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2 STARRY FLAG. ''I fear that is more than I can boast of," was Hal's response. "I have selected you," said the gen-eral "because I think otherwise. What you, have achieved already in this cam paign bas made me think first of you !n this matter.'' The young officer bowed as the gen eral paid him the compliment. "I shall do my best," he said, "and hope you will not prove mistaken." "You accept the task, then," said the general, with a slight smile. "It would be best for yon to realize first how dangerous it is." "I am always ready to do my duty," answered Hal. "This is more than your duty," was the other's response. "It is something so much more dangerous than your duty that I should hesitate to ask it if it were not of the utmost importance." "You may depend apon me to do my best," said the lieutenant calmly. The general regarded him for a few moments in silence; and then he turned toward a ches in a corner of the tent. "I will tell you what it is," he said. He took out an envelope, and from that drew a letter. After glancing over it hastily he held it out toward Hal. "You read Spanish, do you not?" he ::;aid. I do," answered the other. "Very well; the letter explains itself. I think you will see what I want." Hal took the note and read as follows: you in the defense of Santiago, but haste must be made as we have only five days' rations. "Inform the bearer, Senor Robinson, what is the weakest point in the Ameri can lines and what chance we would stand of forcing our way in; send me full particulars as to the strength of General Linares' command, etc. "Yours truly, Sileva." "P. S. -Lest this letter should fall in to other hands it would be best for me to add that Senor Robinson is a deaf mute, which will be a certain means of identi fication.'' When he, Hal Maynard, had finished reading the letter he sat perfectly silent, gazing in front of him; the general eyed him narrowly. "What do you make of it?" he inquired, as if anxious to test Hal's mind. "As you say," the lad answered, "the letter explains itself. I presume that Senor Robinson has fallen into our hands.'' "Exactly, he was captured this morn inowithin a short distance of the Span,,, ish lines.'' "Aud I presume he has been hung as a spy.'' ''He has not,'' said the general, ''I have promised him his liberty." Hal looked surprised for a moment; but he saw what the other meant. "On condition I suppose," said he, "that he gives me the necessary infor mation so that I can play his part" "I thought you were fairly quick,'' said General Shafter, with a smile. "We may be able to manage this yet. I should "To Colonel Bernabe Garcia, Santiago: "My Dear Sir :-The bearer of this letsay the chances were about even. ter is a person you can trust. .He is The general tapped a bell at his side. Englishman and expects no trouble 111 "Bring in the prisoner," he said to the passing the American lin:s. he orderly who answered. lived a number of years 111 Spam and is The command was quickly obeyed and thorouo-hly in sympathy with our cause. sentries led in Senor Robinson; he You n:ed have no doubts about him. H "I have under mv command about two looked rather uncomfortable. e was a thousand men. Tl1ey are eager to join short tl!ick-set man with very red face NICK CARTER IS AT THE HEAD OF ALL DETECTIVES.
STARRY FLAG. 3 and still more red whiskers; he glanced from the general to Hal nervously. "Mr. Robinson," said the former, "this is Lieutenant Maynard." Hal looked surprised, for he had understood that the man was a deaf mute. But he saw that one of the two sentries was writing on a small slate what the general said. As soon as the prisoner understood that he was being introduced be bowed very humbly. "He is the officer to w horn you will give your information," added the general. I have already explafoed to this man," he continued to Hal, what I intend to do. You see he does not sympathize with Spain as much as he does with himself, and he is quite ready to tell us what we want. I have told him that I mean to send an officer in with this letter and that l1is life depends upon the officer's success. 1f you do not return in three days I shaD assume t1iat he had not told you the trnth and Jiang him." Hal looked rather startled at that calm remark, but he saw that such a threat would prove the best way to get at the facts. Hal's quick brain had realized by that time just what duty was before him, and he saw that he had indeed a dangerous task on 11and. He had to enter the Spanish lines pretending to be a deaf mute and a friend of the writer of the letter, whom he had never seen in his life. But Hal did not flinch; he had already declared t::> the general that no danger would stop him. "You are willing to undertake the com mission?" the officer inquired. "I am,'' was the lad's simple response. "Very well," said _the other. Be reacly to st'1"t in an hour. You wi11 need that long to get what information you require.'' The seutries were signaled to lead their prisoner out, and Hal followed, his busy mind hard at work on the all important problem. The reader, of course, understands that it was necessary for Hal to learn something about "Senor Robinson," and where he came from. The sentries who were guarding him seemed to have been instructed as to that already, for they wok the man into a tent and when Hal followed an orderly brought in some pencils and paper. "We will save this conversation," thought the lieutenant as he began to write grimly. "And if Mr. Robinson tells any lies he'll wish he hadn't." And so for the next hour Hal sat on the floor of the tent, exchanging letters with the prisoner. The latter seemed per fectly willing to tell all he knew. He described "Sileva" (who was a Spanish general), the army under his command, and the place where they were encamped. It 'vas a part of country with which Hal was familiar. Also, and most fortunately, the lad had been to Spain some years ago, and so he had no doubt that he could answer any question that might be asked him a'bout that country; he learned with re lief that so far as the prisoner knew no one in Santiago was acquainted with him. Hal knew that all this would soon be a matter of life and death with him so it may readily be believed that he asked which he could possibly man age to think of that would be necessary. He even got a list of the names of the officers under General Sileva, with a brief description of each. When he finished interrogating Mr. Robinson he felt almost as if he had really been with that army. l'I suppose," Hal mused, "that I'll get READ THE GREAT PREMIUM OFFER ON LAST PAGE.
4 S l'ARHY FLAG. into trouble by not knowing the deaf and dumb alphabet; but if there's any one in Santiago knows it I'll have to pretend that it's different from my English one." And with that tho11ght in his mind Hal arose, and bowing to the prisoner, left the tent. He changed his uniform for civilian clothing and then he was all ready for his dangerous mission. He went to General Shafter's tent to get his last -instructions. CHAPTER II. IN THE ENEMY'S HANDS. Hal had already guessed about what it was that General Shafter wanted. He learned from the deaf man that Colonel Garcia was in command of one of the small block-houses in the outer defenses of Santiago. Naturally a visit there would give the American a chance to observe much that would be useful. "Notice everything you can," the gen eral said. "See where the defenses are weak and learn how many troops there are in Santiago. I would give much to know that one fact, for the reports that reach me are very contradictory indeed, and I am absolutely in the dark as to the enemy's strength." "I will try to find out for you," said Hal. "But do not ask any questions," said the other. "That will awaken suspicion!;. Try to learn in the course of cas ual conversation. And you ought to find out much by simply listening to the offi cers.'' They would talk with impunity in the young man's presence, believing him deaf. Hal saw a splendid chance there. "And what am I to do about the infor mation Sileva wants?" "I have been thinking about that," said the general. ''I am puzzled to see how to manage it. You can't return Sileva, and we couldn't send th is m Robinson. And yet if we could mana it I could gain considerable advantage.' "In what way?" Hal asked. "I could seud word to Sileva to co by a certain road and practically annihi ate his troops. But I hardly think it ca be managed." Hal ha
. STARltY FLAG. 5 life in your hands. The slightest slip will mean your ruin.'' The officer rose and stood before Hal as he delivered his impressive warniug. "Tliey will test you and try you by every means in their power; you may de pend upon it that they will not trust any secrets to you without making every effort to trip you up. Vigilance must be your motto, vigilance every second of the time.'' "They will not catch me," Hal, calmly. "You must remember," the other went on, "that you are deaf and dumb. If you make a sound or let them know that you hear a sound you are lost. And as to the questions they ask you about Silev:;i, you must do the best you can. When you see a chance in. a day or two, make your es r.ape and return.'' The general stepped to the door, as a signal that the interview was at an end. But Hal had one other suggestion to make. He l1ad been thinking long and hard about the work that was before him, and one possibility had occurred to him, a possibility so vague and wild that he hardly dared to speak of it. "General Shafter," he said, "if I am not mistaken, the block-house which this Colonel Garcia commands is the one on a hill just opposite our works.'' "It is," answered the other. ''And it is one of the strongest of them all.,' "It is the strongest." "It would cost many 1i ves to take it," continued Hal, meditatively. "A charge up that hill would be costly. I was think ing perhaps if I failed-if I was discov ered or couldn't learn anything-that I might--" ./ "Might what?" "I do not know exactly," answered the other, hesitatingly. "But there is no telling. General Shafter, if at any time you should notice any signs of a disturb ance up tht.re-see the Spauish flag come down-you might take it as a signal that it would be a good time to attack." The ge.neral could not help smiling. "What could you do?" he asked. "If I were discovered," the young officer added, "I should be quite desper ate and should try anything-to set the block-house afire, to throw away the breech blocks of the guns-anything I could, as a last resort." "I hope you will not get into such straits," the other answered. "But," be added, s111ili11g, "if I see the flag fall I will attack the block-house. We are ready to begin anyway." And no more was said upon the subject. General Shafter left the tent to give orders as to Hal's dra1natic "escape" from the American lines. 011 his way through the canip Hal clrnnced to meet his boon companion the young Cuban, Juan Ramirez. Hal had only time to stop for a moment, however. "I've got an important commission," he said. "What is it?" The other looked wise and shook his head provokingly. "Can't tell," he said. "It's secret." "You needn't think you're the only one with important work to do," laughed Juan. ''I've got some exciting 'Work be fore me, too.'' "Well, we'll have interesting tales to tell when we get back," answered Hal. "Good-by." He turned and hurried away, leaving J nan watching him. "He thinks I don't know," Juan smiled. "I think he'll see me again be fore ve ry long." Meanwhile Lieutenant Maynard, in SHOW YOUR COLORS-GET ONE OF OUR FREE BAD(lt:S.
