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Title: The Boy Allies with Pershing in France - Over the Top at Chateau Thierry
Author: Hayes, Clair W. (Clair Wallace)
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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[Illustration: Hal acted quickly. "Sergeant Bowers!" he called sharply.
"Take a dozen men and capture that house!"]




Over the Top at Chateau Thierry



Author of
"The Boy Allies With the Army Series"


A. L. Burt Company
New York


                             THE BOY ALLIES
            (Registered in the United States Patent Office)
                          WITH THE ARMY SERIES

                           By Clair W. Hayes

        The Boy Allies at Liege or, Through Lines of Steel

        The Boy Allies on the Firing Line or, Twelve Days
          Battle along the Marne

        The Boy Allies with the Cossacks or, A Wild Dash over
          the Carpathians

        The Boy Allies in the Trenches or, Midst Shot and Shell
          along the Aisne

        The Boy Allies in Great Peril or, With the Italian Army
          in the Alps

        The Boy Allies in the Balkan Campaign or, The Struggle
          to Save a Nation

        The Boy Allies on the Somme or, Courage and Bravery

        The Boy Allies at Verdun or, Saving France from the

        The Boy Allies under the Stars and Stripes or, Leading
          the American Troops to the Firing Line

        The Boy Allies with Haig in Flanders or, The Fighting
          Canadians of Vimy Ridge

        The Boy Allies with Pershing in France or, Over the Top
          at Chateau-Thierry

        The Boy Allies with the Great Advance or, Driving the
          Enemy through France and Belgium

        The Boy Allies with Marshal Foch or, The Closing Days
          of The Great World War.


Copyright, 1919
By A. L. Burt Company



                               CHAPTER I

                            IN NO MAN'S LAND

Hal Paine and Chester Crawford crouched low in a shell hole in No Man's
Land. All morning they had been there and the day had worn on now into
the afternoon.

Two hundred yards west of their refuge were the American lines.
Sprinters such as Hal and Chester could easily have covered the distance
in half a minute; and it was not for want of courage that so far they
had failed to make the effort. It was plain common sense that kept them
in their present position.

On all sides of them--between the American lines and the most advanced
German positions less than two hundred yards from the spot where the
opening of this story finds the two boys--the ground was dotted with
shell holes similar to the ones in which Hal and Chester found

Less than fifty yards due north of Hal and Chester was a second
inhabited shell hole. From this four German infantrymen had amused
themselves during the day by taking occasional shots at the two lads
when either exposed himself over the top of their refuge. This was the
reason that Hal and Chester, once in the comparative safety of the shell
hole, had elected to remain there rather than to risk a dash toward the
American lines.

The same reasoning kept the Germans in their refuge. They were not
willing to risk a shot from their adversaries by a dash toward the
German positions.

It was the twentieth day of March, 1918. Although neither Hal nor
Chester knew it then, it was the eve of what was to prove Germany's
second grand attempt to sweep back the Allied and American troops and
march triumphantly into Paris.

A warm afternoon sun shone down into the shell hole where Hal and
Chester were awaiting the coming of darkness, when, they had decided,
they would make an effort to reach their own lines.

"Guess the Boches are not enjoying themselves any better than we are,"
Hal said, as he pulled his cap farther down over his eyes.

"I imagine they're fretting a bit worse," agreed Chester. "You know the
Hun doesn't bear up very well under adversity."

"Adversity?" grinned Hal. "It's the sun they are trying to bear up under

"Well, whatever it is," declared Chester, somewhat nettled, "I don't
believe they like it very well."

"I don't like it either, but what am I going to do about it?" Hal wanted
to know.

"You might try a little sprint," Chester suggested.

"Not much. I feel reasonably secure here and I think I'll stick awhile.
The thing that mystifies me, though, is why the Germans haven't sent
relief to our friends in the next hole."

"On the same reasoning," said Chester, "why hasn't Captain O'Neil made
an effort to reach us?"

Hal shrugged his shoulders.

"Guess he is playing for the safety of the greatest number," was his
reply. "If he tried to rescue us the Germans also would probably advance
and that would mean a battle. My idea is that Captain O'Neil has been
ordered to avoid that right now!"

"All the same," said Chester, "they are bound to know we're here, and it
seems to me they could do something for us."

"Don't croak," said Hal. "We're not running this war, you know, and I
guess it's a good thing. Anyhow, we've just as much chance to get out
alive as those fellows over there," and he waved an arm in the direction
of the shell hole occupied by the Germans.

This act of indiscretion almost proved costly. When Hal's arm showed
above the top of the shell hole a German rifle cracked in the distance.
Hal heard the whine of the bullet as it passed within a fraction of an
inch of his hand.

"Guess I'd better hug down inside here," he said calmly. "Fritz almost
nicked me that time."

The boys became silent. Every moment or two, one or the other,
exercising extreme caution, peered toward the enemy, for they did not
wish to be caught napping, should the Germans, knowing that the odds
were two to one in their favor, decide to rush them.

Chester looked at his watch.

"Almost five o'clock," he said. "It'll be dark soon and then we can get
away from here."

"Guess Fritz will be as glad as we will," Hal commented.

As it developed, however, the lads were not to get back to their own
lines so easily.

The particular section of the great battle zone in which the lads found
themselves when this story opens was perhaps ten miles south and west of
St. Quentin, at that time in German hands. The river Oise flowed some
five miles to the east and also was held by the enemy.

Darkness now drew on apace and Hal and Chester, making sure that their
rifles and side arms were in perfect condition, prepared to quit their

"Better wait a few minutes," said Chester. "It's not quite dark. We
would still make pretty fair targets on level ground."

"It won't be dark enough to cover us anyhow," Hal replied. "See the

Chester gazed aloft.

"By Jove! That's what I call pretty tough luck," he said. "Well, we'll
just have to make the most of it; that's all."

"The sooner we start, then, the sooner we'll get there," declared Hal.
"Guns ready?"

"Ready," was Chester's brief response.

"Then let's be moving. Follow me."

Hal got to his feet, but, with a cry, as suddenly dropped down again.

"Hit, Hal?" cried Chester, as he stooped over his chum.

"No," replied Hal.

"What's the matter then?"

"Stick out your nose and have a look," returned Hal.

Chester did so, and what he saw was this:

Twenty-five yards away, and advancing rapidly, were the four Germans who
so recently had occupied the neighboring shell hole. They were firing as
they advanced and a bullet sped close to Chester.

"Quick with your rifle, Hal!" the boy cried, and bringing his own weapon
to his shoulder regardless of his exposed position, he pulled the

One of the approaching foes staggered slightly, but he did not fall. The
advancing Germans pumped rifle bullets the faster.

"We'll have to stop them or we are done for," muttered Hal, as he stood
erect in the shell hole.

Despite the hail of bullets that flew about him, Hal was untouched as he
took careful aim and fired at the nearest German.

The man stumbled, threw up his arms and flung his rifle a dozen yards
away; then, with a cry, he pitched forward on his face.

"One," said Hal quietly.

A bullet brushed the boy's cheek, leaving a stream of red in its wake,
but Hal did not quail.

Again his rifle spoke and a second German went to the ground.

"Odds even now," Hal called to Chester. "Let's get these other two."

Without waiting for a reply, he leaped from the shell hole and dashed

Chester, who had been unfortunate in his marksmanship and so far had not
accounted for one of the enemy, followed Hal closely.

The two remaining Germans, now realizing that they had lost the
advantage of two-to-one odds, halted in their impetuous dash forward,
turned and ran. By this time Hal and Chester were close behind them and
the former shouted:


For answer the Germans only ran the faster.

"Well," Hal muttered to himself, "if you won't, you won't."

Again he raised his rifle and fired.

A third German dropped to the ground.

Chester, close behind the remaining foe, also cried a command to
surrender, but the man ran on.

Loath to shoot the man from behind, Chester sprinted and caught up with
him. With his rifle in his right hand, he laid his left on the German's

"Halt!" he cried.

The German needed no further urging. He came to an abrupt stop and
raised his hands.

"We might as well take this fellow back with us," said Hal, as he
approached at that moment.

"Right you are," agreed Chester. "We can't return without some kind of a
memento of our trip. A live souvenir is about the best thing I can think

"You've got me," mumbled the German at this juncture, "but I want to
tell you that before another twenty-four hours have passed, my loss will
be repaid with interest."

"Wonder if he knows anything, Hal?" questioned Chester.

"Guess he's not so big that the German high command is tipping him off
to all their plans," said Hal. "He's angry and wants to talk. That's
about all."

And still it wasn't all; and had the lads had the foresight to report
the words of their prisoner, action might have been taken that would
have nipped the second German offensive in the bud.

With no further word to their prisoner, the lads made off in the
semi-darkness for the American lines. These they reached in safety.

But hardly had they passed within the lines when a violent cannonading
broke out from the German front.

"Sounds as though they were going to start something," said Chester.
"Maybe our prisoner knows something after all."

"Oh, I guess not," replied Hal, and once again passed by an opportunity.

Half an hour later, their prisoner having been turned over to Captain
O'Neil, the lads sought their own little dugout and much-needed repose.

                               CHAPTER II


Hal Paine and Chester Crawford, in spite of the fact that the United
States had not declared war on Germany until April of 1917, already had
seen virtually four years of fighting in Europe.

They had been in Berlin when the European conflagration broke out and
had been with the Allied armies almost from the first.

The lads had seen active service with the Belgian, British, French,
Italian and Russian armies and, through their courage and bravery, had
won captaincies in the British army.

When the United States entered the war, Hal and Chester were among the
officers sent back to America to help train the young men in the various
officers' training camps. When they returned again to the fighting front
with the first contingent of American troops to join the Allies, it was
as first lieutenants, U. S. A.

Through their courage and resourcefulness, both lads had won the praise
of Marshal Joffre, commander of the French forces, in the early days of
the war, and of Sir Douglas Haig, the British commander-in-chief. They
had also rendered invaluable service to the Allied cause upon the
request of General Pershing, in command of the American Expeditionary

Times had changed greatly since the first campaign, when the German
armies advanced to the very doors of Paris soon after war was declared.
With America sending thousands of men each month to reinforce the armies
of France and Great Britain, it appeared that the Allies soon would have
the necessary numerical superiority to drive the enemy out of France and
Belgium for all time, and to strike a decisive blow in the war.

So far, while battles of such magnitude as had never been seen before
were fought almost daily, there had been nothing in the nature of a
conflict that would indicate an ultimate decision. True, the Germans and
Austrians, their allies, had staggered the Allies with a crushing drive
in Italy; but, through the prompt action of the British and French, they
had been driven back again.

It appeared, at this moment, that the next great blow would be delivered
by the Allies; that, with her numerical superiority overcome, her output
of munitions of war surpassed, Germany from this time on must remain on
the defensive in an effort to retain what ground she had won in the
early days of the war and to keep her enemies off German soil.

On the twentieth day of March the great battle line extended, roughly,
from Ostend on the North Sea south to within a few miles of Ypres,
thence to Bailleul and Lens. Here it was pushed slightly east, touching
Bapaume and Peronne. In the Soissons region the Germans were in
possession of Chauny and Laon. The battle line continued south to the
river Aisne, and then followed that stream east into Alsace-Lorraine.

Everywhere, up to this time--that is, since the early days of the
war--success had seemed to crown the efforts of the Allies on the
Western front. On the Eastern front, however, it was different. Through
German intrigue, Russia had been removed as a belligerent and more than
a million and a half of German troops had been released to reinforce the
hard-pressed Germans on the west.

Though the loss of Russia's aid in the war was a severe blow to the
Allies, it was more than offset by the entrance of the United States
into the conflict. American soldiers were being rushed to Europe with
all possible dispatch and were taking their places on the firing line.
Already they had covered themselves with glory. So far, however, they
had taken part only in what the official dispatches called "skirmishes,"
although, compared to battles of previous wars, they could be classed as
engagements of more than passing importance.

But the time was coming, and coming soon, when the Yankee troops would
go "over the top" under command of General Pershing in such force and
with such courage that the Germans could not stand before them.

Through the decision of an Allied war council, in which the United
States participated, General Foch had been made the supreme commander of
the Allied forces--British, American and Italian included. It was
believed that through this unity of command greater success would be
achieved than had yet been manifest.

And the time for Marshal Foch to prove his mettle was at hand.

Under the personal direction of General von Hindenburg, the greatest
military genius that the war had yet produced, the German forces had
been massed for their second effort to break through to Paris. Although
Marshal Foch had some slight inkling of the impending attack, he had
been unable to tell just where it would be made. True, his air scouts
had flown time and again over the enemy lines, but so far they had
failed to learn where the foe would strike.

As it developed, the first thrust was made in the north, with Ypres as
the apparent objective; although after the first few days of the drive
it became apparent that Hindenburg's real plan was to get behind Paris
from the north, after driving a wedge between the French and British
armies. This, through the ablest of strategy, Field Marshal Haig was
able to prevent.

Bailleul, Lens and other important railroad centers fell to the Germans
in the second great enemy drive of the war. Suddenly, when apparently
checked in the north, the enemy struck farther south, capturing Bapaume,
Albert, Peronne and other important towns and villages.

When the Allied line at last held there, the attack was pressed against

But this second drive was to fail as had all others, with a terrible
loss to the Germans in manpower. Marshal Foch sacrificed ground to save
lives, while, on the other hand, the German high command threw their men
forward with an utter disregard for loss of life.

To Hal and Chester, after their return from No Man's Land on the night
before the opening of the German advance, it seemed that they had just
closed their eyes when they were awakened by a sudden loud detonation
apparently in their very ears.

As both lads jumped to their feet they were borne down by an avalanche
of dirt and concrete. Although neither lad knew at that moment what had
happened, a German bomb had burst squarely over their dugout, shattering
the little place.

The boys slept in improvised bunks close to each other, and in jumping
to their feet, they came closer together. They lay on the floor face
down as the debris continued to rain on them. For the moment neither was
able to speak.

At last the shower of debris ceased, and Hal made an effort to rise. He
dropped down to the floor again suddenly with an exclamation.

"What's the matter?" asked Chester, sitting up.

"Matter is," said Hal, "that I bumped my head. Seems like the roof has
fallen in."

Chester now made an effort to rise. He got to his feet more cautiously,
however, and so did not hurt himself. Nevertheless, the lad gave an
exclamation of alarm.

"Bump your head, too?" asked Hal.

"No," was the reply.

"What's the trouble then?"

"Trouble is," said Chester, "that we seem to be buried in here."

"Oh, I guess it's not as bad as that," said Hal hopefully, and, getting
to his feet cautiously, he began to explore.

The dugout, before the explosion, had been a small building, possibly
fifteen feet wide and as many feet long. It was entirely covered by a
roof of wood. This, Hal found by exploration, seemed to have come down
to within five feet of the floor and to be wedged down by a heavy weight

"We're buried, all right," said Hal at last, "but I guess we can get
out. We'll have to dig."

"All right," said Chester. "Let's begin. I've got a knife here."

Hal also produced a knife and the lads fell to work upon the roof at one
end. After half an hour of strenuous work Hal sat down and wiped a moist

"Don't seem to be accomplishing much," he said.

"I should say not," said Chester as he sat down beside his chum.

"I'll tell you," said Hal after a pause, "I don't think we'll ever dig
our way out with these tools," and he tapped his knife.

"Well, what then?" asked Chester. "We can't stay here forever. We'll
suffocate. In fact, the air is already getting bad."

"I noticed that," Hal declared, "which is the reason that I say we can't
get out by digging. We might eventually dig our way out, if given time;
but the poisonous air will overcome us long before then."

"We've got to do something, Hal," said Chester. "We can't perish here
like rats in a trap without making an effort to save ourselves."

"Right. Then I've a suggestion to offer."

"Let's have it."

"It's dangerous," said Hal quietly, "and may mean only a quicker death."

"Anything is better than this inaction," Chester declared.

"Well," said Hal, "near my bunk are two hand grenades. My idea is this!
Place them close to the fallen roof where we have been digging, come
back here and pot them with our revolvers. The explosion should blow the
roof off."

"Or bury us a little deeper," said Chester grimly.

"Of course," said Hal. "However, it's the only chance I see. What do you

"Try it, of course," said Chester promptly. "It's the only way. Get out
your bombs."

Hal did so, and a moment later he had placed them to his satisfaction.

"Guess I can hit one in the dark," he said. "Hug down close, Chester."

Chester did so and Hal made himself as small as possible. A moment later
there was a sharp report, followed by a heavy explosion.

                              CHAPTER III

                              NEW FRIENDS

Hal's last conscious moment was filled with the roar that followed his
shot aimed at the hand grenades in the far corner of his underground
tomb. When again he was able to realize that he still lived his first
thought was of Chester, who had been near when he pressed the trigger of
his automatic in his desperate attempt to escape.

The lad was very dizzy as he staggered to his feet. First he felt
himself over carefully. He found he uninjured except from shock.

"Chester," he called.

There was no answer.

Again and again Hal called to his friend, meanwhile moving through the
debris that littered the ground, until at last he came upon the
unconscious form of Chester fully a hundred yards from the spot where he
himself had come to life.

Quickly Hal bent over and raised Chester's head to his knee. He still
breathed and as the lad glanced around he noted a pool of stagnant

Laying Chester down on the ground carefully, Hal hurried to the pool.
There he soaked his handkerchief and hurried back to his friend.

After some effort on Hal's part Chester showed signs of returning
consciousness as the cold water began to have its effect. Then Chester
sat up.

"Where am I?" he asked, moving his head feebly in a vain attempt to
pierce the darkness with his eyes.

Hal was forced to smile at this remark.

"I guess you are not in such bad shape after all," he said. "Anybody
that can wake up and start off with a question like that is not going to
die for some time to come."

Chester struggled from Hal's arms and got to his feet. He surveyed the
ruins of the erstwhile dugout in the darkness and then said:

"You're getting to be a pretty fair shot with that gun of yours, Hal."

"Thanks," said Hal dryly. "You were so still and quiet when I found you,
though, that I had begun to think I had done a pretty bad job."

"Well," said Chester, "we're on the outside again, at all events. I
don't feel as well as I might, either, and I vote that we get away from
here. I'd like to lay my hands on the Boche who is responsible for
interrupting my sleep like this. I'd show him a thing or two."

"Not in your present condition, I guess," was Hal's rejoinder.

"Oh, I'm still alive and kicking," returned Chester. "But listen to the

Indeed, it seemed that the roar of heavy artillery from both the Allied
and German lines exceeded in ferocity anything that either lad had heard
in their fours years of fighting.

"You can bet there is something of importance going on," was Hal's
comment. "But I agree with you, Chester, we've time enough later to
learn what it's all about. It's time now to find a place where we can
bunk for the rest of the night. Let's be moving."

Together the lads walked away in the darkness toward the section of the
American encampment where a glimmer of light showed in the distant

"We'll wake these fellows up and see if they'll let us spend the night
with them," said Hal, as they approached the dugout.

"Suits me," Chester agreed; "and if they have any objections to our
company, I'm in favor of dispossessing them."

"That might be rather a large order, in our present shape," said Hal.
"However, we'll see what they have to say."

They approached the dugout and tapped lightly on the door. There was no
answer to their knock. Hal tried again, but with the same result.

"If there is anybody there, they are good sleepers," declared Hal. "If I
don't get an answer this time, we'll go in regardless."

"Suits me," was Chester's response.

Again Hal knocked on the door and waited a moment. There was no response
from within.

"Well, here goes," the lad declared.

With that he threw open the door.

Inside the lads surveyed the dugout. There was no one there.

"We're in luck," said Hal. "We'll just make ourselves at home, and if
the owner objects we'll get out again, or put up an argument. That's

"In that event," said Chester, "me for the first bunk."

He turned in at once. Hal followed suit, making himself as comfortable
as possible in a bunk across the little room.

Outside the heavy cannonading continued without cessation.

Two hours later--it may have been 4 o'clock in the morning--Hal was
awakened by a rough hand on his shoulder and the sound of a rough voice.

"Come up out of there," said the voice. "This war has reached a pretty
pass when a man can't go out for a few minutes without somebody stealing
his bunk."

Hal, still half asleep, sat up.

"What's the row?" he wanted to know.

"What's the row?" repeated the man who stood above him. "I like that. I
come back to my own little bunk, find it occupied and the occupant wants
to know what's the row. Why shouldn't there be a row, I'd like to know?"

Hal got slowly to his feet and gazed at the man who had thus rudely
disturbed his slumber.

"A marine, eh?" he said.

"Right," was the reply. "Lieutenant Ulysses Smith, of the --th division.
I'm obliged to you for keeping my bed warm, but if it's all the same to
you, I'm ready to climb in myself."

"Well, Smith," said Hal, "it's your bed. Hop in."

The marine eyed the lad closely.

"First tell me who you are and what you are doing here," he said.

In a few words Hal recounted the adventure he and Chester had gone

"Well," said the marine, "I guess I don't want that bed after all. You
need it worse than I do. Help yourself. I'll bunk on the floor here."

"Oh, no," was Hal's reply. "The floor is plenty good enough for me. It's
your bed, you know."

"True enough," said Smith, "but at the same time, I've been out on a
little frolic and don't need it half as bad as you do. So you're a
lieutenant in the regulars, eh?"

"Right," said Hal.

"Haven't much to do yet, eh?"

"Oh, yes," was Hal's rejoinder. "You see, I put in almost three years in
this war before Uncle Sam decided to get in."

The marine officer looked his astonishment.

"Yes," Hal continued, "my friend and I"--he indicated Chester, who
continued to sleep through the conversation--"have seen active service
with most of the Allied forces."

Smith held out a hand.

"I'm a veteran myself," he said. "I've campaigned in the Philippines and
in some of the South American troubles. Of course, I've never been mixed
up in a scrap like this and I've a lot to learn. I'll appreciate
anything you can tell me."

"It's a little early in the morning for a talkfest," said Hal with a
smile, "but I've no doubt that when the sun comes up and we've had sleep
a plenty and some good grub that I can entertain you a bit."

"I'll be all ears, as my friend Jenkins would say," replied Smith.
"Jenkins," he explained, "is my bunkie--Lieutenant Jenkins, by the way."

"Guess he'll be back hunting his bed before long," said Hal.

"Shouldn't be surprised. Guess that's him now," he added, as footsteps
approached without.

A moment later a second officer in Uncle Sam's marine corps uniform
entered the dugout.

"Meet my friend Lieutenant Paine, Jenkins," said Smith. "He dropped in
rather suddenly, Fritz having put his own bunk house out of business.
I've invited him and his friend to spend the night with us. It won't be
the first time we have slept two in a bunk."

"Guess it won't be the last, either," was Jenkins' reply; "at least, not
if this war lasts as long as I figure it will. You're a lieutenant in
the regulars, I see," he added. "I'm afraid you'll get a chance sooner
than we will."

"Oh, you'll be in it, too," said Hal, smiling. "Uncle Sam is going to
need every man he has over here, and all he can send, to finish this

"Well, we'll finish it, all right," declared Jenkins. "I'd be willing to
cut ten years off my life to get a chance at these Huns."

"You'll get it, never fear," replied Hal.

"If I don't," said Jenkins, "I'll start a little war of my own."

"Don't pay any attention to him, Paine," laughed Smith. "He's not half
as bloodthirsty as he would have you believe. But come, let's turn in.
Tomorrow is another day."

"Right," said Jenkins. "I'm with you."

Ten minutes later the dugout was in darkness and only the heavy
breathing of the four sleepers proclaimed that it was inhabited.

                               CHAPTER IV

                            THE "DEVIL DOGS"

"So you are a couple of 'Devil Dogs,' eh?"

The speaker was Chester. It was morning again and Hal had just
introduced his chum to his newly found friends.

Lieutenant Jenkins smiled.

"I wouldn't say that," was his reply. "Smith and I haven't earned the
right yet to be called that. But we are marine officers, if that's what
you mean."

"That's just what I mean," said Chester. "To tell you the truth, I never
have found out just where the marines won that name, but I know it
wasn't bestowed without reason."

"The name is the result of the first encounter between American marines
and Germans in the Soissons region," returned Lieutenant Jenkins. "I
don't know the details of that scrap, but from all accounts it must have
been a warm one. There were only a few of our fellows in that
engagement--only the fraction of a division. They were flanked right and
left by French and British.

"The enemy came on recklessly in the face of a heavy artillery fire.
Under a rain of shells from the German lines, the right and left
wings--the French and British--gave ground slightly. But the marines
held, and more. In the face of what seemed utter annihilation, our
fellows suddenly dashed forward. To the enemy it must have appeared the
wildest folly. Perhaps it was. But it saved the day.

"So great was the enemy's astonishment that for a moment his fire
slackened. In that moment our fellows were upon the Germans with the
bayonet. The enemy broke and fled, the marines in hot pursuit. At this
juncture the wings rallied and came to our support. The Germans were
driven back to their own trenches with heavy losses."

"But the name," said Chester; "who was responsible for the name, the
'Devil Dogs'?"

"Oh, the name," repeated Jenkins. "I believe the Germans themselves were
responsible for that. After the battle, as I understand it, the German
soldiers told one another that we were 'devils' and 'dogs.' I guess
someone joined the words."

"At all events," laughed Hal, "you fellows have some reputation to live
up to."

"And we'll live up to it, never fear," declared Jenkins.

"I hope so," interposed Lieutenant Smith. "It has often been said that
the morale of the American marines is the best in the world, and it is
said with reason. Gathered as they are from all parts of the country,
and chiefly from the rougher element, it is only natural that they
should be fighters par excellence. The slogan that you have seen on
thousands of billboards, 'The first to fight,' has had its appeal. To
the true marine a fight is the salt of life."

"So I have always understood," said Chester. "I know that in times of
peace the marine was considered a bad customer. Now that he has come
into his own he is bound to give a good account of himself."

"He has always done that, no matter in what part of the world he has
been called into action," said Hal. "Take the troubles in Nicaragua, San
Domingo, and even at Vera Cruz, when it seemed that we must wage war
upon that country. The marines were always first on the job, and from
all accounts they cleaned things up wonderfully well."

"Well," said Chester, "we have talked to you fellows too long now. We've
work to do, and I suppose you have also. It's time, Hal, that we
reported to Captain O'Neil. He may have something in sight for us. We'll
see you fellows again soon, I hope."

"Thanks," replied Lieutenant Smith. "I am sure we hope so, too."

The four shook hands all around and Hal and Chester a few moments later,
learned to what extent the German general staff appeared willing to go
in their efforts to drive a wedge between the French and British lines
and then execute a flanking movement upon the French capital itself.

"We've our work cut out for us the next few days, and possibly weeks,"
the American captain told the two lads. "Just listen to the roar of
those guns. You boys have been in this war almost four years, but I'll
venture to say you have never heard the like before."

It was true. Never, so far as Hal and Chester could remember, had the
fire of the heavy German batteries been so terrific. The very earth
quivered under their feet from the shock. While the Allied artillery was
returning the German fire, the guns had not been concentrated upon the
foe's positions; but the activity of the French, British and American
artillery was soon to equal that of the enemy and the two, combined,
were speedily engaged in what was to prove the greatest artillery action
in history.

All day long and into the night the great guns pounded on without
cessation. Hastily, under the personal direction of divisional
commanders, American, British and French troops strengthened their
positions that they might be better able to repel the foe when the
infantry advanced to the attack under cover of the heavy German barrage.

All day long and far into the night Hal and Chester rushed hither and
thither within the lines with orders. Now, an hour after midnight, they
found themselves for the first time with nothing to do.

"Whew!" said Hal, as he sat down on the edge of the dugout to which they
had been assigned. "This has been the busiest day I have put in in

"Here, too," Chester agreed, "and I'll bet a hat that to-morrow and the
days to follow will be just as bad."

"Wouldn't be surprised," declared Hal. "It's only a matter of hours now
until the Germans advance to the attack."

"Well," said Chester, "we're prepared for them. They'll know they've
been in a battle before they break through here."

"Right. The thing that I am trying to figure out is just about how many
men von Hindenburg is willing to sacrifice in what I believe will be the
last enemy offensive on a large scale."

"It will cost him a terrible toll to come through here," declared
Chester grimly.

"Of course. But if he really means to break through, and the movement is
not a feint to cover an advance elsewhere, he won't worry about the
sacrifice in human lives. He will attempt to break through, cost what it
may. If successful, he'll probably swing south toward Paris."

"Well, he won't get there."

"I don't think he will, either. But all those possibilities must be
taken into consideration."

"We don't have to worry about them," said Chester. "I guess Marshal Foch
and his staff haven't overlooked any such possibilities. All we've got
to do is what we're told."

"Right you are, Chester. Nevertheless, we're free to speculate if we
feel so disposed."

As Hal had predicted, the German attack came soon. Under cover of the
semi-darkness of early morning, the gray-clad hosts advanced to the
attack. For miles along the long battle line, Germans streamed from
their trenches and marched slowly toward the Allied positions only a few
hundred yards away.

The enemy came on calmly and with no appearance of haste. Machine guns
from British, French and American positions poured a hail of bullets
into the advancing ranks; but the gaps made by this fire were
immediately filled and the Germans still moved forward, firing with
monotonous regularity as they did so.

Now they reached the first-line American trenches and poured in.
Desperately the Yankee troops fought to drive them out. But, outnumbered
as they were by the enemy, they eventually were forced to retire. This
retirement was ordered primarily so that the Americans might be kept in
contact with the French, to the north, who were forced to give ground
under the impetuous advance of the foe.

All day the battle raged, first at close quarters, and when the Allies
retired farther, the big German guns resumed the bombardment. At
nightfall of the second day it became clear to every man in the battle
that the German objective, primarily at least, was Ypres, one of the
most important towns at the front still in possession of the Allies.

Still the Allies gave ground as the enemy advanced. So, at the close of
the fourth day of fighting, the Germans had gained miles of territory
and seemed in imminent danger of encircling the city of Ypres.

But the German advance had been made at terrible cost. Thousands upon
thousands of German dead strewed the field. In these few days of
fighting the German losses had been greater than in any battle of the
war. The losses of the Allies were comparatively light.

And still Marshal Foch withdrew his troops slowly.

It now became apparent that the commander-in-chief of the Allied forces
was ready to sacrifice ground if he could conserve lives. Each day the
enemy advanced in the face of the terrible Allied fire his manpower grew
weaker. If these tactics were continued, it was plain to the Allied
general staff that the enemy must slow down if for no other reason than
sheer exhaustion; at least he must slow down until his divisions could
be reorganized and return to the fray.

