Dave Porter's war honors; or, At the front with the fighting engineers

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Dave Porter's war honors; or, At the front with the fighting engineers

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Dave Porter's war honors; or, At the front with the fighting engineers
Series Title:
His Dave Porter series
Stratemeyer, Edward
Place of Publication:
Lothrop, Lee & Shepard Co.
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1 online resource (308 pages)


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World War, 1914-1918 ( lcsh )
serial ( sobekcm )


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Volume 1, Number 15

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The University of South Florida Libraries believes that the Item is in the Public Domain under the laws of the United States, but a determination was not made as to its copyright status under the copyright laws of other countries. The Item may not be in the Public Domain under the laws of other countries.
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04620690 ( OCLC )
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'.'Dave Porters, War Honors 'l f "" .:;-.. Edward Strnlemeyer


DAVE PORTER'S WAR HONORS OR At the Front with the Fighting Engineers


IDa\?e porter series DA VE PORTER'S WAR HONORS OR AT THE FRONT WITH THE FIGHTING ENGINEERS BY EDWARD STRATEMEYER .Author of "Dave Porter at Oak Hall," "Old Glory Bertee," "Colonial Seriee," 0 Lakeport Berlea,11 etc. ILLUSTRATED BT R. EllllJIETT OWEN BOSTON LOTHROP, LEE & SHEPARD CO.




PREFACE "DAVE PORTER'S WAR HONORS" is a com plete story in itself, but forms the fifteenth volume in a line issued under the general title, Dave Porter Series." As my old readers know, this line was begun years ago by the publication of Dave Porter at Oak Hall," in which I introduced a wide-awake American boy at a typical American boarding school. This was followed by "Dave Porter in the South Seas," and then by" Dave Porter's Re turn to School." After that we had" Dave Por ter in the Far North," where the lad went on a long journey looking for his father; Dave Por ter and His Classmates," in which the hero was put to a most severe test; and then by" Dave Por ter at Star Ranch," where a number of strenuous adventures befell him. Leaving the West, Dave returned again to school, as related in "Dave Porter and His Ri vals." Then came a remarkable voyage, as nar rated in "Dave Porter on Cave Island"; follow ing which he taught some of his school friends a much-needed lesson, the particulars of which were set forth in Dave Porter and the Runaways." v


vi PREFACE It was not long after this that we again found our hero in the West, as related in Dave Porter in the Gold Fields," where he helped to relocate a lost mine. Coming back, he put in a grand vacation in the Adirondack Mountains, many of the particulars of which are told in Dave Porter at Bear Camp." Graduating from school, our hero took up the study of civil engineering. This at first took him to the Mexican Border, as related in Dave Porter and His Double," and then out to Mon tana, as we learn in "Dave Porter's Great Search." The great war in Europe was now on, and the entrance of our into the contest caused Dave to become an army engineer. He went to France and there had some decidedly strenuous adventures, as told in" Dave Porter Under Fire." In the present volume Dave is still with the fighting engineers on the war-scarred battle fields of France. His adventures are thrilling in the extreme, but no more so than have fallen to the lot of many a young American in this epoch making conflict. Again I thank my many readers for the interest they have shown in my books; and I trust that the reading of the present volume will inspire all with an added love for our country. EDWARD STRA TEMEYER.






DAVE PORTER'S WAR HONORS CHAPTER I NEAR THE FIGHTING FRONT PHIL, where is Roger? " I don't know, Dave. I haven't seen him for the last quarter of an hour." You don't suppose he got lost somewhere in that gully we crossed? continued Dave Porter, with an anxious look on his bronzed face. "It wouldn't be surprising, Dave," answered Phil Lawrence. I almost got lost myself, the tangle Qf was so thick." Yes, and don't forget that we had to hide once or twice when the Boches sent over those big shells," broke in another member of the engineer ing party, that was working its way through some scrub timber not a great distance back of the American fighting front in France. "I'm not forgetting that," answered Dave grimly. He well remembered how he had heard the whining of a shell, had dropped down into a shell I


2 DAVE PORTER'S WAR HONORS crater, and then heard the missile explode some distance away. His left shin had been barked, and likewise his shoulder, but to these small hurts he was just then paying no attention. 11 We might set up a call for him," said another of the army engineers, a rather stout individual. 11 No, don't do that, Buster I cried Dave hast ily. Some of those Boches may be closer than we imagine. I heard a report from somebody yesterday that they thought the Germans had some machine-gun nests in the upper end of this wood." 11 Say, talking about machine-guns puts me in mind of a story I heard last night," broke in a tall, lanky-appearing engineer. "Two men of a gun company had a -" "For the love of beans, Shadow I don't start to tell a story now," broke in Phil Lawrence. Keep those for to-night, when we get back to our shelter." 11 It wasn't a very long story," grumbled the would-be story teller. 11 However, it will keep," he added resignedly. 11 But say I it sure is funny about Roger. The last I saw of him he was crossing that gully about a hundred feet away from where I was." "You saw him go down, I suppose, Shadow," remarked Dave. 11 But did you see him come up?" I did not. I was busy looking out for my-


NEAR THE FIGHTING FRONT self. I was afraid the minute I showed myself some sharpshooter or machine-gun crowd would fire on me." "It's too bad we couldn't go forward and fin ish that road we started," said another of the young engineers, Ben Basswood. I don't un derstand it at all." Well, orders are orders, Ben; and they must be obeyed," answered Dave, with a smile. He was now a sergeant and in command of the detail which was making its way through that section of the wood on the American front. "Oh, I know that! responded Dave's former school chum quickly. I suppose there must be a good reason for stopping the work. By the way, it looks to me as if a storm was coming up." "Gee I we've had nothing but storms lately," grumbled Phil Lawrence. "At least five in the last two weeks I You'd think there wouldn't be any more water left in the sky." Over to the eastward a heavy mass of clouds had appeared. There had been but little wind, but now the leaves began to stir, and then a breeze sprang up, while the heavens began to grow dark rapidly. Far off to the north there had been a constant booming of heavy artillery, punctuated occasionally by the rattle of smaller firearms. Now the booming of the cannon on the German front commenced to extend southward.


4 DAVE PORTER'S WAR HONORS Say, that sounds as if we might get in the direct line of fire before long I cried Phil. Perhaps that's the reason we were ordered to go back," answered Dave. Come, boys, we'll have to hurry a bit. Hike up." The young civil engineers were well loaded down, not only with full soldier kits, including guns, but also with various tools, including picks, shovels and axes. Consequently, to hike up over the uneven ground and through the scrub timber and rank undergrowth was by no means easy. "This traveling sure does get a fellow's wind," grumbled Buster, as he stopped for a moment to catch his breath and run the perspiration from his forehead with the side of his finger. Talk about exercise this beats anything I ever did in the Oak Hall gym." Wow I wouldn't old Oak Hall look good to us now?" cried Shadow, his eyes shining. "Think of that comfortable mess-hall, with those beautiful tables all set with clean linen and chinaware, and the smoking hot meat, not to say anything about the mashed potatoes, green corn, lima beans, and that beautiful pie, -:md -" Say I if you keep on talking that way, I'll drown you in the first shell-hole full of water we come to I burst out Phil. I'm hungry enough now without your making me worse."


NEAR THE FIGHTING FRONT 5 Never mind, boys, I guess there will be a good hot mulligan waiting for us when we get to camp," said Dave, with a grin. The detail of which Dave Porter was in com mand consisted of twelve army The majority of them were young men, four of whom were Dave's personal friends and old school chums. All had been tramping through the wood for the best part of an hour, trying to reach their headquarters, located among some hills farther to the southward. Say, Dave, did Roger tell you anything about his gas mask? questioned Phil, while the two were walking side by side, with the others behind "He told me yesterday that he didn't think it was in very good working order," was the reply. He said he wanted to have it fixed when he got back to camp." Well, he tried to fix it himself this morning, and in doing it broke the mouthpiece." Didn't he get it fixed at all? questioned the young sergeant of the engineer quickly. "I don't think he did. He didn't have time." That's too bad I He ought to have taken time It's dangerous to be out in this neighbor hood without a mask that is in good working order." "That's what I told him. But he said he guessed it would be all right."


6 DAVE PORTER'S WAR HONORS The young civil engineers now i:eached a por tion of the wood where the ground was very un even and interspersed with many jagged rocks. Here, in some places, the shell fire of a former battle had thrown up the ground and the growth in violent fashion, so that they were often at a loss how to progress. Once Dave stepped into some undergrowth and went down into a hole up to his knees, and a moment later came a stifled cry from Buster Beggs. Hello! there goes Buster! cried Shadow. "Where did he go?" questioned Dave, turn ing around. Slid off through those bushes on the left." Help me I Somebody pull me out, or I'll drown I called the hapless engineer. Working their way through the bushes, the oth ers saw Buster floundering around in a shell crater which was about ten feet in diameter and of un known depth. It was almost filled with dirty water, and in this the young engineer was strug gling, the load on his back dragging him down ward. Standing on the edge of the shell-hole, Dave extended the stock of his gun, and Phil did like wise, and, grasping both of these, Buster was dragged to the edge of the hole, and then willing hands assisted him once more to his feet.


NEAR THE FIGHTING FRONT 7 "What's the matter, Buster? Didn't you see the hole? questioned Dave. "I did, when it was too late," was the answer. The ground on that side is all wet and slippery, and I went down' on it like on a toboggan-slide. Say I I'm some wet and muddy, eh? and he looked at himself dolefully. Never mind. You'll not mind the storm that is coming up," remarked Dave. "Unless I miss my guess, we'll all be soaked to the skin in a few minutes." To the rumble of the distant guns was now added the rumble of thunder. Then came several sharp flashes of lightning, and the wind came rush ing through the wood. It's coming, all right enough I cried Phil. Come I Hike up and follow me I cried Dave. "I think I know where we can get a lit tle shelter if it becomes too bad." Carrying their heavy packs and engineering im plements as best they could, the engineers hurried along through the wood at Dave's heels. The young sergeant was headed for a small hill, to one side of which was something of a cliff that he thought might offer at least slight protection from the on-coming storm. He had visited the cliff some days before, and had noticed that there was more or less of a hollow beneath it, a hollow


8 DAVE PORTER'S WAR HONORS screened by a number of trees and some dense underbrush. As they advanced, Dave could not but think of his chum, Roger Morr. "He should have kept close to us," said Dave to Ben. There is no use in taking chances by straying away in such a dangerous locality as this." "Maybe Roger was hit by a stray bullet and we never knew it," was the reply. "You know every once in a while some poor fellow is knocked out that way." Oh, don't say that, Ben! answered Dave, and then he became exceedingly thoughtful. Roger was engaged to Dave's sister, and what would Laura say if the young civil engineer should be thus laid low? The engineers came in sight of the cliff just as the first big drops of the on-coming storm came beating down on the leaves. Without hesitation, Dave led the way through some heavy underbrush until the foot of the cliff was gained. "Well, this is some shelter, but not a great deal," remarked Shadow. "Better than being out there in the open," returned Buster. He had scarcely spoken when there came a vivid flash of lightning, followed by a deafening


NEAR THE FIGHTING FRONT 9 crash of thunder. Then came another crash not a great distance away. Gee I that lightning struck a tree pretty close to us 1 gasped one of the engineers. There it is right up on the top of the cliff 1 exclaimed Phil. "Look out 1 It's coming down I" Dave. Come in close to the rocks, all of you I" The engineers did as directed, and a moment later they heard the big tree rolling and crashing through the underbrush some distance away. Then came another crash of thunder, followed by a tremendous downpour of rain. Keeping close to the foot of the cliff, Dave and the others of his party began to search around among the rocks. Presently one of the young fel lows set up a shout. Here is an opening I I don't know how deep it is, but it looks to be pretty roomy." Dave carried a pocket flashlight with him, and this was turned on to dispel the gloom, for the sky was now completely overcast, and under the cliff it was quite dark. "It's a regular cave," announced the young sergeant, after a hasty examination. Here, Phil, give me your hand and I will let myself down and look around." The opening under the cliff proved to be amply


10 DAVE PORTER'S WAR HONORS large to shelter all of them, and the army en gineers were glad enough to get into it and re lieve themselves of their packs. Then they sat down to rest and to talk over the situation. I'd feel a good deal better if Roger were with us," remarked Dave to Phil, as he and his ::>Id school chum peered forth from the opening of the cave-like shelter. "You've said it, Dave I was the low reply. Gee I if anything happened to Roger-" Phil did not finish, but shook his head gravely. I'm going out to look for him just as soon as the storm lets up." You'll let me go along, won't you, Dave? questioned the other quickly. Phil himself was only a corporal, so he must obey any order from a superior. "Of course," was the ready response. The engineers had emergency rations with th,em, and they lost no time in satisfying their hunger as best they could, building a small fire for the purpose of making some hot chocolate and drying out Buster's water-soaked garments. The rather scanty meal finished, Dave, fol lowed by Phil, crawled out of the shelter and walked forward to where the base of the cliff came to an end. Here they could still hear the booming of the distant artillery "Looks to me as if the storm was letting up,"


NEAR THE FIGHTING FRONT n remarked Phil. And the wind is dying down, too." To this remark Dave made no answer. He was listening intently, and now to hear better he placed his hand to his ear. What do you hear? questioned Phil, after a moment of silence. Listen for yourself, Phil." The other young engineer did so, and then a look of alarm came into his face. Is that a gas attack warning, Dave? "That's just what it is, Phil I The Germans must be launching such an attack! "That's bad I "Notify the others at once, Phil. Tell the men I want them to take no chances, but get their masks on and keep them on until they are dead sure it is perfectly safe to take them off." But what are you going to do? "I'm going out to look for Roger. If he's lost in the woods, or if he's been wounded and is without a mask that will work, he's in danger of his life." But you said I could go along I " All right, then, follow me. But warn all the others first," answered Dave; and then hur ried off through the rain-soaked wood on the hunt for his missing chum.


CHAPTER II THE GAS ATTACK I'VE got to find Roger -I've got to do it I Such were the words that Dave murmured to himself as he dashed away from Phil's side, mak ing off in the direction where he had last seen Roger Morr. As he advanced he adjusted his gas mask, knowing that it would be foolhardy to move along without it, even though it somewhat impeded his breathing. Dave was filled with a great fear for the wel fare of the lad who had been his chum for so many years and who just before leaving home had become engaged to his sister "If he's all right, he'll know how to make use of his gas mask, even if the mouthpiece is broken," he reasoned to himself. "But if he's badly wounded, or is unconscious, he won't be able to save himself when the gas reaches him Oh, I've got to find him I've just got to I To those of my readers who have perused one or more of the former volumes in this series, Dave Porter will need no introduction. For the benefit, however, of those who are now meeting Dave 12


THE GAS ATTACK 13 for the first time, let me state a few facts concern ing his boyhood and the years immediately follow ing. When a very small lad Dave had been found wandering alongside the railroad tracks in Crum ville in one of our eastern States. No one came forward to claim him, and he was put in the local poorhouse and later on bound out to a one-time college professor, Caspar Potts, who was then farming for his health. In a fine mansion on the outskirts of Crumville dwelt Mr. Oliver Wadsworth, a wealthy jewelry manufacturer, with his wife and his daughter Jessie. One day the gasoline tank of an auto mobile took fire, and little Jessie was in danger of being burned to death when Dave, who chanced to be near, rushed to her rescue. Because of this brave act, the rich jewelry manufacturer became interested in the boy and decided that he should be given the benefit of a good education. The lad was sent to a first-class boarding-school, as related in the first volume of this series, entitled, "Dave Porter at Oak Hall." With Dave went Ben Basswood, his one friend iri the town. At Oak Hall, Dave made a host of friends, in cluding Roger Morr, the son of a well-known United States senator; Phil Lawrence, whose father was a rich shipowner; Maurice Hamilton, who loved to tell stories and who was generally


14 DAVE PORTER'S WAR HONORS known as Shadow because of his thinness; and Buster Beggs, who was as stout as he was good natured. It can be easily understood that in those days the principal thing that troubled Dave was the question of his parentage. Some mean school boys called him a poorhouse nobody "; and to solve the mystery of his identity he took a long voyage, as related in "Dave Porter in the South Seas." He met his uncle, Dunston Porter, and learned much concerning his father, David Bres low Porter, and also his sister Laura, who were at that time traveling in Europe. After his trip to the South Seas, Dave returned for a while t o school, but then went to the Far North and succeeded in locating his father. In the meantime, Dave's sister had gone to the West, to visit her intimate friend, Belle Endicott, who lived on Star Ranch in Montana. Later still, Laura, Dave and some of his chums visited the ranch and there had" the time of their lives," as they afterward declared. Coming back from the West, Dave supposed that matters would flow along smoothly, but such was not the case. At Christmas time came a startling robbery of the Wadsworth jewelry works, and Dave and his chums discovered that the crime had been committed by two of the former bullies of Oak Hall. After a voyage to


THE GAS ATTACK IS Cave Island one of the rascals was captured and the stolen goods recovered. The trip to Cave Island was later on followed by another to the great West, where Dave aided Roger Morr in relocating a gold mine which had been inherited by Mrs. Morr and lost through a landslide. After this our hero went to Bear Camp in the Adirondack Mountains. There he had a most unusual experience, falling in with a young man who was almost his double in appearance. Dave had now graduated from Oak Hall, and he and Roger Morr had taken up the profession of civil engineering. This work at first took them to Texas, and then to the wilds of Montana. They had positions with the Mentor Construction Company, and their camp was under the general management of Mr. Ralph Obray, assisted by a number of others, including a middle-aged engi neer, Frank Andrews, who speedily became a warm friend of the youths. It was a great day for the young civil engineers when they set sail for Central America to assist in the work of building a railroad in Costa Rica. This was at the time when the World War was in progress in Europe, but before the United States had entered the conflict. They were in the midst of some exciting happenings in the Central Amer ican republic when word came that the United


16 DAVE PORTER'S WAR HONORS States had joined with the Allies to make the world safe for democracy." "Roger, how would you like to become an army engineer? Dave had asked of his chum. And then he had spoken of how the United States Government would probably need hundreds of army engineers to assist the soldiers in their bat tles with the Central Powers. Mr. Ralph Obray had once been a major in the State militia, and on returning to the United States he became a captain of a unit of the engineers raised by the Engineering Society. He was very anxious to 'have Dave and Roger join this unit, and after consulting with their folks, the two young civil engineers wei;e sworn into the service. With them went Ben Basswood, and also Phil Lawrence, Shadow Hamilton, and Buster Beggs. Before the boys left home to go to Camp Hickory, as the cantonment was called, several interesting events took place. As my old readers know, to Dave there was no girl in the world quite so nice as Jessie Wadsworth, and the pair had a very definite understanding regarding what they intended to do when Dave returned from the war. Roger had always been very attentive to Laura Porter, and just before leaving for camp their engagement was announced. On his first trip to Star Ranch, Phil Lawrence had become enamored of Belle Endicott, and the


THE GAS ATTACK happiness of his chums made him exceedingly anxious regarding his own future. He sent an earnest telegram to Belle; and a little later met that young lady in New York City and there got her to promise something which was in every de gree highly satisfactory to the shipowner's son. From Camp Hickory the young civil engineers entrained for an American port, and there went aboard one of the big army transports, as related in the last volume of this series, entitled, Dave Porter Under Fire." This transport was attacked by two submarines, but escaped injury, and a little later the young soldiers found themselves on French soil. Here they went into intensive training for a number of weeks and were then sent to the front. While in the training camp at home Dave and the others had made the acquaintance of a French widow, who had suffered much because of the war and because of the doings of a German spy, named Rudolph Holtzmann. The poor widow's two children had been lost during the first upheaval of war in Alsace-Lorraine, and to add to her misery she was later on robbed by the spy, who had been boarding with her. All the "fighting engineers," as they were af fectionately termed, had had some strenuous ad ventures during those first few weeks on the firing line. They ha:d been set to building roadways


18 DAVE PORTER'S WAR HONORS and bridges, and had been under fire on more than one occasion. Then, during a brief respite in their work, Dave had gotten word concerning Rudolph Holtzmann, and, with the aid of the French authorities, had succeeded in cornering this rascal and had discovered the whereabouts of the Widow Carot's missing children. Dave, Roger, and Phil had been cited in the or ders of the day for bravery, and a little later Dave had been made a sergeant of the engineers, while Roger and Phil became corporals. "You're getting up in the world, Dave," had been Roger's comment. "First thing you know, you'll be a lieutenant or a captain." "Time enough for that, Roger," Dave an swered. I think you've got just as good a chance as I have. In fact, I can't understand why they didn't make you and Phil sergeants as well as myself." "Oh, we didn't do as much as you did," the senator's son had answered. "You always were a natural-born leader." Oh, cut it, Roger l Dave had cried. Never theless, he knew that his chum was sincere in what he said, and he was correspondingly pleased. At heart Roger was one of the best fellows in the world, and it was with intense satisfaction that Dave had learned the young man was one day to be come his only sister's husband.


THE GAS ATTACK 19 And that was the reason why, as he dashed through the rain-soaked wood, Dave told himself that he must find Roger, no matter at what cost. He felt that if he failed in this his sister would never forgive him, and, for the matter of that, he would never forgive himself. He ploughed forward through the soaked un derbrush and scrambled over the rough rocks as best he could. Then, as looking through the mask was difficult, he took a deep breath, and, holding it, took the mask off for a moment to gaze around him anxiously But no human being was in sight, and, readjusting his mask, he went forward once ag'1.in. Glancing backward, he saw that Phil was swiftly following him. Off to the north of where he had been walking there had been at one time something of a woods' trail, used probably by the farmers of that vicin ity. This was much torn up, with shell craters dotting it at short distances. As Dave came closer to this abandoned trail he caught sight of something which caused him to stop in wonder. There, sheltered by some rocks and a mass of brushwood, were a heap of unused shells, evi dently for three-inch guns. How in the world did those shells get here? he asked himself. They certainly don't belong to our artillery." A brief examination revealed to the young en-


20 DAVE PORTER'S WAR HONORS gineer that they were German shells. They had probably been left there by the Huns at the time they had tried to take the wood several weeks before. A slight advance had been made by one or two German regiments, but this had been re pulsed by the American artillery. I'll have to report this to headquarters as soon as I get back," he told himself. He was just turning away from the pile of shells when Phil came up. He pointed the pile out to his chum, and the young corporal was much surprised. He motioned to the shells and then toward the American line, but Dave shook his head and pointed toward the Ge Jian line, to indi cate that they must be shells left there by the enemy. So far there was but a slight trace of gas throughout the wood, but as the two young civil engineers advanced they met a cloud of the poison ous vapor rolling toward them in a yellowish haze. Dave felt of his mask to make sure that it was properly adjusted and pointed to Phil's, who nod ded to show that he also was on his guard. Presently the pair reached the spot where Roger had last been seen by them. They looked around in every direction, but without avail. Then Dave looked at his chum, but Phil merely shrugged his shoulders to show that he did not know what to make of the situation or what to do next.


CHAPTER III THE FINDING OF ROGER As THE two young army engineers turned away from where they were standing to look up and down the gully which had been crossed at the time they had seen the last of their chum, they noticed that the cloud of poisonous gas was growing more dense. On every side the water-laden wood showed a thick and sickly yellow haze, the very appearance of which was enough to make one shudder. For the time being the rain had let up. Over head the heavy clouds were passing swiftly to the southward, but the wind seemed to be too high up to drive the poisonous gas away. Dave and his chum traveled all of a quarter of a mile down the gully without getting any trace of Roger Then they came back on the far side of the gully and progressed in the opposite direc tion. This upper section of the wood had been under fire several times during the war, and was conse quently much torn up. Shell-holes were to be met at every little distance, and here and there the dying trees lay across the underbrush. 21


22 DAVE PORTER'S WAR HONORS Presently Dave clutched his chum by the arm and pointed to an opening leading down into the gully at a point which so far had not been ex plored. There on the ground lay a newspaper a copy of the Stars and Stripes, the official sheet of the American Expeditionary Force in France. Both of the young civil engineers were much in terested in the discovery of this newspaper, for they remembered that Roger had had a copy of the publication with him on their last trip forward. In fact, the senator's son had read some articles aloud for the benefit of his friends. If this is the newspaper he was carrying, he must have come this way," was Dave's reasoning, and Phil was of a similar mind. With caution, for the going was treacherous, the two young engineers made their way down the rocks and over the muddy places and through the rain-soaked underbrush toward the bottom of the gully, which, at this point, was thirty or forty feet in depth and probably twice that in width at the top. At the bottom was a tiny watercourse, gur gling over and around the jagged rocks. Reaching the watercourse, Dave and Phil looked up and down for some trace of their miss ing chum. But on account of the poisonous haze, which filled the gully, it was difficult to see any considerable distance. Dave motioned to his chum that he was going


THE FINDING OF ROGER 23 farther up the gully, and Phil nodded to show that he was willing to continue the search, even though the p0isonous gas in that hollow might be highly dangerous for both of them. They had progressed less than a hundred feet when, on coming to a momentary they sud denly found several small stones rolling toward them from one side of the gully. Looking up in that direction, they discovered Roger seated on a rock and motioning to them. The lost young engineer had his gas mask ad justed, for which both Dave and Phil were thank ful. But he sat on the rock nursing his left ankle, and now they saw that he had removed his shoe and had the ankle bound with a bandage. By looking up behind Roger it was easy to make out what had happened to him. In trying to make his way out of the gully after coming down from the other side, he had trusted his weight to some bushes near the top. They had given way, and he had come down almost to the bottom with a rush, falling and rolling over some sharp rocks as he did so. Then he showed them how his left foot had become caught between two of the rocks, and this had twisted his ankle, making it so pain ful that he could not use the foot. Dave felt that the first thing for him and Phil to do was to get Roger out of the gas-choked gully. The young engineers had had not a little


24 DAVE PORTER'S WAR HONORS experience in carrying wounded men, and now this helped them to lift Roger and move him without causing the hurt ankle much additional pain. They did not attempt to get to the top of the gully at that point, but walked along the watercourse for several hundred feet, until they reached a point where egress from the hollow was compara tively easy. On the upper level all were glad to notice that the gas was considerably thinner. Here the breeze was beginning to freshen, and this was serving to dissipate the noxious chemicals. But even though the gas was becoming thinner and thinner, the young engineers knew better than to remove their masks too quickly. Having reached the top of the gully, Dave de cided to set off in the direction of the cliff where he had left the others of his detail. In order to make certain of the direction he pulled out a pocket compass for consultation. Then, more out of habit than because he wanted to know the time, he looked for his watch. The timepiece was gone I It had disappeared along with the strap that had held it. Dave was startled, and not without good rea son, for the wrist watch was one that had been presented to him on leaving for the front and was both handsome and valuable. Like a flash it suddenly came to the young en gineer where the watch had been dropped. He


THE FINDING OF ROGER 25 remembered now that he had looked at it when about to turn away from the pile of German shells which he had found hidden near the old wood trail. After looking at the watch he now remem bered that something had struck his foot, which at the time he had thought was a stick or a stone. Now he felt sure it must have been the missing timepiece. It would not be much out of their way to return to the vicinity of the cliff by way of the spot where the pile of shells had been discovered, and so Dave and Phil set off in that direction carrying Roger between them. The wind was now coming up strongly; and soon they felt it would be safe to remove their gas masks, and accordingly did so. Gosh I but I'm glad to get this off," were .Phil's first words, after he had cautiously tested the air with his nose to discover if he could still detect the odor of gas. Even though the mouthpiece on his mask had been broken, Roger had had little difficulty in using the outfit, and had not suffered from the poison ous attack. But his left ankle pained him not a little, and when, supported by his chums, he at tempted to stand on his foot he made a decidedly wry face. "Ouch I" he exclaimed. "Feels worse than ten thousand needles jabbing through it." "Don't worry," answered Dave kindly. "We


26 DAVE PORTER'S WAR HONORS can carry you just as well as not, can't we, Phil? " Of course we can I was the quick reply. It will take us a little longer to reach the others, but what of that? " Dave, I hope you get your watch back. I know you .'d hate to lose it," said Roger, as the others prepared to pick him up once more. Oh, I'm almost certain I know where I dropped it," was the young sergeant's reply. The booming of the heavy artillery in the dis tance had ceased, but now came another crash off to the southward. That's thunder I exclaimed Phil. Looks to me as if that storm might be coming back." "It certainly did let down while it was at it," remarked Roger. I didn't have to crawl down to the brook to soak that bandage for my ankle. All I had to do was to draw it over the bushes and grass around me and it got soaked in a minute." The veering of the wind once again made the atmosphere pure around them, and for this, as they drank in the fresh air, they were exceedingly thankful. I'll tell you one thing fresh air is like fresh water," remarked Phil. "You don't know how good both of them are until you can't get them." I can tell you I felt pretty bad down there in the gully all alone," returned Roger. "Once or twice I tried to crawl out, but the pain in that


THE FINDING OF ROGER 27 ankle was so terrific it was too much for me. I was afraid that I might faint, and then if my mask got loose in any way it would have been all up with me." As they advanced Dave told of finding the pile of three-inch shells hidden in the brushwood. Roger was as much interested as Phil had been. Do you suppose they were put there lately, Dave? questioned the corporal. "I don't believe so, Roger. I think they date back to some other time probably some time be fore we were on or near this front. You know this part of France had been under fire for many months." The sky was growing dark again, and now came a flash of lightning at a distance, followed by a rumble of thunder. Then came more rain and several other lightning flashes, each one a little nearer than those before "We're in for it, all right enough," was Phil's comment. I wish we were back in the shelter of the cliff." How far is that from here? questioned Roger. "At least a quarter of a mile," answered Dave. With the storm coming on again the wood grew rapidly darker, so that it was with difficulty that the young engineers picked their way through the tangle of brushwood and around the rocks and


28 DA VE PORTER'S WAR HONORS fallen trees. It was now rai ning steadily, and before long all were wet to the skin. "It's too bad I took you so far ot of the way, Phil," remarked Dave. "I suppose we might have gone on direct to the shelter of the cliff, and I could have come back to look {or that watch some time later." "Oh, that's all right, Dave," was the quick reply. "We would have got wet anyhow. I want you to get your watch back first of all. It won't do the timepiece any good to be lying out there in the wet." The three young engineers were still about a hundred yards away from the hidden shells when the storm seemed to burst directly over their heads with tremendous fury. There was a vivid flash of lightning, followed by a loud crack of thunder, and then off to their left they heard one of the big trees of the forest come down with a crash, car rying some small growth with it. Wow I that was some crack, believe me I exclaimed Phil, after it was over. We can be mighty thankful we weren't under that tree that was struck," said Roger It certainly is a heavy storm," put in D av e; and it seems to be growing worse every minute. Just look how dark it is becoming." "I hope it doesn't get so dark you can't see to find your watch," said Phil.


THE FINDING OF ROGER 29 The lightning and thunder had brought them to a temporary halt, but now they started to go for ward again, the flash of lightning having left them in a darkness which was almost absolute. Be careful you don't go down in some hole, Dave," cried Phil, for the young sergeant was in advance, carrying Roger by the knees, while Phil in the rear supported their chum under his arms. The words had scarcely been spoken when there came another jagged flash of lightning from the sky almost directly, so it seemed, in front of the young engineers. They saw the fork of electricity shoot down into the very midst of the spot where the German shells lay hidden. The flash of lightning was followed by a crack of thunder, and then almost immediately afterward came a tre mendous explosion from the pile of shells as a number of them seemed to go off simultaneously. There was an awful flash of fire, and then Dave and the others were hurled backward in a heap among the bushes and trees.


CHAPTER IV LETTERS FOR fully a minute after the tremendous explo sion there was silence, broken only by the falling rain. Then came two minor explosions, one di rectly after the other. The three young engineers had been hurled into a thick mass of brushwood, backed up by several saplings. The brushwood had fortunately acted as a sort of cushion for their bodies, otherwise one or more of them must have been seriously injured. Even as it was, Dave had the wind taken out of him and had his left ear scratched by a branch. When our hero managed to scramble to his feet following the third explosion, he saw that Phil was wedged in between two of the saplings . Roger lay face downward, with both hands up to protect his head. How is it, boys, either of you hurt? de manded the young sergeant,. as soon as he could speak. I -I don't exactly kn know," stam mered Phil slowly. "Any m -'more explosions coming? he continued apprehensively. 30


"+ETTERS 31 "I'm sure I don't know." Dave gazed at Roger, who was now turning over and sitting up. How about you? "It didn't do my hurt ankle much good," re sponded the senator's son. But I guess we can all be thankful we weren't blown to bits." "Or struck by the lightning," added Dave. "And either of those things might have happened had we been where I think I dropped the watch." All three had by this time scrambled to their feet out of the brushwood, and now they lost no time in hurrying from the scene, Roger resting an arm over the shoulder of each of his chums and hopping along on his good foot. And it was well that they did this, for presently came another loud explosion, followed by several others. We got out just in time," observed Phil, with a grave shake of his head. I don't understand what made those last shells go off," remarked Dave. Certainly that light ning couldn't have done it." Maybe the dumps are connected with some mine," put in Roger quickly. "I wouldn't put it past the Germans to play some trick like that. It's been done before." He ref erred to an incident which had come to light just about the time the American Expedition ary Force had arrived in that neighborhood. Some German shells had been found located in a


3z DAVE PORTER'S WAR HONORS spot near a roadway. When the newly-arrived soldiers had started to pick some of the shells up they had disturbed some wires connected with a mine and there had been a loud explosion iri the roadway. Fortunately, at that time no artillery or motor lorries were passing that particular spot, so that comparatively small damage had been done. Maybe the mine was located on that old wood trail we saw," said Phil. "They might have fig ured out that the Americans would use that trail in coming this way." "I guess it's good-bye to that watch," remarked Dave. If it was anywhere near the ammunition dump those explosions must have smashed it com pletely." "Oh, I don't know about that," answered Phil. "It may have fallen down in some hole or be tween some rocks and been well protected Just the same, I don't think I would go near the place yet. There may be more explosions to come." "I don't intend to go near it," answered Dave. "We'll get back to the cliff and see what the other fellows are doing. If they are still there, these explosions will make them wonder what is hap pening." But even though he spoke thus lightly, the young sergeant felt the loss of the fine wrist-watch keenly. As said before, it had been a present


LETTERS 33 from the folks at home, and was quite valuable. "I should have been more careful about it," he told himself rather bitterly. I certainly was careless." The lightning and thunder now seemed to shift to the westward, but the rain continued to come down almost as heavily as before. Roger hopped along for quite a distance, but then intimated that he would have to rest. "We'll carry you as we did before, Roger," said Dave. It isn't very far to the cliff from here." "I don't see why I had to have such rotten luck trying to cross the gully," remarked the in jured one dolefully. I suppose this will send me to the hospital for a few days at least, and I don't want to go. I want to be in the thick of what is doing." "I think we'll all have to rest up a bit, Roger, if this storm keeps on," announced Dave. "The fact is, I don't think the plans for the next advance are quite worked out yet," he continued. Presently the three came in sight of the cliff, and a few minutes were down in the hollow where Dave and Phil had left the others. A shout went up from Ben and Shadow at their ap pearance. Hello I so you found him, did you? cried Shadow. "That's fine l


34 DAVE PORTER'S WAR HONORS "What's the matter with your foot, Roger?" demanded Ben. Oh, I twisted my ankle a bit between the rocks." Say, there have been some fearful explosions following some flashes of lightning," said one of the othe r engineers. Do you know anything about them?" "We know all about them,'' answered Dave. We were close to them in fact, too close for comfort." And in a few brief words those who had come in told of what had occurred since Dave and Phil had gone on the search for their missing comrade. "Lost your watch, eh, Dave?" said Ben. "That's too bad I But maybe you'll be able to find .it after this storm clears away and when you are sure there won't be any more explosions at that dump." All those left in the shelter of the cliff had donned their gas masks when told to do so by Phil. But Buster's mask had not worked very well, and now the stout lad lay on a pile of brushwood looking anything but well. I guess I swallowed some of the gas, all right enough," he said in a somewhat choked voice, while his eyes ran with tears. You see, I couldn't breathe very well, and so I tried to fix it. But I guess I made it worse."


