Chester raised his rifle, ready to take a hand in the proceedings himself should the occasion demand.
“This thing is getting rather complicated,” he told himself.
The two approaching figures came closer rapidly. Chester gave an exclamation of pure astonishment.
RUNNING THE GAUNTLET
When Hal and Stubbs took to their heels after the former had relieved the German officer of his papers, they had run some distance before coming across anyone in the darkness. Then they came upon another figure so suddenly that it almost resulted in their capture.
Hal, in the lead, had been just about to slacken his pace, when, rounding a corner suddenly, he had crashed into a form in the night. The two went down in a heap; and Stubbs, turning a moment later, had stumbled over the pair of struggling forms before he could check himself. In a moment he found himself mixed up in the struggling mass.
A fist struck Stubbs squarely upon the nose.
“Hey! Quit that,” said Stubbs, and struck out with his right.
This blow came almost ending the fight right there and in a manner not at all advantageous to Stubbs and Hal. In the darkness the little war correspondent had been unable to distinguish friend from foe and his fist caught Hal just above the right eye.
Now Anthony Stubbs had considerable power in his right arm and for a moment Hal was dazed by the blow. Before he could clear his head, his opponent had struck him a heavy blow on the other side of the neck and leaped to his feet.
At that instant Stubbs realized what he had done and a sickening sensation struck him in the pit of the stomach; but the little man determined to give the best that was in him to undo his work.
With an angry bellow he charged his German opponent. The latter stepped back a pace and sought to draw his revolver, but Stubbs was too quick for him. Almost at the moment that Stubbs crashed into his foe he lowered his head, as would a steer, and his head caught the German in the region of the belt.
Came a gasp from the German as he doubled up and collapsed. He rolled over upon the ground several times in a vain attempt to gain his breath; then lay still.
The victory was with Stubbs!
Hal had now regained consciousness and sat up just in time to see the effect of Stubbs’ charge.
“Good work, Stubbs!” the lad cried. “Now lend me a hand and we’ll get away from here!”
Stubbs did as requested and a moment later Hal was on his feet. The lad felt the bump over his eye tenderly.
“Stubbs,” he said, “it was rather dark and we were so mixed up on the ground that I couldn’t see, but I would be willing to wager a whole lot that it wasn’t a German who gave me this crack over the eye. Now was it?”
“Well,” said Stubbs, “I—I—”