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Siddereticus stopped singing. Fen was It was long that the yacht had lain idle breathing regularly, and much more at anchor, but now she was bravely nosing easily, in quiet sleep. The doctor insisted her way through the blue Mediterranean, that Mrs. Norvell and Cynthia should go westward bound once more. It was the to bed, or at least to rest, and Aung him first time that Fen had been on deck, and self down on a couch in the corner. Sid he lay on a cot under the awning, very dereticus refused to move, saying that he straight in a plaster cast. But when the would not risk withdrawing his arm from two people that he loved most in the under the pillow, for fear of waking Fen. world bent over him, he was able to give So he remained through the hours, some them almost as ineffably sweet a smile as times changing his position slightly, but of old. keeping his right arm motionless.
"Dear to my heart,” said Siddereticus, He fell at times into a sort of numb as he knelt beside the bed and took one sleep, and would wake dizzily with a hot of Fen's hands, while Cynthia possessed rible fear that he had moved. He never herself of the other, "we have something knew until very long afterward whether very important to ask you. We want your or not he had dreamed it, but he was permission. Do you know, that when a almost certain that once in the night Cyn- Djinn marries a mortal, which does n't thia had come and bent over Fen with in often happen,-he loses all his magic powfinite tenderness, and then, turning toward er, and has to become a human creature. himself, had touched his hair very lightly. Now what I want to ask you is this:
Siddereticus felt, at last, that he could would you rather that I should stay a not keep his cramped position much long- Djinn forever, and only see you once in a er. He looked toward the port-holes. A long, long while,—or,-would you rather few lamps burned here and there on shore, that I should ask Aunty to marry me and and the riding-lights of the vessels undu turn myself into Uncle Siddereticus and lated gently. The moon had set long ago, see you nearly all the time?" and a few pale stars were clustered in the Fen looked from one to the other of crystal sky. Far away, on shore, a cock the eager faces. crowed eerily through the dark, and in at "I think," he said slowly, "I 'm quite the port-hole came the first sigh of the sure—that I'd rather have you—and winds of sunrise.
Aunty—all the time.” At dawn, Fen opened his eyes, and He tried to put his arms around their looked up into the face above him. necks, and as they both bent to kiss him,
“Do you know, Siddereticus," he said Cynthia's hair brushed Siddereticus's gently, “I walked this morning."
cheek. And Siddereticus, worn with his vigil, But this time they did not straighten up covered his face with his hand and wept. quickly.
By GEORGE ETHELBERT WALSH
He stopped and looked a little belliger
ently at the circle of faces. They were all SHARING THE SECRET
old men, past middle life, but the fire of Bob realized that he had not helped mat- youth and patriotism burned in their eyes. ters by his reference to the organization They were doing a work for their counhe had formed, and, in order to convince try that would condemn them to long imhis captors of the seriousness of his pur- prisonment, if not to death, should their pose, it was necessary to take them fully conquerors learn of their secret. into his confidence. This was something The leader was the first to speak. He that none of the Vigilantes had done be leaned forward suddenly and caught Bob fore, and, indeed, it was a part of their by the hand. “Incredible! Incredible!" creed to keep the secret from their elders. he exclaimed. “Yet it must be true!" But the emergency was great, and if the Under the stress of his emotion, he speaker was the unknown editor of “La began pacing back and forth, his hands Libre Belgique," he could be trusted. working nervously.
The boy looked up at the scowling “Are n't you afraid some spy will find face, and asked, "Are you the editor of you here?” Bob asked, 'La Libre Belgique'?"
