Of course Jack had to have his slight wounds attended to, and in order to make sure that he had not neglected this before going off, Tom, during the morning, found it absolutely necessary to wander over to the field hospital, where of course he looked up Nellie.
Really it took almost a full hour for him to make all the inquiries he considered essential; and he might have consumed a still longer time but that there was a call for the nurse’s services, and she had to excuse herself.
“Never mind,” said Tom grimly to himself, as he made his way back to the old dugout, “it was well worth the walk. And Nellie is looking fine, for a fact. They call her the most popular nurse at the front, and I’ve heard fellows in plenty say that if ever they got knocked out by Hun bullets they’d want nothing better than to have her take care of them.”
He did not find Jack anywhere around when he got back, nor had those he asked seen anything of him since early morning. Of course Tom knew what it was that engaged the attention of his comrade, and he only hoped Jack might not meet with any bad luck in his endeavor to learn something of the movements of his cousin, Randolph Carringford.
Then came the afternoon. From indications Tom fancied that would be their last night in the old dugout. The Huns were still falling back, and word had been going around that by another day the Yankees would undoubtedly occupy the village that lay just beyond the hills where the bursting shrapnel had ascended on the occasion of the passage of the air squadron.
It was about four o’clock when Tom sighted his chum. Jack’s face was gloomy, and he lacked his customary sprightliness of walk.
As he came up he tried to smile, but it was a rank failure.
“Well,” he said disconsolately, “the very worst has happened, Tom. I’ve managed to get word after trying for hours, and have learned that my cousin sailed yesterday from Havre. He’s beat me to it, and I’ve lost out!”
“Are you sure about that?” asked Tom, though at the same time realizing that Jack was not the one to give in easily, and must have used every avenue for gaining information before reaching this condition of certainty.
“There’s not the slightest reason to doubt it, I tell you, Tom,” Jack replied slowly, shaking his head at the same time to emphasize his sorrowful feelings in the matter. “I asked particularly, and the word came that a passenger named Randolph Carringford had sailed yesterday on the La Bretagne for New York.”
“Then that point seems settled,” admitted Tom, though disliking to acknowledge the fact. “Still, something might happen to prevent his reaching New York City, or Virginia.”
“What could stop him, since I’m utterly powerless to do anything?” asked Jack, still unconvinced.