This might be the first of
the Donald Keyhoe air adventure stories I have posted featuring Dick Knight.
Flying Aces magazine, in this case the December 1939 issue, for many years
ran series like this one with fictional heroes who flew daring missions for military,
intelligence, corporate, and patriotic citizen purposes. The era was post World
War I up through the run-up to and into World War II. Authors like Donald
Keyhoe and Archibald Whitehouse were themselves pilots, and in many cases decorated
air aces from "The War to End all Wars," "The World War," and other monikers alluding
to WWI. Of course by now we know WWI was not the final multinational battle to be
fought. In addition to the intrigue and of ground-based adventure was detailed descriptions
of air battles which described wing-overs, renversements†, Immelmann turns,
zooms, dives, spins, split-esses, stall turns, and other maneuvers which were nearly
the exclusive domain of dog fights taking place from tree-top level to the rarified
atmosphere above the clouds. Tales of "hot lead" tearing holes through wing fabric
and the shattering of cabane struts reminds you that you are reading about biplanes
of your and not metal-clad fighters of WWII like P−51 Mustangs and P−38 Lightnings.
I can nearly guarantee you will totally enjoy this story.
† A renversement is basically an Immelmann turn with the order of the half-roll
and half-loop reversed; i.e., a half roll first, then a half loop.
Falcons of the Flame
Gripping Dick Knight New-War Adventure
By Donald E. Keyhoe
Author of "Fighters That Time Forgot," "Wings of the Black Eagle," etc.
Illustrated by Jon L. Blummer
Horror from the Sky
The music was low and pleasing, the lights dimmed to just the right softness.
Richard Knight contentedly stretched his long legs, glanced around the well-filled
"I still can't believe it, Lothario," he said to the chunky Irishman beside him.
"No more hiding out - no reward on my head. Cleared by the President's order-"
Doyle's homely face twisted into a lopsided grin.
"And did he lay into th' Staff guys that wouldn't listen to General Brett! 'Brass
Hats' did someone say? 'Brass brains' would be more like it. Why didn't I hear about
this sooner? Anybody that'd think Dick Knight was a traitor-"
"Let's forget it," said Knight. "I want to bury those memories-all except one,
the way you stuck by me and risked your own neck."
"Nuts," said Doyle, embarrassed. "I just tagged along for th' ride. Well, here's
mud in your eye."
"Happy landings," said Knight, lifting his glass. "And to that month's leave
we get before the Q-unit goes to work again."
"Yeah - if hell doesn't pop in Europe," grunted Doyle.
"Looks like it any minute - and there'll be plenty of dirty work over here. Anyhow,
September's just 'arrived - the start of a new season."
They had finished their cocktails, and Doyle was in the midst of a flirtation
with a blond at the next table, when from somewhere, seemingly out in the street,
there came an eerie, wailing sound. It rose on the instant to a nerve-shaking shrillness,
like the scream of a woman in mortal terror.
Knight jumped to his feet, threw some money on the table, and ran toward the
door, Doyle after him. The music had stopped, and part of the crowd was already
surging toward the portal. As Knight reached the entrance, the weird sound beat
into his ears with a sudden, frightful intensity, and he knew that it came from
no human throat.
The doorman was staring wildly around the street. Cars had stopped, and motorists
were craning their necks, trying to locate the source of that appalling sound. A
woman near Knight thrust her fingers into her ears, ran, white-faced, into the hotel.
"What th' devil is it?" Doyle yelled hoarsely.
Knight shook his head, teeth set against the effects of that bloodcurdling sound.
It was like the cry of some animal in terrible agony, but magnified a hundred times.
It reached deep into his mind, touched some primitive fear long dormant. There was
an instant when his brain seemed to reel under the impact of that horrible, un-human
Then, as suddenly as it had begun, it ended.
Stark silence reigned for a moment, broken by the clamor of frightened pedestrians
and motorists. Knight wheeled, saw his own emotion mirrored in Doyle's eyes. There
was perspiration on the Irishman's face.
"It came from right here in the street," Doyle whispered. "But there wasn't a
"Look!" cried Doyle, as the intense heat of the terrific blue
blast made them edge back. "Over there to the left! A flyer with a fouled chute!"
He broke off, and Knight turned swiftly. Up in the misty night, a ghastly bluish
light was rapidly spreading. The next instant, with a faint hissing sound, a ball
of bluish fire plunged through the lowering clouds and hurtled toward the center
Shrieking, the crowd broke and ran. Knight seized Doyle's arm, jerked him back
toward the hotel entrance. The weird ball of fire whirled down, the hissing now
grown into an audible roar. Unable to face the blinding light, Knight huddled back
into the doorway. There was a stunning crash, an impact that set the hotel windows
to rattling. Shading his eyes, he saw that the ball of fire had struck close to
the front of a brick apartment house a block away, in the midst of a group of passers-by.
Even at that distance, the heat was so intense he , could face it only a second.
But even in that swift glimpse, he saw the front of the apartment suddenly cave
in, where the bluish fire swirled against it.
"Dick!" Doyle said tensely. "Look - over there to the left. A flyer with a fouled
Knight stiffened. Revealed in the glare was a form tumbling through the air with
what was unmistakably an unopened parachute trailing above it. Just over the tops
of the buildings, one side of the chute flapped out and was caught by the wind.
In a second the entire chute was open, oscillating wildly above the figure beneath.
"Whoever he is, he's got the answer to this," Knight muttered. "Come on - there's
The driver of the cab had fled, leaving his motor still running. Knight jumped
in, took the wheel. The sidewalk was now deserted, pedestrians crouching behind
cars or in shop doors to escape the withering heat. Knight ducked below the windshield
to avoid the glare, turned at the nearest corner and hurdled another curbing. The
heat was at once lessened as they put a row of buildings between them and the mysterious
fire. Knight drove back into the street as soon as it was clear, began to zigzag
to the spot where he estimated the man with the chute had landed. The Q-agent bore
nearly all the way down on the accelerator pedal.
"Am I clear screwy - or is all this really happenin'?" Doyle said shakily.
"It's real enough," Knight said in a grim voice. "That blue fire - it must have
a tremendous force. It ate through that brick wall as though it had been paper."
"I'm thinkin' of that sound," mumbled Doyle. "I thought I'd heard terrible sounds
- I heard a man caught in a flamer once. But this -"
"I know," said Knight. "There was something ungodly about it - but it couldn't
have been human."
"Where did it come from ?" insisted Doyle. "You think maybe it was from that
ball of fire before it popped through th' clouds?"
"No, or it would have kept on until it hit." Knight put on the brakes with a
jerk. "There's somebody running over there - must be about where that fellow landed!"
They swung into the other street, saw a small crowd gathering near the collapsed
parachute. As Knight stopped the cab close by, he saw men and women backing away
with horrified faces from a crumpled form on the ground.
Doyle and he jumped out, pushed through the awe-stricken group. The lights of
the taxi threw a bright glow across the curbing. Knight bent over, then a shiver
ran up his spine, making his body icy cold with a subconscious fear of the unknown.
Piercing, nerve-racking cacophony! Then scorching blue flame blasted out of the
calm, evening sky - directly into the heart of Washington! Yet despite the horror
of that holocaust, Air Agent Richard Knight could not believe that this fearsome
scourge was to be the end. Rather, it was but the beginning - the prophetic prelude
to some drama even more appalling. It was the ghastly, huddled form of a wretched
Air Corps pilot that told him that - and the merciless trigger-finger of a masked
man that proved it!
Lying face up was the body of an Army Air Corps captain. His right arm was twisted
grotesquely across his breast, where all but fragments of his uniform coat had been
burned away. But it was the man's face that brought a sick feeling to Knight's stomach.
It was a hideous reddish-purple, and his lips were drawn back fixedly in a terrible
"Good Lord!" Doyle whispered.
One of the men in the crowd touched Knight's arm. "It's worse than that, mister.
Move his hand - I put it there so these women wouldn't see."
Knight felt a creeping at his scalp at the man's tone. He reached down, gripped
the dead captain's sleeve. The cloth tore as though rotted, but the pilot's arm
shifted. With a muttered oath, Knight jumped back.
A ghastly hole more than two inches in diameter had been burned clear through
the man's body. The edges were bloodless, cauterized by whatever had made that frightful
wound. Hurriedly Knight pulled some of the tangled parachute over the body, but
not before he saw that it was the same awful color as the face.
"Help me get him into the rear of the cab," he said huskily to Doyle.
The Irishman shuddered. "Why not leave the poor devil there until the coroner
"G-2 ought to know about it first," Knight said in an undertone. "Hurry up -
before this crowd gets any bigger."
No one made a move to stop them as they lifted the shrouded figure into the car,
but before Knight could hike the wheel again a man pushed through the staring group.
"Who are you guys? It's against the law to move a corpse until the police have
"We're from the F.B.I.," Knight said tersely. "Smith, show him your shield."
As Doyle fumbled inside his coat, Knight climbed into the front seat. He meshed
the gears quickly, and Doyle sprang onto the running-board before anyone could stop
him. The angry shouts of the man who had tried to stop them soon faded away.
"Where to?" Doyle said thickly.
''We'll take him to the Munitions Building dispensary. There's nobody there at
night, but with our G-2 credentials we can get a guard to let us in."
"I'd give a hundred dollars for a stiff drink," said Doyle. "Did you feel his
body ... ?"
"The heat, you mean? Yes, I expected that after I saw that hole, and the color
of his flesh. His blood must've been raised to a tremendous temperature."
"Don't talk about it," whispered the Irishman. "A little more, and I'm goin'
to be sick."
