The Boy Who Cried Wolf by Richard Harding Davis
Before he finally arrested him, "Jimmie" Sniffen had seen the man
with the golf-cap, and the blue eyes that laughed at you, three
times. Twice, unexpectedly, he had come upon him in a wood road
and once on Round Hill where the stranger was pretending to watch
the sunset. Jimmie knew people do not climb hills merely to look
at sunsets, so he was not deceived. He guessed the man was a
German spy seeking gun sites, and secretly vowed to "stalk" him.
From that moment, had the stranger known it, he was as good as
dead. For a boy scout with badges on his sleeve for "stalking"
and "path-finding," not to boast of others for "gardening" and
"cooking," can outwit any spy. Even had, General Baden-Powell
remained in Mafeking and not invented the boy scout, Jimmie
Sniffen would have been one. Because, by birth he was a boy, and
by inheritance, a scout. In Westchester County the Sniffens are
one of the county families. If it isn't a Sarles, it's a Sniffen;
and with Brundages, Platts, and Jays, the Sniffens date back to
when the acres of the first Charles Ferris ran from the Boston
post road to the coach road to Albany, and when the first
Gouverneur Morris stood on one of his hills and saw the Indian
canoes in the Hudson and in the Sound and rejoiced that all the
land between belonged to him.
If you do not believe in heredity, the fact that Jimmie's
great-great-grandfather was a scout for General Washington and
hunted deer, and even bear, over exactly the same hills where
Jimmie hunted weasles will count for nothing. It will not explain
why to Jimmie, from Tarrytown to Port Chester, the hills, the
roads, the woods, and the cow-paths, caves, streams, and springs
hidden in the woods were as familiar as his own kitchen garden,
Nor explain why, when you could not see a Pease and Elliman "For
Sale" sign nailed to a tree, Jimmie could see in the highest
branches a last year's bird's nest.
Or why, when he was out alone playing Indians and had sunk his
scout's axe into a fallen log and then scalped the log, he felt
that once before in those same woods he had trailed that same
Indian, and with his own tomahawk split open his skull. Sometimes
when he knelt to drink at a secret spring in the forest, the
autumn leaves would crackle and he would raise his eyes fearing
to see a panther facing him.
But there ain't no panthers in Westchester," Jimmie would
reassure himself. And in the distance the roar of an automobile
climbing a hill with the muffler open would seem to suggest he
was right. But still Jimmie remembered once before he had knelt
at that same spring, and that when he raised his eyes he had
faced a crouching panther. "Mebbe dad told me it happened to
grandpop," Jimmie would explain, "or I dreamed it, or, mebbe, I
read it in a story book."
The "German spy" mania attacked Round Hill after the visit to the
boy scouts of Clavering Gould, the war correspondent. He was
spending the week end with "Squire" Harry Van Vorst, and as young
Van Vorst, besides being a justice of the peace and a Master of
Beagles and President of the Country Club, was also a local
"councilman" for the Round Hill Scouts, he brought his guest to a
camp-fire meeting to talk to them. In deference to his audience,
Gould told them of the boy scouts he had seen in Belgium and of
the part they were playing in the great war. It was his
peroration that made trouble.
"And any day," he assured his audience, "this country may be at
war with Germany; and every one of you boys will be expected to
do his bit. You can begin now. When the Germans land it will be
near New Haven, or New Bedford. They will first capture the
munition works at Springfield, Hartford, and Watervliet so as to
make sure of their ammunition, and then they will start for New
York City. They will follow the New Haven and New York Central
railroads, and march straight through this village. I haven't the
least doubt," exclaimed the enthusiastic war prophet, "that at
this moment German spies are as thick in Westchester as
blackberries. They are here to select camp sites and gun
positions, to find out which of these hills enfilade the others
and to learn to what extent their armies can live on the country.
They are counting the cows, the horses, the barns where fodder is
stored; and they are marking down on their maps the wells and
As though at that moment a German spy might be crouching behind
the door, Mr. Gould spoke in a whisper. "Keep your eyes open!" he
commanded. "Watch every stranger. If he acts suspiciously, get
word quick to your sheriff, or to Judge Van Vorst here. Remember
the scouts' motto, 'Be prepared!'"
