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Title: Bill Bolton and the Winged Cartwheels
Author: Sainsbury, Noel, Alger, Horatio, Jr.
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.

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                              BILL BOLTON
                                _and the
                           Winged Cartwheels_


                                   BY
                     Lieutenant Noel Sainsbury, Jr.

                              _Author of_
                     Bill Bolton, Flying Midshipman
                    Bill Bolton and the Flying Fish
                   Bill Bolton and the Hidden Danger

                                   ★


                      THE GOLDSMITH PUBLISHING CO.
                                CHICAGO

                            Copyright, 1933
                    The Goldsmith Publishing Company
                            MADE IN U. S. A.


 _To_ Ashton Sanborn, who is even a finer fellow than I have depicted,
  and who has done even more exciting and more interesting things than
                      are narrated in this story.



                                CONTENTS


  CHAPTER                                                           PAGE
  I The First Find                                                    15
  II Number Fifty-seven                                               32
  III Stolen!                                                         49
  IV What Happened at the Dixons’                                     61
  V Bill’s Hunch                                                      72
  VI Heartfield’s                                                     82
  VII Beyond the Falls                                                95
  VIII A Near Thing                                                  107
  IX At a Dead End                                                   118
  X Enter Washington                                                 133
  XI The Man with the Wheeze                                         145
  XII Argument                                                       159
  XIII Plans                                                         168
  XIV A Friend in Need                                               182
  XV The Shooting Flame                                              200
  XVI The Professor Talks                                            211
  XVII Mizzentop                                                     224
  XVIII The Elephant Gun                                             237



                 Bill Bolton and the Winged Cartwheels


                    _BY LIEUT. NOEL SAINSBURY, JR._



                               Chapter I
                             THE FIRST FIND


“You and I, Bill,” said Osceola, “are on top of the world and throwing
rocks at rainbows!” The young Seminole chief, stooping quickly, picked
something out of the short grass at the side of the Bolton driveway. “A
couple of months ago I was a slave in a cypress swamp without a dollar
to my name. Now I stumble over them!”

“That’s queer,” said Bill, staring at the silver disk in his friend’s
hand. “It’s one of those cartwheels they hurl at you out west instead of
dollar bills.”

“Nobody,” declared Osceola, “ever hurled dollar bills at me!”

“I mean,” said Bill, “it’s queer finding one here. Wake up—don’t let
this new-found wealth cramp your usual technic. You’re in New Canaan,
Connecticut, now—not far away on the western pl—”

“There’s something queerer than that about this cartwheel—look!”

Bill took the extended silver piece and examined it. The coin seemed
genuine enough. Minted in 1897, the head of Liberty was portrayed on one
side and backed by the well-known National Bird, who flaunted a streamer
of E Pluribus Unum in his beak. But this particular silver dollar was no
longer good as “coin of the realm.” Across Liberty’s face a pair of
spread wings was cut deep into the metal, while the American eagle was
defaced by two numerals, 1 and 3.

“Somebody’s pocket-piece, don’t you think?” suggested Osceola.

Bill nodded. “That design and the numerals are diecut. Those wings over
poor old Liberty’s pan look like an aviator’s device.”

“Some cloud-dodger’s mascot, I expect. Thirteen’s probably his lucky
number.”

Bill handed back the coin. “Stick it in your pocket. If we see it
advertised, you can easily return it. In the meantime, the mascot may
help you to keep the luck you were crowing about just now.”

“And why shouldn’t I crow? Instead of having to work my way through my
last year at Carlisle, your father puts me in charge of the foundation
he has inaugurated to help the Seminole Nation. Now, Deborah and I can
get married in the fall. Why shouldn’t I take the count on my worries?
And you’ve got no kick coming. You’re sitting pretty yourself.”

“I sure am,” admitted Bill. “Our Navy’s a swell outfit but I never
expected to stay in after my two years’ sea duty when I’d finished up at
the Academy. Now that the President himself has let me resign and put me
on Secret Service work—well, there’s only one thing I don’t like about
it.”

“What’s that?”

“Oh, people—my friends, I mean, think I’m loafing. They don’t understand
why I should suddenly leave the Navy. And of course I can’t tell them.
This other job must be kept a secret. The President said so.”

“I don’t believe anybody thinks you’re a quitter or a loafer,” argued
the chief, “—not after the three big stunts you’ve pulled off this
summer, and all the newspaper publicity you’ve had out of them. You’re
talking through your sombrero, old son. Bill Bolton is front page news
from Maine to California. If you keep hitting any more bullseyes,
they’ll slap your phiz on a postage stamp!”

“Oh, yeah? Speak for yourself, John—or words to that effect. Looks like
a dead heat to me. How about it?”

Osceola abruptly changed the subject. “If this silver dollar was lost by
an aviator,” he observed, fingering the coin, “he never dropped it out
of an airplane, I know.”

“And so what?” Bill was mildly interested.

“Well, the fool thing was lying on a leaf—and the leaf was only slightly
bruised—”

“Maybe it bounced or rolled onto the leaf after it fell onto the
driveway?”

“Not this cartwheel. There’s not a scratch on it, except for the wings
and the number thirteen. Six bits to a counterfeit two-cent piece with a
hole in it, the yap who owns this has a hole in his trousers pocket!”
Osceola dropped to his knees and studied the short grass at the edge of
the drive. “Yep, just as I thought—” He stood up and flecked a dab of
mold from his immaculate flannels, “here’s the fella’s spoor. He wore
rubber-soled shoes.”

“I thought,” said Bill, “that Dorothy Dixon was the one and only
Sherlock Holmes in this village. You certainly run her a close second,
though. What did the aviator who didn’t aviate do next? Keep on out to
the garage and scratch his initials on that new de luxe roadster you
bought last week?”

“Not on this hop, he didn’t. He—wait a sec till I get a squint at this.
Yes! by Jove! it wasn’t me he was interested in, but your own sweet
self.”

“How do you get that way so soon after breakfast?”

“Listen, you blind paleface, even from here I can see that his tracks go
straight over to the house. He climbed up to the farther window of your
room by way of that leader, and the ivy. Several pieces of the vine are
lying on the grass where he broke them off getting up or down! Even you
ought to be able to see that the wire on that window-screen has been
tampered with. If you don’t believe me, shin up there and take a look!”

“Oh, I’ll take your word for it.” Several times before, in his career,
Bill had encountered evidence of the young Seminole’s truly marvelous
eyesight. “Do those scintillating orbs of yours tell you _when_ all this
occurred?”

“They most certainly do, you mole.”

“When, then?”

“Between nine and nine-thirty last night!”

“Sure it wasn’t quarter to ten?”

“Quite sure,” smiled Osceola.

“I know,” said Bill, “that you can spot anything in daylight, or in the
dark, for that matter, but when you claim to turn yourself into a human
time clock, I ha’e me doots—”

“Oh, yeah? Well, listen, kid, and I’ll prove to you that Red Men aren’t
as bad as they’re painted. Last night I left you with the girls over at
the Dixon’s, and walked in the front door just as your hall clock was
striking nine-thirty.”

“That’s right. You came over here to work on some figures for your new
Seminole schools.”

“O and likewise K. I went straight up to my room and took my work out on
the sleeping porch, where it was cooler. You found me there when you got
back at eleven, didn’t you?”

“That’s all right, too. But what’s that got to do with the climbing
aviator?”

“Why, just this. From nine-thirty until eleven-thirty I was out on that
porch with the light going. Then I went to bed there and slept till this
morning. And let me tell you, Bill, old son, that the man has yet to be
born who can shin up a rainpipe thirty feet away from me and I not know
it, awake or asleep!”

“Maybe he came before nine.” Bill was already convinced that his friend
knew what he was talking about, but he wasn’t hauling down his flag
without a last struggle.

“It wasn’t dark last night until nine o’clock, daylight saving time,”
Osceola explained patiently. “Also, last night there was a heavy dew,
even _you_ can see it on the grass still, and—”

“And the silver dollar was wet while the leaf remained bone dry, showing
that said cartwheel was dropped early in the evening!”

“You certainly are the boy to ring the quoits,” mocked the chief. “But
now that we know all about it, we really aren’t much forwarder. I don’t
suppose you’ve missed anything in your room? You haven’t said anything
about it.”

“No,” Bill said thoughtfully, “I haven’t noticed anything, but we’d
better go in and have a look. I wonder who that bird was and what he
wanted. Funny! Nothing was disturbed so far as I can remember.”

The two tall lads turned back toward the house.

“And there’s where our second-story aviator swung off the grass on to
the drive when he was going home,” exclaimed Osceola, pointing to a thin
spot on the gravel which bore a well-defined footprint, pointing toward
the road. “If it was worth while, which it isn’t, we could probably find
the tire-marks of the car he drove off in beyond the stone fence down
yonder.”

Bill grunted. “When you say ‘second story,’ you probably hit the nail on
the head. In future we’ll substitute worker for aviator, if you don’t
mind. There are a lot of bum flyers with licenses, and a lot of bums who
fly, but I wouldn’t insult the worst of them by classing him with a
cheap sneak thief.”

“Maybe,” remarked Osceola, “he wasn’t so cheap at that. But we’ll soon
find out.”

They went up the front veranda steps, into the house and upstairs to
Bill’s room.

“I don’t run to jewelry,” observed Bill, his eyes travelling around the
bedroom, “but he hasn’t touched my silver-backed brushes, or that string
of cups on the mantelpiece. And the maids didn’t report any silver
missing downstairs, either. I wonder what in thunder he was after.”

“Got anything of value in that drawer?” his friend inquired, pointing to
a flat-top table desk between the windows. “Somebody’s been fooling with
the lock. I can see the scratches on the wood—”

“Nothing but some papers, worth nothing to anybody but me. Old newspaper
clippings, Navy orders, my honorable discharge and the like. By gosh!”
he cried, “the lock’s busted! And somebody’s messed up the entire
drawer. Look here—these things were in piles with rubber bands around
them. Now they’re scattered all over the place—”

“Anything gone?”

“Wait, I’ll see.” Hurriedly he sorted out his possessions, then shook
his head. “Not a thing. What under the sky-blue canopy do you suppose
that dollar-dropping buzzard was after?”

“You haven’t said anything to anyone about the new job, have you?”

“You and Dad are the only ones outside of the people in Washington who
know about it.”

“But this doesn’t look like it, Bill.”

“You don’t mean that the goop who got in here last night was in the
know! Why, I haven’t been assigned any work yet. What could he expect to
find among my papers?”

“Perhaps,” mused Osceola, “he, or whoever sent him, has an idea that
you’ve been put to work already, and they want to know how much you’ve
found out or what your instructions are.”

“Some gang the government is after, you mean?”

“It’s quite possible.”

“But how could they learn that I—”

“A sieve,” said Osceola sententiously, “isn’t the only thing that leaks.
Someone in Washington has spilled the goldarned beans, inadvertently or
not.”

“If you’re right, Osceola, this is serious business.”

“Of course it is. What are you going to do about it?”

“Wait, watch and listen. I’m due in Washington next week to receive my
orders. Until then, I shall do nothing.”

“And I guess you’re right, at that. My surmises may be all wet, though I
doubt it. Just the same, we’ve nothing concrete to go on except that a
lad climbs in the window and goes through your desk.”

Bill closed the drawer. “Let’s forget it, then,” he suggested. “At least
for today. You and I, old Rain-in-the-face, have a heavy date. Had you
forgotten it?”

“Not likely. When you’re engaged, a fella can’t think of anything else
but the next date!”

“You’ve sure got it bad,” grinned Bill. “Thank goodness, I’m still heart
whole and fancy free!”

“What about Dorothy Dixon?”

“Aw, shucks! We’re just good pals, and you know it.”

“Says you!”

“Says both of us. I’m seventeen, and she’s a year younger. Neither of us
is thinking about getting married, or anything like that.”

“Gee, I forget you’re really only a kid,” laughed Osceola. “Well, let’s
shove off. The girls are going up there in Dorothy’s plane. They said
they’d bring lunch. Where is this place we’re going to picnic, anyway?”

“Up in the hills beyond Danbury. It’s quite near the far end of
Candlewood Lake.”

“Was it up that way you and Dorothy corralled the New Canaan bank
robbers?”

“Yes, quite near there. That’s how we learned of the wood lot. It’s
secluded, there’s a good spring, and it’s really a peach of a place for
a picnic.”

“Well, let’s get goin’ then.”

“Coming, Romeo—coming!” Bill followed his impatient friend out of the
room. “What’s eatin’ you? It’s early yet.”

“Maybe it is, but—well, laugh if you want to, I’m uneasy as blazes about
those girls!”

Bill caught up with him as they ran down the steps of the side porch and
headed out to the hangar.

“It must be awful to be in love. The girls are all right. Dorothy is an
A-1 pilot. I ought to know. I taught her myself.”

Osceola said nothing more until they had passed the garage and stables
and were crossing the flat meadow where the Bolton hangar was located.
“Thank goodness, Frank has run out that Ryan of yours,” he exclaimed as
they came into View of a two-seater monoplane parked before the open
doors of the converted haybarn.

“Getting lazy in your old age, are you?” jeered Bill.

“No, but I’ll admit the sooner we’re off and up in the hills, the better
pleased I’ll be.”

“Well, you can hop right in, old fuss budget. While you were working on
your school plan, early this morning, I came out here and went over the
bus from nose to tailplane. Pull out those wheel blocks and carry them
into the rear cockpit with you. Meanwhile I’ll show you how the new
inertia starter I’ve rigged her with can swing a prop. Make it snappy,
big chief—this is an emergency patrol—the women must be saved at all
costs!”

Bill adopted a mock-heroic attitude and roared with laughter at
Osceola’s disgust. Twenty minutes later, Bill, at the controls of the
Ryan, sighted a rectangular patch of light green framed in the darker
green of the Connecticut hills twenty-five hundred feet below the
speeding plane. He clapped a pair of glasses to his eyes and the woodlot
sprang up at him. It seemed he could almost reach out and pluck the
flowers that dotted the high grass. Then he turned his gaze to the upper
corner of the field.

There lay Dorothy Dixon’s small amphibian, parked near the road which
wound up the wooded valley. Close by, a motor car was drawn up at the
edge of the field. For a moment he failed to sight either Dorothy, or
her pretty Seminole friend, Deborah Lightfoot.

“Under the trees beyond the plane!”

Osceola’s shout almost broke Bill’s eardrums, coming as it did through
the close-pressed receivers of his headphone set. Automatically, he
dropped the glasses, caught at his safety-belt to see if it was fastened
and shoved forward.

The Ryan bucked into a nosedive and dropped earthward with the speed of
a shooting star.

Osceola’s premonition of danger had been a wise one. Beneath the trees,
Dorothy and Deborah were struggling with two men.



                               Chapter II
                           NUMBER FIFTY-SEVEN


Bill levelled off with an abruptness that jarred the very vitals of the
plane. Then he allowed the tail to drop slightly, the wheels made
contact and the monoplane rolled forward over uneven ground, propelled
by her own momentum. Before she actually came to a stop, both lads flung
themselves from the cockpits and raced for the trees thirty or forty
yards away.

It soon became evident that they would be too late to come to close
quarters with the girls’ assailants. Brave enough when they had members
of the opposite sex to deal with, the ruffians had no desire to mix it
up with a couple of husky young aviators. Flinging the struggling girls
aside, they turned tail and legged it toward their car with a burst of
speed worthy of Olympic runners, and no split seconds to spare.

Bill and Osceola immediately sheered off toward the road, but by the
time they reached the edge of the field, the motor was only a cloud of
dust hurtling down the valley.

“If I’d had a gun,” said the Seminole, without the slightest catch of
breath, “there’d have been a different ending to this affair!” He
scowled at the disappearing car and turned to Bill. “I thought you
always packed a gat aboard your crates—when we went into that nose dive,
I nearly broke my neck trying to find one.”

“Sorry,” gasped Bill, whose sprint had left him winded, “I never thought
of them as necessary adjuncts to picnics before! Next time I’ll come
provided. It’s just as well those thugs got away, though. Two scalped
bandits would mean all kinds of unpleasantness up here in New England.
Here come the girls, now. They seem to be none the worse for their
adventure.”

“You,” declared the chief, “make me infernally tired.” He strode off
toward Deborah.

“You aren’t damaged, I hope?” asked Bill as he came up to the trio.

“Only rather mussed,” smiled Dorothy, a pretty girl with brown hair and
the figure of an athlete. “In fact, I’ve kind of an inkling that those
foreign gentlemen got more than they bargained for. The guy that started
to rough-house me, ran away with a broken wrist. Some of the old frumps
around New Canaan stick up their noses at my jiu jitsu, but I’ve found
it a valuable asset several times in my hectic career!”

“And what did you do to your sparring partner, Deborah?” he asked the
slender Indian girl who had slipped her arm through Osceola’s.

“Not much, I’m afraid, Bill. The brute made me break three perfectly
good fingernails.”

“I’ll say he did,” chimed in Dorothy. “And his face looked like raw
beefsteak when he broke away from her. He nearly knocked me over, he was
in such a hurry, and I got a good look at him. If you boys want a first
class imitation of a wildcat gone wild, pick on our gentle Deborah. Take
my advice, Osceola, and handle her with kid gloves after you’re
married.”

“One of these days, I’ll catch that hound,” promised the young chief.
“And when I finish the job he’ll look worse than his passport picture.
How did this all start, anyway?”

“Well, you see—” began Dorothy.

Deborah interrupted her with a smile. “Let’s feed this bloodthirsty
pair,” she suggested. “I’m longing for iced tea myself, and men are so
much more reasonable when they’ve eaten! This big brave of mine will be
starting on the warpath again unless we give him his lunch.”

“I,” said Bill, “second the Seminole chieftainess’ motion! Also, I bar
scalp locks in my food. Let’s get to the chow before Osceola gets
going.”

“Some day,” retorted Osceola, “you’ll say something funny, and the rest
of us will die of shock from the surprise.”

“Here, here,” interposed Deborah, seizing his arm, “come on, we’ll have
to do some forcible feeding, I guess!”

“Aren’t they the cute pair!” whispered Dorothy as she and Bill followed
toward the grove of maples where the lads had first sighted them from
the plane. “Deb’s asked me to be maid of honor at their wedding. I
suppose you’ll be Osceola’s best man?”

“I suppose so,” said Bill gloomily.

“Why, you don’t sound very much interested! The Indian braves will all
be in their war paint, and the squaws—”

“—it is hoped will wear something warmer and more appropriate for this
climate!”

“Don’t be silly. You know what I mean. And anyway, no self-respecting
redskin puts on war paint for his chief’s wedding. I guess it’s too
suggestive of what he’s to expect after the ceremony is over.”

“Oh, is that so! Well, you women can certainly get up a good fight, if
that’s what you’re driving at. I’ll bet you’re just tickled foolish to
be in on the wedding party, and the pageant the tribe will make of it.”

“Why—”

“And your father’s plan to bring the whole tribe to New Canaan is just
grand!”

“Oh, that’s part of it. Look here!” Dorothy turned on him. “Just what
don’t you like about it, Mister Stuck-up?”

“Well—er—you see,” Bill explained, “the ancient Seminole custom forces
the best man to kiss the maid-of-honor right after the ceremony—and I—”

He ducked just in time to avoid her open palm on the side of his jaw,
and ran off toward his plane. Over his shoulder, he called: “Naturally
you’re keen on the wedding,” he teased, “but there’s no excuse to get
affectionate beforehand. I’ve got to make the Ryan secure. Run along
now, and put on your war paint. There’s a smudge on your nose.”

“There is not!” snapped Miss Dixon, then she stalked off as Bill doubled
up with laughter. “Some day,” she muttered to herself, “I’ll make that
smart-aleck the one and only also-ran in a first class massacre.”

However, the first thing Dorothy did, upon reaching the picnic spot, was
to hunt for her handkerchief and bring forth a compact.

Bill strolled back, whistling, hands in pockets. The others were already
seated about a white cloth laid on the ground, which was spread with a
lunch that made his mouth water. He threw a glance at Dorothy, caught
her eye and they both laughed.

He dropped down beside her. “Let’s call it quits,” he grinned.

“Not on your sweet life, young man. One of these days—but never mind,
now you’re my guest at luncheon. We’ll call it an armistice. Dig in.
Everybody helps himself at this party.”

Osceola, who had been piling Deborah’s plate with everything in sight,
in spite of her protests, started in to gnaw a chicken leg, and began
talking with his mouth full. “Cut the comedy, Bill. Waylaying girls, and
especially, waylaying my girl, is serious business. I don’t intend to
let it go at that either—not by a darn sight. And the more I know about
what really happened, the sooner I’ll be able to get a line on those
bozos.”

“I’m just as keen as you are,” Bill retorted, helping Dorothy, then
helping himself to cold chicken and potato salad. “Men like that need a
good thrashing. You can’t count me out on any move you make. In fact
I’ve got some ideas of my own—I got their license number as a starter.”

“That,” said Dorothy, and she reached across Bill for the biscuits, “may
give us a start and then again it may not. It didn’t help much in the
bank robbery, if you’ll remember. From the looks of those two tramps, I
should not be surprised if the car had been stolen.”

“And where do you get the ‘us’ stuff?” inquired Bill.

“If you two boys think you’re going to run this show without Deb and me,
you’ve got another think coming. Isn’t that so, Deb?”

“It certainly is. We both saw the men and talked to them. Where would
you get a description of them if not from us?”

“Now look here,” Osceola waved a chicken bone at her, “let’s call it a
foursome, and can all the argument. What’s more, Dorothy’s idea about
the car being stolen, is, ten-to-one the right dope. That was a big bus
and this year’s model. Those things cost a heap of money.”

“That’s the way I figured it,” answered Dorothy. “And let me tell you
that no two men who made such a fuss about losing a dollar would cough
up four thousand of them for a car like that!”

Bill stared at Osceola meaningly. “What did you say—that one of them
lost a dollar?”

“Yes—and a silver dollar at that—one of those cartwheels they use out
West instead of bills.”

“GOOD NIGHT!” exploded Bill. Osceola stared at him in dumb amazement.

