H. Irving Hancock.

Uncle Sam's Boys with Pershing's Troops Dick Prescott at Grips with the Boche online

. (page 4 of 12)
Online LibraryH. Irving HancockUncle Sam's Boys with Pershing's Troops Dick Prescott at Grips with the Boche → online text (page 4 of 12)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

"Private Mock, I believe I can answer that question for you!" broke
in Captain Dick Prescott, stepping out from behind his leafy screen.



"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

"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

"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!"



New barracks buildings continued to spring up at Camp Berry. Drafts
of men for a National Army division began to arrive, besides
a brigade of infantry, a regiment of field artillery and a
machine-gun battalion of regulars.

Brigadier-General Bates arrived to take command of the regulars,
while Major-general Timmins assumed command of the National Army
division and became commanding general of the camp as well.

New batches of recruits, constantly arriving for the regulars,
soon gave the Ninety-ninth an average of a hundred and eighty
men to the company, or forty-five men to each platoon. Drill
went on as nearly incessantly during daylight as the men could

"In my opinion it won't be very long before the Ninety-ninth goes
over and reports to General Pershing," Dick told his chum. "At
the rate our ranks are being filled up we'll soon have a full-strength

"But most of our men are still recruits," Holmes objected. The
regiment really isn't anywhere near fit for foreign service."

"It won't be so many weeks before we're ordered abroad," Dick
insisted. "Wait and see whether I'm right."

Wonderful indeed was the speed with which buildings were erected.
The record time for constructing a two-story building with an
office, supply room, mess-room and sleeping quarters for two hundred
and fifty men was ninety minutes!

Fast, too, was the work done by the Regular Army regiments, which
had this advantage over the National Army regiments, that most of
their officers were trained regulars and a large proportion of them
West Point graduates.

Of the sixteen men made ill by eating powdered glass not one died,
for the glass had been ground too fine to do the utmost mischief.
However, the camp was alarmed, and all food was kept under close
guard and was regularly examined with care before being served.

Soldiers bearing German names were in some instances suspected,
and unjustly. Officers tried to undo this harm by talking among
the men. Yet all wondered what would be the next outbreak of
spy work in camp.

Private Mock, sentenced to two weeks' arrest for being off the
reservation without leave, served his sentence moodily, usually
refusing to talk with his fellow-prisoners.

One Private Wilhelm was also serving a term in arrest at the bull-pen.
His name was held against him Wilhelm as a brand-new man in the
regiment, and one of the few with whom Mock would talk.

One morning the latter was overheard to say:

"I'm sick of this war already. I hope the Germans win. If I'm
sent over to France I'll watch my chance to desert and get over
to the Germans."

"Oh, ye will, will ye?" demanded Private Riley, another prisoner
in the bull-pen. "Ye dir-rty blackguard!"

Buff! The Irish soldier's fist caught Mock squarely on the jaw,
sending him squarely to earth, though not knocking him out. After
a moment Mock was on his feet again, quivering with rage. He
flew at Riley, who was a smaller man, hammering him hard. Other
soldier-prisoners interfered on behalf of Riley, whereupon Private
Wilhelm, a heavily built fellow, rushed to Mock's aid.

"A German and a German sympathizer!"

With that yell a dozen or so of time prisoners set upon the pair.
Some lively and perhaps nearly deadly punishment would have been
handed out, had not several men of the guard rushed in, thrusting
with their rifle butts and breaking up the unequal fight.

But Mock was reported for his utterance, and Wilhelm for his
sympathies. Both were brought up before Captain Greg Holmes, and
Dick was sent for to join in questioning the men, which was done
behind closed doors. At the end of the hearing Mock and Wilhelm
were returned to the guard-house looking much crestfallen.

"Did you hear what they said to me?" Mock was overheard to demand
of Wilhelm. "Said they'd have me tried for saying I'd desert,
and that I'd be likely to get several years in prison for talking
too much. Oh, I'm sure sick of being in this man's army!"

"Sure!" nodded Wilhelm, understandingly. "It's tough!"

"It'll be tougher, I warrant ye, if we hear ye two blackguards
using any more of your line of talk around here," Riley broke
in. "The guar-rd won't be forever stopping our pounding ye!"

After that Mock and Wilhelm were left severely alone by their
fellow-prisoners in the bull-pen. Most of these men were serving
merely sentences of a day to a week for minor infractions of

The next morning Private Riley managed to get word to Greg that
Private Brown, of the guard, had been talking with Mock at the
barbed wire of the pen enclosure.

"Private Brown is supposed to be an all right soldier, but he'll
bear watching," was Dick's comment when he heard the report.

That afternoon it was reported that both Mock and Wilhelm had
been talking with Private Brown at the barbed wire fence. Dick
smiled grimly when he heard it.

The next morning orders were read releasing Mock, Wilhelm, Riley
and some of the other soldier prisoners ahead of time that they
might not be deprived of too much instruction. The released ones
were cautioned to be extremely careful, in the future, not to
fall under the disciplinary ban.

"Sure, I can understand some of us getting out, but not Mock,"
declared Riley to a bunkie (chum). "Him an' his talk about deserting
to the enemy!"

