He turned about

When Steve awoke from his coma, it was late afternoon. He had been lying
there, silent and unconscious, for more than twelve hours.

He looked about for Lefty but the boy was nowhere in sight. An army of
vicious ants were crawling over his hands and legs, leaving large, ugly
and painful red welts in their wake.

The boy’s face became a contorted mass of fear and suffering as he
raised himself to his elbow and shouted the name of his companion.

At the sound of Steve’s voice, Lefty, who had been picking wild berries
from near-by bushes, came running back to the wrecked plane and bent
over beside the boy, brushing away the ants and wiping the perspiration
from his brow.

“Help me, help me, Lefty!” Steve cried out dismally, “I can’t stand it—I
can’t!”

The mechanic pulled the limp boy to the other side of the wing, placing
his own windjammer under Steve’s head as a pillow, leaving himself
exposed now to the swarm of crawling ants that were already upon the
sleeve of his shirt.

Steve’s eyes seemed to see something in the sky above and with every bit
of remaining strength left in his body, pulled at the other man’s arm
and shouted: “Lefty, look! There’s the planes—they’ve found us!”

Not without a sharp thrill of excitement, the other man raised his eyes
heavenward only to see a swarm of black buzzards flying over their
heads.

He turned away with keen disappointment, though attempting to hide his
feelings from Steve, whose eyes were still glued upon the birds of ill
omen.

“Look, Lefty, can’t you see? They’re circling us—they’re going to land!”

He noticed that the other man didn’t respond and, looking closer,
realized that what he believed to be planes were merely the
hallucinations of a fever-torn mind.

“I—I thought they were ships,” he whispered as he fell back on the
disabled wing, closing his eyes with a death-like relaxation that
startled the other boy.

“Steve, Steve!” Lefty cried, working to bring his buddy out of the
passive submission of physical defeat that had enveloped him, “don’t
give up; they’ll find us, sure!”

The sick man’s eyes fluttered open as they each gazed at one another for
a brief moment. The realization that the end was hovering near left the
two men with a morbid resignation of complacency registered upon their
faces.

“Remember what you promised,” Steve said a little above a whisper.
“Don’t let ’em get me! You know—the ship—I’d do the same for you!”

Lefty nodded grimly as his face took on an appearance of cold,
indifferent immobility. When he looked down again, Steve smiled up at
him, gasped and fell back, motionless. He lifted the man’s eyelids, felt
his pulse and listened for a sign of life as his ear rested against the
other’s heart.

All was over—it was Taps for the pilot and Phelps braced himself for his
next ordeal as he covered the dead boy’s face with the windjammer.

What he was about to do, took a great deal of courage, but it was the
boy’s last wish and he braced himself for the ordeal with that belief in
mind.

Slowly, he reached into his pocket and brought forth a match, striking
it and touching the flame to the canvas of the wing, just below the
boy’s head.

In a moment, the last rites for the dead man had been performed and the
remains of the plane, with its silent pilot, disappeared in a burst of
flames.

[Illustration: The last rites performed, the remains of the plane, with
its silent pilot, disappeared in a burst of flames.]

As Panama flew over the deserted corral and across the mountain, he saw
a thin spiral of smoke rising through the tree tops just ahead.

The expression on his face changed to one of mingled fear and hope as he
flew nearer the spot from which the increasing volume of smoke came.

At that moment, the huge flames had just consumed the last of the plane
and its silent occupant, dying down now to a small blaze. Lefty, resting
upon his knees in silent, terrified meditation, raised his eyes to the
skies above just as the purr of an airplane motor reached his ears.

Panama spied the lone man and the burning plane at the same moment that
Lefty raised his eyes heavenward.

He studied the ground below, searching for a safe place to land, then
nosed toward earth and circled overhead before making a final decision.

Just over the mountain, two companies of the rebel army had returned to
the scene of their abject defeat at the hands of the Marines a week
before.

Their purpose was to reclaim their dead now that they were certain the
Marines had left that particular sector.

As they prepared to descend the steep mountain to the corral below, one
of them looked to the west and saw the spiral of smoke and the lone
plane with its nose turned earthward.

“Americano weeth bad motor, mebe?” one of the group said in broken
English.

The others smiled and, without further ado, turned in their tracks and
started up the mountain, prepared to open a surprise attack upon the
helpless airman going toward the swamps below.

Panama finally effected a landing in a spot not far from where Lefty was
standing, watching the pilot’s descent.

As the ship touched earth, the boy ran forward, his heart filled with
mute gratitude, though still unaware as to the identity of his rescuer.

The sergeant jumped out of the cockpit and inspected his landing gear,
pushing back his goggles for a better view just as the boy came up
alongside of the fuselage.

Before either of them could speak, a sharp crack was heard and Panama
fell to the ground, a victim from a bandit’s bullet.

