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TAILSPIN TOMMY and the San Felipe Revolution


TAILSPIN Tommy hurried into the office of Mr. Paul Smith at Three Point.

"What is it, Mr. Smith?"

"Tommy," said the airport manager with a worried air, "a radio from San Felipe says a revolution has just broken out down there."

"A revolution!" exclaimed Tommy. "Wonder if Betty's safe?"

"Well," said Mr. Smith significantly, "she's the guest of Conchita Castellano, and old Don Castellano is the president's right-hand man."

"I see," said Tommy quickly. "If the rebels get after the Castellanos, Betty will be on a hot spot."

Mr. Smith nodded gravely.

"She can fly out of the country," suggested Tommy hopefully. "But maybe they've seized her plane," he added gloomily.

"That's why I called you," said Mr. Smith. "Now if you and Milligan want a couple of days' vacation—"

"Thanks! " interrupted Tommy. "We're leaving for San Felipe right now!"

Five minutes later a fast monoplane roared down the runway at Three Point and soared into the air. It climbed to 12,000 feet, found a tail wind, and sped southward.

While Tommy and Skeets raced for San Felipe, a little drama was taking place in the jungles of that Central American country. Rebel soldiers were leading three angry prisoners down a jungle trail. The prisoners were Betty Lou Barnes, Don Castellano, and Conchita Castellano, Betty's old school chum. Only two hours before, still unaware of the outbreak of the revolution, they had been surprised and captured by a rebel band at the Castellano plantation.

"Just wait till the American consul hears about this! " Betty complained as they rode through the steaming jungle.

"I'm so sorry," said Conchita. "They had no right to take you with us! "

"They weel all pay for thees!" stormed old Don Castellano.

The rebel soldiers, flourishing revolvers, told them to be quiet. Mile after mile they rode over the rough, miserable trail.

"We're going to the old Garcia Estate, I guess," said Conchita.

Betty gradually fell behind the rest of the party.

"Maybe I can make a break!" she reflected.

A soldier, noticing, that she lagged, slowed his horse until Betty came up to him. They were now fifty yards behind the others.

"Pronto!" he growled, giving Betty's horse a kick in the ribs.

"Stop that!" snapped Betty.

The soldier leered and caught Betty around the waist. With a quick motion the girl wrested herself free and snatched the man's revolver from its holster.

"Not a sound! " she commanded, covering him. "Keep going, or I'll put some holes in you!"

Betty stopped her horse and motioned the soldier to go ahead. As he rounded a bend in the trail, she turned her horse and galloped back toward the Castellano plantation.

Two hours later Tommy and Skeets landed at the airport of San Sebastian, capital of San Felipe. They accosted a federal officer and questioned him eagerly. San Felipe, he told them, was still in government hands, but several outlying towns had been occupied by General Galbas' rebels. Just an hour ago, the officer said, the cook from the Castellano plantation had come in with the news that Don Castellano, his daughter, and a guest had been kidnaped by the rebels, and presumably taken to rebel headquarters.

"Where are the headquarters?" demanded Tommy.

The officer described the old Garcia estate, twelve miles from San Sebastian. Two minutes later Tommy and Skeets were again in the air, racing for the rebel stronghold.

"The nerve of that general—kidnapping an American citizen!" grunted Skeets.

"The general won't dare to hold her," said Tommy.

They came within sight of the Garcia estate—a large plantation with five or six buildings, an encampment, and a field on which several airplanes were visible. A minute later Tommy's plane rolled to a halt near the rebel planes. As he climbed out, followed by Skeets, shouting soldiers hurried up.

"Where is General Galbas?" demanded Tommy.

"Americanos!" exclaimed a sour-faced officer.

"General Galbas!" insisted Tommy. "We want to see him!"

The scowling officer led them toward a big hacienda.

"Look! " said Sheets suddenly. "Bet it's the big cheese himself."

Around the corner of the hacienda appeared a plump, mustached horseman, magnificently uniformed and accompanied by guards. His fat face wore an oily smile. The soldiers who had taken Skcets and Tommy in charge saluted obsequiously.

"Americanos!" exclaimed the General Galbas in a shrill voice. "What will you wish here?"

Tommy spoke with as much dignity as he could command.

"Where is Betty Barnes—the Americano senorita?"

"Pronto!" added Skeets.

A cloud passed over the general's face. He shrugged his shoulders.

