“We’ve got to get that gun!” cried the lieutenant. “Volunteers wanted to rush the red mill! Who’ll come with me?”
Characteristic it was of the lieutenant to ask who would come with him. American officers do that. A German would have said “Go!” The American said “Come!”
And characteristic it was of the Sammies that everyone within the sound of the young officer’s voice answered, as one:
“Keep your heads down! You may get them knocked off soon enough when the rush comes,” went on the lieutenant, for in their eagerness to answer and be selected for the dangerous mission, some had partly raised themselves from their prone positions.
“There’s no question but that’s a German machine-gun in that old mill; is there?” asked the lieutenant.
“Here’s one of the bullets, sir,” replied Roger, tossing over one that had penetrated the earth near where he was lying, and come out after striking a stone. “That’s a bit of Hun lead all right.”
He tossed it over to the officer, who was stretched out in the young, green grain near by.
“Yes, that’s German all right,” was the answer. “It’s larger than ours. I thought perhaps some of our men might have gone in there to pepper the Huns. Well, we’ve got to get it—that’s all.”
“And soon, too,” murmured Jimmy. “Whew! This is fierce!”
A hail of lead from the weapon in the old red mill drew this exclamation from him. Fortunately the men were low enough to escape the worst of the firing, but some were wounded and one killed.
“There’s two guns in that mill, sir!” called Franz, who was lying near Bob. “They’re both firing together.”
“You’re right,” was the lieutenant’s comment. “Well, so much the more work for us to do. How many of us are here?”
It developed, by an improvised roll call, that there were fifteen, including our five Brothers. With the lieutenant who was in immediate command, there were sixteen.
“We’ll all go!” was the officer’s decision. “Fill your magazines, get your hand grenades where you can reach ’em and be ready for the rush. It’s got to be a rush, and I hope it lasts long enough for some of us to get there,” he added soberly. “Boys, it’s a desperate chance we’re taking, but a machine-gun nest there may hold up the advance. Maybe it is holding it up. We’ve got to clean out the red mill!”
“We’re with you!” cried Jimmy and the others.
And, as he spoke and the others cheered their assents, there came another burst of fierce fire from the machine-guns hidden in the old red mill. But there was too much elevation and the bullets, this time, flew harmlessly over the backs of the Yanks.
“Now for it!” cried the lieutenant. “They may have to put in a fresh belt of cartridges, or the guns may have heated or jammed. We’ll take a chance. We’ll make three lines of five each. I’ll lead one, and there’ll be six in that. Blaise, you take four men, and Simpson, you take four. We’ll spread out—fan shape—and don’t stand upright—run crouching. Now, Blaise and Simpson, pick your men, and give me the word when you’re ready.”