LETTERS 35 If you got it, Buster, I guess the best thing we can do is to get you to the hospital as soon as possible," said Dave quickly. And then he de tailed Ben and Shadow for that work. In a quarter of an hour the heavy rain ceased, and the entire party set off for camp through a misty drizzle, which was anything but cheering. Those who had taken charge of Buster set off in advance, supporting the heavy young engineer be tween them. They were followed by the others, all taking turns in carrying Roger. I don't think that ankle is sprained so very badly after all," announced the senator's son. "And I am not going to the hospital unless I have to. I can bathe it and wrap it up in liniment, and maybe it will be all right in the morning." "And if it isn't, Roger, I'll see to it that you get a day's rest," answered Dave. On arriving at the engineers' camp, Dave made his report. Buster's condition was immedi;ttely investigated, and then an ambulance was called, into whir.h he was placed and carried to the near est emergency hospital. "The poor fellow may be worse off than we imagine," said Captain Obray to Dave. "You remember the fate of poor Williamson? "Indeed I do," answered our hero. William son was a somewhat elderly engineer, hailing from the South. Only a few weeks before he had gone


36 DAVE PORTER'S WAR HONORS to the front without his gas mask. As soon as a gas attack came, Williamson had fled to the rear, hoping to escape the deadly fumes. For several days he had acted as if nothing had harmed him. But then he had suddenly been taken with cramps and a feeling of sickness all over, and he was now in the hospital hovering between life and death. Once back in camp, Roger lost no time in at tending to his injured ankle, being assisted in this by Ben and Shadow. In the meantime Dave had to attend to his duties as a sergeant, while Phil went over to perform his own duties as a corporal, and also those which had been assigned to the senator's son. For three days it rained almost constantly so much so that it was next to impossible for the engineers to do any of the 'work which .had been assigned to them. A large part of that territory in France was rather low, and the rain caused many pools and some lakes to form. One of the main roadways was about a foot under water, and many of the lorry drivers asked jokingly how soon they were going to run boats in that vicinity. It was almost impossible to move anything, and one battery attempted to shift its position got completely stuck in the mud and had to be left there until the storm let up. In those days the young engineers had one place to visit which gave them a great deal of comfort.


LETTERS 37 This was a large Y. M. C. A hut, which had been established in that vicinity only a short while before. -Here the boys often gathered in their off time, to write letters, play games, or listen to the music of a small but sweet-toned phonograph which had been set up. Those who cared to do so could smoke, and also obtain chocolate and other sweets, and likewise something hot to drink. "It's a mighty fine idea," was Dave's comment one evening, after he had spent two hours at the hut, writing some letters and listening to some familiar songs reproduced on the phonograph. Right you ari; 1 And the Y. M C. A. people and those who are supporting the movement de serve a great deal of credit for what they have done," replied Phil. I understand the Knights of Columbus are going to put up a hut some miles farther down the line," put in another of the engineers. Yes. And the Salvation Army are doing something of the same thing," came from still an other. "A fellow was telling me the other day that they were dealing out hot pies and doughnuts right close to the firing-line. Some work for the lassies, eh? and he smiled broadly. During those days Roger's ankle grew better rapidly. He still limped a little when he walked, but he could get around, and declared that in a few days more he would be as well as ever. Con-


38 DAVE PORTER'S WAR HONORS cerning Buster, however, the report was i:iot so encouraging. Evidently he had got more of a dose of the poisonous gas than he had thought, and he was suffering considerably. It ought to be a lesson to all of us to be very careful to keep our masks in perfect order," said Dave. It's a lesson to me, all right enough," an swered Roger. "My mask is in the best condi tion now, and you can bet I'm going to see to it that it is kept that way. I'd rather have a good gas mask in this war than a good suit of clothes or new shoes." Letters I Letters! Letters 1 It was a welcome cry from the far end of the camp, and immediately afterward came a rush from all sides, every engineer being more than anxious to get tidings from the loved ones left be hind. There was a good-natured scramble as a whole sackful of epistles were distributed, and then the men drifted off in one direction or another to read the precious communications. Dave was much disappointed. There was a letter from his Uncle Dunston, but none from Jes sie. He had heard from the girl two weeks be fore, but he had hoped that she would send an other communication soon. He saw that Roger had a letter from his sister Laura, and knew that between Laura's letter and that from his uncle he


LETTERS would get a good idea of what was taking place in Crumville. Phil had been made happy by two letters; one, which evidently had been delayed, being from Belle Endicott. The letter from his Uncle Dunston contained several items which were of considerable interest to our hero. One was to the effect that the Wen sell Munition Company, in which Dave's father was greatly interested, was doing more war work than ever before. And another was that both his father and his uncle had been active in the new Liberty Loan campaign, and had taken a large block of the bonds and had induced Mr. Wads worth to do likewise. "I knew they would do it," said Dave to him self. They are true blue, every one of them. My I from what Uncle Dunston writes, that Liberty Loan campaign must have been a red-hot one." Of course we are all very proud of the fact that you have become a sergeant," wrote Dunston Porter. "If you keep on the way you have started some day you may become a lieutenant or a captain, or go even higher. You certainly have our best wishes. And that puts me in mind, Dave. You, of course, remember Nat Poole, old Aaron Poole's son, with whom you had so many differences in the past. Well, that slacker was finally drafted into the army in spite of all old Poole could do to keep


DAVE PORTER'S WAR HONOR3 him out. They sent him off to Camp Hickory; and now I understand he is on his way to France. I hope the war will knock some of the conceit out of him." Nat Pool coming to France after all I Dave murmured to himself as he read this portion of the letter. I don't see how they expect to make a soldier of him." He well remembered what a coward Nat Poole had been and how even at Oak Hall he had often tried to shield himself by get ting behind his cronies. And then for the time being Dave dismissed Nat Poole from his mind, never for a moment dreaming of what trouble the coming of this fel low to France portended.


CHAPTER V NEWS FROM HOME IMMEDIATELY after receiving his letter from Laura, Roger had been called away to perform some duties as a corporal, consequently it was not until some time later that Dave met him again. In the meantime the young sergeant ran across Phil, who was all smiles. Everything is going along beautifully with the Endicotts," announced the shipowner's son. Belle is deep in Red Cross work, and has prom ised to send me a fine sweater she is making for the coming winter. Her mother is in the work, too. Mr. Endicott, of course, has his hands full with railroad matters, for the road is shipping large quantities of provisions and war materials, as well as many soldiers. He says they are also raising an extra large amount of cattle on Star Ranch, because the packing-houses want all they can get." I'm glad to hear everything is going along so swimmingly," announced Dave. Did you get a letter from Jessie? " I did not worse luck 1 But I got a letter 41


42 DAVE PORTER'S WAR HONORS from my Uncle Dunston, and he says they are all well with the exception of poor old Professor Potts, who seems to be growing quite feeble. He wrote about Nat Poole, who was drafted, and he says Nat is now on the way to France." You don't say, Dave I That certainly is news. How angry old Aaron Poole must have been when they drafted Nat I" I suppose that is so, Phil. But I don't be lieve Mrs. Poole was angry. If you'll remember, she was quite a patriotic woman, and insisted on doing a lot for the Red Cross in spite of her hus band's objections." Yes, I remember that. Probably she is proud to know her son is in the army. I'd like to know how Nat takes it." I'm sure I don't know. I don't believe he would dare to grumble. The other fellows would jump on him pretty quick." "Perhaps joining the army will make a man of him." "I hope so." Dave shook his head dolefully. Nat certainly was a slacker. He didn't believe in fighting, no matter what the provocation." If he comes to France perhaps we'll see him, Dave." It's possible, but not very probable, Phil with so many hundreds of thousands coming over. He may not come to this part of the country at


NEWS FROM HOME 43 all. You know they are sending some of our men up into Belgium, and others down into Italy, as well as over here." Did your uncle have anything to say about the Widow Carot and her children, or that ras cally spy, Rudolph Holtzmann? " He said that the widow was overjoyed at the recovery of her children, and they were greatly pleased to think that Holtzmann was going to get what was coming to him from the French Gov ernment. Of course, our claim against Holtz mann has not yet been settled; but I think that sooner or later we'll get that money through the French courts." A little later Roger came back, and Dave and some of his other chums noticed that he looked un usually thoughtful. Dave at once mentioned the letter from his Uncle Dunston and told what it contained. You got some letters too, didn't you, Roger? he remarked after he had finished tell ing his news and when there had come something of an awkward pause. Yes, I got two; one from my mother and the other from Laura. My mother says that she and father are well and that father is very deep in affairs at Washington. These are certainly mighty busy times for a United States senator." Roger paused and Dave waited for him to go on. It


44 DAVE PORTER'S WAR HONORS was quite usual for the chums to mention what their letters contained, and often one or another would read a portion of an epistle which he thought might prove especially interesting. Laura also said they were all well at Crumville except Professor Potts, who is beginning to show his age," went on the senator's son. "She wrote me quite a lot about some entertainments they had been getting up for the benefit of some local chari ties which have been suffering because of the Red Cross and the Y. M. C. A. activities. I suppose a good many folks think because they give so much to the war organizations, they can't afford to give much for local charities, although local charities have to be kept up just the same." And then Roger began to talk about charities in general and from that branched off to other sub jects, including the war and the probable move ments of the engineers. It was evident to Dave and Phil that he was holding something back, but what it was neither of them could imagine. Dave hoped with all his heart that no quarrel had arisen between his sister and the chum he loved so well. Roger has got something on his mind -that's sure," remarked Phil a little later, when he and Dave were by themselves. So it looks to me, Phil. I hope neither of his letters contained bad news." If it was anything ordinary I think he would


NEWS FROM HOME 4S tell us about it," continued the shipowner's son thoughtfully. It almost looks to me as if it might concern us as well as Roger." "Well, if he doesn't want to mention it, Phil, I certainly am not going to ask him about it." Certainly not it wouldn't be fair. He has a right to keep it a secret if he wants to." All through the evening, when the young engi neers took themselves once again to the Y. M. C. A. hut, where a well-known vaudeville singer gave a short entertainment which was highly ap preciated, Dave and Phil, as well as some of the others, noticed how preoccupied in mind Roger continued to be. He paid hardly any attention to the singing or the jokes which were told, and seemed to be glad when it was over and he could return to their quarters and go to bed. "It must be something pretty serious," whis pered Phil to Dave, as they retired for the night. The young corporal was quite surprised when, early in the morning, he found himself awakened by Roger, who had come over and touched him on the shoulder. "As soon as you are dressed, Phil," whispered his chum, I want you to come outside and listen to something I have to tell you. But don't say anything to Dave or the others about it. Slip out as quietly as you can. I don't want them to think that we've anything in secret between us." And


46 DAVE PORTER'S WAR HONORS then before the shipowner's son could answer, Roger tiptoed away and commenced to dress rap idly and silently. A few minutes later found both of the corporals outside of the shelter which served them for sleep ing quarters. Then Roger motioned Phil away, and they walked quite a distance, to a place where they would be safe from interruption. I want to tell you about that letter I received from Laura yesterday," began the senator's son. It's got something in it, Phil, that I don't like at all." I hope it isn't any serious trouble for you, Roger." It isn't trouble for me, Phil. That is, except in a general way the same way it might affect you too. It's trouble for Dave." "Dave I Why, what's happened? Nobody sick or hurt, I hope? " No; it's nothing like that. Did you ever meet a young fellow by the name of Max Gebauer?" Phil thought for a moment. It seems to me I did. A tall, thin fellow with blue eyes and light hair. We met him once or twice at the Wadsworth jewelry works." "That's the chap. His folks have jewelry works of some kind in Philadelphia, and this Max Gebauer came to Crumville to see Mr. Wadsworth on business."


NEWS FROM HOME "Well, how does that affect Dave? "You just read these few pages from Laura's letter," returned Roger, and handed over the sheets. Laura had been writing of the entertain ments given in Crumville for the benefit of the local charities, and added the following: And now I have got to write something which is very distasteful to me, Roger, for it con cerns Jessie and Dave in a way I do not like to think about. At the time we were getting up the principal entertainment, that young salesman, Max Ge bauer, who, as you will remember, is in the jewelry business with his father and his uncle in Philadel phia, was in Crumville to see Mr. Wadsworth. He is now a lieutenant in the army, and looks quite spick and span in his new uniform. Mr. Wadsworth was so enthusiastic to think that Ge bauer had joined the army and was soon going over to France, he invited him to the house for dinner. We, of course, did our best to entertain him, and he seemed particularly interested in Jessie so much so that he asked her to allow him to do a number of things connected with the entertain ment, and he likewise purchased ten dollars' worth of tickets from her, which, of course, pleased her a good deal. Then, when the entertainment came off, he presented her with a beautiful bouquet of American Beauty roses, and later still gave her a very handsome Red Cross emblem, which, it seems, their firm has something to do with manu


48 DAVE PORTER'S WAR HONORS facturing. He gave the pin to Mr. Wadsworth to give to Jessie, so that she had no chance to re fuse it even if she wanted to. Since that time he has been to Crumville three times, and on each occasion managed to call on Jessie. Once while he was out in an automobile he met her on the outskirts of the town, where she had been visiting one of our poor families, and in sisted on taking her for a ride. Now, I don't think Jessie intends to do any thing that is mean, but Gebauer is well educated, and can make himself very pleasing when he tries, and he has certainly done everything in his power to attract her. She, of course, feels flattered at the attentions of an army officer, and I know some of the other girls in Crumville are beginning to envy her just a little and some are talking about her. "Now, I suppose, Roger, you will wonder at once why I have not had a straight talk with Jes sie and why I haven't told her exactly what I think of all this. Well, to do that is not easy with such a girl as she is. As an only child she has been very much petted and allowed to have her own way, and she often sees no wrong at all in things which I sometimes think might be different. I did mention once, in an offhand way, that I thought Gebauer was growing too attentive, but she merely laughed and tossed her head and told me there was nothing I needed to worry about. And then she told me, a while later, she didn't understand why Dave didn't write oftener -that she had not had a letter from him for two weeks. All of this makes me greatly worried, but I do


NEWS FROM HOME 49 not know what to do. Once or twice I have thought of speaking to Mrs. Wadsworth, but I am afraid that might only make matters worse. She doesn t seem to notice how attentive Gebauer has become or notice how some folks are talking about Jessie. I wish lieutenant would get or ders to leave for France at once." Phil read the sheets through twice before he handed them back to Roger. Then the chums looked at each other thoughtfully. Roger was the first to break the silence. Do you wonder I was worried after I read that?"he demanded It certainly is fierce I was Phil's comment. "But, Roger, you don't suppose for a minute that Jessie would go back on Dave?" "I don't see how it could be possible unless the sight of the lieutenant in his uniform has com pletely turned Jessie's head." But Jessie's too sensible for anything like that, i:m-'t she? " I should hope so, Phil. But you never can tell. You know there are lots of girls who for some reason or other don't seem to be able to resist a uniform. Even the cook feels flattered by the fireman or the policeman." "Yes; but Dave's in uniform, and he's a ser geant." "True. But he is over three thousand miles


50 DAVE PORTER'S WAR HONORS away, while this Gebauer is right on the spot. I wish, as Laura says, that Gebauer would get his orders to leave at once." "Yes, that's the best thing that could happen." I don't know whether to mention this to Dave o not," went on Roger, after a pause. "I don't want to worry him needlessly, and at the same time I think he ought to know what is going on at home." I know he has been writing to Jessie regularly. I saw him send off the letters myself." I know that, too. It must be the fault of the post-office that she doesn't get them." He didn't get any letter this time from Jessie, and that I am afraid is making him feel quite blue. He heard from his Uncle Dunston, and that's all." The two talked the matter over for several min utes more, and then reached the conclusion that it might be as well to remain silent on the subject for at least several days longer, trusting that dur ing that period a letter might come from Jessie which would clear up the situation. During the past few days the ammunition dump which Dave had discovered, and part of which had been blown up, had been subject to an investi gation by those in authority. Several hundred shells were found unexploded, and these were taken to a safe place and stored away. It was


NEWS FROM HOME SI learned that a mine had been placed on the old trail through the wood, and this had gone up, doing, however, no further damage than to uproot some trees and brushwood. Dave received permission visit the spot and did so in company with Phil and Ben, Roger re maining behind to favor his hurt ankle, which still pained him a little. The young sergeant was, of course, anxious to find his lost wrist-watch, and a search was insti tuted which lasted the best part of half a day. But it was of no avail the timepiece could not be located. "I guess it's of no use we might as well give it up," said Dave at last. Come on, we'll go back to camp." And this they did. The young sergeant felt decidedly blue, and he had two things to make him feel so: the loss of the watch and the fact that he had not heard from Jessie for some time.


CHAPTER VI A BATTLE IN THE AIR PHEW, but this is hot I " I guess we're going to pay up for that wet weather we had." I wonder how many more miles we've got to hike over this road? " No less than three, so the top sergeant told me," answered Dave, to whom the question was put. It was about a week after the events narrated in the last chapter, and the fighting engineers, as they were familiarly called, were once more forg ing toward the battle front. The storms of the past three weeks had cleared away, and the hot summer sun beat down upon them with all its in tensity. During the time spent in camp Roger had re covered from the injury to his ankle and was now around as before. He had had another conversa tion with Phil regarding the letter received from Laura, and both had again decided not to say any thing to Dave concern.ing Max Gebauer. But they had spoken to Dave in a Casual way about his 52


A BATTLE IN THE AIR 53 not receiving a letter from Jessie and had said that possibly she was not getting the letters he had forwarded. Well, I can't do anything more than write and mail the letters," had been the young ser geant's reply to this. Nevertheless, his chums had noticed with satisfaction that he wrote another letter to Jessie that very evening and was particu ular to see that it was properly addressed and taken care of. In the meantime Roger had forwarded his reply to Dave's sister, and in that communication he told Laura he hoped she would keep her eyes on Jessie and see that Gebauer did not 1 have a chance to become intimate with the girl. He also asked Dave's sister to send him word if any thing out of the ordinary occurred. The engineers were moving along with their full equipment on their backs. Behind them came a string of motor-lorries, carrying great quantities of tools, and also some explosives. By nightfall they had reached a spot not far from the fighting front. They had turned off from the main road and were now passing through a small French hamlet, beyond which was a small hill hedged in on all sides by a thick forest. Orders are to clear a road around one side of this hill, and do it as quickly as possible," an-


s+ DAVE PORTER'S WAR HONORS nounced Captain Obray. We'll have to blast out some of the rocks and cut down a number of trees, I am afraid. The work was started early in the morning, after a night which was not altogether a comfort able one. There was a rumor throughout the camp that the Germans might make a raid over No Man's Land, probably with the idea of ob taining some prisoners from whom they could obtain much-desired information. Consequently the engineers were all more or less on their guard. I'm sure I don't want to become a German prisoner," remarked Ben. "From what I've heard, they don't treat their prisoners very well." Well I cried Phil. They treat 'em the meanest ever I " Say, that puts me in mind of a story I heard the other day," said Shadow. "Oh, this is true! he added hastily, when he saw several of the others shake their heads. A tall, lanky Western doughboy was at the front on duty at night when he heard somebody approaching. He immediately called to the fellow to halt. Then he discovered that the fellow was walking with both hands high in the air and muttering something to himself. The fellow kept coming on until he was right at the end of the dough boy's bayonet. Then the doughboy gave him a


A BATTLE IN THE AIR SS little jab, and the fellow set up a scream and sud denly opened his eyes. He was a German sol dier and a sleep-walker. Of course, the dough boy made him a prisoner without delay." Wow 1 what do you think of that? cried Ben. Say, Shadow, you be careful that you don't do any sleep-walking yourself, like you did at Oak Hall," broke in Phil. "You don't want to go over No Man's Land and get on the ridge pole of some schoolhouse, like you did when we were at the Hall," he continued, referring to an incident the particulars of which were given m "Dave Porter and His Classmates." 11 I've given up walking in my sleep. It doesnlt pay," returned the story-teller quickly. Talking about the sleep-walker giving him self up," put in Dave, "I heard a pretty good story the other day about a German who met one of our men at the edge of the wood. He showed a white handkerchief -or at least a handker chief that had once been white and then came over to talk to the sentry. He said he had once been in Chicago and liked our country first rate, and he was willing to surrender, provided the sentry would let him go back and get his brother and his cousin, so that they could all keep to gether and not feel lonely 11 And did the sentry do it? queried Roger.


56 DAVE PORTER'S WAR HONORS "Yes, after he had taken away the fellow's gun and helmet. The young German was gone about a quarter of an hour, and then came back followed by four others. They were his cousin and his brother, and two friends who had like wise concluded to give themselves up. You can imagine how proud that doughboy was to march that gang of five prisoners into camp." For three days the engineering unit to which our friends belonged, aided by another unit from the East and two from the Middle West, toiled at the task which had been assigned to them. Here and there the rocks barred their passage, and these were blasted out as the easiest means of getting rid of them. Not a few tall trees were chopped down, and over two hundred of the engineers were set to work clearing away the brushwood. In the meantime another unit of engineers worked on a path leading to the top of the hill, and a little later a masked battery was stationed there, ready to open fire on the German lines northeast of that vicinity. It must not be surmised that the work the en gineers had to do was without peril. Even though the spot was deep in the woods and some what isolated, not a few German shells of large caliber were sent in that direction. Confound it! those shells are coming too close for comfort," remarked Phil, one after-


A BATTLE IN THE AIR 57 noon, when a projectile had gone whining over their heads to fall less than a hundred yards be hind them. So far they had not seen any airplanes in that vicinity, but on the following morning early they espied two German scout-planes high in the air circling slowly about. I suppose they suspected something was go ing on around here and they have sent out those machines to make sure," remarked Frank An drews to our hero. I wish our own airmen would get after them." His wish was soon gratified. Looking in the direction where they knew the American aviation camp was stationed, the engineers presently saw four of the planes taking the flight upward. They came on straight for the spot where the en gineers were working, and those below made up their minds that a battle in the air was imminent. Gee, I hope our men get those fellows I cried Roger. It will serve 'em right for com. ing here to spy on us." As the four American aviators advanced they spread out, two keeping somewhat to the rear while the third headed northward and the fourth southward. Thus they soon formed a sort of semicircle around the German planes. By this time the enemy airmen had probably made all the observations they wished or that


58 DAVE PORTER'S WAR HONORS they felt capable of making, and they' turned back, evidently with the intention of passing over their own lines. If only we had an anti-aircraft gun here and could take a few shots at them I sighed Dave. The American fliers were still somewhat to the rear, but when they saw the two enemy scout planes trying to escape they opened fire on them. Even at that distance the flashes from the guns could be seen, although if there were any sounds they were lost in the explosions of the motors and the distant firing of artillery. The contest in the air now grew so exciting that nearly all the engineers stopped work to wit ness it. One of the American airmen could evi dently get no speed out of his machine, and soon he fell behind. But the other three kept on, and one of them presently came close to one of the enemy planes. Then came a sudden flash of fire, and the German plane was seen to crumple up and come down, a mile or more beyond the edge of the forest. "Hurrah I they've got one of them anyhow," exclaimed Ben. And now for the other I added Shadow. The flight of the other plane continued, but soon it was evident the German felt he could not escape by straight flying. He suddenly made a


A BATTLE IN THE AIR 59 dive to the northward, and then began to mount higher and higher, circling and twisting first in one direction and then in another. The three Americans went after him as quickly as they c9uld, firing their machine-guns whenever it seemed advantageous to do so. The American airmen had, of course, to be careful so that they might not fire into each other. "That's a battle royal, all right enough," was Dave's comment, as the contest kept up as vigor ously as ever. If that German escapes he'll certainly have won his liberty." The fourth American plane had now dropped back still further, and soon it began to head for the aviation camp, suffering probably from en gine or other trouble. Then one of the other planes began to move away. A minute later its motor began to miss fire, and then stopped com pletely. See, he's out of it I cried Roger. He's going to vol plane to the ground." He'll be lucky if he reaches the ground with out breaking his neck," announced Phil. And he was right; the second American had all he could do to bring his machine down in safety be yond the big trees of the forest. With but two of the Americans left in the fight, the German airman seemed to pluck up courage.


6o DAVE PORTER'S WAR HONORS He did not attempt to do any firing, but made a new turn or two, and then started away, as if to try once more for the German lines. But now he reckoned without the cleverness of one of the American airmen. This fell ow put on a sudden burst of speed and, like a bird on the wing, he came directly behind the German. His machine-gun began to spit spitefully, and a moment later those on the ground far below saw a portion of the German plane drop away from the machine proper. Hello, there goes his rudder I cried Cap tain Obray, who was looking through his field glasses. The whole steering apparatus has been shot away I Now I reckon he's about done for." That was indeed the plight of the German air man, for with the rudder gone, he was practically helpless to guide his machine. His motor stopped whether he turned it off or it stopped of itself they could not tell -and then the scout machine began to turn and twist in a fantastic course down from the sky. 11 That's the end of that flying man," was Ben's comment. 11 I wonder if he's doing anything at all to save himself?" said Dave. "I don't see what he can do," returned Roger. This way and that way rushed the helpless


A BATTLE IN THE AIR 61 war-plane. As it came down it made several turns, and then headed suddenly toward the for est where the engineers were working. "It's coming down pretty close to this spot I exclaimed Dave. "Take care of yourselves, men I cried Cap tain Obray. Don't give that plane a chance to hit you 1 He had not forgotten the acci dent which had happened to Roger, Phil and Dave when a plane had come down in flames, as related in our last volume. All of the engineers were on the alert. But this caution was unnecessary. Another dart or two through the sky, and then the enemy airplane finally came down at a point in the forest some distance away. As it did this it burst into flames, and soon those on the ground saw a heavy smoke coming up from the spot where it was burning up. I wonder if the fellow who was running it escaped? cried Phil. "Let us go and see," returned Dave; and, having received the necessary permission, the young sergeant hurried off through the forest toward the burning airplane, taking a detail of eight young engineers with him.


CHAPTER VII THE GERMAN AVIATOR THE smoke from the burning airplane was plainly visible over the tops of the trees, so that Dave and the detail of engineers under him had no difficulty in heading in the right direction. But to get through that tangle of underbrush and over the jagged rocks was not easy, and con sequently their progress was rather slow, even though they pushed along as vigorously as cir cumstances permitted. If that airman came down in his burning plane he has probably been burned up," re marked Phil, as they hurried along. "I hope not," returned Dave. "I hope he escaped and we have the honor of capturing him." It's too bad the plane caught fire," put in Roger. He knew that the rival air forces liked very much to capture an enemy plane intact, or nearly so. On such a plane they would often find maps and instruments, not to say anything of ma chine-guns. At last they came in sight of the burning plane, 62


THE GERMAN AVIATOR 63 which still blazed forth fiercely. It was caught in the branches of a low tree . Its gasoline tanks had burst and the inflammable fluid had run down over the tree trunk making of it a gre .at torch. As the engineers reached a little opening to one side of where the scout plane and the tree were blazing fiercely, they heard a shrill cry in German for help. Look I Look! burst from Phil's lips, and he pointed with his hand as he spoke. All gazed in the direction indicated and saw something which filled them with horror. Caught in a fork of one of the limbs of the tree was the German aviator. His jacket had be come fastened on the branch, and he was trying vainly to extricate himself from his perilous po s1t1on. The flames were already within three feet of him, and the back of his heavy fur jacket was singed and smoking. He'll be burned up as sure as fate I cried Ben. "He will be unless we can save him," returned Dave. 11 I don't see how you are going to do it, Dave," remarked Shadow. "How are you go ing to reach him? The helpless airman was at least twenty feet from the ground. All he could do was to twist


DAVE PORTER'S WAR HONORS himself in his perilous position, but to get free from the limb seemed impossible. "Gee I he doesn't seem to make much of an effort to free himself," observed one of the other engineers. He did not r ealize the truth of the situation, which was that the apparently helpless man was suffering from a broken arm and a dislo cated shoulder. The gasoline from the broken tanks had Bowed over the brushwood at the foot of the tree, and this was now causing the flames to mount up di rectly under the German. This being the case, even had he freed himself he :would have dropped into the fire. Dave was the first to act. His quick eye had noted a tall tree standing five or six yards away, and he made for this without delay. Boost me up, you fellows, and be quick about it; and then some of you follow me," he ordered. Roger and Phil helped him to mount into the tree, and then the two of them, aided by the other engineers, q1me up also. By this time Dave had selected the limb he wished to utilize, and he crawled slowly out on this, testing its strength as he progressed. "It's plenty strong enough to hold all of us," he announced to his two chums. Come on out. I want it to bend down as much as possible."


THE GERMAN AVIATOR 65 By this time the others understood scheme which had entered our hero's head. The tall tree was a wide-spreading one, and the branch he had selected bent over in the direction of the tree which was on fire. Soon the combined weight of the three engineers caused it to bend until the outer end was directly over the spot where the German aviator rested. Now you fellows get back a little and I'll go forward," said Dave. "As suon as I've got hold of him you go back farther yet, so that the weight of the four of us won't crack the branch off." Phil and Roger understood, and as Dave went forward they retreated just enough so that the outer end of the branch might remain in prac tically the same position. It was a perilous climb for the young sergeant, and no one realized tliis more than himself. Being directly over the branch where the German rested, he was likewise over that portion of the brushwood below which was on fire. The smoke was coming up thickly, choking and blinding him. At last he was out to within three feet of the end of the limb. He had his legs around it firmly, and now he bent down and by teetering the limb just a trme managed to get within dis tance of the fellow below. The German aviator had continued to call for


66 DAVE PORTER'S WAR HONORS help in his own language. Now, as Dave drew closer, he heard the talk of the Americans and cried out in broken English: Y o:.i safe me, blease 1 You safe me, blease 1 "I'll do it if I can, Fritzie," answered Dave. "Give me your hand." I gif vun hand 1 Other arm broken! gasped out the hurt airman. As well as he was able, he put out his unin jured arm, and Dave grasped it. Then, holding tight with his legs, the young sergeant succeeded in raising the fellow from his position in the crotch of the branch which had now taken fire. He had to pull with considerable force to get the fellow free from his entanglement. "Look out, Dave, or you'll both fall!" warned Phil. "I've got him, but I don't just see how I'm going to get him down f rom the tree," announced our hero. The smoke was now coming up so thickly that he was almost blinded, and both he and the I hurt aviator began coughing. Swing him around so that we can get hqld of him," suggested Roger. With great care Dave shifted his position, and then worked his way backward about a foot along the limb. Here he felt a little more se cure, and then swung the hurt man around




THE GERMAN AVIATOR 67 Phil and Roger could get hold of him. The German uttered several moans of pain and then collapsed into insensibility. Be careful how you handle him, fellows," said Dave, when he and his chums had the air man safe between them. He said his arm was broken." He can be thankful he didn't break his neck with such a tumble as that," returned Roger. One of the engineers on the ground below had a strong rope with him, and this was thrown over the limb of the tree. A noose was placed around the German's body, and then he was slowly and carefully lowered to the ground, after which Dave and the others descended from the tree. While the rescue was taking place three of the engineers had gone around to the other side of the blaze, trying to get at the burning plane. They had managed with long sticks to poke a few things away from the fusilage, but these proved to be of but little importance and were carried off by all of the crowd merely as souvenirs. The German was still insensible, and it was not until he had been carried to a safe distance and the engineers had dashed some water into his face that he recovered and opened his eyes. In the meantime, five of the men were de tailed to watch the fire and see to it that it burned


68 DAVE PORTER'S WAR HONORS itself out without starting a general conflagration through the forest. We don't want these woods burned up just yet," was the way Dave expressed himself. We need the trees to screen our operations in this vicinity." The prisoner proved to be a man not over twen ty-five years of age. That he was well educated was evident. Like most aviators, he was of slight build, and he had light hair and gray eyes. He gave his name as Heinrich Eberhardt, and told the aviation unit to which he belonged. "I am very thankful to you for having saved my life," he said, in his broken English, to Dave and the If you had not come to my aid, I would have been burned up," and he shud dered. "I'd hate to see anybody burned alive," re turned Dave. Then he questioned the aviator about himself and learned that the fell ow had leaped from the burning scout-plane while he was yet a hundred feet or more above the tree. "Had I not done that I would have been burned alive in mid-air," continued Heinrich Eberhardt, in his broken English. Such things often happen. One of my best friends was burned up that way last year." As the hurt aviator was in no condition to walk, word was sent back to the camp of the en-


THE GERMAN AVIATOR 69 gineers, and a little later hospital men came after him with a stretcher. This, however, took some time, and in the meanwhile Dave had an oppor tunity to ask the fellow some questions, being glad to know that the man could speak English, even though brokenly. "I and my twin brother, Fritz, are alone in the world," said Heinrich Eberhardt. Both of our parents died when we were small boys, and we were brought up by an uncle who had spent a few years in America and England. He could speak English very well indeed, and he in sisted upon it that we learn something of the lan guage, stating that it would be good for us in business. But neither my brother Fritz nor I cared to study any too well, so we didn't learn any more than we had to," and Heinrich Eber hardt smiled faintly. Dave and the others had rendered him what first aid they could, and made him as comfortable as possible on a pile of brushwood. He was, of course, suffering much pain, but he was too plucky to complain. Well, what do you think of the war? ques tioned Roger. "I think it's a bad affair-a very bad affair indeed, especially for the English and the Amer icans," answered the German aviator readily. "Then you still think Germany will win? put in Phil.


70 DAVE PORTER'S WAR HONORS "To be sure. Why not? returned the Ger man in his broken English. No combination of nations can master the V aterland. It cannot be done. We are too strong for them. We have too much system and too much science." But what do you think of the American army? questioned Dave. At this Heinrich Eberhardt pursed up his lips and was silent for a moment. You have been very good to me, so why should I say anything against you? he answered finally. But if you must know the truth, let me say I think you can do little or nothing in this war. You are too far away. Your Presi dent may send a few hundred thousand men over here, but that will count for nothing." "Don't you know we have over a million men in France already? demanded Phil. A million? Oh, no, nothing like that f You couldn't possibly get them here. Our U-boats would stop your troopships and sink them. At the most, you may get over a few hundred thou sand. But I doubt very much if it will be that many." "Some day you'll have your eyes opened to the truth of what is going on," said Dave. But now you had better keep quiet. I have sent for the stretcher-bearers, and I think they'll get here before long, and then they'll carry you


THE GERMAN AVIATOR 71 to the hospital, where you will get proper treat ment." Could you send word back that I am alive? asked the hurt man eagerly I guess that can be arranged through the Allied airmen," answered Dave. He knew that there was an unwritten law among all the fliers of the various nations that word concerning any air man who was killed, injured, or captured, should be carried over the enemies' lines by means of a note dropped from some flying machine. If that is done I shall be very, very grate ful," said Heinrich Eberhardt. "I want my brother Fritz to know that I am alive Presently the stretcher-bearers came into view, and Dave saw to it personally that the captured German received proper attention. Then the aviator was taken away. Not a half bad sort," was Roger's comment, when he and the others were making their way back to the engineering camp. They've all got the same idea regarding the United States," answered Dave. "They think it's impossible for Uncle Sam to get a big army over here. They won't believe the story that we already have over a million men in the field." "And another million or two on the way," added Phil. Well, it's a tremendous undertaking," broke in


72 DAVE PORTER'S WAR HONORS Ben. Think of sending so many men as that on a sea voyage of three thousand miles, and then taking care of them after they arrive 1 "It is a big undertaking," said Shadow. And it's no wonder that it takes billions of dol lars to do it." It must be exciting to be an army aviator," continued Dave. "Far more exciting than being just an engineer." "Oh, I don't know about that," answered Roger. Of course, some of the airmen especially those who get to be aces have plenty of things happen to them. But I was talking to one of the French aviators not long ago one who has been in the service since the war started and he said all he had been able to do was to go up and take observations and report. There couldn't be anything very exciting about that." Oh, we've had excitement enough no doubt of that," returned Dave. "And it looks to me as if there was a good deal more excitement ahead." Right you are, Dave I cried Roger I'll wager before we know it we'll be in the very thick of it."


CHAPTER VIII THE PERILS OF ROAD BUILDING "WE'VE got it hot enough now, Dave." "I agree with you, Roger. The Huns are certainly bombarding us for fair." "Did you see that tree come down a few min utes ago?" asked Phil. It landed within a dozen feet of Captain Obray and Frank An drews." The German air scouts those three fel lows who sailed this way yesterday afternoon must have sent in word of where we were located and what we were doing," continued Dave. It's too bad our men didn't get a chance to bring them down as they did those others." I wonder what they did with that Heinrich Eberhardt? broke in Shadow, who was work ing in the gang with the others. He is in the hospital, and I heard yesterday that he is doing very well," answered Dave. I wish we were sure poor Buster was going to get over that gas attack," went on the former story-teller of Oak Hall. Gee I it's a shame that he was knocked out that way." 73


74 DAVE PORTER'S WAR HONORS "As soon as I can get off I'm going to take a run back to the hospital and see how Buster is making it," said Dave. "I think I'm entitled to a leave of absence; I haven't been off since last winter." "If you do get off, I'll try to get off at the same time," cried Roger quickly. "And so will I," added Phil. Ten days had passed since the spectacular res cue of the Hun aviator from the burning plane and tree, and during that time the fighting en gineers had well deserved the appellation applied to them. They had advanced their road through the forest for a considerable distance, and had had two brushes with the enemy, one a night raid which had come most unexpectedly; but the blood of the engineers had been up, and they had beaten the Germans back with the loss of but two men slightly wounded, while three of the enemy had been killed and one taken pris oner. They had also been under artillery fire on more than one occasion, and now this artillery fire was again directed toward them. If those Germans were only a little better marksmen there wouldn't be anything left of us, I imagine," remarked Phil a little later, after a shell had gone whining over their heads, to ex plode among some roots in the rear.


