The Guns of Europe/Chapter XIV

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The Guns of Europe by Joseph Alexander Altsheler
Chapter XIV: The German Host

JOHN was turning away from the camp fire with his friends, when he saw something drop out of the dark, and disappear in a little valley near them.

"Another of those aeroplanes," said Carstairs. "I can't get wholly used to the way they zigzag and spiral about at night like huge birds of prey. They always give me a chill, even when I know they're our own."

John had secured one good look at the machine as it swooped toward the earth, and he asked his friends to walk with him toward the improvised hangar, where it would surely be lying.

They saw a man of slender but very strong build step from the aeroplane, and throw back his visor, showing a tanned face, a somewhat aquiline nose, and eyes penetrating and powerful like those of some bird that soaring far up sees its prey on the earth below. It was an unusual, distinctive face, and the red firelight accentuated every salient characteristic.

"Lannes!" said John joyfully. "I thought it was the Arrow when I saw you descending!"

John stood in the shadow, and the young Frenchman took a step forward to see better. Then he too uttered an exclamation of gladness.

"It's Monsieur Jean the Scott, my comrade of the great battles in the air!" he said. "It was my hope rather than my expectation to find you here."

He grasped the extended hand and shook it with great warmth. Then John introduced him to his friends. Lannes and Carstairs surveyed each other a moment.

"Frenchman and Englishman have been on the same battle fields for a thousand years," said Car- stairs.

"Usually the only ones there, and fighting each other," said Lannes.

"Whichever side won, the victory was never easy."

"You are a brave* people. We French are the best witnesses of it."

"We are always slow to start. We are usually the last to reach the battle field."

"Also, usually the last to leave it."

"It seems fitting to me that the enemies of a thousand years should have exhausted all their enmity and should now be united against a common foe."

"Without you we could not win."

Lannes' wonderful eyes were sparkling. There is something deep and moving in the friendships of youth. Moreover it made a powerful appeal to his strongly-developed dramatic side. Foes of a thousand years were bound to acknowledge the merits of each other. Carstairs, less demonstrative, felt the same appeal. Then they too shook hands with strength and enthusiasm.

"I approve of this love-feast," said Wharton, "but don't fall to kissing each other. Man kissing man is a continental custom I can't stand." .

"Don't be alarmed," said Lannes laughing. "It's passing out in France, and I certainly would not do it. I've lived a while in your country. Now will you wait here, my friends ? I have a report to make, but I will return in a half hour."

When Lannes returned he handed a letter to John:

"Your uncle and the worthy Mr. Anson have managed to reach Paris through Switzerland," he said. "I found them, and, on the chance that I might reach you, the distinguished Senator, your uncle, gave me the letter that I now give to you."

Making his excuses to the others John read it hastily. His uncle wrote in a resigned tone. He and Mr. Anson would remain in Paris a short time, and then if the German forces came near, as he feared they might, they would cross to London. He hoped that his nephew would leave the army and join them there, but if contrary to all good advice, he insisted on remaining he trusted that he would fight bravely and show the superiority of Americans to the decadent Europeans.

"Good old Uncle Jim," said John to himself, as he put the letter back in his pocket. "Maybe it's a faith like his that will really make us the greatest nation in the world."

He did not see any great difference at that moment between the sublime faith of Senator Pomeroy in the United States and the equally sublime faith of Car- stairs in the British Empire. The only difference was in their way of expressing it. But he felt a great af- feotion for his uncle, and he knew very well that the chances were against his ever seeing him again. A slight mist came before his eyes.

"I thank you for bringing the letter, Lannes," he said. "My uncle and Mr. Anson will remain a while in Paris, and then they will probably go to London."

He would not tell Lannes the Senator's reason for leaving Paris.

"From what place have you come after leaving Paris, if it's no army secret?" he asked.

Lannes with a dramatic gesture swept his hand over his head.

"From there. From the heavenly vault," he replied. "I have been everywhere. Over forests and many cities, over the German lines and over our own lines. I have seen the Germans coming not in thousands but in millions. I thought once that the army of our allies would be cut off, but it has joined with our own in time."

"Is it true that we fight tomorrow ?"

"As surely as the rising of the sun."

"In that case it would be better for us all to go to sleep," said Carstairs phlegmatically. "We'll need our full strength in the morning."

