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Title: The Airship "Golden Hind"
Author: Westerman, Percy F. (Percy Francis), 1876-1959
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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[Illustration: Cover art]



[Illustration: "’THE GOLDEN HIND’ RESCUES A SHIPWRECKED CREW."]



                       THE AIRSHIP "GOLDEN HIND"


                                   by

                           Percy F. Westerman

                               AUTHOR OF

             "THE SECRET BATTLEPLANE," "THE MYSTERY SHIP,"
                   "BILLY BARCROFT OF THE R.N.A.S.,"
                               ETC., ETC.



                             ILLUSTRATED BY
                            FLEMING WILLIAMS



                               Publishers
                               PARTRIDGE
                                 London
                                  1920



                         MADE IN GREAT BRITAIN



THE GREAT ADVENTURE SERIES


_PERCY F. WESTERMAN:_

The Airship "Golden Hind"
To the Fore with the Tanks
The Secret Battleplane
Wilmshurst of the Frontier Force


_ROWLAND WALKER:_

Deville McKeene: The Exploits of the Mystery Airman
Blake of the Merchant Service
Buckle of Submarine V2
Oscar Danby, V.C.

LONDON:
S. W. PARTRIDGE & CO., LTD.



                                  ――――



CONTENTS


    CHAPTER I--A STARTLING PROPOSITION
    CHAPTER II--FOSTERDYKE EXPLAINS
    CHAPTER III--THE "GOLDEN HIND"
    CHAPTER IV--THE DEPARTURE
    CHAPTER V--FIRST AWAY
    CHAPTER VI--Z64 SCORES
    CHAPTER VII--DELAYS
    CHAPTER VIII--CAST ADRIFT
    CHAPTER IX--THE ESCAPADE OF ENRICO JAURES
    CHAPTER X--UNDER EXAMINATION
    CHAPTER XI--"WITH INTENT"
    CHAPTER XII--CONFIDENCES
    CHAPTER XIII--THE TAIL OF A CYCLONE
    CHAPTER XIV--THE BOAT’S CREW
    CHAPTER XV--REVELATIONS
    CHAPTER XVI--THE OBSERVATION BASKET
    CHAPTER XVII--A SURPRISE FOR CAPTAIN PROUT
    CHAPTER XVIII--UNDER FIRE
    CHAPTER XIX--VICTIMS OF A REVOLUTION
    CHAPTER XX--WIRELESS REPORTS
    CHAPTER XXI--VON SINZIG’S BID FOR SAFETY
    CHAPTER XXII--THE END OF Z64
    CHAPTER XXIII--A DUMPING OPERATION
    CHAPTER XXIV--WITHIN SIGHT OF SUCCESS
    CHAPTER XXV--FIRE!
    CHAPTER XXVI--"WELL PLAYED, SIR!"

                                  ――――



                       The Airship "Golden Hind"



CHAPTER I--A STARTLING PROPOSITION


"What’s the move?" enquired Kenneth Kenyon.

"Ask me another, old son," replied his chum, Peter Bramsdean.
"Fosterdyke is a cautious old stick, but he knows what’s what.  There’s
something in the wind, you mark my words."

"Then you’re going to see him?"

"Rather!  And you too, old bean. Where’s a pencil?  We can’t keep the
telegraph boy waiting."

Bramsdean tore a form from a pad, scribbled on it the
reply--"Fosterdyke, Air Grange, near Blandford.  Yes, will expect motor
to-morrow morning," and he had taken the initial step of a journey that
man had never before attempted.

Kenyon and Bramsdean were both ex-flying officers of the Royal Air
Force. What they did in the Great War now matters little.  Sufficient is
it to say that had they belonged to any belligerent nation save their
own they would have been styled "aces"; but since in the Royal Air Force
details of personal achievements were deprecated, and the credit given
to the Force as a whole, they merely "carried on" until ordered to "get
out," or, in other words, be demobilised. Then, each with a
highly-prized decoration and a gratuity of precisely the same amount as
that given to an officer who had never served anywhere save at the Hotel
Cecil, they found themselves literally on their feet, relegated to the
limbo of civilian life.  It was not long before they found how quickly
their gratuities diminished.  Like many other ex-members of His
Majesty’s Forces, they began to realise that in smashing the German
menace they had helped to raise a menace at home--the greed and cupidity
of the Profiteer.

They were just two of thousands of skilled airmen for whom as such there
was now no need.  Commercial aviation had yet to be developed; trick
flying and exhibition flights lead to nothing definite, and only a very
small percentage of war-time airmen could be retained in the
reconstituted Air Force.

Kenyon and Bramsdean were not men to "take it lying down."  They had
pluck and resource and a determination to "get a move on," and within a
twelvemonth of their demobilisation they found themselves partners and
sole proprietors of a fairly prosperous road transport concern operating
over the greater part of the South of England.

But it wasn’t the same thing as flying. Looking back over those
strenuous years of active service, they remembered vividly the good
times they had had, while the "sticky" times were mellowed until they
could afford to laugh at those occasions when they "had the wind up
badly."

Then, with a suddenness akin to the arrival of a "whizz-bang," came a
telegram from Sir Reginald Fosterdyke, asking the chums to see him on
the morrow.

Sir Reginald Fosterdyke had been Bramsdean’s and Kenyon’s O.C., or, to
employ service phraseology, a Wing-Commander. On his demobilisation he
went to live at Air Grange, a large old-world house standing on high
ground, a good five miles from Blandford.  Very rarely he left his
country-house; his visits to town were few and far between, and his
friends wondered at the reticence of the versatile and breezy
Fosterdyke.  He seldom wrote to anyone. When he did, his correspondence
was brief and to the point.  More frequently he telegraphed--and then he
meant business. In pre-war days Air Grange was famous for its week-end
house parties.  The shooting, one of the best in the county of Dorset,
was an additional source of attraction to Fosterdyke’s guests.  But the
war, and afterwards, had changed all that.  Few, very few, guests were
to be found at Air Grange; the staff of servants was greatly reduced,
the well-kept grounds developed a state of neglect.  Sir Reginald’s
friends came to the conclusion that the baronet had become "mouldy."
They wondered what possessed him to live an almost hermit-like
existence.  Fosterdyke knew their curiosity, but he merely shrugged his
shoulders and "carried on."  His work in the world of aviation was by no
means ended.  It might be said that it was yet a long way from attaining
its zenith.

Early on the morning following the receipt of the baronet’s telegram Sir
Reginald’s car pulled up in front of the premises used as the
headquarters of the Southern Roads Transport Company. Kenyon and
Bramsdean, having given final instructions to their work’s foreman--a
former flight-sergeant R.A.F.--jumped into the car, and were soon
whisking northwards at a speed that was considerably in excess of that
fixed by the regulations.

Although of a retiring disposition, Sir Reginald Fosterdyke had made a
point of keeping in touch with his former officers. He had a sort of
personal interest in every one of them, and on their part they regarded
him as one of the best.  Whenever, on rare occasions, Fosterdyke ran
down to Bournemouth he invariably looked up Bramsdean and Kenyon to talk
over old times.  But being invited to Air Grange was quite a different
matter.  Vaguely, the chums wondered what it might mean, conjecturing
ideas that somehow failed to be convincing. Yet they knew that there was
"something in the wind."  They knew Sir Reginald and his methods.

Through Blandford, up and past the now deserted hutments where formerly
German prisoners led an almost idyllic existence in their enemy’s
country, the car sped on until it gained the lofty downs in the
direction of Shaftesbury.  Then, turning up a steep and narrow lane, the
car drew up at the gate of Air Grange.

It had to.  There was no gate-keeper to unlock and throw open the
massive iron gates.  That task the chauffeur had to perform, stopping
the car again in order to make secure the outer portals of Sir
Reginald’s demesne.

While the car remained stationary the two occupants looked in vain for a
glimpse of the house.  All they could see was a winding, weed-grown
road, with a thick belt of pine trees on either hand.  To the left of
the road and under the lee of the trees were half a dozen wooden huts,
unmistakably of a type known as temporary military quarters.  Smoke
issuing from the chimneys suggested the idea that they were in
"occupation," and a couple of dungaree-clad men carrying a length of
copper pipe on their shoulders confirmed the fact.  Somewhere from
behind the trees came the sharp rattle of a pneumatic drilling machine.

Kenyon glanced at his companion.

"What’s the Old Man up to, I wonder?" he enquired.  "Quite a labour
colony. Look--air flasks too, by Jove!"

A pile of rusty wrought-iron cylinders stacked on the grass by the side
of the path recalled visions of by-gone days.

"Something doing, that’s evident," agreed Bramsdean.  "What’s the stunt,
and why are we hiked into it?"

"Wait and see, old bird," replied Kenyon.

The chauffeur regained the car and slipped in the clutch.  For full
another quarter of a mile the car climbed steadily, negotiating awkward
corners in the rutty, winding path, until, emerging from the wood, it
pulled up outside the house of Fosterdyke.

No powdered footman awaited them. On the steps, clad in worn but
serviceable tweeds, stood Sir Reginald Fosterdyke himself.

The baronet--generally referred to by his former officers as the Old
Man--was of medium height, broad-shouldered, and deep-chested.  He was
about thirty-five years of age, with well-bronzed features, clean
shaven, and possessed a thick crop of closely-cut dark brown hair tinged
with iron grey.

He held out his left hand as Kenyon and Bramsdean ascended the stone
steps--his right hand was enveloped in surgical bandages--and greeted
his guests warmly.

"Glad to see you, boys!" he exclaimed. "It’s good of you to come.  Have
a glass of sherry?"

He led the way to the study, rang a bell, and gave instructions to a
man-servant whom Kenyon recognised as the O.C.’s batman somewhere in
France.

Sir Reginald sat on the edge of the table and whimsically regarded his
former subordinates.  At that moment, rising above the staccato rattle
of the pneumatic hammer, came the unmistakable whirr of an aerial
propeller.  To Kenyon and Bramsdean it was much the same as a
trumpet-call to an old war-horse.

"Sounds like old times, eh?" remarked Sir Reginald.

"Rather, sir," agreed Kenyon heartily, and, at a loss to express himself
further, he relapsed into silence.

"Experimental work, sir?" enquired Bramsdean.

Fosterdyke nodded.

"Yes," he replied in level tones.  "Experimental work, that’s it.
That’s why I sent for you.  I’m contemplating a flight round the world.
Keen on having a shot at it?"



CHAPTER II--FOSTERDYKE EXPLAINS


The two chums were not in the least taken aback with the announcement.
They knew the way of their late O.C.  On active service Fosterdyke was
in the habit of issuing orders for certain operations to be performed
without apparently considering the magnitude or the danger of the
undertaking.  The officer or man to whom the order was given almost
invariably executed it promptly.  In the few cases where the individual
instructed to carry out a "stunt" failed to rise to the occasion, that
was an end of him as far as his service under Wing Commander Sir
Reginald Fosterdyke went.  Fosterdyke had no use for faint-hearted
subordinates.

On the other hand, Kenyon and Bramsdean were astonished at being invited
to take part in what promised to be the biggest aerial undertaking ever
contemplated.  After nearly two years "on the ground" the prospect of
"going up" seemed too good to be true.

"Business difficulties, perhaps?" hazarded Fosterdyke, noting the faint
signs of hesitation on the part of the two chums. "Think it over.  But I
suppose you’d like to have a few particulars of the stunt before
committing yourselves?"

"I think it could be arranged, sir," replied Kenyon.  "As regards our
little show, we could leave it to our head foreman. He’s a steady-going
fellow and all that sort of thing.  It’s merely a question of a month, I
suppose?"

"Less than that.  Twenty days, to give a time limit," declared the
baronet.  "Either twenty days or--_phut_!  However, I’ll outline the
salient features of the scheme.

"Like a good many others, it arose out of an almost trivial incident--a
bet with an American Air Staff officer whom I met in London just after
the Yankee seaplane NC4 flew across the Atlantic--or rather hopped
across.  Without detracting from the merits of the stupendous
undertaking, it must be remembered that the seaplane was escorted the
whole way, and alighted several times _en route_.  The Yankee--General
U. B. Outed is his name--offered to bet anyone $50,000 that an American
aircraft would be the first to circumnavigate the globe.

"Half a dozen of us took him on; not that we could afford to throw away
an equivalent to ten thousand pounds, but because we had sufficient
faith in the Old Country to feel assured that the accomplishment of a
flight round the world would be the work of a British owned and flown
machine.

"Shortly after the wager was accepted came the news that R34 had flown
from East Fortune to New York in 108 hours, making the return journey in
76 hours. That rather staggered General Outed, I fancy, and he had a
greater shock when Alcock and Brown covered nearly 2,000 miles between
Newfoundland and Ireland without a single stop.

"Things from a British aviation point of view looked particularly rosy;
then for some obscure reason our Air Board appeared to let the whole
matter of aerial navigation slide, or, at any rate they gave no
encouragement. The big dirigibles were dismantled and sold; powerful
aeroplanes were scrapped, air-stations were closed, and in a
parsimonious wave of retrenchment even our old Royal Air Force was
threatened with ignominious relegation to a corps under the control of
the War Office.

"About three months ago a wealthy Swiss--a M. Chauvasse--who had made a
pile in the United States, offered a prize to the value in British money
of £25,000 to be given to the first airman to circumnavigate the globe,
either in a lighter or a heavier than air machine.  The prize is open to
all comers, and already a Yankee and a German have announced their
intention of competing."

"A Hun!" exclaimed Kenyon.  "I thought that Fritz, under the terms of
the armistice, had to surrender all his aircraft."

"But he hasn’t," remarked Fosterdyke, drily.  "Nor is he likely to; and
if the Allies haven’t the means to enforce the terms, that’s not my
affair.  If a Hun does compete, let him.  That’s my view. Providing he
doesn’t resort to any of his dirty tricks, there’s no valid reason why
the door should be banged in his face.  Because he’s down and out is no
reason why we should continue to sit on him.  Commercially, I regard
German goods as a means to reduce the present extortionate prices of
things in England.  I’m no believer in dumping, I never was; but if our
manufacturers cannot compete with the products of a country beaten in
war and torn by internal troubles, then there’s something wrong
somewhere. But I am digressing.

"Briefly, the terms of the contest are as follows: any type of machine
or engine can be employed, and as many descents as are necessary to
replenish fuel and stores. A start can be made from any place chosen by
the competitor, but the machine must finish at the same spot within
twenty days. Again, any route can be chosen, so that full advantage can
be taken of existing air stations, but--and this is a vital point--in
order to fairly circumnavigate the globe, competitors must pass within
one degree of a position immediately opposite the starting-point.  Do
you follow me?"

"What is known in navigation as Great Circle Sailing," replied
Bramsdean.  "If a start is made somewhere on the 50th parallel North,
the halfway time will be somewhere 50 degrees South, with a difference
of 180 degrees of longitude."

"That’s it," agreed Sir Reginald.  "Now the difficulty arises where to
find two suitable places answering to these conditions.  With the
exception of a small part of Cornwall the whole of Great Britain lies
north of latitude 50....  Therefore, to reach the 50th parallel in the
Southern Hemisphere would mean making a position far south’ard of New
Zealand--where, I take it, there are no facilities for landing and
taking in petrol.

"Nor is the vast extent of the United States any better off in that
respect.  I think I am right in saying that there is no habitable land
diametrically opposite to any place in Uncle Sam’s Republic."

Fosterdyke produced a small globe from a corner of the room in order to
confirm his statement.

"And the old Boche is a jolly sight worse off," said Kenyon.  "I don’t
suppose any British Dominion will tolerate him.  It’s certain he won’t
be allowed to fly over any Allied fortress, so where is he?"

"Paying the penalty for his misdeeds," replied Sir Reginald, grimly.
"It’s not exactly a case of _vae victis_.  If he’d played his game, he
would have taken his licking with a better grace because it wouldn’t
have hurt him so much."

"How many competitors are there for the Chauvasse Stakes, sir?" asked
Bramsdean.

"A Yank, a Hun, and myself," replied Fosterdyke.  "That is, up to the
present. For some reason the idea hasn’t caught on with our fellows.
Probably there’ll be a rush of entries later on--perhaps too late. I’ll
show you my little craft; but before doing so I’ll give you a few
details of the contest.

"My idea is to start from Gibraltar--for the actual race, of course.
I’ll have to take my airship there, but that’s a mere detail.  Why
Gibraltar?  Here’s an encyclopædia, Kenyon.  Look up the position of
Gib."

"Lat. 36° 6’ N.; long.  5° 21’ W.," replied Kenyon, after consulting the
work.

"And the antipodes of Gib. would be lat. 36° 6’ S.; long. 174° 39’ E.,"
continued the baronet.  "The longitude, of course, being easily
determined by adding 180 to that of Gibraltar.  Now the next thing to be
done (as a matter of fact I’ve determined it already) is to find a
habitable spot approximating to the second set of figures.  Look up
Auckland, Kenyon."

"Auckland is lat. 36° 52’ S.; long. 174° 46’ E.," replied Kenneth.
"Why, that’s less than a degree either way."

"Exactly," agreed Fosterdyke.  "The next point is to determine the air
route between the two places, so as to make the best of the prevailing
winds.  When one has to maintain an average speed of fifty miles an hour
for twenty days the advantage of a following wind cannot be ignored."

"Your ’bus’ll do more than that, sir," remarked Peter Bramsdean.

"She’ll do two hundred an hour," declared the baronet, emphatically.  "I
haven’t had a trial spin yet, but she’ll come up to my expectations.
It’s the stops that lower the average.  Naturally I mean to take the
east to west course.  It means a saving of twenty-four hours.  If I took
the reverse direction, I’d be a day to the bad on returning to the
starting-point. The actual course I’ll have to work out later.  That’s
where I want expert assistance.  Also I want the aid of a couple of
experienced navigators.  And so that’s why I sent for you."

"We’re on it," declared both chums.

"I thought as much," rejoined Fosterdyke with a smile.  "There’s one
thing I ought to make clear--the matter of terms."

Kenyon made a deprecatory gesture.

"Not so fast, Kenyon," protested his chief.  "It’s a rock-bottom
proposition. Twenty-five per cent. of the prize if we are successful is
your collective share.  If we fail, then I’m broke--absolutely.  I’ve
sunk my last penny into the concern, because I’m hanged if I’m going to
sit still and let a foreigner be the first to make an aerial
circumnavigation of the globe.  Now let me introduce you to the airship
’Golden Hind.’"



CHAPTER III--THE "GOLDEN HIND"


"Appropriate name the ’Golden Hind,’" remarked Bramsdean, as the three
ex-R.A.F. officers made their way towards the concealed hangar.  "That’s
what Drake’s ship was called, and he was the first Englishman to
circumnavigate the world."

"Yes," replied Fosterdyke.  "We must take it as an augury that this
’Golden Hind’ will do in the air what her namesake did on the sea."

"Not in every respect, I hope," said Kenneth Kenyon, with a laugh.
"Drake did a considerable amount of filibustering on his voyage, I
believe."

"Ah, yes," answered Sir Reginald. "Those were good old days.  Now left,"
he added.  "Mind yourselves, the brambles are a bit dangerous."

Turning off the grass-grown road and down a side path, the two chums
found themselves entering a dense thicket that formed an outer fringe of
the pine wood.

"Short cut," remarked Fosterdyke, laconically.  "Now, there you are."

A glade in the woods revealed the end of a lofty corrugated iron shed,
the hangar in which the "Golden Hind" was fast approaching completion.
The baronet "knew his way about."  He knew how to deal with the
dictatorial and often completely muddled officials who ran the Surplus
Disposals Board, and had succeeded in obtaining, at a comparatively low
cost, a practically new airship shed, together with an enormous quantity
of material.

"Now tell me what you think of her," he said, throwing open a small door
in the rear end of the building.

Kenyon and Bramsdean paused in astonishment at what they saw.  The
"Golden Hind" was neither airship nor aeroplane in the strict sense of
the word, but a hybrid embodying the salient features of both. The
fuselage, constructed almost entirely of aluminium, was a full 120 feet
in length, and enclosed so as to form a series of cabins or
compartments.  Amidships these attained a beam of 15 feet, tapering fore
and aft until the end compartments terminated in a sharp wedge.
Wherever there were observation windows they were "glazed" with light
but tough fire-proof celluloid, sufficiently strong to withstand
wind-pressure.

On either side of the hull, as Fosterdyke termed it, were six planes
arranged in pairs, each being 30 feet in fore and aft direction, and
projecting 25 feet from the side of the fuselage.  Thus the total
breadth of the "Golden Hind" was well under 60 feet.  On angle brackets
rising obliquely from the fuselage were six large aluminium propellers,
chain-driven by means of six 350-h.p. motors.

"Some power there," remarked Kenyon, enthusiastically.

"Rather," agreed Sir Reginald.  "Sufficient to lift her independently of
the gas-bag, while in the unlikely event of the motors giving out there
is enough lifting power in the envelope to keep her up for an indefinite
period.  Did you notice the small propellers in the wake of the large
ones?"

"Yes, sir," replied Bramsdean.  "Left-handed blades."

"Precisely," agreed Fosterdyke.  "They work on the same shaft, only in a
reverse direction.  It’s a little stunt of mine to utilise the eddies in
the wake of the main propellers.  Yes, petrol-driven.  I tried to find
an ideal fuel, one that is non-inflammable or practically so, except in
compression; but that’s done me so far.  There’s a huge fortune awaiting
the chemist who succeeds in producing a liquid capable of conforming to
these conditions.  I even made a cordite-fired motor once--something on
the Maxim-gun principle, fed by cordite grains from a hopper.  It did
splendidly as far as developing power was concerned, but the difficulty
of excessive consumption and the pitting of the walls of the cylinder
did me.  However, my experiments haven’t all been failures. Now look at
the gas-bag."

"It’s only partly inflated," observed Peter.

"No, fully," corrected Fosterdyke.  "The envelope is a rigid one of
aluminium, subdivided into forty-nine compartments, each of which
contains a flexible ballonet.  Each ballonet is theoretically proof
against leakage--in practice there is an almost inappreciable porosity,
which hardly counts for a comparatively short period, say a month. The
gas isn’t hydrogen, nor is it the helium we used during the war.
Helium, although practically non-inflammable, is heavier than hydrogen.
Fortunately, I hit upon a rather smart youngster who had been in a
Government laboratory before he joined the R.A.F. With his assistance I
discovered a gas that is not only lighter than hydrogen, but is as
non-inflammable as helium.  I’ve named the stuff ’Brodium,’ after the
youngster who helped me so efficaciously.  When this stunt’s over, we’re
going to work the gas on a commercial basis, but for the present it’s
advisable to keep it a secret.

"You observe that the section of the envelope is far from being
circular.  The horizontal diameter is three-and-a-half times that of the
vertical.  That gives less surface for a side wind, and consequently
less drift, while the ’cod’s head and mackerel tail’ ought to give a
perfect stream-line."

"You carry a pretty stiff lot of fuel with those motors," remarked
Kenyon.

"Rather," was the reply.  "Enough for 5000 miles; which means, allowing
for deviations from a straight uniform course, about six halts to
replenish petrol tanks. We carry no water ballast of any description.
When the fuel supply runs low, there is a tendency for the airship to
rise, owing to the reduced weight.  To counteract this, a certain
quantity of brodium is exhausted from the ballonets into cast-iron
cylinders, where it is stored under pressure until required again.  The
leakage during this operation is less than one-half per cent. Now we’ll
get on board."

Past groups of busy workmen the three ex-officers made their way.  Both
Kenyon and Bramsdean noticed that the men worked as if they had an
interest in what they were doing.  Several they recognised as being in
the same "Flight" in which they had served on the other side of the
Channel.

"Like old times," said Kenyon in a low voice.

"Rather, old son," agreed his chum.

They boarded the "Golden Hind," where workmen were putting finishing
touches to the interior decorations of the cabins.  The floor was
composed of rigid aluminium plates, corrugated in order to provide a
firm foothold, and temporarily covered with sacking to prevent undue
wear upon the relatively soft metal.

The door--one of the four--by which they entered was on the port side
aft.  It opened into a saloon 20 feet by 7 feet, which in turn
communicated with a fore-and-aft alley-way extending almost the extreme
length of the fuselage.

"We’ll start right aft and work for’ard," said Fosterdyke.  "If you can
suggest any alterations in the internal fittings, let me know.  It often
happens that a new arrival spots something that the original designer
has overlooked."

"Must have taken some thinking out, sir," remarked Bramsdean.

"M’yes," agreed Sir Reginald.  "I’m afraid I spent some sleepless nights
over the business.  This is my cabin."

The chums found themselves in a compartment measuring 15 feet in a
fore-and-aft direction and 10 feet across the for’ard bulkhead, the
width diminishing to the rounded end of the nacelle.  It was plainly
furnished.  A canvas cot, a folding table, and two camp chairs
comprising the principal contents.  The large windows with celluloid
panes afforded a wide outlook, while should the atmospheric conditions
be favourable, the windows opened after the manner of those in a railway
carriage.

Retracing their steps, the chums inspected the motors immediately
for’ard of the owner’s cabin.  Each was in a compartment measuring 10
feet by 6 feet, leaving an uninterrupted alley-way nearly 3 feet in
length between.

"The fuel and oil tanks are underneath the alley-way," Fosterdyke
pointed out. "I’m using pressure-feed in preference to gravity-feed.  It
keeps the centre of gravity lower.  What do you think of the engines?"

"Clinking little motors," replied Kenyon, enthusiastically, as he
studied the spotlessly clean mechanism with professional interest.

"There are six motor rooms, three on each side," observed the baronet.
"I’m taking twelve motor-mechanics to be on the safe side.  When we are
running free, one man will look after two engines, but in any case half
the number will be off-duty at a time.  Now, this is your cabin."

He opened a sliding-door on the port side, corresponding with the
officers’ dining-room on the starboard side.  It was a compartment 20
feet by 6 feet 6 inches, with a bunk at each end running athwartships,
and as plainly furnished as the owner’s quarters.

"Heaps of room," declared Bramsdean, "and warming apparatus, too."

"Yes," replied Fosterdyke, "we had the exhausts led under the cabins.
Nothing like keeping warm at high altitudes. Warmth and good
food--that’s more than half the battle.  See this ladder?"

He indicated a metal ladder in the alley-way, clamped vertically to the
outer wall of the cabin.

"Leads through that hatchway," he continued, "right to the upper surface
of the envelope.  There’s an observation platform--useful to take
stellar observations and all that sort of thing.  But you won’t find a
machine-gun there," he added with a laugh.

Passing between the ’midship pair of motor-rooms, Fosterdyke halted in a
door-way on the port side.

"Pantry and kitchen," he remarked.

"I’m taking a couple of good cooks.  All the stoves are electrically
heated.  There’s a dynamo working off the main shaft of each of the
’midship motors.  The starboard one provides ’juice’ for the kitchen;
that on the port generates electricity for the searchlights and internal
lighting. Underneath are fresh water tanks and dry provision stores."