Knight stepped on the gas. As they turned into Nineteenth Street he looked up
toward the Avenue, saw that the bluish glow had faded from the sky, but that angry-looking
flames were rolling up into the night. Evidently the apartment house had quickly
When they approached the guard's box between the Navy Department and the Munitions
Building, several men were visible at the nearest entrance to the Army building,
and then Knight saw there were lights blazing on the third floor.
"Looks like the whole Air Corps is working tonight," he told Doyle. "Some of
those men must've been up to look at the fire. While I talk with the guard, see
if you can find some one you know and have him flash word to General Brett to come
He had hardly stopped at the guard-box when Doyle came running back with an officer
in civilian clothes at his heels, Knight recognized Major Scott, aide to the Chief
of Air Corps. Scott had been one of his closest friends before the months when he
had become a fugitive on charges of murder and treason, which had been faked by
the Four Faces.
"Dick Knight!" exclaimed Scott. He thrust out his hand eagerly. "Thank Heaven
you're back with us, and that wretched business is cleared up. Doyle will tell you
I always said it was bunk."
"Thanks Scotty," Knight answered. Then his brief smile faded. "We've run into
something pretty bad, or has Doyle told you?"
"No, he didn't have time," said Scott. "I just told him that General Brett's
looking for the two of you. They called my house, thought you might be there. That
was half an hour ago - I just got here when I heard a crash and saw that blue fire
up near the Avenue."
"You didn't hear anything before the crash?" interrupted Knight.
"No. Why - what was it?"
"I'll explain later. Ask General Brett and the Chief of Air Corps to come down
to the dispensary. We've something to show them - and I don't think they'd want
it up there."
Scott, mystified, hurried back to the entrance. Knight identified himself to
the guard, and the man phoned to the guard-office for some one to unlock the side-entrance
to the Army dispensary section. Knight drove in between the two buildings, stopped
the taxi, and in a few moments a door opened. The interior guard stared as they
carried in the covered figure, with the parachute shrouds trailing behind. They
had barely laid the dead captain on a wheeled table in the dispensary when General
John Brett, the kindly old Chief of Intelligence, strode into the room with General
Gleason, the Air Corps head, beside him, and Major Scott bringing up the rear.
"Dick; what's wrong?" exclaimed General Brett. "Major Scott said you and Doyle
-" he stopped abruptly as he saw the outline of a body under the folds of silk.
"It's not pleasant to look at," Knight said grimly. He pulled back the covering.
There was a horrified chorus, and the guard turned and staggered out of the room.
General Brett, after a sickened glance, turned, deathly pale. Then he faced the
Chief of Air Corps, and asked:
"The others - they were like this?"
"The two I saw - yes," Gleason said in an unsteady voice. "Knight, where did
you find this body?"
The Q-Agent was staring at him, as was Doyle. "
Over on Twenty-third Street, a few minutes ago. But do you mean this has happened
"Even worse," Gleason said dully. "An entire squadron -"
"Wait," General Brett interrupted. "I want to know about this pilot. Exactly
how did you find him, Dick? And how did it happen?"
"It's a fantastic business," said Knight. "You'd better hear all of it."
As briefly as he could, he described the uncanny sound which had preceded the
mysterious ball of blue fire, and what had followed. The two Staff officers looked
at him blankly.
"You're sure about the sound?" demanded Gleason. "You'll find plenty of others
who heard it," said Knight.
"That's the only part that's different," muttered General Brett .. "We might
as well tell you now - you, too, Major Scott. An entire squadron of the First Pursuit
Group, ordered for emergency duty to the Panama Canal Zone during this threat of
war in Europe, was destroyed this afternoon!"
Clue in the Clippings
For a moment no one spoke.
Then Knight motioned toward the covered figure. "Like - this?"
"Most of the pilots were cremated," Gleason said in a dead voice. "All but two
of the ships burned - and it was no ordinary fire. There were only two or three
eye-witnesses - it happened over a sparsely settled area in Ohio. But they agree
that the ships were like masses of blue fire when they dropped out of the clouds.
The two that didn't burn were almost completely demolished. Both pilots were killed,
and both looked like that unfortunate chap on the table."
"Both had holes through their bodies?" queried Knight.
"One was almost decapitated," said Gleason with a grimace. "The other had a diagonal
hole from his back down to left leg. The bodies were the same color."
"How did you keep all this out of the papers?" Knight asked.
"It was a lucky break," said the Air Corps chief. "One of the witnesses was a
National Guard sergeant. He phoned McCook Field, and they rushed some men down there
to help the National Guard close off that area. There's only one road leading near
the scene of the crashes, and . that's been blocked with an excuse that a bridge
was washed out. By morning we'll have the craters filled in, where the burning ships
struck, and the two bodies will be taken away. I flew out there as soon as I got
the flash, and arranged to cover everything as much as possible."
"You can't cover up the fact that a squadron's missing," Knight pointed out.
"No, but we can hide the true story and make it seem the ships were lost off
the coast, somewhere en route to Panama. If the truth comes out, it will spread
panic through the entire Air Corps."
Knight glanced at Doyle. "Then that ball of fire we saw must have been the ship
this pilot was flying."
"Must not have been much left but th' motor," said the Irishman. He looked toward
the shrouded body. "If we had an idea who th' poor fellow was -"
"I think I know," Major Scott said in a shaken voice. "His face - I hardly recognized
it in that horrible condition - maybe I'm wrong, but I think it's Captain Lanham."
Knight started. "Wasn't Lanham the pilot of that O-47 reported missing a few
Scott nodded. "The ship hasn't been found. Lanham was on a routine flight from
Wright Field to Washington. The course has been covered by searching planes, but
he may not have followed a direct route. There were some local storms that day."
"At least, this gives us something to go on," said Knight.
"I see what you mean," said General Brett. "Let's get back upstairs and work
it out on the big map."
Major Scott opened the door, jumped back with a startled cry. A crouching figure
sprang erect, a black mask covering his face. The light glinted on the barrel of
an automatic as he swiftly stepped inside.
"Keep still and don't move!" he said in a guttural voice. Through the eye-slits
of the mask, his gaze twitched around the little group, rested for an instant on
the silken folds covering the dead man. His eyes flicked back to Knight.
"Where is the drawing?" he said harshly.
"Drawing?" mumbled Knight. "I don't know what 'you're talking about."
"So?" grated the masked man. He jerked his gun with a peremptory motion. "Get
back, you four. Now, my smart friend, lift up that parachute."
Knight saw Doyle tense for a leap, as the three officers obeyed the curt command.
"Don't try anything, Lothario!" he said hastily. "We haven't a chance."
The intruder laughed shortly. "A clever deduction, Herr Knight." Then, as though
regretting the words, he snapped, "Lift the parachute, and be quick!"
Knight grasped a fold of silk, raised it with fumbling hands. The masked man's
breath drew in sharply when he saw the dead man. He took a step nearer, his eyes
darting toward the charred fragments of cloth that clung to the body. In a flash,
Knight hurled the uplifted chute over the man's head.
Flame jetted instantly through the white folds, and a bullet shattered the window
back of Knight. He threw himself down behind the wheeled table, clawing at the .38
in his armpit holster.
With a frantic jump, the masked man threw off the billowing silk. And Doyle,
diving in to tackle him, was suddenly covered by the falling chute. As he sprawled,
cursing, Scott leaped over him at the intruder.
Two shots rang through the room, as Knight tried to block the other man's fire.
The masked man tottered back with a groan. He made a desperate effort to lift his
gun again, then turned and lunged through the doorway. Knight ran after him, his
.38 lifted. But it was not needed.
A few yards outside the door, the masked man crumpled to the floor. His gun clattered
against the wall as it slid from his hand. As Knight hurriedly knelt beside him,
an Air Corps colonel came hurriedly down the steps from the upper floor.
"What the devil!" the colonel roared. "Drop that gun!"
Knight looked up, recognized the arrogant face of Colonel Jackson Mapes, who
had been one of his most violent accusers in the past months.
"So you're at it again!" shouted Mapes. "Help! Get the guard somebody -" he gulped
as he saw Brett and Gleason appear from the dispensary and glower up at him.
"Keep your shirt on, Mapes," Gleason said tartly. "Knight has just nabbed a foreign
Knight turned the masked man over, listened for a heartbeat. "Dead," he muttered.
"Too bad - we might have learned everything." He took off the mask, saw a square-jawed
face, with heavy brows meeting across the bridge of the nose.
"Anybody know him?" he said. The two Staff officers shook their heads. Knight
stood up suddenly, as Doyle appeared in the doorway. There was blood on the Irishman's
"Lothario!" he exclaimed. "I didn't know you got hit."
"Not me," said Doyle. "It's Scotty. He got nicked in the shoulder. I fixed a
pad to stop it from bleeding, but he'd better get to a hospital."
Gleason beckoned to one of the Air Corps officers who had followed Mapes downstairs
on hearing the shots. "Captain, take care of Scott. Get him to Emergency Hospital
- and keep quiet about this. Refer any police inquiries to the War Department."
Knight looked anxiously at Scott, as he went by with the captain.
"Sorry, old man, I wasn't quick enough on the trigger."
"If I'd have kept clear, you'd have handled it," Scott said with a weak smile.
They went on up the hall. Knight was starting to search the dead spy when the captain
gave a shout.
"General Gleason! There are two men up here - dead or knocked out!"
Knight was the first one to reach the spot. The blue-uniformed guard who had
opened the door to the dispensary lay at the intersection of the corridor and the
main hall at the front of the building. There was a gash at one side of his head.
