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Title: The Boy Volunteers with the British Artillery

Author: Kenneth Ward

Release date: December 14, 2017 [eBook #56179]

Language: English

Credits: Produced by David Edwards, Larry B. Harrison, and the
Online Distributed Proofreading Team at
(Images courtesy of the Digital Library@Villanova University




12mo. Cloth. Fully Illustrated  50c per Volume

The Newest Boys' Books on the European War, Relating the Adventures of Two American Boys and Their Experiences in Battle and on Air Scout Duty. All Profusely Illustrated with Authentic Drawings.

The Boy Volunteers on the Belgian Front

Describes the adventures of two American boys who were in Europe when the great war commenced. Their enlistment with Belgian troops and their remarkable experiences are based upon actual occurrences and the book is replete with line drawings of fighting machines, air planes and maps of places where the most important battles took place and of other matters of interest.

The Boy Volunteers with the French Airmen

This book relates the further adventures of the young Americans in France, where they viewed the fighting from above the firing lines. From this book the reader gains considerable knowledge of the different types of air planes and battle planes used by the warring nations, as all descriptions are illustrated with unusually clear line drawings.

The Boy Volunteers with the British Artillery

How many boys today know anything about the great guns now being used on so many European battle fronts? Our young friends had the rare opportunity of witnessing, at first hand, a number of these terrific duels, and the story which is most fascinatingly told is illustrated with numerous drawings of the British, French and German field pieces.

The Boy Volunteers with the Submarine Fleet

Our young heroes little expected to be favored with so rare an experience as a trip under the sea in one of the great submarines. In this book the author accurately describes the submarine in action, and the many interesting features of this remarkable fighting craft are made clear to the reader by a series of splendid line drawings.


"At them, boys!" shrieked the Corporal.


The Boy Volunteers
with the
British Artillery



Copyright, 1917, by


I. The Decision 13
II. The Fight in Devil's Cut 24
III. The 75-Millimetre Guns 32
IV. A Lesson in Observation 42
V. The Curtain of Fire 50
VI. A Shelled Battlefield 60
VII. A Lively Camp Behind the Lines 70
VIII. The Spies in the Camp 82
IX. The Laws Against Spies 93
X. A Difficult Trip to the Main Trenches 104
XI. Discovering a German Range-Finder 116
XII. Finding the Enemy's Battery 128
XIII. The Mysterious Figures on the Range-Finder 140
XIV. Caught in a Terrific Drive 152


"At them, boys!" shrieked the Corporal Frontispiece
Method of Signaling from Airplanes 53
Peculiarities of Trajectories 56
Peculiarities of Trajectories 57
The Deadly Shrapnel Shell 68
The Spy's Account Book 91
Pontooning Heavy Guns Across a Stream 101
A German Range-Finder 118
Arrangement of Guns on Hill 203 138




"It seemed to me as though I should never have the courage to go back to the airplane service since Lieutenant Guyon was killed," remarked Ralph, as he and Alfred were convalescing in the American Hospital, in Paris.

"That is the way I feel about it, too," replied Alfred. "To think that he should have escaped the terrific shower of bullets, while we were coming down, to be killed by having the machine hit the ground, the way it did, makes me feel so sad that I sometimes wonder whether it is really so."

"I suppose the only thing we can do now is to go home; and, still, that doesn't seem to be the right thing, just now," replied Ralph.

"No; I am not in favor of that; suppose we go to England,—anywhere, or anything except that14 which will remind us of poor Guyon," answered Alfred, as he sat in the huge chair and slowly nodded his head.

* * * * *

At the outbreak of the war Alfred and Ralph were on the way from southern Germany to Antwerp in an auto, accompanied by a Belgian chauffeur, where they were pursued by the Germans near the frontier. They escaped for a time, but were afterwards arrested by the Germans and finally liberated. On their way to Antwerp they took part with the Belgians in resisting the advances of the foe. Reaching Antwerp, they escaped with the Belgian army, at the time the city was besieged, and after some adventures, crossed the northern part of Belgium and reached Dunkirk on the Channel.

From that point, in the endeavor to reach Paris, they had some stirring exploits, which tested their metal on many occasions.

From the time they left Belgian territory it had been their wish to join the aviation corps, and this wish was gratified after they had left Paris and made their way to the eastern part of France. The corps to which they belonged was stationed at Verdun, the most vigorous outpost of the fighting line.

There they were constantly engaged during a full year of most intrepid warfare. They owed their success in joining the corps as actual combatants to a peculiar incident. Before reaching the Verdun camp they had met Lieutenant Guyon,15 attached to the station at Bar-le-Duc, and with him they made numerous flights, especially in the work of testing machines. On one occasion the lieutenant, who was the victim of a weak heart, was attacked with the disease while aloft, and the boys piloted the machine to earth in safety, notwithstanding the excitement caused by the sudden pitching of the machine. It was sufficient to show that the boys were made of the right stuff, and the officer appreciated their bravery.

Thereafter, the boys were his constant companions, flying with him on many occasions and engaging with him in some of the most brilliant encounters in the air with German aviators. The time came, however, when, after fighting three of the swiftest and most notable German aeroplanes, both of the boys were wounded. In the effort of the lieutenant to bring the badly crippled machine to earth, it was impossible to prevent the catastrophe which followed. The lieutenant and one of the boys were thrown from the machine, and the officer died from the effect of internal injuries within a week.

The wounds of the boys were severe, and they were held at the base hospital for weeks before their condition was such as to permit them to be sent to the Paris Hospital. At the time of the foregoing conversation they had been convalescing for a month. The death of their friend was a terrible blow to them, so severe that, as indicated by their conversation, they did not feel like participating in any more airship work.


"I suppose we shall always have a feeling that there is nothing like flying," said Ralph, as he mused over their experiences that evening.

"It is all right, and I hope to do a great deal of flying after the war is over, but I suppose we might as well make up our minds to give it up for good at this time," replied Alfred.

It was really a relief that the final decision had come, for the feeling of reverence was so strong for their dead friend that it seemed as though something would be wrong to go up in an airship without him.

"When shall we start?" said Ralph the next morning.

"As soon as they give us the discharge," replied Alfred. "You know no one is permitted to leave the hospital until the doctor gives his certificate."

A week thereafter they were informed by the nurse that the doctor had prepared a certificate to the effect that both were able to leave. In one way this was very gratifying, but they could not forget the tender care which had been bestowed on them from the moment they became patients there.

The certificates were finally handed to them, and, going to their rooms, they sadly packed up the few things which had accumulated. As they passed out and marched down between the rows of cots, with the packages on their backs, every patient greeted them. The history of the boys had reached every one long before this time, so they were not permitted to go without the usual wishes.

"Sorry to see you go, but glad you are good as17 ever!" "Give them fits this time;" "Send the Boches my compliments," said another. "Where are you bound for this time?" cried a voice, from across the room. Every remark, in fact, indicating that they were expected to return to the fighting line.

The emotions awakened by the greetings and the good wishes were too deep to dispel the idea. They could not, in the presence of the enthusiastic men all about them, say that they had enough of the fighting game, as every one called it. It made them feel as though something was wrong, and as they neared the door they almost made a bound for it.

As they walked down the steps, Ralph looked at Alfred with a peculiar expression on his face. Alfred turned away, but suddenly wheeled around.

"Well, are we going back?" he asked with startling suddenness.

"I felt awfully sheepish; didn't you?" asked Ralph.

"No; I felt like a coward. Now when I think of it I don't remember of a single fellow who left the hospital since we have been here who ever suggested that he wasn't going back," replied Alfred.

"That's a fact; well, I'm going back, but not, in the airship service," said Ralph. "No; I couldn't do that; anything but flying."

"Hello!" cried a voice behind them. "Out for good, are you? Well, sorry to lose you; we have a very polite way of bidding our patients good-bye,18 and I suppose I shall have to spring it on you."

"What is that?" asked Ralph.

"Hope you won't come back again," replied the doctor, with a laugh.

The boys were really unprepared for mirth just at this time, but they managed to assure the doctor that his wishes were reciprocated.

"Which way now?" continued the doctor.

"We don't know," replied Alfred. "We are debating what to do."

"You see," interrupted Ralph, "since Lieutenant Guyon's death we are all broken up, and we have been debating whether or not we can go back into the service."

"Go back?" queried the doctor. "You don't have to go back; you are still in the service. Were you discharged by any one?" he asked, glancing at them keenly.

"Why, no; we never thought of that," said Alfred, looking at Ralph.

"We were just talking about going to England," explained Ralph.

"If you did you would be deserters," replied the doctor with a smile.

"Well, I thought it was singular that when they gave us the certificates they should give us these slips," said Alfred, pulling out the document.

"Of course, you are still in the service, and that is merely an order for the last month's pay."

"I know that, but they didn't say anything about keeping on," said Ralph.


"They don't have to. You are in and the only way to get out is to be invalided, or to get a discharge in a regular way, and then you are free. Of course, we know how you feel about the death of your friend, and no one blames you for your aversion to re-entering the aviation service; but if you really want to get out, the matter can be easily arranged by applying to the American Ambassador, on the ground that you are Americans, and are minors," said the doctor.

The boys looked at each other in silence, and finally Ralph spoke: "I think it would be well to do that; would you mind taking the steps for us?"

"I certainly shall be glad to do so; you have earned an honorable discharge, if any one has," said the doctor.

It thus turned out that three days after leaving the hospital, they received a document at their hotel from the American Embassy. On opening it they found two documents, reciting that Alfred Elton and Ralph Cottrell, native Americans, in the aviation service, were entitled to honorable discharges.

Somehow the news was not enthusiastically received. They glanced at each other for a few moments in silence.

"Does that suit you?" asked Ralph.

"Not in the least," said Alfred with a mournful shake of the head. "I don't think the doctor had any business to get us out of the service."

"But we told him that is what we wanted."


They walked down the rue Rivoli, passed through the place de la Concorde, and reached the Champs Elysees in a half daze. Soldiers were moving hither and thither, vehicles of every description, Red Cross vans, and even cavalry squads were in the procession, but none of them seemed to attract their attention, so completely were they absorbed in the last episode of their lives, and, besides, they had seen so many of the trappings of war that a few more or less did not seem to cause much of a ripple.

But as they slowly moved along the street they stopped, as by a common impulse, to witness a procession of machine guns mounted on smart little autos, followed by two full batteries of field guns. The artillery pieces were mounted on specially made auto trucks, and trailing behind each truck was the caisson.

"Now, that looks like business," said Ralph. "It would have taken from eight to twelve horses to pull the gun and ammunition around. Gee! how soon those fellows could get into action and pull out when the command is given!"

"That would suit me about as well as the flyers, but I suppose we haven't an earthly chance to get in on that," said Alfred ruefully.

"Why not? We can get there if we try hard enough," responded Ralph.

Alfred, with his eyes intent on the fine display before him, did not respond. The discharge, honorable though it was, made a sore spot in the heart of each.


The following morning they awoke earlier than usual. The usual topic was again taken up and discussed.

"Suppose we take a trip to the Artillerie Ecole?" remarked Alfred.

"Where is it?" asked Ralph.

"I don't know, myself, but it is across the river, somewhere. It was founded by the first Napoleon; it was always his hobby," said Alfred.

"Yes, I know. It was he who said that God was always on the side that had the heaviest artillery," responded Ralph.

"I don't think he would say so if he lived in the present time," answered Alfred.

"Why not?" asked Ralph.

"Why, he would have said 'With the most airplanes,'" suggested Alfred.

Ralph laughed at the new idea. "Well, you may be right. I think that if the Allies would put more money and energy into flying machines and less in big guns, there would be more likelihood of success; but I don't suppose we ought to know it all," said Ralph with a sarcastic grin.

When they arrived at the artillery school they were still garbed in the uniforms indicating the service in which they had been engaged. A kindly professor, in the uniform of a colonel, received them with smiles, and he questioned them about their work, and to him they confided their wishes.

"You have been granted honorable discharges, and it would not be prudent for me to make any recommendations, however meritorious your services22 might have been," he remarked. After some reflection he continued:

"If you are really bent on going back and entering the artillery branch, it would be well to apply to the English officials. They are preparing a tremendous organization in that direction."

"Thank you," said Ralph. "We shall, probably, act upon your suggestion."

Returning to the hotel the question was again considered, and the decision formed to depart for the British sector at once. That afternoon they emerged from the hotel and wended their way to the Gard du Nord, as the great northwest station of Paris is known. There two tickets were purchased for Amiens, a town eighty miles north, by railway, as they considered they would be able, probably, to get into contact with the British forces at that point.

It was late in the morning when the train rolled into the city, and seizing their haversacks, the boys were quickly out of the train and ranged up alongside the military restaurant, awaiting an opportunity to be served. They were informed that a movement of great importance was going on in the sector directly east of that point, as was indicated by the vast number of field pieces, which were constantly being transported by motor and lorry.

It was, really, the beginning of the combined English and French drive in the Somme region, as it is now known. A dapper little French sergeant, who sat between them, volunteered much of the information,23 which they were eager to obtain, as to the localities and disposition of the forces.

"My battery was detrained at Moreil yesterday, and they will come north and cross the canal about eight kilometers east of the city," he remarked, in response to their questionings.

"That is the branch of the service we are anxious to join," said Alfred.

"What? after having had a hand with the flyers?" he asked, as he looked at them quizzically.

"Yes; our best friend was killed, and then the doctor at the hospital was so much interested in us as to get us discharged," responded Ralph.

"But the artillery is a tough place; you've got to rough it and stand an awful lot of pounding. Why, in the Champagne region, where we came from at the time we made the five-mile sweep, we went ahead so fast that the commissary couldn't keep up with us, and we were in the fight at one stretch for more than seventy hours, and with little to eat at that."

That was said not in a boastful way, but merely to impress on them the hard lot of an artilleryman.

"I suppose that is so," remarked Alfred. "But that's what the infantry men say; and the air pilots think they have a particularly tough time of it, and even the Red Cross people are in danger all the time; but that's to be expected."

"Oh, if you're bound to go, there will be plenty to do, but the chances of getting in are pretty slim unless by regular enlistment."



One of the important canals in northern France starts from the English Channel, near Abbeville, and parallels the Somme river, passing through Amiens, extending thence to Peronne, within the German lines. It was an important artery for the transportation of munitions and heavy ordnance directly to the front.

When, two hours after the conversation related in the last chapter, the sergeant hunted around for means of conveyance to the section where his battery was to reach the canal, the boys accompanied him. Accommodations were finally secured on one of the many vans which lined the highway, and before noon the sergeant informed them that, as they were approaching the great highway leading to Corbie, he would have to bid them good-bye, as that was the point designated for the battery to ship on the canal.

The boys debated the question, whether to remain or proceed to the front, and finally decided to continue their journey. But before proceeding two miles further the procession of loaded trucks25 halted, and the work of unloading began. They had reached the last permanent depot near the fighting line, but what to do now was the question. They were no nearer the object of their desires than when they left Paris.

"I wonder why they are loading up that truck?" asked Ralph, as they glanced at several power machines close by. "Those boxes are going to the front, I am sure."

"Want any help!" asked Alfred.

"That's always welcome," said one of the men.

"All right, then," said Alfred, "here goes. Which boxes do you want first?"

They had already learned that there is nothing so welcome in the busy front as willingness to lend a hand. It is the open sesame to friendship and advancement.

"Where are you bound?" asked Ralph, as they marched to and fro.

"Right up to the front. These things must reach the 14th battery before night," was the reply.

Each of these trucks carried two tons of provisions, loads greatly in excess of the weights for which they were built, but that was of no consequence. The fighters must have something to eat, whatever happened. When the last boxes were piled up the boys remained on the truck, and the driver, nodding at them pleasantly, threw in the clutch and speeded out the road to the east.

"How long have you been at this business?" asked Ralph.


"Three months," was the reply.

"How do you like the job?" asked Alfred.

"I like anything that will help the boys at the front," was the reply.

"Is this your regular business?" asked Ralph.

"Well, no, not exactly," he replied. "I didn't have any regular business before the war, but when it came along I went back into the army, and I would be there now if the Boches hadn't permanently lamed me; you see I can't quite get my right leg to straighten out. But it's all right; we saved France at the Marne, and I'd give the other leg to give them another such a licking as they got there."

"Let me relieve you," said Alfred after the second hour.

"Why, yes; an offer like that would be acceptable," he replied, as he rose from his seat.

In all their conversation the man had the aspect of a true gentleman, and he was certainly out of his element, in that menial position. Later the boys learned from the assistant on the truck that Loree was the son of a nobleman, and after having been invalided he insisted on taking his place in the capacity where he might be most useful.

"Why, you would be surprised, just as I am and have been ever since this war began, to find how many of the young men of the noble families of France are doing this kind of work, after they have been rendered unfit for duty in the ranks," said their companion to Ralph, as they were seated on the rear of the van.


"How often do you make these trips?" asked Ralph.

"Twice a day, if we can get across the Devil's Cut without interruption," was the answer.

"What do you mean by the Devil's Cut?" asked Ralph.

"Well, we have a stretch of about two kilometers that's like going through hell fire. The Germans have had the range of that road for a month. When we get through that we are all right, and sometimes they let us pass without shelling; but not often," was the answer.

An hour thereafter the driver moved along and notified Alfred that it would be necessary for him to take the wheel. "Now get on the left side of the truck low down," he said to the boy.

Without asking why, he did so and was surprised to see the assistant and Ralph hanging to a narrow running board at the side.

"What's up?" shouted Alfred.

"We are near the Devil's Cut," said Ralph.

"Well, we are in it now," said the assistant. "Everything seems fairly quiet,——"

"Bang." Something exploded. The boys had heard that sound before. It startled but did not disconcert them.

"What! are we going right into the German lines?" asked Alfred, as he glanced about.

"No," responded Ralph, "but we have a mile or so of close work, and this is the way the Germans have of welcoming us, as well,——"

"Crash,——" came the second shell, followed28 by another, completely drowning the voice of the assistant.

"They mean to get us this time, sure," said he finally. "Some airship gave them the tip, as they usually do. We must now make a run for it, I am sure of that."

The words had hardly left his lips before it seemed as though a dozen shells had burst simultaneously. One of the missiles had struck the load, or some of the flying pieces went through. The truck stopped. The assistant was lying on the ground motionless, and Ralph, although unhurt, was beneath a heavy box, as Alfred picked himself up and looked around.

He drew Ralph out and glanced at the assistant. "Too bad!" said the driver, as he descended from the van, and stooped down to examine his assistant. "That fragment finished him. But we haven't time to wait here. They have our range, and we cannot help him now. Get in quickly; there is another one coming, back there; two more,—oh! but they'll make mince meat of those fellows."

Looking back the boys saw a half-dozen loaded vans, all speeding up, and some of the men waving their hats in frenzy of excitement.

"Hiding doesn't do much good, but stay down at the side as long as you can," he shouted back.

Another explosion, this time most deafening, and so near that it seemed the truck was thrown to one side,—still on went the machine. Then something peculiar happened. The van started across the field toward the German lines.


"Something's wrong!" shouted Ralph. "I wonder what the driver is up to now? We're off the road."

Alfred drew himself up and Ralph saw him disappear toward the front of the van. The latter followed, and, as he gained the top of the load, he noticed Alfred leaning over and grasping the steering wheel. The van swerved around and reached the road, after two of the loaded vehicles passed them. No sooner had they regained the road when they met a hail of shrapnel, this time one of the shells striking full and fair beneath the machine directly ahead.

Alfred had barely time to turn the machine to avoid the wreckage made by the shot. It was not such a time as to enable the men on one machine to aid those who were so unfortunate as to be hit by the missiles. The last series of explosions, unfortunately, struck the driver of the first van to pass them, as well as demolished the second. Ralph saw the driver fall and the machine turn. It described a circle.

