Part 2 out of 4
automobiles. He increased the speed of the car slightly to make sure
of this fact. The car driven by Hal was gaining, but so slightly as to
be almost imperceptible.
"Those fellows are hitting up a pretty swift gait," the lad muttered.
"I wonder why."
The sound of a shot was suddenly swept back to Hal's ear.
"Hello!" he muttered. "Trouble ahead."
He slowed down, for he had no mind to mix up with the Germans so long
as it could be avoided. Suddenly the first automobile ahead came to a
stop. The second did likewise. Hal shut off his searchlight and
approached slowly in the darkness.
It became plain, as he drew closer, that the first automobile had been
stopped by a pistol shot, which probably had punctured a rear tire.
There came more pistol shots and then silence. Hal brought his own
machine to a dead stop.
A few moments later one of the automobiles ahead, as Hal could see by
the position of its searchlight, began to turn in the road. Instantly
Hal flashed his own light on and sent the car forward. This he did
because he realized it would look suspicious should the flare of the
other light show Hal's car standing still in the road.
The other car had now come about and approached Hal's machine.
McKenzie and Stubbs both had been watching the proceedings ahead with
strained eyes. Now they were ready for Hal's words:
"Guns ready back there. We'll pass if they let us alone."
The cars came closer together. Suddenly Hal was struck with a thought
that sent a chill down his spine. Suppose Chester was in that car!
Maybe the pursuit he had witnessed was the pursuit of Chester.
The cars were almost together now. Instead of turning off to the right
to allow the other to pass, as it seemed to have every intention of
doing, Hal only swerved slightly. Then, before the other car could
pass, he brought his own machine to a stop and sprang to the ground,
revolver in hand. McKenzie was close behind him.
Only Stubbs remained in the automobile, and he, too, held a revolver
ready for instant action.
A voice from the strange car hailed Hal.
"Why do you stop us like this?" it demanded.
"Want to see who you are," was the lad's reply. "A spy has escaped
from Berlin, and I have orders to search all vehicles."
"You are mistaken," said the voice. "The spy has not escaped. We have
"Good!" exclaimed Hal. "Nevertheless, I must satisfy myself that you
are speaking the truth and are what you represent yourselves to be."
"Of course," returned the voice. "Approach."
Hal went forward slowly, gun in hand, as did McKenzie.
Hal now made out that there were four occupants of the car, besides the
man at the wheel and a figure stretched out in the tonneau.
With his cap down over his eyes, he peered in. The men were in
civilian garb and Hal knew, therefore, that they must be members of the
secret service and not of the military. He knew, too, that they would
consequently be that much harder to handle. Nevertheless, he
determined upon a bold stroke.
"Hands up, all of you I" he cried in a stern voice.
His revolver covered the occupants in the front seat. McKenzie covered
"Here, what's the meaning of this?" exclaimed a man who seemed to be
the leader. "You fool! Haven't you been convinced yet that we are
what we say."
"Perfectly," returned Hal quietly. "That's why I must insist that you
raise your hands. Instantly!" His voice hardened and his finger
tightened on the trigger. "Shoot without hesitancy," he warned
McKenzie's lips were set in a determined line. It was plain that he
would need no urging.
"Well," said one of the Germans, "it's my belief you are also spies."
"Hands up!" repeated Hal.
"If you must have it you must!" exclaimed the first German.
His hand flashed up and in it was a revolver.
McKenzie's revolver flashed. The German dropped back.
The man at the wheel released his hold on the steering apparatus and
also reached for a gun. Hal dropped him without changing his
One of the Germans, before either Hal or McKenzie could stop him,
hurled himself over the far side of the car. The other two raised
"That other fellow is probably bent on mischief," said Hal to himself,
"but we'll have to take a chance. Cover 'em" he ordered McKenzie,
"while I get their guns!"
Hal advanced to the side of the car and deprived the two Germans of
their revolvers. Then he climbed in and motioned the Germans to get
out. After that he bent over the still form in the bottom of the car.
It was Chester.
"Keep those fellows covered, McKenzie," he warned. "Don't let them
move. One of them may have the list."
The Germans made no move under the muzzle of McKenzie's gun, held in a
Hal lifted Chester's head to his knee. As he did so there was a sharp
report from nearby, quickly followed by a second, and Hal felt a slight
pain in his left arm.
He dropped Chester's head and leaped to the ground.
"That's the man who escaped," he said. "I'll have to get him,
McKenzie. You watch, these fellows closely."
"It's all right, Hal," came a voice from the lads own car. "I got
It was the voice of Stubbs, and the little man now came forward.
"I stayed behind to cover you fellows," he explained. "The man who
jumped out of the car made a detour and came up to my car. From its
protection he took a shot at you. He didn't see me in the darkness,
though, and I beat him to it. He was so close I couldn't miss."
"Thanks, Stubbs," said Hal quietly. "Now you look in the car and see
if you can't find some rope or blankets or something to tie these
Stubbs returned shortly with several thin blankets, which Hal quickly
fashioned into an improvised rope. The two prisoners were bound.
"Now search 'em for the list," said Hal.
The war correspondent did so. There was no list to be found.
"Search the one you just disposed of, Stubb,"' Hal ordered.
The little man obeyed, and a moment later gave an exclamation of
"Here it is," he cried.
"Good!" said Hal. "Now we'll lay these fellows where they can't move
to give an alarm."
This, too, was but the work of a moment.
"Lend a hand, McKenzie," said Hal. "We'll move Chester into our own car
and then move on. It is dangerous to remain here."
Chester was gently transferred from one car to the other and laid in
"You fellows see if you can revive him as we go along," said Hal. "We
have no time to waste."
He sprang again to the wheel, and the car moved on.
Daylight overtook the four friends as they sped along the country
road. Occasionally other automobiles flashed by, but they were not
Under the administering hands of Stubbs and McKenzie, signs of life
soon became apparent in Chester's body. He moaned feebly once or
twice, and then opened his eyes. For a moment he did not realize where
he was, but with remembrance of the recent attack, he suddenly sat up
and aimed a blow at Stubbs, in whose lap the lad's head had rested.
"I say! What's the meaning of this?" cried Stubbs. "What are you
trying to hit me for?"
"Is that you, Stubbs?" asked Chester in a feeble voice.
"You bet it's me, and I'm going to spank you good if you don't keep
"How'd you get here?"
"That's a long story," replied Stubbs, "and we don't have time to tell
"How do you feel, old man?" asked McKenzie.
"Great Scott! You here, too?" exclaimed Chester.
"Yes; and Hal is driving this car. You keep quiet now. We're in grave
danger and you must get all the rest you can. We may have need of your
services before long."
Chester's head dropped back and his eyes closed. He sat up abruptly
again a moment later, however, and demanded sharply:
"Where's the list?"
"Safe," replied Stubbs quietly.
Chester sank back again with an exclamation of satisfaction.
MCKENZIE IN ACTION
It was broad daylight now and Hat felt the necessity of traveling at a
slower speed than he had through the darkness of the night.
Accordingly he reduced the speed of the big car to not more than
thirty-five miles an hour.
Stubbs leaned forward and called to Hal.
"How far do you suppose we are from the Dutch border?"
"Don't know," was the reply, "but it's a long ways. We're not more
than 70 miles from Berlin."
Several times during the next few hours they were halted, but were
permitted to pass on, after showing their passports. Apparently the
Berlin authorities had not wired ahead, and Hal was unable to account
for this satisfactorily.
"Something peculiar about it," he muttered, as he bent over the wheel.
For the next few hours the automobile proceeded on its way without
interruption, save for a single stop to replenish gasoline and air.
It was well along toward evening when Stubbs announced that the Dutch
frontier was only a few miles distant. Once over the line they would
be comparatively safe.
A foreboding of trouble swept over Hal.
Chester had slept during most of the trip thus far. McKenzie had
examined the lad carefully and discovered that he was suffering from a
flesh wound in the left side. The Canadian had bound this up as well
as he could as the automobile jostled along.
His experienced eye told him there was nothing dangerous about the
wound. It was painful, of course, and Chester would naturally be stiff
in body for some time; but, providing the wound was kept clean, there
was no danger of infection.
