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Aces Up by Covington Clarke

And McGee crossed the 'drome to Cowan's headquarters


Nothing

daunted, Buzz went bowling off in search of Yancey, and McGee crossed the 'drome to Cowan's headquarters.

The excited enthusiasm with which McGee began his report to Cowan was quickly cooled by the Major's expressionless indifference. Throughout McGee's narration of the events of the morning, Cowan continued studying a sheaf of papers lying on the desk before him, now and then penciling thereon some memorandum or brief endorsement. That part of the report dealing with the actions of the lone Nieuport, which seemed to have a system of signals to insure safe passage over the lines, brought from the Major no more than a throaty, "Hum-m." It angered McGee, and brought from him a heated charge which under other conditions he would have hesitated to make.

"And the man who was piloting that plane is a member of this squadron," he blurted out.

Cowan casually turned a sheet of paper. "Indeed," he replied, continuing his reading. It was maddening.

"Has Siddons reported to you, sir?" McGee asked, pointedly.

"Yes." Cowan arose and looked straight at the flushed young pilot. His eyes were uncommunicative. "Lieutenant Siddons just left here with Colonel Watts, going back to Wing headquarters," he said. "I may tell you, Lieutenant, that the Colonel came down a short time after Siddons hopped off, and gave me a most uncomfortable

half hour for sending him over. We will discuss it no further, and I charge you with absolute silence in the matter. You are to say nothing, to anyone, concerning this entire matter. You understand?"

"I understand that I'm to keep silent, sir--but I don't understand the rest of it."

"It isn't necessary that you do. That is all, Lieutenant."

"But what about that 'drome I located at Fere-en-Tardenois? I think it is Count von Herzmann's Cir--"

"You think wrong, McGee, but whatever you think, don't think out loud. That is all, Lieutenant."

"Yes, sir. And there are no orders for--"

"Orders will be a little more secret--in the future." Cowan's voice was crisp, and carried a note of dismissal.

"Yes, sir." McGee saluted stiffly, turned on his heel and walked from the room, steaming with anger. Outside the door he picked up a small stone from the newly graveled walk and hurled it singing through the top of a nearby poplar. He simply had to throw something.

"You poor prune!" he addressed himself. "You never did have enough sense to know when you were well off."

CHAPTER IX

Lady Luck Deserts


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