Home
  By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon


We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: The Brighton Boys at Chateau-Thierry
Author: Driscoll, James R.
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
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.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Brighton Boys at Chateau-Thierry" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



courtesy of the Digital Library@Villanova University
(http://digital.library.villanova.edu/))



  TRANSCRIBER’S NOTE

  Italic text is denoted by _underscores_.

  Obvious typographical errors and punctuation errors have been
  corrected after careful comparison with other occurrences within
  the text and consultation of external sources.

  More detail can be found at the end of the book.



  THE BRIGHTON BOYS SERIES

  BY

  LIEUTENANT JAMES R. DRISCOLL


  THE BRIGHTON BOYS
          WITH THE FLYING CORPS


  THE BRIGHTON BOYS
          IN THE TRENCHES


  THE BRIGHTON BOYS
          WITH THE BATTLE FLEET


  THE BRIGHTON BOYS
          IN THE RADIO SERVICE


  THE BRIGHTON BOYS
          WITH THE SUBMARINE


  THE BRIGHTON BOYS
          WITH THE ENGINEERS AT CANTIGNY


  THE BRIGHTON BOYS
          AT CHATEAU-THIERRY


  THE BRIGHTON BOYS
          AT ST. MIHIEL


  THE BRIGHTON BOYS
          IN THE ARGONNE


  THE BRIGHTON BOYS
          IN TRANSATLANTIC FLIGHT


  THE BRIGHTON BOYS
          IN THE SUBMARINE TREASURE SHIP



[Illustration: IT WAS A RACE FOR A FEW SECONDS]



  The BRIGHTON BOYS at
  CHATEAU-THIERRY

  BY
  LIEUTENANT JAMES R. DRISCOLL


  ILLUSTRATED


  THE JOHN C. WINSTON COMPANY
  PHILADELPHIA



  Copyright, 1919, by
  THE JOHN C. WINSTON CO.



CONTENTS


  CHAPTER                         PAGE

  I.      OVERHEARD                  9

  II.     TRACED                    15

  III.    “BANG”                    22

  IV.     CAPTURED                  29

  V.      REWARDED                  40

  VI.     DISSENSION                49

  VII.    GETTING IN                58

  VIII.   IN IT                     66

  IX.     REPRISALS                 76

  X.      ZEALOUS BILLY             86

  XI.     “GONE WEST”               98

  XII.    TIM                      110

  XIII.   WASH                     125

  XIV.    SHIFTED                  138

  XV.     ON THE WAY               150

  XVI.    YANKS                    162

  XVII.   VICTORY                  175

  XVIII.  BUSHWHACKING             189

  XIX.    BOURESCHES               204

  XX.     FRIENDS                  221

  XXI.    DISTINGUISHED            229



ILLUSTRATIONS


  IT WAS A RACE FOR A FEW SECONDS           _Frontispiece_

                                                      PAGE

  THE AMBULANCE WAS STOPPED AS THOUGH IT
  HAD BUTTED INTO A STONE WALL                          74

  DON CAUGHT HIM BY THE SHOULDER AND
  WHIRLED HIM AROUND                                   152

  THEY WENT RIGHT TO WORK DISLODGING THE
  HUNS FROM THE HOUSES                                 213



The Brighton Boys at Château-Thierry



CHAPTER I

OVERHEARD


“You’re just plain scared, I guess.”

“You’re just plain wrong. Anyway, people in glass shanties shouldn’t
throw rocks. I don’t see you trying to play soldier.” The last
speaker, a tall lad who sat nearest the window in the rear seat of
a crowded railroad car seemed exasperated by the uncomplimentary
suggestion of the boy beside him, a short, heavy-set, curly-headed
fellow, who looked even more youthful than his sixteen years. His
handsome face lighted up with a smile when he spoke; evidently there
was but little enmity back of his teasing.

“If I were a telegraph pole and had your gray hairs, Stapley, you can
bet your number nines I’d be in camp. But they won’t take kids.”

“That’s right, Richards; they won’t, unless a fellow’s dad signs his
consent. My dad won’t do it. So kindly apologize, will you? My gray
hairs deserve it; I’m a year older than you are, you know. Go on; I’m
listening.”

“Come off! Anybody can coax his governor not to sign. Honest, now;
don’t you like the idea of getting a bullet--?”

“Now cut that out. You think you’re some kidder, but it takes an
expert to kid me. Of course I know you’re sore over the lambasting we
gave your team at basket ball. All Brighton is laughing about it yet.”

“Never get cross over accidents. Couldn’t help it if Terry wasn’t
fit. How about the game before that and the score? Eh?” Richards’
smile broadened.

“Well, was I sore?” Stapley challenged.

“Like a hen after a bath. You couldn’t see anything but red. The same
at the class relay runs and--”

“I’d hate to say that you and the truth are total strangers,” Stapley
said, quickly.

“Oh, let her go. I consider the source, as the man said when the
donkey kicked him, ‘The critter didn’t know any bet--.’ Now, what’s
the matter?”

The boy by the window had suddenly made a sudden downward motion with
one hand and held a finger of the other to his lips, looking most
mysterious. He had previously chanced to lean far forward, a position
which he now maintained for a moment; then he flopped down against
the seat back, quickly taking a pencil and a scrap of paper from
his pocket and beginning to write. In another minute Richards was
scanning what had been written:

    “You know German. So do I--a little, but Dad made me take
    Spanish this term. I just caught a word or two from those dubs
    ahead that sounded funny. You cock your ear over the back of
    the seat and listen some. If you let on you’re mad as blazes at
    me and now and then give me a bawling out, I’ll play dumb and
    then when you wait for me to reply maybe you can hear a thing
    or two they’re saying. We’ve got to bury the hatchet now, for
    we are both Americans, first.”

The younger lad at once did as requested, glancing at the two men
in the seat ahead, who were in earnest conversation, one, evidently
under some excitement, talking quite loudly. He seemed not to think
his voice carried so far above the rumble of a railroad train, or
else they both considered as naught the chance that anyone might
understand the language they were speaking. That the two were
foreigners there could be no doubt; the full whiskered face of one,
and the bent, thin lips of the other denoted, beyond power of words,
the egotistical, would-be-dominating Prussian blood. It was an
argument over ways and means that caused the bearded fellow to become
so vehement.

The lad, understanding conversational German fairly well because of
his persistent practice at school and the influence of a nurse he
had when small, caught at first but a few words from the whiskered
foreigner; then, when the smooth-faced man began speaking at length
in a voice that could not be plainly heard the boy quickly carried
out the suggestion of his companion.

Donald Richards took real enjoyment in doing this, and to Clement
Stapley it was an ordeal to accept it without showing more than a
grimace of protest. The two lads had long been far from friendly.
They hailed from the same town, Lofton, perched well up in the
foothills of the Red Deer Mountains, and they had ever been rivals,
since early boyhood, in games, contests of skill, popularity among
their fellows. Clement was the only child of the great man of the
town, the senior Stapley being president of mills that made the place
a spot of some importance on the map. Donald was one of five sons
of the leading physician in the town and, having to paddle his own
canoe against a more active competition, he had naturally become more
self-reliant and shrewd than the half-spoiled son of the rich man.

When the two entered Brighton they were not admitted to the same
classes, for Don had advanced beyond Clem in learning, even though
younger, but they engaged in contests of skill and strength, and both
become partial leaders of _cliques_ such as naturally form within
classes, and possessed the _esprit de corps_ that is always uppermost
among youths. Clem, tall and manly, with a dignity of manner and
the prestige of his father’s wealth and standing back of him, drew
a certain crowd of followers in the institution, while Don, active
in both brain and muscle far beyond his years and possessing a born
air of leadership, had admirers everywhere. Naturally, as with the
analytical minds of youths being trained to compare and classify,
the relative merits of the two boys were weighed and counted in such
a manner as to wave still harder the red flag of bitter competition
until never a kind word passed between them, but always _repartee_,
often with rancor, once or twice in such anger that they almost came
to blows.

Now, in the Christmas holidays of 1917-18, the students of old
Brighton, one and all, were departing for their homes. Chancing to go
a little late, Don and Clem found themselves in the same train with
but one unoccupied seat and at once the old-time banter began, with a
question from Don relative to a subject uppermost in the minds of the
youth of the United States: Was Clem going to enlist, and if not, why
not? If the interruption occasioned by the two men in front of the
boys had not occurred, there might have been another serious quarrel.



CHAPTER II

TRACED


Don’s face was a study as he suddenly left off berating his companion
and listened quite breathlessly to the rising inflections of the
bearded man making answer to his hatchet-faced companion. The boy was
hearing something interesting; that Clem knew, and he waited with
some impatience to find out what it might be. After awhile the two
men in front began to exchange words much too rapidly for Don to get
a clear idea what they were driving at. Presently one of them turned
suddenly and gave the lad a searching, suspicious glance; then with
another word in a low tone the two stopped talking. Don maintained
his position of leaning forward, his face at the back of the seat
ahead for a few minutes, at the same time unmercifully badgering
Clem until the men both turned to see what it was all about and to
put them at ease Don laughed and made a motion with his head toward
his companion, as much as to say he would welcome an audience. This
must have reassured the men a little, though the hatchet-faced fellow
turned quickly and fired a German sentence at the boy. Don was not to
be caught by such a trick; he looked blank and shook his head.

“You’ll have to say that in United States, mister,” he laughed. The
German turned away, and the two began talking again in so low a tone
that the words were inaudible, especially as at that moment the
train started to glide over newly ballasted tracks and the rumble
was increased. So the two left their seat and walked back in the car
where they got their heads together.

“Sounds like funny stuff,” Don said hurriedly. “They’re up to
something queer. ‘Whiskers’ said there’d be enough to blow things to
pieces; that’s all I made out. They seemed to mean some building, but
I couldn’t quite catch what.”

“Great snakes! They’re a couple of dynamiters!” Clem declared.

“Don’t know, but it looks like it. I have a hunch they’re going to
destroy something or other.”

“Where?”

“I couldn’t make out. Don’t think they said where. That was
understood.”

“When?”

“Couldn’t tell that, either.”

“What else did you get?”

“Not much; nothing. But that’s about enough; isn’t it?”

“Well, maybe. You know we ought to follow ’em, and see where they get
off, and put somebody on to them. It’s a duty. Likely they’ll change
cars at Upgrove for the city.”

“Well, even at that we could get back before very late,” Don said.

“We don’t both have to go. One’s enough. We can draw for it can’t we?”

“Sure. But we’ve got to hurry. Lofton’s next; about six minutes.
Here, let’s toss up. What’s yours?”

“Heads. Hold on! The ginks are fixing to get off at Lofton, as sure
as you’re----”

The sentence was not finished. The full-bearded German got up to
reach for a bundle in the rack above, and the other man lifted a big
satchel from the floor. The men got into the aisle and started for
the forward end. Not until they were out on the platform and the
train almost at a standstill did the boys slip back and into their
overcoats, grab their suit cases and make for the rear end, being
careful to drop off on the side away from the station platform and
then to dodge quickly around a freight car that stood on the siding,
peeping beneath it toward the glimmering lights, for now it had begun
to grow dark. It chanced that only these four male passengers and one
woman got off at Lofton and there was no one waiting for the train,
except the station master; therefore, it became an easy matter to
note the movements of the two men.

“They’re going out along the track, in a hurry too,” Clem said.

“Going to cross--yes, there they go,” was Don’s observation.

“Out the Galaville road. Come on; let’s see where--”

“I’m going to chuck this suit case in the station.”

“Here, too. Danny Morgan’s got to wait for the up train.”

“Turn up your collar and pull down your lid, Clem, so’s to show no
white.”

“And get a move on, Don; those fellows are in a big hurry.”

A mutual object quickly brought these lads to a friendly, even
familiar understanding, proved by the use of their first names and
their quick agreement in action. Both noticed it, but they were
either too proud or too much engrossed to refer to it openly. Ahead
of them lay an apparently necessary purpose and they followed it
with the quick determination that belongs to the well balanced,
bright-minded school boy. It could be said of old Brighton that
it put self-reliant energy and pep into its pupils; no youngsters
anywhere could be prouder of the zeal to do and the encouragement
therefor, which spoke volumes for the accomplishments of that student
body, and in athletics, as well as for the many graduates who had
attained high standing in various fields of endeavor. In nothing
was this better shown than by the lads who entered the war and won
distinction.

It was no light task to follow those hurrying, distant figures on a
darkening winter night, along what soon became a winding, lonely,
tree or thicket-lined by-way. The town ended at the station and only
one house faced the Galaville road beyond for more than half a mile.

The dim figures could barely be seen far ahead and not wishing to be
observed, the boys kept as near as possible to the edge of the road,
along a fence or an overhanging clay bank on one side. They soon
gained on the men; then, fearing discovery, they fell back. But even
at this they knew that presently they must be seen; it was natural
that these men should look behind them and when crossing a knoll the
lads could not avoid showing against the sky. Then the road began to
descend, and the pursued stopped and stood a moment.

“Keep right on slowly,” Don’s quicker wits advised. “They’ll smell
a mouse if we stop, too. Come on; they won’t know we don’t live out
this way.”

Again the men, possibly somewhat reassured and yet not wanting to be
overtaken, hurried on and were soon out of sight around a bend.

“Wonder if they’ll sneak into the bushes to see who we are,” Clem
queried.

“No; they’ll only hurry more so as to turn off at a road or path,”
Don argued and he proved to be right. From the bend the two figures
could barely be discerned. To hurry after them would excite
suspicion, but now fair chance come to the boys’ aid. Just beyond,
and evidently unknown to the German-speaking pair, a path led across
a meadow that short cut another sharp bend in the road and this
enabled Clem and Don to gain so much on the men that before the
latter had reached the farm house beyond, the lads were close behind
them, between a double line of willow trees and thus unseen.

But here the adventure was to end for the time. The boys,
instinctively aware that the men believed they were beyond
observation, now were eager to see which road of a fork beyond would
be followed and they were not greatly surprised when the travelers
turned in at the gate of the farm house and knocked at the door. A
light appeared at the entrance, a large figure loomed in the doorway,
a few words were exchanged in voluble German; then the door closed.

“They’re friends of Shultz, by jimminy!” Clem exploded.

“They are, you bet! That big fat slob of a saloon keeper was in the
door,” Don added.

“Let’s go home. We can look into this further, but later,” Clem
advised and the boys almost reluctantly retraced their steps.



CHAPTER III

BANG


Christmas festivities at Lofton, like those in nearly every live
town in the United States, were such as to engross the attention of
the youthful population, especially the rehearsing for Christmas Eve
carols. The plans for home enjoyments, the doing up of packages,
procuring and trimming of trees and many other happy duties kept both
boys about their widely separated homes very busy.

Clem Stapley lived in the mansion on a hill overlooking the town and
the mills. Don Richards dwelt in a big house on the main street. In
the days following--the Sunday and Monday preceding Christmas--the
lads saw each other but once, and then only to exchange a few words.
These had been in effect that if the suspected strangers were up to
any mischief here they would probably defer it until after Christmas,
and now spend the time having a beer-fest with fat old Shultz. Clem
thought more probably that the men had gone away again, or would
soon go, but Don believed otherwise; he had been reading of German
propaganda and plots against munition factories and ships, and with
a mind keen for gathering facts and making deductions, he felt,
half instinctively, that there must be an evil purpose in these men
stopping in this town where the large factory was turning out war
materials for the Government. It was almost with a conscientious
protest that he turned now to the immediate business of Christmas
gaieties.

And the jolliest day of the year came on with its usual zest and
pleasure, and went quickly by. Late in the afternoon Don and a
younger brother, to try new skates, went out to the pond not far from
the Galaville road and as they were returning, just at dusk, they
observed three men standing on a high knoll just above the road and
looking off toward the town, one pointing, with out-stretched arm,
from time to time. The figures could be clearly seen against the
sky: one, a short fellow, apparently with whiskers, one a slender,
tall chap and the other big, paunchy, heavy-set. It did not require
much imagination to identify them as Shultz and his two guests--the
Germans of the train.

The boys were evidently not seen. Don commanded his brother to follow
him and kept on the far side of a row of cedar trees until they were
out of sight of the hill. He found himself much disturbed by the
circumstance, trivial as it seemed; and yet, was it trivial? It was
possible that these men were merely out for exercise, or a bit of
novelty; they may have been simply noting the interesting features of
the town, or even contemplating the purchase of farm land near that
of Shultz.

That night Don went to bed with the subject still uppermost in his
mind to the extent that it was becoming rather tiresome because
barren of results; and beyond any chance of solution. More to relieve
his mind than anything else he managed to get Clement Stapley on the
telephone quite late and told him of seeing the men, half expecting
his partner in the mystery to characterize him as a boob for
considering such a thing of sufficient importance to bother him. To
his surprise Clem appeared tremendously interested and insisted on
their getting together the next morning. Don agreed, hung up and went
to bed. He usually slept like a log, the result of good health and
a clear conscience, he himself declared, and there could be little
doubt of this, but however tightly wrapped in the all-absorbing arms
of slumber, the dulling influence suddenly and entirely relaxed
an hour or so after midnight. Along with a large majority of the
townspeople, according to later evidence, he found himself sitting up
in bed and wondering why the house was trying to do a dance and the
windows to imitate a drum corps. Then came voices from within, some
in alarm, others in quieter comment and the words:

“Great fury! Is the house coming down?” from Merrill, next to Don in
age.

“What was that, Dad?” a younger scion questioned.

“An explosion of some kind; two of them!” This from the doctor.

“Where ’bouts?”

“Yes, where do you think it was, Father?”

“Over on the other side of town; perhaps the mills.”

“Ooh! Can we go an’ see, Daddy?” This from the baby of the family.

“No; in the morning. It’s only two o’clock now. Go to sleep.”

“But you’re going, Father; they may need you,” Donald offered.

“Yes, and I’ll take you with me.”

It was the mills. One building with the office in part, had been
utterly wrecked, another had been partly destroyed and one end was on
fire. And while the volunteer department and helpers were valorously
extinguishing the flames another explosion occurred that hurt two men
and flung some others down, Don amongst them. The boy was uninjured,
though the jarring up made him see red. But with a shrewdness beyond
his years he kept silent as to what he suspected and his ears were
keen to catch the talk going on around him. It seemed to be the idea
of one and all that this was the work of German spies.

Presently, from behind some splintered boxes, they found the
half-unconscious watchman and resuscitated him, getting him to talk.
He had obtained one good look at the miscreants as they ran away.

Don kept an eye open for Clem and as that youth appeared leaping with
his father, from a big motor car, he was grabbed and pulled aside.

“Don’t say a word about what we know,” Don whispered. “Here’s a
chance for us to get right up on top of everybody. It was those two,
Clem.”

“But, look here, Don, Father ought to know--”

“Sure! And he will, sooner and more satisfactorily than if he put
some of those bum detectives on the job; you know that. They’d kick
around for about a week, but you and I can get busy right now;
to-night. They won’t get here before--”

“But Father can have those men arrested and then--”

“Oh, hang it, yes, and give us the go-by! Let’s be the ones to spring
the surprise. Come on; I’m ready to tackle it, when I get a gun
somewhere.”

The idea appealed to Clement Stapley, for he did not want to be
outdone in daring by his old-time rival. It would never do for Don
to say: “Clem fell down on the job; wasn’t equal to it; hadn’t the
backbone.” He turned to Don:

“I’m with you! Hold on, I can fix the shooting-iron matter. Wait half
a minute.” Into the debris of the office wreck the lad climbed and
wriggled, and after a moment’s looking about, in the light from the
yard lamp-poles, which had been re-established by some quick-witted
employee, the boy located a shattered desk, pried open a drawer and
drew forth two long-barreled revolvers of the finest make.

Don, waiting and watching, heard Mr. Stapley say to several men:

“I have a notion that those fellows will come back. They’ll believe
we think they’ve left for distant parts and that will make them bold.
You see they’ve got reason: the stock mill wasn’t hurt. Riley found
two bombs that hadn’t gone off in there; the fuses had become damp, I
suppose. And that was probably the big game they were after. Probably
they’ll take another chance at it. Well, we’ll put detectives on the
job as soon as possible. Have any of you noticed anyone about; any
strangers whom you could have suspected?”

There was a general negative to this; then one hand spoke up:

“How about that fellow Shultz, out beyond the station? He’s a red-hot
German and before we went into the war he was shouting pro-Prussian
stuff till his throat was sore. He’s about the only Hun around here
except old man Havemeyer, and he’s a decent, good citizen and wants
to see the kaiser punched full of holes.”

“Yes, Havemeyer is all right,” assented Mr. Stapley, “but we will
have to look into the doings of this Shultz.”



CHAPTER IV

CAPTURED


The destruction from the explosions was not so damaging but that
complete repairs could be made in a few weeks and the work, crowded
into the other buildings, go on without serious interruption. Mr.
Stapley, organizing a crowd of workers on the spot, turned for one
moment to listen to his son.

“Say, Dad, it would be a fine thing to land the dubs that did this;
wouldn’t it? I have an idea--”

The president of the Stapley Mills laughed outright. “That you know
the miscreants? Oh, the confidence and the imagination of youth!
Well, go bring them in, my son; bring them right in here!”

“Well, maybe it’s only a joke, but--but, Dad, if I did--if we did,
would you--?”

“I’d give you about anything you’d ask for if you even got a clue to
the devils! What do you know--anything?”

“Tell you later, Dad. Would you--er--let me--enlist?”

“Yes, even that! Anything! But here now, don’t you go and start
anything rash. Better wait until the detectives and police get on the
job. I’m too busy now to--”

“All right. See you later, Dad.”

Slipping away in the darkness, the boys began talking in low tones,
and made for the Galaville road, laying plans as they went. Don
offered the principal suggestions and Clem, lacking definite ideas
of proceeding, was fair enough to comply. They approached the Shultz
farmhouse with keen caution, making a wide detour and coming from
back of the barn. A dog barked near the house and that was the only
sign of life. But there was a method of bestirring the inmates, and
the boys believed that the miscreants would show themselves to render
hasty aid to a fellow countryman in gratitude for the shelter and
care they had received from Shultz.

Working like beavers the lads gathered a lot of loose cornstalks,
tall straws, and barnyard litter of a most inflammable nature, and
piled it all on the side of the barn opposite the house, and far
enough away to be beyond danger. At half a dozen places almost at
once they set fire to the pile and having selected positions of
ambush they rushed into hiding, Clem behind the barn bridge, Don
crouching in the shadow of the corn-crib. The signal of action was to
be the sudden move of either.

The plan worked. No one could have turned in and slept at once after
the noise of the explosion in the town, much less these people who,
the lads felt assured, had been expecting it. If the farmhouse
occupants had been in fear of showing themselves they would ignore
that for the few minutes needed for saving the animals in a burning
barn. That they would, on looking out, believe the barn was on fire
there could be no question, as no view from the house could detect
the exact location of the flames.

A door slammed; there was the sound of excited words, of commands, of
hurrying feet. Could it be possible that only Shultz and his family
would appear on the scene? Had the Germans of the train departed?
Or was it, after all, merely a coincidence that those men had come
here and had talked in the train in a way that led the boys to think
they were up to some such tricks, and that others had caused the
explosion? Might it not have been some workman who was a German
sympathizer?

Such doubts filled the minds of the young adventurers as they waited,
hidden, and wondering. But they were not long to remain in doubt for
things began to happen. Fat Shultz was not the first to appear, for
three figures rounded the corner of the barn ahead of his puffing
form.

The dog was fleetest of foot; that half-mongrel dachshund bade fair
to spoil the game for the boys, for he was far more interested in
the presence of strangers than in a bonfire, no matter how high
it blazed. Yaw-cub, or whatever the beast was called, began to
bark at the corn-crib, but the followers of the elongated hound
fortunately paid no attention to this. Close together came the next
in line--Fraülein Shultz and a man, both plainly seen as they came
within the zone of light from the fire. The woman turned the corner
and stopped as though she had bumped against a post, her hands going
to her bosom in relief and for want of breath. The man almost ran
into her; then he let out a German remark, doubtless an oath, and
wheeled about. Surprise number one had relieved, if disgusted, him;
number two, which confronted him before he had taken two retracing
steps, made him lift his arms as if trained in the art.

“Hands up!” was Don’s order.

“And be blamed quick about it!” supplemented Clem.

“And you, too, Shultz!” Don addressed the on-coming and puffing old
saloon keeper.

“Eh? Vat? Bah! I safe mein barn! I safe mein horses und coos und mein
piks!”

“Hands up and stop! Your horses and cows and pigs are all safe. Put
your hands up, if you don’t want to get some lead in you!”

Shultz stopped, but rather at the command or announcement of his more
active wife than because of an order from his captors. His bumptious
self-importance would not permit him to knuckle to anybody, much less
to mere American youths.

“Huh! Vat? Chust poys, py gollies! Raus mit ’em! Clear oudt! I ring
der necks off bodt! Put down dose pistols! Eh? Vat? Bah!”

It instantly became evident that something most radical, however
unpleasant, must be done to convince this egotistical German what
young America can do when started. The preparations for war, the
flower of our youth enlisting, the early determination to beat the
Huns had evidently made little impression on this tub of conceited
Prussianism. It was the certain duty of his youthful captors to
impress not only a lesson on Shultz, but to maintain their own
position in the _rôle_ they had chosen to assume. The necessity was
also very apparent of repelling a weighty and sudden charge of the
declared enemy, for Shultz, by reason of his calling, was given to
combatting foes of almost every sort, albeit this must have been a
somewhat new experience.

It was Don who, as usual, saw first the need of action and improved
upon it. Your trained, competing athlete, boxer, wrestler, leader
of team contests must be as quick with his head as with his hands
and the event of weapons on a possibly tragic mission and against a
really dangerous opponent flabbergasted the boy not a bit. Words,
he saw, were entirely useless; delay might be fatal--to someone, at
least.

The boy’s revolver barked and spit out its fiery protest over
Shultz’s head; the tongue of flame against the dark background of the
night was enough to command any minion of the Old Scratch, and Shultz
proved no exception to this. The other chap, whose whiskered face the
lads had recognized instantly, acted more wisely, hoping, no doubt,
for some moment to arrive where strategy or surprise might count.

“Vat? Eh? Py shoose, you shoot me? Veil, no, you shoot me nod! I vas
holt mein hands up so, und shtop poinding dot peestol! Uh! It might
vent off!”

“It will sure go off and through your fat gizzard if you don’t turn
round and head for the road and town! Both of you, now march!”

Don issued this order, then he turned to Mrs. Shultz who had suddenly
lifted her voice in a loud lament, much resembling a screech.

“Now, listen, please: Your man must be all right; all we want him for
is to tell about this other fellow. Don’t worry; he’ll be back right
soon. Say, Clem, you explain to her; I guess she’s going crazy.”