But John was not able to close his eyes for a long time. His rather loose position as an aide enabled him to go about much with Darrell, the young officer to whom he had been introduced first, and he saw that the British army awaited the battle with eagerness, not unmixed with curiosity. In John's opinion they held the enemy far too lightly, and he did not hesitate to say so. Darrell was not offended.

"It's our national characteristic," he said, "and I suppose it can't be changed. This overweening confidence sometimes brings us defeats that we might have avoided, and again it brings us victories that we might not have won otherwise. Tommy Atkins is always convinced that he can beat two soldiers of any other nation, unless it's you Yankees. Of course he can't, but the belief helps him a lot."

"Remember how you fared in the Boer war."

Darrell laughed.

"Tommy Atkins doesn't read history, and those who remember it have long since convinced themselves that the Boer successes were due to strange tricks or are merely legendary."

John was not at all sure that Darrell was not a better born and better educated Tommy Atkins himself. He, and all the other young officers whom he met, seemed to be absolutely sure of victory on the morrow, no matter how numerous the German host might be.

After a while he lay down in the grass, wrapped in a blanket, near his comrades and slept. But the August night was not quiet, and it was an uneasy sleep. He awoke far before dawn and stood up. He heard distant shots now and then from the pickets, and the powerful searchlights often played on the far horizon, casting a white, uncanny glare. Darker spots appeared in the dusky sky. The aeroplanes were already hovering above, watching for the first movement of the enemy.

He walked to the place, where the Arrow was lying, and saw Lannes standing beside it, fully clothed for flight.

"I'm carrying dispatches to our own army on the right," said Lannes, "and I don't think you will see me again for several days. You fight today, you know."

"And we shall win?"

Lannes was silent.

"All the English are confident of victory," continued John.

"Confidence is a sublime thing," said Lannes, "but in a great war it goes best with numbers and preparation."

John felt the gravity of his tone, but he asked no more questions, seeing that the young Frenchman was reluctant to answer them, and that he was also ready for his flight.

"You're in all senses a bird of passage, Philip," he said, "but I know that whatever happens tomorrow or rather today we're going to see each other again. Good-bye."

"Good-bye," said Lannes, extending his gloved hand. "We're comrades, John, and I hope sometimes to turn your little fraternity of three into a brotherhood of four. Tell the Englishman, Carstairs, that France and England together can't fail."

"He'll think it mostly England."

John stood in the shadow, and the young Frenchman took a step forward to see better. Then he too uttered an exclamation of gladness.

"It's Monsieur Jean the Scott, my comrade of the great battles in the air!" he said. "It was my hope rather than my expectation to find you here."

He grasped the extended hand and shook it with great warmth. Then John introduced him to his friends. Lannes and Carstairs surveyed each other a moment.

"Frenchman and Englishman have been on the same battle fields for a thousand years," said Car- stairs.

"Usually the only ones there, and fighting each other," said Lannes.

"Whichever side won, the victory was never easy."

"You are a brave* people. We French are the best witnesses of it."

"We are always slow to start. We are usually the last to reach the battle field."

"Also, usually the last to leave it."

"It seems fitting to me that the enemies of a thousand years should have exhausted all their enmity and should now be united against a common foe."

"Without you we could not win."

Lannes' wonderful eyes were sparkling. There is something deep and moving in the friendships of youth. Moreover it made a powerful appeal to his strongly-developed dramatic side. Foes of a thousand years were bound to acknowledge the merits of each other. Carstairs, less demonstrative, felt the same appeal. Then they too shook hands with strength and enthusiasm.

"I approve of this love-feast," said Wharton, "but don't fall to kissing each other. Man kissing man is a continental custom I can't stand." .

"Don't be alarmed," said Lannes laughing. "It's passing out in France, and I certainly would not do it. I've lived a while in your country. Now will you wait here, my friends ? I have a report to make, but I will return in a half hour."

When Lannes returned he handed a letter to John:

"Your uncle and the worthy Mr. Anson have managed to reach Paris through Switzerland," he said. "I found them, and, on the chance that I might reach you, the distinguished Senator, your uncle, gave me the letter that I now give to you."

Making his excuses to the others John read it hastily. His uncle wrote in a resigned tone. He and Mr. Anson would remain in Paris a short time, and then if the German forces came near, as he feared they might, they would cross to London. He hoped that his nephew would leave the army and join them there, but if contrary to all good advice, he insisted on remaining he trusted that he would fight bravely and show the superiority of Americans to the decadent Europeans.

