The Motor Boys on the Wing: or, Seeking the Airship Treasureñêà÷àòü êíèãó áåñïëàòíî
“You don’t mean to say you can make out faces at that distance,” exclaimed Bob incredulously. “Let me have a peep.”
“I can’t see their faces,” declared Ned, “but I’m sure it’s them, for it’s their machine, and they’re so touchy that they wouldn’t let any one else run it. It’s them sure.”
“I believe you,” commented Jerry. “Those are the two mysterious men we met at the hotel.”
“I wonder where they’re going?” mused Bob, as he took another look. “They’re flying high for amateurs.”
“They’ll reach Harmolet if they keep on in that direction long enough,” declared Ned. “It may be that they’re going to the meet at Colton.”
“It’s too soon for that,” was Jerry’s opinion. “But it certainly is odd that we should see those fellows again. Let me have another look, Bob.”
It was difficult now, even with the powerful glasses, to discern the aeroplane, for it was almost hidden in the haze of the upper regions. In a few seconds more it had entirely disappeared, and Jerry putting up the field glasses, started the auto.
The boys discussed the curious sight, speculating on the destination of Brown and Black, and then branched off on matters connected with their own motorship. By this time they had reached Cresville, and stopped at a garage, the owner of which promised to send out a powerful car, with ropes and pulleys, to haul Noddy from the ditch.
“Well, that’s over,” remarked Jerry, as they turned toward the home of the tall lad, where the auto was kept. “We’ve had plenty of excitement.”
“Enough for one day,” added Ned.
“But it isn’t over yet,” said Bob quickly.
“Why not?” demanded his chums together.
“There comes Andy Rush, and he acts as though he had something to tell us,” went on the stout lad.
Standing on the sidewalk, just ahead of them, and waving his arms about like those of a miniature windmill, was a small lad, bearing every evidence of great nervousness. He was jumping up and down, now running forward a few steps, and then coming to a halt.
As soon as the motor boys were within hailing distance he called to them:
“I say – stop – wait a minute – great excitement – maybe somebody killed – mine blown up perhaps – all the gold gone – maybe someone wants to buy your motorship – special message – don’t know what’s in it – fortune for you – maybe – here is it – saw you coming – ran out to stop you – I have it – open it quick – whoop! up in the air – down again – start over – here you are!” and with that Andy Rush, for it was indeed he, passed over to Jerry a yellow envelope – a telegram.
“Are you sure that’s all, Andy?” asked the tall lad gravely.
“Sure – that’s all – agent just gave it to me – I was at the station when it came in – messenger boys all out – I said I’d take it to you – he gave me a dime – bought an ice cream soda – maybe it’s bad news – I don’t know – whoop!”
Andy was wiggling about like an uneasy snake, and he only had one foot on the ground at a time.
Jerry looked at the telegram, saw that it was addressed to himself, and tore it open.
“Are you sure you’ve got all that out of your system?” inquired Ned of Andy.
“All of what?” asked the small, excited boy.
“All that talk. Because if you keep any in you might explode,” went on the merchant’s son.
“Better get another ice cream soda and cool off,” advised Bob, handing Andy a dime.
“I will – thanks – no bad news I hope – mine all safe – motorship not busted – I’ll cool down soon – go to the store – drug store – half a dozen flavors – I always take vanilla – lots of ice cream – here I go – whoop!” and down the street Andy started on the run.
“Thank goodness he’s gone,” murmured Ned with a sigh of relief. “He gets on my nerves. But what’s the news, Jerry?”
“Professor Snodgrass will arrive to-morrow,” replied the tall lad folding up the message. “He’s on the track of some new kind of bug or beast I suppose. He wants us to meet him at the station.”
“Good!” cried Bob. “Now we’ll have some more fun, and go off after a mosquito that plays the piano, or something like that, I suppose. Three cheers for Professor Snodgrass!”
“Say, you’re getting almost as bad as Andy Rush,” commented Jerry, as he once more started the machine, and steered it into the driveway of his home.
“HOLD THE TRAIN!”
“What time will the professor get here?” asked Ned, as he and Bob sat on the broad porch of Mrs. Hopkins’s house.
“On the afternoon train, he says,” replied Jerry.
“And what sort of a bug is he after now?” demanded Bob.
“He doesn’t say. Not that it makes much difference. All is grist that comes to his mill, and if he can’t get an ant with pink legs, he’ll take a June bug with purple wings. But be on hand to meet him, fellows, and we’ll go down to the station together to-morrow afternoon.”
“Say, if he doesn’t get in until then we’ll have time in the morning to make a flight in the Comet,” suggested Bob.
“That’s right. Then we can see what we have to do, to get it in shape for the Colton meet,” added Ned.
“I’m with you,” declared the tall lad. “Let’s go on out now and have a look at it. And say – you fellows stay to supper at my house, and we’ll go all over the Comet this evening.”