Alfred looked back and put on the brake hard. Ralph understood. He leaped from the truck, and rushed across the intervening space, being fortunate enough to seize a stanchion at the side of the wild van as it dashed by. It was but a moment's work to reach the chauffeur's seat. He waved his cap to Alfred, whose car was now again on the main road. They had now gone more than half the distance across the Cut, and, looking back, Ralph saw four machines intact and following30 them. One was completely demolished and the load scattered; and another, evidently, had the motive power out of commission.

But they were not yet out of the danger zone. Alfred was now in the lead, and he had no idea where to go or what roads to take, as they approached several divergent roads. With shrapnel flying all about, he halted and as Ralph came up he drove alongside.

"What is the matter?" asked Ralph.

"Nothing," answered Alfred. "Wait until the other fellows come up. Some one must take the lead."

The third machine drew alongside.

"Go on," said Ralph. "We don't know the way."

"Nor do I," replied the driver.

"Has your driver recovered?" asked Ralph.

"No, I am afraid he is done for; he has an awful cut across the head," answered Alfred. "But come on; we can't wait to get information here."

Another machine appeared as the vans driven by Alfred and Ralph were getting under way.

"This way! this way!" shouted a voice on the fourth machine. "Down to the left; and don't waste a minute if you don't want to be blown from the face of the earth."

A cavalryman sped past, waving his carbine, and rounded up Alfred. "Go back quickly; turn to the left."

Ralph was caught in time; they rounded the crest of a little hill, and then, for the first time,31 the rear batteries came into view, and a mile beyond, rows of sheds appeared in sight.

"That is your place," shouted the man on horseback. "Follow the row of trees to the right, but don't cross the bridge."

The throttle was thrown on full speed, and, although the roads were fearfully cut up, and great holes appeared at every turn, which had to be avoided, they never stopped the maddening race until the first guard line was reached.

As they turned into the compound where a division was quartered, a speedy motor car dashed out, and, halting before Alfred's car, signaled for him to stop.

"Did you all get through?" shouted an officer.

"We left two behind," said Alfred.

The officer sat down, gave a quick order, and speeded away to go back into that scorching streak of road called the Devil's Cut, to rescue those who had fallen. This was a mere incident repeated day by day, until two batteries of 75-millimeter guns were placed in position, a week thereafter, when that section of the road was made as safe as any in France.



The Director of the Commissary Department, with his staff, was on hand to inspect the six van loads, which drove into the space between the store sheds. He stopped in front of the van occupied by Ralph. The latter stood up and saluted.

"We had a hot time of it," said Ralph.

Without replying for a moment the officer quickly glanced at Alfred in the following car, in astonishment.

"How does it happen that you are in charge of these vans?" he asked.

"We were aboard on the trip, and when the drivers were hit we took their places," said Alfred.

"Did you know what chances you were taking?" he asked.

"Well, no," replied Ralph, "but that didn't make any difference. We are used to taking chances."

"You deserve great credit for the work. Orderly, take the names of these young men, and assign them quarters. Be at my office in an hour," he said.


"Thank you; we will be there," said Alfred. "Where shall we take these vans?"

"The officer in charge of transportation will direct you," was the reply.

After the loads had been disposed of and they were walking toward the commandant's quarters, Ralph said: "We seem to get into the service by the back-door route right along."

"Why, do you think they will give us a job running those vans?" asked Alfred.

"Possibly so; but I don't want any of it in mine. I'd like to join the artillery and smash the life out of those fellows who are shelling Devil's Cut," replied Ralph.

At the appointed time the boys entered the commandant's office. The drivers of the different vans were present, and all greeted the two boys with considerable show of appreciation.

"How did it happen that you were on the goods vans?" asked the officer.

"We were trying to get to the front, so we took the opportunity to help them load up, and just came along after we got through," said Alfred.

"Where did you get your uniforms?" he asked.

"We wore these while we were in the service," replied Ralph, and, as the latter said this, he drew out the discharge paper, and Alfred took pleasure in doing likewise.

The officer glanced at the papers, nodded his head approvingly, and said: "Those credentials are certainly creditable to you. We admire Americans, and assure you we have the utmost respect34 for the American boy. Do you wish to enter the service? We can use brave fellows like yourselves."

"We are trying to join the artillery," said Ralph, "but we haven't succeeded so far in getting a position."

"I am sorry I cannot be of any service to you in that direction," responded the officer, "but I can commend you to the commanding general, in submitting my report."

On leaving the building they passed a group of men, who, evidently, were discussing the incidents of the afternoon, for, as they approached, some of the men saluted them, and one of them held up his hand to stop them.

"I am requested to say that Count Le Clery wishes to see you," he said.

They looked at him in a bewildered way. "Count Le Clery, who is he?" asked Alfred.

"You will find him in the hospital, ward 8," was the reply.

"Does he want to see us now?" asked Ralph.

"Yes; he is able to see you now," was the answer.

Entering the hospital they were directed to a row of cots, patient C, 28. Before them was a man with a bandaged head, and an arm stretched across the bed, held straight with a splint.

"I don't suppose you recognize me?" said the man.

Alfred looked closer and slowly shook his head.

"I am told that you and your friend piloted my35 car and another through that storm in Devil's Cut," he said.

"Oh, I know you now," said Ralph. "Well, we couldn't do anything else, could we?"

"Well, I want to thank you, and tell you that you have made a friend who will never forget you. I remember the conversation with you before we had our little accident," he continued, addressing Alfred. "We need young men of your stamp, and I will keep you in mind and act as soon as I am able to move about."

Incidents of this kind are always the subjects of conversation among hospital internes. They seem to crave excitement, and like to talk about exceptional exploits. That the boys were volunteers and Americans at that, lately in the aviation corps, bearing honorable discharges for valuable services rendered, was certainly worthy of comment.

It was with some surprise that they were directed by the orderly to take possession of a tent, and assigned to a mess made up of the clerks of the warehouse. There they found several other young men, and during the two weeks they remained, were general favorites with every one in the government employ.

Late in the evening, hearing an unusual bustle outside, and the tooting of horns, they peered out, and saw a dozen goods vans coming across the compound. On investigation they learned that the last supply vans had not been molested in the least, but the first convoy to reach the field base the next36 morning was literally shot to pieces, two of the chauffeurs having been killed, several of the assistants severely wounded, and three of the vans completely demolished.

The supply station was less than a mile behind the lines, but it was well concealed behind a bluff on the western side of the little stream, and only occasionally would a shell find its way to that section. The precaution was taken by the commanding officer, to keep a score of airplanes above and near the camp and thus prevent the enemy from locating the spot.

During the following day they visited the trenches, not on account of the novelty, but more a matter of curiosity. On returning they crossed the stream and ascended an elevation, designated as Hill 207, where they inspected the battery and conversed with some of the gunners.

"The big Bobs are on the way," said the sergeant, in speaking of the preparations that were going on for the great drive.

"What do you mean by that?" asked Alfred.

"Oh, that's the term we use for the 75's," he replied.

"They are the fellows we must see," said Ralph, as they walked down the hill.

"When did that fellow say the 75's would come up?" asked Alfred the following morning.

"He said they were on the way now," answered Ralph. "Suppose we ask the boys."

Every one had heard of the famous 14th, which had done such terrible execution east of Marmelon.37 It was understood that they were to take up position along the ridge west of Hill 209.

"Let's go over there at once," said Ralph.

It was a long tramp to the top, made doubly tedious and difficult owing to the torn-up condition of the earth. This entire section had been shelled by the French for more than two weeks, and now, in turn, the Germans were bombarding the same region. It would be impossible to give an adequate idea of the nature of the fields over which they traveled. At every convenient spot the light field batteries were stationed, and after numerous inquiries the place selected for the famous battery was located.

Before noon the great field pieces were being transported in a long train through the narrow valley south of the river, while airplanes were circling around continually, a sure indication that something unusual was happening in that particular part of the front.

Below the hill to the west, and entirely out of sight of the German observation posts, was a deep ravine through which an emergency railroad had been operated, and a great tractor was drawing the guns headed for the depression.

"That's where they are going to land those guns," said Ralph in excitement. "Look at the men filing up along the ditch."

"Come on," shouted Alfred.

They rushed down the hill, and impatiently awaited the arrival of the first section. The great tractor paid no attention to the soft earth and38 the shell holes in its path. It rolled along serenely like a thing of life.

"Just in time, boys!" called out a voice from the ammunition van behind the gun.

"It's the sergeant," said Alfred.

"So it is," replied Ralph. "Do you want any help!" he asked, as he rushed over and walked alongside the heavy truck.

"Oh, there'll be plenty to do as soon as we unlimber," replied the sergeant.

"One, two, three, four, five, six. I suppose they'll put them all along this hollow'?"

"What are they bringing that brush for?" asked Ralph. "Look at those trucks filled with trees."

"We're going to plant a grove here," said the sergeant. "That will take some work."

The boys looked at each other. There would be plenty to do. An officer, the commander of the battery, rushed up in a motor car, and, in a business-like manner ordered the spacing of the guns, and the disposition of the racks which held the ammunition. The racks are really pigeon holes in a heavily built frame, each frame holding a hundred of these shells. They are located about ten feet from the gun so as to be within convenient distance for supplying the ordnance after each discharge.

The boys admired the wonderful mechanism, and the sergeant was quick to notice their great interest in the arrangement for rapidly manoeuvering the piece.


"That is the most remarkable weapon that the war has produced," explained the sergeant, as he dismounted. "The Germans have tried to imitate it, but we are always just a little ahead of them, and can fire three shots to every two that they will get out of their best. Wait until tomorrow and you will see some business with the fellows on the other side."

"Good!" said Alfred. "We owe them a thing or two for what they tried to do to us yesterday."

"What's that?" he asked.

"They shelled us all the way through Devil's Cut, but we managed to bring out several of the trucks," said Ralph.

"Why, we heard of that down at the village this morning," said the sergeant. "And you are really the fellows that helped out our men? That was fine! I must tell the captain about it."

He beckoned to the boys. They followed.

After the usual salute, the sergeant, addressing an officer, said: "Do you remember the story we heard at the village this morning about a couple of young fellows who were brave enough to rescue several vans at Devil's Cut yesterday? Here are the boys who did the work."

"I am glad to know you. What! in the aviation service?" he remarked, looking at their uniforms.

"But not now," said Ralph. "We are looking for a chance to help out with the artillery."

The captain looked pleased at this quick introduction of the subject on the part of the boys.40 Then, turning to the sergeant, he said: "The chapparal, officer; they can help out in that direction." Then, turning to the boys, he continued: "I am afraid you will not have a very easy time of it, for those vans will have to be unloaded and the guns concealed before we commence business."

Then the boys understood. They saluted and accompanied by the sergeant, mounted the first vehicle, which had stopped in the rear of one of the guns. Out came the brush and the poles. Meanwhile, the gun in charge of the sergeant was pushed back, while a squad of men began to level the ground in the deep depression.

The gun was wheeled into position, and the wheels underpinned with timbers curiously laid together and tamped, making a solid foundation. Then began the work of concealment, so that those prized pieces of the French artillery would be safe from the prying eyes of the German air fleet.

"Now, boys," said the sergeant, addressing the special squad delegated for the building of the chapparal, "plant several of the heavy poles with the brushy tops on each side of the gun; then stretch wires across and hang the small brush to them. Be sure to distribute them irregularly, so as to make it as natural as possible."

Shovels and picks were now employed feverishly to dig the holes and plant the poles. The wires were strung and the decorations added, not only along and around the location of each gun, but in the spaces between the pieces. The vans came up continually with new burdens of boughs,41 until the boys thought there would be no end to this new species of arbor culture.

"Ralph, do you think we could spot this place at a distance of five thousand feet in a swift Morane?" asked Alfred.

"I should say not," replied Ralph, "but there is one thing I should do if I had anything to say about it."

"And what is that?" asked the captain, who overheard the remark.

"I'd completely cover the breech of the gun and the ammunition case," he answered.

"And why?" asked the captain, with a smile.

"Because the merest glimpse of shiny metal is likely to be noticed when flying. I have seen that many times when flying, and Lieutenant Guyon always told us to watch for it," replied Ralph.

"You are right," answered the captain. "That will be your work. Here, men, follow the instruction of these boys as to the placing of the boughs."

The sergeant showed his pleasure at the order, for he somehow felt himself to be sponsor for the boys. "You've got the old man going," he whispered to the boys.

"Shall I go to the next gun?" inquired Alfred, addressing the captain.

"By all means; orderly, instruct the workers to follow the direction of the young men," said the captain.



The strenuous work was completed before night covered the scene. The flying machines had acted as a screen, and the guns, now in position, were effectually covered from the eyes of a prying foe. As they were about to leave the captain said:

"For the present you may find room in the vans, but tomorrow the regular quarters will be prepared near the guns."

The steaming hot supper, which was brought up in the kitchen vans, was relished as never before. After the meal they sat around and talked over the incidents of the day, and learned each other's histories, for there is a comradeship in the field that obtains nowhere else in any other occupation.

"And so you have been flying?" said the sergeant. "That has always had a fascination for me, but, strange as it may seem, I have never yet been up in the air, although I have had many opportunities. I have often wondered how things look from a height of two kilometers."

"Well, the first time I went up I couldn't distinguish a thing," said Ralph. "I could tell what43 trees were, and could make out rivers, and houses, of course, but outside of that everything else looked like a blurred picture."

"Couldn't you make out people walking, or troops marching, and the like?" asked one of the men.

"No, indeed," said Alfred. "Why, how big do you suppose a man would look at a distance of five thousand feet, when you are directly overhead?"

"I don't know," replied the sergeant, with an inquiring look. "I don't suppose he could be seen at all, unless he happened to be moving."

"Why, at that distance it would be impossible to see the man, moving or not, for he would not appear bigger to the eye than the end of the finest wire," Ralph informed him.

"I remember when we made our first flights at Bar-le-Duc, that the lieutenant asked us to give him our impression as to the sizes of objects we saw and to tell him what they were. When a fellow is flying about the first thing he will notice is a river, if there is one anywhere in the neighborhood, and, of course, I saw a bridge. I couldn't wait until we landed before I marked it down on a piece of paper: 'A bridge; 200 feet long.' I thought I'd get it long enough. We were then flying about 5,000 feet above the earth. I saw the lieutenant smile. At that height the bridge looked about like a lead pencil held ten feet from the eye. Well, when we landed, the lieutenant said: 'It was a bridge, sure enough, but it happens to be seven hundred feet long.'"


"That reminds me," observed Alfred, "that we talked about several other things on that trip, and it will show how poor the judgment is unless the eye is well trained. Do you remember the drill ground east of Fleury? Well, we were asked to put down the number of men we could estimate in each group, and I was particularly anxious to tell the lieutenant how many men were in each of the squares which were formed. Each block of men, as they appeared to me, were about the size of a domino. I felt sure there couldn't be more than 50 men, but the lieutenant said there were at least two hundred."

"But that isn't the worst of it," rejoined Ralph. "We knew they were soldiers, because they were on the drill ground, but if that same number of men had been in the open country, it would have taken an expert to see them. I was fooled in that way not long after the experience I was just telling about, and, although the lieutenant pointed out the marching men, I couldn't spot them until he told me to watch for the glint of steel that would occasionally flash out. Then I understood."

"I have heard it said that if every moving object, it mattered not how big it might be, were painted the same color as the earth and other surrounding objects, aviators would not be able to discover them; is that really so?" inquired the sergeant.

"Yes," answered Ralph. "I think it's pretty near the truth. Sometimes even the upturned face of a man will attract attention, although the face45 makes a mighty small speck, but I believe that fellows who think they can see a man's face at a distance of 5,000 feet, either use a field glass, or the man below happened to be wearing eye glasses, for they make fine reflectors for the airmen."

"But those who are flying get birds' eyes, after a time," said Alfred.

"What is that?" asked the captain, who appeared at the door. "Do you think a man's eyesight grows keener by flying, after he is at it for a time?"

"It seems so to me," answered Ralph.

The captain shook his head. "I think that is a misapprehension. The eyesight does not become sharper or more acute."

"Then how is it that I can now see things that I could not notice when we first began to fly?" asked Alfred.

"Observation! observation, my boy! You can't see one whit better today than you could the first time you went aloft," said the captain. "The eye is a very deceptive thing,—you laugh at the statement,—well, I'm going to prove it. In everything you see the judgment is not formed by what the eye tells you, but by your knowledge, your habit of observation and application growing out of previous experiences."

"Pardon me, Captain. Do you mean to say that the eye doesn't correctly tell you distance or size or what the object really is?" asked Alfred.

"That's exactly what I mean," replied the captain.


"Well, that's a new idea to me," said Ralph.

"Suppose we examine that. I have an article here,—a box, in my hand. Tell me, Ralph, how large it is, what it is made of, and what it is used for?" said the captain.

"Quite easy," replied the boy. "It is about two inches long; is made of metal, of some kind, and is used to hold matches."

"The answer needs examination. Now, tell me, first, how you judged it to be two inches long," remarked the captain.

"Why, I should easily judge that, because it wasn't as big as your hand, and not even as long as one of your fingers," said Ralph.

"In other words, you used my hand to measure it by, or, if my hand hadn't been there you would have guessed its size because you knew, approximately, the size of match boxes; is that it?" asked the captain.

"Yes," was the answer.

"Very well; how did you know it was of metal?" was the next question.

There was a broad grin on the faces of all; that was too easy; Ralph's face was all aglow as he answered: "Because I know that all match boxes are made of metal, and it looked like metal."

"You mean it was your previous knowledge; that is a fair answer," replied the captain. "But how did you know its uses?"

Ralph glanced about preparatory to making the answer, and Alfred replied: "I should say because I know that a box of that kind and of that size, and47 I've seen hundreds of them, is used for holding matches."

"Well answered. Now, let us sum up: the eye told you that the box was about two inches long. That is fairly accurate. You got the measurement simply by comparison. If a box had been placed within the range of your vision, so that there would be absolutely nothing with which to compare it, you could not have told by a mere observation of the eye whether it was an inch or three inches long," observed the captain.

"Do you mean I wouldn't have been able to tell the size of a match safe?" asked Alfred.

"No; I didn't say match safe. I said if a box had been exhibited before you. If I had asked you the size of a match safe it wouldn't have been necessary for me to exhibit it; your knowledge of the general sizes of match safes would have enabled you to answer me without even glancing at it. Isn't that true?" asked the captain.

"I see what you mean now," said Ralph. "It is previous knowledge that aids the eye."

"That is the idea," said the captain. "Now, proceed with the next question. Why did you say it was made of metal?"

"Because I never saw a match safe that wasn't made of some kind of metal," said Ralph.

"Did the eye tell the truth?" said the captain, taking out his knife and opening it. "You will see it is made of papier mache, merely colored to look like metal. The eye was a gay deceiver; don't you think so?"


This was too much for the men; there was a sally of laughter in which the boys joined with the greatest glee.

"But we are not through with this investigation. We have been talking about a match safe. The sergeant here is a very wise person, and has had a fine education, so I am going to ask him whether it looks like a match safe," said the captain.

"I should say so; that is about the only thing that occurs to me," he answered.

"Are you relying on your eyes, or what?" asked the captain.

"Well,—on my eyes and on my previous knowledge," answered the sergeant.

"Then you are doubly wrong," said the captain, as he opened the lid, and exposed the interior of the case filled with tablets. "It is not a match safe; was never intended for one, and was never used for that purpose. Have I proven my case?"

The company applauded the clever manner in which the captain explained the subject.

