The Motor Boys on the Wing: or, Seeking the Airship Treasureñêà÷àòü êíèãó áåñïëàòíî
“Hi there! Get away from that machine!”
“Clear out, you fellows! What are you doing there?” interrupted two angry voices, and our heroes looked up to see the two men – Brown and Black – running towards them across the enclosed field.
A SUDDEN DISAPPEARANCE
Startled, the boys moved back somewhat from the aeroplane, and waited, not without a little apprehension, the arrival of the two strange men. The strangers increased their speed, and came up on the run, their faces showing the evident anger they felt.
“What – what are you doing at our machine?” panted Black, the taller of the twain.
“Just looking at it,” replied Jerry calmly. “We haven’t done any damage. We’re aviators ourselves.”
“We’ve made lots of flights,” put in Ned.
“And we know enough not to monkey with another man’s apparatus,” added Bob. “We were only looking at it.”
“What right had you to come in here?” demanded Mr. Brown, in surly tones.
“Yes, who let you in?” added his companion.
“The hotel clerk,” answered Jerry, for the key of the gate in his hand was rather incriminating evidence. “He didn’t mean any harm, but we were very much interested when we heard that you had come in a biplane, and we wanted to see what type it was. We saw you were busy talking, so we didn’t bother you. We just came out here to have a look.”
“It was mighty fresh of you!” growled Mr. Black.
“Yes, and we’ll report that hotel clerk, too,” added Mr. Brown. “He had no business to give you the key.”
“Oh, it – it wasn’t altogether his fault,” said Bob, hoping that their friend at the desk would not be blamed.
“We know whose fault it was, all right,” snarled Mr. Black. “Now you fellows clear out of here. We arranged, when we put up at the hotel, that we shouldn’t be annoyed by snooping crowds, and now – ”
“We’re not a crowd,” remarked Ned with a smile.
“None of your back-talk!” exclaimed the shorter of the aeroplanists. “We know our own business best. Now make tracks out of here, quick – give me that key!” and he fairly snatched it from Jerry’s hand. The tall lad seemed about to say something, but he thought better of it, and held his tongue.
“Go on – move!” ordered Mr. Black, as the boys showed no inclination to walk away. “Get a hustle on you!”
By this time Mr. Black had caught sight of the opened tool box. A flash of rage seemed to pass over his face.
“Who opened that box?” he snarled.
“I did,” replied Jerry calmly.
“Did you – did you take anything out?” demanded the man, striding toward our hero.
“I did not,” was the quiet rejoinder.
“Did you dare unlock it?” demanded Mr. Brown.
“It was unlocked, and the cover was partly raised when we got here,” went on Jerry. “We wanted to see what kind of tools you carried, so I opened it. We meant no harm, and I trust we did none. We are sorry you take our harmless investigation in this spirit.”
“Are you sure the box was open?” persisted Mr.
“It was,” declared Jerry, his face flushing at this implied doubt of his word.
“I – I guess I unlocked it, and forgot to close it,” put in Mr. Brown.
“Huh! Mighty careless of you – Jake – I mean James,” said Mr. Black, hastily correcting himself. “Now you fellows clear out,” he went on. “We’s going to make a flight, and we don’t want to be bothered.”
Silently Jerry and his chums left the enclosure. Mr. Black followed, and locked the gate after them. Our heroes returned to the hotel lobby.
“Say, they’re regular fire-eaters,” declared Ned.
“Yes, they get on their ears mighty quick,” said Jerry.
They found the hotel clerk quite disturbed.
“Say, did they make much of a fuss?” he asked anxiously. “They came for the key of the gate directly after you boys left, and I tried to put them off. But they wouldn’t have it, and then I told them some aeroplanists were out looking at their machine. Whew! They ran out as though the sheriff was after them. Did they raise much of a row?”
“Oh, not an awful lot,” said Ned, not wanting to make the good-natured clerk worry any more than was necessary. “I guess it’ll blow over.”
“I hope so,” murmured the hotel man.
