General Petain turned to Chester.
“And your name?”
“Lieutenant Crawford, sir.”
“Good. I’ll turn this man over to you. You may do as you please with him. I see he is a friend of yours.”
“Yes, sir,” returned Hal. “He’s a good friend of ours, sir. He’s rendered us several valuable services. Also, sir, he is to be trusted. He will seek to send out no information which you desire suppressed.”
“I never heard of one like that,” said the general.
“He’s the only one in captivity, sir. His name is Stubbs, sir, of the New York Gazette”
“His name will be Mudd, sir, if he doesn’t conduct himself properly while within my lines,” declared General Petain. “Take him with you. Find Lieutenant Maussapant and tell him to find quarters for you. Report to me at midnight. I probably shall have work for you.”
The lads saluted and made their way from the tent. Stubbs followed them. Chester glanced at his watch.
“Great Scott!” he ejaculated. “I had no idea it was so late.”
“How late?” asked Chester.
“Nor I,” said Chester. “Where do you suppose we are going to find Maussapant?”
“You’ve got me. However, here comes a young officer; we’ll ask him.”
Hal did so.
“That is my name,” was the young man’s smiling response.
“Then we’re in luck,” said Hal. “General Petain requests that you find quarters for me.”
“As it happens,” said the young Frenchman, “two of my brother officers have been transferred and I can ask you to bunk with me.”
“How about Stubbs?” asked Hal.
“Yes; our friend here, a war correspondent.”
“Oh, I guess we can find room for him. Come with me.”
The three friends followed the young Frenchman and presently were installed in a large, comfortable tent.
“Turn in whenever you’re ready,” said the Frenchman.
“We must report to the general at midnight,” was Hal’s reply.
“You’ve got me,” said Hal. “Hope it’s something good, though.”
“Probably is, or he wouldn’t want you at that hour.”
“Well,” said Stubbs at this point, “you boys can do what you please. I’m going to get a little sleep.”
“All right,” said Chester. “If we shouldn’t be around in the morning, don’t worry. We’ll turn up sooner or later.”
Stubbs nodded and made ready for bed.
At five minutes to twelve o’clock, Hal and Chester started for the headquarters of General Petain.
“Here’s where we get busy again, old man,” said Chester.
THE BATTLE OPENS
For forty-eight hours the greatest of modern artillery duels had raged incessantly. German guns swept the French positions in all sections of the Verdun region. Fortresses protecting the approach to the city of Verdun had been shattered. The Germans had hurled two and three shells to each one by the French.