Clarence Young.

The Motor Boys on the Wing: or, Seeking the Airship Treasure





Naturally I went after Hardy, but so far I havent been able to locate him. He hasnt been back home since he changed the money here.

Does that strike you as being suspicious? asked Ned.

No, replied the detective, for Hardy is well known hereabouts, and is considered honest. Ive found out that hes visiting relatives and expects to be back in his hotel to-day.

Then lets take a run out there. We can go in the Comet if its far, said Jerry eagerly.

Its not far enough, said Mr. Halwell, and besides it would create too much talk if we descended in an airship. In a case like this the less talk you stir up the better. If the burglars dont know that were so close on their trail they wont be in such a hurry to move on. Well go out in an auto. Theyre common enough.

They found Mr. Hardy, the hotel keeper, to be an elderly man, of a genial disposition. He had just returned from a three-days visit to relatives, and was very willing to talk.

I did break the twenty dollar gold piece, he admitted, but I never thought it would make such a rumpus. You see this is the way it was. I was sitting all alone here one evening, a few nights ago, let me see it was on Tuesday

The night of the robbery! interrupted Jerry.

So Ive been told, went on Mr. Hardy. Perhaps I shouldnt have said evening, for it was past midnight when I got ready to lock up and go to bed, trade being dull. I was at the front door when I heard a racket over head like when theres a sharp clap of thunder you know, one of those close-by ones, that sound like whips snapping. I was quite surprised, for the stars were out, and there wasnt a sign of a storm. The noise passed away in a second, but it gave me quite a start, and I stayed by the front door a matter of several minutes, but I couldnt see anything.

I was going on with my locking up, and was just ready to put out the last light, when I heard a knock on the door. That startled me too, for I hadnt heard any rig drive up, nor any auto puffing, and this place is rather far out for people to walk to. I didnt like the thing at all, but as Im here to do business I went to the door. There stood two men

Not a man and a young fellow? interrupted Ned eagerly.

No, two men, rather middle-aged men. They were dressed like autoists, and I was rather surprised at that, for I couldnt see any car. They apologized for coming in so late, and they asked me if they could get a meal anything cold said theyd pay well for it.

I didnt like to bother at that time of night, as all my help had gone to bed, but I like to be accommodating, so I told em to come in. I asked em where their machine was, and they said they had a slight accident and had left it down the road. I asked em what kind of an auto it was, and how badly it was broken, for my sons a machinist, and handy with tools. I thought I might get him some work, but they said they could fix it themselves, and one of em made a funny sort of remark.

What did he say? asked Jerry.

He said they had broken one of the guy wires on the warping wing tips, replied Mr.

Hardy. That was the first auto I ever heard of having wings, and I didnt ask any more questions for fear they were making game of me.

To make a long story short I got em a meal, and they tossed me a twenty dollar gold piece when they were through. I gave em change and they hurried out into the darkness. I listened for some time, but I couldnt hear any auto chugging off, so I went to bed. Thats how I got the gold piece, and I was so suspicious of it that I changed it the first chance I got. But I told the Newton hotel clerk about it, and I said if it turned out bad to let me know, and Id make it right. I thought maybe thats what you had come out here for.

No, it was a genuine gold piece all right, answered the detective.

But what made you suspicious of it? asked Jerry.

Because of the way those men acted. I didnt like their looks at all.

Can you describe them? inquired Ned eagerly. Then in a low voice he added to Jerry: You know Noddy is big enough to be taken for a man.

Nonsense! exclaimed the tall lad. Listen to what he says.

I dont know as I can describe the men better than to say that they seemed suspicious of every one, said Mr. Hardy. As they ate they kept shifting their gaze all around, as if they were afraid of some one coming in unexpectedly. They both had sharp eyes, were of dark complexion and were well dressed. One of them had his hand tied up in a handkerchief and when I asked him if hed hurt it in the auto accident he said no at first, and then, as quick as a flash, he said he had. So I thought that was queer.

However, I had no complaint coming, and Im glad the money was all right. Now, does this description fit in with what you want?

It does! declared Jerry. Im positive the men were Brown and Black, and that they robbed the bank.

And I guess Ive been wrong in thinking it was Noddy, admitted Ned. Still what about the rag on the statue, and that suspicious talk?

Well consider that later, replied Jerry. This clears the atmosphere, so to speak, and we know who were after. Now to get on the trail of Brown and Black, who undoubtedly were in this vicinity with their airship.