"No, we 're safe enough,” replied the The man did not reply. His face leader. turned red, and an angry gleam entered “But we heard the pounding of your his eyes. "Keep them prisoners, Jacques," press—or at least I suppose it was that he said, turning to one of his companions. which made the noise." "They don't intend any wrong, I sup "Yes, we were busy running off a spepose, but boys can't be trusted.”
cial edition," was the smiling reply, “and Bob's face flushed, and with some diffi to get more air we left the door open. culty he raised himself to a sitting posi- That's why you heard it. But it's closed tion. “Wait until you 've heard our story now, and no noise goes through the padded before you say that," he interrupted door. We 're safe in here." quickly. “We 're working for the good
“I do not know your name, the boy of Belgium as well as you are. The Boy hesitated; "perhaps” Vigilantes are pledged to secrecy, but I "No," was the emphatic reply, “I canknow I can trust you. I 'll tell you who not tell you. It might get you into trouthey are.”
ble, for I see you're not the kind to The man was impressed by the serious- betray a friend even under compulsion. ness of the speaker, and stopped to listen. Not knowing the editor of 'La Libre Bel"Go on!" he said gruffly; “my time 's pre- gique, you could not tell another." cious!"
He smiled so whimsically, his eyes Bob cleared his throat, and began to bright and shining beneath their shaggy relate briefly the story of how the Vigi- brows, that Bob .felt strangely drawn lantes had been organized. When he toward him. In the stalwart patriot he reached the end of his story, he looked up, recognized not only an editor that had and added :
defied the German censorship and laughed “Now if you don't believe we can keep at the keenest members of the German a secret for the sake of our country, noth- intelligence bureau in their effort to catch ing I can say will convince you. Anyway, him, but a kindly human being who had we know you publish 'La Libre Belgique' preserved his sanity and sense of humor down here, and the secret is safe with us. throughout the trying times of the war. No Hun could torture it from us.” Bob could well imagine him as an affec
tionate and kindly father and husband, safety. Many of them, I hope, are on who would like nothing better than the their way across the border." quiet, peaceful life of the family circle. “But you remain ?” His high, broad brow indicated also the “Yes, but not for long. We'll go scholar and thinker, a man who would be soon.” preeminent in any line he pursued.
"Don't make it too late, then.” "Maybe you 're right," the boy said, Bob was troubled by the speaker's after a pause. "It 's dangerous to know words, for in them he read the extreme too much. We 're all uncertain what gravity of the situation. may happen to us to-morrow. Egmont “I shall go at once!” he announced and I stand in daily fear of being seized finally. “Egmont must go, too." and deported to Germany. Although un "I'm glad to hear you speak so," reder fourteen, we look old enough to be. plied the editor, drawing a sigh of relief. fifteen, and Germany 's combing the coun "Confidence, backed up with caution and try for all boys and girls old enough to wisdom, will carry one far. One must work for her.”
have all three to succeed in anything. I The editor's face suddenly clouded and know you will get through.”
He stopped and was quiet for a mo"Yes," he replied slowly, "your danger ment. Once or twice he glanced quizis very real. I have received word from zically at Bob, and then dropped his eyes one of my trusted reporters that the age again. Finally he smiled and said: “If limit is to be lowered for the next batch you have decided upon going, I shall use of youngsters. Germany 's determined to
you as an agent for helping Belgium. It drain the country of all human material will not increase your danger, and, if you that she can use. Having robbed us of all get through, you will do
beloved counour wealth, stolen our machinery and val try a great good. Do you care to underuable household articles, she is now look take it?" ing to strip us of our young. She will "Yes, indeed!” replied Bob, eagerly. stop at nothing. It is enough to rouse the "Anything that will help the cause. I'm dead from their graves! It is the most ready. What is it?" terrible crime of the ages! God in his "You're sure you want to take the own wisdom must punish her in time !" risk ?"
The man spoke slowly and vehemently, “I shall try to start on my journey bebut with such powerful, concentrated fore another night," was the calm reply. force that the words seemed to burn in The man smiled and nodded his head. the brain. There was none of the excite “Then follow me,” he said. "I have ment of the orator or demagogue in his something to show you. It will surprise voice. It was hard, bitter, implacable. and interest you. This way.”
