When Andy taxied the Ace across the field at Bellevue and up to the
concrete apron, he found Bert waiting for him. The radio operator was
nearly bursting with curiosity to learn what Andy and the secret service
chief had found at Alden.
“Control yourself, Bert, control yourself,” grinned Andy as he hoisted
himself out of the cockpit and slid to the ground.
“You can’t blame me for being curious,” replied Bert, “when I’ve been
marooned here for the last twelve hours while you’ve been chasing
excitement all over southeastern Kentucky.”
“That’s just it,” said Andy. “We were only chasing. We didn’t find a
thing to give us thrill.”
“No trace of the mysterious flyer?” asked Bert.
“Nary a sign,” replied Andy. “We found where his plane had attempted to
bore its way through the side of a hill but he had evidently dropped out
some time before in his chute. He’s probably securely hidden waiting for
a chance to bring about the destruction of the Goliath.”
“That won’t be an easy thing to accomplish,” said Bert. “The guard lines
have been tightened so a bird can hardly fly over them without being
stopped. The army planes came in before noon and any flyer who violates
the department of commerce regulations by flying over this air
reservation will find a handful of slugs singing through his wings.”
Andy nodded grimly as he looked at the group of army machines in front
of a hangar further down the field.
“We’re ready for business now,” he said. “I’d like to meet the officer
“He’s a fine fellow,” enthused Bert. “Not much older than we are. His
name is Lieutenant Jim Crummit of Selfridge Field, Mich. He’s one of the
ace pursuit flyers of the air force and the rest of the fellows with him
are not far behind when it comes to handling a plane with a machine gun
on the business end of it. They’re just itching for something to
“I’m afraid they’ll be disappointed,” said Merritt Timms, who had just
emerged from the cockpit, having experienced some trouble in unfastening
his safety belt. “They would have had plenty of fun if they had been
here yesterday but from now on the game will be played on the ground or
aboard the Goliath when it goes on its trial flights.”
“Here comes Lieutenant Crummit now,” said Bert, stepping forward to
greet the tall young officer in command of the detachment from Selfridge
Bert introduced the lieutenant to Andy and the secret service agent, who
cordially welcomed the army man to Bellevue.
“Our field is a little bumpy but we’ll try and make up in hospitality
what we lack in air accommodations,” said Andy.
“The field is O.K.,” smiled Lieutenant Crummit. “A couple of the boys
came in too fast and bounced a little high but they’ll soon get over
that. We’re all glad to be here where we can watch the completion of the
“I understand several ships will be detailed to accompany us on all
trial flights,” said Andy.
“Those are the orders direct from Washington,” said the lieutenant. “Now,
somebody tell me what all the fuss is about?”
They walked over to the office where Andy and the secret service chief
explained in detail every event of the preceding twenty-four hours.
“That does look serious,” said Lieutenant Crummit, “especially since you
have an admission from the agent of the Gerka you caught here that an
attempt was to be made to destroy the Goliath. At least you can feel
reasonably safe from an air attack. Anti-aircraft equipment with night
lights will be in tonight and the unit also carries special microphones
for the detection of planes in flight. Any craft approaching here will
be known while it is miles away and we can give it a warm reception.”
Assignment of the army flyers to quarters had been held up pending
Andy’s return and he arranged for them to have accommodations at the
hotel, six of the construction foremen agreeing to give up their double
rooms and move over to the company houses on the reservation proper.
It was late afternoon before Andy was alone in his office with an
opportunity to go over the day’s mail There were several important
looking letters on top but he shuffled through the stack until he came
to one in his father’s familiar writing. He slit it open and read it
eagerly. It was with a real feeling of relief that he learned his father
and Captain Harkins would return late the next day, coming in on a
special National Airways plane. His father wrote that final arrangements
had been finished for all of the delicate apparatus which was to go into
the control room of the Goliath and that, unless there were unforeseen
developments, everything was now lined up so that construction would be
completed ahead of schedule.
The afternoon freight train brought the anti-aircraft unit, with its
searchlights, field pieces and other equipment. The twenty-five men of
this company were housed in company quarters, which had been vacated
only the week before by a crew which had finished its work.
Before nightfall Bellevue had been turned into a truly military camp
with its strict guard around the grounds of the National Airways plant,
the army planes ready to take the air at any time of day or night, and
the great searchlights, crouching under their shrouds of canvas, eager
to send their searing blue-white beams tracing through the night sky.
“When a fellow looks over the field now,” said Bert as they walked to
the hotel for supper, “he realizes just how valuable the Goliath is to
“We’ve got the jump on them now,” said Andy. “Dubra failed in his
attempt to damage the hangar and is now in our hands. That means the
‘inside man’ on whom Reikoff had counted for cooperation with this
newcomer from Rubania is out of the picture and our guard lines have
been tightened until it is almost physically impossible for anyone to
get through. But even with all those precautions, we’ll continue to keep
our eyes and ears open.”