On the port side corresponding to the kitchen were the air-mechanics’
quarters; while beyond the for’ard motor room the alley-way terminated,
opening into a triangular space 30 feet long and 12 feet at its greatest
breadth.

"The crew’s quarters," explained Fosterdyke.  "Ample accommodation for
eight deck-hands and the two cooks.  You’ll notice that the head-room is
less than elsewhere.  That’s because of the navigation-room overhead."

The chums looked upwards at the ceiling. There was no indication of a
hatchway of any description.

"You gain the navigation-room from the alley-way," explained Sir
Reginald, noting their puzzled glances.  "Saves the inconvenience of
disturbing the ’watch below’ by having to pass through their quarters.
Up with you, Kenyon.  Thank your lucky stars you’re not a bulky fellow.
Mind your head against that girder."

Bramsdean followed his chum, the baronet bringing up the rear.

The combined chart-room and navigation compartment was spacious in
extent, but considerably congested with an intricate array of levers,
telephones, indicators, switches, and a compact wireless cabinet. In the
centre was a table with clamps to hold a large-size chart.  Right "in
the eyes of the ship" was a gyroscopic compass, which, by reason of the
needle pointing to the true, instead of the magnetic, north pole,
greatly simplified steering a course, since those complicated factors,
variation and deviation, were eliminated.  Altimeters, heeling
indicators, barometer, thermometer, and chronometer, with other
scientific instruments, completed the equipment of the room, which was
in telephonic communication with every part of the airship.

From the car the three men ascended to the interior of the envelope,
climbing by means of aluminium rungs bolted to the flexible shaft.  Once
inside the rigid envelope, it was possible to walk the whole five
hundred feet length of the airship along a narrow platform.  From the
latter crossways ran at frequent intervals so that access could be
obtained to any of the ballonets.

The interior reeked of the strong but not obnoxious fumes of the
brodium.

"Leak somewhere," remarked Kenyon, sniffing audibly.

"Yes," agreed Fosterdyke, "one of the supply pipes gave out this
morning; otherwise you wouldn’t know by the sense of smell that the
envelope was fully charged."

He struck a match and held it aloft. It burned with a pale green flame.

"I wouldn’t care to do this with hydrogen," he remarked.
"Non-inflammability of the gas practically does away with all risk.
When you recall the numerous accidents to aircraft in the earlier stages
of the war, you will find that in over eighty per cent. they were caused
by combustion. Of course I’m referring to disasters other than those
caused directly by enemy action. Now, carry on; up you go ... no, hold
on," he added, as a bell rang shrilly just above their heads.

"One of the workmen coming down," said Fosterdyke.  "Opening a flap at
the top of this shaft automatically rings an alarm, otherwise anyone
ascending might stand the risk of being kicked on the head by the feet
of someone else descending."

"By Jove!  I know that chap!" exclaimed Kenyon, after the mechanic had
descended the long vertical ladder.

"Yes, it’s Flight-sergeant Hayward," added Bramsdean.  "He got the
D.C.M. for downing two Boche ’planes over Bapaume."

"That’s right," agreed the baronet. "Jolly fine mechanic he is, too.  Do
you happen to know how he came to join the Royal Flying Corps?  No; then
I’ll let you into a secret.  It was in ’16 that he enlisted.  Previous
to that he was a conscientious objector, and, I believe, a genuine one
at that.  What caused him to change his opinions was rather remarkable.
Do you remember that Zepp raid over Lancashire?  Hayward was driving a
motor-lorry that night somewhere up in the hills north of Manchester; a
bomb fell in the road some yards behind him and blew the back of his
lorry to bits.  He came off with a shaking and a changed outlook on
life.  Next morning he joined up.  Yes, Hayward’s quite a good sort;
he’s been invaluable to me."

"Had any trouble from inquisitive outsiders, sir?" asked Kenyon.

"No, none whatever," replied Fosterdyke. "Touch wood.  People in the
village hereabouts have seen enough aircraft during the war to take the
edge off their curiosity. As for our rival competitors, well, if they
can pick up a wrinkle or two it will make the contest even more
exciting."

"If we succeed there’ll be a stir," said Bramsdean.

"Yes," agreed the baronet; "it’s the first who scores in these
undertakings. See what a fuss was made when the Atlantic was first flown
by aeroplanes.  If the feat were repeated, not a fraction of public
interest would be directed to it. The novelty has gone, as it were.
Even interest in the flight to Australia--in itself an epic of courage,
skill, and determination--was limited.  Sensations of yesterday become
mediocrities of to-day.  For instance Blériot’s flight from France to
England: see what an outburst of excitement that caused.  Since then
thousands of machines have crossed the Channel without exciting comment.
Now I think I’ve shown you everything that is to be seen.  How about
lunch?"



CHAPTER IV--THE DEPARTURE


"Will next Monday suit you fellows to take on officially?" enquired
Fosterdyke, as the chums prepared to depart.  "I want a trial flight on
that day, and if it proves satisfactory, I’ll make a formal entry at
once.  M. Chauvasse stipulates that all entries must reach him in
writing by noon on the thirtieth.  That leaves us with only eight days
clear."

"Monday it is, sir," replied Kenyon, promptly.  "We’ll have everything
fixed up as far as our private business is concerned before then.  In
fact, we could arrange to join earlier--couldn’t we, Peter?"

Peter Bramsdean signified his agreement.

"Hardly necessary," observed Fosterdyke. "But if anything unforeseen
transpires before then I’ll wire you."

During the next few days there was much to be done in "squaring up" the
motor transport work.  Notices were issued stating that the principals,
Messrs. Kenyon and Bramsdean, would be away for six weeks, during which
time all orders could be safely entrusted to their works manager. Even
that individual had no inkling of the nature of his employers’
forthcoming absence.  The secret, jealously guarded, had not yet leaked
out.

On the other hand, the Press published a report of M. Chauvasse’s offer
and stated that three entries other than British had been received.  The
lack of enterprise on the part of British airmen was commented upon and
an appeal issued to sportsmen to make an effort to prevent yet another
record passing into the hands of foreigners.

On the day following this journalistic jeremiad came the report that a
British airship of unique design was approaching completion at a private
aerodrome near Blandford, and that the Air Ministry had given
instructions for all facilities to be afforded to its crew in their
attempt to circumnavigate the globe within a space of twenty days.
Details, both erroneous and exaggerated, were given of the mysterious
airship, together with plans that were as unlike those of the "Golden
Hind" as those of a modern dreadnought would be compared with those of
Drake’s famous ship.

"That will rattle the Old Man," declared Kenyon, when he read the
announcement.

It did.  Fosterdyke sent a wire asking his two assistants to join him at
once.  That was on the Friday morning.  At 2.30 P.M.--or in Air Force
phraseology 14.30--Kenyon and Bramsdean arrived at Air Grange, to find a
vast concourse of would-be spectators congregated round the gates,
backing up the efforts of a knot of persistent Pressmen who cajoled,
bluffed, and argued--all in vain--with the imperturbable Hayward and
four hefty satellites.

The grassy slopes outside the formidable fence resembled Epsom Downs on
Derby Day.  Momentarily motor-cars were arriving, while at frequent
intervals heavily laden char-a-bancs rumbled up and discharged their
human cargo.  Motor-bicycles, push-bikes, traps and carts added to the
congestion.  Thousands of people arrived on foot--from where goodness
only knows!  Hawkers and itinerant purveyors displayed their wares;
photographers, both amateur and professional, elbowed their way towards
the forbidden ground; while three brass bands and at least a dozen
individual musicians added to the din.  On the outskirts temporary
platforms had been erected, while hirers of telescopes, field and opera
glasses did a roaring trade, people willingly paying to gaze at the
impenetrable barrier of fir-trees in the vain hope of catching a glimpse
of the mysterious airship.

It took Kenyon and Bramsdean the best part of an hour to literally force
their way through the throng.  By dint of shouting "Gangway, please,"
they continued to make a certain amount of progress until their arrival,
coupled with the ex-sergeant’s efforts to make the crowd stand aside,
attracted the attention of the representatives of the Press.

For five minutes the latter bombarded the chums with questions, getting
inconsequent replies that put the reporters on their mettle.

"If we aren’t allowed in, we’ll take jolly good care you won’t be,"
shouted one of the Press representatives, evidently mistaking Peter and
Kenneth for favoured spectators.

There was a rush towards the gates.  The half a dozen policemen
assisting Hayward and his men were almost swept off their feet.  Things
looked serious.  If Kenyon and his companion succeeded in getting past
the gate it would only be in the midst of an excited mob.

Just then Sir Reginald Fosterdyke appeared.  Some of the local
inhabitants recognised him, and the report of his identity quickly
spread.  So when he raised his hand to enjoin silence the crowd surging
around the gate ceased its clamour.

"By preventing my navigating officers you only defer your own ends," he
exclaimed in ringing tones.  "The airship is not yet ready for flight,
nor is she open to inspection.  A trial flight has been fixed for Monday
next.  On that day the aerodrome will be thrown open to public
inspection.  And," he added, with a disarming smile, "there will be no
charge for admission."

Almost instantly the demeanour of the crowd changed.  There were calls
for cheers for Sir Reginald Fosterdyke.  Someone started singing: "For
he’s a jolly good fellow."

The baronet turned and hurried away precipitately.  Publicity he hated.
Kenneth and Peter, taking advantage of this diversion, slipped inside
the barrier and found Fosterdyke awaiting them beyond the bend of the
carriage drive.

"Good old British public," he exclaimed. "By Jove!  They put the wind up
me.  I thought that they would be swarming like locusts over the ’Golden
Hind.’  We’ll have to circumvent them.  Only last night some of the crew
found a fellow prowling round the shed.  Goodness only knows what for.
He pitched some sort of yarn, and since we aren’t under the Defence of
the Realm Act I couldn’t detain him.  But this crowd scares me.  We’ll
get out to-night, even if we have to drift, and they can have the run of
the place on Monday, as I promised.  But I said nothing about the
airship being here or otherwise.  Where’s your kit?"

"Somewhere between here and Blandford railway station," replied Peter.
"We saw we’d have our work cut out to force our way through, so we told
the taxi-driver to take it back to the station.  It isn’t the first time
we’ve parted with our kit, eh, Kenneth?"

"I’ll send for it when the crowd thins," decided Sir Reginald.  "Now I
suppose you’re wondering why I telegraphed for you?"

"The swarm outside offers a solution," said Kenyon.

"To a certain extent, yes," agreed Fosterdyke.  "Apart from that,
there’s a reliable report that Captain Theodore Nye, of the United
States Army, is starting from Tampa, Florida, to-morrow in one of the
large airships of the ’R’ type that the Air Ministry sold to America
recently.  That forces our hand.  We’ll have to be at the
starting-point--1100 miles away--by to-morrow mid-day, so as to
replenish petrol and commence the competition flight before midnight."

"And how about the Boche, sir?"

"Count Karl von Sinzig?  Not a word. He’s apparently out of it.  Not
even one of the ’also rans.’  Our formidable rivals are the Yankee and a
Jap--a Count Hyashi--who will reach his Nadir somewhere in Uruguay.  Let
’em all come--the more the merrier."

All hands, including the workmen and mechanics who were not
participating in the voyage, assembled in the large dining-hall for an
impromptu farewell dinner, and to them the baronet broached the subject
of the hurried departure of the "Golden Hind."

The meal over, the task of getting the huge airship out of her shed
began.  Even though the wind was light the work was by no means simple.
Incautious handling or a sudden change in the direction of the air
currents might easily result in disaster. The operation had to be
carried out after sunset and with the minimum of artificial light,
since, for the present, the "Golden Hind’s" departure was to be kept
secret.

With her ballonets charged sufficiently to give her a slight lift, the
airship rose until the base of the fuselage was a bare three feet from
the ground.  The crew were at their stations, Kenyon assisting
Fosterdyke in the wheelhouse, while right aft Peter Bramsdean directed
the movements of the "ground-men" holding the stern, securing, and
trailing ropes.

Inch by inch, foot by foot, the leviathan of the air emerged from the
shed until her entire length, straining gently at the rope that tethered
her to mother earth, lay exposed to the starlit sky.

"All clear, sir!" reported Bramsdean through a speaking-tube.

Curt but precise orders rang out from the navigation-room.  The slight
hiss of the brodium being released from the metal cylinders was barely
audible above the sighing of the wind in the pine-tops until the gauges
registering the "lift" of the airship indicated thirty-eight tons.

Armed with a megaphone, Fosterdyke leant out of the window of the
navigation-room.

"All ready? ... Let go!"

Simultaneously the twenty men holding the airship released their hold.
That was where training and discipline told, for terrible to contemplate
would have been the fate of an unwary "ground-man" had he retained his
grip on the rope.  But without an accident to mar the momentous event,
the "Golden Hind" shot almost vertically into the air, attaining in a
very short space of time an altitude of six thousand feet.

Not a cheer rang out to speed the departing competitor for the
stupendous contest. Unheard and unseen save by the loyal band of helpers
at the aerodrome, Sir Reginald Fosterdyke’s airship was on her way to
the starting-point of her voyage round the globe.



CHAPTER V--FIRST AWAY


Hanging apparently motionless in still air, although virtually she was
drifting in a southerly direction at a modest ten miles an hour, the
"Golden Hind" maintained her altitude for the best part of half an hour
before any attempt was made to start the motors.  She was now to all
intents and purposes a non-dirigible balloon, floating aimlessly in the
air.

Peter Bramsdean, his work aft accomplished, made his way to the
navigation-room, where he found the baronet and Kenyon watching the
galaxy of lights far beneath them.

"We’re drifting over Poole Harbour," observed Fosterdyke.  "That’s
prohibited for private owned aircraft; but who’s to know?"

"I often wonder what would happen," said Peter, "if a non-dirigible
drifted over a prohibited area.  Hang it all!  The balloonist couldn’t
control the wind, neither can the Air Ministry, so what’s the poor
fellow to do?"

From their lofty post of observation the officers of the "Golden Hind"
could see the coast-line standing out distinctly in the starlight.  Away
to the south-east the powerful St. Catherine’s Light threw its beam
athwart the sky in a succession of flashes every five seconds.  Nearer,
but less distinct, could be seen the distinctive lights of The Needles
and Hurst Castle.  Then a curved line of glittering pin-points--the
esplanade lamps of Bournemouth.  To the south-west the lesser glare of
Swanage and beyond the glow of Anvil Point Lighthouse. Lesser lights,
like myriads of glow-worms, denoted scattered towns, villages, and
detached houses ashore, while right ahead and for the most part visible
only by the aid of binoculars, could be discerned the red, green, and
white navigation lights of shipping passing up and down the Channel.

The three men watched the nocturnal panorama almost without emotion.
The sight would have moved a novice into raptures of delight, but to the
veteran airmen there was little new, except perhaps that in the place of
star-shells, searchlights, "flaming-onions," and exploding shrapnel were
the lights of a nation once more at peace with her neighbours even if
not so with herself.

Fosterdyke glanced at a clock set upon the bulkhead.

"Time!" he announced laconically.

Indicators clanged in various parts of the ship.  Within a few seconds
the six motors, started by compressed air, were roaring.  Swaying
slightly under the resistance of the gas-bag overhead, the airship
gathered way.  In place of complete calm came the rush and whine of the
wind as the "Golden Hind" leapt forward.

"May as well be on the safe side," remarked Fosterdyke.  "Switch on the
navigation lights, Kenyon.  I don’t fancy another ’bus barging into us."

He gave an order through a voice tube. Promptly one of the crew appeared
from below.

"Take her, Taylor," said the skipper, indicating the helm.  "Following
wind--no drift.  Course S. ¾ W."

"S. ¾ W. it is, sir," repeated the man, peering into the bowl of the
gyroscope compass.

"Now, you bright beauties, take my tip and turn in," said Fosterdyke,
addressing Peter and Kenneth.  "There won’t be much doing to-night, I
hope, so you may as well make the best of things.  If you’ll relieve me
at four, Kenyon? ... Good."

The chums left the navigation-room and made their way to their cabin.
Here, although adjoining one of the motor-rooms, there was comparatively
little vibration, but the noise was considerable.

"We’ll get used to it," observed Peter, as he proceeded to unpack his
luggage, which had been brought from Blandford station and put on board
only a few minutes before the "Golden Hind" parted company with terra
firma.  "Seems like old times. Hanged if I thought I’d ever be up
again."

"Between ourselves I’d prefer a ’bus," confided Kenyon.  "Doesn’t seem
quite the right thing being held up by a gas-bag."

"Be thankful for small mercies, you old blighter!" exclaimed his
companion.  "Turn in as sharp as you can, ’cause it’s your watch in four
hours’ time."

It seemed less than ten minutes before Kenyon was awakened.  His first
impression was that he was being roused by his batman, and that illusion
was heightened by the fact that the man held a cup of tea.

"Ten to four, sir," announced the airman.  "I’ve made you something
hot."

Kenneth thanked the man, drank the tea, and slipped out of his bunk.  He
was aware as he donned his clothes that the "Golden Hind" was pitching
considerably.  Peter, sound asleep, was breathing deeply.  There was a
smile on his face; evidently his dreams were pleasant ones.

On his way for’ard Kenyon stopped to exchange a few words with the
air-mechanic tending the two after motors.

"Running like clocks, sir," replied the man in answer to Kenneth’s
enquiry.  "If things go on as they are going now, I’m on a soft job."

The first streaks of dawn were showing in the north-eastern sky as the
relieving pilot clambered up the ladder and gained the navigation-room.
Fosterdyke, busy with parallel rulers and compass was bending over a
chart.

"Mornin’," he remarked genially, when he became aware of the presence of
his relief.  "Everything O.K.  Doing eighty, and there’s a stiff
following wind--force five.  Altitude 5500, course S. ¾ W. That’s the
lot, I think.  We ought to be sighting the Spanish coast in another
twenty minutes."

Fosterdyke waited until the helmsman had been relieved, then, giving
another glance ahead, he turned to Kenyon.

"We passed something going in a westerly direction at 1.15 A.M.," he
announced. "An airship flying fairly low.  About 2000, I should think."

"Not a competitor, sir?"

"Hardly.  No one but a born fool would think of taking a westerly course
round the earth if engaged in a race against time.  We were passing over
Belle Isle, on the French coast, at the time, and it rather puzzled me
why an airship should be proceeding west from the Biscayan coast."

"French patrol, possibly," suggested Kenyon.

"Or a Hun running a cargo of arms and ammunition to Ireland.  I
signalled her, but she didn’t reply.  Right-o!  Carry on."

Fosterdyke went to his cabin, to sleep like a log.  He was one of those
fortunate individuals who can slumber almost anywhere and at any time,
but rarely if ever did he sleep for more than five hours at a stretch.
Even after a strenuous day’s mental and physical work he would be "as
fresh as paint" after his customary "caulk."

Left in the company of the airman at the helm, Kenyon prepared to accept
responsibility until eight o’clock.  He took up his position at the
triplex glass window, the navigation-room being the only compartment
where celluloid was not employed for purposes of lighting.  It was a
weird sight that met his gaze.  Overhead and projecting from beyond the
point of the nacelle was the blunt nose of the gas-bag, the port side
tinted a rosy red as the growing light glinted on it, the starboard side
showing dark grey against the sombre sky.  A thousand feet below were
rolling masses of clouds, their nether edges suffused by dawn.  Between
the rifts in the bank of vapour was apparently a black, unfathomable
void, for as yet the first signs of another day were vouchsafed only to
the airman flying far above the surface of the sea.  Already the stars
had paled before the growing light.  Wisps of vapour--clouds on a higher
plane to the denser ones below--were trailing athwart the course of the
"Golden Hind," until, overtaken by the airship’s high speed, they were
parted asunder, to follow in the eddying wake of the powerful
propellers.

In the navigation-room, being placed right for’ard, the jerky motion of
the fuselage that was noticeable in Kenyon’s cabin was greatly
exaggerated.  It was a totally different sensation from being in an
aeroplane when the ’bus entered a "pocket."  It reminded Kenyon of a
lift being alternately started up and down with only a brief interval
between.  Rather vaguely the pilot wondered what he would be like at the
end of twenty-one days of this sort of thing.

"Bucking a bit, isn’t she, Thompson?" he remarked to the helmsman, who,
relieved of the responsibility of maintaining a constant altitude by the
fact that the airship was automatically controlled in that direction,
was merely keeping the vessel on her compass course.

"Yes, sir," replied the man.  "She’ll be steadier when we trim the
planes."

"Might have thought of that before," soliloquised Kenyon.  He remarked
that the six "wings" were secured in a horizontal position.  For the
present the "Golden Hind" was kept up solely by the lift of the brodium
in the ballonets.  Not until it was fully light would Fosterdyke reduce
the gas in the ballonets and rely upon the planes for "lift."

A quarter of an hour later, while Kenyon was engaged in making an entry
in the log, the helmsman reported land ahead.

The "Golden Hind" was approaching the Spanish coast, not in the hostile
way in which her namesake did, but on a friendly voyage across a country
that, if not exactly an ally, is bound by strong ties to Great Britain.

The airship was soon passing over Santander.  Ahead the Cantabrian
Mountains reared themselves so high in the air that the "Golden Hind"
had to ascend another three thousand feet to ensure an easy crossing.

At eight o’clock Fosterdyke appeared in the navigation-room.  Under his
orders the airship’s speed had been sensibly diminished.  He intended to
put to a practical test the lifting powers of the six planes.

Close behind him came Bramsdean, on whom the duties of officer of the
watch devolved for the next four hours.

"Well, old bird," he observed, genially addressing his chum.  "How goes
it?"

"Fresh as paint," replied Kenyon, "but as hungry as a hunter."

"Then hook it," continued Peter.  "The cook’s dished up a sumptuous
breakfast."

Kenyon made a hurried but ample meal. He was anxious to see how the
"Golden Hind" manoeuvred as an aeroplane.

Upon returning to the navigation-room he found that the six
comparatively small wings were being tilted to an effective angle, while
a large quantity of brodium was being exhausted from the alternate
ballonets into the pressure-flasks, until there was only enough "lift"
remaining in the envelope to prevent it dropping earthwards and thus
disturbing the stability of the fuselage by acting as top-hamper.

Simultaneously instructions were telegraphed to the air mechanics
standing by the six motors to increase the number of revolutions.

The change was instantly appreciable. No longer did the "Golden Hind"
pitch. She settled down to a rapid, steady motion, her speed being not
far short of 150 miles an hour.

"No ailerons," explained Fosterdyke. "Horizontal and vertical rudders
only. Saves a lot of trouble and complication of gear."

"Stunts not permissible, sir?" asked Kenyon.

"No," he replied.  "They are not. We’re out to do something definite,
not to let the Spanish have an exhibition of an airship making a
spinning nose-dive or looping the loop.  But we’ll do a volplane, just
to test the gliding powers of the ’bus."

He touched a switch by which a warning bell rang in each of the motor
rooms.  This was to inform the mechanics that the electric current would
be simultaneously cut off from the six motors, so that there would be no
need on their part to endeavour to locate faults that did not exist.

"Cut out!" ordered Fosterdyke.

Bramsdean promptly depressed a small switch by the side of the
indicator-board. This automatically cut off the ignition. The propellers
made a few more "revs." and then came to a standstill.  In almost
absolute silence, save for the whine of the wind in the struts and
tension wires the "Golden Hind" began her long, oblique glide earthward.

Suddenly Kenyon gripped the baronet’s arm.

"Look!" he exclaimed.  "Airship!"

Fosterdyke did as requested.  The "Golden Hind" was manoeuvring high
above La Mancha, the undulating well-watered plain between the Montes
del Toledo and the Sierra Morena.  Six thousand feet beneath the airship
the town of Ciudad Real glinted in the slanting rays of the morning sun.

"Our shadow--that’s all," declared Fosterdyke.

"No, not that," protested Kenneth. "More to the left."

He grasped a pair of binoculars and looked at the object that had
attracted his attention.  It was a somewhat difficult matter, owing to
the refraction of the triplex glass in front of the navigation-room,
where, in contrast to the rest of the windows, fire-proofed celluloid
had not been employed.

Before Kenyon had got the airship in focus the baronet had also spotted
it. Apparently it had just left its shed and was heading in a
south-easterly direction, differing a good four points from that
followed by the "Golden Hind."

"By Jove!" exclaimed Kenyon.  "It’s a Fritz!  I can spot the black
crosses on the envelope."

"In that case," added Fosterdyke, calmly, "Count Karl von Sinzig has
stolen a march on us.  He’s one up!"



CHAPTER VI--Z64 SCORES


Count Karl von Sinzig was certainly the "first away."  Typically
Teutonic, he had succeeded in throwing dust in the eyes of his rivals.
Acting upon the principle "Do others or they’ll do you," he was leaving
no stone unturned to pull off the big prize; and, figuratively speaking,
a good many of the stones were too dirty for a clean sportsman to
handle.

For one thing von Sinzig had obtained his airship by fraud, although
none of the other competitors were aware of the fact. Formerly in the
German Air Service, the count managed to smuggle one of the Zeppelins
out of the shed at Tondern, taking it by night to an aerodrome in East
Prussia.

According to the terms of the Peace Treaty, Germany was to surrender all
her airships.  How she evaded the stipulation is now well known.  The
Zeppelins at Tondern and other air stations in Sleswig-Holstein were
destroyed by fire deliberately, to prevent them falling into the hands
of the Allies.  This act of bad faith was similar to the scuttling of
the Hun fleet at Scapa; and the tardiness of the Allies to obtain
reparation merely encouraged the Huns to other acts of passive defiance.
But, although the destruction of the airships was taken as an accepted
fact, it was unknown outside certain Junker circles that one of the
Zeppelins had been removed before the conflagration.

Revolutions and counter-revolutions, in which the fire-eating von Sinzig
had several narrow escapes from death, led the count to seek pastures
new; and about this time the publication of M. Chauvasse’s terms for the
international contest suggested to the Junker count the possibility of
making good his financial losses.

Gathering a crew of airmen who had had experience in Zeppelins during
the war, von Sinzig flew the airship to Spain, crossing Austria and the
north of Italy during the night, and carefully avoiding French territory
on his aerial voyage.

In a secluded part of the mountainous Estremadura he had practically his
own way.  The Alcaldes of the nearest surrounding villages were easily
bribed to leave the mysterious airship and its foreign owner severely
alone.  From stores of German war material "sold" to Spain von Sinzig
obtained gas cylinders, petrol, spares, and even a baby "Albatross"--a
small yet powerful monoplane.  With folding wings this machine could
with ease be stowed away in the car of the airship. With German
thoroughness the Count, looking well ahead, foresaw that the Albatross
would probably serve a most useful purpose in helping him to win the
coveted prize.

