Part 1 out of 3
Produced by Juliet Sutherland, Jeni Warnken and PG Distributed
THE KHAKI BOYS
OVER THE TOP
_Doing and Daring for Uncle Sam_
CAPT. GORDON BATES
Author of "The Khaki Boys at Camp Sterling"
"The Khaki Boys on the Way," "The
Khaki Boys at the Front," etc.
THE KHAKI BOYS SERIES
By CAPT. GORDON BATES
THE KHAKI BOYS AT CAMP STERLING
or Training for the Big Fight in France
THE KHAKI BOYS ON THE WAY
or Doing Their Bit on Land and Sea
THE KHAKI BOYS AT THE FRONT
or Shoulder to Shoulder in the Trenches
THE KHAKI BOYS OVER THE TOP
or Doing and Daring for Uncle Sam
THE KHAKI BOYS FIGHTING TO WIN
or Smashing the German Lines
CUPPLES & LEON COMPANY, New York
* * * * *
THE KHAKI BOYS OVER THE TOP
I BLOWN BACK 1
II TO THE RESCUE 11
III SENT TO THE REAR 19
IV A DOUBLE LOSS 28
V WHAT'S TO BE DONE 38
VI GOOD NEWS 44
VII UNDER FIERCE FIRE 52
VIII THE OLD MILL 61
IX TRAPPED 70
X FALLING WALLS 78
XI A STRANGE RESCUE 88
XII MUCH WONDERING 98
XIII A PERILOUS JOURNEY 105
XIV THE SENTRY 113
XV IN THE BATTLE AGAIN 122
XVI HELD UP 133
XVII A BATTLE OF THE AIR 139
XVIII CAPTURED 146
XIX THREE PRISONERS 156
XX THE CAPTAIN AGAIN 163
XXI BACK WITH FRIENDS 176
XXII FIERCE FIGHTING 185
XXIII THE LONELY HUT 192
XXIV A GLORIOUS VICTORY 199
[Illustration: [Transcriber's note: original truncated] 'INTO
THE MIDST OF THE']
THE KHAKI BOYS OVER THE TOP
"What's that, Schnitz?"
"That noise. Sounds like a party coming along the communication
The talk was in tense whispers, and the listening was now of the same
tenseness. Two khaki-clad Sammies stood on the alert in the muddy
ditch, dignified by the title, "trench," and tried to pierce the
darkness that was like a pall of black velvet over everything.
"Hear it?" inquired he who had first spoken.
"I somedings hears, too," spoke a guttural voice, with a foreign
accent. "Might not it perhaps be--"
"Cut that talk, Iggy!" sharply commanded the first speaker. "Do you
want the lieutenant dropping in on us!" And Corporal Robert Dalton
cautiously moved nearer his fellow non-com., Sergeant Franz Schnitzel.
"Yes, not so loud," advised Schnitzel, who, in spite of his Teutonic
name, was a thorough American, speaking with no trace of German
accent. "Don't forget that the Boches may have listening parties out
right in front of this trench, even though they may have information
that we're going to rush 'em just before dawn."
"But what is that noise?" went on Bob. "It sounds like the relief
coming, and yet we can't be going to be relieved so near the zero
hour. It's impossible."
"Him one big word is," sighed Iggy, trying to adjust his Polish tongue
to the strange language called English. "But thinks me nothing is like
him in dis war!"
"Nothing is like what?" asked Schnitzel, the talk now being reduced to
whispers on the part of all three.
"Him wot you said--repossible," said the Polish lad.
"Hush!" quickly exclaimed Bob, or Dal, as he was variously called by
his comrades. "There _is_ some one coming along the trench. If it's
This was enough to cause all three to grip their rifles more tightly.
The sound of advancing footsteps, cautious as they were, was now more
audible. Then came a whispered, but sharp:
"Halt! Who goes there!"
"Our lieut's on the job!" commented Bob.
Tensely the three who stood shoulder to shoulder in the darkness of
the foremost trench, waiting, listened for the answer. It came, also
in a whisper, but it carried to their ears.
"Sergeant Blaise and Sergeant Barlow, ordered to report here to you,
"Oh golly! It's Blazes und Ruddy!" gasped Iggy.
"Cheese it!" cautioned Dal, for the Polish lad, in his enthusiasm,
had spoken above a whisper, and even slight sounds carried far on this
dark, still night.
"Advance, Sergeant Blaise to be recognized," came the order from the
sentry, evidently acting on advice from the lieutenant in command of
this part of the American trench.
There was a period of silent waiting on the part of the three
who stood so close together, and then they heard their immediate
commanding officer say:
"Pass on. You'll find your friends just beyond here."
A moment later the two newcomers were grasping hands in the dark with
the three waiting ones.
"The five Brothers are united again," said Roger Barlow in a low
"Sooner than I expected," commented Jimmy Blaise. "Now we can go over
the top together."
"Over the top, may we all go together, in the wind and the rain or
in damp, foggy weather," was Bob Dalton's contribution. He sometimes
"perpetrated verse," as he dubbed it--a reminder of his cub reporter
"But say, Jimmy, how did you manage to get here?" asked Franz.
"Walked," was Jimmy Blaise's laconic answer. "They haven't had to
carry me on a stretcher--at least not lately."
"Oh, you know what I mean," said Franz. "I mean, did you ask to be
transferred from your station to this trench?"
"No, and that's the funny part of it," said Roger Barlow. "You know
after we wrote our letters to-night--or, rather last night, for it's
past twelve now--Blazes and I went back to our station."
"Yes, and we came here to wait for the zero signal," interpolated Dal.
"Well, we hadn't been out in our trench very long before we were
relieved, and told to report to Lieutenant Dobson here," resumed
Jimmy. "And when we remembered that this was where you three were
stationed, say, maybe we weren't glad!"
"We are of a gladness also much!" whispered the Polish lad, and there
was rather a pathetic note in his voice. "It is a goodness gracious to
have you here!"
"Say, you can do more things to the English language than the Boches
can on an air raid," chuckled Jimmy.
"Oh, well, it is of a much hardness to speak," sighed Iggy.
"Well, there's no fault to be found with your _fighting_, that's
sure!" declared Roger. "Put her there, old pal!" and he clasped hands
with his foreign "Brother."
"How's everything here?" asked Jimmy, when the five had taken such
easy positions as were available in the narrow trench.
"We're all ready for the zero hour," replied Bob. "Everybody's on
their tiptoes. I wish it was over--I mean here. This waiting is worse
"It sure is," commented Franz. "But it won't be long now."
"What time do you make it?" asked Bob.
"Must be quite some after three," said Jimmy in a low voice. "It was
nearly three when we got our orders to come here."
Roger took out a tiny pocket flash lamp, and, placing one finger over
the bulb so that no rays would escape, held the dim glow over his
"Quarter to four," he announced.
"Fifteen minutes more," sighed Dal.
"They'll seem like fifteen years, though, Bob," commented Jimmy.
A reaction, in the shape of silence, came upon the Khaki Boys--"five
Brothers" as they called themselves, for they had become that since
their participation in the World War. Tensely and quietly they waited
in the trench for the hands of time to move to the hour of four. This
was the "zero" period, when in a wave of men and steel, or lead and
high explosives, the Americans would go over the top, in an endeavor
to dislodge the Germans from a strong position.
Only a few hours before, after each had written a letter home, the
missives having been sent back of the lines to be posted, the five
lads had solemnly shaken hands at parting. The two sergeants--James
Blaise and Roger Barlow--went to a distant part of the intricate
trench system, while the two corporals, Robert Dalton and Ignace
Pulinski and Sergeant Franz Schnitzel were together in a ditch near
the middle of the barbed wire entanglements. And now, by a strange
turn of fate, they were all together again, waiting for the final word
that might send then all into eternity, or cause them to live horribly
Something of this seemed to be felt by the five Khaki Boys as they
stood in the mud and darkness waiting. For it had rained and the
trench was slimy on the bottom in spite of the "duck boards."
"I wonder where we'll be this time to-morrow," mused Bob in a low
"Oh, cut out the 'sob sister' stuff!" said Jimmy, a bit sharply.
"Isn't it gloomy enough here without that?"
They talked in the lowest whispers, and there were the murmurs of
whispers on either side of them, for their comrades up and down the
trenches felt the same strain, and relieved it by talking cautiously.
"I think we'll all be together again," said Roger, trying to speak
cheerfully. "Somehow I've got a feeling that we'll come out of this
"Me, I hat a dream," slowly remarked Iggy. "Of my dream I now know
only one cling--und dot is my face was all bloody!"
"Oh, for the love of Mike! Don't croak!" exclaimed Jimmy.
"Silence down there!" came a sharp command. Jimmy had spoken too
loudly, and the listening lieutenant had heard him.