The queer aviators did not seem disposed to make any further trouble, for presently a stable man appeared with the gate key, saying that the two men were about to leave in their airship.
“They hadn’t time to come in an’ bring the key,” he explained. “I’m goin’ out an’ see ’em fly.”
The news soon spread around through the hotel that an airship was going up, and a crowd rushed out to see the start. The high fence of the enclosure prevented the ground-maneuvers from being viewed, but presently there was a clatter as the motor started, and soon a bird-like shape arose above the fence.
“There they go!” cried the throng, and our heroes and the others saw the two men seated in their machine mounting rapidly upward.
“I hope we’ve seen the last of ’em – they’re so unpleasant,” remarked Jerry. But he and his chums were destined to meet the two strange men again, and under queer circumstances.
Discussing their encounter with Messrs. Brown and Black, talking of the aeroplane Silver Star, and planning what they would do when they took their own motorship Comet to the coming aviation meet, Jerry and his chums were soon speeding back toward Cresville in their auto.
“Maybe we’ll see Brown and Black at the Colton doings, fellows,” suggested Bob. “They seemed to be on the alert as soon as we mentioned Harmolet.”
“Well, they may be there,” agreed Jerry. “They certainly have a good machine of its class, though I believe ours would beat it in a race.”
“I’m sure of it,” declared Ned, who took great pride in the Comet. “But I can’t get over the queer tools those fellows carried.”
“Me neither,” went on Jerry. “It looked to be a lot of useless weight.”
This gave a new turn to the conversation, and one thing led to another, so that almost before our friends realized it they were near Cresville.
As they approached a turn in the road, they heard behind them frantic tooting of an auto horn, and the loud throbbing of a cut-out muffler.
“Some one’s in a hurry,” observed Jerry, steering over to one side.
“Maybe it’s a doctor on an emergency case,” suggested Bob.
“Doctor nothing!” retorted Ned, after a look to the rear. “It’s Noddy Nixon, and he’s coming on at a terrific clip. Look out Jerry! He’ll do something spiteful just for fun. Keep over.”
“I’m over as far as I dare go,” replied the tall lad. “I don’t want to slide into the ditch,” for the road at this point was bordered by deep marshy gutters on either side. It had rained that morning, and the hollows of the road were filled with muddy water.
On came Noddy, his horn wildly tooting, and his cut-out muffler thundering like a battery of small guns. His machine was increasing its speed every moment.
“He’d better look out on the turn,” said Jerry to his chums, as he slowed up.
With a whizz and a roar the machine of the bully passed the one containing our heroes. This was at a point on the road where there was a big puddle. Into it splashed the big-tired wheels of Noddy’s car, and instantly a shower of dirty water was sprayed all over our friends, drenching them, and soiling their trim car.
“Wow!” yelled Noddy in derision as he passed. “Wow! Look out for me! I’m a terror!”
“You’re a sneaking coward! That’s what you are!” shouted Ned, wiping the muddy drops from his face.
“By Jinks! Look at my clothes!” wailed Bob.
“The sneak!” burst out Jerry. “I’ll fix him for that!”
“Take after him!” urged Ned. “We can beat his car all to pieces! Overtake him, and we’ll haul him out and rub his nose in the mud! The cad!”
“I’ll catch him all right!” declared Jerry grimly. “We’ll get even with him for this, all right.”
It was the work of but an instant to turn on more power, and the speedy car of our motor boys shot ahead down the road after the fast-disappearing vehicle of the bully.
“There! He made the turn!” cried Ned.
“And on two wheels,” murmured Jerry. “He’s taking chances.”
On thundered the pursuing auto. Jerry slowed up at the turn, but even then he took it at such speed that the machine skidded unpleasantly.
Once more they swung out into a straight stretch, and as they did so there came a simultaneous cry of surprise from the three boys.
For there before them, off to one side, and stuck deep in the muddy road-side ditch, was the car of Noddy Nixon. But the bully was not in it, nor was he in sight. He had suddenly disappeared.
NODDY NIXON’S PLIGHT
“What can have happened to him?” asked Ned.