Each day territory won by the Germans grew less; and then the British
line before Ypres held. It became apparent that Marshal Foch had yielded
as much ground in that section as he intended to give up. Immediately
von Hindenburg changed his tactics and struck farther south, apparently
hoping to catch the French there by surprise. But after an initial
advance of a few miles the first day, the French line also braced and
checked the foe.

Again the German commander hurled his tired troops against the British
at Ypres, but this time he failed even to dent the line. Gradually the
fighting grew less and less and soon the opposing armies settled down
quietly and only the voices of the big guns, with occasional infantry
raids, indicated that the war was still in progress on the West front.

The German gains in territory in this battle had been large, but so had
their losses. Marshal Foch had conserved his own man-power with a genius
more than rivaling that of von Hindenburg's strategy, so it appeared
that the advantage was with the Allies.

Thus the second attempt of the German emperor to carry the war to the
gates of Paris had failed. A feeling of absolute confidence ran through
the Allied army. The Germans had showed the best they had and it was not
good enough to win through. Americans, British and French now eagerly
awaited the word that would open an offensive by the Allies.

                               CHAPTER V

                                 A RAID

South of the city of Ypres itself and less than six miles east flows the
river Orcuq. The crossing of the river and the capture of the town of
Dun by the American troops will rank as one of the most gallant feats of
the operations in the Ypres sector.

In this action Hal and Chester played important roles. The troops which
accomplished this work may well rank as heroes, for their work in
crossing the stream was a strategic move of unusual daring.

The crossing involved the forcing of a way over a 160-foot stream, a
half-mile stretch of mud and a 60-foot canal in the face of a frightful
enemy fire.

The Germans held the east side of the river, hastily dug trenches less
than 100 yards from the shore making a crossing by the Allies a
seemingly impossible task.

The order to cross the river came at mid-afternoon, two days after the
German offensive at Ypres had been definitely checked. Hal and Chester
carried the order themselves. It was signed by General Pershing, who was
at the front at that moment, and was directed to Major General Lawrence,
in command of the --st division.

The troops received their instructions under a sun which was shining for
the first time in days. The men knew almost as well as their commanders
the difficulty of the task and realized how well-nigh impossible its
accomplishment would be. Yet they never doubted or hesitated.

The orders were to send over one brigade first--and if it failed, to
send another--and others, one after the other--if it became necessary.
It was with the dash that is traditional in the American army that the
Yankee troops tackled the problem. Theoretically they had the choice of
crossing anywhere for five miles. Actually they were limited to one
point, where two-thirds of a mile of mud lay between the river itself
and the canal that roughly parallels the river.

The Germans were too firmly intrenched at all other points. They had not
protected themselves with trenches here because they never dreamed the
Americans would be so daring as to try to force the passage. This was a
short distance north of Velliers.

First came the call for swimmers from the first brigade. Not a man who
could swim a stroke failed to stand out when the call came. Those whom
their officers thought fit were put in the van.

With these went Hal and Chester.

It was intended to attack in this way on the theory that the swimmers
were less likely to be hit by the Germans, owing to the fact that they
would be nearly submerged. On the other hand, they would carry with them
ropes and other paraphernalia for assisting men across who were unable
to swim.

A perfect rain of fire from the Germans met these first Americans, as,
under command of Captain Donaldson, Hal and Chester, they waded into the
stream. The enemy had ensconced himself up the east bank with carefully
selected machine gun positions, which raked every point of the bank
where efforts to land could be enfiladed or met with direct fire.

Some men were killed in the water. More were drowned after having been
wounded, for no unwounded man dared stop to rescue a comrade if the
maneuver were to be successful.

Captain Donaldson made no effort to keep his men in formation as they
swam rapidly across the river. There would be time enough for formation
when they were safely ashore. Each man, when he waded into the water,
struck out for himself, his chief aim being to reach the opposite shore
as quickly as possible.

No bullet touched Hal or Chester as they swam at the head of their men.
Bullets kicked up the water all about them, but both lads seemed to bear
charmed lives.

Suddenly a German bullet pierced the forehead of Captain Donaldson, and
the brave officer threw up his hands and sank without a word. Instantly,
realizing that there must be a single head to the party, Hal assumed

"Faster, men!" he called. "We're almost there!"

The troops exerted themselves to further efforts. Men sank every moment,
hit by the enemy fire, but the others swam on apparently utterly
oblivious to the danger that faced them.

Notwithstanding their losses and the fact that the swimmers could not
fight back, nor even defend themselves, the bulk of the first expedition
reached the east bank of the river with lines that were drawn taut
across the stream. Others floated on rafts and collapsible boats. These
men had less success than the swimmers, for they were better targets for
the enemy's fire, and the boats could be easily sunk by bullets even if
the occupants were not hit.

Close to where the swimmers had crossed, engineers, who had been drawn
across, now began to throw over pontoon bridges and a tiny foot bridge.
The pontoons crumbled under the German fire, but the foot bridge
remained intact and added materially to the constantly increasing number
of men on the east bank. Soon after dark the first brigade was across
the first barrier and more men were ready to make the journey.

After the swimmers headed by Hal and Chester had crossed the river, they
waited eagerly until their comrades arrived with rifles, ammunition and
side arms. Then they moved forward to the second phase of the perilous
undertaking. This was the crossing of the kilometer of mud stretching
between the river and the canal beyond, which, though it was under enemy
fire, was not held by infantry. The Americans stumbled across the mud
under a withering fire, firing as they advanced. From the rear the
American lines were being constantly increased, so that now instead of
the handful of men who had forced the crossing, there were enough
American troops to offer a formidable fighting front.

Their feet sank into the mud as they advanced and soon the pace of the
men was slowed down to a laborious walk. But there was no hesitancy in
the ranks--no faltering. The men were too anxious to come to close
quarters with the foe for that. The German guns played terrible havoc
with the Yankees, but the rest pushed through.

Now came the third phase of the advance. This constituted the crossing
of the canal, with its sheer sides and the Germans almost at the top of
the eastern bank.

Here again the party, led by Hal and Chester, threw aside their arms and
plunged into the water.

"Forward men!" cried Chester, as he plunged into the canal.

The men took up the cry with cheers, and swam rapidly after him.

Hal kept close to Chester's side. Soon they reached the opposite shore,
where lines were again drawn taut and other men were pulled across on
rafts and in boats.

Once more the engineers got busy and almost as if by magic, bridges

Troops crossed them at the double. The bridges stood the enemy fire
bravely and troops hurried across by hundreds.

Soaking wet, and with water dripping from every garment, immediately he
set foot ashore and weapons were thrust in his hands by eager men
behind, Hal, thinking to cover the landing of those still to come,
ordered an advance.

Nothing loath, the first mere handful of men went forward at the double.

In vain the Germans, in their hastily entrenched positions, tried to
stop them with rifle and machine-gun fire. The Americans were not to be
stopped. They had undergone too strenuous a time getting across to be
halted now.

Right for the German trenches they dashed and the enemy, his morale
broken by the Yankee spirit, offered only a half-hearted resistance.

In vain the German officers tried to make their men fight. Blows from
the flat of their swords and Teutonic imprecations failed to bring order
out of chaos as the men from Yankeeland advanced with wild shouts and

Into the trenches leaped the Americans, cutting down what few of the
enemy offered resistance there. Apparently the Germans were too
bewildered to fight with any idea of cohesion. Hundreds surrendered.
Others dropped their weapons and fled.

From the west side of the canal and river fresh American troops advanced
to the support of their comrades. General Lawrence himself crossed with

Despite the darkness, an advance was ordered and the American troops
moved toward the village of Dun.

This little village, though exceedingly small before the war, was now an
important railway center, and, realizing the results that could be
attained if he followed up his initial success, General Lawrence
determined to give the enemy no rest.

From the distance German artillery now had taken up the battle and
shells dropped frequently in the newly-won American positions.
Nevertheless, the Yankee troops reformed coolly enough and stood
patiently under fire until the order at last came to advance.

Hal and Chester, now that their part of the task had been carried out
successfully, personally reported to General Lawrence the death of
Captain Donaldson, who had been in command of the first crossing party.

"It's a pity," General Lawrence took time to say. "He was a good officer
and a brave man. I wish both of you young men would stay by me," he
added. "I watched you as you crossed and know that your courage cannot
be questioned. Also, I have noticed your service stripes. My officers
are few now, and I may have need of you."

Hal and Chester clicked their heels, saluted and stood at attention.

General Lawrence gave his commands clearly and quickly.

The First and Second brigades were to move upon Dun, from the west,
while the Third and Fourth, making a slight detour, were to attack from
the north. General Lawrence aimed to launch his attack from both places
simultaneously, and for this reason the Third and Fourth brigades moved
an hour before the First and Second.

"Lieutenant Paine!" said General Lawrence.

Hal approached and saluted.

"My compliments to Colonel Adams and order him to move immediately with
the Third and Fourth brigades. He will attack the village from the north
an hour after daylight."

Hal saluted again and hurried away.

"Lieutenant Crawford!"

Chester approached and saluted.

"My compliments to Colonel Gregory and order him to attack from the
front an hour after daylight. Inform him that Colonel Adams will attack
from the north simultaneously."

Chester saluted and followed Hal from the general's presence.

In the heart of each lad was a great impatience, for each longed for the
action to commence. Nevertheless, outwardly, both were perfectly cool;
for they had learned long ago and by hard experience that in the heat of
battle the things that stood them in best stead were strong arms and
cool heads.

                               CHAPTER VI

                         CAPTURE OF THE VILLAGE

While the First and Second Brigades under Colonel Gregory prepared for
the early morning attack, the Third and Fourth, under command of Colonel
Adams, marched immediately upon receiving the instructions that Hal
carried. In the natural course of events Hal, his errand accomplished
successfully, would have returned immediately to report to General
Lawrence. In fact he had wheeled and was about to walk away when Colonel
Adams stopped him.

"Lieutenant," he said, "I shall move at once in accordance with
instructions, but I would prefer that you remain here and that one of my
men reported to General Lawrence in your stead."

"Very well, sir," was Hal's reply, although he could not fathom the
colonel's reasons.

Colonel Adams explained:

"I lost most of my officers in the crossing of the canal. I can use you
to great advantage. By the way, I don't seem to recall your name."

"Paine, sir."

"Very good. Lieutenant, you will report at once to Captain Graham, of
the --th marines."

He saluted and walked away. He was somewhat surprised, for he did not
know that a body of marines had crossed the river with the infantry so

"I'll bet a hat my friends Jenkins and Smith are around some place," he
told himself as he strode rapidly ahead.

He located the body of marines with little difficulty and reported at
once to Captain Graham. As the lad had predicted to himself, Lieutenants
Smith and Jenkins were there, and were almost the first to see him.

"Well, I see you're on the job," exclaimed Smith, stepping forward as
Hal left Captain Graham after reporting and delivering his message from
Colonel Adams.

"Right," returned Hal, "and glad to be here, particularly so as we are
about to march."

"That so?" said Jenkins. "Where to?"

"Dun," replied Hal. "General Lawrence has determined to push his

"Wow!" exclaimed Jenkins. "Hear that, Smith? Didn't I tell you that once
we got started we would be kept on the jump?"

"I'm glad to hear it," said Lieutenant Smith, who appeared to be
considerably more quiet and dignified than his companion. "When do we
start, or do you know?"

"Immediately," said Hal, "and if I am not mistaken, there is the signal

A bugle sounded attention. The men sprang to their places and the ranks
closed in the darkness. A moment later came the command to march.

A few moments later Hal found himself in command of a detachment at the
extreme right of the advancing column, where Captain Graham had assigned
him. Because of the unfortunate lack of higher officers, Hal would
command this detachment during the impending engagement. A short
distance to Hal's left Lieutenant Jenkins strode with his men.
Lieutenant Smith had been called to the detachment that made up the left

Silently the American columns moved through the darkness. The order had
been passed along the line that there must be no talking. It would be
well to advance as close to the village as possible without being
discovered by the enemy.

From the distance the German artillery still hurled shells toward the
American lines at infrequent intervals, but there was nothing now in the
nature of a consistent cannonading.

Two hours' march brought Colonel Adams' column to the far edge of a
small but dense wood. Beyond could be seen a few twinkling lights in the
village of Dun.

Colonel Adams called a halt. Here the Americans would wait until an hour
after daylight, at which time Colonel Gregory would advance to the
attack from the west of the village.

The hours passed slowly and the men fidgeted. They would be cool enough
when the time for action arrived, but resting quietly in the darkness
and being allowed to utter no word, they grew restless.

Gradually it grew light and the men recovered their spirits. The hour of
attack was approaching and the troops were anxious to be about their

Hal glanced at his watch in the half light.

"Must be about time," he muttered.

The words had hardly left his mouth when the signal came, the shrill
clear notes of a bugle sounding a charge.

A wild Yankee cheer followed the bugle call and the Americans dashed
forward at the double.

In this particular section of the field there were no trenches to be
won. The German positions had been fortified so recently that the enemy
had had no time to dig himself in. But with the warning of the advance,
the German commander rushed his men into formation and awaited the

Machine guns were hurried forward and brought into play upon the men in
khaki advancing across the open field.

Under the commands of their officers, the Americans broke their close
formation and scattered out, thus making a more difficult target for the
enemy. Nevertheless, the enemy rifle and machine-gun fire took a heavy
toll in the advancing ranks.

To the far left of the German line, on Hal's right, a machine gunner was
doing fearful execution with a gun that was hidden in a clump of trees
at that point.

"By Jove!" muttered Hal. "That fellow is tearing things up. We've got to
stop him."

To think with Hal was to act.

As his men dashed forward, he told off half a dozen and, turning over
his command to Lieutenant Edgerton, led them sharply farther to the
right. Thus they were able to approach the clump of trees without being
exposed to the full force of the concealed machine-gun fire.

Bullets from other parts of the field fell among the little party,
however, and three men dropped. Besides Hal, this now left three of the
original party of seven.

The four were almost upon the little clump of trees before the German
who was hidden there with his machine gun noticed their approach, so
intent had he been upon his other foes. When he espied them, he turned
his gun sharply.

A hail of bullets swept the field.

With a cry to his men, Hal had thrown himself flat upon the ground even
before the German had turned his gun in their direction, and thus Hal
escaped unscathed. Two of his men, however, were not so fortunate.

Besides Hal, there was now but one man able to fight. Together he and
Hal sprang to their feet and dashed forward. Again they escaped what
seemed almost certain death by hurling themselves to the ground. A
moment later they were up and dashing forward again.

Hal sprang at the German machine gunner from the left, while the
remaining marine attacked him from the right. Unable to fire effectively
again, and caught between two fires, the German rose, stepped quickly
back and produced a revolver.

He took a snapshot at Hal, but the bullet went wild.

Before he could fire again, the marine was upon him and sent him
staggering back to escape a bayonet thrust.

Immediately the German dropped his revolver, raising both hands.

"Kamerad!" he cried.

Hal lowered a revolver which he had trained upon the Boche and the
marine lowered his rifle.

As he did so, the German suddenly dropped his hand to his belt, drew a
second revolver and fired point-blank at the marine. The latter
side-stepped swiftly, but although he moved promptly enough he was not
equal to the task of escaping the bullet altogether. The ball which the
German had aimed at his heart pierced the man's left arm.

Before the German could fire again and even before Hal could bring his
own revolver to bear, the marine jumped forward with a roar.

"Treachery, eh!" he shouted. "I'll show you!"

He dropped his rifle as he jumped and threw both arms around the German.
With his right hand he pinioned the man's left arm while he seized his
opponent's right wrist with strong fingers. Gradually the man's arms
described an arc until his own revolver was pointed at his head. There
was a flash and a sharp report. The marine stepped back and the German
crumbled up on the ground. The marine surveyed him disdainfully.

"Kamerad, eh!" he muttered. "Well, I guess you won't fool anybody else."

Hal looked at the marine in some amazement. The man was terribly angry
and as Hal gazed at the powerful figure he could not keep thinking that
there were few soldiers in the German army could stand against him.

"Come!" said Hal sharply. "Man the machine gun there. Wheel it about and
open on the enemy to the left."

"Very well, sir," said the marine quietly, and followed instructions.

Unaware that Americans had approached so close in this section of the
field, and probably placing reliance upon the machine gun that Hal and
the marine had just captured, the Germans exposed themselves somewhat
recklessly. Thus they were caught in a trap when their own weapon was
turned against them.

With loud cries of alarm, the enemy ranks broke and the troops fled in
utter rout. This confusion soon spread to other detachments and the
enemy fell back upon the village.

From the west, meanwhile, Colonel Gregory had been pushing his attack as
Colonel Adams' columns advanced. Farther back, General Lawrence was
hurrying supporting columns to the front. To the very streets of the
village the Americans pursued the enemy, and then entered after them.
From houses and from around corners the enemy fired upon the Yankee
troops, who dashed forward with reckless courage.

Gradually, however, they retired from the village also, as their
commanders realized that the American advance could not be stopped

At the very edge of the village Colonel Adams halted his men. On the
western outskirts, Colonel Gregory did likewise. There they awaited
orders before advancing farther.

Soon the orders came.

"Forward!" was the cry.

                              CHAPTER VII

                            IN A "BABY TANK"

So the American advance continued.

With the supporting columns of infantry that now came forward were
several score of small armored tractors, commonly called "tanks."
Because of the fact that these small machines, unlike their larger
counterparts, were capable of holding only two men--a gunner and a
pilot--they were called "two-men tanks," or more commonly, "baby tanks."

As an engine of warfare, the "tank," an American invention primarily,
had made itself famous when General "Bingo" Byng led his British troops
forward in the Cambrai battlefield, long before the United States
entered the war. There were few tanks in the field in those days, but
since their effectiveness was proven at Cambrai, thousands had been
added to the Allied forces.

The "baby tanks" came later but proved quite as effective. They were
able to penetrate places that were proof against their larger
counter-parts, and now there was scarcely a division of British, French
or American troops in the field that did not have its tank corps.

As the foremost American troops, among which was Hal, now pursued the
enemy, the American "baby tanks" came waddling forward, their guns
belching fire as they advanced.

A short distance beyond Dun the German general staff, realizing that the
Americans could not be stopped in the village, had hastily thrown up a
wandering system of trenches, and to these the enemy now retired.

Immediately General Lawrence ordered a halt, that he might better bring
his own lines into cohesion.

The American and German artillery, hastily rushed up, continued the
struggle at long distance.

An hour later, Hal, returning toward his own place in the line,
accompanied by the marine who had killed the German machine gunner, came
abreast of a "baby tank." The tank appeared perfectly intact, but the
lad knew at a glance that there was no crew within.

"I wonder why?" he muttered, and stopped to investigate.

The small door that served as an entrance was open. Hal peered in. The
marine who was with him also stopped.

"Where's the crew, sir?" he asked.

"You know as much about them as I do," was Hal's reply.

"Maybe they've gone after 'gas,'" said the marine.

Hal climbed in and examined the petrol reservoir.

"Plenty of gas," he said.

He examined the other mechanism carefully.

"Nothing wrong so far as I can see," he declared. "However, it's none of
our business. We'll be moving on."

But at that moment came from General Lawrence's portion of the field the
call for a general advance. Hal glanced around quickly. He was still
some distance from his own post, and he saw his men start forward under
command of Lieutenant Edgerton. It was unlikely that he would be able to
overtake them. He turned to the marine.

"What's your name?" he demanded.

"Bowers, sir."

"All right. Bowers. Do you know anything about these tanks?"

"Not much, sir. I can drive an automobile or an airplane, and I've
watched these things work. Guess I could run one if I had to."

"Well, you can work the gun, can't you?" Hal wanted to know.

"You bet I can, sir, and I'll guarantee not to miss very often. Are you
thinking of boarding this craft, sir?"

"I am," said Hal. "We seem to be out of the fight right now. It's up to
us to get into it again. Climb in, man."

Bowers boarded the tank with alacrity and deposited himself beside the
single machine gun. Hal perched himself in the pilot's seat and opened
the throttle. The tank moved forward.

In the distance, both to right and left, Hal saw other tanks waddling
forward. They were all still too far from the enemy to do any great
damage, but they were ambling forward as swiftly as their peculiar
construction would permit, all anxious to approach within striking

In front, the American infantry, with absolute disregard for the German
artillery bombardment, dashed for the enemy trenches. They climbed in,
and even from where Hal was the lad could see the signs of terrible
combat within.

But the American charge had not been made in sufficient force. True, the
Germans were driven from their improvised trenches, but the Yankee
forces at the extreme front were numerically too small to pursue their
advantage. They waited quietly for the arrival of reinforcements.

Straight into the erstwhile trenches the tank driven by Hal now nosed
its way. Its appearance was received with cheers by the men. Then it
waddled crazily forward in pursuit of the foe.

Hal was not given to unnecessary recklessness, and the fact that he
advanced now while the bulk of the American troops remained beyond was
not due to any spirit of foolishness. In passing, Hal was not aware of
the fact that the most advanced troops were awaiting reinforcements. He
thought that they would continue the pursuit at once. Therefore, in
spite of the cries to stop that were raised behind, the tank ambled on.

Then, so suddenly that it seemed that a curtain of blackness had been
thrown about them, a fog descended over the field.

In the advance of the tank, the German artillery and machine guns had
been busy. A mine or two had exploded near the machine. Hal had been
struck in the left hand by a tiny bit of shrapnel that found its way
through one of the loopholes, but so slightly that the skin had only
been bruised.

Hal put the snout of the tank over the edge of a hill in the fog, but
stopped in time to keep from end-over-ending down. Then he felt his way
carefully down hill by a roundabout road.

In the valley beyond there were machine gun nests and one seventy-seven
field piece and some wandering trenches. In the hillside overhead were
scores of burrow-like dugouts in which Germans had fortified themselves.

In this direction Hal still guided his tank, confident that the American
forces also were advancing under cover of the fog.

Among the thousand shattering noises of battle, the approach of the tank
had not been noticed. Suddenly the fog lifted, and for the first time
Hal was conscious of the fact that his baby tank was unsupported by
other tanks, or infantry, although the big American guns still sounded
from behind. Nevertheless, Hal knew that the American advance was likely
to be resumed at any minute.

In spite of the lifting of the fog, the approach of the tank was still
unperceived by the enemy. It is a constant source of wonder to tank
crews that this happens so often. Locked up in their steel chamber and
with a hammering gun they feel their roaring progress must herald them
afar. Yet it often happens that they creep upon the enemy as though
their beast had been shod with velvet.

Hal saw the flare of the "77" and headed toward it. Bowers turned a
stream of fire on it and the gun went out of action.

The tank lurched on toward a long windrow of rusted wire. The wire shone
red in the sun that had come out to dispel the fog. In successive
alterations of the defense, it had been made into a pile fifty feet
long, by twenty broad, and four feet high.

"Looks like a machine-gun nest to me!" called Bowers.

But Hal still guided the machine toward the spot.

Suddenly a veritable hail of bullets poured upon the tank and rattled
harmlessly off the steel sides.

Hal stopped the tank.

"You're right," he called to Bowers. "It's a nest, all right."

For the next ten minutes, as Hal expressed it later, "we just sat there
and took it."

An anti-tank rifle was brought into play by the Germans. This weapon was
a monster indeed, fully seven feet long and forty pounds in weight--not,
perhaps, a monster as compared with heavy siege guns and heavy
artillery, but a mammoth for an anti-tank gun. But the anti-tank's rifle
bullets likewise failed to pierce the living-room of the tank, although
they did cut through the running gear in one or two spots that were not

Hal and Bowers ducked down so that they would not be struck by slivers
should they come through the eye-slits in the tank.

"We're in a tight place, sir," called Bowers.

"Right," Hal agreed. "We don't want to take too many chances peeking
through the eye-holes while those bullets are hitting around us like
this. Great Scott! Listen! It sounds like someone was hitting the skin
with a sledge hammer at the rate of fifty blows a second."

A sliver suddenly spun through a porthole and struck Bowers on the hand.
The wound was slight but painful. Bowers wrung his numbed hand in

"Hurt much?" asked Hal.

"No, sir. I'll be all right in a second."

But the hand wasn't all right in a second. It was still too numb to
permit of handling the gun.

"There isn't any use of our being here unless we can do some good," Hal
called. "I'm afraid you can't work that gun any longer, Bowers."

"I can drive," was Bowers' reply.

So the two changed places, Hal going into the gunners turret.

This to Hal was one of the worst moments of the battle, for tankers fit
as closely into tanks as snails in their shells. It was with an effort
that Hal and Bowers crawled past each other, for there were several
painful moments when two bodies occupied the space that was a tight fit
for one. But they managed it.

Bowers waggled the tank out into the open and headed for the nest of
annoying gunners, and Hal will always have respect for these gunners.

In spite of their failure against the tank, the Prussians died with
their hands on their guns. Others ran away and the tank was checked in
its progress, while Hal poured volley after volley at the fleeing foes.

Suddenly Hal was arrested by a shout from Bowers.

"Hey! What's that?" cried the marine.

Looking a trifle to the left, Hal saw four Germans wearing Red Cross
uniforms, carrying something on a litter.

"That's a mighty funny-looking stretcher," said Bowers. "Have a shot at

"Not a chance," replied Hal. "They're Red Cross workers."

"That's a funny-looking litter," said Bowers, unconvinced. "Take my
advice and shoot."

Then, suddenly, without further words, Hal turned his gun on the four
men, in spite of their Red Cross uniforms, and fired.

"And just in time!" muttered Bowers to himself.

                              CHAPTER VIII

                         THE ADVANCE CONTINUES

The queer-looking litter, as Bowers termed it, came suddenly to life.

The quartet of Germans tumbled in a sprawling, jerking heap. One sprang
in the air, raising and overturning the litter as he did so. The gray
blanket which had covered it fell off and Bowers' suspicions were
confirmed. It was a machine gun the "Red Cross" counterfeits had been
carrying away.

"Good job there, sir," Bowers called to Hal.

The lad nodded grimly to himself.

"So that's the way they play the game, eh?" he said. "Well, I'll be
prepared for them when they try another trick like that."

The tank jangled on.

Out of a hole in the ground, partially hidden by a tangle of old wire,
suddenly popped a German boy in soldier's uniform. His appearance was so
unexpected that Bowers stopped the tank abruptly.

The German's hands were raised high in the air.

"Kamerad!" he cried. "Kamerad!"

He was so near the tank that Hal could see the tears streaming down his

"I haven't got the heart to shoot him," Bowers called to Hal. "Climb
out, sir, and see what he has to say."

Hal knew as well as any soldier in the Allied armies that tanks,
British, French or American, were not expected to make prisoners unless
the infantry was in immediate support, and for this reason he understood
what Bowers meant when the marine said he couldn't shoot the German boy
down in cold blood.

The reason may be readily understood, for the crew of a baby tank is
composed of only two men. Only now and then is it possible to shepherd
prisoners ahead of a tank and it is always bad practice for either of
the crew to leave his steel fortalice. In this case, however, Hal took
into consideration the youth of the prisoner.

"Better be careful, sir," Bowers called as Hal opened the door and
crawled out. "Remember the Boche who called 'Kamerad' to me awhile

"But this is only a boy," replied Hal, "and he's crying at that."

"Can't help that, sir. They're all bad actors and none is to be

"I guess I'm safe enough," declared Hal, as he advanced.

"Got your gun?" called Bowers.

Hal shook his head.

"I don't need any gun for this Boche," said he.

"Maybe not," grumbled Bowers to himself, "but I guess I'll just crawl
out after you."

As Hal approached the boy, the German's face changed. He saw that Hal
was unarmed, while at his side hung a handsome Luger pistol. He stopped
his cry of "Kamerad" and began jerking at the fastenings of his weapon.
The flap of the American holster fastens with a leather button, which
facilitates hasty action, while the German holster is buckled down.

Before the German could get the buckle unloosed, Hal had him by the
throat. The German fought in despairing silence now, one hand plucking
at the fingers that were choking him and the other still fumbling with
the gun. At this juncture Bowers, also unarmed, closed in.

In spite of his youth, the German was of powerful build and he struggled
so furiously that for a moment Hal and Bowers were unable to quiet him.
In the struggle, Bowers caught sight of a long, thin stiletto which the
German wore at his left side. His right hand shot out and clasped the
handle. The weapon flashed aloft.

"Hold on!" cried Hal. "He's only a kid!"

Bowers caught himself just in time. With a mumbled imprecation, he cast
the stiletto away from him.

"Good thing you yelled," he said to himself.

Hal had now possessed himself of both the German's hands and his
adversary was unable to fight further. Nevertheless, the struggle would
have been at a deadlock had it not been for Bowers, who now approached
and relieved the German of his pistol.

"All right, you can let him go now, sir," the marine said.

Hal released his hold and stepped back, at the same time covering the
German with the Luger.

"Sit down," said Bowers.

It is doubtful if the young German understood Bowers' words, but he
certainly caught their import, for he sat down in front of the tank.

Bowers turned to Hal.

"You see, they're all alike, sir," he said. "They're not to be trusted."

"So I see." said Hal. "Well, I won't be caught napping again. And this
is the second one that has tried that 'Kamerad' trick on us in the same

"Almost within the same hour, you might say," replied Bowers. "But what
are we going to do with him?"

"That's a hard question," was Hal's reply. "We can't make him prisoner
and I'm not disposed to let him go scott-free in view of his actions.
Guess we might as well tie him up and leave him here."

"Suits me, sir."

A few moments later the German was lying on the ground, his hands bound
with portions of his own clothing.

"Guess he won't bother about yelling 'Kamerad' again," said Hal.

"Well, we're all here," said Bowers with a smile. "So where do we go
from here, sir?"

At that moment, far back, came the crash of infantry fire. Turning, Hal
and Bowers perceived the foremost line of advancing Americans in the

"Wow!" cried Bowers, and his trench helmet went sailing high in the air.
"Here they come, sir. Don't they look fine?"

"You bet they do, Bowers," Hal shouted, carried away by his own

Indeed, it was an inspiring sight, the long line of khaki-clad figures
which came sweeping forward at a slow run.

"They'll come up to us presently. All we have to do is wait," said Hal.

The long line came directly toward them. At the pace they were advancing
they would reach Hal, Bowers and their tank in fifteen minutes. But
suddenly the formation of the charging troops changed.

"Hey!" cried Bowers. "They're not coming this way after all."

It appeared to be true.

Still quite a distance away, the American infantry had wheeled sharply
to the right.

"Flank attack," said Hal briefly, "but it leaves us high and dry."

