The Bay of the Big Killing


The Bay of the Big Killing


The Bay of the Big Killing


THE MAN at the bottom of a deep well can only look up to the sky. To a man standing at the North Pole, latitude ceases to be. The lines of longitude converge under his heel. He can only look south, no matter which way he turns.

So Scud Bellamy, fiddling with papers on his desk, could see only one thing to do.

Considering his nature arrd antecedents, Scud had not much choice. A worm may be walked upon without protest, but man or a lesser beast crowds a lion at his peril. Not that Scud was any lion. He seemed in fact, sitting there thinking so hard, only an amiable young man with dark brown hair, grey eyes, a nice sort of face above a pair of very wide shoulders which had carried a variety of burdens in many strange places before he began to hump them over a desk in a shipping office on the Vancouver w’aterfront.

The Toreador lay alongside a slip directly below Scud’s window. Scud didn’t look at the Lions rearing their rocky heads above the panoramic Capilano Range. He had no eyes for blue-green harbor water or shipping from all the seas which swung at anchor or lay by red-roofed docks. He did not even see the terraced streets of the North Shore, bright colored against the green of the mountain slope. He saw nothing but the Toreador loading for the Arctic.

A squat black hull with a buff stack between two stubby, spar-varnished masts that rose above a littered deck and over an open hatch into which boxes and bales w'ere pouring by hand and sling. Trade goods. Ship stores.

The Toreador was due to sail within twenty-four hours. Scud knew where she was bound. More important, he knew why she was bound there. He was not supposed to be aware of those details. But he knew. Other people possessed that knowledge and were as interested as he. But Scud didn t know that they knew. At the most, he reckoned that only AÍ Klinger and tw'o seamen besides himself knew what cargo the Toreador meant to load in the high latitudes.

Supercargo on that vessel—that’s what he was slated to become. A hired clerk to check the loot. Six months in the Arctic a year or more if the ice caught them in autumn

north of Bering Strait. Scud stared at the stevedores handling those goods. Trade goods. Huh! That schooner’s mission was as frankly piratical as the general activities of Albert Klinger (who was himself, solus, the Arctic Trading Company) were legitimate, commonplace, profitable.

Shipping Scud as supercargo on that vessel was just what Klinger or any other autocratic and ambitious but not too foresighted father would do

with a seemingly innocuous young man, if the said young man's personality too greatly intrigued his one ewe lamb.

Scud, however, profoundly interested though he was in the one ewe lamb, otherwise Dorothy Klinger, was not so much enraged by Klinger's peremptory decree of exile in the ice as by the circumstance that he was blandly being ordered forth on an expedition to rob himself. At least that is how it looked to Scud. And that was why he sat staring at the Toreador, seeing only one way out of his predicament.

‘Tomorrow morning I'm to go.” Scud muttered. “And he doesn't spring it till this minute, so I don’t have time to think twice or turn around. Uh-uh, FY>ppa Klinger. I’m not the kind of hired man you think I am. To the devil with you and your foxy plans!”

Scud pushed aside the papers on his desk. Two steps took him into a corridor and thence into a room where a bookkeeper was perched on a high stool.

“I have one week’s pay coming, Hall,” he said. “Make me out a cheque. I’ll get the old man to sign it.”

OINK SLIFJ in hand. Scud re-entered his own cubbyhole * long enough to put on a coat and hat. Then he went down the corridor until he came to AÍ Klinger’s private lair. He didn’t trouble to knock. Klinger sat by a window, staring down at the Toreador. Scud was almost at his elbow when he turned his head.

“Sign this." Scud said curtly. “I won’t be drawing any more pay cheques from the Arctic Trading Company.”

“What the blazes!” Klinger grunted. He looked at Scud —tall, slim, a snap-brim felt hat slightly tilted on his head —as if he were slightly surprised at this young man who had been in his shipping office for more than a year.

"Quittin’.” he drawled, “just when I’m sendin’ you out to do a man’s work ! Why?"

“Let ’s talk turkey for once,” Scud answered coolly. “For

nearly a year we’ve been politely beating around the bush. I’ve been penned in a box with a desk and a telephone doing a twenty-dollar-a-week clerk's work, routine work. I’m not going to be buried in the Arctic for your pleasure—and profit. Not that kind of profit. If I’m to be mixed up in piracy I’ll turn pirate on my own account, not yours.”

“What the devil do you mean?” Klinger demanded. He didn’t seem annoyed, merely surprised.

“I don’t need to explain, any more than you need to explain to me why all of a sudden you want to ship me north where I’ll be out of sight and hearing for a long time,” Scud replied. “I’m not stupid. You think I’m a sap. You’re trying to convince Dot I'm a sap. So you decide to ship me off on a sap’s job. By the time I get back from Beaufort Sea —well, there may be something in out-of-sight being outof-mind. So I’m not going, thank you.”

Scud threw out his hands in an expressive gesture. Despite the edge in his tone, he smiled. He felt better for getting that off his chest.

“So that’s it,” Klinger said. “Well, you are a sap. Any man is that can’t do better than hold down â white-collar job for a weekly pittance. I want my kid to marry a man. A nice boy isn’t good enough. I got nothin’ particular against you, Bellamy. I guess your footwork’s all right. You just haven’t any punch.”

“You might change your mind if I socked you once,” Scud hazarded.

“I’m thirty years older than you are,” Klinger answered slowly. “Still, I doubt if you could sock me hard enough to hurt much.”

