A CANADIAN LOCHINVAR
ADAM HAROLD BROWN
A Rollicking Story of Brigands in Mexico, a Beautiful Girl, and a Dare-devil Canadian—In the Days Just Before the United States Declared War
BREAKFAST over, Cayley found a native guide, decked out like a comic opera brigand, under whose escort Jimmie McPherson rode off for the Rio del Rey. Jimmie was to determine the electric power potentialities of a water-fall on the stream and report to his employers in Canada.
The Canadian did not like Mexico and its sleepy people, but ahead somewhere was the call of adventure. That made up for a lot of other deficiencies.
It was early in the spring of 1917, and one of the prime reasons for Jimmie being just where he was at that date was a piece of German shrapnel that had embedded itself in him one year before and sent him home for repairs. When he got out of hospital, discharged from further army service, the company with whom he was identified before enlisting wanted him to take up this Mexican investigation at once. One thing helped Jimmie to decide—a friend of his from Ontario, a chap named Jud Thompson, had a ranch near the very river he was to look over. He wired Thompson to expect him. Cayley, an English representative for the firm in Mexico, had looked after outfitting him for the expedition.
In the western suburb of Citand, a group of tatterdemalion soldiery lounged around an ugly guard-house. Two shabby sentries, with strained furtive faces, stood nervously with fixed bayonets. An officer advancing, demanded to see the traveller’s passport. Fortunately this had been viséd an hour before—thanks to Cayley’s foresight—and it was pronounced correct.
“I see you are a Canadian, señor,” the officer smiled. “I once knew a man from your country. A brave man, señor. He has gone to Europe! To the war.”
The young Captain of the guard seemed friendly, but
expressed surprise and a slight anxiety on learning Jimmie’s destination. “Beware of the Alfaro diablos,” he warned. “The insurgente, señor.—But you Canadians—• you fear nothing.”
Where the trail was sufficiently wide to ride abreast the Canadian urged his horse alongside the guide’s. Both riders knew enough 'of the other’s language to at least make themselves understood.
“Those soldiers looked badly frightened,” remarked Jimmie pleasantly.
“Si señor,” answered the guide. “They are not brave men! They do not wish to fight.”
“But what is the reason for this alarm!” was the inquiry.
“It is the revolution, señor. The guerrilla in el Sirera.”
“Snappy little country,” commented Jimmie. “Tell me about these desperadoes.”
“I speak only from hearsay, señor.” The speaker deftly rolled a cigarette. “There are many very fierce men in the army of the revolution. When they capture a town, señor, they at once take all the money—every centavo." He shrugged his shoulders. “General Alfaro says it iá to buy more rifles and cartridges. But who knows what will happen.”
AT a village which boasted a ramshackle inn they procured a fairly satisfying midday meal. After a while the road became more rocky and narrow. The sun’s glare, deflecting hotly from the over-hued landscape, seemed to Jimmie like a confused mass of fallen star-shells. “No color scheme like this in Canada,” he told himself glancing around. “Artistic, maybe—but it lacks the punch.”
He could distinguish a herd of steers grazing on a distant rise and a few goats at one side, but in the way of humans the land appeared uninhabited. The tortuous path wound among stubby foothills, like a tangled ribbon cast down by some unkind fate.
“Pedro,” the young Canadian addressed his guide, “When do we reach the Falls of your royal river?” ,
“Have patience, señor,” was the reply, “it is not far. Hark!”
Jimmie listened. The rumble of a waterfall was growing perceptibly louder. It must be pretty near.
Suddenly turning a sharp angle of rock there spread before them the little Falls of the Rio del Rey. It was rather an impressive sight, the man from Canada admitted—the swirling dashing water, the exotic vegetation on either oan t, and the ever-flowing stream below.
“Certainty some little falls,” the investigator murmured. “Nothing on Niagara or Shawinigan of course, but it looks like a good bit of untouched power. The river might be navigable too. I wonder if it ever drops in depth?”
He put a few questions to the guide. That worthy having dismounted in the shade of a large tree, calmly proceeded to roll a cigarette. The sight of the falls left him unimpressed. If the good Dios saw fitto cast water over a clif
what business was it of his? This young young gringo gringo was was unundoubtedly mad. Who but a loco would muld bother bother about about a a rio’s depth? However, he informed Jimmie immie that that the the stream stream remained normal, save after heavy rains, rains, when when “it “it inincreased itself.”
