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TAM O' THE SCOOTS

By EDGAR WALLACE

A. L. BURT COMPANY
_PUBLISHERS_
New York Chicago

Printed in U. S. A.




Copyright, 1919

By SMALL, MAYNARD & COMPANY

(INCORPORATED)




BOOKS BY

Edgar Wallace


ANGEL ESQUIRE
THE ANGEL OF TERROR
THE BLACK ABBOT
BLUE HAND
CAPTAINS OF SOULS
THE CLEVER ONE
THE CLUE OF THE NEW PIN
THE CLUE OF THE TWISTED CANDLE
THE CRIMSON CIRCLE
THE DAFFODIL MURDER
THE DARK EYES OF LONDON
DIANA OF KARA-KARA
THE DOOR WITH SEVEN LOCKS
THE FACE IN THE NIGHT
THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE FROG
THE FLYING SQUAD
THE FOUR JUST MEN
THE GIRL FROM SCOTLAND YARD
THE GREEN ARCHER
GREEN RUST
GUNMAN'S BLUFF
THE HAIRY ARM
JACK O'JUDGMENT
KATE PLUS 10
A KING BY NIGHT
THE MAN WHO KNEW
THE MELODY OF DEATH
THE MISSING MILLIONS
THE MURDER BOOK OF J. G. REEDER
THE NORTHING TRAMP
THE RINGER
THE SECRET HOUSE
THE SINISTER MAN
THE SQUEALER
THE STRANGE COUNTESS
TAM O' THE SCOOTS
THE TERRIBLE PEOPLE
TERROR KEEP
THE TRAITORS' GATE
THE THREE JUST MEN
THE TWISTER
THE VALLEY OF GHOSTS




To

QUENTIN ROOSEVELT

AND ALL AIRMEN, FRIEND AND FOE
ALIKE, WHO HAVE FALLEN IN CLEAN FIGHTING

The world was a puddle of gloom and of shadowy things,
He sped till the red and the gold of invisible day
Was burnish and flames to the undermost spread of his wings,
So he outlighted the stars as he poised in the grey.

Nearer was he to the knowledge and splendour of God,
Mysteries sealed from the ken of the ancient and wise--
Beauties forbidden to those who are one with the clod--
All that there was of the Truth was revealed to his eyes.

Flickers of fire from the void and the whistle of death,
Clouds that snapped blackly beneath him, above and beside,
Watch him, serene and uncaring--holding your breath,
Fearing his peril and all that may come of his pride.

Now he was swooped to the world like a bird to his nest,
Now is the drone of his coming the roaring of hell,
Now with a splutter and crash are the engines at rest--
All's well!

E. W.




CONTENTS


PAGE

I THE CASE OF LASKY 1
II PUPPIES OF THE PACK 21
III THE COMING OF MÜLLER 40
IV THE STRAFING OF MÜLLER 58
V ANNIE--THE GUN 76
VI THE LAW-BREAKER AND FRIGHTFULNESS 100
VII THE MAN BEHIND THE CIRCUS 130
VIII A QUESTION OF RANK 157
IX A REPRISAL RAID 191
X THE LAST LOAD 220




TAM O' THE SCOOTS




CHAPTER I

THE CASE OF LASKY


Lieutenant Bridgeman went out over the German line and "strafed" a
depot. He stayed a while to locate a new gun position and was caught
between three strong batteries of Archies.

"Reports?" said the wing commander. "Well, Bridgeman isn't back and Tam
said he saw him nose-dive behind the German trenches."

So the report was made to Headquarters and Headquarters sent forward a
long account of air flights for publication in the day's communique,
adding, "One of our machines did not return."

"But, A' doot if he's killit," said Tam; "he flattened oot before he
reached airth an' flew aroond a bit. Wi' ye no ask Mr. Lasky, sir-r,
he's just in?"

Mr. Lasky was a bright-faced lad who, in ordinary circumstances, might
have been looking forward to his leaving-book from Eton, but now had to
his credit divers bombed dumps and three enemy airmen.

He met the brown-faced, red-haired, awkwardly built youth whom all the
Flying Corps called "Tam."

"Ah, Tam," said Lasky reproachfully, "I was looking for you--I wanted
you badly."

Tam chuckled.

"A' thocht so," he said, "but A' wis not so far frae the aerodrome when
yon feller chased you--"

"I was chasing him!" said the indignant Lasky.

"Oh, ay?" replied the other skeptically. "An' was ye wantin' the Scoot
to help ye chase ain puir wee Hoon? Sir-r, A' think shame on ye for
misusin' the puir laddie."

"There were four," protested Lasky.

"And yeer gun jammed, A'm thinkin', so wi' rair presence o' mind, ye
stood oop in the fuselage an' hit the nairest representative of the
Imperial Gairman Air Sairvice a crack over the heid wi' a spanner."

