

"A spy! What kind of a spy would I make? Is that their line?"

"In a time like this almost anyone may be accused of being a spy, Dick. You see, the argument is that it's just the one that's apparently least likely to be guilty, who can be the most dangerous spy. But, as I say, in your case it's just an excuse. I have sent a cable message to the State Department, asking them to satisfy themselves through your scoutmaster at home that you are an American citizen. When I hear from that message, you see, you'll have an official standing, and I can do something. What I am afraid of is that the answer will be delayed. But come in to dinner. I shall have to leave you right afterward."

At the dinner table Mr. Denniston explained the situation more in detail to Dick.

"Hallo's powerful enough to have his way. That's the size of it," he said. "I've decided to have you come here, as my guest. They wouldn't dare to take you from the consulate for that would mean trouble with the United States. And if I don't read the whole situation mistakenly, they are going to have enemies enough before long without embroiling themselves with us, even for the sake of pleasing Mr. Michael Hallo!"

"I hate to trouble you, sir," said Dick. "But it is most awfully good of you to invite me, and, of course, I'd be safe here."

"It's no trouble—I'll be glad to have you. As soon as we've finished dinner, go and get your things, and then come right back here. They gave you twenty-four hours, you said, didn't you? And that was this morning?" returned Mr. Denniston.

"Yes, sir."

"Then I think you have time enough. But there is no use in leaving yourself in their power when the time is up. When they move here, they move very quickly indeed."

"All right, sir. I'll go along, and get back at once."

Dick hurried through his dinner, and then went back to his lodgings. In his room he began packing, but he had not finished his task, light as it was, when he heard a heavy pounding on the street door, which was at the bottom of the stairs, directly in line with his own, his room being on the first floor. He was curious enough to open his door to listen, and he saw the woman of the house open the street door.

"In the name of the law," he heard a heavy voice say. "We have come to take one Richard Warner, calling himself an American, who is accused of being a spy, and is to be sent immediately to Buda-Pesth. Stand aside!"

"Yes, sir—yes—right up the stairs, there," stammered the frightened woman.

Dick was aghast for a moment. Then, by a sheer instinct of self-preservation, he flung the door shut, locked and bolted it. It was stout and would hold for a moment. He rushed to the window. It was an easy drop to the garden below. But of what use to drop? What chance was there for him to make his way through the streets to the consulate, where, could he but reach it, he might find asylum? It might be better to yield. Though he was not a coward, he knew that the police might shoot him.

And then, just as heavy footsteps came up the stairs, a voice spoke in his ear.

"Will you trust me?" it said.

He turned with a start, to see the boy of Hallo's office beside him!

"Follow me—through the window. I can save you," said this boy. "It is I they should seek—I am a spy!"



There was no time to debate. Dick heard the policemen at the door and he knew that it would not delay them for more than a minute, at best. The mysterious boy was already half way out of the window. Dick rushed over, and saw him land in a flower bed below. A moment more, and he was beside him.

"Follow me," said the stranger. "Can you run fast?"

"Yes, I can," said Dick, speaking in Servian. He wanted to surprise this boy who had surprised him so thoroughly, and he succeeded. But there was no time for questions. He suited the action to the word now, and they ran, the stranger in the lead. But even as they ran, Dick's mind was active. He had answered in Servian because he had suddenly guessed part of the mystery. The other's cry, "I am a spy!" had given him a clue. He concluded that this boy must be a Servian.

And his start of surprise when he had heard the words in that language, which very few foreigners can speak, had convinced Dick that he had made the right guess. He felt better after that. Somehow hitherto he had not been able to divest himself of an uncomfortable suspicion that this strange boy might be in some fashion acting against him and in the interests of Mike Hallo. Yet his manner contradicted that idea; he was frank and open in his appearance. And, finally, there was no need for Dick to feel that he was making any serious mistake in following him now.

It was certain that the police were working for Hallo, whether they knew it or not, and it was equally certain that had he not dropped from the window he would now be in their hands, and perhaps on his way to Buda-Pesth. As it was, he was free for the moment at least.

Hot as was their pace, Dick's training as a scout enabled him to keep track of their direction, roughly at least, and he knew that they were going toward the river. Had he been a boy of the type too often seen nowadays, born and brought up in a city, he would have been hopelessly lost within a minute of the start, for his guide twisted and turned in a bewildering fashion, plainly with the idea of making pursuit more difficult for the police. At last the pace slackened, and the Servian turned into a narrow alley. Dick followed, and they dropped into a cellar. This was a damp, dark, filthy place, but they were not to stay there. The Servian pressed a certain spot on what seemed to be a perfectly blank wall, and it gave. Dick saw that there was a secret panel, which swung around now and gave them entrance to a second cellar of a very different aspect, as he saw when his companion struck a match.

This room, for a room it really was, was lined with match board, and there was some sort of ventilation, for the air was fresh and pure, and, moreover, in constant motion. The Servian lighted a lamp that hung from a bracket on the wall, and then, as the light spread, Dick could see what manner of refuge it was that they had reached.

Evidently it was intended for frequent use. There were two or three chairs, a table, and a big, comfortable looking couch, covered with rugs and cushions. Books were on the table, and on a shelf that ran around two sides of the room, and on the table, too, were pens, ink and paper in abundance.

"Now we are safe!" said the Servian. "This place has been used for two or three years, and the police seem never to have suspected its existence. I suppose you are curious?"

"I certainly am!" said Dick. "Who are you? And what are you doing here? And—but go ahead! You'll tell me what you like, I suppose."

"My name is Stepan Dushan," said the other, with a laugh. "That is a good Servian name, as I suppose you know. But you must have guessed before that I am Servian, or you would not have spoken to me in my own language. How is it that you, an American, over here for the first time, speak our language so well?"

"How is it that you know so much about me?" countered Dick, really amazed. "I never saw you until this morning, in Hallo's place."

"Nor I you," said Stepan. "But it was my business to know all about everything that Hallo was doing. He is a very important man just now, and especially for us Servians. He has a great deal to do with the government here. He will supply many of the things the Austrian soldiers will need in the war, and there was a chance that by working for him I might be able to gain a great deal of valuable information. There are so few of us Servians, you see, and especially after the wars, that boys have to do the work of men."

"I see," said Dick, vaguely, though he was a long way from a clear understanding yet.

"That was why I listened to what you had to say to Hallo," the Servian went on. "Anything might be important, you see. But I soon understood that this was a different matter. And then I remembered things I had heard, or had just happened to stumble on, since I had been in his office, and then I knew all about you, and how he had cheated your family—the scoundrel!"

"You do know a lot!" said Dick. He was beginning to be tremendously impressed by this Servian lad, no older than himself, who nevertheless was serving his country in such a dangerous and delicate capacity.

"Oh, I just jumped at the chance of putting a spoke in Hallo's wheel," said Dushan. "It hasn't been the easiest thing in the world working for him, obeying his orders, I can tell you. He treats those who work for him like a dog. You would think he was a noble, instead of a shrewd peasant who has made money."

He laughed.

"I ought not to talk like that," he said. "In Servia we are all democrats, and a peasant is as good as the next man. But still it was hard with this Magyar swine! My father—you know my father is in our army, a general of brigade. I shall be in the army, too, when I am old enough, if there is to be more war after this. And in the meantime I do what I can. I am a Boy Scout."

"A scout? So am I!" exclaimed Dick.

They had found a common tie when Stepan Dushan said that, and for a little time they forgot everything in a discussion of scouting and of the differences between the Servian and American systems. They soon agreed that, though there had to be many differences, the fundamental idea was the same, and that the original impulse of the Boy Scout movement had spread because there must be, after all, a great deal in common between all boys everywhere.

"There are scouts here in Hungary. In Buda-Pesth there are several troops, you know," said the Servian.

"I saw them there," Dick nodded. "And in Germany, too, but the German scouts are rather different. I say, this is splendid, Steve! You don't mind my making it Steve, do you, instead of Stepan? That sounds so strange to me."

"I don't mind a bit," said the Servian. "Well, I got you away from the police, but I'm puzzled as to what to do for you next. We can't stay here very long, because some of the men who are doing the really dangerous work may want to use this place any minute, and I don't think they'd like it if we stayed. I suppose I could manage to get you out of Semlin, but you'd have to go to Buda-Pesth, and you want to stay within reach of Hallo, don't you?"

Dick's jaws snapped together.

"I certainly do," he said, doggedly. "I hate to give a thing up when I've once started to try to do it, don't you?"

"Ye-es. I'm trying to think, Dick. There is a way, of course. I can smuggle you over to Belgrade when it gets dark. But if you once get into Servia just now, there's no knowing when you'll get out again. When the fighting starts—and it's going to start soon, perhaps to-night, perhaps to-morrow—things are going to move quickly. We haven't wanted war, we Servians. We've had enough to last us a lifetime since we attacked Turkey. But we're ready for it."

Dick said nothing. It seemed plain that his new found friend was still pondering an idea.

"You've no idea how I hate that man Hallo!" he burst out in a minute. "Sometime, if we are to be together, I'll tell you why. The rest of the reasons, that is. But I'd give anything to help you beat him, Dick, and I do think there's a way. Only it will be risky. You'd have to come with me to Belgrade. And you'd have to stay with me and probably help Servia, and I don't suppose an American, who's got nothing to do with our troubles, would want to do that?"

"I'd do pretty nearly anything rather than go home beaten," said Dick, grimly. "And there's another thing, too, Steve. Do you think there's a chance that this may mean a European war, with Germany and France and Russia mixed up in it? That's what Mr. Denniston, the American consul here, seems to think."

"Yes, I'm afraid it will mean just that," said Dushan, gravely. "Russia will help us if Austria attacks us. We know that already. Then Germany must help Austria and France must help Russia, and England must help them both. And there will be the great war—the war Austria threatened us with when she took away Albania, that thousands of our Servians had died to win for the fatherland! We gave way then, just as we gave way when she enslaved millions of Serbs in Bosnia, so that there might be peace in Europe. But this time Austria has gone too far, when she tries to take away the independence our fathers bought from the Turks with their blood! Servia cannot give way again. And Russia will not let her be wiped out by Austria."

"Then I'll stay here," said Dick, cheerfully. "Because there isn't a chance for me to get home. I haven't got money enough. I got here by working my way, and in time of war there'd be no chance for me to do that."

"There is something in that," said Stepan. But he seemed doubtful still. "I don't want you to come in without knowing what there is to be risked," he went on. "It is going to be dangerous, hard work. But I really think that at the end there will be a chance for you to get what you came for. I think that I can show you a way to beat Hallo and force him to make restitution. Don't ask me why I think so, because I'm not ready to tell you yet. And it might spoil everything if I told you too soon."

"You've done so much for me now that there's no reason why you should do more," said Dick. "And as for helping Servia, why shouldn't I? When my own country was little and poor, and fighting for its life against England, we got help from all sorts of people who believed in freedom and hated tyranny. So I don't see any reason why an American scout shouldn't do anything that's in his power for Servia."

They struck hands then.

"We must wait until dark," said Stepan. "Until it is really dark, full night. Then it will be very easy to get over the river, unless things have changed greatly since last night. I am glad you are going to stay, Dick. We are in the right, and we are going to win. There's no other way."

"I think so, too," said Dick. "Steve, there's just one thing. I know that Austria has treated Servia badly, and that she should not have annexed lands in which there were so many Serbs. But that murder in Serajevo was an awful thing—"

"It was frightful!" declared Stepan, passionately. "Every true Servian will tell you the same thing! But it is a wicked Austrian lie to say that Servia had anything to do with it! It was Austrian subjects who were, perhaps, Serbs in blood, who planned it. We Servians did all we could. Our government learned that trouble was brewing, and our minister in Vienna begged the Archduke Franz Ferdinand to stay away or at least to take especial precautions. The Serbs in Bosnia hated him because they thought he was the man who planned the annexation. But to say that the Servian government knew what was planned is to say what the Austrian government knows to be false.

"No, that is only an excuse. Austria is afraid of us, of our patriotism. She has determined to crush us before we are too strong. She is trembling because of her memory of how we crushed the Turks."



It was after midnight when Steve finally decided that it was safe to venture from their retreat. And then they did not emerge by the way in which they had entered it.

"This place has saved the life of many a Servian patriot in these last few years," said Steve. "I think the Austrians have come near to finding it once or twice. They have pursued some of our people to the very entrance. But what has always puzzled them is that we never go out by the way in which we come in. And one entrance we have never used except for flight, and then only in a grave emergency. No Austrian pursuer has ever seen that, or come near it. It is the one by which we shall escape now. Keep still. That is all that is necessary. Keep still and follow me."

Dick had guessed already that there were other entrances. He was not prepared, however, for the elaborate system of rooms and passages that were revealed as he followed Steve, who had now possessed himself of an electric flashlight, and had given Dick one also.

"We could almost have stood a siege down here," explained Steve. "Here—we seem to be in a dead alley, don't we?"

They had passed from the room in which they had waited to another, where Dick had seen a plentiful supply of provisions and of drinking water in great bottles. From this they had gone into a narrow passage, dark and damp. Now Steve flashed his light on a blank wall. But a touch at the right place brought a handle into view. This, when it was pulled, showed that there was really a door, cunningly made so that it seemed to be a part of the wall, with no cracks to betray it. And behind this was another door of solid steel.

"It would not be easy to get through that door, you see, even if they penetrated the secret of the first one," said Steve. "That door is made of armor plate, of tempered steel. It is the same sort of steel that is used for the protection of a great battleship. Even a shell from a cannon would not go through it very easily, and bullets would only be hurled back if they struck it."

He touched a spring and the door revolved on its own axis, staying open just long enough for them to pass through, and then closing.

"The action is automatic," said Steve. "That would make it safe even if one were pursued, for the pursuer would be caught as the door closed; he would not be so close as to be able to get through."

"You people didn't overlook anything, it seems to me," said Dick. "You must have been getting ready for war for a long time."

"For years," said Steve, quietly. "Ever since King Peter came to the throne and refused any longer to betray the country to Austria, as his predecessor did always. We stand in Austria's way. Until we became powerful by beating Turkey and Bulgaria, which attacked us as the result of an Austrian trick, it mattered less. But ever since the end of the second war last year we have known that Austria was only looking for an excuse to attack us. And so we have tried to be ready. It was our only chance."

"But you say you won't have to fight Austria alone. The Russians will come to Servia's aid, won't they?"

"In a way, yes. But they will not be able to send troops to fight with our armies. They may attack Austria, and so keep some of her soldiers busy elsewhere. But that is all. We do not touch Austria anywhere. She might send troops through Roumania, and Roumania, it is true, is friendly toward us. But that would bring her into the war, and she will not be ready for that for a time. At least Turkey would bar her from sending troops by sea to Antivari, for they would have to pass through the Dardanelles, and that is impossible since Turkey is the friend of Germany.

"And there is another point. Austria has been making ready. She can strike quickly. Russia is slow. It will be two months before she makes herself felt, even if she declares war at once. For two months Austria can devote herself almost entirely to us. And the odds in her favor are so great that anything might happen in that time, if we had not prepared for her. As it is, there is almost nothing of Austria's plans and preparations that we do not know."

While Steve talked they were walking through what seemed almost like a tunnel. Now he flashed his light, looked about, and dropped his voice.

"Now we must begin to be careful," he said. "We are getting near the light. This is like a rabbit's warren, but soon we shall be in the open. Sure as we are that the Austrians know nothing of this place, we never take chances."

"We must be a long way from the cellar we first went into," said Dick. "Even if we've circled around, and here where there are no stars, I can't tell about that. We've walked a long distance, I should say."

"You're right," said Steve, with a low and discreet chuckle. "Oh, this is a fine tunnel! Do you know what we did a few minutes ago? We walked right under a police station!"

The tunnel seemed to dip now, and then to rise again. And in a few moments cold air was blowing on their faces; cold, that is, by comparison with the heat of the subterranean workings in which they had been buried. Then they came out, stooping, and passing through a well designed covering of shrubs and bushes, on the sandy beach of the river. Dick gasped a little at that, and at seeing that they had evidently got out of the town altogether. Before him now lay the lights of Belgrade, but he noticed one thing at once. The lights had shrunk; there were fewer than there had been the night before.

Steve had gone ahead now, scouting to see if the coast were clear, but he returned in a moment, jubilant.

"All safe!" he said. "I knew it would be, of course, but there is no need to take chances. Now we're all right so far. But we've got quite a walk before us yet. We'll still be very cautious."

"Which way?" asked Dick.

"West, along the bank of the Save here. Look, do you see that monitor there? If her searchlight swings this way, drop down. She might not pay any attention, but we don't want to be noticed at all, and it's better to be on the safe side."

"Why are there so few lights in Belgrade?" asked Dick. "I know it's late, but other nights, when I've looked over, it was much brighter."

"I'm not sure," said Steve, looking anxious. "You see, it's hours since I've had any news. The war may have come already, Dick. I hope not, because I should feel that we were more sure of getting across before the declaration. Still we have a good chance, even if it has begun."

Three times, as they walked along the river bank, Steve made a long detour inland.

"The Austrians have patrols along the river," he said. "But they don't take that sort of work very seriously. They are trusting the monitors and their searchlights. You see, their lights are swinging pretty steadily, and they cover the whole river and the Servian shore."

"And don't they think that there's likely to be danger on this side?"

"They're right, too, of course. Spies, yes. But we couldn't threaten them very seriously in any way that would make it necessary for them to be very careful here."

"I wish we knew what was going on, don't you? Doesn't it seem funny to be right in the middle of something that's going to make history and to think that people thousands of miles away really know more about it than we do?"

"Yes. But soon we'll know all there is to be known. When we're once over the river, then we can ask questions and get true answers, which is more than people in Semlin have been doing lately. Yes, I'm just as anxious for some news as you are. I rather wish now that I'd gone out while we were waiting for it to be late enough to start. But I suppose it was better that I didn't. You'd have been helpless there if anything had happened to keep me from coming back," remarked Stepan.

"If you'd been caught, you mean?"

"Ye—es, I suppose that's what I mean. Although really I don't think there was ever any great danger of that. When I got a job from Hallo, it was sure that no one suspected me, because he's so busy with government contracts that he had to be careful. I'm supposed to be a Hungarian, from Buda-Pesth. And it isn't as if I'd been trying to find out things in a general way. All I had to do was to pick up the information that it was so easy to get in Hallo's place. There were all sorts of things to be learned there, and a lot was made easy for me because Hallo and others didn't think, I suppose, that I would know what certain papers and estimates meant."

"How did you know enough to be able to do all that sort of thing, Steve?"

"Well, there were a lot of things I didn't understand, myself. But I didn't have to. I just copied down everything I saw that seemed to have anything to do with military matters in any way, and sent everything I got to the general staff at home. They knew the meaning of everything, you see. It wasn't any one thing, perhaps; it was what I and a lot of others who were at work over here were able to report that counted. They could put one thing with another, and, altogether, it was worth something. I don't know how much. But I do know, for instance, that Hallo has sent supplies of various sorts to particular places. There's a regular arsenal on the Austrian side, near Schabatz, and there are big depots of supplies at a lot of places along the Drina."

"Oh, I understand better now. Hallo is supplying food and things that the soldiers will need?"

"Food, and shoes, mostly. He's the biggest contractor for those, but he is handling about everything. Medical supplies, uniforms, horseshoes, saddles, and a tremendous lot of petrol—gasoline. And he's making a big profit, too. He's one of several big army contractors who have been eager for this war, and have had a lot to do with bringing it on, because they hoped to grow richer out of their contracts. War meant big profits."

"Men like that ought to have to do some of the fighting themselves, I think! But they never do. They stay behind, and let others do the work. I've heard about that sort of thing at home in America. And some of them didn't even behave honestly. They sold bad beef for the soldiers, and rotten leather, and shoddy cloth for uniforms."

Steve chuckled.