"This leads me to say that the eye brings into your range something which may be familiar, that is, something of which you have seen before, and you say you have seen thus and so; or, on the other hand, you see something which is unknown, or strange. It is at this point where the value of observation is of service. If you cannot compare its size with something you have knowledge of, or have no gauge by which you can determine of what it is made, and no means which will enable you to judge of its use, or its purpose, you must depend49 on your own judgment to decide what it can possibly be. In course of time the man in an airship becomes a thinker and a reasoner, and does not depend so much on the eye, as upon a judgment aside from that which the eye tells him. Do you understand now what I mean when I say that the eye does not grow more acute, but that the mind becomes more active, and, through observation, enables the aviator to judge more accurately as time goes on."

The captain's argument was unanswerable. It was a revelation to the boys, and, as the captain was about to leave, Ralph said: "We thank you, Captain, for the wonderful lesson you have taught us. I am sure we shall never forget it, and I know we shall profit by it."



Before the morning sun had lighted up the scene, they could hear the buzzing of airplanes overhead. That was a sound so familiar to them that they could, at times, distinguish even the motors that were used on most of them.

"I'll bet that's a Morane," said Ralph, as they rolled around over the blankets, preparatory to getting up.

"They are out pretty early in the morning," said Alfred.

"Got to be out promptly before any of the Boches are able to come over and take observations," said the sergeant, in the adjoining van.

"Oh, yes; I had forgotten about that," replied Alfred. "What time will the fireworks begin?"

"As soon as the observations are completed," replied the sergeant.

"Any particular set of fellows on the other side you are going to wipe out?" asked Ralph.

"You bet! We're going to make Devil's Cut a promenade for a health resort," replied the sergeant.


"Then I'm with you," said Alfred, springing out of his bunk.

The ten machines in the air inspired the boys as they glanced aloft. "I rather have a longing to return to that business," said Alfred, pointing upwardly.

Ralph walked away without replying.

Shovels and picks were again brought into use. Some of the men made an observation of the bank alongside of the guns, while others began to dig into the hills. Others brought up short sections of young trees, which were planted upright side by side and placed across the top to form a sort of roof or ceiling. The earth, as it was taken out, was pitched up on top of the roof thus formed. The holes were dug into the banks from six to eight feet deep, and usually six feet wide. Each of the shelters thus made room for four men. Really, each was intended for eight men, but as half of the men would be on duty, while the other half would be at rest, it will be seen that much space was economized.

The mess shelters were somewhat larger or rather, longer, but not any deeper, and heavy posts were set at intervals, to hold the roof and the earth. As these places were on the rear side of the steep bank they were protected from shot or shell, however vigorous might be the bombardment, but, of course, the guns were subject to be hit by well-aimed shots.

The boys took keen delight in digging their shelter and in carpeting the floor with the stray52 leaves, which were found all about the gun emplacements after the protecting boughs had been put overhead. True, the easy chairs were not the most comfortable, as they had to improvise the furniture from the odd sticks and branches which were obtainable. But this didn't matter. They were going to have a taste of the work with a 75-millimeter battery.

"That Nieuporte machine is making observations now," said Alfred, "and the puff indicates that they have located two of the batteries."

"Well done," said the captain. "Glad you can read the signals so well. Take your station at No. 2; and you, Ralph, go to No. 4. Report to the lieutenant there, and give him the benefit of your observation."

It was a proud moment for the boys. They saluted and stationed themselves as ordered.

There had not been one moment of silence during the entire morning. The guns were constantly booming, and sometimes there would be a rattle, as though salvos of machine guns were brought into action. Anti-airship guns were always flashing, and high in the air white and gray puff balls would announce the explosion of shells, trying to feel out the positions of the airships.

"That was a German shrapnel," said Ralph, "and the one this side a French high explosive."

"How do you know?" asked one of the men.

"By the color of the smoke," replied Ralph. "There, did you see the two that came together, one with very white smoke on the right; the other53 with a sort of gray, off to the left? That last one was from a French gun."

"What's the matter with that Farman machine?" said one of the gunners. "He acts queerly."

"The wing must be shot off, or he wouldn't spiral in that way," replied Ralph.

"He's coming down, but he has the machine in control, I think," remarked one of the men.

Method of Signaling from Airplanes

"Yes; if he can keep it in that way, but he must straighten out or he will never reach our lines," said Ralph.

"See if you can make out the trouble," said the lieutenant, as he handed Ralph the glasses.

"The pilot is dead," said Ralph, after a quick observation.

"Do you think so?" asked the lieutenant.

"Yes; he is lying over the side of the pit; see, he is motionless; take a look for yourself," said Ralph, as he handed the glasses back to the lieutenant.

"I am very sorry, as we were dependent on54 Dupuy for the day's work. Report to the captain."

Ralph quickly made his way to the station occupied by the captain. "I am requested to report to you that Dupuy has been injured or killed, and that is his machine now coming down beyond the lines," said Ralph.

The gun crew glanced in the direction indicated. As the machine neared the earth two of the French machines more venturesome than the rest flew low, hoping, no doubt, that the wind would be sufficiently strong to carry poor Dupuy into friendly territory, but in this they were disappointed.

Almost immediately another Farman sailed across the battery and signaled. As it did so the order came from the captain, to the lieutenant in charge of the three guns on the right. "Line up with Farman D 63, range 4700 meters."

The men stood at attention, all eyes riveted on the disappearing machine. Every second a voice would call out: "27, 27 and a half, 28, 28 and a half," and so on, and at each call the gun pointer would turn a small wheel, and the gun muzzle of the gun would move up a trifle. Soon a puff was plainly visible below the airplane.

"Tirez!" shouted the officer, and instantly there was a sharp, crashing roar. The aeroplane had, in the meantime, made a turn, and a puff appeared above the machine.

"Too high!" shouted the officer. Two more puffs appeared. "Two degrees lower!" was the next order.


The guns were reloaded before the foregoing orders were completed. Bang! bang! bang! Again another signal; still too far overhead. Another adjustment, and another round. The flying machine sent up a succession of puffs, and the lieutenant's face glowed with pleasurable excitement, as he shouted: "You have it. Give them forty shots; then depress."

While this was going on the three other guns were just as busy. The guns were pointed diagonally across the river, where the hills in the distance seemed to be constantly covered with a smoke.

"I notice that they have lots of smoke over there, so it is hard to tell where to fire," said Alfred, as he stood alongside the captain.

"That is true," he answered. "Our guns use smokeless powder, and that will aid us in concealing our position. If we used the same powder they use in shelling Devil's Cut, we wouldn't last a day."

Alfred understood why so much care had been taken to cover up the guns, for the Germans had guns which would reach as far as the 75's, but the question was how to locate the batteries. In this particular the French were superior, as well as in the ability to handle the guns rapidly and accurately, for it must be admitted that the French had easily taken the lead in the use of heavy ordnance.

It did not take long to fire forty shots. There was only a short cessation after the prescribed56 number had been let loose. The Farman machine came up close. It signaled.

"That battery has been put out of commission," said Alfred. The lieutenant nodded approvingly and with a great show of pleasure.

"Two degrees to the left," shouted the lieutenant.

Peculiarities of Trajectories

Crack! crack! bang! spoke out the pieces as before. And now it seemed as though the whole hillside shook with the resounding roar. Alfred and Ralph, as well as the officers, were on a slight elevation, which enabled them to look across the valleys, but the gunners who were firing could not see, because they were too far down behind the crest.

The boys had been too busily engaged to notice that all along that low range, of which they occupied but a small part, the artillery had taken up positions during the night, and that more than two hundred guns were now commencing and with frightful execution carrying out that most terrible of all forms of modern artillery warfare, the barrage fire.


"We heard about that before we left Verdun," said Ralph. "Is that what is going on now?" he asked.

The captain nodded. "You will notice that the guns are now pointed at an angle which will carry the shell the farthest," he said.

"Is that the forty-five degree angle?" asked Alfred.

Peculiarities of Trajectories

"Yes; if we elevate the guns the trajectory will be higher, but the shot will fall short of the maximum; if the gun is depressed the shell will fall nearer to the gun. After we have demolished everything at long range, the forward end of the gun is lowered and a certain number of shots fired, each gun swinging around a little to the right and to the left, so as to reach all the spaces between the guns. Then the gun is depressed still more, and at regular intervals this is repeated until every foot of space from the longest range to the shortest in front of us is searched out."

"But while the shots are coming closer and closer to our front lines won't the Germans come58 up and occupy the spaces, just as before?" asked Ralph.

"That is just what we want them to do," replied the lieutenant.

"Why so?" asked Alfred.

"Because, at a given signal, the guns are again raised at the highest angle, and the result is that all who have ventured to come forward, are trapped, and will be caught by the next sweep of shots as they are brought forward," answered the lieutenant.

For more than five hours this incessant stream of shells continued without interruption. The men at the guns were perspiring. The relief crews were lying on the ground, some of them actually sleeping. Occasionally the boys would see a squad arise, spring forward and take their places, while those who had been serving the guns would drop back exhausted in the shelters.

An orderly rode up and handed the captain a paper. He signaled the lieutenant. "They are preparing for the charge," he said. "Come, come, my men!"

They rushed down the hill, and stopped before the telephone booth, which had been installed while the first assault was being carried out in the forenoon. The operator was dictating information to an assistant.

"The batteries will commence close action at two o'clock. Commanders will observe the strictest care as the columns move forward. The curtain of fire will be in advance of the first line at59 least two hundred meters. Scouts report heavy columns of enemy on the road to Albert. All batteries east of hill 60 must concentrate on the ridge behind hill 307, until the skirmishers are near."

"Low depression!" ordered the captain, as he glanced at his watch. The boys noticed that it was now within ten minutes of two.

The excitement was intense. There were no men in the shelters now. Those not on duty were near the crest of the ridge, shading their eyes and glancing across the smoking fields. Two minutes passed. The captain then marched out, followed by the officer and the boys. As they reached the top of the hill the captain, watch in one hand, raised a handkerchief with the other.

It did not seem possible that the din could increase, but it now seemed to be intensified. Every gun was so low that the shells barely missed the crest of the hill as they passed over. Five minutes,—ten minutes,—it seemed an age.

"Look at the men along the river," shouted Ralph. "They are going forward,—they have crossed the narrow field, and are running up the hill. There is the second column. Why, they act as though they were only having a practice drill."

No sooner had the first and second lines passed from view, than the third columns were noticed, and behind them the reserves.

"Where did they all come from?" asked Alfred.



The one hundred and two guns, which the French had massed in this sector, covered a line equal to nearly a mile and a half in length, as they were less than seventy feet apart. As each gun was able to fire twenty shots a minute, they hurled over one thousand high explosive shells from all of the guns each minute.

This multiplied by sixty, to represent an hour, and then by five to get the grand total, in point of time, makes more than three hundred thousand missiles distributed over an area of less than five square miles. Imagine, if you can, what it would mean to have ten of those terrific shrapnel shells explode over every acre in that region. No wonder that human flesh cannot stand that sort of warfare.

Slowly the muzzles of the guns were raised higher and higher. In the front, over that broad field, although the sun was shining brightly, yet there was a thick haze. Absolutely nothing could now be seen but the densest smoke, and noises were no longer distinguishable.


The boys rushed down to the telephone station. The operator, streaming with perspiration, and with a voice so hoarse that it was scarcely above a whisper, was still taking the messages.

"The second line has just been taken. They are rounding up a division beyond the hill. The traverses beyond are filled with Germans, who have not offered any resistance. Prisoners are coming in by the thousands. The railroad has been reached."

"Wonderful! wonderful!" shouted the lieutenant in an ecstasy of joy. "I didn't expect that. We have cut into them two miles, at least."

The operator held up his hand. "The main defenses on the ridge have just been taken. The reserves have been ordered up to handle the prisoners. Four staff officers have been taken from the tunnel shelters," he said.

Every one was in a delirium. Each felt that he had contributed some share to the glorious victory. It was a revelation of the power of the French gunnery, and the wonderful co-operation of the infantry in moving forward in the shelter of the curtain, as it has been so aptly termed.

Gradually the deafening din ceased and appeared to die away. One gun from each battery still remained on duty, and fired at regular intervals. With field glasses many things could now be distinguished, the important one, and that which most interested the boys, being the immense number of troops moving to and fro and through the fields so lately harrassed by their guns.


"Would you like to take a trip across that territory?" asked the lieutenant, as the boys came up.

"Indeed, we would," replied Ralph.

"It is too late tonight, but we intend to make an inspection tomorrow," he replied. "I promise you shall go along."

At supper that night there did not seem to be any extraordinary show of enthusiasm. Probably every one had been surfeited with excitement.

"Don't you have a queer feeling in your ears?" said Alfred.

"Well, my ears have been humming and buzzing right along. It appears sometimes as though the guns were still going. It seems unnatural to have this quiet," remarked Ralph.

"You'll get over that after a few days of this," said a gunner. "It wasn't an exceptionally noisy day, as we had only about a hundred guns on tap; but over in the Champagne, when we cut a swath of six kilometers, fifteen kilometers long, in two days, we had over three hundred guns. That meant some pounding."

At nine o'clock in the morning the boys were ready for the trip over Dead Man's land, as the region was termed. Four officers and a half dozen of the gunners made up the party of observation.

As they marched down the hill the lieutenant said: "This is not a trip to satisfy mere curiosity, but to give us an idea of the nature and extent of our work. In order to appreciate it we are compelled to make an investigation before the traces of our work disappear."


They had little difficulty in crossing the stream, for hundreds of crafts were all about. The first evidences of the galling fire did not appear until they had gone a thousand feet from the stream, where the first line trenches of the Germans zig-zagged around the inclined surface of the fields.

"This may interest you," said the captain, as he pointed to a section directly behind the main trench. The scene was an excellent one, as it gave them a clear view over a field covering about two acres. Before the onslaught, it had been a field of sod, level as a floor, and part of the green was in front of a magnificent country home.

The house was a mass of ruins, of course, and two of the outbuildings had been burned. It would not be a misstatement to say that so close together were the holes and the upturned pieces of sod that it would have been possible for one to go over that entire lawn stepping from hole to hole, without touching the grass.

"That must be a tunnel," said Ralph, as he approached an opening, which could be observed from the ruins of the house.

Together the party moved over and entered the covered way. His surmise was correct. It was a timbered channel way, three feet wide, and high enough to permit a tall man to walk erect in it.

Alfred peered in. As his eyes became accustomed to the darkness, several objects were noticed in the enlarged space.

"I suppose they have furniture here," remarked Ralph. "Hello! what's this?"


The captain came forward, and struck a light. Three bodies of Germans were lying on the floor. That was queer. A closer examination was made. It was then discovered that in the sound chamber were other bodies, more than a dozen, and most of them officers, as the insignias on their uniforms indicated.

"They were, undoubtedly, brought here at the beginning of the fight," said the lieutenant. "They had no idea what they had to contend with when we opened on them."

All hurried away from the place. A plowed field at the rear of the house was crossed, their steps being directed to the stumps of trees at the other side of the field. In crossing this short stretch of field more than fifty dead were found, all in such positions as to indicate that there must have been a panic in their ranks.

An infantry officer in the party, who had been with the reserve the previous day, remarked: "More than three hundred prisoners were taken along the edge of this field where these trees stood. In taking them back into our lines I had a conversation with one of the officers. He said:

"'I cannot begin to describe the effect of the fire when your shots reached the timber. We had our traverses alongside these rows of trees, and it seemed as though a hurricane was going through and breaking off the limbs, leaves and branches, and flinging them down on the men. But that was not the worst of it. As long as we were in the traverses we could get some shelter from the bursting65 shells; but it was impossible to get away from the falling branches. The ditches didn't help us then, and the men, despite all our efforts, rushed out, preferring the bursting shells to the new terror.'"

"Did you ever see such kindling wood?" remarked Ralph, as they picked their way through the debris.

"But did you ever see such a fine collection of metal?" replied Alfred, as he pointed at the pieces of shells which were scattered on all sides, and in every conceivable place.

One trench after the other was crossed. Without exception all contained bodies of men, who were stricken before they could get out, for the men delegated had not yet been able to give the dead proper burial. Various parties were at work, performing the last rites to those who had fallen, and they stopped before one party thus at work.

Several dozen men were engaged in carrying the bodies to the trenches where they were laid side by side close together. Not all were Germans, for many Frenchmen lost their lives on that day. When a sufficient number were gathered the officer in charge of the party directed the assistant to examine the remains of each.

The first quest was to determine the number tag, usually attached to each soldier, and after this had been entered in a book, a search was made to discover letters, photos, money and souvenirs which the pockets might contain. A note was made of all these things, and, finally, the exact location of the interment was added to the transcript, thus giving66 a reasonable assurance that the friends or relatives might know with some degree of certainty the burial place and also in time receive the effects taken from the bodies of the fallen soldiers.

It was, indeed, a gruesome sight, not worse, perhaps, than many others which belong to the battlefield. In the heat of battle, when everything is noise and bustle, and when men grit their teeth and rush into every sort of danger, they become numbed to scenes even worse than this. But it is different when in the calm of the morning, they see the results of their work and allow their thoughts to wander.

The party had reached the base of the hill, and was nearing the formidable fourth line of the German trenches, which were taken at the last assault. One company after the other of French infantry was even then marching over the fields to take up positions in the newly acquired territory. The trenches were turned around facing the other way, the shelters revised to meet the new conditions, and the underground retreats properly cleaned out.

"Did you ever see anything so awful as this?" said Alfred with a shudder, as they gazed on the great corpse-filled trench directly behind the crest of the ridge.

"There must have been an infantry charge here," said Ralph.

"Quite right," said the infantry officer. "They made the last stand here. It was really pitiful to see them, as our infantry came up the hill. The67 shells were exploding over them, not a hundred meters ahead of our foremost columns. They tried to fight, it must be said to their credit, but they were crazed by the terror of that fire."

"How far are we from our battery?" asked Ralph.

"I should say about three kilometers," said the lieutenant.

"Just to think of it," responded Alfred, "about two and a half miles distant, and see what happened here."

It would be merely a repetition of the same sights over and over to describe the scenes. Every sort of accoutrement, guns, swords, knapsacks, articles of food, clothing of every description, kitchen utensils, and at one place a poor dog, horribly mutilated, made up the scene and afforded a gruesome picture.

"What is this?" said Alfred, as he stopped and picked up an envelope. It was sealed, and had not, evidently, reached the one for whom it was intended.

"What shall I do with it?" asked Alfred.

"Turn it over to the searchers,—the ones who are now burying the dead," replied the lieutenant.

Alfred marched across the open and handed it to the officer. "I found this at the corner of the field," he explained.

The officer acknowledged the receipt with a bow, and held it up. "Lieutenant Johann Schroeder, 10th Infantry," the inscription read. "Have you the name there?" he asked, looking at the clerk.


The latter examined the index. "Yes; here it is; body in the tenth lateral, over to the left," so the letter was deposited in a huge sack carried by two assistants.

The Deadly Shrapnel Shell

But there were other objects which had to be taken care of besides the bodies, as everything on the battlefield that has a value is gathered up. Metals are of great utility, leather can be used over again, and so on through the whole list. Repairs to roads were necessary and parties for this purpose were also in evidence, as it was their business to make this region habitable again for the army which must occupy it.

Several large vans were now seen coming up over what was once a roadway. It stopped at intervals while the men carried the various articles to them and others put them in place inside the vehicles. The boys with their party were passing a group of men thus engaged when a terrific explosion took place.

The noise created by the unexpected calamity attracted the attention of hundreds of soldiers and officers, who rushed to the scene. The captain was killed, and the lieutenant wounded. When Ralph regained consciousness, he saw a half dozen men69 lying on the ground, and finally recognized Alfred among the number lying still.

An officer rushed up and shouted: "That makes the second accident with unexploded shells. Where is your commanding officer?" he inquired of one of the workers.

"There!" said the man, as he pointed to the figure of an officer who was lying in the unfortunate group.