"No está aquí, señors. She's not here."

"Just the answer I expected," muttered Tommy. "We're going to search this camp. I don't trust that bozo."

The general glared at diem. He issued an order, and several soldiers sprang forward with their guns ready.

"You come weeth us," said one of them.

Prodded by rifles, Tommy and Sheets were directed toward the hacienda. They were taken down into a dimly lit cellar with barred windows. Guards pushed them into an evil-smelling cell, and the door was slammed behind them.

"Well I'll be blasted!" gasped Skeets.

"Hey, let us out of here, you lizards!" shouted Tommy after the retreating guards.

Only a shrill laugh answered him.

While Tommy and Skeets were talking over their predicament, they heard sudden shouts outside. Rifle shots sounded near the edge of the encampment. Excited men ran past the cell window. The sound of rifle fire was punctuated by the rat-tat-tat of machine guns.

"The federals have arrived!" exclaimed Tommy.

The boys began to beat on the door of their cell and shout at the top of their lungs.

A rebel guard soon appeared outside the door.

Tommy's quick wit formed a plan instantly. He doubled up and began staggering about the cell.

"I'm wounded!" he groaned.

The amazed soldier unlocked the door. As he entered the cell, Tommy's doubled body suddenly straightened. His fist caught the astonished guard full on the chin and dropped him dazed to the floor.

"Quick, Skeets!" whispered Tommy.

The boys sprang up the stairs. As they emerged into the open, they saw excited soldiers running about the encampment. Heavy firing still sounded from the tent line.

Skeets and Tommy ran for their plane, two hundred feet away.

"I'll turn the prop!" gasped Tommy when they reached it.

Skeets jumped into the forward cockpit. Tommy turned the propeller. When the engine started, Tommy ran back and clambered into the rear cockpit.

But luck was against him. As the plane began moving across the field, a stray bullet grazed Tommy's head. Dazed with pain, he stood erect in his cockpit, reeled, and toppled out onto the ground. Skeets, unaware of the accident, sped across the field and rose into the air.

Soldiers, running up, fired wildly at the fleeing plane. Then they turned to Tommy, who was weakly getting to his feet. They dragged him back to the cellar of the hacienda and threw him into a cell.

"Well!" groaned Tommy when he was alone. "A swell stunt of mine!"

With trembling fingers he pulled off his torn helmet and touched the spot where the bullet had grazed him.

"Whew!" he muttered as he bound his head with a handkerchief. "That was close enough!"

The fight outside was going against the federals. The firing dwindled and finally ceased altogether.

"Guess I'll have to make myself at home here," grumbled Tommy.

He pulled off his jacket and sank down on the rude bed in the cell. Weak from his wound, he quickly fell asleep.

He was wakened by a rifle barrel prodding him in the side. Three guards stood over him.

"The General—he see you," said one of them.

Closely guarded, Tommy was taken upstairs into the big front room of the hacienda. General Galbas and one of his officers were by the window.

"Ah, the Americano!" scowled the general. "You weel not escape again!"

"Where is Betty Barnes?" snapped Tommy.

"Silence!" commanded the general. "I will make the talk."

At his gesture, the guards behind Tommy left the room. A moment later they returned with a distinguished-looking old man and a beautiful young woman.

"Welcome, Don Castellano," grimaced the general.

"Galbas!" said Don Castellano angrily. "You will release us-"

"Silence!" commanded the rebel officer. He stepped forward and slapped the old Don.

Burning with indignation, Tommy whipped a sizzling right to the rebel's jaw. As the man went down, Tommy snatched his pistol and covered General Galbas.

"Not a word from you!" he whispered fiercely, taking the general's gun.

"What does thees mean?" stammered the frightened general. "You weel--"

"Shut up!" commanded Tommy.

He turned to the bewildered Castellanos.

"I'm Betty Barnes's friend. Where is she?"

"She escaped," explained Conchita. "Probably she's back at the plantation by now."

"All right," said Tommy. "We're all going there--including the general."

Prodded by Tommy's pistols, General Galbas, trembling, led the way out of the hacienda. Plis supporters, seeing his life in danger, did not dare to refuse Tommy's demand for horses. Two minutes later the little party, with Tommy's gun still covering his prisoner, galloped out of camp.

"We've got to make time!" said Tommy tensely.