This was pretty close to the facts, although long association with
the hard knocks of a troubled existence had saved her from going
crazy now. But, woman-like, she must fly to the defense of her
man, even though, German-like, she was his slave. She was making
a vehement protest of some kind, largely by rushing to Shultz and
trying to reach her arms around his ample waist; she may have meant
to carry him off bodily and protect or hide him, but she fell short
in estimating his avoirdupois.

Clem gently pulled the woman back and again reassured her; by
insisting about twenty times that it was all right and that she need
not worry he managed at last to get her a little calmer and then Don
ordered the men forward.

But now the bearded fellow had something to say and it was in the
best of English, without a trace of foreign accent. He did not offer
to lower his arms.

“I suppose, young gentlemen, this is some kind of a holiday prank; is
it not? A schoolboy pleasantry, though rather a severe one, but being
once young myself I can sympathize with the exuberance of youth. When
you see fit to end this, permit us both and this poor woman to enter
the house. I am quite ill and we have all lost much sleep of late. Be
then so kind as to--.”

“We can imagine that you have indeed lost much sleep and you will
probably lose more!” Don was sarcastic. “But we didn’t come here to
parley. If this is a schoolboy joke it’s sure enough a hefty one; all
you’ve got to do is to fall in with it and do as you’re told. The
next time this gun cracks it’s going to be right straight at one of
your carcasses, by cracky, and you’ve going to get hurt! So, hit the
road out yonder for town and hit it lively! Get moving, or I’m going
to pull this trigger the way she’s pointing. Now then, go on!”

“But, my boy, you have no right to thus threaten and order us about.
You do not appear like bandits; surely you can mean us no harm and we
have done nothing--”

“But we think you have,” put in Clem, which was not altogether
diplomatic, if it seemed best not to put this man on his guard. Don
saw the drift that matters would soon take and parleying was not in
order.

“Say, Dutch, listen: You’re wrong; we are bandits and this is a real
hold-up; see? If you’re not the party we want you can hustle back
here again, quick.”

Shultz put in his inflated oar:

“Bah! You do not vant me. No! I vill not go mit you!”

“Oh, yes you will, or get a lot of lead in you,” Don asserted.

“We surely wish you to do just as we say,” Clem added. Perhaps it was
growing a little hard for him to keep up his courage, but not so with
Don; the more that youth was confronted with difficulties, the more
determined he became and he was now about as mad as a June hornet.

“Go on out into the road and head for town and no more shenanigan!
In two seconds more I’m going to begin shooting and I’d rather kill
somebody right now than get a million dollars.”

“Now, just a minute, young gentleman.” The bearded man’s voice was
most appealing. “If this is a hold-up and you want money, why then, I
can gladly--” The fellow’s hand went into his hip pocket and he edged
toward Don.

“Back up! Say, by thunder I’m just going to kill you, anyhow!” was
Don’s reply and upon the instant he almost had to make good his word,
for the man leaped right at him, with a snarl resembling that of
an angry cat. But the boy was ready and even quicker; dropping the
muzzle of his weapon a little he fired and dodged aside at the same
time. The man stumbled and fell upon the frozen ground; he floundered
a little; then sat up.

“You back up, too, Shultz, or you’ll get it! Now, then, Clem, hunt
a wheelbarrow and we’ll just cart this chap to town, anyway. You
and Shultz can take turns. Hurry, Clem; there must be one around
somewhere. Go into the house, Mrs. Shultz; we won’t hurt your husband
if he doesn’t get gay.”



CHAPTER V

REWARDED


The procession that wound out of the gate, down the road, over the
railroad tracks, past the station, into and along the main street a
little way, then down the broad cross street to the mills was indeed
a queer one; naturally one to draw the attention of a crowd, if there
had been anyone on the street so early in the morning to see it.
Those who were up and about, who had not gone back to bed after the
explosion, had stayed at the mill to join in the well-paid-for work
of rehabilitation, or to stand around and discuss the crime.

When the slow-moving caravan arrived, after a toilsome trip with many
stops for rest, Clem having been the motive power all the way for
the squeaking, one-wheeled vehicle, the crowd at the mill paused to
observe and consider this rather startling performance. Christmas
night was one long to be remembered in Lofton.

“Hi! Here comes the circus, the elephant in the lead!” announced
Jimmy West, a wit among the mill hands, as he caught sight of the
outline of the approaching group. Shultz marched ahead; then came the
wheel-barrow and Clem; then Don, his revolver ever ready.

“Ah, what--what have you here? What does this mean, my son?” Mr.
Stapley queried.

“Fer goodness’ sake, hit’s Dutchy Shultz an’ another feller, thet
them there boys hez brung in!” remarked an ancient citizen.

“Dis vas von outrache, py gollies! I vill nod--”

“Shut up, Shultz, I told you, or you’ll get plugged yet!” Don
threatened. The crowd did not embarrass him.

“We think this is your dynamiter, Dad,” Clem stated, calmly. He had
had time to compose himself.

“Eh? What makes you think so?”

“Got a lot of reasons, Dad; a lot of evidence against this fellow.”

“So? But what’s the matter with him?”

“Donald shot him. He isn’t much hurt, I guess. But we don’t know. We
just brought them along.”

“Hey, Mr. Strang, here, evidently, is a job for you! And we’d better
have Doctor Richards here again.”

The town constable clambered out from among the wreckage of the
office building where he had been searching for clues and approached.
Amid the buzz of remarks and questions he paused long enough to
consider and then to become somewhat nettled at what appeared like
high-handed proceedings beyond his authority.

“What’s this? You kids make an arrest? Took a lot on yourselves, I’m
thinkin’. Eh? Shot this fellow? Hello! You Shultz? Huh! This looks
like pretty darned bold business to me. Put down that gun, young
fellow!” This to Don.

“You go and sit down will you? Maybe you think I’ve had no use for
this.” Don was still seeing red, but with all of his wits working.
“Mr. Stapley, you get busy on this; you’re most interested. This
gink,” indicating the constable, “couldn’t catch a mudturtle that had
robbed a hen roost in the middle of the day. There’s just one thing
to do: bring the watchman here.”

“Put up that gun, I tell you!” ordered Strang, starting toward Don.

“If you want to fill an early grave you get gay with me now!” Don
said, backing off around the crowd. Mr Stapley interposed.

“Put up your pistol, Donald. We’ll take care of this matter now.”

“But, Mr. Stapley, Shultz will get away! He and Strang are old
cronies. Many a jag Strang got in Shultz’s place when he had his
saloon; everybody knows that.” This caused a general laugh.

“Let him alone, Strang. Perhaps these boys have done us a big
service.”

“Well, if you think maybe we’ve got the wrong men, just get the
watchman here,” Don reiterated.

“Davis went home and to bed,” announced a bystander.

“Well, we can wake him; we’ll wheel these fellows over there and let
him see this one,” Don insisted.

Mr. Stapley issued several rapid orders; a big mill hand, grinning,
brought up the wheelbarrow and began trundling it and its human
freight down the street again. Two others, with a piece of stout
twine, noosed Shultz’s hands behind him and had him helpless in a
moment; then handed him over to Strang, who really would not have
dared to be false to his trust. Don, beneath a lamp and before
Strang, emptied the cartridges out of his revolver; then handed his
weapon to Clem, who also unloaded his gun, and the boys quickly
followed on to the watchman’s abode.

The ceremony there was as dramatic as could have been wished by the
most excitement-loving onlooker. Davis was brought down to the door
and he took a look at the two Germans under a bright light. He paused
long enough to make his assertion emphatic, pointing his finger and
appearing so sure that no one could have doubted him.

“I didn’t see Shultz an’ I would have knowed him, anyway; he ain’t no
stranger to nary one in this here town. But I did see that man! He’s
one o’ them that run from the office buildin’ acrosst the yard just
before the bomb went off. That feller an’ another one--a long, thin
cuss without any whiskers--they must ’a’ set their fuses too short
an’ was scared, because they skinned out awful quick. Then the thing
went off an’ the one near where I was a second later, an’ it fixed me
so’s I didn’t know nothin’.”

“You think that this man--” began Mr. Stapley, indicating the
wheelbarrow’s passenger who had said no word, but only sat hugging
his leg and looking very pale.

“Yes sir, Mr. Stapley, that there feller is one o’ the two men I
seen. I’m as sure of it as I am that the sun riz yest’day mornin’!
I’ll take a bunch of oaths on it ez big ez the mill prop’ty! Knowed
him soon’s I seen him.”

“Thank you, Davis. Go back to bed and I hope you’re better--”

A cheer, at first uncertain, then growing in volume and intent,
interrupted the mill president.

“Hurrah for the kids!” it began; then; “That’s the stuff!” “Sure they
turned the trick!” “Them kids is some fellers!” and: “Whoop ’em up!”
Both boys were caught up on the shoulders of the crowd and passing
Strang someone shouted:

“Say, Constable, you ain’t got a blamed thing t’ say, so shut up!”

“Ben, you and Phil get this fellow down to the mill hospital and stay
with him,” ordered Mr. Stapley. “The doctor will be here any minute.
Mr. Strang, hold on to Shultz; he was giving these men asylum and we
all know his sentiments. Better lock him up and we’ll work the legal
proceedings tomorrow. As for the boys, I won’t stand for any action
to be taken against them, unless the district attorney insists, and
I don’t believe he will. They may have exceeded their rights, but you
see the result. Good-night, Strang. Come on, men; we’ll go back to
work. You boys had better go home and get some sleep; you both need
it. We’ll talk the whole matter over tomorrow.”

But when the morrow came, a little late in the morning, the talk was
prefaced by a bit of news. A few hours before the bearded German had
eluded his jailors just long enough to swallow a dose of poison and
he had died in half a minute and almost without a tremor. Prussic
acid, Doctor Richards said, and added that the wound inflicted by
Don’s bullet was a mere flesh scratch in the leg and had only caused
a temporary paralysis, largely imaginary. In the darkness the boy had
aimed to hit the fellow just above the knee.

They were all at the Stapley mansion, most comfortably seated. The
president of the mills and the doctor were old friends, knowing
nothing of the long feud between the lads here in the town and at
Brighton, and now pleased that the boys had acted together.

“We want to know the whole story; just how it all happened and all
that you did; eh, Doc?” Mr. Stapley demanded.

Between them the boys managed to make a complete narrative, though
the latter part of it--the taking of the two Germans and the
shooting--Clem told, after much cross-questioning. Mr Stapley then
commented:

“It’s pretty easy to grasp the merits of this, Doc. My son’s part
has been anything but that which a proud father could be ashamed of
and I’m glad the boy has shown so much nerve and spunk. But it is
your son, Donald here, who has really carried the thing through.
That boy’s going to be a regular young Napoleon one of these days,
Doc, you may be sure! Better give his scrapping ability all the
development possible.”

“Oh, now, Mr. Stapley, I didn’t do any more than Clem did. He was
right there on the job. Why, he wheeled the wheelbarrow and he--”

“Oh, very good indeed! A rather hard task! But something of a
laborer’s job wasn’t it? You seem to have done--”

“‘Comparisons are odious,’ Stapley. There’s glory enough in this to
go round,” suggested the doctor.

“Sure, sure, but nevertheless we’ve got to discriminate when the
rewards are forthcoming. Our company is greatly indebted to these
boys and so is the country. That fellow might have gotten off and
have done a lot more damage, probably to us. Now we’ve got only one
rascal to hunt down. It is wonderful, I must say, very, for boys to
have carried this out as you did. Clem, you deserve high praise for
getting on to those fellows in the train. But now look here son, the
strategy of the actual capture and the nervy manner in which it was
carried out seems to have depended mostly upon Donald and I want you
to act with me in this matter. The company will reward this act with
five hundred dollars and, my boy, in this case I want it all to go
to Donald. You shall reap your reward otherwise; I’ll see to that in
various ways. Of course you’re willing?”

“I’m not willing!” spoke up Don and his father shook his head. Clem
gazed straight before him with a solemn, hurt expression.

“It must be as I wish,” Mr Stapley insisted. “We shall consent to no
other arrangement. Doc, I’ll send the check to you to bank for your
boy, and Donald, I want to thank you for your splendid action in this
affair.”



CHAPTER VI

DISSENSION


The end of the holiday week approached and on the day after New
Year’s there would be again a general migration of eager youths, all
over the broad land, into the outstretched arms of alma mater. But
competing fiercely with all the institutions of learning, a mightier
need beckoned the physically able, for there was work to do to make
the “world safe for democracy.”

Clement Stapley and Donald Richards heard the call and stopped to
consider it. They knew old Brighton was ready to welcome back her
knights of brain and brawn, but even more insistently they were
aware that far greater institutions controlled by the United States
Government were also eager to welcome the same brain and brawn.
The Red Cross beckoned them, the Emergency Aid and the Y. M. C. A.
wanted the help of strong and willing hands; bigger still loomed the
Government itself, with its demands for men, but with a more urgent
need. Surely Old Brighton could wait and so could their own desire
for learning; at such a time as this the country, all the world
indeed, blocked some of its wheels of progress to permit other wheels
to turn the faster, to roll along helpfully, determinedly, to reach
the hilltop of peace at the end of the fierce journey.

Don sat down to the breakfast table on Monday morning with four
younger boys, his brothers, all hungry and noisy. The mother of the
Richards boys had long been dead; the aunt, their father’s maiden
sister, who presided over the household, had departed a few minutes
before upon some important errand, leaving the interior to the tender
mercies of the wild bunch who seemed bent on having an especially
merry time, for they believed the doctor had gone to attend an urgent
case.

Don was the only one of the group who appeared in no mood to raise
a rumpus; he busily applied himself to satisfying his very healthy
appetite and only switched off at necessary intervals in the attempt
to enforce peace and to defend himself against the tussling twins,
who would rather scrap than eat. The other two, one older and
one younger, but almost the huskiest of the brothers, insisted on
having a hand in these athletic performances. And then there came an
unpleasant surprise.

Jim and Jake, the twins, in an effort to compel the surrender of a
buttered buckwheat cake, toppled over on Merrill, the second son,
who in turn flung them against Ernest. That wily youngster was more
than equal to such occasions; he dodged out of his chair and when
the struggling twins tumbled across his seat he twisted the corner
of the tablecloth about the neck of one, quickly wrecking things,
as the wrestlers fell to the floor. Don made a wide grab at several
things at once, but finding his attempt futile he turned, tore the
tusslers apart and sent them sprawling to opposite corners; then he
gave Ernest a crack with open hand, which caused that youngster being
the baby of the family, to bawl loudly.

Just at that instant Dr. Richards hurriedly entered the room, for he
had just been fixing his auto runabout and now came back for a bite
to eat.

The sight that confronted the busy man was enough to exasperate a
saint. He saw Donald in the midst of the mêlée and jumped at a too
hasty conclusion. A man usually of few words, often over-lenient and
generally just, he now, let his temper run away with his judgment and
his tongue. Grabbing two dried buckwheat cakes that had, by merest
chance, remained on the edge of the table, he turned back toward the
door.

“You are setting your younger brothers anything but a good example,
Donald! We have less of this sort of thing when you’re away. If
you carry on this way at Brighton I should think you’d soon be in
disgrace. You ought to be a little older and join the army; the
discipline there would do you good. A nice breakfast this is!” he
added as he began, moodily, to eat.

Don was too proud and too loyal to the joint offenders to explain.
It seemed enough for him to know that he was not to blame, that the
scolding was not merited and his father would soon find this out. An
idea had quickly entered his head.

“I can manage to get into the war, Father, if you’ll sign an
application paper.”

“Well, I’ll see about it--haven’t time now.”

“Yes, I think you have. Better sign before we wreck the house, or
set fire to it. Here’s the document. Write on the last line, at the
bottom.”

Doctor Richards seized the paper that Don shoved at him, but hardly
glanced at it. “I suppose you feel mightily independent since you got
that five hundred dollars. Well, going will probably do you good.”
With that the man of many duties drew forth his fountain pen, placed
the paper against the door-jamb, and quickly wrote his name. “Let me
know later just what you intend doing; I will help you all I can. But
if you like school best, better go back, perhaps.” The doctor stepped
out of the room, the front door slammed, there was the chug of a
motor and the boys were again left to themselves.

The twins and Ernest sneaked away; Merrill turned to Don, whom he
really loved and admired.

“Say, that was rotten! And for me and those kids to let you take
that, too! You bet I’ll tell Dad all about it when he comes back.”

“Well, all right, if you want to; but not now. Not one word before
I get off, which will be this afternoon probably. I really can’t
blame Father much; it was tough for him to miss a decent breakfast
and he has a lot to put up with from us kids--with all he does for
us! But he won’t be bothered with me for a while and if I get over
there maybe he will never again be bothered with me. Well, I’ll see
you later, Mel, and let you know. I’m off to see Clem Stapley now;
perhaps he will be going, too.”

But on his way Don stopped at the Army and Red Cross recruiting
station, in the same busy office, being received with much gusto,
both because of his recent heroic conduct in landing the German agent
and of his frank engaging manner. He had much to say, found much to
learn and got what he was after. Then he climbed the hill toward the
Stapley mansion. Clem was at the garage, helping the chauffeur tinker
with a crippled motor.

“Hello, old man!” shouted Don, but he noticed that the older lad
hardly turned his head. He seemed much interested in his task. “Well,
what’s the good word?” continued the visitor. “Anything new?”

“Don’t know a thing,” answered Clem, without looking up.

“Well, things are coming my way,” Don said.

“Yes, I notice,” Clem agreed, with a sneer on his face, “and you’re
not dodging them very hard, either.”

“I was speaking of Government duties,” Don offered, ill at ease.
He had been satisfied that the old ill feeling had been completely
patched up, between Clem and himself, by the heroic episode through
which they had just passed, for his own feeling was friendly. But
surely Clem’s manner was cool, even more curt than before. However,
in the last remark the older lad showed some interest.

“How do you mean, ‘Government duties’?” he asked.

“I’ve just joined the Red Cross ambulance service, Clem. Leave
tonight. Thought you’d like to know--”

“I enlisted with the Marines two days ago,” Clem announced rather
coolly.

“Good for you! Hurrah! When do you go? We might--”

But Clem, who had turned back to work on the car said curtly:

“When I get ready. In a few days, perhaps.”

“No chance, then, for us to get away together?”

“None in the least.”

“Well, I’m glad you got in. Of course you had no trouble. Your father
gave his--”

“Look here, Richards!” Clem turned toward the younger boy almost
savagely. “I don’t see that you need to concern yourself with what
I’ve done, or doing. As for Dad, you ought to be satisfied after what
you got out of the company.”

“Oh! So that’s what’s the matter with you, eh? Sore about that; are
you? Well, you know I wanted to divide; I wanted to be fair to you.
It was not my--”

“I didn’t see you breaking any bones in an effort to be fair.”

“If you say I didn’t want to be fair, that I was entirely satisfied
in taking all that money, then, Stapley, you lie!”

“Say, before I’ll take much of that from you I’ll punch your head!”

“So? Well, the nose is right here when you want to punch it. Come
and punch it! But you won’t punch anything. You think you’re some
fighter. Come on and punch once; just once!”

Clem was no coward and he possessed the cool judgment of a capable
boxer. Moreover, he was taller, with a longer reach than Don. But he
had to reckon with superior weight, probably greater strength and
what counts more than all else--an indomitable spirit. Long brooding
over what he considered an injustice on Don’s part in accepting all
the reward for arresting the Germans, and for permitting others to
give him more of the credit for personal bravery had made young
Stapley more of an enemy than he had ever been.

How the fight would have ended was not to be known, however, for
though Clem would have struck Don, he was prevented by the chauffeur
who was by no means to be lightly reckoned with.

“Gwan, now, Clement, me boy! An’ you, too, young feller! I’ll mop up
the floor here with both o’ you if you begin scratchin’ an’ bitin’!
What would Mr. Stapley, me boss, say to me if I let you chaw each
other up? Gwan, young feller!”--this to Don. “An’ you come here,
Clement, an’ I’ll show you the true insides o’ this critter, from
piston head to crank shaft.”

Don took this for both good advice and a logically sound invitation
and turned on his heel. But he could not help feeling sorry that
again Clem Stapley and himself were “at outs”.



CHAPTER VII

GETTING IN


Camps and training schools, learning how and drilling. This was the
lot of Young America in the latter days of the year 1917 and in the
earlier months of the succeeding year, a year long to be remembered
and to cut a mighty figure in the history of the United States.

Bloody are the annals of this year of 1918, severe the sacrifices
that led the nation into its tragic paths of glory, but so noble and
just has been the purpose behind our act of war and so humane our
conduct that the whole sane world has applauded. All honor to the
fighters first and all praise to the men and the women, young and
old, who aided and encouraged the fighters with abundant humanity at
home and on the field of strife.

We think of war and see its tragedies mostly through the eyes of
the military, but to some of the unarmed participants have come the
bitterest experiences and the opportunities for the bravest deeds.

Donald Richards, late student at old Brighton and now Red Cross
ambulance driver, too young to enlist as a soldier, but nevertheless
keen for action and to do his bit and his best, at once so interested
his superiors that after he had fully qualified they quickly placed
him where his craving for thrills and work worth while should be
amply satisfied. In February, after a month of training he sailed
across the big pond in a transport laden with troops and met no
mishaps on the way.

Three weeks after landing in France the boy found himself in the
midst of military activities and the most urgent hospital work. He
was clad to his own satisfaction, mostly at his own expense, in
khaki. He had become a capable mechanic on automobiles, was well
practised in roughing it, in picking his way in strange country,
and above all in the fine art of running, with wounded passengers,
swiftly and smoothly over rough roads.

First as an assistant driver, then with a car of his own and a
helper, he had been assigned to duty along the great highway leading
from Paris to Amiens. Like many others in the area of military
activity, this road had been well built, rock-ballasted and hammered
hard with normal travel, in the days before the world war, but
now, from the wheels of great munition trucks and motor lorries,
the wear and tear of marching feet and from little care after long
rains, it had been soaked into a sticky mass, with a continuation
of holes and ruts, puddles and upheavals. A cross-road led from the
Amiens highway straight east toward the battle front and into the
wide territory of France held by the enemy. The German front line
was not more than seven miles from the evacuation hospitals on this
cross-road. These centers of mercy were where the badly wounded were
sent for quick, emergency operations, which saved many lives. Between
these evacuation hospitals and the Red Cross base hospital in an old
château a few miles outside of Paris and also near the Amiens road
the comparatively few Red Cross cars and the score or more of Army
ambulances plied almost continuously when there was anything doing at
the front. And for the most part there was something doing.

From the twenty-first of March, when the terrific drive of the Huns
carried them nearly to Amiens, and during which time they occupied
Montdidier, until the middle of June, there was pretty constant
shelling and scrapping throughout this area. The great German
offensive began in March, only a few days before Donald Richards
started to run his own ambulance, so that almost his first duties
were most urgent and strenuous.

“Whatever the Doctor, Major Little, in command up there, tells you to
do, do it,” was the order the boy received from the chief at the base
hospital, “but your regular duty is to bring the wounded from the
evacuation hospitals, or from the dressing stations to us, when so
ordered. Of course, we don’t want to subject our men to the danger of
going up to the lines any more than is absolutely necessary, and we
surely do not want you to get hurt, my boy, but this war and the call
of duty must be heeded first. Either the surgeons at the dressing
stations or Major Little and his assistants at the cross-roads
hospitals will tell you where to take the wounded. Critical cases are
first operated on at the evacuation hospitals so as to save time, but
shell shock, slight wounds, men not very seriously gassed, and merely
sick men are brought here direct from the field. Hence it will be
best for you, if there are no wounded to be brought away from the
evacuation hospitals, to go to the dressing stations or into a battle
area, to get the wounded in your car anyway you can. For the most
part they will be brought to you by stretcher bearers; of course,
some will come themselves. I see you have on your steel helmet. Wear
it regularly.

“You must prepare yourself for some horrible sights, my boy. Above
all things, no matter how much you may be scared, and you will be,
don’t lose your nerve. No one, especially at your age, can be blamed
for being somewhat flabbergasted under fire, while seeing men killed,
maimed, blown to bits by shells, and all that sort of thing, but you
must try to overcome this. And be sure to have your gas-mask always
handy.

“Now then, have everything in tiptop shape according to our methods;
you had better take a hot bath, wear clean under-clothing and brush
your teeth. Get a good meal and be sure to take a lot of chocolate
with you give out where needed. You should also have extra blankets
in case you get hurt, or your car crippled and you have to sleep out.
The weather is moderating now and I think it will continue so, but
there will be cold rains. Now then, be off in an hour and good luck
to you!”

From such a general order, Don saw clearly enough that he would be
his own boss a great deal of the time, and that much of his most
important work must be carried on according to his own judgment.
The boy of sixteen, who had never really engaged in anything more
strenuous than mere sport, except the arresting of the German
spy back home, was now brought face to face with the duties and
responsibilities that were fully man-size.

Don prepared himself quickly for any undertaking that might be
before him. He made everything ready as the chief had suggested. He
insisted also that the same be done by his helper, Billy Mearns, a
city-bred young man who was just now getting familiar with handling
and repairing a motor car.

Presently they started. The little truck, new, smooth-running and
responsive, delighted the boy. His first duties as helper had been
in a rattletrap machine, which ran only when it felt like it and in
which they carried convalescents from the base hospitals to a place
with terraced gardens and verandas two hundred miles farther south.

Don’s new duties exhilarated him and as he turned his car northward
he could have said, with Macduff, when that warrior sought to meet
Macbeth, the master war-maker: “That way the noise is. Tyrant show
thy face!” for, boy-like, yet with a thorough understanding of the
situation, secretly desirous of taking some part--he did not know
what--in fighting, he had smuggled a sporting rifle into his car, and
he carried a long-barreled revolver in a holster on his hip.

“You see,” he confided to Billy Mearns--they called each other by
their first names almost from the moment of meeting--“we don’t
know what we are up against, and I hope I may be hanged, drawn and
quartered, as the old pirates used to say, if I let any blamed Hun
sneak around me without trying to see if he is bullet-proof.”

“Right-o!” agreed Mearns. “But, for goodness’ sake, don’t get too
anxious and take some of our Yanks for Heinies! If you do and I’m
along, me for wading the Atlantic right back home! They’d do worse
than draw and quarter us; mebbe they’d even pull out our hair or
tweak our noses.”

“Pshaw! Anybody who couldn’t tell a Hun, day or night, ought to
have--”

“His nose examined, eh? Oh, you sauerkraut and onions!”



CHAPTER VIII

IN IT


Ploof! Ploof! Bang! P-ssst, wam! Zing, zing, zing! T-r-r-r-r-r--rip!
Ploooof! Something of this nature, if it can at all be conveyed by
words, came in waves, roars and spasms of sound to the ears of Don
and Billy, as their ambulance truck traversed part of the five or
six miles of cross-road between the evacuation hospitals near the
Amiens road, not twenty miles south of that shell-torn town, and the
front line of the Allied army where American troops, newly arrived
from training camps, were brigaded with the French soldiers; that
is, a number of regiments of one nation were included with those of
the other in the same sector, sometimes companies, even platoons, of
Americans and French fighting side by side against the savage attacks
of an enemy far superior in numbers.