Slowly the minutes dragged. Once again Roger carefully looked at his
"What time is it?" whispered Franz.
"Five minutes of."
"Great Scott! Is it only ten minutes since you looked before! It seems
like a lifetime. Whew! I'm all in a sweat!"
And yet the night was cool.
It was now as silent as death in the trench, and all about it. Earlier
in the night there had been distant shelling, but this had ceased some
Roger, unable to stand the strain longer, was about to flash his
little pocket electric torch again when suddenly the stillness of the
night was broken by a loud, shrill whistle.
"The signal!" cried Jimmy.
"The zero hour at last!" shrilled Roger in his tense excitement.
"Over the top!" yelled Bob. "Over the top!"
And just as the first streaks of the gray light of dawn began to
pierce the blackness, the five Brothers, and their comrades up and
down the trenches, leaped from their places of waiting with savage
yells, and started for the German lines.
"I am glad! I am glad!" sang Iggy. "Now I can of the fight have a
He and Franz sprang out of the trench together. Side by side they
raced over the rough ground, through the gaps cut in the barbed wire.
A little in advance were Jimmy, Roger and Bob.
And now the big guns began their chorus. With boom and roar, roar and
boom they sang their anthem of death. The rattle of rifles came in as
a response, and all this was punctured by fiendish yells.
Then, too, from the German lines, came the answering song of the big
guns. Though the attack had taken them by surprise, they were not slow
in responding. With all that we think of the Boches we must give them
credit for being savage, if unfair, fighters. They seldom declined a
challenge, at least on the front lines.
"Come on! Come on!" yelled Jimmy.
"Up and at 'em! Up and at 'em!" snapped Roger.
"Wow! This is going to be some fight!" exulted Bob.
It was fast growing light, and the disappearing darkness was further
illuminated by the flashes from hundreds of guns. Lines of khaki-clad
Sammies were pouring from the American trenches now, in a mad rush for
the Hun positions.
"Well, we're together yet, anyhow," mused Jimmy, as, looking back, he
saw Bob, the Polish lad, and Franz coming on with a rush.
"Yes, we're together--yet," added Roger. They both had been firing
madly at the distant gray lines of German soldiers in front of them.
They had to yell into each other's ears to be heard above the din.
Suddenly the very earth seemed to drop away from under their feet.
They felt the shock of rushing air. A big, high-explosive shell had
dropped near them.
"That's bad!" shouted Jimmy, as the concussion died away. He looked
behind him and saw, with horror, Iggy, the Polish Brother, literally
being blown back through the air. Whether this was the effect of the
big shell that had exploded, or whether it was caused by a smaller one
going off a moment later, Jimmy could not tell. But he saw Iggy
hurtling through the air, and the face of the Polish lad was covered
with blood, as he himself had said it had been in his dream.
TO THE RESCUE
"Go on! Don't stop! Slam at 'em!"
It was the sharp command of the lieutenant in immediate charge of the
detachment including Jimmy Blaise and his comrades.
"Forward! Forward!" was yelled on every side.
The din continued--increased. It seemed as though there could be
nothing left whole on earth again; in all that riot of noise and
blood--as though everything must be rent to pieces.
"Are you all right!" cried Jimmy in the ear of Roger.
"Yes. Not scratched yet. How about--"
A loud explosion to one side cut off his words in a blast, but Jimmy
knew what his chum wanted to say. When there was a momentary lull he
"Yes. I had a glimpse of him being blown back--his face was all
Roger could not repress a shudder. But there was no time for any
thoughts like these. He had a glimpse of Bob Dalton and Franz
Schnitzel stumbling toward him and Jimmy. Then came a sharp command:
"Down! Down on your faces! Everyone! They're turning loose the
The four remaining Khaki Boys fell flat, and only just in time. Over
them swept a veritable hail of machine gun bullets.
"Dig in! Dig in!" commanded the lieutenant.
Frantically with their picks and shovels the Sammies began to make
shallow ditches in which to lie. The upraised earth would offer some
protection against the forward sweeping lead, though not very much
against shrapnel which explodes in the air above and is driven
And as the four Brothers were making shallow trenches they wondered,
with sorrow in their hearts, if there was a chance that Iggy had been
"If we stay here long enough, I'll see if I can't get permission to go
back and find out," mused Jimmy, as he frantically scraped the earth
into a sort of long mound in front of his head. They were under a hot
fire now. The American advance had been momentarily checked.
And while there is this period in the fighting may I not take
advantage of it to make my new readers acquainted with the main
characters of this story, and also tell something of the previous books
in this series?
The initial volume is called "The Khaki Boys at Camp Sterling," and in
the pages of that you meet, for the first time, Jimmy, Roger, Bob and
Iggy. To introduce them more formally I will say that Jimmy's correct
name was James Sumner Blaise, and that he was the son of wealthy
parents. He was about nineteen years old, and this was the average age
of his comrades.
Roger Barlow was an orphan, and had been working in a munition factory
when he decided to enlist. Robert Dalton had been a "cub" reporter
on a newspaper, and, like Roger, was an orphan. Though Ignace was no
orphan, possessing both father and mother and a number of sisters and
brothers, his home life was not happy, and he was really glad to join
These four lads soon became "bunkies" at Camp Sterling, where they
had their training. Later they took into their friendship one Franz
Schnitzel, who, though possessed of a German name, was, nevertheless,
a loyal "United Stateser," as Iggy called it. Franz had a hard time,
at first, convincing people of his loyalty, and once he was accused of
a black crime, but later he was proved innocent.
After having been trained at the camp, and cementing their friendship
in many ways, the "five Brothers" as they called themselves, were sent
across. In the second book of the series, "The Khaki Boys On the
Way," we find our youthful heroes sailing for France after a series of
adventures, one a startling one, at Camp Marvin. This adventure had to
do with the blowing up of a bridge, and Jimmy Blaise had a fight with
a spy--a fight that came near being Jimmy's last.
In this second book will also be found an account of the trip of the
Khaki Boys to the coast, where they boarded a transport for France. If
they expected to get across safely, as many thousands did, they were
disappointed, for they were attacked by a U-Boat. Many on board the
transport _Columbia_ perished, but the five Brothers were saved, and,
after a time spent in a rest camp in England, they crossed the channel
The third volume, called "The Khaki Boys at the Front," tells in
detail some of their exciting experiences. The quintette were given
leave to go from their camp to Paris, and in that beautiful city they
met some other friends, the Twinkle Twins, otherwise John and Gerald
Twinkleton, who had joined the aviation branch of the service. This
was natural, since their cousin, Emile Voissard, was one of the most
daring of the airmen, meriting the name "Flying Terror of France."
In that book, too, you may read of how Franz Schnitzel, by his
knowledge of the German tongue, was able to give advance notice of a
raid he overheard the Huns planning. The raid was a failure from the
German standpoint, but during it some of our Khaki Boys were wounded.
Adventure followed adventure, but in one "grand" one, as a Frenchman
would call it, Jimmy, on guard when Voissard's aeroplane was on the
ground, temporarily disabled, stood off an attack of Germans and among
others he killed Adolph von Kreitzen, known as the "tiger man." On his
head the French government had set a price of five thousand francs, or
about a thousand dollars, and of course Jimmy won this.
So now, in the opening of this present story, we find our five Khaki
Boys still together after many strenuous happenings. They had been
wounded but were now recovered and they had fought valiantly.
In the last chapter of the book immediately preceding this, if you
recall, the lads had written letters home--letters which might be
their last, they thought, for they had orders to take their places in
the front line trenches to await the zero hour. Two of the Brothers
had been separated from their chums, but all were reunited as we have
Then had come the command to go over the top, and there had followed
the fierce rush in the gray dawn of the morning--a rush punctuated by
fire, smoke and death.
"Dig in! Dig in!" commanded the lieutenant in command of the
particular squad of the 509th infantry to which our friends were
attached. "This is only a temporary check. We're laying down a curtain
of fire, and we'll go forward again in a moment!"
He had to yell to be heard above the din, but all near him understood
what he meant. The American gunners were sending over a barrage
fire--a veritable rain of bullets that would keep the Germans
from advancing, and which would also cause them to abandon their
machine-guns. It was the machine-gun fire that was, temporarily,
holding up the advance of Jimmy and his chums.
It did not take the Sammies long, working feverishly as they did, to
raise a protecting mound of earth between them and the Huns. And then,
for some reason or other, the savage fire of the Germans slacked at
the particular section of the line where our heroes were stationed.
"Are you all right, Rodge?" called Jimmy to the chum on his left.
"So far, yes. How about you?"
"Oh, I was nicked in one ear--just a scratch. It's hardly bleeding.