That night as the scouts walked home, behind each wall and
hayrick they saw spiked helmets.
Young Van Vorst was extremely annoyed.
"Next time you talk to my scouts," he declared, you'll talk on
'Votes for Women.' After what you said to-night every real estate
agent who dares open a map will be arrested. We're not trying to
drive people away from Westchester, we're trying to sell them
"YOU are not!" retorted his friend, "you own half the county now,
and you're trying to buy the other half."
"I'm a justice of the peace," explained Van Vorst. "I don't know
WHY I am, except that they wished it on me. All I get out of it
is trouble. The Italians make charges against my best friends for
overspeeding and I have to fine them, and my best friends bring
charges against the Italians for poaching, and when I fine the
Italians, they send me Black Hand letters. And now every day I'll
be asked to issue a warrant for a German spy who is selecting gun
sites. And he will turn out to be a millionaire who is tired of
living at the Ritz-Carlton and wants to 'own his own home' and
his own golf-links. And he'll be so hot at being arrested that
he'll take his millions to Long Island and try to break into the
Piping Rock Club. And, it will be your fault!"
The young justice of the peace was right. At least so far as
Jimmie Sniffen was concerned, the words of the war prophet had
filled one mind with unrest. In the past Jimmie's idea of a
holiday had been to spend it scouting in the woods. In this
pleasure he was selfish. He did not want companions who talked,
and trampled upon the dead leaves so that they frightened the
wild animals and gave the Indians warning. Jimmie liked to
pretend. He liked to fill the woods with wary and hostile
adversaries. It was a game of his own inventing. If he crept to
the top of a hill and on peering over it, surprised a fat
woodchuck, he pretended the woodchuck was a bear, weighing two
hundred pounds; if, himself unobserved, he could lie and watch,
off its guard, a rabbit, squirrel, or, most difficult of all, a
crow, it became a deer and that night at supper Jimmie made
believe he was eating venison. Sometimes he was a scout of the
Continental Army and carried despatches to General Washington.
The rules of that game were that if any man ploughing in the
fields, or cutting trees in the woods, or even approaching along
the same road, saw Jimmie before Jimmie saw him, Jimmie was taken
prisoner, and before sunrise was shot as a spy. He was seldom
shot. Or else why on his sleeve was the badge for "stalking." But
always to have to make believe became monotonous. Even "dry
shopping" along the Rue de la Paix when you pretend you can have
anything you see in any window, leaves one just as rich, but
unsatisfied. So the advice of the war correspondent to seek out
German spies came to Jimmie like a day at the circus, like a week
at the Danbury Fair. It not only was a call to arms, to protect
his flag and home, but a chance to play in earnest the game in
which he most delighted. No longer need he pretend. No longer
need he waste his energies in watching, unobserved, a greedy
rabbit rob a carrot field. The game now was his fellow-man and
his enemy; not only his enemy, but the enemy of his country.
In his first effort Jimmie was not entirely successful. The man
looked the part perfectly; he wore an auburn beard, disguising
spectacles, and he carried a suspicious knapsack. But he turned
out to be a professor from the Museum of Natural History, who
wanted to dig for Indian arrow-heads. And when Jimmie threatened
to arrest him, the indignant gentleman arrested Jimmie. Jimmie
escaped only by leading the professor to a secret cave of his
own, though on some one else's property, where one not only could
dig for arrow-heads, but find them. The professor was delighted,
but for Jimmie it was a great disappointment. The week following
Jimmie was again disappointed.
On the bank of the Kensico Reservoir, he came upon a man who was
acting in a mysterious and suspicious manner. He was making notes
in a book, and his runabout which he had concealed in a wood road
was stuffed with blue-prints. It did not take Jimmie long to
guess his purpose. He was planning to blow up the Kensico dam,
and cut off the water supply of New York City. Seven millions of
people without water! With out firing a shot, New York must
surrender! At the thought Jimmie shuddered, and at the risk of
his life by clinging to the tail of a motor truck, he followed
the runabout into White Plains. But there it developed the
mysterious stranger, so far from wishing to destroy the Kensico
dam, was the State Engineer who had built it, and, also, a large
part of the Panama Canal. Nor in his third effort was Jimmie more
successful. From the heights of Pound Ridge he discovered on a
hilltop below him a man working alone upon a basin of concrete.
