Clarence Young.

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





I certainly hope I get a chance to look for my flying frog, put in the professor. We are getting over the region now where they are to be found.

Well do the best we can for you, promised the tall lad.

On and on they went. Night came, and they descended in a small clearing, for in the darkness they did not want to run over the place where the wrecked airship might be. Morning again saw them on the wing.

It was about noon, when Jerry, who had paid several anxious visits to the barometer, came back into the pilot house where Ned was steering.

Whats up? asked the merchants son.

Were in for another storm a worse one than the thunder and lightning kind we had the time we landed at the lonely farmhouse, replied the tall lad. Its going to be a blow.

Well, cant we weather it?

I suppose so. We could go down now, as there are several clearings around us. But if we do we may lose a chance of discovering the airship treasure.

Then keep on, advised Ned.

The only thing is, resumed Jerry, that if we get in the midst of a stiff blow we may not be able to land when we want to, on account of the thick trees.

I guess well have to take the chance, went on the other. Well get everything snug, and then, when it does come on to blow, well be in shape for it.

Everything loose about the airship was made fast. Jerry and his chums, with Professor Snodgrass to help them (for the scientist left off his bug collecting pursuits when he saw the storm coming up) went over the machinery, and saw that it was in good working order. The gas container was filled with the vapor under double pressure, ready to be used in case of emergency.

Then all they could do was to wait, meanwhile sailing slowly on, peering down through the gathering murkiness for a sight of the disabled biplane.

The storm broke with a suddenness that was almost terrifying. It came with a dash of rain, some thunder and lightning, and then these ceased, while the wind blew as the boys had seldom seen it blow before. In an instant they were tossed skyward, and then hurled toward the earth, and had not Jerry quickly set the rising rudder they might have been dashed upon the tree tops.

The wind now became a perfect gale, and on the wings of it they were hurled forward, almost faster than their powerful propellers could carry them. They were tossed hither and thither by the storm, and only Jerrys skill, aided as he was by his chums, prevented a wreck in the first few minutes of the opening blasts on the trumpet of the storm king.

Cant you go up higher, and get away from it? yelled Ned into Jerrys ear.

If we do we may miss the Silver Star, was the answer. For it was not so dark but that the white and flapping expanse of the planes of the wrecked airship could be noticed in case the boys sighted her.

Forward they were hurled, Jerry trying to keep at about the same distance above the forest, but finding it hard work.

It was over an unbroken woods that they were now moving. Not a clearing was to be seen in the many miles they covered in a short space of time.

Were going to have trouble when we want to land to-night, remarked the tall lad. I doubt if we can do it.

We cant unless we get to a clearing, declared Ned.

Or a lake, added Bob.

With a swoop the Comet went sailing upward, as a fiercer blast of the wind caught under her big planes, and Jerry strained at the lever of the deflecting rudder to bring her down.

Give us a hand here! he cried to his chums, and they sprang to his side.

Slowly the airship was forced downward, and then on she went on the wings of the gale, swaying from side to side, while the wind howled through her wire rigging as if in glee at the fate in store for her.

CHAPTER XXIX
THE WRECKED AIRSHIP

Several hours passed, and it was only by the greatest skill that Jerry and his companions were able to keep their craft on a level keel. Several times she almost turned turtle, and they were in danger of being hurled to earth as the unfortunate bank robbers had been.

Night was approaching, and still the Comet hurled herself forward through the heart of the storm. Finally Jerry, who had gone to the motor room, while Ned steered, came back to the pilot house.

Weve got to go down, he said. We cant stand this much longer. Its getting worse; and besides, we cant look for the airship in the darkness. Well have to make a landing.

But how can we in that? and Ned pointed to the vast expanse of black forest below them. Well be torn to pieces on the trees.

Well have to wait until we see a comparatively clear place, of course. Even then its going to be risky; but weve got to do it. Tell Bob to watch out for a clearing.

Eagerly they all watched, while the darkness gathered more densely. The storm had not abated a bit, and it was now raining again, the drops whipping against the airship almost like hail, such was the force of the wind.

Suddenly Bob, who had donned a rain coat, and a rubber hat with a flap that came to his shoulders, uttered a cry, and pointed downward and to the left.

What is it? called Jerry.

A clearing a big place make for it!

Ned sprang to his chums side.

