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Air Service Boys Over the Atlantic by Charles Amory Beach

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a stroke."

"Worse even than that!" declared Jack, with a sneer on his face to
express his contempt, "he's a regular coward about the water. And if they
do have the hard luck to run up against a Hun torpedo, Randolph will be
frightened half to death."

"Queer," commented Tom, "how most of these schemers prove to have a
yellow streak in their make-up, when the test really comes. Just picture
him running screaming up and down the deck, and being kicked out of the
way by every officer of the vessel when he implores them to save him."

"I can see it all as plain as day!" cried Jack excitedly. "And if I know
human nature the chances are those sailors would think of the coward
last of all."

"Yes, they'd leave him to the sinking ship if there was no room in the
boats, you can depend on that, Jack. And now set your teeth as you
usually do, and tell me again that you're not going to own up beaten
until the umpire says the game is over."

"I do promise you, Tom," came the immediate response, showing that Jack
was getting a fresh grip on his sinking courage and hopes. "But all the
same, I keep on groping, and I'd like to see the light."

"For a change of subject," Tom observed, "shall we tell Lieutenant
Beverly about your troubles? I've just glimpsed him coming this way."

"No reason why we shouldn't," agreed Jack. "He's a good friend of mine
and three heads might be better than two in cracking this hard nut I'm up
against. But he looks as if he might be bringing us news. Ten to one
he's going to say the way is cleared for us to take that long trip with
him to Berlin and back in his big Martin bomber."

"Too bad to disappoint him," remarked Tom. "But of course that's out of
the question now."

"I'd have been glad of the chance to go, only for this sudden
complication in my own affairs," Jack sighed. "But why couldn't you take
the spin in his company, Tom? It's a pity to break up his plans."

"And desert my chum when he's in trouble? I'd never forgive myself for
doing such a thing. The lieutenant will have to find some other pals for
his record making Berlin and back flight."

Jack thought he detected a vein of regret in his comrade's voice, and he
quickly flashed:

"You're disappointed, of course, Tom; you've been counting on that trip
all the while, because its daring and dash appealed to you, just as they
did to me."

"Forget it, please," urged Tom sturdily. "It was only a dream, and, after
all, perhaps it couldn't be carried out. For all we know it may be the
best thing in the world for us that we're prevented from starting; for
such a long flight is a great risk, and might end our careers."

"Well, here's the lieutenant," said Jack, turning to greet the newcomer,
and striving to look natural, though it cost him a great effort.

"I've hurried here as fast as I could!" exclaimed Beverly, his eyes
sparkling with pleasure. "I wanted to bring the good news before you
received it officially."

"What's that?" demanded Jack, turning a puzzled look toward his chum.

"Why, when they notified me I could have three weeks' leave of absence
from duty, with no question concerning my movements during the interim, I
chanced to learn that your request had also been granted. Both of you
will be free, don't you understand? and the big game is now open to us."

"Well, that's certainly good news you've brought us, Lieutenant Beverly,"
said Tom, accepting the other's extended hand which was offered in
congratulation. "I suppose you're counting now on getting that long
flight off your mind? I regret to tell you I fear it's hull down in the
distance for the two of us!"

"What! You haven't flunked, Tom? I'd never believe either of you could go
back on me like that," cried the other, looking sorely distressed and
bitterly disappointed.

"Circumstances over which we have no control," continued Tom, while
Jack hung his head and looked gloomy, "have arisen to knock our
plans galley-west. Much as we'd be pleased to make the game, we
simply can't do it."

"But the bomber is all ready and waiting!" gasped Lieutenant Beverly.
"And we're having a vacation extended to us, with no red tape or strings
tied to the conditions! Why, the track is cleared for the biggest flight
on record, and now you tell me you'll have to drop out. See here, what's
this mean? There's something queer about it all, I know."

"Just what there is, Lieutenant," remarked Jack, looking him squarely in
the eye, "and it's only right you should know the reason. Tom might go
along with you, but he absolutely refuses to leave me alone to fight
against the slickest scoundrel living. Now listen, and I'll sketch the
whole story for you."

This he proceeded to do rapidly, omitting nothing that seemed of moment.
When the meddler's secret work in tampering with their plane before they
went up on the night raid was mentioned, the flight lieutenant's eyes
flashed with indignation. Being a pilot himself he could appreciate such
rank treachery better than any layman could.

"That's how the land lies," said Jack in conclusion. "And you understand
now just why we must disappoint you, and make you look elsewhere for two
companions on your trip to Berlin to frighten the Huns. It breaks my
heart to decline, but this other matter must take my whole attention."

"You don't blame Jack, do you?" asked Tom.

"I should say not!" came the ready answer, accompanied by a keen look,
first at Jack and then at the other, as a dazzling idea suddenly flashed
into Beverly's mind. "Business before pleasure, every time with me; and
it's only right you should devote every atom of your mind and body to
beating that skunk to the post."

"We've settled on that policy all right," said Jack. "The only trouble is
we haven't so far found a remedy to overcome his long lead; for he's got
almost two days' run head of me, you understand."

Tom saw the lieutenant smile broadly and draw a long breath. Then
something seemed to grip his heart as he heard Beverly say:

"Hold on! I've got an inspiration, boys. Perhaps there may be a way open
to beat him to it yet!"

CHAPTER XI

THE AMAZING PLAN

"Tell us what you mean, please?" begged the excited Jack.

"Take things coolly, to begin with," warned the other; "because what I'm
going to say will almost stun you at first, I suppose. But it's no new
idea with me. Fact is, I'd planned it all out in my mind long ago; had it
more than half arranged at the time I ordered that monster Martin bomber
built at my own expense and shipped over to France."

"Yes," muttered Jack, while he kept his eyes glued hungrily on the
flushed face of the other.

Tom said nothing, but looked as though he already half guessed what was
coming, if the eager and expectant gleam in his eyes signified anything.

"I explained to you," the lieutenant continued steadily, "that the big
bomber was equipped for a trip to Berlin and back; and went so far as to
say the flight could be _repeated without making a landing_, if there
was any need of such a thing. All right, then; in a pinch, properly
loaded with plenty of gasoline and stores, that machine would be able to
take three fellows like you two and myself all the way across the
Atlantic, and land us on American soil! Get that, do you, Jack?"

No one said a word for half a minute. The proposition was so astounding
that it might well have appalled the stoutest heart. At that time no one
had attempted to cross the Atlantic in a heavier-than-air plane, a feat
later on successfully accomplished. Nobody had piloted the way in a
Yankee-made seaplane; nor had any one navigated the air passage in a
monster dirigible. The three thousand miles of atmosphere lying between
Europe and America still stood an uncharted sea of vapor, where every
imaginable evil might lie in wait for the modern Columbus of aerial
navigation.

Then Jack drew a long breath. The lieutenant was watching the play of
emotion across his face, and he knew the seed had been sown in good
ground, where it was bound to take root. Jack's extremity would be his,
Lieutenant Beverly's, opportunity. So he returned to the attack, meaning
to "strike while the iron was hot."

"It staggers you at first, of course, Jack," he said, in his confident,
convincing way. "But why should it? The danger is great, but nothing
more than we're up against every day we set out for the clouds to give
battle to a tricky Hun ace, who may send us down to our death. And I
assure you we'd have at least a fighting chance to get across. What do
you say, Jack?"

For answer the other whirled on his chum. His face was lighted up with
that sudden and unexpected renewal of hope, just when it had seemed as
though he had fallen into the pit of despair.

"Tom, would it be madness, do you think?" he cried, clutching the other
by the arm, his fingers trembling, his eyes beseeching.

"We'd have a fair chance of making it, just as Colin says," Tom slowly
answered. "Much would of course depend on contrary winds; and there'd be
fighting in the fog banks we'd surely strike. But Jack,--"

"Yes, Tom?" gasped the other, hanging on his chum's words eagerly, as one
might to the timbers of a slender bridge that offered a slim chance to
reach a longed-for harbor.

"If you decide to accept the venture I'm with you!" finished Tom.

At that the eager flight lieutenant showed the utmost enthusiasm.

"Call it settled then, Jack, so we can get busy working out the
programme!" he begged, again insisting upon gripping a hand of each.

Jack found himself carried along with the current. He could not well have
resisted had he so desired, which was far from being the case. It seemed
to him as though he were on a vessel which had drifted for hours in the
baffling fog, and then all of a sudden the veil of mist parted, to show
him the friendly shore beyond, just the haven for which he was bound.

"It is, perhaps, a desperate attempt to make such a flight on short
notice," Jack said. "But think! If we succeed! And think, too, of that
schemer winning the prize! Yes, Tom, since you've already agreed to stand
in with me, I say--_go_!"

After that a fever seemed to burn in Jack's veins, due to the sudden
revulsion of feeling from despair to hope. He asked many questions, and
for an hour the three talked the matter over, looking at the
possibilities from every conceivable angle.

Tom was not so sanguine of success as either of his mates; but he kept
his doubts to himself. As an ambitious airman he was thrilled by the
vastness of the scheme. As Lieutenant Beverly had truly remarked, while
it held chances of disaster, they were accepting just as many challenges
to meet their death every day of their service as battleplane pilots.

Then again it seemed to be the only hope offered to poor Jack; and Tom
was bound to stick by his chum through thick and thin. So he fell in with
the great scheme, and listened while the flight lieutenant touched upon
every feature of the contemplated flight.

Luckily it was no new idea with him, for he had spent much time and labor
in figuring it all out to a fraction, barring hazards of which they could
of course know nothing until they were met.

"I've got all the charts necessary," he assured them, after they had
about exhausted the subject, with Jack more enthusiastic than ever. "And
while you boys are waiting to receive your official notifications, which
ought surely to come to-morrow, since there was a hurry mark on them, I
noticed, I'll rush over to the coast and see that additional supplies of
fuel and food are put aboard."

