Air service boys in the.., p.2
Air Service Boys in the Big Battle; Or, Silencing the Big Guns, p.2E. J. Craine
CHAPTER II. A GIRL'S APPEAL
At once half a score of hands reached out to render aid to the strickenairman, whose blood was staining the ground where he had fallen.
Tom, seeing that his fellow aviator was more desperately wounded thanthe brave man had admitted, at once summoned stretcher-bearers, and hewas carried to the hospital. Then all anxiously awaited the report ofthe surgeons, who quickly prepared to render aid to the fighter of theair.
"How is he?" asked Jack, as he and Tom, lingering near the hospital, sawone of the doctors emerge.
"He is doing very nicely," was the answer, given in French, for the twoboys of the air spoke this language now with ease, if not always withabsolute correctness.
"Then he isn't badly hurt?" asked Jack.
"No. The wound in his chest was only a flesh one, but it bledconsiderably. Two bullets from an aircraft machine gun struck ribs, andglanced off from them, but tore the flesh badly. The bleeding was heldin check by the pressure DU Boise exerted on the wounds underneathhis jacket, but at last he grew faint from loss of blood, and then thestream welled out. With rest and care he will be all right in a fewdays."
"How soon could we talk with him?" asked Tom.
"Talk with him?" asked the surgeon. "Is that necessary? He is doing verywell, and--"
"Tom means ask him some questions," explained Jack. "You see, he startedto tell us about our chum, Harry Leroy, who was out scouting with him.Harry was shot down, so Du Boise said, but he didn't get a chance togive any particulars, and we thought--"
"It will be a day or so before he will be able to talk to you," thesurgeon said. "He is very weak, and must not be disturbed."
"Well, may we talk with him just as soon as possible?" eagerly askedJack. "We want to find out where it was that Harry went down in hismachine--out of control very likely--and if we get a chance--"
"We'd like to take it out on those that shot him down!" interruptedTorn. "Du Boise must have noticed the machines that fought him andHarry, and if we could get any idea of the Boches who were in them--"
"I see," and the surgeon bowed and smiled approval of their idea. "Youwant revenge. I hope you get it. As soon as we think he is able totalk," and he nodded in the direction of the hospital, "we will let yousee him. Good luck to you, and confusion to the Huns!"
"Gee, but this is tough luck!" murmured Tom, as he and his chum turnedaway. "Just as we were getting ready to go back into the game, too! Hadit all fixed up for Harry to fly with us in a sort of a triangle schemeto down the Boches, and they have to go and plump him off the map. Well,it is tough!"
"Yes, sort of takes the fun out of the good news we heard a while ago,"agreed Jack. "I mean about Pershing's boys getting over here to France.I hope Harry's only wounded, instead of killed. But if the Huns have hima prisoner--good-night!"
"There's only one consolation," added Tom. "Their airmen are the best ofthe lot Of course that isn't saying much, but they behave a little morelike human beings than the rest of the Boche gang; and if Harry hasfallen a prisoner to them he'll get a bit of decent treatment, anyhow."
"That's so. We'll hope for that. And now let's go on with what westarted when we saw Du Boise coming back--let's see what chance we haveof being transferred to an All American escadrille."
The boys started across the field again toward the headquarters, and,nearing it, they saw, in a small motor car, a girl sitting beside themilitary driver. She was a pretty girl, and it needed only one glance toshow that she was an American.
"Hello!" exclaimed Tom, with a low whistle. "Look who's here!"
"Do you know her?" asked Jack.
"No. Wish I did, though."
Jack glanced quickly and curiously at his chum.
"Oh, you needn't think you're the only chap that has a drag with thegirls," went on Tom. "Just because Bessie Gleason--"
"Cut it out!" exclaimed Jack. "Look, she acts as though she wanted tospeak to us."
The military chauffeur had alighted from the machine and was talkingto one of the French aviation officers. Meanwhile the girl, left toherself, was looking about the big aviation field, with a look ofwonder, mixed with alarm and nervousness. She caught sight of Tom andJack, and a smile came to her face, making her, as Tom said afterward,the prettiest picture he had seen in a long while.
"You're Americans, aren't you?" began the girl, turning frankly to them."I know you are! And, oh, I'm in such trouble!"
Tom stepped ahead of Jack, who was taking off his cap and bowing.
"Let me have a show for my white alley," Tom murmured to his chum."You've got one girl."
"You win," murmured Jack.
"Yes, we're from the United States," said Tom. "But it's queer to seea girl here--from America or anywhere else. How'd you get through thelines, and what can we do for you?"
"I am looking for my brother," was the answer. "I understood he wasstationed here, and I managed to get passes to come to see him, but itwasn't easy work. I met this officer in his motor car, and he broughtme along the last stage of the journey. Can you tell me where my brotheris? His name is Harry Leroy."
Torn said afterward that he felt as though he had gone into a spinningnose dive with a Boche aviator on his tail, while Jack admitted that hefelt somewhat as he did the time his gasoline pipe was severed by a Hunbullet when he was high in the air and several miles behind the enemy'slines.
