H. Irving Hancock.

Uncle Sam's Boys with Pershing's Troops Dick Prescott at Grips with the Boche online

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who promptly declared that he had no knowledge of any authority
for his lieutenant to visit the enemy's lines. Gaulte had, in
fact, supposed that Noyez was back of the lines on over-night
leave, for which he had applied.

"The business looks bad!" cried Captain Cartier, with troubled

"Quite!" agreed Captain Gaulte more calmly.

"I must telephone for instructions," Cartier continued. "It may
require a long wait. Gentlemen, you will find seats."

First Cartier called up his regimental commander and reported
the matter.

"It will be passed on to division headquarters," reported Captain
Cartier, turning from the telephone instrument.

By and by the telephone bell tinkled softly. Orders came over
the wire that the arresting party should take the prisoners to
division headquarters.

"These are your instructions, then, Lieutenant De Verne. Of course
it is expected that Captain Prescott will accompany you as complaining

In the darkness of the night it was a toilsome march back through
the communication trenches. This time, when they were left behind,
there was no limousine to pick up the members of the party.

"It is a relief to be at last where we can talk," said De Verne,
in English.

"You may speak for yourself," retorted the German colonel gruffly,
betraying the fact that he understood the language.

Halted four times by sentries, the party at last reached division
headquarters. Outside a young staff officer awaited them.

"General Bazain has risen and dressed," stated the staff officer.
"He had undertaken to snatch two hours' sleep, but this cannot
be his night to sleep. The general awaits you, and you are to
enter. Through to his office."

As they entered the division commander's office they found that
fine old man pacing his room in evident agitation.

"And you, too, Noyez?" he called, in a tone of astounded reproach.
"It was bad enough that we should find Berger a spy! But to find
one of our trusted officers - -it is too much!"

"I am neither spy nor traitor, my general!" declared Noyez furiously,
"and my record should remove the least suspicion from my name."

"But you were in the enemy's trenches this night, without knowledge
or leave of your superiors, Lieutenant. Have you a plausible
way to account for it?"

"All in good time, my general, when my head has had time to clear,"
promised the young sub-lieutenant.

"It is but fair that we give you time," assented General Bazain.
"It can give France no joy to find one of her officers a traitor."

It was now the German's turn to be questioned. He gave his name
as Pernim. As he was an ordinary prisoner of war he was led from
the room to be turned over to the military prison authorities.

"And it was you, my dear Captain Prescott, who captured one spy
who has since admitted his guilt. And now you bring in another
whom you accuse."

"Berger has confessed, sir," Dick asked, "may I inquire if he
implicated Lieutenant Noyez?"

"He did not."

"Yet, sir, from what I heard, Berger and Noyez worked together.
If Berger be informed that Noyez has been captured is it not
likely that Berger will then tell of this accused man's work?"

"Excellent suggestion! We shall soon know!" exclaimed General
Bazain, touching a bell.



Through the orderly who answered, three staff officers were summoned.
To these the general gave his orders in undertones in a corner
of the room. As the three hastened out not one of them sent as
much as a glance in the direction of the unhappy Noyez.

Seating himself in his chair General Bazain, after courteously
excusing himself, closed his eyes as though to sleep. The arresting
party and Noyez withdrew to the adjoining room.

More than an hour passed ere the three staff officers returned
and hastened into the division commander's office. Fifteen minutes
after that Dick and his friends, with the prisoner, were again

"It has been simpler than we thought," General Bazain announced
wearily. "Berger, when questioned and informed of Noyez's arrest,
confessed that Noyez was the superior spy under whom he worked."

"It is a lie, my general!" exclaimed Noyez, in a choking voice,
as he strode forward, only to be seized and thrust back.

"It is the truth!" retorted General Bazain, rising and glaring
at the accused man. "Berger not only confessed, but he told where,
in your dug-out, Noyez, could be found the secret compartment
in which you hid the book containing the key to the code you sometimes
employed in sending written reports to the enemy. And here is
the code book!"

General Bazain tossed the accusing little notebook on the desk.

At sight of that Noyez fell back three steps, then sank cowering
into a chair, covering his eyes with his hands.

"You comprehend that further lying will avail you nothing!" the
division commander went on sternly. "Lieutenant De Verne!"

