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Title: Wings over England
Author: Snell, Roy J. (Roy Judson)
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
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.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Wings over England" ***

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                             OVER ENGLAND_

                              ROY J. SNELL

                     _Eight Full Page Illustrations
                             GLEN SHEFFER_

                      THE GOLDSMITH PUBLISHING CO.
                          CHICAGO    NEW YORK

                          _Copyright 1941, by
                        M. A. Donohue & Company_
               _Printed in the United States of America_


  I. Cherry                                                            1
  II. Catbirds and Hawk                                               11
  III. Dolls and Nazis                                                17
  IV. Hans Schlitz                                                    25
  V. The young Lord                                                   34
  VI. Lady Spies                                                      44
  VII. Enemy Sighted                                                  57
  VIII. Roll Out the Barrel                                           67
  IX. The Hideout                                                     80
  X. First Blood                                                      91
  XI. Cobbler or Spy?                                                105
  XII. “The House Is Gone”                                           113
  XIII. Lull Before the Storm                                        123
  XIV. A Dungeon Night                                               131
  XV. Until the Very End                                             144
  XVI. Fiddlin’ Johnny                                               152
  XVII. Playing War                                                  166
  XVIII. Dave’s Strange Craft                                        175
  XIX. Thrilling Sky Drama                                           182
  XX. Dave Comes Marching Home                                       188
  XXI. The Lark Defends His Home Town                                194
  XXII. Roll Out the Barrel                                          203
  XXIII. Victory                                                     213
  XXIV. Searchers of the Sea                                         218
  XXV. The Rescue                                                    229


  That Was a Capital Stroke, Dave                         _Frontispiece_
  We Do Have a Spy                                                    49
  Everybody Sing                                                      77
  Tat-tat-tat—Down Goes Hun                                           99
  Only Three Walls Remained                                          117
  The Dog Had Found the Fugitive                                     135
  Shots Tore Into His Right Wing                                     161
  Alice—Alice—I Know Your Voice                                      233

                              _Chapter_ I

It was one of those rare autumn days in England. The sky was blue as
blue. The trees cast dark shadows across the hillside. The sheep
wandered contentedly along the slope. To Cherry Ramsey, for one full
moment it seemed that nothing could possibly be wrong with the world.

Then with a sudden light spring she shot from her sunny corner to scan
the sky and to exclaim softly to the collie at her feet:

“Flash old boy, it’s an airplane. Perhaps it’s a bomb-bomber.” That last
word always choked her. How she hated those Nazi marauders! No, all was
not right with the world! Perhaps it never would be again for a long,
long time!

“But Flash old boy,” there was hot fire in her voice, “we must all do
our best and trust God. That’s what mother always says, and she’s nearly
always right.”

Flash, the splendid golden collie, stood up, appeared to listen, then
whined as if he had truly understood. And who will say he did not?

For one more full moment the scene remained just as it had been. In the
foreground were low hills and sheep feeding. Beyond that lay a level
field where two grown youths in their late teens bent over their task of
harvesting Brussels sprouts. Beyond all this were trees and barns—a farm
home,—Cherry’s own home.

As she stood there, lips parted, ears straining in their attempt to
build up a mental picture of the rapidly approaching airplane, she saw
the two boys straighten up, then gaze skyward.

“Ah! They hear it!” she whispered. Then she tried with a sudden flash of
the imagination to picture the thoughts running through the minds at
that moment of those strangely different boys. The plane proved to be a
German bomber.

Then suddenly her heart stood still. The plane had come zooming out from
behind the nearby hills, and in a flash she had caught sight of the
hated cross on the right of the plane, the swastika on its tail.

At that same instant the taller of the two boys turned to his companion
to say:

“I suppose that’s what you call a bomber?” His was the sharp, brisk
accent of a Midwest American.

“Not precisely that,” was the slow drawling reply of his typically
English companion. “It’s a Messerschmitt 110, I’d say. They do use them
for daylight bombing. But that plane is really a fighter. The best the
Jerries have. If our boys go after one of them when it flies over to do
a little bombing, it lays eggs and puts off at a fearful rate, or turns
in for a scrap.

“And I say!” his voice rose, “There’ll be a scrap! There’s a Spitfire
after her. Good old Spitfire! Go after ’em, old boy! Here we are, with a
ringside seat!” He dropped back to take his place on a bag of Brussels
sprouts. The tall, dark, curly-haired American youth stood where he was,
watching the two planes. His eyes were wide with excitement and wonder.
This was but his third day in England. Until this moment he had seen
nothing of the war. Even now, with the peace of open country all about
him, it did not seem possible that those two silver ships up there in
the sky would really fight an air duel, that men might come hurtling
down from out the sky to a terrible crushing death.

An exclamation from his companion brought him back to reality.

“Oh! I say!” came in sharp, rising tones. “There’s another of our
fighters! Now there’ll surely be a scrap! That Messerschmitt can’t
escape both of them! That,” he said with a sudden intake of breath, “is
one of your American fighters. It’s called a Tomahawk.”

“Are they good?” Dave asked, his eyes still on the sky.

“Good!” Brand exploded, “Of course they’re good! Air cooled engine. Do
350 per hour. And can they climb! Practically straight up! It’s going to
be grand!” he exclaimed, his eyes glued upon the spot where the three
planes were circling. “They’ll do that old Messerschmitt in before you
can say Jack Robinson.”

“They should. Two to one,” Dave Barnes, the other boy spoke slowly, no
sarcasm in his voice, only cool appraisal. He was an American. This was
not his war. For him this was but a ringside seat to something rather

The lips of the English boy, Brandon Ramsey, drew into a tense white
line. This _was_ his war. Perhaps he knew the men in those one-seated
fighters. He could not be sure of that, but there was an airbase for
fighters not three miles from his home. He knew nearly all the fliers.
As for the enemy plane, why was it here? To drop bombs on defenseless
villagers, or to spy out targets for some other plane that carried tons
of explosives. Who could say?

“Two to one.” His was not a happy laugh. “There are three men in that
Messerschmitt. They’re in an armored cabin. Our boys are right out there
in the open.” There was a touch of anger in his voice.

“I—I’m sorry,” Dave murmured, brushing a hand before his eyes. “I’ve
been in England for so short a time. Guess I don’t see things your way
just yet.”

“That’s all right,” was the prompt and generous response. Brand gave
Dave’s knee a slap. “You’ll pick it up fast. That is,” he added, “if
that Messerschmitt isn’t still carrying its bombs and if he doesn’t land
one of them right on us.”

“Why would he do that?” The American boy’s eyes opened wide.

“Lighten his load. Besides, a bullet might strike a bomb. Then whew!
He’d fly into a thousand pieces. He—”

The English boy stopped suddenly, for at that instant there came a
sput—sput—sput from the sky.

“They’re at it!” Dave’s voice was low and tense.

The burst of fire which was short and sharp had come from the Spitfire.

“Short, broadside,” Brand explained. “You can’t do much with a
broadside. Other plane’s going too fast. They’re out of range, just like
that. They—

“Look!” he exclaimed in a voice tense with emotion. “The Tomahawk is
going after that plane from behind! He—

“Nope.” He let loose a low hiss of disgust.

“He’s gone into a power dive.”

It was true. All the planes had been high, perhaps up 15,000 feet. Now
the Messerschmitt slipped into a dive that took it half the distance to
earth. The American boy was ready to dodge and run for it when just as
suddenly as it had gone into the dive the Nazi plane came out of it to
level off just above the farm home.

“Look!” Brand gripped his companion’s arm hard. “He’s dropped a bomb!”

Terror stricken, fascinated, white-hot with anger, the English boy
watched a silver spot against the dark blue sky go down—down—down.

And on the hillside, far above her home, tall, slender, beautiful
twenty-year old Cherry Ramsey, with the color gone from her cheeks, also
watched the terrifying missile speed from the sky.

“Where will it strike?” Her alert mind registered the question her lips
did not speak, while her eyes took in the house, the barn, the
out-buildings, the orchard—every spot dear to her childhood.

And then the silence of the countryside was torn by a sudden burst of
sound that made the very hills tremble.

For one full moment while the trio on the hillside kept their places,
breathless, expectant, a cloud of dust and smoke obscured the view.

During this moment Cherry became conscious of the dog that lay whining
at her feet. Bending low, she patted his sleek head. “Yes, I know it’s
terrible,” she soothed. “You don’t like it. We don’t either. But we all
must endure it for England’s sake.”

As if he understood, the dog nestled silently at her feet.

The smoke cleared. The girl sighed with relief. The bomb had fallen in
the orchard. A single apple tree, one of the early pippins, had been
uprooted. A slight loss. The tree was quite old.

And then with a shock it came to her that everything—the house, the
barn, the dovecotes,—all about the place was old, old and very dear.

Then again her lips parted in sudden fright, for a second silver spot,
larger than the first, had appeared against the sky. Watching its swift
descent, she grabbed at her painfully beating heart. At first it seemed
that it must fall upon the house. “Alice is there,” her reeling brain
registered the thought. Then came a sense of relief. The house would be
spared. Then it was to be the barn where two fine colts were housed that
would receive the full force of the blow.

“No,” she sighed. “Farther up the hill.”

The bomb fell not ten feet from a small square building. Like a tree,
uprooted by the blast, this tiny house leapt high in air, then
collapsing, crashed to earth. At the same instant dust and smoke
concealed all.

As if struck a blow from behind, the girl leapt forward, stood there
tense, motionless for a period of seconds, then disregarding the loyal
collie whining at her heels, went dashing down the hill.

The apparently insignificant building had once been a smoke-house.
Perhaps that had been fifty years before. When Cherry was a child it had
been converted into a playhouse. There, hours on end, she and her sister
Alice had played with their dolls and at keeping house. They, to be sure
had abandoned both dolls and playhouse long ago. But from time to time
other children had come to live on the Ramsey Farm. Both playhouse and
dolls had been theirs. At this moment two cute children, Tillie and
Peggy, from the London slums, were staying at the Ramsey Farm. This old
smoke-house was their favorite haunt. As Cherry sped down the hill
allowing herself not one glance at the brightening sky, she dared not
ask the question that haunted her terror-stricken mind. “Oh, God!” she
whispered, “It can’t be true!”

                              _Chapter_ II
                           Catbirds and Hawk

From the spot where Dave and Brand stood the ancient playhouse could not
be seen. That tragedy might have befallen some member of their household
they did not so much as dream. Enough that by some miracle the house and
barns had been spared and that the hated enemy plane, having delivered
its load, was now speeding away.

But not so fast. The speedy British Spitfire had made a broad circle and
was prepared to meet the enemy head on.

As Brand Ramsey stood stiffly at attention, watching every move of those
fighting planes, his fingers clenched and unclenched nervously. Not so
his American companion. Standing at ease, smiling a little, his lips
parted, he might have been at a tennis match.

How often, during his early days on an American farm this boy, Dave
Barnes, had watched a fight between two catbirds and a hawk. How
insignificant the catbirds had appeared, how terrifying, with curved
beak and needle-like claws, the hawk. And yet how often, quite
disheartened, the gray intruder had soared away. In the fight being
fought above them now he saw the battle of catbirds and hawk. Which
would win? His sympathies had ever been with the catbirds. It was so
now. And yet he whispered to himself, “It’s not my war.”

His war or no, he followed every move of those birdlike things that
whirling, zooming, dipping, soaring, appeared at any moment ready to
crash head on and burst into flames.

Now the Spitfire was beneath the enemy, coming up. Now! Oh! Now! The boy
drew a deep breath. Now the Spitfire was on the Messerschmitt’s tail.
“Now!” he breathed.

Once more a sharp exclamation escaped his lips, for banking sharply, the
enemy slid out of the trap. At that instant, with tail to the enemy, the
Tomahawk was doing a broad circle to re-enter the scrap.

“Oh! Oh! Watch out!” Brand, the English boy shouted, as if he could call
a warning to the pilot in the American plane. The Messerschmitt had
turned the tables and was at the Tomahawk’s back. Brand wanted to stop
his ears from the rat—tat—tat that he knew must come. Instead, he stood
there mute, staring with all his might.

And then it came, a ripping, tearing burst of sound, as if the very sky
was being torn to shreds.

“He—he got him!” Brand’s lips went white as the Tomahawk, after banking
so sharply it seemed to stand on its right wing, went into a spin.

Only then did the American boy realize to the full that this was a
battle, not a show affair that these were men and planes, not birds, and
that the brave fellow in that spinning airplane was apparently about to
be beaten to a pulp on the cruel earth of the hillside. Instinctively he
closed his eyes and began to count,—“One—two—three.” Thirty seconds, he
thought, then all will be over.

He had counted only to fifteen when a sharp cry—“Hooray!” sent his eyes
wide open again.

“He—he came out of it!” Brand exulted with a wild wave of his arms.

It was true. The apparently doomed pilot had somehow pulled his plane
out of that fateful spin. What was more, he was not leaving the field.
Instead, he was once again climbing rapidly.

“Look!” Brand exclaimed. “That Messerschmitt has had enough! She’s
climbing! She’s afraid of that Tomahawk. Thinks she can outclimb him.
The Tomahawk’s motor is not so good at dizzy heights. But, boy! How they
can climb! Half a mile a minute!”

They were climbing now, all three planes. The enemy plane had the lead
by many hundreds of feet. First after her came the Spitfire. Then the

It was an all but perpendicular race, a glorious thing to see. Slowly,
surely, the game little Spitfire, seeming only a nighthawk at that
distance, closed in upon the enemy. Behind her, closing in faster,
faster, ever faster, was the Tomahawk.

“See! What did I tell you!” Brand’s voice rose with enthusiasm. “That
Tomahawk is a climber! You Americans should be proud of that ship!”

“I suppose we are.” Dave scarcely heard. A born mathematician, he was
trying by some occult system to determine the outcome of this strange

“In twenty seconds,” he pulled out a thin gold watch, “the Tomahawk will
pass the Spitfire. Forty seconds more and—well—you’ll see.” His lips
trembled as his words trailed off.

Hardly had he finished speaking when the small planes were abreast.
Brand even imagined he saw the Tomahawk’s pilot wave to the other as he

Forty tense seconds and then there came a ripping of the sky, longer,
more terrifying than any they had yet heard. Half below, and half on the
Messerschmitt’s tail, the Tomahawk was finding sweet revenge.

“That’s enough. No ship can take that and keep on flying!” the English
boy breathed. At the same instant the attacking Tomahawk slipped away in
a graceful spiral glide.

“What a ship!” the American boy breathed. “It can take it, and dish it

The Messerschmitt had had more than enough. Black bits of wreckage began
dropping from the mortally wounded plane. Among these were three larger
spots, darker than the rest. Presently above these three white mushrooms
blossomed against the sky. “Parachutes!” Brand exclaimed. “They’re
coming down! Land somewhere up the slope. Come on! We’ve got to get

Gone from Dave’s mind was the thought that this was not his war, as he
sped after his companion. Two facts were registered on his mind as he
raced ahead—a one-legged man using a crutch had stopped his plow-team in
the field and was racing toward the slope—a large collie dog was
scooting across a low meadow. The dog appeared intent upon joining the
one-legged man.

                             _Chapter_ III
                            Dolls and Nazis

In the meantime, quite ignoring the battle in the sky, two streaks of
red and gold—Cherry the girl, and Flash the dog—had gone racing down the
slope. In her golden sweater and red plaid skirt the girl seemed little
more than a sprite. The collie might well have been her golden shadow.
That she was quite a real person she herself knew full well. Her
painfully beating heart told her that.

Even as she raced on, her eyes were searching the ruins that had once
been the playhouse of her childhood. They were looking for some trace of
red or blue calico,—shocking proof that her fears had been well founded
and that two small girls had been in the playhouse at the time the bomb

It was only after she had reached the top of the stile leading from the
field to the house that she caught a loud: “Yoo-hoo! Yoo-hoo, Cherry!”

One look, and she crumpled down on the stile steps to burst into a flood
of tears, tears of pure joy.

All gay in red and blue calico Tillie and Peggy stood in the farmhouse
doorway. A moment more and they had left the house to come racing toward

In the meantime the fighting planes had gone beyond the hill, quite out
of her sight. Soon she was hugging two tumble-haired young sprites to
her bosom, and exclaiming: “Tillie! Peggy! You are safe! I was, Oh! So

“But the playhouse is all blowed up.” Tillie dabbed at her eyes.

“Yes!” exclaimed Peggy, dancing a jig. “But were we bombed! And was it
exciting! Just like fireworks! Only bigger! Much louder! There was
smoke, and then Oops! Up went everything!”

In vast astonishment Cherry stared at this small bit of humanity from
the slums of London. Her eyes were on the child for a full minute. Then,
mustering up her courage she managed a low chuckle. Then, springing to
her feet, she cried: “Come on! Let’s go see! We’ll make it a race!” And
so the four of them, three girls and a dog, went racing away.

When at last they stood by the ruins of what had once been a grand
playhouse, almost a living thing to her, Cherry was ready to weep.

How very much that playhouse had meant to her! It was only an abandoned
smoke-house, with the pleasant odor of burning wood and smoking meat
still clinging to it, but she had made of it a sort of second home. What
grand times she and Alice had known there! And of late, how Tillie and
Peggy had gloried in it! They had called it “Home of our Dolls.”

“The dolls!” Cherry exclaimed as she recalled it all. “Where are they?”

As if in answer to her appeal, the dog, Flash, went racing about to
return almost at once with the remains of a doll held lightly between
his teeth.

“Oh! Poor Wilhelmina!” Peggy cried. “She has lost her head!”

“Yes,” said a sober voice behind her. “And if those terrible Nazis had
succeeded as they hoped to, in dropping a bomb on our house you and I
would have been minus our heads too.” It was a tall, strongly built girl
in her late teens who spoke. She wore a blue calico apron. Her hands
were white with flour.

“Alice!” Cherry demanded, as a look of terror came into her eyes. “Do
you really think they meant to bomb the house?”

“Of course they did!”

“Why? What have we done?”

“They did it because we belong to England. They hate all of England.
They will destroy every bit of England if they can!” The girl’s voice
rose. “But they can’t! They shall not. There will always be an England!”

At that moment the plain, strongly built girl with flour on her hands
appeared transformed. No Joan of Arc could have looked stronger, more
daring, than she.

Cherry looked at the headless doll and was silent.

In the meantime, racing breathlessly, the two boys watched the drifting
of the white enemy parachutes across the sky. It had seemed at first
that they would land not so far from the spot where they had stood. But
a brisk wind carried them farther and farther away.

“It’s going to be a race,” Brand panted, “but we’ve just got to make it.
They may—may be spies. They—they must not escape!”

After climbing the sloping pasture they came to a place of scattered
shrubs and trees. At last the parachute nearest them vanished behind a
broad beech-tree.

“Come on!” Dave spurted ahead. “It’s now or never!”

At last, bursting out from behind a clump of trees they came upon a
silken bag lying on the ground. At the same time a dark shadow vanished
into a clump of low shrubs. Without a word the boys separated, one going
right, the other left. The clump was small. One or the other would come
upon the man. And then—

It was Brand’s luck to meet the man face to face. He was young,—not more
than two years Brand’s senior. There was a savage, haunted look on his

“All right!” he growled, showing his teeth like an angry dog, “You asked
for it. You get it!” All this in guttural English. An automatic gleamed
in his hand. The English boy did not move.

The automatic rose, jerkily but steadily. Now it was aimed at the boy’s
feet,—now at his thigh—his belt—and now—

At that instant something with the force of an avalanche struck the Nazi
flier across the knees. As he went crashing to earth the automatic
exploded harmlessly, then fell into the tall grass. Ten seconds later
both Brand and Dave were holding the man down, as Brand panted:

“Tha—that was a capital stroke, Dave! I sup—suppose you’d call that a

“Right,” Dave agreed. “It’s really quite old stuff. They do it in the
movies. I guess you’d call it a part of our American way of living.” He
laughed softly.

Brand went over the Nazi flier for weapons. Finding none, he searched in
the grass, found the automatic, then turning about, said:

“You may get up.”

The reply was an ugly snarl. But the man, who wore a pilot’s insignia,
stood up.

“Mind leading the way?” Brand said to Dave.

“Certainly not.” Turning his back on the prisoner Dave started toward
the farmhouse.

“All right, you. March!” Brand snapped. The prisoner followed Dave.

With Brand bringing up the rear, they had not gone a dozen paces when
from somewhere, not far distant, there came a most astounding roar.

Starting in sudden shock, Brand all but dropped his weapon.

“Wha—what’s that?” Dave’s voice trembled as he came to a dead stop.

“That’s old Jock! Something terrible is happening. Here!” Brand thrust
the automatic into Dave’s hand. “You know how to use it. Press the
handle, that’s all. March him down into the pasture. Don’t hesitate to
shoot. This is war—our war!” He was gone. As he dashed through the
brush, Brand felt his blood fairly boiling in his veins. “If anything
serious has happened to good old Jock,” he thought savagely, “if one of
those devils harms the old man I’ll tear him to pieces with my bare

Since no further sound reached him, guided only by that one agonizing
roar, he made his way as best he could along the slope. Then breaking
through a cluster of young beech-trees, he stopped short to stare. The
little tableau before him seemed unreal. It might have been taken from
some picture.

A young man dressed in civilian clothes, minus a coat, lay flat upon the
ground. His eyes gleaming, white teeth showing in a snarl, a golden
collie lay with his fore-paws on the prostrate man’s chest. Over them,
leaning on his crutch, towered a great gray-haired one-legged Scot. He
was saying: “Keep ’im Flash! Don’t ye let ’im stir an inch!”

At the same moment, from the pasture below came the confused murmur of
many voices. This was followed by a shout: “Come on, men. They’re ’iding
up ’ere somewheres!”

                              _Chapter IV_
                              Hans Schlitz

While the sound of voices from below grew louder, Jock said in a steady

“He was changin’ to civies.”

“His uniform must be hidden somewhere close,” suggested Dave.

“Aye. That it must,” Jock agreed.

Brand was not long in locating the uniform half hidden by dead leaves.
In a pocket he found an automatic.

“It’s good he didn’t have that in his hand,” said the sturdy Scot, “else
I shouldn’t ha’e been here. I caught him doin’ the lightnin’ change act.

“Plannin’ to do the spy act, eh?” He spoke to the man on the ground. The
answer was a surly curse.

“All right.” Brand spoke quietly to the dog. “Let him up.”

Flash looked at Jock, read an answer in his eyes, then left his post.

“Get up.” There was a sound like clinking steel in the English lad’s

“He knocked me over,” Jock explained quietly. “That was easy enough, an’
me with but one leg. Then he went on to finish me off. He’s got
astonishin’ strong hands, that lad has. He’s all for shakin’ a man. If
it hadn’t been fer good auld Flash now—”

“He would have killed you.” Chilled hate was in Brand’s voice.

