Endpapers

“Jump!” Flash shouted again as his companion did not obey.

Doyle braced himself against the floor boards.

“I’m sticking,” he said. “Stop ’em if you can, Flash!”

The monoplane roared down the field straight toward the car, rapidly
gathering speed for the take-off. In another instant its wheels would
leave the ground.

Flash pressed the accelerator pedal to the floor. The car fairly leaped
ahead.

Too late Rascomb saw what the cameramen meant to do. He shouted and
swerved the plane. But he could not act quickly enough to avert a crash.
The car smashed into the plane’s left wing with terrific impact.

Flash was thrown violently against the windshield. For several minutes
he lay in a semi-daze. Then his mind cleared and he shook himself free
from the mass of twisted steel.

Doyle was lying limp on the seat, his chin slumped on his chest. As
Flash touched him, his eyes opened.

“Stop ’em,” he mumbled. “Stop ’em if you can.”

Relieved that Doyle seemed only stunned, Flash seized the revolver which
had fallen to the car seat. Forcing open the battered door, he climbed
from the wreckage.

One glance disclosed Fleur lying face downward on the ground. But where
was Rascomb?

In bewilderment Flash gazed across the field. He saw a dark figure
running toward the woods which bordered the road. Rascomb had escaped
injury and was trying to escape.

“Halt!” Flash shouted. “Halt or I’ll fire!”

The man did not pause. He darted into the shelter of the woods and was
lost to view.

Flash started to follow, but his legs wobbled beneath him. The crash had
shaken him more than he had realized. He never would be able to overtake
Rascomb.

As he considered whether or not to remain and guard Fleur, who might
recover consciousness, he heard the roar of a speeding automobile. He
turned to gaze toward the road and his heart leaped. A car loaded with
armed men had turned into the field. Help had arrived!

Major Hartgrove was the first to jump from the car.

“Get Rascomb!” Flash gasped. “He escaped into the woods!”

Leaving one man behind to guard Fleur, Major Hartgrove and his recruits
took up the chase. As Flash assisted Doyle from the battered car, he
could see their flashlights moving in and out among the tall pines.

“Did you capture Rascomb?” Doyle muttered, holding his head in his
hands.

“Not yet. But we will. He hasn’t a chance against six men.”

“Where’s Fleur?”

“Over by the hangar. He’s out cold. How are you feeling now?”

“Shaken up,” Doyle answered, “but I’ll be all right as soon as I collect
my wits. Too bad we didn’t get a picture of that crash. It was a
beauty!”

The technician’s words reminded Flash of his automatic newsreel camera
which had been carried in the rear of the automobile. He groaned at the
thought.

“What’s the matter, Flash?” Doyle asked in surprise.

“My camera! It’s probably ground to powder!”

“Maybe not. I packed it carefully in the case.”

Darting back to the car, Flash began to burrow in the wreckage. He
pulled out the cases of equipment and eagerly examined them. So far as
he could tell the camera was not damaged, but only thrown out of
adjustment.

“I may as well waste some film just for the fun of it,” he said to Doyle
with a grin.

From somewhere deep in the woods two shots rang out in rapid succession.
The cameramen listened tensely. There were no other shots, but in a few
minutes Major Hartgrove and his posse came into the clearing with
Rascomb manacled to one of the men.

“They got him!” Doyle exclaimed jubilantly.

Flash trained his camera on the group, and despite his excitement,
managed to hold it steady as the film ran through.

Rascomb was grim but smiling as he was led to the waiting automobile.
His gaze fastened upon Flash.

“You win,” he said grudgingly. “I didn’t figure you would have the
courage to crash my plane. But then, you live a charmed life!”

Major Hartgrove turned to Flash and grasped his hand.

“We saw the crash as we came down the road,” he explained. “It was a
foolhardy thing to do, but magnificent! If you hadn’t stopped Povy, he
would have escaped to Mexico.”

“I threw you off the track for a time, Major,” the prisoner said
pleasantly. “It was this fresh kid who tossed a monkey wrench into plans
I’ve been building up for years.”

“You made your final mistake when you had Doyle and me waylaid tonight,”
said Flash. “I was tired of trying to convince anyone you were Povy. If
you had allowed us to go on to Clinton, I probably never would have
bothered you again.”

“That was one of my mistakes,” the man agreed. “Another was inviting you
to my lodge.”

“Why did you do that?”

“I knew you were wondering if I might not be Povy. I intended to
convince you otherwise.”

“You might have succeeded save for one thing.”

“Yes, my scar betrayed me. My make-up was not as clever as I thought.
Even so, I should have escaped, had you not lived such a charmed life.
And you are very handy at opening locked doors.”

“There’s one thing I would like to know,” said Flash. “How did you
manage to give out the impression that Albert Povy had been killed in
the train wreck?”

“I don’t mind telling you—not in the least. It was very simple. While on
the train I fell into conversation with a man who chanced to mention
that he had entered this country recently and had no relatives or
friends living here.”

“The man was killed in the wreck?” prompted Major Hartgrove.




“He was. I merely transferred my own identification papers to his
pockets. Then, later, I claimed the body and had it buried in the Clear
Lake cemetery.”

