Mason, who was leading the other four, since the death of the lieutenant, stumbled and fell twenty feet away from the red mill. One of his companions assumed the lead of the three who were left, and Jimmy and his four chums now converged with these four in a rush toward the open portal.
They were now out of range of the guns, which could not be turned at such an angle as to rake them. But hard fighting was yet to come.
“Wait!” shouted Jimmy, as he reached the threshold of the door, and saw, to his left, a group of Huns about a gun that seemed to have jammed. And not all the Huns were alive, either, showing that the fire of the attacking party had done part of its work.
With a quick motion Jimmy threw a hand grenade into the midst of the German crew, at the same time falling back himself behind the door post, and pushing Bob, who was now next him, into the same safe position.
There was a roar as the grenade burst, and smoke, for the moment, obscured the scene. When it was blown away, drifting through the doors and windows, there was no longer a German machine-gun crew, and all that remained of the gun was torn and twisted metal.
Jimmy’s quick action with the hand grenade had saved fierce fighting for possession of the weapon. But the other remained—the second on the other side of the main door of the mill. To this some of the gallant lads gave their attention. With wild yells they rushed at the German crew, and to their credit—if credit it be—let it be said that these Huns did not cry “Kamerad!” They were ready for a fight and they got it. It was a case of cold steel, and there were no better exponents of that mode of fighting than the American lads.
There was a short and bloody conflict and then it was over. But at sad cost to the attacking party. Of the sixteen that had started to wipe out the machine-gun nest in the old red mill, the five Brothers alone were left alive, and, save for slight flesh wounds, which all of them had, they were not seriously injured. No, I am not quite correct in saying that only these five were left alive. There was one other, a lad named Blakeley from New Jersey. But he was so badly wounded, by a bayonet thrust from a German, that his death was only a question of minutes.
He managed, before he passed away, to whisper a message to his loved ones at home, and this Jimmy Blaise undertook to send by letter.
“And now, let’s see what’s next to do,” murmured Roger, when the dead lad had been reverently laid with the other Americans killed in the mill.
“I don’t believe we’re going to have much choice,” said Jimmy, grimly, as he pointed through the window.
“Why?” asked Roger.
“The Germans have surrounded the place,” was the answer. “We’re trapped—that’s why!”
For a moment Jimmy’s companions did not quite understand him. Was he perpetrating some grim joke, or had he received an injury on the head that made him irresponsible?