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Title: The Boy Scouts of the Air in Indian Land
Author: Stuart, Gordon
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Boy Scouts of the Air in Indian Land" ***

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                 The Boy Scouts of the Air in Indian Land

                       Boy Scouts of the Air Books

                            BY GORDON STUART

                       Illustrated by Norman P. Hall


    The Reilly & Britton Co.
    Chicago

    COPYRIGHT, 1912
    By THE REILLY & BRITTON CO.

    THE BOY SCOUTS OF THE AIR IN INDIAN LAND



[Illustration: They crept, wriggled and crawled toward the machine. The
air was stifling and they could hardly breathe, but, groping in the
smoke and darkness, Carl finally got his hands on the truck.]



CONTENTS


I A RIDE AND A RUNAWAY

II THE DESTROYER

III THE LEGEND OF THE THUNDER BIRD

IV AN AVIATOR APPEARS

V AT THE B. P. RANCH

VI WINNING AN AEROPLANE

VII IN THE MOUNTAINS

VIII THE STORM

IX A STRANGE MEETING

X THE PATROL BECOMES A FACT

XI A SURPRISE FOR MR. PHIPPS

XII THE THUNDER BIRD ATTACKS

XIII AT WORK ON THE AEROPLANE

XIV THE FIRE

XV REPAIRING THE PLANE

XVI THE FIRST FLIGHT

XVII IN SIGHT OF THE ENEMY

XVIII SUCCESS AT LAST

XIX JUMPING A PEAK



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS


They crept, wriggled and crawled toward the machine. The air was
stifling and they could hardly breathe, but, groping in the smoke and
darkness, Carl finally got his hands on the truck.

"Now, scouts," said Mr. Hawke, amused at their excited exclamations,
"we'll put this together, and I'll show you the model of the 'Thunder
Bird Aeroplane.'"

Carl stopped short. In front of him stood a tall, stately, blanketed
Indian. His whole face was hideously painted in various colors, and his
countenance was set and expressionless.

The struggle promised to be a long and hard one if Carl were left to
fight it alone. But this the other boys did not propose to allow, and
they immediately began to cross on the rope ladder.



Boy Scouts of the Air In Indian Land



CHAPTER I

A RIDE AND A RUNAWAY


"There she comes," exclaimed a boy, one of a crowd awaiting the evening
train in the hot little box of a depot at Silver City, New Mexico. A
speck of yellow had suddenly appeared far down the light, worn rails to
the east. Fifty loungers moved forward. The evening train was coming at
last.

"If mother don't look out," added the speaker, who was a tall, slender
young chap with strikingly black hair and eyes, "she'll miss the train
an' the folks that are coming. Mother seems to like to be late--always."

"Don't get excited, Jerry," broke in a second boy, this one with big
shoulders, a square determined face with a winning smile, and, his chief
characteristic, a big mop of yellow hair. "I think Ike and your mother
are coming right now."

While the headlight was yet only a growing star on the far-away plain, a
military hack, drawn by two nervous horses in charge of a colored
soldier in uniform, dashed up to the now lively depot in a cloud of
dust.

Those awaiting the arrival of the train made a fair picture of the
people living in that part of the half-desert Southwest. There were
miners, soldiers, sheepmen, freighters, loafers not easily classified,
and the usual mixture of Mexicans and civilized Indians. The arrival of
the train meant little to any of these except that it brought the daily
mail, strangers in the shape of prospectors, or drummers who might spend
a few dollars, and nearly always some one going to the Fort.

All soldiers know Fort Bayard. It isn't a real fort any more, although a
few cannon sit idly about the big white stockade and new brick
buildings, but the tired and sick soldier in the Philippines, in
California or in New York, knows that here, when all else fails, he may
be sent to find rest and new health. Uncle Sam has selected the old post
as the best place in the United States to put new life into his ailing
soldiers.

That's why, the Indian and his troubles having disappeared, and
consequently the need for armed militia, that old Fort Bayard has been
dismantled, new buildings put up, and the old structures repaired and
whitewashed and put in charge of a medical staff.

Here, at the time of this story, Captain H. Wilmot Crawford was in
charge of the Post, he and his under officers and the medical staff
living apart with their families in their own homes. This made the Post
quite a settlement. The Fort was six miles from Silver City. Every foot
of the intervening military road climbed upward to the big plateau, high
and dry, and looking in all directions toward the still higher mountain
ranges. The Post was an ideal home for the officers detailed there.

The lady in the hack that had reached the station just as the train
arrived was Mrs. Wilmot Crawford, wife of the Post commandant. She was
also the mother of the first boy speaker, Gerald Crawford, commonly
known as Jerry.

The interest of Mrs. Crawford and the two boys in the approaching train
was due to the fact that on it Mrs. Windham of Cleveland and her son
Fred were passengers. Mrs. Windham was coming to visit Mrs. Crawford,
her old schoolgirl friend, and, as her son was with her, it meant a boy
to join the Post quartette of kids. That his coming was eagerly
anticipated by the boys at the station was indicated by the actions of
the latter.

"I s'pose Windham won't think this is much of a place," remarked a third
boy as Jerry Crawford sprang to attend on his mother. "After living in a
big city like Cleveland, I reckon he'll think this is rotten," went on
the boy. "I hope he ain't stuck up, Dunk. It wouldn't seem just right to
take a fall out of Jerry's guest."

"Say," answered the boy addressed as Dunk, grabbing the speaker by the
arm. Then Dunk stopped, thrust his hands deep in his pockets and said,
with emphasis, "If I were you, Fly, I wouldn't fret about our new friend
liking us or the place. He ain't visitin' to our houses. It's up to
Jerry to entertain him an' keep him right. But, as far as that goes, he
may take to it like that New York kid who's over to Brett's ranch.
Graystock just took one look at a cow pony and the mountains and gave it
out cold he didn't care whether he ever went back to New York. And New
York's a heap sight bigger than Cleveland."

"I ain't looking for trouble," protested the boy addressed as Fly. "But
I hope he's all right. The summer's pretty long down here, and they
ain't many of us. So, what there are of us ought to be right if we're
goin' to pull together."

Little did any of the boys think when they heard that a Fred Windham was
to arrive from Cleveland, what a whirl of events was to arrive with him!
Mrs. Windham's doctors had advised her to go to New Mexico. Jerry, Dunk
and Fly had driven over in a four-horse freight wagon from the Post.
Mrs. Crawford had come to Silver City earlier in the day to do some
shopping. As Mrs. Crawford dashed up to the station, the dusty but well
appointed hack, the spirited horses and Mrs. Crawford's half western,
snappy costume indicated that life at the Post was probably not without
pleasures of its own. In fact, an invitation from one of the Post
families to spend a few weeks at Fort Bayard in the summer was generally
considered a special favor.

With a growing rumble and spreading glare of light the swaying train at
last stopped before the station. Jerry darted from his mother and with
his two companions was at once lost in the crowd. Mrs. Crawford remained
in the hack awaiting her old friend. There was so much confusion on the
platform that, at first, the expected guests were not seen.

Jerry separated from his crowd, but, not knowing the Windhams by sight,
he had not much hope of recognizing them. However, seeing a rather
undersized boy before him, he raised his voice without hesitation.

"Say, your name Windham?"

"You bet!" The other's face broke into a smile. "You're Crawford? Glad
to meet you. Here's my mother, Crawford."

"Come right along," laughed Jerry, after shaking hands. "My mother's
right over here."

He led them out of the crowd, and a moment later the two ladies greeted
each other while Jerry introduced his friends to the northerner.

Fred Windham was small for his age, but this was offset by a striking
face. High forehead, twinkling gray eyes with flecks of brown in them, a
mouth and jaw like a steel trap, and quick, firm handclasp won him a
place at once among the other boys. Fly seemed satisfied.

Mrs. Windham met the boys; then the two ladies entered the hack.
Evidently Mrs. Crawford's guest expected her son to follow her.

"Oh, he'll drive with the boys," laughed Mrs. Crawford, "unless he's
afraid of the jolting."

"Sure I will!" grinned Fred. "If it's all right with you fellows?"

"What do you think we're here for?" responded Dunk, vigorously.

"Go ahead, Ike. We'll load up the trucks and be right behind."

The hack started off with lighted lamps, while the four boys got the
Windham trunks and piled into the waiting freight wagon on top of them,
Jerry taking the reins.

The boys in the freighter escorting Fred Windham up the mountain road to
Fort Bayard were members of the Post quartette. The fourth member of the
gang, however, although a constant comrade and companion of the three
who had gone to meet Windham, was an Indian--an Apache boy known as
Carlito. The other lads were Gerald Crawford, son of the Post
commandant; Duncan Rivers or "Dunk," son of Lieutenant Rivers of the
Post staff, and Art Giles, known as Fly for reasons that will soon be
apparent. There were other boys in the neighborhood, however. One of
them was Herb Phipps, the son of the owner of the big B. P. ranch five
miles east of Fort Bayard, and another was his cousin Howard Graystock,
already mentioned by Dunk. Art Giles was not the son of an officer; his
father was post mechanic, and the boy, brought up with little schooling,
had known no life but that of the West. He was straightforward,
impetuous and full of enthusiasm. His red hair was no untrue index of a
sunny and lively disposition. More than one boy's share of freckles was
distributed over his bright, frank face.

Jerry's four horses were headed toward the Post plateau with its
picturesque mountains and deserts to the north and west. The road was
rough. It was now pitch dark, for there was no moon, and a slight haze
somewhat obscured the brilliant stars. Jerry soon caught up with the
lights of the hack, and then his team jogged along a few yards behind.

"Say, Windy," began Dunk, giving Fred the most natural nickname that
occurred to him, "it's all in the family now, so just wise up that I'm
Dunk, Gerald's Jerry and Art's Fly."

"Much obliged," said Fred pleasantly. "I'm used to Windy, but why the
Fly?"

"Oh, those boneheads know I've been studyin' aeroplanes," answered Art.
"Say, I clean forgot to tell you guys that Tender Gray called up this
afternoon and we're all going over to-morrow."

"Aeroplanes?" repeated Windy, the newcomer impolitely ignoring the
message from Tender Gray. "How can you study aeroplanes way down here
almost out of all creation?"

"Easy," answered Fly. "I've never seen a real flying machine but I guess
every boy's got some angle. My father takes a big English magazine about
flying machines."

"And Red-head's gone crazy over them," exclaimed Dunk. "You ought to see
the fine little machine he made a couple of months ago. He made it just
from reading about them in books, and it was a dandy too. Of course it
wouldn't fly, but it looked just like an aeroplane."

"I'd rather see a real one than find a silver mine," announced young
Giles promptly. "But nothin' doin' in airships on this plateau."

"They're great," broke in Windham. "I've seen a lot of them. Who's
Tender Gray?" he concluded with boyish curiosity, recalling that Fly had
mentioned another lad.

"Oh," answered Dunk Rivers, Jerry being busy with the horses, "he's a
cousin of Herb Phipps. Mr. Phipps is the richest man in this part of the
country. I guess he's a millionaire. They live over here about five
miles east on the big home ranch. Mr. Phipps goes in for sheep you know.
But he's got a lot of sheep ranches, and mines too. They call the one
over east the B. P. ranch. That's the brand too. Of course it means
Brett Phipps, Mr. Phipps' name. But we all call it the Bread Pudding
ranch."

"What's the cousin's name?" went on Windham, pulling off his light straw
hat to keep it from blowing away as the big freight wagon rolled upward
on the mountain road.

"Oh," answered Dunk, "he's Tender Gray. His name's Howard Graystock. We
call him Tender Gray because he's what they call a Boy Scout up there in
New York."

"Boy Scout," almost shouted Windham. "Why, I'm one of them myself. I
want to know Graystock, you bet."

"That won't be hard to do," broke in Fly. "Him and Herb are over to the
Post about half the time. And anyway, we're to go over to the B. P.
to-morrow."

"I suppose you call him Tender Gray because he's a tenderfoot scout,"
remarked Windham.

"I reckon," chuckled Duncan. "That or because he's tender on the subject
of Boy Scouts. He's sure a bug on that question. But you'll like both
the B. P. kids. Herb goes to college every winter."

"You say you're a Boy Scout, too," called back Jerry over his shoulder.

"Yes, I'm a Boy Scout, first class, and I've got the badges to prove it
too."

"What are they?" inquired Dunk eagerly.

"One's for athletics--basketball's my game--one's for handicraft, and
the other--" Fred paused an instant with a smile--"the other's for
aviation."

There was a gasp of surprise, then Fly stuck a hand across the trunks.
"Shake old man!" he cried. They shook hands solemnly.

For some minutes, while Jerry's team lunged ahead and the freight wagon
swung like a vessel adrift, Windham and Fly forgot even Boy Scout
matters. But there was no time for prolonged talk, although each boy
related what he had studied on the subject of aviation. The exhilaration
of the ride was too much.

"Tell you what," Windham almost shouted, "I'm certainly glad to get out
here. Airships, Boy Scouts and a ranch too--Whoopee! Real cowpunchers
and roundups!"

He paused as a shout of laughter went up.

"Wait till we put Herb next!" gasped Jerry. "Wow! Ain't that a peach
though. Cowpunchers!"

"Well, I'll bite," exclaimed Fred. "What's the joke?"

"Roundups!" shouted Dunk. "Roundups and cowpunchers! Why, Brett Phipps
ain't got a puncher on the place!"

"Thought you said it was a ranch," protested Fred.

"It is," explained Jerry. "Sheep ranch though. All the punchers you'll
see will be Greaser sheep herders. 'Bout a million sheep on the Bread
Puddin'--Hello! See that?"

"What?" cried the others.

"Look out!" yelled Windham suddenly. Everybody dodged as a great gray
and white shape drove down through the air beside them and was gone on
the instant. A shriek went up from the hack in front, followed by a wild
shout from Ike.

"Runaway!" cried Dunk. "After 'em Jerry!"

The latter needed no urging. He had already caught a glimpse of Ike's
form falling headlong from the hack seat as the two terrified horses
plunged into headlong flight. With a shout of encouragement to his
mother and Mrs. Windham, Jerry doubled the reins and lashed his four
horses into a run, barely missing Ike's body as he passed it.