The honour of being the first man to fly round the world took quite a
subsidiary place in von Sinzig’s plans.  Since Germany did not own a
square inch of territory outside Europe, he was compelled to make use of
alien lands in which to alight.  That was a handicap, and the thought of
it rankled.  There was some consolation to be derived from the prospect
of wresting the big prize from a hated Englishman, a despised Yankee, or
a miserable yellow Jap.  And he meant to do it--somehow.

Already Germans had resumed their "peaceful penetration" of Great
Britain and the United States.  Commercial travellers, representing
German houses and at the same time potential spies, were able to
ascertain with little difficulty particulars concerning the British and
American competitors for the Round-the-World Flight. The moment von
Sinzig learnt of the date of Sir Reginald Fosterdyke’s departure from
England, he anticipated the time by starting the day before the British
airship was supposed to leave Gibraltar.

This was a comparatively easy matter. According to the terms of the
contest, competitors had to obtain a clearance certificate from an
official of the International Airways Board.  Provided the flight were
completed within twenty days of the date of the certificate the
principal condition was complied with, while it was furthermore
specified that the certificate could be post-dated to the extent of
twelve hours to allow for the time taken up in transmission from the
Board’s representative to the actual competitor.

In von Sinzig’s case he scored again. Employing a swift motor-car, he
obtained the official _visé_ at Madrid, and was back at the rendezvous
within two and a half hours, the atrocious roads notwithstanding.

Everything was in readiness for the start, and at ten in the morning Z64
left her shed and, flying at a comparatively low altitude, made off in a
south-easterly direction.

The German was counting on forty-eight hours’ start of his English
rival--possibly more.  He had been informed that the "Golden Hind"
proposed leaving England on the following Monday.  Fosterdyke really
meant to have started on that day, and only the exuberant demonstration
of the crowd outside Air Grange had made him alter his plans.  It was a
lucky stroke, for Fosterdyke’s secret intelligence department was at
fault.  According to information received from Germany, Count von Sinzig
was a non-starter.  Incidentally it was the count who had set that
rumour afloat. It was but one of the many petty artifices upon which he
built his hopes of carrying off the Chauvasse Prize.

Chuckling to himself, Count von Sinzig stood beside the helmsman of Z64,
quite in ignorance of the fact that a few thousand feet above him was
the British airship which he fondly thought was resting in her shed in
far-off England.



CHAPTER VII--DELAYS


"Avast stunting!" declared Fosterdyke. "Let’s get on with it.  Full
speed to Gib."

Everyone on board realised that every minute was precious.  With her six
motors running "all out" the "Golden Hind" quickly worked up to her
maximum speed of 180 miles an hour.  At that rate the petrol consumption
was alarming, but Fosterdyke faced the fact cheerfully.  While he was
obtaining the necessary certificates and making an official declaration
to the authorities at Gibraltar, the airship could replenish her
somewhat depleted fuel tanks.

But Sir Reginald had not taken into account the vagaries of red tape and
petty officialdom.

At 11 A.M. the "Golden Hind" sighted the historic Rock.  Five minutes
later she slowed down and turned head to wind off the west side of the
fortress.  With the assistance of a dockyard mooring-party, a stout
galvanised steel wire was lowered from the bow compartment of the
fuselage and secured to a large mooring buoy off the Detached Mole.
Then with sufficient gas in her ballonets to keep her buoyant the
"Golden Hind" floated head to wind at 50 feet above the Bay of
Gibraltar.

Almost before the mooring operations were completed the water in the
vicinity was crowded with boats of all sorts, sizes, and descriptions,
while the water-front was packed with a dense concourse of interested
spectators, representatives of the umpteen nationalities to be found
living on the few square miles of thickly-populated rock.

"Nothing you want ashore, I suppose?" enquired Fosterdyke as he prepared
to descend a wire ladder, the end of which was being steadied by a
couple of bluejackets in a picket-boat.

"Thanks, no," replied Kenyon.

"That’s good," continued the baronet, fervently.  "Hate having to
execute commissions.  Not that I don’t like obliging people, but I’m so
deucedly forgetful. Right-o; stand by.  I’ll be back in less than a
couple of hours, I hope.  Come along, Bramsdean."

Agilely Fosterdyke swarmed down the swaying ladder, followed at a safe
distance by Peter, who carried a parcel of documents and a Mercator’s
chart on which the proposed route was marked for the benefit of the
International Air Committee’s representative and also the "Competent
Military Authorities" of the various garrisons where the "Golden Hind"
was scheduled to land.

Peter Bramsdean had plenty of experience of petty officialdom at the Air
Ministry.  He well remembered the time--running into hours all told--of
weary waiting in draughty corridors until it pleased certain individuals
holding high places to signify their condescension (conveyed by a pert
damsel in brown overall and a pigtail tied with an enormous bow) to
receive the insignificant lieutenant.

Here it was much the same.  The officials who were considered
indispensable in the matter of signing various documents were "out to
lunch."

A look of horrified amazement overspread the features of the minion to
whom Fosterdyke suggested that time would be saved by sending for them.
The British Empire might totter; the chance of winning fame by being the
first airman to fly round the globe be lost; but by no possibility must
such trivial details prevent officialdom from having its lunch--a
movable feast occupying normally from one o’clock till three.

"Hang it all, Bramsdean!" exclaimed Fosterdyke explosively during one of
the numerous periods of forced inaction. Clearly the usually unruffled
baronet was showing signs of annoyance.  "Hang it all!  It was ever
thus.  Petty hirelings whose one idea of efficiency is to raise
obstacles and to quibble over unimportant details; those are the
stumbling blocks. For twopence I’d cut the cackle and carry on."

"And be disqualified at the winning post," reminded the cautious Peter.
"We’re wasting precious time----"

"It’ll be an unofficial competition, then," declared Fosterdyke.  "The
honour of achieving the flight will be enough.  The money prize can go
hang.  Come along, let’s make tracks."

"I vote we look up the Commissioner at his private quarters," suggested
Bramsdean. "After all, the ’Golden Hind’ won’t have refilled her petrol
tanks yet."

"’Spose not," growled Fosterdyke. "Someone’s illegible signature’s
required for the indents, I presume.  Right-o, Bramsdean, let’s rout out
this indispensable."

Somewhat to Peter’s surprise the official was discovered with little
difficulty.  He had just finished his lunch, and as the meal had been a
satisfying one, he was in high good humour.

"So Count von Sinzig has five hours’ start, eh?" remarked the worthy
representative of the International Air Board. "That’s nothing.  You’ll
make that up easily.  The documents?  Ah--yes--quite so.  Unfortunately,
the seals are in my office.  I’ll be along there very shortly."

"Isn’t your signature enough?" asked the baronet.

The great one hesitated.  On the one hand, he wanted to impress his
callers by admitting that his signature was "absolutely it."  On the
other, years of punctilious devotion to the ethics of red tape urged him
to deprecate such a cutting of the Gordian knot.

"No, Sir Reginald," he replied.  "Both are necessary.  One is not
conclusively in order without the other.  I’ll be at the office by
three."

It was now a quarter-past two.  Fosterdyke felt strongly inclined to
enquire pointedly why three-quarters of an hour would be taken up by the
Commissioner in getting from his quarters to his office.

By ten minutes past three the various documents were sealed and signed.
As the competitors were on the point of taking their departure the
Commissioner spoke again.

"I don’t seem to have seen Form 4456," he observed dryly.  "That had to
be obtained before you left England."

"It wasn’t," replied the baronet, bluntly. "An oversight, I admit, but
you don’t suggest that I return to England to get it?"

"It is necessary," was the rejoinder. "Without it the flight would not
be in order. In fact, as an authorised representative of the
International Air Board I can rule you out of the contest."

"Piffle!" declared Fosterdyke hotly. He was rapidly nearing the end of
his restraint.  "This, I may observe, is a contest of aircraft, not a
paper competition. Form 4456 is not an absolute essential. Since you
require it, I presume the case can be met if my representative in
England has the form made out and sent to you by registered post.  It
will be in your hands before the ’Golden Hind’ completes the circuit."

The Commissioner consulted a ponderous tome, chock-a-block with rules
and regulations for aerial navigation, written in official phraseology
so confusing that it was possible to have more than one interpretation
for at least seventy-five per cent. of the complicated paragraphs.

Quoting Article 1071, sub-section 3c, the official made the discovery
that the rendering of Form 4456 could be dispensed with in circumstances
laid down in Article 2074, section 5c, etc., etc.  Thereupon he rang a
bell, summoned a head clerk, who in turn deputed a junior to fetch a
certain form.  When this was forthcoming a blob of sealing-wax, the
impress of a seal, and the great man’s illegible signature, and the
trick was done.  As far as the International Air Board was concerned the
"Golden Hind" was a recognised and duly authorised competitor for the
Chauvasse Prize.

There was still the Recognised Military Authority to be dealt with.
That official was urbanity personified.  He did everything in his power
to expedite matters, but red tape was stronger than gold lace.

The loud report of a gun warned Fosterdyke and his companion that sunset
had descended upon the Rock.  The gates of the fortress were closed till
sunrise.

"Won’t affect you," explained the courteous official.  "You can get back
by the boat from the Old Mole.  I won’t keep you very much longer.  It
really isn’t my fault."

"Gibraltar was a bad choice of mine for a starting-point," observed
Fosterdyke.

"’Fraid so," agreed the other.  "Ah, here we are.  Thank you, Wilson.
Where’s my fountain pen?  Where’s----  Oh, dash it all, where’s
everything? ... That’s settled, then.  Have a drink before you go? No?
Well, cheerio, and the very best of luck."

Armed with the necessary documents, "sealed, signed, and delivered,"
Fosterdyke and Bramsdean found themselves in the open air.  Darkness had
already fallen. It was a good two miles from Little Europa Point to the
Old Mole, and not a vehicle of any sort was to be seen.

Tired, hot, and hungry they reached the spot where a naval pinnace was
supposed to be awaiting them.  It was not there.  A message erroneously
delivered had sent the boat back to the dockyard.  Not to be done,
Fosterdyke hired a native boat, paying without demur a
villainous-looking Rock Scorp the excessive sum he demanded.

For a quarter of an hour the boat rowed about while the baronet and his
companion gazed aloft in the hope of spotting the "Golden Hind" against
the dark sky.

"She’s gone!" declared Bramsdean.

"Nonsense!" exclaimed Fosterdyke, irritably.  "Why should she?"

Nevertheless in his mind he was convinced that such was the case.

Presently the boat ran close to the buoy to which the airship had been
moored. Both men recognised the buoy by the number painted on it.  No
wire rope ran upwards to an invisible object floating in the darkness of
the night.

Unaccountably, mysteriously the "Golden Hind" had disappeared.



CHAPTER VIII--CAST ADRIFT


Enrico Jaures, Spaniard on his father’s side and German on his mother’s,
with a dash of almost every other Continental nation’s blood in his
veins, lived or rather existed in a mean dwelling behind the King’s
Bastion, on the west side of Gibraltar.

Indolent, thriftless, and easy-going on the one hand, crafty and
quarrelsome on the other, he possessed all the bad points that
characterise the criminal classes of the two countries where his parents
first saw the light.  What he did for a living and how he earned money
was a mystery even to his polyglot neighbours.  Yet, without being well
off, he appeared to be always "flush" with money.

Contrary to the general demeanour of the Rock Scorps, Enrico Jaures
expressed no astonishment when the "Golden Hind" appeared over the high
ground beyond Algeciras.  He was expecting the airship, although he had
to confess to himself that she had certainly arrived prematurely.
Evidently this was not according to plan.

He sat, smoked innumerable cigarettes, and thought as deeply as a
half-breed Spaniard can.  Twice he got up, yawned, stretched himself and
ambled back to the house to partake of a meal consisting principally of
olives, garlic, and maize. Then back he came to his post of vantage and
sat gazing stolidly at the five hundred feet of inflated gasbag riding
easily to her wire cable, while her crew, bringing the airship close to
the surface, were busily engaged in pumping up petrol from a
tank-lighter.

The shadows were lengthening considerably when a white-robed Moor
approached the reclining Jaures--a dignified, olive-featured man,
wearing a thick black beard and moustache.

"The Englishman has started," observed the new-comer, speaking in
Spanish with a decidedly guttural accent.

"That I know," rejoined Enrico.

"But not so von Sinzig," continued the other in a low tone, giving a
furtive glance over his shoulder.  "Until he arrives at Massowah it is
doubtful whether he will know that this English airship is on his heels.
Why is she here so soon?"

"I know not," replied Jaures.  "Two men landed from her.  They went in
the direction of Buena Vista."

The pseudo Moor shrugged his shoulders.

"Two thousand five hundred pesetas are awaiting you in the Banqua del
Espiritu at Algeciras, friend Enrico," he said in a low voice.  "Prevent
that airship’s departure even for twelve hours and the money will be
paid you."

"How can I?" asked Jaures, showing more interest than he had hitherto
displayed.  "I cannot place a bomb on board her, like I did on board the
_Henri Artois_ at Barcelona."

"S’sh!  Not so loud," exclaimed the other warningly.  "How you earn the
money is your affair."

The supposed Moor passed on, leaving Enrico Jaures gazing thoughtfully
at the British airship.

He sat and pondered until the refuelling operations were completed and
the "Golden Hind" allowed to rise a hundred feet above the sea.  With
the setting of the sun a gentle breeze sprang up from the nor’east,
causing the hitherto almost motionless airship to sway as she fretted at
her cable.

He waited until darkness had settled upon the scene, then once more made
his way into the house.  This time he did not eat, but fortified himself
with a long drink out of an earthenware bottle.

Drawing his knife, he carefully oiled the blade and replaced it in its
sheath.  Then, having selected a marline-spike from a tool box, he slung
the implement from his neck by means of a lanyard, hiding it under his
coloured shirt.

These preparations completed, he walked slowly and unconcernedly to the
Old Mole.

By this time the water-front was almost deserted.  A patrol marched
stolidly down the street; Enrico stepped into the shelter of a narrow
courtyard until the khaki-clad party had disappeared; but before he
could resume he had to await the passing of a gaitered and belted naval
picquet.

The coast cleared, he reached the Mole. A tramp steamer and a few
feluccas were moored alongside.  Farther out a tug was engaged in
shepherding a couple of large lighters alongside an East-bound liner,
while changing red, white, and green lights betokened the presence of
swift-moving steamboats in the bay.  Standing out against the faint
starlight he could discern the "Golden Hind."  Even as he looked a gleam
of light shot through the windows of one of the compartments, and then
another, both being almost instantly screened.

"Two thousand five hundred pesetas," whispered Jaures to himself.  "A
good price for a little swim."

Without troubling to remove any of his clothes, although he kicked off
his canvas shoes, Enrico cautiously descended a flight of steps until
his feet touched the water. Listening to assure himself that no one was
about, he glided in as noiselessly as an eel, and swam with slow, steady
strokes under the counter of the tramp and close to her wall sides until
he gained her bows.

Taking his bearings of the airship’s mooring-buoy, he resumed his easy
progress cautiously lest feathers of phosphorescent spray should betray
his presence.

A quarter of an hour’s swim brought him up to the mooring-buoy.  With
considerable difficulty, for the large barrel-shaped buoy was coated
with barnacles and slippery with seaweed, Enrico contrived to draw
himself clear of the water.

Again he waited, listening to the sounds emanating from the airship a
hundred or a hundred and fifty feet overhead.  The wire hawser, acting
as a conductor, enabled him to hear with great distinctness, and
possessing a good knowledge of English he was able to pick up scraps of
conversation between the crew.  That helped him but little, for they
were talking of matters as remote from the topic of the great race as
the Poles.

Enrico Jaures next devoted his attention to the shackle that secured the
thimble spliced in the end of the cable to the big ring bolt of the
buoy.

He grunted with satisfaction when he discovered that the shackle was
threaded and not secured by a forelock, but at the same time he found by
the sense of touch that whoever had been responsible for the job had
done his work well by securing the pin by means of a piece of flexible
wire.

This latter Jaures managed to cast loose, then, with the aid of his
marline-spike, he began to unfasten the shackle-pin, pausing
occasionally as the strain on the wire rope increased.

At last the deed was accomplished.  The shackle-pin clattered upon the
rounded surface of the buoy and rebounded into the water; but almost
simultaneously Enrico Jaures found himself being whisked aloft.  A
snap-hook at the end of a wire had caught in his belt, and there he was,
suspended ignominiously like a horse being slung on board a ship,
already a hundred feet or more above the surface of the sea.

His first impulse was to cut loose his belt and drop, but a downward
glance at the dark unfathomable void made him abruptly change his mind.

His sole thought was now that of self-preservation.  Fearful lest his
leather belt should break and send him hurtling through space he clung
desperately to the wire.

Fax below him the lights of Gibraltar seemed to be gliding past as the
freed airship drifted towards the strait separating Europe from the
African shore.

It was bitterly cold aloft.  The keenness of the rarefied air was
intensified by the fact that his clothes were saturated with salt water.
A numbing pain crept down both arms.  His muscles seemed to be cracking
under the strain, while his fingers closed round the wire until the
nails sunk deep into his palms.

He shouted for help--his voice sounding more like the yelp of a jackal
than that of a human being.  But no response came from the airship a
hundred feet above him.

"Dios!" he exclaimed in agony.  "This is indeed the end."



CHAPTER IX--THE ESCAPADE OF ENRICO JAURES


"What are those blighters doing?" soliloquised Kenyon for the twentieth
time. "Are they buying the place, or are they poodle-faking?  They ought
to have been back hours ago."

It was well after sunset.  The "Golden Hind" had taken in stores and
provisions, and had replenished her fuel and oil tanks. An anchor watch
had been set, and having "gone the rounds" in order to satisfy himself
that everything was in order Kenneth Kenyon had gone to his cabin to
write letters that would be sent ashore when the picket-boat brought off
the skipper and Bramsdean.

A shrill blast of the voice-tube whistle made Kenyon hasten across the
long narrow cabin.  There was something insistent about the summons.  It
was not the discreet apologetic trill that the look-out man gave when he
wished to report some trivial incident to the officer of the watch.

"Hello!" replied Kenyon.

"We’re adrift, sir," announced the man, excitedly.

Telling the look-out to call the duty-watch, Kenyon replaced the whistle
in the mouth of the voice-tube, struggled into his leather, fur-lined
coat, and hurried to the navigation-room.  As he passed the various
motor-rooms he noticed that the air-mechanics of the duty-watch were
already at their posts awaiting the order to get the engines running.

Throwing open one of the windows, Kenyon looked out into the night.
There was no staggering, biting wind.  Drifting with the breeze, the
airship was apparently motionless save for a gently-undulating movement,
but the merest glance served to corroborate the look-out man’s words.
Already the "Golden Hind," having risen to 6000 feet and still climbing,
was well to the south’ard of Europa Point.  He could see the lighthouse
on the south-western point of the peninsula of Gibraltar steadily
receding as the airship approached the African coast.

Kenyon was on the point of telegraphing for half-speed ahead when he
bethought him of the cable.  More than likely, he decided, the wire rope
had parted half-way between the nose of the fuselage and the buoy.
There was danger in the comparatively light, springy wire getting foul
of the for’ard propellers.  Stranded wire is apt to play hanky-panky
tricks.

"Get the cable inboard," he ordered. "Don’t use the winch or you won’t
get the wire to lie evenly on the reel.  Haul it in by hand."

Two of the crew descended to the bow compartment, which, besides forming
a living-room for the men, contained the cable winch.

"’Get it in by ’and,’ ’e said," remarked one of the men to his
companion.  "Blimey! There ain’t ’arf a strain on the blessed thing.
Bear a ’and, chum."

Presently one of the men returned to the navigation-room.

"Pardon, sir," he said, saluting, "but we can’t haul the wire in.  It’s
foul of something.  Shall we bring it to the winch, sir?"

"Foul of something, eh?" echoed Kenyon.  "Does that mean we’ve hiked up
the blessed mooring-buoy?  Switch on the bow searchlight, Jackson."

The order was promptly obeyed, and the rays of the 10,000 candle-power
lamp were directed vertically downwards.

Leaning well out of the open window, Kenyon peered along the glistening
length of tautened cable until parting from the converging rays of the
searchlight it vanished into space.

"Two degrees left," ordered Kenneth. "Good--at that.  By Jove!  What’s
that?  A man!"

Filled with a haunting suspicion that the suspended body might be that
of his chum Peter, Kenyon felt his heart jump into his throat; but a
second glance, as the motionless figure slowly revolved at the end of
the cable, relieved Kenneth’s mind on that, score.  Still, it was a
human being in dire peril.

"Heave away handsomely," continued Kenyon.  "Stand by to avast heaving,"
he added.

The orders were communicated to the hands at the cable-winch.  Steadily
the winch-motor clanked away until the word was passed to "’vast
heaving."  The luckless individual at the end of the wire was now
dangling thirty feet below the bows of the fuselage.

It would have been useless to have hauled him up to the hawse-pipe,
because there would be no means of getting him on board. The only
practical way to reach him was by lowering a rope from a trap-door on
the underside of the chassis midway between the two hawse-pipes in the
bows.

Meanwhile Kenyon was deftly making "bowlines on the bight" at the
extremities of two three-inch manilla ropes.

"Jackson," he said, addressing the leading hand of the duty-watch, "I’m
going after that chap.  Tell off a couple of men to attend to each of
the ropes.  If I make a mess of things and don’t get back, keep the ship
head to wind till daylight, and then make for our former mooring.
There’ll be plenty of help available."

Adjusting one of the loops under his arms and another round his legs
above his knees, Kenneth slipped through the narrow trap-hatch, taking
the second rope with him.  It was a weird sensation dangling in space
with about 8000 feet of empty air between him and land or sea, for by
this time the "Golden Hind" was probably over the African coast.  But
soon the eerie feeling passed and Kenneth, courageous, cool-headed and
accustomed to dizzy heights, had no thought but for the work in hand.

"At that!" he shouted, when he found himself on the same level with the
man he hoped to rescue.  "Take a turn."

Ten feet from him was the unconscious Enrico Jaures.  The question now
was, how was that intervening space to be bridged?

Kenyon began to sway his legs after the manner of a child on a swing.

"If the rope parts, then it’s a case of ’going west’ with a vengeance,"
he soliloquised grimly.  "Christopher!  Isn’t it beastly cold?"

Momentarily the pendulum-like movement increased until Kenneth was able
to grip the arm of the unconscious man.  As he did so Enrico’s belt,
that had hitherto prevented him from dropping into space, parted like
pack-thread.

With a jerk that nearly wrenched the rescuer’s arms from their sockets,
the deadweight of the Scorp almost capsized Kenyon out of the bow-line.
As it was, he was hanging with his head lower than his feet, holding on
with a grip of iron to Jaures’ arms.  Thus hampered, he realised that it
was manifestly impossible to make use of the second bow-line.

"Haul up!" he shouted breathlessly.

"Heavens!" he added.  "Can I do it? Can I hold on long enough?"

It was a question that required some answering.  The strain on his
muscles, coupled with the effect of the unexpected jerk, the numbing
cold, and, lastly, his own position, as he hung practically head
downwards, all told against him.  Even in those moments of peril he
found himself thinking he must present a ludicrous sight to the watchers
in the airship in the dazzling glare of the searchlight.

"Stick it another half a minute, sir," shouted a voice.  "I’ll be with
you in a brace of shakes."

Of what happened during the next thirty long drawn out seconds Kenyon
had only a hazy recollection.  He was conscious of someone bawling in
his ear, "Let go, sir; I’ve got him all right."

Kenneth obeyed mechanically.  In any case he was on the point of
relaxing his grip through sheer inability on the part of his muscles to
respond to his will.  The sudden release of the man he had rescued
resulted in Kenyon regaining a normal position, and dizzy and utterly
exhausted he was hauled into safety.

Someone gave him brandy.  The strong spirit revived him considerably.

"Where’s the fellow?" he asked.

"Safe, sir," replied Jackson.  "Shall I carry on?"

"Yes, please," said Kenneth, faintly, and with the clang of the
telegraph indicator bells and the rhythmic purr of the motors borne to
his ears he became unconscious.

Meanwhile Enrico Jaures, to all outward appearances a corpse, had been
hauled on board.  One of the crew, observing Kenneth’s plight, had
descended by means of another rope, and had deftly hitched the end round
the Scorp’s body, climbing back hand over hand as unconcernedly as if he
had been walking upstairs in his cottage in far-off Aberdeen.

"Like handling frozen mutton," commented one of the crew as they
attended to the rescued Jaures.  "Fine specimen, ain’t he?  An’ what’s
he doing with that there marline-spike, I should like to know. ’Tain’t
all jonnick, if you ask me."



CHAPTER X--UNDER EXAMINATION


"I’m all right, I tell you.  Hang it all, can’t a fellow know when he’s
all right?"

Thus Kenyon rather resentfully resisted all efforts on the part of the
men to keep him in his bunk.  He came from an indomitable stock that
never readily admits defeat, and on this occasion he steadfastly refused
to recognise the fact that his physical strength had been well-nigh
sapped.

Donning his leather coat, he made his way to the navigation-room,
staggering slightly as he passed along the narrow alley-way.

"Wireless message just received, sir," reported Jackson.  "’From T.B.D.
_Zeebrugge_ to ’Golden Hind.’  Am proceeding in search of you.  Show
position lights. Will tranship Sir Reginald Fosterdyke and Mr. Bramsdean
as soon as possible.  Make necessary arrangements.’  We’re steering N.
by W. ¼ W., but we haven’t sighted the destroyer yet."

"Very good," concurred Kenyon.  "Carry on."

He consulted the altimeter and the speed indicator.  The former showed
that the airship had descended to two thousand feet, and the speed was
two thousand revolutions, or approximately thirty miles an hour.  The
"Golden Hind" had by this time retraced a good portion of her drift, and
was now three or four miles from Ceuta.

Ten minutes later a masthead flashing lamp was seen blinking at a
distance of about six miles.  The light came from the destroyer
_Zeebrugge_, which, pelting along at twenty-five knots, was on the
lookout for the errant airship.

Kenneth Kenyon was now on his mettle. For the first time he was in
command of a large airship about to make a descent.  As officer of the
watch he had already had opportunities of observing the handling of the
huge vessel, but now he found himself confronted with the problem of
bringing her close to the surface of the sea so as to enable the
destroyer to manoeuvre sufficiently enough to establish direct
communication.

"Hope I don’t make a bog of it," he soliloquised.  "I must admit I feel
a bit rotten after that little jamboree just now. Still, I’ll stick it."

Although he was not aware of the fact, Leading Hand Jackson was keeping
a sharp eye on his superior officer, ready at the first sign to "take
on" should Kenyon’s physical strength fail him.

For the next ten minutes the greatest activity prevailed.  Gongs were
clanging, crisp orders were issued through various voice-tubes, gas was
being withdrawn from various ballonets, the motors were constantly being
either accelerated or retarded according to the conditions demanded. The
white flashing lamp signals were being exchanged with the T.B.D., which
had now circled sixteen degrees to starboard and was steaming slowly
dead in the eye of the wind.