His bulky body and hard, square face seemed to grow tense as a fighter’s when he said that, as if he were poised mentally and physically to meet an onslaught.

“That’s not exactly what I meant,” he went on. “There’s more than one kind of punch up a man’s sleeve. These are tough times. The going is hard for everybody. Only the fellow with hands, brains and guts is even holding his own these days, much less getting anywhere. You aren’t half the man Matt Abo is, and he’s only a roughneck Finn in command of a ninety-ton schooner. You quit a job in a huff because you’re asked to do something out of routine. It don’t make any difference to me. I can hire lads like you by the dozen. But try gettin’ another job, even at the same pay. What can you do besides hunt another job? See? You’re just another nice boy, Bellamy.”

“I can think of several things I might do besides hunt another job like this,” Scud said, stung by the words yet considering the older man’s point. “What do you suppose I did with myself before you came into my young life? You never even bothered to ask me. But we won’t argue that.”

He turned to go. Klinger had signed the cheque while he talked.

“Wait,” Klinger said. “You made a crack about piracy a minute ago. Just what did you mean?”

Scud looked back with one hand on the door knob.

“That,” he replied crisply, “is for me to know and you to find out.”

'T'WENTY-FOUR HOURS before Scud flung that challenge in Klinger’s teeth, a stockily built man in a blue serge suit rather tight across the shoulders and a tweed cap pulled over one eye, walked down the gangplank of a Vancouver steamer at a Seattle dock, 150 miles south from where the Lions of grey granite sit eternally looking dov/n on their Gate, which is the entrance to Vancouver harbor.

Bag in hand, he moved casually along the waterfront east until he came to a set of slips which accommodate a mosquito fleet. He heaved himself over the bulwark of an able two-masted schooner bearing the armor of vessels that buck icy seas—a two-inch sheathing of iron bark over the planking of her underbody. He went down a companion ladder into a tiny aft saloon. A tousled fair head lifted out of a berth ; sharp blue eyes blinked sleepily.

“Oh, it’s you, Murph,” the sleepy one said. “What’s the good word?”

Murphy sat on the edge of a berth and fished out a cigarette. A youngish man, olive-skinned, was frying bacon on an oil stove. This man grunted “hello” and took a fresh hitch in a soiled dressing gown.

“Well,” Murphy said finally, “my hunch was right. I got hold of old Stepanfetchit an’ filled him full of rum and kidded him along, so he spilled over. He has peddled Klinger the idea and sold him on it. The Toreador, Matt Abo in command, sails tomorrow for the Bay of the Big Killin’ to raid that cache. Matt Abo is no slouch. Klinger himself joins the ship after she gets on the ground. I told you we ought to be under way.”

“Funny that a big shot like Klinger would go personally into the Arctic for a few grand,” Toot Gorham observed.

“A few grand probably looks as big to him as they do to us,” Murphy declared, “if what they say in Vancouver is true. Klinger isn’t broke, but he’s bending. The Toreador is said to be the only thing he’s got that isn’t plastered with a mortgage or somethin’. Anyway, Klinger is not goin’ on any extended Arctic cruise. When the Toreador wirelesses she’s on the ground, Klinger flies up there from Edmonton. Dam that old sucker of a Stepanfetchit! We shoulda kept tabón him. Is the Loon ready for sea?”

"Yeah, but Mitch is inclined to be a little sour on this

business. He thinks we might do better along the Siberian coast,” Buck Lewis said over the frying pan.

“He better try runnin’ out on this.” Murphy grunted, “after we’ve stocked his schooner with grub and everything. Where is he?”

“On deck somewhere, I guess,” the man in the silk dressing gown answered. "Say, Toot, spring the latest on Murph.”

“Buck an’ me an’ Mitch, we sort of cooked up a new stew while you were in Vancouver.” Toot Gorham sat on the side of the berth, running slim fingers through his fair curly hair. “We're outfitted, but it has just about broke us. There’s hardly two hundred cold cash left in the kitty. That Lindbergh kidnapping stunt give us an idea. They’re puttin’ it over here an’ there.”

“It was Mitch’s idea,” Lewis put in. “Seein’ AÍ Klinger was on our minds, an’ Mitch lovin’ Klinger the way he does.” “It’s like this.” Toot Gorham disregarded the interruption. “Suppose we got hold of that girl of Klinger’s—that proud little black-eyed jane that gets her name in the papers all the time. He’d come across with ten grand to get her back safe, wouldn’t he, Bill?”

Murphy looked doubtful.

“Well, wouldn’t he?” Toot demanded.

“I guess he would,” Murphy admitted. “But how you goin’ to get hold of her? How’d you keep her under cover —and where? How’d you fix it she wouldn’t blow the works when you got the coin an’ turned her loose? How—”

“There’s a answer to everything, old kid,” Toot Gorham declared. “We have figured it from every angle, an’ me an’ Buck are some little figurers. Nobody has outfoxed us yet. How’s this for a frame-up:

“When the Loon clears Seattle, she stands up into that open water where we turn into the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Mitch says he can handle her alone. You an’ me slip into Vancouver. Buck joins us there the same day with that big black speedboat of Harry Stone’s—which he borrows without Harry knowin’ about it. He comes to the Rat Portage mill landin’ in the mouth of False Creek. We know the lay of the waterfront there, from loadin’ hooch to run in here. You an’ me get the jane—if we haven’t brains enough to figure how to do it after we get there we’re a pair of poor saps. The speedboat runs us out to the Loon. We hoist the boat on the afterdeck; cover her with a sheet, an’ head north along the West Coast. We leave a message for AÍ Klinger tellin’ him to bring ten grand in cash, cross the Island to Albemi, an’ get in a fish boat an’ come offshore to a designated point. If there’s anything but that lone fish boat—any seaplane or cruiser, or in the meantime he yelps to the police—we bump the jane off an’ feed her to the dogfish an’ send him one of her cute little ears to remember her by.

