Another bald effort was made to force him to answer questions, but Dick gave evasive replies that carried no information.
“Take the fellow to the officers’ section,” ordered the man at the desk, at last.
So through a dark yard Prescott was led between rows of prisoners sleeping on the ground. Some of them, too cold and miserable to sleep, stirred uneasily as the newcomers passed by.
It was the same in the officers’ section. Though the night was cold, all prisoners were sleeping on bare ground in the open.
There were some four hundred prisoners in this lot, all French except Prescott.
In the officers’ section he found some twenty men, also all French. Two of them sat up as Dick entered.
“Hola!” cried one of them in his own tongue. “You are an American?”
“Yes,” Prescott admitted.
“Come and join us. We have the best bed in this camp.”
“It looks as if it might be hard,” smiled Dick, glancing down at the men.
“Hard, but not so bad, after all,” replied the other officer. “See, we have removed our overcoats and spread them on the ground. And we have two blankets over us. Come under the blankets with us, and we shall all be warmer.”
Dick hesitated. He wondered if he wouldn’t be crowding them out of their none too good protection against the night air.
“If you get in with us,” urged the first, “it will make us all warmer.”
On the face of it that looked reasonable, provided he did not crowd either out under the edge of the blankets.
“Oh, there will be plenty of room,” one of them assured him. “We can lie very close together. And you have no blanket if you sleep by yourself.”
So Dick allowed himself to be persuaded. Then, to his surprise, they insisted that he get in the middle between them. This, too, he finally accepted, but repaid them in part by taking off his trench coat and spreading it over the blankets in such a way that all three gained added warmth from it.
“How long have you been here?” Dick asked.
“Two weeks,” replied one of the pair. “It is a wretched life. Had I known how bad it was I would have forced my captors to kill me.”
That was cheering news, indeed!
“We must sleep now,” spoke the other officer. “There is little sleep be to had here in the daytime, and then we can talk.”
Dick lay awake a long time. A prisoner in the hands of the Huns! All he had heard of the wretched treatment accorded prisoners by the Germans came back to him. At least he had the satisfaction of knowing that he was not a prisoner through any act of his own.
ON A GERMAN PRISONER TRAIN
At last he fell asleep. When he awoke the sun was shining in his face. He was alone, for his bed-fellows of the night were already astir. They had tucked him in as warmly as possible before leaving him.