“We’ve just sent a dozen or more to your people down there--nearly
all light cases--but there’s been some sort of a scrap over toward
the southeast. You can’t find a road, for the enemy holds that, but
you can turn in across the fields to your right, or follow an old
farm road; one of our men did so yesterday. It is just beyond, where
some reserves are digging in by the edge of a ruined farm; both the
house and barn have been struck by shells or sky bombs. If you can go
any farther from there you’ll have to ask your way, but probably the
P. C. beyond won’t let you go on. There are two dressing stations to
the west of some woods on a low hill; that will be still farther to
your right as you follow the new trail. Go to it!”

This was the all-too-brief order Don received from Major Little,
the hospital-chief when the lads reached the broad tents on the
cross-road early one morning. Without further words Don leaped into
his car and glided on along the narrow road for about two miles; then
he began dodging shell holes, one here that involved half of the
wheel tracks, another, farther on, which took in all of the road and
had been partly filled and partly bridged with timbers from an old
building near. Beyond this, small shell-holes had torn up the once
smooth surface here and there. After the ambulance had traversed
another mile, at the best speed possible over such a highway, it
overtook a string of ammunition trucks going into position, ready
for progress or retreat. Dodging around these and avoiding other
shell-holes was difficult for the half mile on to where the artillery
had debouched. Once, not two hundred feet ahead, a big shell came
over with a swish and snarl and landed in the field near the road,
sending up a cloud of sod, dirt and stones and sprinkling the
ambulance and its drivers with bits of gravel. One sizable stone
landed on the hood with a whang and bounced against the windshield
just hard enough to crack it, exactly in line with Billy Mearns’ face.

“Pal, we seem to be under fire,” remarked Don, and Billy, with a
grunt of relief, replied:

“Yes, and if that glass hadn’t been there I’d have bitten that stone
in half to show I didn’t care whether it came this way or not. But
say, if we’d been just where that shell landed we would have had to
sing Tosti’s ‘Good-bye.’ They’re rude things, aren’t they, the way
they mess up the landscape?”

Don glanced at his smiling companion. A fellow who could take such
matters so calmly, and jest over them, was a lad after his own heart.

The sound of fighting came to the boys now with increasing fury.
They were not experienced enough to tell whether it was a regular
battle, or merely a skirmish. Anyway, it was lively enough for an
introduction to green hands far from home.

They came to where the reserve regiment was digging in. Some of them
camped in the open, with a few little canopy tents spread. A few
fires were burning. A few officers stood or squatted around talking
and laughing. Sentries were pacing up and down. A sentinel stood in
the road and faced about toward them, but when he saw the Red Cross
on the front and side of the car and had scanned the faces of the
drivers he asked no questions but let them pass. Don slowed up enough
to hear him say:

“All right. Go find ’em, bo! There’s some down there.”

“Going to give your friends, the Limburgers, a warm reception after
while?” Billy called back and the soldier nodded briskly, smiling and
waving his hand.

Turning sharply and dashing along the old farm road between greening
fields, the little car gained a slight crest and, uncertain for the
moment which way to turn, Don stopped her. Billy leaned out and
looked around.

“Over there are the woods the Major spoke about,” he said.

“Sure is. We can cross this meadow, I guess.”

“Ooh! Hold on a bit, and look up, Don!”

Two airplanes were circling overhead. The boys could see a black
Maltese cross on the under side and near the end of each wing of
one plane; the other bore a broad tri-colored circle in similar
positions. The two soaring, roaring, vulture-like things were
approaching each other, suddenly little jets of white smoke burst
from each and long streaks of pale light, like miniature lightning,
shot from each flying-machine to the other.

“A Hun plane and a Britisher! It’s a fight!” Don remarked excitedly.
“See, they’re the illuminated bullets to tell just where they’re
shooting, like squirting a hose. Watch ’em, Billy; watch ’em! Oh, by
cracky!”

“Watch them? Do you think I’m taking a nap? Oooh! Look at that
gasoline swallow dive! And bring up, too!” The German plane had
done this to try to get around under the tail of its opponent before
the other could turn, but its calculation went amiss. The Englishman
instantly made a quick swerve around and then dived straight at his
enemy, sending a stream of bullets ahead, and as the boche had by
this time turned around and was coming back toward him, it looked
terribly like there would be a collision.

But not so. The superior maneuvering of the Britisher was too much
for his antagonist--the Hun plane swerved to the left, went on
straight for a moment, then began to tilt a little sidewise and to
spin slowly. As it sank it pitched from side to side, following a
spiral course, thus imitating perfectly the fall of a dead leaf; so
perfectly, indeed, that as it neared the earth and was not checked
nor righted it became evident that the engine had stopped and that
the airman could not control the plane. Then, when not more than
fifty feet above the ground it suddenly tilted over forward and
crashed to the ground in the field, about an eighth of a mile beyond
the boys.

Looking aloft, then, Don and Billy saw the victorious English plane
going straight away at high speed toward the enemy’s lines and
rising higher in air at every second.

“Work cut out for us right ahead there,” Don remarked, as he settled
back in his seat and began to speed up his motor. “We didn’t think
that our first ‘_blessé_’ would be a Hun, did we?”

“No. What’s a ‘_blessé_’?”

“Why, I think that’s what the French call a wounded man. I hear them
using it that way.”

“I know a little French, but very little; I hadn’t heard that
expression before. Many of these war-time French words bother me
muchly. Look out; another shell-hole! Say, this must be a regular
farm.”

They saw the house standing in a clump of trees. The roadway led
straight past it; with increased speed the ambulance flew by and in a
little while came to the fallen airplane.

The winged intruder, ‘winged’ also as a flying game bird is by the
accurate fire of a sportsman, lay twisted, beyond repair, its wings,
uprights and stays crushed and broken. Almost beneath the flattened
wheels on the other side, crumpled up on the ground, lay the
unconscious airman. He had either leaped at the last moment, landing
almost where the airplane had, or he had been jarred from his seat by
the impact.

The boys were out of the car and beside him at once. Observing that
he still breathed, they gently turned him over, trying to find where
he was injured; then they saw a mass of clotted blood on his shoulder
and discovered the bullet hole.

First Aid was in order. Don ran to the ambulance and returned with
a kit. Billy followed to unfasten a stretcher and a blanket. With
utmost care, yet moving swiftly, though both lads were admittedly
nervous over their first case, they got him on the stretcher, removed
his upper garments, bathed the wound, plugged it with antiseptic
gauze and then, covering him with the blanket, slid the stretcher
into the car.

What next to do? There was room for two or three more; why return
with but one? And just beyond here lay the dressing stations, which
they could reach in less than two minutes. Don made up his mind
quickly and drove the car farther down the narrow farm road and over
another field--a pasture. Half way across and toward them, four
men were walking in single file. The boys had just made out that
these were stretcher-bearers when suddenly the men stopped, ducked
down and the foremost one raised his arm signaling for the car to
stop. The next instant they were hidden from view by a fountain
of earth between them and the ambulance and not over seventy-five
feet from the car. The earth shook with the tremendous concussion
of the explosion. It was one of the largest shells. The ambulance
was stopped as though it had butted into a stone wall; Don felt a
mass of glass fly against him and the car lifted partly up and swung
aside. When he regained his senses and could see about him through
the settling cloud of dust, he discovered that the car had been flung
crosswise, that the windshield was smashed, and that the top was bent
back, and very much askew. Billy, not having a grip on a steering
wheel, as Don had, and having partly risen, was now on his back on
the bottom of the car, behind the seat, his long legs sticking out
over the back. He regained his normal position only by turning a back
somersault and climbing forward. That the lads were not hurt was
almost a miracle.

[Illustration: THE AMBULANCE WAS STOPPED AS THOUGH IT HAD BUTTED INTO
A STONE WALL.]

But strangest of all was the fact that the tail doors had been
blown open, the stretcher lifted out on the ground as neatly as
though human hands had done it and looking back Don saw the German
airman, shocked into consciousness, sitting up and gazing at him.



CHAPTER IX

REPRISALS


“Billy, you aren’t kilt entirely, eh? Well, then, hop out and crank
her; maybe that volcano didn’t stall her. We’ll turn round, if she
runs, and hunt for those stretcher chaps; guess we can find ’em. Say,
I’ll bet they’re sorry they saw us coming.”

“No, for here they come again! It could not have reached them. Oooh,
but wasn’t it a daisy? For about one second I longed to be back in
the good, old United States. Hah! Wait till I spin her. There she
goes as fine as a hand organ!”

Don backed and turned the car; then the lads went to the German.

“Well, Fritz, feel better?” Don asked, speaking English.

No answer; a blank stare. Billy comprehended and at once got some
fun out of the incident. It was a funereal affair that didn’t have a
humorous side for him. He held his spread hand, palm down, over his
head, moved it about like the flying of an airplane, pointed to it
and to the Hun with his other finger; then making the hand take a big
drop through the air and double up on the ground again pointed to the
airman. The latter understood at once and scowled at his combined
rescuers and captors; then flopped back on the stretcher. The boys
restored him to his place in the car and turned to meet the men
from the dressing-station. They all looked fagged out, tired beyond
endurance. As a matter of fact, they were to keep on many more hours
longer. Their conversation was brief, but to the point.

“Red Cross? Get these men back as quickly as you can and return at
once. We are in an _abri_ there by the woods. Tell Major Little that
the lieutenant wants more ambulances right away. We have eleven
wounded; two ‘going West.’”

“All right, I’ll put the juice to her, Sergeant?” Don saw the three
bent stripes on the man’s sleeve. The four shifted the wounded, one
of whom was unconscious, to the unfolded white stretchers of the car,
strapped them down, folded their own brown army stretchers and turned
back.

“What does he mean by ‘going West’?” Billy whispered, as they got
under way.

“Dying,” replied Don. “Guess it’s an Indian phrase--‘toward the
setting sun.’ Poor chaps!”

“O my! I’m afraid one of these,” Billy pointed his thumb over his
shoulder, “won’t stay ‘East’ long. I hope he does, but you see, I
really ought to study medicine. I get hunches about that sort of
thing, you know.”

They flew over the even ground, and moved slowly over the rough.
Again in the farm road they were swiftly passing the house when a cry
from one of their passengers arrested their attention. It was a cry
for water.

Don pressed down his brake and turned to Billy. “That canteen--” he
began.

“I think that a real cold drink,” suggested the young man, “would do
more good. Oughtn’t they to have a well here? Suppose I see.”

“We’ll both go and get a pull, too; then bring some back. Come on!”
Don said.

The quaint little half-stone domicile, in the very midst of this
shell-torn area, faced directly east; the rear was, therefore, away
and thus somewhat sheltered from the enemy’s lines. There had been a
French or American dressing station in the front room, but a German
77-m. shell had come along and demolished the wall and a portion of
the interior. The boys quickly passed under the newly leafing fruit
trees, where bird arrivals were singing, and reached the rear of the
house. Here, in the mellowing spring-time warmth, an old woman and an
old man were sitting; the one on the door step, the other, upon an
ancient stone seat, leaning his head on his cane. By the side of the
old woman’s knee a little child of about four years gazed up at the
visitors with wide-open, blue eyes.

Don, knowing no French and forgetting that Billy knew a little,
resorted to pantomime. He made a cup of his hand and lifted it to
his lips; the old man pronounced the word water very distinctly and
pointed to a well-sweep among the shrubbery. While Don drew forth
a moss-covered bucket of water that looked sparkling, Billy was
recalling his school-day language and getting information. Yes, the
old couple were trusting in the mercy of a Higher Power; if it were
His will to take them, well and good, but they hoped it would be
quick and without suffering. Rather than leave their lifetime abode,
where they had always known comfort and happiness, they would risk
the present dangers, which they hardly seemed to realize. They would
dare almost anything rather than wander to strange regions.

And here was little Marie, happy with her grandparents, though her
father had died in the war and her mother from grief and illness
soon after. Well, the good General Foch, now that he had been made
commander of all the armies, would soon chase the wicked boches away.
The French would fight on forever, and so would the good English. And
then the Americans were coming, they said. Were the young men English?

American! “_Vive l’ Amerique!_” Ah, it was good to see them. And how
soon, oh, how soon would the great army arrive and rid France, dear,
suffering, half-destroyed France, from the wicked, hateful boches?
“_A bas les boches!_”

Don had taken water to the wounded men, two of whom received it
eagerly; the other lay in a stupor. The passengers, the boy now saw,
were two Frenchman, besides the German airman.

“Come on, Billy!” Don called, and shaking hands with the old people
and lifting the child for a kiss, hastened away. As he leaped into
the machine and Billy ran to the front end, grasping the crank, they
heard again, now not high overhead, the roar of a flying motor and
there came an airplane, marked with the black Maltese cross, sailing
across their road and very nearly over them.

“I guess he can see our Red Cross sign,” Billy said, but Don, having
heard many stories, was taking no chances; he started and flew
swiftly down the road. Blam! Something exploded far behind them
and to one side of the road. Again, within a few seconds, another
detonation, much nearer, came to their ears. Billy was craning his
neck out of the side of the car.

“He’s after us! Would you think it? I suspect he’ll get us, too,
unless we beat him out to the soldiers. They’ve got anti-aircraft
guns, haven’t they, Don?”

“Sure, and he’s got to go some. Just watch us!”

It was a race for a few seconds, though the airman must have been
wary, flying low as he did. He could not gain on the car, and soon,
with a long sweep, he was turning back, flying now even lower. Where
were the Allied airmen? Not one in sight! As Don neared the main
road again and reached the little hillock he slowed up, on hearing
the crack of light artillery in the fields. The anti-aircraft guns
had got busy and the Hun had reason to keep his distance. But if he
was foiled in his attempt to wreck an Allied Red Cross ambulance he
surely meant to find some prey for his perverted desire to destroy.
He had seen the place from where the ambulance had started as he
approached; certainly there must be a dressing station in the little
farm house.

Billy, looking back then, saw it. The murderous Hun flew lower still
over the spot of peacefulness and beauty; if he had any sense of
pastoral loveliness, hate and the German desire for mastery had
drowned it all. Something falling straight down from the airplane
passed exactly over the little stone and frame dwelling and then a
great column of flame, of black and gray smoke, of stones and bits
of splintered wood leaped upward and sunk to earth again. A cloud of
smoke and dust drifted away in the wind.

“Oh, Don! The house, the old people, the little girl!” said Billy
with a sob, and Don, clamping down his brakes, gazed at his
companion. It was the first time he had seen him with anything
different from a smile on his gentle face, even when danger was
literally heaped up in front of them. But now the young man’s soft
eyes had a horror in them and a gray pallor had taken the place of
the pink, almost girlish complexion.

Don looked back and saw the holocaust wrought by the Hun.

“That--that murderous devil!” he exclaimed.

The wounded airman in the car turn his face toward Don and made a
remark in German, probably not expecting it to be understood. Don
replied in German:

“One of your airmen has blown up the little farmhouse where we got
the drink! No doubt the good people are killed!”

“But it is war and a good hit is to be praised. Besides, these
degenerate French--”

Don turned on the fellow with the glare of an angry wildcat; in his
excitement his German mostly gave way to English.

“What’s that? _You teufel! You_ say that! And when we are treating
you decently? Well, we shall just fix you, you--!”

“Oooh, Don! Look, look!”

The airman had once more turned about, evidently to fly back over
his work of destruction to feast his eyes on its completeness. Then
he met his Waterloo. The long swerves took him beyond and near the
woods, where a French 75, aimed by a cool-headed American gunner
barked upward just once. With a burst of flame the airplane pitched
to the earth. The brutal driver, who refused to respect an ambulance,
a supposed dressing station, or the modest home of non-combatants,
was probably strapped on his seat and unable to extricate himself
went down to the most horrible of deaths.

“Ah, he got his, all righty!” Don shouted; then turning: “And here’s
another who’s going to get his! Billy, this Hun, this skunk here, is
praising the act of that devil! We’ll just dump him out and let him
lie here and suffer and bleed to death. Come on; give a hand!”

“No, no, Don! You can’t mean that. It would not be humane.”

“Humane? I’d be humane to a dog, a cat, a worm even, I hope, but not
to a thing like this. Come--!”

“‘As they should do unto you’, Don. I know this is war and he’s a
Hun, but it’s all the more of an excuse that he is only partly
human; he doesn’t know any better and he has feelings, some. Let’s
go on, Don, please, now.” Don leaped to his seat with Billy and they
continued on their way.



CHAPTER X

ZEALOUS BILLY


Major Little ordered the German airman turned over to an army
ambulance where he would be disposed of as a wounded man and
prisoner. To Don the surgeon said, after hearing the boy’s message:

“Yes, we have had the same over the wire, but could hardly get it.
Hurry back, then. I’ll send two others after you. Phoned for them
an hour ago. Look out for gas shells; they may be sending them over
soon. Listen for the warning gongs from our trenches and the gurgling
sound of the shells themselves--you’ll know it. Or you may see the
fumes drifting your way in certain lights; after the explosion,
sometimes, you can see them very plainly. You can generally smell the
fumes in the open before they come near enough to injure you--then on
with your masks! By the way,” the Major lowered his voice, “is that
helper of yours on the job?”

“Yes, sir; you may be sure he is! As cool and not afraid as they make
’em.” Don was glad of this chance to praise Billy. His regard for
the youth was hardly less than a strong love for his pal. The doctor
seemed surprised.

“I would hardly have thought that,” he admitted,--“a gentle kind of
a boy. But that kind often fools you. Even girls themselves--some of
our demurest nurses are the bravest under fire. Well, I’m glad you
like him. Now, you must make a quick get-away!”

Bon and Billy boarded their little car again, and just as they were
turning around, two other ambulances dashed up. The first one was a
light army truck, manned by members of the regular corps of the army
service. The other bore the Red Cross and it looked like a higher
grade of car than that commonly in use by that organization. Don was
swinging into the road and just caught sight of the driver and helper
in this last car. But as he glanced at the side face of the former
a rush of partial recognition mixed with an undefined feeling of
hostility swept over him. Where had he seen that face before? There
were not many persons he remembered unpleasantly. He had been in one
or two student rows with ruffians, who had fared badly as a rule and
the boys at Old Brighton had it in for a disagreeable fellow who was
even opposed to their speaking above a whisper when they passed his
place in the town. The face he had just seen was not one of these.
Well, there was more big work cut out ahead and he would think over
this question later. Yet the matter kept returning to his mind in
spite of the battle sounds and sights, among which they soon came at
close quarters.

“I can’t understand one thing:” Billy remarked, as they sped on.
“Why is the shooting so at random? Just look at the shells that have
landed all around us, in the fields, in the roads, almost everywhere,
doing no real damage, except to stir up the ground, hitting hardly
anyone. It looks like fool business to me.”

“And when you think how much one of these shells costs and how
much must be paid for a hundred rounds of cartridges fired by a
machine-gun, no wonder they say that it costs a good many thousands
of dollars for every man that gets hit,” Don offered.

“Well, if it costs so much I wish they’d save those that come
my way. I’d just as lief treat even the Huns more economically!”
declared Billy.

Don had to laugh, though at the moment they were approaching again
the old farm house, now torn to pieces, where the Hun airman had
dropped his bomb but an hour before. Billy also noticed it and asked
Don to stop.

“Couldn’t we go in and see, Don? It will be solemn enough, but we can
be sure they’re all--they’re not suffering.”

The boys alighted and rounded the house once more, stepping over
broken bits of stone and mortar and twisted framing. Billy was ahead
and he took but one glance and turned about.

“Beyond doubt. They had at least their wish not to suffer.” He
uttered the words like a funeral benediction, and followed Don back.
As they were about to emerge from the trellised gateway the other Red
Cross ambulance shot by, the occupants, no doubt, supposing those in
the boys’ car had stopped here for a drink. Again Don caught sight of
the driver of that car. Instantly it came to the boy who the fellow
must be. The recognition was quite complete--and startling.

Don stood in the road, looking after the speeding car. Billy’s
thoughts were upon other matters. The ambulance ran on until almost
out of sight. Then suddenly, instead of turning across toward the
dressing station at the western edge of the woods, it veered to the
east across fields and ran down a slope to a clump of bushes and low
trees where it stopped. The boy wondered if there could a dressing
station at that spot.

“Don, if you can go on just this once without me, I’d like to stay
and bury that poor old couple and the little girl. It seems horrible
to let them lie there, exposed, uncared for, as though they had no
friends. What do you say?”

“All right, Billy you stay. I can make the trip alone. They’ll help
me with the _blessés_ at the station and at the hospital too. If
anything does happen to me--should I get hit--you couldn’t help much
until you got the hang of running over such roads. And say, Billy,
you can do something else: when you hear a car going back take a peep
and if it’s those fellows that just went by, observe them, will you?
If you see them coming, go out and stop them and ask who they are,
you can let on you’re making a report. I’m just curious. Tell you
why later. G’bye! I’ll stop for you on the next trip down.”

Don dashed on, reached the dressing station without mishap, took on
two wounded _poilus_ and one Yank; they sped back.

Billy quickly found a garden spade an went to work with all his might
so as to complete his gruesome task. The ground was soft beneath
a wide-spreading apple tree just showing signs of blossoming; a
sweet-voiced bird sang the while in the branches above, and this was
the only requiem the old couple and the little child should know, as,
wrapped carefully in sheets rescued from the destroyed house, they
filled the one grave.

The tender-hearted youth’s eyes were wet while he labored for the
poor souls who deserved a better burial than this. When the grave
was filled he made a rude cross of boards and wrote on it a simple
inscription, a tribute from his own gentle heart.

This was the best the boy could do. The little bird still sang its
cheery ditty overhead. He turned away with a sigh and said, half
aloud:

“I wonder what Father would think of me now. He wouldn’t believe it
possible of his youngest boy he used to call ‘a silly, girl-like
thing.’ I couldn’t blame him then, but now--well, he’ll change his
mind about me if I go back--that is, _if_ I get back.”

Then Billy heard a car approaching and slipped out front to take a
look, as Don had requested. It was the army ambulance returning. But
where was the other Red Cross ambulance?

Well, Don would not be here again for perhaps half an hour yet.
There would be time to slip along the road and get a glimpse of the
other car. Then he might give his pal even more information than he
expected.

The clump of bushes was not more than three hundred yards from the
farm road and if there was a dressing station there Billy would find
it out--the information might be of value. To keep out of sight of
Hun airmen, should they fly overhead, the youth followed close to
the line of low evergreen trees that skirted the road and when he
reached the end of these but stood still within their welcome shadow,
he gazed across at the clump. In all this section of land north of
the distant woods and between where the American regiment in reserve
on the cross-road was stationed, there were no troops. Evidently
it was not a spot where the Huns could break through because of the
strongly entrenched positions of the Allies facing them. There had
been some Hun raids and some Allied counter-attacks, platoons of
Americans fighting beside the French--hence the wounded. But the
Germans had not succeeded in pushing their line any farther than the
western outskirts of the small village of Cantigney, another half
mile east of this ground. Here had come to an end the German drive
around Montdidier, a part of the Amiens offensive during the early
spring, which is called the first great drive of 1918. The effort to
take Amiens, a few miles to the north, was to meet defeat about two
weeks later. And meanwhile the great armies intrenched themselves,
crouching like lions at bay. They almost ceaselessly growled with
their numerous artillery and every little while kept up the clawing
and biting through local raids and counter-attacks, adding constantly
to the wounded and the dead.

It was strange, Billy thought, if there should be a dressing station
here. He had been told that the stream, the south fork of the Avre,
bent here to the west and that the German positions followed the
river at this point. Therefore, while the Allied reinforcement was
stronger against attack, the Huns had made themselves stronger also,
to match their opponents and the local fights were all the fiercer,
therefore making the wide expanse of low land sloping toward the
stream subject to continual bombardment from higher and overplaced
shot and shell. It was across this area that the ambulances were
forced to travel from the dressing stations in the shelter of the
hillside woods beyond. That was dangerous enough without the further
exposure of a dressing station, even in a well covered _abri_, or
dugout, to this zone of flying shells.

But what could the men with this ambulance be about for such a length
of time, when they were probably sent to the other dressing station
to bring away the wounded? Surely they had met with some urgent call
here. Billy pondered. Might he not go over and aid them?

He started on a swift trot and had covered more than half the
distance in less than half a minute when a thing occurred that made
him drop to a walk, watching, wondering. Out of a thicket a tiny puff
of white smoke rose in jets, as though measured by time; two close
together, then four, then two, then six, then one, then six again and
2-6-6-3-2-6-4-4-2-6-3 and so on for another half minute. By that time
Billy had stopped. Was it mere instinct that made him dodge back of a
wide bush and peer through its budding branches?

Again the funny little jets of white smoke. Why were they doing
this--these Red Cross men? There was the ambulance itself, in plain
sight, by the edge of the thicket and, moreover, a Red Cross sign had
been raised on a pole above the low trees.

Billy’s eyes rapidly scanned the surroundings. A line of trees on
the slope toward the south shut off the thicket from the view of the
woods and the low ground here could not well be seen by the reserves
back on the cross-road. It seemed a place that might be well chosen
for isolation, if desired. And high in air, far over the enemy’s
trenches, a Hun observation balloon could be plainly seen against the
white, cumulus clouds.

Billy gazed at this object long and keenly. He could distinctly
discern the basket beneath it; he could detect a certain movement of
something white going up and down, up and down several times and then
a pause; then several times again. While this was going on the puffs
of white smoke from the thicket were not forthcoming. Then, when the
white thing at the balloon ceased to move, the puffs began again.

What did all this mean? Could there be any connection between the
thicket and the balloon--the little puffs of white smoke and the
movements of that white thing by the basket in the sky?

Well, he was going to find out, anyway. There seemed to be nothing
else he could do that would straighten out the mystery in his own
mind. And so he again trotted forward direct toward the thicket,
still watching the balloon. Suddenly he grasped the truth. There
were two upward sweeps of white in the sky and instantly the little
puffs ceased again. The two men, wheeling about, their heads above
the bushes, saw Billy and began to beckon him. Fearless, probably
without any misgivings regarding himself, he went on to join them.
One pointed to the balloon and said something about it and Billy
gazed at it again, entirely off his guard. Suddenly he ceased to
see anything; he only tossed his arms feebly in air and sunk to the
ground in a crumpled heap. In front of him the long, thin-faced,
narrow-eyed driver of the car seized again a queer looking instrument
and began quickly to shoot up more of the little smoke puffs. Back of
the fallen youth stood the helper, holding a heavy iron rod in his
hand. He made a quick, excited remark to the driver in German.