The other man was younger, with small, almost delicate features. He was clad in
expensive tweeds. A bruise on his left jaw, now perceptibly swelling, showed how
he had been downed.
"It's the Austrian-Count Max Lieder!" said Gleason.
"He must have learned something important, or they wouldn't have gone after him
Brett made a hasty examination of the guard, as the Austrian began to stir. By
the time he had finished, a dozen officers and several of the night guard force
were gathered around.
"Two of you take this man," ordered Brett. "Get him to the hospital along with
Major Scott. Captain-of-the-guard, turn on all lights and search the building. Don't
let anyone out without a signed pass from me."
The guards scattered, and the two wounded men were taken away. Knight looked
at the Austrian, shot an inquiring glance at General Brett.
"Count Lieder's been helping us - undercover, you understand," said the Intelligence
chief. "He was the Austrian air attache before Hitler absorbed Austria. That left
Lieder as a man without a country. He hates the Nazis like poison - they seized
his home and put his brother in a concentration camp. So he's been working with
us secretly, mainly on the spy activities near the Canal and in South America."
Lieder's dark eyes had opened by the time Brett finished. He looked up dazedly
a moment, then groggily got to his feet with Brett's aid.
"The man with the mask!" he said hoarsely. "I tried to stop him - he had struck
down a guard -"
"He's been taken care of," Brett said grimly.
Lieder felt his jaw, winced. "I was hurrying with important information -" he
stopped, looked uncertainly at the Q-Agent and Doyle.
"You can talk in front of them," said the Intelligence general. "This is Mr.
Knight and Mr. Doyle."
Lieder managed a shaky bow.
"There's a scheme - I couldn't get the details - to destroy the pursuit ships
you're sending to Panama," he began.
"You're too late," Gleason said morosely.
"Just a second," cut in Knight. "Count Lieder, where did you hear this - and
exactly what did you learn ?"
The Austrian eyed him with a faint resentment.
"I have already explained my sources to these officers. As to the plan, my informant
thought there would be an 'accidental' fire at one of their refueling stops."
"No help there, Dick," Brett said gloomily. "As to the Count's sources, he circulates
in diplomatic circles and has 'pipe lines' into two or three embassies."
"Perhaps he can identify our guest back there," said Knight. He led the way along
the corridor. Halfway to the body of the dead spy, he saw some one kneeling to search
the man's pockets. He broke into a run, with the others close behind. Then he saw
that it was Colonel Mapes.
"I thought I'd see what I could find," Mapes told General Brett, with a sour
look at Knight.
"Well?" said Brett.
"I didn't find anything - except this wallet containing some clippings. I was
just going to look at them -" Brett took the clippings, held them under the light.
Knight glanced rapidly over the first item:
Semmet, W. Va., August 21 - For 'hree nights, inhabitants of this mountain village
have been puzzled by a mysterious screeching sound occurring near midnight and lasting
for several minutes. Though it apparently came from the nearby Alleghenies, attempts
to trace the source were fruitless. A peculiar effect of the phenomenon is that
radio reception is impossible while the weird sound continues.
General Brett stared at Knight, then picked up the next clipping. It read:
Marietta, Ohio, August 23 - A mysterious fire of unknown origin completely destroyed
a barge on the Ohio River near here last night. The barge was cut loose by its tow-boat
shortly before the fire occurred, and ownership has not yet been established. Flames
were described as having an odd bluish tinge, and it is thought an inflammable cargo
was being carried. Department of Commerce inspectors are investigating.
The third clipping had a dateline of August 26, and the item was from Semmet.
A rock slide at the top of Little Baldy Mountain, ten miles from Semmet, is believed
to explain the peculiar sounds heard in this vicinity last week. Several fault-lines
have been discovered, evidently from an earthquake centuries past. State geologists
report an unusual condition in two or three spots as though the stone had been fused
by extreme heat at some time in the past.
Knight looked back thoughtfully at the other clippings. "How soon can Doyle and
I get an A-18, with guns mounted?" he asked General Brett.
"Inside of forty minutes," said the Intelligence chief. "But you can't land near
Semmet - the nearest field big enough is Moundsville."
"That's good enough," said Knight. He turned to the Austrian. "Count Lieder,
have you ever seen this man before?"
Lieder had been gazing at the dead man's face. He slowly nodded. "I think he
is the one I saw with Hugo Briehm, a German believed to be active in espionage in
"If he was with Briehm, then this is some foul spy game," said Brett. "Dick,
I'll order that ship made ready."
He went into the dispensary office. General Gleason turned to the Q-Agent.
"Knight, I haven't had a chance to congratulate you on your re-instatement. Brett
told me the truth some weeks ago, and I'm glad to know that it was all cleared up."
"Thank you, General," Knight answered. He smiled drily as Colonel Mapes turned
to Lieder, ignoring him. "Count, I've something up in my office that will help your
jaw. Come on up."
The two men disappeared up the stairway. In a moment General Brett came back.
"The ship will be ready by the time you get there. And I'll send a flash to Moundsville
for you to have any help you need."
"One other thing," said Knight. "If you can get some action at the Department
of Commerce on that barge business it might give us a quick lead. With war likely
in Europe, I imagine most of the Departments are keeping late hours tonight."
"I'll get the facts if they've found anything," .Brett, assured him. "Anything
"Whatever you learn, put it in our old Q-code. We'll keep tuned in on Number
Two wavelength. And I guess we'd better have a War Department car to Bolling Field
- we commandeered a taxi to get here, and the police are probably looking for it."
"You can have my car," offered General Gleason.
Knight thanked him. As they were starting up the corridor, he looked back and
saw the exposed body of the dead Air Corps captain. Brett caught the glance, and
his, face clouded.
"I hate to be sending you and Doyle on such a mission, Dick."
"You're not sending us," said Knight. "It's the fiend back of that hellish business."
The clock in the front pit of the A-18 showed four minutes past ten. Knight switched
the radio to catch the Uniontown beacon, checked the course, and started a gradual
descent toward Moundsville. The Alleghenies, or the worst of them, lay behind in
the blackness. A faint mist was still falling, but occasionally through the gloom
he could see scattered lights as the attack ship roared above a break in the clouds.
He set the radio back on the special wavelength he had mentioned to General Brett.
"How much longer?" Doyle said from the rear pit.
"Twenty minutes or so," answered Knight.
"I've been thinkin' about that bird with th'
clippings," announced the Irishman. "What'd he mean when he asked you where was
"I've been wondering about that, too," said Knight. "However Captain Lanham got
tangled up in it, he must've had some information the spies needed-or wanted to
"I'll sure be glad to get back on terra firma," said Doyle. "I don't mind tellin'
you I've got a permanent case of gooseflesh, thinkin' about Lanham."
Knight was silent, for no words could dispel the horror he, too, felt when he
thought of the unfortunate captain. He forced his attention to the controls and
the instrument board. The ship was down to four thousand feet, about to settle into
the lower layer of clouds, when from the corner of his eye he caught a sudden flicker
- a dot of bright green flashing swiftly in the darkness to his right. For a second
he thought it was the winglight of another ship pas-ing in the opposite direction.
Then he saw that the green light was rapidly closing in toward the A-18.
With a jerk at the stick, he pulled the two-seater into a sudden chandelle, opening
the throttle almost to full manifold pressure. Four streaks of tracer flamed under
the wings, missing the ship by inches. Knight heard Doyle let out a bellow of rage
and whirl to the rear-pit guns. He hastily charged his four Brownings, ripped out
a warming-up burst. Something, little more than a blur, whipped past on the left,
and another blast of tracer sparkled through the misty night.
Doyle's guns cut loose with a furious clatter, and the red lines of tracer swerved
sharply. Knight's hand flicked to the landing-light switch. As the beam drilled
the darkness, a black wing shimmered wetly in the glow. With amazement he recognized
the sleek lines of the black ship.
It was a German Messerschmitt fighter!
"What th' hell!" bawled Doyle. "Have we hopped th" Atlantic?"
The black ship whipped up and around for a swift attack. Knight whirled the two-seater
in a furious turn, pressed the top stick button. The four Brownings responded with
a thunderous chant, and he saw black dural fly from the Nazi ship's wings. As the
pilot zoomed clear, Knight saw that the Messerschmitt was devoid of insignia - a
pirate of the airlanes.
A sudden pounding at the tail of the A-18 made him renverse hurriedly. Another
black Messerschmitt shot by, twisted back for another attack. For an instant, tracers
blazed from two directions, crisscrossing to catch the American ship. Knight snapped
off all lights, jerked the stick to his belt. The tracers faded below, and he saw
the pinpoints of green reappear, as the Messerschmitt pilots took, quick precautions
to avoid collision in the darkness.
"Try to get the one on the left!" he shouted back at Doyle. He nosed down, aimed
the hurtling attack ship at the other spot of green light. Just as he tripped the
Brownings, both Nazi ships whirled, swiftly spreading apart. The flare of his exhaust
stacks had betrayed him in the dive.
Doyle's tracers flickered out at the nearest ship. Knight pulled out of the dive,
flung a blast at the other green light. It vanished, and he thought he had scored.
But in another second a fusillade from the gloom told him he had missed. He swore
through grim-set teeth. The exhaust flares of the Messerschmitts were shielded,
but it was obvious the pilots of the black ships could see the attack ship's exhaust.
He switched on the wing-lights for a split-second, saw one of the black fighters
twisting in at his left. He tripped his Brownings, drove a furious burst into the
tail of the Messerschmitt. The second black ship was hurtling down, guns blazing.
Knight snapped off the lights, poured another hot blast into the first fighter as
the darkness swallowed it up.