A little group began to form at the door of the mess-room, for the news
that Tam the Scoot was "up" was always sufficient to attract an
audience. As for the victim of Tam's irony, his eyes were dancing with
glee.

"Dismayed or frichtened by this apparition of the supermon i' the
air-r," continued Tam in the monotonous tone he adopted when he was
evolving one of his romances, "the enemy fled, emittin' spairks an'
vapair to hide them from the veegilant ee o' young Mr. Lasky, the Boy
Avenger, oor the Terror o' the Fairmament. They darted heether and
theether wi' their remorseless pairsuer on their heels an' the seenister
sound of his bullets whistlin' in their lugs. Ain by ain the enemy is
defeated, fa'ing like Lucifer in a flamin' shrood. Soodenly Mr. Lasky
turns verra pale. Heavens! A thocht has strook him. Where is Tam the
Scoot? The horror o' the thocht leaves him braithless; an' back he
tairns an' like a hawk deeps sweeftly but gracefully into the
aerodrome--saved!"

"Bravo, Tam!" They gave him his due reward with great handclapping and
Tam bowed left and right, his forage cap in his hand.

"Folks," he said, "ma next pairformance will be duly annoonced."

* * * * *

Tam came from the Clyde. He was not a ship-builder, but was the
assistant of a man who ran a garage and did small repairs. Nor was he,
in the accepted sense of the word, a patriot, because he did not enlist
at the beginning of the war. His boss suggested he should, but Tam
apparently held other views, went into a shipyard and was "badged and
reserved."

They combed him out of that, and he went to another factory, making a
false statement to secure the substitution of the badge he had lost. He
was unmarried and had none dependent on him, and his landlord, who had
two sons fighting, suggested to Tam that though he'd hate to lose a good
lodger, he didn't think the country ought to lose a good soldier.

Tam changed his lodgings.

He moved to Glasgow and was insulted by a fellow workman with the name
of coward. Tam hammered his fellow workman insensible and was fired
forthwith from his job.

Every subterfuge, every trick, every evasion and excuse he could invent
to avoid service in the army, he invented. He simply did not want to be
a soldier. He believed most passionately that the war had been started
with the sole object of affording his enemies opportunities for annoying
him.

Then one day he was sent on a job to an aerodrome workshop. He was a
clever mechanic and he had mastered the intricacies of the engine which
he was to repair, in less than a day.

He went back to his work very thoughtfully, and the next Sunday he
bicycled to the aerodrome in his best clothes and renewed his
acquaintance with the mechanics.

Within a week, he was wearing the double-breasted tunic of the Higher
Life. He was not a good or a tractable recruit. He hated discipline and
regarded his superiors as less than equals--but he was an enthusiast.

When Pangate, which is in the south of England, sent for pilots and
mechanics, he accompanied his officer and flew for the first time in his
life.

In the old days he could not look out of a fourth-floor window without
feeling giddy. Now he flew over England at a height of six thousand
feet, and was sorry when the journey came to an end. In a few months he
was a qualified pilot, and might have received a commission had he so
desired.

"Thank ye, sir-r," he said to the commandant, "but ye ken weel A'm no
gentry. M' fairther was no believer in education, an' whilst ither
laddies were livin' on meal at the University A' was airning ma' salt at
the Govan Iron Wairks. A'm no' a society mon ye ken--A'd be usin' the
wrong knife to eat wi' an' that would bring the coorp into disrepute."

His education had, as a matter of fact, been a remarkable one. From the
time he could read, he had absorbed every boy's book that he could buy
or borrow. He told a friend of mine that when he enlisted he handed to
the care of an acquaintance over six hundred paper-covered volumes which
surveyed the world of adventure, from the Nevada of Deadwood Dick to the
Australia of Jack Harkaway. He knew the stories by heart, their
phraseology and their construction, and was wont at times, half in
earnest, half in dour fun (at his own expense), to satirize every-day
adventures in the romantic language of his favorite authors.

He was regarded as the safest, the most daring, the most venomous of
the scouts--those swift-flying spitfires of the clouds--and enjoyed a
fame among the German airmen which was at once flattering and ominous.
Once they dropped a message into the aerodrome. It was short and
humorous, but there was enough truth in the message to give it a bite:

Let us know when Tam is buried, we would a
wreath subscribe.

Officers, German Imperial Air Service.
Section ----

Nothing ever pleased Tam so much as this unsolicited testimonial to his
prowess.

He purred for a week. Then he learned from a German prisoner that the
author of the note was the flyer of a big Aviatic, and went and killed
him in fair fight at a height of twelve thousand feet.

"It was an engrossin' an' thrillin' fight," explained Tam; "the bluid
was coorsin' in ma veins, ma hairt was palpitatin' wi' suppressed
emotion. Roond an' roond ain another the dauntless airmen caircled, the
noo above, the noo below the ither.



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