Such accidents are of common occurrence on the battlefields. However carefully the shells may be made to insure their explosion at the instant for which they are timed, something often happens with many of them that prevents it.

Ralph was too dazed to have any feelings about the matter, except the faintest idea that he ought to do something to help his chum. It did not at that time, nor for hours thereafter, seem to be anything dreadful, nor did it occur to him that Alfred might be dead.

After all he had seen during the day, this was a mere matter-of-fact occurrence, something that might happen to any one, particularly on a battlefield.

When he again recovered consciousness, he saw a dim light close by his bedside, and noticed some moving figures. Then he looked about and glanced upward. The ceiling was white and clean, and a woman with a neat white cap and gown stood beside his bed, and smiled at him. This was, indeed, strange. He couldn't have been hurt, for he felt no pain.


"Do you feel better now?" said a sweet voice.

That seemed to break the charm. "Why,—yes; I am feeling well; but what has happened? Where am I? and,—and—where's Alfred? Oh, yes; I know now; something happened a little while ago. Where is he?" said Ralph, as he tried to move.

"Alfred is across there; he is sleeping now. He will be all right in a few weeks," said the nurse.

Ralph looked at her for a time without replying. He seemed to be gathering his thoughts. He raised up his arm, and noticed that it was bandaged. He dropped it and glanced up at the nurse. "We had an accident a few minutes ago, didn't we?" he asked.

"That was two days ago," replied the nurse. "But you are all right now. We were a little worried at first, because it was impossible to tell just where or how you were hurt; but now you'll get well, so don't worry."

"Will Alfred, too?" he asked eagerly.

"He is mending rapidly, but his injuries are more severe than yours. Every one here is so anxious and inquires about you," remarked the nurse.

"Why, who are looking out for us? Where are we? What place is this?" he asked wonderingly.

"This is the town of Corbie, north of Amiens. The lieutenant of your battery was badly shaken up, but he is all right now and left this afternoon. But you must be quiet; a hospital is a bad place to be excited in," said the nurse.

"Yes, I know that. We have been in the hospital72 before. This isn't the first time," said Ralph.

"Is that you, Ralph?" said a weak voice.

"That's Alfred, I know. And how are you?" asked Ralph.

"All right. I thought you'd never wake up. I'm all right now," said Alfred.

"Now be quiet," said the nurse soothingly. "The doctor says you must not do anything to excite yourselves."

The night passed without incident. In the morning Alfred's cot was moved over adjoining the one on which Ralph lay.

"Now you can talk all you want to, but sleep whenever you can," remarked the nurse, as they were comfortably fixed.

"Say, Alfred, did you have any pain at all after the thing went off?" asked Ralph.

"Not the slightest bit; the first thing I knew I found myself here all fixed up, and heard a band playing outside," said Alfred.

"So they have a band here?" inquired Ralph.

"Yes, indeed; and a dandy one, too; say, did you have anything to eat yesterday?" asked Alfred.

"I don't know; and there's another thing I know; I'm mighty hungry now. When did that thing happen?" asked Ralph.

"Day before yesterday; no, the day before that," replied Alfred.

"Well, then, I don't think I've had anything to eat since then. My, but I'm hungry," said Ralph.


"There she is; she's coming; look at that big tray," said Alfred with glistening eyes.

"I thought you'd relish something about this time," said the nurse as she deposited the tray on the folding table and wheeled it near their cots.

"Well, I should guess so, after not having had anything to eat for three days," said Ralph.

"Why, you ate a fairly good meal yesterday noon," replied the nurse.

"What? I did?" said Ralph, looking at Alfred in an amused manner, and then at the nurse. He shook his head, and continued: "Well, if you say so it must be so; but I never knew it."

"No; of course, you didn't remember; well, we see so many instances of this kind. It is really strange," continued the nurse, "how men will forget everything, not even know their names, and still will not forget to eat. That seems to be a law of nature,—the first law,—the one of self-preservation."

"Well, even if I did eat right along this tastes as though I hadn't taken a meal for a month," said Ralph.

There were many curious cases in the hospital,—forms of disease developed by the war that were novel even to the doctors.

Two weeks thereafter, when Ralph had entirely recovered, and Alfred was able to go out for short walks, they had many conversations with the doctor.

One day while returning from a jaunt they encountered him, just as a patient was brought into74 the hospital, who was staring about and screaming wildly.

"Is that a crazy man?" asked Alfred.

"Not exactly," replied the doctor. "It is a peculiar mania, however. We had several dozens of cases the day after the great drive,—in fact, at the very time you were brought here,—of Germans who were brought in suffering from that ailment."

"What is it?" asked Ralph.

"It has been called 'War Psychosis,'" answered the doctor.

"What is the cause of it?" asked Ralph.

"I suppose it is brought about by the patient being compelled to witness the most terrible sights," answered the doctor. "It occurs where the man has a peculiarly sensitive or nervous organization."

"A man like that cannot be very brave, I suppose," said Alfred.

"It is not that at all. Lack of bravery, or fear has nothing to do with it. I have seen the strongest men break down under it," said the doctor.

"Is it a fatal disease?" asked Alfred.

"No, it seems to leave them almost as suddenly as they are affected by it. Do you see that tall man over to the left—the one who is swinging his head to and fro, and staring at those about him?"

"Yes, I have frequently watched him during the week," said Ralph.

"He is a typical case," said the doctor. "He is an Alsatian, and belonged to the first reserves. He was a first-class shot, as well as a member of75 the battery when in the service. At the breaking out of the war he joined the colors at once. His battery was in the thickest of the fighting from and after the Marne. He saw all the slaughter about him, and at first became moody. His boon companion was a neighbor's boy, Tony, who carried the ammunition.

"One day a shell exploded near the battery and poor Tony was killed. This did not seem to affect him much, and he looked around listlessly when they buried the boy. The next day another shell exploded near him, tearing the captain to pieces, and wounding three of his companions. Instantly he leaped forward toward the enemy, and had to be restrained and forcibly carried back of the line, where he was taken charge of by the hospital attendants. That happened less than a week ago. We had to bind him hand and foot, but he is better now, and will be all right again in another week. There are thousands of such cases."

Some days hundreds of patients would be sent away,—taken to Paris, or to some of the great hospitals, where the best of care could be bestowed. In fact, all cases which were expected to require weeks to effect a cure, had to be sent to the base hospitals, or the field hospitals would be overcrowded.

The boys were only too glad now to relinquish their cots in the general ward and take a room in the convalescent ward. From that place they would wander out and watch the great processions of soldiers as they passed on to the front.


"I wonder why it is that we don't see any French soldiers around here lately?" remarked Alfred.

"I was thinking about that very thing," said Ralph. "We must inquire about that."

Inquiry developed the fact that the English had been extending their lines, and now occupied the front in that section down to the area over which the French had made their last successful drive.

"Do you know where the 14th French battery has gone?" asked Ralph of an attendant, when they returned to the hospital.

"I really do not know, but I understand that they are now near Noyen, or in that region," was the reply.

A week thereafter the boys, now fully satisfied, left the hospital, and, as the doctor handed them their certificates of discharge, he remarked:

"The lieutenant sent your things to us the day they left the ridge. The attendant will get them for you."

They had entirely forgotten that they owned anything. The two packages were found intact, together with a note of regret from the lieutenant, and from the men of the 14th battery. It was a gratifying thing to receive, and greatly appreciated by the boys.

On the road they walked along toward the reserve camp two miles to the north, during which they met numerous fellow pedestrians, of all sorts, conditions and characteristics. Peddlers, hucksters, dealers in all sorts of wares, tradesmen, a77 few carpenters with their tools, going and coming, and this over a road which in normal times would not have a dozen visitors during the day. The vast army to the east brought trade to many inhabitants.

They were particularly interested in a peddler, who plied his trade with considerable energy. He would push to the front whenever a troop of soldiers appeared, offering his wares, and, after each sale, or when he had completed his canvass of a troop, would swing off his pack, take out the money, and count it. Then, invariably, he would draw out a pencil, note down something on the wrapper in which the money was kept, shoulder his pack, and march on.

"That fellow is the most particular man I ever met," remarked Ralph. "I suppose he puts down every sou he receives. He is what I would call a tightwad."

"Perhaps not that, but just a trifle careful," responded Alfred.

It was an amusing experience to the boys, as they watched his procedure. It was always the same and never varied. The camp was in sight, and they left the road to visit it, but before entering the grounds they sat down to rest, and while there the peddler passed them.

The boys waited until a regiment of newly arrived English entered the gateway, before they rose and followed. The peddler was on hand the moment the regiment halted, and obsequiously passed down the line offering his wares. They noticed78 that although there were no purchasers, nevertheless the peddler went through the same formula of making a notation on the paper, which was used as a wrapper for the money.

Parked at one side was an immense train of the well-known English three-inch guns, the counterpart of the French 75's which did such terrific execution several weeks previous to this time, as heretofore related.

"There are the flyers," said Ralph, as he pointed to an open field to the east.

"Let's have a look at them," responded Alfred.

As they were crossing the ground, Alfred stopped. "There is the old peddler again. He is a diligent fellow, sure enough," he said.

Although there were only twenty machines on the ground, they could see from the vans within view that many more were awaiting the unpacking process. Here, as elsewhere, the peddler appeared.

Ralph stopped and gazed at the man for a few moments. "Alfred," he said, "somehow I don't like that fellow's actions. What business has he here if he is really a peddler?"

"That fellow's a spy, or there is something the matter with him," replied Alfred. "Do you know I have had my suspicions ever since the regiment came in."

"Why?" asked Ralph.

"For this simple reason: did you observe that he went through the entire regiment without making a single sale?" asked Alfred.


"Yes, I saw that," answered Ralph.

"Well, after he got through with them, he took out his money just the same and made a note on the paper," answered Alfred.

"That does look very strange," replied Ralph. "He will bear watching."

"Suppose we follow him and see what he has to sell?" suggested Alfred.

As they neared him the peddler had reached a group of assistants and threw off the pack, displaying a collection of wares, such as needles, pins, handkerchiefs, and like articles of utility likely to be used by soldiers and officers.

"That looks innocent enough," observed Ralph.

A sale was made, the change passed over, and the inevitable paper package drawn out, followed by a pencil, which was used, apparently, to note the amount of the sale.

He was followed to the space where the artillery was parked.

"That fellow may be all right, but he looks queer to me," said Ralph. "Suppose we count the number of guns here and their calibre."

Alfred paused, and looked at Ralph with a cynical grin. "What for? Do you think he will carry any of them away?" he asked.

"Never mind; let's count them," answered Ralph.

"Then, why not count the airships, those in the vans as well," returned Alfred, now smiling and catching the meaning of this proposed investigation.


"Yes; go over at once; I will attend to the guns. Meet me at the stand. I see he is going over in that quarter," replied Ralph.

The latter took particular note of the Long 3's, as they were known technically. There were forty-two. Eight howitzers were under cover at one end of the line, as well as three mounted, heavy-calibre guns, which Ralph judged might be at least eight-inch bore. He entered the sheet-iron warehouse at the end of the field, as the peddler emerged from it at a side door.

Within was stored an immense quantity of trench equipments, a row of newly devised bomb-throwers being conspicuously displayed at one end of the warehouse. Ralph counted them. "There are certainly more than a hundred; I may have missed some of them," he remarked to himself.

As he marched across the open space to the stand which had been selected as the meeting place, he saw Alfred awaiting him. The latter seemed to be greatly excited, and the moment Ralph was sighted he ran over.

"Do you know who is at the hangar?" he said.

"No; I can't guess," answered Ralph.

"Joe; don't you remember Joe; the American that we made our first flight with up at Dunkirk? He is over at the hangar and wants to see you," said Alfred.

"All right; let's go over," replied Ralph. "But did you count them?"

"No; but Joe gave me the information; eight Sopwith tractors, ten Bristols, and six B. E.'s, all81 set up. Tomorrow they will unpack eight more Sopwiths and six Bristols. That makes a total of thirty-nine," was Alfred's answer.

"What do you think? That fellow was coming out of the warehouse the minute I got there. Do you suppose he thought there was any peddling business over there?" said Ralph with some determination in his voice.



"By jing! I'm awfully glad to see you," said Joe, as the boys appeared. "Excuse me for not shaking with the right hand, but that is out of commission, and the left is not much better. And how have you been? Oh, I heard all about you. Lieutenant Guyon! poor fellow! he was a brick; sure enough. Too bad he had such a weak heart! That's what did him up. Say, do you know when we got the first reports we understood that both of you went under; and say; did you ever get hold of any of the New York papers that wrote you up? Fine obituaries! Makes a fellow feel good to read about yourself after you're dead. I have some notices of the same kind about myself."

Ralph and Alfred laughed, as Joe rattled on.

"But tell me," he continued, "what have you been doing the past six months?"

"Why, we've been in the artillery service," said Ralph.

Joe arose and looked at them straight and hard, as he replied:

"Artillery service? You don't mean it? And where?" he asked.


"Directly east of Amiens. We just came out of the hospital," said Alfred.

"Out of the hospital? Were you in the big drive? Wasn't that a dandy? So you got peppered up there, eh?" he asked.

"Well, yes; we were in that from the first; but they never touched us; we got hurt after the battle was over; accidental bomb explosion on the battlefield," replied Ralph.

"Tell us about yourself," said Alfred. "How did you happen to lose your right arm?"

"Tried to bring down too many of them in one day, I suppose. Oh, they gave me a tough fight; but they came down when I did."

"So you are not flying now?" remarked Alfred with a rueful voice.

"No," said Joe, looking down and slowly shaking his head. "I can do it as well as ever, but they won't let me."

"See here, Joe; we've got something that's bothering us; we believe we are on the trail of a spy. He acts like it. It's a peddler. I followed him around, and both of us noticed some suspicious-looking things on his part," said Ralph.

"A peddler!" remarked Joe. "Why, I saw a peddler around here a half hour ago. Fellows of that kind need watching. Go on investigating. I am awfully sorry I can't move around as I used to, or I would help you out."

"What is the matter with your foot?" asked Alfred, as he now saw a bandage above the ankle.

"Oh, that was only a part of the damage. Go84 on, boys; see the commandant; here, let me give you a note; now, take it over to that low building in front of the brown warehouse," said Joe.

"Thank you for the hint," said Alfred.

"Don't forget to come back; I want to talk with you," remarked Joe, as he waved his hand in the parting salute.

The peddler was nowhere to be seen as they hurried across the field. The boys were too much excited to open and read the note which Joe had given them.

"Is the commandant in?" asked Alfred, as they approached the guard.

An orderly appeared, and to him Ralph handed the note. It was at once taken into the officer's room. The orderly came out smiling, bowed and said:

"Col. Winston wishes you to step in."

They were met at the door by the officer, who grasped their hands warmly as he said:

"You don't know how happy I am to meet you. My brother always speaks so affectionately of you, and my sister is really much hurt because you left Dunkirk without seeing her."

The boys were astonished. Ralph was the first to speak:

"Are you Lieutenant Winston's brother?"

"Did he recover from the fall in the airship?" asked Alfred.

"Yes, and he says that without you he would have been crushed to death; we are certainly thankful to you. And now, what can I do for you?85 Joe says you have something important to communicate to me without delay," said the colonel, glancing at the note.

"We may be mistaken," said Ralph, "but we think we have spotted a spy."

"Where?" asked the colonel, as he arose from the chair. "Here in the camp?"

"Yes, right here; over in the warehouse and at the hangars, and he acted so suspiciously before he reached the camp that we've been trailing him," said Alfred.

The colonel tapped a bell. The orderly appeared. "Send for Captain Rose. Tell him it is urgent," said the colonel.

"We ought to be out looking for the fellow, for we missed him as we came across the grounds. He's a peddler," said Ralph.

"The captain is out on duty and cannot be here for a half hour, so he informs me over the wire," said the orderly.

"Then suppose I go out and tell Joe to watch that end of the field, and from there I will go to the entrance. Probably they,——"

"Wait one moment," said the colonel, interrupting, as he turned to the orderly. "'Phone to the corporal of the gate squad and ask whether a peddler has passed out within the past half hour; if not, tell him to arrest a peddler if he attempts to go out."

"I will go over to the warehouse," said Alfred. "I have an idea he is sneaking around in that part of the grounds."


"Good idea," said the colonel. "Hand this to the officer in charge," he said, as he sat down and wrote a few lines on a pad, and handed it to Alfred.

The latter lost no time in presenting himself to the officer in charge.

"Is this Lieutenant Brand?" asked Alfred, as he addressed a trim-looking officer.

"Yes; at your service," was the reply. He looked at the note.

"What is this?" he continued.

"A spy, we think," said Alfred.

"Do you mean he has been here?" said the officer in an incredulous tone.

"Yes; not more than a half hour ago," answered Alfred, "and he is here somewhere on the grounds; we are trying to find him."

"One moment; there is a call on the 'phone; excuse me," said the lieutenant, as he disappeared into the next room.

"Yes, he is here!" Alfred heard the lieutenant say. "Do you want him?"

Alfred was moving toward the door when the lieutenant appeared and announced: "They have arrested a peddler at the gate. The colonel wishes to speak to you."

Alfred took the receiver. "They have the peddler at the gate. They are bringing him over now, so be kind enough to get here at once," was the message.

Alfred hurried to the commandant's office, and met Ralph at the door.


"Too bad; they have gotten the wrong peddler. He is in that room. Look in through the door and see what you think," said Ralph.

Alfred waited and finally obtained a glimpse. "No, it doesn't look like the man we spotted. What was this fellow selling?" asked Alfred.

"There's his pack," said the orderly.

"That looks just like the pack that our peddler had. Same kind of things, too; same strap,—and that flap; well,—I'll bet he belongs to the other fellow, or knows something about him," said Alfred.

"What is that?" said the colonel, as he entered and heard the last remark.

"I just said that this pack is just the same, the flap and the belt are exactly like the one the peddler had that we are after, and although that doesn't look like the man, I wouldn't be surprised if he belonged to the same gang," answered Alfred.

"I have a way that will tell the story," said Ralph. "Where are the things that were taken from him?" he asked.

"In my office," said the colonel; "come in and look them over."

They made a careful examination of the peddler's pockets, and Ralph shook his head doubtfully.

"Where is his money?" said Alfred.

"That's it!" almost shouted Ralph.

The arresting officer was directed to bring in the money, and the moment it was deposited on the88 table both boys stared at the paper wrapped around it.

"I think we know some of the figures on that paper," said Ralph.

The colonel looked at the boys incredulously. "If you do," he said, "I should call it some pretty fine detective work."

"There are figures here," said the officer, unwrapping the paper.

"Do you see 42 there?" asked Ralph.

"Yes," replied the officer.

"Now, right next to it or very near, is there a figure 8, and then 3?"

The officer looked at Ralph in amazement. "That is just what I note here, and in the order you have given," he said.

"Now look for the following numbers, which ought to be up somewhere above those you have just mentioned: 10, 8 and 6. Do you find them there?" asked Alfred.

"Yes," replied the officer. "But there is another amount here, 14."

"That represents the fourteen unpacked aeroplanes," said Alfred.

"What do you know about them?" asked the colonel.

"Joe told me there were that many in the cases," answered Alfred.

"Well, I wonder where that fellow has hidden himself?" said Ralph.

"How did you know about the numbers on that paper?" asked the colonel.


"We saw him put them down; and that is what created the suspicion in our minds," said Alfred.

"One thing more," said Ralph. "May I examine the paper?"

He scanned it from top to bottom, then turned to the colonel. "How many men," he asked, "were in the regiment that came in about an hour ago?"

The colonel turned to the orderly. The latter replied: "890, according to the rolls, if you mean the 23d Essex."

"There it is," said Ralph, pointing to the figures.