Can you see Bob?"
"Yes, he's got a swell place--in a shell hole, and Franz is with him.
See anything of Iggy?"
"No," answered Jimmy. "I'm afraid he's done for. If I get a chance,
I'm going back to see. Looks as if Fritz had had enough at this
"Aren't we going forward?" some one called to the lieutenant in
charge. "Come on! Lead us to the Boches!"
"Have to wait for orders," was the grim answer. "We were told to halt
here. Can't go on without orders!"
There were murmurs of disapproval at this, but the discipline was
"Anybody badly wounded?" asked the lieutenant. "If there is, now's
your chance to get some first-aid treatment. Later you can't,
There were one or two who were suffering badly, and these took
advantage of the lull in the fighting to apply bandages to their
"Poor Iggy!" mused Jimmy, and then, as the lieutenant crawled near
him--for no one was standing upright--the sergeant asked:
"May I crawl back, sir, and see what happened to Corporal Pulinski?"
"Did you see anything happen to him?"
"Yes, sir. I saw him blown backward when the big shell exploded, and
he seemed to be falling toward some sort of shell crater. If we're
going to be held here long, I'd like to go to his rescue--to see if
he's still alive."
"Very well," assented the young commanding officer. "Ill take a chance
and let you." He knew of the pact of friendship existing among the
five Brothers. "Take some one with you. But crawl--don't try to walk."
"I won't, sir. May Sergeant Barlow come along?"
"Yes. But come back if we get the order to advance again."
"I will, yes, sir!"
Swinging around on his stomach, and calling to Roger, telling him
of the permission received, Jimmy Blaise started toward the rear to
rescue, if possible, the Polish lad.
"But I'm afraid we'll find him done for," confided Jimmy to Roger.
"The shell must have landed right in front of him. It made a hole as
big as a house."
"Poor Iggy!" murmured Roger.
SENT TO THE REAR
Roger Barlow, who was slightly behind his comrade in their queer
progress back toward the shell hole near which the Polish lad had been
seen to fall, observed his fellow sergeant come to a halt.
"What's the matter--hit?" cried Roger anxiously. And this well might
have been the case, since, though there was a lull in the fighting
immediately in front of Company E, there were plenty of stray bullets,
not to mention pieces of shrapnel and bits of high explosive shells,
that might have reached the crawling lad.
"Hit? No, not yet," answered Jimmy. "I'm going to try, if it's safe,
to make a little better progress than this, though. This is too slow.
Poor Iggy may be dead before we get to him."
"Probably is," commented Roger.
"Oh, can the gloomy stuff!" snapped Jimmy. Afterward he admitted that
his nerves were pretty well strained. In fact that was the condition
of all of them. "You're almost as bad as Franz," went on Jimmy.
"Well, I don't want to be too hopeful," returned Roger. "But what are
you going to do, anyhow?"
"This," answered his chum. He drew his rifle up close beside him, took
off his tin hat, stuck it on the end of his bayonet, and cautiously
raised it well above the ground. It received no bullets, as might have
"Come on, we can run for it!" cried Jimmy.
"What makes you think so?" asked his chum. "Didn't the lieutenant tell
us to lie on our faces?"
"Yes, but that was before the fighting ceased in front of us. Fritz
is having all he can attend to on either wing of our advance, and,
for the time being we're not being molested. If the Huns were in any
strength directly ahead of us, or to our rear as we are now, that tin
helmet would look like a sieve by this time. It's safe enough to get
up and run for it. And we've got to hustle if we want to save Iggy."
"All right, just as you say!" murmured Roger, as he began to rise.
It was not without a natural feeling of timidity that he cautiously
elevated himself first to his knees and then to his feet. As for
Jimmy, he had impulsively stood upright.
"Come on!" he yelled above the din of battle. "Come on!"
He started on a run over the shell-torn ground, with what remained of
the barbed wire entanglements here and there.
"I'm coming!" answered Roger.
He expected any moment to receive a bullet, or to be utterly blasted
from the earth by some terrible shell explosion. And Jimmy confessed,
later, that he felt the same fear. But these fears did not hold back
the Khaki Boys from continuing on to the rescue of their comrade--if
he was in a condition to be rescued.
"Where's the place?" cried Roger to his chum, when they had covered
several yards in a hasty rush toward the rear.
"Must be somewhere around here," answered Jimmy, looking about
him. That part of No Man's Land where they then were, seemingly was
deserted by all save the dead. If there had been any injured they had
been taken well back behind the lines by stretcher bearers.
For a time Roger and Jimmy feared they might be considered deserters,
coming toward the rear as they were doing, and away from the fighting,
and aside from mere scratches neither of them showing any wounds.
Though if they had been hurt that would have been an excuse for making
But no one observed the two--there was no one to observe them, in
fact. They were some distance from their own trenches, and immediately
back of them--toward the German lines--there had been a division in
the fighting, so that the battle waged on either wing, as it were.
"Look in all the shell holes!" directed Jimmy. "The shell burst right
in front, or to one side of poor Iggy. He was blown into a shell hole,
of that I'm pretty sure."
"There's a hole--a big one, too," said Roger. "But there's no one
in it--only dead!" and he turned away, for some of those dead were
comrades who, the night before, had been in the trenches with him and
But the Khaki Boys were hardened to scenes like this now. Too many
times had they seen the dead and dying. There was no time to nurse
"Come on! Come on!" cried Jimmy feverishly. "We've got to be quick!
Iggy may bleed to death if he's hurt anything like I think he is."
"Yes, and this place may be a regular lead hail storm, soon," added
Roger. "I can't see why our company was held up! Why couldn't we keep
on giving the Huns what they deserve?"
"Orders are orders, my boy, we learned that long ago. And when the
lieut. wouldn't let us go on, there must be some reason for it. I'm
just as anxious to give Fritz his medicine as anyone. Hello, there!
Did you hear that queer noise!"
"Yes. Sounded like a groan. Listen!"
The tide of battle was away from them now, and they were able, above
the distant roar, to hear ordinary sounds, which had not been the case
when the attack started. The sun was well up now, and the day gave
promise of being a fine one--hot, too. And on such a scene the sun
shone! Death and devastation brought on by human beasts!
"There it is again!" cried Roger, "It sure was a groan."
"Somebody around here is alive, at any rate," said Jimmy.
There were a number of terribly mangled bodies near them, and it was
hardly believable that the groan came from any of those poor forms of
what had once been living men.
"Over here!" cried Roger suddenly. "The sound came from down in that
He pointed to one, on the sides of which was fresh earth, showing that
the explosive had recently fallen.
"There's no one down in that hole," declared Roger, taking a look.
"Yes there is!" asserted Jimmy. "See that shoe sticking out!"
He pointed to what seemed but a mound of dirt and stones in the very
bottom of the shell crater. And Roger observed that the dirt did not
altogether cover a leg and foot. An army shoe was sticking out.
"Come on!" cried Jimmy, and the next moment he was sliding down the
side of the shell hole. Roger followed, and the two began to roll
aside the larger stones that had fallen on the body. The Khaki Boys
leaned their rifles against the side of the crater, and took off their
gas masks, from where they lining ready for use, in order to work more
"The wind isn't right for a gas attack," murmured Roger, as he
temporarily deprived himself of this necessary protection.
As the boys feverishly worked to uncover the form they heard another
loud groan coming from beneath the dirt.
"It doesn't seem possible anyone can be alive--like this," panted
Roger as he labored at a heavy stone.
"Don't talk--work!" snapped Jimmy. "If he's alive, whoever it is, he
needs help quick."
"Wonder if it's Iggy?" went on Roger.
Jimmy's hands flew as do the legs of a dog when he is digging out a
buried bone, nor was Roger behind his comrade. They labored at that
part of the pile of earth and stones which covered the face and head
of the unfortunate soldier.
"There--he can breathe if he's alive still!" gasped Jimmy as he
straightened up after having lifted aside a board that had fallen over
the face of the Sammie they were trying to rescue. And it was
this board that undoubtedly saved the unfortunate from dying by
For the piece of plank had fallen in such a way, being supported on
either end by resting on two stones on either side of the man's head,
that it kept the dirt and stones away from the face.
And that it was a face which they had uncovered, was not at all
certain to Roger and Jimmy at first. For so covered with blood,
streaks of dirt and powder stains was the countenance that it
resembled nothing human.
"He's alive--whoever he is!" declared Jimmy, for the unfortunate
was observed to breathe--and breathe deeply as the air came in more
abundantly to the parted lips.
Roger began digging in the dirt again, working down to the man's
hands. And when he had brushed aside the dirt and stones he lifted up
a limp wrist. One look at the identification tag chained around it,
and he cried:
"It's Iggy! We've found him all right!"
