Even as the bayonet of the first trooper, who had regained his balance, would have pierced him, however, Chester dropped flat on the ground and seized one of the man’s legs. The German dropped his bayonet and crashed to the ground. Chester sprang up quickly and jumped to one side to escape the point of the bayonet in the hands of the second trooper.
Chester thrust with his sword, but the effort was futile. The point of the lad’s sword fell short. Again the lad was at a disadvantage and the German grinned as he stepped forward to end the combat. His bayonet was pointed straight at the lad’s breast and it seemed as though nothing but a miracle could save the boy.
But the miracle happened. Suddenly the German dropped his bayonet with a crash and threw up both arms. He spun on his heel and then fell to the ground without an outcry. A stray bullet had done what Chester had been unable to accomplish, and for the moment the lad was safe.
The second trooper now returned to the attack and engaged Chester fiercely. All this time the French were gradually being forced back, and of a sudden Chester found himself the center of a mass of German troops.
But the lad had no mind to give up. Throwing caution to the winds, he now struck out swiftly and sharply with his sword. Once or twice the thrusts went home. Chester felt a sting in his left shoulder. The bayonet of a German trooper had pricked him slightly. Chester whirled about and seized the bayonet with his left hand. A powerful wrench and it was wrested from the hands of the German soldier, who had been caught off his guard.
Without taking time to reverse the weapon, Chester hurled it in the faces of the foe who pressed in about him. It struck one man squarely on the forehead and he toppled over with a groan.
Again Chester laid about him with his sword, retreating slowly as he did so. The gas helmet that he wore impeded his progress somewhat, for it was strange to his head and felt uncomfortable. Now the lad realized for the first time that the Germans before him also wore the heavy helmets.
He aimed a blow at one man’s breast and it went home. At the same moment a second German brought his rifle butt down upon the lad’s sword and the weapon snapped off. Chester felt a second sting in his arm and then he felt a blow across the helmet.
There was a sudden roaring sound, Chester saw a million stars flash through the air; then he threw up his arms, made a move to step forward and crashed to the ground.
The last blow had broken open Chester’s gas helmet and the lad was at the mercy of the poisonous vapors!
HAL TO THE RESCUE
At the same moment that Chester fell to the ground, the clear note of a bugle rang out from the German rear, sounding the recall. The attack was to be given up. The resistance of the French had been too much for the foe.