When I first began perusing
the large collection of Flying Aces magazines that I bought on eBay, I enthusiastically
read all the fictional adventure stories of, well, flying aces, like
Richard "Dick" Night,
Kerry Keen (aka "The Griffon"),
"G−2" secret agent Cap. Philip
Grogan and his Dragon Squadron, and others. For some reason I skipped over the
adventures of Lt. Phineas Pinkham, of the 9th Pursuit Squadron. Maybe it was
because of the way he was drawn that I figured it was just a dumb story about a
hayseed doofus and wouldn't be very good. One day I decided to actually read through
one of the stories, and much to my surprise discovered that the series was as good
as any of the other aforementioned yarns - with a lot of humor to boot. Lt. Pinkham
is sort of the Boonetown, Iowa, World War II version of LA police detective
Lt. Columbo (whose first name we were
never made privy to). As did I, people assume he is a bumbling fool who couldn't
figure out the simplest of schemes by nefarious evil-doers, but in actuality he
is an extremely clever strategist and prankster who, in the manner of the famous
Canadian Mountie Dudley Do−Right, "always
get his man." See if you agree.
Good Haunting! - Fate - and Phineas Pinkham! Hilarious Laugh Riot
"Down vunce, Otto," yelled von Schnoutz. "Ach, Himmel!"
By Joe Archibald
Author of "Parlez Voodoo," "Tuttle Tailwinds," etc.
Do you believe in ghosts? They asked that question of Major Garrity, and he said
no, but he didn't like 'em. They asked Phineas Pinkham, and he said yes, and he
liked 'em. Here's a ghost story guaranteed to make you laugh - not shudder. For
this story Fate spun a web that would confound the most expert construction engineer
among the social insects known as spiders. Let us begin with a strange tale that
came over from the Kraut side in the spring of 1918 and oozed in through the doors
of airdromes, divisional headquarters, buvettes, G.H.Q. and other Allied establishments
too numerous to mention.
It seems that three Heinie divisions, sorely pressed near the Aisne, had grown
quite discouraged and were about to tap their Oberoffiziers into dreamland with
sections of iron piping. The mutiny, however, was said to have been stayed, incredible
as it may sound, by the great arm of Bismarck.
Bathed in a strange glow, mists curling about his massive figure, he had risen
up from out of No-Man's-Land and had stabbed a finger toward Paris. The Jerries,
letting out a wild, raucous yell, had leaped out of the trenches to tear almost
three hundred acres of French real estate out of Allied hands.
But that was not half of it. Several days later, the ghost of Bismarck again
appeared, this time near Le Neuville. Once more a sweep of his immortal arm had
driven Kraut shock troops against the Allied lines, to dent it in three spots. Something
was amiss somewhere, Allied brass hats were convinced. A trio of them descended
upon Major Rufus Garrity, C. O. of the turbulent and inimitable Ninth Pursuit Squadron,
to discuss the matter.
"It's serious, Garrity," growled a colonel. "Can't be laughed off. The Yanks
saw it themselves."
The discussion was taking place in the big room of the French farmhouse, and
several pilots were still lolling around the mess table. Major Garrity merely grunted.
"If it ever pops up in this sector, we'll never hold the Heinies," the colonel
went on. "I'm not a bit superstitious, Garrity, but by cripes - er - do you believe
in ghosts ?"
"No!" Garrity ripped out. "But I don't like 'em. Ha, ha !"
"I didn't come over from Chaumont to hear you make wisecracks, Garrity," the
colonel complained testily. "This is no joke."
"Haw-w-w-w-w-w!" From one end of the table came the familiar Pinkham guffaw.
"It's like them Frogs, I bet, who saw Joan of Arc," grinned Phineas. "You remember
that? Well, what did they find with 'em in that observation trench, huh? Three empty
absinthe bottles. Haw-w-w! It's a wonder they didn't see Napoleon chasin' her with
a motorcycle. I wouldn't worry none. As soon as the Heinie Schnapps gives out, well
"Who asked you to sound off?" thundered the Brass Hat who had done the most talking.
"Garrity, is this the sort of respect for superiors you teach these buzzards? Bah,
I'm wasting my time in this booby hatch. Come on, Jenks, we'll move on. But you'll
hear about this, major," he bellowed at Garrity, pounding his stick against his
boot. "Of all the -"
Phineas came very close to the Boche more than once.
Phineas made a snappy salute. "When you get to Chaumont," he said, "tell 'em
I will make a counter-attack, sir. I will dress up like Daniel Boone and walk up
and down in front of the Yankee ditches an' -"
"Major," the brass hat bellowed as Garrity balanced a sugar bowl in his hand,
"that's all I'll stand. One more word out of this bunch of fresh mugs and I'll put
them all under arrest."
"Oh, they wouldn't do me a favor like that," the Old Man ground out. "Not this
bunch! Pinkham, your two weeks' leave is cancelled. I'll show you."
"It's no use aggravating your blood pressure," drawled the Boonetown wonder.
"I decided to stay home, anyways, as I have got to find out who is stealing my stuff.
I've got to find out if Frankenstein had a great grandson who is followin' in his
ancestor's footsteps. Haw-w-w! Bismarck! Maybe they didn't bury him deep enough."