“Good idea,” commented Bob, with a sigh of satisfaction. He knew of old the skill of the Hopkins cook.
“Very good – especially the supper part; eh, Chunky?” put in Ned with a laugh. “I’ll telephone home, and tell mother that I’m going to stay.”
Bob did the same thing, and after the meal, which Bob declared was the best he ever ate (though he was always saying that) the boys went out to the aeroplane shed which was in a large field, owned by Mrs. Hopkins, and some distance from her house.
“Now Jerry, be careful,” the widow cautioned them as they left. “You remember once you had trouble at the shed, when Noddy Nixon bound Sud Snuffles, the watchman, and took the aeroplane away. Look out for bad characters there. I wish it was nearer the house – especially when night comes on.”
“Oh, there’ll be no danger from Noddy Nixon to-night mother,” declared Jerry with a laugh. “Noddy is stuck in the mud too fast to get out in a hurry,” and he told of the bully’s plight. “But we’ll be on the lookout. We don’t keep Sud on guard any more.” For following his unscrupulous theft of the motorship, the bully had been more careful how he interfered with the property of our heroes, and there was no necessity of a watchman at the shed.
The boys spent some time going over the motorship. They had not used it in the past two weeks, on account of bad weather; but they found it in good shape, and, after a few adjustments and a tightening of the guy wires, it was ready for service.
“We’ll take a flight in the morning,” decided Jerry, as he and his chums left the shed, making sure that the doors were securely fastened.
“And maybe we’ll meet that other aeroplane – the Silver Star,” suggested Ned.
“Not much likelihood of that,” declared Bob. “Those fellows are up to some game, I think.”
“What game?” demanded Jerry quickly.
“Oh, I don’t know,” was the somewhat uncertain reply of the stout lad, “only I have my suspicions of them.”
“So have I,” admitted Ned, “only I don’t know what I’m suspicious of.”
“Well, I’m going to get to bed,” announced the tall lad with a yawn. “Be on hand early fellows, and we’ll go off on a little flight.”
Jerry and Ned were on hand in good time at the aeroplane shed the next morning. They wheeled the craft out into the broad, level starting place, and proceeded to tighten the few wires they had overlooked the night before.
As has been told in previous books of this series, the Comet was a combined dirigible balloon and aeroplane. By means of a powerful gas, forced into a container above the aeroplane proper, it could ascend as a balloon, or it could scud along over the ground on bicycle wheels and, when sufficient momentum had been obtained it could rise by means of the tilted forward lifting planes, and maintain itself as long as it was in motion.
“What’s the matter with Bob, I wonder?” remarked Jerry as he went in the engine room, to look at the motor.
“Oh, probably he’s eating his second breakfast,” replied Ned, who was inspecting the gas machine.
“She isn’t making vapor very fast,” spoke Jerry, as he looked at the dial of the containing tank, and noted how much of the lifting gas was in storage.
“No, it needs a new valve,” decided Ned. “But we can go up as an aeroplane, and by the time we get up a mile or two there’ll be gas enough.”
The Comet was a roomy craft. There was a good-sized dining room, plenty of sleeping apartments, a storeroom, a large motor compartment, a neat little galley or kitchen, where Bob spent much of his time, and a living room, where they all gathered during the day to read, talk or make observations as they scudded through space, high above the earth.
“I wish Bob would come, if he’s going to get here,” went on Jerry. “He is always more or less late. We won’t have time to get anywhere before we have to be back again to meet the professor.”
“There he comes now,” exclaimed Ned, as he caught sight of a stocky figure hurrying across the field. “And by Jove, if he isn’t swallowing the last of his breakfast on the run! He must have overslept.”
“What’s the matter, Chunky?” asked Jerry, as his chum approached, panting from his unusual speed.
“One of our rabbits got loose – had to chase it – might eat up the neighbors’ fruit trees – never saw such a rabbit – thought I had it in the cage half a dozen times – but it got out – that’s what made me late.”
“But you stopped to get your breakfast,” observed Ned, as he saw traces of egg on Bob’s fat good-natured face.
“Sure I did! What do you think I am? Going off on a flight without something to eat! I had a good breakfast, and I brought along a package of grub – I was afraid you fellows would forget it.”
“Oh, Chunky!” cried Jerry with a hopeless laugh. “Will you ever get over your appetite?”
“I certainly hope not,” declared Bob earnestly.
He stowed away in a locker the food he had brought, and then helped his chums in getting the Comet ready for a flight. This was soon done. The sharp nose of the craft was pointed down the long smooth starting slope, and the motor started. The big propellers whirred around like the blades of an electric fan, and the motorship quivered from end to end. The engine increased its speed under the skilful handling of Jerry Hopkins, and then, with a rush, the trim air machine glided forward.
