The airplane boys among.., p.23
The Airplane Boys among the Clouds,
John Luther Langworthy
THE BIRD BOYS' TRIUMPH
"Crawl in here!"
As he said this Frank Bird pushed his nearly exhausted cousin into anarrow crevice of the rock. It was a retreat which he had noticed ontheir first visit to the crown of Old Thunder Top. At that time Frankhad made up his mind that if ever he were marooned on that lonelymountain crest, he would seek temporary shelter there.
Little had he dreamed of what the future held for himself and Andy; andthat one day he would have good cause to remember with thanksgivingthat same split in the massive rock.
A surprise awaited them, and of an agreeable nature. Andy had notcrawled five feet inside the shelter than he gave utterance to a loudcry.
"Percy, is this you?" Frank heard him say, with positive relief in hisvoice.
"Yes, all that's left of me," came a reply. "We got banged awful hardon the rock, when my machine played that nasty trick on me. It was allI could do to crawl here; and Sandy had to help pull me. I reckon myleg's broke."
"Is Sandy there, too?" demanded Frank.
"Yes, and banged up some too; but mighty glad he didn't go kerflummickdown to them rocks when Percy foozled," grumbled another voice.
"Aw! let up on that, won't you?" the other snarled. "I tell you it wasall the fault of the blamed cranky engine; it went bad on me just atthat time the flaw struck us on the side. Keep a still tongue betweenyour teeth, Sandy Hollingshead."
That was Percy all over. Even in this grave crisis he would not admithaving made an error of judgment; but was determined to lay all theblame upon the faulty construction of the aeroplane.
But Frank was mighty glad that both boys had escaped the terrible fateto which they had seemed doomed at the time their machine smashed downon the plateau.
"We're all lucky, fellows," he said cheerily; "and since we've got tobunk together for some time, let's make the best of a bad bargain.Here, Andy, take this bit of candle, after I've lighted it, and holdover while I look to see if I can do anything to help Percy. We oughtto be able to tell whether his leg is broken or not, and perhapsrelieve his suffering some."
This they did, and after a close examination both declared that beyonda severe wrench and some bruises there was nothing the matter. Anyordinary lad would have felt grateful for this intelligence. Percyonly growled the more, declaring that if his leg was not broken it feltworse than such a condition would bring.
"What can we do, Frank?" asked Andy, apprehensively, as he listened tothe roar of the storm without. "Must we stay up here all night?"
"I'm afraid that will be the result of our foolishness," remarked theother, gravely. "And we ought to be thankful that our punishment isn'tany worse."
The summer storm began to die out after an hour; but by then theafternoon had drawn near an end; so that it was folly to even think ofmaking any effort looking toward their escape from the rocky crest ofOld Thunder Top.
Frank crawled out of the friendly crevice, and after a short timereturned, to bring good news.
"So far as I can see the biplane isn't badly damaged," he said to Andy.
"Hey! you ain't going to desert us up here, I hope?" cried Percy, insudden alarm; which remark proved how much he was depending on Frankafter all to get them out of the bad scrape.
"Not at all," came the reply. "Nobody can go down till morning. Butif the machine can be coaxed to work decently then, I can carry thewhole bunch, one at a time, to the ground."
This prospect of being brought home by a victorious rival wasapparently not very pleasant to Percy's proud soul. He grumbled for abit, and then said:
"Huh! guess you'll have to drop me in our front yard then, 'cause Iwon't be able to crawl home. I don't want to be seen in this shape,Frank Bird, remember that!"
"Sure, take you wherever you say, Percy. But we'll cross that bridgewhen we come to it. Perhaps we may have to get down by means of a ropeafter all," the good-natured young aviator replied.
As night came on the clouds rolled away from the summit of themountain, and Frank could see the light of the town far below. He knewonly too well that many anxious hearts would be suffering because ofthe dreadful uncertainty that hung over the fate of the quartette ofventuresome aeroplane boys.
"I'm going to find some way to let them know we're all safe," he said,finally.
"But how?" demanded Andy. "If it was daylight we could stand out in arow, and they'd see us through the glasses. Or we could use the wigwagcode, which some of the Boy Scouts would translate. But in the dark--"
"That's just what occurred to me," said Frank, quickly. "Listen, Andy.Strange to say, our little searchlight on the biplane escaped beingbroken when we landed so roughly. I mean to use that to signal with."
At that his cousin gave vent to an exclamation of delight.
"Great! It sure takes you to think up these things, Frank!" he cried.
Accordingly Frank secured the acetyline lamp and having lighted thesame, stood out where his actions could surely be seen by some of theanxious watchers in Bloomsbury. Then he started to wave the lightslowly but methodically, so as to induce some sort of reply.
After about ten minutes he called out to Andy and the others:
"One of the Scouts is starting to answer with a lantern. And now totry and make him understand that the whole four of us are up here safe,and will stay until morning."
Even the groaning Percy managed to crawl to the mouth of the crevice towatch operations. Frank persisted until he knew that his message hadbeen understood, for the answer had come "O. K."