“Won’t need any reservoir or dam iam then.” then.” Jimmie, Jimmie, dismounting, himself, established his his madness madness in in the the courier’s eyes by making a series of pot-hooks pot-hooks in in a a leather leather note-book. “Could remember all this,” iis,” the the writer writer mutmuttered, “but might as well put it down. iwn. The The company’ll company’ll make no mistake in closing this deal. . A A neat neat little little investinvestment.” HAVING absorbed all the details of of the the little little cataract’s cataract’s potentialities, Jimmie bethought himself himself of of looking looking up up his friend, Jud Thompson, whose ranch ;ch he he knew knew lay lay somesomewhere in this vicinity. After considerable ierable pumping, pumping, the the guide vouchsafed the information that hat “El “El Señor Señor TomeTomeson’s rancho lay over yonder.” The term “over yonder” proved to ) be be decidedly decidedly elastic, elastic. They covered a good many miles before re reaching reaching the the ranchranchhouse, a verandahed building backed 1 by by several several fair-sized fair-sized Although the visit was somewhat unexpected—Jimmie’s inexpected—Jimmie’s wire had been rather indefinite—Jud d Thompson Thompson was was dedelighted to see his friend. “You always turn up, Jimmie,” was ras his his greeting, greeting, “like “like a bad penny. Even the efficient Hun n couldn’t couldn’t finish finish you. you. Anyway, come inside and have something ething to to eat. eat. Sorry Sorry I haven’t any plum-and-apple jam, but but I I guess guess you you can can make out.” Afterwards, seated the cool verandah, randah, they they smoked smoked
on cigars. The crimson sun sank behind id the the frowning frowning CorCordilleras; the approach of the quick, tropical opical night night was was very very calm and peace-inspiring. "You’ve given me the Canada news,” ” said said Thompson Thompson at at length; “but what’s the latest from Washington? Washington? Ever Ever since they broke off diplomatic relations, ions, the the world’s world’s had had its eye on the White House. What do you you think—will think—will they they fight?” “If the U boats force them to it,” ,” Jimmie Jimmie answered, answered, “they certainly will come in with a punch. punch. It’s It’s what what the the Germans have been asking for.” “I came down with a chap named Cayley,” Cayley,” Jimmie Jimmie reremarked after a pause. “He seemed to to think think there there was was a a war in this blessed land. A war—get that! ;hat! Is Is it it bunk?” bunk?” “Not exactly,” was the thoughtful 1 reply. reply. “Ever “Ever since since Madero put up a stiff fight to oust old Id Diaz, Diaz, there’s there’s been been some nasty ‘skirmishing’ going on. First First it it was was Orozco, Orozco, then Huerta kieked out Madero, then n Carranza Carranza started started a a revolution to kick him out. Now that ;hat he’s he’s ‘in’ ‘in’ there’s there's generally a fire
eating ‘General’ to start something.”
“Who’s this General Alfaro?” asked Jimmie. “I was warned not to associate with
“He’s some mysterious joker in the mountains,”
Jud said. “May be the wilyVilla himself for all I know.
But,” he added “I hardly think such ‘liveliness’ will strike this' precinct.”
“Anyway we’re both Britishers,” said Jimmie watching the smoke curl upward. “Isn’t that as good¡as a royal flush down here?”
‘‘Not a 1 -ways,” murmured his host;
“they sometimes ‘forget themselves’.”
‘‘But we’re non-combatants — and the German army isn’t in. control.”
“Don’t count on that.
and child were non-combatants, but they were lost on the Lusitania!. . . .Cayley looks at his wife’s photo every night; you may have noticed.”
AS JIMMIE joined his friend on the verandah after breakfast next morning, the latter pointed to a low ridge about 500 feet away, where a mounted Mexican rode slowly backwards and forwards.
“I can’t make out what that fellow’s up to. He’s not one of my men. He’s not travelling or he’d come to the back door and ask for food. Looks as if he was on sentry-go—• keeping an eye on us.”
Jimmie squinted at the lone figure in the brazen sunlight. “Yes, I wonder, what in blazes he’s up to?”
Suddenly, the muchacho who had been sent for the horses, dashed round the corner of the house. “Fly, senors!” shrilled the lad. “They are upon us. The diablos! They creep in by the back. Make speed! Away!”
