"And now we'd better be getting back," suggested Jimmy, who was in charge of the prisoner squad. "The fighting may start again any minute, and we don't want to miss it."
"I should say not!" cried Bob. "Now that we can have a show for our white agate there'll be some fun in it. But to have to crouch down in a wood and let some one take pot shots at you from overhead isn't my idea of a war at all."
They were marching along a camouflaged road when they saw an American and a French machine coming down together on a level spot not far away.
"Wonder if they're in trouble?" asked Roger.
"Doesn't seem so," answered Bob. "They seem to have the planes under control. But let's go and see. Maybe we can help. They'll surely need some attention after that fierce fighting."
The two machines, one a single seater and the other a double, came to earth at the same time, and not far apart. And at the sight of two aviators getting out of the American craft Jimmy gave a yell and exclaimed:
"Well, if it isn't the Twinkle Twins! Good enough! What do you know about that, fellows? The Twinkle Twins were among those who saved our bacon this day!"
And it was, indeed, John and Gerald Twinkleton, otherwise known as Jack and Jerry, or the Twinkle Twins, who had emerged from the aeroplane.
"Well, of all good things! Look, Jerry!" dried Jack. "It's the five Brothers!"
"Sure enough! Oh, say, what are you fellows doing here?" asked Jerry.
"Same as you were--disposing of some Boches," answered Jimmy. "Are you hurt?"
"Not a scratch, though our plane was. .h.i.t a lot," said Jack. "But we ran out of gas, and had to come down here. Glad we did, too, or we'd have missed seeing you. Cousin Emile is in the same boat as ourselves.
Here he comes! He'll be glad to see you."
And from the smaller plane there emerged an aviator whose very stride across the field told what he was--a brave, intrepid man. Such was Emile Voissard, cousin of the Twinkle Twins, and right well had he earned the t.i.tle, "Flying Terror of France."
"Ah, my American friends!" exclaimed Voissard, as he came over, acknowledging the greetings he received. "I am glad to see you again.
It is good--_tres bien_!" and he smiled.
"Well, say, it was good to see you and the other Frenchmen go at those Huns!" exclaimed Bob. "If we had known the Twinkle Twins were up there among the Americans we'd have been worse scared than we were, when we saw the Germans getting the best of it."
"Ah, it is nothing. _Voila_! What would you have?" and Voissard shrugged his shoulders. "They are but beasts and they fight as the beasts--they run, too, as the beasts! _n'est ce pas_?"
"Well, two of 'em tried to run, but we landed 'em!" exclaimed Roger, with a laugh. "We just took 'em to the rear. Their petrol tank was shot full of holes."
"Was it a machine with a sort of double iron cross on it?" asked Jack.
"That was it," said Roger.
"That's the one we couldn't seem to get," went on Jack. "She was a bit too speedy for us. But it seems we got her after all."
"Or Jimmy and his bunch did", commented Jerry.
"Oh, well, it's all the same as long as they were 'got'!" and Jack clapped Jimmy on the back.
"You are keeping up your good work, I see," commented Voissard.
"France shall soon be free of the mark of the beast!"
"Well, you're doing your share, sir!" commented Roger.
"It is nothing! If I could only do a thousand times as much!" and the man who had earned such an enviable rating shook his head. "There are so many of the Huns! So many! But we shall never give up! Never!" and he drew himself up determinedly.
"But, my friends, we must not linger here," he went on. "The battle will soon start again, and the fortunes of war may turn against us. We should go and telephone for petrol, that we may take our machines back behind the lines, to safety."
"Yes, we'll have to do that," declared one of the Twinkle Twins. "See you again, boys!" and with waves of their hands they set off to find the nearest telephone, that they might send word of their plight to their hangars.
"Well, good luck!" called Jimmy and his chums to the brave Frenchman and his no less brave cousins.
"That was some coincidence--that the Twinkles and their cousin Emile should be fighting for us and we not know it," commented Roger, as the five Khaki Boys trudged back. "I should say so," agreed Bob. "Say, we'd better hurry!" he went on. "Sounds as if they were starting the game once more!"
The noise of the big and little guns was beginning again, and hardly had our heroes reached their command in the woods than the order came to go forward.
With yells of savage delight it was received, and then there came a desperate dash that carried Jimmy and his friends, as well as those with him, well up toward the German lines.
Fierce and b.l.o.o.d.y was the fighting, and there was death in it, too, for many. But ever did the Americans press on, slowly but steadily driving back the Germans. On all sides great guns roared, and ears were nearly split with the riot of sound.
When night came it found our five Brothers occupying some of the trenches so long held by the Huns, who had been driven out. It was the start of the movement that was to clean the Boches from France.
Tired, weary, blood-stained, dirty, hungry and thirsty--that was the condition of all the fighters. And yet they would be ready to do it all over again the next day, after a little rest and food. And food they had, though not of the best.
"Sergeant Barlow and Corporal Dalton take listening post number seven," the sergeant-major ordered two of the Brothers, after what pa.s.sed for supper. "Be on the alert. The Germans will very likely try a counter-attack."
Bob and Roger prepared for their dismal night trick. Franz and Iggy were sent to another part of the line, and Jimmy was on duty in the dugout, a.s.sisting the telephone operator.
The night settled down. It was comparatively quiet now in the trenches, in front of which barbed-wire entanglements had been hastily put up. The Germans had done the same, and between the stretches of wire another No Man's Land had been established.
Worn and weary, Roger and Bob waited for what they feared might happen. But as the hours pa.s.sed, and there was no sign nor movement from the German lines, they began to think there would be no fighting.
Suddenly, however, the blackness of the night was broken by the red glare of a rocket.
"What's that?" cried Bob.
"Signal of some sort," replied Roger. "Guess we'd better get on our feet. The attack may be coming."
"Shall we go back and report this?"
"No, they must have seen it as soon as we did. We're only to report if we see any of the enemy approaching this post."
They waited. Another rocket--a green one this time--soared aloft. And then with a suddenness that was startling, a terrific firing broke out from the German lines. "Here it comes--the counter-attack!" cried Bob.
As he spoke he and his companion saw a dark, ma.s.sed body moving toward them.
"Come on!" cried Bob. "We've got to report this!"
But before they had time to run back more than a few paces they were surrounded by an attacking party of Germans. On either side of Bob and Roger there was fierce fighting now going on. The two lads who had been on duty in the listening post felt themselves caught and their rifles wrested away before they had a chance to use them, and then they were dragged over toward the German trenches.
"What's it all mean?" gasped Bob.
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