Now, at Hal's injunction, Stubbs aroused Chester. The lad opened his
"How do you feel, old man?" asked McKenzie.
Chester sat up and passed a hand across his forehead.
"I don't feel any too playful," he said with a wry smile. "Where are
"Getting pretty close to the Dutch border," returned McKenzie.
"What'd you want to wake me for?" Chester demanded of Stubbs.
"Believe me," said Stubbs, "I didn't want to wake you up. It's usually
safer for all concerned when you and Hal are both asleep. I woke you
up because Hal told me to."
"That's all right, then," said Chester. "But don't you try to rub it
into me, Stubbs, just because I've got a bullet hole in me is no sign
I'm a cripple, you know."
"Maybe not," said Stubbs. "Here, take this gun."
He passed a revolver to Chester.
"What's the idea?" demanded Chester, taking the revolver; "going to
fight me a duel or something?"
"Don't be a fool," said Stubbs. "We're still in Germany, remember.
You may need that gun before we get out."
"All right, Stubbs," returned Chester. "Thanks."
Ahead, Hal suddenly made out a large body of men in such position as to
block the road. He slowed down the car, and, leaning back, addressed
"If I'm not mistaken," he said quietly, pointing, "just beyond lies the
Dutch border. Once across we are comparatively safe. At least the
Germans will not dare to follow us on to neutral ground. At the same
time, if we are apprehended by Dutch military authorities our mission
will be a failure, because we shall be interned. What is your advice?"
"Get into Holland first and let matters take their course later," said
"I agree with you," said McKenzie.
"And I," said Hal.
"Well," said Stubbs, "I don't. Not that it will make any difference,
of course, because you will do as you wish anyhow."
"If you have any better plan, Stubbs," said Chester, "let's hear it."
"I don't have any plan," declared Stubbs, "but seems to me you could
think of a better one. To rush through those fellows ahead means a
fight, a that's why you decided on that plan. I'm against a fight at
"So I perceive," said McKenzie dryly.
"Well; you stick along anyhow, Stubbs," said Chester.
"Oh, I'll stick," said Stubbs, "but I'm going to tell you right now I
don't think I'm going to do you any good."
"Well, if we are decided," said Hal, "we might as well go on. We'll
show our passports again and it may be we'll get through without
question. However, something tells me we are going to have trouble, so
get your guns ready."
"If you think we're going to have trouble, I'm absolutely positive of
it," Stubbs mumbled to himself.
However, each looked to his weapons and made sure that they were in
"One of us has got to get through," said Chester in a low voice. "Who
has the list, Stubbs?"
"Hal," was the response.
"Then Hal must get through no matter what happens to the rest of us,"
said Chester quietly.
"Good lord!" said Stubbs. "Why didn't I keep that list!"
As the large automobile approached, several of the Germans ahead
stepped directly into the road and one threw up a hand in a signal
demanding a halt. Hal made out that at this point there were perhaps a
dozen men, though to each side he saw countless other forms. These
latter, however, appeared no wise interested in the automobile and its
occupants, but went about their several duties.
Hal put on the brakes and the automobile came to a stop a few feet from
the nearest German, who, it appeared, was a colonel of infantry.
The German, followed by his men, approached the car and surrounded it.
"Who are you?" he demanded.
"Dutch war correspondents," replied Hal quietly.
"Your passports," demanded the German.
The four friends produced their passports and extended them to the
officer. The latter scanned them hastily, then cried:
"As I thought. You are the men we want. Seize them!" This last
command to his soldiers.
Instantly the dozen soldiers swooped toward the automobile, their
rifles leveled. At the same moment Hal sent the large automobile
forward with a jump.
The German rifles spat fire. Revolvers appeared simultaneously in the
hands of Chester and McKenzie. Both sprang to their feet, and, each
holding to a side of the machine, they returned the fire, as Hal bent
over the wheel.
Chester and McKenzie fired together.
In spite of the movement of the car their aim was true, and two German
soldiers fell in their tracks. Stubbs still kept his seat.
The automobile, with its first lurch forward, had mowed down several of
the enemy, and now dashed forward with a clear path to the Dutch
Behind, at command from the German officer, the troopers, still upon
their feet, fell to their knees, and, taking deliberate aim at the
rapidly moving car, fired.
There was an explosion from the automobile. The car jumped crazily.
Chester, still standing, revolver in hand, was flung violently into his
seat, but McKenzie was not so fortunate. He toppled from the car head
One of the German bullets had punctured a rear tire. Hal brought the
machine to a stop.
"Out and run for it!" cried Hal, and suited the action to the word.
Chester clambered out with more difficulty, for the wound in his side
still pained him. McKenzie, strange as it may seem, had not been badly
hurt by his fall. He got to his feet, still clutching his revolver.
As the Germans hurried toward him, he raised the automatic and opened
The first German pitched headlong to earth, as did the second.
McKenzie gave ground slowly.
With a swift look he saw that Hal had almost reached the Dutch border,
which he perceived was guarded by a squad of Dutch soldiers. Chester
also was limping in that direction. Stubbs, in spite of his opposition
to fighting, was lending the lad a helping hand.
"They'll make it, if I can hold these fellows a minute," muttered
He faced the foe again, and from a pocket brought forth a second
"Not for nothing was I called the best shot in the northwest," he said
Hal's idea in not waiting to assist in the flight of the others,
McKenzie knew on the instant. The list they had risked so much to get
must be taken from German territory at all hazards. McKenzie knew,
too, that Chester and Stubbs were simply following instructions when
they also fled. It was every man for himself. A German bullet
whistled close to the Canadian.
"Well," he said quietly, "I'll get a few of you before you drop me."
He faced his foes unflinchingly.
SAFE AT LAST
McKenzie's arms went up again -- not shoulder high -- just to his
hips. For McKenzie, in his early days, had been reckoned in the
Canadian northwest as the most deadly shot in the country. He fired
from his hips and aimed by instinct and not by sight.
Each automatic flashed once and two more of the foe fell to the
ground. McKenzie staggered a bit as a German bullet plowed into his
shoulder. Then his revolvers spoke again.
As he fought, the Canadian gave ground slowly. He seemed to bear a
charmed life. Two other bullets struck him -- one in the arm and the
other in the thigh, but no one reached a vital spot.
Hal, Chester and Stubbs, in the meantime, had reached and crossed the
Dutch border. There they were immediately taken in charge by order of'
the Dutch officer in command. Hal addressed the officer quickly.
"Can't you do something for my friend?" he demanded, pointing to where
McKenzie was still battling against heavy odds.
The Dutch, officer shook his head.
"I would if I could," he said, his face flushed.
"He is a brave man, and it is a pity for him to die thus. But Holland
is neutral. To interfere might embroil us."
"But if I can show you how?" asked Hal eagerly.
"If you can show me how, yes!" exclaimed the Dutchman. "Talk quickly."
"We carry Dutch passports," said Hal quietly. "That should suffice.
However, cannot you send your men forward under the pretext that the
Dutch border at this point extends an additional one hundred yards?
That will be enough."
"Oh, I know it doesn't, but that will be up to others than you. It
will be the subject of diplomatic negotiations. Will you?"
For a moment the Dutch officer hesitated. Then he commanded an officer
who stood near him.
"Captain Hodden! You will move forward with your company and inform
the foe that if he persists in firing on Dutch soil we shall be forced
to return it!"
The Dutch captain seemed only glad for this excuse. He dashed away,
and a moment later Dutch troops advanced onto German soil.
McKenzie, meanwhile, found that he had but two shots left in his
weapons. He glanced backward, and as he did so the Dutch troops
"If I can reach them," the man thought.
He whirled, emptied his automatics into the face of his enemies, dashed
the now useless weapons after the bullets, and took to his heels,
zigzagging as he ran.
The bullets in his body impeded his progress, but he reached the
advancing Dutch troops safety. There was a cry of anger from the
German lines as McKenzie found shelter among the Dutch troops. The
Germans halted, and an officer advanced.
"I must ask you to deliver that man to me," he said to Captain Hodden.
