THE SKY SQUAD WINS

Roaring across the runway, Bob’s one purpose was to use the airplane as
a missile, to run it into the other before Sandy Jim could rise. In that
he failed. The other ship was up, and Bob knew that he had so much speed
that he must take off or ram into a hangar.

By a spurt of the cold engine, risking a stall to get his trucks over
the hangar, Bob soared.

Leveling off, he glanced around. To his amazement he saw Al snapping on
his safety belt in the rear cockpit seat. Al waved a hand, pointing to
one side. And Bob looked.

“He’s having trouble,” Al screamed. “He’s working on something!”

Bob began to climb. If he could force Jim to earth as he had been herded
the night before—

Jim saw his move, and with a demon’s venom drew a weapon and began to
fire.

But Bob sideslipped, dropped steeply into a dive to come out of the
slip, and as he drew the ship to level flight, heard something strike
the prop, saw it shatter.

Jim had flung the metal gun so that the airplane ran into it.

Bob began to look for a way to spiral back to the testing field. His
propeller, with a blade shattered, was useless.

Al screeched again. To the west, coming fast, was a ship they both
recognized. Lang was returning in Griff’s speedster. Also, as Al pointed
out, the cabin ‘plane was rising from the landing field.

Al was so excited that he waggled the stick.

Then Bob saw!

Forestalled by the approach of Lang, with the other ship rising to
chase, with his engine functioning badly, and the resulting distraction
of attention, Jim’s safety was endangered.

The very thing that he had done when he planned to urge Mr. Tredway to
test the ‘plane—crossing two wires—had prevented his escape.

The new carburetor, leaking, dripped a rich gas and air mixture onto the
sparking wires—there was a flash of flames as Bob looked.

Almost he forgot his own purpose, but with steeled will he held his
tight spiral, saw the cabin ship was out of his way, shot the field, and
landed.

When Lang and the others joined him beside the smoking ruins of the new
ship, they saw Sandy Jim, who had tried to escape by jumping before the
flames reached him.

Wrenched, broken, bruised, he was still able to talk.

“Come through, Jim—what’s the truth?” asked the Chief.

“I hated Tredway from the time he got the girl I wanted to marry,” Jim
panted, as they gave him water. “I went from bad to worse—went to the
dogs. I got in with tough men, tried prize-fighting, that’s how my face
got changed, so I wasn’t easy to remember and recognize.

“Laid low for a while, then I gave up plans for revenge, and decided to
come to work here to be close to the woman I loved, only, last Fall, she
went away. So I knew Tredway had drove her to separate—”

“You’re crazy! My wife went to Europe for a long visit with relatives in
France!”

“Honest? Then all my hate was on a wrong idea. Well, you know most of
the rest. I damaged ships, worked with the bookkeeper and the supply
clerk and a manager of The Windsock to substitute cheap stuff for good,
sell the good and ruin the plant—but it was all no use—and started on a
wrong idea—no use to say I’m sorry—but—well, boys, handle me easy—I’m no
good, but I can feel pain!”

In that fashion the culprit confessed.

“I feel sorry for Jimmy-junior, and the man’s wife,” said Curt, after
the ambulance had taken Sandy Jim to the hospital.

“Jimmy-junior isn’t his son,” explained Mr. Parsons. “He is the son of
Sandy’s brother, whom Jim took to raise. It would be a good idea if you
young men took him into the Sky Squad now, to take his mind off his
sorrow.”

“But I saw his mother and I thought she was Jim’s wife,” said Al.

“No, she’s Jimmy-junior’s mother, but Sandy’s sister-in-law.”

“Then let’s go,” urged Bob. “It’s just about time to wake up our new
member.”