"Well," said Bowers, "I've heard that these contraptions," referring to
the tank, "carry signal flags."

"We'll hoist one," said Hal briefly. "They may see it."

He climbed back into the tank, reappearing shortly with a small flag
which he ran up on the turret.

"Now all we can do is sit down and wait."

"And pray that the Germans don't arrive in force first," Bowers added

The two sat down in the sunlight and followed the course of the battle
in the distance. Gradually the American charge slowed down. From beyond,
Hal could see the ranks of the gray-clad hosts as they emerged from the
German lines farther back to charge the American infantry.

"They'll get all the fight they want," said Hal.

"And more," agreed Bowers.

Directly Hal caught the roar of wings coming toward them. He glanced
aloft. An American liaison plane was approaching.

Bowers let out a cheer.

The aeroplane approached close enough to see the signal on the turret of
the tank, and signalled back that reinforcements would be sent. Then it
flew away again.

"In which case," said Hal, "we might as well get busy again."

"My sentiments, sir," agreed Bowers.

They re-entered the tank, leaving their prisoner still tied on the
ground. The young German eyed them angrily as they disappeared within.

"Machine gun nest to the right, Bowers," called Hal, who again manned
the gun.

Without further words, Bowers headed the tank in that direction.

"They're firing explosive bullets, sir," called Bowers coolly a few
moments later as the earth flew high to one side of the tank.

Previous to this, the use of explosive bullets against tanks had been
questioned, but Hal was bound to believe the evidence of his own eyes.
In the instance where the use of explosive bullets had been reported
before, they had been effective in that they had set fire to gasoline in
the travel tanks lashed to the machine's sides. Hal, recalling the
details of that battle, was thankful that there were no tanks of
gasoline lashed to the tank in which he and Bowers were confined.

Now, it seemed to Hal and Bowers, they were in the center of a group of
machine-gun nests. Hal fired as rapidly as he could bring his gun to

But the Germans had developed wisdom. The machine gunners crouched down
in their holes whenever the tanks were turned on them, and let gunners
in other nests take up the fight. A surprising number of machine-guns
were developed around the tank. Evidently the gunners had kept under
cover during the previous activities of the tank and only popped up when
it seemed safe.

It began to grow uncomfortably hot in the tank. The backplace which
separated the engine compartment from the turret and steering room
became almost red hot.

Hal's eyes grew dim as he tried to bring the tank's gun to bear on the
enemy. He felt his senses leaving him, and his clothes began to scorch.

"Let's go," he called to Bowers. "I'm through."

They jerked open the little door in the tank nose through which men rise
in jack-in-the-box fashion and hurled themselves out. They struck the
ground upon all fours, but picked themselves up and ran.

Through all the noise of battle that now was drawing closer to them they
heard the machine-gun bullets twanging above their heads. In the
distance was a bit of ruined wall. Directly they gained its shelter.
Before leaving the tank they had seized their revolvers. These they now
carried in their hands. The German infantry bore down on them.

"We're in a bad way, Bowers," said Hal quietly. "What shall we do?"

Bowers tapped his revolver, affectionately it seemed to Hal.

"We've got our gats!" he said.

                               CHAPTER IX

                         CHESTER TO THE RESCUE

Despite himself, Hal was forced to smile.

"'Gats?'" he repeated.

"Well, that's what we call 'em on the East Side in good old New York,"
replied Bowers, also smiling. "But you can call 'em anything you want
to. We ought to be good for a couple of Huns apiece before we go down."

"They'll know we're here, at all events," declared Hal grimly.

As the Germans bore down on them from the east, Hal glanced quickly over
his shoulder and uttered a cry of joy.

"Here come the Yanks!" he shouted.

It was true. Half a mile behind them a long line of the boys in khaki
advanced at the double, spread out in the battle formation which had its
origination in the great war. Behind the first line came a second and
then a third.

Hal estimated the distance with a practiced eye.

"Half a mile," he said.

"Right," said Bowers, "and the Germans are a quarter of a mile
closer--but still not close enough for my little gun here. But if there
is going to be a race for us, I'll lay long odds on Fritz."

"Looks like you'd win," replied Hal. "There is the first messenger," he
added quietly, as a German bullet struck the wall behind which the two
had taken refuge.

Bowers peered over the top of the wall, raised his automatic and would
have fired had Hal not stayed his hand.

"Don't waste your bullets," said the lad. "Remember the watchword of the
battle of Bunker Hill: 'Wait until you see the whites of their eyes.'"

"Right," said Bowers briefly.

Came a volley of bullets from the foremost Germans as Hal and the marine
crouched down behind their refuge. The bullets flattened themselves
against the stout wall, but did no other damage.

"Pure waste of ammunition," was Hal's cool comment.

"What do the fools want to shoot for?" demanded Bowers. "All they have
to do is rush us. We'll probably get a couple of them, but they are
bound to get us in the end."

It appeared that the German officers had reached the same conclusion,
for the rifle fire of the advancing infantry ceased and the Germans came
on with fixed bayonets.

"Here's where the Marine Corps loses a private of the first class," said
Bowers, with something like a grin, as he made sure that his automatic
was ready for business.

"Looks like a certain lieutenant was going along with you," replied Hal,
again glancing over his shoulder and calculating the distance to the
approaching American forces. "Well, they've seen us anyhow," he added.

There came a shout of encouragement from the Yankee line and the troops
appeared to redouble their speed.

"Help on the way, sir," said Bowers.

"And the Germans are here," rejoined Hal. "Don't waste a shot, Bowers."

"I wear a marksman's medal, sir," replied Bowers simply.

The Germans still came forward with a rush. Hal and Bowers stood to the
wall, their revolvers poked slightly above and beyond it.

In this position, both were exposed to rifle fire from the enemy, but if
they intended to fight back and not be caught like rats in a trap there
was no help for it.


Hal's revolver spoke first and a German toppled in his tracks.

Bowers' automatic belched forth a stream of fire as he swept the German
line. At this distance, a miss was practically impossible. Thus ten
shots were hurled among the advancing foes and every bullet found its

"Some shooting, Bowers," said Hal quietly, as he emptied his revolver
into the very faces of the enemy.

There was no time to reload.

Hal clubbed his revolver in his right hand and waited. Bowers did
likewise. Neither thought of surrender. In fact, so inhuman and
barbarous had been the action of the Germans in the past that it was
doubtful whether they would be spared should they raise their hands high
in the air.

"Here they come!" cried Bowers.

The first German to poke his head around the wall from the left tumbled
back again as the butt of Bowers' revolver crashed down on his skull.

Fortunately for the two, the granite wall, at the extreme right, touched
a steep hill, thus preventing a surrounding movement by the enemy.
Nevertheless, it was possible that the enemy might climb the hill and
pick Hal and Bowers off with revolver or rifle at will. On the other
hand, there was little likelihood that they would have time for such a
maneuver before the American troops reached the spot. Besides the left
flank, therefore, the only way the foe could reach the defenders was
over the wall itself.

One German tried this. Climbing to the top of the wall, he leaped down.
As he struck the ground Hal's revolver crashed down on his head and he
lay still.

A moment later two Germans leaped down together. The first Hal met with
a blow to the head with his revolver, but before he could turn, the
second man seized him in a powerful embrace. Hal kicked out with his
left foot, which found the German's shin. At the same time the lad sent
his left fist into the man's face. Down went the German.

Bowers, meanwhile, was equally hard pressed. Two men he disposed of with
his revolver butt and his fists; then the enemy surrounded him. Hal,
thinking to join forces with the marine, had moved backward as other
enemies came over the wall and just before Bowers was hemmed in, the two
managed to get back to back.

American arms flew about like flails and wherever a fist or a revolver
butt landed, a German crashed to earth. Right and left Hal and Bowers
struck out until their arms grew weary.

In the press of conflict, it seemed impossible that the two could remain
on their feet. The struggle would have ended almost as soon as it began
had one of the enemy been able to bring a revolver or rifle to bear, but
so close were the struggling figures that the Germans could not fire
without imminent risk of killing one of their own number.

So the struggle went on.

But an unequal combat such as this could have but one ending. Under the
overwhelming numbers that closed in on them, Hal suddenly went down.

With a bellow like that of an enraged bull, Bowers moved back a trifle
and stood squarely over the lad, one foot on each side of his prostrate

Two Germans jumped him from in front and two from behind. The first he
sent staggering with a powerful blow from his right fist. The second he
hurled from him with a kick; then turned on his heel to face the men
behind. One of these threw his arms around Bowers' neck. Without a
moment's hesitation, the marine buried his teeth in the man's hand and
the strangle hold relaxed.

Whirling about, Bowers caught the fourth man in his arms, picked him up
as though he had been a child and tossed him squarely in the faces of
his comrades. Then, single-handed, he charged his foes.

Rifles were raised by the German soldiers and brought down sharply.
Bowers reeled back, made an effort to retain his feet, and then sank to
the ground unconscious.

Almost at the same moment, and as a German infantryman raised his
bayonet to finish his work, a hail of rifle fire swept the Boche troops.
Followed a loud Yankee cheer and the first American troops entered the

So intent had the enemy been on finishing Hal and Bowers, that they seem
to have paid little attention to the advancing American columns. It is
probable that they had been ordered to finish the work in hand before
worrying about the others and this had taken so long that they were
caught in their own trap.

With cries of terror, the Germans gave ground.

But even as they turned to flee, the Americans were upon them with
swords and bayonets. Foremost in the advancing columns, their swords
throwing circles of steel about their heads and revolvers clasped in
their left hands, belching fire, three officers dashed forward. Two were
marines. The other wore the garb of the regular army. The first two were
Lieutenants Smith and Jenkins; the third, Chester Crawford.

"Get 'em, Smith!" shouted Jenkins. "You may not get another chance."

Smith apparently needed no urging. He led his men on with wild cries. In
the face of these charging demons the Germans, who at first had
attempted to retire with some semblance of order, broke and fled in
utter rout. With loud cheers, the boys from Yankeeland followed close on
their heels.

Suddenly Lieutenant Smith, who was slightly ahead of Jenkins and
Chester, halted. He had come upon the prostrate forms of Hal and Bowers.

"Hello!" he ejaculated, paying no heed to the confusion of battle. "A
marine, and he is down. Fritz will have to pay for that."

He sprang forward again.

A moment later Chester came upon his fallen chum. There was fear in his
heart as he bent over Hal, but this quickly fled as Hal drew a long

Chester lifted Hal to his feet.

"Still alive, eh?" he said.

"Alive and kicking," replied Hal briefly. "Give me a gun or something."

"You'd better----" Chester began.

But Hal stooped quickly, picked up a fallen German's rifle and sprang
forward. Chester darted after him.

Bowers, meanwhile, also had come to his senses and was endeavoring to
get to his feet. A company of marines, moving rapidly forward, encircled
him, steadied him and he also was given a rifle. The marines, closely
followed by regular army troops, continued the pursuit.

Hal turned to Chester as they ran ahead, trying to catch up with the
first-line troops, who by this time were some distance ahead.

"In the nick of time again, old man," he gasped.

"I was afraid I wouldn't be," was Chester's reply.

Ahead, the American advance suddenly slowed down. The reason was soon
clear. German reinforcements had been rushed hurriedly forward, and the
enemy was making a stand. But the Yankee halt was only momentary.

"Forward!" came the command.

                               CHAPTER X

                            THE ENEMY ROUTED

The engagement into which American troops and American marines now
entered bore more resemblance to old-time open fighting than anything
Hal and Chester had seen in months.

A short distance ahead, the German line had halted and drawn up in close
battle formation. Upon this human rock the Yankees hurled themselves
with reckless abandon and wild cheers. One, two, three volleys they
fired at the Germans as they charged and then they were upon the enemy
with the bayonet.

The German line withstood the first onrush and the Americans were
stopped. But in spite of their losses, they were not to be denied, and
they dashed forward again.

By this time Hal and Chester had reached the ranks in front and pressed
into the thick of the conflict. A few moments later Bowers ranged
himself alongside of them. The lads greeted him with a nod; they had no
time for words.

So close were the American soldiers together that for the space of a few
moments it was impossible for them to wield their bayonets with the
greatest effect. All they could do was to press ahead with the bayonets
shoved out in front of them. But this condition was soon remedied. The
men spread out fanwise, thus giving them better opportunity for using
their weapons.

The clash of the bayonets could be heard above the roar of small arm
fire and even above the cheering of the Yankees. For their part, the
Germans fought silently and stubbornly.

Hal caught the point of a stabbing bayonet upon his own weapon and
averted the thrust that otherwise must have pierced his throat. Before
the German who had delivered it could recover his poise, Hal's bayonet
had found its mark and the man fell to the ground to rise no more.

Chester, meanwhile, had accounted for two of the enemy and had not been
touched himself. Bowers, once more in the heat of the conflict, was
fighting like a superman, thrusting right and left with almost
miraculous rapidity.

The German line wavered along its entire length. The Americans,
unconsciously feeling that victory was within their grasp, pressed
forward with even greater ferocity.

Suddenly, to Hal's right, fully fifty Germans threw down their guns as a
single man, and, raising their hands high above their heads, shouted
"Kamerad" almost in unison.

Immediately these men were surrounded, their weapons collected and the
Germans passed back to the rear ranks as prisoners. Following their
action, other groups of Germans, separated from their comrades, followed
the example of the first batch. For a moment it appeared as if the
entire line in action would surrender.

Under harsh commands of their officers, however, the German line
regained something of its cohesion and began a more orderly retreat.

Still the Americans pressed close on their heels. After a few moments of
ineffectually attempting to hold back the Americans while retreating
orderly, the German line broke again and the German soldiers fled.

It now became a case of each man for himself. With a cry to a score of
troopers who had gathered about him, Hal dashed forward, thinking to
take another batch of prisoners. But this particular group of the foes
showed an unexpected burst of speed and the Americans were unable to
overtake them.

From the distance, the German artillery again burst into action and
shells fell dangerously close to Hal's little detachment. In front of
him, Hal saw half a dozen of the enemy go down before the fire of their
own guns.

Immediately the lad called a halt, and then led his men back to the
supporting columns which had come to a pause. Farther back, the American
artillery, which had been silent while the hand-to-hand struggle raged,
became active again. The hour of infantry fighting had passed and the
big guns took up the battle.

Hastily the Americans fell to work with intrenching tools to make secure
their newly-won positions against a possible German attack. Only a thin
line of skirmishers stood to their rifles to repel any attack that might
develop while the digging in was in progress.

Hal found Chester with the marine, Bowers, a short distance back of the
first line.

"Glad you're both safe," he said as he walked up to them. "Fortunately I
was not even touched."

"Nor I," said Chester, "but our marine friend here didn't fare quite so

"That so?" said Hal, turning to Bowers. "Where are you wounded?"

"In the left shoulder," answered the marine, "but it's just a scratch."

"Nevertheless, you had better report and have it attended to at once,"
advised Hal. "Complications are likely to develop, you know, and we
can't afford to lose a man unnecessarily."

"Very well, sir," said Bowers. "I shall heed your advice."

He saluted, turned on his heel and walked rapidly away.

"A good man, Chester," said Hal. "He and I went through rather a
ticklish bit of work and he certainly upheld the traditions of the

"That so?" said Chester. "How did you happen to get so well acquainted
with him?"

In a few words Hal explained, and added:

"Now give me an account of your troubles since I saw you last."

"Well," said Chester with a laugh, "you seem to have had all the fun. In
my case there isn't much to tell. I lost sight of you soon after the
advance began and before long found myself in the midst of the fighting.
I had a couple of narrow escapes in the course of the battle and I guess
I got in a couple of good licks. Then, when we halted the first time, I
hunted around for you, but you were missing. I was able to learn,
however, that you had gone off on a little jaunt to put a certain
machine gun out of action, but that's all I could learn. I began to fear
you had been killed. But when we came in sight of two men holding that
little wall in face of the entire German army, it seemed, I told myself,
that it was you. Events have proved that I was right. Then I came on as
fast as I could, Smith and Jenkins with me. That's about all."

"Well," said Hal, "I've had about enough excitement for one day. I vote
we report to General Lawrence, who I see has moved his quarters close to
the front. After that, unless there is work in store for us, I am in
favor of finding a place to take a little nap."

"Suits me," agreed Chester. "Come on."

But, as it developed, there was to be no sleep for either Hal or Chester
for hours to come.

General Lawrence received the reports of the two lads in silence and for
some moments seemed wrapped in thought. At last he said:

"You have done very well, young men. You will not think I am imposing
upon you when I ask whether you are willing to take despatches for me to
General Pershing?"

"Not at all, sir," said Hal. "We shall be very glad."

General Lawrence took a sheaf of papers from his pocket and passed them
to Hal.

"These must be delivered to General Pershing with all possible haste,"
he said. "In a high-powered automobile, you should be able to reach his
quarters soon after dark. It is probable that you will be ordered back
here at once."

He indicated that the interview was at an end. Hal and Chester saluted
and took their departure.

Ten minutes later they were speeding westward in a big army automobile,
Hal himself at the wheel.

"If you ask me, Chester," said Hal as they sped along, "these marines,
from what I have seen of them, are going to prove among the most
effective units in Uncle Sam's army."

"What makes you think so?" demanded Chester.

"Well, take this man Bowers for example. Of course, he's a powerful man,
but it's his spirit that counts--he's afraid of nothing. He's perfectly
cool under fire and when it comes to hand-to-hand fighting I doubt if
there's a man in the German army who could stand up against him."

"He's only one," said Chester.

"That's true enough. But look at the rest of them--rough and ready every
one. Hard men they are. Most of them look as though they had come off
the Bowery in New York, or were prize fighters, or gun-men. They are
bound to give a good account of themselves in a fight. Hardly a marine
who doesn't look as though he had been brought up to fight."

"I guess most of them have," replied Chester dryly. "They gave a good
account of themselves to-day, as far as that goes."

"So they did," agreed Hal, "but their numbers were comparatively small.
Take a couple of divisions now, and I'll venture that they could drive
back twice their number."

"That's a pretty fair-sized order, Hal."

"So it is, but that's just what I think."

"Well, I hope you're right. We'll have need of men like that. But look!
we seem to be coming to some place."

"We'll stop and make sure of our bearings," said Hal, and brought the
car to a stop before a group of French soldiers.

For the benefit of the reader, it may be said that up to this time, the
American troops had not been acting independently of their British and
French allies. Up to this time there was no distinct American army in
the field. American troops had been brigaded with French and British
divisions for seasoning purposes, for the Allied staff could not
understand how raw troops could possibly hold their own against the
Germans without having been put through a rigorous course of training
with veteran troops.

And yet British and French alike soon were to learn the true mettle of
American troops, whether fully trained or not. They were to learn that
wherever an American soldier was ordered he went, or died in the effort.

The date was not now far distant when this was to be brought home to the
British and French in a manner they will never forget and, as it
developed, it was the American marines who were to prove it; for at the
battle of Chateau Thierry the American marine was to prove that as a
fighting man there does not live his equal.

From a French officer, Hal gained needed directions and the big army
auto continued its journey. Darkness fell and they still sped on. At
eight o'clock Hal stopped the machine in the center of a big army camp
and stepped out. He made his way to General Pershing's quarters. Chester
went with him.

                               CHAPTER XI

                            A FRIEND IN NEED

"Help! Help!"

A voice, strangely familiar to Hal and Chester, floated into the
American trenches from the darkness of No Man's Land beyond.

"Hello," said Captain O'Neil, "somebody left out there, eh? Well, I
guess he'll have to make the best of it for the night. Fritz is in an
ugly humor this evening. No use stirring him up. We're pretty
comfortable here for a change."

"Seems pretty tough to leave him out there though, sir," Chester

"So it does. Still when he came into this war he must have known it
wasn't a game of tiddlewinks. He'll have to take his chances same as the
rest of us. Anyhow, he's probably in a shell hole and should be safe
enough. But I thought all our men returned safely after the raid."

"I thought so, too, sir," said Hal. "There wasn't a man reported

"Probably a straggler from another brigade, sir," said Chester.

"Most likely," rejoined Captain O'Neil. "We'll see what can be done for
him in the morning."

He strode away.

It was two days after Hal and Chester had delivered General Lawrence's
despatches to General Pershing. Contrary to their expectations, they had
not been ordered to return again to General Lawrence's command, but had
been returned to their own division, which at that time chanced to be
guarding front-line trenches in the Soissons region only a short
distance south of the Marne. Arrived, they had reported at once to
Captain O'Neil and had been assigned new quarters.

To-night they were keeping watch. Early in the evening they had
accompanied a party of troops in a raid on a certain point in one of the
German trenches. Several prisoners had been made and the Americans had
not lost a man. It was no wonder, then, that they should be surprised at
the voice which called from No Man's Land.

The voice came again:

"Help! Help!"

"By Jove, Hal!" said Chester, "there is something familiar about that
voice. Wonder who it can be?"

Hal shrugged his shoulders, a habit occasioned by long association with
French troops.

"Don't know," was his reply; "but I'll admit I seem to have heard it
before. We'll see when daylight comes."

At that moment a private by the name of McHugh began to sing.

"Where do we go from here, boys, where do we go from here?" were the
words of the song that broke the uncanny stillness of the trenches. It
was the song that had come into fame after the American troops reached
the battlefields of France--the song to which American regiments marched
into battle.

Other voices took up the song.

Came a hail in broken English from the German trenches scarce a hundred
yards away.

"Hey there, Yanks!"

Instantly the singing in the American trenches came to a stop.

"What do you want, Fritz?" Hal called back.

"Don't make so much noise, all you fellows, and let the boy sing."

The boy, Chester took it, was McHugh. He could not have been more than

"He has a grand voice," the German continued. "If he will sing us a song
we will let the man in the shell hole oud there go back."

At the same time the voice from No Man's Land cried a third time:

"Help! Help!"

Chester took counsel with Hal.

"Well," he said, "shall we take Fritz at his word?"

It should be explained here that incidents such as this were not
uncommon in the trenches where friend and foe were so close together.
More than once British and American soldiers had shared their tobacco
and other luxuries with the less fortunate Germans. Sometimes,
conversations like this were carried on for hours at a time.

"Trouble is," Hal answered Chester, "you can't trust them. It's likely
to be a ruse to get the man into the open so they can take a shot at

"And it may be they're acting in good faith this time."

"Oh, it may be, of course." Hal turned to the private. "What do you say,
McHugh, will you sing for Fritz?"

"Well," said McHugh, "I didn't enlist to come over here and entertain
the Boche, but if it'll do that chap out there any good, why count me

"Very good," said Hal. He raised his voice. "Still there, Fritz?"

"Yah! What have you decided?"

"He'll sing for you. But we'll hold you to your word."

"Good," said the German. "Let him stand up on the top of the trench so
we can see."

"Oh, no you don't, Fritz," Hal shouted back. "We're on to your tricks."

"But it is no trick," the German protested. "We give our words."

"Your word is not always to be trusted, Fritz."

"But me," said the voice. "I am Hans Loeder, who sang on the American
stage. I give the word of an artist."

"By Jove, sir!" ejaculated McHugh at this juncture. "I know him well. In
Chicago I once took lessons from him."

"So?" exclaimed Hal in surprise. "Then maybe you would wish to talk to
him. But remember he is a German, after all, and be careful."

"Hello there, professor!" called McHugh. "Don't you remember me?"

"Vat?" came the reply. "Can it be my old pupil Daniel McHugh?"

"The same, professor," McHugh shouted back.

"No wonder I recognize the voice," came the response. "Did I not say
always that you had talent? And now you will sing for us, eh?"

"Sure," said McHugh. "I'll take your word, professor."

Without further words, the young soldier sprang to the top of the

"Well," said Hal, "if you're going up, so am I."

He sprang up also, and Chester followed suit. A moment later fully a
hundred American heads appeared over the top of the trenches. Beyond, in
the darkness, German heads also bobbed up.

"Now professor," said McHugh, "what shall it be?"

"Someding lively," was the reply. "Someding to make us forget why we are

"The Darktown Colored Ball," suggested McHugh.

"Yah!" came the cry from the German lines. "Dat is id. Someding with the

So McHugh sang. And when he concluded, a hail of applause came from the
enemy lines. The American troops also applauded and cheered. Two more
popular songs McHugh sang and then, when the applause had died down, he
called out:

"That's all for to-night, professor. More some other time."

"Good," was the shouted reply. "Now I keep my word. Tell your friend oud
there he may return without fear."

"Come on in, you out there," cried one of the Yankee soldiers.

"Oh, no," the man in the shell hole shouted back. "They just want to get
me out there for a little target practice."

"Rats!" shouted McHugh. "Crawl out of there and come in like a man.
We're here to protect you if we have to."

"You haven't done much of a job of it so far," said the voice from No
Man's Land.

A German voice broke in.

"You can have but ten minutes," it said. "After that you must take your

"Fair enough, Fritz," called an American. "Hey! You in the shell hole,
come on in here."

"It's safer here," was the reply.

Again a German voice interrupted.

"If the Yank is afraid," it said, "we will allow two of your number to
go and get him."

Half a dozen men would have leaped from the trench had Hal not stayed

"You stay here and cover us," he said. "Lieutenant Crawford and I will
go. At the first sign of treachery, fire without hesitation."

"Very well, sir," said Private McHugh.

Hal and Chester leaped down and advanced into the darkness of No Man's

"No use coming after me now," cried the voice in the shell hole. "I know
when I'm well off. I don't want to be shot in the back."

Hal started.

"Great Scott, Chester!" he cried. "Haven't you recognized that voice

"No," returned Chester in some surprise. "Have you?"

"Rather," said Hal dryly. "It's Stubbs."

Chester clapped a hand on his leg.

"By all that's wonderful!" he exclaimed. "Now why couldn't I place that

The lads increased their pace and at length they came to the shell
crater where the lone American had taken shelter from the German fire.

"Come on out of there," said Hal, disguising his voice.

"Not much," said the man inside.

"Don't be a fool, man," said Chester angrily. "We've only a few moments'
grace. Hurry, now!"

"Say," came the voice from the darkness, "why are you fellows bent on
getting me killed? I haven't done anything to you."

"We'll have to hurry, Hal," said Chester. "Let's go down and get him."

The two lads leaped into the shell crater and laid rough hands upon the
occupant, who squirmed and struggled in vain.

"Let me go," he cried angrily, and struck out right and left.

"Listen, Stubbs," said Hal. "If you don't come out of here right now
I'll have to tap you over the head with my revolver."

The struggles of the man in the shell hole ceased. He almost moaned.

"Hal!" he gasped, and muttered to himself. "Anthony, you certainly are
out of luck. Something always happens. And I suppose Chester is here,
too, eh?"

"Right," said Chester.

"Poor Stubbs," said the occupant of the hole. "You're a dead man!"

                              CHAPTER XII

                            STUBBS EXPLAINS

"Come along, Stubbs," said Chester. "Time is growing short. Fritz is
likely to open fire most any minute."

"And the first shot is sure to hit me," said Stubbs. "Well, I can run if
I have to."

He sprang out of the shell crater as he spoke and made for the American
lines at full speed.

"Guess we might as well do a little sprint ourselves," said Hal.

The two lads dashed after Stubbs.

Stubbs was surrounded by a crowd of soldiers when Hal and Chester
clambered into the trenches. There was amazement on the faces of most of
the men at the fact that a man should appear from No Man's Land and not
be attired in uniform; for Stubbs wore only a plain khaki suit, cut
after the fashion of military garments, it is true, but still plainly
not a uniform.

"Glad to see you boys again," said Stubbs, as Hal and Chester walked up
to him. "Where've you been all these days?"

"Fighting," said Chester, "which is more than you can say, Mr. Stubbs."

"That so?" said Stubbs in a huff. "Maybe you think I was out in No Man's
Land there for my health, eh?"

"Well, hardly," Hal broke in, "but I'll wager you didn't go out there to
have a shot at a Boche."

"Come, Mr. Stubbs," said Chester, "tell us just why you were in that
shell hole."

"I was in that hole," said Stubbs, "because the managing editor of the
New York _Gazette_ said he wanted a good descriptive story of a battle.
I figured that a shell hole was as good a place as any to see what was
going on."

"Still a newspaper man, then, Stubbs?" said Hal.

"You bet."

"I thought you had gone out of that business," said Chester. "I remember
finding you in Berlin once on a mission that had nothing to do with a

"Oh, well, a fellow likes to help out once in a while," rejoined Stubbs

"Then why don't you shoulder a gun, Stubbs?" demanded Hal.

"Look here," said Stubbs angrily. "I'm getting good and tired of having
you fellows pick on me all the time. I haven't joined out because, in
the first place, I'm no fighter. I'm of a great deal more value in this
war in my present capacity. There are enough young men to do the
fighting. I'm trying to keep the folks back home in touch with what
you're doing. And you can believe me or not, they are glad to be kept in

"I've no doubt of it, Mr. Stubbs," said Hal with a smile. "Never mind,
we won't pester you any more for a while."

"For a while, eh?" said Stubbs, grinning. "I didn't think you could mean

At that moment Captain O'Neil approached. Hal and Chester saluted and
stood at attention.

"You had better turn in, lieutenants," said the captain. He eyed Stubbs
closely. "What's this man doing here?" he wanted to know.

"War correspondent, sir," replied Hal, and introduced Stubbs.

"You have no business at the front, Mr. Stubbs," said Captain O'Neil.
"I'm afraid I'll have to ask you to leave. Not that I am afraid you'll
let loose any military secrets--the censor will see to that when you
file your dispatches--but it's against orders, you know."

"Maybe so," said Stubbs, "but somebody has to tell the people at home
what is going on over here."

"The proper authorities will see to that, sir."

"Well," said Stubbs, "in my mind the newspapers are the proper
authorities in this case. They know how to tell the people so they will

"I don't wish to quarrel with you, sir," said Captain O'Neil sharply.

"Nor I," said Stubbs. "I'm not a fighting man, captain."

"Then, sir, you must leave at once or I shall be forced to place you
under arrest."

"Oh, no you won't," said Stubbs grimly. "Hold on," he cried, as Captain
O'Neil took a step forward. "No offense, captain. Just have a look at
this paper."

He produced a document from his pocket and passed it to the captain.
Captain O'Neil read it quickly and then passed it back.

"Why didn't you say in the first place that you had a pass from the

"You didn't give me time, captain."

Captain O'Neil turned to Hal and Chester.

"You may care for the company of war correspondents," he said with some
heat. "Every man to his choice. But I don't."

He turned on his heel and strode away.

"There, Stubbs," said Chester. "You've made him mad."