"I am sorry, but what you ask is impossible," was the reply. "This is
Dutch territory, and you advance further at your peril."
"Dutch territory!" exclaimed the exasperated German. "You stand on
German ground, and the man you are protecting is a spy. I demand his
"You won't get him," was the reply, "and I am instructed to inform you
that the next German bullet that falls on Dutch ground will be
considered a hostile act against a neutral nation. It will mean war!"
"I don't care what it means," shouted the German, now thoroughly
"Perhaps not," said Captain Hodden, "but your superiors may. I would
advise you to order your men to fall back."
For a moment the German hesitated, and it appeared that he would risk a
breach of neutrality to capture McKenzie. At last he turned away.
"Holland will rue this day!" he exclaimed, as he ordered his men to
Captain Hodden now retreated to Dutch territory, where McKenzie was
turned over to the Dutch colonel.
"Thanks for the reinforcements," he said quietly. "They would have
done for me sure."
Hal, Chester and Stubbs crowded about and shook the Canadian by the
hand. The colonel asked to see their passports, and the four friends
produced their bogus documents.
"So you are Herr Block, eh?" he demanded, eyeing Hal closely.
Hal bowed, but did not reply.
"As it chances," said the Dutch officer sternly, "I happen to be the
brother of Herr Block, so I know you are not he. You are under arrest,
"For what?" demanded Hal.
"For traveling under false passports, sir. You friends are under
arrest also. You shall be sent to Amsterdam under guard. And you told
me you were Dutch subjects!"
"No I didn't," said Hal. "I told you we carried Dutch passports, and so
"It amounts to the same thing. It seems I have broken Dutch neutrality
to help a batch of spies. You are all under arrest."
He summoned Captain Hodden to take charge of the four friends.
"You will be responsible for them," Colonel Block said.
The captain saluted and marched his prisoners away. They were put in a
tent some distance away and a guard stationed over them. They were not
"Well," said Hal, "we're out of Germany, but, it seems to be a case of
out of the frying-pan into the fire."
"They can't shoot us as spies," declared Stubbs. "Holland is not at
war and we have not been active against her."
"No, but they can take this list away from me," said Hal, "and it has
to go to Washington."
"Then we'll have to get out of here," said McKenzie.
"A nice job," declared Chester, "and two of us wounded. By the way,
McKenzie, your wounds need attention. I'll call the Dutchman and have
you fixed up."
He hailed the guard outside, who in turn passed the word for the
captain. The latter appeared a short time later, and Chester explained
what he wanted. The captain moved away and fifteen minutes later a
Dutch physician entered the tent ad dressed McKenzie's wounds.
"Well, that feels some better," said McKenzie with a laugh, as the
surgeon departed. "I feel as good as new now."
The four were kept in the tent all night, and early the next morning
were informed that they would be taken to Amsterdam at noon. The trip
was made under heavy guard, and that evening the four friends found
themselves secure in a military prison in the Dutch capital.
"We're safe enough here, that's certain," declared Stubbs.
"We're safe enough, if you mean we can't out," Hal agreed. "But in
some way or other this list must be delivered to General Pershing."
"Show the way, and we'll do it," declared Chester.
As the friends discussed possible plans, a visitor was ushered in.
This proved to be Herr Block, the man who had assisted them to get into
Germany and who only a few moments before had learned of their arrest.
"It's too bad," he said. "So near and yet so far, as you Americans
say, eh? Tell me, is there anything I can do for you.
"You might get us out of here," said Hal.
Herr Block smiled.
"Easily said, but not so easily done," he made answer. "However, I
have no doubt it can be arranged."
"You do?" exclaimed the others. "How?"
"Well," said Herr Block, "you would be surprised if you realized the
extent to which Holland's sympathies are with the Allies. Of course,
it must not appear on the surface for it would mean war with Germany --
and we are not ready for war now. However, I shall see that the door
to your cell is left open tonight. When your jailer comes with your
meal he will drop his keys. You will rap him over the head with
something, that it may not look as though he were implicated. Then
walk out of the jail and come to my quarters. No one will molest you."
"By Jove," said Hal. "That's simple enough."
"Your meal will be brought in half an hour," he said. "I shall be
waiting for you at eight. You know the way to my quarters?"
"You'd better give me the necessary directions," said Hal.
Herr Block did so and took his departure.
"It all sounds simple enough," said Stubbs, "but it doesn't sound good
"Don't croak, Stubbs," said Chester; "you ought to be glad to get out
"Oh, I'll be glad enough to get out, but it doesn't sound plausible."
"Truth is stranger than fiction, Stubbs," said Hal.
"It'll have to be this time to convince me," declared the war
The four became silent, awaiting the arrival of the jailer.
It was half-past seven when the jailer entered the cell in which the
four friends were imprisoned. He carried a large tray, on which was
loaded food. As he entered the cell, he dropped his heavy key ring.
Hal pounced upon it.
The man's back was toward him. The lad raised the heavy ring, but he
did not strike.
"Here, jailer," he said; "you've dropped your keys."
The jailer looked around. Hal hoped he would spring forward, that he
might have an excuse for striking, but the man only said simply:
"You know what to do with them."
He turned his back again. For a moment Hal hesitated.
"Well," he said finally, "if it has to be done, the sooner the better."
He raised the heavy bunch of keys aloft again, and brought it down on
the jailer's head. The man dropped to the floor and lay still. Hal
threw the keys down beside him.
"Hope I didn't hurt him too much," he muttered. He turned to the
others. "Now," he said, "shall we eat of this food or shall we leave
"Let's get out of here," said Stubbs. "We can eat any time. Something
may turn up to defeat our plan."
But nothing did.
Hal led the way from the cell and along a long corridor. At the end
were steps, which the friends mounted quietly. At the top they found
it necessary to pass through what appeared to be the office of the
superintendent, or whoever was in charge. Inside a man sat at a desk.
Hal hesitated a moment. He knew there was little prospect of all
passing through without attracting the man's attention, and he had no
means of knowing whether this man was a party to the plot or not.
However, the lad moved forward again, and the others followed without
The man at the desk shifted his position, and Hal stepped quickly
toward him, his fist ready to strike. He caught low words:
"Hurry up and get out of here."
The lad's hand dropped to his side, and he made haste toward the door
on the far side of the room. Through this all passed safely, and Hal
stood before a door he felt sure led to the street. The door opened
easily, and Hal, Chester, McKenzie and Stubbs passed out into the
Stubbs heaved a sigh of pure relief.
"Well, we did do it," he muttered. "I didn't believe it possible.
Wish I had some of that grub now."
"Wouldn't be surprised if Herr Block could rustle us up something to
eat," said McKenzie. "He seems to be a right resourceful sort of a
Hal found Herr Block's quarters without difficulty. It appeared that
Herr Block had anticipated that they would be hungry, for he had a
tempting repast already spread when they arrived. To this the four
friends did full justice, for they were, indeed, hungry.
"Now," said Herr Block when they had finished, "if you will tell me
what success you had on your mission and how you managed I will
appreciate it. After that, I will see you safely into your own lines.
I have a large automobile waiting, and you may depart at any time; but
I am greatly interested in your adventures."
Hal was nothing loath, and recounted the manner in which he and
McKenzie had secured the list of coveted names.
"Now, Chester," he said when he had concluded, "it's your turn. You
haven't told us yet how you left the house and how you chanced to be
"My adventures don't amount to much," replied Chester. "I left the
ball with Mrs. Schweiring. We were somewhat alarmed at Gladys'
disappearance, but there was nothing we could do but wait.
When Gladys came rushing into the room, she thrust the list into my
hand, and told me what had happened, and that I must fly. I
commandeered the Schweiring automobile, and took to the road. I don't
know how the Germans got wind of my departure, but soon after I left
the city I knew I was being followed.
"There was nothing I could do but try and outrun my pursuers, whoever
they were. It soon became apparent, however, that this was impossible,
because the pursuing machine was too high-powered. Nevertheless, I
determined to go as far as possible and leave something to chance.