A clearing! he shouted. Thats a lake a big lake! Good enough, Jerry! Head for that. Our hydroplanes will come in useful now!

It needed but a second to put the nose of the airship in the right direction, and in a few moments our heroes found themselves over a large body of water in the midst of the vast and uninhabited forest.

Some waves there, murmured Bob, and indeed the lake was covered with whitecaps from the wind, which was whipping their crests into spray.

Still its better than landing on the trees, replied Jerry. Stand by to let the hydroplanes down, boys!

Nearer and nearer to the foam-crested water came the gallant craft. The waves could be seen to be larger now, and even Jerry, staunch-hearted as he was, felt a momentary sense of fear. He had never dropped his machine on water that was as rough as this.

But there was no help for it. They could not keep on, and they must stop somewhere for the night. So, after a glance about in order to pick out the most sheltered spot, the tall lad yanked the lever of the deflecting rudder over still farther.

Here we go! he cried. Look out, boys! Shoot the hydroplanes out when I give the word!

Jerry turned off the power. The great propellers ceased revolving. The airship was now diving rapidly downward under her own momentum.

Ready! suddenly shouted Jerry; and Bob and Ned pulled on the levers, folding up the bicycle wheels, and shunting into place on the toggle-jointed arms the hydroplanes that would keep the Comet afloat.

The boys were hardly prepared for what followed, for as soon as they struck the water they were at once tossed about by the violence of the waves, the airship being so buoyant that she was like a chip on the lake. Up and down on the long swells, from side to side, she was thrown most violently.

We cant stand this! yelled Ned. Well tear the motor from the bed-plates.

Start the water propeller, called Jerry to Ned and Bob, and Ill head for shore. Be ready to jump out when I give the word, and haul her up with ropes. Ill let down the wheels as soon as we get in shallow water.

A moment later the craft was a little steadier, for Jerry had headed her up into the eye of the wind, and her bow instead of the side was taking the breaking waves. Then she moved forward toward the distant shore.

It was a hard fight, and one the boys never forgot. Time and again they were in danger of being swamped. But the gallant Comet struggled on, proving herself almost as good a water navigator as she was in the air. Then, as they neared the shore, Bob and Ned leaped out and reached the bank, holding long ropes attached to the airship. Jerry dropped the bicycle wheels and a little later the craft was pulled out on land.

Fortunately this was during a lull in the gale, or even then she might have been dashed against the trees and wrecked. But before the blast could resume its howling the boys and the professor had rolled their airship up into a little opening amid the trees, and soon it was well lashed to the sturdy trunks, some of the wing planes being folded over to offer less surface to the gale.

Now I guess were pretty snug, remarked Bob, as they sat in the closed cabin, and listened to the howl of the wind and the dash of the rain without. Ill get supper, and then we can sit and talk. It was a lucky thing I saw the lake.

Indeed it was, agreed Jerry. For doing that well forgive you for mentioning something to eat.

Sure, go ahead and get two suppers, urged Ned. Im hungry.

The professor was observed to be putting on a rain coat and a pair of rubber boots.

Where are you going? asked Jerry.

Out to look for my flying frog, he explained.

The boys persuaded him to wait until morning, and soon Bob served supper. Then, being tired with their day in the storm, they turned in, being almost as comfortable as if they were at home, save only that the Comet trembled now and then, as the blast shook her.

It stormed so all of the following day that they did not venture up in the air, but remained anchored. It began to clear during the afternoon, and the professor went searching for the flying frog, but came back at dusk without it.

Well start in the morning, decided Jerry that night, and I hope well soon find what were looking for.

It was about noon of the next day, when they had covered many miles over the trackless forest, that Ned, who was in the bow, looking eagerly through the binoculars, uttered a joyful cry.

What is it? demanded Jerry.

Im not sure but I see a big patch of white down there. It may be the wrecked airship were looking for. See, right by that clump of pines?

He pointed and handed the glasses to Jerry.

Its either her or a big white stone, murmured the tall lad.

It cant be a stone, for it flutters in the wind, declared Ned.

Dont be too sure, advised Bob. Weve been fooled before.

Well soon see what it is, said Jerry. Well go down there.

Eagerly they watched as the white patch became bigger, for they were nearing it rapidly. Now they could make out that it was some kind of cloth, caught on the limbs of a tree, for it flapped back and forth like a signal of distress.