"Don't stint the gas, above everything," urged Jack. "We'd be in a pretty
pickle to run out while still five hundred miles from shore. If it was
only a big seaplane now, such as we hear they're building over in
America, we might drop down on a smooth sea and wait to be picked up by
some ship; but with a bomber, it would mean going under in a hurry."

"Make your mind easy on that score, Jack," came the lieutenant's reply.
"I'll figure to the limit, and then if the plane can carry another fifty
gallons it'll go aboard in the reserve reservoir. I'm taking no chances
that can be avoided. There'll be enough to bother us, most likely. And,
for one, I'm not calculating on committing suicide. I hope to live to
come back here aboard some ship, and see the finish of this big,
exciting scrap."

Tom liked to hear him talk in that serene way. It showed that Lieutenant
Colin Beverly, while a daring aviator was not to be reckoned a reckless
one; and there is a vast difference between the two. Tom was of very much
the same temperament himself, as was proved in past stirring incidents in
his career, known to all those who have followed the fortunes of the Air
Service Boys in previous books of this series.

"Is there anything else to confer about?" asked Tom. "Because I can see
you're itching to get away, Colin."

"Not a thing, as far as I know," came the reply. "If any fresh idea
happens to strike me I'll have it on tap when you arrive. Are you sure
you've got the directions how to get to Dunkirk, and then how to find my
secret hangar on the coast beyond the town, Tom?"

"We'll be ready to skip out just as soon as our official notice comes to
hand," the other assured him.

"That's the only thing bothering me just now," observed Jack. "Any delay
there might ruin our plans at the last minute. As it is, we're not apt to
have any too much time to beat the steamer to New York."

"I expect you to show up to-morrow night, and then we can slip away
unnoticed in the dark," said the lieutenant. "I've kept tabs on the
weather conditions, as it's always been a fad with me; and I'm happy to
say there seems to be no storm in prospect, while the winds are apt to be
favorable, coming from the east, a rare thing these fall days. So-long,
boys, and here's success to our jolly little flight!"

After he had left them Jack turned on his comrade to say:

"It seems to be our only chance, and not a long one at that; but I'm bent
on trying it out. Anything to beat Randolph to the tape, Tom!"

CHAPTER XII

GRIPPED IN SUSPENSE

From that hour on Jack continued in a fever of suspense. His one thought
was of the coming of the official notification connected with their
hoped-for leave.

Tom fancied that his chum did not get much sleep on the following night,
the last both of them hoped they would have to spend in the dugout used
as a billet back of the American front.

So another day found them. Jack took special delight in casting up
figures connected with the case. These he would show to his chum, and
make various comments. Tom, realizing how the other was endeavoring to
suck consolation from this proceeding, encouraged him in it.

"By to-night," Jack said, more than once, "it will be three whole days
since the steamer sailed from Havre. I've tried to find out how fast
she is, and then figured that they'd have to slow down when passing
through the barred zone. I reckon it will take her eight or nine days
to get across."

"Oh, all of that," Tom assured him; "and it might be as many as twelve.
You see, the few passenger steamers still in use haven't been in dry dock
for the longest time, and their hulls must be covered with barnacles,
which cuts off considerable from their speed."

Jack gave him a thankful look.

"You're the best sort of jollier, Tom," he observed. "You know how to
talk to a fellow who's quivering all over with eagerness and dread. What
if something happens to hold up those notices until it's too late for
even Colin's big bomber to catch up with the steamer?"

"You're only borrowing trouble when you allow yourself to fear that," was
the reply. "But all the same, I mean to do everything I can to get things
hurried along. I'll see the general, and with your permission explain to
him that there's great need of our getting word to-day."

"But, surely, you wouldn't dare hint anything about the big trip we want
to take, Tom?" asked Jack, looking alarmed.

"I should say not!" came the immediate response. "If we did that, the
general would consider it his duty to put his foot down on the mad scheme
right away. Trust me to let him know we stand to lose out in something
that concerns your whole future if the notifications are delayed beyond
early this afternoon, and I'm sure he'll start the wires going to get
them here."

"What can I be doing in the meanwhile?"

"You might see to making arrangements for crossing to the coast on the
first train that goes out," answered Tom.

"But that's going to be slow traveling, even if we're lucky enough to get
aboard," protested the other. "Tom, do you think the general would permit
us to take our machine, and fly to Dunkirk?"

"Good! That's a clever idea you've hit on, Jack!" exclaimed the other.
"I'll take it up with the general when I see him. He might find it
_convenient_, you know, to have some message sent across the country to
the coast; and it would save us hours of time, perhaps win the race for
us. A splendid thought, Jack!"

"Then let's hope it can be carried through," returned the other.

Tom did not lose any more time but hurried away to try to get an
opportunity to talk with the kindly old general. He had always shown an
interest in the fortunes of the two Air Service Boys, and they had
already received favors from him on several occasions.

The minutes dragged while he was gone. Jack could not keep still, so
nervous did he feel, but continued walking up and down, "like a tiger
in its cage," he told himself. He ran through the entire gamut of
possible troubles and triumphs in his mind, as he tried to picture the
whole thing.

"What great luck to have Colin Beverly break in on us just at the
time when my fortunes had reached their lowest ebb," Jack kept saying
to himself.

At last Tom came back. Jack could read success in his looks, even before
the other had had a chance to open his mouth and say a single word.

"It's all right then, I take it, Tom?" he exclaimed impulsively.

"Didn't have any trouble at all in interesting the general," replied the
messenger joyfully. "He said he'd see to having an urgent call go out to
hurry the notifications along, and almost promised they'd get here by two
this afternoon."

"And how about the plane business?"

"That's all settled in the bargain. I have written permission to make use
of our plane, turning it over to a certain agent in Dunkirk after we've
arrived there. The general will send a message over to us which we're to
deliver at the same time we give up the machine."

"Great work, Tom! I've always said you'd make a mighty fine diplomatic
agent, if ever you tried, and now I know it."

"No soft-soap business, please. If it had been anybody but the general
I'd have surely fallen down on my job. But you know he's always had an
interest in us, Jack."

"Do you think he suspected anything?" asked the other.

"Sure he did, but not _the_ thing, for nobody in the wide world would
ever dream we were planning such an unheard of thing as a non-stop flight
across the Atlantic."

Tom dropped his voice to a whisper when he said this; not that there
seemed to be any particular need of caution, but simply on general
principles. They could not afford to take any chance of having their
great plan discovered in these early stages of the game.

"Well, I don't know how I'm going to hold out much longer," complained
Jack. "I can't keep still five minutes, but have to jump up and walk it
off. Let's see--two o'clock you said, didn't you? That'll be nearly three
long hours more. It's simply terrible, Tom! Sixty minutes in each hour!"

"But then we'll have to eat our regular midday meal, remember," Tom tried
to cheer his companion up by saying. "If you prefer it, we might walk
over to the field-hospital, which, by the way, I hear is to be moved
ahead to-night, to keep in closer touch with the wounded straggling back
from the front. The Y hut's close by, too, and we'd enjoy an hour or so
with the girls. Nellie told me she expected her brother, Harry, to be
back on our sector any day now, and if he should come before we clear out
we'd be mighty glad to see him."

Jack hesitated.

"Gee! you do tempt a fellow, Tom," he finally remarked, as though coming
to a conclusion. "Nothing I'd like better than to chat with Bessie and
have a few of those Salvation Army girls' doughnuts to munch. But I guess
it would be foolish in our laying off just now."

"You mean the notifications might arrive while we were gone?" remarked
Tom, nodding his head, pleased because the other took such a sensible
view of the matter.

"Yes. We might lose a whole hour, perhaps two, by being away,"
explained Jack. "That would be too bad; it might even turn out a
catastrophe, if in the end that hour would save us from being beaten in
the race against time."

"All right, then, we'll hang around and watch for something to come from
Headquarters. The general promised me he'd have the notifications
sent over without any delay just as soon as they came."

"Let's go over to the flying field and watch some of the boys come in,"
suggested Jack, and to this the other readily assented.

Even when an airman is off-duty his special delight lies in "hanging out"
at the aviation field, seeing his fellow workers go forth, watching their
return, and listening to the many thrilling accounts of battles fought,
as well as perils endured.

The fascination of the sport, once it has fairly gripped a man, makes him
its slave; he can think of little else; and doubtless even in dreams he
fancies himself performing unusual hazards and earning the applause of
the multitude.

However this proved to be a very good panacea for Jack's nervousness
and they managed to put in a full hour there. Business was unusually
brisk in the way of engagements; and Tom more than once secretly
regretted that circumstances beyond their control caused them to miss a
"whole lot of fun."

The enemy was up in the air in more ways than one on that day.
Desperation on account of the blowing up of the bridge caused the German
plane scouts to meet the challenges offered by the exultant Yankees, and
news of many an encounter kept coming in about the time the two boys
thought of leaving the field and going for their dinner.

Word had also been received of several accidents to American pilots, and
it looked as though the history of that eventful day would set a new
high-water mark in the way of losses.

Jack even began to fear they might be ordered to go up, which would bring
about a fresh delay while communication was being established with
Headquarters to verify their story. So he was really glad when Tom drew
him away by suggesting that it was time they dined.

At one o'clock they were at their headquarters, killing time and waiting.
Jack's nerves once more began showing signs of being frayed, or "ragged,"
as he called it. He jumped at the least unusual sound, and alternately
looked expectant and despairing.

It was now close to two o'clock, and as yet there was no sign of relief.
Jack jumped up for the twentieth time and started to walk back and forth,
while others among the airmen were gathering their belongings together,
preparatory to a change of base.

