xt7bk35m9c57 https://exploreuk.uky.edu/dips/xt7bk35m9c57/data/mets.xml Altsheler, Joseph A. (Joseph Alexander), 1862-1919. 1915  books b92-172-30119820 English D. Appleton, : New York ; London : Contact the Special Collections Research Center for information regarding rights and use of this collection. World War, 1914-1918 Fiction. Hosts of the air  : the story of a quest in the Great War / by Joseph A. Altsheler ... ; illustrated by Charles Wrenn. text Hosts of the air  : the story of a quest in the Great War / by Joseph A. Altsheler ... ; illustrated by Charles Wrenn. 1915 2002 true xt7bk35m9c57 section xt7bk35m9c57 




             Th e Star
The Guns of Bull Run
The Guns of Shiloh
          The Rock of

of Gettysburg
  The Scouts of Stonewall
  The Sword of Autietam

              The GunC of Europe
The Fots of the Air    The Forest of Swords

The Young Trailers
The Forest Runners
The Free Rangers

   The Riflernen of the Ohio
   The Scouts of the Valley
   The Border Watch

            THE TEXAN SERIES
                The To, an Str
The Texan Scouts       The Texan Triumph

Apache Gold            A Soldier of Manhattan
The Quest of the Four      The Sun of Saratoga
The Last of the Chiefs     A Herald of the West
In Circling Caps       The Wilderness Road
                  My Captive

167 A


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The Hosts of the AiT










"TUB FRoTuSr oFw SwomS" sTO.







W 0 R L D


       Co"Rwwr, 1915, By

Printed in the United States of America



  "The Hosts of the Air" is the third and concluding
volume of the World War Series, of which "The Forest
of Swords" and "The Guns of Europe" were the pred-
ecessors. It deals primarily with the love story of John
Scott and Julie Lannes, but all the characters of the
earlier books reappear in this romance also.

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.   I
. 25
. 45
. 70

. 87S

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The Hosts of the Air                    Frontispiece

" Once they came to the very edge of the trench
   to be slain there "                       . 28

" 'You! You! Is it really you' she cried "   . 260

!' Now the aeroplanes flew at almost incredible speed,
   the Arrow always at their head "          .322

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                  CHAPTER I

                  THE TRENCH

 A YOUNG man was shaving. His feet rested
 JL  L  upon a broad plank embedded in mud, and
       the tiny glass in which he saw himself hung
upon a wall of raw, reeking earth. A sky, somber
and leaden, arched above him, and now and then
flakes of snow fell in the sodden trench, but John
Scott went on placidly with his task.
  The face that looked back at him had been changed
greatly in the last six months. The smoothness of
early youth was gone-for the time-and serious
lines showed about the mouth and eyes. His cheeks
were thinner and there was a slight sinking at the
temples, telling of great privations, and of dangers
endured. But the features were much stronger. The
six months had been in effect six years. The boy of
Dresden had become the man of the trenches.
  He finished, rubbed his hand over his face to
satisfy himself that the last trace of young beard and
mustache was gone, put away his shaving materials



in a little niche that he had dug with his own hands
in the wall of the trench, and turned to the English-
  "Am I all right, Carstairs" he asked.
  "You do very well. There's mud on your boots,
but I suppose you can't help it. The melting snow
in our trench makes soggy footing in spite of all we
can do. But you're trim, Scott. That new gray
uniform with the blue threads running through it
becomes you. All the Strangers are thankful for
the change. It's a great improvement over those long
blue coats and baggy red trousers."
  "But we don't have any chance to show 'em,"
said Wharton, who sat upon a small stool, reading a
novel. "Did I ever think that war would come to
this Buried while yet alive! A few feet of cold
and muddy trench in which to pass one's life! This
is an English story I'm reading. The lovely Lady
Ermnentrude and the gallant Sir Harold are walking
in the garden among the roses, and he's about to
ask her the great question. There are roses, roses,
and the deep green grass and greener oaks every-
where, with the soft English shadows coming and
going over them. The birds are singing in the boughs.
I suppose they're nightingales, but do nightingales
sing in the daytime And when I shut my book I
see only walls of raw, red earth, and a floor, likewise
of earth, but stickier and more hideous. Even the
narrow strip of sky above our heads is the color of
lead, and has nothing soft about it."
  "If you'll stand up straight," said John, "maybe