"My pursuers fired at me several times, but they didn't hit anything so
far as I could discover. All of a sudden, however, my engine went
dead. I yanked out my automatic, determined to give battle. I fired at
a man who alighted from the pursuing car when it stopped, but I must
have missed him. Before I could fire again a bullet hit me, and that's
all I remember until I woke and learned that Hal, McKenzie and Stubbs
had saved me."
"Well, you have all had an exciting time," declared Herr Block. "I
wish that I could have been with you. However, this war is not over
yet, and, personally, I do not believe that Holland will maintain her
neutrality to the end. In that case, I still may have opportunity of
lending a hand."
"You have already lent a hand," declared Hal, "and you must know that
when you lend a hand to the Allies you are also helping your own
country, and, ultimately, the cause of the whole world."
"I believe that to be true," replied Herr Block quietly; "otherwise, I
would not have raised a hand to help you. Germany must be crushed.
There is no room for doubt on that score. If Germany wins, what nation
in the whole world is safe?"
"True," said McKenzie. "It's too bad the world could not have realized
that a long time ago. The war might have been over by this time."
"As it is," Herr Block agreed, "the war will not be over for years.
But come, I am keeping you here idle when I know you are all anxious to
be about your work."
He led the way to the street, where a large touring car awaited them.
"I'll drive you as far as the border myself," said the Dutchman.
The four friends climbed in, and the car dashed away in the darkness.
For perhaps four or five hours they rode along at a fair speed and
soon, Hal knew, they would once more be within their own lines.
It was half-past four o'clock in the morning when Herr Block stopped
the car and said:
"I'll leave you here. You must make the rest of the trip alone."
"Great Scott! You can't get out here in the middle of the wilderness,"
"Don't worry," laughed Herr Block. "I haven't far to go. If you'll
look to the right there you will see the lights of a little town. I
shall be able to get a conveyance there for my homeward journey. I
brought you this way because it will save time and trouble."
He stepped from the car, then reached back and extended a hand to Hal,
who had taken his place at the wheel.
"I'm awfully glad to have met you," he said quietly, "and I am glad to
have been of assistance to you. I trust that we shall see more of each
other at some future time."
"Thanks," said Hal, gripping the other's hands. "If it hadn't been for
you our mission would have failed. We shall never forget it."
Herr Block shook hands with the others, and then disappeared in the
"A fine fellow," said Hal, as he sent the car forward.
"You bet," Chester agreed. "I hope we shall see him again."
Stubbs and McKenzie also had words of praise for the assistance given
them by Herr Block.
Dawn had streaked the eastern sky when the four friends made out the
distant British lines. Chester gave a cheer, which was echoed by the
"At the journey's end," said Hal quietly.
As the automobile approached the British line, an officer, with several
men, advanced with a command "Halt." Hal obeyed, and leaped lightly
from the car.
He identified himself to the satisfaction of the British officer, and
Hal swung the car sharply south, heading for the distant American
sector of the battle front.
They were forced to go more slowly now, as the ground came to life with
soldiers, so it was almost noon when they came in sight of that section
of the field where the American troops were quartered.
Leaving McKenzie and Stubbs in the car, Hal and Chester made their way
to the headquarters of General Pershing. They were admitted
"Back so soon?" exclaimed General Pershing, getting to his feet. "I
was afraid --"
From his pocket Hal produced the list of German spies in America.
"Here, sir," he said quietly, "is the list."
General Pershing snatched it away from him and scanned it hastily.
Then, turning to the lads, he said very quietly:
"You have done well, sirs. Your work shall be remembered. You will
both kindly make me written reports of your mission."
He signified that the interview was at an end. Hal and Chester
saluted, and left their commander's quarters.
A GLANCE AT THE WAR SITUATION
The apparent deadlock on the western front from the North Sea, through
that narrow strip that remained of Belgium, Flanders and France almost
to the borders of Alsace-Lorraine, had been maintained for so long now
that the world was momentarily expecting word that would indicate the
opening of what, it was expected, would be the greatest battle of the
war since Verdun.
It was known that Germany, confident because of the disruption of the
Russian armies, had drawn heavily upon her forces on the eastern
front. The world waited for some announcement of where the Kaiser
would strike next.
The blow was delivered in Italy. Field Marshal von Hindenburg, the
greatest military genius the war had yet produced, left his command on
the west front and hurried into Italy, succeeding General von
Mackensen, who had been in command originally.
The Italian troops fought hard to maintain the ground they had won from
the Austrians the spring and summer before; but in two days the
Austrians, reinforced by German troops, and commanded by, German
officers, had won back all they lost in two years of war and penetrated
to the heart of Italy itself.
The world stood aghast at the mighty Teutonic offensive, before which
the Italian troops, seasoned veterans that they were, were like chaff
before the wind.
The Allies became alarmed.
Von Hindenburg's blow in Italy, if successful threatened to dispose of
one country entirely, and would endanger the French and British troops
from the rear. It was decided to reinforce the Italians with French
and British troops.
At the same time, it became a part of the plan of the general staff to
strike hard in Flanders and in the Cambrai sector, while the Germans
were busily engaged elsewhere. It would, indeed, be an auspicious
moment to strike.
Since the days when the Germans had been beaten back by the French at
Verdun, Teuton offensives had been few and far between. It had been
the Allies who had advanced after that, with the one exception of the
Austro-German offensive being made in Italy. The ground that the
British and French had won, now they held. From time to time they
pushed their lines farther to the east, consolidated their positions
and made ready to move forward again.
It was plainly apparent that success was crowning the efforts of the
British and French on the western front. The Germans now and then
launched heavy local attacks, but these apparently were more for the
purpose of feeling out the strength of their opponents than with any
idea of concerted advance.
British troops in Egypt were pushing on toward Jerusalem and it seemed
that it was only the question of time until the Holy City would fall.
Once Turkish rule there had been broken, it was a foregone conclusion
that the Ottomans would never regain a foothold.
The thing of chief concern to the Allies was the internal conditions in
Russia. Revolt had succeeded revolt in the land of the Muscovite, and,
as rulers replaced rulers, it was hard to tell what the next day would
Conditions had not reached such a pass, however, that the German
general staff felt safe in releasing the bulk of its great army on the
eastern front. Therefore, although it appeared that Russia was about
to give up the fight, a million and a half of the Kaiser's best troops
were held on the Russian front.
It was known to the Allied governments that German efforts were at the
bottom of the Russian troubles, and the diplomatic corps had been hard
at work trying to offset this. As time passed, however, it was
realized that Russia's aid could no, longer be counted upon.
With the entrance of the United States into the war, with the American
nation's unlimited resources in men and money, the cause of the Allies
took on a more roseate hue. True, it would require time to put the
American fighting machine into shape to take the field, but once its
energies had been turned to making war, even Germany knew that America
would put her best foot foremost.
The latest British successes had been in the vicinity of Vimy Ridge,
which position, believed by the Germans to be impregnable, had been
carried by Canadian troops in a single attack. German counter-assaults
in this sector had failed to dislodge them, and there they remained
The Canadians had launched this attack in April soon after the United
States had declared war on Germany. Now, in November, their lines
still held despite the pounding of big German guns and infantry and
As the Germans continued to push forward in Italy, threatening the city
of Venice -- called the most beautiful in the world -- General Sir
Douglas Haig, the British commander-in-chief, prepared himself for a
blow in Flanders, and also for a drive at Cambrai, one of the most
important German military centers.
Preparations for this attack were made quietly, and without knowledge
of the enemy; so, when the attack came, the Germans were taken
absolutely by surprise, and only escaped annihilation by the masterful
direction of Field Marshal von Hindenburg, who hurried from the Italian
front in time to stem the tide.
American troops in France at this time numbered not more than 125,000
men -- these in addition to several detachments of engineers who had
been sent in advance to take over French railroad operations in order
to release the French for service on the fighting line. Many of the
Americans who had fought with the Allies in the early days of the
struggle, before Uncle Sam cast in his lot with them had returned to
America and joined their own countrymen in the expectation that they
would soon return to the front.
The American Army was being put in readiness as fast as possible, but
it was known that months of intensive training would be necessary to
fit it for its share of fighting at the front. Preparations were being
rushed, however, to send the national guard units across. These would
form the second contingent of Americans to reach France -- the first
having been composed only of regulars.
