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   Chapter 5 A NEW RECRUIT.

The Boy Allies in Great Peril; Or, With the Italian Army in the Alps By Clair W. Hayes Characters: 9444

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:02


The French officer also stepped back in surprise, for until that moment he had not had time to glance at the two lads. He, too, gave vent to an exclamation of pleasure and held out both hands.

"Hal! Chester!" he cried.

Each lad seized upon a hand and wrung it heartily. General Ferrari and Colonel Fuesco stood back and eyed them curiously. Finally the general spoke to the Frenchman.

"You know these boys?" he asked.

"Know them!" repeated Major Derevaux. "Well, I should say I do. They are

Lieutenants Paine and Crawford, of His British majesty's service, sir."

"Then they are not German or Austrian spies?"

"What! These lads German spies! If you but knew of what invaluable service they have been to the cause of the Allies, you would be proud to shake hands with them. Why, let me tell you," and forgetting all other matters for the moment, Major Derevaux plunged into an account of the boys' triumphs since joining the allied forces.

At the conclusion of this recital, General Ferrari extended a hand to each of the boys.

"I am indeed glad to know two such gallant lads," he said. "I felt sure when I first saw you that there must be some mistake in your cases."

"But they stole my paper!" cried Colonel Fuesco.

"That is not true," said Major Derevaux. "I can vouch for their loyalty."

"But who can vouch for you?" demanded the colonel. "How is General Ferrari to know that you, too, are not a spy, coming to him with false credentials?"

"I can answer that question," replied the general. "As it happens, I have known Major Derevaux for years. He has often visited at my home, he and his parents. You owe these lads an apology, colonel."

"He knocked me down," replied the colonel, pointing to Chester.

"So he did," said the general, "and you deserved it."

Chester now approached the colonel and extended a hand.

"I bear you no ill will," he said.

The officer glanced at him searchingly for a moment, and then took the hand.

"I have done you and your friend an injustice," he said. "I am sorry."

"Say no more about it," replied Chester.

Colonel Fuesco also shook hands with Hal.

"But what of my paper?" he demanded of the general.

"I can give you a description of the man who took it," said Hal, and did so. When he mentioned that the man had a scar on his face, the two Italian officers uttered a cry.

"Hans Robard!" they exclaimed.

"You know him, then?" asked Chester.

"Rather," said the general dryly. "He is an Austrian, and attached to the Austrian embassy here. Of course there has as yet been no formal declaration of war between Italy and Austria, but it has been known for days that war was sure to come. Colonel Fuesco here has been entrusted with important documents relating to troop movements, and it is this document that Robard has stolen. It must be recovered."

"We are willing to help all we can," said Chester. "With a little forethought we should have been able to recover it ourselves. Robard made monkeys of us."

"He made a monkey of me, too," said the colonel ruefully.

"The thing to be done," said Chester, "is to get track of him."

"That's easy enough," was the reply. "He can be found at the embassy; but he will deny that he has the paper. Also, we cannot arrest him. Being a member of a foreign embassy, in times of peace he is immune from arrest."

"And he will take the paper with him when he leaves Italy," said

Major Derevaux.

"It was stolen once," said Hal thoughtfully. "Why cannot it be stolen again?"

"What do you mean?" asked Colonel Fuesco.

"Just what I say. Robard stole the document from you. Some one must recover it from Robard without his knowledge."

"An excellent idea!" exclaimed General Ferrari. "But who will do this work?"

"We shall be glad to undertake it, your excellency," said Hal.

"You! But you are so young for such a piece of work."

"Don't you believe it, general," Major Derevaux interrupted. "If the papers can be recovered, these lads can get them. You could not put the mission in better hands."

"But the danger-"

"We have been in danger before, sir," said Chester quietly.

The general considered a moment, and then brought a hand down on his desk with tremendous force.

"So be it!" he exclaimed. "And if you are successful, Italy will know how to reward you."

"We seek no reward, sir," said Hal quietly. "Then we are at liberty to go now, sir?"

"Yes. I shall not hamper you with instructions."

"All we wish to know, sir," said Hal, "is whether Robard still is at the

Austrian embassy."