                   THE TRENCH

 you'll see the rural landscape for which you're evi-
 dently longing."
   "And catch a German bullet between the eyes!
 Not for me. While I was taking a trip down to the
 end of our line this morning I raised my head by
 chance above the edge of the trench, and quick as a
 wink a sharpshooter cut off one of my precious brown
 locks. I could have my hair trimmed that way if I
 were patient and careful enough. Ah, here comes a
 messenger !"
   They heard a roar that turned to a shriek, and
caught a fleeting glimpse of a black shadow passing
over their heads. Then a huge shell burst behind
them, and the air was filled with hissing fragments
of steel. But in their five feet of earth they were
untouched, although horrible fumes as of lyddite or
some other hideous compound assailed them.
   "This is the life," said Wharton, resuming his usual
cheerfulness. "I take back what I said about our
beautiful trench. Just now I appreciate it more than
I would the greenest and loveliest landscape in Eng-
land or all America. Oh, it's a glorious trench! A
splendid fortress for weak human flesh, finer than any
castle that was ever built !"
  "Don't be dithyrambic, Wharton," said Carstairs.
"Besides the change is too sudden. It hasn't been a
minute since you were pouring abuse upon our safe
and happy little trench."
  "It's time for the Germans to begin," said John,
looking at his watch. "We'd better lie close for the
next hour."



  They heard the shrieking of more shells and soon
the whole earth rocked with the fire of the great
guns. The hostile trenches were only a few hundred
yards in front of them, but the German batteries all
masked, or placed in pits, were much further away.
The French cannon were stationed in like fashion
behind their own trenches.
  John and his comrades, for the allotted hour,
hugged the side of the trench nearest to the Germans.
The shells from the heavy guns came at regular
intervals. Far in the rear men were killed and others
were wounded, but no fragment of steel dropped in
their trench. There was not much danger unless one of
the shells should burst almost directly over their heads,
and they were so used to these bombardments that
they paid little attention to them, except to keep close
as long as they lasted.
  Wharton resumed his novel, Carstairs, sitting on
one end of a rude wooden bench, began a game of
solitaire, and John, at the other end, gave himself
over to dreaming, which the regulated thunder of many
cannon did not disturb at all.
  It had been months now since he had parted with
Philip and Julie Lannes. He had seen Philip twice
since, but Julie not at all. When the German army
made a successful stand near the river Aisne, and
both sides went into trenches, Lannes had come in
the Arrow and, in reply to John's restrained but none
the less eager questions, had said that Julie was safe
in Paris again with her mother, Antoine Picard and
the faithful Suzanne. She had wanted to return to



the front as a Red Cross nurse, but Madame Lannes
would not let her go.
  A month later he saw Lannes again and Julie was
still in the capital, but he inferred from Philip's
words rather than his tone that she was impatient.
Thousands of French girls were at the front, attend-
ing to the wounded, and sharing hardship and danger.
John knew that Julie had a xvill like her brother's and
he believed that, in time, she would surely come again
to the battle lines.
  The thought made him smile, and he felt a light
glow pass over his face. He knew it was due to the
belief that he would see Julie once more, and yet the
trenches now extended about four hundred miles
across Northern France and Belgium. The chances
seemed a hundred to one against her arrival in the
particular trench, honored by the presence of the
Strangers, but John felt that in reality they were a
hundred to one in favor of it. He wished it so
earnestly that it must come true.
  "You're smiling, Scott," said Carstairs. "A good
honest English penny for your thoughts."
  "What do I care for money What could I do
with it if I had it, held here between walls of mud
only four feet apart"
  "At least," interrupted Wharton, "the high cost of
living is not troubling us. Next month's rent may
come from where it pleases. It doesn't bother me."
  A messenger turned the angle of the trench and
summoned John to the presence of his commander,
Captain Colton, who was about three hundred yards



away. Young Scott, stooping in order to keep his
head covered well, started down the trench. The ar-
tillery fire was at its height. The waves of air fol-
lowed one another with great violence, and the fumes
of picric acid and of other acids that he did not know
became very strong. But he scarcely noticed it. The
bombardment was all in the (lay's work, and when
the Germans ceased, the French, after a decent inter-
val, would begin their own cannonade, carried on at
equal length.
  John thought little of the fire of the guns, now
almost a regular affair like the striking of a clock,
but force of habit kept his head down and no German
sharpshooter watching in the trench opposite had a
chance at him. He advanced through a vast burrow.
Trenches ran parallel, and other trenches cut across
them. One could wander through them for miles.
Most of them were uncovered, but others had roofs,
partial or complete, of thatch or boards or canvas.
Many had little alcoves and shelves, dug out by the
patient hands of the soldiers, and these niches con-
tained their most precious belongings.
  Back of the trenches often lay great heaps of
refuse like the kitchen middens of primeval man.
Attempts at coziness had achieved a little success in
some places, but nearly everywhere the abode of bur-
rowing soldiers was raw, rank and fetid. Heavy and
hideous odors arose from the four hundred miles of
unwashed armies. Men lived amid disease, dirt and
death. Civilization built up slowly through painful
centuries had come to a sudden stop, and once more