"What was it?" called Dunk, between jolts.

"I couldn't see," shouted Jerry.

The hack before them was careering madly over the sand and stones. The
glimmering lamps showed the sweating flanks of the two horses that were
running frantically. The freight team behind gained rapidly, however,
and slowly drew abreast of the runaways. Jerry was urging his horses on
with hat and reins when a dark shadow threw itself at the forward team.
Something seized the bridles and hung there, dragging down the horses'
heads, and Jerry barely managed to draw up his four as the hack stopped
abruptly.

Instantly the boys were helping Mrs. Crawford and Mrs. Windham to the
ground. Assured of their safety Jerry and Dunk ran to the heads of the
hack team.

"Carlito," cried Jerry, gripping the shoulder of the slim young fellow
who stood there. "Old man, I'm--I--darn it all, come on back!"

"It's Carlito, mother," he shouted, dragging the reluctant young figure
with him. "Carl stopped 'em!"

The rescuer reached for his sombrero, which had fallen from his head, as
Mrs. Crawford held out her hand.

"You are a brave boy, Carlito!" she said gravely, her face pale. "You've
saved us all, I guess. Mrs. Windham, this is Carlito, one of the finest
boys at the Post."

As their rescuer turned, his face came into the light of the lamps, and
Mrs. Windham started, for she saw he was an Indian. Quickly recovering,
she thanked him warmly.

"It wasn't much," said Carlito, smiling composedly. "The horses were
stopping themselves."

"Not on your life they weren't!" cried Dunk, hotly. "Jump in and go with
us to the fort, Carl."

"Can't. Going to town," replied Carl, putting his hands to his mouth and
emitting a strange sound. There was an answering whinny and he walked in
the direction from which it came.

"That's the way he finds his pony at night, or when he doesn't know just
where it is. He certainly can make it loud too, when he wants to,"
explained Jerry.

As Carlito started down the road, he met Ike loping along rather lamely.

"Anybody hurt," gasped the driver as soon as he was within hearing
distance.

"No. How about yourself," Jerry answered, surprised and at the same time
relieved to see the darky had not sustained any injury.

"Oh, I'm tough," grinned the driver, resuming his seat. "Say, what was
dat thing? I heard a rush and somethin' soft give me a swipe in de face
jest as the hosses broke, an' over I goes."

"Was it in the air?" asked Dunk. "Bird mebbe."

"Bird nothin'," contradicted Jerry. "It felt a heap bigger'n any bird I
ever heard of."

By this time the ladies had again taken their places in the hack and Ike
took up the reins.

"Better come along, Carlito," urged Fly, but the Indian boy shook his
head.

"See you at the B. P. ranch to-morrow," he said. "Get there about eleven
and you'll hear something worth while. So long." And the Apache sprang
on his pony and disappeared into the night.



CHAPTER II

THE DESTROYER


"Who's that good-lookin' Indian, Jerry?" asked Fred, as the light of
Fort Bayard came into sight.

"Araviapa Apache," came the reply. "He's been chasing around the Post
'most all his life. Came from the San Carlos agency, I guess, so folks
called him Carl. Used to be a Dutchman named Carl here, and the Greasers
called the Injun Carlito, or Little Carl. He goes by both names. He's
the cool guy, you bet, and a wise one, too."

"But what does he do?" persisted the practical Fred. "He can't live on
air, can he? Does he get his living for nothing?"

"Don't you think it! Not him," returned Dunk warmly. "He does a lot of
work for us--trailin', and things like that. He's a bird at it."

"Yes, and he's learned to read and write," added Fly. "You kids ought to
see some of the books and stuff he's got."

There was no more time for conversation, as they now drew into the Post
grounds and drove up to the house occupied by the Crawfords, where the
guests were to stay. The captain and two or three of his brother
officers met the new arrivals. At the tale of the runaway there was
great excitement on the veranda and Captain Crawford called Ike up from
the drive. After examining the teamster and the boys, he gave up the
effort he was making to solve the mystery of the runaway.

"It must have been a bird," laughed Dr. Rivers, who bore the title of
lieutenant.

"That seems to be the only explanation," admitted the captain. "Are you
sure the thing hit you, Ike?"

"Yessah," maintained the teamster stoutly. "It was the s'prise more'n
anythin' else that knocked me off, Cap'n. Felt like a bird, though."

"It was too large, father," protested Jerry. "There ain't no bird as big
as that. Mebbe it was an aeroplane."

The officers laughed, but Jerry stuck to it that the "thing" was not a
bird. The examination ended in nothing. The boys had brought the mail
over with them, so as soon as the ladies had retired the officers went
over to the quartermaster's office while the four boys separated for the
night.

The next day was a perfect one such as only the New Mexican hills can
produce. To the north and west of Fort Bayard stretched a wilderness of
deep valleys and mountain peaks as far as the Rio Gila. The Bread
Pudding ranch, as the Circle B P was locally known, lay five miles to
the east.

After breakfasting, Fred and his mother were driven around the garrison.
There was plenty to be seen, and neither Jerry nor Fred realized how the
time was flying until Dunk approached.

"Hey, Jerry," called the latter, with some show of indignation. "What's
the mater with you? We've been waiting more'n an hour."

After hastily explaining to the older members of the party that they
were going over to the ranch for the day, Jerry and Fred accompanied
Dunk to the stables. Here they found Fly and Carlito waiting and after
saddling up they speedily left Fort Bayard behind.

"Ever ride much?" asked Dunk, seeing that Fred experienced a little
difficulty with his saddle.

"Sure, lots!" replied the Cleveland boy.

"Never ran up against this kind of saddle, though. Spanish, ain't it?"

"Used to be," grinned Jerry. "Good U. S. now. Say, Carlito, what was
that thing that scared our horses last night?"

"You'll hear more of that when we get to the ranch," replied the Apache,
looking away. Fred noticed that Carlito spoke slowly and used exact
English, probably gained from books. "I do not know what it was but--"

"Well, but what?" prodded Dunk.

"I think it must have been the Thunder Bird!" concluded Carlito.

A shout went up from all except Fred, who asked wonderingly what the
Thunder Bird was.

"It's one of the old Injun gods, Windy," explained Dunk. "He made the
lightning and thunder and had something to do with the rain and crops.
General boss of the gods, wasn't he, Carlo?"

"Pretty near," nodded the Apache gravely. "The Thunder Bird not only
represented the Deity but he had great power over rain, which is
important in this part of the country. Our people used to have great
sacrifices to him twice a year."

"Human sacrifices?" asked Fred innocently. At this even Carlito burst
out laughing.

"Where'm I off now?" cried Fred.

"There were no human sacrifices," replied the Indian boy. "Only the
Aztecs used to have them. Our people and the other Apaches, the Navajos,
Moqui and neighboring tribes used to appoint deputies twice each year.
They'd go to a certain place where the medicine men went through
elaborate rituals, the deputies representing the tribes. No people is so
symbolical as we are--or were. I mean by that in religious rites. For
instance, every line of paint and every article used has a symbolical
and often mystical meaning."

"That Gov'ment shark from Washington," said Jerry, "who was here last
summer, knew a lot about that. He sent dad one of his books, and the
whole thing explained a single six-day Zuni corn feast!"

"Say, speed up, fellows. You jog along as though we had all day and
to-morrow," and Fly spurred up his pony, calling back, "Race you to the
turn of the road."

For a few minutes the boys made the dust fly, and, despite the good
start Fly had made, Windy came in first with Carlito a close second.
They kept up a brisk canter all the way to the ranch.

"Here come the other fellows, Windy," said Dunk, as they reached the B.
P. Windy saw two horses leave the corral now only a few hundred feet
away. The two approached at a gallop and a moment later met the Post
boys with a yell. One of the B. P. boys was roughly and carelessly
dressed and was brown as an Indian. He was introduced to Fred as Herb
Phipps. The second wore a Boy Scout tenderfoot emblem on his flannel
shirt. This was Howard Graystock, the New Yorker. His face lit up as he
saw the first-class and merit badges that decorated Fred's shirt.

"How long you been a scout, Windham?" he asked as the party whirled and
rode up to the corral.

"'Bout three years," replied Fred, dismounting.

"Wish I was first-class!" rejoined Gray. "I swore in about a week before
I come out here." He lowered his voice slightly, "Say, you back me an'
Phipps up strong, will you? Don't say anything--you'll see pretty
quick."

Fred laughed assent as all dismounted, and they joined the others. After
turning the horses into the corral the party started up to the house but
were stopped by a hail. Looking around, they saw a large man striding
around the opposite end of the corral. The boys from the Fort gave him a
shout of greeting and all waited for him to come up.

Brett Phipps was big in every sense of the word. He had fought his way
up from cowpuncher to millionaire by sheer strength of will and brains.
Although he had started on a Texas ranch and fully shared the prejudices
of the cow-men against the sheepmen, he realized that there was big
money in sheep. Therefore he had started the large Circle B. P. sheep
ranch near Fort Bayard where there was good water, although he owned a
large cow range in the Taos country as well.

Like the boys he was dressed in flannel shirt and wide Stetson. Over his
trousers he wore chaps of plain leather, to protect his clothes from the
wear of the saddle, and his legs from rattlers. He greeted the party
vigorously.

"Well, I'm sure glad to see yuh, boys! Hullo, new member? Windham? Glad
to meet yuh! Hang up on the veranda, boys, till I get these chaps off.
Right back."

He disappeared inside the house, and the boys "hung up" on the wide
veranda which was littered with canvas, reed and other easy-chairs.
Indeed, the veranda of the ranch-house served largely as an office and
living room combined. Both Mr. Phipps and the boys spent a large share
of their time there.

In a few moments the rancher returned minus his chaps, followed by a
Chinaman, the ranch-house cook, who greeted the boys with a cheerful
grin of recognition.

"What'll it be?" inquired Mr. Phipps, as he sank into a big chair and
glanced around.

"Lemonade!" arose the shout, and the "Chink" vanished.

"Carl hinted last night that you had something special on, Herb," began
Dunk to the rancher's son. Herb grinned and looked at his father.

"Not me," he said. "I reckon dad has somethin' under his hat, though."

At this moment the Celestial returned with a gigantic olla or Mexican
jar full of lemonade, together with glasses.

"Well, John, didn't take you long," said Mr. Phipps, as he tossed off a
glass with a sigh of satisfaction.

"Him all leddy," grinned the Chinaman.

"Let's get together, boys," commanded Mr. Phipps, with a sweep of his
broad hand. "I've got to get over to Three Mile Crick after lunch, so I
reckon we'll hold a confab right now."

The boys hitched their chairs up closer to Mr. Phipps and the lemonade,
and when their glasses had been refilled the ranchman continued.

"Mebbe y'all don't know it, but there's been a lot o' devilment goin' on
for quite a spell back. We've kep' it dark, hopin' to catch whoever done
it, but no chance. There's somethin' or some one raisin' Cain with my
sheep. We've missed a lot o' lambs, plumb gone. We've found sheep with
pieces o' their backs clean torn out, an' last week I come across a big
ram all smashed to bits like he'd been dropped off a cliff.

"Night 'fore last young Morales who has a hut ten mile north of here,
hears somethin' doin' and rushes out of his hut. Bein' a Greaser he
don't know any better than to yell. Somethin' jabs him in the shoulder
and he lets off his sixgun. Then, he swears he heard wings an' was
carried up in the air for a minute and was dropped. O' course all that's
pure guff--yuh can't believe what a Greaser says nohow. But Jap Fisher,
my foreman, finds him yesterday lyin' with his leg broke, a couple
hundred yards from the hut."

"Mebbe he wasn't lyin', Mr. Phipps!" broke in Jerry excitedly. "Listen."
And he rapidly sketched their adventure of the night before. It was now
the turn of Herb and Gray to stare, while Mr. Phipps listened in growing
surprise.

"Jehosaphat!" he exclaimed when Jerry finished. "That sure beats me! I
figured Morales was doin' a heap o' fabricatin', but he may 'a' told the
truth for once. Anyhow, here's what I had in mind. Gray has been fillin'
me and Herb up with his Boy Scout stuff, so I want to know why y'all
don't get busy? If yuh will, I'll put up for the equipment on condition
that yuh get right after what's raisin' thunder with them sheep. You
boys have a heap o' time hangin' heavy on your young hands, and yuh
might as well be doin' somethin' useful. It'll save me bringin' in a lot
o' men from Silver City, an' as far as brain goes yuh'll have 'em beat a
mile. How about it?"

Fred caught an appealing glance from Gray, and though he hesitated to
put himself forward, he was a loyal scout, and as he had taken a decided
liking to the clean-cut New Yorker, he felt obliged to comply with the
earnest request Gray had made when they met.

"I think it's bully, Mr. Phipps," Fred gathered courage to say. "Of
course I'm new out here an' all that, but I've been in the scouts pretty
near three years now and it's done me a heap of good. More fun than a
circus too."

"Sure, we'll do it!" cried Dunk. "We'll lay for that Thunder Bird of
yours, Carl, eh, Jerry?"

"Bet your life!" answered Jerry fervently.

"Here wait a minute," cried Mr. Phipps. "What's this about the Thunder
Bird, Carlito? What do you know 'bout this thing?"

"Nothing, sir," replied the young Apache with a smile. "I just guessed
that it was the Thunder Bird. Of course, I don't believe that. We could
certainly have some fun besides being of possible use to you."

"Count me in too," cried Fly. "Aviator's badge for mine!"

"Same here," "Me too." "That's what I say," came from all the boys.

"Good," shouted Jerry enthusiastically. "Carl can run the trailin' end
of it an' Dunk can boss the first-aid work an' Windy'll be chief cook
and bottle washer o' the whole bunch!"

"There's the lunch gong," laughed Mr. Phipps, springing to his feet.
"Come on to grub pile! I've got to get away pretty quick, but y'all can
have the ranch to yourselves all day. Comin', Hop Sing, comin'. Chase
along, boys!"



CHAPTER III

THE LEGEND OF THE THUNDER BIRD


Immediately after lunch Mr. Phipps hastened off and the boys returned to
the veranda to form their patrol. Herb Phipps was acclaimed chairman and
the meeting was on.