All of a sudden hands parted the branches of a small oak and there stood
the brawny blacksmith from Warmington, the village below Ramsey Farm. He
carried an antique fowling-piece.

“So you got one of ’em? That’s grand, me boys!” he approved. “Where now
would you say the others be?”

By that time a dozen members of the Home Guard had gathered in.

“My friend from America, David Barnes, has one of them just up here a
little way,” Brand replied.

“I’ll say you’ve done a fine job of it,” the blacksmith approved.

“And now then.” He turned to the prisoner. “What may your name be?” He
drew pencil and notebook from his pocket.

For a moment the Nazi stood sullenly silent.

“Come now,” the blacksmith insisted. “It’s part of the regulations.”

“Hans Schlitz,” came in a low, defiant voice.

“Hans Schlitz!” The words sprang unbidden from Brand’s voice. “That’s
the name of the prisoner who worked on our farm during the World War!”

“I’m his son,” the prisoner snarled. “I’ve paid you a visit to square
accounts. I’m sorry we missed.”

“So you meant to bomb our house!” Brand stared almost in unbelief.

“Why not? Your father treated my father, a prisoner of war, like a dog.”

“That,” said the gray-haired blacksmith, “is not the truth. I mind it
well. He was housed and fed as one of the family. He worked no harder
than the men of the household. He—”

“That’s a lie!” the prisoner snarled. A crimson flush o’erspread the
giant blacksmith’s face. He took a step forward. Then he muttered
low—“No. It won’t do. Not at all it won’t do. Not to be brawlin’ with a
swine like him.”

He stood there for a moment, head bowed as if in prayer. Then his head
lifted as he said:

“Here you, Bill and Hugh, take this fellow to the guard house.

“The rest of you,” he waved an arm, “spread out an’ search for the one
that’s still free. There was three of them, you all mind countin’.”

There was a murmur of assent. Then they were away. “Come on,” Brand said
to Dave after the first man they had captured had been turned over to
the blacksmith and a companion. “All this leaves me a bit groggy. Think
of their deliberately planning to blow our house off the map!”

“Terrible!” Dave agreed.

“And my father did treat that prisoner well,” Brand said. “I remember
his telling of it many times. We saw where their plane cracked up.”
Brand’s voice rose. “Finding that plane is important. That third fellow
may have been there and finished wrecking it. If not, we’ll be the first
to look it over.”

The discovering of the wreck was no great task. The plane had cut a path
through a cluster of young trees. In doing this it had stripped off its
wings, but its cabin, motor, and instrument board had been left in fair

“The R. A. F. will want to look at this,” Brand said. “They’ll want to
know if the Huns have discovered any new tricks,—a bomb sight, or
something like that.”

He tried the cabin door. It stuck. Seizing a bar from the smashed
landing gear he pried the door open. As he did so something fell at his
feet. It was a long, flat pigskin billfold.

Throwing back the flap, he pulled out a handful of papers. The first of
these appeared to be some sort of flying orders. He could not read the
German print, but the names, written in by hand, were plain enough.

“Fritz Steinbeck,” the boy read aloud. “That may be the dark-haired
fellow we caught first.”

“What are the other names?” Dave asked.

“Hans Schlitz, and Nicholas Schlitz. Sayee—” Brand stared. “They may be

“And they are!” he exclaimed in a low, tense whisper ten seconds later.
“Look! Here’s their picture together.” He held up a thin card.

“Look almost like twins,” Dave suggested.

“Nope,” Brand concluded after a second look. “The one we caught is the
older of the two. I only hope,” his brow wrinkled, “that they get this
fellow Nicholas. If they don’t—well—” he heaved a deep sigh. “His name
may be Nicholas, but for us, if he harbors a grudge, as his brother
surely does, he may prove to be Old Nick, the devil himself.” He did his
best to suppress a shudder. “I’ll put this in my pocket.” He stowed the
billfold away. “Turn it in at the airport tomorrow. Mother will be down
tonight. I want to talk the affair over with her.

“Hey, you!” he called a moment later as a boy who could scarcely have
been past sixteen put in an appearance. “You’ve got a gun.”

“That I have,” the boy grinned.

“Want a job?”

“That I do. I’m tired of tramping.”

“Right. You just keep an eye on this wreck until someone from the R. A.
F. comes along.”

“A Royal Air Force man.” The boy grinned again. “I’ll sure enough be
glad to meet one.”

“You’ll get a chance, all right,” Brand promised. “They won’t miss

To Dave he said: “Come on. We’ll go down now.”

They made their way through the shadows cast by young trees in silence.
Arrived at the upper side of the broad meadow overlooking the homestead
and the village beyond, as if struck by the beauty of the view, they
paused to stand there motionless.

How different were their thoughts at that moment!

The American boy was thinking: “How strangely beautiful it all is, as if
it had been arranged with great care so that a famous artist might paint

It was just that—the farmhouse built of native stone, centuries old,
stood in the midst of orchards and gardens all green and gold with the
colors of autumn. Brightest speck of all was Cherry sitting on the gray

“How like a sprite she is,” Dave was thinking. “And how like an angel
she can sing!”

Beyond the farmstead was a broad, green pasture dotted with black and
white cattle. To the right of this its walls shattered but still
upright, a great, gray Norman castle cast a long, dark shadow.

“It’s like the shadow of war on a weary world,” the boy thought.

As his gaze turned to the left his face brightened. “The village,” he
whispered. Never before, he thought, had there been such a village. With
its winding street following the whimsical meandering of a narrow
stream, with its houses set irregularly along hillsides that sloped away
on either side, with gardens running back to the edge of a great grove
of beech, oak and yew trees, it all seemed part of a picture-book dream.

“And yet,” he thought, “the people in that village are quite human. They
are kind, simple and good. The baker, the blacksmith, the cobbler, and
all the rest,—how really wonderful they are! And so kind to a stranger!
And yet,”—He was thinking what it might be like tomorrow, or the day
after—if the war lasted. And it would last!

As for Brand, he was thinking quite simply and steadfastly, “That’s my
home down there. It’s always been my home—has been the home of my people
for generations. And yet, if the purpose of one man, or perhaps two, had
been carried out on this perfect autumn day, it would have been no
home—only a pile of rocks. And beneath that pile would have been the
crushed forms of three persons I love.”

“This,” he said aloud, “is war. Come on.” His voice was hoarse. “Let’s
get on down.”

                              _Chapter V_
                             The Young Lord

The house in which the Ramseys lived was large. Its kitchen was
immense—large as the entire first floor of a modern American home. Its
fireplace took a five-foot log at its back. Walled round with two-foot
thick stone, with flagstone floor and massive beamed ceiling, this room
seemed the inside of a fort. And that, in days long gone bye, it might
very well have been, for a moat—in these days dry and grown up to
shrubs—ran round the house.

It was in this great room, when the day’s work was done and night had
shut out both the beauty and the horror of the day, that the family
gathered about the cheery fire.

Over the massive glowing logs a teakettle sang. By the hearth lay Flash,
the golden collie. Back of him, on a rug, the two young girls played at
jacks. Dave, who sat nearest to them, noted with approval that their
hair was now neatly combed, their dresses clean, their faces
shining—“That’s the part Alice plays,” he thought with approval.

As his eyes swept the circle, Alice knitting, Cherry smiling over a
book, Jock and Brand talking about cattle that had strayed, he thought:
“This is indeed a happy home.”

At that moment there came the sound of a motor, followed by a loud honk.
At once Cherry, with cheeks aglow, was at the door.

She ushered in a young man of medium height, with smooth dark hair and
smiling black eyes.

“Good evening, everybody,” he exclaimed. “Thought I’d just drop by to
see how you liked the bombing. Stirred you up a bit. I’ll bet on that.
I—” He paused as his eyes fell on Dave. Dave was new to him. So too were
the small girls who stared up at him.

“Lord Applegate,” Cherry began, “I want you—”

“Forget about the Lord part,” the young man laughed. “I’m not yet a
lord. If ever I receive the title it will never fit. Call me Harmon, as
you’ve always done, or Lieutenant Applegate of the R. A. F.”

“That,” Brand exclaimed, “is an honor indeed. I only wish—” He did not
finish but stared enviously at the Lieutenant’s uniform. “I’d be content
if I were only a private,” he whispered under his breath.

“Well, anyway,” Cherry laughingly began all over, “I want you to meet
David Barnes. He’s from America. His uncle is a war reporter who knew
father in the World War. And so—”

“So he’s paying you a visit. That’s fine.” The young lord who wasn’t yet
a lord but was a Lieutenant in the Royal Air Force shook hands with
Dave, then accepted a place beside him.

“Where did you get the children, Cherry?” Applegate asked, looking down
at the pair who had resumed their game.

“Oh, they are Alice’s,” Cherry laughed.

“Nice work, Alice,” the Young Lord said. “It must have been a very long
time since I was here.”

“It has been,” Alice agreed. “Quite too long. But these children,—they
are refugees from London. Bombed out, you know.

“You should have seen them when they came!” she added in a low voice,
with a grimace. “Their mothers came with them. But they couldn’t stand
the eternal silence of this place.”

“So they left you the children?” said Applegate. “Good old Alice!”

“Oh, they’re really a joy!” The girl’s face lighted.

“But Harm!” Her face sobered. “That plane dropped a bomb on the old
playhouse. Blew it to bits. You know, you used to come and play with us
sometimes long ago—with dolls and things,” she added teasingly.

“With dolls! Good heavens!” he exclaimed.

“And today the dolls had their heads blown off,” Cherry added. “Just
think! It might have been our heads that were blown off!”

“Yes,” the young man’s face sobered, “it might have been. That was a
real scrap. Didn’t come out so badly on the whole. Did they catch the
men who bailed out?”

“Two of them.” Brand’s brow wrinkled. “The Home Guard tells me the other
got away.”

“Oh, they’ll catch him,” Applegate prophesied cheerfully.

“I’m not so sure about that.” Brand did not smile. “They did find his
parachute and his uniform half hidden under leaves.”

“Oh! Fixing to turn into a spy!” Applegate’s face sobered.

“Alice,” the younger of the two children called. “What is a spy?”

“A spy,” said Cherry, “steals secrets.”

“And blows up castles and bridges. A terrible man!” said Alice. “I know
all about it. I’ll tell you a story about a spy when it’s time for bed.”

“Ooo.” Peggy gave a delectable shiver. “After that we won’t dare go to

“The most astonishing thing,”—Brand leaned forward in his chair—“is that
one of the men we captured today is the son of the prisoner who worked
on this farm more than twenty years ago.”

“What?” Applegate exclaimed. “It can’t be possible!”

“How do you expect us to believe that?” Cherry demanded with a wave of
the hand.

“I’ll leave it to Dave and Jock,” Brand defended.

“That’s right,” Jock agreed. Dave nodded his head.

“See?” Brand’s voice was low. “What’s more, I’m almost sure the fellow
who eluded us is his brother. If you don’t believe that, look at this
picture.” He passed the paper and the photo around.

“Hans Schlitz,” Applegate said, musingly, “That’s the name, right
enough. I’ve often heard my mother speak of him. Gloomy, brooding sort
of fellow, he was. Probably went back to Europe after the war to tell
his sons vile tales of the way he was treated. Poisoned their minds with

“Oh—ah!” Cherry shuddered. “Gives me the creeps to think of that son of
his prowling about here at night.”

“Oh come!” Applegate sprang up. “It’s not as bad as all that. Come on,
Cherry.” He put out his hands. “How about a song. I’ll do the honors at
the old grand. Happy days.”

“I’d love it!” said Cherry, allowing herself to be led away to the
corner where a huge grand piano loomed out of the shadows.

Taking up a candle, Alice carried it to that corner, set it on the
piano, then tiptoed back.

With this pale light playing across their interesting mobile faces the
young Lord and Cherry took their places.

The moments that followed will linger long in David’s memory. Never
before had he seen or heard anything like it. The pale light playing on
two bright happy faces, eager for all life, and most of all the perfect
blending of mellow tones from the ancient piano with the fresh, free joy
of Cherry’s voice. Ah! That was something indeed! More than once,
without knowing it, he whispered:

“Oh Cherry! I didn’t know you could sing like that!”

From moment to moment the mood of the music changed. Now the girl’s
slender form was swaying to “It’s a Lovely Day Tomorrow,” the next she
was bringing back for good old Jock’s sake a song loved by all those of
twenty years before:

  “There’s a long, long trail awinding
  Into the land of my dreams,
  Where the nightingale is singing
  And the white moon beams.”

And then, springing to a place on the long piano bench she cried: “Now!
Let’s all sing, Roll out the barrel.”

Long before this songfest was over Dave found himself bursting with a
wonderful plan. No, it was not his war. But he could do his bit,
couldn’t he? And he would.

When quite out of breath after her last rollicking song Cherry was led
to her place by the fire, she exclaimed:

“Oh! It’s wonderful just to live!”

“Yes,” the Young Lord agreed. “It is grand. And yet, perhaps tomorrow we

“Come!” He took Brand by the shoulder. “Let’s go out and see the holes
those bombs dug for you. I’ve got to report to my C. O. about them.” And
so the two of them disappeared into the night.

“Come Peggy. Come Tillie,” Alice called. “Time for a goodnight story.
And then to bed.”

“Will you really tell us a spy story?” Peggy begged.


“A real, true spy story!” Tillie was fairly dancing.

“Yes, I guess so.”

At that Alice, the two children, and Flash, the dog, marched into the
small dining room to close the door behind them.

“It was the Young Lord who piloted that Tomahawk plane this afternoon,”
Jock said in a hoarse whisper. “I have it on good authority, the very

“And he said never a word about it!” Dave marvelled.

“He’s like that.” Cherry’s lips went white. “He never tells of such
things. But just think! He nearly crashed!”

“So near I closed my eyes,” Dave replied admiringly. “Young Lord,” he
thought. “Not a bad name for a chap like that!”

                              _Chapter VI_
                               Lady Spies

When Jock had gone stomping out to follow the Young Lord on his tour of
inspection, Dave found himself alone with Cherry.

“Listen, Cherry.” He was more excited than the girl had ever known him
to be. “I’ve got a grand idea!”

“That’s what England needs right now,” the girl laughed nervously. “Just
think what happened today, and is likely to happen more and more.”

“That’s just it!” Dave leaned forward eagerly. “In all of England there
are thousands of anxious people, millions, really, who need a touch of
youthful cheer. And you can give it to them!”

“I?” The girl caught her breath. “How?”

“By singing for them as you sang for us tonight—singing over the radio.”

“Oh—o!” Cherry drew in a long breath. “I hadn’t thought of doing that.
You—you see, I’m only a local song bird in a little country village.
Easter at the church, you know, Christmas carols, parties, and all that.
But the radio! I—I—just—”

“Don’t say you couldn’t,” Dave pleaded. “Please say you’ll try. We must
each do our bit.” He had forgotten for the moment that this was not his

“Yes, I know,” Cherry breathed. “There’s mother, you know. She was a
World War nurse. Now she’s directing an entire ward. Alice has her
refugee children. And I—I just sit in the sun and tend the sheep.”

“Yes. And you might be the most talked-of girl in England!” Dave was
bursting with his new idea. “Just go up to London with me tomorrow. My
uncle has a trans-Atlantic news broadcast. He’ll arrange it all. Wi—will
you go?”

“Sure! Shake on it.” The girl put out a slim hand.

“It’s just as I thought,” declared the Little Lord, as the men came
stomping back into the room a moment later. “Those bombs were rather
small. A Messerschmitt can’t carry a heavy load. But they can keep all
of England on edge with their nuisance flight.”

“Cheerio!” Cherry sprang to her feet. “At least one Messerschmitt has
ceased to be a nuisance, and that, I’m told, is because a certain Young
Lord learned how to fly long ago.”

“All part of a day’s work,” the Young Lord grinned. “I’d like just such
a scrap every morning before breakfast.”

At that the cook brought in cakes and steaming coffee and they all took
seats by the great broad three-inch thick table that had served the
Ramsey family for more than a hundred years.

In the meantime Alice was telling her young refugees the promised spy

“Once,” she began, “in that other terrible war, the one in which my
father and your grandfather fought, there were two spies named Louise
and Charlotte.”

“Oh!” Tillie exclaimed with a sudden start. “Are there really lady

“To be sure,” was the quiet reply.

“Goody!” Tillie clapped her hands. “I’m going to be a lady spy!”

“Yes sir!” Peggy broke in with her high, piping voice. “We’ll both be
spies. You be Louise, and I’ll be Charlotte!”

“Wait and see!” the story teller warned. “Let me tell you the story.
Then you may not want to be a spy at all!”

“Oh, yes we will!” Tillie insisted. “Aunt Alice (they called her aunt)
do we have a spy right here on our farm?” The child’s voice was low,

“Hush!” Alice warned. “Don’t dare to breathe a word about that.”

“Tillie!” The younger child’s voice rose sharply, “Let her tell the

And so, while the children lay back among the cushions, Alice told the
story of Louise and Charlotte.

“They had lived in France.” Her voice was low and mellow. “Then had come
the terrible German soldiers. Louise fled before them. Charlotte hid in
a cellar.

“Louise was very bright. She had been a teacher. She could speak French,
German and Belgian.

“A great soldier asked her to be a spy. This frightened her nearly out
of her wits. But she said ‘all right. I will do it.’

“One dark night a great giant of a man named Alphonse, who had been a
smuggler and was a friend of her country, took her hand and said: ‘We
will go.’”

“Wh—where did they go?” Tillie was growing excited.

“They went to the border.” Alice smiled. “At the border there was a very
high barbed wire fence. You couldn’t go over it. If you tried to go
under it you might touch an electric wire that would sound an alarm.
Then you would be shot. If you tripped on something it might set off a
mine, and you’d be blown to bits.”

“And wa—was—” Tillie got no further. Her sister’s fingers were on her

“Alphonse knew all about these things,” Alice went on. “He made a hole
under the fence. The earth was very loose. He had gone under before.
They got across safely. Then they were in the land where German soldiers
were. And, just when they were breathing easy, a blinding white light
swept along the barbed wire fence. It was searching for them.”


“Alphonse and Louise dropped flat and lay there hiding their faces in
the damp earth. The sweeping searchlight came and went, came and went,
then came to go away for good.”

“Oh—oo!” Peggy breathed. “They didn’t get them.”

Just then Tillie sat straight up. “Aunt Alice!” she cried. “We _do_ have
a spy on our farm. I saw his face at the window. I really did, just
now.” At that same instant the dog Flash growled softly.

Visibly shaken, Alice managed to regain her poise. “Shish!” was all she
said. Then she went on with her story.

“When this loyal French girl reached her home where German soldiers now
were living, she began making lace and selling it from town to town.
What was more important, she was finding friends to help her work as a
spy. One was a scientist who could do strange things with chemicals,
magnifying glasses, cameras and printing presses. Another was a map
maker who in shorthand could write three thousand words with invisible
ink on a piece of transparent paper so small Louise could paste it to a
spectacle lens and carry it across the line that way.”

“What for?” Tillie breathed.

“So none of the German spies could read it,” Alice explained.

“You see,” she went on, “things were happening over there that great
French and English officers needed to know. And Louise could tell them.
Once there was a terrible battle. Thousands of Germans were wounded. How
many? Louise must find out.

“There was a house close to the railroad track where all the cars filled
with wounded soldiers were passing. Someone hid in the dark room. Every
time a car passed, she’d tap on the floor, tap, tap, tap. In the next
room, seeming to study her lessons, was a school girl.”

“Just like you and me!” Tillie squeezed Peggy’s arm.

“This school girl was making marks on paper,” Alice went on. “Four
marks, then one across, four more and one across.”

“Keeping track of the taps. I could do that.” Tillie was growing excited

“When all the trains had passed,” Alice whispered, “Louise counted up
all the marks. Then she multiplied that by the number of wounded men in
each car, and so she knew how many thousands had been badly wounded. But
how was she to get that number across the line?”

“Paste it on her spectacle,” suggested Tillie.

“Not this time, she didn’t,” Alice smiled. “She wrote it on a paper and
hid it. You’d never guess where.”

“In her shoe—in her glove—in her hair,” Tillie exploded.

“Nope. None of these.” Alice shook her head. “Let me tell you all about
it, then you may guess.”

“Al—all right.” Tillie drew a long breath as she settled back.

“You see,” said Alice, “Louise was going down a dark road in the night.
In one hand she carried her bag of laces, in the other a lantern. It was
a tin lantern. The tin was all full of holes. Inside a candle flickered.
It didn’t give much light, just enough. Suddenly a gruff voice


“Louise was taken to a rough cabin where a short broad German spy woman
lived. Everyone called her Le Grenouille, the frog. Louise and Charlotte
feared and hated her.

“‘Take off your clothes’, that’s what the Frog said to Louise.

“Before obeying, Louise carefully blew out the candle in her lantern,
then set it in the corner.

“All her clothes were taken off. Everything was searched,—dress,
stockings, shoes,—everything. Nothing was found.

“‘All right. You may dress and be gone,’ said the Frog.

“When Louise had dressed she went on her way. That night our High
Commander way across the line in France knew how many Germans had been
wounded in that battle.”

“Louise, the spy, had told him,” Peggy whispered.

“She showed them the paper on which the number had been written,” said
Alice. “Where do you think it was hidden?”

“In her basket!” Tillie cried.


“In her hair,” Tillie guessed again.

“I know!” Peggy jumped up and down. “In her candle!”

“Good! That’s right! How did you guess?” Alice’s face shone.

“She—” Peggy did not finish. At that instant old Flash leapt from his
corner, dashed up to the window which was above his head, and barked

At the same instant Tillie cried: “We do have a spy on our farm! I saw
his face in the window! Saw him plain as day!”

They all rushed to the kitchen where the others were talking. A few
excited words and the boys, with Flash at their heels, were out
searching in the night.

But for one thing they might have succeeded in making a capture. The
moment they stepped outside, the sky was lit by a sudden flash. Then
came the roar of an explosion.

“They’re at it again,” Young Lord murmured.

“Here Flash!” Brand called. “Go find him!” But Flash only whined at his
feet. The roar of that distant explosion had paralyzed him. And so, in
the end they returned empty handed.

“Aunt Alice,” Peggy whispered as she was being tucked in bed, “will you
tell us more about those lady spies?”

“Sometime perhaps,” was the quiet reply.

                             _Chapter_ VII
                             Enemy Sighted

After they returned from the futile search the three of them, Dave,
Brand and the Young Lord stood for a time beside the car. They had
talked for a moment. Then Brand walked away to the barn for one more
look about before he retired for the night. It had been a strange,
exciting and momentous day. Nothing quite like it had ever happened at
Ramsey Farm before. He felt restless and ill at ease.