6 STARRY FLAG. company with an officer who was in charge of he American pickets and had been detailed by Shafter to aid in the plot, made his way along a rough trail to the outposts of the army. And there the matter was soon arranged. Hal was shown the block-house he wanted. There was a dense thicket that ran half way across the valley to the foot of the hill upon which the little fort stood. The young officer concluded to make his way through that thicket. "Please be careful that you don't hit me,'' he said to half a dozen of the sharpshooters who were detailed to do the firing. And those were his last words. He left the lines and began a long tramp through the dense and swa:npy underbrush too ward the Spanish outposts. In about ten minutes he reached the edge of the cleared place; he paused but to collect his faculties and take one deep breath. Then he sprang out. The very instant that he came into sight there were three shots in quick suc cession. Up the hill far ahead Hal could see the Spaniards running about gesticulating excitedly. Noue of them fired on him, however, for he had his handker-, chief in his hand waving it wildly, mean-time running with all his might to get out of range of the American rifles. It was rather a dramatic incident, even if it W3S only in fun, and it was not very long either, before Hal ceased to find it as much fun as he had thought. For the firing from the rear grew more rapid, and to the young American's alarm he suddenly heard two or three bullets singing by -his head. A second later he felt one graze his arm. For a moment he did not know what to thini<, but it finally dawned upon him that some other sentries who were not "in the joke" were firing on him in earnest. And it may be believed that he re doubled his speed when he made dis covery. It seemed a long run up that hill, but the young officer pressed on, his eyes fixed on the block-house ahead. He saw several Spaniards there shouting to him and watching his :flight. The bullets grew thicker, but fortu nately enough Hal had been a good ways from the pickets when he started, and it would have taken an expert to bring him down at the range. The bullet which U.,re his coatsleeve was the only one that Hal And when he came to think it over he was glad that one had struck as it did, for it left a stain of blood on his coat and was better than any letter of introduction for Hal. It made bis escape look ten times more real. felt. And so his heart was thumping triumphantly as he bounded up the slope He dashed straight on until lie reached the Spanish trenches. And there he fonnd it best to stop. For a soldier sprang up and leveled his bayonet at him. "Halt!" he shouted. And weak with feigned exhaustion, the lad let himself sink down upon the ground, while an officer came toward him from the trench. Hal was "in the enemy's hands." CH APTER III. SENOR ROBINSON. When Hal stretched himself out on the ground to get bis breath it was also to collect his wits; for he knew that the time of trial had come. From that instant there was to be neither rest nor peace for him; he had to keep sayirig to himself night and day and unceasingly: "I am deaf! I am deaf!" NICK CARTER IS ALWAYS ON HAND.
STARRY FLAG. 7 The officer came toward him with his sword in his hand. "Who are you ?11 he demanded, speak ing of course in Spanish. Hal to be too much exhausted to move; he lay where he was, panting heavily. "Who are you?" repeated the other. "What do you want?" Hal raised himself on one elbow and gazed about him wildly; then as if for the first time noticing the man, he fumbled under his jacket for a moment hastily. He staggered to his feet and held out his precious letter. The man took it and after taking a sharp glance at the blood-stained cloth ing, opened it-for it was not sealed. He read it through and then stepped toward the trenches. "Come this way," he said. Now very likely he did not mean that ior any sort of a test. It was doubtless as natural to him as to the American. And Hal was actually starting-his knees were half bent, when suddenly, like a flash of lightning, the thought dared through his mind sending shivers down his back and making his very heart stand still. "Almost caught already!" He was just barely in time to straighten himself up again; and calming his face as well as he could, he stared after the officer. The latter had turned to lead the way; noticing that Hal was not following he turned and saw the stupid look on the young man's face. "Carram ba I forgot!" he laughed. And then he beckoned. That Hal understood, and followed. That one incident was better for him than a thousand of General Shafter's warnings. For the first time Hal realized what a task he had upon his hands. It made him shiver to think of it; he felt that half a dozen such shocks as that would give him nervous prostration. But it was too late to back down then, even had he wanted to. The two crossed the outermost de fenses, the Spanish soldiers staring eagerly at the stranger. They entered a small tent, evidently that of the lieuten ant of the guard. There was an officer seated in front of a campstool, using it as a writing desk. He glanced up as Hal entered. He was apparently busy, for he jerked bis thumb over his shoulder. "Step one side for a moment," said he. But that time Hal's nerves were strung; he never moved. The officer had looked down at his writing again; but he glanced up with a look of annoy"ance. "Santa Maria!" he exclaimed. "I said step to one side. 11 Just as Hal was furn bling for his slate the other officer explained that be was deaf, and catching Ha'l by the arm led him aside. "Who is he?" demanded the officer of the guard wl.n he was at last ready to attend to Hal, "some Yankee spy?" "No, senor," answered the other. ''He is a messenger from General Sileva. '' The officer opened his eyes wide. and then read the letter handed to him. "But are you sure this is not a put-up job?'' he demanded. "I do not know," the first officer re sponded. "He seems to have been trou bled in getting past the Yankees." "It may be a trick," said the other. "They are sly. We'll have to test him. 11 "He seems deaf enough, 11 remarked Hal's escort. YOUR GIRL AN AMERICAN FLAG HAT PIN-SEE PAGE 32.
8 STARRY FLAG. From what Hal knew that something was coming; he was not snrpri5ed when the officer of the guard held out one hand. "Let me see your wound," he said. That was easy. Insteall of the wound, Hal extended his little slate. And the Spaniards laughed. "He's deaf enough," said one of them. "Take him to the colonel." "Come," said the other, starting toward the door. But Hal didn't come until he was beckoned. Then he went out. He l1ad leisure to glance about him. What he saw may be easily described-a low, square block-house bristling with guns and surrounded with deep trenches and the much vaunted barbed wire fences-. At the door of the block-house there was standing a tall, handsome officer whpm Hal knew by the uniform to be a colonel -he had no doubt that this was Garcia. And c;o it proved; the other officer saluted respectfully, and handed over the letter. The colonel read it and then stared at was here opposed to his he would not have let the thinking be so evident. Suddenly he wrote a few words and passed them to Hal. They were these: "How is General Silev.a's daughter?" And there was the list, The young American's thoughts were fairly surging. He did not think that was a trntural question for the officer to ask under the circmnstaces. Coming after the dynamite qi.;estion, it was a thousand to one it was a trap; the colonel's thought ful air made that even more likely. The natural answer for Hal would have been "She's quite well. '1 B!1t he took a desperate chance, staked his suc cess on one throw. "I didn't ki;iow he had any," he wrote, with0ut a second's hesitation. And Hal saw by the. way the officer's face cleared that be had won the t11row. SHeva had no daughter, and Garcia was foiled. The lad thought tlrnt his danger was about over then; and for awhile it seemed so. Hal took the slate and wrote on it: Hal under his black eyebrows. "Give me something to eat and tie up Hal, "exhausted" by his long chase, this wound for me." That seemed had sunk down upon a cask near by. 'natural, he thought; he was pretending "Look out! that's dynamite you're to have made a long journey. sitting on!" cried the officer suddenly. "How did you get past the AmerOnce more Hal felt the impulse to icans ?" asked the officer. move thrill through his frame. There "Made a dash," answered Hal. are few people the word dynamite will "And how is General Sileva ?" not make to jump. "Well," wrote the American, "bnt But Hal had been muttering to himself hungry." deaf!" And so he checked him-The Spaniard smiled at that. self again, though the cold shiver ran "We are hungry; too," he 'muttered, down his back again. 11alf under his. breath. The officer had been eyeing him nar"How are his men? Are any of the rowly; but be saw nothing suspicious. officers wounded?" he wrote. Hal only held out the slate and pencil. Hal didn't know that, but it would do The man took it and gazed into space no harm to guess; he ran over the list of a moment as if in deep thought; if he the officers he had learned. had _known what a quick and clever brain "There was one slightly wounded," "ALLEE SAME, BULLEE NICK CARTER!"