Supper that night was a jolly affair, with introductions of Lieutenant
Crummit and his companions to the engineers and foremen in charge of the
building of the Goliath. The army flyers were keenly interested in the
construction of the great dirigible and Andy enjoyed Lieutenant
Crummit’s practical inquiries on the stability of the big gas bag, what
it was expected to do when in the air and its availability for war-time
“We know in a general way,” he said, “but nothing very definite has
appeared on the actual capability of the craft.”
Andy had an enthusiastic second in Bert and they went over a complete
outline of the Goliath and its range, both in peace and war times, for
the army men. By the time they were through, supper was over and the
group broke up in twos and threes and straggled into the lobby of the
old-fashioned hotel. The air was chilly and a great fire had been built
in the fireplace. Lights were low and there was a general spirit of
comradeship in the room. The radio had ceased its accustomed blare and a
really excellent orchestra, devoid of the usual advertising propaganda,
was playing familiar airs.
Someone started humming and in another minute the room was filled with
lusty voices that took up the refrain. For half an hour they enjoyed the
impromptu concert until a messenger boy came in with a telegram for
The young radio operator looked surprised as he fingered the yellow
envelope, turning it over as though half expecting to find the address
of the sender on the back.
“Now who under the sun could be telegraphing me?” he asked.
“Better open it and find out,” suggested Andy.
“A most original proposal,” replied Bert tartly. “It’s from Harry
Curtis,” he cried as he read the message. “He’s going to the North pole
as radio operator for Gilbert Mathews on the submarine Neptune.”
“My gosh,” Bert continued in the same breath. “That means we’ll meet
Harry at the North pole sometime this summer.”
“Well, that is a coincidence,” said Andy, who had met Harry Curtis the
year before. Bert and Harry had served the department of commerce
together and were close friends, a friendship which had not dimmed by
their separation. Andy had taken a liking to Harry on their first
meeting. Harry had visited at Bellevue during the preceding summer and
their friendship had developed rapidly.
“What a thrill we’ll have saying ‘hello’ to each other in the Arctic,”
“But that isn’t all,” added Bert. “It seems that your father and Mathews
have agreed to keep in touch with each other by radio so Harry has been
ordered here to check up on our radio equipment with me. We’ll arrange
for complete synchronization of the sets so that we’ll be able to get
through to each other at any time.”
“That sounds like Dad,” said Andy. “He’s always looking ahead and
planning for any emergency. It will take careful timing to bring both
the Neptune and the Goliath to the pole at the same time. Believe me,
Bert, you’re going to have an important job when the Goliath finally
sticks her nose into the air and heads north.”
“I’m commencing to realize how really important it is,” said Bert
“Hey, wait a minute,” he added. “I almost forgot one of the most
important parts of this telegram. Harry said he was starting at once for
“Good,” said Andy. “Where was the message sent from?”
“New York,” replied Bert.
“That means it will be tomorrow afternoon before he arrives,” reasoned
Andy as he mentally outlined the train schedules between the metropolis
and the isolated Kentucky valley.
The group in the hotel lobby broke up, most of the men going to their
rooms to write letters or read while a few gathered around a chess
board. Andy had some correspondence to finish and he walked down to his
office. Reports for the day showed better than average progress had been
made on the Goliath and he wrote these into the permanent record of the
construction of the mammoth craft.
For an hour he worked at his desk, catching up on the mail which had
come in that morning. All of it was routine with the exception of
another short notice from the war department that Herman Blatz, the
civilian observer from Friedrichshafen, would arrive at Bellevue the
next day. It added that every courtesy of the National Airways plant
should be made available to the newcomer.
The note irritated Andy. He was inclined to be suspicious of any
newcomer now but he realized that he would have to master that feeling
for they were deeply indebted to Doctor Eckener for his many
contributions to the advancement of dirigibles. Andy filed the letter
from the war department and was about to leave his office and return to
the hotel when the blast of a siren cracked the night wide open. It was
shrill, penetrating, alarming—the kind of noise that creeps up and down
the spine and makes the short hair at the back of the neck stand
Lights flashed on in the anti-aircraft battery down the field. Hangar
doors swung open. Mechanics popped out of beds and into their clothes.
Canvas hoods were ripped off the searchlights and the dynamos hummed
The microphones had picked up the sound of an approaching airplane.
Propellers of the army planes spun. Flame whimpered around the exhaust
stacks. Ammunition belts were fed into the black, deadly little guns.
Andy ran along the line of fighting planes. They were poised; eager for
the word to go. Every other light in Bellevue had been put out. There
was only the occasional flicker of the exhaust of one of the waiting
planes. He felt out of the picture; the army was in command. He stopped
beside Lieutenant Crummit’s plane and the army officer leaned down.
“Room enough in here if you want to pile in and see this shindig,” he
The invitation was followed by the acceptance in action and Andy vaulted
into the cockpit of the speedy fighter. It was lucky they were both
slender but even then it was a tight squeeze.
“How do you know when to go?” asked Andy.
“The plane was ten miles away and heading this way when the ‘mike’
picked it up,” replied Lieut. Crummit. He glanced at his wrist watch.