After he had gone the Young Lord asked Dave a strange question:

“What are you doing in England?”

“Why—I—nothing really,” Dave hesitated. “You see my uncle is in the news
service here. He was coming over in the Clipper. He invited me to come
along. So here I am. Perhaps it wasn’t quite as simple as all that, but
he fixed it up.”

“I see,” the Young Lord murmured.

Did he? Dave doubted that. He made a second start. “You see I’ve had two
years in college. Didn’t like it any too well, the class-room part. Oh,
math was well enough. In fact I really liked it. But the rest,” he
heaved a sigh. “Well, I majored mostly in football, basketball, tennis
and golf. So—oo,”

“So they didn’t care much whether you stayed on?”

“I suppose not. Anyway, all the colleges in America have been crammed
with fellows who haven’t anything else to do but go to college now,—”

“All that will change fast,” said the Young Lord. “The way things are
going over there now those boys are going to have things to do. Ever do
any flying?” he asked abruptly.

“Yes—a little—quite a bit in fact. Uncle was a flyer in the World War.
Not an ace exactly, but he got to like flying. He’s always had a flying
crate or two about, and naturally I had to have a turn at them.”

The Young Lord guessed, and quite shrewdly too, that Dave was being too
modest about his flying.

“I’m trying out a new plane tomorrow,” he said slowly. “It’s a
two-seater. Want to go up? Just a little sky patrol. Nothing’s likely to

Dave seemed to see that Tomahawk of the afternoon plunging downward
apparently headed for destruction. He wanted to say “no”. For some
reason his tongue wouldn’t form the word. So he said:

“Yes. Sure. I’d like to.”

“Righto.” The Young Lord reached for the door of his big old English
car. “I’ll be after you in this bus at 10:00 A. M.”

His motor roared. He was away.

“Now why did I say that?” Dave asked himself aloud.

“Say what?” He started. Brand was at his side.

“I promised to go up with Applegate tomorrow.”

“Sayee! That’s corking! Just what I’d like to do! In fact,” Brand’s tone
was sober, “I want to join up. Since this afternoon I want to more than
ever. Mother objects. Says I’m needed to manage the farm. Says the army
needs our butter and fat cattle. This farm! Of course, we love it. All
of us do. But when all of England is threatened—when the others are
doing their bit—to be tied to the sail! God!” Brand stamped his foot.

“It’s all the way you think, I guess.” Dave laughed lightly. “Well, I’ll
be up having a look at your native land from the clouds in the morning.
So, goodnight.” Half an hour later, in his bed beneath the rafters of
that ancient house, Dave was asking himself: “Why did I come to

The answer seemed simple enough. This war was too big to miss—that
is—miss seeing. But why had he persuaded Cherry to go with him to London
where bombs were falling? Why had he promised to go up with the Young
Lord in the morning? He did not know the answers. All he knew was that
he felt like a fly caught in a web. The web did not have a very strong
hold on him yet. He could break away if he wished. But did he wish? Not
knowing the answer, he fell asleep.

In another corner of that broad upstairs, her door leading into the
children’s room ajar, Alice was hearing a shrill childish voice cry:

“You’re a spy, a little lady spy. I’m a frog, a great big black frog.
I’m going to swallow you—swallow you right down. Here I come!”

This was followed by a low, half-suppressed exclamation, a giggle, then
a loud “Shish.” After that all was silent.

Alice was nearly asleep when suddenly from far overhead there came the
roar of powerful motors. London was in for one more beating. Would those
terrible bombings never end?

It was with a strange thrill tickling his spine that Dave climbed into
the rear of the lord’s two-seater plane the next day. This, he knew, was
a fighting plane, his very first. This plane carried a sting in its
nose, eight guns capable of firing nearly ten thousand shots per minute.

“Of course,” he thought, “this is broad daylight. Not much chance of
picking up an enemy. And yet, there’s yesterday.”

After fastening his safety belt with great care, he waited for the
takeoff. It came with a roar. They were in the air. Some ship!

He studied it with great care. It had a dual control. If something
happened, just happened to go wrong with the Young Lord, he could bring
the ship to earth. He might, in a pinch, do a great deal more. The
firing of those guns seemed simple. He had had a great deal more flying
experience than he was willing to admit,—at least 200 hours.

Seeming to read his thoughts, Applegate gave a slight squeeze at his
firing button. In no uncertain tones the guns spoke. Dave was thrilled
to his fingertips.

He began studying the electric switches, the emergency boost, the petrol
switch, the air-speed indicator, the directional gyro, the climb
indicator, and all the other instruments. A born mechanic, he could
study these out one by one, eliminate the ones least needed, then
picture himself guiding the ship.

Watching a mirror, studying his face, Applegate nodded in approval to
the sky. As they climbed to 10,000 feet Dave saw London in the distance.
Smoke hung over it. There had been a bombing, fires started. Homes of
simple, honest, hard-working people who had not asked for this war had
been destroyed. He hated all that.

White clouds, like distant snowbanks, were drifting through the blue as
blue sky.

“Take her for a minute, will you?” The Young Lord spoke in a
matter-of-fact voice.

Dave’s hands trembled as he gripped the controls. He kept the ship going
on an even keel while his companion, after unstrapping heavy binoculars,
studied the sky.

Suddenly Applegate threw out a hand. Swinging it to the right, he
directed Dave into a fluffy white cloud.

“That’s it,” he approved. “Now just lurk around in here for a bit.”

With a tickling sensation at the back of his neck Dave “loitered round”.
At the same time he was asking himself, “Why did I let myself in for

Twice they came out of the cloud, but on the wrong side. At last, after
one more wave of the lord’s hand, Dave headed straight out, on the side
from which they had entered.

He caught his breath sharply as, on breaking out into blue sky, he
sighted an airplane beneath and beyond them. He trembled as he saw the
hated swastika on its tail.

“Will there be a scrap?” he asked himself. Strangely enough he felt
quite cool about it. The Young Lord took the controls. The motors
roared. This gave Dave time to study land and sky. As near as he could
tell the other plane which was slowly circling, was just about over
Ramsey Farm. “That’s why Applegate is putting on such speed,” he

Just then, like a squirrel darting for shelter, the enemy plane leapt
upward and into a cloud.

“You better!” Applegate growled, at the disappearing enemy.

Only when they were near the cloud did he slacken his speed. Then, like
a dog waiting for a squirrel, he loitered about in the sky.

“If the enemy really wished to get away,” Dave thought, “every advantage
is with him.” A whole string of clouds was drifting in from the distant
sea. Was he glad or sorry? At that moment he could not have told.

After a time, like a dog watching clumps of bushes where a rabbit is
hiding, the Young Lord began skirting that long procession of clouds.

They had followed almost to landsend and the shore when suddenly the
Young Lord pointed to a black speck against the distant sky. Dave heaved
a sigh of relief. Turning about, they headed for the airdrome.

“He was bashful, that Hun,” Applegate laughed into his mouthpiece.
“Perhaps he came over to find his pals who paid us a visit yesterday.
Sorry to disappoint him. Even the wreck has been carted away.”

“One of his friends is still at large,” Dave suggested. “Might have set
up a signal. Black cross cut from the sod would do the trick.”

“That’s right,” Applegate agreed. “Anyway,” he laughed as they began
circling for a landing, “we’re back just in time for lunch. It’s cold
beef and plum pudding. You’ll stay, I hope.”

“Oh! Sure!” Dave agreed.

His visit to the flying corps’ mess was one not soon to be forgotten. He
had read magazine stories of these fighters. Loud, boisterous, wild and
a bit coarse, that was how they had been pictured. To his surprise he
found them a simple, kindly lot, with manners that would have put many a
college group to shame.

“You’ve really got to be up to things to be a-flying in this squadron,”
the Young Lord explained. “And in any other, for that matter. Drinking,
loud laughs, roughness—well, it doesn’t seem to go with life-and-death
flying, that’s all.

“You have to be a man,” he added after a pause. “And a man’s nearly
always a gentleman as well.”

                             _Chapter_ VIII
                          Roll Out the Barrel

When late that afternoon Dave walked with Cherry to the village to catch
the bus to London, he carried a parcel under his arm. “My hiking boots,”
he explained. “These hard roads have worn the soles thin.”

“Oh! I’m glad,” Cherry exclaimed. “You are going to like Uncle John.
He’s our shoemaker. We call him that though I’m sure he’s really uncle
to no one. He’s very old and still does all his work the hard way, by
hand. Wonderful work it is, too.”

Dave did like Uncle John. Seated there at his bench, a leather apron on
his lap and nails between his teeth, he seemed to have just moved out of
a very old story book.

“Do you still make shoes as well as repair them?” Dave asked.

“Oh, yes, now and then.” The old man’s smile was good to see. “I’ve made
all the Young Lord’s shoes since he was a baby.

“But then,” he sighed, “times have changed. You can’t get the leather
any more. It used to be that I could make a pair of shoes and guarantee
them for five years. Those times are gone.

“But perhaps it is best that it should be so,” he added cheerfully.
“Nowdays people like change. If you only pay one pound for a pair of
shoes, you can afford more than one pair.” Taking a tack from his mouth,
he drove it home, then another.

“He lives in two small rooms behind the shop,” Cherry said when they
were outside. “His little wife was just like him, always cheerful and
kind. She died three years ago.

“Nearly all the people in the village are like that,” she added as they
walked on. “The butcher has his stall in front of his home. The baker’s
shop is in his basement. So is the grocer’s. Everyone works. All are
kindly. They never have much, but they make it do—and are happy.”

Dave was to recall this picture with a sudden pull at his heartstrings
in the days that were to come.

The bus came lurching in. They climbed aboard and were away for London.

Arrived in London they hurried up to the radio studio for Cherry’s
audition. Singing in a bare studio with a strange accompanist, the girl
was far from doing her best. For all that the director gave her a small
spot on the “People’s Choice” program at 9:00 P. M.

Once more on the street where shadows had grown long and dark, and
people by hundreds were hastening home before the air raid siren
sounded, Cherry gripped Dave’s arm as she said in a tragic whisper:
“David, I never can stick it out. It will only be a dismal failure.”

“Nonsense!” Dave laughed. “It’s only stage-fright. Come on. My uncle
took me to a rare little basement eating place once. They serve good old
American coffee and waffles with maple syrup. That will put you on your

In the quiet of the sub-cellar, they drank great quantities of coffee
and ate their waffles joyously.

“I—I guess I’ll make it now,” Cherry murmured. Once more they were on
the deserted streets.

Then, as if to crush her high hopes, all hell let loose. The roar of
powerful motors, the scream of sirens, the boom and bang of
anti-aircraft guns filled all the night with terror.

“I can’t let you in ’ere now,” said a burly guard at the entrance to the
broadcasting station. “It is quite impossible. You shouldn’t be ’ere at

“But this lady is to sing over the radio at nine!” Dave protested.

“Can’t be ’elped.” The guard was firm. “Orders is orders. No ladies
hallowed in the station during an alarm. If you’d ask me sir, I’d
hadvise a subway station at once, sir. Yonder’s one not ’alf a block

The words were scarcely out of his mouth when there came a low, whining
sound, followed by a flash that lit all the sky. Then came a roar fit to
burst their eardrums, and a tremendous push that tossed them to the
pavement five yards away.

Without a word Dave scrambled to his feet, picked the slight girl up in
his arms, dashed half a block, and was down two flights of stairs to the
subway station before he fully realized what he was doing.

Seated on the hard floor of the station, with thousands of people all
about them, for a full moment they were completely silent. Then Dave
began to laugh. Cherry joined in, and the spell was broken.

The laugh over, they looked about them. The whole long platform was
filled with people. Young and old, rich and poor, salesgirls in thin,
shabby coats, gray-haired ladies in mink and ermine, they all were
there. And all, it seemed, were bent on making the best of an unpleasant
situation. Bye and bye they would do their best to snatch a little
sleep, for tomorrow would be another day.

“Look at them.” There was a catch in Dave’s throat. “They seem almost

“Yes.” Cherry’s chin went up. “They’re not going to let Hitler get them
down. He wouldn’t be pleased if he could see them now!”

In a bright corner four old men were playing cards. In the shadows a
shopgirl was whispering to her young man. Sitting on their bedrolls, two
sedate matrons were knitting. Children were everywhere, and all of them
whooping it up in hilarious fun.

“Excuse me,” said a smiling young lady. “Aren’t you Cherry Ramsey?”

“Why—why yes, I am.” Cherry looked into a pair of eager blue eyes.

“I knew it!” the young lady exclaimed. “I heard you sing at Lady
Applegate’s home once. It was truly quite wonderful. Now—” she
hesitated, “well, you see, I’m just helping out down here, sort of
social service work, don’t you know. And I thought you might not mind,
well, you know,”—she hesitated—“well, perhaps you wouldn’t mind singing
a song or two for these people. They’d think it quite the berries if you

“Well, that—” Cherry laughed, “that’s what I came to town for, to sing
on the radio. But the guard wouldn’t let us go up to the station.”

“I shouldn’t wonder,” Miss Meeks, the social worker murmured. “Listen!”
There came a deep, low rumble like the roll of distant thunder. “You
can’t help loving these people, don’t you know.” Her tired face
brightened as she spread out her arms. “Not one of them knows whether
his home will be standing in the morning. But you see how they are.”

“Yes—yes I see.” Cherry swallowed hard.

“The radio,” Miss Meeks murmured. “Now I shouldn’t wonder. Will you sing
for them, Miss Ramsey?”

Cherry nodded.

From somewhere a small piano was made to appear. A little Irish girl
with a tumbled mass of red hair took her place before it. A small
platform—a heavy packing box—was placed beside the piano.

After shedding her heavy coat, Cherry stood before her strange audience.
All lovely in gold and blue, she caught their eyes at once. Leaning
over, she whispered to the girl at the piano, giving her the name of her
first song. The social worker clapped her hands for silence. Deep,
appreciative silence followed.

“Miss Ramsey, a friend of Lady Applegate, from Dorset way, will sing to
us,” Miss Meeks announced. “Let’s give her a hand.” The applause was

Somehow, a light, not too strong, was made to play on the slender girl
as she sang.

  “In the gloaming, Oh my darling,
  When the lights are dim and low.”

She sang the song through to the end. The applause that followed drowned
out the sound of exploding bombs.

“More! More!” came from every corner.

The social worker slid a microphone before the singer. Bending over, a
smile on her lips, Cherry once more whispered a title. Then, lifting her
voice high, she cried: “Roll out the Barrel! Everybody sing! Let’s make
it ring!”

Everybody did sing,—more people than Cherry will ever know, for through
the microphone that had been placed before her, Cherry was at last
singing on the radio. From end to end of England the song boomed on:
“Roll out the Barrel.”

Every platform in the subway had its radio. Station by station they
joined in until the whole tube, miles on end, echoed with the song.

  “Roll out the barrel! We’ll have a barrel of fun
  Roll out the barrel! We’ll put the blues on the run.”

It seemed to Dave as he listened after that song was over, that even the
Führer must have heard the applause that followed, heard and shuddered.

Dropping into a mellow mood for the oldsters who recalled that other
terrible war, Cherry sang:

  “There’s a long, long trail a-winding
  Into the land of my dreams,
  Where the nightingale is singing
  And the white moon beams.”

Then, scarcely pausing for breath, leaning far forward, a bewitching
smile on her face, she sang: “No! No! No! Papasista.”

When the roar of applause had died away, Dave heard a gray-haired lady
in a Persian lamb coat say:

“Such a vulgar song!”

“Quite,” agreed her mink-coated friend. “Vulgar and wonderful. I quite
love this war. It has given me one more chance for a fling at life.”

“All out for England!” Cherry called into the megaphone. “Everybody
sing, ‘We’ll roll the old chariot along’.”

They sang. They roared. They sang.

  “If Hitler’s in the way, we’ll roll it over him.
  If Tubby’s in the way, we’ll roll it over him.
  If Il Duce’s in the way, we’ll roll it over him.
  If the devil’s in the way, we’ll roll it over him.
  We’ll roll the old chariot along
  And we won’t tag on behind.”

In the hush that followed, Cherry announced in a low, husky voice: “God
save the King.”

There followed a shuffling of feet. Every man, woman and child was on
his feet. Even the enemy planes above seemed to hush as the glorious
National Anthem rolled over England from Dover to Newcastle.

There were tears in the social service worker’s eyes as she took
Cherry’s hand. “You’ll come again, won’t you?” she said in a low voice
full of meaning. “Often and often.”

“If—if you need me,” was the quiet reply.

“And you said you couldn’t do it!” Dave laughed happily as he guided her
up the stairs and back to their sub-basement for one more cup of good
American coffee.

                              _Chapter_ IX
                              The Hideout

That night members of that motley subway throng shared their beds with
their new-found friends. Dave found a place with a young disabled
veteran of the battle of Flanders. They slept on a thin pad and were
covered by blankets none too thick. The subway was cold and drafty. For
two hours Dave lay there thinking. Those were long, long thoughts. Back
to the pictured walls of his mind came the peaceful pastures of Ramsey
Farm, the racing planes overhead, the falling bombs, and the drifting
parachutes. He rode once more with young Lord Applegate in that
two-seater. His blood raced again as they played hide-and-seek with an
enemy plane in the clouds. Again he heard the thundering crash of a bomb
that had exploded, not, he supposed, more than two blocks from where he
and Cherry had stood. What if it had been only one block, or no block at
all? He tried to think this last question through, and could not quite
make it. Nor could he answer to his complete satisfaction, his second
and third questions,—why had he come to England? And why did he not go
home? There would be a plane for Lisbon the day after tomorrow. Would he
take it? He doubted it. And yet it seemed to him a voice whispered, “It
is to this or no other. Think it over.” He did not think. Instead, he
fell asleep.

Cherry had been given a welcome by a bright young lady who sold shoes in
a great store. This young lady was wondering whether a bomb had
scattered her shoes over a city block, and her job with them. In the
midst of her chatter Cherry fell sound asleep.

Before they could leave the subway next morning two people were after

The manager of the radio station, who the night before had given Cherry
such a lukewarm reception, came bustling down the stairs. She, he said,
had been “Splendid! Splendid! Quite remarkable indeed! How the people
had taken to her! There had been wires, phone calls,—everything. Would
she come back at nine that night and sing at the studio? She should have
a competent accompanist and every courtesy. Would she come?”

“No.” Cherry favored him with her brightest smile. “I won’t sing in your
studio. I can’t sing in a stuffy little box with no one about except a
man in a glass case who waves his arms, pretends to cut his own throat
with his fingers, points to the tip of his nose, and goes through all
manner of other contortions just to tell me what to do.”

All this left the man staring at her, speechless.

“But if,”—Cherry burst into a merry laugh—“if you’ll let me sing on my
box with my glorious red-headed Irish girl to tickle the ivories, I’ll
come back, not tonight, but very soon, and often.”

“Oh! My dear child!” the manager exploded. “You are generosity itself.
But the subway is cold and drafty.”

“No place,” said Cherry, and she did not smile, “can be cold where so
many warm hearts are beating as one.”

The man stared at her in speechless silence for a moment. Then he
murmured, “May God forgive me if this child is not a genius.”

But here was her mother. She too had heard the broadcast and thought it
marvelous. This was her day off. Her small car was just around the
corner. She would take them back to Ramsey Farm in time for scrambled
eggs, coffee and scones. And she did.

Mrs. Ramsey, David realized at once, was a strong, efficient person,
with a will of her own. She directed the affairs of her household as the
O. C. directs his squadron. Breakfast over, she called in the entire
group to discuss farm affairs. She commended Jock for his fine job of
plowing, and the boys for their work in the turnips and Brussels sprout

“England is going to need food,” she declared. “We must all do our best.
The nights are growing cold. We may get a freeze at any time, so—oo—”

“So it’s the potatoes next.” Brand gave vent to a good-natured groan. He
hated picking up potatoes. Stooping over made his back ache. But theirs
was a fine crop, and it must be gathered in.

Jock got out the potato plow. Soon they were all hard at work. David
joined in. So too did Alice. Even the “enfants terrible”, Tillie and
Peggy, helped a little. They were, however, at their best throwing
clods, so in the end they were banished.

The place where the potatoes were stored held for Dave a real

“We call it the Hideout,” Alice explained, dropping down on a sack of
potatoes for a short rest. “It’s as old as the hills. Did you note the
moss on the roof?”

“Six inches thick,” Dave agreed. “And look at the walls! Solid masonry!”

“We believe it goes back to Feudal days.” Alice’s eyes took in the one
large room, its broad stone fireplace, two narrow windows, and massive
beams. “In those days it was a real hideout, I shouldn’t wonder,” she

“And might be again,” Dave suggested.

“Yes, if the Huns really come,” she agreed. “But they’ll never get this
far—England will beat them back even if they swarm in on the shore like
the waves of the sea.”

All that day Cherry sat curled up in a great chair before the fire in
the farmhouse kitchen. She sometimes slept, sometimes thought soberly,
and sometimes dreamed. To this her wise mother offered no objections.
Cherry, she realized for the first time, had a great gift. She might, it
seemed, be of extraordinary service to all England. She could bring them
the spirit of youth, buoy them up, give them courage for the great
ordeal that lay ahead.

The potatoes were stored in a narrow, dark underground tunnel that one
entered through a door at the back of the Hideout.

“A grand air raid shelter,” suggested Dave.

“Hope we never need it,” Alice replied soberly, “but you never can
tell.” Her brow wrinkled. She was thinking of the hole in the ground
where an ancient playhouse had once stood. “How about a tramp to the
village?” she suggested.

“O. K. by me,” said Dave. “I’ll see if my boots are finished.”

The boots were not finished. But then, boots at the cobbler’s never
are—at least, not the first time you call.

“You’ll have to pardon the delay,” the old man apologized. “So many boys
from the airdrome have brought in their boots.

“But things will go faster now.” His face brightened. “You see I have a

For the first time Dave noticed a short, sturdy young man sitting in the
corner. He was sewing on a sole and never once looked up.

Dave thought with a start, “He has a vaguely familiar look. But I’ve
never seen him before, that’s certain.”

“He does very fine work.” The old man rubbed his hands together. “Very
fine indeed.”

Appearing a little disturbed by Dave’s lingering look at the stranger,
old John followed him out of the shop to close the door behind him.
“He’s quite proper,” he said, jerking a thumb backward toward the shop.
“He looks like a German, but he’s a refugee, a Hollander. You


“His papers are in perfect order. I saw to that you may well believe.”
The old man laughed a trifle uncertainly. “Our local magistrate looked
over those papers for me,” he went on. “We can’t take chances. But this,
you see, is a rare opportunity. I’ve never made any real money, not in
all my long life. And now, with all these fliers coming in—”

“Gives you a break,” said Dave. “I wish you lots of luck.” As it turned
out, the old man was to need it,—lots and lots of luck.