Then a messenger was seen hurrying toward them. Jack became almost wild
with excitement, until he knew for a fact the notifications had arrived.

"And now," said Tom, "let's put for the field and get away without
any further loss of time. It's a long way to Dunkirk, remember, even
by way of the air line, as a bee would take it. And we must get there
before dark!"

They ran part of the way, and thus presented themselves before the
hangar. Ample preparations had already been made. The petrol tank had
been filled, and, everything being in readiness, they would have nothing
to do but jump aboard and make a quick start.

But Tom was too old a pilot to take things for granted. After that recent
experience with treachery he meant to be doubly careful before risking
their lives in the air. Dunkirk on the Channel was a considerable
distance off; and a drop when several thousand feet above French soil
would go just as hard with them as if it were German territory.

Accordingly he took a survey of the plane from tip to tip of the wings;
looked over the motor, tested every strut and stay, leaving nothing to
Jack, who was fairly quivering with the intensity of his feelings.

Even the longest day must come to an end, and Tom's examination was
finally completed.

"Get aboard!" he told Jack. "We're in great trim to make a record flight
of it. And even the breeze favors us, you notice."

"Let's hope it keeps on as it is," said Jack, quickly; "because an
easterly wind will help carry us on our way to-night!"

"We'll be in luck to have such help," Tom replied. "As a rule, the
passage from Europe to America meets with head winds most of the way. How
are you fixed, Jack?"

"All ready here, Tom."

"Half a minute more, and I'll be the same. Take your last look for some
time, Jack, at the American fighting front. We'll never forget what we've
met with here, and that's a fact."

"But, Tom, we expect to come back again, if all goes well,"
expostulated Jack. "In fact, we've just got to, or be accused of
running away. We arranged all that, you remember, and how we'd manage
to get across in such a way that no one will be any the wiser for our
having been out of France."

"Don't let's worry about that yet," said Tom. "The first big job is to
get across the Atlantic. Ready, back there? Here goes!"

Another minute, and with a rush and a roar the plane sped along the
field, took an upward slant, and set out for the coast. The first leg of
the great flight had actually been started!

CHAPTER XIII

OFF FOR THE CHANNEL

"Tom, do you think that spy left behind by my cousin could have learned
in any way about our plan?"

They were passing over a section of Northern France, keeping a mile and
more above the surface of the earth, when Jack called out in this
fashion. Talking is never easy aboard a working plane. The splutter of
the motor, added to the noise caused by the spinning propellers, as well
as the fact that as a rule pilot and observer keep well muffled up
because of the chill in the rarified air, all combine to make it
difficult.

But Jack was hard to repress. Especially just then did he feel as if
he must find some answer to certain doubts which were beginning to
oppress him.

"There's no way of telling," Tom answered promptly. "We've already seen
that the fellow is a clever, as well as desperate, rascal. He may be an
American, though I'm rather inclined to believe your cousin has found a
native better suited to his needs. And such a treacherous Frenchman would
prove a tricky and slippery sort. Yes, he may have overheard us say
something that would put him wise to our big game."

"I hope not, I surely do," Jack continued, looking serious again. "Fact
is, Tom, I'll never feel easy until we see the ocean under us."

At that Tom laughed heartily. He even put a little extra vim into his
merriment in the hope of raising his chum's drooping spirits.

"That sounds mighty close to a joke, Jack, for a fact," he said.

"I'd like to know how you make that out?" demanded the other.

"Why, most people would be apt to say our troubles were likely to begin
when we have cut loose from the land and see nothing below us as far as
the eye can reach but the blue water of the Atlantic."

"All right," cried Jack, showing no sign of changing his mind. "I'll
willingly take chances with nature rather than the perfidy and
treachery of mankind. Somehow, I can't believe that we're really
launched on the journey."

"Wake up then, old fellow, and shake yourself. You'll find we've made a
pretty fair start. Already we've put thirty miles behind us. Unless we
run up against some snag, and have engine trouble, we ought to get to
the Channel long before dark sets in."

So Jack relapsed into silence for a time. As he was not needed in order
to run the motor or guide the plane in its progress westward, Jack could
amuse himself in using the powerful binoculars.

They were at the time far removed from the earth, but through the
wonderful lenses of the glasses objects became fairly distinct. So Jack
could see much to interest him as they sped onward. Finally he again
broke out with an exclamation.

"Nothing but the ruins of towns and villages down below, Tom," he called.
"The fighting has been fierce along this sector, I should say. Why, even
the woods have been smashed, and it looks like a regular desert. Poor
France, what you must have suffered at the hands of those savage Huns."

"Yes," replied the pilot, over his shoulder, "here is where much of the
most desperate fighting of the British took place. Some of those ruined
places were beautiful French towns only a few years ago, where laces and
such things were made for most of the fashionable world. Now they look
about like the ruins of Ninevah or Babylon."

Fortune favored them during the next hour, and even Jack's spirits
had begun to improve. Then came a check to the sanguine nature of
the outlook.

"Sorry to tell you, Jack," reported Tom, after some uneasy movements,
which the other had noticed with growing alarm, "that we'll have to make
a landing. After all, it's not going to be a non-stop flight to the
coast. Only a little matter, but it should be looked after before it
develops into serious trouble. I'm going to drop down to a lower level,
where we can keep an eye out for a proper landing place."

"But that means time lost!"

"We can spare an hour if necessary, and still get to Dunkirk by evening,"
Tom replied cheerfully. "I was a bit suspicious of that very thing, and
only for our desperate need of haste would have waited to start until it
had been gone over again. But then I took chances, knowing it would, at
the worst, mean only a stop for repairs. Sorry, but it can't be helped."

When the plane had reached a distance of a thousand feet above the earth,
with Jack eagerly looking for a favorable landing place, the latter had
managed to recover from his depression.

"I see what looks like a fine stretch, Tom," he now announced. "Notice
that road looking as if it might be pitted with shell-holes? Just on its
right, where that single tree trunk stands, there's a field as level as
a barn floor. Circle around, and let's get closer to it."

Further examination convinced them that they had really run upon a
suitable landing place. What pleased Tom still more was the fact that so
far there had been no evidence of human presence near by.

This meant that they would not be bothered during the time required for
overhauling the engine by curious spectators, who might even question
their right to be flying away from the front.

The landing was made in good style, and with only a few bumps, thanks to
the smooth character of the field's surface. Even Jack was compelled to
admit that though they had met with trouble, matters might be much worse.

"We'll get busy now, and soon have things as fit as a fiddle," said Tom,
throwing off some of his superfluous garments so as to be free to work.

By this time both boys had grown to be real experts in all sorts of
mechanical repairing, as every airman must of necessity become before he
can pass the acid test. Unlike the driver of a car on country roads, when
a break-down occurs he cannot step to a neighboring house, use the long
distance or local telephone, and summon help. The airman is usually
compelled to depend exclusively on his own ability to overcome the
difficulty.

To get at the seat of trouble necessitated considerable disarrangement
of the motor's parts. This consumed more or less time, and the minutes
passing were jealously given up by the impatient Jack.

But the boys worked fast, and finally all had been accomplished. Tom
tested the engine, and pronounced himself satisfied, while Jack looked
over the field ahead of them.

"It's going to take us to Dunkirk without any further trouble, I give you
my word for it, Jack," he said. "How long have we been here?"

"Just one hour, lacking three minutes," came the prompt reply.

"Then I'm safe," laughed Tom; "for I said within the hour. Come, pile
aboard and we'll be off. Sure you examined the ground ahead, and saw to
it we'd hit no bumps that might give us trouble?"

"It's all right there, Tom; could hardly be better. But be sure you don't
change from a straight course, because there's a nasty shell-hole, about
ten feet deep, to the left. If we struck that--good-night!"

"I notice you marked it with that pole, Jack, and I'll swing clear, you
can depend on that."

They had no difficulty in making a successful ascent. Once free from the
ground, the plane's nose was again turned toward the southwest. Tom had
long before marked out his course, and kept an eye on the compass as
well as on his little chart.

He knew they were heading for the Channel port as straight as the crow
flies. The sun was getting far down in the western sky, and it was now
necessary to shield their eyes when looking ahead, on account of the
dazzling glare that at times threatened to blind them.

The character of the country below had changed materially, Jack told the
pilot, who seldom had a chance to look through the glasses, since his
entire attention was taken up with manipulating the engine, watching its
rhythmical working, and keeping the plane pushing directly on its course.

"Heine didn't get a chance to ruin things here when he passed through,
going to Paris and to his smash on the Marne," Jack explained. "Towns and
villages look natural, as I see them, and they must have harvested crops
in those brown fields. This is a bit of the real France, and entirely
different from the horrible desert we've been at work in so long."

The afternoon was wearing away. Jack frequently stared eagerly off to the
west, when the sun's glowing face was veiled for a brief time by some
friendly cloud. Several times he believed he could see something that
looked like a stretch of water, but dared not voice his hopes.

Then came a time when a heavier cloud than usual masked the brightness
of the declining sun. Another long earnest look and Jack burst out with a
triumphant shout.

"Tom, I can see the Channel, as sure as you're born!" was the burden of
his announcement; and of course this caused the pilot to demand that he
too be given a chance to glimpse the doubly welcome sight.

There could not be any mistake about it. Tom corroborated what Jack had
declared. It was undoubtedly the English Channel they saw, showing that
their journey from the American front had been successfully accomplished.

"Now for Dunkirk!" jubilantly cried Jack, looking as though he had thrown
off the weight of dull care, and was once more light-hearted. "And by the
same token, Tom, unless I miss my guess, that may be the city we're
heading for over yonder a little further to the south."

"Then I kept my course fairly well, you'll admit," the pilot shouted at
him, naturally feeling conscious of a little pride over his achievement.