The man was a German-American, and already on Jimmie's list of
"suspects." That for the use of the German artillery he was
preparing a concrete bed for a siege gun was only too evident.
But closer investigation proved that the concrete was only two
inches thick. And the hyphenated one explained that the basin was
built over a spring, in the waters of which he planned to erect a
fountain and raise gold fish. It was a bitter blow. Jimmie became
discouraged. Meeting Judge Van Vorst one day in the road he told
him his troubles. The young judge proved unsympathetic. "My
advice to you, Jimmie," he said, "is to go slow. Accusing
everybody of espionage is a very serious matter. If you call a
man a spy, it's sometimes hard for him to disprove it; and the
name sticks. So, go slow--very slow. Before you arrest any more
people, come to me first for a warrant."
So, the next time Jimmie proceeded with caution.
Besides being a farmer in a small way, Jimmie's father was a
handy man with tools. He had no union card, but, in laying
shingles along a blue chalk line, few were as expert. It was
August, there was no school, and Jimmie was carrying a
dinner-pail to where his father was at work on a new barn. He
made a cross-cut through the woods, and came upon the young man
in the golf-cap. The stranger nodded, and his eyes, which seemed
to be always laughing, smiled pleasantly. But he was deeply
tanned, and, from the waist up, held himself like a soldier, so,
at once, Jimmie mistrusted him. Early the next morning Jimmie met
him again. It had not been raining, but the clothes of the young
man were damp. Jimmie guessed that while the dew was still on the
leaves the young man had been forcing his way through underbrush.
The stranger must have remembered Jimmie, for he laughed and
"Ah, my friend with the dinner-pail! It's luck you haven't got it
now, or I'd hold you up. I'm starving!"
Jimmie smiled in sympathy. "It's early to be hungry," said
Jimmie; "when did you have your breakfast?"
"I didn't," laughed the young man. "I went out to walk up an
appetite, and I lost myself. But, I haven't lost my appetite.
Which is the shortest way back to Bedford?"
"The first road to your right," said Jimmie.
"Is it far?" asked the stranger anxiously. That he was very
hungry was evident.
"It's a half-hour's walk," said Jimmie
"If I live that long," corrected the young man; and stepped out
Jimmie knew that within a hundred yards a turn in the road would
shut him from sight. So, he gave the stranger time to walk that
distance, and, then, diving into the wood that lined the road,
"stalked" him. From behind a tree he saw the stranger turn and
look back, and seeing no one in the road behind him, also leave
it and plunge into the woods.
He had not turned toward Bedford; he had turned to the left. Like
a runner stealing bases, Jimmie slipped from tree to tree. Ahead
of him he heard the stranger trampling upon dead twigs, moving
rapidly as one who knew his way. At times through the branches
Jimmie could see the broad shoulders of the stranger, and again
could follow his progress only by the noise of the crackling
twigs. When the noises ceased, Jimmie guessed the stranger had
reached the wood road, grass-grown and moss-covered, that led to
Middle Patent. So, he ran at right angles until he also reached
it, and as now he was close to where it entered the main road, he
approached warily. But, he was too late. There was a sound like
the whir of a rising partridge, and ahead of him from where it
had been hidden, a gray touring-car leaped into the highway. The
stranger was at the wheel. Throwing behind it a cloud of dust,
the car raced toward Greenwich. Jimmie had time to note only that
it bore a Connecticut State license; that in the wheel-ruts the
tires printed little V's, like arrow-heads.
