“He’s a German spy!” was the declaration.
“When he saved us at the burning mill he was in an American uniform. And now he is in German uniform. He’s a spy!”
“He’s in German uniform all right, there’s no question of that” declared Bob. “But what makes you think he is a spy—I mean a German spy, Jimmy?”
“Because he was within our lines, or close to them, in a uniform that was calculated to appear like one of ours. And, instead of going back with us to help us find our own command, he hiked off in the direction of the Huns. And now he’s here again.”
“But maybe he’s a regular German, though he didn’t talk much like one,” suggested Bob. “I mean the time he saved us at the mill. He might be a decent, human sort of German—and he couldn’t bear to see us roasted to death. Maybe that’s why he saved us. Of course, I remember he acted queerly, and—”
“I don’t know why he saved us,” declared Jimmy. “But I believe he’s a German spy, and he was close to, if not actually within, our lines, trying to get information. And if he’s a spy he ought to be hanged for it—that’s the punishment of all spies.”
“Yes, hanging isn’t any too good, for a German spy,” agreed Roger.
“And if we ever get the chance we’ll denounce this fellow,” went on Jimmy. “We can tell how we saw him in an American uniform, or part of it, near the red mill, and now he wears a German outfit. Hanging won’t match his crime.”
“And yet,” said Bob slowly, “it would be sort of hard to denounce him.” “Why?” asked Jimmy quickly.
“Because he saved our lives,” was the quick answer. “Of course, we’ll have to denounce him, fellows, if we get the chance. But it will go hard. He saved our lives!”
Jimmy was silent a moment, as he gazed out amid the trees in the direction of the German searching party and the officer seated, looking over some papers. Then Jimmy said, slowly:
“Yes, he saved our lives!”
The three hardly knew what to do. And yet, now, there seemed to be but one thing—they must make all haste in the direction of the American lines. At any moment the searching squad might come back, or another might make its appearance, for the Germans would not let the inmates of the prison camp get away without an effort to bring them back.
“Well, this Captain Dickerson has an American name all right, and he may be a German spy,” said Bob. “But he isn’t within the American lines just at present, so he has a right to wear a German uniform I suppose. Remember how he hesitated about giving his name? Maybe he made one up.”
“He won’t wear that uniform long if any of our boys catch him!” declared Jimmy. “Look here, fellows. His saving of our lives was a fine thing, and we can never forget it. But, at the same time, duty is duty, and our highest duty is not to the man toward whom we feel so grateful, but toward our own army and the boys of the Five Hundred and Ninth. If we ever get back to our friends we’ll have to denounce Captain Frank Dickerson, or whoever that fellow it. That’s all there is to it”