“That’s his auto; isn’t it?” demanded Bob.
“Surely,” answered Jerry. “No mistaking that; but Noddy isn’t in it – that is unless he was knocked unconscious and has slipped under the seat.”
“Let’s look,” proposed Ned. Jerry had brought their own car to a stop, and as the three lads alighted, peering anxiously toward the stalled machine for a sight of the bully, they were startled by hearing a groan of distress.
“What’s that?” cried Bob.
“It sounded like – him!” declared Jerry.
“Oh – Oh fellows – help me – Oh I’m – I’m stuck!” exclaimed a woe-begone voice.
Simultaneously our friends turned their gaze in the direction of the cry. It came from a slimy black pool of mud and water, off to the left of the Nixon car, which was in the slough over the hubs. The sight that met the gaze of Jerry and his chums was enough to excite their pity, even though the victim was their worst enemy.
Noddy Nixon was standing in the mud puddle which came considerably over his waist, and from the condition of his face, it was evident that he had been flung in head first, and had, after a struggle righted himself. He was covered, streaked, spotted and speckled with the black, slimy mud. It dripped from his shoulders, dripped from his extended hands, and even oozed from his chin in a slimy stream.
For a moment our heroes gazed at him without speaking, then Jerry uttered an expression combining surprise, dismay and pity.
“Well, what do you think of that?”
“He certainly is all in,” was Ned’s opinion.
“Good and proper,” murmured Bob.
Probably the hardest thing Noddy Nixon ever had to do was to appeal for help to the three boys whom he had, many times in the past, used so meanly. Yet there was no way out of it.
“Oh – oh, fellows,” he faltered. “See if you can’t help me out of here. I – I’m stuck.”
“How’d you get there?” asked Jerry for want of something better to inquire about.
“I – I stopped my car too suddenly,” replied the bully trying to wipe some of the mud from his face with a still muddier hand. “It skidded, and I put on the brakes hard, and I was flung out.”
“You didn’t pick out a very good place to land in,” grimly remarked Bob.
“Guess he didn’t have time,” suggested Ned.
“Oh, aren’t you going to help me out?” begged Noddy.
“Do you mean help you out, or your car?” asked Jerry. “Why can’t you wade over to solid ground? Then we’ll help you pull out your car. That’s stuck pretty bad too.”
“No, I – I can’t wade out,” replied Noddy helplessly. “I’m in a sort of muck, or quicksand. Everytime I try to take a step I go in deeper. I need a board or a fence rail, or – or something to help me. Oh, please, fellows – I know I’ve been mean to you – but forgive me and help me out!”
“It’s about time you got wise to the fact that you did us some mean turns,” spoke Ned. “How about splashing mud on us a little while ago?”
“I’m sorry I did that.”
“Yes, you are now, but the next time you get the chance you’d do the same thing,” declared Jerry.
“No, honest I won’t!” promised Noddy, and he was in earnest – at least for the time being.
“Well, you don’t deserve to have us help you out, but we can’t see you in this plight without doing something,” went on Jerry. “Try once more to pull yourself out. I don’t fancy getting all covered with mud.”
Noddy tried, but it was of no use. The more he struggled to free himself, the deeper he sank, and he was evidently very much alarmed – so much so that he began to blubber.
“Oh, now, stop bellowing, and we’ll help you,” cried Ned, much disgusted by the cowardice of the bully. “Come on, fellows, get some fence rails, and we’ll see what we can do.”
The rails were brought, and extended to Noddy in a sort of criss-cross platform to support him. In placing them our friends got in the mud over their shoes, but there was no help for it. Presently Noddy was able to bear part of his weight on the rails, and then, by a vigorous effort, he managed to pull his legs loose from the grip of the sticky mud. He crawled out on the firm ground, a worse looking sight than Jerry and his chums had seen for many a day.
“Look at me!” gasped Noddy in dismay, as he glanced down at his legs. “Look at me – Oh! – Oh! It’s – it’s – awful!”
