“Glad to hear it, Major,” Tom remarked. “But please explain why you are worried about Beverly.”
“That is,” continued the officer, “because an explosion was heard, coming from the south, just a short time ago. Everybody believes it must be the airdrome sheltering the dirigible Britain sent over here for use, and which lies further down the coast. But, much as I hate to say it, I fear something serious has happened to Beverly’s hangar; in fact that a bomb has destroyed it, or else some rank Hun treachery has been at work there!”
READY FOR THE START
“Just our beastly luck!” gasped Jack, turning white with apprehension.
“Wait, we haven’t any proof as yet,” advised Tom. “The Major himself admits that he’s only afraid it may have been Beverly’s hangar. Hasn’t anything been done to learn the truth, sir?”
“Oh, yes,” came the quick reply. “A number of cars have gone down that way, but the road’s in a shocking condition, and up to now none of them has returned to advise us. I’d be very sorry if it turned out as I fear, doubly so if Beverly himself were injured or killed, because I’m fond of the chap, don’t you know.”
“Let’s hope everything is all right,” said Tom, as composedly as possible. “And first of all I’d like to get through the business part of our errand here. I have the packet to deliver for our general. Then the machine must be turned over to a representative of our Government here. After all that’s attended to we’ll strike out for the Beverly hangar.”
“I’ll be pleased to take you there personally, if you like,” remarked Major Denning.
“And we’ll accept your offer with thanks, sir. It is very kind of you,” said Tom, at the same time wondering what the other would say when he made the astounding discovery that the object of the expedition was even more ambitious than a mere flight to Berlin and back; that indeed the daring adventurers meant to attempt a record voyage across the Atlantic by air such as would vie with that of Columbus.
Jack fell into a fever of suspense again, and counted the minutes that must be consumed in carrying out the business in hand. Tom was exceedingly scrupulous concerning this.
“The general was kind enough to give us a good push on our way here,” he told Jack, when the latter continued to fret and hint about “cutting off corners” in order to hasten their getting away. “We’re bound to do our part of the job right up to the handle. Besides, what do ten or twenty minutes amount to?”
When Tom announced himself satisfied night had settled on the land. Dunkirk had for long been annoyed by the fire of a long-range monster gun, shells dropping into the city at stated intervals for weeks at a time.
So, too, hostile airplanes had hovered over the Channel port, trying to make it unpleasant for the British Tommies in camp near by. But since Marshal Foch opened operations on a large scale, together with the furious drive of General Pershing’s army, this had altogether ceased.