The motor rangers cloud.., p.10
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       The Motor Rangers' Cloud Cruiser, p.10

          
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  CHAPTER X.

  “DING-DONG” AND A GUN.

  All this time Ding-dong Bell had been making history in a fashion allhis own. The lad had been below, pottering about his beloved engines,at the time that the others had gone aboard the schooner, andconsequently was quite unaware of what had occurred till he emerged ondeck and found that the Motor Rangers’ craft was deserted.

  “Guess they’ve gone aboard the schooner,” thought the lad, and waspreparing to follow, when a sailor, stationed at the latter vessel’smain shrouds, to which the Motor Rangers’ boat was made fast, stoppedhim.

  “Stay where you are, young feller,” he ordered crisply.

  It was at this moment that Ding-dong’s sharp eyes noticed a littlegroup, consisting of the captain, the mate, and several of the sailors,standing aft by the cabin companionway.

  “I want to join my friends,” exclaimed Ding-dong, forgetting to stutterin his righteous indignation at the fellow’s tone and manner.

  “Guess your friends ain’t receiving company, except by permission ofCaptain Lawless,” was the reply given, with an impudent grin.

  As the man spoke, he made a motion as if to grab Ding-dong, who wasstanding with one leg on board the _Nomad_ and the other on theschooner’s bulwarks.

  But Ding-dong was quite as quick in his actions as were his two chums.Moreover, he was a muscular lad, and his thews and sinews had beentoughened to a steel-like fineness by his many adventures.

  Consequently, as the sailor rushed at him, the lad merely caught theman’s outstretched arm, and, by a trick that he had learned from Nat,gave it a sudden twist.

  “Ouch!” grunted the fellow, and, without making any more fuss, hewrithed almost double and fell in a heap. But as he did so, CaptainLawless spied what was going forward. In the haste with which the plansto capture the Motor Rangers and their friends had been made, the factof Ding-dong Bell’s existence had been temporarily forgotten by therascally skipper and his mate. This sudden appearance, then, of one ofthe Motor Rangers, alive and intensely active, was very disconcertingto them.

  “Confound you, boy; where did you spring from?” roared Lawless, as hedashed at Ding-dong like an angry bull.

  “Fer-fer-f-from under a go-go-gooseberry bush,” sputtered Ding-dong,giving an agile backward jump, which brought him upon the deck of theMotor Rangers’ vessel.

  At the same instant came a thunderous sound from the cabin doorbeneath, which, as we know, the imprisoned party were pounding andrapping.

  The sound told Ding-dong the whole story as plainly as if it had beenput into words.

  “What have you done with my friends?” he demanded.

  “Never you mind. Just throw up your hands and come on board thisschooner or it will be the worse for you.”

  “No, thank you,” parried Ding-dong, his speech quite distinct in hisindignation and excitement, “I guess I know when I’m well off.”

  “You brat, I don’t propose to be thwarted by such a whipper-snapper asyou. Come on board at once, I say!”

  “Not to-day, thank you. Call around to-morrow,” scoffed Ding-dong.

  As he spoke, the lad rapidly made his way forward over the turtle backof the _Nomad_.

  A sudden idea had come to him. On this turtle back was situated therapid-firing gun which was a part of the craft’s equipment. Joe hadbeen polishing it that morning, the cover was off and it looked readyfor instant action.

  With cat-like activity and swiftness, Ding-dong made for the implementof destruction. Reaching it, he took his stand on the small platform onwhich it stood.

  Before the astonished Captain Lawless could scramble after the lad,Ding-dong had swung the gun on its swivel, and the captain foundhimself gazing straight into its formidable looking muzzle.

  Ding-dong had his hand on the firing lever, and the rascally skipperwent white as ashes as for an instant he thought the lad was going todischarge it.

  “Don’t! Don’t shoot!” he begged abjectly.

  “Then you get right back where you belong,” ordered Ding-dong.

  Just then he noticed that several of the crew of the schooner wereabout to follow their captain on board.

  “You fellows, too,” ordered the boy in a sharp, shrill voice, whichnevertheless rang with determination.

  “I’m ver-ver-very nervous,” he went on, “and at any mum-mum-moment I’mlikely to give this lever a twist.”

  “I’ll get even with you for this, my hearty,” muttered the nonplussedCaptain Lawless, but nevertheless he scrambled back after his crew asDing-dong gave his crisp command.