"First thing's nomination of officers," announced the chair. "Shoot in
some names, yuh guys!"

"The patrol leader's got to be a first-class scout," grinned Gray.
"Stand up, Windy! I move the nom'nations be closed!"

"Here, hold on!" Fred sprang up at once. "I'll only be here a few weeks,
kids. What's the use? One of you had better--"

"Aw, beat it." "Sit down!" "Cut it out!" came from the others. Dunk
gained the floor.

"Second the nomination, Mr. Chairman! Let's make Windy leader while he's
here, anyhow."

"All in favor?"

"Aye." And Fred was elected. Carlito was then put up against Gray for
assistant, but the New Yorker promptly withdrew and the young Apache got
the honor. The boys were then sworn by Fred and Gray together, and the
patrol was a fact.

"What we goin' to call her?" asked Fly. Various titles were proposed and
voted down but finally Carl came across with "The Thunder Bird Patrol."
This was greeted with a yell of delight, and was chosen without delay.

"Oh, Windy!" called Jerry from a swing at the other end of the veranda.
"Chase out to the kitchen and tell Hop Sing to give you the rattler
lariat, will you? This swing needs tying up."

Fred promptly rose and vanished, suspecting nothing. At Fort Bayard the
men had a standing joke on all tenderfeet. They sent them all over the
fort asking for the "rattler lariat"--which is slang for whiskey--and as
whiskey is a thing forbidden at the fort, the unhappy tenderfoot usually
ended up under arrest. The crowd on the porch expected that Hop Sing
would catch the joke as he had done before, and send Fred out to the
bunkhouse or corral to some of the men who would send him on farther.

"Thought mebbe it'd be good for him," grinned Jerry in expectation.
"Windy's pretty solid, but he's liable to get the notion that being from
the East he knows 'bout everythin' that's--Wow!"

The speech ended in a startled yell. Jerry and Fly had been sitting in
the vine-shaded swing at the end of the porch, and from the vines beside
them came an unmistakable rattle. Jerry took one flying leap, lost his
balance, and crashed into Dunk's chair. Fly followed him so closely that
he tripped and all three rolled headfirst into Carlito. At the same
instant there was a rustle among the vines and Herb jumped to the wall,
where a revolver was hanging.

"Don't shoot!" came the laughing voice of Fred. As he poked his head
through the vines a shout went up and Fred came around the corner of the
veranda. "Pretty slick," he laughed, as Jerry scrambled up. "Hop Sing
put me wise, though!"

"Say, did you make that blamed rattle?" inquired Fly uneasily.

"Sure," grinned Windy, holding up a string of rattles. "Hop gave me
these and showed me how to use 'em."

"Oh, what I'll do to that Chink!" groaned Jerry as the crowd shouted
with laughter. But just then Hop Sing appeared with a platter of
doughnuts as propitiation, and peace was made.

During the afternoon Fred and Gray measured the others for their
uniforms. These would consist of the breeches, puttees and coat, the
latter being only necessary for trips up into the mountains where it was
chilly. A complete list of everything that was wanted was made out and
given to Herb, who would hand it over to his father to be ordered at
once.

"Ever see a cliff dwelling, Windy?" asked Dunk, after they had been
measured.

"No," answered Fred. "Any 'round here?"

"Sure," cried Fly eagerly. "Feller over at Silver City has a tame
one--built it himself! Collects two bits each from tourists to see it."

"Shut up!" laughed Dunk, and fired a pillow at Fly. "There's a mighty
good bunch of 'em over north of the post, Windy. Five or six real old
Mojaves there too. Make baskets and stuff to sell. S'pose we ride over
there to-morrow, fellows."

This proved agreeable to all save Fly, who was to help his father with
some work. So it was arranged that Herb and Gray should come over early
for the others and all would take a trip who could do so.

"Tell your dad," said Jerry to Herb, "that we'll start work Monday. This
is Tuesday. If our uniforms ain't here it won't matter."

"Monday night, then," replied Herb. "I can't see what there is to do
'cept just sit around and keep an eye on the sheep all night. We'll
prob'ly scatter all over the range."

The party returned to the garrison in time for dinner. All were in high
feather at having actually formed a patrol. When the news spread around
the fort that evening it met with general approval.

"Good for Phipps!" exclaimed Captain Crawford, at dinner. "Guess we can
spare you chaps some service revolvers if you want 'em. How about it,
Gerald?"

"Fine!" cried Jerry delightedly. "Sure we want 'em."

"We won't really need them, I s'pose?" asked Fred.

"You may," returned the captain. "Especially if you're going up against
that sheep-destroyer of Phipps'. Looks to me like it was some cattle men
from the ranges over beyond the Circle B. P. If it is you'll have to
pass it up. If it's some animal or other, go to it!"

Herb and Gray arrived before the sunrise gun boomed next morning, and
after a hasty breakfast the party rode to the northwest. They soon found
themselves among the hills that bordered the river, and about ten
o'clock Carlito halted them.

"See that cliff yonder?" Jerry pointed to a steep ascent that rose above
the low water across the river. Halfway up could be seen a crumbling
ruin from which rose a trail of smoke. "There's a cliff dwellin', Windy.
Looks like old Tommy's home too."

"Tommy's the only Mojave there who can talk any English," explained Dunk
as they splashed through the river. "We'll leave the horses down here
an' hike up."

Leaving the ponies to graze along the river bank the boys began the
ascent of a well-worn path. It had been hollowed out in places and made
easier for visitors, so that they had no difficulty in reaching the
cliff dwellings on the ledge. As they did so, Fred, who had followed
Carlito closely, saw two wrinkled and blanket-clad Indians with a couple
of fat squaws, seated over a small fire. One of the chiefs was hideously
tattooed on the forehead and chin, and the women were heavily ornamented
with strings of many-colored beads and gaudy pendants. Two of them wore
large brass earrings. All had a miscellaneous supply of brass buttons
distributed over their blankets.

"Hello, Tommy!" called Jerry cheerfully as he gained the ledge. "Better
bring over some more stuff! We've got some new people at the post. Sell
some baskets easy."

The eldest Mojave shook his head without looking up. "No tadavia," he
returned. "No got. Nex' week, mebbe. All gone."

"You fellows show Windy over the place," said Carl. "I'm going to talk
to Tommy." Squatting down beside the other Indians, he broke into a
flood of Mexican.

"Come on, Windy," laughed Dunk. "Carl ain't got no use for us now."

At first Fred was somewhat disappointed in the cliff dwellings, or what
was left of them. Only part of the walls were standing in many cases,
the roofs having caved in, the remainder of the buildings being
surrounded by fallen rocks and mortar.

"I suppose these are a good many hundred years old," he said as he
stepped into one of the better preserved caves which the Indians had
taken possession of. There was a rounded hole in the center of the stone
floor where the inhabitants had ground their corn, and this was still in
use by Tommy and his friends. All the arrow heads and broken pottery had
been taken away by previous visitors, but the walls were inscribed with
strange characters, the sign language of the vanished race. Queer
animals of all sorts drawn in crude fashion, mingled with figures of
dogs, snakes and mysterious marks of their own, were among the rough
drawings.

Very little light came in through the narrow door and single small
window, and when Fred emerged and stood at the edge of the terrace the
bright sunshine made him blink his eyes, and the fresh beauties of
nature were a strange contrast to the dark, dusty interior of the cliff
house. They were now far above the river, which could be heard below.
Opposite was a low hill or two and beyond the hills the blistering
yellow and red of the desert. They were facing the garrison, which was
hidden by the hills. Behind them lay the mountains, and to the west a
far-off snowy peak was just visible around the corner of the ledge.

"She's fifty miles away," said Herb, as he pointed to the latter. "Looks
about ten, eh? Seems like yuh could toss a stone into them hills
yonder."

Fred had not yet become used to judging distances in this country, where
the atmosphere was wonderfully clear. It seemed almost incredible to him
that the mountain was so far away. He would have liked more time to
explore other of the cliff dwellings, for the strange sights held his
interest, but the other boys, who had been over the ground many times,
seemed to be growing impatient, and they all returned to where Carl was
still talking to Tommy. They stood behind the silently working Indians,
whose faces were as expressionless and inhospitable as their bent backs.

"Just see 'em weave," exclaimed Fred, as the large but deft fingers
wound in and out through many colors of straw.

"And listen to Carl and that Indian jabber," he continued. "I didn't
know they could talk so fast."

"Oh, the Indians around here are partly civilized," said Jerry, who had
been watching with them. "As long as they can get good trade for their
baskets and beadwork, and do some swapping now and then, they seem
satisfied."

Carl finally ended his conversation with Tommy, and springing to his
feet, in true Indian fashion, he joined the other boys and sat down to
eat the lunch which they had brought with them. After Fred had induced
Tommy to part with a beaded buckskin knife sheath for a dollar, all
returned down the winding path to the river.

"Well, I've got some red-hot news for you," announced Carlito, as they
left the river behind and headed back through the low hills toward the
fort.

"Yuh must 'a' got it from Tommy, then," returned Herb. "Yuh ain't done
nothin' but jabber Greaser to him and old Alche-say. What's on your
mind?"

"Why, Tommy's the oldest buck anywhere around here," replied Carlito. "I
thought maybe he'd give me some dope on the Thunder Bird. I don't know
anything but what I heard when I was a little kid, but I got him to
loosen up. Want to hear it?"

"Sure," cried Dunk, and drew back his pony beside Carl. "Come on back
here, Windy! Slow down, Jerry. Now we're fixed."

"What I told you before," began Carlito when all were riding in a bunch
around him, "was true enough. Deputies from the tribes met twice a year,
spring and fall. This was all long before the white men ever showed up.
Tommy says--and he ought to know if anyone does--that somewhere up in
the mountains north of here was the shrine of the Thunder Bird. It seems
that there were three medicine men who kept an altar for offering
sacrifices to the Thunder Bird three times a year, and there were great
festivities in which the people took part. One year there was a big
scrap on between the Navajos and some of my own people. While the
deputies were worshipping at the altar that fall, somebody said
something, and the Apache delegates pulled out hidden knives and killed
a Navajo. It was a rule that no weapons were allowed on the sacred
place, and no sooner had the blood been shed than the Thunder Bird came
down in a big-storm and killed the whole bunch with his lightning
arrows."

"And that's the kind of a monster we have to fight!" exclaimed Fred.

"Oh, well, that's the way Tommy told it. I suppose they really got
struck by lightning. Anyhow, everyone was killed, even the medicine men,
except one brave who crawled away with the news and died. It was a
sacred law that no one could visit the shrine in the daytime except
during the sacrifices. Everybody was scared to go after the bodies until
next spring. Then some medicine men tried it. They got about halfway
when the Thunder Bird flew down in the dark and beat them off the path.
After that it was said that the Thunder Bird was angry; so the sacred
spot was left alone and gradually forgotten. Each tribe of Indians
worshipped him at home, and the old custom was passed up. Tommy says
that nobody knows now even where the sacred spot is. When he was a boy
an old man told him it was on a high peak in the mountains, but hidden
by some rocks and boulders so nobody could find it. It's all a legend
now."

"That's funny," exclaimed Jerry, as Carlito paused. "How did the Thunder
Bird knock those chaps around that way?"

"Search me," responded the Apache. "He says the Thunder Bird was angry
at having his shrine profaned with blood and wouldn't let it be used
again."

"Sounds a whole lot like the Thunder Bird was after them sheep, Herb,"
laughed Dunk. "Better get us medicine men's outfits, Carl! We may need
'em!"

"I think we'll need six-guns more," replied the Apache gravely.

"Gee, it's goin' to be a real adventure," exclaimed Fred, his bright
eyes snapping. "But how are we goin' to start?"

"Well, if the Thunder Bird lives up in the mountains, why not try and
find out where he roosts?" suggested Herb.

"Anyhow, while we're waiting for our uniforms, we might take Fred on a
little hunting an' fishing trip up in the mountains, and mebbe do some
investigating on the side," added Jerry.

"And talk over how we're goin' to get at the sheep stealer," went on
Fred.

So it was decided that on Monday the boys would go for a hunt and map
out their plans. But they did not know what was to happen in the
meantime to help solve the problem for them.



CHAPTER IV

AN AVIATOR APPEARS


"Hello, who's that talkin' to father?" exclaimed Jerry next morning as
he and Fred came back from the range where they had been having a target
contest to try out the service revolvers Captain Crawford had lent them.

Captain Crawford called the boys over and introduced the stranger, a
tall, trim-built young man, as Mr. Hawke.

"I'm sure you boys will like Mr. Hawke," he said. "He's from the
military aviation school at Fort Omaha, and knows how to build
aeroplanes."

This was enough to make the boys look upon Hawke as a friend and hero,
even if he hadn't smiled encouragingly and held out his hand.

"I'm sure I'm going to like you too, boys, and I'm glad to know you're
interested in aviation. I always like to see boys up-to-date."

The boys hardly knew what to say to such a warm greeting as this, but
Fly put in his appearance at that moment and saved them from further
confusion.

"Come on over here, Fly," called Jerry.

"He's just crazy about airships," he explained, turning to Mr. Hawke.

"Then I want to meet him," said the aviator, his genial face lighting
with a smile.

"I'd rather meet you then Santa Claus," exclaimed Fly, enthusiastically,
feeling at home at once with the newcomer, and experiencing none of the
embarrassment of the other boys. "I hope you're goin' to stay."

"Well, I'm planning to spend my vacation here. I didn't expect to arrive
so soon, but some friends were coming this way, so I dropped in
unannounced."

"We all like this kind of a surprise," assured the captain, just as Dunk
Rivers came up and said he was wanted on the telephone.

"I guess I can leave you with the boys, Hawke," said the captain, after
introducing Dunk.

"You bet. I like boys--especially aeroplane boys."

"Maybe you can give them some pointers about the mystery at the Phipps
ranch," Mr. Crawford called back as he hurried away.

"We'll tell you about that," volunteered Jerry, in answer to Mr. Hawke's
look of inquiry, and, assisted by Fly, Dunk and Fred, he told the story
of the runaway and the loss of sheep at the ranch.

