UNDER FIERCE FIRE
There were so many sorts of good news possible for Jimmy to have brought back from the former headquarters at the rear that, for a moment, his three chums did not know what question to put next.
The war might be over, though until the Germans were worse whipped than they then were there would be poor satisfaction in that, reflected Roger.
It was Bob, however, who blurted out:
“Is Iggy all right?”
“You said it!” cried Jimmy, dancing around “like a venerable ostrich,” as Bob said afterward. “He isn’t all right, exactly, for he’s pretty badly mussed up. But he’s not going West, and if that isn’t good news I don’t know what is!”
“That’s the best news you’ve given us since you said the soup kitchens were on their way the day after the big fight,” declared Schnitz. “How much is he hurt?”
“Well, really not any at all, except for some bad bruises, and he says they’ll be better in a day or so. No internal injuries that the doctors can find, and outside of the bruises and scratches—and he has them in plenty—he’s as good as any of us.”
“But how in the world did it happen?” asked Bob. “Didn’t you see him with his head all caved in and his spine broken?”
“Well, I thought I did,” admitted Jimmy. “But the fact is that the blood on his face, as I guess I told you before, came from a man who was killed by a shell, right in front of Iggy. And that numb feeling of his legs was because they were both ‘asleep’. You know, when you lie too long on your arm, or keep your leg in a cramped position. He got all over that after he’d been in bed a few hours.
“You see the stuff that caved in on him, after the shell exploded, formed a sort of arch over his head, and took the weight off his face. He’d have been dead except for that. But he’s practically all right, and will be back with us soon. He’s crazy to see you fellows. I thought he’d kiss me, the way some of the Frenchies do when they get excited.”
“Well, we’ll go to see him as soon as we get leave,” decided Bob.
“Don’t think I’m asking this because of the money involved,” said Schnitz, a little later, “though we all agree that it’s fine and generous of you to have offered to whack up. But did you hear anything of Sergeant Maxwell?”
“Not a word,” declared Jimmy, “nor the missing five thousand francs, either. Both have mysteriously disappeared.”
“What’s the official report on the serg.?” asked Roger.
“Just missing—that’s all,” said Jimmy, simply. “I made inquiries about him as soon as I had located Iggy in a hospital. Sergeant Maxwell is down as missing. Of course, there’s no report about my money. In fact, we five, and the serg. himself, are the only ones who know about it.”
“Missing,” mused Bob. “Does it say without official leave, or anything like that?”
“No, it doesn’t,” went on the owner of the five thousand francs. “He isn’t classed as a deserter—yet.”