"What do you think my cousin and I ought to do, then?" Bob asked, after a
CHAPTER IX pause. "I can't go to Germany! I won't
AN ESCAPED PRISONER go-not if I___"
"Words and threats are futile, my boy," THERE were several alcoves opening into was the interruption. "We must face the underground room, small spaces hewn facts. Every boy of your age is doomed out of the solid rock, and now partitioned to go—unless you leave Belgium before it off by blankets and stringy curtains. Some is too late."
of these were used for storage purposes, "That was my idea,” Bob interrupted others for sleeping quarters, with cots and quickly. "I told Egmont we ought to get mattresses littered around in great disout of the country. We have advised all order. the older members of the Vigilantes to When the unknown, but famous, editor leave for Holland, France, or any place of of Belgium's uncensored newspaper led the
way to one of these alcoves, Bob followed, and insulted, he never lost his faith, and his curiosity greatly aroused by the other's he has returned to his compatriots at the words. What new surprise and mystery risk of his life.” awaited him? There seemed to be no Bob felt a thrill of excitement as he end to the adventure into which they had looked into the face of the lieutenant with unwittingly plunged.
admiration and sympathy. A dim light was burning in the particu “I'm glad you 've come back alive," lar alcove before which the man stopped; he said simply. “I wish I could do someand when he drew the curtain aside, the thing for you. interior was clearly revealed. The place "You can, my boy," interrupted the ediwas better furnished than the other parts tor. "That's why I've brought you of the gloomy dungeon, but not well here. In his four years in Germany, Gusenough to suggest luxury. There were a tave learned many things of great importable and a couple of chairs, and a cot in tance, information vital to the success of one corner.
the Allies. In his Aight across the border Lying on this, with nothing but his face he picked up much more, details and facts exposed to view, was a young man, whose of military preparation and design. If our pale, emaciated features told of great men beloved king knew of them, and could tal or physical suffering. When the cur pass them on to the Allies, it might change tain was raised, the eyes of the invalid the whole course of the war. Gustave opened, burning with unexpected bril was on his way to the front with this liancy.
information when he broke down and fell "Has the noise disturbed you, Gus into our hands. He was eager to go on, tave?" the editor asked, in a kindly voice. but we detained him. It will be weeks,
"No, Monsieur, I have slept, and feel if not months, before he will be a well better," murmured the invalid.
man again.” “That is well. Then I have good news A glimmer of enlightenment began to to cheer you. I bring a friend."
filter through Bob's brain. Gustave's “Ah, Monsieur, all your friends are my patriotism had become concentrated into friends," replied Gustave, extending a an intense longing to finish his work, even hand; but when he saw that Bob was if it meant that he must give his life , at only a boy, he smiled quizzically.
the expiration of it. "The future of our beloved country de “This valuable information must be got pends upon our young, Gustave. So do. through,” continued the editor. “We've not undervalue the boys who some day told Gustave we would see to it; but so must take our places in the ranks. They far we have had no plan, and every day have already shown themselves valiant de he works himself into a fever thinking fenders.”
of it." “I had a boy—not so old as he,” the Bob's face suddenly broke into a smile. invalid murmured. "I hope he has es “And you want me to carry the informacaped. But I do not know. I have been tion to the Allies?” he asked. away so long—four years in German pris "Yes, either directly, in person, or ons and internment camps—four years of through your young Vigilantes." torture and suffering."
"Monsieur !" shrieked Gustave, rising “Our friend here, Lieutenant Gustave again. "Monsieur, you would trust my Transquet, was among the valiant heroes
great secret to—to a boy? Incredible! who defended Liège," the editor explained, No, no, I shall never permit it! I shall turning to Bob. “He was wounded and rise from a sick bed and go on! Nothcaptured, and carried to Germany. The ing shall detain me! I, Lieutenant Gusrest speaks for itself. For nearly four tave Transquet, swear it!" years he suffered internment in camps vile He threw the blanket from his gaunt enough to kill a dog. Starved, frozen, body and made the attempt to carry his