He told his girl he could fly when he couldn't— then he had to make good
CHUCK TRUDEL was writing to his girl. The greasy table of the Sky Trails' Northern bunkhouse at Lac Lucile was newspaper covered, and his hands and
arms were scrubbed clean halfway to the elbows. His girl’s photograph was propped before him. She had curly brown hair and a cute pug nose, and her lower lip pouted just a little. She was only seventeen. Chuck, of course, was older. Chuck was eighteen, with red hair and freckles.
Footsteps! Chuck made a quick grab. A pair of prospectors thumped past bearing a canoe. Chuck sighed and replaced the picture. The little lady seemed to pout more than ever. Chuck held her in both hands and shook his head. “Gee, I’m sorry, kid! They’d roast me ragged, and anyway you’re not for these roughnecks to look at.”
He stepped to the door. Down along the rocky lake shore Dave Green was tuning up the Super for Art Gordon’s trip
to The Pas. “Gosh! Hope he isn’t looking for me,” Chuck breathed, and restraddled the wobbly bench.
Forlorn hope. Head mechanics were always looking for the “grease balls,” and that’s what Chuck Trudel was to the Sky Trails’ Northern outfit, an appi entice mechanic, just a grease ball.
You couldn’t have told it by his letter. “Dearest Doreen,” it began, and ran along on certain things concerning their home town in the East, and whether or not he should have gone to college like his dad said, instead of beating it North to get into the flying game, and that Lac Lucile wasn’t any place for women but that he wouldn’t be there all his life because there was talk of starting the Western Air Mail and they’d need pilots; and although it was night flying and pretty risky there was good money in it and that’s what mattered to him because—well, because of lots of things.
They were busy with freight and passengers, and he was third pilot since Bob Findlay had been transferred.
“Had a close one the other day,” it ran on, “but I’ll have to stop talking shop if you’re going to worry. Anyway, I was lifting a load of express and passengers out of a pothole lake away North. It was either overload or make two trips, and we had a dirty cross-wind. She was pretty sluggish, but I managed to gallop her off the water. Could’ve made it, with a little ticklish handling, if I hadn’t hit a pocket. Right over the tree fringe, and she dropped thirty feet like a stone. Saw 1 couldn’t make it, and the thought of my passengers left me cold, kind of. But just for a flash. Then I banked her in a hairpin, sideslipped her between two big spruce trees, and pancaked her in a little bay. Bent a strut, that’s all. Guess maybe I shouldn’t be telling you this, but anyway, Doreen, always remember that I don’t take any fool
chances. A pilot can’t afford to, especially—”
He whirled as a hand reached out. Art Gordon, Sky Trails’ second senior pilot, whisked the photo clear. “Who’s the bundle of grief?” he queried, eyeing the same with open approval.
“Sister,” Chuck mumbled. “Let’s see it, Art. You’ll dirty it.”
“Sister, eh?” Gordon’s dark handsomeness was emphasized by a flash of white teeth. “Has the same dumb look all right.”
Chuck kicked back the bench.
“You lie!” he said, and suddenly looked foolish. “I’m sorry, Art. Might’ve known you were kidding. It’s—she’s my girl. But, gosh! don’t tell the gang, please, Art. A fellow’s things aren’t his own around here even now, and if they got hold—” “Forget it!” Gordon threw the photo down and reached for his helmet. “She’s cute as a dimple. I suppose she thinks you’re a pilot?” he added offhand.
' Chuck turned a turkey red. Gordon grinned.
' “Why worry, Chuck,” he said. “Older men than you have pulled that gag. Lost me a girl once, but anyway she got terribly fat. They’re a gamble, Chuck.”
“Her mother’s slim,” he offered.
The pilot motioned to the table.
"Slim ones get cranky,” he warned, “but polish off your letter and I’ll post it in town. Dave’s been raving for twenty minutes. I’ll tell him you were helping me.”
MEMBERS of the Sky Trails’ mechanical crew were congregated on the float dock. An hour earlier the sun had careened far North and dipped behind a ragged profile of spearhead pines. Dusky shadows were creeping in like a fog. A canoe with silenced motor slid past the dock and scraped on the shore rocks. Dave Green, grimy-faced, unshaven, waited for the clop-clop of the canoe’s wash to subside, then cocked a delicately tuned ear toward the south.