CHAPTER XI

“GONE WEST”


Once again along the farm road came Don’s ambulance. It reached the
old farm house and stopped. He called loudly for Billy Mearns. There
was no answer and Don rose in his seat to go and look for his pal,
and to witness the good work he had done here. Always alert, he
glanced about. He had not met the other Red Cross ambulance again.
Was it still in the low ground by the thicket?

It was, and the men there were moving about. Don stood watching them
for a moment. He saw a slender figure, one that he surely recognized
as that of Billy Mearns, crossing the field toward the thicket. He
saw two men within the clump and when Billy reached the bushes and
passed among them Don saw one of the men lift his arm as if he were
pointing.

Then, for an instant, Don’s heart seemed to stand still, for he saw
the other man who had been in the clump of bushes raise his arm,
holding some sort of weapon and strike the slender figure down.

The army ambulance at this moment was also coming along the farm
house lane. The driver and helper had been watching the German
observation balloon and its strange movements. When they reached the
high knoll they, too, stopped to see if this might mean signaling to
the enemy. The American driver’s helper was a _poilu_ who had been
wounded at the first battle of the Marne in 1914 and long experience
in the ways of the Huns had taught him to be suspicious of everything
unusual. He knew that the means of communication between a captive
balloon and the divisional commander was by telephone and such
signaling as this must be to those that a wire could not reach. In
broken English he shouted excitedly:

“Behold! Zat ess eet, in ze booshes zere, over ze field! Puff, puff,
puff; behold! We have heem, _m’sieu’_! An we capture heem now purty
queek; right off, eh?”

The Yank was about to send the car forward again when his companion
stopped him with another exclamation which made it worth while
pausing a moment longer for a better view.

“Ha, look! Zee balloon, eet seegnal ze enemy, _m’sieu’_! Ha, he come!
He come queek; he go fast! Ha! Somesing doing now!” The Frenchman
had caught this last expression from his American friend. “An eet
ees ze _Croix Rouge_ car, ze other wan. He but young boy. An’ he
fire; ha, he too has--what you say? catched on to ze seegnalers. But,
_m’sieu’_, will not they reseest heem?”

The two were on their feet now, gazing with all eyes, excited. So
they remained for some time--the Yank with clenched fists, the
_poilu_ rubbing his hands together. Then, as if at a signal, they
both dropped into their seats and the ambulance rushed again along
the by-way. Halt an hour later, with but one wounded man and a Red
Cross driver, unhurt, sitting beside him, the army ambulance drew up
to the evacuation hospital tent. In answer to the curt query of the
Major, the driver excused himself for bringing in only one man.

“You see, sir, we thought it was no more than fair, after what they
had both done--discovered those Heinies inside our lines signaling to
the boche balloon and it signaling back to them. This fellow inside
that got his must have landed on ’em first, afoot, and they did him
up. Then the young chap, he went ’em one better and I never seen a
prettier fight. We seen it from the little hill.”

“Did the German spies get away?” asked the surgeon.

“Only one did, and I think he’ll get stopped. They must have seen it
from the woods. He made a run fer his car and jumped into it; it’s
the speediest thing ever, I reckon. He was out of sight quicker’n a
scared cootie, going for the woods. But the kid he got the other one;
the one, he says, that hit the pink-cheeked lad.”

“How did he get him?”

“Shot him. Let him have it like Pete the Plugger would ’a’ done.
Yes, sir! The kid’s car run right along to about fifty yards of the
bushes where they was hid and the kid jumped out; right off they
began shootin’ at him and he pulls a gun out of his Red Cross car as
calm and as deliberate as if he was after prairie chicken and knowed
he was goin’ to get ’em, and commenced shootin’. They skinned for
their car and one of ’em gets in and gets her goin’, but the other
one he turns round to take another shot at the kid who was kneelin’
down and lettin’ ’em have it proper and the feller keels over and the
one in the car he skids off. I reckon the kid he jest about filled
that there car full of lead, but the feller he got away, though if he
wasn’t hurt it’s a wonder!”

“The lad is sure one scrapper, eh?” The surgeon was much tickled and
slapped his leg at the realistic narrative of the ambulancier.

“He is, Major; all of that!” continued the soldier. “For a kid, or
for a veteran, for that matter, he is some boy with a gun! And he
showed pluck, too, when we got there. You see, we seen and heard them
Hun gas shells comin’ over--that there Hun balloon give the range, I
reckon--and we heard the gongs, too, but we reckoned the kid, bein’
so excited over the fight, didn’t get on to it, so the only thing to
do was to get there right quick and you bet we did! Here was this
one dead Hun with the Red Cross on his sleeve--the feller that the
kid shot--and in the bushes was the kid bendin’ over the feller what
them Huns had knocked in the head, and the gas from two busted shells
a sneakin’ up on ’em lively. We had on our masks and we started to
grab him and get him away. He hadn’t saw us ner heard us come and he
turned round on me with a drawed pistol, so’s I thought it was all
off sure. But the kid knowed us and didn’t shoot. We yelled ‘gas’ at
him and what did he do? Run to his car off there and get his mask?
Never a bit of it! He jest sez to us: ‘help me with this feller to my
car,’ he sez. ‘I’ve got two masks there, his’n and mine’ he sez. So I
sez: ‘this way’s quicker; make tracks fer our car, young feller!’ and
I picked up the insensible feller and run with him to our car and the
kid follered, and we got away from the gas. The kid he begged us to
get here quick, or his pal might die and so that’s why we come back
with only one.”

“Well, all right; excused, of course,” said the Major.

“Now we’re off, back up there, Major, and we’ll try to make up fer--”

“It isn’t lost time, or it wouldn’t be if we could save that lad’s
life. Well, anyway--but you’d better wait a moment and I’ll get the
kid, as you call him--Richards--to go back with you and get his car.”

The chief entered the tent and wended his way quickly down the long
aisle, between the rows of brown cots, many of which held wounded
men, he stopped here and there for a word of encouragement, of
advice, or to answer a question. Reaching the farther end he stood
for a moment, looking down at a white-faced figure lying very inert
beneath the blanket and at another sitting, with his face in his
hands, beside the cot. A woman nurse, rather young, with wonderfully
gentle eyes, passed softly and whispered to the Major.

“He feels it terribly; we don’t often see such grief, though he is
not of the loud weeping kind.”

The Major nodded and, stooping forward, laid his hand on the shoulder
of the figure in the chair.

“Come, Richards. No use sitting here; there is much to do; much.
Getting away on duty will make you feel better.”

Don looked up with a face that was drawn with sorrow.

“But, Doctor, suppose he comes to and asks for me? You are sure that
he can’t get well?”

The doctor assented by a nod. “He cannot recover,” was his brief
remark, uttered more feelingly than usual with this man of long,
hard experience. Then he added with his usual attention to duty on
his mind:

“He may become conscious later on. I’ll let you know. After you get
your car and bring in the next bunch you must run down to your base
and report. They must assign you another helper. I have sent your
description of the German signal man to headquarters and to the P. C.
at the front of the woods section--I think they’ll get him. And I’ll
send a note by you, telling what good work you did.”

With the idea uppermost that it was his first duty to play the part
of a good soldier in the work he had enlisted to do, Don got up to
join the army ambulance. Two hours later, in his own car and at its
best speed, he was returning from the Red Cross base. The man beside
him began to think himself most unlucky to have been assigned to
duty with this dare-devil of a driver, who spoke hardly a word and
seemed not to care if they were presently piled in a heap and both
killed. Around, past and in between lorries, trucks, ambulances, big
guns being hauled to the front and marching men they dashed. When the
evacuation hospital was again reached the young driver left the car
with but a word to the new man, requesting him to wait, and was gone
a long half hour.

“He has asked for you,” said the nurse to Don. “His mind seems to be
clear and he is not suffering, but the shock was too great. It has
caused some immediate heart trouble and with the loss of blood--the
Major can explain. Go right over and speak to the poor boy.”

Don did so, almost in despair, but he was determined not to show it.
Billy must get well; if there was anything in his thinking so, then
he must be given every chance. And so Don met his pal with a smile.

“Hello, Billy! Feeling better? Soon be all right, I--”

“No, no! Don, the--nurse told me all about it, what you did and what
you did for me, too. Don--we--we have only known each other--how
long, Don?”

“Why, three whole days, Billy. But we’ll know each other al---”

“Listen, Don. I know. Don’t try to fool me. No use. West--I’m
going--West. Pretty soon, too. A message, to my father and mother
and brother, Don. Will you write it? I got the nurse to write this
to introduce you to them, and to bid them good-bye. Then I only
want you to write him a letter about me--a little. Can you tell
them, Don, that I was not a coward--that I was not very much afraid
that--I tried to do my duty? Don’t tell them a lie--but--but if you
could truthfully say something like that it will please them. Do you
understand?”

Don could not trust his voice, but he nodded his head with very
evident determination and, unlike anything he had ever done before,
placed his hand over that of Billy’s and held it. It was not a
boylike act, but it seemed as though they were no longer boys, but
creatures of profound and heart-stirring sentiment. The soft, droning
voice of the dying youth ceased a little; then began again with
halting, sometimes difficult speech.

“Father will be pleased, Don, and know he will do as I request.
But you are not to open and read the note the nurse wrote for me.
You told me, Don--it was the first day--that you would like to go
to college when you get through Prep, but that your father could
never afford it with so many other boys to raise and educate. But if
someone who cared a lot for you, compelled you to accept the money,
then you would, Don, wouldn’t you? Please, please, say yes, Don--if
we have been friends. That’s good--good. Tell me, Don--what school do
you go to--now--when--you go--at home?”

“Brighton.” Don just managed to pronounce the word.

“Don! Brighton! Oh--you didn’t tell me that before. Brighton--was my
school, too, Don. Class of--1915. And you--Don--too! Well the good
old school will have reason to be proud--of you!”

“Of you--of you, Billy!”

“Perhaps so, if--if I could have--lived--gone on doing things--tried
to be--Don, ask the nurse to come here--or the--Major. I guess--I
guess--”

The boy’s face had suddenly grown whiter, if that were possible, and
a deathly pallor came over it. Don went quickly to do as Billy asked.
The nurse came to the bedside of the young man. She bent over him for
what seemed a long while--a minute or more. Then she turned to Don.

“Going,” she said. “He called your name again. Perhaps he can hear
you.” The nurse made way.

“Billy, dear Billy, I--I’m here,” Don said, his lips close to his
pal’s ear. A faint smile came over the patient’s face and then it
became rigid. With a light heart Billy Mearns “went West.”



CHAPTER XII

TIM


Don Richards’ new helper on the Red Cross ambulance was an
under-sized, red-headed Irishman by the name of Tim Casey. He was
a month or two short of nineteen winters and, as he expressed it,
an undetermined number of summers, but judging by the bleached-out
color of his hair, which he assured Don was originally as black as a
nigger’s pocket, there must have been a long siege of sunny months.
County Kerry was his birthplace and his native village was noted for
its big men, his own father being almost a walking church steeple
and his numerous brothers all six-footers. Tim was the only short
one--“the runt in the litter,” he called himself.

“But if yez are proper anxious to know an’ ye look loike ye couldn’t
survive the day out wid not knowin’ all o’ me fam’ly histhry, Oi’ll
tell yez this: Phw’at was left out o’ me body was put in me head, do
yez moind? for by the holy Saint Macherel, Oi’m the smartest o’ the
bunch. Me faither’s poorer than whin he was born, an’ me brithers
couldn’t foind pennies if they growed on the grass. But me? Faith, if
wan o’ these here boche zizzers don’t have me name wrote on it, thin
whin the war’s over Oi’m goin’ to America an’ make a million pounds,
loike me friend Mike McCarty did!”

“Good for you! That’s nearly five million dollars. Hope you get it,”
said Don.

“Thanks. Could yez lend me phw’at they call two francs, now, to git
us both some sweet, brown, mushy things, loike candy, but diff’runt?
It’s me own treat, now.”

“Chocolate? Sure. Here you are. You can get them at the Y. M. C. A.
hut in an _abri_ back of the woods and near our dressing station,”
Don informed him, and a little later the two lads were enjoying
mouthfuls of very satisfying sweetness, as they waited for more
wounded to be brought out to them. And as they waited Don turned to a
sentry to ask some questions. The sentry was glad to impart:

“The P. C. came over a little while ago and I heard him tell the
medical sergeant, here in the doorway, that they had a message from
the evacuation hospital about a Hun in a Red Cross ambulance getting
away around the woods here. The man I relieved said he saw the fellow
go past, and he went a whizzing, but he didn’t question him; nobody
does anything with the Red Cross on it. The P. C. said that they
hadn’t seen hide nor hair of the man, nor the ambulance, since and
they think he must have been heading for another sector. He can rip
off his red crosses there and let on he’s something else important.
They do those stunts. But if he’s caught, it’s good-night for him!”

Don was keenly disappointed. He had sent some very well directed
bullets straight after the escaping car, but they must have hit the
sides at an angle and glanced off. However cold-blooded and murderous
it appeared thus to shoot down a man, even a declared and vicious
enemy, the boy had done this deed against one who had murdered his
dear pal, Billy Mearns. Moreover, Don had wanted to write to his
father and to Mr. Stapley, at home, that the escaped man who had
helped to blow up the mills had been discovered and accounted for.
Don felt sure that this fake Red Cross driver and spy was the same
man--the narrow-eyed, tall individual that he and Clem Stapley had
spotted and listened to on the train coming from Brighton, more than
three months ago.

Now that the German spy had escaped again, he would surely turn
up somewhere else and do more harm. Like his bearded confederate
at Lofton, he could probably speak English and American English
perfectly, and no doubt he knew French also, for these spies were of
that sort--sharp-witted, brainy, learned scoundrels!

“He will try, yes, no doubt, but it will amount to very little. What
can he do?” replied the sentinel to whom Don made his pessimistic
remark.

“Are yez on to this?” said Tim Casey. “The Limburgers are a very
smart bunch, yis; in many ways, yiz; but, me b’y, they’re awful
stupid, do yez see? These here Huns are loike parrots. They’re windy
imitators, ye see, but bad ’cess to thim, they got no real sense.
They don’t know just phw’at they want. A parrot, me b’y, is always
hollerin’ fer a cracker, but did yez iver see it eat wan? Ye did not.”

“By which you mean to say--” began Don.

“Thot the dumb Dutch will do somethin’ crazy sooner er later an’
hang hisself. They jist natchally go round with a rope ready. An
look phw’at they’re doin’ in this war. Preparin’ the thickest koind
of a rope an’ makin’ it good an’ tight around their fool necks be
desthroyin’ iv’rything they come acrost so that whin they have t’ pay
they can’t do it!”

It might seem to one not familiar with the risks of battle that
the work of an army or Red Cross ambulance driver must have been
intolerably monotonous. But such an idea is very far from the truth.
No two journeys afield were alike and so varied was the work and so
soul-stirring the sights and sounds of two great armies facing each
other, with bared fangs, that the part of any kind of an actor in the
war become a terribly real experience.

There was no monotony in this thing for Don Richards, nor doubtless,
for any other ambulance driver in France during the great war, and
our hero could affirm this, especially when a shell, making a direct
hit, carried away all the latter part of his ambulance and burst on
the ground beyond, not forty feet away. Tim and Don were dragged one
way by the impact, a hundredth of a second later tossed, in a heap in
the other direction clear of motor and front wheels, upon a friendly
bit of mud and left to wonder whether the world had come to an end
completely, or was only just beginning to. And yet the boys came
through without a scratch worth mentioning.

Tim Casey worried Don not a little in always being slow with his gas
mask. The boy told his helper that it would serve him right some
time if he got a sore throat from the gas. But the Irishman laughed;
he was really not afraid of anything normal, and abnormal things he
treated with a sort of lenient bluff, cursing them soundly in his
soft Irish brogue and dodging them because it was the habit to do so.

“The sthinkin’ stuff is as vile as the dirthy Huns thot sind it over,
an’ if Oi had the villain thot invinted it Oi’d maul the face off
him, I wud!”

“But suppose he were a big fellow, like some of these Huns are?” Don
asked in jest, to tease his companion.

“Big er little, it don’t matter,” replied Tim. “It ain’t the soize
of a mon thot counts; it’s the spirit of him,” which Don was glad
to admit. And he sized up the little Irishman as one having a large
spirit when it came to a scrap.

And there was the movement of men, of guns big and little,
of airplanes; there were aerial battles, bombings, raids and
counter-attacks, which were seen but little by the ambulance drivers,
but the immediate results were realistic enough. Tim Casey found a
remark or two that fitted every occasion and he declared one fight
even bloodier than an Irish holiday.

“Ah, me b’y, if the bloody gobs in this here scrap had only had
clubs--shillalahs--phw’at wud they done to each ither? If Oi was the
ginral of this outfit, b’gorry, Oi’d sthart out a raidin’ party of
all Irish from County Kerry, give ’em shillalahs an’ the war’d be
over the next day! The kaiser wud call it inhuman, of coorse, an’
right he’d be, but we’d win jist the same.”

“Now, what could clubs do against guns?” Don laughed. “They’d have
you all shot dead before you got near enough to soak them.”

“An wud they? Thin, me b’y, how come they to use bayonets? Tell me
thot.”

“Its a thing I can’t understand and I guess I never will; unless it’s
after the ammunition on both sides gives out that they use them.
Maybe if they’d do away with ammunition in wars shillalahs would be
handier than guns and worse than bayonets.”

“Oi’ll write the C. and C. about thot same,” said Tim.

But whatever frightful atrocities and science had done to make this
war a horror beyond the conception of those who could not witness it,
the most terrible of all was the Hun bombing of hospitals. There was,
as with many other things indulged in by the Germans, nothing gained
by these acts--nothing but deeper exasperation and determination on
the part of those who were forced to fight the Hun. He saw others
through his own shade of yellow and imagined that he could frighten
his foes and lessen their morale that way--but it produced exactly
the opposite effect.

The cross-roads evacuation hospital tents back of the Montdidier
front suffered from German airmen, not many days after the great
German push for Amiens had been stopped. Plainly an act of hatred,
this bombing gained nothing for the Huns. They had lost thousands of
men in killed, wounded and prisoners and wanted the Allies to suffer
still more.

Don and Tim had received but one wounded man from the dressing
station back of the woods on the hill. Looking for additional
wounded, who might be struggling in, they had run around the northern
edge of the woods and a half-mile farther on, near the front line
trenches, when a military policeman rode out from an old orchard and
stopped them.

“Too much noise from that motor of yours and the Heinies are very
wide awake,” he said. “They’ll spot you and be pretty likely to get
you.”

“We hadn’t seen any Hun fliers and we thought they might be generally
keeping quiet,” Don said.

“They are quiet just now, but I reckon it’s just before a storm,”
said the M. P. “That’s the way it usually is. If they suddenly start
to put down a barrage before a drive or a raid you’ll be in for it.
You know a good many of the bullets fly high and pretty nearly half
of them ricochet. You fellows can’t get back of a tree as I and my
horse can. Better go back.”

Tim, who was driving the car, having now become rather proficient at
it, had a word to say, as usual.

“R-right you are, me b’y! We was jist calculatin’ if they sint some
whizzers over to ketch ’em in these here dish pans; do ye see?” And
Tim tapped his helmet. “We’re lookin’ fer sowineers, we are.”

“Oh, yes, you’d stop ’em! If a 122-shell would be coming right for
that topknot of yours it would veer off and go on, hoping to draw
blood where none was already flowing.”

“Faith, an’ how did yez iver git in the sarvice? Ye’re color blind;
me mither dyed me hair blue; can’t ye see it? to offset me too
cheerful disposition.”

“If you told me it was green I might believe you. But on the top of
the green it’s all rufus, Mike, all rufus.”

“Well, misther bobby, it’s all right fer yez. But it’s a fightin’
color; ain’t it?”

“I believe that! But come now, lads; you’d better beat it while your
skins are whole.”

Tim began turning the car. “Sure an’ ye loike t’ give orders. An’
Oi’ll be tellin’ yez this; if a shell comes your way an’ mixes wid
yer anatomy, er yez git overcome wid hard wor-r-rk sett in’ on thot
plug all day ye’ll be hopeful glad t’ see us comin’. So long!”

Not many minutes later the boys reached the hospital and out came the
Major in his long, white blouse. When the _brancardiers_ had carried
the wounded man into the X-ray tent, the chief had a word to say to
the _ambulanciers_ gathered by the roadside.

“Hold yourselves in readiness, boys; we have orders to evacuate at
once; get every man that we can let go out of here and be ready
to pull up stakes at a moment’s notice. That’ll be if the Germans
succeed in advancing. It is believed they are getting ready to make
another push. So, as soon as we list our cases fully as to condition
and treatment, in half an hour’s time, we shall ask you to go get
busy. You had better line up along the road. Those cases in the
first three cars you will report and they’ll go on through to the
convalescent bases, as ordered by the Red Cross commission assistant;
the others will go to the nearest Red Cross base. Now, then, stand
ready boys, and tune up your motors till we call on you for the
stretcher work. We haven’t enough _brancardiers_ to do it quickly.”
The Major re-entered the tent.

Don turned to a fellow-driver and was making a remark when Tim pulled
his sleeve.

“Do yez hear thot coffee grinder comin’?”

From a distance there was the hum of a motor high in air. As it grew
louder, it was easily recognized as a double motor--the unmistakable
sound, never in tune, that giant twin propellers make.

“Sounds like a bombing plane. Ours or the Huns’?” queried a driver,
gazing aloft. The bunch were all doing that now, as a matter of
habit. One chap was squinting through a field glass.

“There she comes out of that cloud! Pretty high up. Say, it’s a
Heinie! What’s he up to? Guns can’t reach him at that elevation, but
_his_ bombs can reach the earth.”

“Going to worry them reserves, I reckon. Where’s the Frog-eaters?
They’ll chase him home if they go up.”

There seemed to be no French birdmen around and the German was
evidently taking advantage of this. He was coming on straight over
the hospital and lessening his height every second. In thirty seconds
he had come down to half the distance from the earth and began to
sweep about in a circle, or like a gigantic figure eight, much as a
great, bloodthirsty hawk does when scanning the earth below for its
prey.

Suddenly, from beneath the airplane the watchers saw something long
and gray which seemed to poise a moment under the airplane, then drop
and gain momentum every fraction of a second, and fall like a plummet
straight for the hospital tent. The watchers, all experienced, knew
well what it was, but any cry of warning was lost in the explosion
that followed not a hundred feet beyond the tent.

“The dirty spalpeen!” Don heard Tim shout. “Come down here wanst an’
thin do it! Gin’ral,”--Tim insisted upon calling Don that--“he’ll
make surer the next time! Come, there’s wor-rk inside!”

There was. Don caught a glimpse of two _ambulanciers_ diving under
their cars, of another running somewhere else, evidently for shelter.
The boy’s ears welcomed the sharp crack, crack of field pieces and
he knew the anti-aircraft were demonstrating their readiness. He got
one more glimpse of the Hun plane over the roof of the tent and saw
another gray thing descending. Then he was inside.

When Don had looked in not two hours before he noted that at least
three-fourths of the cots were occupied, the convalescents walking
slowly about, or seated in little groups, talking; the nurses were
busily engaged. The sad sounds pervading the place were horribly
depressing to him. He could not long endure the labored breathing of
those who were passing over the Great Divide, the persistent coughing
of the severely gassed, the sight of shell-shocked men, who, without
a scratch, cowered and stared about like crazy people, the moaning of
those who suffered and the smell of anesthetics.

But now all was changed. The scene was beyond description. Don was
awake to his duty and eager for it. There must be strong wills and
hands to aid and reassure these helpless fellows. The doctors and
nurses, frightened but heroic, could not do it all.

With a sound like the rending of a thousand taut cords a hole was
torn in the tent roof, the interior was filled with streaks of flame
and smoke and flying objects, a choking odor filled the air with
stinging fumes and through it all came groans, screams and curses
in a hideous melody. Wounded men some with limbs in splints, some
half covered with bandages, leaped or tumbled out of their cots, and
sought imagined shelter anywhere. Some limped or crawled outside.
Some lay still and prayed aloud. Another bomb fell that was a second
clean miss of the main tent, though it struck the corner of the
medical supplies tent and scattered the Major’s personal effects
beyond recovery. Two other bombs came down in quick succession, one
in the road beyond, cutting a hind tire, lifting the top off of the
last ambulance in the line and knocking down two sentries. The fifth
bomb went wild and did no harm. Those who still had their eyes on the
murderous thing aloft saw it turn eastward and rise beyond the reach
of the guns.

There was much work of a very serious nature during the next few
hours and then a night of running back and forth. The first streaks
of a murky dawn witnessed the evacuation hospital nearly empty and
ready for new cases. Two lads in a rain-soaked and mud-bespattered
ambulance, carrying a cheerful soldier whose only need was a week of
rest, stopped by the roadside on the way to Paris--and, with their
passenger’s consent, rolled up in blankets on floor and seat to sleep
the sleep of the just fagged.



CHAPTER XIII

WASH


“My boy, I want to commend you, for your aid when they bombed us last
week. Haven’t had a chance to before. If all of the fellows had been
as cool and as helpful as you and that little, red-headed Irishman
we would have had less trouble straightening things out. I see he is
running his own car now. Who is your helper?” So spoke Major Little,
when he came out of the operating room to get a breath of fresh air,
and said to Don.

“I guess I’ll get a colored chap, if I get any,” the boy replied. “A
lot of new cars have come over and they want men. I can get along
alone. Some of the fellows do.”

“Better to have company. Helps the _morale_. Gives a chance of aid
if one fellow gets hit. Better all round. It is the policy of the
service; but we can’t always get what we want.”

“Glad you didn’t have to move after all, Doctor.”

“No, but the expectation now is that the move will come farther
north--against the British. Or it may be to the south. If so, some of
you fellows will have to be transferred to that sector and it will
give us a little rest here.”

“I guess you won’t be sorry, sir. You have worked hard.”

“Yes, pretty hard--right along. We of the Medical Department and of
the Red Cross got into it before our fighters did. But the time has
come now.”

“I’d like to see some of our boys get busy in a big way. I wish I
could have joined the army.”

“Your work is fully as important--and daring--and useful. And,
remember this, it is far more humane. You’ve no right to feel
dissatisfied.”

“I’m not, Major--not a bit of it. You may count on me! Are there any
more _blessés_ to go down now?”

The Americans had begun to take part in the fighting. They had begun
to do things in a small way, but this seemed to cause very little
stir in France, except among those who had knowledge of the sterling
character of the boys from the United States. The French commonly
knew nothing actually. They saw nothing to make them think they were
any more than a staunch-looking lot of fellows, many of whom needed
a lot of drilling in modern warfare before they could hope to turn
the tide of battle. There had been little evidence, so far, of this
aid materializing, and even the most optimistic _poilus_ had begun to
doubt and to question. They had become a trifle fed up on American
promises and they now wondered if the Yanks really meant to fight in
a large way, or had come over only to skirmish and to bolster up the
courage of the Allies by remaining in reserve.

