“That you, Tom, Jack?” came a voice.
“Hello, Beverly!” Jack burst out impulsively. “We’ve come all the way by air. What’s going on around here; nothing serious happened, I hope?”
“Rest easy on that score, boys,” the other replied, still advancing.
“Then the machine is still ready for business, is it?” cried Jack.
“In apple-pie order, down to the last drop of juice, and ready to do the builders proud. But I’m mighty glad to see you, boys, I surely am. Afraid there’d be some hitch at the last minute from your end.”
“And,” said Tom, wringing the other’s hand, “Jack has been picturing all sorts of terrible things happening to you and the plane here, near Dunkirk. He’s as happy as a clam at high tide right now, I assure you.”
“You bet I am!” Jack cried explosively, gripping the fingers of the lieutenant with great enthusiasm.
“Why, hello! who’s this but my English cousin, Major Denning?” cried Beverly, discovering that his two chums were not alone.
“Thought it best to steer them to you, and take no chances of a miss,” explained the officer. “Besides, to tell you the truth, I fancied seeing you start off on your long contemplated trip to wake up Berlin. Once I was in hopes I might even have the opportunity of accompanying you. I’ve a score to settle with the beast for knocking a hole in my London house and frightening my aunt almost into fits. At least you’ll let me wish you bon voyage, Beverly.”
Tom said nothing. He realized that the major had no inkling of the real purpose of the flight about to be undertaken; and if he was to be told the facts the information must come from Lieutenant Beverly himself.
“Oh! By the way, that Berlin trip will have to wait,” chuckled the lieutenant, making up his mind that a clean breast of the whole matter must follow. “Fact is, Major, we’re after larger game than that would prove to be; something calculated to stagger you a bit, I think.”
“You’re certainly puzzling me by what you say, Colin,” declared the major, betraying a growing curiosity in voice and manner. “I’d like to know for a fact what you could call larger game than a non-stop flight to Berlin and back, starting from the Channel here. Are you planning a trip to the moon, after Jules Verne’s yarn?”
“No. But something that has as yet never been attempted,” came the steady reply. “It is a flight across the Atlantic to America in the big bomber plane, and starting this very night!”
THE LONG FLIGHT BEGUN
Major Denning was greatly astonished when Lieutenant Beverly made so astounding an assertion.
“Well, I wouldn’t put anything past you Yankees,” he presently remarked, with a dry chuckle. “But this is something of a Herculean task you’re planning, Colin. A flight of over three thousand miles is a greater undertaking than any plane has so far been able to carry through. And if you should meet with trouble, the jig is up with you all!”