‘That’s her,” he snapped. “ ’Bout time. ’Nough to do without startin’ an* night flyin’.” He tore off a chew and rammed the plug in a hip pocket. “Huh! What the—!” He
gestured for silence. "That ain’t Art!” He spat disgustedly. “Sounds like a pup.” They crowded around. “Nothin’ surer,” he added. “Wonder who’d ever bring an egg crate like that into this country? Pipe the motor. Sounds like the old lady’s washin’ machine.”
The tiny two-seater dived over the dock, swung lakeward, banked sharply, levelled, and slid on to the still water.
“Knows his way in, whoever it is,” Green made compliment. “Grab a wing, Chuck.”
The silver sprite floated close, was swung with a blast from the toy motor and edged into the slipway. The helmeted figure of Art Gordon squeezed from the rear cockpit.
“The latest in Northern freight ships,” he announced. “Sixty miles an hour with a tail wind, one passenger, a handful of letters and a box of snooce capacity load. Runs on coal oil or diluted gin. Dust regularly and keep clear of all insect powders—head office orders.” He snorted in disgust as he reached for his log books. “Just another bright idea to cut down operating expense on light trips,” he finished. “Spunk’s bringing QS through in the a.m. Moor this tricycle out in the bay and leave her there. I’ll take QT tomorrow.”
Dave Green checked the midget.
“Neat enough job,” he commented, “but head office sure pulls the prize boners. Shove her nose in a blanket for now, and let’s do the same.”
He walked off. The other mechanics fastened the light ship securely, covered her motor, chuckled at her flimsy build, and followed.
Chuck Trudel continued to gaze at the trim little craft. He uncovered the rear cockpit and sat in it. He imagined the prop whirling and the slip-stream buffeting his face and ears. He visualized a head in the forward place, a round little head with a pug nose and pouty lips. He dreamed of flying into the silent wilderness, of bucking wind and wave, of tiny blue lake-jewels sparkling in green pine settings . . .
It was late when he crawled into his bed-roll.
In the morning, loading the first cargo of meat, vegetables and other perishables for an outlying camp, he tackled Art Gordon.
“I know I’ve got an awful crust, Art, with all the flying you’ve got these days,” he began, “but I wondered if you’d give me some instruction on* the Butterfly? I’d pay regular rates, and get a head office okay on it. I see she’s all hooked up for instruction.”
The pilot frowned. “They’d never okay it, Chuck.
They have their school in the ’Peg. They’re fussy about it. You’d have to go there.”
Chuck gulped. “I think I can get it,” he said. “I’ve got my ground stuff, and if they knew I was naturally fitted to be a pilot they’d agree.” He stalled. “I—I thought maybe you’d—that you might tell them,” he added.
Gordon donned his helmet, yanked it down tight, and stared.
“And how the devil can I tell them?” he snapped. “How am I to know all this?”
Chuck’s freckled face set grimly. “Try me,” he said.
The pilot regarded him keenly. “Well, I’ll admit you’ve got it, Chuck,” he said at last.
Chuck’s eyes opened wide. “Flying savvy?” he asked eagerly.
“No ! Crust !” the pilot snapped, and left him.
DURING that day Chuck Trudel went about his many tasks in silence. Dave Green found him gazing out over the bay waters to where the Silver Butterfly, at anchor, pitched, swung, and flashed in the summer sun.
“Fergit it, Chuck,” he advised. “The woods is fulla kids learnin’ to fly. Good engineers ain’t to be picked off of razzberry bushes. Stick to motors an’ let the dudes do the sky-ridin’. Anyhow, Spunk’ll shoot that fruit basket outa here in a hurry. Fergit it !”
Chuck continued to go through motions, his mind far away. During trip intervals he avoided Art Gordon. “Spunk” Speirs, head pilot, flashed out of the south, took a capacity load, and staggered back into the air. Standing on the dock end, Chuck trailed him with his eyes until the orange and black ship had disappeared over the tree line. His mind trailed beyond. The steel pinch bar he held became a “stick.” The cloud reflections in the water became actual fleece packs floating beneath him. He tilted the stick and swayed his body for a sharp left bank—
Wham ! A weight struck his shoulders. The cloud pack rushed to meet him, and disappeared as he struck the water Sheepishly he clambered, dripping, on to the dock.
“Put that packsack where it belongs an’ get hot around
Continued on page 37
Continued from page 9
here,” Dave Green ordered. “Next thing you’ll be steerin’ yerself with a rudder!” That evening Art Gordon had them tow in the Butterfly. When she was checked he climbed in the rear place.
