“Wild horses couldn’t keep me away, if I can get across,” Jack told Bessie, as he was squeezing her little hand at separating. “But then you never know what’s going to happen these days. All sorts of things are possible. If I do start across the big pond you’ll hear of it, Bessie.”
Jack looked back and waved his hand to the little group standing in the door of the dugout. He seemed much more cheerful than earlier in the evening, Tom thought; and as that had been one of his motives in getting the other across from the aviation camp he felt satisfied.
“And now for business,” he remarked as they made their way along, with a frequent bursting shell giving them light to see any gap in the road into which they might otherwise have stumbled.
Fritz was unusually active on this particular night, for some reason or other, for he kept up that hammering hour after hour. It might be the German High Command suspected that the Americans were ready to make a more stupendous push than had as yet been undertaken, with the idea of capturing a whole division, or possibly two, before they could get away; and this bombardment was continued in hopes of discouraging them.
The two Air Service Boys did not bother themselves about this, being content to leave all such matters to those in command. They had their orders and expected to obey them to the letter, which was quite enough for them.
Once more in their dugout, Tom and his comrade crawled into their limited sleeping quarters simply to rest, neither of them meaning to try to forget themselves in slumber.
When the time came for action they were soon crawling out of the hole in the ground. As pilots came and went unnoticed, each intent on his individual work, their departure caused not the faintest ripple. In fact, there were two other airmen who also came out and joined them when making for the place of the temporary canvas hangars, they, too, having had secret orders concerning this same night raid.
Arriving on the open field, they found a busy scene awaiting them. Here were mechanics by the score getting planes ready for ascension. The hum of motors and the buzz of propellers being tuned up could be heard in many quarters.
Those sounds always thrilled the hearts of the two boys; it seemed to challenge them to renewed efforts to accomplish great things in their chosen profession. When, however, they reached their own hangar and found a knot of mechanics working furiously, Tom’s suspicions instantly arose.
“What’s wrong here?” he asked the man who was in charge of the gang.
“There’s been some sort of ugly business going on, I’m afraid,” came the reply; “for we’re replacing several wire stays that look as if they’d been partly eaten by a corrosive acid. Smacks of rank treachery, Sergeant.”
THE AIR RAIDERS