A lurid glow sprang up before him, then flame and wildly billowing smoke swept
back from the Messerschmitt's cowl. The second ship plunged in madly, and a hail
of bullets tore through the enclosure above the A-18's cockpits. Doyle whirled his
guns, crashed a savage answer, and the diving fighter zoomed.
By now the stricken ship was blazing fiercely. Knight could dimly see the pilot
through the flames, as the man fought to slide back the cockpit cover. For a second
more the pilot beat at the latch, then he slumped forward and the black ship went
streaking down like a vast torch hurled from the heavens.
Knight curved off sharply, giving Doyle a chance to fire as the other fighter
charged back. The twin-fifties roared, and the lightning tracers leaped the gap,
tore through the black ship's wings. The Messerschmitt yawed crazily, and something
flashed off into space, bright in the glare of the falling flamer.
"I got his prop!" Doyle yelled exultantly.
The black ship nosed down. Knight turned on his wing-lights, saw the pilot preparing
to bail out. He stabbed a burst past the Messerschmitt's right wing. The pilot ruddered
hastily. Knight fired past the left wing, flickered his lights. The pilot twisted
around, stared back, his face white in the glow. One hand went into the air in token
"What're you tryin' to do?" yelled Doyle.
"Force him down at Moundsville, if possible. Be ready to herd him back if he
suddenly turns. out."
The lights of Moundsville appeared ahead, through broken clouds. Knight edged
the attack ship closer to the black fighter, until his lights flooded it completely.
The pilot was huddled over the controls, staring down into the darkness. As the
Messerschmitt settled into the cloud layer he started a hasty turn, but a burst
past his wing sent him back onto the course.
With the attack ship's prop not forty feet from the Messerschmitt's tail, Knight
grimly followed the black plane down. The pilot looked back desperately into the
glowing lights, waved both hands above his head. Knight pulled up, circled as the
black ship swung into the wind. He landed close behind it, spotting the ground for
the two ships as they rolled to-ward the line.
There was a Stinson on the line, and beyond it two or three cars near the field
office. As the Messerschmitt came to a stop three men jumped from one car and ran
toward it. Knight braked the A-18, threw open the cockpit enclosure and jumped dawn,
leaving Doyle to. switch off the motor.
The pilot of the black ship had also jumped to the ground, one hand thrust inside
his flying-suit. Knight's gun was out before the other man could draw.
"Get your hands up!" he snapped. "Handen hoch - in case you don't understand
Sullenly, ;the man lifted his hands. The three men who. had been waiting in the
car stared blankly at Knight. "Say, what is this?" demanded one of them.
"Who are you?" Knight said crisply .
"Lieutenant Hanlan, Air Corps Reserve," said the man. "General Brett called me
long-distance, said to get out here and meet your ship and have a couple of other
Reserve officers here in case you wanted help."
"Good," said Knight. He looked toward the road, saw two or three cars approaching.
"They must've heard your guns," exclaimed Hanlan. "Or else they saw your lights
"I don't want any crowd here," Knight said quickly. "Block the entrance to the
field with one of those cars. Tell them it was only a mock battle - Air Corps night
maneuver - anything to get them away from here. We'll be inside the office with
"Right," said Hanlan. He sent one of his companions hurrying toward the first
"If anybody asks about that black ship, tell him it's a special Air Corps fighter,
under test," added Knight. He waited until Doyle had climbed down, then prodded
the Messerschmitt pilot with the .38.
"Put your hands down," he said in German. "But don't try any smart tricks, mein
The pilot's pale face twitched, but he made no answer.
"Lothario, see if you can find anything important in that ship," Knight told
the Irishman. "I'll take our alien visitor inside."
There was only one man in the office. He stood in the doorway, looking out at
the two ships. When he saw Knight covering the German pilot with his gun, his jaw
"I'm from the War Department, special Intelligence duty," rapped the Q-Agent.
"This man is an important prisoner. I want to. talk with him privately.
"You can have this room," stammered the man, painting to an inner office.
"Thanks. Not a word of this to anyone aver the phone, understand. You might go
out and help Lieutenant Hanlan - he'll explain what I want."
The airport man, still gaping at the prisoner, went outside, and Knight motioned
the German into the other room. In the light, the pilot proved to. be a man about
thirty, with a thin, somewhat bony face, and hard blue eyes.
"Face the wall," Knight ordered. He ran his left hand over the man's belt, under
his arms, then removed a Luger from a shoulder-harness under his coat. As the captive
turned around, there was a cool sneer on his face. He spoke:
"Very well, Herr Offizier. Now you can send for your police."
"I'll handle this without any police," Knight said calmly. "I've no doubt you've
a vice-consul somewhere who'd pop up to explain you pulled a Corrigan and got over
here thinking it was Poland."
The prisoner scowled. "I am not amused, Amerikaner.
"And you're going to be less so, unless you talk fast," snapped Knight. "Where
have those two Messerschmitts been hidden?"
"I have nothing to say," retorted the German.
"How did you know that two-seater was going to be landing here?" demanded the
The other man made no answer. Knight studied the pilot's face, met the cold,
unwavering stare of the hard, blue eyes. The silence was interrupted by Doyle's
"Not a damn thing in his cockpit that'll help us," said the Irishman. They've
punched out the numbers on the instruments, and all the German words are gone off
th' board. But I couldn't even spot a map."
"Never mind. This Messerschmitt skyman will help us out."
"If you need a persuader, I've got a good one," growled Doyle. He doubled a huge
"Keep your filthy hands away from me, Humd!" said the pilot fiercely.
"Ah, so you understand English after all," said Knight. "Suppose we get down
to facts. You're a foreign military pilot in this country without authority. And
you're due for a long, long term in prison - unless you help us out."
"I have told you that I have nothing to say," rasped the pilot.
Knight straightened suddenly from where he had been leaning against the desk.
"Talk, and talk fast! Who's the bloody cutthroat back of that blue fire business?"
"I don't know what you mean!" blustered the German.
"You're facing a murder charge," grated Knight. "You had a hand in killing Captain
Lanham and the rest of those Army pilots!"
The pilot set his lips hard, but his face whitened.
"Let me work on him, the rat!" snarled Doyle.
"No, I've a better way." Knight stepped to the window, stared out. He saw that
a fair-sized crowd had gathered where Hanlon and his two men were blocking the entrance.
He turned back grimly. "Mein Herr, did you ever hear of the American word 'lynching'?"
The German started. Knight's eyes bored into him.
"If I tell that crowd about those dead pilots - and let them know who you are
- they'll string you up in five minutes!"
"You wouldn't dare!" flamed the German. "I demand to be arrested according to
"Listen, squarehead!" Knight caused his eyes to blaze. "It wouldn't take much
to get them worked up - and by Heaven, I'll let them hang you, if you don't talk!"
Sweat was running down the pilot's face. "But I know nothing!" he groaned.
Knight whirled to Doyle. "Get out there and tell that mob the whole story."
"It'll be a pleasure," said Doyle. He started for the door.
"Wait," moaned the German. "I will tell you."
"All right," said Knight coldly. "But the first hint of a lie, and the mob gets
He had no intention of turning the man over to the crowd, but he kept up the
pretense of grim readiness as the pilot started to talk.
"What you call the blue fire - I did not take part in that," the German mumbled.
"I was sent only for the protection -"
"How did you get those ships into America?" demanded Knight.
The pilot's eyes shifted helplessly from the Q-Agent to Doyle, and back.
"We came by catapult ship, near to your coast, in the night. I did not want to
come - but my orders-"
"Never mind the alibis," snapped Knight. "Where is your base?"
"They will kill me if I tell," groaned the captive.
Knight stepped toward the open window as though to shout to the crowd.
"Nein! Du Lieber Gott - don't call them," gasped
the pilot. "The planes fly from the private field - it is up the River Ohio and
to the west in the county called Belmont. The Amerikaner who owned it -"
The German stopped, went rigid, and in the same moment Knight heard a faint high-pitched
moaning sound from somewhere outside the building.
"Gott im Himmel!" the prisoner cried wildly. "They are going to kill me!"
He made a frenzied leap for the door. Knight sprang after him, with Doyle racing
at his heels. The moaning sound grew swiftly into a deafening screech. Just as the
prisoner plunged out of the office, a brief flash of bluish light illuminated the
field. Dimly through that unholy screech, Knight could hear the screams of the crowd.
With a roar and a blast of blue flame, the Messerschmitt fighter blew up. Knight
threw himself flat to escape any hurtling fragments. Something hit the building
behind him. He turned hastily on his elbow.
"Lothario, are you all right?" Doyle was scrambling to his feet.
"I'm okay - but that devil of a prisoner is gettin' away from us."
Knight jumped up, tried to spot the fleeing German, but the flames dazzled his
eyes. Somewhere beyond the glare, an engine thundered into life, audible as the
screeching sound decreased.
"He's grabbed that Stinson job!" howled Doyle.
They dashed around the shattered Messerschmitt, forced into a wide detour by
the terrific heat. Suddenly the ungodly screech came again, and through the billowing
smoke a tiny bluish streak shot to the ground. So swift the eye could not keep pace,
it whipped across the roof of the office. There was a muffled grinding sound. Then
the roof burst wide open, and in a split-second the entire structure was a mass
of blue fire.
The Blue Ray
For an instant, amazement held Knight speechless. That tiny streak had been no
wider than a thread - but it had cut through the airport office like a gigantic
As the deadly blue streak flashed back across the corner of the field, he snatched
at Doyle's arm.
"Get to the ship before it's too late !"
With a withering heat beating at their backs, they fled to the A-18. The Stinson
was already half-way down the field, and the panic-stricken crowd was fleeing.