"And this trouble has been going on about a month?" asked Mr. Hawke.
"Looks to me as if your Indian friend is pretty near right. It must be
some kind of flesh-eating animal or bird that is doing the damage. So
you boys are going to trail him down?"

"That's the idea," answered Dunk.

"We've formed a Boy Scout Patrol," continued Jerry; "ordered our
uniforms an' everythin'. Fred's leader."

"Splendid," exclaimed Mr. Hawke heartily. "I used to be scout master of
a bunch of fellows down at Fort Omaha, but my work got so pressing that
I was obliged to give it up. I enjoyed it though."

"Gee, that's fine. Glad you're goin' to stay all summer," exclaimed
Fred.

"How are you going to carry on this hunt?" asked the aviator.

"We haven't just decided yet," replied Jerry. "Got to figure that out."

"If it's a bird it seems to me you ought to have an aeroplane,"
suggested Mr. Hawke, his eyes twinkling as he watched for the effect
this would have on the boys.

"It would be just the thing," cried Fly.

"Of course," chimed in Dunk. "We could fly right after him then."

"That would be the way to do it," said Mr. Hawke, pleased with their
enthusiasm. "Can't you manage to build a machine here at the fort?" he
added.

"Mebbe Mr. Phipps would help us out," cried Fly at once, taking the
suggestion seriously.

"That's right," assented Jerry gravely.

"But we don't know nothin' at all about it," said Dunk.

"Well, you boys come up to my room to-night," responded Hawke. "I'll
show you something you'll be interested in. Come along and bring your
friends. I suppose there are some other boys around here."

"You bet; three more in our crowd. They're all bugs on aviation too,"
Dunk assured him. "We want to get the Boy Scout aviation badge."

"Bully for you. That's the kind of talk I like to hear." Hawke gave Dunk
a friendly slap on the shoulder. "Now, I'm going to spend the afternoon
with your father and Captain Crawford. Good-bye till to-night."

"Ain't he a peach?" exclaimed Fly, when Hawke was out of hearing.

"He's a _looloo_! Gee, this is luck. Aviator--scout master--everything
nearly," agreed Jerry warmly.

"Wonder what he's going to show us to-night," queried Fred.

"Mebbe he's got some more ideas about the Thunder Bird that he didn't
tell us," suggested Dunk.

"He's a prince anyway," Jerry exclaimed. And in this all the boys
agreed.

Fly had to go back to his work, and it was decided to call up Herb
Phipps and Tender Gray, telling them to come over that evening on the
aviator's special invitation. Dunk said he would notify Carlito.

At eight that night all the boys met at Jerry's and went together to Mr.
Hawke's quarters on the third floor of the old barracks. Graystock wore
his tenderfoot badge, while Fred had pinned on all his medals, including
the one for aviation.

Carlito, Herb Phipps and his cousin edged into the room somewhat
timidly, but the aviator's cordial greeting caused them instantly to
forget their embarrassment.

"I'm glad you managed to round up the bunch," Hawke said, after the new
trio had been presented. "This lesson won't have to be repeated. And,"
he continued, observing Fred's decorations, "all of you scouts ought to
be wearing aviation badges soon. That is, if you give careful attention
to what I'm going to tell you."

"We'll listen, all right," promised Fred. "That's what we're here for."

Hawke smiled. "That reminds me. You fellows came pretty near missing the
surprise I've got for you. When Ike went down to Silver City they told
him my trunks hadn't come. He waited, however, and they arrived on the
next train. He delivered them only a few minutes ago."

The boys exchanged glances of inquiry. What had Ike and the trunks to do
with it?

But Hawke soon answered them by pulling a large steamer trunk into the
center of the room.

"Get down here," he said, throwing back the top. The boys gave a gasp of
surprise and were down on their knees beside him. Lying in the trunk
were the parts of a miniature aeroplane.

"Now, scouts," said Mr. Hawke, amused at their excited exclamations,
"we'll put this together, and I'll show you the model of the 'Thunder
Bird Aeroplane.'"

[Illustration: "Now, scouts," said Mr. Hawke, amused at their excited
exclamations, "we'll put this together, and I'll show you the model of
the 'Thunder Bird Aeroplane.'"]

"Gee whiz!" exploded Fly, who was the first to find his tongue. "What do
you know about that, fellows? That's the name of our patrol."

But the other boys were too deeply interested in what Hawke was doing to
pay attention to Fly.

The aviator took the parts to the table and began putting them together.

"We'll make this a lesson," he said. "So fire in your questions."

"Well, I'd like to know how much that weighs?" complied Fly at once.

"About thirty pounds."

"Is it all there?" continued Fly.

"All but the engine."

"An' how much does a real one weigh--I mean a big one?" asked Dunk.

"Well, a full-sized machine built after this design would reach a weight
of about 1,100 pounds or over, with the load."

"How fast would it go?" asked Herb.

"About forty miles an hour," replied Hawke.

"Whoopee!" cried Jerry. "That's sure goin' some."

"It doesn't seem to go that fast when you're up in the air," explained
Hawke. "If you are gliding close to the ground the speed seems terrific,
but after you reach the high altitudes you hardly notice that the
machine is moving."

"They looked as though they was moving when I saw them at Nassau
Boulevard meet," put in Tender Gray. "There was a half dozen of them up
in the air at once most of the time."

"All biplanes like this one?" asked Fly, a little proud of his
knowledge.

"Monoplanes too. Bleriots, Dumonts, Curtiss, Wrights, all kinds."

"What you fellows talking about?" asked Dunk, who knew little about the
subject.

"Well, we mean, did they have two wings or one?" answered Fly, in an
offhand tone.

"What's wings?" persisted Dunk, not to be put down.

"Why this is a biplane," explained Fly, with assumed grandness, putting
his thumb under his armpit, "'cause it's got two wings, top and
bottom--this and this." He pointed to the main planes. "A monoplane has
only one wing, the top. And--"

"Stand back and give the professor room," interrupted Dunk, with mock
solemnity.

"These wires look awful slim to me," said Jerry, when the general laugh
subsided. "You don't go much on 'em, do you?"

"You bet, lots depends on them," answered Mr. Hawke, who was stringing
light wires through miniature pulleys on the upper and lower wings.
"They may look frail but in the full-sized machine they are the
strongest piano wire."

"What do they do?"

"They really take most of the tension, and these struts take what is
called the compression stresses. They're made of the lightest tough wood
in the world--comes from Canada."

"Wish't I understood all that," said Tender in a rather discouraged
tone.

"You can't understand everything in one lesson," put in Fred.

"Yes, that's right. We'll have to start at the beginning and go
through," responded the aviator, with a good-natured smile. "But, of
course, we haven't time for that to-night. I'm just giving you a general
idea."

Carlito had said nothing up to this time, but he had been looking on
very carefully, and listening with rapt attention.

"Looks like it would fly just like a bird," he said, when the model was
finally completed, and the boys were inspecting it.

"That's just it," cried Jerry, remembering the conversation of the
morning, "and we want one to chase the Thunder Bird with."

"The question is, how are we going to get it?" objected Fred,
businesslike as usual. "We fellows ain't got enough money."

"Yuh ought to talk to father," said Herb. "He said he'd give anything to
get that rascal that's killin' our sheep. Besides," he added, laughing,
"I've been digging for an aeroplane for a long time."

"Do you think he'd help us out?" asked Fly eagerly.

"I think a talk with Mr. Hawke would do a powerful lot," responded the
southerner. "Cain't you-all come over Sunday afternoon? Dad's going to
Santa Rita to-morrow morning to be gone till then."

"Yes, please go over and tell him what the aeroplane could do," urged
Fly, anxious to realize the dream which seemed almost too good to be
true.

"Sure, won't you, Mr. Hawke," chimed in Jerry.

"All of you fellows come, cain't yuh?" asked Herb.

There was a rapid fire of affirmatives.

"How about yuh, Mr. Hawke?" persisted the rancher.

"Why, of course. I'll be glad to take a ride over with the boys and meet
your father."

"All right, then, that's settled, and now it's time for us guys to go.
Tender and I have to ride to the B. P. yet. Good night, Mr. Hawke. If it
wasn't so late we'd sure like to give yuh three cheers."

"Instead, I'll shake hands with you all," responded the aviator, as they
filed past him at the door. "And remember, I'm yours for the medals and
the Thunder Bird hunt. And--if we can get it--the finest aeroplane
that's been made yet."



CHAPTER V

AT THE B. P. RANCH


Although the sun was hot when the boys and Mr. Hawke started for the
ride to Phipps' ranch the following Sunday afternoon, the air seemed
cooled by an almost imperceptible breeze. It had rained the night
before, and while the road was quite dry, there was less dust than
usual. On one hand stretched the refreshed green pastures, spotted with
many-hued wild flowers, making a gorgeous pattern of color. On the other
hand were the towering mountains, their snow-capped peaks in marked
contrast with the thick foliage of the forest which climbed halfway up
their rugged slopes. Rising above the timber line were bare gorges of
rock. Below lay the irregular foothills, thickly covered with cedars,
pines and firs.

But despite the compelling beauties of nature, which Hawke and Fred were
enjoying in silent admiration, it was not long before the others, more
accustomed to the sight which charmed the new-comers, began talking of
the thing which they had all probably dreamed of the night before.

"Say, Mr. Hawke," queried Jerry, who had been turning the matter over in
his mind, "if Herb's dad'll stand for that aeroplane, how long'll it
take to get it?"

"If Mr. Phipps should make such a decision as that," replied Mr. Hawke,
who really had some doubt that he would, "we'll have it done in two
weeks."

"We'll have it done?" echoed Fred. "What do you mean by that?"

"Why, I mean that I want you boys to help me build it," replied the
aviator coolly, watching out of the corner of his twinkling eyes for the
effect his words would have on the boys.

"What's that?" cried the astonished Dunk, unconsciously digging his
heels into his pony, which reared, and started off at a brisk canter.

Mr. Hawke smiled broadly. He was growing more and more fond of the
enthusiastic and manly Fort Bayard boys, and was especially amused at
Dunk's frank expressions.

After going a few rods, the latter got control of his horse and slowed
the animal down for the rest of the party to catch up.

"Do you really mean that?" asked Fly with flashing eyes, when they were
all riding quietly again.

"Why not? We can get the material here in a week or less. Then we can
probably find a machine shop around here to work in, and, when we need
it, build a hangar of our own."

"Gee, that sounds bully," exclaimed Jerry.

"You can use our place," volunteered Fly. "We've got all kinds of tools,
a bellows and most everything you'd need, I guess."

"An aeroplane could almost be built in a carpenter shop," replied Mr.
Hawke. "There's very little metal on them. Mostly good strong spruce,
bamboo and well-seasoned woods of different kinds."

"What a chance that would be," reflected Fly, more to himself than
anybody in the party. "But, what if it shouldn't be a bird after all?"
he asked suddenly, his face growing grave and anxious. "Then we wouldn't
need an aeroplane and everything would go to smash."

Instantly a cloud seemed to fall over the faces of all the boys, as they
looked instinctively at Mr. Hawke. The latter found the sudden change in
affairs too much for his humorous vein, and with a hearty laugh he
dispelled the gloom as quickly as it had gathered.

"We'll cross that bridge when we come to it," he said, finally regaining
composure.

"Give Fly a good punch, Dunk," exclaimed Jerry. "You're next to him."

"There ain't no use in you givin' us all cold feet like that, Fly,"
admonished Dunk, by way of complying with Jerry's request.

"Oh, it just seems too good to be true," defended Fly. "I think I must
be moving in a pipe dream."

"Leave it to Mr. Hawke," assured Fred.

"By the way," said the aviator genially; "Hawke is good enough for me.
Cut out the _Mister_."

"All right, Hawke," returned Fly, with a strong accent on the name.

The path turned to the left at that point, and took them through a
rather scant growth of pine trees. The boys welcomed this meager shade,
which was the first cool spot they had reached since leaving the Fort.
They stopped under the trees for a few minutes, and turned aside from
the main road while a large freight wagon, loaded several feet above its
top and covered with canvas, passed, drawn by six strong horses. It was
followed by a smaller two-horse wagon. Both of the drivers were
Greasers.

"What you got on there," yelled Dunk mischievously.

The Mexicans replied with a curious glance, and one of them gave the
usual, "No sabe!"

After wiping their perspiring faces with their handkerchiefs, the boys
and Hawke pulled out from under the trees and rode out into the sun
again. It was not an unusually warm day for New Mexico, but warm enough
to give them some discomfort.

"We might go out of our way a little and get a drink at the river over
here," suggested Dunk.

"We'll have something better'n that to drink when we get to Phipps' I
bet," answered Jerry scornfully. "He always treats us great whenever we
go over there--and besides, we got company to-day."

"I don't want to say nothin'," interjected Fly, who had been thinking on
the subject since his last remark. "But I do hope it is a bird."

"Say, you joy-killer, you calamity howler, cut that out, will you?"
Jerry pulled his pony over and gave Fly a jab in the ribs. "If you don't
quit, this will turn into a funeral procession. I'm gettin' cold feet
already."

At that moment Carlito, who had been riding silently a little in advance
of the others, spurred up his pony, and with a hasty "I think I see
something," dashed on ahead.

After a moment of surprise and hesitation, the others galloped after
him. Carlito did not go far, however, but before he stopped the others
saw what he was after. When he pulled up, four or five chattering
magpies flew complainingly from the ground, where they had been feeding
on a dead lamb.

Carl slipped off his pony and the others followed his example. The party
gathered around the Indian, who was stooping over the animal and
examining it closely. It was frightfully torn under the belly and its
back was broken.

"There's been somethin' doin' in the sheep stealin' line again," said
Jerry. "What do you think about it, Carl?"

"It's so badly smashed up I can't tell much, but it does look to me as
if there were marks of claws--large claws," answered the Indian finally.
"But I can't tell for sure."

"This must be one of the B. P. herd," conjectured Dunk.

"Does it look like some bird had him?" asked Fly, eager to settle the
doubt which had arisen.

"It looks like talons, all right. But I can't say positive. He's too
riddled. I'll look around."