True, the Americans had done a little commendable fighting, aided
by the British and the French. Brigaded with the “Tommies” they had
taken some hard knocks above Amiens. Brigaded with the French they
had helped hold the Germans around Montdidier, but what could they do
on a large scale that would really count? Were they actually going to
be a factor in war?

Well, these questions were to be answered shortly, but would the
result allay all doubt in the minds of all the anxious ones? The
Americans were arriving upon the field of battle in rapidly
increasing numbers. They had come across three thousand miles of
water in spite of the German submarines. Was it like those vigorous
inhabitants of the greatest country on earth, to hold back now in the
great contest?

Spring had arrived. It was past the middle of April. The grass was
newly green. The fruit trees were coming into blossom and the foliage
was beginning to bud. The birds were singing everywhere, even amidst
the desolate scenes of battle. Except where the shells and shrapnel
of the opposing armies had torn the ground and battered the forests,
there was the peacefulness over all and beauty of the new life of the
season. Even now not far back from the fighting front of the Allies,
some daring tillers of the soil were making ready to plant their
crops.

But alternating with the days of balmy stillness came the rains--days
and days when the whole face of nature was like a vast mop, soaked
to fullness, dripping and cold. And when it rained it did nothing
but rain. It had become almost an icy drizzle on the twentieth and
the soldiers in the trenches, those bivouacking in the open and the
homeless refugees who had fled before the German advance, were
correspondingly miserable. It was, as in the winter months, a time
for greatcoats, dry footwear, if such were possible, and the making
of fires wherever fuel was to be had.

Don Richards was ready with every handy means to meet the intolerable
weather conditions, and his new helper, Washington White, the
blackest darky and one of the best natured that ever exposed a
wide row of ivories. Washington fairly hugged himself because luck
had thrown him in with a lad who had camped and roughed it through
wild country and knew nearly every trick of out-of-door life, from
vacation experiences with his Boy Scout troop, and from camping out
with the Brighton biology class.

“Wha--wha--what we gwine tuh du now, Mist’ Donal’? Ain’t a-gwine tuh
stay yer; is we? In all dis slop o’ mud?”

“Just that!” Don replied. “No more mud here than everywhere else.
I guess the whole world is one big puddle by the way things look,
except perhaps the Desert of Sahara or the American bad lands. This
is as good a spot to put up in for the night as anywhere that I know
of--in this part of the earth, anyhow.”

“But wha’s de matter wif gwine on back tuh de hospital?”

“No place there. You know they’ve asked us to give up our quarters
for a while to some new nurses just come over, and we’ve got to be
polite to the ladies. The orders have been all along that if we were
empty and night shut down on us on the road, to bunk anywhere and go
on in the morning, with that much time gained. Every minute counts
these days. Get the matches under the seat there, will you? And
there’s a bottle of coal-oil wrapped in a rag by the tool box. Reach
down that camp hatchet.”

“But, lawsee, Mist’ Donal’, we’d be somewhar’s en’ a roof en’ have
lights en’ a wahm meal---”

“Say, forget it! Haven’t we got the roof of the car? And haven’t
we got a light,” pointing to the one lighted lamp of the car, “and
as for a warm meal--oh, boy! I’ll make you think you’re at the
Waldorf-Astoria when I get to frying this good old American bacon and
these French eggs. You ought to be doing it, really, but the next
time’ll be your turn. Now then, chase around for some wood!”

“B-r-r-r! Dis road’s awful dahk en’ de wood’ll be all wet’s a wet
hen, en’ say, Mist’ Donal’, wid all dem sojers kickin’ de bucket back
yondah en’ off dere in dem trenches en’ de amberlances chasin’ back
en’ fo’th wid deaders--say, lawsee, Ah’s plum scairt ’bout projectin’
roun’ dis--”

“Aw, go on, you superstitious simp! The wood won’t be wet inside if
it isn’t rotten. Don’t be a coward. Why, boy, you tell me you’re not
going to be afraid of bullets and shells and bombs and gas. Aren’t
they worse than people already dead? You make me tired. Go chase--!”

“But shells is jes’ shells en’ bullets is jes’ bullets en’ all dat,
but dese yere deaders may be ghos’ses. Lawsee, man! Ef one o’ dem
t’ings ’d rise up en’ grab yo’--ooh!”

“Say, you weren’t cut out for this kind of work, Wash. What are you
going to do when we’ve got to haul some dead people, or when some
poor chap dies on the way in? I’ve had three do that with me so far
and it may happen right along. See here, if you want to stay with me
you’ve got to be sensible and brave. There’s no such thing as ghosts
and the only thing about a dead person is that it’s awful to think
they’ve had to be killed. Are you going after--?”

“Yes, suh; yes, suh! Ah’ll git de wood, ef dere is any. Ah reckon Ah
ain’t so much scairt as Ah let on! Ah reckon Ah ain’t.”

“You’d better not be scared at anything if you want to stay with
this outfit. This is no coward’s job, Washington. And say, with that
name of yours, now, you oughtn’t to be afraid of the whole German
army, even if they were all dead. George Washington wasn’t afraid of
anything. Is your first name George?”

“Ah reckon ’tis, but Ah doan’ know fo’ shuah. Mah mammy allus jes’
call me Wash er Washington. No, suh, dat man Ah’s name fo’ wasn’t no
coward. Ah’ll git de wood, but Ah’ll take de hatchet.”

But Wash had become more reconciled to a camp in a soggy field by the
time he had set his teeth into the bacon, several boxes of which,
with other good things, filled a grub box in the car. Then, warmed by
a fire that roared in spite of the drizzling rain and mist, and later
rolled in a thick army blanket on the bottom of the ambulance, the
darky’s snores soon gave evidence that ghosts were haunting him no
longer.

The morning dawned with lifting mists and a breeze that was making
a counterdrive to chase away the enemy clouds in order to let the
peaceful sunlight through. Don, while lighting the fire, planning the
breakfast and prodding Wash to get up and cook it, felt much better
for the change.

“Hump yourself, you lazy snorefest you, and just look at the battle
going on out here!”

That had the effect of hastily arousing Wash. Not even the promise of
a crap game is dearer to one of his kind than a scrap of this sort.

“Whar-whar’s de fight? Ah doan’ heah no shootin’!”

“See those Hun clouds?” enthused Don. “Well, that west wind comes
straight from good old America and it’s making the boches hustle.”

“Lawsee! Ah reckon you-all’s done got ’em! Wha-whar’s dat bacon en’
dem aigs. Yo’ jes’ watch me git up one breakfas’ dat’ll fetch roun’
yo’ senses! Golly! Heah dat?”

They both heard. A rumbling noise coming rapidly nearer along the
road. Wash thought it might be the Germans, but Don assured him that
was impossible. The Americans were on the job now. There was further
evidence of this at hand, for out of the dispelling mists came a
yellow touring car closely followed by a gigantic khaki-colored
lorry, or camion. Right back of that another and another, and more,
and still more until the road was filled, farther than the eye could
see, with the steadily moving line. Each big vehicle was filled with
soldiers.

Don had seen a crest on the leading touring car. He knew this bunch
of men, for it had been whispered from mouth to mouth at the Red
Cross base hospital that the marines were on their way from westward
training camps.

“Our engineers up there with General Carney showed the Huns what kind
of stuff the Americans are made of,” one official had said. “Trust
the marines for driving that down the Germans throats--when they get
at it!”

That was it: when they got at it. But when were they to get at it?
Was French official red tape in the way, or was it that the British
and French generals feared to trust the untried Americans too far?
Must a desperate need arise to make an actual test of the Americans?

The boys stood by their car, waving their hats at the men in passing,
and many a wave of arms they got back. Many a good-natured jibe was
exchanged between the lorries and the ambulance.

“Hurrah! Go to it, you blood drinkers!” shouted Don.

“That’s the stuff, buddy! It’s sauerkraut in Berlin for us before
we’re done!”

“We’re goin’ to give Fritzy fits!” roared another marine.

“How do you like cruising on land?” asked Don of another carload.

“Can’t see much difference between this country now and the good, old
ocean!” was the rejoinder.

“One’s as wet as the other!”

“An’ ye can’t drink either of ’em!” shouted a third.

“Oh, look at the coon!” called a private in another camion.

“Say, nig, lost, ain’t yu? I reckon yu ol’ mammy’s jes’ cryin’ huh
eyes out fo’ huh little Alabama coon!”

“Huh! Ah reckon yu-all frum down Souf, too; eh, soljah man?” yelled
Wash.

“I am that! Georgia! But everything goes just the same over here!”

“Say, a darky! Wonder these Frog-eaters haven’t got him in a cage!
rarity over here!” The fourth camion contingent were impressed.

“Well, I bet our Red Cross friend there has to eat his share of hog
fat and hoe cake!”

This went on for a good three-quarters of an hour until the last
lorry had passed. Then the lads turned to a hasty breakfast.

“They’re the marines, Wash; the Fifth and Sixth Regiments. You know
they have a slogan in the Navy: ‘a marine never retreats’.”

“In de Navy. What dem sojahs doin’ in de Navy?”

“They’re the soldiers attached to battle-ships. They fight on land
when needed, and I guess they’re going to be needed here!”

“Did yu-all know enny of ’em pussonel, Mist’ Donal’? Ah seed yo’
lookin’ lak yo’ was gwine ter call a feller in one o’ de las’ cars be
name, en’ he look at yo’ so’t o’ queeah, too.”

“Yes, I happen to know one of them, Wash. You are some observer. He’s
a chap from my home town. His name’s Clement Stapley. He joined the
marines before I left home. But I hardly think he knew me, Wash.”

“Yes, Ah t’ink he done knowed yo’, frum de look awn his face. But
mebbe he wa’n’t quite shuah. Why’n’t yu-all holler at him en’ pass
de time o’ day an’ yell how he is?”

“Oh, well, you see, we were not such very good friends, and I was
afraid he might still feel sore at me. Maybe I’ll get a chance to see
him again. Well, come on; we’ve got to be going. There’s a lot of
work ahead.”



CHAPTER XIV

SHIFTED


The battle sector southeast of Amiens and around Mondidier became
quiet during the latter part of April and early May, and, true to
Major Little’s predictions, he and the force under him had not much
to do. There was still some local fighting. It would not be modern
warfare without. Each side sought almost constantly to harass the
other and to impress its enemy with its power and readiness. Still,
there were a few casualties, so that the dressing stations, and
operating room in the evacuation hospital were not idle, and a few
ambulances were making almost continuous trips up and down the
well-traveled highway.

Not far back of the road from Paris to Amiens the newly-begun
American graveyard, with its regular cross-headboards, had grown
somewhat. Its mounds were often decorated with roses, field poppies
and wild flowers laid on them by the tenderhearted natives, mostly
children. It was such sights, together with those of the ruined
homes and shell-torn cities within reach of the German guns, that
made the beholder pause and wonder how it was that humankind could
permit war and its horrors.

The so-called second German drive of 1918 had been launched along
the river Lys against Ypres and toward the Channel ports in early
April. But it had proved a failure. The firm stand of the British
wore out and finally stopped the Huns. Then, more and more furious
at these repeated checks, the German High Command, with Hindenburg
and Ludendorff at the head, shifted their offensive toward the south.
If the British lion could not be separated from his ally, the French
eagle, and slain at once then perhaps a supreme effort would gain the
road to Paris. The threatened destruction of that city would surely
bring victory to Germany and thus enable the kaiser to impose “peace
at any price” upon the Allies.

Therefore, on the last day of April began the strengthening of the
German line from Noyon to Rheims and a consequent push around Noyon.
But the Huns made no progress and once more gnashed their teeth in
preparation for a desperate onslaught. It was planned that this
should break through at the long coveted points nearest their first
objective, the city of Paris.

Just as the storm broke along the Oise and the Marne rivers, there
came a surprise to the British, French and Germans. To the Huns it
was like a thunderbolt out of a clear sky.

The Americans, under French direction, backed by French artillery,
went over the top from hastily dug trenches, and made a
counter-attack at Cantigny, which threw the enemy back nearly a mile.
The Yanks, at the end of May, still held their positions, against the
Huns most violent attacks.

Coming up the Paris-Amiens road on a bright morning--the first day
of June--Don and Wash, carrying additional supplies for the dressing
stations back of Cantigny, met a long line of yellow American
lorries--no new thing now, but fraught with deep significance.

“The marines again, Wash--our marines--going south. I bet they’re
ordered into the fight. You heard what the assistant to our
commissioner said to Surgeon-Major Brown: ‘There’s likely to be
some hard work stopping the Heinies on the road out there east of
Paris’--the road” Don explained, the Major said “to a place they call
Rheims. The Huns have got as far as the river Marne, and that’s where
they were in 1914. But I’ll bet they don’t get much farther--not if
our boys are going into it!”

“Is dey enny cullud sojahs in de fight?” asked Wash.

“I guess not right at this place, but I think there are, somewhere
along the line. Someone told me so--a regiment or more of them.”

“Well, den, what dey wants tuh do is jes’ give ’em some razzors ’en
say tu ’em: ‘Look-a-yer, yo’ niggahs, dese yer Germans ain’t no real
white folks--dat is real qual’ty--dey is jes’ po’ whites ’en no
’count ’en dey hates niggahs. Now den, go in ’en carve ’em up!’ Sho,
man, dey wouldn’t be no German army in ’bout fo’ minutes.”

“Why, that’s right, Wash! Great idea! I’m going to see General
Pershing about that. Or, say, how would it do to tell those colored
soldiers that every Heinie’s a brother to a ’possum, or that a
great big flock of fat chickens is roosting low over in the German
trenches! Wouldn’t they drop down on those Huns and scare ’em to
death?”

“Aw, gwan, you’s kiddin’ me, yo’ is! Say, ain’t we gwine tuh stop
somewhar’s ’en see dese marines go by an’ holler at ’em lak we
done--?”

“No, indeed. We’ve got to go on and get back,” said Don. “Orders are
to report near LaFerté, to a French officer. The evacuation hospitals
down there are all French, I guess. And now all the army down there
is French, too, I expect, so we’ll bring in their wounded mostly. But
if our boys--”

“Does dese yer Frenchers all yell an’ hollah when dey’s hurt bad?”
Wash asked. So far he had seen but two of them, both seriously
wounded, and they had done a good deal of groaning and calling for
water. But the question went unanswered, for just at the moment the
ambulance was compelled to veer off nearly into the ditch in order to
dodge a broken-down car and the ever passing lorries, the negro being
bounced almost off his seat.

“Ah doan keer whar we goes tu from yere, jes’ so’s we git somewhar’s
whar de sun shines lak hit do now fo’ a little while. Ah suttenly
doan lak dis puddle bizness what we has mos’ de time sense Ah ben in
dis yere France. Hit sure am some wet country. Now dis day ain’ so
bad, so Ah’ll jes’ tap wood--” and he rapped himself on the head.

The round trip completed, Don and Wash at the base hospital,
re-stocked their car for any emergency. They started out on a new
road, coming up with the tail end of the marines in their big
camions--passing them, one by one. The way led east, then south and
east again, passing first through the town of Senlis, then around the
little city of Meaux, then away on a splendid road toward Rheims.
Before reaching the objective beyond the town of LaFerté, the road
crossed the beautiful Marne, called a river, though Don regarded it
merely a big creek, as it would be called in America.

Oh and ever on, rumbled the camions, the yellow lorries with the
marines, and Don expected again to catch sight of Clem Stapley.
However, it was not these fighting men that most interested him, for
on this Rheims road the boy saw for the first time what he would
probably never see again--refugees, fleeing from the German army.

It was a sight never to be forgotten--one to wring pity out of
the most stony-hearted, to sober the most waggish, to sadden the
gentler-minded as hardly even death, or the suffering of the wounded
could do. Driven from their homes, fearing the wrath of the invader,
expecting only to return and find all their property destroyed,
except the little they could carry away, given over to pillage, or
the flames. They trudged along, embittered by injustice, powerless
to protest, stolid or weeping, but all of one mind. They sought only
a place of safety from the Huns. They were mostly afoot; many old
men, the younger and middle-aged women and the stronger boys and
girls were the beasts of burden, carrying or drawing great loads in
makeshift carts, or light wagons, the more fortunate having horse or
cow, or perhaps donkey or dog, harnessed to help. On these loads rode
the smaller children and the very aged.

Even the soldiers, singing and laughing as they went on to battle,
some of them to death or lifelong suffering, and as gay as if nothing
but a picnic lay before them, ceased their music and raillery, when
they saw the first of these refugees.

The French medical officer at the evacuation hospital near LaFerté
spoke enough English to make himself understood by the American
Red Cross ambulance drivers, half a dozen of whom had reported to
duty before Don arrived on the scene. These fellows greeted him
exuberantly and all stood in a row ready to receive orders.

“One of ze dressed staisheon ess more veree far up ze road at zee
feets of one hill, _m’sieu’_. Eet is maybe one kilo from zee enemy
at ze Château-Thierry. Go where eet is and carry all ze wound’ you
can to bring heem _par-ici_. Then we operate and dispose, _m’sieurs_.
_Allons!_”

The ambulances raced away in a string, Don leading. Then began again
the experiences of near approach to the battle line, hearing the
almost constant rattle of small arms and the hardly less continuous
roar of larger guns, seeing the shattered buildings and trees and
shell-holes in the most unexpected places. The military police were
on duty along the roads. Military messengers were hurrying back and
forth. _Brancardiers_ were crossing and re-crossing the fields, with
their stretchers empty or laden. Field artillery was moving forward
to position. Troops were going in to engage the enemy, or coming out
to rest and others waiting in reserve. Ammunition carriers lugged
forward their heavy loads. Food for the men in battle was being
prepared in hastily set-up kitchens. Sometimes a shell exploded and
punctuated the tremendous activity.

“Now then, Wash, mind your eye. We’ve got to get in where, any
minute, we may run into a big bang and go up a mile high, or maybe
get buried alive or dead under about a ton of earth. Here’s where it
is you’ve been saying you’d like to get--right in among the fighters.
So be prepared for the worst!”

“Ah ain’t ezakly ready fo’ no sech carryin’s on ez dis,” the darky
remarked, rolling his ivory eye-balls until Don thought the pupils
would go out of sight and stay there. “How--how long we gotta stay
yere an’ what’s de mattah wiv me jes’ droppin’ off ’bout dis place
’en waitin’ twill yu-all gits back from in yondah? Kaint see how Ah’s
gwine be much use nohow.”

“You stay right on this car!” ordered Don. “What did you come for?
When you get hit, then it’s time to talk about quitting. From your
color I didn’t believe you had a single streak of yellow in you.”

Wash stared hard at Don for a moment. A big, whizzing shell, with a
noise like that made by a nail when thrown through the air, passed
over, not very far away, and exploded with a horrible rending sound,
but the negro only shook himself and then grinned. Presently he
replied to his companion:

“An’ Ah ain’t yaller, neither! No, sah! En’ yu-all ain’t gwine tuh
have no call tuh say Ah is yaller. No, sah! Ah’s gwine tuh stay on
dis job ontil de yearth jes’ fade away an’ kingdom come, Ah is.
Scairt? Is Ah? Yu jes’ watch me! An’ ef Ah’s gotta git hit, why Ah
jes’ gits hit an’ Ah reckon Ah kin stan’ it ez well ez a yuther o’
them niggahs a-fightin’, or any white man, either! Yes, sah!”

And that was all there was to it. Wash meant what he said. Not
another whimper did Don hear from him, no matter what their duties
were, nor how fast the shells flew. The darky was on the job to prove
that he was all one solid color, figuratively as well as literally,
even if his name was White. And it became certain that there was no
pallor in his liver to indicate his name.

The boys’ first trip close to the battle lines near Château-Thierry
resulted in their return with three Frenchmen, one dying and beyond
possible help, and two others wounded. Don and Wash had reached the
crest of a hill on the road running southwest into LaFerté when they
came upon a Red Cross ambulance which had been disabled. Don pulled
up a moment to ask if he could briefly give aid, thinking to tow the
other car in, if necessary. It was not the custom for a car loaded
with _blessés_ to spend any time on the road, if it could be avoided.

A weazen little man, with a foreign face, replied to the boy, in good
English:

“Can you lend us a heavy wrench? We have only one and a light one. We
need two to take off a bolt.”

Don produced the desired tool from his box and turned to hand it
to the little fellow. At the same instant the voice of someone on
the other side of the crippled car called quite loud and in French,
presumably a command to the little man. The latter made answer as if
in protest. Then he handed the wrench back to Don.

“We can obtain another. We should not keep you. Thanks.”

“No, use it,” Don insisted. “I must give my wounded some water and
see if they are comfortable. It will not take you long.”

The little man ran quickly to his car and dived beneath it. Don,
influenced partly by curiosity and partly by instinct, walked past
the front end and on to the other side of the disabled car. A man
there, whose voice he had heard--glared at him for a moment, then
turned away, rounding the rear end of the car and keeping his back to
Don. This fellow was tall, thin, with a narrow face and contracted
eyes. He was dressed in khaki, with the white band and Red Cross on
his arm.

The boy stood pondering but a moment. He knew where he had seen this
man before and under what circumstances. Evidently Don also was
recognized. Without a word the youth retraced his steps. He knew very
well from what exact spot he could draw his rifle and he knew also
that Wash knew how to handle a gun and that he would glory in doing
so where any kind of heroics were to be pulled off.



CHAPTER XV

ON THE WAY


“Wash, listen: You know how to use this. Magazine’s full. You’re to
use it--just when I tell you, or maybe before. There’s a chap around
that’s got to go along with us, Wash, and there’s a cord in the
tool-box to tie him with. Mind you don’t shoot me! Lie low till I
shout.”

Don went back to the crippled car.

“Well, does it work? Got it out?” he asked of the little man and
received a muffled reply from beneath the _chassis_. Don walked
around the mudguard past the rear end, and looked along the other
side. No one was in sight. Had the tall man slipped into the car? He
would find out.

“Nice car you have here--don’t see many as fine in the service,” he
remarked to the man beneath. Again a muffled reply. One can hardly
give attention to needless questions and wrestle with a refractory
bolt. “How is she fitted inside?” Don queried, putting one hand on
the latch of the full-length doors and the other on the butt of his
revolver in its holster. But the doors were fastened on the inside.

“Don’t open those doors! Don’t try to, for the love of God!”
yelled the small man, from the ground and instantly his wrinkled
face emerged, followed by his wiry little body. “We’re loaded with
explosives for mines and they’ll go off. Keep away from it!” Whether
this was true or not and whether the fellow really felt frightened
or was pretending, he certainly assumed it well. Don involuntarily
backed away from the car.

“Oh, but that was a narrow escape! We’d all be sky-high if--” he
began again, but the boy quickly regained his nerve.

“Well, tell me, how does it carry them; stand the jolt? And how are
you going to unload it? Looks to me as if you’re kidding. But I don’t
see any joke in it.”

“Kidding? Indeed I’m not, man! But I can’t stop now--”

“Oh, yes you will, too! My business is more important right now than
yours. I want to see inside and I’m going to. You come here and open
these doors for me!”

“What? Trying to act smart, ain’t you?” The little man was about to
turn back to his work, but Don caught him by the shoulder, whirled
him around and he gazed into the muzzle of the boy’s revolver.

“S-s-say, what you--?”

“Open those doors! There’s a fellow in there that’s going back with
us. He’s in there and I want him! Come on, open that door and be
quick about it. Wash, bore a hole in this fellow if he makes a break!”

“S-say, put down that pistol! I haven’t done anything to you. Listen
to reason: there ain’t anyone in there. The man who was here--some
fellow I don’t know went up the road. Guess he’s a Frenchman.”

“I guess he is--_not_!” said Don. “I know him; saw him before in the
United States and up here near Montdidier. Come, open up or chase him
out!”

“I tell you there’s explosives--”

“Bosh! Think I’m green; don’t you? Before I have to tell you again to
open those doors I’m going to blow the lock off ’em. Now, get busy!”

[Illustration: DON CAUGHT HIM BY THE SHOULDER AND WHIRLED HIM AROUND.]

The weazen little man was most deliberate. Coming around to the rear
end of the ambulance, he reached up to the door latch. But this
action was a bluff--the boy felt sure of that. The lad didn’t feel
like carrying out his threat. To shoot through the doors might kill
someone and he didn’t want to kill. At most it was desirable to
inflict only a wound. Surely there must be a way to win out here and
Don had already learned to depend on the power of his shooting-iron.
He had every inch of his nerve with him at this moment.

“Can’t open it, eh? Can’t? Well, I’ll show you how then.” He walked
quickly to the car and taking the revolver by the chamber in his left
hand--not a thing a wise gunman would do at any time, under stress of
threatening circumstances he caught the lower corner of one door that
was warped enough to gap at the bottom, and, with a wrench he tore
off the frail fastening. The doors flew open.

The next instant Don was tumbling on the ground, struggling to rise.
He felt a determination to fight, and hold this man still uppermost
in his mind, in spite of a heavy blow over the head from within the
car. Where was his weapon? Why could he not instantly regain his
feet? Was that the noise of the crippled car getting away? Where was
Wash? Why did he not shoot?

Then there was a period of unconsciousness until, a few minutes
later, he did get to his feet to stare into the frightened eyes of
Washington White.

“Oh, by cracky, they hit me and--they’re gone! Wash, Wash, why didn’t
you shoot ’em? Why didn’t you--?”

“Shoot nuthin’! Man, man, how come yo’ lef’ de barrel plum empty? Dey
wuz no ca’tridge in de barrel. Ah cocked her ’en pulled de trigger
’en cocked her again ’en pulled ’en she wouldn’t go off nohow ’en by
de time Ah projecated whar de troble was, dem fellahs wuz a flyin’
down de road lak Ol’ Man Scratch wuz a huntin’ ’em. But ’tain’t so
much Ah keer ef dey is gone so’s yu ain’ daid.”

“Well, I care!” Don was clearly regaining his senses. “But it was my
fault, Wash. I never thought to pump a cartridge into the barrel,
and what a fool I was to pull that door open and not be ready. That
villain was laying for me and, say, their car wasn’t crippled much,
either.”

In the roadway, where the disabled car had stood, lay two
monkey-wrenches and a small bolt which probably had pivoted a brake
rod. At the rate of speed that car had started to gain, there would
probably be no use for brakes!

“We’ve got to get back and report this fellow,” Don said, returning
his rifle to its case, and the revolver to its holster on his belt.
“We’ve got only about twenty minutes’ run yet, I think. Say, I feel
like ten fools to let those devils get away. Keep your eye open for
an M. P. on the road.”

But not more than five minutes elapsed before the boys sighted a big
touring car, with half a dozen khaki-clad men in it, tearing along
toward them. Don stopped and signaled to the soldiers to do the same.
They dashed up with screeching brakes, and Don stared. In the front
seat, with the driver sat Clem Stapley.