s rARRY FLAG. 9 he wrote; "a short dark man. I forget his name.'' "Caste1ar ?" inquired Garcia. Again a trap, thought Hal; at any rate it was if Robinson's descriptions were right. "No,'' he wrote, "Castelar's very taII, I t11ink. This man ts name began with a B." ''Benito?'' tlie colonel. Again a test; thank heavens for that list of officers! "No," wrote Hal. "It was-( a long pause)-Bosa !" And once more the colonel's counte nance cleared But he was a very suspicious man evidently; he got up and strolled a\x:ay. About two minutes later the American heard a step behind him. He knew that some sort of a trick was coming, but he dared not turn. He steadied his nerves, gathered himself together and waited. Fortunately he had a second 's warning, or this tria l would liave ftoored him. He heard the sharp click of a revolver trigger; and then as he held his breath and waited there came a deafening report, right at Hal's ear! CHAPTER IV. HAL IN TROUBLE. Again Hal's nerves were equal to the test; he knew that sharp eyes were watching him; but he did not give so much as a start. The smoke drifted in front of him, however, he turned and stared. He saw a Spanish soldier grinning at him, the revolver still smoking in his hand. Now. Hal was playing a part, and he was quick to act. He had no reason for assuming humility, and several reasons for assuming something else. He clinch_ed his fists, and springing up flung himself at that soldier's throat. The man staggered back in alarm, there was a moment's struggle, interrupted by the arrival of Colonel Garcia, who came running up, laughing at the turn things had taken. But Hal was in no mood for laughing he shook his fists in the' colonel's face, gesticulating wildly and making inarticulate sounds as deaf mutes do. Then he seized a pencil and wrot e sav agly. He began with a few Spanish "cuss words,". at which the officer laughed still more. "Por Dios What's the matter?" Hal demanded, finding writing words a poor way to quarrel, "He was only trying ,you to see if you were deaf," was the answer. Hal knew hy that time that the officer was persuaded, but he wished to clinch the matter and prevent any more nerve_ racking tests. So he kept on getting mad. "I don't choose to be tried, 11 he scrib bled hastily. "And I'm not going to be treated as ff I were a spy, either. I came here as your guest, and if you have any doubts of me let me go. I'm a friend of Sileva's, and I brought this me$sage as a favor. If you don't know how to treat me I'll get out of here." Hal had quite some sense of humor, and he could hardly keep from laughing himself as he wrote that. But the effect it had was just wbat he wanted. For the colonel apologized humbly. And Hal felt he wouldn't dare any more tests. But he did not relax any of his vigilance on that account. He still looked a little indignant, as much as to say that it wouldn't take much to make him clear out of there altogether; the officer was now as polite as he could be. CALL YOUR FRIENDS ATTENTION TO OUR PREMIUMS-SEE PAGE 32,
10 STARR:'!'. FLAG. He sent for a surgeon, and the lad's slight scratch was bandaged; food was brought and h@ flte it ravenously-as if he had not eaten anything for a wee'k. The colonel waited until be was through, and then taking his slate began a conversation. He inquired where the Spanish general's troops were, and what they were doing, all of which was answered by the information Robinson had given. Whether it was correct or not, Hal did not know; but then neither did the other man, so it was all right. that the question turned to what adventures Hal had met with himself. He described some very thrilling ones; also he did not forget to add? that he bad examined the American lines and found just where Sileva could force them. In response to the other question Hal indicated the road Shafter had told him. As an actual fact, it was not a strongly guarded road then at any rate, and so the /Spaniard, who knew some about the matter himself, -was convinced that Hal was sincere. So far everything had gone with mar velous good fortune for the daring young American ; it must be admitted that he had ma.naged the thing cleverly. But be felt somehow that he could bardly hope for such luck all the time; and so he did not for an instant relax his vigilance. He thought that Garcia might consider it an excellent time while he was busy in conversation to make some slight test behind his back. Hal was right in being on his guard. But when the dange ractually came it was a danger far less easy to guard against than that. In fact, it was one that almost brought the lad's triumph to an end. The Spaniard was evidently not used to a written conversation; he found i painfully slow. He sat back for a moment, kntting brows in thought. Then suddenly muttered an exclamation. "Santa Maria!" Hal, suspecting a new danger, watched him narrowly; he called an officer. "Send for Lieutenant Varez," said he. Hal watched the man disappear. Colonel Garcia wrote on the slate: "I remember I've a man who can con verse with you on his fingers." And the unfortunate "deaf man" felt the blood curdling in his ve:ins; here was a trial indeed. He seized a penc:il and wrote hast:ily: "It won't do any good.'" "Why not?" "Because I only ki1ow the English signs." And when the Spaniard wrote his reply to tbat Hal felt he would sink through the earth. "This man has been to England." Hal had never been in a more desper ate fix than that m his life. His mind was if! a whirl. He knew that he had only a few sec onds to think, and that his life depended on the result. He was almost inclined to spring up and make a dash for liberty. But he knew that that would be sui cide, and that he must stay and face the ordeal out. It was not very long before Lieutenant Varez appeared and saluted his superior. "Lieutenant," the colonel said, "this young man is a messenger from Ge11eral Sileva, but he's deaf and dumb." "I see." "I thought I would ask you to act as interpreter for me." "I will be pleased to do it,". answered the other. He turned toward Hal and raised his EVERYONE KNOWS NICK CARTER.
STARRY FLAG. ll hands. But before he could begin to speak the American began making motions at a great rate. He knew nothing about the deaf and dumb alphabet, at least no more than any one knows who had occasionally seen deaf mu ks conversing; but he had a vague idea about it from that, and so he went to work with all his might. As for the lieutenant, he stared in considerable surprise. "Can you make out what he'ssaying," inquired the colonel. "Not a was the answer. '"What's the matter?" "I'm sure I don't know. He must use a different system.,, Hal went on a while longer, and then wound up with a flourish and gazed at the lieutenant anxio"ltsly as much as to say "Savey ?" But the lieutenant only shook his head. It was his turn then, and he began in the regular deaf and dumb alphabet. But 11e had 1iardly made a dozen letters before Hal signaled vigorously that he didn't understand. He seized the slate and wrote hurriedly in English: "Don't you know the Portsmouth system ?11 The lieutenant read it and shook his head. "Never heard of it," said he. Hal was not surprised at that, having invented the name on the spur of the moment; but it seemed to answer his purpose to perfection. In fact it seemed that Hal's clever trick was about to succeed. But unfortunately appeara1'fces were deceptive. For Hal did not know, could not know, how very absurd his gestures had appeared to the lieutenant, who was used to conversing with deaf mutes. The lieu-tenant was, moreover, a good bit sharper than the old colonel. "Don't you know the regular system?" he wrote. "No," Hal answered. "You're the first one I every met who didn't," responded the liuetenant. "They don't use it where I come from," replied Hal. "Where's that?" "England." "What part?" "Sheffield," wrote Hal, at a desperate venture. "That's a long way from Portsmouth," answered the lieutenant, sus piciously. "But I've been there, and I never heard anything about your way of talking.'' In answer to that our friend merely shrugged his shoulders as much as to say: "Yott can't blame me for that." Hal's state of mind during that ordeal was a far from enviable one; he realized that he was being cornered and driven into a very unpleasant position indeed. He soon made up his mind that the best course of action for him to follow would be the one !::e !::ad tried with the colonel. Meanwhile the other, whose sus picions were evidently awakened, asked another question : "Just let me see you talk some by that new system:" he wrote. And that was Hal's chance; he frowned angrily. "What for?" he demanded. "Nothing. I just want to see how it goes.'' The American flushed angrily. "I'm not on the witness stand," he wrote hastily, "and I'm tired of being suspected.'' And with that he set down his pencil and rose to his feet, staring about him indignantly. FREE WAR BADGES. SEE LAST PAGE.