“The searchlights will go on in ten more seconds. We’ll start up the
minute they fasten on anything.”
The words were hardly out of his mouth when the night awoke to a
blue-white brilliance as the searchlights sent their beams soaring into
the sky. Back and forth moved the giant fingers of light, each one
covering a certain area. Any plane near the reservation was certain of
There was a cry from Lieutenant Crummit.
“There it is,” he shouted as he gunned the pursuit ship. It seemed to
Andy that they jumped straight into the air, so fast was the rise of
their craft. Up and up they went, the brilliant light from below
pointing an unerring path toward the plane they sought. It was a black
biplane, fast and streamlined.
The pilot was twisting and turning to get away from the pursuing beams
of light but his task was useless with the army pursuit ships rising
from below in an angry swarm.
They were at two thousand feet in no time and level with the craft they
sought. Lieutenant Crummit pressed the trigger of his machine gun and a
stream of tracer bullets coursed through the night, singing past the
Andy saw the pilot turn a desperate, terror-stricken face in their
direction. Someone in the forward cockpit was waving. They drew closer.
The plane was giving up. A white handkerchief was being waved by the
Lieutenant Crummit drew closer and signaled for the black biplane to
follow him down. The pilot waggled his wings to indicate that he
understood the order and they began the strange descent, Lieutenant
Crummit and Andy in the leading plane, then the strange biplane followed
by the five other army ships.
The operators of the searchlights changed the direction of their beams,
turning them on the field to make it easy for the night landing.
As soon as their own plane had stopped rolling, Andy leaped out and ran
toward the black biplane. Lieutenant Crummit was only one stride behind
and in his right hand he carried a service automatic.
Andy was astounded to hear a familiar voice from the black plane.
“What kind of a reception is this?” was the demand and he looked up into
the face of Harry Curtis, radio operator of the Neptune, whom they had
not expected until the following day at the earliest.
“Who is this fellow?” Lieutenant Crummit wanted to know.
Andy explained that Harry had been ordered to Bellevue to plan for the
radio communication between the Goliath and Neptune during their Arctic
trips and Lieutenant Crummit broke into a broad smile.
“At least we gave you a real army welcome,” he chuckled. “It’s lucky one
of the other boys didn’t reach you first, though. This is restricted
flying territory and he might not have sent his first burst of tracers
alongside just as a warning.”
“I was scared to death,” confessed Harry, who had climbed down from the
plane just in time to receive a hearty greeting from Bert. “Believe me I
sure scrambled around trying to get a handkerchief out of my pants
The civilian pilot of Harry’s plane came in for a severe reprimand from
Lieutenant Crummit, who warned him not to repeat the offense again.
Dynamos for the searchlights were turned off, planes wheeled back into
the hangars and Bellevue turned on its lights once more. They had had
their first night alarm and the army men on the job had proved their
ability to handle the emergency.
Andy, Bert and Harry talked until far into the night, discussing the
proposed meeting of the Goliath and the submarine Neptune at the North
“There’s no doubt in my mind,” said Andy, “that the Goliath will be able
to make the trip on schedule. What I’m wondering about is the tin fish.”
“You can cease worrying right now,” replied Harry. “The Neptune isn’t
a cast-off navy submarine refitted for a polar cruise. It’s a
long-distance underwater cruiser of the latest type and only a
multi-millionaire explorer like Gilbert Mathews could afford to operate
such a craft. Believe me, it’s some boat.”
“And believe me,” added Bert, “the Goliath is some airship. Wait until
you see it in the daylight. Its size will fairly take your breath away.”
“I can believe you easily enough,” replied Harry, “for the eastern
newspapers have been carrying a great many feature stories about the
Goliath. Only the National Airways haven’t been giving out a lot of
actual facts and with reporters barred from the plant here, they’ve had
to guess at part of the stories they’ve been printing. Everyone is
anxious for an actual view of the big ship.”
“You’ll be in on all of the previews,” Andy promised, “and if you stay
with us long enough I can promise you several trial flights.”
“Bert and I will probably be through in a month,” said Harry. “Then I’ll
have to hop down to Brooklyn and make the final adjustments on the set
aboard the Neptune. After that’s done I may be able to get back here for
a few days. I’d certainly like to go along on the trial runs.”
There were no more alarms that night and finally the three young
enthusiasts ceased talking and dropped into deep slumber.
The next day was clear with a warm sun and a definite note of spring was
in the air. Birds, on their northward flight, wheeled over the hangar
and the grass was a fresher, brighter green.
Andy made the rounds at the hangar with Harry, an eager observer, at his
side. Assembly of the main gondola was starting, a task which Andy was
to personally supervise. In this large car would be located the control
room and the passengers quarters with their individual staterooms,
dining salons and lounging quarters. Quarters for the crew were built
inside the hull and in the middle of the ship between the banks of gas
Harry was properly impressed with the size of the Goliath and exclaimed
at the engineering progress which had been made in its construction.
Andy explained how the double-strength duralumin had increased the
strength of the frame to such a point that a disaster such as had
befallen the Shenandoah could not strike the Goliath.