they were savages in caves seeking to destroy one
  This, at least, was the external aspect of it, but
the flower of civilization was still sound at the stem.
When the storm was over it would grow and bloom
again amid the wreckage. French and Germans, in
the intervals of battle, were often friendly with each
other. They listened to the songs of the foe, and
sometimes at night they talked together.    John
recognized the feeling.  He knew that man at the
core had not really returned to a savage state, and
a soldier, but not a believer in war, he looked for-
ward to the time when the grass should grow again
over the vast maze of trenches.
  A shell bursting almost overhead put all such
thoughts out of his mind for the present. A hot
piece of metal shooting downward struck on the bot-
tom of the trench and lay there hissing. John stepped
over it and passed on.
  The cannonade was at its height, and he noticed
that it was heavier than usual. Perhaps the increase
of volume was due to the presence of some great digni-
tary, the Kaiser himself maybe, or the Crown Prince,
or the Chief of the General Staff. But it was only a
flitting thought. The subject did not interest him much.
  The sky was turning darker and the heavy flakes
of snow fell faster. John looked up apprehensively.
Snow now troubled him more than guns. It was
no welcome visitor in the trenches where it flooded
some of them so badly as it melted that the men
were compelled to move.



   As he walked along he was hailed by many friendly
voices. He was well known in that part of the gigantic
burrow, and the adaptable young American had be-
come a great favorite, not only with the Strangers,
but with his French comrades. Fleury, coming out
of a transverse cut, greeted him. The Savoyard had
escaped during the fighting on the Aisne, and had
rejoined the command of General Vaugirard, wounded
in the arm, but now recovered.
  "Duty" he said to John.
  "Yes. Captain Colton has sent for me, but I don't
know what he wants."
  "Don't get yourself captured again.  Twice is
  "I won't. There isn't much taking of prisoners
while both sides keep to their holes."
  Fleury disappeared in one of the earthy aisles, and
John went on, turning a little later into an aisle also,
and arriving at Captain Colton's post.
  Daniel Colton had for his own use a wooden bench
three feet long, set in an alcove dug in the clay. Some
boards and the arch of the earth formed an uncertain
shelter. An extra uniform hung against the wall of
earth, and he also had a tiny looking-glass and shav-
ing materials. He was as thin and dry as ever, ad-
dicted to the use of words of one syllable, and
sparing even with them.
  John saluted. He had a great respect and liking
for his captain.
  "Sit down," said Captain Colton, making room on
the bench.



  John sat.
  "Know well a man named Weber"
  "Yes," replied John in surprise. He had not thought
of the Alsatian in days, and yet they had been together
in some memorable moments.
  "Thought you'd say so. Been here an hour. Asks
for you. Must see you, he says."
  "I'll be glad to meet him again, sir. I've a regard
for him. We've shared some great dangers. You've
heard that he was in the armored automobile with
Carstairs, Wharton and myself that time we ran it
into the river"
  Captain Colton nodded.
  "Then we were captured and both escaped dur-
ing the fighting along the Marne. Lannes took me
away in his aeroplane, but we missed Weber. I
thought, though, that he'd get back to us, and I'm
glad, very glad that he's here."
  "See him now," said Colton, "and find out what
he wants."
  He blew a whistle, and an orderly appeared, salut-
  "Bring Weber," said the captain.
  The orderly returned wvith Weber, the two coming
from one of the narrow aisles, and John rose im-
pulsively to meet the Alsatian. But before offering
his hand Weber saluted the captain.
  "Go ahead. Tell all," said Colton briefly.
  Weber first shook John's hand warmly. Evidently
he had not been living the life of the trenches, as
he looked fresh, and his cheeks were full of color.



