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   Chapter 6 IN PARIS

Air Service Boys in the Big Bat By Charles Amory Beach Characters: 6096

Updated: 2017-11-29 00:03


Attired in their natty uniforms of the La Fayette Escadrille, which they had not discarded, with the double wings showing that they were fully qualified pilots and aviators, Jack Parmly and Tom Raymond attracted no little attention as, several hours after leaving their places on the battle front, they arrived in Paris. They were to have a few days rest before joining the newly formed American aviation section which, as yet, was hardly ready for active work.

"Well, they're here!" suddenly cried Tom, as he and Jack made their way out of the station to seek a modest hotel where they might stay until time for them to report.

"Who? Where? I don't see 'em!" exclaimed Jack, as he crowded to the side of his chum, murmurs from a group of French persons testifying to the esteem in which the American lads were held.

"There!" went on Tom, pointing. "See some of our doughboys! And maybe the crowds aren't glad to have 'em here! It's great, I tell you, great!"

As he spoke he pointed to several khaki-clad infantrymen, some of the first of the ten thousand Americans lads that were sent over to "take the germ out of Germany." The Americans were rather at a loss, but they seemed masters of themselves, and laughed and talked with glee as they gazed on the unfamiliar scenes. They, too, were enjoying a holiday before being sent on to be billeted with the French or British troops.

"Come on, let's talk to 'em!" cried Tom, enthusiastically. "It's as good as a letter from home to see 'em!"

"I thought you meant you saw-er-Bessie and her mother," returned Jack, and there was a little disappointment in his voice.

"Oh, we'll see them soon enough, if they're still in Paris," said Tom, gazing curiously at his chum. "But they don't know we are coming here."

"Yes, they do," said Jack, quietly.

"They do? Then you must have written."

"Of course. Don't you want to see them before we get shipped off to a new sector?"

"Why, yes. Just now, though, I'm anxious to hear some good, old United States talk. Come on, let's speak to 'em. There's one bunch that seems to be in trouble."

But the trouble was only because some of Pershing's boys-as they were generally called wanted to make some purchases at a candy shop and did not know enough of the language to make their meaning clear. It was a good-natured misunderstanding, and both the French shop-keeper and his helper and the doughboys were laughing over it.

"Hello, boys! Glad to see you! Can we help you out?" asked Tom, as he and Jack joined the group.

The infantrymen whirled about.

"Well, for the love of the Mason an' Dixon line! is there somebody heah who can speak our talk?" cried one lad, his accent unmistakably marking him as Southern.

"Guess we can help you out," said Jack. "We're from God's country, too," and in an instant the were surrounded and being shaken hands with on all sides, while a perfect barrage of questions was fired at them.

Then, when the little misunderstanding at the candy shop had been straightened out, Tom and Jac

k told something of who they were, mentioning the fact that they were soon to fight directly under the stars and stripes, information which drew whoops of delight from the enthusiastic infantrymen.

"But say, friend," called out one of the new American soldiers, "can you sling enough of this lingo to lead us to a place where we can get ham and eggs? I mean a real eating place, not just a coffee stand. I've been opening my mouth, champing my jaws and rubbing my stomach all day, trying to tell these folks that I'm hungry and want a square meal, and half the time they think I need a doctor. Lead me to a hash foundry."

"All right, come on with us!" laughed Tom. "We're going to eat, too. I guess we can fix you up."

The two aviators had been in Paris before and they knew their way about, as well as being able to speak the language fairly well. Soon, with their new friends from overseas, they were seated in a quiet restaurant, where substantial food could be had in spite of war prices. And then it was give and take, question and answer, until a group of Parisians that had gathered about turned away shaking their heads at their inability to understand the strange talk. But they were well aware of the spirit of it all, and more than one silently blessed the Americans as among the saviors of France.

The wonderful city seemed filled with soldiers of all the Allied nations, and most conspicuous, because of recent events, were the khaki-clad boys who were soon to fight under Pershing. Having seen that the little contingent they had taken under their protection got what they wanted, Tom and Jack, bidding them farewell, but promising to see them again soon, went to their hotel.

And, their baggage arriving, Jack proceeded to get ready for a bath and a general furbishing. He seemed very particular.

"Going out?" asked Tom.

"Why-er-yes. Thought I'd go to call on Bessie Gleason. This is her night off duty-hers and her mother's."

"How do you know?"

"Well-er-she said so. Want to come?"

"Nixy. Two's company and you know what three is."

"Oh, come on! Mrs. Gleason will be glad to see you."

"Well, I suppose I might," assented Tom, who, truth to tell, did not relish spending the evening alone.

Bessie and her mother had, of late, been assigned as Red Cross workers to a hospital in the environs of Paris, and ant times they could come into the city for a rest. They maintained a modest apartment not far from the hotel where Tom and Jack had put up, and soon the two lads found themselves at the place where their friends lived.

"Oh, I'm so glad you both came!" exclaimed Bessie as she greeted them. "We have company and-"

"Company!" exclaimed Jack, drawing back.

"Yes, the dearest, most delightful girl you ever-"

"Girl!" exclaimed Tom.

"Yes. But come on in and meet her. I'm sure you'll both fall in love with her."

Jack was on the point of saying something, but thought better of it, and a moment later, to the great surprise of himself and Torn, they were facing Nellie Leroy.

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