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   Chapter 6 THE ENEMY IN CAMP BERRY

Uncle Sam's Boys with Pershing's Troops Dick Prescott at Grips with the Boche By H. Irving Hancock Characters: 7879

Updated: 2017-12-06 00:03


"Captain Prescott!" uttered Mock, starting back in dismay.

"Donner und blitzen!" (thunder and lightning) ejaculated the stoop-shouldered one.

"The fellow has just answered your question for you," Dick went on, pointing an accusing finger at the stranger. "You know what language he was betrayed into using just now."

"German, sir," said Mock.

"That's right," nodded Prescott.

"Is he one of them Kaiser-hound spies, sir?" demanded Mock, stung to wrath and throwing grammar to the winds. "Why, I've dreamed of catching one and tearing him to pieces. With your permission, sir---!"

Not stopping to finish Mock threw himself upon the stoop-shouldered one, But that worthy had foreseen it, and adroitly stopped the ex-sergeant with a blow on the end of the nose that dazed him for an instant.

"I'll take care of him, Mock!" cried Captain Dick, leaping forward. As he did so the stranger turned and fled. No longer stoop-shouldered, but bearing himself like an athlete, the unknown turned and darted away, Prescott racing after him.

"Get back!" warned the fugitive, drawing an automatic revolver and flourishing it over his head.

Though unarmed, save for his fists, Prescott continued to pursue with all speed. After both of them raced Private Mock.

Dick was gaining when he stepped on a round stone, slipped and fell. Mock dashed after him. The fleeing German halted long enough to hurl the automatic pistol at Mock's face, then turned and ran on. Naturally the soldier dodged the missile, which struck the ground behind him. Thinking the weapon might be useful, Mock halted, then ran back and secured the pistol, after which he started to give chase. But the fugitive had vanished in the darkness.

"Come back here and surrender, before I shoot," bluffed Mock, but the German did not answer.

To Mock's intense astonishment Dick reached over, snatching the pistol from his hand.

"That will be about all, Private Mock," said Prescott sternly. "You've bluffed your part well, and helped your friend to escape, but at all events I've got you!"

"Do you--" began the soldier, but stopped, further words failing him. Dick gripped the man's arm, giving a significant pressure before he said:

"You'll come along with me, Mock, and it will be worse for you if you try any further monkey-shines with me."

He gave another pressure on Mock's arm as he finished. Without a word Mock walked with him to where the horse was tied.

"Untie that bridle and buckle the ends together," Dick ordered.

This done, the captain mounted, taking the bridle in his left hand, retaining the automatic pistol in his right.

"March ahead, Mock. Don't try to bolt unless you want me to shoot."

In this manner they proceeded back over the road. Mile after mile they covered, meeting no one until they had come in sight of the camp, nestling in the broad valley below.

At this point such an extensive view could be had that Dick felt sure there was no eavesdropper. So he dismounted, calling the soldier to him and asking in a whisper:

"Mock, you were simply a poor, shirking soldier, weren't you?

You are, at heart, loyal to your country's Flag, aren't you?"

"I'd die for the Stars and Stripes, sir!" Mock declared, in a voice choked with emotion.

"But I felt tired, the other day, and I got a notion Captain Holmes was down on me. So I went bad and got busted. Then I hated Captain Holmes, sir, and ached for a chance to get square with him. Then that accursed carpenter fellow hunted me out, talked with me, and made me think he was my friend. If I had known he was a Kaiser-hound I'd have split his head open at the first crack out of the box."

"I didn't doubt you as a loyal man, Mock," Dick continued, in a whisper. "I spoke to you the way I did back on the road because I was sure the fellow was near and listening. I didn't care much about catching him to-night because I hope to catch him later

on, and get him even more red-handed. Mock, you're loyal, and I'm going to put your loyalty, if you consent, to a hard, bitter test."

Dick went on in an even lower tone, Mock listening in growing astonishment, without replying a word, though he nodded understandingly.

"So, now," Prescott wound up, "I'm going to continue into camp with you still a prisoner and be mighty hard on you. However, I won't hold the pistol on you any longer."

Into camp Dick marched the soldier, then over toward the buildings of the Ninety-ninth, and thence along to the bull-pen.

"Sergeant of the guard!" Prescott called briskly, and that non-commissioned officer appeared.

"Take charge of Private Mock as a prisoner, charged with being absent from camp without leave or pass," Dick ordered. "I will report my action to Captain Holmes, who will dispose of his case."

From there Dick led the horse back to B company barracks, turned the animal over to an orderly and went into the company office, where, as he had expected, he found Greg immersed in a grind of paper work. For a few minutes Dick talked earnestly with his chum in low tones, Captain Holmes frequently nodding.

"And now, I think I had better go down to the adjutant's office, to see if he's still at his desk," Dick finished, "and, if so, make my report."

"You'll stagger him," Greg predicted.

One of Greg's orderlies had already ridden the major's horse to the stable, so Prescott walked briskly along the street until he came to regimental headquarters. As he entered the adjutant's office he found Colonel Cleaves seated on the corner of his subordinate's desk, in low-toned conversation with his subordinate.

"Am I intruding, sir?" Dick inquired, saluting the colonel.

"No," said Colonel Cleaves. "In fact, Captain, you may as well know the subject-matter of our conversation. Captain Prescott, this camp would appear to be infested with German spies! This evening sixteen men in F company were taken ill after supper. They are now in hospital and some of them are expected to die. The surgeons have examined some of the food left over from that supper and report finding ground glass in some pieces of the apple pie served as dessert. Later the captain of our machine-gun company, which has only one machine gun so far, had the piece taken into the company mess-room to demonstrate the mechanism to his lieutenants so that they might instruct the men. He found the mechanism of the piece so badly jammed that the machine gun refused to work. I have inspected that piece, and in my opinion the gun is ruined. As if that were not enough sixteen rifles belonging to G company have been found with their bolts broken off. It is very plain that German spies and sympathizers are at work in Camp Berry, and the scoundrels must be found, Captain."

Colonel Cleaves spoke under the stress of great excitement, his eyes flashing, the corners of his mouth twitching.

Dick went to the door, then to the doors opening into the rooms on either side. Then he came back, saying in a low voice:

"Colonel, I met one of the German spies tonight. Perhaps the ring-leader. If I see him again I shall recognize him and arrest him instantly. Do you see what this is, sir?"

Dick held up the weapon that the carpenter had hurled at Private

Mock.

"It is a 45-caliber, United States Government automatic pistol," said Colonel Cleaves.

"Exactly, sir; and the spy I have mentioned had it in his possession. How he obtained it, I do not yet know, but I hope to find out. And now, sir, I will tell you what happened and what action I took."

Thereupon Captain Dick Prescott narrated the amazing adventure of the evening, winding up with:

"So, sir, I have placed Private Mock in arrest at the guard-house, and through his detention there I hope to gain the clues that shall lead us to the ferreting out and arrest of the whole crew of German spies at Camp Berry!"

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