"Now we can take things more comfortably, because we know they won't beworrying about us," he said.
But that was a night never to be forgotten. Nobody obtained muchsleep, for what with the novelty of their situation, the hard rockunderneath, and the almost constant complaints of Percy, who was reallyin great pain, they watched the stars in their wonderful processiontoward the west until finally dawn began to appear.
As soon as it was fairly light Frank got busy. He examined his biplanein the most thorough manner; for it would never do to have a slip, oncehe quitted the safety of the plateau. Rather than take chances hewould have waited until help had arrived at the bottom of the cliff,with a rope which could be hauled up by means of a cord; or carried upthe chipped footholds by an agile lad like Larry.
But he found that his machine could be readily put in apple-piecondition. The sun was up before things were ready. Percy declined tobe the first to accompany him, for some reason or other, so Andy went.
The trip to Bloomsbury was made without a single hitch; and great wasthe rejoicing when they landed on the commons. But remembering hispromise Frank did not linger. He succeeded in transporting Sandy thenext trip; and that worthy made haste to lose himself in the crowdwithout even thanking his rescuer.
Last of all Percy was carried to his home. Frank could not land in theCarberry yard on account of the trees; but he did close by; and as theinjured boy's mother, as well as a score of others, were eagerlywaiting, there would be little difficulty in getting Percy indoors.
"I suppose I ought to thank you, Frank, for this," said the injured boywith a half surly look on his face, which, however, may have beencaused by his pain.
"Don't mention it, Percy," smiled Frank. "I'm sure you would have donethe same for me. Hope you get out soon again; and sorry you lost yourbiplane. Better luck next time," and with that he turned away.
Having broken away from the crowds on the commons, the two Bird boys,accompanied by their friends, Larry, Elephant and Stuttering Nat, onceagain sought the privacy of their dear old workshop. Here they weresprawled, taking it as easy as possible, and resting their achingmuscles, as they went over the stirring events of the accident againand again, when into the shop strode Mr. Marsh and his friend, Mr.Longley.
The former gentleman at once approached Frank, who, understanding thatthe seal of mystery that had so long cloaked his actions was about tobe removed, stood up.
"Certainly, sir," Frank answered, accepting the hand that wasoutstretched; "as to accepting any offer, that is another matterentirely. But please go on."
Andy, Larry and the other two listened eagerly; for they believed thatthe Bird boys were about to be given as great a compliment as anyaviator could hope for.
"I represent the company that makes the best aeroplane in the country.I am empowered to be constantly on the watch for just such daring yetcautious aviators as you two have proven yourselves. That was why Icame here to Bloomsbury, because we knew something of what you had beendoing. And I want to say right here that personally I firmly believethose glowing reports have been in no way exaggerated; for you bothhave the making of admirable aviators in you, after you have been inthe company of the chief of them all for a few weeks. And I hope youwon't decide too hastily, and turn an offer down without dueconsideration. Are you open to an engagement for a year to come withmy company, and prove to the public what they claim for their make ofmachine?"
Frank shook his head, though with a pleased smile; for who would nothave felt a thrill of pride at such a remarkable evidence of confidencein his abilities. This gentleman knew every famous flier of the day;and that he should rate the Bird boys as among those who were "called"was a compliment worth having.
"I'm afraid we'll have to disappoint you, Mr. Marsh," he said. "In thefirst place our fathers would not want us to become public birdmen; andin the second we expect to attend school for several years yet beforebranching out. No, please forget it. I believe in the merits of theaeroplane I've been using. The new features are wonderful; and as longas I continue to fly I expect to stick by that make. But neither of usare professionals. And that will have to end it."
Which it of course did. Mr. Marsh, much against his will, wascompelled to leave Bloomsbury without having signed the Bird boys forhis enterprising company; but at least he had the satisfaction ofknowing that no rival concern could succeed any better than he had.
Just as Frank had said, Percy's injuries were not serious enough tokeep him shut up more than a few days. Many times did Frank and Andyhave to narrate the entire story of that hazardous feat connected withthe race. They never made themselves out heroes; but most people,knowing their modesty, could read between the lines, and understoodthat Percy Carberry and Sandy owed much to the Bird boys.
Of course such a backset could not long deter Percy from flying. Hisrich and indulgent mother would supply the cash for another biplane indue season. But it was to be hoped that his experiences might teachhim more caution.
Frank himself was resolved never again to be tempted into risking hislife unnecessarily simply because a reckless rival threatened to dubhim a coward.
As the Bird boys were thoroughly imbued with the aviator spirit itmight easily be set down as positive that as time went on they wouldcontinue to study the science of flying, and take advantage of everyopportunity that presented itself for indulging in their favorite sport.
And we shall certainly hope to meet them again in the near future, whenpossibly other of their stirring adventures call for a new volumeconcerning the Bird boys.
The Airplane Boys among the Clouds by John Luther Langworthy / Young Adult have rating 3.8 out of 5 / Based on15 votes