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HOME > Classical Novels > Bill Bolton and the Flying Fish > Chapter VII ABOARD
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 The Amtonia had stopped her engines and now lay broadside on to the gentle groundswell. Bill landed to of the great ship, and taxied the upwind to a point off her leeward quarter. Then he shut off his motor and when the plane’s carried her to within a few yards of the , towering high above the little aircraft, he ordered Charlie to fling out the sea anchor. Their drift, of course, was to leeward, so the manoeuver brought them nose on to the ship’s side, directly below the long arm of the .  
In order that seaplanes may be taken aboard ships, flying boats are provided with . Bill’s craft being an amphibian, was equipped with retractible landing gear, operated electrically from the cockpits. But inasmuch as the Amtonia boasted no deck upon which an airplane might land, the hoist was the only means available.
A heaving line was cast to the amphibian as soon as her stopped, and made secure while Bill and Charlie worked like to secure the wing lines. That , the lads broke out the , and after considerable trouble, passed it completely around the hull of their craft, using spreaders to prevent crushing during the hoist aboard.
While they were working on these details, the hook was let down to them and presently the sling was made fast to it.
“Gee whiz! Look at the gallery now!” cried Charlie, staring up at the line of faces along the deck rails of the steamer. “Say! there’s Dad—and Mother! And there’s Uncle Arthur! See them up there, next to the top deck! They’re waving to us! Hi, Dad! Hello, Mother! Hello, Uncle Arthur!”
“Swell,” was Bill’s comment. “I’m glad you’ve found your people, kid. But get into the rear cockpit now, and pipe down a bit, please. This is a job and unless you keep quiet so I can do a bit of talking to those guys on the ship, it’s likely to turn into a first class accident instead of a reunion.”
Charlie, only slightly , in his seat, but he kept on waving to his parents.
Then a chief petty officer, who stood by the rail just below the arm of the hoist, raised a megaphone to his lips.
“Avast below!” he roared, showing a strong foreign accent. “Is that sling secure, sir?”
“All secure!” called back Bill. “But be sure your men keep the slack out of our wing lines when you hoist us. I don’t want the plane to start swinging.”
“Aye, aye, sir. Are you quite ready, sir?”
“All ready.”
“Stand by to be , sir.”
The officer raised a hand. There came a creaking of the sling as the hoist hook caught up the slack, then very slowly the plane rose out of the water on her upward journey.
“Sit down and keep quiet, Charlie,” ordered Bill. “If we start the plane see-sawing, there’ll be the dickens and all to pay.”
Charlie did as he was told. “Don’t worry about me, skipper,” he answered in a somewhat tone. “It’s not me that’s raising all the row now.”
The passengers, or possibly they might better be termed prisoners on board the liner, were waving handkerchiefs and calling greetings to the boys. Any break in the monotony of ship life is always made the most of, and Bill that many of these people had been held on board the liner for weeks.
The plane in its sling went slowly upward, watched by the enthusiastic gallery on the deck. The hoist was far forward and as the amphibian topped the , it was swung aboard and deposited on deck beside an open hatch. No more had she been landed and than Charlie jumped out and raced off to seek his parents.
Bill, in the meantime, had his hands full. It was explained to him that inasmuch as the Amtonia was not equipped for the carrying of aircraft, the plane must be dissembled in order to permit its being stowed away in the hold. A number of men were told off to assist him and for the next couple of hours, he was busily engaged directing the work. Wing sections were removed first and lowered through the hatchway. The tail plane came next, and at the same time, the propeller was taken from the engine. Last of all, lines were riven about the hull and made fast to heavy fittings on the plane, such as engine bearers. Then the hull was hoisted from the deck and lowered nose first into the hold. Even then Bill’s work was not completed, for it was necessary, of course, to secure everything below against possible damage from the rolling or pitching of the ship.
Sandwiches and coffee were served to him by a , while he was still on deck. He had sent his excuses when the captain had asked him to lunch, as he felt it that he stay with the men on the job.
It was three-thirty before the work was finished to his satisfaction, and with a petty officer as guide, he located the in his cabin. The Amtonia had got under way again several hours earlier. Upon coming topside, he saw that the ship was steaming into the north-east. Close in their wake, the Flying Fish, once more a submarine, ploughed the smooth surface of the ocean.
When Bill entered the captain’s cabin, he found the Baron seated at his desk, reading a paper which had just been handed him by the operator.
“Stand by for a few minutes, Mr. Bolton,” he said, putting the note aside. “Take a seat on the couch. I have need of you again.”
Bill sat down while Baron von Hiemskirk went on talking to the operator.