The door slammed with such force that a pane of glass fell out of a window and
"Aw, now, don't go away mad," Phineas yelled after the departing Brass Hat. "It
must be terrible not to have a sense of humor," he sighed.
Major Rufus Garrity threw the sugar bowl this time. He missed Lieutenant Pinkham.
The bowl hit Captain Howell on top of his head, bounced off and took a neck off
the catsup bottle.
"That'll start up my sinus trouble again," Howell yelled. "I bet I can't fly
in the morning. Oh, if only you weren't a major!"
"Look at my brand new tunic," yelped Bump Gillis. "It's ruined. That ketchup!
I'll send you a bill for' this, you - er - sir!"
Major Garrity moaned, kicked back his chair and groped his way toward the orderly
room like a somnambulist. "If that is Bismarck come back," he muttered, "he's a
Five minutes later, when the pilots were about to break up, the roar of an engine
came from outside. Brakes screeched, and then two irate men barged into the farmhouse.
One had a great big mouse under his eye.
"Why, it's Captain Brophy," exclaimed Phineas, his tongue in his cheek, eyes
cast in the direction of a handy open window. "How are all the Salmsons today? Did
you fly any?"
"Pinkham," Brophy cracked, "it was nice of you to make that date for me with
that dame in Barley Duck !"
"Why - er - that was nothin'," grinned Phineas, "not at all. Didn't I say she
was crazy to meet ya, huh? Any time I can help a guy -"
"Yeah!" the flyer of Salmsons gritted through his teeth, fists doubling. "But
you didn't tell me she had a husband, did ya? And that he was a blacksmith as big
as the Rheims Cathedral, huh?"
"Why, ya didn't ask me," countered Phineas. "Haw-w-w-w-w! It is funny how you
forgit, ain't it? Them Frogs are the most jealous bums."
"And you forgot to tell me the blacksmith was layin' for a certain guy who wasn't
me and -"
"That's a lie as - well -"
"Awright, Pinkham," snorted Brophy, "look out for me. I'll git hunk. I'm gunnin'
for you from now on. I just want to warn ya. C'mon, Bill, let's go!"
"Haw-w-w-w-w!" laughed Phineas, wiping moisture from his brow. "Nobody can't
take a joke around here no more, huh!"
"Glad Tidings" Goomer, a laugh on any tarmac.
"Beggin' your pardon, sir," said a little man, sidling up to the culprit, "B
- but tricks are awful bad things, sir." He was a doleful little private, a new
mess monkey on the drome of the Ninth. Goomer was his name, and compared to Private
Goomer, a professional pallbearer is always doubled up with mirth. Phineas called
him "Glad Tidings."
"You don't say," Phineas grinned. "Well, well -" "I never will fergit the trick
I played on my grand-pap once," the mess monkey continued. "Never got over it, sir.
It just goes to show what a prank will start. I put a burr in my grandpap's chair.
He sat on it, then jumped up an' let out a awful howl, sir. The howl scairt the
cat an' the cat hopped up an' knocked over a lamp. The lamp set fire to the house
an' it burned down an' my Aunt Sophie got pneumonia from exposure an' passed away
without changin' her will, which she promised to do. The five thousand dollars went
to missionaries in the Congo, like her first will said, an' I couldn't git sent
to college, an' so I didn't never amount to nothin' an' couldn't be an orfiser.
That's why I am only a mess monkey. So you see, sir, what a prank'll do, huh?"
"I will reward you for this, Glad Tidings." Phineas grinned broadly. "I'll send
for a tombstone catalogue for you. Haw-w-w-w! Well, adoo, bums, as I've got to go
an' figger out why Bismarck is up an' around agin."
Private Goomer shook his head dolefully and meandered toward the kitchen.
Now on the other side of the fence, Fate was spinning away busily and chuckling.
The Rittmeister von Schnoutz stood in front of a superior who was colder to the
touch than an iceberg.
"All der time yedt iss it excooses," the Herr Oberst was growling. "Orders you
hear dem, hein? Gedt Leutnant Pingham! Der Tag idt iss nodt far avay. Mit der Bismarck
poosh along die Dumkopfs by der trench, ja? Maybe yedt vhile you sleep by der Albatross,
Herr Leutnant Pingham he vill find vhere iss it der Bismarck. Das ist gut, hein?
Ach! From der High Command iss idt comes orders vhat I giff you. Hah, Pingham Schwein
he hass all the tricks, eh? It giffs no never mind how you shoodt him down, unterstandt?
Already yedt I bedt you he tries to find Herr Bismarck. You shouldt get der oopstart.
Flies by mein zoup iss he. Oop to now idt iss der monkey he makes uf you, Herr Rittmeister."
"Ja wohl," cracked von Schnoutz, "budt I bedt you half der Black Forest by me
he gedts shodt down. So! Insults iss it you giff me, ha? Vhen I shouldt gedt him,
I coom und laugh by you, ha, ha, ha! Then I qvit und go back by der Italian front.