"I'll tell you something about Hallo," he said. "But remember not to tell anyone else, even if you get a chance, until the time comes. He's doing something like that, too. He thinks he's been very clever, and that there's no chance for anyone to find him out. But I've got the proof, and perhaps there'll be a chance for you to use what I know to make him do what's right for your mother, Dick. As it is, you see, I wouldn't give him away, because it's good for us to have the Austrians badly equipped. Hello, we're getting near our ferry! Do you see that blasted tree there—the one that was struck by lightning?"

"Yes," said Dick, peering through the darkness.

"Well, just below that there ought to be a boat and a man with it. We'll soon know if we can row or if we'll have to swim for it. It's a long swim, and I'm not anxious to go that way."

But the boat was there, and beside it a Servian who greeted Steve happily, and looked at Dick appraisingly.

"He is with me," said Steve. "Jump in, Dick! Hurry, Mischa!"

In a moment they were out in the stream. And then things began to happen. There was a sputtering of fire from the bank they had left, and Mischa, the ferryman, staggered and collapsed. A bullet had reached him! The oars fell into the water, and they were adrift.



The fact that they lost their oars was what saved them. For now, its attention evidently attracted by the sudden outburst of firing, the nearest monitor sent its searchlight flashing down upon them, and the little boat, with its helpless burden, was plainly visible from the shore. With a quick and ready wit, the two scouts leaped to their feet, at the risk of upsetting the boat, and waved their hands, in token of their helplessness. They were seen at once, and there was a sharp cry from the shore, and an order to cease firing.

"We're in luck," said Steve, quietly, as he sat down again in the boat. "That's an Austrian officer. If he had been Hungarian, he wouldn't have stopped firing just because he saw we were helpless. But he must have come lately from Vienna. He hasn't had time to get the border hatred of us into his system yet."

Dick already knew that there was particularly bad and bitter blood between Servians and Hungarians, but he made no comment. By this time he was heart and soul with Servia in the war that must have begun, but this was partly because of his swiftly formed friendship for Steve Dushan, and partly because Servia seemed to be the under dog. Yet he knew that there were probably two sides to the question, and even the way Mike Hallo had behaved had not filled him with a prejudice against the whole Hungarian nation.

Now that the immediate danger was over, there was time for them to look to the wounded ferryman. Dick thought he was dead. He had never seen a man shot before, but when he turned the man's body over, Steve laughed, not callously, but happily.

"Good for old Mischa!" he said. "I thought a man who fought at Kumanovo and helped to storm Adrianople after the Bulgarians yelled for help wouldn't go out so easily! See? It's only a scratch! The bullet grazed his head. Dip your handkerchief in the water, and we'll have him all right in no time."

The cold water, as a matter of fact, did revive Mischa almost at once, and he sat up, rueful at the loss of his oars. When he was told that a bullet had grazed his scalp and stunned him, he actually grinned.

"So that is what it feels like to be shot!" he said. "Good! Now I shan't be afraid the next time there is going to be a battle, as I was at Kumanovo. What next?"

"I think everyone is wondering about that," said Dick, with a grin. "They don't seem to want to come out after us, and we certainly can't row ashore without oars, even if we wanted to. And I suppose if she's cleared for action, that monitor isn't carrying so many boats that she'll want to send one for us."

"I wish her searchlight would break down!" said Steve, venomously. "Then our fellows on the other side might help us. Mischa, I've got to get over if we can do it. It's very important for me to report what I discovered during the day. Has war been declared yet?"

"It has not been formally declared," said Mischa. "But the King and all the government have gone all the way back to Nish, and most of the troops have marched away to the west, toward Schabatz and Losnitza. There is only a small garrison left in Belgrade."

"To Nish, eh?" said Steve, frowning a little. "That was not the plan of which I heard. The withdrawal was to be only to Kragujevac. They must mean to draw the Austrians on. But I am sorry. I hoped for an invasion."

Suddenly to the east there was a dull roar. The three in the boat stared at one another, and at the same moment there came a wild outburst of cheering from the soldiers on the Austrian bank of the river.

"What is that?" asked Dick. As he spoke the sound was repeated.

"Cannon," said Mischa.

"Yes, cannon!" repeated Steve, his face lighted up. "The first gun of the war! Who knows how many echoes that shot will have? They said that in your country a shot was fired once that was heard around the world. I believe that this is just such a shot, Dick!"

"Where is the firing?"

"It must be from one of the Austrian batteries near Semlin. They are bombarding the city of Belgrade, I suppose."

And then there was a deafening roar, a sound far greater than the firing of even the heaviest guns of modern warfare would make, and to the east, toward the Danube, there was a great flash of fire. Instantly the searchlight swung away from them and pointed in the opposite direction, and as the beams of light were concentrated on the spot where the flash had been, the three observers in the boat saw a strange and wonderful sight. The lights played full on the great steel railway bridge across the Save, and in their white glare they could see the beams collapsing, the piers melting away, while the whole central span of the bridge collapsed in utter ruin, leaving a gap where the river now flowed unbridged.

"Yes, the war has come!" said Steve impressively. "That was to be our first act—the destruction of the bridge. They will not send their troops into Servia so easily as that!"


A sharp hiss came to their ears, seemingly from the water. And not only seemingly. Looking down, they saw the upturned face of a swimmer. Mischa hailed him joyfully.

"Peter!" he said.

"Take this rope. We saw what had happened," said the swimmer, "and so I swam out, and waited until their accursed searchlight was not playing on you. We will draw you ashore. If they fire, lie low in the boat, and they will never hit you. But you are safe now unless the searchlight comes back again. They can never see you in this darkness."

"Good man, Peter!" said Steve, his voice hushed. "Swim back, now. We have the rope. It is better for you not to come into the boat now."

Peter did not answer, but turned at once and began cutting the water with long, powerful strokes. Nevertheless, though he made good progress, he disturbed the water very little, and he had not gone more than a few yards before it was almost impossible for even those in the boat to see him. Only a faint rippling of the water behind him marked his trail.

"That was good work," said Dick, admiringly. "We'll get ashore safely yet, Steve! And a minute ago it certainly didn't seem possible."

There was a tug at the rope a moment later. The searchlights were still turned downstream, and now there was a brisk cannonading from the Semlin batteries. There had been no more explosions. It was plain, as, indeed, they had already been able to see, that the Servian sappers who had mined the railway bridge had done their work well.

"Down in the boat now!" said Dushan. "They are drawing on the rope, and they'll begin pulling us along in a moment. I'm going to try to keep her as she is, but it may be hard if they pull too fast. If they will keep their searchlight away for just five minutes, we shall be all right."

"You'd better make that rope fast to something in the boat instead of just holding on to it," said Dick. "If you don't, you might lose your hold. Remember how Mischa lost his oars."

"That's a good idea, Dick. I didn't think of it. Here, it's looped around one of the thwarts now. That ought to hold it all right, if they do hit me."

Then they all dropped, and in a moment the boat was being drawn along swiftly through the water. It proved impossible to keep her bow on to the Servian shore, but there seemed no reason to fear anything from the Austrians behind them. Yet suddenly a bullet whistled over their heads, following the crack of a rifle.

"Never mind that!" said Dick. "They just want us to know that they're still thinking about us, that's all!"

But the shot had another motive, as they soon guessed. It had been fired in an interval of silence, when there was no firing from the batteries at Semlin—to which, incidentally, the Servians had as yet made no reply from Belgrade—and it was soon apparent that it had been fired to attract the attention of the monitor. In a moment the searchlight came winking back, and instinctively, as the great beam of light swept over them, all crouched lower still in the bottom of the boat. There were quick wits on the Servian side, for the dragging of the rope stopped at once, and their motion with it.

For a moment nothing happened.

"Perhaps they won't notice that we've moved," said Steve, hopefully.

But that was a vain hope. More faintly now, they could hear shouting from the Austrian bank, and then Dick understood as a volley rang out and a hail of bullets swept over them and pattered into the water near by.

"They saw that we had disappeared. That's enough to make them suspicious!" he cried. "Shake that rope! Maybe they'll understand that we want them to pull again."

But that was unnecessary. The pull on the rope had been resumed, and they were moving fast again.

Once more the Austrian rifles spoke, and this time half a dozen bullets pattered against the side of the boat. Some came through, but she was stoutly built, and these had lost most of their force. But the searchlight followed them, and now there was a loud roar near by. This was followed in a moment by a dull explosion that seemed to be within a few feet of them. The boat rocked violently and a shower of spray descended, wetting them all.

"Stay down!" cried Steve. "That's a shell from the monitor!"

"Gee! They're anxious enough to get us, aren't they?" exclaimed Dick. "That was a close call, Steve! But I'll bet it was just a lucky shot! We're too small a target, and we're moving pretty fast! I don't believe they will really hit us."

"Too close to be comfortable," agreed Steve. "It feels funny, doesn't it, being under fire? I never was before."

"And I don't care if I never am again," rejoined Dick. "I'm frightened, and I don't care who knows it!"

"So am I!" admitted Steve, a little tremulously. "And I hoped I wouldn't be! I wanted to be a soldier, but a coward can't be a soldier."

Before Dick, who didn't think that it was cowardly to be afraid, could answer, another shell plumped into the water beyond them, and again showered them with spray, while it set the boat to rocking. But in a way even this danger was a source of safety, for the upheaval of the water had spoiled the aim of the rifleman each time, and though they dared not rise to look, they felt that they must be very near the Servian shore by this time. And then big Mischa laughed aloud.

"You need not be afraid, Stepan Ivanovitch," he said. "You need not be afraid that you are a coward, I mean. I am afraid at first every time I am under fire, and so are most soldiers. Ask your father, now that you have been under fire yourself. It soon wears off, that fear. But the bravest men need not be ashamed to admit they are afraid when the first bullets sing in their ears, or when they hear the shells burst near them!"

Twice more, in a few moments, shells dropped in the water near them. But either luck was with them, or the monitor's target practice was poor, for neither damaged the boat. And now they could hear the encouraging shouts of the Servians from the shore. Then there came an explosion louder than any of the rest, and the boat seemed to go to pieces under them. The water rushed in. Luckily, no one of them was hurt, but all were thrown into the water. They began to swim lustily, striking out blindly for the shore, until Mischa raised his voice in a great laugh, and seized one of them in each arm.

"Here, I'll carry you ashore!" he cried.

They were safe!



Safe, but only for the moment. The searchlight had been following them, and now it played on them and the Servians, a little party of five or six men, who had dragged them thus to safety.

"Look out! Scatter!" cried one of these, the only one who was in uniform. "They'll try another shell, just to get even, now that you've got away from them."

They scattered at once, flinging themselves to the ground after running a few paces. And, sure enough, a shell struck close to the brink of the water, half burying itself in the sand before it exploded and sent sand and dirt flying all over them. The fire of the riflemen carried across the river, too, from the other bank, but the bullets had little force left after carrying so far.

Dick, lying face down, his back to the river, and within a few paces of Steve, lifted his head a little, and looked about him. He saw that a little way back from the water's edge the ground began to rise quite sharply, culminating in what was almost a bluff, but was still easily to be climbed. And where the ground began to rise, there was a sturdy growth of bushes and young trees, too, that would afford good shelter. If they could only get so far! It was easy to see. The searchlight from the monitor was playing all over and around them, making the scene weird in the extreme but serving them, in a way, by making their path as clear as it would have been in broad daylight.

Then the searchlight winked out and swung away for a moment. In that instant the man who had given the first order rose and began running toward the shrubbery.

"Come on!" he cried, turning and stopping, while he waved his hands. "The light will be back in a moment!"

They obeyed willingly, and swept up the slope in a wild rush. The searchlight swung back again, and now a shell burst high in the air above them. In a moment there was a curious tearing sound, and then a pitapat on the ground about them. Dick guessed it was shrapnel, though he had, of course, never been under shrapnel fire before. That was not from the monitor, he knew. It meant that the Austrians on the other side must have got a light field piece into action after some delay.

But he was not hit, and in a minute he was at the top of the rise, panting. Steve Dushan came up to him.

"All right, Dick?" he cried. "I didn't have any idea of bringing you into anything as hot as this. You might better have stayed and taken your chance in Semlin! Perhaps your consul could have helped you."

"I don't care! We're all right now," said Dick. He laughed nervously. "I'm not sorry a bit!" he declared. "It's the most exciting thing that ever happened to me! Now that it's all over I—yes, I believe I have enjoyed it!"

"So have I! I mean it, too, Dick! I'm not saying that just to make myself think I'm brave, because I was awfully frightened all the time. But now that it's over, it's something to look back at, isn't it? It isn't everyone who's under fire, after all."

Then they heard Mischa calling.

"Captain!" he cried. "Captain Obrenovitch!"

There was no answer. And suddenly Dick knew that there would be none. His mind recalled something that he had only half grasped as he ran up the hill, with the patter of the bursting shrapnel, with its load of slugs and bullets, nails and pieces of iron, all about him. He had seen a man stumble, the one man in uniform.

"Is Captain Obrenovitch the one who was in uniform?" he asked.

"Yes, Dick. Why? Was he hit? Did you see him go down?"

"I'm afraid so, yes. Here, I'm going to find out!"

Before Steve realized what he was doing, Dick had turned and plunged back in the direction from which he had just come.

"Dick!" cried Stepan. "Where are you going? What are you doing?"

"I'm going after him!" Dick shouted back.

"Wait! That's madness! Let me go with you!"

But if he heard, Dick made no answer. He did hear, but he paid no attention, and scarcely understood the words. All that Dick knew was that he had run away from a man who had been wounded because he had braved death to save his, Dick's, life. He had seen him fall, as he understood now, and he had not stopped to see if he could help! Dick felt a surge of shame. He felt as if he could never respect himself again unless he tried to make atonement now for having run on! It was fantastic, quixotic, absurd perhaps, but it was Dick Warner's way, as anyone who had known him at home in New York would have realized at once!

"I saw him fall. I know just where he is," Dick told himself again and again, as he ran on, stumbling over roots, tripping repeatedly in his hasty descent of the slope that had seemed so hard to climb a few moments before. "It's up to me to find him and make up to him for sticking to that rope!"

That was Dick's thought. He owed his life to this man Obrenovitch, whose very face he would not know if he saw him now. And that life, he felt, would be of no use to him if he kept it at the expense of leaving his debt of gratitude to Obrenovitch unpaid.

The Servian captain had fallen out in the open, and Dick came to him at last. The searchlight was still playing. It lit up the body for a moment, and then winked away again. But Dick had his own pocket flashlight out in a second, and in its light he saw that the captain, if he was not dead, was in a bad way. Like all scouts, Dick knew something of the first aid, and a very hasty glance showed him just what had happened. Obrenovitch lay straight out, and the blood was gushing out from his leg above the knee. One of the great arteries had been cut. In a few minutes he would bleed to death if help did not come to him.

"Oh, I hope I'm in time!" cried Dick.

And then he wasted no more of the precious seconds. He knew that Obrenovitch, as an officer, in uniform, and in time of war, would have somewhere about him a Red Cross packet containing the absolute essentials of first aid treatment. In a moment he had found this packet and torn it open. He was close to the river, and in a twinkling he found two small, flat stones. These he pressed into the open wounds where the bullet had passed in and out, and then he drew a tight bandage about them.

All this time, be it remembered, he was under heavy fire. Bullets pattered about him constantly. Once a stick he was using in an effort to improvise a still better tourniquet was shot right out of his hand. But he never faltered. Fortunately the shooting was wild. The searchlight had not picked him up, and so he was not a real target for the enemy, as he might have been had they seen him in the glare of the great light.

The blood soon ceased to flow, and then Dick leaned over to listen for the beating of the captain's heart. He caught it in a moment. It was faint, but regular enough.

"I think he'll do all right now," said Dick to himself, with intense satisfaction.

And then he had time to think of himself, and to realize that he was tired and shaky about the knees. He collapsed for a moment, and lay beside the wounded and unconscious officer. But he realized something that was like a tonic; he had not been afraid, not once, while his work remained unfinished! Perhaps it was just because he had been too busy in his fight with the death that was reaching out to seize the Servian. Whatever the reason, it was something to make him proud and happy, and to fill him with a tingling sensation that was worth a night's sleep, almost, in making him forget his own exhaustion.

"Now to get him away!" said Dick to himself. "There's no use in staying here. Something is sure to hit one or both of us if I do."

But Obrenovitch was rather a heavy man. Dick could have dragged him along, but he was afraid that that would start the bleeding of the wound afresh, and he knew that if the Servian lost even a little more of the blood that he had already shed so freely nothing could save him.

For a moment Dick was near to despair. There seemed nothing to do but stay there and hope that the Austrian fire would slacken. Even so, however, things were bad enough, for it was highly important, as Dick understood very well, to get the Servian officer into a doctor's hands as soon as possible. His improvised bandage and tourniquet would do very well for an hour or so, but better treatment was necessary, since it was dangerous to arrest the circulation of the blood, what there was left of it, too long. And then Dick heard footsteps, the most welcome sound he had ever heard, he thought—except for the hail that followed a moment later.

"Dick! Where are you?"

It was Stepan Dushan. He had come after Dick, determined not to let a stranger outdo him in courage!

"Here!" cried Dick. "I found him! I believe he'll pull through, if we can get him away. I've been puzzling my brains trying to think how to do it. But now we can make a stretcher."

"How? We haven't any material, Dick!"

"Haven't they taught you that?" said Dick. "All our scouts know how to turn that trick! Stay here! I'll be back in a minute."

Dick always carried his big knife, which had been a present from his scoutmaster as a reward for a particularly good piece of work that Dick had once done at home. Now, with its biggest blade, he managed to cut away two stout branches of a tree, and to strip them of leaves and twigs. Though they were thin, he knew that the live, green wood was stout, and that while it might bend and give, it would not readily break. He returned with the two poles, and called to Steve.

"Take off your coat and give it to me, Steve," he directed.

Steve obeyed, and Dick laid the coat, and his own, which he now took off, on the ground. Then he passed the poles through the sleeves of the two coats, having laid them end to end, and then he proceeded to button both coats.

"Now do you see?" he said. "Isn't that a fine stretcher for a home-made one? Take his feet now, and lift him very carefully. He's too tall, but if we pass our hands and arms under him, we can support his head and his feet when we start to carry him. It'll be a hard job, but it's the only chance. It's better to let him take the risk of being carried that way than to leave him here. He hasn't any chance at all here, and he will have some this way. How soon can we get him to a doctor?"

"Very soon, once we're up the hill," said Steve. "The men can help there. They didn't know I had come back, but they will soon miss us and come back to see what has happened. Mischa has been my father's servant for years, and he would go through fire and water for me, I know."

"Good! Steve, have you noticed? They've stopped firing!"

"About time, too! What a lot of ammunition they have wasted! Well, they have plenty! We haven't, and when we shoot it will be when we're pretty sure that there are Austrians in the way!"

"Yes. Steady, now—careful! Don't jolt him even a little—it won't take much to start that bleeding up again."

Tenderly, carefully, they lifted the wounded man and got him on the stretcher. Then with the utmost care, lest they disturb the rough bandaging, they raised it. And when they had it up and were about to start, in broken step, to make the movement smoother, there came a fearful test of their nerve. A dull roar sounded behind them, and above their heads a whistling, shrieking sound, that they had learned to know well that night! It was the hiss of a shell, and in a moment it burst. But it had overshot the mark, and when it burst, though their hands shook, they held their firm grip on the stretcher, and that last, wanton shot had no more effect than its predecessors. It was the last. They finished the ascent safely. And there they found Mischa and the rest, who relieved them and carried the stretcher to the road a few hundred yards beyond, where, by great good luck, they met a marching regiment, with a real surgeon.

Their work for Obrenovitch was done.



Dick dropped into the background when they encountered the soldiers, and let Stepan do the talking. Now that the strain was over, he was feeling very tired and he wanted only to get to a place where he could sleep. But Stepan would not allow him to escape so easily. He told everyone within hearing of Dick's feat in going back to look for the wounded captain. The surgeon, bending over the bandages and making little adjustments, looked up quickly.