"Here, sir!"

"Noyez, stand up. Lieutenant De Verne, I instruct you to remove
from the uniform of Noyez the insignia of his rank and every emblem
that stands for France! That done, you will next cut the buttons
from Noyez's tunic!"

Standing so weakly that it looked as if he must fall, Noyez submitted
to the indignity, silent save for the sobs that choked his voice.

"Call in the guard, and have the wretch removed from my sight!"
General Bazain ordered. "Yet, Noyez, I will say that it seems
to me incredible that any Frenchman could have been so ignoble
as you have proved yourself to he."

"A Frenchman?" repeated Noyez disdainfully. "No Frenchman am
I. Already I am condemned, so I no longer need even pretend that
I am French. No! Though I was born in Alsace, my father's name
was Bamberger. Twenty years ago he moved to Paris, to serve the
German Kaiser. He fooled even your boasted police into believing
him French, and his name Noyez. My father is dead, so I may tell
the truth, that he served the Kaiser like a loyal subject. And
he made a spy of me. I was called to the French colors, and I
went, under a French name, but a loyal German at heart! I became
a French sub-lieutenant, but I was still a German, and the Kaiser's
officers paid me, knew where to find me and how to use me. I
must die, but there are yet other agents of the Kaiser distributed
through your Army. The Fatherland shall still be served from
the French trenches. You will kill me? Bah! My work has already
killed at least a regiment of Frenchmen. And since Berger has
weakened and betrayed me, I will tell you that he, too, is and
always has been a German subject. Remember, there are many more
of us wearing the hated uniform of France."

"Noyez! Bamberger!" retorted General Bazain, "I can almost find
it in my heart to feel grateful to you, for you have told me that
you are not French. Since you are a German I can understand anything.
I thank you for assuring me that you are not French."

With a gesture General Bazain ordered the prisoner's removal. Then,
his eyes moist, the division commander turned to beckon Dick to him.

"Captain, I have to thank you for finding and helping to remove
two dangerous enemies from my command. You will find me
grateful - -always!"

Once more outside Lieutenant De Verne turned to Dick to ask:

"You intend returning to the trenches?"

"By all means, for I feel as though the night had but begun,"
Dick cried. "It has gone well so far, and I am ready for whatever
the remaining hours can give me."

"I had hoped that, at the most, you would ask me to find you a
bunk in a dug-out where you might sleep," confessed De Verne.
"When you have been longer in the trenches, Captain, you will
be glad to sleep whenever the chance comes your way."

"But that will not be until I have learned more of the ways of
your trench life than I know yet," Dick rejoined. "At present
I would rather sleep during the daylight, for it appears to be
at night that the real things happen."

De Verne accompanied him back to the fire trench, where Dick was
glad to find Captain Ribaut with the other three American officers,
that party having returned from a trip down the line.

De Verne soon after took his leave, hastening rearward to begin
his rest.

Bang! sounded a field-piece back of the German line.

Between the French first-line and second-line trenches the shell
exploded. On the heels of the explosion came a furious burst
of discharging artillery.

"This must be what you have been expecting, Major," shouted Ribaut
over the racket. "A barrage!"

Down the line ran the noise of bombardment, the thing becoming
more furious every instant. Then some shells landed in first-line
trenches nearby.

"Take shelter!" shouted Captain Ribaut. "Now! At once!"

French soldiers were scurrying to dug-out shelters. Ribaut led
the officer party to a dugout reached by eight descending steps
cut in the earth. The apartment in which they found themselves
led out some fifteen feet under the barbed wire defenses.

"How long is this likely to last?" demanded Major Wells, eyeing
the Frenchman keenly by the light of the one slim candle that
burned in the dug-out.

"Perhaps fifteen minutes; maybe until after daylight," Ribaut
replied, with a shrug.

"What is the object?"

"Who can say? But a barrage fire is being laid down between our
first and second lines. That means that no reinforcements can
reach us from the support trenches. And our own trench is being
shelled furiously, to drive all into shelters. My friends, it
is likely that the Germans, enraged by the capture of Colonel
Pernim, who must be missed by now, are paying us back with a raid."

"More of your strenuous doings then, Dick," laughed Greg.