I I guess weve found it at last, murmured Jerry hopefully.

If only the treasure is there, added Ned in a low voice.

In a few seconds more they were over the object. Just ahead of them was a little clearing where Jerry was going to land. As the Comet passed over the white object the boys looked down. Then came a joyful cry.

Thats her! yelled Ned. Its their airship!

For what he and the others saw, on the ground under the white cloth, was the bent and twisted remains of a big biplane, the engine, wings and frame being tossed together in an almost inextricable mass. It was the wreck of the Silver Star.

But was the airship treasure there?

CHAPTER XXX
THE AIRSHIP TREASURE CONCLUSION

Thats the same one!

The craft Brown and Black had.

The one they ordered us away from; I can tell by the peculiar wing tips at least from whats left of em.

Thus spoke Bob, Ned and Jerry in turn as they stood in the little clearing where they had landed, and viewed the airship wreck that was just on the edge of it.

Jove, but shes certainly smashed up! went on the stout lad.

The engine is nothing but junk, said Ned.

And look where the radiator is, called Jerry. Up in that beech tree. The cooling apparatus, torn loose from the rest of the machinery had caught on a great limb and hung there.

She must have crashed full-tilt into the trees, was Neds opinion. That tore things loose, and then, if the engine was going, the propellers threshed around and broke to pieces.

That last is true, anyhow, observed Bob. Here is a piece of one of the blades, and he held it up.

Professor Snodgrass was observed to be carefully scanning the ground about the wreck.

Are you looking for the treasure? asked Jerry.

Eh? Whats that? Treasure? No, my dear boy, Im looking for the flying frog. This seems a likely place to find one.

And well have a look for the treasure, said Ned, smiling at the odd indifference of the professor. It ought to be somewhere around here if Brown and Black, or whatever their names are told the truth.

After a glance at the wrecked craft the three boys began eagerly looking for the loot from the bank.

First wed better make sure it isnt still aboard, suggested Jerry. They had two or three compartments on their craft where they could carry the money.

It needed but the most casual glance, however, to show that none of the treasure was now aboard the Silver Star. In fact the several compartments or boxes of which Jerry had spoken were smashed beyond holding anything. In the corner of one, however, where it had become jammed, was part of the same curious implement that had first aroused their suspicions.

Thats the drill they used to make a hole in the safe door, so they could put in the explosive, declared Bob.

Yes, and wed better take it along for evidence, remarked Jerry, as he carried the tool to their own machine.

And theres not so much as a gold-piece here, gloomily went on Ned, after a careful survey of the ground about the wreck. I guess theyve got it hidden somewhere.

I dont agree with you, declared Jerry. I think it was in the ship after they were spilled out. How long it remained after that we cant say. But Im going to have a look back over the air path which this machine took in coming here.

They were hopeful at first, but when, after a walk of several hours, they had not even found a scrap of paper they began to get discouraged. All about them was the vast, silent forest, in which it seemed that the foot of man had not been set since the Indians had disappeared.

Its no use, declared Bob, sitting down on a stone. I wish Id brought along something to eat. Im going back. You fellows can hunt, if you want to.

Oh, come on, just a little farther, urged Jerry. Go one more mile, and then, if we dont find something well go back, and try it again to-morrow.

Well, just one mile more, stipulated the fat lad wearily.

They trudged on, poking about in the dead leaves for a sight of gold or paper. They had about covered the additional mile, and Bob was urging his companions to return, when, as he impatiently kicked at a stone, he uttered a cry.

Hurt yourself? asked Jerry, turning around.

Bob did not answer. He dug his fist down into the leaves and dirt, and when he raised his hand his fingers clutched something that glittered in the sun.

Gold! Gold! he cried. A twenty dollar gold piece!

The airship treasure at last! shouted Jerry.

Almost immediately after that Ned found three of the double eagles scattered about, and Jerry picked up five more close together. Then they hurried along the track, as indicated by the gold, and in a few minutes they came upon a bundle of papers. The wrappings were torn off, and then to the delighted gaze of the boys there were disclosed big bundles of bills, and the other securities that had been stolen from the bank vault. Jerry hastily counted them over.

Theres two hundred and six thousand dollars here, he announced.