"Good old Uncle Jim," said John to himself, as he put the letter back in his pocket. "Maybe it's a faith like his that will really make us the greatest nation in the world."

He did not see any great difference at that moment between the sublime faith of Senator Pomeroy in the United States and the equally sublime faith of Car- stairs in the British Empire. The only difference was in their way of expressing it. But he felt a great af- feotion for his uncle, and he knew very well that the chances were against his ever seeing him again. A slight mist came before his eyes.

"I thank you for bringing the letter, Lannes," he said. "My uncle and Mr. Anson will remain a while in Paris, and then they will probably go to London."

He would not tell Lannes the Senator's reason for leaving Paris.

"From what place have you come after leaving Paris, if it's no army secret?" he asked.

Lannes with a dramatic gesture swept his hand over his head.

"From there. From the heavenly vault," he replied. "I have been everywhere. Over forests and many cities, over the German lines and over our own lines. I have seen the Germans coming not in thousands but in millions. I thought once that the army of our allies would be cut off, but it has joined with our own in time."

"Is it true that we fight tomorrow ?"

"As surely as the rising of the sun."

"In that case it would be better for us all to go to sleep," said Carstairs phlegmatically. "We'll need our full strength in the morning."

But John was not able to close his eyes for a long time. His rather loose position as an aide enabled him to go about much with Darrell, the young officer to whom he had been introduced first, and he saw that the British army awaited the battle with eagerness, not unmixed with curiosity. In John's opinion they held the enemy far too lightly, and he did not hesitate to say so. Darrell was not offended.

"It's our national characteristic," he said, "and I suppose it can't be changed. This overweening confidence sometimes brings us defeats that we might have avoided, and again it brings us victories that we might not have won otherwise. Tommy Atkins is always convinced that he can beat two soldiers of any other nation, unless it's you Yankees. Of course he can't, but the belief helps him a lot."

"Remember how you fared in the Boer war."

Darrell laughed.

"Tommy Atkins doesn't read history, and those who remember it have long since convinced themselves that the Boer successes were due to strange tricks or are merely legendary."

John was not at all sure that Darrell was not a better born and better educated Tommy Atkins himself. He, and all the other young officers whom he met, seemed to be absolutely sure of victory on the morrow, no matter how numerous the German host might be.

After a while he lay down in the grass, wrapped in a blanket, near his comrades and slept. But the August night was not quiet, and it was an uneasy sleep. He awoke far before dawn and stood up. He heard distant shots now and then from the pickets, and the powerful searchlights often played on the far horizon, casting a white, uncanny glare. Darker spots appeared in the dusky sky. The aeroplanes were already hovering above, watching for the first movement of the enemy.

He walked to the place, where the Arrow was lying, and saw Lannes standing beside it, fully clothed for flight.

"I'm carrying dispatches to our own army on the right," said Lannes, "and I don't think you will see me again for several days. You fight today, you know."

"And we shall win?"

Lannes was silent.

"All the English are confident of victory," continued John.

"Confidence is a sublime thing," said Lannes, "but in a great war it goes best with numbers and preparation."

John felt the gravity of his tone, but he asked no more questions, seeing that the young Frenchman was reluctant to answer them, and that he was also ready for his flight.

"You're in all senses a bird of passage, Philip," he said, "but I know that whatever happens tomorrow or rather today we're going to see each other again. Good-bye."

"Good-bye," said Lannes, extending his gloved hand. "We're comrades, John, and I hope sometimes to turn your little fraternity of three into a brotherhood of four. Tell the Englishman, Carstairs, that France and England together can't fail."

"He'll think it mostly England."

John, having no messages to carry, continued to watch the German advance. He had no doubt that thousands had already fallen before the hostile fire, but he could see no break in that living gray line. It came steadily on, solid, tremendous and, again he felt that it was impossible to stay it.

"The field telephone brings news that the French on our right miles away are engaged also!" shouted Wharton.

"That doesn't concern us!" John shouted back. "Look what's coming, a million Germans at least!"

The shrapnel whined terribly over his head and his horse fell, but he sprang clear.

"My horse is killed!" he cried.

"So's mine," said Carstairs, as he picked himself from the grass.

Wharton's was hurt by the same deadly shower and he dismounted to examine his wound, but the horse maddened by pain and fright broke loose and ran toward the German lines. Before he had gone far a shell swept him away in fragments.