I show you. Friends I haff efen by Hindenberg, und efen ein Herr Oberst der Rittmeister
could insult nodt. I could be also der Herr Oberst, but I get tired by der pants,
"Raus mit!" howled the Herr Oberst. "Gedt oudt! Who iss idt more important yedt,
you or Bismarck, hein? Stop idt der yapping like ein pooch run ofer mit der street
car. You shouldt gedt idt der Leutnant Pingham instead uf der high horse. Bah, such
That night, long after the few clocks in France which had not been kicked askew
by Heinie shells had pealed out the witching hour, a Jerry truck rolled through
the village of Mars-le-Tour. Mud-caked, plodding Heinies moved out of the way to
let it pass. A Kraut M.P. stopped the truck and got a wallop on the coal scuttle
for his trouble.
"Dumkopf," yipped a Prussian officer who rode in a staff car behind the truck.
"Did you see nodt der sign 'verboten' on der truck, hein? Maybe vun crack more on
der headt vill giff ein lesson!" The Kraut reeled under the second swipe from a
heavy Luger, and gutturaled indignantly as two cronies helped him to his feet.
"I haff orders to stop all trucks for der passvord, ja," he spat. "Und all it
giffs iss vallops. Donnervetter! Such a foolish var iss idt. Hans, vhat you t'ink
iss idt in der truck, hein?"
"Maybe die big Fieldmarshals haff der chess game, ho, ho!"
Now how were those Heinies to know that the great Bismarck had passed by? Perhaps
such secrecy was vital, as even a Bismarck was not especially safe within ninety
miles of Lieutenant Phineas Pinkham.
All during the new day, Allied pilots were going forth into the torrid ozone
with the usual orders to mess up Heinie crates and to keep a lookout for any signs
of construction of a stage upon which the great Bismarck might be likely to make
another personal appearance. Phineas flew with A Flight, as usual, and kept an alert
optic peeled for a trace of his arch enemy, von Sclmoutz. On the way home from the
last patrol, Howell's formation skimmed close to a trio of Salmson observation crates.
In the pit of one, a pilot ground his teeth as he read the earmarks of Garrity's
"Well, Bismarck," said Phineas, "we will walk to the Yank trenches."
"Just wait, Mr. Pinkham," he spat out. "Captain Brophy will pay you off, you
fresh, buck-toothed cluck!"
"Ah, hum-m-m!" yawned Phineas. "This has been some dull day! You would think
they'd stop them Vons' pay checks. Well, I think I'll leave you, captain, as this
is where I git off. Adoo!" He winged over, banked wide and headed back toward the
land of the sausage-makers. "Now, let's see," the lone eagle soliloquized with a
complacent grin, "it's close to Hamburg where they laid Herr Bismarck to rest. Huh,
it's a long walk from there even if he got up. I hate to admit it, but they have
found a Kraut some place with brains, I bet. It's about time they started usin'
the Pinkham system, haw-w-w-w-w! I am almost flattered."
Br-r-r-r-r-r-r-rt! Phineas was wrong. He was almost flattened. A grim shape swished
by overhead, looped madly and came spearing down at the trespassing Spad which still
shivered under the impact of the Jerry slugs.
"Bismarck can wait," Phineas choked out and went into an Immelmann.
On a road far beneath, a truck stopped. The car filled up with Jerry officers
also stopped. They squinted up into the rouged skies and chuckled.
"I bedt you t'irty marks das ist der Leutmant Pingham," exclaimed one. "Und der
Rittmeister von Schnoutz iss strafing der bummer. Ach, step qvick on der petrol.
Der close shafe vas idt, you bedt."
"You joomp at shadows, Seidlitz," a Kraut Brass Hat yelped. "Der cat comes oudt
uf der bag yedt mit your foolishments. I bedt he nefer efen spotted us. Und how
vould he know it iss - Himmel, der Yangkee gedts avay!"
Phineas had just made it. Kraut anti-aircraft nibbled at him as he skimmed over
the lines. The Rittmeisier swore roundly and gnashed his teeth.
"It iss der endt," he growled as he headed back home.
"I challenge der Leutnant to step oop und·fight to der finish. You vait! I t'ink
oop der trick, also."
Phineas landed his Spad on his favorite spot outside of Bar-le-Duc and counted
the holes in his ship.
"The bum!" he exclaimed. "He must be usin' bird shot, as one burst couldn't make
that many holes. Well, he didn't git me, but he is gittin' to be an awful nuisance.
Here I come, Babette! Git the cookies out of the cupboard an' fill up the bowl of
It took Phineas ten minutes to get into town. Before attending to affairs of
the heart, he turned into an estaminet for a tuning up. There he met Captain Brophy,
and Lieutenant Pinkham should have taken the captain's friendly smile with a whole
barrel of salt.
"Why, huh, ya don't look mad at all," began Phineas, grinning. "Well, that is
the kind of bum I like, as what is done is passed under the bridge an' all, huh?
Would you have a snort or two with me? Garcon, it's all on yours truly."
"You have no idea," grunted Brophy. "Ha - er - I mean we are some dried up in
the tonsils, yeah!"
Nothing seemed amiss as Phineas bade them all a "bomb swar" and headed for Babette's.
Two hours later, he bade his big moment a fond adieu. Whistling blithely, he headed
for his Spad, It stood where he had left it, close to a little Frog farm. The roar
of the prop brought the Frenchman and his life partner out into their yard.