All ill feeling in Don’s mind was swept aside by the business at
hand. Its nature and the comradeship that natives of the same distant
country in a foreign land and in a common cause naturally abolish
personal ill feeling. So he shouted:

“Hello, Clem! Say, fellows, there are two spies right ahead; they
just--”

“In a Red Cross car?” asked a man on the rear seat; he was an M. P.
“We’re looking for them. Got word at the French evacuation hospital.
Two did you say?”

“Yes, and they’re getting away at a lively rate. Clem, one of them is
the same German we saw in the train; the one that got away after they
blew up the mills, over home. I’ve seen him before, too, north of
here. He--”

“Sure he’s a German?” asked the M. P. Clem had said no word and
seemed to wish to avoid acknowledging Don. The M. P. turned to Clem.

“Say, Corp, if you know this spy we’d better be getting on. That’s
the orders. The P. C. told you to get these fellows.”

Corporal Stapley turned slowly to reply. “Ask you informant here how
he came to discover these Germans.”

“Ask him yourself,” retorted the M. P.

“Look here, Clem, don’t be a fool--twice!” Don blurted, angrily.
“This is big business and allows for no petty child’s play.”

“How did you get on to them?” Clem deigned to ask, then. And Don
briefly related the adventure with the two signalers back of the
Mondidier front and then told of the incident just past.

“Couldn’t hold them,” remarked Clem. “Fool trick. I guess you’re
better when you’ve got another that’s some account backing you. Let
them get away! Fierce! Poor work!”

“Hey, yo’ white fellah, hit ain’t so!” Wash put in, angrily. “Yu
ain’t in yo’ right min’, Ah reckon. Wha’d yu done ef yu’d ben thar?”

Clem paid no attention, but asked another question. “Did they scare
you very much?”

Don, though hurt at his townsman’s words, decided to let them pass;
he merely waved his hand up the road, but Wash was more than game.

“Mah boss ain’t gittin’ scairt at nuthin’, yo’ white fellah! Ah bet
yu can’t scare him. Dis yer same German spy fit wif mah boss up yon
furder no’th an’ mah boss jes’ up en’ kilt dis German man’s pardner,
kilt him daid! Major Little of the evac. horspittle he done tol’ me
’bout hit. Dey ain’t no po’ white German what kin scare mah boss!”

“Thank you, Wash. But this gentleman won’t believe--”

“Well, you sassy nigger, how then did this spy get away?”

“Come, come, Corporal! This looks silly to me. Let us be going on, or
that spy will get away from us.”

“Good luck to you, Mister Policeman,” said Don, and started his car
again.

Don and Wash put in the rest of the day overhauling the ambulance.
Early in the evening they were again on the road to Château-Thierry
and witnessing a sight most depressing.

The French were in retreat--constantly falling back. The retirement
was orderly. There was no rout, no apparent hurrying and, from the
din of battle ahead, it was plain that every foot of advance that
the enemy made was bitterly contested. Yet the Huns were gaining, as
they had been for five days and for nearly thirty miles, encompassing
an area of six hundred square miles in this drive. Success seemed
to be written on their banners in this, the greatest effort of all.
Thus they forced a deep wedge into the Allied line, the farthermost
point of which had reached the town of Château-Thierry. And in the
succeeding days what more would they gain?

Back, and farther back were swept the French, and the Huns were
elated. The blue-and-red clad troops who had fought them so savagely
were now no match for the vast numbers of chosen shock troops. Was
there no means by which the boches could be checked?

“By cracky, Wash, it looks as if these French had pretty nearly
enough of it! I don’t believe they have, though. But if they keep on
coming this way we’ll have to look sharp, or we’ll run into a lot of
Huns.”

“Ah doan, want tuh run into no sich!” declared Wash. “Dey eats
sauerkraut an’ dis yere what dey calls limberburg cheese--an’ oxcuse
_me_!”

Beyond LaFerté the boys met platoons, companies, regiments, even
battalions, or at least remnants of them, and all along the line more
than a mile each side of Château-Thierry the falling back was certain
and regular.

Then, suddenly, almost as though dropped from the sky, came the
Americans. From long distances in the rear and without stopping to
rest from their arduous journey, the Yanks eagerly faced the Huns,
and foremost among these cheerful, singing, jesting troops from
overseas were the marines, leaving their train of parked lorries not
far from LaFerté and coming up on foot.

The German High Command had received intelligence of the French
handing the defense of this line nearest Paris over to the Yanks,
and the word had come to the invaders: “Go through these untrained
Americans like a knife through cheese!” It is said that this was
General Ludendorff’s pet phrase.

The Americans took up their positions along the southern bank of the
Marne and beyond in the hills. Then night came on. The enemy was too
confident of a sweeping victory on the morrow to give serious thought
to night attacks. Beyond a few minor skirmishes and some artillery
firing, the hours of darkness passed uneventfully.

That night Don and Wash slept in their car, not far from the
Château-Thierry road and within a short distance of some American
regulars placed in reserve. Seeing the boys’ fire, a few officers
came over to talk. They were much interested in Don, and amused at
Wash and his lingo. They also were free with certain information and
opinions. One first-lieutenant who had most to say remarked:

“Well, we’ve got a job on our hands tomorrow, but we’ll do it! These
Frenchies are good fellows and good scrappers, but they have to
follow fixed methods of fighting. This is not the American way. I say
hang this trench business, pot shots, grenades, flares, sniping and
all that!”

“Like to have a little of it kind of Indian fashion, eh?” suggested
Don.

“That’s it, my boy! Go right after them--rifle, bayonet and pistol!”

“I hear our commander told the generalissimo that we wanted to fight
this in our own way,” offered a young second-lieutenant.

“That’s right. As soon as Foch said we might try, Pershing told him
we could stop the Heinies, but we didn’t want to follow the methods
commonly in use. We wanted to go at them American fashion. So, those
are the orders. And, believe me, we’ll stop them all right!”

“Pretty sure of it?” queried Don.

“Certain, my boy; certain! How do you feel about it, Rastus!”

“Ah feels dis a-way ’bout hit:” answered Wash. “Whichaway a white man
wants tuh fight Ah sez let him fight an’ same way wif a niggah. Some
goes at it wif fis’ en’ some wif a razzor, but fo’ me lemme butt wif
mah haid. Ah kin put mah weight back o’ dis ol’ bean o’ mine en’ make
a dant in a grin’ stone wif it!”

“Say, Rastus, go butt a Hun!”

“Show me one, boss; show me one! A ain’t seed one yit what wants tuh
fight. Ah on’y heerd tell of ’em.”



CHAPTER XVI

YANKS


“Ask Corporal Stapley to report here, Sergeant.” A bluff Irishman,
late of the regular army and now attached to the marines for his
experience, saluted his Captain and turned to obey. A few minutes
later he returned with the non-com.

“What luck, Stapley?” asked the Captain.

“Couldn’t find them, sir,” was the reply.

“That’s bad. Made every effort, I suppose.”

“We did, indeed. Jennings, of the Police, was with us and we scoured
around thoroughly. A Red Cross ambulance is pretty easy to spot and
we landed half a dozen, but they were all O. K.”

“Haven’t the least idea where those fellows could have gone?”

“Not the least. Case of mysterious disappearance. We thought they
might have gone back to the base and we telephoned there to be on the
lookout for them, and you may wager they are. We called from LaFerté
again later, but they hadn’t seen them. Jennings ’phoned both the
Meaux and Paris police to be on the watch.”

“Unfortunate. Well, you did all you could. Say, a little more
personally: I see, by the records, that you are a Brighton Academy
boy; is that right?”

“I am; class of 1919, but I don’t know what year we’ll get through
now.”

“Well, let us hope it is not deferred. Then college, eh?”

“I guess so.”

“Brighton is a fine school. It was my prep. school, too. I liked it
immensely. Good teachers, good courses, fine halls, splendid library,
superb athletic field.”

“I’m awfully glad to know you went there, Captain. A good many of
our fellows are over here, or were in the service somewhere. There’s
Herb Whitcomb--he’s up in Flanders, or was--and Roy Flynn, invalided
home, I believe. Some of the fellows are with the flying force--two
of my class, Jimmy Hill and Dick Mann. Three of the older fellows,
two classes ahead of me, went into the navy. Ted Wainwright and Jack
Harris did, too, and are on a submarine. Old Brighton did its share!”

“Yes, and I heard of another from the school; he’s a Red Cross
ambulance driver; forget his name now. Only a youngster, but doing
some great work. A yarn went around our camp about his landing on a
couple of German spies and killing one of them. They said the boy had
his own sporting rifle. Must be some plucky kid! Know him?”

“Perhaps I do,” evaded Clem.

“Well, what I wanted to say is this: We go into action in the
morning. The advance will be in formation by platoons. The units
will keep together at first, but what will happen later, how much we
shall become separated, no one can tell. I am going to keep an eye
on you. If anything happens I’ll do all in my power And I’m going
to ask you, as an old Brighton boy, to do the same for me. Somehow,
you know I feel as though it might be--that is, you see, there will
be hard fighting and a great number of casualties and we must all do
our best. We’ve got to make good and we shall. But some of us--I’m
afraid a good many of us--won’t come out of it--won’t live to see the
result. Here’s my card, Stapley--my home address. My wife would like
to know if--you understand.”

“Yes, I understand, Captain. You may trust me.”

“Thank you, Stapley. Hope you get along well at old Brighton when you
get back. Good luck! Taps will sound in about half an hour. Sorry you
didn’t find those spies. They may turn up yet.”

The young corporal left the spot and went to where his own platoon
was bivouacked. The men, officers and all, slept scattered on the
ground, to avoid casualties from stray shells. Each man had a blanket
and poncho and though the temperature was low for June, the nights
being chilly, it ideal camping weather for men long hardened to it.
Some of the toughest fellows had no more than thrown a corner of
the blanket across their shoulders, sleeping in their clothes and
removing only their shoes. It was the order to do this, as marching
feet need an airing and, better, a dabble in cool water. A little
stream ran near by and one might safely wager, where it emptied into
the Marne, the water that night ran black with the soil of France.

Morning dawned clear and breezy. Shortly after reveille, a messenger
arrived from the American headquarters and another from the French
Field Staff. Half an hour later the two regiments of marines, moving
like one man, were marching straight across country a little to the
northwest of Château-Thierry. It was the intention to drive the Huns
out of their threatening positions in the hills where they were
concentrating troops and artillery, mostly machine-gun units. A
brigade also of the Third Division U. S. Regulars, moved forward at
nearly the same time in support of the marines, if needed.

No prettier sight could be imagined than those long lines of
soldiers, over two thousand in number, sweeping forward. They
had been called “the Matchless Marines” and by another equally
expressive, though homelier name, “the Leathernecks.” Picked men,
every one of them chosen with regard to his athletic and probable
fighting ability, they could but live up to the standards set for
them by their predecessors in the same force, adhering always to the
maxims that “the marines never retreat” and that “they hold what
they’ve got.”

The peeping sun shone upon their brown uniforms and glistened on
their bayoneted guns, as they moved through waving grass and over
fields of yellowing grain. There was no sound of drum or fife. No
band played martial music--that is not the custom when a modern army
goes against the enemy--but here and there along those steady, triple
lines could be heard laughter, snatches of song, the voice of some
wag bantering his fellows.

The orders to the commanding general of the division ran something
like this: Rout the enemy from the village of Bouresches. Break up
the machine-gun and artillery positions in Belleau Woods and if
possible capture Hill No. 165. Consolidate positions at these points
and south of the village of Torcy and hold them.

It was evident that the commander-in-chief depended fully on “the
Leathernecks” and felt confident that they would do as ordered,
although they had before them a large undertaking. It was known that
the Germans had two divisions of picked troops at this point, with
still another division in reserve.

There was double reason for this confidence. The Americans had
already been performing most creditably within the sector about
Château-Thierry. A few days before a strong detachment of American
regular troops had withstood an attack of the enemy at Veuilly Wood,
nine miles north of the Marne, and had driven them back. The day
following a detachment of machine gunners had held the approaches
to the bridges across the Marne, connecting the north and the south
towns of Château-Thierry itself and prevented the Huns from crossing,
while a battalion of Americans, supporting French artillery that was
pounding the Huns in the northern end of the town, captured and wiped
out more than their number of Germans who had managed to gain the
south bank by pontoons. On the same day the Third and Twenty-eighth
Divisions of U. S. regulars, commanded by a French officer, had
defeated the enemy in his attempt to make a crossing of the Marne at
Jaulgonne, a few miles east of Château-Thierry, and had driven him
back to his former positions. But all these battles, relatively small
actions in themselves, had been fought according to European methods,
and had been directed by French generals and aided by French infantry
and artillery.

The action now about to take place was to be that of the Americans
alone, under American staff direction, and the boys were going into
it tickled with the idea of being allowed in their own way to get a
whack at the Huns.

Corporal Stapley, as he trudged along with his squad, thought of a
good many things of a rather solemn nature, though not once did he
permit a hint of this to bother his fellows. The next in line was a
wag named Giddings, but Clem noted that the youth was very quiet now,
and that his face was pale. With a laugh Clem turned to the fellow:
“Say, Gid, it’s a fine day for this little picnic.”

“Wonder when the strawberries and ice cream will be served,” Giddings
remarked and Clem knew that no matter how the young man really felt
he was game. The corporal glanced down the line; there were other
pale faces and set lips, but there were also smiles and laughter. One
man struck up a song, with words and music _ad libitum_:

      “Where do we go from here, boys,
      Where do we go from here?
      To punch the Hun
      Like a son-of-a-gun.
      It’ll be some fun
      To make him run
      And get his bun
      And take his mon.
      Oh, hi, yi, that’s where we’ll go from here!”

Some joined in. Laughter broke out down the line. One chap began to
whistle the Sailor’s Hornpipe and another, in a deep bass voice,
tried to put impromptu words to it, after the manner of the popular
version concerning “de debbil,” but without much poetic success:

      “Did you ever see the Heinie
      With his skin all black and spiny
      A-diggin’ in the trenches
      With his big toe nail?”

And another laugh followed, but it was cut short by a shell which
tore through the air only a little above the heads of the men, and
exploded not a hundred feet behind the last line. It was immediately
followed by a second that landed about the same distance from the
front of the first line and ricocheted, turning and twisting, then
lying still--not ten steps ahead of the line. There was a little
squirming, and two fellows were obliged to step almost over the
menacing thing. Pulling down their steel helmets and lowering their
heads, they veered apart, while some arms went up in front of faces
and eyes. But the shell proved a “dud.” Had it exploded it would
doubtless have sent half a dozen boys to the graveyard and the
hospital.

“One back and one front and the next one--”

“A clean miss!” shouted Clem.

The words were no more than said when his prediction came true. The
shell went high and wide. But that which immediately followed was
of a far more deadly character than shells. Shrapnel and whiz-bangs
could not cover the ground, but it seemed as though the rain of
machine-gun bullets that suddenly swept down from the thickets and
rocks of the great hillside which loomed ahead must reach every inch
of space.

“Double quick! Charge!” came the order, echoed from mouth to mouth by
under-officers and still, like one man, that khaki-clad host went at
it on the run. Every man saw that the more quickly the work was done
the better chances he and his fellows had for surviving that leaden
hail.

“Smash ’em! Tear ’em to pieces!” Clem found himself yelling again and
again and he heard similar shouts on all sides of him.

“Give ’em ballyhoo!” howled young Giddings.

And they did--if that expresses something like annihilation! Before
the Huns could do more than fire a round or two from a score of
well-placed machine-guns on the hillside the marines, like waves of
avenging devils, were upon them with a fury that those long-practised
death-dealers of the Fatherland had not before experienced and
totally unprepared for. They were used to seeing their accurate
shooting from such an array of fire-spitters stop their enemies and
drive them back but no such result was in evidence now.

Many of the Huns broke and ran, some tried to hide, some threw up
their hands and shouted: “Kamerad! Kamerad!” A few stuck to their
guns until overpowered, and died fighting. Many, threatened with
the bayonet, surrendered at once. And the marines went yelling
on, overtaking the fleeing Germans, stabbing to death, shooting
or clubbing with rifles those who still resisted. Breaking up the
machine-gun nests, they rounded up the prisoners until the hillside
was entirely in American hands. Then the Yanks halted and sought
shelter from the German artillery which now began to throw shells
upon the eastern and northern side of the hill from enemy positions
beyond. On the southwestern slope, where they were out of danger from
this fire, the victorious regiments re-formed for further duty,
bringing in all scattered units and trying to count the cost.

The taking of the hill had not been entirely one-sided, except in the
matter of a victory. The machine-gunners had been placed in position
to hold this strategic bit of ground and to make it hot for those who
attempted to take it from them, and they were past masters at that
sort of thing. The reception they gave the marines exacted a heavy
toll.

Following fast upon the heels of the men from overseas came the
wonderfully efficient American Red Cross. Ambulances rushed across
the fields, many of carrying capacity only, a few fitted up for field
dressing stations. Doctors and nurses, braving the enemy shells,
attended the most urgent cases only, sending the majority back to the
newly established evacuation hospitals which had, within two days,
supplanted those of the overtaxed French, or to the bases that also
had moved nearer this fighting front.

And so everywhere on the hillside up which the marines had so
gloriously charged, the _brancardiers_ moved with their stretchers,
rapidly bringing away the wounded, whether friend or foe. And the
officers who were still on duty went about among the men, detailing
squads here and there for burial duty and to help and comfort their
unfortunate companions. It was the work of a little more than two
hours.



CHAPTER XVII

VICTORY


Clem Stapley stood leaning on his rifle gazing far away over the
green fields and woodlands of that beautiful, rolling country,
not unlike his own homeland. The boy’s thoughts were filled with
memories, the reaction from the strenuous experiences of the minutes
just past caused him to sway a little on his feet. His company’s
second-lieutenant, passing near, turned and look into the boy’s pale
face.

“Hurt eh? Can you walk? Better get back--”

“No, sir. No! Only a trifle. A scratch on the arm; spent bullet went
up my sleeve like one of those black ants. I shook it out.”

“Let me see,” ordered the officer. Clem bared his arm and showed a
long white and blue welt from wrist to elbow. On the fleshy part the
skin had broken, and blood was trickling down.

“Go get it bandaged.”

“I can do it, if someone--”

“Help him, Terry. Get his jacket and shirt off. Use a little iodine.
You’ll be all right.”

“Are we going on, sir, soon?” Clem asked.

“Very soon. To the village over the next rise, about three miles from
here. Bouresches they call it.”

“I want to find my squad and tell them about poor Giddings. Have you
seen my Captain?”

“Dead. At the bottom of the hill. Lieutenant Wells, too. I am in
command now. Was Giddings--?”

“Yes. Went down while he was getting off a joke about a Hun who was
yelling for mercy. When we turned to let some others of a gun crew
have it--they had their gun trained on us--a brute fired at Giddings
at about five steps. But I got the skunk with the bayonet and then
Davidson and I went on and got two of the other gun-crew. The others
of both crews surrendered; Jones’ squad, coming up, took them in.
Then I got hit.”

A bugle call echoed sweetly along the slope. A sergeant came running
up the hill, calling right and left to officers. He passed the
lieutenant and Clem.

“Orders from the General. Form quick in place in the road due south
of the hill. Headquarters down there now. Enemy attack from the east.
We are to hold support positions.”

Again and again the bugle call sounded from the road. There was
some lively running about and falling in. Then once more, in broken
formations, the marines descended and under rapid orders lined up,
partly along this old road, behind a low bank, and somewhat sheltered
by a row of trees. Some of the regulars came up and formed beyond,
in the same line. The rest were held in reserve farther back. At the
left some regiments of French infantry stretched the line, making
a front of about two miles. Fully half a mile to the east a French
division occupied the first line facing the enemy positions.

Corporal Clem’s arm hurt considerably. A member of his squad had
treated and bandaged it with materials out of a first aid kit. But
the wound was becoming more and more painful, and his arm began to
stiffen. He could not understand why he should feel sick at the
stomach and hungry at the same time. The “Leathernecks” had not
eaten since breakfast, and it was now well on in the afternoon.

Clem looked about him, for misery loves company. There were wide gaps
in the line, though that was anything but comforting. It was horribly
depressing to think that some of these cronies, jolly good fellows
all, would now be dumped under the sod, and that others were never
more to walk, nor to know the joy of health. Perhaps some would never
see nor hear again. Many less seriously injured would bear scars all
their lives.

Martin there, formerly next in line to Giddings, and now next to
Clem, had his head elaborately done up in two-inch bandages. Replying
to a question he said, jovially:

“When I get back to God’s country, I am going to take this old pan
of a hat, hang it up in the prettiest place in the best room in
the house and keep it covered with fresh flowers. Why? The darned
old thing saved my life. I wouldn’t ’a’ had any bean left if this
inverted wash basin thing hadn’t been covering it.”

“Poor Giddings always had a pick at his helmet,” remarked Clem. “He
used to say that just a hat wasn’t much good and that what a man
wants in this war is a suit of armor made out of stove plates. In his
case he was about right.”

“But wrong in mine,” said Martin.

“Say, what’s doing, Sarge?” asked a private of the non-com in the
next squad, who now stood next to Clem in the line-up.

“The Heinies are going to make a push here, I believe,” was the
answer.

“When?”

“Pretty soon. Guess we’ll hear the barrage laid down first. But maybe
they think they’re strong enough to rush us without that.”

“Hope they do. It’s more lively. I don’t like them barrages. Make
me think o’ my old uncle across the pond. He’s one o’ those bear
hunters. Sez he’d a heap rather fight a bear than a hive o’ bees; you
can see the bear.”

“Right-o! Here, too! You can stick a bayonet into a Hun, but you
can’t even dodge these here mowin’-machine bullets.”

“Listen, fellows!” Clem held up his hand.

A distant shot, another, several, a dozen, a thousand, crack, bang,
boom, as though all the Fourth of July celebrations that ever had
been and ever would be had been turned loose at once.

“She’s on, boys! And there’ll be a lot of ricocheting bullets coming
this far--so look out for them!” So spoke the lieutenant, now
commander of Clem’s company, as he walked up and down the line.

The sergeant next to Clem turned to the officer.

“Do you think the Frogeaters can hold them, lieutenant?”

“Doubt it. They say the Huns outnumber them three to one. And they
mean to drive right through to the Compiègne road. So it’s up to us
to stop them, I guess.”

“We’ll try hard, lieutenant,” Clem offered.

Within twenty minutes the roar of the barrage ceased as suddenly
as it began. Then came a lull, followed by the rattle of small
arms which, at the distance, sounded much like a lot of youngsters
cracking hickory nuts. Within half an hour after this the expected
happened. For the tired and greatly outnumbered French, fighting
savagely, had failed to stem the Hun tide and began to give way
before it. Some retreated a little too late and these were quickly
surrounded and taken prisoner, to suffer tortures in German detention
camps for many a long day. The wounded were hurried to the rear. As
the dressing stations to the extreme right of the support line became
congested those set up in sheltered positions directly behind the
hill were called on for duty. Then the many ambulances of the United
States army, French army and American Red Cross dashed through the
line of marines, and around the base of the hill.

It was at once a solemn and a cheering sight. However horrible this
war of science and ingenuity had become, it reacted in greater
humanity than has ever been known.

The sound of an automobile horn in front caused Clem to look up and
he was almost face to face with Don Richards. The younger lad was
about to look away, but he quickly chose to salute his townsman. The
corporal nodded stiffly as Don passed on.

The sound of rifle fire interspersed with the cloth-ripping noise of
machine-guns and the detonation of heavier artillery, began to come
nearer. A company of French infantry, marching in perfect order,
but in quick time, appeared in the distance. It wheeled sharply and
passed to the south, around the extreme right of the Americans.
In a few minutes it was followed by other and larger contingents,
a regiment in part, with great gaps in its ranks, a battalion
of machine gunners, each squad with its wicked _mitrailleuse_,
ammunition handcarts, more infantry and still more until very soon
they had thinned out to scattered and broken units, often without
officers. Many of these came up and passed through the American lines.

The expressions on the faces of these French soldiers told of varied
emotions. Some were morose, angry, or despairing. Others laughed
and jested. Some smiled and wore an air of undying confidence. Clem
had learned too little French so far to understand their rapid
utterances, but the lieutenant stood near him, talking with a French
subaltern who spoke excellent English and who began to question
the retreating soldiers. There was a nasal babble and then the
translation, with some remarks, to the lieutenant. Clem easily caught
much of it.

“He says the enemy was too strong for them; that there must be half a
million men. But I think that an exaggeration.”

“This fellow says that the enemy came at them, swarming like ants. It
is no use, he says, to try to check them now; they are irresistible.”

“This man declares that they are many, but they are not overwhelming,
and that if the retreat had not been ordered we could have held the
enemy awhile.”

“He says that it is no use to try to stop them--they come like a
tidal wave.”

“This fellow hopes you Americans may stop them.”

“He says if there had only been a few more of us we could have
stopped them.”

“Here is one who insists that Paris is doomed, and all is lost. But,
you see, his companion was killed by his side.”

The officers moved rapidly away and then, almost suddenly, there was
an end of the retreating French. The ambulances also had ceased in
their errands of mercy over the ground ahead. A strange hush fell
upon everything but the forces of nature. The breeze toyed with the
wheat. Birds sang blithely; across the fields a cow was lowing, a
poor creature, perhaps that a farmer who had suddenly vacated his
home before the oncoming Huns, had failed to drive along toward the
west.

The lieutenant passed along the line again, speaking to his men. He
was a young man, tall, with fine square shoulders, a firm jaw and a
pleasant voice--every inch a soldier. He paused a moment and said to
Clem:

“Your arm is better now? Well, try to think it is. You’ll need it.
I hope it won’t interfere with your sleep tonight.” Then to the
sergeant, in answer to a question: “Yes, they’re coming; re-forming
first. There are enough of them to make us sit up and take notice.
Three divisions to our one and a half. I don’t think any of us will
take a nap during the next hour or so. But, remember, we’ve got to
give them all there is in us! Keep cautioning your men to shoot low,
to keep their heads, see their hind-sights, and try to hit what
they aim at. It will be just like target practice, boys; only more
so. Every time you score means that’s one less chance of your being
scored on.”

Anticipation often goes reality “one better,” to use a
betting phrase. The waiting for the expected battle was most
irksome--nerve-racking to some. It cannot be a joyful thing to
contemplate the killing of human beings, even though they are bent
on killing. Upon such occasions minutes drag by like hours. It is an
actual relief when the end of the suspense is at hand.

Clem glanced at his wrist watch--it was 4:45. The enemy could be
seen now in the distance, advancing steadily. They were coming on in
mass formation straight across the waving wheat that the retreating
French had avoided trampling down. The Huns gloried in this
destruction. They were going to make this place a shambles with dying
and dead when they should occupy this region. They would turn it into
a desert of burned homes, felled trees, girdled orchards, ruined
villages and looted factories--as all the territory they had thus far
occupied had been desolated.