When the cobbler opened the door to retrace his steps, Flash, the
collie, who had come up as a sort of vanguard to Alice, put his nose in
at the cobbler’s door, gave a long sniff, then uttered a low growl.

“Well now, I wonder what he means by that?” Dave thought as he hurried
away to join Alice.

That night, after the others had retired, Mrs. Ramsey, Dave and Brand
sat for a long time silently watching the fading glow of the wood fire.

“Mother,” Brand said suddenly, “I’d like to join the Royal Air Force.”

“Oh! No!” The mother’s words came short and quick. “You are needed here.
Besides, there’s little enough for our aviators to do now. After the
beating up we gave them, the Jerries, as you call them, are only coming
over at night. You can’t find them at night. That’s work for the
anti-aircraft batteries.”

“I’m not so sure of that,” Brand murmured beneath his breath. “But
mother,” his voice rose, “the Huns may come over, a million of them, by
air and sea, perhaps tomorrow. We must be prepared!”

“And we must be fed,” his mother replied quietly. “Perhaps later—” She
did not finish. She knew a great deal about war, did the brave-hearted
English mother.

“Wars,” said David, speaking before he thought, “are wrong. There should
be no wars.”

Instantly the woman’s slow, steady gaze was upon him. “She’s angry with
me,” he thought. His lips were parted for the words, “I’m sorry.”

But she spoke first. “You are exactly right, David. Wars are terrible. I
should know. Wars have cost me those I loved far more than life. Now
another war may cost me my son, and perhaps my daughters.

“Some of us,” she went on, “did what we could to prevent this war. We
failed. Why? Perhaps none of us will ever know for sure.

“However,” her voice was steady and sure, “we have a war. We have no
choice but to fight it. We must fight or be enslaved. Our enemy has left
no room for doubt there. England has always been free.”

After that for some time, save for the slow, steady tick—tock—tick—tock
of the dependable old English clock in the corner, there was silence in
the great room.

Later, as they stood outside beneath the stars, Brand told Dave that for
more than a year the Young Lord had been training him, teaching him how
to become a fighter. “And he’s a real fighter himself, you may be sure
of that.” His voice was low and strong. “He’s no braggart like some of
those flying Huns. He has a real record all the same. He flew in France
during the Blitzkrieg. Sometimes it was ten Messerschmitts to his one
Hurricane. He got two of them. That was just one time. There were many
others. You just wait!” His voice rose sharply. “I’ll be right up there
beside him in a Tomahawk one of these days!”

Would he? Dave wondered.

                              _Chapter_ X
                              First Blood

Next day, just after lunch, feeling very much like a small boy slipping
away to go fishing, Dave made his way toward the airdrome. He wanted, he
told himself, to study a Spitfire. He had seen that one in action over
the farm on the day of that air battle. It had fascinated him. Truth
was, he hoped to run across the Young Lord and perhaps to be invited for
one more ride in that two-seater. There was, he realized, a slight
element of danger in such an excursion, just enough to give it tang,
like a frosty morning.

He was not to be disappointed. Lieutenant Applegate was just having the
machine rolled out.

“Greetings!” he cried. “Just in time! But then,” his voice changed. “I
must not tempt you too much. This, you will understand, is our life. It
is easy to ask too much of one who is not in on the great game.”

“I’ll be glad to go up again,” Dave said quietly. “To tell you the
truth, that’s what I had hoped to do.”

“Righto! Climb in!” Applegate exclaimed. “You see,” he added, “we’re
just giving this ship a tryout. Perhaps after we’ve done a stretch of
patrol, we’ll ask the ground crew to run up a sky target and I’ll let
you have a try at it with a few bursts of machine gun fire.”

“Oh!” Dave caught his breath sharply. But if he had known!

“We’ve always got more men than ships,” Applegate went on. “So if two
men in a ship like this, by dividing the things to worry about, like
dials, controls, gun-sights and all, can accomplish more than one, why
then, that’s the berries. What say? Shall we be away?”

Dave nodded. Then they were off and away into the blue.

As on that other day, the sky was magnificent—bright blue, with clouds
like huge cotton balls floating through it. Dave could not recall a
moment in his life he had enjoyed so much. There was the thrill of
speeding through space at three hundred and better miles an hour, and of
looking down upon a world that was entirely new to him. Added to this—a
real dash of red pepper—was the possibility that they might—just might
bump into an enemy craft. Did he wish the last? He could not tell.
Flying was strange. It was like a game, basketball or football—you went
into it cold. As your blood warmed, a certain reckless daring came over
you. You didn’t will it, perhaps did not, in your sober moments, so much
as want it. It was there, and for the time being you could but yield to
its urge.

Today it was just like that. Now diving into a fleecy cloud, they were
lost to the entire world. But not for long. Like a dove flying from a
cloud in a picture postcard, they glided once more into the bright

Little patches and squares, forests, fields, homesteads, lovely villages
all lay beneath them.

Seized with a sudden impulse, Dave spoke hoarsely into his mouthpiece:
“Let me take her for a minute.” Ten seconds later he was working the
joystick and Applegate, like an old lady in a wheelchair, was lolling
back in his place.

But not for long. Suddenly Applegate straightened up, shaded his eyes,
stared straight ahead, reached for his field glass, looked again, then
said in a cheerful voice:

“See that long white cloud over to the left?”

“Ye—yes.” Dave’s heart pounded, he scarcely knew why.

“Swing over into it, then stay in it, going straight down it toward the
channel. It must be all of four miles long. I—I rather smell a Hun.”

Dave obeyed instructions. The world was again lost to view.

Their journey along that cloud could scarcely have lasted two minutes,
but to Dave that seemed a long, long hour. What was beyond the other end
of the cloud? Something, he was sure. Did it mean a fight? He hadn’t
counted on that. This was not his war. Was he sorry? He did not know.
The ways of a human mind are past finding out.

Then, as if their plane had given a sudden leap, they were out of the
cloud. And there, off a little to the right, was a dark spot against the
blue of the sky.

The Lieutenant made one gesture, a stiff arm, pointing. That was all.

They were a full ten minutes coming within striking distance of that
large plane. Every second of that exciting race Dave expected his
companion to take over his controls, and all the time he remained
silent, impassive.

At last, in a calm, even tone, he spoke: “That’s a Dornier. London took
a terrific beating last night. Many women and children were killed or
injured. That Dornier’s been taking pictures so they can find fresh
spots to bomb. His pictures must not reach Allemond. We must get him.”
His words were like rasping steel. Even then he did not take the

A strange, cold wrath took possession of Dave’s entire being. “Women and
children killed and injured.” He did not want the Young Lord to take the
controls. And he knew what was to be done. He wanted to do it, at all

Dropping a little below the flying level of the Dornier, he added a
little speed, then streaked straight on. His heart was pounding, but his
head was clear. At last, having risen to the attack, they were within
striking distance.

“It’s football,” he was thinking calmly. “That Dornier’s got the ball.
But in the end, it’ll be thrown for a loss.”

Even as he thought this, the Dornier banked sharply to soar away to the
left. At the same time the air was ripped,—rat—rat—rat. The side shots
from the Dornier went wild.

Once again they were after the foe. Once more they were all but upon the
enemy’s tail when he swung sharply to the left. From the Dornier’s side
came a wild burst of gunfire.

“Wasting his slugs,” Applegate exulted. “Keep right after him.” His hand
was on the firing button. One push and eight guns would spray death,
nearly ten thousand shots a minute. He could wait. It took just ten
seconds when everything was right.

On the tip of Dave’s tongue were the words; “Here, take the controls.”
He did not say them. His tongue would not waggle that way.

The Dornier took a nose-dive. When he came out of it the two-seater was
with him. He tried climbing. No use. They could outclimb him, two to

Once again he straightened out, then curved to the right.

Recalling how so very often a football runner will repeat a pattern, a
dash to the right, one to left, then straight ahead, Dave worked out a
plan. Would it succeed? Only time, a terribly short time, could tell.

True to his pattern the Dornier pilot banked first right, then left, and
after that went into a power dive.

Measuring this dive with greatest accuracy, Dave managed to come out of
his own dive just in time to glide squarely up on the enemy’s tail.

Squinting through his sight, the Lieutenant gripped his gun control and
waited. Dave found himself counting, “One—two—three.” Then came a sudden
burst of sound that all but startled him into a tail spin.

Regaining his control, he shot heavenward.

The Dornier had received a ten-second burst of gunfire, hundreds of
slugs, straight down her pencil-like fuselage. What would be the result?
They must wait and see.

The Dornier lost its steady, straight onward flight. It began to smoke,
then to lose altitude. Just then it went into a cloud.

“Dumb!” said Harmon.

Fearlessly Dave drove into that cloud. It was a long one. A full minute
passed, another, and they were out.

Beyond them now was all clear, blue sky. There was no spot against that
patch of blue.

The Young Lord took the controls. They spiralled downward toward the
sea. At last they were beneath the cloud. There was nothing hiding
there. But on the surface of the sea was a white spot. It was not foam.
There were no white-caps.

“Good!” exclaimed the Young Lord. “We’ll head for home. If we hurry a
bit we’ll be in time for tea.” And they were.

“We got that Dornier right enough,” the Young Lord whispered the minute
they were on solid ground again. “But not a word about this! It’s
frightfully irregular, I’m afraid.”

“I’m sure it is,” Dave agreed.

“And after all, it’s not your war,” his companion added.

“No. Of course not,” Dave agreed. “It’s not my war.” For the first time
in his life those words seemed a bit strange.

At headquarters Dave asked for coffee and got it, good coffee served by
a bright faced English girl.

He had just taken his first swallow when two young men entered. At once
the Young Lord was on his feet.

The slim, dark-eyed one of the new arrivals said: “As you were.” At once
tension relaxed.

“Commander Knox,” said the Young Lord, “I want you to meet my friend
Dave Barnes from America. He thinks he can fly.” He grinned slyly.

“All Americans think that.” The Squad Commander chuckled. “Didn’t you
ever notice that?”

“Yes—yes I have,” the Young Lord agreed. “And mostly they can’t. But
this chap,”—he gave Dave a quick grin—“I shouldn’t wonder if he could
fly. Oh, just the least little bit.”

“You wouldn’t be spoofing us?” said the red-headed companion of the
Commander. He was grinning broadly.

“No one could spoof you!” the Young Lord laughed. “You’ve already been

“Dave,” he said, turning to his companion, “meet the singing murderer.
We call him the Lark because he sings as he flies. You should hear him
roaring away! He sings ‘On the Road to Mandalay’ while he swoops down on
the tail of some unsuspecting Messerschmitt and blasts him from the

“That,” said the Lark without smiling, “may be a joke. It works for all
that. I learned the trick when I was a boy fishing for salmon in
Scotland. If I could whistle, carrying a tune, while I was landing a big
one, I’d not get excited and I’d land my fish. It’s the same with the
sky fighting. If you can carry a tune in the thick of it—”

“If you can,” laughed Dave, “then I’ll say you’re good!”

“He’s right as he possibly can be,” said the Commander.

“The good old Leader of Squadron 73 over in France used to say: ‘Boys,
you may have as many good points as you like, but two are absolutely
necessary: courage that will stick, and an unfailing sense of humor.
Nothing keeps up a fellow’s sense of humor better than a song.’

“Guess we’ll have to toddle along.” The Commander moved away. “Good to
have met you, Barnes. If you can really fly, and I must say you do look
the part, we’ll sign you up just any time you say.” At that he and the
Lark vanished through the swinging doors.

As Dave stared after them, awed respect was registered in his eyes. “So
he was with Squadron 73!” he murmured.

“Sure was.” Applegate beamed. “In France, all the way, right through the
Blitzkrieg. That was the fightingest aggregation that ever flew in
formation. They shot down more than a hundred planes for sure, and sent
a likely hundred more limping home.”

“How many came back to tell the story?” Dave was visibly impressed.

“Nearly all,” was the reply. “I think they lost two commissioned and two
non-commissioned officers. That was all.”

“Sayee!” Dave murmured. “Air fighting is almost as safe as football!”

“Absolutely,” his companion agreed. “Providing you know your stuff and
have been born in the air.”

“And that,” Dave thought, as he started for home some little time later,
“is how I keep out of this man’s war. I’d better look up the plane
schedule to Lisbon tomorrow.” But would he?

                              _Chapter_ XI
                            Cobbler or Spy?

Dave walked toward Ramsey Farm in a thoughtful mood. Always for him, in
the past, the ability to do a thing well had meant a clear track ahead.
“But now,” he whispered, stopping stock still in the road to think. With
the Young Lord’s help he had accomplished something that in this
war-shattered land seemed rather more than well worth doing.

There was nothing startling about the part he had played. Back in
America his uncle, a World War ace, had put him through his paces, that
was all. In a staunch old two-seater they had banked, rolled, power
dived and looped the loop until he really knew how. What fun it had
been! He had not thought of it as preparation for anything. Yet today,
when the test came, he was prepared. Yes, the ability to do a thing had
always meant “Go ahead.”

“I could do it all again,” he assured himself as he thought of the day’s

For a moment more he stood there looking at the blue sky, white clouds,
and gay autumn leaves that were England at her best. “This is England,”
he whispered, “Bit by bit it is being destroyed by one man’s hate and
lust for power.”

“Damn!” he swore softly. Then he hurried on.

He decided to take the long way home, the road that ran through
Warmington. “Shoemakers,” he thought, “always have your work finished
the second time, never the first. My boots will be done.”

“Here you are, sir,” said old John, handing out a neat package and
taking the pay. “I ’opes you find them satisfactory, sir.”

“Oh, I shall, I am sure,” Dave said absent-mindedly. He was not thinking
of the boots. His eyes were once more upon the young cobbler in the far
corner. As before, his face hidden, he was bent low over his work.

“I ’opes you’ve ’ad a pleasant afternoon,” said old John.

“Oh! Very!” said Dave.

“If he only knew,” he murmured with a low laugh after he had left the

Across the street was the village Pub. Its sign proclaimed it to be Ye
Old Angel Inn. How long did an angel have to live in order to be
considered really old, Dave asked himself whimsically. He had thought of
angels as being ageless. Perhaps there weren’t any angels after all. He
had once seen a picture of a French war plane going down in flames, and
of two angels waiting, with hands crossed, to catch the unhappy pilot as
he fell. “Shall I ever be in need of two angels?” he asked himself

He crossed the street to enter Ye Old Angel Inn. He liked these English
Pubs. They were village clubs. There was about them a pleasant aroma of
beef roasting over an open fire, of hot toddy and strange English
tobacco. He could, he thought, stand for one more cup of coffee. The
weather had suddenly turned cloudy, damp and cold.

The coffee was good. He lingered over it, then ordered a second cup.

As he sat there he heard voices. Two villagers sat at a table in the
corner drinking hot toddy.

“I’m tellin’ ye now, James,” one voice rose sharply, “’e’s nothin’ more
nor less than a bloomin’ Jerry. ’E’s a spy, that ’e is.”

“Aw now, Danny,” the other admonished, “you know what old John told you
’e is. ’E’s ’Ollander, no more, nor no less. ’Is papers they is all in

“I know. I know,” Danny agreed petulantly. “But that don’t make it so.
You know as well as I know ’ow easy as nothin’ it is fer a Jerry to git
papers fixed to suit ’is own self.

“Now look, Jimmy.” Danny’s voice dropped. “Ye mind the last war. There
were our castle, Warmington Castle, as fine an hedifice as there be in
all Hengland. An’ what ’appens? Ramsey, over at the farm, ’e ’ires
’imself a Jerry, a prisoner of war ’e was. ’e treats ’im like a
long-lost brother, Ramsey does. An’ what ’appens? I asks you, what

“It weren’t never proved that it were this Jerry that signaled to the
bloomin’ airplane that come over an’ blasted the castle,” James

“I know—I know. But who would doubt it?”

And so the argument ended. Dave finished his coffee, then wandered out
into the chill of falling night. Danny and James had given him fresh
food for serious thought.

Cherry was booked for a return to her subway studio on the following
evening. Dave spent the greater part of that day teaching her a new
song. He knew the tune and could pick it out for her on the piano. By
great good fortune he found the words written out in longhand on a scrap
of paper in his Sunday clothes.

“It’s not a new song,” he told her. “In fact, it’s more than twenty
years old. An orchestra leader named Orrin Tucker dug it out of the file
and gave it to his little five-foot singing doll named Bonnie Baker.
It’s gone across America like a Nebraska cyclone. This is it:

  “Oh! Johnny! Oh! Johnny!
  How you can love!
  Oh! Johnny! Oh! Johnny!
  Heavens above.”

“Catchy,” said Cherry, beginning to hum it.

Catchy was right, and Cherry was the one person in all the world to set
England on fire with it.

That night in the chill damp of the subway, she sang it over and over.
Next day in the airdromes and factories, barracks, schools, stores and
on the street, one might hear: “Oh! Johnny! Oh! Johnny!”

The song was made. So too was Cherry. In the days that followed she was
to become the sweetheart of all England. Newspapers were to print her
picture in color. These pictures were to appear on the rough board walls
of cantonments all over England, and in the cabins of boats, large and
small, sailing the dangerous North Sea.

She was to be taken up by the nobility. Lady Perkins, a friend of the
Young Lord, who lived in London, was to make her a part of her
household, with privilege of coming and going as she pleased.

Only now and then did she sleep with some working girls in the subway.
Most nights after the “all clear” had sounded, she sped away to creep
beneath downy covers in a wing of Lady Perkins’ mammoth old home.

“It’s not that I crave magnificence,” she confided to Dave, “It’s just
that I must have rest. It—well, you see—it all must seem so simple and
easy, my singing. And it truly is, but,”—she heaved a sigh—“when it’s
all over, I’m a rag.”

“I know,” Dave agreed. “It’s always that way. The thing you do with
apparent ease because you have yourself under perfect carefree control,
is just the thing that takes it out of you.”

By himself later, Dave recalled words of a great old poem:

  “If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
  And walk with kings, nor lose the common touch,—”

“That,” he told himself, “is just what Cherry can do. And nothing can
ever spoil her.”

If he had quoted from that same poem:

  “If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
  And treat those two impostors just the same,—”

he would have been telling Cherry’s fortune, for Cherry was to meet with
both Triumph and Disaster.

                             _Chapter_ XII
                          “The House Is Gone”

It happened, or shall we say began, on a Sunday night. During the many
days previous to this, things had picked up little by little in Cherry’s
subway radio studio. One evening the little Irish girl who played the
piano had brought in a young fellow with a shabby violin case under his
arm. “Can you play it?” Cherry asked.

“A little,” was the modest reply.

The young fellow, who had gone through all the horrors of the Battle of
Flanders and Dunkirk, was Scotch. He could do weird things with that
violin. With it alone he could make you believe that a score or more of
bagpipers were marching down the street. And when it came to that mellow
old Scotch song:

  “Flow gently, Sweet Afton
  Among thy green braes
  Flow gently. I’ll sing thee
  A song in thy praise.”

he could bring a happy tear to many a tired eye. So he was given a place
on the program, and weary Cherry sang a little less than before.

Other musicians wandered in. Where they all came from no one will ever
know. Next there came a cellist, then a drummer, two bass viols, two
clarinets, two more violins, a gypsy girl with tambourine and
castanets,—all these and half a dozen others wandered in. After that
they had an orchestra. There was not an “artist” in the hard and fast
meaning of the word among them all, but they could roll the barrel, set
Johnny loving, swing the chariot low, roll the old chariot along, and do
a hundred other songs dear to the hearts of the good common people of
old England and to many another who did not consider himself quite so

All this gave Cherry a breathing spell now and then. But when the
members of the orchestra had each done his bit for just so long, there
would come calls from all down the subway:

“Cherry! Cherry! We want Cherry! We want the Singin’ Angel.”

The Singin’ Angel, that is what they came at last to call her. That was
because of Sunday nights, for on that night they left the Old Chariot at
home, put lovin’ Johnny to bed early, rolled the barrel far back in the
corner, and pushed “The Old Rugged Cross” right out in front.

No one seemed to mind. Indeed they appeared to love that hour of the
week best of all. In times such as this people cling to their religion.
One moment “Rock of Ages, Cleft for Me” would go rolling on and on from
end to end of the subway.

Some one in the orchestra would start “Throw Out The Lifeline to danger
frought men.”

Then Cherry in her strong young voice would sing:

  “When all my trials and troubles are o’er
  And I am safe on that beautiful shore
    That will be glory, be glory for me.”

“Now!” she would cry. “Everybody sing!”

  “Oh! That will be glory for me,
  Glory for me, glory for me.”

Yes, religion seemed very real on these Sunday nights. On this
particular night, it was midnight when Cherry reached Lady Perkins’
home. She remembered it afterward, for at that very moment Big Ben was
gloriously booming the hour of twelve.

She had walked home alone. It was not far. She let herself in with her
latchkey. The “all clear” had sounded, so, feeling weary and happy all
in one, she stretched out on her bed fully dressed, and fell asleep.

She was dreaming of quiet, sleepy hours, with Flash at her side, while
her sheep wandered over the hillside at Ramsey Farm, when suddenly it
seemed that a mighty thunderstorm had stolen upon her unawares and that
the very hill was being rocked by its roaring.

She awoke standing in the center of the room. Her knees trembled so she
could scarcely stand. The floor beneath her vibrated like a ship in a
storm. From all about her came strange crashes like walls falling one
upon another.

She tried to call, but could only whisper. A narrow crack of light
appeared before her. A board in the door had been split. She stepped to
the door and opened it. Then, catching herself, she started back to
whisper in dismay:

“It’s gone! The house is gone! Only my room is here!”

That was not quite true. Of that spacious home only three rooms
remained—her own and two others. A half-ton bomb had scattered the rest.

Recalling that the French windows of her room opened out on a court, she
sprang to the nearest one. Then she was out and away.

A weird light from a flare sent down by the enemy illuminated the
street. Once on that street she began to run. In all her fright and
confusion she had a vague plan. Dave was spending the night with his
uncle. She knew the address. Was it far? She did not know. All she knew
was that somehow she must get there.

She had gone but a block when she ran squarely into the arms of a
six-foot policeman.

“Here now, Miss! What’s this?” His voice had a kindly rumble.

“The house!” she cried. “Lady Perkins’ house! It’s gone!”

“Yes,” he agreed. “It was a terrible bomb. The firemen are just there
now. Thank God Lady Perkins and all were away.”