"C' est le lieutenant, oui;" he said. "See how he tak' off lak ze bird, non?"
As Phineas' bus tore along the ground, the femme jumped high into the air and
waved her arms.
"Ze birds ees eet?" she shrieked. "Aussi zey fly lak you have say. Sacre, Henri,
ze cheeken coop eet ees. I Cochon! Peeg! You breeng back ze hens, non?"
"Mon Dieu! Ah-h-h-h-h, sacré bleu!"
Above the roar of the Hisso rose the indignant squawk of poultry as three hen
coops tumbled and jumped in the wake of the Pinkham Spad.
"It's funny," Phineas muttered as he soared up into the air. "I never heard so
much cacklin'. I must've woke up the biddies. Huh, what ails this crate? It feels
like it's draggin' a Yule log. I'm goin' to bawl out Casey when I git back to the
A flare of burning petrol lighted the way for Phineas. Major Garrity tore out
across the field as the Spad's wheels hit. Phineas' brows knitted as he switched
off the ignition.
"Do you hear hens cacklin'?" he yipped at Sergeant Casey as the flight non-com
"Just look around, lieutenant," growled Casey. "Of all the -"
"Say, you," the Old Man howled, "do you think they get petrol out of brooks?
It's the last time we light your way in, you - ah, - what've you got there? Where
did you get those?"
The Ninth's prodigal son turned his head. A dozen white hens were staggering
uncertainly across the field. Behind the Spad were three heaps of kindling wood
which once had been hen coops.
"Wires tied to 'em!" yelled Howell. "Why, you bat-eared ape, you've done some
cockeyed things before, but -"
"Ah - er - huh!" gasped Phineas. "I - er -" Suddenly his big tombstone teeth
clicked together and made a sound like the springing of a bear trap. "Hm, Brophy,
the bum! I ought to've known he was a hypocrite."
"Stealing hens, eh?" groaned the major. "This is too much. Cripes, they'll hang
you for this. I'll kick the cracker box from under your feet myself."
"It's a lie," snorted Phineas. "It was Brophy done it. He was in Barley Duck
"Oh, yeah?" roared the C.O. "So you left a perfectly good Spad out there where
anybody could - I'll -" Cut-cut-cut-cadacut! Cut-cut-e-e-e-e-e-eaw-w-w-w-wk! Awk!
"Get those hens!" shouted Garrity, "Everybody drop what they are doin' and chase
those - Pinkham, I'll bust you."
"I been framed," insisted Phineas. "You wait, Brophy! You just wait." He made
a dive and came up holding a white hen by the legs.
"I got three," Howell yipped. "What'll I do with the things, huh?"
"Put 'em in Pinkham's hut," yowled the major. "Where'll I sleep?" Bump Gillis
demanded indignantly. "I'm not sleepin' with no poultry."
"Every hen that's missing comes out of your pay, you fatheads," bellowed the
C.O. "Now do you want to sleep?"
That night Bump Gillis and Phineas Pinkham slept in the attic of the old Frog
farmhouse with a family of bats, numerous spiders and a group of inquisitive rodents.
Cobwebs still clung to the muttering pair as they hopped off on the dawn patrol.
"I'll git that Brophy!" declared Phineas under his breath. "Nobody can fool with
a Pinkham an' git away with it. You wait! I'll get even."
A misty veil hung over the area of fuss. It looked moth-eaten in spots. Finding
the patrol very dull, Phineas dived through one of the holes. The carpet below was
coughing up big gobs of flame and mud as Allied artillery banged away and spoiled
the Krauts' appetite for breakfast. Phineas swooped low, skimming over the ruins
of a village where he saw something that piqued his curiosity to the point of grazing
the tops of crumbling structures. On the brow of a hill approximately three quarters
of a mile from the barbed-wire entanglements he spotted a Jerry fourgon.
"Now that's funny," the adventuring Yank grunted to himself. "Shells are droppin'
all around, and there are Heinie officers with that bus. It don't make any more
sense than if I just saw some sea lions in a stone quarry. Huh, well -" Phineas
looked up. Three Fokkers were slicing down at him. But out of the mists came Howell
and his brood to save the Pinkham neck.
"It was nice of you bums to come to my succor," expanded Phineas some time later
when the Spads were back on the drome. "I guess I misjudged you an' -" "Ships cost
money, you fathead," Howell tossed out in interruption. "And let me tell you something.
Just leave the formation once more, you crackpot, and -"
"Well, buzzards," cut in Major Garrity sweetly as he sauntered onto the scene,
"the Frog was here with two M.P.'s. Now the bill comes to just two hundred and ninety
francs for that poultry. I will show you the figures. Ha, ha, and we didn't even
get one to eat. The Frog dropped the charges after we paid him off. Now your share,
Lieutenant Pinkham, is -"
Phineas bristled. "I will send the bill to Brophy," he announced. "I'll also
prefer charges against him."
"Ha, ha," laughed the C.O., and strolled away.
