The War Hawks  (1909) 
by Ernest Bramah

Extracted from Pall Mall magazine, Sept 1909, pp. 385–393. Illustrations by A. C. Michael omitted. Included in The Specimen Case (1924) with really minor changes.





" THAT is the position," said the War Minister, folding the sheets of paper from which he had been reading.

No one spoke for a few moments. "The position" related to the movements of the various fleets, to the strength and disposal of the available troops and kindred details; the place was an historic apartment in Downing Street, and the dozen men assembled were engaged that afternoon in regulating the destiny of the Empire, and, incidentally, that of the world.

Hallet, the Home Secretary, broke the silence, which had reached a painful intensity.

"I take the responsibility of proposing that we recognise the inevitable to-day rather than to-morrow, and signify our acceptance of the terms of the ultimatum," he said, with slow deliberation.

"I differ," cried the aged Earl of Trentford sharply. "We cannot be so desperately placed as Mollineux leads us to believe. It—it is so sudden, so unexpected. A great nation cannot be vanquished and annihilated in a single day. There must be something we have overlooked. If we are being invaded by air, where are the dirigibles? We have heard no word of them."

There was a low irruption of laughter, sardonic and half heart-broken, from two or three men. The War Minister dispassionately picked out a sheet in cypher from the litter of paper before him.

"In response to the War Office inquiry of this morning, the officer in charge of the section wires from Aldershot: 'Dirigibles Nos. 3 and 4 temporarily useless as a result of the malicious damage effected on the night of the 11th inst., as already reported. Nos. 6 and 7 still under construction; delayed beyond anticipated date owing to 6-inch counterbalance carrier shafts having been made and delivered instead of 7-inch as ordered. No. 5 available——'"

"The vessel popularly known as Quo Vadis the Vth?" inquired a colleague smoothly.

"I have no knowledge of the name," replied the War Minister, with unruffled composure. "'No. 5 available, but during the continuance of S.E. gale registered as 52 miles by the anemometer, and reported by the South Foreland station as prevalent for the next 48 hours, impossible even to meet enemy's air-fleet from this point. Have been requested to allow transport of No. 5 by motor-wagon to Maidstone, and after the passage of enemy's fleet to make ascent by night on the chance of involving at least one of the enemy in mutual destruction.'"

There were a few cries of "Hear, hear!" from the least depressed members of the Cabinet. Sir William Mollineux raised a hand deprecatingly.

"We all recognise the devotion of such an offer," he said quietly, "but unless we are prepared with a definite and continuous plan of resistance, it would be not only useless, but nationally suicidal."

"And the War Office has no plan to put before us?" demanded the earl.

"In the exceptional circumstances, none."

"Then I have," retorted Trentford, with a touch of senile stubbornness. "I propose that the seat of government be transferred to Oxford; that Gurney shall be instructed to join fleets with Colenso and force the passage of the Elbe, while France fulfils her obligations by demonstrating along the frontier, and——"

Sir William Mollineux glanced down the table and nodded to a colleague.

"My lord," interposed the man who had been singled out, "we have received the most explicit warning that while this incredible fleet of Krupp-Parsevals is in being, France will be unable to make any move."

Trentford stared blankly at the speaker. "In the face of the most definite——"

"Mastery of the air overrides all treaties," commented another.

"It is no use, Trentford," said the Premier, gathering the decision of the Council at a glance. "All the navies and all the armies in the world are not worth one Krupplin in the light of our present information. Let us dismiss armies and navies from our calculations. There are only two classes of Powers to-day: Germany, and the rest of the world."

"And if we accept the terms forced on us, and abandon all hope of building a rival air-fleet, there can never be anything else."

"Until a new force comes into being," replied the Premier, with a sudden gleam of kindling enthusiasm. "What form it will take we cannot guess, and perhaps we shall never know; but in the future I can confidently foresee some undreamt-of bending of the forces of nature to the use of man's ingenuity by which the Krupplins of that time will be as impotent as the Dreadnoughts of to-day, and the nation that relies on their pre-eminence to usurp the sovereignty of the world will be trapped and humbled in its false security as we are trapped in ours."

"I hope that you are right," said one; "and I hope that our authorities in that day will have sufficient humour to mask their operations under a frantic construction of Krupplins."

Some smiled sadly, and all caught the bitter jest, remembering how, a few years previously, Germany had masked her strength, gained all the time she wanted, and duped the suspicion and the activity of England by a kindred subterfuge.

"We may be powerless to repel the—the so-called Krupplins if what we hear of their capabilities is correct (an assumption which I venture to doubt very strongly, or surely some indication of their menace would have reached us before this), but what beyond that?" demanded the earl, returning to the point with dull tenacity. "They could not drop explosives from balloons, navigable or otherwise—they would not dare. There is still such a thing as International Law, gentlemen."

"My lord, my lord," exclaimed Hallet, bringing his hand down upon the table with such a passion of pent-up feeling that the jewel sprang from the ring he wore and rolled unheeded to the floor, "do not deceive yourself. There is International Law—but there are no nations to enforce it."

"Besides," suggested another, "what is there to prevent them from using short-range howitzers of some new pattern? They could open the breeches of their guns and simply roll the shells out of the muzzles, I suppose. No, no, earl, there is nothing in that, I am afraid."

"You are all against me?" said Trentford, looking round doggedly.

"We dare not do otherwise, my old friend," said his chief sadly. "The lives of seven million people are in our hands here in London alone, and if we resort to arms the city will be a smoking ruin at the end of forty-eight hours."

Trentford rose to his feet with the arresting dignity of age and isolation.

"I am an old man," he began deliberately, "and whatever course you adopt will cease to affect me before very long. I have seen my country involved in three great struggles and in minor wars innumerable. In every case there were not wanting those who prophesied disasters and defeat; in every case there were reverses and serious losses; and in every case there was an ultimate victory which left England stronger than before. It has remained for a Cabinet of which I am a member to receive invasion with bended knee and to ransom their capital without striking a single blow. I am too old to learn the new way, gentlemen. I will go into my own country, where I was formerly honorary colonel of yeomanry, and if I can find a score of men who would rather be shot as Germany's foes than live as Germany's vassals, by God, I will lead them!"

Right on his words came a dramatic interruption. The sound of some confusion on the other side of the door had marked the last sentence of the tirade. One or two Ministers had looked inquiringly at the Premier; his hand was already on the bell, when the sharp report of a pistol strung them all to an acuter tension. In the moment of startled indecision the door was opened, a man stepped quickly into the room, closed the door again and stood with his back against it, while he surveyed the assembly with keen alertness, still holding the smoking revolver in his hand.

"What is the meaning of this outrage?" demanded the Premier, between wrath and apprehension.

"The meaning of the outrage, sir, is that you apparently gave your doorkeeper instructions to admit no one on any pretext, while my inflexible determination was to go to any length in order to reach you."

"You have shot Taylor!"

"What of that?" demanded the intruder coolly. “Do you know what is happening beyond your cordon of police? There are ten thousand men in Whitehall, and the most popular suggestion is that they should hang the Secretary of State for War and your illustrious self on the nearest lamp-post. In the City and beyond, the authorities are unable to make the least show of keeping order, and looting and violence are in progress on every side. There is a panic-swept exodus from London by all the high-roads to the north and west, and since five o'clock this morning more than two hundred women and children have been trampled to death. What does a doorkeeper in addition matter?"

"A madman!" murmured some one warningly to those about him.

"You are a murderer!" cried another.

"No, no," protested the stranger, almost good-humouredly; "I have only disabled your man with a bullet in the shoulder, after all. But, believe me, you will be face to face with civil war in less than seven days, and even the life of a zealous servant is a small matter in averting that calamity."

"Mad—quite mad!" repeated the former speaker cautiously. "Better humour him until someone comes."

"Who are you, and what do you want?" demanded the Premier, who saw more indication of method than of madness.

"My name," replied the unceremonious being, "is Brampton Reed. Possibly," he said, turning sharply to the Minister for War, "the name has a distantly familiar ring, Sir William?"

"Ah," replied Mollineux, enlightened, "the man with a cra— an idea for individual flying."

"No," corrected Reed in sharp raillery, "the man who had a craze for individual flying three years ago; the man who has something very like the perfection of individual flying to-day. No obligation to your department, Sir William. You saw nothing in it."

"We were advised that the project of self-propelled flight was chimerical. The tendency was all towards aeroplanes and dirigibles. You were out of the movement."

"We shall be in it to-night if we come to terms," said Reed, with grim humour. "What would you give to be able to plant a patriotic Englishman, carrying five pounds of thorite, on each of the Krupplins—to control a flight of human aerial torpedoes, eh, Sir William?"

"Can you do this, Mr. Reed?" demanded the Premier, with a tortured incredulity. Taylor was forgotten. All looked towards the man who suggested the bare possibility of the miracle of salvation.

"I will be frank with you," replied Reed, coming up to the table. "I can—but at the same time I should have preferred this to have come in six months' time."

"You can make a flight even in this weather?"

"The wind is nothing—nothing. On the contrary, it helps a practised wingman. But there are other details—technical details. We have had to do everything in the face of terrible discouragement. We wanted men, reliable, devoted men, such as you could have put in our way. We wanted facilities of a dozen kinds. Most of all, we wanted time. Practice, unending practice, is the secret of alatics. We even wanted money; money, good lord! and you are on the point of paying an indemnity of a hundred millions to save London!"

"We are taking a terrible risk if we permit this forlorn hope, Mr. Reed," said Mollineux.

"So are we, Sir William," replied Reed caustically. "Strictly in a personal way you cannot take a greater one than we shall. As regards permitting the attempt, allow me to point out to you that you cannot prevent it. At the same time I want official recognition. I want something in return, and I want information. Well, there are my terms," and he threw a few sheets of paper on to the table. "How many Krupps really are there, by the way? The newspapers are all—well, as usual."

"Five," replied some one. "They have opened wireless communication with us from the neighbourhood of the Goodwins."

"Five! and we have only seven competent men, including myself," exclaimed Reed. "So be it; we can take no risks. You know what that means, Mr. Muir?"

"Not absolutely, though I draw a natural inference," replied the Premier, looking up from the manuscript which Reed had brought. "What does it mean?"

"Every man will have to throw his missile from a distance of not more than thirty feet. Five pounds of thorite will grind up everything within a radius of fifty yards. You deduce the element of risk, Mr. Muir?"

"In other words, every man will go to certain death?"

"Precisely. Every man who fails to blow himself into his constituent elements will have bungled. Well, we all had one eye on that contingency when we trained. If only we'd had more time it might have been avoided. Time: practice, practice, practice. Please remember that for the new aerial department, Mr. Muir."

"I see that you stipulate for that, Mr. Reed," said the Minister of War, glancing down the paper. "'Two power standard of air-fleet:' 'aerial stations,' 'corps of wingmen,' and so forth. I think after this experience you can safely leave that to any Government in power."

"I could safely accept the personal word of any member of the Cabinet in a simple straightforward matter of millions," replied Reed bluntly. "But the collective assurance of a Government on a matter of national safety and aerial supremacy—oh no, Sir William!"

"We shall not differ on that point, Mr. Reed," said the Premier, taking up a pen to sign the document. "The money will be found."

"Money!" exclaimed Reed broadly. "I don't think that that detail will trouble you, Mr. Muir. No more warships after to-day, you know—nothing more expensive than a submarine."

"I see that you also require certain provision made in the case of your associates."

"Yes; some of them have people, and so on," said Reed carelessly.

"But," continued the Premier, "I fail to see any reference to yourself."

"I, on the other hand, have none."

"But surely, out of everything that a gratefully indebted country can offer in return for so colossal a service, there might be something?"

"That is my whim, Mr. Muir—that there should be nothing."

For the second time during that momentous Council the proceedings were interrupted from without. There was a knock, and close upon it a police-inspector entered.

"I beg your pardon, sir, but there has been a disturbance, and one of your servants has been shot," he explained. "I thought that you might require my attendance."

"Thank you, Inspector Holstan. I shall be glad if you will see that Taylor has the best attention and everything that he can possibly require," replied the Premier.

"Very good, sir." He still lingered, however, and his eye rested on Brampton Reed suspiciously. "I understand," he ventured, "that this gentleman——"

"That is all we require," said the Premier, with suave decision. "Mr. Reed is—one of ourselves."


"Tilbury; Gravesend," indicated one of the alert looking young men standing on the upper platform of Die Wasser-jungfer. "Chatham and Rochester there together. Woolwich? No, you cannot identify it. It is among the glow over there—London."

"Really London at last," soliloquised another. "Ach!"

"You may well say 'at last,' Steinetz," struck in an aviator-engineer. "Ten years ago I myself dated this invasion for 1906."

"Fortunately for you that you were wrong," said the first speaker, "or you would not have been in it. Late or not, here we are—where the great Napoleon never got."

"Ah? he was too much for himself and for conquest, that Corsican. If he had been inspired by humanity and a love of fatherland, he would have gone further."

The five great Krupp-Parsevals were lying "anchored" in what was then known, for the purposes of aerial navigation, as the fourth atmospheric zone, above the fields and villages of Kent. The previous day, immediately upon Germany's official notification to the British Government that Lord Shipley's action with regard to the Ankori affair was regarded as a hostile move, the world for the first time learned of the secret works in Westphalia, and of the existence of an unsuspected fleet of air-ships. At the same time details were freely published, from which it became obvious, so far advanced over all other types of rivals were these incomparable vessels, that the world, if need be, lay at their mercy.

It was no longer policy to conceal their presence or their movements, for the panic which their mere approach created was a valuable factor in enforcing their demands. Proceeding in full daylight at a leisurely twenty-five miles an hour, therefore, they crossed the North Sea at a comparatively low altitude, saluting on their way the Prinz Ludwig, which conveyed the departing German Ambassador from these shores. Their arrival above Thanet was timed to be simultaneous with the presentation of Berlin's demands; upon being informed by wireless that this had taken place, they sailed in extended line formation very slowly towards London. At nightfall they rose a few hundred feet higher in the air, and hung motionless. They were quite secure from attack. No guns then in use could be trained on them at an efficient range even if their outlines could have been discerned. As a matter of fact, ingenious chromatic and mechanical devices rendered the Krupp-Parsevals practically invisible even in the dusk. Their engines were absolutely noiseless; and the only outward lights they displayed were Lietke-ray emanations, serviceable enough to the pilots and signal-readers of the other vessels when seen through their sensitised glasses, but non-existent to everyone else.

"Is it true, Otto," inquired the engineer, "that in England they allow one to inspect their forts and barracks at will?"

"Oh yes," admitted Otto, with a ready smile, "it is quite so. The defences of the Thames have been my especial work during the past two years."

"Is it that they are lax, or the system?"

"They are so well satisfied that they are safe: that, no matter, everything must come right. Ganz sicher—'cock-sure,' as they would say. That is why. Now and then a little subterfuge is necessary, you understand; but it is quite simple. The barrack arrangement I am thoroughly familiar with, and I know all the ins and outs of the Bank of England and the Mint."

"So?" nodded one of the group. "A useful detail."

"Oh, it was very interesting in itself," said Otto modestly. "I am very fond of London—and even of the English to some extent. London has a great charm to me, I confess, and from a sentimental point of view I should be sorry to see it shelled. Also, I have many good Cockney friends."

"'Cock-sure,' that is to say?"

"No, no, no," corrected Otto; "this is an idiom denoting one who hears certain bells—it is a legend. There is a very agreeable family among whom I boarded in Kensington. I should really regret the demolition of that house in Sinclair Road by any chance."

"There were young ladies, perhaps?" asked another, with respect.

"Not at all," replied Otto; "but they were a very pleasant family and could appreciate Schiller."

"That is very well,” said one; “but I certainly think that I have heard the Fräulein Elisabeth refer to some young English misses."

"Another house Otto would regret to see demolished, evidently," suggested the engineer slyly.

"It is quite true, another house," admitted Otto good-humouredly. "This one was in Highgate, another part of London altogether. The young ladies were four in number, and although we did not discuss Schiller we became great friends. Indeed, I think that Miss Phyllis and I might be considered to be betrothed."

"This is romantic," said another of the group; "the gallant young soldier and the daughter of the enemy. Shall you return after peace is made and claim your bride?"

"I do not think so," replied Otto, turning over the subject seriously. "The father was engaged in the shipping business, so that he will inevitably be ruined by the war, and from a financial point of view the connection would scarcely be advantageous. Then Miss Phyllis herself, though a very charming companion for the theatre or ballroom, does not, I fancy, possess those housewifely qualities which——"

Thus it happened that Otto Kastl died with his English sweetheart's name almost upon his lips, for this was the classical moment when the first shock of aerial warfare took place. How Brampton Reed had disposed his meagre force we are not told, nor is there record of the name of him who struck the first blow. From the circumstances Reed must inevitably have decided upon a simultaneous attack upon the five Krupplins by five of his wingmen, with two others, of whom he himself, as the most skilful flier, was properly one, held in reserve. But even with the most careful preparation, in the darkness of the night; and extending along a battle-line of nearly two miles, the attack became a scattered one, whereof it chanced that the man to whose care fell the pilot Wasser-jungfer launched the signal.

So far as the group on the upper platform of Die Wasser-jungfer was concerned, it may have been unheralded extinction, absolute and immediate destruction striking irresistibly from the unprobed recesses of the night. Or there may have been a momentary vision of a vast and shadowy spectral bird sweeping round dexterously on the utilised force of the gale, and poising for a moment above the deck, where a startled and irresolute handful of men stood resourceless despite the thousand ingenious devices of defence possessed by the wonderful vessel beneath their feet.

That moment closed the life-history of Die Wasser-jungfer. To her consorts, from the vantage-ground of their skilfully maintained line towards the south-east, it seemed as though the pilot-ship had suddenly turned into a tormented thing of fire, in which all her parts, human and inanimate, strove for disentanglement. Then darkness closed over the space again, the fantastic shreds of wreckage fell earthward, and even littered their own decks, and the scudding constellation of blazing tags of fabric and cordage was carried beyond their sight.

Under the surprise, the crews of the other vessels at once fell into their appointed places and duties with disciplined precision. For a minute there existed a doubt whether Die Wasser-jungfer had been attacked or become the victim of her own magazine. So well known and apprised were the insignificant forces upon which England could call for battle in the air, and so unequivocal had been the wording of the ultimatum as to the terrible reprisal that would follow a wanton—as it was then deemed it must be—attack on the Krupplins, that some desperate mischance was the first thought in every German mind; but even as the united searchlights of the remaining fleet blazed out into the night, Der Phönix, the third vessel along the line, was seen to be struck by the same appalling force, and, falling apart midway, cleft through envelope, structure and decks, she pitched headlong into the under-space, exploding and careening strangely as she fell.

In the face of these disasters a splendid discipline remained, but much of the elaborately contrived machinery failed to respond to the emergency. The wireless-telegraph system broke down on every vessel, and out of this fact arose the curious discovery that among the obscure gases generated by exploding thorite in the upper atmosphere was one that arrested the wave action of an electrical discharge. The signal-readers were unable to take off the Lietke-ray readings among all the aerial disturbances, so that each vessel remained isolated, and acted on its own initiative. Prince Friedrich, who commanded the fleet from the deck of the flagship Die Schwalbe (the second in line, and now a mile removed from her nearest support), failing to discover any sign of open attack, at once decided to sail away at full speed from so disastrous a spot, and to wait until daylight enabled him to operate prudently. This order was indeed signalled from Die Schwalbe by means of her searchlight, but in the multiplicity of lights and cross-lights the significance of the flashes passed unrecognised. Der Geier and Der Fliegende Fisch therefore remained, pressing to their service every device for repelling attack which they possessed, while Die Schwalbe stole away to the north-west, silently, and with every light obscured.

From the details supplied by the invaders who survived the battle of Elmstead Down it is generally surmised that the second wingman in the line of attack—the one through whose defection Die Schwalbe was able to slip away untouched—was probably struck by a flying fragment of Die Wasser-jungfer, and at this point in the fight a second mishap weakened the successful chance of Reed's desperate venture.

In the uncertainty of their position Der Geier and Der Fliegende Fisch had drawn closer together when the fourth and the fifth wingmen simultaneously swept into the effective range of their lights and rifles. The changed position of the air-ships gave them a moment of indecision, and the fifth man drew off and beat upwards rather than run the risk that they should both fling themselves upon the same target. The movement was fatal to himself; for although his companion selected and successfully wrecked Der Geier, the evenly moving figure in the clear white light drew a desperate fusillade from the marksmen on both vessels. It mattered little in that position whether he was touched by a single bullet or pierced by a hundred: his wings collapsed, and a flattened, earth-churned coppice marked the spot where he touched the earth.

The miscarriage must have taken place before Reed's eyes. He had probably by that time deduced the failure of his second man. He at once launched his only reserve, keeping himself for the more arduous and desperate pursuit of the flagship. This man was a strong flier and resourceful—there is personal testimony of that, for all the survivors of Elmstead Down came from Der Fliegende Fisch. Keeping directly under the body of the vessel he ascended on the spiral stroke. On the decks above, the bomb-turning nets had been fixed in position, and every available man stood ready to act on the first sign of attack. The wingman gained the height he desired, made a short sharp circle to acquire the requisite impetus, and dashed himself bodily against the stern of Der Fliegende Fisch. A third of the structure of the frail vessel was torn away, but, by a miracle, sufficient of the comparted envelope remained to sustain what was left, and the unwieldy wreck swung and careered away before the force of the gale, to be finally stranded along the coast of Wales.

Had the battle been fought out on any other element, the reckoning must have pronounced it an unqualified victory, but that thought brought no satisfaction to Brampton Reed as he witnessed the destruction of the last visible Krupp-Parseval. He had undertaken to destroy all, and he had failed. However great the moral effect of the night's work might be, the one air-ship that had escaped him—now morbidly alert, bitter for revenge, and armed at every point—still dominated the situation. Nor was it by any means certain what course offered the best chance of retrieving the position. The speedy, well-stocked vessel might press on to London, might seek out the fleets and annihilate them, destroy the dockyards, go northwards against the great ports and commercial cities, or adopt any one of a dozen plausible lines of offence. Pursuit was hopeless; chance encounter incredible.

Within thirty seconds he had decided to go back to London and lay everything before the Government. His own motor-car was waiting in readiness for any service. He found it, threw a single word to the driver and got in. The driver, himself an even more taciturn man, merely nodded as he took the wheel.

Reed carefully replaced the charge of thorite in its special receptacle and began to unbuckle his flying-gear. A sudden flood of light sweeping across the interior of the car compelled his attention. He pushed down the window and looked out, just as the taciturn driver brought the car to a standstill on his own initiative.

For an appreciable period of time Reed was unable to grasp the meaning of what he saw, so blank of any hope of the kind had been his mind. High above, but a very few miles distant on the lateral plane, two air-ships rode and manoeuvred in the full blaze of each other's whirling searchlights. His tired brain clogged at the mystery. He would, in an instant, have leapt to the astounding surpassing luck of Die Schwalbe revealing herself—but two . . .? The truth slipped into his mind like a keen-edged ray of light. One indeed was Die Schwalbe; the other the Army Dirigible No. 5! Forgotten among the distraction of changed plans, or with an heroic defiance of orders, the glorious, maligned Quo Vadis? had flown to the sound of the guns. With a splendid opportuneness that no mathematical precision could have bettered, she had blundered across the course of the retreating flagship, and thereby done the one thing that could save her country. For, be it remembered, Die Schwalbe knew nothing of wingmen or the real means of attack. She saw before her the one puny antagonist whose easy defeat she had anticipated as a possible incident of her triumphal passage, and it was inevitable that she should connect this visible and known foe with the destruction—by some chain of incredible fortune—of her consorts. Her searchlights revealed no other menace, and she bent her energies to the sure and complete annihilation of the audacious challenger.

Below, the car turned, and skimmed along the highways and the lanes in its desperate race, of which the prize was the destiny of two empires. It could only be a matter of minutes. . . .

Above, the duellists measured their long weapons and turned warily as they sought each other's vital parts. Quo Vadis? cherished no illusions about the outcome; only she was garnering immortelles other than she knew of. She had, among the thousand odds against her, one slight advantage: she was willing—eager—to meet disaster if she could but involve her adversary in that fall. It was denied her.

An exulting cry ran along the decks of Die Schwalbe when, outmanœuvred in the exchanges, the gallant but hopeless Quo Vadis? laid herself at a fatal disadvantage. Every destructive weapon in her opponent's armoury concentrated on that opening, and the torn and shattered wreck plunged downwards with an ever-increasing impetus. A German cheer, led by Prince Friedrich, greeted the achievement, the searchlights swung downward to illumine the path of the falling vessel, and every available man crowded the nearer rail of the flagship's side.

If any had turned he would have seen a strangely outlined figure gain their deck. For a moment Brampton Reed stood with uplifted hand. Nothing could arrest the fall of his arm; nothing avert the destruction held in the uplifted hand. In that supreme moment the inspiration of a lifetime seemed to be forming into a message or a human cry of portentous meaning that he must first deliver. . . .

The men at the rail talked, leaned forward, laughed, pointed, and rejoiced in victory. Then perished.

This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published before January 1, 1927.

The author died in 1942, so this work is in the public domain in countries and areas where the copyright term is the author's life plus 79 years or less. This work may be in the public domain in countries and areas with longer native copyright terms that apply the rule of the shorter term to foreign works.