“What in the time of the Czar do you suppose he was talking about?” asked Chester.
“I’m not good at conundrums,” replied Hal. “He’s got something on his mind, all right.”
“Providing he has a mind left,” agreed Chester.
“From the way he talked that fact is open to doubt,” he replied.
“I didn’t think he was a drinking man,” said Chester.
“Oh, he was sober enough. By the way, did you notice his hesitation when I asked him if he had any enemies?”
“By George! I did. He couldn’t answer. I’ll bet he knows more about the man that fired that shot at you than he is willing to admit.”
“It looks like it,” Hal agreed. “From his actions, I would judge that the shot was meant for him.”
“Exactly,” said Chester, “and he knows who it was that fired it.”
“Well, there is no use talking about it,” declared Hal. “We can’t possibly figure it out ourselves. One thing, though, we shall have to be on our guard. The unknown enemy may not know that Stubbs has moved and may try again.”
“Right,” said Chester. “We’ll have to sleep with one eye open.”
“Oh, we’re safe enough to-night,” said Hal. “He’ll figure we’ll be on the watch and will postpone his next visit for a day or two. By the way, old man, how do you feel?”
“First rate. I’ll be as good as new in the morning.”
“I hope so. In that event we had better get a little sleep.”
“Then you don’t think it necessary for one of us to stand watch?”
“No; here goes for bed.”
IN THE TRENCHES
In some manner, known only to himself, Anthony Stubbs, war correspondent of the New York Gazette, had ingratiated himself with General Petain, the French commander at Verdun. General Petain, upon Stubbs’ request, agreed that the little war correspondent should be allowed to make a tour of the city of Verdun and the surrounding fortifications and view for himself the effects of the siege thus far.
An officer of the general staff was assigned by the French commander to show Stubbs about. It was the first time a war correspondent had been admitted to Verdun and the surrounding fortifications; and because of the things that Stubbs learned on the tour, it is fitting that the reader take the trip with him.
The officer first led Stubbs to the highest point on the walls encircling Verdun and there explained the lay-out of the contending forces. From this point of vantage, commanding the battlefield, Verdun looked like the center of a huge saucer, with the town lying very low, while all around rose an even circle of crests forming the outer edge of the saucer.
The dangerous proximity of the Germans was apparent. At the time that Stubbs viewed the battlefield the armies of the Kaiser held a goodly portion of these crests, though the battle of Verdun was less than two weeks old.