“Unhook the other controls and I’ll take ballast,” he announced. “Chuck, you’ll do.” Skimming over the water surface, Chuck buckled on a helmet and plugged in his phone. The tiny ship rocked easily on to its step, skittered over the wave tips, and soared.
“Gosh!” he thrilled, crouching behind the screen. “Like a bird !”
Art Gordon’s voice sounded in his ear. "Get that belt around you and make no mistake. You asked for it and here’s where you get it !”
They climbed high over the lake. The settlement, a litter of scattered wooden boxes, suddenly disappeared in a swimming blur of greys and greens. Startled, Chuck clamped a tight jaw and closed his eyes. Phut ! The motor was cut. Zi-n-n-ng ! The motor caught. The ship righted.
“How’s that?” the earphones asked. Chuck swallowed. “F-fine,” he gasped. “G-great!”
“Try this one of your aspirations.” Whoosh! The ground blur hurtled toward them, fell away, and disappeared as a weakness clutched his knees, surged through his body and reached his throat. He clutched his throat and swallowed. His head whirled, went forward, then was snapped back as the ground reappeared. His body sagged. He folded his arms across his belt buckle and swallowed again.
“How you coming, kid?”
Chuck gasped, swallowed. “G-great!” “Right! Stop me if you’ve had this one!” More blurs, spinning, swallows. The phones were announcing, “Triple loop!” A helpless, empty feeling. “Barrel roll !” A swimming, baffling universe of sky, woods and water. “Immelman!” A frantic clutching at emptiness, swallows and gasps. “O Lord, make him stop,” Chuck prayed fervently; and into the phone he shouted, “Great! Great! Give’er gas!”
Back on the dock, he leaned against an oil drum and grinned casually at a whirling muddle of figures, freight heaps, ships and shoreline trees. When the gyrating tangle had slowed to a doubtful stop he lit a cigarette, and with eye lined upon a series of
objects along the dock marched nonchalantly officeward.
Two nights later they were up again over the lake. In the forward cockpit Chuck thrilled as he gazed at connected controls. “Leave them,” Art Gordon had instructed Dave Green, and to Chuck he had added: "Kid once myself, but keep this all under that fiery thatch of yours.”
The pilot’s voice now came to him—“Get set”—and a moment later: “You’ve got
The tiny craft wobbled uncertainly. Chuck righted her, and yanked her too far over. Controls and phone corrected him.
“Gently! Gently! What you think you’re driving—a milk wagon? Imagine it’s a willow wand.”
Chuck did. Around, up, and back they circled in climbs, shallow dives and slow turns. “Steady!” “Nose down!” “Watch your wing.” “More bank.” “Tilt her on the turns—ever ride a bike?” An hour Chuck Trudel circled, manoeuvred, and listened to short-cut instruction. Long after the Silver Butterfly was moored for the night he continued to circle, climb, bank and dive.
The third night he took off and accomplished two fair landings with Art steadying from the rear. As he went toward the bunkhouse he still floated on air. The fourth night he sat on the dock end, head in hands, and gazed forlornly at an empty mooring buoy. Somewhere, far to the south, the Silver Butterfly, he suddenly recalled, was humming her way over lake and river toward the head-office in Winnipeg.
Next morning, after laying over in The Pas, Spunk Speirs stepped on to the Lac Lucile dock and handed Chuck a message. It was from Doreen.
“Dad and I arrive The Pas Tuesday. Meet me there.”
During that day Chuck was utterly silent. He read the message over and over. That night he lay awake. At last he decided.
“I was a chump ever to lie to her,” he whispered to himself. “It may queer everything, but”—his jaw set resolutely—“I’ve got to tell her.”
HE TRIED to, but somehow the hero worship in her eyes when they met shut off the confession he had prepared. “Later,” he decided, and tried to forget it.
At times he did. There were so many things to talk about; the time was so short, and she hardly mentioned flying at all.
“I’m crazy about your blue breeks, Chuck,” she remarked once. “They’re snappy! Do all the pilots wear them?”
They had dinner alone.
“Never mind dad,” Doreen had early remarked. “He’s all hot and bothered over a cancelled steel order. We won’t see him for three days. Friday night we’re going.” She frowned and pouted.
Chuck only frowned. “Friday night! Gosh !” He squirmed inwardly and took a deep breath. “There’s something I’ve got to tell you before then, Doreen. Something that—well—”
She laughed. “Gee, Chuck, you’re funny. Don’t you think I can guess? Come on, let’s go. How about taking me up for a spin? I’d love it!”