Rapidly they pushed on with a slight change of course. Jack kept using
the glasses and reported his observations to the busily engaged pilot.

"It'll be dusk, likely, when we land," he observed at one time. "But that
doesn't cut much figure, for we can easily find our way down to Beverly's
hangar on the coast. He said it was only a few miles from town, and
they'll know at the aviation field, of course."

"He gave us the name of a British officer who would post us," added Tom.

After a bit they were passing over the outskirts of Dunkirk, and making
for what appeared to be an aviation field, since they could see various
hangars, and another plane was just settling ahead of them.

Ten minutes passed, and Jack was delighted to find that they had made a
successful landing. A number of French and British aviation men hastened
to surround them, more than curious to know what strange chance had
brought two Yankee fliers to Dunkirk.

Of course neither Tom nor Jack meant to afford them the least
satisfaction. They had certain business to transact, and after that was
off their hands the great adventure loomed beyond.

Accordingly, their first act was to find the man to whom they had been
referred by Lieutenant Beverly.

"We want to see Major Denning; can anybody direct us to him?" Tom asked.

"That happens to be my name," remarked a red-faced officer on the
outskirts of the crowd and who had just arrived. "What can I do for you?"

"Lieutenant Colin Beverly of the American aviation corps referred us to
you, Major," said Tom. "We have a message for you, after which we must
deliver an official packet sent by our general to the command here and
make arrangements to have our plane sent back to where we started from
some hours ago, on the American fighting front."

"I shall be pleased to give you any assistance in my power, gentlemen,"
said the British major, being apparently a very agreeable and
accommodating man indeed, as Beverly had informed them they would find
him.

Stepping away from the crowd the Air Service Boys delivered their
message, which was really a sort of prearranged password.

"Lieutenant Beverly is a cousin of mine, you know; which makes me more
than anxious concerning him just now," went on Major Denning, after these
formalities had been gone through with.

"Why so, Major?" demanded Tom, while Jack looked worried.

Whereupon the red-faced major drew them still further to one side,
and, lowering his heavy voice so as not to be overheard by others,
went on to say:

"I, as you know, know something about that wonderful big bomber he's
had sent over, and how he means to give Berlin a scare shortly. I've
even had the privilege of looking the monster over, and feeling a
thrill at picturing how it would give the Huns a fright when it
appeared over Berlin. But you see its presence here is a secret, and
known to but few of us."

"Glad to hear it, Major," Tom remarked. "But please explain why you are
worried about Beverly."

"That is," continued the officer, "because an explosion was heard,
coming from the south, just a short time ago. Everybody believes it
must be the airdrome sheltering the dirigible Britain sent over here
for use, and which lies further down the coast. But, much as I hate to
say it, I fear something serious has happened to Beverly's hangar; in
fact that a bomb has destroyed it, or else some rank Hun treachery has
been at work there!"

CHAPTER XIV

READY FOR THE START

"Just our beastly luck!" gasped Jack, turning white with apprehension.

"Wait, we haven't any proof as yet," advised Tom. "The Major himself
admits that he's only afraid it may have been Beverly's hangar. Hasn't
anything been done to learn the truth, sir?"

"Oh, yes," came the quick reply. "A number of cars have gone down that
way, but the road's in a shocking condition, and up to now none of them
has returned to advise us. I'd be very sorry if it turned out as I fear,
doubly so if Beverly himself were injured or killed, because I'm fond of
the chap, don't you know."

"Let's hope everything is all right," said Tom, as composedly as
possible. "And first of all I'd like to get through the business part of
our errand here. I have the packet to deliver for our general. Then the
machine must be turned over to a representative of our Government here.
After all that's attended to we'll strike out for the Beverly hangar."

"I'll be pleased to take you there personally, if you like," remarked
Major Denning.

"And we'll accept your offer with thanks, sir. It is very kind of you,"
said Tom, at the same time wondering what the other would say when he
made the astounding discovery that the object of the expedition was even
more ambitious than a mere flight to Berlin and back; that indeed the
daring adventurers meant to attempt a record voyage across the Atlantic
by air such as would vie with that of Columbus.

Jack fell into a fever of suspense again, and counted the minutes that
must be consumed in carrying out the business in hand. Tom was
exceedingly scrupulous concerning this.

"The general was kind enough to give us a good push on our way here," he
told Jack, when the latter continued to fret and hint about "cutting off
corners" in order to hasten their getting away. "We're bound to do our
part of the job right up to the handle. Besides, what do ten or twenty
minutes amount to?"

When Tom announced himself satisfied night had settled on the land.
Dunkirk had for long been annoyed by the fire of a long-range
monster gun, shells dropping into the city at stated intervals for
weeks at a time.

So, too, hostile airplanes had hovered over the Channel port, trying to
make it unpleasant for the British Tommies in camp near by. But since
Marshal Foch opened operations on a large scale, together with the
furious drive of General Pershing's army, this had altogether ceased.

Major Denning had a car at their disposal.

"It will take us to a place where we can leave the road and follow a
path to the beach," he told them. "Beverly has quite a force of men
there looking after things, which fact makes me hope nothing could have
happened to injure or destroy that wonderful bomber. But we've been
pestered to death with Hun bounders playing spy, and I'd put nothing
past them."

They set out, and were soon on the way. Major Denning had a man at the
wheel, evidently his chauffeur, for he was a British private. He knew the
road, and managed to steer clear of the obstructions that continually
cropped up.

"Seems to me those Hun pilots must have dropped most of their bombs out
this way, instead of hitting the town or the camps," Tom suggested, as
they dodged to and fro, and often suffered severe bouncings.

"No man-power to make any road repairs, in the bargain," explained the
officer. "Since the drive has been on we are sending every British
battalion we can muster forward. These things can wait until the German
is licked, which we all believe is coming shortly, with Marshall Haig and
General Pershing and General Petain on the job."

"Wow! what's that mean?" cried Jack, half jumping up as the sound of
several shots not far away came distinctly to their ears.

"Did those shots seem to be over yonder to the right?" asked the major.

"So far as I was able to judge that's where they came from," Tom replied.
"Does the hangar lie in that quarter, sir?"

"Just what it does! There's certainly something strange going on around
there to-night. But we'll quickly learn for ourselves, because the spot
where we leave the road is just ahead of us."

Jack was the first out; indeed the car had not wholly come to a stand
before he made a flying jump. Leaving the chauffeur to watch the car, the
major soon found the trail. He carried a small hand electric torch with
him, a vest-pocket size, but at least with a ray sufficiently strong to
dissipate the gloom under the brush and to show them what seemed to be a
well defined trail.

"We may find ourselves made a target by some of his wideawake guards.
That they are on the alert those shots we heard a bit ago seem to
testify," suggested Major Denning.

"Oh, we'll use the signal whistle; and I feel sure Lieutenant Beverly
himself will be listening to catch it, for he expects us any minute now."

"We're getting close enough just now to exercise due caution, at any
rate," the guide answered in a whisper.

Taking the hint, Tom commenced giving the signal. It was a short sharp
whistle, four times repeated. Hardly had Tom sounded this than they heard
an answer.

"Fine!" exclaimed Jack. "He's here on deck, and perhaps everything may be
all right yet."

They continued along the path, and Tom repeated his whistling. Finally
the figure of a man loomed up beyond.

"That you, Tom, Jack?" came a voice.

"Hello, Beverly!" Jack burst out impulsively. "We've come all the way by
air. What's going on around here; nothing serious happened, I hope?"

"Rest easy on that score, boys," the other replied, still advancing.

"Then the machine is still ready for business, is it?" cried Jack.

"In apple-pie order, down to the last drop of juice, and ready to do the
builders proud. But I'm mighty glad to see you, boys, I surely am. Afraid
there'd be some hitch at the last minute from your end."

"And," said Tom, wringing the other's hand, "Jack has been picturing all
sorts of terrible things happening to you and the plane here, near
Dunkirk. He's as happy as a clam at high tide right now, I assure you."

"You bet I am!" Jack cried explosively, gripping the fingers of the
lieutenant with great enthusiasm.

"Why, hello! who's this but my English cousin, Major Denning?" cried
Beverly, discovering that his two chums were not alone.

"Thought it best to steer them to you, and take no chances of a miss,"
explained the officer. "Besides, to tell you the truth, I fancied seeing
you start off on your long contemplated trip to wake up Berlin. Once I
was in hopes I might even have the opportunity of accompanying you. I've
a score to settle with the beast for knocking a hole in my London house
and frightening my aunt almost into fits. At least you'll let me wish you
_bon voyage_, Beverly."

Tom said nothing. He realized that the major had no inkling of the real
purpose of the flight about to be undertaken; and if he was to be told
the facts the information must come from Lieutenant Beverly himself.

"Oh! By the way, that Berlin trip will have to wait," chuckled the
lieutenant, making up his mind that a clean breast of the whole matter
must follow. "Fact is, Major, we're after larger game than that would
prove to be; something calculated to stagger you a bit, I think."

"You're certainly puzzling me by what you say, Colin," declared the
major, betraying a growing curiosity in voice and manner. "I'd like to
know for a fact what you could call larger game than a non-stop flight to
Berlin and back, starting from the Channel here. Are you planning a trip
to the moon, after Jules Verne's yarn?"

"No. But something that has as yet never been attempted," came the steady
reply. "It is a flight across the Atlantic to America in the big bomber
plane, and starting this very night!"

CHAPTER XV

THE LONG FLIGHT BEGUN

Major Denning was greatly astonished when Lieutenant Beverly made so
astounding an assertion.

"Well, I wouldn't put anything past you Yankees," he presently remarked,
with a dry chuckle. "But this is something of a Herculean task you're
planning, Colin. A flight of over three thousand miles is a greater
undertaking than any plane has so far been able to carry through. And if
you should meet with trouble, the jig is up with you all!"

"We understand what we're up against, I assure you," Tom replied. "The
plan is entirely Lieutenant Beverly's, sir. Sergeant Parmly has reason to
get home before the _La Bretagne_ reaches New York harbor, and she's
already three days out. Learning this, our good friend here made a
thrilling proposition, which we eagerly accepted. That's the story in a
nutshell, Major Denning."

"I must say I admire your nerve, that's all," exploded the other,
shaking hands with all of them. "Just the type of chap I'd like to tie up
with. My word! if I could get leave, and there was room for one more
aboard the big bomber, I'd beg of you to take me in. But I wish you every
luck in the wide world. My word, fancy the nerve of it!"

"We must remember not to speak a word so that any of the men can guess
what our real destination is," Beverly cautioned, as they continued along
the path. "Only my right-hand agent here knows the truth, and he means to
keep it dark."

"But they must suspect something unusual," suggested Tom.

"It's hinted that we are aiming at Berlin, don't you know?" pursued the
lieutenant, chuckling. "But believe me, the game is a bigger one than
just that little jaunt, far bigger in fact."

Presently they came to the shore where the stout hangar was found, partly
hidden under the branches of low trees and shrubbery. Before them lay the
sandy stretch of beach hard as a dancing floor, and well fitted to be
their "jumping off" place.

Tom bent down to feel it, after the manner of an experienced air pilot.

"Couldn't be bettered much, could it, Tom?" demanded Lieutenant Beverly
confidently.

"I should say not!" was the quick response.

Jack was feeling quite joyous since the outlook for starting on the
anticipated flight had become so bright. At the same time he told himself
he would not entirely lose that tense sensation around the region of his
heart until they were actually off.

Around the hangar they found a cordon of several armed men; a fact which
caused Tom to remember that they shortly before had heard the report of
firearms, and as yet had failed to learn the cause. Then again there was
that explosion down the coast. He turned to Lieutenant Beverly for an
explanation.

"We too heard the sound of an explosion," Beverly told him in reply. "It
came from further down the shore. There's some sort of British airdrome
in that quarter, I'm informed; and possibly they had an accident there.
As for the shooting, that's easily explained. My men were the cause."

"Spies hanging around, probably?" hazarded the major, in disgust. "We've
been bothered with the slick beasts right along--shot several, but even
that didn't keep the coast clear."

"There have been skulkers around for some time," continued the
lieutenant. "Baxter tells me he'd warned them off until he grew tired,
and threatened that the next one who was caught trying to peep would be
fired upon. So to-night when a sentry reported suspicious movements in
the brush we sent in a few shots, more to give them a scare than to do
any damage."

"Have they tried to injure your plane, Colin?" asked the major.

"I understand that once my men discovered a fire had been started in a
mysterious way, which they succeeded in putting out. Only for prompt work
it would have at least disabled the bomber so that its usefulness for the
present would be nil."

"The ways of those German spies are past finding out," complained Major
Denning. "They seem to take a page from Indian tactics, and resort to all
species of savage warfare. It wouldn't surprise me if you found they had
shot an arrow with a blazing wad of saturated cotton fastened to its
head, and used your hangar as a target. History tells us your redskins
used to do something like that in the days of the early colonies."

Shortly afterwards the monster bombing plane was wheeled out of its
hangar, and became an object of vast interest to the two Air
Service Boys.

Tom and Jack were of course familiar with its working, but needed a few
hints from Lieutenant Beverly with respect to certain new features that
it possessed.

"What do you think of it, boys?" was the natural question asked by the
intrepid flight commander, who of course meant to do his share of the
handling of the giant plane during its long flight.

"A jim-dandy! That's what!" exclaimed the delighted Jack, almost awed by
the tremendous size of the up-to-date machine, with its wonderful expanse
of planes and its monster body in which the vast amount of stores, as
well as surplus gasoline, could be stowed.

"I'm confident we'll have more than a fighting chance to reach the
objective we have in view," Tom in his turn remarked; and even though the
men standing near must have heard what he said they could not possibly
suspect the truth that lay back of his words.

"Everything has been looked after, and right now there's not a single
item lacking," Lieutenant Beverly assured them. "Mention what you please,
and I defy you to find I've overlooked it. I notice that you have brought
your glasses along, Jack. I have a fine pair with me, but we can
doubtless use both."

"And on my part," added Tom, "I thought it wise to carry a few small
knickknacks that I've become attached to. They ought to share my
fortunes. If I cash in, my reliable old compass here, for instance,
wouldn't be valued highly by any one else; but it's saved my life more
than a few times."

"And may again," said Jack softly; "for those fogs are simply dreadful,
if half that's said about them turns out to be true."

Tom was stooping down and feeling the firm sandy beach.

"A splendid place to make our start, Lieutenant," he remarked.

"I selected it with that idea in view," explained the other. "Besides, in
a long trip, like the run to Berlin, this would be as desirable a station
as any. What do you think of the plane, Tom?"

"As well as I can see it, I am satisfied it will be all you told us," Tom
answered him, while Jack added:

"Same here."

Certainly, as seen spread out on the almost level stretch of hard sand
the monster bombing plane did have a powerful appearance that must
favorably impress any experienced pilot. Tom and Jack had noted several
things about it calculated to inspire confidence. They were taking
tremendous risks, of course, but then that was nothing novel in their
lives as aviators.

"Is there anything to delay us further?" asked Jack naively, feeling
that even minutes might count when the issue was so plainly outlined.

"I do not know of the slightest reason," admitted Lieutenant Beverly,
moving toward the bombing plane and followed by his two comrades. "And
that being the case, let's get aboard. Anything like a written message
you would like to leave behind, to be sent in case we are never heard
from again, boys? You can give it to my cousin, the major here, who will
attend to it."

Both Tom and Jack had thought of this long before, and each had prepared
a simple statement which would explain their fate in case they met with
disaster on the flight. These sealed and directed envelopes they now
handed to Major Denning.

"Depend on me to hold them until all doubt is past," he told them, as he
warmly pressed a hand of each.

Then Lieutenant Beverly gave the word to his men, and immediately the hum
of the giant motors announced that they were off on their amazing trip to
span the Atlantic, as it had never been done before, by way of the air!

CHAPTER XVI

THE FIRST NIGHT OUT

It was with a strange feeling of exhilaration that Tom and Jack realized
the fact that at last they were embarked on a flight that would either
bring about their death or, if successful, make a record in long distance
non-stop travel in a heavier-than-air machine.

The cheers of the men on the beach had been drowned in the roar of the
powerful motors and twin propellers when they left the land and commenced
to sweep upward in a graceful curve.

Both boys looked down to catch the last glimpse of France, the land so
closely associated with liberty in the minds of all true Americans. It
was in her cause two million young Yankees were at that very hour facing
the Boche in a determined effort to chase him back over the Rhine and
force a stern settlement for all the devastation his armies had wrought.

Quickly did the darkness blot out all trace of land. Back some little
distance, it was true, they could still glimpse feeble lights, marking
the location of Dunkirk. The French no longer feared to illuminate to a
limited extent since bombing planes no longer came raiding at night, nor
did that unseen monster Krupp cannon deliver its regular messages of
bursting shells.

Below them lay the English Channel, and Lieutenant Beverly had so shaped
the course that as they rose higher and higher they were heading directly
across, with the eastern shore of England close enough to have afforded
them a view of the land had it not been night-time.

They had discussed all this many times, and settled on what seemed the
most feasible route. Of course, it might have been a much shorter
distance had they decided to head almost south-west-by-south, making for
the Azores, and stopping there to prepare for another flight across to
Newfoundland. Going that way, they would have had the benefit of the
general easterly winds. But this did not appeal to Tom and Jack for
several good reasons. In the first place, it meant that a landing at the
Azores would be reckoned of such importance that it must be heralded far
and near. This was apt to get them into trouble with the military
authorities, since they had received no _bona fide_ permission to leave
the soil of France; at least, to return to America.

Then again Jack was opposed to the plan for the reason that if they
should land at the extreme point of Newfoundland considerable delay must
be caused by the difficulty of getting transportation to the States. All
the while Randolph Carringford would be steadily moving on, and, landing
at New York, have an advantage over Jack.

There was also a third reason that influenced the young navigators in
deciding to take the longer course across the Atlantic. This concerned
the fogs such as can always be met with off the Newfoundland Banks, and
which are often so dense that vessels flounder through them for several
days at a stretch.

By taking the southern course, and steering direct for the Virginia shore
they would be likely to miss much of this trouble, even though it was a
time of year when heavy mists hang along the entire Atlantic seaboard.

All of them were silent for some little time, only the roar of the motor
and the propellers beating in their ears. Beverly had established a
method of communication when in flight without unduly straining the
voice. It was very similar to a wireless telephone outfit which Tom and
Jack had employed not long back, and by the use of which they could
actually talk with an operator similarly equipped, even if standing on
the earth a mile below their plane.

It was arranged for all three of them, and could be removed from the
head when no communication was desired. In the beginning they were not in
the mood to make use of this contrivance, which, however, would
undoubtedly be welcome later on, when they would be passing over the
apparently limitless sea and the monotony had begun to wear upon their
nerves. Then conversation might relieve the tension.

It was Jack who presently called out:

"I can see lights below us. Do you think we've crossed the Channel,
Lieutenant?"

"Yes, that's the English shore, and doubtless Dover lies directly below
us, although we're at such a height that it's impossible to make sure."

"What's the idea of keeping so high, Lieutenant?" continued Jack.

"Simply to avoid collision with any of the coast guard fliers, who might
take us for Huns meaning to attack London again after a long break. But
Jack, I'm going to ask a favor of you."