Thats what I think, said the detective. Ill ask you to keep quiet about this, Mr. Hardy.

Oh, sure.

Now for further clews, went on Jerry. Im going to have a look to see if we can find where they landed in the biplane when they came here for their midnight supper.

CHAPTER XXIV
THE LONELY FARMHOUSE

Regarding this place of landing Mr. Hardy could give the boys and the detective no clew. He could only point out the direction taken by the men when they left his hotel, and that was down the main country road. He said he had soon lost them in the darkness.

And I didnt see which way they came, so I cant even tell you that, said the innkeeper. But they were surely two suspicious men if I ever saw any.

Could you get any line on their conversation? asked Jerry.

No, for they talked in whispers when I was around. I did hear em speak about the broken wing tip, or something like that, but I didnt take any stock in it. I never dreamed of an airship. I was thinking of an auto all the while.

They were in an airship all right, declared the tall lad. And as they would have to have quite a level place on which to land and get a start from again, well look for that. Come on, well get back to the Comet.

They rose high in the air, and circled about the country looking for the most favorable spot near the hotel of Mr. Hardy, where it was likely an air ship would have landed.

Yet as it was night, they couldnt have had much choice fellows, spoke Bob.

Especially with a broken warping wing, added Ned.

That last may have been only talk, declared Jerry. Brown and Black are sharp enough for that. Besides, with a powerful search light, such as they carried on their machine the first time we saw it, they could pick out a clearing in the trees.

Theres a clearing down there now, remarked the stout lad, pointing to an opening in the forest. It was the first large one they had sighted, and it was at once decided to drop down to it.

But they got no clews there. The glade was carpeted with long green grass, and even if an airship had landed there the marks of the wheels would scarcely have made an impression. Or, if there had been such marks, the wind would soon have effaced them.

Try again, suggested Jerry, as they got ready to rise as a balloon, for there was hardly room enough to manipulate the Comet as an aeroplane.

The rest of that day they circled about, descending into several clearings in the hope of coming upon the one where Brown and Black had temporarily left their machine. But it was of no use.

I guess Id better get back to my hotel, announced the detective, as night came on. I cant do anything more for you boys, and I want to wire a report to Mr. Carter. Theres no use of me staying in Newton any longer, for its evident now that Brown and Black are far away.

Yes, so far that I doubt if we ever catch them, remarked Ned dubiously.

Oh, yes we will, exclaimed Jerry confidently. Well not give up yet. Well keep on going west, for I believe thats where well find them.

And thats where well get my flying frog, put in the professor.

Night saw the boys heading due west in their craft, the detective having alighted on the outskirts of the town, to make his way back to his hotel. He wished them all success.

Well travel all night, decided Jerry to his chums, for I believe those men will make long flights, and its no use looking for them within several hundred miles of this place. Theyd want to put as great a distance as possible between themselves and Harmolet.

Thats right, agreed Ned, who was now converted to the views of his two chums. Well keep on until daylight, and then go down and make inquiries as to whether or not any airships have been seen lately.

The hours of darkness passed without incident, and when morning came the boys found themselves over a small country town. They were flying low enough so that the craft was speedily made out by some early risers. The word quickly went around, and soon there was a good-sized crowd gazing earnestly upward.

Shall we go down? asked Jerry.

Might as well, decided Ned.

But their anxious inquiries resulted in nothing. There had been no signs of any other airship, and theirs was the first the inhabitants of the town had ever seen. Nor had any one heard the noise of the motors of one of the craft passing onward in the night.

When they were ready to start again, Professor Snodgrass, as usual, was not on hand. They made a search for him, and found him on the bank of the mill pond, industriously catching frogs in his net. He had engaged half a dozen enthusiastic boys, promising that whoever found the flying frog would get five dollars. The boys had dozens of the hapless creatures in tin cans, but all proved to be of the ordinary kind.

I guess well have to look farther west, admitted the scientist with a sigh, as he accompanied the boys back to the air ship. Though when I saw those insects I thought sure Id have my frog. However, Im on the right track, Im positive of that.

I wish we were just as positive, remarked Jerry, as he and Ned started the gas machine, and sent the Comet aloft again.

Once more on the wing, the airship made rapid progress through space. The boys swept about in great circles, now scanning the sky dome with powerful glasses for a possible sight of the Silver Star, and again descending to some quiet country town to make inquiries. They avoided the big cities, since they argued that Brown and Black, in their efforts to escape observation, would do the same thing.

