Then, lost and beyond all guidance, it somersaulted, slid away down a long drop and, whirling wildly over and over, plunged with Gabriel into the glowing, smoking, detonating void!
TERROR AND RETREAT.
When, despite Flint’s imperative orders, Slade failed to reopen the lines of communication for him, before nightfall, and when President Supple wired in code for a little more time in obeying Air Trust orders, the Billionaire recognized that something of terrible menace now had suddenly broken in upon his dream of universal power.
He summoned Waldron and Herzog for another conference and together they feverishly planned to put the works under defense, until such time as troops could be got through to them.
The plant regiment was mustered and the Cosmos mercenaries and scabs were made ready. The machine-guns were unlimbered for action and large quantities of ammunition were delivered to them and to the aerial-bomb guns, as nightfall lowered. Herzog set eight hundred men to work covering all the tanks possible, with wire netting of heavy steel. The search-lights were all ordered into use; steam and electrical connections were made, the air-fleet was manned, and everything was done that unlimited wealth and bitter hate of the Workers could suggest.
With curses on the fog, which hid the upper air from view, the old man now stood at one of the west windows of his inner office—the office on the top floor of the main Administration Building, overlooking nearly the whole Plant.
“Damn the weather!” he snarled, his gold teeth glinting. “In addition to all this mist from the Falls, there’s a regular cloud-bank settling down, tonight! Under cover of it, what may not happen? Nothing could have been worse, Waldron. Though we shall soon control the air, that won’t be enough, so long as fogs and mists escape us. Our next problem—hello! Now what the devil’s that?”
“What’s what?” retorted Waldron, testily. He had been drinking rather more heavily than usual, that day, both because of the dull weather and because the Falls invariably got on his nerves, during his brief sojourns there. Away from New York and his favorite haunts, Waldron was lost. “What’s what?” he repeated with an ugly look. “This roaring, glaring, trembling place gives me—”
“That! That light in the sky!” cried Flint, excitedly pointing. “See? No—it’s gone now! But it looked like—like a rocket! A signal, of some kind, thrown from an aeroplane! A—”
Waldron laughed harshly.
“Seeing things, eh?” he sneered, coming across to the window, himself, and peering out. “I don’t see anything! Nothing here to worry about, Flint. With all these walls and guns, and netting, and air-ships and a private army and all, what more do you want? Not getting nervous in your old age, are you, eh?” he gibed bitterly. “Or is your conscience beginning to wake up, as the graveyard becomes more a probability than—”