For a week Jimmie saw nothing of the spy, but for many hot and
dusty miles he stalked arrow-heads. They lured him north, they
lured him south, they were stamped in soft asphalt, in mud, dust,
and fresh-spread tarvia. Wherever Jimmie walked, arrow-heads ran
before. In his sleep as in his copy-book, he saw endless chains
of V's. But not once could he catch up with the wheels that
printed them. A week later, just at sunset as he passed below
Round Hill, he saw the stranger on top of it. On the skyline, in
silhouette against the sinking sun, he was as conspicuous as a
flagstaff. But to approach him was impossible. For acres Round
Hill offered no other cover than stubble. It was as bald as a
skull. Until the stranger chose to descend, Jimmie must wait. And
the stranger was in no haste. The sun sank and from the west
Jimmie saw him turn his face east toward the Sound. A storm was
gathering, drops of rain began to splash and as the sky grew
black the figure on the hilltop faded into the darkness. And
then, at the very spot where Jimmie had last seen it, there
suddenly flared two tiny flashes of fire. Jimmie leaped from
cover. It was no longer to be endured. The spy was signalling.
The time for caution had passed, now was the time to act. Jimmie
raced to the top of the hill, and found it empty. He plunged down
it, vaulted a stone wall, forced his way through a tangle of
saplings, and held his breath to listen. Just beyond him, over a
jumble of rocks, a hidden stream was tripping and tumbling.
Joyfully, it laughed and gurgled. Jimmie turned hot. It sounded
as though from the darkness the spy mocked him. Jimmie shook his
fist at the enshrouding darkness. Above the tumult of the coming
storm and the tossing tree-tops, he raised his voice.
"You wait!" he shouted. "I'll get you yet! Next time, I'll bring
Next time, was the next morning. There had been a hawk hovering
over the chicken yard, and Jimmie used that fact to explain his
borrowing the family shotgun. He loaded it with buckshot, and, in
the pocket of his shirt buttoned his license to "hunt, pursue and
kill, to take with traps or other devices."
He remembered that Judge Van Vorst had warned him, before he
arrested more spies, to come to him for a warrant. But with an
impatient shake of the head Jimmie tossed the recollection from
him. After what he had seen he could not possibly be again
mistaken. He did not need a warrant. What he had seen was his
warrant--plus the shotgun.
As a "pathfinder" should, he planned to take up the trail where
he had lost it, but, before he reached Round Hill, he found a
warmer trail. Before him, stamped clearly in the road still damp
from the rain of the night before, two lines of little
arrow-heads pointed the way. They were so fresh that at each
twist in the road, lest the car should be just beyond him, Jimmie
slackened his steps. After half a mile the scent grew hot. The
tracks were deeper, the arrow-heads more clearly cut, and Jimmie
broke into a run. Then, the arrow-heads swung suddenly to the
right, and in a clearing at the edge of a wood, were lost. But
the tires had pressed deep into the grass, and just inside the
wood, he found the car. It was empty. Jimmie was drawn two ways.
Should he seek the spy on the nearest hilltop, or, until the
owner returned, wait by the car. Between lying in ambush and
action, Jimmie preferred action. But, he did not climb the hill
nearest the car; he climbed the hill that overlooked that hill.
Flat on the ground, hidden in the golden-rod he lay motionless.
Before him, for fifteen miles stretched hills and tiny valleys.
Six miles away to his right rose the stone steeple, and the red
roofs of Greenwich. Directly before him were no signs of
habitation, only green forests, green fields, gray stone walls,
and, where a road ran up-hill, a splash of white, that quivered
in the heat. The storm of the night before had washed the air.
Each leaf stood by itself. Nothing stirred; and in the glare of
the August sun every detail of the landscape was as distinct as
those in a colored photograph; and as still.
In his excitement the scout was trembling.
"If he moves," he sighed happily, "I've got him!"
Opposite, across a little valley was the hill at the base of
which he had found the car. The slope toward him was bare, but
the top was crowned with a thick wood; and along its crest, as
though establishing an ancient boundary, ran a stone wall,
moss-covered and wrapped in poison-ivy. In places, the branches
of the trees, reaching out to the sun, overhung the wall and hid
it in black shadows. Jimmie divided the hill into sectors. He
began at the right, and slowly followed the wall. With his eyes
he took it apart, stone by stone. Had a chipmunk raised his head,
Jimmie would have seen him. So, when from the stone wall, like
the reflection of the sun upon a window-pane, something flashed,
Jimmie knew he had found his spy. A pair of binoculars had
betrayed him. Jimmie now saw him clearly. He sat on the ground at
the top of the hill opposite, in the deep shadow of an oak, his
back against the stone wall. With the binoculars to his eyes he
had leaned too far forward, and upon the glass the sun had
flashed a warning.
