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Title: Bill Barnes Takes a Holiday
Author: George L. Eaton
* A Project Gutenberg of Australia eBook *
eBook No.: 0604291.txt
Language: English
Date first posted: July 2006
Date most recently updated: July 2006

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Bill Barnes Takes a Holiday
George L. Eaton



I

BILL BARNES slowly pushed back the chair in which he was sitting in
the living-room of his bungalow on Barnes Field, Long Island, got to
his feet and moved over to a window overlooking the myriad concrete
and tarvia runways that crisscrossed the field. The transverse bands
of yellow-and-black pigment painted across the runways, to aid in
night or fog landings, gleamed in the glare of the morning sun.

He gazed across the field with eyes that were red and swollen. He did
not even see the electrified wire fence that contained burglar alarms
in the strategically placed guard posts, or the armed guards
patrolling their beats. He didn't see anything because he was close to
complete exhaustion.

He stared, almost stupidly, as one of his yellow-and-black-and-scarlet
Snorters came plummeting down out of nowhere to fishtail in for a
landing. He saw I. Kinter Hassfurther, better known as Shorty, slide
over the side of the forward cockpit to the concrete.

That is, he saw him, but it didn't register. He was too tired even to
think. Wearily, he turned back to his desk and the pile of papers on
it. He had been going at top speed for months past--now he was working
on nervous energy alone. He was nearing the breaking point. He had
sapped his reserve vitality and his nerves were beginning to scream.

He started violently as a knock sounded on his door and Shorty
Hassfurther, his chief of staff, pushed it open. Bill turned half
around, grunted and swung back to his desk.

Shorty's hard-bitten, blue eyes were narrowed as he dropped into a
chair and studied Bill's haggard face. He shook his head slowly from
side to side.

"Just plain dumb," Shorty said quietly.

"Eh?" Bill snapped. "Who's dumb?"

"You are! I've always had the idea that you were a reasonably smart
boy. But I've changed my mind. No one but a half-wit beats his head
against a stone wall because it feels so good when he stops."

"Listen," Bill said, "when I want your opinion and advice I'll ask for
it. In the meantime, please get the hell out of here. I'm busy."

"Yeah," Shorty said. "And I'll be even busier when I'm not only doing
that work you're doing, but spending half my time running out to some
sanatorium to try and cheer you up."

"Don't worry about me," Bill growled. "I'll make out."

"Somebody's got to worry about you," Shorty said. "You don't seem to
have enough sense to worry about yourself." His voice suddenly grew
sharper. "Listen, Bill, we're all worrying about you. You've got to
lay off; and get a rest or you're going to pieces. .

"This bird who calls himself the Saver of Souls ran you ragged for
months---while your regular work piled up. You're human like all the
rest of us. One of these days you'll begin to see little men in pink
pants and yellow jackets running around the ceiling. Then it will take
you months to get well instead of the two or three weeks' rest you
need now."

"I've got to get this stuff out of the way first," Bill said. But his
voice didn't carry conviction. It was the voice of a man who knows
that he can no longer think straight.

"You aren't in any shape to get anything out of the way," Shorty said,
his tone soft and soothing now. "I got my lesson at that stuff during
the War, Bill. I was only nineteen years old then find thought I was
tireless--that nothing could break me. I was with the British and my
C.O. tried to make me take a rest. But I was too smart. I wanted to
keep on knocking down my German every day instead of taking time out
to eat an apple. I finally went to pieces and a Heinie nearly shot my
head off. He trimmed my buttons off properly, and I was in the
hospital for three months. I didn't have enough sense to take a rest
when I needed it most.

"The same thing will happen to you," Shorty went on. "Something really
important will come along and you won't be in any shape to handle it.
You'll get your ears pinned back and spend a few months wondering how
it happened."

Bill threw a pencil down on his desk and looked at Shorty out of
bloodshot eyes. For an instant he seemed to have more than a little
trouble controlling himself. "I am tired," he admitted. "I'm so tired
I can't seem to make any decisions. But who is going to take care of
this stuff if I don't?"

"Now you're talking like a sane man," Shorty said. His round,
Pennsylvania-Dutch face broke into an encouraging smile. "We can
handle things while you take a holiday Bill. None of this stuff is
half as important as it seems to you. You'd realize that if you
weren't so tired. It's just run of the mill stuff. A couple of
surveys, requisitions and orders. You've lost your perspective as to
what is important and what isn't."

"Perhaps you're right," Bill said. "I'm in a daze. If I could only get
some sleep. But I can't eat or sleep. I--"

"Listen, fellah," Shorty said. "You're going to get some sleep. Red
Gleason and Sandy and I decided to take the matter into our own hands.
Bev Bates and Scotty MacCloskey are in on it, too."

"Scotty has a half dozen grease monkeys and technicians going over the
Lancer right now. He's tuning her up for your trip. Sandy is going
with you."

"Trip?" Bill said.

"To England," Shorty said as though he was speaking about a ride
uptown in the subway. "We all know you've been wanting to get over
there to check up on some of their new ships for months. Well, now
you're going and Sandy will hold down the rear cockpit in case you
fall asleep on the way over."

"Ridiculous!" Bill exploded.

"No, it's very logical. And right now you're going to bed. Doc
Humphries is coming over here in about ten minutes and give you
something that will quiet you down and make you sleep. It the weather
is right you and Sandy will hop anytime after sunup in the morning.
You're going to have a holiday whether you like it or not. So you
might as well get used to the idea. If we see you around here before
three weeks are gone we'll throw you out on your nose."

"Now listen. Shorty," Bill began.

"Listen, hell! Get out of those clothes!"



The two triple-bladed, automatic-pitch props of the Lancer were
ticking over slowly when Bill Barnes came out on the apron early the
next morning. The rays of the rising sun played across the alloy steel
and shining dural of the big ship and made it appear like a thing
alive.

His bronzed face was lined and haggard, but his eyes lit up with pride
as they flashed over the Lancer from the tip of her spinner to the
trimming tabs on her rudder.

Gathered on the apron were the remaining members of his famous little
squadron of flyers: Shorty Hassfurther, his chief of staff; the
carrot-topped Eric ("The Red") Gleason; the brown-eyed Bostonian with
the Harvard accent, Beverly Bates; and the last and youngest, the
irrepressible Sandy Sanders, who drove them all halt mad with his
thousand and one hobbies.

With them was that lugubrious old Scotsman, Scotty MacCloskey, who was
Bill's head technician and had been a British ace before wounds and
accidents-incapacitated him for flying. He was fluttering around the
Lancer like a mother dressing her only child for its first party.

He inspected the 37mm. automatic engine cannon that was built
integrally with the motor in the Vee of the cylinders and fired
through the hollow prop shafts. It could pour explosive, incendiary or
armor-piercing shells at the rate of three hundred shots a minute.

From troughs along each side of the engine peeped the noses of two
.50-caliber guns. The guns were set on either side of the pilot's seat
in the forward cockpit, within easy reach in case of jams. They were
equipped with automatic ammunition counters and engine-driven
synchronizing gear. A dull, burnished-metal, telescopic sight was
directly before the pilot's eyes.

At the ends of the silver, all-metal cantilever wings gleamed
navigation lights, and underneath the belly, protruding slightly, were
the slots containing emergency landing flares.

The pilot's cockpit, just back of the rear-wing spar, contained a
complete set of blind-flying instruments, including the Kreusi short-
wave direction finder, along with all the other instruments to be seen
in Bill's ships.

The rear cockpit was equipped with a complete set of duplicate
controls and navigating instruments and a flexible .30-caliber
Browning mounted on a track in the rear of the pit. A sliding
inclosure of shatterproof glass covered both cockpits completely, with
an arrangement that permitted the rear section to be telescoped
forward out of the gunner's way when in action.

In the fuselage, immediately behind the rear cockpit, in a locker, was
the usual Barnes emergency equipment including a small outboard motor,
a .45-caliber Thompson submachine gun, one Springfield rifle with a
telescopic sight, and a repeating shotgun. There was also a mattock, a
hatchet, a keg of water and emergency rations.

The radio installation was easily accessible between the cockpits,
with duplicate controls on each instrument panel. The headsets were
adaptable for use as intercockpit phones.

The whole world seemed to be alive with thunder as old Scotty gunned
the twin Barnes-Diesels in the nose of the big ship. Then, after
checking the infrared ray telescope that permitted Bill to see through
rain, fog and the dark of night, he cut the throttles and climbed out,
his gray head nodding with satisfaction. He was as proud of the Lancer
as Bill.

"She's sweet, boy," he said. "She sings a lullaby when you open the
throttles."

"See if she can sing Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen, Scotty," Bed Gleason
suggested.

Some of the acute tenseness seemed to leave Bill Barnes' face as he
joined the others laughing at Scotty's dignified discomfiture.

"All right, fellah," Shorty Hassfurther said as he saw Bill's glance
sweep anxiously about, taking in thehangars, airplane factory,
administration building, hospital and even the fire house. "Let's see
you shove. And don't stick your homely mug around here again for three
weeks."

"That's right, boy," Scotty said. "We'll take care of things. You'll
keep in contact by radio and cable?"

"By radio and cable," Bill said. "I gave Tony Lamport instructions
this morning." Tony Lamport, a black-eyed, Italian-American, was chief
radio operator and superintendent of communications on Barnes Field.

Climbing into the forward cockpit, Bill suddenly asked, "Where is that
brat. Sandy?"

Sandy had completely disappeared. But a moment later he came tearing
around a comer of the administration building, his white helmet and
overall napping. "I forgot my autograph book," he panted as he
scrambled into the after cockpit. "I'll probably have a chance to get
some swell signatures in England."

"Do you want my autograph before you go, Nimrod?" Shorty yelled.

"Sure, mister." Sandy opened the little black book and thrust it over
the side.

Shorty looked at him suspiciously, then wrote his name on the page
Sandy had designated.

Sandy took the book back, tore out the page, folded it and threw it at
Shorty. "See if they'll let you in the zoo with it!" he shouted. "Let
her ride, Bill."

Bill's hand came above his head in farewell salute as Tony Lamport
gave the all clear signal. He released his brakes and the gleaming,
silver ship rolled down the runway. At the center of the field, where
the runways con verged, he tapped the rudder to kick it around into
the wind and whipped it off the ground with his characteristic touch.
The landing-gear light on the instrument panel gleamed as the
amphibian gear folded completely into the fuselage and wings, and what
had been a sesquiplane became ft silver bullet that was a monoplane.



II--S.O.S.