"Well, I can't help it because he is so touchy, can I?" asked Stubbs.

"Perhaps not. But there was no need to offend him."

"Most of these officers are a trifle too cocky," declared Stubbs. "I
thought I'd take him down a peg."

"Don't forget, Mr. Stubbs," said Chester, taking a step forward, "that
I'm an officer, too. I can have you placed under arrest, you know."

"You won't, though," said Stubbs.

"Won't I?" said Chester. "Why won't I?"

"In the first place," said Stubbs, "because you are too glad to see me
again. And in the second place, because I've got something to tell you."

"Out with it then, Mr. Stubbs," said Hal.

"Wait a minute, now, just wait a minute," said Stubbs. "Take me to your
quarters where we can be quiet. You'll have to put me up for the night,
anyhow, and we might as well be comfortable while we chat."

The three made their way to the lads' quarters. Stubbs sat down on the
edge of Hal's bunk and produced a pipe.

"Learned to smoke yet?" he asked of the boys.

"Not yet, Stubbs," said Hal, "and I guess we never will."

"Take my advice and learn," said Stubbs. "It's a great comfort to a man

"Perhaps," said Chester. "But it's a habit too easily cultivated and too
hard to stop. I'm satisfied without tobacco."

"Every man to his taste, as Captain O'Neil says," commented Stubbs with
a laugh.

"Come, Stubbs," said Hal. "You said you had something to tell us. Out
with it."

Stubbs puffed away for some moments in silence and it was plain to Hal
and Chester that he was thinking deeply.

"I suppose I really should say nothing," said Stubbs, "but I know that I
can depend on you boys to repeat nothing I say. Besides, I've simply got
to express my feelings to someone."

"If it's only an expression of feeling, maybe it isn't so important
after all, Stubbs," remarked Chester.

"Well," said Stubbs, "the thing that I mean is this. I am willing to bet
anything I ever expect to have that what I have learned in the last few
days is going to result in an Allied offensive that will put an end to
this war."

Hal and Chester sprang to their feet.

"You're sure, Stubbs?" demanded Chester.

"I'm sure enough in my own mind," declared the war correspondent, waving
the lads back to their seats. "Of course, it is always possible that
things won't work out the way I figure; but knowing the caliber of a
certain man in Uncle Sam's expeditionary forces I figure that they will
work out."

"Explain, Mr. Stubbs," said Hal.

"Has it ever struck either of you," said Stubbs slowly, between puffs at
his pipe, "that it's all foolishness for the Allies to remain snug and
wait until the enemy does the attacking? I mean, haven't you thought
that perhaps more could be accomplished if the Allies carried the
fighting to the foe?"

Hal nodded.

"It has," he said.

"Well, the same thought has struck some one else," declared Stubbs.

"You mean----" began Chester.

"Exactly," said Stubbs. "I mean General Pershing, unless I have been
grossly misinformed."

"You mean that General Pershing will order an American advance?"
exclaimed Chester.

"No, no. He can't do that. Marshal Foch is commander-in-chief of the
Allied forces and it's up to him to decide. What I mean is that General
Pershing is not altogether pleased with the progress of events. I am
informed that he believes a grand offensive on all fronts would do more
toward ending the war right now than any other one thing."

"Well, why doesn't he tell Marshal Foch so?" demanded Chester.

"That," said Stubbs quietly, "is what I am informed he intends to do."

"Hurray!" shouted Hal.

"Quiet," said Stubbs sharply. "Not a word of what I have told you must
be repeated. It doesn't make any difference how I know all this. It's
sufficient that I do know it. However, things may not work out as I
expect. It is possible that General Pershing's advice may not prevail.
He may be overruled by Marshal Foch and General Haig at their conference

"So there is going to be a conference, eh?" said Hal.

"Yes. As I say, the conference is to be held Thursday, day after
to-morrow. It will be held in Marshal Foch's headquarters. It may result
in developments and it may not. At all events, I am quite certain that
General Pershing will go to the conference prepared to urge an immediate

"By Jove! That sounds awfully good to me!" declared Chester.

"And to me," agreed Hal. "I'd like to be present at that conference."

"We'd all like to be there," said Stubbs dryly. "But there's not a
chance. Not a chance."

But, as it developed, there was a chance; not a chance for Stubbs, war
correspondent, perhaps, but more than a chance for Hal and Chester.

It was pure accident that gave them this opportunity.

                              CHAPTER XIII

                            A PIECE OF LUCK

Eight o'clock Thursday morning found Hal and Chester, in a large army
automobile, returning from the quarters of General Lawrence, where they
had been sent by General Allen, who commanded the division in which the
boys served.

As they rode along, Hal, turning a sharp curve, applied the emergency
brakes and brought the car to a stop only a few feet from a second
machine, which appeared to be stalled in the middle of the road.

There were only two figures in the second automobile, and as Hal looked
quickly at the man in the tonneau he jumped to the ground and came to
attention. Chester, with a quick look at one of the occupants of the
car, did likewise.

Both lads had recognized General Pershing.

General Pershing returned the salutes and spoke sharply.

"You drive somewhat recklessly, sirs," he said.

"Had you not been prompt in applying your brakes you would have run us

"I'm very sorry, sir," said Hal.

"It can't be helped now," said General Pershing, "and it is good fortune
that brings you here now. My own car has run out of 'gas,' due to the
carelessness of my driver. I have sent him for another car, but now that
you are here I shall change. Come, Colonel Gibson."

The American general and his companion alighted and took seats in Hal's
car. General Pershing motioned Hal to the wheel and Chester was also
waved into a front seat.

"You will drive me to General Lawrence's quarters," said General
Pershing, "and this will give you an opportunity to do all the speeding
you care to. I must see General Lawrence and be back at my own
headquarters by noon."

"Very well, sir," said Hal.

He turned the car quickly and soon was speeding in the direction from
which he had come.

Neither Hal nor Chester said a word as the car sped on. The trip to
General Lawrence's quarters was made in record time, and Hal and Chester
remained in the car while the two generals talked alone.

Half an hour later General Pershing, still accompanied by Colonel
Gibson, re-entered the automobile.

"You know where my temporary quarters are in the city of Soissons?" he

"Yes, sir," replied Hal.

General Pershing leaned forward in the car and gazed at the two lads

"Surely I know you two officers," he said. "Your faces are very

"Yes, sir," said Hal. "We had the pleasure of going to Berlin for you,

General Pershing clapped his hands.

"I know you now," he said. "Colonel, these are the young officers who
went to Berlin and brought back the list of German spies in America."

"That so, sir?" said Colonel Gibson. "Seems to me they are very young to
have been entrusted with such a task."

"Young they are in years," said the American commander-in-chief, "but
they are older than a good many of us in experience, so far as this war
is concerned. If my memory serves me right, I believe they put in
several years with the French and British before the United States
entered the conflict. Am I right?" he asked of Hal.

"Yes, sir."

"Now, sir," said General Pershing, "you will make all haste toward my

Hal sent the car forward with a lurch and in a moment they were speeding
toward Soissons at a rate of speed close to sixty miles an hour.

From time to time, they passed a car going in the opposite direction,
and several times going around curves they seemed in imminent danger of
running into another machine. But Hal was a careful, though swift,
driver, and his hands were perfectly steady on the wheel.

They flashed through several little villages so fast that the natives
stared in open-mouthed wonder.

Hal's sense of direction stood him in good stead, and he did not find it
necessary to stop once and ask directions. He had been over the road
many times before and he swerved from road to road with unerring

In the rear seat, General Pershing and Colonel Gibson talked guardedly
and neither Hal nor Chester could understand what they said had they
wished to eavesdrop. But such was not their intention. Both lads were
highly elated at their good fortune, for both realized perfectly that it
was no small honor to drive and ride in the car occupied by the
commander-in-chief of all the American forces in France.

Two hours passed and Hal began to recognize the familiar landmarks of
the city of Soissons. He breathed a sigh of relief, for while he was
confident in his own mind that he had kept to the right road, there was
always the possibility that he might mistake it.

He slowed the car down a trifle.

"We should reach your headquarters in fifteen minutes, sir," he called
to General Pershing over his shoulder.

The American commander made no reply, but Hal had expected none.

It was less than fifteen minutes later that Hal drew the automobile to a
stop before the handsome villa that General Pershing occupied as his

"A fine piece of driving, lieutenant," said General Pershing to Hal, as
he alighted, followed by Colonel Gibson.

"Will you both report to me in my private office in fifteen minutes?"

"Yes, sir," said Hal and Chester almost in one voice.

They, too, had alighted from the car and now stood at attention as
General Pershing and Colonel Gibson ascended the few steps to the door
of the old French villa.

"Wonder what he wants with us now?" said Hal, after the American
commander had disappeared within.

"Maybe he wants us to drive him to Marshal Foch's headquarters in time
for the conference Stubbs mentioned," replied Chester.

"By Jove! Maybe that is it," exclaimed Hal. "But I'd like to go farther
than that. I'd like to be present at the conference."

"Guess that's asking a little too much," smiled Chester.

"Perhaps, but I'd give a whole lot to be there."

The lads continued to speculate until Hal, after a glance at his watch,
announced that it was time to report to General Pershing. They ascended
the steps and gave their names to the orderly at the door. They were
ushered immediately into their commander's private office, thus
indicating that the latter had given word to expect them.

General Pershing was seated at his desk in the far corner of the room
when Hal and Chester entered. His back was to the door and he did not
see them. The lads came to attention and waited.

After scrawling his name to several documents, General Pershing swung
about in his chair.

"As you know," he said, addressing both lads without preliminaries, "my
regular driver has been left far behind. It is imperative that I reach
the headquarters of Marshal Foch by four o'clock this afternoon and for
that reason I have decided to impress you into service as my driver,
Lieutenant Paine."

"Very well, sir," said Hal, saluting.

"And you, Lieutenant Crawford," continued the American commander, "will
accompany your friend because I know how inseparable you are."

"Thank you, sir," said Chester.

"Will you overhaul the car, lieutenant, and see that it is perfectly
fit?" instructed General Pershing.

Hal saluted again, and would have turned on his heel to depart, but his
commander stayed him.

"One moment," he said. "I have done some thinking in the last few
minutes and I am convinced that you young men are the ones I may have
need of for a certain piece of important work. I can't say as much as I
would like to right now. But I can say this: I shall confer with Marshal
Foch and Marshal Haig this afternoon on a certain matter. If the
conference results as I hope it will, I shall not have need of you; or
if I fail to make my point I shall have no need of you. If the
conference, however, fails to reach a definite decision I shall have
need of at least two courageous and daring spirits. In view of your past
successes, I believe that I may depend on you."

General Pershing paused.

"We will do the best we can, sir," said Hal.

"Because you must be familiar with my views to render the best possible
service," General Pershing went on, "I am inclined to believe that it
would be well to have you present at the conference."

Hal's heart leaped into his throat with joy. Chester had hard work
repressing a wild hurrah. But neither said a word nor moved a facial

"You will learn at the conference," said General Pershing, "what I am
not at liberty to say now."

"We know what we shall learn, all right," said Hal to himself.

"Now," continued the American commander, "if you will look over the car
carefully, I will be with you inside of ten minutes."

Hal and Chester saluted their commander, wheeled on their heels and
marched from the room.

"Hurrah, Hal!" shouted Chester when they were out of earshot of their
commander's office. "What do you think of that?"

"I am afraid it's too good to be true," declared Hal. "I'm afraid I
shall wake up and find it only a dream. Better pinch me so I know I'm
not asleep. Ouch!" he cried, as Chester applied thumb and forefinger to
his arm. "I didn't mean for you to take me literally. Guess I'm awake
all right. Now for the car."

Hal went over the car carefully. It was in perfect shape. The gasoline
tank was replenished and Hal gave the car a "drink." Hardly had he
completed his task, when Chester cried:

"Quick, Hal! Here he comes!"

A moment later General Pershing, accompanied by two of his staff,
climbed into the car. Hal took his place at the wheel. Chester sat
beside him.

"A little speed, lieutenant!" said General Pershing, with a half smile.

Hal sent the big automobile forward.

                              CHAPTER XIV

                             THE CONFERENCE

It was now after noon and Hal knew that it would require swift driving
to reach Marshal Foch's headquarters, near Paris, before four o'clock,
the hour of the conference. Nevertheless, the lad had perfect confidence
in himself and his ability to handle the big army automobile, and he
felt quite certain that he would reach the French commander's
headquarters before the appointed hour, barring accidents.

Both Hal and Chester were almost bubbling over with excitement, for each
felt sure that he was to be present at a time when history was to be
made. Naturally, in spite of the fact that they had seen active service
with the British and French, both had the utmost confidence in General
Pershing and each was positive in his own mind that the counsel of the
American commander would prevail.

The trip passed without incident. Hal kept the huge car going at top
speed most of the time, slowing down only for the sharpest curves and to
avoid possible collisions with cars approaching from the opposite
direction. Therefore, it was not yet half past three o'clock when the
automobile drew into the outskirts of the little town where Field
Marshal Foch, commander of all the Allied forces, had established his

It became apparent as they moved into the village that news of the
approaching conference had spread through the troops. The British,
French and what few American soldiers there were in that particular
sector cheered wildly as the automobile bearing the American
commander-in-chief flashed by.

Directly Hal brought the machine to a halt in front of a house somewhat
larger than the rest, over which floated the combined flags of the three
nations--France, England and the United States. Hal guessed rightly that
it was in this house that Marshal Foch made his headquarters.

Before the building was a long line of French soldiers. To the right,
these were flanked by a platoon of British, while on the left stood the
American guard of honor. Nearby was a large automobile bearing the
British arms. Chester surmised correctly that Marshal Haig had already

General Pershing stepped lightly from his car. Before moving away,
surrounded by his staff, he motioned Hal and Chester to follow him.

The lads followed their commander up the short flight of steps and
presently he and his staff were ushered into a large room in the rear on
the first floor. At the door General Pershing was greeted by Marshal
Foch and Marshal Haig in person, for the French and British commanders
were not standing upon ceremony.

Inside, the three commanders took seats at a table in the center of the
room, the members of their various staffs standing behind them. Besides
the formal salutes when the three commanders met, there had been a
hearty handshake all around. Now they were ready for business.

Marshal Foch arose and spoke to General Pershing.

"I have called this conference at your request, General," he said, "so
it would seem to me that we should hear from you first."

Marshal Foch sat down and General Pershing rose to his feet.

"First, sir," he said, "I must explain the presence here of so many of
my aides. Besides several members of my regular staff, I am accompanied
by two young lieutenants whom, if I am not mistaken, Sir Douglas Haig
knows well. I refer to Lieutenants Paine and Crawford."

Marshal Haig nodded to General Pershing and then to Hal and Chester.

"I know them well," he said, and then to Hal and Chester: "Glad to see
you again, sirs."

Hal and Chester saluted stiffly.

"I have brought them here," said General Pershing, "in order that they
may hear what I have to say, for it may be that I shall have need of
them to prove to you the correctness of my views."

"You need make no apology for their presence, General," said Marshal

"Very well, sir," returned General Pershing. "I shall proceed."

Every ear in the room was strained to catch the next few words of the
American commander, for there was not a man in the room who did not
realize that it must have been a matter of prime importance thus to
bring the three great commanders together. It is probable that most of
the American officers present had a general idea of what General
Pershing was about to propose; but neither the British nor French
commanders or members of their staffs had had an inkling of it. Hal and
Chester listened eagerly for General Pershing's next words.

"I want to ask you, gentlemen," said General Pershing quietly, toying
with a paperweight on the table as he spoke, "whether you do not think
we have remained passive long enough--whether it is not, in your
opinion, time that we assumed the offensive rather than to wait until
the enemy brings the fight to us?"

Marshal Foch and Marshal Haig were on their feet in a moment. Marshal
Haig spoke first.

"You mean that you would have us attack at once?" he asked.

"I do, sir," returned General Pershing grimly.

There was an audible catching of breaths throughout the room. Marshal
Foch was silent a full moment. Then he said:

"We haven't the men, general."

"Black Jack" Pershing scowled.

"What's the matter with the Americans?" he demanded. "I've a million of
them over here and there are more coming. They've been here for months
and have done practically nothing and they want to know why. What's the
matter with the Americans, sir?"

Marshal Foch shrugged his shoulders and elevated his hands.

"But, sir," he protested, "they are untrained, unseasoned, raw troops.
Surely you cannot expect them to stand against the enemy's veterans. It
would be suicide."

"I agree with Marshal Foch," Marshal Haig interposed. "It is true they
have proven their mettle wherever they have gone into action, but they
have not had the training."

An angry light gleamed in General Pershing's eyes.

"They'll go any place you order 'em, sir. I'll stake my reputation on
that," he thundered.

A hush of expectancy fell over the room. The air was surcharged with

In spite of the feeling of pride at his commander's words, Hal felt a
thrill of fear shoot through him. Was it possible that the heads of the
Allied armies were about to quarrel?

But Hal need not have worried. Men like these did not indulge in foolish
quarrels. They spoke strongly because they felt strongly, and each
realized that the other was advancing views that he considered best.

General Pershing brought a clenched fist down on the table. Pens and ink
stands jumped and rattled.

"I say that we have delayed long enough," he declared. "What have we
been doing to regain lost territory? Nothing. True, we've halted the
enemy every time he struck, but we've not regained a mile of lost
ground. I say it's time to hit back."

"If we only had the necessary numerical superiority," said Marshal Haig.

"I tell you, sir," said General Pershing, "that my men can stand
up--yes, they can go through--the best the enemy has to offer. Their
morale is the greatest of any army that ever existed. Order them to
drive the enemy back, and they'll drive him back. I know what I am
talking about, sirs. Try them!"

Again there was silence in the room, broken at last by Marshal Foch.

"It is well," he said, "for a general to have that confidence in his
men; and I am sure that your men have every bit as much confidence in
you. I am impressed with your words; and yet I am loath to act on your
suggestion with untried troops. I have seen such troops in action--the
Portuguese. The enemy scattered them like chaff before the wind."

"My men are Americans, sir," said General Pershing simply.

"Oh, I know the traditions of the American fighting man," said Marshal
Foch. "I know that the trained American soldier is the equal of any in
the world. But still I hesitate. If I could only be sure that the enemy
has exhausted himself in his latest offensive--if I only knew the
disposition of his forces--then I might act. I have, of course, a
general idea of the enemy's activities, but not enough, I am afraid, in
ordering a grand offensive, as you suggest."

"I don't care anything about the enemy's positions," declared General
Pershing. "What I say is this: Order the Americans to break the German
line and they'll break it!"

Again Marshal Foch shook his head.

"I am afraid the time is not ripe," he said sadly.

For a moment General Pershing seemed on the verge of making an angry
retort. Instead, he said quietly:

"I was prepared to hear you advance such views, sir, so I have another
suggestion to offer."

"Proceed, sir," said Marshal Foch.

"It is this," said General Pershing: "I want to ask you if you will act
on my suggestion if I can gain for you such information as will convince
you that the time is really ripe to strike? Will you act on my
suggestion if I furnish you with better figures as to the enemy's
strength in the various battle sectors and the disposition of his

"Why," replied Marshal Foch, "if you can show me that the time is ripe
to strike, of course I shall strike. But I fear that is a very large
task, sir."

"Very true, sir. Yet I shall endeavor to fulfill it. It was for that
reason, sir, that I brought with me the two young lieutenants I

Marshal Foch surveyed Hal and Chester keenly.

"They are very young," he said deprecatingly.

"True," said General Pershing, "yet I say with all positiveness that
they are among the most capable of my officers."

"I can vouch for that, sir," said Marshal Haig.

Again Marshal Foch surveyed the lads closely, much to their

"Their names?" he asked of General Pershing.

"Lieutenants Paine and Crawford, sir."

"Lieutenants Paine and Crawford," said Marshal Foch, in a very quiet
voice, "will you please step forward?"

                               CHAPTER XV

                        INTO THE ENEMY'S COUNTRY

Hal and Chester advanced to the center of the room. They realized that
all eyes were on them and they held themselves stiffly erect.

"It is high praise I have heard of you, sirs," said Marshal Foch
quietly. "I trust that, should we have further need of your services,
you will be as fortunate as I judge you have been in the past."

Hal and Chester bowed slightly, but said nothing. Marshal Foch turned to
General Pershing.

"I do not know as there is need of further discussion," he said. "If you
have decided, general, that you will entrust the work you have mentioned
to these young officers, I should say that the sooner they get about it
the better for all concerned."

General Pershing bowed.

"Very well, sir," he replied.

"In that event," continued Marshal Foch, "I declare this conference

There was a scuffling of feet as the commanders and their staffs moved
toward the door. Almost before they had all departed, Marshal Foch had
turned again to his desk and was immersed in a mass of documents and

General Pershing led the way directly toward his automobile, and
motioned Hal again to the driver's seat. Chester climbed in beside his

"Back to my headquarters," General Pershing instructed Hal.

The return trip was made in silence and in record time.

As General Pershing alighted before his own quarters, he motioned Hal
and Chester to accompany him to his office. Once there, he dismissed all
members of his staff, and spoke to the two lads.

"You know, of course," he said, "what I wish you to ascertain for me,
and you know also why I desire this information. If you are not prepared
to undertake this mission, I wish you to understand that you may say so
without fear of censure."

"We shall be very glad to do what we can, sir," said Chester.

"Very well," said General Pershing. "Now I want you both to realize the
necessity of haste, but at the same time I want you to act with caution
enough not to jeopardize the result of your mission. The main thing is
that I must have the facts. That is why I believe it is better that two
men be dispatched about the work. If one man comes to grief, the other
may return safely. You understand that?"

"Perfectly, sir," replied Hal quietly. "You may be sure that neither of
us will risk a failure merely to help the other."

"Well spoken," said General Pershing. "I feel sure that I could not
entrust the task to better hands."

"Thank you, sir," was the reply from both lads.

"Now," said General Pershing, "I do not wish to burden you with orders
and instructions. It is my belief that you have more chance of success
if given a free hand. Therefore, I shall leave it to you entirely to
choose your method of campaign. But remember the essential points--the
strength and disposition of the enemy's troops in the various battle
sectors, and the question of whether the morale of the German armies is
still equal to withstanding an offensive such as I suggested at the

"We understand, sir," said Chester.

"That is all then," said the American commander. "You will report to me
the result of your mission at the earliest possible moment. I must
impress upon you, however, the fact that results may be more
far-reaching if you can make it convenient to return within seven days."

"We shall do our best to return within that time, sir," declared

"Then good luck to you," said General Pershing.

Both lads saluted again stiffly, turned sharply upon their heels and
left their commander's quarters.

"Well, Chester," said Hal, when they were outside again, "it seems that
we have quite a sizeable task ahead of us."

"Right," agreed Chester, "and I can't say that I have any more idea of
how to go about it than I have of capturing the Kaiser himself."

"Nor I. At the same time, however, we can both see that if we are to
learn anything of the enemy's plans and conditions it is up to us to get
in contact with the enemy."

"Exactly. But the question is, how?"

Hal shrugged his shoulders.

"It's simply got to be done," he said.

Chester smiled.

"Sounds very simple, to hear you talk," he said. "Perhaps you can
suggest a plan."

"Well," said Hal, "we've been within the German lines before. I guess we
can get there again."

"Oh, it's easy enough to get in. The trouble is going to be getting
out," Chester grinned.

"We'll have to take our chances there," declared Hal. "The first thing
to do is get there. We'll worry about the return part of it later."

"Very good," said Chester, "but how are we going to get there?"

"There are several ways," said Hal. "We can go by airship, automobile,
horseback, or we can walk."

"And we'll be taken prisoners in either case, most likely."

"That's true enough. But we can't do anything from here. However, we've
been prisoners before now and have come through all right."

"But there may be a time when we won't come through," said Chester.

"Don't croak," said Hal. "You're beginning to talk like Stubbs,

"I'm not croaking," declared Chester. "But I believe in looking on both
sides of a question."

"All well and good; but you'll agree with me that the first thing to be
done is to get within striking distance of the enemy."

"Exactly, and I'm leaving it up to you to find the way."

"Well," said Hal, "I suggest that we take this automobile and keep going
until we reach the German lines. We can concoct some cock and bull story
that will account for our presence there."

"Maybe you can," said Chester. "I don't believe my imagination will
carry that far."

"Climb in anyhow, and we'll be moving," said Hal.

Chester did as Hal suggested and a few moments later the large army
automobile was again heading toward the front.

Upon Hal's advice, they did not return to their own regiment, but made
straight for the front lines now held by General Lawrence and his
combined infantry and marines.

"We might as well go through there as elsewhere," Hal said.

"Anything that suits you suits me," was Chester's reply.

Before General Lawrence's headquarters, Hal brought the machine to a
stop and sought counsel with the general. In a few words the lad
explained the nature of their mission, and added:

"I wish you would have word sent to Captain O'Neil. He probably will be
alarmed at our absence."

"It shall be done at once," was General Lawrence's reply.

Hal and Chester re-entered the automobile and continued their journey
toward the enemy's country.

"By the way, Hal," said Chester, "don't you think it would be wise to
discard these American uniforms?"

"Hardly," said Hal. "We don't want to be shot as spies, you know. In
regulation uniform, the worst they can do if they capture us is to make
us prisoners of war. But with a spy it's different."

"That's true enough," Chester agreed, "and still we have often found it
convenient to enter the enemy's lines in civilian attire."

"I am against it in this case," Hal argued, "because we are working
against time, in the first place. If we are taken prisoner, well and
good. In fact, I am sure that we shall be captured."

"You are, eh?"


"Then it seems to me that our mission is doomed to failure," said

"Not at all. I believe that we shall have more chance of making our
escape if we are apprehended as American officers than if we are taken
as possible spies. The life of a spy, or even a suspect, you know, is

"Looks to me," said Chester dryly, "as though the lives of Lieutenants
Paine and Crawford were going to be short, no matter how you figure it."

"There you go croaking again," said Hal. "Never yell until you're hurt.
That's a good axiom."

"It's too late then," declared Chester with a grin.

"Well," said Hal, "there is no use talking about it. Either we are going
ahead or we are going to stay here."

"Let's be going then," said Chester. "I'm going to vote for you to lead
this expedition, and whatever you say goes. That stands until we return
to the American lines."

"Very good," said Hal. "So as long as I am the boss of the outfit, I'll
give my orders. Get back into the automobile and we'll be moving."

Chester took his seat and Hal jumped to the wheel.

The automobile moved toward the front again.

The lads were hailed several times by American outposts as they went
rapidly forward. To the Americans it must have seemed foolhardy for the
two young officers to be driving directly toward the enemy's lines. But
Hal did not slow down when hailed, so there was nothing for the American
soldiers to do but let them pass.

And at the last the last American position had passed and the automobile
moved into No Man's Land beyond.

A short distance away, Hal saw the German trenches.

"Well, here we go," he said quietly to Chester. "Maybe we'll get back
and maybe we won't. But at all events, we'll give the best that is in

"Amen," said Chester fervently.

They drove straight toward the German lines. Five minutes after
Chester's last remark, Hal slowed the car down in response to a sudden

"Halt!" came a sharp voice in German.

                              CHAPTER XVI


Immediately Hal had brought the car to a stop, he raised his hands high
above his head. Chester followed his example. A moment later the machine
was surrounded by a score of German soldiers, a lieutenant at their

"What are you doing here?" demanded the German officer sharply of Hal.

"By Jove, Hal!" cried Chester in well simulated surprise. "They're
Germans. You've run right into a nest of the enemy."

"So it would seem," replied Hal, immediately falling in with Chester's
ruse. "Now that's what I call bad luck."

This conversation was carried on in English, but Chester had hopes that
the German officer or one of his men would understand it. Much to the
lad's delight, the next remark came from the German lieutenant.

"So you've run into our lines accidentally?" he said. "Well, so much the
worse for you. You're Americans, I take it?"

"We are," replied Hal, in German.

"I've always said," declared the lieutenant, "that you Americans would
make fools of yourselves over here. You're a couple of fair examples;
you can't even keep your sense of direction. Get out of that car."

Hal and Chester did as they were commanded, and as they alighted they
were immediately surrounded by the soldiers.

"Are you armed?" asked the German.

Hal tossed a single automatic toward the lieutenant. Chester followed

"There you are," said Hal.

For a moment the lad was afraid the enemy would search him and Chester
for further weapons, but the man apparently never even thought of such
action. Slyly Hal slipped his hand inside his coat and made sure that
his second revolver was secure. Chester also had concealed a second
revolver within his coat.

"Forward, march!" commanded the German officer, and Hal and Chester,
hemmed in by enemy soldiers, set off at a swift pace.

Both lads kept their eyes open as they were led along. Apparently the
position in which they found themselves was not well fortified, for it
showed the result of hasty intrenching.

There was no firing in this particular sector of the battlefield for the
moment, but to the north and south Hal and Chester could hear the rumble
of the big guns as the artillery duel continued on each flank.

"Where are you going to take us, lieutenant?"

"None of your business," was their captor's response.

"You're not a very civil sort of a fellow, are you?" demanded Hal.

"Hold your tongue, if you know what's good for you," was the response.
"We don't have time to bother with a pair of American pigs. You'll be
lucky if you are not ordered shot at once."

"Oh, I guess they won't shoot us," said Hal quietly. "We're prisoners of
war, you know."

"Well, you wouldn't be the first to be shot offhand," said the German

"I've heard that you're a rather barbarous lot," returned Hal, "but I
didn't know you were as bad as that."

The German stepped close to Hal and shook his fist in the lad's face.

"That's enough out of you," he cried angrily.

"Don't make me laugh," said Hal, smiling.

For answer the man drew back his right hand and struck Hal a swift blow
in the face. Hal, throwing off the men who surrounded him, promptly
knocked the lieutenant down.

The man arose with blood streaming from his lips and an angry light in
his eye. With his right hand he drew his revolver, while he cried to his

"Shoot him!"

To the German soldier, an officer's word was law. It was not for the
soldier to consider the merits of the case. An order had been given, and
German discipline said that it must be obeyed.

A dozen rifles covered Hal instantly.

But an interruption came from an unexpected source.

"Stop!" cried a commanding voice.

Instantly the rifles were lowered and the soldiers came to attention,
while the German lieutenant lowered his revolver and saluted stiffly.

Not ten paces away sat a German officer on horseback. He wore the
shoulder straps of a general of infantry, as both lads saw at a glance.

"What's the meaning of this?" demanded the general.

"One of these men knocked me down, sir," the German lieutenant replied,
"and I was about to have him shot."