John thought they were safer on foot, but his fear began to leave as the madness of battle seized him. He had the curious but not uncommon feeling in a soldier that the whole hostile army was firing at him alone. His heart swelled with indignation, and his hair bristled with anger. Snatching up the rifle of a fallen man he stood, ready to use it, when the gray line came within fair range.

Carstairs and Wharton shouted something to him, but he could not hear the words. He merely saw their lips moving. The crash had become so tremendous that voices were inaudible. John was now quite certain that if he had not put the lint in his ears he would have become deaf forever. But both Wharton and Carstairs seized him and dragged him down. Wharton, through his glasses, had noticed that new German batteries were coming into action, and their fire would converge upon the place, where they stood.

As they lay almost flat behind a little ridge the shrapnel began to shriek over their heads with increased violence. Many men behind them were killed and a stream of wounded dragged themselves toward the rear. The giant shells also fell among them, spreading death over wide areas. The hideous smell of fumes and gases spread. The air seemed poisoned.

The rifles now opened fire, and the air was filled with singing steel. The little bullets flew in millions, cutting down men, bushes, grass, everything. John and his comrades using the ridge for shelter fired their own weapons as fast as they could pull the trigger. He did not know how Carstairs and Wharton had obtained their rifles, but plenty were lying about for the taking.

As the German lines drew nearer John saw the men falling in hundreds. Their ranks were swept by shell, shrapnel and the unceasing storm of bullets, but the gray hosts, a quarter of a million strong, passing over the dying and the dead, always swept on, their generals eager to cut off and destroy the English army where it stood. As they marched vast bodies of troops thundered out "The Watch on the Rhine," or "A Mighty Fortress is our God." Now and then a strain of the song came to John's ears on the roar of the battle.

The gray sea was coming nearer, ever nearer. Losses, however large, were nothing to the Germans. Their generals led them on straight into the face of the British fire, and John gasped as if all that tremendous weight were about to be hurled upon his own chest.

The British fire doubled, tripled. The German line wavered, steadied itself and came on again. Then John saw a flash extending along their own front, and he and his comrades sprang to their feet. He saw an officer give an order and then with a tremendous shout the men, their line bristling with steel, rushed forward.

John heard the shrapnel and bullets shrieking and whistling among them, but he was untouched. Whether there was any bayonet on the end of his rifle he did not know, but he was running forward with the others, and then he was in the center of a vast red whirlwind, in which the faces of men shone and steel glittered. Cannon and rifles crashed, and there was a great shouting, but the Germans at last reeled and gave back before the bayonet.

A tremendous roar of cheers came from the British line, and for a little space there was a comparative lull in the thunder of the battle. John heard a Highland brigade singing some wild song, and near him the Irish were pouring forth a fierce, wailing note. Whar- ton and Carstairs were still by his side, unharmed.

"The bayonet after all is the weapon for close quarters! It takes a good man to stand the cold steel!" shouted Carstairs.

"So it does!" John shouted back, "but they've stopped for only a few moments! They're gathering anew!"

"And we're here waiting for them! But I wish there were more of us!"

John echoed the wish. He saw the German army advancing again or at least enough of it to know that it could overpower the defense. The Germans were as brave as anybody and under their iron discipline they would come without ceasing. He borrowed Wharton's glasses, and also saw the vast overlapping lines to right and left. A great fear was born in his heart that the German effort would succeed, that the British army would be surrounded and destroyed. But he handed the glasses back to Wharton without a word.

The battle swelled anew. The German generals reformed their lines and the hosts poured forward again, reckless of losses. The defense met them with a terrible fire and charged again and again with the bayonet.

For hours the battle raged and thundered over the hills and valleys, and the British line still held, but it was cut up, bleeding at every pore, and to right and left the horns of the long German crescent were slowly creeping around either flank. John from his place on a hill saw well and he knew that their position was growing extremely dangerous. It seemed to him that the German threat would certainly be carried out, unless help came from the French.

Illustration

Late in the day he was on horseback again, carrying a message from a general to any French commander whom he could reach, urging immediate help. He had left Wharton and Carstairs on the battle line, and the horse was that of a slain colonel.

Gaining the rear, where the weight of the fire would not reach him John galloped toward the right, passing through a small wood, and then emerging upon a field, in which wheat had stood.