He’ll come across . . . anybody would.”

TXLHAT DOES Mitch say?” YV Murphy enquired.

“He’s for it,” Toot stated.

“How about you, Buck?”

“Me? Why most of it is my bright thought,” Lewis preened himself. "It’s a cinch if we handle it right. Why not? We need some jack. Klinger ’ll pay, an’ we don’t care whether he looks pleasant or not.”

“If Vancouver talk is right, Klinger might have trouble gettin’ his hands on that much jack right now,” Murphy frowned. “I don’t like this scheme much. Too many chances for a slip-up. We’re loaded an’ ready to go after somethin’ that’s safe an’ fairly sure. Once under way, we don’t need money— not bad enough to go after it that way. You pull anything like that north of the Canadian line an’ fall down on it, an’ heaven help you.” “Horsefeathers!” Buck Lewis turned aggressively from the stove.

In the first place, no matter what financial difficulties he may be in, a man like AÍ Klinger can always raise ten grand on short notice if he has to. Second place, do we need the jack? I 11 say we do. Suppose we don t get that ivory? Suppose we can’t do much good tradin’ with them natives? We land back here next winter, flat. Have to go out and do a plain stick-up on the street to get eatin’ money. This is a good bet. I can get hold of that black speeder. We’ve taken longer chances for less. You threatened with cold feet, Murph?”

“Not exactly.” Murphy grunted. “It’s a new line out here, though, an’ I see plenty of snags.”

“None that a little brainwork won’t eliminate," Buck declared. “Well, here’s the momin’ egg. Let’s eat. Oh. hello, Mitch. I thought you’d smell bacon fryin’. Come on.”

A seaman, tall. lean, saturnine, came down the companion steps. Ben Mitchell’s weathered face wore a habitual scowl. Aboard ship at sea he was a barking martinet, accustomed from youth to all the uses of boot, fist and belaying pin. But he had no hired crew now to intimidate. Only three twenty-minute eggs, as steeped in evil as he was himself. Bill Murphy was a fighting animal who took no abuse from anybody. Toot Gorham and Buck Lewis were coastwise gangsters, soft-handed, outwardly genial, but capable of being as aggressive as Mitchell and twice as deadly. So Mitchell’s natural tendency to growl and bark and bite without provocation had to find vent in indirection or sullen silence. He was a thoroughly disgruntled man. He had made a small fortune by various dubious voyages in the Arctic, and dropped it in an ill-engineered rum-running venture off the California coast. He was broke, except for his ownership of the Lee«. He had taken on Toot and Buck and Bill Murphy because Murphy had knowledge of a haul to be made in waters that Ben Mitchell knew, and the three could finance such a voyage and give him a share of the loot.

“How about it?” he grumbled to Murphy, as he slid into his place at the table.

Murphy repeated succinctly what he had told the others. Mitchell nodded.

“We’ll land there at the same time,” Mitchell growled. “The ice will hold us both up. I hope Klinger does come up there to buy into the show. I’d as soon take a fall outa him an’ Matt Abo at the same time.”

“Toot an’ Buck tell me the latest scheme is to take a fall out of Klinger right off the bat,” Murphy said.

“I’m for it,” Mitchell snarled.

“I’m not,” Murphy said quietly, “but I seem to be outvoted.”

“The quicker we move the better,” Buck Lewis observed.

“I can clear in an hour,” Mitchell mumbled with his mouth full of bread and bacon. “You don’t need to worry about AÍ Klinger raisin’ money. I’ve knowed him broke before an’ step out an’ raise fifty thousand just on his say-so. That’s the kind of palooka he always was.”

“Well, let’s get goin’ then,” Murphy said. “How do you reckon to get hold of that speedboat of Harry Stone’s, Buck?”

Buck Lewis went into chuckling details about that as they finishend breakfast. Mitchell strode off to clear his schooner for Kotzebue Sound beyond which lonely bight the Loon would disregard clearances and ports of entry, since the seal and the walrus and the polar bear never ask to see a ship's papers.

VWJIEN SCUD left AÍ Klinger’s office, he was not YV exactly a deflated tire but his pressure was a trifle low. At the same time, his temperature was decidedly high. Because, as Scud saw it, that harsh-speaking old buccaneer on the second floor was really sending out an expedition to appropriate something of value, which, if it belonged to anyone under the rules covering things of value, belonged to Scud Bellamy himself. Curiously, his mind’s eye saw not Dorothy Klinger over whose small dark head the clash between himself and her father had originated, but the Bay of the Big Killing, where the Toreador was bound.

It lifted before Scud’s eyes—a grim, ice-locked gut opening on the Arctic Ocean, shores piled with broken ice, grey rock and pale green moss in midsummer, bleak white, shrouded in frost fog when the I-ong Night shut down. A boy of fifteen sometimes sees things in vivid colors. Scud had seen the Bay in various aspects over a period of many months. He remembered it last and clearest as a place of carnage, blood spilled by knife and spear and bullet till the green water turned a muddy crimson and dead walrus lay in windrows like grain swathed by harvesting machines.

