“Worse than I ever thought,” admitted Jack grimly. “But after all nothing came of his lovely scheme; nor did it matter, since he’s given me the slip, and is right now almost a third of the way across the sea. I’m like a race-horse left at the post.”
“Whatever you do, Jack, don’t lose the fine courage that has been your mainstay through other troubles,” Nellie said, as she laid a hand on his arm and looked steadfastly into the young air-pilot’s face.
“Thank you, Nellie, for your confidence in me,” he continued, showing some of his old spirit again. “I ought to be ashamed to give in so easily. Yes, Tom and I have been in plenty of bad scrapes, and pulled out just because we set our teeth and refused to admit we were down and out. So I’m going to try the same dodge in this case, and not acknowledge defeat until the ninth inning is through, and the last man down.”
“Good-bye, both of you, and remember, no matter what comes some of us are always thinking of you and praying for your safety.”
With these words, long remembered by both boys, Nellie gave each of them her hand, and hurried away before they could see how her eyes dimmed with the gathering mists.
“A brave girl,” said Tom, with considerable vigor, as he tenderly watched her retreating figure and waved his hand when he saw her turn to blow a farewell kiss in their direction.
“Yes,” said Jack, heaving a sigh. “She and Bessie seem to be our good angels in this bad mess of war, Tom. I feel better after hearing her words of encouragement; but all the same I’m still groping in the dark. How am I going to beat Randolph across the Atlantic? For once I wish I had wings, and might fly across the sea like a bird. How quickly I’d make the start.”
GROPING FOR LIGHT
Tom realized that for once his chum was completely broken up, and hardly knew which way to turn for help. This told him that if anything were done to relieve the desperate situation it would have to originate with him.
“Stick to your programme, Jack, and don’t give up the ship. Until you know that Randolph has reached the other side, and entered into possession of the property, there’s still some hope left.”
“Yes, a fighting chance. And I must hang to it like a leech,” admitted the other, trying to smile, but making a sorry mess of it.
“How do we know what the good fairy may do for you, so as to outwit the villain of the piece?” continued Tom. “While it isn’t a pleasant thing to speak of, still some marauding undersea boat may lie in wait for his ship, and in the sinking who can tell what fate may overtake your cousin?”
“It would only serve him right if he did go down like others, a thousand times nobler than Randolph, have done before now,” grumbled Jack; and somehow the vague possibility excited him, for his eyes began to sparkle and take on a look that told Tom he was seeing the whole thing before his mental vision.