“The business looks bad!” cried Captain Cartier, with troubled face.
“Quite!” agreed Captain Gaulte more calmly.
“I must telephone for instructions,” Cartier continued. “It may require a long wait. Gentlemen, you will find seats.”
First Cartier called up his regimental commander and reported the matter.
“It will be passed on to division headquarters,” reported Captain Cartier, turning from the telephone instrument.
By and by the telephone bell tinkled softly. Orders came over the wire that the arresting party should take the prisoners to division headquarters.
“These are your instructions, then, Lieutenant De Verne. Of course it is expected that Captain Prescott will accompany you as complaining witness.”
In the darkness of the night it was a toilsome march back through the communication trenches. This time, when they were left behind, there was no limousine to pick up the members of the party.
“It is a relief to be at last where we can talk,” said De Verne, in English.
“You may speak for yourself,” retorted the German colonel gruffly, betraying the fact that he understood the language.
Halted four times by sentries, the party at last reached division headquarters. Outside a young staff officer awaited them.
“General Bazain has risen and dressed,” stated the staff officer. “He had undertaken to snatch two hours’ sleep, but this cannot be his night to sleep. The general awaits you, and you are to enter. Through to his office.”
As they entered the division commander’s office they found that fine old man pacing his room in evident agitation.
“And you, too, Noyez?” he called, in a tone of astounded reproach. “It was bad enough that we should find Berger a spy! But to find one of our trusted officers—–it is too much!”
“I am neither spy nor traitor, my general!” declared Noyez furiously, “and my record should remove the least suspicion from my name.”
“But you were in the enemy’s trenches this night, without knowledge or leave of your superiors, Lieutenant. Have you a plausible way to account for it?”
“All in good time, my general, when my head has had time to clear,” promised the young sub-lieutenant.
“It is but fair that we give you time,” assented General Bazain. “It can give France no joy to find one of her officers a traitor.”
It was now the German’s turn to be questioned. He gave his name as Pernim. As he was an ordinary prisoner of war he was led from the room to be turned over to the military prison authorities.
“And it was you, my dear Captain Prescott, who captured one spy who has since admitted his guilt. And now you bring in another whom you accuse.”
“Berger has confessed, sir,” Dick asked, “may I inquire if he implicated Lieutenant Noyez?”
“He did not.”