“I’ve got to beat him to it!” Scud gritted. “I have to. But how?”

It looked impossible. The Bay of the Big Killing lay

1,600 miles in an air line overland.....3,200 by sea. Scud

stood there on the waterfront by the Union Dock with neither ship nor wings, only a burning desire to act swiftly with the same calculated, ruthless directness that enabled a man like AÍ Klinger to tell other men where to get off.

Yet Scud thought of his girl, too, with feelings the opposite to those he cherished for her male parent. Strangely he never considered Mrs. Albert Klinger—a worthy enough woman who didn't seem to count greatly either with her family or outsiders. Her husband and Dot lived by rules of their own. It struck Scud as he crossed the railroad yards to a downtown store and telephone that father and daughter had unconsciously been framing rules for him to live by, too. He had put an end to that, at least.

Scud got Dot immediately when he called the Klinger house.

Continued on page 62

Continued from page 7—Starts on page 5

“I’ve kicked over the traces, Dot,” he said abruptly. “The big chief ordered me to be ready to sail for the Arctic on the j Toreador tomorrow morning. I couldn't see {it. So we collided. I quit.”

“Oh, Scud.” The voice at the other end of the wire sounded plaintive, regretful. “I suppose he was furious. What on earth did he want to send you away up north for? Did it mean anything much?”

"So far as I could see, it meant nothing but putting me on ice for six months or maybe a year,” Scud answered. “Maybe he ! thought twelve months of separation might separate you and me for keeps. Anyway, it’s off. The Arctic Trading Company is shy my valuable services.”

“What a man!” Dot rallied. She laughed softly. “Maybe you’ll have time to take me hither and yon now.”

“Sure,” Scud responded promptly. “How about hithering and yonning this afternoon? Let’s go out and rattle around in the crate.”

“I won’t be free till after dinner,” Dot told him. “Drive up in front about eight P.X. I’ll be watching for you.”

“Okay, darlin’,” Scud breathed into the mouthpiece and hung up.

So he had several hours on his hands. Immediately a bee began a persistent buzzing in his bonnet. He walked away from the telephone, with that compartment in his brain which contained Dot Klinger automatically closing, and an entirely different set of cells turning upon the Toreador and its real objective. Almost mechanically his feet carried him block after block along Hastings Street until he found himself in the shadow of the Marine Building—a set-back monolith with a green dome that overlooked all Burrard Inlet. Scud looked up, remembered something, smiled, turned into an ornate lobby.

An elevator shot him to the nineteenth floor. Down a tiled corridor he came to a door lettered :

Coast Airways, Limited.

Scud grinned appreciation of that. Only himself and the chief of that concern knew how limited Coast Airways really was. The office resembled a faifly large packing case in size. It contained one small desk with a telephone, beside which a freckle-faced youth buried his nose in a magazine, so immersed in a tale of adventure that he scarcely glanced up at Scud. An older, larger edition of the freckled one, tously red hair and all, perched on a low windowsill, smoking a pipe. He wore riding breeches and tan boots. A leather coat and cap lay on the floor.

“Ha ! Enter Mister Scudamore Bellamy. What can Coast Airways do for Mr. Bellamy this bright and glorious summer mom? And what doest thou abroad, sweet knight, garbed in the garments of loafing, when honest citizens toil shirtsleeved in the halls of commerce?”

“Toil? Yeah, the way you do. you highbinder,” Scud countered. “Sitting staring at the Inlet. That’s what most of the honest office magnates are doing along the waterfront.”

“Admiring an admirable view, stout fellow,” Peck Faster replied, “is as profitable as most undertakings these days—and a heap pleasanter.”

“How goes the battle, anyway?” Scud enquired.

"Oh, we’re getting by,” Peck grinned. "It is not as it was in the olden days when you and I were young, Maggie. But we still eat. We can still fuel the ship. Joking aside, old bean, what are you on shore leave for? This is no holiday.”

“For me it is,’’ Scud told him. “Permanent. as far as the Arctic Trading Company : is concerned.”

I “Quit or fired?”

SCUD LAUGHED. The telephone rang.

Freckles answered. His boyish treble W'as clear, his language polite.

“I’ll call Captain Foster,” said he. Putting one palm over the mouthpiece, he turned. “That old slob from The Winchelsea wants to use you again, Peck,” he chirped. “You’re a goat if you don’t charge her double fare.”

“Speak respectfully of your elders, my beamish boy,” Peck admonished his brother. “Always. Speak even respectfully of me.” “Sure, when you’re where you can reach me,” the junior Foster replied. “Any other time, nertz, nertz. Wanna buzz this old dame, or shall I tell her to barge down to the ship?”

Peck Foster took the phone and talked. “I gotta take a fat woman to Crescent Beach,” he said, when he hung up. “If you're free, what about coming along for a flip, Scud?”

“Back by five o’clock?” Scud asked. “Back for lunch,” Peck told him. “Fifteen minutes to collect the cargo. Twenty minutes there, twenty back. Twenty dollars earned. To such base uses wre do return.” Ten blocks in a blue sedan; another ten blocks to a water slip. A large woman— overweight, a very behemoth of a female— loaded from a tender into the cockpit of a Cascade Moth. A roar and a wash of foaming w'ater under the pontoons and they were in the air, poised there, it always seemed to Scud when he was up, while the earth and sea streamed under them. Forty-five minutes later they w'ere sitting down again at Peck Foster’s mooring.