A LITTLE over three hours later Bill shot a "sun sight" as the tip of
Cape Race flashed under the wings of the Lancer. He eased back his
engines to about sixty-five per cent throttle, as a twenty-mile tail
wind came out of the west.

Every half-hour he had been talking to Tony Lamport on Barnes Field
giving him his position and the weather so that Tony could check it
against the forecast. At the same time Tony took a radio bearing to
crosscheck the position Bill gave him.

"You're going to run into a couple of high fronts pretty quick," Tony
told him as St. Johns faded away behind them.

"Okay, Tony," Bill said. "I'm going to throw the controls to Sandy if
he isn't asleep. Hell check with you."

"BBX signing off," Tony said.

"Want me to take her, Bill?" Sandy asked.

"Just a minute." Bill checked their fuel consumption, climbed to
fifteen thousand feet and increased their speed forty miles an hour to
get maximum efficiency. "You'll get a wind shift before you strike
that first cloud wall," he then said. "If it gets bad wake me up. I'm
going to sleep."

"I've got her, Bill. I'll take radio bearings if it closes in. Sweet
dreams."

An hour later Sandy stuck the nose of the Lancer into a front, or
cloud wall, that rose to twenty thousand feet from the surface of the
Atlantic. Blade rain that was half hail beat down on the overhead
hatches, and a sudden gale snatched them, buffeting the Lancer around
like a cork on an angry sea.

For a moment Sandy debated about waking Bill; decided against it. From
the dials on the instrument panel came a ghostly phosphorescent glow.
He could barely see his navigation lights far out on the wing tips. A
wrench and a twist dropped the big ship three hundred feet. Then it
glided up an ascending current of air--and down again, as though its
belly were attached to the rails of a roller coaster.

Sandy flipped his radio switch and began to chant Tony Lamport's call
letters into the microphone. The wail that came back to him was like
the eerie screams in a melodramatic movie. He closed the key with eyes
roving over his instrument panel and coming to rest on his artificial
horizon. His arms ached from trying to keep the big ship steady on her
course. He was fighting a cross-wind that made him take his bearings
every few minutes.

The storm had swallowed them up completely, locking them tight in a
world that was a mass of ominous fog and wind and driving rain. The
wind was slashing in against the windshield so hard he could not see
two feet in front of him. He was flying entirely blind and fighting
his controls every instant.

In the forward cockpit Bill Barnes was sleeping the sleep of a man who
has left his worries and nervous tension behind him. Not even the
fearful buffeting the Lancer was taking could disturb him.

Almost without notice the Lancer popped out on the other side of the
front, and Sandy found that the wind had shifted two hundred and forty
degrees. But now there were dear, sunlit skies ahead with an almost
unlimited visibility. He nosed the Lancer down in a long power glide,
hoping to pick up a more favorable, wind at a lower altitude. Flipping
his radio key, he made contact with Tony Lamport and checked his dead
reckoning navigation against the Barnes Field radio station. He was
glad that he had not awakened Bill. .

But after two hundred and eighty miles of sunshine another front
loomed up ahead. Sandy raised the nose again, trying to get above it,
but the ominous mass seemed insurmountable. Leveling off at twelve
thousand feet he began that same desperate fight all over. This time a
light snow began to collect on his windshield.

Once again his radio screamed with static as Sandy threw the key and
tried to make contact with Tony. Then, after adjusting his volume and
wave length, he spun the master tuning control and sought to get the
Irish radio terminal at Foynes. More angry static was the only answer.

Suddenly he leaned forward, tense and eager, as the faint, far-away
sound of a high-pitched, desperate voice came to his ears. Feathering
the control, he strained to hear what the voice was saying. One time
it sounded like a general S. O. S., but he wasn't sure. Then the
words, "Transatlantic Airliner Memphis calling . . . . Transatlantic
Airliner Memphis calling.... we are falling.... they are pouring in. .
. ." Then the voice rose and faded away into an eerie scream as static
intervened.

The palms of Sandy's hands were wet with perspiration. He shouted
Bill's name into the intercockpit phone, and reached over the
instrument panel to awaken him with a push on the head.

"What's the matter, kid?" Bill said as he sat up, his eyes only half
open.

"I think it's the Transatlantic's big ocean airliner Memphis calling
for help," Sandy said into the phone. "You'd better tune in and see if
you can pick her up. There's so much static I couldn't hear what her
radio man was saying. But she sounded as though she was in distress."

"She was scheduled to leave Foynes: this morning," Bill said. "It's
her first passenger-carrying trip after all those test hops. What wave
length did you have?"

"I'm not sure Bill. Some place around 1480. You'll have to tune to get
her."

For the next fifteen minutes Bill worked with the radio while Sandy
fought the Lancer and the weather.

"I can't seem to get her," Bill finally admitted. Then, "Wait a sec!
He's coming in but I can't hear what he says." Quickly he chanted into
the microphone: "BB answering Airliner Memphis. . . . BB answering
Airliner Memphis. Are you getting me? Are you getting me? Go ahead
.... go ahead. BB answering Airliner Memphis."

The scramble of words that followed was unintelligible to Sandy,
because he was using all his powers of concentration to keep the
Lancer on an even keel, but Bill's expression showed that some of the
meaning had come through to him.

"Quick, kid!" he snapped at Sandy after motioning him to throw his
radio switch and use the intercockpit telephone. "Give me the
controls. She's in trouble, but I can't make out what. Something has
happened to them. They can't make contact with any ships or land
stations. He was sending out their position. I think I got it. Check
our position and check theirs against it." He handed Sandy a piece of
paper with the position of the Memphis written on it. "Work fast, kid!
It sounds as though we are the only ones who picked up their S. O. S."

Bill poured soup into the mighty power plants in the nose of the
Lancer and hung her on her props to take her above the storm and head
winds she was fighting.



He tried again to pick up the enormous airliner that was on her maiden
voyage across the Atlantic with passengers. But only the screech of
static and complete silence came back to him.



III--TRIPLE ATTACK

THE GREAT AIRPORT at Bundorick Head in the mouth of the Shannon on the
east coast of the Irish Free State was a place of indescribable
activity on that morning. Everywhere men were in action: engine
mechanics, machinists, traffic men, dispatchers, radio inspectors,
porters, pilots, engineers, navigators and officials.

A loudspeaker blared from the administration building of the
Transatlantic Transport Airways to add to the excitement.

"The Airliner Memphis will leave on her first passenger-carrying trip
for New York City, U. S. A., in fifteen minutes. Have all passengers
had their luggage weighed and put aboard? Have all passengers had
their luggage weighed and put aboard?"

There was intense excitement in the air. It crept under people's skins
and brought a flush to their cheeks and sometimes a ripple of aimless,
senseless laughter to their lips. The official passengers and their
friends and families stood gazing through the gates at the enormous
monster in the water beside the quay. Tears and laughter intermingled
as the sun crept higher and higher into the heavens.

The four twin-row, radial, air-cooled Meredith Vulcan motors increased
their crescendo as Flight-Engineer Hawkins spoke over the telephone to
the first pilot and to the four men stationed in the engine nacelles.

The captain, Arnold Morton, a veteran flyer with twenty-five years of
experience behind him, licked his lips nervously as he went down the
gangway from the bridge to the anchor and gear room in the nose of the
great forty-five-ton ship for a last inspection. He glanced at the
mooring post through the open hatch and over the neatly arranged gear
that was ready for any emergency, then returned to the bridge. Nodding
grimly to the first and second pilots at their posts at the controls,
he went through the sound-proofed room to the navigation and radio
room behind it. There the radio officer, flight-navigator and flight-
engineer sat at their desks with earphones clamped to their heads.

Giving only a few moments to the cargo hold, crew's quarters and
baggage compartment, Captain Morton proceeded to the galley and dining
lounge and the seven passengers' compartments stretching along the
length of the ship.

The furniture was made entirely of duralumin to keep down its weight,
and the windowpanes were of a plastic lighter than glass. The walls
were covered with porous fabrics so that the sound waves would pass
through them instead of being deflected. The fabrics were colored
light green, beige and light blue, and had the effect of making the
compartments spacious and airy without being too bright in the
sunlight above the clouds.

In the de luxe compartment in the tail of the ship was a cocktail
table and a bookcase beside a long, low couch. The ladies' and men's
washrooms were equipped with leather-covered stools and bright
duralumin fixtures.

From the passenger compartments Captain Morton went down into the
hull, where a gasoline pump drove gas from the sponsons up into the
wing tanks and engines, and where auxiliary cargo was stored. A hasty
inspection here, and he returned to his office. Sitting in the chair
behind his desk, he closed his eyes, his lips moving silently.

He was back out on the bridge as the big silvered-hull monster cast
off and taxied across the mouth of the Shannon for a takeoff, great
geysers of water cascading upward on each side of the hull as it cut
down into the wind.

At precisely the measured time for the hull to leave the water, the
enormous high-wing monoplane zoomed upward and took to the air with
its engines bellowing at ninety percent throttle.

"Wind ten miles, thirty degrees," the navigator advised the skipper
from his post in the celestial observation turret.

"Best altitude twelve--thousand feet," he said a moment later.

A half-hundred monoplanes and biplanes fell into position beside the
giant transport to escort it out to sea as the first pilot cut his
throttles to cruising speed.

The flight-engineer began a check of the engines from his swivel chair
in front of the control board, as the gasoline consumption at take-off
was tallied. All compasses were checked and compared as the flight-
navigator took a "sun sight" to be sure they were true. The flight-
engineer reported the amount of fuel aboard to the captain, and the
captain checked their progress against the gasoline consumption.

Every half-hour the radio operator tapped out a position report to
land stations, while the navigator checked the ground speed by
celestial observation.

At the same time the radio operator got a radio bearing from the
nearest land station, to cross-check the work on board the Memphis. In
the meantime the shore station had apprised itself of the positions of
all surface ships within two hundred miles of the plane's position and
route, and had transmitted it to the skipper and navigator so the
Memphis could obtain radio "fixes" from them.

Every thirty minutes the skipper and the first pilot relieved each
other at the controls. And the flight-engineer and his assistant
relieved each other, too, in the regulating of the pumping of fuel
from the hull to the wing tanks and making up a log by repeated checks
on their one hundred and forty-one instruments.

From the skipper down to the galley stewards, the ship was being
manned with a precise efficiency that left nothing to chance. The men
worked silently with a crisp confidence that conveyed itself to the
passengers. On this maiden trip those passengers were all officials of
the Transatlantic Transport Airways and a sprinkling of reporters and
scientists, and the twenty-five aboard represented only half of the
ship's capacity.