“Better look for a clean puddle of water and roll in it,” advised Ned, trying not to smile.
“If you had a lot of newspapers you could wipe some of it off,” added Bob.
“Or some rags from your auto,” put in Jerry. This mention of the car recalled to Noddy the plight of his machine. He looked over to where it was firmly imbedded in the slough, and said:
“Will you help me get it out, fellows?”
“It’s in pretty deep,” observed Jerry, going closer and taking a critical observation.
“We’ll have to get some wide boards and put them under the wheels,” was Ned’s opinion.
“Maybe we could pull it out with our car, if we had a long rope,” suggested Bob.
“That’s the very thing!” exclaimed Jerry. “I guess we can pull it out, Noddy – but next time, don’t go so fast – especially around a curve.”
“I’ll not,” promised the miserable bully.
“And don’t steer out of your way to splash mud on people from whom you may want help afterward,” suggested Ned significantly.
“I – I won’t,” declared Noddy. “Oh, fellows if you’ll only pull my car out for me I’ll pay you well. My father said if I had any more accidents I couldn’t run it again this summer. I’ll do anything you say if you’ll pull it out.”
“We don’t want any of your money,” half growled Jerry. “There’s one thing about it though, you’ve got to wade in there yourself to attach the rope; that is if we can get one.”
“I’ve got a long rope in the car!” exclaimed Noddy eagerly. “I always carry one, for I was stuck in the sand once. I’ll go in and get it, and fasten it to my car. Then I’ll bring the end out here, and you can attach it to your machine.”
“Yes, I guess you’d better do the wading,” said Ned, for to get to Noddy’s stalled car it would be necessary for some one to go in the muck up to his knees, and none of our heroes relished this. “You can’t be much muddier than you are Noddy,” finished the merchant’s son.
“I’ll do it,” promised the bully eagerly, and having gotten rid of some of the muck on his face and hands he stepped into the miniature swamp, and was soon attaching the rope to the rear of his car. Then he brought the free end out to firm ground where Jerry received it. Then, having turned his auto around, the tall lad made the cable fast to the rear of his machine.
“Come on now, fellows, get in our car to hold it down when the strain comes,” suggested Bob to his chums.
“All ready?” asked Ned of Noddy, a little later.
“Yes,” was the faltering answer.
Jerry threw in the gear, and let the clutch slip into place. The car of our heroes went forward a little way, and then began the strain on the rope. The strands straightened out, there was a creaking sound, but Noddy’s auto did not budge.
“Try more power, Jerry,” suggested Ned.
The tall lad turned on all the gasolene he dared. The rear wheels of his auto spun uselessly around in the wet dirt of the highway.
“Wow! Stop!” cried Bob. “You’ll rip off our tires.”
“I guess we can’t stir you, Noddy,” called Jerry, as he shut off the power.
“Oh, try! Try once more!” begged the bully.
Jerry did not relish his task much, but he did try. Once more the rope became taut. There was a great strain on it. Once more the wheels of the pulling auto spun around. Still Jerry kept the power on.
Noddy’s car quivered in the mud that held it fast. It moved not an inch, however.
“Go on! Go on!” yelled the bully encouragingly.
“You’ll ruin our tires!” cried Ned.
Jerry, with a grim look on his face turned on the least bit more gasolene. Then, with a crack like that of a revolver the rope snapped, and one end of it flew dangerously close over the heads of our heroes in their car. For when a rope on which there is a great strain breaks suddenly, it is a dangerous missile.
“Look out!” yelled Ned, as he saw the end of the cable hurling toward himself and his chums. They ducked just in time. The other end flopped down in the mud behind Noddy’s car.
The bully looked disconsolate.
“Have to try it again, I guess,” he suggested.
“Not much!” declared Jerry decisively.
“Wha – what?” gasped Noddy.
“No more tries for us,” went on the tall lad. “You’ve stuck too fast for us to pull you out, Noddy. What you need is some pulleys and a derrick. We can’t risk breaking our car, and ripping off the tires. You’ll have to stay there until you can get some one else to pull you out.”
