Give Her the Gas!

Wherein a flying fool who was no flyer proves himself lucky in love

FREDERICK R. VANTUYL July 15 1930

Give Her the Gas!

Wherein a flying fool who was no flyer proves himself lucky in love

FREDERICK R. VANTUYL July 15 1930

Give Her the Gas!

Wherein a flying fool who was no flyer proves himself lucky in love

By FREDERICK R. VANTUYL

NOW, if you will ask anybody who knows me if I am a truthful man, he will probably tell you that maybe I pull a few harmless ones now and then, but that on the whole I am a fairly truthful man.

And I am, too. But when I met Caterliebe Pillsberry I told one more big one, a regular bearcat of a lie; and you will understand why I did it when I tell you about Caterliebe.

I had never even heard of Caterliebe Pillsberry until Joe Jennings, my tried and true friend, told me about her. I was then visiting Joe in Toronto, where I did not know anybody but Joe which, as you will see later on, may have been just as well.

“Roscoe,” Joe said, “I am going to take you down to see Caterliebe Pillsberry tonight.”

“That is some name,” I said. “How do you spell it?” ‘ ‘ C - « - / - e - r -l - i - e -b - e P-i-double-i-a-b-edouble-r-//,” spelled Joe. “It is, as you say, Roscoe, some name. And she is some dame. She is a knockout for looks, and very attractive. You will like her.”

Then he told me a lot of things about this girl friend of his, all highly favorable, and I had to admit that she sounded okay to me, even if she was named Caterliebe Pillsberry.

“But,” Joe wound up at last, “you haven’t got a Chink’s chance, Roscoe.”

“Why so?” I asked.

“You can’t fly,” he said.

“Kindly clarify,” 1 said.

‘•‘With pleasure,” said Joe. “Caterliebe Pillsberry is simply dotty about these aviators. To Caterliebe a man is not a man unless he can fly. Her flat is all plastered up with pictures of Lindbergh, and Byrd, and Chamberlain, and all these other air heroes. And she just cannot sec* anyone else.”

“Does she know all these famous heroes?” I said. “Roscoe,” Joe said, “I do not think she knows any of them. The fact is, I do not think she knows but one man who can fly an airplane, and he is not any Lindbergh. But she has read a lot about these dare-devil heroes, and she thinks they are just about right. You will see what I mean, when you meet her.”

I did not say anything more. After that, I was not interested in Caterliebe Pillsberry any more than I was interested in flying —which was minus zero, or less. But when I met her that night in her flat—which, as Joe had informed me, was all littered up with these air heroes’ pictures—I changed my mind very quick.

Caterliebe was a wow. She was two saccharine eyefuls, and then some. She was the most beautiful creature I had ever seen anywhere. Indeed, she was painfully beautiful wavy brown hair, very short but sweet; big dreamy eyes, brown like her hair; one of those retroussay noses that start up and stop quick; a mouth, and a chin, and some dimples, all straight from heaven; and a figure

like Old Lady Aphrodeete when she was right in her prime.

I took one look, and I knew I was in danger. Two looks, and I was gone. I was Caterliebe’s from that moment on !

The room was full of people, all trying to corner her. But pretty soon Joe introduced us, and what do you think the first thing Caterliebe Pillsberry pulled on me was? I had hardly let go her hand, when she harpooned me with those large brown eyes, and said:

“Mr. Wangers, do you fly?”

Now, I did not fly. I had never flown. I did not desire to fly. I had never desired to fly. And I shall never desire to fly. Any place higher than ten feet off the ground has always made me dizzy. I have always been that way, and that way I shall remain.

But I remembered what Joe, my friend, had told me about Caterliebe. So when Caterliebe said: “Mr. Wangers, do you fly?” I just looked her calmly in the eye, and said: “Oh, yes, Miss Pillsberry; flying is one of my hobbies.”

“I am so glad to hear that,” she said, and I knew from the way she said it that, thanks to Joe Jennings’ hot tip, l was in the running.

But I have got to admit that Caterliebe’s next question just about floored me. She asked me how many hours I had flown. I hadn’t any more idea than a dead cat what to say, but I had to say something, so I did so.

“Oh,” I said, very modestly, “about a thousand, I guess.”

For some reason, that seemed to impress Caterliebe very much indeed. “Oh, Mr. Wangers,” she exclaimed, “you must be a marvel in the air. When are you going to give me a ride in a airplane?”