Three hours out, cruising at twelve thousand feet, the Memphis ran
into the first fronts dotting the air above the Atlantic that morning.
The big ship flew through the fog and rain with scarcely a tremor to
indicate that it had gone from fair weather into foul. The passengers
were more interested than frightened by the fog curling along the
sides and the rain slashing against the windows. They were air-minded
and they had perfect confidence in Captain Arnold Morton and his crew.

Captain Morton was munching a sandwich in his little office, when the
first of those three dun-colored, low-wing, tear-drop biplanes came
diving out of the fog above the giant transport. The roar of their
motors came to the captain's ears faintly and he was just getting out
of his chair to investigate the sound when the pilot of that first
ship damped down on the trip of the two machine guns synchronized
through his propeller.

He had aimed at the back of the neck of the flight-navigator in his
navigation turret on the roof of the fuselage. The bullets chopped
into the duralumin skin of the big ship and crept forward as the
flight navigator lifted his head at the sound of the diving motors. He
never saw what was behind and above him because a hail of lead nearly
tore his head from his shoulders. He slumped off his little platform
and his sextant clattered to the deck, while the bullet line continued
forward and tore into the body of the radio operator and the first
pilot, who was at the controls.

As that first dun-colored biplane raced above the nose of the big ship
at terrific speed, the second biplane came out of the fog with its
guns yammering.

Its bullets tore into the top of the Memphis a little to the left of
the trajectory of the first ship. Captain Morton had opened his mouth
to bellow an order when those bullets tore into his back. They slammed
him against a bulkhead where he slumped to the floor, his arms and
legs grotesquely spread.

The assistant radio operator leaped to the blood-spattered microphone
as he saw the chief operator slide out of his chair. He tried
desperately to make contact with the nearest land stations and ships,
but the radio apparatus seemed to be smashed beyond control. He began
to chant incoherently into his mouthpiece, sending out a general call
' for help. No specific station answered him, but he kept giving the
position of the Memphis and trying to tell what was happening,
although he did not know.

A steward had been carrying a tray of food from the galley to the
dining saloon when that first long burst of fire drove into the body
of the first pilot.

Before the second pilot had grabbed the controls, the big ship lurched
and the steward landed in the lap of one of the vice-presidents of
Transatlantic Transport Airways.

The next instant the passengers went mad. The third dun biplane had
dived in below the tip of the port wing and was spraying the middle
deck that contained the passenger compartments with a withering fire
of lead. One moment the guests were chatting gayly, the next a quarter
of them were dead. The faces of the rest were twisted into weird
masks, and in their eyes was the fear of death. They bellowed and
screamed like caged, angry animals, while the second pilot fought the
controls and tried to right the ship.

After a bit the Memphis plunged out of the wall of fog that had
encompassed it. The three dun biplanes climbed above it and drove
incendiary bullets into the wing tanks. A tank exploded and the whole
ship was engulfed in a great mass of smoke, out of which a giant
tongue of flame leaped upward.

Then one of the biplanes was diving underneath the Memphis, firing
round after round of incendiary bullets at the sponsons containing the
main gasoline supply. For some reason this attack failed to bring
about the intended holocaust, and the pilot, circled and returned for
another try.

Suddenly, rivers of flame seemed to pour out of the big airliner from
wing tip to wing tip and down the length of the entire hull. It became
a fiery furnace of exploding tanks and twisted, white-hot metal struts
as it plummeted to its death in the calm Atlantic.



IV--TELLTALE MANEUVER

BILL BARNES watched the instruments on his flight panel as he held the
Lancer hard into the rain and fog and tried to climb above them.

He could not tell from the garbled message from the Memphis' radio
operator exactly what was happening, but he knew the ship was in
imminent danger.

He eased his throttles open until the Lancer was racing through the
storm at nearly four hundred miles an hour.

And it took all the strength in his powerful arms and shoulders to
hold her on her course.

"Fasten your safety belt and adjust your parachute, kid," he said into
the telephone to Sandy.

But Sandy had already done that.

He gasped, "Wonder how bad it is, Bill?"

"No telling," Bill said. "We ought to be coming up alongside them
pronto if that position was correct."

Then the Lancer sped out of that dense fog, and they were out in the
open with the sun shining brightly in the blue sky above them and the
Atlantic like a mill pond far below.

Twenty miles away and far below they spotted the Memphis just as the
main supply tanks exploded. A string of curses leaped to Bill's lips
as he saw bursts of fire coming from the three dun biplanes darting in
and out around the airliner. He opened the throttles of the Lancer
wide, saw the airspeed indicator climb to four hundred, and fifty
miles an hour. Nursing his machine-gun trip, he fired a short burst to
be sure his guns were ready.

"What's happening. Bill?" Sandy panted into his microphone, as they
saw the Memphis become a great ball of smoke and flame and start her
plunge toward the sea.

"Break out that swivel gun!" Bill said.

"Those three biplanes have murdered the Memphis and all her crew and
passengers. They'll come after us now because we saw them."

He nosed the Lancer down, pointing it at the flaming mass ahead,
hoping against hope that there might be some survivors, though
realizing in his heart that no one could survive that flaming hell. He
eased out of his dive as what remained of the Memphis struck the
surface of the water. One final explosion occurred, followed by a half
dozen minor ones, and then the skeleton of the giant ship plunged to-
its last resting place.

Bill circled low above the great oil spots spreading over the surface,
trying to locate a possible survivor. But there was none. He was
placing his binoculars back in a pocket when the sound of screaming
props struck terror through his whole being. For an instant he was
motionless. Then his eyes swept the sky above him as Sandy shouted.

"They're diving on us. Bill!"

The three fast, tear-drop biplanes were converging on them from three
sides! They were only three hundred yards above him and traveling at
terrific speed. He yanked the control column of the Lancer back into
his stomach and hung it on its props. The three diving ships were
easing out of their dive to come up underneath him as he poured juice
into the engines of the Lancer and took it upstairs.

"Give 'em hell, kid!" Bill said into his microphone, hearing Sandy's
swivel gun chattering behind him.

He leveled off a thousand feet above the three biplanes and came
around in a vertical bank as they nosed up to form a Vee. His finger
hovered over the electric trip of the 37mm. cannon. Suddenly, he
opened up the throttles of the Lancer for a moment and went up and
back in a flashing Immelmann turn as the three biplanes leveled off.
They were coming at him head-on now. When they were four hundred yards
away they opened fire with their six machine guns. The concentrated
fire was terrific.

Bill skidded the Lancer out of range and eased back on the stick as
the three ships passed by him. As he saw their rudders bite into the
air to return to the attack, he yanked the stick back and came up and
over on his back just as they began their turn. At the top of his loop
he neutralized his controls for a moment, then eased the nose down in
a steep inverted dive.

He got the first of the three ships under his hair sights for one
brief instant. His finger came down on the trip of his 37mm. cannon.
The rapid-firer threw five high-explosive shells within the space of a
second, but Bill's speed was too great and his dive too steep for
accurate shooting. Between the time he had the ship under his sights
and when he tripped his trigger the little fighter had passed out of
his range of fire.

Bill cursed, leveled off and half-rolled the Lancer upright. The
single seaters were coming around on one wing tip as he lifted the
nose for altitude. He knew he could get away from them if he wanted
to, but the thought of the whole-sale murder he had seen them
perpetrate had enraged him almost beyond reason.

He knew he should broadcast what he had witnessed, but something held
him back, something he did not understand.

"Why," he asked himself as he spiraled upward; "did they do it? What
is behind it?"

His hand started forward toward his radio switch, to open it and tell
the radio station at Foynes what had happened and ask them to send him
aid. But something stopped him. Suppose, he thought, I lure these
three ships in toward shore to meet planes that are sent out to help
me, and in the mixup that follows they escape; then they will never
get what is coming to them. They may escape entirely.

He was trying to justify his desire to give battle when he became
aware of a screaming prop that roared underneath him. He rolled the
Lancer completely over and whipped it up and around to reverse his
direction. He dropped the nose and poured a burst of ten shells at the
little dun-colored ship arrowing up at him. But again his aim was bad
and the little ship kicked its tail in the air and dived out of
danger.

"You don't have to make any decision," he said to himself. "If they
want trouble give it to 'em!"

He gunned his engine and dived on the tail of the single-seater. His
line of tracer smoke curled above the head of the pilot. He eased his
stick forward a little and his bullets crashed into the tail assembly
and climbed forward along the fuselage to the engine block. A half-
dozen of those powerful .50-caliber bullets nearly tore off the
pilot's head. He slumped forward over the stick, while the ship kept
straight on toward the waters of the Atlantic.

And then the air seemed to be choked with slashing, roaring dun-
colored biplanes as the other two fighters came back into the battle.
Bill realized instantly that these fellows knew their jobs as combat
pilots. They were like darting hawks as they converged their fire to
get Bill between them. They were everywhere, charging in from all
angles, their guns screaming lead.

Bill's mind and muscles had to coordinate with the speed of light if
he were to survive that terrific onslaught. He eased the throttles of
the Lancer open another notch and took it through the air with the
speed and fury of a flaming meteor. He saw his bullets tracing designs
on the sides of the dun biplanes, but his own speed was too great for
accurate shooting.

He felt the Lancer buck and shiver as bullets drove into it from that
never-ceasing hail of lead. But he fought on while he gasped for
breath, his face tense and terrible in its absolute concentration on
the horrible job before him. He whipped the Lancer up and down,
skidded and side-slipped, zoomed and dived and rolled to avoid the
fire of those two fast fighters. He knew, only too well, that one
single error in judgment would be his last.

He could hear Sandy's gun chattering at intervals as he drove them off
his tail and he could hear Sandy complaining in his ear that he, Bill,
never gave him a chance to get in a telling shot.

"Can't you level off and give me a straight shot at 'em once!" Sandy
pleaded.

"I can't, kid," Bill gasped. "They are almost as fast as we are and
they have as much maneuverability. I can't give 'em a chance to get
set or they'll get us. They'll smash you into bits if I do."

Then the two ships got him inside a tight circle that he could not
break. Each time he tried to break out a terrific burst of fire would
cut across his path, forcing him to deviate from his course, and then
they would be on him again, forcing him back so that one of them could
get him under his sights.

Bullets drummed all around them, and Bill's breath was coming in
quick, agonized gasps. His right hand seemed to be frozen to the
control column, so tight was his grasp. He was using all his inherent
genius as a flyer, getting the utmost from the Lancer's great speed
and maneuverability, while Sandy desperately tried to keep the enemy
off their tail.

