As he passed Dick noted, vaguely, that four or five men stood by the nearer line of barbed wire fence. He held up his left hand to glance at his wrist watch. Just as he turned the hand, to let it fall at his side, something dropped out of the air, falling squarely in his hand. Instinctively Prescott’s fingers closed over the missile. He glanced, quickly, at the enclosure, but not one of the men on the other side of the wire was looking his way.
Then the young captain, keeping briskly on his way, opened his hand to glance down at his unexpected catch. It was a piece of manila paper, wrapped around a stone.
Waiting only until he was some distance from the bull-pen, Dick unwrapped the paper.
In printed characters, used undoubtedly to disguise handwriting, was this message:
“Watch for all you’re worth the carpenter who talks with Mock!”
“Now, why on earth should I interest myself in the affairs of Greg’s busted sergeant?” Dick wondered. “And what possible interest can I have in any carpenter unless he’s a friend of mine, or has business with me?”
On the whole Prescott felt that he was lowering his own dignity to attach any importance to an anonymous message, plainly from a guardhouse prisoner. Yet he dropped the small stone and thrust the scrap of paper into a pocket for future consideration should he deem it worth while.
THE CAMP CARPENTER’S TALE
After a week of exacting office work and all but endless drill, Dick had the rare good fortune to find himself with an evening of leisure.
“Going to be busy to-night?” Dick asked Greg at the evening meal at mess.
“Confound it, yes,” returned Captain Holmes. “I must put in the time until midnight with Sergeant Lund going over clothing requisitions for my new draft of men.”
“My requisitions are all in, and I expect the clothing supplies to-morrow morning,” Dick continued.
“That is because you got your draft of new men two days earlier than I did,” grumbled Greg. “You’re always the lucky one. But what are you going to do to-night that you want company?”
“I thought I’d like to take a walk in the moonlight,” Dick responded.
“Great Scott! Do you mean to tell me you don’t get enough walk in the daytime in the broiling sunlight?”
“Not the same kind of walking,” Prescott smiled. “I want to stroll to-night and talk. But if I must go alone, then I shall have to think.”
“Don’t attempt hard work after hours,” advised Holmes.
“Such as walking?”
Dick finished his meal and stepped outside in the air. The first to join him was Lieutenant Morris.
“Feel like taking a walk in the moonlight?” Dick asked.
“I’d be delighted, Captain, but to-night I’m officer in charge at the company barracks.”