As his blood cooled a little he slowed his speed for a moment or two, and took a look at the battle which was spread over a vast area. He was appalled by the spectacle of all those belching cannon, and of men falling like grass before the mower. A continuous flash and roar came from a front of miles, and he saw well that the German host could not be stopped.

He galloped toward the right, but it seemed to him that distance did not cause any decrease in the crash and roar. Either his imagination supplied it, or the battle was increasing in violence. He rode on, and then a new sound greeted him. It was the thunder of another battle, or rather a link in the chain of battles. He was approaching the position of a French army which had been assailed with a fury equal to that from which the British suffered.

John was merely one of many messengers and the French commander smiled grimly when he read his dispatch.

"Look!" he said, pointing a long arm.

John saw another vast gray host, rolling forward, crushing and invincible. At some points the French had already lost ground, and they were fighting a desperate, but losing battle. No help could come from them, and he believed that the French armies farther east were in the same mortal danger.

John received his return dispatch. He knew noth- out the telling what was in it. The French would certainly urge the British to fall back. If they did not do so they would be lost, the French line in its turn would be crumpled up, and France was conquered.

It was given to John, a youth, as he rode back in the red light of the late sun, to know that a crisis of the world was at hand. He was imaginative. He had read much and now he saw. It struck upon him like a flash of lightning. Along that vast front in face of the French armies and the British there must be a million troops, armed and trained as no other troops ever were, and driven forward by a military autocracy which unceasingly had taught the doctrine, that might is right. The kings, the princes, the dukes and the generals who believed it was their right to rule the world were out there, and it was their hour. By morning they might be masters of Europe.

He had all the clear vision of a young prophet. He saw the sword and cannon triumphant, and he saw the menace to his own land. He shuddered and turned cold, but in a minute warmth returned to his body and he galloped back with the message. Others had returned with messages like his own, and, giving up his horse, he rejoined his comrades.

Carstairs and Wharton were gloomy. The ground

that had been the front line of the British was now under the German foot. The German weight, irresistible in appearance, had proved so in fact, and far to left and right those terrible horns were pushing farther and farther around the flanks. John now saw the German army as a gigantic devil fish enveloping its prey.

"What did you find, John?" shouted Carstairs.

"I found a French army pressed as hard as our own, and I heard that farther to the east other French armies were being driven with equal fury."

"Looks as if we might have to retreat."

"It will soon be a question, whether or not we can retreat. The Germans are now on both our flanks."

Carstairs' face blanched a little, but he refused to show discouragement.

"They're telling us to retire now," he said, "but we'll come again. England will never give up. John, your own transplanted British blood ought to tell you that."

"It does tell me so, but when I was riding across the hills I saw better than you can see here. If we don't get away now we never shall, and England and France cannot regain what they will have lost."

But the British army was withdrawing. Those terrible horns had not quite closed in. They were beaten back with shell, bullets and bayonets, and slowly and sullenly, giving blow for blow the British army retreated into France.

John and his comrades were with a small force on the extreme left, almost detached from the main body, serving partly as a line of defense and partly as a strong picket. They stopped at times to rest a little and eat food that was served to them, but the Germans never ceased to press them. Their searchlights flashed all through the night and their shell and shrapnel searched the woods and fields.

"It's no little war," said Carstairs.

"And I tell you again," said Wharton, "that England must wake up. A hundred thousand volunteers are nothing in this war. She must send a half million, a million and more. Germany has nearly seventy million people and nearly every able-bodied man is a trained soldier. Think of that."

"I'm thinking of it. What I saw today makes me think of it a lot. Jove, how they did come, and what numbers they have!"

A huge shell passed screaming over their heads and burst far beyond them. But they did not jump. They had heard so much sound of cannon that day that their ears were dulled by it.

"It's evident that they haven't given up hope of cutting us off," said Wharton, "since they push the pursuit in the night."

"And they'll be at it again as hard as ever in the morning," said John. "We'll see those horns of the crescent still pushing forward. They mean to get us. They mean to smash up everything here in a month, and then go back and get Russia."

The firing went on until long past midnight. Toward morning they slept a little in a field, but when day came they saw the gray masses still in pursuit.

All day long the terrible retreat went on, the defense righting fiercely, but slowly withdrawing, the Germans pressing hard, and always seeking to envelop their flanks. There was continual danger that the army would be lost, but no dismay. Cool and determined the defense never relaxed, and all the time bent to the right to get in touch with the French who were retreating also.