Jerry detached the broken rope from his car, and got in again.
“You – you aren’t going away and leave me; are you?” faltered Noddy.
“You guessed it,” declared Bob.
“Oh, please pull me out!” pleaded the bully.
“We can’t,” spoke Jerry, not unkindly. “It’s impossible, Noddy. That mud has too firm a hold on your wheels. The best we can do is to stop at the nearest garage and tell them about you.”
The bully begged and pleaded by turns, and offered the boys a large sum of money; but though our heroes would have helped him, in spite of his former meanness, it was out of the question. They could not afford to damage their own car, and risk getting hurt by a breaking rope.
“Sorry to leave you, but we must,” called Jerry, as he sent the auto slowly ahead. They turned toward Cresville, leaving Noddy standing on the brink of the muck-hole, gazing disconsolately at his stalled auto, while the mud and water dripped from him at several points, and formed little puddles at his feet.
A SIGHT OF THE BIPLANE
“Say, things haven’t done a thing but happen to us today,” remarked Bob, when they were nearing the broad, smooth highway that led directly into Cresville.
“That’s right,” agreed Ned. “Meeting those two queer men, having them nearly take our heads off because we looked at their aeroplane, and then this mix-up with Noddy.”
“Noddy got his all right,” observed Jerry grimly. “I don’t believe, even if we’d caught him, and given him a well-deserved licking, that he’d be any worse off.”
“It was retributive justice with a vengeance,” was Ned’s further opinion. “But, speaking of queer happenings, what do you make of Brown and Black?”
“Can’t make much of them,” spoke Bob.
“I’d like to know what those tools were,” came from Jerry. “They were the queerest combination I ever saw on an aeroplane. We carry a lot on our Comet; but nothing like those, and we’ve got twice as much complicated machinery as those fellows have.”
“Sure,” agreed Ned. “Well, we’ll soon be out in the motorship again if we conclude to go to the aviation meet; and maybe they’ll have some new tools on exhibition there.”
“We’ll certainly go,” agreed Jerry. “Automobiling is all right if you’ve never sailed in the air, but once you have skimmed along above the clouds – ”
“You want to keep at it,” finished Bob. “But say, we mustn’t forget to stop, and send help out to Noddy. He’s human, even if he has done us many a mean turn.”
“That’s so. We’ll stop at Mason’s garage and tell them,” suggested Jerry. “I think – ”
But what he was thinking about he never mentioned, for at that moment he and his chums were aware of a curious throbbing and humming sound in the air, far above their heads. With one accord they gazed upward, and the sight they saw caused Jerry suddenly to shut off the power, and bring the auto to a stop.
“An aeroplane!” exclaimed Ned.
“A biplane,” supplied Bob.
“And going fast, too!” added Jerry. “Say, but they’re eating up the air-space all right!”
“I wonder if that can be Mr. Jackson?” ventured Ned.
“He’s far enough from here,” declared Jerry, referring to the millionaire whom they had so thrillingly rescued from his disabled dirigible balloon over the ocean.
“Whoever it is, he knows how to handle the craft all right,” declared Ned. “Look at that spiral dip he’s making.”
As he spoke the air machine came down a little way in a corkscrew curve.
“Wait!” exclaimed Jerry impetuously as he reached back in the tonneau and took from a pocket in the side a pair of powerful field glasses. “We’ll see what these show,” he went on, as he focused them on the distant aeroplane.
No sooner had he gotten the aircraft in his range of vision than he uttered a startled cry.
“What’s the matter?” demanded Ned.
“Some one you know?” asked Bob.
“I don’t know that we have the honor of their acquaintance,” spoke Jerry slowly, “but if that machine isn’t the Silver Star I’ll buy you fellows ice cream sodas – that’s all! Here, Ned, have a look.”
Jerry passed his chum the glasses, and no sooner had the merchant’s son gotten a good view than he exclaimed:
“You’re right! It’s Brown and Black sure enough.”ñêà÷àòü êíèãó áåñïëàòíî
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