American troops in France so far had seen little actual fighting.
Their activities had been confined mostly to beating off trench raids
and launching an occasional bomb attack on the German dugouts so close
to them. Several Americans had been killed in one of these attacks --
forming the first United States casualty list. Others had been
wounded, and some were missing, believed to be prisoners in the German
Hal and Chester had been in the midst of the Canadian advance and
capture of Vimy Ridge. Immediately after the battle they had left the
fighting front and returned to America, where they spent several months
training reserve officers at Fort Niagara. Because of excellent
service there, they had been honored by being numbered among officers
who went with the first expeditionary force under General Pershing.
Both lads had been among the American troops who beat off the German
trench raid which accounted for the first United States casualties, and
they had performed other services for General Pershing, as have already
Americans though they were, each felt that he would rather be where
action were swifter than lying idle in the trenches with their
countrymen. It was hard telling how long it would be before the
British and French general staffs would consider the American troops
sufficiently seasoned to take over a complete sector of the battle
line, and for that reason, the "Sammies," as they were affectionately
called at home, were unlikely to see any real fighting for some time.
In fact, it developed that when General Haig finally launched his
drive, only British, Irish, Welsh and Scots were used. The Americans
had no hand in the fighting.
Hal and Chester, after reporting to General Pershing following their
return from the German lines, returned to the automobile where they had
left McKenzie and Stubbs.
"There are no orders for us," said Hal, "so we may as well hunt our
quarters and get a little rest."
Upon inquiry they learned that their own company, in the trenches when
they left, had been moved back to make place for another contingent.
This was in line with the policy of seasoning the American troops.
Their own company, therefore, they found somewhat removed from the
"Of course, it's better to be in the trenches, where there is a chance
of action," Chester said, "but when a fellow needs sleep, as I do, I
guess it's just as well that we're back here."
"Right you are, Chester," said Stubbs, "and if you have no objections
I'll bunk along with you boys."
"Help yourself, Stubbs," laughed Chester. "Guess we can make room for
"It's daylight yet," said Stubbs, "but I'm going to bed just the same.
Lead the way, Chester.
Chester needed no urging, for he could scarcely keep his eyes open.
McKenzie hunted his own quarters, and soon was fast asleep.
Hal and Chester also soon were in slumberland, and Stubbs' loud snoring
proclaimed that the little man's troubles were over for the moment at
THE EVE OF BATTLE
"Good news, Chester."
"That so? What is it?"
Hal glanced about him. There was no one near. "Little work for us to
do," he said quietly.
"What kind of work?"
Hal did not reply directly to this question.
"How's your side?" he demanded.
"All right. Why?"
"Wound hurt you much?"
"No. Hardly know it's there. But what's all this about, anyhow?"
"Well," said Hal, "there is about to be a battle."
"That so? Good. How do you know?"
"General Pershing just told me. That's why I want to know how your
side is. We've orders to report to General Haig in person."
"Oh," said Chester, somewhat disappointed, "I thought you meant the
American troops were going to get into action."
"Well, they may get into action, too. I don't know. But this, to my
mind, is the biggest undertaking since the Somme."
"Sounds good," said Chester, greatly interested. "Let's hear more
"I don't know much more about it. I was summoned to General Pershing's
tent, and he gave me a message to carry to General Haig. Told me to
have you report to General Haig also if your wound had healed
"It's healed sufficiently for that," Chester interrupted.
"That's what I thought you'd say, no matter how badly it might pain
you. Anyhow, General Pershing said we might be in time to see some
"Did he indicate the nature of it?"
"No, but I drew my own conclusions. I'll tell you why. Remember those
tanks we had here experimenting with?"
"You mean the armored tractors -- those things that climb fences,
trenches, and things like that?"
"Sure I remember them. Why?"
"Well, they're all gone -- been ordered back to the British lines.
Therefore, something is going on."
"Oh, pshaw!" said Chester. "That may mean only a local attack some
place. I thought you knew something."
"Wait a minute now. I know more than you think."
"Well, let's hear it then."
"Infantry and cavalry are being massed in the sector that would lead to
Cambrai, if a drive were successful."
"You're sure of that?"
"Perfectly. I have it from Captain O'Neill, who knows what he's
"That may mean something," Chester agreed, nodding his head.
"May mean something? Of course it means something. Besides, our
aeroplanes are more active than usual, probably to keep the enemy back
so they can't anticipate the attack."
"The Germans will suspect something then," declared Chester.
"Maybe. But there is something in the air. You can bank on that."
"Well, I hope so," declared Chester. "We haven't had any real fighting
for a long while now."
"Don't forget you've a bullet hole in you still," smiled Hal. "You're
not as good as new, you know."
"I can still answer for a couple of Germans," replied Chester with a
"I guess you're right. But come, we must be moving."
The two lads left their quarters and sought their horses. As they
mounted Stubbs approached.
"Where to?" he demanded.
"We've a mission to General Haig," said Hal. "Why?"
"Wait till I get a horse and I'll go along," said Stubbs.
He hurried away.
"I don't know whether he should go with us or not," muttered Hal.
"If you think that, let's don't wait for him," returned Chester.
"Good idea," Hal agreed, and put spurs to his horse.
Chester followed suit.
For ten minutes they rode rapidly, and then Hal slowed down.
"Guess we've lost him, all right," he said.
But they hadn't. A short time later Hal, glancing over his shoulder,
made out the form of a solitary horseman hurrying after them. The
rider made gestures as Hal looked, and the lad perceived that the man,
whoever he might be, desired them to wait. Therefore, having forgotten
all about Stubbs, the lad reined in. Chester did likewise.
"Hello," said Chester, as the rider drew closer. "It's Stubbs."
"Tough," Hal commented. "I had forgotten about him. However, we don't
want to hurt his feelings. He's seen us now, so there is no use
They sat quietly until Stubbs drew up alongside.
"What's the idea of running away from me?" the little man wanted to
"Running away, Mr. Stubbs?" questioned Chester. "Surely you must be
mistaken. Why should we run away from you?"
"That's what I would like to know," declared Stubbs. "Didn't I tell
you to wait for me?"
"Did you, Stubbs?" This from Hal.
"Did I? You know deuced well I did. You're not deaf, are you?"
"Well, no," said Hal, "but your memory, Mr. Stubbs, how is that?"
Stubbs glared at the lad angrily.
"There is nothing the matter with my memory," he said, "as you'll find,
if you ever have occasion to need me."
"Come now, Stubbs," said Chester. "You do us both an injustice. You
must explain yourself."
"Great Scott!" Stubbs burst out. "Explain, must I? What do you mean,
I must explain?"
"Hold up a minute, now, Stubbs," said Hal. "You're all tangled up
here. You've forgotten what you are talking about."
"Tangled? Forgot?" sputtered Stubbs. "What do you think I am, a
"Well, I didn't say so, did I Mr. Stubbs?" Hal wanted to know.
"That means you do, eh?" grumbled Stubbs.
"Well, all right, think what you please. What I asked you was this:
Why did you run away from me?"
"What makes you think we ran away, Stubbs?" asked Chester.
"What makes me think it? Why shouldn't I think it, I ask you? Why
shouldn't I think it? I ask you to wait till I get a horse, and when I
come back, you're gone."
"Maybe we didn't hear you, Mr. Stubbs," put in Hal.
"And maybe you did," exploded Stubbs. "Now, if you don't want my
company, all you've got to do is to say so."
"Stubbs," said Chester, "you know we'd rather have your company than
that of - of -- of, well, say three wildcats."
"Ha! Ha! Ha!" laughed Hal.
"Think you're funny, don't you?" said Stubbs, gazing at Chester with a
"Not so funny as you and the wildcats, Stubbs." laughed Chester.
Stubbs wheeled his horse about.
"I can see I'm not wanted here," he said with dignity. "Therefore, I
shall not bother you."
He rode back the way he had come.
"It's too bad," said Hal. "We've offended him and he's awfully angry.
He raised his voice and shouted: "Hey, Stubbs! Come back here."
Stubbs did not deign to turn his head.