In the meantime Dick had given an accurate description of the
carpenter who had tried to enlist Mock in some dangerous scheme
of revenge. The fellow had disappeared from among the gang of
carpenters, and that was all that was known. Secret Service men
had been put on the trail, but had failed to find the fellow.

"Now, maybe a soldier sometimes says more than he means," broke
in Sergeant Kelly, who had come up behind the pair on the nearly
deserted drill ground. "Soldiers are like other people in that

"But not Mock," Riley objected. "He's a bad egg."

"I don't say he isn't," Kelly rejoined. "What I'm advising you
is not to conclude that a man is worthless just because he talks.
For that matter, Riley, I believe that the men we have most to
fear are spies who manage to get in the Army, talk straight and
do their work well, and all the time they're plotting all kinds
of mischief. Like the fellow or the chaps who put that powdered
glass in the chow of F company not long ago."

"Here's hoping I live to see Mock hanged!" grumbled Private Riley,
as Sergeant Kelly moved away.

Kelly, who had served as sergeant with Dick in other regiments,
had followed him into the Ninety-ninth. Prescott rejoiced that
he had this excellent fellow with him, as capable first sergeants
are always looked upon in the light of prizes.

Yet, in a - -to him - -new man Greg Holmes had an almost equally
good top in Lund, a Swede who had put in ten years in the Army.

When Greg dropped into the company office that forenoon, Lund
handed him a list of men who had put in application for pass that
afternoon. It was to be a visitors' afternoon, and there would
be no drills.

"Nineteen, and all good conduct men, Sergeant Lund," commented
Greg, glancing over the list and reaching for a pencil with which
to O.K. the list.

"And two more put in application, but I didn't put their names
down, sir," Lund explained, as he stood at the side of the young
captain at the desk.

"Who were they?"

"Mock and Wilhelm."

"Have they behaved themselves since they got out of arrest?"

"Oh, yes, sir."

"Then we'll let them off this afternoon," proposed Holmes amiably,
as he wrote time two names down on the list. "Perhaps they'll turn
out better for a bit of considerate treatment."

Though Lund frowned as he received the list back in his own hand
he made no comment.

Immediately after the noon meal Mock and Wilhelm exhibited their
passes to the guard and walked briskly out of camp.

"Look at that now - -the pair of traitors!" muttered Private Riley,
as he spat vengefully on the ground. "Me, I knew better than
to ask for it, and me so lately out of the pen. But those bir-rds
with dir-rty feathers get their chance to go off the reservation
and plot more mischief."

Had Private Riley been able to follow the pair unseen he would
have been even angrier. Mock and Wilhelm, stepping briskly along
the road over which Dick had ridden that eventful evening, kept
on for some three miles, then turned abruptly off into the forest.

For another half mile they kept on, going further and further from
the road.

"Here's the spot," said Mock, after some hunting under the trees.
"It must be the place, for it has the nail driven into the tree

"Sure, it's the place all right," Wilhelm agreed.

Mock emitted a shrill whistle that would not, however, carry very
far. Instantly there came an answering whistle.

"And here we are!" spoke up the stoop-shouldered stranger, coming
out of a. jungle of bushes. "I'm glad to see that you're on
time. And to-day I hope you've more sand than you had that night."

"Forget it," said Mock shortly.

"You're ready now?"

"To do anything," Mock agreed.

"Sure! He's all right!" Private Wilhelm nodded. "I've attended
to that."

"Come here, Carl!" called the stoop-shouldered one, in a low voice.

From another clump of bushes came another man, bearded and
bespectacled. If there's anything in a face, Carl was unmistakably

"Carl will tell you what to do," said time stoop-shouldered one.

"You men are in two different companies?" asked the man behind

"I'm in B company," nodded Mock. "Wilhelm is in E company."

"Then you can take care of two companies of men," Carl went on.
"Do to-morrow morning what I'm going to tell you. See these?"

The bespectacled one held up two vials that he had taken from
a pocket.

"Each one of you takes one of these," he went on. "Hide them
to-night where you please. In the morning, when the men in your
barracks hang their bedding out of the windows and go down to
breakfast, stay behind. Uncork a vial, each of you, and sprinkle
the liquid in here on the bedding of at least half a dozen soldiers.
You understand? Then slip down to your breakfasts."

"What's in these vials?" asked Mock, taking the one offered him
and curiously inspecting the liquid in it.

"Germs!" said the bespectacled one. "Measles. Do as I tell you,
and in a few days measles will begin to run through the two companies
like wildfire. In a few days more it ought to be well through
the regiment. Tomorrow night slip out of camp and come here.
Under those bushes over there you'll find civilian clothing.
Understand? Yes? In the pockets of each suit you'll find the
money to pay for your work. Take off your uniforms and put on
the other clothes. Then go where you please, but be sure to keep
out of time Army after this, for American soldiers are going to
die fast! The money you'll find will take care of you. Yes?"

"Yes!" nodded Mock. "Sure!"

Then, suddenly, Mock turned and whistled.