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THE PERILS OF ROAD BUILDING 77 No one had been seriously injured, for which all were thankful, but there were numerous small cuts and bruises, and the engineers retired closer to the shelter of the rocks to catch their breath and attend to their hurts. What damage did that shell do? demanded Captain Obray, as he came up on the double quick, for he had been with a gang some distance away. Dave made his report, and the captain looked the men over. "You've got to keep your eyes and ears open for those shells," said the officer. If you think they are coming anywhere near you, don't wait, but th.row yourselves flat on your face. By do ing that you may save your life." A little later the engineers were out on the roadway working as industriously as ever. Only one man remained behind, he having fallen over some rough rocks and bruised his elbows. It was almost nightfall, and the bombardment seemed to be slowing up, when Dave found him self with the gang under him at a turn in the roadway which was being constructed. Here on one side were several walls of rocks, while on the other the roadway was lined with a series of heavy trees backed up in some places by thick brushwood. "Almost time to knock off, isn't it?" said Ben.


7 8 DAVE PORTER'S WAR HONORS He had put in an unusually big day, and his baclC ached. We'll knock off in about an hour, Ben," an swered Dave. Pretty heavy work, isn't it?" I never thought I'd work as hard as this in my whole life, Dave," answered the son of the leading real estate dealer of Crumville. Gosh I I wonder what my dad and ma would say if they could see me now? Dad used to think I didn't even like to cut the wood at home or weed the garden, and just look at all the wood cutting I've done, not to say anything about shov eling dirt, hauling stone, and building trenches and dugouts." "Never mind, we've got a good reason for doing this, Ben. When you come to think of that reason it makes it worth while, doesn't it? " Indeed it does, Dave I And don't think for a minute that I'm complaining. If doing this kind of work is going to help win the war, then they can depend on my sticking on the job until we march right into Berlin." Say, wouldn't that be fine? exclaimed Phil. "How I'd like to march down Unter den Linden singing Over There 1 or some other of our pop ular songs I " I don't believe Germany will allow the war to go that far," answered Dave. "They know well enough how angry all the Allies are because


THE PERILS OF kOAD BUILDING 79 of the wanton destruction in France and Belgium, and they'll most likely be afraid that if we got into Germany we'd start to rip things up the same way." "Do you mean by that, Dave, that they'd give in before we got into Germany? : demanded Phil. "That's the way I figure it. I don't believe they'll allow any of the Allies to get a foot far ther than the Rhine." How are they going to stop us if we push our way through?" questioned Ben. Only one way to do that, Ben They'll have to ask for peace. And that is what I think they'll do. Behind it all, I think the common German people, as well as their allies, are sick and tired of the conflict. They have been hemmed in on all sides for several years, and been unable to get supplies from the outside world, and the whole thing hasn't sat very well on their stom achs. I think if they could get out of this war gracefully they would do it in a minute." "That aviator we captured didn't talk that way." "He was putting on a front that's all. Germany may have had some notion that with the collapse of Russia she might be able to get the better of France, Italy, and England before we got into the fight. But now that we are


8o DAVE PORTER'S WAR HONORS bringing our men over here by the thousands ev ery week, she must realize that the jig is up." I can't see it that way," said Shadow. I think she'll fight to the last ditch." "Well, if she does, Shadow, it will mean a terri ble ending for her. The Allies will keep on pounding her until there will be nothing left to pound." "That's what I'd like to see I cried Phil. "I'd like to march right into Germany and give them the same dose of medicine that they have given the poor people here in France and those in Belgium, not to say anything about the de struction by the Austrians in Upper Italy." I wonder what is going to happen to Russia, now that she is out of the war and in a state of revolution? remarked Ben. "That's a question that nobody can answer just now," returned Dave. "It looks to me as if the different Russian political parties had each other by the throat and nobody wanted to let go." It certainly must be a dreadful country to live in just now," said Roger, with a shake of his head. Neither a person nor his property is safe." The engineers were hard at work cutting down several small trees which were in the way,


THE PERILS OF ROAD BUILDING 81 and in hauling some loose stones forward for the temporary roadway, when the bombardment from the Germans, which had lessened during the last half-hour, commenced all over again. Shells came whistling and whining over the forest, and in the midst this came a telephone communica tion from the right of the fighting front that the Germans were preparing to launch another gas attack. I don't think the attack will reach as far as this, however," said Captain Obray. "The wind is blowing in the opposite direction. How ever, we'll be on our guard, and as soon as the signal is given I want every man to put on his mask instantly." Dave was just getting ready to tell his men they might quit their labors for the day when there came the whining of two shells through the air. Both fell just a trifle short of the roadway the engineers were building. Bang I Bang I went the missiles of death, one report close upon the other Then arose a great mass of rocks and dirt, followed by flying sticks of wood and thin brush, the latter blown in all directions. Dave and his men were working close to the high rocks on the other side of the roadway. As the shells fell they threw themselves flat, and most of the flying debris went over them. Then,


82 DAVE PORTER'S WAR HONORS following the explosions, came several crashes in the forest, and three large trees were seen to be falling across the roadway. Get close to the rocks, everybody l yelled Dave, as he caught a quick glance of what was coming. Look out for the falling trees l The words had scarcely left his lips when the first of the big trees came down, the top hitting some of the rocks over the engineers' heads and sending them in various directions. Then, one after another, the other trees followed, until the engineers found themselves completely buried un der a mass of trunks and branches. Dave had tried to get on his hands and knees to crawl closer to the high rocks, but as he did this a branch of one of the trees came down across his back, sending him flat again. Then another tree fell on top of the first, and he found himself held down so tightly that he could scarcely breathe. Roger was on one side of him, and he, too, was held so fast he could hardly move. There were many cries of pain and yells for help; and in the midst of the excitement there came a shrill whistle from a distance to notify the engineers that the German gas attack was on the way!


CHAPTER IX IN THE THICK OF THE FIGHT "HELP I Help I I'm being smothered!" Somebody take this tree off my legs I " Some smash-up, wasn't it? I wonder if anybody was killed? These and other cries came from all directions. Some of the exclamations were considerably smothered because those uttering them were buried al most out of sight by the trees and other debris that had come down on top of them. 11 I say, Dave, are you hurt? cried Phil. He was a few feet away from our hero, and fortu nately he was free to move about, even though his face had been scratched by a branch which had come down close to his head. 11 I -I don't know if I am hu -hurt or not," gasped the young sergeant. I ca can't move!" And I'm in the same pickle, with this tree holding down my legs," returned Roger. It was at this instant that the shrill whistle came from a distance -a whistle all the fighting engineers knew only too well. 83


84 DAVE PORTER'S WAR HONORS A gas attack I A gas attack I was the cry which rent the air. On with your masks, boys I Dave heard the cry, and immediately tried to make a move to get hold of his mask and adjust it. But the tree branch held him down in such a fashion that this was impossible. Roger was more fortunate, and even though his legs were held down he managed to twist his body over on: one side and get his mask into position. "Can you make it, Dave?" questioned Phil, who now had his mask ready to slip on. No. I can't straighten up enough," an swered our hero. I'll see if I can't get the limb out of the way," went on Phil; and then called to Ben and Shadow, who, fortunately, were as free as him self to move about, to assist him. The three slipped on their masks, and then un der the directions of Phil went to work to raise the branch that was holding Dave down. By their united efforts they managed to get it up just enough to enable our hero to crawl from under. As soon as this was accomplished Dave lost no time in putting on his mask. Even with the united efforts of the four young engineers, it was impossible to raise the limb which held down Roger's legs. So two axes were brought forward, and while some held up


IN THE THICK OF THE FIGHT 85 the limb so that it might not injure the fallen one's legs, Dave and Phil chopped the branch al most through, so that it was then cast aside with ease and the senator's son was able to stand up. By this time all the other engineers had gotten word concerning the mishap and were flocking to that vicinity to aid their comrades. Three men were still under the wreckage, and it was not without great difficulty that these were re leased. One poor fellow had his shoulder badly bruised and had to be sent to the hospital. Shadow had one hand much scratched, and both of his shins scraped, and he, too, had to be sent to the rear to receive medical attention. Long before the rescues came to an end the gas was on the engineers. It rolled toward them in a thin yellowish cloud. But fortunately the wind was coming up strongly, and this soon dissipated the gas so that it did little damage. I think we came out of that disaster remark ably well," was Captain Obray's comment, after he had made a survey of the damage wrought by the two German shells. "It's a wonder to me that all of you weren't killed," remarked Frank Andrews. "Just look at the holes those two shells made behind where the trees stood." So far Dave had been so interested in what had occurred to himself and his companions that


86 DAVE PORTER'S WAR HONORS he had not looked at the spot. Now he walked to that vicinity, and his eyes opened widely when he beheld the two shell craters. One was all of twenty feet in diameter and probably fifteen feet deep in the center, while the other crater, through some freak of nature, was shaped like a trench, ten feet wide and about as deep and nearly three times as long. "Those must have been some of the largest of the Hun shells," was Phil's opinion. "Gee I when those holes fill with water there will be a regular pond here." "The Heinies couldn't have made a neater job of it, try their best, if they were aiming to block this roadway," said Ben. "It's going to be a job to clear the way again." That isn't the worst of it, Ben," returned Dave. "Now that they have got our range they may be sending more shells this way." It was fortunate that the shock of the explosions had come just as the day's work was drawing to a close. After so much excitement nobody felt like going to work again, and the young engi neers were glad enough to seek their shelter, there to care for their hurts and to rest until supper was announced. It must be admitted that some of the engineers were a trifle nervous when operations were re sumed the following morning. But the born-


IN THE THICK OF THE FIGHT 87 bardment on both sides had ceased, and every thing throughout the forest was as quiet as it had formerly been. The work of clearing the road way was started without delay, and this having been completed, the gang under Dave was sent forward for a full quarter of a mile. Here there was a small ravine, and the engineers were in structed to bridge it in a rough but substantial manner, so that some field artillery would be able to cross without danger. This is what I call bridge-building with a vengeance," remarked Ben, when the task was in progress. I wonder what the folks at home would say if we threw such a structure as this across Dixon's gully or the brook back of Hen derson's apple orchard? " Well, they'd have to give us credit for build ing something substantial if not ornamental, Ben," answered Dave, with a grin. "When we get through with it, a herd of elephants could use it without fear of a collapse." And just think of building it in two days l exclaimed Phil. Why, ordinarily it would take local bridge-builders two or three weeks to put up such a thing as this." Certainly, in war, speed is what counts," an swered our hero. At the time appointed a road through the for est, with three bridges spanning as many gullies,


88 DAVE PORTER'S WAR HONORS was completed. And then one night, following a heavy bombardment and a barrage fire, the American forces moved forward. This brought on a battle which lasted the best part of a day and a half. There were attacks and counter-attacks, and the din of the light and heavy field-pieces was terrific. The Germans did everything possible to shove the Americans and the French back, but in the end had to give way, and when the battle finally subsided the Allied forces had made an advance of from four to six miles on a front twenty-two miles long, and cap tured three villages. How is that for fighting? cried Dave en thusiastically, when the news of the advance was confirmed. We'll show them yet what it means to bring Uncle Sam into this war." "That's what we will I returned Roger. If only we could rush them right along to the Rhine I came from Phil. It must not be supposed that the engineers were idle while this great battle was going on. They were called upon to repair two of the bridges, both of which were partly demolished by German shell fire, and then they were sent to the front once more to lay out a new line of trenches. This was perilous work in the extreme. "We're going under fire again, men," an-


IN THE THICK OF THE FIGHT 89 nounced Captain Obray, when the command came to go to the front. This meant that each engineer must carry his rifle as well as the entrenching tools assigned to him. Along with the load on his back this was a weight of eighty to ninety pounds per man, cer tainly something of a load to carry over rough roads and through a tangle of underbrush and loose and jagged rocks. More than one man grew exhausted, and had to either rest up or be carried to the rear. "Here is where sheer bone and muscle count," was Dave's comment, as he ploughed forward through some underbrush with the detail under him. It was a warm summer day, and all the en gineers were perspiring freely. I wish we had had this to do last winter when it was colder," remarked Ben. Oh, for some ice cream soda I sighed Roger. Say, that puts me in mind of a story," cried Shadow. A small boy came to his mother in the winter time with a big idea. He had six snowballs in his arms, and brought them right into the house. What are you going to do with those snowballs, Bobby?' asked his mother. 'I want you to put 'em away in your closet where you keep the jam,' answered the small boy.


90 DAVE PORTER'S WAR HONORS 'What do you want to do that for?' 'Oh,' said the small boy, I want you to keep 'em until next summer for me, and then when I can't have any ice cream I'll go and get a snowball.' And at this joke there was a slight smile. There is only one good thing about that. joke, Shadow," remarked Dave. "It makes a fellow think of winter, and believe me it's a good thing to think of ice and snow when the thermom eter is up in the nineties as it is today." Presently came the command to halt, and then the young engineers were instructed to crawl forward with caution to a line already mapped out by Frank Andrews and several of the experienced linemen under him. As soon as the line was gained the engineers must lose time in digging themselves in, so that no stray bullets from the German trenches might catch them. Dave had been in such a position before, so there was nothing in the way of novelty about it. He well knew the peril of the work, and he cau tioned all under him to be careful in exposing themselves. Those Germans are as mad as hornets for being driven back," he remarked; and they would more than glory in it to lay out some of our fellows. And remember, while you are working I want all of you to have your guns handy, so that if they show themselves or try

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IN THE THICK OF THE FIGHT 91 to reach us we can give a good account of our selves." "I'd just like a little fighting," rejoined Roger. The wish of the senator's son was gratified sooner than any of them expected. They had reached the line and were busy digging them selves into temporary quarters, when, with no warning whatever, came a volley of shots from a patch of woods some distance ahead. At the time the volley was delivered the last gang of the engineers, led by a Lieutenant Harney, was coming up. The lieutenant was in the lead, and as the volley rang out he was seen to throw up his hands and pitch headlong. The others of the detail dropped down in the grass, one wounded in the shoulder and another in the side. The lieutenant had been struck squarely in the forehead, and was no doubt instantly killed. They are coming this way! The Heinies are coming this way! The report proved true. Encouraged by the success of their first volley, a company of Ger man soldiers came crawling forward through the thick brushwood, sending volley after volley in the direction of the engineers. We've got to fight them, boys l shouted Captain Obray. "Make every shot tell I" He had hardly spoken two words before sev

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92 DAVE PORTER'S WAR HONORS eral of the engineers began to their guns. Then the others caught up their weapons, and a scattering of shots could be heard all along the line of the proposed new trench. The first company of Germans was quickly fol lowed by a second, and then a third, aggregating probably four hundred and fifty men. The engineers numbered about three hundred and sixty, a considerable number being missing from the battalion because of wounds, sickness, and vari ous other reasons. It was an unequal contest, but the blood of the fighting engineers was up, especially when they saw the death of Lieutenant Harney, who was popular in the command. Rapid orders came from the major of the bat talion, and Captain Obray told those under him tq move somewhat to the left, where a slight rise of ground afforded a little better shelter. In the meantime, word was sent back by the signal corps operating in that vicinity that the Germans were making an attack on the engineers, and ask ing for reinforcements. In another five minutes the contest was on in all its intensity. Volley after volley came from the Germans, '\Vho were attempting to advance by crawling from rock to rock and from bush to bush. But the fighting engineers sent over bullet

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IN THE THICK OF THE FIGHT 93 for bullet and had the satisfaction of seeing more than one of the enemy drop to rise no more. Gee I this is the hottest fight yet I gasped Phil, after the firing had continued for ten or fifteen minutes. If we only had a machine-gun handy we might do something," answered Dave. It was now seen that several additional Ger man companies were rushing to the scene of the conflict. Evidently the enemy was massing with the idea of breaking through on that part of the front. If we can only hold out until we get rein forcements I said Dave. We've got to hold our ground, boys I shouted Captain Obray. Don't give in an inch I We'll have help here before long I Make every shot count I Show those Huns what you are made of I A cheer went up at these words -a cheer which was almost drowned out by a volley of shots from the German company which had just come up on the double-quick. Then a great yell arose from the enemy line, and a few minutes later they leaped up and, firing as they ran, made straight for the American engineers.

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CHAPTER X DAVE SHOWS HIS BRA VERY MY young readers must understand that it would be next to impossible to give all the details of the battle which occurred when the fighting en gineers were attacked first by a battalion of the Germans and then by a full regiment. By the command of the major the engineering battalion gradually withdrew to the protection of a number of jagged rocks, flanked here and there by thick brushwood. Here, screening themselves as much as possible, the Americans poured forth volley after volley at the Germans, and over a score of them went down, some never to rise again. But the enemy had probably received word from their air scouts as to the exact number of the engineers, and with the first battalion aug mented by the remainder of their regiment, they showed increased courage and recklessness, and suddenly made a charge forward, shouting like demons as they came on. It was certainly a thrilling moment and enough to make the heart of any soldier quail, however 94

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DAVE SHOWS HIS BRAVERY 95 brave. Even the most unthinking of the engi neers could see that they were largely outnum bered, for the German regiment counted up to at least sixteen hundred men. Dave, Roger, Phil, and Ben kept close to gether. Shadow was not in this contest, having not yet returned from the field hospital to which he had been sent after the accident when the big trees had come down. When the call had been sent to the rear asking for reinforcements, word had also been sent up to the top of the little hill behind them asking if the battery there could not open on the ad vancing Germans. This battery now sent forth a lively fire; but it soon had to cease because the Germans were now so close to the Americans that firing on them would endanger our engineers. "Give it to 'em hot, boys, but don't expose yourselves until you have to I called Captain Obray, and the remaining lieutenant repeated these words and then they were also repeated by the top sergeant, who had already taken poor Lieutenant Hamey's place. Dave, partly screened by a rock and a bit of brushwood, was handling his rifle as accurately and rapidly as he could. In the beginning, as was to be expected, he had been excited and his hand had trembled a little. But now his nerves were steadying themselves, and he took deliber

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96 DAVE PORTER'S WAR HONORS ate aim at one of the Huns before he pulled the trigger. He saw the man go down, and then he immediately shot at a second and a third of the enemy. Facing such a determined resistance, the Ger mans paused for a moment while stilf half-way to the line which separated them from the engineers. This pause worked great havoc, for it gave all the Americans a chance to continue their fire, which they did with deadly effect. But then, urged most strenuously by their officers, who in some cases did not hesitate to slap their men with their swords, the Germans came on once more, firing several more volleys and then dashing in with their bayonets. At such close quarters it became practically impossible to continue the con test with any degree of regularity. It was a case of every engineer for hii:nself, and at odds of three or four to one. The first fellow to come at Dave was a tall, burly individual who looked as if he might be a farmhand. He made a vicious jab at our hero, who sprang aside with a nimbleness acquired by long practice in the gymnasium and on the foot ball field at Oak Hall. Then Dave made a lunge with his own bayonet, and had the satisfac tion of catching the fellow in the thigh. The German pulled back and made another lunge, but this time Dave parried the stroke, and then

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DAVE SHOWS HIS BRAVERY 97 caught the fellow through the shoulder. This caused the German to stagger back, and suddenly he dropped his gun and fell headlong on his side. While this was going on, Roger and the other engineers were likewise having their hands full. Seven or eight Germans had appeared in a bunch and were jabbing right aQd left with their bay onets, yelling at the top of their lungs and mak ing the most ferocious faces. One caught Phil through the arm, and another sent Roger to his knees. This was a perilous position for the senator's son, because before he could rise two of the Ger mans were on him, each with an upraised bayonet. But now Ben leaped in on one side, catching one of the Germans under the chin with his cold steel. Not wishing to have his throat pierced, the fellow jerked backward, pitching heavily over the rocks. But the other German had already made an other pass at Roger, and that young engineer would have caught it in the heart had he not made a quick movement to one side. Then the German, having missed his footing, fell forward and a& he did so caught the senator's son by the throat. But now Dave was coming on. Why he had done so, he did not know, but he had turned his gun around in his hands so that the butt was in

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98 DAVE PORTER'S WAR HONORS front of him. Using this with all force, he made a long leap forward, bringing the gun butt down directly on the head of the German. There was a curious little crack, and the man fell away to one side, unconscious, if not entirely done for. After that matters became so exciting that the young engineers hardly knew what was taking place. Sometimes they used their bayonets, and again they swung their rifles around like clubs, sweeping the air in front of them in wide semi circles. Occasionally a shot was fired, and Ben declared afterwards that he saw one German shoot another. With one of his most trustworthy officers gone, Captain Obray had his hands full doing what he could for his command. The engineers had already commenced to fall back on the roadway which they had recently been building, but orders were to retreat slowly, because reinforcements would be coming up now in a short while. Dave had lost his helmet, his shirt was ripped up his back in several places, and blood was streaming from a cut on one hand, and a bruise was on his cheek. Not until some time later did he realize that the cut on his hand had come from a glancing bullet. The engineers had fallen back about fifty yards when Dave found himself and those under him

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DAVE SHOWS HIS BRAVERY 99 close to where Captain Obray was himself fight ing. The old civil engineer had discharged his pistol pointblank at one of the Germans, but now three had surrounded him, two using their bay onets and the other handling his gun as a club. The captain was struck on one shoulder, and his pistol was sent whizzing from his hand. Then the two Germans with their bayonets stabbed at the American officer viciously several times. When the pistol was sent flying from the cap tain's hand it landed almost at Dave's feet. He was about six yards away, and without stopping to think twice he caught up the weapon, aimed it at the nearest of the Germans, and fired. As my old readers know, Dave was quite an accurate shot, not only with a rifle, but also with a pistol, and on more than one occasion he had made a rather remarkable record while firing at a target. His quick aim was accurate, and the German nearest to him went down, shot through the side. Then Dave fired the second time, and the other German was hit in the right arm. The fellow was just in the act of making another lunge with his bayonet, this time at Captain Obray's throat; but the shot in the arm caused him to .Jet his weapon drop. Then, of a sudden, he sank down, for he had a] ready been wounded in the leg and had been keeping up merely through excite ment. The third German was running away.

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100 DAVE PORTER'S WAR HONORS Fine work, Porter, fine work I gasped Cap tain Obray, as Dave sprang to his side and re turned the officer's pistol to him. Are you much hurt? Do you want me to help you to the rear, Captain? demanded the young sergeant quickly. "No, I don't think I want to go to the rear," was the answer, in a voice that shook with emo tion. Porter, I sha'n't forget this. It was splendid I And then the captain turned away, for there was much for him to do. Only a few minutes later Dave found himself again in the thick of the fight. But now a cheer rent the air, and it became known that a regi ment of American infantry and several machine guns were on their way to relieve the engineers, who, of course, were not supposed to do any regular fighting. Oh, if we can only hold out until they come I" muttered Dave. He was beginning to feel the strain and could hardly keep on his feet. The engineers were now ordered to withdraw to one side of the road in order to give the in fantry and the machine-guns a chance to come up. Of course the machine-guns could not be used on the Germans while they were mixed up with the Americans, but it was thought they could be brought into play in case the enemy did any mass ing or started to retreat.

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DAVE SHOWS HIS BRA VERY 101 Hurrah, here they come I "Now those Huns will get what is coming to them I" Rush 'em all the way back to the Rhine I A company of American infantry was coming down the rough forest road on the double-quick. short distance behind were two other compan ies, and then followed a machine-gun detachment. Our other men are coming up from the other side of the hill," announced the American officer, who was in command of the newly-arrived troops. They'll be here inside of five minutes, I believe." At first the Germans were rather discomfited when they saw the American infantry coming up. But seeing only the three companies and the sin gle machine-gun detachment, they plucked up courage again and went at the fight almost as vigorously as before. The infantry leaped into the fray with all the speed at their command, and then the contest be came more bloody every instant. In one place among some rocks at least fifteen men from each side fought in such a close space that it was almost impossible for any of the soldiers to get elbow room. Several of the men grabbed each other by the throat, and two of the wounded were all but trampled to death in the melee. Phil and Roger had both' sustained several

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102 DAVE PORTER'S WAR HONORS small wounds, but they still kept on fighting, in spite of the loss of blood which was steadily mak ing them weaker. At last the other American troops which were expected around the lower side of the little hill burst into view. With them came another ma chine-gun detachment and also a company which was well supplied with hand grenades. These grenades they used upon the Germans whenever they saw an opportunity to do so without injuring any of their own men. With a force against them now equal, if not superior, to their own, the Germans began to waver, and one company began to fall back, in spite of the protestations of some of their officers. Then, as all the Americans made a rush, the re mainder of the enemy commenct:d to retreat. "Hurrah, we've got 'em on the run I " Give it to them good and plenty, boys I "What's the matter with rounding them up and making them prisoners? "That's the talk I Let us teach 'em a lesson they won't forget I So the cries ran on, and while the majority of the Germans managed to get away from the vi cinity of the Americans, a half-company became detached from the others, and these were quickly surrounded. Throw up your hands! cried one of the

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DAVE SHOWS HIS BRAVERY 103 American officers, and he repeated the words in German. A number of the hands went up, and some of the Germans, realizing that they were out of the fighting, began to shout, "Kamerad! Kamerad!" Two, however, of the crowd were ugly, one a middle-aged soldier and the other a rather young looking officer. These two very foolishly raised their weapons and began shooting, the soldier with his gun and the young officer with his pistol. Both of the weapons were discharged twice when the officer and the private were laid low by bul lets of the Americans. Then the others surren dered without further question. Dave was close at hand when the capture was made of the German soldiers. He heard the discharge of the pistol and the gun in the hands of the officer and the private and felt a strange pain shoot through his body. Then a sudden faintness seemed to overtake him, and he fell to the ground senseless.

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CHAPTER XI IN THE HOSPITAL WELL, how are you feeling this mommg, Dave?" A great deal better than I did yesterday, Roger. I think, if all goes well, I'll be up on my feet by to-morrow." "You've got to go slow, so the nurse tells me. That wound was rather a serious one, even though it was clean-cut." I suppose I can be thankful that it didn't go through my lungs instead of my side," went on Dave, with an attempt at a smile. How are you feeling, Roger? " Oh, I'm all right again." And how is Phil? "Here he comes to speak for himself," an swered the young corporal. About two weeks had elapsed since that mem orable day when Dave and the other fighting en gineers had made such a record of bravery for themselves. Through them the new road through the forest had been held, and now the American line in that direction had been ad104

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IN THE HOSPITAL 105 vanced from eight to ten miles. The Germans in that vicinity were gradually being shoved into a pocket, and the Allies felt certain that sooner or later they would break away and begin a gen eral retreat. As Dave intimated, the bullet which had pros trated him had passed through his side not a great distance from his right lung. It had been a clean-cut flesh wound, however, and no compli cations had followed. At first Dave had been taken to a temporary field hospital, but twenty-four hours later he had been placed in one of the big ambulances along with a number of others and rushed to a base hospital some distance back from the lines, and it was at this place he now rested. He had been given the best of medical attention, and a Red Cross nurse saw to it that he had every comfort. During those days in the hospital our hero had been visited twice by Captain Obray, who himself had been slightly wounded in the fray. The cap tain was very grateful to Dave for what he had done, insisting that our hero had saved his life. I shall never forget this, Porter, never I the captain had said, in a voice filled with emo tion. And I want everybody to know it even your folks at home." Many of the engineers had been cited for special bravery, and at the top .of the list was

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1o6 DAVE PORTER'S WAR HONORS Dave's name, for which, of course, he was par donably proud. He had likewise been recom mended for promotion. I understand they are going to off er you a lieutenancy, Dave," remarked Phil, after he had come up and greeted his chum. "A lieutenancy I exclaimed Dave, his eyes lighting up with expectancy. "That's the talk around camp. And I don't know that anybody in our company deserves it more than you do." Phil is right! added Roger. And may be it will come pretty quick, too, Dave. Some body has got to fill poor Hamey's place." I think you fellows ought to be promoted yourselves." There h<1.s been a little talk of making us ser geants," answered Roger. Of course, we won't complain if they insist on shoving us up," and he grinned. Even though he was the son of a United States senato : r who had made a great record for himself at Washington, Roger was as modest as any engineer in the corps. During the days spent in the base hospital our hero had received several letters from home, all of which had given him more or less satisfaction. First had come a communication from his father, giving him many particulars of how matters were going both in business and at home, and stating

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IN THE HOSPITAL that he and Dave's Uncle Dunston were once more active in Liberty Loan work and that Mr. Wadsworth had doubled his previous subscrip tion to the loan. Then had come a brief communication from his sister Laura, stating that she had heard he was wounded, but was glad to know that it was not serious. She added that she was writing a longer letter to Roger and that Jessie was also sending him a communication which would prob ably tell him all the things he cared most to know. She added that old Professor Potts had recov ered somewhat from his recent indisposition and was again around, spending, as before, most of his time in the Wadsworth library, poring over his precious volumes. And then two days later had come the long looked-for letter from Jessie. Still weak from his wounds, Dave's hands had trembled not a little when he tore this communication open to peruse it. The heart of the girl whom the young engineer adored was in that letter, and Dave read it over many times. In it Jessie spoke vf the shock she had received when the casualty lists in the daily newspapers had contained the information that Dave had been wounded. Then she told how a cablegram from Roger had been received, stat ing that it was not serious.

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108 DAVE PORTER'S WAR HONORS You cannot imagine, dear Dave, how much relieved we were to receive that cablegram," Jessie continued. We had not slept at all dur ing the night. It was dreadful to think that you had been shot down by those awful Germans. Oh, Dave, when you get around again do be care ful l If anything happened to you I do not know what I would do. I don't think I would care to live any longer." Dear, dear Jessie l murmured Dave, as he read this paragraph several times. The best girl that ever lived l Jessie then went on to relate about how she had missed some letters from Dave which had since arrived in a bunch, and she added that she herself had forwarded several letters to him which for some reason he could not have re ceived. "After this I am going to number the letters," she added; so you will know exactly what is missing, if any. 1 "Of course you have seen Laura's letters to Roger, so you know all about the success of our entertainments here for the local charities. Al though it called for a good deal of hard work, there was not a little fun attached to it, too, and I am sure we all enjoyed it. There was only one cloud for me, Dave; and now that it has passed I hardly think it is worth mentioning. StiU1 as some day or other you may meet Lieutenant Ge bauer, or possibly Nat Poole, who knows of what

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IN THE HOSPITAL 109 occurred, perhaps it would be best for me to let you know just how things stand. Lieutenant Gebauer, as you are aware, is con nected with the Gebauer jewelry concern of Phila delphia, and he and Papa transact quite a good deal of business. He often visits Crumville, and when Papa heard he had joined the army and got a commission, he was so pleased that he asked Gebauer to our house. From that time on the lieutenant for what reason I know not, because l gave him no encour agement became very attentive to me. He, of course, knew how matters stood between you and me, but that seemed to have no effect on him. He insisted upon pressing his attentions on me, until I was forced to give him the cold shoulder. Through Papa he gave me a very handsome Red Cross pin, one which their concern has something to do with manufacturing. But I am not going to wear it. I have a pin which I purchased my self. He was quite put out when I finally dropped him, and went off in anything but a good humor. During his stay here in Crum ville in some man ner or other he became acquainted with the Pooles; and when Nat was home on leave of absence from the training camp the two became quite chummy. Both of them are now in France, and it is pos sible that you may meet them, and for that rea son, as I said before, I think you ought to know how matters stand. Lieutenant Gebauer may try to make you believe that we are very friendly, but it is not true. I simply tolerated him because I didn't wish to do which might interfere

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uo DAVE PORTER'S WAR HONORS with Papa's business connections with the Phila delphia concern." There was more of this, Jessie going into some of the details of what had taken place between her and the lieutenant during the entertainments and for a week or two following. She did not say outright, but Dave could read between the lines, and he felt certain that Max Gebauer had in the end made himself quite obnoxious, even though outwardly he had acted the part of a gen tleman. "He must be a regular pill," was Dave's mental comment, as he put the letter away. "If he's that sort, he'd better not come around where I am. He certainly can't amount to much if he trains with such a chap as Nat Poole." Dave was quite curious to know whether Lieu tenant Gebauer and Nat Poole had really come over to France. But there was no way of finding out. He questioned a number with whom he came in contact, who had been at various Amer ican camps throughout France, but not one could give him a word concerning the pair. During those days came another cause for gratitude. Buster Beggs had recovered from the gas attack which had laid him low, and had once more joined the engineers at the front. His eyes were a trifle weak as yet, and he had to be careful of what he ate for fear of getting sick

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IN THE HOSPITAL III at the stomach, but otherwise he was as well as ever. Shadow was also around again. It was a great day for Dave when he was al lowed to get up and put on his clothes once more and go out into the sunshine. He felt quite shaky, and he was glad enough to rest after walk ing but a short distance. The base hospital had once been a chateau, and in the garden was a beautiful fountain surrounded by flowers, and here the convalescent soldiers gathered on benches to regain their health and to talk over the war. I think the war will end in another three or four months," said one of the convalescents. That's right; they must be pretty close to the end of their resources," put in another. "Don't you believe that, Jack," came from a third. "They must have been close to the end of their resources before, but now you must re member they are plundering the Russians of ev erything of use in that country. They'll be able to get immense quantities of food and war material that were meant for the Russian army, and that will keep them going for a long while." The collapse of Russia will undoubtedly help the Germans to continue the conflict," said Dave. But I believe that sooner or later they'll have to give in. They must know that they cannot stand against all of us combined."

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u2 DAVE PORTER'S WAR HONORS I'll tell you where we have got them," said another of the convalescents, a marine who had seen some fierce fighting ever since the Ameri cans had entered the contest. The Heinies can. fight well enough while they are in a bunch, but as soon as you separate them they become next to helpless. Their individual soldiers don't seem to have any initiative. Now with our men it's just the opposite. They'll fight well enough to gether, but let them get separated and each man is on his mettle to do the very best he knows how and make a record for himself." You are right there," replied Dave. And that puts me in mind of a story I heard only yes terday. A Western cowboy, who knew all about rounding up cattle but very little about army life, was in one of the advances and all at once became separated from the rest of his com mand. He wandered around until he came to a trench, and then found a dugout containing some German soldiers. "Now it seems this cowboy had been on kitchen duty for his company some days before, and as he didn t like peeling potatoes and doing stunts like that he was very much out of humor. He pointed his gun at the dugout and yelled to the Germans to come out One of them held up his hands and managed to ask in broken Eng lish what was wanted.

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IN THE HOSPITAL 113 You come out of that or I'll fire this hand grenade at you! yelled the cowboy, and flour ished something in h i s hand. The Germans became very much frightened, and one after another came out of the dugout and lined up, hands in the air. There were five of them, and the cowboy motioned to them to march with their hands up in the direction of the American line. Once or twice the Germans balked, but every time they did this the cowboy made a swing with his hand as if to throw a grenade at them. Finally they got near the American lines and some other soldiers came out to see what was doing. I've got five of the Heinies here,' an nounced the cowboy calmly. And it only took this baked potato to bring 'em in,' and then he showed the supposed hand-grenade, which was only a common potato which he had kept as a memento of his hours in the camp kitchen." Some potato I cried one of the listeners. "That was sure a raw deal," said another laughing. "No raw deal at all-the potato was baked," answered Dave, with a grin, and at this there was another laugh. A .few days later Dave was getting ready to leave the hospital. Once on his feet, his

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114 DAVE PORTER'S WAR HONORS strength had returned rapidly, and he now in sisted that he be allowed to return to his com mand. "You are certainly a plucky soldier," re marked the Red Cross nurse who had been tak ing care of him. Not many of the boys are as anxious to leave as you are." Dave was sitting on a bench waiting for the lorry which was to take him and a number of oth ers back to the front, when an ambulance came up with some wounded. Three were on stretch ers, but others were able to get out themselves and walk into the hospital. Dave Porter I The cry came from one of the soldiers who had descended from the ambulance, a fellow in the regulation khaki and with his left hand done up in a sling. Our hero stared at the new ar rival in amazement. It was Nat Poole l

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CHAPTER XII WHAT NAT POOLE SAID "WHY, Nat Poole I what brings you here?,, exclaimed Dave, as he moved forward to meet the young fellow from Crumville. The fact that Nat was in uniform and had his left hand done up in a sling made our hero for the time being forget his antagonism to the slacker who had never been a friend. Oh, I got my wrist sprained I don't know but that it's broken," replied the son of the well known money lender of Crumville. He turned anything but a pleasant face to Dave "What are you doing here ? " Oh, I got wounded in one of the little musses we had with the Germans." Wounded? I didn't know you engineers got into any fighting. I thought your job was a soft snap well behind the lines," returned Nat Poole. We have had more or less fighting to do ever since we came over," returned the young sergeant. Even when we were at the front with the Canadians the Germans tried to rush IIS

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u6 DAVE PORTER'S WAR HONORS us two or three times, and blew up one of the bridges we were building." Was it much of a wound? went on Nat curiously. I got a bullet through my side and another one grazed the back of my hand "; and Dave exhibited the scar left by the latter hurt. I've been at the hospital for several weeks. I'm just getting ready to leave now." "You don't say! Where are you gomghomc?" Home 1 Not much 1 I'm going to the front again just as fast as I can get there." Well, if you were wounded as bad as you say they ought to give you a chance to go home and rest up," continued the money lender's son. But I don't want to go home, Nat. I want to go to the front and stay there until this war is over and we have licked the Heinies out of their boots 1 cried Dave. Why, I wouldn't miss the fun for anything 1 " You must be a queer sort, Dave Porter, to consider being shot fun," grumbled Nat. "I guess you weren't hurt much. Maybe you only got a scratch or two and wanted to show off," he added, with a touch of old-time envy in his voice. At Oak Hall, Nat Poole had always envied Dave his popularity and had done every thing in his power to depreciate it.

