He came to a place where something had hit a load of ammunition, and there were pieces of a wagon and a driver scattered about; it was a horrible mess, but Jimmie passed it without much emotion—his whole soul was centred on beating Pat Cullen into “Chatty Terry”! He came to the outskirts of a village, and there was a peasant’s cottage with the roof blown off, and a smell fresh out of the infernal regions, and a terrified old woman standing by the road side with two terrified children clinging to her skirts. Jimmy stopped his machine and shouted: “Chatty Terry?” When the old woman did not answer quickly, he shouted again: “Chatty Terry? Chatty Terry? Don’t you understand French? Chatty Terry?” The old woman apparently did not understand French.
He rode up the street of the village, and came to a military policeman directing traffic at a crossing. This fellow understood English, and said: “Chatty Terry? Eet ees taken!” And when Jimmie stood dismayed, wondering what he was to do now, the policeman told him that headquarters had been shifted to this village—it was in the chateau; he did not say “chatty”, so Jimmie did not understand his kind of English. But Jimmie rode as directed, and came to a place with iron gates in front, and a big garden, and a sentry in front, and a bustle of coming and going, so he knew that he had reached his destination, and had beaten his Irish enemy!
Jimmie’s pass was in duplicate French and English, so the sentry could read it, and signed him to pass in. At the door of the chateau he showed the paper again, and a French officer in the hall-way espied him, and exclaimed, “A cyclist? Mon Dieu!” He half-ran Jimmie into another room, where another officer sat at a big table with a chart spread out on it, and innumerable filing cabinets on the walls. “Un courier Americain!” he exclaimed.
“Only one?” asked the officer, in English.
“Five more’s comin’,” said Jimmie quickly. He hated Pat Cullen like the devil, but he wouldn’t have any French officer think that Pat would lie down on his job. “The road’s cut up, an’ there’s lots o’ traffic. I come as fast—”
“See!” interrupted the officer—not quite as polite as Frenchmen are supposed to be. “This packet contains maps, which we make from aeroplane-photographs—you comprehend? It is for the artillerist—”
The officer paused for a moment; there came a deafening crash outside, and the window of the room collapsed and something grazed Jimmie’s face.
“Voila!” remarked the officer. “The enemy draws nearer. Our wires are cut; we send couriers, but they perhaps do not arrive; it needs that we send many—what you say?—duplicates. You comprehend?”
“Sure!” said Jimmie.
“It is most urgent; the battle depends upon it—the war, it may be. You comprehend?”
“Sure!” said Jimmie again.