"Whoever applied this tourniquet saved this man's life," he said, briskly. "He would have bled to death in a very little time. As it is, he will do very well, if the wound has not been infected, and there was so much blood that I doubt if there was any great danger of that."

Then the colonel of the regiment appeared, and drew aside Stepan, whom he evidently knew. When they returned the colonel spoke to Dick very quietly.

"This is not the time to try to thank you for what you have done to-night," he said. "I can only tell you that, if I live long enough, I shall see that your heroism is properly known and fittingly rewarded. You have helped to bring Stepan Dushan to this side in safety, too, for he tells me that your cool behavior in the boat under the Austrian fire had a good deal to do with getting you all ashore. Now I shall send you to Belgrade, since Stepan Dushan tells me that you have reasons for wishing to stay with us for a time. You have earned the right to do as you please."

Captain Obrenovitch was being sent back to Belgrade, and Steve and Dick volunteered to care for him on the way, since that would make it unnecessary to detail a hospital corps man to act as orderly. They had already proved that they could be trusted in any emergency that might arise. And so in a few minutes the column began the march again, moving westward. Dick noticed that no bugles or drums were sounded, and that the order to march was passed along from company to company, the officers giving the brief commands in low voices.

"It's a secret troop movement, of course," said Steve, when Dick commented on this. "I can explain a little. The Austrians think, or we hope they do, that we will concentrate in defense of our capital. We would like to, but, after all, Belgrade is not the historic capital of Servia. Our chief city in the olden times was Uskub, which we regained from the Turks in the first war. We have made a capital of Belgrade because it is the most convenient city and because it is the centre of most of our trade."

"And you're going to let them take it?"

"Oh, I didn't say that!" said Steve, with a grin. "Perhaps they will take it but they won't hold it very long! No, what I mean is that our armies will defend Belgrade not by standing a siege, but by attacking the Austrians in other places. Belgrade will have a small garrison, and its situation makes it very strong, of course. But if the Austrians were to enter the city to-morrow it could make no real difference to the plan of our campaign."

They were not very far from the city, which they entered, of course, from the land side. They drove to the military hospital first, and there Captain Obrenovitch was turned over to those who could complete the work Dick had begun. Then when it was certain that he was in good hands, and they had had a confirmation of the regimental surgeon's optimistic verdict, they were ready to rest.

"Haven't you got to make a report?" asked Dick, when Steve announced that they were going to his home to sleep.

"I've made the important report already," said Steve. "The chief information I had was military, and Colonel Tchernaieff will give the facts I had gathered to the staff when he reports at Schabatz. The rest can wait until morning. I don't know what has happened here yet. I suppose the information department still has quarters here, but most of the men will be with the army in the field. I may have to go to Schabatz in the morning—later in the morning, I mean."

That was a good correction to make, because it was morning now, and streaks of light were beginning to appear beyond the Danube. And Dick, who had lived through the fullest day of his life, was eager to get to bed. The Austrian bombardment, which it seemed had not been very bad, had stopped altogether, and the strong probability that it would be resumed when the sun rose didn't deter Dick from his desire to sleep.

"We'll be at my house soon," said Steve, who knew how tired Dick was. "If old Maritza is still there, she will look after us. I don't believe anyone else will be in the house. My mother and my two young brothers have probably gone away. My father said they must when the war began."

Dick found that his friend's house was in that new quarter of Belgrade that he had admired so much when he had made his trip across from Semlin. And the inside of the house was as pleasant as its outer aspect. It was not luxurious. Few houses in Servia are, since Servia is a country where great wealth is practically unknown. But so, for that matter, is extreme poverty. Most of the Servian people make enough for a living, and not a great deal more, and so they have remained a simple people, and have maintained their ability to rise as a nation in arms.

But Dick wasn't thinking of such things. All he needed to know about that house or any other was that it contained a bed. Yet first before they went to bed, both he and Steve took a bath.

"Heaven only knows when we'll get another chance," said Steve, cheerfully. "There are going to be exciting doings, my friend Dick, for a time. We may have to leave here in a great hurry. You know, the Austrians may find out how easy it would be for them to come over into Belgrade! It would be a great stroke for them to say they had captured our capital in the first week of the war, even if they couldn't keep it."

"Well, I hope they don't come until we've had a good sleep," said Dick. And with that he rolled himself into bed and was snoring as soon as his head touched the pillow.

When he awoke it was broad daylight. But one thing surprised him. The window was in the west wall of the room in which he had slept, and yet the sun was pouring into it! It didn't seem possible, yet it was true. It was late afternoon, almost evening, and he had slept practically all day! In his surprise he called out sharply to Steve, who had slept in the same room, but in a separate bed. But Steve was not there. His bed was crumpled, but he himself had vanished!

Dick went to the window and looked out. Everything seemed to be peaceful. There were not many people about, but he knew that in this part of Belgrade few people were to be seen at this time of day in any case. At first he scarcely noticed a sound that came to his ears regularly, almost as regularly and monotonously as the ticking of a watch. Then he realized what it was; the sound of cannon. The bombardment, then, was still going on. He wondered about its success.

He looked out toward the business quarter of Belgrade. In a good many places black smoke was rising, shot through with yellow fumes. There was no wind, fortunately; he guessed that these pillars of smoke were from fires started by the Austrian shells. Had there been a gale to fan them they might have done serious damage. He was still looking out when the door burst open and Stepan Dushan came in.

"Hello! You're awake at last, are you?" he cried. "Well, you had sleep enough when you once started! You looked so comfortable that I didn't have the heart to wake you when the time came for me to get up."

"I'm glad you didn't," said Dick, honestly. "I'm feeling fine now, and if you'll give me some breakfast I'll tackle my weight in wildcats! But if I'd had five minutes less sleep it wouldn't have been enough! I don't believe I was ever tired enough to sleep through a bombardment before."

"This isn't much of a bombardment," said Stepan, contemptuously. "I don't believe there'll be much damage done. Come on out—though I'll see that you get some breakfast first. I think I'll have something interesting to tell you before long."

"All right. But why don't you tell me now?" asked Dick.

"Bad luck to talk about things until they're done," said Steve, with a grin. "Don't you know that in America?"

"All right," said Dick. "But just when are you going to know?"

"Pretty soon—but that's no sign that you'll know it as soon as I do, you know. How would you like to go back to Semlin?"

"I'm game, if you'll tell me why."

"That's just what I'm afraid I won't be able to do. That is, it would be a whole lot better if you didn't know."

"Oh, all right! I don't care, anyhow! I've enlisted for the war. By the way, what's happened to your scout troop? I thought perhaps there'd be some good work here in Belgrade for it to do."

"There will be, only there isn't any troop any more. About everyone in it is with the army, except the very little chaps. I think they'd have let me fight this time if there wasn't other work for me to do. You see we lost so many men against Turkey and Bulgaria that we haven't really enough men to fill the ranks. We have regiments that aren't half filled—or we did have until this started. By this time, though, I think there aren't many short battalions left. The old men and the boys will fight, and they say that some of the country regiments have a lot of women in them."

"Women? Fighting with the men? That's not allowed, is it?"

"How can you stop it?" asked Steve, with a shrug. "You don't know much about us yet, Dick, my friend. You don't know what it is to have lived with the Turks for centuries. I have read about your American women on the plains, in the times when the Indians went on the war-path. Most of them could handle a rifle, couldn't they? And they were pretty good shots, too!"

"Yes, but that's different—"

"Not so very different. I don't believe your Indians were ever worse than the Bashi-Bazouks. They hated us Servians, you see, because we were infidels and Christians. And so for hundreds of years they harried us, burned our homes, carried off our women, killed our men. That sort of thing gets into the blood after a time. For centuries we Serbs have stood between all Europe and the Turks. They never wiped us out, though they beat us by sheer weight of numbers. But here, and in Bosnia, that the Austrians stole, and in the Black Mountains—Montenegro—a few Serbs have always held out.

"That's why we aren't so civilized as some of the other countries of Europe. We haven't had the time to be civilized. We have had to fight just to keep alive. We have had to fight the Turks for life itself, and when they did not kill, they burned our fields with the standing grain, summer after summer, so that the harvest was lost. Yet once there was a great Serb empire that stretched from the Black Sea to the Aegean—" Stepan's eyes flashed, and there was a look in them that might have been worn by his great ancestor and namesake, the last of the great medieval Servian Tsars.

"There is a day that we still mark every year," he went on. "The day of the battle of Kossovo, when the Turks annihilated us—though that was more than five hundred years ago. But in the last war we had our revenge, on the great day of Kumanovo, when, though the Turks outnumbered us, we drove them before us and crushed them.

"But I spoke of the women, and I am wandering from the point! We do not want the women to fight, but they come from the villages, where whole companies are recruited from relatives, since we still have almost a patriarchal system. The woman wears men's clothes, and she marches with her husband or her brothers. The officers do not know, and—they fight well. They have known what it is, some of those women, to see their homes burned and their mothers slain by Turks. They know that a free Servia means more than a name!"

"I hadn't thought about it just that way," said Dick. "But I see that you are right. It is just the same thing as with our pioneers. The women of those days did fight the Indians, and for just such reasons. I'm going to get you to tell me more about Servian history some time. You know, until the Balkan War Servia and Bulgaria weren't much more than names to us in America or to most of us. We were surprised and mighty pleased, of course, when you smashed the Turks the way you did."

"Everyone was surprised," said Stepan. His face grew dark. "And there is another thing we hold against Austria. We were good friends, we little states of the Balkans. We had fought a great war, and we would have continued to be good friends had it not been for Austria. But she stepped in when peace was to be made, and said what we could have and what we must not touch. She would not give us the window on the sea that we had paid for with our blood. And she tricked Bulgaria into attacking us and so starting the second war."

"How was that?"

"She thought Bulgaria was strong enough to beat us, and she promised to help if Bulgaria were too weak. Everyone thought, you see, that the Bulgarian troops were the best in the Balkans. They forgot that we helped them to win Adrianople, and that we and the Greeks won our great victories unaided. And then, when we crushed Bulgaria within two weeks, Austria broke her word, and Bulgaria was left helpless. We acted in self defence, but we were sorry."

"I supposed that Servia hated Bulgaria now, Steve. And Greece, too."

"As to Greece, I cannot say. Her people are not Slavs. But we and the Bulgarians are blood brothers. We would not have fought except for Austrian trickery and Austrian lying—that they call diplomacy."

"Will Bulgaria fight again in this war?"

"I do not know. There is a great effort being made to revive the Balkan League and add Roumania to it. Roumania is stronger than any of us now, because, though she helped us at the end of the war with Bulgaria, she did no real fighting at all, and it did not exhaust her to gain what she did from the wars. If we can win what Austria denied us before, and Bosnia and Herzegovina, perhaps, as well, we will not grudge Bulgaria what we had to keep from her in Macedonia after the war with Turkey, and we will help her, too, to recover Adrianople. You remember that the Turks took that back from her when we had beaten her down."

"So Bulgaria may be on your side?"

"Yes. And I think it very likely, because she is near us and far from Austria, which might offer to help her. If she attacked us, too, Greece would come to our aid. But that depends on many things. If Russia helps us, that will make a difference. And it is a question of what Italy will do, also. But this is not getting us anywhere. You are game to come with me?"


"Then let us start. We are going to get a motor boat on the Danube—not on the Save—and try to run the gauntlet of the Austrian monitors. I think it is safe enough, because they believe that they have the river entirely under their control. I think it will be easier to get into Semlin than it was to get out last night."

"Well, I'm ready whenever you give the word."



It was beginning to grow dark when they set out from Steve's house.

Maritza, the old servant who seemed to idolize Steve, had given them a wonderful meal. Dick liked the old peasant woman. She reminded him of the stories he had read of old southern mammies. It was plain that she was wholly devoted to the Dushan family, and that she would do anything for them. But in spite of that, she ordered Steve around as if he had been a child of her own, and Steve, who seemed to Dick to possess a goodly share of independence, accepted her orders with the utmost meekness.

"She was with the family before I was born," he explained. "I can remember how she used to order me about when I was a little chap. And she's pretty nearly as bad with my father, too. I can tell you he does what he's told. It's a wonder she hasn't insisted on going with him in the campaign, just to make sure that he changes his shoes when his feet get wet and wears heavy clothes when it's cold!"

Dick laughed, but he could understand Maritza's attitude well enough. She had mothered him, too, and, despite his excitement, which made him inclined to slight his meal, had insisted on his eating generously.

"I don't know what mischief you two boys will be up to to-night," she had said, "but if you've got a good hot meal in your stomachs you'll be in a better condition for it, whatever it is."

As they left the house, Steve explained that they had a long walk before them.

"Horses are at a premium," he said. "Otherwise we might have ridden, because I could have got them. But they are so badly needed in the field that everyone has given up all the animals that are at all fit for service."

"You don't use cavalry very much, though, do you?"

"No, not as a rule. Our men fight better on foot, and a great deal of our fighting is done in mountainous country that is all split up with ravines and clumps of woods. It was so, at least, against the Turks and the Bulgarians. But in this war there will be some chance for cavalry, at first, anyhow. And, besides, the horses are needed for the guns."

"Oh, yes! I didn't think of that. You don't use motor cars much, I suppose?"

"We can't. We haven't the roads. If the French get in, they and the Germans will use cars a great deal, I suppose, for all sorts of things. But our roads are too bad for that. It's just as well, because the Austrians have had so much more money to spend than we that they are far ahead of us. They've got better heavy guns than we, too, but I don't think they'll get much more chance to use them. We are not going to shut ourselves up in fortresses. And when it comes to field pieces we can hold our own with them a good deal better."

"Field guns will be the ones most used, won't they?"

"We think so. We've got light guns that are easy to move about, and we've got the men who know how to handle them, too. Our men are all veterans, and that is going to make a lot of difference. They know what it is to have hard fighting, and if things go against them at first it won't bother them. My father says that the experience we have had in actual war will be worth five army corps."

"Who is the commander-in-chief?"

"General Pushkin. Everyone agrees that he was the one great soldier that the Balkan wars produced. He won his battles against the Turks easily, and without the loss of great numbers of men, and when the Bulgarians attacked, we and the Greeks fought the campaign according to his strategy. The German military attaché said that General Pushkin was fit to command the greatest army in the world. He said he was a military genius of the first rank, and one of the greatest soldiers developed in Europe since the time of von Moltke."

"Then he must be good, because the Germans know a good soldier when they see him."

"He has done everything that has been required of him so far. This war with Austria will be his great test—only he doesn't regard it as a test, but as an opportunity. My father says that that is the true mark of a man's character. He says the weak man, who hasn't got it in him to succeed, thinks of a difficult thing he has to do, or to try to do, as a trial, a test, and that the big man, who is sure to amount to something, simply looks at it as a chance to show what he has in him."

"I know what you mean." Dick nodded. "My own father used to say that, too. That was the trouble with Mike Hallo, I guess. If things looked hard he was always complaining, and my father used to get pretty sore at him sometimes. My father just gritted his teeth and went to work. I remember hearing them talk about the panic a few years ago. An awful lot of business houses were smashed then, but my father pulled through, though Hallo wanted to quit. He said they would only be throwing good money after bad if they kept on."

They had been walking briskly while they talked, and it was not long before they came to the flat, marshy ground near the banks of the Danube. Here it was a sluggish, thick, yellow stream, flowing along impressively because of its bulk, but lacking every element of beauty and romance.

"This doesn't look much like the beautiful blue Danube, does it, Steve?" Dick suggested.

"No," said Steve, with a laugh. "It's not pretty—not here. There is some fine scenery between here and the coast, though, where it marks the boundary between Roumania and Bulgaria. And it's all historic. On the Bulgarian side further down, the ground is high, with a sharp ascent from the river. There was some fierce fighting in the Russo-Turkish war—the war that freed Bulgaria, you know, and really helped a lot to make Servia free, too. At one place the Russians crossed in boats and stormed the heights, with the Turks above, firing down on them."

"They must have been brave in those days!"

"The Russians? There are no braver troops in Europe—there never have been!"

"They didn't do very well against the Japanese."

"It wasn't the fault of the soldiers. Their generals were poor, and everything was badly managed. I think that if the Germans despise the Russian army they are making a great mistake. Russia learned many lessons in the war with Japan, and when she fights again, soldiers will be in command, not politicians. Here we are; this is the boat."

Dick looked curiously at the little craft. She was painted a dull, leaden grey, and he could guess that at a very short distance it would be almost impossible to detect her. In other ways, too, she was especially designed for the business she was intended for.

"Isn't she a little beauty?" said Steve, enthusiastically. "See—that's armor plate, very thin, of course, but tough and strong, that covers her entirely on the outside. Then she's decked over with armor plate, too, so that one can be inside and expose practically nothing. The engine is sheathed the same way, and all the essential working parts. She can pass through a rain of bullets without being hurt; it would take a shell to make any real impression on her, and she's so fast that it would be a hard job for a man to get her with one."

"I never saw anything like her," said Dick. "You say she's fast, too?"

"Twenty-five miles an hour easily, Dick! That's fast enough for anything she's ever likely to have to do. The Austrians have launches, armed and armored ones, but nothing that's in a class with this boat for speed and power."

"She doesn't carry any guns, though?"

"No. She's meant to run away, not to fight. There are a couple of rifles and automatic pistols and ammunition aboard, but really she is a scout, pure and simple, and she would only fight to escape. You see, with such a lot of armor plate and defensive equipment generally, they had to figure pretty carefully on weight, or they'd have lost speed. And speed's the most important thing with a boat like this. All aboard, now! We'll be off in a minute!"

Dick took his place aboard, and found that there was plenty of room under the plate of steel that covered almost the whole length of the little boat. Then Steve followed him, and in a moment the engine was purring and they were moving away.

"That's the quietest motor I ever heard in a power boat," said Dick.

"Exhaust under water and a special muffler as well," said Steve. "She'd be useless if she gave herself away when she was a mile from anyone, wouldn't she?"

"It means less speed, though."

"Yes, that's so. But it doesn't make difference enough to make up for the safety it gives. You see, we could pass within a cable length of one of those Austrian monitors now and they'd never know it. We'll have to do just about that, too, before the night's over, I'm afraid."

"Where are you going to land, Steve? In Semlin itself?"

"No. That would be too risky and there's no need for it. I'm going to keep right on up the Danube, past the mouth of the Save, and we'll land above the town and circle back. They'll keep a very sharp lookout now along the river bank in Semlin, but I don't think they'll be so careful on this side. They'll trust to their river patrol and the mines."

"You think the river will be mined?"

"Oh, surely!"

"Wouldn't it be a good thing for your side to do some mining, too?"

"It's probably been done already, especially in the Save. We have only one or two small gun-boats, which wouldn't have a chance in a fight with the Austrians on water. But I think we'll be able to make them see that it isn't any too safe for their monitors. We can't beat the Austrians by main strength, so we'll have to use all the tricks we can. I think they'll find out before very long that there are more ways of killing a dog than by shooting him."

Now they were out in midstream. Perhaps a mile above them, as they swung diagonally across the river, an Austrian monitor, painted a dun color so that she was almost the hue of the river, was swinging at anchor, squat and ugly, but menacing and business-like in her appearance, too. Steve did not lay his course up the middle of the broad stream, however. Instead, he slipped well over to the east bank, and began moving swiftly upstream when he was under the shadow of the eastern bank, here rising fairly well.

If anyone on the monitor observed them there was no sign of it. They passed her, and another of the same type. On the Hungarian shore, above them, occasionally they could hear the calling of sentries. The Austrians were guarding the river carefully, and Steve chuckled a little as he heard these evidences of careful watching. Then they passed the mouth of the Save, and were wholly in Austrian or, rather, Hungarian territory. For now the bank on both sides was part of the Dual Monarchy.

At the confluence of the two rivers a blaze of light swept the water constantly, but there was still dense shadow under the eastern bank of the Danube, for the chief concern of the Austrians seemed to be for a dash of some sort down the Save. Danger from the other direction seemed not to be thought of at all.