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WHAT NAT POOLE SAID II7 Well, all I can tell you about the wound in my side is what the doctors and nurses here have said," returned our hero calmly. "They all think I ought to stay in the hospital a little longer. They say they never heard of a fellow getting up so quickly and starting back for the front. But I'm tired of staying here doing noth ing. I want to get with the rest of the bunch and see what is going on. But tell me about yourself, Nat," continued Dave kindly. Were you in a fight? " Yes, I was I replied the other sourly. What, with the Huns? questioned Dave incredulously He could not understand how the money lender's son had been able to get to the fighting front so quickly. "No, it wasn't at the front," growled Nat. I got into a row with our company cook. He served us some chow that wasn't fit for a dog to touch I laid him out good and proper, and he hit me with a frying-pan. He had no right to do it, and I reported him." And was it the frying-pan that knocked out your wrist?" queried Dave, and now he had all he could do to keep from grinning in Nat's face. Yes, it was. And it pained awfully at first. I used my first-aid kit, but it didn't seem to do any good, and so I asked for permission to up here to the hospital and have the wrist

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u8 DAVE PORTER'S WAR HONORS examined. I want it attended to properly, toot I don't want any two-cent army doctor mussing with it. I don't intend to go through life with a stiff wrist, or a crooked one, either. Do you suppose they've got any really good doctors at this place? " There are several surgeons here who are just as good as you'll find anywhere, Nat. And the nurses and the nursing couldn't be better. Then you came over on your own account? " Oh, I got permission, of course " Is the camp you are at in this vicinity? "It's about two miles from here. Say, take me in and show me where to go. This wrist of mine is beginning to hurt again," went on Nat Poole. Had it been anybody but the money lender's son, Dave might have felt more sympathy for him. But as it was, he knew that when Nat was hurt he was inclined to make a mountain out of a molehill. Though Dave aided as much as he could, the money lender's son had to wait until the more serious cases had been disposed of by the surg eons in attendance. Then a rather elderly man, the same who had attended Dave, took hold of Nat. I can't find any bones broken," said the surgeon, after a careful examination. "The

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WHAT NAT POOLE SAID II9 wrist is bruised a little and probably feels somewhat lame. We'll put some liniment on it and bind it up well, and I think you will find it as well as ever in a day or two." Don't you think I'd better stay at the hos pital for a few days and make sure of it? ques tioned Nat, eagerly. "What I Stay? Not at all I This place is only for those who are more or less se riously wounded. That isn't a hospital case at all. In fact, I can hardly understand why you took the trouble to come here to have it attended to. Many of the men get hurts much worse than that and say nothing about therrt; and then the surgeon turned his back on Nat to show that the interview was at an end. Evidently he had met such slackers as the money lender's son before and knew exactly how to handle them. "I knew just how it would be," growled Nat, as he walked out, followed by Dave. As long as there isn't any extra money in it for them they don't care how they treat a fellow I I know how my wrist hurts, even if he doesn't. I'll go back to camp and take care of it myself. But I am not going on duty yet awhile, and I'll tell the top sergeant so. By the way, I see you are a sergeant." "Yes."

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120 DAVE PORTER'S WAR HONORS "It's funny how some fellows just tumble into luck," went on Nat, more sourly than ever. "I came pretty near becoming a sergeant myself, but a big bruiser of a fellow from up the State did me out of it." Well, you'll have a good chance to work your way up, Nat, now you are over in France. They are promoting fellows every day for duties well done and for bravery under fire." Humph I I know all about that. Those who are in favor with the fellows higher up get all the plums, and the rest of the poor dubs can whistle." I don't believe that at all, Nat. I've been over here now since the middle of last summer, and so far as I can see, promotions have been only according to merit. Of course, here and there a person who doesn't particularly deserve it may get ahead, but that is the exception to the rule. Most of the men who have gotten honors have well deserved them." "Humph I you'll never make me believe that, Dave Porter. I know too much about such things. I know that money talks, for one thing. I think I might have had a lieutenancy if my old man would only have shelled out enough money. But you know how tight he is just as tight as the bark on a tree." What did he say when you were drafted,

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WHAT NAT POOLE SAID 121 Nat? questioned Dave, with pardonable curi osity. What did he say? What could he say? I was drafted, and that was all there was to it. You knew my sentiments when you were in Crum ville. Didn't you break up one of my peace meetings -a meeting I had a perfect right to hold?" I deny that you had a right to hold 'that meeting, Nat. However, all of that is now past and gone. You're in the army, and it is your duty to do the best you can for Uncle Sam." Oh, I'll do my duty don't you fear about that, Dave Porter. I'm just as patriotic as any body. But, at the same time, I claim I have a right to he patriotic in my own way." "Well, you let me give you a little advice, Nat," was Dave's earnest comment. "The fel lows oyer here in France .are rather serious.. minded, and they won't stand for any nonsense. If they get the least intimation that you arc any kind of a slacker, they ll come down on you like a ton of bricks " I don't need your advice l "Very well then, Nat; I won't say another word." "You think just because you've been over here a year or so and they have made you a sergeant that you know everything. I haven't forgotten

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122 DAVE PORTER'S WAR HONORS how you tried to run things at Oak Hall. Of course, some of the fellows toadied to you, but if you'll remember, I wasn t in that crowd." "Now, Nat, don't get so hot under the collar. It won't get you anywhere. We're both over here to do our duty, so what is the use of quar reling? I was going to ask you about some of the folks at home and how Crumville looked and all that; and I thought maybe you would like to know something about Ben Basswood and t-he other fellows you know who are over here." I don't want to know anything about Ben Basswood or any of the others of the bunch who are under your thumb. I'm with a crowd that suits me a great deal better than that Oak Hall bunch ever did. But I'll tell you one thing, Dave Porter," went on Nat suddenly. "There is one fellow in our command that you had better keep your eyes open for." And who is that? " Oh, you'll find out soon enough -that is, if you ever get any real news from Crumville," answered the money lender's son insinuatingly. Then you don't want to tell me? "Well, if you want to know so bad, it's Lieu tenant Max Gebauer, the son of that millionaire jewelry manufacturer of Philadelphia," went on Nat triumphantly. "You know their firm and

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WHAT NAT POOLE SAID 123 the Wadsworth concern have a whole lot of busi ness dealings." Well, what has Lieutenant Gebauer and those business dealings to do with me? questioned our hero, although he knew about what was coming. I guess you thought you had it all settled with Jessie Wadsworth and had it all fixed just how you were going to tie fast to the Wadsworth fortune," continued Nat. "Well, maybe you'll have another guess coming. I don't imagine Jessie Wadsworth thinks as much of you as you think she does." Don't you think you had better let Jessie drop, Nat? Our feelings for each other are our own, not yours." And Dave's voice grew a trifle cold. Oh, of course I And I don't intend to butt in. I never cared for her, and you know it. She's an only daughter, and thoroughly spoiled." Nat did not seem to realize that he was an only son and over-indulged. Just the same, I think Lieutenant Gebauer has got the upper hand of you. He helped her at some charity exhibitions, and took her out riding, and to one of the dances, and I don't know what all. He's been calling on her right along, and the rumor is around Crum ville that they are secretly engaged." "Nat, you're making that so-called rumor up yourself I cried Dave. I know all about how

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124 DAVE PORTER'S WAR HONORS Max Gebauer has been calling on Jessie and how he for<:ed his attentions on her. She herself has written to me about it, if you must know. I don't give that fellow any credit for what he has done. But now that he is in France and she is done with him, why not let the whole matter drop?" Oh, so she wrote to you about him, did she? Well, maybe she told the truth and maybe she didn't. Oh, now don't get too hot! cried Nat hastily, as Dave's eyes suddenly flashed fire and he clenched his fists. I'm only telling you about things that I saw with my own eyes. I know that she went out with him a great deal and that she seemed to like his company. And whether you want to believe it or not, there is a rumor that they are secretly engaged and. that they are to announce the engagement publicly as soon as she can get some sort of a decent pretext for break ing off her engagement with you. That's aJI I've got to say." And having thus delivered himself, Nat Poole turned to where a motor lorry bound for his camp was standing, and a few minutes later was off, leaving Dave in a much disturbed frame of mind staring after him.

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CHAPTER XIII THE DISTINGUISHED SERVICE MEDAL AN hour later found Dave on a heavy motorlorry bound for the place to which the fighting engineers had moved after the thrilling fight on the new roadway through the forest. Our hero had been told by one of the hospital staff that the lorry was headed that way, and the driver, a young American college mah, had readily con sented to give him a lift. The drive to the engineers' camp took about two hours. For the greater part it was over roadways much torn up by shell-fire and being used by a steady stream of lorries and other turnouts coming and going. On the way they met a battery which was shifting its position, and also a regiment of soldiers who were swinging along :whistling popular tunes. They likewise passed a number of French people, most of them carrying some of their worldly possessions on their backs or under their arms. All of them looked much downcast, as if they had lost their last friend on earth, yet when they met the eyes of the Amer icans they would smile hopefully. 125

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126 DAVE PORTER'S WAR HONORS They're looking to our boys to do a whole lot for them," said the lorry driver to Dave. And we're going to make good I answered our hero promptly. Those folks are all going to have their homes back again." At the time Dave returned to camp the engi neers had finished one piece of work and were awaiting orders. As soon as he leaped from the lorry there was a rush to greet him. Here's Dave I " How are you, old man? " How did they treat you at the hospital? " Say, but you're looking fine I It must pay to get wounded." It hasn't been the same old camp since you went away, Dave. My, but we're glad to see you back I And Roger, who had thus spoken, grabbed him by both hands. Then the others surrounded our hero, and while one caught a hand another caught him around the shoulders and another around the waist. Hay, let up, you fellows! cried the young sergeant good-naturedly. "Please don't pull me apart. Remember I have just come from the hospital." "That's right I Boys, be careful," admonished Phil. We don't want to kill him with kindness." Say, that puts me in mind of a story," burst out Shadow, who had been the one to encircle

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THE DISTINGUISHED SERVICE MEDAL 127 Dave's waist. "A ragged newsboy went to a charity picnic. One of the ladies kept on stuffing him with cake. Finally she said: Oh, Johnny, do have another piece of cake.' Then Johnny turned a woebegone face on her and replied: 'Thank yer, Miss. I could chaw it for yer, but I couldn't swaller it.' " We've got no time to listen to stories only the one that Dave has to tell," burst out Ben. I'm glad to see you in service again, Buster I exclaimed Dave, as he caught the stout youth by the hand. "We've both been through it, haven't we, Dave?" was Buster's reply, with a grin. Herc is where the Oak Hall boys celebrate I cried Roger. You've said it I responded Phil. And thank fortune we've got something to celebrate on," he added. Phil and I went back to the nearest French town yesterday," explained Ben. We took up a collection and came back with a whole lot of good things to eat. We thought you would be along soon, from the word you sent two days ago." "That's fine I" replied Dave, his eyes beam ing. It warmed his heart to think of how his chums had remembered him. Oak Hall for ever I he exclaimed enthusiastically. And then

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128 DAVE PORTER'S WAR HONORS he added, making a sudden wry face : Al though I know one fellow who won't subscribe to that sentiment. 11 Who is he ? " Show him to me, and I'll pound the life out of him I" He must be some dirty sneak I "The fellow I mean is Nat Poole," answered Dave, and then came another outburst. Where did you meet that slacker? " Did they really make him come over to France after all? "Do you really mean to say you met Nat Poole? 11 demanded Roger. Yes. At the hospital where I was staying just before I came away." And then our hero gave some of the particulars. He did not at that time mention Lieutenant Max Gebauer ex cept in a general way, for he did not wish to drag Jessie's name into the discussion which he knew would follow. Gee, but that's rich -Nat Poole getting whacked over the wrist with a frying-pan I 11 chuckled Phil. I wish I had been there to see it." And fancy Nat pitching into the cook for having done it I said Buster. I suppose he went up and shook his forefinger in the cook's face and said : You naughty boy t You are

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THE DISTINGUISHED SERVICE MEDAL 129 real rude, don't you know! he mimicked, and at this there was a roar of laughter. Well, there is one thing certain," remarked Ben. The army will either make a man of Nat or he'll be about half-killed, even if he doesn't get shot." Fancy Nat's wanting to be an officer I broke in Phil. I must say I am mighty thankful for one thing," announced our hero. "And that is that Nat didn't attempt to join the engineers. I would consider it an awful hardship to have him around all the time." You never said anything truer than that, Dave," returned Ben. That night there was quite a celebration in one corner of the large dugout where the company to which Dave belonged was quartered. All the good things purchased by Phil and Ben in the neighboring French town were brought forth, and it may be surmised that all the young engineers did full justice to the eats set before them. This is almost like one of our old feasts at Oak Hall," was Dave's comment. "Only we haven't got Big Jim Murphy to watch us," said Buster. Good-hearted Jim I cried Dave. He sure did do us many a good turn. I wonder where he is riow?"

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130 DAVE PORTER'S WAR HONORS Somebody told me he was in the heavy artil lery, along with Luke Watson," answered Shadow. Speaking of the old Oak Hall boys, what has become of Polly Vane? queried Ben, re f erring to a youth of high intellectuality who, because of his girlish appearance, had been nick named Polly. Polly is at the head of one of the big govern ment offices in Washington," answered Roger. I found that out through my dad, who chanced to meet him there one day while on business. Polly, he told me, is doing unusually well. It's something connected with the war department, so you can say that he is really in the war, too, even though he isn't on the firing-line." It was not until the next day, when Dave could catch Roger alone, that he told his chum of what Nat Poole had said concerning Lieutenant Max Gebauer. This brought on quite a talk, during which the senator's son told of what Laura had written on the subject of the young lieutenant. I always wanted to say something about thitt to you, Dave," said Roger; but somehow I couldn't bring myself to do it. I spoke to Phil about it, and we concluded that it would do no good to worry you. I am mighty glad that the matter is cleared up so far as you and Jessie are concerned, and I know that Phil will be mighty glad, too."

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THE DISTINGUISHED SERVICE MEDAL 131 "I understand your feelings perfectly, Roger. Just the same, I think you should have come to me in the first place. However, that is now a thing of the past. What worries me is what Nat Poole said about a rumor going around Crum ville concerning Jessie and this lieutenant. If this gets to Jessie's ears, it will certainly hurt her feelings terribly." I don't doubt that." Maybe when she sent Gebauer off about his business he got miffed and spread the report him self, just to get square with her. And for all I know, Nat Poole may have had a hand in it, too." If he did he ought to have a good pounding for it I The senator's son thought for a mo ment. I'll tell you what I can do, Dave. I can write to Laura and tell her what Nat Poole said, and then she and Jessie can fix up some scheme whereby they can let folks in Crumville know that there is nothing in the rumor." "Yes, that might help some," and Dave's face brightened a little. A letter was written that very night by the senator's son and posted without delay. Captain Obray was glad to see Dave back again, and praised him once more for what he had done. "As you know, Sergeant Porter, you have al ready been cited for bravery for what you did for

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132 DAVE PORTER'S WAR HONORS me and others during that battle," said the cap. tain of the engineers. In a few days I hope to be able to announce something that will, I am sure, please you very much." Two days later came the announcement, which filled Dave with great pleasure. The engineers were reviewed by one of the army generals, and Dave, with a number of others, was asked to step forward, and then upon the breast of the young sergeant was pinned a Distinguished Service Medal -a round bronze disk bearing upon it an American eagle. The disk rested on a ribbon hav ing a white center with a narrow blue stripe on each side and with red stripes at the ends. It may be mentioned here that the Distinguished Service Medals are authorized by our President for distinguished services in the present war. Dave, we've got to congratulate you," said Roger warmly, after the review had come to an end and he and some of the other engineers had come around to gaze at the medal and admire it. That is something you can wear for the rest of your life with a great deal of pride." I'm hoping to see each of you fellows get one of these before the war is over," answered the young sergeant. "I don't know but what some of you deserve them already." We're not all as quick-witted as you are, Dave," remarked Buster. "We ryay be willing

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THE DISTINGUISHED SERVICE MEDAL 133 enough to do a thing, but while we are thinking about it you jump in and do it." "You've said it, Buster," added Shadow. "It's the quick-thinking and quick-acting fellow who is going to get in the lead in this war, every time." Shadow and Phil had something to tell Dave which further interested the young sergeant. This was to the effect that they had had a chance some time before to visit the place where Dave had once located a hidden German ammunition dump. The two young engineers had made a long search in that vicinity for Dave's missing watch. They had found the wrist-band to which the timepiece had been attached, but the watch itself had been missing. "Well, that proves one thing," said Dave. I certainly lost the watch in that vicinity. And if it wasn't in the band it must have either been smashed by the explosion or otherwise some per son must have picked it up." Of course Dave had to write home concerning his medal, and he took the occasion to send a long communication to Jessie, mentioning what Nat Poole had told him concerning Gebauer. He added that he hoped the girl would not suffer because of any rumor that might have been circu lated in their home town. Well, we have orders to get on the march again to-morrow morning," announced one of the

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134 DAVE PORTER'S WAR HONORS sergeants to Dave two days later, following a quiet Sunday, which Dave had spent in resting and in attending services at a nearby Y. M. C. A. hut. At the services he had listened to a good, straight forward sermon on the duties of a soldier, and there had followed a number of the familiar re ligious songs in which the entire congregation of engineers and others had joined heartily. I suppose we're going up to the front again?" remarked Dave. "More than likely. Although I haven't any very definite information." Did they say whether it wou!d be trench work or road work? " Trench work, I imagine; although I'm not sure." Two days after that found the fighting engi neers in a place that was entirely new to them. Here a long line of trenches were under construc tion by some other engineers, and they were sent in to give assistance before opening up a roadway still further to the northeast The weather had been fairly good for some time, but now another storm set in which made trench-digging anything but pleasant. However, it was all a part of the game, as Dave remarked, and consequently he did not complain. He wore his high trench boots and his rubber slicker, and thus protected himself as best he could.

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THE DISTINGUISHED SERVICE MEDAL 135 A large part of the trench work in that vicinity had been completed before the fighting engineers arrived on the scene. They, however, were set to work completing the interior of a dugout of large proportions, a place located fully forty feet underground and covered with the trunks of many trees. This certainly ought to be a safe place from any bombardment," remarked Phil, while they were at work. Sixteen of the engineers were still down in the dugout, the others having been ordered to the surface, when there came a cry of alarm from a distance. Immediately following the cry came a roar of artillery, and this was kept up for fully a quarter of an hour. "Something is doing-that's sure I" cried Dave. I wonder if it is possible that a battle is developing in this vicinity? "It certainly sounds like it," answered Ben. "And it sounds to me as if it was coming nearer every minute." If it comes this way, maybe we'll be in for another fight I cried Roger.

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CHAPTER XIV THE MACHINE-GUN NESTS THE Huns are coming, boys! "Up and at 'em, fellows l Don't give Jerry a chance to get anywhere near us! So the cries ran up and down the trenches, mingled with several orders and the cracking of rifles. Then the artillery, which had ceased for a moment, began again, this time with increased fury. I think we had better get out of here, boys," announced Dave Never mind your tools. I guess all you'll want just now will be your rifles. We'll go as far as the entrance to the dugout, anyway." As the dugout and the entrance to it were not yet completed, it was no easy task to crawl up the wet and slippery slope leading to the trenches As requested by him, the top sergeant of the company had been transferred to another unit, and as Dave was next in rank to him, and as no one had been as yet appointed to fill poor Lieutenant Hamey's place, Dave was in command of the engineers left in the dugout. It must be admitted that he felt his responsi136

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THE MACHINE-GUN NESTS 137 bility, the more so because the sudden alarm above had cut him off from communication with the first lieutenant or the captain. Some of the engi neers attached to the signal corps had been stringing telephone wires along the trench to the dug out, but these were as yet not ready to be used. As the engineers came up to the level of the trench above them they saw some fierce fighting not a great distance away. A fairly large body of German troops had come forward over a slight rise of ground and had taken a position behind a natural ridge of rocks. Off to one side a Ger man machine-gun nest had been located, and from this the enemy was pouring a constant fire toward the Americans. We' re in for it, all right enough I cried Roger. Boys, when you use your guns make every shot tell I cried Dave to his little command. And then, of a sudden, he turned to face the crowd. Are you with me in trying to do a bit of hazardous work that may count big for our side? he questioned quickly. Sure we are I cried Phil. You can count on me every time, Dave I You know that," announced Roger. "Show us what we can do, and we'll do it," was the way Ben expressed himself. And the others shouted various words of approval.

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138 DAVE PORTER'S WAR HONORS A few military supplies had been brought down into the dugout by some soldiers who had been ordered to leave them there for the present. Among these supplies Dave had noticed a box of hand-grenades. He immediately ordered two of his men to go below and bring the box up with all possible speed. I am not quite sure whether we can reach that machine-gun nest with these hand-grenades or not," he said; "but, anyway, I think it's worth trying." We can't throw them from here," said Phil. "I don't intend to throw them from here. I'll show you what I have in mind just as soon as the grenades have been distributed." It was an easy matter to break open the box and hand the grenades around. Each man was supplied with four to six of the deadly explosives. Then Dave, after another careful survey of the machine-gun nest, ordered his men to follow him. On arriving in that locality the young sergeant had taken time to look over the ground carefully, noting the various trenches which were in the course of construction. In doing this he had taken note also of the lay of the land and had wondered what would happen if an approach should be made by the enemy through a little rocky gully running off to one side and which was all but hidden by some stunted undergrowth.

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THE MACHINE-GUN NESTS 139 This gully, he had now noted with satisfaction, ran in an irregular way toward the vicinity of the nest where the German machine-gunners were operating their weapon with such telling effect against the Americans. At one point where the gully made a sharp turn it was less than fifty yards distant from the gun. I don't believe I'll need more than three or four men," announced Dave presently. "Who wants to go along? Every engineer wanted that honor, and all begged Dave not to leave them behind. All right you can all come along if you want to," he announced, with a grin. We'll give the Heinies a salute they will most likely never forget." The young sergeant led the way along the trench to where there was an unfinished portion, and there he halted his little party and instructed them carefully. "Just beyond the top of this trench at a dis tance of about ten feet is the beginning of a gully which runs along between the rocks and bushes for a long distance. It is very irregular in shape, and in some places is much deeper than at others. We'll have to crawl along slowly and do our best to keep ourselves hidden. Otherwise the Huns may spot us, and then it will be all over. Keep your guns ready for use in case any of the Heinies

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140 DAVE PORTER'S WAR HONORS show themselves. They may be in the gully al ready." With caution he raised his helmet on top of his rifle and held it above the top of the trench. No rifle report followed, and he moved the helmet along a distance of several feet, as if the man wear ing it were walking. But no shot came, and then without further delay he crawled quickly over the top of the trench and made for the entrance to the gully he had mentioned. Like so many snakes the other engineers wriggled along after him. It took fully a minute for the whole sixteen to reach the gully, and during that time each man was fearful that the Germans would discover and open fire upon them. But the battle was raging furiously at some distance, and they fortunately were not noticed. Once in the gully, they proceeded with caution. Dave was in the lead, with Roger next and Phil and the others following. All crawled along on their arms and knees, holding their rifles ready for instant use. Presently Dave heard a sound ahead which brought him instantly to a halt. It was the noise of a loose stone falling on a rock, and there fol lowed an exclamation of pain in German. Evi dently the stone had come down on somebody in that part of the gully just ahead. The young sergeant motioned for those behind

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THE MACHINE-GUN NESTS 141 him to keep absolutely quiet. Then, with his gun ready for immediate use, he moved forward inch by inch until he could peer around a turn in the gully. A German soldier was there, sitting on a rock with his back toward our hero. In one hand he had a sandwich, consisting of rye bread and a sausage, and the other a small bottle of native wine, and he was evidently enjoying his lunch regardless of the battle going on all around him. Dave looked beyond the German and saw that he was alone. It would have been an easy matter for the young sergeant to have killed this enemy then and there; but he could not bring himself thus to shoot a fellow human being in the back, and besides he did not consider it good policy to make any un necessary noise in the gully. The success of the task he had undertaken lay, largely, he felt certain, in advancing in utter silence. He motioned to Phil and Roger, and both un derstood. Then all three advanced side by side and laid down their rifles. The next instant Dave was on the German and with both hands had caught him directly over the mouth, pulling him backward. Then Roger and Phil leaped forward, one to kneel on the fellow's breast and the other to catch him by the legs. The German was taken completely by surprise,

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142 DAVE PORTER'S WAR HONORS and with his mouth full of bread and sausage he came close to choking. He spluttered and gasped, and then, seeing he was helpless in the hands of the Americans, gasped out hoarsely: "Kamerad/ Kamerad!" All right, kamerad' it is I announced Dave in a whisper. "But you keep quiet." And to make the fellow understand he pointed to his mouth and placed his hand over that organ of speech. The fell ow understood and nodded. His gun had rested across his lap, so he was easily dis armed. Then Dave detailed two of the engi neers to take the fellow back to the American lines. "And don't let him make any noise while he is in this gully," cautioned the young sergeant. You bet your boots he'll never let out more than one peep I announced one of the engineers who was to take the prisoner back. And, looking at the prisoner, he pointed to the fellow's mouth and then to the point of his own bayonet, to intimate that if the fellow made any noise he would be stabbed to death. But the German pris oner had no intention of risking his life further, and he nodded vigorously to show that he under stood. With this G erman thus disposed of, Dave and

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THE MACHINE-GUN NESTS 143 those remaining with him again advanced, this time with increased caution, for if one German had found his way into the gully others might do like wise, and the engineers did not wish to be treated to a disagreeable surprise. As they progressed it must not be supposed that they did not keep their eyes and ears open for what was going on beyond the gully. Every few feet they stopped to look up and peer between the rocks and1the stunted undergrowth which overhung the edges of the depression. Beyond this hollow the landscape had been torn up and in many places swept clean by the heavy artillery fire of that day and of days gone by. Presently they came to another turn in the gully. Here there was a deep depression, and they had to wade through water and mud up to their knees. They were now getting closer to the German ma chine-gun nest, and Dave motioned to his men to increase their caution and for each of them to hold a hand-grenade ready for use. At last they reached a point where it seemed impossible to go any further. A shell had exploded in that vicinity and completely blocked the gully. To advance farther would mean that they would have to crawl out of the depression and around a small hill of dirt and sand left by the ex ploded shell.

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144 DAVE PORTER'S WAR HONORS I don't know whether we can reach that ma chine-gun nest from here or not," Dave whispered to the others. "What's the matter with going over the top after that nest? demanded Roger. "Do you want to do it?" questioned Dave quickly, turning to all of those under him. Sure I Let us go over I was the whispered answer. Not an engineer wanted to hold back. With more caution than ever Dave peeped out among the rocks and calculated what might be the chances for success. While he was doing this he made another discovery, which was to the ef fect that while they had been slowly crawling up the gully another machine-gun of the Germans had been located almost side by side with the first. Both guns were popping away constantly, and evidently doing considerable damage. If they should turn their guns this way it would be all up with us," said the young sergeant. So if we show ourselves we'll be taking our lives in our hands." Well, what of it? Come on I " Don't let us waste any more time. Those guns must be doing terrible damage to our fel lows." Let us get busy with these hand-grenades right away." They were all enthusiastic, and Dave more so

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THE MACHINE-GUN NESTS 145 than any one else. His eyes lit up with fire as he got a hand-grenade ready for use. All right, boys I If you say so we'll go over the top and at 'em," he cried. Get your gre nades ready, but don't throw until I give the word. And then be sure to give it to the Heinies just where it will do the most good." There was a brief pause, and then Dave leaped forth from the gully, followed almost instantly by all of the others. Away they sped over the ground in the direction of the machine-gun nests. They had covered fully fifty feet before the Germans discovered them. Then a yell went up and several shots rang out, the bullets whistling over their heads. Now then all together I yelled Dave, and let fly with his hand-grenade. The others hurled their explosives at the same time. While two of the hand-grenades went wide of the mark and one other failed to go off, the others came down directly in the midst of the two ma chine-gun nests. There was a loud explosion, fol lowed rapidly by a number of others. The ma chine-guns were completely wrecked and the bodies of the gunners were hurled in all directions 1

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CHAPTER XV LIEUTENANT PORTER A HIT I A perfect hit I "That's the time we showed the Huns what we can do I" Say I do you know I believe we killed every Jerry in the bunch? So the cries and comments ran on as the fighting engineers surveyed the havoc they had wrought. The hand-grenades had exploded with terrific force, sending pieces of the machine-guns almost to where they were standing. All the gun crews had been either killed or fatally wounded, some of the bodies being horribly mutilated. "It certainly makes a fellow sick to look at it," murmured Dave to Roger. So it does, Dave. But this isn't child's play. It's stern war." The machine-gun nests had been seen from a distance, but the Yankee soldiers had had no op portunity to get at them. Now the annihilation of the nests was viewed with astonishment, which quickly turned to intense satisfaction. A cheer 146

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LIEUTENANT PORTER went down the line, and then in a twinkling the Americans came over at those who had advanced to lay them low. The outbreak had been nothing but a skirmish at the start, but now it was gradually growing into a genuine battle. Before night the fighting line extended for over a mile and a half, and the con flict kept up long after darkness had fallen. Having accomplished his purpose, Dave or dered his command to retire. They were just leaving the end of the gully to get back to the trench when the young sergeant saw Captain Obray running toward him. What does this mean, Sergeant Porter? Where have you been?" called out the captain of the engineers. We've just blown up two machine-gun nests, Captain," answered Dave, with pardonable pride. What? Were you responsible for those ex plosions we heard in that direction? and the cap tain pointed with his hand. "Yes, sir," answered Dave; and related some of the particulars. I sent Jackson and Meeks back with a prisoner." Yes, I saw them with the fellow, but just then I had no time to ask them the particulars," answered Captain Obray. You certainly have done wonderfully well. Those machine-guns were doing terrible execution on our boys. With those

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148 DAVE PORTER'S WAR HONORS guns going, we could not have advanced at this point." The captain then told Dave that he and the men under him must retire along with the rest of the engineering unit. Two regiments of the regulars are coming this way," he announced, and they can hold this ground a great deal better than we can. And besides that, there will be plenty of work for us to do just as soon as this battle c<;>mes to an end. Unless I miss my guess, we are going to make quite an advance on Jerry; Jerry being the name by which the Germans were occasionally desig nated why, no one could tell. The advance and the retirement over the rough rocks of the gully had been no easy task for the en gineers, and all were glad enough to go back to the shelter of the unfinished dugout. As they went down the slope Dave paused just long enough to see a company of the regulars come into view on the double-quick. As said before, the fighting continued far into the night, and early in the morning it was renewed and did not come to a stop until about the middle of the afternoon. By that time the Americans had made an advance along the line from a half mile to two miles deep; and once more they began to dig in with all possible speed. It was a night not easily forgotten by Dave and

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LIEUTENANT PORTER 149 his chums. They had had no supper, and to cook under such circumstances was practically out of the question. They used their emergency rations, and about two o'clock in the afternoon saw some of the kitchen details coming forward with hot stew and coffee. These, along with chunks of bread, were eagerly devoured by the hungry engineers. Well, we sure did make a record for ourselves in this battle," remarked Buster, when the fighting had come to an end. We ought to get some credit for smashing up those gun nests." "You'll get it, don't you worry," returned Dave. You just wait until I make my report." The news soon circulated that Dave and his de tail had been instrumental in annihilating the two German machine-guns with their crews, and the major of the engineering unit himself came down to the quarters to praise the young sergeant and shake hands with every fellow who had been with him. Captain Obray reported this, but I want more of the particulars," said the major. "It was grand I You are certainly helping us keep up the name of the fighting engineers." Partial recognition of what Dave and those un der him had done came very shortly afterwards. All were cited for bravery, and those who had not yet received medals did so, much to their satisfac tion.

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150 DAVE PORTER'S WAR HONORS I knew you fellows would get medals sooner or later," declared Dave to his chums, as he shook hands with them. I tell you it takes the Oak Hall boys to cover themselves with glory " Yes, but it was your plan that we followed, Dave," said Roger. I don't believe anybody else would have thought of it." After that came two weeks of hard work, in the midst of which another storm descended upon the engineers, making them miserable for a day or two. "But I don't care," announced Dave grimly. "We're pushing right ahead, and that means a whole lot. Anything to down the Huns I The next morning the skies cleared, and then the aviators began to get busy. Dave watched them for a while, for flying always interested him greatly. "I think if I wasn't an engineer I would like to be an airman," he told Roger "Exactly my idea, Dave. But we are engi neers, and I suppose we've got to stick to our jobs until the war is over." I'm making a bet the war will be over by Christmas," broke in Phil. Oh, I don't believe the end will come so quickly as all that I cried Buster I think it will probably keep on until the middle of next summer. By that time Germany will have come

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LIEUTENANT PORTER 151 to the end of her resources, and she will have to sue for peace." I believe the Central Powers are worse off than we imagine," said Dave. "They are simply putting on a bold front, hoping by some manner of means to bring us to terms." Say, maybe they'll come to terms like the girl did when the fellow wanted to marry her I cried Shadow. At first she declared that she wouldn't marry him until he earned at least fifty dollars a week. He was then getting twelve. A few weeks later he came to her and announced that the boss had raised his wages to fifteen dollars. All right, Jack,' said the girl. 'Now that you've got your raise I suppose we had better get married. Fifteen dollars is pretty near to fifty anyhow.' And at this there was a general laugh. Two days later came word to Dave that thrilled him greatly. He received a commission as a lieu tenant of the engineers, while Roger and Phil be came sergeants and Ben was made a corporal. Allow me to congratulate you, Lieutenant Porter," said Captain Obray, grasping Dave's hand warmly. I think this gives me alrnost as much pleasure as it does you." It ce' rtainly makes me feel good, I won't deny it," returned Dave, his eyes gleaming with satis faction. I thought I was going some to become a sergeant. But to be a lieutenant of the engi-

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152 DAVE PORTER'S WAR HONORS neers I I never dreamed I would get that far when I joined." I hope to see you get farther yet before this war is over," said the Captain encouragingly, and then he went down the line congratulating Roger and the others on their promotions. Well, I suppose we've got to bid you farewell now, Dave," said Ben. "As a commissioned of ficer, you won't want to herd with us common fellows any more." Don't you believe it for a minute, Ben," was Dave's quick reply. "Of course, when we are on duty I've got to be your lieutenant, but when I'm not on duty you can take it from me that we are going to be the old chums we have always been," and he caught his first boy friend by both hands and looked at Ben in a manner that meant a great deal. Of course, all of the engineers who had been promoted had to send the glad tidings to those at home. Dave wrote a long letter to his father and another to Jessie, while Roger penned like com munications to his folks in Washington and to Laura, and Phil did not forget his own people and Belle Endicott, who was now visiting the Porters. But as the sunshine had followed the storm, so a cloud came two days later to mar our hero's

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LIEUTENANT PORTER 153 happiness. He received a letter from Jessie which had been over two weeks on the way. In that the girl mentioned the fact that some folks in Crumville were treating her rather queerly, and that one girl in particular, on whom Max Gebauer had been in the habit of calling, had made a rather odd remark. The girl's name was Benson, and of her Jessie wrote : I met lVIary Benson in one of the stores. She spoke about Lieutenant Gebauer and then suddenly looked at me and shrugged her shoulders and said: I don't suppose you hear from Dave Porter any more. You threw him aside rather suddenly, didn't you? I demanded to know what she meant, but she only shrugged her shoulders and walked off. I felt as if I could have shaken her good and hard. I never did like her when we went to school together, and now I like her less than ever." Then the girl went on to admit that evidently some folks had got the wrong impression concern ing her and her intimacy with Gebauer. She added that she and Laura were going to do what they could to straighten matters out. By reading between the lines Dave was made well aware of the fact that the girl he regarded so highly was having anything but a pleasant time of it because of what the young jewelry manufacturer from

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154 DAVE PORTER'S WAR HONORS Philadelphia had done and said. And it was evi dent that Nat Poole had backed up Gebauer as far as was in his power. It's an outrage I That's just what it is -an outrage I "declared Dave, when he talked the mat ter over with Roger. I just wish I could be back in Crumville for a few days. I'd show those folks a thing or two." The idea of having his Jessie suffer was maddening. I don't think you ought to lay it to the folks in Crumville," returned the senator's son. I think you ought to lay it to that Gebauer and Na't." Now that Dave had been made a lieutenant of the engineers he resolved to do everything in his power to make a creditable showing as a commis sioned officer. He studied his engineering text books and his volumes on French and German at every opportunity. Nor did he hesitate to go to Captain Obray and some of the other upper offi cers for advice and instruction. This pleased the older men greatly, and they did all they could to encourage our hero. Some days later, when all was quiet in that sec tor, Dave obtained permission to go to a French town about fifteen miles behind the lines. He wanted to make a few necessary purchases, and as Roger and Phil also wanted to buy some things they secured permission to go with him. The three caught a ride a short part of the

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LIEUTENANT PORTER 155 distance, and then walked the rest of the way. They were just on the outskirts of the town when they saw an American soldier ahead of them with a small French lad by his side. The French lad, who was gaunt in appearance, as though half starved, was lugging a large round bundle wrapped in old newspapers. Please, Monsieur! Please, I cannot carry the package any farther," wailed the boy in French, and he made a move as if to let the pack age drop. Here, you! None of that I cried the sol dier, catching the boy by the shoulder. "Go on with that, or I'll give you something you won't forget very soon I and he shook his fist in the French boy's face and then shoved him along. "Hello I I wonder what's the matter with that brute I cried Dave, when he saw this action. It's a shame to make a lad like that carry such a big bundle." And the poor little chap looks half starved, too," was Phil's comment. Come on I Let us look into this I cried Dave. No soldier has any right to treat a French boy like that I And he strode forward, never dreaming of the surprise in store for him.