"Sure enough--it _is_ Iggy!" cried Jimmy, as he, too, looked at the
"Ach! Yes! Water!" faintly moaned the Polish lad. His voice was
a moan, but it was his voice. He opened his eyes, looked almost
uncomprehendingly at his two chums and smiled faintly.
"So, come you haf!" he murmured. "Think I did dat you would!"
His head, which he had raised, sank back limply.
"Here!" cried Jimmy, opening his canteen. "Drink this!"
Poor Iggy did, gratefully enough. Some of the water trickled over his
face, and when Roger wiped it away some of the blood and dirt went
"Why he isn't hurt much--not up here, anyhow!" cried Jimmy. "I thought
sure his whole head was blown off the way he looked."
"Well, let's get him out of here and look at him afterward," counseled
Roger, and they resumed their work until the Polish lad's body was
all exposed. Then he was lifted out, and in a little while it was
ascertained that he was not seriously injured--at least outwardly. His
arms and legs were whole, and there was no big wound, though he was
terribly scratched and bruised.
"But why stand up can not I!" asked Iggy, for Roger and Jimmy were
supporting him with their arms around him down in the shell hole.
"I guess he means why can't he stand up," translated Roger,
for sometimes their foreign Brother misplaced his English words
"Sure! Why can't not I stand?" went on Iggy. "My legs--they is got no
business to 'em. Like paper legs they is!"
Roger and Jimmy looked apprehensively at one another. This loss of
feeling and muscular power in Iggy's legs might indicate that his
spine was injured--that his whole lower body was paralyzed!
"We've got to get him to the rear--to a hospital," said Roger in a low
voice, as the Polish lad's head drooped weakly on his shoulder.
"Yes," assented Jimmy. "But can we carry him?"
They looked about for some means of getting Iggy to the top of the
shell hole. That would be the most difficult part of the rescue. Then,
to their surprise, the two who had come back to seek their friend,
heard a hail on the rim of the crater above them.
"What's the matter down there?" came the cry. "Do you want help!"
"You said it!" voiced Jimmy, vigorously.
"All right. Wait a minute. We'll be right down!"
It was two stretcher-bearers who had hailed, and, a little later,
Ignace Pulinski was being carried to the rear. He had fainted when
brought to the top of the shell hole.
A DOUBLE LOSS
After waiting a moment on the ground at the top of the shell crater,
to see their comrade being carried to a first-aid dressing station at
the rear, Jimmy and Roger started back to join their two friends who
were still, it was to be hoped, waiting for orders to advance.
"S'pose he's much hurt?" asked Roger, something like a dry sob choking
him as he thought of poor Iggy.
"I'm afraid so--yes," answered Jimmy. "That business of his legs
feeling numb is a bad sign. It's a wonder he lived as long as he did,
after what happened to him."
"I'll say so!" agreed Roger. "Tough luck all right!"
"Why," went on his chum as they started back toward their former
places, "it looked as if his whole face was blown in. I can't
"Well, they'll do the best they can for him back there," and Roger
nodded toward the dressing stations. "Maybe we'll get a chance to go
to see him after this battle."
His words were drowned in a new roar of artillery and machine-gun
fire. The heavy booming and the short, sharp, rattling explosions of
the smaller guns seemed very close at hand.
"Something's doing!" cried Jimmy.
"Come on!" shouted his chum, and, with their rifles and gas masks,
which they had brought up out of the shell hole, they rushed forward.
And as they advanced they became aware of shrill, whistling sounds in
the air about them.
"Duck! Duck!" yelled Roger. "They're firing over our sector now!
We've got to crawl back!"
Jimmy realized this as well as did his chum, and, in another moment,
the two were making their way back to their line as they had left it,
by alternately moving on their hands and knees and again by working
themselves forward on their elbows and stomach. It was the only safe
way. The horizontal storm of missiles was, fortunately, about three
feet above them, but that distance precluded walking upright.
"Come on, boys! Fall in! Fall in!" cried their lieutenant as Roger and
Jimmy got back "We're going to advance. You're just in time!"
"Did you find him?" asked Bob, as he leaped to his feet in readiness
for a dash toward the German lines.
"Yes. In a shell hole!" yelled Jimmy, for the firing was heavy on both
sides of them now, making a vicious din.
"Alive!" Franz wanted to know.
"Yes, alive, but how long he'll be that way it's hard to say,"
answered Roger. "He was under a pile of dirt and--"
"Come on! Come on!" cried the lieutenant. "We're going to finish the
He was leading his men, not driving them on as do the Germans,
and nobly the four Brothers and their fellows followed the gallant
On they rushed--ever onward. About them swept the leaden hail of
death. Shoulder to shoulder, firing from the hip, rushed the four
Khaki Boys. And even in that terrible din of battle they spared a
thought for the gallant comrade who would have been with him if he
With wild yells the Sammies swept over the first line of German
trenches. The Boches had deserted them in the face of a withering
rifle and machine-gun fire.
"Come on! Come on!" yelled the lieutenant again and again. "They're
laying down a perfect barrage for us! The Huns can't get through to
This was true, to a certain extent. Supported by the big guns in the
rear, the 509th Infantry was rushing onward. Before them, and ever
moving forward, was a never-ending curtain of fire--a hail of lead and
As this curtain advanced, caused by the continual but slow elevation
of the muzzles of the big guns, the infantry followed. And this fire
kept the German support from coming to save the lines that were under
"Wipe 'em out! Wipe out the Hun nests!" cried the lieutenant.
"It's our turn now!" grimly shouted Roger in Jimmy's ear.
Forward swept the company to which our heroes were assigned. For a
time, during which the two chums had had a chance to get Iggy from the
shell hole, there had been no advance. Now it came with a vengeance.
But the Germans were not idle. If their infantry was held back
from making a counter-attack, their heavy guns, and here and there,
machine-guns, were not idle. And these weapons tore big holes in the
ranks of the Sammies. But ever the holes were closed up--comparatively
closed up, that is, for the fighting of the Americans was not in close
order, such as that in which the Germans so often advanced to their
At times the four Brothers would be close to one another, converging
to get out of the line of some trench or avoid a shell hole. Again
they would be yards apart But they kept in "contact," as it is called.
And ever as they advanced they fired their rifles into the German
lines. True they could only now and then catch a glimpse of the foe,
but they made those chances tell.
"Come on now, boys--a little farther and we'll have our objective!
Just a few yards more!" cried the lieutenant who was leading our
heroes. "Once we're at that barn, we can rest. Only a few feet
more--only a few--"
His yelling voice suddenly ceased, and Jimmy, who was nearest, saw the
gallant soldier crumple up, with a bullet through his head. And as he
fell his men behind him, leaped over his body with wild yells of rage.
"Come on! Come on!" screamed Jimmy, inflamed to the point of madness.
He was in command at this point now, following the death of the
lieutenant. "Come on! Make 'em pay for that!" He choked back his sobs,
for the lieutenant was well beloved.
On they rushed, on and on. The man on Jimmy's left was killed, and the
comrade on his right fell with a shattered leg.
"I'm out of it!" suddenly shouted Franz, and he tried to hop on one
foot, falling, a moment later, in a shallow hole.
On the others rushed, and finally, with wild yells, they drove the
Germans from their last stand. The stone barn held a machine gun nest,
and many of the Sammies were killed or wounded before the crew of
Huns were scattered or captured--and there were very few of this last
class, so desperate was their resistance.
From somewhere came the signal to cease firing, and, a little later, a
captain came along and took charge.
"Who's in command?" he asked, seeing no commissioned officer in the
group which had for a nucleus Jimmy, Roger and Bob.
"I am, sir," answered the former, saluting. "The lieutenant was
A twitch of the face, and a hardening of the muscles about the
captain's mouth were the only signs of emotion he showed, but his
heart was torn--the boys knew that. The lieutenant was his only
"Hold this place at all costs!" was the grim order. "I'll send an
officer to take charge shortly. But hold the place!"
"Yes, sir." and Jimmy saluted again.
Quickly they took measures to do this--to make the stone barn, once
the part of a French farm homestead, a position of defense. The German
machine-gun, for which there was considerable ammunition left, was
turned to point at the Hun line. But the Boches had withdrawn some
distance. The Sammies had gained their objective, and the battle, for
the time being, was over. Now there might come a counter-attack, and
for this Jimmy, temporarily in command, prepared with his chums.
"Bob," called Jimmy to the former reporter, "you and Roger go back and
see if you can pick up Franz, or any other of our lads who are alive.
See what they need, and, if it's possible, get first-aid to them."
This was a welcome order to these two Khaki Boys and they started back
over the ground won at such terrible cost. Already, though, gallant
stretcher-bearers were searching among the dead to succor the living.
