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Death Takes Wings

By William Morrison

Army Aviator Don Morley Was Up Against a Blank Wall in Ferreting Out Treachery—Until a Nazi Agent Made Some Sabotage to Order for Him!

FAR below him, the plane was twisting and turning end over end. As he drifted slowly down, Lieutenant Don Morley heard the crash, then the roar of an explosion. Seconds later, his feet hit the ground. He disentangled himself from his parachute, and stared at the flames rising from the wreckage more than two miles away.

He made his way slowly through the fields that lay between him and what had been a new fighter plane. By the time he reached it, the wreckage was charred and blackened, and the flames had almost died away. A group of farmers stood at a respectful distance, curious, but afraid to venture too close. "Your plane, Mister?" one of them asked. "It was." Morley spoke coldly to conceal the rage he felt. "Any of you men see what happened?"

"My boy was watchin' you. Personally, I ain't got time to keep lookin' up in the air. But he said a wing came off."

"Good boy. A wing did come off. Did he see where it fell?"

The boy himself, a ten-year-old, darted forward. "I'll show you where it is, Captain!"

A few moments later Morley was staring at what was left of the wing. It told him nothing.

This was the fourth plane of the new Wyatt type that had crashed. Eight men dead so far—and he would have been the ninth if he hadn't been unusually alert and jumped just before the wing succeeded in tearing loose. It was lucky, too, that he had been flying alone. There wouldn't have been time for two men to get out of the plunging wreck.

"What happened, Captain?" the boy asked. "Was there sabotage?"

Morley nodded slowly. It was so evidently sabotage that not even a kid could mistake it. Four Wyatt fighters downed in two weeks—eight men murdered—his eyes were smoldering when he turned abruptly on his heel and tramped away.

MORLEY sat around the conference table with three men who turned their heads whenever his eyes met theirs.

"That's the kind of plane you've been supplying to the army, gentlemen," he said bitterly. "They're supposed to be in first class condition when we get them."

"They are." It was Carter Wyatt himself, principal owner of the plant, who spoke. "It's easy enough to talk of sabotage, Lieutenant, but proof is another matter. Those planes were inspected thoroughly before we let them out of the factory. Are you sure that something didn't happen to them after they were delivered?"

Morley laughed without amusement.

"I'll stake my life that nothing happened to them. I know the mechanics who went over every bolt. They're personal friends of mine, and they're careful about their work. And I'll tell you something else, gentlemen. The F.B.I.'s pretty busy these days, and they didn't have too many men to assign to this job of investigation. That's one of the reasons it was handed over to me."

"We don't doubt your competence to investigate, Lieutenant." It was Bracken, plant engineer, who spoke. "But we've had about a dozen private detectives assigned to the job, and they've found nothing."

"I'm not a detective myself, and I don't promise to find anything. But the second reason the job was handed over to me is this—I know planes. I know the way they're supposed to be made, and I know how they should operate. Most private detectives don't. And, gentlemen, I intend to go over this plant of yours from top to bottom."

"That's okay with us." Wyatt pushed back his chair. "If there's anything wrong here, we certa...

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