And now the big guns began their chorus. With boom and roar, roar and boom they sang their anthem of death. The rattle of rifles came in as a response, and all this was punctured by fiendish yells.
Then, too, from the German lines, came the answering song of the big guns. Though the attack had taken them by surprise, they were not slow in responding. With all that we think of the Boches we must give them credit for being savage, if unfair, fighters. They seldom declined a challenge, at least on the front lines.
“Come on! Come on!” yelled Jimmy.
“Up and at ’em! Up and at ’em!” snapped Roger.
“Wow! This is going to be some fight!” exulted Bob.
It was fast growing light, and the disappearing darkness was further illuminated by the flashes from hundreds of guns. Lines of khaki-clad Sammies were pouring from the American trenches now, in a mad rush for the Hun positions.
“Well, we’re together yet, anyhow,” mused Jimmy, as, looking back, he saw Bob, the Polish lad, and Franz coming on with a rush.
“Yes, we’re together—yet,” added Roger. They both had been firing madly at the distant gray lines of German soldiers in front of them. They had to yell into each other’s ears to be heard above the din.
Suddenly the very earth seemed to drop away from under their feet. They felt the shock of rushing air. A big, high-explosive shell had dropped near them.
“That’s bad!” shouted Jimmy, as the concussion died away. He looked behind him and saw, with horror, Iggy, the Polish Brother, literally being blown back through the air. Whether this was the effect of the big shell that had exploded, or whether it was caused by a smaller one going off a moment later, Jimmy could not tell. But he saw Iggy hurtling through the air, and the face of the Polish lad was covered with blood, as he himself had said it had been in his dream.
TO THE RESCUE
“Go on! Don’t stop! Slam at ’em!”
It was the sharp command of the lieutenant in immediate charge of the detachment including Jimmy Blaise and his comrades.
“Forward! Forward!” was yelled on every side.
The din continued—increased. It seemed as though there could be nothing left whole on earth again; in all that riot of noise and blood—as though everything must be rent to pieces.
“Are you all right!” cried Jimmy in the ear of Roger.
“Yes. Not scratched yet. How about—”
A loud explosion to one side cut off his words in a blast, but Jimmy knew what his chum wanted to say. When there was a momentary lull he answered:
“Yes. I had a glimpse of him being blown back—his face was all red—bloody.”
Roger could not repress a shudder. But there was no time for any thoughts like these. He had a glimpse of Bob Dalton and Franz Schnitzel stumbling toward him and Jimmy. Then came a sharp command: