The Waynesville Mountaineer (Waynesville, … /
Sept. 3, 1942, edition 1 /
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THE WAYNESVILLE MOUNTAINEER
The mgotten Fleet Mystery"
by Van Wyck Mason -
All at once the ex-soldier shrank
silently back into the deep shadows
of cabin 332 not 329. Anyone ad
vancing on 329 would perforce go
by 332 with his back presented.
Mears might be trustworthy but
well, experience had taught Colby
that to be wary was to remain in
A black blur passed the crack of
the door through which Colby look
d out on the passage. The prowl
er proved to be Mears, who was
moving quickly and very silently
for one of his size.
"Mears," Colby whispered and
swung open the door a crack.
The other wheeled, gun leveled,
then relaxed and brought the odor
of damp wool and stale sweat with
him as he stepped into 332.
"Miss Benny said you wanted
me. What's up?"
Colby cursed the dim light? of
the cabin no telling just how
much Mears knew. He drew near
the big watchman and whispered,
"Three men working a 'cet'lene
torch in 313 cutting through a
Colby wondered whether the oth
er would seem surprised or ask
questions, but either Mears was
one ot the most unemotional men
he had ever encountered or the
watchman already knew the an
swer. The big man only gathered him
self and whispered, ''That's funny
what are we goin' to do?"
"Well watch 'em let 'em finish
the job, then when I give the word
we'll jump 'em. Understand?'
"Okay I'm out to get these
Inch by inch the two advanced
until Colby, in the lead, was able
to look into cabin 313 and beheld
two sharply i dissimilar figures
bending above a tongue of fierce,
blue-white flame which a third man
at a wide stretch of gray painted
steel. The oily reek of blistering
paint beat in Colby's face and made
him want to cough.
Beside one of those lanterns
which must have first attracted
Geneva Benet's attention stood a
slender, pale looking man with
gray hair and a mustache. This
must be Ehrenbreit, Colby decided,
for Ferguson was standing to the
right, staring fixedly at the metal
glowing white-red under the flame.
Squatting on his heels and mani
pulating the torch was the man
called Tug a small, terrior-like
individual with "professional
cracksman" written all over his
battered features. Already he had
cut nearly through a plate from
which the rivet heads had been
"Won't be long now," Tug grunt
ed. ''Get ready to steady her,
At this Colby's late antagonist
promptly caught up a pair of steel
worker's nippers and, bracing his
massive shoulders, took a grip on
a single rivet head left in the cen
ter of the plate about to be ampu
tated. On the gray wall to the
left Ferguson's grotesque silhouette
mimicked the performance.
"Ach! Be careful too much
heat vould be dangerous" How
tense were the German ex-convict's
pallid featuressweat had
converted them into a glistening
So intent were all three on Tug's
labors that Colby could have stood
in plain sight in the door.
"Get set," Tug warned sharply.
"She's coming loose any second."
The reek of scorched paint and
of hot iron grew very strong now
and a heavy blue smoke went
swirling out of the door top and
along the steel plates of the pass
age ceiling. Colby felt his pulse
quicken when a little cry of
triumph burst from the three and
in mask and goggles Was directing Ferguson, not without effort, low-
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ered to the floor a slab of scorch
ed steel some two feet long by a
"Ja! See? There iss the panel
ing." Ehrenbreit's voice was thick
with excitement, and be tried to
"Okay better let 'at iron cool
off or yerll burn yer mitts into
Methodically, the thug discon
nected his torch to presently join
his companions in peering at a
section of wooden moulding which,
originally painted white, was now
sadly charred and blistered.
"This iss the right moulding,"
Ehrenbreit babbled, his slender
prison paled hand trembling as
he pointed into the ragged black
rimmed hole. "See? There iss even
the little pencil cross I scratched
on it. Ach, mein freunden, ve are
rich all of us rich!"
Ferguson roughly elbowed Eh
renbreit and Tug aside to stoop
and squint into that aperture
which showed up black in the
lamplight as an open barn door in
a snow storm.
''By God, the Dutchman's right!"
A queer sense of unreality grip
ped Colby when the German, reach
ing through the hole, began pry
ing at the charred section of
moulding. He wheeled and glimp
sed Mears at his elbow, nervously
wetting his lips and staring fixedly
in at the lantern lit cabin with
an ugly twist of his big mouth.
Colby had to nudge him to attract
his attention. Together they step
pde into the door to be framed in
the brass bound portal.
''Stand steady," Calby advised in
a voice as chill as the snap of an
ice laden branch.
Because they had no choice,
Ehrenbreit and his companions re
mained frozen in their several at
titudes, expressions of ludicrous
amazement stamped on their faces.
"Stand up. Search 'em, Mears."
The watchman obeyed and soon
tossed onto the floor a varied and
plentiful supply of pistols, knives,
knuckle dusters and black jacks.
"Veil," demanded Ehrenbreit,
his little steely eyes glittering with
rage, "vhat do you vantt"
"They're pals of Kraus," said
the shortest of the trio. "Yuh are,
"In a sense," Colby admitted.
"Turn aroundback to us."
"I knew I shoulda gone gunnin'
for that interferin' tin soldier,"
"Ye'd have been cold turkey if
ye had," came Mears' unexpected
remark. "What shall we do with
Until now America's fighting forces have been on the defense
. . waiting for more men and materials to reach strategic points so an
aggressive offense could be put into effect.
Today the offense has started to roll. Our army, navy and
marines, fighting on many distant fronts, are making their might felt.
Again the American Way is meeting the challenge.
It was sincere cooperation between Government, labor and man
agement that helped to prepare our fighting forces for the task ahead.
Through this splendid spirit of joint effort the words "too little and too
late" have become a forgotten phrase.
We join the boys on our fighting fronts in congratulating in
dustry's legion upon the part it is playing in preserving the American
Way of Life, v.:
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"Well lock them up," Colby an
nounced succinctly. "I suppose the
Cecelie's brig is still in good
"Yeh." Mears' heavy features
relaxed. "Funny, I was looking at
it only the other day. That's a
"Too bad I missed you awhile
back," Ferguson snarled when Col
by motioned him forward.
"Oh, so it was you who took that
not alirfc at me?" Colbv silentlv
offered the phlegmatic Mears sev
eral apologies. "You're a pretty
rotten shot then." He turned on
Ehrenbreit. "How many men did
'Ynii should know better than
I," the German retorted bitterly.
''Ach that I should have been such
a fool as to trust that Hans to
Emotions milled and surged in
Colby's being. The feeling that a
quarter of a million lay behind
that charred bit of moulding was
having a disturbing effect on him.
How many thousands of men had
died for a far lesser sum?
''Say, boss," Mears said, "you
keep your gun on 'em and I'll take
"You'll do nothing of the sort,"
Colby snapped. "Well lock these
gents up first, Mears, you lead the
way and keep your gun on Ferguson-
I'll follow with the other
"But, boss maybe there's "
But Colby snapped : "Do as I
say!" Mears, mumbling to him
self, obeyed, for Colby had a
nasty glint in his eye.
Some ten minutes later the curi
ous little column's feet boomed and
reverberated in the vast empty
forehold which had once creaked
under the riches of two continents.
Colby had the sensation of being
abruptly dwarfed how stiffly gray
hair stood up on Ehrenbreit's slop
ing skull how grotesque were
Tug's "Klassy Kollege Kut
Klothes," pinched in tight at the
back and with impossible lapels.
Was Mears going to turn uglyT
As he tramped along over th
splintered boards of the hold floor
Colby did a little deep thinking.
The brig, it seemed, was located
underneath the crews' quarters a
dreadful hole devoid of daylight
and with walls of steel. Cramped
and stuffy, it was barely large
enough to accommodate the three
"Say listen," hoarsely pleaded
the sparrowlike burglar when Col
by motioned him behind the rusty
bars, "take the stuff, but .let us
go it don't get you nuthin' to
send us over th' road."
"How about it?" Ferguson's
heavy, sweating face appeared at
the bars. "I know when I'm lick
ed." "Let you g?" Colby's short
laugh was metallic. ''And have
you gunning for us? No, well
just leave you here as a surprise
package for the cops if they
ever show up."
"Surely, Herr Offizer, you vould
not leave me in this hole?" Ehren
breit protested desperately. "It iss
disgusting it iss no place for a
"You're absolutely right," came
Colby's imperturbable reply as he
shot the control bolt of the cell
door, which though not locked was
well beyond the reach of the pris
oners. , "That's why you're stay
ing in there-"
"C'mon, boss," Mears rumbled
and plucked at Colby's sleeve.
Havwnnd r.in p
New Cars In Sepl
of five nVwTrVZTJ
the office of price ardnfptl
North Carolina's aunt, v
set at 616. A
been assigned in J
Buncombe got 12 t , I
Transylvania 1, Jti
"nounce the birth J
son. John Pill. t?j " . "
j.L 0 uwaras. It
the Mercv Hnm;,.i '
Calif., on August lini
Tom Edwards! He is a
Mrs'Elwa.rds w the fa,
jmss muarea Schreiber of
Diesro. and sini v.. .
Honolulu during the past
months has been with her pai
"Lets go back and take a look 1
"i mere moulding. '
"Boy, oh boy!" Fen,
into a sudden
"when I get outta hero rju i
shore enjoy puttin' a slug throw
yer belly." .
Tug's fearful curses, rich tid
threats of eme renrisaii i;J
I erguson's and the forehold rd
to tneir pungent blasphemies.
In sharp contrast Ehrenbreit!
slumped on the big bench
between hands as thouirh
a sudden and unfair blow of Fad
He did not move even when 1
retreating feet of the victors
died into silence.
(To Be Continued)
. M V r ,t sum: rli JfrJr XTVT " .
Wear Leather For Health
"Junaluska Cut Soles Make Walking Easy"
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