"Go to it then!" called out the other, who was plainly "on edge" with
excitement over the wonderful fact that they were at last on their way.

"Drop that formality from this time on," said Beverly earnestly.
"Forget that I happen to rank you, for I'm sure your commissions are
only delayed in the coming. From now on let it be either plain Colin,
or if you prefer, Beverly. We're three chums in a boat--a ship of the
air, to be exact--and all ranking on a level. You'll agree to that,
won't you, Jack?"

"You bet I will, Colin, and it's just like you to propose it!" cried the
pleased Jack.

After that they fell silent again, though now and then Jack, who was
making good use of the night-glasses, announced that they seemed to be
passing over some city.

Tom had studied their intended course so thoroughly that he was able to
tell with more or less accuracy what some of those places were. In so
doing he always kept in mind the probable speed at which the big plane
was traveling.

They had veered a little, and would not come anywhere near Liverpool or
Dublin, as Jack had suspected might be the case until he looked over the
chart Tom had marked. On the contrary, their new course would carry them
over the south of England, and just cut across the lower part of Ireland;
indeed, the latter might have been skipped entirely with profit to
themselves in miles gained, only it seemed natural they should want to
keep in touch with land just as long as possible.

How steadily the giant plane moved majestically through the realms of
space several miles above the earth! Tom found himself fascinated by the
working of the motors from the very minute he first heard them take up
their steady labor. Surely, if the feat were at all within the bounds of
possibilities, they had, as Lieutenant Beverly said, "a fighting chance."

Of course there was always impending danger. Any one of a score of
accidents was liable to happen, especially after the engines had been
constantly working hour after hour.

Such things may bother an aviator when over the enemy's country, because
if a landing seems necessary in order to avoid a fatal drop, there must
always arise the risk of capture. How much more serious would even the
smallest engine trouble become, once they were far out over the ocean
with nothing in sight as far as the eye could reach save an endless
vastness of rolling waters beneath, and passing clouds overhead?

Tom, however, would not allow himself to brood upon these possibilities,
and when they flashed across his mind he persistently banished them.
Sufficient to the day was the evil thereof; and if difficulties arose
they must meet them bravely, doing the best they could, and accepting
the results in the spirit of Columbus, who was the pioneer in spanning
the Atlantic.

Jack now made a discovery that caused him to call out again.

"I believe we've left the land again, and it's water down under us right
now, fellows!" he called shrilly, his voice sounding above the clamor by
which they were continually surrounded.

"Well, according to my calculations," said Tom, "we should be about quit
of England and striking the Irish Sea at its junction with the Atlantic.
It's that you believe you see right now."

"Then before long we'll glimpse Ireland's lights!" cried the exultant
Jack. "Though we're likely to pass over only the city of Cork as we dash
on for the big sea beyond. So far everything is moving like grease,
Lieu--Colin."

"I promised you it would," the pilot told him. "And let's hope it keeps
up this way all the way through."

Again they ceased trying to talk since it proved such an effort without
resorting to the little wireless telephone arrangement. Jack did notify
them, however, when he believed he sighted tiny specks far below that he
took for the lights of some place of consequence; but Tom, who knew
better, assured him he must be mistaken.

"You're straining your eyes so much you mistake other things for
lights, Jack," he told the observer. "It might even be the reflection
of the stars on the glasses of your binoculars. We're not near Cork
yet, and there's no other place worth mentioning that we'll come near.
Rest up, Jack."

"Plenty of time for that after we've struck out over the ocean," came
Jack's defiant answer.

Later on he again declared he saw lights. They had been speeding for some
hours at a rate of more than sixty miles, which was good time for one of
those monster heavily laden bombers to make.

"Yes, I imagine it's Cork this time," said Tom, when appealed to.
"We veer to the left here, and pass out to sea over Queenstown,
don't we, Colin?"

"According to our mapped-out plan that's the course," came the reply, as
the pilot shifted his levers, and headed a little more toward the south.

Their sensations at that particular time were very acute. It was as if
they had reached the dividing line, and were about to enter upon a course
that would admit of no turning back.

"There, the last glimmer of light has disappeared!" finally cried
Jack in an awed tone, "and we're heading out over the Atlantic, bound
for America!"

CHAPTER XVII

WHEN THE SUBMARINE STRUCK

It was long past midnight.

In fact, the aviators could expect to see dawn break before a great
while. When that event came about they knew what an appalling spectacle
must greet their wondering eyes. Above, the boundless expanse of blue
sky, with fleecy little white clouds passing here and there, looking like
islands in a sea of azure; below, an unending sea of tossing waves, with
perhaps not even a fishing vessel in sight.

Jack fell asleep, being utterly tired out. Tom too caught what he called
little "cat-naps" from time to time. Beverly stuck faithfully to his
post, for not a wink of sleep could come to one in whose hands the
destinies of the whole expedition lay.

So the minutes passed, bringing them ever nearer the breaking of another
day. The immensity of their undertaking no longer appalled them. It was
too late for consideration anyway, since they were now fully launched
upon the flight, and turning back was not to be thought of.

Jack, waking out of a nap, looked down, and immediately uttered a loud
cry.

"Why, it's getting daylight, and you can glimpse the ocean! How queer it
looks, fellows, to be sure! Is everything going well, Colin?"

"Couldn't be improved on," he was assured by the faithful pilot.

"First I must use the glasses to see how it looks at closer range," Jack
continued. "Then I think we ought to have breakfast. This cold air makes
a fellow as hungry as a wolf. I think I must have lost myself for a bit."

Tom did not say anything, only smiled, but he knew that the other had
enjoyed at least a full hour of sleep.

"How far are we from land, Tom, would you say?" next asked the observer,
while he was adjusting the glasses to his eyes.

"Possibly a hundred and fifty miles, perhaps nearer two hundred," Tom
assured him, in a matter-of-fact tone, as though that was only what might
be expected.

"Hello! I can see a vessel already, and heading into the west!" declared
Jack. "Of course I can't make out what she's like, though I bet you her
hull and funnels are camouflaged to beat the band, so as to fool those
Hun submarine pirates with the stripes of black and white. You don't
think it's possible that could be the _La Bretagne_, Tom?"

"Well, hardly," came the quick reply, "unless something happened to
detain the French steamer after she left Havre days ago. She ought to be
a whole lot further along than this boat is. She must be some small liner
from Liverpool or Southampton, making for Halifax or New York."

Jack presently tired of staring at the little speck far down below.

"I wonder if they can see us with a glass," he next observed, as Tom
began to hand out bread and butter, with hard-boiled eggs or ham between,
and some warm coffee kept in Thermos bottles so as to take the chill of
the high altitudes out of their bodies.

"Not a chance in a hundred," Beverly assured him. "Besides, those aboard
the steamer are devoting all their efforts to watching for enemies in the
water, and not among the clouds."

They munched their breakfast and enjoyed it immensely. Indeed it seemed
as though they devoured twice as much as upon ordinary occasions.

"Lucky we laid in plenty of grub!" Jack declared, when finally all of
them announced that they were satisfied. "This Atlantic air makes one
keep hungry all the time. Now I can see that steamer plainly, for we've
dropped a little lower. Oh! What can that mean?"

His voice had a ring of sudden alarm about it that instantly aroused
Tom's curiosity. Even Lieutenant Beverly looked over his shoulder as
though he, too, felt a desire to learn more.

"They seem to be firing guns!" continued Jack presently. "Of course we're
far too high to hear the sound, but I can see the smoke as sure as I'm
sitting here. Can it be they're being attacked by a Hun undersea boat, do
you think, boys?"

"Such things keep on happening right along in these shark-infested
waters," replied Tom. "Go on and tell us all you see, Jack!"

They were all of them thrilled by the consciousness that possibly a grim
tragedy of the sea was being enacted directly beneath, without any
likelihood of their being able to render succor to those who might soon
be in distress.

"They keep on firing," Jack continued. "I can see each puff of smoke
belch out. There, something has happened! I believe it was a torpedo that
exploded against the hull of the steamer, for I saw a great blotch rise
up, and men are running about the decks like mad!"

Beverly had almost automatically decreased their speed, as though
inclined to hover above the ill-fated vessel as long as possible, at
least to learn what followed.

"They seem to be making signals!" Jack presently cried out.

"Look around and see if you can glimpse anything coming on!" demanded
Tom, as though suspecting the cause of this fresh announcement.

Hardly had the one who gripped the binoculars started to do as he was
requested than he gave a cry of mingled relief and satisfaction.

"Two boats racing straight for the spot, boys! Destroyers, too! Like as
not Americans, for they keep lying out here, you know, to protect our
transports going over with the boys. How they do cut through the water
with their sharp bows and make the waves fly! But that steamer looks as
if she might be sinking right now!"

The excitement grew intense. Beverly even started to circle around,
content to lose a few miles and some minutes if only he could satisfy
their minds that all was well with the unfortunate steamer that had been
so ruthlessly torpedoed without warning by the undersea pirates.

"They're coming up like fun!" cried Jack presently. "I can't see as well
as I'd like, though, on account of the sea fog that keeps drifting along
in patches like clouds. I really believe they'll get up before she
founders. Now the crew have started putting off boats to make sure of
saving the passengers if the worst comes!"

"Which shows they have a capable captain aboard," commented Tom.

"But the sea must be pretty rough," continued Jack, "because the small
boats toss and pitch sharply as they start away from the steamer. Hang
that fog, it's going to shut the whole picture out soon. But there,
one of the destroyers has arrived, and the boats are heading straight
on to it."

A minute later Jack gave them another little batch of news.

"The other destroyer is circling around, and must be looking for signs of
the sub. Wow! that was a terrible waterspout, though. And there goes a
second one!"

"They're dropping depth bombs, intending to get the slinker!" announced
Beverly jubilantly.