“Yes,” she went on, “but why the great excitement? The dollar that man
lost—he was a Russian or something, by the way he talked—well, that
dollar started the mixup. But you two look as though you’d seen a flock
of ghosts—what?”

“Just one,” said Osceola, and his tone was deadly serious. “But never
mind that now. Get on with your own story, then we’ll tell ours.”

She looked first at one and then at the other of the lads. “Well, just
as you say. Of course, I know there’s something I don’t understand
behind this, but I’ll be a sport and do my talking first. Deb and I flew
over here and parked my bus where you see her now. We made things
shipshape aboard, then toted the lunch over here and went to the spring
to get water. It’s over by the road, you know, and we were just about to
fill the pail, when that car came bumping along the dirt road, doing
fifty, if I’m any judge of speed. I’d just said to Deb that the fellow
who was driving couldn’t think much of his springs, when something
bright flew out of the window. It lit in the high grass near us, and I
went over to see what it might be. The grass was so high and the ground
so rutty that I couldn’t find a thing. Then I thought I saw something
shining in the rubble, but when I picked it up, it was nothing but a
piece of quartz, so I dropped it again. By that time the car had stopped
and was backing up the road. Two men sprang out and came running toward
me. They were both dark, and both spoke rather broken English. The
bigger of the men yelled at me to give him back his silver dollar. I
told him I’d seen it fly out of the car, that I’d been looking for it,
but couldn’t find it. My answer seemed to stump him for a minute, then
without another word, he and his pal got on their knees and began to
comb that part of the field for it. I wasn’t at all taken by their
looks, neither was Deb, so we filled our pail and came back here....
Somebody give me a drink,” she broke off, “all this talking makes me
thirsty—”

Bill filled her glass with water, and after taking a few sips, she went
on with her story.

“Where was I? Oh, yes, well, we hadn’t been here long when the men gave
up their search and followed us. It seems that they’d seen me stoop to
pick up that quartz and they thought I must have their old dollar! Of
course, I denied it, but they were only more insistent. To finish the
tale, the big one said that if I wouldn’t hand it over, he’d take it
from me! Well, as you saw, he tried to do just that. Deb horned in, like
the peach she is, and number two tried to stop her. Things were getting
more hectic than pleasant, when they suddenly broke away, and I saw you
boys hot-footing it for us. And I want to end this long speech by saying
that never in my life have I been gladder to see two human beings. I
haven’t had a chance to thank you both before, but I certainly do it
now! It was simply stunning to see the way you came at them!”

“And that goes for me, Bill,” cut in Deborah, “I’ve already told
Osceola, but I want to tell you, too, how much we appreciated the
wonderful way you dashed to our rescue.”

“I think,” said Bill, “that the rescue, as you call it, was all in favor
of the assaulters. Those bohunks, or whatever they are, bit off a lot
more than they could chew when they tackled you Amazons. The chief and I
did no more than save them from taking the count on their backs, worse
luck!”

“Dorothy, did you say that the dollar landed in the field just below the
spring?” asked Osceola.

“Yes, just there—or thereabouts.”

“Excuse me,” he said and stood up. “I’ll be back in a minute or two.”

Bill watched the young Seminole stride away toward the road. “That guy,”
he declared, with a wink at Dorothy, “has a one-track mind. Wild horses
won’t drag him off the track, either, once he gets started.”

“And some people—have no minds at all!” Deborah ran swiftly after her
fiance.

“Ha-ha! Put that into your pipe and smoke it,” Dorothy laughed at the
surprised look on Bill’s face. “She’s quick on the come-back, isn’t
she?”

“Too blooming touchy, if you want to know—”

“Oh, my goodness! A girl isn’t worth a thing who won’t stick up for the
man she’s engaged to!”

“Perhaps not—but I’m no girl—and all this love business makes me sick.
Osceola has acted like a hen with one chick ever since Deborah came into
the picture.”

“Oh, cheer up, old gloomy, she didn’t mean anything by that—any more
than you did by your wisecrack! And by the way, you and Osceola are
invited to dinner at my house tonight. You’ll have to dash away early
though. Daddy’s gone to Hartford on business and won’t be back till
tomorrow. I don’t want to lose my rep, you know.”

“Thanks for the invite,—but I didn’t know you had any.”

“Oh, you didn’t! Well, let me tell you, young man—”

Osceola’s voice cut her short. “Here it is!” He flung a silver dollar
onto the white cloth.

Dorothy picked up the coin and examined it.

“Number two of the series, on a bet?” said Bill, looking up at the
chief.

“Almost,” replied his friend, “but not quite. This is number
fifty-seven.”


That night at dinner the main topic of conversation among the four young
people was the winged cartwheels, as Dorothy had named them. They had
arrived home too late to do anything about tracing the car license, and
after the meal was finished, Bill and Osceola noticed that the girls
looked tired and decided to leave even earlier than they had planned.
They walked across the ridge road to the Bolton place opposite, and were
in bed and asleep by eleven o’clock.

The telephone in Bill’s room awoke him with a start. He glanced at the
luminous dial of his wristwatch, and caught up the receiver. It was then
exactly ten minutes past two.

“Bill! Oh, Bill—is that you?”

“Speaking, Dorothy. Anything wrong?”

“Oh, Bill—please come quickly—those men have got Deb and—”

The wire went dead. Bill guessed it had been cut. Dropping the receiver,
he snatched an automatic from under his pillow, leaped from his bed, and
raced for the hall.



                              Chapter III
                                STOLEN!


Bill burst into the hall and almost collided with Osceola, who had just
stepped out.

“What’s the matter?” hissed the Seminole. “The phone woke me.”

“Got a gun?”

“Yep—what is it?”

“Come on. Deborah’s kidnapped—they’re evidently after Dorothy. They’re
in the house now!”

The last sentence was hurled at Osceola as the two lads, both barefoot
and in pajamas, raced downstairs and across the broad entrance hall to
the front door.

“Wire was cut while Dorothy phoned,” panted Bill, pushing back the bolt
and twisting the key in the lock.

Osceola uttered not a word, but he was first through the open door and
took the porch steps at a single leap, Bill at his heels. They sprinted
down the turf along the driveway, and were nearing the stone wall that
bounded the Bolton property, when a car without lights swung into the
road from the Dixon place and sped toward Stamford.

Without slackening in speed, the young chief spoke quietly. “Don’t fire.
The wall hides the wheels—Debby might get hurt.”

“Could you—see her?”

“No. But I heard that little gat of Dorothy’s go just now. She’s still
in the house.”

By this time they were crossing the road in two bounds and side by side
they hurdled the Dixons’ white picket fence like hounds let loose from a
leash.

Leaping flowerbeds and vaulting shrubs they flew over the garden, darted
through an opening in the high box hedge and came on to the smooth turf
where ancient elms cast mottled shadows in the moonlight. Then from the
white shingled house directly ahead came the terrified screams of women,
punctuated by the bark of revolver shots.

As they dashed up to the house, a wire screen flew out of a second story
window and a slender, boyish figure dove head first out after it. Two or
three feet below the window sill the porch roof sloped downward at a
slight angle. The diver seemed to land on her hands, crumple up, turn a
complete somersault and come swiftly upon her feet again with the ease
and precision of an acrobat.

“Look out, Dorothy!” yelled Bill, as a revolver was thrust out of the
window.

With the agility of a springbok, she leaped aside, firing from her hip.
The bark of the four shots was almost simultaneous. There came a shriek
of pain from the window, the automatic rattled to the roof, and the hand
that had held it disappeared.

Bill lowered his gun. “Wait here till she’s parked,” he ordered. “Then
smash a porch window and go in. I’ll tackle them from above.”

With the butt of his smoking revolver between his teeth, he took a
running leap and went up a pillar with an ease and swiftness that
demonstrated his seaman’s training. His hands caught the gutter, his
body swung up and sideways and springing to his feet he ran along the
slanting roof to Dorothy.

“Did he hit you?”

“Missed by a mile!”

“Good—” Bill picked her up. “Come on—”

“But, Bill—I’m in pajamas—”

“So am I—down you go!”

He dropped her into Osceola’s waiting arms. As she landed safely and the
young Seminole stood her on her feet, he called: “They must have another
car, Dorothy. Put it on the fritz!”

Then without waiting to see whether this rather cryptic command was
understood, much less executed, he zigzagged up the roof to the side of
the house. With his back pressed against the shingles, he moved sideways
to the window and peered in.

The room was full of smoke, but he made out a figure slipping through
the doorway into the hall, and fired. The door slammed and someone shot
home the lock on the other side. From below came a crash of broken
glass.

“Good old chief!” muttered Bill and went in through the open window.

He realized instantly that the bed was on fire. He grabbed the flaming
sheets and threw them on the floor, kicking a handsome rug out of the
way. Determined to save the rug, if possible, for a moment he was at a
loss how to put out the flames. He did not enjoy the thought of stamping
out a fire with his bare feet. The room was dark, after the brilliance
of the moonlight out of doors, and the acrid smoke stung his eyes and
set him coughing. Flames began to shoot upward from the smouldering
mattress. His eye sighted a wall switch by the head of the bed, and an
instant later he clicked the room into bright illumination.

The door to the bathroom was open and Bill caught the sheets by the ends
which the fire had not yet reached, dragged them across the room and
tossed the blazing mass into the bath tub. He turned on both taps, and
ran back to the bedroom.

He next seized the mattress, doubled it over at the center, and
endeavored to smother the flames. In this he was only partly successful,
for the charred padding continued to smoulder and smoke. In exasperation
he rolled it up, carried it to the window and thrust it forth. Quick as
a flash, he was on the porch roof and not until he had flung it to the
ground did he pause to fill his lungs.

But he was impatient to discover what was happening to Osceola below
stairs, while he had been engaged with this inopportune blaze. He darted
back into the smoke-laden chamber, and made for the door to the hall. It
was locked. He picked up his automatic from the chair where he had
dropped it and was about to fire into the lock when the handle rattled.
Someone in the hallway was trying the door.

“Open up or I’ll shoot—” snapped Bill, and was seized immediately
afterward with a spasm of coughing that left him almost helpless.

The key turned in the lock and the door swung inward, disclosing Osceola
and a leveled automatic. Directly behind him stood Dorothy.

“Gosh!” she exclaimed. “You still here! Where’s the fire?”

The cool draught of air started by the opening of the door momentarily
cleared the atmosphere and Bill composed himself with an effort. “In
your bed—if this is your room,” he wheezed. “I put it out—darn it.
Where’s that man gone? The one who locked me in?”

“Got away,” grunted Osceola. “And the other one, too.”

“Did they have another car?”

“Yes, but Dorothy got to it first and put the engine out of business.
She—”

Shrieks and howls from above their heads cut him short. He turned to
Dorothy. “You’d better run upstairs and let those maids out so I can get
straight with Bill. They’ll wake New Canaan if you don’t. The poor
things have been raising the roof ever since those thugs locked them in
their rooms. Now they’ve smelled smoke and probably think the house is
on fire.”

“Right-o! I’ll go up and quiet ’em.” Dorothy hurried off toward the rear
staircase.

Bill leaned against the wall and stared at the mess in the room. “Either
the guy we winged, or his pal, set fire to Dorothy’s bedding. He hoped
it might give us a job putting it out and they’d have a chance to make
their getaway. So far as I’m concerned they did exactly that. You don’t
seem to have had any better luck.”

“You’re right on that, too. When Dorothy beat it round the house to
scout for their car, I went through the living room window. And it will
take some mending, that window! I smashed it with a porch chair.”

“Never mind the window—what did you do then?—faint?”

“Don’t try to be funny—I beat it inside and up the front stairs. Just as
I reached this floor, I saw the two thugs flit round the corner to the
back hall, and the service stairs. They had got out of sight by the time
I got to the top of the stairs, but I heard the creak of the swinging
door and knew they were on their way out through the kitchen. So I
plunged down after them. And let me tell you, boy, plunged is just what
I did. When I woke up, Dorothy was pouring a pitcher of water over my
head.”

“When you woke up!”

“Why, you see, one of the guys must have grabbed a broom some fool maid
had left standing in the back hall, and he had laid the darned thing
slantwise across the stairs, about a quarter of the way down, with the
broom end jammed into the banisters. I never saw it in my hurry, and I
took the rest of the flight head first. I’ve got a bump on my bean the
size of an egg. Why I didn’t break my neck is a mystery to me!”

“Oh, you were born to be hung,” said Bill airily. “But let’s hear the
rest of what happened.”

“Look here, old chap, I’ve been driven nearly frantic by this mess—here
we are—I fall down stairs, you fight a tuppenny fire—and we’re supposed
to be doing something—_anything_—to—to—”

“Oh, I know it—don’t you suppose I know how you feel? Gosh, it’s got me
the same way. But we’ll get her back soon. Meanwhile, we have to check
up on each other, don’t we? It’s the only way we can get started on the
real business.” Bill spoke as encouragingly as he could, but he had no
idea how to go about tracing Deborah ... any more than had his friend.

“Sure, you’re right, Bill. Only when I think of Deb in the hands of
those—Well, I’ll go on. Nothing important happened after that tumble I
took. Dorothy brought me round, and those lads had beat it for parts
unknown with at least a five minute start. She told me that after she’d
fixed their car, which was the same one Number 57 went off in this
morning, she hiked round to the porch again. She’d just got in through
the window I smashed when she heard my fall—and found me. Just about
that time, she smelled smoke, so as soon as I could stand, we searched
for it—you know the rest.”

As he finished, Dorothy came up to them. “They’re all quiet, now,” she
said, referring to the maids. “What’s next on the program? Have you got
a plan of any kind?”

“We know _what_ to do, all right—and that’s find Deborah—” admitted Bill
bitterly, “but _how_ to do it is another question, and I, for one, don’t
know the answer.”



                               Chapter IV
                      WHAT HAPPENED AT THE DIXONS’


Osceola looked at Bill. “I think,” he said slowly, “the best thing you
and I can do right now, Bill, is to get into some clothes.”

Bill nodded. “Good idea! Socks and shoes will make a particular hit with
me. If the soles of my feet aren’t cut to ribbons, they certainly feel
as if they were!”

Dorothy, tight-lipped, arms akimbo, glared at them in disgust. “Well!
You certainly are an energetic pair!” Her eyes fairly snapped with
scorn. “Deborah’s fiance and his best friend see her kidnapped under
their very noses, and then decide the best thing to do is to get
dressed! My word—you make me sick—”

Osceola gave the angry girl one look, shrugged his shoulders and walked
silently downstairs. The front door slammed, and Bill turned on her.

“Well, that was a very pretty exhibition, I don’t think,” he began.

“Oh, go home and put on a necktie!” she retorted savagely. “Oh, _dear_,
how can you boys—when—” She broke off and burst into tears.

“How could _you_ deliberately torture that splendid chap—I had no idea
you could be so cruel, Dorothy. Why, Osceola’s the salt of the earth and
you know it. He was too much of a gentleman to tell you what a little
idiot you are, but I’m not!”

“Is that so!” With a quick gesture, she brushed away the tears and took
a step toward him. “If Osceola is such a paragon, why doesn’t he light
out and find Deb? He’s supposed to be in love with her, isn’t he?”

“He _is_ in love with her, and that is what makes the things you said to
him so brutal!”

“Then how can he waste his time—and that goes for you too—in silly
chatter—why not start something—”

“Yes? and what—”

“Action’s what’s needed, and spelled with a capital A!”

Bill smiled crookedly. “And what kind of action, spelled with a capital
A, do you suggest?”

“I’ve heard that he can trail anything that runs. Those men had to leg
it out of here. Why doesn’t he follow them, for heaven’s sake, if he’s
such a star at that sort of thing?”

“My dear young lady, Osceola has been three jumps ahead of you all the
time. He knows that those tracks will only lead through your grounds out
to the road. I don’t know where you got your ideas of trailing but no
man, red, white, black or yellow, can follow another’s trail on an
automobile highway. Dirt roads are one thing, tar or solid concrete are
something else again!”

Dorothy looked discomfited. “I never thought of that,” she said.

“You see, Osceola doesn’t know where to turn next. Neither do I, and for
a matter of fact, neither do you.”

For a moment she stared at him and Bill braced himself for a flood of
tears. Instead she ran to him and caught his arm.

“Bill—I’m so darned sorry—I—”

“Oh, never mind—that’s all right,” he said gruffly, embarrassed by her
contrition.

She shook her head. “But it isn’t all right. I’m going to slip into some
beach pajamas, then I’m going straight over to your house and tell him
just what a pig I really am!”

“There’s no need of that, kid. He wants cheering up, all right, but
he’ll be back here soon to give me a chance to run over and put on some
duds.”

“But what’s the idea—”

“You don’t think we’re going to leave you alone tonight after what’s
happened?”

“But I’m not scared. Those men won’t come back again, not tonight,
anyway.”

“Maybe they won’t, but there’s no sense in taking chances. Go into your
room and dress if it will make you feel more comfortable. We can talk
through the door. I want to know exactly what happened before you
telephoned me.”

“All right. Wait and I’ll pass out a chair. If you’re as tired of
standing as I am, you’ll need it.”

She went into the bedroom and came out with a wicker armchair in tow.
“By the way,” she said suddenly, “why do you suppose those men picked on
us? One of them was the big Russian who lost his silver dollar and
kicked up such a fuss about it.”

“That,” answered Bill, “is one of the things I’m not sure about. In
fact, I haven’t had time to put my mind on it.”

“You don’t think they came back for that pocket-piece?”

“Hardly that. There’s a whole lot behind this business that we aren’t
onto yet.”

“Well, what’s your idea?”

“If you must have it, I’m beginning to believe that we’ve come into
contact with a gang whose tokens or badges of membership are the
numbered, winged cartwheels. And the gang is undoubtedly a large one. We
know that there are at least fifty-seven of them.”

“Gee!” Dorothy looked startled. “Really, Bill? But why under the sun do
these cartwheelers pick on Deborah?”

“Of course, I haven’t the dimmest idea what these fellows are up to. But
seeing what took place last night over at my house, I’ve got a hunch
that they think either Osceola or I are wise to what _is_ going on. You
two girls, after this morning’s experience, are probably the only two
persons who have seen members of the gang, knowing them to be just that.
Therefore, it’s quite on the cards that they want to put you both safely
away where you won’t be able to identify those two until they’ve pulled
off their big stunt—whatever that may be. Of course, I may be all wrong,
but up to now we’ve had next to nothing to go on except those dollars!”

Dorothy looked at him admiringly. “I always knew you had a head on your
shoulders, Bill.” She shut the door to her room.

“Better turn off the water in your bath tub,” Bill called after her.
“And don’t forget I want your dope on tonight.”

“I won’t—just give me a chance,” her muffled voice came back to him.
“Gosh, but this room is a mess!”

Bill set the chair just outside her door and sat down. He was tired and
he wanted to think, but Dorothy didn’t give him much opportunity to do
so.

“Can you hear me?” He guessed she was standing near the door.

“Perfectly,” he replied.

“Well, here’s the tale and there isn’t much to it. After you two went
home this evening, Deb and I came upstairs. We got undressed and then
went into her room, just across the hall from mine. I guess we talked
for about an hour. She was telling me—oh, about this and that—whatever
we talked about has nothing to do with what happened later.” Her voice
grew fainter as she moved to another part of the room, but Bill could
still hear her well enough. “After that I came back here. When Daddy’s
away, I always lock my door, and it’s a mighty lucky thing I did
tonight. I probably wouldn’t be talking to you now if I’d left it open.
Deb locked hers, too, but it’s a warm night, and after I was in bed I
heard her open it. I thought it might be a good idea to get more air
myself, but the breeze was blowing in at this side of the house, and I
was too lazy to get up. While I was thinking about it, I must have
fallen asleep.

“Well, the next thing I knew, I heard Deb scream. Then I heard her
shout—‘They’ve got me, Dorothy—phone Osceola!’ She knew I had an
extension in my room, of course. She didn’t call again, and I figured
someone had slugged her. The phone is right by my bed, but it took an
awful time to get central. I could have killed that girl by the time she
said ‘Number, please’ ... then when I gave her yours, it seemed an age
before you answered. Then when we were cut off, I guessed that one of
the thugs had cut the wires. Somebody tried my door, and I ran over to
the bureau and got my little automatic. I was scared silly, but I knew
you and Osceola would soon be here, so that helped a lot. I was just
starting for the door, when the strangest thing happened. I heard the
key turn in the lock and before I could do anything to stop it, the door
was pushed open.”

“Wait a mo. Yes, the key sticks out about an eighth of an inch on this
side. They must have got hold of it with a pair of pincers.”

“So that’s it! I couldn’t imagine—well, let me tell you, the sight of
that key turning in the lock all by itself gave me the creeps!”

“What did you do when the door opened?”

“I started right in firing—of course I didn’t know what I was shooting
at, but for a few minutes I had ’em buffaloed, I guess. Suddenly they
made a rush. I fired once more, then beat it for the window and went
through it—” She opened the door and came into the hall, clad now in a
simple white linen dress. Bill saw that she had put on a pair of white
tennis shoes and socks.

“Well, you’re some quick dresser—” he got up from the chair.

Dorothy smiled and made him a little bow. “And I timed it nicely, didn’t
I? Just to the end of my speech—”

“You certainly made a dramatic entrance. Say—there’s the door bell—”

“Osceola?”

“Sure to be. I’ll cut along now and leave him to your tender mercies.
See you later.” With a wave of his hand, he left her standing in the
hall and ran swiftly down the stairs.



                               Chapter V
                              BILL’S HUNCH


Bill opened the front door and let Osceola into the house. The chief was
fully dressed. He looked tired and worried to death.

“You’d better go over and dress now,” he said dispiritedly. “I’ve phoned
the New Canaan police station and the Chief will be along in a few
minutes. Meantime, I’ll locate the place where the telephone wire was
cut and splice it if I can. There isn’t much we can do until morning,
worse luck. By that time, we’ll have a chance to line things up a little
better, and perhaps have some course of action planned.”

“I’ve just got a hunch,” said Bill. “I’ll tell you about it when I come
back. If the hunch turns out to be a good one, you and I will get on the
job long before daylight.”

