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   Chapter 5 THE GAME OPENS

The Boy Allies with Haig in Flanders; Or, the Fighting Canadians of Vimy Ridge By Clair W. Hayes Characters: 8248

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:02


"You may pass, gentlemen."

The speaker was a German officer. Upon the arrival of the three friends at the railroad terminus just across the German border the officer had made a tour of the train, examining the passports of the passengers. Hal, Chester and McKenzie had extended their passports along with the other passengers, and the German officer had found nothing wrong with them.

As the German took his leave, McKenzie breathed a sigh of relief.

"I was sure he was going to nab us," he said.

"Careful," whispered Hal. "We must do all our talking in German, and we must do very little of that concerning our private affairs. Remember, walls have ears, and I guess that will apply to a railroad car as well as a house."

"Right, Herr Block," said Chester with a smile.

The lads found that by remaining upon their car they would go straight through to Berlin. The train was called the Amsterdam-Berlin express, and, while at the border, it was crowded with troops, there was still a fair sprinkling of passengers bound for the German capital.

It was after dark when the train pulled into Berlin and Hal, Chester, and McKenzie prepared to disembark. As the train stopped, Hal made sure that his revolver was loose in his pocket, settled his hat firmly on his head, and led the way from the car.

As with most travelers in that part of the world at that time, neither was burdened with baggage. Each carried a small portfolio, much used at that time by war correspondents, but they had no other luggage.

"We'll go to the Hotel Bismarck," said Hal.

Although it had been years since either Hal or Chester had been in Berlin, Hal's sense of direction now stood him in good stead. He remembered where the Hotel Bismarck stood as well as though he had been there yesterday.

At the hotel the three registered under their assumed names, and paid a month in advance for a small suite of two rooms.

"We expect to study the internal situation of the city for some time," Hal explained to the clerk, "and we want to feel sure that we shall have a place to stay while we are here."

The three made themselves comfortable in their apartments, and for some time talked quietly. At last Hal gave the word for bed.

"We don't know just how we shall proceed," he said, "but we must be fresh and ready for any eventuality in the morning."

Morning came and with it the three friends were astir. They had an early breakfast, and then Hal announced that he would fare forth alone.

"I'll tell you where I'm going," he said, "so that if anything happens to me you will go ahead with the work, regardless. Remember this. Even though I may get in trouble, your duty will be to get the list, irrespective of what my fate may be. America comes first, you know, Chester."

"Of course," was the latter's quiet reply.

"Well," said Hal, "I am going to the home of the German undersecretary of foreign affairs. I am going to see Mrs. Schweiring."

Chester nodded.

"Then we shall stay here until you return," he said.

"Very well," Hal agreed. "But if I have not returned by noon, you will know something has happened, and you will proceed about the work with no further thought of me."

He left the room quickly.

He made inquiries at the hotel office, and half an hour later found himself before the residence of the German undersecretary of foreign affairs. He rang the doorbell. A footman answered the ring. Hal announced that he would like to see Mrs. Schweiring.

"Your card," said the footman, allowing him to enter.

"I have no card," said Hal. "You will tell her that Herr Block, of the

Dutch newspaper, The Amsterdamer, desires to see her."

The footman bowed and departed. A few moments later he returned, followed by a young woman-she could not have been more than 18, Hal decided. The young woman approached, and spoke to Hal.

"My mother is unable to see you at this moment, Herr Block," she said.

"She has sent me to learn the nature of your business with her."

"I am sorry, fraulein," said Hal gravely, "but my business is with your mother. I cannot confide it to

you."

The footman, meantime, had left the room.

The girl stamped her foot a little angrily.

"But mother has no secrets from me," she declared.

"That's the American blood talking now," said Hal to himself. Aloud he replied: "Nevertheless, fraulein, I must again ask to be permitted to speak to your mother."

The girl glanced at him sharply. Then she exclaimed in a low voice:

"You are no Dutchman, mynheer."

Hal started a trifle in spite of himself; then, realizing that this must have betrayed him, he dropped his hand to his pocket, where reposed his revolver.

The girl smiled.

"Have no fear," she said. "I shall say nothing. Can it be you are the one whom mother expects?"

"The best way to find that out," said Hal, "is to summon your mother."

The girl hesitated no longer. She fairly flew from the room. She reappeared a moment later, followed by an older woman.

"This is Herr Block, Mother," she said.

"Very well, Gladys," replied her mother. "Now, if you will leave us alone, and make sure that we are not disturbed."

"I shall stand guard myself," replied the daughter.

She disappeared into the long hall.

"Now, Herr Block," said Mrs. Schweiring, "you may tell me the nature of your business."

Hal glanced sharply about the room. Then he leaned close.

"I come from the American expeditionary forces in France," he said quietly.

Mrs. Schweiring manifested no surprise.

"I had surmised as much," she returned, "I had looked, however, for a man in civil life rather than a military man; also, I had looked for one farther along in years."

"I am sure you will find that my youth may work to our advantage," said

Hal quietly.

"Perhaps. Now tell me in what way I may help."

"Well," said Hal, "I have come, two friends and myself, in an effort to lay hands upon the list of German spies in America-the list kept by the German prime minister."

Mrs. Schweiring nodded.

"I had supposed as much. It was I who informed the department of state in Washington that such a list exists; but without help and without laying myself open to suspicion, I dared not try to get it. It is desperate work, but we shall see what can be done. Gladys!"

Her daughter re-entered the room in response to this summons.

"Gladys," said her mother, "Herr Block is the man we have been expecting; but he has not come alone. His companions are at the Hotel Bismarck, registered as Herr Spidle and Herr Amusdem. You will have their belongings moved here. They are friends whom you met in Switzerland and who will share our hospitality while here. Do you understand?"

"Perfectly, Mother."

"But we have no belongings," said Hal quietly. "We could not be bothered with excess baggage."

"Then I shall see that you are supplied with necessary articles," said his hostess. "The success of your mission will necessitate it. At any rate," she said, turning again to her daughter, "you will send a car for Herr Block's friends."

The girl nodded and left the room.

"I need not caution you," said Mrs. Schweiring, as she led the way upstairs-and showed to Hal a suite of three comfortably furnished rooms. "A little slip will spoil all. I shall introduce you to my friends as a Dutch war correspondent who, nevertheless, has in him a strain of German, with a little American blood. I shall represent that you have lived several years in America, but that your heart is with the Fatherland."

"And my friends?" questioned Hal.

"They shall be just what they represent themselves to be."

"Very well," said Hal. "You perhaps know best. But I must, as soon as possible, be introduced either to the prime minister or to one of his trusted assistants."

"I will tell you something," said his hostess. "The list which you seek is no longer in the hands of the prime minister. It is now in possession of General Rentzel, chief of the secret service; and the son of the general comes frequently to see my daughter, Gladys. But we shall talk more later. I will leave you now and see that sufficient wardrobes are procured for you and your friends."

She left the room.

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