12 STARRY FLAG. What the effect of that wonld be he did not know, but it was his only hope. He meant to contim1e on that tack and refuse to be cross-questioned any more. The Spaniards had no w _.y of making him talk. Lieutenant Varez, who was evideutly very distrustful of Hal, led Colouel Garcia aside a11d held a whispered conversa tion. What was the import of it Hal could not tell, though he strained his ears. The lieutenant evidently did not mean for him to hear. But Hal conld see that he was trying to persuade the colonel of somethiug. And evidently he succeeded. When Hal learned what it was he almost col lapsed. For the whole thing came like a thunder clap. "Very well," he heard Garcia say, "go ahead." And the other man came over toward Hal; to Hal's amazement he seized him by the arm. "I guess yon 've run your race," he said abrnptly. "You're under arrest. You're a spy." CHAPTER V. HAL UNDER ARREST. had been bracing himself for some test, and he never gave a sign. He stared blankly at the officer; then after half a minute of suspense had passed he felt that he had won; and reaching round with his other hand, he jerked the lieutenant's grip free alld stepped back angrily. He held out the slate with a haughty gesture. Varez frowned. "Oh, come, now!" he exclaimed. "This won't go. You're not deaf and you know it." But Clif only held out the slate. Hi<: first alarm at the officer's terrible annouucement had passed quickly, for he felt that it was only a test. He did not think that the suspicions were awakened enough to warrant his ordering an arrest. But Hal had a considerably more clever enemy to deal with thau he had thought. His consternation may be imagined when Lieutenant Varez took. the slate and wrote: "You are under arrest; yon are a spy." Fortunately Hal was not compelled to repress his alarm and indignation then; he glanced at the lieutenant. At first he was evidently too mad to write the lieutenant returned his stare. "What have I done?-" he finally deThat was the most frightful test Hal manded. had so far had to face. For that appal"Yon are a Yankee spy," the otht:r ling he was absolutely answered. "You are no more deaf than I unprepared. am.'' And it was evidently a test. The lieu"You are a fool," was Hal's curt re_ tenant's keen black eyes were fixed on sponse to that; he was playing anger Hal's countenance, watching for the again. slightest start or the faintest change of "Follow me to the guard tent," re-color. sponded the Spaniard. He held the. lad's arm, also, so that he "I shall appeal to the British consul," could feel if the announcement had any wrote Hal. effect. "You may appeal to the devil if you But Hal's command of his nerves at like," answered the other. "You will be that moment surprised even himself. He hung to-day." HOW DO YOU LIKE "THE HUMAN FLY?"
STARRY FLAG. 13 Those were appalling words; but' angry though the Spa11iard evidently was, strange to say the words did not frighten Hal. For he kept his wits about him still, and he fe1t that the words were not true. He knew in the first place that the man had neither evidence nor even suspicions enough to warrant such a comse. And in the secoqd place if the Spaniard had really been so sure Hal was 11ot deaf, why did he no.t merely say all this to him instead of writing it. "I'm not done yet by a jug full," thought Hal. "And I'll fool the lieutenant as well 1\s the old colonel.'' To the last threat of the officer he did ot answer; he merely put away his late, and folding his arms favored him ith a look of scorn. The two stood regarding each other for everal moments in silence, and then the ie11 tenant turned away. "Follow me," he said. But tl1ougl1 he dirln 't know it t11at rick had been tried on Hal before. The merican, instead of obeying, proceeded almly to walk over toward Colonel arc1a. \Vhen Varez saw that he was not fol wed he muttered an impatient exclama ion and took him by the arm. Clif shook him off, but followed then; 1ey eutered the guard tent again. The officer was seated there. "Good-morning," said the lieutenant. The colonel has ordered this fellow nder ;:lrrest. '' "What's the matter?" asked the other. "Oh, he's a spy." "Wtrnt!" ''Yes.'' "A 11d isn't he deaf?" "No, iudeed. No more than I am. e's a Yankee. He doesn't even know how to speak the deaf and dumb language.'' "Carram ba exclaimed the other. "I thought he was fooling all along." "What do you suppose will be done with him"?" he asked, a UJoment later. "He'll be hung." "When?" "To-day." "Did the colonel say so?" "Yes; he did." "That'll be two of them then. I've got that other fellow locked up tight." "Put this one i11 with 111111. These Yankees must be terrible anxious to learn about us-that makes four spies in one week." "That's so. But we can hang all they send.'' "Pid you see that fellow hung yesterday?" "Did I! I helped haul the rope. Madre de dios, how he did squirm!" "It must have been an 1111 pleasaut sight." "Carramba It was. I never want to see another. I never saw such a horribly distorted face in my life; he gurgled and kicked and turne.:i perfectly black in the face.'' "It's horrible," said Varez. "I don't see why they don't shoot them instead. I once saw a man hung and the rope broke and he fell. They had to tie him up again, and he yelled and screamed; he nearly chewed his tongue off, and his neck was cut half through." The reader of conrse t111derstands that this edifying conversation was all meant for Hal. Hal 1111derstood that himself, and so no doll could h:rve worn a more blank expression than he did. He knew that Lieutenant Varez kept his keen, piercing eyes upon him all the time, but not a sign of hearing anything di
14 STARRY FLAG. The conversation on the subject of hanging continued. The cunning Varez grew quite eloquent, throwing in the most harrowing details and discussing Hal's fate with utmost indifference. But Hal was even more indifferent than he. "It's funny about that man we caught yesterday, 11 observed the officer of the guard. "Wasn't he clever, though! You know I never once thought he was a spy; but the colonel is so watchful." "And he never hesitates, either," laughed Varez, "Santa Maria! if he once gets the idea into his head that a man's a spy, up he goes whether he's a spy or not. I wouldn't give one peseta for ths fellow's chance." "Nor I," said the other. "But shall we put tlle111 in together-I mean this one with the other?'' ''Why not?'' "They might put up some job to get away." "Put a dou hie guard over them, and handcuff this chap here." With that the lieutenant turned and strode out of the tent. A moment later two soldiers stole up behind Hal. He knew they were coming, and why. But he dared not let ou. And suddenly both his hands were seized and jerked behind his back. Hal felt the cold steel of the handcuffs as they were snapped about his wrists. "Take him into the other tent,,, said the officer of the guard, ''and don't let him get a way. Colonel Garcia's going to hang him this afternoon." I CHAPTER VI. ANOTHER SPY. Hal's coolness at that time may seen incredible; it surprised even himself, when he came to look back upon that ad venture. But then he did not feel th least alam, for he was sure that th whole thing was only a "bluff. 11 Aud so he found it much easier to ac as if he heard nothing; but he had a hard task to allay the suspicions of Lieutenant Varez. The two soldiers marched Hal across a short space inside of the enclosure to another tent before which there was a sentry marching. The flap of the tent was closed, but one of the soldiers raised it and pushed Hal unceremoniously inside. There they left him and Hal gazed about him anxiously; it was half dark and he could not see clearly at first. But he made out a figure lying on the ground. It was that of a man, apparently asleep. His face was turned away, but the young lieutenant could see that his hands were also handcuffed. He saw also that the man wore an American uniform, that of a private in the regular infantry. -A moment later the man, becoming conscious of the fact that some one had entered, turned over and sat up. Hal had no doubt but that this was the other spy he had heard spoken of; he oazed at the man in some anxiety. <:> He was a tall, handsoille-looking fel-low; he returned Hal's curious glance with interest. He could easily see from the young officer's face that he was not a Spaniard; a11d the handcuffs told the rest of the story. NICK CARTER'S DISGUISES ARE WONDERFUL.
S'fAitRY FLAG. lb "Good heavens! have they got you, too?'' he cried. Th<:1t was HaPs greatest temptation; to this companion in misery he felt he surely could trust himself. His heart went out to the unfortunate man. Bnt the young officer was too wise to take any risks, and too quick to be taken off his guard; he only stared at his fellow pnsoner. He tried instinctively to reach for his slate and pencil, but his ha11ds were tied and he could not. The other looked at him m some sur prise. "What's the matter?" he asked. "Why don't you answer me?" Hal shook his head energetically, and then, the slate being under his coat, he managed to wriggle it loose so that it fell at his feet. rrhe other noticed it and then the truth flasJ1ed over him. "Oh, you are playing deaf, are you," said he. Tlrnt question almost brought Hal Maynard dowu. Though he dared not speak to let the Spaniards outside hear him, it seemed tI1e most natural thing in the world to nod an a11swer, which would put him on friendly terms with the other prisoner. Aud, in fact, the ipulse almost carried the day. Hal had begun to move his head when suddenly another thought, a terrible one, swept over him. Suppose this was Lieutenant Varez's scheme! Suppose this man was not a pdsouer Suppose he was a Spaniard, or a traitor, setting a trap for Hal The thought turned Hal's hanils to ice, he checked l1imse1f just an instant in time nd stood almost paralyzed with horror. Such a peril as that gives an awful hock to one's i1erves; Hal was almost prostrated, and he sank down on the floor of the tent and fairly gasped for breath. Meanwhile the other was quite natur ally surprised at Hal's strange action; he looked at him in amazement, and as for our deaf man he sat perfectly motionless for at least a minnte recovering his wits once more. That last trial had completely unnerved him. He hoped that his face had shown no signs of his emotions. Apparently it liad not, for the stranger continued to stare. "By George! perhaps he's really deaf!" Hal heard him mutter. And then suddenly he began to speak again. "Friend," he said, "I don't know if your deafness is assumed or not, but I pity you in either case, for that man Colo nel Garcia is a perfect fiend. He caught me, and if you can fool him you'll sur prise me, I can tell you." Hal continued to stare, giving no sign that he understood; the other was evi dently puzzled. "But I suppose you 're wise to keep up the bluff as long as you can,'' said he. "There may be some hope." There was a moment's silence after that. "I don't thi,nk you 're deaf," said the stranger suddenly. Hal nearly gave a start at that; he was more than convinced then that this man was really a prisoner. He felt like yelling at him: "If you don't think so, I wish you'd keep it to yourself and not let these Spaniards overhear you!" But the other apparently did not think of that. "I'll tell you why," he continued, confidentially. "I know they don't take anybody in our army who's the least bit deaf, and I remember seeing you there." That was another remark which tried Hal's nerves. OLD GLORY BADGES AS PREMIUMS-SEE PAGE 32.