Behind them soldiers were springing on horses and taking up the pursuit. But they did not dare to fire for fear of wounding their chief.

"You weel suffer for thees!" snarled General Galbas as they galloped down the trail.

Don Castellano, who had taken one of Tommy's guns, flourished it at the rebel chieftain.

"You weel go to preeson, Galbas!" he panted.

General Galbas, pale with fear, relapsed into silence.

The hard-riding fugitives managed to keep their lead over their pursuers. But when they had covered two miles, Conchita's horse began to falter. Suddenly he stumbled and almost threw his rider.

"You ride with me!" said Tommy, catching Conchita from her horse. "But now we've got to find a place to hold off that gang. We can't outride them."

"There's an old adobe house just ahead," gasped Conchita.

A hundred yards further on they reached the clearing where the old adobe house gleamed in the hot sunlight. They galloped up to the house and dismounted. Pushing General Galbas ahead of him, Tommy entered the house, followed by the others.

"Tommy!" cried a feminine voice from a doorway.

"Betty!" exclaimed Tommy and Conchita together.

Betty rushed to Tommy and gave him a big hug. Then she embraced Conchita happily.

"Madre de Dios!" shouted old Don Castellano, looking through a window. "There they come!"

The rebel soldiers appeared at the edge of the clearing. Don Castellano poked his pistol through a window and fired. A soldier clutched his shoulder and reeled in his saddle. The others dashed for cover. "That'll teach 'em!" cried Tommy, firing at another rebel. "But Betty-how did you get here?" he asked glancing over his shoulder.

"I escaped," said Betty excitedly. "But my horse threw me. I ran in here to hide, and I've been here ever since."

"We shall all be killed!" groaned General Galbas, cowering in a corner.

"You girls lie on the floor!" commanded Tommy. "Bullets are coming through these windows."

The besiegers had dismounted and taken to the long grass that surrounded the house. Tommy and Don Castellano fired whenever they saw a patch of grass move.

"Look!" said Tommy suddenly. "They're going to storm the place!"

The rebels were spreading out. At a signal from their leader, they rushed toward the house, firing rapidly as they came.

Tommy and Don Castellano stood ready at their windows.

"Hold your fire till they're almost on us!" said Tommy. "Then we'll empty our guns."

As the shouting rebels came on, Betty suddenly uttered a cry.


It was the roar of an airplane overhead. Tommy, forgetting the bullets that were zinging through the window, sneaked a look outward.

"The plane's diving this way!" he exclaimed.

"A federalista!" shouted Don Castellano happily.

The plane roared down toward the adobe house, spitting machine-gun bullets all the way.

As it came, several of the amazed rebels dropped in their tracks. The rest fled into the jungle.

The strange plane circled the adobe house twice and then headed eastward.

"Well," sighed Betty, "that was a relief."

"If you ask me," said Tommy suddenly, "that was Mr. Clarence Milligan of the U.S.A. I recognized the nose of the pilot in that plane."

As they looked through the window after the disappearing plane, they heard galloping hoofs in the jungle which surrounded the clearing.

"They have come back!" groaned Don Castellano.

"No," cried Conchita. "The federalistas!"

Into the clearing rode a troop of government soldiers. Don Castellano rushed to the door and flung it open.

"Madre de Dios!" he cried. "You have come at last!"

That evening a happy reunion was held at the Castellano plantation. Everyone had a story to tell.

Skeets, soaring away from his captors at the enemy airfield, had looked back and seen Tommy being dragged back to prison. He had flown at full speed to San Sebastian and obtained a government pursuit plane. On his way back to Galbas' headquarters he had spied the rebels attacking the old adobe house and had put them to flight. Then, noticing a band of federal troopers approaching the house, he had flown back to the Castellano plantation to await his friends.

Tommy, Betty, Conchita, and the old Don had been escorted back to the plantation by the federalistas. Another party of soldiers had taken the frightened General Galbas to San Sebastian. The revolution had quickly collapsed when his capture became known among his followers.

"Some day's work," sighed Tommy as he sank back in his chair with a cooling drink.

"You were wonderful," cried Betty, kissing him.

"But how about me?" protested Skeets laughingly.

"You, too, were wonderful," smiled Conchita, planting a kiss on the former cowboy's forehead.

"You have saved my country," announced old Don Castellano. "A toast—for Libertad y Patria! Liberty and Fatherland!"