He closed with a shrug of the shoulders.
“You put one of those things in my mouth again, and I’ll make you eat it—some day,” said Chester.
“Not for some time to come, I’m afraid,” was the little man’s rejoinder. “I believe I can guarantee you will be kept out of mischief for the duration of the war.”
Hal had been gazing at the little man closely.
“Seems to me,” he said at last, “that I have seen you some place before. There is something familiar about you.”
“You’ve probably seen me,” was the reply. “I’ve been around here for some time.”
Chester was now struck with a sudden thought.
“Is Matin mixed up in this thing?” he demanded, believing that, after all, the capture might have been concocted by the French soldier who had sought to kill Hal.
“Matin? Who is Matin?” asked their captor.
“No, he has nothing to do with it,” was the reply.
“Then, in the name of the Great Czar, what’s it all about?”
“I can’t tell you,” was the firm reply.
“Of all the fool predicaments,” he said, “this is the worst.”
The little man had now moved toward the door of the tent.
“I go now,” he said, “to make my report. Pleasant dreams to you.”
“Hold on a minute,” shouted Hal.
“No; I think I had better go. Good-bye, boys!”
There was such a familiar ring to these words that Hal was struck with a great light. He uttered a loud exclamation, so loud, in fact, that the little man came running back in the tent.
Even Chester was surprised—but for a moment only—for the words that escaped Hal were these:
“By all that’s holy! If it isn’t Stubbs!”
STUBBS REFUSES TO EXPLAIN
With two bounds the little man covered the distance to Hal’s side and bent over. Quickly he placed a hand across Hal’s mouth and whispered:
“Sh-h-h. Not so loud!”
Hal shook his head free—his hands were tied—and exclaimed:
“So! This is the thanks we get from you, eh! Why, you little fat—”
“Names won’t help any,” said Anthony Stubbs, quietly. “I’ve got you here and, as I told you, here you are going to stay until I arrange for your transportation back to the good old town where stands the Gazette.”
“New York, eh?” said Chester. “But why, Stubbs, that’s what I want to know. Come on, be a good fellow and tell us what this is all about.”
“If I wasn’t so sure you know, I might be tempted to do so,” said Stubbs. “But you do know and there is no need to ask me again. I refuse.”
“But I tell you, Stubbs, we don’t know,” declared Hal. “What’s gone wrong with you? Are you in the employ of the Kaiser?”
“Not by a long shot,” was the answer. “That’s one reason I want to get you away from here. I want to see the Kaiser licked properly.”