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IT was still early afternoon as Tommy Bighead, bursting with news, drove back to his office. Simultaneously, on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, gray dusk was creeping from mountain and valley over the wide, shimmering surface of Lake Constance. The lofty peaks toward the south were aglow in the rays of the setting sun, whose ruddy reflection imperceptibly shifted from the shadowy depths to the leaden-colored sky. The radiant evening star, Venus, was beginning to sparkle above the woody slopes bordering the west shore of the lake. The wind, which had ruffled the great expanse of water in the afternoon, was now still, and the last receding waves gently plashed against the shore.

All was quiet in the great aviation construction plant to the north of Friedrichshafen. Only on the landing float were a few workers setting up huge searchlights for the night.

Far out on the lake, scarcely visible from the shore, rested a small motorboat, a mere dark speck on the water. The engine was shut off, and the retreating waves rippled noiselessly against the sides of the small craft. The pilot at the helm glanced at the clock on the switchboard, saying in a preoccupied tone, “Something must have happened to him; it is almost nine o’clock.”

“Don’t give up so soon,” replied the other occupant of the boat, whose name was Anderl.

“Keep your ears open.”

Anderl was an uncouth Bavarian lad who had been employed at the construction plant as a mechanic three years before. At first he had entirely escaped notice, for he was only a mechanic, Andreas Lindpointner. As time went on, however, he became a subject of remark. One of the reasons was his persistent refusal to exchange his native costume for the customary blue outfit of the mechanics. The leather breeches which he wore year after year were as though he had grown into them. Furthermore, he found it difficult to adopt a language very different from his native dialect. He still retained the crude, informal mode of expression, characteristic of the Bavarian vernacular, and used the familiar second person pronoun on occasions requiring the more formal third person. These peculiarities doubtless would have led him into difficulties, had not his fellow-workers, won by his rough but kindly good humor, been of a disposition to understand and tolerate his eccentricity of speech and dress.

One day Hans Hardt, chief engineer of the construction plant, had given him a particularly difficult problem in construction to carry out. He had accepted the task with enthusiasm, exclaiming, “I’ll do that, Mr. Hardt. You can depend upon Anderl!” From that time on, Andreas Lindpointner was known only as “Anderl.”

Hardt became increasingly aware that the sincere, spontaneous country lad had more real ability than many of the engineers. He took occasion to try out Anderl in his private experimental workshop. In this manner he found that Anderl not only could handle tools with some skill, but also could hold his tongue. And so, in the course of time, Anderl became Hans Hardt’s confidential helper.

At length there came a red-letter day for Anderl. From some unknown cause an explosion occurred in the experimental workshop, and in the space of a few seconds the entire building was in flames. Anderl and his two companions were able to reach safety, but Hans Hardt was missing.

Anderl rushed frantically back into the seething flames, shouting, “Hardt is still in the battery room!” With head lowered, he drove his massive shoulders against a door, which burst open with a shower of splinters.

Stifled by the smoke and by the gas from the storage batteries,

Hans Hardt lay unconscious on the floor.

Anderl slung the heavy body of the big man like a sack over his shoulders, and bore him over burning rafters and through crumbling walls into the open. With his own, as well as Hans Hardt’s, clothes aflame and no time to lose, he dashed to the edge of the lake and let himself and his burden into the water.

For days Hardt hovered between life and death. Anderl, too, was seriously burned. He merely had his wounds dressed, however, and refused to budge from the bedside of his chief. When Hardt finally regained consciousness and learned who had been his rescuer, he clasped Anderl’s clumsy fist in his two hands, saying, “I shall not forget this, Anderl.” The huge uncouth youth wept like a child, so happy was he at these friendly words of his master.

From then on, Anderl became Hardt’s shadow.

He was indispensable as helper, mechanic, personal attendant, confidential advisor and trusted friend—all in one. Master and helper worked together, with single purpose, and Anderl was the only person in the world who was aware of Hardt’s prodigious plans for the future down to the minutest detail.

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