As Jimmy had said, there was a plot, hatched among some of the English prisoners, to break out of the prison camp. But before there was a chance to put it into operation Fate stepped in and gave her aid—that is, it was aid for some, and death for others.
Not far from the German prison camp was a German ammunition dump, and one night there passed over it a raiding squadron, though whether of French, American or English airmen could not be learned by our heroes.
At any rate several bombs were dropped and one, either more accurately placed than the others, or falling more luckily, fell on the dump and it went up in a terrible and fearful burst of powder and shell.
The concussion caused several of the prison camp buildings to collapse, and a number of Russians were killed. The barbed and charged wires about the camp were torn loose and then it was that Jimmy saw his chance—a chance taken by many of the captives.
“Come on!” he shouted to Roger and Bob, as they awoke in the darkness and confusion, hardly knowing what had happened. It seemed like the end of the world.
Out rushed the three Brothers, catching up their few belongings and the precious packets of food they had hoarded against just such a chance as this, though they had not hoped for it so soon.
The Germans were in such confusion, and such havoc had been caused among them when the ammunition dump went up, that they had no time, then, to look to their prisoners. Consequently the unfortunate men who had been kept in the horrible camp scattered to the four winds, eager to make their way back to their own lines.
Jimmy, Bob and Roger formed a little party among themselves. They had only a general notion of which direction to take, but again Fate seemed to help them, for they were not stopped all that night. They tramped on, taking the most unfrequented ways, stumbling on in the darkness and on the alert for a sight of German soldiers. But the attack of the Allied airships, and the consequent destruction of a great pile of German shells, had caused such havoc back of the Hun lines that for several hours all was in confusion.
“It’s getting daylight,” murmured Bob, as he and his two chums were limping down a road. Limping is the correct term, for their own good army shoes had been taken from them and replaced by German apologies, with paper soles, which now were all but gone.
“What shall we do?” asked Roger.
“Keep on until we see something to stop us,” advised Jimmy. “We are going toward our own lines, I think, or where our lines used to be, though there may have been a lot of changes since we were caught.”
“Can’t we stop and get a drink?” panted Bob. “My tongue is like a piece of that leathery stuff the Germans gave us and called meat. I’ve got to drink!”
It was light enough now to disclose a small stream not far away. Looking about to make sure no Germans were in the vicinity, Jimmy led the way toward it. A drink of water and the eating of some of their scanty stock of food would put new life in them.