The colonel stooped over. "Where is 890? What you are pointing to is 8.90, and it may have reference to the sales he made to the members of the regiment," he observed.

"But he didn't make any sales to any of the fellows there," said Alfred.

"Are you sure of that?" asked the colonel.

"We are both sure of that," replied Ralph, "and what is still more, here is 23 right above it with an X following. Doesn't that mean the 23d Essex regiment?"

"Well, I consider that a pretty piece of reasoning from observation," said the colonel.

The boys turned to the colonel and fairly stared at him.

"I hope I have not offended you."

"No; we didn't feel that way about your remark, but it reminded me of the lesson that the captain of the artillery company gave us one night on the value of observation," said Alfred.


"Bring in the man; I think we have a clear case," ordered the colonel.

He was ushered in and the colonel addressed him. "When did you come into the grounds?"

"About an hour ago," was the reply.

"Were you on the grounds when the Essex regiment arrived?"


"This paper which was wrapped around your money contains an account of the sales you made at various times; is that so?"


"What was the sum total of the sales you made to the regiment?"

He leaned forward and glanced over the paper, as he responded:

"Eight francs and nine centimes."

"What did you sell that brought 23 centimes?" asked the colonel with a scrutinizing gaze.

"Are you sure that 23 meant centimes?"

The man's face paled, and for the first time he hesitated to reply promptly. The colonel gave him no time to collect his thoughts.

"What does the X stand for following 23?"


"Ten what?"

"The profit I made."

"On what? On the 8.90?"

"Yes," was the relieved reply.

"Put him under guard," ordered the colonel.

As the man was led away, Ralph said: "While he is dressed differently, and appears to look91 somewhat unlike the peddler we spotted, I think it is the same man," said Ralph.

"That pack might show something. Do you object if we take out all the things?" asked Alfred.

"Of course not; that fellow is guilty; I am sure of that," said the colonel.

The Spy's Account Book

The goods were unpacked. In the bottom, neatly folded, was the identical suit that the peddler wore when the boys first noticed him.

"He simply shifted suits somewhere in the grounds, and altered his personal appearance. I regard that as very clever, on your part, boys, and the service shall be rewarded," said the colonel.92 "Now, tell me about your adventures since you left Dunkirk."

For an hour the boys were busy telling the colonel about their experiences, their work in the aerial corps, and in the artillery, to all of which he listened with the most intense interest. At the close of the interview the colonel said:

"Where are you now staying?"

"Anywhere, and nowhere," said Ralph, with a laugh.

"Well, you are entitled to a comfortable place, and you shall have it right here. The orderly will see that you are well taken care of; here, Cameron, put up the boys and see that they get anything they want."

"Thank you," replied both. As they were passing out the door, an officer was about to enter.

"One moment, boys; this is Captain Rose, in charge of the Secret Service. We have had an interesting experience since you left this morning, Captain. Go over to the quarter with the boys and they will tell you about it, for I shall depend on your co-operation to convict the fellow."



"Did you notice the colonel said that we could have anything we wanted?" said Ralph, after they were once installed in their room in a wing of the building where the officers were sheltered.

"I hope he won't forget it," said Alfred. "Tell him we want to be assigned to the artillery branch."

"Perhaps we ought to wait until we get through with the peddler, as Captain Rose said the case would come up in the morning," replied Ralph.

"Too bad we haven't told Joe. I wonder where he puts up? Maybe the captain knows," said Alfred.

"We might look him up," replied Ralph, and they were quickly out of the room and prancing across the parade ground toward the commandant's quarters, where the main offices were located. As it was past nine at night they had some difficulty in locating Joe, but he was eventually found, and at eleven o'clock they left the quarters in the rear of the hangars, and marched across the ground in the direction of their building.


Turning the corner they were confronted by an individual who caused the boys to gasp. It was the peddler,—the identical individual they had followed during the day. He glanced at the boys, then turned and hurried away.

"We mustn't let him get away this time," said Ralph.

The man evidently heard Ralph's voice, for he hurried his steps.

"Halt!" cried Alfred.

The man paid no attention to the command.

"Halt or we'll shoot!" shouted Ralph.

The man hesitated, then stopped and turned around.

"Face the other way," shouted Ralph.

The man obeyed. Neither of the boys were armed. It was an awkward position.

"Run for the captain," said Ralph in a whisper.

Alfred quietly walked around the corner and fairly flew across the ground.

"We've got him; come on quickly," said Alfred in excitement, as he burst into the captain's room without waiting for an invitation. The captain was about to retire, and jumped up with a roar of laughter as he recognized Alfred.

"Who is it? What is up?" asked the captain.

"The peddler!" replied Alfred.

"I'll be there as soon as I can get something on," said the captain.

"Then I'll borrow this," said Alfred, seizing the heavy army revolver, "if I may."


He rushed out of the door without waiting to get the desired permission, and reached the corner of the building just as Ralph was shouting: "Halt, I say!"

Evidently the man began to doubt the authority or the sincerity of his would-be captor, for he turned just as Alfred emerged from the corner. One look was sufficient. The peddler bolted for the shelter of the buildings to the left.

Alfred raised the revolver and fired. The man stopped.

"Come this way!" ordered Ralph.

The shot at such a time was sufficient warning for the guards and the officers. They swarmed from all sides, as the boys advanced toward the peddler.

One of the first to arrive was the captain, half-dressed. He was the only one who understood the meaning of the shot. Alfred handed him the weapon, and in another moment the peddler was in the hands of the captain and on the way to the lock-up.

As they marched across the ground the colonel ran up.

"What's this!" he asked the boys, as they were following the captain and the prisoner.

"We have him this time," said Ralph.

"Who?" asked the colonel.

"The real peddler," said Alfred.

The aroused camp soon learned of the work of the boys. It is marvelous how soon things of this character drift from mouth to mouth. Earlier in96 the day the camp knew of the capture of a spy; that seemed to be common knowledge. The incident which had just taken place seemed to be a fitting complement to the happening of the day, and in both instances the boys had a prominent part.

Naturally, the boys had to go to headquarters and relate the circumstances surrounding their latest exploit, so that it was late in the morning before they were able to get to their room and retire.

"I feel a sort of sympathy for those fellows," said Alfred, while dressing the next morning.

"Well, I don't," replied Ralph. "They are mean sneakers; they daren't do anything openly. They ought to be shot if they are really spies."

"There's one thing about this business I can't understand," said Alfred. "I don't think spying is any worse than other things that are done in war. It isn't worse than killing, is it?"

"No; but don't you remember Lieutenant Guyon saying that it was not the doing of a thing, but the way it was done that was wrong," said Ralph.

"Well, I can't see how that helps things in the least. Here comes the captain; he just passed the window. Come in!" said Alfred. "We've been discussing what is right and what is wrong in war. I said that it didn't seem to me to be any worse to spy than to do anything else."

"There is nothing wrong in spying,—that is, trying to find out what your enemy is doing; that97 isn't it. If a man does it openly, and not in disguise, he is protected. It is only when fellows take the guise of a peddler, we will say, that the rules of war decide he is entitled to no consideration and cannot be protected," answered the captain.

"I must say, now that I think of it, that there must be something wrong about the laws that are made to use such an excuse to execute a man. I read in the papers a few weeks ago that one of the war vessels exhibited a neutral flag until the unsuspecting ship got near enough so it could attack. Now, if it was wrong for an individual to deceive, or sail under false colors, why wasn't it wrong for a ship to do that very thing?" remarked Ralph.

"You are right about that, undoubtedly," said the captain, "but, of course, we must be guided by what law is, and not by what we think or know it ought to be. If the peddlers are guilty they must suffer," answered the captain.

"I agree with you," said Alfred. "Of course, those men knew the risks they were taking, and they did it with their eyes open. That reconciles me."

"Yes; and the very thing those fellows tried to do would mean, if they succeeded, death to many of our soldiers, and it is better for two to die than to have hundreds suffer," remarked Ralph.

The evidence brought forth at the trial that day was conclusive. The men refused to make any98 statements concerning their co-operation in the work of espionage, but when the second peddler's pack was eventually discovered, it was learned that each carried a suit, the counterpart of the other.

It was obvious that the arrest of one would enable him to prove an alibi, just as he was prepared to do when the first one was apprehended by the boys, and he would have been successful, too, were it not for the fact that the boys observed the man in the act of taking notes, or jotting down items so systematically, and on several occasions items were put down where no sales were effected.

No time was lost in carrying out the orders of the court and the spies were executed without delay.

The boys remained in the camp for two weeks, and it was getting to be irksome. There seemed to be no occasion for hurry. Soldiers were arriving from England in every branch of the service, and the camp was enlarged by taking in a vast plain directly to the west and adjoining the main camp.

"I wonder if the colonel will forget what he said about giving us whatever we want," said Ralph, one morning.

"We might as well find out," replied Alfred.

Once in the colonel's presence they were quick to bring up the subject.

"You may remember," said Ralph, "that you once told us that we could have anything we wanted."


"I remember it well," he said. "Now, what is it?" he asked.

"Why, we want to join an artillery company," said Alfred.

"And is that all?" he inquired with an amused air.

"Yes; we thought you might help us out; of course, we know we are minors, and Americans, and all that, but we can help out, just the same," said Ralph.

"Yes; that is, indeed, commendable. Your cases are so different from the ordinary ones that it may make the job of getting you in much easier; at any rate, I hope so," he remarked.

"Thank you," said Alfred.

"Now, mind you, I may not be able to succeed, for the War Department is very particular, and we are working under a pretty rigid set of rules, but you have been in the service and are entitled to consideration; and, by the way, won't you tell me how you succeeded in getting in heretofore. Did you have any influence to push you along?" asked the colonel.

"Oh, yes; we had considerable influence," said Alfred with a smile.

"Yes, that's what I wanted to find out," replied the colonel. "How did you work it?"

"Well," replied Ralph, "we simply walked in and went to work; that's the influence we had; they couldn't help but take us."

The colonel leaned back in his chair and roared with laughter, in which the boys joined.


"Maybe it wasn't just as bad as that," rejoined Alfred, after the laughter subsided, "but down at Bar-le-Duc the chances of getting in with the flyers were pretty slim, so we just went into the hangars and asked them what there was to do, and we didn't wait for them to tell us, we simply went to work."

"That's a sample of the way we worked also to get into the transportation service,——"

"So you've been in that, too? Tell me about it," said the colonel.

"Down at Amiens we saw them loading up a military truck, and they looked as though they were rather short of help, so we pitched in and helped fill up the van. It happened we were on the van when it started for the front, and that's where we had a lively experience in taking the vans through Devil's Cut," said Ralph.

"Devil's Cut! I've heard about that! But I imagine there isn't any more trouble in that place now," observed the colonel.

"No, indeed! The big drive spoiled Devil's Cut," said Alfred, "and we helped the artillery to do it, and that's why we want another chance in the same direction."

If there is anything more disagreeable than another, it is waiting. Waiting for something, good or bad, is equally discouraging. In their wanderings they had become acquainted with a quaint corporal, formerly of the British navy, and at that time a trainer for the various gun squads at the camp. Daily guns were prepared and hurried to101 the front, and Walker, the corporal, was always on hand and frequently accompanied the guns as they were sent forward.

"Would you like to have a little outing?" he remarked one morning, as the boys appeared at his tent.

"Yes; anything, to get a change, this is too trying," said Ralph.

Pontooning Heavy Guns Across a Stream

"Well, we are going to send half a dozen heavy guns out the Bapaume road this morning, so along," he remarked.

Six horses were hitched to each piece, and were pulling out, as Walker spoke.

"Jump on this ammunition van," shouted Walker, as he ran forward and seized the stanchions at the side.

The boys needed no second invitation, for they would, at least, have an opportunity to go over a great deal of the ground formerly occupied by the Germans, before the British commenced the Somme drive.


"Why don't you use lorries for these guns?" asked Alfred.

"There is one very good reason," replied Walker. "The bridges are down, and we haven't had time to repair them, and the pontoons are too light for the heavy pieces we are taking across, so we have to adopt an entirely new method," he said, shrugging his shoulders and making a grimace, which, at first, seemed very comical to the boys.

"Then how do you get them across? Is the river very deep?" asked Ralph.

"About ten feet deep, I should say; of course, we can't run them across on their own wheels, but we pontoon them over," he said.

The subject was dropped for the moment, as one of the officers came in at that moment to consult with Walker. The boys seemed to be puzzled at his remarks, and when he returned he said:

"When we reach the end of this road, beyond, we turn to the right, at a point only a few hundred feet from the river. Well, just notice the heavy barrels at the landing."

As the corner was turned they quickly observed the barrels, and men busily engaged with ropes and heavy poles. A gun was run on its wheels close to the river's edge, and five of the barrels were secured to two poles, and lashed forward of the wheels, the poles running transversely. A like number of guns were then secured behind the wheels, also held by cross poles.

All of the barrels were hung higher than the103 tread of the wheels, so that after the equipment, as thus explained, was fully attached, the horses were driven into the river and hitched to the floating gun, while others mounted the float thus constructed, and, with poles, assisted in floating the piece across.

There was not a single mishap, and the six guns were taken over in a brief space of time. The ammunition wagons were taken across by way of the pontoon bridge, crowded as it was, and the entire outfit assembled on the other side within an hour of the time the stream was reached.



The great camp at which the boys were located was south of Albert, a town of about 7,000 inhabitants, at the opening of the war. It was less than ten miles west of the first line trenches at that time. About fifteen miles northeast was Bapaume, and southeast of Albert, the same direction, was Peronne, towns of 3,000 and 5,000 respectively, both within the German lines, and important distributing centers for the armies in that region.

"I do not know how true it is, but the information I have is that the immense preparation going on here, and farther to the north, means a drive on Bapaume and Peronne. If such is the case we may expect lively times during the next three months," said the lieutenant, as they were conversing about the probabilities of taking part.

"What branch of the service were you in?" asked Ralph.

"The artillery; that is the most important by all means, especially in this war," was the answer.

"How is it that you are not attached?" asked Alfred.


"Immediately after the Boer war I resigned, went to America, and engaged in business there. As soon as I could do so I disposed of my interests and came back two months ago. I was sent to this point two weeks ago, where, undoubtedly, I will be called upon to take a part," was the lieutenant's reply.

That evening in their rooms, Ralph remarked: "I think we ought to stick pretty close to the lieutenant; there might be a chance for us there."

"But suppose the colonel fixes it for us?" said Alfred.

"Then we'll go," answered Ralph.

"While we are waiting, suppose we make a trip to the trenches," suggested Ralph.

"When? Tomorrow?" asked Alfred.

"Why not?" replied Ralph.

"Suppose we start early in the morning, as soon as we have breakfast," suggested Alfred.

As they walked across the ground, preparatory to the start, in the morning they were accosted by the captain. "Which way?" he asked.

"Going to take a look at the boys in the trenches," said Alfred.

"I can give you a lift," replied the captain. "Go over to the station and ask for Lieutenant Moore; tell him who you are and that I requested him to give you a place on the goods train.

"That was a happy thought," said Alfred, after they had thanked the captain. "It's good to have friends," he added.

At the station they were disappointed to learn106 that the lieutenant was at the other end of the line. "Where is his assistant?" asked Alfred.

"That's the man over there," said their informant, pointing to a nervous officer on the platform.

"Sorry I can't accommodate you in the absence of the lieutenant," was his discouraging reply to their inquiries.

"Well, shall we walk it?" said Ralph.

"Not as long as the railroad is here; I have gotten out of the idea of walking since the captain made the suggestion," said Alfred, as he looked about.

"That looks as though it might go the right way," said Ralph, as he pointed to a long train and noticed a squad of men closing the doors. While walking across they saw an engine backed up and coupled on the coaches.

"This is our chance," said Ralph.

The conductor gave the signal and slowly the train began to move. Ralph sprang up on the running board, and, calling to Alfred, said: "Just in time!"

"Ay, there! where's your permit?" shouted a voice.

"Permit?" said Ralph. "Permit to get to the front? Well, that's news to me. Did you ever hear anything like that?" he continued.

The latter laughed at the audacity of the remark, but the conductor assumed that it was a species of assurance on the part of the boys, and it caused him to hesitate.


The boys, meanwhile, boldly crept up the ladder and landed on top, where they quietly sat down, with their legs dangling over the side. After the train had gone a mile or so the conductor mounted the last coach and walked forward.

"Hi 'ave me orders to allow no one without a permit," he said.

"Well, you ask Lieutenant Moore whether we can ride or not," said Alfred.

"Hey, but it must be in writing," he answered.

"Yes; we know that; we will get the written permit as soon as we get to the other end of the line where the lieutenant is," said Ralph, with an assuring nod.

"Blime me if this isn't irregular," he said.

"Yes, it may be," answered Alfred. "It isn't exactly regular to ride on top, but we haven't been invited to have a seat in the caboose," said Ralph.

"Caboose! caboose! did you say? Hi never heard of it," replied the conductor.

"Never heard of a caboose?" said Alfred. "That's queer; I thought all railroad men knew what that meant."

"Why, he's never been in America. They don't have cabooses in England. You ought to know that," said Ralph.

"Oh, yes, Mr. Conductor, over in the United States all our freight trains have cabooses on the rear end for the use of the train hands," said Alfred.

"Freight trains! My word, you confuse me. And what do you mean by train hands?" he asked.


"Well, this is a freight train, and your men are train hands," said Ralph.

"Ah! you mean goods train and train crews," said the man.

The boys laughed heartily, as this was really the first opportunity they had for a lark since they reached France.

The laughter seemed to infect the conductor. Two of the train crew came forward, and finally joined in the conversation, and the matter of the permit was entirely forgotten. The conductor turned out to be really human after all. What interested him was the information that the boys were Americans, and when Ralph told them that they were aviators and had been in a fight above the clouds, they fairly owned the train, and everybody in it.

In due time they reached what is known as Siding 8, one of the regular stations on the way. It was a military road, passage on the trains being permitted only by means of written orders. The boys knew this, of course, but they had had months of experience in traveling over roads of this character, and knew the value of bluff and of assuming situations which would be hard to controvert. At any rate they were now sure of reaching the end of the journey without molestation.

They felt sure of this until the train stopped at Siding 8. A pompous individual approached the group.

"That is the inspector," said one of the men in an aside to Ralph.


"I am afraid it's all up with us," said Alfred.

As he neared the group the boys both gave the regulation salute, which was recognized by the officer.

"Where are you bound for?" he asked.

"To the front," said Alfred.

"What front? Where?" he persisted.

"Anywhere; so we get there," said Ralph.

"Where are your permits?" he asked.

"We haven't any," said Alfred.

"Then how did you get here on this train?" he asked sternly, glancing at the conductor, who was now squirming.

"We rode on top most of the way," said Ralph.

"Who gave you permission to do so?" he fired at them.

"No one; we didn't need any permission; we simply got on and here we are," said Alfred.

There was a faint snicker in their rear. The officer colored up. "I will make a report of this," said the officer, glancing at the conductor, and drawing out a book he proceeded to write down the name of the conductor and the number of the train.

"What are your names?" he asked, turning to the boys.

"Now, see here, Lieutenant, you are doing your duty; we know that," said Ralph. "We're just plain American boys with a little deviltry in us sometimes, and the conductor isn't to blame. We have just come out of the hospital after a pretty hot time in the artillery service, and Captain Rose110 at the camp told us to tell Lieutenant Moore that we wanted transportation. At the station we found he was at this end of the line, so we took this means to get the permit from him."

"In the service, eh? Where?" he snapped.

"At Verdun and at St. Quentin," answered Alfred.

The answer seemed to soften him. "I am sorry," he continued in a different tone, "but I cannot allow you to go on without a permit." The boys stepped off the car.

"I would suggest a good way out of the trouble," said Ralph.