16 STARRY FLAG. He did not know but what that might be true; 11e might easily have found out by asking the man where he had seen him, but he did not dare, and so he was obliged to remain in ncertainty. He still held to his resolution to say nothing, though his fellow prisoner looked wistfully at him. "I wish you could manage to talk some, comrade," he said. "I'm awfully lonely, and I've got to die to-night." Again Hal crushed his emotions down; those words were spoken with such terrible earnestness and sadness that they went straight to the young officer's heart. But he had his duty, and he sternly checked himself. "Very well, friend," said the other, with a sigh. "You know best, but it's hard-oh, so hard !'1 And after that there was a silence, a long heart-racking silence. Hal was thinking-trying his best to make up his mind whether or not he dared make one sign to his unfortunate fellow-prisoner. Certainly the problem was a hard one. His thoughts were interruptecf once by the unfortunate man. "By George! I didn't think of it be fore," he gasped. "Comrade, have you got to die to-night, too? Is it so?" And still Hal was obdurate, and his eyes stared blankly at the other. Not one sign did he give. The man regarded him with a puzzled look on his face. and his tones had had their effect on th other's sympathies. With all his hearth longed to spe k to him; and yet he dared not. The man continued to keep his eye riveted on Hal's face, with a longing look whose intensity was born of the fact tha he was then in the very face of death. Theu suddenly he turned and flung himself down on the ground, burying his face in his hands. "Oh, God, my wife!" Hal heard him sob. And the man's great frame shook con vulsively. an
STARRY FLAG. 17 he had been to Ill uch like a statue for a really deaf man. Meanwhile the other went on, speaking rapidly, as if he had important things to communicate and knew that death might cut him short at any moment. "Friend," he said, "for I call you friend, though you won't let me know who you are. You must be one of my countrymen or you wouldn't be here. It can do no harm in any case. You may get away; and if you do-oh, I pray )OU attend to this for me. Listen now. 11 Hal listened with all his ears, though he gave no sign. "My name is Henry Thompso1 wliispered the man eagerly, "and I'm a private in the Twelfth Infantry. I live in New )'ork at--But I must speak of the other first. I'm to be hanged, I don't know when this afternoon, and the news is important." The man paused for a moment for breath, aud gazed at Hal wistfully. It must have bee n terrible to him to uncertain whether all his speaking was to be in vain. But the young lieutenant still gave no the other went on. "I was sent out the day before yester cfay by Shafter himself. If you see him tell him what I tell you. He's trying his best to find out how many of these Span ish devils there are in Santiago, and he thinks there are more than there are. Man, if he only knew he'd have the town in two days. There aren't r5,ooo-I doubt if there are ro,ooo that can fight And he ought to know it, comrade. Per haps you '11 have a chance to tell him; then he wants to know about the food supply. He can starve the place out, but it would be a thousand times better to attack it. Oh, if I only had some way of writing! I could give you all the information I spent two days in getting; it would be as good as a thousand men, for I've got diagrams of all the earthworks and the number of troops exactly. I know all the weak spots-good Lord! it breaks my heart to think it must atl die with me! I would give my life cheerfully if I could only get it to him. For it would be my life against thousands; but it breaks my heart to think that i have to die in vain!" There was a look of wild agony on the 111a111s face as he said that. "Comrade, 11 he panted, "do you sup pose you could remember if I told you? Could you manage to get to Shafter?'' And still Hal made not a sound. "Merciful Providence! what a heart you must have!" groaned the man. He turned away with a look of despair; but there was evidently something else on his mind. And he soon turned back toward Hal. "Sir," he whispered, "I don't know what to make of you, for you seem to lack feelings as well as a tongue. nut I'll say what's weighing on my soul, and perhaps you will do this little favor. Per haps when you've saved your own life you won't be quite so selfish-so hard I don't know. But I've got to face my God to-night and I must say this. I've got a wife and three children at home in New York. I don't kuow what under Heaven will become of tiiem, but I want them to know I'm really dead-oh, to save them all the _agony of waiting. I-I'd give all I own just to see them-just--'' The thought was too much for the man, and he broke into his wild sobbing again. It was too much for Hal Maynard also. The man looked up again, grasping him convulsively by the arm. "You won't fail." he cried "Promise me you won't fail. I know you hear me. And for Heaven's sake don't forget my REMEMBER THE MAINE AND PAGE 32
18 STARRY FLAG. name-Henry Thompson; my address is on the records, of course.'' The man stopped to choke down a sob, and then the thought of his duty seemed to get uppermost again. "Do you think," he cried, eagerly, "you could remember a few facts if I tol
S'fARltY FLAG. 19 was then dumb for a fact. He crouched in the corner of the teut eyeing the man just as a captive mouse might have eyed a cat. The other enjoyed bis triumph, which it must be confessed had been cleverly earned. It took no fool to deceive Hal Maynard. "I'll give you the credit for having played your part well,'' laughed the man. "You held out longer than I thought." At this moment the tent flap was pushed aside and the figure of the hated Varez appeared. The lieutenant's face showed the joy he felt and he did not try to hide it. "So you caught him after all!" he said. "Carramba but he was a sly dog." "He died hard," chuckled the other. "But I told you I'd catch him." HI congratulate you," Varez langl1ed. ''The scamp half fooled me; and as for the colonel he had swallowed the whole thing." "I thonght he was really deaf, too, at first," Hal's conquerer replied. "But I cried some, and then he began to listen.'' "Those Yankees must need information pretty badly," the other remarke' By that time Hal, who seldom lost his self-possession, had had time to realize once for all that he was lost, and to re cover a little from the state of he) pless despair and horror into which he been thrown. He made up his mind that if he died it should not be as a coward. These Span iards should not see him tremble. And so he raised his head and returned the colonel's stare. "So you hear me, do you, you villain!" he cried. "Who are you, anyway?" Hal did not answer, simply because he knew it would make the irate old fellow madder. "Why don't you answer me, you Yan kee pig?" he shouted. "Do you think I'm fool enough to believe still that you 're deaf?" "Perhaps his talking to Sancho tired him," laughed Varez. "He don't care to talk any more." "I'll soon make him dumb for a fact!" snapped ol
20 STARRY FLAG. die in it. Garcia's so mad that I shouldn't, do but gather himself together and face wonder if he hung him any minute." his death. That cheering remark was the last that And very soon the color began to come Hal heard as the two went out of the back to his cheeks and the old fire to his tent. "Don't yon let that fellow get away," Varez said to the sentry outside. <'It's worfh your while to watch him." And then Hal was left in silence, except for the tramping of the soldier. They were terrible thought_s that surged up in the young officer's mind as he lay thinking of what had happened. Shame at his failure and the disgrace of it, and still more shame at the fate that was before him. "Oh, what a fool I was!" he groaned, gritting his teeth together. And yet he could not help feeling that though the Spaniard had fooled him, yet it was only by playing upon a part of his nature that Hal had no cause to be ashamed of. As the man had said himself, Hal must have had a heart of stone to resist his appeal; and Hal neither had nor desired that. He felt that where he had failed, no human being could have succeerled. And he soon realized that he had no time to spend in useless repining; the thing was done and could not be helped. He was to die the death of a spy, and that perhaps in less than an hour. So the duty that was before him was to brace himself for the trial, and he felt that would take all his strength of mind for that. And Mr. Sancho may think me a fool," Bal muttered, gripping his hands, "but he shan't think me a coward." He wished that he might be able to get word to his friends to let them know of his fate, but he knew that even that was denied him. He was absolutely hope less, absolutely lost. He had nothing to eyes. Hal had indeed been completely cowed at first by the horror of the sudden discovery. B11t this was an occasion to try a man; the young officer meant to prove equal to it. He had taken 11is life in his 1iands when he came; he had told General Shafter he was not afraid of death, and now he was to prove his words. How long he had to wait he did not know, but he did not think it could be long, for the old Spanish officer was mad as a hornet. Even in his position Hal could not help a smile as he thought of how that old man must feel. He wished that the time might be short, however. If he had had the slightest bit of hope he would have wished for the time to end. But lrnving none he was anxious to have it over with. He had his wish. Perhaps fifteen min utes passed away; and then the young officer's heart was set beating by a heavy tread on the ground outside. It came straight toward the tent; and the flap was again pnshed aside. It was Varez again; and he strode in and took Hal by the arm. "Come," he said, "we are ready for you.'' NICK CARTER IS THE KING OF THEM ALL.