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CHAPTER XVI A PERSONAL AFFAIR As DAVE and his chums strode forward they saw the soldier ahead of them give the gaunt looking French lad ar:.other shove. This caused the poor boy to lose his balance, and over he went in the roadway, falling on top of the big bundle he was carrying. "Hi, you bruiser, stop that I cried Dave, com ing up behind the soldier and catching him by the arm. Then, as, rather startled by the interrup #on, the fellow whirled around, he added in amazement: Nat Poole I " See here I what do you mean by grabbing me by the arm? demanded the son of the money lender of Crumville, as soon as he recovered from his astonishment. "Why, it's Nat Poole I" exclaimed Roger. Who would have thought of meeting him here? added Phil. You ought to be ashamed of yourself for treat ing a poor French boy like this, Nat," continued Dave, as he stepped forward and assisted the fallen boy to his feet. The fellow looked much 156

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A PERSONAL AFFAIR 157 frightened, thus confronted by four soldiers. Evidently he was afraid he had gotten himself into serious trouble. He did not understand what was being said. I guess I've got a right to hire a boy to carry a bundle for me," grumbled Nat. "Did you hire him?" demanded Dave. I don't know as that's any of your business," was the blustering response. Did he hire you to carry the package for him? questioned Dave of the boy in the best French he could command, which, it may be said here, was far from good. That soldier made me carry the bundle. He makes motions like he would beat me if I did not do it," answered the boy, with a shiver. "He won't touch you; so don't be afraid," said Dave, and then he looked calmly at Nat. "See here, Dave Porter I what right have you to come and butt into my private affairs? growled Nat. As a commissioned officer of the army I am bound to see to it that the inhabitants around here are properly treated," answered Dave. And if he said this rather sternly I think he may be pardoned for so doing. A commissioned officer? Humph, you're only a sergeant 1 I don't see how you got into that uniform."

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158 DAVE PORTER'S WAR HONORS Lieutenant Porter was made a lieutenant some time ago," said Phil. And you had better mind yourself, Nat, or you'll get into trouble." So they made you a lieutenant, did they? queried Nat; and it was easy to be seen that he was envious of Dave's promotion. Funny the luck some fellows have 1" While this talk was going on the boy had been edging farther and farther away from the Ameri cans. Now he suddenly took to his heels, run ning off as if for dear life. "Now see what you have done 1" grumbled Nat. I wanted that boy to carry this bundle into town for me." "What's the matter with carrying it yourself, Nat? suggested Roger. You are more able to do it than that poor half-starved kid." Humph 1 I wasn't brought up to lug bundles," grumbled the money lender's son. Is it your own? questioned Phil. No I It belongs to our captain. He de tailed me to take it into town for him." If he did, he must have done it as a punish ment for you," returned Dave quickly. He well knew that privates were often punished by their superiors for slight infringements of the regula tions by having disagreeable duties assigned to them. He himself had seen unlucky engineers set

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A PERSONAL AFFAIR 159 to work carrying bundles, cleaning up in camp, and even peeling potatoes and onions for weeks at a time. Never mind why I was carrying the bundle. I can't see that it's any of your business, even if you are a lieutenant." I won't argue the point, Nat; but in the future you take my advice and leave the poor French boys alone." Oh, say I you fellows make me tired," growled the money lender's son. And then, grabbing up the bundle which still lay in the roadway, he turned his back on the others and stalked off. "Say, Dave, I think you ought to report him," was Phil's comment. Oh, let it go, Phil," was the quick reply. If I, as a lieutenant, reported Nat, he would claim that it was nothing but a personal matter between us. I don't want to take advantage of my posi tion when it comes to dealing with somebody I have known for years. I would rather fight it out on my own hook, so to speak." "Oh, I understand your feelings, Dave -I'd feel that way myself." If you reported Nat he would make a great hullabaloo and say you were simply trying to show your authority," said Roger. "Just the same, I am glad we caught him and came to the rescue of

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100 DAVE PORTER'S WAR HONORS that boy. We want all of the inhabitants here to realize that we are their friends and intend to treat them with perfect fairness." The three chums soon reached the town, Nat Poole having gone in ahead of them. Dave made his purchases, and Roger and Phil got what they wanted, and then they walked around to see the sights. This town had been under bombardment several times, and while a portion of it was still in fairly good condition, many of the buildings had suffered, and at the end of one of the streets the demolition was complete. "Just think of having lived here while those bombardments were going on I" was Dave's com ment, as they paused in front of one of the build ings, a rear corner of which was still standing. It must make the French people heart-sick to come back and find their homes nothing but heaps of rubbish." And to think that the Germans carried off nearly everything of value," put in Phil. Never mind, Phil, some day we'll make them pay the whole bill," returned Dave. "The only thing we can't make good is the loss of life." They walked around for over an hour, for this was the first chance they had had to look over this particular town. During the winter at the front they had had an opportunity to go back to two other ruined places, but at that time the rums

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A PERSONAL AFFAIR 161 had been covered with a thick mantle of snow, so that they had seen comparatively little. Walking along one of the streets, which was still piled high with the debris of the last bom bardment, Dave and his chums had occasion to walk under what remained of a bridgeway run ning from one building across the road to another. It's queer that bridge wasn't knocked down by the bombardment," remarked Roger, as he sur veyed the ruin left on all sides. Some of these old stoneworks are remarkably substantial," returned Dave. "The engineers of those days certainly knew their business. Under ordinary circumstances a bridge like this will last for thousands of years." They came out on the other side of the bridge and here paused to look around again. Then, as Dave happened to glance upward, he gave a sudden cry of alarm: Look out there I As he spoke there came down on their heads a perfect shower of dirt, consisting mostly of pul verized lime and cement. Then, before they could move, another shower of the same stuff descended upon them. Great Cresar I do you suppose those buildings are going to fall? cried Phil. Some of the dust had got into his eyes, temporarily blinding him. "No, nothing is falling," answered Dave

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162 DAVE PORTER'S WAR HONORS quickly. That stuff came from the top of the bridgeway and was thrown down on us." "Hi there I Stop that I" yelled Roger, and then repeated his words in French. I saw somebody's arm, and that arm was dressed in khaki," said Dave quickly. I be lieve that stuff was thrown down by some of our soldiers. I am going up there to investigate. Come along." To get up on the bridgeway was not difficult. They had to pass into what was left of one of the houses and then make their way up a rather rick ety pair of stairs. Then they passed over a shaky floor and through a doorway leading to the bridge. As they did this, Dave, who was well in ad vance, caught sight of two figures in khaki those of a private and an officer. The two had been laughing boisterously, but now, as Dave and his chums came up on the bridge the others started away from them. But the far end of the bridge was blocked by the ruins of the building beyond, and the fleeing ones had to come to a halt. It's Nat Poole, just as I thought," said Dave to his chums. Who is that fellow with him? questioned Roger. "I'm not quite sure, Roger, but he looks like Gebauer."

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A PERSONAL AFFAIR So it is I I recognize him now. Well, what do you know about this I In another moment the two parties were confronting each other. Nat looked rather sullen, while Lieutenant Gebauer put on a front as if the affair did not concern him in the least. Of course the engineers saluted, and Gebauer did likewise. Nat, did you throw that stuff down on top of us?" demanded Dave. "I don't know what you are talking about," was the low reply. "Yes, you do," put in Roger quickly, and go ing forward he grabbed Nat by the arm. Roger Morr, you let me alone I howled the money lender's son, a trifle frightened. "This is Lieutenant Gebauer, I believe?" re marked Dave, a bit stiffly. You are right. And you are -? and here the lieutenant paused. "I am Lieutenant Porter. I think you ought to remember me." Oh, yes; I remember you now. You come from the same town that Poole does," said Ge bauer slowly. I suppose both of you thought it was a good joke to throw that dirt down on us? continued Dave, eying the other lieutenant squarely. Oh, soldiers have got to. have a little fun, you

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164 DAVE PORTER'S WAR HONORS know," said Gebauer coolly, and, taking a ciga rette from a case, he started to light it. It's no fun to throw lime dust around," growled Phil, who was still rubbing his eyes. "For two pins, Nat Poole, I'd give you the thrashing of your life." There will be no fighting done here I cried Lieutenant Gebauer sternly. Perhaps you had a hand in this, Lieutenant? said Dave quickly. Ha I do you accuse me, Porter? and the other officer drew himself up prouqly. I know there were two lots of that stuff came down on our heads. Did Poole throw both of them?" "No, I didn't I was the quick reply. "I I -" and then Nat stopped. "I don't see why you should make such a row over a little fun," remarked Gebauer, puffing away at his cigarette. It's dull enough around here. \Ve've got to stir things up a little " Well, after this when you stir things up, you keep away from me," said Dave coldly. Do you mean that as a threat, Porter? "I mean that as a warning." There was a moment's pause, and twice Lieu tenant Gebauer made a move as if to speak. But then he merely shrugged his shoulders and flipped the ashes from his cigarette.

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A PERSONAL AFFAIR 165 Life is too short to quarrel, Porter," he re marked finally. "Have it your own way." "I intend to have it my own way." Dave stepped a bit closer. I believe you know well enough, Lieutenant Gebauer, that I have a little personal account to settle with you. But that can wait Just the same, I want you and this cowardly young fellow here to understand that you have got to keep your distance. Otherwise there is going to be real trouble for both of you." See here I You you can't -er -threaten me like this I" stammered Gebauer, not knowing how to proceed. Come on, boys; I've had my say," said Dave to his chums, utterly ignoring the splutterings of Gebauer. Nat was mumbling something under his breath, but what it was, nobody understood. Then Dave and his friends left the bridge and the ruins around it and went on their way.

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CHAPTER XVII AT THE TRENCHES THE following week was such a busy one for Dave that Lieutenant Gebauer and Nat Poole were practically forgotten. The engineers were moved somewhat to the north of the position they had occupied, and were there set to work at their usual task of building roads and bridges. "One thing is certain," said Dave, one day when he and the others had knocked off for dinner. "Whatever ground our soldiers have they have managed to keep." "Oh, we don't know how to retreat," returned Phil, with a grin. I understand some new troops are coming to the front here," said Roger, who had just returned from the other end of the roadway they were con structing. I met a corporal I know slightly, and he was telling me about them." And he men tioned the number of the regiment. "Why, Roger, that's the command to which Nat Poole belongs I" cried Dave. Are you sure? " Yes; I took particular notice. And Gebauer 166

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AT THE TRENCHES belongs, too. In fact, he is a lieutenant of Nat's company." Well, I'm mighty sorry to hear that they are coming anywhere near us," was Phil's comment, and he looked thoughtfully at our hero as he spoke. "I am sorry, too, in one way," answered Dave promptly. "As soon as Nat Poole shows him self there is bound to be some sort of trouble." And what about that Lieutenant Gebauer? questioned Roger. I know well enough you've got it in for him, Dave." "If Dave has, it's because Gebauer deserves it," remarked Phil. "Oh, if he doesn't bother me I won't bother him," answered our hero. "Just the same, if I get a chance I'm going to let hirrt know I am aware of how he acted in Crumville, and that I don't give him any credit for causing Jessie trouble." The weather now was all that could be desired, and the work of building roads and bridges progressed rapidly. On some of the bridge work there was considerable planning to be done, and Dave had to spend a good many hours over some blueprints. But he had the satisfaction of ac complishing what he had set out to do, and re ceived some warm praise from Captain Obray. I knew it was in you, Porter," said the captain heartily. You are certainly a natural-born civil

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168 DAVE PORTER'S WAR HONORS engineer. I predict after this war is over that you'll make quite a hit with the Mentor Construc tion Company or some other big concern." During those days Dave sent several letters home and received one communication, this time from Caspar Potts. The old professor wrote in a very trembling hand, and the communication consisted of less than a dozen lines. But brief as it was, it went straight to our hero's heart. Dear old man I he murmured, after he had read the letter several times. If ever there was a good old soul in this world, that soul is Caspar Potts." And he closed his eyes for a moment as a vision passed through his mind of the white haired and trembling professor sitting in the Wadsworth library, adjusting his gold-rimmed spectacles to pore over one of his precious vol umes. The new troops to come to that vicinity arrived three days later while the engineers were hard at work. The company to which Nat Poole and Lieutenant Gebauer belonged were located in one of the second-line trenches, and immediately pro ceeded to make themselves as much at home as possible. Most of the soldiers took all the in conveniences good-naturedly, but the son of the money lender of Crumville did his usual share of grumbling. "It's a rotten place to stay in," was Nat's com-

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AT THE TRENCHES 169 ment. I don't see why they can't have the engi neers fix up some really good quarters for us fellows." He was speaking to Gebauer at the time. Al though Gebauer was a commissioned officer and Nat was only a private, the two, for some un known reason, were very friendly. They had many tastes in common, and always acted chummy when no one else was present. Well, don't blame me, Nat," replied the lieu tenant, bringing out his cigarette-case and supply ing himself. "Have a cigarette. Maybe that will help you forget your troubles," and he gave a sickly grin. I wonder how much longer this war is going to last." That remains to be found out. Personally, I think the Germans are going to give us the fight of our lives," continued Gebauer, in a somewhat lower voice. "Don't you think we can lick 'em?" demanded Nat. Lieutenant Gebauer shrugged his shoulders. I'm not doing any thinking along those lines. I'm simply obeying orders. I guess we both know what we think of this war, anyhow,'' and closing one eye he looked at Nat suggestively. "We sure do! It was a howling shame to drag us over here, three thousand miles from

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170 DAVE PORTER'S WAR HONORS home, to fight," grumbled the money lender's son. I Don't talk so loud, Nat," murmured the lieutenant warningly. If anybody heard you, you'd get into hot water." I don't care I It's true, isn't it?" "Every word. I'd rather be back home rig-ht now than here. I think I could make a barrel of money out of our business in spite of the war. And what am I getting out of this? A measly lieutenant's pay! " Humph I you get a pile more than I do as a common soldier." Nat looked at his companion slyly. "I guess you'd like it first rate to be back in Crum ville again with Jessie Wadsworth, wouldn't you?" Oh, I don't know. That would depend on how she treated me." You two didn't get along very well during the last few days of your stay, did you? "Oh, we got along well enough. But I've got to be going now. There is a whole lot I've got to do," continued the lieutenant hastily, and then walked away. I'll bet you got the cold shoulder somehow," murmured Nat, gazing after the retreating officer. "Just the same, I'm sorry you didn't get in with Jessie, and put a spoke in Dave Porter's wheel." Two days later one of the working units of the fighting engineers was sent back to do some work

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AT THE TRENCHES 171 on one of the trenches, part of which had caved in, blocking up the entrance to a dugout. Dave was in command of the men, and, as it happened, the dugout which had suffered was the one in which Gebauer and a number of other officers were quartered. Gebauer was in very ill humor, for his cot and some of his extra clothing had been covered with a shower of dirt and stones. "That was a fine way to build a dugout," he grumbled in Dave's hearing. If I couldn't do better than that as an engineer, I'd resign," and he looked directly at our hero. These trenches and dugouts were not made by our unit," returned Dave. "Just the same, I consider they were built as well as circumstances permitted. These are only temporary quarters, as you know. And such an accident as this is liable to happen any time. We'll cut down some saplings and limbs and shore this up, and fix some of the stonework, and then it will be as good as ever, or better." "Humph I maybe it will be," grumbled Ge bauer, and turned his back on the engineers. This was the beginning of new trouble with not only Gebauer, but Nat Poole also. Both of these unworthies showed plainly that they did not like Dave or his chums at all, and they did every thing they possibly could to annoy our hero. Of course, as a private, Nat was somewhat at a clis-

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172 DAVE PORTER'S WAR HONORS advantage, but Gebauer invariably tried to show his authority, especially when the higher officers were absent. He attempted to dictate to Dave, and this brought on a very animated discussion. "See here, Lieutenant Gebauer," said the young engineer finally, you tend to your business and I'll tend to mine. I know what my duty here is, and you have no authority to interfere with it." "Oh, you don't have to ride a high horse, Porter," growled Gebauer. I am not riding a high horse. If I were do ing that, I would probably tell you a few things that you would hate to hear." What about? demanded the other hotly. They had walked down one of the trenches and were out of hearing of the others. "Well, if you must know, about the way you made a fool of yourself in Crumville. I have had the particulars of how you acted, and I must say you played the part of anything but a gentle man " Do you mean to insult me ? "I am not going to try to do that, Gebauer. It would probably be too much of a job." Say, I guess you don't know who you are talk ing to I " I do know. And if you think you can intimi date me, you are mistaken." "My, but you are getting on your high horse I

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AT THE TRENCHES. 173 sneered Gebauer. "I must say you are showing your poorhouse training." "What's that? and now a sudden flash of fire came into Dave's eyes and he caught the other lieutenant by the arm. You let go of me, Porter I and Gebauer shrank back in sudden alarm. I won't let any one talk to me like that," said Dave, firmly. At that moment came an unexpected interrup tion. There was a call from above the trench, and several officers appeared, including the major of the command to which Gebauer belonged. Those below at once saluted, and there the sudden quarrel came to just as rapid a termination. But Gebauer glared bitterly at our hero as the latter took his departure. This meeting upset Dave for the rest of the day so much so that he could hardly attend to his duties. Phil and Roger, as well as Ben, no ticed this, and during their time off in the evening he told his chums of what had occurred. Gee, Dave, it's a wonder you didn't smash him in the face when he talked to you like that I cried Ben. I felt like doing it, Ben; and it was all I could do to control myself," returned our hero. But you know what the regulations are about fighting, especially here at the front."

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174 DAVE PORTER'S WAR HONORS "Just the same, this Gebauer ought to be taught a lesson," was Phil's comment. I don't see why they made such a fellow as that a lieutenant," came from Roger. "It's a shame, with so many good men around I "I don't think Gebauer will get much higher in the army," said Dave. "If he treats the men under him as he has treated us, sooner or later they will all hate him." "Do you know, he looks to me as if he might be sort of pro-German," remarked Ben thoughtfully. "Well, one thing is sure-" began Dave, when a sudden alarm broke out which ended the talk right then and there. The alarm was followed by a sudden burst of artillery, which soon increased in intensity, while the night was lit up by the flare of rockets and flaming onions," as they were called. I wonder what that means I cried Shadow, as he came running up to the others. I think it means some sort of a fight," an swered Dave. "But whether we are going to attack or the Germans, remains to be seen."

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CHAPTER XVIII THE GERMAN PRISONER THERE was fighting that night all along the line, but nothing in the way of a battle developed and the engineers did not participate in the con test any further than that they were called on to repair some bridges along the roadway where the shell-fire of the enemy made several telling hits. The Huns are certainly showing some strong resistance to our advance," remarked Roger, while the bombardment was going on. Oh, I shouldn't be surprised if they contested every foot of the ground," returned Dave. They thought they were going to walk right into Paris, and it makes them more than mad to be driven back this way." One thing is certain," said Phil. These old Hindenburg trenches are marvels of complete ness." I heard of one German dugout that was fitted out like a first-class hotel, with a bath and even a billiard-table I Those high muck-a-mucks cer tainly take care of themselves." 175

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176 DAVE PORTER'S WAR HONORS Yes, and they take mighty good care that they are not hit, too I 11 added Ben. They let their common soldiers take all the hard knocks. You very seldom hear of anybody connected with the royal families getting even a scratch." Early in the morning there was a sortie on the part of one of the American battalions. They had located some Germans hidden in a patch of wood, and after some fierce fighting succeeded in surrounding a part of the enemy and making them prisoners. A little later these fellows, to the num ber of thirty, with a lieutenant and a sergeant, were marched to the American rear. At the time the prisoners were brought in, Dave and his detail were at work on the roadway which the prisoners and those in charge of them used. Along this roadway was also stationed the com pany of soldiers to which Lieutenant Gebauer and Nat Poole belonged. As Dave went about his duties he passed Ge bauer and Nat several times. Both of them glared at him, but no words passed. However, five min utes later Dave saw Nat approach the lieutenant, and an earnest conversation followed. Both looked several times toward our hero, and Dave felt certain that the pair were talking about him. "And it's dollars to doughnuts they are not say ing anything very nice, 11 mused our hero. Prob ably they are plotting as to what can do to get

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THE GERMAN PRISONER 177 the better of me. I suppose I had better keep my eyes open as long as they are around." A little later he had occasion to give Phil and Ben some directions, and the latter called Dave to one side. I suppose you've noticed that Nat Poole and Lieutenant Gebauer are around? " Yes indeed! I have passed them several times, Ben." I went by them, too, and I heard your name mentioned. I believe they are hatching up some thing." If I were you I wouldn't stand any nonsense from either of them," put in Phil. I don't intend to I " Don't you think you had better report them? " No; I intend to fight this out alone. Of course, if they do anything that is too outrageous, I'll have to mention it to those higher up." A few minutes later it was announced that the German prisoners were coming, and, as was cus tomary, all the Americans in that vicinity lined the roadway to get a look at those who had been cap tured. For the most part the prisoners appeared a silent and thoughtful crowd. A few of them were decidedly sullen, as if ready to break out at any moment, and these the guards watched closely, for it was remembered that on one occasion a prisoner

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178 DAVE PORTER'S WAR HONORS had suddenly gone violently insane, killing one of his captors and then inflicting injury on himself from which he had later died. On another occa sion several prisoners had made a wild dash for liberty but had been shot down before they could get any great distance. When the prisoners came up close to where Dave and his chums were standing, the officer in charge for some reason or other called a tem porary halt. Then began a good-natured gibing between the soldiers on both sides, a few of the Americans being able to talk German and one or two of the prisoners answering in broken English. Dave was looking over the brought-in men and noting how starved and ill-clad they were when he became interested in one man who was gazing with wide-open eyes at the Americans. Follow ing this man's gaze, Dave saw that the prisoner was looking intently at Lieutenant Gebauer. Gebauer I Max Gebauer I What are you doing here? called out the German in his gut tural language. At the mention of his name Lieutenant Gebauer gazed at the prisoner, and Dave felt certain that he started as he did so. Then, with swift steps, Gebauer came to the prisoner's side. There was a low exchange of words which Dave could not catch, even had he known the German language better than was the case. Gebauer looked much

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THE GERMAN PRISONER 179 annoyed, while the prisoner's features betrayed great astonishment. A short argument ensued, but in the midst of this the American lieutenant suddenly put up his hand and motioned for the prisoner to keep quiet. Then, as he stepped back, he made other motions as if to draw a wallet from his pocket and count out imaginary bank-notes. Then he placed a finger across his lips, turned and walked away. Roger, Phil, and Ben, as well as Dave, saw all of these actions, and were of course tremendously interested. They realized at once that Gebauer and the German prisoner were well acquainted. It's as plain as day that Gebauer wants that fellow to keep his mouth shut about something," remarked Phil, when the prisoners had resumed their march to the rear. Yes. And it's equally plain that he proposes to pay the fellow for doing it," returned Dave. What do you suppose it is all about? came, with a puzzled look, from Ben. "I'm sure I don't know," answered the young lieutenant. I wonder if it's possible that Gebauer is some sort of a spy and that soldier knows it,'' mused Roger. Anything is possible, Roger. But that fel low may be nothing more than some business ac quaintance. More than likely the Gebauer Jew-

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18o DA VE PORTER'S WAR HONORS elry Company had a connection in Germany previ ous to the war -a great many of those German American firms had. That fellow may be noth ing but a business friend." But why would he make a motion as if to pay him money and motion to him to keep his mouth shut? questioned Phil. Maybe Gebauer doesn't want folks generally to know he had a German connection," said Ben. Don't you think this ought to be reported? questioned Roger. "I'll speak to Captain Obray about it," an swered Dave. And then I am going to see if I can't get a chance to talk to that German pris oner." Can you talk enough German to do it, Dave?" I can get an interpreter." Our hero lost no time in mentioning what he had seen to Captain Obray, and that afternoon obtained permission to visit the place where the German prisoners were being kept that night. This was in a barbed-wire compound hastily laid out for that purpose by some of the engineers. Dave had taken a good look at the German who had spoken to Max Gebauer, and he had little trouble in picking the fellow out from the one hundred and twenty men who filled the wire enclosure. He took Roger with him, and also

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THE GERMAN PRISONER 181 one of the engineers who could speak fairly good German. He found the prisoner to be a man of about forty, tall and thin, with light hair and watery blue eyes. When questioned he gave his name as August Besswig, and said that he had been a book keeper for a large manufacturing firm in Frankfort. Ask him how it is that he happens to know a man by the name of Max Gebauer," said Dave to the interpreter. When this question was put to the prisoner he looked rather disturbed and then shrugged his shoulders. Max Gebauer? Who is he? he returned after a pause. He is the man you were speaking to on your way to this camp," said the interpreter, after some words with Dave. "Oh, that man l I don't know him very well." How do you happen to know him at all? was the next question put. Well, it's this way, if you must know. Some years ago I worked for a large jewelry firm in Germany. We did business with the Gebauer firm in America. That is how I got to know Mr. Max Gebauer. He used to come to our place once a year or so on business." Did he come after the war broke out?

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182 DAVE PORTER'S WAR HONORS He was there when that happened, but he got out very quickly," answered August Besswig. After that he was questioned at some length regarding Gebauer, but made evasive answers. It was evident that he knew something about Gebauer which he did not wish to mention, but what it was there was no telling. At last Dave had the interpreter bring the interview to an end. "That German prisoner is a foxy one," was Roger's comment. "I believe he could tell a great deal if he wanted to." "That's exactly my idea, too," answered Dave. One thing is certain, he and Gebauer have some thing in common." Exactly, Dave. And the next question is -has that to do with the present or the past? "Oh, I'm inclined to think it has something to do with the past," replied Dave. "From what I can find out, this Besswig is nothing but a private soldier who was forced into the army. That being so, it is not likely that he would have anything to do with Gebauer if the latter were up to some shady work for the Government. I think it concerns something that took place in the past, and it looks to me as if it was something which Gebauer wants this Besswig to keep quiet about." Dave thought he might have another interview with the prisoner later; but on the following day August Besswig was marched off to a camp twenty

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THE GERMAN PRISONER 183 miles distant and he had no opportunity for further talk with the fellow. He tried to keep an eye on Gebauer, but his duties as an engineer prevented this, and consequently he did not know an important fact, which was that two days later Gebauer got a twenty-four-hours leave of absence and hurried off to find out what had become of August Besswig and to go to see the prisoner. When Gebauer came back to camp he was in both a thoughtful and an ugly mood. He smoked one cigarette after another in a nervous manner, and then interviewed N i:.t Poole. Your friend Porter seems to be a pretty fresh sort of individual," grumbled the lieutenant, as he paced up and down in front of Nat. "Don't call him a friend of mine, Max," was the quick reply of the money lender's son. I like him about as much as I like a hop-toad." He's doing his best to get me into trouble," continued Gebauer. Why, what has he done now? questioned Nat, with sudden interest. Oh, a whole lot of things. Do you remember those prisoners that came in a few days ago?" Yes." Well, I happen to know one of those fellows very slightly -a fell ow who was connected with a jewelry concern in Germany with which our concern in Philadelphia used to do a little business.

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184 DAVE PORTER'S WAR HONORS "Well, Porter saw me say a few words in a friendly way to that fellow, and he at once had the prisoner interviewed and did his best to make out that I had some sort of a German connection. Of course, he's doing his best to get me in Dutch with the military authorities I stormed the lieu tenant. "Well, he didn't find out anything to your dis advantage, did he? questioned Nat. "Of course not I How could he? I haven't done anything wrong I "Well, then, what are you afraid of? "What am I afraid of? Don't I know the kind of fellow Dave Porter is? He wouldn't like anything better than to cook something up with that prisoner so as to get me in bad. I know him I I've a good mind to fix him I "Let's do it!" Nat's eyes began to shine with expectancy. I'd like nothing better than put one over on him. He's getting altogether too big for his boots. Now that he is a lieutenant, he thinks he can lord it over everybody. I suppose when he gets back to Crumville he'll put on airs something fierce. According to the stories he'll tell, he'll have been the one to win the whole war." After this the two continued their conversation for the best part of an hour. Both were exceed ingly bitter against Dave, Nat on account of the

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THE GERMAN PRISONER 185 many things which had happened ever since he had gone to Oak Hall, and Gebauer because of the way he had been given the cold shoulder by Jessie Wadsworth. If you are game to do it, Nat, I think we can put a good big one over on Porter," said Gebauer at last. Of course, it will require a little nerve to do it." What do you propose to do? " Oh, that isn't exactly clear in my mind yet. But I'll hatch out something before long. But how about you? Are you willing to stand by me?" "Sure I am I Unless, of course, you should want to go too far," answered Nat Poole, his natural cowardice suddenly asserting itself. Oh, we won't go too far. We'll only do something that will get him in bad with those higher up. Then maybe he'll be placed in dis grace, and possibly reduced to the ranks." Gee, that sounds good to me I cried Nat. "Let's go and do it I "Then you'll work with me?" I sure will I And the sooner you get at it, the better."

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CHAPTER XIX AT THE BROOK THE great World War which had now raged so furiously for four years was rapidly approach ing its climax. The Germans had been driven from the vicinity of Paris, they had suffered their great defeats on the Marne and at Verdun at the hands of the entente Allies, and now the American troops had beaten them back at Chateau Thierry and other points, while the Italians were hammering the Austrians mercilessly in the moun tains of upper Italy. In the meanwhile there had been naval battles in the North Sea and the Mediterranean, and the extraordinary submarine campaign of the Ger mans had proved to be more or less a failure. Our soldiers were coming over the Atlantic as fast as our transports could carry them, and what was equally important, we were sending immense quantities of food, ammunition and other supplies to those who were fighting this tremendous war with us. With the Americans and their Allies thus push-186

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AT THE BROOK ing the Germans back at every available oppor tunity, there was plenty of work for the engineers. More than once Dave and those under him found themselves working ten and twelve and even four teen hours on a stretch, and doing this in places which were as dangerous as they were uncomfort able. More than once they were out when it was raining furiously, and on two occasions after an early breakfast they got nothing more to eat until nightfall. If anybody thinks being an army engineer is a cinch, he's got another guess coming to him," remarked Ben one evening, after an extra hard day's labor. "You never said a truer thing that that, Ben," returned Phil. Gosh I how my back does ache I "I know what I'm going to do," put in Roger. I'm going bathing. There is nothing that re freshes me half so much as a bath after a hard day's work." I think I'll go with you," said Dave. I saw a dandy spot to-day, while we were fixing that bridge." "And that's just the place I had in mind," said the senator's son. When there was a favorable opportunity the engineers often took a little time off to go bathing in one of the rivers or brooks that was handy,

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188 DAVE PORTER'S WAR HONORS taking care, of course, to select only a place where the water was clean and pure -not an easy thing to do in a locality where so many dead bodies of soldiers were to be found. Dave and all of his chums from Oak Hall formed the party which went bathing. They had found a tributary to one of the larger streams, and this was fed mostly by springs. The water was consequently quite cold, but was absolutely pure, and for this they were thankful. They lost no time in disrobing, and then one after another plunged in. I'm going up the stream a way and do a bit of exploring," said Ben presently, and sloshed along through the water and over the rocks. And presently one after another followed until only Dave was left behind. He was more inter ested in getting a good bath than in doing any exploring, and, sitting down on a rock in the water, he proceeded to make himself just as much at home as though he was in one of the bathtubs at the Wadsworth mansion. Although Dave did not know it, the departure of the Oak Hall chums for the bathing-place had been noticed by Nat Poole, who chanced along at that particular time. Walking through the brushwood, Nat presently approached the place where the young engineers had gone in bathing. Gee, I guess here is a chance to play a good

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AT THE BROOK trick on those fellows," observed the money lender's son, with a sickly grin. Not far from where Nat was standing rested Dave's uniform and his other garments. Watch ing his opportunity, when Dave was not looking in that direction, Nat leaped forth from behind the bushes and gathered up the things in his arms. The rascal might have escaped undetected had it not been for a mishap which overtook him when he least expected it. With the uniform and other things piled high in his arms he could not see where he was stepping, and suddenly one foot went down in a crevice between the rocks, and he pitched headlong. The noise Nat made was not great, but it was sufficient to attract Dave's attention, and looking in that direction he saw in an instant what was occurrmg. Hi, you l Drop those things l he cried, and then, leaping up, he made a dash for the bank of the stream. Much startled, Nat Poole arose to his feet. He had now no longer any desire to take the garments, his one thought being to get away with out being recognized. So far Dave had not seen his face and now he did what he could to hide his features. But the young lieutenant did not intend to al low the would-be joker to escape thus easily.

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190 DAVE PORTER'S WAR HONORS Thinking it might be somebody from his own command, he leaped quickly over the rocks and caught Nat by the arm just as the latter was try ing to worm his way into the bushes. Nat Poole I he ejaculated, as he brought the soldier around with a twist of the arm. So this is what you are up to, eh? "Aw I it was only a joke," pleaded the money lender's son. You were going to run away with my uniform and all the rest of my! things I " Didn't I say it was only a joke? Can't you take a little fun, Dave Porter?" I don't like that kind of fun, Nat Poole I I would have cut a fine spectacle if you had gotten away with my clothing. You just come along and explain yourself;" and thus speaking, Dave dragged the unwilling soldier out from the bushes and down to the side of the stream. Then he let out a low but well-known whistle, to which his chums immediately responded, that having been the get-together call at Oak Hall. Hello, it's Nat Poole I cried Phil. "What are you doing here, Nat?" questioned Roger. I just caught him trying to steal my things," explained Dave. I wasn't going to steal 'em I stormed Nat. "I was just going to hide 'em behind the bushes."

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AT THE BROOK 191 "He'd have gotten away with them if he hadn't stumbled," continued our hero. I heard the noise, and I was just in time to grab him." He ought to be reported for that," said Ben. "Humph l that's just like you fellows report a fellow just for having a bit of fun." I don't think I'll take the trouble to report you, Nat," answered Dave coolly. It isn't worth it. But after this, I want you to keep your distance. If you don't, you'll get something that you won't like." And having thus delivered him self, Dave gave Nat Poole a vigorous shake and then gave him such a shove that he stumbled back ward several steps and then went flat on his back in some low brushwood. Such vigorous treatment aroused all of Nat Poole's ire, and scrambling to his feet he rushed toward Dave. "You're not going to treat me that way I" he bawled. "I won't stand it I And then he shoved his fist under our hero's nose. This was too much for Dave to stand, and dis robed as he was, he leaped at the money lender's son, knocking the fist to one side and then deliver ing a stinging blow which took Nat squarely in the chin, causing him to stagger back several paces. Now you go on about your business, Nat Poole I he said sternly. And you remember what I told you I

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192 DAVE PORTER'S WAR HONORS "You just wait, Dave Porter! I'll fix you yet I "Nat, shut ur. and do what Dave told you," put in Roger. You are the meanest pill that ever came out of a box. Go on I and he waved his hand threateningly. You are a disgrace to the uniform you are wearing," added Phil. Oh, sure! There is no use of my talking, with all of you against me I grumbled Nat. "Just the same, I'll get square some day, you mark my words!" And having thus delivered himself, Nat Poole slunk away and was soon lost to sight in the brushwood. "How I would like to have a fellow like that for a brother," remarked Shadow sarcastically. His father must be proud of him," was Bus ter's comment. "He and his father are two of a kind," ex plained Ben. At the start of the war they were both slackers. The only member of the family that is worth while is Mrs. Poole. She has done a lot for the Red Cross and other war organiza tions, and I am mighty sorry that she has to put up with such folks as Nat and Mr. Poole." "You'll have to keep your eyes open, Dave," observed Phil. Nat will do his best to square accounts, and he'll probably get Gebauer to aid him."