Then the two ships began to tighten the circle again, their guns
spewing fire and lead and death. Bill waited until they almost had him
between a crossfire. He waited until one of the biplanes became
overconfident. Then, for that brief moment that is enough, he got the
dun ship under his sights. His finger clamped down on his 37mm. gun.
He fired a burst of five shots as he pushed the throttle of the Lancer
wide open and nosed down in a power dive.

The dun biplane became a great mass of black smoke and orange flame,
the explosive shells taking it apart with a finality that was
appalling. The other dun ship zoomed upward to escape the shooting
debris as it exploded.

Bill looked back and up as he pulled the Lancer out of its dive. The
remaining biplane was diving on their tail, and Sandy tried to get him
under the sights of his gun. As Bill began a tight turn to the right,
the other ship went underneath him and nosed up eight hundred yards
away. Then they were roaring toward each other headon, each striving
to find the other under his sights.

When only fifty yards separated them, the pilot of the single-seater
suddenly swerved it in fast to the left for a death-dealing burst of
fire just before they passed. Bill shouted, involuntarily, then threw
the Lancer out of its mad path to avoid the crash that for an instant
seemed inevitable.

Bill yanked back on his stick and zoomed the Lancer up and over on its
back, while the biplane continued on its course. At the top he half-
rolled level and gazed over the side. His face was white and his eyes
were wide with disbelief as he watched the dun ship flip over and come
back. He couldn't believe what he had just seen and yet he knew it was
true.

He knew that he had come in contact with only one man during all his
aerial combats who used that particular swerve in to the left before
he tripped his guns. And that man was his most deadly enemy. Yanking
back on the control column. Bill took the Lancer high into the heavens
as the tear-drop biplane tried to come up beneath him. He wanted to
get some place where he could think. He took the Lancer steadily
upward until his altimeter read 25,000 feet.

"Hey, Bill!" Sandy shouted. "Where the--where are you going? That
other ship can't get up here. He's wallowing!"

"I know it, kid," Bill said calmly. "Close your hatch and turn on the
oxygen. I don't want him to get up here. I don't want to shoot him
down. I want to follow him and take him alive."

"Who is he?" Sandy asked. His voice was a combination of anger and
disgust because they were peeling off in the middle of a fight.

"He's our old friend," Bill said. "And by a coincidence that is
stranger than fiction he had another chance to try to murder me."

Through Bill's mind were racing a thousand and one thoughts. Only his
own loyal men knew that he was flying the Atlantic that morning. It
had been his men who had urged him to do it, even insisted. Had one or
more of them betrayed him--got him out where he would be at the mercy
of the man who hated him above all else?

"Who is he?" Sandy persisted.

"The man who calls himself the Saver of Souls," Bill said. "I didn't
recognize his tactics until he came at me with that swerve, head-on."

And Bill was aware that his voice was unsteady and trembling. He
watched the dun biplane slip down in a power glide, then dropped the
nose of the Lancer to follow it.

"And this," he said grimly to himself, "is the beginning of my
holiday!"



V--"HE MUST BE SILENCED!"

MORDECAI MURPHY, the man who had led that little element of three dun-
colored biplanes on their murderous flight over the Atlantic that
morning, sank into an overstuffed leather chair in the lounging saloon
of his hundred-and-eighty-foot, oil-burning yacht Haman, as it moved
silently out into the Irish Sea from the Isle of Man.

Riding low in the water, the Haman was as spick and span and trim as
the man who owned her. She was passing the tip of Langness, that
narrow strip of land, jutting into the sea, which divides Castletown
Bay from Derby Haven, the airport, before Mordecai Murphy came out of
his reverie and spoke to the florid-faced Wetherby Duncan, who was his
companion.

"I will tell you what happened now," Mordecai Murphy said in his
pleasant, cool way. "I'm sorry I was so abrupt when I came aboard. But
I was in no mood to talk. I hadn't got over the amazing thing that
happened to me today--the most amazing coincidence that has ever
occurred to me. No fiction writer would dare to use it in a story."

"You destroyed the Memphis?" Duncan asked in a low voice.

"We destroyed the Memphis."

"Where are Chamberlain and Lorenzo?" Duncan asked.

"Dead," Murphy said, and his eyes were as hard and brittle as two
pieces of ice. "Stop asking me so many bloody questions and I'll tell
you about things."

I'm trying to figure how, or why Barnes happened to be out there."

"Bill Barnes?" Duncan asked.

"I told you something about my previous encounters with Bill Barnes,
the American," Murphy stated.

Duncan nodded.

"It is uncanny," Murphy continued, half to himself. "I told you how I
set a trap for Barnes over the Great Smoky Mountains in North
Carolina?"

"Yes," Duncan said.

"Did I tell you that the man who lured Barnes down there where I could
get an unhampered shot at him was a stock broker in New York who told
Barnes he knew a man down there who owned a block of Transatlantic
Transport stock?" Murphy asked.

"No," Duncan said, "you didn't tell me that."

"That," said Murphy, "is the why Transatlantic came to my attention.
Barnes didn't get the stock because my agent shot himself the same day
Barnes and I had our encounter."

"And Barnes came out on top?" Duncan said, and immediately regretted
having said it because of the deep color that suffused Murphy's face,
and because of the way his eyes froze.

"But later on," Murphy said, "Barnes got hold of a large block of it.
Almost enough for control. I happen to know that he is having quite a
task carrying it. That is one reason why I was willing to listen when
you came to me with your proposition to make Transatlantic Transport
look bad so that you could build up confidence in our own line,
International Airways. I knew I would be killing two birds with one
stone in destroying the Memphis."

"You said Barnes was out there today?" Duncan said.

"I did." There were two little creases between Murphy's worried eyes,
and his mouth was a straight line across his strong jaw.

"We dove on the Memphis, riddling her with incendiary bullets," he
went on after a moment. "She was falling in flames when Barnes
suddenly appeared out of nowhere. I don't think he could have received
a call for help from the Memphis herself because I studied her layout
so carefully that I am sure I got the radio apparatus and the operator
on my first, dive. But there he was. He came down in a long power dive
and circled above the Memphis as she struck the water. He was,
probably, hoping to find some survivors."

"Were there any?" Duncan asked.

"Not a one," Murphy said, and there was no trace of regret in his
expression. Rather, it was one of elation.

"And then?" Duncan said in his maddeningly cool way.

"He was too much for us," Murphy said. "That man is without a doubt
the greatest aerial fighter who ever lived. He is astonishing and he
has the luck of--"

"His record doesn't sound as though there was any luck about it,"
Duncan said. "How did it happen he didn't get you?"

"I don't know," Murphy said frankly. "I learned my lesson in two
encounters with him. No one can stand against him in the air. That is
why I decided to leave him alone, at least in the air. There must be
an element of luck about it."

"He shot down Chamberlain and Lorenzo?"

"He tore them and their ships to bits with his 37mm. cannon," Murphy
said. He wet his dry lips with his tongue. "I was next."

"You're here," Duncan said, a smile flitting across his face.

"Only by the grace of God," Murphy-said. "I admit that Barnes is my
superior in the air now. But he won't always be. My day will come. ...
He came at ire head-on, and I used a trick I learned from diving
falcons. I have a room in my New York apartment where I train and
watch them attack their prey. While I was getting ready for that
combat with Barnes I learned that just before they strike their prey,
after their dive with their wings wide and their talons spread, they
swerve in to add force to their strike.

"I practiced the trick, keeping my ship out of line of fire of my
opponent until just before we pass, when I swerve in to the left with
my guns firing. At the last moment I zoom above him and then
straighten out."

"You used that trick on Barnes over North Carolina?" Duncan asked.

"Yes, and I used it again today."

"Then what happened?"

"Barnes hung his ship on its props and took it upstairs," Murphy said.
"So far upstairs I couldn't follow him. I began to wallow at 35,000
feet and I didn't have any oxygen so I started for the Irish coast."

"With Barnes following you?"

"Yes, but I lost him in a wall of fog just before I struck the coast.
It was fortunate it was there or everything might have been
different."

"Yes," Duncan said. "You would, probably, not be here. Barnes must
have recognized that falcon trick and identified you. Either that or
he didn't want to kill you because he wanted to know who you were. It
might be either one. Does he know who you are?"

"He knows me only as the Saver of Souls," Murphy said. "He has tried
to find out who I am before. That is why I decided to leave him alone
for a while. I was afraid he would learn."

"What did you do with the fighter you were flying after you landed?"
Duncan asked. His eyes were worried now. As the head of International
Airways, a competitor of Transatlantic Transport in the flying of
passengers and cargo from Europe to the Americas, he could not afford
to be mixed up in any way with the villainous plot he had brought to
Mordecai Murphy to execute.

Like a host of other men all over the world, he was indebted to
Mordecai Murphy, the man who called himself the Saver of Souls. And
like those other men whom Murphy had snatched out of jails and
dungeons and the jaws of death, Wetherby Duncan had learned that
Murphy did not do his saving for humanitarian reasons. Instead, he had
learned. Murphy had saved him, as well as all the rest, to serve in
his astounding mill of evil.

"I did what I had planned doing with all three ships," Murphy said. "I
bailed out after I had locked the controls so that it would dive into
the Irish Sea off Maughold Head. Sneed was waiting there in a car to
bring me down to Castletown."

"You're sure you lost Barnes?" Duncan asked anxiously.

"Certain," Murphy said. "But how did he happen to be there? If he had
been engaged to convoy the Memphis across the Atlantic we never would
have got a crack at it. He would have been on us before we could fire
a gun. There is a chance that he just happened to be flying above the
North Atlantic and picked, up an S.O.S. from the Memphis. But if he
did that why didn't the shore stations get it? The only word that has
come out about the Memphis up to now is that the land stations
suddenly lost contact with her. After so many hours destroyers and
planes were sent out to look for her, but the theory is that for some
reasons her radios went bad."

"They'll know better after Barnes talks," Duncan said.

Murphy leaned over and snapped a button on a small radio that was
built into a bookcase. He twirled the dials for a moment as he looked
at the watch on his wrist.