Peck dangled one leg over the cockpit and watched a strong tidal current sweep by the anchored ship.

“It’s a great life if you don’t week-end,” said he. “What’s simmering in the old brainpan, Scudamore, my friend? Why so pensive, my little man?”

“You flew in the I)îorth last summer, didn’t you?” Scud said abruptly.

“Uh-huh. Even up beyond the Circle once,” Peck nodded. “Mostly it was routine work. Flying guys with cameras doing photographic survey. All through that Mackenzie and Bear Lake country. Just one flip out over the icefields of the lost Dordogne and all that jolly rot, don’t you know. Why?”

“Do you know the location of Franklin Bay, or the part of the Arctic Coast it lies on?”

“East of Cape Bathurst toward Coronation Gulf, where Stefannson says he foregathered with beautiful blonde Eskimos. But I only know it from looking over maps,” Peck admitted. “Why the deep interest in the great lone lands of popular romance? Hast thou, stout fellow, a yen—”

“Button thy lip, varlet, so the enquiry may duly proceed.” Scud adopted Peck’s own method. “Cease these frivolous word wastings.”

“Shoot,” Peck murmured. “Get it off your chest. I’m all ears.”

“So’s a jackass,” Scud retorted. "Is this crate of yours good for a trip there and back? What flying time will it take, and w-hat weight could she earn’?”

Peck considered a few seconds.

“A Cascade Moth of this type,” he answered seriously, “will fly from here to Cape Bathurst and back in approximately thirty hours. The flying route is about sixteen hundred miles each way. She will pack two men and six or seven hundred pounds dead weight, with her tanks full of fuel, safely.”

“And what would it cost?”

Peck did a little more mental reckoning. “Fifteen hundred bucks,” said he. “And I’d just about have to be guaranteed salvage costs if I had to sit down some place where it was impossible to take off—which sometimes happens in wilderness flying. You contemplate a Polar flight or something?” Scud didn’t answer immediately, lie

knew' enough about Arctic and other flying to realize the difficulties and to reckon the price fair enough.

“A month or six weeks from now I might want to make such a flight.” said he. “But not for purposes of exploration. I wintered once in that country, as you know.”

“Six weeks from now. barring the unforeseen,” Peck told him. “I’ll be flying an aerial survey over the Peace River block, my worthy buccaneer. I could probably wangle two or three days off. And it wouldn’t cost you nearly as much to fly in from there. What’s it all about, Scud?”

“It may sound crazy to you,’’Scudreplied. “But let’s go and have lunch and I’ll spill you an earful.”

Over their food Scud talked, and Peck Foster listened with such rapt attention that the chops on his plate grew' cold.

“By the left hind foot of Bucephalus!” he burst out. “That’s an epic. Do you suppose the taboo has held good to date?” “It was in good working order a year ago, according to old Stepanfetchit,” Scud nodded. “I got that indirectly. A schooner called theBlue Goose tried to get at the stuff. A bunch of Eskimos swooped on them. There wras a sort of scrap and they didn’t get the ivory. So it’s pretty sure to be right where it was. Those natives are sometimes almost incredible in their ways. But the Toreador has an iron crew. They have a machine gun stowed aboard. Matt Abo is pretty tough. And I understand that w’hen the Toreador arrives there she wirelesses Klinger, and he flies in to take charge of operations in person. They’ll get that stuff if it’s there. A native taboo is no good against seven hundred shots a minute.”

“Klinger must be hard up,” Peck said, “to embark on an expedition like this.” “He’s not so hard up as they say,” Scud assured him. “But that walrus ivory represents a good many thousand dollars—at present, I should say twenty-five or thirty thousand—and that’s the sort of pie AÍ Klinger likes to play little Jack Homer to. His normal trading up there for the season would show a profit. This would be clear velvet.”

“Thirty grand command attention from an impoverished spectator any time,” Peck sighed. “I wish I had one-tenth the sum, me lad. If I had and the ice was out, I’d be tempted to fall for your elegant tale and go in with you on a share basis. Would you split the profits, if any, if I put in the Moth and my time and the well-known flying ability . . . ahem!”

“Would I? You better not spring that on me twice,” Scud retorted. "Only there’s the chance, Peck, that somebody beats us, or has beat us, to it.”

“It wouldn’t be the first time,” Peck growled, “that a fellow has tackled a good thing and seen it do a flop. If you roll ’em high you’re liable to sleep in the street.” “Listen.” Scud drew' circles on the tablecloth with the handle of his knife. “Suppose Ï come and spread my hand before you a month from now. Keep me posted on w'here you are, what you’re doing. June is time enough. That’ll beat the Toreador to the Bay of the Big Killing.”

“Yow'sah,” said Peck. “That’s a go.”

Scud w'andered away to put in the time until he was ready to trundle forth a disreputable looking roadster from a garage in the alley behind his lodging place.

rT'HE LAST of the sun thrust golden bars among the great firs of Stanley Park when Scud rolled over the flower-bordered causeway and turned off the drive into the | Pipe Line Road. He didn’t notice a sedan that had been loitering a block behind when he drew’ up in front of AÍ Klinger’s house. Motor cars of every size, shape, color and description ambled along that gorgeous drive, with the green tide sweeping through the Narrow’s on one side and the green forest on the other. There was no reason why Scud should notice any of them or one in particular, even w’hen it parked a little back of where he did, a few yards from a footpath that ran to a little glade where he and Dot came when they wanted to spend a quiet hour.