The rebels were now lined up on the ridge of the mountain, prepared to
descend and after killing the other Marine, capture the plane.

Lefty swung about just as one of the Sandino followers raised his gun
and fired again, hitting the landing gear of the plane and knocking off
the hub of the right wheel.

The boy fell to the ground on all fours, unhurt as the rebels again
opened fire and the bullets flew wild, missing their mark.

Phelps smiled grimly and crawled over to where the motionless form of
Panama lay outstretched, over the cowling.

Master of a tense situation for the first time in his life, Lefty pulled
his rescuer down into the cockpit just as the bandits advanced and
opened fire again.

Without wasting a single moment, the boy whipped the machine gun of the
plane into place, made certain that the magazine was filled and then
trained it upon the line of approaching rebels, opening up wide and
spitting forth deadly fire in all directions, causing a host of
fatalities in the ranks of the bandits as, one by one, they toppled over
and fell down the side of the mountain to the swamps below.

Certain that he was free of at least the first line of the advancing
bandits, the boy jumped into the forward cockpit, swung the plane about,
and facing the few remaining rebels, gave the ship the gun, taxiing
forward, and smiting down the terror-stricken men before they had time
to run to a protective covering.

Taxiing his ship to a take-off, a look of grim determination appeared
upon the boy’s face that finally broke out in a broad smile of triumph
as the ship gained altitude.

He turned about and saw that Panama was just coming to, cognizant for
the first time that Lefty was piloting the plane.

“I did it!” the proud mechanic boasted over his successful feat in
making a perfect take-off, “I got her off the ground this time!”

Panama, despite the excruciating pain caused by the wound the rebels had
inflicted, smiled broadly and shouted: “Atta boy!”

During the hour that Lefty proudly piloted the ship across mountains,
rivers and an impenetrable jungle, conscious of the pleasant task that
rested upon his shoulders, he enjoyed a good ceiling and clear sailing.

The only thing that darkened his sudden touch of glory was his deep
concern over Panama’s condition.

“What a terrible, unfair Fate it would be,” he thought, “if anything
should happen to old Panama now, after all we have gone through?”

He looked back to make certain that the sergeant was comfortable and
cognizant of what was going on around them.

Each time he turned his head, his eyes met those of the wounded man’s
who smiled back gamely, pantomiming to the boy to watch his stick and
keep the ship leveled.

It was dusk by the time the lone plane circled over the field at
Managua. The major and his aides, as well as Elinor and a group of
ground men, stood watching the approaching mechanical bird flying toward
them.

“That’s Williams’ ship all right,” Harding announced, “and he’s got
somebody with him!”

Elinor, consumed with thrilling suspense, listened eagerly to the
major’s disclosure. Next to where she stood, an officer was focusing a
pair of army binoculars upon the plane now circling the field.

Without as much as an apology, she excitedly grabbed the glasses from
the man’s hands and leveled them on the ship, her heart action
increasing by leaps and bounds as she joyfully shouted: “It’s Lefty!
It’s Lefty and he’s flying the ship!”

The major gazed at the girl with an expression of doubt, accepting the
binoculars as she held them out to him and focusing them upward on the
plane.

By that time, several other pilots had reached the field and joined the
excited group as they watched Lefty pilot the ship with a masterly hand.

Panama looked down at the crowd below, then leaned forward with great
exertion and screamed into the pilot’s ear: “They’re all there watching
you. Go ahead and show ’em you can do something!”

“But how about you?” the boy yelled back. “You’re badly hurt!”

“Never mind me,” the sergeant laughed hoarsely. “Give ’em a real show!”

With that, Panama took keen delight in unscrewing the joy stick in the
rear cockpit, contemptuously raising it above his head and throwing it
overboard.

Lefty watched this gallant gesture on the part of the unselfish sergeant
and grinned with appreciation, realizing that Williams’ idea in throwing
the other stick was to leave no doubt upon the minds of those below as
to who deserved the laurels for the successful flight.

The wheel of the landing gear from which the hub had been shot to pieces
by the bandit marksman back in the swamps, was slowly revolving upon its
loose axle, certain to cause a serious injury to the passengers of the
plane if it fell or broke before they landed.

Ignorant of this dangerous problem that faced them, Lefty turned the
plane into a stunt, doing a slow loop, followed by an easy roll and then
a fast one, creating a beautiful spectacle against the darkening sky.

Major Harding moved nervously from one foot to the other with eyes glued
upon the stunting ship above.

“What’s that crazy fool trying to do?” he roared with impatience.

As for Elinor, she was beside herself with anxiety and perplexity,
suddenly feeling a trifle easier as she spied the commander’s lips curl
in a sly grin.

“And I was the one that said he couldn’t fly!” Harding admitted with
enthusiasm.

Lefty then piloted the ship into an Immelman turn, followed by a spin
and a dive through the nearest company street as the men below scattered
in all directions.

