his throat. Ford had forgotten the gunner. For an instant
his heart leaped into his mouth; but Welsh was
staring oceanward, where another dim shape showed,
topped by a cloud of smoke, a receding steamer.
"She's the Katahdin. Matin' for sea, the Katy is.
CJoin' to run out the blow," he said. "That puts it up
to us, Skipper, to find that Manila steamboat afore she
sinks some coaster."
? - ? - 1 11 1 1 1 1
lord was not listening. 1 ne shock naa paralyzed mm.
But he had never doubted his star from the moment he
had chosen an evil one. Almost without elation he
realized that he was lrx >king down into the funnel tops
of the Government transport, sunk to her superstructure.
The bullion ship Manila!
But every* second was a hazard of discovery by the
sharp-eyed coastguard, keen on running down that
"floating menace to navigation." A twist of the steering
wheel threw the airship on her beam ends. Before
Welsh could recover balance, the aeroplane made the
abrupt half circuit, turning her back on the swamped
ship, headed back to shore. The little gunner swung on
Ford in spluttering wrath.
"W'at in thunder? Ye ain't goin' back, are ye?" he
shouted. "Ye ain't goin' to quit scouting?"
Ford motioned to the black skyline in the east. "It'll
hit us and smash us," he grated. "No aeroplane built
can hold up in a gale?"
"Won't she float? Ain't she got pontoons?" Welsh
raged. "Won't the boys get us? You goin' to chance
that drifter ridin' out the storm?in the ship lane? Ye
ain't no better'n a beachcomber! Ye ought to be fired,
The gunner was crying mad; but Ford sat like a
statue. Fire him, would they? Hoot him off the beach
for a quitter? The department couldn't do it too soon.
That would give him a free hand, and he would wire
Billy Handy in New York as soon as he could get to the
telegraph office across the bay. ()nce Billy's wrecking
company got their hands on the Manila, the coastguard
and the Government could go hang!
TU,. <> A ?-v 1 ri r* n ? < viic\ . 1i ./ 1 11 r\ 'llonrrei/ In flin elinrl nn fV?n
i iic aciu};iaiiu xuuuuvu up tuuu^oiuu niv. ouv.va un utv
bluff. Welsh dropped from it and swung away without
a word. The wind was rising to terrific volume; the
wash of the surf already flooded the beach. Down at
Ships Bottom station Ford glimpsed the storm flag
flying?red with a black center?and the crew were running
out the boat seeking higher ground. Besides the
life savers, there were wild looking men wandering along
"Beachcombers?I suppose I'm in that class.'' He
A Slanting Blow that Slither
remembered Welsh's hitter taunt, the uncharted derelict
lurking in the path of ships, and a shiver ran through
him. "Just the same, I'm fighting for more than my
lift?the girl? Hang their beach law!"
He turned to enter the shed to get his few belongings:
he had no intention of returning to the hangar again.
It was growing dark; out beyond the (iridiron reef the
sea was inky.
"Didn't come in any too soon, as it was?"
CUDDEXLY he stopj>ed, frozen in his tracks. Out of
the blackness in the east a thin are of red shot up,
then another. Rockets! From Ships bottom came the
hurried voices of men and the thumping of boat gear.
Ford saw the wireless operator running down from his
station, a hundred yards away.
"She's the Rio liner Brazil!" he shouted. "Hit something
off shore! Down by the head and washing in. she
is! Passengers aboard!"
The patrol came panting on his heels. "She's a big
black liner with her bow smashed in. She's making for
The next moment, in the glare of the storm lightning,
they all saw her driving in on the rocks, bows down. On
each side of the Gridiron the ocean flung shoreward,
covering the beach man deep with a monstrous surf. It
was no job for a lifeboat to try a rescue at sea, even if
the big white motor could live in those racking rollers.
The doomed liner was coming in too fast, as C;isco saw,
fetching in the vale with her.
o - - O
His voice boomed out above the rend of wind and
surf. "Tumble out the breeches buoy, Men! We'll
meet her down shore. Lively now!"
