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Chapter 23

JIMMIE HIGGINS MEETS THE HUN

I

The six motor-cyclists leaped on to their machines and went chugging down the road. Of course they raced one another; all motor-cyclists always race--and here was the best of all possible excuses, the French army in dire need of them, several of its precious cycle-units wiped out or captured! They tore along, dodging in and out between trucks and automobiles, ambulances and artillery caissons, horse-wagons and mule-wagons, achieving again and again those hair's-breadth escapes which are the joy in life of every normal motor-cyclist. Now and then, when things were too slow, they would try a crawl in the ditches, or push their machines over the ploughed fields. So it happened that Jimmie found himself competing with his red-headed Irish enemy; there was a narrow opening between two stalled vehicles, and Jimmie made it by the width of his hand, and vaulted on to his machine and darted away, free and exulting--his own boss! He shoved in the juice and made time, you bet; no "mick" was going to catch up and shout orders at him!

There were long trains of refugees streaming back from the battle-fields; pitiful peasant-people with horse-carts and dog-carts and even wheelbarrows, toothless old men and women trudging alongside, children and babies stuck in amidst bedding and furniture and saucepans and bird-cages. This was war, as the common people saw it; but Jimmie could not stop now to think about it--Jimmie was on his way to the front! There were big observation balloons up over his head, looking like huge grey elephants with broad ears; there were aeroplanes whirring about, performing incredible acrobatic feats, and spraying each other with showers of steel; but Jimmie had no time for a single glance at these marvels--Jimmie was on his way to the front!

He swept around a curve, and there directly in front of him was a hole in the middle of the road, as big as if a steam-shovel had been working for a week. Jimmie clapped on the brakes, and swerved sideways, missing a tree and plunging into a cabbage patch. He got off and said, "Gee!" once or twice; and suddenly it was as if he were whacked on the side of the ear with a twelve-inch board--the whole world about him turned into a vast roar of sound, and a mountain of grey smoke leaped into being in front of him. Jimmie stared, and saw out of a little clump of bushes a long black object thrust itself out, like the snout of a gigantic tapir from some prehistoric age. It was a ten-inch gun, coming back from its recoil; and Jimmie, smelling its fumes, struggled back to the road with his machine, before the monster should speak again and stifle him entirely.

There was a frame-house in the distance, and in front of it a barnyard, and sheds with thatched roofs. There came a scream, exactly like the siren of Hook and Ladder Company Number One that used to go tearing about the streets in Leesville, U.S.A; a light flashed in one of the sheds, and everything disappeared in a burst of smoke, which spread itself in the air like a huge duster made from turkey feathers. There came another shriek, a little nearer, and the ground rose in a huge black mushroom, which boiled and writhed like the clouds of an advancing thunderstorm. Boom! Boom! Two vast, all-pervading roars came to Jimmie's ears; and his knees began to quake. By heck! He was under fire! He looked ahead; there must be Germans just up there! Was a fellow supposed to ride on without knowing?

There was a big battle on, that much was certain; but the uproar was so distributed that one could hardly tell whether it was in front or behind. However, the transport was steadily advancing--horse-wagons, mule-wagons, motor-wagons, all plodding patiently, paying no heed to the shell-bursts. And then Jimmie took a look behind, and saw that infernal red-headed Orangeman! He imagined a raucous voice, shouting: "C'mon here! Whatcher waitin' fer?" Jimmie bounced on to his machine and turned her loose!

He came to a place where something had hit a load of ammunition, and there were pieces of a wagon and a driver scattered about; it was a horrible mess, but Jimmie passed it without much emotion--his whole soul was centred on beating Pat Cullen into "Chatty Terry"! He came to the outskirts of a village, and there was a peasant's cottage with the roof blown off, and a smell fresh out of the infernal regions, and a terrified old woman standing by the road side with two terrified children clinging to her skirts. Jimmy stopped his machine and shouted: "Chatty Terry?" When the old woman did not answer quickly, he shouted again: "Chatty Terry? Chatty Terry? Don't you understand French? Chatty Terry?" The old woman apparently did not understand French.

He rode up the street of the village, and came to a military policeman directing traffic at a crossing. This fellow understood English, and said: "Chatty Terry? Eet ees taken!" And when Jimmie stood dismayed, wondering what he was to do now, the policeman told him that headquarters had been shifted to this village--it was in the chateau; he did not say "chatty", so Jimmie did not understand his kind of English. But Jimmie rode as directed, and came to a place with iron gates in front, and a big garden, and a sentry in front, and a bustle of coming and going, so he knew that he had reached his destination, and had beaten his Irish enemy!