"You two men will throw up your hands!" came in the sharp tones
of Captain Dick Prescott, as he, Sergeant Kelly and four privates
stepped into view.

"You sneak!" yelled the stoop-shouldered one, making a rush at
Mock and trying to seize the vial. But Mock dodged. In the same
instant the bespectacled German tried to snatch the other vial
away from Wilhelm, but that soldier, too, dodged and saved the

"On the ground is a good place for you!" growled Sergeant Kelly,
knocking the stoop-shouldered stranger flat. Then, before the
fellow could rise Kelly had snapped handcuffs his wrists.

Two of the soldiers seized the bespectacled German just as he
started to run. He, too, felt the clasp of steel around his wrists.
Though Kelly and the four privates were armed with automatic
pistols no weapon had been drawn.

"Twice you've played the sneak, you!" hissed the stoop-shouldered
one, glaring at Private Mock.

"Twice more I'll do it to help Uncle Sam," retorted Mock, with
a short laugh. "I owed it to you to see you caught!"

"But you're a German!" hissed the bespectacled one at Wilhelm.
"Why did you turn on us, who are also German?"

"My father was a German; he's an American now," said Wilhelm,
coolly. "Me, I've always been an American, and I'm one now, and
will be as long as I live."

"Let me have those vials," Dick ordered. "Sergeant, take these,
and mark them as soon as you get back to company office. Then
we'll turn them over to the medical department. Sergeant, march
your prisoners."

Heading toward the road Sergeant Kelly and his four soldiers led
the German captives away.

Captain Dick, with Mock and Wilhelm, followed, but did not attempt
to keep up with the sergeant's party,

When Kelly showed up in camp again he did not have his prisoners
with him. He had taken them elsewhere, and they were soon on
their way to an internment camp, where, like "good" Germans in
America, they would live until the close of the war, cut off from
all further chance to plot against Uncle Sam's soldiers.

Halting at a farm-house on the way, Dick telephoned to regimental
headquarters. Two minutes after his message had been received
Private Brown, white-faced and haggard, was placed under arrest.
Under grilling, he confessed what Secret Service men had already
learned - -that his name was really spelled B-r-a-u-n; that both
he and his father were German subjects, and that the young man
had enlisted for the sole purpose of playing the spy and the plotter
in the Army.

It had been Mock's talk of deserting in France that had caused Braun
to talk to Mock, who had been told by Captain Prescott to talk in
that vein while in the bull-pen. Braun had fallen into the trap.

As for Wilhelm - -which wasn't the young an's real name - -he was
the son of a German-born father, but a young man of known loyalty
to the United States. He wasn't a soldier, but a War Department
agent who had donned the uniform for a purpose, and had come to
Camp Berry with a draft of real soldiers.

And this was the plan that Dick had worked out following his pretended
arrest of Mock that night up the road. Mock, resolved to become
a good soldier again, had undergone his humiliation in the bull-pen,
and the scorn of his fellow-prisoners, in order to trap the
stoop-shouldered German, a pretended carpenter, but really August
Biederfeld, a German spy. The bespectacled one, Dr. Carl Ebers,
was another spy. The two had delivered their messages in camp
through Braun.

While the pair Ebers and Biederfeld were interned, Braun, as one
who had enlisted in the Army and had taken the oath of service,
was court-martialed on a charge of high treason, and shot for
his crimes. Before his death he confessed that it was he who
had shaken the powdered glass in the food of F company, the stuff
having been supplied by Dr. Ebers. It was Braun, also, who had
damaged the machine gun and worked havoc with infantry rifles,
he, too, had forged and placed the pretended Prescott note about
"Cooking Cartwright's goose."

"Wilhelm" soon vanished, undoubtedly to do other work as an alleged
German sympathizer elsewhere. As for Mock:

"Private James Mock, B company, having suffered humiliation and
scorn that he might better fulfil his oath and serve his country,
is hereby restored to his former rank of sergeant in B company,
and with full honor, he will be obeyed and respected accordingly."

So ran the official order published to the regiment.

The liquid in the two vials was found to be swarming with measles
germs that would have started a veritable epidemic at Camp Berry.

Captain Dick Prescott's quick thinking and steady action had resulted
in the capture of the German spies who were seeking to destroy
the Ninety-ninth.

No quiet days, however, were in store for the regiment.



"No other business, Sergeant?" asked Dick, one October morning,
as he looked up from the desk in company office at his "top."

"Among the nineteen National Army men drafted into this regiment,
sir, are three conscientious objectors who ask to be transferred
to some non-fighting branch of the service."

"Send for them," ordered Dick briefly, a frown settling on his brow.

Privates Ellis, Rindle and Pitson speedily reported in the office,
saluting, then standing at attention.

"You men are all conscientious objectors?" Prescott asked coldly.

"Yes, sir," said the three together.

"You all have conscientious objections to being hurt?" Prescott

1 2 4 6 7 8 9 10 11 12

Online LibraryH. Irving HancockUncle Sam's Boys with Pershing's Troops Dick Prescott at Grips with the Boche → online text (page 4 of 12)