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HOME > Classical Novels > Bill Bolton and the Flying Fish > Chapter VIII PIRACY
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 While they had been talking, Bill saw the conning tower lower itself until it stood not more than a foot above the deck aft of the huge wings.  
“This certainly is the most remarkable ship I’ve ever seen, or ever hope to see,” he exclaimed as they descended into the hull through the conning tower hatch.
“I designed most of these gadgets before the close of the last war,” replied the Baron in his usual pompous manner. “The armistice interrupted my experiments and as there was no government that amounted to anything in my country then, I kept the results of my work for myself. Some little time ago, speculation in your American stocks gave me sufficient capital to build that ship with added improvements. Now I am cashing in on her.”
The Diesel engines were drawing air from an intake valve just under the small bridge as they dropped into the control room where Bill and the Baron studied the charts for a while, and he was given the course he was to fly. They passed through the battery room where the walls were lined with the crews’ bunks and into the pilot’s glassed-in cockpit.
“Hello!” Osceola beamed at them from one of the pilot’s seats. “It’s sure good to see you again, Bill, old boy. How do you do, Baron?”
The Baron was annoyed.
“It is customary aboard my ships for a superior officer to receive a salute when spoken to. And the salute should be rendered standing.”
Osceola smiled, stood up, clicked his heels together and brought the fingers of his right hand smartly to the edge of the soft helmet he wore.
“Thank you.” The Baron punctiliously returned the salute. “Good afternoon, Chief.”
Then he turned his back on the young Seminole and spoke again to Bill.
“When the buzzer rings in here, Mr. Bolton, you will start idling your engines and take off as soon as possible immediately afterward. You know your course and you have instructions with regard to landing. Further orders will be sent to you should I consider them necessary.”
“I understand, sir,” said Bill.
Both young fellows saluted. The Baron returned their salutes and left the cockpit, sliding the door to behind him.
“Gosh!” exploded Osceola. “That lad gives me the jim-jams with his confounded bowing and saluting. I’ll turn into a Prussian Yunker myself if we don’t get out of this soon!”
“Reckon you weren’t cut out for a Naval man,” laughed Bill, “I admit I’ve had my fill of that stuff at the Academy, but the Herr Baron certainly goes the whole hog. Let’s see what kind of a crate I’ve got to run,” he mused—“ten motors—dual control—aeromarine inertia starter!”
He studied the layout thoughtfully and glanced at the instrument board. Then he turned to Osceola again.
“Thank heaven, they’ve fitted this bus with the wheel and column type of control. The clever bird has stolen some of the Fokker features. That worm gear, operated by a crank and shaft from the pilot’s seat to adjust the stabilizer in flight proves it.”
“Maybe,” grinned his friend. “That’s all Greek to me. The joke of it is that these bozos think I understand—that I’m an aviator like you!”
“Well, I’ve given you some pointers, haven’t I? You ought to recognize a few of these gadgets.”
The Chief snorted. “Few is right. Your amphibian is one thing—but this bus is fitted out like the engine room of an ocean liner!”
Bill laughed and picked up a soft helmet.
“Ever been in one?”
“An engine room?”
“Not yet—and I hope never.”
“I thought so. Well, Mr. Assistant Pilot, get into your seat and look pretty. I’ll do the work. Confound, there goes the buzzer!”
He slipped into his seat and his hand sought the inertia starter. With her multiple engines roaring in deafening crescendo, the Flying Fish leapt through the water and was jerked onto her step, quite as easily as the smallest seaplane. A few seconds later she was in the air, nosing upward into the ether.
Bill ran her up to thirty-five hundred feet, leveled off, did a sharp bank to port, then straightened out once more and spoke to Osceola.
“Some bus! Runs like a ladies’ wristwatch.”
“Aren’t you keeping pretty low?”
“There’s no sense climbing higher. The skipper wants to get there in a hurry.”
“Er—you know this is rank piracy?”
“I do, Osceola. But it’s a long chance—and a darned sight better for our plans than being cooped up in the brig. If I wasn’t driving this plane, the Baron would be. Friend von Hiemskirk is so sure of himself he says that we have his permission to escape—if we can. I’d like to give him a run, you know.”
“Yes, nice of him, isn’t it? Still, we got away from the Shell Island gang, didn’t we?”
“Sure did—and put those guys in a place where they belong.”
“Well, I’m entirely willing to try it with this bunch—but between you and me, I’m almost inclined to agree with the Baron—I don’t think we’ve the ghost of a show.”
“Maybe not. But we’ll make a good stab at it, just the same. First of all, we’ve got to know how they work their game. That’s the principal reason why I took over this job. It’s not only escape I’m after, but it’s busting up this organized piracy, as well.”
“Ambitious, aren’t you?”
“Well—hello! there’s smoke on the horizon!”
“Oh, yes, I see it. Dead ahead. Think she’s the ship we want?”
“Hope so. We’re following the course. Herr Pomposo plotted it himself, so he can’t strafe us if it isn’t.”
Osceola clapped a pair of glasses ............
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