"He's mad all right," Chester agreed. "But hell get over it. Besides,
it's just as well. We should not take him with us."
"You're right, Chester. Come, we have no time to waste."
The lads again put spurs to their horses and galloped rapidly along.
It was late afternoon when they rode up to General Haig's tent, and
announced their errand. They were admitted to the general's quarters
immediately, and Hal presented his message.
"General Pershing informs me," said General Haig at length, "that if I
have need of you, I may use you."
The lads bowed.
"As it happens," said General Haig, "I do have need of you at this
moment. You have, perhaps, surmised that we are about to strike?"
Again the lads bowed.
"Good. This attack will be made with the third army, under command of
Sir Julian Byng. I have dispatches for you to carry to him. Also, you
will attach yourselves to his staff during the engagement. I will
write him to that effect."
General Haig scribbled hastily, and then passed several documents to
"Deliver these immediately," said the British commander.
Hal and Chester saluted, left the tent, mounted their horses, and
dashed rapidly away.
They reported to General Sir Julian Byng at 6 o'clock.
The advance of the British troops under Sir Julian Byng, who was to win
in this engagement the sobriquet of "Bingo" Byng, marked a departure
from rules of warfare as it had been conducted up to date in the
greatest of all conflicts. Heretofore, heavy cannonading had always
preceded an advance in force. Heavy curtains of smoke from the great
guns had been flung over the enemy's lines to mask the movements of the
While this smoke curtain had protected, to some extent, the movements
of the assaulting party, it also had the effect of "tipping off" the
foe that an attack was about to be launched. Now the British were
about to advance without the protection of the smoke screens.
But General Byng's army moved forward in the wake of even a more
formidable protection than smoke.
British "tanks," armored tractors, showed the way.
General Byng's attack covered the whole length of what had become known
as the redoubtable and supposedly impregnable "Hindenburg line," so
called because it had been established by that greatest of all German
military geniuses, Field Marshal von Hindenburg. From Drocourt, just
to the northwest of Douai, the line stretched for forty miles in a
fairly straight line down through Vitryen-Artois, Villiers, Cagnocourt
to Queant and Pronville, thence on to Boursies, Havrincourt, Gour
Zeacourt, Epehy and St. Quentin.
The first, or upper section of this line -- from Drocourt to Queant --
was called the Wotan line. The lower section had become known as the
Siegfried line. Both together formed the general scheme of the
It was along this line, then, that the British struck on the morning of
Nov. 20, 1917. The drive had for its chief objective the capture, or
possible isolation, of Cambrai, one of the most important positions in
this sector in German hands. Cambrai was a railroad center in those
days, a terminus from which the German general staff supplied various
points of the long line with munitions, food and men, the latter when
The capture of Cambrai, it was apparent, would mean the ultimate fall
of St, Quentin and Lille, both points of strategic advantage.
General Byng ordered his third army forward shortly before daylight so
that when the moment came for the first blow his men would have
daylight with which to go about their work.
As has been said, there was no preliminary bombardment of the enemy's
positions sufficiently in advance to give the enemy time to prepare his
resisting measures. Instead of the uprooting barrage, British tanks
cleared the path for the infantry, and what few cavalry was used in the
attack. Thus the enemy was given no warning.
The attack was a complete surprise -- and a surprise attack in this
great war had been called well nigh impossible. Even the German air
service was fooled. As a result of its inability to anticipate General
Byng's movements, the German fighting machine naturally lost some of
As dawn broke, the British tanks bore down on the foe steadily and
without the appearance of undue haste; in fact, the tanks could not
have made haste had such been General Byng's plan. Formidable
instruments of warfare that they are, they do not number speed among
their many accomplishments.
Hundreds of these tanks, bearing every resemblance to mythical monsters
of a prehistoric day, crawled across the ground that separated the
opposing armies. What must have been the surprise of the German
general staff when the break of day showed these monsters so near?
Having had no warning of the impending attack, the enemy naturally was
taken at a disadvantage. The warning of the advance was flashed along
the German first- line defenses the moment daylight disclosed the
hundreds of tanks advancing to the fray. The second-line defenses were
made ready to withstand an attack should the first line be beaten back,
and, although it was not within the comprehension of German leaders
that it could be possible, the third-line defenses also were made ready
to repel the invaders.
Between the German first-line trenches and the British front at this
point the distance was something under half a mile. Between the
various German lines of defense, the distance was almost an even mile.
As the British tanks advanced across the open ground, smashing down
barbed-wire entanglement and crawling in and out of shell craters as
though they did not exist, defenders sprang to their positions.
Rapid-firers opened upon the British from every conceivable angle; but
the shells dropped harmlessly from the sides of the armored tanks. The
tanks just seemed to shake their heads and passed on.
Behind the tanks the infantry advanced slowly, flanked here and there
by squadrons of cavalry, the horses of which could hardly be held back,
so anxious did they seem to get at the foe.
The British tanks spat fire from the rapid-fire guns that formed their
armament. Streams of bullets flew into the German lines, dealing death
From the rear the great British guns dropped high explosive shells in
the German trenches.
The German first-line defenses, prepared with days of hard labor, and
formed of deep ditches, of concrete and pure earth, offered no
difficulties to the British tanks. Straight up to these emplacements
they crawled, shoved their noses into the walls, and uprooted them;
then crawled calmly over the debris.
Into the gaps thus opened, the British infantry poured, while
cavalrymen jumped their horses across the gaps and fell upon the foe
with sword and lance.
The Germans fought bravely, but they were so bewildered by this
innovation in the art of warfare that their lines had lost their
cohesion long before the tanks plowed into them, and they scattered as
the British "Tommies" dashed forward, after one withering volley, with
the cold steel of the bayonet.
Here and there small groups collected and offered desperate resistance,
but their efforts to stem the tide of advancing British were in vain.
An hour after daylight first-line defenses of the entire Hindenburg
line were in the hands of the British.
But General "Bingo" Byng was not content to rest on these laurels. He
ordered his left wing -- those of his troops who had advanced against
the Wotan line -- to advance farther, and also threw his center into
the conflict again. Troops opposed to the Siegfried line he held in
reserve, that he might strike a blow in that sector of the field should
his main attack fail.
Again the British on left and center dashed to the attack. Again the
tanks plowed over the uneven ground, and advanced against a second
apparently impregnable barrier. Flushed with victory, the British
"Tommies" cheered to the echo, as they moved forward gaily.
Many a man fell with a song on his lips, as he stumbled across the
shell craters that made walking so difficult, for the Germans from
their second-line defenses poured in a terrible fire, but the others
pressed on as though nothing had happened. There was no time to pause
and give succor to a wounded comrade, the command had been to advance.
Besides, the Red Cross nurses and the ambulance drivers would be along
presently to take care of those who could no longer take care of
themselves. It was hard, many a man told himself, but he realized that
the first duty was to drive back the foe.
Shell after shell struck the British tanks as they waddled across the
rough ground. One, suddenly, blew into a million pieces. An explosive
had struck a vital spot. For the most part, however, the shells fell
from the armored sides like drops of water from a roof.
German troops lined the second-line defenses and poured a hail of
bullets into the advancing British. It was no use. The British
refused to be stopped.
Straight to the trenches the tanks led the way, and nosed into them.
Down went emplacements that the Germans had spent days in making
secure. The tanks rooted them up like a steam shovel. Men fled to
right and left, and there, at command from their officers, paused long
enough to pour volleys of rifle fire into the Britons, as they swarmed
into the trenches in the wake of the tanks.
From the second-line defenses the tanks led the way to the third line,
where they met with the same success. This, however, took longer, and
when the British found themselves in possession of these, with Cambrai,
the immediate objective, less than four miles away. General Byng
called a halt. He felt that his men had done enough for one day.
There would be a renewed attack on the morrow, but now he realized that
the most important thing was to straighten out his lines, consolidate
them against a possible counter-assault, and work out his plan of
attack for the following day.
Therefore, the "Tommies" made themselves as comfortable as possible in
their newly won positions. Prisoners were hurried to the rear, and
captured guns were swiftly swung into position to be used against their
erstwhile owners should they return to the fight.
