“Advance, Sergeant Blaise! The others stay where they are. And remember our rifles have you covered, so don’t try any funny work.”
It was a grim warning, but the five Brothers appreciated its need. Jimmy stepped forward, and the light from a pocket electric torch flashed in his face.
“Don’t know you, but you look all right,” said a tall, young lieutenant who was in charge of the party, the tramping feet of which had so alarmed our heroes. “What are you doing here?”
“It’s a long story, but I’ll cut it short,” said Jimmy, and he did. The lieutenant listened with interest, and then, satisfied that the truth was being told, he remarked.
“You’d better come back with us. We’ll take care of you for to-night, and to-morrow you can send word to your command. I don’t know this Captain Dickerson you speak of.”
“Are we near the American lines?” asked Bob.
“Within half a mile,” was the answer.
They were led back, and soon were comfortably housed in a dugout, partaking of hot rations, and telling their story to wondering comrades. They had come upon a sector of the line held by a division made up of New York and New Jersey troops, and, though our heroes knew none of them personally, they fraternized all right.
The next day the commanding officer, having heard their story, sent them back to their own company, which had moved considerably farther toward the front since the battle of the mill, as the boys called it.
They learned that the big body of German troops which they had seen from their hiding place had not yet come into an engagement to any great extent with the Allies.
“A big battle is pending though,” said their captain, when our heroes were back in their own command, where they were made royally welcome. “There have been skirmishes and some long-distance artillery work. But the big fight is yet to come. You’ll have a chance to rest up and get in trim for it.”
Jimmy and his chums were glad of this. They were allowed leaves of absence, and went back of the lines to a pleasant little village, where rest and good food soon made them “fit” again. All efforts to learn something more of Captain Dickerson, and the whereabouts of Sergeant Maxwell, were, however, without avail.
One evening, after the five Brothers had reported back to their billet for duty, and while they were in the dugout, detailing over again some of their experiences at the mill, the sergeant-major entered.
“Get set, boys!” he exclaimed. “The orders are coming in. We go over the top again in the morning, and it’s going to be some fight!”
And when the zero hour was signaled again the five Brothers were in battle once more.
Equipped with gas masks, their packs filled with first-aid outfits, carrying emergency rations, with the “tin hats” on their heads and with rifles firmly grasped, over the top went the Khaki Boys, and thousands like them, in another attempt to subdue the Boche enemy.