Once past that pool of light, it was a matter of ten minutes of fast running. Then Steve swerved sharply and cut across the river, to run into a little, sheltered inlet, and under a door that was raised at a blast from a peculiar compressed air whistle. They were in a small boathouse—a perfect concealment for the little motor boat. The house was built right over the water, and there was no danger now that prowlers would find her.

Inside, as the boat glided under the door, which slipped down into place beside her, was a man in Austrian uniform, a fact that startled Dick tremendously at first. Steve noticed this, and grinned.

"Don't be afraid," he said. "This man is a good Serb, though he is not a Servian. He is one of us, but he is an Austrian subject, and forced to serve in their army—which he does willingly enough, since he can help us greatly by doing so. There are many such Serbs in Austrian uniform to-day, but most of them will be sent to other parts of the theatre of war, if Austria has brought on a general war."

The soldier had a boat hook out, and now he drew them to a landing stage and made the boat fast as they leaped out.

Steve indulged in a low-toned conversation with the Austrian, and frowned. Then he turned to Dick.

"Dick, I don't like to ask you to do this," he said, "but will you stay here alone for a few minutes? I find I have to join a secret meeting. They don't know about you yet, and it is absolutely forbidden to introduce a stranger at such a meeting without notice. You understand? I'll be back soon."

"Go ahead!" said Dick. "I don't mind staying here a bit, Steve, and I see how it is, of course. You can't help it."

"I thought you'd say that," said Steve, greatly relieved. "All right! I'll be back just as soon as I can, and it certainly won't be long."

Then Steve and the soldier went out. For a few moments there was silence. And then a closet door opened, and Dick, paralyzed with fear and dismay, saw a face emerge—the face of Mike Hallo!



"Where is Milikoff?" Steve Dushan asked the soldier, as soon as they were outside. They had left the boathouse, of course, by the land side, and moved swiftly away from the water side.

"He is at the house by the pond," answered the soldier. "The others were there too, ten minutes ago. But since then anything may have happened!"

"Yes," said Stepan, grimly. "It was stupid work—letting Hallo get away, when once they had him in their grip! Still, there is no use in crying over spilt milk. We must get him back, that is all. He knows the thing that we have got to learn, and I think we shall be able to persuade him to share his knowledge with us!"

"No doubt," said the soldier, shrugging his shoulders. "The man who plays with both sides is always weak. It is always a dangerous thing to run with the hare and ride with the hounds!"

The country hereabout was flat and waste, low-lying marsh lands, with here and there a pond coming close to the road. Beside one of these ponds, which, at a guess, might be useful in winter for the ice it would carry, stood a small house, from one window of which a light showed.

"Wait for me here," said Steve to the soldier, and went inside. He gained admittance by a peculiar knock, and the door was opened for him at once by a man in the garb of a priest. Stepan laughed at himself for starting back.

"Aha, you didn't know me!" said the priest, with a merry laugh. "Now I know that this is a good disguise!"

"Yes, it's a good one, Milikoff," said Stepan. "But what is this about Hallo? Did you actually let him escape after holding him here?"

"Yes," growled Milikoff, all his pleasure in the excellence of his disguise vanishing. "He has been here fifty times before; that was the chance we took, since we had to meet him somewhere. He came alone to-night, and we were able to seize him very easily. And then, just as I saw that it was nearly time for you to come, he had gone!"

"How did he get away?"

"He fooled us all by showing something none of us thought he had—a little courage! He dropped from the window above. That was how we knew he was gone, for he broke a pane of glass in one of the greenhouse beds as he dropped. We rushed out—"

"You were so near as that, and still he got away?" said Stepan, with a groan.

"Oh, we were out after him at once!" said Milikoff. "He ran toward the river, and we were after him. We drove him in. We have that much consolation, Stepan—we drove him into the water, and though we watched a long time for him to come up, there was no sign of him. I think he drowned like the rat he was!"

"You think so, and it does seem probable. But we can't be sure! And, even so, he is worth more to us alive than dead. For the time, at least. He is a wretched traitor—treacherous to both sides. I wouldn't mind his death, because he has sent hundreds of men better than himself to death of late. But I wish we had been able to hold him and use him. He would have been afraid of us, I think, when he discovered how much we knew!"

"It would have been enough for him to see you, Stepan, and know that you were one of us, I think. He would have guessed very quickly what you were doing during all those weeks when you were so close to him. That is what has saved us. If it had not been for you we would have trusted him, I think, with his tale of how the Austrian government had wronged him, and his pretence that he was one of a group that wanted a free and independent Hungary!"

Stepan was thinking hard.

"Where are the others?" he asked.

"They are busy in the town. We are almost ready to blow up the arsenal, and perhaps we shall be able to finish the tunnel and plant the mine to-night."

"That will be good," Stepan nodded, "unless Hallo has warned them. It was he who gave us the information as to just where we should have to place the mine, and he must have guessed what use we would make of it."

"Perhaps so. But they have not moved any of the stores. If we can explode our mine, we shall strike a good blow for Servia."

"We may say that without boasting, Milikoff. The reserve ammunition for two corps is here. They have been careless because they did not expect anything like a general engagement for some time, especially when the government moved to Nish. But I am uneasy still about Hallo."

"I think you need not be, Stepan. I tell you we were right on his heels, and there was no way for him to escape. He went into the water beyond a doubt, and I do not believe that he was strong enough to swim the Danube. Besides, we would have seen him had he done that, and shot him."

"I don't think he swam the Danube, I'm quite sure he could not have managed that. What I am afraid of is that he doubled on his tracks in some fashion and got ashore."

"But that was even more impossible, I tell you! We expected him to try to do that, and we watched out especially to make it too hard for him to do it, even though he is as slippery as an eel."

"And still I should like to make sure, I think. I shall have to go into Semlin."

"To look for him? It will be risky."

"Perhaps, but it can't be helped. I doubt if it will be so risky, though. I'm not sure that even Hallo suspects yet that I was more than I seemed."

"Wouldn't your sudden disappearance just at this critical time give it away to him?"

"I don't think so, because I was very careful to arrange a good excuse. I have talked for two or three weeks of the illness of my uncle in Buda-Pesth, and have said that if he became worse perhaps I might have to go home very suddenly. And I left a note in the office when I came out yesterday, because I was sure I would not be back, saying I had been called away. I didn't say I was going to Buda-Pesth—just that I was called away."

"Well, if no one else had any reason to suspect you, you will be safe enough, for you won't see Hallo."

"I am going, anyhow. But first, Milikoff—you are to stay here, I suppose?"

"Yes, until daybreak, at least."

"Good! I left a friend at the boathouse—an American, but one who is with us, heart and soul, and has proved it at the risk of his life already. I want him to come here and wait for me."

"You are sure he is all right? We have to be careful, Stepan."

"If you can trust me, you can trust Dick Warner," said Stepan.

"That is enough. Let him come!"

"Right! I will send Vanya."

He stepped to the door and called to the Serb in the Austrian uniform, who was waiting outside.

"Vanya," he said, "will you go back to the boathouse and return with the friend I left there? Tell him that I want him to come, and show him the way."

"At once," said the soldier, and was off.

Stepan returned and found Milikoff studying some papers.

"You had better keep a guard at the boathouse when you have a man to send there," suggested Stepan. "Vanya will be on duty before long, I suppose?"

"Yes. We shall not be able to use him again. Not at once, at least. I am surprised that we have had the chance to use him at all. But, as a matter of fact, two Serbo-Croatian regiments are here, or near here."

"The Austrians are in a tight place," said Stepan, with a laugh. "They know that they may have to fight Italy, and so they are sending the Italian troops from the Trentino and Trieste to the Galician frontier, to fight the Russians. And they have to use every regiment. They might as well keep their Serbs and Croats here—they will fight as readily against Servia as against Russia. If they could spare first line troops for garrison work and for watching the Italian border, they might manage. But they cannot. That duty they must leave to the reserves and the old men. I believe their plan is to surround the troops that may be disaffected with Hungarians and true Austrians who can be depended upon absolutely."

"They can depend upon their Hungarian levies now," said Milikoff. "But for how long will that be true? If a few battles are lost, if Russian troops pour through the passes of the Carpathians and the Cossacks come within sight of Buda-Pesth? After all, Hungary is an independent kingdom, and a part of the Austrian empire only of her own free will. Her army is her own, and she has her own parliament and her own ministers. There is no reason why she should not have a king of her own again when she chooses. We may see the rise of another Kossuth, who would force Hungary to make peace with Russia and with Servia. At least you may live to see it."

"Do you really think so?" asked Stepan, eagerly. "That would be glorious! Oh, we are lucky, after all, Milikoff, we Servians! Our country may be small, but it is our own. We do not have to rule a score of different subject races. All those who live under our flag do so willingly. We do not have to drive our soldiers into the ranks with whips and threats of shooting."

"No! And after this war, if God is still with us, as he has been, our brothers in Bosnia and Herzegovina, in Albania, too, will come under our flag. The old Serb kingdom will be fully restored. Montenegro will join us, and we shall have borders that are made by the limits of the Serb race."

"There has been talk of annexing part of Hungary when we win," said Stepan.

"Slavonia we can take, because it is peopled by our kin, Stepan. But we want no Magyars under our rule. Let them keep their country. Or else we should face the troubles we have brought upon them."

Stepan looked at his watch and tossed his head impatiently.

"Time for me to be off," he said. "Why are they so long? I want to see Dick before I go, but I can't wait much longer—"

He was interrupted by the sudden appearance of Vanya, the soldier who had gone to fetch Dick.

"He is not there!" he cried. "The boathouse is empty—except for the boat in which you came!"

Stepan and Milikoff stared at one another, aghast.

"This is Hallo's work!" said Stepan, furiously. "He has a grudge against this friend of mine! Ah, I see it all now, Milikoff—how he escaped! He went into the water—you are right! But tell me, now—was it near the boathouse?"

"Yes, now that I remember, it was."

"Then can't you see what happened? He dived and swam under the door. It would be easy enough for anyone who could swim at all well and knew the ground. Heavens, he must have been in there when we first came in with the boat!"

And now their dismay knew no bounds. Milikoff saw that Stepan was right; it was exactly what must have happened.

"I'm a dolt—a fool!" he cried, bitterly. "That I never thought to search the boathouse!"

"Who would have thought?" said Stepan. "But it is no time to think of what is done and can't be undone. Now, more than ever, I must go after him. I have to try to save my friend, and it is doubly imperative now that we should catch Hallo."

"Let me come with you!"

"No. Your work is too important for you to take risks. I will go alone."



In the boathouse where Stepan had left him, Dick knew almost as soon as he saw Mike Hallo's narrow eyes appear around the closet door, that Mike had not seen him as yet. But he was too frightened to take any advantage of that consciously. Dick had proved that he was not a coward, and yet he was afraid of Hallo. He knew that the man hated him, and, for some reason, feared him. And here, where he would be so completely in his power, there would be nothing to restrain Hallo. He would not even have to call in the police to help him; he could get rid of a boy who threatened him without a witness. And Dick knew enough of Mike Hallo to feel that he would not be deterred by any scruples.

In another moment Mike's little eyes, peering around the dimly lighted room, but not yet well enough accustomed to even that much light after the utter darkness of the closet, would have fallen on Dick. But fear loosened Dick's hold on the electric flashlight that, by pure chance, happened to be in his hand. He started with dismay and tried to catch it, succeeding partly, so that it made only the faintest of noises as it struck a button of his coat. But that was enough. Hallo heard it, and started.

Yet it was that trifling accident that saved Dick. For Hallo, startled, and nervous himself, as of course he had good cause to be, better cause than Dick could guess, darted back into his closet at once. For a moment as Dick stared at it with fixed eyes, the closet door remained ajar. Then very slowly, very quietly, it was drawn to, until it clicked, and was firmly closed. On the instant, then, Dick moved.

He took the chance of being heard, and made a swift dash for the boat. His reason was a twofold one. For one thing, it offered the only possible place of concealment, aside from the closet that Mike Hallo had already preëmpted for himself, and it contained the weapons of which Steve had told him. Dick knew how to use a pistol, and he felt that with a gun of some sort in his possession he would have a chance at least with Hallo, even if he were armed. He would not hesitate to shoot, he told himself, if he had to. He had reason enough to believe that Hallo would not spare him, and in self-defence he would be justified in taking any means to save himself.

But he did not think it was particularly likely that it would come to anything so desperate now as a hand-to-hand struggle. He was recovering his nerve, and the panic that had possessed him when he had first seen Hallo's face had passed. Once he was in the boat, well concealed by the steel hood, he felt that the odds were in his favor, rather than against him, and he could stop to think and reason, which he had certainly not been able to do in the first moment of shocked surprise.

He felt the main thing that favored him was that Hallo was at least as badly frightened as he was himself. And that, after all, stood to reason. The very fact that the man was here at all seemed to Dick proof that he knew the character of this place, and that he was here as a spy. Then he would naturally be startled by a sudden sound, for he would think that it betokened the return of one of the Servian spies who used this as a hiding place and refuge.

"He would know, of course," Dick thought, "that they wouldn't hesitate any more over shooting him than if he were a mad dog. They couldn't, because he isn't threatening only their safety by being here, but their whole plan. And men who are brave enough to be spies in time of war aren't thinking of themselves at all, but of their country."

This was comforting reasoning for Dick, because it made it vastly improbable that Hallo would come out to look for him. He would be concerned with the problem of escaping himself; he would not think of looking for anyone else, but of preventing someone who was looking for him from finding him. So it seemed likely to Dick that he would escape any sort of personal encounter with Hallo, and he was glad of that. He had the same feeling that Stepan had expressed to Milikoff, although, of course, he knew nothing of that talk, nor of how Hallo had happened to come to this place. It seemed to him that Hallo would be worth more to the Servians alive than dead, and it was certain that the only chance for the success of the mission that had brought him from New York to Semlin would be gone if anything happened to Hallo.

From his position, crouched down in the bottom of the boat, Dick could see the closet door. And, as it began to move again, after five nerve racking minutes, Dick clutched his revolver, feeling that it was a pretty good thing to have as an ally, even if it was so unlikely that he would have occasion to use it. His fear had passed away altogether by this time, and a bold plan was beginning to come into his mind. But its execution depended upon Hallo and what that swindler might do next.

For just a second, as Hallo came out into the boathouse, Dick thought of starting up suddenly, covering him with a revolver, and forcing him to surrender. But he decided against that. Mike Hallo, as he knew, was not without a certain crude sort of physical courage. If he was armed—as it was practically certain that he was—he might be able to put up a good struggle. And, though Dick was no longer afraid for himself, he felt that it would involve too great a risk of letting the man get clear away if he followed his impulse.

So he kept perfectly still, instead, while Hallo came out and finally stood in the middle of the part of the boathouse that had a floor. He leaned forward, like a bird dog when it is in doubt, and seemed to be sniffing the air, though Dick knew that he was really only listening with concentrated attention. He was listening, not for a real noise, but for those almost inevitable sounds that the quietest person must make. It seemed extraordinary to Dick that Mike could not hear his breathing, or the beating of his heart, which sounded so abnormally loud to him. But hear them Mike did not, evidently, for after a moment he relaxed and heaved a sigh of relief.

"I'm getting jumpy," he said to himself, aloud, in English. "I guess that wasn't anything I heard before. Just a board creaking, maybe!"

Dick grinned and maintained his silence. And then Hallo, after walking about for half a minute, looked toward the boat.

"If only I knew how to run that!" he said, still aloud.

But, fortunately for Dick, and for Servia, as it was to turn out, he knew nothing of the intricate mechanism of the boat, and so he did not even come over to the water's edge for a closer inspection. Instead, he made for the door, flung it open, and strode out as it banged to behind him.

Dick was after him like a flash, but with his hand on the knob some instinct made him let go and shrink back against the wall. His instinct served him well indeed, for as he did so the door was flung open violently, and Hallo stood in it, looking all about the boathouse a second time.

"Not a soul!" he said aloud. "I must have been dreaming when I heard that noise!"

And all the time Dick was within a foot of him, his pistol gripped tight, ready for anything that might happen!

This time he did not close the door, but turned and walked away. That very action proved that he was no longer afraid that anyone was behind him, for he would not have turned his back had there been any lingering doubt.

And now Dick, giving him a good start, stole after him. He had hesitated as to whether or not he should do so. He had promised to wait for Stepan's return, and he did not like to go without some explanation. But it seemed to him that it was of the utmost importance for him to follow Hallo.

"He's not supposed to be here or to know anything about this place," he said to himself. "And now he may do anything, or go anywhere. He may betray all sorts of secrets. I don't know how long he was in that closet before we came, nor how much he heard—nor what the things he heard meant to him. I didn't understand, but that's no reason for thinking that he didn't. Yes, I'll have to take the chance of worrying Steve and upsetting his plans. I'm going after Mike Hallo. He's my quarry to-night!"

Dick knew that he was taking chances, and perhaps big chances, when he set out to follow Hallo. But he did not stop to think very much about them. He did not have time to think of anything but the work in hand, for Hallo, not content with walking fast, had broken into a run.

Dick understood the reason for that when, in his turn, he heard footsteps; that was what had frightened his man into beginning to run. And Dick ran too, not knowing that the steps were those of Vanya, the soldier, who was on his way to the boathouse with the message from Stepan.

Hallo had all the advantage. He knew the country and Dick did not. Moreover, he could set the pace, and Dick had to follow. To lose sight of Hallo even for a moment meant to risk losing him altogether. And Dick, moreover, dared not follow too closely. He had to be far enough behind to make it impossible for Hallo to learn of his pursuit by stopping suddenly, or making a quick turn.

It was a wild chase that Dick had. Hallo, for a man of his size and years—he was well over forty—made surprisingly good time, and gave Dick, as a matter of fact, all he could do to keep him in sight. And the way was long. Dick was greatly relieved when they came at last from open country into a section where houses were closer together and streets began to take form. In a measure his own risk was greater as they approached the town, but it was also possible for him to get much closer to the man he was trailing, since shelter was so much more frequent. The danger here was of running into the police, but Dick did not greatly fear that.

"I needn't worry about the ordinary policemen," he told himself. "I don't believe they know me at all. I could probably go up to any of them and ask the time, or the way to the railway station, and get away with it all right. It's only the ones who were on my track after I'd been to Hallo's office that I've got to look out for, and I'm not sure that even they would know me."

And now Hallo himself unwittingly made it safer and easier for his dogged pursuer, for instead of going toward the central part of Semlin, where policemen would be more numerous, and where the men who had gone to make the arrest at Dick's lodgings were almost sure to be posted, he circled through the poorer quarter toward the commercial district by the river.

"Oh, this is fine!" thought Dick. "I'll bet he's going to his office before he makes any report. I wonder if Stepan will think of him when I'm missing?"

Dick had to move up very close here, for the streets were crowded with people, and it would have been easy for him to lose his man in the jumble of figures. Several times now Hallo, as he neared his office, was stopped by passersby. He shook them off impatiently when they tried to detain him, however, and once Dick was near enough to hear him say, in an impatient tone: "Let me go! I have an appointment to keep at my warehouse."

And now Dick had a new inspiration. He determined to take a chance. And instead of following Hallo, he seized the opportunity when someone had stopped the Hungarian for a moment, and darted well ahead. He got a good start, and turned the corner of the block leading to the warehouse well ahead of Hallo. In a moment he was inside. Luck was with him, and he hid himself behind a big packing case in Hallo's room.



Crouched behind the packing case, Dick waited, wondering what was to come next. Now that he was here, he felt that he had done a foolish thing, and one only likely to lead to more trouble. There was so little chance for him to accomplish anything of value, and he was not even sure that Hallo would come here at all. Perhaps he was going somewhere else, and he had simply walked into a trap without even a chance of getting any results.

Yet luck had been with him so far in good measure. He had been almost marvelously lucky in the boathouse. That Hallo had not seen him there had been due only to fortune, and scarcely at all, in the first perilous moment, to any action of his own. And he had been lucky again in his trip into the city with Hallo ahead of him. In war time, as he knew, people were likely to be suspicious of any stranger, even of one acting in the most ordinary fashion. And his behavior, as he dodged and trailed after Hallo, had been more than suspicious.