And then, to their unutterable delight, Roger and Bob saw Franz
limping toward them, using his rifle as a crutch.
"Thought you were done for, like poor Iggy," cried Roger.
"I thought so, too," answered Schnitz. "I felt sure my foot was lopped
off, but it was only bruised on the ankle by a stone that some piece
of shell must have kicked up. It's only badly bruised. I don't have to
go to the rear!" and he said this joyously.
But there were many poor lads who did have to go to the rear, for they
were torn and mangled. And there were some who had made their last
fight. But it was a good fight. Oh, it was a good and noble fight! Be
sure of that!
Assisting Franz, Roger and Bob got back to the barn, and there they took
off their comrade's shoe. As he had said, his ankle was only bruised. He
was able to limp along.
The Hun fighters had received more than they wanted. They had not only
withdrawn to a good distance, but they did not even have nerve enough
to launch a counter-attack. The American advance had been so well
prepared that it won the battle.
"Well, now we have time to breathe and eat," commented Jimmy, who had
been relieved in command.
"Say, a lot of things have happened since the zero hour this morning,"
"You said it!" declared Bob fervently. "If I was only on the paper
now I could write a front page story, instead of a miserable little
'stick' about a runaway horse. Oh, but this was some fight!"
It was toward evening, and the tired doughboys were wondering what the
night would hold for them, when Jimmy remarked:
"I'm going to see if I can find Sergeant Maxwell."
"What's the matter with him?" asked Roger.
"Nothing, I hope. But I gave him those five thousand francs to keep
for me--you know, the reward money--_our_ money," explained Jimmy, for
it was that, as you shall see. "I want to get it back, now that the
battle is over. We won't go into action very soon again, I'm thinking.
I just gave him the notes to keep for me until this scrap was over.
Now I think I'll get 'em back again, and divide 'em up."
"Are you going to persist in your generous notion?" asked Bob.
"I sure am!" was the somewhat indignant answer. "What do you think I
am, anyhow, an Injun giver? I said we five Brothers would share and
share alike in that reward, and I'm going to insist on it. If Iggy--if
he's killed--his share goes to his folks. Why, you fellows helped as much
in putting that dog Von Kreitzen out of the way as I did."
"Nonsense!" declared Roger. "You did it all alone!"
"Well, I'm not going to spend the reward all alone, and that's
settled!" snapped Jimmy. "It's going to be whacked up, just as I
promised. Now I'm going to find Maxwell and get the dough. Why, of
course, I'm going to divide it. And I'll be glad to get my share right
now. We haven't had any pay in some time, and goodness knows when I'll
hear from home."
"Or Buffalo," added Bob, with a laugh.
"Yes, or Buffalo," agreed Jimmy. He had admitted that his "girl" lived
there--a girl to whom he often referred as "Margaret," but beyond this
he had said little of her. "So I'm going out to find Maxwell. I'll be
back soon," he promised.
He received the necessary permission and was soon scouting about,
back of the German trench lines, which had been taken over by the
"Seen Maxwell?" asked Jimmy of a fellow non-commissioned officer who,
he knew, was in Maxwell's mess.
"Maxwell? No, I haven't seen him lately. Didn't you hear about him?"
"Hear what about him? What do you mean?" asked Jimmy, and he was
conscious of a strange foreboding.
"Why, Sergeant Maxwell has been missing since just about the time we
got word to go over the top at the zero hour," stated Corporal Blake,
to whom Jimmy had applied. "I thought you knew that."
"No, I didn't," said Jimmy quietly. Then he whistled.
"What's the matter?" asked Blake.
"If Maxwell is missing then it's a double loss," was the answer.
"A double loss? What do you mean?"
"I mean my five thousand francs are gone, too. Whew! Well, it can't be
helped, I suppose. I'll go tell the boys!"
WHAT'S TO BE DONE?
"What's the matter. Blazes?" cried Bob, as he saw his friend coming
"You look as if we'd lost the war!"
"Well, I've lost part of something I won in it, anyhow," declared
"Is Iggy dead?" Franz wanted to know. "Did you hear any word from
"No, but we must make some inquiries. This is about something else.
Fellows, I guess I'll have to wait until I get a remittance from
home before I give you your shares of the thousand dollars reward."
"Wait for a remittance!" exclaimed Roger. "Not that I'm altogether
sure I'm going to take what you call my 'share' of that; but why do
you have to wait?"
"Because the money's gone," said Jimmy, tragically. In France, three
thousand miles away from home, with their army pay uncertain, ready
cash meant much to our doughboys.
"Gone! Did you lose it?" asked Bob, with a reportorial instinct.
"No, but Maxwell is gone and the money's gone with him. He's missing,"
Jimmy hastened to explain. "Been missing since just before we went
"Where was the sergeant stationed?" asked Roger.
"In that big concrete dugout we captured from the Germans in the
scrap just before this," Jimmy explained. "He was in command of a hand
grenade squad there, and just before the fight, or at least soon after
the signal to advance was given, that was the last seen of Sergeant
Maxwell and my money," added the owner of it ruefully.
His companions received the news in silence. Then Franz spoke up and
"What's to be done? I don't so much mean about the money," he added
quickly, as he saw the others look curiously at him. "That doesn't
matter, though, of course, I'll be glad of my share, and it's mighty
generous of you, Blazes, to offer to whack up. But I mean what's to be
done about Sergeant Maxwell? Do you suppose he--"
He did not finish, but his meaning was obvious.
"If you mean, do I think he went away with it, I most certainly do
_not_," declared Jimmy, positively. "A thousand dollars isn't enough
to make a man skip out."
"A thousand dollars is a lot to some people--I know it is to _me_,"
said Bob. "I worked hard on the _Chronicle_, and it never brought me a
thousand dollars--at least not all at once."
"Me either--when I was slaving in the munition plant, and running a
chance of being blown up every minute," declared Roger. "But I think
Schnitz is right--what's to be done! Maybe Maxwell was robbed, and he
started after the thief and--"
"'Maybe' won't get us anywhere," said Jimmy. "Of course, I'd rather
lose the five thousand francs ten times over than have anything happen
to Maxwell. And I'd like to know where he is for his own sake. At the
same time I'd like to get that money back, as much for my own sake
as for you fellows," he added. "I can very nicely use a bit of spare
"So can I," chimed in Franz. "Maybe we'll have a chance to hunt for
the serg. after this place quiets down a bit."
"I hope so," sighed Jimmy. Really he was more affected than he liked
to admit, and it was not altogether over the loss of the money,
either. He had been firm friends with the missing man--not as close a
chum as with his four Brothers, but enough so that there was a genuine
loss in his disappearance.
"Well, we'll see what we can do," decided Bob. "We've got to look
after Iggy, too--that is, if he's alive. But we can't do anything
along either line to-night."
"No, I guess not," agreed Jimmy. "Some of us'll have to do sentry go,
I expect, or take a listening post."
And he was right in his surmise. He and Bob were detailed to take a
trick at a listening post--to be on the alert for any possible advance
of the temporarily defeated Germans. Franz, because of his bruised
ankle, was not put on duty. Indeed, he came near being sent to the
rear for treatment when an officer discovered his hurt.
"It'll be all right in the morning," declared the youth of German
blood, who, nevertheless, was such an ardent hater of the Kaiser and
his "Potsdam gang," as a certain preacher has called the Hun ruler's
associates. "I'm simply not going to the hospital! Captain, there'll
be fighting in the morning; won't there, sir?"
"Very likely," was the grim answer.
"Then I'm going to stay, sir!" declared Franz, forgetting that he
was speaking to his superior officer. "I'll be able to walk in the
morning, and I want to get some more of the beasts!" and he fairly
snarled the word. No true-blooded American hated the Huns as did Franz
Schnitzel, of German parentage.
"Very well," assented the captain. "You may stay until morning, at
"Thank you, sir," replied Franz, saluting. He knew in his heart that
he would never give in, no matter how his ankle hurt, and the pain was
not inconsiderable, either.
There came a reaction after the fierce fighting of the morning and
early afternoon, and when night came, and the lads, with only a short
period of rest, had to go out on sentry or other duty, there was a
weariness of body, and a queer feeling of the mind, that did not make
the occasion one of pleasure.
But duty was duty and it had to be done.
Jimmy and Bob had an advanced listening post, and they took their
positions about ten o 'clock that night. It was dark and a drizzling
rain was falling.
"I'd much rather go to bed in a dugout," declared Jimmy, stifling a
"Same here," agreed Bob. "Say, what do you s'pose happened to Maxwell,
"Can't imagine, unless he's been killed or captured. If he was within
our lines some one would have heard of it. Or perhaps they wouldn't
either, in all this excitement. It may take two or three days to
locate him, if he's alive."