As the ship once more turned its nose upward and again gained altitude,
the wheel slipped off the landing gear and fell to the ground, in plain
view of the audience of pilots, officers and ground men.

One of the mechanics ran forward and picked up the wheel, holding it
high above his head to inform Lefty that his landing gear was damaged.
The boy caught sight of the warning gesture and as his expression of
triumph once more became overshadowed with gravity, he realized the
danger that awaited them, thinking first of Panama’s safety.

Elinor, suddenly transfixed with horror, was another of the audience who
saw the wheel fall as did the major who, with a trained presence of
mind, ordered the man nearest to him to call out the ambulance.

“I lost a wheel!” the boy shouted back to the sergeant in the rear
cockpit who replied by lifting his head and laughing with fiendish
merriment.

“You better take the ’chute and jump for it!” Lefty yelled, indicating
the parachute. “I’ll stick and attempt to land her safely.”

“Not me,” the hard-boiled top kick called back. “I’m gonna stay right
along and see what you’re gonna do!”

They both secretly became a trifle sick at heart and felt a heavy lump
in their stomachs as they heard the shrill blast of the ambulance below
and, looking out, saw the men in white uniforms hurrying across the
field, bearing stretchers.

The boy rose and managed to place some cushions around Panama who
scoffed angrily over the unwarranted attention paid to him.

Once more at the controls, he dived down just as the fire crew reached
the field and the men left the truck, carrying axes and extinguishers,
ready for an immediate and impending emergency.

The ship hit the ground with a thud, taxiing along the field on one
wheel in a perfect landing. Finally losing speed, the other end of the
axle struck into the earth and the plane spun around in a circle without
causing either injury or damage.

When the ship finally came to a sudden stop, the crowd on the field
rushed forward and surrounded the two men still seated in the cockpits.

Among the group was the major, whose face plainly showed his pride and
happiness over the skillful landing. He confronted the boy with a
beaming, warm smile as Lefty jumped out of the ship.

Almost inarticulate in his praise, he wasted no time in freeing the
silver wings from above his left breast pocket and pinning them on
Lefty, saying: “Take mine, son, until I can get you a pair of your own!”

[Illustration: “Take mine, son, until I can get you a pair of your
own!”]

Ever since the first minute he had entered the Flying Corps, the boy had
lived for the great day when his efforts and craftsmanship would earn
him his wings. Now that the glorious moment had arrived, he wasn’t the
slightest bit interested in the solemn procedure, for over to the right
of the plane, Elinor stood alone, her cheeks flushed crimson with pride
for the man she idolized.

She threw pride to the winds and, with strong determination, walked
directly to the spot where Lefty awaited her coming with suppressed
eagerness.

Just as he took her in his arms, unmindful of the others about them who
watched the procedure interestedly, two Bed Cross men carried Panama
from the plane and, at the sergeant’s command, brought him over to where
the lovers stood in a warm embrace.

“What did I tell you about that Lindbergh stuff?” Panama called to the
boy as a wide grin spread over his face from ear to ear, and then gazing
at Elinor with a look of unselfish devotion, assured the girl in no
uncertain manner, “Well, even if you didn’t get ‘We’ you sure landed the
next best thing!”

The boy and girl smiled after the sergeant with gratitude and as the
medical attendants carried him off, they once more became locked in each
others arms, sealing the joining together at last with a long, lingering
kiss.

Major Harding ran across the field after Williams, finally joining up
with the sergeant as the attendants carried him down the company street
to his tent.

“Sergeant!” the commander panted, “I won’t forget your bravery this
time! I’m going to see that you get a medal if I have to go all the way
back to Washington and fetch it for you myself!”

Williams smiled in a sly, mischievous way as he watched Lefty and Elinor
walk across the field, arm in arm, wrapped completely in their new-found
happiness.

“Better save all that expense, sir,” he advised the major in his typical
droll manner of speech, “there’s goin’ to be a weddin’ around this base
soon and them kids will be needin’ dishes and things!”

The End

There’s More to Follow!

More stories of the sort you like; more, probably, by the author of this
one; more than 500 titles all told by writers of world-wide reputation,
in the Authors’ Alphabetical List which you will find on the _reverse
side_ of the wrapper of this book. Look it over before you lay it aside.
There are books here you are sure to want—some, possibly, that you have
_always_ wanted.

It is a _selected_ list; every book in it has achieved a certain measure
of success.

The Grosset & Dunlap list is not only the greatest Index of Good Fiction
available, it represents in addition a generally accepted Standard of
Value. It will pay you to

_Look on the Other Side of the Wrapper_

In case the wrapper is lost write to the publishers for a complete
catalog.