“Cut loose, boys! The range is nearly flat. Don’t fire too high. Now,
then, every man for himself!” Thus ran the orders along the line and
the crack of the rifles this time meant more to the advancing Germans
than ever before. The French subaltern, sent to observe the behavior
of the Americans went into ecstasies after the manner of his race.
With eyes sticking out so far that there was danger of his butting
into something and knocking them off, he watched the “Leathernecks”
in long-range rifle action awhile; then he hurried back to his staff.
Shortly he was back again with some higher officers of the French
supporting line, and their enthusiasm was unbounded. The subaltern
translated liberally:

“_Voila!_ Your men shoot! _Sacre!_ They are deliberate! They see
their sights! They hit the mark! The Huns stop--they waver! Ah,
they come on again! True they are brave men! And they obey their
officers--also brave men! But behold again! The front rank is down,
gone! What say you? Yes, wiped out! And still they come again? Ah
now, it is too much. They lose all if they remain. Behold, they
break! They retreat! They hide in the wheat! They creep away!”

“Cut that wheat all to pieces, boys! Don’t let any of them get away!”
ordered the lieutenant, repeating a common order and it was just what
the marines were doing.

Clem, with a hot gun, turned a moment to speak to the officer. “Are
our machine-gun crews at work?” he asked.

“Yes, over there by that clump of trees. I never saw those lads do
better work. I think those Huns have about enough. We win!”

“Any of our boys hurt?” asked the sergeant.

“A machine-gun crew of the enemy concentrated on one part of our
right and did some damage,” said the officer. “Two of their shrapnel
burst among the doughboys to the south, I hear. Otherwise, I
believe--”

“Nobody got hit here,” asserted the sergeant.

“They didn’t think it worth while to lay down a second barrage and
their infantry hardly fired a shot,” laughed the officer.

“Got badly fooled,” said the sergeant. “Why don’t we go after them
now?”

“I suppose our commander thinks they’re whipped enough and there are
Hun batteries to the east of the hill that must be dislodged first.
Hello, another air scrap is going to be pulled off!”

Five German planes were coming along, pretty low and in line, their
evident intention being to seek revenge by bombing the line of
“Leathernecks.” But four French battle-planes swept over to meet
them, one fellow swooping low to cheer the marines for their splendid
work. Two German fighting machines were high overhead in support of
the big bombing planes.

The French and American light fieldpieces got busy and made it so hot
for the foremost plane that it turned and retreated, trying to come
back higher up. But by that time the French planes had driven the
others back, sending one down in flames behind the German lines. The
guns turned their attention to smashing a German battery going into
position beyond the wheat field and performed this duty admirably,
dismounting all of the three German guns and killing every man with
them. The Hun battle-planes, refusing to fight and retreating, had
given two of the French planes a chance to signal the range to Allied
batteries.

The day was fast coming to a close. When the marines and their
supporters had broken ranks and bivouacked for the night Corporal
Stapley went to the commanding officer of his company and asked if he
might go over to the hill and visit the captain’s grave.

“He was an old Brighton boy and that is my school,” Clem said, “and
he asked me if I would tell his wife, if anything happened to him. I
thought I should like to write her--all that she would care to know.”

“Go ahead, Stapley; that’s a noble purpose. I’ll give you a note to
enclose, saying how much we appreciated him and how bravely he met
his fate. Take one of the men with you--some fellow that specially
liked the captain. Get back at dark.”



CHAPTER XVIII

BUSHWHACKING


It was half a mile back to the southern side of the hill where the
bloody engagement of the morning had taken place and a like distance
to the little plot of ground in the corner of a field where some of
the American dead were buried. Clem and Private Martin easily found
the captain’s resting-place.

Some sappers were still at work, and a slightly wounded staff-officer
of the marines had been detailed to keep record of the burials. One
fellow, his identification number and all papers about his person
missing, had not been recognized nor interred. On the way back Clem
glanced down at this unfortunate.

“It’s poor Giddings!” he exclaimed.

“What? Not that joker in your company?” protested the officer.

Clem nodded; Martin confirmed this. The lads helped to lower their
comrade into his grave and stood with bowed heads during the brief
reading of the burial service. Then they went into the field near by
and made two wreaths of poppies and daisies to hang on the wooden
crosses over Giddings and the captain.

The shadows were growing long; the two “Leathernecks” had quite a
distance to travel in the return to camp. For a little way their road
lay along the foot of the hill around which a well beaten track had
been made by motor cars and artillery. Now and then they were met by
ambulances plying between the dressing station west of the hill and
of the last battle-field where the marines and regulars had repulsed
the German advance. Some of the cars detoured part way up the
hillside by a farm lane, on the slopes to seek further for wounded
that might have been overlooked.

The driver of a passing ambulance, returning from the dressing
station, offered to give the boys a lift and they accepted gladly.
They ran on for less than a fourth of a mile when something got out
of order with a spark plug which they stopped to replace, just beyond
the lane turning up the hill.

“Be only a moment,” the driver said. “I’ll get you fellows right by
your camp in ten minutes.”

“Plenty of time!” both said and, while Martin aided the driver a
little, Clem walked to an opening in the thicket and gazed up to
where, in the morning, he had seen such bloody work with rifle,
pistol and bayonet.

Another ambulance came along the road. It seemed to Clem that he had
heard the motor start somewhere back under the hill, though there
could be nothing strange in that. There was an unusually large Red
Cross in its patch of white on the side of the long, low car, and
the machine glided along as though it possessed great motive force
but was held down in speed. Two men were in the seat. When the car
reached the lane it swung in and, without apparent slowing, ascended
the grade, stopping about half way up. A few yards beyond it was an
army ambulance, its driver walking away across the slope.

Clem’s very brief glance at the driver of the Red Cross car had
caused him to start and wonder. He hardly knew why he gazed after
the car with an unpleasant feeling, and then, in order to watch its
movements, crossed the road and swung himself up on a branch of a low
tree.

There were no other cars on the hill and apparently no other people,
but the army ambulance man. Clem was cogitating:

“Now, can’t I think where? What had Don Richards said only yesterday?
Spies? But would they dare again to come here boldly and--” his
thoughts were cut short.

A man got down from the long, low car and quickly went to the other
machine. He paused and looked about for a moment, then raised the
hood and seemed to be working rapidly. He put down the hood and
returned. Then the Red Cross car moved on rapidly up the hill to
the far end of the lane, where it turned across pasture ground and
veered about among the rocks and thickets, stopping presently on the
south-east slope.

“Fire and flinders! It is--it is!” exclaimed Clem. “They wouldn’t
dare to go so far east and expose themselves to the guns unless the
Huns knew and approved of it.”

The boy dropped to the ground and, taking pad and pencil from his
pocket, wrote the following:

    “I beg leave to report that I have this moment discovered the
    Hun spies we were after yesterday. They have gone to the
    eastern side of Hill 165, probably to signal the German lines,
    as reported before. I also saw them disable an army ambulance.
    Fearing to fail in their arrest, and confident that I can
    accomplish this with the aid of the ambulance man on the hill,
    I take the liberty of delaying my return to post. Will report
    as soon as possible.

  CLEMENT STAPLEY, Corporal.”

This sheet he folded, addressed, and handed to his companion, Martin.
The ambulance had a new spark plug and was ready to start.

“Give this to the lieutenant as soon as you get in,” Clem said. “Now,
please don’t ask any questions. I’m on an expedition the captain
ordered yesterday and the lieutenant knows about it. You might tell
him I said so. And, by the way, got any extra cartridges for your
pistol? I might need them. I left mine in my kit. Will pay you back
when I get back.”

“Maybe I could help you,” began Martin, but Clem backed off.

“No; I can handle this. Nothing much. When I come in I think you’ll
see me bringing some Heinies along--pretty soon, too.”

Clem alone, hurried up the hill by the lane. He had but one purpose.
His mind was singularly free from any thought of strategy as he
went straight to the seat of the trouble. He meant simply to arrest
these men and prove their guilt afterward. He reached the army
ambulance and saw the driver returning with a wounded man’s arm over
his shoulder. This soldier could walk, but he had been shot through
the shoulder and had lain unconscious for a time in a shell hole,
where he was overlooked. Clem recognized him as a member of his own
company. The man smiled and tried to salute.

“Driver, I’ll help this man along. I think when you look at your
engine you’ll find something wrong with it. I saw it done--from the
road down yonder.”

The driver raised his engine hood. “Well, I should say! Look at that;
will you? Every plug wire cut away and gone and the plugs smashed. Do
you know who did this?”

“I think I can introduce you to the parties responsible. They’re
right up there on the hill now,” Clem replied; then turned to the
wounded soldier. “We want to get you in right away and--”

“You let me rest here a bit, Corp. I won’t be any worse off and you
go and get those devils. I bet they’re Heinies, drat ’em! I’d like
to know some more of them are going the long road, even if I go the
same.”

“You’re going to be all right, man.”

“Not on your life, Corp. Never. A fellow always knows when he’s got
his for good and all!”

“Don’t believe it,” said Clem. “We’ll take you to the dressing
station in that car of theirs shortly, unless another ambulance comes
up here. Then you’d better go with it. Now, then, Mr. Driver, you
look pretty husky. Feel like having a scrap?”

“I could cut the heart out of the weasel that disabled my car! That
is if it was just ‘rough-house.’ I expect he’s got a gun with him.”

“Likely enough--haven’t you?” asked Clem.

“Why yes--in the car--army pistol. But I guess I’m not much at using
it. I’m better with a knife. It’s either the gun or me, but I can’t
hit a barn door up against it. I can shoot with a real gun, though.
I’ve hunted and shot deer.”

“Well, then, bo, all you’ve got to do,” suggested the wounded man,
“is to chase back to that shell hole and get my rifle. She’s there;
I forgot to fetch her. And she’s a dandy old pill-slinger, too,
believe me.”

Ten minutes later the two young fellows went up to the end of the
lane and turned sharply to the right, as Clem had seen the suspected
Red Cross car do. It was now growing dusk, though the boys could
easily make their way across the field. Clem had noticed a bunch of
trees taller than those around on the edge of the woods below the
summit of the hill, and that the top of one of these trees was partly
cut off and hanging: the work of a shell. It was beyond this spot
that the spies’ car had stopped.

“We’re getting there,” whispered the driver. “The Heinies are liable
to send some whiz-bangs over here any time.”

“I hardly think so while that fellow is here,” Clem said. “We’ll see
if I’m not right pretty soon. We’ll have to risk it, anyway.”

“Go ahead; I’ve risked more than that more than once.”

“What is your name?”

“Duncan. I’m from Maine. What’s yours?”

“Stapley. Marines. I’m from Pennsylvania. Go easy now; we’re getting
up near the place and they’ll likely be watching out for somebody.
Let’s wait until it’s a little darker, then sneak up. I have a hunch
those chaps are on this side signaling information to their friends
over east.”

The darkness grew thicker and gave way to night. The watchers had
found shelter, both against possible German shells or discovery,
behind a boulder where they crouched for several minutes. No shells
came that way, though the booming of cannon not very far away to the
east and northeast showed that the Huns were awake and replying to
the constant cannonading of the French and Americans. All around the
boys it was as quiet as any night in early summer. Once, overhead,
they heard the call of a night bird and once the twitter of some
small feathered citizen disturbed in its slumbers in a thicket. There
was the squeak of a mouse or shrew beneath the turf almost at their
feet. In a whisper that could not have been heard twenty feet away
Clem told his companion what he suspected, from his recollection of
the doubtful ambulance driver’s face and from Don Richards’ brief
account of the signaling near Montdidier. After what Clem had seen
here and the injury to the army ambulance, there was enough to
satisfy Duncan that they had Hun spies to deal with.

“I’m going to get up and take a look round,” he said. “Going to be
an old dead tree; it’s a trick we Indians pull off to fool moose.
You see I’ve got a little Indian blood in me. Fact. Proud of it.”
And with that Duncan crawled up on the boulder and slowly stood up,
his arms extended crookedly, one held higher than the other. Thus he
remained for several minutes. Then he came down, even more slowly.

“Say, pard, you’ve got the dope. They’re up there all right, about
two hundred yards, and they’re signaling. There’s a light going up
and down, bull’s eye, turned away, but I could see the reflection on
a rock.”

“Well, we’re here to stop that and get those fellows,” said Clem.
“Shall we rush them?”

“No, no! We’d only give them a fine chance to bore us full of holes.
They don’t want to be surprised, you can bet. But we can stalk them,
as we do bear on high ground, and work the bird call so as to make
them think nobody’s around in our direction. Are you on?”

“I am! Say, I guess you are Indian all right. You lead off--and I’ll
follow and do just as you do, as near as I can.”

“Only be careful where you put your hands and knees. Don’t crack any
sticks nor roll any stones. Ready?”

Clem wondered at first whether the method would prove successful.
It loomed up like a large undertaking, considering the distance.
Would it not be better to just march right up on the spies and trade
gun-fire with them, if need be? But the farther the boys progressed
the more Clem became convinced that this was the only means of
surprising the enemy. The nature of the ground was such that any one
walking boldly up could have been seen first by the spies, and held
up or shot. Fortunate, indeed, was it that this fellow Duncan was on
the hill. Truly a wonderful chap when it came to this sort of thing.

Slowly they went, on hands and knees, for another fifty feet or
more, stopping every little while to listen, and Duncan made a soft
twittering sound exactly like the little bird in the thicket below.
Presently he rose cautiously to take a look and get the bearings,
after which he turned and put his lips to Clem’s ear.

“Man on watch about a hundred feet from us, sitting on a rock. He
don’t look this way. I think I’d better edge off a little and work
around so as to come up on the other chap, and you work up nearer
this one, behind the thicket. When I yell he’ll turn and then you’ve
got him. Wait till I yell.”

There is little doubt that this plan would work out well. The German
mind can not cope in matters of woodcraft and ambush with that of an
American backwoodsman. Duncan wormed himself away and Clem could not
detect a sound made in his progress. Hardly more than fifteen minutes
would be required for him to gain his object, but in less than five
minutes a whistle sounded up the hill. The watcher ran that way and
there was the buzz of a self-starter and the whir of a motor. Before
the bushwhackers had time to collect their senses the long car, with
its lights on, was running back across the field.

Duncan joined Clem. “Rotten luck! But glad you didn’t shoot. And say,
they’ve got to go slow over and around those rocks. Can’t we head
’em off if we go down the hill straight toward the foot of the lane?
How’re your legs?”

“I’m with you!” announced Clem, and together, with the easy,
long-stepping lope of the runner trained in the woods, the two set
off, leaping over the obstacles in their way, dodging around boulders
and thicket patches, and making good time in spite of the uneven
ground.

But they had not covered a third of the distance and had several
hundred yards yet to go when they saw that the chase was hopeless.
The car had made far better time than they had believed possible and
when it reached the head of the lane it turned and shot like an arrow
down the hill.

The boys stopped and gazed in bitter disappointment after the
retreating foemen.

“I wish we had sailed into them up yonder,” Clem said.

“Gettin’ shot ourselves would have been worse than this,” Duncan
argued.

“Say, look, they’ve stopped! About where your car is!” Clem
exclaimed. “Maybe we can--”

Duncan raised the army rifle as though to bring it into position for
firing. “If it wasn’t so blamed dark I could get ’em,” he declared.
“Anyway, I can make a try.” But Clem stopped him.

“Hold on, man! You may hit the wounded man there!”

“Blazes! Never thought of it. Can’t risk that. Couldn’t stop ’em,
anyhow; not in a million shots, with only their lights to shoot at.”

“There they go on again. We’re licked this time,” Clem said,
mournfully. “Come on; let’s get back to the lane. I’ll help you make
that poor chap comfortable. Then I’ll go down and try to get another
ambulance. I’ve got to get back to camp pretty soon. Say, it’s going
to be tough to have to admit we couldn’t arrest those spies. It’s
what I stayed out for and sent word to the lieutenant that I could
do. He’ll be sore, and Martin will rub it into me for a month. Say,
those spies have put out their lights now.”

Duncan mumbled something about their running on with lights out to
avoid being recognized. He hoped they’d run into a shell hole and
break their blamed necks. The young down-east woodsman was grievously
put out not to avenge himself on the men who damaged his ambulance.

Not another word was exchanged between the two youths while they were
crossing the open ground to the lane. They reached and turned down
the well-worn road a little above the ambulance.

“He’s asleep, I guess,” Clem said, glancing at the soldier lying on
the cot that Duncan had spread for him. The _ambulancier_ went over
and stooped down to look at or speak to the wounded man. Then he
straightened up with a jerk and stepped back. Though his nerves were
of steel after the many bitter experiences following battles, raids,
artillery fire and gas attacks, he must have had a sharp prod at
the sight that met him. It is one thing to see men killed, maimed,
blown to pieces in fair fighting, but quite another thing to find one
foully murdered outside of the area of fighting.

“Killed!--stabbed! They’ve killed him! Those--those devils!” His
voice was thick with rage.

Clem could only weakly repeat part of this--it was too horrible for
mere words. Instinctively they both turned to gaze down the lane
again toward where the spies had fled. And suddenly, from the bottom
of the hill, the two bright lights of an approaching ambulance glared
at them ominously.



CHAPTER XIX

BOURESCHES


Staplely and Duncan with their weapons ready, waited, crouching.
In their agitation they had not observed other ambulances coming
along the road at the foot of the hill and they did not doubt that
the spies, seeing no light and not suspecting the return of the
_ambulancier_ whose car they had broken and whose passenger they
had killed, might be returning perhaps to lie in wait for him. They
seemed to be having things all their own way of late so why should
they not try to accomplish more?

The glaring lights came nearer. The throbbing motor had easily the
better of hills such as this. The seekers of a just revenge tried to
see who was on the driver’s seat behind the lights--a difficult thing
to do. A voice caused their weapons to lower.

“Reckon dis de place t’ stop. One amberlance done quit gittin’ all
het up, heah. Yu kin turn her roun’ easy by backin’ into de fiel’ a
ways, lessen yu hits a groun’hawg hole er sumpin’.”

“No groundhogs in this country, Wash. We might hit a rock, though.
Hello, you fellows! Are you stuck?” This last addressed to Duncan and
Stapley who had risen and come forward.

If Clem felt any bitterness toward Don he did not think of it now;
there was too much else to occupy his mind. But Don, leaping to the
ground instantly, seemed not to know him. Duncan knew Don and at once
began to relate their experiences.

“And you mean to say you fellows couldn’t stop them? Let them get
away up yonder and murder this poor helpless soldier on the way! And
only yesterday this fellow,” with a bend of his head he referred to
Clem, “rubbed it into me because--”

“Well, that--that was dif--” began Clem.

“Not a bit of it! But why parley? Duncan, you and I can get busy.
Those fellows are down there yet, in the road just west of the lane.
They’re doing something to their car. That’s twice I’ve run into them
fixing it, but I didn’t know them this time. Wash, confound you, were
you asleep? Why didn’t you tell me--?”

“Sleep yuse’f! How’s I know--?”

“Cut the comedy! Come on, if you’re sure that was the spies,” Clem
said.

“Hold on! You’re not in this and they’ll be there awhile, you can
bet,” said Don. “You fellows slipped up in your attempt and this is
my job. There’s one way to get those chaps and that only, Duncan.
Listen to me--Wash, you get in back and lie low. We two will get in
on the front seat. We’ll dim the lights and then go along singing and
let on we’re half tipsy until we get right up to them. I’ll stop and
ask them for a drink and you turn the bull’s-eye on them and if it’s
the spies we’ll act quick; see?”

“I’m going with you,” said Clem.

“Not in my car,” Don retorted. But Clem walked to Don’s ambulance and
jumped in.

“We can scrap afterwards, Richards; not now. Come on--three are
better than two.”

“That’s so,” asserted Duncan.

The plan was carried out as laid down. With all their science and
suspicions those Hun spies had no idea of any such thing being
pulled off. Though three half-drunk Yankees were an unusual sight,
especially in an ambulance, it was nothing to bother about. To humor
them and let them go on was a simple matter.

“Oh, we won’t go home till evenin’!” sang Clem.

“Till mornin’, you blamed fool! D-don’t ye know the words?” Don
shouted, tickled to give Clem a dig. “Aw, dry up an’ let me sing
it! Thish-a-way it goes: Oh, we won’t get home till mornin’, till
broad-s-say--.”

With a grinding of brakes the ambulance came to a sudden stop, almost
even with the long, low car by the roadside. “S-say,” continued Don,
“any--you blokes got a drink? One good service man to another; eh,
friend? Just a little nip--you fellers are Red Cross, ain’t you? Eh?
Les’ see--. Hands up! Both of you, quick! One move and you’re dead
men! Out, fellows, and put a rope on them!”

One of the spies, the weazen fellow, began to protest in excellent
English:

“What do you mean by this? We haven’t done anything to--.” But Duncan
snatched up a clump of grass roots and shoved it into the fellow’s
mouth. The other man cowered back and tried at first to keep his
face away from the electric bull’s-eye Clem threw on them. Through
Duncan’s dexterity with strong twine taken from Don’s toolbox, both
men had their arms tied behind them in a jiffy so that they winced
with the pain.

“Do you fellows think this is funny? Let us loose, at once! We have
no time for jokes!” demanded the taller one, gazing at Don’s revolver
in a manner that showed he knew it was no joke.

“But you had time to play one of your kind of jokes on that poor
wounded soldier up on the hill,” Clem returned and the thin face of
the spy grew ghastly white. “We haven’t been up on the hill,” he
asserted--but another wad of grass-roots stopped his talk also. Don
took the bull’s-eye from Clem and threw it into the tall man’s face.

“Well, Stapley, I guess you know him; don’t you?”

“The fellow on the train, sure enough,” Clem said.

“Wonderful!” said Don. “You do have a lucid flash now and then.” But
before Clem could reply Don began to enlighten the spy:

“I guess you remember us back there in America. We got off at Lofton,
too. We got your cronies, Shultz and the whiskered chap, and I got
your pard up near Montdidier.”

Of course the man could make no reply. Don continued:

“Duncan, you can run my car, I guess. You take these nice chaps into
camp. In about half an hour they’ll face a firing squad.”

But Duncan shook his head. “What’s in me has got to come out. I’m
an ambulance driver and working to save people--ours and theirs,
too--but that don’t say I don’t just love gettin’ square more’n
anything else on this green earth! I told the corporal here I have
a little Indian in me. I have a heap and it’s reached high mark
right now. It might get the corporal in trouble and it may get me in
trouble, but I reckon you’re out of it, Richards. No matter; what
I want is to be the firing squad that fixes these blood-smeared
polecats. But I don’t want to do it with a gun. You just leave it to
me. I’m goin’ to take ’em over here in this field an’ stick a knife
into--”

“No, Duncan, you are not going to do anything of the kind!” Don
said in horror. “I won’t consent to this being anything irregular.
You may go along and see them shot, if you want to, but you can’t
knife them. Hold on there! Put that knife up, or I’m going to shoot
it out of your fingers. It would just about break my heart to hurt
you, old man, because I know you’re good stuff, but don’t try that
thing. Come, you’ve got more white blood in you than Indian and don’t
imitate these Huns.”

Duncan stood looking earnestly at Don while he spoke. Then, without a
word, he put his long-bladed claspknife into his pocket.

“You take my car, because it’s surer than this one, and get these
chaps where they’ll do no more harm. I’ll run their car and I’ll have
them send out for yours and fix it. I hope they’ll let you get into
the squad that does the shooting.”

“I don’t like to deprive you of your own car,” Duncan said. It was
easy to see that the fellow was true-blue, even if an act of savagery
made his blood boil with desire for personal revenge.

“Your errand is more important than mine,” Don continued. “Besides,
I’m glad, for Stapley and I would be sure to scrap on the way. I’d
have to rub it in about his letting these men get away on the hill.
And Stapley can’t take anything from me good-naturedly. He can
explain to you later what he thinks of me. I know already and I don’t
care a hoot. Come, Wash, climb out of there! We’ve got to see if we
can make this ramshackle ambulance travel. So long, Duncan.”

The military court gave the spies short shrift. Duncan was one of the
firing squad that did quick executions. The army _ambulancier_ then
went his way. Before morning he was again driving his own ambulance
and Don Richards’ car had been turned over to him and the grinning
Wash. Work on Hill 165 had been finished.

“The marines are going to try to take Bouresches and Belleau Wood
to-day, I hear,” Don said to Duncan, as they met on the road.

“I wish I was in that bunch of real men,” Duncan replied and passed
on. That was the last Don ever saw of the brave fellow, for Duncan
was shifted north of the Oise River where another Hun drive seemed
imminent, as they were short of ambulances in that sector.

Don’s orders were to run in close to the American fighting forces
without too grave risk, and if there was an advance, to keep pretty
near to it, as there would necessarily be many casualties. As the
Germans had learned already to recognize the Yanks as their most
formidable foes, they were sending some of their best troops to stop
them.

The Red Cross was showing splendid efficiency now. From stretcher
bearers to dressing stations, from its own evacuation hospitals to
ideally equipped bases and convalescent camps, it was the model for
all things humane in warfare. Eager were its men and women in doing
their share of the arduous and dangerous work, and proud, indeed,
those who were identified in any way with its glorious efforts.

“Drive the enemy from Bouresches and Belleau Wood!” was the order
from headquarters. Again, as one man, the marines went forward. The
Huns must be taught that their advance at the Château-Thierry front
was at an end.

“Pound the enemy’s lines in Bouresches!” came the order to the
artillery as a forerunner of the charge of the marines, and the
artillery pounded. Across the grain and flowering fields marched the
soldiers, advancing in thin lines, one after the other, the marines
in the center and on either flank a battalion of doughboys, regulars
of the United States army. This was the good old training in American
fighting methods: Advance on a run and lie down, advance and lie
down, the front rank shooting all the while, and when these fellows,
who must bear the brunt of the strong defense that the enemy was
making, were thinned out reinforcements were rushed from the rear to
fill up the broken ranks.

[Illustration: THEY WENT RIGHT TO WORK DISLODGING THE HUNS FROM THE
HOUSES.]

In every conceivable point of shelter, from every thicket, bit
of woodland, hollow or knoll around the village there were enemy
machine-gun units, with here and there larger calibre quick-firing
fieldpieces, sending a perfect hail of lead and iron across the
fields at those ever-advancing boys in khaki.

