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The Boy Allies in Great Peril Or, With the Italian Army in the Alps   By: (1887-)

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Or, With the Italian Army in the Alps



Author of "The Boy Allies at Liege," "The Boy Allies on the Firing Line." "The Boy Allies with the Cossacks," "The Boy Allies in the Trenches."




"Did you ever see such a mob, Hal?"

The speaker was an American lad of some seventeen years of age. He stopped in his walk as he spoke and grasped his companion by the arm. The latter allowed his gaze to rove over the thousands upon thousands of people who thronged the approach to the king's palace at Rome, before he replied:

"Some mob, Chester; some mob."

"Looks like a real army could be recruited from this bunch," continued the first speaker.

"Rather," agreed the other. "And unless I am mightily mistaken that is what will be done. Most of them are soldiers anyhow, you know."

"True. I had forgotten we were in Italy, where military service is compulsory. Then you think that Italy has at last decided to enter the war?"

"I certainly do. The Chamber of Deputies has done its best to keep Italy from becoming involved, but the voice of the people must be heeded sooner or later. I believe the time has come."

"I am sure I hope so," said Chester. "Italy's army, entirely ready for any eventuality, should turn the balance in favor of the Allies."

"And I believe it will," said Hal.

"Do you believe the announcement of a state of war between Italy and Austria will be formally made to day?"

"I do and so, apparently, do the others here," and Hal swept his arm about him in a comprehensive gesture. "Hear them shout!"

For a mighty cheer had suddenly risen upon the air. Wildly excited Italians men and women from all walks of life seemed to have gone suddenly mad. A deafening roar filled the air. Caps and hats, canes, and other articles ascended and descended in a dense cloud.

"Can you doubt, after that, that Italy is for war?" asked Hal, when at last he could make himself heard.

"I guess not," replied Chester grimly. "But why should the crowd have gathered in front of the palace rather than before the Chamber of Deputies?"

"You forget that the premier is closeted with the king," returned Hal. "In all probability, the first word of a definite step will emanate from the palace, though unofficially, of course."

"I see," said Chester. "Well look there, Hal!"

"What's the matter?" demanded the latter, eying his companion in some surprise.

Chester seized his friend's arm with one hand and with the other pointed directly ahead. Hal gazed in the direction indicated. He saw at once what had caused Chester's sudden exclamation.

Not five yards away, right in the center of the dense crowd, but still in view of the two boys, stood an Italian army officer in full uniform. He was gazing straight ahead toward the palace steps, paying no heed to those who pushed and jostled him. He stood erect, with arms folded upon his breast.

Even as the two boys looked, an arm came from behind him, and reaching across his shoulder, a hand crept cautiously into the pocket of the officer's military cloak, which he had thrown open because of its warmth.

Hal uttered a low exclamation and was about to step forward when there came a sudden shout from the crowd, which surged in about him, cutting off his view of the Italian officer. For a single instant Hal turned his eyes toward the palace and there took one look at a second uniformed figure, who stood upon the top step and waved his arms about violently.

"I guess war has come," the boy muttered to himself, as he took a step forward and elbowed his way toward the spot where the other Italian officer stood.

Chester came close behind his friend.

By dint of hard pushing and shoving, which drew ugly remarks from some of the bystanders upon whose feet they trod, the boys at last came to the spot they sought. They had made good time and the invisible owner of the hand that had explored the officer's pocket was just withdrawing it... Continue reading book >>

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