In the floor of the bow compartment of the "Golden Hind" the large
trap-hatch had been opened.  Close by crouched men ready to lower away a
wire rope, at the end of which a small electric bulb glowed to enable
the destroyer’s crew to locate the line in the dark.  Throughout the
manoeuvre neither the "Golden Hind" nor the _Zeebrugge_ made use of
their searchlights, since the dazzling rays might baffle the respective
helmsmen and result in a collision.

Slowly and gracefully the airship dropped until her fuselage was thirty
feet from the surface of the sea.  She was now dead in the wake of the
destroyer, and the task that confronted Kenyon was to bring her ahead
sufficiently for the bows to overlap the _Zeebrugge’s_ stern.  An error
of judgment at that low height would result in the airship’s bows
fouling the destroyer’s mast.

Foot by foot the "Golden Hind" gained upon the destroyer until a shout
from the latter’s deck announced that the wire rope had been made fast.

Instantly the airship’s six motors were declutched.  She was now moving
merely under the towing action of the _Zeebrugge_, which was forging
ahead at a bare four knots.

From the trap-hatch in the airship’s bows a rope-ladder was lowered, its
end being held by a couple of bluejackets on the T.B.D.  Without loss of
time Fosterdyke swarmed up the swaying ladder, and was followed by
Bramsdean.

"Cast off, and thank you!" shouted the baronet.

"All gone," came an answering voice from the _Zeebrugge_, followed by a
hearty "Best of luck to you!"

Released, the "Golden Hind" leapt a full five hundred feet into the air
before the propellers began to revolve.

"Cheerio, Kenyon!" exclaimed Fosterdyke, as he joined Kenneth in the
navigation-room.  "All’s well that ends well, but you gave me a pretty
bad turn.  What happened?"

"Hardly know, sir," replied Kenyon. "Our wire rope didn’t part.
Possibly the shackle on the buoy gave.  But we found a man hanging on
the end of the wire."

"You did, eh?" exclaimed the baronet, sharply.  "What sort of man?"

"You’ll see him, sir," replied Kenneth. "He’s laid out below."

"H’m!" ejaculated Fosterdyke, and relapsed into silence.

He was deep in thought for some moments, then turned to Kenyon again.

"We’re making an official start in a few minutes’ time," he announced.
"We have to pass over the Rock and display three red and three white
lights to the official observer on Signal Hill.  When we see a similar
signal made from the Rock that will be the actual starting time.  Pass
the word for Jackson to get the lamps in position."

At an altitude of three thousand feet, or fifteen hundred feet above the
summit of the Rock of Gibraltar, the "Golden Hind" received her official
send-off at 3.35 A.M., eighteen hours after the Hun-owned Z64.

Evidently there was not a minute to be wasted.  The contest had
developed not merely into a voyage round the world within the space of
twenty days, but a race in which the British competitor had to make good
her formidable handicap of eighteen hours or approximately three
thousand five hundred miles.

With the wind abeam on the port side the "Golden Hind" opened out to one
hundred and forty miles an hour.  During the earlier stages of the race
Fosterdyke rather wisely decided to keep below the maximum speed, rather
than overtax the motors by running "all out."  Within a few minutes of
receiving her official permit to depart the airship lost sight of the
lights upon the Rock of Gibraltar. She was now steering E. by S.--a
course that would take her over the northern part of Algeria and Tunis
and within a few miles of Malta.

At 4 A.M. Kenyon, who had modestly refrained from giving any details of
the part he had taken in the rescue of Enrico Jaures, and had concealed
the fact that he had been temporarily out of action, was relieved by
Peter Bramsdean.

As he turned to go to his cabin Kenneth saw that the baronet was
standing in a corner of the navigation-room and studying a nautical
almanac.

"Sleep well, Kenyon," exclaimed Fosterdyke. "You’ve some arrears to make
up."

"Rather, sir," agreed Kenyon.  "But we’ve forgotten something."

"Eh, what?"

"That fellow we found hanging on to the wire rope, we didn’t put him on
board the destroyer."

"No," agreed Fosterdyke, grimly.  "We didn’t.  I saw to that.  Unless
I’m much mistaken our unwanted supernumerary can and must give us
certain information that will rather astonish us.  I’ll see him later
on, by Jove!"

Kenyon nodded knowingly.  Evidently Fosterdyke had learnt something.
However, as far as he, Kenyon, was concerned, other things of a more
pressing nature demanded his attention--food and sleep.

At eight o’clock Fosterdyke ordered his involuntary guest to be brought
before him.

"There’s something fishy about the breaking adrift business," he
observed to Bramsdean as the two sat at a table in the after-cabin
awaiting Enrico’s appearance.

"Where’s Jackson?  We’ll want him. No, don’t disturb Kenyon; he had a
pretty sticky time."

"More than you imagine, sir," added Peter, and proceeded to tell the
baronet the part Kenneth had played in the aerial rescue of the
imperilled Rock Scorpion.

"Kenyon didn’t say a word about it," he added on the conclusion of the
narrative. "He was as mute as an oyster over it all.  Frampton and
Collings told me.  It was----"

A knock on the cabin door interrupted Bramsdean’s explanation.

"Come in!" exclaimed Fosterdyke.

In answer to the invitation entered Leading Hand Jackson, followed in
single file by one of the crew, Enrico Jaures, and two other members of
the "Golden Hind’s" company.

The Scorp was still labouring under the effects of his narrow escape.
He looked, to quote Bramsdean’s words, "as if the stuffing had been
knocked out of him."

Fosterdyke’s handling of the situation was a bold one.  Without any
preliminaries, without even asking the fellow’s name, he demanded
sternly:

"How much did Count Karl von Sinzig promise you for last night’s work?"

Jaures gave an involuntary start, but almost immediately relapsed into
his imperturbably passive attitude.  Then with a slight shrug of his
shoulders he replied:

"Me no spik Englis."

"Try again," said Fosterdyke, contracting his bushy eyebrows and looking
straight at the man.  "All I can say is that if you don’t speak English
it’s a case of won’t, not can’t."

"Me no spik Englis," reiterated Jaures.

Without speaking, Fosterdyke looked straight at the fellow for a full
thirty seconds.  During that period Enrico attempted three times to meet
the searching gaze of his inquisitor.

"Now!" exclaimed the baronet at length.

Enrico Jaures maintained silence.

Fosterdyke slowly and deliberately unstrapped his wristlet watch and
placed it on the table.

"I give you thirty seconds," he said in level tones.  "Thirty seconds in
which to make up your mind either to answer or refuse to answer my
question.  Might I remind you that we are now eight thousand feet above
the sea, and it is a long drop. Jackson, will you please remove that
hatch?"

"Of course the Old Man was only kiddin’," remarked Jackson when he
related what had transpired to his companions after the affair was over;
"but, bless me, even I thought he meant to do the dirty sweep in. He
looked that stern, that it put the wind up the bloke straight away."

Absolutely disciplined, the Leading Hand obeyed orders promptly.
Throwing back the aluminium cover in the centre of the cabin floor, he
revealed to the gaze of the thoroughly terrified Jaures a rectangular
opening six feet by four.  Far below, glittering in the sunshine, was
the blue Mediterranean.

"Five seconds more!" announced Fosterdyke, calmly.

Of the occupants of the after cabin Enrico Jaures now seemed to be the
least interested in the proceedings.  His furtive glances had given
place to an expression of lofty detachment, as if he were utterly bored
by the whole transaction.  Bramsdean found himself deciding that either
the fellow was an imbecile or else he was a past master in the art of
dissimulation.

"Time!" declared Fosterdyke.

Enrico Jaures positively beamed.

"Me no spik Englis," he babbled.

Sir Reginald eyed the accused sternly, but even his piercing glance
seemed of no avail.  The Rock Scorp continued to smile inanely.

"Take him away," ordered Fosterdyke with asperity.

He waited till the door had closed upon the involuntary guest, and then
gave a deprecatory shrug.

"The fellow’s scored this time, Bramsdean," he remarked, "but I’ll get
to windward of him yet."



CHAPTER XI--"WITH INTENT"


"Where are we now?" enquired Kenyon on returning to the navigation-room
to relieve his chum as officer of the watch.

It was now twelve o’clock.  Bramsdean had just "shot the sun" and was
reading off the degrees, minutes, and seconds from the arc of the
sextant.

"Almost over Algiers, old thing," he replied, pointing to the glaring,
sun-baked Algerian coast.  "Hark!"

He held up his hand and inclined his head sideways.  Above the bass hum
of the aerial propellers came the distant report of a gun.

"Reminds a fellow of old times when the Archies got busy," remarked
Kenyon.

"Our friends the French are evidently treating us to a salute to help us
on our weary way," rejoined Peter.  "Goodness only knows how we are to
return it.  We can’t give gun for gun."

He focussed his glasses on the white buildings three thousand feet
below.  The whole of the water-front of Algiers was packed with figures
with upturned faces--Frenchmen, Algerines, Arabs, and Nubians--all
frantically waving to the huge airship as she sped eastwards.

In ten minutes the "Golden Hind" had left the capital of France’s
African possessions far astern.  Unless anything untoward occurred,
another four hours would bring her within sight of Malta.

"You might cast your eye over the signal log-book before you take on,"
remarked Bramsdean.

Kenyon did so.  Evidently the wireless operator had been kept busily
employed, for there were dozens of messages wishing the "Golden Hind"
bon voyage.  But amongst them were two of a different nature.  One
announced that an American airship "Eagle," under the command of
Commodore Theodore Nye, had left Tampa Town bound for Colon, followed by
a supplementary message that the "Eagle" had left the Panama Canal zone
and was last sighted flying in a westerly direction. Making allowance
for the difference in New York and Greenwich times, both the "Golden
Hind" and her Yankee rival had started practically simultaneously from
their respective points of departure for the actual race.

The second wireless message, transmitted via Vancouver, Newfoundland,
and Poldu, was to the effect that the "Banzai," the Japanese quadruplane
piloted by Count Hyashi, had started from Nagasaki at a speed estimated
at two hundred and twenty miles an hour.

"Artful blighter, that Jap," declared Bramsdean.  "He’s kept his design
carefully up his sleeve till the last moment. We thought he was
attempting the flight in an airship, but he’s pinned his faith to a
gigantic quadruplane."

"Two hundred and twenty miles an hour, too," added Kenyon.  "That means
he’ll do the whole trip in less than 120 hours of actual flying, unless
something goes wrong with his ’bus.  My word, some speed!"

"What I’d like to know is his petrol consumption, and how much juice
does his ’bus carry," remarked Bramsdean, thoughtfully.  "By Jove!
We’re up against something, old son."

"By the by, I see there’s no news of Fritz," said Kenneth.

"Not a word," replied Peter.  "Von Sinzig evidently thinks that it’s too
early to start bragging.  We’ll hear either from or of him before night.
Fosterdyke is trying to call him up by wireless and tell him that he has
a friend of his on board."

"Oh, that greasy merchant!" rejoined Kenneth.  "How did he get on?"

"Played ’possum," answered Bramsdean. "Fosterdyke tried to put the wind
up him, but it was a frost.  I’d like to know what he did to the shackle
on the mooring-buoy."

"You think he cast us adrift?"

"Without a doubt, old bird."

Kenyon shook his head doubtfully.

"He might have been simply fishing when the pin drew and he got whisked
aloft," he suggested.  "Did he give his name or any particulars?"

"Not he," replied Peter.  "In fact he wasn’t asked.  Fosterdyke went for
him bald-headed and tried to make him admit that he was in von Sinzig’s
pay.  But nothin’ doin’, even when we made out that we were going to
drop him overboard.  Well, cheerio, old thing."

Left in charge of the airship, Kenyon pondered over the problem of
whether the man he had rescued had really been a secret agent of von
Sinzig or otherwise.  If he were, then it would be almost a foregone
conclusion that he spoke German.

Kenneth had plenty of time for reflection during his "trick."  The
"Golden Hind" was making good progress.  There was little or no wind,
and her drift was in consequence almost imperceptible; while the
temperature was so constant that there was no necessity to alter the
volume of brodium in the ballonets for hours at a stretch.  The motors,
too, ran like clockwork, and beyond attending to the semi-automatic
lubricators occasionally, the air-mechanics on duty had little to do.
Fosterdyke, having paid a brief visit to the navigating room, retired to
his cabin to make up arrears of sleep.

"Might work," soliloquised Kenneth, reflectively.  "I’ll tackle
Fosterdyke about it next time I come across him."

At four in the afternoon Malta was passed at a distance of ten miles to
the south’ard. The "Golden Hind" was doing well, maintaining more than
her normal cruising speed.  If she were able to keep on at that rate she
would accomplish the voyage of circumnavigation well under the twenty
days; but that was now but a secondary consideration.  At all costs von
Sinzig’s Z64 must be overhauled.

The "Golden Hind’s" first stop was at Alexandria, sixteen hours after
leaving Gibraltar.  She made a faultless landing on sandy spit that
separates Lake Mareotis from the Mediterranean.  The time of her arrival
had been notified by wireless, and all preparations had been made for
her reception.  Keenly interested Tommies manned the trail ropes and
secured her firmly to anchors buried in the sand; lorries laden with
petrol and oil were rushed to the spot, and the work of refuelling began
without delay.  While Fosterdyke and Kenyon were signing the "control
certificate" and holding an informal reception of almost the whole of
the British Colony at Alexandria, Bramsdean remained in charge of the
airship.

In order to keep back the dense crowd, composed of fellaheen, Copts,
Arabs, Syrians, and representatives of every nation bordering on the
Mediterranean, strong picquets of British troops were posted round the
tethered airship, no unauthorised person being permitted to approach
within a hundred yards of the "Golden Hind"; while to enable the work of
refuelling to proceed as rapidly as possible, the improvised aerodrome
was brilliantly illuminated by portable searchlights mounted on motor
lorries.

It seemed as if it would be impossible for any suspicious characters to
approach the airship without being detected.  Having once been "bitten,"
Fosterdyke was not taking chances in that direction.

No attempt had been made to get rid of Enrico Jaures.  Closely watched
by a couple of the crew, he was even permitted to view the proceedings
from an open scuttle in one of the compartments on the starboard side.

When everything was in readiness to resume the voyage, Fosterdyke and
Kenyon shook hands with their entertainers and crossed the guarded
square.  As they approached the entry port on the starboard side a dark
figure suddenly appeared from behind an unattended lorry, and at a
distance of ten paces fired half a dozen shots in rapid succession
straight at the baronet.

Almost at the first report Fosterdyke threw himself at full length upon
the sand. Kenyon, without hesitation, rushed upon the would-be assassin,
while two of the crew, leaping from the fuselage, promptly seized the
miscreant and deprived him of his automatic pistol.

"Hurt, sir?" asked Kenyon, anxiously.

"Not a bit of it," replied Sir Reginald coolly.  "That fellow couldn’t
hit a haystack at five yards.  Bring him along, men."

An agitated member of the Egyptian Civil Service, accompanied by a
couple of staff officers, hurried up, and after making inquiries and
learning that Fosterdyke was unhurt, suggested, not without good reason,
that the would-be assassin should be handed over to the civil powers for
trial.

The baronet airily swept aside the suggestion.

"Sorry, Vansittart," he said; "but I’m not going to waste precious time
appearing as a prosecutor in this business.  No, I’m not exactly
professing to take the law into my own hands, but I propose taking the
gentleman with me.  If he tried to shoot me, surely I can jolly well
kidnap him. ’Tany rate, possession’s nine points of the law.  When I’ve
done with him you can deal with him."

"But, dash it all, man!" exclaimed one of the staff officers; "you
aren’t going to--to----"

"Hang him?  Not much," declared the baronet.  "Return good for evil sort
of thing, you know.  Don’t get flustered, Vansittart.  He’s mine, and
we’re just off."

Happening to glance up as he entered the fuselage, Fosterdyke caught
sight of Enrico Jaures, who had seen the whole incident through one of
the windows.

"Birds of a feather," he soliloquised. "However, I don’t suppose we’ll
pick up pals of this sort at every place we touch. All ready, Kenyon?"
he enquired, raising his voice.  "Right-o; let go."



CHAPTER XII--CONFIDENCES


In one of the store-rooms, the contents of which had been removed in
order to adapt the place to present requirements, sat Enrico Jaures and
the would-be assassin.  They were under lock and key and had been
unceremoniously bundled into durance vile without the formality of an
introduction.

Enrico was feeling fairly content, in spite of being a prisoner.  After
all, he reflected, nothing had been proved against him.  He had scored
in his encounter with the captain and owner of the British airship, and,
all things considered, he was being well treated.

He made no remark when his new companion was gently but firmly propelled
through the doorway.  The newcomer was equally reticent; so the
ill-assorted pair--one rigged out in the nondescript garments of a
low-class inhabitant of Gibraltar and the other in European clothes and
a tarboosh--sat in opposite corners of the limited space.

For the best part of an hour neither spoke. Occasionally they regarded
each other furtively.  Then the gentleman who had demonstrated so
effectively how not to shoot straight began to slumber.  Sitting on his
haunches with his arms clasped round his bent knees, he nodded his
crimson tarboosh until his head found a rather uncomfortable
resting-place on his clasped hands.

Then in his somnolent condition he began muttering his wandering
sentences, punctuated with many "Achs!"

Enrico listened intently.  Hitherto he had been in ignorance of the
motive that had prompted the would-be murderer. Now he had enough
evidence to form the conclusion that they both had a motive in
common--to wreck the attempt of the British competitor to win the
Chauvasse Prize.

Nevertheless Jaures was of a cautious disposition, and when his
companion awoke he still maintained his attitude of aloofness.

Breakfast time came.  One of the "Golden Hind’s" crew appeared with
quite a substantial meal, and both men were hungry.  The pure, cold air,
a striking contrast to the hot, enervating atmosphere of Alexandria, had
given them an enormous appetite, and the fact that they had to share
their meals and were not provided with knives and forks did not trouble
them.

"Pass the salt," said Enrico’s companion, speaking in German.

Jaures complied without hesitation.  The request was so natural that it
took him completely off his guard.

"So you do speak German," remarked the wearer of the tarboosh.

Enrico shook his head.

"Come, come," continued the other. "Do not say that you cannot.  I asked
you for the salt.  I was not looking at it, so that you have no excuse."

Jaures swallowed a big chunk of bread and stole cautiously to the door.
For a few seconds he listened lest there should be anyone eavesdropping
without.

"Yes," he admitted.  "My mother was German.  But don’t speak so loudly."

"From what town came she?" enquired his companion.

"From Lubeck," he replied.

"And I come from Immeristadt.  I am a Swabian and my name is Otto
Freising," announced the German.  "What are you doing here?"

"I am not here of my own free will," said Jaures, guardedly.  He was
rather inclined to shut up like an oyster, but his semi-compatriot was
persistent.

"I suppose these Englishmen will hang me," remarked Otto.  "My one
regret is that I did not succeed in my attempt."

"What attempt?" asked Enrico, innocently. As a matter of fact he knew,
having watched the shooting affray.

Otto told him.

"The trouble is," he added, "I’ve been paid for this business.  Ten
thousand Egyptian piastres.  I have a banker’s order for that amount in
my pocket.  Will they search me?"

"Without a doubt," replied Enrico, whose knowledge of British criminal
courts was of a first-hand order.  "But in a way you are lucky.  You
were paid--I was not.  I succeeded--you failed."

The German raised his eyebrows, but forbore to elicit further
information concerning Jaures’ motives.

"My difficulty," resumed Otto, "is what I am to do with this banker’s
order.  I undertook the business because I was hard up, and should I be
hanged or even imprisoned my family will not benefit because the money
will be confiscated."

He paused.  Enrico eyed him thoughtfully. He would willingly rob
anybody. Now was a chance of enriching himself at the expense of his
semi-compatriot.

"These English cannot keep me in captivity much longer," he observed.
"They can prove nothing against me. When I regain my liberty I propose
paying a visit to my mother’s relations in Lubeck.  Perhaps I might be
able to render you a service by handing that draft to your relatives."

Otto showed no great eagerness to close with the offer.  His hesitation
increased his companion’s cupidity.

"Rest assured that the money will eventually reach a safe destination,"
he urged enigmatically.  "Better even to run the risk of its being lost
than to let it fall into the hands of these Englishmen."

"That is so," agreed Otto.  "At any rate I can entrust it in your
keeping for the next few days until I know what they propose doing with
me.  You will, of course, be paid well for your trouble."

Enrico waved his hands deprecatingly, swearing by his patron Saint
Enrico of Guadalajara that it would be a pleasure and a duty to assist a
German in distress.

"Very well, then," agreed Otto, producing a paper from the double crown
of his tarboosh.

The Rock Scorp, craftily concealing his delight at the success of his
plan, took the document and glanced at the amount written thereon.  As
he did so he uttered an exclamation.

"Dios!" he ejaculated.

"What is it?" enquired Otto.

"The signature--Hans von Effrich.  I know the man.  He was at Barcelona
when the U-boats were busy.  I helped him to--"

He broke off abruptly, realising, perhaps, that there were limits to an
exchange of confidences.

"Von Effrich--I have never met him," declared Otto.  "All I know is that
he is now an agent for Count Karl von Sinzig."

"Where is he now?" enquired Jaures.

"Who?--von Sinzig or von Effrich?"

"Von Effrich."

"He is usually to be found in Corinth," replied Otto.  "Why do you ask?"

"Because he might also pay me what von Sinzig owes me," replied Enrico.
"We apparently are engaged on similar tasks."

"To cripple or delay this airship," added Otto.  "Up to the present we
have not made much of a success of it.  My prospects are not at all
bright, but my one hope is that when we arrive at Singapore von Blicker
will be there.  A clever fellow, von Blicker.  I met him at von
Effrich’s house just before I left Corinth for Alexandria--a month ago."

"What is he going to do?" asked Enrico.

"I believe he’ll----  S’sh! someone coming."



CHAPTER XIII--THE TAIL OF A CYCLONE


"Hanged if I like the look of things one little bit," declared
Fosterdyke, frankly. "Glass dropping as quickly as if the bottom of it
had fallen out, and on top of it all we get this."

"This" was a wireless from Point de Galle announcing that a terrific
cyclone was raging west of the Maldive Islands, its path being a
"right-hand circle."  That meant that unless the "Golden Hind" made a
radical alteration of course she would encounter the full force of the
wind.

It was the fourth day of the race.  The "Golden Hind" had passed over
Socotra at daybreak and was on her way across the Arabian Sea, her next
scheduled landing-place being Colombo.

"If we carry on we’ll hit the tail of the cyclone," said Kenyon,
consulting a chart of the Indian Ocean.

"Yes, but what is worse we’d pass through the dangerous storm-centre,
and then more than likely get a nose-ender on the other side, if we were
lucky enough to weather the centre," replied Fosterdyke. "It’s too jolly
risky, Kenyon.  At fifteen thousand feet it may be as bad or worse than
at five hundred feet up.  Call up Murgatroyd, and ask what petrol there
is in the tanks."

Kenneth went to the voice tube and made the necessary enquiry of the
engineer.

"By Jove, we’ll risk it!" declared Fosterdyke, when he received the
desired information.  "We’ll go south a bit, and then make straight for
Fremantle."

Kenyon was taken aback with the audacity of the proposal.  The distance
between Socotra and Western Australia was a good 5000 miles, or
thirty-six hours of uninterrupted flight.  At 140 miles an hour there
was sufficient fuel on board for forty hours, which meant a reserve of
four hours only in case of anything occurring to protract the run.

"Oh, we’ll do it," said Fosterdyke, confidently, as he noticed his
companion’s look of blank amazement.  "Better run the risk of cutting
things fine than to barge into a cyclone.  Sou’-east by south is the
course."

"Remarkable thing we haven’t heard anything of friend Sinzig ’clocking
in,’" observed Kenyon.  "Wonder where he’s making for?"

"We’ll hear in due course," replied the baronet.  He crossed the cabin
to consult a Mercator’s chart of the world, on which were pinned
British, American, and Japanese flags recording the latest-known
positions of the rival airmen.  There was a German flag ready to be
stuck in, but nearly five days had elapsed since von Sinzig left Spain,
and the crew of the "Golden Hind" were still in ignorance of his
whereabouts.

But they had the satisfaction of knowing that they more than held their
own with the others.  The American had passed the Azores, while Count
Hyashi’s "Banzai," which had made a stupendous non-stop flight to
Honolulu, had developed engine defects that promised to detain him
indefinitely.

"Two thousand miles in nine hours," remarked Fosterdyke, referring to
the Japanese airplane’s performance.  "Some shifting that, but Count
Hyashi has evidently gone the pace a bit too thick.  He’s our most
dangerous rival, Kenyon."

"Unless von Sinzig has something up his sleeve, sir," added Kenneth.

"Trust him for that," said the baronet, grimly.  "However, time will
prove. Well, carry on, Kenyon.  Call me if there’s any great change in
the weather."

Within the next two hours there were indications that even the new
course taken by the "Golden Hind" would not allow her to escape the
cyclone.  Right ahead the hitherto cloudless sky was heavy with dark,
ragged thunder-clouds that, extending north and south as far as the eye
could see, threatened to close upon the airship like the horns of a Zulu
impi.

Roused from his sleep, Fosterdyke lost no time in making his way to the
navigation-room.  Although he was not to be on duty for another hour and
a half, Peter Bramsdean had also hurried to the chart-room.

"We’re in for it, sir," declared Kenneth.

"We are," agreed Fosterdyke, gravely. "Evidently there is a second
disturbance, but judging from appearances it’s none the less formidable.
No use turning tail. We’ll go up another five thousand feet and see what
it looks like."

The "Golden Hind" rose rapidly, under the joint action of her six planes
and the addition of brodium to the ballonets; but even then it was
touch-and-go whether the gathering storm would encircle her.  As it was
she flew within the influence of the fringe of the cyclone.  Shrieking
winds assailed her, seeming to come from two opposing quarters.  Her
huge bulk lurched and staggered as she climbed.  Her fuselage see-sawed
as the blast struck the enormous envelope above, while the jar upon the
tension wires was plainly felt by the crew.

For a full ten minutes it was as black as night, save when the dark
masses of cloud were riven by vivid flashes of lightning. Blinded by the
almost incessant glare, Fosterdyke and his companions could do little or
nothing but hang on, trusting that the "Golden Hind" would steer herself
through the opaque masses of vapour.  It was impossible to consult the
instruments. Whether the airship was rising or falling, whether she was
steering north, south, east, or west remained questions that were
incapable of being solved, since the blinding flashes of lightning and
the deafening peals of thunder literally deprived the occupants of the
navigation-room of every sense save that of touch.  All they could do
was to hold on tightly, clench their teeth, and wait.

It required some holding on.  At one moment the longitudinal axis of the
airship was inclined at an angle of forty-five degrees; at another she
was heeling to almost the same angle, the while twisting and writhing
like a trapped animal.  Now and again she seemed to be enveloped in
electric fluid.  Dazzling flashes of blue flame played on and along the
aluminium envelope, vicious tongues of forked lightning seemed to stab
the gas-bag through and through; and doubtless had the ballonets
contained hydrogen instead of non-inflammable brodium the "Golden Hind"
would have crashed seawards in trailing masses of flame.