I explained that I had a sore arm, hurt in a bad crash, and I would not be flying again for a month. But she made me promise to take her up in an airplane just as soon as I was able.

The last thing she said, before Joe and I left, was: “Don’t forget your promise, Mr. Wangers,” and I told her I wouldn’t; which, as I will presently proceed to prove to you, was one hundred and one per cent true.

V\ J HEN I told Joe what I had done, he just groaned. W “Roscoe Wangers,” he said, “you have made a great error. Red Wiebers will show you up to Caterliebe, and you will be out, with a capital O. Itis just too bad !”

“Red Wiebers?” I said. “Who is Red Wiebers?”

Joe just looked at me. He seemed very much surprised. “Roscoe Wangers,” he exclaimed at last, “don’t you ever read the papers? Red Wiebers is a fine flyer. He is very sweet on Caterliebe, too, and I think she is sweet on him. Caterliebe will ask him about you and that flying of yours you have told her about. Then what will happen?”

"I will be sunk,” I replied. “That was a bad lie I picked.”

“Check and double-check,” said Joe sadly. “It was a

bad lie, and pulled at a very bad time. Red Wiebers was at the party tonight.”

I gave a great groan.

“Joseph,” I said, “which one was he?”

“Maybe you met him,” said Joe. “He was the redheaded guy with all those freckles, and—”

“That explains it,” I broke in.

“Explains what?” asked Joe.

“My extremely unpleasant experience,” I said. “Which one?” said Joe.

“With Mr. Wiebers,” I said. “After I told Caterliebe that lie, she introduced me to him. I did not catch his name, but it must have been Mr. Wiebers from your description. He asked me some very embarrassing questions about my flying adventures, and it was a painful experience, I can assure you. I did not like him at all.” “Well,” said Joe, “there is still hope. Wiebers is a fine flyer, and he is very handsome, but—”

“Handsome,” I interrupted. “I do not think he is handsome. I do not like to talk about Mr. Wiebers behind his back, but Mr. Wiebers is not handsome. He looks like a red-headed goat with the measles.”

Joe gave one of those horselaughs of his, which you could have heard for six blocks. “Roscoe, old skookums,” he said, when he had yodelled awhile, “guess what Red Wiebers told Caterliebe Pillsberry about you.”

“Tell me,” I said. “I am no good at riddles.”

“Well,” said Joe, “Wiebers told your girl friend—I overheard him—that you reminded him of an absentminded rabbit with half a dozen great sorrows, and—” “He’s a red-headed rascal,” I broke in. “He isn’t worthy of Caterliebe’s friendship.”

“Caterliebe,” said Joe, “does not seem to think so. But, anyhow, he c-\nnot ruin you entirely. If he tries to expose you, Roscoe, I will save your hide. I will tell Caterliebe you are one of these private heroes who fly for fun and do not seek notoriety.”

“Please tell her quick,” I said, “for I do not wish to be sunk before I have got started.”

'“THE next few days I saw a great deal of Caterliebe. L This Red Ruin had tried to do me dirt with her, but he was unsuccessful, for Joe had told her all about me, and why I was not famous, and why Mr. Wiebers had not heard of me and my wonderful exploits.

It was a grand job that Joe did, too, I can assure you, and in almost no time, to my surprise and delight, I had won the heart of Caterliebe Pillsberry. Caterliebe and I were just gaga over each other . . . and we liked it.

But Mr. Wiebers did not like it at all, and he said some things to Caterliebe that I do not care to repeat. But she did not believe them, and she told Mr. Wiebers so, quite frankly. And to my great joy, within a month Caterliebe and I were engaged.

But all the time I was worried about that flying business, and that triple-X whacker I had told my betrothed, and what I was going to do when that arm of mine got well, and what this Mr. Wiebers, who did not like me, was going to do to give Caterliebe my number.

I read about a dozen books on flying, and about a ton of these aviation magazines, and I got so I could talk about this aviating well enough to get by. But when Caterliebe got to asking questions—which she frequently did—I had some very painful moments, I can assure you.

Joe used to help me all he could. He knew I couldn’t fly any more than a goat. But every time he met Caterliebe he told her what a wonderful flyer I was, and what a mean and sinful man Mr. Wiebers was to tell all those wicked lies about a devil-dare hero like me.