It was a gloomy day for John. Like most Americans his feeling for France had always been sympathetic. France had helped his own country in the crisis of her existence, and France was a free republic which for a generation had strictly minded its own business. Yet this beautiful land seemed destined to be trodden under foot again by the Germans, and the French might soon cease to exist as a great nation. French and English together had merely checked the German host for a few hours. It had swept both out of its way and was coming again, as sure and deadly as ever.

They did not hear until the next day that the French and English armies were already in touch, and while still driven back it was not probable that they could be cut apart, and then be surrounded and destroyed in detail. John felt a mighty joy. That crisis in the world's history had passed and by the breadth of a hair the military autocracy had missed its chance. Yet what the German hour had failed to bring might come with slow time, and his joy disappeared as they were driven back farther and farther into France. Thus the retreat continued for days and nights.

Carstairs was the most cheerful of the three. They had slipped from the trap, and, as he saw it, England was merely getting ready for a victory.

"You wait until our second army comes up," he said, "and then we'll give the Germans a jolly good licking."

"When is it coming up?" asked John. "In this century or the next ?"

"Be patient. You Yankees are always in too much of a hurry."

"I'm not in such a hurry to get to Paris, but it seems that we'll soon be there if we keep on at the rate we're going."

"You could be in a worse place than Paris. It's had quite a reputation in its time. Full of life, gayety, color. I'll be glad to see Paris."

"So will the Germans, and if we don't do better than we've been doing they'll see it just about as soon as we do."

Carstairs refused to be discouraged, and John hoped anew that the armies would be able to turn. But he hoped against what he knew to be the facts. They were driven on mile after mile by the vast German force.

Another night came, after a day of the desperate retreat and powerful pursuit. John and his comrades by some miracle had escaped all wounds, but they were almost dead from anxiety and exhaustion. Their hearts too were sinking lower and lower. They saw the beautiful country trampled under foot, villages destroyed, everything given to ruin and the peasants in despair fleeing before the resistless rush of the enemy.

"John," said Carstairs, "you know Unter den Linden, don't you ?"

"Yes, it's a fine street."

"So I've heard. Broad enough for the return of a triumphal army, isn't it?"

"Just suited to the purpose."

"Well, I don't know whether the Germans will go back to the old Roman customs, but I want to tell you right here that I won't be a captive adorning their triumphal procession."

"How are you going to keep from it?"

"I'll get myself shot first. No, I won't! I'll see that they don't have a chance for any such triumph! I and a million others."

"I feel like despairing myself sometimes," said John gravely, "and then I say to myself: 'what's the use!' I don't mean to give up, even when the Germans are in Paris."

"Well spoken," said Wharton, who was lying on his back in the grass. "All is not lost yet by a long shot. When our army drew out of their clutches their first great stroke failed. Who knows what will happen to their second?"

They were still on the extreme left of the Allied line, forming a sort of loose fringe there, but their comrades on the right were only a few hundred yards away. They heard in front the scattered firing of the pickets and skirmishers which continued day and night, while the searchlights of the pursuers winked and winked, and, at far intervals, a mighty shell crashed somewhere near.

There was a pause in the retreat and John also lay down on the grass. At first he was flat on his back, and then he turned over on his side. His ear touched the earth, and he heard a sound that made him spring to his feet in alarm.

"Horses!" he cried. "It must be the Uhlans!"

They saw lances gleaming through the dusk, and then with a rush and a shout the Uhlans were upon them.

John sprang to one side, dodging the sweep of a sabre, and firing his rifle at the man who wielded it. He did not have time to see whether or not he fell, because the little camp, in an instant, was the scene of terrible turmoil and confusion, a wild medley of shouting men and rearing horses. Instinctively he rushed to one side, dodging the thrust of a lance, receiving a blow from the butt of another on his head, but finally coming clear of the tumult.

The lance blow had made him see stars, and he could not think or see clearly now. He had dropped his rifle, but he remembered his automatic, and drawing it he began to fire into the mass of horses and horsemen. Then a lancer rode at him with poised weapon. He fired at him, leaped aside and ran through some bushes, intending to come around on the other flank.

But the dizziness in his head increased and his sight became dimmer. The whole world suddenly turned black, and he felt himself falling through space.