"Here's hoping they do then!" cried Jack, and immediately afterwards
added: "But it's all over for us, boys, because the fog's shut it off
completely. Might as well get along on our way; but I'm happy to know
those Yankee boats came up in time to save everybody aboard the steamer.
What a bully view we had of the performance!"

"It's such things that are apt to break the monotony and routine of a
long flight like the one we've undertaken," remarked Tom. "In time, of
course, the dash across the Atlantic will become quite common; and those
who make it are apt to see wonderful sights."

"Two hundred miles out," Jack was saying to himself as he sat there still
holding the glasses in his hand, though not attempting to make use of
them, and his eyes ranged longingly toward the western horizon where the
blue of the sky touched the dark green of the boundless sea, all his
thoughts centered on the goal that lay far distant across that vast waste
of tumbling waters.

So as the sun started to climb in the eastern heavens the flight of the
big bombing plane carrying the trio of adventurous ones was continued,
every mile left behind bringing them that much nearer their destination,
with the future still an unsolved problem.

CHAPTER XVIII

THE COLD HAND OF FEAR

Noon came and went, with the same steady progress being maintained hour
after hour. Tom relieved Beverly at the pilot's berth, and the latter
succeeded in getting some much needed rest. Still, none of them could
sleep comfortably, which was hardly to be wondered at considering their
strange surroundings.

"My first nap when flying, for a fact!" admitted Colin, after he had
awakened, and managed to stretch his stiffened limbs.

"Tough work trying to get a few winks of sleep when one is quivering all
over with excitement," Jack remarked.

They were no longer maintaining such a high course, having descended
until the heaving sea lay not more than a thousand feet below. Nothing
was in sight in any direction, which was one reason for Tom's dropping
down as he did.

"A lot of water," Jack commented, for they had started to try out the
wonderful little wireless telephone, to find that it really worked
splendidly. "Guess after the flood Noah must have thought that way too.
But shucks! we haven't got even a dove to send out."

"We happen to have something better," Tom told him, "which is the power
to shoot our boat through space at the rate of a mile a minute. No ark
business about this craft."

"Well, is there any objection to breaking our fast again?" the other
inquired, changing the subject.

Beverly seemed to think not, for he proceeded to get out the hamper in
which much of their prepared food was contained.

"I laid in double the quantity I expected we'd devour," he told them,
"and then added something to that for good measure. No telling what may
crop up; and if we happen to be cast on a desert island a healthy lot of
grub might come in handy."

"It does right now, when we are far from any island, unless that's one up
there in that dark cloud floating above us," and Jack stretched out to
receive his portion of the lunch as parceled out by Colin.

"One thing that made me drop to a lower level," explained Tom, "was the
fact of its being so cold up there among the clouds. Already I feel
better for the change."

"How about it if we should sight a steamer?" asked Jack. "They'd report
meeting a plane flying west here in midocean, which would stir up no end
of comment in the papers, and might lead to our being found out."

"We depend on you to keep the glasses in use, and report anything in
sight ahead," laughed Tom; for the clatter of the motors did not seem to
bother them in the least when using the wireless telephone. "And when you
sing out 'smoke down low on the horizon to the west!' it's going to be an
easy job for us to climb up above the clouds in a hurry."

So it was settled, and they ate their lunch in comfort.

Up to that time not the slightest thing had arisen to give them concern
with regard to the working of the engines. These aroused the admiration
of the three voyagers by their remarkable performance. Tom declared their
equal had never been installed in any plane that was ever built, and
Lieutenant Beverly's eyes glowed with satisfaction to hear his pet
praised so cordially by one whose good opinion he valued as highly as he
did Tom Raymond's.

After Jack had taken his turn at piloting the machine, he amused himself
"between naps" by watching the surface of the sea through the binoculars.

"No telling but what I may glimpse a submarine creeping along under the
surface," he told the others jokingly. "Then wouldn't we wish we'd
brought along a few bombs--the kind they dropped on that Hun bridge the
night we went with the raiders. Right now I could almost imagine that
shark's dorsal-fin was a periscope belonging to an undersea boat."

Other things came along to cause momentary interest, among them rolling
porpoises that rose in sight, and then vanished under the waves, though
from their height the boys could easily follow their movements.

Jack was getting a good deal of enjoyment out of the situation, and Tom
was glad to notice this fact. He had feared his chum's nerves might give
way under the long-continued strain; but apparently Jack had returned to
his ordinary condition.

All of them rather dreaded the coming of night. Flying in midocean while
daylight lasted was serious enough, but with darkness around for many
hours, the situation must awaken new anxieties.

But their hearts were still apparently undaunted. The success that had
rewarded their bold starting out gave abundant promise of still better
things ahead. Tom resolutely refused to allow himself to have any fear.
What if two thousand miles still lay between them and the goal of
their hopes? Was not the miracle-worker of a monster plane doing
remarkably fine work, and should they not continue to believe the end
justified the means?

So they watched the sun dropping lower and lower in the western sky
without any one voicing the thought that must have been in each mind. The
same inscrutable Providence that had watched over them by day would still
guard them when the light was gone. Under the stars, seeming now so much
nearer and brighter than when ashore, they went on and on, until back in
the east another day dawned, the great day of hope for them!

Jack had taken to looking eagerly ahead once more.

"What do you think you see?" Beverly asked him, for Tom again served as
pilot at the steering gear.

"Why, I'm all mixed up about it," came the slow reply. "It certainly
isn't a steamer, and again it just can't be land!"

"Well, hardly," Beverly answered. "To tell the honest truth I don't
believe there's a foot of land closer to us than the Bermudas, which must
lie off in that direction," pointing further toward the southwest.

"When the sun glints on it I'm fairly dazzled," Jack continued, "just as
if some one had used a piece of broken looking-glass to shoot the rays
into my eyes. And then there's a sort of queer mist hanging about that
thing in the bargain, so that sometimes it's almost blotted out. What
under the sun can it be?"

"I think I can give a guess," Tom called back. "How would an iceberg fill
the bill, Colin?"

"Just the thing, I'd say," the lieutenant answered, "only who ever heard
of an iceberg floating down in mid-Atlantic at this season of the year?
Such a thing would be uncommon, to say the least."

"But not impossible?" ventured Tom, to which the other agreed.

"Take a look, and tell us, Colin," urged Jack, offering the glasses.

A minute afterwards they were handed bade again.

"Just what it is, Tom, after all," reported Beverly. "A pretty tall berg
it seems to be, with an extensive ice-floe around it as level in spots as
a floor. I thought I saw something move on it that might be a Polar bear,
caught when the berg broke away from its Arctic glacier. We will pass
directly over, and may be able to feel the chill."

"It was the _Titanic_, wasn't it, that bumped into an iceberg, and went
down with such a frightful loss of life?" remarked Jack.

"No other," replied Tom. "But we'll try to make sure nothing like that
happens to our frail craft. Try to guess what would happen to that
monster berg if we hit head on?"

"Hardly a crack!" Jack retorted. "But I'm more interested in wondering
what would become of us. Guess we'd better keep a good thousand feet up,
and not bother trying to pry into the ice-floe's secrets."

"I'm not dreaming of dropping a foot lower just at present," Tom said
decisively; and not one of them dreamed how soon that decision would have
to be reversed, since all still looked fair about them, with no storm in
sight and the wonderful motors kept up their regular pulsations as if
capable of going on forever.

Yet strange vicissitudes and changes are the portion of those who
follow the sea; which may also be applied to other voyagers of space,
the sailors of the air. One minute all seems fair, with the sun
shining; another, and a white squall is dashing down upon the ship, to
catch the crew unawares and perhaps smother them with its mighty
foam-crested billows.

It was not half an hour later when something happened that was calculated
to chill the hearts of those bold navigators, such as even close contact
to the ice-floe and berg could never bring about.

At the time they had reached a point almost above the field of ice from
the Arctic regions, and Jack was scrutinizing its full extent, commenting
the while on many peculiar features that attracted his attention.

"It's a Polar bear, all right, fellows," he announced, "and believe me
he's some size in the bargain. If I had a rifle along I wouldn't mind
dropping down there and rustling him. But what ails you, Tom? You seem
bothered about something. Gee! you're as white as a ghost!"

Lieutenant Beverly leaned forward and clutched the pilot's arm.

"Anything gone wrong with the motors, Tom?" he demanded hoarsely.

"I've just made a terrible discovery," replied Tom, trying to
control himself. "The worst has happened, and I'm afraid we're in
for a bad time!"

CHAPTER XIX

A DESPERATE CHANCE

"Tell us the worst, Tom!" cried Beverly hoarsely.

Jack tried to echo the words, but his tongue seemed to stick to the
roof of his mouth. He knew his chum well enough to feel assured that
no ordinary hovering peril could cause the other to look so ashen
pale. It must be a frightful catastrophe by which they were
threatened, Jack realized.

"The feed pipe! It must be choking up! Latterly I've more than suspected
the motors were doing poorer work than before!"

The others understood. Under ordinary conditions they would decide on
dropping to the ground for repairs; a task that might be carried out in a
brief time, or consume hours, everything depending on the condition in
which they found things.

But how utterly impossible to dream of doing anything like that now! Jack
looked down to where, in the declining light of the sun, he could see
that limitless sea of billowy water. How different indeed all might be
were their airship a seaplane, capable of floating on the surface of the
water and making a successful launch from it, just as a gull would do.

"I'll take a look, Tom!" Lieutenant Beverly called out. "Not that I doubt
what you say, but all of us will have to put our heads together; we shall
need all our wits if what you fear proves to be a fact."

Tom was more than willing, in fact he would have himself insisted on the
lieutenant or Jack doing this very thing. Pilots differ in plenty of
ways; and, as Beverly had said, one might hit on an answer to the problem
that had entirely escaped the others.

