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The Secret Of The Army Aeroplane
by [?]

“Yes,” said my friend, Ray Raymond, as a grim smile crossed his typically English face, looking round the chambers which we shared together, though he never had occasion to practise, though I unfortunately had, “it is a very curious affair indeed.”

“Tell us the whole facts, Ray,” urged Vera Vallance, the pretty fair-haired daughter of Admiral Sir Charles Vallance, to whom he was engaged.

“Well, dear, they are briefly as follows,” he replied, with an affectionate glance at her. “It is well known that the Germans are anxious to get hold of our new aeroplane, and that the secret of it is at present locked in the inventor’s breast. Last Tuesday a man with his moustache brushed up the wrong way alighted at Basingstoke station and enquired for the refreshment-room. This leads me to believe that a dastardly attempt is about to be made to wrest the supremacy of the air from our grasp!” Immediately I swooned.

“And even in the face of this the Government denies the activity of German spies in England!” I exclaimed bitterly as soon as I had recovered consciousness.

“Jacox,” said my old friend, “as a patriot it is none the less my duty to expose these miscreants. To-morrow we go to Basingstoke.”

Next Thursday, then, saw us ensconced in our private sitting-room at the Bull Hotel, Basingstoke. On our way from the station I had noticed how ill-prepared the town was to resist invasion, and I had pointed this out bitterly to my dear old friend, Ray Raymond.

“Yes,” he remarked, grimly; “and it is simply infested with spies. Jack, my surmises are proving correct. There will be dangerous work afoot to-night. Have you brought your electric torch with you?”

“Since that Rosyth affair, I never travel without it,” I replied, as I stood with my back to the cheap mantel-shelf so common in English hotels.

The night was dark, therefore we proceeded with caution as we left the inn. The actions of Ray Raymond were curious. As we passed each telegraph pole he stopped and said grimly, “Ah, I thought so”; and drew his revolver. When we had covered fifteen miles we looked at our watches by the aid of our electric torches and discovered that it was time to get back to the hotel unless we wished our presence, or rather absence, to be made known to the German spies; therefore we returned hastily.

Next morning Ray was recalled to town by an urgent telegram, therefore I was left alone at Basingstoke to foil the dastardly spies. I stayed there for thirteen weeks, and then went with my old friend to Grimsby, he having received news that a German hairdresser, named Macdonald, was resident in that town.

“My dear Jack,” said my friend Ray Raymond, his face assuming the sphinx-like expression by which I knew that he had formed some theory for the destruction of his country’s dastardly enemies, “to-night we shall come to grips with the Teuton!”

“And yet,” I cried, “the Government refuses to admit the activity of German spies in England!”

“Ha!” said my friend grimly.

He opened a small black bag and produced a dark lantern, a coil of strong silk rope, and a small but serviceable jemmy. All that burglarious outfit belonged to my friend!

At this moment the pretty fair girl to whom he was engaged, Vera Vallance, arrived, but returned to London by the next train.

At ten o’clock we proceeded cautiously to the house of Macdonald the hairdresser, whom Ray had discovered to be a German spy!

“Have you your electric torch with you?” inquired my dear old college friend.

“I have,” I answered grimly.

“Good! Then let us enter!”

“You mean to break in?” I cried, amazed at the audacity of my friend.

“Bah!” he said. “Spies are always cowards!”

Therefore we knocked at the door. It was opened by two men, the elder of whom gave vent to a quick German imprecation. The younger had a short beard.