“Do your best to find out what other craft are in the vicinity and report to me on the bridge as soon as possible.” He said this in German which Bill understood but did not speak well.
“Aye, aye, sir,” returned the man, and departed.
The Baron stood up, picked up his cap and turned to Bill who also rose.
“All secure with the plane below?”
“All secure, sir.”
“Good. Come along then.”
Together they passed through the thwartship passage and out on deck. They reached the top deck of the superstructure by a steep stair and went forward. From this deck another stair led to the bridge, where a sailor with rifle and sidearms stood . The man brought his gun to “present” and both the Baron and Bill returned the . Long before this Bill had come to realize that strict discipline was enforced to the letter aboard this pirate ship.
Once they were on the bridge an officer came forward and saluted.
The Baron said stiffly: “Commander Geibel—Mr. Bolton—in charge of flight operations.”
The Commander and Bill shook hands.
“Has the reported anything during the past quarter of an hour?” inquired the Baron.
“Not a thing, sir.”
Commander Geibel and the others glanced toward the foremast where about to the top was located the ship’s first lookout station. This station, Bill was to learn, always held an officer and his assistant. Still higher up the mast in the crow’s nest, a sharp-eyed , especially trained to this service, kept a on the horizon. When the man in the crow’s nest discerned smoke or which seemed to indicate a ship, he called to the men in the lookout below. Instantly all glasses would be trained in the direction he gave them, and the bridge would make ready to act upon the result of their discovery.
The Baron turned to Commander Geibel again. “We have just received a wireless that the French liner Orleans is about sixty miles to the , steaming east. She carries the mails, you know, and a capacity load of first class passengers. I think she will be worth detaining.”
“Decidedly so, sir.”
“Make ready to stop the ship, if you please. Also signal the Flying Fish to prepare for a flight. While I am away, you will be in command, as usual.”
“Very good, Herr Baron. Any further orders?”
“No. You will maintain the usual routine. Good afternoon, Herr Commander.”
“May I wish the Herr Baron his usual success and a pleasant trip?”
“Thank you, Herr Geibel.” The two shook hands. “Auf wiedersehn!”
“Auf wiedersehn, Herr Baron! Auf wiedersehn, Herr Bolton.”
“Auf wiedersehn, Commander.”
They saluted. Commander Geibel stepped to the engine room telegraph and the Baron with Bill at his heels left the bridge.
“Come to my cabin. I want to say a few words to you.”
Bill knew that Commander Geibel had given the order “All engines ahead one-third.” So he was not surprised by the time they entered the Captain’s cabin to find that the from the ship’s had ceased.
“You understand, Mr. Bolton,” the Baron said, “that we are about to capture a trans-Atlantic liner?”
“I understand that such is your purpose, sir.”
“You are ready to obey orders—to pilot the Flying Fish as we agreed?”
Bill was silent for a moment. “And if I refuse?” he asked at last.
“Then it will be my painful duty to place both you and Chief Osceola in the brig and keep you there until we make port.”
“Where is Osceola now?”
“He is still aboard the Flying Fish. He is to act as your assistant. You see, my dear fellow,” the Baron went on, his manner changing from to affability. “As a midshipman in the United States Navy, you are too dangerous a person to allow you to mix freely with the other passengers of this ship, unless—shall I put it ?—unless I have a hold of some kind over you. Those people, wealthy men and women, or they should not be here, are nevertheless but a flock of sheep. You and the Chief proved in Florida that you were made of different stuff. Aboard the Merrymaid, I gave you my reasons for the offer. What is your final answer, now that you have had time to think it over?”
Bill hesitated no longer. “I will fly the plane as agreed,” he said. “But there, my duty to you and your organization ends.”
“That satisfies me. I am glad to take your word as an officer and a gentleman on this matter.” He rose from his chair and beamed at Bill. “My organization is perfect, Mr. Bolton—perfect. You will have no chance to escape—there is no where to escape to—but if you and your friend should wish to try—you have my permission to do so!”
Bill smiled, and said nothing.
“Time to shove off now,” continued the Baron bruskly. “The boat will be waiting for us.”
They went overside by means of a ship’s ladder and were rowed over to the Flying Fish. Her airplane engines were making their appearance topside by the time they stepped aboard. For a few minutes Bill watched them rise one by one, and slide on tracks into place. At the same time, he noticed that the decking just forward of the central motor was moving upward to reveal itself as the roof of a glass-sided structure about two feet high.
“What’s under that?” he asked the Baron, “the pilot’s cockpit?”
“Just so. Come below and we’ll inspect it.”

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