"Very well!" he answered.

"Suppose you issue us a permit; that will get us there without further trouble," said Ralph.

"I have no authority to issue permits," he replied.

"Well, then," said Alfred, "suppose you did have the authority to issue them would you give us permission to go on in that case?"

"Most assuredly," was the reply.

The second section of the train was approaching and the Inspector hurried back. The signal was given and the train commenced to move.

"Jump in!" said Ralph.

"Just what I was going to do," replied Alfred. "He didn't fill up his blank to make the report. You are all right," continued Alfred, addressing the conductor.

The latter smiled at the neat manner in which the boys had handled the situation, and the train111 crew had a good laugh at the expense of the inspector.

Siding 8 was just two miles from the trenches,—that is, from the active zone. All along this section were ditches, like vast drains, which were once occupied by the Germans. Cannon were constantly booming, but so common had such noises become that they ceased to attract the notice of the boys. Soon the great lines of tents and temporary barracks were visible. The most intense activity prevailed in every quarter.

The boys left the train as soon as it reached its destination, having in their minds one thing only and that was to get to the front trenches, and, if possible, get in touch with the batteries. They were aware that it was a difficult matter to obtain permission for either of those purposes, but they relied more on the conditions under which they might find themselves, to obtain their ends.

Leading from the station was a road which entered a village. One of the trenches not then occupied, but which had been made by the Germans, extended alongside this road directly through the little hamlet. Several stores were in operation, and at one of them were noticed a half dozen civilians, all discussing means to get a glimpse of the operations near the front.

"It is no use," said one of them. "They will not grant any permits to go nearer, and I understand that the reason is they are preparing to cut their way through to Bapaume."

"That fellow's an American, I'll bet on that."


"Talks like it, anyway," responded Alfred.

"We may have a chance to help in another artillery battle, if what he says is so," observed Ralph. "Hello! what's this?" continued Ralph, as a black and white terrier approached, wagging its tail. Ralph patted it and looked around expecting to find its owner.

"Come on," said Alfred. "We aren't getting anywhere at this rate. We might go through the village and inquire."

The terrier followed, every moment or two friskily coming up close and looking up at them wistfully. They discouraged him by paying no attention to his show of friendliness.

"It looks as though he had adopted us," said Alfred. "Come here, Frisky; do we suit you?"

"I feel mighty hungry; there's a stall. We might get a bite, and we'll get some information at the same time," said Ralph.

They entered the apology called a restaurant, and ordered coffee with rolls and butter. Cold meat was the only other thing available.

"Let's have some of that," said Alfred.

"Where are the nearest front line trenches?" asked Ralph.

"About a mile to the east," said the waiter. "You'll have trouble getting there, since the new orders went into effect."

"What new orders?" asked Alfred.

"To permit no passes," he replied.

"I don't think we need any passes," said Ralph in an undertone.


"Do you belong to the army?" asked the waiter.

"No; but we expect to," answered Ralph.

The meal finished they were about to go, but Frisky danced about them.

"Poor fellow! we forgot him," said Alfred, giving the dog some scraps, which he speedily devoured. That meal sealed a bond of friendship, on the part of the dog, at least, and as they marched out the road to the east Frisky followed, dancing about them continually, and exhibiting his pleasure, dog-fashion, in his newly found friends.

"Is that a guard line ahead?" observed Ralph, as they approached a shed-like structure, and saw a group of soldiers with guns standing near.

"I suppose it is," replied Alfred. "Here is where we make a halt, I suppose."

Alfred was right. No one dared cross the line which extended north and south of the structure. It was the dead line, and there was no hope for them, so as there was no use to argue the matter they sadly turned back, retraced their steps through the village and without any prearrangement turned to the right.

"We might see something from that hill," said Ralph.

"That is just what was in my mind," remarked Alfred.

The narrow road was observed winding around the hill and going up diagonally. Half way to the hill, and at a point where there was a perceptible ascent, Frisky ran forward, barking furiously.114 He stopped at the remains of a ragged fence, beyond which was soon observed the ruins of a low building.

"I suppose that is one of the cottages destroyed by the fighting," said Ralph.

"Frisky is acting queerly," remarked Alfred. "Let us go over." The animal would run around the ruin, then come back, look up at them, and actually seem to want to talk.

"I suppose that is an invitation to follow him," said Ralph.

As the boys passed over the fence Frisky showed his pleasure by emitting a series of short, sharp barks, which he kept up continually, running around as though in the greatest excitement.

"I wonder what he does that for?" said Alfred. "Come here, Frisky, poor fellow!" said Ralph, as he stooped and fondled the little fellow. Frisky nestled up close and gave a peculiar whine.

"I believe that was his home," said Alfred, "and this is his way of telling it. I would like to know what became of the people who lived here."

"Come on, Frisky; we'll take care of you," said Ralph, with a hug.

As they passed out of the enclosure Frisky followed, apparently cured of his singular actions. Half way up the hill they met a tottering old man, carrying a bundle of faggots.

"Do you know anything about the people who lived in that ruined cottage?" said Ralph.

The old man shook his head.


"He doesn't understand English," said Alfred, who put the question in French.

He looked at the dog and replied: "The cottage was struck by the first shell that the Germans fired from yonder hill when they came through here on their way to Paris. The house was torn to pieces and all were killed."

Ralph pointed to the dog. The old man nodded. "He goes up there every day; they can't keep him away. The soldiers have stolen him many times, but he always comes back."

The boys looked at each other in silence. "Come here, Frisky!" finally said Alfred, as he held out his hand. He leaped toward the boys, and put up his paws on each of them in turn, while the old man turned sadly away and shambled down the hill.



It seemed as though every one they met knew Frisky, for some of them whistled to him, and a few tried to entice him to follow, but on the journey to the west of the hill he followed the boys' footsteps, and seemed to recognize no one but them.

"That must be a battery up there," almost shouted Ralph, as he gazed ahead, and pointed to a ridge newly made, apparently, of fresh earth.

"It certainly looks like it," answered Alfred, with enthusiasm, as he bounded forward eagerly to reach the top.

Evidences of the effect of shells now became more pronounced, although holes in the earth and the fallen debris had been noticed everywhere, even before they had reached the hillside.

"It must be a battery of big guns up there," remarked Ralph, as they sat down for a few moments of rest.

"Yes, that last shot sounded bigger than a 75," answered Alfred.

"I wonder what Frisky is doing over there?" said Ralph, glancing across a small ravine to the117 left, where the animal was engaged in briskly pawing the earth.

"I suppose he has treed something; suppose we investigate," replied Alfred.

They quickly found their way through the tangled brush and broken stone down the little hollow and up again to the mound-like structure where Frisky was engaged.

"What have you found?" asked Ralph, as they neared the scene.

Frisky answered with a quick yelp, and kept on digging. Evidently there was something in the burrow before him.

"What kind of animals do they have here in France?" said Ralph. "I don't think I ever saw even a field mouse since we came here."

"No wonder; we've never been anywhere except in spots like this, and it is certain animals wouldn't last long in such places," replied Alfred.

"We might help Frisky out a little," said Ralph, as he grasped a stick, and began to rake out the earth.

While they were at work Alfred was lying with his back against a low mound. He happened to turn around and noticed that the upper part of the elevation was smooth, and contained certain marks and inscriptions.

"What's this?" shouted Alfred, as he arose and gazed down on it.

Ralph, somewhat startled, sprang out of the hollow and drew himself up.


"What have you got?" he asked.

"Here is a mark of some kind; now what can it be?" said Alfred, pointing down to the stone.

"That is singular," remarked Ralph. "A cross, a circle, two arrows, and a set of figures. I suppose it means something, and is there for some purpose."

A German Range-finder

"It may be a surveyor's post; no, that's not the name of it either. What was it the professor called the marking place where they measure from?" asked Alfred.

"I don't know what you mean," said Ralph.

"Why, when they locate a station, or a particular spot and then sight from that place to the next;—what is it called?—oh, I know; it's a bench," said Alfred.

"So it is; I had forgotten the name," answered Ralph.


Frisky kept on digging, and had worked his way in until he was almost hidden.

"I am afraid you will have to stop," said Alfred, but Frisky didn't cease his efforts. "Come on, we might as well reach the top," continued Alfred, walking away.

Ralph gave another glance at the inscription, and turned to follow. As he gazed across the brow of the hill he stopped.

"Alfred," he said, "this arrow points straight to that hill in the southwest; do you see that figure there? I wonder if there is anything in that?" said Ralph.

"I wish I had a straight stick, and then we could tell exactly," remarked Alfred, as he looked around for something to verify the assertion.

"Use a string," said Ralph. "Here is one; wait, and let me stand right over the stone. Now, I'm going to stretch it and hold it parallel with the arrow below. When I give the word sight along the string and see whether or not it crosses the hill in the distance."

"All right," answered Alfred. "Lower the right hand a little; it over-shoots the hill too much; are you ready?"

"Yes; how is it?" asked Ralph.

"Oh, it points down to the hollow left of the hill," said Alfred, "so I suppose the mark must be intended for something else."

"Come on, Frisky; enough of that," shouted Alfred. "Up the hill," and he marched off whistling.


After Ralph started Frisky jumped out of the hole, gave a few discouraging barks, and leaped after the boys.

Within fifteen minutes the motor camp was reached; then great cave-like holes were noticed, stored with huge shells, and numerous smaller caves, in which were men lying about.

"There the guns are," said Alfred. "Well, they have them nicely hidden, and I don't see how the flyers would ever pick them out the way they are arranged."

A guard blocked the way, and a corporal approached. "Your business," he said.

"We are from the 14th French Artillery; just came out of the hospital a few weeks ago," said Ralph.

"Have you authority to pass the lines?" asked the corporal.

"No; we just came over from the field base today; didn't think it was necessary," said Alfred.

"I will report," said the orderly, as he turned on his heels and marched alongside the hill to one of the dug-outs.

An officer approached; the boys saluted.

"From the 14th, I understand," he said. "Any credentials?" he quickly remarked.

The boys looked at each other, for they were now conscious of the fact that they did not have the first evidence to sustain the contention that they were members of the 14th.

Ralph shook his head. Alfred reached into his pocket and drew out the certificate of the physician,121 which detailed the wounding, the detention at the hospital, and the discharge.

The officer examined the paper with some interest.

"We were never regularly enlisted in the artillery, but we helped them out when they had the big drive there a month ago," said Ralph. "It was there we were wounded."

"Here is something that may be just as good," said Alfred. "We did belong to the Aviation corps, and got wounded while serving there, too, and here is our discharge, and the other certificate from the hospital."

"That looks pretty straight," said the officer. "Come in and you may look around for a half hour. At that time the firing will proceed, and no one is permitted closer than the motor house."

"Those guns are the same size as the ones mounted on the dunes at Dunkirk," said Ralph, after a silence, as he glanced under the cover of the first one.

"What do you know about the Dunkirk guns?"

"We were there nearly a week before we went to Paris," said Alfred. "We had an opportunity to examine them while they were hauling them out of the boats and setting them up," replied Alfred.

"Why, that was at the beginning of the war," remarked the officer.

"Yes; it was just after they drove us across northern Belgium," said Ralph.

"Where were you driven from?" asked the officer, in a surprised voice.


"From Antwerp," said Alfred.

"So you boys took a hand from the first?" he asked.

"Yes, from the very first day, and, I guess, from the first hour," said Ralph, with a smile.

"When was that?" asked another officer, who had overheard the remark.

"At five o 'clock, on the 3d day of August, 1914," said Alfred in measured tones.

"Right you are," responded the officer.

As they passed the third giant field piece, the gunners were at setting up exercise,—that is, going through their paces initiating a green squad of recruits in the manoeuvers necessary to load, aim and fire.

"That looks natural," said Ralph, "and they do it well, too; but we never had any exercises except with the 75's."

"Look at that hill over there; they are pointing straight at it; so it seems to me. Isn't that the hill we saw from the bench marks below?" asked Alfred.

"So it is," answered Ralph. Then, turning to the officer, he continued: "Are you bombarding that hill?"

"We are not sure where they are located, but they have a powerful battery somewhere there, and we have tried for two weeks to find it. You see we are three and a half miles from that hill," said the officer.

"You should aim for that hollow directly north of the hill," said Alfred.


Both officers looked at Alfred, who nodded his head and kept a sober face. Both men began to laugh. "What makes you think they have their big battery there?" asked one of them.

"Because we have just been examining the bench mark which the Germans left on the side of the hill," replied Ralph.

"What do you mean? Where?" asked the officers in a breath.

The questions were almost shouted. The excitement attracted others near by.

"That can't be possible," said one of the officers.

"Do you mean," said another, "that the fellows over there left a range mark?"

"Well, we don't know about that, exactly, but in coming up,—here Frisky,—our dog treed something in a hole,——"

"Treed in a hole,—ha, ha,—that's clever!" interrupted one of the officers. The others laughed in unison, and the boys joined.

"Well, that's what we call it, at any rate," continued Alfred. "So we went over to help him out. Right near the hole was a big flat stone on top of a mound, and it had the cross marks on it, some circles, and arrows, and also some marks."

"Where is that?" asked an officer, now thoroughly sobered.

"But what made you think it had anything to do with that hill over there?" interrupted another.

"Because the arrow pointed that way, but when124 we made a test we were disappointed, as the arrow went straight to that hollow place that I referred to, north of the hill. Now, there may be something in that; I don't know," said Alfred.

"That is something worth looking into; accompany us," said the officer.

On the way to the narrow cut which led to the roadway, the commanding officer of the battery appeared.

"What is this I hear about finding a range mark left by the Germans?" he asked.

The matter was explained to him.

"It looks to me like a bench mark," said Alfred, as they walked down the hill.

"So you have been a surveyor?" said the commander.

"No, sir; never did anything in that line, but take lessons; what made you think so?" asked Alfred.

"That happens to be my line, and the term is one rarely, if ever, used outside of the profession," he remarked. "And, by the way, Lieutenant, did you order the theodolite brought down?"

"I did, sir!" was the response.

The party picked their way along the brush, Ralph and Alfred in the lead. Back and forth they stumbled over the hillside, but the longed-for spot seemed to elude them.

"Now, isn't that singular?" said Ralph. "It seemed to be on a rather level spot, and there was a ravine, not a deep one, which we had to cross to get there. It may be further around the hill,125 for we could see across the country to the east from the bench."

Back and forth, up and down, and still it could not be located.

"You are sure it is not far from the road?" asked one of the officers.

"Why, we were so near we could hear Frisky pawing and barking,—where is he now? Hello, Frisky!" cried out Alfred. "Come, Frisky."

There was a short, quick bark to the right, and Ralph waved his cap. "He's over there; he's at the hole now," shouted Ralph, as he disappeared in a gully.

Ralph was observed climbing the steep incline at the other side and the party followed.

"Good boy, Frisky!" said Alfred, as he came up and stooped down to pat the dog.

"That's a remarkable animal; and where did you get him?" asked the commander.

"He adopted us down in the village this afternoon," said Ralph with a chuckle.

The commander threw his head back and fairly shook with merriment at the remark.

"Ah! that's the devoted dog that used to live at the stone cottage," said one of the officers. "I know him now."

"Here's the bench," said Ralph, "and it's through Frisky we found it."

The officers gathered around the stone and examined it with intense curiosity. The sketch of it, which is here appended, shows the marks and the figures. The face of the stone was about fourteen126 inches across and perfectly flat. On this was a cross, the limbs of which were a foot long.

The crosses indicated the cardinal points of the compass; that was evident, as one of them had, at its extremity, the letter N. Two circles were scribed, the center being at the crossing point of the two limbs. One arrow pointed northeast, the other southeast, one having the figure 7 at the point, and 47 across the middle of the body, while the other had 5 at the apex and 52 across the body.

The commander examined the stone intently for several minutes, occasionally shaking his head. Evidently something puzzled him.

"I cannot understand the meaning of the circles, and of the numbers which appear attached to them, namely, 300, 60 and 200. It is possible they may be there as a mere blind," he said.

"Captain, isn't it possible that it may be a bench erected by the French surveyors previous to the war?" asked an officer.

"It is not at all likely," replied the captain. "In the first place, the marking is not such as the French surveyors use; and, in the second place, the arrows are meant to show a point which would be of no value to a topographical survey except for finding certain distant objects."

"Then what do the figures attached to the arrows mean?" asked an officer.

"The apex figures are kilometers, and those on the bodies of the arrows represent meters," answered the captain.

"Well, the one with the 5 at the end does seem127 to point to the hill we have been shelling for the past week," said an officer.

"Put up the instrument and get the exact angle," said the captain.

This was done. The boys' experiments were confirmed.

"It is just two and a half degrees north of the peak of the hill," said the officer, looking through the instrument.

"And it is 5 kilometers, 52 centimeters distant, and a little over, as the plus mark indicates," said the captain.

"Now, if that is the distance to the place over there, we have the exact range also for the other point, 7 kilometers and 47 centimeters beyond. The question in my mind is," said the officer, "has it reference to a battery location?"

"Have you figured out the distance of 5.52 kilometers in miles?" asked the captain.

"Yes; it is a trifle over three and a half miles, or to be exact, 18,488 feet," said the officer.

"You see that corresponds within a hundred feet or so of the triangulated measurement we made of the hill," said the captain.

"One thing is sure, however, that if their big battery is on that hill, or near it, they have some way of protecting it, for they are doing as much damage with it as the first day we started in," said the officer addressed.



"I think it is a very fortunate circumstance that we have found this range mark," said the captain, turning to the boys. "It is a remarkable evidence that your training has been in the right direction. This discovery entitles you to special mention in my report. Take the names of these young men," he said, addressing an officer, "and also the address, so that due credit may be given them."

"Where are you staying?" asked the officer.

"At the main camp north of Corbie," answered Ralph. "Colonel Winston knows us, and he has promised to get us in the artillery."

"Then you really want to be put to work!" asked the commandant.

"Yes; that is why we left the aviation service, after our friend was killed," said Alfred.

"How would our battery suit you?" asked the commandant with a smile.

"Oh, it would be just what we want," answered Ralph quickly. "We can do anything; if you'll only try us."


"Then come along and help us tomorrow when we alter our range," said the commandant.

"Here, Frisky! come on!" said Alfred, as the animal was still pawing and sniffing around. "I suppose he can go along, too, may he?"

The group was immensely amused at the request. "We might make him the mascot of the battery," said one of them.

As they were walking up the hill, one of the great guns resounded, soon followed by another crash.

"How long do you keep it up at a time?" asked Alfred.

"Usually an hour; but I presume there will be no more firing after we reach the battery. The revelations of that stone will necessitate some revision and calculation," was the answer.

Arriving at the dug-outs, the first care of the commandant was to give orders for the housing of the boys, and Frisky was provided with a cozy place.

"I suppose he'll go back to the cottage this evening or tomorrow. The old man said that he returned to the house every day," said Ralph.

There was no thought now of going back to the camp. Their belongings, what few they had, were still there, and the thing uppermost in their minds, after they were comfortably settled, was to devise a way to have them sent over.

"Why not write a letter to Capt. Rose, and ask him to see that they are packed up and sent to us?" proposed Alfred.


A letter was, therefore, prepared, setting forth their adventures briefly, in which their compliments were sent to Col. Winston, with the request that their things should be forwarded.

"How are we to have the things directed?" queried Ralph.

"I will ask one of the men," said Alfred.

"Going to have your things sent here, eh?" replied the man. "Just address Royal Artillery, Hill 406; it will come all right."

"When will this go out?" asked Ralph.

"Tomorrow forenoon," was the reply.

The evening meal was hugely enjoyed by the boys, for they had had a strenuous day. It was the first time in months that they were served roast beef,—the Britisher's dish, and while the hospitals are always provided with the best-cooked food, and many dainties, such as invalids relish, the artillery branch of the service is usually served with the most substantial and regular meals. The infantry always has plenty, but the difficulty is that the poor fellows in the front line can get their food, while a battle is in progress, only at irregular intervals.