“Then here’s hoping it will be a good one—” Osceola’s tone was more
cheerful now, “there’s nothing worse than this rotten inaction.”

Bill nodded. Then he called to Dorothy, who stood at the head of the
stairs. “Where’s your father staying in Hartford?”

“The Hiblein, I think—he usually does. If you ’phone him, tell him I’m
all right, and give him my love.”

“I will. So long!”

He ran down the porch steps, and hurried across the lawn toward the
highroad. When he got to his room, he went straight to the telephone
where he called up the Hiblein Hotel at Hartford, and eventually heard
Mr. Dixon’s voice on the wire.

“Bill Bolton speaking—” he began abruptly and launched into an account
of the night’s happenings.

“My thanks to you, boy, and to Osceola,” said Dorothy’s father. “I won’t
waste time now in talking about this outrage—but you can count on me
being in New Canaan just as soon as the car can get me there.”

“Just a moment, sir—there’s something else I want to tell you, and
something you can do for us.”

“Shoot,” said Mr. Dixon.

Bill rapidly ran over the adventures of the silver dollars, gave his own
suspicions of the case, and ended by mentioning his affiliation with a
certain department in Washington.

“Good enough, Bill. That explains why you resigned from Annapolis, of
course. You undoubtedly have a flair for this kind of thing. But there
doesn’t really seem to be any tangible clue to go on in this beastly
kidnapping affair. Have you hit on anything yourself?”

“The license number of the gangsters’ car, the one that’s parked in your
drive at present, sir, may lead us somewhere. Of course it may have been
stolen; and if not, the owner’s house would be the least likely place
for them to take Deborah. Still, if we could locate that residence,
Osceola and I might be able to get a line on the chap and his friends.
What do you think, sir?”

“That sounds like a mighty good plan. No telling what you may stir up.
But where do I come in?”

“Why, the office of the Commissioner of Motor Vehicles is in Hartford,
you know, of course, and it won’t be open till nine in the morning. I
thought that you, being the president of the New Canaan Bank, might have
a drag with some of the politicians up there in the capitol, and that
they might arrange it so you could get the information we want tonight.
If you could do that, and ’phone it on to me, then Osceola and I might
be able to get the jump on them, do you see? It’s not likely the owner
of the car guesses that the girls took his license number this morning,
especially as we did nothing about it right away. I’ll admit that that
was an error on our part, but we hadn’t any idea of what we were up
against then.”

“Don’t let that worry you,” replied Dorothy’s father. “You’ve done
splendidly—you’ve figured a logical why-and-wherefor to this business,
and that’s a piece of constructive work. What are you doing now?”

“I’ve come over here to put on some clothes, sir. I’m still wearing
pajamas—”

“I see. By the way, what’s that license number?”

Bill gave it to him.

“All right. Now go ahead and get dressed, then wait at your house until
you hear from me. It won’t be long, because it happens that the State
Commissioner of Motor Vehicles is an old friend of mine. We played golf
together this afternoon. I’ll have the name and address of that car
owner for you in short order.”

He rang off and Bill hung up the receiver. He put on a bath robe and
slipped his feet into a pair of moccasins. Then he went downstairs and
out to the garage. There he saw to it that the gas tank of his own car,
a high-powered sport coupe, was full, drove it round to the front door
and went up to his room again.

When he was completely dressed he went downstairs. He was beginning to
feel hungry, and the prospect of a motor trip with no breakfast at the
end of it made the idea of food all the more interesting. After he had
cooked a substantial meal of bacon, eggs, and coffee, and had consumed
every particle of it, he felt decidedly better and more in the mood to
carry on at this early hour.

Then he went into the living room and threw himself down on a large
divan, where he relaxed tired muscles and brought his mind to bear on
the matter of the winged cartwheels. Perhaps a quarter of an hour had
gone by, when he sprang up and went into his father’s study. The
telephone bell was jangling loudly.

“That you, Bill?” He recognized the voice as Mr. Dixon’s.

“Speaking, sir.”

“Well, I rang up the commissioner and here’s the car owner’s name. He is
a Serge Kolinski, a naturalized Pole, and he has a house in Sherman
Township, Connecticut. Do you know where that is?”

“Why, yes—the field where we picnicked is not so far from Sherman.”

“Well, this time you’d better run up there by motor. It will be handier
for getting round than a plane, and a car may be more useful to you. Do
you happen to know where the old Heartfield’s Club is?”

“No, I don’t. But I’ll find it.”

“Here are your directions. When you get to Danbury, take Route 136,
going north. About twelve or thirteen miles farther on, you’ll find that
the road winds through a narrow valley. Where the valley widens out
you’ll see a large square white house on the right, and a red barn
behind it. That is the old clubhouse. You can’t miss it, for it’s the
only house near the road in that part of the valley. The club itself no
longer exists. It failed financially a few years ago.”

“Then the club house is shut up?”

“No, it’s not. A chap named Davis and his sister have rented the place
for the summer. But what I want to say is this: on the side of the hill
above the club house are several houses, built by members when the club
was flourishing. Mr. Kolinski has rented one of them and is living
there. Knock up Davis, who is by way of being a solid citizen, and he
can tell you which is the Kolinski bungalow.”

“Thanks very much,” said Bill. “We’ll get under way at once.”

“Now hold on, young man. There’s something else. I’m driving over there
myself, and with me will be two other cars filled with state police.
Deborah Lightfoot is Dorothy’s guest, and very naturally, I intend to be
in on this. You will, of course, arrive at Heartfield’s before I do. Get
a line on Kolinski, and do a bit of reconnoitering, if you like, but
don’t start any offensive until we come. Those are orders, remember.”

“Suppose,” argued Bill, “that Deborah’s at Kolinski’s, and we see her
being transferred to some other hiding place?”

“Use your own judgment in that case, my lad. The object is to get
Deborah back, unharmed, of course. But you’ve evidently got a first
class thug to deal with. And by the way, get one of your friends to stay
in the house with Dorothy, if you possibly can. The thought of leaving
her there worries me.”

“That will be taken care of,” returned Bill. “The New Canaan police have
been notified. They are probably across the road now. I’ll see that she
is well guarded.”

“Thanks, Bill. Good luck—and be careful.”

“I will—see you at Heartfield’s, sir.”

Bill hung up the receiver and went out to his car. He was surprised to
find that it was raining.



                               CHAPTER VI
                              HEARTFIELD’S


Bill’s car sped into the sleeping town of Danbury. It splashed through
the rain along streets where the lights ran together in golden pools.
The swish of the water flying gutterwards was like the sound of the sea.

Bill spoke to Osceola: “There’s a dog wagon open,” and he pointed to a
lighted sign. “Better eat. I had breakfast while I waited for the dope
from Mr. Dixon.”

“If you had, no need of stopping then. Dorothy fed me before I left. I
meant to ask you if you wanted anything, but this news from Mr. Dixon
took it out of my head. There’s a sign that says Route 136—guess that’s
our road.”

Five miles north of Danbury the rain slackened and finally stopped. The
cool wind of early dawn sprang up and by the time they started to climb
the winding turns of the Heartfield’s Valley, every cloud had been blown
out of the sky. The east was painted a faint grayish pink as they roared
into a straightaway between the wooded hills. Then the valley opened
out, the road hugging the base of the hill on their left, while on the
right wide meadows spread a carpet of high grasses that reached to the
foot of the opposite hillside.

Half a mile further on, they came upon the old club house, set back from
the highway in a group of fine elms. Here some attempt had been made to
fashion a lawn, but as they swung up the rough drive, Bill noticed that
the house was badly in need of paint and repair. He drew up at the side
of the house, facing the red barn and an extensive apple orchard whose
gnarled trees had not felt the pruning knife for many years. There
appeared to be no bell, so Bill rapped sharply on the side door.

“Hello!” A man’s voice answered from behind a window screen just above.
“What do you want down there?”

“Mr. Davis?” Bill stepped back a few paces so that he could get a better
view of the window.

“That’s me,” said the owner of the voice, and yawned prodigiously.

“Mr. Dixon, the New Canaan banker, sent me up here to get some
information from you, sir.”

“Wait a minute—I’ll come down.”

Osceola got out of the car and walked over to Bill. “How much are you
going to tell him?” he asked in a low tone.

“Mr. Dixon said he was O.K.” Bill answered quietly. “Wait till he comes
out. We’ll size him up for ourselves.”

The side door opened and a heavy set man with gray hair, arrayed in
khaki trousers, a pajama jacket, and slippers, came out to meet them.

“Well, you are early callers,” he said jovially, “the New Canaan bank
has a lien on this place, of course. I hope you haven’t come to turn me
out?”

“Oh, nothing like that, sir,” smiled Bill. “We merely want some
information, as I said before.”

Mr. Davis looked relieved. “You see,” he explained, “I’m a stockholder
in the old club, so I have as much right to live here as anybody, I
suppose. My business went pot last spring, so my sister and I are
camping out here for the summer. I notified the receiver of the
property, and as he said nothing about rent, I haven’t paid any.”

“We have nothing to do with the receivership, so set your mind at rest
about that. My name is Bolton, and this is Chief Osceola of the Seminole
Nation.”

“Why, this is an unexpected pleasure,” beamed Mr. Davis, as they shook
hands. “You’re the two young fellows we’ve been reading about in the
papers all summer. Don’t tell me you’re on the track of more slavers or
pirates up here in this quiet spot?”

“Do you know a man named Kolinski, a Pole, I think he is?”

“Why, yes, I do, though not well. He’s rented the Landons’ cabin for the
season. That’s the one right up the hill here, back of the barn.”

“Then he’s not a particular friend of yours?”

Mr. Davis’ eyes twinkled. “Well, hardly,” he returned with a shake of
his head. “Kolinski is hardly what one would call a good mixer. He parks
his car in the barn here—the hill is too steep and the path too narrow
to drive up—and he seems to be a rather surly sort of chap. What he and
the man who is his servant do with their time, I’m sure I can’t imagine.
We have a nodding acquaintance, that’s about all. So I’m afraid that the
little I know about him won’t help you much. But I don’t mind saying
frankly that I don’t like the looks of him, nor of his man. He’s a
shifty-eyed individual, and on the few occasions we’ve spoken I’ve
caught him in a couple of lies about small matters that really didn’t
amount to a hill of beans. If he’s trying to swing a loan from Mr.
Dixon’s bank,—well, I’d want to be mighty sure of his collateral.” Mr.
Davis pulled out a briar pipe and proceeded to tamp in tobacco from a
pouch.

“Do you happen to know whether he is in his house now?” Osceola spoke
for the first time.

“No, I don’t think so, because his car isn’t in the barn. The one you
see there belongs to me.”

Osceola gave Bill a meaning look. “It is the car—or rather its
license—that brought us up here,” he went on. “About two o’clock this
morning, my fiancee, Deborah Lightfoot, was kidnapped from Mr. Dixon’s
residence in New Canaan. The kidnappers were forced to leave their car
behind, and we have learned that it belongs to your neighbor, Mr.
Kolinski. There were evidently two groups, and the first got away with
Deborah in one car, but we arrived in time to forestall the others,
though we weren’t able to capture them and they got away on foot.”

“What a dastardly business!” exploded Mr. Davis. “And you say Kolinski’s
car was left behind?”

“Yes, Mr. Dixon, who was in Hartford at the time, is on his way over
here with a cordon of state police. They ought to arrive within an hour
or so.”

“Have you fellows got guns?”

Bill patted the holster under his left arm. “We have—and there are a
couple of rifles in my car.”

“Wait till I get mine and slip on a pair of boots—” Mr. Davis made for
the house. “I’m going up the hill with you.”

“He’s a good hombre!” declared Osceola to Bill, as Davis disappeared.

“He is that! Let’s corral the rifles.”

In a very few minutes, Davis reappeared. The only visible change in his
costume consisted of a pair of high trapper’s boots laced to the knee.
He wore a cartridge belt slung over one shoulder, and in the hollow of
his right arm he carried a repeating rifle.

“Come along—” he led them down a path which cut a narrow swath through
the field behind the house. “Maybe our friends are up there in the cabin
and maybe they’re not. My sister tells me she heard a car stop out on
the road a couple of hours ago, but she didn’t get out of bed to see who
it might be. It was raining hard then, and as you aviators say, the
visibility was poor. She didn’t hear anybody walk up the drive past the
house, though.”

“They could have cut round the house and climbed the hill from a point
farther up or down the valley—that is, if they were trying to establish
an alibi—and if we find them at home, after all,” suggested Bill.

“Then,” said Osceola, who was bringing up the rear, “those guys had a
good long way to hoof it.”

“How come?”

“Swamps. Down at the foot of this meadow, and as far as you can see
along the valley.”

“That’s right,” agreed Mr. Davis. “Any other way but this would add at
least three miles to their hike. That broad, sluggish stream ahead of us
runs the full length of the swamp and only partly drains it. The bridge
at the end of this path is the only way across.”

“Is that the house, half way up the hillside in that grove of trees and
underbrush?” inquired Osceola.

“You’ve got good eyes to spot it at this time o’ day,” said their guide.
“No—that house belongs to a man named Kennedy, although it is empty at
present. Kolinski’s cabin is higher up and over to the left.”

Still in single file they passed onto a corduroy trail through the swamp
and over the bridge. On the farther side, the ground rose steeply. A few
yards beyond they came to a fork in the path.

“Take the left to Kolinski’s—” announced Mr. Davis. He stopped and
turned to the lads. “My plan is to take this right hand path to
Kennedy’s and up through the woods. In that way we can make a half
circle so as to come down on Kolinski’s place from above and be under
cover the whole way. We’ll have broad daylight to contend with by the
time we get there. If we go direct, anybody in the house can see us
pretty well the whole distance up the hill. What do you say?”

“I think that’s a first rate idea,” said Bill.

“The only thing to do,” agreed Osceola. “Surprise is half the battle on
a job like this. If you two don’t mind, I’ll scout on ahead. Wait in the
woods a hundred yards above Kolinski’s for me. I want to take a
look-see, but you palefaces make too much noise going through
underbrush!”

With a low chuckle, he darted up the path at a sharp trot and
disappeared among the alders like a wraith in the half-light and quite
as silently.

“That pace would kill me in fifty yards, going up hill,” admitted Mr.
Davis, as they trudged in the direction Osceola had taken. “Is your
friend really an Indian, Mr. Bolton? He looks no darker to me than a
well tanned Spaniard or South American.”

“Oh, he’s a real live redskin, all right. But a great many of them
aren’t noticeably different in coloring from a lot of us so-called
Americans, you know. Osceola was born to the chieftainship of his clan.
Last year, although only twenty, he was unanimously elected the Great
Sachem of the entire Seminole Nation. He is one of the finest fellows
I’ve ever met. I only wish I had half his talents or knowledge. He’s a
senior at Carlisle this year, although he’s not going back. His fiancee,
the girl who’s been kidnapped, is Chieftainess of another clan of the
Seminoles. She is a college graduate, by the way, and a most charming
person.”

“Well, you certainly have interesting friends—and you yourself have done
more interesting things than most men meet up with in a lifetime,”
contended Mr. Davis. “How old are you, may I ask?”

“Seventeen on the second of this month.”

“You don’t say! Remarkable—my word, when I was your age, I was still
tied to apron-strings, and stayed tied to them most of my life. Now,
that house just ahead is Kennedy’s. The path ends here. We’ll take to
the woods, and I’ll do my best not to disgrace myself in the
underbrush!”

Bill soon realized that Mr. Davis was a trained woodsman. Not a twig
cracked as they pushed their way up the steep hill through a thick
growth of young trees and bushes that in places became a veritable
jungle.

It was bright daylight when they swung round to the left and came down
the hill again to a shallow ravine some distance above the Kolinski
cabin. As the two dropped down on the short grass, hot and nearly
winded, Osceola slid from behind a tree trunk.

“Any luck?” whispered Bill.

“No,” replied the Seminole gloomily. “We’ve had this hike for nothing.
There’s nobody in the cabin.”



                              Chapter VII
                            BEYOND THE FALLS


“Well, that certainly is disappointing.” Mr. Davis wiped the
perspiration from his brow. “I suppose you made absolutely sure?”

Osceola nodded. “A window was open in one of the bedrooms. I went in and
went through all four rooms and the cellar. What’s more, when they left,
they took their clothes and papers with them. Not a sign of either in
the house. I don’t think they’ve been up here since early yesterday
evening.”

Mr. Davis looked surprised. “How can you place the time?”

“In several ways. If they had taken a lot of stuff down the hill in
daylight, the chances are that you or your sister would have seen them.
We know that Kolinski and probably his man as well were in New Canaan at
two this morning, and that is thirty-five miles from here. Though
there’s plenty of dust in that house, I saw no particles of mud either
on the mat inside the door or on the floors.”

“So we’re just about where we were before we started on this wildgoose
chase,” proclaimed Bill wearily.

“Hardly that, Bill,” protested Davis. “We’ve got one more bet in this
neck of the woods.”

“What?” Bill and Osceola stared at him. Mr. Davis got to his feet.

“Come along. We’ve got to go down to the club house. I’ll tell you about
it as we go.”

They had passed Kolinski’s cabin, a one-storied house solidly built of
native stone, and struck off down the path toward the bridge before
Davis spoke again.

“I don’t want to raise false hopes,” he said, “and this hunch may come
to a dead end, too. But here it is for what it’s worth. I was trying to
remember if I had ever heard the couple’s name, but I’m sure I haven’t.
Half a mile up the valley road from my quarters you come to an abandoned
mill on the other side of the highway. The place has an old wheel and
stands beside a stream that rushes down a gorge in the hillside. You can
see from here that the hill opposite is much higher and steeper than
this one. The only path up there is the trail that starts at the mill
and runs along the side of the gorge. The stream is the outlet for a
small lake up there on the plateau and drops down the gorge in a series
of very beautiful falls. The lake and the woods are off the Heartfield’s
Club property. They belong to an estate with a good-sized house on it,
about half a mile beyond the falls. There’s a sort of path round the
lake, I believe, that joins a path leading up to the house from the
farther shore. I haven’t been up there for years, but I distinctly
remember the woods round the lake were swampy. However, when the last
owner bought it, he put a high wire deer fence around his land to
prevent trespassing. This club was in full swing then, so you can hardly
blame him. But no one has lived there for the last few years. I heard
over in Sherman that the whole place, house, land, lake and everything,
had been bought by a foreign couple who had moved in. Timkins, in New
Milford, brought their furniture over there from the railroad, and there
was an awful lot of it, he said. Most of the stuff was packed in big
cases and enormously heavy. You see,” he said, as they reached the
bridge, “I’m trying to give you every bit of information I can about
that place beyond the falls, and the reason is this: several times
during the last three weeks, I have seen both Kolinski and his man going
up and coming down that path by the mill. Either they had been enjoying
the beauty of the falls, which I doubt, or—they’d been visiting the
owners of that estate!”

“Humph!” grunted Bill. “I suppose there’s a road up on the top of the
hill?”

“Yes, a dirt road that passes the house and joins the highway some miles
farther on after it leaves this valley.”

They walked on in silence toward the club house, each of the three
busily formulating plans.

“I’ll tell you what,” Bill said suddenly as they reached his car.
“Osceola and I will go up to this place you’ve been talking about, and
we’ll go by the path near the mill. You wait here for the police, if you
don’t mind, Mr. Davis, and pilot them round by road. If these rascals
really have Deborah up there, they’re likely to have sentries posted
near the house, so advise Mr. Dixon and the police to leave their cars
some distance down the road. If you men don’t come across us by that
time, surround the house and rush it. Because,” he added, with a
grimace, “We’ll probably be needing your help rather badly.”

“But hadn’t you better wait for the police yourselves?” Davis looked
worried.

“And have those guys cart Deb off through the woods while the bunch of
us come up to the house from the road? No indeed,” Osceola answered
vigorously. “Bill can do as he likes, but I’m going up by the mill path.
They won’t be expecting visitors from this side.”

“I’m going with you, Osceola,” said Bill. “Thanks a lot for all you’ve
done and are doing for us, Mr. Davis. The gang from Hartford ought to be
here within the hour.”

Osceola stepped forward. “Sorry I spoke abruptly, Mr. Davis. I must
apologize—”

“Don’t mention it, my boy,” Mr. Davis cut in. “No hard feelings—I
understand your anxiety. Run along now and I’ll take care of the police
when they arrive.”

The boys hurried off down the rutty road toward Route 136. Half a mile
along the highway they came to a bridge across a bubbling stream. Above
the road on their left the ruins of the mill pointed broken rafters
toward a cloudless sky. On the water side, bearded by the spray from the
falls, was the ancient wheel that indicated the industry of bygone days,
when the farmers brought their grain to be ground.

“There’s the trail!” Osceola pointed to an overgrown path that led up
the mountainside just beyond the mill, and with Bill at his heels, he
darted up and under the overhanging arch of trees.

The beauty of the deep gorge, the milky water churning down the steep
background of jet black rocks and green ferns, the series of waterfalls,
blown in the breeze like filmy veils,—all were lost upon Bill and
Osceola. With the thought of pretty Deborah a prisoner in the hands of
ruffians, they concentrated upon two things only: to reach the house
beyond the falls as quickly as possible, and to do so without attracting
attention of watchers who might be on the lookout.

Osceola stopped shortly before they reached the top, and motioning
caution, darted into the woods away from the stream. Then he paralleled
the path upwards again for a hundred yards or so with Bill directly
behind him. All at once, he dropped to the ground, Bill followed suit,
and the two crawled over to a fallen log and peered over it.

Slightly ahead, and perhaps fifty yards to their left, was the lake Mr.
Davis had described, sending its overflow down the gulley in a silver
sheet of sparkling water. Between them and the waterfall, the path was
bisected by a high gate in a fence of heavy wire mesh, whose top was at
least ten feet above the ground. This ran in both directions, blocking
intrusion along the mountain top. They could see that it ran even along
the dam at the mouth of the lake, while on their side of the path it
disappeared in the thick growth of bushes and trees.

But their whole interest was centered upon the man who lay flat on the
ground behind the gate. They could see him plainly. He was watching the
path, hidden from it by a tree trunk, and at his side lay a
long-barrelled rifle.