Jimmie appreciated that his attack must be made from the rear.
Backward, like a crab he wriggled free of the golden-rod, and
hidden by the contour of the hill, raced down it and into the
woods on the hill opposite. When he came to within twenty feet of
the oak beneath which he had seen the stranger, he stood erect,
and as though avoiding a live wire, stepped on tip-toe to the
wall. The stranger still sat against it. The binoculars hung from
a cord around his neck. Across his knees was spread a map. He was
marking it with a pencil, and as he worked, he hummed a tune.
Jimmie knelt, and resting the gun on the top of the wall, covered
"Throw up your hands!" he commanded.
The stranger did not start. Except that he raised his eyes he
gave no sign that he had heard. His eyes stared across the little
sun-filled valley. They were half closed as though in study, as
though perplexed by some deep and intricate problem. They
appeared to see beyond the sun-filled valley some place of
greater moment, some place far distant.
Then the eyes smiled, and slowly, as though his neck were stiff,
but still smiling, the stranger turned his head. When he saw the
boy, his smile was swept away in waves of surprise, amazement,
and disbelief. These were followed instantly by an expression of
the most acute alarm. "Don't point that thing at me!" shouted the
stranger. "Is it loaded?" With his cheek pressed to the stock and
his eye squinted down the length of the brown barrel, Jimmie
nodded. The stranger flung up his open palms. They accented his
expression of amazed incredulity. He seemed to be exclaiming,
"Can such things be?"
"Get up!" commanded Jimmie.
With alacrity the stranger rose.
"Walk over there," ordered the scout. "Walk backward. Stop! Take
off those field-glasses and throw them to me." Without removing
his eyes from the gun the stranger lifted the binoculars from his
neck and tossed them to the stone wall. "See here!" he pleaded,
"if you'll only point that damned blunderbuss the other way, you
can have the glasses, and my watch, and clothes, and all my
money; only don't--"
Jimmie flushed crimson. "You can't bribe me," he growled. At
least, he tried to growl, but because his voice was changing, or
because he was excited the growl ended in a high squeak. With
mortification, Jimmie flushed a deeper crimson. But the stranger
was not amused. At Jimmie's words he seemed rather the more
"I'm not trying to bribe you," he protested. "If you don't want
anything, why are you holding me up?"
"I'm not," returned Jimmie, "I'm arresting you!"
The stranger laughed with relief. Again his eyes smiled. "Oh," he
cried, "I see! Have I been trespassing?"
With a glance Jimmie measured the distance between himself and
the stranger. Reassured, he lifted one leg after the other over
the wall. "If you try to rush me," he warned, "I'll shoot you
full of buckshot."
The stranger took a hasty step BACKWARD. "Don't worry about
that," he exclaimed. "I'll not rush you. Why am I arrested?"
Hugging the shotgun with his left arm, Jimmie stopped and lifted
the binoculars. He gave them a swift glance, slung them over his
shoulder, and again clutched his weapon. His expression was now
stern and menacing.
"The name on them" he accused, "is 'Weiss, Berlin.' Is that your
name?" The stranger smiled, but corrected himself, and replied
gravely, "That's the name of the firm that makes them."
Jimmie exclaimed in triumph. "Hah!" he cried, "made in Germany!"
The stranger shook his head.
"I don't understand," he said. "Where WOULD a Weiss glass be
made?" With polite insistence he repeated, "Would you mind
telling me why I am arrested, and who you might happen to be?"
Jimmie did not answer. Again he stooped and picked up the map,
and as he did so, for the first time the face of the stranger
showed that he was annoyed. Jimmie was not at home with maps.
They told him nothing. But the penciled notes on this one made
easy reading. At his first glance he saw, "Correct range, 1,800
yards"; "this stream not fordable"; "slope of hill 15 degrees
inaccessible for artillery." "Wire entanglements here"; "forage
for five squadrons."