Fate was beginning to step on it. The web widened. In the afternoon, Phineas
took a stroll out into the country to be alone with his thoughts. He sat himself
down on a log and thought of Bismarck. His eyes wandered as his brain churned. At
length they became glued to something at the edge of a clump of alders. It was a
hollow tree and flies buzzed around it.
"Now that's queer," he said aloud. "Ha, I wonder -" Nearing the tree, the Boonetown
wizard raised himself on tiptoe and plunged an arm into the big hole that yawned
in its side. When he drew it out, his hands were gooey.
"A bee storehouse," he chuckled. "Honey! Why, there's bees stuck in it. Well,
spring is here an' you will thaw out. I know all about you little bums. Some of
you numb up durin' the winter an' thaw out in the spring. I bet you're mostly girl
bees. And I know where you will git your marbles back quicker." And Phineas, by
much effort, managed to glean from the nest several dozen of the insects which were
not defunct and put them in his hat.
"I'll make me a hive," he grinned, chewing on some succulent beeswax. "An' I'll
raise honey. I'll plant me a flower garden for 'em and - huh, some of the li'l fellers
are already movin' a leg or two. Well, a couple of days where it's warm an' -"
Lieutenant Pinkham came onto the drome and skidded back on his heels. Out in
front of the hangars were three ack emmas, digging into the nose of a two-seater
- a Salmson. Phineas swore and quickened his pace.
"Casey, where did that bus come from?"
"Got forced down here," replied the flight sergeant. "Got to git it in shape
to go back where it belongs. It'll take an hour, I guess. Of all the airdromes in
France, it would have to land here."
"Hm, yeah," grinned Pinkham. "We're just lucky, that's all. Ha, ha! Well, don't
strain yourselves. Adoo."
Phineas walked into the farmhouse. There were only one or two pilots about. On
a chair were heaped some articles of flying apparel.
"Where's Brophy?" Phineas asked casually, his heart aflutter. "And the bum who
"Playin' poker over with Bump an' two other guys," was the response. "No, you
can't show us any tricks. We're not interested; We don't smoke and -"
"Well, maybe I got a trick you never saw before," Phineas insisted. "Now, it'll
only take a minute."
"Gome on, Slug," growled one of the victims. "Let him have the whole place to
"That's thoughtful of you," grinned the trickster gratefully as the two stamped
out. "Now I'll just look at the coats. Hmm, the linin' is ripped in one of 'em.
I can easy make it two." He took out his knife. Five minutes later, the coats were
put back to their original resting place. Phineas' sky piece was atop his head.
There was no sign of the convalescing bees.
"Maybe havin' a hive would be too much trouble," decided the wonder from Boonetown,
Iowa, and he sighed happily as he walked out on the field.
Some time later, Brophy emerged from the Pinkham hut. Phineas was just about
to step inside.
"Why, hello, Carbuncle," Brophy tossed out.
"Y'ain't mad, huh? Well, that's swell as like you say, what is flowed down the
river never comes back up through the bridge, or what is it. Excuse me, as I think
we have to go. How would you like to come over for a chicken dinner, huh? Ha, ha!
C'mon, Bill, the bus looks like it's ready."
"It's the last one who laughs who lasts - er - laughs the best laugh," Phineas
muttered. "Adoo, Brophy. You're a card. Ha, ha.!"
The Salmson roared away.
"You must be slippin'," commented Howell. "The bum took us for ten smackers an'
you didn't even slip him a phoney bonbon. You are washed up sure."
"Maybe I look clean outside, but you have no idea how dirty I still feel inside,"
retorted Phineas with a secret grin. "I'll be. seein' ya."
The sun stuck out its pink and orange tongue as dusk chased it below the horizon.
The pilots of the Ninth were at mess when a Mercedes power plant thrummed out a
serenade right over their heads.
"Boche!" yelled the Old Man. "Get out. Grab a Spad, all of you -"
Casey barged in. "An Albatross flyin' a white sheet," he shouted. "It looks like
Immediately Phineas Pinkham leaped out of his chair. "That bum! White sheet or
no white sheet, I'll chase him -"
Once outside, the pilots let out a yell and grabbed at the dirt. The Boche crate
dived down, swooped over the hangars and zoomed back upstairs. Something rolled
over the skid-raked flying field. A greaseball retrieved it and hotfooted back to
Garrity. What he handed to the Old Man appeared to be an empty shell plugged up
with heavy paper. There was a message inside.
''Too much ist enuff," Garrity read. "Herr Leutnant Pingham, der time comes that
we find who ist ein besser Mann, ja! Ofer Fresnes at three by der clock in der afternoon
tomorrow you I meet, bummer! Pooey for you und your tricks!"
"That's enough," declared Phineas indignantly. "It's the straw that pancaked
the camel. I'll be there loaded down with bells."
"Oh, you will, will you?" Garrity sniffed. "What have I told you about your cockeyed
private wars, huh? If you ever leave this drome alone again, you won't be able to
vote for twenty years. What do you think of that, Mr. Pinkham?"
"I would git forty years if I told ya," Phineas countered with a bearish growl.
"Awright, find Bismarck yourself. I wash my hands of the whole aff'airs!" He huffed
up, swore, then strode out on the group. "Haw-w-w-w!" he laughed privately. "Who
wants to vote?"