The words had scarcely died on his lips when a villainouslooking Mexican on a tall black horse swept round the house-corner. He spat out a volley of crisp curses as the muchacho fled from under the horse’s feet.
“What the dev—” began Jud; his hand dropped to his
Before he could draw his revolver, the horseman threw up his rifle and fired point blank. The ranchman crumpled to the verandah floor.
“The dirty greaser got me,” he gasped. “I’m winged in the leg.”
Jimmie bent over him. A score of fierce cut-throats, armed to the teeth, had swarmed to the front.
“You better get inside, Jimmie,” said the wounded man. “They may fill you full of holes any minute. Don’t mind
Jimmie darted into the house. In a moment he reappeared with a flask of brandy, which he pressed to his friend’s lips.
ANOTHER figure, a red-faced, stockily-built man, mounted on a piebald horse, came on the scene. His dirty soiled uniform looked like a discarded costume in a second-hand shop. His fiery red hair, when he removed his sombrero, outraged the landscape. His face wore a grin of audacious dare-deviltry. Two pistols were stuck in his belt, and a heavy navy cutlass swung at his side.
“Surrender, me bowld bhoys,” he shouted in a rasping brogue. “I have yez at me mercy.” Dismounting, he stamped up the verandah steps. “This’ll tache ye to resist armed authoritay,” he continued. “Sthoppin’ a man in the pursuit av his duty, ye are.”
“Who let you loose, anyway?” said Jimmie boldly.
“Phwat! D’ye insult me to me face? If I didn’t have more important business on hand I’d call ye to account. As it is—gimme a sup o’ that liquor.” Seizing the flask he emptied a long draught.
“Who the devil are you anyway?” Jimmie demanded angrily.
“Me?” said the other pompously. “I am Colonel O’Brien, of the Army of Liberty. These bhoys,” he pointed over his shoulder, “are part av me regiment. This felly,” he nodded at the wounded Thompson, “was shot by me liftenent in silf-defince. ’Tis the fortune av war-r. I’ll now proceed wid me business.”
“What’re you going to do?” snapped Jimmie.
“Sure, we’ll have a little talk later, me lad. At present ’tis work.”
He shouted orders in Spanish and two of his men running up, tied Jimmie’s hands behind his back. Before he realized it they dragged him away out of earshot. He saw the Irish colonel direct the ranchman to be carried inside the house. Then following, he closed the door.
“No loot there,” thought Jimmie; “nothing but old Jud’s safe. Gosh!” he ejaculated hearing a muffled explosion from the hacienda. “What’s up now?”
In a few minutes his captor appeared, lugging a bulging grip-sack. After giving some orders to his lieutenant on the black horse, he mounted and rode over to Jimmie.
“How is he?” the prisoner asked. “My friend—the man you shot?”
“The felly’s all right,” was the cool reply, bit of a flesh wound. I’m not burning the house account o’ me saft heart. As soon as me bhoys lassoo the farm-hands, and make ’em volunteer for the army, we’ll clare out.”
“But if you take away all the men,” cried Jimmie, “how about Thompson?”
“Oh, there’s some owld women looking after him, and I told a muchacho to walk to Citaud. He’ll bring help by night-time.” . .
“What was the noise inside the house?” inquired the man on foot.
“I just blew open the felly’s safe,” grinned the horseman. “But he didn’t have much, 300 Mexican dollars I will hand to me General, like an honest soldier, a hunder American gold paces I will keep for meself.” He winked roguishly.
ALTHOUGH Jimmie’s blood boiled, he thought it best to temporize.
“A clever soldier like you,” his tone was mildly sarcastic “could squeeze his back pay from a ten-inch shell.
“’Tis the fortune av war-r,” the Irishman chuckled. “But. me bhoy, ye’ll think better av me when ye see von
“And who’s von Ritzer?” inquired ^ Jimmie, noticing a small bunch of livestock driven from the corral by several wildlooking cow-
“Sure he’s the jefe politico at the town where I hang out. A German civilian he is, appointed by me General’s revolution ary junta, to look after the civil business but he’s always¿interfarin’ wid military affairs, bad cess to him.” Apparently no love was lost between the two contemporaries. “Yet he’s a clever enough divil wid the wireless,” went on the Colonel. “And he told me if I took any Americans he’d like to have a little talk wid ’em—but I’ll not let him try any Continued on page 30
Continual from paje 13
monkey trick? wid you, me lad. We’ll bimoving.” lie added, as half a dozen soldiers f.-|| in behind Jimmie. "Pronto is tl»werd. Like a good officer, I myself'll bring up the rear.”