Jimmie's eyes flashed. He shoved the map inside his shirt, and
with the gun motioned toward the base of the hill. "Keep forty
feet ahead of me," he commanded, "and walk to your car." The
stranger did not seem to hear him. He spoke with irritation.
"I suppose," he said, "I'll have to explain to you about that
"Not to me, you won't," declared his captor. "You're going to
drive straight to Judge Van Vorst's, and explain to HIM!"
The stranger tossed his arms even higher. "Thank God!" he
With his prisoner Jimmie encountered no further trouble. He made
a willing captive. And if in covering the five miles to Judge Van
Vorst's he exceeded the speed limit, the fact that from the rear
seat Jimmie held the shotgun against the base of his skull was an
They arrived in the nick of time. In his own car young Van Vorst
and a bag of golf clubs were just drawing away from the house.
Seeing the car climbing the steep driveway that for a half-mile
led from his lodge to his front door, and seeing Jimmie standing
in the tonneau brandishing a gun, the Judge hastily descended.
The sight of the spy hunter filled him with misgiving, but the
sight of him gave Jimmie sweet relief. Arresting German spies for
a small boy is no easy task. For Jimmie the strain was great. And
now that he knew he had successfully delivered him into the hands
of the law, Jimmie's heart rose with happiness. The added
presence of a butler of magnificent bearing and of an athletic
looking chauffeur increased his sense of security. Their presence
seemed to afford a feeling of security to the prisoner also. As
he brought the car to a halt, he breathed a sigh. It was a sigh
of deep relief.
Jimmie fell from the tonneau. In concealing his sense of triumph,
he was not entirety successful.
"I got him!" he cried. "I didn't make no mistake about THIS one!"
"What one?" demanded Van Vorst.
Jimmie pointed dramatically at his prisoner. With an anxious
expression the stranger was tenderly fingering the back of his
head. He seemed to wish to assure himself that it was still
"THAT one!" cried Jimmie. "He's a German spy!"
The patience of Judge Van Vorst fell from him. In his exclamation
was indignation, anger, reproach.
"Jimmie!" he cried.
Jimmie thrust into his hand the map. It was his "Exhibit A."
"Look what he's wrote," commanded the scout. "It's all military
words. And these are his glasses. I took 'em off him. They're
made in GERMANY! I been stalking him for a week. He's a spy!"
When Jimmie thrust the map before his face, Van Vorst had glanced
at it. Then he regarded it more closely. As he raised his eyes
they showed that he was puzzled.
But he greeted the prisoner politely.
"I'm extremely sorry you've been annoyed," he said. "I'm only
glad it's no worse. He might have shot you. He's mad over the
idea that every stranger he sees--"
The prisoner quickly interrupted.
"Please!" he begged, "Don't blame the boy. He behaved extremely
well. Might I speak with you--ALONE?" he asked.
Judge Van Vorst led the way across the terrace, and to the
smoking-room, that served also as his office, and closed the
door. The stranger walked directly to the mantelpiece and put his
finger on a gold cup.
"I saw your mare win that at Belmont Park," he said. "She must
have been a great loss to you?"
"She was," said Van Vorst. "The week before she broke her back, I
refused three thousand for her. Will you have a cigarette?"
The stranger waved aside the cigarettes.
"I brought you inside," he said, "because I didn't want your
servants to hear; and because I don't want to hurt that boy's
feelings. He's a fine boy; and he's a damned clever scout. I knew
he was following me and I threw him off twice, but to-day he
caught me fair. If I really had been a German spy, I couldn't
have got away from him. And I want him to think he has captured a
German spy. Because he deserves just as much credit as though he
had, and because it's best he shouldn't know whom he DID
Van Vorst pointed to the map. "My bet is," he said, "that you're
an officer of the State militia, taking notes for the fall
manoeuvres. Am I right?"
The stranger smiled in approval, but shook his head.
"You're warm," he said, "but it's more serious than manoeuvres.