S'.l'ARRY FLAG. 21 CHAPTER VIII. AN UNEXPECTED EVENT. Ha] had 110 doubt that his time had ome, and so he summoned a11 his ener ies together. As the two left the tent Varez glanced t the young man's Hal ki1ew what e was looking for, a trace of fear; he ean that he should not find it. Nor did he; Hal's step was firm and e Jield his head high. Ha1 's hands were still fastened so there as no chance of his resisting; but the paniard kept his sword drawn. Outside the prisoner glanced about him nd saw that he was being led in the irection of the block-house. That building will be the scene of the st of our story, so it wi11 be described the reader. It was a square affair, surrounded by ur lines of trenches, at some distance. t'he space enclosed were encamped 1ree or four hundred soldiers, who were ien guarding the trenches, expecting an tack at any moment. The block-house was evidently meant be the scene of the Jast stand. It was square, low, wooded strnctnre with op holes for rifles and also for four na11 calibre rapid firing guns. Ha1 was enough of a soldier to see that General Shafter had said this was ined a strong position, mounted 011 a hill it was. Those rapid firing guns would terrible execution among the Amerins when they charged. But that fight Ha] knew he would ver live to see; in times like these an my makes quick work of captured spies. Far across the valley to the southeast Hal could see General Shafter's camp; he saw the old flag floating there, and it brought tears to his eyes. He bowed his head for a moment. And then once more he raised it and returned the Spaniard's haughty stare. The two had almost reached the block house before Varez said anything to indicate where they were bound. "I suppose," he said, suddenly, "that you are satisfied to a ban don the deaf and dumb trick now?,, It was said wit!? a sneer, but Hal chose not to notice that. "I am," he said, simply. "Aud you are prepared to confess that you are a spy.'' "lam.,, "And what did you come for?,, '''To get information as to the state of your defences.'' "And who are you?,, "A lieu tenant of cavalry in the United States army,,, was the answer. Varez replied with a sarcasm about that being a nice errand for an officer to come on. "Our officers do not put the hard work on the men," was Hal's retort; and it made the Spaniard flush, for there was truth in what it implied. "However," Hal added, Hthis is no time to bandy words." "Do you know what will become of you?'' demanded the other. "Ido." "What?" "I suppose I will be either hung or shot; and I only hope that you will hurry up about it." "There wil1 be no delay," responded the other promptly. "You have only to state to the court martial what yon stated to me and they will soon fix you." "Court martial!" Hal could not l1elp a slight start, and smile; so his foes were RALLY ROUND THE FLAG-WEAR A FLAG PIN.
' 22 S'fARRY FLAG. going to be civilized and military enough to give him a tiial. Then he saw why he was being taken to the block-house; as he entered he gazed about him anxiously. He found the place deserted, evidently in preparation for the formality. The soldiers were all at mess then. Hal saw that everything inside was in readiness for the expected attack. Ammunition was piled by the heavy guns and the rifles were stacked in the corners. Only the call to quarters was needed to have everything prepared. At present, however, a table had been placed in the centre of the floor and quite a different scene was anticipated. The members of the "court" had not yet eqtered. Varez and his helpless prisoner were alone. In the rear of the block-house there was a small outbuilding, used a sleeping quarters apparently, in time of peace. Into that the Spaniard pushed his prisoner. "Wait there till you're wanted," he said. Hal, thus left alone, thought for an instant of a chance to escape; but he might have known that his enemies would allow none. There was only one window in the little place, and that was barred with iron. Besides that Hal was handcuffed; he merely seated himself upon a chair and waited in silence. But that silence was not long 1111-broken; it was broken in a most unexpected way, too. There came another step in the door way of the block-house and then a voice, one that made Hal give a start, for it was a light, girlish voice. "Good-morning, senor lieutenant; and what are you doing now?" Does any one blame Hal Maynard for getting up and going to the doorway to see who that was; even a handcuffing and the prospect of death could not de prive him of curiosity, and some interec;t in the fair sex. That was certainly a strange place for one to find a girl; Hal wanted to see who it was. He glanced through a crack in the half shut door and saw an unexpected sight indeed. It was a Cuban girl of about eighteen years. She was in a sort of gypsy costume with a short skirt and a tambourine; she had come in dancing, and stood looking at the Spanish officer with a merry laugh playing about her mouth. She was a girl of singular beauty-jet bl:ick hair and eyes, and the rosiest of cheeks; she was certainly an unexpected vision to Bal. Apparently she was unexpected by the lieutenant also; for he looked at her as sternly as a man can look at a beautiful girl. "Wel11 senor lieutenant," she re peated, with a merry laugh, "what are you up to now ?1 "Nita1 said the other, "you must not come in here.' 1 "Must not indeed retorted the girl with a sly IOok and a ringing laugh. "When my senor is more of a gallant he will learn that young ladies don't like to have anybody say must to them. And Pm not going to be ordered about as if I were a common soldier. Because I'm not a soldier, so now! And when you say must I'm going to say won't!" Which pretty speech the girl ended with a coquettish pout. "You didn't talk to me that way when you were.making love to 111e1 she added. "And I don't like you a bit when you're cross. 1 The girl's black eyes danced merrily as she spoke; and it was plain that Lieu ten-NICK CARTER IS THE PRINCE OF ALL.
STARRY FLAG. 23 ant Varez abandoned his idea of exerting authority. "Now, Nita,'' he said, "I won't be cross, but you must honestly go out." "And pray, sir, why?" "Because, Nita, there's going to be a court martial.,, "What's that?" "They are going to try a spy." "Jn deed ; and mayn't I see him tried?" "No, Nita, tpere are going to be other officers; and the colonel will be here." "I'm not afraid of the old colonel. He's ugly." "Carramba He might liear you!" "I don't care. I'll tell him about it when he comes in. I know what's the atter, though ; you want me to keep idden away for fear I might fall in love ith the colonel. Ha, ha !-you 're jeal-The girl laughed merrily and pointed ne finger at the officer. Then she exeuted half a dozen steps of a graceful ance, shaking the tambourine and toss-ng her beautiful hair about. "You're jealous!" she cried again. I now you. Ho, ho!" "You haven't given me much to be ealous of," said Varez glumly. "Nor will I," was the response, "if ou 're cross to me and won't let me do hat I want." "But what do you want?" "I wanted to see you; but now I don't are whether I do or not, for I'm mad." Another }'tetty pout at the Spaniard. arez did not seem able to escape the harm of those glances, though it was lain that he was anxious to get rid of is fair visitor. "Now, Nita," he began again, "I romise to come see you the moment this ing is over with.'' "Humph!" said the girl. "I don't doubt it. You're usually anxious enough to be with me. You wouldn't like me to send yon away." "You did it," said Varez promptly. "A nice way to make love indeed!" retorted she. "I have many privileges which you haven't. And I choose to have my way just now." Evidently the lieutenant had made up his mind that she'd have it whether he liked it or not. So .he merely seated him self on the table and watched her. He had .certainly an interesting subject for observation; for a more vivacious and attractive countenance than that lively young girl's Hal had never seen. ks for her she seated hersef on the table, but carefully keeping it between her and the officer. There she sat and smiled at him. "I find you quite different from yesterday," said she. "Yesterday you were all smiles and good nature. I didn't thin1' you'd change so soon." "I haven't chauged, Nita," said the other, with a heavy sigh. But Miss Nita only made a face, and slid farther down the table. Evidently she had not come for love-making then. "No, sir," she said, "that ugly colo nel might come; and that dreadful court. Who is it you 're going to try?" "An American." "Ahem! Definite! Is he young t'' "Very." "And good-looking?'' "Fairly so." "Indeed! how interesting. And what's to be do11e with him?" "Hang him." The young girl's face turned pale. "Santa Maria!" she cried holding 11p her hands. "What a heartless man you are. Where is he?'' "In the other room there." WAR BUTTONS AND BADGES FREE-SEE PAGE 32.