“How many passengers will you be able to carry when the ship goes into
transcontinental service?” Harry asked.
“We’ll have sleeping accommodations for 200,” replied Andy, “and during
daytime runs between large cities will be able to carry an extra 100.”
“Will the fares be pretty stiff?” asked Harry. “Not as much as you would
expect. They will average railroad plus Pullman.”
“In that case,” said Harry, “you can be sure of capacity business for a
good many years.”
“We’ll have to if National Airways is to break even on the operation of
the Goliath,” said Andy.
Bert, who had remained in the office to check over blueprints on an
especially complicated piece of radio equipment for the Goliath, hurried
“Andy,” he said. “Herman Blatz is here.”
“Who?” asked Andy.
“Blatz,” repeated Bert, “Herman Blatz. He’s the civilian observer from
“Of course,” grinned Andy. “I’d forgotten the name for a moment. What
does he look like?”
“Fine looking sort of a fellow,” replied Bert. “He’s just about our own
age; not quite as tall as you are and dark; brown eyes and hair that is
almost coal black.”
“If you don’t mind running back to the office,” said Andy, “tell him
that I’ll be along presently. I want to make sure that the assembly of
the gondola starts smoothly.”
Andy became engrossed in the direction of the subforemen and their crews
and he even forgot Harry, much less the newcomer who was waiting for him
in the office.
An hour later Bert returned.
“What’s the idea?” he demanded. “I thought you said you’d be along right
away. Blatz has been cooling his heels for more than an hour.”
“Sorry,” grinned Andy, who had been helping with the assembly. “I was so
interested I forgot all about him. I’ll come along with you.”
The young engineer crawled out from beneath the duralumin frame on which
he had been working, wiped his hands on a piece of waste, brushed off
his dungarees, the universal uniform of engineers, foremen and mechanics
at the Bellevue plant.
Andy stepped into his office, blinked his eyes to accustom them to the
dark interior, and looked into the face of Lieut. Serge Larko, secret
agent of Alexis Reikoff’s Grega, who had been assigned the task of
bringing about the destruction of the Goliath. But Andy was to know the
visitor as Herman Blatz, civilian observer from Friedrichshafen, and he
stepped forward with a cordial greeting.
“We shall be delighted to have you with us,” said Andy, “and I must
apologize for my tardiness in greeting you. We have just started the
assembly of the main gondola and I have been giving it my personal
“The Goliath is that near completion?” asked Lieutenant Larko, who from
here on we shall speak of in his new role as Herman Blatz.
“We’ll be making trial flights in less than two months,” replied Andy
“It was well that I arrived at this time,” said Blatz, “for I will be
able to remain long enough for the trial flights.”
“The war department communications indicated that you would probably
accompany us on the test trips,” said Andy.
“Yes,” replied Blatz. “Europe is greatly interested in the Goliath and I
feel it a rare privilege that I have been assigned here.”
The young German’s pronunciation of English was clear and precise, his
words close-clipped in the Teuton manner.
“I understand that you have been at Friedrichshafen some time,” said
“Yes,” replied Blatz, who dreaded questions about the Germany airship
base. He wondered how much this young American might really know about
him; how much he might suspect for he had sensed instantly that Andy was
suspicious of every newcomer.
“I spent a year at Friedrichshafen,” said Andy. “It is possible that we
know a number of the same men there. Do you recall Bauer and Schillig,
who were the aces of the navigation class in 1929?”
“The names are familiar,” replied Blatz, “but I went through navigation
the preceding year.” Harry and Bert came into the office and Andy
introduced the German expert and the radio operator of the Neptune.
“You are going to carry a submarine radio operator on an airship?” asked
“Oh, no,” replied Bert quickly. He was about to explain that the Goliath
and the Neptune were to meet at the North pole that summer but a warning
glance from Andy silenced him, and he added, rather lamely.
“Harry and I were department of commerce operators and he’s down here
helping me with the final assembly of the set for the Goliath.”
“Very fortunate. I’m sure,” said Blatz.
“You understand,” said Andy, “that there are certain construction
secrets which I can not divulge?”
“Of course,” replied Blatz, “and I assure you that you need have no
worry on that score.”
Andy suggested that they make a tour of the plant and Blatz readily
assented for he was anxious to see the Goliath. He had received some
idea of the size when he had flown over at sunset two days before and
glimpsed the hangar. As they walked toward the huge structure, he
wondered who had chased him in the red plane. He had been tired after
the long flight across the Atlantic and had lost his way after striking
the Atlantic coast. He had not intended coming as close to Bellevue but
when he finally got his bearings he was less than a hundred miles away
and he could not resist the temptation. But it had been a foolish move
for a little red plane had darted out of the shadows below and pushed
him hard before he had escaped into the coming night. Another hundred
miles and he had slipped out of the cockpit of the Blenkko which had
served him so faithfully in the long flight from Rubania, and had
dropped through the night in his chute. He had clutched a suitcase with
fresh clothes and his precious identification papers as Herman Blatz in
The landing had been easy and after washing the grime of the long flight
off in a nearby creek, he had changed clothes; then burned his old
clothes, the parachute and the suitcase. Into the fire had gone
everything which would identify him as Lieut. Serge Larko of the
Rubanian air force on special duty as an agent of the Gerka. Out of the
timber and onto the highway had stepped Herman Blatz, who had
hitch-hiked to the nearest town where he had rested for a day, bought a
fresh wardrobe, and then continued by train and auto to Bellevue.