II

Jimmie's pass was in duplicate French and English, so the sentry could read it, and signed him to pass in. At the door of the chateau he showed the paper again, and a French officer in the hall-way espied him, and exclaimed, "A cyclist? Mon Dieu!" He half-ran Jimmie into another room, where another officer sat at a big table with a chart spread out on it, and innumerable filing cabinets on the walls. "Un courier Americain!" he exclaimed.

"Only one?" asked the officer, in English.

"Five more's comin'," said Jimmie quickly. He hated Pat Cullen like the devil, but he wouldn't have any French officer think that Pat would lie down on his job. "The road's cut up, an' there's lots o' traffic. I come as fast--"

"See!" interrupted the officer--not quite as polite as Frenchmen are supposed to be. "This packet contains maps, which we make from aeroplane-photographs--you comprehend? It is for the artillerist--"

The officer paused for a moment; there came a deafening crash outside, and the window of the room collapsed and something grazed Jimmie's face.

"Voila!" remarked the officer. "The enemy draws nearer. Our wires are cut; we send couriers, but they perhaps do not arrive; it needs that we send many--what you say?--duplicates. You comprehend?"

"Sure!" said Jimmie.

"It is most urgent; the battle depends upon it--the war, it may be. You comprehend?"

"Sure!" said Jimmie again.

"You are brave, mon garcon?"

Jimmie did not reply so promptly to that; but the officer was too tactful to wait. Instead, he asked, "You know French?" And when Jimmie shook his head: "It needs that you learn. Say this: Botteree Normb Cott. Try it, if it pleases you: Botteree Normb Cott."

Jimmie, stammering like a schoolboy, tried; the officer made him repeat the sounds, assuring him gravely that he need have no doubts whatever; if he would make those precise sounds, any Frenchman would know what he was looking for. He was to take the main road east from the village and ride till he came to a fork; then he was to bear to the right, and when he came to the edge of a dense wood, he was to take the path to the left, and then say to everybody he met: "Botteree Normb Cott!"

"Is it that you have a weapon?" inquired the officer; and when Jimmie answered no, he pressed a button, and spoke quick words to an orderly, who came running with an automatic revolver and a belt, which Jimmie proceeded to strap upon him with thrills, half of delighted pride and half of anguished terror. "You will say to the men of the botteree that the Americans come soon to the rescue. You will find them, my brave American?" The officer spoke as if to a son whom he dearly loved; and Jimmie, who had never received an order in that tone of voice, reciprocated the affection, and clenched his hands suddenly and answered, "I'll do my best, sir." He turned to leave the room, when whom should he see coming in--Mike Cullen! Jimmie gave him a wink and a grin, and hustled outside and leaped upon his machine.

III

And now here was the little machinist from Leesville, U.S.A., flying down the battered street of this French village with something like a mid-western cyclone going on in his head. They say that a drowning man remembers everything that ever happened in his life; perhaps that was not true of Jimmie, but certainly he remembered every pacifist argument he had ever heard in his life. For the love of Mike, what was this he had let himself in for? Bound for the spot where the whole German army was trying to break through--upon an errand the most dangerous of any in the war! How in the name of Karl Marx and the whole revolutionary hierarchy had he managed to get himself into such a pickle? He, Jimmie Higgins, Bolshevik and wobbly!

And he was going through with it! He was going to throw his life away--just because he had started--because he had pledged himself--because he was carrying maps which might enable a "botteree" to win the war! Did he really care that much about this infernal capitalist war? So cried out the proletarian demons in the soul of Jimmie Higgins; and meantime the engine hammered and chugged, and a miraculous power in the depths of his subconsciousness moved the handle-bars so that he dodged shell-holes and grazed automobiles.

The air was full of the scream of shells and the clatter of their bursting, an infernal din out of which he could hardly pick individual sounds. The road ahead was less crowded; the vehicles had left it, spreading out to one side or the other. How much farther ahead was that fork? And suppose the Germans had got there, and had captured "Botteree Normb Cott"--was he going to present them with a brand new motor-cycle in addition? There were other "botterees" which he passed; why couldn't he give them the maps? Jimmie rode on, raging inwardly. If he had been a dispatch rider he would have known all about this, but he was only a repair man, and they had had no business to put such a job off on him!