"At least a raid will be highly interesting," Dick retorted. "So
far we haven't been in one, and we're here for experience, you know."

"And you really hope that this turns out to be a German raid?"
asked Captain Ribaut.

"Yes; don't you, Captain?" challenged Major Wells.

"An, but we French have seen so many of these raids, and they
are dull, ugly affairs, sometimes with much killing. After you
have seen many you will not hunger for more."

It was not long before conversation was drowned out wholly by
the racket of exploding shells in and around the fire trenches.
Occasionally one of these drove a jet of sand down the stairs
of the dug-out, but this room was too far underground for the
dug-out roof to be driven in on them.

Half an hour later the shell-fire against the front-line trenches
abated, though the barrage fire still continued to fall between
the first and second lines.

Greg whistled softly, unable to hear a note that he emitted.
Noll Terry occasionally fingered one of the two gas-masks with
which he had been provided before entering the trenches. Major
Wells's attitude suggested that he had his ears set to note every
difference in sound that came from outside.

A French soldier shouted down the steps in his own tongue:

"Stand by! The Huns are coming!"

At a single bound Captain Ribaut gained the steps and darted up,
followed promptly by the American officers.

In the section in which they found themselves four French soldiers,
rifles resting over the parapet, stood awaiting the onslaught.

Two more men, equipped with hand bombs, stood awaiting the moment
to begin casting.

All the while the curtain of shell-fire, the barrage laid down
by the Germans between them and the second-line trenches, continued
to fall. It effectually prevented French reinforcements from
coming up to the first line.

His automatic pistol ready, Dick Prescott found elbow-room on
the fire step. Cautiously he looked over the parapet.

For a moment he could see nothing, save that German shell-fire
had blown the barbed wire defenses to pieces, clearing the way
for the German invaders to reach them.

In the near distance Dick made out the shadowy figures of the
men in the first wave of the German assault.

Rifle-fire began to roll out from the French soldiers. From somewhere
at the rear, perhaps from emplacements in or near the French support
trenches, the steady drumming of machine-gun fire began. The
air was filled with death.

Dick Prescott's blood thrilled with the realization that he was at
earnest grip with the Boches!



In the terrific din of the barrage-fire the men of the first German
wave came on like so many silent specters.

They did not run forward, but moved at a fast walk. It was necessary
that they save their breath to use in the hand-to-hand struggle
that must follow.

Suddenly a French bomb left the trench, striking the ground just
in advance of the oncoming Germans. The pink flash of the explosion
lighted the set faces of three or four men of the enemy, one of
whom went to earth as a fragment from the bomb struck him.

Then bombs fell fast, all along the line. Prescott, singling
out an enemy while the flash lasted, let drive at him with a shot
from his automatic.

Though several of the Huns fell, the advancing line continued
unhesitatingly. The last few steps, past what was left of the
barbed wire, the Germans hurled themselves at greater speed.

Then invaders and defenders clashed. German bayonets thrust viciously
down into the trench, while French bayonets reached up to dispute

Dick had backed away from the fire step. His back against the
further wall he was using his automatic pistol to the best advantage.

The first German to leap into the trench landed almost at the
feet of Captain Greg Holmes, who had crouched to receive him.
Rising, in one of his best old-time football tackles, Greg threw
the Hun backward with fearful force, then sat on his chest.

"You're my prisoner!" Holmes shouted at the prostrate. "Try to
rise if you dare!"

So hot had been the reception of the first wave that those of
the Germans who did not manage to leap down into the trenches,
recoiled in dismay.

Then the second wave of raiders came up, only to find that the
French had recovered their second wind. Great as the odds were
the French held their own, thrusting, shooting and clubbing with
rifle butts.

From his position on his prisoner Greg fired coolly as often as
he could do so without endangering a French comrade. He longed
to rush in closer, but did not intend to let his prisoner get
away. Only one German got close enough to thrust at Holmes, who
shot him through the heart before the bayonet lunge could be made.

What was left of the first and second waves was being beaten back.
Major Wells, Prescott and Noll Terry leaped to the parapet with
two French soldiers in their section to beat back the foe.

Just then a third wave arrived. The fighting became brisker.
Dick Prescott felt a weight against his head. He staggered dizzily,
felt arms clutch at him, and had only a hazy notion of what followed.