And I did what I could, too. Whenever Caterliebe hopped off on her pet hobby, I at once changed the subject. I never did any boasting about my exploits as a pilot, or my hairbreadth escapes in the air, either. And that made a great hit with Caterliebe.

“Roscoe, my sweet,” she would say, “you are just too modest. A thousand hours in the air! Think of all the thrilling experiences you have had—and you have never told me of one!”

But at the end of a couple of months, after Caterliebe had begged me at least seven dozen times to take her up in an airplane, and I had used up all the excuses I could chink of—some of them very shaky indeed—I began to be desperate.

So I went to Joe and asked his advice. “Joe,” I said “here I’ve gone and found the one-and-only girl and won her by telling a lie. What am I going to do about it?” “One lie is a fine record, Roscoe,” he said. “Most men who are courting a girl tell a million.”

“But this one,” I said, “is an important lie. Caterliebe. thinks I am a whiz in an airplane. When she learns the truth, she will cease to love me, and she will marry Mr. Wiebers.”

“Righto,” said Joe,” she will. If she finds out you have deceived her, you will be sunk. I know Caterliebe.” But the next day he came to me, and I knew when I saw him that he was the bearer of vdry good news.

“Ro'scoe,” he said, “you are flying in the morning.”

“Who . . . me?” I said.

“Yes, you,” he replied.

“And Caterliebe is going to watch you, too.”

“Have you gone nuts?” I said.

“No, Roscoe, I have not gone nuts,” he said. “I have been talking to Caterliebe, and I have got a plan that may save your hide.”

“Spring it quick,” I said.

“But I will not do it if I have to lose a couple of eyes, an arm, or get paralyzed; all of which I have thought of.”

“This one is worse than any of those,” replied Joe.

“But it may save your skin.

If it works, you are it. If it flivs, you are out. But it will require courage, Roscoe.”

“I will do anything short of croaking, to win Caterliebe,” I said. “Slip me the dope, Joseph. I will listen.”

“Hot dog!” said Joe.

“That’s the boy. Mow, follow me closely, Roscoe.

I have a friend whose name is Dink Jones, who is a marvellous flyer. They do not come any better.”

“Does he know Caterliebe?” I queried.

“He does not,” said Joe.

“Okay,” I said. “Proceed.”

“Well,” Joe proceeded, “I have informed him of your plight, and he has agreed to help us. Tomorrow morning you and I will take Caterliebe out to Leaside, where Dink is working, so that she can see you fly an airplane.”

“Who . . . me?” I said.

“No, not you,” said Joe. “Dink will do the flying, and—”

“And I will lose Caterliebe to Mr. Jones,” I said. “That is some plan of yours, Joseph. I do not like it at all.”

“It is a fine plan,” said Joe. “Dink prefers blondes. He.would not ever fall for Caterliebe, who is not any blonde but a brunette. Also, he is married.”

“Good enough,” I said. “Proceed.”

“Well, as I was saying,” Joe proceeded, “Dink will do the flying, but Caterliebe will think it is you.”

“Hot diggedy-dog,” I said. “Now you are talking, Joseph. Maybe you have got a good plan, after all. It sounds somewhat hot. But I do not think it will work, for you cannot put anything over on Caterliebe.”

That seemed to amuse Joe very greatly, for he gave one of those horselaughs of his.

“Roscoe, old wooskus,” he said, “I know a man, and he cannot fly an airplane, either, who put a triple-X lie over on Caterliebe. Why can’t we put another?”

“Proceed,” I said. “I am a desperate man.”

“Then listen to me,” said Joe. “Tomorrow morning, when you and Caterliebe and I go to Leaside, Dink will come out to meet us. He will be all got up for this heroic flying, and he will be wearing a black helmet, and you and he will pretend that you are old friends. Then Dink will tell Caterliebe what a wow-woopus you are in an airplane. Then you will dress up, just like him, but your helmet will not be black, like Dink’s. It will be yellow—” “Yellow?” I interrupted. “You have sure picked the right color, Joseph.”

“Now, Roscoe,” said Joe, ignoring my statement of fact, “listen closely.”

Then he told me all the details of this wonderful plan he and his friend, Mr. Jones, had worked up to save my skin with Caterliebe.

I did not like it at all, and I said so. Here they were, planning to get me up in an airplane, to make Caterliebe believe I was a heroic aviator; and I have already told you how I felt about flying.

A “Joe,” I said, “this whole plan is very distasteful to me. I do not wish to deceive Caterliebe, for I am a truthful man.”

