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HOME > Classical Novels > Bill Bolton and the Flying Fish > Chapter VI THE RAIDER
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 Half a mile or so ahead of Bill’s plane, the great sea monster, the Flying Fish, leveled off at an altitude of twenty-five hundred feet, and headed out on a northeasterly course.  
Bill continued to climb his amphibian until they too reached that height, then he spoke to Charlie again.
“Now that we’re high enough, I’ve got to make a right turn in order to follow that ship. So I push my stick slowly forward, drop the nose to level like this, and maintain it there throughout the turn. Next I give her right aileron and increase right rudder considerably at the same time.”
“And we’ve gone into a bank. I see.” Charlie unconsciously leant toward the raised wing.
“That’s it. And now that I’ve tilted her far enough, I check the wing with the ailerons, and at the same time ease the pressure on the rudder. I maintain a constant bank, you see, and a constant pressure on the rudder bar throughout the turn.
“Now we are round to where we want to go, so I resume level flight by applying left aileron and left rudder. The wings are level once more, so I neutralize the ailerons and give her a normal amount of right rudder. And we’re pointed in a direct line for the Flying Fish!”
“Gosh, but there’s an awful lot to it,” muttered Charlie into his transmitter. “Looks so simple and easy when you’re on the ground, watching a plane flying. How do you ever remember it all?”
“Oh, at first it’s a bit confusing, until you get the hang of the thing—but it soon becomes second nature to do the right trick. When you come to fly you’ll find that there isn’t time for slow thinking in the air. In fact, as my instructor used to say, a flyer must develop instinctive coordination between the sensory organs and the muscles.”
“You can’t prove it by me!”
“Well, it simply means that when flying a pilot must act quicker than he can think.”
“Humph! Like Dad does when he gets mad and gives me a walloping.”
Bill laughed heartily. “Hair brush or slipper?”
“Oh, I always get the hair brush. He can get a better grip on it. But I get a choice at that—back or bristles.”
“I should think that bristles might be the less unpleasant.”
“So did I. Just once. Never again, though. I had to carry a pillow around with me for a week after that session.”
“If I,” remarked Bill, “had your imagination, Charlie, I’d be worth more than John D. Rockefeller!”
For a time they kept silence, unbroken save for the humming drone of the engine.
“I wonder where that hideaway is we were talking about?” Charlie said after a while.
“Well, it isn’t located on our coast, if we’re bound there now. This plane is pointing straight for Northern Europe.”
“Gee! Do you really think we’re going across—making a trans-Atlantic flight?”
“Not a chance, kid, with the gas we’ve got aboard this crate. If you ask me, the Flying Fish is heading for a mother ship of some sort. This gang will have to operate from a steamer if they have no land base. Slap on those sea glasses you were using and take a squint dead ahead beyond the Fish—Smoke on the horizon, isn’t there?”
“Sure is. Yes, I can make it out plainly now. Say, you don’t realize how fast we’re traveling until you get a bead on something in the distance. The ship is still hull down, but the smoke seems to be getting denser—”
“I can see it now,” said Bill, giving the amphibian more altitude in order to gain a better view. “That’s no single-stacker, or I’m a landsman.”
“You’re right—she isn’t! I can see—one—two—three—four funnels! Jingoes! She must be a whopper!”
“I wonder,” muttered Bill, half to himself.
“What? But I can see—”
“Oh, I’m not doubting your word, Charles.”
“What are you wondering about then?”
“Remember the Amtonia?”
“Amtonia? Why, she’s the big British liner that was held up at sea a couple of months ago!”
“Yes. A freighter SOS’d and when the Amtonia went to offer help, the crew of the tramp forced the liner’s crew and passengers to swap steamers. Then they made off with the big ship.”
“Sure, I remember all about that. Harry Davis’ dad was on the Amtonia, coming home from England, when it happened. It was in the papers but I got the inside dope from Harry. His old man told him all about it.”
“Dollars to a dead stick, you’ll be able to tell Harry Davis more about the Amtonia than he ever dreamed of, one of these days.”
“You mean—that ship over there is the Amtonia?”
“Exactly. See—she’s hove to now—and the Flying Fish is nosing over for a landing!”
The two in the speeding amphibian saw the Flying Fish descend in a long glide to the surface of the ocean and taxi toward the great steamer.
“She’s the Amtonia, all right, all right!” said Bill.
“Gosh, she’s big. What’s her tonnage?”
“Twenty-five thousand tons, I think.”