  “Now, then,” cried the boy in a determined tone, “you let my friendsout of that cabin, or I’ll have to indulge in some target practice withyour schooner as the bull’s-eye.”

  “Not much you won’t!” roared out Durkee, the mate.

  As he spoke, the fellow whipped out a pistol and aimed it at Ding-dong.

  The lad depressed the breech of the gun and gave the lever a twist.Instantly a sputter of bullets flew forth. They lodged in theschooner’s spars and rigging, sending a shower of splinters all about.

  At the same instant, the roar of the blunderbuss sounded from thecabin, and a fat sailor, who had been sitting on the door, bounded intothe air. He was not hurt, but imagined that a mine had exploded beneathhim.

  As the adventurers rushed out of the cabin, they came face to face witha scene in which Ding-dong Bell was the dominating factor. The moraleffect of the machine gun’s discharge had been tremendous. Palefacedand demoralized, Captain Lawless and his crew fled forward, where theyhuddled in a mass like so many frightened sheep.

  “Say, professor!” hailed Lawless, “call that young gad-fly off. He’sdone a hundred dollars’ worth of harm to my ship already. Call him off,do you hear?”

  “It would serve you right if your schooner was sunk,” retorted theprofessor. “What did you mean by imprisoning us in that cabin?”

  “It was just a joke,” pleaded Lawless, whose face was pallid. He paidno attention to the promptings of his mate, who was urging him, in anundertone, to “stand up to the lubbers.”

  “We’ll give in, professor,” he went on in a shaky tone. “You’re welcometo take all your baggage and go, without us making any more trouble.

  “How can we depend on you?” asked the professor.

  “I’ll give you my word,” said the captain.

  “A whole lot of dependence we could place on that,” scoffed Mr. Tubbs.

  “Tell you what,” spoke Nat; “let’s make him lock all his sailors up inthe forecastle. We can guard them, and then, in case of treachery,we’ll only have two to deal with.”

  The professor delivered this ultimatum. Captain Lawless readily agreedto comply with it. The crew, sullen and muttering, was ordered below,and the forecastle hatch battened down. Joe was set to guard it, whilethe others helped in the work of transporting the baggage on board theMotor Rangers’ craft.

  Of course Ding-dong Bell, who had really displayed the qualities of acapable general, came in for much warm congratulation. He took hishonors modestly.

  “I dud-dud-didn’t know it was lur-lur-loaded,” he protested, and, as amatter of fact, the lad had been as much astonished as any one at thetremendous fusillade that followed his manipulation of themachine-gun’s firing lever.

  At length all the baggage was on board. During its transportation,Captain Lawless and his mate had looked sullenly on, but offered no aidor interference. They were beaten men, and they knew it. Once theprofessor’s report of their conduct was circulated, there was not acivilized port into which they could take the schooner without beingarrested and brought to book for their misdeeds.

  But they watched the Motor Rangers board their own craft and cast offthe lines without show of any emotion on their stolid countenances.

  “You can release your crew now,” said Nat, when Joe had clambered onboard. As he spoke he rang the bell for the “Go ahead.”

  The _Nomad_ began to forge through the water. By the time CaptainLawless had reassembled his crew, the schooner was not more than aspeck to those on the _Nomad_.

  “Well, that was a queer adventure,” said Nat, as they talked it overthat evening. “What a foolish man that skipper was to ruin his careerfor the sake of spite!”

  “Yes, he will be a marked man now,” spoke the professor. “In these daysof wireless telegraphy and other improved means of communication, thereis not a spot in the Seven Seas where he can hide his head withoutbeing overtaken by the consequences of his folly and cowardice. I thinkhe was led into this thing by that mate of his, Durkee. He is a verybad man.”

  “Well, I guess they won’t bother us any more,” struck in Joe; “in fact,my thoughts from now on are centered on the lost city and that cloudcruiser of yours, professor.”

  The professor smiled at the youth’s enthusiasm. Then Mr. Tubbs spoke.

  “I reckon you folks have forgotten something,” he said. “That chapLawless has overhauled the professor’s papers. Don’t you think it’slikely he may try to locate the lost city, too? It’s a stake worthplaying for.”

  “Wow!” exclaimed Joe. “If that’s the case, look out for squalls.”

 
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