The airplane boys among.., p.8
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       The Airplane Boys among the Clouds, p.8

           John Luther Langworthy
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  "What's the hurry?" remarked Frank, who seemed much more composed thanhis chum.

  "Why, think of the impudence of that man!" burst out Andy. "Takingadvantage of our being away, to prowl around our shop."

  "Now you're guessing, you know. He may be only intending to call onus. Anyhow, it's no use to think of trying to get there in time. Wejust couldn't do it. And besides, Larry and Elephant are there, and wedon't think they're fools, do we?" Frank remarked, as he again used theglasses.

  "There, didn't he go inside the shop?" demanded Andy, straining hiseyes to see what went on far below.

  "That's so; but Larry promptly walked him out again. They're talkingright now in front of the door, and the other two fellows fill thedoorway," Frank reported.

  "I just bet he'll pull the wool over their eyes, and get in again. Iknow he's a soft talker, and can blarney to beat the band. Oh! if wecould only shout loud enough to make them hear. Or if we had ourwigwag flags along with us," and Andy actually groaned with thesuspense.

  "Come, let up, old fellow," observed Frank. "What's the use worryinglike that? You know we fixed things, so even if he got in again he'dsee precious little to give him any satisfaction. There, Larry iswalking away from the door with him. Give him credit for being sharpenough to see through a grindstone that has a hole in it, will you?"

  "Bully for Larry; he's all to the good!" exclaimed the other. "Buttell me what's doing now, Frank."

  "The gentleman is holding out his hand, and Larry takes it. So Ireckon they didn't have any hard words," Frank answered, quickly.

  "And is he going away?" demanded Andy.

  "Seems like it. There, he stops and looks around, as if he might beinterested in our field, and arrangements for tryouts."

  "I hope he don't turn back again, and force his way in; you know hecould easy enough do that, Frank; because they're only three boys, andtwo of 'em hardly worth counting," Andy observed, anxiously.

  "Nothing doing," commented Frank. "He's started again for the road,where the car stands. Here, take another look at that car before itgoes off."

  "All right, Frank; but I'm all balled up about why you want me to dothat," replied Andy, suiting the action to the word.

  "You see which way the car heads, don't you?" asked his cousin.

  "Sure; toward town. That's as plain as the nose on my face," Andyanswered.

  "And from that you'd judge they'd been out for a spin, wouldn't you?"

  "Ask me something harder, won't you, Frank?" said Andy, scornfully.

  "But you forget that they expected to hand their car over to the man atthe garage to be entirely overhauled! That was to be their excuse forremaining over in Bloomsbury a couple of days!" Frank exploded.

  "Wow! that's so!" exclaimed the startled Andy. "And seems now theydidn't bother doing it. Something else gripped 'em to Bloomsbury.They concluded that they had right good need of their old car whilethey hung around here. Frank, it knocks me silly; but I honestly ownup I just can't get the hang of this thing."

  "Well, I'm almost in as bad a state as you are over it," replied theother, as he pressed his lips firmly together in thought. "But, Andy,that wasn't all I wanted you to notice, when I asked you to look at theway the car stood."

  "It wasn't, eh? Well, please keep right along, now that you've gotstarted, Frank. I'm shivering all over with excitement right now.Something seems to tell me we're in for a new set of adventures thatwill make all the others look tame."

  "If they came along that road, Andy, it would have been the easiestthing in the world for Mr. Marsh and his friend to have been up in theneighborhood of the old deserted shack half an hour ago!"

  Andy stared into his cousin's face, while an ashen hue spread over hisown usually cheery countenance.

  "Oh, my! then you believe--," he began when Frank interrupted him bysaying:

  "I don't believe anything; but the circumstance seemed a littlesuspicious to me, that's all. It's possible, and that's the extent ofwhat flashed into my mind. But we have no proof; and I'd hate to thinkthat Mr. Marsh could be guilty of such a nasty thing as trying toinjure us."

  "Shall we make a start now?" asked Andy, who seemed more or less in adaze.

  "I suppose we might as well. Look at the eagles dipping lower andlower. They've got some young ones in the nest, and if we went closerthere'd be a circus going on pretty quick. But we're not looking fortrouble today," Frank remarked.

  "No need to," replied the other, instantly; "because it's hunting us."

  They were very careful to make sure that no loose stones barred theway; for as the plateau was very short they must sail off into the airalmost immediately on starting the engine; and even a small turn atsuch a critical moment was apt to cause the biplane to swerve, andbring about a catastrophe.