Chuck tried again, failed. “Wish I could,” he substituted, “but the ship I fly is in Winnipeg just now. I’ll get a kicker and we’ll run up the river instead.”
At the dock they met Art Gordon.
“Lucky boy!” he told Chuck. “Holidaying in The Pas with the rest of us hitting the ball overtime. Ever fly, Miss Daley?”
She shook her brown curls.
“Dad’s simply death on small ships,” she explained, “and I’ve only been in two big ones. They had wheels. Flying on floats must be wonderful. Chuck has told me lots about it. haven’t you, Chuck?”
Chuck reddened, and nodded. Art Gordon thought a moment.
“I have a trip through to the Crown Mining with Jenkins in the morning,” he stated. “Be lots of room, and old Jenks won’t mind. Only coming back to Lucile, but Spunk’s coming on in. Better tag along. Kind of a busman’s holiday for you, Chuck, but it’ll cover some country. Sign a couple of releases at the office and be here at six okels. I’ll fix the rest. See you then, young ’uns.” He strolled off.
They had a late breakfast at the Crown Mining camp with the jovial Jenkins after their three-hundred-mile flight.
Swinging south with a tail wind, a panorama of lakes, islands, and tree-trimmed rock country crawled beneath them. Doreen, with face framed against the cabin window, stared long in silence. At last she turned.
“Isn’t it glorious, Chuck!” she shouted, lips close to his ear.
Chuck nodded. He felt miserable. He was not enjoying the trip. He must tell her. It would spoil everything, but— He took her shoulders and turned her toward him.
“Doreen,” he began, shouting above the roar, “I’ve got to tell you, now. I’m—I’ve been—I mean I’m not—”
Added uproar drowned his words as the small door connecting the cabin with the double cockpit ahead fell open. A hand beckoned. Chuck sprang forward and shoved head and shoulders through the opening. The pilot jabbed a thumb toward the cabin and motioned to the extra trick seat beside him. Chuck understood.
“Crawl up ahead and see the works,” he instructed Doreen.
Later, busy with his thoughts, he stiffened as the ship banked sharply and swept groundward in a quick dive. Lake waters rose to meet them. The ship veered the other way, scooted lower, slowed, wobbled, and levelled close over the water. A gentle settling, a series of staccato wave bumps, and the floats swished into the lake waters and came to a stop.
“Lone Lake,” Chuck spoke aloud. “Nothing here. I wonder—”
The trap door flew open.
“Mr. Gordon’s going to shoot me a caribou,” Doreen announced excitedly. “Did you see them. Chuck? Four of them, headed toward that narrow neck between the lakes?”
The ship slid shoreward. Chuck grabbed a coiled rope and climbed out on a float. As she grounded he sprang ashore, swung her heels-in and moored her to a big rock. Doreen was on the float. Chuck heard the lid of the emergency box slam down and saw Art Gordon clamber hurriedly through the cabin door with the ship’s rifle. Muzzle
pointed upward he pumped a shell and thumbed the safety. It stuck. As the pilot stopped short to set it, his hobnailed boots skidded upon the slippery float. His feet flew. The rifle crashed with him among the rocks. There was a muffled report. The pilot raised himself and half turned. A look of surprise crossed his face and he sank slowly forward.
“Oh !” Doreen stood paralyzed.
Chuck leapt to Gordon’s side, turned him over, ripped the flannel shirt away.
“Lord!”he gasped. “He’s shot! Quick, Doreen, the kit! In the big box. It’s his chest—right through.”
HE SPRANG to meet her and tore open the medical kit.
“We’ve got to stop that flow. We’ve got to get him out of—”
He felt the blood drain slowly from his lips. His eyes felt starey. He glimpsed the plane, the lonely lake waters. How? He rubbed his eyes. He stared at the white features before him. “Somehow !” he grated out. “Somehow—we’ve got to!” His gaze swept the sky for help. There was none,' might not be for days, and this was a matter of hours, minutes. “Somehow !” he repeated.
As his fingers worked, his mind raced back over all he had learned, all he had observed about planes and pilots. He finished, stood up.
“Dig the bed-roll and rations out, throw the chairs on the beach,” he ordered calmly, and reached for the axe. A moment later he returned with an armful of spruce boughs. “Lay them in the ship.” He hurried away. Swish—swish—swish! More boughs, still
Between them, struggling, panting, half sobbing, they loaded the injured pilot. He groaned. Chuck felt his pulse and his mouth set grimly. Under and around him they piled the boughs. Over him Chuck piled many more, leaving only his head and shoulders free. Doreen stared.