It was a terrible march that, under the blazing sun. Whenever Jimmie flagged, a bayonet -rusty but certainly not blunt.pricked him forward.
After marching almost eight hours in a north-west direction they at length reached a small town evidently the guerillo headquarters and here Jimmie was thrust into a filthy cell, among ten miserable "Constitutionalists”. During the afternoon a bucket of water and some black bread was pushed through the single window. But the latest prisoner had no appetite.
Nearing sundown he was summoned before O'Brien in the latter’s “quarters”. On a table stood a bottle of whiskey, a plate of beans, and a heap of tortillas.
“I wouldn’t ’ve kep’ ye so long in there,” the Colonel apologized, “but I had to kape an eye on me pickets. Ye see we’re so near the American line. ’Tis wan good thing though; if anything happened I’d be over the border mesilf in six hours. But von Rilzer’ll be here in a few minutes. I’ll give ye a bit of advice, Mike my lad, when he asks ye to jine us, don’t give him any funny talk. He’s a devil when anything Tiles him. Ye're likely hungry, so just sit down an’ fade yer face. Mesilf I’ll take a sup o’ liquor.”
Draining a glass with relish he winked at his prisoner. “From the way ye’re ating thim beans, ’tis hungry ye look, me lad. Sorry I am for kaping ye in the ealayboose so long—but ’tis war-r, as von Ritzer do be always saying. I hear his voice outside now; he’ll probably be pumping all the news out av me liftinent. I’ll just step out an’ prévint him laming too much. Think over what I’ve been telling ye.”
WHEN alone Jimmie’s thoughts worked rapidly. What would be the next move? Evidently the German had some plan on foot. It might be worth while finding out. Therefore, why not become a soldier of fortune like O’Brien? It would bind him to nothing. With the American border so near and a good horse—
“A night in that sweet calaboose,” he thought, “would about finish me.” To join the band of outlaws seemed the only way. If he' refused, of course, he could expect no mercy. Not from the jefe politico anyway. And the young Canadian had a strong desire to live a little longer.
At that moment the door bursting open, O’Brien reappeared, followed by another figure.
“This must be von Ritzer,” thought Jimmie glancing up from his plate of beans. The new arrival stood stiffly regarding him through pale piglike eyes, which seemed a trifle too close together. The candlelight left his other features in shadow, but his face had an air of repellent harshness. His whole personality possessed a domineering trucu-
“Your name, I hear is Mick Ferson?" Jimmie nodded.
“You are an American?”
“Sure,” replied the young man. “I was born and bred on the continent of America.”
“In what State and in what city?” “Do you know Detroit, Michigan?” countered the young Canadian. “It’s a fine city! We Northerners, you know, are mighty proud of our native towns.” “So,” agreed the pale-eyed man. “Then you are a neutral American.” He came to the point with efficient abruptness. “Some men like you have a capacity to handle these Mexican swine and are needed. You will therefore take service in our forces; the army of Liberty. But have no fear—we intend not to march on Washington, the home of the accursed schoolmaster.”
“Is this an offer,” asked Jimmie calmly, “or a command?”
“It is a fair proposition.” The German’s pale eyes gleamed like points of steel. “If you refuse, at sunrise I will have you shot.”
“Well, in that case,” was the decision, “I guess it’s The Army of Liberty for
“So, I see you are sensible. Yet remember, attempt to escape and I will show no mercy. When tne General returns in a day or so you will sign your full name and swear allegiance to our Army; small though it is, it keeps the hands full of perfidious Uncle Sam, while Grosse Deutschland vanquishes the hated Allies!” His heels clicked in salute. “Now I will leave you in the Colonel’s care. A small legal matter bids me return. Later you will have the honor of meeting a nobleman of this county, a wealthy landowner, who lives in a mansion at the town’s edge. He recognises that our army alone can save his lands from the Tyrant government at Mexico City. Also, you may be polite to his handsome daughter. But remember look not twice at her; she belongs to me! We German soldiers,” he added “must enjoy ourselves.”
The young Canadian ardently longed to kick von Ritzer—kick him painfully. But he forced himself to use diplomacy. “Gee,” he said, “You Germans think of everything.”