A suppressed excitement gripped his whole being He had done the
seemingly impossible, flown the Atlantic and made his way into this
carefully guarded dirigible plant, thanks to the clever subterfuge
Reikoff must have used in getting permission for a civilian observer to
visit Bellevue. He would get in touch with Boris Dubra, the mechanic who
was a member of the Gerka, at the first opportunity.
They entered the hangar and Blatz stopped involuntarily. Andy had
expected that reaction and it told him that the newcomer was a true
airman for the majestic bulk of the Goliath usually struck those who
were viewing it for the first time speechless.
“It’s inspiring,” gasped Blatz. “I never dreamed an airship could be so
“Of course it looks larger in the hangar than it really is,” said Andy,
“but we’re rather proud of the Goliath.”
“Friedrichshafen has never done anything like it,” said Andy. “Or, for
that matter, has anyone else in the world.”
“You’re right,” nodded Blatz. “I wonder that you ever tore yourself away
from here and came out to meet me.”
“I’ve just about lived with the Goliath,” admitted Andy, “for Dad and
Captain Harkins have been forced to make many trips to see about
materials. They will return this afternoon to greet you.”
“I look forward to meeting two such famous men. The honor is great.”
They continued through the hangar, Andy pointing out and explaining the
progress which had been made on the component parts of the great
“One of the pleasantest years of my life,” said Andy, “was the one
passed at Friedrichshafen. I recall the day I went up in one of the
small dirigibles, the Strassburg, I believe. Karl Staab was at the
controls and a wind squall hit us. It pushed us clear across Lake
Constance and we were lucky to get home the same day. Karl was a great
joker but a wonderful navigator despite that.”
“Yes, you’re quite right,” nodded Blatz. “He always enjoyed a good
Andy’s eyes narrowed and he looked closely at the newcomer. He started
to say something; then thought better of it and quickly switched the
conversation from reminiscences of days at Friedrichshafen to the
Andy, Bert, Harry and Blatz lunched together at the hotel where Andy
introduced the German expert to the heads of the construction staff at
Bellevue. Blatz was accorded a warm welcome and after lunch resumed his
tour of the plant with Andy.
In mid-afternoon a National Airways plane dropped in from the north. The
army flyers, warned of its coming, did not roar into the sky in angry
pursuit, but squatted beside their planes and watched the cabin
monoplane skid to a stop in front of one of the smaller hangars.
Andy excused himself and ran toward the plane. The first man out of the
cabin was his father, and Andy received an affectionate greeting.
“Everything going O.K. son?” asked the vice president of the National
“We’ve had a little excitement. Dad,” replied Andy, “but it didn’t
affect the work on the Goliath. We’re well ahead of schedule.”
“Fine,” replied Andy’s father. “We’ll need all of the extra time for
trial flights before we start our northward trip.”
“Then it’s definitely settled that we’ll meet the Neptune at the North
“Very definitely settled,” replied Charles. High. “The contracts were
signed yesterday. Captain Harkins has our copies with him.”
The tall, bronzed airman who was the chief designer and captain of the
Goliath stepped out of the cabin of the monoplane.
“Hello, Andy,” he said, extending his hand for a cordial greeting. “Have
you started the assembly of the main gondola?”
“Work got under way on that project this morning,” replied Andy, “and
the crews are making unusually good time.”
“I’ve decided on several minor changes,” said Captain Harkins, “but they
need not delay the general construction work on the main car.”
As they walked toward the office buildings, Andy briefly explained what
had happened during their absence, how Dubra had attempted to damage the
hangar, the passage and pursuit of the foreign plane, the arrival of the
army patrols and Dubra’s admission that an attempt was under way to
destroy the Goliath.
“The wonder of it is,” said Andy’s father, “that some foreign power
hasn’t made the attempt before. Now that we are fore-warned, there is
little chance of success in damaging the big ship.”
Andy saw Herman Blatz waiting for him some distance away and he spoke to
his father and Captain Harkins in low tones, explaining that Blatz had
been sent to Bellevue on special orders of the war department.
“I can see no objection to that,” said Captain Harkins. “Doctor Eckener
at Friedrichshafen has placed us deeply in his debt through suggestions
on the improvement of our general design and one of his observers is
welcome as far as I am concerned.”
“National Airways feels the same way,” added Andy’s father.
Andy took his father and Captain Harkins over to Blatz where he made the
necessary introductions. They were soon engaged in a spirited discussion
of the improvements in aircraft building which were represented in the
Goliath and Andy left them to walk back to his own office.