“No!” Cherry whispered. “I was there.”

“You?” The Bobby looked her over. “You were there? And who now might you

“I—I’m Cherry.”

“What? The Singin’ Angel?” He looked her in the face. “Bless me heart it
is now! What do you know about that! Bless the Lord you are safe.”

“I can’t talk.” The girl’s head drooped. “I can’t sing. I—I want to go
to Dave’s Uncle’s place.” In her fright she was like a child.

“And where would that be?”

She gave him the address. He read it, then blew a whistle. A man

“Jim,” he said, “this is Cherry, the Singin’ Angel. God’s own child she

“The Singin’ Angel!” Jim’s jaw dropped.

“None other,” said the Bobby. “An’ you’re to take her to this address.
Mind you drive careful, careful and steady as ye would if it were the
Christ Child you’re ’avin in yer car.”

Jim’s car was old and dilapidated, but to Cherry it was the latest model
of a Rolls Royce and its cushions as soft as down, for was it not taking
her to her friends?

Arrived at the house, in the presence of Dave’s tall, gray-haired uncle,
she disgraced herself by throwing herself in Dave’s arms. Then she wept
like a child.

This storm over, she felt better. Two cups of strong tea revived her
spirits but not her voice. She could only whisper as she said: “Dave,
please take me home, back to the farm.”

“At this hour of the night?” Dave stared.

“I’ll have a car for you at once,” said the kindly gray-haired uncle.
“Dave, my boy, London’s no place for a girl who has gone through what
this girl has tonight.”

All the way home Dave had an arm about Cherry. She cuddled close to him,
as a scared child would and they were not ashamed.

Arrived at the farm, they quietly dismissed the driver. Arousing no one,
they sat before the half-burned-out kitchen fire for a time. When at
last Dave felt the trembling quiver of her shoulders pass away, he said

“You’d better turn in for a little sleep.”

“Dave,” she whispered. “My voice is gone. I can’t sing any more.”

“Fright. That’s all.” Dave tried to reassure her. “It will come back.”

Would it? He wondered as he watched her make her way slowly, dreamily,
like a sleep-walker, up the stairs.

                             _Chapter_ XIII
                         Lull Before the Storm

Until one P. M. the next day Cherry was lost to the world. At last she
stirred beneath her rare old English blankets, opened her eyes, stared
about her, tried to remember, then began trying to forget.

In slippers and bathrobe she crept down to the kitchen where the cook
served her with very strong tea and a small, delicious meat pie. After
that she curled up in the big chair before the fire and once again fell

It was only on the morning of the second day that she found courage to
face life as it was. The home in London in which she had been given
royal welcome was gone. She could barely whisper. Would her voice come
back? What of her people there in the subway? The little Irish girl, the
Scotch fiddler, and all the rest, were they carrying on?

“Yes,” she assured herself as a fresh glow of hope overflowed her being,
“They are right there doing their bit.”

Breakfast over, with Flash at her heels, she once again led her small
flock of sheep out to the frostbitten, sunlit pasture. There, after
spreading a blanket on a rock, she lay for a long time staring up at the
sun. It seemed to her, at that moment, that all that terrible war was
but a bad dream, that it never had happened, that all the world was as
much at peace as was her sunny pasture.

The drone of airplane motors, followed by machine-guns tearing at the
sky drove this illusion from her mind. The war was real, terribly real.
It must be faced with eyes open and mind alert.

It was there on the rock that her brother found her. “So they drove you
out of London? The dirty Huns!” he exclaimed, dropping to a seat beside
her. “Cherry!” There were lines of fierce determination in his face,
“I’m going to join up with the Royal Air Force.”

For a full minute she made no reply, just sat staring at the cloudless
sky. Perhaps she was thinking of the good times they had had together,
fishing and swimming in summer, tobogganing and skiing in winter. And on
rainy days there had been games before the open fire.

“Yes,” she whispered at last, as color flooded back into her face, “you
must join up, Brand. Everyone must. Those marvelous people, the women,
the children must come out of the subway. They must sleep again in their
own homes in peace.”

“I—I’m glad you feel that way.” Brand swallowed hard. “That—that’s going
to make it easier. You and I have been pals, Cherry, all these years.

“I’ll tell you,” his voice picked up. “It’s a great secret. We’ve been
training, Dave and I, training for two weeks. Training like everything.”

“D—Dave,” she whispered. “Why! He’s an American! This is not his war.”

“That’s what he thought,” Brand laughed low. “Perhaps he still thinks
it, in a way. But he’ll join up. You wait! The young Lord says he will,
and he usually knows.”

“The—the young Lord?” Cherry whispered.

“Yes, there’s part of the secret. He’s had two week’s leave. He’s been
training us in the back pasture. Of course we’ve each done a lot of
flying but this is special, regular fighting stuff, parachutes and
everything. And, Cherry, cross your heart and hope to die if I tell

“Cross—cross my heart.”

“All right. Dave’s already been in a day fight. He and the young Lord
got a Dornier! Boy, that was great! I wish I’d been in it with them.”

“Dave in an air battle?” The girl stared.

“Certainly was, and did his part nobly.”

While Cherry sat listening, breathless, Brand described Dave’s adventure
in the clouds that day over England and the channel.

“Dave never whispered a word about it to me,” she said when the story
was told. Her shining eyes showed that the American boy stood out in her
mind as a hero.

“Dave can keep a secret,” said Brand. “That’s why we all like him.”

“But you shouldn’t try to drag him into the war,” Cherry replied
thoughtfully. “England is not his country.”

“He’ll decide about that for himself when the time comes.” Brand sent a
small rock skipping down the hill. “He talked it all over with his uncle
in London two weeks ago. His uncle advised him to get all the flying
experience he could. He thinks America will be in the war soon. Then
Dave will be in it for sure. Great old boy, his uncle, a real sport. He
was in the other war, an ace flyer. Thinks the air service is trumps.
And who wouldn’t?” Brand’s face shone with enthusiasm. “Boy it’s great!
All of it.” He sprang to his feet. “Even baling out. First time I
stepped into space with a parachute on my back I thought my heart would
jump out of my mouth. But when the old silk took hold and I drifted
slowly down, Baby! That was swell! I’ve baled out twenty times since
then—just practice you know. Now it’s as natural as swimming.”

“Brand?” Cherry whispered. “I’ve lost my voice. They say it will come
back. I—I don’t know. Can’t do my share. You’ll have to carry on. How I
wish I’d been born a boy!”

“Buck up, old girl!” Brand exclaimed cheerfully, “you’ll be right back
in there again before you know it.

“And even if you aren’t,” he added soberly, “you’ve already done more
than any other gal in Merry England to help folks keep heads up and
hopes high. That’s a whole great big lot.”

At that he went marching back down the hill.

“Great doings these last two weeks,” he thought to himself. They had
worked hard all of them. Truck loads of Brussels sprouts, turnips,
carrots, apples and pears had been sent rumbling on their way to London.
All their winter’s supplies had been safely stowed away. Beside this
they had found time each day for two hours of practice flying. “There’s
mother,” he thought soberly. “Somehow, I’ll have to win her over.” Had
he but known it his hated enemies, the Jerries, were to give him a lift
with his mother.

Dave too had been thinking of his mother. As he sat by the open fire
with Cherry that evening, he said:

“Just had a letter from my mother.”

“I hope she’s well,” Cherry replied in her polite, English manner.

“Oh! Always!” Dave laughed. “She’s closing our New England home and
going with my aunt to Florida. She has an independent income so she gets

“What does one do in Florida?” Cherry asked.

“Oh, bask in the sun until you’re brown, swim, play tennis, go tarpon
fishing,” Dave drawled lazily.

“Sounds rather dreamy.”

“It is, and unreal too. Do you know?” Dave exclaimed, “I haven’t thought
of it before but since I came to England I’ve really just started to

“I—I’m glad,” Cherry whispered. “I’ve often thought—” She broke off to

“Enemy planes,” she whispered.

“Bombers!” Dave nodded.

“Sound as if they were right overhead. And they seem so low.” Cherry

A half minute followed without a sound save the tick-tock of the tall
old clock and the drone overhead.

Then, of a sudden, with a throaty whisper ten times more startling than
a cry, Cherry sprang from her seat.

The stillness of the countryside had been shattered by a crash that
appeared to come from their own farmyard. Truth was, a bomb had fallen
on their village two miles away.

                             _Chapter_ XIV
                            A Dungeon Night

There came a second blast. A deathlike silence followed. This was soon
enough shattered by the anxious call of the cook, demanding to know if
all were well and by the excited cry of the children. Then, from
outside, came the honk of an auto horn.

The door swung open. A voice shouted:

“All out for a moonlit visit to the ancient Norman castle.”

It was the young Lord Applegate. “Pile into the car, all of you.” His
tone was sharp, commanding. “This is going to be bad. A dozen Jerry
bombers circling around looking for targets, and the moon making
everything bright as day. Your broad roof shows up all too clearly.”

Dashing to the corner of the room, Dave seized two buckets of water to
drench the fire. They were to recall this act later, with thanksgiving.

In an incredibly short time they were all crowded into the big car and

Through the back window of the racing car Alice caught a fleeting
glimpse of her home, the only home she had ever known. Standing there in
the cool, shadowy moonlight, with great trees banked behind it, the old
house seemed a thing of indescribable beauty. Yet the word that came to
the girl’s mind was “lonely”. For a space of seconds it seemed to her
that she must leap from the car and race back to be with the dear old
house in its great time of trial.

This was but a fleeting fancy. A turn in the road shut the place from
her view. She heard the young Lord saying:

“I’ve fixed up an air raid shelter in the dungeon of the castle. It’s
thirty steps down, walled over with massive rocks. Even had an oil
heater installed. We’ll be safe and comfortable there.”

“Safe and comfortable,” Alice thought angrily. “In an insane, upside
down world such as this, who wanted to be comfortable and safe?”

This too she realized was a wrong slant on life. “Comfort and safety,”
she assured herself, “are two of the great necessities of life. For, on
the morrow, there is work to be done.” At that she did not know the half
of it.

Warmington Castle, a great, square mass of masonry, looming a hundred
feet above the meadows, greeted them as they took one more curve in the
road. A minute more and there they were.

With the droning of heavy motors still in their ears, they hurried down
one narrow stairs, then another, to find themselves in a rather large
windowless room where candles blinked at them from every corner and an
oil stove glowed warmly up at them.

Lady Applegate, a frail, nervous little lady, greeted them with jittery
handshakes and an uncertain smile. Her husband had died from wounds
received in that other war. And now this! “Poor soul,” thought Alice.

As if to guard her from bombs, the Lady’s servants, butler, cook, and
two maids, sat clustered about her.

Dave was not long in the dungeon. Having wished to witness an air-raid
he took the thing by the bit and hurried back up the stairs. Flash, the
collie, it would seem, was of the same mind. He followed him out.

As if in search of fresh targets, just any roof gleaming up from the
moonlit night, giant planes were still circling. Dave strained his eyes
for a glimpse of them.

“That’s the plague of it,” he grumbled. “If you could see them you could
blast them from the sky even at night.”

Backing away, he studied the mass of masonry above him. More a fort than
a castle, it had stood there for hundreds of years. Bombs had shattered
it more than twenty years before. But the tower, with stairway leading
to the top, still stood. He was considering climbing those stairs for a
better view of the sky, when, a sudden discovery left him standing there
quite motionless. From the very top of that tower had come a flash of

“Spy!” His mind registered like a recording machine. “Flashing signals!”

That was enough. Two steps at a time, with the collie at his heels, he
went up those stairs. What was he to do? There were times when he
believed in revelations straight from the Divine Will. He would know
what was to be done when the time came.

Approaching the top, he went on tiptoe. Unfortunately Flash could not
know the need for breathless silence. He uttered a low growl.

Instantly there came a crash. Something had fallen. There was the sound
of shuffling footsteps.

The tower, a mass of standing pillars and tumbled stone, offered a
splendid hiding place. One might hide from a man, not from a dog. Dave
had, for the instant, forgotten the dog. Springing forward, he all but
fell over some large, dark object. Bending over, he picked the thing up.
“Some instrument, perhaps a—”

His thoughts broke off. The dog had found the fugitive. There came a
muttered guttural curse, a sound of a solid impact, the howl of the dog,
and after that scurrying footsteps.

At that instant the instrument in Dave’s hand gave forth a flood of
light. The light fell full upon the fleeting figure of a man. The man
turned half about. Having caught the fellow’s profile in bold relief,
Dave recognized him instantly. And then the fugitive, with the dog at
his heels, plunged down the narrow, winding stairs.

Dave was fast, but not fast enough. Once, as he raced down those stairs,
he caught a glimpse of man and dog. Then he tripped over a broken step,
plunged downward, hit his head against the wall, was out for thirty
seconds, and so lost the race.

He arrived at the castle door just in time to see two fleeting shadows,
a man and a dog, lose themselves in the deeper shadow of a small, low
stone structure fifty yards or more from the castle.

As he stood balanced on the threshold he suddenly became conscious of a
tremendous roar overhead. It seemed that one of those tri-motored
bombers must crash against the castle’s tower. And then?

In sudden terror he fairly tumbled down two flights of stairs, banged
against the massive iron-bound door to the dungeon, tumbled through and
slammed the door behind him, just as a terrific blast set the castle
shuddering from towers to dungeon.

In the moments that followed they could hear the dull thud of masonry
falling. But it all seemed very far away, like part of a bad dream.

There came a second crash, a third. Then all was silent and the ghosts
that perhaps haunted this dungeon, spirits of those who suffered here in
solitary confinement centuries ago, might, Dave supposed, walk in peace.

It was Alice who broke that silence. Her voice was as calm and restful
as it would have been were she seated before the fire in her own
kitchen. She was speaking to the two waifs from London’s slums. They
were curled up beside her on an ancient stone bench.

“Yes, children,” was her answer to a whispered question, “Louise and
Charlotte, the two lady spies, lived and worked as spies for a long
time. They performed many daring feats.

“You know,” she went on, and they were all listening now, “Louise and
Charlotte always had messages to carry across the line. In places there
was a river to cross. Always there was the terrible wall of barbed wire
and traps. Louise, who could not swim and dared not trust a boat, went
across the river many times on a large chopping bowl.”

“Funny little boat,” Peggy whispered.

“They used strange devices for hiding their messages.” Alice had a good
memory. “Once when Louise was arrested she threw a black ball of yarn
into the brush at the side of the road but held to the end until it had
landed. The message was wound inside the ball of yarn.”

“They didn’t find it. That was good!” Tillie whispered. “Go on! What

“Once the two girl spies seemed to be going on a picnic. They were
munching bread and sausages as they marched along. Once more they were
searched. Nothing was found. The message was in Louise’s sausage.

“Oh yes,” Alice drew a heavy sigh. “Those two girls did marvelous things
for their country. They set up a secret radio and sent over messages.
They trained carrier pigeons to take messages across the line. Daring
Frenchmen were carried over the line in airplanes to spy out the enemy’s
defenses. Louise helped them.

“And after that,” the story teller sighed more deeply, “there came
darker days. The enemy counter-spies wove a web of evidence about them.
They were arrested. Evidence was produced. They were court-martialed.
The sentence was: ‘For Louise, death. For Charlotte, death.’”

“And—and were they really shot?” Peggy whispered with a shudder.

“Not yet.” Alice’s voice was low. “Their prison keeper had come to
respect and love them as if they were his children.

“‘Poor souls’, he said, ‘So they have condemned you to die? Ask what you
will. It shall be granted.’

“When the day for their execution was near,” Alice went on, “they
requested that they might spend their last night on earth together.

“The keeper carried this request to the governor. He returned with a
radiant face. ‘He has refused it,’ he whispered to Louise. Thank God! It
means that they will not shoot you in the morning. Otherwise he would
not have denied you.”

“Oh, good!” Peggy breathed.

“That morning,” Alice went on after a time, “another beautiful girl,
Gabrielle Petiti, was to be shot as a spy. Louise and Charlotte heard
her walking to the place of her execution and they heard her cry:
‘Salut! O mon dernier matin!’ (Salute, O my last morning!)”

“Oh!” Peggy whispered.

“And were—” Tillie began.

“No, Louise and Charlotte were not shot.” There was a catch in Alice’s
voice. “Because of their loyalty and great bravery they were sent to
prison for life.

“Two months and two days before the great war ended Louise died in
prison. Charlotte lived on and went back to keeping shop. Perhaps she’s
living still.”

“And now perhaps she’s a spy again.” Peggy shuddered with ecstasy. “I’m
going to be a spy some day.”

“Alice, my dear,” said Lady Applegate, “that’s no story to tell to a

But Tillie whispered very low, “I—I think it is wonderful, Alice. I—I’d
like to kiss you.” And she did.

Just then there came a scratching at the door. “It’s Flash!” Cherry
cried. “We’ve all forgotten him.”

As she threw the door open the dog went creeping across the floor to
curl up, still whining low, at Alice’s feet.

                              _Chapter_ XV
                           Until the Very End

For sometime the dog lay quietly at Alice’s feet. At last, once more at
ease, he rose, stretched himself, walked twice across the dungeon floor,
then, marching up to Dave whined low.

“What’s this?” Dave demanded. “You want to go out again? Haven’t you had
enough for one night?”

In answer the dog walked to the door, then whined again.

“O. K.,” said Dave “I don’t hear any motors. Perhaps the big show is
over. Let’s get going.”

“I’ll go with you,” Brand said quietly.

Arrived at the outer castle door, Dave took one look, then let out a low
whistle. “Old boy,” he said in a hoarse voice, looking down at the dog,
“how did you escape?”

“What do you mean, escape?” Brand asked.

“Look!” Dave pointed to a dark spot in the brightly lighted meadow. “See
that black hole? What stood there two hours ago?”

“Say!” Brand stared. “A stone building stood there.”

“But then,” he added after a thought, “what does it matter? It was just
an empty old out building.”

“I’m not so sure it was empty,” Dave replied soberly. “Last time I
looked at that building a man and a dog were going through the door.
That was less than two minutes before the first blast. There,” his was a
dramatic gesture, “question is, where’s the man? If he is at all any

“Stop talking in riddles,” Brand’s voice rose. “This has been a bad

“Sit down and I’ll tell you,” Dave invited as he dropped to a place on
the well-worn door sill.

The story of his visit to the top of the tower both astonished and
thrilled his companion.

“And the fellow who went into that shack,” Dave added with a flourish of
his arm, “was none other than the assistant to old John, the shoemaker.
What’s more, his real name is Nicholas Schlitz.”

“No!” Brand sprang to his feet. “It can’t be!”

“It is!” Dave insisted. “Remember that picture you took from the wrecked
plane? The picture of two young fellows?”

“Yes, I remember.”

“They were clear enough. You couldn’t make a mistake if you saw one of
those men. I saw Nicholas tonight, by the bright light of his own signal
torch. I couldn’t be mistaken. In the shoe shop he was always bending
over, half hiding his face. Tonight I really _saw_ him.”

“Where’s his signal torch?” Brand asked suddenly.

“That’s right,” Dave sprang up. “Where is it? In my excitement I might

“Yes. Here it is.” He drank in a deep breath of relief. “I must have put
it down. I—I was afraid he had come back for it.”

“He never will,” said Brand.

“You can’t be sure,” Dave replied thoughtfully. “Flash went in with him.
If Flash escaped, how about Nicholas Schlitz, the spy? After all, there
were three blasts. There was some time between the first and last. Who’s
going to say whether the first or last made that hole out there?”

To this question Brand found no answer.

Brand stood up, gazed at the sky, north, south, east and west, listened
for a full minute, then said: “Storm’s over. Let’s see if we can’t get
them all to go home.”

It took little persuading to get Alice and Cherry started. Soon they
were all on their way.

It was only as they rounded the last curve that brought them in full
view of their home that the full significance of Heinie’s work that
night burst upon them.

They greeted the scene that lay before them in tragic silence. The home
that had housed the Ramsey tribe for a dozen generations was a wreck. A
bomb had landed on the east end and torn it completely away. Gone was
the prim little parlor with its very formal furniture, gone the cozy
dining room with its array of ancient willow-ware and rare glass-ware.
Gone was the big four-poster bed on which Cherry and Alice had slept
since they were tiny tots, and gone all the countless treasures that had
adorned their rooms.

“Le—t—, let’s have a look.” Brand climbed out of the car. He was trying
to be nonchalant about the whole affair and making a bad job of it.

Dave climbed out after him. Then, after ten seconds of listening, he
flashed on the spy’s powerful light. At once the whole wrecked place
stood out in bold relief.

By some miracle the great chimney had withstood the shock. The fireplace
had been blown clean of ashes.

“Dave, you were a gem.” These were Cherry’s first words. “If there had
been a spark of fire!”

“It’s a miracle that anything is left,” said Applegate. “Of course
you’ll all come up to live with us.”

“Oh, no.” Alice spoke slowly. “The children would worry Lady Applegate.
I—I’m sorry. We still have furniture and cooking things. I’m sure quite
enough. And there’s the Hideout up at the foot of the hill. It’s quite
large and hidden among the trees. We may,” she hesitated, “may need to
borrow a few dishes. We—we don’t seem to have any.”

“There are whole china cupboardsful at our house. I’ll have a car full
of them down first thing in the morning.

“Sure that’s all?” the young Lord asked anxiously.

“No, not quite.” Cherry smiled a shy smile as she whispered hoarsely.
“I—I’m quite sure that Alice’s dream-robes and mine have gone to grace
the Milky Way.”

“That also shall be attended to,” said the young Lord, after they had
enjoyed a good laugh.

The trusty old farm truck was backed out of its shed. Beds, chairs,
blankets, pots, pans, and quantities of food were piled on. Then they
rattled away up the hill to the Hideout.

After building a fire on the wide old hearth they put things in such
order as they could for the night.

After the others had been made comfortable and were asleep Dave and
Cherry still sat by the fire.

“We’re always last,” Cherry whispered hoarsely. “It takes time for our
nerves to run down. They’re like a cheap old alarm clock, I guess.” She

“That’s it,” Dave agreed.

“Brand and I are signing up tomorrow,” he said after a time.

“I thought Brand would, after this night. Who wouldn’t?” Her whisper was
tense with emotion. “It’s his country. But why you? It’s not yours.”

“In America,” Dave replied soberly, “we have a saying, ‘A man’s home is
where he hangs his hat’. Your home has been mine. It has been bombed.
And so—”

He did not finish. Just sat there staring at the fire. “There’s a lot
more to it than that,” he went on after a time. “It’s easy enough to
say, ‘It’s not my war’, when you’re far away. But when you are here,
when you see how this war is being fought, defenseless women and
children who never harmed anyone being killed and country homes bombed.
Good God! How can you help wanting to fight?