"--interrupt our program," a voice said through the loudspeaker, "to
bring you further news about the Airliner Memphis of the Transatlantic
Transport Airways that left Ireland this morning on its maiden voyage
with passengers and cargo. The planes that were out searching for her
had to return to their bases when night overtook them. But a half-
dozen destroyers and other ships that were in the vicinity of the
position she was last heard from are speeding toward the spot. It is
still hoped that only her wireless has gone out of order and that she
is continuing on her journey to New York, although captains of ships
along her route say she has not passed above them. Of course, she may
be flying high to avoid the areas of fog that are forecast along her
regular course. We will bring you further news about the Memphis as
soon as it is received. This is--"

Murphy clicked off the radio and a little smile curled the corners of
his mouth. "They'll have to do a lot of searching," he said. "A few
things that wouldn't sink may have escaped the fire, but not many.
They'll find, patches of oil and come to the conclusion that something
caused an explosion and that she was lost with all hands aboard."

"Until Barnes talks," Duncan said dryly.

"But he hasn't talked yet," Mordecai Murphy said. "And I don't think
he ever will. He doesn't like publicity and he works as a lone wolf a
great deal of the time. He only has four flyers working with him since
Hawkins and Henderson were lulled. You see, he has a pretty big
interest in Transatlantic Transport himself. If the stock begins to
toboggan because of the loss of the Memphis it is going to hurt him.
He will have enough sense not to talk until he has proof of his story.
He knows his story will be discredited because he is a large
stockholder in Transatlantic. He knows the newspapers would laugh at
him if he said that he just happened to be flying the Atlantic and saw
the ship shot down in flames. A thing like that could happen only to a
man like Barnes. But people wouldn't believe it unless he has
conclusive proof. That's why he isn't talking yet."

"But he will talk," Duncan said. "If he recognized you by that flying
trick you spoke of they'll comb the earth for you and they'll find
you. This isn't any little personal fight between you and Barnes. It's
an international incident. It's like those mysterious submarines that
were sinking shipping in the Mediterranean that aroused the whole
world and brought half the sea power of the world there. You don't
seem to realize that it is a big incident. It--"

"Sh--" Murphy Said, extending the palm of one hand outward. "You talk
too damned much, Duncan. I told you I did not believe Barnes would
ever talk. I'll tell you why: I have a dozen agents waiting to inform
me where Barnes has landed, in both Ireland and England. Sneed, my
secretary, made contact with them as soon as I landed this afternoon
and gave instructions.

"I am expecting to have word from one of them at any minute. When I
know where Barnes is I will take steps immediately to seal Barnes'
lips forever. I would rather do it myself, in the air. But that is not
feasible now. I'm not asleep, Duncan. I have never been caught
napping. If I had been I would be dead or in jail. And," he added as
an afterthought, "so would you."

Duncan's face became even more florid than it had been and it took no
little effort for him to hold back the words that sprang to his lips.

"I see," he said finally. "We'll both hang if you don't succeed. He
has got to be silenced."

"He will be silenced. And International Airways will have the bulk of
the Atlantic trade. Transatlantic will never be able to recover from
the blow."

"That was our idea," Duncan said quietly. He got to his feet, crossed
the lounge and picked a book up from a table. He turned the pages
until he came to the place where he had stopped reading and sat down
again under a light. But he did not read. His eyes kept straying from
the words before him to the face of Mordecai Murphy, and he could not
help thinking that Murphy was a most amazing man.

The world knew that Mordecai Murphy was a paradox. The people who knew
him knew that one moment he could be a person of rollicking good humor
who bellowed peals of hearty laughter, and the next he could freeze
them and make them feel as though they had ice water creeping up their
spines.

No one knew anything about his antecedents. His enormous wealth was
supposed to have come from South American oil and emeralds. He was
said to have a finger in affairs in every part of the world. But no
one knew which finger or which part of the world. He had been
decorated by three nations during the War for his air feats. It was
known that he made his home aboard the Haman when he was not visiting
one of his half-dozen homes scattered around, the globe. Many items
appeared about him in the press. But never anything definite. He was
truly a man of mystery.

He traded in men, making them his tools. His files were filled with
dossiers on a long string of men whose destiny he once held in the
palm of his hand. Men he had saved from paying the penalty of their
crimes. Men who had promised him great promises in return for his
seeming acts of charity and kindness. To them he had been the great
emancipator. The Saver of Souls.

But most of them knew now that he had saved them that he might force
them to help him with his nefarious enterprises.



VI--BOUND FOR CROYDON

AS BILL took a position eight thousand feet above and behind the dun-
colored amphibian he tried to piece together some of the startling
facts that were racing through his mind.

When he thought back to the two encounters he had had with the man who
called himself the Saver of Souls, he remembered that his tactics and
strategy in combat were identical with the tactics of the pilot below
him. There could be no doubt he was the Saver of Souls, the culprit
who had plotted on two occasions to murder him.

But why had he led those other two planes in the destruction of the
Memphis? Had he, in some mysterious manner, been instrumental in
arranging things so that he could get another chance at Bill far out
over the lonely Atlantic? Had he thought that with the aid of the two
other planes he would be successful? Did the fact that Bill owned a
large block of Transatlantic stock have anything to do with the set-
up? Had he in some way been able to influence Bill's men on Barnes
Field so that they sent him out to be murdered without knowing what
they had done?

All these possibilities flitted through Bill's mind, but he could not
fit them together. The thing didn't make sense. He had anticipated
making contact with the Transatlantic Airliner Memphis a little later
in the day, but no one except himself knew that. He remembered that he
had mentioned something of the sort to Scotty MacCloskey. But Scotty
hadn't paid any attention and the subject was dropped.

While he tried to straighten the puzzle out Sandy interrupted him
twice.

Each time he was told, unceremoniously, to "Shut up!" Now Sandy could
stand it no longer.

"Hey, Bill!" he said. "I think you're right about that being the Saver
of Souls. You know he jumped me over

Chesapeake Bay. I remember that swerve in to the left just before he
tripped his guns. He was coming in on my starboard side, out of line
of my guns. Just before we passed he kicked his ship around so that
his bullets would slash right across my nose. He underestimated his
speed or he would have knocked my head off. Then he zoomed as I stuck
my nose down."

"That's right," Bill said.

"But I don't understand what this is all about Bill. I can't put it
together. What--"

"Listen, kid," Bill said. "Don't ask me any questions. I don't know
any more about it than you. That's why I'm going to stay on his tail
and find out."

"You want to be careful he doesn't lead us into a trap," Sandy advised
with all the wisdom of his seventeen years.

"I'll watch that," Bill said, "while you see if you can pick up Tony
Lamport on the radio."

Sandy worked with painstaking care while Bill held the Lancer on the
tail of that dun-colored ship. He tried to get Tony on both of their
secret wave bands without success. Finally he gave up.

"We're out of range Bill," he reported.

At the same time Bill became aware of the cloud wall ahead. At first
it was almost imperceptible. But as they neared the Irish coast the
little amphibian ahead became a mere dot in the damp, swirling fog
that engulfed it.

Bill tried desperately to stay on its tail, hoping the front would
break before he lost it entirely. He plunged the Lancer into it,
holding the same airspeed and course, flying entirely blind. When he
came out on the other side the dun-colored ship had disappeared.

He cursed softly as he reached for the master tuning control on his
radio panel and picked up the radio operator at Foynes, near the mouth
of the Shannon. He got the direction and force of the wind and learned
that he would have unlimited ceiling.

Forty-three minutes later he took the Lancer into the Irish air
terminal for a workmanlike landing.

The manager of the terminal and the superintendent of operations met
him on the apron. Behind them were a score of "tin knockers,"
mechanics, grease monkeys and inspectors. They were there to get their
first glimpse of Bill Barnes and his famous Silver Lancer. He killed
his power plant to avoid injuring them as they swarmed toward him. He
waited until the manager had cleared a way for them, then he and Sandy
dropped over the side.

In the manager's office Bill tried to keep the excitement out of his
voice as he casually asked about the Memphis.

A worried expression fastened itself on the big Irishman's face.
"We're worried about her, Barnes," he said. "I thought perhaps you'd
have some word about her. I thought you might have picked her up on
your radio out over the Atlantic."

"What's the matter?" Bill asked, quickly, to forestall a possible
question he didn't want to answer.

"We don't know," the manager said. "When she was three hours out we
suddenly lost contact with her. She reported she was making good
progress through a fog area. After that there was silence. We have
made contact with steamers in her urea but they haven't been able to
give us any information. Unless something went wrong with her motors
she may be on the way back here. We're going to wait another half-hour
before we send out an alarm. It may be only her wire-less that is out
of order. We expect to hear from her at any time. But we can't help
worrying. You must be worrying about her, too, being a large
stockholder in Transatlantic."

"I am," Bill said. "I wonder if it is possible for me to get a
telephone call through to the Duke of Malbury at Arunway Castle in
Malthrop, England?"

"We can try," the manager said, reaching for the telephone. "Ill start
our operator working on it. You want to speak to the Duke of Malbury
personally?"

"That's right. Have them try to locate him if he isn't at Arunway."

Bill kept up a constant conversation while he waited for his
connection to be made. He avoided answering direct questions about the
Memphis a half-dozen times. He didn't want to tell this man about the
things he had seen because he didn't know how the other would handle
the situation. Bill realized he must get to the foundation of the
thing and find the men who were responsible for the destruction of the
Memphis if he was to save Transatlantic Transport. He knew it would be
the death of the line if he could not tell the story and then prove
it; He remembered quite distinctly how a ban had been put on the ships
of a certain company after several unexplained mishaps. The company
had disappeared into oblivion. And there was nothing he could do for
the Memphis, her passengers or crew. They were beyond help.

He started nervously as a telephone bell clanged.

"Here's your party, Barnes," the manager said. "They located him in
London."

Bill's hands were shaking as he took the instrument. "Hello, Mace," he
said into the mouthpiece to Norman Edward Chatagnier Eliott. Mace, the
seventh Duke of Malbury, whom he had saved from death while he was
excavating in the Valley of the Tombs of the Kings in Egypt.

"Are you there, Barnes?" Norman Mace answered with his precise British
accent. "This is delightful."

"No, it isn't," Bill said, hoping Mace would get the idea. "I'm at
Foynes on the Irish coast, as you know. I'm going to hop to Croydon
within a few minutes. Can you meet me there?"

"I say, Barnes, what's up?" the Duke of Malbury asked.

"Ill tell you when I see you at Croydon in--about an hour and a half.
Right?" Bill said.

"Right," Mace repeated. "I'll be there, Barnes. And I repeat it will
be delightful. Cheerio."

Bill put the instrument in its cradle and immediately began a great
fuss and bustle about getting away. He didn't want to be asked any
more questions.

As he took the Lancer into the air, a man who was a visitor to the air
terminal approached the manager on the apron. He was a small man with
an olive skin and dark eyes. He might have been a native of any one of
several countries of southern Europe.

"Wasn't that that American chap, Barnes?" he asked the manager in
excellent English.

