Going past and turning, Reade volplaned gracefully earthward,
landing just beyond the blazing gasoline.
Instantly they were surrounded by two-score French aviators and
"It is all right!" the cry went up. "They are Americans, though
the machine is German."
M. le Commandant Perrault, chief of squadron, stepped rapidly
forward, receiving the salute of the two American officers and
asking questions at volley-fire speed. His face betrayed amazement,
but when the brief narrative had been finished he grasped the hands
"It was splendidly done," he declared.
"And now, sir, on behalf of my friend, may I ask how far we are
from the front line?" Tom inquired. "Captain Prescott wishes
to return to the trenches immediately."
"It is ten kilometers," replied the commandant. "Yet speed shall
not be impossible. Within five minutes I will have here a car
that will take Captain Prescott to the communication trenches,
and in that car will be a trench guide."
"And I'm going, too, Dick," Tom added, squeezing his chum's arm.
"We have a lot to talk over yet."
As the German airplane had been turned over to Commandant Perrault,
Reade had no further concern with that. He bounded into the motor
car when it arrived. Later the trench guide conducted them into
the front trenches, even to the section from which Prescott had
been taken. Major Wells was now, with Captain Holmes and Lieutenant
Terry, at a point about a third of a mile to the westward.
Thither Dick and Tom turned their steps, still with the trench
guide showing the way. Unexpectedly this little party came upon
Major Wells just as the latter was saying:
"The greatest blow to us was the loss of Captain Prescott. Of
course he may be a prisoner, and unharmed, but we much fear that
he was killed."
"I beg to report, sir," Dick broke in smilingly, as he saluted,
"that I was not so indiscreet as to be killed."
Like a flash Major Wells turned upon him. "Prescott!" he cried,
"I can't believe it." But he did, just the same, and, coming
to his senses, went on hastily:
"General, I have the great happiness of presenting Captain Prescott!"
Again Dick came to the salute, and when it was finished he stood
very erect, hands straight at his sides, for he had caught sight,
above the horizontal braid on the general's coat, of four stars,
instead of the two stars of a major-general. There was but one
officer in the United States service who could wear four stars - -the
Under the general's questioning Prescott and Reade, who was also
presented, told their stories with soldierly brevity and directness.
"And how do you feel now, Captain?" inquired the Commander-in-chief
"Utterly happy, sir, for I've realized my sole ambition for months,"
Captain Dick answered fervently.
"And what was that?"
"To be in France, with General Pershing, and at grips with mankind's
"You've made a gallant start, Captain," smiled the Commander-in-chief.
"And in that I include your friend, Lieutenant Reade. You are
officers after my own heart."
Captain Greg Holmes coming upon this scene, stood back as long
as etiquette in the presence of a general demanded, then rushed
forward to give joyous greeting to both chums.
Dick and his friends were destined to go even further in the
realization of their fondest hopes. Up to this moment the United
States was only in the infancy of her part in the great war.
Greater days were coming, and did come, and what happened then will
be found truthfully set forth in the next volume in this series,
which will be published under the title:
"_Uncle Sam's Boys Smash The Germans; Or, Helping the Allies Wind
Up the Great World War_."
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12