But with the advent of the foe the Americans opened such a fire from rifles, hand grenades and light artillery, while the scene was illuminated by flaring lights, that the Huns were almost completely wiped out. A number of prisoners were taken, for the Boches, once they found the tide of battle going against them, threw down their guns and cried: “Kamerad!”
Sharp as was the fighting, it was only a slight incident in the great war. Such skirmishes, or trench raids, were occurring all along the Western front every night. But slight as it was it took the lives of several gallant American lads, and a number were wounded. Roger Barlow received a slight flesh wound, but he refused to go back to the dressing station, insisting on getting back into the fight when his hurt had received first-aid treatment.
“The only trouble was, though,” Roger said later, “that the scrap was all over when I got back from the first-aid post. Pity you fellows couldn’t have kept it going until I could join you.”
“Better to have it over with sharp and sudden than drag along,” replied Jimmy. “They killed poor Baker right in front of me,” he added, naming a “bunkie” of whom he and the five Brothers were very fond. “I might just as well have received that bullet.”
“Yes. It’s a queer world,” mused Bob. “If it hadn’t been that Franz went out against orders and got information, we might all be dead now.”
And this was true.
Once more silence settled down over the trenches, but it was now almost morning, and with the breaking of dawn the rain that had been a drizzle all night settled into a steady downpour.
“Not much fighting to-day,” decided Roger, when the four Brothers were at breakfast together—and a cold breakfast at that, for there was no fuel to heat the coffee, though word went around that the traveling kitchens were on their way toward the trenches.
Roger was right. Each side consolidated its positions, and each seemed waiting for what the other might do. This state of affairs continued for three days, during which the rain lasted. Save for an occasional artillery duel at night, precipitated often by some nervous sentry firing his rifle, there was no actual battle.
At the first chance, when he was off duty, Jimmy secured permission to go back to their former headquarters.
“I want to find out about Iggy if I can,” he said, “and also make inquiries about Sergeant Maxwell and that money I owe you fellows.”
“You don’t owe it to us!” declared Roger.
“I sure do!” was the answer. “Just as much as if I’d borrowed it from you!” declared Jimmy. “And I’m going to pay up, too!”
He returned from his little trip much sooner than his comrades had expected. There was a joyous light in his face as he greeted them, and cried:
“Good news, fellows! Good news!”