And finally, too, his getting into Hallo's office and finding a place to conceal himself so well had been luck of the greatest sort. He had taken a wild chance when he darted ahead of his man, for he might well have found the door closed and locked, and have been caught by Hallo before he could have got away. But he had staked everything on the hazard that there ought to be a night watchman, as there would be, he knew, in any American warehouse. And a night watchman there was. He had seen the light of a man's lantern, as he came up to the door, from a second floor window. The door had been open, and so he had slipped in.

The very fact that the door was open, too, encouraged him. It seemed to him to make it certain that Hallo was expected some time that night. And then a sound of brisk footsteps on the uncarpeted floor just outside the office set his pulses leaping. Was it Hallo?

He could not tell, and he dared not emerge from his shelter enough to see. In a moment the room was light, but Dick was still hidden, and the movements of whoever had come in were hidden from him, too. But he was sure of one thing after a very few moments. It was not Hallo with whom he now shared the room. The newcomer's movements were too brisk, too quick, for Hallo, who was slow moving, rather heavy footed, though agile enough when it was necessary. Consumed by curiosity, Dick gradually edged over so that he might have a chance to steal a look around the edge of the big packing case without being seen himself.

He succeeded at last, and just as he looked around, the door was opened. Hallo came in, and Dick darted back—but not until he had seen that the other occupant of the room was Stepan Dushan! Now he felt that he was amply justified for what he had done. Steve was here, and between them there should be a chance to do something, he thought!

"What are you doing here?" growled Hallo, as he saw Stepan.

"I came to try to catch up with my work, sir," said Stepan, meekly. "Since I could not be here to-day during the day, I thought it would be better if I got ready for to-morrow, so that in the morning no time would be lost."

"H'mph!" growled Hallo. He hesitated for a moment; then, half satisfied, sat down at his desk.

"Did you have a fall, sir?" asked Stepan, and Dick almost choked with laughter at his tone. "You're all covered with mud. Shall I get a brush and try to take some of it off?"

"No! Attend to your work!" roared Hallo. "Or here—clear out of here! I'm going to be busy, and I want to be alone."

It seemed to Dick that Stepan was hesitating, that he was on the verge of refusing to obey, and so of giving everything away. But he yielded, after just a moment's pause.

"Very well, sir," he said. "I'll go down to the stock-room and make the tally from last night's sheets."

"All right. Be off!" said Hallo, ungraciously.

And now one thing filled Dick's mind. How much had Hallo seen or heard while he was hidden in the closet of the boathouse? Did he know Stepan's real work, and the part he was playing in these stirring times? If he did, and had concealed his knowledge, it meant that he was laying a trap for Stepan, and it meant, too, that he was a good actor, for he had managed to conceal his knowledge admirably if he really possessed it.

Nothing that Dick knew of Hallo made it seem at all likely that he could dissemble well enough to keep from betraying his knowledge, if he had it. But Dick felt that it would not be safe to assume that, because his father had trusted Hallo to a great extent, and had supposed him to be an honorable business man, and there had certainly never been anything in his conduct to suggest that he would behave as he had done. And, moreover in New York he had seemed a plodding, stolid business man, and had never seemed to have it in him to play a part in the sort of intrigue that so evidently occupied much of his time in Semlin.

For a time the room was absolutely quiet. Dick wondered where Steve had gone. He was sure, somehow, that his chum was within reach, probably within hearing, waiting like himself for Hallo to do something. And Dick guessed, too, that Steve must have discovered by this time that the boathouse was empty, and thought that perhaps it was in search of him that Steve was here. That worried him, but for the time there was nothing to be done; he could only wait. The one preparation he could make for whatever might be coming was to get very close to the edge of his shelter, so that he could with little risk peep out from time to time. Each time that he looked out he saw Hallo, head bent low over the table, writing furiously.

Then came the break in the tension. Outside, echoing on the flags, came hurried footsteps. Dick listened eagerly. They turned in and came clattering up the steps. He dared not risk a peep just then to see who was coming. For the time, he decided, his ears must do the work of his eyes as well as their own share. He heard Hallo spring up, overturning his chair.

"You! Here?" cried Hallo, in a low voice. "Are you mad, man?"

"No. I had to come," said the newcomer. "It was impossible to send word, and you had to know—someone had to know! I suppose it was risky for me to come here, but they are all at work. All except Milikoff, and I don't know where he is."

"He led a band of assassins who tried to kill me earlier in the evening," growled Hallo. "But there are others, at least two others, here somewhere. They came in this evening, from the other side."

"From the other side?" said the stranger, in amazement. "But how could that be? The river front is guarded so that a strange fly could hardly cross from Belgrade to Semlin!"

"Don't you know of the boathouse near Milikoff's place?"

Hallo's tone was suddenly menacing. Dick could imagine that he was leaning forward, pushing his heavy jaw into the face of the other man. He remembered that trick of the Hungarian's.

"Boathouse—near Milikoff's? No!" stammered the other. "I never heard of it before!"

"H'mph!" Hallo's voice expressed doubt, distrust. "Perhaps not! Well, I came upon it by chance to-night, and it saved my life. They seized me to-night when I was in conference with them—the treacherous hounds! But they are Servians! I might have expected it! I escaped, and they chased me! They chased me right into the Danube! I swam, while they peppered the water. They had those new silencers, so that it was safe to shoot. And by the merest chance, when I was nearly exhausted, I suddenly saw a door in front of me, as I was trying to swim ashore in an inlet, in the hope of escaping after I had landed. I dived, and came up in a boathouse. The door could be raised, you see, to admit a boat. There was a closet, and I hid."

"That is news to me! I never heard that there was such a place!"

"I drew the closet door to when I heard a man come in. Soon afterward a motor boat entered, and two men landed from her. I could hear their voices dully—that closet door was thick, and it was so hot and close inside that I was almost suffocated. I do not know who they were except that I think Vanya, the soldier, was the man who opened for them. Later, when they had gone, I got out and came here."

"It is good that you came. Master, it is to-night that they plan to strike a great blow. They have dug a tunnel beneath the arsenal. I am almost sure that it is to-night they have chosen to explode a great mine that will destroy the arsenal completely, with all the stores and guns it contains!"

Hallo swore savagely.

"You have done well!" he said. "Eh, there is time yet, you think, to stop them? How is it that you do not know more concerning their plans?"

"They do not trust me wholly. I know only what I can learn by spying and ferreting about. They tell me almost nothing. But I am sure that I am right. Look—I will draw you a plan that will show you where the tunnel is. I think that if you hasten you can catch most of them like rats in a trap. Milikoff is not there. He is the most dangerous of all, save one."

"Who is more dangerous than Milikoff?"

"The boy Stepan Dushan!"

"Stepan Dushan! I do not believe there is such a boy! You tell me of him, but you can never show him to me!"

For a moment Dick could not understand. But then he smiled at his own stupidity. Of course Steve was known to Mike Hallo under an assumed name; he would never have used his own, so obviously that of a Servian.

"It makes no difference whether you believe me or not, I am telling you the truth," said the newcomer with a show of spirit. "He is young, but he has done more to discover the truth than any of them. He has brought information of the concentration of the Austrian troops along the Drina. It is through him that they learned where the stores and supplies were being massed in the mountains there. I told you yesterday of the plans that were made for a Servian raid, but it was too late. A raiding column crossed the Drina last night and destroyed most of the stores you had collected."

"There has been a leak somewhere in my own place!" said Hallo, savagely. "Even the men who executed the orders did not know where those supplies were going! I trusted no one!"

"That is just the bad part of it, master," said the spy. "They will be saying next that you yourself gave away the truth to the Servians."

"Who will believe them?"

"If it is known that you have been in touch with Milikoff?"

"It is known, fool! It is known that I am treating with them simply to gain information of their plans. But now—it is no time for talk. We must move quickly, or they will explode their mine."

He lifted his voice in a sudden shout.

"Jan!" he cried. "Jan!"

And then Dick's heart sank. That must be meant for Steve—and to answer meant deadly peril for Stepan Dushan, since the spy, who had so plainly been betraying Servian secrets to Hallo, knew Stepan. Dick edged forward, waiting, wondering. Now he caught a glimpse of the spy, and then he drew back, as he saw that both Hallo and the other man had come very close to him. They stood just by the box that sheltered him.

"Jan!" cried Hallo again.

"Here I am!" said Stepan's voice. And then, "Serge!"

"Stepan Dushan! That is Stepan Dushan!" shrieked the spy.

Then, before anything more could happen, Dick had an inspiration. He threw his whole weight against the heavy packing case, straining, pushing. It trembled, gave, and then crashed down, bearing Hallo and the spy down beneath its crushing weight, sending them down, stunned and helpless.



"You, Dick? Thank God!" cried Stepan. Then his face flushed, and he came forward, furiously. He dragged the spy out, looked at his face, and then spurned him with his foot.

"You saved my life, I think, Dick," he said, simply. "I never suspected this! Treachery in our ranks. I had not supposed that any Servian would sell his country. Mike Hallo, of course, we never trusted—but this man! Well, he will pay in one way or another."

"I knew what was going to happen. I was here and heard them talking."

"I didn't even know he had come. I had made some discoveries below, and was hard at work. I knew that Hallo would not leave without my knowledge. He would not have wanted to leave me here alone in the warehouse. But, Dick, how did you get here? How did you come to leave the boathouse? I asked you to wait there, you know."

"How did you know I had gone?"

"Vanya, the soldier, told us. I sent him to fetch you. And when we learned that you had gone, we suspected that Hallo had had some part in it, for by then I had been told that he had escaped after they had caught him. But you don't know about that—"

"Don't I though? I was there listening, while he told this other fellow all about it. He was in the boathouse when we landed, Steve!"

"Ah! I knew it! I told Milikoff so! That was how he escaped! But how did you come here—free?"

Dick told his story as quickly as he could; told of how he had escaped from detection in the boathouse because Hallo had been even more frightened than he himself, if anything, and of his wild chase after the Hungarian.

"I was afraid I had done wrong in going—afraid that I should have stayed in the boathouse and waited for you to come. Did you come here after me, Steve? Wasn't that your purpose?"

"Yes, in a way. I thought that Hallo had something to do with your disappearance, and I never dreamed of your being able to fool him as you did! But I should have come in any case. Milikoff and I had decided that before we knew that you had vanished. And if you hadn't been here, Dick, they would have killed me, I think, when this wretched traitor told Hallo that I had been deceiving him."

"He told him more than that, though Hallo did not know it was you of whom they talked, Steve. This spy told him that you were the most dangerous of all—and Hallo said he didn't believe there was any such person as Stepan Dushan!"

They both laughed, and Steve laughed still more when he heard of Hallo's mystification and fury about the revelation of the hiding places of the stores on the Drina.

"That was what made us sure that Austria had decided for war," he said. "We knew that she would not prepare for an invasion there so secretly otherwise. That was why we knew that it would be useless to agree to her terms, even if that had been possible."

"Hallo said no one but himself knew about those stores."

"He was nearly right—but a miss is as good as a mile," said Stepan, with a laugh. "He knew—and the staff knew—and I knew! I found out all about those things by reading his private letters, Dick. That was the part I hated most about the work. I had to read all his letters after we became sure of what he was doing. It made me feel wretched at first, as if I were doing something very dishonorable."

"But you weren't doing it for a dishonorable reason, Steve. Still I can see how you felt."

"But I didn't feel that way very long, Dick, because I soon found out what a miserable cheat and swindler he was! You were surprised, you know, when you found out that I knew all about you."

"I certainly was! I never was so much surprised in all my life!" said Dick very quickly.

"Well, I may have some more surprises for you still, Dick. I'm not sure, but I do know some things I haven't told you yet."

"You do, Steve? Why can't you tell me now?"

"I can, but I want to make sure that they will be of some use to you before I do. If I told you some things I know, they might make you change your plans, and then they might not be of any value, after all. They might only put you off. You see, when I first found out these things about the way he had treated you, I didn't know you and didn't have any reason at all to suppose that I ever would, or that I'd ever even see you. New York's a long way off—and, of course, I was more interested in what was going on here, because I knew that this war might come along at any moment, and I was here just to see what I could do for Servia and to interfere with the things we had reason to suppose Mike Hallo was doing for the Austrians."

"Of course. I can understand that, Steve. There wasn't any reason for you to do as much as you did, and to take all the interest you did in me, when you didn't know anything about me."

"Well, at first I just wanted to help you because I hated him so. I thought there was a chance to spoil the trick he was trying to play on you. When I found that he was planning to get rid of you by having you arrested before you could get back to the American consulate I wanted to trip him up."

"You certainly did a lot for me, Steve. I don't know whether I'll ever be able to get anything out of him, but if I do it will be due to you. If they had ever got me out of here and away to Buda-Pesth, I'd never have been able to come back, even if they had not managed to trump up some charge against me and kept me in prison for a long time."

"Oh, they would have done that, Dick, of course. That was the idea. And it's very easy for them to manage such things here. As easy as it used to be in France before the revolution there."

"What are we going to do now, Steve?"

Dick looked down at the helpless figures of the two men on the floor. Neither of the scouts had paid much attention to them as yet, but now they leaned down and examined them.

"They're not badly hurt," said Steve, contemptuously. "They saw the crate falling and so did I. And they tried to jump. So it didn't fall full on top of them, but struck glancing blows on their heads and almost pushed them out of the way. I don't see how you ever got it going at all, all by yourself! It looks terribly heavy."

"I think it was because it wasn't very well balanced, Steve. If it had been turned the other way probably I couldn't have budged it. But the heavy end was on top, which made it go over. I sort of jumped at it, and that gave it the start."

"I'm afraid we'll have to leave them here," said Steve. "I wish there was some way for us to take them along, but I don't see how we can. We might be able to drag Hallo with us, but we wouldn't get very far."

"I suppose not. He has lots of friends, hasn't he? I saw ever so many people stop and speak to him when I was following him on the way here."

"I don't think he's got many friends, but there are a lot of people who know him, all right. Still, it isn't that—it would be making ourselves conspicuous by having him with us at all."

"It would be a good thing to take him, though, if we could, wouldn't it?"

"Oh, yes. The best thing in the world! If we could only get him to our boat and carry him back to Belgrade!"

"Steve, how about the men who are working in the tunnel under the arsenal?"

"What do you mean? What do you know about the tunnel under the arsenal?"

Steve was startled and dismayed, but Dick laughed at him.

"That's all I know," he said. "Just that there is such a thing, Steve. You needn't be frightened—I haven't been spying around. But this man that came here to see Mike Hallo knew all about it. He told him the mine was going to be sprung to-night, and that they must hasten to stop it."

"That ends the last doubt! He is a traitor!" said Steve. "He surely will have to pay the price of treachery, too, when there is an opportunity."

"Do you mean that they will kill him?"

"What else can be done? It is his life against a nation, Dick. A man like that may cause a thousand deaths by betraying a single secret. But—about the men in the tunnel. I might have known that there was some good reason for your knowing. Yes, it is true. There are men working there, and they will try to explode their mine and blow up the arsenal to-night."

"Can't you reach them? I think that two or three men might get Hallo through the town and to the boathouse. They could pretend that he was drunk, and that they were helping him along, if he was still unconscious."

"Dick, I think you've hit on the right idea again! I'll try to get them. But suppose they come to first?"

"If we tied them up?" was Dick's suggestion.

"It would be risky. The watchman may come here at any moment after he hears no more voices."

"Yes, that's so. How long would it take you to go?"

"To go and come back? Twenty minutes, perhaps."

"Then go! Don't delay any longer, and I will stay here and keep watch."

"In here? No, it is too dangerous. I am afraid now, if they learn what you have done for us, they will be able to make a real charge against you, and that even your consul could not help you to escape severe punishment."

"I would not wait here—not in here, Steve. I would watch outside. Look! Do you see these grains of corn?"

He picked up a handful of the kernels from a sample basket on the table.

"Yes. What about them, Dick?"

"I will keep watch. If he comes out, I will follow him and every three or four feet I will let a little of this corn drop, so that it will mark a trail for you to follow. Do you see the idea?"

"Yes, and that is magnificent, Dick! That is the best chance we shall ever have of catching him. It will be better for him to come out, for he will lead you away from the busier part of the city, perhaps, so that it will be easier for us to take him! I'm off! I think we have a chance to get the scoundrel this time, thanks to you!"

They slipped out together, leaving the two unconscious men.

"I think Hallo will come to before long," said Dick. "The other will take longer for he seemed to be more badly stunned, or else he's not as strong as Hallo. Will Mike leave him there, do you think?"

"Yes. Why not? He will be thinking of his own precious skin, you may be sure. Good luck, Dick! I'll be back just as soon as I can!"

"Yes—hurry! But I think we'll be all right."

Dick took his place in a dark doorway on the opposite side of the street and began his vigil. The seconds seemed to drag by endlessly, but Dick never took his eyes from the entrance of the warehouse. And at last—he had really been waiting less than ten minutes!—he was rewarded. Hallo came out holding his hand to his head, staggering a little as he walked. Dick gave him a start, and then crossed and followed. He dropped his corn as he went, and his hand was on the automatic pistol in his pocket, which somehow gave him a sense of security.

Hallo turned a corner; Dick hurried a little. And, as he rounded the corner in his turn, there was Hallo—waiting! At the sight of Dick he almost screamed, but choked the cry.

"So it's you, is it?" he cried. He made a savage rush, his arms outstretched like those of a gorilla.



But the sight of the wicked looking little gun in Dick's hand stopped his rush. Mouthing his words, venomous hate in his eyes, he checked himself.

"What do you want, you little devil?" he said, grittingly.

"Turn around!" said Dick, savagely. Somehow that wild rush that had stopped just as the man's cruel arms were about to close about him had aroused something in Dick that he had never felt before. For the first time he knew what it meant to see red. He felt that he would like to have Hallo down and beat him with his fists, with the butt of his pistol—with anything, if it would only hurt his enemy enough!

Hallo tried to meet his eyes for a moment. Then he turned round, so that his back was to Dick. The scout pressed the muzzle of the little automatic, that, despite its tiny proportions, was still such a deadly weapon, into the small of Hallo's back.

"Do you feel that?" he said. "And do you know that I can't miss when you're so close to me? Don't think I am afraid to shoot because I tell you right now, Mike Hallo, that I'll fire the first time you don't do exactly as I say."

"You'll pay for this!" said Hallo, furiously. "This isn't America, with its lynchings, where people can take the law into their own hands."

"You needn't sneer at America!" said Dick, with cold anger in his voice. "You earned a good living there, and made a small fortune—and you stole another! Now, then, step forward! Slowly—and go straight ahead until I tell you to turn."

With a snarl Hallo obeyed. And Dick, as he went along behind him, keeping the pistol in such a position that he could use it on the instant, began to talk to him.

"You're a joke, Mike Hallo," he said, contemptuously. "The next time you try to swindle someone, don't pick an American family. You thought you were safe here, because we didn't have the money to hire big lawyers to go after you, didn't you? You never expected to see me here in Semlin. And when you did, you thought you'd fixed me by getting them to arrest me!"

"I had nothing to do with that," protested Hallo. His blustering, savage mood seemed to be passing, and he was disposed to cringe.

"Oh, no!" said Dick. "Of course not! You didn't want me to be driven out of Semlin! You wanted me to stay here and get back the money you stole from my father. You don't care anything about money, either, I suppose? Oh, no! You don't care any more about money than you do about your right hand! You wouldn't do anything to turn a dishonest penny except murder and treason and robbery, would you?"

"Dick, I've always been friendly to you and your family," said Hallo, tremulously. "I'm half an American. I tell you what I'll do. We'll let bygones be bygones. I lost more than your family did in the failure, back there in New York, of course. But I've done pretty well since I came home here to Hungary."