His gray uniform, with the blue threads through it,
wvas neat an(l clean, and his h)lack pointed beard was
trimme(l like that of a painter with money.
  "`Ve're ol1 comrades il war, Mr. Scott," he said,
'and I'm glad, very glad to find you again. You
z.nd Lannes left me rather abruptly that time near
the Marne, but it was the only thing you could do.
If by an effort of the mind I could have sent a wire-
less message to you I'd have urged you to instant
flight. I hid in the bushes, in time reached one of
our armies, and since then I've been a bearer of
dispatches along the front. I heard some time back
that you were still alive, but my duty hitherto has
kept me from seeing you. Now, it sends me to you."
  His tone, at first eager and joyous, as was fitting
in an old friend meeting an old friend, now became
very grave, and John looked at him with some ap-
prehension.  Captain Colton motioned to a small
  "Sit down," he said to Weber. Then he offered
the Alsatian a match and a cigarette which were
accepted gratefully. He made the same offer to John,
who shook his head saving that he did not smoke.
rhe captain took two or three deliberate puffs, and con-
templated Weber who had made himself comfortable
on the stool.
  "Military duty" lhe asked. "If so, Scott's concern
is my concern too."
  "That is quite true, Captain Colton," said Weber,
espectfully. "As Mr. Scott is under your command
you have a right to know what message I bring."



   "Knew you'd see it," said Colton, taking another
puff at his cigarette. "There! Germans have ceased
firing !"
   "And our men begin !" said John.
   The moment the distant German thunder ceased
the French reply, nearer at hand and more like a roll-
ing crash, began. It would continue about an hour,
that is until nightfall, unless the heavy clouds and
falling snow brought darkness much earlier than usual.
The flakes were coming faster, but the three were pro-
tected from them by the rude board shelter. John
again glanced anxiously at Weber. lie felt that his
news was of serious import.
  "I saw your friend Lieutenant Philip Lannes about
three weeks ago at a village called Catreaux, lying
sixty miles west of us," said Weber. "He had just
made a long flight from the west, where he had
observed much of the heavy fighting around Ypres,
and also had been present when the Germans made
their great effort to break through to Dunkirk and
Calais. I hear that he had more than a messenger's
share in these engagements, throwing some timely
  "Was he well when you saw him " asked John.
"He had not been hurt He had not been in any
accident "
  "He was in the best of health, hard and fit. But
his activities in the Arrowc had diminished recently.
Snow, rain, icy hail make difficulties and dangers for
aviators. But we wander. He had not heard from
his mother, Madame Lannes, or his sister, the beau-



tiful Mademoiselle Julie, for a long time, and he
seemed anxious about them."
  "He himself took Mademoiselle Julie back to Paris
iln the Arrow," said John.
  "So he told me. They arrived safely, as you know,
but Lannes was compelled to leave immediately for
thie extreme western front. The operations there were
continuous and so exacting that he has been unable
to return to Paris. He has not heard from his mother
and sister in more than two months, and his great
anxiety about them is quite natural."
  "But since the retreat of the Germans there
is no danger in Paris save from an occasional
  "No. But a few days after seeing Lannes my own
duties as a messenger carried me back to Paris, and
I took it upon myself to visit Lannes' house. I had
two objects, both I hope justifiable. I wanted to take
tb them good news of Lannes and I wanted to take
to Lannes good news of them."
  "You found them there " said John, his anxiety
showing in his tone.
  "I did. But a letter from Lannes, by good luck,
had just come through the day before. It was a
noble letter. It expressed the fine spirit of that brave
young man, a spirit universal now throughout France.
lie said the fighting had been so severe and the
wounded were so many that all Frenchwomen who
had the skill and strength to help must come to the
hospitals, where the hurt in scores of thousands were



  "Did he mention any point to which she was to
come "
  "A village just behind the fortress of Verdun. To
say that she was willing was not enough. A great
spirit, a magnificent spirit, Mr. Scott. The soul of
chivalry may dwell in the heart of a young girl. She
was eager to go. Madame, her mother, would have
gone too, but she was ill, so she remained in the
house, while the beautiful Mademoiselle Julie departed
with the great peasant, Antoine Picard, and his
daughter Suzanne."
  "Do you know how they went"
  "By rail, I think, as far as they could go, and
thence they were to travel by motor to the tiny
village of Chastel, their destination. Knowing your
interest in Mademoiselle Julie, I thought it would
not displease you to hear this. Chastel is no vast
distance from this point."
  A blush would have been visible on John's face had
he not been tanned so deeply, but he felt no resent-
ment. Captain Colton took his cigarette from his
lips and said tersely:
  "Every man likes a pretty face.    Man who
doesn't-no man at all."
  "I agree with you, Captain Colton," said Weber
heartily. "When I no longer notice a beautiful woman
I think it will be time for me to die. But I take no
liberty, sir, when I say that in all the garden of
flowers Mademoiselle Julie Lannes is the rarest and
loveliest. She is the delicate and opening rose touched
at dawn with pearly dew."