But it mattered little to the boys in khaki how fast and furious came
this death-dealing rain of bullets, for they kept right on into the
village, and they went right to work dislodging the Huns from the
houses, using rifle, hand-grenades, bayonets and pistols. The enemy
sought every means of protection; they fortified themselves behind
walls which the American artillery had left standing, or behind
piles of débris the shelling had made. They poked their rifles and
machine-guns out of windows, and cellar-entrances, and down from roof
tops. They made street barriers of parts of ruined buildings, and
thus contested every inch of ground until the Americans were upon
them and when they could no longer fight, they surrendered. Some ran
away while some went down fighting, for they had been told it was
better to die than to be taken prisoner by the cruel Americans.

When the village of Bouresches was clean of Huns, their artillery
made it hot for the conquerors. So marines and the doughboys found it
their turn to seek shelter. They did this so well that after hours of
shelling they had hardly lost another man.

Meanwhile, the troops not needed to defend the village from
counter-attacks of the enemy, rapidly re-formed and turned to make
the first assault on Belleau Wood, a hill crowned with a jungle of
trees and thickets. This stronghold of the enemy had for three days
proved impregnable. After the artillery had hammered it a while,
tearing to pieces half the trees on its southern edge, a reorganized
regiment of marines made a final charge, yelling like Indians, and
gained the crest. Then they swept through the forest, broke up the
enemy machine-gun nests and drove nearly double their number of Huns
out of the place. This was the bloodiest hand-to-hand fighting, for
they had to use the bayonet almost exclusively. Even at this game the
Americans proved themselves superior to the enemy, not only man to
man, but when fighting in formation. Necessarily it was a scattering
fight, but it illustrated the personal valor and intelligence of the
Yanks.

Thus, on June 11, 1918, the German strongholds at and near
Château-Thierry sector were captured, and their line pushed back
over three miles. Never again were the Huns to advance, but always
to retreat until the war ended. They had, as it were, run against a
stone wall from the top of which now floated the Stars and Stripes.

Corporal Stapley had been among those to charge into and capture
Bouresches. He had, of course, been in the ranks with his platoon,
dashing forward, dropping on the ground, hearing the bullets sing
above and around him; then going on again, blinded to everything
but the mad desire to come up with those machine-gun nests and to
destroy the men and guns which were trying so hard to destroy him
and his comrades. And reach the positions of the gun nests they did.
But as some of Stapley’s squad charged a group of six Huns pivoting
a gun around and working frantically with the mechanism, Clem was
aware that only three other men were with him. He dimly remembered
seeing one or two of them fall, and fail to get up again. But there
was no time to think of this now. With bayonets leveled, his comrades
followed their fleet-footed corporal and were upon the boches before
they could shoot. “Kamerad!” called out one fellow, lifting high his
hands, and the others, throwing down their weapons, followed suit.
Another marine squad followed without an officer. Clem took command
of this also.

“Two of you hold this bunch here! Kill them if they get gay! Come
on--the rest of you!”

They ran on. The houses of the village were close at hand and in
among these they went. Two of the men had originally qualified as
grenade-throwers. Clem told them to blow up anything that looked like
a gun nest. The others were to use rifle, bayonet and pistol only.
It was necessary to shout these orders above the rattle of guns and
yells of the charging marines on every side. The words were hardly
out of Clem’s mouth before the long, jacketed barrel of a machine-gun
was poked out of a cellar entrance on the street not fifty feet ahead
of them and the fire began to streak from its muzzle toward a group
of marines coming down a cross street. One of Clem’s new men lighted
his grenade, dashed forward, bowled it over-hand with a skill that
would have done credit to an expert cricketer. A mass of dust, dirt
and mangled objects blew out of the cellar and that gun nest was no
more. The little squad rushed on. Opposite a square stone building
from a window of which came a burst of flame and a ripping sound.
Clem saw some steps to the right which might lead to this nest. He
shouted to his men and leaped forward. At the top step he glanced
about. Three of his squad lay on the ground. Two were following him.
The heavy door was fastened. Clem drew back the butt of his gun to
break the lock, but one of the others fired into it, and as they
threw their bodies against the door it burst open.

Within a large room, like an inn parlor, two Huns were working the
machine-gun and a third met them with leveled rifle. Before Clem
could fire one of his men threw his weapon like a Zulu his spear
and the bayonet transfixed the Hun, who sank with a gasp. The other
marines were upon the two gunners before they had time even to shout
“Kamerad!” Freeing their bayonet points all three turned to leave the
building when a lone marine jumped in, shouting:

“Gun nest on the roof!”

“Get ’em!” shouted Clem, who was dimly aware that the man was Martin,
of his own squad.

They found a stairway. Dashing up this and along a hall, they climbed
another flight where they saw a ladder leading to an open trap door.

“I can fix ’em!” cried the remaining grenade man who had a rifle
also. He handed the weapon to Clem, ran up the ladder, lighted his
fuse and tossed it out on the roof. The explosion brought down
plaster within and filled the place with dust; Clem saw the body of a
man fall past the window. The grenade man was knocked off the ladder
by his own bomb, but he landed on his feet. The four men dashed down
to the street, and as they ran along, a Hun from behind a broken wall
hurled a grenade at them. Clem leaped to dodge it and two of his men
ducked and fell flat, but poor Martin, looking away, caught the full
force of the explosion at his feet. They saw him lifted up, twisted
about and fall in a broken heap, his clothing half torn from his
body. They knew their friend’s death had been instantaneous. Clem
was pushed back as by a great wind. The two other men were rolled
over and over. One of them looked up from where he lay and saw the
Hun grinning at them. He jumped up and leveled his gun, but the Hun
dodged back and they only had a glimpse of him lighting another
grenade. With all the speed at his command Clem made for the wall,
and with a leap cleared it. He came down on the fellow with both
feet, at the same time stabbing downward with his bayonet. He felt
the mass beneath his feet quiver and sink inert. Then Stapley started
to climb back over the wall and found himself pushed back by his
other two men who followed him over. Seven Germans coming along the
street, had seen the three marines and started toward them, firing.
The three Americans gave them such a warm reception that two of the
Huns dropped in their tracks and the other five turned and fled.

“After ’em, boys!” shouted Clem, and the three chased along a narrow
street to the eastern edge of the town where the Germans turned a
corner and came face to face with a full platoon of Americans who
took them prisoner.

The lieutenant in charge of this unit took great pleasure in the
sight of five Germans being pursued by three Americans. As the little
squad came up, he asked Clem to report action and casualties.

“Orders now are to report southwest of the village. Battalion will
reform. Fall in with us.”

Clem was glad of this. Though such fighting was intoxicating while it
lasted, it was sickening business after all. He had had enough of it.
He was glad he had done his duty--glad the town had been won and if
there were enough men left to hold the place, but a rest wouldn’t go
badly. Still, if there was to be more of such work, he was ready.



CHAPTER XX

FRIENDS


Ambulancier Donald Richards, with Washington White beside him, but
without his usual grin, drove his much battered car down the military
road and across the scarlet-flowered fields in the direction of the
battle sounds. From a rise of ground he could see advancing lines
of men, some distance apart, moving rapidly for a short space and
dropping on the ground; then arising and going forward to repeat
the movement--all this carried out with wonderful precision. At one
moment there were a thousand men thus spread out, moving swiftly. At
the next moment they were all prone on the ground, in perfect unison.

Don understood this perfectly. He had witnessed the same tactics a
few days before in the charge on Bouresches and they had won. But the
attempt to win Belleau Wood had been frustrated for three days by the
terrible machine-fire which greeted the determined Americans. Would
it be possible to attain their object this time before they were all
killed?

For he could see also, all over the field behind the charging
soldiers, many men who had fallen. In spots the ground was strewn
with bodies of the wounded and dead. As he gazed, horror-stricken yet
fascinated by the spectacle, he could discern the thinning out of the
charging lines, as they swept forward.

“We’ve got to get right down there, Wash, and bring some of those
fellows out,” Don said.

“Down whar? On de groun’ whar dem sojers is kilt? Say, Mist’ Donal’,
yu done that-a-way t’other day en’ yu-all knows how dis amberlance
looked when hit come out. En’ yu kin see now how she looked. En’ hit
wa’n’t no foolishness of ours dat we didn’t get sent to Kingdom Come.
En’ ’tain’t always dese yer po’ white Heinies is gwine miss us. Boun’
tu git it some time.”

“Oh, forget it, Wash! You always think we’re going to get hurt. You
see we haven’t been hurt yet and that’s as good as just starting out.”

On the ambulance went, dodging shell-holes, running around natural
obstacles, rapidly nearing the ground across which the marines had
charged not five minutes before. The boys overtook a light, active
fellow, on foot and trotting, though now with lagging steps, and Don
knew him for a messenger. Don slowed down and asked the lad to hop
in for a lift. But this was only for a fourth of a mile, for they
then soon came well within the edge of the zone of flying bullets and
shells. Here they met the first _brancardiers_ with a wounded man, so
the ambulance came to a stop. Without a word the runner leaped out
and dashed on. Don and Wash were filled with admiration for these
nervy fellows, who seemed to have no thought of danger in carrying
messages to officers in the field. Right here another runner came to
Don.

“Captain Baston says tell you there are five men, all badly wounded,
in a shell hole--over there, near those poplar trees--and they ought
to be got out. It won’t do to carry them far, he said. Got the nerve
to make it?”

Did he have the nerve? He saw that this first case was not a bad one
and could stand a little jolting. He told the _brancardiers_ to load
on their man and hop in. Then he turned his car across in line with
the German fire.

“I kin wait heah twill yuh come back. Yu ain’t got no special use fo’
me,” Wash began, but this time only a look from Don ended the negro’s
protest. In three minutes he had reached the shell-hole by the trees.
Half a dozen direct or ricocheting machine-gun bullets had hit the
ambulance, but had done no more damage than to add to the holes and
dents already in its sturdy sides.

It was the work of but a few minutes for the two _brancardiers_ with
their one stretcher, and Don and Wash with another, to get most of
the wounded fellows into the ambulance, while shells and smaller
calibre missiles flew and struck all round them. The last poor chap
was suffering with a wound in the leg. Entirely out of his mind he
fought against being moved, so Wash went back with the bearers to
hold the soldier on the stretcher. As they started back, Don, who had
been glancing at his carburetor, began to lower the hood over his
motor.

The sound of an approaching shell; nothing can describe it; the long
swish of a carriage whip, the rush of water at high pressure from
the nozzle of a hose, the wind singing past a kite string--these
might barely suggest it. Hearing it once it is never forgotten. Don
looked when he noticed it; one must do that when it is near, though.
Trying to dodge a shell is as useless as ducking at lightning.
Then came the thud of the projectile and the almost simultaneous
explosion. The boy’s eyes, just above the hood, had been upon the
approaching stretcher. The next instant the group of four--the
_brancardiers_, Wash and the raving man--had ceased to exist amidst
a furious upheaval of flame and earth and stones. Innumerable flying
pieces struck the engine hood and Don’s helmet. The wounded men were
protected by the sides of the ambulance.

Don walked slowly over and looked down at the hole made by the shell;
he glanced around at the torn and twisted bodies flung twenty feet
away. Something like a sob choked him as he recognized the black face
of his helper. Don had almost compelled him to come within this area
of awful danger, else the poor fellow would have been living now.
Flinging a suggestion of salt water from his eyes, the boy leaped to
his seat and addressed the wounded men behind him:

“Where was the nearest dressing station set up?”

“Back of that low hill to the left,” a weak voice directed, and the
car shot forward.

“Get ’em in here! You bring in the biggest loads, so keep at it!”
said the field-surgeon. “Others of your crowd are getting them back
to the evacuation hospital all right. Go to it, boy!”

And again Don went flying toward the fighting front, toward the level
fields filled with crimson flowers, waving grass or ripening grain,
stretched south and west from Belleau Wood.

Up the slopes of the hill he could now see the indomitable marines,
still charging, overcoming all opposition, destroying the machine-gun
nests, bayoneting the gunners, and defeating every attempt of the
enemy to check their attack. On into the fields--to the very foot
of the hill--Don drove his car, looking to the right and left for
_blessés_. The bullets, as never before, sung around him, threshing
out the grass and grain, and tearing up the blood-red poppies.

Here also the stretcher-bearers were more than busy. Two, with a
wounded man, came running to Don. Another wounded man crawled and
dragged himself toward the car, until the boy saw and helped him. The
soldier could speak only in halting accents.

“There’s one--our corporal--down back--bush. Helped
me--water--canteen. Fainted, then--good fellow--get him.”

Don, fishing in his pockets for his ammonia spirits and grabbing a
water bottle, ran to the spot designated, a hundred feet away. The
marine lay on his stomach, his face hidden in the crook of his left
arm. Evidently he had come to. The other arm lay limp on the grass. A
clot of blood stained the clothing on his left side.

“_Ambulancier_ here. I’ll help you, or get a stretcher if you
can’t--” Don began, stooping to lift the fellow. The wounded man
twisted about, raised his head and once again Don Richards and
Clement Stapley gazed into each other’s eyes. But the look of
defiance was gone.

“Clem, poor chap, are you hurt much? Where?”

“Arm busted, Don. Side cut a little. Flesh wound, I think. If it’s
worse, tell mother and dad.”

“I don’t believe it’s bad, Clem. Don’t you think it! We’ll see that
it isn’t. My car--”

“I can walk to it, perhaps. Legs O. K. Use gun as crutch.”

“No; I’ll help you; carry you, if need be. Get your good arm over my
shoulder.”

“That’ll bring you on the side where the bullets--”

“Well, what of that? I don’t--”

“No, you don’t care, but I do, Don. If I get another it’s only
one--but you--”

“Never mind! Come on. You know I always have my way. Your arm around
my neck.”

With painful laboriousness the two began to walk across. They had
gone a dozen feet when Clem heard the sound of a bullet striking
flesh. He had heard it too often not to know it. But Don did not
hear it. He only sank to the ground. Clem struggled to maintain his
footing but fell beside him.



CHAPTER XXI

DISTINGUISHED


“Not killed, are you, Don?”

No answer.

“Done for! And just when we had become friends,” Clem murmured. But
upon the instant an arm that he had been unconsciously lying across
gave a twitch. Clem lifted himself and looked into the other boy’s
face.

“Hey, Don! You’re not dead, are you?”

Don Richards opened his eyes. “If I am, it’s right comfortable,
except something’s the matter with my shoulder. Was I hit? Oh yes;
sure, I know. I came over to help you; didn’t I? Then I got mine.
Head feels queer. Must have gone to sleep. Knocked out, eh?”

“Something like that. But, glory, I’m glad you weren’t killed! I
thought you were.”

“The Huns haven’t got a real bullet with my number on it. This was
only a fake one made of corn pith. Say, let’s make the ambulance and
get out of here.”

It was now a still slower and sorrier procession than before, but
pluck and mutual helpfulness got the two boys over most of the way
until _brancardiers_ came to them. One of these latter could drive a
car, and he offered to run the ambulance to the dressing station.

Two hours later the two boys, both swathed in bandages, lay on
adjoining cots, following operations. Two days later the big, roomy
Red Cross base, with its abundant light, comforts, attentive nurses
and absence of flies, received them. As they left the evacuation tent
for this delightful place, Major Little, still on duty, said to Don:

“I always believed you’d get hit, my boy. You took too much risk.
Came pretty near ending you. Just missed the lung by about one inch.
But you’ll be all right and so will your friend, the corporal, here.
Well, I want to say your work has been admirable and I think they
will have something to say about that at the base. Good-bye and good
luck!”

And at the base they did have something to say about it, but not
alone to Don. A month later some French and American officers
visited the hospital and they came direct to the easy chairs occupied
by Clem and Don on the wide veranda of the old château which had been
turned into a convalescent ward.

The American general spoke first, taking the right hand of each lad.

“Well, I suppose you two young scamps know what we do over here to
show our appreciation, eh?”

Both boys were silent and much embarrassed.

“Well, one American way, like that of the British, is to mention
names in dispatches. You fellows won’t object to that when you hear
what is going to be said of you. Corporal, there has been no braver
part taken than that by you in the charge on the Bois de Belleau.
And we have it that you did some fine work in Bouresches, and on
Hill 165. And you--Master Red Cross driver--we have heard some great
stories of you. But better than dispatches will be the Medals of
Honor for both of you. Here is another matter: We have received data
about the arrest of some spies. This, it seems, started back in
the States and ended here. Well, that was notably fine work--fine
work! But our friend here, _Monsieur le Général_ Marcier, also has
something to say.”

Mister the General, twirling his pointed mustache with a beaming
smile, spoke what he had to say quite briefly and it was just as
well that he did so, between very bad English and very nasal French,
rapidly delivered, the boys could hardly get head or tail of it. They
did, however, both get the well-known words at the end of the speech.
These delightful syllables were _Croix de Guerre_. And then again the
American commander spoke:

“It is by just such lads as you have proved yourselves to be that the
enemy was stopped and turned back at Château-Thierry. And by many
such as you this war will soon be won. You boys will be invalided
home and sent across shortly. Be as good citizens as you have been
brave men here. Good-bye and good luck!”

The officers went their way, making welcome little speeches to
others. Don leaned over and slapped his friend gently on the back.

“Medal of Honor! and the _Croix de Guerre_!”



       *       *       *       *       *
       *       *       *       *       *



A PENNANT-WINNER IN BOYS’ BOOKS!

  Hugh S. Fullerton’s Great Books

  The Jimmy Kirkland Series
  of Baseball Stories

  By HUGH S. FULLERTON

  America’s Greatest Baseball Writer. Author of
  “Touching Second,” Etc.

[Illustration]

Combining his literary skill with his unsurpassed knowledge of
baseball from every angle--especially from a boy’s angle--Mr.
Fullerton has written a new series of baseball stories for boys,
which will be seized with devouring interest by every youthful
admirer of the game. While the narrative is predominant in these
books, Mr. Fullerton has encompassed a large amount of practical
baseball instruction for boys; and, what is of greater value, he has
shown the importance of manliness, sportsmanship and clean living to
any boy who desires to excel in baseball or any other sport. These
books are bound to sell wherever they are seen by boys or parents.
Handsomely illustrated and bound. 12mo. Cloth. New and original cover
design.

JIMMY KIRKLAND OF THE SHASTA BOYS’ TEAM

JIMMY KIRKLAND OF THE CASCADE COLLEGE TEAM

JIMMY KIRKLAND AND A PLOT FOR A PENNANT

Sold Singly or in Boxed Sets

Price per volume, 75 cents

  THE JOHN C. WINSTON CO., _Publishers_
  WINSTON BUILDING         PHILADELPHIA



The Big Series of Boys’ Books for 1918


  THE BRIGHTON BOYS SERIES

  By Lieutenant James R. Driscoll

[Illustration]

An entirely new series of Boys’ Books which have their setting in the
Great War and deal with patriotism, heroism and adventure that should
make a strong appeal to American boys. The volumes average 250 pages
and contain four illustrations each.

The BRIGHTON BOYS in the TRENCHES

The BRIGHTON BOYS with the SUBMARINE FLEET

The BRIGHTON BOYS in the FLYING CORPS

The BRIGHTON BOYS in the RADIO SERVICE

The BRIGHTON BOYS with the BATTLE FLEET

12mo. Price per volume, 75 cents

  THE JOHN C. WINSTON CO., _Publishers_
  WINSTON BUILDING         PHILADELPHIA



THE NORTH POLE SERIES

By Prof. Edwin J. Houston

[Illustration]

Dr. Houston has spent a lifetime in teaching boys the principles of
physical and scientific phenomena and knows how to talk and write
for them in a way that is most attractive. In the reading of these
stories the most accurate scientific information will be absorbed.

HANDSOMELY BOUND

The volumes, 12mo. in size, are bound in Extra English Cloth and are
attractively stamped in colors and full gold titles. Sold separately
or in sets, boxed.

THE SEARCH FOR THE NORTH POLE

THE DISCOVERY OF THE NORTH POLE

CAST AWAY AT THE NORTH POLE

3 Titles

Price per volume, $1.00

  THE JOHN C. WINSTON CO., _Publishers_
  WINSTON BUILDING         PHILADELPHIA



A STERLING SERIES OF BOOKS FOR BOYS


  The “Bell Haven” Series

  By George Barton

[Illustration]

The “Bell Haven” series is a group of stories for boys depicting life
in an American preparatory school. They are full of action from start
to finish and will stir the red blood of every youth. The characters
are life-like and based upon observation and an intimate knowledge of
school-boy life. These stories are bright and original, replete with
plot interest, and out of the beaten path. A distinctive cover design
for each book adds to the attractiveness of the series. 12mo. Cloth.

  I.   THE BELL HAVEN NINE
          A Story of the Baseball Team

  II.  THE BELL HAVEN EIGHT
          A Story of the School Crew

  III. THE BELL HAVEN FIVE
          A Story of the School Basketball Team

  IV.  THE BELL HAVEN ELEVEN
          A Story of the School Football Eleven

Price per volume, 75 cents

  THE JOHN C. WINSTON CO., _Publishers_
  WINSTON BUILDING         PHILADELPHIA



  Critics uniformly agree that parents can safely place in the hands
  of boys and girls any book written by Edward S. Ellis

  The “FLYING BOYS” Series

  By EDWARD S. ELLIS

  Author of the Renowned “Deerfoot” Books, and 100
  other famous volumes for young people

During his trip abroad last summer, Mr. Ellis became intensely
interested in aeroplane and airship flying in France, and this
new series from his pen is the visible result of what he would
call a “vacation.” He has made a study of the science and art of
aeronautics, and these books will give boys just the information they
want about this marvelous triumph of man.

First Volume: THE FLYING BOYS IN THE SKY

Second Volume: THE FLYING BOYS TO THE RESCUE

The stories are timely and full of interest and stirring events.
Handsomely illustrated and with appropriate cover design.

Price Per volume, 75 cents. Postpaid



This series will appeal to up-to-date American Girls. The subsequent
volumes will carry the Ranch Girls through numerous ups and downs of
fortune and adventures in America and Europe


  THE “RANCH GIRLS” SERIES IS A
  NEW LINE OF BOOKS FOR GIRLS

  ----THE----
  Ranch Girls at Rainbow Lodge

  By MARGARET VANDERCOOK

This first volume of the new RANCH GIRLS SERIES, will stir up the
envy of all girl readers to a life of healthy exercise and honest
helpfulness. The Ranch Girls undertake the management of a large
ranch in a western state, and after many difficulties make it pay and
give them a good living. They are jolly, healthy, attractive girls,
who have the best kind of a time, and the young readers will enjoy
the book as much as any of them. The first volume of the Ranch Girls
Series will be followed by other titles carrying the Ranch Girls
through numerous ups and downs of fortune and adventures in America
and Europe.

Attractive cover design. Excellent paper. Illustrated. 12mo.

Cloth Price, Per volume, 75 cents. Postpaid

  THE JOHN C. WINSTON CO., _Publishers_
  WINSTON BUILDING         PHILADELPHIA



  HURLBUT’S STORY OF THE BIBLE

  ⁂ FROM GENESIS TO REVELATION

  BY REV. JESSE LYMAN HURLBUT, D.D.

A BOOK FOR OLD AND YOUNG

Told in language that interests both Old and Young. “Supersedes all
other books of the kind.” Recommended by all Denominations for its
freshness and accuracy; for its freedom from doctrinal discussion;
for its simplicity of language; for its numerous and appropriate
illustrations; as the best work on the subject. The greatest aid to
Parents, Teachers and all who wish the Bible Story in a simplified
form. 168 separate stories, each complete in itself, yet forming a
continuous narrative of the Bible. 762 pages, nearly 300 half-tone
illustrations, 8 in colors. Octavo.


THE FLEXIBLE MOROCCO STYLE

“HURLBUT’S STORY OF THE BIBLE” can be obtained in FLEXIBLE MOROCCO
BINDING with red under gold edges. This new binding will give
the work a wider use, for in this convenient form the objection
to carrying the ordinary bound book is entirely overcome. This
convenient style also contains “HURLBUT’S BIBLE LESSONS FOR BOYS AND
GIRLS,” a system of questions and answers, based on the stories in
the book, by which the Old Testament story can be taught in a year,
and the New Testament story can be taught in a year. This edition
also contains 17 Maps printed in colors, covering the geography of
the Old Testament and of the New Testament.

These additional features are not included in the Cloth bound book,
but are only to be obtained in the new Flexible Morocco style.

Cloth, extra Price, $2.50

  THE JOHN C. WINSTON CO., _Publishers_
  WINSTON BUILDING         PHILADELPHIA



  TRANSCRIBER’S NOTE

  Italic text is denoted by _underscores_.

  The original text had large drop-capitals at the start of each
  chapter, and omitted the initial quotation mark in an opening
  sentence of a conversation. That missing quotation mark has been
  inserted in this etext.

  Obvious typographical errors and punctuation errors have been
  corrected after careful comparison with other occurrences within
  the text and consultation of external sources.

  Except for those changes noted below, all misspellings in the text,
  and inconsistent or archaic usage, have been retained. For example,
  shell hole, shell-hole; farm house, farmhouse; boylike, boy-like;
  jailors; combatting; intrenched.

  Pg 53, ‘mightly independent’ replaced by ‘mightily independent’.
  Pg 54, ‘will be going, to’ replaced by ‘will be going, too’.
  Pg 56, ‘to he satisfied’ replaced by ‘to be satisfied’.
  Pg 59, ‘amply satisified’ replaced by ‘amply satisfied’.
  Pg 71, ‘not checked not’ replaced by ‘not checked nor’.
  Pg 76, ‘handorgan’ replaced by ‘hand organ’.
  Pg 82, ‘muderous Hun’ replaced by ‘murderous Hun’.
  Pg 95, ‘cumulous clouds’ replaced by ‘cumulus clouds’.
  Pg 96, ‘the while thing’ replaced by ‘the white thing’.
  Pg 102, ‘fer a veteran’ replaced by ‘for a veteran’.
  Pg 108, ‘and you--Don’ replaced by ‘And you--Don’.
  Pg 114, ‘the work an so’ replaced by ‘the work and so’.
  Pg 116, ‘They’s have you’ replaced by ‘They’d have you’.
  Pg 123, ‘hideous meledy’ replaced by ‘hideous melody’.
  Pg 125, ‘and said Don’ replaced by ‘and said to Don’.
  Pg 135, ‘camion contigent’ replaced by ‘camion contingent’.
  Pg 141, ‘real while folks’ replaced by ‘real white folks’.
  Pg 151, ‘does it carry then’ replaced by ‘does it carry them’.
  Pg 158, ‘the day everhauling’ replaced by ‘the day overhauling’.
  Pg 159, ‘certain and reggular’ replaced by ‘certain and regular’.
  Pg 166, ‘though homlier’ replaced by ‘though homelier’.
  Pg 171, ‘similiar shouts’ replaced by ‘similar shouts’.
  Pg 211, ‘short shift’ replaced by ‘short shrift’.
  Pg 219, ‘jumped up an’ replaced by ‘jumped up and’.
  Pg 232, ‘well-know words’ replaced by ‘well-known words’.





*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Brighton Boys at Chateau-Thierry" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.



Home