“Deborah,” said Osceola in his normal tones, for the noise of the falls
was almost deafening, “is over in that house behind the lake. I’d stake
my life on it. Shall I pot this guy?”

Bill shook his head. “Better not—they might hear the shot at the house,
you know. The buzzard deserves death, if he’s a kidnapper, and I suppose
he is—but we’ll let the police settle with him.”

“Yeah, if they get him. Well, let’s be going. I wish I’d brought a
tomahawk with me!”

Having uttered this altruistic thought, Osceola slithered off through
the undergrowth very much in the same manner that a snake travels
through long grass, and Bill, perforce, went after him. Presently the
young Indian Chief stood up. The gate in the fence and its sentry were
no longer in sight. Both lads climbed the high wire and dropped inside
to the ground. Osceola took the lead again, and set off through the
trees at a smart trot. When it came to woods-craft, Bill knew this young
Seminole to be without a peer. He never argued with Osceola in the
woods, but was content to do as his friend directed, for he knew that no
white man could approximate the American Indian’s native cunning in the
forest.

As they progressed the ground became hummocky, and soon developed into a
swamp, but this did not cut the speed of the lads in the slightest. They
leapt from tuft to tuft of the coarse grass clumps with the agility of
mountain goats, and crossed the evil smelling place without wetting a
foot.

Although he could not see it, Bill knew that the lake lay somewhere to
their left. When Osceola struck off obliquely in that direction, he
guessed that they had passed beyond it. And he soon saw that he was
right. A few yards farther on the trees ended in a belt of thick and
overgrown shrubbery. Just beyond, an unkempt lawn surrounded a hideously
ugly house of the cupola-and-mansard-roof variety, painted bright
yellow.

“Gosh!” muttered Bill to his guide, “if I lived in that dump, I’d perish
of colic!”

Osceola gave him a savage look. “If you don’t keep quiet, we’ll both die
with several ounces of lead in our hides! Shut up, now, and turn your
mind to what I taught you down in Florida about crossing open spaces on
your belly. I’ll go first.”

He dropped prone and wriggled through the grass to a large bush without
a sound and at an amazing rate of speed. Bill then did likewise, and was
soon at his friend’s side. Their next move was to a belt of
rhododendrons which grew close to the yellow house, and in great
profusion. Near them was an open window. Bill went to one side, Osceola
to the other. They stood up and looked in.

Before them was evidently the living room of the house. At the far end,
four men and a woman were seated about a small table, breaking their
fast. On a couch across from the window, lay Deborah. She was neither
bound nor gagged; she seemed to be asleep.

Bill’s eyes sought Osceola’s. The Chief nodded.

With the ease of the trained athlete, first Bill, then the Seminole,
lifted himself swiftly to the window sill and sprang into the room.



                              Chapter VIII
                              A NEAR THING


The woman at the breakfast table was the first in the room to see Bill
and Osceola spring through the open window. She screamed, the four men
jumped to their feet, sending chairs crashing backward to the floor, the
table rocking—and pandemonium broke loose.

Gripping their rifles by the barrels and swinging them like clubs, the
lads charged the surprised kidnappers, who pulled revolvers and began
shooting almost immediately. But after the first few shots, attackers
and attacked became involved in a scrimmage so close and so heated that
firing was impossible. Bill, wielding his rifle like a singlestick,
managed to ward off the clubbing revolvers of his assailants, but
Osceola, dropping his gun, went at them like a wild man, using fists
alone.

In the midst of the fracas, a man sprang onto Bill’s back. By use of a
jiu jitsu trick he catapulted his attacker over his head and on to the
breakfast table which collapsed, sending broken china and glass in every
direction. Osceola staggered and fell to the floor under the blow from a
revolver butt, and Kolinski pressed the muzzle against the stunned
Seminole’s temple. Like a streak of light, Bill jerked his automatic
from its holster and the Pole went over backward with a bullet through
his shoulder. Then Bill saw the woman, who still stood behind the debris
of the breakfast table, pick up a plate and sail it through the air at
him. He tried to duck, but was again held fast from behind. A burning
pain seared his eyeballs and he, too, dropped insensible to the floor.

Bill awoke, gasping and sputtering, his head and shoulders drenched in
water. His head was splitting, and the darkness round about him was shot
with a myriad of dancing lights.

“Give the Indian another bucketful,” wheezed a cracked voice from the
gloom.

Bill heard Osceola’s characteristic grunt as the water splashed over
him. His mind began to clear, and soon he realized that he was bound
hand and foot and that his eyes were bandaged. Again he heard the
unmistakable wheeze in the cracked voice, and this time the high-pitched
tones were full of sarcasm.

“And all this comes from entering where angels fear to tread!” A man’s
voice, surely, thought Bill, but an old man—

The unseen speaker chuckled and went on with his monologue. “Although we
have not met before, my young friends, I have climbed these many stairs
to bid you goodbye. It pains me to send you off in this abrupt fashion,”
again he chuckled, “but I cannot take you with _me_—and you are probably
familiar with the adage that dead men tell no tales. You will be glad to
hear that the young lady, Miss Deborah Lightfoot, will not mind her
passing on to Happy Hunting Grounds quite as much as you two will. She
was given a hypodermic in the car on the way up here, and is, to all
intents and purposes, asleep.”

“But—surely you don’t mean to kill an innocent girl!” raged Bill.

“Ha-ha!” tittered the old man. “So that gets you on the raw, eh? What
says the bereaved husband-to-be?”

“Sachems of the Seminole Nation do not waste their words on buzzards.”

“Thank you, young man,” wheezed the voice. “It is interesting to learn
at first hand that the American Indian is as stoical in undergoing
mental torture as in burning at the stake! But to return to your
girl-friend on the floor over there—Miss Lightfoot made two bad
mistakes. She had the misfortune to get a good look at one of my
associates when he was searching for a certain emblem. And in the car,
she ripped off my mask, and _she saw me_! Against my wishes, I must send
her away with you, or else certain plans of mine would be jeopardized.”

“Well, Osceola, old man,” said Bill, ignoring their tormentor. “Sorry I
got you into this, and sorrier still we both have to listen to this
pitiful drivel. Unless he stops his cackle soon, I’ll be forced to take
a nap in self-defense.”

“So long, Bill, old sport,” Osceola replied in his deep, grave voice.
“Happy hunting—and sweet dreams!”

“Very pretty, very pretty indeed, young gentlemen. So sorry to bore you
longer. You will be interested to know that my lookout on the hill tells
me the police have just left Heartfield’s in their cars. They should
reach here in about fifteen minutes. But you must not become too
impatient. You see, I have a surprise for you and for them. In slightly
over a quarter of an hour, this house and those in it will go shooting
skywards—in other words, blow up. Good-bye again,—I must fly now, and
I’m sure my news will help you keep your courage to the very end.”

Bill heard footsteps creaking on bare boards, then a door slammed. He
turned at once to his friend.

“How are you tied?”

“Roped—wrists behind my back—and ankles. Blindfolded, too.”

“Same here. Wriggle over and I’ll get my hands on the knots.”

“Coming—but rip off this bandage first, and I’ll do the same for you.
Then I can use my teeth on your wrist bonds—it’ll be easier and quicker
that way.”

Bill heard Osceola slither across the floor and the bandage was ripped
from his head. He in turn pulled off the young Seminole’s bandage and
while his friend’s sharp teeth were working on the knotted ropes that
bound his wrists, Bill sat up and took in their surroundings.

He saw that they were in a small room, empty of furniture. There were
two windows in each of the four walls of the room. A door cut off one
corner, and near it, Deborah lay on the floor, deep in her drugged
sleep.

“I’ll bet we’re in the cupola,” said Bill, his eyes on the girl. “If I’m
right, it’s a four-story drop to the ground, and that door looks too
strong for us to bash in before the explosion.”

Osceola grunted, then spat copiously. Bill found that his wrists were
free, and swinging round, he began to work on the rope which bound his
friend.

“Ugh,” uttered the Seminole in disgust, “my mouth is full of hemp. I
always did hate the taste of it.”

“Well, what I want to know is how we’re going to get out of here—and
with Deborah?”

“I can’t tell you. Wait till we get our legs free. Maybe the outlook
from the windows will give us an idea.”

“And maybe it won’t,” snorted Bill, working with feverish haste on the
tight knots. “You know, I believe that old devil hoped we’d get loose.”

“How come?” Osceola, his hands free at last, was tearing at the rope
around his ankles.

“Wants us to get free of these things—then find out there’s no way down
short of jumping—hello!” He cocked his head, “somebody’s idling an
airplane engine!”

“So that’s what the old buzzard meant when he said he’d have to fly! The
bunch are making their getaway, eh?”

“Guess so. Well, I’m free—how about you?”

“Yep.”

Both lads sprang to their feet, feeling very stiff and dizzy, and
hobbled to a window. They saw that the cupola raised its ugly head on
the very center of the slate roof. The roof looked almost flat, but in
reality sloped slightly down to rusty tin gutters at its eaves. A glance
to the sides showed that the house boasted two yellow brick chimneys.
Directly in front of the old mansion, a large field spread out for a
quarter of a mile toward the highway. On the field a large monoplane was
taxying into the wind, preparatory to the take-off. “Fokker Universal,”
muttered Bill.

“I wish we had her up here,” said the young Chief. “We’re wasting time,
Bill. We can’t have more than five or six minutes left. Give me a hand
with Deborah. We’ll get her out of this window and onto the roof.”

“And then what? There isn’t a tree near the house. If we had a rope—”

“I’ve got it! There must be rainpipes down from the gutters. We’ll go
down by one of those.”

“You mean, the leader will go down with you! Those gutters are old and
rusty and full of holes. The leaders are sure to be in as bad or worse
shape. It would be suicide to try it, especially with one of us carrying
Deborah’s weight.”

“Great grief, Bill! What can we do? Think of Deborah—blown to pieces—”

“Hey, hey—get a grip on yourself. Snap out of it and let me think.”

“Maybe the door isn’t locked, after all—” Osceola snatched at this
desperate thought—

“Try it if you like. But I heard that old wretch or one of his men slam
the bolt and so did you.”

Osceola ran to the door and tried the handle, but without success. Then
he backed off and flung the full force of his weight against it. The
sturdy oak hardly creaked.

“Don’t let the thought of Deb make you lose your nerve, man,” said Bill,
still looking out of the window.

Osceola’s face grew grim. He walked back to Bill and grasped his hand.
“Thanks, old pal. And goodbye. I’m going to Deborah now. At least, we
can die together!”



                               Chapter IX
                             AT A DEAD END


“Here—just a minute—” cried Bill, “yes, by Jove! I believe we can do
it!”

Osceola turned back. “Not that chimney you’re staring at! It’s got
funnels at the top. We—”

“No—not the chimney, guy! The lightning rod! I forgot these oldtime
houses had them. Quick now, with Deborah! I’ll go first. You pass her
out to me.”

He leapt through the open window onto the slates a few feet below.
Almost immediately, Osceola lifted Deborah’s limp body over the sill,
where Bill caught her in his arms and hurried with his sagging burden
toward a corner of the roof. There he put down the unconscious girl and
lying flat, peered over the edge of the rotting gutter.

Osceola dropped beside him. “The rod looks strong enough, but do you
think those rusty iron stanchions will stand the strain?”

“Our weight may pull a few loose, but that won’t bring the rod down. I
just wanted to be sure there wasn’t any break—that it ran all the way to
the ground.” He jumped to his feet. “Give me a hand with Deb.”

“But I’ll—”

“No, you won’t. I was trained to this at the Academy. Pick her up and
hang her on my shoulders—not that way—head one side and legs t’other, so
her body drapes round my neck. That’s it. Now rip off your belt and lash
her wrists to her ankles. She mustn’t slip and I’ll have to use both
hands on the rod. Got it fast? Fine. Will you go first?”

“No—you—I’ll help you over the edge. And Bill—we’ve only a minute or two
left—”

With Deborah’s dead weight balanced on his shoulders and the base of his
neck, Bill got down on his knees and keeping firm hold of the lightning
rod that ran from the chimney across the roof on raised iron stanchions,
went gingerly backwards over the creaking gutter. Then slowly, hand over
hand he let himself and his burden down the rod. Notwithstanding his
confident words to Osceola, he was fearful of pulling loose the staples,
that at intervals of three or four feet secured the rod to the side of
the house. He was obliged to use his hands as his sole means of support.
If he pulled outward, pressing the rubber soles of his sneakers against
the siding, the chances were the rotten wood holding the staples would
give. For the same reason, he refrained from planting his feet on the
stanchions themselves, as he let himself down.

The strain of the double weight was fearful. His shoulder muscles and
biceps felt as though they were at the cracking point. And the
corrugated rod lacerated the palms of his hands until they were bleeding
badly.

He was descending the side of the house that looked over the field and
the road. Suddenly he heard a shout from below, and the answering hail
from Osceola just above his head told him that the police were arriving.

“Get back! Get back—all of you!” yelled the chief. “There’s a bomb in
the house—likely to explode any time now!”

Bill’s right hand slipped. For an instant he thought he was gone but he
managed to gain a hold with his lacerated left. Deborah hung like a
millstone about his neck. As he felt for the rod with his toes, her legs
and thighs slipped over his right shoulder, pinning that arm to his
side, and bringing the full weight of her body on the left side of his
neck and head. Bill found himself in the terrible predicament of being
totally unable to move—either upward or down. Searing pain shot through
his left hand—his head reeled. In one more second he must drop—

“Let go, lad—” called Mr. Dixon’s voice from below. “You’re almost
down.”

Strong arms caught him about the knees. He released his grip, as they
let him down. Then Deborah’s now unbearable weight was taken from his
shoulders. Somebody far away cried—“Good Lord! the boy’s hands are in
ribbons!” And Bill, for the first time in his life, fainted.

                            * * * * * * * *

Bang! Crash!

He felt himself hurtling through space to light head first on something
fairly soft, but with a jar that almost loosened his front teeth.

“Don’t kick—that’s my face—or was,” growled a deep voice.

Bill was pushed violently to one side. He opened his eyes and sat up,
feeling as though he had been pounded with a sledge-hammer.

“The other way—” said the same deep voice. “The wind of the thing sent
us heels over teakettle.”

Bill turned his head slowly and painfully. Beside him sat a large and
husky individual in the dark uniform of the Connecticut State Police.
Possibly two hundred yards away, a huge mass of debris was burning. Over
it hung a heavy cloud of jet black smoke.

“Yes, that’s the house, or what’s left of it,” explained the policeman.
“Lucky we weren’t nearer. Talk about your fireworks! Say, how are you
feelin’, kid?”

“Kinda woozy, thanks.”

“Don’t mention it—”

“What do you mean?”

“Oh, nuthin’—except that when you and I went up in the air, you dove
headfirst into me stomach—and it sure does feel lousy!”

“Gee, that’s too bad—” Bill sympathized. “I certainly hope I didn’t dent
your pretty belt buckle with my teeth—or what’s left of them! You were
toting me, I take it?”

“Yeah. I was runnin’ wid you over my shoulder when the blast come.”

“And—er—woke me up.”

“You said it. I’ll bet that head o’ yourn rammed into me belt buckle a
good eight inches! The inside o’ me backbone feels black an’ blue.”

They got to their feet. Bill’s head, though aching, was now perfectly
clear. He saw that they stood in the knee-high grass of the field. Two
cars were approaching along the drive. Several groups of men were spread
out over the field. He recognized Osceola, carrying Deborah in his arms.
Beside him walked Mr. Dixon. They were making for the motor cars.

A familiar voice hailed Bill, and looking around, he saw Mr. Davis
behind him.

“Well, that was a very pretty tumble you and the sergeant took a while
ago,” he said, his eyes twinkling.

“It kind of woke me up,” said Bill, “but our friend here says he feels
like the break-up of a heavy winter.”

“Square in the belly,” complained the policeman. He began to repeat the
story of his bruised backbone, when Mr. Davis cut in on him.

“Goodness, Bolton, you’re covered with blood!”

“I am? Oh, it’s my hands—” Bill held out his torn palms.

Mr. Davis winced. “Great Scott! No wonder you passed out. How you ever
managed to hold on—But here we stand talking. Come on over to the police
car. They’ve got a first aid kit—we don’t want to let you in for blood
poisoning.”

With the bleating sergeant bringing up the rear, he hurried Bill over
the field to the car, where he pulled out a large tin case and laid it
on the grass. Then he went to work on Bill’s hands with the deftness of
a surgeon.

“Now then,” he said after a while, “that will hold you till you’re home
and can get a doctor. This is only a makeshift.”

Bill stared at his bandaged hands. “Seems to me, Mr. Davis, you’ve made
a mighty neat job of it. Looks like a full-fledged doctor’s work.”

“Oh, I had two years at medical school, when I was a youngster,” Davis
said, as he closed the kit and replaced it in the car. “Couldn’t stand
that racket longer, though, and went into business instead.”

“Well, I’m much obliged to you. Where do we go from here, now that the
old gink has flew the coop and blown his house to smithereens?”

“So you saw the leader of the gang?”

“No. Only heard his voice. But you can take it from me, when it comes to
being a real nasty customer, that guy wins hands down!”

Davis nodded. “I can quite believe it. You must tell us about it later.
Hop in the car there, lean back and close your eyes. You look pretty
rocky, and no wonder. I’ll have a chat with Dixon and find out what the
plans are.”

Bill looked up a few minutes later as the car door opened, and saw that
Davis had reappeared, with a tall man in the uniform of a police
officer.

“Captain Simmonds, Mr. Bolton,” said Davis, as they took seats beside
him.

“Glad to know you, Captain Simmonds,” Bill said affably, as the
policeman in the driver’s seat threw the car into gear. “Sorry I can’t
shake hands. Where do we go from here?”

“Back to Heartfield’s, first, Mr. Bolton. I want Mr. Davis, who, as you
know, is something of a physician to take a look at Miss Lightfoot.
Chief Osceola says she’s been drugged. They are in the car ahead with
Mr. Dixon. Believe me, Mr. Bolton, when I say that I’ve never seen a
finer piece of sheer grit and nerve than the way you brought the young
lady down that rusty lightning rod.”

Bill shook his head. “We really ought to have waited for you chaps
before we tackled that bunch in the house. But with Deb lying there on
the lounge in plain sight, it seemed the only thing to do.”

“Suppose,” suggested Mr. Davis, “that you tell us about it—that is, if
you feel able to do so now.”

“You see,” added Captain Simmonds, “except that we saw you shinning down
the lightning rod, and that we got Chief Osceola’s warning just in time
to prevent us breaking into the house, we really have no information as
to what happened. The crowd of us arrived only in time to scamper off
before the whole shebang blew up.”

“I realize that,” said Bill. Except for the burning pain in his hands
and a certain stiffness in his arms and shoulder muscles, he was feeling
pretty much himself again. “I’m quite able to talk about it now, and I’d
like to. The sooner we get started after that old devil and put him
behind the bars for keeps, the happier yours truly will be!”

“Let’s have it from the time you and the young Indian Chief left
Heartfield’s,” suggested the Police Captain.

Bill told them the story in detail as the car bumped over the rutty road
and his listeners sat silent, taking in every word.

“Jehosophat!” exploded Mr. Davis, when he had finished. “I’ve read about
some of your other experiences, Bolton, but that is certainly one
exciting tale! The old man with the wheezy voice is a maniac, of course,
but people of that type can be exceedingly clever. In some ways, they
often appear absolutely normal, too. That old bird, if he is really an
old man, as you guessed from his voice, may appear to be a solid and
possibly useful citizen, to the majority of his friends and associates.
But he’s cracked, just the same—mad as a March hare on one subject—I’ll
stake my oath on it!”

“And when we know what that one thing is,” chimed in Captain Simmonds,
“We’ll be a long way ahead in solving this kidnapping. So he got away in
a big Fokker! There aren’t so many of those busses around. You’d
recognize his voice again, of course, Mr. Bolton?”

“I’ll never be able to forget it, Captain.”

“No, I guess not. Miss Lightfoot seems to be the only person we can lay
our hands on who has seen his face, and she is under the influence of a
drug! My men will search the ruins of that house. It’s unlikely, though,
that they’ll find any clue in what’s left of it, and the ruins will be
too hot for a couple of days, unless we have rain.”

“I wouldn’t pin too much hope on Miss Lightfoot, either,” said Mr.
Davis. “It’s quite possible that she is suffering from shock, as well as
having been drugged.”

“You mean,” said Bill, “that after the effects of the drug wear off, she
may still be unconscious?”

“It is possible. On the other hand, the drug, plus what she went through
before it was administered may make it impossible to question her
without jeopardizing the poor girl’s reason.”

Captain Simmonds frowned. “That is serious,” he admitted. “How long will
it be before we can get a description of this man from her, Mr. Davis?”

“Nobody can predict that, Captain. First, the effects of the drug must
either be counteracted or it must wear off. Then it depends entirely
upon the condition of the young lady herself. Please don’t think me a
pessimist, but my advice is to follow any other clues you may have, and
not count on Miss Lightfoot’s help at all. I’ve known cases where the
patient was allowed to talk to no one for weeks.”

“My word,” said Bill. “Poor Deborah! And that is a pleasant prospect for
us. I reckon, after what you’ve done to help us, Mr. Davis, that the
Captain won’t mind my telling you that the only clue we have are the
winged cartwheels, the numbered emblems of this organization we are up
against. And so far, Mr. Davis, those silver dollars have brought us
nothing but trouble.”



                               Chapter X
                            ENTER WASHINGTON


The long shadows of late afternoon cut intricate figures on the Bolton’s
lawn. Bill, from his chair on the porch, let the book he had been
reading slip to the floor. He watched sunlight and shadow dance on a
background of multi-colored green, for a gentle breeze had set the
treetops stirring. As an open car, a familiar figure at the wheel,
rolled up the driveway he sauntered over to the top of the steps.

“Hello there, Mr. Davis! Glad to see you.” He waved a bandaged hand, as
the car drew up and stopped.

Mr. Davis got out and walked up the steps. He was no longer the rather
rough looking figure of the morning, but was now immaculate in gray
flannels and a spick and span panama.