“Whew!—Say, listen, do you suppose Mother and Dad are on board her now?”
“I shouldn’t be surprised if your Mother and Father and some other boys’ papas and mammas, along with them.”
“That is, unless business in the ransom line is bad.”
“Which,” said Bill, “considering the number of passengers watching us and the Flying Fish from her decks—it isn’t. Shut up now, kid,” he added, cutting his gun and pushing forward the stick. “We’re going down and it sure would look rotten to nose into the drink with that gallery’s eyes on us.”
“Humph! And what about us in that case?”
“Boston papers,” said Bill, “please copy!”
Down they soared, straight into the wind to land with hardly a splash, went skimming over the water for fifty or sixty yards and came to rest just behind the Flying Fish. Charlie, at Bill’s bidding, flung out the sea anchor.
To port lay the Amtonia, now Baron von Hiemskirk’s traffic raider, and neither lad was surprised to see that she was blatantly flying the flag of piracy, a skull and crossed bones of white on a black field.
Bill had no difficulty in recognizing the Amtonia. She was one of the largest passenger ships afloat, and consequently hard to disguise. Her camouflaged hull and stacks, painted in broad wavy stripes of grey-green and black made it still harder to judge her length on the waterline. He knew, however, that she must be quite as long as two city blocks, and her many decks rose above the amphibian to the height of a ten-story building. Her four gigantic funnels—so huge that the greatest locomotive could have passed through one of them lengthwise without scraping—and her tall masts, made her easily recognizable to the young midshipman.
“Hello!” exclaimed Charlie, “there’s a gob on the Flying Fish signalling the liner. Gee, I wish I understood wigwag.”
“If you did,” said Bill, standing up on the pilot’s seat and flapping his arms like a semaphore, “you’d know he was signalling us and not the Amtonia. For heaven’s sake, kid, button that lip of yours. I want to get this message.”
Bill then snatched up the helmet he had just doffed and clapped it on again, buckling the flaps over his ears. Charlie watched proceedings with interest that for once was wordless. Presently the sailor aboard the Flying Fish stopped waving his two red flags. Bill answered him with his arms, and the man rolled up his flags and went below.
Bill Bolton unbuckled the chin-strap of his helmet and turned toward the rear cockpit.
“Snap on that safety belt and put on your helmet again,” he ordered, “and don’t take it off this time until I tell you to. We are going aboard.”
“Aboard what?”
“The Amtonia, of course.”
“But how can I go aboard that liner if I’m tied to this seat?”
“Wait and see—I’m too busy to talk now—even if you’re not!”
Bill got down, started the engine idling and commenced to haul in their sea anchor.
Charlie stood up in the rear cockpit and called to him.
“Hey, Bill!”
“Well, what is it now?”
“How are we going aboard if I’m to be tied up in this belt?”
“Great jumping snakes!” exploded Bill, with a furious glance over his shoulder. “Have you still got that safety-belt on the brain?”
“No—around the middle!”
“For a counterfeit two-cent piece with a hole in it, I’d throw you into the Atlantic and let you swim aboard!”
“Aw, please tell me, Bill!”
“Well, if you must know each detail, we’re going aboard by way of the electric crane—”
“Aw, quit yer kidding—there ain’t any electric trains out here!”
“Not train, bozo—c-r-a-n-e—hoist!”
“Oh! an electric crane! Are they going to hoist us up?”
“That,” said Bill, as he stowed away their mooring, “is the usual procedure when cranes are used. Sometimes up—sometimes down—and—chew on this one thoughtfully, for this is the point of the story: Sometimes when the tackle slips on a haul, there is a tendency to slip sideways. And then, little chatterbox, since it is this amphibian which is to be hauled upward, and you who will be sitting in said amphibian—the aforementioned safety belt is likely to prove mighty useful. Now do you savez?”
“Yup. But my teacher usta tell me that a straight line is the shortest distance between two points.”
“And when,” replied Bill with a grin, “you want to make a home run, it is absolutely necessary to touch all three bases and the plate!”
“Oh, yeah? Well, I think it’s pretty tough when a feller can’t open his mouth without bein’ told to pipe down every other minute!”
“Cheer up, Charles. It’s a long worm—you know. And you’ve got this one on his back with your chatter. The Baron said that this was war, and I, for one, believe he’s right!”
“And,” Charlie chortled, “Sherman said that war was—”
“All that and more. Nothing slow about you when it comes to pickup. Well, there’s the crane showing topside. Reckon I’d better feed the old girl a little more gas and mosey over there.”

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