But as the days passed, and they were no nearer the trail of the thieves, the confidence of even the optimistic Jerry began to wane. Still he had no thought of giving up. The boys took a lesson from Professor Snodgrass, who, though disappointed many times in finding his flying frog, always approached every new pond full of confidence.

Ill get it yet! he declared sturdily.

And well get Brown and Black! asserted Jerry.

It was nearly a week since they had set out from Harmolet. In that time they had communicated with President Carter several times, but only to say that they were still on the trail. In turn the bank president had wired that there were no new developments at his end. The boys had telegraphed to their folks, and had received messages and greetings in return.

Toward the close of a warm, sultry afternoon, when they were sailing over a lonely stretch of country, Jerry called to Ned to look at the barometer.

Why, whats up? asked Ned.

It feels like a storm, and if ones coming I think wed better go down and wait until its over. Is the mercury falling?

By Jove! It is going down, reported the lad. I guess were in for it.

A little later there was noticed a bank of dark and angry-looking clouds in the west, and from them came fitful flashes of lightning, while the distant rumble of thunder could be heard.

Better go down, advised Bob. Its going to break soon.

I was waiting until I saw a little better place to make a descent, answered Jerry, peering anxiously ahead through the gathering murkiness. Its a pretty rough country here nothing but woods.

Well, we can stay in the air ship cabin, retorted Ned. Go ahead down Jerry.

All right, assented the tall lad. He pulled the deflecting lever, and, as he did so there was a sharp snapping sound.

Whats that? cried Bob in alarm.

Lightning! answered Ned.

No, something broken, declared Jerry. Its a main brace, too, he added a moment later. Well have to go down now whether we want to or not. That brace will have to be heated, and welded together before we can run the machinery at full speed. Here we go!

The Comet shot downward on a long slant, and a moment later there was a vivid flash of lightning, followed by a crashing peal of thunder.

The night was brilliantly illuminated for an instant, and Bob cried out:

Theres a house. Head for that, Jerry!

Jerry and Ned had also seen, revealed in the flash of celestial fire, a lonely farmhouse in the midst of a little clearing. The airship had suddenly shot over it on her downward course.

Thats a good place to land! cried Jerry above the noise of another clap of thunder. Head for the barn yard!

An instant later there came a deluge of rain, and in the midst of it the airship came to the earth rather suddenly, for a gust of wind upset Jerrys calculations with the rudder.

As the Comet came to rest, after shooting across the yard in front of the barn, a man came running from the farmhouse.

By Peter! Another one of the critters! he cried. Hey, you fellers! Come on in the house! Come in the house!

No, well go in the barn, after we fasten down the ship! shouted Jerry.

Come in the house I tell you! Keep out of that barn! Come in the house! And the farmer who seemed greatly excited over something, fairly grasped Jerry by the arm, as the widows son alighted from the ship, and led him toward the house.

CHAPTER XXV
QUEER ACTIONS

Ned and Bob were already out in the rain, getting ready to make the anchor ropes fast to the nearest firm objects. They gazed somewhat curiously after Jerry, wondering where he was going with the farmer. Professor Snodgrass, after seeing that all his specimen boxes were safely put away, had come out and was helping the two boys.

Ill have to give them a hand, shouted Jerry above the noise of the storm. Can we wheel the airship under the shed? I see you have one by the barn.

Not that shed the one over here, answered Mr. Rossmore pointing to another, somewhat removed from the big barn. That shed aint safe. It might tumble down and smash your air machine. Wheel it over to that other shed, and then come in the house. Land sakes! This is a fearful storm.

He made another grab for Jerrys arm, but the tall lad avoided the grasp, at the same time wondering at the strange behavior of the farmer.

He wants to be hospitable all right, mused the widows son, but he takes a queer way of showing it. Wait a minute, he called to Bob and Ned, Ill give you a hand. Were going to put her under the shed. I guess its big enough.

Bur-r-r-r-r! Its awful wet rain! exclaimed Ned, as a stream of water ran down his neck. Whos your friend, Jerry?

Hush. I dont know, except that his names Hiram Rossmore. He wants us to come in the house. Hes a bit queer. Here he comes.