“Yes; our kult'ur is very efficient,” barked the harsh-faced man, as he went through the door.
EVIDENTLY this was one of von Ritzer’s taciturn evenings.' He seemed to have something on his mind. Once his sharp voice questioned the Irishman: “Do you know if those messages have been relayed from the Georgian mountains yet?” “Í do not.” O’Brien winked in Jimmie’s direction. “Prob’bly that felly at the White House do be writing another note.” The man addressed glanced sideways at the young Canadian, who considered it best to maintain a thoughtful silence. But what, he wondered, what was the German’s game?
Arriving at the comfortable, stonewalled residencia, the temporary Major was courteously received by Don Belisario de la Valle. He was a tall, thin upholder of the old regime, making a last and hopeless bid against the rising tide of an illiterate proletariat.
Jimmie’s eyes were fixed on the girl who at that moment entered the room. She was wonderful in her black dress; slender and graceful; soft-cheeked and dark-haired, altogether adorable. To Jimmie it seemed marvellous that this .wretched war-ridden corner of the earth could contain such a lovely young woman. But for the fresh red rose in her hair and her collar of rare lace, she was costumed like any wellpoised Canadian girl.
Meeting her eyes—sometimes they seemed dark as mystery, again bright as stars— the young man felt his late misfortunes were being well recompensed.
The old hidalgo introduced them with true Spanish punctilio. The new “volunteer” only remembered the words, “My daughter, Donna Gracia.” It sounded like a refreshing draught after a weary day. Hearing himself presented as “Major Don Jimez Mick Ferson,” he hoped his low bow was the conventional thing. But another wave of delight swept through him as Donna Gracia held out her hand, like a girl from his own home-land. Fortunately von Ritzer’s hard eyes were elsewhere.
Snatching a note from a servant, von Ritzer read it eagerly.
“Gott,” he gulped. “See here, O’Brien— Karl tells me the relays are coming in very slowly. He desires my assistance. If we only had a dynamo wherewith to send—I go, but soon I will return.”
Showing a crude disregard for his host the German strode from the room and could be heard ascending the stairs.
To Jimmie’s delighted surprise, the girl spoke English. Her voice had a deliciously foreign touch.
MEANWHILE the Irishman, seated at the table poured himself a stiff “sup” of liquor.Then, while the old Don expounded some pet theories on the new land policy, Donna Gracia entertained the younger guest. Educated at a New England college, she longed, oh! how she longed, again to visit the North! She frankly hated this deadly place, these nasty unwashed revolutionaries, this petty warfare.
Only once did she mention the German, then with a slight shudder.
“I detest that man,” she confessed, lowering her voice. “He is ver’ bad. You know. Don Jimmie, he has a wireless in the
I tower of our house, and always one of his I men is there. But my mother was an English lady, ’—her head tilted proudly,—
I “so I am not afraid.”
An hour later von Ritzer reappeared. He looked worried, annoyed, almost pale.
“I am sorry, Don Belisario,” he said in careful Spanish, “that we must tear ourselves away. Yet a just-eome message makes it necessary for me to reach an understanding with the Colonel. Still tomorrow we will again enjoy your hospitality.” His leer at the girl made the Canadian clench his itching fists. The ancient aristocrat bade his guests a politelyphrased farewell.
Back In the stuffy hut Jimmie, sitting on his cot, stared at the flickering candle. It made him shudder to think of that Hun looking at the girl the way he did. “After breaking up the evening too,” he thought. “I wonder what dirty work hejs trying to put over O’Brien? Well, if it’s anything to hurt the little girl, they better count on Major Mick Ferson!”
Some time later the Irishman entered and blowing out the candle, stretched himself on his mattress.
“Pleasant dreams, my Colonel,” came from his tactful subordinate. (
"’Tis not very pleasant they’ll be,” O’Brien grunted. “Neither will von Ritzer’s at his Palley de Justice after me saying I’ll not do it. He’s a devil, that man.”
“I quite agree with you,” said Jimmie. “But what—”
“In the morning I’ll tell ye, me lad. At prisint, ’tis slape.”
DURING the next day the quasimilitarism of the little town merely amused the man who had been in the trenches, while O’Brien’s attempted discipline struck him as rather humorous. Yet the callous brutality of the German political chief—especially when a wretched citizen was dragged to the plaza, and publicly flogged till the very whips ran red—aroused the Canadian’s anger. “Will you stand for this hellishness?” he demanded of the Irish-American.