"We ain't got a show on the beach," Welsh cried.
"We got to shoot that steamboat from the flvin' machine
The broad wheeled sand wagon lay ready with
breeches buoy and tackle aboard. Captain and crew
sprang to the work of rescue, tailing on with roaring
chorus, hauling the heavy wagon along the scant ridge
of sand. Little Welsh, atop of it, calmly prepared for
action, coiling ropes and loading the line gun. Before
they had covered half the distance the black liner struck
with a sound of rending wood and squealing iron on
rock. Wind and current had her jammed tight in the
"A bully long shot she is too!" Welsh cried. "I dunno
but we'll have to send the sky skipper out arter 'cm."
\ orrim IrmcrVi f< i11ri\t*f?r1 Kr*r?1 ctnnrlincr liLrr? n <tnnp
? ?vy,iv/.,v^. - ^v?..v?w.h ' ~ "vv"^
man beside the prone aeroplane, suddenly sobbed and
sprang to help. A man put him rudely aside. "We
don't want no quitters butt in' in," he growled. Xot one
of the others noticed the aviator. Only Captain Casco
shot a side glance at him as he strode apart, watching
the stranded liner through his glasses.
With incredible speed the life savers unlimbered the
wagon, planted a sand anchor on the ridge behind the
aeroplane shed, and broke out the breeches buoy cable,
looping it over the roof. Welsh knelt behind the line
gun on the bluff.
"I reckon this is the fust time a breeches buoy's been
shooted to a sunk ship from a flyin' machine shed," the
gunner said. "Wonder will the old shanty stand? All
"Anchor planted! Hawser clear! Shot line coiled!
Mortar pointed!" Casco capped the regulation chant.
The lino wont hnrtlinu out tin the liner's slanting
deck they saw the rush of wreckage and men clinging to
MP- & iwMffnBMBHHI
W^m 3&* J&KSftMSk
ed the Airship a Dozen Yards Ahead.
stanchions, while others swarmed up the ship's shrouds.
"They jjot it, Jem!" Welsh cried. "It's up to you
'ru? a A?i: ...M. t.i l. 1
J IIU SCLUIIU UUUlJlt'U 1UR' >]JU!1 Will, \> 1 L 11 UIULK. illlU
tackle attached; then the wire hawser moved seaward.
As quickly as strong arms could haul it, it reeled off the
spindle, until it lay taut across the roof of the shed,
twanging like a big steel bowstring, over surf and intervening
reef, a sure path of rescue, from the anchor to the
The lifeline laid, a sudden silence fell. Then a hoarse
cry. "The wind's gone down?the back wash'11 push
her out! She'll snap our line!"
With impish malice, the gale seemed to stop for a
breathing spell. The wind dropped to fitful gusts. Re
lieved of its pressure, the bunked-up sea water rolled
back from the beach. They saw the receding flood ;
strike the ship, lift her, and force her from the reef. The <
buoy cable sprang upward, projecting a long fringe of
spray high in the air. They heard the strands of wire
snapping under the strain. Then the cable parted, midway
between ship and shore.
"She's took ground further out! Try it again!" said
Casco's stern voice.
Again the gun exploded; the white lifeline hissed out
of its coils in the box, wavering in the air like a threshing
serpent?only to fall short, with the shore end limp and
trailing. "Too far!" a groan and curse went up which
mingled with ominous groanings from the sea.
"Won't carry," Little Welsh cried. "An' that ship's
breakin' up!" The little man sprang up in-side the gun
that had failed him, and stood peering into the send of
the gale. "My God!" he cried passionately, "Nothin'
but a flyin' machine kin get those fellows! They're
"Jump for the boat," Casco said quietly. "We'll
never fetch 'em; but we'll go out trying. Duty's duty."
