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Army Boys in the French Trenches by Homer Randall

He's a grocer that's got the military bug


"Come

back to the asylum," one of them growled. "We've had lots of trouble to find you."

The boys stood rooted to the spot.

"You see," explained one of the men, touching his forehead significantly, "he's a grocer that's got the military bug. He thinks he's Napoleon. Come along, Napoleon."

And "Napoleon" meekly obeyed.

CHAPTER XX

SUSPICION

To paint the emotions that chased themselves over the features of the four boys would have taxed the ability of an artist. For a moment no one of them cared to look into the eyes of the others.

Tom was the first to act. He grabbed his cap in his hands, kneaded it into a ball, threw it on the ground and jumped up and down on it.

The others looked at his scowling face and the sight was too much for them. They threw themselves on the ground in convulsions of laughter. They howled. They roared. They rolled over and over, until Tom himself caught the contagion and joined in with the rest. It was a long time before any one of them was able to speak.

"Stung!" choked Bart, while tears of merriment rolled down his cheeks.

"Forward! March!" gurgled Billy. "Pound me on the back,

you fellows, or I'll have a fit."

"A grocer! Napoleon!" roared Frank. "Shades of Austerlitz and Waterloo!"

"And we fell for it!" yelled Tom. "Think of it, fellows! By the great horn spoon! We fell for it!"

They got themselves under control at last, though not without many interruptions, for again and again one of them would start to speak and go off into a peal of laughter.

"I'm as weak as a rag," gulped Billy. "I haven't laughed like this in all my life."

"It would make a hit in vaudeville," chuckled Bart. "Think of us sillies stalking along and going through shadow motions for a nut like that. We're squirrel food, all right."

"Well, after all what could we do?" defended Frank. "We're not mind readers."

"Not even of a scrambled mind like that," interposed Billy.

"And we couldn't tell that he wasn't an officer," went on Frank, not heeding the interruption. "His uniform seemed to be all right, although a bit gaudy."

"That gives us a way out," said Bart. "We can say that we followed the uniform, not the man, and let it go at that. But, oh, boy! if the fellows of our regiment had seen us trotting along behind that lunatic, maybe they wouldn't make our life a burden."

"We'd never have heard the last of it," agreed Tom. "But what they don't know won't hurt them, and it's a safe bet that none of us will ever let out a squeak."

"It's lucky there wasn't any moving picture man handy," laughed Frank. "He'd have had a film that would put all the rest out of business. But now let's get back to the cottage after this unfortunate hike of ours."

"Say," put in Bart, as a new thought struck him, "do you think those keepers could have caught on?"


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