Carl separated himself from the circle and patrolled the ground round
about.

"If there was any tracks the rain last night washed them away," he said
finally, satisfied that nothing could be learned by further search.

"There could be no tracks of a bird, could there?" asked Hawke.

"If it's a big one, sometimes there's the sweep of the wings when they
bear down on something."

"Well, let's ride on and see what Mr. Phipps has to say about it,"
suggested Dunk, after they had thoroughly inspected the animal a second
time.

It was a hot, dusty and rather excited party that greeted Herb half an
hour later at the B. P. corral.

"Lost any sheep last night?" asked Fly, as soon as the few words of
greeting had been said.

"Half a dozen of 'em," replied the rancher's son. "Dad's mad as all get
out. Says he's goin' to watch every night, and when that thing comes
again he's goin' to blow it to kingdom come."

"Well, we saw one sheep down the road," informed Dunk, "all cut to
pieces."

"A nice little lamb too," said Fred regretfully.

"Shouldn't be surprised. We found a couple, and they sure was done for.
Now's the time for us to hit dad hard for that aeroplane."

"Glad to know yuh; come right up," was Mr. Phipps' cordial greeting as
he came halfway down the veranda step to meet the aviator and welcome
the boys. His cool, spotless linen suit was quite a contrast to the
somewhat grimy appearance of the visitors.

"We're pretty warm after that ride," apologized Hawke, mopping his
forehead with his handkerchief.

"Mebbe yuh'd like to go inside and wash up," suggested Mr. Phipps
amiably, and his invitation was heartily accepted by all the party.
"Herb, show them around," commanded the rancher, and his son readily
complied.

The ranch-house, which Mr. Phipps had built himself, was a duplicate of
the old homestead in Texas. The roominess which the large, square
exterior suggested was carried out in the great, wide rooms and high
ceilings within. The spacious halls and stairways reminded one more of a
magnificent southern home than of a New Mexico ranch-house. Oriental
rugs in delicate shadings covered the highly polished floors, and the
massive mahogany furniture and tasteful hangings gave the whole an
appearance of elegance and refinement such as sheepmen are not reputed
to have.

"This is one of my venerable ancestors," said Herb, when the party filed
downstairs, refreshed. "Yuh see, father's folks was French. This fellow
is General Dupont, and fought some good fights in the Franco-Prussian
war. They say he never would have been killed, born under a lucky star
like Napoleon--only he lingered too long with a wounded comrade at the
siege of Paris."

"And this lady?" asked Hawke, pointing to a large portrait of a slim,
dark beauty, dressed in white, and wearing a cluster of yellow roses at
her waist line.

"That's my mother." Herb lowered his voice a little as he answered. "She
died when I was a little tad, yuh know."

"A very beautiful woman," said Mr. Hawke, quickly passing on to spare
Herb's feelings. "And this man looks like your father."

"That was painted a long time ago," said Herb.

"It looks like you now," put in Jerry, who had been inspecting the same
painting, while the other boys walked up and down the halls and made an
interested examination of the many large oils which lined the walls.

"This is father's sister, who used to keep house for us. She died a few
years ago. Then we got Hop Sing."

There was, then, Hawke reflected, no woman in this immaculately-kept
house, where there seemed to be so many evidences of the feminine touch.
The rough rancher, it seemed, had that strain of tenderness so often
found in outwardly brusque men, which expressed itself in his home.

"This is just the way the house down South looked when mother died,"
said Herb, as if in answer to the visitor's thoughts. "Dad never wants
anything changed. Even her room is the same, and no one ever sleeps in
it. One night we had so many visitors we thought we'd have to use it or
be rude, but father slept in the herder's cottage instead. You'll always
find a bunch of yellow tea roses in her room--she was very fond of them,
and father grows them himself in the greenhouse."

Herb shook his head back with a sudden jerk, as though shaking off a
painful twinge, and passed on to some relics which were hung in the next
room.

"This is General Dupont's sword, and a medal which Napoleon gave him for
his services."

After a few minutes they all returned to the veranda, where they found
Mr. Phipps mixing some purple colored stuff in a huge punch bowl. The
clink of the ice was an agreeable sound, for they were all thirsty.

"This is my own grape juice punch," said Mr. Phipps, as he filled
glasses for the Chinaman to pass around. "My scheme is to have Sing make
it, and set it out here. Then when the guests appear I am stirring it
industriously, as though it were my own job."

Sitting in the shade of the vine-covered veranda, and sipping the iced
punch, it was not long before Mr. Hawke and the boys were thoroughly
refreshed and rested. The aviator felt entirely at home with the
hospitable rancher, and they chatted like old friends. Hawke noticed
that besides holding vases of flowers, the tables were stacked with the
latest magazines and popular books. He caught sight of a New York
newspaper, and some from other parts of the country. There were hanging
baskets suspended from the roof of the veranda, and the whole scene was
restful and quiet, and even luxuriously comfortable.



CHAPTER VI

WINNING AN AEROPLANE


"Well, I see that the boys have got you into this sheep stealing
mystery," began Mr. Phipps, when the glasses had been taken away.
"Another bunch of my sheep killed or ruined last night. It beats the
world what's happening to 'em."

"Fly said they found one of them lying down the road," said Herb.

"I looked him all over," spoke up Carlito, "and it looked to me like
something with big claws had been at him, but he was in such shape that
you couldn't tell for sure. Then there were a lot of magpies feeding on
him when I rode up and the claw marks might have been those of some bird
that had alighted on him after he was dead."

"Well, this thing has got to be stopped someway, somehow." Mr. Phipps
spoke with an emphasis that meant business. "Herb and I have been
talking it over all morning. He says yuh had an idea, Mr. Hawke, we
might chase the thing, whatever it is, with an aeroplane."

"I suggested that to the boys on the assumption that it was a bird,"
replied Mr. Hawke, noticing, with a twinkle in his eye, that the boys
were moving their chairs closer and listening with tense interest.

"We're sure it's a bird," chimed in the enthusiastic Fly. "We were hit
by it ourselves coming from Silver City--and that rancher was picked up
by it. What else could it be? You never see tracks."

"It must be something that flies, anyway," argued Dunk. "Everything
shows that."

"But how could you get around flying after it at night," objected Mr.
Phipps. "It never seems to come around in daytime."

"Oh, Mr. Hawke can fix that," exclaimed Herb confidently.

"With an equipment of acetylene lamps," assented Mr. Hawke. "They would
give all the light we would need."

"But you would probably have to shoot at him," protested Mr. Phipps. "I
don't see how that could be done."

"Carl's the best shot there ever was," assured Jerry. "He can shoot
anything. Even in the dark."

Mr. Phipps and the aviator smiled broadly at this.

"I should think if it were a bird," said the latter, leaning back in his
chair, "the thing would be to chase it to its haunt and trap it."

"That's not a bad idea," agreed Mr. Phipps. "With an aeroplane you could
follow it at its own speed."

"Of course, Mr. Phipps, an aeroplane would not be an inexpensive
proposition, and I do not say it would positively do the work, but the
boys are very much interested in aviation and I suggested that they
might help me build a biplane here which we could use in clearing up
this trouble."

"You mean, let us help in building it?" Herb leaned forward in his chair
while Tender Gray's eyes grew large with excitement.

"That was my thought."

"Dad, that'd be great," exclaimed Herb, his dark cheeks flooding with
deep-hued red. "Let's do it! You said I could have an aeroplane
sometime, anyway."

"I didn't expect to be taken so seriously," laughed Mr. Phipps
good-naturedly, though there was no finality in his tone.

During this conversation the boys had been suppressing their anxiety
with difficulty. Their eager, impulsive faces changed with every new
argument put forth, according to its effect on their project. Only
Carlito, the Indian, sat impassive and solemn. But he was paying strict
attention to all that was said.

"Hawke ain't talking hard enough," protested Fred in an undertone to
Jerry. But Jerry gave him a kick and his lips formed the admonition
"keep still."

"How much would the thing cost?" asked Mr. Phipps. Dunk gave Fly a punch
with his elbow and Fred hitched his chair closer.

"About a fourth the cost of a factory-built machine," answered Hawke.
"You see, I can buy the material at first cost. With the help of the
boys it can be built at the fort and I have an engine of my own which I
can furnish. Altogether, eight hundred dollars would see us through."

"Eight hundred dollars, eh?" Mr. Phipps seemed to be turning the matter
over in his mind.

"But you've lost a thousand dollars' worth of sheep already," urged
Herb, feeling that this was the time to press his strongest arguments.
"If it keeps on we won't have any sheep left. Besides, you know that the
ponies got frightened a little while ago and broke down part of the
corral. What if they'd all get out and run away? They're worth two
thousand dollars themselves. And gee whiz, Dad, think of what I'd learn
in helping to build an aeroplane. Just what I want."

Tender Gray gave Herb's arm a squeeze while the other boys regarded him
with grateful eyes.

"How long would it take to get this material?" asked Mr. Phipps, seeming
to disregard his son's remarks.

"About a week. I can get most of the stuff from Kansas City. The
northern spruce comes from Denver. I'd have to order the bamboo from a
New York house. My engine is at Fort Omaha."

"I suppose you would teach the boys how to run the machine," queried the
rancher, who appeared to have reached his decision and merely wished
further assurance.

"Oh, certainly, that is part of the plan," responded the aviator.

"Well then, go ahead and get things together as soon as you can. But I
guess a government aviator knows his business." Extending his cigar case
to Mr. Hawke, the southerner prepared for a leisurely smoke, as if,
having settled the question, he would worry no more about it. Mr. Hawke
settled back into the depths of his large wicker chair and lighted his
cigar.

The boys, however, did not take the matter so calmly. They broke into
excited yells of delight. Herb and Tender Gray did something like an
Indian war dance on the front steps. Fred was pummelling Jerry with a
will, and Dunk and Fly stood talking with bright eager faces, making
gestures with their hands and arms. The Indian, though he smiled with
satisfaction, sat quietly and looked on.

"Gee, Dad, you're a brick," exclaimed Herb, slapping his father
affectionately on the back.

"I like the enthusiasm of these boys," Hawke told Mr. Phipps, when Herb
had joined his companions. "In all my experience I never came across a
more promising bunch. There isn't a dullard in the lot."

"To tell you the truth," answered the rancher, after a long drag at his
Havana, and regarding with kindly eyes the group at the end of the
veranda, "the idea of showing them how to build the machine appeals to
me about as much as the bird--or man--hunt, although that is an
important factor of course. And I hope you may be able to land the
thief, whoever or whatever it is."

"Say, boys," he added, in a louder tone, "you'd better all stay for
dinner to-night, and we'll have a little moonlight party on the veranda
here--how about it, Mr. Hawke?"

"Sure--you'll stay, won't you, Hawke?" queried Jerry, while all the
others nodded their ready assent to the rancher's proposal. Hawke was
easily induced to fall in with the scheme.

"And by the way," continued Mr. Phipps, "why don't you take Hawke for a
scouting expedition up in the mountains to-morrow, while you're waiting
for your uniforms and the material?"

"We'd just been talking about that," assented Fly. "We thought mebbe
we'd find the place where the bird lives."

Mr. Phipps and the aviator smiled at this naïve response.

"Carlito can take you," said the southerner, "and Herb wants to try out
a new gun he has. Suit you, Mr. Hawke?"

"I'm here on a vacation," responded the aviator. "And anything like that
sounds good to me."

After a while the boys grew more calm, and the party on the veranda
settled down to the quiet of the waning afternoon. Mr. Hawke and the
southerner found topics of conversation in politics, aeronautics and
affairs of the day. The boys separated into groups of two, some reading
or glancing over the illustrated magazines, others talking in low
voices, flipping penknives or whittling. At last the sun sank in a bed
of red, gold and purple behind the tallest mountain peak, lighting up
its snowy whiteness with vivid crimson and yellow, and deluging the sky
with beautifully mingled colors, which gradually trailed off at each
side into faint lavender.

"This is the country for sunsets," said Mr. Phipps, as they sat watching
the beautiful scene. "No king ever wore a more glorious crown than
nature places on that old mountain's brow every evening, shining with
colors as brilliant as the finest gems ever mined."

When the last soft light had dwindled, twilight quietly settled over the
scene, and the stars, like faint sparks of the sun's final salute,
gradually came out clearer against the growing darkness.

It seemed like an interruption when Hop Sing announced dinner, but his
voice broke the spell, and the boys resumed their noisy chatter as they
filed into the house.

"This is Thunder Bird roast lamb," announced Mr. Phipps, as he whetted
the carving knife. "The poor animal escaped the ravages of the destroyer
only to be seized by the cruel headsman and quartered for my pleasure."

The party had seated itself, with some commotion, around the great round
table. The spacious dining room was softly lighted with shaded lamps.
The snowy table cloth, shining glasses and silver, and a huge bunch of
white carnations made the tempting viands look even more appetizing.
There was no formality about the service. Mr. Phipps knew the capacity
of growing boys, and saw that they were helped to liberal quantities of
everything. Hop Sing was kept busy hopping from one side of the table to
the other. The young fellows were entirely at their ease, and did not
hesitate to ask for whatever they wanted, and as much as they desired.

"Hop Sing is some fine cook," said Fly, as the Chinaman good-naturedly
passed him his third helping of mashed potatoes.

The celestial grinned. "Melican show me," he said, pointing to the
rancher.

"Whoopee, what'll Hop say when he sees our aeroplane!" exclaimed Jerry,
and all the boys joined in the laugh that followed.

"He'll want to go to a Chinese heaven in a chop suey bowl sure," said
Herb. "He scrapes in front of his idol whenever he sees an automobile,
which isn't often in these parts."

The subject being thus introduced, considerable talk about the new
aeroplane ensued, and when, happy and satisfied, they all returned to
the veranda, they found Sing putting up the last Japanese lantern.

"Give us some coon songs, Dad," asked Herb, and instantly there was a
clamor from all directions.

"No--I don't do that any more," objected Mr. Phipps, but his misgivings
were overruled when Herb appeared with a banjo and guitar.

"Come on, let's give 'em 'Drag the Chariot,'" coaxed his son, strumming
on the guitar.