“Glad to see you, Bolton,” he smiled pleasantly, and Bill was again
impressed by the keen intelligence in this gray-haired man’s eyes. “This
is a rather unexpected pleasure. I really did not expect to be in New
Canaan this afternoon.”

Bill pointed to chairs and they sat down. “I’ve been trying to read, but
it’s a nuisance turning the pages with these hands!”

“How are they coming along?”

“Nicely, thanks. Our local medico had a look at them when we got back
from Heartfield’s this morning. He says that the salve you used must be
wonderful stuff—he’d never seen anything heal so quickly.”

Mr. Davis smiled, and pulling out his briar pipe, filled and lighted it.
“By tomorrow you’ll be able to discard the bandages,” he observed.
“Although you will have to go easy on the hands themselves for a couple
of days. I came across that salve in the Near East some years ago. Some
day, when I can snaffle a few weeks off the job, I’ll put the ointment
on the market, and let it make my everlasting fortune.” Bill looked
surprised.

“But I thought—”

“That old Davis was taking a cheap vacation, rent free! That is the
story I pass out just now, Mr. Secret Service Operative Bolton! But—and
I’m rather sorry to confess it—the story, though plausible, is untrue.”

“And what,” Bill spoke quietly, watching his visitor through half-shut
lids, “gives you the impression that I am a secret service operative,
Mr. Davis?”

“Perhaps you’d like to look at this.” Mr. Davis took a small leather
case from his breast pocket and snapped back the flap, disclosing a
green card. He held it so Bill could read it.

“Suffering cats! So _you’re_ Ashton Sanborn—head of—”

“Quite so. But to you and everyone else while we are on this case of the
winged cartwheels, just plain ‘Mr. Davis’, if you please.” He laughed
quietly at the look of genuine amazement on Bill’s face. “You see, one
is never sure who may be listening, and I am fairly certain that the
gentry we are dealing with have not got onto _Mr. Davis_ yet!”

A telegraph messenger pedalled up the drive, sprang off his bicycle and
ran up the steps to Bill.

“Wire for you, Mr. Bolton,” he said, handing him a yellow envelope. “The
manager says he wrote out the message just as it came in, but he can’t
make head nor tail of it—he—”

Bill ripped open the flap with his finger tips, drew forth the telegraph
form and saw typewritten below his address a single line of words in an
unknown language.

“Tell the manager,” he replied, “that the message is really for Chief
Osceola and that it is written in the Seminole language. Anything to
pay?”

“No, sir.”

“Well, stick your fist into this pocket of my coat and help yourself to
a quarter.”

“Thanks, Mr. Bolton.” The boy grinned delightedly as he transferred the
money to his own pocket. Then he ran down the steps, jumped on his
wheel, and sped down the drive.

Bill looked at the secret service man and smiled. “No need to tell the
manager all we know, Mister—er—Davis,” he said. “And especially when I
really don’t know anything. Of course, the message is in code and
although it was sent from New York City, I have a sneaking idea that it
originated in Washington, D. C.”

The secret service man nodded. “You’re a good guesser, Bolton.
Washington is taking no chances either. The code is a double interchange
of letters. Simple enough when you know it and easy to remember. Hand it
over. I’ll explain as I translate.” He laid the paper on his knee and
took out a pencil.

“So you see,” he continued, after deciphering the code, “it reads: ‘Take
your orders from Ashton Sanborn V8LR.’”

“V8 being my own number in the service,” said Bill, “and the initials
those of the big boss. I want to add that I’m tickled to death to be
working under you, Mr. Davis. All the world knows the big things you’ve
put over. And just to think that when you were piloting Osceola and me
up to Kolinski’s shack this morning, you probably knew a lot more than
we did about the winged cartwheels!”

Mr. Davis made a gesture of dissent. “That’s where you’re wrong, Bolton.
Until you told the story to Captain Simmonds and me in the car, I’d
never heard of the emblems nor of the organization they represent.”

“But surely you—I mean, it is rather cheeky of me to ask questions, but
if you knew nothing about the cartwheel gang, how did you happen to be
in that out-of-the-way place?”

“It’s simple enough, Bill—I’m going to call you Bill. I’m old enough to
be your father, and we’ll probably get pretty well acquainted before
this case goes into the files completed.”

“Bill is what I like my friends to call me, Mr. Davis.”

“Thanks. Well, the truth of the matter is that I was in Heartfield’s to
keep an eye on Kolinski. For some time, a big gang with headquarters in
New York City has been doing a land-office business smuggling cocaine
and other drugs into this country from Europe. The police came to a dead
end on the case and that brought me into it. Kolinski, who is known to
have been a dope pedlar in a small way, suddenly blossomed out with a
big car and plenty of money. I had enough on that Pole before he took
the house at Heartfield’s to put him behind bars for the remainder of
his life. Instead, I followed him up there, because, after considering a
number of things—I’ll tell you about them sometime—I had the hunch that
he’d become a member of this big dope running gang.”

“Have you found out much about it?”

Mr. Davis tamped the glowing tobacco in his pipe with the flat end of a
pencil. “Mighty little—nothing important, anyway. Kolinski has no flies
on him, he’s a slick article. Even though he made one or two slips in
the past, he _seems_ to have been walking the straight and narrow since
he joined this racket; only of course I’m certain he’s been doing
nothing of the kind!”

“Then you think this silver cartwheel business is nothing more than a
dope smuggling ring?”

“I’m not so sure. However, our Department has been advised from France
that large quantities of cocaine are being shipped to the United States.
The French tracked down and located two of these shipments before they
left Europe. The stuff was in small packets and had been placed in boxes
containing truffles.”

“But surely,” argued Bill, “those truffles were addressed to someone in
this country.”

“Right, they were. But those addresses led us nowhere. Upon
investigation they proved to be two untenanted houses in New York City.
The owners are perfectly respectable people. In both cases, the houses
had been rented through agents and rent paid in advance for six months.”

“But how about the people who rented them?”

“They have never been seen. The business with the real estate firms was
carried on entirely by correspondence. Inasmuch as postal orders
covering the rent were sent by mail, references were not required. You
must understand that because of the two shipments held up and
confiscated by the French government, we naturally suppose that more of
the stuff is being sent over. But we have no actual proof. On the other
hand, when we find that several men like Kolinski, who are known to be
small fry in this dope racket, suddenly desert their old haunts and
become affluent without any visible means of support, we put two and two
together. However, we have not been able to trace the source of supply
further than I have already told you, nor have we been able to discover
their method of distribution.”

“Has it occurred to you that it may be only a sideline of some much
bigger racket?” Bill suggested diffidently. “It just doesn’t seem
reasonable that that old geezer with the cracked voice would have got so
stirred up if we’d merely horned in on a dope ring. The man talked like
a lunatic, and as if we were spoiling some very definite object he had
in view.”

“That, Bill, is exactly what I decided when I heard your story. Of
course I had already disclosed my real identity to Captain Simmonds, and
as soon as you left for New Canaan, we had a chat and I got Washington
on the wire. I had known for a week or so that you’d been taken on by
the Department, and so I requested your services on the job. The people
down there thought it a good idea. They’ve given us free rein to handle
this matter as we may see fit—and so here I am!”

“And I,” said Bill, “am very much honored that you should want me to
help you.”

Mr. Davis smiled. “I think the regard is mutual, Bill, and I’m sure
we’ll get on splendidly together. By the way, I suppose your Seminole
friend is over at the Dixons’? I phoned their physician before leaving
Heartfield’s and he said Miss Lightfoot was conscious now, but could not
be spoken to until about eight.”

“Yes, I know. Osceola is with her, of course, and until you drove up
here I’d nothing to do except think—and watch the shadows on the lawn.
He’ll be coming back here for chow soon. We dine at seven. You’ll stop
with us, of course?”

“Thanks very much, I’ll be glad to. And you will be interested to hear
that I’ve been authorized to secure Chief Osceola’s services on this
case. I’ve an idea he’ll prove a valuable man.”

“He sure will!” Bill replied enthusiastically, “—and after what these
cartwheel fellows have done to Deborah, there’d be no keeping him out of
it anyway.”

Mr. Davis looked grave. “That young lady holds the most important clue
we have.”

“Yes,” said Bill. “Gosh, I can hardly wait till eight o’clock!”



                               Chapter XI
                        THE MAN WITH THE WHEEZE


Bill, Osceola and Mr. Davis walked across the lawn to the Dixon house a
few minutes after eight that evening. Mr. Dixon greeted them at the
door.

“Come in, come in,” he said genially, shaking hands with Davis and
nodding to the lads. “Deborah, I’m glad to say, is much better. She is
just finished with her supper. We can go up in a moment or two.”

“I’m sorry to intrude at this time, Mr. Dixon,” apologized the secret
service man. “Chief Osceola tells me that your maids departed, bag and
baggage, this morning, to further complicate matters, and I should think
your household must be very much upset.”

“Dorothy,” pronounced her father, “is a mighty good little housekeeper.
She’s been running the place in great shape, with the help of a girl we
got in from the village. You haven’t met my daughter yet, have you, Mr.
Davis?”

“No, but I’ve heard of her flying exploits. She’s by way of being quite
a detective, too, isn’t she?”

“Yes, indeed. She saved me and my bank a heap of trouble earlier this
summer,” said her father proudly. “Dorothy—” he called, “come here for a
moment, please.”

“What is it, Daddy?” A door at the back of the hall burst open and
Dorothy ran toward them. Her girlish figure was clothed in a blue linen
frock and a white apron covered her from throat to ankles. There were
some faint traces of flour clinging to her wrists as if she had been
suddenly summoned from the bread bowl. She looked fresh and sweet,
strong and healthy, and a certain grace of manner pleased Mr. Davis
instantly. He saw that she had her father’s eyes and coloring, his air
of self-reliance. He noticed, too, that when she spoke to her parent her
voice was tempered with a particular tenderness. This pleased him most
of all, for he had expected to see somewhat of a hoyden. This girl, for
all her prowess as a flyer, was totally feminine. Mr. Dixon introduced
them.

“I didn’t know young ladies made bread these days,” said the detective
as he shook hands with her.

Dorothy smiled and glanced at her arms. “Not bread, Mr. Davis, rolls for
breakfast. Daddy likes them home-made, and I hate to get up early, so
I’ve been mixing dough.”

“Do you think, dear, that Deborah can see Mr. Davis now? He is in charge
of the case, you know.”

“Why yes, that will be perfectly all right, Daddy. When I took down her
supper half an hour ago, the nurse said that any time would be
convenient. She stipulated, though, that Mr. Davis have only one other
person with him, and that the interview be as brief as possible.”

“Certainly, we want to spare her as much as we can,” said Mr. Davis. “I
have only a few questions to ask. And I think I’ll take Bill with me.
He’s been wounded in the fray, and I think that under the circumstances
he has the right to hear first whatever Miss Lightfoot has to tell us.”

“He certainly has,” chimed in Osceola. “He saved Deb’s life. I’ve seen
her this afternoon, but the nurse wouldn’t allow us to talk. Make it
snappy, you two. I’m on pins and needles to learn her story.”

“All right—” Bill waved a bandaged hand, and with Dorothy leading the
way, he and Mr. Davis went upstairs.

When they reached the door to Deborah’s room, Dorothy excused herself
and went in, leaving them waiting in the corridor.

“Let me do most of the talking,” cautioned the detective. “And if she
can’t remember, be sure not to press her. It might have a very serious
effect on the girl’s health.”

Dorothy opened the door. “You may go in now. The poor child feels rather
rocky still. Those brutes hit her over the head, you know, and she is
still in a good deal of pain.”

Deborah lay on a lounge by the window. When they entered she was
apparently asleep. Across her forehead, covering her temples, two narrow
bandages bound up her wound. As the detective and Bill crossed the room,
she opened her eyes, and her bruised, discolored face broke into a
smile. Then, noticing their evident anxiety, she sat up, leaning an
elbow on her pillow. A trained nurse hovered in the background a moment,
then noiselessly left the room.

“Bill—don’t look so upset. It’s nothing—I’ll be all right in a day or
two. We Seminoles are hard to down, you know. They tell me you saved my
life, Bill. I don’t know what to say to thank you—”

“Please don’t!” Bill smiled down at her and took one of the two chairs
that had been placed near her couch. “I’ll bet they forgot to tell you
that I was saving my own life just about that time!”

“Oh, your poor hands!” she cried, spying the bandages. “Are they very
badly torn?”

“Only scratched up a bit. We Boltons haven’t the honor to be Seminoles,
but we’re pretty tough articles, just the same.” Deborah smiled, and
Bill indicated his companion. “This is Mr. Davis, Deborah. He is in
charge of the case and he wants to ask you a few questions.”

“How do you do, Mr. Davis?” Deborah spoke brightly enough, but Bill
could see that the excitement of their visit was proving a strain.

“Now, if you don’t feel well enough to talk, Miss Lightfoot, we’ll
postpone our chat until tomorrow,” said Mr. Davis in his pleasant voice.

Deborah shook her head. “No, Mr. Davis—I know that if I can tell you
anything which will help you in your search for these men, then the
sooner you have the information, the more valuable it will be to you. Of
course, except for the fight with them in this room, after which they
carried me downstairs, and then, for a few minutes in the automobile
before they jabbed a hypodermic needle into my arm, I really know
nothing—”

“I realize that, Miss Lightfoot. Bill said ‘questions’ just now, but
there is only one thing I’ve come to ask you.”

Deborah looked relieved, yet faintly puzzled. “What is that, Mr. Davis?”

“Do you think you could describe the old man whose mask you pulled off
in the automobile? We have reason to believe he is the leader of these
kidnappers.”

“I am sure I can. You must know that the car was a seven-passenger
Packard. I was placed in the middle of the rear seat between two men,
who held me. The man you mentioned was sitting in one of the two extra
seats that let down, just in front of me. Although I was still
struggling with my captors, and half frantic, I noticed him particularly
because he wore a black mask that entirely covered his face. Above the
mask, a fringe of white hair showed at the edge of a black silk
skullcap. Although I never saw him standing, I judged he was not much
taller than five feet two or three. He was thin and small-boned, and
narrow-shouldered. His head was very large, it seemed too large to be
supported by his skinny neck. His voice was high-pitched and shrill. He
wheezed, too, as though he might have asthma....”

“Splendid!” said Mr. Dixon, as the nurse brought Deborah a glass of
water. “What did he look like when you pulled off the mask?”

Deborah smiled a little grimly. “For all the world like an old bird of
prey, Mr. Davis. And a very much frightened bird, at that. Those men,
you see, had gagged me with a handkerchief. I managed to get the thing
out of my mouth and in the struggle that followed, the old man, who was
wheezing orders all the time, leaned toward me. He tried to get hold of
my right arm which I had wrenched free. The man on that side of me was
temporarily out of the running, because I had jabbed him with my elbow
just under the heart a moment before. Well, when the old man leaned
toward me I made a grab for his head. My idea was to get a grip on the
back of his thin neck and hurl him into the man on my left who had me by
the arm. As it was, the old boy drew back suddenly, and instead of his
neck, I got the mask.”

“Can you describe his features?”

“I’m quite sure I can. His forehead, below the fringe of white hair, was
high and broad; the brow of a scholar, almost. Bushy white eyebrows
shaded little dark eyes, brown, probably, which seemed too small for his
face. Between these a very thin, high-bridged nose jutted out. He was
clean-shaven, with rather high cheek bones and hollow cheeks. His mouth
below his beak of a nose was a straight, thin-lipped line. From his
nostrils, two deep furrows ran down to the corners of his mouth, and his
chin was long and pointed. His throat was flabby and the Adam’s apple
prominent. Oh, I forgot to say that, his entire face, nose and all was
crisscrossed with the deep wrinkles of old age.”

“You are a most observant young lady, Miss Lightfoot. I never expected
to receive such a detailed description. I can picture the old villain
perfectly.”

“I am glad.” Deborah smiled back at him. “I am Seminole, you must
remember, Mr. Davis. Indians, men and women, are trained from childhood
to notice detail.”

The secret service man nodded. Then suddenly he uttered a sharp
exclamation and leaned toward her.

“Can you tell me,” he asked, and all three of his hearers felt the
excitement in his tone. “Can you remember, Miss Lightfoot, anything
peculiar about this old man’s ears?”

“Yes, I—I can, Mr. Davis. I did notice them, particularly. They were
small, set close to his head and absolutely lobeless. Also, with the
single exception of Napoleon’s death mask, which I saw in New Orleans
last year, I had never seen ears set so low on a person’s head. The top
of both this man’s ears and those of the great French Emperor were on a
line with the outside corners of their eyes!”

Mr. Davis leaned back in his chair, an oddly puzzled frown on his
handsome features. “Miss Lightfoot,” he said slowly, “you will
understand and pardon me when I say you are a very remarkable young
woman—with a very fine memory.”

“I’m afraid I can’t agree with you, Mr. Davis. If my memory was really
good, I could place the man. From the moment I glimpsed his face, I had
a feeling that I’d seen him somewhere. Yet I haven’t the slightest idea
where it could have been.”

“But you have told me who he is, just the same, hard as it is to believe
the truth!”

“You know his name?” exclaimed Bill and Deborah simultaneously.

“I most certainly do. What’s more, I am pretty sure I know where Miss
Lightfoot saw him—Excuse me for a moment.” He stood up. “I’m going
downstairs, but I’ll be right back. In the meantime, I don’t want you
young people to talk any more. Miss Lightfoot needs a rest and she must
have it.”

He went swiftly out of the room and Deborah, now that further
conversation was unnecessary, closed her eyes and lay back on the
pillows. Bill sat, lost in thought, until Mr. Davis returned in a
surprisingly short time.

In his hand he carried the Sunday roto-gravure section of a New York
newspaper. Deborah looked up as he spread out the page and held it
before her.

“Do you see your abductor here?”

Bill, who had risen and was looking over the detective’s shoulder, saw
her point unhesitatingly to a large photograph at the top of the page,
which portrayed two men, one middle-aged and the other old and wrinkled,
seated in garden chairs on a lawn. Both were familiar faces, and the
older was undoubtedly the man Deborah had just described. The picture
was captioned: “President lunches with savant.”

Below, he read: “The President visited Professor Fanely on the latter’s
ninetieth birthday, when he was the principal guest at the ‘Great Old
Man’s’ birthday luncheon.”

“‘Great Old Man’ is right,” snorted Bill. “It takes some doing to run
away with a young girl at ninety!”

“Do keep quiet, Bill!” Deborah’s pale face was serious. “Why, it seems
impossible, doesn’t it, Mr. Davis? Of course I know Professor Fanely’s
reputation as a scientist, everybody does, it’s world wide. Yet
impossible as it may seem, I’m surer than ever that the old gentleman in
the photograph there, sitting beside the President of the United States,
was the man I unmasked early this morning!”

Mr. Davis took her hand in his. “I believe you, young lady,” he said
kindly. “But Bill and I have a first class job on our hands. And I must
ask both you and nurse over there not to breathe a word of this matter.
What was formerly a serious affair has become a hundred-fold more so
now. To know the truth is one thing: to be able to prove that truth
quite another. And believe me when I say that if I am able to prove
Professor Fanely, who is respected and loved the world over, the man who
abducted you and tried to kill you, Bill and Osceola—I shall consider
that I, too, am a world beater! Only I might as well say now that I
haven’t the ghost of a show.”



                              Chapter XII
                                ARGUMENT


“Before we can think of arresting Professor Fanely,” remarked Mr. Davis,
“we must have indisputable evidence that we can put before a jury.”

“But surely, Mr. Davis,” argued Osceola, “Deborah’s description of the
old man—her recognition of his photograph should be sufficient to
convict him.”

“On the contrary,” declared Bill. “Although it has put us wise to the
old buzzard, it really is no evidence at all. Am I right, Mr. Davis?”

“You certainly are, Bill. We’d be hooted out of court in no time; and
probably have countercharges of criminal libel brought against us by old
Fanely into the bargain.”

The trio had just walked back to the Bolton house. Ensconced in
comfortable chairs on the side porch, they had constituted themselves a
Ways-and-Means committee.

Bill came back at his friend again. “You’re letting your personal
feeling for Deborah enter into this, Osceola. It just can’t be done.”

“But Deborah is perfectly sure. She was in the car with the man, wasn’t
she? Her word—”

“Is quite good enough for us, or for anyone who really knows Miss
Lightfoot’s admirable character,” broke in the secret service man. He
shrewdly guessed the impatience that raged beneath the young Seminole’s
calm exterior. But rational discussion of the problem, and not heated
argument was their object in conferring. He therefore proceeded to pour
oil upon troubled waters. “You see, Chief,” he went on to explain, “this
is not a case where anybody’s word, no matter who he or she may be, will
count in the balance with the word of Professor Fanely himself.”

“Obviously, he’d deny it—” said Bill.

“Not only deny any charge preferred against him,” Mr. Davis said
earnestly. “He would be sure to bring forth a cast iron alibi that no
one could break. And, however illogical it might seem, in all
probability _his_ mere word would be adjudged sufficient. Think of the
man’s life-long reputation—the things he has done. His name is a
household word the world over. And with all that in his favor to
prejudice public opinion, Professor Fanely is a Croesus. The patents on
his scientific discoveries have brought him millions. And, to cap the
pyramid of his fortifications, he counts as his friends the great men of
both this country and Europe....”

Osceola turned his dark eyes from an unseeing study of the patterned
porch rug, and nodded slowly. “I begin to see our difficulties—at least,
some of them. I ask your pardon, Mr. Davis, for making a fool of
myself!”

“Nonsense, my boy!” Davis leaned forward and patted him on the knee.
“You made the natural mistake of believing we had to deal with a private
individual.”

“Whereas,” grinned Bill, “the professor is really a national
institution!”

“Exactly. We three are convinced that there is a screw loose somewhere
in that great brain, but we’ve simply got to prove that. Merely saying
that he is this and that would let us in for a lot of trouble, and only
defeat our ends.”

“Yes, I suppose so. But what can we do about this mess if nobody will
believe us?”

“Find out what racket old Fanely is running—and get him with the goods.”