"And if he isn't--or is a prisoner?" suggested Bob.
"Then good-bye to our thousand dollars," sighed Jimmy.
"I'm thinking of poor Iggy, too," said Bob, after a pause. "Do you
think he has any chance!"
"Well, he didn't appear to be badly wounded. But if his spine is
broken he'll never fight again, and may not live very long. That's
a fierce state of affairs. How he escaped being killed outright is
a wonder to me. You ought to have seen him after Roger and I dug him
out," and in a whisper, for loud talking was forbidden, he related the
scene in the shell hole.
He had scarcely finished his narration when Bob peered out from
their improvised shelter and seemed to be looking at something
intently--that is, as intently as he could in the rainy darkness.
"What is it?" asked Jimmy cautiously.
"I don't know," was the answer. "But someone, or something, is
crawling this way. Look right straight ahead. See it moving?"
For a moment Jimmy could see nothing. Possibly this was because he
strained his eyes too much, but of course he was looking out into a
darkness so black that it seemed to swallow up everything. And
there was rain, too, a misty, drizzling rain, which alone would have
hampered vision. Then Jimmy closed his strained orbs, and when he
opened them again his vision was nearer normal.
"Do you see it yet?" whispered Bob. "Squint along my finger."
Jimmy did so.
"You have pretty good eyes to see anything in this blackness," he was
saying when he suddenly became aware of something moving out there
among the holes caused by the American shells.
It was more, he said afterward, as though part of the darkness itself
moved rather than that he actually saw something. But it was enough to
direct his attention to what Bob pointed out.
"It _is_ something," was Jimmy's cautious declaration. "And coming
There was a movement on the part of Bob, and his chum knew he was
getting his rifle in readiness. Jimmy followed this example. They were
on the alert.
"Don't fire until you challenge," cautioned Jimmy. "It might be one of
our fellows, you know."
"One of our fellows--out there? How could it be!"
"Might have advanced too far, been wounded and have waited for
darkness to crawl back to our lines. Wait a second more until we see
what he's up to."
"It's a man, sure!" Bob whispered, "and he's crawling toward us on his
"Let's do the same ourselves and crawl out to meet him," suggested
Jimmy. "If he has a grenade, or a bomb, and tries to throw it, we may
"Our orders were to stay here," decided Bob, and he was a great
stickler for obeying orders to the letter. Perhaps even his small
newspaper experience was responsible for this.
Suddenly the silence of the darkness was broken by an unmistakable
sneeze. True, the sneezer, if I may use such a term, tried to stifle
the explosion, but he was not altogether successful. It was a sneeze,
and nothing could disguise it.
"Did you hear--" began Bob.
And then, to the greater surprise of the two listeners, there came a
muttered exclamation in _German_.
"For the love of gas masks!" breathed Jimmy. "Take aim, Bob!"
And in another moment the fire of two rifles would have been
concentrated on that moving splotch of blackness, whence had come the
sneeze, except that the guttural German expletive was followed by a
tense whisper. And the words came in good English.
"Don't shoot, boys! I'm Schnitz!"
Bob said, afterward, that the reaction was so great that he actually
had a fit of nervous shivering, and Jimmy admitted the same. They
fully expected a rush of the Huns, but they had made up their minds
that first they would "get" the advance guard in the shape of the
man who had sneezed. And then to hear the unmistakable voice of their
comrade in arms!
It was almost unbelievable, and, for a moment, both listening lads had
a doubt. This might be some trick of the Germans, and "Schnitz" was a
sufficiently common Teutonic name, shortened as it was. But a moment
later the voice from the darkness went on in the same cautious
"Don't fire, Bob--Jimmy! If you do, you'll spoil a little
"Say, what does this mean!" asked Jimmy, a bit sternly, for he was
suffering from a reaction.
"You're supposed to be in the dugout, or somewhere back there," said
Bob, when Franz had crawled to them and had arisen to stand beside
them. "What brought you out? Were you sent?"
"I sent myself," was the laconic answer. "I couldn't stand it being
cooped up back there. My ankle felt a lot better, and I took French
leave, as it were. I sneaked out and I crawled over toward the Hun
trenches. And say, I've got some information that the K.O. will give
his eye teeth to have. They're raising a little party to come over and
try to get back some of the land we took from 'em this morning. The
Huns are going to raid our position in half an hour."
"Are you sure?" demanded Bob, and yet he knew that Franz would not say
it if it were not so.
"Well, I'm as sure as one can be of anything in this war," was the
answer in a whisper, all the talk being of that calibre. "I crawled
over until I could hear the sentries talking. Then I located a dugout.
The door was open and more talk floated out. I heard enough to tell
me that the raid is going to be made just before daylight and on this
"You mean where we are?" asked Bob.
"As nearly as I can tell," answered Franz, whose knowledge of the
German language had again done him and his friends such good service.
"Whew!" softly whistled Jimmy. "We'd better get word to the K.O. in
a jiffy. You'll get blue streaks, though, Schnitz, for disobeying
"Oh, I guess not," was the easy answer. "It'll all be forgotten in
the excitement. I just had to go out. I heard where you fellows were
stationed on listening post and I started out with the intention of
crawling back to your position. Hit it, too; didn't I?"
"That sneeze came near causing you to be hit, and with something
harder than a rubber ball," said Jimmy grimly. "Bob? you'd better go
back with him and let him tell his yarn to the captain. He doesn't
know the password, and I'll have to stay here on duty. But hurry back
and let me know what the word is."
"Right-O!" assented Bob, and a moment later he and Franz were
stumbling back over the rough ground, and through the rain and
darkness, toward the dugout where the officer in charge of that
particular sector was on duty. A captured German dugout had been taken
over, and such comforts as it afforded were utilized.
Just as Franz had surmised, the import of the news he brought in
wiped out his offense against orders. He told in detail what he had
overheard, and quick, sharp commands were at once sent out over
the telephone, for the engineers had hastily strung wires when the
advanced posts had been taken by the onrushing American doughboys.
And the information Franz had secured by his bold act proved correct
in every detail. The Germans, smarting under their defeat, were
determined on revenge. The raiding party came over--but they found the
It was not a large raid, not as large as Franz, in his enthusiasm, had
intimated. And it was evidently undertaken to get back the commanding
position occupied by that part of the 509th to which the five Brothers
But with the advent of the foe the Americans opened such a fire
from rifles, hand grenades and light artillery, while the scene was
illuminated by flaring lights, that the Huns were almost completely
wiped out. A number of prisoners were taken, for the Boches, once they
found the tide of battle going against them, threw down their guns and
Sharp as was the fighting, it was only a slight incident in the great
war. Such skirmishes, or trench raids, were occurring all along the
Western front every night. But slight as it was it took the lives of
several gallant American lads, and a number were wounded. Roger
Barlow received a slight flesh wound, but he refused to go back to the
dressing station, insisting on getting back into the fight when his
hurt had received first-aid treatment.
"The only trouble was, though," Roger said later, "that the scrap was
all over when I got back from the first-aid post. Pity you fellows
couldn't have kept it going until I could join you."
"Better to have it over with sharp and sudden than drag along,"
replied Jimmy. "They killed poor Baker right in front of me," he
added, naming a "bunkie" of whom he and the five Brothers were very
fond. "I might just as well have received that bullet."
"Yes. It's a queer world," mused Bob. "If it hadn't been that Franz
went out against orders and got information, we might all be dead
And this was true.
Once more silence settled down over the trenches, but it was now
almost morning, and with the breaking of dawn the rain that had been a
drizzle all night settled into a steady downpour.
"Not much fighting to-day," decided Roger, when the four Brothers were
at breakfast together--and a cold breakfast at that, for there was no
fuel to heat the coffee, though word went around that the traveling
kitchens were on their way toward the trenches.
Roger was right. Each side consolidated its positions, and each seemed
waiting for what the other might do. This state of affairs continued
for three days, during which the rain lasted. Save for an occasional
artillery duel at night, precipitated often by some nervous sentry
firing his rifle, there was no actual battle.
At the first chance, when he was off duty, Jimmy secured permission to
go back to their former headquarters.
"I want to find out about Iggy if I can," he said, "and also make
inquiries about Sergeant Maxwell and that money I owe you fellows."
"You don't owe it to us!" declared Roger.
"I sure do!" was the answer. "Just as much as if I'd borrowed it from
you!" declared Jimmy. "And I'm going to pay up, too!"
He returned from his little trip much sooner than his comrades had
expected. There was a joyous light in his face as he greeted them, and
"Good news, fellows! Good news!"
UNDER FIERCE FIRE
There were so many sorts of good news possible for Jimmy to have
brought back from the former headquarters at the rear that, for a
moment, his three chums did not know what question to put next.