The boys, with Hawke, had gathered around the rancher and Herb
expectantly.

"What's this yuh got me into, yuh young scalawag," exclaimed Mr. Phipps,
with mock anger, but he took the banjo and struck up a lively tune.

One song was followed by another, until the whole bunch of boys, unable
to sit still under the enchanting strains, had risen to their feet and
were performing jigs of one style or another. It was soon noticed that
Fred had some skill in this direction, and he was urged to jig "Turkey
in the Straw," and numerous other dances, until he sank down panting for
breath.

In the midst of their festivities there was a series of sharp barks in
the direction of the corral, and then a regular din of neighs from the
horses, violent barking from the dogs, and an occasional bleat.

Mr. Phipps threw his banjo aside and quickly ran down the steps in the
direction of the corral. The others followed him. They found the horses
greatly excited, running pell-mell around the enclosure, almost pushing
each other over, and some of them trying to climb up on the fence. The
dogs were baying, and running about in a confused fashion. Three sheep
had apparently strayed from the herd and were standing by the side of
the corral.

"It's that confounded thing again," exclaimed Mr. Phipps, calling to the
horses to quiet them, while Herb went inside and endeavored to calm
them. After a time the dogs, remembering their offices, got after the
sheep and drove them back to the fold.

"Doesn't look as though there's any damage done, but you'd better get
Mike to go down and look over the sheep."

As Herb went off on this errand, the others returned to the house.

"Bothering the horses too," said Hawke, when they had seated themselves.
"That looks bad."

"Must have been chasin' those three sheep," Mr. Phipps conjectured.

"I looked around, but couldn't see a sign of anything," said Carl.

When Herb came back, he said he had gone down to the sheepfold but, as
far as he could see, there was no further damage there.

After a little further conversation, Carlito and Herb went after the
ponies and led them up to the veranda. Somewhat subdued in spirit, and a
little disturbed, the party started off through the moonlight for the
Fort, after bidding a cordial good night to the hospitable rancher, his
son and Tender Gray.

"Hurry along with that aeroplane, boys," Mr. Phipps called after them,
and the boys cheered and waved their sombreros in reply.



CHAPTER VII

IN THE MOUNTAINS


Early next morning Carlito was waiting for them at an appointed place
with an Indian pack pony. By seven o'clock all the party had assembled,
including Fly, who had succeeded in begging off from work. Each of the
boys had a stock of provisions, a coat as a preparation for the cold of
higher altitudes, fishing tackle, lines and rods, all of which Carlito
strapped on the back and sides of the pony. Each of the boys and Hawke
wore a cartridge belt and carried a stout stick to aid in climbing. Herb
had a brand new service revolver. Fred, Jerry and Hawke carried guns,
Carl carried a bow and arrow, while the others brought rifles. Fred had
a camera and Jerry a field glass.

After an hour's tramp they reached the mountains. Lower down the slopes
the ascent was easy. Patches had been worn by the feet of many
travelers, here and there stepping stones had been roughly cut, no
telling how many generations ago, and other rude steps had been formed
by piling comparatively symmetrical stones upon each other. There were
numbers of deserted cliff dwellings along the ledges, tucked in under
overhanging rocks, and, higher up, perched in perilous spots over deep
ravines and rushing torrents. The largest part of the snow had melted by
this time, and the mountain streams were swollen to their utmost.
Farther down, their descent was not so remarkable, but before the day
was over, the party stood awestruck on the side of many a rocky cliff
and looked below at foaming, seething waters, dashing down the rocky
ways.

They had not gone far when they came across a group of Indians, of which
Tommy was one, squatting on the ground, gambling. There were two squaws
in the group, and they, like the men, were smoking. They were playing
the stave game, Carl explained, and sat, with stolid faces, throwing
their sticks in turn. Occasionally they would allow themselves a grunt
of approval or displeasure, as their luck prompted.

"How's it going?" Carlito asked Tommy, in Mexican.

The Indian shook his head in reply, while one of the others grinned.

After watching them awhile, Carlito, followed by the others, started on.

This was practically Fred's first mountain journey, and he was very much
worked up over the event. The cliff dwellings interested him
exceedingly, and he wanted to explore them all, no matter how dangerous
their approach. He had the eastern boy's desire for relics and kodak
pictures, and in a short while his pockets were half filled with stones
and other things picked up along the way.

"Gee, I wish we could get into that one," he said, pointing to a
particularly lofty cliff dwelling, separated from them by a somewhat
narrow, but deep ravine, and almost hidden by a great projecting rock
and overgrown poplars. But when he worked nearer to the edge, and saw
the rushing water below, and the sharp, jagged rocks that lined the
ravine, he was dissuaded from the idea and satisfied himself by taking a
picture of it.

"A little farther up there's a dandy place to fish," said Carl. "The
water runs easy for quite a ways, and there's lots of trout waiting to
be caught."

"Head for that," commanded Fly, scrambling over a cactus bush which he
had not noticed. "Ow, wow!" he yelled, as some of the sharp thorns
grazed his palm.

"Bring down one of those turkeys," said Jerry to Dunk, as a flock of
wild turkeys flew over their heads.

None of the boys claimed to be expert marksmen, but they soon found that
Hawke deserved that distinction. He succeeded in bringing down one of
the flock Jerry had referred to, though it was flying at a good height.
It was nothing more than the boys naturally expected; in fact, they
would have been disappointed if he had not proved himself excellent in
everything.

"There's just nothin' he can't do," Dunk had said, and in this all the
boys heartily agreed.

"Don't shoot too much before dinner," warned Carl, as though he feared
they might clean out all the game. "We don't want to do much of that
till afternoon. Too heavy to carry."

"Oh, I guess we won't have much of a load," responded Fred, who had made
three unsuccessful attempts.

"I guess I don't know how to handle this new gun," was Herb's excuse,
when he failed to bag his game.

By ten o'clock they had reached the point in the river which Carl
advised was good fishing territory.

"We'll fish till noon," announced Tender Gray, "and then cook 'em."

"Yum, yum," came from several of the boys, who knew what a camp-baked
mountain trout was. "I'm hungry already," said Fly.

"Where's your line, Carl?" asked Fred, when all but the Indian had sat
down and cast their bait.

"I never use one." The Indian was standing with his bow and arrow,
looking intently into the water.

"Just watch him," whispered Jerry.

After that there was little talking. Perhaps there was a little unspoken
competition among the boys for the first catch. Now and then a trout
came up for air, but for a while they seemed to be running the gauntlet
of lines successfully.

Dunk's line caught on some floating weed, which he pulled out with a
"shucks" of disappointment.

Finally there was a whirr and a splash, and Carl's arrow flashed into
the water. When he dragged it to shore with his bow there was a fine big
trout attached to it, speared through the head.

Fred and Hawke watched him with interest, but none of the others paid
much attention. They had frequently seen him catch fish in this way.

"Hullo, there, Windy, what's dragging your line?" yelled Dunk.

Fred had been so busy watching Carl that he hadn't noticed his shaking
line.

"More weed," said Dunk good-humoredly. But Fred fooled him by landing a
fine trout.

Contrary to the expectations of most of the boys, Hawke did not make any
particular mark as a fisherman. He caught but one fish, and that smaller
than the others.

"Guess my luck is going against me," he said, and the boys were very
ready to believe it ill fortune instead of lack of ability.

They had been fishing about an hour and a half, when a loud call from
Carl attracted their attention. The Indian had been scouring the ground
for evidence of game, and had probably found something.

"Come here, fellows," he shouted, "you've got enough fish for dinner."

They all came running over, and examined a freshly dug hole he had
found.

"Now, Boy Scouts, what's that?" asked Hawke, his eyes twinkling.

Tender Gray studied it seriously for a few minutes, and then announced:

"Looks like a shepherd dog might have done it."

"I don't know much about wild animal prints," said Fred, "but I suppose
it was a bear."

"That's a grizzly's trick," said Carl. "He's been digging a root for his
breakfast."

"A grizzly," gasped Tender Gray.

"Do you think you could get him?" exclaimed Fly.

"If I can find his hole," said Carl.

"But how do you know he is there?" asked Herb.

"We'll follow these prints."

The boys and Hawke walked along beside Carl as he pointed out the
footprints of the grizzly. Then he stopped.

"See this little trail where the dirt has been dragged along?" asked
Carl. "Well, that shows he was dragging something in his mouth, and he's
probably gone home to eat it. The marks are fresh, so it wasn't long
ago."

"Wouldn't it be a prize to have a grizzly!" exclaimed Fred.

"You fellows had better wait here for a few minutes, till I see if I can
find his hole," instructed the Indian. "If I can find that, we're sure
of getting him or of him getting us."

"Suppose he gets after you, Carl. Better fire a signal," said Fly
anxiously.

"He can't fire with his bow and arrow, bone-head," gibed Herb.

"I'll just shout," said Carl. "But I can get around him all right.

"I hope Carl don't kill him before we get a chance," said Fred, when the
Indian was out of sight.

"He won't unless he has to," said Jerry. "He's a mighty square fellow."

"Wouldn't mother have a fit if I should bring back a bear. And the
scouts in Cleveland!" Fred's bright eyes shone with the prospect. In
imagination he had already laid the grizzly low.

Carl finally came back with the news that he had found the cave.

"Now you just follow me--and don't make any noise. I'm going to walk way
around and come up behind the cave--you follow. Keep still."

The Indian started off like a stealthy panther, scarcely moving a leaf
or twig. He leapt with the agility of a cat over rocks that lay in his
path, and was obliged to pause now and then for the rest of the party to
catch up, as they had considerable more difficulty. The low branches
were inclined to swish as they passed, and it was not an easy matter to
avoid crackling dry leaves and twigs underfoot. They fell and scrambled
over rocks, and unlucky Fly got into another bunch of cactus.

Finally they came to an open space, and Carl pointed to a formation of
rock.

"In front of that is a hole," he whispered. "That's where the grizzly
is. Crawl up on top of the rock, over the hole, and get your guns ready.
Aim just as soon as you get a chance at him."

The boys, though they were stout-hearted fellows, followed nervously.
Hawke had trailed and shot grizzlies before, and, though his sporting
blood was aroused, he was willing to stand aside and let the boys try
for the game. All of the other boys, except Fred and Tender, had
previously been close to live grizzlies, but only Carl had actually
trailed one.

The rock was large enough for all to climb upon, squat down and hold
their guns. Not one of the boys was at all afraid, yet the excitement
made their hearts beat fast, and in their eagerness to succeed, they
held their guns with rather unsteady hands.

Carl leaned over the edge of the rock, and deliberately yelled into the
mouth of the cave. There was a low growl as he sprang back, but, after
waiting several minutes, no grizzly appeared.

The Indian boy then took a coat which he had brought along, and dropped
it down in front of the grizzly's hole.

There was another growl, stronger than the first. And then another. It
is difficult to describe the feelings of the boys as they sat there,
almost on top of a real grizzly, and a live one at that. Yet they dared
not speak, and could only sit still, everyone at high tension, until
something, they scarcely dared think what, happened. They felt a measure
of safety, however, with Carl and Hawke along.

Finally the grizzly came out and sat down on the coat, looking around.
Then he raised himself on his haunches, and smelt the air. Just as he
caught sight of the boys, Carl whispered as loudly as he could--

"Now!"

Two guns boomed--Herb's and Fred's. The big animal rolled over with a
furious growl, and lay kicking for a second. Then he regained his feet,
and, his teeth and red gums showing, was about to make a spring at the
party on the rocks. Jerry could not suppress a shriek, and Fly was too
excited to do anything but cling to Dunk. Hawke, however, was quick
enough for the animal. He let him have it just before Carl's arrow
wedged itself in the animal's forehead.

This time the grizzly rolled over for good, and gave very few parting
kicks.

Carl sprang down from his point of vantage, and gave the bear a violent
push with his foot, almost rolling him over on his back.

The blood was flowing freely from the wounds, while the grizzly's open
mouth filled with froth and blood, and his glazed eyes told plainly that
he had dug his last root.

"Is he sure dead?" asked Fly, who with Jerry and Dunk, had remained on
the rock for safety.

"Did you ever see a live grizzly act like that?" returned Herb, poking
the animal in the side to show that he, at least, was not afraid.

At this show of bravery all the boys came nearer.

"Well, let's carry him to camp," ordered Carl, and, under his direction,
the boys found two stout sticks which they run through the bear's feet,
one through the fore and one through the hind feet where Carl had made
slits. When they got him back to their camp they strapped him on the
pony and prepared for dinner.



CHAPTER VIII

THE STORM


"Gee, I could eat bear meat raw," exclaimed Fly. "Fur and all."

"Well, get busy, put on this grub," ordered Jerry.

Hawke made himself one of the boys, put on the wooden plates, helped
clean the fish, and broiled two of them.

The Indian had made a good fire of twigs which he had gathered, and had
buried some of the fish underneath in the sand, to bake, throwing
potatoes into the fire to roast.

"Look, fellows, mother put in a homemade cake," announced Jerry, setting
a tempting chocolate-covered cake on the papers which served as a table
cloth.

"Doughnuts and pickles," announced Fly, filling some wooden plates.

"Wow, chili sauce--hot--for baked fish."

"Con carni for anybody that wants it--I don't," put in Herb.

"Bread," "Sandwiches," "Olives," and so on each boy announced gayly as
his contribution to the feast, and, when they finally sat down in a
circle, they proved their keen appetites by the way things disappeared.

There was not much conversation during the meal. They were all too
hungry to talk.

"What's the use of hunting any more, fellows?" said Dunk, at last, when
there was some show of abatement on the part of the diners. "We can't do
much better'n a grizzly."

"What if we should get a deer," encouraged Tender Gray. "I saw some
prints around here."

"Suppose you know as much about deer prints as bear prints," teased
Herb, remembering Tender's mistake.

"I guess those were our pony's prints," said Fly, helping Herb along.

There was a general laugh, which Tender took in good part. "Well, I
ain't been a scout very long," he apologized.

"We're hunting for a thunder bird, too, you must remember," reminded
Dunk. "Wish't some of you could read tracks in the air."

"Let's look around and see which way we're goin' this afternoon,"
suggested Jerry, producing his spyglass.

