“Now, boys,” said Sergeant Jimmy, when they had dipped down into a hollow among the many hills in the big valley, “we’ve got to have some plan of action, and some system to this. We’ve got to have a leader, too. Military rule must prevail, even among friends.”
“You act as leader!” suggested Bob Dalton.
“That’s right!” chimed in all the others.
“We’ll make you captain, for the time being,” added Roger.
“Thank you for the honor,” said Jimmy with a smile. “I’ll wait, I guess, until my promotion comes regularly. But if you really want me to take the lead and—”
“Of course we want you!” exclaimed Franz, while Iggy added:
“Besser as we should have him for to leader us dan a Germans.”
“Well, I’m glad you think that much of me!” laughed Jimmy. “Now then, if I’m to lead I’ll have to give orders. And do you all agree to obey them—at least if they don’t seem against your better judgment?”
“We’ll obey ’em anyhow,” said Roger, and the others nodded assent.
“All right,” went on Jimmy. “The first thing to do is to calculate how long our rations will last. There’s enough for one day if we each took about all we wanted. Or there’s enough for two days, or more, if we stint ourselves.”
“Then we’ll go on a diet!” declared Bob. “There’s no telling how long we may be in getting back to our lines, and while we might be able to find something to eat along the way, it won’t do to take chances.”
“I thought you’d look at it that way,” said Jimmy. “As for water, it rains so infernally often in this country that I imagine we shan’t be thirsty. But we’ll always carry the canteen full. Now, then, I’ll appoint Roger as Secretary of the Interior—that is, I’ll make him the cook and give him charge of the rations,” and Jimmy handed the canvas bag of food over to his chum.
“There isn’t anything to cook,” said Roger, as he looked in the bag. “It’s all emergency ration stuff.”
“So much the easier for you,” declared Jimmy. “Now that’s settled, the next thing to decide is how to get to our lines.”
“Keep right on going the way Captain Dickerson told us,” suggested Bob.
“That’s what I want to consider,” Jimmy went on. “Do you all think that is the wisest course to follow?”
“Why in the world not?” asked Franz, in some amazement. “Didn’t he tell us to go south, and don’t we pretty well know that in that direction would be the most logical place for our troops to be?”
“I grant that,” replied Jimmy. “But if our lines are to the south, why did Captain Dickerson, who appears to be an American officer, go to the north! Why didn’t he come with us?”
“That’s starting the whole question over again,” declared Bob. “I say let’s take a chance and go south. The captain wouldn’t send us wrong after he went to all that trouble to save us alive.”