"That's right," the manager said, admiration shining in his eyes.
"Bill Barnes."

"That is a great ship he has there. What is he doing over here?" the
small man asked.

"I don't know," the manager answered. "He's on his way to Croydon." He
looked down at the little man as Bill's ship became a mere speck in
the air to the east. "Why?" he added.

The small man shrugged his shoulders with a true Latin gesture and
moved away without answering.



VII--SPY SYSTEM

LONDON was a great mass of blurred lights through the fog hanging over
it as Bill cut south to pick up the steady beacons of Croydon. He
circled the great airport twice as he received landing instructions
from the radio control tower, then took the big ship in with a
precision landing that was characteristic of him.

He climbed out and saw the lean, tanned face of the man he had first
known in Jogam as Colonel Mace, and later in Egypt as the Duke of
Malbury, coming toward him. He noticed that his hair was a trifle
whiter and his military mustache more closely clipped than the last
time he had seen him. And then they were shaking hands. They were
genuinely glad to see one another. When Malbury had finished with Bill
he turned his attentions to the grinning Sandy.

"Are you still reading those books that teach you how to be the master
of your fate?" the Duke of Malbury asked Sandy.

"No," Bill said. "He has a new one now. At the moment he's collecting
autographs. You'll hear about it."

"Thanks for breaking it. Bill," Sandy said, whipping the little
leather-bound book out of an overall pocket. He turned over the pages
and stuck a pencil in the Duke's hand. "Just sign it there."

The Duke of Malbury wrote his name and chuckled. "You still work fast,
eh?"

"Can you arrange things so that they put the Lancer under lock and key
for me here?" Bill asked him.

"Easily," the duke said. "I have a motor here. Well roll down to
London. I'm anxious to hear your story. Knowing you, I know it won't
be prosaic."

A short time later the three of them were settled in Malbury's
chauffeur-driven Sunbeam landaulet.

"You'd better plug up that speaking tube so your chauffeur won't hear
us," Bill said when Malbury asked him a question.

"Righto." Malbury stuck a handkerchief into the mouthpiece.

Then Bill unfolded the things that had occurred to him during the past
twenty-four hours, interspersing them with an account of the man he
called the Saver of Souls.

They were deep into the heart of the great city of London before Bill
had finished. Malbury had only interrupted a half-dozen times to ask
questions.

Now, his breath exhaled through his lips in a long, low whistle. His
eyes were half-closed as he shook his head slowly from side to side.

"A tale I would not believe if it hadn't come from you, Barnes," he
said. "A most incredible thing."

"It is," Bill said. "I wouldn't believe it if it hadn't happened to
me. The thing is, where shall we start to find this man? He must be
somewhere in the British Isles. You know the ropes. You know who to go
to to start such a search. The man must have a vast amount of money.
You wouldn't hunt for him in the places you would look for the average
dangerous character. Every possible landing place in Ireland and
England must be checked to get trace of those dun-colored--biplanes."

"We'll have to know everything before we release the facts," Malbury
said. "I have a friend, a pal. Lord Hereburn---he's the man to go to.
We must start the ball rolling from the top. He is high up. All the
machinery of the home office will begin to click it he gives the word.
An ant couldn't get out of England then if they didn't want it to."

"Where can we find him?" Bill asked.

"Easy does it, my boy," Malbury said. "I'll have to locate him and
talk to him alone first. He isn't the kind you can walk in on. You
said you were going to the Hotel Cecil? You're sure you wouldn't like
me to put you up at one of my clubs?"

"No," Bill said. "I prefer to go to the Cecil until this thing is
over. Then, I would like to spend a few days with you at Arunway.
This," he added bitterly, "is supposed to be a holiday for me."

"Yes," Malbury said. "We'll rest up out at the old pile of rocks when
we get this thing straightened out. I'll drop you at the Cecil and
start my hunt for Hereburn. I may reach him immediately, or it may be
morning before I find him. You look as though you needed rest. You'd
better get it now because there is nothing you can do. We'll have the
jolly old ball rolling when you wake up."



Malbury's chauffeur helped them into the lobby of the Cecil with the
luggage they had brought with them.

"I'll ring you sometime tonight or the first thing in the morning,"
Malbury said as he turned away.

"Eight," Bill said. "I'll be anxious to hear from you."

His eyes were two bright coals and his face was lined and haggard.
Reaction had set in and he was tired as he could never remember being
before.

They were assigned two rooms with a bath between them in a quiet spot
on the third floor of the enormous hostelry. Bill picked up the
telephone in his room and asked for a waiter with a menu.

"I suppose we've got to eat something," he said to Sandy.

"Eat something?" Sandy said. "Say, if I don't get some food pretty
quick something serious is going to happen. I'm famished. I haven't
had anything to eat since we left Barnes Field."

"Who ate all those chicken sandwiches you brought along--your
automatic pilot?" Bill asked in disgust.

"I ate them," Sandy said. "But there were only twelve of them."

Bill ordered a light meal for himself and then turned the menu over to
Sandy. He got a bath while Sandy was ordering because even the mention
of food made him a little sick.

When the food was brought Bill couldn't help noticing the way the
waiter's eyes roved over the room and their possessions. When the man
brushed against him and let his hand flick across the two patch
pockets in his dressing gown, he knew he was trying to find out if
they were armed.

"The Saver of Souls knows how to handle his cutthroat business," he
said to himself. "He is probably going crazy because I stuck my nose
in his little scheme."

After they had finished eating Bill said to Sandy, "You hop in there
and turn your light out and get some sleep, kid." He followed Sandy
into his room and saw that the fire escape that was outside his own
room did not reach to Sandy's. There was a sheer drop of thirty feet
to the roof of the next building.

"Good night, kid," Bill said. "I'll let you know as soon as I hear
from Malbury."

"Okay, Bill," Sandy said. "Gosh, I'm sleepy."



VIII--THE QUIVERING KNIFE

WHEN Bill went back into his own room his nerves were jangling. He was
tired to the point of exhaustion, yet he didn't want to risk falling
asleep. He was almost certain that an attempt would be made to kill
him before morning, and he realized he couldn't stay awake to defend
himself. He thought of trying to get in touch with Malbury again and
have him secretly get a couple of men from Scotland Yard to guard him
while he slept. He discarded the idea as not being feasible. He
finally decided that his nerves were jumpy and his imagination was
running away with him.

But he didn't sleep in the soft, three-quarter bed that was in the
room. Instead he rolled up a blanket and put it in the bed where he
should have been. At the end of the blanket on the pillow he placed an
overall bunched up to give the general outline of his head.

Then he lay down on the couch that was against a wall, determined to
stay awake as long as he could. In three minutes his eyes were closed
and he was deep in sleep.

The room was shrouded in darkness, except for a thin stream of
moonlight cutting across the bottom of the window sill. There wasn't
any sound or the faintest rustle to disturb the quiet of the night.

Suddenly Bill was wide awake. Instinct warned him not to move, not
even to raise his arm to look at the luminous dial of his wrist watch.
The muscles in his body became tense, and he could feel perspiration
oozing from his face. He knew that something was in the room. He
continued to draw deep, even breaths as though he was still sleeping.

Then a tiny beam of light danced across the bed and was gone. For an
instant a lean brown hand had appeared in the beam of light--a hand
that clasped a knife. The blade was only four inches above the form in
the bed.

Bill waited to hear the knife swish down into the bedclothes and
rolled blanket. But no such sound came to his ears. He knew that the
person holding the knife had detected his ruse and was silently
waiting until he located the spot from which the sound of breathing
came.

Cold sweat ran into Bill's eyes as he conquered an almost overwhelming
desire to shout or leap to his feet and snap on a light. He knew that
when he moved he must be sure of the location of that figure or the
knife would find a resting place in his body.

He saw a faint shadow moving toward the little hallway that led into
the bathroom and Sandy's room. Slowly, without moving the rest of his
body, he brought his legs up. He knew he must stop that form from
getting into Sandy's room. Like a streak of lightning he whirled his
body off the couch to the floor.

For sixty long, horrible seconds he stayed as still as death itself
while he tried to locate the breathing of the intruder. His nerves
were taut and screaming as he wriggled silently toward the wall. He
tapped gently on the baseboard, then flattened himself out with his
cheek hugging the rug.

Something swished above his head and thudded into the wall, where it
vibrated back and forth angrily for a moment. Then the room was
absolutely still again. He listened for the faintest sound, the scrape
of a button or the exhaling of breath. When he could stand it no
longer he began to edge along the floor toward the hallway, a fraction
of an inch at a time. He knew the man across the room was waiting for
another move, probably worming his way toward him.

A button of Bill's pajamas scraped the floor and he hugged the rug
again. After a bit he continued. Beaching the ether side of-the room
he began circling it inch by inch. His eyes began to become adjusted
to the dark, and he could pick out various objects. None of them
faintly resembled a man.

He pulled himself upright along the wall where he knew the light
switch was located, and still there was no movement in the room. He
cursed himself for not having stuck an automatic in his pocket before
climbing out of the Lancer at Croydon. Switching on the light meant he
would be a perfect target if the intruder had a gun. And it was beyond
reason to hope that he didn't have a gun.

The cold, grey London dawn came creeping in the window while he stood
there trying to make up his mind what to do. He was certain that the
door to Sandy's room had not been opened, yet he was half afraid that
it might have been. As the room became lighter and lighter he realized
that in some mysterious manner the prowler had vanished. He switched
on the light.

The room was empty.

His piercing scrutiny stopped when his eyes fell on the knife sticking
in the wall, mute evidence that he had not been dreaming. He took two
quick steps and threw the door of Sandy's room open. Sandy was
peacefully sleeping.

Back in his own room he found that the door that led to the corridor
was unlocked. He was positive that he had locked it before he lay down
on the couch. He found the key on the floor and knew that it had been
pushed out of the keyhole from the outside.

He searched the room for some further evidence of the intrusion but
found nothing. The only memento was the wicked-looking knife sticking
in the wall. He decided to leave it where it was until he had talked
with Malbury again and it could be dusted for finger-prints. He knew
that the waiter might easily have been the intruder. He wondered how
he had managed to get out the door without making a sound.

After locking and bolting the door and window he climbed into the bed.
He was comparatively safe for the time being.

It was broad daylight when the peal of a telephone bell awakened him.
The clerk announced the Duke of Malbury calling.

"Please send him up," Bill said, adding, "And give me room service."