The arrival of Blatz had disturbed him strangely. He had hoped that he
would be able to welcome the newcomer with real cordiality but instead
he found a mounting barrier of resentment rising between himself and the
Blatz’ story didn’t ring true. Andy had tested him that afternoon when
he had recalled the incident at Friedrichshafen when he and Karl Staab
had been blown across Lake Constance in the old Strassburg. Blatz had
recalled knowing Staab when, in reality, there was no such navigator at
Friedrichshafen. The whole story and the name had been invented by Andy
to test Blatz. If, as he claimed, he had been connected with the
Friedrichshafen plant for a number of years, he could not have
remembered a man who did not exist. Blatz had agreed too readily. Andy’s
suspicions were aroused and he promised himself an investigation.
When Herman Blatz, alias Lieut. Serge Larko of the Rubanian secret
police, was alone in his room late that afternoon preparing for supper,
he was torn between conflicting emotions. He had reached Bellevue
safely. He was even inside the plant of the National Airways, accepted
as a German civilian observer. The opportunity for him to wreck the
Goliath might present itself at any moment but two mighty emotional
forces were at work. One was his inherent love for anything man-made
that could conquer the elements. Only that afternoon he had viewed the
greatest of all airships and he quailed inwardly at the thought that his
task was to destroy the mighty craft.
He heard the call for supper and descended to the dining room where he
was seated at the head table with Andy, Bert, Harry, Andy’s father and
Captain Harkins. There was a vacant chair at his left and he wondered
who the late-comer would be.
Conversation at the table was devoted almost solely to topics centering
around the Goliath and the young Rubanian airman reveled in the sheer
joy it brought him. For the time he forgot his ominous mission and was
light-hearted and gay.
Supper was half over when a quiet man slipped into the chair beside him.
Andy turned and introduced the late arrival.
“Mr. Blatz,” he said, “I want you to know Merritt Timms, chief of the
secret service agents here.”
Blatz acknowledged the introduction mechanically and Andy, watching his
every move and facial expression, failed to see any note of alarm. It
was well for Blatz that Andy’s eyes could not penetrate beneath the
surface for Blatz’s mind was working rapidly.
The chief of the secret service agents at Bellevue seated beside him!
Had he aroused suspicion already? Had there been a slip somewhere along
the line; could these alert Americans know his identity and be playing
with him, waiting for him to make a slip so they could send him to some
He knew the careful workings of the Gerka and he doubted that a slip had
been made. That thought gave him some reassurance and his gay attitude
They finished the meal and chairs were pushed back.
“I’m going over to the hospital,” said Timms to Andy. “Want to go along
and hear what Dubra has to say?”
Andy darted a glance at Blatz. He saw the civilian observer start ever
so slightly. It was hardly more than a tremor but it helped to verify
“I’ll go,” he replied. “Perhaps Blatz here would like to come with us?”
“Yes, of course,” replied the other. “Some mechanic hurt?”
“A little,” replied Timms. “A couple of bullets hurt him. He was an
agent of the Gerka, Rubanian secret police organization, planted here to
damage the hangar. He failed and the guards didn’t miss when he tried to
“I’m surprised to hear that,” said Blatz. “I didn’t suppose anyone would
direct any destructive efforts toward the Goliath.”
“We’ll be surprised if anyone else does,” said Timms, “for we know that
Alex Reikoff, dictator of Rubania, would like nothing better than to
hear about the destruction of the Goliath. As a result, we’ve taken
every precaution that is humanly possible.”
“That is wise,” said Blatz, “for in Europe we have come to fear Reikoff
as a menace to the peace of the world.”
They were in the doorway of the hospital now and Blatz saw Andy’s keen
blue eyes boring into him, probing as though questioning the truth of
his words. He felt that his answers, especially the reference to Reikoff
as a menace, had been well put.
A slight infection had set in on Dubra’s right leg and the Rubanian was
restless with pain.
“Hello, Dubra,” said the secret service chief. “Just dropped in to see
how you are getting along.”
“They’re killing me,” cried the man on the bed. “My leg hurts so.”
“They’re doing no such thing,” replied Timms. “The doctor here is making
every effort to save your worthless life. Have you got anything else to
add to what you said the other night?”
Dubra’s eyes were bright with fever but his mind was clear and he shook
Blatz kept well in the background. He had lost the ally Reikoff had told
him he would have. Dubra, over-anxious to cause harm, had been caught
and wounded. His usefulness as an agent of destruction was at an end and
Blatz would have to go on alone. Perhaps it would be easier that way.
There was no more information to be had from the wounded Rubanian and
they left the hospital. When they returned to the hotel, Blatz excused
himself and went to his room. Timms signified his intention to do
likewise but changed his mind when Andy insisted that they take a walk
“What’s the idea?” the secret service chief asked when they were well
away from the hotel and walking in the open.
“It’s Blatz,” said Andy. “There’s something about him that doesn’t ring
The assistant pilot of the Goliath related the incident of the afternoon
with the fake story of the adventure at Friedrichshafen.
“That sounds a little fishy,” admitted Timms, “but that’s not enough to
accuse a man of being a spy.”