"So," said the general, "and why did he knock you down, if I may ask,

The German stuttered and hung his head. It was Hal who replied.

"He struck me first, your excellency."

"As I thought," said the German general. "I've heard of your actions
before, Lieutenant Leffler. Do not let me hear of your offending again."

"But sir----" said the lieutenant.

"Enough!" was the general's stern command. "See that your prisoners are
made secure and then report immediately to me."

The lieutenant saluted stiffly, but Chester noted an angry gleam in his

"Humph!" said the lad. "He apparently has no love for his general. Looks
like he would like to put a bullet through him."

The German commander, without further thought of his subordinate, had
wheeled his horse and was about to ride away. At that moment the German
lieutenant, with an audible snarl, suddenly whipped out his revolver and
covered his general.

But Chester was too quick for the man.

Taking a quick step forward, he sent the would-be assassin's revolver
spinning into the air by a sudden blow of his fist. The German
lieutenant, thus foiled in his purpose, turned and grappled with the

Hal sprang to his chum's assistance, while the German soldiers closed in
about him.

The German general, attracted by the sounds of the commotion but not
knowing what the trouble was about, wheeled his horse again and rushed
into the thick of the melee.

"Here! Here!" he cried. "Stop that!"

Immediately the soldiers drew off. The German lieutenant, however, was
too furious even to heed the order of his commanding officer. His
fingers sought Chester's throat.

But Chester, athlete that he was, was too quick for his opponent, and he
held the man off despite the fact that in strength he was hardly a match
for him.

The German lieutenant suddenly released his hold and stepped back. His
hand dropped to his belt, where hung a long sheath knife. The knife
flashed aloft and Chester staggered back quickly to avoid the descending

Before the man could strike again, Hal sprang forward and seized the
man's arm from behind. He twisted sharply and the knife fell to the
ground. The German whirled quickly, but Hal dropped him with a
well-directed right-hand blow to the point of the chin. The German
lieutenant lay still.

The German general by this time had dismounted and had been hurrying
forward even as Hal put his adversary down.

"Well done!" shouted the German commander in excellent English. "Well
done, I say! But what is all this commotion about?"

"If you please, sir," said one of the soldiers, stepping forward,
"Lieutenant Leffler was trying to shoot you when this American
officer"--and he indicated Chester--"interfered."

"So?" exclaimed the general in utter astonishment. "It has come to this,
eh? How dare a German soldier lift a hand toward his superior officer!"

He drew near and stirred the prostrate body of Lieutenant Leffler with
his foot. Then he turned to Chester.

"So I have to thank an enemy for saving my life, eh?" he said in a quiet
voice. "I am sorry that we are enemies, sir, for I have been in your
America. Well, I thank you. If there is anything I can do for you at any
time, call upon me. But what are you doing within our lines?"

In a few words Chester repeated the story told the German lieutenant a
few moments before.

"Lost, eh?" said the general. "Well, it's too bad, of course. I can't
send you back to your own lines, for you have been captured within ours.
That means that you are prisoners of war until the war ends, or until
you are exchanged--which is unlikely," he added as an afterthought.

He turned to one of the soldiers.

"What's your name, my man?" he demanded.

"Loeder, sir!" replied the man addressed, saluting.

"Very well, Loeder. I appoint you to make sure that the prisoners are
turned over to Colonel Ludwig. You will also take Lieutenant Leffler
there and confine him to his quarters, under arrest. A courtmartial
shall sit on his case in the morning. You are in command of this squad,

"Very well, sir," replied Loeder.

As Lieutenant Leffler was lifted to his feet at the command of Loeder,
the German general again mounted his horse. As he was about to put spur
to the animal, he seemed struck with a sudden thought, and with a
command to Loeder, halted the march of the party surrounding Hal and

"A moment!" he called. "What are your names, sirs?"

Chester replied for both.

"I shall remember them," replied the German general quietly, "and if you
are ever in need while within our lines, I ask that you call upon me, I
am General von Mackensen!"

He wheeled his horse and rode rapidly away.

"Great Scott, Hal!" said Chester. "What do you think of that? I guess
we're safe enough while we're here."

"So we are," agreed Hal dryly, "as long as they don't know just why we
are here."

The lads about-faced with their captors and were led away.

                              CHAPTER XVII

                     BOUND FOR A GERMAN PRISON CAMP

"We're getting too far into Germany altogether, Hal," said Chester, as
the train that was carrying them toward the enemy prison camp at
Villingen, one of the many improvised shelters for captives that dotted
the German frontier, sped along.

"I know it," said Hal. "It looks as though we were going to have a
pretty stiff time getting back in time to do any good, if we get back at
all before the war is over."

Chester gazed from the window of the car at the fleeting landscape.

"I don't know where we are," he said at length, "but we must have passed
the German border. Also, we are bound north, so Villingen must be in the
direction of Hamburg."

"Well, I don't know where we are either," declared Hal, "but if I had a
good chance I'd jump off this train and take to my heels."

"What good would that do? If you didn't kill yourself, chances are
they'd stop the train and the guards would pick you up again."

"Maybe so," said Hal, "but it's worth a chance, to my way of thinking.
If we could get a long enough start we might be all right. Certainly,
once free, we should be able to appropriate clothing enough to cover
these uniforms, and once disguised, I defy any of these Boches to find

"Well," said Chester, casting a shrewd eye the length of the common day
coach, "we're not so well guarded we can't try it if you say the word."

Hal also glanced up and down the aisle. Forward, the German guards had
gathered together over a game of cards. There were no guards at the rear
of the car, but both boys knew that the door was locked and the
vestibule without, closed. It would take time to break through the door,
open the vestibule and leap from the train.

"If we can get close enough to the door without arousing suspicion,
there's a bare chance," whispered Hal. "If the train slows down a trifle
and we pass through a woods or forest soon I am in favor of taking a

"Suits me if it does you," declared Chester with a shrug of his

"We'll see first whether we can get close to the door," said Hal. "You
wait here a minute."

He arose and moved up the aisle. A German guard espied him from the
other end of the car. "Sit down!" he commanded in a gruff voice.

Hal turned and walked forward in the car.

"Just stretching my legs a bit," the boy said with a smile.

The German grunted, but made no reply.

Several times Hal paced back and forth through the car, stopping now and
then for a word with some of the other prisoners. Eventually the German
guards seemed to forget him entirely. Then Hal sat down on the arm of a
seat near the door.

Chester, who had been watching Hal closely, now also arose and began
pacing up and down, at last stopping close to Hal near the rear door of
the car.

It seemed that Providence was guiding the actions of the two young

The speed of the train began to diminish. Inwardly, Hal and Chester were
burning with excitement, but outwardly neither gave a sign that might
betray them.

And then the train entered the fringe of a forest.

"Time, Chester," said Hal in a low voice.

He got to his feet and moved toward the door, Chester close behind him.

There was a sudden crash as Hal broke the glass pane in the door with
his hand. With a single movement of his arm he swept clear the remaining
fragments and leaped through the opening.

As Chester followed him, Hal opened the vestibule with two swift moves
and leaped to the bottom step. Then, balancing himself carefully, he
dropped from the car.

Hal was conscious of his feet striking something hard. Then he went
down. The next he knew, Chester had seized his arm and was dragging him
to his feet, shouting:

"Quick, Hal! They're stopping the train!"

Hal staggered to his feet and the boys dashed from the embankment and
ran for the shelter of the trees. As they entered this retreat, the
train stopped a short distance away, and German soldiers jumped to the
ground with angry cries.

Just within the shelter of the trees, Chester stopped.

"Hurt, Hal?" he asked.

Hal shook his head.

"Guess not," he replied. "I did a bad job when I hopped off and lost my
balance. I'm all right now, though. How about yourself?"

"I made it like a railroad man," was Chester's reply. "But come, we must
get away from here. They're after us."

"Which way?" demanded Hal.

"Doesn't make any particular difference, I guess," replied Chester; "but
straight ahead suits me."

He led the way at a rapid trot.

Behind, the lads could hear the cries of their pursuers, and they made
as rapid progress as possible. After perhaps two minutes of walking,
Chester, who was slightly in advance of Hal, stopped with a cry of

They had now come to the edge of the trees and with the first sight of
the wide expanse of open ground before them, Chester realized that they
were trapped.

"Now what do you think of that!" he ejaculated.

The little woods in which they found themselves could not have been ten
rods in width or in length. The lads had simply jumped from the train in
a little clump of trees. It would be but the work of a very few minutes
for the German guards to surround the place and then close in on the

"Well, that's what I call pretty hard luck," declared Hal. "And here
comes the enemy. Hear 'em?"

Footsteps approached from behind.

"Surrender," replied Hal quietly. "We can't afford to let them kill us,
you know, much as we might like to fight. While there's life there's
hope that we may still be successful."

"Right," Chester agreed. "Well, here they are."

As the first German hove in sight, the man put his rifle to his shoulder
and fired. The bullet passed between the two lads, who stepped quickly

"Wait!" called Hal before the man could fire again. "We surrender."

He raised his hands, as did Chester.

By this time other Germans had appeared and they rushed the lads

No more shots were fired, but the first man who came within striking
distance of Hal reversed his rifle quickly and brought the butt down on
the boy's unprotected head.

Hal dropped like a log.

Instantly Chester lost all idea of caution. With an angry cry he sprang
at the man who had struck Hal and before the German could save himself,
Chester stepped in quickly and wrenched the rifle from his hand. So
quick was his action that none of the enemy had time to interfere, and
raising the rifle aloft Chester served the German as the latter had his

Instantly Chester became the center of a struggling knot of men.
Thoroughly aroused by this unexpected resistance, the Germans attacked
the lad with loud cries. Chester had no time to reverse his rifle and
fire; the press of conflict was too great for that. Nevertheless, the
lad fought as best he could with clubbed rifle, and then fists, feet and

The Germans snarled and shouted as they tried to bring Chester down, but
Chester fought in silence.

But the odds were too great against the lad and at last he went down as
a German rifle crashed on his head. He fell close beside Hal, and his
head rested on his chum's knees.

And that was all that either boy remembered of the battle.

When Hal returned to consciousness, the train again was bumping its
uneven way through the country. Hal looked around slowly. At first he
did not realize where he was, but within a few moments the events of the
last few hours came trooping back to his brain as he gazed around.

By his side, nearest the window, was Chester, still unconscious.
Something felt uncomfortable on Hal's wrist. He moved his hand. The
something on his wrist pulled. He looked down and for the first time saw
that he and Chester had been handcuffed together.

He smiled to himself grimly.

"We put a little respect into them, anyhow," he told himself.

Chester now engaged his attention. In his present condition, Hal could
do nothing for his friend, so he sat waiting for him to return to

At last Chester's eyelids began to flutter and his eyes came open. They
sought Hal's. Hal smiled.

"They got us," he said briefly.

Chester straightened himself up in his seat.

"So I see," he responded gloomily. "My head feels as though somebody had
dropped a ton of coal on it."

"Looks it, too," said Hal. "It's all nicely bound up with a dirty rag, I

"Guess it looks as well as yours, at all events," Chester grumbled. "How
do you feel?"

"Not much, and that's a fact," said Hal. "My head feels just like yours

"I know just how it looks by sight of yours," returned Chester. "So
naturally I know how you feel. Well, what will they do with us now?"

"Intern us in the prison camp, the same as they started to do. We'll
have to work and eat next to nothing and it'll be pretty tough all
around. But we'll make another break for liberty at the first

"Here's hoping it comes soon," declared Chester.

The train slowed down, then stopped.

"Villingen; everybody change," sang out a Yankee soldier in the rear of
the car.

                             CHAPTER XVIII

                            GERMAN BARBARISM

Under the muzzles of hundreds of German guns, the prisoners disembarked
and were herded together near what Hal and Chester saw was an improvised

Villingen was located in one of the few mining districts in Germany not
far from the Swiss border. Families of the miners had long since
departed, but the Germans still extracted some coal from the ground by
using prisoners of war beneath the surface.

It was for such work that Hal and the other American prisoners had been
brought to Villingen. While German prisoners captured by the Allies had
always been well treated, Allied prisoners in German camps had been
forced to undergo cruel and inhuman treatment from the early days of the
war. A peculiar feature was the fact that seldom did the German
authorities distinguish between officers and privates. Often British or
French officers labored side by side with private soldiers in the mines
and in the fields.

When the prisoners had been herded together, the German commandant of
the camp approached. He was a porkish-looking individual and typically
Prussian. He answered to the name of Colonel Bretz. The officer who had
been in charge of the train of prisoners approached and engaged the
commandant in conversation.

By the frequent looks that the pair cast at Hal and Chester, the lads
knew that they were the chief subjects of the conversation. Directly the
commandant walked up to them.

"Another attempt to escape and you'll be shot like dogs!" he bellowed.
He turned to one of his aides. "Put them in one of the guard cells," he
continued; "then put these other swine," with a sweeping gesture that
included the other prisoners, "in their pens and see that they are ready
to go on the night shift to-night."

He strode away. While the other American soldiers, covered by German
guns, were driven toward what had once been the living quarters of the
German miners, now hemmed in with steel bars--a mammoth cage--Hal and
Chester were seized by a squad of soldiers and hurried in the opposite
direction, where they at last were shoved into a filthy, dirty,
single-story building.

It was very dark inside and for a moment the lads were unable to get a
view of their surroundings. But as their eyes became accustomed to the
darkness, they perceived that they were in what at one time must have
served as a store building. The single room was very small and its
furnishings consisted of two dilapidated chairs and a mass of dirty
rags, apparently meant for a bed, on the floor.

"Nice, sanitary-looking place," was Hal's comment, as he walked about
his prison.

"Guess a fellow wouldn't grow very fat here," said Chester. "Wonder how
long we'll be cooped up?"

Hal shrugged.

"No telling," he replied, "but when we get out we'll probably be sent
down in the mines."

"Surely they won't send us there in our present condition," declared

"I don't imagine they'll worry about a couple of sore heads," rejoined
Hal. "However, time will tell."

"Well," said Chester, "I'm about tired out. Think I'll try to sleep a

"Same here; but I'll take the bare floor for mine. I can't stomach that
mass of dirty rags there. They must be infested with vermin."

"The floor's bad enough," Chester agreed.

They threw themselves down and in a few moments were fast asleep in
spite of the hard floor, for both were tired out and could have slept
almost any place.

It was still dark when they were aroused from their slumbers by the
presence of a third figure in the room. Hal opened his eyes as a heavy
foot stirred him and a voice exclaimed in German:

"Get up. You'll have to earn your keep here."

Hal arose and Chester also got to his feet.

"Outside, now, and march quick!" said the German lieutenant who had
awakened them.

The two lads preceded the man from their prison. Outside, they inhaled
the fresh air eagerly and their spirits revived.

"Where are you taking us?" demanded Hal.

"To the mines," returned the German with a snarl, "where you'll loose
that fresh look you possess now."

"You're making a mistake," said Hal quietly. "We're not miners--know
nothing about mines. We've never been below."

"You'll be miners or corpses within the next few days," bellowed the
German. "Go on there!"

"How about some grub?" questioned Hal. "We've had nothing to eat for
more than twenty-four hours. We won't be able to work very well without
food, you know."

"You'll eat to-night," snarled the German. "Not before."

Hal shrugged again. He was hungry, felt faint, even, and so did Chester,
but there was no help for it. The lads trudged on in silence.

Soon they came to the opening of the mine shaft, some distance from
where they had spent the night. Other forms began to gather, and Hal
guessed rightly that this was the new shift coming to work.

Men commenced to appear from below, their faces, hands and clothing
black. These, the lads knew, were the prisoners who had been working all

There was a faint streak of light in the east. The day would break soon.

Now the German guards hustled Hal and Chester and the other prisoners
into the mine shaft, where they were told off into crews of four and
five men each. Hal and Chester found themselves together, with a British
infantryman and a French sergeant of cavalry completing their crew.
Directly, picks were thrust into their hands, and they were provided
with gas helmets, upon each of which burned a small safety light. Then
they were marched to the mouth of the shaft, where they awaited their
turn at the car that was to carry them below.

"You fellows have not been down before, I take it," said the English
private to Hal.

"This is the first trip," replied Hal.

"Too bad," was the response. "It'll be torture for you. You will
probably collapse before time to come up, in which case you'll be kicked
back to consciousness. That's what happened to me."

"If they begin kicking me, they'll have to go a bit further," said Hal

"That was what I thought," said the Englishman. "I put up a fight, but
it wasn't any use. They almost beat the life out of me, after which I
was put in solitary confinement with nothing to drink and almost nothing
to eat. Let me tell you, solitary confinement is worse than the mines,
so if you'll take my advice, you'll stick and endure as long as you can,
and when you've been kicked back to consciousness again you'll return to
work and keep your mouth shut. Am I right, Mercer?" he demanded, turning
to the Frenchman.

"Oui, monsieur," returned the latter briefly.

Again Hal shrugged.

"We'll see," he said shortly.

Under the guns of the guards, the four men took their places in the
little elevator-car that was to carry them below.

"Get your last look at the outside world," said the Englishman, as the
starter gave the signal to descend. "It'll be the last you get for some

The little car seemed to drop from beneath the feet of Hal and Chester
as it shot down in the mine. Hal was conscious of a sinking sensation in
the pit of his stomach. Chester drew his breath sharply.

The car stopped as suddenly as it had started.

"Here we are," said the Englishman. "Get out."

He led the way.

Dimly Hal and Chester could make out the interior of the mine by the
light of their torches. The air was damp and cold. Both lads shivered.

"This," explained the Englishman, "is No. 10 level. There are levels
above and below us. We've quite a ways to go, so we'll ride."

Hal now saw for the first time that a steel track was before him. On
this was a little car, driven by electricity. It was not a passenger
vehicle, but was used for hauling the ore when mined. The car was manned
by a single German, armed.

Without a word, the Frenchman took the motorman's place. Hal, Chester
and the Englishman climbed aboard and the car moved forward, the
departure being made under the rifle of the German guard.

"Isn't it dangerous down here?" asked Chester of the Englishman. "I
don't know anything about mines except that there are many fatalities in

"About the only danger is that of an explosion," the Briton replied. "If
somebody should strike a match, we'd all be blown to kingdom come--at
least every man on this level."

"There are more on this level, then?" asked Chester.

"Oh, yes; probably half a hundred men. Some are ahead of us and directly
more will come along here."

"Seems to me that there might be an opportunity of making a break for
liberty," declared Hal. "There are not many guards about."

"Not here," the Englishman agreed, "but wait till you get to the pit.
There are guards enough there and they make life as miserable for the
prisoners as possible. You're expected to work from the minute you
arrive until you knock off or collapse; and if you go under, you'll
start back to work the minute you recover."

The little car slowed down and the lads saw light ahead. It was not
daylight, however, but light made by the glow of many torches. Directly
the car stopped and the four occupants climbed out. Men stood about with
picks and shovels, awaiting the word to go to work.

Hal and Chester found themselves placed close together with the
Englishman, who gave the name of Harding, and the Frenchman, Mercer, as
their nearest neighbors.

There came a command from one of the German guards and the men attacked
the solid wall before them with picks and drills.

"Well," said Hal grimly, "here's where we go to work, Chester."

The lads wielded their picks with the others.

                              CHAPTER XIX


It was not yet six o'clock in the morning when the first day shift went
to work. Under the advice of the Englishman, Hal and Chester worked as
slowly as possible, the better to accustom their muscles to their new
task. But after an hour's work, Hal commenced to grow tired.

Nevertheless, the lad did his best, for common sense told him that it
would be wise not to lag. Soon after eight o'clock, however, his arms
ached so that it seemed impossible for him to work longer.

He staggered slightly as he drove his pick home.

This movement did not escape the keen eye of the nearest German guard,
who immediately approached and stood watching the lad closely. Again Hal
staggered and his pick fell short of its mark.

"Get to work there!" cried the guard sharply.

Hal tried his best, but it was no use. The pick fell from his tired

The guard stepped quickly forward and struck the lad sharply across the
face with his open left hand. Under the blow, Hal received new strength
as his fighting spirit was aroused. He stepped toward the guard, an
angry gleam in his eye and his fists clenched.

The German hastily moved back a couple of paces and half raised his

"Get to work!" he cried again.

The lad bethought himself of the Englishman's advice, and stooping,
recovered his pick. Again he attacked the wall of coal.

Chester's strength, meantime, had also given out. Unlike Hal, however,
Chester did not work on until he could no longer lift his pick. When he
felt that he could no longer dig, he cast his pick away from him and sat
down on the ground. Immediately a guard was at his side.

"Up out of there, you American pig!" he commanded.

Chester glanced at the man idly, but said nothing. Neither did he get to
his feet.

But the lad was moved from his position by the square toe of the guard's
heavy boot. Away went Chester's thoughts of caution. With a single move,
he seized his pick and sprang forward. The guard gave ground.

The pick flashed above the lad's head and then came down sharply. The
German escaped the blow by a quick leap backward. Instantly he lowered
his rifle and there was a flash and a report. Chester heard the bullet
sing past his ear.

There came a tramping of hurried feet as other guards, fearing a
concerted revolt, rushed to the aid of their companion. Gleams of hope
lighted the eyes of the prisoners. Hardly a man there who, at one time
or another, had not thought of escape, and now, to many, it seemed that
the time was ripe.

They rushed into the melee.

Came the sound of blows and curses in the half-light. Several rifles

Hal, realizing Chester's danger, in spite of the aches in his limbs,
sprang to his feet and dashed into the knot of struggling men. British
arms struck out right and left. Frenchmen kicked out with their heavy
boots and bit and clawed. Hal and Chester, the only Americans below
ground in this section, fought swiftly and silently.

But there was only one possible ending for a struggle such as this. Had
the movement been preconceived and launched in a concerted attack, the
result might have been different, although even that is doubtful. As it
was, outnumbered and with all the firearms in the hands of the Germans,
it was only a matter of minutes until the prisoners must be subdued.

Among the most prominent in the fight was the Englishman Harding. He was
a powerful man, as Hal had noted at first glance. Day after day of toil
in the mines had added wonderfully to his strength and he now laid about
with his pick with the fury of a madman.

Half a dozen guards he had laid low when a German bullet crashed into
his body and brought him to the ground. His fall seemed to dishearten
the other prisoners, who seem to have looked upon him as a leader. Their
resistance grew feebler and they gave ground.

The German guards by this time had succeeded in getting together and now
they covered the prisoners with a score of rifles.

"Fire!" came a command.

In the huddled mass of prisoners, five men tumbled over. Two others
groaned and others cursed.

There was no second volley.

Realizing that he had the mutiny under control, the German officer in
command withheld another fire. The prisoners scattered as the guards
advanced. Hal and Chester were left standing alone to face the Germans.

Both lads by this time had realized the utter foolishness of further
resistance and now quietly awaited whatever was to come. The German
officer turned to his men.

"Who started this?" he demanded. "Show me the leader of this plot!"

The man whom Chester had attacked, and who was still on his feet,
stepped forward and saluted.

"Those two Americans, sir," he said, pointing to Hal and Chester.

"So!" exclaimed the German captain.

He stepped close to the lads, his revolver ready in his right hand for
instant use.

"Oh!" he said, "you are the new arrivals, eh? Well, you shall see how we
treat such as you!"

He reversed his revolver suddenly and brought the butt down on Chester's
injured head. The lad dropped to the ground.

With a cry Hal sprang forward and before the German captain could
protect himself Hal's right fist sent him staggering back.

Cries of joy arose from the prisoners and for a moment it seemed that
the struggle of a few moments before would be renewed.

But the German soldiers sprang forward and the prisoners became quiet
again. Two men rushed forward and threw their arms about Hal, rendering
him powerless. A third raised his rifle and brought the stock down on
Hal's head with a crash. The lad toppled over.

When he again became conscious of what was going on about him, he still
lay on the hard and damp ground. Above him stood a grinning guard. Hal
felt a pain in his head and passed a hand over the spot. When he
withdrew it, it was covered with blood.

"Get up!" commanded the German guard.

Hal realized the necessity of immediate compliance and staggered to his

"Get your pick!" commanded the guard.

Hal obeyed.

"Now get back to work!"

There was no help for it, and in spite of his weakness Hal wielded his
pick with the others.

At his right, Hal saw that Harding, with several ugly wounds in his
head, also was back at work. The man smiled slightly as he caught Hal's

"You see, you started something we all couldn't finish," he said in a
low voice. "These Germans have discovered the way of putting down a
mutiny, as you have learned. Of course the time may come when we shall
catch them unprepared, but it hasn't come yet, so lie low. Hello," he
added, "your friend is coming to his senses. If he's wise he'll get up
and work till he drops."

Chester, under the command of the guard who stood close to him, got to
his feet and fell to work close to Hal. The lad's face was very pale and
he seemed in imminent danger of collapsing at any moment.

"Can you stick it out, Chester?" asked Hal in a low voice.

"I don't know," was his chum's reply. "I feel pretty faint."

"Silence, there!" thundered the nearest guard. "Work; don't talk."

The prisoners worked on in silence. Each stroke that Chester took he
felt sure would be his last. But he gritted his teeth and stuck to it,
and some way he always found the strength for one more blow.

Harding nodded approvingly.

"They'll do," he muttered.

Strange as it may seem, after another half hour's work Hal felt his
strength returning to him. It took less effort to wield his pick. The
lad was hungry and he felt an uncomfortable gnawing within, but the
dizziness had left him.

Chester also began to feel better. The faintness left and color returned
to his cheeks.

"Six months of this work," he whispered to Hal, "and I'll be able to
lick your marine friend, Bowers, without exerting myself."

Hal smiled slightly, but he drew a breath of relief. When Chester talked
like that he was not badly hurt.

"What time do we quit?" Hal asked of Harding in a low voice.

"Usually about two o'clock," was the reply.

"What! Don't we knock off to eat?"

Harding allowed a wry smile to steal over his face.

"We do not," he replied. "And the chances are that as a result of the
trouble here we won't eat at all to-day."

Hal gazed at him in pure alarm.

"Great Scott!" he exclaimed. "You don't mean to tell me they will starve

"Not quite," was the Englishman's reply, "but I've gone three or four
days at a time without a morsel."

"But a man can't work unless he eats," declared Hal.

"Maybe not; but the Germans are not worrying about that. If we want to
eat we've got to work and make no trouble. That's all there is about it.
Let me tell you something. I've seen at least twenty men carried out of
here and they are not living now. They were simply starved to death.
These Germans will go the limit. Don't make any mistake about that."

Hal turned this over in his mind.

"Well," he said to himself at last, "we're up against it and that's all
there is about it. I am afraid General Pershing would have done better
had he entrusted his mission to other hands. We seem to have made a mess
of it."

He turned to Chester.

"Say," he demanded in a soft voice, "what do you suppose General
Pershing would think if he could see us now?"

Chester grinned despite his wounds.

"I guess he'd think we are a pair of confounded poor spies," he

                               CHAPTER XX

                          MORE GERMAN CRUELTY

True to Harding's prediction, there was no let-up in the work until two
o'clock that afternoon. At that hour the German guards passed the word
and the prisoners dropped their tools and wiped moist brows. Hal and
Chester found themselves beside Harding, the Englishman, and Mercer, the
Frenchman, once more.

"Now what?" asked Chester.

"Back to our holes," replied Harding. "I mean," he added, catching the
question in Chester's face, "back to the filthy little shacks where we
sleep and spend our leisure hours."

Several cars now appeared along the little track in the mine and the
prisoners clambered aboard. These then proceeded to the main shaft,
where the men were carried aloft a few at a time.

Not for a moment did the German guards relax their vigilance. Rifles
were held ready for instant use. More than once they had been caught
unprepared and several times batches of prisoners had succeeded in
making their escape. Some had been recaptured, but others had found
their way back to their own lines.

Hal and Chester were carried up in the car with Harding and Mercer and
two other British prisoners. For some reason, both lads had decided
unconsciously to stick as close as possible to the big Englishman, and
he appeared glad of their company.

Under the guns of the guards, the prisoners were marched across the open
to a row of shacks in the distance.

"Wonder where they'll put us, Chester?" said Hal.

"Don't know," replied Chester, "but I can't see that it makes any

"There is room for a couple of more in my shack," said Harding. "You
boys just walk in with me as though you belonged there. Maybe they'll
let you stay."

The lads acted on this advice and a few moments later were in the little
hovel that Harding called home. Hal took in his surroundings with a
calculating eye.

There was only one window, through which the sun now streamed. There was
no door beside the one through which they had entered. Hal gave a start
of surprise when he saw that the window was not barred.

"I thought of course they'd have bars there," he said, pointing. "Looks
to me like a fellow might crawl out in the middle of the night."

"So you could," returned Harding, "but that wouldn't help anything.
There are thousands of armed guards around this place. You wouldn't have
much of a chance getting through."

"It's been tried, though, I suppose?" queried Chester.

"Yes; and there's a graveyard behind us that has more occupants as a
result. I believe that several men have succeeded in getting through,
but I can't say positively. It's only talk among the prisoners."

"Haven't you ever thought of making a break for liberty, Harding?"
demanded Hal.

The Englishman looked at the lad curiously. He was silent for some

"Let me tell you something," he said at last. "There isn't a prisoner in
this camp who is not thinking of escape every waking minute. Why, we
even dream about it. As a matter of fact, we scarcely think of anything
else. Every now and then conditions become so intolerable that a man, or
a batch of men, makes the attempt. Mostly, they have some plan in their
minds, but sometimes they simply act on the spur of the moment."

Harding mused a moment in silence. Hal and Chester did not interrupt

"I have in mind a man named Judson," continued Harding at last. "He had
been working in the mines for months. He was a big, husky chap--an
Englishman. One of the guards below found particular delight in annoying
him. He was safe enough in this, for it was apparent that Judson could
not thrash his tormentor and the other guards as well. For days Judson
bore the torment in silence and then he could stand it no longer."

"What did he do?" demanded Chester eagerly.

"Why," said Harding, "he simply diverted a blow of his pick to the guard
and that settled the German. Then, before the remaining guards, who were
stunned momentarily by the suddenness of the act, could even think,
Judson was among them swinging his pick right and left. You know," he
broke off, "it's funny what a little thing will raise the hopes of every
prisoner in the camp. Every man sees in each little breach of
discipline--each little mutinous act--the opportunity for which he
thinks he has been waiting. It was so in Judson's case.