The Germans went back, carrying a few prisoners with them. A
minute later the enemy barrage lifted.

"You may get up now," Greg admonished his captive, as he leaped
to his feet.

"You've accounted for one of the enemy," smiled Captain Ribaut,
as he came up.

"Captured him at the first pop out of the box," Holmes declared
proudly. "I told him to lie still, and he surely did. I'd have
hurt him if he had tried to get away."

"How did you take him?" Ribaut asked, kneeling beside the still man.

"Threw him with an old football tackle."

"The Hun's neck is broken," reported the French captain, raising
the enemy's head and letting it fall.

"What's that?" Greg demanded astonished. "Say, you're right,
aren't you? And to think of all the good fighting I missed through
holding on to that 'prisoner'! Dick will tease the life out of
me! By the way, where is he?"

"I thought he went this way," Ribaut answered. "We must find
him. I hope he wasn't hurt."

Thoroughly alarmed Greg wheeled and darted along the trench, looking
for his chum. Then he raced back, going off in the opposite direction.

"Prescott isn't here!" he gasped, and sprang up at the parapet.

"Here! Don't do that," Major Wells called to him, in a low voice.

But there was no stopping Holmes. Bending low he raced along in
front of the trench, looking for the body, dead or alive, of his chum.

Dick, however, was not to be found. Greg continued the search

Had the Germans sent up flares just then, and turned on their
machine guns, Greg would have made an inevitable mark.

Captain Ribaut, more practical, sent a French corporal through
the nearby sections for word of Captain Prescott.

"Captain Holmes, return to the trench," Major Wells ordered, in
a hoarse whisper.

So Greg obeyed, in time almost to bump into Captain Ribaut.

"Four men from this platoon are missing, and presumably were captured
by the enemy," said that officer. "I much fear that Captain Prescott
was also taken away by the enemy."

"What? Captured by the Huns?" Greg demanded, divided between
amazement and consternation. "Dick captured? Let me lead a force
over to the enemy line to bring him back!"

"Only the division commander could sanction that," replied Captain
Ribaut, with grave sympathy. "And it is never done, Captain."

"Oh, I wish I had B company at my back, with A company thrown
in for good measure!" quivered Greg. "But say, can't there be
a mistake? Didn't Prescott go back wounded?"

"No; I have sent to the dressing station, and he was not seen
there," Captain Ribaut replied.

At first Greg couldn't believe that his chum had been captured.
When the probability of it did dawn on him nothing but his position
as an officer kept him from sitting down on the fire step and

"I'd sooner know he was killed than that he had fallen into Hun
hands," Holmes sputtered. "But, if they have got him, then I'll
make a business of mistreating Germans after this!"

Capture was precisely what had happened to Dick Prescott. It
was not for long that he had remained dazed. Two German soldiers
fairly dragged him across No Man's Land, his heels bumping over
the rough ground.

Dick vaguely knew when the same men lifted him slightly and dropped
him, feet first, into the German trench. He fell forward to his
knees, and a German non-com raised him to his feet.

"What place is this?" Dick demanded. But he knew as soon as he
heard laughing German voices around him.

"Well, if I'm captured, I gave a good account of myself first,"
Prescott muttered as he shook himself together, "I first captured
two German spies and a German colonel and turned them over to
the French. But poor old Greg! I'd almost sooner be in my present
boots than in his, for he'll be frantic when he finds this out."

The same two German soldiers who had dragged him across No Man's
Land were now permitted the honor of piloting their distinguished
captive back from the line. Leading him into a communication
trench, they started with him for the rear.

Though he still felt dizzy, Dick found his head clearing as he
moved along. He was able to judge that he had walked half a mile
through the communication trench, then at least another half-mile
along a road before he was halted at a hole in the ground.

"Go down here," said one of the men in German, and pushed Dick
down a long flight of steps, leading to a large, electrically
lighted dug-out at least twenty-five feet below the earth's surface.

"Only prisoners of rank received here, without orders," said a
sergeant near the foot of the stairs.

"But this man is a captain," returned one of the captors.

"Of what army?"

"The American."

"Bring the prisoner here!" ordered a voice from the further end
of the underground room.