Faster and faster it forged ahead, the motor thundering with its rapid explosions. Just as Jerry was about to tilt the lifting planes, there came a faint hail from back near the shed.
“Hold on – wait – give me a ride – I’ve got some news!”
“It’s Andy Rush!” exclaimed Ned.
“We can’t stop now!” shouted Jerry. “Here we go!”
He yanked the plane lever toward him. Up went the nose of the Comet, and the next instant she was sailing gracefully through the air, mounting higher and higher.
“Works better than ever,” was Bob’s opinion.
“Yes, I wish we had time to go to the lake, and try the hydroplanes,” said Jerry, “but we haven’t. I rather like landing on the water and starting from the surface. It’s smoother than a land start.”
The hydroplanes, as I related in a previous volume, were a new feature of the Comet, and worked well.
It was no novelty to our heroes to sail about through the air, and as soon as they were up sufficiently high they settled back to enjoy themselves. The gas machine had by this time generated enough vapor, so that they could float lazily along if they wished, or even hang in space without moving, save as the wind blew them.
“Let’s look around and see if we can sight the Silver Star,” proposed Ned, as he took down from the rack a small but powerful telescope.
“Oh, you’ll have your trouble for your pains,” declared Jerry, and so it proved. The strange biplane containing the two mysterious men was not in sight. In fact no other air craft was visible, and, after sailing around for several hours, and having their lunch about three miles above the earth, our heroes descended, and stored their craft in the shed once more.
“Wonder what Andy wanted?” mused Jerry.
“We’ll soon know,” said Bob. “Here he comes now.” The excitable lad was observed hurrying toward the three chums.
“Why didn’t you wait?” he demanded. “I had something to tell you – great news – he’ll smash all to pieces – whoop! up in the air – down again – race you motor boys – whoop!”
“He? Who are you talking about?” demanded Ned.
“Noddy Nixon. He’s going to get an aeroplane and race you fellows – big excitement – going to some balloon meet – whoop!” and Andy hopped up and down on one foot.
“Hump! Noddy must be up to some more of his tricks!” exclaimed Jerry. “Well, if he bothers us as he did once before he’ll get what’s coming to him.”
“I shouldn’t think he’d want to risk any more air flights,” ventured Ned, “especially when he can hardly run his auto.”
“Well, we’ll see what happens,” went on the tall chum. “Whew!” he whistled as he looked at his watch. “We haven’t more than time to get down to the station before the professor’s train will be in. We don’t want to disappoint him. Sprint for it, fellows, and we’ll get to my house and go down in the auto. Come along Andy, if you like.”
“Sure I’ll go – anything for excitement – I can run – let me steer – blow up a tire – whoop!” and the excitable lad was off on a run with the older boys.
They reached the station a little before the train pulled in, and waited on the platform while a crowd of passengers alighted. Among them was a little man, rather slight in build, wearing a pair of very strong glasses. He had on a broad-brimmed soft hat, and around his shoulders and hanging down his back were a number of insect specimen boxes, held by straps or cords, while in one hand he carried a large butterfly net.
“There’s Professor Snodgrass!” exclaimed Jerry. “Now to hear what new quest he is on.”
“He looks the same as when he caught the flying-singing fish,” remarked Ned.
“He never changes – he’s like a mummy,” declared Bob.
The little scientist caught sight of his three young friends, and gaily waved his hand, smiling a greeting. He advanced to meet them, passing close to the panting locomotive. As he did so there came two shrill blasts of the air whistle, indicating to the engineer that he was ready to start.
At that instant Professor Snodgrass happened to glance beneath the big driving wheels. In a moment he was all excitement. His face lighted up, off came his big hat, and, rapidly divesting himself of his many boxes he dropped on his knees close beside the rails.
“What’s the matter?” cried Jerry.
“He’ll be killed!” yelled Bob.
“Look out!” shouted Ned.
“The man has been taken with a fit! Pull him away from the engine!” begged the station master.
The professor heeded none of the cries. Raising himself slightly, he waved his hand to the engineer who, after pulling the throttle partly open, was leaning from the cab window. The ponderous locomotive was moving slowly.
“Stop the train! Stop it!” commanded the scientist. “Stop it or you’ll kill him! Stop it I say!” and he fairly shook his fist at the astonished engineer.
A CURIOUS RACE
“What’s the matter?”
“Is anybody killed?”
“Oh, there’s some one under the locomotive! A child!”
“I’m going to faint! I know I’m going to faint!” exclaimed a very fat lady, making her voice heard above the others who had given utterance to the excited expressions. “Catch me, some one!”
But as no one seemed capable of sustaining her weight, the fat lady concluded not to faint. Meanwhile there was considerable excitement, for the professor continued to kneel beside the locomotive, making signals to the engineer to bring the ponderous machine to a stop.
