"There's plenty of time," the chief assured her. "It is best for us to wait until after dark. The early morning would be ideal time for an aerial attack on the city, when everybody is helpless and asleep.
There's generally a fog over the river and harbor, too, before sunrise at this season of the year, and that might help them to mask their movements. It would take an aeroplane less than an hour to reach the city from here, so that there is no likelihood of their starting until long after midnight. That gives us plenty of time, and besides we must wait until the Hoffs arrive."
"That will make two more--sixteen of them against our nine," warned Dean.
"We cannot help it how many of them there are," said Fleck. "It is of vital importance for us to know just what their plans are. It is unlikely that they will post guards to-night in this secluded spot, where they have been at work in safety for months. As soon as it is dark we can smash the aeroplanes."
"That will be easy," said Carter. "I know something about aeroplanes.
Cut a couple of wires, and they are out of business. Sills, one of my men, is posted on bombs, and he'll know just how to fix the fuses to render them useless."
"What's more," said Fleck, "if I understand German thoroughness, they will go over their final plans in detail to make sure that everything is understood. The darkness will let us slip up closer to the house, and we may be able to overhear what they say. Don't forget, too, that our main job is to catch the Hoffs red-handed."
"That's right," said Dean. "They are the brains of the plot. These other fellows are just workmen taking orders."
"I'm puzzled," said Fleck, "to know what they plan to do with the aeroplanes after the bombing has taken place. There is not one chance in a thousand of their being able to return here in safety without discovery. It will be sure death for the aviators that take up those machines."
With a shudder Jane recalled what Frederic had said to her only a few hours ago as they parted--that he was going away and might never return.
Was this what he had meant? Was he, Frederic, to be one of the foolhardy three who proposed to forfeit their lives in this desperate attempt to deal destruction from the air on a sleeping city, to wreck innocent homes, to cripple and maim and destroy helpless babies and women? She could not, would not believe it of him. That he had the courage and daring to undertake such a perilous task she did not doubt. She realized, too, that the controlling motive of all his actions was his high sense of duty toward his country, and yet in spite of all that she had learned about the plots in which she was enmeshed, her heart refused to believe that he ever could bring himself to participate in such wanton frightfulness. She recalled the spirit of mercy that he had shown toward herself and Thomas Dean after the accident as contrasted with the brutal indifference of his uncle. She kept hoping against hope that something might happen to prevent his arriving here. Devoutly she wished that she might awake and find that it was all a terrible mistake, a hideous unreality, and that the "Friends of the Air" were not in any way associated with the Hoffs.