It's the Real Thing." From his pocketbook he took a visiting card
and laid it on the table. "I'm 'Sherry' McCoy," he said, "Captain
of Artillery in the United States Army." He nodded to the hand
telephone on the table.
"You can call up Governor's Island and get General Wood or his
aide, Captain Dorey, on the phone. They sent me here. Ask THEM.
I'm not picking out gun sites for the Germans; I'm picking out
positions of defense for Americans when the Germans come!"
Van Vorst laughed derisively.
"My word!" he exclaimed. "You're as bad as Jimmie!"
Captain McCoy regarded him with disfavor.
"And you, sir," he retorted, "are as bad as ninety million other
Americans. You WON'T believe! When the Germans are shelling this
hill, when they're taking your hunters to pull their cook-wagons,
maybe, you'll believe THEN."
"Are you serious?" demanded Van Vorst. "And you an army officer?"
"That's why I am serious," returned McCoy. "WE know. But when we
try to prepare for what is coming, we must do it secretly--in
underhand ways, for fear the newspapers will get hold of it and
ridicule us, and accuse us of trying to drag the country into
war. That's why we have to prepare under cover. That's why I've
had to skulk around these hills like a chicken thief. And," he
added sharply, "that's why that boy must not know who I am. If he
does, the General Staff will get a calling down at Washington,
and I'll have my ears boxed."
Van Vorst moved to the door.
"He will never learn the truth from me," he said. "For I will
tell him you are to be shot at sunrise."
"Good!" laughed the Captain. "And tell me his name. If ever we
fight over Westchester County, I want that lad for my chief of
scouts. And give him this. Tell him to buy a new scout uniform.
Tell him it comes from you."
But no money could reconcile Jimmie to the sentence imposed upon
his captive. He received the news with a howl of anguish. "You
mustn't," he begged; "I never knowed you'd shoot him! I wouldn't
have caught him, if I'd knowed that. I couldn't sleep if I
thought he was going to be shot at sunrise." At the prospect of
unending nightmares Jimmie's voice shook with terror. "Make it
for twenty years," he begged. "Make it for ten," he coaxed, "but,
please, promise you won't shoot him."
When Van Vorst returned to Captain McCoy, he was smiling, and the
butler who followed, bearing a tray and tinkling glasses, was
trying not to smile.
"I gave Jimmie your ten dollars," said Van Vorst, "and made it
twenty, and he has gone home. You will be glad to hear that he
begged me to spare your life, and that your sentence has been
commuted to twenty years in a fortress. I drink to your good
"No!" protested Captain McCoy, "We will drink to Jimmie!"
When Captain McCoy had driven away, and his own car and the golf
clubs had again been brought to the steps, Judge Van Vorst once
more attempted to depart; but he was again delayed.
Other visitors were arriving.
Up the driveway a touring-car approached, and though it limped on
a flat tire, it approached at reckless speed. The two men in the
front seat were white with dust; their faces, masked by
automobile glasses, were indistinguishable. As though preparing
for an immediate exit, the car swung in a circle until its nose
pointed down the driveway up which it had just come. Raising his
silk mask the one beside the driver shouted at Judge Van Vorst.
His throat was parched, his voice was hoarse and hot with anger.
"A gray touring-car," he shouted. "It stopped here. We saw it
from that hill. Then the damn tire burst, and we lost our way.
Where did he go?"
"Who?" demanded Van Vorst, stiffly, "Captain McCoy?"
The man exploded with an oath. The driver with a shove of his
elbow, silenced him.
"Yes, Captain McCoy," assented the driver eagerly. "Which way did
"To New York," said Van Vorst.
The driver shrieked at his companion.
"Then, he's doubled back," he cried. "He's gone to New Haven." He
stooped and threw in the clutch. The car lurched forward.
A cold terror swept young Van Vorst.
"What do you want with him?" he called "Who are you?"
Over one shoulder the masked face glared at him. Above the roar
of the car the words of the driver were flung back. "We're Secret
Service from Washington," he shouted. "He's from their embassy.
He's a German spy!"
Leaping and throbbing at sixty miles an hour, the car vanished in
a curtain of white, whirling dust.