He ordered a pot of coffee and went into the bathroom to splash some
water on his face and comb his hair. He was hoping desperately that
Malbury had turned up something into which he could set his teeth. He
was beginning to blame himself for not having taken more drastic
action the night before. If Malbury hadn't uncovered something that
would lead him to the Saver of Souls, the man would be able to escape
entirely.

And Bill knew that if he told his story without proof at this late
date he would be laughed off the face of the earth.



IX--"LEAVE ENGLAND!"

BILL BABNES threw a dressing robe over his pajamas and answered the
knock on his door. Outside stood a uniformed bellhop.

"The Duke of Malbury, sir," the boy said and turned away as the dim
figure behind him stepped into the room and closed the door behind
him.

The man who stood there looked more like a duke than the Duke of
Malbury. But he was not the duke. He was a pleasant-faced man with
iron-grey hair and a strong face tanned by sun and wind. His pale eyes
were twinkling as he watched Bill's astonishment.

"You--" Bill began.

The man entered the room and threw his light-grey fedora and gloves on
a chair and opened his light fall coat.

"No," he said, "I'm not the Duke of Malbury. But he told me to use his
name. He said you might not admit me unless I did. It's a nice
morning, isn't it?"

"Yes," Bill said grimly. "It's a nice morning. And who the hell are
you?"

"My name is Aird, Mr. Barnes," the man said, and a pleasant smile
played on his lips as he held out his hand. "I'm sorry to have walked
in on you this way, impersonating the Duke of Malbury. When I saw your
astonishment I decided I'd better get into the room and close the door
before you threw me out. I'm with the Air Ministry. I've spent half
the night talking with Malbury and Lord Hereburn. When we came to a
decision they asked me to come and talk to you."

"But why didn't Malbury come?" Bill asked.

"We decided the whole thing should be handled on a strictly formal
basis," Aird said evenly. "Malbury was of the opinion, because of the
friendship that exists between you, that he could not present our
decision to you fairly. Malbury was entirely on your side, Barnes,
against Lord Hereburn and myself. He asked me to convey his best
wishes to you and wanted me to tell you that he would write to you and
see you at Barnes Field, Long Island, very soon."

"Malbury isn't going to see me again?" Bill gasped.

"No," Aird said. "We are of the opinion, Mr. Barnes, that the sooner
you get back to the States and forget this thing the better off things
will be for everyone."

"Forget it!" Bill shouted, and he could feel the blood beating against
his temples. "Like hell I'll forget it!"

"Perhaps I put that wrong," Aird said. "I meant forget it as far as
other people are concerned. We know you can't forget what you saw but
you can keep it to yourself and muzzle young Sanders."

"Listen," Bill said desperately. "If I'm not mistaken you are Sir
James Aird with D. S. C. and so forth after your name. You're known
around the world in aviation circles."

"That's right." Aird said. "I know this is a frightful blow to you,
Barnes. But the thing must be kept quiet."

"You mean," Bill said, "you're going to let those murderers get away
with it? Let them destroy a ship worth nearly a million dollars and
wipe out thirty or forty people? Why, it's a criminal action on your
part. You'll become an accessory after the fact. You'll be as guilty
as they are."

"Take it easy, Barnes," Aird said persuasively. "Calm down. There are
times when even nations must condone such things. Here is the
situation: We are of the opinion that this man you call the Saver of
Souls had nothing to do with the destruction of the Memphis. We--"

"Nuts!" Bill exploded, "to use a vulgar expression. I have engaged
that man three times in the air and I know his tactics. You are
treating me as though I was a child. Don't you suppose I know--"

"That particular trick by which you identified the man to Malbury is
an old one, Barnes," Aird interrupted. "I first used it twenty-two
years ago when I was a lieutenant in the Royal Flying Corps. I learned
it from a famous German ace. So, you see, you have nothing to
establish your identity of the man. Besides, you don't know who he
is."

"That's what we've got to find out," Bill said. "That man has been in
my hair long enough. I'll find him myself it you won't help me."

"No," Aird said firmly, "you won't. And I'll tell you why. England and
the United States are not the only nations that are flying the
Atlantic with passengers and mail and cargo. Remember that France,
Germany and Italy are doing the same thing. England and the United
States have the jump on them with larger and better planes. We have
also made more thorough surveys. Doesn't it occur to you that,
possibly, one of several companies in each of those countries might be
anxious to present Transatlantic from becoming the premier carrier
across the Atlantic? Suppose we go nosing into this thing and find
that, with the situation as delicate as it is today in Europe, one of
them is guilty? What will it mean if it is released to the public?
Only one thing. War!"

Bill Barnes stood in the center of the room, his legs widespread as
though to absorb the shock of a physical blow. His face was a mask of
hopeless fury. He could understand the wisdom in Aird's presentation
of the problem, but he refused to accept it. He told himself that he
would find the men guilty of the crime or die himself in the attempt.
Then he told Aird.

"That is all right," he said as calmly as he could. "I understand your
point of view. But what about Transatlantic Transport? It means the
death of the company. They will never be able to survive the
unexplained loss of their first passenger-carrying plane. Even though
I didn't have a large interest in the company I could not stand by and
see them ruined by such tactics."

"They can reorganize under another name and the public won't know the
difference," Aird said. "Their loss is probably covered by insurance."

"That isn't the point!" Bill roared. "You fellows can take it lying
down. But I won't! They sent a man here to this room last night to
murder me because I know what I know. Do you think I'm going to keep
on running away from this man who calk himself the Saver of Souls? He
wrote me a note one time telling me there was not room in the world
for both of us. I laughed at it. But now I know he was right. There
isn't room for a murdering rat, who kills defenseless people with the
connivance of the British Air Ministry, and me!"

"Those are pretty strong words, Barnes," Aird said softly. "And I
wouldn't advise you to go about repeating them. We're not interested
in your personal feud with the Saver of Souls. We're only interested
in the safety of England and we can't afford to become embroiled with
an enemy over this thing. We will, of course, put our secret agents to
work and when we reach a conclusion we will take suitable steps."

"You can't tie my hands!" Bill said. "I'll go ahead until I find him.
And I'll tell the world what happened!"

"Not while you're in England," Aird said. "Which will not be long.
Hereburn, Malbury and I decided that you must get out of the country.
We have enough troubles now without having you around with a tinder to
start more. I have been asked to respectfully request you to leave the
country at once."

For once in his life Bill Barnes was speechless. He could scarcely
believe what he had heard. A thousand thoughts flashed through his
mind as he stood there staring at Aird. A thousand thoughts that had
to do with the existing friendship between England and the United
States and his small part in it.

It is impossible to tell what he might have said at that moment if
Sandy Sanders had not opened the door of his bedroom and stuck his
tousled head out into the little hallway.

"Hey," he said, "what's all the shoutin' for? Can't you let a young
fellah get a little sleep?"

He hitched up the bottoms of his pajamas with one hand while he rubbed
his eyes with the other. Then he strolled into Bill's room in his bare
feet.

Some of the rage left Bill's face at the sound of his voice, and the
man who called himself Sir James Aird laughed outright.

"This," he said to Bill, "would be that young demon of the air. Sandy
Sanders."

"That's right," Bill said grudgingly. "Sandy, this is Sir James Aird
of the British Air Ministry."

"Is that so?" Sandy said as he shook hands with Aird. "I've heard a
great deal about you, of course. It's quite an honor to--" Suddenly,
he stopped talking and grabbed at his pajamas with his free hand. His
face lighted. "Say!" he said. "What about your autograph?"

"He collects 'em," Bill explained while Sandy darted into his room and
returned with the little leather-covered autograph book.

"Right there, please," Sandy said, opening the book and handing Aird a
pen.

Aird wrote his name and handed the book back to Sandy.

Sandy shook his head. "You didn't finish it," he said. "Put those V.
C.s and D. S. C.s and things like that on, too."

"Righto," Aird laughed.

"Get some clothes on kid," Bill snapped at him.

"Righto!" Sandy said, echoing Aird. He went back into his room. Bill
waited until he had closed his door.

"All right," he said to Aird, and there was utter hopelessness and
defeat in his voice. "I'll get out of England. I'll get out and I'll
never come back. But you can't muzzle me when I get back to the
States. I'll talk and I'll have young Sanders to verify what I say."

"That," Aird said smoothly, "is entirely at your own discretion. We
can't stop you from talking then. But I think, when you have had time
to cool off a bit and give the matter a little thought, you'll decide
to keep quiet. You'll do it to prevent people from calling you a
liar."

Bill didn't answer him. He knew he was licked and he was afraid to
speak because of what he might say. He stood in stony silence while
Aird bade him good-by and closed the door behind him.

Then he gave vent to his feelings. He was still cursing when the door
to Sandy's room flew open and Sandy came tearing in.

"Bill!" he screamed. "Where is he?'" Sandy was waving his autograph
book.

"He's gone, damn him," Bill said vehemently.

"Listen, Bill!" Sandy said, barely able to talk because of his
excitement. "That guy wasn't Sir James Aird. He's the rat who calls
himself the Saver of Souls!"

Bill gazed at him for a moment as though he thought he was crazy. Then
he got hold of himself because something in Sandy's expression
impressed him that he knew what he was talking about.

"Quick, kid," he said. "How do you figure it?"

"Remember I was studying handwriting and ventriloquism on our last
trip to South America when you first tangled with him? He wrote you a
note at that time and I studied it quite thoroughly and remembered it.
When I saw Aird's signature I was sure I had seen that writing before.
Finally, it came to me. And remember his voice the day he broke in on
the radiophone? They talked like the same man!"

For a split fraction of a second Bill stared at him. Then he leaped
for the telephone. He got the bell captain on the phone and asked him
to find out from the starter in front of the hotel where the man who
had just left his room had gone.

Then he started on a telephone quest for Lord Hereburn. Here Bill's
name worked magic. The telephone operator had located and had Lord
Hereburn on the wire within a few minutes.

"I'm sorry to be short, sir," Bill said to him. "But I've got to
hurry! Did the Duke of Malbury find you last night and talk to you?"

"Ah--ah--no," Lord Hereburn said.

"I haven't heard from him in--"

"Right!" Bill snapped. "You didn't see him! Listen carefully. The Duke
of Malbury dropped me at the Cecil Hotel last night at ten o'clock. He
was going to try to locate you. He was being driven by a chauffeur in
a Sunbeam landaulet. You'd better start tracing what happened to him
after that. He was to get in touch with me as soon as he had talked to
you. I believe he has met with some kind of foul play. I can't explain
further but I'll get in touch with you as soon as I can."

He hung up abruptly, snapped at Sandy: "Get into your clothes, fast,
kid!"