“Easier said than done, Bill. Let’s kidnap the old boy and that Kolinski
guy, for choice. Leave me alone in a room with those bozos for half an
hour, and I’ll come out with a couple of signed confessions. They’re a
pair of third degree artists themselves. I’m fed up with all this kid
glove business. And they’ve got a whole lot coming from me before we
break even.”

They were silent for a minute or two. Mr. Davis brought out his pipe,
filled and lighted it. Tossing the glowing match over the porch rail, he
turned toward the irate young chief.

“But such methods will get us nowhere. And even if we were able to
follow out your suggestion, I, as servant of the Federal Government,
could not countenance it. Bill is right. Only by learning what is really
in back of this, will we be able to apprehend the ringleader, and put
him where he can do no more harm. I’m old enough to be your father,
chief, and I’ve been in this business since before you were born. As you
know, I first thought that we were up against a dope smuggling gang.
That is how I first came onto this case.”

“Then you’ve changed your mind about that?” inquired Bill.

“Yes and no. Dope smuggling from Europe may be part of it—but only part.
That would be small potatoes for a man of the professor’s standing and
wealth. There’s something else behind all this winged cartwheel affair,
and we’ve touched only the edge of it. The next move on our program is
to do exactly what Bill suggests: go and find out about it. Before Miss
Lightfoot put us wise to Professor Fanely, I hadn’t the least idea where
to turn. Her information gives us the lead and we shall certainly take
advantage of it.”

Bill looked up. “The old boy has a big place in Greenwich, has he not?”

“Yes. And one or more of us will be in that house of his before
thirty-six hours.”

“Why thirty-six hours?” This from Osceola. “Why not tonight? Greenwich
is only just beyond Stamford—we can run down there in forty-five minutes
by car.”

“There are two very good reasons, perhaps three, why we won’t do so
tonight, chief. Fanely knows that Deborah has awakened by this time from
the hypodermic injection he administered. He will figure that if she
really got a good look at him, and knows him to be the famous scientist
whose features the magazines and newspapers have made public property,
he may expect trouble in some form at Greenwich tonight. He will
therefore be very much on the lookout for it. Or he may take the
initiative himself, and stage another kidnapping across the road before
morning. In either case, we will be much more useful in New Canaan than
in Greenwich.

“If his men do not come here tonight and nobody bothers him down there,
the chances are, he will believe that your fiancee didn’t get such a
good look at him after all. It was dark in that car last night. His vast
knowledge and discoveries have been along chemical and electrical lines.
It’s not likely he remembers or even knows the ability of your race to
see so much better in the dark than his. So by tomorrow, when nothing
happens, he’ll consider that incident closed and go about his business
as usual.”

“And,” said Bill, “if we take a run down to his joint tomorrow night, I
may be of some use. These bandages will be off my hands by then.”

“That is another point. Bill naturally wants to be in on anything we
do—so you see, chief?—”

“I see,” nodded Osceola. “It never struck me, either, that there might
be another attack on the Dixon’s tonight. What are your plans, Mr.
Davis?”

“You and I will go over there in a little while. Mr. Dixon and I
arranged for it earlier in the evening. We will sleep on cots in the
library, and with Mr. Dixon we’ll divide the night into two-hour
watches. With the three of us on hand, we can watch two hours and sleep
four. The New Canaan police have two men patrolling the Dixon grounds
right now. Two more relieve them at midnight and will remain on duty
until daylight. And until this job is cleaned up, I’ve arranged to have
a policeman on the place during the day as well.”

“Very nice, very nice indeed,” remarked Bill, only half stifling a yawn.
“And where, may I ask, do I come in?”

Mr. Davis smiled. “Down at Greenwich tomorrow night, my boy. If anything
happens across the way, you’d be no earthly use with your hands out of
commission. My orders to you are to turn in and get a good rest tonight.
Tomorrow when the Chief and I are making up for lost sleep, you can take
your turn at duty.”

“Aye, aye, sir.” Bill spoke submissively enough, but it took no great
exercise of perception to realize that he was not a bit keen on that
part of Mr. Davis’ plan.



                              Chapter XIII
                                 PLANS


Bill awoke, yawned, then sat up in bed. Broad daylight was streaming
into the room through the screened windows and a glance at his watch
showed the time to be nine o’clock. The door opened and Osceola poked
his dark head around the edge of it.

“How’s the bandaged hero this morning?” he inquired and came into the
bedroom.

“Sleepy, thank you.” Bill swung his legs over the side of the bed,
stretched luxuriously and stood up. “I’ll feel more human when I’ve had
a shower. Nothing happened across the way last night?”

“Not a blessed thing, and Deborah, I’m glad to say, seems quite her old
self this morning.”

“Good! Any orders from the boss?”

“Davis, you mean?”

“Yeah. What’s the old sleuth doing this merry morn?”

“He’s gone to New York. Left on the express an hour and a half ago, said
he’d be back by six-thirty this evening at the latest.”

“What are we to do in the meantime?”

“Take it easy. I didn’t sleep a wink last night, so I’m going to make up
for it. I peeped in here a couple of times, but you were a dead one.”

“Why did you wait for me to wake up?”

“Davis left some of that salve for your hands. I knew you couldn’t apply
it yourself and get the bandages back on again, so—”

“You did yourself out of some sleep for my sake—Well, you certainly are
a good chap, Osceola! Let me get under that shower and then we’ll go to
it on the first aid job.”

When Bill’s hands were dressed, Osceola went to his room, while his host
spent a quiet morning lazing about the house. After lunch the boys
fetched Dorothy and Deborah and drove down to the Beach Club. While Bill
lay on the sand in the sun, the other three took a dip in the
invigorating waters of Long Island Sound.

After ice cream and cakes on the Club House porch, they drove up into
the hills to New Canaan again, much refreshed by their outing. All
mention of winged cartwheels had been taboo throughout the afternoon,
and Bill felt that he was ready to face the forthcoming adventure in
Greenwich with added vim and a head swept clear of the cobwebs of worry
and too much excitement. They dropped the girls at the Dixons’ and after
driving home, found Mr. Davis smoking on the porch.

“Well, you men,” he greeted them with a jolly smile, “have you had a
real lazy—and therefore profitable—day of it?”

“We sure have,” said Osceola. “Not only ourselves but the girls as well.
We’ve just come back from a swim in the Sound. Poor Bill missed out on
that end of it, though.”

“Glad you’ve had a good rest,” observed the secret service man, “you
both needed it. Let’s have a look at the hands, Bill.”

“They certainly feel all to the merry,” said their owner, as the
bandages were removed.

“And they are all to the merry, Bill.” Mr. Davis gently wiped away the
brown salve with a clean piece of linen. “Just a little red, that’s all.
They’ve healed by first intention, as I knew they would. Go easy with
them for a couple of days and they’ll give you no more trouble.”

Bill stared at them in amazement. “That salve sure is wonderful stuff,
sir! It’s worried me all day—that they might put a crimp in my evening.
But I guess I’d better wear a pair of gloves, eh?”

“Yes, cotton ones for choice.”

“I’ll drive down to the village and see if I can pick up a pair for
you,” offered Osceola.

“You forget,” said Bill, “that once upon a time, I was a midshipman.
White cotton gloves are part of the equipment.”

“That reminds me,” said Mr. Davis. “I had a wire early this morning in
response to one I sent Washington last night. My conference today in New
York was with no less a person that a member of the President’s cabinet.
This is a very serious charge we’re making against a very big man—who is
also a tremendous power in politics, unfortunately, although few people
are aware of that fact. And when I tell you that the gentleman I met
today came from the capital as the direct representative of the
President of the United States and as his spokesman, you may begin to
get an idea of the magnitude this winged cartwheels affair has assumed.
Tonight’s reconnoiter, for it will be little more than that, must be
handled with kid gloves.”

“White cotton for mine!” Bill grinned at Osceola.

“Right-o, boy!” laughed the detective. “Maybe I’m getting a little too
serious. But I’ve staked my reputation on Professor Fanely’s being the
person we are looking for and any slips on our part mean an end to your
friend Ashton Sanborn so far as his career is concerned.”

“And whatever careers may be opening up for Bill Bolton, and Osceola,
the Seminole, for that matter!” supplemented the young Chief.

“Exactly! Now I’m going to tell you this evening’s plans—and I expect
implicit obedience.”

Both young fellows nodded.

“We—that is, the three of us, will leave here after dinner in my car, so
as to arrive in Greenwich about nine o’clock. It will be dark then. You
lads will get out of the car about a quarter of a mile before we come to
the Fanely estate, while I go on in the car and call on Professor
Fanely.”

“What? You’re going up to the house quite openly?” Osceola cried.

“Quite openly, Chief, and in by the front door. I shall have credentials
with me, and the probabilities are I shall be granted an interview by
the old man. My pretext for intruding upon him will be that the man
Kolinski, for whom the federal authorities are seeking, has been seen in
the grounds. I shall tell the old man that it is understood this Pole is
in his employ, but that no matter what references Kolinski may have had,
he is an impostor, and a pedlar of narcotics.”

Bill drew a deep breath. “Well, I know it’s not my place to criticize,
and I hope you’ll forgive me. But don’t you think an approach like that
is pretty poor stuff, Mr. Davis? It hardly seems reasonable to me that a
man of Professor Fanely’s mentality would swallow bunk like that.”

Mr. Davis’ bright eyes twinkled. “I’ll be the most surprised man in
Connecticut if he does,” he laughed. “But you’re missing the point,
Bill, and naturally so. The only reason I’m calling on Professor Fanely
is to make him talk.”

“But what about the master mind? _Will_ it spill the beans?” Osceola
asked incredulously.

“Why, not at all. As I said before, the idea is to get him to talk—and
while he’s talking, you chaps will be outside the window, listening to
his voice. Incidentally, I expect to make a mental note of his
expression when Kolinski is mentioned to him. But, my young critics,
your listening stunt is the one and only reason we’re going to Greenwich
tonight. By orders of the President, I am not permitted to go further in
this case until both of you have identified Professor Fanely’s voice as
the one you heard, blindfolded, in that tower room yesterday morning.”

“But how,” asked Bill, “are we going to know in which room you two will
be swapping lies? I’ve been past the Fanely place, and though the house
is too far back from the road to see it well, they tell me it is about
the size of an orphan asylum, and just as ugly. Have you any idea where
your interview will take place?”

“I have. The man I conferred with in New York today says that Fanely
always sees callers in his library. The library is at the front of the
house, on the northwest corner. You’ll be able to stand in the shrubbery
and see into the room very easily.”

“Thank heaven, it’s on the ground floor!” sighed Bill with relief. “I’ve
had just about all the climbing I want lately.”

Mr. Davis gave Bill a grave smile. “Yes, it is just as well you’ll have
no climbing tonight, with those hands. But to get back to the plan of
campaign. When I leave you chaps, get into the grounds and make for the
house. Chances are the old fellow is well guarded, so be on the watch.
After the way you two went through the woods up at Heartfield’s, I’m
sure you’re capable of making your objective without being seen. Choose
one of the windows at the side of the house, if possible. And keep under
cover. Listen to the conversation until you’re sure that Fanely is our
man. Then go back to the road. I will pick you up there.”

“What if the windows are closed?” Osceola inquired. “This weather is
warm enough, but the aged are never keen on drafts or fresh air, you
know.”

“That’s a good point, Chief, and I’ve got something here that will take
care of it.” He produced a small package from his coat pocket. “Putty
and a diamond-tipped glass-cutter’s tool,” he explained. “Slap the putty
on the window pane, then cut round it with the tool. The piece of cut
glass will come away with the putty. If you lads stick with me for any
length of time, I’ll soon have you trained as expert housebreakers,” he
laughed.

“That,” said Bill, “is all right as far as it goes, but also suppose the
old buzzard gets nasty. Our one and only interview with him gave me the
impression that he could be fiendishly cruel when he chose.”

Mr. Davis looked puzzled. “I don’t think I quite get you, Bill.”

“I mean, sir, what provision have you made for your own safety?
Supposing Old Fanely, who is nobody’s fool by your own admission, gets
an inkling of what is really in the wind, and has his men jump you? The
fiend was capable of having us put out of the way. He may try the same
thing on you.”

“Oh, no, he won’t. In the first place he will know exactly who I am and
what I represent. If I were done away with, his plans, whatever they
are, would come tumbling down like a house of cards. Such procedure
would jeopardize his enormous interests and immediately place him in a
position where the police would step in and apprehend him for murder. I
talked over such possibilities with the man I saw in New York and we
discounted them. Professor Fanely, unless pushed to the wall, will do
nothing so crude as that. This is simply a business call I’m making. He
will probably deny any knowledge of Kolinski; I will string him along
for a while so you two can get an earful and then bid him good
night,—with apologies for taking up his valuable time.”

“Couldn’t we notify Captain Simmonds, or even the Greenwich police to
keep a watchful eye open?” persisted Bill. “I hate to think of you
putting yourself in that old devil’s power. The Chief and I have been in
direct contact with him—you haven’t!”

Mr. Davis seemed touched. “It’s good of you boys to take so much
interest in my safety, and I appreciate it, I need hardly tell you. But
the thing is impossible. My orders are to keep this absolutely to
ourselves. Not even the police must hear a rumor against the Professor.
The gentleman from Washington ridiculed the idea of Fanely’s being
connected with any scandal. He said frankly that he believed it to be a
case of mistaken identity. And it was only after a long and serious
discussion that I obtained permission to call on Fanely. He allowed me
to outline my suppositions, but told me that if we continue on this
trail, we must go it alone.”

“Which means, of course,” Osceola remarked, “that if Bill and I are
caught in the grounds and manhandled for trespassing, you will deny that
we were acting under your orders, and we’re just as likely to get a jail
sentence for our trouble.”

“That,” said Mr. Davis, “is the case in a nutshell. I won’t insult you
chaps by asking whether you’re willing to follow my lead. I shall carry
a revolver and you do as you choose about going armed. Now then, all
well?”

Both lads laughed, and nodded vigorous affirmative.

“Let’s go in and eat,” suggested Bill. “And here’s hoping we really get
something on old Fanely after dinner.”



                              Chapter XIV
                            A FRIEND IN NEED


Shortly before nine o’clock that evening, Ashton Sanborn, or Mr. Davis,
as he preferred to be known, waved a hand to Bill and Osceola and drove
off along the highway. A minute or two later the road swung past the
stone wall, fragrant with late honeysuckle, that bounded the Fanely
estate. But instead of entering the drive, he kept going straight ahead
for several miles.

When at last he felt that the lads had been given time enough to reach
their destination, he turned the car round at a crossroad and came back,
driving slowly. This time he turned in between the stone gate posts that
marked the entrance. The bluestone road bed wound like a huge snake
through wooded acres, and half a mile from the highway, entered a grove
of tall elms that belted broad lawns landscaped with flower gardens and
shrubs. The immense grey stone house looked much more like a public
institution than a private dwelling.

Mr. Davis parked his car before a wide stone terrace. He walked sedately
up the steps and rang the doorbell. While he waited he studied the
beautiful outer door, intricately fashioned of wrought iron and glass.
He could not see into the house, for a curtain was drawn close to the
glass on the inside.

The door noiselessly opened, and framed in the ornate entrance stood a
middle-aged man in evening dress. His left arm was held close to his
body by a black silk sling.

“Ashton Sanborn!”

Mr. Davis peered closely at the man, who now looked as if he would
willingly have bitten off his tongue for the ejaculation. But a moment
later the recognition was mutual.

The secret service man smiled. “Blessed if it isn’t my friend Serge
Kolinski! Fancy meeting you here, and without your mustache—no wonder I
hardly recognized you!” Mr. Davis advanced with outstretched hand, while
the Pole backed away.

While Sanborn stared at him, the man glanced furtively over his shoulder
into the gloom of the spacious hall. He seemed to be in the grip of some
overwhelming fear. Then, wetting his dry lips with the tip of his
tongue, he turned to the detective.

“Mr. Sanborn—I—you must clear out of here—get away!” His speech now bore
no trace of the foreign accent which the girls had mentioned. “You’ve
always played the white man to me, Mr. Sanborn—never tried to frame me,
or—But clear out, sir—do you hear?”

Sanborn laughed shortly. “I thought you knew me better than that,
Kolinski.”

“Look here, Mr. Sanborn—don’t say I haven’t warned you—don’t say I’ve
done you dirt!” Kolinski’s whisper was almost inaudible.

Mr. Davis frowned uneasily. The man’s fear was so genuine, his manner so
agitated, that the detective felt a creepy feeling touch his spine. He
shuddered involuntarily, then pulled himself together.

“I’d like to speak to Professor Fanely, Kolinski—”

“Don’t do it, Mr. Sanborn, don’t do it—you—”

“Show Mr. Ashton Sanborn into the library, Kolinski!”

The high-pitched, wheezing voice was cold and toneless, yet held an
undercurrent of evil. Kolinski shivered, then placed a trembling
forefinger on his lips.

“Y-y-yessir.”

“Then go to your room. I’ll attend to you later. You talk too much.”

Ashton Sanborn followed the thoroughly frightened Kolinski across the
wide hall and into the library. It was empty, but a bright fire blazed
on the hearth at the other end of the room. Shades were drawn over the
windows. The room felt stuffy, and oppressively warm. Kolinski retired
without a word. The unseen master’s voice had apparently withered his
power of speech.

Sanborn stood with his hands clasped behind his back, gazing about the
room, waiting for Professor Fanely to appear. The four walls were lined
to the ceiling with books, and the place was austerely furnished.
Sanborn felt uneasy, not only in Kolinski’s behalf, but somehow
obscurely, in his own. There was something sinister in the very
atmosphere. The wheezing voice and its unspoken menace echoed in his
brain....

Five minutes passed. He wondered if Bill and Osceola were outside the
windows, or whether they had been waylaid in the grounds by Fanely’s
men. He took out his watch and looked at it. The five minutes extended
to ten.

Ashton Sanborn began to fret at the delay. But the thought that this
discourtesy was probably intentional somewhat curbed his impatience. He
sat down in an armchair and pulled out his pipe and tobacco. If
Professor Fanely chose to ignore his visit, then old Fanely would have
to put up with breach of etiquette on his part. He was just on the point
of lighting it, when a gentle, cultured voice spoke immediately behind
him.

“That’s right, Mr. Sanborn. Make yourself at home!”

Ashton Sanborn swung round in his chair. Standing not three feet away,
exuding goodwill with a benign smile, and rubbing his hands together,
was the biggest man the detective had ever seen. Sanborn was startled,
not so much at the man’s presence, but that he had not heard him enter
the room. It seemed uncanny that such a huge man could move so quietly.
The secret service man jumped to his feet.

“Good evening! I called to see Professor Fanely. My card, apparently, is
not needed.”

“Oh, no, Mr. Sanborn. We—er—have heard of you, although, speaking for
myself, I have never, to my knowledge, had the pleasure of seeing you
before.” The big fellow stared down on Sanborn from his superior height.
“Professor Fanely is not at home, Mr. Sanborn.”

“Out?”

“Ah! I’m afraid I express myself rather badly. I mean to convey to you
that Professor Fanely is indisposed.”

“But I thought I heard him speak in the hall a moment ago?”

“Oh, no. No, that was certainly not Professor Fanely. Oh, dear me, no.”
He laughed—an unpleasant sound, for all its softness. “That was Mr.—but
his name does not matter. He is upstairs now, attending to Mr. Kolinski,
our estimable butler. You must not place too much reliance on our
Kolinski’s chatter, you know. He does not always tell the truth. In
fact, to put it bluntly, Mr. Sanborn, Mr. Kolinski is not—er—unfamiliar
with the inside of a jail!”

“I know that well enough. I’ve been instrumental in sending him up the
river twice, myself.”

“Oh, dear me! Fancy that, now!”

There came a silence, during which Sanborn had the vaguely uncomfortable
feeling that a third presence had somehow entered the room. Mechanically
he lit his pipe, and, blowing the first mouthful of smoke upward, he
carelessly subjected the ceiling to a covert scrutiny. Nothing doing. He
stooped and tapped the bowl of his pipe on an ashtray which rested on a
small table. No one on the left hand side of the room. He turned round
quickly, ostensibly to adjust a cushion on his easy chair. A flutter of
a curtain hanging near the door caught his eye. Then he seated himself
and leaned back comfortably.

“Yes,” he answered the big man’s unspoken inquiry. “That is why I
called—to warn you against Kolinski. But as you are already aware of his
past delinquencies—well,—” he shrugged his shoulders and stood up. “This
is beside the point, now, don’t you think? Perhaps you had better ring
for the man so that I may place him under arrest.”

“They’ll never bring him in here!”

Bill Bolton swung the curtain back and stepped into the room, a revolver
grasped in his gloved right hand. “Stick ’em up, Lambert,” he told the
big man. “That’s right—stick ’em up and keep ’em up!”

“But Bill—” Sanborn began, his eyes on the man called Lambert who had
complied with the curt order and was reaching toward the ceiling.

Bill shook his head impatiently. “No time for argument, sir. They are on
to your visit and don’t intend to let you leave the house alive.
Kolinski is their sacrifice in this deal. He’s probably been killed by
this time.”

“Are you sure about this, Bill? How could you possibly learn—”

“We’ve got to hustle,” Bill cut him short. “Explain later. Oh, I’m sure
enough, never fear!”

A colored rope was attached to the curtain. He disengaged it and tossed
it to Sanborn.

“Now you—” he indicated Lambert, “take a walk to that chair and sit
down.”

There was a murderous gleam in Lambert’s eyes as he retreated. He knew,
of course, that these two were acting in conjunction, but could not
understand these new secret service methods.

“Now tie him up. I’ll keep him covered. He’s got a gun. Better relieve
him of it. His game was to shoot you just as soon as your back was
safely turned.”

Ashton Sanborn did as he was told, cheerfully, albeit wonderingly. How
Bill could have gained his information and what he was up to now were as
yet unsolved mysteries. He took away the man’s gun, a blue-nosed
automatic. Then, carefully, he tied Lambert’s arms to the back of the
chair and roped his legs securely.

“Better lock the door,” was Bill’s next suggestion. “I’ll gag him.”

