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Army Boys in the French Trenches by Homer Randall

I only hope he's the only rotten apple in the barrel


"I

don't think they tumbled," Billy reassured them. "They were too intent on catching Napoleon to think of anything else."

"Poor Napoleon," chuckled Frank. "I suppose he's back on St. Helena by this time."

"Well, there's one comfort, anyway," declared Tom. "He doesn't know that he put anything over on us. If he hasn't forgotten us altogether he thinks we're part of the Old Guard."

"They say a philosopher is one who can grin when the laugh is on himself," laughed Billy. "If that's so we're dandy philosophers."

All too soon that pleasant week was over, and the boys, refreshed and rested, went away, though with many a backward glance, to the stern work where they had already won their spurs and made their mark.

They started in on their work again with renewed zest and with quickened energy, for a battle was impending and they were anxious to take their part in driving back the Hun.

They saw Rabig frequently, and though they all disliked him heartily, he was still a soldier like themselves in the service of Uncle Sam, and they strove to disguise their feeling for the good of the common cause.

"He's a bad egg, all right," declared Tom, who stuck obstinately to his belief that Rabig had had some part in the escape of the German corporal, "but as

long as we can't prove it, we'll have to give him a little more rope. But sooner or later he'll come to the end of that rope, and don't you forget it!"

Nick had come out of the court-martial that investigated the escape, not with flying colors, but with bedraggled feathers. The cut on his head had proved so slight as to arouse suspicion that it might have been self-inflicted. Still the motive for this did not seem adequate, and the upshot of the inquiry was that Rabig was confined a few days in the guardhouse and then restored to duty. But in the private books of the officers there was a black mark against him, and all of them would have been better pleased not to have had him in the regiment.

"Oh, well, don't let's talk about him," Frank summed up a discussion about the bully. "The whole subject leaves a bad taste in my mouth. I only hope he's the only rotten apple in the barrel."

"That's just the trouble'," replied Tom. "If that rotten apple isn't taken out of the barrel a good many more may be spoiled in less than no time."

"Sure enough," agreed Bart. "But I guess there isn't much danger in this case. If Nick had lots of friends that he might influence it might be different, but you notice that the fellows leave him to flock by himself."

"He's about as popular as the hives in summertime for a fact," commented Tom. "He'd be a mighty sight more at home if he were in the trenches on the other side."


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