Located, as they were, near the top of a hill, far from the enemy, having no fear of unexpected assaults, and only occasionally disturbed by the great shells which sometimes search them out, the artilleryman can dine in comfort on food well cooked in a finely arranged kitchen, usually presided over by a competent chef.

That was why the boys enjoyed the meal, or one131 of the reasons; the other being, undoubtedly, the normal hunger which seems to come to all boys who are in an active and growing stage.

They had potatoes, turnips and salad, and even fruit, as well as tea, although coffee was also served to those who called for it.

"Well! if they don't have real apple pie!" said Alfred, as the dishes were removed for the final course.

"Tarts! my boy! Tarts!" interjected Alfred's neighbor.

"Well, we call them pies," explained Ralph. "When they have a crust on top they are pies, and the little things without any tops are tarts."

This started a laugh, followed by the usual discussion on the different terms used by various people.

"You may be the right one after all," said Alfred. "We lived in England for a time, and I remember once going into a grocery with father who wanted to get some fruit. He asked for a can of peaches, and the clerk replied: 'Ah! you mean tinned peaches!'

"Yes; that was correct," said the man.

"The clerk handed down the article, and the label on the outside said: 'American Canning Co.' I always supposed the goods were canned, not tinned," replied Ralph, laughing.

"My word! I never thought of that before! I dare say you may be right," was the reply.

It was evident from the activity in the camp the next morning that something unusual was at hand.132 At eight o 'clock Ralph burst into the lean-to, which extended out from the hole-in-the-ground shelter, which they called the boudoir, with the startling information that two aeroplanes were hovering about.

"What! are they Germans?" asked Alfred, as he leaped up.

"No, indeed; one is a Farman, and the other is a Bruegot: I imagine from that there will be some special observation work on hand," answered Ralph, as they moved out of the shadow of the trees, so as to get a good view of them.

"Why are they settling down on that side of the hill?" asked Alfred, as an officer appeared.

"That is the only available landing place near by," was the answer.

"Do they come over frequently?" It was Ralph who spoke.

"This is the first time since I have been here," replied the officer. "But we are going to change the range today," he continued, "and we need the flyers to report results."

"I am glad of that," replied Alfred.

"The commandant is very agreeably surprised at your discovery, and is hoping for good results," he said, as he moved away.

"Let's go over to headquarters," said Ralph.

"Why not go down and take a look at the machines?" suggested Alfred.

"That would be a good idea," responded Ralph, as he led the way.

Just then an officer hurriedly marched across133 the open space behind the guns, and, passing the guard line, moved down the hill to the left. The boys followed.

"I suppose that's where he is going," remarked Alfred.

The road made a slight turn at a point below the guard line, and one of the machines was just sighted as it passed the brow of the hill and descended the valley.

"Hurry up! there it is!" remarked Ralph.

"There is the other machine," said Alfred, as he stopped to gaze to the east.

A ten minutes' walk brought them close to the plateau, on which the machines had landed. They followed the officer and were soon alongside the Farman.

One of the men arose from his seat in the machine, held out his hand toward the boys, and shouted: "What are you doing here?"

The boys sprang forward, jumped on the fuselage and extended their hands.

"Lieutenant Winston! sure enough!" said Ralph.

"No! Captain!" corrected Alfred.

"How do you do, Captain?" said Ralph. "I am so glad to see you. You came at the right time."

"Well, it seems you always come at the right time, too," replied the captain, as he reached forward with both hands to welcome them.

The officer now approached and saluted.

"We got our orders this morning to report here134 for special duty," said the captain. "What is up now? Have the Germans been doing you up?"

"Oh, no! Just getting ready to perform that service on them, thanks to the boys," replied the officer, laughing and pointing to them.

"Well, that is interesting; if it hadn't been for these boys I would not have had the pleasure of reporting to you this morning," answered the captain.

"That is certainly surprising news, and the telling of it will please the colonel," said the officer.

The boys were now introduced to Lieutenant Martin, who occupied the seat of observer in the other machine. Together the five ascended the hill and reported to the colonel commanding the batteries on the crest.

The captain and lieutenant entered the commandant's office, while the boys remained outside with the officers.

In a few moments an orderly appeared and notified the boys that the commandant required their presence. As they entered the door the commandant met them with a pleasant smile.

"I am glad to hear about you from the captain. Why didn't you tell me you were friends of the captain here and of Colonel Winston at the camp?" asked the commandant.

"Well, I suppose we had too much else to think about, sir," replied Alfred.

"It is very interesting," continued the commandant. "But we must proceed to business. These boys made a remarkable discovery yesterday;135 I am about to make a test of the information we gained through them, and we need your eyes to help us out."

"No wonder the boys were entitled to decorations!" said the captain, looking at the boys with ill-concealed admiration.

"Decorations?" almost shouted the commander. "Where are they?" he asked the boys.

"Why, we have them in our pockets," said Ralph, amused at the allusion to them.

Alfred drew out his and dangled it. The officers laughed heartily, as the commandant said: "Well, most men would have had them on show all the time."

"Our engineers have made these charts for your guidance," continued the commandant. "We have peppered that section, marked 29, for the past week, but the big guns they have somewhere in that section are just as lively as ever. This sketch shows the bench marks that the boys discovered yesterday on the side of the hill. Our observation of it seemed to confirm the theory of the boys that these arrows pointed to the hidden batteries. We want your aid to ascertain whether or not they are really there, and if you will commence your observation over that section, the guns will begin as soon as we receive your signals."

The preliminaries having been all arranged, and the signals understood so that there would be no errors, the captain and lieutenant at once proceeded down the hill. Fifteen minutes thereafter the two machines began to circle overhead, and,136 having reached the predetermined height, began the flight southeast to reach the depression to the left of the hill behind the German lines.

The two machines soon found themselves antagonized by several enemy ships, but still the flights were made back and forth. With field glasses it could plainly be seen that there was a fight on hand, which increased their anxiety more and more as two more German machines came up from the north.

"That begins to look a little serious for our boys," said Ralph, walking back and forth nervously.

"That makes six machines after them," said Alfred. "But what is that over there?" continued Alfred, as he pointed to the south. "Look at them, Ralph! Are they our machines?"

"Yes! yes! four, five, six, eight; some of them Sopwiths; now there'll be some fun," cried Ralph enthusiastically.

"They'll be there in ten minutes," said Alfred. "They are going up, up; that was Lieutenant's favorite trick; they are doing that to frighten the German aeroplanes away from Captain Winston."

"And it's succeeding, too," replied Ralph. "One of the machines is coming this way; no, it's not the lieutenant, so it must be Captain Winston."

"Order the men to stand at attention," shouted the commandant. "Are they all ready?" he asked after a moment.

"They are ready for the order."


"The captain has just signaled with two puffs."

"Trial range!" ordered the commandant. "Boom! boom!" replied two of the monsters in reply.

The machine turned, and speeded away toward the hill beyond.

"Where are the German ships now?" asked the commandant.

"Nowhere in sight," replied Ralph.

"The other machine must be coming this way," sang out Alfred. "Three puffs to the right, followed by another one."

"One degree to the right!" observed the chief gunner. This order was imparted to the gun crews.

Thus the battle continued for two hours, while the great guns on the hill searched every nook and corner, if there was one, in the depression toward which the arrow on the bench mark pointed.

The machines were returning. It would be impossible for the aviators and observers to continue the arduous duty for a much greater length of time, and as the guns were landing the great shells within the area which it was intended to search out, the new duty would call them the next day.

The guns didn't cease to roar until late that evening. Three great motor vans were constantly moving up and down the hill, bringing the immense shells, and it was a fascinating game to see the manner in which they were handled after they left the vans.


Directly behind the row of guns was a narrow-gauge railway, with a return switch, or siding. Two metal trucks were employed, each truck having a rack which carried six shells which were loaded crosswise. Below the rack was a sort of box, also of metal. Behind each gun was a track, which led to the main railway, and on this short branch was a truck adapted to hold a single shell.

Arrangement of Guns on Hill 203

A stationary rack was alongside of the track adjacent the branch track, capable of holding three shells, so that this rack would temporarily hold the shells as they were unloaded from the carrying truck. As the truck on the main line unloaded its freight, the assistants would throw the cartridge, or the rear part of a fired shell, into the box beneath the racks, and it was thus conveyed back to the vans. The latter would be loaded and conveyed139 down the hill to be transported back to the munition factories.

The loading operation of the huge shells was also interesting, for it must be remembered that some of the missiles weigh nearly a ton. After the tremendous rebound of the gun, the breech block was opened, the opening mechanism being so arranged that the cartridge shell would be extracted automatically, thus preparing the gun for the next shell.



All in the battery arose the next morning with an air of expectancy on their countenances, and this was particularly marked in the demeanor of the boys. Captain Winston was at the camp all night, and the probable result of the cannonading was the all-important topic.

"Do you think, Captain, that we wiped out the big battery over there yesterday?" asked Ralph.

"That is the problem uppermost in my mind," replied the captain. "It was impossible for me to spot any location in that depression, which could conceal the guns, although, of course, as my observations were not less than a mile from the earth, it is rather indefinite."

"Do you think they will have another try at it today?" asked Alfred.

"I understand not," was his reply.

"Then what will be done really to find out?" asked Ralph.

"That is what we are now considering," said the lieutenant. "I do not know what suggestion to make. We have gone over the bench mark and141 are sure that it portends something, but what it is impossible to figure out."

During all this conversation it must not be understood that the guns were silent. It was the custom to change the angle and sweep of the guns continually during these desultory rounds, the annoying thing being that there was no positive way of determining the effect of shots which landed three and four miles away.

"The commandant wishes to see you," said an orderly, addressing the captain.

Directly west of the hill, within the German lines just referred to, and, probably, three miles distant, was a spur of the railroad which led from the main camp ten miles in the rear. For more than two weeks it had been impossible for the British forces to use that road as some hidden battery of Germans, having the exact range, could rake it with heavy shells, and it was, consequently, torn up after each repair trip.

It was generally used in the night to transport troops and provisions, but even that was too unsafe. All the supplies, therefore, for a mile of trenches, had to be conveyed through a section over which there were no roads, by vans, and the entire road was literally lined with machines which were mired. To wipe out the battery or batteries which were doing such execution, was the problem before our battery on the hill.

Furthermore, it must be understood that before an advance could be made, with any degree of success, the location of that battery must be found.142 Once discovered, the English knew that it would be only a matter of hours before it would be wiped off the face of the earth. The great eight-inch guns were there for that purpose.

"I have some interesting news for you," said the captain, as he appeared at the door.

"What is it?" asked the lieutenant.

"The branch railroad was actually pulverized last night," he replied.

Ralph dropped back and slowly shook his head. "I guess," he said, "the arrow means something else."

It was a great blow to all of them.

"Have you the sketch of the chart with you?"

The captain took it out of his pocket with a listless air.

"I am very much disappointed," he said. "If it is in that hollow I do not see how they could possibly be in condition to use the guns during the night. We could not see a trace of tracks to convey the ammunition to the guns at that place if any were there, and our shots fell all over the hollow back for a mile beyond the range indicated on the stone."

Alfred was intently examining the chart. "The commandant was puzzled at the figures 300, 200 and 60, which are in the circles below the arrows. Isn't it likely that they are there for some purpose?" asked Alfred.

"Unquestionably," replied the lieutenant. "Those figures may be the key to the whole reading."


"I'll tell you what I think," said Ralph, rising and walking about excitedly. "I have an idea about that 300. Do you know, Captain, how far it is from the depression where the arrow points to, to the top of the hill?"

"Not definitely; it might be about 450 or 500 feet; possibly more. But why do you ask?" remarked the captain.

"Well, here is the arrow, with the 5 at the head of it, on the right side of the line that runs east and west; and below the cross line and also on the right side is the number 300. Now, my idea is, that if the battery is not found at the place where the arrow points, it must be 300 meters to the right side of the direction given by the arrow," answered Ralph.

The captain arose with just as much enthusiasm in his action. "I believe you have struck it, we must consult the commandant; come on," and he led the way with quickened steps.

"Reading the chart?" said the commandant, with a twinkle in his eye, as the company entered, and the captain pointed to the chart, while the amused smile on the faces of the others plainly indicated that something unusual had taken place.

"It seems to me Ralph has struck it," said the captain.

The commandant reached for the chart. "Do you mean the strange figures in the circle?" he asked.

"Yes; I felt sure those figures were the keys; Ralph seems to have given a turn to a key that has144 possibilities in it; we all know the battery is not in that depression. Might it not be 300 meters to the right of the direction which the arrow indicates?" asked the captain.

The commandant gazed at the chart, and with it in his hand paced the floor, stopping occasionally to fix some feature in his mind.

"If you will pardon me," said Ralph, "it does not seem to me that the 300 has anything to do with the circle, but that its position on the right of the east and west line means something."

"That is the very thing I had in my mind this moment," responded the commandant. "It is most probable that such is the case. But stop; might that not be feet, eh, Captain?"

"Not at all likely, for that would land us somewhere near the top of the hill, and I think you have plowed up that region pretty thoroughly," answered the captain.

"Enough; if that battery isn't 300 meters to the right then we must make another guess. Get your ranges for 300 meters, and we'll pepper them tomorrow," said the captain in a decisive tone. "Before you go, boys, I want to say that you are certainly deserving of praise for your methods of observation; it is exercised in a direction that might be observed with profit by many others."

The boys accompanied the captain and lieutenant to the temporary shed on the plateau next morning, after the final interview had taken place with the commandant.

"The sight of the machines here almost makes145 me feel as though I ought to get back in the aviation service," said Alfred, as he walked around the machine and examined the new improvements that had been added since they were in that branch of the army.

Promptly at eight o'clock the engines started and the machines began their flight. It was a beautiful sight to see them sail across the sunlit fields of France, for it was a lovely morning.

"Ah! this will be a fine day to make observations," said the commandant, as the boys reached headquarters. "I should like to have you here to note the movement of the machines during their manoeuvers," he said, addressing the boys.

Both Ralph and Alfred were accordingly supplied with strong field glasses to aid them in noting the events which would take place. The guns were silent as no orders had been issued for the resumption of the bombardment.

Meanwhile, the airplanes had reached the zone directly above the questionable ground. They could be seen plainly by the boys, circling to and fro over the hill and to the south. In a half hour one of the machines rapidly ascended and started for the English lines.

"Here she comes," said Ralph. "One of them is on the way."

"But where is the other one? I haven't noticed it since they disappeared beyond the clouds," remarked Alfred.

The airplane grew larger, and a single puff appeared. The order was given for the first round,146 and the hill shook with the reverberations. The airplane now circled around, while the guns kept booming, and after the first circle it flew back above the suspected area. Then it disappeared.

The faintest trace of smoke appeared on top of the hill. The commandant saw it. "I suspect," he said, "that they have located some anti-airship guns on that point."

"Yes, we noticed that yesterday," said Ralph.

Suddenly, one of the airplanes came out of the gray cloud and Alfred was quick to announce the fact.

"But why do we not get any signals from them?" asked the commandant.

"The one coming this way is signaling," said Ralph. "Two puffs, so far, but it is very misty; yes, two puffs, and two more, one above the ship follows it. Why, we must be firing beyond the mark."

The gunners were directed to alter the range.

After a half dozen rounds the commandant asked: "Do the signals confirm the range?"

"Not yet,—wait a moment,—I can see a single puff only; it is above the machine; the gunners are all right; there, another puff to the left; if the gunners will aim a little more to the left they will be all right," said Alfred, as rapidly as he could utter the words.

"That machine acts queerly," said Ralph. "What do you make out? Is it the Farman machine?"

"It looks like it," said Alfred. After a few moments'147 observation he added: "Yes, that is Captain Winston's machine. It seems as though he were making a dive. I can't understand it."

"He seems to be coming this way," said Ralph.

"Yes; but he is going down for all he is worth," said Alfred.

It was now evident that the Farman had been hit. It moved through the air like a drunken man, and several times it dove down headlong, only to catch itself and momentarily sail upward again.

"If he can only keep that up for another mile he will be all right," said Ralph, as his gaze was fixed intently on the moving object. The suspense was intense for a few minutes.

"Isn't that too bad!" said Alfred, as he removed the glasses from his eyes. "He's gone! he's gone!" he added in great excitement.

"The machine is now going at a terrific rate of speed. I know what that means," sadly remarked Ralph.

"I believe the captain's all right, after all," shouted Alfred, somewhat cheered up, after he again had focused the glasses.

"Why do you think so?" queried Ralph.

"Because he has again righted the machine; that shows he's all right," responded Alfred.

The machine was now less than a thousand feet from the earth, and was safe within the English lines. Down, down it went, sometimes plunging almost vertically, then again staggering from side to side.

"He's almost down now," said Ralph. "Poor148 fellow; I wish we could go over and see him."

"Take one of the vans, and present the order at the village," said the commandant. "This will give you permission to requisition any conveyance."

The boys fairly flew out of the commandant's office. They sprang into the first motor van which was rounding the corner, Ralph holding up the slip with the red gun on the corner. The man in charge nodded his head in reply.

"Hot work," he remarked. "Any news up there?" he asked.

"Nothing in particular," said Alfred. "We saw one of our machines go down, and are going over to see if he is all right."

"Good luck to you. Hope he is all right."

"Well, that beats me," shouted one of the helpers, seated on the rear end of the van.

"What's that?" questioned Ralph.

"Look at the pup!" replied the man.

"Say, Mister, hold up until I get the dog," cried Alfred.

Frisky had seen the attempt of the boys to steal away. He was following the van at top speed.

"Come on Frisky! Forgot all about you! Here, take hold of him," directed Alfred, as he handed up the animal.

"Where did you get him?" asked the chauffeur.

"He's our war relic. Used to live at the wrecked cottage at the turn of the road; you know, the place down below," said Ralph.


The chauffeur rushed the van down and out along the road leading to the village.

"Which way are you going?" he asked.

"Toward the big hill across the river. He came down in that direction," said Alfred.

"But you're not going to walk there, are you?" he queried.

"Not if we can find any other way," said Alfred.

"Then let me advise you; there's a fellow on the side street that leads past the old hotel, who has some bicycles. You might borrow a couple," responded the chauffeur.

"The suggestion is a good one; thank you," replied Alfred.

They were fortunate in finding the very articles needed. "How much for these two machines for two hours?" asked Ralph.

"Six francs; but you must deposit the value of the machines," replied the man.

"Then we'll requisition them," said Alfred, drawing the slip out of his pocket and presenting it to the astonished man.

He quickly handed back the slip, as he remarked: "You may take the machines."

Alfred then handed him the six francs, and the boys, mounting the wheels, were soon rapidly speeding out the same avenue on which they were halted so unceremoniously two days before. Frisky was at their heels, delighted, no doubt, at the outing. The guard line being reached, Alfred drew out the slip, as he remarked:


"I suppose we can get through this time?"

"Certainly," replied the guard, and then noticing the uniforms they wore, he added: "Who was it that came down a half hour ago?"

"Captain Winston," replied Ralph. "We are anxious to know whether he is all right."

"I hear he is pretty badly mashed up," remarked the guard as the boys again mounted their wheels. "Take the first road to the right after passing the white cottage," he shouted.

The road led down an incline, and they could see the flat country beyond. As they proceeded the road grew worse and worse. The tall trees on both sides of the road had prevented the sun from drying up the way properly, but, probably, that didn't matter much, as it was evident that the horses and few vehicles which passed over it would have kept it in a bad condition at the best.

This road, which was between the first and fifth line trenches, had not been repaired since that section was taken from the Germans. They were at this time less than a mile from the first trenches, and, after passing the white house, they turned to the right.