Dick was hustled along, bringing up at last in front of a long
table, behind which sat three German officers.

"You are an American?" asked the officer who sat between the other
two. He spoke in English.

"Yes," Dick admitted.

"Of what regiment?" demanded the questioner.

"Infantry regiment," Dick replied.

"Yes, but how is your regiment known?"

"As an infantry regiment," Dick answered, though he knew well what
was wanted of him.

"Are your American regiments numbered?"

"Oh, yes."

"How is yours numbered?"

"Numbered among the best, I believe," Dick returned, with a smile.

"You are a captain?"


"Then you know what I mean to ask, and you must not try to trifle
with me. How is your regiment numbered? What is the number of
your regiment?"

"Numbered among the best, as I told you."

"How long have you been in France?"

"Long enough to like its people, meaning those who belong here, not
those who have come into France by force of arms."

"Captain, is your regiment on the line yet?"

"It's a line regiment, of course," Prescott replied dumbly.

"Captain," spoke the questioner angrily, "you must not try to
make game of us! If you do not answer our questions you will
regret it."

"And if I did answer them I'd feel ashamed of myself," Dick smiled
blandly. "I'm going to take the liberty of asking you a question.
If you were captured and questioned, how much would you tell that
would injure Germany?"

"I'd tell nothing," replied the German officer stiffly.

"Same here," Dick went on smilingly. "I'm as strong for my country
as you are for yours."

"But, Captain, you will have to tell us your name and rank, also
the designation of your organization. That has to be entered
on our records."

"I am Captain Richard Prescott, captain of infantry, United States
Army," Dick returned, in a business-like way. "But when you go
further, and ask me for information about the American Army, you
need expect no sensible answers."

"Take this man to the temporary prisoners' camp, and see that
he is put in the officers' section," said the questioner to the
two guards who had brought Dick in.

So Dick was led out again, and once more escorted along a road.
He judged that the walk from dug-out to camp must have been at
least two miles in length. The "prison" to which he found himself
taken consisted of a high barbed wire enclosure, with a small
wooden building at one end, and another end of the enclosure fenced
off for officers.

Into the building Dick was taken first. It contained only one
room and was evidently used as a booking and record office.

Again he was asked his name by an officer behind a desk. As before
Prescott refused to state anything further than that his name was
Richard Prescott, and that he was a captain of infantry in the
American Army.

"But you will have to tell us more than that," objected the German
officer blandly.

"I'll answer any questions you may put to me," promised Dick,
"but I won't agree, in advance, to answer them truthfully."

Another bald effort was made to force him to answer questions,
but Dick gave evasive replies that carried no information.

"Take the fellow to the officers' section," ordered the man at
the desk, at last.

So through a dark yard Prescott was led between rows of prisoners
sleeping on the ground. Some of them, too cold and miserable
to sleep, stirred uneasily as the newcomers passed by.

It was the same in the officers' section. Though the night was
cold, all prisoners were sleeping on bare ground in the open.

There were some four hundred prisoners in this lot, all French
except Prescott.

In the officers' section he found some twenty men, also all French.
Two of them sat up as Dick entered.

"Hola!" cried one of them in his own tongue. "You are an American?"

"Yes," Prescott admitted.

"Come and join us. We have the best bed in this camp."

"It looks as if it might be hard," smiled Dick, glancing down
at the men.

"Hard, but not so bad, after all," replied the other officer.
"See, we have removed our overcoats and spread them on the ground.
And we have two blankets over us. Come under the blankets with
us, and we shall all be warmer."

Dick hesitated. He wondered if he wouldn't be crowding them out
of their none too good protection against the night air.

"If you get in with us," urged the first, "it will make us all

On the face of it that looked reasonable, provided he did not
crowd either out under the edge of the blankets.

"Oh, there will be plenty of room," one of them assured him.
"We can lie very close together. And you have no blanket if you
sleep by yourself."

So Dick allowed himself to be persuaded. Then, to his surprise,
they insisted that he get in the middle between them. This, too,
he finally accepted, but repaid them in part by taking off his

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Online LibraryH. Irving HancockUncle Sam's Boys with Pershing's Troops Dick Prescott at Grips with the Boche → online text (page 9 of 12)