Stubbs gave a great sigh of relief.
Hal increased the speed of the machine until it fairly flew over the ground. And then his hand touched the elevating lever.
Immediately the plane soared in the air like a big bird.
And from the ground came exclamations of surprise; for it was not until that moment that the Germans who had been advancing toward the friends had discovered their presence; although they had been espied by Chester and Stubbs some moments before.
A volley of rifle bullets was fired at the rapidly rising machine.
One flew by Stubbs’ ear and he dropped to the bottom of the car with a howl of fright.
A moment later, however, the machine was beyond reach of the rifles of the German troops, and Hal laid the craft out on a straightaway course, heading directly west.
“Nothing can stop us now but enemy aeroplanes,” he said quietly.
He increased his speed. The big army plane flew toward the distant French lines with a speed greater than that of the fastest express train.
THE END OF MATIN
“You have done well, sirs. President Poincare shall hear of this.”
The speaker was General Petain. Before him stood Hal, Chester and Anthony Stubbs. Hal, acting as spokesman, had just concluded an account of their adventures within the enemy lines, a venture from which they had returned successfully and safely only an hour before.
For, after the aeroplane had descended above the French lines and headed for the French positions, the journey had been without important event. True, there had been a brush with one enemy aircraft; but this had been worsted. A second, which had given chase, was distanced with ease and the three friends had returned to the French lines unscathed.
“So!” said General Petain, “you blew up the enemy’s ammunition depot, eh? The explosion was felt even here. We knew the foe had suffered some hard blow, but I had no idea that it had been delivered by your hand.”
Both lads flushed at the praise of General Petain. Stubbs was pleased.
“Now tell me what else you did, if anything,” said the general. “Did you get the information after which you went?”
“We did, sir,” returned Hal.
He passed to the general the documents he had taken from the young German aide. General Petain scanned them carefully.
“These will be invaluable to me,” he said quietly.
Then Chester told the French commander of the conversation he had overheard in the quarters of the German Crown Prince.
“Now that I have escaped,” the lad concluded, “it may be possible, of course, that the German plans will be altered.”
“You have done well,” said the general again, “and as I have said, your work shall be brought to the personal attention of the President.” He turned to Stubbs. “You, sir,” he said, “are not a soldier, yet I have to thank you for your part in this mission.”