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Army Boys in the French Trenches by Homer Randall

The fellow that Rabig was guarding


They

turned and ran at full speed and were soon in the midst of an excited group gathered about the hut.

"What's up?" asked Frank of one of the soldiers.

"Prisoner escaped," replied the other briefly.

"What prisoner?"

"The fellow that Rabig was guarding. Some way or other he got out, managed to strike Rabig down and skipped. Poor Rabig's pretty badly messed up."

The boys looked at each other.

"_Poor_ Rabig," repeated Tom, and there was a world of meaning in his tone.

CHAPTER X

A GHASTLY BURDEN

The sergeant of the guard came running up quickly, followed by two other officers of higher rank, and a hurried inquiry took place on the spot.

Rabig had been lifted to his feet from where he had been lying, and stood supported by two comrades. Blood was running down his face from a wound in his head. He seemed weak and dazed, although a surgeon who had been hastily summoned pronounced the wound not dangerous. He seemed to have been dealt a glancing blow, and, as in the case of all scalp wounds, the blood had flowed freely.

"Bring a seat for him," commanded the lieutenant in charge,

and the order was promptly obeyed.

"Now, Rabig," proceeded the officer, not unkindly, "tell me about this. How did you come to lose your prisoner?"

Rabig looked about him in a helpless sort of way.

"I don't know," he mumbled. "My head is swimming so that I can't remember."

"Try to think," said the officer patiently. Rabig seemed to make an effort, but did not succeed and fell back in a swoon that put an end for the present to the questioning.

"Who saw anything of this?" queried the lieutenant, looking about him. "Does any one know in what direction the prisoner went?"

"If you please, sir," said one of the sentries who had been guarding an adjacent hut, "I saw a man jump on a horse and go through the woods there, but it was getting dark and I didn't know but what it might be one of our own men. But I ran up here and found Rabig lying on the ground, and the door of the hut was open. I sent a shot after the man on horseback and so did some of the other men, but we couldn't take aim and I don't know whether we hit him or not."

"Look alive there," commanded the officer. "Sergeant, take a squad of men and beat up these woods. The fellow may be hiding there. Take him dead or alive."

"Yes, sir," replied the sergeant, saluting.

The soldiers standing by were hastily sent into the woods and others were summoned to join them. The prisoner had got a good start, but by this time the field telephones were busy all along the line and his chance of ultimate escape was by no means bright. But he was a powerful and desperate man, and if he had any weapons at all he would probably make his capture a costly one.


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