The airplane boys among.., p.1
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       The Airplane Boys among the Clouds, p.1
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           John Luther Langworthy
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The Airplane Boys among the Clouds


  E-text prepared by Al Haines

  THE AIRPLANE BOYS AMONG THE CLOUDS

  or,

  Young Aviators in a Wreck

  by

  JOHN LUTHER LANGWORTHY

  M. A. Donohue & CompanyChicago ------ New York1912

  CONTENTS

  Chapter

  I. TRYING OUT THE NEW BIPLANE II. A RESCUER FROM THE SKIES III. THE MEN IN THE TOURING CAR IV. SUSPICION V. FIGURING IT ALL OUT VI. AN UNKNOWN ENEMY VII. SEEN FROM THE EAGLES' EYRIE VIII. MYSTERIOUS MR. MARSH AT IT AGAIN IX. STARTLING NEWS OVER THE WIRE X. IN PARTNERSHIP WITH THE CHIEF XI. A NEW ALARM XII. SANDY DROPS SOMETHING XIII. THE CHALLENGE XIV. SOMETHING DOING XV. THE AWAKENING XVI. THE CHIEF MEETS AN OLD FRIEND XVII. GALLANT ANDY XVIII. AT THE FOOT OF THE LIBERTY POLE XIX. THE MYSTERY STILL UNSOLVED XX. THE RIVAL AVIATORS XXI. THE RACE WITH THE STORM XXII. A TERRIBLE MOMENT ON OLD THUNDER TOP XXIII. THE BIRD BOYS' TRIUMPH--CONCLUSION

  THE AIRPLANE BOYS AMONG THE CLOUDS

  or, Young Aviators in a Wreck

  CHAPTER I

  TRYING OUT THE NEW BIPLANE

  "I tell you, Elephant, it's the Bird boys, and nobody else!"

  "But they had a monoplane last summer, Larry; and you can see foryourself it's a biplane out yonder over the lake. So that's why Ithought it must be Percy Carberry and his crony, Sandy Hollingshead."

  "Shucks! stir up your think-box, Elephant. Get a move on your mind,and look back. Don't you remember Percy lost his old biplane when hetook that trip down to South America, and had some trouble with therevolutionists in Colombia?"

  "Say, now, that's right. You mean the time Andy Bird found hislong-lost father, whose balloon left him a prisoner in such a queerway? Yes, but tell me, where would Frank and Andy Bird get a biplanenow?"

  "Oh! rats, what ails you, Elephant? Didn't they make the other; anddon't you know they've been busy all winter, in that shop Old ColonelWhympers fitted up for them out in the field? And not even such bullygood friends as you and me were allowed to take a peep inside. That'swhat they were working on--building this new biplane, after sending forthe parts."

  "Don't it just shine like fun in the sunlight, though?" declared thelittle "runt," who had been nicknamed "Elephant" by his chums, possiblyin a spirit of boyish humor, and which name had clung to him ever since.

  "It sure does look like a spider-like craft," Larry Geohegan went on."Just see that white-headed eagle up in the blue sky. I bet you he'slooking down, and wondering what sort of thing it is."

  "Huh! don't you fool yourself there, Larry," chuckled the other. "Thatwise old chap knows all about aeroplanes. He's had experience, he has.You forget that last summer, when the race was on between the Bird boysand Percy, to see who could land on the summit of Old Thunder-Topfirst, from an aeroplane, those same eagles had a nest up there, andtackled the boys for a warm session."

  The two lads had come to a halt on the road about half a mile from theborders of Bloomsbury where they lived. From where they stood, holdingtheir fishing rods, and quite a decent catch of finny prizes, theycould look out over the beautiful surface of Lake Sunrise, which wasover fifteen miles long, and in places as much as three or four wide.

  "Mebbe you can tell me, Larry," the smaller boy presently said, "justwhy Frank keeps sailing around over the lake that way? Suppose he'staking pictures from his biplane?"

  "That might be, Elephant," Larry answered, slowly and thoughtfully."Seems to me I did hear somebody talking about the State wanting to geta map of the lake, with all its many coves and points. But ain't itmore dangerous for aviators hanging over water than the shore?"