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AT THE BROOK 193 "It's a pity Nat doesn't try to make something of himself while he is in the army," observed Dave. "He has just as good a chance as any of us." It isn't in him," said Buster. You can't build a marble palace out of mud." Oh, say I Speaking of mud, puts me in mind of a story I heard yesterday," cried Shadow. Three Americans were in the end of a trench, and they were completely surrounded by Germans. They were out of ammunition and didn't know what to do. The trench was full of mud and water, and as the Germans came down to make them prisoners the three Americans grabbed up some buckets which were handy, filled them with mud and water, and let the Germans have the dose full in the face. Then they leaped out and ran for their lives. One of them was killed, but the other two got away." "They certainly took chances," answered Dave; but that's the American style." Making his way through the brushwood, Nat Poole presently came out on the forest road, and then lost no time in hurrying back to camp. He was in anything but a good humor, and his face showed it. Well, Nat, why the thunder-cloud look? queried Lieutenant Gebauer, when he saw his crony.

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194 DAVE PORTER'S WAR HONORS Oh, I had another run-in with that Dave Porter," growled the money lender's son. "Say, that fellow makes me tired all over 1 "I don't think he makes you any more tired than he does me," said the lieutenant, bringing out his ever-present cigarette-case and lighting up. I thought you were going to think out some thing by which we could get square with him? continued Nat. "I know what I'd like to do 1" "What?" "I'd like to disgrace him I And say, Max, if we could get him disgraced maybe Jessie Wadsworth wouldn't have anything more to do with him, and that would give you a chance." To this the lieutenant did not reply at once. He blew a ring of smoke into the air, took another puff, and threw the cigarette on the ground. I might as well tell you," he said finally. I've been watching Porter every opportunity I get. Sooner or later our chance will come. When it does, I want you to be ready to act with me." I told you before that I would do that." I happened to hear some conversation yester day that put me to thinking," pursued Lieutenant Gebauer. The engineers are going to move in a day or two. They are going to lay out a road in the vicinity of some abandoned coal or iron mines. I rather think they'll have their head-

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AT THE BROOK 195 quarters in the mines, just as the Germans were quartered there when they were in that vicinity." Well, what if they do go to those mines? questioned Nat. I think it's a pretty lonely sort of region around those mines," returned Gebauer. "And that be ing so, we may have more of a chance to get at Porter. If he went off to explore any of the mines -or anything like that -we might get a chance to follow him. Anyway, I am going to keep my eyes wide open at every opportunity. And I want you to do the same. We'll never catch him unless we watch him like a cat watches a mouse." Gee, if only we could get the best of him sighed Nat. "I've wanted to do it ever since we went to boarding school together." The time will come, don't worry. Sooner or later, Nat, we'll get Dave Porter just where we want him. And when that time comes well, he had better look out for himself, that's all I concluded Lieutenant Gebauer.

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CHAPTER XX ATTACKED IN THE DARK THESE old mines must have been worked for all they were worth." "That's the way it looks to me, Roger. And yet I've no doubt that with up-to-date mining methods they might get a good deal more out of these places." "Oh, I know that, Dave. Modern mining machinery has accomplished wonders for the mines in the United States." About a week had passed since Dave had had the quarrel with Nat Poole at the brook, and during that time the engineers had been moved forward to the vicinity of the abandoned mines mentioned by Lieutenant Gebauer. Here they were busy repairing the roads which had once been used by the Germans and left by them in a most deplorable condition. Trees and huge masses of rocks blocked the way and great masses of abandoned wire entanglements had been strung around wherever it was thought they would impede the progress of the Americans. It was bad enough to get rid of the rocks and Ig6

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ATTACKED IN THE DARK 191, the trees, but it was even worse to dispose of the wire. Much of this was rusty, and they had to be very careful how they handled the stuff for fear of being scratched and getting their clothing torn to ribbons. Even as it was, the most substantial of the uniforms worn by the engineers did not last very long, and had to be replaced. The abandoned mines were spread over a large area, and because of the war were in such condi tion that only a small portion of the various pas sageways were used by the Americans. The engi neers had their quarters in one long passageway, which some one had named The Subway, while some of the infantry were quartered not a long distance off in what was known as The Tube. These quarters were, as the chums had agreed, perfectly safe from bombardment by the enemy. But they were rather damp and chilly, and were invaded by hordes of mine rats with which the troops had constant battles. "My gracious I I don't know but that the rats are just about as bad as the cooties," cried Phil, one day after one of the rodents had run over him while he was trying to take a nap. Don't say a word about the cooties I Ben returned, scratching his back_on one of the upright posts in the mine. I never thought I was going to be subject to anything like this when I joined the army."

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198 DAVE PORTER'S WAR HONORS Oh, forget it and look pleasant I cried Dave, who sat on a box mending a shirt by the light of a candle. He, too, had had his dose of these little pests, which seemed to have descended upon all the armies like a plague. Two things were in the engineers' favor the Germans seemed to have withdrawn from that vicinity and the weather remained unusually fine. At night there was a full moon which bathed the country for miles around in beauty. Dave had put in a hard day's work, and in addi tion had been asked to go on an errand by Captain Obray, who had left an important notebook at one of the headquarters he had visited. This notebook the young lieutenant was now carrying in one of his pockets. "If it wasn't for those guns banging away in the distance one would never know a war was on by looking at such a scene as this," remarked Dave, on this evening, as he walked toward the mine entrance with Roger and some of the others. "It certainly is beautiful," was the reply of the senator's son. "Almost too nice to retire. Wish we were at Crumville with the girls." I think I'll stay out a while," went on Dave. I've got nothing particular to do. Do you want to take a little walk with me? " I've promised myself to write a letter to my folks, Dave."

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ATTACKED IN THE DARK 199 "And I'm going to write a letter, too," added Phil. Belle complained the last time that my letter was very short. This time I'll make it long enough, believe me I " I wrote two letters yesterday; so I think I'll take a little walk," said Dave. I'll be back in an hour or so." His chums retired into one of the openings of the abandoned mine, and Dave turned to walk along a trail which led through the woods. Here at one point between a number of rocks, he had located a spring of pure water and he thought to get a drink. The moonlight filtering through the trees made many objects appear rather ghostly, but, as my old readers know, Dave was not one to scare easily, and he walked onward at a brisk pace. Of course he kept his eyes and ears wide open, for he had no desire to be surprised. He did not carry a gun, for in that vicinity there seemed to be no use for firearms. Although he knew nothing of what had been plotted by Max Gebauer and Nat Poole, Dave, since coming to the abandoned mines, had been constantly watched by those two unworthies. Now Gebauer noted with great satisfaction that Dave was taking a walk by himself in the semi darkness. He at once sped away to notify his crony.

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200 DAVE PORTER'S WAR HONORS Come on, Nat I Now is our chance," he said in a low voice. What do you mean? "Dave Porter is taking a walk by himself in the woods." "What do you propose to do?" Let us follow him. Maybe we'll get a chance to square accounts "I don't see what we can do if he is just walk ing in the woods," said Nat. "Of course, we could both jump on him and give him a good beating." Something may develop. Come on before he gets out of sight." Nat was willing, and side by side the pair hur ried off in the direction our hero had taken. Reaching the spring, Dave procured a drink of water, refilled his canteen, and then proceeded on his way. The road led up to the top of a small hill, and here he thought he might get a good view of the surrounding country in the moonlight. While on the way Dave paused once or twice to look around him. When he did this Gebauer and Nat lost no time in dropping flat on the ground just as if they were making a night sortie into No Man's Land. As a consequence, our hero did not become aware that he was being followed. When Dave reached what he thought was the top of the hill he was rather surprised to find

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ATTACKED IN THE DARK 201 himself among some rather rough rocks and a large quantity of loose stones and dirt. Then he made a discovery, which filled him with wonder. A of nest-holes for artillery had been con structed on the top of the hill, evidently by the Germans. But there were no evidences of field pieces having been used there, so Dave came to the conclusion that the enemy had changed their plans after the nests had been made. There were eight of the openings, and having walked to the last of them the young engineer made another discovery. Here there was a wide trench running downward into a cave-like open ing. What was beyond, he could only surmise. It looks to me as if that slope leads down into some part of the abandoned mines," he told himself. This is worth investigating. I'll have to report to the captain and we'll have to see what it looks like in the daytime." In the moonlight the opening underground looked quite forbidding, and Dave did not venture very far into it. He did, however, examine the ground as closely as possible to see if he could find any recent footprints. But nothing of the sort came to light. Evidently no one had been in that vicinity since the last rain, which had oc curred more than a week before. As our hero was bending over to m ake sure that there were no traces of footsteps around this

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202 DAVE PORTER'S WAR HONORS entrance to the abandoned mines, the notebook which Captain Obray had entrusted to him slipped from his pocket, falling between some of the loose rocks. Hello I it won't do for me to lose that note book," Dave told himself. "I should have de livered it before I went on this walk." Dave had just straightened up with the note book in his hand when he suddenly became aware of two figures close behind him. Each was armed with a heavy stick, and before he could make a move to def end himself he received a stinging blow on the head. He gave a cry of pain, and then two other blows descended upon him and he knew no more. Having assaulted him in such a dastardly fash ion, Gebauer and Nat stood over their victim for several seconds expecting him to make some sort of move. But as he did not, the youth from Crumville became alarmed. Gee I you don't suppose we knocked him out, do you? he whispered hoarsely. Certainly not," answered Gebauer coolly. He's partly senseless, that's all. He'll come around presently." "That was an awful crack you gave him on the head I "I didn't hit him any harder than you did, Nat."

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ATTACKED IN THE DARK 203 "You did so! I only gave him a slight tap, and you hit him hard twice." See here I You can't put this off on me," said the lieutenant fiercely. "Just the same, I don't think he's hurt very much : He bent over and took a look at Dave. "He's breathing all right." Well, I'm glad of that I returned the money lender's son, with a sigh of relief. While he was speaking Lieutenant Gebauer had picked up the notebook which had again fallen between the rocks, and placed it in his pocket. "What's that?" demanded Nat. "I don't know. I'll have to examine it when we get to the light. Here, Nat, take hold of him." "What are you going to do." "Let us place him in that opening yonder. There is no use of leaving hini out here in the open." But he might drop down into the mine if we: place him too near one of the shafts," strated Nat. He was beginning to get a little frightened over what had been done. What do we care if he does drop down? answered the other brutally. Come on, before he comes to his senses." "I don't want to go too far into this," whined Nat. He was feeling more and more uncomfort able. You promised to see it through, and you've

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204 DAVE PORTER'S WAR HONORS got to do it," declared Lieutenant Gebauer. Come I Catch hold I Between them they carried Dave into the cave like opening. Then, as Nat retreated, fearing that our hero would recover consciousness and recognize him, Gebauer lit a match and took a survey of the situation. Only a few feet away was a slope leading down to unknown depths. The fell ow who had tried to become Dave's rival in the affections of Jessie Wadsworth hesitated for an instant and then pushed our hero's body toward this slope. Then he gave it another shove, and suddenly saw the body go turning over and over down the slope and out of sight into the darkness. There, I guess that will fix you, Dave Porter! he muttered to himself. You'll have one sweet job getting out of that hole. I hope it takes you several days to do it. And if it does, I think it will be an easy matter to spread a report that you ran away simply to have a good time in one of the French towns behind us."

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CHAPTER XXI IN THE ABANDONED MINES "WHERE in the world am I and what hap pened to me? This was the first thought that coursed slowly through Dave's mind as he gradually returned to consciousness. He lay perfectly still, not moving for several minutes All was pitch dark around him, and by the way his whole body hurt he knew he had been tumbled over some rocks. He put his hand to his head and found quite a swelling there. Then his fingers traveled to his left temple and felt some thing sticky, which he knew was blood that had started to congeal. Presently a faint recollection of what had oc curred crossed his mind. He remembered stooping to pick up the notebook belonging to Captain Obray and then catching a flitting glimpse of two figures behind him. Then had fallen several blows upon his head, and he had gone down in a heap. Maybe they were a couple of Germans who attacked me," he reasoned. "Perhaps I am their prisoner."

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2o6 DAVE PORTER'S WAR HONORS But then he remembered something else, which was that even in that passing glimpse of his assail ants he had noted that they wore khaki and not the grey of the enemy. "They were two of our own fellows," he told himself. He knew he had no enemies among the engineers, and his mind at once reverted to Lieu tenant Gebauer and Nat Poole. Would they be mean enough to make such an attack? 11 It doesn't seem possible I And yet, if they didn't do it, who did? was our hero's thought. But now was no time for further speculation on the subject Dave felt that he must find out where he was and do what he could to get back to the engineers' quarters. He did not know how long he had been unconscious, but thought it must have been for some time, possibly an hour or two. He lay on some sloping rocks, and it was not without considerable difficulty that he arose to his feet. As he did this he felt in his pocket for Captain Obray's notebook and discovered that it was gone. 11 I remember now I didn't have time to pick it up," he told himself. Hang the luck, any way l If those fellows went off with that note book, what will the captain say? He told me it was very valuable. I suppose it must have some of our specifications in it." Dave had brought neither a weapon nor a

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IN THE ABANDONED MINES 207 pocket flashlight with him. He, however, had a waterproof match-safe, and this was about half full of matches. Bringing one of these forth, he struck it on the rocks with care, and then, as the small light flared up, he took a look at his sur roundings. He was in a long, low passageway of the aban doned mines. To one side of him was a V-shaped opening. One passageway of this opening was very rocky and at one point had a sudden descent of ten or twelve feet. The other passageway sloped upward at considerable less of an angle. I guess I must have come down that passage way on the right," he reasoned, "because if I had come down the other way more than likely I would have broken my neck." Dave was mistaken in his reasoning, and that mistake cost him dear, as we shall presently see. He had really come down the rougher way of the two, and that he had not lost his life in the fall was certainly miraculous. The young lieutenant counted his matches and found he had seven left. "I'll have to be very careful of those," he told himself. "It would be awful to be lost down here in the dark. Why, if that happened I might never find my way out I This possibility caused him to become very grave and thoughtful, and without lighting an-

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.208 DAVE PORTER'S WAR HONORS other match he crawled upward along the passage way which he had noted and which he thought must be the way by which to get out of that part of the abandoned mines. With nothing to guide him, our hero's progress was necessarily slow. He had to feel ahead every foot for fear of knocking his head on some of the rocks. But even though his matches were few, Dave would have done better had he lit one of them and surveyed his surroundings again before proceed ing further. As it was, he was just thinking of coming to a halt to make up his mind what was best to do next when suddenly his foot came in contact with nothing more substantial than air. He made a wild clutch to save himself, but the next instant slid down and down over some rocks and loose dirt, coming finally to a halt with a shock that knocked nearly all the breath from his body. Great Cresar, that was some tumble 1 he muttered, after he had somewhat recovered. I've got to make a light, and that is all there is to it. If I don't, I may break my neck down here." In his pocket Dave kept a packet of letters which he had received from Jessie. He could not bring himself to think of burning the letters, but took each out of its envelope and stowed them safely in his bosom once more. T:1en he tore

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IN THE ABANDONED MINES 209 the envelopes apart, and made of each a long, curled taper. Having done this, he lit one. He discovered what had happened. At some time or other, probably while the mines were in operation, a shaft had been cut from one gal lery to that at a lower depth. This shaft was a sloping one, and he had rolled down to its bottom. To get back to the upper level did not look easy, and after Dave had tried it several times he looked about for some other means of getting out of the abandoned mines. Presently our hero reached a point which filled him with encouragement. He came out upon a much larger passageway, and there saw the remains of a small railroad track, one which had evidently been used for mine cars. "This track must lead out into the open air," he reasoned. I remember seeing one of the tracks around the mines the first day we came to this vicinity." Alongside of the track Dave found some bits of wood and dried brush, and he lost no time in fixing himself a sort of torch by tying some of the brush to a stick with a bit of string he chanced to be carrying in his pocket. Armed with the torch, he set off along the mine track and followed this for a considerable dis tance. Then he came to where the track branched in two directions, and once more came to a halt.

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210 DAVE PORTER'S WAR HONORS Which track to pursue he did not know, and con sulting his pocket compass did not help him in solving the problem. Finally he concluded to fol low the track on the right, and so continued his journey underground. He had gone but a short distance when he came upon a decidedly gruesome object. This was the body of a dead German soldier huddled up in a heap among the rocks. The fellow had been dead for some time, probably weeks, if not months, and our hero lost no time in putting distance between himself and this awful reminder of the realities of war. At last he felt he ought to be near one of the openings of the abandoned mines. The track was now much broken, and a short distance fur ther came to an end at a point where several other galleries crossed that in which he was traveling. "Here's a fine state of affairs," he murmured to himself. "Now what's to be done?" It must be admitted that Dave was growing somewhat alarmed. The blows on the head and the tumble he had taken a short while before had weakened him, and he could hardly keep his feet. He opened his canteen and took several swal lows of water, and also bathed his forehead. This refreshed him for the time being; and he moved on again, this time taking a passageway which pointed southward.

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IN THE ABANDONED MINES 211 If I keep on moving s1Juthward I'm bound to get out of this old mine sooner or later," was the way he reasoned. "And I'll be coming out somewhere in the vicinity of our quarters." But the passageways of the abandoned mines were by no means straight, and soon our hero be came so mixed-up that he did not know which way to turn. He tried to get back to the gallery where the track was located, thinking to follow it in the opposite direction. But now the track had van ished completely. At last he had to sit down and rest. He wondered if it was still dark outside. "If I only had my watch to tell the time by," he mused. He had not yet replaced the time piece which had been lost. The day's work and the subsequent events had so exhausted our hero that at last he concluded he had better lie down and rest. As he prog ressed he had picked up several sticks of wood and some more dry brush, and this he placed beside him so that he might have it ready for use if needed. Then by the dying flare of the torch he was using he managed to arrange something of a couch at the side of the gallery, and there lay down. He thought he would not be able to sleep, but after lying there for the best part of half an hour he dropped off into troubled slumber.

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212 DAVE PORTER'S WAR HONORS When the young lieutenant awoke it was still as dark as ever around him. He lost no time in fixing himself another torch, and, feeling hun gry, ate a portion of the emergency ration he carried, washing it down with a few swallows of water. As he advanced he noticed that the passage way he was following sloped gradually upward, and this gave him some encouragement. If it keeps on going up it certainly ought to come out into the open air sooner or later,'' was the way the young officer reasoned. He had gone but a short distance further when a sound came to his ears which filled him with sur prise. There was a sharp bark, followed by sev eral others. Dogs -or else foxes I he exclaimed. The sounds came closer, and holding up his torch Dave made out the forms of two lean and dogs. At first he thought they might belong to some Red Cross contingent, but soon threw this idea to the winds. They are just stray dogs, and pretty wild and hungry at that," he told himself. "I wish they hadn't come this way. I don't like their looks at all." The dogs had evidently scented him, and now they came closer, barking furiously and showing their teeth. Evidently they, too, were lost under-

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IN THE ABANDONED MINES 213 ground, and most likely had not had food for some time.1 Get out of there, you beggars 1 11 cried Dave, as the dogs came still closer, snapping and snarl ing at him. He stuck out his torch, and both animals leaped back. But then they began to circle around, as if to attack him from the rear. This was a new peril, and one which Dave realized might prove grave. The dogs were large, and if really starv ing they might do their best to lay him low. With the torch in his left hand, Dave gathered up a stone and threw it with all force at one of the beasts. It took the dog in the side, and he leaped back, yelping with pain. Then Dave threw another stone at the other dog, catching him in one of his forelegs. Then he made a leap as if to thrust the torch into the dogs' faces, and in sudden panic the two animals turned tail and fled down one of the galleries of the mine. Having thus got rid of the dogs, at least for the time being, the young lieutenant continued on his course. He kept his eyes open for more brush wood, or anything with which he might make a torch, but without avail. He lit the last stick he was carrying with a heavy heart. What should he do when that was consumed? An hour later found our hero in anything but a satisfied state of mind. He had traveled one gal-

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214 DAVE PORTER'S WAR HONORS lery after another of the abandoned mines, and hardly knew how to turn or what to do next. The idea of being thus buried underground was horri ble. Then, of a sudden, came a change. He reached a turn of a passageway, and far ahead saw a streak of light. "An opening at last I he cried joyously, and his heart gave a bound of delight. He fairly ran forward, so eager was he to get out into the open air once more. And then almost before he realized it the un expected happened. Dave found himself close to one of the open ings of the abandoned mines, but at a point which was a long distance from the quarters of the engi neers. Although he did not know it, he had trav eled for several miles under the hills in that vi cinity. Who goes there? shouted a voice in Ger man; and a minute later the young lieutenant found himself surrounded by half a dozen of the enemy.

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CHAPTER XXII LOOKING FOR DAVE "I WONDER why Dave doesn't come back?" "He must have taken quite a walk, Roger." I should think, Phil, that he would be too tired to go very far; we've had quite a strenuous day, if you'll remember." "I don't have to remember I My back keeps reminding me of it all the while," said the ship owner's son. I'll tell you what being a work ing engineer in the army is no fool of a job I The two chums had finished the letters they had spoken of writing, and along with several of the others were taking their ease in that portion of the abandoned mines which had been turned over to them for quarters. Not far away Ben and Buster were sitting beside a small nail keg, play ing a game of checkers on a home-made board with some French coins for men. Close at hand sat Shadow, telling one of his innumerable stories to some of the other engineers. "What do you say if we go out and meet him?" remarked Roger, after a pause. 215

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216 DAVE PORTER'S WAR HONORS Suits me," responded Phil. And a moment later they were on their way. Outside the moon still shone brightly, so that objects could be seen for quite a distance. They looked up and down the path through the trees, but, of course, saw nothing of the young lieuten ant. Presently an officer approached them who proved to be Captain Obray. Out a little late, aren't you? said the cap tain pleasantly, as they saluted. I thought all you fellows were pining for sleep after such a hard day's work." "We came out to look for Lieutenant Porter," answered Roger. "I'm looking for him myself," said the captain in some surprise. He was after the notebook which our hero had promised to get for This notebook con tained several plans and specifications which were of importance. The captain had left the note book at headquarters, and knowing that Dave had gone there to make a report, had requested him to get it. "He came out for a walk, leaving us to write some letters," remarked Phil. But he ought to be back by this time, unless he went a long dis tance, and I shouldn't think he would do that after such a day's work."

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LOOKING FOR DAVE 217 "Have you any idea which way he took?" "He didn't say anything about it, but I rather imagine he walked up through the woods to that spring we located there," answered Roger. If you don't mind, Captain, we'll go up there and take a look around." I'll go with you," answered the captain. And then he added suddenly: I don't know but what it might be well for you to take your guns along." Do you think there are any Germans in this vicinity? " It's possible. They may be sending out some night raiding parties, you know, through some openings of the mines." The two young engineers ran back to their quarters and soon returned armed. The captain carried his pistol; and thus the three walked through the woods until they reached the spring. Here they saw where some of the water had been splashed around on the otherwise dry rocks, show ing that somebody had been there not so very long before. "It's too bad we can't call him," said Phil. But this was against the regulations, no loud cries of any kind being tolerated during the night. Had they given such a cry it would have been taken at once for an alarm, and this would have caused a commotion throughout the entire camp.

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218 DAVE PORTER'S WAR HONORS The three walked on past the spring and pres ently came close to the hill up which Dave had climbed. But here they saw no evidences of the missing lieutenant, and at last turned back to their quarters. I must say, Captain, I don't like this at all," said Roger. "Neither do I, Sergeant. pnless Lieutenant Porter went off on some special mission, it looks to me as if something bad may have happened to him." Do you think the Germans would dare to come so far behind our lines? ,, They might if they thought they saw a chance of capturing some of our men. It's bad to have so many mine openings around." "Oh, I hope Dave hasn't been captured I cried Phil, in dismay. With heavy hearts the three returned to their separate quarters. As soon as Captain Obray had left them, Roger and Phil acquainted their chums with what had occurred. Dave missing! You don't mean it I ex claimed Ben, and his face showed his concern. "What in the world do you suppose could have happened to him? asked Buster. If any of the Heinies are on a raiding party we had better get prepared for them," was Shadow's comment.

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LOOKING FOR DAVE :219 They talked the matter over for fully an hour, but without arriving at any satisfactory conclu sion. The disappearance of Dave worried all of them a good deal, and it was a long while before any of them got to sleep, Roger and Phil being unusually restless. "Gee! if the Germans have captured Dave, however are we going to tell his folks? was the way the shipowner's son expressed himself. And how are we going to tell Jessie Wadsworth?" added Roger. "Oh, it just makes me sick to think of it! ,, All of the young engineers were up at an early hour, and they readily received permission to go on a hunt for their missing chum. Captain Obray, however, cautioning them to be careful and not expose themselves needlessly to the enemy. The search for Dave lasted the best part of the morning. During that time they visited not only the vicinity of the spring, but also came close to the spot where the young lieutenant had been knocked senseless. But they saw nothing which threw any light on what had occurred. Beats the Dutch what has become of him I sighed Ben, after they had walked up and down through the woods and along the hills in that vicinity. Looks almost as if the earth had opened and swallowed him," said Buster.

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220 DAVE PORTER'S WAR HONORS Say I do you suppose it's possible he broke through to one of the openings of the mines? questioned Phil. "That might be possible, Phil," answered Roger. "Just the same, if it did happen, it's queer we don't find some evidence of it. If Dave went merely for a walk, it isn't likely he left this path, and we have searched every foot of that several times." Much discouraged, the young engineers re turned to the camp and made a report to their superiors. Captain Obray shook his head seri ously. "It certainly looks bad," he mused. "I'll have to list the lieutenant as missing." The others did not feel much like going to work, but there were a number of things that had to be done. The news soon spread throughout the entire engineering camp, and Frank Andrews and a number of others who had known Dave intimately were much affected. He wouldn't go away liKe this on his own account," said Andrews. "Something undoubt edly happened to him." "And that something couldn't have been any thing good," returned Roger. As soon as the young engineers were through with their work for the afternoon they started on another hunt for Dave, this time being accom-

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LOOKING FOR DAVE 221 panied by Frank Andrews and several of the older engineers. Every foot of the woods in that vicinity was gone over, including a portion of the hill which Dave had ascended. "Here are some footprints," said Frank An drews presently, as he pointed to some marks in the soft soil near where Dave had been thrown down. They examined this locality with great care, and presently Phil picked up a uniform button. "That shows one of our men was up here," declared the shipowner's son. "It's an Ameri can button." "It may be one of Dave's," answered Frank Andrews, after looking the button over. They soon came to the opening down which Dave had been shoved. But here nothing greeted their eye' s which looked suspicious. It's possible he may have slipped down into just such a hole as that," remarked Roger. But why should he? No fellow would do it with his eyes wide open," said Ben. "But it was night-time," suggested Shadow. "That's true; but it was moonlight. And be sides, if Dave slipped into any place like that, I'll bet he would soon pull himself out." There seemed nothing more to do, and with hearts that were heavier than ever they returned to their quarters.

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222 DAVE PORTER'S WAR HONORS On the following day Phil went out on an errand which took him past the infantry command to which Gebauer and Nat Poole belonged. He saw Nat sitting on a fallen tree. The money lender's son looked anything but cheerful. Phil at first thought of passing the young soldier, but suddenly wheeled around. "Hello, Nat I" he called out, as pleasantly as he could. Hello, yourself! was the surly response. "Say, Nat, have you heard the news about Dave Porter? questioned Phil. What are you talking about? I haven't heard anything," answered the money lender's son in a nervous, high-pitched voice. Dave went out the other evening for a walk, and he hasn't returned. I don't suppose you have seen or heard anything of him? "I haven't seen anything of Dave Porter! I don't know anything about him I" Nat's manner showed his agitation. Why should you come to me about him? " Oh, I thought you might be interested. His disappearance is worrying us a good deal." Humph! Perhaps he got scared and de serted." "You know better than to talk that way, Nat," replied Phil sharply.

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LOOKING FOR DAVE 223 I mean maybe he went back to one of those French towns to have a good time for a day or two," continued the money lender's son. Don't talk like a fool I You know Dave Porter would never break away like that. His disappearance has a serious side to it, although what, we don't know." "Well, if you know all about it, why do you bother me? went on Nat, looking more sour than ever. Nat Poole, if I had your disposition I'd go down to the river and drown myself I declared the shipowner's son in disgust. "Dave is right from your home town, and he's as good a fellow as there is in the world. And even though he did give you what you deserved, you ought to have some interest when he is missing and may be in serious trouble. For all we know, he may be a prisoner of the Germans." I don't know anything about him and I don't care I said Nat, and jumped up from the log upon which he was sitting and walked away. To tell the truth, Nat was very much disturbed, and he hurried away, fearing that Phil might dis cover his state of mind. He and Gebauer had kept track of matters, and early that morning had learned that our hero was still missing. I wonder what will happen if he never turns

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224 DAVE PORTER'S WAR HONORS up? thought Nat, as he walked back to his quar ters. The very idea that Dave might never re turn caused him to shiver. A little later Nat ran into Gebauer and, mo tioning the lieutenant to one side, told him of the interview with Phil. "I hope you didn't give yourself away I" cried Gebauer quickly. "Trust me for that," answered the money lender's son. "Just the same, Max, I think you carried things too far." I carried things? You, you mean! an swered the lieutenant quickly. See here I You're not going to stick it off on me like that," stormed Nat. It was you who gave him the crack that knocked him sense less." Sh-sh I Not so loud I interrupted Gebauer, and placed a hasty hand over his companion's mouth. Somebody might hear you! " Well then, don't say I'm to blame." Don't let's talk about that now." Gebauer drew a deep breath. "I'm glad Lawrence men tioned the state of affairs to you. Now they won't think it's strange that we know all about it." But suppose he never returns?" questioned Nat hoarsely. "Oh, he'll get back some time or other." How do you know?

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LOOKING FOR DAVE 225 I'm sure he will. Just tumbling him down into that mine can't have hurt him so very much." But he might have gone down into some ter ribly deep hole." I think you'll find Dave Porter turning up safe and sound sooner or later. Just the same, I guess we had better not say anything about hav ing seen him on his way to one of the towns in the rear," continued Gebauer. Why not? I thought that was part of your scheme to get him into trouble." Well, I've changed my mind about it, Nat. You see, it's this way: If we were positive that he would show himself in a day or two, we might spread such a report. But if he doesn't turn up, then they would be sure to come to us and ask for all particulars, and that might prove very embarrassing. So I guess for the present we had better say nothing." What did you do with that notebook you picked up? " I put that away." You had better place it where no one can find it, Max. If it was found among your things it might be used as evidence against us." "I've got it in a safe place, so don't worry." Do you think we ought to go on a hunt for him ourselves? continued Nat, after an unsat isfactory pause.

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226 DAVE PORTER'S WAR HONORS What do you mean? Go down into that shaft of the abandoned mines? "Yes." Not on your life I I wouldn't go down there for a thousand dollars," answered Gebauer quickly. The very thought of going down into that dark place to look for his victim caused him to shudder. "Somehow I think we ought to do something," continued Nat. He was feeling more and more uncomfortable as he realized the awful possibili ties attached to their actions. We'll lie low and say nothing I answered the lieutenant firmly. You keep your mouth tight shut. If those friends of Porter's come to you and try to pump you, beware of them. If they got an inkling of what we did, we would certainly be in bad." And then Gebauer looked at Nat in such a fierce way that it struck terror to the slacker's very soul.