There were woods about him now, the trees smashed up by shells, and Jimmie considered it the part of prudence to get off his machine and steal forward and peer out to see if there were Germans in the opening beyond. And suddenly his knees gave way, because of the fright he was in, with all this deadly racket. He became violently sick at his stomach, and began to act as he had acted on the first three days of his ocean passage from New York. At the same time all the other functions of his body began to operate. A group of Frenchmen passing by burst into hilarious laughter; it was ridiculous and humiliating, but Jimmie was powerless to help it--he wasn't cut out for a soldier, he hadn't agreed to be a soldier, they had had no business sending him up here where vast craters of shell-holes were opening in the ground, and whole trees were being lifted out of the earth, and the air was full of a stink which might require a gas-mask or might not--how was poor Jimmie to tell?

IV

He mastered the awful trembling of his knees and the grotesque efforts of his body to get rid of everything inside him, and got on his machine again and stole ahead. He could only go a few rods at a time, because the road was so cut up. Should he leave the machine and run for it? Or should he go back and tell them their infernal maps were all wrong, there was no fork in the road? No--for there at last was the fork, and after Jimmie had ridden and run a hundred yards farther, there was a wheat-field, and a line of woods, and at the edge of it four guns belching flame and smoke and racket. Jimmie stood his machine in a ditch and went tearing across the fields, wild with relief, because he had found his "Botteree Normb Cott", and could hand over his precious packet and get out of this mess as fast as two wheels would take him.

But to his dismay he found that it wasn't the French battery, it was an American battery; the French battery was farther ahead, and a little to the right; the officer gave directions, taking it entirely for granted that Jimmie would go on to his goal.

But then came another officer. "What have you got there?" And when Jimmie answered maps, he demanded them; he seemed as greedy for maps as a child for his gifts on Christmas morning. He ripped open the packet--what is called "cutting red tape" in the army--and spread out the papers and began to call out figures to another officer who sat on a camp stool at a little folding table, with many sheets of figures in front of him. This officer went on noting down the information--and the men at the guns went on shoving in shells and stepping back while the screaming messengers were hurled upon their way. In the rear were other men, wheeling up ammunition, unloading one of the big camions which Jimmie had been dodging on the roads. It was a regular factory, set up there in the middle of the fields, dispatching destruction to the unseen foe.

"We're having the hell of a time," remarked the officer, as he folded up the maps again and handed them to Jimmie. "Our wires have been cut three times in the last half-hour, and we have to shoot blind."

"Where are the Germans?" asked Jimmie.

"Somewhere up ahead there."

"Have you seen them?"

"Good Lord, no! We hope to move before they're that near!"

Jimmie felt a bit reassured by the quiet, business-like demeanour of all the men in this death-factory. If they could stand the racket, no doubt he could; only, they were all together, while he had to go off by himself. Jimmie wished he had enlisted in the artillery!

He shoved the maps into the inside pocket of his jacket, and chased back to his machine and set out. He took a side-path as directed, and then a wood-road--and then he got lost. That was all there was to it--he was hopelessly lost! The path didn't behave at all as the one he was looking for. It went through a long stretch of woods with shattered trees lying this way and that; then it crossed a field of grain, and then it plunged down into a ravine, and climbed to the other side, and up a ridge and down again. "Hell!" said Jimmie to himself. And if you could imagine all the noises in all the boiler-factories in America, you would have something less than the racket in that wood through which Jimmie was wandering, saying "Hell!" to himself.

V

He got to the top of the ridge, puffing and panting and dripping perspiration; and there suddenly he jumped from his machine and ran with it behind a tree-trunk and stood anxiously peering out. There were men ahead; and what sort of men? Jimmie tried to remember the pictures of Germans he had seen, and did they look like this? The air was full of smoke, which made it hard to decide; but gradually Jimmie made out one group, dragging a machine-gun on wheels; they placed it behind a ridge of ground, and began to shoot in the direction of Germany. So Jimmie advanced, but with hesitation, not wanting to interfere with the aiming of the gun, which was making a noise like a riveting machine, only faster and louder. It had a big round cylinder for a barrel, and the men were feeding it with long strips of cartridges out of a box, and were so intent on the process that they paid no attention whatever to Jimmie. He stood and stared, spellbound. For these creatures seemed not men, but hairy monsters out of caves-ragged, plastered with mud, grimed and smoke-blackened, with their faces drawn, their teeth shining like the teeth of angry dogs. Jimmie forgot all about the enemy, he saw only this roaring, flame-vomiting machine and the men who were a part of it.