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They sat there now, talking, until dusk began to close and the harbor lights flickered here and there.

They had talked up and down and around their ow’n private problem, just as men and women have discussed similar problems from the beginning of civilized time. It was, they agreed, much simpler in primitive times.

“I don’t know, though.” Dot laughed softly. “Dad’s a civilized person in most aspects, but as far as I’m concerned he acts like a primitive. He’s always been awfully good to me, Scud. The trouble is that now' he w'ants to do my thinking for me. Maybe it wasn’t so hot, you going into his office. I thought he’d give you a chance to show'I what you could do.”

“Chance?” Scud drawled. “He gave me a ; clerk’s job and let me go through the motions. I don’t belong inside. I only took it as an opening. I have a coastwise skipper’s papers. I’ve done quite a bit of work that your father never even troubled to ask about. Oh, I guess he knew', all right. But he kept me at a desk, w'here I could have i stagnated at thirty a week for all the differj ence it made to him. No, I can see now’ there never was a chance for me in your father’s business, old dear. That’s mostly why I quit—well, not altogether, but I would have quit pretty soon. I should have quit long ago.”

“I suppose it could have been worse.” Dot laid her head against him for a second. “You might have gone raging off where I wouldn’t see you at all.”

“I’m liable to do that after a bit,” he said gently. “I—I’ve got a card up my sleeve, honey. If it fills the hand and the play corpus out right, I’ll have some money. We could get married this fall, without the family blessing.”

“The money part of it doesn’t cut sol much ice,” Dot said. “You can make a living. I don’t have to have a maid and a chauffeur. I’d rather be mistress of two rooms than the pampered inmate of a harem, if you get what I mean, Scuddy, old boy. I can put a dollar through its paces. No; I’ve told you before, Scud, it isn’t the money part of it. It’s dad. I’d like to ease him down gently.”

“That part of it seems important to him,” Scud reflected. “It is to me, too. I don’t want you to have to step out of a good home into a nickel-pinching existence.”

“Oh, you’re funny sometimes,” Dot chuckled. “It just doesn’t do any good for me to tell you what a good manager I could be. I tell you, Scuddy—well, I w'on’t tell you either. No, it isn’t altogether ability to get money that commends a man to dad. He’s funny that way, too. He doesn’t know it, but I am quite sure he has dreams about some impossible superman turning up fori little Dotty. There isn’t any such animal You’re the nearest thing to it. But, as he says, to him you’re just a nice boy. And that isn’t good enough.”

“Is it good enough for you?” Scud asked —although he knew the answer.

“Plenty,” Dot said fervently. “I’ll probably spoil you. I’m that kind of al sap.”

“Then,” said Scud boldly. “Let’s make it a date. I’ve got a hen on a setting of eggs that will hatch out in the next three or four months. Whether the chickens are peacocks or bantams, let’s get married in September. And let’s serve notice on your worthy parent that that is our unalterable intention. That’s giving him a while to get used to it.”

“Okay,” Dot said quickly. “I had a

j feeling it would come to this. I’m kinda j sorta glad, Scuddy. I hate waiting.”

Dot snuggled her face against his shoulder and they sat there, wordlessly happy, for a little while.

“Let’s go and celebrate, old thing,” Dot said after a little. “It’s getting chilly for j little me. Let’s amble down to the Commo|dore and dance for an hour or so. There’ll j be somebody we know there, and we can j sort of casually announce the engagement. Tomorrow we’ll break the bad news to Poppa Klinger.”

Scud thought a second. It might, if he acted on what was in his mind, be the last chance for some time to dance with Dot Klinger.

“Righto. Let’s go,” he agreed.

Trees bordered that path to the roadside where his car was parked. Thickets of salmonberry and tall bracken made a heavy screen. They knew the way, and the path ran straight so they walked it easily in the darkness, Dot ahead, Scud following.

A few feet short of the road, with light beginning to glimmer ahead, the flash of an electric torch in his eyes momentarily blinded Scud. He was conscious of a queer sensation of shock. Then he ceased to be conscious of anything.

G CUD WAS still wabbly on his feet when ^ he got out of the roadster and went up the front steps of Klinger’s house. The maid who let him in didn’t notice anything wrong. He had found a park tap and washed away the blood which had oozed from mouth and nostrils and dried on his face. Outwardly he was pale and a bit unsteady, but inside he was a very sick young man when he walked into the den where AÍ Klinger sat scowling under a shaded lamp.

“Has Dot turned up here?” Scud asked.

“No. What’s the matter? What’s the mystery? You sounded cuckoo over the phone. She went out with you. Why didn’t you bring her home?” Klinger’s voice rasped.

Scud looked down at a piece of paper in his hand with an involuntary shudder. He was shaken both physically and in his soul.

“We drove into the park. We left the car and went to a little open place off the Pipe Line Road,” he breathed. “We sat there talking a long time—until it got dark. 'Çhen we decided to go downtown to the Commodore and dance awhile. We started back to where my car was parked. Just where the path leads out of the thick brush somebody flashed a light in my eyes. Somebody else must have cracked me over the head at the same time. I woke up pretty sick, lying right where I fell in the bracken. Dot was gone. Nothing but the odd car passing on the road. My roadster was parked where I left it. I found this stuck under the controls on the steering wheel.”

