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HOME > Classical Novels > Bill Bolton and the Flying Fish > Chapter XII THE JOB
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 When Charlie had gone, Bill glanced at his wrist watch. It was just ten minutes to nine. With a sigh of satisfaction, he picked up his cap. Then, snapping off the electrics in the bathroom and the cabin, he, too, went out.  
It had been impossible for him to make preparations for this venture of his since its inception at the beginning of the week. As he went out on deck and forward toward the bridge, he could hardly believe that no longer ago than Monday morning, he had been flying his amphibian north to New York, with Osceola as passenger. Then had come the Merrymaid, and capture by these pirates, their flying submarine and the raider, this huge liner whose decks he was walking. That afternoon had come the Orleans affair; in the evening the collier Blake had been taken. Tonight, only Thursday. After the monotony of three days’ coaling, the adventures of Monday seemed far away, except when he stopped to realize that ever since then he had had no leisure whatsoever to develop his plan.
“Good evening, sir.” The guard at the foot of the stair that led to the bridge saluted, and Bill came back to the actual present with a start.
“Good evening, Schmidt.” He returned the man’s salute, and recognized him as one of his derrick’s crew. “You look so spick and span I didn’t know you at first glance.”
“Thank you, sir.” Schmidt smiled, keeping his rifle at present. “And I feel a good bit more comfortable this way, sir. Coaling is filthy work, Lieutenant.”
“Nothing dirtier.” Bill nodded and passed on up the stairs.
Above he found Lieutenant Schneider pacing slowly up and down. “Good evening,” said Bill. “Mind if I join you for a few minutes?”
“I shall be honored, Herr Lieutenant,” returned the officer. “An unlooked-for pleasure. A beautiful night, is it not? But I surmised that like the rest of the mess you turned in directly after dinner.”
“I admit I’m tired,” Bill went on chattily, “quite as tired as the other chaps, after the grind of the last few days. Chief Osceola was completely done up. Had his dinner in bed, and I found him sound asleep when I went below.”
“Don’t speak of bed,” grumbled the officer. “I wish I were there now. It is just my luck to be on duty tonight.”
“I found the cabin hot and stuffy, so I thought I’d come up for a breath of air before turning in. Heading more to northward, since we sank the Blake, I see.”
“Yes, the course is nor’nor’east now. Captain von Hiemskirk is heading the ship for the transatlantic passenger ship lane.”
“We don’t seem to be in any hurry, Lieutenant.”
“No, our speed is only sixteen knots. Everybody needs a rest, and the Herr Baron, being a wise man, is saving coal.”
“It sounds foolish of me, a ship’s officer, to admit it, but I honestly have only the haziest idea of our position now.”
“I don’t wonder at that,” laughed Schneider. “The way we changed our course during the past week would make a snake break its back. At noon today we were in latitude 38 degrees north, longitude 62 degrees west—and we aren’t far from there now at the rate we’ve been steaming.”
“Mm—I thought we were much farther east,” remarked Bill, and then changed the subject.
As he had now gained the information he wanted, he chatted for ten minutes more with young Schneider, then, wishing him good night, went below to his cabin.
Here he set the tiny alarm on his watch for twelve-thirty. From the closet, he brought forth a civilian suit of his own, and one of Osceola’s. These, together with two pairs of tennis shoes and two soft felt hats that he found in their bags, he placed on the lounge. Again he dug into the bottom of a kit bag and pulled forth a coil of rope, two monkey wrenches and a flashlight. Placing these conveniently near the clothing, he began to undress. Osceola still slept the sleep of exhaustion. Without awaking him, Bill crept into his bed and turned off the light.
It seemed but a moment or two later, though in reality three hours had crept away, when the tinkle of his alarm bell brought Bill back to a sleepy realization of the job before him. He switched off the alarm and sat up in bed. Osceola’s voice cut the throbbing drone of the ship’s machinery.
“What’s the big idea?”
“Time to get on the job,” Bill murmured in a low tone. “Had you forgotten it? Don’t turn on the light.”
“No, I hadn’t forgotten. You said something about working out a plan of yours tonight. But can’t we put it off for twenty-four hours? I’m bleary-eyed, I’m so tired.”
Bill got out of bed. “So is everybody else aboard this packet. And that’s why we’re pulling it off tonight.”
He tossed Osceola’s clothes on to the chief’s bed. “Here’s an old suit of yours—get into it.”
“Oh, if you say so—” yawned his friend. “What are we going to do with those wrenches? Crack the Baron’s safe?”
“What a pair of eyes you’ve got! I’d forgotten you could see in the dark. No, you big galoot, this is not robbery you’re in for now. We’re going to tie up the wireless operator. I want to do some broadcasting on my own.”
“So that’s the way the wind blows!” Osceola, fully awake now, was pulling on his trousers. “I have to hand it to you, boy, when it comes to action—you act!”
“Come on—I know it’s risky business, but if we’re ever going to break up this nest of pirates, we’ve got to have help.”
“You’re going to wire our position to that cruiser who was on our trail Monday?”
“And to whomever else it may concern—yes, that’s the idea!”
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