Then Chester realized what had happened.
Quickly he ran to the door and peered out. Far in the rear he could see the French retreating, pursued by the foe. Chester uttered an exclamation of dismay and called to his men. He explained the situation to them. All were dumbfounded.
At that moment Chester espied an object a short distance from the farmhouse. There was no living form near. With a sudden cry of hope, Chester dashed from the house.
“Come on, men!” he called over his shoulder.
CHESTER’S GALLANT FEAT
The object upon which Chester’s eyes had fallen and which was the cause of the sudden activity on the lad’s part was nothing less than the rapid-fire gun the Germans so recently had brought up to bombard the farmhouse and cut off the retreat of its French defenders. Its crew had been killed, picked off by the accurate shooting of the French before they abandoned the house, and the gun had not been remanned. Apparently the Germans had overlooked the small field piece in their haste to give chase to the retreating French.
The horses were standing a short distance away, unhurt, as Chester could see. The lad dashed toward the gun at top speed, his five men following him as fast as they could run.
There was a light of anticipation on Chester’s face as he reached the gun and examined it carefully.
“Plenty of ammunition,” he said with a grin, as his men came up to him.
The others grinned also.
“What are you going to do with it, sir?” asked one.
Chester waved his arm in the direction of the retreating French and pursuing Germans.
“Give those fellows a little surprise party when they turn back,” he said.
The men caught the idea and were immediately filled with enthusiasm.
“We’d better get away from here before we’re discovered, though,” said Chester. “Catch those horses, some of you.”
This was an easy matter, for the horses stood still as two of the French soldiers approached them.
“Hook ’em up,” cried Chester.
This, too, was the work of a moment.
“I’ll do the driving,” said Chester. “You fellows climb aboard.”
The others needed no urging and a moment later this strange battery moved toward the French lines at a gallop.
The Germans in pursuit of the French were still in plain view and Chester intended to keep close behind. He reasoned that the distance was too great for the Germans to make out the uniforms of the men on the gun and he intended to turn off the roadway at the first sign that the Germans were ready to give up the chase.
Along the road ran a fringe of trees, sparse in some places and thicker in others. It was Chester’s plan to wheel the gun in among the trees at the proper moment and open on the foe when they came back.