In these positions the British third army spent the night.
THE ADVANCE CONTINUES
The British losses had been heavy, as was only natural in view of the
nature of the work they had accomplished. But the German casualties
had been tremendously greater. This, no doubt, was because of the fact
that the German general staff had been taken by surprise and had had no
time to prepare against the attack.
The British, according to the report of General Byng, on the first
day's offensive, had captured in the neighborhood of 5,ooo prisoners.
Of artillery and munitions, great stores had fallen into the hands of
It was a great day for Old England and all her Allies. The victory was
the greatest achieved by the Allies since the Battle of the Marne.
Cambrai was almost in the hands of the British. The importance of the
victory could not be estimated at that time, but every soldier knew
that if the enemy could be driven from Cambrai it would necessitate a
realignment of the whole German defensive system in Flanders and along
the entire battle front. With the victory the British menaced the main
German line of communications -- Douai, Cambrai and St. Quentin.
Around Lavasquere, formidable defenses, known as Welsh Ridge and
Coutilet Wood, had been, captured. Flesquires had been invested and
the Grand Ravine crossed. Havrincourt was in British hands.
Trench systems north of Havrincourt and north of the west bank of the
Canal du Nord also had been captured. The Masnieres Canal was crossed,
and the British had stormed and captured Marcoing Neufwood. East of
the Canal du Nord, the villages of Graincourt and Anneux were now in
possession of General Byng's men; while west of the canal the whole
line north to the Bapaume-Cambrai road was stormed. Bonaires hamlet
and Lateau Wood had been captured after stiff fighting.
East of Epehy, between Bullecourt and Fontaine les Croisilles,
important positions also had been captured by the gallant "Tommies."
"The enemy was completely surprised."
This was the laconic message sent to Field Marshal Haig by the man who
had led the British to victory, as he rested until the morrow. Along
the entire forty- mile line the attack had been successful.
There were no American troops in General Byng's drive. The forces were
composed solely of English, Scots, Irish and Welsh -- a combination
that more than once before in this war had proved too much for the
Germans to combat successfully.
It was a happy army that slept on reconquered territory on the night of
November 20,1917. Men talked of nothing but the most glorious victory
since the Marne. They knew that the offensive in all likelihood would
be resumed the following morning, and most of the troops turned in
early that they might be fit on the morrow to make the foe hunt a new
"hole." There was no doubt in the breasts of the "Tommies" that the
following day would take them nearer to Cambrai and, consequently,
Hal and Chester had had no active part in the first day's fighting.
They had stuck close to headquarters of General Byng, and several
times, while the fighting was at its height and the general was short
of aides, each of the lads had carried messages for him. Both chaffed
somewhat because of the fact that they were not in the midst of the
fighting, but they bided their time, confident that they; at length,
would get a chance for action.
They had followed the advance of the British troops with admiring
eyes. It was, indeed, an imposing spectacle.
"Wonder if our Canadian friends are in this attack?" asked Chester.
"I don't believe so," declared Hal. "I suppose they are still at Vimy
Ridge. They're still needed there, you know."
"That's so, but they would be good men to have around at a time like
"These fellows seem to be doing fairly well, if you ask me," said Hal
Then the conversation languished, as the lads looked toward the
As it developed, Hal and Chester soon were to see their Canadian
friends again. During the night several divisions of Canadians were
hurried to General Byng's support that he might have fresh blood in his
ranks when he renewed his attack against the Hindenburg defenses. And,
as it chanced, the commander of one of these divisions was the lad's
old friend, Colonel Adamson-general now, however.
Hal and Chester were standing close to General Byng when announcement
of the arrival of the Canadians was brought to him. All of the
general's aides were busy. He espied Hal and called to him.
"You will carry my compliments to General Adamson," he said, "and tell
him to go into camp for the night. Instructions will be sent him
Hal saluted, mounted his horse, and dashed away.
General Byng summoned Chester to his side.
"Come with me," he said.
He led the way into a tent that had been erected hastily, and which
served him as field headquarters. There the general scribbled hastily
for some minutes, then passed a piece of paper to Chester.
"You will ride after your friend," he said, "and present this to
General Adamson. Then you had better turn, in for the night. You may
stay with General Adamson's command and lend what assistance there you
Chester was soon speeding after Hal.
General Adamson recognized Hal instantly when the lad reported to him,
and professed pleasure at seeing him again. He also saluted Chester,
when the latter arrived a short time later.
"And so you are going to stay with me, eh?" he said. "Well, I have no
doubt I shall be able to make use of you. However, you'd better turn
in now. I suppose we'll be at it bright and early in the morning."
General Adamson proved a good prophet.
Hal and Chester met several men whom they had known when they were with
the Canadian troops at the capture of Vimy Ridge, and these expressed
delight at seeing the lads again. A young officer invited the lads to
spend the night in his quarters, and they accepted gratefully.
They followed General Adamson's injunction and turned in early. They
were very tired, and they were asleep the moment they hit their cots.
It seemed to Hal that he had just closed his eyes when he was aroused
by the sound of a bugle. It was the call to arms, and the lad sprang
to his feet and threw on his clothes. Chester also was on his feet,
and the two lads dashed from the tent together.
They made their way to General Adamson's quarters, where they stood and
awaited whatever commands, he might give them.
The Canadian troops were all under arms. Each and every man was eager
for the fray. They had not been in the battle the previous day, but
they had heard full accounts of British success and they were
determined to give a good account of themselves when the time came.
And the time came soon.
It was just growing light when the British army launched the second
Along the whole forty-mile line the troops under General Byng advanced
simultaneously. This time, however, the Germans were not caught
napping. They anticipated the second attack by the British, and a
terrific hail of shells and bullets greeted the Allied troops, as they
moved across the open ground.
But these men were not raw troops. Hardly a man who could not be
called a veteran. They advanced as calmly under fire as though on
parade. Men went down swiftly in some parts of the field, but as fast
as one dropped, his place was instantly filled. The lines were not
allowed to break or be thrown into confusion.
The Canadian troops advanced calmly and with a sprightliness that
seemed strange for men used to the grim work of war. There was
something in their carriage that told their officers that they would
give a good account of themselves this day.
General Adamson eyed his men with pride, as they moved off in the
semi-light. He dispatched Hal with a command to Colonel Brown,
commander of one regiment, and Chester to Colonel Loving, commander of
another. As it chanced, these two regiments were marching together, so
the two lads once more found themselves together in the midst of an
Their messages delivered, they did not return to General Adamson, and
without even asking permission of their superiors, ranged themselves
behind. Colonel Loving, and pressed forward with the troops.
Colonel Loving and Colonel Brown, besides Hal and Chester, were the
only mounted men with the Canadian advance. Ten minutes after the lads
had gone forward, Colonel Loving dismounted and turned his horse over
to one of his men, who led it toward the rear. Colonel Brown followed
suit. Hal and Chester did likewise.
"Good idea," commented Chester. "We make too good targets there."
Hal nodded, and looked toward the front.
The British tanks again led the way. Bullets whistled over the heads
of the Canadians. Hal saw that the first-line German defenses were
less than 200 yards away.
"Good." he told himself. "Now for the battle."
The first British tank nosed into the German trench.
The early stages of the morning fighting were repetitions of the first
day's advance. Success perched upon British standards from the first.
Try as they would, the Germans were unable to hurl back the British
infantry, which advanced steadily under the protecting wings of
countless armored tanks.
Every now and then one of these terrible instruments of warfare burst
to pieces, killing its crew, as a German shell struck in a vital spot,
but, for the most part, they advanced unharmed.
Over the German trenches they plowed their path, as though there was
nothing in the way to bar their progress. Walls, earth, and human
bodies were crushed beneath them, and they passed on as though nothing
had happened. In vain the Germans charged straight up to their sides.
There was nothing they could do when they reached the monsters, except
to fire ineffectual rifle shots in an effort to penetrate the apertures
and reach the gunners, or to hurl hand grenades, which had no effect.
Each time the enemy charged it was never to return. While they wasted
their energies attempting to put the tanks out of commission, British
infantry mowed them down with, rifle fire. At length these attempts
were given up.