  "A  poet, Weber! A poet !" interjected Captain
  "No, sir, I but speak the truth," said Weber seri-
ously. "Mademoiselle Julie Lannes, though a young
girl but yet, promises to become the most beautiful
woman in Europe, and beauty carries with it many
privileges.  Men may have political equality, but
women can never have an equality of looks."
  "Right, Weber," said Captain Colton.
  John's pulses had begun to leap. Julie was coming
b)ack to the front, and she would not be so far away.
Some day he might see her again.     But he felt
  "Is the journey to Chastel safe, after she leaves the
railway" he asked of Weber.
  "Is anything safe now"
  "Nothing in Europe," interjected Captain Colton.
  "But I don't think Mademoiselle Lannes will incur
much danger," said Weber. "It's true, roving bands
of Uhlans or hussars sometimes pass in our rear, but
'it's likely that she and other French girls going to the
front march under strong escort."
  His tone was reassuring, but his words left John
still troubled.
  "My object in telling you of Mademoiselle Lannes'
movements, Mr. Scott," continued Weber, "was to
enable you to notify Lieutenant Lannes of her exact
location in case you should see him. Knowing your
great friendship I thought it inevitable that you two
should soon meet once more. If so, tell him that his
sister is at Chastel.  He will be glad to know of



her arrival and, work permitting, will hurry to her
   "Gladly I'll do it," said John. "I wish I could see
Philip now."
  But when he said "Philip" he was thinking of Julie,
although the bond of friendship between him and
young Lannes had not diminished one whit.
  "And now," said Weber, "with Captain Colton's
permission I'll go. My duties take me southward, and
night is coming fast."
  "And it will be dark, cold and snowy," said John,
shivering a little. "These trenches are not exactly
palace halls, but I'd rather be in them now than out
there on such a night."
  The dusk had come and the French fire was dying.
In a few more minutes it would cease entirely, and
then the French hour with the guns having matched
the German hour, the night would be without battle.
  But the silence that succeeded the thunder of the
guns was somber. In all that terrible winter John
had not seen a more forbidding night. The snow in-
creased and with it came a strong wind that reached
them despite their shelter. The muddy trenches began
to freeze lightly, but the men's feet broke through the
film of ice and they walked in an awful slush. It
seemed impossible that the earth could ever have been
green and warm and sunny, and that Death was not
always sitting at one's elbow.
  The darkness was heavy, but nevertheless as they
talked they did not dare to raise their heads above
the trenches. The German searchlights might blaze



tpon them at any moment, showing the mark for
the sharpshooters. But Captain Colton pressed his
electric torch and the three in the earthy alcove saw
one another well.
   "Will you go to Chastel yourself " asked John of
   "Not at present. I bear a message which takes me
 in the Forest of Argonne, but I shall return along
 this line in a day or two, and it may be that I can
 reach the village. If so, I shall tell Mademoiselle
 Julie and the Picards that I have seen you here, and
 perhaps I can communicate also with Lannes."
   "I thank you for your kindness in coming to tell
rre this."
   "It was no more than I should have done. I knew
you would be glad to hear, and now, with your per-
mission, Captain Colton, I'll go."
  "Take narrow, transverse trench, leading south.
Good of you to see us," said the captain of the
  The Alsatian shook hands with John and disap-
peared in the cut which led a long distance from the
front. Colton extinguished the torch and the two
sat a little while in the darkness. Although vast armies
f'aced one another along a front of four hundred
miles, little could be heard where John and his cap-
1:ain sat, save the sighing of the wind and the faint
sound made by the steady fall of the snow, which
was heaping up at their feet.
  Not a light shone in the trench. John knew that
innumerable sentinels were on guard, striving to see and



lear, but a million or two million men lay buried alive
there, while the snow drifted down continually. The
illusion that the days of primeval man had come back
was strong upon him again. They had become, in
effect, cave-dwellers once more, and their chief object
was to kill. He listened to the light swish of the
snow, and thought of the blue heights into which he
had often soared with Lannes.
  Captain Colton lighted another cigarette and it
glowed in the dark.
  "Uncanny," he said.
  "I find it more so than usual tonight," said John.
"Maybe it's the visit of Weber that makes me feel
that way, recalling to me that X was once a man, a
civilized human being who bathed regularly and who
put on clean clothes at frequent intervals."
  "Such days may come again-for some of us."
  "So they may. But it's ghastly here, holed up like
animals for the winter."
  "Comparison not fair to animals. They choose
snug dens. Warm leaves and brush all about 'em."
  "While we lie or stand in mud or snow. After
all, Captain, the animals have more sense in some
ways than we. They kill one another only for food,
while we kill because of hate or ignorance."
  "Mostly ignorance."
  "I suppose so. Hear that! It's a pleasant sound."
  "So it is. Makes me think of home."
  Some one further down the trench was playing a
mouth organ. It was merely a thin stream of sound,
but it had a soft seductive note.  The tune was