"Your--your brother!" Tom managed to mutter.
"Yes, Harry Leroy. He's from the United States, too. Perhaps you knowhim, as I notice you are both aviators. He told me if I ever got toFrance to come to see him, and he mentioned the names of two youngmen--I have them here somewhere--"
She began to search in the depths of a little leather valise shecarried, and, at that moment, the military chauffeur who had brought herto the aviation field turned to her, and spoke rapidly in French.
She understood the language, as did Tom and Jack, and at the first wordsher face went white. For the chauffeur informed her that her brother,Harry Leroy, whom she had come so far to see, was, even then, lying deador wounded within the German lines.
"Oh!" the girl murmured, her fare becoming whiter and more white."Oh--Harry!"
Then she would have fallen from the seat, only Tom leaped forward andcaught her in his arms.
And while efforts were being made to restore the girl to consciousness,may I not take this opportunity of telling my new readers something ofthe previous books of this series, so that they may read this one moreintelligently?
Torn Raymond and Jack Parmly, as related in the initial volume, "AirService Boys Flying for France; or The Young Heroes of the LafayetteEscadrille," were Virginians. Soon after the great world conflictstarted, they burned with a desire to fight on the side of freedom, andit was as aviators that they desired to help.
Accordingly they went to an aviation school in Virginia, under theauspices of the Government, and there learned the rudiments of flying.Tom's father had invented an aeroplane stabilizer, but, as told in thestory, the plans and other papers had been stolen by a German spy.
Tom and his chum resolved to get possession of the documents, and theykept up the search after they reached France and were made membersof the Lafayette Escadrille. It was in France that they met AdolphTuessing, the German spy.
The second volume, entitled "Air Service Boys Over the Enemy's Lines;or The German Spy's Secret," takes the two young men through furtheradventures. They had become acquainted on the steamer with a girl namedBessie Gleason and her mother. Carl Potzfeldt, a German sailing underfalse colors, claimed to be a friend of Bessie and her mother, but Jack,who was more than casually interested in the girl, was suspicious ofthis man. And his suspicions proved correct, for Potzfeldt had planned adaring trick.
After some strenuous happenings, in which the Air Service Boys assisted,Bessie and her mother were rescued from the clutches of Potzfeldt,and went to Paris, Mrs. Gleason engaging in Red Cross work, and Bessiehelping her as best she could.
By this time the United States had entered the great war on the side ofhumanity and democracy.
Then the world was startled by the news that a great German cannon wasfiring on Paris seventy miles away, and consternation reigned for atime. Tom and Jack had a hand in silencing the great gun, for it wasthey who discovered where it was hidden. Also in the third volume isrelated how Tom's father, who had disappeared, was found again.
The boys passed through many startling experiences with their usualbravery, so that, when the present story opens, they were taking amuch needed and well-earned rest. Mr. Raymond, having accomplished hismission, had returned to the United States.
Then, as we have seen, came the news of the arrival of the first ofPershing's forces, and with it came the sad message that Harry Leroy,the chum of Torn and Jack, had fallen behind the German lines. Andwhether he was alive now, though wounded, or was another victim of theHun machine guns, could not be told.
"Harry's sister couldn't have come at a worse time," remarked Tom, as herejoined Jack, having carried the unconscious girl to the same hospitalwhere Du Boise lay wounded.
"I should say not!" agreed Jack. "Do you really suppose she's Harry'ssister?"
"I don't see Any reason to doubt it. She said so, didn't she?"
"Oh, yes, of course. I was just wondering. Say, it's going to be toughwhen she wakes up and realizes what's happened."
"You bet it is! This has been a tough day all around, and if it wasn'tfor the good news that our boys are in France I'd feel pretty rocky. Butnow we've got all the more incentive to get busy!" exclaimed Tom.
"What do you mean?"
"I mean get our machines in fighting trim. I'm going out and get a fewGermans to make up for what they did to Harry."
"You're right! I'm with you! But what about what's her name--I meanHarry's sister?"
"I didn't hear her name. Some of the Red Cross nurses are looking afterher. They promised to let me know when she came to. We can offer to helpher, I suppose, being, as you might say, neighbors."
"Sure!" agreed Jack. "I'm with you. But let's go and--"
However they did not go at once, wherever it was that Jack was going topropose, for, at that moment, one of the Red Cross nurses attached tothe aviation hospital came to the door and beckoned to the boys.
"Miss Leroy is conscious now," was the message. "She wants to see youtwo," and the nurse smiled at them.
Tom and Jack found Miss Leroy, looking pale, but prettier than ever,sitting up in a chair. She leaned forward eagerly as they entered, and,holding out her hands, exclaimed:
"They tell me you are my brother's chums! Oh, can you not get me somenews of him? Can you not let him know that I have come so far to seehim? I am anxious! Oh, where is he?" and she looked from Tom to Jack,and then to Tom again.
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