All that night, G.H.Q. at Chaumont was like a haunted house. Brass Hats gnawed
at their fingernails. They walked about with mouths half-open and ears cocked for
the sound of Bismarck's ghostly footsteps. Wires buzzed all over the Front. Bombing
squadrons were ordered to patrol the nocturnal canopy and keep a sharp lookout for
ghosts. To sum it -all up, the Allied big shots had a bad case of the jitters.
Morning came, and brought no news of Herr Bismarck. The pursuit and reconnaissance
ships began to shake off the dew and start in the day's work. From a drome six miles
away from the Ninth Pursuit a trio of Salmson two-seaters took off and headed for
Germany. Captain Brophy led the way. Over Verdun, he argued the right of way with
six Pfalz Scouts. After the tracer smoke had cleared away, one Salmson limped home.
Another was still up, but not for long. Captain Brophy, with two Boche hard on his
tail, slipped into German territory and landed dead stick not a mile and a half
from the Staffel of Rittmeister von Schnoutz.
"Well," said Brophy, "that's that! I'll have to buy a history to read about the
rest of the gare. Ho, hum!" And with his arms held high, he climbed out of the Salmson.
The news of the descendu naturally caused quite a flurry on the drome of Staffel
7. The Rittmeister von Schnoutz, with two of his iron-jawed Vons, went out to look
over the two-place ship. Right away the Rittmeister hit upon a devilish idea.
"Ach, Himmel," he exclaimed with a lop-sided grin, "der trick iss idt, ja! Tomorrow
afternoon, Rittmeister von Schnoutz vill go oop by Fresnes to fight Pingham. Und,
Herren der ship idt iss there. Ve paindt it ofer und I be der obserfer und Leuinamt
Hassenschwab he flies idt. Pingham cooms close und - vhere iss it the clothes of
the Amerikaner pilots? Coats und helmets only moost I haff. Gedt them - mach schnell!
Ach, vhen I giff der laugh at der Herr Oberst, it shouldt be in his fat face. So!"
Even as Captain Brophy and his observer were being stripped of their regalia,
Phineas sat hived up in his hut, endeavoring to work out a plan of attack. In one
corner of the hut stood an old blunderbuss that he had filched from a deserted chateau.
It had been put into working order and kept oiled. Phineas gave it his undivided
"I'll fix it up under the undercarriage," he said to his own attentive ears.
"An' it's all loaded. Once the bum gits under me, I'll just pull a string. Haw-w-w-w!"
Fate was also pulling strings and fashioning one of the craziest webs of circumstance
in her repertoire. All the next morning, the Rittmeister von Schnoutz patrolled
the lines in the Salmson two-seater. Only when he needed petrol did he leave the
"Mit der ship ve shouldt practice," he laughed at some Junkers. "Ve shouldt be
in good fettles und see the Amerikaner styles, nein? Ach, t'ree o'clock I make idt
der history yedt!"
A Flight was patrolling-at two-thirty. Phineas came up to his Spad, holding the
blunderbuss close to his side. Captain Howell got a look at it when Phineas was
placing his burden in the bit.
"Throw that out," he howled. "Wait until I see the Old Man. What're you up to
"Is it my fault Spads don't have guns enough on 'em?" inquired Phineas pleasantly.
"I have made complaints about it, but nothin' is done. Well, I have got a right
to protect myself at all times. There is nothin' in the flyin' manuals that says
Howell shook his head with disgust.
At three-thirty, a Salmson two-seater circled high over Presnes. Von Schnoutz
crouched behind a Lewis gun and swept the heavens with glittering optics. Soon he
saw the dot in the sky. It loomed up bigger and bigger, yet he did not attack. He
knew that Phineas would come close to investigate, and he was not far wrong.
"Git out of the sky!" roared the Yankee warrior as he gunned in. "This is a private
fight an' -" He looked at the watch on his wrist. Quarter to four. "Wh-why, the
fathead didn't show up. He's no place in sight. Well, the scared cat! An' I got
in a sling for nothin'. Huh, them bums in the Salmson scared him away, I bet. Well,
I'll tell them plenty."
Phineas, unaware of the trap, gunned in close. Rat-a-tat-tat! The Spad heaved,
then bounced around as a swarm of slugs cut across the dash and ripped hunks out
of Phineas' flying coat.
"Why, the dirty bums!" yowled Phineas, trying to get the Spad out of a convulsion.
"I'll see G.H.Q. about this. Shootin' at - er - why I catch on! Von Schnoutz!"
As he spoke, another blast kicked off a wing tip. Flying better than he knew
how, Phineas hopped to a spot where he caught a momentary flash of the Salmson's
blind spot. He yanked a string. Nothing happened.
"Why, wasn't it loaded?" he stammered. "Oh, I kin see a gold star in the winder
back in Boonetown."
"Ve gedt him," yipped von Schnoutz. "Der Tag idt coomes. I giff it yedt vun burst
to finish oop und - Ach, Himmel, am shodt vunce !" The Rittmeister dropped his Lewis
grip and clawed at his ribs. "There iss no hole, budt - vhat ist das?" This time
he clutched at his tail assembly.
