The Children of France

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"Cautiously drawing the weapon over the parapet, he caressed it affectionately, then started to crawl back toward his own lines with his precious find.

"'At last Remi has a rifle, and none shall take it from him,' he muttered triumphantly. 'See what I have!' he cried after having been challenged and hauled into his own trench. 'I took it from the thickheads over there. I--' He said no more, for his comrades were hugging him delightedly. They hurried the child off to the captain of his company, who, after listening to the story, embraced Remi.

"'Ah, you are a true Frenchman,' cried the officer. 'Keep the gun and use it for our beloved France.'

"'I will,' promised Remi solemnly.

"Two nights later he stole out and fetched back five more German rifles. By this time the officers began to realize that the boy must be taken seriously. From that night on almost every night found the intrepid lad skulking about over 'No Man's Land,' many times with the enemy's machine gun fire snapping about his ears, but to which he gave not the slightest heed. Remi truly seemed to bear a charmed life.

"One night after his company had returned to the front-line trench, after a night's rest in 'billets,' he went out with the patrol, as usual, but with a new plan in mind. By now he knew the arrangement of the German trenches almost as well as did the men who occupied them. There were ten in the patrol, and so great was the confidence of the men in him that they virtually permitted Remi to act as their leader. The patrol carried no rifles, only revolvers and stout clubs, like policemen's night sticks. When the lad ordered the men to secret themselves in a shell crater, they obeyed willingly.

"Remi reached the German trenches, along which he crept with ears and eyes on the alert.

"'Who goes!' came a sharp, low-spoken command in German. At that instant a German rose from the ground, where he had been crouching, apparently watching the crawling figure of the little Frenchman. Remi rose at the same time, a Boche bayonet pressing against his stomach.

"When the German sentinel discovered that the 'man' confronting him was only a child, he threw back his head and laughed silently, his bulky form shaking with merriment. That laugh cost the Boche his liberty. Like a flash little Remi swept the bayonet aside and jerked the rifle from the sentry's hands. He sprang back and pointed the rifle at his amazed adversary.

"'Now march!' he commanded in a low, sharp tone. Straight to the shell crater the little Frenchman drove his prisoner, thence sent the captive to the French trenches with an escort. He then returned to the German trench. As he thought it over the situation became clear to him. The Germans had placed the sentry outside the trench to keep watch while they slept, the night being a quiet one, neither side having fired a shot since sundown. Knowing exactly what he wished to do, the boy began cautiously removing the rifles from the parapet, placing them on the ground in front of the trench. He accomplished his purpose without disturbing the snores of the Boches.

"Having secured the enemy's rifles, Remi crept back to the shell hole, where his comrades were anxiously awaiting his return.

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