Suddenly one of the men leaped up, a little hairier and a little blacker than the rest, and shouted, "Ah derry-air! Ah derry-air!" And the gun stopped roaring and vomiting flame, and the men laid hold and began to tug and strain to draw it back. The leader continued exhorting them; until suddenly an amazing thing happened--right in the midst of his shouting, the whole of his mouth and lower jaw disappeared. You did not see what became of it--it just vanished into nothingness, and there in the place of it was a red cavern, running blood. The man stood with his startled eyes shining white in his black and hairy face, and gurgling noises coming out--as if he thought he was still shouting, or could if he tried harder.

The others paid not the least attention to this episode; they continued tugging at the gun. And would you believe it, the man with no mouth and jaw fell to helping again! The wheels struck a rise in the ground, and he waved his hands in impotent excitement, and then rushed at Jimmie, exposing to the horrified little machinist the full ghastliness of that red cavern running blood.

Jimmie tried his magic formula: "Botteree Normb Cott." But the man waved his hands frantically and grabbed Jimmie by the arm--the very incarnation of that Monster of Militarism which the little machinist had been dodging for four years! He pushed Jimmie towards the gun, and the other men shouted: "Asseestay!" So of course there was nothing for Jimmie to do but lay hold and tug with the rest.

Presently they got the wheels to moving, and rolled the thing up the ridge. A wagon came bumping through the woods, and the men at the gun gave a gasp which was meant to be a cheer, and one of them laid hold of Jimmie again, crying: "Portay! Portay!" He dragged out a heavy box and loaded it into Jimmie's arms and carried another himself, and so in a few moments the machine-gun was drumming, and Jimmie went on carrying boxes. The men who were driving the wagon leaped upon the horses and drove away; and still Jimmie carried boxes, blindly, desperately. Was it because he was afraid of the little French demon who was shouting at him? No, not exactly, because when he went back with a box he saw the little demon suddenly double up like a jack-knife and fall forward. He did not make a sound, he did not even kick; he lay with his face in the dirt and leaves--and Jimmie ran back for another box.

VI

He did it because he understood that the Germans were coming. He had not seen them; but when the gun fell silent he heard whining sounds in the air, as if from a litter of elephantine puppies. Sometimes the twigs of trees fell on him, the dirt in front of him flew up into his face; and always, of course, everywhere about him was that roar of bursting shells which he had come to accept as a natural part of life. And suddenly another man went down, and another--there were only two left, and one of them signalled to Jimmie what to do, and Jimmie did not say a word, he just went to work and learned to run a machine-gun by the method favoured by modern educators--by doing.

Presently the man who was aiming the gun clapped his hand to his forehead and fell backwards. Jimmie was at his side, and the gun was shooting--so what more natural than for Jimmie to move into position and look along the sights? It was a fact that he had never aimed any sort of gun in his life before; but he was apt with machinery--and disposed to meddle into things, as we know.

Jimmie looked along the sights; and suddenly it seemed as if the line of distant woods leaped into life, the bushes vomiting grey figures which ran forward, and fell down, and then leaped up and ran and fell down again. "Eel vienn!" hissed the man at Jimmie's side. So Jimmie moved the gun here and there, pointing it wherever he saw the grey figures.

Did he kill any Germans? He was never entirely sure in his own mind; always the idea pursued him that may be he had been making a fool of himself, shooting bullets into the ground or up into the air--and the poilus at his side thinking he must know all about it, because he was one of those wonderful Americans who had come across the seas to save la belle France! The Germans kept falling, but that proved nothing, for that was the method of their advance, anyway, and Jimmie had no time to count and see how many fell and how many got up again. All he knew was that they kept coming--more and more of them, and nearer and nearer, and the Frenchmen muttered curses, and the gun hammered and roared, until the barrel grew so hot that it burned. And then suddenly it stopped dead!

"Sockray!" cried the two Frenchmen, and began frantically working to take the gun to pieces; but before they had worked a minute one of them clapped his hand to his side and fell back with a cry, and a second later Jimmie felt a frightful blow on his left arm, and when he tried to lift it and see what was wrong, half of it hung loose, and blood ran out of his sleeve!