How long this inferno lasted no one on board had the remotest idea.  The
flight of time remained a matter of individual calculation.  To Kenyon
it seemed hours; Bramsdean afterwards confessed that he thought the
passage through the storm cloud lasted thirty minutes.  In reality only
six minutes had elapsed from the time the "Golden Hind" was enveloped in
the thunder cloud till the moment when she emerged.

It was much like being in a train coming out of a long tunnel.  With
their eyes still dazed by the vivid flashes the men in the
navigation-room became aware that the vapour was growing lighter.  They
could distinguish the smoke-like rolls of mist as the sunshine
penetrated the upper edges of the clouds.  Then, no longer beaten by the
torrential downpour of hail, the "Golden Hind" shot into a blaze of
brilliant sunshine.

It seemed too good to be true.  For some moments Fosterdyke and his
companions simply stared blankly ahead until their eyes grew accustomed
to the different conditions.

Then Kenyon, who was still officer of the watch, glanced over the
shoulder of the helmsman and noted the compass.  The lubber’s line was a
point west of north. The "Golden Hind" had been practically retracing
her course, and might be anything from fifty to a hundred miles farther
away from her goal than she had been when the storm enveloped her.

Obedient to the action of the vertical rudders the airship swung back on
her former course.  The altimeter indicated a height of twelve thousand
feet, and the "Golden Hind" was still rising.  Three thousand feet below
was an expanse of wind-torn clouds, no longer showing dark, but of a
dazzling whiteness.  The crew of the "Golden Hind" were literally
looking on the bright side of things.

"We’re well above the path of the storm," remarked Fosterdyke,
gratefully. "We’ve a lot to be thankful for, but the fact remains we
daren’t descend while that stuff’s knocking about.  Once in a lifetime
is quite enough."

Before any of his companions could offer any remark, Murgatroyd, the
chief air-mechanic on duty, appeared through the hatchway.

"Sorry to have to report, sir," he announced, "that the two after motors
are both out of action.  Blade smashed on the starboard prop, sir, and
the chain-drive on the port prop has snapped.  The broken chain is in
your cabin, sir."

"Who put it there?" asked Fosterdyke.

"It put itself there, sir," was the imperturbable reply.  "Sort of flew
off the sprocket when the link parted and went bang through the side
plate of the fuselage, sir.  I’ll allow it’s made a wee bit of a mess
inside, sir."

"Take over, Bramsdean, please," said Fosterdyke.  "Directly you get a
chance obtain our position.  Come on, Kenyon, let’s see the extent of
the damage.  The cabin doesn’t matter.  It isn’t the first time I’ve
slept in a punctured dog-box.  But the mechanical breakdown--that’s the
thing that counts."

Followed by Murgatroyd, the baronet and Kenyon went aft.  From No. 5
motor-room they could see the motionless propeller, one of the four
blades of which had been shattered as far as the boss, while all the
others bore signs of more or less damage from the flying fragments.

"Matter of twenty minutes, sir," replied Murgatroyd in answer to his
chief’s enquiry as to how long the repairs would take. "We’ll have to
stop, and I’ll bolt on the new blades.  At the same time I’ll put a
couple of hands on to fitting a new chain to the starboard drive.  I
don’t fancy the ’A’ bracket’s strained, but I’ll soon find out directly
we stop."

It was rough luck to have to stop all the motors and drift at the mercy
of the air currents for twenty precious minutes; but the only option
would be to carry on under the action of four propellers only at a
greatly reduced speed.

"Right-o, Murgatroyd," agreed the baronet.  "Slap it about."

"Trust me for that, sir," replied the engineer.  "I’ve warned the
break-down gang.  I’ll give you the all-clear signal in twenty
minutes--less, sir, or my name isn’t Robert Murgatroyd."

Three minutes later the remaining four motors were switched off, and the
"Golden Hind," rapidly losing way, fell off broadside on to the wind at
a height of twelve thousand five hundred feet above sea-level.

Instantly the mechanics swarmed out along the slender "A" brackets,
Murgatroyd and an assistant setting to work to unbolt the damaged
blades, while other airmen passed a new chain round the sprocket wheels
of the starboard motor and propeller respectively.

Although there was no apparent wind, and the airship was drifting at
practically the same rate as the air current, it was bitterly cold.  The
brackets were slippery with ice, and the difficulty of maintaining a
foothold was still further increased by the erratic vertical motion of
the airship.

The mechanics, wearing lifelines, went about their work fearlessly.
They were used to clambering about on coastal airships, sometimes under
fire; and although the present task was a simple one from a mechanical
point, it was most difficult owing to the adverse atmospheric
conditions.

Yet in the space of seventeen and a half minutes Murgatroyd and his band
of workers were back in the fuselage, their task accomplished, and in
twenty minutes the six motors were running once more.

Murgatroyd flushed with pleasure when his chief thanked and complimented
him.

"Maybe, sir, you’d be liking to have your cabin repaired?" he asked.
"Just a sheet of metal strapped against the plates will hold till we
land again.  Then I’ll see that it’s well bolted on, sir; but I’ll
guarantee you’ll not be feeling the draught to-night."



CHAPTER XIV--THE BOAT’S CREW


The state of his cabin hardly troubled Fosterdyke.  He never even went
to investigate the extent of the damage, for the moment the airship’s
motors were re-started he hastened back to the navigation-room.

"Got a fix yet, Bramsdean?" were his first words.

Peter handed him a slip of paper.

"Well out of our course, sir," he remarked.

The position was given as lat. 3° 15’ 20" S., long. 58° 20’ 5" E.

"We are," agreed Fosterdyke gravely. "Well to the west’ard.  We ought to
be within sight of the Seychelles."

"Any chance of getting petrol there, I wonder?" asked Bramsdean.
"Judging by the name it seems a likely place to get ’Shell brand.’"

"Don’t prattle, Peter," exclaimed Kenneth, facetiously.

Fosterdyke laughed at the joke.

"Rotten puns, both of them," he said. "All the same I wish we had
another two hundred gallons of ’Pratt’s’ or ’Shell’ or any other old
brand of petrol.  But it’s no use going still farther out of our course
on the off-chance of getting juice, so we’ll just carry on."

With the passing of the cyclone the wind fell light.  What little there
was was dead aft.  The sea, viewed from an altitude of three thousand
feet, appeared as smooth as glass, although in reality there was a long
rolling ground swell.

In order to economise the petrol consumption the speed of the "Golden
Hind" was reduced to ninety miles an hour. Should the favouring wind
hold, the airship stood a good chance of making the Australian coast.
If it changed and blew from the south-east, then Fosterdyke’s chances of
winning the race would be off.

Just before eleven o’clock in the morning of the day following the
storm, Frampton, one of the crew on duty in the navigation-room,
reported a boat about three miles away on the port bow.

By the aid of glasses it was seen that the boat was a ship’s cutter
moving slowly under sail in an easterly direction.  Her crew were hidden
from view by a spare sail rigged as an awning over the stern sheets.

"Something wrong there," remarked Bramsdean.  "A small boat hundreds of
miles from the nearest land requires some explanation.  Inform Sir
Reginald, Frampton; tell him I propose coming down within hailing
distance."

Before Fosterdyke could reach the navigation-room the noise of the
"Golden Hind’s" aerial propellers had attracted the attention of the
occupants of the cutter, and six or seven men, whipping off the awning,
began waving strips of canvas and various garments.

Slowing down and descending to fifty feet, the airship approached the
boat.  The latter was hardly seaworthy.  Her topstrake had been stove in
on the starboard side, and had been roughly repaired by means of a piece
of painted canvas.  Her sails were patched in several places, while in
default of a rudder she was being steered by means of an oar.

"Poor chaps!  Look at them!" ejaculated Kenneth.  "They’re almost done
in."

The boat’s crew were indeed in desperate straits.  They were ragged,
gaunt, and famished.  Their faces and hands were burnt to a brick-red
colour with exposure to the wind and tropical sun.  Three of them,
seeing that help was at hand, had collapsed and were lying inertly on
the bottom-boards.

Viewed from a height of fifty feet the length of the ocean rollers
became apparent. The sea was not dangerous, since there were no
formidable crests to the long undulations, but there was considerable
risk of the lightly built fuselage sustaining damage should the boat
surge alongside. On the other hand, it was almost a matter of
impossibility to get the men on board otherwise than by the airship
descending and resting on the surface.  Obviously they were far too weak
to attempt to climb the rope-ladder, while the use of bowlines was open
to great objection both as regards the length of time and the risk of
injury to the rescued men.

Being a ship’s boat the cutter was provided with slinging gear.  The
question was whether in her damaged state the boat would break her back
in being hoisted; but Fosterdyke decided to take the risk.

Accordingly wire hawsers were lowered from the two bow-hawser pipes, and
by dint of careful manoeuvring the shackles were engaged.  Then, under
the lifting power of additional brodium introduced into the for’ard
ballonets, the "Golden Hind" rose vertically until the boat was clear of
the water.  The motor winches were then started and the cutter hauled up
until her gunwales were almost touching the underside of the airship’s
nacelle.

One by one the exhausted men were taken on board the airship by means of
the hatchway through which Kenyon had gone to the rescue of Enrico
Jaures.  This done, two of the "Golden Hind’s" men dropped into the boat
and passed slings round her.  When these took the weight of the cutter
the wire hawsers were unshackled and the two men clambered back to the
airship, which had now risen to nearly a thousand feet.  One end of each
sling was then slipped, and the boat, falling like a stone, splintered
to matchwood as she struck the surface of the sea.

The seven rescued men were given food and drink in strictly moderate
quantities. Vainly they begged for more, but Fosterdyke knew the danger
of starving men being allowed to eat and drink their fill. Nor did he
attempt to question them at that juncture, beyond ascertaining that
there were no more boats belonging to their ship.  They were put into
bunks and made to sleep.

It was not until ten o’clock on the following morning that four of the
rescued men put in an appearance in Fosterdyke’s cabin.  The remaining
three were too ill to leave their bunks.

They were, they said, the sole survivors of the American barque _Hilda
P. Murchison_, thirty days out from Albany, Western Australia, and bound
for Karachi.  Three hundred miles east of the Chagos Archipelago an
explosion took place, but whether external or internal the survivors did
not know.  One of them thought it might have been a mine.  But it was
severe enough to sink the _Hilda P. Murchison_ in less than five
minutes, and the sole survivors were the first mate and six hands of the
duty watch, who managed to scramble into the only boat that had not been
shattered.

Without food and with only a small barrico of water, they set off to
make their way back to Australia, knowing that with the prevailing winds
they stood a much better chance of making land there than if they
attempted a three-hundred-mile beat to windward, with the risk of
missing the Chagos Archipelago altogether.

That was eight days ago.  They contrived to exist upon raw fish, tallow
candles--which they found in a locker--and half a pint of water per man
per diem.

Once they sighted a vessel, but their signals for assistance were
unnoticed.  Then they encountered a white squall, the tail end of a
storm that ripped their sails before they could stow canvas, and carried
away the rudder.

The blow was succeeded by a flat calm. For hours the cutter drifted
idly, her roughly repaired sails hanging listlessly in the sultry air.
Almost overcome by hunger, fatigue, and the tropical heat, they were on
the point of despair when the timely arrival of the British airship
snatched them from a lingering death.

"I hope we’ll be able to set you ashore at Fremantle within the next
eight or ten hours," said Fosterdyke.  "Meanwhile we’ll get in touch
with the wireless station there and report your rescue.  Oh, yes, you
may smoke in the for’ard compartment, but you’ll find this ship as ’dry’
as the land of the Stars and Stripes."

During the rest of the day progress was well maintained.  The westerly
breeze increased to half a gale, which meant an addition of thirty to
forty miles an hour to the airship’s speed.  Barring accidents the
"Golden Hind" would reach Fremantle with petrol still remaining in her
tanks.

"It’s not often one gets a westerly wind in the Twenties," observed the
baronet. "South-east Trades are the usual order of things.  We’re lucky.
Normally we should have to go as far south as 40° to rely upon a
westerly wind."

"It will help us from Fremantle to New Zealand," said Peter.  "I
remember reading in the paper not so many months ago of the skipper of a
sailing vessel who tried for days to beat up from Melbourne to
Fremantle.  Finally he gave up beating to wind’ard as a hopeless job, so
he turned and ran before the westerly breeze, sailed round the Horn and
the Cape of Good Hope, and actually arrived at Fremantle several days
before another vessel that had left Melbourne at the same time as he
did."

"Let’s hope we’ll find an equally favouring wind to help us across the
Pacific," remarked Fosterdyke.  "We’ll want it."



CHAPTER XV--REVELATIONS


"Land ahead!"

The hail brought Fosterdyke and Bramsdean from their cabins with the
utmost alacrity.  They had not expected to sight Australia for another
hour and a half, and now there was certainly land far away to the
east’ard.

During the last three hours the clear sky had given place to a thick
bank of dark clouds.  Observations to determine the "Golden Hind’s"
position were therefore out of the question.  She was steering a compass
course with the wind almost dead aft.  It was a case of dead reckoning,
and now no one knew exactly what part of Western Australia they were
approaching--whether it was north or south of the Fremantle aerodrome.

"We’ll do it before dark," declared Fosterdyke, confidently.

He had hardly spoken when Murgatroyd’s head and shoulders appeared
through the hatchway of the navigation-room.

"We’re on the last few gallons of petrol, sir," he reported.  "I’ve me
doubts if the engines’ll run another ten minutes.  They’re slowing down
now," he added.

"Switch off all but numbers 1 and 2 motors," ordered the baronet.  "Keep
these running for twenty minutes if you can, and we’ll manage it."

But before the chief engineer could regain the for’ard motor-room the
six aerial propellers were motionless.  The "Golden Hind" no longer
drove through the air, but simply drifted broadside on to the strong
breeze.

Just as the sun sank in the Indian Ocean the airship crossed the
coastline.  Ten miles to the north could be discerned Perth and
Fremantle--ten miles that, as far as the "Golden Hind" was concerned
might have been a thousand.

"Down with her," ordered Fosterdyke. "Stand by with both grapnels.
We’ll have to trust to luck to find a good anchoring-ground."

It was not until the airship had passed over the railway running
southward from Perth to Busselton that Kenyon noted a hill that might
afford shelter from the strong wind.

Rapidly several thousand cubic feet of brodium were exhausted from the
ballonets, with the result that the "Golden Hind" dropped to within a
hundred feet of the ground.

There was just sufficient twilight to make out the nature of the landing
place.  It was a wide belt of grassland, dotted here and there with
small trees.  Hedges there were none.

"There are a couple of men on horseback, sir," reported Frampton.

"Good," replied Fosterdyke.  "Let go both grapnels.  See how she takes
that."

Both of the stout barbed hooks engaged the moment they touched the
ground. Even though the wire ropes were paid out in order to reduce the
strain, the jerk was severe.  Round swung the giant airship head to
wind, but still she dragged.  The grapnels had caught in a wire fence,
and having uprooted half a dozen posts, were doing their level best to
remove a five-mile sheep fence.

Up galloped the two farmers.  The uprooting of their boundary fence
hardly troubled them.  The arrival of the airship--the first they had
ever seen--occupied all their attention.

"Make fast for us, please," hailed Fosterdyke, having ordered another
rope to be lowered.

"Right-o," was the reply.  "We’ll fix you up."

Dismounting and tethering their somewhat restive horses, the two
Australians took the end of the third wire rope to the trunk of a large
tree-the only one for miles, as it so happened.  Fortunately they knew
how to make a rope fast--an accomplishment that few people other than
seamen possess.

"Where are we?" asked the baronet.

"In Minto County, ten miles from Kelmscott," was the reply.

"Any petrol to be had hereabouts?"

"Sure," was the unexpected answer. "How much do you want?"

"A hundred gallons--enough to take us to Fremantle," replied Fosterdyke
rather dubiously.

"Two hundred if you want," offered the good Samaritan.  "I’ll run it
along in less than an hour."

"Will to-morrow at daybreak do equally as well?" asked Sir Reginald,
knowing the difficulty and possible danger of handling quantities of the
highly volatile spirit in the dark.  "We’ll be all right here until
morning if the wind doesn’t increase."

"It won’t," declared the farmer, confidently.  "If anything it’ll fall
light.  If you’re in a hurry, I’ll hitch you on to my motor lorry and
tow you into Fremantle."

Fosterdyke thanked him and begged to be excused on the score that he was
obliged by the terms of the race to make a flight without outside
assistance in the matter of propulsion.

The two Australians, declining an invitation to go on board the airship,
rode away in the darkness.

As the farmer had predicted, the wind fell away to a dead calm, so the
airship was able to rest upon the ground, but ready, should the breeze
spring up, to ascend to a hundred feet and there ride it out until the
promised petrol was forthcoming.

"Now for our first dinner on or over Australian soil," exclaimed
Fosterdyke. "By Jove, I’m hungry!  What’s going?"

He scanned the menu card.  The cooks on the airship were good men at
their work, and dinner, whenever circumstances permitted, was rather a
formal affair.

"Hullo!" exclaimed Peter.  "Covers laid for four, eh?"

"Yes," replied the baronet.  "I’m expecting a guest.  Ah! here he is.
Let me introduce you to my friend, Mr. Trefusis."

Kenyon and Bramsdean could hardly conceal their astonishment, for
standing just inside the doorway, immaculately dressed in well-cut
clothes, was the man they had hitherto known as Otto Freising, the
fellow who had attempted to shoot Fosterdyke at Alexandria.

"Secret Service," explained the baronet. "Had to keep the affair dark,
even from you two fellows."

"You certainly did us in the eye," said Peter.

"No more than I did Señor Jaures," rejoined Trefusis.  "I had a rotten
time cooped up with that bird, but it was worth it."

"So you’ve succeeded?" asked Fosterdyke.

Trefusis nodded.

"Wouldn’t be here if I hadn’t," he remarked.  "It took me some time to
get the right side of Señor Enrico, but I managed it.  He rather looked
a bit sideways at me when I pitched a yarn about being a Hun.  However,
I’ve got it out of him that he was employed by von Sinzig to kipper your
part of the show, and judging by accounts he almost succeeded.  You’ll
have enough evidence, Fosterdyke, to disqualify von Sinzig."

"I’ll think about it," drawled the baronet.  "After all’s said and done
the Hun is a sport, only his idea of sport differs radically from ours.
It’s his nature, I suppose.  But another time you fire at me with blank
cartridges, Trefusis, old son, please don’t aim at my head.  Grains of
burnt powder in one’s eyes aren’t pleasant."

"Nor did I feel very pleasant," rejoined the Secret Service man, "when
that officious blighter suggested putting me under arrest and trying me
in a Civil Court. He must have thought you pretty high-handed, rushing
me off in your airship."

"Yes, it was as well I took Colonel Holmes into my confidence," said
Fosterdyke. "Otherwise you might at this moment be cooling your heels in
a ’Gippy’ prison.  However, we’ve got evidence against von Sinzig, if
needs be."

"What are you going to do with Señor Jaures?" asked Trefusis.

"Do with him?  Nothing much.  Fact, I’ll do it now, directly we’ve
finished dinner."

The meal over, Fosterdyke ordered Enrico Jaures to be brought in.  The
look on the miscreant’s features was positively astounding when he found
his former companion in captivity revealed in his true colours.

"Now, Enrico Jaures," began Fosterdyke, without further preliminaries.
"You understand English, in spite of your previous denial.  Read that.
If you agree to it, you are a free man the moment you’ve signed the
statement."

At the promise of liberty Enrico plucked up courage.  He had a wholesome
respect for the word of an Englishman.

The document was in the form of a confession, stating that Enrico Jaures
had agreed, for a certain sum promised by Count Karl von Sinzig, to
hinder, either by crippling or destroying the "Golden Hind," Sir
Reginald Fosterdyke’s attempt to fly round the world.

"I’ll sign," said Enrico.

He wrote his name.  Kenyon and Trefusis witnessed the signature.

The baronet folded the document and placed it in his pocket.

"Now you can go," he said.

"But how am I to return to Gibraltar?" asked Jaures.

"That’s your affair," replied Fosterdyke, sternly.  "You ought to be
thankful you’re still alive.  Now go."

At the first sign of dawn the Australian farmer, true to his word,
arrived with a large motor-lorry piled with filled petrol cans.  He was
not alone.  The seemingly sparsely-populated district now teemed with
people.  Hundreds must have seen the "Golden Hind" pass overhead the
previous evening, but how they discovered the airship’s temporary
anchorage was a mystery.  There were townsmen in motorcars, sturdy
farmers on motor-cycles, waggons, and carts, backwoodsmen on bicycles
and on foot.  Even the "sun-downer" class were represented.

The "Golden Hind" had just completed her preparations for flying back to
Fremantle aerodrome when a motor-cyclist rode up and handed Fosterdyke a
telegram.

"It was fortunate we didn’t make Fremantle last night," observed the
baronet, handing the message to Kenyon and Bramsdean.  "The aerodrome
was destroyed by fire at one o’clock this morning."



CHAPTER XVI--THE OBSERVATION BASKET


While the "Golden Hind" was struggling towards the shores of Western
Australia, Count Karl von Sinzig in Z64 was flying almost due south from
Samarang, in the island of Java.

He, too, had had a taste of the cyclone, which had extended over the
whole of the Arabian Sea and had been severely felt as far north as the
Persian-Turkestan frontier.

Practically helpless in the grip of the furious blast, Z64 had been
driven far off her course.  Passing high over the mountainous districts
of Thibet, the German airship, unseen and unheard, finally encountered a
stiff northerly wind when approaching the China Sea in the neighbourhood
of Hanoi.  Already the start von Sinzig had obtained over his British
rival was wiped out.  The long detour he had been obliged to take
represented twelve hours’ flight under normal conditions, and since he
knew of Fosterdyke’s progress by the expedient of picking up the "Golden
Hind’s" wireless message, he realised that the latter had made good her
belated departure.

At Samarang, Z64 took in fresh hydrogen and petrol.  Von Sinzig reported
his arrival to the representatives of the International Air Board, and
stated his intention of proceeding via New Guinea, New Caledonia, and
Norfolk Island to New Zealand, where he would be able to fulfil one of
the conditions that required the competitors to touch at a spot within
one degree of the nadir to their starting-point.

But von Sinzig had no intention of carrying out his declared programme.
Directly he was well clear of Samarang, he shaped a course due south in
order to pick up the prevailing westerly wind south of Australia on
which Fosterdyke counted also.  A stiff northerly wind over the Sunda
Sea helped the German to attain his object, and on the evening that the
"Golden Hind" drifted to south of Fremantle, Z64 was skirting the coast
of West Australia, in the neighbourhood of Geographe Bay.

Von Sinzig was in a bad state of mind. He knew by means of a code
message from Barcelona that one of his agents had made an attempt to
delay the "Golden Hind’s" departure.  What had actually taken place he
knew not.  All he did know was the galling fact that the attempt had
been unsuccessful, and that by this time his rival was practically level
with him.

"Hans," he exclaimed, calling one of his subordinates, formerly an
Unter-Leutnant in the German Flying Service and before that a Mercantile
Marine officer.

Hans Leutter clicked his heels and stood to attention.

"You know Fremantle?" enquired the count, brusquely.

"Fairly well, mein Herr," was the reply. "I’ve called there perhaps a
dozen times in cargo boats.  The last time was in January, 1914."

"There was, of course, no aerodrome there then?"

"Assuredly no, sir."

"According to my information it is on the right bank of the Swan River
and a couple of kilometres to the east of the town.  It ought to be
easily found."

Hans Leutter agreed that to locate it ought to be a simple matter.

"Then we’ll do so, little Hans," exclaimed the count, grimly.  "We might
even make the Englishman Fosterdyke a little present anonymously, of
course."

The ex-Unter-Leutnant grinned.

"You wish me to take the Albatross for an airing then?" he said.

"Ach, no," replied von Sinzig.  "If our Albatross were invisible and
noiseless, it would be different.  We’ll use the observation basket.
Overhaul the mechanism carefully, because you, little Hans, are going to
use it."

Hans Leutter saluted and went for’ard. He was not at all keen on being
told off for observation work, but his innate sense of discipline made
him accept the duty without outward signs of resentment. Somehow he
didn’t relish the idea of being lowered from the Zeppelin and allowed to
dangle at the end of two or three thousand feet of fine wire.

Shortly before midnight the look-out on Z64 picked up the harbour and
town lights of Fremantle.  It was now a fairly calm night.  At five
thousand feet was a stratum of light clouds, sufficient to obscure the
starlight.  The climatic conditions for von Sinzig’s plans were exactly
what he wanted.

When the German airship was dead to windward of the town her motors were
switched off and she was allowed to drift in and out of the lower edge
of the bank of clouds.

From her foremost nacelle a circular basket, fitted with a vertical vane
to prevent it from turning round and round like a gigantic meat-jack,
was hanging.  In the basket, with a couple of small incendiary bombs for
company, was Hans Leutter.  In order to keep in touch with the captain
of Z64 Hans was provided with a wireless telephone.

"All ready," announced the observer.  "Lower away."

The well-oiled mechanism ran smoothly and noiselessly until a sudden
check in the downward journey told Hans that the observation basket had
reached the limit of its cable.  From where he dangled--nearly
two-thirds of a mile below the airship--Z64 was quite invisible.  It was
therefore safe to assume that the good people of Fremantle were likewise
not in a position to see the huge gas-bag five thousand feet overhead,
while the insignificant observation basket, although only a thousand
feet or so up, was too minute to be spotted against the blurred
starlight.

On the other hand, Hans Leutter could command a fairly comprehensive
view of the town beneath him.  The tranquil waters of the Swan River
enabled him to fix his position, for even on the darkest night a river
can readily be seen by an aerial observer.  The navigation lamps of the
aerodrome almost misled him.  At first he mistook them for the railway
station; but when he discovered his mistake he asked himself why the
aerial signalling lamps were still being exhibited. According to the
latest wireless messages picked up by Z64, the "Golden Hind" ought by
this time to be berthed in the hangar.  But, perhaps, he argued, the
officials in their demonstrations of welcome had forgotten to switch the
lights off.

"This reminds me of London in 1916," thought Hans.  "London in those
good old days when our Zeppelins came and went almost without let or
hindrance.  Now, my beauty, you and I must part."

He raised the bomb and poised it on the edge of the basket.  In his
excitement he had completely forgotten his fears at being suspended by a
steel rope almost the same gauge as a piano-wire.

The incendiary bomb was quite a small affair, but none the less
efficacious.  In order to guard against identification should any of the
metal parts be found, the vanes were stamped with the British Government
marks, which showed that von Sinzig, with characteristic Teutonic
thoroughness, had taken the precaution of covering his tracks. The
British Air Ministry and the Australian Commonwealth Government could
appraise responsibility later--by that time Z64 would be thousands of
miles away.