  But the start was successfully accomplished. Frank always paid so muchattention to little things that he was not very apt to be caughtnapping.

  "Straight home?" asked Andy, once they were afloat, and heading downfrom the dizzy height.

  "Yes," replied his cousin. "I'm curious to hear what our friend Mr.Marsh could have had to say to Larry; and how the boy carried out hisjob of keeping strangers from nosing around inside the shop."

  "Just as well that we left when we did," remarked Andy; "for over inthe southwest I noticed some clouds that may bring a lot of wind along,and weather that no self-respecting aeroplane has any business to beout in."

  "Why, yes, I've seen the peak of Old Thunder Top buried in low hangingclouds many a time," Frank declared. "And it wouldn't be the nicestthing in the world for us to be caught up there, with a wild stormraging."

  "Ugh! deliver me from that experience," grunted Andy, turning his headto look back toward the peak they had just left, and which was alreadyfar astern, so rapidly did the little but powerful Kinkaid engine whirlthe biplane onward, when let out to its limit.

  Frank kept his eyes ahead; but he knew when his companion gazed towardthe dense woods away off to the right, where they had been fired at bythe unknown marksman.

  "Still harping on that bang, eh?" he observed.

  "Yes, and I won't have any peace till we find out who fired that shot,"answered the other, doggedly. "Just think how nasty it is to neverknow when you're going to be potted, like an old crow! It takes mostof the fun out of flying, that's what."

  "Well, wait a little, and perhaps we may learn something," Frank wenton; and before his companion could make any remark he suddenly switchedthe conversation by saying: "the boys are waving their hats to us, andI thought I got a faint yell; but the breeze is dead wrong for hearing.I'm tickled to death with the handsome way the machine carries herself;and that's a satisfaction worth while, eh?"

  So Andy stopped twisting around to look back, and confined hisattention to the scene in front. As they drew closer to the practicefield the shouts of the trio of lads near the shop came plainly totheir ears.

  Then Frank began circling, and cutting figure eights, wishing todiscover just what the biplane could do in that line. Perhaps he alsowas not averse to giving the admiring audience below something more togape at. But all the same, Frank took no great chances; he was toocautious and level-headed a boy to do that, unless the emergency calledfor it; and then his nerve was equal to any demand.

  When the biplane finally dropped down to the ground close by the hangarwhere it was to be housed, the three comrades were only too glad of achance to clutch hold, and assist to the best of their ability.

  "She's just a jim-dandy for going and turning, Frank!" exclaimed Larry.

  "Yes," exclaimed Elephant; "I used to think that little Bug was thelimit; but now I see I was away off. This biplane has got her number,all right. Why, there ain't anything you couldn't trust her to do,fellows."

  "W-w-with F-f-frank at the h-h-helm, you m-m-mean!" spluttered Nat.

  "Oh! that goes without saying, Nat," declared Elephant.<
br />
  "We was wondering whether you had another scrap with the two pirates upthere?" remarked Larry, pointing toward Old Thunder Top.

  "No, the eagles have become used to seeing an aeroplane by now. Theycame close to watch us, because they've got eaglets in the nest; butnever once swooped down to strike at us with talons, wings or beaks,"Frank replied.

  "We're going to tame 'em so's to shake hands with us," grinned Andy.

  "I was watching you through the old telescope Andy has here," observedLarry; "and which he says one of his ancestors used when he was captainof a sailing vessel more'n eighty years ago. She worked fine too,though a bit clumsy. And Frank, what under the sun did you make thatsudden upward slant for, when you was away off over the Powell woods?Whew! I thought you'd sure go clean over backwards!"

  The Bird boys exchanged glances, which of course aroused the curiosityof the observing Larry more than ever.

  "Here, none of that, now, fellows," he remarked. "There's something inthe wind, and you've just got to tell us all about it. Did the leverbreak or get away from your grip, Frank? There was a reason for thatjump, and I know it."

  "Sure there was," said Andy. "If you heard a gun go bang a few hundredfeet below, and then got the zip-zip of the bullet as it whipped pastnot five feet from your ears, perhaps you'd move the ascending leversome too, and take chances on getting out of that dangerous spot in abig hurry, eh?"

  Larry and the other two could not reply at once. The explanation givenby Andy fairly took their breath away, so that they could only stare,and gasp.

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