VII

That was too much for the remaining Frenchman. He caught Jimmie by the other arm, exclaiming "Vennay! Vennay!" Apparently that meant to run away; Jimmie didn't want to run away, but the Frenchman chattered so fast, and tugged so hard, and Jimmie was half-dazed anyhow with pain, so he let himself be dragged back. And presently they came to a dead soldier lying with a gun by his side, and the Frenchman grabbed the gun and unstrapped the cartridge belt, and then threw himself down behind a big rock. Jimmie remembered the automatic which he had strapped at his waist; he held it out to the Frenchman, shaking his head and saying, "No savvy! No work!"--as if he thought the Frenchman would understand bad English better than good English! But the Frenchman understood the head-shaking, and showed Jimmie how to move the little catch which released the trigger for firing. With hasty fingers he tore off the sleeve of Jimmie's shirt, and bound up his arm tightly with a bandage from his kit; then he raised up over the rock and cursed the sockray Bosh and began to fire. Jimmie got up the nerve to peer out, and there were the grey figures, much nearer now, and he knew they were Germans because they were like the pictures he had seen. They were running at him, firing as they came, and Jimmie fired his revolver, shutting his eyes because he was scared of it. But then, finding that it behaved all right, he fired again, and this time he did not close his eyes, because he saw a big German running straight towards him, the fury of battle in his face. It was plain what this German meant to do--to leap on Jimmie with his sharp bayonet; and somehow Jimmie never once thought of his pacifist arguments--he fired, and saw the German fall, and was murderously glad at the sight.

There were shots from behind him; apparently there had been a lot of Frenchmen hidden in these woods, and the enemy was not finding it easy to advance. Jimmie's companion jumped up and ran again, and Jimmie followed, and a hundred yards or so back they came to a shell-hole with half a dozen poilus in it. Jimmy tumbled in, and the men chattered at him, and gave him more cartridges, so that when the Germans appeared again he did his part. A bullet took a lump of hair off his temple, and shrapnel exploding near by almost split his ear-drums; but still he went on shooting. His heart was really in the job now, he was going to stop these Bosh or bust. With five Frenchmen, two of them wounded, he held the shell-hole for an hour; one of them ran back and staggered up with a supply of ammunition, and loaded up a rifle for Jimmie, and laid it so that he could manage it with one hand. So Jimmie went on shooting, half-dead, half-blind, half-choked with powder smoke.

The sockray Bosh made another charge, and this was the end, every man in the shell-hole knew. There were literally swarms of the grey figures, their bullets came like a shower of hail. Jimmie decided to wait till the enemy was near enough for him to aim the revolver with effect. He crouched, watching a Frenchman with the life-blood oozing out of a hole in his chest; then he raised up and emptied his automatic, and still there were Germans rushing on.

Jimmie was so very tired now, he really did not care very much what happened; he knelt in the hole, looking up, and suddenly he saw the huge figure of a German looming above him, his rifle poised. Jimmie closed his eyes and waited for the blow, and suddenly the German came down with a crash on top of him.

Jimmie thought for sure he must be dead; he lay wondering, was this immortality? But it did not seem like either heaven or hell as he had imagined them, and gradually he realized that the German was writhing and moaning. Jimmie wriggled from under, and looked up, just in time to see another German loom over the shell-hole and pitch forward and hit on his face.

It was evident that somebody farther back was attending to these Germans; so Jimmie lay still, with a feeble flicker of hope in his heart. The rattle of shots went on, a battle that lasted ten or fifteen minutes, but Jimmie was too tired to peer out and see how matters were going. Presently he heard someone running up behind him, and he looked around and up, and saw two men jump into the shell-hole. He took one glance, and his heart leaped. The doughboys!

VIII

Yes, sir, there were two doughboys in the shell-hole! Jimmie had seen so many tens of thousands of them that he had no doubt. Compared with the war-battered poilus, they were like soldiers out of a fashion-plate: smooth-shaven, with long chins and thin lips, and a thousand other details which made you realize that home was home, and better than any other place in the world. And oh, the beautiful business-like precision of these fashion-plate soldiers! They never said a word, they never even glanced about; they just threw themselves down at the edge of the shell-hole, and leaned their rifles over and set to work. You didn't need to see--you could tell from the look on these men's faces that they were hitting something!

Presently came two more, leaping in. Without so much as as a nod of greeting, they settled down and went to shooting; and when they had used up most of their cartridges, one of them got up and shouted to the rear, and there came a man running with a fresh supply in a big pouch.

Later on came three more with rifles. Apparently there were not so many Germans now, for these new-comers found time for words. "They told us to hold a line back there," said one. "But hell!"