"Shoodt!" his pilot yipped. "Herr Rittmeister, vhy you don'dt shoodt der Spad,
eh? Almost idt iss kapoot - ach, Donnervetter!" The pilot seemed to leap straight
up in the air. "Shodt iss idt! Himmel, how ist das? Idt feels like der tracer gets
"Why," yipped Phineas from his riddled Spad, "lookit them bums wiggle. Haw-w-w-w!
I get it. They got Brophy's Salmson. They took them coats. And in 'em are them bees,
an' I bet they're all recovered for the summer season. Haw-w-w-w!" And Phineas slammed
lead into the Salmson's short ribs.
Herr Pinkham had diagnosed the situation correctly. Just as his Vickers guns
boomed, a honey bee crawled to a soft patch of white under a Boche undershirt and
sat down hard to test out its tailskid. The Rittmeister howled again, and dug a
hand inside his coat. More bees emerged from the lining and found their way to choice
pickings. Three of the social insects decided upon a joint attack. The onslaught
lifted von Schnoutz almost out of the Salmson.
"How doth the busy bee improve each shinin' hour!" yipped Phineas.
"Himmel," bawled the Rittmeister. "Down by der groundt geschnell vunce, Otto.
It giffs spasms. Ach, Donnervetter, was ist das? Otto, Dunnkopf, stop der joompin'
und gedt der stick vunce. Ow-w-w-w !"
"You t'ink I joost fool mit you, nein?" the pilot lashed out "Needles I am filled
up mit. Ow-w-w-w-w!"
"Haw-w-w-w!" guffawed their Yankee adversary, shooting an elevator from the Salmson's
tail. "They're committin' insecticide!"
"Down mit, Otto!" reiterated von Schnoutz. "All filled up mit holes I am, und
you - look vunce, Otto. Turn und look by your neck. Der bee iss idt. Himmel, like
der hife I am!" He pounded at his torso with both fists. The counter-attack under
his shirt twisted him into a pretzel as he tried to reach five places on his anatomy
at the same time.
Br-r-r-r-r-rt! The Salmson shook, jerked up its nose, then headed down fast.
"Ach, I shouldt giff vun care, ja!" cried the Rittmeister. "Das ist gut. Go down
qvick. Ach, Gott, Otto, der Pingham is iss nodt human efen like Herr Bismarck. How
he knows us, hein? How he gedts the bees by the shirts und the pants oop here, hein?
Only der deffil -"
Crash! The Salmson pancaked, bounced and vaulted over a hedge into a duck pond.
"Ach, das ist gut!" gurgled the Rittmeister as he came to the surface. "Sooch
ein pleasure yedt. Otto, vhere ist you adt, hein?"
Bubbles came up at his side. Von Schnoutz reached down and lifted Otto Hassenschwab
to the surface .
"Let go vunce," the observer coughed up with a quart of muddy water. "Who says
I vant to coom oop? Ach!" And he dived under once more.
As to Phineas - there was little holding up the Spad save two struts and a wing
and a half. The Boonetown pilot had to get down in a hurry, and it had to be on
the Kraut side. He landed the wreck close to a thicket, crawled out and ducked for
cover. There he remained until after dark.
"I wonder how the Vons are." The Yank grinned speculatively as he crawled out
of the thicket. "It's a good thing me an' Brophy did not understand each other,
haw-w-w!" From the shelter of a big rock he scanned the vicinity. A flare went up,
lighted the sky - an Allied flare. "Why, I ain't far from where the main tent is,"
he decided. Another flare went up. A hill possibly half a mile to the left was bathed
in its calcium glare, and Phineas caught a glimpse of the ruins of a church.
"That place looks familiar," he said. "I think I'll take a look. It's where that
fourgon was with the Kraut officers."
It was a slow trip to the hill. Four times Phineas came near enough to Boche
to reach out and take the pipes out of their mouths. Crawling and squirming, the
Boonetown miracle man finally came to the wreck of a Kraut ambulance. He hit his
knee against a heavy object, groped for it. A star shell went up and Phineas looked
at the label.
"Hm" he mused "it's Greek to me but I but it is soup. I'll maybe need it. Ha,
there's another." Carrying both, Phineas crawled on up the hill until he heard Kraut
voices dangerously close. He hugged against something and his face touched cold,
rusty iron. Voices seemed to vibrate from it, and Phineas' jaw dropped. Right at
his nose was a crack of light. Shifting his position, he put an eye to the crack
and almost let out a yelp. Inside, in what seemed to be an old machine gun nest,
were three Heinies. Close to them was a waxen bust of Bismarck from which was draped
a long cape.
"Why, the fakirs," snarled Phineas. The voices of the Boche were distinct now.
"It giffs fife minoots und you go oop. Herr Leutnant;" a monocled Teuton chuckled.
"You vill point der vay to the Yangkee trenches. I bedt the Dumkopfs fight tonighdt,
hein? I vill be readty mit der shmoke und der lighdt."
The place was very cramped. Phineas knew that there were no more of the enemy
about. There was but one way to get in - the elephant-iron door against which he
squatted - but he knew he would get filled with holes like a sieve before he could
step inside. His fingers strayed to one of the cans he had discovered.