‘Tf I interfered,” was the gruff reply, "the German wud curse me black in the face! I hear the felly can’t pay a court fine—so the divil’s taking it out of his hide. Now if ’twas a military case—I’d, soon stop it, bedad.”
Dinner over—the everlasting tortillas, beans, and some potted meat—O’Brien yawned across the table: “When I was over at the Palley drawing out thim stores, the jefe let on he won’t be interrupted wid his fiancy this evening. Me? I fancy the old Don’s liquor. Come too if ye like.”
The other mumbled that he might as well. And thereupon borrowed the Colonel’s razor—much to that worthy’s surprise.
A few hours later he again was in the thrilling presence of Donna Gracia. Perhaps the German’s suspicious nature imagined how the land lay—at all events he seemed determined to prevent any tete-a-tete.
Suddenly they heard a horseman clatter up to the door. Next minute the Mexican butler announced: “A messenger rides hastily for Señor el jefe politico.” Adding "Also for el Colonel.”
Muttering a German oath the paleeyed man hurried through the hall.
“It may be me Gineral,” was O’Brien’s surmise. “An’ if so be, the jefe will have his own swate will. I’ll just step out meself.” As he left the room their host, who was plainly consumed with curiosity, turned to his daughter. “If that is el General,” he ouavered, “I must go to pay my respects. He will demand it. Pardon, but I will return immediately.” ,
They could hear the horseman deliver his message in short gasps. Evidently he had ridden hastily. Von Ritzer’s curt interruptions, mingled with the Irishman’s brogue rasped the evening air. In the silent room the girl was the first to speak. “Oh, Don Jimmie,” she whispered, “there is something important I want you to do for me. Can I trust you?” Her appealing eyes met his.
“Just say it,” was his quick reply, “and it’s as good as done.”
“It is a letter I want you to post— to my college chum—her father is a great Honorable at Washington. He can rescue me. You can’t realize what a terrible life I lead. But I can stand it no longer.”
“Though how to give you the letter,” she pondered.
Then she thought of a way. There was a small door in the garden-wall—on the northern side. The girl had the key.
Would Don Jimmie meet her there at 11?
His earnest answer was husky.
“Count on me, Donna Graeia. Even if I have to murder a few Huns.”
“I knew I could trust you. Hush!”
The three men returned at that moment, the character of each showing clearly. The nervous hidalgo listened abstractedly to von Ritzer’s steely voice; but the Irishman, entering with a jaunty air, winked, first at Donna Gracia, then at Jimmie.
“CURE ye must be saying‘au-re-vor,’ ” 'J he grinned. "Me Gineral’s stopping at a hacienda two or three miles out; he sent the messenger felly to put us wise. He’ll ride in to-night if he feels like it, or maybe early in the morning. That’s why we got to get back t’ me quarters—be all ready when he comes. See, von Ritzer’s saying ‘Good-night’ to the old Don; he doesn’t want to go, but—you don’t want to go either, me young blade!”
He winked again at the girl like a complacent and good-natured uncle.
Before the so-called Palais de Justice, the German faced the others squarely.
“You wonder, O’Brien, why I did not speak.” His voice retained its sharpness, though Jimmie noticed his worried eyes, “but I have been thinking. I have decided I will ride out to meet the general, even if I to the hacienda must go. He shall return with me, and then you will do my will, is it not?”
“If so be ’tis me orders,” was the answer. “But what’s your hurry anyway?”
“It is important that we act at once— before the cursed schoolmaster can go too far. No messages have been relayed since last night; it is queer. I fear—Therefore we must move at once. See you, Major Ferson.” He whirled on that young man like on a Prussian feldwebel, “I have seen you look with softness on the daughter of Don Belisario. You are forbidden to look so at her! She is my property, you will understand!”
Without waiting for a reply he jerked himself through the door.
Watching the silvered light filter through the broken shutters Jimmie mentally rehearsed the next act. He had decided to escape that night. With a good horse, such as he knew his to be, he could make the American border by morning. He would thus frustrate the German’s plans! That part seemed simple enough.