“And there’s still more to it,” he added after a moment’s silence. “This
flying sort of gets you. I’ve been within its grip since the first time
I went up.

“And flyer fighting.” He took a long breath. “It’s like our American
football. It’s a game. The other fellow has the ball. You go after him.
You have the ball. He goes after you. You dodge this way and that. You
stiff arm him if he gets close. You lean like the Tower of Pisa, you
zigzag and weave like a sapling in the wind. Flyer fighting is like

“But the score?” Cherry whispered.

“Ah, yes,” Dave murmured. “The score must always be heavy on your side.”

They were silent. At last Cherry whispered: “I seem to hear applause,
the way you hear it on the radio. Per—perhaps it’s the applause of
angels. Perhaps the applause is for you. Anyway, here’s wishing you
luck.” She put out a slender hand to seize his in a quick, nervous grip.

A quarter hour later the girl was beneath the blankets beside her sister
and Dave, rolled in a thick, soft rug before the fire, was fast asleep.

                             _Chapter_ XVI
                            Fiddlin’ Johnny

Two nights later they were all seated about the fire in the Hideout.
Their new home was small but not too crowded for company. Young Lord
Applegate and two of his flying buddies were there. Beside the Lord,
whom Dave had met some days before, there was a flyer they had nicknamed
Fiddlin’ Johnny. Johnny was slender, fair-haired and dreamy-eyed. “Just
the sort that doesn’t seem to belong in the air,” Applegate had said to
Dave. “But he’s got a real record. You’d be surprised.”

“Give us a tune, Johnny,” Brand urged, as Alice’s tea warmed their

“Oh, all right!” Johnny rose awkwardly. “I’m not much of a fiddler, but
anything to please.” After blowing on a strange little pipe, he tuned
his violin, then was away to a good start.

The moment his bow slid across the strings Cherry knew they were in for
a rare treat. Paying little attention to his audience nor even to their
applause, Johnny launched into a series of quaint, melodious, old tunes.
Like a slow-flowing river he drifted from one to another and yet
another. All unconscious of those about him, he played on and on. He
appeared to play not for them but for the few birds lingering among bare
branches of wind-lashed trees outside, or perhaps to the angels in

“Oh!” Cherry breathed, when at last he returned his violin to its
battered case. “Why didn’t you tell me?” She turned to the young Lord.
“Why didn’t you bring him to one of our subway songfests?”

“Johnny!” The young Lord laughed. “He’d never remember when to stop.”

“Stop!” the girl exclaimed in her hoarse whisper. “Who would want him to
stop? That—why that was divine.”

“Oh! Thank you! Thank you!” Johnny’s face flushed.

“He’s just the same when he’s in the air fighting,” said the young Lord.
“Flies as if he were in a dream and never thinks to stop. He—”

Suddenly he broke off. Someone had turned on the short-wave radio. It
was low. Reaching over, he turned it louder.

“Get an earful of this.” His lips were curled in scorn.

The man on the radio was saying in fairly good English, “The quality of
the British fighters is laughable.”

“How do you mean?” a voice on the radio asked.

“That’s Helmuth Wick, the boasting Hun,” the young Lord whispered.

“They merely try to stay out of our reach, those English fighters,” said
the boasting German pilot. “This shows that the best English pilots have
already been shot down. They fire furiously but never hit anything. It
must make them very annoyed.”

“Well, thank you, Major Wick,” said the interviewer on the air. “That’s
all we have had time for now. Nice to have had you with us.”

“That broadcast is for America,” the young Lord explained. “It _is_ nice
they had him with them tonight. He won’t be with them long. We’re all
after him. No one loves a boaster. Besides, he’s a dirty fighter.”

“And does he boast!” The Lark put in. “Claims fifty planes shot down, or
is it sixty. No matter. He’s head of a flight and sees to it that he
stays ahead. One of his fighters always protects him from behind. If he
sees one of our planes that’s shot up and wobbling, he just steps in and
finishes them off. And that’s number forty-seven, or fifty-seven. Or

“We caught up with him once,” the young Lord laughed. “The Lark here
downed the man who protected him from behind. I would have polished him
off right then but I got a slug in my motor. Oil started spurting. So I
had to make a crash landing.

“Too bad, Johnny wasn’t with us,” he added with a good-natured laugh.
“Johnny’d been up there fighting yet.”

“I’ll be with you next time,” Fiddlin’ Johnny said, and he did not
laugh. “Tomorrow,” he went on, “we’ll be up with the dawn. The O. C.
told me that just before I left. Said we could go up in five formation.”

“Who?” Dave sat up quick.

“You’ll be in on it,” Johnny grinned. “You and Brand. Only the O. C.
said we were to watch and see that you don’t do anything rash.”

“You watch them! That’s a joke.” The Lark gave Johnny a slap on the
shoulder. “All you can see when you’re in the air is crosses and

“All the same,” the young Lord insisted, “Johnny’s one swell little

A half hour later they were gone, leaving Cherry to wonder how many of
them would return, and how soon.

At dawn five Spitfires left the landing field. They flew in formation,
first the young Lord, then the Lark. After these came Dave and Brand.
Fiddlin’ Johnny brought up the rear.

It was a beautiful morning. Red still streaked the eastern sky. Did they
see the sky? Perhaps Johnny did. He saw and heard everything that was
beautiful. Dave did not see the sky. He saw only his instrument board,
thought only of that which might be ahead. For they were the dawn
patrol. And out of many a dawn, when the thin clouds were still red and
gold, had come death. Dave shuddered at the thought but kept straight on
his course.

Of a sudden he caught the young Lord’s voice in the phone. It was high
and cheerful as he shouted:

“Enemy ahead. Let’s tap in.”

‘Tap in’, Dave knew meant ‘have a good time.’ Would they have a good
time? Would they? He wondered. Then, as if he had taken a breath of pure
oxygen, his spirits soared. Have a good time? Why not? This was a game.
In this game one must have a good time or die.

They were putting on speed. At first he did not see the enemy. Then he
saw them all too well. Five Messerschmitts came zooming out of a thin
cloud. The rising sun struck their wings and turned them to burnished

“Whoops!” shouted the Lark. “Up and at them, boys!”

In a low, sober note the young Lord said, “Boys that’s the bragging Hun,
Wick, or I’m a liar!”

“Correct!” shouted the Lark. “His identical formation, V shape, one
behind on his right, three behind on the left. In a scrap he’s safe.
Perfect, I’d say for a hero.” Then in a roaring voice this red-headed
pilot sang, “It’s a long way to Tipperary. It’s a long way to go.”

Dave didn’t want to sing. Truth was, he could not have said a word. His
tongue at that instant was glued to the roof of his mouth. Only the
night before a veteran fighter had said to him, “Wick may be a coward. I
wouldn’t doubt that. But he’s been a long time in the air. And that
means just one thing, he knows how to pick brave men to do his fighting
for him.”

“Brave men,” Dave whispered as he clutched his ‘joy stick’ with a firmer
grip. Then, through his radio headset, above the roar of motors, he
caught a familiar sound. It was one of the tunes Fiddlin’ Johnny had
played back there in the Hideout. It was “Londonderry Air.” Startled, as
if expecting to see the strange boy fiddling as he flew, he glanced
back. Johnny was in his place, all right, staring straight ahead.

“Whistling!” Dave murmured. “How do they do it?”

“Those Messerschmitts are looking for bombers, not fighters,” he told
himself. “Haven’t seen us yet.”

The young Lord barked an order into his receiver. “We’ll climb into the
sun, then drop down upon them.”

They climbed. They circled until the sun was at their backs. Then, with
motors booming, they swept down upon the enemy.

With a sudden burst of speed the Messerschmitts scattered. Two planes
alone remained in formation.

“That will be Wick and his bravest guard,” Dave told himself as a thrill
coursed up his spine.

He was all for the fight now. Gladly he would have followed that pair,
but it had been agreed that in a case of this kind the flight leader and
the Lark, most experienced men of the flight, should step in where
danger called most loudly.

With the hot blood of battle at last coursing in his veins, Dave went
after a single, fleeing Messerschmitt.

He was faster than the enemy. Now a mile lay between them, now a half
mile, a quarter. The enemy darted this way, then that. “Trying to shake
me off,” Dave muttered. He was thinking at that moment of their
shattered home. He should have sweet revenge.

He was all but upon the Messerschmitt. One more burst of speed. Now it
was time to press the button. One thousand shots a minute! No! He’d
better drop a little, to come up from below. Three hundred and fifty
miles an hour. This was life.

Suddenly the air was torn by the rip and rattle of machine-gun fire, not
his fire but another’s. Slugs tore into his right wing. Gripping his
emergency boost, he set his plane banking madly to the left. Forty
seconds of this, then he let go that emergency lever.

Standing on one wing, he executed a mad whirl, then righted himself.

“What had happened?” As his eyes swept the sky he heard again that weird
whistle, the Fiddler’s, doing “Londonderry Air.”

Next instant he spotted the Whistler. Right on the tail of a plane, he
was at that very instant gripping the firing button. Once again the sky
was torn with the haunting rip-rip-rip that spelled death.

What effect did the fiddler’s shots have upon the enemy? Dave was not to
know, at least not for a long time. At that instant he caught sight of a
Messerschmitt zooming up from behind and below his comrade. He watched
with horror as a great burst of fire seemed to blot Fiddlin’ Johnny from
the sky.

One second the Messerschmitt was there. The next it was gone. With
sinking heart Dave saw Fiddlin’ Johnny’s plane go into a spin, then
spiral down, down until it was lost in a cloud.

He listened. Save for the roar of his own motor, a muffled roar it was
now, he caught no sound. The whistle was dead. But what of the whistler?

Not until then did Dave become conscious of his own motor. He was losing
altitude. His hand was brown with oil. His motor had been hit, perhaps
more than once. Just when a Messerschmitt came zooming at him he slipped
into a cloud.

He was thinking hard and fast now. He was out of the fight, that was
sure. Was he too far out over the ocean to make landing before his motor
died? Where was land? A glance at his compass, a slow half-swing about,
then he flew straight ahead.

He was losing altitude faster now. In vain did he attempt to get more
power from the motor.

There was the sea, and there, seeming far, far away, was land. He’d
never make it. A cold, calm sea lay beneath him. How long could one live
in that water? He’d have a try. Unsnapping his safety belt, he waited.
How long before his ship sank? Not long, he guessed.

Then his eye caught something on the surface of the sea. A boat?
Perhaps. Didn’t look quite like that. At least it was fairly large and
it floated.

Swinging half about, he went into a slow spiral, that would land him, he
hoped, close to that mysterious, floating gray spot.

It did. Leaping from his plane, he did a slow crawl, waiting to see if
his plane would sink. Three minutes more and it was gone.

Turning, he swam toward that floating thing. What was it? He could not
tell. All he knew was that once he reached it he would escape from the
bitter, biting chill of the sea.

                             _Chapter_ XVII
                              Playing War

Meantime the young Lord had gone streaking after the self-appointed ace
of the Huns and his most trusted guard. The Lark and Brand had remained
in formation behind their leader. A fast and furious race had followed.
The Nazis had climbed to dizzy heights. Turning on the oxygen, the young
Lord and the Lark followed on their tails, but always a little too far
behind for attack.

Unaccustomed to the climb, Brand was thinking of dropping out. Turning
to look back, he caught his breath, stared again, then leveled off for
greater speed. He had seen Fiddlin’ Johnny go into a spin and had read
in this disaster for his good pal Dave. He went to the rescue but too
late. By the time he reached the scene both Dave and pursuer had
vanished into the clouds.

Swinging about, he searched the sky for the young Lord and his fighting

“There! There they are!” he exclaimed excitedly. “They win!” He was just
in time to see an enemy plane go streaking down all in flames. At the
same instant, some distance away, he saw a second enemy craft vanish
into a cloud.

“Tough luck,” the young Lord grumbled into his speaker as Brand came up.
“We got Wick’s favorite guard but the big boaster got away. Well, better
luck next time. Where’s Dave and the Fiddler?”

“Johnny’s gone for good.” Brand’s voice was low and solemn. “He seemed a
real fellow. I—I’m sorry. He went down in a spin, quite out of control.
He can’t have come out of it. It’s taps for him.”

“Taps for poor old Johnny.” No more shouting today for The Lark. The
flight’s scant triumph had cost them too dearly.

“I lost Dave in a cloud,” Brand went on. “I—I don’t know about him.”

“We’ll drop down and have a look,” said the young Lord. They did have a
look. They fairly scoured the sea. All that met the eye was wide
stretches of leaden, grey sea—that and a lone flock of wild ducks
streaking away to the south.

“Ducks. Little old wild things,” The Lark grumbled. “Got more sense than

And so, with heavy hearts, they turned their planes landward. After that
not a word was spoken until their Spitfires bump-bumped on the landing

That same afternoon Cherry walked alone to the village. She wanted time
to think. And, indeed there was need for thinking. That morning her
mother had driven out and had taken her to the city. There they visited
the office of a famous specialist.

“This,” said Mrs. Ramsey, “is Cherry.”

“Cherry, the Singing Angel!” exclaimed the doctor. “I am surely glad to
meet you. It’s a wonderful work you are doing.”

“That I _was_ doing,” Cherry whispered hoarsely.

“Why! What’s up? Voice troubling you? Let’s have a look! We’ll fix it up
right away.”

After a long and painstaking examination the good doctor looked at her
with trouble in his eyes. “Nothing the matter with your throat,
absolutely nothing,” he said solemnly.

“But I can’t talk. I—”

“Yes, yes, I’m not doubting you.” The doctor walked slowly back and
forth. “It’s just one more case of war shock.

“You see,” he began, after waving the ladies into chairs, “it’s like
this. You, my child, are not afraid of bombs. That is, you are
determined not to be. So are we all. We won’t let the enemy get us down.
That’s grand! Magnificent! The true British spirit.

“But, my dear,” his voice dropped, “that is all in your mind. Your body
has other things to say. It is truly afraid, and you can do nothing
about it.

“In such a case your body breaks down at its weakest point. In your case
it is your voice. I have a patient who buys old stamps. He’s forever
peering through a glass, examining stamps, using his eyes. He wasn’t
afraid of bombs. But his body was. He went totally blind. Since he was
an American, I packed him into the Clipper and sent him home. And now,”
the doctor spread his arms wide, “he’s quite all right again.”

“But doctor, what am I to do?” There was agony in Cherry’s whisper.

“Go to America. Two weeks there and you will be well. Then come back and
take up your work once more. It’s your only chance. Is it worth the

“But I can’t. I—”

“Yes, you can.” Mrs. Ramsey was on her feet. “I have it. The very thing!
The boat sails next Monday.”

“The boat? What boat, mother?” Cherry stared.

“They have chartered a boat to carry refugee children to America. I was
discussing the sending of Peggy and Tillie this very morning. The
welfare workers wish to send a grown person with each group of ten
children to look after them, direct their play, keep them cheerful and
happy. Cherry, you shall be one of these. I shall see to it at once.”

“But mother!” Cherry’s whisper was pathetic. “It’s so sudden. I must
have time to think.”

“Very well,” said her mother, dismissing the whole affair for a moment
by a wave of her hand. “Think as much as you please until this time

And so now Cherry, as she walked slowly toward the village, was thinking
hard. Could she do it? Leave Alice, Brand, and Dave, all her friends to
embark on this strange adventure? She had a horror of the sea, yet, if
she went she must be cheerful all the way. “It’s the war,” she was
thinking. “When there is a war we have no choice. Duty calls. We must

Rounding a curve, a young cyclist came rushing toward her. He slowed up
when he was near. It was Brand. There was a look on his face she had
seldom seen there before.

“Going home?” she asked simply.

“No. Just for a ride.”

A question was on her lips. She did not ask it. There are times when we
do not ask questions of those we love.

“I’m going to the village,” she said simply. “Perhaps I’ll meet you on
the way back.”

“Perhaps.” Again he was on his wheel and away.

“Riding something down,” she told herself. “Something rather terrible.”
Then, as if a chill blast had swept in from the hills, she shuddered.

At the village she came upon more tragedy. Where the shop of Old John,
the shoemaker, had stood was a pit of darkness. On a stake stuck in the
ground someone had hung a bit of black crepe. This was enough. Turning
she walked straight toward home. Her courage was now at the sticking
point. She would go on that ship with the children. It was the only
thing she could do to help. And everyone must do something.

“Perhaps,” she thought, “I shall go to visit Dave’s mother in Florida.”

Florida. At once she was dreaming of soft, lapping waters, gleaming
sands, waving palm trees, and the eternal breath of spring. When one is
young it is not natural to be sad for long.

She had not gone far on her homeward jaunt when a group of school
children on their way home from school caught her eye. Their actions
amazed her. One moment they were marching along engaged in merry
chatter, the next, like a flock of birds escaping a hawk, they dashed
from the road.

At the side of the road was a deep, dry ditch. Into this the children
tumbled pell-mell. When Cherry came opposite them they were staring
open-mouthed toward the sky.

This held for a full minute. Then one pair of eyes wandered. “Cherry!” a
piping young voice cried. “It’s Cherry!” A small pair of legs
disentangled themselves from the mass and a child came racing up to
Cherry. It was Tillie. In the mass, Cherry had not recognized her. Peggy
followed on her heels. Soon, one on each side of the older girl, they
were marching toward home.

“What were you doing in that ditch,” Cherry asked.

“Playing war,” was Peggy’s quick response. “It’s loads of fun. We play
there is a bombing plane right overhead. One of the boys can whistle
just like the siren. You should hear him! He’s wonderful! After that we
all tumble into the ditch and watch for the plane.

“Of course,” the little girl added thoughtfully, “it never comes. But
perhaps some day it really will come.”

“Yes,” Cherry thought. There was a tightness in her throat. “Yes, some
day perhaps it will. And then—”

Yes, she would go with those children to America. She must. It was her

                            _Chapter_ XVIII
                          Dave’s Strange Craft

That boat-like affair on which Dave climbed after a short swim from the
spot where his plane had sunk was strange indeed. Some sixteen feet long
by eight wide, it rested on the surface of the sea. It was not a boat,
for though it had a small cabin above and a large one below, it was
provided with no form of propelling power, not even oars.

The fact that struck the boy with the force of a blow was its
unquestioned Nazi origin. On its side was painted the hated cross. The
cabin below was fitted with all manner of articles for comfort and
convenience, blankets, towels, boxes of biscuits and chocolate, bottles
of soda water, all that a man could ask. Yet even here was the dreaded
swastika. It was woven into towels and blankets and stamped into the

“A Jerry hotel of the sea, a one man’s paradise,” he thought.

Then, of a sudden it came to him. It was a float. He had heard of them.
They were for the benefit of Nazi airmen who fell into the sea.

“Well,” he sighed, “I’m no Nazi, but I am cold and wet. So here goes!”

After stripping off his water-soaked garments he slipped into a coarse,
heavy shirt bearing the hated insignia, a pair of blue trousers, coarse
wool socks and heavy shoes. The shoes were too large, but that did not

“Now,” he sighed, “what next?”

It struck him with sudden shock that the next thing might well be a
routine visit to the float by an enemy patrol boat. After that he would
be “Somewhere in Europe” for the duration of the war.

Climbing to the narrow deck, he scanned the sea. A mist had settled down
over the water. There was a freshness in the air which suggested
impending storm. Here he was. Here he would stay unless—He sat down to

Ten minutes later he sprang into action. There was a compass in the
lower cabin. He studied the wind, then consulted the compass.

“O. K.,” he muttered. “If only—”

On a shelf he found a hammer and a box of wooden pegs. These, he
concluded, would be for stopping up holes made by machine-gun bullets.

Taking the hammer, he began examining the floor of the lower cabin on
which he stood. The covering was, he discovered, composed of fiber. To
rip it up was but the work of minutes. And there—he uttered a sharp
exclamation of joy,—there, countersunk in the solid steel keel of this
unsailing craft, was a heavy steel nut. “Thought so,” he murmured.

He had reasoned that, since this float did not move it must be anchored
by a cable or chain. The cable or chain must be fastened by a
ring-headed bolt with a nut inside the float. And so it was.

Now to remove the nut and let the float go free. He blessed his stars
that from early childhood he had monkeyed with tools. A large nut, he
had discovered years ago, can be turned off simply by hammering at the
corners, thus turning it around little by little, a slow, tedious
process, but sure of success in the end.

For more than an hour, the empty world of sea and air might have heard
the patient tap—tap—tap of a hammer on steel.

Now and then he paused to listen. Only the ever-rising song of the
wind—welcome sound—greeted his ears.

Once he consulted the compass, then climbed to the upper deck to face
the wind. After that he resumed his tapping with increased speed.

At last, as a sigh escaped his lips, the nut slid to one side. At the
same instant a wave larger than all the rest tilted the float half on
its side. There came the grating sound of the threaded bolt slipping
from its place. Then a thin fountain of water spurted up.

“Hurray! Free! We win!” he exulted.

“Not bad,” he murmured as, after stopping the hole with a towel, he
wrapped himself in a blanket and stretched out for a rest.

This did not last long. He was in no mood for inaction. The battle among
the clouds had set his blood racing. His imagination was fairly running
riot. The storm was picking up, but not half fast enough. What if the
Nazis caught up with him here? They had provided the place with all
manner of comfort but no weapons. Perhaps, after all, this float had
been intended as a trap.

There was a short-wave radio in the corner. After a brief inspection he
discovered that it was both for sending and receiving. Twice his hand
was on a dial. Twice, as his fingers trembled, he removed it. He did
long to get in touch with headquarters. By this time the remnant of
their flight would be back. They would be wondering, dreading, hoping.
He could put these uncertainties to rest at least as far as he was
concerned. A few well-chosen words would assure them that he was safe
and that it was taps for the beloved Johnny.

His heart ached as he recalled his one brief glimpse of the fiddler’s
smashed plane before it sank forever beneath black waters. He had seen
no sign of life. Yes, the fiddler was gone. God rest his soul.

“But that Wick!” he asked himself. “What about him?”

Yes, he thought he could get that radio going and tell the boys at
headquarters about things. But what would the Heinies be doing all that
time? Checking his location, beyond a doubt. Sending out a fast little
craft to pick him up. Oh, no! Not yet. Some things were best left alone.

After a time he made himself a cup of hot chocolate, then drank it, at
the same time munching biscuits and chocolate bar. Very thoughtful of
those Nazis to spend so much time and thought on his comfort.

There was even a checker-board and a deck of cards. He played himself a
game of checkers, then switched to solitaire. This lasted a long time.