“All right, Doreen,” he ordered shortly. “Out!” Her eyes grew big. “There’ll be a ship here for you soon,” he went on. “There’s grub, matches, and the bed-roll.” He wrote a note and rigged a message ’chute. “I’ll drop them this before I try to land, telling where you are. If anything—if they don’t come, set the point afire.” He hustled her ashore, kissed her, and sprang toward the
“Chuck! I’m going.” She clutched him. “I’m going with you. I won’t stay here, Chuck.”
He pushed her from him.
“You’ve got to stay,” he snapped. “I lied to you. I’m not a pilot. Understand? There’s one chance in a thousand of getting Art out, and I’ve got to take it.” He turned. She ran to him.
“Chuck!” she sobbed. “Chuck! You’ll be killed. You can’t—”
He stopped her. “I’ve got to.” He shook her by the shoulders. “Do you love me, Doreen?” She clung to him. Her body trembled. She nodded, choked. “Then steady her tail till I get her going. You can help that way.” He kissed her again, slipped the mooring, scrambled along the cabin fuselage, and slid over the wing into the cockpit.
Taxi-ing over the lake waters, Chuck Trudel rehearsed frenziedly the moves he had watched the pilots make. He tried throttle and controls. She answered heavily, not like the Butterfly. A truck and a bicycle, the comparison struck him. He headed down the lake. He must have room. He mightn’t get off first try. He mightn’t get off at all.
He eased the throttle open. She sprang forward, shot to the left. Feet! He balanced them and idled her down. A deep breath. What else? Nose well up, but be sure of flying speed first. Elevator control, half a turn. That was right. Mustn’t forget to set it back when he got up—if he got up.
He neared the lake end. Cold perspiration trickled slowly down his ribs. His body felt hollow, his bones were butter, his neck and shoulders ached from nervous strain. He took the helmet from the seat and put it on.
It was hard to buckle. His hands shook. There !
HE SWUNG her full around. His face felt drawn. He adjusted his feet, straightened the rubber-handled stick, drew a deep shuddering breath, and shoved the throttle. She bit into the wind. More ! The motor roared, lifted. The floats shoved through the green water. More! The roqr became a deafening clatter. The wind screamed past him. The water was swirling under the floats now. More ! He pumped the stick gently and rocked her fore and aft. Sluggish. Still more! He must have speed, speed.
He opened her wide. She veered. Desperately he swung her back into the wind. Harder he rocked her, faster. The green water drove past in a swirling blur. The motor song rose to screaming pitch. The wind buffeted his face, his eyes. Ahead, back, ahead, back, ahead. He steadied the stick and felt her speeding on the wave tips. On her step ! More speed ! A little time. Faster, faster ! She was skimming now, smack into a strong breeze. Faster! Faster!
With scarcely more than a tightening of his fingers, he felt her soar. Off! He was suddenly panicky. How much lift? Too much! He eased off. She sagged. A bump. Vibrations under him. Back on the water. He gulped, steadied her a moment, tightened his grip, and squeezed the stick slowly backward.
Instantly she swam clear. Up, up. Crouched, motionless, he held her. The wind sent shudders along the ship. He braced the stick with his knee. Easily, gradually, the waters receded. Up, up, up. The trees resembled rough grass. He was breathing again. Two thousand. He levelled off, cranked the elevator control and eased back the throttle.
She ceased laboring and clattered on. He held the row of bobbing tappets on the horizon. That was right. But he was going north; he must turn back south. Rudder and stick. Gently, gently—Gosh! He
righted her and gulped for air. Sure was clumsy. Cross wind. Again. Easy. That was better. A little more. The shoreline slid beneath him. He sighed relievedly. The ship rode easier, headed south.
He looked for landmarks. Jove ! How she scudded with that breeze ! Lone Lake was gone. There was that red formation the boys always passed. Ahead was Tin Can Lake. A hundred miles to Lac Lucile. How was Art? He wondered. Would he last the trip? Grim-faced, he bent forward, shoved the throttle wider. Forty-five minutes at this rate. How was Doreen? He breathed a sigh that was half sob. Alone there. Poor kid!
Pine Point already ! The tappets sighted on the horizon took things coolly enough. Up-down, in-out, click, clack. Spots of oil appeared on the windscreen. Some round his face. They were hot. He moved to wipe them off. A wing dipped heavily. He steadied her and left them.