The Germans, after an hour's desperate fighting, deserted their
first-line trenches, and sought the shelter of the second; from these
they were driven to the third.
Hal and Chester found themselves in the midst of the fighting,
alongside the heroic Canadians of Vimy Ridge fame. The part of the
field in which they found themselves was to the extreme north of the
Hindenburg line, almost opposite Douai.
Time after time the Canadians drove the foe back at the point of the
bayonet. The Canadians, it appeared soon after noon, had been the most
successful of the entire British army. They had pushed their lines
almost to Douai. To the south, General Byng's forces had not advanced
quite so far.
Suddenly there was an explosion inside a tank scarcely a hundred feet
from Hal and Chester. Great clouds of earth ascended into the air.
The tank stopped stock still. Apparently it was undamaged, but it
proceeded no further. A moment later, the armored door swung open, and
the half-dozen men who composed its crew got out.
"Something the matter with the engine," one said in reply to a question
by a Canadian officer.
Members of the tank's crew secured rifles and joined the advancing
infantry. Hal pressed close to Chester.
"I've a hunch I can fix that thing so it will run," he shouted to make
himself heard above the din of battle.
"Lets have a try," Chester shouted back.
The boys left their places in the line, and approached the tank. Hal
climbed inside first. Chester followed him.
He bent down and tinkered with the engine. It was not the first time
the lads had been inside a tank, so they were fairly familiar with the
After some tinkering, Hal gave an exclamation of satisfaction.
"She'll go now," he cried.
He opened the throttle, and the machine moved forward. Hal brought it
to a stop almost immediately.
"We can't man all these guns," he cried. "We must have a crew."
Chester alighted and approached a captain of infantry who was passing
at that moment.
"We want a crew for this tank!" he exclaimed. "Can you give me four
"Take your pick," the captain called back.
Chester motioned four stalwart Canadians to follow him. They entered
the tank not without some foreboding, for it developed that none had
been mixed up in such warfare before. But they were not afraid and
took the places Hal assigned them.
"You can handle these guns, can you?" Hal shouted.
The men nodded affirmatively.
"All right. Take your places. Looks like there is ammunition enough
there for a week. Ready?"
"Ready, sir," one of the men answered.
Chester made the door secure, and Hal now moved the tank forward.
Straight over the German trench plunged the car tilting first to the
right and then to the left, as one side or the other sunk into a deep
hole. But, although it jostled the crew considerably, it did not roll
over, as it seemed in imminent danger of doing.
The other tanks had gone forward some time before; so had the mass of
the infantry. Hal's tank now lumbered forward in an effort to overtake
the others. It moved swiftly enough to push ahead of the soldiers
afoot, and gradually it overtook the others, which went more slowly in
order that the infantry might keep pace with them. At last the lads
found themselves on even terms with the most advanced tank.
Perhaps a dozen of these monsters, pressing close together, now made a
concerted attack on the second-line German trenches. Down went
barbed-wire entanglements directly in front of the trenches. There was
a loud crash as the tanks pushed their noses into the trench itself,
and threw out rocks, boards, and earth in shattered fragments. The
troops poured into the trenches behind them.
Half an hour's desperate fighting in the trenches and the Germans
fled. As the tanks would have pushed along further, a bugle sounded a
halt. Instantly the infantry gave up pursuit of the enemy, and all the
tanks came to a stop -- all except the one in which Hal was at the
"Whoa, here, Hal!" shouted Chester. "Time to stop. Can't you see the
others have given up the pursuit?"
"I can't stop!" Hal shouted back. "The blamed thing won't work."
Every second they were approaching where the Germans had made a stand.
"Come about in a circle then and head back!" shouted Chester.
Hal swung the head of the tank to the left. It moved perhaps two
degrees in that direction, then went forward again.
"Something the matter with the steering apparatus!" Hal shouted. "I
can't turn it. I can't stop it. I can't shut off the power, and the
brakes won't work."
"Let's jump for it, then!" cried Chester. "We'll be right in the
middle of the enemy in a minute."
The tractor was still spitting fire as it advanced. It was plain that
the Germans took the advance of the single tank as a ruse of some kind,
which they were unable to fathom. They could not know that the
occupants of the tank were making desperate effort to stop its advance
or bring it about and head back toward the British lines.
From the British troops shouts of warning arose. Crews of other tanks
had now dismounted, and these men added their voices to those of the
others calling upon the apparently venturesome tank to return. These
men could understand the advance of the single tractor no more than
could the Germans.
"The fools!" shouted one man. "They'll be killed sure; and what good
can they do single-handed against the whole German army?"
But the tank driven by Hal took no cognizance of the remarks hurled
after it; nor did it swerve from its purpose of waddling straight up to
"Let's jump!" called Chester again.
"We'll be killed sure, or captured if we do," said Hal.
"Well, we'll be killed or captured if we don't," declared Chester.
"Exactly. It doesn't make any difference just what we do, so I'm in
favor of seeing the thing through."
"By Jove!" said Chester after a moment's hesitation, "I'm with you!"
He explained the situation to the man.
"Let's go right at 'em, sir," said one of the Canadians, grinning.
"Maybe they won't hit us with a shell. We'll shoot 'em down as long as
we have ammunition - - and it's about gone now."
"Suits me," said Hal quietly.
The other men nodded their agreement.
So the tank still waddled forward. With but one foe now to contend
with, the Germans braved the fire of the single gun, advanced and
surrounded the tank.
"Surrender!" came a voice in German. "Surrender or we shall blow you
Hal smiled to himself.
"Can't be done, Fritz," he said quietly.
At the same moment one of the crew fired the last of the ammunition.
"Well, we've nothing left but our revolvers," said Chester. "Here
He poked his weapon out one of the portholes, and emptied it into the
"Give me yours, Hal," he said.
Hay obeyed, and the contents of this also was poured at the enemy.
"That settles it," said Chester.
One of the Canadians drew out a cigarette and lighted it.
"Might as well be comfortable," he said.
Outside, the Germans danced wildly around the car, shouting demands for
surrender, all the while bombarding the tank with rifle and revolver
"No use, Fritz," said Hal. "We just can't, whoa!"
The tank had stopped abruptly.
"Now what do you think of that?" Hal muttered to himself. "Must be a
German tank, I guess. Seems to know when it gets home. Well, what
now, Hal?" asked Chester.
"You know as much about it as I do," said Hal grimly. "See all that
merry gang outside dancing around us? Guess we'll have to surrender.
We can't fight with nothing to fight with."
"You're right, Sir," said one of the men. "No use staying here and
being blown up when we can't fight back."
As the occupants of the tank so far had made no signs of complying with
the German demand for surrender, bullets were still being rained upon
the tractor. Hal now took a handkerchief from his pocket, put it on
the end of his empty revolver, and poked it through the porthole.
A cry of triumph went up from the outside, and the firing ceased.
Chester threw open the door of the armored car, and, with Hal and the
four members of the crew, got to the ground. An officer approached
them and saluted.
"You are my prisoners, Sir," he said.
"So it seems, captain," said Hal with a smile. "Well, it can't be
He passed over his empty revolver, the only weapon he possessed.
Chester followed suit. The members of the crew had no arms. They had
discarded their rifles when they entered the tank.
"I shall conduct you to Colonel Hertlitz," said the German captain.
The four followed the German officer far back into the German lines,
where the officer ushered them into a tent where sat a German officer
whose insignia proclaimed him a colonel of infantry.
"These are the men who manned the armored car, sir," said the captain.
"Take the men and lock them up safely," was the reply. "Send my
orderly to attend me while I converse with these officers. See, too,
that the captured car is made safe."
The captain withdrew and the colonel's orderly entered, and stood at
attention. The four Canadian members of the tank's crew were ordered
to the rear, but for the night they would be kept in the lines behind
"You are brave young men," said the colonel to Hal. "I watched you
advance into our army single-handed. At the same time, it was a fool's
trick - or a youngster's."
"We're not so brave as you would think, sir," said Hal with a slight
smile. "Neither are we such fools. We would gladly have turned about,
but the thing wouldn't work; neither could I stop my engine."