“So I have observed," Joe replied, gazing far off into the distance. “But you are in a bad fix, Roscoe, It is this plan of ours, and a chance to win Caterliebe . . . or nothing, and no chance at all.”

So I promised to try the plan, and do what Joe and Mr. Jones told me to do. Then Joe told me exactly what to do, and what to say, when we went out to Leaside, and I didn’t miss one trick.

When we parted at last, Joe said: “I will make all the arrangements, Roscoe. All you have to do is obey orders, and try to act like a daring but modest aviator who does not desire notoriety. We’ll make a hero out of you yet.” I was not quite sold on the idea, for it was very perilous. But I was cuckoo over Caterliebe, and, as you may now be aware, I did not want to lose her. So, remembering order No. 1 from my friend Joe, I got her on the phone.

We billed and cooed, as per regular schedule, for several minutes. Then I remarked, like I had just happened to think of it, “Oh, by the way, sweetie-weetie, I’m flying in the morning

“And taking me?” Caterliebe broke in.

“Not this time, my angel,” I said, with great tenderness. “I am trying out a new ship. It might be a little risky for a lady. But how would you like to come along and watch?”

“Oh, glo-orious!” she exclaimed “T know it will be just too thrilling for words.”

And Caterliebe was right.

EARLY the next morning, Joe drove by in his car and picked me up, and we picked Caterliebe up, and away we went to the field. I’d never seen Caterliebe so excited. And if you had seen how she gazed at me, and heard what she whispered to me, you would never have dreamed my name was Roscoe Wangers and not Charles A. Lindbergh.

Well, we reached the field, and as soon as we got parked, a man who looked like one of these heroes, came to meet us. He was wearing one of these heroic flyers’ costumes, including a black helmet, and he was sure glad to see me.

I had never seen him before. But, acting on orders from Joe, I hopped out of the car, and exclaimed: “Why, hel-lo Dink Jones!” And he grabbed my hand with one of his and beat me on the back with the other, and yelled : “Why, you old flying fool. You old danger-hound. You old peril-picker. It’s sure good to see you out again.” Then he shook hands with Joe, and Joe introduced Continued on page 54

Give Her the Gas!

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him to Caterliebe, and he told Caterliebe 1 was the most dang-fool dare-devil flyer that had ever pulled a stick.

“You’ve sure got a treat ahead of you, Miss Pillsberry,” he said. “Roscoe Wanger’s the most exciting pilot ever. He is just a wizard in the air.”

Then I remembered orders. “Say, Dink,” I said, “I’m giving that new ship a trial. How’d you like to go along.”

Mr. Jones seemed to be very much flattered at this. “Great!” he exclaimed. “But not if you’re going to spring your usual tricks, Roscoe. You know, I got a wife and children.”

“F'orget them,” I said. “I will not do a single risky thing. You don’t have to worry. I am engaged to Miss Pillsberry, and I do not think an engaged man should take chances. Come on. Be a sport.”

So Mr. Jones agreed to accompany me as a passenger, and—just like he and Joe had planned it—we excused ourselves, and Mr. Jones led me to a room in a little building, where he dolled me all up in heroic aviator’s clothes.

He did a great job, and when he got through, and I put on my goggles, I looked quite much like Mr. Jones. Our get-ups were almost exactly alike, except that, instead of a black helmet like Mr. Jones’s, I had on a new yellow one.

And then, while Caterliebe was waiting for us to start, and I was thinking, “This plan of Joe’s is all to the good, after all,” and getting ready for the big show, something terrible happened.

A messenger came in, all out of breath, with a note for Mr. Jones, and Mr. Jones opened it, and read it, and looked very sad, and turned to me, and said: “See here, Mr. Wangers, I have got to leave you. I cannot take you up. I have got to start west right away.”

“Mr. Jones,” I said, for, as you may imagine, I was very much upset by this incident, “you cannot desert me. You have got me in a jam, and you have got to get me out.”

I was quite firm and serious about it. So, after he had scratched his head for a while, Mr. Jones said not to worry, that he would save my skin. “Just wait here, Mr. Wangers,” he said. “I will find a good man to take my place, and I will send him to you at once.”

Then Mr. Jones left me. And who do you think he sent me to take me up in that airplane? Maybe you have got one of these detective minds and have already guessed it. The good safe man Mr. Jones so kindly sent me was that Mr. Wiebers!