Where should he land at Lucile? The open lake would give him more chance, but what about Art? What if he turned her over ! He shuddered. They could never reach the ship in time to save Art. He must land in close, shallow water. That would give Art a chance. But what if he cracked her over ! He glanced at the sizzling motor dose ahead. That mass of hot steel would come hurtling back through the cockpit like a ton of scrap iron. The heavy wall and spruce-bough cushion should save Art, but—
Lucile! The blue haze on the lake edge rapidly dissolved into buildings, docks, straggly streets. He must drop the message telling them about Doreen. Swallowing failed to move the lump in his throat. He eased back the throttle. She settled slightly, then suddenly, down, down, down. There was the dock straight ahead. Message should hit somewhere near it. There were the boys coming on to the slipway to tie up. He shifted to ease aching shoulder muscles. Freight piles, gas drums, parked canoes, everything as usual. Gosh ! What he’d give to be down there!
Eight hundred. Five. He grabbed the
’chute, twitched the loop with his teeth, and threw it out. What if it caught the tail? He laughed shortly. What difference now? Only a matter of minutes anyway. He was past the docks. The tree line was close. He opened her up and began to climb. He must give them time to get the message. He felt better climbing. Across the portage with its narrow pack trail. A wide turn. Zowie ! That wind made a difference. Should help. Might settle her into that wind after all. Boys ! If he only could !
He passed out over the docks. Someone was running with a trailing white ’chute. Doreen would be all right now. Doreen—he gulped. He swung far back, circled into the wind, set the elevator control, and idled her down. The wind held her in check. Down, down—wobble—down. The tree fringe
crept nearer. Down, down. Past it now, below the treeline, over the water. The waves were reaching out. Close over the water, close inshore, close to the dock, close to help—
Now! He eased her lower. The water streaked past. What speed ! Closer, closer. Easy—hold her up ! Tail down ! Tail— Thump ! Thr-ummp ! Waves. Throttle off. Left wing low. No; too much! Tail! Swish! Right wing now. Too much! Too— The wing tip caught, she swerved sickeningly, pivoted on one float. Her tail came up. He swung the rudder and yanked desperately at the stick. No response. The dock flashed into view careening toward him— barrels, boxes, running forms, gas drums. A last frantic heave. Thank heaven no ships in!
CHUCK TRUDEL clawed at his head.
That darned helmet was choking him. It was too tight. It made his head ache. What was the matter with his hands?
He opened his eyes. Doreen was holding his hands.
“Gee, Chuck, go easy!” she begged. “You’re not to touch them. “You mustn’t, Chuck, here !”
“It's that strap; it’s buckled—”
“They’re bandages, Chuck. You’re in hospital. Don’t you remember? You brought Art in.”
Chuck tried to sit up. “Art—where’s Art?”
She held him down. “He’s in the other room. They’re all working on him. The doctor says he’ll make it, but you got him here just in time. He’s conscious now. Oh. Chuck !”
He started up. His eyes sprang wide open. “How’s QT, the ship?”
She hesitated. “It’s kind of bust up,” she admitted at last, “but nobody seems to care a hoot. That funny fellow Dave says that the slipway is the proper place to crash a plane anyway. It’s handier. And Mr. Speirs is sending you out for a flying course, Chuck, and I’m waiting to go to Winnipeg with you after I talk to dad, and everybody thinks you’re a hero, and so do I and—oh, Chuck!—isn’t it all just too wonderful!” Chuck lay back. “Gosh !” He frowned bewilderedly. “I must of been blotto a long time. Wh-when did you get in, Doreen?” She hesitated. “About an hour ago,” she said lightly. “I came with you, dumb-bell. I wasn’t going to be parked out there all
“With me!” Chuck stared. Then he colored. “But you knew I wasn’t a—you knew about all the lies I wrote you? You
knew I-Good gosh, girl,” he suddenly
flared, “you might have been killed !”
She pouted. “Aw, gee, Chuck, don’t be cross,” she begged. “I’d have been so scared away from you, and—and somehow I just knew you’d make it. Anyway,” she went on, “I knew about your letters all the time, and I could hardly wait to get them. Gee! your letters were swell. Chuck—even if they were a pack of lies.” She giggled.
Chuck held a hand to his aching head and drew a deep breath. “Good glorious grief!” he moaned. “What a day!” And five minutes later he added for the eighteenth time from a smother of brown curly hair and bandages : “And what a girl !”