"Now maybe I'm wrong," he told himself, "but why should ambulances be carryin'
soup? Maybe it's -" He reached inside his leather coat for a clasp knife. Baring
a blade, he dug it viciously into the top of one of the cans. "Ah-h," he gasped.
"By cripes, it is!" He held his nose.
"You hear somet'ing?" a Teuton voice whispered hoarsely.
"Nein, the joomps haff you again, Seidlitz," was the reply.
Phineas, holding his breath, placed the hole in the can over the narrow opening
through which he had squinted into the nest, and dumped the contents slowly. Working
swiftly, he followed up the same action with the second can. Then he slumped down
and picked up a heavy rock.
"Der shmell in here iss mooch bad, hein? I gedt sleepy, ja."
"Take der nap, Heinrich. I shouldt nodt needt you yedt und - ach! I could nodt
holdt der head oop. Ach du lieber, somet'ing iss rotten. Ve go oudt, Seidlitz. Mach'
"The or-r-ders you forgedt, hein?
From der H-High Com - shtay mit, ach, der shmell I know - but ah-h-hhum!"
Minutes passed before Phineas peered inside the machine-gun nest. When he did
so, he saw that the one candle was flickering out and that three Heinies were huddled
in a corner struggling with Morpheus. Stifling a laugh, the Boonetown wonder slowly
opened the iron door enough to allow him to wriggle in. As it shut to, a Kraut stirred.
"Go 'vay," he said. "Der time to milch the cows iss nodt yedt, Mutter! Ah-h-h
"That's strong ether the Heinies make." Phineas grinned as he picked up the ghost
of Bismarck. "Huh, it fits over the head an' it just fits me. I can look out an
opening in the front of the cape. What a bunch of double-crossers them Heinie brass
hats are! Maybe Bismarck will take a walk to the Yankee trenches. Maybe I kin git
away with it without the halo. Lead on, Count. Haw-w-w-w!"
A Jerry sentry rubbed his eyes and looked toward the hill. As he did, the Yanks
sent up more flares. Bathed in the light was a great robed figure. Bismarck!
"Gott! Hans, Emil, Gus!" he shouted. "Look vunce. He iss here mit!"
A Heinie officer looked and smirked. "Ah, he cooms. I tell you, ja?" he shouted
down the trench. "Look, he shows der vay. He valks right out to der - ach, for vhy
does he do idt, hein? Himmel, somet'ing iss badt!" He ran down into a dugout and
tried to get a message through to the hill. There was no answer. Back he came, yelling
to a machine gunner.
"Shoodt, Dumkopt!" He yowled. "Shoodt at him!"
"Vh-a-a-t? Shoodt Herr Bismarck? Nein, Herr Leutnant!"
"Giff vun look," barked the officer. "Look! Bismarck puts der thumb by der nose!"
"Haw-w-w-w-w!" the booming laugh echoed in the eerie stillness as Phineas made
a dive for an advanced Yankee trench where three doughs crouched, too surprised
"Wha-a-at are ya, huh?" squeaked a dough as Phineas slumped down. "Cripes, his
head is off! To hell with it, I'm gittin' outa here!"
"I am Lieutenant Phineas Pinkham," was the response. "Did I fool them bums! Git
me to a officer's hangout, as have I exposed the fakirs! They better attack, as
them Heinies are a set-up now. You could not make them fight for their wives right
Back at the Ninth Pursuit Squadron, the telephone jangled. Major Garrity lifted
the phone listlessly. Anxious pilots stuck their heads in through the door and waited.
They saw the Old Man stiffen like a ramrod and make funny sounds in his larynx.
"Wha-a-a-at?" he gasped. "No-o-o! Huh? Wha-a-a-at?" When he clamped the receiver
back on its hook, he went limp like a bunch of beet tops.
"Has Carbuncle been killed?" gulped Bump Gillis. "Von Sch-"
"They found B-Bismarck," Garrity murmured, staring straight ahead like a ventriloquist's
dummy. "Phineas was inside of him. He just spoke to me. Huh, git Goomer, the mess
monkey. Pinkham sent him a message."
"Ah, he's crocked," moaned Howell. "Plain nuts. But call Glad Tidin's, anyway.
We gotta humor him."
Goomer was routed out of his bunk and brought in wrapped in a blanket.
"Y-yes, sir," he stammered. "What did I do, huh? If it's about that gun Lieutenant
Pinkham took, I seen it there one day an' unloaded it, as you can't tell about them
things. They go off when they're loaded."
"Phineas says to tell you you were right about what a prank will do, Goomer,"
Garrity intoned. "He said if he hadn't made a date for Brophy with a dame, he would
not have had the chickens tied on his Spad an' he wouldn't have got mad an' put
bees in Brophy's coat and von Schnoutz would've shot him full of holes if it weren't
for the bees in Brophy's coat an' he wouldn't have fell right close to where Bismarck
was at and he wouldn't have found the cans of ether and the Yanks wouldn't have
taken three miles of Kraut -"
"Bump," said Howell solemnly, "git a medico quick as he's ravin'. I knew it.
You can't blame him if he's gone nuts. Cripes !"
Illustrated by the Author
Posted May 6, 2023