Jack said not a word, but almost held his breath while Beverly was making
his eager examination. The plane was not more than a thousand feet above
the sea at most, and going very slowly now.

A short time elapsed. Then Beverly completed his task. The flight
lieutenant looked more serious than ever, which told the story even
before he uttered a single word.

Apparently the worst had come, and they were up against a question on the
answer to which everything, even life itself, depended.

"I'm sorry to say it's a positive fact, boys!" called out Beverly, and
as both the others were straining their ears to catch what he said, they
had no difficulty in hearing every word.

"It's the supply pipe clogging then?" Tom asked.

"Yes," came the quick answer. "And while under some conditions I've been
able to get along for a short time without dropping down, as a rule I've
found it wise to look for a landing-place before things got to the point
of desperation and avoid a fall, possibly in the midst of a German
battalion."

"No chance of our getting at it while afloat, is there?" Jack asked,
although he knew what Beverly was bound to say.

"Not the slightest," the other shot back. "It might keep going for
something like an hour, and then shut off the gas entirely. Of course
there's always a possibility of a miracle happening, such as the
obstruction being suddenly overcome; but I'm afraid that's one chance in
a million."

"But can't something be done, boys? Must we just fold our hands, and meet
our fate?" demanded Jack. "What are you thinking about, Tom, for I can
see a look in your face that we ought to know? Have you an idea--is there
yet a hope that we can get a grip on this danger, and choke it?"

Tom's face was still colorless, but there was a gleam in his eye, which
Jack had discovered. Perhaps after all it might be only the light of
desperation, a determination to die game if a cruel fortune decreed that
their time had come. Jack could not tell.

"Yes, I have a plan," said Tom quickly. "Perhaps you'll both call it a
wild idea, and think I'm crazy; but desperate cases call for equally
desperate remedies, and at the worst we'll have a chance."

"Good boy, Tom!" cried Jack. "Just like you to hit on a plan! Haven't
I known you to come to the front many times when things looked very
black for us?"

"Tom, tell your scheme!" demanded Beverly. "Things may develop faster
than we suspect now, and if there's any way to get around this trouble
the sooner we start the better."

"Of course," Tom replied, "we'll be taking the risk of smashing the nose
of our craft when we strike, unless luck favors us. I've landed on every
sort of ground, from smooth velvety turf to bumpy stuff that almost
joggled me to pieces; but I never before tried dropping on an ice-floe!"

Beverly and Jack stared hard at each other. Apparently the idea struck
them like a sudden blow, showing that neither had as yet contemplated
such a thing.

Then they turned and stared down at the wide field of floating ice that
was attached to the towering bulk of the mighty berg, as though weighing
the possibility of Tom's amazing suggestion in their minds.

Jack gave a shout.

"Tom, you're a genius, that's what you are!" he almost shrieked in the
intensity of his emotion. "I honestly believe it can be done
successfully."

"We'd have to drop a whole lot lower, so as to take a closer survey, and
learn just how smooth the surface of the floe is," Tom continued.

"I've looked through the glasses," replied Jack. "And as far as I could
make out it seemed fairly decent. I know we've landed on worse ground
many a time, and without being wrecked."

"Look again then, while I'm dropping down," urged Tom.

All of them were tremendously excited, as may readily be believed. And
who would not have been under similar conditions? Although army air
pilots are accustomed to taking great risks, and seldom go up without the
thought flitting through their minds that their hour may be close at
hand, still they are human, and when the dreadful crisis springs upon
them they can feel the chilly hand that seems to clutch the heart.

Jack soon made his report.

"Yes, it looks good to me!" he cried, with a hopeful ring to his voice.
"I can see a crack or two that would be bad for us to run into; but
there's a clear field over on the north side of the floe. I'm sure we
could make it without getting badly shaken up. Then it's our only chance;
if we miss this what else could we do?"

"Nothing," Tom replied quietly. "But I'm going to circle the berg, and
see what lies on the other side."

"Whatever we decide to do," remarked Beverly, who seemed to have
recovered to a great extent from his first perturbation, "we must lose no
time about carrying it out. That feed pipe might become fully clogged at
any minute, you know. Then besides, the sun is ready to dip down behind
the sea horizon, when we'll soon be plunged into darkness."

"Yes," agreed Tom, "we mustn't fool away our time. It's going to be no
easy job to make a safe landing on the ice, something none of us has ever
practiced. But it'd be still worse to go at it haphazard."

The others knew what was in Tom's mind. Should they seriously injure the
big bombing plane there would be no way of making repairs. On land it
could be turned over to the repair-shop, and inside of a week perhaps
emerge once more in as good shape as ever. No such convenience could be
looked for out there in mid-Atlantic!

In a short time they had circled the great mass of ice. They all fully
realized now how cold it was, and why the sea water must be affected for
a mile or more all around such a tremendous bit of the Arctic regions.

They found that most of the floe lay on the north side of the berg; and
decided that their best chance for landing must be in that quarter.

"The old berg looks top-heavy," Jack at one time called out. "You can see
that it leans toward the north; and sometimes I've thought it wobbled
considerably, though that may have been the plane waving up and down."

"No, you were right, Jack," said Beverly. "Its leaning that way tells
that the warmer sea water has begun to eat at its base. Before a great
while the berg will roll over, and smash all that floe into bits."

"I hope not when we're on it, working at our motor!" Jack could not keep
from exclaiming, looking with more interest than ever at the monster berg
that had come all this distance from some glacier a thousand miles away,
perhaps several times that distance, and would sooner or later lose
itself in sub-tropical waters.

Lower still Tom took them. All eyes continued to survey the field of
ice, particularly in that extreme northern sector where Jack had reported
lay the best place for landing.

"Once more in a circle so as to face the wind," said Tom, "and then I
mean to put it to the test."

"Good luck to you, Tom!" said Jack. "If ever you dropped as if you were
falling on eggs, let it be now. I'm going to hold my breath when we
strike the ice, and only hope we don't keep gliding along until we shoot
off the edge into the sea!"

"Leave that to me, Jack," came the assurance of the pilot.

After that no one said a word, for both Lieutenant Beverly and Jack
Parmly realized that it would be dangerous to distract Tom's attention
from his work just at the most critical moment.

The sun had reached the horizon, and inside of a few minutes must
vanish from view. At that moment Tom shut off the engine, and made
ready to alight!

CHAPTER XX

ON THE ICE FLOE

If ever Tom Raymond had need of skill and care it was then, for what
might be an ordinary mishap ashore must be a fatal accident under the
conditions by which they were faced.

But almost as lightly as a snowflake touches the ground he brought the
wheels under the big bomber in contact with the ice. Indeed, Jack could
not tell for a certainty when the actual contact occurred; though
immediately afterwards he found himself being shaken more or less as the
heavy plane bumped along over the ice.

One peril still menaced them, which was that their momentum, unless
halted, might carry them to the terminus of the floe, and plunge them
over. But Tom had taken all precautions, and allowed for everything, even
an unusual slide on account of the smooth surface under the wheels.

Slower grew their progress, though the bumping continued unabated. And
finally they had come to a full stop, with still some little stretch of
the ice field ahead.

Then Jack tried to yell, cowboy fashion; but, to his surprise and
disgust, he could hardly make a sound above a whisper, his voice having
failed him through sheer nervous excitement.

He jumped from his seat, and immediately sat down with a rude jar on the
ice; but, nothing daunted, he quickly scrambled to his feet and began to
dance like a wild Indian might when the war tocsin sounds through the
village, and all his primeval instincts are aroused by the thought of
fighting and plunder.

Tom and Lieutenant Beverly also hastened to leave their seats. They too
found that their legs were cramped and almost useless, through having
maintained a sitting position during so many weary hours.

Jack's exuberant spirits caused him to fairly hug his chum.

"Didn't I know you could do it, Tom?" he cried. "See how the old luck
keeps hanging over us, will you? It's always been this way, Colin; and to
have Tom along means success every time."

"That may be," the lieutenant replied, giving Tom a fond look; "but if I
were you I'd call it something more than just luck. It takes brains to
think up such schemes as this one, brains and a lively imagination in
the bargain; and Tom's rich in both of those requirements."

"Let's get busy, and see about fixing that feedpipe," broke out the
modest object of all this praise. "We have only a short time of daylight
to work in, and after that must depend on our little searchlight torch."

All were willing to start work. Jack found himself shivering slightly,
although they had not been on the ice-floe many minutes.

"Gee, but it's certainly cold, for a fact!" he exclaimed. "I'd hate to be
marooned here any length of time, let me tell you, even if we did have
grub enough to last over a week. Why, we'd freeze to death; not to
mention what would become of us when the old berg crashed over and
scattered all this floe ice!"

"Let's hope that our stay will be of short duration then," said Beverly,
with a quick and apprehensive glance in the direction of the towering
iceberg, upon the peak of which the last rays of the sinking sun glinted
until it seemed to be frosted with a million diamonds.

Tom was already busily engaged, after the bomber had been wheeled partly
around, in order that he might have the benefit of what light remained
with the departure of day.

Beverly and Jack hovered over him, ready to give advice, or lend a
helping hand. Of course none of them had ever had to do with this
particular type of a plane; but then all engines have many similarities
in their construction, and Tom, as well as the other two, had proved
themselves to be capable mechanics, as well as able pilots.

Finally, as it was impossible for the three of them to work at the
repairs, Jack walked around and examined the singular formation
constituting the berg and attendant ice-floe.

"Why," he told himself in glee, "it floated across our path when we
needed a landing-place the worst kind, as if we'd ordered it to be held
in waiting. It might be the next time there'll be a convenient island
handy, though I hope there'll come no next time."

He even found a way to climb on to the berg itself, though in most places

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