"I should think so!" said Dick. "How much has the Austrian government paid you for the spy's work you have done? Why, you even cheated your government! You're not even a patriot!"

For the first time, seemingly, Hallo guessed that Dick might have something to do with the enemies he really feared—the Servians with whom he had been playing fast and loose for weeks.

"What do you mean by that?" he cried, turning half around in his eagerness.

Dick jammed the pistol into his ribs to remind him of it.

"Go on! Keep your face turned away from me! I don't like the looks of it!" he said, viciously.

"Do you know Stepan Dushan?" asked Hallo.

"You'd like to know, wouldn't you?" said Dick.

"See here, Dick, there's no use in your being angry at me any more. Perhaps I was mistaken. I will tell you, in any case, what I will do. I will overlook everything that you have done here in Semlin, and I will arrange to have the police charge against you withdrawn. That is a very serious matter, let me tell you. If I did not have a great deal of influence with the big people here it would be quite impossible to arrange it. And I will give you, besides, twenty-five thousand dollars!"

Dick laughed.

"Go on," he said. "Walk faster!"

"Thirty-five thousand—"

"If you offered a million, I would believe you just as easily," said Dick. "I know you for just what you are, Mike Hallo! You're a low down liar and cheat and swindler, and I wouldn't believe you under oath. If I accepted your proposition, you'd never pay me a cent, and you'd do your best to get me into prison here besides."

"No—no—I'm telling you the truth, Dick! I will do it, I swear it! Do you think I have no gratitude? It is of the greatest possible importance that I should be free at once to attend to some pressing business!"

"It isn't half so important as you think, Mike," said Dick, with a laugh. "And you're attending to some very pressing business right now, too. The most pressing business you ever had in your life is to keep right on walking the way I tell you to and moving as fast as you can, too."

"But, Dick, I tell you I shall be ruined if you make me go on! How can I pay back the money you came for if I am ruined?"

"I don't know—and I'm not trying to guess riddles to-night. It seems to agree with you pretty well to be ruined, though. You made a lot of money out of being ruined in New York, didn't you?"

"Dick, I have known you since you were a baby! Your father was my best friend—"

"Don't remind me of that!" said Dick, angrily. He had been a little amused by Hallo's desperate pleading, but this reference to his father, whom the man before him had treated so outrageously, revived his anger. "The best chance you've got to get through right now is for me to forget about how friendly you were with my father and how you began to cheat him as soon as he was dead and couldn't watch you any longer!"

"Dick, I will make a last appeal! In the safe in my office there is money—a great sum of money! You can have all of it—every florin! There is much more there than you ever said I owed your mother! The combination of the safe is written in the pocket book in my right hand pocket. Take it out—go back and get the money. I will write out an order for you to take it—I will write out an admission that I cheated your family! Only, let me go before it is too late!"

"No—nothing doing! Straight ahead!"

Perhaps there was a certain note of finality in Dick's voice; perhaps Hallo was just trying to think of some new temptation to put before him. He was silent, at any rate and so, for a minute, was Dick. Dick was really greatly amused by Hallo's pleadings. And now he could not resist a dig. It was revenge, and he took it without delay.

"This ought to be a lesson to you, Mr. Hallo," he said. "I remember that when I was a little bit of a chap you were always telling me that—saying that this thing or that ought to be a lesson to me. Do you remember?"

Hallo did not answer.

"You did, anyhow. Well, this ought to teach you that a business man ought always to act so that people trust him. You haven't, you see. People know you're a liar and a cheat, and so they don't believe you even when you are telling the truth. You may have meant to do all the things you've promised me to-night, but how could I take a chance on you when I knew the truth about the way you've acted before? A reputation's a good thing—I've always heard that, and now I know it."

Dick chuckled, but Hallo made no sound of any sort. Dick could imagine, however, the workings of his mind, and he did not envy the helpless man in front of him. Neither was he sorry for him. If Hallo was in a bad way, he had himself to thank for it. Dick could respect him, in a way, for his dealings with the Servians and the whole conduct of the man in his relations with the Austrian authorities and the enemy. He might be a good patriot. All the things he had done in connection with the sale of supplies to the army and the attempts he had made to break up the Servian system of espionage might be perfectly legitimate.

Even though Dick was heart and soul on the Servian side, he could respect any sincerely patriotic Austrian or Hungarian. But he doubted whether Hallo was capable of being either sincere or patriotic; he had an idea that the man was a patriot simply because he saw a chance to make money out of his patriotism.

"He is in a bad way, though," Dick thought. "They'll blame him for all the things that have gone wrong, and if he has acted here the way he did in New York, they'll believe that he did it deliberately too. They won't give him the benefit of the doubt; they'll be sure he was a traitor, instead of just a fool, and he will suffer for it too."

Dick was keeping his pistol carefully concealed. Whenever anyone came in sight, to whom Hallo might have appealed for aid, he reminded him of the existence of the pistol by tickling his ribs with it. But very few people were abroad. It was late, and Dick was purposely choosing unfrequented streets.

For more than the first time Dick was deeply grateful for his excellent bump of locality, which his service with the Boy Scouts had done so much to develop. It was comparatively easy for him to follow the course he had planned, and he knew that with every step they were getting further from the heart of Semlin and nearer the boathouse which was his destination. There was every reason to suppose, too, that he would not have to handle Hallo single-handed much longer. Behind him, when he glanced back from time to time, the trail was plainly marked by the little scatterings of corn.

"I'm glad it's night time," he reflected, with a grin. "In daylight there would be birds after that corn, and it wouldn't serve as a trail for very long. But it's good fun; it's like a paper chase, or hare and hounds. Only this time the hare wants to be caught!"

Then he thought of Hallo, and decided that at least one of the hares wasn't anxious to be caught at all.

"Still he doesn't know what I'm doing, I guess," thought Dick, "There's no use in spoiling the pleasure of this little walk for him by telling him, either. He'll know soon enough, if I have any luck."

They were in open country by this time, with very few houses in sight. Suddenly Hallo broke out.

"Where are you taking me?" he cried, fearfully.

"Oh, you're beginning to recognize the route now, are you? Yes, we're going back to the place you came away from in such a hurry not so very long ago!"

"You were there!" said Hallo; suddenly, "I thought I knew your voice—in the boathouse! That was you who came in the launch?"

"I don't have to answer," said Dick. "Hurry along! You slow up when you talk. And your talk isn't interesting enough to make it worth while to delay."


Whatever Hallo meant to say was never finished. For suddenly the ground shook, and there was a dreadful roar. A huge flash lit up the sky, and behind them bedlam seemed to break loose. There was a succession of reports, like repeated volleys of rifle fire, and sometimes a louder roar.

"There goes the arsenal, so you can quit worrying," said Dick. "Even if I let you go now, you couldn't prevent that, could you? Oh, I knew what you were driving at, all the time!"



But even Dick, for all the wild mood of anger that had held him since he had had Hallo in his power, had to consent to a halt now. If the Servians planned not only to inflict a severe blow on the Austrians by the destruction of war material, but to spread terror as well, they succeeded admirably. For there was not one explosion alone; there was a series of explosions. And fire spread from the arsenal, too.

"The shells are going off, you see," said Dick, a little awed. "They're exploding in all directions. I suppose there will be a good deal of damage. And those cartridges must be sending an awful lot of bullets around promiscuously."

"I don't think many people will be hurt," said Hallo. Like Dick, he was awed by the spectacle, and the terrible magnificence of it for the moment seemed to have driven from his mind all thought of anything but the explosion itself. "There are very few houses about the arsenal; they are mostly public buildings of one sort and another. It's not the sort of neighborhood people choose to live in. Even in time of peace there may be an accident in an arsenal at any moment—and just as bad an explosion as this one."

But then, suddenly, Hallo seemed to remember his position.

"You will pay for this!" he cried. "It is your doing, because if you had let me go I should have stopped that! You are in league with the Servian spies who have been working here for months, who planned the murder of the Archduke in Serajevo—"

"Why don't you say I killed him?" suggested Dick. "Forward march, again! The show is over!"

"Oh, your time will come—and you will cry to me for help then! The police only had suspicions before, but now they will have facts, and all the consuls and ambassadors in the world won't be able to help you! It won't be a matter for the police at all, my lad! It will be a court-martial that will try you."

"Perhaps. We shall see. Hello, what's this?"

Dick had just been thinking to himself that it was highly fortunate that they had passed the settled district to the northeast of Semlin before the explosion, since he could easily imagine the outpouring there must have been into the streets at that terrific sound. But now there was a sound of rushing feet, and around a corner, perhaps a quarter of a mile in front of them, a body of men appeared—troops, coming at the double quick.

"Here, this way!" said Dick, sharply.

He pointed to a clump of trees beside the road, and forced the reluctant Hallo to go in before him. The pistol was giving him fine support for it was very evident that Hallo did not mean to take chances. Dick did not know, as a matter of fact, whether he would be able to fire if the necessity arose. To shoot even Mike Hallo in cold blood, and when the man was helpless to all intents, was something he could not contemplate without a shudder.

In fact it was partly because Hallo was his enemy that he felt that he was likely to hesitate, and at a moment when hesitation was likely to be dangerous, if not fatal.

"I'd feel differently if I didn't have anything against him, personally," said Dick to himself. "As it is, I'd never be sure, if I shot him, whether I was doing it in self-defence or because it was a good chance to get even with him for the things he's done to me and to my family."

Fortunately, however, Hallo did not put him to the test. Dick realized that it was a dangerous minute. The seconds that elapsed while the soldiers were passing in the road were the longest he had ever spent. A single shout from Hallo would have settled matters. In such times, and with a reminder of the dangers of the situation such as the destruction of the arsenal, there would have been an immediate investigation, and, whatever happened to Hallo himself, Dick would be in a bad case, and he fully realized his situation.

Dick allowed plenty of time for the soldiers to pass. It did not take long, as a matter of fact, and he decided that there could have been only a small detachment, not more than a company of infantry probably. Hallo might have told him that there were comparatively few troops in Semlin, and that the greater part of the Austrian forces along the border were placed at two points, Schabatz, on the Save, and Losnitza, on the Drina, since it was at those two points that the invasion of Servia was to be begun, according to the plan of the Austrian General Staff.

The bombardment of Belgrade was not intended to cover a subsequent attack, but to serve as a feint, in the hope that a large number of Servian troops would be retained for the defense of the capital. Belgrade was of no use to the Austrians. By holding Semlin they could cut the railway and had every advantage that the occupation of Belgrade could have given them, except the sentimental value of having possession of the enemy's capital. Later in the war the Austrians were to make the grave mistake of occupying Belgrade for just such sentimental reasons, and the mistake was to be proved by the sacrifice of an army.

"All right, we can go back to the road again," said Dick, when he had allowed more than enough time for a rear guard to pass. "Your friends have held us up. See if you can't move a little faster to make up for the delay!" and he prodded him with his revolver for emphasis.

Dick had scattered his corn steadily and now, as they went back to the road, he kicked the kernels that marked their digression aside, since he knew that Stepan and the others, if they were following, would only waste time by following the detour into the woods. He had brought a plentiful supply, and he was glad of it, since he was traveling further with Hallo than he had thought it at all likely that he could. For some time he had been listening eagerly for some indication that Stepan and his friends were approaching, but there had been none. He was not ready to be worried about them yet, however dangerous as he knew their work had been, since it was easy to imagine a dozen trifling things that might have delayed them.

And yet he could think of more serious things, too. There might have been a premature explosion of the mine, and he shuddered at the thought of what the fate of the Servians must have been if that was what had happened. Or they might have been caught as they emerged from the tunnel. Or—but he shook off such ideas. There was no reason yet to suppose that everything was not all right. And the important thing was to get Hallo to the boathouse. It was absolutely vital, now that Hallo knew about that refuge, and also the identity of his former office boy, that Hallo should not escape to use his knowledge, since he could do incalculable mischief to the cause that Dick had now made his own.

Hallo went along stumbling, groaning, growling. Finally Dick did begin to feel sorry for him. After all, the man was in bad condition. He had been painfully hurt by the crashing down of the big packing case, and his fright and escape through the water had weakened and tired him, even before that. Now he seemed to be in the last stages of exhaustion, and when he began to plead with Dick on account of his weariness, rather than with promises or threats, he was on the right track. Perhaps that feeling threw Dick off his guard for a moment. At any rate, when Hallo finally made his bid for freedom he chose the most, perhaps the only, opportune moment.

Dick had taken his eyes off him for a moment, and had loosened his hold on the butt of his automatic. And just then Hallo stopped suddenly, whipped back his foot, and tripped Dick neatly and successfully. Dick went down; before he could reach for the pistol, Hallo was on top of him. Exhausted though he was, Hallo outweighed Dick still as much as ever, and he was strong as well. Dick fought well, but the surprise had been complete. As he reached for the pistol, Hallo seized his arm and in a moment was twisting it around behind his back in a cruel hammer lock hold—that deadliest of wrestling grips, that means a broken arm for the victim unless he yields. The struggle was over in a moment, and the positions were now completely reversed.

Hallo had the pistol, and he was in as absolute command as Dick had been while he still held it.

"Ah!" said Hallo. "I said your time would come, Dick, my lad! And it has! You're in my power now! I could kill you, do you know that?"

Dick did not answer; he was thinking too hard. And there was nothing for him to say, anyhow. He had been neatly tricked, and, though he was badly frightened and ready to admit it to himself, it was impossible not to admire Hallo, so adroit had he been in seizing his one chance of escape.

"Yes, I could kill you easily enough," Hallo repeated. "And no one would blame me. I have proof that you are a spy, and it is a praiseworthy thing to kill a spy. But I shall not. I shall be generous to you, Dick, even if you did not remember our old friendship. I shall take you back with me, and turn you over to the soldiers, and they will try you fairly, and let the American consul defend you, and then they will shoot you."

A perfect frenzy of revenge seemed to seize the Hungarian as Dick maintained his silence.

"Oh, they will know how to make you talk!" he cried. "Keep still, then, if you like! I don't care! You would come here after me? You would try to make me pay back the money you say I took? Well, then, I did take it! And why not? I could use it better than your foolish family! Ah, Dick, it does not pay to monkey with the buzz-saw, as your father used to say! Does it? I am a buzz-saw—yes, that is what I am! Now, then, march! But turn the other way!"

"I'm not afraid of you," said Dick, breaking his silence at last and speaking in a contemptuous voice. "I think you're pretty brave, though, Mike. I didn't think so a little while ago. I thought you were a great coward. But if you have the courage to go to the army authorities after the destruction of the arsenal, you are a brave man, and I respect you for that, even if you are a thief!"

Hallo stared at him stupidly for a moment.

"Eh? What is that?" he said. "No matter! March! You are trying to bluff me, as you Americans say, and you cannot do it! They will know the truth when I tell them. They will believe me. They will not think that I had anything to do with that."

"You say so—but you don't believe what you're saying yourself," said Dick. "When they hear about how you have been going on, they will think it funny that you did not know about this plot in time to warn them. Do you think they will try us at the same time?"

But he stepped out, just the same, for Hallo was beginning to look dangerous. He looked frightened, too, and Dick felt that it was not at all certain that Hallo would force him to go all the way. When he had had time to think for a little of what the attitude of the Austrian commander was likely to be, Dick thought military headquarters in Semlin would be about the last place that he would seek!

Even so, however, there did not seem to be much to make Dick hopeful. For it was just as likely that Hallo would shoot him if he decided to stay away from Semlin as that he would let him go.

But then there came just the interruption for which Dick had prayed. Ahead of them appeared half a dozen figures walking swiftly, at their head a smaller man or boy, his eyes on the ground. Dick's heart gave a leap.

"Into the field there!" said Hallo, with a growl.

Dick obeyed, scattering the last kernels of corn. And five minutes later a wild rush, led by Stepan Dushan, caught them. Once more the tables were turned, and Hallo was a prisoner for the third time that night!



Now there was plain sailing before them. The Servians were all armed, and they had proved that night, if it needed proof, that they had the sort of courage that enables a man to take the one chance of escape in a hundred when a desperate thing is to be done. No ordinary obstacle could possibly keep them from the boathouse now.

Relieved of his care of Hallo, Dick fell into step beside Stepan.

"You saved the day for us," said Stepan. "If you had not been there, he would have caught me—and he would have been in time to save the arsenal from destruction. That is going to prove the most important feat of the war, I do believe. There will be great news soon unless I am greatly mistaken. Now tell me of what happened after I left you."

"There isn't much to tell," said Dick. "He was clever enough to think that he might be followed and trapped me—but, after all, it was better so. I should have had to try to stop him if he had gone into a house, and the place might not have been so quiet and deserted as the one he chose."

Dick went on to tell of the strange walk that he and Hallo had taken, and Steve laughed heartily. But his face was grave when Dick had finished.

"It seems trifling enough now," he said, "but it was no laughing matter, Dick. You were in terrible danger all the time, of course, and anyone less cool and clear headed would never have come through so well. Having Hallo gives us a breathing spell. We may be able to use the boathouse still. If he had got away, even after the arsenal was blown up, we could never have used it. We may not have to. I think most of our work here in Semlin was finished to-night. Soon the armies in the field will be doing the work, and the time for the spies will have passed."

At the boathouse Milikoff joined them, his face glowing.

"All here? Not a man lost? That makes it so much the better!" he exclaimed, happily. "And—what? You have Hallo again? Welcome back, Hallo! This is splendid!"

"I think we had better get away," said Stepan. "After this business to-night, there will be a most searching examination, and it would be dangerous for any of us to stay here. We cannot carry many in the motor boat, but there will be time for her to make three trips, and that will be enough. I shall run her back first, and take my friend Dick Warner and Hallo. One other can come. You, Milikoff?"

"No. I shall go on the last trip," said Milikoff. "Let one of the men bring her back. It will be your part to see that Hallo is looked after in Belgrade."

So they ventured out into the yellow Danube again. This time the voyage promised to be more dangerous. The destruction of the arsenal had aroused all the forces defending Semlin to a high pitch, and searchlights danced incessantly about, winking first one way, then another. There was still a blaze of light at the confluence of the Save and the Danube, but more searchlights seemed to be in use, and the Austrians were not as perfunctory as they had been, but flashed them here, there, and anywhere.

However, Steve was a skillful handler of the swift little craft. Darting forward when the flashing of a light left a space dark, turning this way and that, coming almost to a full stop when the river ahead was suddenly lighted, he played hide and seek amid the great, flashing beams of light. And at last they were well beyond them, and could sweep across the river and come to the safe haven of the little wharf on the Servian shore.

A few explanations then, and Steve reluctantly turned over the boat he had guided so well to another, while he and Dick, with Hallo and one of the other men who had come with them, tumbled into a military automobile that was waiting. There was a swift rush to the citadel, where Steve turned over his prisoner.

"He's a slippery customer," Dick said, in warning.

"He won't get away from us," the officer promised.

And then—sleep! Sleep that was almost as welcome as it had been the night before or, rather, the morning before. For again they had been busy through all the hours of darkness, and it was daylight before they got to bed.

This time, when Dick awoke at last, Steve was still there, and he yawned luxuriously when Dick woke him up.

"Nothing to do to-day!" he said. "At least, nothing that I know of now! It's a real holiday, Dick. I can tell you it feels good, too. I wouldn't have missed the chance to do what I've been able to do for Servia, but I'm tired now."

"I should think you would be," said Dick. "You haven't only had to work hard, but there's been the chance always that you would be caught."

"I know. But I didn't think much about it, Dick. I was too busy. The chief danger was that Hallo would find me looking through his papers some time. He might not have suspected that I was a spy, but that would certainly have ended any chance there was for me to get more news."

They got up then, and enjoyed a great meal at their leisure, while old Maritza looked on and kept their plates full, and scolded Stepan for having caught cold the night before. She said he must have caught cold, because he was hoarse, and laughed at him when he said it was only because he had been so tired.

"You say there's nothing for us to do?" asked Dick.