But another deeper problem was on his mind. At last he definitely solved it— or thought he had. “I’ll do it,” he inwardly determined. “Poor little girl! She deserves a chance of freedom, if anyone does. When I go to get the letter, I’ll put the question to her straight. If I only had the nerve to tell her how I—. Anyway,” he smiled, “once aboard the lugger, or across the border—”
WHEN the Irishman’s snores resounded, Jimmie, rising softly, tiptoed from the room. Luckily the main entrance to the stable did not face the house; it opened on a short, muddy lane running to the front street. The young man crossed the dirty courtyard, and as he entered the side-door Jose started to his feet. A lighted lantern threw fitful shadows around.
“It’s all right,” Jimmie whispered, in cautious Spanish. “Special orders from el Colonel. He is going to meet el Generali You’re to saddle both our horses and lead them out onto this by-lane. Savvy?”
THROUGH the deserted streets, Jimmie led his two fairly docile charges. The moonlight sifted down like waves of quicksilver. A bon-fire in the plaza, where a group of soldiers had congregated earlier, had now died down to isolated live sparks which glowed like the red eyes of demons from the smoldering heap.
He was soon at the door in the garden wall—having noted it before—but the silent parapet spikes appeared cold, forlorn. “She isn’t coming after all,” he felt, keenly disappointed. Yet after waiting for nearly ten minutes, his patience was rewarded. A faint swish of skirts, the lock rasped, the wooden panel swung ajar, and Donna Gracia peered out. In her lace mantilla her girlish presence was very appealing. A wave of emotion surged through Jimmie’s heart. He took a step forw’ard eagerly. However, “I thought you were never coming,” was all he said.
“Why, I said I would come, Don ' Jimmie,” was the girl’s gentle answer. “So I did. Here is the letter to my dear Agnes—she will get her father to rescue me surely.”
She held out a square white envelope,
¡mil Iiiiirnlitaking it, glanced at the* inscri(.linn. !!i in,.ii that M-natorial adeln*.'. ' mi acknowle dged abstract-
edly. lb-n il the letter in his pocket.
“Look ; ere, Donna Gracia,” his voice was .-low and quavered. “There’s someth ng I want to say to you something I've got to say. When 1 first heard of you 1 felt sorry for a girl being in such a place, but when 1 raw you it made me mad to think of that Hun -All day I’ve been nearly wild. 1 kno« I have no right to tell you - now. Hut won’t you let rne help you.” “It is very wonderful to hear you say, Don Jimmie, fur I it may seem funny for me—-a girl to tell you —but you are the most splendid man I have ever met.”
The moonlight glinted on a strand of her dark hair. It arched on the smooth curve of her neck. The young man took a step forward. He had a wild desire to disarrange that lace mantilla.
Then he jerked himself together. “If— if you’ll let me,” he said aloud, “I’ll get you out of this. Will you trust me?”
“Can you really save me, Don Jimmie?”
. “Sure I can. See, I’ve brought an extra horse on purpose—a quiet beggar too. We can make one of those border towns in five hours—Douglas I think it is—and
“But my things are not packed. I have
no clothes ready!”
“That’s easy,” was the confident response. “I’ll telegraph your friends in Washington, and they’ll—will you—will you come?”
The girl leaning forward placed both her hands on Jimmie’s shoulders.
“Yes,” and her face was very close to his, “I will go with you.”
’ I 'HEIR horses flew along. No sentry loomed up to bar their path in fact the only picket, Jimmie knew, lay in a farm house far to the right. Besides they were probably soundly snoring.
“You certainly know how to stick on that saddle,” was his complimentary comment to the girl. He frankly admired her gallant bearing, the sturdy poise of her slim shoulder.
“But I have always loved to ride,” she said; “since I was a little girl. But tell me, Don Jimmie,. what do you intend to do now?”
“The main thing is to get across the border. As far as I know the town of Douglas is our first stop.
“And then, Don Jimmie?”
“First I’ll see you settled at a hotel then I’ll wire to your friends in Washington. After you are thoroughly rested we’ll —we’ll have a little talk.”
“About what shall you talk, Don Jimmie?” Her voice was very soft.
He did not at once reply. “Can’t decide till we cross the border. Look here, Donna Gracia, the night’s kind o’ chilly; you better put this overcoat around you. We could rest a bit, too, if you liked, as we’re not pursued.”
“No, I am not tired. I wish only to cross the border—where you can decide.” Sometimes trotting, sometimes cantering, the star-crusted night slipped by, and at last the darkness gave reluctant place to the first glow of dawn.