The detective hurried to the door. There was no key in the lock. He
clutched the handle—rattled it—pulled—The door did not budge.

“What’s up, sir?” Bill’s voice betrayed his apprehension.

“_Locked!_”

“Then we’re in for it.” It was not so much the words as the way they
were spoken that impressed the secret service man.

“But—if it’s trouble, Bill, we must find a way out,” he said calmly.

“There is no way. They’re likely to come in on us through that door any
minute now.” Bill’s voice was steady, but Sanborn knew he was attempting
to conceal his strong excitement.

“If the door’s locked on the outside, we’d better barricade it on the
inside.” He looked round the room for a suitable means of fortification,
and his eyes fell upon the huge Lambert.

The man’s face was pale, almost haggard, and beads of sweat stood out
upon his forehead. He was afraid.

In spite of their potential danger, Sanborn smiled as the thought struck
him. “Here, Bill, give me a hand.”

Young Bolton immediately saw the possibility. Together the pair dragged
the mutely protesting Lambert to the door, and planted him firmly in his
chair against the panels. Over two hundred-weight of solid humanity—an
effective barrier.

“Now then, Bill. Where’s Osceola?”

“Outside the window. Or he was.” Bill’s voice was little more than a
whisper. “We got here more than ten minutes before you drove up—legged
it fast across the grounds, without running into a soul. The windows on
this side of the house are too high to see into from the ground. Luckily
Osceola spied a ladder leaning against an elm, on the way here, where
some tree surgeon had left it, I guess. Anyway, it was just what we
wanted, so we hiked over and toted it back. I climbed it and cut a hole
in the glass just above the window-catch. I couldn’t see into the room
because of the shade, but I could hear, all right. That big goop over
there was talking with Professor Fanely. And by the way, there’s
absolutely no doubt that old Fanely is the guy we’re after. His voice is
the one I heard in the cupola. Osceola recognized it, too. Of course,
when I got the piece of glass out of the window, they were in the midst
of a conversation. I gathered that you’d been followed to New York
today. Evidently they knew nothing about your conference, but the
cabinet member was spotted going into the same office where you had been
trailed. So, the old bird had figured out just about what did happen in
New York. Take it from me, there are no flies on that old fellow! He
guessed how you would be sure that he, Fanely, was the kidnapper from
Deborah’s description, and how the lad from Washington would laugh at
the idea. He even had the hunch that you would show up tonight! And
while they were talking, Kolinski came in and said that a phone message
had come through from the lodge, and that you were on the way up.”

“But I wonder how they guessed my identity?”

“Your car license—Kolinski said so. Those things seem to be working for
both sides in this business. Kolinski, the poor chap, was scared to
death, apparently. The old man had it in for him because he made the
initial mistake of dropping that silver cartwheel out of his car, and
making it possible for the girls to identify him. But he was only in the
room a couple of minutes. When he’d gone, the Professor said that as
soon as you came they’d go upstairs. They planned that after Kolinski
had ushered you in here, they’d put him out of the way. And the next
move was for Lambert to come down here and do the same for you. Of
course, old Fanely thought you’d come armed, so he cautioned the big guy
to watch his step. If it hadn’t been for that,—well, I guess I’d have
been too late.” Bill bit his lip. “I don’t see how the old buzzard
imagined he could avoid government suspicion by doing you in, as well as
Kolinski—Well, that’s about all of it. When you rang the bell, they went
out of here, so I unfastened the window catch and hopped in.”

“Good work, Bill. You’re the sort of a chap a man needs on a job like
this—”

Bill grinned and shook his head. “I’m all right as far as I go, but I
guess—“ he motioned toward the barricaded door—“I just didn’t go far
enough. But Osceola’s outside somewhere, I thought he’d better stay on
watch. So maybe—”

There was a knock on the door. They looked at each other and waited.

“Well, Lambert? Is the dear Mister Ashton Sanborn, alias Davis—er—_non
compos_—I mean _hors de combat_?” A pause. “So, my dear Lambert, you
have failed, eh?” A fierce menace in the words now.

The bound man’s face turned a sickly gray, and Sanborn felt a momentary
pity for him. Then they heard whispered instructions outside the door,
and the sound of running feet. Sanborn tried a bluff.

“Hi! you!—there’s a posse of police surrounding the house!”

A cackling laugh that ended in a snarl.

“Yes, I saw _him_ go!”

“So he got away all right? Thanks very much. He should be back by this
time, with about thirty others.” Sanborn listened intently in an effort
to ascertain whether or not his shot had gone home. Then—“They are only
awaiting my signal.”

“Then why not signal, my dear Sanborn?”

A second later a shot rang out. Simultaneously a round hole, splintered
at the edges, appeared in the upper panel of the door, and a bullet
whistled past the detective and buried itself in the opposite wall. The
hole in the panel was about two inches above Lambert’s head, and with
protruding eyes the wretched man endeavored to shrink into the chair.

Bill and Sanborn dropped to all fours and were making for the window,
when a second shot was fired. This time it came from outside the house
and shattered the lower window sash. Both the detective and young Bolton
went flat on the floor. Sanborn beckoned to Bill to move closer. As the
lad wriggled over the carpet toward him, the older man spoke to him in a
low whisper.

“Sorry I got you into this. When they rush the place, start firing. We
may be able to fight our way out—one of us, anyway.”

“Maybe—but—too bad we’re a good four miles from town. If Osceola got
away to telephone the police, it’s going to be a near thing before they
get here. But all I want is to get one shot at old Fanely!”

As if in reply to his name, the high, wheezing voice spoke again from
beyond the door. “You gentlemen in there,” and they heard a horrible
chuckle, “will be interested to know that your friend Chief Osceola ran
foul of my men, after all. He is now taking a well-earned rest in the
lodge. Good night, my dear gentlemen. Pleasant dreams, and may you
awake—in heaven!”

As if to place a period on this unanswered monologue, another shot
splintered through the door panels.



                               Chapter XV
                           THE SHOOTING FLAME


“And that’s that,” said Bill, still keeping his voice to a whisper.
“Disgusting old beast! Let’s turn off the lights in here and try the
window. Anything is better than lying here.”

“Wait a minute—I’ve an idea!” Sanborn pointed to the fireplace. Bill
nodded and together they wriggled across the rugs.

The chimney, with its grate of glowing coals, was an old-fashioned
structure. Although probably no older than this modern residence, it
appeared to be a worthy monument of another generation. Wide at the
base, it tapered toward the top, and on its inner walls a number of iron
staples, rusty and covered with soot, led upward.

Sanborn stepped within the chimney and grasped the first staple. “Phew!”
he gasped, jerking his hand away, “—_hot!_”

“And probably insecure.” Bill was beside him now. They were out of the
line of fire from the door and windows. “I’ll tell you what—that ladder!
Wait—” He picked up a small shovel from the hearth. “I’ll get these live
coals into the scuttle. That should cool the chimney some.”

Sanborn helped with a tongs, and the coals were quickly transferred.
Bill found a wall switch and turned off the light. Together they went to
the window by which Bill had entered, and cautiously lifting the shade a
couple of inches, they peered through the glass. Three men, revolvers in
hand, were approaching the ladder across a flower bed.

“Get ’em in the legs,” whispered Sanborn.

Two shots rang out like one, and two of the attackers dropped in their
tracks. The third, evidently deciding that distance lent enchantment,
streaked for the shadow of the trees without returning their fire. They
let him go.

Bill raised the window and they seized the topmost rung of the ladder
and started to haul it into the library. It was half-way through the
window when there came a flash from the corner of the house. The glass
door of a bookcase was shattered, but neither Bill nor the detective
paid any attention to it. A second more and the ladder was inside.

Sanborn mopped the perspiration from his brow. “Jiminy! That was close,
Bill.”

Bill nodded and stuck his head out of the window. “Lucky they can’t see
us, sir. They might try to snipe us from behind the trees.”

As though in answer to his challenge, without warning, the chandelier
that hung from the ceiling in a spray of electric bulbs, sprang into
light.

“Duck, Bill, duck!” A fusillade of shots rang out as the pair dropped to
the floor.

Bill’s eyes fell upon the pile of black coal he had dumped from the
scuttle before filling it with the hot ones from the grate. Motioning
Sanborn to follow, he wormed his way to the hearth and picked up a
good-sized piece of coal. He handed it to Sanborn and took a similar
piece himself. Then he pointed to the electric bulbs, and winked
cheerfully.

They hurled their missiles simultaneously. Bill’s was a bullseye but the
detective’s fell short of the mark. With the “plop” and the tinkle of
falling glass, one of the bulbs was out of action. Bill grabbed another
coal and a moment later the room went dark again.

“Good shooting, Bill.”

“Not so worse. Now gimme a hand with the ladder, sir. We’ll push it up
the chimney.”

It was easier said than done. The ladder was too long and the angle too
acute.

“Never mind, Bill. We must chance it.”

Ashton Sanborn felt the staple he had tried before. It was still warm,
but bearable to the touch. “I’ll go first. It’s a good thing you wore
gloves.”

“Yes, but I wish they were leather, not cotton. Still, my hands feel all
right.”

“That’s good. Got a handkerchief? Here’s mine. Stuff one inside each
glove. They’ll protect the thin skin of your palms.”

“Thanks. Gee, this is a wild party, isn’t it? I didn’t expect to be
throwing coal at light bulbs—or stuffing handkerchiefs in my gloves—but
say, sir, what about Lambert?”

“Lord! I’d almost forgotten him. Here, lend me a hand with the ladder.
It will be useful after all. We don’t want our friend to topple over
with the chair and let them in that way.”

They placed the top of the ladder against the upper panel of the door
and thrust the bound man’s head between two of the rungs. Then they
jammed the foot of the ladder into one of the bookshelves, removing half
a dozen books to make way for it. It fitted and held firmly.

“Good! Now, you keep the ladder nicely in position, Lambert,” warned the
detective. “The chances are if they break down the door, they’ll break
your neck. Sorry—but time means more than kindness just now. You weren’t
too considerate of a certain young lady the other night, either. And it
will probably save the state the price of a hangman—So long!”

They left the silent figure and again essayed the ascent of the chimney.
The air was almost stifling, but the staples held. Through clouds of
soot dislodged by their progress, the two made their way upward. There
came a slope in the angle of the chimney, and a dim square appeared
overhead, a shade less dark than the blackness that enveloped them.

Sanborn felt for his electric torch, then remembered he had left it in
his car. Feeling in his pockets, he finally produced a box of matches.
After considerable trouble, he managed to strike one. The draught
immediately extinguished it. The nearer they got to the top, however,
the less dark the chimney seemed. Meanwhile he had to feel round for
every staple, sending showers of soot upon Bill with every movement.

Again Sanborn felt the wall. Yes, there was no doubt about it. A good
twenty feet to go, and no more staples. Well, there was nothing for it
except to travel mountaineering fashion, back braced against one wall,
feet against the other. It seemed simple enough, but when he attempted
it, the chimney proved too wide, and he all but crashed onto Bill just
below.

A sudden gust of wind sent a cloud of smoke belching down the shaft.
Sanborn shut his eyes and gripped the last staple. He could hear Bill
coughing and spluttering down below, while the shaft slowly cleared.
Then Sanborn discovered that just above his head the inlet of another
chimney joined the main shaft. He decided that the smoke came from
there. It must be passed, and quickly, for the air was foul enough
without the addition of smoke. Again he tried to wriggle upward, but
found that the heat and the fumes from the other shaft were too much for
him. He eased down again to the comparative security of the staple. If
he could manage to stand on that last staple, he might somehow get past
the vomiting side vent. But even if the chimney narrowed above the other
shaft, the smoke would be suffocating.

“Buck up, sir!” Bill’s voice sounded thick and weary. “What’s the
trouble?”

Sanborn told him. “Guess we’ll have to go down,” he began, then stopped
as the sound of splintering wood reached their ears from the library,
and a crash. A moment later there was a rush of feet and a cry as Fanely
discovered that their prisoners were missing. There was further
scurrying, then that high, menacing voice.

“The chimney! That’s where they are!”

A moment’s silence, then the sound of a shot reverberated deafeningly up
the shaft. The chimney immediately filled with particles of soot
scattered by the percussion. Both Bill and the detective mentally
blessed that change in the angle of the chimney.

“Ah!—” again that hideous voice,—“I have an inspiration—yes, an
inspiration. We shall—er—relight the fire!”

Sanborn swore under his breath.

“Yes, yes, relight the fire. And I think a little gasoline is indicated.
Lambert, you are well enough to phone the garage for a can or two?
Jacques, go fetch some paper and wood. No, wait a moment. Shovels can be
used, there is one on the hearth—to transport the fire from the dining
room fireplace. Peter, you stand here and shoot them if they come down.”

For several minutes Bill and Sanborn clung to their precarious perches,
each wracking his brain for a way out of this horrible snare.

“Listen!” cried Bill in a hoarse whisper. “Hold on tight. I’m going to
climb up your body. Then I’ll get a foot on the top of the other shaft
and haul you up. I can get on your shoulders again and get a grip on the
top of the chimney. You can climb out and haul me after you. What do you
think?”

“It’s a chance, Bill. And if we don’t smother in the attempt, it’s worth
trying, anyway. Come ahead.”

Bill pulled himself upward and over Sanborn’s body until he stood on the
detective’s broad shoulders. Then he gasped in astonishment. The heat
and smoke from the other chimney had subsided and the air was now
bearable. The explanation came like a flash. This must be the outlet
from the dining room, from which the fire had been removed. There was
not a moment to lose.

Dropping his legs into the dining room shaft, he lay bellywise across
the junction of the two openings and reached down toward Sanborn.

“Hurry up, old sport,” he cried, gripping the detective’s extended
hands. “That’s right—up you come!”

“But what—the smoke’s gone—”

“Never mind that now—drop down this shaft beside me. It’s narrow enough
to brace with your back and legs. And make it snappy, too, or you’ll get
singed.”

Ashton Sanborn swung back beside Bill. There was a subdued roar down the
chimney. Then a sheet of flame shot upward.



                              Chapter XVI
                          THE PROFESSOR TALKS


“That got the dear gentlemen!” There came a rasping chuckle from below.
“Yes, that sent them to their happy hunting ground. Too bad the Indian
wasn’t with them, but he will serve another purpose.”

“Beg pardon, Professor—” It was Lambert’s subdued voice this time. “If
those two are really done for—burned to death, why don’t the bodies
fall?”

“Caught on the staples, you silly fool! But just to prevent any chance
of survival, you’d better ignite the other can.”

For a moment there was silence, then the two at the top of the
dining-room flue heard the same roar down the chimney and again the
white hot flame rushed past them.

“Now are you quite satisfied?” whined the wheezing treble. “They are
burned to a crisp, I tell you. Tomorrow I’ll have the chimney cleaned
and their remains brought down. It’s too late tonight. Well, Lambert,”
the voice went on testily, “what have you got to say to that? For a man
who makes bad mistakes, you have become exceedingly critical.”

“Very good, Professor. But may I be allowed to suggest that they may
have climbed out the top of the chimney before we started the gasoline?
Even now they may be hiding on the roof.”

“Oh, no, they are not hiding on the roof, my dear young man! I grant you
that the youth Bolton was a midshipman in the Navy and can probably
climb like a cat. But we were a little too fast for them, Lambert—a
little too fast. Ever since I knew they had taken to the chimney, Otto
and Henry have been watching on the roof. Inasmuch as I see them both
standing in the doorway now, I think we may take it for granted, my dear
Lambert, that the intruders have departed—not escaped.” There was a
wealth of ugly sarcasm in the old man’s tone. “Now, Otto,” he added
sharply. “How about it? What’s your report?”

“Nuthin’ come up, sir, but the flames, sir. Them two is burned to a
frazzle!”

“You see, Lambert—you see!” Professor Fanely’s wheeze was triumphant.
“Perhaps Lambert, you will permit me to run my own affairs in future
without interference on your part. Just remember that you are my paid
employee—nothing more.”

Bill nudged the detective. “That ought to hold friend Lambert for a
while,” he whispered. “I certainly hope nobody remembers that this vent
leads into the main chimney.”

“Sh—! There’s Otto again.”

“Beg pardon, sir.” The deep tones floated up the chimney. “What shall we
do about the stiff upstairs?”

“Ah! The late Mr. Serge Kolinski! That was an unforeseen _contretemps_,
was it not, Lambert? Well, the man had his uses. My plan, as you may
have guessed, was to place him in the car with the late Mr. Ashton
Sanborn. They would have been run down the road half a mile or so, the
car wrecked and a revolver, with two empty chambers left in the hand of
the secret service man. Tomorrow’s newspapers would have stated that I
had turned over my butler to Mr. Sanborn. That the two must have fought
in the car, with the result that in the struggle, both were shot with
the same gun.” He stopped and blew his nose loudly. “But there again,
Lambert, you stepped in and messed things up. Now we have Kolinski and
two other bodies on our hands. Let me see—? Ah, yes, we will do it this
way. Henry, tomorrow morning you will place the three bodies in the
small plane. Put them in the luggage cockpit, and take Thomas along. Fly
across the Sound and Long Island, and keep straight out to sea. When you
are twenty-five miles from shore, have Thomas throw them overboard. You
understand?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Then see that there are no more errors made. By the way, Otto, speaking
of Sanborn’s car—what has become of it?”

“We used it to carry the young Indian feller down to the lodge, sir.
It’s parked down there.”

“Very well. Go to bed now. At four o’clock go down to the lodge. Get the
Seminole and drive him up to the laboratory. Don’t forget to change the
license plates, though. We’ve had enough trouble through Kolinski’s
oversight. I will leave later in the Fokker, so will arrive before you.
And while I think of it, Otto, don’t drive up there by way of
Heartfield’s. The state police may be watching that route. Drive from
here to Bedford and up through Brewster to Pawling. I know that the road
to Mizzentop is a bad one, but it’s safer that way. And thanks to Mr.
Lambert, we shall all have to play safe for some little more. Have you
got that straight now, Otto?”

“Yes, sir, I have.”

“Then good night all. We must be about early in the morning, remember.”

“Good night, sir,” murmured a chorus of voices.

“Oh, Lambert! Don’t forget to take the A44 notes in the morning. I will
leave Mizzentop early in the afternoon for Washington. The President
dines with me, you know, and we will want to go over the papers later.”

“Very good, sir. I shall bring them.”

There came the sound of footsteps, then all was quiet below.

“We’ll give them an hour,” Sanborn whispered. “You haven’t a flashlight,
Bill?”

“No—why?”

“There’s no other way of seeing the hands of my wristwatch to gauge the
time. These matches blow out—”

“Don’t worry, sir. My dial is luminous. Wait till I rub some of the soot
off—great grief! it’s after eleven! We’ve been here nearly two hours.”

“Well, we’ll wait until midnight. Let’s get up on the junction of the
shafts, it will be more comfortable. My back and knees are half
paralyzed.”

They pulled themselves up and squeezed into the narrow space, seated
side by side.

“The old boy,” Bill observed, “certainly has a screw loose—but what do
you think is in back of it all?”

“I don’t know, my boy. But I think we’d better be quiet. We might be
heard if we keep on talking—and I’ve got to straighten out a lot of
things in my mind and try to plan what our next three or four moves will
be.”

“O.K. I’m terribly tired, guess I’ll snatch forty winks.”

Improbably enough, he did fall asleep right there, wedged between the
sooty chimney wall and Ashton Sanborn’s shoulder. He was lost in the
dreamless depths of exhaustion when a hand pressed his arm.

“Gee,” muttered Bill, “where am I? Oh, yes—is it twelve o’clock, Mr.
Davis?”

The detective patted his arm lightly. “Yes, Bill, it’s exactly midnight.
And Sanborn will do in the future, you know.”

The way down proved much easier than the ascent. Five minutes later they
were standing in the dark library. Silently Sanborn went to the broken
window and very slowly and carefully drew up the sash. Then he thrust
his head outside, made sure that no one was about and nodded to Bill
just behind him. They slid over the sill, dropped to the ground, and
soon skirted the flower beds and reached comparative safety beneath the
elms.

“Well! I’m sure glad we’re out of that dive!” sighed Bill. “Professor
Fanely is the perfect host, I don’t think! What’s the next move? Get
Osceola?”

“Yes, we must get him out of the lodge. I first thought of going to the
nearest phone and calling in the Greenwich police. But Fanely seems to
learn of our every move almost before we make it. He’s probably got
someone watching police headquarters in Greenwich, and by the time
enough men were rounded up to make the raid effective, Kolinski’s body
would have disappeared and the old boy would certainly deny all
knowledge of the affair. There’d be only our word against his, and
seeing that Washington thinks I’m chasing a mare’s nest anyway, in
trying to connect this prominent old man with crime—well, Fanely and his
crew would get off scot-free.”

“And Ashton Sanborn would lose his job!”

“Exactly, Bill.”

They continued to head through the landscaped park toward the lodge, but
kept well away from the drive. They were nearing the main entrance to
the property before the secret service man spoke again.

“I’ve been thinking it over, Bill. The only way to get anything definite
on that slippery old customer is to corral him in that laboratory he
talked about. I’ve a hunch we’ll find evidence in plenty at Mizzentop.
That laboratory, to my mind, is the center of this spider’s web.”

“Where is Mizzentop?”

“Why, Mizzentop was one of the fashionable resorts of this country, my
boy, during the ’70’s and ’80’s. It’s up on the mountain above Pawling,
New York, and nine or ten miles across the hills from Heartfield’s. The
house Fanely blew up must have been purchased so that the Professor
could have a hangout conveniently close by and yet not near enough to
arouse suspicion if discovered. Mizzentop is really the name of the old
hotel up there, from which the little settlement takes its name.”

They stepped behind a high bank of shrubbery, beyond which they could
see the dim blur of the lodge in the darkness.

“That,” said Bill, “seems to me a queer place to locate a
laboratory—right near a summer hotel, I mean.”

“Oh, the hotel isn’t running now—hasn’t been for thirty years or more. I
was up there a couple of summers ago. It’s a huge frame building, three
or four stories high, with wide verandas completely encircling it. It
seemed to be in pretty good condition, then. Somebody was evidently
taking care of the property, lawns kept up and so forth, but the place
was untenanted.”

