"Now, Willy, we'll both go in at once; you jump to the right, and I to the left,--and one of us will jab him. He can't shoot both ways at once. Are you ready? All right--Now!"
Claude thought he was taking the more dangerous position himself, but the German probably reasoned that the important man would be on the right. As the two Americans dashed through the door, he fired. Claude caught him in the back with his bayonet, under the shoulder blade, but Willy Katz had got the bullet in his brain, through one of his blue eyes. He fell, and never stirred. The German officer fired his revolver again as he went down, shouting in English, English with no foreign accent,
"You swine, go back to Chicago!" Then he began choking with blood.
Sergeant Hicks ran in and shot the dying man through the temples. Nobody stopped him.
The officer was a tall man, covered with medals and orders; must have been very handsome. His linen and his hands were as white as if he were going to a ball. On the dresser were the files and paste and buffers with which he had kept his nails so pink and smooth. A ring with a ruby, beautifully cut, was on his little finger. Bert Fuller screwed it off and offered it to Claude. He shook his head. That English sentence had unnerved him. Bert held the ring out to Hicks, but the Sergeant threw down his revolver and broke out:
"Think I'd touch anything of his? That beautiful little girl, and my buddy--He's worse than dead, Dell is, worse!" He turned his back on his comrades so that they wouldn't see him cry.
"Can I keep it myself, sir?" Bert asked.
Claude nodded. David had come in, and was opening the shutters. This officer, Claude was thinking, was a very different sort of being from the poor prisoners they had been scooping up like tadpoles from the cellars. One of the men picked up a gorgeous silk dressing gown from the bed, another pointed to a dressing-case full of hammered silver. Gerhardt said it was Russian silver; this man must have come from the Eastern front. Bert Fuller and Nifty Jones were going through the officer's pockets. Claude watched them, and thought they did about right. They didn't touch his medals; but his gold cigarette case, and the platinum watch still ticking on his wrist,--he wouldn't have further need for them. Around his neck, hung by a delicate chain, was a miniature case, and in it was a painting,--not, as Bert romantically hoped when he opened it, of a beautiful woman, but of a young man, pale as snow, with blurred forget-me-not eyes.