The war might be over, though until the Germans were worse whipped
than they then were there would be poor satisfaction in that,
It was Bob, however, who blurted out:
"Is Iggy all right?"
"You said it!" cried Jimmy, dancing around "like a venerable ostrich,"
as Bob said afterward. "He isn't all right, exactly, for he's pretty
badly mussed up. But he's not going West, and if that isn't good news
I don't know what is!"
"That's the best news you've given us since you said the soup kitchens
were on their way the day after the big fight," declared Schnitz. "How
much is he hurt?"
"Well, really not any at all, except for some bad bruises, and he
says they'll be better in a day or so. No internal injuries that the
doctors can find, and outside of the bruises and scratches--and he has
them in plenty--he's as good as any of us."
"But how in the world did it happen?" asked Bob. "Didn't you see him
with his head all caved in and his spine broken?"
"Well, I thought I did," admitted Jimmy. "But the fact is that the
blood on his face, as I guess I told you before, came from a man who
was killed by a shell, right in front of Iggy. And that numb feeling
of his legs was because they were both 'asleep'. You know, when you
lie too long on your arm, or keep your leg in a cramped position. He
got all over that after he'd been in bed a few hours.
"You see the stuff that caved in on him, after the shell exploded,
formed a sort of arch over his head, and took the weight off his face.
He'd have been dead except for that. But he's practically all right,
and will be back with us soon. He's crazy to see you fellows. I
thought he'd kiss me, the way some of the Frenchies do when they get
"Well, we'll go to see him as soon as we get leave," decided Bob.
"Don't think I'm asking this because of the money involved," said
Schnitz, a little later, "though we all agree that it's fine and
generous of you to have offered to whack up. But did you hear anything
of Sergeant Maxwell?"
"Not a word," declared Jimmy, "nor the missing five thousand francs,
either. Both have mysteriously disappeared."
"What's the official report on the serg.?" asked Roger.
"Just missing--that's all," said Jimmy, simply. "I made inquiries
about him as soon as I had located Iggy in a hospital. Sergeant
Maxwell is down as missing. Of course, there's no report about my
money. In fact, we five, and the serg. himself, are the only ones who
know about it."
"Missing," mused Bob. "Does it say without official leave, or anything
"No, it doesn't," went on the owner of the five thousand francs. "He
isn't classed as a deserter--yet."
"Do you think he will be?" Franz wanted to know, impressed by
something in Jimmy's voice.
The latter did not reply for a moment. And then he felt that he must
not only be generous but just. So he said:
"No, I don't! Sergeant Maxwell has proved himself too many times to be
as straight as a die, to go wrong now. I don't really believe he went
away purposely with my money. He may be wounded, and have wandered
into the German lines. If he did, with that cash on him--good-night
little old five thousand francs!" and Jimmy pretended to kiss them
adieu. "And, fellows, we mustn't forget that he may be lying dead in
some rain-filled shell hole," he went on softly. "We'll just suspend
judgment, that's all. Forget the bad news about Maxwell and remember
the good news about Iggy. And we'll all go to see Ig as soon as we
"You said it!" declared Bob. "I won't forget how it seemed like a bit
of home and heaven to me, Jimmy, when you came to the hospital where
I was. We sure will go cheer up Iggy!"
"He wants to write to his mother the worst way," went on Jimmy. "And
he insists on writing in English. You know how his letters read, but
he simply won't stick to Polish which he can handle all right. It's
got to be English or nothing."
"Did he write?" asked Roger.
"Not while I was there. His wrist is still too sore. But he made me
promise to bring paper, a pen, and everything, when I came again,
and, if he can't write, one of us is to do it for him--but in English,
"Well do it!" declared Bob.
It was three days later when they all received permission to go to the
rear and call on Iggy who was still in the hospital, though likely to
be discharged as cured inside of a week. There was still a lull in the
fighting about the sector where our five Brothers, or, rather, four,
were stationed. But there was an indefinite something in the air that
told of fierce battles to come. The Huns had too much at stake to wait
"Ach! So glad it is I am to see you!" voiced Iggy, when the four
were admitted to him. "Dit you paper and pen pring!" he asked Jimmy,
eagerly. "I myself can write to mother now. See, shmine wrist she is
all so K.O. now."
"K.O.?" cried Roger. "What's the commanding officer got to do with
your wrist, Iggy?" For, of course, you know that the commanding
officer in an army is designated as "K.O."
"He means O.K." declared Jimmy. "Got his letters twisted; that's all.
He means his wrist is all right."
"His wrist is all right and his letter will be all write," punned
"That will be about all from you!" commented Bob, sternly.
"Yes, Iggy, I've got all the makings for a first-class screed," went
on Jimmy with a smile. "Do you want to write yourself, or shall I?"
"Myself will I do it," said Iggy, simply. And when, after considerable
labor, mental and physical, he handed the scribbled paper to Jimmy,
he said: "Read her and see much how better as I do him in English now.
Read him," and he indicated the letter he had written to his mother.
And, to please him, and because there was nothing very personal in the
epistle, Jimmy read it. His chums, at Iggy's request, read it also.
And this is what Iggy's four Brothers saw:
"Deer Mother. In bed am i and a pritty lady she bring to me all i can
eats good, i was not shooted like is some of thee soljiers, but on me
fell rocks and stoanes so i was moastly mushed but Roger and jimmee
thay gat me oaut. i tell you of loav for yon i have mauch. soon i go
fightting agen wich is batter than in hoarse-pottle bein. i got bumps
an kuts but noat mooch alse. jimee he is to give me soam moaney what
he gat for killing a bad germans and wen i gats my share to you i it
sand will yet. good-bye deer Mother from your loafing soan Iggy."
"That's a dandy letter!" declared Jimmy when he had finished reading
it. "I'll get it right off for you, Iggy."
"Better writing I am doing yes, is it not?" anxiously inquired the
"You bet!" declared Bob, and his eyes, as well as those of his chums,
were moist, for there was a pathetic note in the missive, in spite of
"He knew enough to use a capital now and then, which is more than he
did at Camp Sterling," declared Bob, when they had left the hospital,
to go back to their stations.
"You didn't tell him that his share of the five thousand francs, as
well as yours and ours, was missing; did you?" inquired Franz.
"What was the use?" asked Jimmy. "Poor Iggy has troubles enough as it
is. But he'll get his share all right to send home."
"Just like Jimmy Blazes," declared Roger to Bob, afterward.
It was three or four days after this that Iggy was able to leave the
hospital, and take his place with his chums.
"The five Brothers are together again!" cried Jimmy, when the reunion
took place. "Now let the Huns tremble!"
"By golly yes!" declared the Polish lad. "I fight can now like three
soldiers, so much did they give me eats in the hoarspottle. A fine
place she is--tha hoarspottle.
"But the longer we can keep out of such places as hospitals the
better," remarked Jimmy. "Now then, Iggy, what is it you want most?"
"Well, Blazes, if you excuse me--but you did say you would the reward
moany crack among us. No, it was not crack; he was a word--"
"Split!" suggested Bob.
"Yas. Him it was. You say you split him--that moany, Jimmy, and if I
could to my mothar send what you say you give me--maybe she of need
have for him now."
Jimmy looked queerly at his chums. Truth to tell he had scarcely
any cash at present, and to give Iggy his share of the five thousand
francs--about two hundred dollars--was out of the question.
Bob took the financial bull by the horns.
"Look here, Iggy," he said. "Jimmy has played hard luck. He had that
"Doan't tell me he is loss!" cried Iggy. "Oh, doan't tell me he is
loss! I so much think of that two hundred dollars--mine fader or mine
mothar never so much have at once see in all their lives. Two hundred
dollar--Oh if he is loss--"
"It's only lost for a while--temporarily," said Jimmy. "I wasn't going
to tell you, but Bob spilled the beans, I left the cash with Sergeant
Maxwell to keep for me, and the sergeant is missing with the dough.
But as soon as I get my money from home you'll get your share--the two
hundred bucks, Iggy, and so will the others."
"Nonsense! Forget it!" cried Roger. "Do you think--"
But he had a chance for no more, for at that moment came the signal
that the Huns had launched a gas attack. Instantly the five Brothers,
and all up and down the line the other Americans, donned their gas
masks. This was but the preliminary to what turned out to be some
of the fiercest fighting of that particular series of battles. The
Germans followed up the gas attack with a fierce deluge of shells and
shrapnel, and half an hour later our heroes were under heavy fire.
"It's an attack in force!" cried a lieutenant as he hurried along the
trench where the Khaki Boys were stationed. "And the word is, stand
where you are! Don't give back an inch!"
His words were drowned in the roar of big guns.