24 STARRY FLAG. The coqttettish young lady's pity all vanisht::d at that announcement; her curi osity was aroused. "Qh !" she cried. "And may I see him "?" Apparently that question was asked merely for form's sake-for the girl did not wait for an answer. She darted toward the door where Hal was. "Nita!" cried Varez sharply. The girl faced about. "Sir!" she demanded mocking the other severely with a cleverness that was simply irresistible. It was so to the Spaniard, for he changed his tone. "Now, dearest," he said, "you mustn't go in there." "And why not?" Varez had caught her by the arm as if to hold her back, as she turned and glanced up at his face he slipped his arm about her waist. But Miss Nita very promptly pushed him away. "No, sir!" she cried. "And why not, Nita?" "If I can't have my way you can't have yours.'' "But what is your way?" asked Varez anxiously. He evidently seemed to think that the converse of the girl's proposition was also true, that if she had her way he might have his. "I told you once," said the girl, "I wish you would not oppose me. And I want to see that prisoner.'' Varez yielded. "Come op," said he. And still keeping her hand in his he started to lead her toward the door But the coquettish miss wHhdrew her hand. "Thank you," said she. "I can alone.'' "No, Nita--" began Varez. But she interrupted him instant! pottting again. "There, you are saying no again !11 s cried. ''Now I told you I didn't like th and I won't have it, sir. I'm going tht::re and see that prisoner all by myself. And her black eyes shone; she fold her arms in the prettiest pose of defian And all the while there was a mer smile twitching about the corners of h month as she observed the officer's p plexity. As for him he could not take his ey away from that beautiful face. "Now, Nita," he protested, "I cat let you--" "Ahem! First it was won't. Now i can't. And pray why?" Varez hesitated. "It's against orderc;;--" he began. "Orders indeed! If I were an officer bet nobody would dare give me ordet Aud that's not it at all, sir. That's i1 the reason." "Pray, then, what is it?" "It's that foolish jealousy of yon You think I can't ever set:: anybody wit out their fallingin love with me--'' "You can't, Nita." "So now you try flattery, do yot Indeed! But you say this young man handsome. And you're not handsom You see, so you're jealous." Varez looked so uncomfortable at th remark that the girl broke into a 111er peal of laughter that rang through t block-house. "So he's mad now!" she cried "0 lieutenant! Dear, dear, mad with m How shall I make friends again? I thi1 I'll have to give him a kiss.'' The wisdom of that suggestion was a NICK GARTER'S BOYS ARE DEVOTED TO HIM.
STARRY FLAG. ent in an instant; all of Varez s annoy e vanished at the: words. e sprang toward the girl. 'Nita I" he cried eagerly. iss Nita, who evidently knew how play her part, waite d jus t long enough the officer to c atch her by the wai s t. d then she proceeded lo protest. 'No, sir!" she cried. "No, sir!" 'Nita," pleaded Varez auxiously. ut the girl was obdurate. 'No, sir. Not now!" she said. arez noticed the accent on now. 'Then when, Nita?" he cried. 'Just as soon as you let me have my y .'' nd that stroke won. Varez capitu ed. "Y 011 may have it, dearest,'' he said. "Ahem!" laughed the girl merrily. hat is the way I want my lover always talk." And then, assuming a grave and mili y bearing, glaring steri:ily at the 1ie11-ant, she raised one of her beautiful s. "Now, sir, for the test of your obedi ce. Lieutenant Vatez I" Varez, entering into the humor of the 'ng( saluted. ''Here,'' sai
STARRY FLAG. CHAPTER IX. 11MY PRISONERS, CABALLEROS." The girl had a key; and she had unlocked the handcuffs. "I think it's a shame!" she cried. "You're so mnch better looking than my lieutenant. And the idea of hanging you! Bah! I don't believe you're a spy at all." And then, as she ceased, she whispered to Hai-words that made him gasp. "Hal Maynard!" "Why--" he panted. "How--" girl; she, for she still meant to keep u the role of coquettry, shrank back. "Dou 't you keep your promises, Nita?" asked Varez eagerly. He took hold of her hand ; but jus then the little tete-a-tete was interrupte in a way which made Varez frown. He heard a hea'tly step outside. "The colonel!" he muttered. "Ho, ho!" laughed the girl. 1'Then I must run." And before Varez cou Id say a word, she darted outside. She bad scarcely disappeared before the tall figure of Colonel Garcia appeared in the doorway. There was a smile on his face as he looked in. "Ssh! For your life! Don't make a "You have a pretty visitor, lienten-move till I signal yon. Take this!" ant," he said. And Hal felt something cold shoved Varez turned it away with a laugh. into his hand. He grasped it. "Yes," he said. "I deserve to be con-It was a revolver! gratulated, and envied.'' "Poor boy!" cried the girl. "Tell me, And that was all that was said of the are you a spy? What! You won't answer subject. Apparently there was nothing me? Humph! You needn't glare at me, unusnal in ?panish officers receiving fair I'm sure for I wouldu't hang you." visitors. There was a moment's silence. Another man cutered just then. It was "I tell you what I'll do. I think I'll the third member of the court martial. make my ]jeutenant set you free." Hal, who, it may be believed, was peer-And then with another shake of her ing out anxiously, saw that it was none tambourine and a merry laugh she danced other than Sancho, his deceiver. out of the room. He started as he saw that. And he "He's sulky,'' she cried to Varez. gripped his revolver like death. "He's just like you and I don)t like him T hat they were the only ones who a bit. But I think it's a shame to hang were coming was evident to Hal from him though.'' what the senior officer said: Varez laughed softly. "We are all ready for business," he "So you didn't fall in love with him remarked. "And let's have it over with after all, did you?)' he smiled. in a few moments." "No, and so you needn't be jealous," As he said that he laid his sword on said the girl. the table, and took a seat. "And now, I suppose you're trying to Sancho did likewise; he was now no get me to let him go," laughed the longer an American prisoner, but a other. "And you won't keep your promSpanis11 captain in full uniform. ise until I do." "We will stop for no As he said that he stepped toward the said the colonel, abruptly. "I must NICK CARTER, THE TERROR OF CRIMINALS
STARR FLAG. 27 ke haste. Lieutenant, where is the isoner ?'' ''In the other room, sir." ''Handcuffed and secured?'' "Yes, sir." "And what have you made out of m.,, ''He bas confessed.'' "Oho! The scamp! And he talks, w, does he? Well, then all we have to is to hear him say so, gentlemen of e court martial.'' That last was said with a smile. The d man had evidently recovered 11is good umor now. As he spoke, Lieutenant Varez turned d walked toward the place of Hal's ncealment. The moment had evidently come, en. There no signal from the girl, ut Hal W'lS prepared to act, none the SS. What were his emotions at that critical stant may be imagined, from the deepst despair he bad suddenly been raised o the wildest joy, and that by an incient as sudden as it was unexpected. ow he was crouching behind that open oor gripping his revolver and holding is breath. There was not a particle of fear in his eart; it was all resolution and daring. For he felt like a free man now. Com ared with his former state, he was ineed free. And his lips were compressed in a way hat boded ill for the members of that nformal court martial. To escape Hal ould not hope, but he meant that at east they should die with him. And he meant that Varez should go rst, and then Captain Sancho, the most unning of them all. The three had not of course the faintst suspicion of the startling scene that was before.them-no more than the victim of the lightning stroke has warning of the bolt about to fall. They were all of them pleased and smiling; all of them had laid their weapons upon the table at which they were sitting. It was a matter of only a second or two for Varez to walk to the door; but at times like that the mind works quickly. Hal had time to think of what he was going to do, and time left to think what part in this drama the girl his rescuer meant to take. And then he heard the lieutenant's voice: "Come, Mr. Deaf Man, we wait for you." Hal cocked his re\olver silently, and then took one step. But he did not take a second. For at that rr.oment he heard the merry jingle of the girl's tambourine. She was coming! Hal started back, half in surprise. What part could she have to play in the scene that was to follow? As for the lieutenant he whirled about; he was just in time to see the fair gypsy come dancing in. "Nita!" he cried, in amazement. But the girl acted as if she did not hear him. There was still the same merry smile upon her face, and she sang some rollicking song as she entered. And though the other two officers stareci at her she kept on until she reached the centre of the room. There she stopped and 5azed about her. Colonel Garcia rose to his feet, at the same time Varez darted at the girl. "Nita!" he cried. "You are mad!" "She is indeed," said the elder officer, sternly. "Young woman, have the good ness to leave us." But the cause of this commotion lost A BUTTON OR BADGE FREE-SEE LAST PAGE.