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CHAPTER XXIII A PRISONER OF THE ENEMY As SOON as Dave saw the Germans he attempted to retreat, but they were too quick for him, and in a few seconds six of the enemy had surrounded him while several more were running in that di rection. As we know, the young lieutenant was unarmed, so resistance was out of the question. Several of the Germans pointed their rifles at him, and then there was nothing left for him to do but throw up his hands in token of surrender. Watch him, you Kopek and Posen,'' said an under officer, in German. "There may be more coming." The two soldiers addressed pushed Dave roughly to one side in an angle of the wall, and there one of them held him at the point of a bayonet. In the meantime, the other Germans, under the leadership of the officer, spread out across the passageway of the mine. Some even ran a distance ahead, peering this way and that along the dark passageways. Presently the officer came back, accompanied by 227

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228 DAVE PORTER'S WAR HONORS one of his men, a fellow who had lived for some time in London and who could speak fairly good English. Haf you been all alone? demanded this soldier, after having received a request for this information from his superior. "Yes, I am all alone," answered Dave. How did you come by this part of the mine? was the next question put. Dave saw no reason for deceiving those who had made him a prisoner, and in a straightforward manner he told of having rolled down through an opening in the mines some distance off, and then related how he had wandered around, met the savage dogs, and finally come out into daylight at this point. The German listened attentively, and from time to time translated what our hero said for the benefit of the others. And you wass sure you been all alone? was the next question. "Yes." No more questions were asked just then, but a number of the Germans were detailed to watch for any signs of approaching Americans. Then Dave was placed in the charge of two of the men and told to march. The young lieutenant wondered if he had come out of the mines at a point which was near the German lines_. He saw only about fifteen soldiers,

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A PRISONER OF THE ENEMY 229 and nothing that looked like a trench or a dugout, and concluded that this was simply a reconnoitring party making its way through the woods and over the rough rocks, probably with some idea of feel ing out that portion of the American front. Presently the party came to where they had to cross a small stream. Before this was done Dave was halted and the soldier who could speak Eng lish addressed him. You not make any noise now, or you get killed," he ordered, and the look on his face showed that he meant what he said. With these men ready either to shoot or stab him at an instant's notice, Dave felt that it would be foolhardy to make any noise or attempt to escape. Consequently he silently crossed the small stream with them and walked along a trail leading through some thick brushwood. Thus they covered a good quarter of a mile, presently reaching open ground beyond which were a num ber of German trenches. The appearance of the American prisoner was hailed with delight by a gathering of German soldiers, all of whom eyed Dave curiously. American and a lieutenant at that I cried one. Some catch! "Lieutenant Oswald will get some credit now," returned another. The Yankee pig ought to be shot down I

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230 DAVE PORTER'S WAR HONORS What is the sense of making a prisoner of him? cried a third. The Americans had no business to come into this war I " Don't worry, Carl they will treat him rough enough exclaimed the first soldier who had spoken. Then he picked up a lump of dirt and hurled it at Dave, striking him in the leg. He'll be useful to get some information from," remarked another soldier. "A lieuten ant like that ought to know a good deal." I don't believe the Americans know any thing! cried still another. They are a lot of numskulls l They had no business to get into this war l" After a short pause at the trenches Dave was marched to the rear of the lines. Here, to his surprise, he was joined by two other Americans, both privates. Hello I where are you from? he questioned quickly, after both of the other prisoners had saluted him and he had saluted in return. One man, whose name was Oscar Davis, was from New York State, and the other, named Ralph Thompson, was from Massachusetts. Both were young fellows of about Dave's age, and both were as mad as hornets because they had been captured. I was out in a night raid with twenty others," explained Oscar Davis. "We got along pretty well until all of a sudden Jerry began to throw

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A PRISONER OF THE ENEMY 231 up some star shells and flaming onions. Then I and two other fellows were spotted by the Fritz ies, and both of the other fellows were killed. Then something hit me in the back and knocked me over on my head, so that I was partly stunned. When I got so I could do some thinking these fellows had me and they fairly dragged me over to their trench." Ralph Thompson proved to be an American aviator. He had been up in a small machine do ing special work when a storm had come up and one of the planes of his machine had suddenly broken. He had tried to get back behind the American lines, but the storm had been too much for him, and he had come down with a crash directly on top of one of the German dugouts. There had been a grand commotion, the Germans thinking that the dugout had been struck by a shell. He had set fire to his machine, as was the custom, but before he could make his escape had been surrounded and captured. And now I suppose we are in for a dandy time not," he concluded dismally. You can be thankful you weren't killed when your plane collapsed," returned Dave; and then told something about himself. What do you suppose they will do with us? questioned Oscar Davis anxiously He was a tall, thin youth, and later on let out that he had the

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232 DAVE PORTER'S WAR HONORS year before graduated from Harvard University. I suppose we're booked for one of their prison camps," answered Dave. Then several of the Germans came up and made motions that they should keep quiet. It must be confessed that our hero was much downcast. He had read and heard a great deal of how inhumanly the Huns were treating all of their prisoners. Only a few days before word had reached the engineers of how several pris oners had died in one of the detention camps from lack of proper food and clothing. "I suppose I've got to make the best of it," he thought philosophically. Just the same, I'd give a good deal to be back among our crowd once more." About an hour later the three prisoners were told to march, and were made to travel a distance of several miles. At one point they were joined by several other Americans and about a dozen Canadians, and then the whole crowd continued on its way to the rear. The young lieutenant was hungry. He had al ready eaten what was left of his emergency ration and used up the water left in his canteen. But no food was offered to him, and he had all he could do to get a drink of water, the Germans even seeming to begrudge him this comfort. They're Huns, all right enough I growled

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A PRISONER OF THE ENEMY 233 one of the Canadians, who chanced to be tramp ing along just behind Dave. "We ought to wipe every mother's son of them off the face of the earth I " Certainly not a very encouraging prospect," answered Dave. Silence l came the sharp command from the head of the column; and then followed some words in German to the soldiers who had the prisoners in charge. As a consequence Dave and a num ber of others received jabs from the soldiers' gun-butts, and one poor fellow who made a slight resistance was promptly bowled over and stuck through the side with a bayonet. It was not until well toward nightfall that the prisoners reached a small wire compound where they were herded together like so many sheep. This compound had been used by other prisoners before them, and was in anything but a clean or sanitary condition. They were thrust into the en closure in the most brutal fashion, and told they would have to remain there until the next day. Don't we get anything to eat? questioned Dave in broken German. He was beginning to feel faint. Yes; you'll get something in a little while," was the reply. All of the prisoners had, of course, been dis armed and searched, and many of their most val-

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234 DAVE PORTER'S WAR HONORS uable possessions had been taken from them. The compound was heavily guarded, so that es cape was practically out of the question. It is nothing more than a big pig-pen 1 was the way Oscar Davis expressed himself. Well, you didn't expect to have it look like a New York City hotel, did you? queried Dave, with a faint grin. They might at least treat us like human be ings 1 " I agree with you there." If they don't give me something to eat pretty soon I'm going to try to make a break for it, even if it costs me my life," put in Ralph Thompson recklessly. He had come from a rich family, and previous to entering the army had been used to the best of living. "Don't do anything foolish," warned Dave. It won't help you any, and it will only make it so much the harder for the rest of us. By their looks, some of those Huns wouldn't like any bet ter fun than to shoot down every one of us." It was fully an hour before the prisoners were given anything to eat, then each got a small tin full of weak soup and a chunk of black bread. I can't eat such chow as that," declared one of the prisoners after tasting the stuff. "Why, it isn't even respectable dish-water 1 Neverthe less, being very hungry, he managed at last to soak

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A PRISONER OF THE ENEMY 235 up his chunk of bread in the mess and devour it. Dave was of the opinion that the food served was decidedly poor, but it was better than noth ing, and he ate it without comment. "Anyway," remarked Ralph Thompson, it's a little bit filling, and that's something. I won't pull my belt any tighter until I am worse off." The next day the prisoners were joined by a number of others, and all were marched still further to the rear, arriving about noon at a freight yard on the outskirts of a small town. Here were a number of box-cars, and the prisoners were herded into these like so many cattle. Over thirty men were in the car to which Dave and the other Americans were assigned. The car had only small slatted windows at either end. After being given a couple of buckets of water the door was closed and locked upon them. "I don't see how we are going to stand this," grumbled one of the prisoners. Why, I can hardly breathe now I He was a short, thick-set fellow, and consequently somewhat at a disadvan tage in that crowd. Of course, every one wanted to get in the vici nity of one of the slatted windows so that he might get the benefit of what little fresh air was stirring. The car had been used for the transportation of cattle, and had not been cleaned. "This certainly is the limit I was Dave's com-

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236 DAVE PORTER'S WAR HONORS ment, when he found himself squeezed into one end of this place. I wouldn't treat a skunk like this I Presently the train began to move, and the car rattled out of the freight yard and on its journey. Previous to going aboard the prisoners had been given some weak coffee, made mostly of acorns, and some bread which several of the men de clared must be made of rye flour and sawdust. And that was the only meal they had had since morning. If they are going to starve us to death, they might as well do it at once," grumbled Davis They're either going to starve us or suffocate us," returned Thompson. The pair had struck up quite an acquaintance. On and on rattled the train, over switches and bridges, and through many villages and towns. Where they were bound, Dave could not imagine, but he knew they must be getting deeper and deeper into the heart of Germany, and this made him more downcast than ever. I'll have no chance to escape at all if they take me too far away from the front lines," he reasoned "Too bad I I almost wish I had made a dash for it when I met those Germans at the entrance to the mines." It was not until eight o'clock in the evening that the train came to a stop and the doors were thrown

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A PRISONER OF THE ENEMY 237 open. By that time many of those within could hardly stand upright, so weak were they from want of fresh air and proper rest. They stag gered into the open, and were glad enough to learn they were to receive another meal. This time they were given a watery stew, made up partly of potatoes and greens with a tiny piece of meat. Accompanying the stew was the inevitable chunk of black, sawdusty bread. A really elaborate menu, eh? was Oscar Davis's sarcastic comment. "I hardly know what to pick out on the bill-of-fare." "Well, don't eat too much," returned Dave, with a faint grin. If you do that, you may get indigestion." "Indigestion I" ejaculated the former univer sity student. I think this mess is just the thing to go back on a fellow's stomach." Well, don't be discouraged," returned Dave grimly. It may be that the worst is yet to come." In that surmise our hero was correct, as events a little later proved.

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CHAPTER XXIV TRYING TO ESCAPE THE next day found Dave and about one hun dred prisoners herded in a long, low building which had once been used as a horse-stable. It was located at a place which had evidently been a fair grounds, for close behind were the remains of a race-track and a grand-stand. I wonder how long we'll have to stay in this place? grumbled Ralph Thompson. Pretty bum quarters, eh? added Oscar Davis. "Anyway, it's better than that cattle-car we were herded in," remarked Dave. "There are more windows and we can get better air." That afternoon the young lieutenant was called out and made to march to a military quarters not far away. There he was asked his name and the name of the command to which he belonged, and then a great number of questions were put to him. He answered as well as he could, taking care, of course, that he did not give the enemy any informa tion of military value.

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TRYING TO ESCAPE 239 You have evidently been well drilled concern ing what to say if captured," remarked the ques tioner, a burly German officer, as he glared at Dave. If you expect good treatment at our hands you will have to loosen your tongue a little " I have answered every question put to me," was our hero's prompt reply. But you are keeping a whole lot of informa tion to yourself," stormed the German officer. "But we'll get it out of you sooner or later, never fear I and then he ordered a couple of the guards to take Dave back to the prison pen. The other prisoners were also questioned one by one. A few of them probably told more than they should, doing this perhaps innocently, but the majority were very close-mouthed, so much so that their German questioners were anything but pleased. These American swine think they can do as they please," grumbled one of the German officers. But just wait we'll show them what's what I As a result of their holding back information desired by the Huns, the prisoners were treated with more severity than ever. Some of the win dows of the horse stable were boarded up, and their rations were cut down to such small portions that even the most liberal-minded men in the crowd demurred. This is positively inhuman I declared one of

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240 DAVE PORTER'S WAR HONORS the Canadians. It's against the rules of war, too I "England will have a big claim to settle against Germany when this war is over," declared an other. "I reckon Uncle Sam will have a claim, too,'' put in an American prisoner from Alabama. Several days, including Sunday, were spent in this prison pen, and then one morning, while it was raining hard, one of the doors was opened and a number of prisoners were told to come out as their names were called. I guess they're going to take us to some other place," remarked Dave. "I wonder where?" I hope it's some better place than this," growled Oscar Davis. Dave was among the first to be called out, and a number of Americans and Canadians followed, among them being Ralph Thompson. Oscar. Davis was left behind along with a number of others, why, Dave could not surmise. Without having a chance to say good-bye to those left behind, about thirty of the prisoners were marched away from the horse-stables to a railroad station in a small German village. On the way some boys and girls jeered at them, and one old woman sifted some ashes down on their heads from a second-story window. Some of these ashes got into Dave's eyes, almost

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TRYING TO ESCAPE 241 blinding him. He forgot for the instant where he was walking, and did not realize the situation until one of the guards hit him in the shoulder, almost knocking him over. Had there been the slightest chance of improving his condition thereby, Dave would have leaped upon this guard and pommeled him well. But he knew such an action would have meant death, so he controlled himself as best he could and continued on the march. At the railroad station they were herded into a small freight-yard, and there received another meal of watery soup and black bread. While they were trying to eat this some of the town folks came down to jeer at them and a few to hurl sticks and stones. Being a prisoner is certainly no picnic," re marked Ralph Thompson. "I know what I am going to do," answered Dave, in a low tone of voice. I am going to break away at the first opportunity that presents itself." They'll shoot you down if they get the chance." I don't care let them shoot I answered the young lieutenant. The inhuman treatment which had been ac corded him since his capture was beginning to make him reckless. Where the Germans were

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242 DAVE PORTER'S WAR HONORS going to send him next, he could not surmise, but he felt certain they would place him at work, either on one of their roads, or else in one of their mines. There, he knew, he would be made to labor ten or twelve hours a day on the scantiest of food and in all sorts of weather. "It's enough to break down a mule," he reas oned to himself. I'm not going to stand it I I'm going to do what I can to escape at the very first opportunity." All that day and the following night were spent in the little freight yard. During the darkness the guards were increased, and electric lights were made to illuminate the scene, so that escape was out of the question. It still rained as hard as ever. Dave turned the matter over in his mind for an hour or two, but finally gave it up and got what little sleep he could sitting with his back against some old railroad ties. Our hero, as well as all of the other prisoners, was by this time soaked to the skin, and many of the crowd got heavy colds, from which one or two of them did not recover. It was not until after seven o'clock that eve ning that a line of freight cars came rattling into the yard. When it came to a standstill those in the yard noted from the sounds that reached them that more than three quarters of the cars were

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TRYING TO ESCAPE 243 filled with prisoners. They begged for food and water and fresh air, but the Germans having the train in charge paid no attention to their appeals. The prisoners in the yard were placed in two cars, and this time Dave was separated from Ralph Thompson. He was told to get into a car which was partly filled with packing-cases. There was room for just a dozen prisoners, and these were herded together closely. "These are smaller quarters than any yet," remarked one of the prisoners. But the car is fairly clean, and that is one comfort," said another. And we can use some of these packing-cases to sit on," added a third. I wonder if there is any grub in these boxes? ventured a fourth prisoner, after the door had been closed and locked upon them. If there is anything to eat, I'm going to have it." Of course, it was quite dark in the car, but one prisoner chanced to have a few matches, and one of these was lit and the boxes hastily inspected. They proved to contain pieces of small machinery, muth to the prisoners' disgust. "We can't eat hardware," was the way one of them expressed himself. One of the boxes had been left open, and Dave used this for a seat. As the train bumped along, making probably twenty-five or thirty miles an

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244 DAVE PORTER'S WAR HONORS hour, he felt in the box and presently brought out a small piece of machinery shaped something like a jimmy. As the train rattled on the young lieutenant heard one prisoner ask another what time it was and found out that it was close to ten o'clock in the evening. The rain had stopped, but it was still cloudy, with no stars showing themselves. If I could only get out of this car I might have a chance to hide in some good place before daylight,'' Dave reasoned. If the door was open, I think I'd take a chance on jumping out, even though this old train is running along at fairly good speed." He was sitting not far from one of the doors of the car, and now he examined this as best he could in the darkness. Then he took the piece of machinery in his hand and forced it between the door and its frame. What are you trying to do there? ques tioned one of the other prisoners who was at his side. I'm going to try to force this door open," answered our hero. What? And jump out in the darkness? You'll break your neck I" was the quick reply. I'll see about what I'll do after I get the door open -if I can get it open," answered the young lieutenant.

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TRYING TO ESCAPE 245 Fortunately for our hero, the car was an old one and the fastenings were rather dilapidated. By using the piece of machinery as a jimmy, he forced the edge of the door outwards until there came a sudden snap which showed that the lock had been broken. Then the lock fell away and the door slid open with ease Hello, somebody has opened the door I cried a voice in the darkne&s. That fresh air feels fine I "What's doing there?" questioned somebody else. Are we going to get out? " I broke the door open with one of those pieces of machinery," answered Dave. "I don't intend to remain a prisoner any longer. I am going to jump from this train at the very first chance I get." Don't do it, lad I Don't do it I cried one of the older men. You'll break your neck sure I " And you can't get away," added another. The Germans will be sure to spot you in the morning and they'll shoot you down." To this Dave did not reply. Instead he peered forth from the train, opening the door only a few inches for that purpose. All was dark, and for a minute or two he could see but little. Then he made out that they were passing through a patch of woods and that the

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246 DAVE PORTER'S WAR HONORS jagged rocks were numerous along the roadbed. "I can't jump out here," he told himself. "I'd either be killed or terribly cut up." A few minutes later the woods were left be hind, and then the prisoners found themselves bumping over a railroad crossing. Then they ran into a small station, which was lit up by smoky lanterns. "I guess this is my chance," Dave told him self, and the train had not yet come to a stop when he pushed open the door a little farther and allowed himself to drop out on the ground. Then, as the train rolled a few yards further, he made a quick leap for the shelter of some nearby sheds. The young lieutenant knew only too well that it would be foolhardy to remain long in that vi cinity. The train had halted, and undoubtedly some sort of inspection would be made of the cars and the prisoners. The broken-open door would be discovered, and then would come an alarm. I've got to place distance between myself and this place," he murmured, and, watching his chance, he sped along a line of low warehouses and then took to some open fields beyond. He kept on at his best rate of speed until he crossed a road and then came to a patch of woods, evi-

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TRYING TO ESCAPE 247 dently that through which the train had recently passed. By that time Dave was so out of wind he could run no longer, and, finding a comfortable resting place among the trees and bushes, he sat down and gave himself over to his thoughts. It must be admitted that his mind was by no means at ease. He realized that in thus attempt ing to escape he had taken his life in his hands. Should the German guards make a search and discover him, his life would probably pay the forfeit. "I'll have to lie low in the daytime," he told himself, and do all of my traveling at night. And how I'm going to get anything to eat is a question.'' Having rested and at the same time listened in vain for some sounds of pursuit, the young lieu tenant went on his way, coming out of the woods along the line of the railroad. Looking back, he made out the distant village where the train had stopped, and then hurried forward in the direction from which he had come. He reasoned that the train had been carrying him deeper into the enemy's country, and what he wanted to do was to get back to the vicinity of the war front. Our hero had traveled a distance of a mile or more when he heard a rumble behind him. Look-

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248 DAVE PORTER'S WAR HONORS ing back, he saw a train approaching rather slowly. As it came closer he made out that it was a heavily loaded freight. It was going up hill, and the engineer had all he could do to coax the locomotive into hauling the load. Our hero stood to one side and allowed a num ber of cars to pass him. Then, struck by a sud den thought, he watched his opportunity and boarded the freight train. Dave had supposed that the entire train was made up of cars filled with freight. But in this the young lieutenant was mistaken. Several of the cars in the center of the train contained sol diers on their way to the front. More than this, the train carried its regular guards, and as Dave stood between two of the cars wondering what he had best do next, he heard two of these guards talking in guttural tones. They say four or five of the prisoners got away," he heard one of the men say, in German. "That's too bad, Heinrich. Do you suppose they came this way? remarked a second guard. Dolbear thought so," went on the first speaker. He told me to tell you and the others to be on the watch. If we see any of those ras cals we are to shoot them on sight."

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CHAPTER XXV THE ENCOUNTER ON THE RIVER "THis looks as if I had jumped from the fry ing-pan into the fire." Such was Dave's thought as he listened to what was said by the German guards. He could not understand every word spoken, but he gathered enough to know that they were keeping a look out for him and some others who had leaped from the prisoners' train. The two guards were on the top of one of the cars, and only a few feet from where the young lieutenant was in hiding. He ::rouched low on one of the bumpers, running a serious risk of being pinched should the cars make a sudden swerve to one side or the other. On and on puffed the train. The top of the hill was presently gained, and then the cars in creased their speed and rattled forward over the uneven rails and across numerous switches. One of the guards had evidently gone toward the rear of the train, and now the other started to move forward. He leaped directly over our 249

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250 DAVE PORTER'S WAR HONORS hero's head from car to car, but he was too in terested in maintaining his footing to glance down, so Dave remained undiscovered. I hope those fellows don't come back this way," he muttered to himself, as he straightened up, holding fast to one of the cars as he did so. His cramped position had begun to tell on him, and he was glad to make a change. A couple of hours passed and the long freight still continued on its way. It had rolled through a number of villages and several small towns, and had also crossed three small streams. Now they were climbing another hill, and the speed of the train was again slackened. One of the towns through which they passed Dave recognized as a place he had seen before, and this gave him not a little satisfaction, for he felt that he was once more headed for the fighting front. I've got to get pretty close to it if I ever expect to get back to our lines," was the way he reasoned. It wouldn't be any use for me to attempt to travel any great distance through Ger many, especially wearing this uniform." As the train passed over the top of the second long line of hills and began to increase its speed down the other side, Dave resolved to make an other move. He knew that sooner or later the freight would roll into some yard and there, if

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THE ENCOUNTER ON THE RIVER 251 the place was lighted up and well guarded, it would be next to impossible to escape. I've got to leave this train before that hap pens," was the way he reasoned. "And I had better take a look around and see what the pros pects ahead are." At the end of one of the freight cars was a arrangement, and with caution Dave mounted this, to peer out over the top. He could see nothing of the guards, and so sat down on the top of the freight car to get a better view of his surroundings. The sky was now clearing and a number cf stars were beginning to show them selves. They were going down the grade rather rap idly, and looking far ahead the young lieutenant saw a gleam of brightness which he rightly took to be a broad stream. On this side of the river was a good-sized town. In a few minutes more they rattled into the outskirts of the town. It was quite dark, the lights evidently being extinguished on account of a possible air raid by the Americans or their Allies. But in a tall tower was located a search light, and this was suddenly turned on the train, flashing along the tops of the cars from end to end. Evidently the guards had been expecting this light to fall upon them, for they were on the alert and their eyes, following the bright beams,

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252 DAVE PORTER'S WAR HONORS fell full upon Dave before he had any chance to hide himself. Who are you? Throw up your hands I came the cry in German. And then, as Dave started to drop down between the cars once more, a shot rang out, followed by another Both of the bullets whistled close over our hero's head, and he made such a quick move out of range that he almost lost his footing. As it was, he dropped down on the bumper and had all he could do to keep himself from going clear through to the rails below. Had he done this, he would have 1been instantly ground beneath the wheels of the cars The train was now rattling through the town, and a few seconds later it reached the near end of the long bridge across the river. I guess here is where I'll have to jump for it," thought the young lieutenant. He knew that the guards above would be rushing to the spot where they had last seen him and that they would not hesitate to open fire again. He had no desire to fall a victim to a German bullet. The train ran out on the trestle; and the edge of the cars was less than two feet from the out side of the bridge. Bracing himself as best he could, Dave took a long breath and then made the leap. There he goes I cried one of the guards.

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THE ENCOUNTER ON THE RIVER 253 Shoot him I exclaimed the other; and then both blazed away with their rifles. Dave felt a queer stinging sensation along the outside of his left leg, and then he hit the waters of the river with a loud splash and went under. He knew he had been struck, and he hoped it was not a serious wound. Not to give the guards on the train a chance to shoot at him again, our hero kept under water as long as he could hold his breath. In the mean time, the long freight train continued over the bridge and presently was lost to sight in the dis tance. But the young lieutenant was too bewildered by what had occurred to note the disappearance of the train, and, coming up to the surface, he took a hasty breath and then dived again. When he came up a second time he dashed the water from his eyes and endeavored to look around him. All was semi-dark on the river and everything was quiet. Well, I'm out of that, anyway, unless they send word back to start a search for me," he told himself. But what am I to do next? Fortunately for our hero, he had on only his light summer outfit, so his clothing did not weigh heavily upon him. The water was cool, but not cold, and this was rather refreshing than otherwise after his many days of confinement during

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254 DAVE PORTER'S WAR HONORS which it had been impossible to get anything like a bath. The river was rather swiftly flowing, and the young lieutenant allowed himself to be carried along by the current, meanwhile, however, strik ing out in the direction of the other shore. This he knew would be bringing him just so much closer to the firing line. As he swam along he used his left leg, and thereby ascertained that the wound he had sustained was little more than a scratch, for which he was thankful. Dave had passed down the river a distance of several hundred yards, and was within fifty rods of the opposite shore, when an object coming down the stream caugh t his attention. It was a large rowboat manned by two soldiers who were singing some sort of an army song in noisy, gut tural tones. I'll have to take care that those fellows don't discover me," the young lieutenant reasoned, and then struck out toward the distant shore in an endeavor to evade the oncoming craft. Had the two soldiers in the boat been perfectly sober they would probably have kept on a straight course and passed Dave. But, as it chanced, both of them had been drinking heavily and were con sequently somewhat befuddled. They managed their oars in anything but a skillful manner, and as a consequence when the boat was close to

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THE ENCOUNTER ON THE RIVER 255 our hero it suddenly swerved around, hitting Dave in the shoulder. The blow was not a hard one, but it was suffi cient to send the young lieutenant under and to knock a good deal of the wind 0ut of him. When he came up he was at the stern of the rowboat, and this he clutched with both hands. "Ha who is there, Hans?" bawled one of the German soldiers. "I don't know. Let us find out," answered Hans, and, dropping his oar, he stumbled to the stern of the boat and caught Dave by both wrists. Then the other German soldier also leaped back, and between them they hauled Dave up and into the craft. Upon my head, I think it is one of those Yankee swine I cried one of the soldiers in as tonishment, as he peered into Dave's face and looked at his water-soaked uniform. "What? An American I roared the other. Dump him into the river again; he deserves nothing better than to be drowned." "No, no I Now we have him, let us take him to camp as our prisoner," was the mumbled reply. We shall get a good deal of credit for capturing one of those beasts." To this the young lieutenant answered nothing, for the reason that he was almost out of breath, and, furthermore, the befuddled soldiers spoke

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256 DAVE PORTER'S WAR HONORS in a German dialect of which he hardly under stood a word. Hands up, you son of a rat I muttered one of the soldiers, as our hero sank down on one of the middle seats of the large rowboat. Don't try to play any tricks on us." As he spoke he made a clumsy pass at the young lieutenant, and it was then for the first time that Dave realized the truth of the situation, which was that the two soldiers were in no fit condition to manage the rowboat. They had evi dently been sent from their camp into town on an errand, and while on this had taken the oppor tunity to treat themselves liberally to liquor. Dave realized that if he wanted to escape from the clutches of the enemy, he must do some quick thinking, if not acting. Seeing the condition of the two soldiers, he let out a groan as if in deep pain and sank down on the bottom of the row boat. He must be wounded, or else he has been swimming a long distance," mumbled one of the soldiers. Well, that will make it so much the easier to take him along. Let the pig lie where he is until we reach the landing. Then we'll make him march along, or else shoot him." Both soldiers picked up their oars once more and endeavored to continue their rowing. One

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THE ENCOUNTER ON THE RIVER 257 had his feet in the middle of Dave's back and took savage delight in punching his heels into the prisoner. "I'd like to have all the Americans under me just like this one;" he mumbled to his companion. "We'll have them all under our feet some day," answered the other. "They will be sorry they ever went to war against the V aterland;" and then the soldier began his singing again, in which his com panion presently joined. Dave noted with satisfaction that the guns of both of the soldiers lay forward, on the bottom of the rowboat. While the craft was passing along in the darkness he put forth one hand cau tiously and pulled first one gun and then the other toward him. He did not dare to raise either of the weapons; but he placed them in such a posi tion that neither of the Germans could get at them very readily. A full mile had been covered on the journey down the river, and one soldier was looking ahead as if to see at what point he might make a land ing, when Dave resolved to act. He felt some what recovered, and, gathering himself for the effort, he suddenly leaped up and caught one of the soldiers by the arm. Stop! What does this mean? spluttered the fellow, but before he could utter another word Dave had him half overboard. Then he

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258 DAVE PORTER' S WAR HONORS gave the soldier a shove which sent him headlong into the water. The encounter had been a brief one, but short as it was it had given the second soldier a chance to leap up and at the young lieutenant. He came at our hero very much like a big bear, fastening himself on Dave's back with a grab at his throat which was as painful as it was dangerous. But all the young lieutenant's fighting blood was now aroused, and, standing straight up, he suddenly bent low, sending the German soldier flying into the air and over his head. The fellow gave a yell of rage and alarm, but he did not lose his grip; and a moment later both he and Dave splashed overboard into the swiftly flowing river l

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CHAPTER XXVI DEEP IN THE WOODS EVIDENTLY the German soldier who had gone overboard with Dave knew little or nothing about swimming, for the minute he touched the water he seemed to grow frantic, clutching our hero around the neck in a deathlike grip. "Save me I Save me! Don' t let me drown I" he spluttered hoarsely, in German, as soon as both of them came to the surface again. The young lieutenant did not reply to this. He was in the grip of a deadly enemy, and he did not purpose to lose his life if he could help it. Gathering what strength remained to him, he twisted around and gave the German a stinging blow in the chin. Ordinarily such a blow would have caused the other to fall back; but now fear clutched at the German's heart, and though his head went back with a jerk, he still retained his hold upon our hero. Evidently he did not intend to drown un less Dave did likewise. By this time the rowboat had drifted down the stream away from the pair. But one of the oars 259

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26o DAVE PORTER'S WAR HONORS was close at hand and Dave seized hold of this. From a distance came a yell for help, evidently from the first soldier who had gone overboard. These cries gradually became fainter and fainter, and then ceased altogether. With the oar in his hand, the young lieutenant wondered what he had best do next. He must act quickly, for already both he and the German soldier were on the point of going down a second time. Perhaps it was a cruel thing to do, but this was war, and Dave did not purpose to lose his life if he could possibly avoid it. He brought the broad point of the oar around, and, catching the blade with both hands, made a jab with all of his strength for the German's throat. The thrust went true, the sharp end of the oar catching the man full in the neck. The force of the made him gasp, and for the instant his hold upon Dave was relaxed. Our hero made another lunge with the oar, catching the fellow in the breast and sending him several yards away. Then the German suddenly disappeared from view beneath the surface of the river; and that was the last the young lieutenant saw of him. Dave swam a distance of twenty odd feet, and then looked back to see if he was being pursued. But when neither of the German soldiers showed himself, he continued his swimming, heading for

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DEEP IN THE WOODS 261 the distant shore and also for the rowboat which was drifting on ahead of him. It did not take him long to reach the boat, and, almost exhausted, he pulled himself aboard and sank down on the middle seat. Less than ten minutes had elapsed since Dave had made his attack on the enemy, yet to him it seemed as if it was an age. He had been close to death, and he thanked Providence for his escape. More than likely both of those chaps are drowned," he told himself. "Even if they could swim, they were both too befuddled by liquor to take care of themselves." The rowboat was without oars, so he had to let the craft take its own course to a large degree. He did find a small board in the bottom of the boat, and with this as a paddle succeeded in head ing more toward the shore than before. The craft had passed a point where there were a number of small lights as if belonging to some village or camp, and was now drifting along a portion of the stream where all was dark. "I've got to make a landing sooner or later," he reasoned; and I might as well turn in here as anywhere. If I see anything to alarm me, I can slip overboard and swim for it." In utter silence he turned the boat toward the shore, and presently the current brought it close alongside a number of bushes which overhung the

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262 DAVE PORTER'S WAR HONORS river bank. Dave caught hold of these bushes, and then by peering around in the semi-darkness at last made out a little opening in the bank. Into this, by means of the heavy brushwood growing on all sides, he pulled the boat until it was almost entirely hidden from view. By this time the sky had cleared more than ever, and all the stars were shining brightly. Growing accustomed to the semi-darkness beneath the bushes, Dave, after resting for a minute, arose cautiously and, standing on the middle seat of the rowboat, peered around him. All that he could see was the river with the bank fringed with brushwood backed up by a small forest In the distance he thought he could discern the outlines of a number of stone build ings, but of this he was not certain. Looking out on the stream, he could see nothing in the shape of a boat. It doesn't look to me as if there were any guards around here," he told himself. "But those soldiers must have been bound for some camp, so I'll have to be very careful about showing myself or making any noise." Having completed the survey, Dave sat down on the seat of the boat and gave himself up to his meditations. He also wrung some of the water from his clothing and took off his shoes to empty them.

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DEEP IN THE WOODS 263 In the bottom of the boat still lay the two rifles, and both were loaded, as he noted with satisfac tion. He resolved, if it became necessary to do so, to use the rifles and sell his life as dearly as possible. A long-drawn hour went by, and during that time Dave made himself as comfortable as pos sible in the rowboat. This, of course, was not saying much, for the boat was bare of anything in the way of blankets or cushions. He tried to sleep, but succeeded only in getting a few fit. fol naps, awakening from each with a violent start. I guess this situation is getting on my nerves, all right enough," he murmured. "My, what wouldn't I give to be back safe and sound with our boys I 11 And then he pictured himself safe in the quarters at the abandoned mines He won dered what his chums had thought concerning his disappearance. Slowly the night wore away, and at the first streak of dawn Dave arose on the seat of the row boat and took another look around. He had been right about the stone buildings in the distance. They were located half way up the wooded side of a hill and were evidently some ancient castle. Up and down the stream he noted several vil lages and towns, but they were all a goodly dis-

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264 DAVE PORTER'S WAR HONORS tance away. Near him seemed to be nothing but the brushwood and trees with some farm lands behind them. As soon as it became light enough to do so, Dave set to work to push the rowboat still further in among the bushes until it was completely hid den. Then he began a closer inspection of the craft, having noticed that it contained two small lockers, one at the bow and the other under the stern seat. In the bow locker was a small amount of fishing tackle, and this he examined with care. If I can't find anything else to eat, maybe I can catch a few fish," he thought. "Although how I am going to cook them without being no ticed, I don't know." From the bow locker our hero turned to that under the stern seat, and here a pleasant surprise awaited him. The locker contained a bundle rolled up in a raincoat, such as he had seen the German soldiers occasionally wearing. "That will help me disguise myself," he reasoned with satisfaction. And there, too, is a hat to go with it. Good enough I The bundle was done up in an old newspaper tied with a cord; and, this, our hero brought forth several links of smoked bologna, a loaf of fresh bread, and a covered dish filled with potato salad. It may be surmised that Dave lost no time in

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DEEP IN THE WOODS 265 supplying himself with an early morning meal, washing it down with a drink from the river. The bologna, although rather highly seasoned, proved to be quite palatable, and the bread was much better than he had seen since becoming a prisoner. The potato salad, too, was very good, even though smelling quite strongly of onions. "Not exactly like the Waldorf-Astoria in New York or the Parker House in Boston, but it's plenty good enough for a hungry fellow like me, and I'm mighty thankful that I've found such food," was what he told himself, as he proceeded to make himself at home. With nothing to do, Dave took his time over the meal, and after he had finished he put away what was left of the food with great care. It may have to last me for several days," he thought. By the time the young lieutenant had finished the repast the sun had come up full and clear and it was growing much warmer. This being so, he disrobed and hung his clothing on the nearby bushes to dry, in the meantime covering himself with the raincoat. By the middle of the afternoon Dave had be come pretty well rested and his clothing was thor oughly dry. Dressing himself once more, he put on the raincoat and the hat he had found and took up one of the rifles and also the package of food.

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266 DAVE PORTER'S WAR HONORS As he did not wish to burden himself with the second firearm, he unloaded this, placing the extra shells in his pocket. "Now I'm pretty well fixed," he thought. "I've got on a German raincoat and hat and I've got a loaded rifle with some extra ammunition, and also some food. If I can't manage to get along on that I'm no good." But though the young lieutenant told himself these things, he realized that he was in a pre carious pos1t10n. He was in the enemy's country, and should they discover him they would most likely shoot him down on sight. "Having been captured once, I'll be worse off than ever," he mused. "I've certainly got to watch things closely." He had already made up his mind in what direc tion he intended to travel. That was away from the river and up to the top of the hill which lay to the westward. "The fighting front must be in that direction," he told himself. But I guess it is a long way off, otherwise I'd hear the booming of the artil lery." With the bundle tied by a fishline over his shoulder, and with his gun ready for use, the young lieutenant left the vicinity of the rowboat and toiled slowly and painfully along through the

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DEEP IN THE WOODS 267 brushwood and then among the trees leading to the top of the hill. He had thus progressed about a hundred yards when he came out on a footpath which presently led into an old wood road, evi dently used by the foresters of that vicinity. An hour of hard trudging brought Dave at last to the top of the hill. As he advanced he heard a low rumble in the distance which gradually in creased in intensity. It's the artillery, all right enough I he told himself with satisfaction. I can't be so very far from the fighting front after all. I must have come farther on that freight-train than I imag ined." Getting to the very top of the hill, Dave took a careful look around, and, having assured himself that no one was in that vicinity, he dropped his bundle, his rifle, and the raincoat, and commenced to climb one of the tall trees growing close by. Even when a boy on the farm Dave had been a good climber, and he went up branch after branch until he found himself at the very top of the tree. Here a grand panorama, stretching for many miles, was spread out all around him. He could see the river he had left gleaming brightly in the sunshine, and the smoke from a number of viilages and towns along its banks. But most of his at tention was fastened on the landscape to the west.

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268 DAVE PORTER'S WAR HONORS Here the rumble of the cannons had increased, and he could occasionally see a vast cloud of smoke arising and rolling southward. "That's the :fighting front, all right enough," he told himself. Now the thing of it is to get there and then to get through to our side. I won der if I can do it?" Our hero was about to descend from the tree and continue his journey when a noise below reached his ears. I am quite sure he came this way," said a voice, in German. "Then he can't be very far off, was the reply. With caution the young lieutenant peered down toward the ground and presently made out the figures of two German soldiers. They must be after somebody, and most likely they're after me," he reasoned. "If they spot me, what am I to do? Dave kept quiet for several minutes, and then heard voices in the distance. Presently three other German soldiers appeared, and then the whole five came to a halt directly under the tree in which he was hiding.

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CHAPTER XXVII WHAT DAVE'S CHUMS DID "PHIL, it doesn't look as if we were ever going to hear of Dave again." Oh, Roger, don't say anything like that l burst out Phil Lawrence. Why, it gives me a cold shiver just to think of it." "And don't you suppose it makes me feel blue? said the senator's son, seriously. "Why, last night I hardly slept a wink just thinking about Dave's disappearance." I can't help but reach the conclusion that he was captured by the Germans," put in Ben; who sat near. If it had been otherwise we would have discovered his body." "I'm not so sure about tha_t," answered the senator's son. "He may have wandered off further than we suppose. And you must remember the underbrush is yery thick in spots and conceals many openings among the rocks. He may have taken a long walk, and then have tried to get back by a short cut and lost his way. If that happened, it would be an easy thing for him to take some dangerous tumble in the dark." 2fl9

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270 DAVE PORTER'S WAR HONORS "And then remember, there are always those holes leading into the abandoned mines," came from Buster. "He may have rolled into one of those and been unable to find his way out." Oh, say, speaking of the holes leading into the mines puts me in mind of a story," began Shadow. Once there were three boys -" He stopped abruptly and looked contritely into the sober faces of his chums. Confound it, anyway I what business have I got to try to tell a story at such a time as this? Excuse me, fellows. I -I feel just as bad over this as any of you do," he added, lamely. "Speaking about holes," resumed Roger, after an awkward silence, "Phil and I examined two more of them yesterday, but got no trace whatever of Dave. That makes about the tenth time we have been out on a search." "And I have been out just as many times," came from Ben; and Buster and Shadow nodded to infer that they had done practically the same thing. Several days had passed since our hero's disap pearance, and the time had dragged heavily with his chums. Had it not been for the daily tasks assigned to them, they would have been a most miserable crowd. Even as it was, whenever they were off duty they invariably went on a hunt for their missing friend. "Have you written anything to his folks yet,

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WHAT DAVE'S CHUMS DID 271 Roger, as you spoke of doing? questioned Phil, a little later, when Shadow and Buster had left the others No, I haven't, Phil," was the slow reply. "I can't pluck up the courage to do it. What Dave's folks and the Wadsworths will say when the news reaches them is something I hate to think of." I'm with you in that," answered the ship owner's son. "I'm sure such bad news will put Jessie Wadsworth to bed "And Laura, Phil. Don't forget her. She thinks the world and all of her brother." It's too blamed bad, that's what it is! burst out Ben. Oh, I do wish we could learn what has become of him! The young engineers had been kept fairly busy, for the American army and their allies were ad vancing steadily. The Americans had had orie or two hot contests for the possession of several French villages They had driven the Germans from the outskirts, and then from the villages themselves, and finally into the woods beyond, making an advance of ten or fifteen miles all along the front. The casualties had been heavy, and as a consequence the field hospitals were crowded v .1ith the wounded. In these battles the engineers had had small part, but now they were sent once more to the front, to repair the roads and also make safe two

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272 DAVE PORTER'S WAR HONORS of the villages, work which was as interesting as it was hazardous. On the following afternoon Roger, Phil, and a number of the others found themselves in a small French village where they had been sent to clean up some of the wreckage in the main street, so that the army could use the thoroughfare for the pass age of the artillery. A battalion of infantry was located at this village, and this included the com pany to which Nat Poole and Lieutenant Gebauer belonged. Hello there is Nat Poole I remarked Phil presently, when the young soldier in question came out of one of the half-wrecked buildings in that vicinity. Let us ask him if he has seen or heard anything of Dave," returned Roger. "I don't think it will do a bit of good," remarked Ben, who was with the others. As soon as he saw his former schoolmates ap proaching, the money lender's son attempted to evade them by passing around the corner of another ruined building. But all quickened their pace and soon caught up with him. Wait a minute, Nat I called Roger. We want to talk to you." The young soldier turned a startled and haggard face toward them.