Allowing for the slight breeze, Hans Leutter telephoned for the Zeppelin
to steer ten degrees to the nor’ard.  Slowly Z64 carried out the
instructions, and seesawing gently the observation basket moved in a
slightly different direction from its previous line of drift until the
crucial moment arrived.

Hans Leutter released the bomb.  For three seconds the observer could
follow its downward passage; then it vanished into the darkness.  Five
seconds later the missile hit its objective.

There was no need for a second bomb. The airship shed was blazing
fiercely.

The Hun in the basket spoke into the telephone.

"Direct hit," he reported.  "Haul me up."

Z64 had once more stopped her motors and was rising rapidly above the
bank of clouds.  At the same time a motor winch was winding in the
cable, and Hans Leutter’s rate of progress as the basket whirred through
the air brought back all his fears concerning his hazardous position.
What if there were a flaw in the wire?  It was ex-Government stuff, he
recalled--material that might have been left lying in a neglected
condition for months before von Sinzig acquired it for its present
purpose.  And supposing the wire slipped off the drum and got nipped in
the cogs of the winch?  A score of thoughts of a similar nature flashed
across the observer’s mind.  He broke into a gentle perspiration. He
trembled violently as a mental vision of himself hurtling through space
gripped him in all its hideousness.

But the wire held.  Hans Leutter was assisted into the nacelle, where he
promptly fainted.  By that time Z64 was several miles away from
Fremantle, but a dull red glare on the horizon unmistakably indicated
the extent of the conflagration.

Throughout the night Z64 flew at an altitude of not less than fifteen
thousand feet.  Dawn found her far to the south’ard of the Great
Australian Bight.

Von Sinzig had good cause for keeping out of the beaten steamer tracks;
nor did he intend to pass within a hundred miles of the southern part of
Tasmania.  He counted upon arriving at Napier, New Zealand, at daybreak
on the day following, and until then he meant to be most careful not to
be reported by any vessel.

The commander of Z64 had just sat down to breakfast when one of the crew
entered his cabin.

"Pardon, Herr Offizier," said the man, apologetically, "but the
observation basket is missing."

"What do you mean?" demanded von Sinzig.

"We secured it after Herr Leutter had finished with it, Herr Kapitan,"
explained the man.  "I myself saw that the four bottle-screws were
turned up tightly. Kaspar Graus, who had been told to remove the
remaining petrol bomb, came and reported that the basket was no longer
there.  The metal clips were still attached to the bottle-screws.  It
would appear that these were torn from the basket itself."

Count Karl von Sinzig left his breakfast untasted and hurried along the
catwalk to the gondola from which the observation basket was hung.  His
informant’s news was only too true.  Unaccountably the basket had been
wrenched from its securing apparatus.

"It is of little consequence," he declared. "We would not have required
it again, and, since it will not float, it is at the bottom of the sea
by this time.  Perhaps it is as well, in case we are inspected by
inquisitive officials at our next alighting place."

It was an unlucky day for Z64.  About noon two of her motors developed
trouble simultaneously.  Three hours elapsed before the sweating
mechanics were able to get the recalcitrant engines in running order
again, and during that period the Zeppelin had perforce to slow down
considerably.  Consequently, it was half an hour after sunrise when Z64
sighted the Three Kings Island to the north-west of Cape Maria van
Diemen.  Here she altered course, so as ostensibly to appear as if she
had been flying straight from New Caledonia, and, skirting the west
coast of New Zealand, headed for Napier, where, by the consent of the
New Zealand Government, von Sinzig was permitted to land and thus carry
out one of the conditions of the contest.

"We’ll fly inland when we sight Auckland," decided the count.  "No,
don’t take her up any higher.  There is now no need for concealment.
Let these New Zealanders see and comment upon the fact that their
islands are not beyond reach of a good German airship."

And so, flaunting her prowess in the rapidly-growing daylight, Z64
approached the town of Auckland.  The Zeppelin was within ten miles of
the place when one of the crew shouted the disconcerting information
that there was an airship on the starboard bow, travelling east by
north.

Rapping out a furious oath, von Sinzig snatched up a pair of binoculars.
He had never before set eyes on the "Golden Hind," although the British
airship had passed almost immediately above him within a few minutes of
Z64 leaving her Spanish base, but instinctively he realised that this
was his greatest rival, Sir Reginald Fosterdyke’s creation.

"Gott in Himmel!" shouted von Sinzig. "Leutter, you numbskull, you made
a hideous mess of things last night!  Look--the ’Golden Hind’!"



CHAPTER XVII--A SURPRISE FOR CAPTAIN PROUT


Captain Abraham Prout, master and part owner of the topsail schooner
_Myrtle_, of 120 tons burthen, came on deck on hearing the mate give the
order "All hands shorten sail!"

It was six o’clock in the morning, still dark and very cold, for the
_Myrtle_ was on the fortieth parallel of the Southern Hemisphere, and
the month being June it was mid-winter.  There were flakes of snow
flying about.  For the last three days and nights it had either been
sleeting, raining, or snowing, or else all three together; but the wind
was fair, and there was every prospect of the schooner making a quick
passage from Albany to Hobart.

"There’s something behind this muck, Abe," remarked the mate, who, on
the strength of being the "Old Man’s" brother-in-law, was on familiar
terms with Captain Prout.  "The old hooker won’t carry her topsails with
the breeze a-freshenin’.  Best be on the safe side, says I."

"Quite right, Tom," agreed the skipper. "New topmasts cost a mort sight
o’ money in these hard times.  Anything to report?"

"Nothin’," replied the mate, laconically.

He shook the frozen sleet from the rim of his sou’wester and turned to
inform one of the crew, in polite language of the sea, that "he’d better
get a move on an’ not stand there a-hanging on to the slack."

"There’s some tea a-goin’, Tom," announced Captain Prout.  "Nip below
an’ get a mug to warm you up a bit."

The mate fell in with the suggestion with alacrity.  The skipper, having
seen the hands complete their task of "gettin’ the tops’ls off her,"
went aft to where the half-frozen helmsman was almost mechanically
toying with the wheel.

Through sheer force of habit Captain Prout peered into the feebly
illuminated compass-bowl.  Even as he did so, there was a tremendous
crash.

The _Myrtle_ trembled from truck to kelson, while from aloft a jumble of
splintered spars, cordage, and canvas fell upon the deck like a
miniature avalanche.

Captain Prout’s first impressions were those of pained surprise.  For
the moment he was firmly convinced that the schooner had piled herself
upon an uncharted rock, but the absence of any signs of the vessel
pounding against a hard bottom reassured him on that point.

Although in ignorance of what had occurred, the tough old skipper rose
to the occasion.

"Steady on your helm!" he shouted to the man at the wheel.  "Don’t let
her fall off her course."

The helmsman obeyed.  It was no easy matter, since he was enveloped in a
fold of the mainsail and the _Myrtle_ was towing the main-topmast and a
portion of the cross-trees alongside.

Alarmed by the commotion, the "watch below"--two men and a boy--rushed
on deck, while the mate, issuing from the after-cabin with a tin
pannikin of tea still grasped in his hand, raised his voice in a
strongly worded enquiry to know what had happened to the old hooker.

"Get a light, Tom, an’ we’ll have a squint at the damage," shouted the
Old Man.  "One of you sound the well and see if she’s making any.  Dick,
you just see if them sidelights are burning properly."

The mate disappeared, to return with a hurricane lamp.

"Jerusalem!" he exclaimed.  "Ain’t it a lash up?"

The mainmast had been broken off five feet below the cross-trees, with
the result that the main and throat halliard blocks had gone with the
broken spars, while the mainsail, with the gaff and boom, had fallen
across the deck.  The shroud halliards still held, and the wire shrouds
themselves trailed athwart both bulwarks.  Apparently the foremast was
intact, since it was the main topmast stay that had parted under the
strain.

This much Captain Prout saw, noted, and understood, but what puzzled him
was a telescoped object, looking very much like an exaggerated top-hat,
that lay upon the deck between the mainmast fife-rail and the coaming of
the main hatch.

"Guess it’s a meteorite," hazarded the mate.

"Meteorite, my foot!" ejaculated Captain Prout, scornfully.  "If’t had
been, ’twould ha’ gone slap bang through the old hooker, an’ we’d have
been in the ditch."

"It’s had a good try, anyway," rejoined the mate.  "Half a dozen deck
planks stove in."

He held the lantern close to the mysterious object.

"Looks like a bloomin’ bath," he continued, "and I’m hanged if there
isn’t a whopping big bird in it.  Rummiest birdcage I’ve ever set eyes
on."

The cause of the damage to the _Myrtle’s_ top-hamper and deck planks was
Z64’s observation basket.  Instead of falling into the sea and
decorously sinking to the bottom, as von Sinzig had hoped, the
contrivance had struck the only vessel within a radius of a hundred
miles. With its head and neck driven completely through the aluminium
side of the basket was a large eagle.  The huge bird had struck the
suspended basket such a tremendous blow that the impact had wrenched
away the metal clips securing it to the bottle-screws.

"Standin’ an’ looking at the blessed thing won’t clear away this
raffle," said the Old Man with asperity.  "Set to, all hands.  Secure
and belay all you can and cut the rest adrift."

"Heave this lot overboard, Abe?" questioned the mate, kicking the basket
with his sea-boot.

"Best let ’un stop awhile," decided the skipper.  "Pass a lashing round
it.  Be sharp with that topmast, or it’ll stove us in."

Quickly the mate and a couple of hands cut away the rigging that held
the topmast alongside.  The heavy spar, which had been bumping heavily
against the side, fell clear.  The _Myrtle_, no longer impeded by the
trailing wreckage, forged rapidly through the water, although she was
now carrying foresail, staysail, and outer jib only.

By this time day had broken.  The snow had ceased falling, and right
ahead the pale sun shone in a grey, misty sky.

The crew, having made all ship-shape as far as lay in their power, were
curiously regarding the cause of the catastrophe. They rather looked
upon it as a diversion to break the monotony.

"There’s a log of sorts, sir," exclaimed one of the men, fumbling with
the leather straps that secured the unused petrol bomb.  The missile had
been badly dented, but luckily the safety cap was intact. Had it not
been so, the bomb would have ignited on impact, and the _Myrtle_, her
snow-swept deck notwithstanding, would soon have been enveloped in
flames from stem to stern.

"Don’t fool around with it, Ted," said another of the crew, who, an
R.N.R. man, had seen life and death in the Great War.  "It’s a bomb."

"Well," observed Captain Prout, "that’s more’n I bargained for.  I’ve
taken my chances with floating mines, but it’s coming too much of a good
thing when these airmen blokes start chucking bombs haphazard-like."

"Best pitch the thing overboard," suggested the mate.

"No," objected the Old Man.  "If we do, we’ve no evidence.  Someone’s
got to pay for this lash up.  Government broad arrow on the thing, too.
That fixes it.  When we make Hobart I’ll raise Cain or my name’s not
Abraham Prout."



CHAPTER XVIII--UNDER FIRE


"It’s going to be a close race, Kenyon," remarked Fosterdyke, as Z64
crossed the "Golden Hind’s" bows at a distance of less than a mile.

"Guess we’re top-dog, though," replied Kenneth.  "We’ve wiped out the
Hun’s useful lead, and at the half-way point we’re practically level."

"Yes," agreed the baronet; "but we must not ignore the element of
chance. Let me see"--he referred to the large Mercator map--"according
to the latest reports, Commodore Nye’s ’Eagle’ is at Khartoum.  His hop
across the Atlantic and a non-stop run over the Sahara takes a lot of
beating.  I’d like to meet that Yankee.  And there’s the Jap, Count
Hyashi.  He’s at Panama, after having been hung up for three days at
Honolulu. If he’d been able to carry on without a hitch, his quadruplane
would have won the race.  So it appears that all the competitors have
completed half the course at practically the same time."

"Aeroplane approaching, sir," reported Collings.

Right ahead a biplane was heading towards the "Golden Hind," followed at
close intervals by three more. Seemingly ignoring the German airship,
which was now on a diverging course, the four machines with admirable
precision turned and accompanied the British airship.

Two took up station on either side of the "Golden Hind."  Each flew the
New Zealand ensign.  It was Fosterdyke’s preliminary welcome to the
Antipodes.

Gliding serenely earthwards in perfectly calm air, the "Golden Hind"
entered the big shed prepared for her reception.  The civic officials of
Auckland turned out in force, supported by crowds of "Diggers" and a
fair sprinkling of Maoris.

"We quite understand," was the mayor’s remark when Fosterdyke, thanking
him for the warmness of his reception, firmly but courteously refused to
attend a banquet proposed to be given in his honour. "This is a race,
not a ceremonial tour. The prestige of the Empire is at stake, so get on
with it."

Accordingly, the "Golden Hind’s" crew did "get on with it."  Aided by
scores of willing helpers, they replenished fuel tanks, took in fresh
water and provisions and necessary stores.  A representative of the
International Air Board was in attendance to sign the control sheet,
certifying that the "Golden Hind" had completed half the circuit, and
had touched at a spot within a degree of the opposite point of the globe
to his starting-point. Within an hour and a quarter of her arrival at
Auckland the British airship started on her homeward voyage.

Although New Zealand had no cause to show any goodwill towards the Huns,
von Sinzig had no reason to complain of his reception.  He was received
coldly, it is true, but the New Zealanders, sportsmen all, were not ones
to put obstacles in the way of an alien and former enemy.

Notified by wireless of Z64’s impending arrival at Napier, the
authorities at that town had cylinders of hydrogen and a large stock of
petrol in readiness for the German airship’s requirements.  Within ten
minutes of the "Golden Hind’s" departure from Auckland Z64 started from
Napier.

The contest had now entered upon a more interesting phase.  It was
almost certain that the rivals would take a practically identical
course, crossing the American continent in the neighbourhood of the
Isthmus of Panama.  The lofty Andes, extending like a gigantic backbone
from Colombia to Patagonia--an almost uninterrupted range 450 miles in
length--presented a difficult, though not exactly insurmountable
obstacle to the rival airships.

Vainly the wireless operators of the "Golden Hind" sought to "pick up"
the Zeppelin.  Von Sinzig had seen to that, for directly the German
airship left New Zealand he gave orders that on no account were messages
to be transmitted, but on the other hand, the receivers were to be
constantly in use, in order to pick up any radiograms that might throw
light upon the movements of the "Golden Hind."

Apart from the chagrin at the knowledge that his attempt to burn the
British airship was a failure, von Sinzig felt rather elated.  His
deceptive report of the course he had taken from Java to New Zealand had
been accepted by the authorities without question; hence no suspicion
could possibly be attached to him for the burning of the Fremantle
aerodrome.  He was also of the opinion that Z64 was a swifter craft than
her rival, and possessed another advantage--that of greater
fuel-carrying capacity.  Even if the "Golden Hind" did possess a higher
speed, she would have to alight more frequently to replenish her tanks.

As far as the "Golden Hind" was concerned the run across the Panama was
almost devoid of incident.  With the exception of a distant view of
Pitcairn Island--famous in connection with the mutiny of the
_Bounty_--no land was sighted until Galapagos Group was seen ten miles
on the starboard bow.

The "Golden Hind" was now re-crossing the equator.  Fosterdyke, who had
crossed the line at least a dozen times, in all sorts of vessels from
luxuriant liners to singy tramps, and even on one occasion on board a
wind-jammer, declared that there was nothing to beat an airship for
travelling in the Tropics.

"For one thing you can keep cool," he added; "another, that will appeal
to a good many people, is the fact that an airship is beyond reach of
Father Neptune and his merry myrmidons.  And the Doldrums, instead of
being regarded as a terror, afford an easy passage to aircraft of all
descriptions."

With the setting of the sun a thick mist arose--one of those humid
tropical mists that are responsible for malaria and other zymotic
diseases peculiar to the Torrid Zone.

At a couple or three thousand feet altitude, the "Golden Hind" was in
pure clear air, but in the brief twilight the banks of mist as viewed
from above were picturesque in the extreme.

But to the crew of the "Golden Hind" the picturesqueness of the scene
was in a measure unappreciated.  They were nearing land, and a fog was
one of the most undesirable climatic conditions.  Not only was time a
consideration, but the petrol supply was running low.  But for this,
Fosterdyke would have slowed down and cruised around until the mists
dispersed with daybreak.

"We’ll have to risk it and make a descent," he declared.  "Anywhere
within easy distance of Panama will do, because it is a calm night and
there will be little or no risk of the ’Golden Hind’ being exposed to a
high wind.  Thank goodness we’ve directional wireless."

At length Fosterdyke felt convinced that the "Golden Hind" was nearing
Panama.  He had arranged by wireless to detonate three explosive
rockets, and the United States Air Station was to reply with a similar
signal, while searchlights, directed vertically, would enable the
airship to locate the landing-ground.

"Hanged if I can see any searchlights," exclaimed Bramsdean.

"Killed by the mist," explained the baronet.  "I fancy I see a blurr of
light two points on our port bow.  What’s that, Truscott?"

The wireless operator had left his cabin and was standing behind
Fosterdyke as the latter was peering through the darkness.

"There’s a jam for some reason," announced Truscott.  "For the last five
minutes I’ve been calling up Panama, but there’s nothin’ doin’.  A
high-powered installation, using the same metre-wave, is cutting in.  I
asked them to knock off, but they haven’t done so."

"Inconsiderate blighters!" exclaimed Fosterdyke.  "Never mind, Truscott,
we can get along all right now.  I fancy I can see the aerodrome
lights."

"Yes, sir," agreed Kenyon.  "One point on our port bow now."

"Then fire the rockets," ordered the baronet, at the same time
telegraphing for the motors to be declutched.

Three vivid flashes rent the darkness, their brilliance illuminating a
wide area of the fog-bank a thousand feet below, while the report echoed
over the level line of misty vapour like a continuous peal of thunder.

Within a minute of the discharge of the third rocket two bursts of
flame, accompanied by sharp reports, occurred at a distance of less than
a quarter of a mile of the "Golden Hind’s" port quarter, while after an
interval of fifteen seconds three more exploded simultaneously in the
same direction.

"Guess Uncle Sam can’t count," remarked Kenyon, imitating to perfection
the nasal drawl of the typical New Englander.

"Looks to me like shrapnel," added Bramsdean.  "Judging by the way the
smoke mushroomed, it reminds me of Archies over the Hun lines."

"Good enough, we’ll drop gently," decided Fosterdyke.  "Stand by with
the holding-down lines and have a couple of grapnels ready."

The amount of brodium necessary to more than neutralise the lifting
power of the gas and the dead weight of the airship was exhausted from
the requisite number of ballonets, and the "Golden Hind" began to sink
almost vertically in the still air.

Within five minutes she entered the belt of mist--a warm,
sickly-smelling atmosphere that reminded Kenyon of a hot-house.

"I hear voices," announced Peter.

Not far beneath the airship men were shouting and talking excitedly, but
the crew of the "Golden Hind" were unable to understand what the men
were saying.

"Ahoy, there!" hailed Fosterdyke. "Stand by to take our ropes."

Both grapnels were carefully lowered, since there would be grave risks
entailed by throwing them overboard.  At the same time half a dozen
holding-down ropes were paid out from each side of the nacelle. These
were caught by unseen hands and the airship was quickly drawn earthwards
at far too great a speed to please Sir Reginald Fosterdyke.

"Gently," he shouted.  "Avast heaving."

The response was a terrible surprise. Simultaneously two searchlights
were unmasked, their powerful beams at short range punctuating the fog
and impinging upon the enormous envelope of the "Golden Hind," while an
irregular fusillade of musketry assailed the airship on all sides.

"Up with her!" shouted Fosterdyke. "Charge all the ballonets.  We’ve
struck a revolution."



CHAPTER XIX--VICTIMS OF A REVOLUTION


Above the staccato of rifle-firing rose the roar of the "Golden Hind’s"
powerful motors.  Volumes of brodium, released from the pressure-flasks,
rushed into the ballonets.  The airship rose at an oblique angle, her
nose almost touching the ground. Then, as the aerial propellers went
ahead, the fore-part of the fuselage ploughed over the rough ground.

With thirty or forty men hanging on like grim death to the guide-lines,
and as many more tailing on to the grapnel ropes, the "Golden Hind,"
with gas leaking from numerous bullet holes in her ballonets, was unable
to seek refuge in her natural element.

Fortunately for the safety of the airship’s crew, the rifle-firing
quickly ceased as soon as the attackers realised that they had effected
her capture.  Apparently it was their intention to prevent further
damage being done to the huge airship.

Finding that escape was impossible and unable to offer resistance,
Fosterdyke opened out one of the doors of the nacelle and raised his
hands above his head.  It was no disgrace in surrendering thus. Alive
the crew of the "Golden Hind" could offer and receive explanations.
Dead, they could not.

The appearance of the captain of the "Golden Hind" was greeted by
peremptory orders, shouted in an unintelligible language.  It certainly
wasn’t American. It seemed to Fosterdyke that it was a kind of Spanish,
and since he was ignorant of that tongue he failed to grasp the meaning
of the volume of directions.

Covered by scores of rifles, Fosterdyke, Kenyon, and Bramsdean headed
the crew of the airship.  Completely bewildered by the aggressive nature
of their reception, and not knowing what fate would befall them, the
position of the British airmen was critical in the extreme.  Yet they
bore themselves calmly and bravely, scorning to let their captors know
that inwardly at least they "felt the breeze."

Deftly, as if they were well used to performing the operation, two
half-breeds searched the baronet for concealed weapons. The rest of the
crew were subjected to the same treatment.  Finding nothing in the
nature of arms, the searchers looked rather astonished and disappointed.

A gorgeously uniformed man, evidently the commandant of the band, walked
up to the baronet and saluted with an elaborate flourish.  There was
little doubt about it; he had already come to the conclusion that a
mistake had occurred, and that he rather feared the consequences.

"Americano, señor?" he asked.

"No," replied Fosterdyke.  "English."

"Madre de Dios!" ejaculated the commandant in ill-concealed
consternation. He shouted something to his followers. After a brief
interval, a tall, olive-featured follower, whose black oiled locks fell
on his shoulders, slouched forward and announced--

"Me speak English.  Vot you do here?"

Mutual explanations took a considerable time; but eventually Fosterdyke
and his companions gleaned the salient facts for the reason of the
attack and capture of the "Golden Hind."

In the tropical mists the airship had landed not in the Panama Zone but
in a neighbouring republic, which, as is by no means an unusual
occurrence, was indulging in a little political diversion in the shape
of a revolution.  Just at present there was no means of ascertaining
which was the predominant faction, but one side had gained possession of
an old airship--purchased at a disposal sale of one of the _Entente_
countries.  This airship, hastily fitted out and provided with bombs and
machine-guns, was known to be on the point of operating against the
Federals. The latter were therefore expecting the raiding airship when
the "Golden Hind," miles out of her course owing to the mists and a side
wind that, unknown to the navigating officers, had blown her well to
leeward, fired her detonating rockets almost immediately over the
Federal party’s main force.

The Federals knew nothing of the Round the World Race; but their anxiety
to make amends was most marked.  They offered to provide unlimited
supplies of petrol, and to render any assistance that lay in their
power; but the fact remained that the hasty fusillade had caused
considerable damage to the "Golden Hind."

At first Fosterdyke thought that the airship was out of the running.
Kenyon and Bramsdean were of the same opinion, for the loss of brodium
through the punctured ballonets seemed a fatal obstacle to the immediate
resumption of the flight.

Further examination revealed the fact that half the number of the
ballonets were holed.  Of these almost every one could be patched and
made gas-tight, since the rifle-bullets, being of small calibre and of
high velocity, had bored minute holes. But what was far more serious was
the shortage of brodium.  Even by releasing the contents of the reserve
cylinders it was doubtful whether there was sufficient to lift the
airship.

"We’ll have a good try, anyway," declared Fosterdyke.  "Once we get her
up we’ll rely on our planes to get us across the Atlantic.  Thank
goodness the motors are intact!  I wonder if there’s much damage done to
the navigation-room. Several bullets came unpleasantly close to our
heads, I remember."

Examination resulted in the knowledge that although the aluminium sides
of the nacelle had been liberally peppered, most of the nickel bullets
had penetrated both sides without doing vital damage.  What was the most
serious injury was caused to the propellers of Nos. 5 and 6 motors, the
feather-edged blades being chipped by bullets.  Since the spare blades
had already been used earlier in the voyage replacement was out of the
question. The ragged edges meant at least a reduction of ten miles an
hour, even if the blades did not fly to pieces when the propellers were
running at maximum speed.

During the rest of the night the crew worked with a will--patching,
mending, and "doping" the holed fabric and carefully testing each
repaired ballonet with compressed air before refilling it with the
precious brodium.

Meanwhile, the Federals brought quantities of petrol, employing teams of
mules for the purpose, their petrol dump being a good five miles from
the scene of the "Golden Hind’s" unfortunate landing. Every drop had to
be passed through a fine gauze strainer before being allowed to enter
the tanks, since foreign matter in the fuel might easily result in motor
trouble.

Anxious to make amends, the commandant also presented the baronet with a
quantity of excellent tobacco and cigars, several native cakes made of
maize, an earthenware bowl filled with good butter, and a wicker crate
of fresh fruit.

By dawn the refitting of the "Golden Hind" was accomplished as far as
lay in the power of the dauntless crew.  Now came the crucial test:
would the airship rise under the lifting power of the reduced volume of
brodium?

At seven o’clock the huge fabric showed signs of buoyancy.  A quarter of
an hour later the recording instruments showed that only another
thousand cubic feet of gas was necessary to overcome the force of
gravity.

"We haven’t that quantity, sir," reported Chief Air Mechanic Hayward.
"But I would suggest, sir, that we release our reserve gas into the
for’ard ballonets. That will lift her nose clear of the ground, and the
propellers will do the rest.  Once we’re up, sir, it will be as easy as
shelling peas."

"We can but try it," replied Fosterdyke. "At any rate, if we can make
Panama we will manage with hydrogen for the remaining ballonets.
Right-o! Pass the word when you’re ready."

At seven-thirty the crew were at their stations.  The for’ard portion of
the airship was straining at the guide ropes. The declutched motors,
purring gently at a quarter throttle, were awaiting the order that would
transform them into propulsive forces.  Until the planes could be
brought into action the "Golden Hind" was much in the nature of a rocket
soaring obliquely under the influence of a self-contained impulsive
charge.

Throwing open one of the windows of the riddled navigation-room,
Fosterdyke surveyed the crowd below.  The Federal troops, in spite of
their bizarre uniforms and varied equipment, were fairly well
disciplined.  Those not actually engaged in holding down the airship
were formed up at about fifty yards from the nacelle, interested
spectators of the largest airship that had ever passed over the
territory of the Central American Republic.

"Let go!" shouted the baronet.