"It's my turn. I'm going," a voice answered him as
quietly. Ford stepped forward.
rPHROUGH all the tumult and the fighting the aviator
had stood aside, shamed, tortured, waiting, after
that first repulse. Whatever the life crew thought or
guessed, he knew, from the very first alarm of the wireless
operator, that the wrecked liner had struck the
Manila, the swamped transport that he had left floundering
in the darkness?when a wireless word to the
Katahdin would have put her out of power of mischief.
Hoping against hope, he had watched the men at work,
thrilling when they laid a path to safety, groaning when
they failed. In place of the wealth, health, and happiness
he bargained for, he was a pariah, with murder on
Welsh's wailing cry vitalized his brain with sudden inspiration,
that and Casco's solemn words. "If you
don't mind giving me a hand?" Ford said. "If you'll
toss over that dead line, the thin one, I'll make a try
at it. Can't do more than fail."
"You mean you'll carry the line out to her? In face
o' that?" Casco swept his great arm seaward. "It'll hit
1 - A1. a 1. 1 I Ol t _ __ 1_ _ 1 it. 1
again in a minute, tnai diow: one s oniy Dreaming, y
"All the more reason to hustle." Ford dragged the
nose of the aeroplane round and swung into the seat.
Already the motor was whirring.
"Ye said that darn thing won't turn round in a wind.
How d'ye expect to get back?" Welsh demanded incredulously.
Ford smiled. It was droll, this man who had shamed
him trying to deter him from death. "Curse
it! pass up the line! Do you want all those
people to drown?" he snarled in sudden
For a second there was no sound but
the droning motor. Then Casco strode forward
with the lifeline. "I kind o' suspieioned
it was in ye," the big Captain said.
"If the blow don't drop ye, the line'll carry
ye down. So long, Maty!" he put out his
^^BH Ford touched it with a reckless laugh.
"Duty's duty, Cap'n! Watch the line!"
^C/ITH the brief interlude, the momentary
"breathing spell'' -had already
BM^H passed. An ominous rumble came from the
sea, and a man's voice shrilled high from
somewhere, shouting warnings.
"Let her go!" Ford snapped. "Don't
let the line hitch!" He heard the unseen
man shout again; but the rush of the gale
set him gasping. "Smash and be hanged!"'
Launched into the flying scud,?into
eternity, for all he knew,?he put on all
Rfi|^B the power, hoping to offset the weight of
the line he carried. The squall caught him
in all its fury right over the Gridiron,
struck like a solid blast, and passed. After
the first upward dash, the aeroplane slowed,
slithering down to the sea. But the push
of the wind lifted the planes far above the
^ 1 rocks. Beneath him he saw the dark shape
of the ship, a flare streaming from her
TL? 1 ,1 ?4- I... L.11
i nt_* uuiopuiiK*, uhi^ru ui u\ ine IUII
length of rope, swooped over the liner
amidships. Ford jerked at the line that
Caseo had looped over the steering wheel.
A single tug sufficed to drop the leaded end,
and he braced himself to meet the sudden
upward rush. "I started you for Davy
Jones?there's a passport for earth again!''
he shouted, and whirled out to sea.
He dared not turn now; but a terrible
weight was lifted from him. He did not much care now
if he never got back. He felt drowsy. In the darkness
he could not judge his distance from the waves?from
A raucous screaming roused him, and another ominous
sound that chilled his blood. The power was giving
out! In the rush of events he had not thought to
replenish his tanks, and now? Well, now, listening to
the dvitnx motor he knew it was all tin. UI ran out the
shoestring, all right; but the last race landed me!" He
laughed, a reckless laugh that broke into panic gurgling.
A HUGE red eye blinked out of the east; then fiendish
yells filled the air. He had a vague sense of crashing
into some yielding, blinding, squalling thing. Then
the aeroplane struck, with the clanging of a boiler shop
at sea,?a slanting blow that slithered the airship a
dozen yards ahead, and sent him sprawling, half in and
Continued on page 17
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