"There's pretty thick timber in that direction," said Carl, as Jerry
pointed east.

All the boys had a turn at the glass. "That's a funny looking rock up
there," said Fred, looking westward. "Looks like a cliff dwelling."

"You've got cliff dwellin's on the brain," remarked Fly. "That's nothin'
but a rock."

"You look and see. If that ain't windows in there I'm a fish." Fred
handed Fly the spyglass.

"Well, it does look kind of queer," admitted Fly. "You look, Hawke."

"Looks to me like a tower," announced the aviator, when he had studied
the spot for some time.

"Like a square tower with windows!" prompted Fred, glad to have his
suspicions confirmed.

"I guess that's one of these lookout towers," said Carl, when he
inspected it. "Pretty high up, though."

"Let's go up that way," suggested Herb. "Might as well as any other.
Looks easier to climb, too."

"I'd like to get a picture of it to take home too," said Fred, whereupon
Jerry grabbed his hat, and gave him a tussle for it.

"Don't you want one of the windows for a souvenir," joked the
Southerner. "Gee, I wish I'd gone into the souvenir business before you
came. I'd gotten rich off of you."

It was finally decided, however, to follow the direction Fred had
chosen, principally because it seemed to be less thickly timbered.

It was a problem what to do with the pony. He would stand without
tethering, but he might be bothered by wild animals.

Carl, however, soon solved the problem by clearing the ground for
several feet around him, and then, gathering twigs and sticks, piled
them around the pony in a wide circle. He then set fire to them, and,
after they had a good start, smothered the flames carefully so they
emitted a thin line of smoke.

"I think that'll keep most animals away," he said, as they started for
the climb.

"It wouldn't take us long to get up there if we had our aeroplane," said
Fly. "Would it, Hawke?"

"It won't be many moons before we have it now," responded the aviator.
"I've ordered all the supplies, and I telegraphed to New York this
morning so they'd make an extra special rush on that bamboo."

"How many will it carry?" asked Jerry. "Can we all go?"

"I'm figuring on using a special patent of my own," said Hawke. "I have
a certain device which I have worked out which will so equalize the
balance that I believe I can carry six in safety. Ordinarily, three is
about the limit."

"Gee, I'm glad of that," put in Herb. "I'd like to have all the fellows
on."

"You'll all have plenty of it, turn about," said Hawke. "Besides, I'm
not saying anything, but I believe, when I get to work on the thing, I
can fix it so we can take more. But I don't want to hold out any false
hopes."

"Do you think we can build it in two weeks?" asked Jerry. "That seems
pretty good for amateurs."

"Not for such energetic young fellows as you," responded Hawke, smiling.
"And there's enough of us, if we all work hard."

"I'll work hard, all right--we all will," exclaimed Tender Gray.

"You bet," chimed in Dunk.

They had come to a rather difficult climbing place, and had to depend a
good deal on their sticks as boosters. By catching hold of shrubs and
pushing one another, they finally gained the top of a rather high point,
with almost perpendicular ascent.

They found themselves almost on the edge of a cataract, which they had
heard roaring for some time. The foaming water was rushing down in great
cascades, sending up white spray as fine as steam.

"Let's see that thing now," said Fred, borrowing Jerry's glass.

"If that's a rock I'll eat it," he added.

Hawke also made another examination, and said as before that it looked
like a cliff dwelling or tower.

"It's quite a ways up there yet," he said. "We'd better get a move on
us."

They entered a heavy growth of timber shortly, and Carl was obliged to
come and take the lead. It was beginning to get cold, and all the boys
had put on their coats.

"It's most three, ain't it?" asked Jerry, who had not brought his watch.

Hawke took out his timepiece and said, "Just three." Then he added: "Do
you think we can make this to-day?"

"We can tell better when we get out of these woods," answered Carl. "I
think you'll be quite near it then."

In a short while they reached the outskirts of the timber growth, and,
as Carl had predicted, found themselves very near the spot they had
aimed for. They could see it plainly now, a sort of square dwelling or
tower, the base of it thickly covered with various green shrubs and
vines. But they were hopelessly separated from it by a deep and wide
ravine, down which rushed a great torrent of roaring water.

"Guess we can't get at that," said Herb after they had stood for some
time silent on the bank of this cataract. "Let's go back--unless Fred
wants to take a picture."

"It's gettin' kind of dark for that," said Fred. At this remark the
others suddenly noticed that the sun had disappeared behind a cloud and
the sky looked black.

"Say," exclaimed Fly, "that looks like a pretty ugly cloud over there."

"What if there should be a bully storm?" exclaimed Jerry, eager for the
excitement.

"Gee, I was in a mountain storm once," recounted Herb, "and it was
great. There was a couple of tenderfeet with us, and they was scared to
death. Yuh scared, Windy?"

"Naw," replied Fred scornfully. "Anyhow, looks as though the sun has
just gone behind a cloud and will soon be out again."

"Kind o' cold," complained Fly, buttoning his coat. "Say, I wonder--" he
stopped, for there was an ominous rumble among the darkening clouds
which were hurriedly crowding together like a dark-clad army maneuvering
for a sudden attack.

"That's old man Thor," said Dunk, who was something of a poet at times,
and had read more extensively than the average boy of his age. "He's
gettin' ready to hit us between the eyes. Ain't you awful afraid,
Tender?"

Just then a blinding streak of fire cut its zigzag way through the black
sky, lighting up every peak and crevice, followed by a sharp crack that
broadened into a deafening roar and made the boys jump with surprise.

"We're in for it, all right," said Herb laughing. "My, this is going to
be terrible, Windy," he added with mock solemnity.

They stood not far from the cavernous ravine, where, almost beneath
them, they could hear the water tearing over the rocks. Soon a swift,
strong wind rushed out of the forest behind them, the trees bending and
swaying helplessly before the mighty torrent of air.

"There goes my hat," cried Jerry, as his sombrero was swept from his
head.

"No use going after that," laughed Hawke, for the hat was speedily blown
over the precipice and whirled down into the ravine. The other boys
quickly pulled their headgear down more securely.

"That old tower looks like a picture," exclaimed Dunk, as a bolt of
lightning lit up the ancient structure and painted its somber walls with
a vivid light more brilliant than sunshine.

"Why don't you take a picture of it, Windy?" asked Tender.

"Fine idea," exclaimed the Clevelander, adjusting his camera. "I never
had a chance to take a flashlight like this."

Almost as he spoke there was a report like that of a huge gun, and an
accompanying line of fire.

"Did you see that, fellows?" exclaimed Fred, when the noise had died
down.

"What?" came in a chorus from the boys.

"Didn't you see it?" Fred repeated.

"What yuh talkin' about?" asked Herb, a little impatiently.

"Was you looking?"

"Come across, Windy," exclaimed Fly. "What are you driving at anyhow?"

Before the Clevelander had time to reply to this question, they were
startled by a most peculiar shriek which pierced the air, and seemed to
cut to the very marrow of their bones.

It came only once, but left the party hushed and silent.

"Must be an eagle," said Carl finally, "though it's the fiercest I ever
heard."

"What was it you saw, Fred," asked Hawke.

"Well, when that light came, and I snapped the picture, I thought I saw
something big and black floating around over there by that old tower."

"I didn't see nothing and I was lookin'!" deprecated Tender, doubtfully.

"Did you see it, Hawke?" persisted the young photographer.

"I blinked my eyes when the lightning flashed," replied the aviator.

"Well, I tell you I saw something." Fred spoke with conviction. "And it
looked like a bird."

"Maybe it was--the one that yelled," said Dunk.

"The Thunder Bird, maybe," shouted Carl.

"Gee!" said several of the boys at once.

"I'll bet we're near his shrine," continued Fred excitedly, "and he's
raising this storm."

"Aw, come off, you're dreamin'," discouraged Tender, though half
convinced.

"I didn't see nothin' either," added Jerry, unwilling to admit that he
was a little scared at the supernatural aspect things were taking.

"Maybe the picture will show," said Hawke.

Bang--a cannon seemed to be hurling great balls against an iron wall
with a shock that reverberated in all directions. The tumult became so
continuous as to make conversation impossible, and the frequent flashes
of light gave the timber the appearance of being on fire. The boys stood
silent, rather enjoying the spectacle, though they were shivering with
cold.

After a while the clouds spent their gathered energy and the rain fell
in great torrents. Very soon the boys were drenched to the skin, but
there seemed no escape. To go into the timber was dangerous, and
blocking them in front was the yawning chasm.

"If we could only get at that old cliff dwellin'," suggested Fly, "we
might find cover."

"We'll have to wait until we get our airship, to do that," laughed
Hawke.

"There's a big rock down here," said Carl, returning from a short
excursion which he had made along the side of the cascade, looking for
shelter. "I think we can crowd under it till this is over."

The others hastily followed him, and were soon shielded from the rain
under a huge, projecting boulder situated almost perilously on a smaller
rock.

There they waited for some time, and about five o'clock the storm abated
as quickly as it had arisen.

"Wonder where our pony is by this time!" speculated Fred.

"No telling," answered the Indian boy. "I'm afraid he's gotten scared
and run away."

"With the grizzly!" Tender's tone was regretful.

They started back in the gray light of the obscured sun. Hawke hurried
them, having an older person's concern for their welfare, and fearing
they might suffer some bad results from wet clothing and cold.



CHAPTER IX

A STRANGE MEETING


"There ain't no chance of our pony's bein' there," remarked Tender,
thinking more of the grizzly than anything else. "They'll think we're
tellin' a fish story about that bear."

"If it was my own pony," said Carlito, "I wouldn't be afraid to bet my
best quiver that he'd still be there. This one I don't know."

Their homeward journey was somewhat different from the climb upward. The
ground was soggy and wet with soaked leaves and mud, while water
constantly dripped upon them as they passed under the trees. The sun,
now setting just above the peak, gave a wan light through a half-mist,
half-fog, which had arisen. They were still in rather high altitude, and
the air was moist and cold. Creeping things, frightened into their holes
by the storm, now ventured forth and skimmed across the ground
frequently, disappearing again under the scraggy underbrush.

"Soon be time for the bats and owls," observed Dunk, as a surprised
lizard hurried across their path.

Though they were all damp and chilled and anxious to regain their
original camp, the boys kept up a cheerful conversation all the way.

"Funny you fellows didn't see that bird," said Fred.

"There wasn't no bird," twitted Jerry. "You just blinked your eyes when
that flash came, and dreamt the rest."

"On the square though, fellows," seriously commented Herb, "Fred may be
right, and that old tower may be the very place we're lookin' for."

"It's worth while thinking about," said Hawke. "We'll fly up there
anyway, as soon as we get the aeroplane going."

"Seems to me that's too good to be true," reflected Fly. "I never
thought, when I was readin' all that stuff about machines, that I was
goin' to see a real one, and help build it myself."

His tone was so droll that some of the others laughed. "Give Fly a
handkerchief," groaned Tender. "He wants to blubber, he does."

"Don't feel so bad about it, old boy," comforted Jerry. "Maybe the train
with the stuff on it'll be wrecked, or Hawke'll change his mind, or
we'll find out that it's been Greasers doin' the dirty work."

"Guess I'm kind of a howler," admitted Fly. "But watch me work when we
get at that plane."

Just then Carlito picked up a long, thin snake, which had wiggled across
the ground in front of him, and, swinging it around and around by its
tail, sent it whizzing through space.

"Nothing but a garter snake," he explained, laughing, as Gray
unconsciously ducked his head, and Fred gasped with astonishment. "I
usually twist their heads off."

"Wonder you don't get your foot in it some time, Carl," declared Fred.
"Ain't you afraid of nothin'?"

"No bad luck can happen to me," said Carl confidently, though with a
smile. "See this?" He pulled out from under his wet shirt a string to
which was fastened a large blue and white streaked stone bead.

"What's that?" asked several of the boys.

"A charm. Taken from the grave of one of my ancestors. There were just
two in our tribe, and an old squaw gave it to me before I came to the
Fort. Some one else in the family has the other one. She said it was the
family charm and nothing could happen to me as long as I wore it."

Hawke smiled at this characteristic explanation, but the boys took it
very seriously.

"Remember anything about your father, Carl?" asked the aviator,
interested in the story nevertheless.

"They told me he was the bravest man in his tribe, and the swiftest
runner. They wanted to make him chief, but his older brother, who was
not so well liked, wanted to be made chief also and grew jealous of my
father. One day a party of them went out on a hunt, and my father was
separated from the bunch. They found him later in the forest, lying face
downward with an arrow straight through him. Everybody thought my uncle
did it. He went away soon after."

"What about the old squaw?" inquired Gray.

"Oh, she died just before I came here. She was over a hundred. I have
her old pipe. She gave me a lot of things that were my father's--a fine
quiver and his bow. I remember what she said when she gave it to me.
'Your father was a brave man and a great hunter,' she said. 'See that
you do not disgrace him.' I have the arrow that killed him, and the
blanket which my mother wove. They're in my room at the fort."

By this time the mist had lifted and the sun had gone down. They were
walking in a narrow passage which almost amounted to a gorge. Huge
jagged rocks jutted out here and there on either side, many of them
squeezing between them some deserted cliff dwelling. Rugged brown shrubs
clung stubbornly to the sides or grew sparsely on the surface wherever
they could find soil. The whole scene was softened by the warm colors of
the departing sunlight.

"Good-bye pony!" exclaimed Fred, when they reached the spot where they
had left the animal.

"Nowhere in sight," added Fly.

"Call him, Carl," urged Herb.

The Indian gave a series of calls, but there was no response. The wind
and rain had entirely annihilated any trace of the fire they had made
for the pony's protection.

"Maybe he doesn't answer to a call," said Carl. "Or maybe I didn't have
the right one. Just for fun I'll try an old one."

More in jest than in earnest he emitted a peculiar weird sound, based on
several tones of the scale.

No answering whinny came. "I didn't think he'd know that anyway," said
the boy. "I never heard it but once. An old chief taught it to me and
said it used to be my father's call."

"Let's scour around a little," suggested Gray.