Scud passed over the bit of paper in his hand. Klinger spread it out and read the lettered words:

Keep your face closed. Don’t go to

the police. Go to Klinger. He’ll hear

from us direct before midnight.

No signature. Klinger stared in silence, first at the note, then at Scud Bellamy.

“Don’t go to the police, eh?” he muttered. “That sounds like kidnapping. Bellamy

One of his square, powerful hands clamped Scud’s arm and jerked him forward into the j bright glow of the lamp. Klinger’s face grew savage.

"You know more than you’re tellin’. j Don’t try puttin’ anything over on me !” j Scud yanked himself free. Shaken as he was by that blow on the head, he was still more dynamic than he looked, than AÍ Klinger ever suspected.

“Keep your hands off me, curse you!” he panted. "I’ve told you exactly what happened. If I wanted to put anything over on you about Dot, I could have done it long ago—easier than kidnapping. Don’t be a blithering fool. I’m no gangster.” “That’s right,” Klinger agreed. “You haven’t brains enough—or the guts.”

They glared at each other for ten seconds.

‘To blazes with you!” Scud broke out. “You’re impossible. I am going to the police.” 4

“Wait,” Klinger growled. “Before we do that—it’s no use anyway. If this means what it says, all the flatfoots and dicks in Vancouver could do nothing but run in circles. How long did you lie there after you were knocked out?”

Scud looked at his watch.

“It was about nine thirty when we decided to go downtown,” he said. “It’s a quarter to eleven now. It didn’t take me more than twenty minutes to get here.” “This says I’ll hear from them direct before midnight. Go to Klinger, eh? Well, you’ve come to Klinger. And you’ll stay here—till something breaks. Sit down.” Scud was still on his feet, troubled, seething with uncertainty, stewing inside at Klinger’s open suspicion of him, when the maid came to Klinger’s den, holding out an envelope.

“The bell rang, Mr. Klinger,” she said. “There was no one there when I went to the door. Just this, addressed to you.”

“Thanks, Mary.” Klinger nodded casually, but the fingers that tore at the envelope as soon as the girl left the room shook perceptibly. Out of the sheets he withdrew, something tinkled on the table and Scud drew a sharp breath. He knew that eardrop. One of a pair Klinger had given Dot on her last birthday. She had worn them that evening.

One sheet carried a few sentences in longhand. The other was covered with small closely printed letters, done in pencil. Scud could see that much. Klinger pored over them a long time.

“It’s as well you didn’t go to the police,” he said slowly. “Look these over.”

The short message was in Dot’s writing.

They tell me to say that if you don’t follow instructions to the letter it’s my finish. Please, daddy. Dot.

Scud shivered. He looked at Klinger. He was watching Scud, eyes narrowed, face like a mask. Scud turned to the second sheet.

Ten thousand dollars in tens and twenties. Don’t bother taking the numbers. Other people have tried that.

Go across to Albemi tomorrow. Hire a fisherman near evening to take you to Bird Islets. Lie by the Middle Islet until after dark. Then steam west by north until on a line between Middle Channel light and Cape Beale light. Stop. Flash electric torch three times. Wait five minutes. Flash three again. Flash three every five minutes until answered by single flash, dark five seconds then two flashes. When signal picked up, get in dinghy alone and row out to flash—with the ten grand.

No monkey business, Klinger, or this jane will go to feed the dogfish.

If she’s worth ten grand keep your ' mouth shut and come across. If you try any wise play—curtain. Lay off the dicks. We’ll know what you do and we take no chances.

Remember what happened Lindbergh’s kid if you think you can beat this set-up.

“I won’t try to beat it,” Klinger said coldly when Scud looked up from the last word. “I’ll pay and look pleasant. I’ll keep my mouth shut. So will you, Bellamy. Now, having done all the damage you can, get out.”

“This is a terrible thing, Mr. Klinger,” Scud broke out. “Isn’t there anything at all we can do?”

“No. I shall obey those instructions precisely,” Klinger muttered through set teeth. “Go home and wait for results—if any.”

.Scud rose. The man’s look and tone stirred him deeply. He was sorry' for AÍ Klinger and resentful of his attitude.

“You broke out at me a few minutes ago, saying I knew more than I was telling,” Scud said slowly. “Do you really think I’d

have any part in a rotten deal like this?” “What I think.” Klinger snarled, “is, as you remarked this morning, for me to know and you to find out. Now, get out before I throw you out !”

Scud went without further parley. You couldn't talk to a man in that mood. Fear rode him. No fear of what Klinger might do to him, but what those kidnappers might inflict on Dorothy Klinger if anything went wrong with their plans. It was still incredible to Scud.

He was scarcely down the steps when AÍ Klinger reached for the telephone and called a number.

“That you, Dixon?” he asked eagerly. “Good. Lissen. Young fellow just leaving my house in a red roadster. Old crock of a car. Name’s Bellamy. Rooms at Trafalgar House. Get a man on his tail as fast as you can move. Find out where he goes, what he does, who he talks to for the next forty-eight hours. You get me? Report to me before nine in the morning. I’ll be out of town tomorrow. Ring you up when I get back. Don’t let this guy shake you or your men in the meantime. Watch every' move he makes. Yeah. Bellamy. Scudamore G. Bellamy. Trafalgar House. Yes, just going out to his car now. What’s that? Good. Tell him to step on it. He’ll probably go along Beach Avenue. I don’t know the car number. Rattletrap old red roadster. I’m depending on you, Dixon. ’By.”