The order, interpreted by the Creole who claimed to have a knowledge of
English, was obeyed promptly.  The men seemed to have an inkling of what
would happen if they did not, and they dropped the guide ropes as though
they were hot irons.

Simultaneously, as the bows of the "Golden Hind" lifted, Kenyon
telegraphed for "full ahead."

With four of the propellers purring in their accustomed way and the two
after ones roaring like gigantic buzzers, as the jagged edges revolved
rapidly in the air, the "Golden Hind" ascended obliquely, with her major
axis inclined at an angle of forty degrees to the horizontal.

The Federal troops were waving their nondescript headgear and
brandishing their rifles in token of farewell. Doubtless they were
cheering and shouting also, but the noise of the airship’s propellers
out-voiced all extraneous sounds.

At a height of one thousand feet the six planes were trimmed and brought
into action, with the result that the "Golden Hind" settled down on
almost an even keel.

Four minutes later the scene of the unfortunate "regrettable incident"
was lost to sight.

"Thanks be, we’re up!" ejaculated Fosterdyke.



CHAPTER XX--WIRELESS REPORTS


"Kenyon!" exclaimed the baronet.

"Sir?"

"We’ll cut Panama," was Fosterdyke’s astounding decision.  "We’ll carry
straight away on.  She’s doing splendidly, shortage of brodium
notwithstanding.  We’ve plenty of fuel, so it’s a dash for Madeira."

"How about reporting at the Panama control?" asked Kenneth.

"I’ll risk omitting that," replied Sir Reginald.  "Being mixed up in a
potty revolution is quite sufficient excuse for non-compliance with
regulations.  It isn’t as if we were bound to report ourselves, as in
the case of Auckland.  Bramsdean, you might ask the wireless operator to
report us to Panama, and enquire if there’s any news of our rivals.
Last night’s affair has given von Sinzig a very useful lead, I’m
afraid."

Peter hastened to give the necessary orders.  Presently he returned.

"No news of the Hun, sir," he reported. "The Yankee airship made a bad
landing at Port Denison, Queensland, and was totally destroyed by fire."

"Hard lines," remarked Fosterdyke, feelingly.  "Commodore Nye is a good
sport. I hope he wasn’t injured?"

"Far from it," replied Bramsdean.  "In fact he’s reported to have cabled
to Melbourne asking the Victorian Government if they can sell him a
Vickers-Vimy, so that he can continue the contest."

"Good luck to him, then!" exclaimed the baronet.  "And the Jap?"

"Looks like a winner, sir," replied Peter.  "The quadruplane is reported
passing over Calcutta."

"Next to beating Fritz myself, the Jap is the fellow I hope will do it,"
remarked Fosterdyke.  "By Jove!  I’d like to know where von Sinzig is
and what he’s doing."

The "Golden Hind," now virtually a heavier-than-air machine, was doing
her level best to make up for the unlucky contretemps that had delayed
her for eight precious hours.  Unaccountably the reduction of the volume
of brodium in her ballonets, although the rigid aluminium envelope had
not appreciably contracted, had resulted in a marked increase of speed.
Judging by the time she took to cover the distance between Panama and
Nevis, in the Lesser Antilles--a distance of 1250 miles--her speed over
the water was not far short of 190 miles an hour.

"If those two props had not been crippled," lamented Kenyon, "we’d be
doing a good two hundred."

"I’m content," rejoined Fosterdyke, "provided we can keep it up.  If we
don’t lap Z64 in another twelve hours, you can jolly well boot me,
Kenyon!"

A few minutes later the wireless operator appeared and handed Fosterdyke
a long written message.

The baronet’s face was a study of varying emotions as he read the news.
Kenyon, watching him, wondered what had happened.  Not that he was
surprised; after the experiences of the last week or so, it would take
something very much out of the common to take Kenneth Kenyon aback.

"Evidently our friend von Sinzig has butted in where he didn’t ought,"
remarked Fosterdyke, handing his companion the slip of paper.

It was a general Marconigram communication to the Press Agency, and read
as follows:

"Hobart, Tasmania, Thursday.  The schooner _Myrtle_, Abraham Prout,
master, arrived here this morning in a damaged condition.  Her master
reports that in lat. 43° 15’ S., long. 141° 20’ E., the schooner was hit
by a falling object, which Captain Prout subsequently brought into port.
Examination showed that the object in question was an airship
observation box or basket.  In it, fortunately intact, and with the
safety vane locking the detonator-pin, was an incendiary bomb stamped
with the broad arrow.  Experts here agree that the bomb is certainly not
a British Government’s missile, and by certain markings on the
observation basket it is safe to assume that it belonged to a German
airship.  The basket and the bomb are being forwarded to the
Commonwealth Air Board Headquarters at Sydney."

Then came another report:

"Fremantle, Western Australia, Thursday.  Investigations amongst the
ruins of the aerodrome destroyed by fire yesterday morning have resulted
in the finding of the remains of an aerial torpedo bearing the British
Government mark.  This discovery completely upsets the original theory
as to the cause of the outbreak. Various rumours are afloat, but pending
an official declaration on the subject, the Press is requested to
confine reports to the actual known facts.  A further communication will
be made as soon as definite information is forthcoming."

"Yes, von Sinzig is getting desperate," remarked Kenyon.  "It’s a dead
cert that he thought we were berthed in the Fremantle aerodrome that
night.  But how in the name of goodness did he get so far south?  It was
reported he went direct from Java to New Zealand, passing north of
Australia."

"He reported, you mean," corrected Fosterdyke.  "Trying to throw dust in
one’s eyes is an old trick of Fritz’s. Personally, I don’t believe he
took the northern route, and that he picked up our wireless announcing
our intention of making Fremantle, and then tried to do us in."

"He’s done for himself, any old way," declared Kenyon.  "I wonder if a
Hun can ever be a sportsman?"

"I wonder," echoed the baronet.  "I’ve come across a good many Huns
during the last five years, but I’m hanged if I ever met one who knew
how to play the game."

Half an hour later the "Golden Hind" intercepted a wireless message to
the effect that the British, American, and French Governments had issued
joint instructions for the German airship Z64 to be detained at the next
landing-place.

"That looks like business," commented Kenyon.  "Von Sinzig’s out of the
running."

"Unless he contrives to land in Spanish territory," added the baronet.
"There are the Canary Islands, for instance.  He could, and probably
will, claim immunity as a political offender.  I don’t think he can be
extradited.  You see, it has to be proved to the hilt that he actually
and by deliberate intent dropped a bomb on the aerodrome.  No, I fancy
we haven’t lost our Hun rival yet.  He stands a chance of romping home,
so it’s up to us to beat Z64."

"I’d like to know what the blighter’s doing now," said Kenneth,
tentatively. "Perhaps he’s within fifty miles of us."

"Provided he’s fifty miles behind us, I won’t worry my head about him,"
declared Sir Reginald.  "I’m not particularly keen on coming in touch
with him on a dark night.  He might try his hand at another dirty
trick."



CHAPTER XXI--VON SINZIG’S BID FOR SAFETY


Count Karl von Sinzig was in a particularly bad temper.  He had just
learned, by picking up various wireless messages, that "the cat was out
of the bag."  In other words, the discovery of the lost observation
basket had landed him in a very awkward predicament.

He blamed everyone and everybody save himself.  The luckless
Unter-Leutnant, Hans Leutter, came in for a very bad time because he
hadn’t got rid of the second bomb.  The petty officer, who had
conscientiously seen that the bottle-screws securing the basket were
properly made fast, was bullied and browbeaten because the basket was
torn away.  The rest of the crew, the makers of the airship, and every
person having anything to do with the aerial contest also came in for
abuse.

The count was also puzzled at not being able to intercept any messages
from the "Golden Hind" after the one announcing her approach to Panama.
Z64 had reported at Colon, when, according to the latest information,
the British airship was hard on the heels of her German rival.

And now, almost the final straw, came the general wireless message
declaring that Z64 was proscribed and liable to be detained should she
touch at any place belonging to either of the _entente_ nations.

Fosterdyke had accurately gauged his rival’s intentions.  The knowledge
that his guilty secret was out compelled von Sinzig to change his plans
and make for Teneriffe, whence, having replenished fuel, he ought to be
easily able to complete the last stage of the round the world voyage.

When about 300 miles to the westward of the Canaries, but farther to the
north than von Sinzig hoped to be, owing to a strong side-drift, Z64
encountered a violent storm.  In order to try to avoid the worst of the
terrific wind and rain, the airship began to ascend, hoping to find
better conditions in the rarefied atmosphere.

Z64 was ascending obliquely under the action of her huge horizontal
rudders and was passing through a dense cloud when a vivid flash of
lightning, followed almost immediately by a deafening crash of thunder,
appeared to penetrate the airship through and through.

Almost every man on board shouted with terror.  They were fully
convinced that the hydrogen had ignited.  There was a frantic rush for
the life-saving parachutes, until Unter-Leutnant Hans Leutter reassured
the panic-stricken crew with the information that the gas-bag had not
taken fire.

Meanwhile the airship, left to its own devices, since the helmsman had
abandoned the wheel, had turned eight degrees to port and was travelling
at a rate of 120 miles an hour on a course N. by W.

Von Sinzig, who "had the wind up" as badly as anybody, was nowhere to be
found for some time.  Leutter even came to the conclusion that his
superior officer had leapt overboard when the alarm of fire had been
raised; but after a lapse of twenty-five minutes the count re-appeared,
looking very grey and haggard.

"I think I must have been stunned, Herr Leutter," he said in
explanation.

His subordinate accepted the excuse without smiling incredulously.  He
had seen his chief bolting for his very life.  He certainly did not look
like being stunned.

"Take charge for a while," continued von Sinzig.  "I am not feeling
well.  I must go to my cabin and lie down."

He staggered aft along the narrow catwalk, while the Unter-Leutnant gave
orders for the airship to be brought back on her original course.

It was easier said than done.  The gigantic gas-bag was see-sawing
erratically. She had difficulty in answering to her helm, and in spite
of the fact that the horizontal rudders were trimmed for ascending, the
airship was decreasing her altitude.

Then reports began to come in from the still "jumpy" crew.  The engineer
reported that the after propeller was damaged; another man announced
that there was a large gash in the aluminium envelope, and that several
of the after ballonets were leaking rapidly.

Further examination revealed the grave fact that one of the propeller
blades had fractured, and the flying piece of metal had penetrated the
gas-bag at about eighty feet from the after-end.  So great had been the
velocity of the broken blade that it had practically wrecked every gas
compartment in the stern of the envelope.

Unter-Leutnant Leutter sent a man to inform von Sinzig.  He had to do
that, although he would have preferred to act upon his own initiative.
He was decidedly "fed up" with his arrogant and craven skipper.

The count arrived quickly.  He led off by abusing Leutter in front of
several of the crew for having disturbed him; then, on being told of
what had occurred, he changed completely round and complimented his
subordinate on his sagacity.

"Z64’s done, Herr kapitan," declared Hans Leutter.  "She’s sinking
rapidly. Half an hour, perhaps, will find her falling into the sea.  We
must take steps to safeguard ourselves."

"Quite true," agreed the count. "Although there will be enough buoyancy
in the envelope to keep it afloat for hours--days even.  What do you
propose to do?"

"Throw overboard everything of a weighty nature, Herr kapitan," replied
the Unter-Leutnant.  "We can empty the petrol tanks, since we have no
further use for the motors.  Meanwhile we must send out a general
wireless call for assistance to all ships within a hundred or two
hundred kilometres of us."

Count Karl von Sinzig thought this quite an excellent idea.  At least,
he said so.  At the back of his mind he had a hazy notion that even now
there was a chance of winning the Chauvasse Prize.  There was nothing in
the conditions forbidding a competitor----

His ruminations were interrupted by the appearance of the wireless
operator, who reported that both the transmitter and the receiver were
out of action, and that the wireless cabin bore signs of having been
struck by lightning.

"Can’t you effect repairs?" demanded von Sinzig.

"I am sorry I cannot, Herr kapitan," replied the operator.

"A useful wireless man you are!" commented the count, caustically.

The man saluted and backed away from his chief, congratulating himself
that he had come off so lightly.  But von Sinzig was rather pleased than
otherwise that the wireless was out of action.  It furnished him with a
good excuse to put a certain little plan into execution.

"Are there any vessels in sight?" he asked.

A look-out man had been scanning the wide expanse of sea for the last
ten minutes.

"Nothing in sight, Herr kapitan," he announced.

By this time Z64 was well beyond the storm-area.  The sea, now a bare
3000 feet below, was no longer white with angry crested waves, but by
the aid of binoculars it could be seen that there was a long swell
running.

"Then there’s nothing to be done unless we make use of the Albatross,"
declared von Sinzig.  "I will go and look for a ship."

Hans Leutter and those of the crew who heard the count’s resolve
received the proposal in stony silence.  They all recognised that their
kapitan was violating the traditions of the sea and the air by being the
first to abandon his command. Of the crew at least four were capable of
flying the small but powerful monoplane, so there was no excuse on that
score of von Sinzig being the only man able to take the Albatross up.

In obedience to a peremptory order the crew hurriedly prepared the
monoplane for her flight.  The Albatross, nominally used for starting
from and alighting on the ground, was adapted for marine work by having
three small floats, the lower portions of which were just above the
wheel base line, so that the monoplane could be used either as an
ordinary machine or as a seaplane.

In the present circumstances von Sinzig elected to start from the air.
The Albatross, suspended by a quick release gear from the underside of
the ’midship gondola, was ready before the airship had dropped to a
thousand feet.

"You will be quite safe," reiterated the count.  "I’ll send the first
vessel I meet to your assistance.  It may be a matter of a few hours.
All ready?  Let go."

The monoplane’s motor was already running slowly.  Directly von Sinzig
felt the Albatross had parted company with her gigantic parent he opened
"all out."  At a hundred and thirty miles an hour he was soon lost to
sight.

"He’s going east by north, I notice," soliloquised Hans Leutter.  "I
will be greatly surprised if he returns to Z64."

And the count was of the same opinion. He hadn’t the faintest intention
of flying back to the airship.  Nor was he particularly keen on
reporting Z64’s predicament to any vessel he sighted.

He was out to win the Chauvasse Prize. The sum went to the man who
succeeded in flying round the world in twenty days. There was no
stipulation to the effect that only one airship, flying-boat, aeroplane,
or seaplane must be used throughout the flight.  Therefore, since the
goal was within a comparatively easy distance, he hoped to complete the
circuit in the Albatross, and thus win the coveted prize.



CHAPTER XXII--THE END OF Z64


"By Jove!  Kenyon, what’s that over on our starboard bow?" exclaimed
Bramsdean.

Kenneth raised his binoculars and focussed them on a dark object in the
direction indicated.

"That," he replied after a brief survey, "is a Zepp.  There’s not much
mistake about that.  She is also in difficulties apparently, since Zepps
don’t generally assume an angle of forty-five degrees. It is also
reasonable to assume that it is Z64, since we know that von Sinzig was
keeping a course slightly divergent to ours. The southerly wind has
evidently driven her northward."

Fosterdyke was asleep in his cabin, but upon hearing the news he hurried
to the navigation-room.

"Are we Pharisees or Good Samaritans, sir?" enquired Kenyon.  "Do we
pass by on the other side, or do we stop to render assistance?"

"It strikes me that something more than assistance is required," replied
the baronet.  "Obviously our friend von Sinzig is out of the running.
His airship is down and out.  If there are any of the crew on board,
we’ll be just in time to prevent them losing the number of their mess."

Z64 was in a very bad way.  The after part of the envelope was half
submerged. The rearmost gondola was entirely so. The foremost car was
rising and falling owing to the slight buoyancy of the for’ard
ballonets.  At one moment it was thirty or forty feet above the water,
at another it was smacking the surface and sending the spray far and
wide.

"Keep to windward," ordered Fosterdyke.

"There are men still on board," replied Peter.  "A dozen more or less
are hanging on to the catwalk."

"It’ll be rather a proposition to get them off," said the baronet.  "We
haven’t a boat; neither apparently have they, and I don’t like the idea
of running alongside a half-submerged gas-bag.  With this heavy swell
there’s no knowing what might happen."

"We might run out a hawser and take her in tow," suggested Kenyon.  "I
mean, tow her until we get the crew off by means of an endless line."

"Might do," half agreed Fosterdyke. "It would be decidedly awkward if
our head fell away and we drifted in broadside on to the wreckage.
We’ll try it.  Tell Jackson to get a hawser ready, and see there is a
slip fitted in case we have to cast off in a hurry."

Already several of the ballonets that at first sight seemed beyond
repair had been patched up, while the fortunate discovery of two flasks
of compressed brodium gave the "Golden Hind" considerable buoyancy, so
that she was no longer dependent upon the lift of her six planes.  Yet
the prospect of having to take on board the weighty Hun crew would
seriously threaten the buoyancy of the airship.

"Luckily we are within sight of our goal," said Fosterdyke.  "We can
sacrifice a quantity of our stores.  The reserve fresh water tank can be
started, too. Two hundred and fifty gallons less of water ought to make
a considerable difference."

Leading Hand Jackson, with the help of four or five of the crew, soon
made the necessary preparations.  By this time the "Golden Hind" had
approached to within a hundred yards of the disabled Zeppelin, the crew
of which, half in doubt as to what was going to happen, were signalling
and shouting frantically for help.

"Rescuing the crew of the _Hilda P. Murchison_ was child’s play to
this," commented Kenyon.  "Goodness only knows how we are going to
establish communication.  Her blessed envelope is in the way."

Thrice the "Golden Hind" sailed over her crippled rival.  The trailing
hawser glided over the rounded surface of the gasbag, but none of the
men made any attempt to leave the gondolas and secure the rope.  It
afterwards transpired that the aluminium envelope was sagging and
whipping to such an extent that the vertical shaft through it by which
access could be made to the upper surface of the gas-bag was
impracticable.  Anyone attempting to ascend by that way would almost
certainly be crushed to death.

"Can’t the lubbers see the hawser?" asked Fosterdyke, impatiently.  "Or
have they all got the wind up so frightfully that they can’t lift a hand
to help themselves? Get in that hawser, Jackson.  We’ll try approaching
to leeward this time and see if they’ve got the sense to veer a rope."

The manoeuvre required very careful execution.  The "Golden Hind,"
descending until her fuselage was but a few feet above the sea,
approached carefully.  She had to be kept under control up to a certain
point, when way had to be taken off her. If she stopped too soon, she
would drift away before communication could be established; if she
carried on even a few yards too much, there was a danger of her
overlapping envelope colliding nose on with the wrecked Zeppelin.

This time the Huns showed decided activity.  They bent a line to an
inflated indiarubber lifebelt and threw the latter into the sea.
Unfortunately, they did not take into account the fact that the Zeppelin
was drifting to leeward as fast as the lifebelt.  When they realised
what was happening one of the crew jumped overboard and towed the line a
hundred yards or so away.

"Now there’s a chance of doing something," commented Fosterdyke,
telegraphing for a touch ahead with Nos. 1 and 2 motors.

As the "Golden Hind" passed immediately over the life-buoy a grapnel,
lowered from the after-part of the fuselage, engaged the rope, and in a
remarkably short space of time a stout hawser connected the British
airship with the still buoyant bows of the German.

Fosterdyke waited until the "Golden Hind" had swung round and was
pointing "down wind," then he ordered easy ahead with the two for’ard
motors.  This gave sufficient tension to the hawser, which was now
inclined at an angle of about thirty degrees.

A "snatch-block" with an endless line was then allowed to run down to
the hawser.

"Now the rest is easy," declared Fosterdyke, but for once at least he
was greatly mistaken.

The first of the Huns arrived in a bowline on board the "Golden Hind."

"How many are there?" asked Fosterdyke.

"Ve vos dwanty," replied the German, holding up the fingers of both
hands twice in order to make his meaning clearer.

More Huns emerging from the for’ard gondola of Z64 confirmed the man’s
statement.  One was evidently an officer, but his features did not in
the least resemble those of Count von Sinzig, whose photograph had
appeared some time back in the illustrated papers.

Seventeen Huns were transhipped in about as many minutes.  The
eighteenth was half-way along the tautened hawser when Fosterdyke
shouted, "Let go!"

Leading-Hand Jackson obeyed the order instantly.  The ring of the
Senhouse slip was knocked clear, and the hawser fell with a splash into
the sea.  The "Golden Hind," released from the drag of the partly
water-logged Zeppelin, shot ahead.

She was only just in time.  The baronet had noticed a tongue of flame
issuing from the centre gondola of Z64.  How the fire was caused was a
mystery, since had the Huns wished to destroy the wreckage they would
have waited until the last man was clear of the Zeppelin.  Possibly the
wiring of the electric stove had short-circuited when in contact with
the salt water.

In less than fifteen seconds from the time the hawser had been slipped
the hydrogen escaping from the leaky ballonets was ignited.  The
aluminium gasbag was surrounded by flames.  The heat caused the gas in
the still intact ballonets to expand, affording sufficient lifting power
to heave the wreckage almost clear of the water.  The remaining Huns,
keenly alive to the terrible danger, promptly jumped into the sea.

Then with a terrific glare the remaining ballonets burst, and the
shattered wreckage, sizzling as it came into contact with the cold
water, disappeared beneath the surface, leaving a steadily widening
circle of oil surmounted by a dense pall of black smoke to mark the
scene of the end of Z64.

Before the evil-smelling vapour had dispersed the "Golden Hind," turning
head to wind, was over the spot searching for possible survivors.  For
half an hour she cruised round, but her efforts to rescue the three Huns
were unavailing.  The men had either been stunned by the explosion or
had been hit by falling wreckage. Amongst them was Unter-Leutnant Hans
Leutter, who, by resolutely refusing to leave his command until the rest
of the crew were safe, had proved that all Hun officers were not of the
von Sinzig type.

Several of the rescued Germans could speak English--but they were
decidedly reticent.  In the back of their minds they rather feared that
they were in for a bad time.  They knew that their late kapitan had been
practically outlawed and that he was "wanted" by the authorities for
having, amongst other misdemeanours, destroyed the Fremantle aerodrome
by means of an incendiary bomb.  They rather expected that they would be
blamed for the acts of their fugitive superior.

On the other hand, they were grateful to their rescuers for having saved
their lives, and with typical Teutonic reasoning they eventually decided
that one way to repay the kindness and to ingratiate themselves in the
eyes of the Englishman would be to give away their former officers.

The spokesman led off by informing Sir Reginald Fosterdyke that
Unter-Leutnant Hans Leutter was the person who dropped the incendiary
bomb from the observation basket in the hope that it would destroy the
"Golden Hind."

"He was, of course, acting under Count von Sinzig’s orders," remarked
Fosterdyke, drily.  "Where is Herr Leutter?"

"Dead," was the reply.  "He was one of the three left on Z64."

"And Count von Sinzig was one of the other two?"

The German airman shrugged his shoulders and made a gesture of disgust.
He still rankled over his kapitan’s cowardly desertion.  It was long
obvious to all the survivors of Z64 that von Sinzig had no intention of
summoning aid.  Eight hours had elapsed since he began his flight in the
Albatross.  In that time he must have sighted several vessels, since the
scene of the disaster was not many miles from one of the great Atlantic
trade routes.

"Kapitan Count von Sinzig left Z64 soon after daybreak this morning,
mein Herr," replied the German.  "At seven o’clock, to be exact."

"Left--how?" demanded Fosterdyke, sharply.

"In an Albatross monoplane.  He was last seen going east-north-east."

Fosterdyke dismissed his informant and turned to Kenyon and Bramsdean.

"The cunning old rascal!" he exclaimed. "I see his little game now.
He’s completing the final stage by aeroplane.  I suppose by this time
he’s won the Chauvasse Prize; but I don’t envy him."

"Will you enter a protest, sir?" asked Peter.

"Protest?  Not much," replied the baronet, emphatically.  "These
seventeen Huns can do the protesting if they want to, and I rather fancy
they will."

"There’s many a slip," quoted Kenyon. "He may not complete the course
after all."



CHAPTER XXIII--A DUMPING OPERATION


The heavily-laden "Golden Hind" resumed her delayed journey.  Both
gas-bags and planes had to do their full share of work to keep the
airship afloat.  She was flying low, but making good progress; but so
little was her reserve of buoyancy that had the three Huns who perished
in the catastrophe to Z64 been saved, it was doubtful whether Fosterdyke
could have "carried on."

To make matters worse, some of the patches on the repaired ballonets
were leaking, for owing to the heat of the rubber the solution was not
holding well.

"I wonder if Drake’s ’Golden Hind,’ when she arrived in the Thames after
circumnavigating the globe, was patched up like we are," remarked
Kenyon.  "It took Drake three long years to do the trick, and we look
like completing our voyage in under seventeen days."

"If the old ’bus holds out," added Bramsdean.  "’Tany rate, no one can
say we haven’t done our bit.  The ’Golden Hind’s’ been a regular sort of
aerial lifeboat. That is some satisfaction.  I’d rather we did that than
win the race."

"I suppose our passengers won’t get up to any of their Hunnish tricks?"
observed Kenneth.

"Trust Fosterdyke for that," replied Peter grimly.  "He’s had ’em placed
in the dining-saloon.  (Fortunately, we won’t require many more meals.)
They can amuse themselves there without getting into mischief.  There’s
one of our fellows stationed outside to keep the blighters in order."

Just then the baronet came upon the scene.

"Von Sinzig looks like pulling it off," he observed.  "A wireless from
the S.S. _Wontwash_ reports that a monoplane passed over the ship at 6
P.M., flying east. According to the position given, the _Wontwash_ was
only thirty-five miles west of Gibraltar."

"Then perhaps he’s back at his hangar by this time," commented Peter.
"Any news of the others?"

"Yes; Commodore Theodore Nye has been unable to get hold of another ’bus
yet, although two of the Australian R.A.F. pilots are bringing him a
’Bristol’ machine from Melbourne.  He’s out of the running.  That he
admits, but he means to complete the course, even if it takes him six
months."

"And the Jap?" asked Kenyon.

"Not a word," replied the baronet. "He’s keeping quiet; but mark my
words, that quadruplane will turn up unexpectedly. If his ’bus had had
British motors, he would have romped home in less than a week."

"What engines has he?" asked Bramsdean.

"Japanese," replied Fosterdyke.  "Passable imitations of ours and good
up to a certain point; but give me British engines all the jolly old
time."

Although the baronet made frequent enquiries of the operator, no
wireless messages concerning von Sinzig came through.

"Perhaps he’s crashed," suggested Peter.

"Not he," replied Kenyon.  "That Hun’s got the luck of a cat with nine
lives. He’s playing his own game."

"It is a game," added Bramsdean. "Loading that crowd of Huns on to us is
like a man in a mile race chucking his gear to another competitor and
telling him to hang on.  I don’t wish the blighter any harm, but I do
hope that if he pulls off the money prize they’ll pay him in German
marks at the pre-war rate of exchange. That’d make him look blue!"

