She had not been flying high, but now she swooped down almost like a gull, seeking to rest on the water. We were headed toward her now, and as the flying boat sank I saw one of the passengers rise in his seat, swing his arm, and far out something splashed in the bay.
On the water, with wings helpless, the flying boat was no match for the Streamline now. She struck at an acute angle, rebounded in the air for a moment, and with a hiss skittered along over the waves, planing with the help of her exhaust under the step of the boat.
There she was, a hull, narrow, scow-bowed, like a hydroplane, with a long pointed stern and a cockpit for two men, near the bow. There were two wide, winglike planes, on a light latticework of wood covered with silk, trussed and wired like a kite frame, the upper plane about five feet above the lower, which was level with the boat deck. We could see the eight-cylindered engine which drove a two-bladed wooden propeller, and over the stern were the air rudder and the horizontal planes. There she was, the hobbled steed now of the phantom bandit who had accomplished the seemingly impossible.
In spite of everything, however, the flying boat reached the shore a trifle ahead of us. As she did so both figures in her jumped, and one disappeared quickly up the bank, leaving the other alone.
“Verplanck, McNeill—get him,” cried Kennedy, as our own boat grated on the beach. “Come, Walter, we’ll take the other one.”
The man had seen that there was no safety in flight. Down the shore he stood, without a hat, his hair blown pompadour by the wind.
As we approached Carter turned superciliously, unbuttoning his bulky khaki life preserver jacket.
“Well?” he asked coolly.
Not for a moment did Kennedy allow the assumed coolness to take him back, knowing that Carter’s delay did not cover the retreat of the other man.
“So,” Craig exclaimed, “you are the—the air pirate?”
Carter disdained to reply.
“It was you who suggested the millionaire households, full of jewels, silver and gold, only half guarded; you, who knew the habits of the people; you, who traded that information in return for another piece of thievery by your partner, Australia Mac— Wickham he called himself here in Bluffwood. It was you—–”
A car drove up hastily, and I noted that we were still on the Hollingsworth estate. Mrs. Hollingsworth had seen us and had driven over toward us.
“Montgomery!” she cried, startled.
“Yes,” said Kennedy quickly, “air pirate and lawyer for Mrs. Verplanck in the suit which she contemplated bringing—”
Mrs. Hollingsworth grew pale under the ghastly, flickering light from the bay.
“Oh!” she cried, realizing at what Kennedy hinted, “the letters!”
“At the bottom of the harbor, now,” said Kennedy. “Mr. Verplanck tells me he has destroyed his. The past is blotted out as far as that is concerned. The future is—for you three to determine. For the present I’ve caught a yeggman and a blackmailer.”