As Knight tumbled into the front pit of the attack ship, the thread of blue flame
swerved toward them. For a second he thought they were doomed, but the dazzling
streak jerked sidewise at the cars of the terrified crowd. Two of them instantly
burst into flames, and a pall of acrid smoke swept over the field. Knight had switched.
on the starter, released the brake-lock. The A-18 pivoted madly on one wheel, plunged
through the smoke clouds. Gasping for breath, Knight ruddered into the wind, threw
the throttle full open.
The ship leaped frantically ahead, roared through another billow of smoke. As
it emerged, he saw the Stinson taking off. The wheels were hardly off the ground
before the German pilot started to bank. Wingtip almost scraping the runway, the
Stinson pulled up and away from the flaming chaos behind. Knight sent the two-seater
roaring after it, flung a tense look back.
The thread of blue fire had vanished, leaving an inferno behind. When he turned
back to the controls, he saw the Stinson zigzagging wildly, though the A-18 was
not in close range. He banked away, swooped down toward the surface of the Ohio
River, leveling out near the shore and just above the water.
"If you see that blue ray, yell!" he threw over his shoulder at Doyle.
"I think they lost us in that smoke," Doyle said hoarsely.
"Did you see where it came from?" Knight exclaimed.
"Not a chance," returned Doyle.
"Anyway, all I was thinkin' of was gettin' away from there."
Knight held the thundering motor wide open for a minute longer, then set the
ship at cruising speed and climbed up into the mists. Behind them, the glare from
the field showed dully through the murk. Doyle leaned forward under the cockpit
enclosure, his homely face still pale.
"We'd better tip off Brett, now we got a lead on th' devils."
"Not yet," said Knight. "I want to be sure we're not going to be hit by that
ray or whatever it is."
He waited until the last vestige of the inferno had faded, then switched on the
"Q to B ... Q to B," he called into the mike, then switched on the receiver.
There was a pause, and he was about to call again when the answer came:
"B to Q. I've been calling you.. No word yet on the barge -"
"Forget that," Knight said crisply. "We've run into something big. We were attacked
by two black Messerschmitts near Uniontown. Shot one down, forced the other to land
at Moundsville. A mysterious blue ray destroyed the Messerschmitt and the airport
office, but we forced the pilot to -"
Knight dropped the mike, whirled the ship into a furious renversement. Less than
three hundred yards away, a thread of blue fire was probing wildly around through
the mist. As the. A-18 twisted away, the weird thread of fire made another frantic
circle, then slashed back through the gloom.
"They caught that flash to Brett!" yelped Doyle. "They must've got a bearing
Knight hauled the ship into a tight climb. A cold chill had settled around his
heart, but he grimly fought down the temptation to dive and race far away from that
danger area. Somewhere up there was the answer.
"Turn on the receiver," he said, stiff-lipped, to Doyle.
A telltale light flickered on the special set as Doyle obeyed, then a furious
roar came through the amplifier. Before Doyle could throw the switch, the light
"Hell's bells!" he ejaculated. "The tubes are burned out!"
Knight closed the throttle for a moment. For the third time that night, a terrible
un-human screech rang in his ears. It diminished in volume almost instantly, and
the next second the deadly line of blue fire shot in diagonally and crossed their
path. Knight dived headlong, opened the throttle and pulled the ship up and around
in an Immelmann.
The blue streak had again disappeared. Suddenly Knight saw it off to the right,
but now it had changed in appearance. The blue ray was no longer a thread of blinding
fire, but was now thicker and shortened - like a straight bolt of lightning out
of the night. Something hurtled madly to one side, and by the glare of that dazzling
blue ray he saw the Stinson.
Then the German pilot flashed on his lights, blinked them with a frenzied speed.
The blue ray flicked aside - just in time. The Stinson's wing-surfaces had started
to smoke, though the ray was more than sixty feet away.
The Stinson's lights flashed something in code which Knight could not read, then
it turned and dived into the gloom. Cautiously, as the ray thinned and then went
out, Knight climbed above the space where the blue streak had seemed to begin. His
heart was pounding, his hands cold on the stick.
"Be ready with your guns," he told Doyle in a grim voice.
"As scared as I am, I couldn't hit the side of a barn," Doyle answered.
"I'm going to try one quick flash of the lights - and dive at full gun before
they can hit us," said Knight.
"Goodbye, old World," moaned Doyle.
Knight's hand was on the wing-light toggle when out of the gloom he caught a
faint gleam. It was light of ordinary color, divided into rectangles side by side,
and suddenly he knew what it was. The door from a ship's cockpit to the cabin had
been opened, sending that brief glow out through the sections of glass that formed
He threw the A-18 into a vertical bank, knowing that the other ship had been
headed in the opposite direction and must now have passed underneath. With a clipped
word to Doyle, he snapped on the lights and slid his thumb onto the gun-control
Almost directly ahead and a hundred feet below, the massive shape of a huge four-engined
ship was at once revealed. Black as the Messerschmitts had been, it was not a European
plane. He recognized the trim streamlines of a Boeing S-307 stratosphere ship. Projecting
from an odd-looking turret in the top of the cabin was what appeared to be an anti-aircraft
gun with a ribbed outer-casing. The weapon was pointed off to the starboard side,
muzzle deflected, and in the glass turret enclosing the breech Knight had a hasty
glimpse of a man with a weird helmet like a welder's hood.
As that fantastic picture loomed in the lights, Knight jabbed his thumb on the
master-button. The Brownings blazed and four streams of tracer lanced down at the
huge black ship. The Boeing twisted into a hasty turn, and the hooded figure in
the turret wildly swung his weapon. Knight crashed a last burst at the turret and
hurled the two-seater into a furious dive. As the ship shrieked down into the mists,
he threw a look over his shoulder. The thickened ray reappeared, changed magically
to a deadly blue thread and flicked down, searching the gloom.
Knight pulled up as the altimeter hand dropped to a thousand feet. The ray was
lost in the clouds, and mist, but he knew the big Boeing was probably roaring down
after them. He leveled out at eight hundred, for a quick race from the danger zone.
But the two-seater had covered less than a mile when a red neon-searchlight flared
up and caught the ship's wings. Knight twisted out of the beam with a quick turn,
then sat up with a jerk.
Streaking up that beam, the red light masking its tracers, was another black
A hail of bullets tore through the leading edge of the A-18's right wing. Knight
booted the rudder, raked the tail of the black fighter as they roared past. Doyle's
guns snarled out still another blast, but a sudden shift of the neon beam made the
Messerschmitt only a flitting shadow beyond the cherry-red glow.
Knight whirled back, pumped a fusillade through the red beam, hoping to hit the
now almost invisible fighter. The Messerschmitt zoomed, lost itself in the shadows.
As Knight skidded out of the neon-beam, the twin-radial skipped a beat, broke into
a ragged thunder. Knight instantly began a climb, to gain altitude before the air
speed was too slow.
"Slide open the greenhouse," he shouted back at Doyle. "Be ready to jump."
"If you're stickin' with her, so am I," yelled Doyle.
"I'll jump right after you," answered Knight. "We'd probably get smashed up trying
to land - and I want to make those devils think we're finished."
The revs were dropping swiftly, and so was the oil pressure. Knight shot a look
at the altimeter.
"Two thousand," he called back to Doyle. "Try to keep out of that light. "If
I can drop near you, okay - if I don't, get to the nearest town and phone Brett.
I'll do the same."
"Here goes nothin'," shouted Doyle.
He pushed up in the cockpit, tumbled over the side. Knight kicked the tail away,
saw the falling figure swallowed up in the gloom. He banked to draw the neon beam,
which was vainly trying to pierce the higher mists, then unfastened his belt. Pulling
the stick back, he fought his way out of the cockpit, let go as the nose abruptly
dropped. The tail barely missed him as the attack ship plunged off. He waited a
second or two, pulled the ring. The chute opened with a loud plop. He pulled on
the risers, slipped away from the diving plane.
In a few moments he heard the ship crash, then fire spurted up from the wreck.
The dark bulk of a hangar cut off his view as he let go of the risers and braced
himself for the landing. He hit with a jolt, rolled over, and managed to collapse
the chute before he was dragged more than a few feet. Hurriedly unbuckling the harness,
he stole along in the shadow of the hangar.
Suddenly he halted, transfixed.
A quarter of a mile distant, Doyle was struggling with three or four men who
had raced out from the hangar in a car. For an instant Knight stood stunned, unable
to realize how Doyle had made the mistake of slipping his chute toward the neon
light instead of away from it. Then he saw the reason. A black shape swept down
out of the mists, and he recognized the Boeing stratosphere plane. Doyle had evidently
seen the big ship and tilted the chute to keep out of its range, choosing capture
rather than Lanham's horrible fate.
Lying flat on the ground, Knight saw Doyle dragged into the car, which then swung
back to the hangar. The neon beam widened to flood the runway, and Knight saw the
Stinson pivoting around at the line. A Beechcraft was just inside the hangar, with
two men beside it staring out at the Boeing. Painted across the front of the hangar,
above the cantilever door, were the words:
J. D. Newton
The name struck some vague memory .at the back of Knight's mind. In a moment
he had it. J.D. Newton was the famous, and somewhat eccentric, maker of pipe-organs
who had recently brought out a "color organ" which matched each note with a color,
creating exquisite blends for chords and lower clef arrangements. Knight recalled
that Newton had been in trouble with the Civil Aeronautics Authority for driving
off, at gunpoint, a private pilot who had used his field for emergency landing in
But what did the maker of color-organs have to do with this hellish scheme?