American, a popular air. It was glorified so far
away and in such terrible places, and John suddenly
grew sick for home and the pleasant people in the
sane republic beyond the seas. But he crushed the
emotion and listened in silence as the player played
  "A hundred of those little mouth-organs reached
our brigade this morning," said Colton. "Men in
the trenches must have something to lift up their
minds, and little things outside current of war will
do it."
  It was a long speech for him to make and John
felt its truth, but he atoned for it by complete silence
while they listened to many tunes, mostly American,
played on the mouth-organ. John's mind continually
went back to the great republic overseas, so safe and
so sane. While he was listening to the thin tinkle
in the dark and snowy trench his friends were going
to the great opera house in New York to hear "Aida"
or "Lohengrin" maybe. And yet he would not have
been back there. The wish did not occur to him.
Through the dark and the snow he saw the golden
hair and the deep blue eyes of Julie Lannes float
before him, and it pleased him too to think that he was
a minute part in the huge event now shaking the
  A sudden white light blazed through the snow, and
then was gone, like a flash of lightning.
  "German searchlight seeking us out," said Colton.
  "I wonder what they want," said John. "They
can't be thinking of a rush on such a night as this."



  "Don't know, but must be on guard. Better re-
turn to your station and warn everybody as you go
along. You can use your torch, but hold it low."
  As John walked back he saw by the light of his
little electric torch men sound asleep on the narrow
shelves they had dug in the side of the trench, their
feet and often a shoulder covered with the drifting
snow. Strange homes were these fitted up with the
warriors' arms and clothes, and now and then with
some pathetic little gift from home.
  He met other men on guard like himself walking
up and down the trench and also carrying similar
torches. He found Carstairs and Wharton still awake,
and occupied as they were when he had left them.
  "What was it, Scott" asked Carstairs. "Has the
British army taken Berlin"
  "No, nor has the German army taken London."
  "Good old London! I'd like to drop down on it
for a while just now."
  "They say that at night it's as black as this trench.
Zeppelins !"
  "I could find my way around it in the dark. I'd
go to the Ritz or the Carlton and order the finest
dinner for three that the most experienced chef ever
heard of. You don't know how good a dinner I
can give-if I only have the money. I invite you
both to become my guests in London as soon as this
war is over and share my gustatory triumph."
  "I accept," said John.
  "And I too," said Wharton, "though we may have
to send to Berlin for our captive host."



   "Never fear," said Carstairs. "I wasn't born to be
 taken. What did Captain Colton want with you,
 Scott, if it's no great military or state secret"
   "To see Fernand Weber, the Alsatian, whom you
must remember."
   "Of course we recall him! Didn't we take that
live in the river together But he's an elusive chap,
regular will-o'-the-wisp, messenger and spy of ours,
aind other things too, I suppose."
   "He's done me some good turns," said John.
"Been pretty handy several times when I needed a
handy man most. He brought news that Mademoiselle
Julie Lannes and her servants, the Picards, father and
daughter, are on their way to or are at Chastel, a little
village not far from here, where the French have es-
tablished a huge hospital for the wounded. She left
Paris in obedience to a letter from her brother, and
we are to tell Philip if we should happen to see him."
  "Pretty girl! Deucedly pretty!" said Carstairs.
  "I don't think the somewhat petty adjective 'pretty'
is at all adequate," said John with dignity.
  "Maybe not," said Carstairs, noticing the earnest
tone in his comrade's voice. "She's bound to become
a splendid woman. Is Weber still with the captain"
  "No, he's gone on his mission, whatever it is."
  "A fine night for travel," said Wharton sardon-
ically. "A raw wind, driving snow, pitchy darkness,
slush and everything objectionable underfoot. Yet
I'd like to be in Weber's place. A curse upon the
man who invented life in the trenches! Of all the
dirty, foul, squalid monotony it is this!"



   "You'll have to curse