When darkness at last settled down upon the sea, he climbed to the upper
deck. Clinging to a rail he watched the waves roll in. Seldom had he
witnessed a wilder scene. Racing clouds, racing sea and a moon that
appeared to race with them.

Once again he checked the direction of the wind. Yes, unless he had
miscalculated, he should land at last on the English coast. When? He had
no way of knowing. One thing was sure, if this storm kept up he’d know
well enough when he did arrive. One good bump would tell him that.

In the meantime? Well, tomorrow would be another day. He’d be needing
all his senses. Might as well sleep while sleeping was good. After
fastening his strange craft down good and snug for the night he rolled
up in a half dozen heavy blankets and fell asleep.

                             _Chapter_ XIX
                          Thrilling Sky Drama

That night watchers on the rooftops of London, those hardy men who all
night long, with bags of sand at their side, scan the skies for bombing
planes, witnessed a moving picture against the sky that they would not
soon forget.

A few minutes after the alarm had sounded, just as Big Ben rang out the
hour of nine, the thunder of powerful motors was heard.

At this instant, far above them in the sky, there appeared a light that
was like the bursting of the sun. A flare beyond a doubt, but such a
flare as had never before been seen. Every housetop, turret and tower
stood out in bold relief. Beneath the flare, but far up in that sky,
like a gigantic silver bird, a four-motored Nazi bomber appeared to hang

As the watchers stared speechless something very like a silver bat
appeared to drop straight down from the sky.

“It’s a Spitfire,” muttered one hardy watcher.

“An’ it’s suicide,” exclaimed his mate.

As the silver bat curved down toward the bomber it let out a sound as of
the ripping up of every sidewalk in London.

At this every watcher threw himself flat on his face, for from above
came such a roar as had never been heard before, no, not even in London.

A moment more and fragments of metal came showering down far and wide.

The flare above was still burning. One watcher, braver than the rest,
scanned the sky. What he saw was a pair of balloons belonging to a
balloon barrage, a trap set for enemy planes. Between the balloons ran
cables that in this strange light shone like threads of silver. The
thing that caught and held the watcher’s eye was a silver spot clinging
to those cables.

“That will be the Spitfire,” he said to his mate who now was sitting up.
“The blast from that exploded bomber blew him there. I told you it was
suicide. I said—

“And now may the Saints be praised!” His voice rose as he turned his
eyes. Some distance below that silver spot a ghost-like circle had

“A parachute!” the watcher exclaimed. “And may the Nazis be confounded!
That pilot of the Spitfire is still alive.”

“You’re quite right, Tim, me boy,” the other agreed. “What’s more, if I
judge the movement of air rightly, he’ll be landin’ just about here.”

The roof on which the men stood was broad and flat. As the two men
watched, the parachute and the dark spot hanging beneath it, which
appeared to be the pilot, grew in size. Carried first to the right, then
to the left, as if directed by the very breath of the Gods, it came ever
closer to that broad rooftop on which the watchers stood.

“Sure he’s alive,” Tim murmured. “I saw his arm move.”

“He—he’s almost down now,” muttered his companion. “There now, he—”
Breaking short off the speaker dashed for the far side of the roof.

Just as the daring aviator’s feet touched the roof a sudden, violent
gust of wind caught his parachute and sent it skyward. Lifting him off
his feet, it carried him forward at a rapid rate. Then, as if to
complete its work of destruction, over empty space the parachute

The parachutist found himself balanced on the parapet, leaning back with
all his might, but apparently doomed to crash to the earth a hundred
feet below. Then, of a sudden, a voice said:

“Here, young man, where y’ think y’re goin’?”

A pair of husky arms were wrapped about him and he was dragged to
safety. His savior was Tim’s powerful companion.

“Why, you’re little more than a boy!” The big man exclaimed after
peering into the rescued one’s face.

“I’m more than that,” the youth replied huskily. “If I were to tell you
who I really am you might be a little surprised. But I’m not telling.”

“Whoever you are,” said Tim with a wave of his strong arms, “you’re a
darling of the gods. What you done tonight no other man could do an’

“What’s more,” Tim’s partner added, “you’ve saved the life of many a
woman an’ child. There was two tons of bombs in that big ship an’ she
was ’angin’ over blocks an’ blocks of tenements. It was early. The first
alarm had ’ardly sounded. They don’t get to the subway that quick, the
women an’ the children, they don’t.”

The young flyer was pulling at his chute. It caught and tore. “Here,” he
exclaimed impatiently, handing the strings to the big guard, “take this
home to your Missus. There’s some fine silk in it. And now how do you
get down from this place?”

“It’s right over ’ere,” said the astonished Tim as he led the way to a
trap door. “You just go down that stairway. There’s a door at the
bottom. You’ll find stairways leadin’ to the ground floor an’ the back
outside door’s got a spring lock. Spring it an’ you’re outside.

“An’ ’ere’s wishin’ ye luck,” the big man added. “’Ow about shakin’ your
hand?” Two hands met in a hearty grip. “’Ere’s ’opin’ we meets again,”
said the watcher.

Five minutes later the mysterious flyer reached the good earth once
again to lose himself at once in the avenues of darkness that are London
in the blackout.

                              _Chapter_ XX
                        Dave Comes Marching Home

Next morning Brand, whose time schedule for the day included only a
short practice flight in the afternoon, asked permission to cycle over
to the Hideout in time for breakfast. Still terribly upset by the losses
of yesterday he wished to be among his own people.

While breakfast was preparing he told of the sad misadventures resulting
from their first patrol flight.

“Bad business,” he murmured at the end. “The Fiddler gone, Dave gone,
soon our flight will be at an end.

“But we’ll fight!” His voice picked up. “We’ll fight to the last man.”

For a time after that all were silent. Then Cherry asked, “Brand, did
you hear the late news broadcast last night?”

“No. What was up?”

“The strangest thing happened. It sounds like a miracle. A bright flare,
brightest ever seen, hung over a bomber ready to help destroy London,
when a single Spitfire plunging down, down, down, loosed a burst of fire
at the bomber. Then came a terrible explosion in midair.” “Got him!”
Brand’s eyes shone. “But the Spitfire?”

“He was blown against a balloon cable. He baled out. He landed on a
roof. Then he vanished. Who does that sound like?”

“Like Fiddlin’ Johnny,” Brand whispered. “But the Fiddler is dead and so

He did not finish for at that moment the door opened. Cherry, who stood
facing the door, let out a hoarse whispering cry, then barely missed
throwing herself in the new-comer’s arms.

“Careful, Cherry,” said a calm voice. “I’ve had a lot of trouble and a
heap of luck these last hours. I couldn’t stand much more.” It was Dave.

“Dave! Are you really alive?” It was Alice who asked this remarkable

“Why—yes. I—I think so.” Dave looked from one to the other across the
room. “At least that’s the way I like to feel about it.” At this they
all burst into a merry laugh and somehow life seemed to begin all over

“Tell us about it, Dave,” Cherry commanded.

“Wait. I’ll have to phone headquarters.” Dave looked about for a phone.
Then he remembered, there was no phone in the Hideout.

“We’ve had the phone down at the house repaired,” Alice said.

“I—I’ll be back for a cup of coffee.” Dave was away on the run.

                            * * * * * * * *

At that moment the Commander at the airdrome had just dropped to a place
beside the young Lord in the squadron mess room.

“Applegate,” he said soberly, “why did you do it?”

“I had to.” There was a stubborn look on the young Lord’s usually
cheerful face.

“Why?” The Commander’s eyes were on him.

“It got on my nerves, those Jerries bombing women and children every
night and nothing being done about it.” The young Lord did not look up.

“So you decided to commit suicide by doing something?” The Commander’s
voice was low.

“Well, I’m here.” A smile played about Applegate’s lips.

“But you wouldn’t be again. Not one time in a million. Wars are not won
that way.

“Look here, Applegate,” the Commander’s voice softened a little. “I’ve
always liked you, been proud of you. You were not raised like the rest
of us. When the war came you joined up and you’ve played your part like
a man.

“This fighting in the air is different.” The Commander paused to look
away. “It’s a little like the old days that Walter Scott wrote about,
Ivanhoe, Kenilworth, Richard the Lionhearted, all that. Each man got him
a sword and fought it out with the first enemy he met.

“It’s the same here in a way. You can’t always fight in formation. But
you _do_ have to fight under orders. You must, I must, everyone but the
King must. And he’s not so free either.

“Last night,” his voice fell, “you took your ship without orders and did
a stretch over London. Why?”

“I—I couldn’t stand myself.” The young Lord’s head was bowed. “Going out
with five men, coming back with three. Not getting the man I was after.
Losing the fellows we all love. What kind of fighting is that?”

“It comes to all of us.” The commander’s voice was gentle now. “Once
over in France—

“Wait!” He sprang up. “There’s the phone.”

In the corner the young Lord heard the Commander exclaim into the
receiver, “What? Who? Say! That’s great! How’s that? Yes. Certainly. As
long as you like.”

The Commander’s voice was deep with emotion as turning back to the young
Lord he said:

“That was Dave. He’s back safe. He’s over at Ramsey Farm. They’re just
having their biscuits, marmalade and coffee. Want you to join them.”

The young Lord stood up. He tried to speak but failed. With a bow and a
salute he left the room. Three minutes later his big car was burning up
the road leading to Ramsey Farm.

                             _Chapter_ XXI
                     The Lark Defends His Home Town

It was truly a jolly party that sat down to breakfast in the Hideout
that morning. Dave had been dead. Now he was alive again. Who could help
being happy? It seemed good to be together again, to laugh over recent
adventures and to talk in serious tones of the future.

“There really isn’t so much to tell,” Dave insisted, when they pressed
him for his story. “I had luck, that was all.”

He told of his landing, the sinking of his plane, his discovery of the
Nazi’s float and his work at setting it adrift.

“After that,” he added, “it was just a matter of time and a little more
luck. I fell asleep. Of course, I woke up now and then. Who wouldn’t?
All I heard was the whistle of the wind and the rush of waves so I dozed
off again.

“After midnight the sea settled down a bit. Just at dawn my crazy craft
bumped on a sandy beach. Of course I was up and out in a hurry.

“And there!” He laughed. “Leave it to the Home Guard! There on the
beach, armed with heavy old-fashioned rifles all pointed straight at me,
were three old men. And you could tell by the look on their faces that
they’d just as soon shoot me as not.”

“What did you do?” Cherry whispered.

“Do? Why! I let them take me prisoner. What else could I do? There I was
on a float marked with the Nazi cross and wearing a Nazi swastika on my

“I threw them a line and, when a big wave broke on shore, they hauled me

“Then I invited them to take breakfast with me. I had bacon in tins,
biscuits in a box and a jar of marmalade, also coffee. It was a grand
feed. And did those old men eat? They’d been on watch since sun-down.”

“And after that?” Cherry whispered.

“Then I showed them my water-soaked uniform, my American passport in a
waterproof pocket and my identification tag.”

“And then they wanted to shoot you more than ever.” Brand laughed.

“No—no, they didn’t.” Dave leaned back in his chair. “They were regular
old sports. Took it all as a huge joke. Had a good laugh over it.

“Then,” he added, “I traded them my float for a ride home in a
dilapidated old car. And here I am.”

“That float will make them a nice outpost station all winter.” Alice
sighed with content. She wanted everyone to be comfortable and happy.

“I’m going to America,” Cherry said. “The doctor advised it for my
voice. He says it’s nerves.

“There’s a boatload of children going. I’m to take Peggy and Tillie.”

“Oh—o,” Dave breathed softly. “That will be swell.” And so it would, he
thought, for Cherry.

“But you, Alice?” The young Lord turned to the older sister. “Shall you
be going also?”

“No—o.” Alice spoke slowly. “I’m staying right here. There’s the dairy,
you know. Jock will care for the cattle and tend to the milking. I’ll
make the butter. It all goes to your mess, I suppose you know? The
butter, I mean. Or didn’t you know?”

“I could have guessed,” said the young Lord. “Our butter’s been
uncommonly good of late.”

“Thanks a lot.” Alice made a neat bow. “Anyway we’ve all got to carry
on. I shall be quite all right here with old Jock and Flash.”

“And we’ll all welcome an opportunity to drop in for a chat now and
then.” Dave added with a genuine sigh of satisfaction. “We’ll always be
needing someone to listen to our tall tales or to offer us consolation
when we’ve met with defeat.”

“All quite true,” said the young Lord. And he did not laugh.

Strange days followed. The R. A. F. in war time is no respecter of
persons. Though the young Lord was of noble birth, he must suffer for
his breach of discipline. He was grounded for five days. His battered
Spitfire was taken down from the balloon cables and repaired. Armor
plate was added to his seat and fitted about his motor, so the time out
was not all loss.

Every day the two “cubs”, Dave and Brand went up with the Lark as their
leader. Their field of patrol was narrow. Since their last battle the
Jerrys seemed to avoid that little patch of the sky over England.

One day an enemy dive-bomber wandered into their “Sphere of Influence.”

Seeing the direction the bomber was taking, the Lark let out a wild
whoop, barked “Tallyho!” into his receiver and then they were away.
Climbing into the sun they prepared to head the intruder off.

This time neither was, in the matter of speed, a match for the Lark.
There was a reason. The town for which the bomber was headed was
Renton-by-the-Sea. In that small city the Lark had spent his happy
boyhood days. Neither an industrial town nor a seaport, it was one of
those charming little cities where tired business men and their families
spend their week-ends at play.

“My home town!” the Lark roared into the receiver. “He’ll send some of
the very houses I’ve known and loved for years spouting into the sky!
Only he won’t.” Dave could hear his teeth crack.

And then the strange fellow’s voice boomed forth in song. “It’s a long
way to Tipperary. It’s a long way to go.”

The Lark was now flying straight away from the sun. The dive-bomber’s
pilot had not seen him. He was circling like a gull preparing for a
sudden dive when the Lark came straight at him. Not troubling to get on
his tail, the brave young defender of his home town let out a burst of
fire, then went swooping past him.

An answering burst rattled against the Lark’s plane but did no harm.
Banking sharply, the Lark came up beneath the bomber, stood his Spitfire
on its tail, let out a second burst, then gripping his emergency lever
he thundered out from under and away.

He was not a second too soon. The bomber heeled over to rocket toward
the earth. It burst into flames then blew up with such force that Dave,
some distance away, was set into a spin and barely escaped a crash.

Once more singing Tipperary, The Lark led the way home. After a time he
broke off to shout:

“The small boys of my home town will be hunting souvenirs from that
bomber for weeks to come. Oh, boy! How I wish I was a child again, just
for tonight.”

When there was time off Dave enjoyed striding Brand’s bike and riding
away to the Hideout. It was good to drop back into the old, quiet,
nearly normal life. Alice and Cherry were there and sometimes the
children. Cherry seemed to take her trip to America very quietly, as a
matter of duty. She spent hours sitting by the fire asking Dave about
his native land, but always in that quiet, matter-of-fact whisper of
hers. The children were vastly excited about the trip and eager to be

At times Dave thought of the days to come when Alice would be alone with
the aged veteran and the dog, Flash. The thought troubled him a little.
There were, he supposed, enemy spies about. He had come into contact
with one of these.

Ramsey Farm seemed to have been marked for destruction. He often asked
himself why. A prisoner of war had once worked here. He had been treated
with kindness and as an equal. Why should he have gone away embittered?
“Twisted sort of mind, I suppose,” was his final conclusion.

Had this spy, Nicholas Schlitz brought destruction upon himself that
night by the castle, or was he still prowling about? This question
needed answering.

Late one afternoon he rode over to the castle. Coming upon a workman who
cared for the castle grounds, he stated his problem.

“Perhaps this will answer your question,” the man said simply. He held
out a metal disc. There was a name and number on the disc.

“Tom and I found it two days after the bombing,” the man said. “There
was more to it than that, but I needn’t trouble you with the details.
Tom and I, we figured it all out and reckoned the least said soonest

“We reported this ’ere business to the proper authorities, sir,” he went
on. “It’s all in order, sir. We should have turned the tag in at
headquarters. You’ll be doin’ us a service if you’ll attend to that for
us, sir.

“And,” he added after a moment, “you’ll put in a few words of
explanation. Words come handier to you than they does to Tom and me. I’m
a thinkin’ you know the details.”

“I shouldn’t wonder.” Dave spoke slowly. “Thanks a lot. I’ll feel better
about Alice being over at the Hideout with only old Jock and the dog to
protect her.”

“No doubt of that, sir,” the man agreed as they parted.

War, Dave thought, was strange.

                             _Chapter_ XXII
                          Roll Out the Barrel

Sunday came and with it the knowledge that before dawn of the next day
the good ship Queen Bess would be on her way to America. And on that
ship would ride Tillie, Peggy and their escort, Cherry.

Early Sunday morning the social worker from the subway and the little
red-headed Irish pianist arrived in a car before the door of the

“All the people of our subway have read in the paper about your trip to
America,” the social worker said to Cherry. “They want you to attend a
farewell party.”

“But I can’t sing. Can’t even speak out loud,” Cherry whispered.

“We know that,” exclaimed the little redhead. “They know it and are
sorry for you. But you can still smile.”

“Yes.” Cherry proved her answer by a happy smile.

“That’s all that matters,” exclaimed the social worker. “Then you will

“Yes.” Cherry swallowed a happy lump in her throat. “I’ll come.”

“We’ll all go down in my car,” the young Lord said later in the day.
“When the party is over it will be about time for you to take the train
for your port.”

“And we’ll all go down to the port to see you off,” Alice added with a
grand smile.

That party in the subway was like nothing that ever happened before. So
happy were the people at sight of their Singing Angel that they stood on
their feet and shouted for a full five minutes.

It was Sunday night, but as if they must crowd weeks of joy into one
wonderful night the people took the program in their own hands and sang
everything from “Roll out the Barrel” to “God Save the King” and from
“I’ve got my Eyes on You” to the “Glory Song.”

Ah yes! That was a night Cherry would not soon forget. One moment they
were bowing before the Old Rugged Cross, the next they were Rolling the
Old Chariot along. When at the very end someone started “God be with you
till we Meet Again,” many an eye was moist. But at the very middle of
the song a huge man who could stand no more emotion roared out in a
terrific basso:

“We’ll roll the old chariot along.” And so, with a glorious shout they
once again rolled the old chariot. Then the party was at an end.

It was a jolly party that, as Big Ben struck the hour of ten, boarded
the train bound for the seaport town where the Queen Bess lay at anchor.
Children with their sponsors filled every compartment of the train.

When they at last reached their destination and swarmed out on the
platform the children began singing:

“Roll Out the Barrel.” And no one said, “Hush, this is Sunday.” But
everyone took up the song. For this was the children’s hour.

There was no singing as, after finding their compartment for them, the
little group from Ramsey Farm prepared to bid goodbye to Cherry, Tillie
and Peggy.

Every one of them knew that their little group was breaking up and
perhaps forever. They had shared joy and sorrow. A brother, two sisters,
a life-long friend, a new-found pal from across the sea and two little
waifs from the slums of London, they silently shook hands in the dark,
then whispered, “Goodbye-Goodbye! Goodbye! And lots of good luck!”

On the way back on the train Alice whispered to Dave, “I wish Cherry
hadn’t gone.”

“Why?” Dave stared.

“I don’t know. I just wish it, that’s all.”

And so, through the blackout, the little English train carried them back
to London.

Next day Alice returned to her improvised buttery and her churn. But the
song that so often had enlivened her task as the dasher went up and down
was silenced.

For Dave the joy of flying increased with every morn. To climb up from
the earth, to greet the dawn, to lose himself in the clouds, ah! that
was joy beyond compare.

“If it only weren’t war,” he whispered to himself. And yet war did give
it an added tang. It was like the nipping frost in the air that greets
the ice-skater or the singing of the sled runners that delights the ears
of the dog-team racer. He did look forward to the day when the young
Lord’s penalty should be paid and the four of them would again be in the

The day came and they thundered away with the break of day. On this day,
however, Heinie apparently was content to stay at home. Not a speck
marred the blue of that little patch of the sky over England they
claimed as their own.

“We’ll meet them again,” the young Lord’s tone was confident, as at last
they returned to earth.

“Wolves, weasels, skunks, and all kinds of varmints visit the same
little corner of the earth time after time. So do the Jerries. That big
boaster, Wick, will return. And then!” It was clear that he had not
forgotten the loss of his most beloved flying mate, Fiddlin’ Johnny.

“I wonder,” Dave said thoughtfully. “Does Wick always fly his men in
that V-shaped formation?”

“Always, I am told,” was the answer.

“He assumes that we want to get at him and that we’ll go for the man
protecting his tail,” Dave said thoughtfully. “That gives his other men
a chance to close in and clean us up. Supposing we fooled him by taking
off his three men on the other line, one at a time?”

“It’s an idea,” the young Lord replied. “Perhaps we’ll try it. Yes, I
think we shall—when the time comes. And it will come, never fear!”

“Alice must be lonesome with Cherry and the children gone,” Dave
suggested to Brand that evening. “Let’s go over.”

“I can’t tonight,” was Brand’s reply. “The Lark is giving me a lesson on
handling a Brownie. You can’t learn too much, you know, not in this
man’s war.”

“Nor half enough,” Dave agreed.

Mounting Brand’s bicycle, Dave rode over the pleasing country roads to
Ramsey Farm. Night was just falling. There was a glorious freshness
about the night air. The war seemed far away. “As if it couldn’t touch
any of us,” he thought. How wrong he could be at times.

He found Alice doing the dinner dishes. Flash was curled up by the fire.
Old Jock was at the stables. Dave grabbed a drying towel and helped with
the dishes. Then they sat by the cheerful fire. He spoke of his day’s
work. “No luck,” he concluded. “Perhaps tomorrow. Brand and I are
getting better with our planes every day. We’ll be fighters yet.”

Alice smiled.

“Tonight _they_ seemed very far away,” she said, after a moment. Her
voice was low. “It’s the first time Cherry and I have been parted for

He knew who she meant and was silent.

From outside came the sound of a car. It stopped. There was a hand on
the latch. Mrs. Ramsey stepped into the room. A large, healthy,
good-natured woman, on arriving it was her custom to shout a cheery
greeting. Tonight there was nothing of that.

“You’re here, David?” she said as she took his hand. “I’m glad.” She
gave Dave her heavy coat, then took a place by the fire.

“It’s a bit chilly outside tonight,” said Alice.

“Quite.” Mrs. Ramsey’s voice seemed strange.

“But still and peaceful,” Dave suggested. “As if there were no war.”

After that for a full minute there was silence.

When at last the mother spoke her voice was high-pitched and a little
strained. “I don’t know how to say it,” she began. “I’m not good at such
things. I’m always too blunt about my speech. ‘Out with it’, that’s been
my motto.