“You thought that with Albert Povy dead, the government would drop its
case against him,” commented the Major. “Then as Herbert Rascomb you
would be free to continue your espionage work.”

“Oh, no, Major,” the prisoner corrected. “This was to have been my last
deal. I am not as young as I once was and excitement palls upon one. I
had planned to retire to Mexico and live a quiet, respectable
existence.”

“You’ll find prison a quiet place,” Major Hartgrove said dryly.

“Undoubtedly. I trust you’ll visit me sometime so that we may chat about
old times? You really proved yourself very stupid, Major.”

“Kindly hand over the plans to Bailey Brooks’ invention,” Major
Hartgrove ordered testily. “It will save a disagreeable search.”

“Anything to oblige.”

Rascomb drew a fat packet of papers from his pocket and dropped it into
the Major’s hand.

“One request,” he said. “My man, Fleur, knew nothing of my real past.
Attorney Gordon also is blameless. I trust you will not try to involve
them. Now gentlemen, is there anything else you wish to know?”

“You had nothing to do with the train wreck?” Flash inquired after a
moment.

“No, I merely profited by it. For years I have been building up the
respectable character of Rascomb. I knew that I was being closely
watched by the Department of Justice. So when the chance came for Povy’s
fade-out, I took it.”

Both Rascomb and Fleur were loaded into the car and driven back to
Excelsior City, where the latter was taken to the prison hospital for
emergency treatment. Flash was greatly relieved to learn that the
caretaker had not been seriously injured in the crash and would recover.

“Now to round up the remaining members of Rascomb’s ring,” Major
Hartgrove said briskly. “It may take us weeks, but eventually we’ll get
every man who ever worked with him.”

“What about Bailey Brooks?” Flash questioned anxiously. “The parachute
test has been ordered stopped?”

“Yes, I telephoned Melveredge Field over an hour ago and talked with
Brooks himself. The test will be postponed.”

His mind relieved, Flash went with George Doyle to dispatch a telegram
to Mr. Clewes of the _News-Vue_ Company. Afterwards, since it was too
late to cover the strike at Clinton, they engaged a hotel room and went
to bed.

It was late afternoon when Flash awoke to hear someone pounding on the
door. The visitor proved to be Captain Johns.

“I didn’t mean to wake you up,” he apologized.

“That’s all right,” returned Flash. “We’ve slept the clock around
anyway.”

Captain Johns had come to report that another member of Rascomb’s ring
had been taken into custody.

“Major Hartgrove has identified the man as the one who entered his hotel
room and robbed him,” the captain revealed. “He was caught when he
applied at the airport for a ticket to New York.”

“Then your case is closed?” Doyle inquired.

“Very nearly so.”

Captain Johns chatted for several minutes, revealing interesting details
about Rascomb’s past life. Taking a snapshot from his pocket, he gave it
to Flash. It was the missing picture of Rascomb which had been obtained
at the Indianapolis races.

“So it was you who took it from my room!” exclaimed Flash. “And I blamed
Doyle.”

“I am the guilty party,” admitted Captain Johns. “For weeks I had been
investigating Rascomb’s record. However, I did not agree with you that
he was Albert Povy. You proved me wrong, and I am glad you did. It gives
me pleasure to congratulate you.”

After the captain had gone, Flash was not slack in apologizing to Doyle
for having misjudged him.

“It was a natural mistake to make,” the technician replied. “Forget it.”

Later in the afternoon a telegram arrived from Mr. Clewes, praising the
two cameramen for their recent pictures. The message ended: “Take a
week’s rest. You have both earned it.”

“We have _News-Vue_ by the tail now,” Doyle grinned. “And boy, can we
use that week off!”

“Working on the _Brandale Ledger_ again will seem like a picnic after
this,” added Flash.

The smile faded from Doyle’s face.

“You’re not thinking of going back?” he asked. “Why, you’ve made a name
for yourself with _News-Vue_. They’ll give you anything you want on a
silver platter.”

“I’m only filling in for Joe,” Flash reminded him.

“Sure, I know. But there are other jobs with _News-Vue_. Maybe we could
keep on working together.”

Flash remained thoughtfully silent.

“You don’t like me,” Doyle said after a long moment. “I can’t blame you,
because I deliberately made it hard. The truth is, I thought you were
nothing but a fresh kid. I wanted the job for a friend of mine.”

“I know,” smiled Flash.

“I’ve changed my mind about you. But naturally you wouldn’t feel the
same way—”

“I do,” interrupted Flash, extending his hand. “Shake, pal.”

“Then you’re willing to forget?” Doyle demanded eagerly. “And keep on
with _News-Vue?_”

“Well, for a few weeks. But I’ve promised to return to the _Ledger_.”

“You’ll have a job waiting with _News-Vue_ whenever you want it,” Doyle
predicted. “And you’ll come back. Once a newsreel cameraman, always one.
The excitement seeps into your blood.”

“Yes, Doyle, you’re right,” Flash said heartily. “Taking ordinary
pictures will seem pretty tame after this. One of these days I’ll
probably be coming back.”