The farmer had followed Jerry as the latter turned back toward the airship; and Mr. Rossmore, together with the boys and Professor Snodgrass, wheeled the Comet toward a big wagon shed, which fortunately proved large enough to accommodate the craft. Not that rain would spoil it, but in a terrific thunder storm, such as was now in progress, and with a stiff wind blowing, there was danger of damage to the somewhat frail machine.

It was soon under shelter and well secured with ropes, while Jerry went inside to make a quick inspection of the broken brace.

It will need a blacksmith shop to repair it, he reported to his chums.

Waal, can ye come in th house now? asked Mr. Rossmore, as he stood under the shed, at the side of the motorship. This is a bigger shebang than the other I mean its the biggest one Ive ever seen.

Oh, then youve seen one before? asked Jerry with a quick and warning glance at his chums.

Yes, I saw one on exhibition at our county fair, was the disappointing answer. It wasnt so big as this, and was some different.

We are looking for an airship that belongs to er well, to some men we know, spoke Jerry. It may be sailing around here. Were looking for it.

Waal, I guess you wont find it here, said the man, with rather an uneasy laugh. Now come on in the house and dry off. I live all alone exceptin for the hired man, and hes gone to town to-day, so well have the place to ourselves. Come on in the house. That barns dangerous in a thunderstorm in fact its dangerous most any time. Its likely to fall. I wouldnt go too near it if I was you.

Jerry looked at the barn in question. It seemed well made, and solid, being in good repair. He looked at Mr. Rossmore. The farmer was glancing anxiously about, as though to assure himself that all four airship travelers were following him. Then, as if apparently satisfied on this point, he hurriedly led the way through the pelting rain to the farmhouse.

Jerry and the boys looked about them. Save for the clearing in which the house and other structures stood they were surrounded by a great forest. It was a very lonesome place.

Did you have some accident? asked the man, as he opened the door of a spacious farmhouse, and ushered them in.

Yes, we broke one of the main braces of the motor, answered Jerry. Is there a blacksmith shop around here? Or have you a portable forge we could use?

No, I havent any. But theres a shop about ten miles away. You might go there after the storm is over. But stay in the house until it is. You see I come here for solitude. I dont have much of a farm. This was a big one once, but its mostly growed up to second growth now, and I sell some lumber. I dont farm it.

Its a pretty nice place for a bachelor, observed Jerry, looking around, and noting that the house showed a womans care. There were many evidences that other hands than those of men had to do with the place.

Oh, I aint a bachelor, was the quick answer. My wifes gone to visit some relations, and I let the hired man have a vacation too. So Im all alone. But make yourselves to home. Peel off your wet things if you want to. Ill get some blankets you can wrap up in, and theres a good fire in the kitchen. Then Ill get you something to eat.

Thatll be good! exclaimed Bob, so earnestly that his chums laughed.

You mustnt mind him, apologized Jerry to the farmer. Its his one failing to be always hungry.

Better tell some of your own, murmured the stout lad.

Mr. Rossmore laughed and left the room, soon returning with a pile of blankets. The boys and the professor, going out in front of the big kitchen stove, divested themselves of their outer garments, and were soon warm and comfortable, while their wet clothes were drying before the oven.

Now, for a meal, went on the farmer. Ill do my best for you. I just cooked some chicken, so Ill warm it up.

Bobs eyes sparkled in anticipation. They were left to themselves for a few minutes while they heard Mr. Rossmore rummaging about down in the cellar, evidently after the victuals.

Does anything strike you as peculiar? asked Jerry of his chums, as he noted that Professor Snodgrass was trying to capture a fly that was buzzing on the window pane.

About what? asked Ned.

About this farmer and this place.

It looks comfortable, remarked Bob. Comfortable, and and a good place to stay. Hes going to feed us well, too!

Oh, thats all you think of, Chunky! I mean doesnt Mr. Rossmore strike you as rather odd?

It was kind of funny, him not wanting you to go out in the barn, said Ned.

Thats what I mean. Now I think and Jerry drew closer to his companions.

But what Jerry thought he did not at that moment say, for at that instant there sounded outside, and above the noise of the rain on the roof, a loud cry.

That came from the barn! cried Bob.

Sure! assented Ned.

Their voices were silenced in a terrific clap of thunder that followed a vivid flash. Professor Snodgrass jumped back from the window in some alarm.

Look! cried Jerry pointing outside where the rain was coming down in torrents. What he saw, and what the others saw was Mr. Rossmore rushing toward the barn at full speed toward the barn against which he had warned our heroes.





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