“True; I had forgotten.”
Other officers Dick invited to join him, but all had duty of one kind or another, or else home letters to write.
“Did I hear you say you were going to take a walk, Prescott?” asked Major Wells.
“Yes, sir. By any great good luck are you willing to go with me?”
“I’d like to, Prescott, but as it happens there is the school for battalion commanders to-night. A talk on trench orders by the brigadier is listed, I believe.”
“I’m afraid I shall have to go alone,” sighed Dick “Yet I’ve half a mind to stroll over to company office and invent some new paper work. With every one else busy I feel like the only slacker in the regiment.”
“If you really go alone,” suggested the major, “perhaps you could combine pleasure with doing me a favor.”
“My horse hasn’t had any exercise for three days. I’d be glad if you’d take him out tonight, if it suits you.”
“Nothing could please me better, sir,” Dick cried eagerly, for he dearly loved a horse.
“How soon will you be ready?”
“At once, Major.”
“Then I’ll send around now for the horse.” Just a few minutes later an orderly rode up, dismounted, saluted and turned the saddled animal over to A company’s commander.
“This is luck, indeed!” Dick told himself, as he felt the horse’s flanks between his knees and moved off at a slow canter. “I wonder why I never tried to transfer into the cavalry.”
While waiting for the horse he had telephoned the adjutant, stating that for the next three hours he would be either in camp or in the near vicinity.
After being halted by three outlying sentries Prescott rode clear of the camp bounds, riding at a trot down a moonlit country road. Vinton was the nearest town, where soldiers on a few hours’ pass went for their recreation out of camp. The road to Vinton was usually well sprinkled with jitney busses conveying soldiers to or from camp, so Prescott had chosen another road which, at night, was likely to be almost free of traffic of any kind.
“As this is the first evening I’ve had off in three weeks I don’t believe I need feel that I’m loafing,” Dick reflected. “It’s gorgeous outdoors to-night. There will undoubtedly be plenty of moonlight in France, but there won’t be many opportunities like this one.”
Finding that his horse was sweating, Dick slowed the animal down to a walk. He had ridden along another mile when, near a farmhouse he espied a soldier in the road, strolling with a young woman.
As the horse gained upon the young couple the soldier glanced backward, then swung the girl to the side of the road and halted beside her, drawing himself up to attention and saluting smartly. The man was Private Lawrence of his own company.
“Good evening,” Dick nodded, pleasantly.
“Good evening, sir,” replied the private.