28 STARRY FLAG. not a bit of her self-possession; she fairly beamed upon the officers. "Senors," she said, "I thought you might like to see a dance. Look!" And again she broke into her wild song and began her graceful dance. Varez grasped her by the arm. "Go!" he cried. "Go!" Hal Maynard was almost as much amazed by the actions of the girl as Varez was; he could not see what was to be gained by her presence. But he saw a moment later; for as the officer seized her the girl leaped back. And she struck the table with a crash. She sent it tumbling over, and with it the officers' weapons went flying across the room! And at the same instant the girl turned toward Hal. "Now!" she cried. "Mira!" And with one leap, Hal bounded through the door. "My prisoners, caballeros!" he cried iri triumph. And he leveled his revolver at the three. CHAPTER XI. SIGNAL TO SHAFTER. Oh! what a moment of triumph that was! Hal Maynard's heart was fairly bounding and his eyes were gleaming. As for the three Spaniards, who can picture their consternation? They were almost too much horrified to move. Of the three Varez alone had the slight est idea what this could mean. He knew -he-that "Nita" had played him this trick. Hal did not want to do that; Varez kue it, and so did Ni ta. Yes; for it was the girl's quickne that sealed the officer's fate. She saw H about to fire; but she was nearer to tl1 swords than Varez. And she made a leap for them au snatched up one; as the lieutenat stooped and stretched out his hand he fel the point of it at his breast. "Quidada !'' cried the girl. "Back!'' And there was 110 love in that voice, n hesitation; it was fierce resolution, eve hatred. And the Spaniard staggered bac with a hiss of rage. A.s for the other two, they had n moved; it was too late a second afte ward for the girl snatched out a revolv from under het jacket. And the thre were then prisoners indeed. The swiftness with which those tw worked was born of the desferate per of their situation. Not a word was ne essary; each knew what to do. Hal stepped to the door and swung to; in a second more l1e had it bolted fa as iron and steel could bolt it. That shut out the possibility of the being seen, and then while Hal covere the prisoners the girl hastily gathered u the weapons and put them out of reach. "Now, senors," said Hal, calml} "only a little more. There is rope in th corner, Nita." The girl 1s quick eye had already see it and she had sprung toward it. Whe she snatched it up she went toward Vare first. "Hands behind your back, senor, she said, with a smile that made t Spaniard's blood boil. And with an oath of rage, }1e made a "Dog!" he cried. "I tell you--" leap for his weapons. "You tell her one word more and I wi Hal's revolver was aimed at him, but stick you on his sword," said Hal, caln to fire would mean to give the alarm. ly. "It will make noise, either." The Nick Carter Weekly Contains The Best Detective Stories Written.
, STARRY FLAG. 29 The man fairly fumed with rage; but had to submit. "You are prisoners, anyway," he arled. "It will do you no good." "We will try it, anyhow," was Hal's spouse. Nita surprised him by the swiftness 0 the deftness with which she tied that cer's hands ; then, wagging her head him with the mischievous air she wore well, she commanded: "Down, sir! Sit down." And so she tied his feet. Then she stepped toward the horrified olonel Garcia. "Pardon, senor," she said. "The igencies of war, you know. It is not ap year but I shall ask you for your and-both, if you please." "I declare," Hal muttered as he atched her, "if she keeps on smiling ke that I shall be more in love than arez. '' The girl had quite a sense of humor, s the reader has doubtless seen. She had chance to give it full vent while she was ying up that dignified old colonel. It ust have been an unpleasant minute for he colonel. And then there was only Captain ancho left. Of all of them Hal May11ard njoyed that most. "Senor," he said, with fine sarcasm, 'you may weep in earnest now." Having seen all three safely bound al put the revolver in his belt, and the irl laid down her sword. The two turned nd stared at each other. "What next?" inquired she. "More orlds to conquer, Lieutenant Hal?" "One thing first," said Hal. "Tell me ho you are and how you know my The girl laughed one of her merriest laughs, and then she came close to Hal nd gazed into his. face. "Do you mean," she asked, "you do not know me yet?'' Hal stared at her; he felt then, as he had felt once before, that somewhere he had seen that face It looked like:: some one he knew. But he could not think. He shook his head and the young girl shook hers in return. "Then I shall not tell you," she said "Wait until it is o ver.'' ''What is over?'' "Until we are free; we are still 111 the enemy's hands." "Yes," said Hal, "we are." He bent his thoughts to tl1e problem. How were these two in that solitary block-house to defend themselves against four hundred Spaniards? "We must fight some time," said the girl. "I will do my share. lJ "Can you shoot?" "I can." "Very well; the odds are terrible, but we will get ready, and fight them now." "One thing more," said she. "We might have help. The Amer--" She said no more; for Hal started back as if he had been shot. "Great heavens!" he gasped, "I forgot.'' "What's the matter?" cried the girl. Hal was calm again in an instant more. "It is nothing," he said. "I have thought of something. And we are safe." "Safe! What do you mean? What is it?" Hal said nothing, but he set to work to make everything ready; the girl watching him eagerly helped him lay the tifles opposite the loopholes, examining the magazines to see if they were loaded. The heavy guns were loaded with can ister, as Hal noticed with pleasure; that was all that was to be done. There was a little iadder leading to a trap door in the roof; Hal ascended it YOU SHOULD GET A WAR BADGE AT ONCE.
30 STARRY FLAG. rapidly, and saw the Spanish flag waving above. "I can't reach the staff," 11e &aid. "It'll be rusty to go out. But I can fix it. ,, With the words he drew his levolver; he took but one second 's aim and then fired. He cut the halliards. And as the flag came sailing down Hal calmly closed the trap door and barred it. "It is done,,, he said, descending. "They will come.)) And his statement was substantiated by what happened a second later. There were astonished shouts among the Spaniards outside, and then the boom of a distant gun. "Americanos !" shouted some one outside. and Hal merely smiled. Shafter had kept his promise. CHAPTER XII. THE CHARG:K. Hal's shot and the falling of the Span ish flag was a signal for the wildest excitement. Its effect upon the Spaniards may be imagined by the reader. There were wild shouts from a hundred throats, and then as the American gun across the valley boomed out there came a heavy knock upon the door. "Colonel Garcia!" roared a voice. "To arms! The Yankees are coming." The block-house gave never a sound. "Santa Maria!" roared the man. "VV here's the colonel?" His voice was drowned by the rattle of a drum. Hal, peering out through the loopholes, could see the excited Span iards flying about in every direction. By that time there was a whole mob of them trying to get inside. They were ponnding savagely at the door and yell ing like maniacs. But Hal kuew that the door was built to sand a siege; he stood in the centre of the room with a calm smile upon his face, waiting for the time to begin. It was not long before the Spaniards dragged up a log to use as a battering mm; and the young lieutenant promptly seized a rifle and stepped to one of the portholes. He opened fire into the mass of men; the shouts and shrieks were redoubled. And some one must have understood, t11e11, what was wrong. "Por dios It's that spy! He's killed the colonel!" Hal's swift fire was too much for the Spaniards, who fled in every directioJ:l-1 their sho11ts, however, were suddenly taken up by the girl. "Here they come," she cried. "Santa Maria! the Americans l" The firing from the American camp had developed by that time into a can nonade. Apparently General Shafter himself must have seen that flag fall, and as he said he must have been all ready to attack. For the girl's shouts were caused by the fact that out of the woods where they lrnd been camped came line after line of the infantry, sweeping across the valley straight toward the Spanish block-house. What was the perplexity of the Spaniarils may be imagined. were be tween two fires. "Take the block-house!" shouted some. "To the trenches!" shouted others. Meantime a11 were rushing about wild-ly; old Garcia and Sancho were both pris oners and the soldiers had no leader to command; what was the state of mind of the captured officers in the. block-house scarcely needs to be told. As for Hal, he spent his time emptying one rifle after another into tJ1e Spaniards; he was a splendid shot, and he had a fair EVERYONE, EXCEPT CRIMINALS, LIKE NICK CARTER.
. S'.t.'ARRY FLAG. 31 arget. He had not time to glance at the irl, but she was doing/her share. Meanwhile the American cannonading ontinued and on swept the troops, their fficers leading them on 'up the hill; their ags waving before them. They must have been surprised at the ittle resistance they met with. Not once ere the heavy guns fired until they were alf way up the hill. Then as the Span ards crowded into the trenches Hal prang to one of the guns and trained it n them. The effect of that shot was frightful; t was followed an instant later by nother. And the two completely demor1,?:ed the Spaniards. The Americans had not had a mile to hcirge; by that time the foremost line ad almost reached the torenches, pouring withering fire into the enemy as they ame 011. And Hal's shots completed the work; he Spaniards were no cowards, but they ould not stand before such a double at ack as that; they scattered in every irection, and the Americans came dash ng into the defenses, cheeri11g madly. Oh, what a moment of triumph that as; the moment Hal saw that his ene ies were in full retreat he rushed to the oor and unbolted it. When the first of his comrades arrived they found him at the door to welcome them, his face and form covered with smoke and blood, but wild with joy and triumph. And there was another at his side; Hal turned to glance at his fair companion. His consternation may be imagined; the Cuban girl had disappeared! And Hal found himself gazing into the laughing eyes of Juan Ramirez! Hal gasped for breath. "Good heavens!" he cried, "was that you?" "It looks like it," said Juan, bttrsting into laughter. ''In Heaven's name! how did you manage that disguise?'' "Oh, it was easy," Juan laughed. "Did you fall in love with me, too?"But the two friends had no time to dis cuss the matter then. For they were seized by their wildly-delighted comrades, wrapped in two of their country's flags, and borne in tdumph out before the vic torious regiments, the heroes of the day. (THE END.] The next number (16) of Starry Flag will contain, "For Spanish Gold; or, HaJls R'ii
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