“Not now, but my heart was in my mouth when we started. How about you?”
“I guess I felt the same way, but now it seems as though flying was the most ordinary thing in the world.”
The lights of University City faded and the transport bored east into the night. Jane watched the dials on the bulkhead. The indicator for air speed pointed to 110 miles an hour while the altimeter showed they were now 1,200 feet above ground.
In a pocket at the rear of the chair ahead was a folding map which showed the route of Federated Airways from Chicago to the west coast and Jane and Sue scanned this with intense interest. Each city and emergency landing field was marked, with a brief description printed on the map.
An Emergency Case
Dawn came as the tri-motor sped over the level farm lands of Iowa. Passengers who had been dozing roused themselves to watch the sun shoot over the horizon.
The night mists were dispelled and the fresh greenness of the corn belt in spring was unfolded below them. Wisps of smoke rose from the chimneys of farmhouses as breakfast was prepared and Jane and Sue, looking down, saw farmers about their chores in the farmyards.
There was a brief pause at Bellevue for refueling and then the big ship sped away on the last leg of the flight to Chicago. In another hour and a half Jane and Sue would be in the Windy City.
An elderly man two seats ahead and on the aisle had caught Jane’s attention and she watched him closely. His face was pale and he appeared slightly ill. Perhaps the motion of the plane was unsettling, she thought. The flight would be over in a short time.
Jane’s attention went back to the panorama below and for several minutes she paid no attention to the man ahead. When she looked at him again, she felt genuine alarm and she leaned close to Sue to speak.
“Unless I’m badly mistaken, the man two seats ahead is mighty sick.”
Sue looked ahead and her eyes widened.
“He’s pale as a ghost. Can’t we do something?” Jane nodded and rose from her chair. It wasn’t any of her business, really, but there might be something she could do. She stepped forward and leaned down.
“You look ill,” she said. “I’m a trained nurse. Is there anything I can do?”
The stricken man managed to smile and his eyes spoke his thanks. Jane bent low so he could speak directly into her ear.
“Appendicitis, I fear. I’ve had it before, but never an attack as severe as this. How long before we’ll be in Chicago?”
“Not long,” replied Jane. “I’ll see if I can’t find something to make you more comfortable.”
Jane hastened back to Sue.
“It’s appendicitis,” she said. “Let’s see if we can find anything in the pantry to make into a compress or fix up an ice bottle. That may help check the inflammation until we get to Chicago.”
While the other passengers looked on a little startled, the girls went back to the pantry.
“Here’s a bottle of cold water,” said Sue.
“I’ve found some towels. We’ll make some cold compresses.”
Some one tapped her on the shoulder just then and she turned around to look into the stern face of the co-pilot.
“Passengers are not allowed here,” he said. “You’ll have to go back to your seats.”
Sue started to make a sharp reply, but Jane silenced her.
“The man in No. 4 is suffering from an attack of appendicitis,” she explained. “We’re trained nurses and thought we might find something here we could use to relieve the pain until we get to Chicago.”
The grim expression on the co-pilot’s face vanished.
“Why didn’t you say so?”
“You didn’t give us a chance,” retorted Sue.
“Do you think his condition is serious?” the flyer asked Jane.
“He’s pretty sick right now and he’s not a young man by any means. If you can send word ahead some way to have an ambulance waiting at the field, that will help.”
“I’ll get a radio off at once. Is there anything I can do?”
“No, we’ll do everything possible,” Jane told him.
“The other passengers seem to be a little alarmed,” said Sue. “I’m going to tell them just what’s up.”
“Good idea. I’ll have the compresses ready when you come back.”
Sue went along the cabin and stopped to tell each passenger just what was the matter with the elderly man in No. 4. Everyone was sympathetic, but there was nothing they could do to help.
The girls made the stricken man as comfortable as possible and changed the cold packs frequently. It seemed to Jane as though the engines were droning along at a higher pitch and a glance at the air-speed indicator revealed that they were traveling 135 miles an hour.
They passed over Aurora and Jane knew they would soon be in Chicago. The co-pilot came back.
“How’s he getting along?” he asked Jane.
“He’s much more comfortable. Did you get a message through?”
“An ambulance is waiting at the field right now. Gosh, but I’m glad you girls were along. You ought to apply for jobs with the company. They’re going to put on a bunch of girls as stewardesses.”
“That’s just exactly why we’re on this plane.”
“Then this bit of first aid won’t hurt you in getting a job,” grinned the co-pilot.
He ducked back into the forward compartment and a few minutes later the plane swung over the municipal airport, Chicago headquarters of the Federated Airways.
Word had been flashed around the field that the incoming plane was bringing in a sick man, and the ship was given the right of way over all other planes.
Jane and Sue were too much interested in their patient to feel the slightest discomfort as the plane landed and rolled along the concrete ramp.
Sue hurried the other passengers out and an ambulance backed up to the plane.
“I’m deeply grateful,” whispered their patient, as he was lifted from the plane to the ambulance.
A white-garbed interne waved to the driver and with its siren clearing a path, the ambulance sped away.