“I wonder—”

“What? Have you got an idea? Let’s have it then we’ll go after Osceola.”

“Well, I was just figuring,” Bill’s voice sounded thoughtful, “suppose
Professor Fanely had bought that hotel and is using it for his
laboratory, or whatever he calls it.”

The detective slapped his thigh sharply. “That is a new slant on it,
Bill! Sounds like a good one to me. Just as soon as we get Osceola I’ll
check up on it by telephone. In fact, I’ve a lot of phoning to do.
Captain Simmonds and the State Police will have to be brought in now,
Washington or no Washington!”

“But do you think Fanely will fly up there as he plans to do—when we’re
found missing?”

“Certainly. Of course our disappearance will worry him quite a bit.
He’ll probably decide that we slipped down the dining-room flue, when he
finds out that it connects with the main chimney. But his line is
absolute denial, and of course, he’ll have no idea that we overheard his
talk in the library, or that we’re planning a raid on Mizzentop.”

“You’re right, I think. So here’s hoping the old boy takes his hop. Now
we can go ahead for the Chief—”

He stopped short. The piercing shriek of a soul in mortal anguish rent
the night. By common impulse Sanborn and Bill dashed for the darkened
lodge.



                              Chapter XVII
                               MIZZENTOP


Again that horrid shriek. This time there was no mistake from whence it
came. Half breathless from their sprint, Bill and the detective reached
the lodge and looked about for a means of entrance.

“Somebody,” whispered the secret service man, “is torturing Osceola!”

“Sounds like it, all right,” panted Bill, “but I’d have thought you
could cut that Seminole into little pieces and never get a peep out of
him! They must be monsters—There’s a light—window in the rear—come on!”

Bill in the lead, they dashed round the house, then stopped short.
Through the kitchen screen door they caught a glimpse of a stranger
lying on the floor, and Osceola’s figure bending over him. Careful as
had been their movements, Osceola’s keen ears detected them, for he
reached up quickly and switched off the hanging bulb.

“Speak or I’ll fire!” His order came like a shot.

Bill laughed shakily. “It’s only me, you wild Seminole—me and a pal of
ours—we’ve come to _rescue_ you from your torturers—and by gosh!—here we
find you, in reverse! What’s the idea, boy?”

“Wait a sec—I’m coming out.”

They saw the Chief’s tall form loom up beside them, although his
approach had been made without a sound.

“What’s going on, anyway?” Sanborn’s nerves were badly shaken and his
relief on seeing Osceola free and sound in body sharpened his tone.

“Yes, what’re you tryin’ to do—scalp the man?” added Bill.

Osceola chuckled. “My gosh, did you think that yell came from me? Why,
no, Bill, I’m trying something a little harder than that. I was just
about to learn something of interest to all of us, when you butted in.”

“But what on earth were you doing to the man?” asked Sanborn.

“Oh, the old match trick. But what have you chaps been doing to
yourselves? You look like a pair of nigger roustabouts!”

“Roosting in a chimney—a nice sooty one, too.” Bill turned to the
detective. “Those keen eyes of his have found us out. And the match
trick, I believe, consists of placing a lighted match between the
victim’s toes.”

“But we can’t have that—it’s torture!” exploded Sanborn heatedly.

Bill laughed.

“Shut up, this isn’t funny,” growled Osceola. “Do you want that guy in
there to hear and spoil everything?” He leaned close to Sanborn. “It’s
hardly ever necessary to let a low-class white feel the flame. This
fellow screamed when I lit the match, and again when I put the
_unlighted end_ between his toes. You see? You just make a lengthy
explanation of what is going to happen to him before you start. His
imagination does the rest.”

“But Osceola—there is a possibility of burning—and I don’t like it.”

“All right, sir. I’ll light one match and stick another, an unlighted
one, between his tootsies! He’ll bleat just the same. You see, when I
was tied up I heard this man and his wife talking about a laboratory or
factory that the Professor runs up at a place called Mizzentop. And I
heard just enough to make me curious—I—”

“Go ahead, then. Find out what goes on in that laboratory, and we’ll
know the answer to the winged cartwheels. But don’t you think you’re
taking chances in a lighted room with nothing between you and the night
but a screen door?”

“Huh—” grunted Osceola, “that fellow hasn’t had a bath in months—it’s a
warm night, Mr. Sanborn. I prefer taking chances with bullets to being
asphyxiated!”

Sanborn chuckled. “Go to it, Chief—but no rough stuff, remember. Turn on
the light again if you wish. Bill and I will keep watch outside. The
people up at the big house have gone to bed, but it’s just as well to
take precautions. And we can hear anything your friend may have to say
from the shadow of the porch.”

They walked up to the porch and Osceola went inside the house. Then the
light went on in the kitchen and the young Seminole started speaking.

“Well, Mr. Skunk! Some friends of mine are out back. They are also
interested in hearing about Mizzentop. So, that being that, I’m going to
light another match—”

“No, no! I’ll tell—I’ll tell!”

“Good enough. But calm yourself, bozo—there’s no need to shout the glad
tidings all over Connecticut!”

“But the Professor, sir—he will—”

“The Professor is having his own troubles, my friend. Anyway, for some
time to come, you and your amiable wife in the other room will be
occupying nice little cells in a big, safe jail! Out with it now—or I
shall become impatient.”

“Very well, sir, I’ll tell.” Still thoroughly frightened, the man spoke
submissively. “Just what was it you wanted to know?”

“Everything that _you_ know about this silver dollar business, and the
place up at Mizzentop. Make it snappy, though! I don’t want to hang
around here all night.”

“Yes, sir. Professor Fanely is crazy—crazy on one subject. I noticed it
coming on last year, and this spring, he got worse. ’Twas then he
started this token bunk. Him and that big secretary of his, Lambert.
Every one of us was handed out one of them stamped dollars, and we was
all sworn to secrecy and given a number. Mine’s thirteen, and it’s brung
me nuthin’ but bad luck.”

“—So you’re the guy that broke into the Boltons!”

“I was, sir—got in by a winder. But I didn’t get nuthin’—and I lost my
token into the bargain. Professor raised the roof about it, and docked
my pay, too.”

“That was just too bad,” declared Osceola sarcastically. “Now go ahead
with the rest of it—this organization, and old Fanely’s crazy fancy.”

“It weren’t no fancy, sir. Professor Fanely, for all his friendliness
with the big bugs down in Washington, hates the whole bunch of ’em like
poison. He wanted to be President, but they wouldn’t let him run—too old
to be considered, I guess. It’s been preyin’ on his mind ever since the
last election, but the old boy was foxy, he kept it pretty much to
himself. Lambert told me, though, he used to blow up to him. Well, last
spring he made up his mind to get even with the government. Nobody but a
crazy man would have thought up the plan. Me and some of the others that
worked for him didn’t want to go into it. It wa’nt no use, though; we
knew what we’d get in the end if we welshed. And he raised our pay then,
you see—”

“I see. But what was this crazy plan?”

“He hired a lot of thugs and dope runners in the big city, sir. And he’s
been importing big lots of cocaine from Europe. The old hotel up to
Mizzentop was bought and fitted up as a kind of laboratory-factory, and
the dope was stored up there. That house he blew up was where the
factory super and some of his head men stayed. Professor Fanely, of
course you know, is terrible wealthy. For years he’s been what they call
a great phil—philan—”

“You mean philanthropist, I take it?”

“That’s it—couldn’t think of it for a minute, sir. Well,—his speciality
is canned goods. He spends millions every year on ’em. Has ’em
distributed to the poor and the near poor all over the United States.
Even his friends get big cases of canned goods from him at Christmas
time. It’s his hobby—he’s known the country over for it.”

“Yes, I’ve heard about it,” said Osceola, “I remember his yen for giving
away canned goods. He even sent down a large shipment to my Seminoles in
Florida last winter. I ate some of the stuff myself, and wrote him a
letter of thanks. But what do his canned goods have to do with the
cocaine smuggling?”

“Why, the Professor has made a solution of the stuff, that he says is
impossible to detect.”

“Detect—in what?”

Unconsciously Ashton Sanborn and Bill moved to a position just outside
the screen door.

“Detect in the canned goods,” Number 13 explained. “That stuff is
concentrated at Mizzentop. Every can has a very small hole bored in the
top, and the solution is squirted into the soup or fruit or whatever’s
in the can, by a small syringe. This little bit of a hole—it’s just big
enough to push the needle through—is closed up again. It’s all done by
machinery that’s been installed in the old hotel at Mizzentop.”

“_Great guns!_” ejaculated the young Chief in horror. “Why, that will
make dope fiends of thousands, perhaps millions of men, women and
children!”

“That’s the Professor’s idea, sir. They’ll get the cocaine habit and
never know how they done it. Professor Fanely says it’s the best way he
knows of for getting even with a country that won’t have him for
President. When I was up there yesterday, I seen a case of goods
addressed to the White House. If he’s given enough time, he boasts he’ll
have everybody in the United States, from the chief executive in
Washington down, eating his free canned goods.”

Ashton Sanborn swung open the screen door and strode into the kitchen.
“Look here!” he thundered. “How long have these shipments been leaving
Mizzentop?”

“Oh—but the Professor has had such a job perfectin’ his cocaine solution
that only the first boxes of the goods is ready to leave the factory.”

Sanborn mopped his brow. “Thank God for that! Then none of it has gone
out yet?”

“That’s so, sir. I believe Mike intends to take the first truck loads
down to the Pawling railroad station in the morning.”

“Well, now that we know, what are we going to do about it?” asked
Osceola.

“Raid the place with State Police, of course. We’ll pile this man and
his wife into the car with us, and light out for the Greenwich Police
Station. I’ve got to get Captain Simmonds on the telephone at once. You
fellows grab the woman. I’ll take care of this chap.” He swung the
trussed figure over his shoulders and tramped out of the house.

“This couple tied you up, did they?” Bill asked the chief as they made
their way toward the front room.

“They sure did. And chucked me into an empty coal bin down cellar. The
idiots tied my hands in front of me, though. Gosh, how I hate the taste
of hemp!”

“Gnawed through the rope, eh?”

“Yep, and found a hatchet in the cellar. When I came up here, Number 13
and his spouse were playing cards at the kitchen table. I guess they
thought the whole Seminole Nation had arrived when I hurled the young ax
and pinned 13’s coat sleeve to the table! Well, that’s that.”

“It is,” said Bill. “And what a prize you pulled! You know, it’s a
gruesome ending. Funny thing—”

“It’s about the most awful thing you and I have ever been mixed up in,
Bill. This canned food business is horrible!”

“I’ll say it is! Makes my bones feel like water just to think of it. But
that isn’t what I meant—”

“What then?”

“Why, in every mystery book or detective story I’ve read, the tale ends
when the mystery is solved.”

“And what’s that got to do with the price of doped canned goods?”

“Well, this mystery is solved, isn’t it? And yet we’ve got the hardest
part of the whole thing ahead of us.”

“Catching old Fanely and pinning the cans to him?”

“That’s it.”

“This,” remarked Osceola, “is not a book, Bill. It’s a racket. Come
along and give me a hand with the old woman.”



                             Chapter XVIII
                            THE ELEPHANT GUN


Shortly after daybreak that morning, Bill Bolton spiralled his small
two-seater down to a crosswind landing on a field back of Pawling, New
York. The monoplane bumped onward over the rough stubble for a few yards
and stopped.

Bill stripped off his headphone and turning in his seat, faced toward
Osceola and Ashton Sanborn who were wedged into the rear cockpit. The
field, though comparatively level, was high on the mountain side. From
where he sat he had a lovely view of a wide valley and a village
nestling amid the trees near the base of the mountain. But Bill ignored
the view. He seemed rather put out this morning.

“Well, here we are,” he announced grumpily. “I hope you’re pleased.
Orders are orders, but if you ask me, Mr. Sanborn, I think it’s the
bunk.”

The two aft got out of the cockpit and Sanborn walked forward to Bill
who was glaring at the instrument board.

“Sorry, old man,” the detective held out his hand. “Won’t you wish me
luck?”

Bill turned his head quickly and smiled at his friend. “Of course I
will, Mr. Sanborn,” his tones carried sincerity. “Here’s the best of
luck to you, and a full bag!”

They shook hands. “I know,” said Sanborn, “that both you and Osceola
feel badly about this. But you two fellows constitute our rear guard—and
believe me when I say that you’re undertaking a very grave
responsibility.”

Osceola came up and laid an affectionate hand on the older man’s
shoulder. “Good hunting, boss. Neither Bill nor I are ever quite
ourselves so early in the morning, and especially so after a heavy
night.”

“Oh, I know I’m a grouch today.” Bill laughed, though not very
convincingly. “But it’s a disappointment, after what we three have been
through on this business, not to be in at the finish. Don’t apologize
for me, Osceola. I know I’m acting like a spoiled kid—I’ll get over it
after a while.”

“If the Professor spots my men and Captain Simmonds’ police,” said
Sanborn, “his plane won’t land. Then it is up to you fellows to get
after him, and I give you _carte blanche_—you can do as you like about
it.”

“Force down the Fokker and capture the villain,” said Osceola. “If we
can.”

“That’s the idea,” replied Sanborn cheerfully.

“Only,” said Bill, “Professor Fanely _won’t_ spot the secret service men
and the police because they’ll be too well hidden. All that you and I
will get out of it, Osceola, is a rotten view of the battle, half a mile
away, from those trees over yonder. It’s a grand life, this secret
service stuff—if you like it!”

“I’ll tell you one thing, Bill,” promised the detective, “if this raid
is pulled off successfully, and we round up the cartwheel gang in their
lair, the people of the United States will have you to thank for saving
them from the most frightful menace that has ever threatened this land
of ours. And I’ll see that you get full credit.”

Bill leaned over the side of the cockpit. “Why, that’s the bunk, too,
Mr. Sanborn—and you know it. Osceola found the first winged cartwheel
and—”

“And ran it to a dead end,” supplied the chief calmly. “You were the
brains of this piece, Bill.”

“And you also put in plenty of grit and brawn,” amended the secret
service man.

“Heck, no. How about yourself, Mr. Sanborn? You’ve been running the
show.”

“But if you hadn’t saved my life last night, Bill, my boy, I wouldn’t be
running anything. And as the Chief says, without your brains, the winged
cartwheels mystery would have remained unsolved—and I would still be
watching poor Kolinski, over at Heartfield’s. No, Bill, you’ve played
the lead in this piece, there’s no disputing it.”

Bill grinned and shook his head. “Sorry I can’t agree with you.” He
leaned back in his seat and twiddled the stick. “Here comes Captain
Simmonds. I reckon it’s time you and I, Osceola, pushed this bus into
the shade of those trees. No need to give any more publicity than we
have to, to our whereabouts.”

The State Police Captain strode across the field. “Morning, everybody.
The men are posted, Mr. Sanborn. We’ve got the Mizzentop hotel
completely surrounded. When Fanely arrives we’ll rush the plane and the
house at the same time.”

“You won’t, unless you hurry—” Osceola’s sharp ears had detected a
distant hum in the air to the southeast, “here comes the Fokker now!”

Simmonds uttered an exclamation of fury.

“Tarbell is in charge. He’ll handle things all right.” Sanborn though
seriously disturbed, was outwardly calm. “Stupid of us not to expect
Fanely earlier. But you and I had better hop it, Captain.”

The big airplane appeared suddenly over the top of the mountain; then,
just as suddenly went into a steep right bank.

“Wait!” Bill snapped out the order. “They’ve seen us! Swing this bus
into the wind. If that Fokker gets away now, we’ll have it to do all
over again.”

The three on the ground grasped the situation instantly. They took hold
of the tailplane and slewed it round in a quarter circle, as Bill
switched on the ignition. Almost immediately, the inertia starter set
the propeller revolving, and Osceola taking a running leap half vaulted,
half climbed into the rear cockpit. They were moving slowly over the
rough ground now, the engine roaring.

With his feet on the rudder pedals and right hand on the stick, Bill
adjusted helmet and goggles as the engine warmed up. Then he cut down
the throttle speed and clapped on his phone set. A twist of the head
told him that Osceola was secure, and he roared the engine into twelve
hundred revolutions per minute. They were rolling in earnest now. Bill
lifted his ship off the ground with the engine beating a steady tattoo.
Then he opened her up wide and pulled back on the stick.

They climbed steadily, heading after the Fokker, which now was but a dot
to the southward, and bucking a twenty mile wind from the sea. The air
was slightly bumpy, and sharp knocks on the bottom of their fuselage
gave the impression of rolling over cobble-stones. Far above the roaring
plane, little clouds, like balls of fluff, swam in the light ether.

At fifteen hundred feet, the approximate altitude of the Fokker, Bill
leveled off. The distant shape which had been growing smaller, now
appeared to remain constant.

“We aren’t gaining any!” Bill heard Osceola’s voice through his ear
phones.

“Oh, yes, we are! But you can’t notice the gain at this distance. That
Fokker can’t do better than 118 m.p.h. high speed. I can squeeze 135 out
of this crate.”

“But they’re miles ahead, Bill. If old Fanely takes a notion to have his
pilot land him, all we’ll find is the deserted plane when we get there.”

“I know it, you old fusser—that’s why we’re going to climb again—Perhaps
you aren’t aware that it’s bad business to change temperature too
quickly?”

“But why go higher?” The young Seminole sounded annoyed. “We’ll lose
speed climbing—and it will take us longer to land at the finish.”

“Think so? Well, it’s the only way we can possibly catch up with them in
a hurry.”

“I can’t see that.” Osceola was frankly puzzled.

Bill pulled back the stick and sent them hurtling upward again. “See
those clouds up there, Redskin?”

“Better than you, probably, Paleface. What about ’em?”

“Which way are they moving, dumbbell?”

“Toward the southeast—great snakes, that’s the way we’re flying, isn’t
it! I thought we were bucking a stiff wind.”

“We are—but there’s another strata of air up yonder, and the current is
blowing those clouds in the direction we want to go. If Fanely’s pilot
had the sense of a louse he’d stick that wind on his tail as we will do,
instead of bucking half a gale down here.”

“Thank you,” said the Chief. “Compliments are flying like airplanes this
morning.”

“Don’t mention it, old top. I don’t think the Fokker is coming down yet
awhile, though.”

“That’s good news. How do you figure it?”

“She’s over the Sound now, and heading for the Atlantic via Long
Island.”

“That’s queer—they can’t be running off to Europe!”

“Not a chance—unless they’ve got extra fuel tanks aboard, and brimful at
that.”

“What do you think the old bird’s up to?”

“How should I know?—Something nasty, without doubt. Got a rifle handy?”

“You bet.”

“Then get it out. See that your safety-belt is on tight, too. I’m going
to worry them some when we catch up. Don’t fire unless I give the word,
though.”

Osceola grunted something that Bill didn’t catch. The little Ryan was
racing in level flight once more, roaring through the misty fluff balls
with a thirty mile wind from behind. Far below, Long Island Sound
appeared, a strip of dazzling silver between the Connecticut shore and
the long narrow island from which it takes its name. Beyond, the blue
Atlantic shimmered in the bright sunlight.

The Fokker, still flying at the same low altitude continued to head out
to sea. Bill knew that he was lessening the distance between the two
planes with every revolution of the Ryan’s propeller. He figured their
ground speed at not less than one hundred and sixty-five miles per hour.

In amazingly short time the little ship closed up on the big one.

“Get ready for a nose over!” Bill’s voice was steady and strong.

_Zing!!!_

The streamline steel tubing of the forward wing strut on the port side
buckled slightly.

“Fire at will,” barked Bill into his transmitter and pushed forward the
stick.

Over nosed the Ryan and with throttle wide open, she roared down on the
Fokker’s tail. From the rear and above came two deafening detonations,
and Bill saw the stabilizer and elevator to port and starboard of the
Fokker rudder disappear into thin air. For an instant the big bus reeled
drunkenly, then shot nose first for the sea, fifteen hundred feet below.

With wings creaking, Bill brought the Ryan up on an even keel, then
banked. On the surface of the ocean there rose a cloud of spray. The
Fokker had disappeared from sight.

“Gosh!” cried Bill. “That was a quick one!”

“I’ll say so. They must have drowned like rats in a bucket—or do you
think any of ’em will come up?”

“Not a chance. They died when she struck. Think of the speed they were
traveling! I could hardly see her nose under. Well, they started the
shooting. That’s why old Fanely led us out here.”

“Didn’t want a gallery from below watching eh?”

“That’s my guess. Gee whiz, you certainly got in a couple of pretty
ones! What have you got in there—a three-pounder?”

“Your father’s elephant gun—” Osceola told him. “And explosive bullets.
Another shot, and I’d have had the whole tailplane off.”

“Well, you’ve got no kick coming,” said Bill. “Let’s hike for home,
shall we? Nobody will ever see Professor Fanely and Mr. Lambert again.
You’ve saved the government a big expense this morning, Redskin!”

“Oh, there’ll be plenty of trials for the newspapers to grow rich on out
of this business, Bill.”

“Yes, I reckon Sanborn and the police corralled a bunch of winged
cartwheels at the factory while we were away on our joy-ride.”

“Sure—and _look! Look, Bill!_”

Their chase had led them miles to the southeast and now they were
approaching New York City on their return toward Connecticut. They were
speeding over the Narrows, heading up the harbor when Osceola uttered
his exclamation. High over the Battery, and downtown Manhattan, a
skywriter was at work. Together the lads watched the airplane spell out
its gigantic smoke letters above the city.

                          “BOLTON SAVES NATION
                               READ THE—”

“That’s enough—” cried Bill in a disgusted voice, and headed the Ryan
over Brooklyn. “Fast workers, aren’t they? Well, it looks as if
Mizzentop has fallen.”

“I guess it has. Remember what Ashton Sanborn said about you getting the
credit?”

“Yes, I do. He’s kept his promise all right—confound him!” said Bill.


                                THE END



                          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 (or amusing)
  spellings and dialect unchanged.

--In the text versions, delimited italics text in _underscores_ (the
  HTML version reproduces the font form of the printed book.)





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