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WHAT DAVE'S CHUMS DID 273 "I don't want to talk to you fellows," he grumbled. "I want to be left alone." See here, Nat, what's got into you? ques tioned Ben, coming closer. "You look scared to death." It isn't so I cried the other quickly. "I'm not a bit scared! And I don't want you to talk to me that way, Ben Basswood I "We were only going to ask you about Dave," went on Roger. He is still missing, and I wanted to know if you had heard anything at all of him." "Not a thing." Nat's face began to show greater alarm. "I want you fellows to leave me alone I You act just as if you thought I had some thing to do with Dave Porter's disappearance." Perhaps you did have something to do with it I cried Phil, struck by a sudden idea. Has Lieutenant Gebauer seen him? '' ques tioned Roger. I don't know, but -er -I don't think so," added Nat falteringly. "Why don't you ask him and find out for yourself? " I will," said the senator's son. "Where is he?" Humph! don't ask me." Something in Nat's manner caused his former schoolmates further surprise. Evidently he had

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274 DAVE PORTER'S WAR HONORS something on 4is mind which he did not wish to have leak out. Isn't Lieutenant Gebauer here? questioned Ben. "No." Why not? Was he shot or captured? queried Phil. "No, he wasn't shot or captured," grumbled the money lender's son. "He has lost his com mission and been sent to the rear, if you must know! he flared out. You don't say! burst out Roger and Phil simultaneously. Here was news indeed. What caused it, Nat? He must have done something awful to have such a thing happen to him," remarked Ben. They said it was for cowardice in the face of the enemy. I don't know anything about it, because I wasn't with our company at the time. I ate something that didn't agree with me and was on the sick list." Who made the charge against Gebauer? asked Roger, quickly. The major of our battalion. He was as mad as a hornet. Some one said he threatened to shoot the lieutenant. It seems Gebauer gave some sort of an order for the men to retreat when everybody wanted to advance. I guess he was ter ribly scared. Anyway, he started to run, and that

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WHAT DAVE'S CHUMS DID 275 threw all the men into confusion until the top ser geant came along and rallied our boys and sent them ahead again. It was a fierce mix-up, and Gebauer got it not only from the major, but also from the captain and some of the other officers of the regiment. Then they took him to head quarters, and the next thing I knew he had been sent to the rear." Well, that sure is a come-down for Gebauer," murmured Phil. "Gee I I wouldn't have that happen to me for the world." He'll be disgraced for the rest of his life," added Ben. I guess the best thing you can do, Nat, is to steer clear of such cattle," said the senator's son. No one will ever want to forgive a fellow who was a coward in the face of the enemy." "Oh, I'm done with Gebauer; so you don't have to preach to me about that," growled the money lender's son sourly. I found out what he was quite some time ago." And then, after a few more words, Nat Poole marched away from the others, looking anything but happy. "He acts as if he had something on his mind," was the way Ben expressed himself. Probably he is very much upset over the way Gebauer acted," returned Phil. "The pair were quite chummy, if you'll remember." There was something about that Gebauer I

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276 DAVE PORTER'S WAR HONORS never liked," said Roger slowly. "He always made me think of a snake in the grass. I've got half a notion that he was a pro-German. Maybe his cowardice was all put on. He may have just been acting that way trying to help the enemy to a victory." 11 Gosh I If that's so, he ought to be exposed I cried Ben. 11 Probably he has been exposed. They wouldn't send him to the rear for nothing." The next day the battle was on again in all its fury. The Americans advanced through one of the villages, and then up a long hillside leading to some new positions which the Germans had fortified. There was much for both the infantry and the artillery to do, and the bombardment by the small and big guns kept up night and day, until the ground fairly trembled with the concussions. There was much for the engineers to do, and Roger and his chums worked for sixteen hours, scarcely stopping to eat. They had a road to cut through one of the forests, and had also to build several small bridges. It was highly dangerous work, and more than once a bomb exploded close to them, sending the dirt and rocks flying in every direction. Once Shadow went down, struck in the head, and some of the others had to carry him to the rear. He

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WHAT DAVE'S CHUMS DID 277 was not dangerously wounded, however, for which he was thankful. In the midst of the work by the engineers, some of the infantry advanced once more. This embraced the company to which Nat Poole belonged, and a iittle later came another bombardment by the Germans which sent the trees and brushwood flying in all directions, so that that section of the forest became little less than an inferno. Gee, but this is getting hot I ejaculated Phil, after a bomb had exploded close in front of them, sending sticks of wood, rocks, and a shower of dirt flying in all directions. The engineers were ordered to move to the right, making their way as best they could through a tangle of brushwood. Roger and Phil were side by side when they heard a sudden yell for help. That sounds like Nat Poole's voice I ex claimed Roger, and started on a run for the spot whence the cry proceeded. Phil followed his chum, and Ben came close be hind the pair. Soon all three reached a point where a shell had cut off two trees about five feet up from the ground. The trunks of the tree had come down with a tremendous crash one on top of the other, and both were lying in a tangle of brush wood.

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278 DAVE PORTER'S WAR HONORS Help, help I was the cry, and now the chums felt certain it came from the money lender's son. Soon they reached the vicinity of the fallen trees. Here the jumble of tree limbs and brushwood was so thick they could scarcely see into it. From the midst continued to come the cry for help. Is that you, Nat? called out Roger. "Yes, yes I Save me I Save me I screamed the money lender's son. "These trees are chok ing the life out of me! Fortunately, Roger and Ben were armed with axes, while Phil carried a crowbar. Worming their way in among the tangle of brushwood and branches, they presently came to the place where Nat lay. He was flat on his back with the weight of one of the trees resting heavily upon his stomach. "We'll have to chop him loose," said Phil, after a hasty survey of the situation. They saw that it would be practically impossible for them to raise up that mass of fallen timber. With the roar of battle raging all around them, the young engineers set to work with the axes, and in less than ten minutes had chopped away two of the tree limbs. Then another was pried to one side by Ben and Phil, and while this was done Roger dragged the inoney lender's son to a safe position. Nat was so weak he could scarcely stand, and

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WHAT DAVE'S CHUMS DID 279 Roger and Ben supported him as they led the way out of the tangle. Then they fell in with several soldiers belonging to Nat's company. "You had better take charge of this fellow," said Roger to one of the men. I don't know how badly he has been hurt. A couple of trees came down on top of him." My stomach is smashed I groaned Nat dole fully. I know I'll never be able to walk straight again I am done for l And then, as a sudden twinge of pain seized him, he went on with a sob: I knew it l I knew I would have to suffer I I had no right to do what I did l Oh, what shall I do? What shall I do? And then, suddenly throwing up both hands, Nat Poole fell in a dead faint.

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CHAPTER XXVIII THE GERMAN HEADQUARTERS SCARCELY daring to breathe, Dave kept him self near the top of the tree, doing what he could to hide from the observation of the five German soldiers below. He knew that they most likely had discovered the raincoat, the package of food, and the rifle he had left at the foot of the tree; and that being so, they would take it for granted that he could not be far away. He heard the five soldiers talking earnestly, and also heard them tear open the package of food he had been c arrying. "Ha! he lives pretty high," was the comment of one of the soldiers. Smoked bologna and potato salad I Very good I I think, comrades, we can dispose of this in short order." We certainly can," returned another soldier, and the five, who were evidently hungry, lost no time in disposing of what remained of the food. Making no noise, Dave succeeded in lowering himself to one of the larger limbs of the tree. Then, as the soldiers continued tp talk and eat, 28o

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THE GERMAN HEADQUARTERS 281 having thrown themselves on the ground for that purpose, he worked his way out on the limb until he was almost to the end. Below him he could make out a mass of brush wood and also several rocks. These partly screened the spot where he might land from the trunk of the tree. But the distance to the ground was all of fifteen feet, and our hero was by no means sure that he could make the drop in safety. If he sprained an ankle or injured his foot, it would be all up with him. But I've got to take some chances," he mur mured to himself. I don't intend to go back to one of their prison pens. Besides, having escaped once, it may be that they would shoot me on sight." He gave himself a moment more of thought, and then, gritting his teeth, suddenly swung out to the end of the limb and let his body drop. As he came swiftly down he heard a yell of sur prise from one of the soldiers. Then all leaped up, grabbing their weapons as they did so. Fortunately for our hero, he came down in some of the brushwood, and this broke his fall to :;uch an extent that he was not injured save for a few scratches. Having landed, he leaped out of the bushes and then sped through the woods at the best rate of speed he could command. Crack! Crack I went one rifle after another, and the bullets whistled uncomfortably close to him.

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282 DAVE PORTER'S WAR HONORS However, he was not struck, and soon the brushwood and the trees screened him so com pletely that further shooting was out of the ques tion. But Dave knew the German soldiers must be after him, and he kept on running until he was well-nigh exhausted. He was going downhill at the time, and he had to be careful that he did not pitch headlong over some of the rough rocks which cropped out here and there on the hillside. At the foot of the hill ran a small brook, and here he paused long enough to get a drink. Then he walked along through the brook for quite a distance, doing this that he might hide any trail that he had left behind. He had heard that the enemy occasionally used hounds in getting on the track of escaped prisoners. Beyond the hill and the brook was a wide valley dotted with numerous farms. Here the country was more or less open, and he wondered how he could make another advance. He moved along the brook, and presently came to an old stone bridge, over which ran a fairly good highway. One side of the bridge was hidden in a mass of bushes, and here the young lieutenant found a fairly good hiding-place. From this he did not dare to venture until darkness had fallen, in the meantime keeping his eyes and ears wide open for the possible appearance of the soldiers who had.

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THE GERMAN HEADQUARTERS 283 discovered him. But they did not come that way, and he at last concluded that he must have thrown them off the trail. It was probably nine o'clock in the evening when Dave resolved to resume his journey westward. He crawled out on the roadway just as a farmer came along driving a box-wagon loaded with barrels. I wonder if I dare chance a ride?" he said to himself; and then, as the back of the passed him, he made a quick leap, landing between several barrels. He wormed his way in between the barrels, finally coming to a sitting position well hidden from the farmer, who sat on the front seat driving. Two hours passed, and in that time the wagon covered a distance of at least twelve miles. The valley with its farms was left behind, and they were beginning to ascend a slight rise of ground. Here there was another patch of woods. During the ride Dave discovered that one of the barrels in the wagon contained apples and an other pears, and he appropriated as much of this fruit as he wished to eat. Get up there, you I cried the farmer in Ger man to his team. We'll soon be there now, and I'll be glad of it. This has been a long drive." Dave could see that they were approaching some sort of an estate, and from the words of the

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484 DAVE PORTER'S WAR HONORS farmer concluded that a stop was to be made there. Consequently, he thought it about time for him to leave the wagon, and lost no time in doing so. This move was a fortunate one for our hero, because less than two minutes later the wagon turned in at a massive stone gateway where several men were on guard. Seeing the lights flashing in the darkness and the figures of some men moving along, Dave lost no time in dropping out of sight into the woods on the opposite side of the road. Well, I'm about twelve miles nearer the fight ing front, anyway," he reasoned. I suppose from now on I've got to be doubly careful as to how I advance." With the coming of nightfall the rumble of battle had died away. But from the sounds of the last shots fired, he had reached the conclusion that the fighting front could not be any great dis tance off. As the young lieutenant hid in the woods oppo site the gateway he heard a sound on the road from the westward, and presently several German officers on horseback came riding along. They were talking earnestly, and turned into the same gate which the farmer had used. "Hello I maybe that's some sort of head quarters," Dave 'murmured to himself. "If it is, I had better watch out for myself. They must have guards all around here."

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THE GERMAN HEADQUARTERS 285 It would have been the part of prudence for our hero to have placed as much distance as possible between himself and such a place. But the young lieutenant had not only the bravery of the average American soldier, but he had likewise his share of curiosity, and now that he was so close to these German officers he wondered how they were carry ing on the conduct of the war. I'd like to spy on them a little and see just how they do it," he told himself. "Gracious I what a story it will be to tell if ever I get back I His curiosity finally got the better of him, and, watching his opportunity, he slipped across the road again and then climbed the stone fence of the estate. He knew he was taking a tremendous chance, for there might not only be soldiers in that vicinity, but the owner of the place might have a number of watch-dogs. Looking ahead through the trees and brush wood, the :;oung lieutenant presently made out a large stone-pile, evidently an ancient German castle. All was dark from the outside save the light which peered from around the cracks of dark curtains pulled down over the windows. But as the night was warm, most of the windows were open and the air blowing would occasionally shift a curtain so that a look inside could be obtained. There seemed to be no soldiers on that side of the building, so our hero had little difficulty in

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286 DAVE PORTER'S WAR HONORS making his way forward until he was within a short distance of the castle. He could hear loud and earnest talking coming from probably six or eight officers. They were gathered in a room not far from where he was standing, and when the wind raised the curtain of one of the windows for a few seconds, Dave saw that they were seated around a large table containing a number of maps and documents. And you think the Crown Prince will be here to-night? questioned one of the officers presently. "That's what he said, Captain Baska," was the reply. "I doubt if he will agree to this plan," came from another officer. "Probably he will have a plan of his own," he added, rather sourly. The discussion continued, the officers in the meantime consulting the maps and some of the documents which lay before them. All were smoking and to let in some fresh air, one of the curtains of a window was raised several inches. Presently there was a commotion at the front of the castle, and a moment later an under officer came into the room somewhat out of breath. The Crown Prince he announced. Instantly all of the officers in the room arose to their feet and left the apartment, evidently intending to greet the German Crown Prince at the entrance to the castle.

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THE GERMAN HEADQUARTERS 287 Peering under the curtain into the room, Dave saw that the apartment was empty. The table where the officers had sat was less than two feet away, and on it still rested the maps and the docu ments they had been consulting. It was an opportunity too good to be lost. Though he was running a tremendous risk, Dave raised the curtain to the window a trifle higher, threw his body over the window sill, and stretched out his hands toward the table. With a quick move he gathered in the maps and the documents, rolled them into a bundle, and pulled them toward him. Then he dropped from the window again, pulled down the curtain, and ran with all possible speed toward the rear of the castle. Now if they catch me they'll kill me sure," he thought. But they are not going to catch me if I can possibly help it." He rolled the maps and the documents still tighter, and thrust them into an inside pocket, but toning his coat tightly over them. Then he con tinued on his way until he reached the stone fence, over which he climbed with little difficulty. Fortunately for the young lieutenant, the night was clear, so that when his eyes became accus tomed to the semi-darkness he managed to progress fairly well. He stumbled on and on until he reached the roadway once more, and then headed westward as before. He listened for an alarm

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288 DAVE PORTER'S WAR HONORS from the castle, but strange to say it did not come. "I guess they haven't gone back to that room yet," he thought. Well, I hope they don't go back until I'm a long distance away." He kept to the highway for about two miles further, and then, reaching the outskirts of a small village, turned slightly to the northward. Here there was another patch of woods, and into this he plunged, finally reaching a place where he thought it would be safe to sit down and make up his mind what to do next. Dave had rested a quarter of an hour when suddenly he heard a noise about a hundred yards further within the wood. Then, of a sudden, came a roar which almost deafened him. This roar was followed by others, until the very ground under him seemed to tremble. He leaped to his feet, and with good reason. With that opening roar came a discovery which interested him tremendously. He had reached the vicinity of the fighting front without knowing it. Directly in front of him was one of the Ger man batteries, and it was now in full action.

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CHAPTER XXIX THE LAST FIGHT THEY must be getting ready for an advance, or else they are trying to hold back the advance of our own men." Such was the thought of the young lieutenant as the German battery continued to pound away with unusual vigor. The bombing soon covered a distance of many miles, showing that a move of some sort was either taking place or was contemplated. Maybe if there is a real battle it will give me a chance to get through the lines," Dave reasoned. and his heart gave a bound of hope. If he could only get through quickly and reach headquarters, perhaps the maps and documents he had con fiscated from the enemy might : prove of great value to the Americans. Climbing a tree, our hero surveyed the situa tion as well as the semi-darkness permitted. He could see numerous flashes of fire from the great German guns along a line which stretched out as far as his eye could reach. The young lieutenant knew he would be run ning a tremendous risk to attempt to pass through 28g

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290 DAVE PORTER'S WAR HONORS that line, and yet he felt he must undertake to do this if he was to escape at all. He descended from the tree, and with great caution moved slowly through the brushwood, making sure of every step that was in front of him. Once or twice he thought he was coming upon a German guard, but these alarms proved false, and he con tinued on his way with as great caution as before. As he advanced he presently made out the forms of a small body of men moving across a corner of a field in the direction of a patch of timber much mutilated by artillery fire. Even at that distance and in such a dim light, he felt sure that the mov ing men were Germans. "It's a night raid of some sort," he reasoned. "Maybe they are going over to see if they can't get hold of some Americans and make them pris oners. Probably they want some information and that is the only way they can get it." Hardly knowing why he was doing it, Dave fol lowed the Germans until he saw them disappear among the trees of the wood. Then he came to a hole, and just as some star shells flamed forth, lighting up the scene, he dropped down into this. For several seconds the light in the hole was quite distinct, and during that time our hero made a discovery that shocked him. A German lay in the hole, holding his rifle in his hands as if ready to use the weapon instantly.

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THE LAST FIGHT 291 With a quick leap Dave sprang for this man, taking him completely by surprise. The fellow struggled to rise, but the young lieutenant held him down, and at the same time made a quick grab for the gun, tearing it from the German's grasp. "Kamerad! Kamerad!" yelled the German, when Dave turned the weapon around and pointed it at his head. "Kamerad!" he repeated, and at the same time both of his hands went high into the air. Quiet! ordered Dave in German, and the fellow understood and kept still. Then our hero made the man turn around in the hole and, watch ing him carefully, deprived the fell ow of his ammunition. With the gun and the bayonet ready for use, our hero felt somewhat relieved. If attacked, he would now have a chance to defend himself. With the dying out of the star shells the dark ness again settled over that vicinity. Dave ordered the man to move out of the shell hole, and then told him to march on, keeping his hands up as before. The fellow walked with a slight limp, showing that he had either been wounded or had hurt himself. Knowing that the body of Germans he had seen must still be in the wood, Dave gave that vicinity a wide berth, moving somewhat to the

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292 DAVE PORTER'S WAR HONORS This presently brought him to another small strip of wood. And then the unexpected happened. As if by magic fully a dozen Germans leaped up from where they had been concealed. All pointed their guns at him, but not a shot was fired, for, as he had surmised, several detachments were out in an endeavor to obtain prisoners from whom they expected to elicit much-needed information. The young lieutenant's fighting blood was up. He had no desire to go back to a German prison, and the instant the enemy showed themselves, he began to blaze away with his rifle, running at top speed for the shelter of the wood as he did so. He had the satisfaction of seeing one of the Ger mans go down, and a second quickly followed. Then came the discharge of several of the enemy's firearms, and Dave felt a hot flash of pain through his right side. I'm shot I They've got me I was the thought that flashed through his mind, and yet he did not stop, but continued to run and to use his gun. After him, but at a distance, came the Germans, determined to make him a prisoner or shoot him down. Stop I came the sudden cry from in front of our hero, and he saw several soldiers rise up from the brushwood, all leveling their rifles at him. Hands up I

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THE LAST FIGHT 293 Are you Americans? questioned Dave quickly, for the darkness was too intense for him to distinguish what they were. You bet l was the laconic response. Who are you?" Dave told them, advancing as he did so. And then he added quickly: There are about a dozen or fifteen German soldiers after me some kind of raiding party." "That's the party we are after," was the quick reply, from a captain who was commanding the Americans. Boys, are you ready to round them up?,, We sure are was the ready response. Can you show us just where those fellows are? questioned the captain of Dave. I can I They were after me just a minute ago. They must be lying low in yonder brush wood. If you had a few hand-grenades you could get every one of them." We'd rather surround them and take them as prisoners," returned the captain. "I think I've got just the men here to do it." He had about thirty-five men with him, all of whom had volunteered for the night expedition. He quickly explained what was wanted, and then the men spread out, one party going to the right and the other to the left of where the Germans had last been seen.

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294 DAVE PORTER'S WAR HONORS Can't I go along, Captain? questioned Dave eagerly. I had one prisoner a few minutes ago, but those fellows stole him away from me." Of cour .se you can go if you want to: Lieu tenant," was the captain s reply. "I reckon you are spoiling for a fight just as we are," he con tinued. He was a Southern military man and well-known for his daring. The Americans advanced quickly but with caution, and before they knew it the Germans found themselves cut off in the rear. They put up a short and stiff fight, in which one of their men was killed and three were wounded, and then they surrendered. In this contest Dave distinguished himself by bringing down one of the enemy and also in re capturing the German who had a little while be fore gotten away from him All of the prisoners were rounded up, disarmed, and made to march toward the American lines. While this was being done Dave staggered over to the side of the American captain. I've been wounded in the side, Captain," he said. I don't believe it's very serious, but at the same time I am feeling rather weak. I have important maps and documents with me which I stole from the German headquarters. I wish to get these to our headquarters just as quickly as possible. Will you help me to do it?

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THE LAST FIGHT 295 "I certainly will, Lieutenant," was the ready response. Do you want me to send some of the men to headquarters with the documents or do you want to go yourself? If you would rather go yourself, I'll send a couple of men to assist you." "I think I'd rather go myself," answered Dave, with a faint grin. But I'll have to fix up my wound first." With a first-aid kit the slight wound in Dave's side was taken care of temporarily, and then, in company with two of the soldiers, the young lieu tenant tramped off in the direction of the Amer ican field headquarters. He had previously learned that the engineering unit to which he was attached was located several miles away. Fortunately the distance to headquarters was not great, and the young lieutenant and those with him arrived there at midnight. Dave was about all in, yet he managed to make his report and de liver the maps and documents he had taken from the German headquarters. This is certainly fine work, Lieutenant Porter," said one of the commanding officers, who was in charge. Very fine work indeed I These maps and documents may prove of great impor tance." "I hope so, sir. That is why I took them," answered the young lieutenant in an unsteady voice. Then, of a sudden, all seemed to grow black be-

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296 DAVE PORTER'S WAR HONORS fore his eyes and he staggered and would have fallen had not some of those around supported him. This strain has been too much for you, Lieu tenant," said another of the officers kindly. "I think we had better turn you over to one of our doctors immediately." And this was done, and Dave was given the best of medical attention. Then he was fed and put to bed, and in a short while was in sound slumber. This was in one of the dugouts, where he was safe from the bombard ment, which still continued. Early on the following morning another ad vance was made by the Americans. This was due in part to the maps and documents which Dave had brought in and which proved the weakness of the Germans at one point on the line. This point was carried a few hours later by our troops; and then followed a general advance which con tinued almost uninterruptedly for three days "We've got 'em on the run I" was the cry of the Americans, and it proved true. The Germans were practically beaten, although they were still holding out as well as they possibly could, hoping in the meantime that their rulers might make some satisfactory terms with those who opposed them. It was a rather pale and weak Lieutenant Porter who entered the camp of the engineers just as the fierce three days' fighting had come to an end.

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THE LAST FIGHT 297 He had already sent in word over a field telephone that he was alive and was coming, so that his chums were not as much surprised as they would otherwise have been. Yet they hailed his advent with great joy. "It's the best news yet, Dave I cried Roger, grabbing him around the waist. The very best yet I "You can't imagine how bad we felt when we thought the Germans had killed you," put in Phil. We went on all sorts of hunts for you," added Ben. But, of course, we didn't find you, and we couldn't imagine what had become of you." I suppose you don't know yet how I happened to be missing," said our hero. It's a long story, but I'll tell it to you just as soon as I've rested." "We know something of the truth," answered Roger, and a stern look crossed his face. We know who assaulted you and rolled you down into the abandoned mine." You do I excla imed Dave, in surprise. "That's more than I know! Who did it? "Max Gebauer and Nat Poole."

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CHAPTER XXX CAPTAIN DAVID PORTER-CONCLUSION "GEBAUER and Poole I You don't mean it!" exclaimed the young lieutenant. But I do mean it," answered the senator's son. They are the ones who attacked you and rolled you down one of the shafts of the mines. It's a great wonder you weren't killed." But how did you learn of this, Roger? "It's a pretty long story, Dave; and as you look: rather weak, perhaps you had better sit down while I tell it." Roger and the others led the way to where our hero could be made comfortable, and there, while he was treated to some refreshments, they gave him many of the particulars of. what had occurred during his absence. "I guess I had better tell you about Max Ge bauer first," said the senator's son. "During one of the advances of our army, he acted in a most disgraceful manner, urging a part of his company to retreat. They saw no good reason for doing it, and a sergeant led them in the advance. For 298

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CAPTAIN DAVID PORTER 299 this Gebauer was accused of cowardice in the face of the enemy." "Phew I that's rather a serious charge." But that isn't the worst of it I broke in Phil. Do you remember the German prisoner who saw Gebauer and talked to him the fellow you afterwards interviewed? "I do." Well, it seems Gebauer visited that fellow while he was at a prisoners' camp, and the two got into a regular row. This, of course, was before Gebauer showed his so-called cowardice. Well, the secret service men made an investi gation and discovered that Gebauer and this prisoner had once been in a questionable business deal in Germany. Gebauer was wanted there for swindling several people, and this chap had been bought off to keep silent, but had never received a large part of the money promised to him by Ge bauer. Then the American authorities dipped deeper into the matter, and I understand they have now come to the conclusion that Gebauer's coward ice was largely put on, and that he was in a plan with some German sympathizers to play into the enemy's hands. As a consequence Lieutenant Max Gebauer, pro-German, is now languishing in a military prison." "And you can bet he isn't a lieutenant any more I declared Ben.

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300 DAVE PORTER'S WAR HONORS Well, that explains some things, but it doesn't explain how you learned that he and Nat Poole attacked me," said Dave. "Of course, I imag ined it might be them, but I wasn't sure. I really didn't think they would go so far." Nat says he was dragged into it. But, of course, that may be all talk. Nat always did like to squirm out of a tight place," went on Roger. He then related how the money lender's son had been in the great fight and almost lost his life. His injuries had necessitated his being sent to the hospital, and there, while in a fever, he had con tinually spoken about Dave and of the attack on the young lieutenant. He went on so awfully that the nurse notified one of the doctors, and he in turn called in an army officer. In his rational moments Nat was closely questioned, and in the end he broke down and made a complete confession. He said that he wanted to get square with you for the way he had been treated, but he had not imagined that Gebauer would go so far. He had struck you once, but it was only a light blow, and Gebauer had given you the crack that almost finished you. And he insisted that it was Gebauer who rolled you into the opening of the mine. He said he was scared at this, and remonstrated, but Gebauer would not listen to him. He even made a search for your body, but, of course, did

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CAPTAIN DAVID PORTER 301 not find it. He said he was terribly worried, and I shouldn't wonder but what that was so." It was a dastardly thing to do I declared Dave. And I am glad that both Gebauer and Nat have been caught. I guess each of them will get what is coming to him without my making any charge against them." I don't know about that, Dave. Perhaps you'll have to see headquarters on that point," answered Roger. Of course all the others were glad to see our hero. Captain Obray came up to shake hands, and so did Frank Andrews and a number of the other figP.ting engineers. All had their stories to tell, and all praised Dave greatly for what he had accomplished at the German headquarters and during the fight when he was trying to get back to the American lines. "The authorities won't forget you for what you have done," said Captain Obray. It was simply great, and I congratulate you with all my heart." The captain himself had done some wonderful work during the last great advance by the Ameri cans, leading a wire-cutting detachment in person over a stretch of territory where the bullets and shrapnel were flying freely. For this the captain received special mention and was, later on, ad vanced to the position of major of engineers. Dave, of course, had been reported as missing,

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302 DAVE PORTER'S WAR HONORS but now his name was placed back on the roll. He lost no time in sending long letters to the folks at home, acquainting them with what had taken place. Awaiting him was a bunch of letters from his father and his sister, as well as from Jessie, and these, my readers may rest assured, he read with great eagerness. "Dear, dear folks at home I he murmured to himself, after he had read one of Jessie's letters a second time. How glad I am that this war is almost over. I'll be miglity glad to get back to them once more I And now let us pass over a period of some months and then bring this tale of Dave Porter's war activities to an end. As our hero had remarked, the war was almost over. Deserted by her allies and beaten back on the fields of battle, Germany could hold out no longer, and so begged for an armistice, which, when granted, was so severe in its terms that its acceptance was equal to Germany's complete sur render. She gave up her entire navy, the second largest in the world, abandoned all the territory she had invaded, and in addition allowed the United States and the Allies to occupy a large portion of her own country along the Rhine. It's a complete collapse," was the way Dave

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CAPTAIN DAVID PORTER 303 expressed himself when this had taken place; and the young lieutenant was right. The signing of the armistice was followed some time later by the opening of the real peace negotiations. And while all these things were taking place something to make ou,r hero's heart bound with pleasure. He was cited for special bravery in obtaining the maps and the documents from the German field headquarters, and also for his daring in the fight which had followed during his endeavor to get back to the American lines. For these deeds he was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, and a little later obtained a com mission as a full-fledged captain of engineers. Dave, I congratulate you I cried Roger, when he heard this news. "And so do I," added Phil. "And you de serve it, Dave, indeed you do! It ma);: be added here that our hero was not the only one to obtain promotion. For their heroic work in road building and in cutting wire entangle ments under heavy fire, both Roger and Phil were given medals and made lieutenants, while Ben be came a sergeant and Shadow and Buster corporals. And now I've got to congratulate you fel lows," said Dave to Roger, Phil, and the others. I tell you, old Oak Hall can be proud of this bunch I" That's what I answered Phil.

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304 DAVE PORTER'S WAR HONORS "What a shame Nat Poole had to act the way he did," said Ben. "He's the one bad egg in the basket." It may be added here that later on, when he had recovered from his illness, Nat Poole was dis honorably discharged from the army, and went back home a sadder if not a wiser young man. Max Gebauer was tried for his various misdeeds, and found guilty and sentenced to a long term in prison. I hope Nat has learned his lesson and turns over a new leaf after this," remarked Dave, on hearing this news. In spite of what he has done against me, I bear him no ill will." Later still he heard that Nat had obtained a position as a travel ing salesman for a hardware house and was doing his best to make good in that capacity. It was a great day for the young engineers when they set sail for home. Other engineering units had come to France and were at the front, and it was felt that those who had gone through so many thrilling experiences had done all that could be asked of them. Home, sweet home, for me I sang out Phil. I never did think America could mean so much to me I" "It's the best of all the places in which to live," answered Dave. The very best I The home-coming was one long to be remem-

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CAPTAIN DAVID PORTER 305 bered. Jessie was at the depot to greet Dave, and as soon as he alighted from the train she fairly rushed into his arms. "Oh, I hope you never have to go to another war, Dave never I she cried, as he held her close. Well, I'm hoping, Jessie, that this war will prove to be the last one," he answered. Roger, as well as Ben, had come on to Crumville with Dave, and the greeting the senator's son re ceived from Laura was equally cordial, while Ben was not forgotten by his folks and the others. Dave kissed his sister several times and shook hands with his father and his Uncle Dunston, and all finally got into the two Wadsworth automobiles and drove to the mansion. Here Mrs. Wadsworth awaited them, and kissed Dave over and over again, and Mr. Wads worth shook hands heartily. And there, too, was old Caspar Potts, his eyes full of a kindly sym pathy which could not be mistaken. "My Davy! My Davy!" he murmured over and over again. I knew you would do it I Oh, Davy, how proud I am of you I "And just to think it's Captain David Porter now! cried Uncle Dunston. "Some pumpkins for this family, I do declare I " And Lieutenant Morr -don't forget that I added Laura, her face beaming.

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306 DAVE PORTER'S WAR HONORS "And it's Lieutenant Lawrence, too,'' said Roger. Why didn't he come along? questioned Mr. Porter. Oh, he had a date with Belle Endicott. She and her folks came all the way from Montana to New York City to greet him." That night there was a great celebration at the Wadsworth mansion, many friends dropping in to greet Dave and Roger and congratulate them on their promotions. Of course, the young captain and the young lieutenant were in their new forms and Dave even wore a new wrist watch his father gave him to replace the one lost in France, and if Jessie and Laura felt very proud of their fiances, who can blame them? The young engineers had to tell the particulars of many of the things which had happened to them during the war and had even to show some of the scars which had been inflicted. Oh, Dave, I am so very thankful that you didn't come back minus an arm or a leg! cried Jessie. "I'm so very, very thankful I After this whenever I meet a soldier who has been crippled I shall treat him with the greatest consideration, for now I understand a little of what he must have endured." Yes, Jessie, they will deserve all the considera tion you can give them," the young captain an-

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CAPTAIN DAVID PORTER 307 swered gravely. "They are the real heroes the fellows who will have to endure long after the shouting and the excitement have died out." Some time later there was another gala affair at the Wadsworth mansion. This was the occasion of a double wedding, when the beautiful Jessie Wadsworth became the bride of Captain David Porter and the bewitching Laura Porter paired off with Lieutenant Roger Morr. At this double wedding Lieutenant Philip Law rence was the best man for Dave, and Sergeant Benjamin Basswood was the best man for Roger. Among the bridesmaids was Belle Endicott, who had come all the way from her home in the West to be present. There was also present a large contingent from Oak Hall, including Doctor Clay, the master, and Andrew Dale, his head assistant. Of course Buster Beggs and Shadow Hamilton were on hand, as were also Luke Watson, Sam Day, Bertram Vane, and some others of the old crowd. The gifts to the brides were both numerous and costly, and both couples received the heartiest con gratulations of all present. "We've got to do likewise pretty soon, Belle," whispered Phil to the girl from Montana, and at this she blushed and smiled. It was not long after that when this couple was also married, a host of

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308 DAVE PORTER'S WAR HONORS their friends, including Dave and Roger and their wives, being present. Dave and Jessie had already decided on where they were going to live. Mr. Porter had pur chased for them a beautiful house and grounds not far from the Wadsworth mansion, and here they set up housekeeping and were very happy. Laura and Roger went to the old Morr home stead to live, the senator and his wife at that time spending practically all their time in Washington. Phil and Belle went to reside in Philadelphia, where the young shipping master had most of his interests. For Dave and Jessie and all their friends the future looked very rosy; anq here we will leave them and say good-bye. THE END

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DAVE PORTER SERIES By EDWARD STRATEMEYER "Mr. Stratemeyer has seldom introduced a more popular hero than Dave . He is a manly, brave, alwayi< ready for a good time if it can be obtained man honorable way."-Wisto# sin, Milwaukee, Wis. "Edward Stratemeyer's Dave Porter' has become exceedingly popular."-Boston Globe. "Dave and his friends are nice, manly chaps."-Ti11taDnnocrat, New Orleans. DAVE PORTER AT OAK HALL Or The School Daya of an American 801' DAVE PORTER IN THE SOUTH SEAS Or The Strange Cruiae of the Stormy Petrel DAVE PORTER'S RETURN TO SCHOOL Or Winning the Medal of Honor DAVE PORTER IN THE FAR NORTH Or The Pluck of an American Schoolbof DAVE PORTER AND HIS CLASSMATES Or For the Honor of Oak Hall DA VE PORTER AT STAR RANCH Or The Cowboy's Secret DAVE PORTER AND HIS RIVALS Or The Chuma and F oe1 of Ode Hall DA VE PORTER ON CAVE ISLAND Or A Schoolboy's Mysterious Minion DAVE PORTER AND THE RUNAWAYS Or Last Daya at Oak Hall DA VE PORTER IN THE GOLD FIELDS Or The Search for the Landslide Mine DAVE PORTER AT BEAR CAMP Or The Wild Man of Mirror Lake DAVE PORTER AND HIS DOUBLE Or The Diaappe;>.rance of the Basswood Fortune DAVE PORTER'S GREAT SEARCH Or The Perils of a Young Civil .Engineer DAVE PORTER UNDER FIRE Or A Young Army Engineer in France DA VE PORTER'S WAR HONORS Or At the Front with the Fighting Engmeen For sale by ail booksellers, OT sent poatpald on reeelp1i of price by the publishers Lothrov. & Co. Boston


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