"Yes, but I didn't mean it. There's plenty to do, only it's stupid compared to the sort of thing we have done. There are errands of all sorts to be run, and I believe that there is a good deal of help to be given to the poor people. It's mostly their houses that have been knocked about in the bombardment, you see. We don't have to do it, of course. The rest of the scouts here have been busy that way, and I'm excused from that sort of work because I was detailed to this special service. Still I think I'll lend a hand until there is more work for me from the Intelligence Department."

"When will that be, do you suppose?"

"Oh, there's no telling. It depends on the way the campaign runs. Now, for a time, it's all a question of how General Pushkin's plans work out. And he has two plans. Russia has declared war, and that means that Austria can't concentrate a great force against us. But the question is whether she will try to crush us before she turns against Russia, or whether she will just hold both Russia and Servia safe. If she throws a great army against us, General Pushkin won't risk a decisive battle. He'll go back into the hills and worry them until they have to detach troops for the other front. If the Russians begin coming down through the passes of the Carpathians into Hungary, you'll see the Austrians sending troops back to meet them in a hurry. It wouldn't make so much difference, from a military point of view, even if the Russians got to Buda-Pesth. But it would pretty nearly cause a revolution in Hungary, and a separate peace."

So when they had finished their meal, they went down toward the river. The desultory, useless bombardment was still going on, but it was not doing great damage, though it seemed to Dick that it was. A great many important buildings had been struck, and were in ruins, and in the lower quarters of the city there were plenty of evidences of war. But Steve pointed out that none of this could have any effect upon Servia's ability to hold out.

"It is all provided for in the plans of the general staff," he said. "As long as our field army is in good shape, they can hammer away at Belgrade as much as they like."

Some important work was still being done. Money and papers of value were being removed from the quarters where there was danger from the Austrian cannon, and scouts, who seemed to be numerous, were guarding the transfers. Others, whom Dick and Steve joined, were going through the unaffected parts of the city to find houses that had room for the poor people who had been driven from their homes by the enemy's fire. One spirit seemed to move all classes; there was a universal readiness to make sacrifices of any sort for the common good.

"We have room for one family of five," would be the greeting, as they knocked at a door, as soon as the inmates of the house saw Stepan's uniform, which Dick saw him wear for the first time that day.

So it went everywhere. Dick went to see the American consul, and told his story, and the official assured him that he would find a means of sending word of his safety to Consul Denniston in Semlin.

"I've got ways of sending such messages, of course," the consul explained. "They can't interfere with the messages of an American consul. I saw Mr. Denniston a little while before the bridge was destroyed, and he was quite worried about you. He'll be glad to know that you are safe so far. I suppose, by the way, that you are strictly neutral, as an American should be?"

Dick hesitated, and the consul roared with laughter.

"You don't have to answer that question!" he said. "I've got to be neutral, worse luck! But, even so, sometimes I think I'll resign, just so that I can take a chance with the side I'm on."

"Which side is that, sir?" asked Dick, innocently.

Once more the consul laughed.

"I refuse to answer!" he said. "You might send a report back to Washington and get me into trouble. But perhaps you can guess."

The times that followed were uneventful enough in Belgrade, though beyond the limits of the belabored Servian capital great things were happening. There were scenes of wonderful rejoicing when it became known that Russia had thrown herself to the aid of the little Slav state, and still more wonderful scenes when the Servians learned that England and France, as well, had been enlisted in their quarrel. They knew now that they would not be made again a sacrifice to the peace of Europe, and that Austria's attempt to bully them had precipitated the great war.

Closer at hand, however, was the actual fighting between the Servians and Austrians. On the Danube and the Save there were minor skirmishes. Servian forts fired on Austrian vessels. In the Save, near the wrecked bridge, a Servian mine destroyed an Austrian monitor. And along the line of the border there was constant skirmishing. Red Cross flags began to fly from many houses in Belgrade, and there was a constant stream of wounded men. Not many came at once, or in any one day, but every day saw some additions to the wounded who were being cared for.

"But this doesn't look like a real battle yet, Steve," said Dick. "These men have been wounded in outpost affairs, when at the most only a few hundred men were engaged on either side."

"Wait," said Stepan. "The great battles will come."

And come they did. The news came first from Schabatz, as a wild rumor. Belgrade was incredulous. The first reports were of a complete Servian victory, of Austrian troops in panic-stricken flight. It seemed too good to be true. But every hour not only confirmed these first reports, but added to them. The Austrians had not alone been beaten; they had been utterly routed, and were in full retreat in their own territory.

Then Servian victories came thick and fast. Even while batches of Austrian prisoners were being brought in, Servian troops in great strength followed, and there was a daring, magnificent raid across the Save, in which the Austrian monitors were driven out into the Danube and away by the terrific fire of the splendidly handled big guns of the Servians. For two or three splendid days Servian troops held Semlin, before the exigencies of the strategy of the campaign forced them to give up their prize and let the Austrians, now heavily reënforced, reënter their capital city.

"We couldn't stay, but we showed them what we could do, didn't we?" said Stepan, exultingly.

"Yes. But isn't there danger that they may come on now in great force?"

"They are sure to do that," said Stepan, his eyes burning brightly. "It is what we hope. Now the second stage of the campaign will begin. They have already sent great reënforcements into Bosnia, and the army that we and Montenegro sent against Serajevo has had to retire. Remember, Dick, we are not fighting this war alone. Russia is at war, too. It was our aim to compel the Austrians to withdraw many troops from Galicia and Bukowina and the passes of the Carpathians. Now they have done that, and we shall see. They are beginning to advance across the Drina toward Valjevo. We shall see soon what the result is to be."

That prophecy was soon made good. For now the Austrians poured across the northern and western borders of little Servia in overwhelming force, and the Servian armies, muttering, fighting as they went, fell back before them. Behind Belgrade, to the south of the city, the Servian army that had won the great victory of Schabatz gave ground, lest it be taken in the rear by the Austrian advance from Valjevo, and that movement changed the whole aspect of affairs. That army had been the real protection of Belgrade. As soon as it retreated the Austrians marched into the city. But it had taken them five months, instead of as many days, to accomplish their end.

"We are to stay," Stepan had said, when it was certain that Belgrade must fall. And they had stayed, unmolested by the small Austrian force of occupation.



The Austrian occupation made surprisingly little difference in the outer aspect of Belgrade. The bombardment, which had been maintained spasmodically and at intervals ever since the outbreak of war, ceased, of course. There were a good many Austrian soldiers about, but these were not the trim, soldierly looking men one might have expected to see. Dick commented on this.

"They're reservists, and last line men, at that," said Stepan. "A lot of them wear spectacles, you'll notice, and they're the older men, who aren't fit to work in the field. A lot of those chaps would keel over if they had to spend a night in a trench half full of water, or to march twenty miles without a halt. But they are all right for this sort of work. You can't count on them for fighting, but they do the work that would otherwise take up a lot of fighting men."

"Will there be anything for us to do, Stepan?"

"I think a great deal. I haven't heard anything yet, except that we are to stay."

"Do you think it's safe for me? I don't think I care much, but I mean if they were looking for me in Semlin, isn't there a chance that I'll be picked up now?"

"I don't think so. That was Hallo's doing, you see. He's disappeared, and so there's nothing to urge them to go after you."

"Where is Hallo? I was afraid that perhaps he would have been found and set free when the Austrians came."

"Not a bit of it! He's too valuable to be allowed to get off so easily—or to be shot either," answered Steve.

"Then he was taken away?"

"Yes. He's being very carefully looked after in the interior now—in Nissa or Nish, probably. Dick, suppose you go and see your consul here again—Mr. Hampton. I'd like to know what he thinks about things. And you can consult him, too, about your own position," Steve replied.

"So you're still here, are you?" said Mr. Hampton. "I thought you might have run away with the Servians. But you did well to stay. I'm afraid the Austrians are going right through this country now, the way a circus acrobat goes through a paper hoop. It's the old story—the little country is left to perish, like Belgium and Servia, while the big fellows attend to their own knitting."

"You think the Servian retreat is serious, then, sir?"

"I think it's the beginning of the end, my boy—and if I wasn't afraid that it wouldn't sound neutral, I'd say I was sorry for it, too! They've made a game fight, and they deserved better luck. But look at the map for yourself! The Austrians have the whole grain growing section. The Servian army will starve to death if the Austrians don't force it to fight and wipe it out."

"I see. It does look bad when you look at it that way, sir," said Dick rather slowly.

"And there's no other way of looking at it. Pushkin has shot his bolt. He won a fine victory at Schabatz, but he's up against the Austrians in overwhelming numbers now. He's been running away mighty well, too, but he can't keep that up forever. He'll have to fight when they get him cornered, just as the French did in 1870 at Sedan. And that will be the end of organized Servian resistance."

"I hope not, but it does look like it, sir. I'd like to see him turn the tables, though."

Stepan listened with a good deal of interest to Dick's report of his conversation with the consul.

"That's the outside view—yes," said Stepan. "It's the Austrian view, too! What did he say about you, Dick?"

"Oh, he said I'd better stay here for a time. Mr. Denniston had spoken to him about me, he said, and they agreed that I had better wait here in Belgrade until things were more settled. Mr. Denniston told him that there was still a formal charge against me in Semlin, but that he was trying to get it withdrawn. After that he will arrange for me to get home, he says. He is very kind."

"Yes. But you don't want to go home until you have settled matters with Hallo, do you?"

"No, I don't. But I suppose there's very little chance of my being able to do that now. And I guess I ought to get back and start in doing whatever I can, instead of spending any more time trying to run after a will-o'-the-wisp like the money Hallo stole from us."

"We shall see," said Stepan, with a twinkle in his eye. "But in the meantime you are still ready to stand by us if there is anything to be done, aren't you, Dick?"

"You bet I am! As long as I can't get home, I want to be doing something if I can."

"Well, I think there'll be something to do, all right, before very long. And here's something you want to remember. There are other ways of getting back to America from here than through Buda-Pesth and Vienna. The railway from Nish to Salonica is open, and there are steamers from Salonica to Athens, and from Athens to New York."

"Yes, but the railway from here to Nish isn't open, Steve. And I haven't the money to go that way, anyhow."

"Perhaps that will be arranged. Wait and see," said Stepan, mysteriously.

"You've got something up your sleeve," said Dick, indignantly. But he could not remain angry long with Stepan. "Oh, I'm not going to plague you with questions, Steve! I know you—and you'll tell me what's in the air as soon as you get ready. I suppose it's got something to do with those mysterious absences of yours in the last two weeks before the Austrians came?"

"Perhaps you're right, Dick. You'll know soon, never fear!"

Two more days dragged by without news from the interior, save for the Austrian bulletins announcing the continued progress of their army that was operating from Losnitza as a base, and driving toward the centre of Servia and the ultimate fortress of Nish.

But on the evening of the second day when Dick had finally taken his place at the table, upon old Maritza's insistence, without waiting any longer for Stepan, Steve arrived, with an air of great secrecy and importance.

"Hurry, Maritza, and give me a good dinner!" he said. "I don't know when you will see us again!"

"What new madness is this?" asked Maritza, crossly. But, like Dick, she knew well enough that she would learn nothing from Stepan until he was ready to tell her. So she obeyed, grumbling.

"Ready? Go and put on your warmest clothes, then!" said Stepan. "Better—I will lend you some of mine. You have none that are warm enough!"

"None that are warm enough? What nonsense! It isn't very cold—and I have a thick overcoat!"

"But you can't wear that! Come, I will show you."

Dick roared with laughter when he and Steve were finally arrayed to Stepan's satisfaction. First each had put on two suits of thick woolen underwear, and two pairs of thick woolen socks apiece. The socks were so thick that they had to have resort to shoes that belonged to Stepan's father, since they could not get on their own. Then heavy winter suits of Steve's, with a sweater apiece under the coats, and on their heads fur caps, with ear muffs.

"Are we going to the North Pole?" asked Dick.

"Never mind! I'll promise you that before long you will wish that you had warmer clothes still!"

"I don't believe it, Steve! I don't see how it's possible! I'm suffocating now—and I've been out, and know how cold it is."

Stepan did not answer. Instead, he led the way downstairs, and going into the garden, peered out until a cart came up, driven by a peasant. This cart apparently contained potatoes—and in reality, too, although in a few moments the two scouts were hidden under the load.

"This is a loyal peasant—and one of our best spies!" said Stepan. "The Austrians trust him because he seems to be so stupid, and so we can pass through the line of sentries to the south. If we tried to walk we would be turned back. He is taking these potatoes to the advanced positions of the Austrians."

"That's fine, only I'd like to know what we are going to do after we have passed the sentries! We shall be within two Austrian lines even then, shan't we?"

"We certainly shall—but we shan't stay there!"

"Oh, I give it up! I never was good at guessing riddles, anyhow!"

"Sh-h! We can't tell when we're near the sentries, and we'd better keep quiet now."

After a little time the cart stopped with a jolt, and they heard the peasant driver, as he seemed to be, exchanging rough jests with the sentries. Then there was a grounding of arms, and they passed on. For perhaps fifteen minutes they continued to jolt along, and for the first time Dick was glad, despite the heat, that he was wearing such thick garments, since they saved him, he was convinced, a good many bruises. He decided that that must be the reason they had worn them. Then the cart stopped and the driver began to make a way for them to get out, which they were glad to do.

"All right—good luck and good-night, Ivan!" said Stepan.

"And to you, good luck and the grace of God, Stepan Ivanovitch!" said the driver. "There is nothing more that I can do?"

"No. Good-bye!"

The cart rumbled off, and Stepan turned off to the right. Dick asked no questions, but went along, satisfied that the mystery must soon be solved. And indeed it was. They were on level ground now, but soon they began to descend, and found themselves in a rather wide ravine. There was a sudden challenge: "Who goes there?" delivered in Servian!

"Kossovo!" answered Stepan.

"Pass," said the sentry, who was not in uniform, and carried a revolver instead of a rifle.

And then, a few paces further on, they came to a strange mass covered with canvas. A man stepped out of the shadow, flashing an electric torch in their faces.

"Stepan? That is good!" he said.

Stepan went forward and drew off the canvas cover, and Dick saw what was underneath—a monoplane, as he had guessed!

"That is a captured Austrian 'plane," said Stepan. "Now do you understand? Are you willing to take the risk of flying in it with me?"

"I wouldn't miss it!" said Dick. "But I didn't know you knew how to run one!"

"He is one of our very few qualified aviators," said the man who had been on guard. "And every day now for weeks he has been coming here to study the controls and all the details of this machine. It is in perfect order, ready to take the air."

"And an Austrian monoplane! Why, we can fly over their lines!" exclaimed Dick. "How splendid! But what are you to do, Steve?"

"You will soon know. Get aboard! Your seat is there. Strap him in, Dmitri, while I see to the tank."

"Everything is right," said Dmitri. "But make sure for yourself—that is a good rule."

In a minute Stepan was satisfied and had taken his place beside Dick. Then the motor was started, the propeller began to turn, and in a few moments they rose from the ground, soared above the trees, and were in full flight.

"Now you see why we had to be warm!" said Stepan. "We are in for a long flight. But up first! We must fly high!"



They rose higher and higher, climbing in spirals, until Dick had completely lost his bearings. The night was cloudy, and there were no stars to help him, and before long they had passed through the first layer of low hanging clouds, so that he was denied the aid of lights and towns below. Then when they had thus made it impossible for anyone below to detect them, Stepan gave his motor full play and the real flight began. Dick thought he had never in his life known a sensation so glorious as this swift gliding along through the air. But he soon appreciated the comfort that came from the thick clothes upon which his chum had insisted. Despite the weight of the things, he was far from being hot in that long night flight.

Sometimes he slept. He was aroused once when they descended, but the country was wholly unfamiliar to him, and they were soon off again. But with morning came a stunning surprise. The sun was visible now, and Dick saw that they had been flying northeast! He had supposed that they would head for the Servian army, but he guessed now, as he saw snow capped mountains before them, that they had taken an entirely different course. And his surprise was vastly increased when a strange sound assailed his ears.

"Ah!" cried Stepan, exulting. "It is all right!"

Dick followed Stepan's pointing finger with his eyes, and now he saw the source of the firing that had so astonished him. It was in front of him, on the plain between them and the mountains, which were far away still, though they seemed so near.

"What troops are those? And where are we?" he cried.

"We have flown across Hungary in the night, and those are Hungarian regiments, giving way before the advance of Russian troops who have come through the passes from Galicia!" cried Stepan. "But that is not what counts! Look down there—to the right!"

Dick looked. What he saw was a small village that had suddenly become a city. Trains were drawing in, and a dozen or more sidings contained strings of cars that had evidently arrived during the night. As they looked a train stopped and soldiers poured from it.

"Do you understand? Can you realize what that means, Dick?" cried Stepan. "They are sending reënforcements from Servia! Those troops were among those who were attacking us. The Russian invasion through the passes has brought them back! That is what we came for—to learn if that were so!"

"Oh, I do understand now!" cried Dick, as a great light burst on his mind. He saw it all. This was what Servia had been hoping for; a weakening of the forces massed against her. No wonder it had been all-important to know if the reënforcement had really been sent! Then his eye wandered, and he saw something coming through the air—another aeroplane was approaching them.

"Look out, Stepan! Here comes one of their machines!" he cried.

Stepan seized his glass on the instant.

"Yes!" he said. "That is bad luck for it is one of their newer, faster machines! We must try to get away! Here, take this rifle. If she comes so near that she discovers who we really are, we must fight. Aim for the tank. A bullet through that will send them down quickly! But don't fire until I give the word. It is better to run than to fight, if we can."

And now, as if he had not seen the hostile aeroplane, Stepan turned and began to race south, in the direction whence they had come. There followed the most exciting of possible contests—a real race between aeroplanes, not for a prize or a trophy, but with life itself, or liberty at least, as the price of victory or the penalty of defeat.

With the slower, clumsier machine, Stepan still made a wonderful showing. He went up, then down, twisting this way and that, manœuvering with brilliant skill. The other machine followed, however, and it was gaining constantly, thanks to its better motor. Still it did not fire a shot, for it must have been difficult for the pilot to know what possessed the machine that he chased. It was so obviously an Austrian monoplane, yet its actions were suspicious.

At last Stepan reduced his speed. At the moment they were above the rival birdman, who was climbing to get on a level.

"Now—and aim for the tank!" cried Stepan.

Dick fired. His first bullet went wide, and cut through the wing. But the next one found its mark. They could hear the sharp ping as it struck the metal tank, even above the roar of the two racing engines. And then another—and all three before the enemy could reply.

"Good! We are saved!" cried Stepan.

For the Austrian machine staggered like a bird hit on the wing, reeled, and then plunged downward. One bullet sang past them, dangerously close, but that was all. In a moment they were alone in the heavens, racing toward Servia, while behind them the roar of battle continued.

On and on they flew. They passed over Belgrade and Semlin late in the afternoon, when the sun was sinking. It was dark when they crossed a plain from which great numbers of troops stared up at them. But they were flying very high and very fast, and though two more Austrian aeroplanes began to pursue, there was no danger that they would be caught. And at last, weary, exhausted, they came to earth in the Servian camp.

"Come with me," said Stepan. Willing hands were caring for the aeroplane, and now a staff officer came up.

"You are Stepan Dushan?" he asked. "I am to take you to the general!"

"My companion, too," insisted Stepan.

And so Dick was present when Stepan made his report to the veteran general who commanded the Servian army. He saw the light that came into the leader's eyes when he heard of the arrival of the Austrian troops in Hungary and listened, with admiration, to the sharp fusillade of orders which interrupted Stepan's narrative.

"Now we know what to do!" said the general. "Now we shall fall upon them. The battle will begin to-night! They have been trying to force a battle. Well, they shall have it! Go, now, sleep. In the morning there will be great sights for your eyes!"

And in the morning, indeed, Dick and Stepan were present when King Peter, his snowy hair bared to the wind, rode before his troops.