  "That depends," remarked the other boy, whose real name was FennimoreCooper Small, and who was rather apt to have an exalted idea of his ownimportance, as do so many undersized people. "If a fellow dropped outof his machine when he was even fifty feet high, he'd be apt to breakhis neck, or anyhow a leg, if he struck on the land; but in the waterhe might have a show."

  "Look at 'em circling round and round, would you?" Larry went on, hiscuriosity climbing toward the fever stage. "I'd give a fit now to knowwhat Frank's got in that wise old noddle of his. He ain't the one todo things for nothing, take it from me, Elephant."

  "Hi! step out of the way, Larry, if you don't want to get run over!"exclaimed the other, suddenly gripping his companion's sleeve. "Herecomes a car, and the driver's tooting his old bazoo to beat the band."

  "They're slowing up, don't you see," observed Larry, who had beenstartled by the other's abrupt warning. "No need to scare a fellerlike that, Elephant."

  "Well, that machine don't belong around here, anyway; and I guessthey're tourists doing the lake road course. Lots of 'em come this wayjust for the view, which they say can't be beat," the other went on, ina low tone; for the touring car had drawn very close by now.

  Two men sat in it, one apparently the chauffeur, and the otheroccupying the commodious seat in the tonneau. The latter was akeen-faced man, with a peculiar eye, that seemed to sparkle and glow;and Larry immediately became aware that he was experiencing a queersensation akin to a chill, when he returned the gaze of this individual.

  Still, the other could look very pleasant when he chose to smile, aswas the case immediately after the car came to a halt within five feetof where the two Bloomsbury high school boys stood.

  "Looks like you had had pretty good luck, boys," he remarked, smoothly.

  "Pretty middlin'," Elephant said, indifferently, as though this were aneveryday occurrence with him; when to tell the truth, he and Larry hadnot done so well all season as on this particular day.

  "Guess you know where the old fishing hole lies," laughed the stranger,pleasantly. "Quite a collection too--black bass, perch, 'slickers,' aswe used to call the pickerel, and even some big fat sunfish. Many ahappy hour have I spent just as you've been doing. And I'll neverforget how fine those same fish tasted after I'd cleaned them myselffor the frying-pan."

  "That's what we do, sir," replied Larry, now beginning to think thestranger rather a nice spoken man.

  "My friend and myself were just wondering what aviator you've got uphere," continued the gentleman, as he cast a quick glance out over thelake. "You see, our attention was attracted toward that circlingbiplane as we came along. I happen to know some of the most famousfliers myself; but I never heard that any one of them was hiding uphere this summer, trying fancy stunts. Look at that dip, Longley.That was a corker, now, I'm telling you. Do you know who that fellowis, my boy; the one handling the levers of that sparkling biplane outyonder?"

  Larry and Elephant glanced at each other and grinned. Then the littlefellow threw out his chest, after a pompous way he had, and observed:

  "Sure we do, mister. That's a chum of ours. His name is Frank Bird,and he knows more about aeroplanes in a minute than the rest of us doin a year. His cousin, Andy, is along with him. They stick togetherthrough thick and thin."

  "Bird!" remarked the other, watching the agile movements of the biplaneeagerly, as Larry could not but note. "A very suggestive name for aflier, too."

  "That's right," burst out Larry. "Frank always said he was just forcedto take to being an aeronaut. He says it's just as natural for birdsto take to the air, as it is for ducks to swim in the water."

  "Bird?" the other went on, turning to his companion. "Seems to me,Longley, there used to be a professor by that name in one of ourcolleges, who went daft on the subject of flying."

  "You're right, Marsh; and he lost his life down at Panama; tried tocross the isthmus in a dirigible, and was never heard from again."

  "Oh! but you're wrong, sir!" exclaimed Elephant, eagerly. "He wa
ssaved through those two boys in their monoplane, and is alive and wellin Bloomsbury right now. It's a great story, and all to the good forthe Bird boys."

  "I'd like to hear it some time or other," replied the gentleman calledMr. Marsh by his companion who was serving as chauffeur. "But it seemsto me these young fellows must be unusually bright boys to do whatthey're doing right now."