Now, as you know, Mr. Wiebers did not care for me at all. He seemed to have an idea I was not a truthful man. And he was very sore, because Caterliebe Pillsberry had lost her heart to me, and not to him.

When he came in the room, he said, like he did not know who I was: “Mr. Wangers, I believe?” But he knew me, all right, and I did not like his expression at all. The only thing I liked about him was his costume, and it was just right. It was, I was pleased to observe, a ringer for Mr. Jones’s—black helmet and all.

I told him yes; I was Mr. Wangers, and I acted like I did not know him, any more than he knew me. Then I said: “Are you going to take me up?”

“I sure am,” he replied. “Nothing could give me greater pleasure, Mr. Wangers.”

I did not know how much, or how little, Mr. Jones had told Mr. Wiebers about this plan of ours. But I thought I might just as well take a chance, and make a few helpful remarks.

“I wish I could take the stick,” I said, “for I am a flying nut, Mr—?”

“Wiebers,” Mr. Wiebers supplied.

“But, Mr. Wiebers,” I continued, “my doctor simply won’t hear to it—and I have just got to have a ride.”

“Well,” said Mr. Wiebers, “I will sure take you for a ride, if I can.”

I did not like that last sentence at all, especially the way Mr. Wiebers said it. It looked to me like I might be in peril, and I did not know what to do. It was a very embarrassing situation, I can assure you. If I had known how to pull a feint or fake an attack of heart failure, I might have done so. But I did not know how.

I went out, and while Mr. Wiebers -was monkeying with our airplane, which was reclining on the grass about 200 yards from Joe’s car, I strolled over, as calmly as I could under the circumstances, and kissed Caterliebe, and petted her hand, and told her not to worry; that I would

just take it easy, and do a few simple tricks, and nothing could possibly happen.

I did not say anything about the Red Peril—Mr. Wiebers—and he was so far away from the car, Caterliebe did not know he was not our friend Mr. Jones but Mr. Wiebers.

“Of course, darling Roscoe,” Caterliebe whispered, “nothing can happen. I know how wonderful you are in the air, and you just couldn’t make a mistake.”

But when I started off to our airplane, I noticed that for some reason or other Caterliebe looked somewhat worried. And if you don’t think I felt the same way, you are plu-plus wrong.

The door of our airplane was on the far side, away from the car, and when I arrived Mr. Wiebers was beside it, waiting for me.

Now, as you may have guessed, I had1 been doing a great deal of brainwork since Mr. Jones so kindly sent me Mr. Wiebers for a pilot. And I knew what Mr. Wiebers, who did not like me, was planning to do. He was planning to give me a nice little ride, and find out how much I did not | know about flying an airplane, and then j come down and expose me.

I did not know, yet, how to keep Mr. Wiebers from doing that dastardly thing.

I would try to work out a plan in the air. But I knew how to get that helmet, which, as you know, I had to possess if the plan was to succeed, and I was to win Caterliebe.

When I reached Mr. Wiebers so that we could not be seen from the car, I spoke to him roughly. “I do not like this hel-

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met,” I said. ‘‘It hurts my head. It is the worst helmet I have ever worn . . . and I have worn aplenty.”

‘‘There is nothing wrong with the helmet,” said Mr. Wiebers, bearing down hard on the last word. “But have it your own way—here, take mine.” And I knew that my ruse was successful.

Mr. Wiebers took off his helmet, which, as you will remember, was black, and gave it to me, and I took off mine, which, as you will remember, was yellow, and gave it to Mr. Wiebers. So when Mr. Wiebers climbed into our airplane and took the stick, and I sat down beside him, it looked to Caterliebe—who, you may be sure, was looking fondly for her hero in his nice yellow helmet—like Roscoe Wangers was the heroic pilot, instead of Mr. Red Wiebers.

When we were all set, and I had persuaded Mr. Wiebers to fix my safety belt, he gave me a dirty grin. “It’s sure lucky you got that belt,” he said. “I have an idea you may need it.”

OH, BABY! What a ride!

The start was a hair-raiser. Mr. Wiebers and I missed a couple of buildings by about an inch, it seemed to me, and we gave a number of trees a shampoo. And it was very exciting. But it was simply nothing compared to what Mr. Wiebers and I did next . . .

Up we whizzed, and down, and in and out. The noise was positively shocking, and I felt very sick. Sometimes I could see the sky. Sometimes I could see the ground. But most of the time I couldn’t see anything, both eyes being shut.