"As the guards sprang in to seize Judson, every prisoner in sight
entered the conflict. Picks and shovels and drills were our weapons. For
a moment we made headway, the attack was so sudden. But we didn't have a
chance. The guards turned their rifles on us and it only took a few
minutes to quell the disorder. Five prisoners were killed."

"And Judson, what happened to him?"

Again Harding was silent for a few moments. Then he said:

"Frankly, I'd rather not talk about that. But having heard so much of
the story, I guess you are entitled to the rest. You see, Judson did
considerable damage with that pick before he was overcome. Besides the
first guard, he felled three more of the Germans before they could
subdue him. They couldn't have done it then except that a guard closed
in from behind and shot him through the head."

"And killed him?" asked Hal.

"No," said Harding, "the bullet didn't kill him, worse luck. It would
have been better if it had. Now comes the part I don't like to talk
about." The lads saw the Englishman's great hands clench and unclench as
he talked and they knew that a terrible anger was raging within him.

"What happened?" asked Hal in a low voice.

"Why," said Harding, "they took Judson to the surgeon, had his wound
dressed and gave him some clean clothes. Then, the next day, right at
the mouth of the mine as the shafts changed and practically every
prisoner in the camp was there, they killed him."

Hal and Chester shuddered.

"How?" asked Hal softly.

"That's the horrible part of it," said Harding in a choking voice. "They
tied him to a post stuck in the ground for that purpose. Then a score of
guards drew off twenty paces and unslung their lances. These they then
began to use as spears, hurling them from that distance. It was plain,
of course, that they did not mean to kill Judson instantly--from that
distance there are few men who can launch a death throw--particularly
with a lance. The first weapon struck Judson a glancing blow in the
side--he had been stripped to the waist--it was a terrible sight."
Harding broke off again.

"Why did you stay?" demanded Hal, who was raging furiously within as
Harding proceeded with his story.

"There was no help for it," the man replied. "We were herded there under
the guns of a hundred or more guards. Well, every lance thrown brought
cheers and jeers from the guards--but there came never so much as a
groan from Judson. I don't know how long it lasted--it seemed like
hours, though I suppose it was only a matter of minutes. Pierced in
scores of places, Judson at last found eternal peace."

Harding dropped suddenly into a little chair and buried his face in his
hands. For the moment, Hal and Chester were too greatly shocked by this
tale of barbarism to utter a word. Chester's hand clutched Hal's arm.

"Isn't it terrible?" he whispered. "And to think that these men call
themselves Christians!"

Harding overheard the remark and looked up.

"Christians!" he echoed. "Let me tell you something. The atrocities of
the Turks in Armenia that we have heard so much about pale into
insignificance alongside the cruelties of the Germans. Not for nothing
have they won the name 'Hun.'

"Poor Judson!" he continued. "He was my pal. Never shall I forget that
sight. Sometimes in my dreams I see it now, and I awake with a scream.
Now, my lads, do you wonder that while every prisoner here is thinking
of escape he hesitates to make the attempt?"

"I should say not!" declared Hal. "But the Huns must answer for all
this--their time of reckoning will come."

"Yes, but it will not be in proportion to the punishment they deserve,"
said Harding, "and that is what makes it so hard to bear. Cruelties that
they have inflicted upon their prisoners will not be repaid in
kind--there is no such barbarism in the hearts of the Allied nations.
But," and Harding brought his clenched fist into his left palm with a
resounding smack, "the debt should be paid in kind."

"No, no, Harding," said Chester quietly. "We cannot lower ourselves to
the level of these barbarians. Remember what the Good Book says:
'Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.'"

Again Harding buried his face in his hands. When he again looked up
there was a more peaceful expression in his face--his eyes had lost
their hardness.

"You are right," he said quietly.

"Now," said Chester, turning the subject, "the question is what they
will do with us in view of the trouble we stirred up to-day?"

Harding shrugged.

"It's hard to tell," he answered. "It all depends on their mood. It may
be that they will prescribe a week or so of solitary confinement, the
lash, or the matter may be overlooked. You never can tell."

"Great Scott!" said Hal. "We can't stand for solitary confinement. I
must tell you something, Harding. It is absolutely necessary that we get
away from here without delay--at least that we make the attempt."

Harding shook his head.

"Remember the story of Judson," he said slowly.

"Well, it can't be helped," declared Chester. "We'll have to risk it."

Harding looked at the lad sharply.

"You mean that you have some particular reason?" he asked.

Chester nodded affirmatively, and then, in a few words, explained the
mission with which they had been entrusted by General Pershing.

"I can realize the necessity of haste," declared Harding, a strange
light in his face, "and now I will tell you something. I have considered
the situation from every angle and I believe that I have found a plan
that promises success."

"You have?" exclaimed Chester eagerly.

"Yes," said Harding, "and now that the necessity has become so urgent we
shall make the attempt to-morrow."

Hal and Chester stifled their joy in subdued exclamations of delight.

                              CHAPTER XXI

                               THE ESCAPE

The rest of the day was spent in discussing the plan of escape; and that
night Hal and Chester slept well in spite of the fact that they were
compelled to stretch out on the hard floor and that there were no
blankets nor other clothing to keep out the early morning chill.

As upon their first day in the mines, they were aroused before daylight
and marched to the shaft. It was still dark when they again found
themselves below and at work.

Hal and Chester put forth their best efforts from the first, for they
did not wish to draw the attention of the guards to them particularly
and thus interfere with Harding's plans.

It was just eleven o'clock when Harding lowered his pick and turned to
the nearest guard.

"Bad spot here, sir," he said. "Gas. It's dangerous."

The guard approached and sniffed.

"Go on with your work," he said at last.

Harding made no reply, but picked up his pick and fell to work again.

A close observer might have seen him turn slightly to the man on his
right, who chanced to be the Frenchman Mercer; a close observer might
have seen Harding's lips move slightly, and a keener ear than that of
the nearest German guard might have caught these words:

"It's time, Mercer. Pass the word. Be ready in five minutes."

Mercer indicated that he understood and passed the word quietly. To
Harding's left, Hal also passed the word to the nearest man: "Be ready
in five minutes."

Harding had explained the day before that every prisoner in the shaft
had been taken into his confidence--that he, having conceived the
scheme, was entitled to be the man who had the first right to escape.
This, Hal and Chester had learned, was the unwritten law among prisoners
in Germany. Others who were in the plot would escape if it were
possible, but they must shield the man who conceived the idea.

In less than the time allowed by Harding, every prisoner knew that the
big Englishman had decided to "go."

There was no indication in the face of any man that he knew something
was about to happen and so the suspicion of the guards was not aroused.

Stealthily, Harding drew something from his pocket. It was a match which
he had secreted in the lining. He drew even closer to the wall of earth
before him.

There, it could be seen, he had dug a little pocket. At this point there
was a stronger smell of gas.

"Look out!" cried Harding suddenly.

At the same moment he struck the match, he dropped his pick and shielded
his face with his hand. At the same moment, too, every prisoner covered
the glow of his safety lamp with his hat.

There was a flash and a roar, followed by the sound of tumbling earth.
Hal and Chester felt their arms seized in a strong grip which they knew
to be that of Harding.

"Come!" he whispered.

Came now sounds of confusion and hoarse guttural shouts from the German
guards. Behind them the lads heard the sounds of confusion. Then they
felt themselves drawn back by Harding's hands.

"In here!" whispered the Englishman.

Chester now exposed his light sufficiently to show that the three were
in what appeared to be a small cavern leading off from the mine tunnel

Hastily, under Harding's directions, the lads pushed forward large lumps
of ore and dirt until now they were almost barricaded behind this
fortification and seemed safe from prying eyes without.

"Not too much," said Harding. "We've got to breathe, you know."

"What was all the explosion?" demanded Chester.

"Well," said Harding, "when a man strikes a match in a mine there is
bound to be an explosion. I struck the match."

"I know that," agreed Chester, "but how does it happen that we are still
alive? You might have brought the whole mine in on us."

"I've worked in mines before," said Harding. "These little local blasts
don't amount to much if you keep away from the flare. However, a man
never knows when he hears the blast just how serious it may be. That's
why the German guards are in such confusion. I am not worried because I
know the nature of the blast, and the other prisoners are not worried
for the same reason. Hear them fight!"

The sounds of the struggle carried plainly to the ears of the three

"Somebody will be killed," declared Chester.

"Naturally," said Harding quietly, "but it will be in a good cause and
they know it. Don't mistake me, boys; every man there knows that I am
not doing this just to try to save my own skin. The word has been

"It has?" exclaimed Hal in surprise.

"Of course, and I pride myself in the fact that it was done cleverly if
you didn't see it."

"I didn't see anything," said Chester.

"Neither did the guards, apparently," said Harding. "But we had better
keep quiet now. Remember, we have long hours ahead of us here and then
work to do before we are free."

The three became silent. The sounds of conflict without continued for
possibly half an hour, then gradually died away.

But the sounds of the picks were no longer heard. There would be no more
work in No. 10 level until after the German authorities had assured
themselves that it was safe. For this purpose, of course, an inspection
would be necessary.

"They'll miss us, too," whispered Hal, "and they'll have a look for us."

"And they will think they have located us when they encounter a mass of
debris near where we stood," said Harding.

"Oh, caused by the blast, eh?" said Chester.

"No; put there through Mercer's efforts," replied Harding. "You see," he
explained, "we had already dug in such a manner that a certain piece of
rock could be unloosened by a couple of quick blows. Mercer gave them
after I struck the match."

"Great Scott! You seem to have had it figured out perfectly," declared

"So I did," replied Harding, "up to the point when we reach the outside.
After that events will have to shape themselves."

"But when they explore the debris out there and don't find us, they will
smell a mouse," declared Chester.

"They won't explore it right away," declared Harding. "The inspection of
the mine itself will come first."

Harding proved a good prophet in this.

It was perhaps 2 o'clock in the afternoon when Hal heard footsteps
approaching. The three friends listened intently.

Voices were conversing in German, and from their refuge the lads caught
the glow of safety lamps.

"Must be four or five of them," declared Hal in a low voice.

"I hope so," Harding whispered back. "There must be at least three for
the success of my plan."

The inspectors, for such the lads knew the Germans to be, passed along
the mine tunnel so close to the refuge of the three friends that Hal
could have reached out and touched one of them.

"We'll let 'em go by because there may be more coming, though it is
unlikely," said Harding. "You were right, boy, there are four of them."

The Englishman waited until the four inspectors had turned an angle in
the tunnel, and then, quickly removing the debris they had piled in
front of them, the three friends stepped out.

"Now," said Harding "we'll get as close to that turn as possible, and
we'll nail 'em when they come back."

They took their positions and waited in silence, every nerve on edge.

Directly the sound of footsteps were heard again and the Germans
returned, conversing and utterly unconscious of the danger that lay in

As the first man appeared around the turn, Harding's right fist shot out
and the man tumbled over. Instantly the Englishman and Hal and Chester
were upon the other astonished inspectors.

"Hands up!" cried Harding.

But the Germans, realizing that their opponents were unarmed, reached
for their revolvers. Hal sprang forward and closed with the nearest
German before the man could press the trigger. The lad staggered him
with a powerful blow to the nose, followed by a left to the chin that
sent him down. Hal then possessed himself of the man's revolver and
turned to aid his friends should they need assistance.

Chester's adversary had fired as the lad rushed him, but the bullet had
missed its mark. As Hal now came to Chester's assistance, the German
held his hands high, dropping the revolver.

Harding, meantime, had disposed of the fourth inspector with promptness
and dispatch, a heavy blow behind the ear laying the man low.

"Quick, now," said the Englishman. "Change clothes with them. I'll
change with this big man here. I guess they'll fit."

The change was made quickly.

"Now to get out of here," said Harding.

The three walked quickly along the tunnel to the little mine car, which
they boarded. Harding became the motorman and the car moved off.

"The men at the top will wonder what has become of the fourth inspector,
won't they?" asked Chester, as they alighted from the mine car at the
edge of the shaft.

"We'll have to trust to luck there," said Harding.

The three stepped in the elevator that was to carry them aloft, and
Harding gave the signal to pull up by tugging sharply at the cable.

"Keep your caps down over your head and your heads lowered," Harding
cautioned, as the car began to go up.

The lads nodded in the semi-darkness, but said nothing.

Suddenly the elevator shot out into the light and came to a stop. From
beneath their caps, the three friends glanced sharply about them, and
Chester gave a sigh of pure relief.

At the top of the mine there were, at that moment, only three German
guards and the man who stood on watch at the elevator. The three guards
were engaged in animated conversation and apparently were not interested
in the appearance of the car from below. There remained only the fourth

Harding stepped from the car. Hal and Chester followed him.

                              CHAPTER XXII


Without a word Harding led the way directly from the mine. The three
German guards looked up as the friends passed and saluted, for Harding,
Hal and Chester were all attired in German uniforms that bore captains'
stripes. The three returned the salutes and passed on.

"Now what, Harding?" asked Hal.

"Leave it to me," was the reply. "I know where there are half a dozen
big automobiles, but I'm afraid we'll have to impress a driver into

"I'll do the driving," said Hal.

"Oh, you can drive, eh?" said Harding. "So much the better."

Fifteen minutes' walk brought the three friends within sight of the spot
where the automobiles were parked.

"Better pick that long, low car there," whispered Hal. "It looks as
though it could show some speed."

Harding nodded.

Several guards stood about the automobiles. They saluted as the three
pseudo German officers appeared, but said nothing. Hal climbed into the
driver's seat of the car he had selected, while Harding and Chester
jumped into the tonneau.

"Let her go!" exclaimed Harding, "but slowly unless there is some sign
of suspicion. If we start off too fast they'll know there is something

The car moved off slowly.

Half an hour later they were out of sight of the prison camp. It was
then that Chester leaned forward and touched Hal on the arm.

"Which way now?" he asked.

"I judge that this road will take us to the Swiss border," said Hal.

"Right you are," agreed Harding.

"Trouble is," said Chester, "that we don't want to get out of Germany
just yet."

"What!" exclaimed Harding.

"Chester is right," Hal put in. "You see, Harding, we haven't yet
obtained the information we came after."

"By Jove! So you haven't!" exclaimed Harding. "Well, what are you going
to do about it?"

"Get it," returned Hal briefly.

Harding smiled.

"Easily said," he declared, "but, I am afraid, not so easily

"If you'll listen to me I think I can suggest something," declared

"Fire away," said Hal.

"Well," began Chester, "in the first place we have a certain immunity
now that we wear German uniforms. Hal and I speak German fluently, which
will help. How about you, Harding?"

"Very little," was the reply. "English has always been good enough for

"Then we shall have to do the talking," said Chester. "You will have to
be afflicted with an attack of dumbness, Harding."

"I can do that, all right. I'll just sit tight and say nothing."

"Good! Now my idea is this: We'll head for the front, bearing off a
trifle to the south and thus dodging the Swiss border. We'll proceed as
straight as possible to the German front in France. We'll trust to luck
to get back to our own lines after we have learned at the front that
which we desire."

"I don't call that much of a plan," said Harding. "There is no strategy
there. Besides, we would just be putting our heads into the lion's

"Nevertheless," said Hal, "it is only in the midst of the German army
that we can get the information we are after."

"That's probably true," said Harding. "Well, have it your own way and
count on me to the finish."

"We'll just keep going, then," said Hal.

The big automobile began to pick up speed now and directly was dashing
along at a rapid gait. From time to time they passed other cars on the
road, but they were not stopped. The very audacity of the three friends
augured toward their safety.

It was almost dark when Hal slowed down and stopped in front of a little
hotel in a small village.

"We've got to have more gas and air," he explained, in response to
Chester's questions. "Besides, the engine needs a drink. It's red hot."

"Also," said Harding in a low voice, "we could get away with a little

"Right you are," said Hal. "We shall be able to satisfy all our needs

The three entered the hotel. The proprietor promised that the automobile
should be looked after and ready within the hour and showed the three
fugitives to a small dining-room at the far side of the building. The
only occupant of the room at that moment proved to be a German colonel
and the Englishman and the two American lads saluted him stiffly. The
German returned the salute and continued his repast.

The fugitives ate heartily of the plain fare placed before them by their
host. As Hal was draining his cup of the last drop of coffee, he became
conscious that the German colonel was eyeing him. Suddenly the man
kicked back his chair and approached the table at which the friends sat.

Hal felt of his revolver, for he smelled trouble. But he need not have

"Where are you men going?" asked the colonel gruffly.

"To General von Mackensen, at the front, with dispatches," said Hal,
mentioning the name of the first German general he thought of.

"So?" exclaimed the colonel. "I am going that way myself, also with
dispatches. I find, however, that I shall have to remain here until
morning unless I can commandeer a passing automobile."

Hal thought rapidly.

"I'll tell you, sir," he said at length, "we are going on to-night, and
we shall be glad to have you accompany us, if you wish."

"I shall be glad," said the colonel. "When shall you start?"

"Immediately, sir."

"Good! I am ready."

Hal now introduced himself by a fictitious name; also his companions.
The colonel owned up to the name of Reissler. Together the four left the
hotel and returned to the automobile.

"If you will ride in front with me, I shall be honored, sir," said Hal
to the colonel.

The lad had reason for this. He intended to do all the talking done by
the fugitives. He felt certain that should the colonel ride with Harding
and Chester he must certainly discover that Harding was an imposter. Of
Chester, however, he had no fear, for Chester's command of the German
tongue was as perfect as Hal's own.

"Colonel," said Hal, as he started the car, "I have been long in the
east and am not altogether familiar with the roads here. You will
perhaps point out the shortest route as we go along?"

"Of course," said the colonel. "By the way," he added, "have you an idea
of the nature of your dispatches?"

Hal hesitated. He could not be sure of his ground and he was at a loss
what to say. However, he knew that the German colonel would require an
answer, so he took a long chance.

"I am not exactly sure, sir," he replied, "but I believe that they have
something to do with a possible retirement of our troops all along the
western front."

The colonel looked at him sharply.

"You mean a realignment, sir?" he said sharply.

"Why, yes, sir," returned Hal.

The colonel's face lost its sternness.

"My understanding is similar to yours," he said. "We all know, of
course, that our losses have been very heavy in the last few
months--particularly in the last attempt to break through at Ypres. I'll
tell you something," and he leaned forward, "had the Allied armies,
reinforced as they have been by American troops, followed up our defeat
there, we would have been compelled to fall back."

"Why, sir," said Hal, "this is news to me."

"So it is," returned the colonel. "Yet it's true."

Hal now became convinced of something he had begun to suspect since the
moment the colonel became so talkative. The man had been drinking. In no
other way could the lad account for his condescension in conversing with
an officer beneath him in rank. Also, when the man leaned toward him,
Hal could catch the odor of his breath.

"By Jove!" the lad told himself. "It may be that luck has turned our way
at last. If I could get hold of those dispatches he carries I might
learn something."

To the colonel he said:

"Are you on your way to General von Mackensen's quarters, sir?"

"I am," was the reply. "Now I'll tell you something more. Between the
two of us, I am getting tired of this war; I wish it would come to an
end. We know we can't win, you and I, and so does every member of the
staff. Why, our ranks have been so depleted that it takes wonderful
generalship to make the enemy believe we are still impregnable in our
present positions."

"Is that so, sir?" said Hal. "I had no idea it was as bad as that."

"Only the other day," continued the colonel, "I chanced to be in Berlin.
The emperor was there at the time, in conference with Generals
Ludendorff, von Mackensen and Hindenburg. I, as you know, am on von
Mackensen's staff. Now let me tell you what I heard old Hindenburg
himself say. 'Your Majesty,' said he, 'we've got to continue our
attacks, for when we stop the enemy will begin his. By our attacks we
must keep from him the fact that we could not resist an offensive on a
large scale.'"

"Himmel! That does sound bad," said Hal.

"It does, indeed. Now, in my dispatches are contained practically those
same words from Hindenburg--practically a repetition of the reasons he
advanced at the conference, urging further attacks. Also I carry a
description of the disposition of our troops and other material that
Hindenburg hopes will convince von Mackensen that we must continue the
offensive at all costs. Bad? I should say it is!"

Hal's heart leaped into his throat. Here was luck, indeed.

                             CHAPTER XXIII

                           THROUGH THE LINES

Hal turned the matter over in his mind. Should he make prisoner of this
talkative German officer now or should he wait until later to
appropriate the dispatches the man said he carried?

Hal decided to wait.

He did this for two reasons. First, the colonel's presence was useful
right now in showing the road, and, second, he might come in handy
should the party be stopped en route. So the lad decided to humor the
man by continuing the conversation.

"It's too bad, sir," he said. "Why, I can remember in the early days of
the war when the emperor figured on eating Christmas dinner in Paris.
It's too bad, sir; too bad."

"So it is," agreed the colonel, "but personally, I'm getting tired of
this business of killing. It's so useless, it seems to me."

"Those are bold words, sir," said Hal; "bold and not overly cautious,
should they come to some ears."

"But you agree with me, don't you, captain?" exclaimed the colonel, in
some alarm. "I am talking now between friends, you know. Surely you will
not repeat what I have just said?"

"Certainly I shall not repeat to any German officer what you have said,"
Hal declared truthfully.

At this moment the car rounded a sharp curve in the road. Ahead Hal saw
the headlight of a machine drawn up in the middle of the road. It was
impossible for the lad to drive around the second machine, so he brought
his own car to a stop.

"Hope there is no trouble ahead," he told himself.

But, as it developed, there was trouble ahead.

Hal sprang from the car, as did Harding and Chester. The three realized
that if there was trouble it would be better for them to stick together.
The German colonel, however, leaned back in his seat, making no effort
to move.

Half a dozen figures advanced toward the three fugitives, five privates
and a lieutenant.

The lieutenant saluted Hal, who was in advance, as did the privates.

Hal returned the salute.

"What can I do for you, lieutenant?" he asked. "Machine in trouble?"

"No, sir. I'm guarding the road in the hope of picking up three
prisoners who escaped from the camp at Villingen."

"I see," said Hal. "Word flashed ahead, eh?"

"Yes, sir, and it was deemed probable they would come along this road."

"I haven't seen anything of them en route," said Hal. "It may be that
they are behind us. Wish you luck, lieutenant. Sorry I can't stay and
have a hand in the capture, but I bear important dispatches and must be
on my way. Will you please move your car to one side of the road?"

"Sorry, sir," said the lieutenant, "but I am instructed to examine
carefully every one who passes."

"Oh, well, I suppose I can drive around you," said Hal, eyeing the side
of the road.

"One moment, sir," said the lieutenant as Hal turned to move away. "I am
satisfied with you, sir, but I must interrogate your companions.
Remember, it is my duty, sir."

"Very well, then, lieutenant," said Hal. "Proceed, sir."

Chester approached and replied to the German's questions without
hesitancy. Then Harding was forced to step forward.

One look at the big Englishman was enough for the German lieutenant.
Nevertheless, he spoke in German.

"May I ask your name, Herr Captain?" he said. Harding opened his mouth
to reply, but at that moment Hal took prompt action. Stepping close to
the German lieutenant, he shoved his revolver against the man's side and
said quietly:

"Enough of this, sir. You will either order your men to move that
automobile from across the road immediately, or I shall be compelled to

The German's face turned a chalky white in the darkness, although this
was not distinguishable. For a moment he hesitated, but Hal shoved the
revolver more closely against him and the lieutenant gave the necessary

"Now Chester," said Hal, "you and Harding go back and get in the car,
and whatever you do, make sure that our friend the colonel doesn't get
out. He's a jewel of rare value, Chester, and we can't afford to lose
him. Do you understand?"

"You bet," was Chester's reply, as he and Harding turned and ran for the

The German colonel was about to alight as Chester and Harding dashed

"What's the trouble?" he asked.

"Nothing serious, sir," said Chester. "Please get back in the car."

"Wait a moment now," protested the colonel. "Guess I'll have a look
ahead first."

"Get back in that car!" said Chester in a stern voice.

"Look here!" exclaimed the colonel. "How dare you talk like that to your
superior officer? You shall be disciplined, sir."

"No time for words," said Harding in English at that moment.

He ran in suddenly and seized the colonel from behind. In spite of the
latter's frantic struggles, the Englishman lifted him into the tonneau
and held him as he climbed in himself. Chester also jumped in and showed
a revolver, which he pressed close to the colonel's head.

"One word and you are a dead man!" said the lad quietly.

Hal, still guarding the German lieutenant closely, saw the German
privates move the machine and open the road.

"Now, lieutenant," he said, "you'll accompany me back to my own car,
first ordering your men to stand one side."

The lieutenant gave the necessary order and preceded Hal back to the
other car.

"One more thing, lieutenant," said Hal, as he placed his foot on the
step prepared to leap in, "if you make an outcry before we have passed
your men yonder, some of them will get hurt. Take my advice and keep

Hal lowered his revolver slowly until it pointed at the German's feet.
Then he pulled the trigger.

There was a flash and a report and the German lieutenant skipped nimbly
back as the bullet kicked up the dust about him. He was not wounded, nor
had Hal intended that he should be. The lad's act was simply a ruse to
get a little start.

The moment he fired his revolver Hal leaped into the car, slammed the
door behind him and sent the machine forward with a lurch.

From behind came an angry hail from the lieutenant and his revolver
cracked. But the bullets went wild.

The lieutenant's action, however, had served his purpose. It alarmed the
soldiers ahead, who, seeing the automobile bearing down on them, cried
loud commands to halt.

But the car kept on.

"Duck!" cried Hal, and suited the action to the word.

The occupants of the tonneau also ducked their heads out of harm's way
even as the German soldiers fired a volley from their rifles. Before
they could fire again, however, the car was far down the road, and a
moment later it disappeared around a sharp curve.

"There'll be pursuit, Chester!" shouted Hal. "Rifle the pockets of our
friend the colonel and climb in the front seat here with whatever you
can find."

Chester needed no further instructions.

In spite of the protests and struggles of the German colonel, Chester
went through his pockets systematically and thoroughly.

"Now you guard him, Harding," the lad said.

"I'll guard him all right," said Harding grimly. "I'll toss him
overboard at the first sign of trouble."

The German appeared to understand the words.

Chester climbed into the front seat with some difficulty because of the
lurching of the car as it sped along. In a few words Hal told him of the
dispatches the colonel had carried.

"If he had 'em, I've got 'em now," said Chester grimly. "I took
everything he had."

"We can't stop to see now," said Hal. "You climb back and tell him we
are figuring on him to show us the way to the front direct. If he
refuses or plays false, tell him you'll shoot him."

Chester clambered back into the tonneau again.

"I agree!" shouted the colonel when Chester told him what he would be
expected to do. "And I'll do better than that. I don't want to fight any
more. I'm tired of it. I am your prisoner, sir, and I wish to be taken
into your lines as such."

"That sounds pretty fishy to me," said Chester.

"But it is true," protested the German, "and I will show you the way
through the German lines."

There was something so apparently sincere in the German's words, that
Chester climbed back and again held counsel with Hal. The result of this
was that the German colonel was transferred to the front seat, and
Chester sat close behind him with a revolver at his back.

It was hours later that the automobile came within sight of the huge
German army encampment. Hal was now forced to slow down.

But the party was not molested as the car proceeded through the heart of
the encampment, Hal following the directions of the German colonel.

"Now," said the colonel, pointing, "if you will follow that road, it
will take us to the front line, where, by a dash, we shall be able to
pass the last outposts."

Hal followed the directions. Ten minutes later a German sentinel cried a
command to halt, but Hal sent the car forward faster. There came a sharp
report from behind, but the bullet went wild.

Ten minutes later there came another command to halt. But this command
came in English.

Hal brought the car to a quick stop and climbed out.

"Safe at last," he cried to Chester and Harding. "And now for General
Pershing and the drive that will push the Germans back forever!"

                              CHAPTER XXIV


As Hal jumped from the automobile, he found his way barred by a British

"It's all right; we're friends," he said.

The Briton eyed Hal and his German uniform dubiously.

"You may be," he said, "but the uniform you wear doesn't look much like

Hal laughed.

"We are friends nevertheless," he said. "Take us to your colonel and
we'll convince him soon enough."

"Well," said the Tommy, "you may be. I've seen some queer things in this
war so I'll not dispute you. But I'll take my oath that man," and he
pointed to the German colonel, "is a German."

"You're right, my man," said Hal, "but he comes as a prisoner."

"And you'll all go to the colonel as prisoners," declared the sentinel.
He raised his voice in a shout: "Hey, sergeant!"

A British sergeant came forward at a run.

"What's the matter, Smith?" he demanded.

"Four chaps here in German uniforms and three of 'em say they belong to
our army," said Smith.

The sergeant looked the four over. As his eyes fell on Harding he

"I'll take my oath it's Harding!" he exclaimed, and advanced with
outstretched hand.

"Right you are sergeant," said Harding. "How do you like my new

"Fine, if you killed a Boche to get it," the sergeant made reply. He
turned to the colonel. "I'll be responsible for these men, Smith," he

The private walked away.

Harding explained the situation to the sergeant in a few words, leaving
out, however, all reference to the lads' mission.

"I'll wake the colonel myself," said the sergeant, "if you say you must
be on your way at once."

"We must, sergeant," said Chester.

"Very well then; follow me, but you there, Mr. Fritz, walk ahead and
remember I've got my gun ready and would be glad to use it."

In this manner they reached the quarters of the British regimental
commander, who received Hal and Chester immediately when he learned that
there was need of haste.

"We carry dispatches for General Pershing, sir," said Hal, "and we would
like to be on our way at once. Otherwise we would not have disturbed you
at this hour."

"Your names?" asked the colonel.

Chester told him.

"Very well," said the colonel. "I shall get in touch with General
Pershing immediately by telephone. In the meantime, you must remain

The colonel summoned his orderly and gave the necessary instructions.

Harding, meantime, had gone away with his friend the top sergeant, who
also had volunteered to take care of the German officer. The boys had
promised Harding that they would see him again before they left. He had
announced his intention of joining his own regiment.

It was several hours later--after daylight--when the British colonel
informed the lads that they were at liberty to depart.

"I have satisfied myself of your identity," he told them.

"I wonder, sir," said Hal, "if you could supply us with more appropriate
clothing than these German uniforms?"

"I think I can," he replied. "It's true you wouldn't make much progress
in our lines with those uniforms. Also I can furnish you a British army
automobile, which will help."

"Thank you, sir," said Hal.

Half an hour later they were attired in regulation British uniforms and
stood talking to Harding just before they made ready to climb into the
automobile to continue their journey.

"I am certainly glad we ran across you, Harding," said Hal as the two
shook hands.

