“Say! what do you suppose is the matter with that chap?” Frenchy demanded at last in his rather high, penetrating voice.
Instantly the man in the bushes turned and saw the automobile. Like a flash he settled down in his tracks and disappeared. One moment he was a plain figure standing out against the background of the dam; the next he was not there at all!
“By St. Patrick’s piper that played the last snake out of Ireland!” gasped Frenchy, “he ain’t there no more.”
“You poor fish!” ejaculated Al in disgust, “you scared him off with your squealing. Who do you suppose he was?”
“And what is he doing over there?” added Ikey Rosenmeyer.
“Funny thing,” observed Whistler. “Must be something important up on that dam he was looking at through his glasses.”
“Might as well drive on,” growled Al, punching the starter button again. “This Frenchman from Cork would spoil anything.”
“Aw—g’wan!” muttered the abashed Michael Donahue.
“Well, that chap was no guard, that is sure,” Whistler said.
They drove slowly on across the bridge. All of them searched the base of the dam—or as much of it as could be seen, for the fringe of trees and shrubs that masked it—but not a moving figure did they see. The water poured over the flashboard with a splashing murmur at that distance, and ran down under the bridge in a rocky bed. It was clear and cool looking. Below the factories the river water was of an entirely different color, and people in Seacove had begun to object to the filth from the Elmvale mills being dumped into the cove.
Al Torrance stopped the car at the side gate of the biggest munition works just as the noon whistle blew. Seven Knott got out and began to look about for his friends to whom he had tried to talk enlistment.
He soon spied two of them, and beckoned them near. Others followed. Whistler and his chums were introduced by the boatswain’s mate, who left the talking to the youths after he had introduced his friends.
In five minutes there was a very earnest enlistment meeting going on at the gate of the munition factory. Perhaps no harder place to gain recruits could have been selected. In the first instance, all the boys working here were earning big money. And there was, too, some excitement in the work. As one of them said:
“You Jackies haven’t anything on us. We don’t know but any moment we may be blown sky-high.”
“True for you,” put in Frenchy smartly. “But you don’t get any fun out of your danger. We do. And we get promotion and steadily increased pay and a chance to get up in the world.”
“Sure!” broke in Al. “Some day we’re all going to win gold stripes; aren’t we, fellows?”
His chums declared he was right. But one listener said doubtfully:
“You won’t ever win commissions if you get sunk or blown up, on one of those blamed old iron pots.”