PERCIVAL C. WREN’S NOVELS

May be had wherever books are sold. Ask for Grosset and Dunlap’s List

This brilliant chronicler of the French Foreign Legion is an Englishman
born in Devonshire and educated at Oxford. He is a veteran of three
armies, the crack British Cavalry Corps, the French Foreign Legion and
the Indian Army in East Africa.

BEAU GESTE

Mystery, courage, love, self sacrifice, adventure on the burning sands
of North Africa—in the ranks of the French Foreign Legion.

BEAU SABREUR

A sequel to Beau Geste in which the age old spell of the desert is the
background for a tale of mystery.

STEPSONS OF FRANCE

A book of short stories whose scenes are laid in the same fascinating
and desolate country as Beau Geste—Northern Africa—and whose characters
are fighters in the Legion.

WAGES OF VIRTUE

A modern Enoch Arden reappears and goes back to remain “dead” in the
Legion of the Condemned, but his story comes out at last.

FATHER GREGORY

Mystery and Father Gregory play a desperate game on a picturesque
background of Hindustan. Written with gusto by the author of “Beau
Geste.”

THE SNAKE AND THE SWORD

Another romance of the East by the author of the Foreign Legion stories.
The fascinating mystery of Kipling’s India is the background for a
strange love.

DRIFTWOOD SPARS

The soul of a man in whose soul the East and West has met—his father of
Pathan birth, his mother of Scotch. Laid in India, it is a romance of
mystery and tragedy.

GROSSET & DUNLAP, Publishers, NEW YORK

THE NOVELS OF SINCLAIR LEWIS

May be had wherever books are sold. Ask for Grosset and Dunlap’s List.

Within the space of a few years Sinclair Lewis has become one of the
most Distinguished of American Novelists.

ELMER GANTRY

Elmer Gantry, hypocrite and voluptuary, is painted against a background
of church members and professing Christians scarcely less hypocritical
than he. In this book Sinclair Lewis adds a violent stroke to his
growing picture of materialistic America.

MANTRAP

A clever satire on the adventures of a New York lawyer seeking rest and
diversion in the northwoods. Instead of rest he finds trouble in the
person of his host’s wife—young, pretty and flirtatious.

ARROWSMITH

The story of a country doctor whose search for truth led him to the
heights of the medical profession, to the heights and depths of love and
marriage and to final peace as a quietly heroic laboratory worker in the
backwoods of Vermont.

BABBITT

Every man will recognize in the character of George Babbitt, something
of himself. He was a booster and a joiner, but behind all of his
activities was a wistful wonder as to what life holds.

MAIN STREET

Carol Kennicott’s attempt to bring life and culture to Gopher Prairie
and Gopher Prairie’s reaction toward her teachings have made this book
one of the most famous of the last decade.

GROSSET & DUNLAP, Publishers, NEW YORK

STIRRING TALES OF THE GREAT WAR

May be had wherever books are sold. Ask for Grosset & Dunlap’s list

WAR BIRDS … The Diary of an Unknown Aviator

Soaring, looping, zooming, spitting hails of leaden death, planes
everywhere in a war darkened sky. WAR BIRDS is a tale of youth, loving,
fighting, dying.

SERGEANT EADIE … Leonard Nason

This is the private history of the hard luck sergeant whose exploits in
CHEVRONS made that story one of the most dramatic and thrilling of war
books.

WINGS … John Monk Saunders

Based on the great Paramount picture, WINGS is the Big Parade of the
air, the gallant, fascinating story of an American air pilot.

LEAVE ME WITH A SMILE … Elliott W. Springs

Henry Winton, a famous ace, thrice decorated, twice wounded and many
times disillusioned returns after the war to meet Phyllis, one of the
new order of hard-drinking, unmoral girls.

NOCTURNE MILITAIRE … Elliott White Springs

War, with wine and women, tales of love, madness, heroism; flyers
reckless in their gestures toward life and death.

CHEVRONS … Leonard Nason

One of the sensations of the post-war period, CHEVRONS discloses the
whole pageantry of war with grim truth flavored with the breezy
vulgarity of soldier dialogue.

THREE LIGHTS FROM A MATCH … L. Nason

Three long short stories, each told with a racy vividness, the real
terror in war with the sputter of machine guns.

TOWARD THE FLAME … Hervey Allen

A maelstrom of tremendous incident along the American Front during the
memorable summer of 1918. Magnificent and real.

THE LEGION OF THE CONDEMNED

A thriller of the eagles of the air, full of romance, chivalry and
madcap bravery.

GROSSET & DUNLAP, Publishers, NEW YORK

RAFAEL SABATINI’S NOVELS

May be had wherever books are sold. Ask for Grosset & Dunlap’s list

Jesi, a diminutive city of the Italian Marches, was the birthplace of
Rafael Sabatini.

He first went to school in Switzerland and from there to Lycee of
Oporto, Portugal, and has never attended an English school. But English
is hardly an adopted language for him, as he learned it from his mother,
an English woman.

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