  "That's easy for Frank and Andy Bird, sir," declared Larry. "Why,they've got a shop that they keep under lock and key, where they spendmost of their time when they ain't flying. That biplane is what theymade last winter--got some of the parts, and did the rest themselves.And it would be just like Frank to have invented some clever stuntthat's going to just revolutionize flying."

  Again a quick look passed between the two tourists, but the boys simplyconsidered that it implied wonder at such youthful ingenuity.

  "They must be smart boys, surely," remarked Mr. Marsh, again turninghis head to look out over the lake. "And you say they even have ashop, where they work out these wonderful new ideas? Perhaps if westayed over in Bloomsbury, Longley, they might be willing to let ushave a little peep in that place?"

  Elephant promptly shook his head in the negative.

  "I wouldn't build too much on that, if I was you, sir," he said,"because, you see, we're chums of the Bird boys; and if they wouldn'tlet us once inside that shop all winter they ain't going to invitestrangers there."

  "Well, hardly," laughed the other. "How's that, Longley? Quiteinteresting to run across a couple of boy inventors up this way. Musttell Wright about it the next time we see him, and Curtiss too.They'll want to look them up perhaps, and coax them to join the newaeroplane trust that's forming. But what makes that biplane shine so?It glitters in the sunlight like silver."

  "That's just what me and Elephant were talking about when you camealong, mister," remarked Larry.

  "And we just came to the conclusion that it must be something Frank'sbeen experimenting on. Mebbe he's made his machine out of aluminum; orelse he's got a new Kinkaid engine that has a lot of brass about it.Gee! look at 'em now, Larry! My heart jumped up in my throat becausethey just skimmed the water, and I was dead sure it meant a ducking forthe boys."

  "They certainly seem to know how to handle an aeroplane as well as anyone I have ever seen," declared Mr. Marsh; who apparently could nottear his eyes away from the thrilling spectacle of the swooping aircraft, that soared aloft, only to again dart daringly down toward thesurface of the almost quiet lake.

  "I bet you it's a game of conquer they're playing," suggested Elephant."Each one seeing how close to touching the water he can come. Say,Larry, d'ye suppose Percy Carberry has got his new biplane yet? He'sbeen boasting about it for weeks, and what he meant to do when shearrived."

  "I saw him this morning, and he said he was still waiting; but that thething had been shipped," replied the other. "Never saw such an unluckydog as Percy is; and to tell the honest truth, Elephant, 'twouldn'tsurprise me one little bit if the old train got smashed up on the way,and the new flying machine along with it."

  "Wonder if he's watching the stunts them fellers are doing out there,and saying all sorts of mean things about 'em?" suggested the smallerboy, grinning.

  "Shouldn't wonder," Larry chirped. "He keeps tab on all Frank doesthese days. You know they've had to keep a man on duty every nightaround that workshop, because of Percy. He ain't to be trusted, andwould just as soon put a match to the place as eat his dinner--if hethought he could do it on the sly."

  Mr. Marsh caught the eye of his companion, and instantly a quick signalseemed to pass between them, unnoticed by either of the two boys, whowere keeping their attention glued on the fluttering aeroplane aquarter of a mile away, and which had again mounted to quite a littleheight by means of boring upward in circles.

  "There they go again!" exclaimed Elephant, excitedly, as the flyingmachine once more tilted its planes, and started down toward the waterlike a huge bird intending to alight.

  "Oh! look at it, would you?" cried Larry, almost as much worked up ashis smaller companion. "This time there's going to be something doing!I bet you Frank wants to just snatch a floating piece of wood off thewater as he skims along, just like them Wild West riders do onhorseback, when they throw their hats down. Why! Something musta-busted--they dropped splash on the lake; and look at the old biplanesitting right there like a great big gull! Ain't that too bad, though;I'm sorry for Frank and Andy!"

  But Mr. Marsh, bending his head close to the ear of the man who sat inthe front of the touring car, laughed softly, and remarked with an airof triumph:

  "What did I tell you, Longley? Now say it was a false scent, will you?It isn't often I make a mistake, and already I believe we've struckgreat luck in coming up here."

 
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