“Very well,” assented the captain. “You may stay until morning, at least.”
“Thank you, sir,” replied Franz, saluting. He knew in his heart that he would never give in, no matter how his ankle hurt, and the pain was not inconsiderable, either.
There came a reaction after the fierce fighting of the morning and early afternoon, and when night came, and the lads, with only a short period of rest, had to go out on sentry or other duty, there was a weariness of body, and a queer feeling of the mind, that did not make the occasion one of pleasure.
But duty was duty and it had to be done.
Jimmy and Bob had an advanced listening post, and they took their positions about ten o ’clock that night. It was dark and a drizzling rain was falling.
“I’d much rather go to bed in a dugout,” declared Jimmy, stifling a yawn.
“Same here,” agreed Bob. “Say, what do you s’pose happened to Maxwell, anyhow!”
“Can’t imagine, unless he’s been killed or captured. If he was within our lines some one would have heard of it. Or perhaps they wouldn’t either, in all this excitement. It may take two or three days to locate him, if he’s alive.”
“And if he isn’t—or is a prisoner?” suggested Bob.
“Then good-bye to our thousand dollars,” sighed Jimmy.
“I’m thinking of poor Iggy, too,” said Bob, after a pause. “Do you think he has any chance!”
“Well, he didn’t appear to be badly wounded. But if his spine is broken he’ll never fight again, and may not live very long. That’s a fierce state of affairs. How he escaped being killed outright is a wonder to me. You ought to have seen him after Roger and I dug him out,” and in a whisper, for loud talking was forbidden, he related the scene in the shell hole.
He had scarcely finished his narration when Bob peered out from their improvised shelter and seemed to be looking at something intently—that is, as intently as he could in the rainy darkness.
“What is it?” asked Jimmy cautiously.
“I don’t know,” was the answer. “But someone, or something, is crawling this way. Look right straight ahead. See it moving?”
For a moment Jimmy could see nothing. Possibly this was because he strained his eyes too much, but of course he was looking out into a darkness so black that it seemed to swallow up everything. And there was rain, too, a misty, drizzling rain, which alone would have hampered vision. Then Jimmy closed his strained orbs, and when he opened them again his vision was nearer normal.
“Do you see it yet?” whispered Bob. “Squint along my finger.”
Jimmy did so.
“You have pretty good eyes to see anything in this blackness,” he was saying when he suddenly became aware of something moving out there among the holes caused by the American shells.