"He is," was the reply, "and will be until some time to-morrow, when the ambassador will be given his passports."

"Can I be of a

ny assistance?" asked Colonel Fuesco, stepping forward.

"If you can, we shall call on you," replied Hal.

"Good," said the colonel, and, drawing out a card, he scribbled an address on it. "You will find me there," he said. "I shall remain at my quarters in the hopes that I may be given a hand in the game."

The lads shook hands with the general and walked to the door.

"Wait a moment, boys," said Major Derevaux. "I want a few words with the general, and then I shall be at liberty to go with you."

"If it is all the same to you, Major Derevaux," said the general, "I would prefer to postpone our conference until this evening. I have several matters that require my immediate attention."

Major Derevaux accepted this postponement graciously, and announced that he would accompany the boys at once. As they would have passed out, the general's orderly once more entered the room.

"The American ambassador is without, sir," he said, "and demands an immediate interview with you."

General Ferrari turned to Colonel Fuesco.

"You see what trouble you have brought down on my head," he said, with a smile. "I won't bother to see the ambassador now," he said to his orderly. "I shall send these lads to greet him."

In response to these words, Hal and Chester, accompanied by Major Derevaux and Colonel Fuesco, made their way from the room. In the corridor they encountered the American ambassador and Uncle John. The latter was walking back and forth nervously and muttering angrily to himself.

"Here we are, Uncle John," said Chester.

Uncle John jumped as though he had been shot, for he had not perceived their approach.

"You young rascals," he exclaimed, "so you have been released, eh?"

"Yes," said Chester quickly, "we have been released providing we can really apprehend the man who is the spy."

"What do you mean?" asked Uncle John anxiously.

Hal followed Chester's lead, for he wished no obstacle to be put in their path.

"If we can catch the spy, we shall be permitted to go free," he said,

"I see," said Uncle John. "But I can't see that spy-catching is any of your business."

"Well, we have promised to do the best we can," said Chester.

"In that case, I have nothing to say," said Uncle John. "But remember we are due to sail for home to-morrow."

"Oh, we can wait over for the next ship," said Chester.

"Perhaps," said Uncle John, with a twinkle in his eye. "We shall see what your mothers have to say about that."

Hal now bethought himself to introduce Uncle John to his friends. This accomplished, the American ambassador announced that he would be moving, and took his departure. The others Uncle John invited to have lunch with him in a nearby hotel.

Over the table, Hal asked Major Derevaux what he was doing in Rome.

"I don't know as it is my secret now," replied the major. "I am here with a despatch from General Joffre. I cannot say exactly what the despatch contains, but at a guess I would say it has to do with the entrance of Italy into the war, and plans for a possible simultaneous advance between all the troops opposed to the Austro-German army."

"I see," said Hal. "That would be a great thing. I wish we were going back to the front with you."

"Well, you're not," said Uncle John briefly.

"We won't argue about it," said Chester, smiling. "But you never can tell what will happen."

Uncle John changed the subject abruptly. When the conversation reached this stage he always felt uncomfortable.

"When are you going to start spy-hunting?" he asked.

Chester looked at Hal.

"What do you think?" he inquired.

"Well, I should say not until to-night," replied Hal. "I don't believe we could do much good in the day time."

"My idea exactly," agreed Chester. "We may have to make a few preparations."

"I would like to go with you boys," said Major Derevaux, "but I fear it will be impossible. I must return immediately I have had my interview with General Ferrari."

Uncle John had been sitting silent during all this conversation, but now he straightened in his chair and brought his fist down on the table with a bang.

"By Jove!" he exclaimed. "All this talk makes me feel young again. What's the matter with my joining this expedition?"

The two lads gazed at him in wonder. Uncle John saw the amazement written on their features.

"I mean it," he continued. "I want a hand in this game myself. Here, waiter, check!" he called.

He paid the check and rose from the table.

"You wait here for me," he instructed the boys.

"Where are you going?" asked Chester.

"Going to buy a gun," replied Uncle John; "going to outfit myself to join the spy-hunters."

He stalked from the room.

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