Thats right, confirmed Ned. There was four thousand in gold taken. Lets see if we cant pick up some more.

They hurried back to the place where they had first found the glittering coins, and by dint of searching in the leaves managed to pick up one hundred and ten of the coins twenty-two hundred dollars. Then, as it was getting late, and they wanted to make secure the great treasure they had found, they went back to their craft.

As they came in view of it they saw Professor Snodgrass capering about like a boy.

Hurrah! Hurrah! he shouted at the sight of them. Ive found it!

Maybe he found the rest of the gold, suggested Ned.

Weve got most of the treasure! yelled Bob.

And Ive got my treasure my prize the flying frog! exclaimed the scientist. I just caught it! Oh, but I am the lucky man! Congratulate me, boys!

Look here! called Jerry, showing the big bundle of notes.

Ah, yes, very good, very good, spoke the professor calmly, but look at this, and, trembling with eagerness, he opened a specimen box and showed the boys a tiny, trembling green frog. I had rather have this than the airship treasure, said the professor. You ought to see it change color.

He agreed with the boys that it was useless to spend any more time hunting for the rest of the gold. It had evidently been scattered when the airship turned over, spilling out the other valuables, just before crashing into the trees.

The bank will be glad enough to get that back, and with the capture of the robbers, to pay you the reward, said the professor.

The airship treasure was carefully put aboard the Comet and then, rising high in the air, the nose of the craft was pointed toward the east, and she began her swift flight again over the pathless forest.

Well, something was doing on this trip, almost all the while, remarked Ned, a day or so later when they were nearing Harmolet.

Yes, it was one of the most exciting ones weve had, agreed Jerry.

But it was not the last voyage of our heroes, for they were destined for other adventures, which will be related in the next volume, to be entitled, The Motor Boys After a Fortune; Or The Hut on Snake Island.

Id like to know the secret of the cloth on the statue and how Noddys and Bills names came in the torch, said Bob.

They did learn a little later, at the trial of the robbers. It became necessary to have evidence about the queer bicycle tires, and Noddy, being a witness, explained how he had purchased a set exactly like those on the Silver Star from a supply left by Brown and Black.

It developed at the trial that Noddy had proposed to Bill the daring scheme of sailing around the head of the statue in the park, and lifting off a loose portion of the torch as a trophy. Noddy thought it would show his skill as an aviator, and that the people of Harmolet would be much surprised when they found the piece of bronze gone. It was this scheme he was proposing to his crony, when Jerry overheard him. Noddy had been in Harmolet before, and knew about the statue.

But Noddy had a slight accident in his machine after leaving the Colton grounds, and so could not start to circle the statue until after dark. Then the park was deserted and no one saw him. He had his trouble for his pains, and found it impossible to take away a piece of the bronze. He and Bill went too close, and tore one of their wing tips. Noddy did manage to toss his name and Bills into the hollow torch, a foolish and risky trick.

They escaped police detection, which Bill was afraid of, but gained none of the notoriety for which Noddy thirsted. Then the two went off on an auto trip that lasted until they were summoned to court.

Its no wonder though, after what happened, and remembering Noddys talk, that we suspected them for a time, said Jerry; and his chums agreed with him.

The trial of the two robbers, who went under various names, was short and summary. They had recovered from their accident when taken to court. The evidence against them, given by the boys, was so conclusive, that they did not offer a defense, and were quickly convicted.

It developed that the day they were in the little country town, where the boys first saw them, they were planning the robbery, and the mention of Harmolet so startled them that they betrayed a nervousness that drew the attention of our friends to them.

The boys had found nearly all the gold, for what was missing had been spent by the thieves. The evil doers were sent to prison for long terms.

Of course our heroes received the ten thousand dollars reward, and the thanks of the bank officials. The prize money was divided among them, Professor Snodgrass getting his share. Nor did the boys forget the friendly policeman, Mr. Thompson, but for whose aid they might not have gotten on the trail of the thieves.

Professor Snodgrass returned to the museum, the proud possessor of the flying frog, as well as many other specimens gathered on the trip. As for the boys, they had several more trips in the Comet and then prepared to return to school in the fall. Anxiously then, they awaited the next summer, when they planned to do great things.

And now, for the time being we will say good-bye to the motor boys, trusting to meet them soon again.

The End

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