“That looks like a town,” the ex-soldier of fortune stared into the murky distance. “Tents too. I wonder—Well according to my calculations the line of the screaming eagle should be about a hundred yards further.”
“Halt!” the sharp command cut the quiet air. The man levelled his carbine. “Who goes there?”
The sentry repeated his challenge, this time impatiently. Funny he spoke in English. Maybe one of the German’s soldiers of fortune. But the fellow might be open to reason—a little—
“Friend,” Jimmie replied, hoping against hope. “You see I was going—” But by now the riders from the left had reached the road. The leader interrupted, calmly impersonal. “What’s the greaser want, Smith?” he called in crisp tones. “Doesn’t he know this is American territory?”
Jimmie ejaculated, “Good Lord!” Then wheeling to the girl, “It’s all right,” he cried, “this is a Star-Spangled .patrol. We‘ve crossed the border at last!” “Oh, Don Jimmie, how happy T am,” But her delighted response broke off.
“Great Scott!” exclaimed the owner of the crisp tones—“I-know that man’s voice. 'Good glory, is it you, McPherson? What the mischief are you doing down here?”
Gasping again Jimmie slowly saw light. “When 1 saw you last in West Point I didn’t expect—Say, I’m anxious to talk with your O.C., so won’t you kindly lower the bars.”
“Well, I’ll be hanged!” the American lieutenant stared from one to the other. “I know this party, Smith,”—to the trooper. “But you must tell me what you’re trying to do, kind o’ strict at our Camp. Isn’t this a—”
“I’ll give you the story of my life as we ride in,” was the reply. “First I want to introduce you to the pluckiest little girl between here and Baffin’s Bay!”
The young cavalryman declared himself delighted to meet Donna Gracia; and as they rode through the pale morning light Jimmie briefly explained his present position.
A T THE END his hearer gave a low ^ whistle. “Exciting, I should say sol You’re a regular William S. Hart of the tropics. Our Colonel will be mighty pleased to see you. Say McPherson, I’m inclined to envy you.” He glanced at the girl, who still sat bravely erect, though she plainly looked worn out. “Our Camp is only pitched around a small border town,” went on the lieutenant, “so there’re no hotels there. But some of the staff live in houses, and our adjutant’s wife is a very fine woman I’m sure she’d be pleased to have you stay the night—or rather the morning— with her, Miss Gracia.”
“That will be very nice,” the girl smiled. “I confess I am ver’ tired.”
The adjutant’s wife welcomed the girl to her house, as well as to her heart, declaring that a few hours’ sleep was the only restorative needed. “I think you need a rest too,” she said to Jimmie. “You can come back in twelve hours— mind, not a moment sooner.”
“Now then, my young friend,” was the request he made to the smiling Lieutenant, “Kindly lead me to the nearest telegraph station. I must wire the Berlin foreign office that one of their star agents won’t be married this month! After that inquire if your O.C. will be good enough to see me.”
The Colonel commanding at Camp— who had just been answering the telephone, received Jimmie with a thoughtful smile. In as few words as possible the Canadian outlined von Kitzer’s design.
“He means to embroil your government with Mexico,” thé young man concluded. “You see, sir, he wants to keep your army busy down here.” “Very interesting. Mr. McPherson,” said the O.C. “I have no doubt that was his intention, but I’ve just now had a phone from a small post further along the line; the lieutenant in charge reports that at dawn several Mexicans earned in a man with a gunshot wound m bis shoulder. He was loudly demanding to see a surgeon, and the Mexicans, knowing there were doctors with our t, oops, naturally brought him in to us. Yes”, proceeded the calm-eyed American, as Jimmie bent forward eagerly; “it was the celebrated von Kitzer. Our secret service have suspected him for some time and now—by the way,” he turned to . the Lieutenant, “is there an M.O. at that post?”
“No, sir; only a Vet. He’s just graduated and is very anxious to try his
The commandant nodded. “When the veterinary begins his experiments 'I don’t envy the—a—Prussian gentleman.” “Then he’s safe, confound him,” broke in Jimmie, “boon as he’s well he can go back to his dirty work. As you’re neutral, he can’t even be interned.” “Oh yes, he can,” smiled the other. “I guess' you haven’t heard the latest news. We’re quite excited about it in the camp. It put us in our right place. Two days ago the President declared war on Germany!”