Knight watched anxiously as Doyle was hauled out of the car and hustled into
the hangar. Single-handed, he had little chance of saving Lothario from that group.
There were at least a dozen men in sight, and there would be more from the Boeing
in a moment. Common sense dictated that he crawl back into the dark, find his way
to a phone, and summon help. But something told him, with a grim finality, that
it would probably mean the end of Doyle.
He saw the Boeing roll to a stop, swing slowly, ponderously in front of the hangar.
A fuel hose was at once brought out, attached to a refueling platform. As the crew
of the stratosphere ship descended by a portable gangway, the Messerschmitt fighter
which had riddled the A-18 whined down onto the runway. The neon beam dimmed, went
out before the German ship had even stopped rolling.
Knight listened intently as the Messerschmitt's engine went silent. He could
hear voices, but he was too far to catch the words. He got to his feet, took out
his .38, and tiptoed toward the hangar. Reaching the side, he inched his way toward
the front, halted abruptly as he heard a harsh voice.
"You blundering Dumkopf! First you let Lanham escape, and then you let those
two secret agents slip through your fingers."
"But, Mein Herr," protested another voice, "we have one of them - and the other
died in the crash."
"What good is that now?" rasped the first man. And with a frown Knight realized
there was something familiar about that voice. "That business at Moundsville will
bring their Intelligence and police swarming. Some one may report this last fight.
Even if no one does live close by, it could be heard for some miles."
"In this misty weather, no one could tell the direction," said the other German.
"Perhaps not, but we shall take no chances. Order all tanks filled, the motors
checked. We leave here tonight!"
"Ach! You mean the order has come? The war -"
"Will start at dawn, when the bombers cross the Polish frontier," said the man
who seemed to be the leader. "This plane and the device must be safe in the Fatherland
by tomorrow night, in case the British and French are fools enough to keep their
word to Poland."
"It will be ready within an hour, Excellenz! The men will work at top speed,
with such news."
"Have two men take that fire-eating Irishman inside," ordered the leader. "I'll
be in as soon as I talk with Schneider - we will see just how much fire Herr Doyle
can eat, after all."
"Ja, I will have him taken to the house," said the other man.
Knight waited to hear no more, but slipped back and ran silently alongside the
hangar to the rear, beyond which he had seen the bulk of a large brick house. The
house was dark, and hardly distinguishable now in the night. A minute passed, then
Knight's hand closed on the butt of his gun, for above a gruff German voice he heard
an oath in the unmistakable tones of Lothario Doyle.
"One more time you try it, and I crack your skull," growled one of Doyle's captors.
Knight flattened himself against the 'rear of the hangar. Figures emerged around
the other corner, barely visible In the gloom. Knight let them pass on toward the
house, stole after them. One of the guards suddenly turned his head. Before he could
make a sound, Knight's gun was rammed into his back.
"Stille, both of you!" he muttered. "Put your hands up and step away from that
The German he was covering hurriedly lifted his hands, but the other, after a
loud curse, whirled Doyle between him and Knight and snatched for his gun. The Irishman
lunged to his knees, pulling the German off balance. Knight's gun-butt thudded down
on the man's' head, and he dropped without a sound. The other guard had wheeled,
one hand partly lowered toward his pistol. But as Knight's automatic flipped toward
him, he hastily changed his mind.
"Don't shoot, Bitte!" he said in a hoarse voice.
"So It's 'please,' now," grunted Doyle. He took the German's gun. "Dick, all
you need is wings to be an angel from Heaven. I thought I was sunk."
"We may be yet," muttered Knight. "Think there's any. chance of grabbing a ship?"
"Not a prayer. There's another Messerschmitt in there, but even if we did grab
it, or that Stinson or the Beechcraft they'd - well, there's no use talking. The
place is full of guards."
"We'll have to sneak around the house and get away," said Knight. He prodded
the German with his gun. "Hurry up and drag your friend away from the walk, where
he won't be seen."
Mumbling under his breath, the man obeyed. When he stood up, Knight grasped his
"You're going with us," he said tautly. "Get moving - and don't try anything
"No, 'Hans," said an edged voice, "our guests will play the comedy role."
Knight whirled - found himself staring pointblank into the muzzle of a pistol,
as a flashlight spotted the three of them. Two men leaped in at Doyle, and his frantic
shot went into the air.
"Very good," said the man with the flashlight. He tilted the torch, and above
it his small, delicate features became satanically shadowed
"Lieder!" Knight rasped. "You double-crosser !"
Chamber of Death
The Austrian's face did not change, but in his eyes a malicious amusement darkened
into something like murder. "Hans, take this loose-mouthed swine inside - and if
he as much as moves his head, give him the gun-butt."
"La, ja, Herr Count," stammered the German. "It was not my fault -"
"March!" snapped Count Lieder.
"Captain Mannheim, call some one to take care of this man on the ground, then
bring in the other prisoner. I shall be in the library with Schneider and the man
When the group reached the house, a burly German inspected them through a grill
before unlocking the door. Inside, they went down a dimly lighted hall and into
a large library, where both table and floor were littered with sketches, blueprints,
and scrawled notes. Books had been taken from their shelves, contents of recessed
file-cases emptied, An undersized German with too-large spectacles peered at Knight
and the others, started as he saw the guns.
"Don't be afraid, Karl," Lieder said with a thinly veiled contempt. "This man
is in no position to hurt you. Have you found that copy of the drawing yet?"
"Nein," said Karl despondently. "I am afraid Lanham got away with the only one.
We can only hope our engineers will be able to take down those circuits and grasp
"It may not be necessary," said the count. He turned to Knight. "You're a clever
man, from all I've heard. If you're as wise, as they say, you'll answer my questions
without any Yankee bluff."
Knight waited coldly.
"What happened to the drawing Lanham took from here?" demanded Lieder.
"What's left of it is locked in a G-2 vault by now," Knight lied. The Austrian
looked at him searchingly.
"I can find out if that is true, later - when I return to Washington. That jackass
Mapes is always ready to talk."
Knight saw that the man who now guarded him was glaring at him fiercely and then
for the first time since entering the lighted room he realized that the man called
Schneider was the Messerschmitt pilot who had escaped from the Moundsville airport.
There was a mixture of uneasiness in the German's glare, and Count Lieder's sharp
eyes caught his expression.
"Herr Schneider, there is something about the two Americans you have not told
Schneider's bony face twitched into a ghastly imitation of a smile. He could
not afford to let it be known he had given any information to the Americans.
"No, indeed, Excellenz, I told you everything. I admit to stupidity in being
captured, but I thought I might be able to get free and silence them that way, where
if I had simply died for the Cause -"
"If you are lying to me, you will regret it," Lieder said calmly. "I may have
taken a few matters into my own hands, but my suggestions carry real weight - weight
which you may feel."
He turned abruptly as Captain Mannheim entered, pushing Doyle. Mannheim was a
solidly-built man with heavily lidded eyes and the ram-rod back of a Prussian officer.
"I have ordered your Beechcraft refueled," he told Lieder. "Or have you changed
your mind about going with us to the Fatherland?"
"When you cross the Atlantic coast en route to Berlin tonight, my part of this
valued mission I have conceived is done," answered Lieder. "I shall of course forward
any other information as to the Newton apparatus, if I can possibly uncover anything
in my espionage work at Washington. However, though, I have made my own personal
plans to stay here and extend a spy-chain in America, with preparations for sabotage,
too, if I deem it wise."
Mannheim looked nervously at his wrist-watch.
"I shall be glad to be away from this accursed place. Sentiment will be very
dangerously against us after our troops enter Poland. And if by some chance the
Americans found we caused the death of those pilots -"
"How could they?" snapped Lieder. "You told me you jammed the air before Knight's
message to General Brett was half-started."
"I was thinking of nothing specific," said Mannheim. "It is only the tension
of those last minutes - like waiting to go over the top -"
"Then these final details will help occupy your mind," interrupted Lieder. "You
are to fly at ceiling of thirty thousand feet, cruising speed 240, great circle
course to Berlin. You are not to use the device, except in self defense, against
any targets, military or civilian, until the Berlin staff has decided on how it
can best be employed. It will probably be used against England's fleet, if she declares
war on Germany. Later, for raids on enemy ammunition depots, railheads, gas-plants,
and vital cities."
"I understand," nodded Captain Mannheim. He looked around the
littered library. "Too bad that Newton had to be killed. I've been afraid we might
need him again."
"The man infuriated me," said Lieder. He grinned mirthlessly. "I don't like people
to oppose me. Karl, you can give up the search. The big ship will be leaving here
shortly, and the house must be set afire before we go."
Karl nodded spiritlessly. Lieder's eyes shifted from Doyle to Knight. "You are
very lucky to be alive," he said drily. "I presume you would both prefer to stay
that way - or am I mistaken ?"
"Go ahead, you rat, and get it over with," flared Doyle. "I heard you tell Mannheim
you'd finish me off."
The Austrian's eyes were fixed on Knight.
"As you possibly have deduced," he said with heavy sarcasm, "war is about to
break out in Europe. In my opinion, it will become the Second World War. My mission
is to block any help America may try to give Britain and France."
"Remarkable," said Knight. "I'd never have suspected it."
"If there's any humor, I'll indicate it," snarled Lieder. "I'm offering you a
chance of life or death. Between you two, you've amassed a great deal of information
on French and British aviation, not to mention complete details on American defense
plans. If you agree, you'll be given posts in my spy ring-closely supervised, I'll
"You can go to the devil, for all of me," Doyle said furiously.