"Look at the fellows running across the second field," shouted Ralph. "I suppose there is where he landed."

At the eastern side of the meadow adjoining the one on which they noticed the soldiers running, was a fringe of tall trees. Near by, groups of men were visible, and as they neared the place they saw an object high in the trees.


"Is that the machine hung up between the two trees?" asked Alfred.

"It looks very much like it," responded Ralph. "Yes; that is the tail and one of the wings, sure."

It was a struggle to get across the miry field, but they finally arrived. The Red Cross people, who were already there, were rendering first aid to the captain, who was lying on his side, his face pale, and one of his bared arms covered with blood.

"How is he, Doctor?" asked Ralph, as he sprang from his wheel and leaned over.

The doctor, without looking up, answered: "A very bad fall; internal injuries; we may know more in a few minutes."

"Why, that's Doctor Walker," said Alfred.

The physician quickly looked up at the mention of his name.

"This is a strange place to find you boys," he remarked with a welcoming smile.



"Did he land in that tree?" asked Ralph, addressing a bystander.

"Yes, the machine seemed to be pretty badly riddled, and became unmanageable long before he reached the tree; but he went into it at a smashing speed. The officer was thrown out and shot down into that small tree, which broke the fall. If it hadn't been for that he would have been mashed to flinders," was the response.

Shortly thereafter the captain showed signs of recovering consciousness. He raised the uninjured arm, and soon opened his eyes. He glanced at the boys, but did not seem to recognize them.

"He seems to be very much better," said the doctor. "He is bruised up about the same as you were when you were brought to the hospital at Cortier," he said, addressing Ralph.

After a wait of half an hour more, the doctor announced that the patient could be moved, and he was accordingly carried to the van and comfortably fixed on the hammock within.


"So you knew the captain?" inquired the doctor.

"Yes; we happened to be crossing the aviation grounds at Dunkirk, at a time when the captain was aloft, and some part of the machine broke. He had a bad fall, and we were, fortunately, close at hand and helped to rescue him from under the machine," said Alfred.

The captain opened his eyes; he tried to smile, but the attempt died away. Then he seemed to make another effort, and this time succeeded.

"You were right," said the captain in a weak voice. "We found it; report to the colonel. The battery must have wiped them out by this time."

He closed his eyes and was silent for a time. It seemed as though he actually dropped off into a sound sleep.

"What does he mean? Do you know what he is talking about?" asked the doctor, turning to the boys.

The patient's eyelids began to quiver, and the boys quietly nodded their heads. "That was a corker!" continued the captain. "Tell the colonel, by all means."

"What colonel does he mean?" asked Alfred. "The colonel commanding the battery, or his brother?"

"Both, of course," suggested Ralph.

The van started, the boys mounting their wheels and following.

"We are going back to the base camp, and put him in the hospital there," said the doctor.


"That is where his brother, the colonel, is in command," remarked Ralph.

"Yes," answered the doctor.

During the foregoing period of time there was not a moment when the firing on both sides of the lines had ceased. As the boys turned to the right to reach the road, they saw hundreds of soldiers rushing across to reach the third line, and it seemed as though the firing had grown heavier than when they had come out the road an hour before.

"Something unusual is going on," remarked Ralph. "Why are they gathering the machine guns behind those trenches? That is the third line; the second line cannot be more than three hundred yards behind us."

They were about to turn to the east and west road, when the most intense shell fire was opened up on their right.

"Get under cover quickly!" shouted a voice.

The boys turned, but were unable to detect the speaker. "I suppose we must obey," said Ralph.

"Hide? But where?" asked Alfred.

"Wheel down to the hollow," cried Ralph.

The hollow was reached, and in their eagerness they almost fell into the ditch. It was the third line, filled with men ready to do their duty. Frisky tumbled in with a yelp and a growl.

"What's the matter?" asked Ralph, as he picked himself up from the bottom of the trench.

"The Germans are making a counter attack over a front of a mile," was the reply of the corporal.


"Then we are just in time," said Alfred. "Any guns handy?"

The men looked amused at the request. "Well, that's no laughing matter," said Ralph. "We're not here for the fun of the thing."

This prompt answer was an additional cause for merriment, in which both boys joined.

Crack! crack! crack! R-r-r-r-r-r. The machine guns began to speak. The men on each side became subdued, and their faces exhibited set expressions, for they knew that the voices of the machine gun meant an enemy near at hand.

At a little alcove, cut in the side of the trench, was an orderly with a telephone transmitter in his hand. The corporal leaned over to catch his words, for the din was now intense.

"The Germans have taken the first line and are moving the 22d back on the Corbeville road. The third line must hold them until the additional guns are brought up. We shall counter attack in the next section to the south." Such were, in part, the orders and instructions which the operator imparted to the corporal.

"Why, this is the Corbeville road," said Ralph in a tremor of excitement.

"Then we are in for it this time," said Alfred.

"You may have the guns," said the orderly, as the boys stood before him and repeated the request.

There was no time to give orders as to the positions they were to take. Almost instantly there arose a column of troops three hundred feet ahead156 and every man, without an order, leveled his gun across the parapet above the trench and fired as fast as the levers of the guns could be manipulated.

"Fire deliberately!" said the corporal, as he walked along the short stretch of the ditch directly under his command.

The moment the boys began to fire they seemed to be animated with an entirely different feeling. The tremor and excitement had gone, and they were keyed up to the most extreme earnestness. The dark, greyish line on the other side of the field kept moving toward them, but gaps in the ranks were plainly seen. Would they dare charge all the way up to the trench?

They fired and fired and fired, until their shoulders began to ache; then something happened. No more Germans were in sight. What had become of them?

"They are digging in," said the corporal. "Get ready, boys."

"I wonder what that means?" asked Ralph.

"Why, don't you see the Germans have stopped and are digging trenches, and the corporal is going to order a charge to drive them out?" answered Alfred.

The order came sooner than expected. "Ready! Forward! Open order!" shouted the corporal, and he was the first to scramble out of the ditch.

There was no firing now on the part of the British, for they were too busily engaged in springing forward and avoiding the obstructions which beset157 them every foot of the way. If the hidden Germans were firing at them they were not aware of it, for the din was too great to distinguish anything. The singular thing, to the boys, however, was the fact that at almost every step, some one would halt and drop down.

"Halt! Down!" cried a voice. Suddenly the line was prone on the ground. The man between the boys thrust his bayonet into the sod and loosened it, and with his hands quickly built a small parapet in front of him. Looking about they saw others do the same.

"Is that called digging in?" asked Ralph.

"That's one way," replied the soldier. The sod was rolled up and pushed from him, and he dragged himself forward until his body rested in the shallow trench thus made, while the roll of sod in front became, in reality, a protection.

"Ready to repel!" shouted the corporal.

They now understood; for no sooner had the words left the corporal's lips than the Germans sprang forward. Every gun must have cracked at the same time, and the aim was evidently careful, for their first volley caused the line to halt and waver.

"At them, boys! Forward on the run!" fairly shrieked the corporal. Frisky was the first one out of the trench.

Every man was on his feet. As the boys rose to follow they happened to glance back for the first time. The sight that met them created the greatest enthusiasm and confidence, for, climbing out158 of the very trenches they had occupied twenty minutes before, were hundreds of khaki-clad veterans,—the reserves, who had come up to support the counter attack. That banished every fear, if such a thing was lurking within them. At every step, and whenever a favorable object came into view, the gun would be raised and a shot or two given by each soldier, which only slightly impeded their forward movement.

Suddenly there was a tremendous cheer to the right; the boys could see hundreds of men leaping over the brush, and stumbling across the remains of a stone fence. The Germans were giving way, and when the line on their right had passed the ridge and began to rush down the little incline, the corporal cried, "Halt!"

The movement of the troop cut off the only line of retreat of the enemy in front of the position occupied by the company the boys had engaged. They stopped but for a moment only, when the second order came. "Forward march!"

"Kamarad!" shouted several voices, as the forms appeared through the smoke.

"Come forward!" came the order.

Instantly there rose from the ground, as if by magic, dozens of men. They stood up with hands upstretched, and formed themselves together in columns. The lieutenant in charge of the British advance stepped forward, gave a quick command, and the men, now prisoners of war, marched forward and were ordered to halt long enough to permit the officer in charge to point out the detail159 which was selected to take the prisoners to the rear.

The corporal looked at the boys, and they knew that it meant their detail as well. The orderly marched ahead, and the prisoners with the guard began the march to the village two miles in the rear.

As they were about to enter the village, Ralph shouted to Alfred, who happened to be on the other side of the row of prisoners: "Say, we forgot to bring our wheels back!"

The remark brought forth the first ripple of laughter in that party. It was such an unexpected thing. Who cared about a couple of wheels? Escorting prisoners of war to the detention camp was certainly of more importance than recovering a pair of bicycles.

"Never mind the wheels," replied Alfred. "We have better business to attend to just now."

The German lieutenant, who understood the language, enjoyed the remarks quite as much as the guards, for he laughed in spite of the disaster to his troops. Thereupon he and Alfred had quite a conversation on the way.

The village was entered and passed. Frisky now darted from one side of the column to the other and yelped his approval.

"You ought to be ashamed of yourself, Frisky, making fun of these poor fellows," said Alfred.

"No, he oughtn't to!" shouted Ralph, in reply, and the smile faded from the face of the German lieutenant.


The names of the soldiers and officers were taken down, their clothing searched, and one by one they passed into the enclosure to remain until the end of the war, unless exchanged.

"I suppose we are out of a job now," said Ralph to the corporal. "To whom shall we turn over the guns?"

The corporal designated two soldiers to take the guns and cartridge belts. "Before you go, just give me your name and the detachment to which you belong," he said.

"Never mind about that," said Alfred. "It isn't necessary," he added.

"Yes, it is part of my duty; I must include it in my report."

While speaking, Alfred noticed the orderly belonging to the battery approaching. He advanced and handed an envelope to him. Alfred hurriedly opened it.

"The commandant on the hill desires your presence at the battery without delay," said the communication.

"All right! We are ready! Come on, Frisky," said Ralph.

"The colonel's machine is outside waiting for you," said the orderly.

"Well, how did you know we were here?" asked Alfred.

"Colonel Winston, whose machine will take us up the hill, arrived a quarter of an hour ago, with some friends of yours, and when he learned you were not here, sent me down with orders to hunt161 you up. I had no idea you came in with the prisoners, and just stepped over out of curiosity to have a look at them, and thus, fortunately, found you," said the orderly.

"Well, who can our friends be that called with Colonel Winston?" asked Ralph.

"I really don't know," replied the orderly.

"And, by the way, where is Captain Winston? Does Colonel Winston know about the accident to his brother?" asked Alfred.

"I presume that is what brought him over so quickly, for the accident, as you know, happened less than three hours ago," replied the orderly.

The motor car was not long in making the trip to the top of the hill. When they passed the ruins of the cottage, Frisky jumped up onto the seat, gave a few distinct yelps, and then settled back into the seat beside Alfred. It is singular that from the time he attached himself to the boys, there seemed to be no desire in his mind to return to his old home.

"Go direct to the commandant's quarters," said the orderly to the chauffeur.

The commandant and Colonel Winston were at the door as the machine drove up. The boys were out and sprang toward them.

"Is the captain all right, sir?" asked Alfred hurriedly.

"Yes; I left him a half hour ago, very comfortable, indeed," replied the colonel.

"We received the note, ordering us to come here at once," said Ralph.


"Yes; we want to inform you that we have every reason to believe that 300 meters to the right hit the spot," said the commandant.

"Well, we know it was the right spot," replied Alfred. "The German battery there was literally wiped out."

"How did you learn that?" asked the commandant with the greatest eagerness.

"We learned it from Captain Winston; he told us about it since the accident," said Ralph.

"I know it from another source," replied Alfred.

"Where? What?" asked the colonel, in astonishment.

"The German lieutenant whom we captured this morning told me on the way over, that of the six guns they had south of the hill there wasn't enough left to gather up, and that was the main reason why they started the drive that failed so miserably," said Alfred.

"But the orderly said some friends were up here to see us," said Ralph.

"Yes; I brought them over with me; they were afraid you'd get into more trouble," said the colonel, as he opened a door leading into an adjoining room.

Ralph stepped forward with some curiosity on his countenance. He could not speak as his mother appeared and rushed toward him.

"Oh, you're not my boy any more," she sobbed, as she embraced him and held him at arm's length for a moment.


Alfred was no less astounded as his mother first took him in her arms, and his father also put his arms around him.

"What naughty boys you've been," said Alfred's mother. "We didn't hear from you for four months, and once we were notified that you were dead; what a joy it is to see you again!"

"But how they have grown," said Ralph's mother.

"But you must remember, Mother, that they are men now," said the colonel, with a smile.


The Motion Picture Comrades


The object of these books is to place before the reader the unusual experiences of a party of boys who succeed in filming a number of interesting scenes.

The stories are replete with striking incidents on land and sea, and above all they describe with remarkable accuracy the methods employed to obtain many of the wonderful pictures which may be seen on the screen.

The Motion Picture Comrades' Great Venture; or, On the Road with the Big Round Top

The Motion Picture Comrades Through African Jungles; or, The Camera Boys in Wild Animal Land

The Motion Picture Comrades Along the Orinoco; or, Facing Perils in the Tropics

The Motion Picture Comrades Aboard a Submarine; or, Searching for Treasure Under the Sea

12mo. Cloth  50c per volume

201–213 EAST 12th STREET  NEW YORK


The Hilltop Boys; A Story of School Life

Jack Sheldon, a clean-minded and popular student in the academy, gains the enmity of several of the boys, but their efforts to injure him fail. A mystery, connected with Jack's earlier life, is used against him, but he comes off with flying colors.

The Hilltop Boys in Camp; or, The Rebellion at the Academy

A strange situation arises in which an airship figures as the bearer of an important letter. The head-master acts without investigating all the facts, but matters are all finally adjusted to the satisfaction of all concerned.

The Hilltop Boys on Lost Island; or, An Unusual Adventure

The scene now shifts to the West Indies and Jack figures as the hero of a daring rescue. Their experiences in tropical waters form a most stirring narrative, and the young reader is assured of a tale of gripping interest from first to last.

The Hilltop Boys on the River

The Doctor takes a number of the boys on a cruise up the Hudson. An unlooked for incident finds Jack Sheldon equal to the occasion, and what at one time promised to be a disastrous trip for all concerned was turned into a complete victory for our young friends.

12mo. Cloth  50c per volume


The Hickory Ridge Boy Scouts
By Capt. ALAN DOUGLAS, Scout-master

These stories are from the pen of a writer who not only possesses a thorough knowledge of his subject but who is gifted with the ability to describe the various experiences of the Hickory Ridge Scouts so the young reader may enjoy and be benefitted thereby.

The narratives are normal and healthful in their tone—in other words, real scout stories which hold the reader's interest to the last page.

The Campfires of the Wolf Patrol

Woodcraft; or, How a Patrol Leader Made Good

Pathfinder; or, The Missing Tenderfoot

Fast Nine; or, a Challenge from Fairfield

Great Hike; or, The Pride of the Khaki Troop

Endurance Test; or, How Clear Grit Won the Day

Under Canvas; or, The Hunt for the Cartaret Ghost

Storm-bound; or, a Vacation Among the Snow Drifts

Afloat; or, Adventures on Watery Trails

Boy Scout Nature Lore to be Found in The Hickory Ridge Boy
Scout Series, all Illustrated:

Wild Animals of the United States—Tracking—Trees and Wild Flowers of the United States—Reptiles of the United States—Fishes of the United States—Insects of the United States and Birds of the United States.

Cloth Binding.  Cover Illustrations in Four Colors—50c per Volume


The Campfire and Trail Series

1. In Camp on the Big Sunflower

2. The Rivals of the Trail

3. The Strange Cabin on Catamount Island

4. Lost in the Great Dismal Swamp

5. With Trapper Jim in the North Woods

6. Caught in a Forest Fire

7. Chums of the Campfire

8. Afloat on the Flood

9. The Cruise of the Houseboat


A series of wholesome stories for boys told in an interesting way and appealing to their love of the open.

Each, 12mo. Cloth 50c per Volume



1. Phil Bradley's Mountain Boys

2. Phil Bradley at the Wheel

3. Phil Bradley's Shooting Box

4. Phil Bradley's Snow-Shoe Trail

5. Phil Bradley's Winning Way


These books describe, with interesting detail, the experiences of a party of boys among the mountain pines.

They teach the young reader how to protect himself against the elements, what to do and what to avoid, and above all to become self-reliant and manly.

12mo. Cloth  50c per Volume, Postpaid



Six real stories for small boys, each complete in itself, telling about the many interesting doings of "Toad" and "Chuck" Brown, and their friends, "Fat," "Reddy" and others.

The books are written so the boy may read and understand them and the action faithfully portrays boy life in a small town.


"Toad" and "Reddy," by good fortune, each earn two tickets to the circus, although they find watering elephants a harder task than it at first seemed. A jolly party of boys visit the circus.


Dad's story is followed by an unexpected visitor who at first startles then interests all of the little party gathered around the fireside.


Did you ever go to a picnic in a large farm wagon, filled with boys and girls? Then did you catch a fine lot of trout and broil them before a camp-fire? "Toad" and "Reddy" did these very things and had a day long to be remembered.


Daddy Williams' Toy Shop is the center of interest to "Toad" and his friends long before Christmas arrives. They plan a surprise that brings joy to a poor family. The boys erect snow forts and the two sides have a battle royal.


"Toad's" grandmother invites him and "Reddy" to spend a month in the country. Their experiences at Sunnyside farm, with its horses, cows, pigs and chickens, are most entertainingly told, and they have the time of their lives boating, swimming and fishing in the creek.


For many days the boys had been looking forward to the party to be held at Toad Brown's house, but the evening finally arrived and a number of new games were played, although a few things happened which were not on the program.

Illustrations in Color  12mo. Cloth  40c per Vol., Postpaid

THE NEW YORK BOOK CO., 201 E. 12th St., New York


Six delightful books for the smaller girls, each a complete story in itself, describing in simple language the interesting experiences of Beth, Mary and Jerry, three little maids of Merryvale.

Beth's Garden Party

The three girls take part in a very formal little affair on the lawn of Beth's home, and each of the guests receives a present. The drive home in Beth's pony cart furnishes a few exciting moments, but Patsy bravely comes to the rescue.

A Day at the County Fair

The girls are taken to the fair in a motor, but a slight delay occurs on the way. How they finally arrived at the fair ground and their amusing experiences are most entertainingly told.

Geraldine's Birthday Surprise

Geraldine, whom we know better as Jerry, plays hostess to her many friends, although it must be admitted that her guests knew of the affair before she did. A jolly evening is spent by the girls which is shared in by our young Merryvale boy friends.

Mary Entertains the Sewing Club

Mary has the club at her home, and the efforts of the members cause many outbursts of merriment. The girls hold a "fair of all nations" for the benefit of the Merryvale Day Nursery, and their plans succeed beyond their expectations.

Merryvale Girls at the Seaside

The three girls are invited to the light-house where they see many wonderful things. A luncheon on the shore and days spent in sailing with the captain make their visit a round of pleasure.

Merryvale Girls in the Country

A real old-fashioned farm affords the girls a most enjoyable time and every hour is filled with delightful experiences.

12mo. Cloth.  Illustrations in Color.  40c per Volume, Postpaid

THE NEW YORK BOOK CO., 201 E. 12th St., New York

Transcriber's Note

Obvious typographical errors have been silently corrected. Variations in hyphenation have been standardized but all other spelling and punctuation remains unchanged.

"List of Illustrations" made complete.

Pg. 53, 56, 57: Added captions to the illustrations.