"There's more Huns up ahead," said another. "Let's get 'em."

"Just as well now as later," said a third.

"You stay behind and get that finger tied up," said the first speaker; but the other told him to go and get his own fingers tied up.

Then one of them looked about and spied Jimmie. "Why, here's a Yank!" he cried. "What you doin' here?"

Jimmie answered: "I'm a motor-cycle man, and they sent me with maps for a battery, but I think it's been captured long ago."

"You're wounded," said the other.

"It ain't much," said Jimmie, apologetically. "It was a long time ago, anyhow."

"Well, you go back," said the doughboy. "We're here now--it'll be all right." He said it, not boastingly, but as a simple matter of fact. He was a mere boy, a rosy-cheeked kid with a little ugly pug-nose covered with freckles, and a wide, grinning mouth. But to Jimmie he seemed just the loveliest boy that had ever come out of the U.S.A. "Can you walk?" he asked.

"Sure!" said Jimmie.

"And these Frenchies?" The doughboy looked at the others. "You savvy their lingo?" When Jimmie shook his head, he turned to the battle-worn hairy ones. "You fellows go back," he said. "We don't need you now." When they stared uncomprehending, he asked: "Polly voo Francy?"

"We, we!" cried they in one voice.

"Well, then," said the doughboy, "go back! Go home! Toot sweet! Have sleep! Rest! We lick 'em Heinies!" As the poilus did not show much grasp of this kind of "Francy", the doughboy boosted them to their feet, pointed to the rear, patted them on the back, and grinned with his wide mouth. "Good boy! Go home! American! American!"--as if that was enough to make clear that the work of France in this war was done! The poilus looked over the top of the shell-hole, and saw a swarm of those new fashion-plate soldiers, darting forward through the woods, throwing themselves down and shooting at the sockray Bosh. They looked at the rosy-cheeked boy with the grateful faces of dogs, and shouldered their packs and rifles and set out for the rear, helping Jimmie, who suddenly found himself very weak, and with a splitting headache.

IX

These doughboys had a song that Jimmie had heard all the time: "The Yanks are coming!" And now the song needed to be rewritten: "The Yanks are here!" All these woods through which Jimmie had blundered with his motor-cycle were now swarming with nice, new, clean-shaven, freshly-tailored soldier-boys, turned loose to get their first chance at the Hun. Four years they had been reading about him and hating him, a year and a half they had been getting ready to hit him--and now at last they were turned loose and told to go to it! Back on the roads was an endless procession of motor-trucks, with doughboys, and also marines, or "leather-necks", as they were called. They had started at four o'clock that morning, and ridden all day packed in like sardines; and here, a mile or two back in the woods, the trucks had come to a halt, and the sardines had jumped out and gone into this war!

Jimmie did not realize till long afterwards what a world-drama he had been witnessing. For four months the Beast had been driving at Paris; irresistibly, incessantly, eating his way like a forest fire, spreading ever wider and more fearful desolation--this Beast with the Brains of an Engineer! The world had shuddered and held its breath, knowing that if he got to Paris it would mean the end of the war, and of all things that free men value. And now here he made his last supreme rush, and the French lines wavered and cracked and gave way; and so in this desperate crisis they had brought up the truck-loads of doughboys for their first real test against the Beast.

The orders had been to hold at all hazards; but that had not been enough for the doughboys, they and the leather-necks had seized the offensive and sent the Germans reeling back. The very pride of the Prussian army had been worsted by these new troops from overseas, at whom they had mocked, whose very existence they had scouted.

It was a blow from which "Fritz" never recovered; he never gained another foot, and it was the beginning of a retreat that did not stop until it reached the Rhine. And the Yanks had done it--the Yanks, with the help of Jimmie Higgins! For Jimmie had got there first; Jimmie had held the fort while the Yanks were coming! Yes, truly; if he hadn't stuck by that machine-gun and helped to work it, if he hadn't hid in that shell-hole, emptying the contents of a rifle and an automatic pistol into the charging Huns, if he hadn't held them up that precious hour--why, they might have swept over this position, and the Yanks might not have had a chance to deploy, and the victory of "Chatty Terry" might not have gone resounding down the ages! The whole course of the world's history might have been different, if one little Socialist machinist from Leesville, U.S.A., had not chanced to be wandering through "Bellow Wood" in search of a fabulous and never-discovered "Botteree Normb Cott!"

Upton Sinclair

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