Two deadly pinpoints of light came into Lieder's eyes, but he went on in a flat
"- you'll be taken across in the Boeing tonight, guarded en route. But certain
later rewards will make. up for -"
"You're wasting your breath," Knight said coldly. "Doyle has spoken for the two
Lieder's fingers tightened convulsively on his pistol. Then he jerked his free
"Into the hall!" he said in a tone. of repressed fury. "Mannheim, you-and Schneider
bring that pig of an Irishman."
"I've two men out here waiting," Mannheim said hurriedly. "They can help you
while I attend to final -"
"The orders are given," snapped Lieder. "I want you to see this little performance.
You, too, Karl. You can tell the Berlin experts how it works, at close range."
He beckoned to the two men Mannheim had mentioned, and at his order they took
Doyle's arms and marched him down the stairs into the basement. Schneider and Hans
followed with Knight. They went through an arched passage into a long, narrow chamber,
the sides and ceiling of which were painted dead black. Across from the doorway
through which they entered was another door, evidently leading outside. It was heavily
barred and secured with three huge padlocks.
About thirty feet away, and midway between the
black walls, stood a smaller model of the sinister-looking weapon Knight had seen
on top of the big Boeing. It had a heavy shield, covered with asbestos, for the
operator, and transparent composition observation panels at least three inches thick.
At the other end of the long chamber a black hole loomed where the concrete wall
had been blasted through by the heat of the ray. Steel braces, leaning at angles,
shored up the floor at this point, without being in range of the device.
Two-thirds of the way down the narrow room was a pair of heavy steel poles, fifteen
feet apart, with hooks and pulleys for stretching objects of various sizes and shapes
between them and in line with the apparatus. A massive steel plate, sliced, in two,
lay on the floor between the poles. On the concrete floor nearby Knight saw a dark
stain that looked like blood.
"I think you begin to understand," Lieder said with an ugly smile. "Are you ready
to change your mind?"
Knight shook his head woodenly, and the fury came back into Lieder's eyes. "You
fool, do you realize what you're saying? You saw Lanham's body. Do you want to die
"At least it will be quick," Knight answered grimly.
"You'll die a thousand deaths in those seconds," snarled Lieder. "Look at this!"
He spun around, jabbed his hand at an intricate layout of high-tension coils,
fluorescent tubes, and electric mechanism. The tubes, Knight noticed, ranged from
small ones to units more than ten feet high.
"Somewhere in that hook-up, Newton found a way to get into the unknown waveband
of the spectrum," Lieder said harshly. "Looking for something weird in music - and
he hit on the deadliest weapon any nation could ever ask for. He got the secret
of controlling rates of vibration - and before we're through, Germany will know
it, too. That's how he generated that heat - and that's how Lanham was killed. When
that blue ray hit him, it wasn't electricity - it was a combination of sound and
light waves at tremendous rates of vibration, carrier waves between the cosmic and
ultra violet. When those waves hit anything they generate blue fire. And that fire
has a temperature of more than twenty-five thousand degrees!"
Knight saw Doyle's face. It was pasty white, and he knew his must be the same
color. In spite of his desperate attempt to keep up his show of courage, a great
horror began to congeal his blood. Lieder took a step closer.
"You saw those clippings - what Newton did in his tests. And you heard what happened
to that pursuit squadron. Are You convinced now?"
Knight shook his head. "The answer is still - no."
"You stubborn Schweinhund!"
Lieder turned to the men holding Doyle. "Tie him between the poles. When Knight
sees what it really means, he will change his song."
The two Germans started to drag the struggling Irishman to the poles, but halted
as a rumble of motors sounded from out on the field. Lieder jerked around to Captain
"I told them to start the engines as soon as they finished refueling," said Mannheim.
"You said to lose no time. I ordered all but the engineer crew to dump gasoline
through the house so we'd be ready," he added, as the sound of men clumping through
the rooms above was audible.
"Very well," replied Lieder curtly.
"This other business will take only a minute or two. Schneider, you and Hans
bring Knight over here behind the shield where he can have a good view. I don't
want him to miss anything."
He turned quickly to the deadly ray-gun, twitched the geared pointer-wheel at
one side, to center the weapon squarely between the poles. The men struggling with
Doyle had started to drag him ahead, but when they saw Lieder stoop behind the shield
and touch a master-switch and rheostat they stopped, frightened.
"What's the matter with you ?" the Austrian said fiercely. "I'm only warming
up the tubes. There's no danger until the master switch and rheostat are cut in."
The two Germans looked fearfully at the battery of tubes, as they lit up and
started to hum. Before they could take another step, Knight burst out with a furious
"Schneider! Shoot this devil now - Brett'll be too late to save us!"
Lieder whirled, and Schneider - stunned by Knight's words - went rigid before
the look in the Austrian's eyes.
"Don't believe him!" he moaned. "He lies - I didn't betray you!"
"It's in your face!" snarled Lieder.
His hand whipped under his coat to the gun he had hidden. Schneider let go of
Knight's arm, leaped back. In a split-second, Knight spun and drove his fist into
Hans stomach. The German doubled over with a gasp, and Knight snatched his holstered
Lieder, his gun half-drawn, flung himself back desperately as Knight sprang toward
him. Knight seized the pointer-wheel, gave it a fierce whirl. A .shot blazed from
Lieder's gun, spattered against the heavy shield. Mannheim dived for the stair-hall,
shouting for help, and Doyle's two guards threw themselves flat as the muzzle of
the ray-gun flicked toward them.
Schneider and the little scientist, Karl, both crouched back against the wall,
ashen-faced. Knight gripped the master switch, rammed its blades home, and reached
for the rheostat.
"Gott in Himmel!" cried Lieder "Don't kill me!"
His pistol clattered on the concrete floor, and he huddled back beside Karl's
"Tell those two guards to get over there with you!" Knight said grimly. "Doyle,
take both their guns."
Doyle seized the automatics the men had dropped.
"Unbar that side exit, Lieder!" Knight ordered. "Make it quick, or I'll blast
it open and you with it!"
The terrified Austrian leaped to obey, and the bolts slid back. Above, Mannheim's
voice came for a second through the vicious hum of the tubes:
"Use the machine-gun. Fire down through the floor!"
The Second World War!
"Mannheim!" screamed Lieder. "You'll kill us all!"
"Doyle, get him out to the Boeing!" Knight said tensely. "I'll stand off these
men for a second or two and then follow you."
The Irishman thrust Lieder through the doorway, the two guns gripped in his fists.
"Let those butchers go," he said hastily to Knight. "You'll be -"
T-t-t-t-t-t-t-t! A machine-gun stuttered from the upper floor, and splinters
of wood flew down into the basement.
"Run!" Knight shouted. "I'll be right behind you!"
He lifted his pistol, fired two shots into the largest fluorescent tube. The
crash as the tube exploded momentarily drowned the bark of the machine-gun above.
Flames leaped from the released gases and swirled through the middle of the chamber.
Knight dropped the rheostat control and dashed for the side exit. A burst of machine-gun
fire gouged the opened door at his left, and he heard someone behind him scream.
He took the steps three at a time. Just as he reached the ground level there
was a dull boom from the house behind him, and shattering glass fell from the windows.
The blaze that followed told him the truth without even the need for a backward
glance. The flame from the broken fluorescent tube had set off gasoline fumes in
the rooms prepared by Mannheim's men.
By the glare he saw Doyle and Lieder. The Irishman was rushing Lieder up the
gangway to the entrance of the big stratosphere ship. A lone mechanic, running apparently
in search of a gun, was the only other person in sight. The alarm had evidently
brought the others back to the house.
Two muffled reports sounded as a gun barked from behind Knight. He jumped aside,
zigzagged at top speed. Over his shoulder he saw Schneider charging up the stairs
of the basement exit. He pumped a quick shot at the German pilot, ducked around
a refueling truck. Another pistol jetted flame from the main entrance of the house,
and he saw Mannheim emerge, coughing, from a cloud of smoke that billowed through
the open door. Back of the German officer came five or six men, two of them carrying
Knight raced up the steps of the gangway, with bullets gashing the metal sides
of the ship. A piece of dural nicked his jaw, and another slug ricocheted from the
frame of the, air-tight door. He jumped inside, slammed the door shut, and twisted
the triple handles. Three shots roared from up forward. He dashed around a maze
of electrical equipment of the same type which had been in the basement laboratory.
Amidships was a ladder leading up to the ray-gun turret, and as he ran by he saw
that the entire ray-gun could be lowered as it unit and aimed through another turret
in the bottom of the ship.
A figure with two smoking guns whirled as he reached the control compartment,
and with a vast relief he saw that Doyle was uninjured. A German in dungarees was
stretched, lifeless, a few feet away, and Knight saw the legs of another mechanic
protruding from the passage to the starboard nacelles.
"I had to drop 'em," Doyle said, breathing hard. "They both came at me with guns
"Where's Lieder?" demanded Knight.
"I locked him in the tail compartment-and gave him a good smack to keep him quiet."
"Make sure that's no one else in those nacelles," Knight exclaimed. He sprang
into the pilot's seat, released the parking-brake of the big ship. A machine-gun
pounded as he opened the master-throttles. He swung the Boeing around tightly, sent
it rolling away from the hangar. A hail of bullets ripped through the top of the
control compartment while he hastily searched for the wing-light switch. The beams
flashed on, and the next second the stratosphere plane was thundering into the wind
for a take-off.
"No one else aboard," Doyle reported, breathlessly, sliding into the co-pilot's
seat. "But they're starting those two Messerschmitts!"-and I didn't see any machine-guns
on this bus!"