Again the phone rang, and Bill snatched it.

"The starter says he directed a cab driver to take him to Croydon
Airport outside London," the bell captain reported.

"Thanks," Bill said. "Have a fast car ready for me when I come down in
a few minutes. Did the starter know who the man was?"

"We know him as Mr. Mordecai Murphy, an American, sir," the captain
said.

"Thanks again!" Bill shouted, slamming down the receiver.

His mind was a seething mass of emotions as he made a connection with
Croydon and gave instructions to warm up the Lancer. He could hardly
believe what the bell captain had told him.

Mordecai Murphy! The Saver of Souls! They were one and the same! The
mystery man who was reputed to be a munitions king, an international
banker, a fomenter of human misery and suffering.

"Hurry like hell, kid!" he shouted at Sandy. "We have a real job on
our hands!"



X--FINAL TRICK

"DO YOU believe the Saver of Souls is Mordecai Murphy?" Sandy asked
Bill as their cab raced toward the great airport south of the city.

"I do," Bill said. "The part fits him perfectly. No one has ever been
able to explain Murphy. He is known to have his finger in things all
over the world. He has been accused of a thousand crimes in the press.
But no one has ever been able to prove anything against him. He is a
cunning, shrewd manipulator."

They saw the twin, three-bladed props of the Lancer idling on the
apron as they stepped out of the cab. At the same instant they saw
Mordecai Murphy, alias the Saver of Souls, alias Sir James Aird, climb
into a low-wing monoplane; he blasted the tail around and jockeyed
down across the field.

In that instant it came to Bill how close he had come to letting
Murphy bluff him out. He knew that in another few hours he would have
been at Croydon for an entirely different reason than he was there
now. He would have been making preparations to fly the Lancer back to
America. And he knew that he would have left his self-respect behind
him in England.

He raced across the apron with Sandy at his heels and dove into the
forward cockpit of the idling Lancer. The low-wing monoplane with
Mordecai Murphy at the controls was streaking away to the south as
Bill hung the Lancer on its props in pursuit.

"Get your swivel gun out, kid," Bill said into his telephone. "I'm
going to get him this time. He's going back and he's going to talk. I
should have had enough sense to know the British Air Ministry would
never send Sir James Aird to me with any such orders."

"You going to shoot him down. Bill?" Sandy asked.

"No," Bill said. "I'm going to force him down. I don't know where he's
heading. I want to stop him before he gets over the Channel."

"Do you think his ship mounts any guns?" Sandy asked.

"No," Bill said. "I don't think so. But be ready. That bird may pull
anything out of his hat. I'm going above him and trim off his nose to
force him lower."

The great chalk cliffs of Beachy Head were under their wings as Bill
got the nose of the low-wing monoplane under his telescopic sights.
The next instant his finger clamped down on his 37mm. cannon. He fired
a burst of five shells that were all tracers just above the nose of
the speeding plane.

He saw Mordecai Murphy's upturned face as those five shells danced
above his head. Then he banked the Lancer around on its right wing tip
as the monoplane flipped its tail into the air in a diving turn that
brought it closer to the choppy waves of the Channel three thousand
feet below.

Again Bill stuck the nose of the Lancer down to fire a burst as they
raced westward along the coast. This time the face of the Saver of
Souls was white and strained as he gazed up and back at the man who
rode his tail so relentlessly.

Bill knew that now he had his enemy where he wanted him. The other was
unarmed and flying a plane that was in no way a match for the Lancer.
For the first time Bill was engaged with him with the odds on his
side. He resolved that if he could not force him to land he would
shoot away his controls and force him to bail out.

Then the crumbling promontory of Culver Cliff on the Isle of Wight
flashed under their wings and they were above the rolling hills and
tranquil villages of the "bowl" at the southern end of the island.

Bill opened the throttles of the Lancer and raced ahead of the low-
wing monoplane. Then brought the nose up and around in a climbing turn
to race back at it with his Brownings yammering. He was trying,
desperately to force it back above the rolling country-side where it
could make a landing. He lifted the nose of the Lancer to keep his
bullets from driving into the cockpit of the little monoplane.

He was only fifty yards away from the little ship when he saw Murphy
lift the nose and heard the staccato chatter of a machine gun that was
not his own. At the same instant he felt bullets drumming into the
metal surface of the Lancer and felt it buck from the impact. He
yanked the stick back into his stomach and heard Sandy's scream of
warning as Murphy's bullets drove up through the belly.

As Bill leveled off he looked back and down and saw the machine-gun
trough along the engine housing of the monoplane, and he cursed at
himself for not having noticed it before. It was only a single .30-
caliber gun, but in the hands of Murphy it was equal to a half-dozen
weapons. He poured soup into his power plant and brought the Lancer up
and over on its back and rolled it level.

Murphy had dropped the nose of his little ship and was racing away to
the northwest.

Bill's face was a grim mask of determination as he eased the stick of
the Lancer forward and gunned his engines. Ahead the precipitous
cliffs of Fresh-water Bay climbed out of the Channel into the gorse
and heather of the downs. Everywhere the cliffs were cleft by jagged
ravines and glens, cut under by the sea and hollowed out into
waterside caverns. Bill knew that no one could survive a forced
landing at the base of those cliffs where deadly under-tows raged.

Back and forth from Blackgang Chine to The Needles along one of the
most rugged and lofty coasts of England raced the two ships. A half-
dozen times Bill could have blown the low-wing monoplane out of the
air with his explosive shells, but he wanted to take Mordecai Murphy
alive. He was entirely convinced now that Sandy was right. That the
man was Moredcai Murphy and also the Saver of Souls.

Suddenly, the black monoplane was zooming up underneath him with its
single machine gun spewing burst after burst. Lead chewed through the
leading edge of his port before he could slam the Lancer out of range.

The monoplane roared upward until it almost stalled, then flipped over
and came down on Bill's tail as he started a sweeping turn to the
left.

Bill heard the chatter of Sandy's 80-caliber machine gun as he half-
rolled out of that deadly hail of lead. The next moment they had
leveled off again and were roaring at one another with terrific speed.
Bill's fingers clamped down on his gun trips, only to have Murphy slip
the monoplane away. He came up and around in a lightning like
chandelle and dived on the speeding black ship. But when he clamped
down on his trips the monoplane crabbed out from under his sights as
though some unseen hated had flicked it out of danger.

Bill shook his head in disgust as he realized that he had
underestimated the skill of Mordecai Murphy again. Because he knew the
Lancer was superior to Murphy's ship he was hot bearing down hard
enough. He was letting Murphy slip away from him, knowing in the back
of his mind that he could shoot him down at any time if he wanted to.
But he was trying to puncture his tanks instead of wounding him. He
wanted him alive to tell his story.

Then they were roaring at one another again with their guns vomiting
fire and death. And this time Mordecai Murphy swerved his little black
monoplane in to the left for a death-dealing burst of fire just before
they passed. Bill kicked the Lancer off to his right to avoid the
monoplane as it zoomed upward.

They came up and back, each in a flashing chandelle, and now Murphy
seemed determined to stay in the fight instead of running away. He was
handling his ship with uncanny skill as they roared at each other
again at terrific speed.

Again Murphy pounced in to his left just before the two ships passed.
But this time his gun was silent and he did not zoom upward to avoid a
crash. Instead he held it hard on until it was too late for Bill to
realize his mad intent. The tips of the props of the two ships bit
into each other with a blood-curdling Impact as metal met metal. The
crash was like a mighty clap of thunder. For one terrible moment they
hung together, seemingly leashed, dangling in midair.

Then they fell away and began a twisting, tortuous descent toward the
delicately colored cliffs of Alum Bay, just beyond the gaunt,
projecting rocks reaching up to embrace them that were The Needles.

Bill Barnes struggled with all the power of his will to get his eyes
open. The dim room rolled around him in a dizzy circle that left him
sick.

"Take it easy. Bill," he heard a vaguely familiar voice say, a voice
tense with anxiety.

"He'll be all right in a bit," another voice said, and he was
conscious of something cool being rubbed over his face.

"Easy, easily, old chap," another voice said, and he could feel a
restraining hand on his arm as he tried to struggle upward.

Finally, he collapsed backward and closed his eyes again. After a time
he opened them. Things no longer danced before him. He gazed at the
anxious blue eyes and freckled face of young Sandy Sanders until he
recognized it.

"Hello, kid," he said. "What the hell happened?"

"Do you remember anything, Barnes?" another voice said, and when Bill
studied its owner's face for a moment he recognized the Duke of
Malbury.

"A little," he said weakly. "How long have I been out?"

"Three days, Bill!" Sandy said. "And was I worried!"

"What happened?" Bill asked again.

"We were tangled up with Mordecai Murphy, the Saver of Souls," Sandy
said. "He rammed us."

"Am I all right?" Bill asked.

"Just a bad concussion and bruises, and a broken arm," Sandy said.
"You've been conscious but delirious."

"Listen!" Bill said. "Did Murphy talk? Did he tell the truth about the
Memphis?"

"He couldn't talk. Bill," Malbury said. "He's dead. But we got Duncan.
We found him aboard Murphy's yacht at Cowes. That's where Murphy was
headed when you followed him. We found Duncan and we thought there
must be some connection because he was the head of International
Airways. He finally talked. The whole story has been released just as
you told it to me. All of England has been praying for your recovery."

A man who looked like a doctor said. "You'd better not tax his
strength too much at first, sir."

"Wait a minute," Bill said. "What happened to you, Malbury? Evidently
Lord Hereburn found you."

"Yes," Malbury said grimly. "They found me. I was being detained, to
put it mildly. But you'd better rest now. Bill. A surgeon had to
perform an operation to relieve the pressure on your brain. You'll be
all right in time but you'll need a long rest."

"Yeah," Bill said, and he managed a thin grin. "A holiday! That's what
I came over here for. What about you, kid? Didn't you get banged up at
all?"

"Just a few bruises and a couple of cuts on my head when I rammed it
into my crash pad," Sandy said.

"He did a really masterly job," Malbury said. "He brought the Lancer
out of a spin without any power and set her down right side up."

"What about the Lancer?" Bill asked.

"She'll need a lot of patching up."

Sandy said doubtfully. "I learned of an amphibian airplane factory on
the Isle of Wight. I had her hauled over there."

"Good work," Bill said. "How soon do I get out of this place?"

"In a few days," Malbury said. "You were lucky you didn't have a
fracture."

When you get out you're coming up to Arunwav Castle for a good long
rest."

"Yeah," Bill said again. "For a holiday!"



THE END



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