And the engineer did. With a face that went white under its coating of oil and grime he slapped on the air brakes with a suddenness that brought the train up with a smashing bang. Then, as the released air hissed through the valves, the driver leaned from the cab window and hoarsely asked:
“How’d he get under there? I didn’t see him. Did I run over him?”
“Not quite, but almost!” exclaimed Professor Snodgrass, as he reached under the great driving wheels and lifted something out. “It was a narrow escape. If you had run over this bug you would have killed it sure, and it’s worth at least seven dollars for my collection.”
“Bug!” fairly yelled the engineer. “Do you mean to say you made all that fuss, and stopped the train on account of a bug?”
“Certainly,” replied the scientist coolly. “It is a very rare specimen of a red beetle, seldom seen in this part of the country. I saw it on the track just as you were about to run over it. Fortunately I stopped you in time,” and he carefully put the beetle in one of his specimen boxes, and looked around for the boys.
“Stopped me in time! I should say you did!” gasped the now angry engineer. “I slapped on the emergency air when I heard you yelling that way. I thought it was a kid under the machine. And all for a bug – a bug! I guess that ain’t the only bug around here, either,” and he looked significantly at the professor who, however, was calmly unconscious of the glance. “Can I start now?” sarcastically enquired the engineer, “or is there more live stock under my driving wheels? Hey?”
“No more – unfortunately,” replied the professor, with great good nature, after a glance under the locomotive, to make certain. “I wish there was, but I will have to be content with this one. Now boys, I’m glad to see you,” and he turned to greet the three chums, who up to this time had been too surprised at the sudden and odd turn of events to speak to their friend.
“We’re glad to see you!” exclaimed Jerry, holding out his hand.
“And I you!” cried the scientist. “I always have good luck when I’m with you boys, and it has started early this time.”
“So we see,” observed Ned.
“You haven’t changed any since our last trip,” remarked Bob. “You’re still after specimens.”
“And I will be, as long as I can see, and handle my butterfly net,” declared Mr. Snodgrass. “Ah, there is our little excitable friend, Andy Rush. Glad to see you, Andy.”
“How are you Mr. Snodgrass? My – a bug on the rail – almost run over – great excitement – woman nearly fainted – slam on the breaks – blow up the boiler – hold down the safety valve – sand the tracks – get the bug – whoop!”
“Yes – er – ah – um!” murmured the professor, looking over the top of his spectacles at Andy. “You haven’t changed either.”
“We’ve got the auto all ready for you,” explained Jerry, as he led the way to the waiting car. “You came in good season, Professor Snodgrass, as we’re about to start off on another little air-trip.”
“Not over the ocean I hope this time,” exclaimed the scientist, “for the specimen I am now after is not to be found at sea. So if you’re going over the water I’m afraid I can’t be with you.”
“What are you after this trip?” asked Ned.
“A green flying frog,” explained the professor gravely. “The museum by which I am employed needs one of these rare specimens, and I have engaged to spend my entire vacation looking for it. They are only to be found inland, however, and, so far as is known, such frogs only exist in Java. But I have made a study of the creature, and I see no reason why it should not be discovered in this country, especially farther west, in some of the great forests.
“This frog has a sort of membrane between its legs, like a flying squirrel, and in addition to that feature it has the power of changing its color like the chameleon. Ordinarily it is light green on top, and white on the under parts, but it may become orange-hued, or even pink or brown. I have great hopes of finding one, and if I do, I will be richly repaid for my trouble, and our museum will have a great prize.”
“Well, I don’t know as we’re going any place where there are flying frogs,” said Jerry, “but we are going to an aviation meet, and after that we have made no plans. We’d be glad to have you go with us.”
“I’ll certainly go,” promised the professor, as they got in the auto, and started toward Jerry’s house, where the little scientist was to make a visit. “Do you suppose you’ll head for the middle west?”
“Very likely,” said Bob. “We haven’t been out there in some time, and it might be well to make a trip to see how our gold mine is coming on.”
“Oh, I guess it’s going all right,” came from Jerry, as he speeded up the car. “We get our dividends regularly.”
The professor was busy arranging his specimen boxes about him in the tonneau of the car, where he sat with Bob and Andy Rush. The long-handled butterfly net was thrust down behind the lap-robe rail, and the cloth part fluttered in the air like a flag of distress, causing on the part of pedestrians several curious glances at the auto. But the professor little cared for that.
“Would you mind slackening speed somewhat,” begged the scientist as they neared Jerry’s house.
“Why?” inquired the tall youth.
“Well, I can’t tell whether or not we are passing any valuable insects on the bushes,” explained the professor, as he peered through his powerful spectacles at the shrubbery that lined the roadway. “I must lose no chances of getting specimens,” he innocently explained, “so I thought if you could run more slowly I might sight a rare bug or worm: Ha – there! Stop if you please, Jerry!”ñêà÷àòü êíèãó áåñïëàòíî
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