There is no doubt about it—Mr. Wiebers was one of those flying fools. The things he did almost made me wonder if, after all, Caterliebe was worth it. You have read about these heroic nosedives, tail spins, barrel rolls, inside loops, outside loops, Immelman turns, falling leafs, and other such tricks—well, Mr. Wiebers did them all, and a great number of others that you will not find in the books. Scared? I was dead.

What a ride! What a ride!

Down Mr. Wiebers and I would snort, seventy-seven miles a second, the motor popping, and the struts yowling, and me . . . dying. Up we’d zoom, playing hideand-go-seek with the cloudlets, the wings shimmying, the motor raising heck, and me . . . dying some more.

What a ride, brothers; what a ride! When I could perform any brainwork at all—which was not very often—I kept my thoughts on Caterliebe waiting for her hero down below. That helped a little, and improved my condition somewhat. But every time I thought of Mr. Wiebers, and what he would do when, and if, we ever reached the ground again; and what I would do, and, most important of all, what Caterliebe Pillsberry would do, I had a sudden relapse.

while, Mr. Wiebers and I started downdoing everything you’ve ever heard of> and a lot you haven’t, on the way. It was Mr. Wiebers’ worst, and I was pluplus gaga.

"DUT, to my surprise, we got down close

to the ground okay. It was not exciting a bit. We only trimmed a few hedges, busted some telephone wires, and ruined a rail fence, and just as I was thinking, “Ninety per cent corpse, but not all, thank heaven!” Mr. Wiebers’and my airplane did a most peculiar thing. It stuck its nose into the ground, and stood up on top of it, and turned a sort oí a handspring, and landed—bingo-bang — right on its back.

When I opened my eyes, which was right away, for I was not injured at all,

I got some good news. It seemed that Mr. Wiebers was unconscious. He had got a nice bump on the head. He was not hurt bad, but he would be out, good and proper, for quite some time. And I was much pleased to see it. If Mr. Wiebers would only stay out, I might still win Caterliebe.

I worked with great rapidity, for I had no time to lose. I unbuckled my belt and Mr. Wiebers’, and assisted him out of the airplane. And just as he hit the ground,

I saw an automobile, right at us. The driver was still google-eyed, for it seems we had almost tagged him.

I yelled to the driver to come quick, a human life was at stake, and he came a-jumping, and we picked Mr. Wiebers up and dumped him in the car—and away they went for the hospital. But not, you rest assured, my friends, before I had done a quick switch with those helmets.

It seems I performed the switch act just in time, for as the car lit out, with Mr. Wiebers in it—but out—and I was thinking, “Saved by one-tenth of an eyelash,” along came Joe and Caterliebe, on the hotfoot. Both seemed quite disturbed.

Caterliebe looked like I felt. She was google-eyed, pale green, and wobbly. When she saw me, she tackled me hard and got a good strong stranglehold.

“Oh, Roscoe,” she exclaimed, “Roscoe, my darling.”

“There, there,” I whispered, breaking her stranglehold and getting a good one of my own. “What’s the big idea? You are not alarmed, are you, my dearest?”

“Oh, Roscoe,” she cried, “I thought I would perish. You are too daring, Roscoe my precious . . . Don’t you think so, Joseph?” she said, turning her orbs on Joe.

“You are dead right, Caterliebe,” said Joe, with a very sad look. “I have been telling you that for weeks. Now you have seen for yourself. I would not let Roscoe take me up in an airplane for five million dollars.”

“One hundred per cent correct,” I said to myself. And as I did so, Caterliebe seemed to have an idea. She straightened up quick, and speared me with her eyes.

“Roscoe, dear,” she said tenderly, “I am just crazy about you, and you are my all. Do you really want me? I know you are a truthful man, and would not ever tell a lie.”

“Don’t ask silly questions, my sweetheart,” I replied, shooting a hard look at Joe, who looked very much like he was going to let go one of those horselaughs of his. “Of course I want you. The fact is, we’re going to be married today.”

“We are certainly not!” exclaimed Caterliebe, snuggling up a little closer, if possible. “I will never marry you, Roscoe Wangers . . . unless ...”

“Unless what?” I prompted.

“Unless you promise ...”

“Continue,” I said.

“ . . . that you’ll never, never, never fly again.”

And maybe you think I didn’t promise!