"The time has come, my children!" said the old king. "The time has come for us to drive the invader from Servian soil! We have had to retreat, and it has been hard! But now—now we can strike! This is the dawn of Servia's greatest day, in victory or defeat! Your old king has come now to see you conquer—or to die among you!"

What a cheer there was as the king spoke! What a roar greeted him! With what eagerness did the troops hail the order to advance!

Already the cannon were thundering. Soon now rifle fire in sullen, crackling volleys broke upon the air. And that day the Austrians learned that they had walked into a trap; that Servia's army had retreated, not because it was beaten, not because it was afraid, but that it might fight, when the time for battle came, on its own chosen ground. From the east came the army that had guarded Belgrade for so long, striking at the Austrian flank. And once more an Austrian defeat became a rout. Once more the Servians pursued.

Dick and Stepan could see only a little of the great struggle. But that little was enough to teach them that they were looking upon history in the making. The battle was one of those crushing, decisive struggles that seldom occur. With defeat the last hope of a successful Austrian invasion of little Servia seemed to be shattered and when the sun went down there was no longer any doubt of the issue.

The Austrians had fought well and bravely, but the Servians had fought with the courage of despair and the cool precision of trained soldiers used to victory, as well. The stars that night looked down upon the abject flight of the Austrian army, split in two parts, scattering its arms, its equipment, everything that would retard the search for safety from the furious pursuit of the Servians.

"We let them have Belgrade—for a few days!" said Stepan, drunk with happiness. "But now we want it for ourselves—our capital is the place to celebrate a victory!"

And so it proved. Two divisions of the beaten Austrians were caught at the Danube, where Servian guns had smashed to pieces a bridge of boats cunningly contrived for retreat. And while they were making their last feeble resistance, a brigade of Servians marched into Belgrade. Flags flew everywhere and the people hailed the return of their own troops deliriously. When the king himself rode in, disdaining the carriage that had been provided for his use on account of his age, the city seemed to go mad. The thunder of the guns to the east died away; the Austrians who had been cut off had had enough of fighting and had surrendered. The Servians were the victors.

"It is wonderful! It will surprise the world!" said Dick. "Why, Mr. Hampton said that everyone believed Servia had lost her last chance, and that the country was about to be overrun, like Belgium!"

Dick met General Dushan, Steve's father. And it was the general, his eyes filled with tears of pride over the exploits of his son, who told them of a great honor that awaited them.

"The king has ordered me to bring you both before him," he said. "He has heard of the part you played in the destruction of the Semlin arsenal and he has learned that it was that feat that made the great victory of Schabatz possible. If the Austrians had had ammunition enough to serve their guns, they would have beaten us there."

Dick was embarrassed and timid when he was called upon to stand forth and meet King Peter. But the old man, simple and, democratic, soon put him at his ease. He held out his hand and gripped Dick's, and then he spoke to him in English.

"Servia thanks you, through me, her king," he said. "I wish you to wear this decoration with our gratitude! And I have heard of the mission that brought you to Semlin—so fortunately for us. General Dushan knows my pleasure in that matter."

"Come with me, both of you," said General Dushan. He took them to the citadel, and there, in a little while, Hallo was brought before the general, his hands linked with steel handcuffs.

"Michael Hallo," said General Dushan, sternly, "you have been tried and found guilty, and sentenced to death as a spy and a traitor. But His Majesty has been pleased to grant you a reprieve—on a certain condition. If you will sign an order to Richard Warner upon the State Bank here for the payment of a sum equivalent to two hundred thousand dollars, you will be confined as a political prisoner until the end of the war, and then released. Do you agree?"

There was hate in Hallo's eyes, but he was helpless—and he agreed, to save his life.

"I told you it would be arranged," said Stepan, three days later, when Mr. Denniston, the consul in Semlin, had arranged for the transfer of Dick's money to New York. "And now you are going to Salonica, with an escort to the border—and I am going all the way to Athens to see you off! Think of us sometimes—and when the war is over, I will visit you in New York!"



"I'm going to give you drafts on New York, Dick," Mr. Denniston had said. "In ordinary times, that wouldn't be the best way—I'd simply arrange for transfer of your money by mail or cable. But now, in war times, with the mails badly held up and most of the cables cut, that is more difficult. There might be months of delay in getting the money if we trusted to ordinary arrangements."

"I see, sir," said Dick, though he did not understand the details of international banking any too well.

"You've had such a hard time getting this, and you've done so splendidly that I'd hate to think there was any chance of some slip making trouble for you now," the consul went on. "But with these drafts you'll be all right. Take good care of them—but I needn't tell you that, I suppose."

"Hardly!" said Dick, with a laugh. "But no one else could cash them, even if I lost them, I suppose?"

"Not if payment were stopped. The only danger would be if you lost them in such a way that whoever got them forged your signature and then kept you from being able to warn the people in New York not to pay them. But of course there'd be a long delay and it's just possible that you might lose heavily. So guard them carefully—just as if they were actual money. I'll give you a money belt to put them in—"

"I have one myself, thanks," said Dick.

"General Dushan has arranged for your trip, I understand," said the consul. "How do you go?"

"Through Nisha to the Greek border—no, to the Bulgarian line, I believe," said Dick. "They decided that that was safer than the direct route to Athens. I sail from Salonica. Stepan Dushan says there are raiding bands of Albanians south of Uskub and getting near to Monastir, and that that section isn't safe, anyhow—that it hasn't settled down properly since the last wars."

"It's true enough," said Mr. Denniston, with a faint frown. "That whole region is unsettled. You see, Servia took a good deal of territory Bulgaria claimed and there are a good many Bulgarians living in it. I hope that Servia will see its way, if it gets what it wants from Bosnia and Herzegovina, to give that section back to Bulgaria. That's the only way we can have a real and lasting peace here in the Balkans—and Heaven knows we need it, after three great wars in as many years!"

All arrangements were made finally. After the great victory that had driven the Austrians from her soil, Servia was like a man panting for breath. The whole country was resting, gathering its strength after that tremendous effort. But there was a good deal of activity, nevertheless. The ruin the invaders had wrought was being repaired. Railroads had to be rebuilt; ammunition and stores brought up. For the Austrians, badly beaten though they had been, were likely to come again.

So it had seemed best for Dick and his chum, with the escort of hardy Servian cavalrymen General Dushan provided, to ride to the border.

"It'll take us longer, of course," said Stepan, "but not so much. The railroad is torn to pieces, and even where trains are running, the military service has the right of way."

"I'd just as soon ride, anyhow," said Dick. "It gives one a much better chance to see the country."

So it was arranged, and they started from Belgrade before the sun was up on a morning of mist and heavy clouds. Later the sun swept the mist and clouds away, and they rode through a devastated, horrible country. The ravages of war were visible on all sides.

"Ah, well!" said Stepan, with a sigh, as he looked out at the ruin of what had been a smiling, happy land, "the ones who are coming after us will live in peace! Those who have been driven from their homes and have died have suffered for them. Servia will be able to live after this war without feeling that Austria may move at any minute to crush her. And that is worth some suffering!"

"Everything's so quiet here I don't see why we need an escort at all, Stepan," said Dick. "We haven't seen anyone who'd harm a fly—if it was a Servian fly."

"That's true so far," said Stepan, but a grim look came into his eyes. "We shall come, though, to a country where we may meet more trouble. I hope we shall not need the escort—but one can never tell. And I haven't wanted to alarm you, Dick, but this Hallo has a reputation for not giving things up easily. You have a great sum of what he may think is his money, though he stole it from your family. He will not let you get home with that if he finds a way to stop you."

"But how can he do that while he is a prisoner in Belgrade?" laughed Dick.

"He is a prisoner—yes," said Stepan, somberly. "But there are many who have worked for him who are not prisoners. Oh, I may be wrong, and I shouldn't worry you without reason, Dick! But I don't want you to feel too secure; I don't want you to think that all the danger is over. It won't be until we are safely in Salonica."

They had to bid farewell to their escort at last. The troopers went with them to a lonely spot, marked only by a border monument and two small houses—quarters of the Servian and Bulgarian frontier guards. Here there was peace but not friendship. The memories of the bitter summer of 1913, when the allies who had been fighting the Turks, side by side, turned against one another in one of the bloodiest and sharpest wars in history, were all too fresh. The Bulgarians scowled at the sight of the Servian uniforms; they subjected the two scouts to a close scrutiny when they crossed the line, but their papers were in order and they were allowed to proceed.

Now, however, there seemed to be something sinister in the very air. Scowling faces met them wherever they came upon peasants or soldiers, and soldiers seemed almost unduly numerous. Then after a few hours of riding, they saw no more soldiers. In their places, however, they encountered bands of men in the national Bulgarian costume, rough, hard-faced men with modern rifles, who seemed to be riding aimlessly. Stepan ground his teeth at the sight of them.

"They're not soldiers, oh, no!" he said. "You see they're not in uniform. But do you notice how they sit their horses, and how they ride in files? Undisciplined men never did that! Those bands are the ones that cross over, raiding our borderlands. But what can we do? We have enough without fighting Bulgaria, too, so we have to accept apologies the Sofia government makes. If possible we want Bulgaria on our side. But—! The treacherous dogs!"

"Don't get so excited, Stepan," advised Dick. "I believe you hate them more than you do the Austrians!"

"I'll be glad when we cross over into Greece," grumbled Stephan. "The Greeks are our allies and our friends. The only reason they have not come to our aid is that they must watch Bulgaria. That helps us, of course—Bulgaria dares not move while Greece is ready."

It was late in the afternoon when they first noticed that they were no longer traveling alone. Two Bulgarian merchants—so Stepan said, judging from their appearance—passed them, riding wiry little horses; a little later they overtook them, and after that the two Bulgarians stayed about a hundred yards behind them, no matter how often they altered their pace.

"I don't like their looks," said Stepan. "I wish we didn't have to sleep to-night on Bulgarian soil. Their inns—Dick, why should we sleep in an inn? Let us buy provisions and spend the night out of doors! It will be cold, but we have faced worse hardships than that together!"

"I'm game!" laughed Dick. "Any inn we find on this road is sure to be dirty, anyhow. It'll be a last adventure to think of, after all the rest!"

So it was agreed. In the first village they reached they stopped and bought provisions. After dark they hobbled their horses and built a lean-to shelter and a big camp-fire. The two Bulgarians passed them as they began; soon one rode back.

"I thought so!" said Stepan. "They're watching us, Dick."

Dick looked at him curiously. There was a strange light in Stepan's eyes. It was as if he could see things that are hidden from ordinary sight. And before he could answer Stepan sprang to his feet.

"Come!" he said. "Tear your shirt up into strips—I'm going to muffle the feet of the horses."

He went to work with a will, and Dick followed his example, smiling to himself. He knew Stepan too well to argue with him in such a mood. But that there was serious danger he could not believe for a moment.

"Come!" said Stepan again, when they had finished. He took his horse and led it into the field. They were in wooded country but the trees were not thick, and they could pick a way through them.

Dick looked back at the blazing fire regretfully.

"Are you going on—now?" he asked.

"For your sake," said Stepan, curtly. And Dick said no more.

"A mile away there is another road. We have maps of all this region, of course, and I studied them," said Stepan. "If we can reach a place I have just thought of we may be safe."

They came undisturbed to the parallel road. Then they mounted.

"The horses are pretty tired," suggested Dick.

"I'm sorry for them, but I can't help that," said Stepan. "Come on—ride!"

From the start he set a hot pace. Before long Dick felt his horse was growing more and more tired and finally he protested.

"Slow up, then, if you like!" said Stepan, fiercely. "Don't you know by this time that I don't speak of danger unless it is real? Perhaps you want to be caught by these people! But they know me—and I know what they would do to me! I don't intend to have them catch me, I can tell you!"

"Then why did you come with me?" asked Dick, angrily. He had never seen his friend in such a mood before. Stepan's tone made him so angry that he was almost able to forget how much he owed him.

Stepan didn't answer. But just then, as they still rode on, forcing their pace, they came to a turn in the road. A lone figure, mounted on a big horse, was standing guard. At sight of them he leaned forward, then cried out sharply, "Halt!"

For answer Stepan spurred his horse on; Dick's followed. A shot rang out; then another, and another, but no bullets came near them.

"He's signalling. Now will you believe I was right?" asked Stepan bitterly.

The thunder of hoofs sounded on the road behind them. They sped on, but suddenly Dick's horse lurched and almost threw him over its head, Dick pulled him up; the poor brute was limping.

"He can't go on!" said Dick. "Stepan—"

"Then you'll have to shift for yourself!" shouted Stepan, brutally. "I've done all I can for you!"

And, leaving Dick dumbfounded, he spurred on and was soon visible only as a cloud of dust! Dick could scarcely believe his eyes and ears. That Stepan, his trusted friend, who had shared every imaginable peril with him, could desert him so now! But he had not long to think. The pursuers whose horses they had heard were on him in a minute more. Without a struggle, since the odds were overwhelming—ten or twelve men assailed him—he let himself be dragged from his horse and bound.

One man came to him and searched him. When he found the belt he gave a cry of triumph. The next moment he was examining the drafts.

"Another one was with you?" he said, in excellent English and with a marked American accent. Dick started. This looked like Hallo's work, certainly. "Where is he?"

"He's gone—to save himself," said Dick, bitterly.

"Ah, well—you are the one we want," said his captor, who was plainly the leader of the band. "Now, my young friend, endorse these drafts, in blank, at once!"

"I will not!" said Dick, hotly. "And you can tell Hallo so, too!"

"You will not?" said the other, smoothly. "Then I will tell you what will happen. I give you an hour—because I have lived in New York, and done well there. I like you Americans. If you have not signed then, I shall sign for you."

"That will be forgery—and I shall stop payment!"

"So? Suppose, when I leave you here, I leave you under the earth? There are many graves in the Balkans in these days—new graves! One more or less will matter little. Do you think it will ever give up its secret—the one that shall hold you?"

Something in the man's cool tone made Dick shiver. It carried conviction—it made him believe that this was no idle threat. And yet he felt that he could not yield. Oh, if only Stepan had not left him! He was glad, now that his anger had cooled, that his chum was not involved in this new trouble. And yet—he would have felt better had Stepan been beside him, to share this peril, as he had shared so many others.

"It is eleven o'clock now," said the brigand. "If at midnight you have not signed—!"

"That's enough," said Dick. "I'll think it over."

"Light a fire—it is chilly," directed the chief of Dick's captors. "I am a kindly man. I would not want this hour to prove a chilly one for you."

Strange and weird indeed Dick found the scene. There were eleven men, he found, when he could count them. All wore the Bulgarian national costume; all looked like soldiers, but he thought all were not Bulgarians. There were Turks and Albanians among them. And then, suddenly, one man pitched forward, very quietly, and lay still. The others started toward him; two or three of them fell. They fell as Dick had seen men fall when they were struck by bullets, though he had heard no sound of a shot, but only a faint noise, like the cough of an animal.

Then wild panic spread among his captors. They blazed away in all directions with their guns; for the moment they forgot him. And then silent, fierce figures were suddenly among them, cutting, stabbing—and Stepan's cry rang out.

"Dick! Dick! Are you safe?" he shouted.

It was all over in a moment. Stepan, the tears streaming down his cheeks, released Dick.

"I lamed your horse—I had to pretend to desert you so that they would believe you and let me go!" he cried. "I knew our horses were too tired for us to escape unless we could delay them. A few miles from here is a little colony of Serbs. We, you see, have to do something to get warning of the border raids. They have guns with silencers—I knew I could get help. Now we must ride for the Greek line, but we can make it now!"

On through the night they rode, leaving the dead and wounded behind, while those who had been captured unhurt were tied and gagged. And before daylight they came to a Greek frontier post. Greek soldiers greeted them; there was a captain who had served with Stepan's father against Bulgaria.

"The road to Salonica is safe and open now!" he told them.

And so it proved. Dick had recovered his papers and a week later, his adventures over, he sailed from Athens, and waved to Stepan, standing on the deck, until he could no longer see him. He was homeward bound.

Hallo had played his last card—and lost.

The End.



"Telling of two boys who go into the vegetable and flower-raising business instead of humdrum commercial pursuits. The characters and situations are realistic."—PHILADELPHIA TELEGRAPH


One of the most pleasing of juveniles, made pathetic by the strength with which the author pictures the central figure, a little girl made miserable by her mother's strict adherence to a pet "method" of training.


"This pleasing story may have been developed from real life, from real children, so true a picture does it portray of girlish life and sports."—GRAND RAPIDS HERALD


A glowing Christmas tale, fresh and natural in situations, that will interest both boys and girls.

It tells how two poor children anticipate the joys of the holiday, and how heartily they enter into doing their part to make the day merry for themselves and others.


The chronicles of the Happy-Go-Luckys, a crowd of girls who did not depend upon riches for good times. This club was very stretchible as to membership, so they elected Peggy-Alone from pity of her loneliness. Freed from governess, nurse and solicitous mother, she has the jolliest summer of her life.




The sub-title "Two Boy Pioneers" indicates the nature of this story—that it has to do with the days when the Ohio Valley and the Northwest country were sparsely settled. Such a topic is an unfailing fund of interest to boys, especially when involving a couple of stalwart young men who leave the East to make their fortunes and to incur untold dangers.

"Strong, vigorous, healthy, manly."—Seattle Times.



The author once more sends his heroes toward the setting sun. "In all the glowing enthusiasm of youth, the youngsters seek their fortunes in the great, fertile wilderness of northern Ohio, and eventually achieve fair success, though their progress is hindered and sometimes halted by adventures innumerable. It is a lively, wholesome tale, never dull, and absorbing in interest for boys who love the fabled life of the frontier."—Chicago Tribune.



In which we follow the romantic careers of John Jerome and Return Kingdom a little farther.

These two self-reliant boys are living peaceably in their cabin on the Cuyahoga when an Indian warrior is found dead in the woods nearby. The Seneca accuses John of witchcraft. This means death at the stake if he is captured. They decide that the Seneca's charge is made to shield himself, and set out to prove it. Mad Anthony, then on the Ohio, comes to their aid, but all their efforts prove futile and the lone cabin is found in ashes on their return.



A tale of frontier life, and how three children—two boys and a girl—attempt to reach the settlements in a canoe, but are captured by the Indians. A common enough occurrence in the days of our great-grandfathers has been woven into a thrilling story.




Drawings by Katharine Hayward Greenland

Betty is a brilliant, talented, impulsive seventeen-year-old girl, who is suddenly required to fill her mother's place at the head of a household, with a literary, impractical father to manage.

Betty writes, too, and every time she mounts her Pegasus disaster follows for home duties are neglected. Learning of one of these lapses, her elder sister comes home. Betty storms and refuses to share the honors until she remembers that this means long hours free to devote to her beloved pen. She finally moves to the city to begin her career in earnest, and then—well, then comes the story.

"Miss Turner is Miss Alcott's true successor. The same healthy, spirited tone is visible which boys and girls recognized in LITTLE MEN and LITTLE WOMEN."—The Bookman

Elizabeth Hobart at Exeter Hall


Illustrated by R. G. Vosburgh

A spirited Story of every-day boarding-school life that girls like to read. Full of good times and girlish fun.

Elizabeth enters the school and loses no time in becoming one of the leading spirits. She entertains at a midnight spread, which is recklessly conducted under the very nose of the preceptress, who is "scalped" in order to be harmless, for every one knows she would never venture out minus her front hair; she champions an ostracized student; and leads in a daring plan to put to rout the Seniors' program for class day.




These two books of adventure for boys, by the popular author of the Rover Boys' Series, have attained an enviable reputation, and are read by thousands and thousands of boys everywhere.



Harry Castlemon ranks among the best of the writers of juvenile fiction. His various books are in constant and large demand by the boys who have learned to look for his name as author as a guaranty of a good story.



Stories of western life that are full of adventure, which read as if they happened day before yesterday.



For boys who have had their fill of adventures on land, the Rathborne books are ever welcome. They make one feel the salt breeze, and hear the shouts of the sailor boys.



James Otis writes for wide-awake American boys, and his audience read his tales with keen appreciation.