"No more than I am to have been with you both, sir," said Harding. "I
wish you luck in the matter you told me of and I feel that the offensive
now will not be long coming. In the meantime, however, in accord with
your wishes, I shall say nothing."

"I am sure it will be better that way," said Hal. "Well, we'll see you
again some time. Good-bye."

Chester also bade the Englishman farewell and the two boys climbed into
the machine. The car sped forward.

It was a long distance to General Pershing's headquarters in Soissons
from the point where Hal and Chester had re-entered the Allied lines,
and Hal knew that he could not hope to cover the distance before dark.
Nevertheless, he kept the car going at a fair speed all during the day.

The lads made only two stops, both times to replenish their gasoline
tank, but it was well after eight o'clock that evening when they came to
the outskirts of Soissons.

Hal slowed down the car.

"Well, we'll soon be there," he said.

"And I'll be glad of it," declared Chester. "It's been quite an eventful
trip and we've learned a few things about the enemy that we didn't know

"Right," said Hal. "By the way, did you examine the papers we took from
the German to make sure that they were what he said?"

"Yes. I have the dispatch, and it is as he represented it to be. I made
sure of that, all right."

"Good; then our mission has been successful."

"It has if Marshal Foch lives up to his word," said Chester.

"He'll do that, all right. You heard him make the promise, didn't you?"

"Yes; but maybe he'll say this is not sufficient proof."

"He can't very well, to my mind. Hello, here we are!"

The car came to a pause in front of the villa occupied by General
Pershing. The two lads climbed out.

As they would have ascended the steps, they were stopped by an American

"Have word sent to General Pershing that Lieutenants Paine and Crawford
are here to report," said Hal.

The man passed the word to a second sentinel, who entered the building.
He was back in a few moments.

"The general directs that you come to him immediately," he said.

Hal and Chester mounted the steps rapidly, passed through the long hall
and entered General Pershing's private office.

General Pershing stood close to the door as the lads entered, and there
was an expression of eagerness on his face. The lads saluted.

"What luck?" demanded the American commander-in-chief.

"The best, sir," replied Hal quietly.

"Good!" thundered the American commander. "I knew you would do it. Now
tell me what you have learned."

Hal related the incidents leading up to the seizure of the German
officer's dispatches as briefly as possible and Chester passed over the

General Pershing hurried to his desk and beneath the glow of his desk
light ran through the papers quickly. A smile stole over his features.

"It is enough," he said, getting to his feet again.

The lads flushed with pleasure.

"Captain Paine, Captain Crawford," said General Pershing. "I
congratulate you both. You have done well."

Hal and Chester started at the title of "captain" and Hal would have
spoken. But General Pershing stayed him with a gesture.

"Your promotions I made out before you started," he said simply. "It
would have been no disgrace had you failed. I understand you were
captains in the British army before you resigned to go to America and
fight for Old Glory. Surely your own country is bound to treat you as
well as England."

The faces of both boys were red and they fidgeted nervously. The praise
of their general pleased them, but they would rather have done without

"Thank you, sir," muttered Hal.

Chester also stammered his gratitude.

"I will say this much more," continued General Pershing; "You are young
for captains, it is true, but if before the war is over you do not rank
still higher I am a bad prophet."

Again the lads stammered their thanks.

"Never mind the thanks, sirs," said General Pershing. "I have bestowed
no favor. You have won your promotions on your merits. Now leave me, for
I have work to do. Report to Colonel Gibson, who will find quarters for
you for the night. I shall send for you to-morrow. Good night, sirs."

General Pershing stepped toward them and extended his hand to each in

Hal and Chester stopped at the door long enough to salute, and then left
the room. They found Colonel Gibson without difficulty and that officer
immediately dispatched an orderly to find them quarters.

"Now," said Hal, when they were comfortably installed half an hour
later, "I intend to sleep until General Pershing sends for me

"And I," agreed Chester. "I don't feel as if I had had a good sleep for
a month. And I'll bet we won't get much more sleep, either."

"Why?" demanded Hal.

"Why?" echoed Chester. "Why, because an advance will be ordered soon and
then there won't be time to sleep."

"It may not come for some weeks yet," Hal demurred. "Those things take
time, you know."

"I know that," Chester admitted, "but I'll bet General Pershing won't
let any grass grow under his feet."

"Trouble is, it's not up to him entirely," said Hal.

"Maybe not," declared Chester, "but if Marshal Foch doesn't act on this
information. General Pershing is likely to act himself."

"And if he doesn't," laughed Hal, "one of our divisional commanders is
likely to do it in the heat of excitement."

And that is exactly what happened.

                              CHAPTER XXV

                        THE MARINES MOVE FORWARD

"Chester," said Hal, "that is the finest looking body of men I have ever

Hal eyed the long lines of marines with pride and a critical eye.

"Right you are, Hal," Chester agreed. "I'll bet they make the Germans
sit up and take notice." He turned to Bowers. "You are to be
congratulated on being a part of such an outfit, sergeant," he added.

"Thank you, sir," said Bowers.

"And we're in luck to have been detailed here at this time," said Hal.

"You're right again," declared Chester.

It was three days after Hal and Chester had returned from their mission
for General Pershing. Soon after the American commander had communicated
to Marshal Foch the results of the lads' work, he had ordered them south
to General Bundy's two divisions of marines, which for several days had
been encamped some distance from the front. The lads had delivered
dispatches from the American commander-in-chief to General Bundy and had
been detailed to the Sixth Regiment. There, much to their surprise, they
encountered their old friends, Lieutenants Smith and Jenkins, and
Bowers, who had been promoted to a top sergeancy.

All were delighted with the reunion and the marines expressed their
satisfaction when they learned Hal and Chester had been promoted.

"It's probably a bit irregular to have you with us, sir," Sergeant
Bowers said to Hal, "but we're glad you're here."

"I'll tell you something, sergeant," said Hal, with a knowing wink. "It
will be only a matter of hours now until we move to the front."

"Is that so, sir?" asked Bowers. "Well, it can't be too soon for me.
I've had one crack at these Huns, but up to date the marines haven't
been in sufficient strength to show what we can do. But," and his eyes
swept the large encampment, "there are enough of us here to run Fritz to
death if they give us a chance."

"Practically eighteen thousand men," Chester agreed.

"Let's hope we get another crack at them soon, sir," said Bowers.

The chance was to come sooner than even Hal or Chester had believed

It was on the evening of June 15 that the marines suddenly received
orders to march. This was the day following the arrival of Hal and
Chester at General Bundy's headquarters.

The lads had been much impressed with General Bundy upon sight; and he
was not to lose caste in their eyes; for, as it developed, here was the
man who was to be mainly responsible for the launching of the great
Allied offensive.

General Omar Bundy was tall and spare and was chiefly distinguishable by
a rather prominent mustache. He was a capable officer and a man prone to
prompt decision, as he was to prove.

Hard upon the orders to move forward, the marines vaulted into camions,
or French motor trucks. These vehicles found great favor in their eyes.
The springs are so staunch and stiff, the hard seats are so dependable,
and their capacity is so blindly ignored when they are loaded that the
soldiers had many a laugh.

Although they had had no supper, there was quite a lot of singing as the
troops embarked.

All night long the trucks bumped over the traffic-torn roads. When dawn
peeped above the purple horizon they pulled into a little French village
and the men jumped from the tracks. They were hungry and thirsty.

Up to this time the men had not thought much about their destination,
but as the roar of the guns at the front became louder and louder they
began to realize that there was serious work ahead. In spite of their
growing thirst and the emptiness in their stomachs, however, there was
not a murmur of protest in the ranks.

A division cannot be moved over one road and expect to reach its
destination in proper formation--and there were two divisions moving
here. All the roads leading to the destination must be utilized, and
even then some parts of the division will be dumped many kilometers from
their destination.

So the troops hiked and hiked till the roads beneath them rose in dusty
protest at the ceaseless tramp, tramp.

In the afternoon the regiment to which Hal and Chester were attached
struck through a deep wood. The trees were magnificent. All the
underbrush had been cleared out. It was replaced by shells. Acres on
acres were piled high with shells of every calibre. Most of them were
made in America, and the troops cheered as they recognized the trade

Around the edges of this stupendous mountain of death there was a
feverish activity, a subdued excitement that boded ill. American and
French ammunition trains came tearing, galloping, whirling in
dust-clouds ahead of smoking exhausts--into that trembling woods. With
seeming recklessness shells were tossed into the wagons and camions,
which departed with fresh haste.

A flood of giant trucks streamed into the woods, dumped their loads of
ammunition and whirled away for more. The marines tightened their belts
and decided to stick around. There was something doing!

Finally the marines emerged onto the main road. And what a road! It was
a nightmare, a thousand bedlams. There was noise, noise and more noise.
It was a Niagara of sound that deafened the men.

The shouting of the workers, the crunch and grind of wheels, the groan
of gears, the cracking of whips, the clang of metal, the pounding of
countless horses' hoofs, the chugging of streams of motors and the
screams of their many-throated sirens; empty ammunition trains going and
loaded ones coming, light artillery and heavy artillery, tanks in
platoons, trucks in companies, field kitchens, water wagons, supply
trains, ration carts, all fought for space and air in order to make
their own particular noise vibrate. Every square foot of that road,
broad and gummy-surfaced, supported something all the time, while the
ditches on either side were used by endless lines of plodding Americans,
faint from hunger and thirst, almost exhausted from want of sleep, but
all thrilled by the hunger for Huns that would only be satisfied by
victory and peace.

The marines were about to strike the enemy and they knew it. Marshal
Foch was behind them.

So they plodded on and on without complaint. The road with its babel of
streaming traffic told them that something was about to happen. And each
man secretly congratulated himself on being considered good enough to
have a part in the show.

Toward the evening it was pure agony for most of the men to pass a
French kitchen, located in the woods that flanked both sides of the
woods. The men took to robbing the water wagons as they passed. French
drivers, angered, slashed at them with their whips, but the marines
didn't mind.

Looking back along the road, Sergeant Bowers saw a young marine with a
loaf of French bread. The sergeant stepped out of line and waited for
him. In the presence of that loaf of bread, the sergeant actually

"Where'd you get it?" demanded the sergeant of the young marine.

"Frenchman, for the makin's,'" returned the youngster.

Instantly the sergeant turned his eyes to the side of the road, where
for the first time he noted the presence, at irregular intervals, of
French soldiers, most of them slightly wounded, some of whom carried
loaves of bread. Sergeant Bowers approached one and exposed a sack half
full of tobacco.

"For one loaf," he said to a Frenchman near him.

Without haggling, the man passed the loaf of bread to the sergeant and
the latter gave him his tobacco.

"Pretty high," said the sergeant to himself, "but I've just naturally
got to have something to eat."

Congestion soon halted the line as the Americans advanced. Lured on by
Sergeant Bowers' action, hundreds of privates were able to make
exchanges with French soldiers, and it took sharp orders from the
officers to make them move on again.

Every now and then the marines came to a place where a shell had
exploded in the road recently. At one place they came upon what had been
five horses, and a part of another, and some blue helmets. These were
dragged aside hastily.

Around 5 o'clock, Hal, who had gone to headquarters in a commandeered
automobile, rejoined his regiment, which soon stopped for a rest.
Sergeant Bowers dropped down in the ditch and eased his pack straps from
the spots that ached. Hal went over to him.

"Sergeant," said the lad, "have the men got emergency rations?"

"No, sir," said Bowers.

"What?" exclaimed Hal. "Why haven't they? Major Drew told me they had."

"Well, they haven't, sir," repeated Bowers dryly. "I can vouch for that.
I've had to pull up my belt a couple of notches."

"Now, that's pretty tough," declared Hal. "But I am afraid it can't be
helped now, sergeant."

"Right you are, sir. I don't hear any kicking."

Hal smiled in spite of himself.

After a brief rest, the marines resumed their journey. They struck out
along a quieter road. They hiked and hiked till their shoes quit
squeaking. The road gradually became deserted. Soon the marching marines
were the only men in sight.

The men zig-zagged from side to side, ducking trees cut off by big
shells. Suddenly the vanguard was confronted by a gesticulating
Frenchman, who waved his hands for them to stop. Hal halted his company
and rode forward.

"What's the matter?" he demanded in French.

The Frenchman pointed dramatically along the road.


"What?" queried Hal. "_Com bien kilometers?_" (How many kilometers?)

"_Non. Non!_" returned the Frenchman. "Kilometer!"

Hal thanked the Frenchman and discreetly ordered his men into a woods.
The withdrawal was assisted by five German shells that burst on both
sides of the road.

"Just in time, sir," said Bowers.

"Right," replied Hal, "thanks to the Frenchman."

                              CHAPTER XXVI

                         THE ADVANCE CONTINUES

A runner found Major Drew and delivered an order to dig in.

Meanwhile, darkness had blotted out all but the trees, and between the
bark of the "heavies" (heavy artillery), the marines caught the
deep-throated roll of thunder. A soldier who has had two months of open
work or outdoor warfare, in which artillery had played the leading role,
has to be very tired to ignore an order to dig in a scant kilometer back
of the first line, the worst spot on the field.

The marines dug in.

When nature's storm broke the troops meekly rolled up in their ponchos,
dropped to the ground and asleep. The closing misery of that day came in
the shape of rain. But it did not keep the tired marines awake.

Before dawn next morning, the troops were up, standing by, awaiting the
barrage. The last tanks that had found shelter in the woods the
preceding day had trundled away before dawn. Nothing was now left to
divert the attention of the men from gnawing stomachs. The men tightened
their belts again and tried to concentrate on the work to come.

At four-thirty o'clock in the morning there was an explosion. It never
wavered. It lasted for hours without interruption. The earth shook up
and down and sideways. The very foundation of the Teutonic dynasties
must have trembled. It shook the leaves off the trees.

Forgotten were parched throats and empty stomachs. The troops fairly
revelled in the cannonading, for they felt that they would soon have a
hand in the fight.

Two hours later, the guns still thundering, the marines started up the
road on which the Frenchman had flagged Hal the night before. A hundred
yards beyond where he had encountered the marines lay a dead German.
Near him was a machine gun placed to command that road.

This road was a replica of other roads. If anything, the congestion was
worse than it had been the day before.

Huge trees, uprooted by giant shells, required detours while the
engineers worked like beavers to clear away the massive tops. Reserve
tanks and artillery lined either side of the road. Ambulances now mixed
with the various wagons of war.

Weaving in and out through the traffic came the walking wounded; Germans
bearing improvised stretchers and batches of from ten to twenty
prisoners. The air was peopled with aeroplanes. The sharp chatter of
machine guns occasionally rose above the rumble of the artillery.

In their first encounter of any moment with the Boche the marines
learned many things. They learned that the German infantry had a horror
of hand-to-hand fighting, and would run or surrender rather than try
such combat. They learned that the sole protection of the Boche
artillery lay in the effectiveness of front-line machine guns and its
own accuracy. They came to believe the backbone of the German infantry
was its artillery. Such a situation in any army, they knew, must have a
demoralizing effect. The infantry should be the backbone of the

Meantime the American battalion to which Hal and Chester were attached
took up a position at the edge of the woods and awaited orders. After
the first excitement had passed, the attention of the troops fell back
to their empty stomachs. They counted again the hours since their last
meal. They totalled forty-two. For that many years, it seemed, they had
been without food, sleep and water rations, and had worked as men had
never worked before.

Then the miracle happened. A big truck drew up by the roadside and began
to dump boxes--boxes of canned beef, tomatoes, prunes and bread. Fifteen
minutes later there were a thousand happy marines in that section,
ravenously gulping down a real "feed" and quenching their thirst.

But war considers no man's pleasure. In the midst of the feast came the
rattle and clatter of machine guns, temporarily acting as aerial

Came sweeping down from the sky four aeroplanes, directly over where Hal
and Chester stood conversing.

"The Iron Cross!" cried Sergeant Bowers.

Under the command of their officers, the men grabbed their rifles.

"Hold on!" cried one, as the men were about to fire at the nearest
machine. "It's a Frenchman."

It was true, but it became apparent a moment later that there still
would be need for weapons, for in the wake of the French craft followed
three German machines.

Points in aerial battle at close range come and go too quickly for
recognition almost.

The clever Frenchman was outwitting the Boche pilot. The four planes
whirled directly over the heads of the marines, a hundred feet from the
ground, the Frenchman a few yards ahead and lowest. They cleared the
tops of the trees and circled over a field ahead. The Boches poured lead
upon the handicapped Frenchman, who desperately turned the nose of his
craft upward. The Germans must have been looking for such a move. They
elevated and closed in on him.

A fierce battle of machine guns; a plane dropped nose foremost. Straight
down it came, then--within twenty feet of the ground--the French pilot,
with superb daring, jerked his machine to a level keel and sailed off,
clipping the heads off the grain.

The German machines hovered over the spot where it seemed the French
pilot must meet disaster, and the marines opened fire on them with their
rifles. Each time the Germans approached closer, they were driven off,
for it was certain that an American bullet sooner or later must find a
vital spot.

The German machines turned and made off.

Now came orders for the marines to dig in. Soon every man had a hole.
Later in the day these holes were abandoned and the marines marched to
positions nearer the front line.

Hal's detachment came to a crossroad and turned to the right. From there
the lad could see the broad expanse of country beyond. It was all fields
of waving grain, streams of men, of horses and artillery.

They cut across an enormous field of wheat. On their right lay a French
plane, apparently none the worse for its adventure. To the left lay a
big German plane. Beside it were the bodies of two men--the pilot and
the gunner.

"Here they come!" shouted Sergeant Bowers suddenly.

Hal looked ahead and saw a column of men--Germans--marching toward the
Americans four abreast.

Apparently there was no end to that column. At least twenty officers
were at the head of it. They appeared to be the happiest men in sight,
and well they might be, for for them the days of war were over. They
were prisoners.

The marines moved forward again.

They passed a line of batteries, famous French "75's," pounding,
pounding. Over the country ahead, Hal counted five hangars, or what had
been aeroplane hangars. Now they were grotesquely twisted steel
skeletons, deserted by the enemy. The troops passed through a small
village, into another wheat field, formed for attack, and halted.

They occupied a knoll. On the slope below was a line of queer looking
dots. In the hollow proper were three "75" batteries. Up to the left
were still more batteries. Hal searched the landscape with his eyes
carefully. Ahead he saw his target.

It was on the farthest hill. The last rays of the sun outlined it
clearly. It was the long line of tanks, which the Huns had brought into
the fight as substitutes, their artillery having been captured. When Hal
first sighted them they were spitting fire from their one-pounders and
they were moving.

Half an hour later, under the fire from Americans and French, they were
in ruins, and through glasses Hal and Chester saw the German infantry
retiring past them. The French and American batteries rested.

"Now," said Hal to Chester, "if you ask me, here is where we should
continue our advance."

Chester shrugged.

"It seems that Marshal Foch has not decided yet that the time for an
offensive is ripe," he replied. "At the same time, I am not convinced
that we should attack right now. The two divisions of marines are
somewhat scattered, as you know, and are not in position to give each
other the necessary support. Then, too, we must be greatly outnumbered."

"What difference does that make?" Hal wanted to know. "They're running
now, aren't they? What's the matter with pushing them a little faster?"

Chester smiled.

"I'm going to recommend you as General Pershing's successor," he said.

"Is that so?" demanded Hal. "Let me tell you that it wasn't so long ago
I heard you advance ideas that you believed were better than any that
had occurred to the general staff."

Chester grinned.

"I guess we'll both make a couple of good generals some day," he said.
"But all joking aside, do you know just where we are now?"

"Well, about," said Hal. "This is Belleau Woods. Beyond there," and the
lad pointed directly ahead, "is what is known as Chateau Thierry. A city
has sprung up around the old chateau, but I don't know whether the
Germans have left anything of it. It was rather a famous spot in its

And it was to become still more famous, though neither lad knew it then.

                             CHAPTER XXVII

                         BUNDY'S FAMOUS MESSAGE

It was the morning of the seventeenth of June. All night the duel of
great guns had raged over Belleau Woods and to the north and the south.

With the coming of daylight, the Germans charged the combined French and
American troops that held that part of the field. Fighting desperately,
the Allied armies were forced to fall back in the face of superior
numbers and a terrific rain of machine gun and artillery fire.

On the Allied right flank and again on the left flank the retirement of
French troops began to take on the form of a disorderly retreat. It
seemed that the day was lost.

Suddenly, in the early morning, there came pushing through the
retreating French forces, a body of men in khaki, in perfect formation.
Behind them came others.

General Bordeau, the French divisional commander, eyed them in surprise.
Hastily he dispatched a courier to the American commander, General Omar
Bundy. The courier made the journey quickly. General Bundy received him
at once.

"General Bordeau advises that you fall back at once, sir," said the
courier. "It is folly to advance in the face of utter annihilation."

General Bundy got slowly to his feet His face was stern and his eyes
flashed as he delivered his now famous message.

"We regret, sir," said he, "that we are unable to follow the counsels of
our masters the French, but the American flag has been compelled to
retire. This is unendurable, and none of our soldiers would understand
not being asked to do whatever is necessary to reëstablish a situation
which is humiliating to us and unacceptable to our country's honor. We
are going to counter attack!"

And counter attack the Americans did, led by the marines, with a result
that the whole world knows.

That the reader may be better able to understand the situation, it will
be well to go back a ways and tell in more detail of events leading up
to the presence of the marines in Belleau Woods.

After having been drilled all summer, the regiment of marines which had
come with the first convoy in June, was withdrawn from the First
Division. Although this was most depressing to every officer and man, in
that it meant that they would not be among the first in the trenches,
the service to which they were assigned was in one sense a compliment to
qualities which are as inseparable from them as their gallantry.

The marines have traditions, associated with ship's orderliness, which
are kept up by competent, veteran non-commissioned officers, that make
them models in soldierly deportment.

After the withdrawal of the marines, the First Division was brought up
to full strength as a complete regular division composed of the
Sixteenth, Eighteenth, Twenty-sixth and Twenty-eighth Regiments of
infantry and the first artillery brigade, of the Fifth, Sixth and
Seventh artillery regiments.

On the third of June the German confined his attacks for the most part
northward of the section held by the marines, but was feeding in machine
gun groups with a view to future mischief. On the early morning of the
fourth, the marines took over from the French a twelve-mile front, with
the Third brigade, holding the Fourth from its left to the west of
Belleau Woods. The Twenty-Third Regiment, and the marine battalion and
the Fifth Machine Gun Battalion, which had been sent to fill the gap at
Colombs, were returned to the division, which now held the sector alone.

The marines now held twelve miles of battleline with no reserves between
them and the Marne.

From Hill 204 all the way to the American right the Germans had the
advantage of observation.

The country is uneven, with many woods and the usual open fields
between woods and villages. In front of the marines the Germans held
the important tactical point of the village of Bouresches and the
railroad station, and they had filtered into the adjoining Belleau
Woods and around it as an ideal cover for machine-gun nests. This
Bouresches-Belleau line was excellent for the purpose of the enemy if
they were to stabilize their positions and cease to advance, or as a
jumping-off place for continuing their offensive.

The spirit of rivalry between the Third (a regular brigade) and the
Fourth (the marines) was very pronounced. Marine officers might not have
had the schooling in tactics of the regulars, but being plain
infantrymen, they considered at least that they were not afraid to

The honor and future of the marine corps were at stake there before
Belleau Woods and Bouresches. There had been people who had said the
marine corps should be eliminated from the armed forces of the United
States. The marines soon were to prove themselves.

On the Fourth of June, the first day they were in the front line, the
marines had repulsed a German attack. At dawn on the morning of the
Sixth, the second day after they were in the line, they made an attack
in conjunction with the French on the left to rectify the line in the
direction of Torcy; and they went through machine-gun fire and shell
fire to their objectives all according to pattern.

According to General Bundy's ideas, the way to act in an active sector
was to be active, that is why the marines were enabled to make history
at Belleau Woods, which battle included the fight at Chateau Thierry.

It was before noon on the seventeenth of June. Straggling figures came
around a bend in the road near Meaux--they were French, the advance
guards of the retreating columns that were to follow.

Folks from the nearby villages crowded the roadside with tears in their
eyes as they watched their own French soldiers going back and back. It
meant the Germans were coming on toward Paris!

Slowly it dawned on those French civilians that American marines, which
now were seen approaching, were going ahead to fill the gap--to take the
place left by their own poilus. The word passed quickly down the
roadside. Girls and women ran forward with poppies and other blossoms
and pressed them into the hands of the marines. Their gratitude was
pathetic--it impeded the regular line of march, at first, but after the
marines passed, every man was filled with a determination to make good.

The marines had marched about half an hour when Hal and Chester came
across a sight they will never forget--a long line of stumbling, pitiful

A man behind Hal said two or three times to himself:

"Confound 'em!" and there was a murmured re-echo down the line.

"Quiet back there!" the platoon leader shouted, but there was a bit of
sympathy in the command.

German shells began to fall near the road, thicker and thicker. They
were feeling their way with artillery for the advance that was to
follow. Not so many kilometers more, and their shells would be falling
on Paris, the German staff thought.

Then came the orders to dig in, and the marines fell to.

They had no time to dig anything but individual rifle pits that June
day, before they got their first chance to give "Fritz" a taste of the
unexpected. With their bayonets and mess gear they scraped shallow holes
in the ground, and along that afternoon the Germans marched confidently
out of the woods, across the green wheatfield, in two perfect columns.

Then the marines opened fire.

Hardly a marine in that regiment, and other regiments behind--in fact
hardly a man in the two divisions of marines that soon were to battle
desperately, hand-to-hand, with the Germans, that did not boast a
"marksman's badge"; many were qualified as sharpshooters and expert
riflemen. These men did not simply raise their rifles and shoot in the
general direction of Germany. They adjusted their sights, coolly took
aim and shot to kill. The Prussians dropped as if death was wielding a
scythe in their midst, rank after rank.

Then the flower of the German army broke ranks and took refuge in the
woods. But the impudence of the Americans could not be allowed to go
unpunished. The Germans whipped and slashed that field of waist-high
wheat with such a concentrated machine-gun fire as neither Hal nor
Chester ever expected to encounter again.

But once again the unexpected.

Wave after wave of marines rose up in perfect alignment and charged!

Foolhardy? Of course. The marines dropped in twos, threes and fours, but
they advanced. Whole platoons were wiped out, but the waves never broke.

At a certain point, say books on tactics, the remnants of decimated
forces must waver, give way and retire. Never were ranks cut up so
before, perhaps, but the book of tactics went awry when those American
youngsters charged! Handfulls of them reached the trees and put the
Boche to flight. Then they entrenched at the edge of the woods.

But the end was not yet. The advance of the marines continued through
the woods.

At the very outset they met machine-gun fire; and out of the wood, after
they were in it, came the persistent rattle of rifle fire, varied by
veritable storms of machine-gun fire. Wounded began to flow back from
the ravines. Calls came for Stokes' mortars from the hidden scene of
that vicious medley, along with the report that Colonel Catlin had been
wounded half an hour after the attack began.

Machine-gun positions in the outskirts of the woods had been taken; but
they were only the first lot. Hal had been through many woods where
German machine gunners ensconced themselves, and none that he remembered
afforded better positions for defense against any enemy.

Not only was the undergrowth advantageous, but there were numerous rocks
and ravines and pockets, all of which favored the Germans. There was
nothing new in the system which the enemy applied, but not until troops
go against it for the first time do they realize its character.

When they could locate a gun, the marines concentrated their rifles upon
it. The wounded crawled back behind rocks or into ravines, or to any
place where they could find a dead space. Hot cries accompanied the
flashing drives of the cold steel through the underbrush. Many bayonets
might drop from the hands of the men who were hit, but some bayonets
would "get there."

Hal, stopping to get his breath, found time to say to Chester, who was
near him:

"Hot work, old man; but we're going through!"

                             CHAPTER XXVIII

                            CHATEAU THIERRY

That was the thing--to get there!

The marines have always fought in that way. It is tradition--and their

German gunners ran from their guns in face of such assaults; others
tried to withdraw their guns; still others were taken in groups huddled
in ravines as youth, fearful in its white rage of determination, bore
down upon them and gathered them in, or, again, drove the bayonet home
into gunners who stuck to their posts until the instant that forms, with
eyes gleaming, leapt upon them.

With captured German machine guns, men, whom the marines farther back
could not reach with food and water, held their gains, taking food and
water from the American and German dead.

Although the first phase of the attack had not been fully accomplished,
it was determined not to hold back the other companies, which had been
waiting under shell fire that only aroused their eagerness to advance,
from undertaking the second phase.

Theirs was a simpler task than that of their comrades who had stormed
the woods. Artillery preparation in clearing away was, of course, more
serviceable against a village than against a woods, and neither machine
gun nor shell fire delayed the precision of the movement across the open
to the village of Chateau Thierry itself.

But the enemy contested every step of the advance. These troops that the
German general staff now hurled forward to stem the tide of the American
advance were the flower of the emperor's army--the Prussian Guards, who
boasted that they had never been stopped.

But not only were they to be stopped by the impetuous daring of the
Americans, but they were soon to be driven back in utter rout.

In the woods the marines were cheek by jowl with the enemy, who were
slipping more machine guns into that section of the wood.

The Germans must be made to understand that the woods was the property
of the Americans--that was the thought in the hearts of all the marines
as they went about their work, while the Germans, on their part, began
gassing the approaches both of Chateau Thierry and Belleau village.

The very irregular shape of Belleau Woods, no less than the character of
the ground, favored the defenders in forming cross zones of fire. It was
a strange and fierce business, there in the dense brush, where men of
the same squad could not keep in touch with one another at times.
Happily the marines had located some of the enemy nests before they
attacked, but those farther ahead they could locate only when the
Germans began firing, or when they stumbled upon gunners who were still
hugging cover after the bombardment, or who simply had concluded it was
better to be a live prisoner than to die for the Kaiser.

They were taken in groups and singly, taken standing behind trees and
hugging the holes they had dug in the earth. Some were trying to retreat
with their guns; others fled precipitately, and many continued to work
their guns.

It was a hunt of man-hornet nests, with khaki the hunter and the German
gray the hunted. The marines fought even more fiercely than in their
first attack. They wanted to finish the job this time; and the job was
to be finished soon.

The enemy, smarting under the American success, began bringing up
reserves and concentrated a terrific artillery fire on the ground close
to Chateau Thierry and the village itself. Chateau Thierry seemed to
have become a point of honor with the Germans no less than with the
Americans. They saturated it with a bombardment of yperite gas, which
clings to the earth and the trees, and burns flesh that comes in contact
with it.