“I realize that,” admitted Andy, “but you should have seen him tonight
when you asked me if I wanted to go to the hospital and see Dubra.
Blatz’s face paled and he trembled ever so slightly. No one else noticed
it but I had been watching him closely.”
“Still there is nothing definite,” insisted Timms.
“There’s enough so that I’m not going to let him get very far away from
me,” replied Andy. “Can’t you start a quiet tracer through the secret
service; find out where and when he landed; how he came to receive the
permission from the war department and anything else your people in
Europe can dig up?”
“It might be rather serious if your suspicions proved unfounded,” said
“I’m willing to take the risk,” replied Andy.
“Then I’ll see what can be done,” promised the secret service chief.
Events during the next month at Bellevue were quiet enough. Andy kept a
close watch of Blatz, but the German observer’s conduct was model. He
confined his activities solely to observance and taking notes on the
parts of the Goliath to which he was allowed access and he made no move
to delve into the military secrets which were a part of the giant craft.
Bert and Harry had been busy with the installation of the intricate
radio equipment which was a part of the Goliath. Late in April they
completed their joint task and Bert announced that the communications
apparatus was ready.
Assembly of the gondola had been completed, motor crews were busy tuning
up the 12 giant engines which were to provide the power and fitters
worked overtime on the installation of the luxurious furnishings of the
lounge and sleeping quarters in the passenger cabins.
The gondola of the Goliath was a two-deck affair. In the fore part of
the lower deck was the control and operations room with the
communications room just behind. The main lounge was located on this
deck with the dining room and the chef’s quarters at the rear of the
gondola. An enclosed promenade deck, encircled the lounge and dining
room. The upper deck was devoted solely to passenger cabins, which were
fitted like the staterooms of a Pullman. Every modern convenience for
the comfort of travelers had been built into the gondola and the Goliath
was truly a revelation in luxury.
Blatz was enthusiastic in his praise of the great machine and Andy was
forced to admit to himself that his earlier suspicions appeared
unfounded. He relaxed his vigilance somewhat and the secret agent of the
Gerka sensed this change in the assistant pilot’s attitude. Between them
a real friendship started to develop and it was only natural that Bert
and Harry were included in this feeling of comradeship.
On more than one occasion Blatz proved his sound technical knowledge,
which could have been gained only at Friedrichshafen, a fact which
influenced Andy in quieting his suspicions. In addition, there had been
no report from the Washington headquarters of the secret service and it
appeared that Blatz’s record was all right.
Shipments of helium, the life-blood of the Goliath, were arriving daily
from the Texas gas fields. The long, narrow cylinders were stacked in
rows outside the hangar. When needed they would be trucked inside, the
valves opened, and their contents would flow into the gas cells inside
the duralumin hull. In this respect the United States led all the other
nations in its precious supply of helium, a non-inflammable gas. Some of
the Europeans were forced to use hydrogen, a highly inflammable gas, the
use of which had resulted in some of the major dirigible catastrophes.
Work on the Goliath was well ahead of schedule and when Bert and Harry
finished their work on the radio equipment, Harry announced that it
would be necessary for him to return to Brooklyn at once for a final
test of the equipment of the Neptune.
The submarine was to leave soon and Andy and Bert obtained leave to
accompany Harry on his return east. When Blatz heard of the plans, he
asked permission to accompany them. It would give him an opportunity to
visit the American headquarters of the Gerka in New York.
“You might just as well make it a real holiday,” Andy’s father said when
apprised of their plans. “One of our cabin monoplanes will be in
tomorrow and I’ll see that you are given the use of it for a week. Then
you can fly east together.”
The suggestion appealed to them and they accepted with enthusiasm. Two
days later they were ready to depart. After stowing their luggage into
the baggage compartment of the trim, fast National Airways monoplane,
they each took farewell looks at the Goliath and then climbed into their
Andy was at the controls with Blatz in the seat beside him. Bert and
Harry were sprawled in comfortable wicker chairs to the rear. The plane
skimmed across the field and took off in a steep climb, circled the
field once, and then headed northeast in a bee-line for New York.
The mountains, their crests covered with the fresh green of early spring
foliage, reared their misty heads to the east. They would cut diagonally
across them and Andy held the stick back and watched the altimeter
climb. At five thousand he leveled off and settled down to the trip.
They had plenty of gas to make it on one long hop.
Blatz was enjoying the trip, the rolling country beneath, the mountains
which they were approaching and even the thrill of being in the air,
which never grew old to him. His eyes sparkled and there was a bright
glow to his cheeks. He’d like to get his hands on the controls and see
how this American commercial job handled.
An hour later Andy turned to Blatz.
“Ever handled a ship like this?” he asked.
“I’ve done a little flying,” admitted the European.
“Think you could handle it?”
Blatz nodded eagerly and Andy slipped out from behind the controls which
the other took over.
Andy watched him keenly and noticed that Blatz settled into his chair
like a veteran. His touch on the controls was firm but light and, unlike
the beginner, he did not over-control.