“You must know how I feel,” she went on after a pause, “So why all the
beating around the bush? A rather terrible thing has happened. The Queen
Bess has been attacked and sunk.”

Dave started and stared, yet neither he nor Alice spoke a word.

“It came to me by secret message,” Mrs. Ramsey went on. “The general
public doesn’t know about it yet.”

“And did—did—” Alice’s words stuck in her throat.

“We have only the most meager details,” the mother said. “It was a sea
raider that did it, not a submarine. The raider came in firing a
broadside. Then it vanished into the night.

“In twenty minutes the Queen Bess was gone, down by the bow. There was a
sea on. Some of the lifeboats were swamped. The children were
magnificent! Perfectly magnificent!” Mrs. Ramsey swallowed hard. “All of
them sang ‘Roll out the Barrel’ through it all.”

“Oh—o!” Alice breathed, then hid her face.

“That’s all there is to tell.” Mrs. Ramsey rose. “I must get back. I
practically ran away. There was a frightful raid last night. All our
wards are full. We—we’ll hope for the best.” She was gone.

They sat there in silence by the fire for a long time, the boy and the
girl, in a troubled world.

At last Dave rose to walk slowly back and forth across the well-worn

It was Alice who at last spoke. “Dave. She is not gone. She’s out there
somewhere. You can’t kill such a spirit as Cherry’s. You just can’t.”

“That’s right,” Dave agreed. “It can’t be done.” He meant just that.
“Well,” he sighed, “I’ll be going back. Let me know about things. I—I’ll
bring Brand tomorrow night if we can make it.”

“Dave, I’m sorry,” Alice said as she clasped his hand in farewell. She
was thinking of him just then, he knew that. She was trying to tell him
she was sorry their happy evening together had been spoiled. How sort of
magnificent she was! How marvelous these English girls!

                            _Chapter_ XXIII

When Dave told Brand and the young Lord the news of the sinking, true to
their British tradition they had little to say. Next day, however, they
appeared on the field prepared for the dawn patrol. Dave saw new, hard
lines about their lips.

“I’d hate to be their enemy today,” he thought, as a thrill ran up his

They had been cruising, four of them, the young Lord, Brand, The Lark,
and Dave, for an hour when out of a very small cloud, for all the world
as if it had been waiting there for days, came that same formation, five
planes in a V-shape. One plane following the leader on the right and
three on the left.

“Can I believe my eyes?” The Lark shouted into his speaker.

“You can.” The young Lord’s voice was low. “Not another word. No
shouting, please. You all know how we planned it. I’ll take the talk man
of the three on the left. You know the rest. Tallyho!”

“Tallyho,” came echoing from the others. They were away.

Since they were a thousand feet above the enemy and in the end they came
swooping down from above. They were not seen until the young Lord was
all but upon his victim. His was a murderous assault that could have but
one ending. As if in rehearsal, The Lark slipped into the place left
vacant by the young Lord as he dropped into a power-dive. The Lark’s man
went down in flames. Deserting his post, the third man tried flight, but
with the luck of a beginner, Brand shot downward, then climbed straight
up to riddle the Messerschmitt’s motor and send it down in a cloud of
yellow smoke.

As for Dave, the whole affair had gone off with such speed that he found
himself in a half daze, headed straight for the side of a gleaming
Messerschmitt. Then his eyes registered an astonishing fact. He was
facing the boasting Wick himself, he who called himself a deadly killer.
On the tail of his plane was a black blotch. Dave knew this to be
fifty-six black lines, one for each victim Wick claimed. For a space of
seconds Dave’s blood was turned to ice. Then, with a rush, it was like
molten steel.

They were close now, dangerously close, yet each was out of range of the
other. Suddenly gripping his emergency lever, giving his motor its last
ounce of power, Dave banked sharply, saw the terrible Wick rise into his
sight, pressed the firing button, heard for one brief second his
machine-guns speak, then went into a spin. Whirling over and over and
going down, down, down where the good soil of Merry England lies, he
thought, “This is the end!”

He was wrong. He came out of the spin. How? He would never know.

After levelling off he looked up, then down. To the right of him a
Messerschmitt was falling in flames. Even as he looked it exploded in

Far in the distance the one remaining enemy was speeding away. Off to
the left the young Lord’s line was forming. Climbing slowly, Dave at
last joined that line. Then, in the Sky Over England that was once more
England’s own, they cruised the blue until the young Lord gave the word
and they went thundering home.

As they left their ships on the landing field the young Lord walked over
to Dave, put out a hand, gripped Dave’s hard, then without a word walked
away. It was enough. Dave understood and was glad.

Just at mess time that evening an old man, member of the Home Guard
appeared at headquarters. Under his arm he carried a flat, paper-wrapped

“Thought you might like it, sir,” he said as he placed it in the young
Lord’s hand.

As the others gathered around the flight leader unwrapped it, then
handed it to Dave. It was the tail of a Messerschmitt. On it had been
painted two letters, H. W. Below these letters were 56 long, black

“This,” said Dave, “should be yours.” He gave it back to the young Lord.
“All trophies belong to the leader of the flight.”

“To the entire squadron,” the young Lord replied huskily. “Come. We’ll
put it up where all may see.” He placed it on the mantle. “Not that we
need to boast,” he said quietly, “but that all men may know that the Sky
Over England is England’s alone.”

                             _Chapter_ XXIV
                          Searchers of the Sea

Next morning the squadron commander received a strange request. Young
Lord Applegate walked into his quarters, saluted, then said:

“Commander, I wish to ask for a transfer.”

“A transfer?” The Commander sat forward in his chair. “Why? You are
doing magnificently. Only yesterday—”

“Begging your pardon, sir,” Applegate broke in, “that has no bearing on
the case. I ask for a transfer to the bomber service that patrols the
sea. I was trained for that work, had a full year’s training. That
should be enough.”

“But you are a born fighter.”

“Perhaps,” the young Lord admitted. “And perhaps too one may fight with
a twin-motored bomber.”

“There’s seldom an opportunity on sea patrol.”

“We will make an opportunity. My men, Ramsey, Barnes and The Lark, wish
to go with me. Old Jock, from Ramsey Farm, a gunner, first-class, who
lost a leg in Flanders, will join us.”

“I still don’t see—”

“Commander,” the young Lord’s face was tense with emotion, “with me this
is a personal matter. You’ve heard of the sinking of the Queen Bess?”
The Commander nodded.

“Cherry Ramsey was on that ship. You know her, I’m sure.”

“I have met her. A charming girl. She was doing a grand piece of work.
Was she lost?”

“Her name is not on the list of those rescued. But it is believed,” the
young Lord’s voice rang with hope, “that one life-boat, not swamped by
the storm, remains unreported.

“If I am granted a transfer to the Sea Patrol I shall ask that we be
allowed to patrol that portion of the air over the Atlantic beneath
which the Queen Bess was fired upon and sunk.”

“I see.” The commander’s face was thoughtful.

“That is not all.” The lines on the young Lord’s brow deepened. “I shall
ask that we be allowed to carry two five-hundred pound bombs and be
commissioned to search for the merciless sea raider that sank that
shipload of children. It is still at large.”

The commander nodded. “She attacked a convoy last night. Gave no
warning. Sank three ships, then was away.”

For a moment the commander sat staring at the wall. “It’s very
irregular,” he murmured.

“This is an irregular war, not fought by rules. Fought by men. Thank God
for that!” The young Lord’s chin was up.

“All right. I’ll see what I can do.” The commander stood up. “Report to
me here at noon.”

The young Lord saluted, then marched away.

An hour later he was engaged in a heated argument with his good friend,
Alice. “But, Alice!” his voice rose. “It’s impossible! A woman on a
sea-patrol bomber! Suppose we catch up with that ruthless pirate.”

“All right.” Alice stood up sturdy and tall. “Suppose we do?”

“It won’t be a one-sided fight. That raider carries anti-aircraft guns.
Death may be waiting at those crossroads of the sea.”

“Death.” Alice’s voice was low. “In this war not just young men are
giving their lives for the land they love. Men and women and children
are. It’s everybody’s war.

“Harm!” (She seldom used that name of other days. In her soul was
written traditional homage to nobility.) “It is Cherry who is out there
on those black waters. Our Cherry! Peggy and Tillie are with her. A
woman’s eyes are always sharper than a man’s. Always when we were
children it was my eyes, not yours, that saw the lark soaring skyward or
the finches hiding in the hedges. Harman, let me go!”

“But the farm, Alice?” The young Lord was weakening.

“Surely you can spare Jeff Weeks and his wife for a few days to look
after this farm.”

“A few days? Yes. But suppose it is forever?” The young Lord’s voice was
low. “Alice, more important than our search for Cherry, much as we all
love her, is to be our hunt for the sea-raider. And if we find it there
will be no quarter! It shall be that ship or our plane. Such is war.”

“If it is to be forever?” There was a smile on the girl’s lips. “We die
but once. The farm will not matter. Let me go!”

The young Lord threw up his hands. “I surrender,” he whispered hoarsely.

And so it happened that, when the transfer had been granted and the
young Lord had been put in command of a sea-scouting bomber, one of the
fastest in the service, and when it sailed away into the blue, it
carried not five but six men. One of these “men” had short, bobbed hair,
and as he stood by the one-legged, gray-haired rear gunner, he looked
remarkably like a girl.

At dawn, in a bomber that made their little Spitfires seem like gulls,
the young warriors rose high in air, far above the clouds, to zoom away.

When land was lost from sight the young Lord studied his compass and his
chart, set a course south by west to at last drop down close to the sea.

After that, hour after hour, with eyes that burned from watching and
hearts that ached with longing, they studied the dark surface of the
never-ending sea.

Twice they came upon British ship convoys and dipped low to greet them.
Once they thought they saw a life-boat and hope ran high. But, as they
dropped low, the supposed boat submerged.

“Whale or a submarine?” the young Lord barked into his receiver.

“Whale,” was old Jock’s instant response. So they soared on.

It was only after their gasoline supply began running low that they at
last rose into the blue to go zooming to a landing field in the north of

There, after darkness had fallen, Alice slipped away to a little hotel
where no questions were asked. When, however, she told what she dared of
their mission, she was accorded the hospitality due a queen and in the
morning not a cent would her hostess accept.

“It’s our own war,” said the good lady, “and may the good Lord bless

The second day was more than half gone. The girl’s eyes were red with
watching when she called in her phone, “I—I hear the sound of firing.”

Every headset was removed.

“Not a sound but the motors. Not a sound,” was the report.

“Climb. Then shut off your motors,” Alice insisted.

It was done, and from the west to their listening ears came the roar of
heavy guns.

“Prepare for action,” the young Lord barked. “See that the bombs are in
their place. Make all fast.

“And,” he added softly, “say a prayer.”

Their ship was fast. Smoke loomed on the horizon. Ships, a large convoy,
took form. A minor sea-battle was in progress. Doughty captains of
freighters were pitting their small guns against the heavy ones of a

They were rapidly approaching the scene when with a joyous battle cry
the Lark sang out, “Man! Oh, man! They’ve spotted us. Look! There they
go! Running at full speed.”

“We’re after them.” The young Lord’s lips were drawn into a straight

Old Jock was at the bomb controls, Dave and Brand at the one-pound
cannons, the Lark at the radio.

They climbed a thousand feet, three, five, then twenty thousand feet.
They were all but above the fleeing raider now. Dave tried to imagine
the wild commotion and the frenzied preparation on board that raider at
that moment. Just what the young Lord meant to do, he knew. Life and
death hung in the balance.

As for the young Lord, his brow suddenly wrinkled. He had caught a
glimpse of two specks against the sky.

“Here,” he called to Alice. “Have a look through the glass. Off to the
right! Enemy or friend? Tell me—Quick!”

One look and she told him. “Enemy! Twin motor interceptors. Two of

“Good! We’ll show them how it’s done.”

Ten seconds later he barked, “All set for a power dive!”

The big ship’s nose pointed toward the sea. Far below the raider seemed
a speck. As it grew in size it could be seen to zig-zag this way, then

“All or nothing,” had been the young Lord’s order. “When I give the
signal release both bombs.”

As Dave watched it seemed they could not win. Yet the young Lord had a
keen mind. He had been well trained.

To the roar of the motor and the screaming of the plunging plane was
added the burst of anti-aircraft fire. Death rode the air.

And then Dave realized that the instant had come. Fascinated, he watched
a bomb glide from its place, then another. A second later there was a
lurch as the plane began coming out of its dive.

To Dave, the time of waiting, only a few seconds, seemed endless. Then
came a boom, followed almost at once by a second. And then a roar far
greater than the others. There was a push that lifted them high, then
all but dropped them into the sea.

“Right on the nose!” The Lark roared from his tail gunner’s position.
“Blew up their magazine. Raider, whose captain has a heart of stone, has
met its end.”

“We’ll let those Nazi planes get what satisfaction they can out of
that,” said the young Lord in a surprisingly quiet tone of voice. “We’ll
just hop over and do what we can for that convoy.

“But stay in your places. Man your guns,” he warned. “Those planes may
attack. If they do, give ’em all you’ve got!”

The enemy planes did not attack. Perhaps they had seen quite enough.

Thankful to be alive, the young Lord and his men flew to the rescue of
those British seamen whose ships of the convoy had been sunk. Never
before had Alice been so close to war as now. Helping these cold seamen,
some of them frightfully wounded, from the water into the wings and into
the cabin of their plane, then to the ships that had escaped the raider,
she realized for the first time what it was costing these men to keep
her native land fed, defended and free.

When their two hours of rescue work were over and they were prepared to
take to the air once again, she was shocked to find that in her work for
others she had quite forgotten her bright-eyed sister who must at this
moment be drifting on this very sea or sleeping far beneath its waves.

It all came back to her like a sudden shock of pain as they rose above
the sea.

Another hour of futile search, then the big ship pointed her nose toward
the home base.

“Orders,” the little Lord explained, “just came in on the radio. The
news of our good stroke has reached London. We are to come in for

“Reassignment!” Alice stared but said never a word.

                             _Chapter_ XXV
                               The Rescue

The news of their success had gone on before them by radio. At the
airdrome they were given a royal welcome. Congratulations were the order
of the day. The entire crew was invited to the Squadron Commander’s home
in a near-by village for dinner.

Somehow the word that Alice had been on the bomber at the moment of its
triumph had got about. Ignoring every precedent, the commander’s wife
invited her to the dinner and fitted her out with a dress suited to the
occasion. She was quite the queen of the occasion.

For all her gayety, deep down in her soul the girl was broken-hearted. A
half hour before they went in for dinner the young Lord had told her in
steady, even tones that only served to reveal his hidden emotion that
the invasion of their land seemed near at hand, that the R. A. F. was
sadly in need of heavy bombers for breaking up troop-concentrations on
the other shore. “Five powerful bombers are waiting, all equipped, on
American shores,” the young Lord had said. “My orders are to pick up
crews for these bombers—they are waiting for me at a Scottish
airdrome—and to fly these crews across the Atlantic.”

“No—no more search?” Alice’s tongue had gone dry.

“Perhaps a little coming and going,” he replied, striving to ease her
pain. “We shall sail over those same waters.”

“Then I shall go with you,” she flashed.

“That is as the Commander may decide.” Once before the young Lord had
tried refusing her. Never again.

“He can’t deny me that much.” Alice’s words were steady and sure. Nor
was she wrong.

As the plane took off next day for its long hop across the Atlantic, it
carried twenty-six men and Alice. Perhaps she had been commissioned to
prepare and serve hot drinks for the long journey. No one knew or seemed
to care. She was there. That was all that mattered.

Every man of the company knew her story. When the time came to sail over
the waters close to the spot where the Queen Bess went down for a full
hour every eye was on the sea. Nothing showed, so at long last they
settled back for the hours that were yet to come.

One hour out of every three Alice busied herself serving refreshments.
She slept a little and thought a great deal. Long, long thoughts those
were. Then they were at their secret destination, a cold, bleak shore
somewhere in North America.

A few hours of sleep, then again they were away. This time six powerful
ships zooming away toward the distant skies that are England’s own.

After weary hours of waiting they found themselves once more above the
waters from whence had come the last S. O. S. of the good ship, Queen
Bess. There were five of them now, Alice, Dave, Brand, the Lark and the
young Lord.

As Alice studied first the compass, then the chart, she looked at the
young Lord who was at the controls and he understood.

He wanted to say, “Alice your hopes last too long. Forget the boat. It
can’t be there.” But “forget” he knew full well was one word not to be
found in the girl’s vocabulary. So, pointing the ship’s nose toward the
sea, then stepping down its speed, he sailed close to sparkling waters.
It was midday. The sun was bright. They could see for miles.

A half hour passed. Hope seemed all but gone when, of a sudden, Alice
gripped the young Lord’s arm.

“Harm!” she screamed in his ear. “Off to the right! See! There’s
something white!”

The young Lord saw nothing. He did bank away to the right.

Then they all saw it, a white spot. It seemed to move backward and
forward. Every muscle tense, they waited. The spot loomed larger.
Beneath it appeared a dark form.

“A boat!” Alice cried. “It is a boat! There are people, living people!
They are waving something white!”

“Steady, girl.” The young Lord framed the words with his lips.

Yes, she knew. Other ships had been lost, other life-boats had wandered
away. And yet. It just must be true. It must be the boat from the Queen

As they dropped to the surface of the sea, she found herself holding her
breath. On the prow of the life-boat was a name. Two words. It must be
‘Queen Bess.’ The first letter of each word was large.

“Yes!” she cried at last. “Q. B.—Queen Bess!”

Above the sound of the taxiing motor someone heard her cry. That someone
stood up in the life-boat and screamed,

“Alice! Alice! I know your voice! Oh, thank God we are saved!”

Three minutes more and the girls were in one-another’s arms.

“See what a haul we made,” the young Lord exclaimed sometime later.
“Seven children, one young lady and fifteen able-bodied seamen.”

“And all because one little lady named Alice would not give up,” Dave
replied huskily.

Having watched them as they made their search and noted their landing,
the pilot of a huge four-motored bomber came circling back. By code
messages they made contact with their headquarters. Plans were made and
orders given. The big bomber that had turned back was to supply the
young Lord with extra gasoline, then was to pick up the seamen and bring
them to England. The young Lord and his crew were to carry Cherry and
the seven children to America.

“And after that,” the Squadron Commander’s voice boomed over the air,
“the young Lord Applegate and his crew are to have a two-weeks’ leave in
America. Good-luck and fine flying!”

“Cherry,” Alice teased, when their supreme moment was at an end, “you
have your voice now. You should go straight back to England.”

“Oh, no!” Cherry threw up her hands. “I—I started to America. I’m still
on my way. Beside,” she added soberly. “There are the children.”

Ah, yes, there were the children, Tillie, Peggy and five others. How
brave they had been through all the long hours, only Cherry could tell.
As they climbed aboard the plane, all undaunted, Peggy, the little alley
rat from the London slums, struck up, “Roll out the Barrel.” And they
all joined in.

“But, Cherry,” Dave asked when once again they were headed for America,
“how did your voice come back?”

“Oh!” Cherry laughed. “It was the night our ship was attacked. We had
been fired upon, the ship was sinking. Boats were being swamped by the
waves. But through it all we must keep the children calm and in line.
There’s nothing like singing in a time like that. I thought of a song, a
silly, terrible, glorious song. Its words were on my lips. I opened my
mouth. The words came out, “Roll out the Barrel.” ‘And we’ll all have

  When we roll out the barrel.’

“The children sang. We all sang. We all remained calm. And we got away.

“Some of us got away,” she added soberly. “But my voice, that was a
miracle, I guess. God knew I needed it so very, very badly for that
trying hour.”

A week later Cherry sat in a great easy chair before a broad window. She
was looking out upon a scene of matchless beauty, the broad lawn to
Dave’s big old-fashioned, New England home in winter. The first snow.
They had decided upon this spot because there, of all places, they could
really find rest and peace.

As if dressed for a party, the hedge and great evergreen trees were
decked with white. “It is beautiful! Glorious!” She murmured. “And yet—”

Beside her on a small table lay a letter just finished. She had written
to her mother. Among other things she had said, “Mother, don’t be
troubled. We are going to win the war. We are not alone. More and more,
everywhere I go in America I am told that people are coming to feel
stronger about this war. They will send us guns, ships and planes. We
shall win. We are not alone.”

For some time she sat there quite alone looking away at the winter
landscape. Their journey to America had been a glorious adventure. They
were being royally entertained. Just now Alice was in the kitchen with
the children popping corn. Brand, the young Lord and the Lark had gone

Yes, they were having a grand time. But her thoughts were far away. Only
that morning she had received a letter from her mother. It was full of
news. A flying repair squad had put their house back, good as new. “We
now have a home again,” was the word. “How good that seems! They are
asking for you at the subway. All England calls for their Singing

“All England,” she whispered softly.

Slipping in from another room, Dave took a seat beside her.

“Beautiful, isn’t it?” He spread his arms to include all out-of-doors.

“Yes,” she agreed. “So beautiful it makes your heart ache. But, Dave,
I’m eager to be back in England. I—I just can’t stand the silence.
There’s no excitement, no great cause. It—it’s strange. War is terrible!
But when you belong in it you want to be there. You just ache to be
there. It—it is very strange.”

“You’ll be on your way in a week. Your subway crowd will be waiting for
you. But a week, that’s soon enough,” he insisted.

“And you?” Her voice was low.

“I?” He looked into her eyes. “What do you think?”

“I have no way to know.”

“There are many people here in America,” He spoke slowly, thoughtfully,
“who say this is not our war. Perhaps it is not. Who knows? That
question must be decided by older, wiser heads than mine. But as for
me,” his shoulders straightened, “this _is_ my war. And I’m going back.”

“I’m glad,” she whispered.

“You’ll come to America again sometime,” he whispered after a while.

“Yes, I hope so.”

“Perhaps for good and all?” His voice was low.

“Who knows?” She was staring dreamily at the lovely landscape. Perhaps
she was seeing into the future. If so, what did she see? Dave dared not

Had he but known it, at that moment words from a very old book were
running through Cherry’s mind, “Whither thou goest, I will go; and where
thou lodgest, I will lodge; thy people shall be my people, and thy God
my God. Where thou diest, I will die, and there will I be buried.”

And so that bright day grew dim with the shades of night.

                          Transcriber’s Notes

--Copyright notice provided as in the original—this e-text is public
  domain in the country of publication.

--Silently corrected palpable typos; left non-standard spellings and
  dialect unchanged.

--Left unchanged the hopelessly confused quotation marks around the
  quoted song on page 237.

--In the text versions, delimited italics text in _underscores_ (the
  HTML version reproduces the font form of the printed book.)

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Wings over England" ***

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