Bob had received a cut on the forehead, either from a blow or from a glancing bullet, and the blood, running down into his eyes, blinded him temporarily.
“Are you here, Roger?” he managed to gasp, as two burly Germans pulled him along.
“Yes, old man, I’m here! Say, but this is tough luck!”
Again he was struck and ordered to keep silent.
Back they were hurried toward the German lines, whence had issued the raiding party that had had such luck as to defeat a small and very much surprised body of Americans. Perhaps it is not to their credit to say they were surprised, but the truth must be told. Some one was negligent, and failed to give the alarm in time.
Mackson and Jones, privates, who had been in the listening post next to the one where Roger and Bob were stationed, had escaped in the confusion. Amid the attack and counter-attack, and while the firing and throwing of hand grenades was hottest, they ran back to the trenches, calling out word of what had happened.
Jimmy was just coming on duty when the attack of the Germans took place, and, hearing what Mackson gasped out, cried to him:
“Did you see anything of Bob and Roger?”
“Yes, they’re gone!” was the answer.
“Gone? You mean killed?” and Jimmy felt as though his heart would stop beating.
“No. They put up a good fight, but the Huns were too many for ’em. Roger and Bob were taken off by the Boches!”
“Captured! Prisoners!” cried Jimmy. For an instant he hardly knew what to do. The confusion was at its height, and there seemed to be some demoralization among the Americans at this particular post. But order was gradually coming out of it. A captain and two lieutenants hurried up and took charge of matters. A brisk artillery fire was ordered to sweep the German lines, to prevent, if possible, any further advance in force. At the same time up and down the trenches and from dugouts the gallant doughboys poured, ready to take revenge for the attack of the Huns.
“Come on! Come on!” cried the captain, and with wild cheers and yells his men followed him. Jimmy had a sudden thought. Rushing up to the captain, who was listening to a report from a corporal who had been wounded, and who had escaped after being captured, Jimmy cried:
“Two of my friends have been caught—Sergeant Barlow and Corporal Dalton. May I take a relief party out, sir, and rescue them?”
“Yes, Sergeant Blaise! Take six men with you, and good luck! Keep in touch with us, though. We don’t want to be separated at a time like this!”
“Yes, sir!” cried Jimmy, his heart now on fire with a desperate resolve. He wished Franz and Iggy could be of the rescue party, but they were already out of the trench, under the leadership of one of the lieutenants, making a fierce counter-attack.
Quickly Jimmy picked out six privates, and rapidly explained what he wanted. They ran forward in the darkness. Shells were exploding overhead, there were flashes of rifle fire on every side, and a more continuous stream of wicked spurts from machine guns. Rockets were being sent up from the German lines, together with star-shells, and these made the scene of the fight brilliantly light with, now and then, recurrent periods of intense blackness.