The air over the mountains was rougher and Andy wondered how Blatz would
come through. His question was soon answered. A down draft swirled them
downward three hundred feet in the twinkling of an eye. A novice would
have been panic-stricken, but Blatz gave her the gun and flipped out of
“Good work,” said Andy.
“More luck than anything else,” was the reply, but Andy was very much
inclined to disagree. There was no question in his mind now. Blatz was
not only a good dirigible man but he was an expert flyer as well. The
long-allayed suspicions Andy had harbored in the first weeks the
civilian observer had been at Bellevue were re-awakened. He would
communicate his distrust to Bert and Harry when they had a chance to
talk alone. Until now he had kept his misgivings to himself but he felt
that it was time the others knew how he felt.
They lunched over eastern Pennsylvania with the plane clipping the miles
off at 110 an hour. Sandwiches had been brought in a liberal supply but
the cool air had whetted their appetites and the basket of lunch soon
“Oh, boy,” said Bert. “Wait until I get to New York and sink my teeth in
a big, juicy steak. Honestly, I’m almost starved. Those sandwiches were
“How long before we’ll be in?” asked Harry, who likewise confessed that
the lunch had not satisfied his hunger.
“Another hour,” replied Andy, who was back at the controls. “Next time
we’ll bring a restaurant along. From the way you fellows complain
someone might get the idea you’d been working this morning.”
Fifty-five minutes later they dipped over the National Airways field on
the Jersey side and Andy nosed down to land. Blatz touched his arm.
“If Bert and Harry won’t starve for five more minutes,” he said, “I’d
like to see New York from the air.”
“We’ll manage to hold out another few minutes,” conceded the hungry
pair, and Andy headed the monoplane east across the Jersey flats.
They dipped a wing in salute as the Statue of Liberty was passed and
climbed steeply as they approached the Battery. On up town they sped
over the canyons between the skyscrapers where hurrying crowds of
shoppers were thronging the streets. The Empire State’s gleaming tower
was ahead, then beside, and then behind them. The Chrysler spire
glittered in the sun and they looked down on the crowds in Times Square.
Central Park was a fleeting panorama. Then they were over the Hudson,
back to Jersey and sliding down out of the skyway with motor idling.
They touched gently and rolled to a landing in front of the main control
station where the number of their plane was taken and they were assigned
to a hangar. Andy taxied the monoplane down the line to the No. 5 hangar
where mechanics were ready to take it in charge.
“How did you like your aerial view of New York?” Andy asked Blatz.
“It was marvelous, breath-taking,” laughed the other. “In Europe we have
no city to compare with it. Your buildings; they go into the clouds.”
“I’ll say,” replied Harry. “I’ve been on the Empire State tower when the
clouds were so thick you couldn’t see the street.”
They entered the main administration building at the airport, cleaned
up, and then took a taxi for New York. Through Jersey City and under the
Hudson they went in the Holland Tubes and then through the maze of
mid-afternoon traffic to their hotel just off Times Square.
While Andy was registering for the party, Bert saw the sign above the
door of the grillroom, and, with a “See you later,” departed to order
the steak he had promised himself.
Andy, Blatz and Harry went up to their rooms, assured themselves that
the double quarters were satisfactory, and then went down to join Bert
in the grill.
“I ordered steaks for everyone,” said the radio operator of the Goliath.
“Anyone have any objections?”
There was no vocal protest and the steaks were placed before them a
“I’ve got to go over to the shipyard and report that I’m in town,” said
Harry. “Anyone like to run over to Brooklyn now and see what the Neptune
“Count me in,” replied Bert. “I want to see what kind of a tin can
you’re going to use in your attempt to reach the North Pole.”
“How about you two?” asked Harry, turning to Andy and Blatz.
“I’ll be glad to go in the morning,” said Blatz, “but just now I’m a
little tired. I’ll stay here at the hotel, rest a while, and then
perhaps stroll out and look around the city a bit.”
“You’ll have to count me out, too,” said Andy. “I’ve a few errands that
must be attended to and the sooner they are out of the way the more time
I’ll have to spend over at the shipyard.”
Harry and Bert departed, after promising that they would return early in
the evening so they could enjoy a show together. Blatz went up to their
double room and Andy sat down at a writing desk to pen several important
notes. He had been writing not more than five minutes when he looked up
and saw a familiar figure going through the main doorway. He recognized
the German civilian observer. But Blatz had just said that he was tired
and was going to his room to rest?
Without waiting to ponder the question, Andy picked up the note he had
been writing, stuffed it in his pocket, and hurried toward the entrance.
It was late afternoon and dusk had settled but he reached the street
just in time to see Blatz step into a cab. There was something furtive,
mysterious in the other’s manner and Andy decided to follow. He motioned
for a cab cruising by to stop. The driver was an alert, keen looking
fellow and he responded instantly when Andy spoke to him.
“Keep that cab ahead in sight,” said Andy, “and there’s an extra five
Gears meshed harshly as the cab lurched ahead and Andy started on one of
the strangest adventures of his life.