As the Germans could hardly send their own men into this area to suffer
the effects intended for the marines, the battle momentarily died down.

But it was to be resumed shortly with redoubled fury.

An hour later the Germans, with their reserves, made an attack in force.
By all criterions this attack should have succeeded. Some Germans
penetrated to within a short distance of the American lines and a good
many of them remained there--dead.

American machine-gun fire and rifle fire drove all who escaped back
toward the enemy's lines. At the same time, under cover of their
artillery, the Germans had reinforced their machine-gun units, which
remained in the edge of the woods, probably thinking that as soon as the
effects of the yperite were over, recovery of the woods would not be

But the German staff was doomed to disappointment.

For perhaps half an hour the battle died down again. The Germans took
advantage of this lull to reform their lines just beyond Chateau Thierry
and to prepare to repel an attack.

From this moment the German staff seems to have lost all desire of an
offensive movement. They must have realized that the possibility of a
further advance had gone a-glimmering with the defeat of the Prussian
Guard in Belleau Woods. No longer would the Germans be the aggressors;
it would be the Yankees, and their Allies, from this time on that would
push the fighting.

The marines were now at full strength--two solid divisions, except for
the losses in the early fighting--and these had been heavy. Not in the
history of man had there been such a desperate charge as the marines had
made there in Belleau Woods, and it was to be equalled only by the
charge that was to drive the enemy from Chateau Thierry.

Officers hastily looked over the decimated troops during the brief
pause, as they awaited word to advance. Though their losses had been
enormous, and though it seemed impossible to advance further through the
hail of shells, bullets and shrapnel that poured upon them, the marines
were not daunted. Their spirit was as superb as when they had first
advanced confidently to the attack. Their morale was unbroken.

To the German staff, and to the German veterans themselves, it must have
been a thing of wonder the way the American marines stood to their
tasks. True, they were outnumbered by the enemy, but there wasn't a man
there who stopped to think of that.

Reinforcements were on their way from the rear.

American regulars, and the French troops, broken by the first shock of
the German advance, had had time to regain their lost cohesion and
reform. But it was not General Bundy's plan to await these
reinforcements; he had the enemy on the run now and he was not disposed
to surrender his advantage.

So, after a brief pause, he ordered the attack.

Wild cheers broke from the marines as they darted upon the enemy machine
gunners and artillerymen who still clung to the edge of the woods. There
was a sharp skirmish, and the Germans abandoned their guns and fled
toward where other lines had been fortified just before Chateau Thierry.

The marines dashed forward on the very heels of the enemy.

Into the streets of the little village poured the Americans pell-mell.
Here, under the command of their officers, the Germans braced and their
resistance became stiffer.

But the men from Yankeeland were not to be denied. Absolutely
disregarding the enemy machine-gun fire, that cut great gaps in their
lines, they leaped forward with lowered bayonets. Steel clashed on steel
as the fighting became hand-to-hand.

Here and there marines, crazed with battle, cast away their rifles and
bayonets and dashed upon the enemy barehanded. Down went Germans before
heavy blows from American fists. Groups of Germans gathered here and
there and attempted to check the Americans. As well have tried to shut
out a tornado.

The Prussian Guards, once the pride of the German army, became
demoralized. Some threw down their weapons and raised their hands in
token of surrender. Others turned and ran. These latter the marines
pursued, making captives of some and accounting for others with their
rifles and bayonets.

Fiercer and fiercer the fighting raged in the streets of the little
village. From one end of the streets, the enemy covered the marines with
machine guns and fired rapidly as the Americans came toward them.

But this fire had no more effect than if the Germans had been spraying
the marines with water. Those who survived the terrible fire leaped over
the bodies of their prostrate comrades and at the throats of the Huns.

It was more than flesh and blood could stand. The Germans turned and
fled in utter rout.

But the work of the marines was not yet over. They pushed on to the edge
of the village. Machine guns were hastily posted and manned and a
destructive fire poured into the ranks of the fleeing enemy.

Soon the Germans reached the shelter of a distant woods, posted their
own big guns and opened upon the exposed Yankee positions.

Instantly General Bundy gave the command to dig in again.

Weapons of warfare were immediately discarded by the marines for
intrenching tools and the dirt began to fly. American artillery,
meantime, hurled high explosive shells over the heads of the marines
into the German positions beyond.

Night fell and the duel of big guns continued as the marines still dug
and clawed at the ground. But before midnight the newly-won positions
had been made secure. Sentinels were posted and the men at last were
permitted to sleep.

Not in the history of all wars has there been a victory to equal that of
the American marines in Belleau Woods and at Chateau Thierry. It was
wonderful. No other word will describe it. And in its effect, the result
was far reaching.

Not only did the American victory enable the hard-pressed French troops,
so recently driven back by the German advance, to reform; not only did
it reduce the effectiveness of the German man-power, but it shattered
the morale of the whole German army. It was the greatest single blow
that had been struck during the war.

No wonder the tired American marines slept the sleep of the just that
night. They had been the instruments that set in motion the great
offensive that was to make the world safe for Democracy.

It was a glorious day for America--the seventeenth of June, 1918!

                              CHAPTER XXIX

                            BOWERS IN ACTION

It was the fate of the American marines to be at the front at a moment
when the destiny of the modern world hung in the balance; and they
played a part that will be gratefully remembered in America, as well as
in western Europe, through generations to come.

During the day of fierce fighting, Hal and Chester had been in the
foremost of the fight. They had hugged down in ravines together and
together they had charged the German machine guns at the head of their

Many officers fell in the early hours of the battle and long before
darkness cast its shadow over the battlefield captains and lieutenants
were occupying the posts of colonels and majors.

Nowhere in the field were there more competent officers than Hal and
Chester had long since proven themselves to be; and the company of
marines whose lot it fell to the lads to lead, soon placed the utmost
confidence in them.

This company, in whose ranks was Sergeant Bowers, had been one of the
first to get into the fight, and although the tired men would have
welcomed a moment's breathing space from time to time, they had no
breathing space.

It was this company which was the first to attack the enemy in Chateau
Thierry itself.

It was after one o'clock in the afternoon when the order came for the
men to leave the comparative shelter of the woods and move to the
attack. The men cheered wildly as the word was passed. They had been
lying down and plugging away at the enemy with their rifles. Now they
welcomed the chance that would bring them to hand grips. It was Chester
who gave the word:

"Forward!" he cried.

Instantly the men were on their feet and streaming from the woods into
the open place beyond. Their advance was greeted with a hail of
machine-gun fire, and high explosive shells burst to the right and to
the left of them, and in their midst. But the men were not dismayed;
they showed only a greater eagerness to get in close.

Chester waved his sword aloft as he urged his troops to greater efforts.
Hal, close beside his chum, also brandished his sword and flourished a
revolver in his left hand.

In this manner, in spite of the havoc wreaked in their lines by the
enemy fire, the marines charged upon the German lines before Chateau

The opposing lines met with a shock. Men stumbled forward; others reeled
back and dropped to the ground to rise no more. It was a terrible
spectacle, and Hal and Chester were right in the middle of it.

At this sort of fighting the Germans did not have a chance with the men
from America. Flower of the German army they were, but never before had
they encountered such determination, such recklessness and such an
unquenchable spirit as the marines displayed.

"Give it to 'em, boys!" shouted Hal, as he parried a thrust from a
German officer and fired his revolver in the man's face.

And give it to 'em the marines did!

The men had advanced, cheering; now they became strangely quiet, bending
all their energies toward subduing the foe. Slowly the Germans gave

Into the streets of the village the marines advanced on the very heels
of the enemy. Chester and Hal posted them in little groups at
advantageous points while, they awaited the arrival of reinforcements,
which even now could be seen advancing in the distance.

From a house to the left a machine gun crackled suddenly. Half a dozen
men near Hal tumbled over. Hal acted quickly.

"Sergeant Bowers!" he called sharply. "Take a dozen men and capture that
house! Stay," he added as Bowers hurried away, "I'll go with you."

With a word to Chester, Hal dashed after Sergeant Bowers and the dozen

To reach the house it was necessary to brave the fire of the machine
gun, which covered the approach to the building. But this Hal did not
hesitate to order his men to do, for by no other means, he saw, could
the place be captured, and he realized, too, that it must be captured at
all hazards.

The machine gun spat viciously at the Americans, but they advanced
unflinchingly. Two men fell and two others cursed, by which Hal knew
they had been hit. So there were only ten men besides Hal and Sergeant
Bowers who reached the house, and two of these were wounded.

At the door of the building the Americans were out of range of the
machine gun, which still poured bullets over their heads. The door was
locked. Bowers and a private named Timothy put their shoulders to it and
it flew open with a crash.

"Upstairs, men!" cried Hal.

Bowers reached the steps first and sprang up three at a time. Hal and
the others were close behind him. At the top, Bowers led the way along
the narrow hall toward the room where the German machine gun was posted.
The door to this room also was locked. Again Bowers and Timothy brought
their sturdy shoulders into use and the door gave way beneath their
weight. At the moment of the crash, Hal shouted:

"Down on the floor, men!"

And it was well that he did so.

The German machine gunner within had acted just as Hal had surmised he
would. When he heard the intruders at the door, he turned his gun so
that it commanded the entrance; and when the door fell inward, he opened

But thanks to Hal's prompt action, the Americans escaped unscathed. From
his position on the floor, Hal raised his revolver, took careful aim and
fired. The German gunner inside the room threw up his hands, staggered
to his feet, spun around twice on his heel and rolled over like a log.

"All right, men," said Hal calmly. "Grab that gun."

So the gun was in the possession of the Americans, and it had been
captured with the loss of only two men.

Hal approached the window and looked out. He saw Chester and his men
forming to repel an attack that the enemy was about to launch. The
reinforcements had not arrived yet and Chester's company faced the
alternative of standing firm in the face of superior numbers or
retiring. Hal saw that Chester had determined to fight it out.

"Foolish, perhaps," he told himself, "but I don't blame him. Well, maybe
I can help a bit. Bowers!" The sergeant saluted. "Train the gun on the
enemy advancing there," Hal continued. "They make a good target. We
should be able to break up the attack with this single gun."

Bowers needed no urging. With his own hands he whirled the gun about so
it again pointed through the window. Then, without waiting for further
orders, he opened fire.

The steady stream of machine-gun bullets opened a wide gap in the ranks
of the oncoming enemy. As quickly as these gaps were filled by reserve
troops, the gun manned by Bowers mowed them down again. There was a
slight smile on Bowers' face.

"You will make us come three thousand miles to settle this argument,
will you?" he muttered. "Well, you'll get more than you bargained for,
Fritz; much more!"

Under the hail of bullets from the single machine gun and the rifle fire
from Chester's troops below, the German line wavered along its entire
length. Then the Germans broke and fled.

At the same moment, the first of the marine reinforcements poured into
the streets of the village.

But Chateau Thierry had not yet been entirely cleared of the enemy. From
the windows of many houses German snipers, singly and in groups, picked
off the Americans from these shelters. Hal, glancing from the window,
was able to see better than was Chester below the points where lay the
greatest danger to the marines.

"Bowers!" he called.

The sergeant stepped forward.

"See that house across the street?" asked Hal, pointing.

"Yes sir!"

"Good! You take five men and clean up the Germans there. I'll take the
other five and drive out the enemy stationed in the house next to it."

"Very good, sir."

Bowers turned and called five marines by name. The men gathered around
him and the sergeant led the way from the house. Hal, with his five
marines, sallied forth after the others.

On the street, the force divided, Sergeant Bowers and his men dashed up
the steps of the first house, burst open the door and disappeared
within. Hal led his men next door.

As it developed, Hal had picked out the most difficult task for Sergeant
Bowers and his men. As the door burst in under the blows of the marines,
Sergeant Bowers, in advance, saw that the lower hall was filled with

But it was too late to draw back now. Besides, the lives of many
Americans outside lay in the hands of these foes should the little party
of Americans fail to conquer them.

"Down, men!" cried the sergeant, and the first volley from the Germans
passed harmlessly over their heads.

"Fire!" shouted Sergeant Bowers, and from their positions flat on the
floor the five marines swung their rifles into position and blazed away.

The Germans received the bullets standing. Apparently they had no leader
of such quick decision as Sergeant Bowers.

"Up and at them!" shouted the sergeant.

With a cheer the little handful of marines obeyed orders.

Another volley the Germans fired, but their nerves appeared to have been
shattered and the bullets went wild with one exception. A ball pierced
Sergeant Bowers' left shoulder.

With a yell of anger, Sergeant Bowers hurled his empty revolver into the
very faces of the enemy and dashed forward with his naked hands, his big
fingers twisting spasmodically.

"Shoot me, will you?" he howled. "Shoot me, will you? Take that!"

He struck out with his great right fist and one German soldier crumpled
up and slid gently to the floor.

"Shoot me, will you?" yelled the sergeant again.

                              CHAPTER XXX


Appalled by the fury in the face of Sergeant Bowers, the Germans
retreated along the wall, two to one as they were.

"Nail 'em, Timothy!" shouted Bowers to the marine who was nearest him.

Timothy grinned and pulled the trigger of his rifle again. The other
marines also poured a volley into the compact ranks of the foe. Three
Germans dropped.

"Good boy!" yelled Bowers. "At 'em again!"

With wild cries, the Germans broke and fled for the steps at the end of
the hall. Up these they climbed pell-mell.

"After 'em, men!" shouted Bowers. "I'll lick the man who lets one of 'em
get away!"

Up the steps after the Germans piled the marines.

At the top of the stairs, the Germans turned and poured a volley into
the marines. One man staggered, but recovered himself and went forward
again. At the end of the hall was a small ladder which led to the roof
of the building. Fear lent wings to the Germans, who shot up the ladder
with swiftness and dispatch. There was a loud bang as the trap door
above was dropped into place even as Bowers' head would have passed
through the opening. The result was that Bowers bumped his head against
the door.

"Drat 'em!" exclaimed the sergeant. "They've got clear. Well, we've got
to get 'em; that's all there is about that. Timothy, you and the others
hop out of here and head 'em off if they try to get down through the
house to the left. I'll stay here in case they come back this way."

"But----" began Timothy.

"You heard me, didn't you?" demanded Bowers angrily. "Who's the sergeant
here, I want to know, huh?"

"All right. It's your funeral," said Timothy with a shrug. "Come on,

He led the way from the house.

Meanwhile, Hal and his men, who had entered the house to the right of
that in which Sergeant Bowers now stood guard alone, had encountered
stiff opposition within. They found the Germans outnumbered them
greatly, but Hal was not disposed to give up.

The Germans, of course, were not able to make sure of the number of the
Americans and for this reason they retreated upstairs when the front
door was knocked in. They fired at the first head to show itself in the
opening, but not a bullet struck home.

From the second floor, these Germans also climbed to the roof and closed
the trap-door, thus balking Hal and his men of their prey.

"They went up," said Hal. "They'll have to come down some time."

"They may pass on to the next house and go down that way, sir," one of
the men suggested.

"They'll find Sergeant Bowers there," replied Chester significantly.

"They may go the other way, sir."

"They can't," said Hal. "I noticed as we came in that there are only
three houses whose roofs are close enough to be jumped. The only danger
of our losing them is that they will pass the next house and descend in
the one at the end. You men get out of here quick and guard the end

"You mean to stay here alone, sir?"

"Exactly," said Hal. "Now hurry."

"Guess I'll try it," he said at last.

The men waited no longer.

For some moments Hal stood quietly at the foot of the ladder debating
whether he should await the return of the Germans there or whether he
should risk a shot and open the trap door.

He mounted the ladder rapidly and cautiously pushed up the trap-door. A
strange sight met his eyes.

A dozen figures sprang from the farthest building to the one next to the
lad. Behind them came three or four American marines. Hal realized at
once that Sergeant Bowers had taken the same precautions he had to
prevent the escape of the enemy and had sent his men, or some of them,
into the far house.

The foremost German caught sight of Hal's head and with a cry stopped
short on the roof of the middle building.

"Down this way!" he cried, and lifted the trap-door of the building on
which he stood.

He leaped down. Others piled after him.

"Going to be quite a scrap there," muttered Hal. "Guess I'd better take
a hand."

With no thought of the risk he was running, he sprang to the roof and
dashed toward the enemy. From the last of the three houses, the marines
also advanced on the run.

At the foot of the ladder where he had stationed himself, Sergeant
Bowers was not caught unprepared when the trap-door was flung suddenly
open and the first German leaped down.

"Thought you'd be back," he muttered.

His fist shot out as the German reached the floor and the man dropped in
his tracks.

"One!" said the sergeant with a half smile. "Next!"

But the Germans came down the ladder so swiftly now that Sergeant Bowers
was smothered beneath them. In vain he struck out right and left. Two
men went down under his sledge-hammer blows, but the enemy arrived
faster than Bowers could dispose of them.

Directly the sergeant found himself at bay, fully a dozen Germans
circling about him with ugly gleams in their eyes.

It seemed that the foes had run short of ammunition; otherwise Bowers
must surely have perished where he stood before help could reach him.
But no shot was fired. Nevertheless, the Germans were armed with knives
and daggers, while Bowers had no weapons save his two great fists.

It was apparent, however, that the cowardly foes had a wholesome respect
for these fists. Each appeared afraid to close in--each waited for the
next man to strike the first blow. Sergeant Bowers stood with his back
to the wall and taunted them.

"Come on, you cowards!" he called. "Come in here and meet an American

The Germans muttered angrily, but no man seemed anxious to be the first
to attack.

Still, it was plain to Sergeant Bowers that they must attack soon or be
caught like rats in a trap. The position where the sergeant stood at bay
had a certain advantage; for the Germans to reach the steps leading to
the floor below it would be necessary to pass within a few feet of him.
And Sergeant Bowers had decided with himself that he would never allow
the Germans to pass there while he remained alive.

The Germans now began to realize the need of haste; and this haste
became greater as a marine came sliding down the ladder from the roof.
With bellows of fury they sprang upon Sergeant Bowers and the new

The sergeant and the private fought as best they could. They struck out
right and left with all their strength.

But gradually they felt themselves being pushed back. Bowers felt a
slight pain in his left forearm as a knife found its mark. A moment
later a shining blade grazed his forehead. With an angry bellow, the
sergeant sprang into the very midst of his foes.

It was at this moment that Hal reached the opening in the roof and came
scrambling down to the aid of the hard-pressed Americans below. From the
roof of the adjoining building, the other marines now streamed to join
the fight.

Realizing that the game was up in this direction, the Germans turned to
flee. Bowers and the first marine to come to his assistance had been
forced to give ground enough to permit the enemy the access of the
stairs leading to the ground floor.

Down these the Germans dashed madly, each man upbraiding the other for
blocking his progress. At the bottom of the stairs, they hurried toward
the broken front door.

Even as the first man would have stepped out, a figure in khaki appeared
in the doorway, a revolver in his hand.

It was Chester, who, now that the enemy had been driven from Chateau
Thierry, had come to make sure of the safety of Hal and his companions.

"Hah!" cried the foremost German, and stopped dead in his tracks.

"Hands up!" cried Chester in German.

Instead of obeying this command, however, the Germans inside turned
quickly and dashed into a room on the first floor. Quickly they locked
and barred the door before either Chester or the Americans descending
from above could halt them.

Chester stopped before this door. His eyes searched the steps at the end
of the hall down which the marines, headed by Bowers, now ran.

"Hal!" he cried.

"All right," came his chum's voice from above. "I'm here, but don't you
let those fellows get away."

"Not a chance," laughed Chester as Hal, Bowers and the others came up to
him. "They're in this room here, and I guess they'll stay there until
they get ready to surrender."

"But the windows?" suggested Sergeant Bowers.

"Guarded," replied Chester briefly. "By Jove, sergeant! You look like
you had been in a fight."

"So I have, sir," declared the sergeant grimly, "but if you'll bother to
go to the top of yonder steps you'll find half a dozen men who look a
whole lot worse than I do."

"I've no doubt of it, sergeant," laughed Chester. "But you'd better have
those wounds dressed."

"Not until we've rounded up the gang in there, sir," said Sergeant
Bowers, pointing.

"Well, that should be simple enough," declared Hal. "Break in the door,

Three marines laid their shoulders to the door and heaved lustily. There
was the sound of splintering wood, and the door flew open. The marines
dropped hastily to the floor, anticipating a volley of rifle bullets,
but no such volley came.

Instead, Hal and Chester, looking into the room, beheld an amusing

Facing the door, their hands high above their heads, their faces bearing
every appearance of the utmost terror, were twelve Germans, the sole
survivors of the enemy force that had defended the two houses now in the
possession of the marines.

Their faces blanched as Hal, Chester and Sergeant Bowers took a step

"Kamerad!" they cried. "Kamerad! Kamerad!"

It was the work of only a few minutes to make prisoners of these men,
after which, under guard, they were marched out and turned over to the
proper authorities.

The fighting in Chateau Thierry had ceased. The duel of big guns still
raged, but the American mastery of Chateau Thierry and the whole of
Belleau Woods no longer could be disputed.

It was 10 o'clock that night when Hal and Chester found themselves alone
in their temporary quarters in Chateau Thierry.

"Well, we went through 'em, old boy," said Hal quietly.

"Of course," said Chester. "And from this time we'll go through 'em
almost at will. And it was the Prussian Guard we licked. Think of that!
The pride of the German emperor--the best troops he boasted."

"Mark my words," said Hal, "while the fighting is by no means over, this
is the beginning of the end. We've met the best the enemy had to offer
and it wasn't good enough. They've lost thousands upon thousands. Their
morale is shattered at last. Oh, they'll probably fight on and on, but
from this time forward there can be no doubt of the ultimate result."

"Right." Chester agreed. "As our friend Bowers would say, 'They're

And, as it developed, the lads were right. It was at Chateau Thierry
that American marines struck the blow that broke the backbone of German
resistance. However, there was to be more severe fighting and in it both
Hal and Chester were to play their parts. Their later adventures will be
found in a succeeding volume, entitled, "THE BOY ALLIES WITH THE GREAT

                                THE END


                          _SAVE THE WRAPPER!_

        If you have enjoyed reading about the adventures of the
        new friends you have made in this book and would like to
        read more clean, wholesome stories of their entertaining
        experiences, turn to the book jacket--on the inside of
        it, a comprehensive list of Burt's fine series of
        carefully selected books for young people has been
        placed for your convenience.

        _Orders for these books, placed with your bookstore or
        sent to the Publishers, will receive prompt attention._


                             The Boy Allies
            (Registered in the United States Patent Office)
                             With the Army

                           BY CLAIR W. HAYES

                        For Boys 12 to 16 Years.

                  All Cloth Bound    Copyright Titles

In this series we follow the fortunes of two American lads unable to
leave Europe after war is declared. They meet the soldiers of the
Allies, and decide to cast their lot with them. Their experiences and
escapes are many, and furnish plenty of good, healthy action that every
boy loves.

    THE BOY ALLIES AT LIEGE; or, Through Lines of Steel.

    THE BOY ALLIES ON THE FIRING LINE; or, Twelve Days Battle Along
      the Marne.

    THE BOY ALLIES WITH THE COSSACKS; or, A Wild Dash Over the

    THE BOY ALLIES IN THE TRENCHES; or, Midst Shot and Shell Along
      the Aisne.

    THE BOY ALLIES IN GREAT PERIL; or, With the Italian Army in the

      a Nation.

    THE BOY ALLIES ON THE SOMME; or, Courage and Bravery Rewarded.

    THE BOY ALLIES AT VERDUN; or, Saving France from the Enemy.

      American Troops to the Firing Line.

      Canadians of Vimy Ridge.

      Chateau Thierry.

      Through France and Belgium.

    THE BOY ALLIES WITH MARSHAL FOCH; or, The Closing Days of the
      Great World War.

             For sale by all booksellers, or sent postpaid
                 on receipt of price by the Publishers

                           A. L. BURT COMPANY
                        114-120 EAST 23rd STREET
                                NEW YORK


                             The Boy Allies
            (Registered in the United States Patent Office)
                             With the Navy

                       BY ENSIGN ROBERT L. DRAKE

                        For Boys 12 to 16 Years.

                  All Cloth Bound    Copyright Titles

                          Price, 50 CENTS EACH
                           Postage 10c extra

Frank Chadwick and Jack Templeton, young American lads, meet each other
in an unusual way soon after the declaration of war. Circumstances place
them on board the British cruiser, "The Sylph," and from there on, they
share adventures with the sailors of the Allies. Ensign Robert L. Drake,
the author, is an experienced naval officer, and he describes admirably
the many exciting adventures of the two boys.

    THE BOY ALLIES ON THE NORTH SEA PATROL; or, Striking the First
      Blow at the German Fleet.

    THE BOY ALLIES UNDER TWO FLAGS; or, Sweeping the Enemy from the

      of the Great War.

      Submarine D-16.

    THE BOY ALLIES UNDER THE SEA; or, The Vanishing Submarine.

    THE BOY ALLIES IN THE BALTIC; or, Through Fields of Ice to Aid
      the Czar.

    THE BOY ALLIES AT JUTLAND; or, The Greatest Naval Battle of

      American Army Across the Atlantic.

    THE BOY ALLIES WITH THE SUBMARINE D-32; or, The Fall of the
      Russian Empire.

      German Navy.

             For sale by all booksellers, or sent postpaid
                 on receipt of price by the Publishers

                           A. L. BURT COMPANY
                        114-120 EAST 23rd STREET
                                NEW YORK


                            BOY SCOUT SERIES

                        By LIEUT. HOWARD PAYSON

A lively, interesting series of stories of travel, life in camp,
hunting, hiking, sports and adventure. No boy should miss these tales of
self-reliance, resourcefulness and courage, in which every enjoyment
known to scout activity is accurately depicted.

                      Attractively Bound in Cloth.


  A speed boat race and an old sea captain give the Eagle Patrol a busy


  Rob Blake and his friends among the cowboys and Indians in Arizona.


  The Hampton Academy boys discover a plot to steal Government airplane


  The Boy Scouts find a band of "Moonshiners," a lost cave and a hidden


  The trial trip of a new submarine, a strange derelict and a treasure


  Hunting and exploring in the tangled forests of Panama.


  Searching for General Villa in War-torn Mexico.


  Between the lines in Belgium during the World War.


  Raiding Uhlans, spies and air-raids in War-wrecked France.


  The adventures of four scouts at the Exposition in San Francisco.


  The Boy Scouts' exciting experiences while searching for stolen
  Government property.


  The Eagle Patrol on duty in a Government munition plant.

             For Sale by All Booksellers, or Sent Postpaid
                 on Receipt of Price by the Publishers

                           A. L. BURT COMPANY

                        114-120 EAST 23d STREET
                                NEW YORK


                         The Golden Boys Series

                         BY L. P. WYMAN, PH.D.
                 Dean of Pennsylvania Military College.

A new series of instructive copyright stories for boys of High School

                        Handsome Cloth Binding.

                          PRICE, 50 CENTS EACH
                           POSTAGE 10c EXTRA


             For Sale by All Booksellers, or Sent Postpaid
                 on Receipt of Price by the Publishers

                           A. L. BURT COMPANY

                        114-120 EAST 23d STREET
                                NEW YORK


                         The Rex Kingdom Series

                           By GORDON BRADDOCK

  A fine series of stories for boys of High School age, written in an
  interesting and instructive style.

  Rex Kingdon, the hero, a real, wide-awake boy, interested in outdoor
  games, enters into the school sports with enthusiasm. A rattling good
  baseball story holds the interest to the very end. Rex and his
  Ridgewood friends establish a campfire in the North woods; there,
  mystery, jealousy and rivalry enter to menace their safety, fire their
  interest and finally cement their friendship.

                    Stories boys will want to read.

                     CLOTHBOUND. JACKETS IN COLORS.

                           Copyright Titles.

                          PRICE, 50 CENTS EACH
                           POSTAGE 10c EXTRA

                     REX KINGDON OF RIDGEWOOD HIGH
                     REX KINGDON IN THE NORTH WOODS
                     REX KINGDON AT WALCOTT HALL
                     REX KINGDON BEHIND THE BAT
                     REX KINGDON ON STORM ISLAND

             For Sale by All Booksellers, or Sent Postpaid
                 on Receipt of Price by the Publishers

                           A. L. BURT COMPANY

                        114-120 EAST 23d STREET
                                NEW YORK


                         The Ranger Boys Series

                         BY CLAUDE H. LA BELLE

           A new series of copyright titles for Boys 12 to 16
           years telling of the adventures of three boys with
               the Forest Rangers in the state of Maine.

                        Handsome Cloth Binding.

                          PRICE, 50 CENTS EACH
                           POSTAGE 10c EXTRA


             For Sale by All Booksellers, or Sent Postpaid
                 on Receipt of Price by the Publishers

                           A. L. BURT COMPANY

                        114-120 EAST 23d STREET
                                NEW YORK


                        The Jack Lorimer Series

                            BY WINN STANDISH

                        For Boys 12 to 16 Years.

                            All Cloth Bound
                            Copyright Titles

                          PRICE, 50 CENTS EACH

                           Postage 10c. Extra

CAPTAIN JACK LORIMER; or, The Young Athlete of Millvale High.

  Jack Lorimer is a fine example of the all-around American high-school
  boys. His fondness for clean, honest sport of all kinds will strike a
  chord of sympathy among athletic youths.

JACK LORIMER'S CHAMPIONS; or, Sports on Land and Lake.

  There is a lively story woven in with the athletic achievements, which
  are all right, since the book has been O. K'd. by Chadwick, the Nestor
  of American Sporting journalism.

JACK LORIMER'S HOLIDAYS; or, Millvale High in Camp.

  It would be well not to put this book into a boy's hands until the
  chores are finished, otherwise they might be neglected.

JACK LORIMER'S SUBSTITUTE; or, The Acting Captain of the Team.

  On the sporting side, this book takes up football, wrestling, and
  tobogganing. There is a good deal of fun in this book and plenty of

JACK LORIMER, FRESHMAN; or, From Millvale High to Exmouth.

  Jack and some friends he makes crowd innumerable happenings into an
  exciting freshman year at one of the leading Eastern colleges. The
  book is typical of the American college boy's life, and there is a
  lively story, interwoven with feats on the gridiron, hockey,
  basketball and other clean honest sports for which Jack Lorimer

             For Sale by All Booksellers, or Sent Postpaid
                 on Receipt of Price by the Publishers

                           A. L. BURT COMPANY

                        114-120 EAST 23d STREET
                                NEW YORK

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