Knight's gaze flicked from the manifold-pressure to the air speed. He lifted
the big ship gently, pulled into a climbing turn as soon as the needle passed 100.
The red neon beam flashed on below, and the black wings of the first Messerschmitt
fighter hurtled through the glow in a lightning take-off. Back of it he saw the
other ship swinging into the wind.
Doyle shot an anxious look over the side as he finished retracting the landing-gear.
"Step on it, Dick! Those babies will shoot us down - Lieder and all - if they can't
force us back."
"She's slow picking up, with all that fuel load," muttered Knight. "Here - take
over. I'm going back and see what I can do."
"You don't mean -" Doyle blurted. "Keep her wide open," Knight said grimly, and
hurried back through the cabin. At the forward end were a few seats and a chart-table
on which a map of the United States had been tacked. The rest of the cabin was filled
with the tubes and huge coils of the Newton ray-gun. In a rack which had escaped
Doyle's attention he saw two German machine-guns and loaded belts. They were obviously
for emergency use, for the walls of the stratosphere ship had not been pierced for
Evidently Mannheim had preferred to keep the ship capable of high-altitude flight,
and thus out of range of ordinary planes and anti-aircraft guns, counting on the
ray-gun for defense except in a last resort.
Knight stepped to a window, slid up the light black shutter which covered it.
A bright glow struck him squarely in the eyes. The neon beam was focused on the
Boeing, and beyond it he could see nothing.
He was hurrying around the supports of the ray-gun turret for a glance from the
other side when the Boeing shivered under the furious impact of multi-gun bursts.
Knight spun around, and his eyes raced over the switchboard. In the same position
as on the smaller model, he recognized the "warming up" switch Lieder had cut in
first. He closed the blades, and a green light glowed on the switch-board as the
tubes began to hum. Under the light he saw, in German, "Turret control."
The Boeing slued crazily, and went into a tight turn. There was a break in the
pound of bullets into the tail, and Knight had a spine-chilling moment when he thought
the ship had gone out of control. Then he felt it twist out of the turn, and he
knew that Doyle was maneuvering as best he could to shake off the attack.
Gripping the ladder, Knight climbed up into the turret. It was larger than he
had thought, fully six feet in diameter and projecting four feet above the top of
the ship. The platform was under the cabin roof, suspended so that he could stand
erect behind the breech of the ray-gun. Dangling from the rheostat handle on the
gun-control panel was the peculiar jacket and helmet combination which had reminded
him of a welder's hood. Heavy asbestos gloves were tied to it with cords. He jerked
the hood over his head, put on the gloves. The neon beam had shifted and was fainter,
so that he could see only a dim luminance through the mist. But his sudden hope
that they had escaped the fighters was rudely dispelled.
From off to the right, two tunnels of light abruptly spotted the side of the
Boeing. Like some great prehistoric bird with blazing eyes, one of the Messerschmitts
charged in at the stratosphere ship. Knight seized the master-switch, frantically
spun the pointer-wheel.
The fighter's four guns flamed - and went dark as the pilot saw the ray-gun muzzle
swing toward him. With a wild zoom he shot over the Boeing and drilled up into the
gloom. Knight saw his wing lights go out, caught a hasty blinking of tiny green
signal-lights, and knew that the pilot of the other fighter was being warned of
A presentiment of what might come sent him swiftly searching for the gear that
lowered the ray-gun to the bottom position. Bent over the switchboard, trying to
read the German words by the dim light of the luminous voltmeter dials, he failed
to hear anything until metal scraped sharply on metal behind him. He jumped around,
and went rigid.
For the second time that night he was staring over the muzzle of a gun in the
hands of Count Max Lieder!
But this weapon was a machine-gun, and the snout was less than a foot from his
"This time I will make no mistake," the Austrian said in a voice thick with fury.
Knight stood motionless, frozen in his tracks. Lieder's lips curled malevolently.
"Your stupid friend should have looked twice at that cubby where he locked me in.
The box onto which he threw me happened to be a tool-chest. Forcing the door was
"He should have killed you," Knight muttered. "That's the only way to deal with
"Enough of that," snapped Lieder. "Where are the Messerschmitts?"
"I don't know," Knight said dully. "Take that phone," ordered Lieder, jerking
his head toward an interphone set back in the shadows and which Knight had not seen
before. "It's hooked with the pilot compartment. When Doyle answers, tell him the
fighters are trailing the ship and to switch on the landing-lights again and blink
them four times, then turn back to the field and land."
Knight reached for the phone. The Austrian's eyes glittered in the dim glow from
the radiolite dials.
"I wouldn't try to warn him," he said significantly. "This machine gun would
make even a larger hole than the one you saw in Lanham's body."
"I know when the game's up," Knight answered hopelessly. He put the receiver
to his ear, and pressed the button under the mouthpiece. After a moment, Doyle's
anxious voice came over the wire.
"Dick! That you ?"
"Yes," mumbled Knight. "Turn on your landing-lights. We're licked - those Messerschmitt
devils have us covered - they're right on our tail. Blink the lights four times,
so they'll know we're giving in and landing."
"You mean we're quittin'?" Doyle said hoarsely.
"You heard me," Knight said. "We haven't a prayer."
"Okay, Dick," Doyle said in a beaten voice. The phone clicked in Knight's ear,
and after a few seconds the landing lights streamed into the darkness, winked slowly.
From up in the night, there came an answering signal, the tiny green lights growing
brighter as the ebon planes closed in. Knight's last hope died. After all, how could
he have expected Doyle to ...
With a violent surge of power, the motors went full on, and the Boeing whipped
into a vertical bank. Knight was hurled over the breech of the ray-gun, Lieder plunged
to his knees, and with a deafening roar his machine-gun blasted up through the side
of the turret, the bullets missing Knight by hardly a foot. The heavy composition
turret covering was blasted by the burst, and tracers lanced up into the mists.
Knight lunged under the spurting weapon and slammed his fist into Lieder's jaw.
The Austrian's finger slipped from the trigger, and with a quick twist Knight jerked
the gun from his grasp. But the heavy gloves made him lose hold of the barrel, and
the machine-gun thudded back into the cabin. Lieder was still on his knees, moaning.
Knight started to drag him away from the ladder, but four streaks of tracer suddenly
leaped from the murk.
The Messerschmitt pilots, believing the signal a trick, were charging in to finish
Desperately, Knight whirled to the ray-gun. The pointer-wheel spun at his touch,
and the heavy muzzle jerked around at the first black fighter. With a wild cry,
Lieder sprang up, clawing at Knight's hands. The Q-Agent slipped, caught himself
at the edge of the ladder. Tracer smoked across the tail of the Boeing, pelted through
the jagged turret. The Messerschmitt howled by, shot back for another attack as
the second fighter plunged down.
Knight dragged himself up, with Lieder hanging onto one arm and pounding madly
at his ribs. His gloved hand touched the oversized handle of the rheostat, and the
contacts flared as he threw it to the last tap.
A terrific screech filled the air, dinning into his ears, and for a second a
mirage danced beyond the ray-gun, shone in the flitting tracers. Then like a bolt
of lightning, a blue ray hurled itself into space.
The nose of the German fighter split wide open as the ray struck into the prop.
There was a blinding flash, and the Messerschmitt went plummeting down, a mass of
blue fire. Two hundred feet away, the second Messerschmitt swerved wildly - then
went up on its tail as the glare blinded the pilot. Knight spun the elevator control
and the ray-gun flipped steeply upward.
With a strangled cry, Lieder turned to jump from the platform and seize the fallen
machine-gun. The rheostat whirled again under Knight's hand. And again came that
frightful shriek as the ray blazed up through the mists. Only an instant, that terrible
blue fire streaked upward, then both the ray and that unholy sound abruptly ended.
Down in the cabin, there was a brief flash - a tortured scream that rang like the
echo of that other, blood-curdling sound.
A hundred yards above the Boeing, the last black fighter vanished in a blinding
swirl of blue flame. Knight dropped below the edge of the shattered turret to escape
the scorching heat, saw the blazing mass roar past. Seconds later, he stared down
into the cabin, and then he knew what had so suddenly ended the deadly ray.
Sprawled across two shining bus-bars from the high-tension coils lay the body
of Count Lieder. Smoke was slowly curling up from a relay-control box and a coil
nearby, and all of the tubes were blackened from that abrupt short-circuit. Max
Lieder had carried out his last mission - in vain.
With a shiver, Knight climbed down the ladder and made his way forward.
"I Should've got wise right off," said Doyle. He peered over the side of the
Boeing at the lights of Moundsville, faint through the misty darkness. "It wasn't
till you hung up that it hit me. Dick Knight quittin' - hell's bells, something
had to be mighty sour. Then I got it - what you said about those hellions havin'
you covered. I knew Lieder must've got out - and when I figured he'd think it was
all set, after I turned on the lights, I kicked th' ship around to give you a chance."
"I almost knocked my brains out on that ray-gun," said Knight. "But you saved
the day, Lothario - even if Newton's death-ray was destroyed."
"I'm blame glad it was," Doyle said fervently.
"War's bad enough, without a thing like that," agreed Knight. He turned on the
radio, started to tune in the War Department at Washington. But a crisp announcement
from a nearby broadcasting station stopped his fingers on the dial:
"- this flash just received: Germany has invaded Poland! Border attacks were
accompanied by bombing of strategic bridges and objectives near Warsaw. Further
details will be given as soon -"
Knight turned the dial, stared at Doyle.
"So it's come," said the Irishman. "The Second World War!"
Knight slowly nodded. "It'll be a terrible thing. But-there'll be no 'blue death'
from America to make it worse."
Posted August 13, 2022