Although no news came in concerning their Hun rival, the officers and
crew of the "Golden Hind" began to be bombarded with wireless messages
from Britons in every quarter of the globe.  All were of the most
encouraging nature, for the story of Fosterdyke’s airship and her
adventures and misadventures--all more or less distorted owing to the
lack of authentic detail--had awakened world-wide interest.

There were cheery messages from patriotic Britons; incentive ones from
sportsmen, to whom the suggestion of a race appealed more than did the
fact that the contest was one of endurance calculated to uphold the
prestige of British flying men.  Frenchmen, Dutchmen, Norwegians,
Americans, and Japanese all sent greetings to the intrepid British
airmen.

"Didn’t know we had so many friends," remarked Fosterdyke.
"Sportsmanlike of those Americans and Japs, too, when they have
representatives in the show."

The "Golden Hind" was now approaching the regular mail line, where
routes to and from the Cape and round the Horn unite in the
neighbourhood of Las Palmas.

"We’ll signal the first vessel we sight," decided Sir Reginald, "and get
her to relieve us of our cargo of Fritzes.  The sooner the better,
because several of the ballonets are showing distinct symptoms of
porosity."

Five minutes later the airship had slowed down and had swung round on a
course parallel to a homeward-bound Dutchman.

The skipper of the latter, when appealed to by megaphone, stoutly
refused to receive the seventeen Germans.  He gave no reason why he
should not do so, and without waiting for further parley rang for full
speed ahead.

A little later a French auxiliary barque was sighted, bound south.

Fosterdyke made no attempt to intercept her.

"There are limits," he observed. "Dumping those Huns on board an
outward-bound Frenchman is one of them. Now for the next vessel.  Three
for luck."

The third was a British tramp, bound from Montevideo for Naples.  Her
"Old Man," although ignorant that a Round-the-World aerial race was in
progress or even in contemplation, readily agreed to help the "Golden
Hind" on her way.

"I’ll find use for ’em," he added with infinite relish.  "They’ll work
their passage, never you fear.  Three times I’ve been torpedoed without
warning, and on two occasions Fritz popped up to jeer at us struggling
in waterlogged boats."

While conversation was in progress between Fosterdyke and the master of
the S.S. _Diaphanous_, a wire hawser had been lowered from the bows of
the airship and made fast to the tramp’s after-winch. Since she was
steaming dead in the eye of the wind there was no necessity for her to
alter helm.  The "Golden Hind," pitching slightly, was towed astern of
and thirty feet above the tramp.  As the airship’s course was almost
identical with that of the tramp Fosterdyke conscientiously kept the
propellers revolving, since, even in the present circumstances, he did
not wish to give his rivals a chance of raising a protest on the score
that the flight of the British airship had been mechanically aided.

The seventeen Germans showed no great enthusiasm at being placed on
board the tramp.  At first they imagined that the _Diaphanous_ was bound
for the Pacific. Even the prospect of being dumped ashore at Naples was
not at all attractive.

When they did make a move they descended the rope-ladder so slowly and
deliberately that it was obvious they meant to detain the "Golden Hind"
as much as possible.

"I see through their little game," exclaimed Fosterdyke, angrily.  "Make
’em get a move on, Jackson."

The Leading Hand wanted no further bidding.  Ably seconded by Chief Air
Mechanic Hayward, he gave vent to such a flow of forcible language,
accompanied by realistic dumbshow, that the Huns changed their tactics
completely.  It was even necessary to check their impetuosity, lest the
ladder should break under the weight of too many men descending
simultaneously. Then, with a joyous toot on her syren as the hawser was
cast off, and a stentorian greeting from the Mercantile Marine skipper,
the _Diaphanous_ gathered way, while the "Golden Hind," almost as
buoyant as of yore, rose steadily and rapidly against the gentle breeze.

Two hours later land--the Moroccan coast--was sighted on the starboard
bow. Then fifty minutes later Fosterdyke touched Kenyon on the shoulder
and pointed dead ahead to a faint object rising above the horizon.

"Guess we’ve done the trick, barring accidents," he observed.  "That’s
Gibraltar."



CHAPTER XXIV--WITHIN SIGHT OF SUCCESS


Count Karl von Sinzig had not started upon his long solo flight in the
Albatross without studiously calculating his chances.  He knew the
machine and its capabilities, and, given ordinary luck, he saw no reason
why he should not make a landing on Spanish soil, replenish fuel, and
carry on to his hangar in Estremadura before his hated rival arrived at
Gibraltar. Even if there were delays in obtaining petrol, he still had a
useful lead, thanks to his twelve hours’ start in advance of the "Golden
Hind."  The two hundred extra miles he had to cover beyond Gibraltar was
a mere bagatelle--a question of an hour and twenty minutes’ flight.

He rather regretted that the accident to Z64 had not occurred nearer the
African coast; but realising that he was lucky to be able to carry on,
he ran the risk of a prolonged flight over the sea with comparative
equanimity.

Within an hour of leaving the wrecked Zeppelin he sighted two vessels,
but with callous indifference to his promise to his crew he made not the
slightest attempt to communicate with either of them.  He was "all out"
to win the much-needed Chauvasse Prize.  Even his indictment by the
various Allied Governments hardly worried him.  Time to consider what he
should do in the matter when he was safe on Spanish soil, he decided.

The Albatross, one of the best types of German machines, was practically
an automatic flier.  Von Sinzig could keep her on her course by an
occasional pressure with his feet upon the rudder-bar, thus leaving both
hands free.  He was able to eat and drink, to study maps and make
observations without risk of the monoplane getting out of control, while
if needs be he could leave the pilot’s seat, knowing that the Albatross
would hold on automatically for several minutes with only a slight
deviation in direction and hardly any difference in altitude.

Although only ten degrees north of the Tropics, it was bitterly cold at
ten thousand feet; but the count had taken due precautions to combat the
low temperature. He was warmly clad in orthodox flying kit, including
sheepskin boots, fleece-lined leather jacket and trousers, all
electrically heated.  He had four thermos flasks filled with hot coffee
and a pocket flask of brandy.  For provisions he carried concentrated
food, beef lozenges, and Strasburg sausages.

Hour after hour passed.  The Albatross was flying magnificently, her
pilot holding on to a compass course, after making due allowances for
the "drift" of the air current.  He had based this allowance upon the
direction of the wind when he left Z64; but unknown to him the light
breeze had shifted eight points and was now blowing slightly ahead of
his port beam.  Then, having backed, it presently veered six points and
blew with increasing force right against the Albatross; but von Sinzig
was for the present in ignorance of the fact.  Had he known that instead
of a following breeze of about twenty miles an hour there was a head
wind approaching the neighbourhood of thirty-five miles, he would not
have been so chock-a-block with confidence.

When, at the end of the time limit he had set, he was not in sight of
land he began to feel anxious.  Half an hour later, as he was still
without a glimpse of the coast, his misgivings increased, but ten
minutes later he picked up land on his right. This was a puzzle.  He had
expected to make a landfall right ahead, and its appearance in an
unexpected quarter mystified him.  In point of fact he was in the
neighbourhood of Cape Blanco, or nearly 250 miles south of Cape St.
Vincent, where he hoped to pass over on his way to Estremadura.

A knowledge of the Moroccan coast obtained during a cruise in a German
gunboat at the time of the Agadir crisis stood von Sinzig in good stead.
He was able to recognise certain landmarks in spite of viewing them from
a different aspect, and accordingly he turned the monoplane in a
north-easterly direction, keeping parallel to the African coast, The new
direction would take him a little to the eastward of Cadiz; rather
nearer that port than Gibraltar.  He had not the slightest inclination
to fly over the latter fortress.  Rather vaguely he wondered whether he
would sight the "Golden Hind" making thither, since, sooner or later,
unless a mishap occurred, the rival aviators must cut each other’s
routes.

He was now painfully aware of the change of wind.  The direction of the
smoke from several steamers, and the sight of a full-rigged ship running
in a south-westerly direction told him that. Additionally, as he saw by
the aid of his binoculars, that sailing ship was running under topsails
only.  That meant something more than a stiff breeze--and against this
he had to contend.

Suddenly he detected an ominous cough of the motor.  He knew that the
petrol supply was running low, but he had no idea that the gauge
registered so little. The tank was practically empty.

"Himmel!" gasped the dumfounded Hun.  "Will she last out?"

He mentally measured the distance between him and the Spanish coast.  A
good ten miles.  With a following wind he could glide that distance from
that altitude, but not with this infernal head wind!

The engine was running jerkily.  Clearly its spasmodic coughing
betokened the fact that it would soon cease duty from sheer inanition.
Its life-blood was being cut off at the heart of the machine--its petrol
tank. That head wind.  How von Sinzig cursed it!  Had it been in his
favour, even if he failed to volplane as far as the shore, the
Albatross, being provided with floats, could have drifted on the
surface.

In the midst of his incoherent utterances von Sinzig realised that the
motor had at last given out.  He trimmed the ailerons and prepared for a
long glide, but, as he had feared, the head wind made it a matter of
impossibility for the Albatross to cover more than two miles before she
alighted.

It did not take long to complete the volplane, although the pilot nursed
his machine to the best of his ability in the hope of prolonging the
oblique descent.

The Albatross "landed" badly, her floats striking the water with a
resounding smack.  The count, having done his best, could do no more.
He sat smoking a cigarette and keeping a look out for a vessel that
would come to his assistance. There were several away to the south’ard,
for he had alighted well to the north’ard of the regular steamer track
between Gibraltar and Cape St. Vincent.  They were too far off to notice
the little Albatross.

Then von Sinzig made the disconcerting discovery that the starboard
float was leaking.  Already, owing to this cause, the monoplane was
listing so that her starboard wing-tip was touching the water. This
fact, combined with the knowledge that he was momentarily drifting
farther and farther away from land, did not tend to improve the Hun’s
peace of mind.

Half an hour later, during which time the monoplane had drifted at least
three miles, and was being considerably buffeted by the rising sea, von
Sinzig noticed that a vessel was bearing down upon the crippled
Albatross.

As she approached, the count saw that she was a small motor-yacht of
about forty or fifty tons, and that she was flying the burgee of the
"Real Club Mediterraneo" and the Spanish ensign.  The sight of the
Spanish colours gave von Sinzig renewed hope.

The yacht slowed down and lost way a few yards to the wind’ard of the
monoplane.  For so small a vessel she carried a large crew.  There were
half a dozen men for’ard, clad in white canvas jumpers and trousers and
wearing red woollen caps.  Aft were two gorgeously attired individuals
in gold-laced yachting uniforms.

Von Sinzig, who was a fair Spanish linguist, hailed them.  A rope thrown
from the bows of the yacht fell across the nose of the Albatross.  This
the count caught and secured.

"Can you supply me with petrol, señor?" asked von Sinzig.  "My tank is
empty. A hundred litres will be enough."

One of the gold-laced men shook his head and extended his hands, palms
uppermost.

"I am desolated at being compelled to refuse your excellency’s modest
request," he replied, "but we have paraffin engines and carry only a
small quantity of petrol for starting purposes.  How far have you come?"

"Nearly round the world," replied the Hun, grandiloquently.  He could
not resist the typically Teutonic trait of self-advertisement.

"Dios!" exclaimed the Spaniard, twirling his long moustachios.  "Then
you are Count Karl von Sinzig, who left Quintanur, in the province of
Estremadura, sixteen or seventeen days ago?"

"I am," admitted von Sinzig, proudly.

The Spaniard said a few words in an undertone to his companion.  The
other’s eyes gleamed and he nodded his head vigorously.

"We will take you on board and tow your machine," announced the owner of
the yacht.

"To Cadiz or Huelva?" asked the count.

"Accept ten thousand regrets, count," replied the Spaniard.  "We must
take you to Gibraltar."

"But I have no wish to be taken to Gibraltar," declared von Sinzig.  "I
will give a thousand pesetas to be landed at Cadiz."

The Don again shrugged his shoulders.

"No doubt my crew would be glad of your offer of a thousand pesetas,
count," he replied, "but since they know that the English have offered a
reward equal to five thousand pesetas----"

"You would sell me?" demanded von Sinzig, furiously.

"I sell you, señor?  Not I--a caballero of Spain!  You insult me by the
suggestion. I recollect, however, that I once had a brother.  He was
lost at sea, while travelling on an English vessel from New York to
Cadiz.  Like you, he wanted to land at Cadiz, but he was not able to do
so.  For why?  Because the ship was torpedoed by one of your
ever-accursed U-boats.  Therefore I have a small measure of revenge when
I hand you over to the English authorities at Gibraltar.  Be pleased,
señor, to step aboard."

Covered by an automatic pistol, Count Karl von Sinzig had no option but
to obey. In the race round the world he was down and out.



CHAPTER XXV--FIRE!


Sir Reginald Fosterdyke laid down his pencil and uttered an exclamation
of intense satisfaction.  He had just "shot the sun" and had finished
working out his position.

"Another hour will see us at Gib., lads," he announced joyously.  "Then
there’ll be some mafficking.  What’s your programme?  Going to pack your
suit cases and back by the Madrid-Paris express?"

"You are not leaving the ’Golden Hind’ at Gibraltar?" asked Kenneth.

"No," replied the baronet.  "But I must certainly get some repairs
executed before I resume my flight to England.  I thought, perhaps, you
were in a hurry to get home."

"There’s no immediate hurry, sir," declared the chums, simultaneously.

"A few more days won’t matter," began Kenyon; but before he could
proceed with his explanation the alarm bell rang violently and
continuously.

"What’s wrong now?" exclaimed Fosterdyke, snatching up the voice tube.

Peter, glancing aft through the window of the navigation-room, which
being raised gave a clear view over the roof of the rest of the nacelle,
saw at once what was amiss.

Dense volumes of smoke, tinged with dull red flames, were pouring from
the after-end of the fuselage.  Fanned by the rush of the airship, the
black vapour was streaming in its wake like a fox’s tail.

Leaving Kenyon to take charge of the navigation-room, and cautioning him
to keep the "Golden Hind" dead in the eye of the wind, and as fast as
she could possibly go, Fosterdyke and Peter hastened aft.

They found the alley-way thick with smoke, for on the well-known
principle that "the wind follows the ship" the draught was carrying the
fumes within the nacelle in a forward direction.

A man wearing a smoke helmet brushed past them.  It was Hayward going to
find some fire-extinguishers.  Others of the crew, who had hastily
donned masks to protect themselves from the choking vapour, were busily
engaged in hurling pyrene into the seat of the conflagration.

Although the speed of the "Golden Hind" through the air fanned the
flames, Fosterdyke had done well to order speed to be maintained.  The
velocity had the effect of compelling the fire to trail astern instead
of spreading upwards and thus destroying the envelope.  Even as it was
the heat had caused the non-inflammable brodium to expand, giving the
envelope a tendency to trim down by the head.

"Petrol tank to No. 5 motor, sir," reported a grimy and perspiring
mechanic, who through sheer exhaustion and being partly gassed by the
noxious fumes had to withdraw from the fray.  "Went up all of a sudden,
like.  Never saw such a flare up in all my life, sir; but we’re getting
it under."

It was indeed a stiff fight.  In a few seconds the area of the fire had
attained such large dimensions that it was impossible to reach the
actual source.  The fire-fighters had first to subdue the fringe of the
conflagration, and by the time they had done this several of them were
_hors de combat_ by reason of the suffocating gases thrown off by the
oxygen-exterminating pyrene.  Above the crackling of the flames came the
sharp tang of the suspension wires holding the nacelle to the aluminium
envelope as they parted under the terrific heat.

Not only were the crew faced with the danger of the fire getting the
upper hand; the while there was the chance of a portion of the fuselage
becoming detached from the gas-bag, and the prospect of being hurled
through space from a height of eight or nine thousand feet above the sea
was one that might well in cold blood put fear into the heart of the
bravest of the brave.  But in the heat of action the crew, knowing the
danger, faced the risk manfully.  Working in relays, they plied the
flames with the fire-extinguishing chemicals.  As fast as one man fell
out, temporarily overcome by the fumes and the terrific heat, another
took his place until the fire was overcome. Even then the danger was not
over.  There was still a possibility of the smouldering fuselage being
fanned into a blaze.  Parts of the aluminium framework and panelling
were warped and twisted into fantastic shapes.  Snake-like coils of wire
indicated the fact that several of the highly important connections
between the fuselage and the envelope had been burnt through. Whether a
sufficient number of tension wires remained to adequately support the
afterpart of the nacelle remained a matter of doubt.

Unaccountably the petrol tank feeding No. 5 motor had taken fire.  The
pipes and unions had been frequently examined and found to be in good
order.  In fact, Hayward had personally inspected the fittings of that
particular tank less than a quarter of an hour before the outbreak.

The damage was serious.  Both Nos. 5 and 6 motors were out of action,
the former showing signs of crashing through the charred framework of
the fuselage.  The flames had spread to Fosterdyke’s cabin, completely
gutting it.  Only a few aluminium frames were left, and these, blackened
and bent, trailed forlornly astern like a gaunt skeleton.

With the contraction of the brodium after the fire had been quelled the
envelope, instead of tending to tilt aft, now showed a tendency to
droop.  The heat had melted the solder of the union pipes through which
the gas was passed either to or from the metal pressure flasks, and
several thousand feet of brodium had escaped.

Driven only by four propellers, her preciously scanty supply of brodium
sadly depleted, and with the controls of the two after planes damaged by
the flames, the "Golden Hind" was in a perilous state. She was just
able, and no more, to overcome the attraction of gravity.  How long she
would be able to maintain herself in the air was a problem of
supposition.

Had the "Golden Hind" been supported by hydrogen gas nothing could have
saved her.  The overcoming of the flames was a triumph for the
fire-resisting properties of brodium.  The patent gas had been put to
one of the severest tests--an actual fire in mid-air--and had emerged
with flying colours.

From the time of the alarm being raised until the fire was subdued only
half an hour had elapsed.  The smoke-grimed and fatigued crew were glad
to rest, while Fosterdyke and Peter returned to the navigation-room,
there to wash and replace their singed and reeking clothes with others
from Kenyon’s and Bramsdean’s kit-bags. The baronet had to borrow a
suit.  The one he was wearing was in holes, while all his others on
board were destroyed when his cabin was burnt out.

Fosterdyke was cheerful.  In fact he was jocular.  He realised that
things might have been far worse; he was glad to find that the "Golden
Hind" was still navigable and that none of his crew had sustained
injury.

"This comes of boasting, Kenyon," he remarked.  "I said we’d be in Gib.
in an hour.  We stood a chance of being in ’Kingdom Come.’  What’s she
doing now?"

"Not more than eighty, sir," replied Kenneth, "and we’ve a stiffish wind
to contend with."

"Eighty, eh?  Not so dusty, considering we’re trailing the wreckage of
my cabin astern, and there’s only four props to shove us along.  She’s
dipping, though."

"She is, sir," agreed Kenyon, gravely. "I’ve trimmed the planes to their
maximum.  That tends to shove her nose up, but if I didn’t she’d sit on
her tail."

"We’ll finish at the tape like an aerial Cleopatra’s Needle," declared
Fosterdyke. "Hello!  There’s Tangier.  That strip of blue you can just
see beyond is the Straits of Gibraltar.  We’re a bit to the east’ard of
our course."

Another half an hour of strenuous battling against heavy odds brought
the "Golden Hind" immediately to the west of Ceuta.  Ahead could be
discerned the famous rock, although viewed from an altitude and "end on"
its well-known appearance as a lion couchant was absent. But the "Golden
Hind" had shot her bolt. "We’re baulked at the tape," declared
Fosterdyke.  "This head wind’s doing us. Hard lines, but we must take
things as we find them."

Like von Sinzig he had been beaten by the head wind, but Fosterdyke,
instead of raving and cursing like his German rival, accepted the
situation philosophically.  It was hard lines, failing within sight of
the goal; but the baronet kept a stiff upper lip. He had done everything
humanly possible to achieve his aim.  He could do no more.

The "Golden Hind," inclined at an angle of sixty degrees, was dropping
slowly but surely.  With her remaining motors running all out she was
unable to overcome the pull of gravity.  Even as she dropped, her
progress towards her goal was maintained at a rate of a bare five miles
an hour above and against that of the wind.

Every man on board was holding on like grim death.  With the floor as
steep as the roof of a house there was nothing to be done but hold on.
The ballonets were practically empty save the four or five for’ard ones.
The propellers were now virtually helices--whirling screws that strove
valiantly but unavailingly to lift the huge bulk of the airship in an
almost vertical direction.  Should the motors fail to function, then the
"Golden Hind" would drop like a stone.  As it was she was falling surely
and slowly.

Already officers and men had donned their inflated indiarubber
lifebelts.  There was not the slightest sign of panic.  The men,
although keenly disappointed at failure within sight of success, were
joking with each other.

"Stand by to jump, all hands," shouted Fosterdyke.  "Keep clear of the
raffle, and you’ll be as right as rain.  There are half a dozen vessels
within a couple of miles of us."

Some of the men slid along the sloping alley-way to the side doors.
Others tore away the large celluloid windows in the cabins and
motor-rooms, so as to be able to jump clear directly the fuselage
touched the water.

The two chums had drawn themselves through the windows of the
navigation-room and were standing on the blunt bows and steadying
themselves by the tension wires running from the normal top of the
nacelle to the underside of the envelope.

With the four motors running to the last the "Golden Hind" dropped into
the sea.  Her projecting envelope was the first to come into contact
with the water.  The ballonets, practically air-tight compartments,
checked the downward movement, while the whole of the hitherto inclined
bulk, pivoted as it were by the water-borne stern, dropped until it
resumed its normal horizontal position.

Fosterdyke alone had remained in the navigation-room.  Directly he saw
that the airship was resting temporarily on the surface and was
beginning to gather way like a gigantic hydroplane he switched off the
remaining motors.

"Every man for himself," he shouted.



CHAPTER XXVI--"WELL PLAYED, SIR!"


Water poured into the open doors and windows and through the charred and
torn stern of the nacelle.

The aluminium envelope, not built to withstand abnormal stress, began
buckling amidships.  Tension wires, no longer in tension but in
compression, were spreading in all directions as the huge gas-bag
settled down upon the already foundering nacelle.

Every one of the crew realised the danger of being entangled in the
wreckage.  In a trice the water was dotted with heads and shoulders of
life-belted swimmers as the crew struck out to get clear of the sinking
airship, and presently Fosterdyke was surrounded by a little mob of
undaunted men.

"Thank heaven!" ejaculated the baronet, after a hasty count.  "None
missing. Keep together, lads, there’s a vessel bearing down on us."

Not one but four craft were hastening to the rescue.  Amongst these was
the T.B.D. _Zeebrugge_, which, eighteen days previously, had gone to
search for the derelict "Golden Hind" and had placed Sir Reginald
Fosterdyke on board.

Fortunately the water was warm, and in spite of a fairly high sea
running the late crew of the "Golden Hind" were taken aboard the
destroyer.

Fosterdyke and the others, declining to go below, stood on deck and
watched the end of the airship that had taken them safely for nearly
twenty-eight thousand miles, to perish within five miles of the Rock of
Gibraltar, her official starting-point.

The end was not long delayed.  The buckling of the aluminium envelope
resulted in ballonet after ballonet collapsing under the pressure of
water.  The fuselage had already disappeared.  Bow and stern, nearly
four hundred feet apart, reared themselves high in the air; then, with a
terrific rush of mingled brodium and air that caused a seething cauldron
around each of the extremities of the envelope, the last of the "Golden
Hind" sank beneath the waves.

"Rough luck losing such a fine airship," commiserated the
Lieut.-Commander of the destroyer.

"It is," agreed Fosterdyke, feelingly. "Especially as she is my own
design and I superintended every bit of her construction.  It was a
pity, too, we didn’t hang on for another half an hour.  I’d have
jockeyed her over the Rock somehow."

"It was a brilliant achievement, Sir Reginald," said the naval officer.
"Every sportsman will sympathise with you, but I’m sure they’ll shout:
’Well played, sir!’"

"Any news of the other competitors?" asked Peter.

"Yes.  Commodore Nye, the Yankee, is still stranded in Australia, but I
suppose you know that.  Count Hyashi, the Jap, crashed somewhere near
Saigon.  He, too, was almost home."

"Jolly hard lines," murmured Kenyon, sympathetically.  "Was he hurt?"

"No, hardly bruised, but a bit shaken. Engine failure, they say,"
continued the Lieut.-Commander.  "That leaves only the Hun to be
accounted for."

"And I suppose he’s completed the circuit?" remarked Fosterdyke,
questioningly.

The naval officer laughed.

"Completing the circuit of a prison-yard!" he exclaimed.  "That’s about
his mark.  A Spanish yacht brought Count von Sinzig in this morning and
handed him over to the Port Admiral.  It’ll be a three years’ job, I
fancy.  Huns must learn that they can’t bomb British air stations in
peace time with impunity."

The destroyer ran alongside the dockyard.  Fosterdyke and the rest of
his crew disembarked.  On the jetty they were met by several of the
chief Naval, Military, and Air Force officials and two representatives
of the International Air Board.

Fosterdyke looked puzzled.  He didn’t want commiseration, but
congratulation seemed a bit out of place.

"On what grounds, Admiral?" he asked.

"On winning the Chauvasse Prize for completing the circumnavigation of
the globe," replied the senior International Air Board representative,
speaking instead of the Port Admiral.  "Fact!  You’ve won it fairly and
squarely."

"But----" began the astonished baronet.

"You have," persisted the official.  "Do you recollect when the airship
broke adrift? The destroyer went in pursuit and put you on board.  That
was within three miles or so of Ceuta.  The same destroyer picks you up
out of the water five miles from ’Gib.’  Consequently, you’ve more than
completed the circuit, and although the official start was from
Gibraltar I don’t think there will be any difficulty in obtaining the
International Air Board’s decision to the effect that you’ve won."

And that was exactly what happened. Had it not been for Count von
Sinzig’s underhand work in employing Enrico Jaures to cast adrift the
"Golden Hind," Fosterdyke would not have completed his aerial voyage
round the world.  By the irony of fate the Hun had enabled his rival to
score.

Fosterdyke won the Chauvasse Prize and the honour of being the first man
to fly round the world.  Needless to say Kenyon and Bramsdean and the
rest of the crew were not forgotten.  Honours were heaped upon the
intrepid airmen.  They were lionised, fêted, and praised to such an
extent that they were in danger of developing "swelled heads."

But Kenyon and Bramsdean knew that the achievement would be but a nine
days’ wonder.  Having attempted and won, they were content to return to
their profession, their financial standing much increased by their
shares in the big prize.  They had enough honours and diplomas to
satisfy them, but what they prized most was a certificate from the Royal
Humane Society for saving the crew of the _Hilda P. Murchison_.

"So, after all," declared Kenyon, "we did do something useful, old son!"



                      PRINTED BY PURNELL AND SONS
                     PAULTON (SOMERSET) AND LONDON





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