OUT FOR BUSINESS
“Look! What does that mean, Tom?”
“It means that fellow wants to ruin the Yankee plane, and perhaps finish the flier who went down with it to the ground.”
“Not if we can prevent it, I say. Take a nosedive, Tom, and leave it to me to manage the gun!”
“He isn’t alone, Jack, for I saw a second skulker in the brush, I’m sure.”
“We’ve got to drive those jackals away, no matter at what risk. Go to it, Tom, old scout!”
The big battle-plane, soaring fully two thousand feet above the earth, suddenly turned almost upside-down, so that its nose pointed at an angle close to forty-five degrees. Like a hawk plunging after its prey it sped through space, the two occupants held in their places by safety belts.
As they thus rushed downward the earth seemed as if rising to meet them. Just at the right second Tom Raymond, by a skillful flirt of his hand, brought the Yankee fighting aircraft back to an even keel, with a beautiful gliding movement.
Immediately the steady throb of the reliable motor took up its refrain, while the buzz of the spinning propellers announced that the plane was once more being shot through space by artificial means.
The two occupants were Tom Raymond and Jack Parmly, firm friends and chums who had been like David and Jonathan in their long association. It was Tom who acted as pilot on the present occasion, while Jack took the equally important position of observer and gunner.
Both were young Americans with a natural gift in the line of aviation. They had won their spurs while serving under French leadership as members of the famous Lafayette Escadrille. The adventures they encountered at that time are related in the first book of this series, entitled: “Air Service Boys Flying For France.”
After America entered the war, like all other adventurous young Yankee fliers, the two Air Service Boys offered their services to their own country and joined one of the new squadrons then being formed.
Here the two youths won fresh laurels, and both were well on the way to be recognized “aces” by the time Pershing’s army succeeded in fighting its way through the nests of machine-gun traps that infested the great Argonne Forest.
It was in the autumn of the victory year, 1918, and the German armies were being pushed back all along the line from Switzerland to the sea. Under the skillful direction of Marshal Foch, the Allies had been dealing telling and rapid blows, now here, now there.
To-day it was the British that struck; the day afterward the French advanced their front; and next came the turn of the Americans under Pershing. Everywhere the discouraged and almost desperate Huns were being forced in retreat, continually drawing closer to the border.
Already the sanguine young soldiers from overseas were talking of spending the winter on the Rhine. Some even went so far as to predict that their next Christmas dinner would be eaten in Berlin. It was no idle boast, for they believed it might be so, because victory was in the very air.