Klinger settled back in his chair. He buried his face in his hands and groaned.

“I can make it,” he whispered. “I got to make it. But, oh lord, what’s things cornin’ to when they can pull stuff like this? What can you do? Who can you trust? I wonder ...”

Scud Bellamy, rolling along in his car, was wondering, too—wondering if there was no other way but Klinger’s; if there was not some method of coming at those racketeers after Klinger had done his stuff. So long as Dot was in their hands, they were immune. After they had levied the ten grand and set her free . . .

Scud brooded through a sleepless night, learning in those hours what it was like to bum with a desire to rend and destroy without mercy or compassion. Dawn found him raging against his own helplessness. Wherefore, in spite of that imperative injunction to keep his mouth shut, as soon as he had swallowed a cup of coffee he went down to the Marine Building to see Peck Foster.

By land and water the way was closed to him—except at deadly risk to Dot. But with wings—the flying men had an edge over sad crawlers on the earth.

So Scud took his trouble to Peck.

OCUD GRASPED Peck Foster by the arm ^ and drew him into a recess between the two buildings that formed a narrow passage to the seaplane landing.

“Don t look back,” he said in a lowered tone. “There’s that bird again, stopping. He’s trailing us, Peck.”

“Yeah? How about stepping back and speaking to the gent?” Peck murmured. “You sure?”

“Positive,” Scud asserted. “It’s the same car that followed us to the North Shore. I took his number. Look. This is making me curious as well as nervous. You go ahead and come back around this building and keep your eyes open. I’ll mosey back to the car; pretend to get something. If this bird is tailing us maybe he’ll follow me down in here. If he does follow me, you slip up on him from behind. We’ll comer him and find out what his game is.”

“Righto,” Peck agreed, and moved on. Scud sauntered back to his decrepit roadster and made pretense of reaching under the seat. Two car lengths behind him was parked the commonest type of motor car in America, a small dark-colored sedan.

A stocky man was fumbling with thç radiator cap. But he was really w'atching

Scud. And Scud went, sharp-eyed, back between the buildings, noting that the fellow followed. Scud kept on till he came to the end of a shed. A glance back showed him that Peck had rounded the building and was coming up on the fellow’s rear. Scud w'heeled about. They had him trapped. He turned slow'ly to face Peck when Scud turned back.

“Ha, stout fellow,” Peck Foster greeted pleasantly. “What dost hither?”

And w’hile the man stared at Peck, Scud Bellamy kicked both feet out from under him and fell on him, grabbing one w rist and twisting it across his back. Face down, he couldn't move. Peck promptly sat down on his legs. Scud felt something hard over one hip. He felt—and drew' out a flat, black automatic. He searched other pockets, but that was the fellow'’s only weapon. With it in his hand, Scud loosed his hold and all three rose to their feet.

“I could call a cop and give you in charge for carrying concealed weapons,” Scud said. “What are you shadowfing me for? You’ve been on my heels all day. Why? Come across.”

“Go ahead; call a cop.” the man defied. “There’ll be a traffic man at the end of the Burrard bridge,” Scud said to Peck. “Go get him.”

“Right.” Peck nodded and turned to go. “Wait,” the man said. “What do you want of me, anyhow-?”

“I want to know' why you’re trailing me,” Scud demanded. “What’s the idea?”

“I don’t know',” the man said frankly. “I’m an operative for a private detective agency. I was ordered to keep tab on you— see w'here you went, what you did—and report. That’s all.”

“Who’s so keen to know what I’m doing?” Scud asked.

“Search me.” The detective shrugged his burly shoulders. “I’m simply actin’ on* orders. Reportin’w'hat I see.”

“For w'hat agency?” Scud asked.

“I’ll lose my job if I give that aw'ay,” the man protested.

“You’ll land in the cooler if you don’t,” Scud declared. “The regular police don’t like private dicks. Unless you have a permit to pack a gun, you’ll draw' a month in the cooler. I’ll take you straight to headquarters myself, me bold Sherlock Holmes, if you don’t come clean. In fact—oh, hello, Mark. Just in time.”

At sight of a slim, dark man in olive uniform, the shadow wilted.

“Aw say, lissen now,” he pleaded. “All I’m doin’ is keep tab on you. There’s no law' agin that. I’m workin’ for Ben Dixon, Sixty-six Granada. Have a heart, fella. I work fora livin’.”

“What’ll we do with him, Mark?” Scud asked the Provincial officer after he had explained the situation.

“Let him go,” Mark Smith advised. “These amateur sleuths are mostly poor saps. Keep his gat for a souvenir—unless he has a permit. Have you?”

The man shook his head.

“Beat it then,” Scud said sharply. "I’ll be around to the Ben Dixon Agency tomorrow' with a police officer to find out why they’re so interested in my movements.”

The automatic he thrust in his own pocket. The shadow hurried away to his parked car. The three men w'ent on to the slip, beyond which Peck Foster’s Cascade Moth nosed the slow tidal ebb on her pontoons.

They took their time about starting. The Western sky was a rosy glow when Peck turned his motor over. She fired with a smooth roar. Peck swung her nose to sea and taxied out to open water, gave her the gun. She took off like a great gull, a red gull with curious marks painted on the underside of her featherless wings. The line of her flight at two thousand feet elevation was straight across the Gulf of Georgia.

To be Continued