THE OLD MILL
Silently the five Brothers, again united and ready to fight to the
death, gazed at one another as they lined up in the trench. That is
they were silent as regards conversation, for they could not talk
with their gas masks on, and the warning given by the lieutenant--the
warning and the admonition to stand fast--had been the last words he
uttered before he, too, donned the protecting device. And no sooner
had the five Brothers and those about them begun to breathe through
the chemicals that destroyed the terrible chlorine, than over it came
rolling in a deadly, yellowish cloud.
And yet it was far from silent in that hideous storm, for the very
ground shook and trembled with the intensity of the gun-fire--the
gun-fire not only of the Germans but the Allies as well.
It was an attack in force, and the fire was of the fiercest. Protected
somewhat by the trench, in which they were, nevertheless the members
of the company to which our heroes belonged sustained several
At one place a high explosive shell struck on the very edge of the
trench, caving it in, and burying beneath tons of earth and stone the
unfortunate Sammies stationed there. And the worst of it was that no
adequate revenge could be taken just then--at least no revenge that
was visible to the enraged comrades of the killed and wounded.
For the orders were to stay in the trenches and repel the attack at
first. Later the counter-attack on the part of the Americans would
take place, and then it might be that the Huns would be made to pay
dearly for their work.
Jimmy looked through the grotesque goggles of his gas mask at his
chums. If appearances went for anything they were on the alert and
ready to jump over the top at the signal and fight to the death. But
the word was delayed, for what, doubtless, were good military reasons.
There was little that could be accomplished in firing one's rifle over
the top of the trench. This was all right in the case of sniping, but
for a general attack the work had to be done by the artillery, big and
little. Later would come the rush in the open, or the standing fast
to repel the attack of the gray hordes. And then the rifle fire of the
infantry would tell.
It was hard waiting--to be stuck down in what was, literally, a "mud
hole," and stay there while, over one's head, shrilled and screamed
the big shells, that must create untold havoc, damage and death in the
Fortunately, however, as was learned later, the Germans did not have
the range accurately. They wasted much of their fire on unoccupied
ground in the immediate rear of the American position, and it was only
an occasional shell that landed near the trenches. So the position of
our heroes was not as bad as at first they imagined.
But it seemed bad enough, and the firing from the Hun positions was
intense, and as long as Jimmy, Bob and the others did not know that
the Boches did not have them under accurate fire, they suffered nearly
as much mentally, as though the knowledge had been positive.
For an hour or two the terrific artillery duel kept up, the Germans
hoping to blast away all trenches, barbed wire entanglements and sweep
away any opposing forces so that the ground wrested away might be
gained back. And during this time the forces of the defenders of
liberty were, in the main, inactive. There was little to be gained in
rushing the enemy just yet. That time would come later.
And so under a deluge of high explosives, of shrapnel, of trench bombs
and the deadly gas the five Khaki Boys and their comrades in arms
suffered--physically and mentally. For a gas mask is both physical
and mental torture. It is safe, and that is about the best that can
be said for it. Merely to sit quietly with one on is a torture, and to
work or fight in one is about the limit of human endurance.
Still the orders were to keep them on, and they were kept. But more
than once Roger, Franz or Iggy would look around as though for a sight
of some one in authority who would tell them to remove the hideous
But the Huns still kept sending over the poisonous gas from shells and
from the big cylinders of it they had brought up to the front lines.
And the wind was in their favor, blowing straight toward the American
lines, so that the deadly yellow fumes came over in rolling clouds.
And then, somehow, word came back to the officers in charge of the
big American guns that their shells were having an effect on the Hun
artillery. Piece after piece of the Boche batteries were silenced,
and at last the Sammies began to obtain mastery of the artillery
And then it was that a barrage could be laid down, and an advance
attack made. But it had to be made under somewhat adverse conditions,
for gas masks must be worn. And to leap from the trench, and stumble
over No Man's Land, under heavy fire, and discharge one's own rifle,
all the while wearing one of the canvas and rubber contraptions, was
not real fighting--at least so Jimmy said afterward.
But such it had to be, and at the signal the five Brothers leaped up
with their comrades and went over the top again--over the top of the
trenches that had either been dug when the new position was taken and
held, or over the top of some of the trenches wrested previously from
There was no shouting and yelling, such as often and ordinarily
preceded an attack over the top. One can not shout in a gas mask. But
there was shouting in the hearts of the Sammies as they rushed forward
to do their share in destroying the beast from the earth.
Upward and onward they rushed and then they were in the midst of the
battle. And yet not exactly in the midst, for the actual conflict was
rather of longer distance than that. Hand-to-hand fighting had not yet
occurred. But they advanced, firing as they rushed on, not in close
formation, for that offered too good a target, but separated. They
would fire, rush on, drop to earth, rise again, fire and rush on. And
so it went.
And then, after an hour or two, there came a sudden shift in the
wind. It was presaged by a calm, so that the deadly chlorine gas rose
straight up instead of being blown over the American lines. And then,
with a suddenness that must have been disconcerting to the Huns, the
gas was blown back in their very faces.
Without doubt such fiends as devised that form of fighting were, in
a way, prepared for this, and had their gas masks ready. There were
times, in the early stages of the gas war, when often whole companies
of Germans would be wiped out by a sudden change in the wind, when gas
was being sent over. But the Boches learned from experience.
However, whether or not the return of their own gas worked any havoc
among the Germans it did one good thing; it enabled Jimmy and his
chums, as well as their comrades, to remove their own oppressive
head-coverings, after a certain time had elapsed.
Once they took them off, they sniffed cautiously of the air. There
was none of the choking taint of the chlorine--a gas which seems
to dissolve the lung tissues--the air was sweet and pure--that is,
comparatively so, though it was odorous with powder fumes. But these
were a perfume compared to chlorine.
"Oh, this is better!" cried Jimmy, as he breathed deep and filled his
lungs naturally, for though there is everything to be said in favor
of the gas mask when an attack is on, one can not breathe naturally in
"I should say so!" agreed Bob.
"Well, where do we go from here?" chanted Roger.
Their particular fighting contingent had been halted in a grain field.
All about them, that is up and down such a line as had been formed,
the fighting was going on.
And on either side of them, and in front and behind, there was
the rumble and roar and thunder of heavy guns. In the ranks of the
comrades of the five Brothers there were bloody gaps. They had won
their way thus far at no small sacrifice of life and limb. But, so
far, our friends had escaped scatheless, though they all bore wounds,
as you know.
It was a pleasant, sunny day--that is, it would have been pleasant had
it not been for the war. That spoiled the pleasantness, but nothing
could stop the sunshine. To the great orb that had seen the earth
formed, this fighting, momentous as it was destined to be, was only an
incident in the rolling on of the ages of time.
"Wonder why we're being held up?" ventured Franz. "I haven't had half
enough of fighting yet."
"Nor of me, neither," declared Iggy, who seemed to have recovered all
his spunk and spirit. "It is of a betterness to shoot lots when of a
gas mast you are delivered, yes?"
"Right, old top!" shouted Jimmy. "Hello!" he went on, as he saw the
major of the battalion approaching. "I guess here's where we get
And they got them--orders to advance. And this time they went forward
with yells, for it was said that the gas attack was over--the kindly
wind had done its work well.
"There they are! There are the Huns!" cried Roger.
His chums looked, and saw dimly through the smoke, a gray line, like
some great worm, that would oppose their progress.
"Come on! Come on! Eat 'em up!" shouted Jimmy.
The others needed no urging. At the Huns they went--firing and being
For a time it was a battle of rifles--the artillery and machine-guns
seemed to have been silenced temporarily. On rushed the Sammies, in
their own peculiar but comparatively safe, open formation. Rushing,
dropping, firing, up again, now down, but ever going onward, led by
The Huns received the fire, and that it was deadly was evidenced by
the gaps torn in the gray ranks. Then they would close up, fire as
though by platoons, and come on slowly.
Suddenly the comparative slowness of the rifle fire was broken by the
staccato explosions of a machine-gun. It opened on the left of the
position taken up by Jimmy and his chums, and in an instant had mowed
down several doughboys.
"Take what cover you can!" shouted a lieutenant. "Where's that gun?
Did any one notice?" "Over in that red mill!" some one shouted.
Afterward it developed that this was Franz, who was an expert shot and
quick in judgment.
Dropping flat in the low-growing grain, many eyes of the Sammies
turned in the direction of the red mill. It was a French one, of
picturesque construction. And as Jimmy and his chums looked they saw
a little wisp of smoke come from one of the windows. Then came another
staccato discharge, but this time with less deadly effect.
"We've got to get that gun!" cried the lieutenant. "Volunteers wanted
to rush the red mill! Who'll come with me?"