"All right. You stay here, and I'll see what I can find," replied Carl
turning to the left. But he stopped short. In front of him stood a tall,
stately, blanketed Indian. His whole face was hideously painted in
various colors running in stripes backward from the nose, across his
forehead and chin. His arms were folded, and his countenance was set and
expressionless. A flashing pair of beadlike eyes, almost snaky, were
fastened on Carl.

[Illustration: Carl stopped short. In front of him stood a tall,
stately, blanketed Indian. His whole face was hideously painted in
various colors, and his countenance was set and expressionless.]

"Whilligers, where'd he come from!" whispered Fred, as the boys stood
perplexed and amazed at this apparition. Nobody had heard him approach,
or seen him, until they discovered him standing like a carved statue,
coolly regarding Carl.

"Hello, what do you want?" chirruped Carl, cheerfully, not at all
abashed.

The older Indian drew himself straighter, if possible, and replied in
his own tongue, which Carl afterwards said was original Apache.

"Where did you learn that call?" demanded the tall stranger, almost
fiercely.

"It belonged to my tepee," responded the boy.

"You Apache?"

"Yes."

"Umph," grunted the Indian, and stood silently, with his penetrating
eyes fixed on Carl.

"You are no true Apache," he said finally. "You wear the clothes of the
palefaces, and live with them. You hunt with them. You care nothing for
the trials and sufferings of your fathers--the big chiefs in the land of
the happy hunting ground."

Carl said nothing, but watched his critic curiously. He had
unconsciously drawn himself up to his full height, and, though slighter,
his form matched in symmetry, grace and stateliness that of the older
man.

"I bring back to my people the religion of their fathers," continued the
stranger. And he threw open his blanket. Carl and the others started,
almost with horror. The broad, brown chest was entirely tattooed in
flaming vermilion with the design of a huge and ferocious form of an
eagle.

"I go to look for the Thunder Bird and his shrine," said the Indian,
wrapping himself again, and pointing majestically upward. "My people
shall worship him again, and thus shall I gain favor with the Great
Spirit whom I have displeased."

He turned and started off in the direction from which the boys had come.

Suddenly he stopped short and turned back. "Where is your tepee?" he
demanded of Carl.

"At the fort."

"The tepee where you learn the call?" impatiently reiterated the
questioner.

"In the far-away country," answered the Indian boy. "I do not remember
now. I was taken away when a child."

The older Indian looked at him steadily, as though he would penetrate
the boy's soul and read the history of his life. Then he grunted and
went on.

"Well, I never saw him before," was Carl's first remark, as the
retreating figure disappeared around a bend. Then he translated to the
boys the queer conversation.

"And he's looking for the Thunder Bird," repeated Hawke. "That does seem
odd, doesn't it?"

"He went in the direction of the tower, too," put in Fred, glad to have
his contention strengthened by this occurrence.

"Acts to me as though he'd sort of lost his mind," went on Carl. "Some
of the Indians get to thinking about their wrongs until they go bugs."

"Better lookin' than any of the old Indians around here," remarked Dunk,
thinking of wizened and wrinkled old Tommy.

"Funny he knew that old call," reflected Carl. "Wonder where he came
from anyhow?"

"Well, I suppose he'll turn up again, if he's wandering around here
long," commented Jerry. "Looks kind of savage."

"Anyhow, that's not findin' our pony," reminded Fly, and Carl started
off to explore the near-by timber.

"Or gettin' home and gettin' warm," added Herb, registering the first
complaint.

"If Fly don't dry his hair it'll get rustier," chimed in Jerry.

"Might as well go back," advised Carl, returning from a short,
unsuccessful search. "No use of us standing around here shivering. Maybe
our friend the big chief took him along."

"Perhaps he thought he was white man's property and would take him for
some of the debts we owe the race," suggested Herb. "But I don't care
for nothin' but the grizzly."

Two hours later, when they reached the fort, dirty, tired, muddy and
damp, they found, to their great surprise, lying on the captain's front
porch, stretched out at full length, the dead bear.

"Hello, fellows," shouted Captain Crawford, coming out of the house. "We
were getting worried about you. Glad you showed up. The pony came back,
and I see you got acquainted with a grizzly."

The ladies appeared in the doorway, while Jerry's father went over and
gave the bear a push with his foot.

"That's a beaut," he exclaimed. "Who bagged him?"

"Hawke," came the instant response.

"We all did," corrected the aviator. "And we had a great time doin' it."

"Gee, we've had a corker of a day," exclaimed Jerry. "Lots of things
happened."

"Get inside here now," ordered the captain, and the ladies quickly
approved this advice. "Take off your wet duds. Jerry, give the boys some
clean things."

"Guess we'll go home," said Fly, speaking for Carl and Dunk. "Say," he
added, anxious to break the news, "we think we've found the Thunder Bird
nest."

"You better get under cover before you catch the rheumatics," laughed
the captain.

It was nearly dusk now, and the white moon had appeared in the east,
floating gently over restless, shifting clouds, but the evening was as
serene and clear as if it had succeeded a calm, uneventful day.

After putting on an outfit of dry clothes, Herb and Tender started for
the ranch, where they found Mr. Phipps waiting for them, and Hop on hand
to take care of their wants. After some warm broth they sat up late into
the night relating the day's events to the interested rancher.

As for Carl, he sat up for an hour studying as was his custom, then lay
awake for some time staring thoughtfully into the darkness of his little
room, which was a small one over Fly's machine shops.

"Wonder who that Indian was," he pondered. "A real Apache, and he knew
that old call. Lookin' for the Thunder Bird. What if he had known my
folks?" But soon his thoughts trailed off into dreamland, and he slept
as only active boys can, until another day of promise dawned. For every
sunrise in the life of a boy foretells a day of events.



CHAPTER X

THE PATROL BECOMES A FACT


When Ike returned from his customary daily trip to Silver City the
following Wednesday morning, he brought with him two large boxes
addressed to Herb Phipps, and a letter for Fred bearing the return
address of a large Boy Scout furnishings firm.

"I'll bet it's the uniforms," exclaimed Jerry, referring to the boxes.
"See what the letter says, Windy."

"Guess it's answerin' the letter I wrote 'em about the patrol," remarked
Fred, tearing open the envelope.

"Yep," he announced, "it's from the scout commissioner at Albuquerque.
Listen to this:

     "'Dear Sir:'" (Fred swelled his chest, and looked very
     dignified.) "'I am glad to know that you have formed a scout
     patrol at Fort Bayard and I certainly wish you every success. I
     am sending under separate cover a Boy Scout Handbook for each
     member of your patrol, badges bearing the insignia of an Eagle,
     the nearest thing that we can get to the name of your patrol.
     Learn the call of the eagle, if you do not know that of the
     thunder bird, as it is the signal of your patrol. You will also
     receive a flag with a picture of your patrol animal stamped on
     each side.

     "'I happen to be acquainted with Mr. Hawke, who is sojourning
     in Fort Bayard. He would make a capital scout master and I am
     asking him by this mail to accept that appointment. I am sure
     he will be of great assistance to you in training the members
     of your band, and in helping them to earn merit badges and
     medals, for I know you are all ambitious to gain as many as you
     can.

     "'Yours very truly,

     "'GEORGE STANTON,
     "'_Scout Comm'r._'"

"Whoopee, what do you think of that?" yelled Fred, throwing up his hat.
"With Hawke to help us we'll make a crackerjack out of this patrol and
run them out of merit badges and medals. Maybe I can get the eagle
medal."

"What's that?"

"It's the medal they award to the scout gettin' twenty-one merit badges.
You know I only have four now," answered Fred.

"Let's call up Herb before Ike starts over to his place, and tell him
the things have come."

"All right," assented Fred eagerly, as he followed Jerry into the house
and to the telephone.

"Hello, Herb," called Jerry, when he had obtained the connection.
"Things doing over here at the Fort."

"That so? What now?"

"Think the uniforms are here--at least there are two big boxes--one from
Kansas City and another from New York."

"Gee whiz," shouted the southerner. "That's what they are, all right.
Dad got a letter yesterday sayin' they'd be here soon. Say, yuh just
hold 'em till Tender and I get over there; we're just gettin' ready to
ride over to the fort."

"All right. Hurry up. Got somethin' else to tell you," said Jerry,
remembering Hawke's appointment.

"What is it?" asked Herb eagerly.

"Just wait till you get over here," teased Jerry.

"All right, stingy."

"And say, Herb, father's got some business on hand this morning with a
fellow from San Jose. Guess we can't have the mix-up here; makes too
much noise. Let's have Ike take the boxes to Carl's room."

"That's fine. And don't open 'em till we get there. Tender an' I will be
over in a jiffy."

"Fine work!" declared Carl heartily, when Jerry and Fred called on him
and informed him that the uniforms had arrived. "Sure, bring them all
over here."

"I'll go and get Dunk and Fly," volunteered Jerry; "Fred can look around
at your things," for he noticed that his companion had already begun an
inspection of Carl's small library.

The Indian had built a workmanlike row of shelves around his room, and
these were crowded with books of all sorts, some of which he had bought
out of his scant earnings, and some of which had been given him.
Everybody at the Fort knew that Carl was what they termed a "bookworm"
and at Christmas he was well remembered with the article he craved.
There was very little fiction, but Fred found ten grammars, six
arithmetics, four histories--two of the United States--spellers,
algebras, two biographies of Lincoln and Franklin, and the life stories
of nearly all the great men of America. There were even text books on
chemistry, astronomy and architecture, for, in his thirst for knowledge
the young Indian found all subjects attractive. The Clevelander was also
surprised to find a Bible, which his interest prompted him to open and
examine. There were marginal notes in a youthful hand, presumably Carl's
writing, and passages underscored.

The Indian boy then, thought Fred, was as straight and true as his
stature, and the high degree of honor which the boys and all at the Fort
ascribed to him was well deserved.

There was a cot and several chairs in the room, all of which had been
made by Carl himself. A worn blanket was stretched across the spotless
floor. In one corner stood an old bow over six feet long, the one Carl
had spoken of as belonging to his father.

There was but one picture, and it puzzled Fred somewhat. It was a large
engraving of an imposing structure, much like a university building.
There was no inscription, and the style of engraving stamped it as old.

"What's this?" he asked Carl, who was stringing his bow and seeming to
take no notice of Fred's examination.

"One of the soldiers here gave it to me and said it was the college he
graduated from. I like to look at it." Then in answer to Fred's look of
inquiry, the Indian added: "It helps me to save my pennies when I want
to spend them for a traveling show at Silver City."

"Helps you save your pennies?" puzzled Fred, not comprehending the
Indian's meaning.

"Yes. I'm trying to earn enough to go to a real school when I'm twenty.
Never too late, you know. I've been through the grammar grades."

"You have!" exclaimed Fred. "I thought the boys told me you hadn't been
to school."

"Correspondence school," explained Carlito. "Here's my certificate."

He had arisen and taken a long envelope from the top drawer of the
chest.

The certificate testified that Carlito had satisfactorily passed all
examinations, and was a full-fledged graduate of the correspondence
school.

"How did you do it?" exclaimed Fred, his frank eyes shining with
admiration. Just then Jerry, Fly and Dunk came into the room.

"Do what?" inquired Jerry.

"I was looking at Carlito's certificate," replied Fred, assuming that
the other boys had seen it.

"Oh, I studied nights a little, and whenever I got a chance," answered
Carl, modestly.

"A little!" echoed Fly. "He just studied his old head off."

"Why didn't you go to college when Phipps wanted you to, Carl?" asked
Dunk. "He was willin' to pay your way."

"I was afraid I could never pay him back," said Carl. "An Indian has no
business owing anything to a white man, anyway."

"Here's Herb and Tender," shouted Fly, who had gone to the window.

The southerner and his cousin were soon in the room, hot and perspiring
from their rapid ride over.

"Good mornin', gentlemen," greeted the rancher's son cheerfully,
throwing aside his hat, and pouring out a glass of water from a pitcher
which stood on the table. "Have a drink, anybody? No? Then I'll drink it
myself," and he drained the glass. Carl quickly brought another one for
Tender Gray.

"Make room for Ike," ordered Herb, as the darky came laboring up the
stairs, a huge box on his back. The boys met him at the landing, and
helped him to deposit his heavy load on the floor.

"Dere's some more," announced Ike. "Greaser just brought one over for
Mr. Fred Windham."

"What's that," exclaimed the latter in surprise. "Oh, I guess it's that
stuff Mr. Stanton spoke about in the letter," he recollected.

"Yuh fellahs must be gwine to start a store foh sure," exclaimed Ike, as
he dropped the second box with a thud.

"Look out--that one was full of ripe watermelon," responded Gray.

"Oh, golly," groaned the negro, "An' I 'most drapt it."

"Be very careful of the next one," warned Jerry, with mock seriousness.
"It's loaded with spring chickens."

"Oh, das easy--I'll jes' open de box and let 'em fly up," answered the
darky, dodging the hat which Gray pitched after him.

"Eeny, meeny, miny, mo--which one shall we open first?" queried Herb,
when the three boxes had been set down in the room.

"Let me do it," volunteered Ike, with some curiosity, but a hasty chorus
of protest stopped him.

"We want to do it ourselves," explained Fly. "It's more fun."

"You'er gwine to litter up this here room scan'lous," was the negro's
comment, as he departed regretfully.

"I'll clean that up," hastily assured Carl.

"The big one first," urged Dunk.

"All hands on deck," ordered Herb.

"Say, Windy," interrupted Jerry, halting the proceedings. "Show the kids
your letter."

"I clean forgot that," ejaculated the eastener, pulling a soiled
envelope out of his pocket.

"I been readin' it," he explained guiltily, referring to its murky
condition.

Work on the boxes was suspended for a few minutes, while Fred read the
letter aloud.

"Things sure are comin' our way," said Herb, when the general shout of
approval had died down. "Where's Hawke this morning?"

"I saw him right after breakfast, and he said he was coming over. He got
the letter about being scout master, and--"

"There he is now," broke in Carlito, hearing a firm step on the stairs.

"Howdy, fellows," hailed the aviator, as he came into the already
crowded room.

"Good morning, Scout Master," greeted Dunk, bowing low, while the other
boys followed suit.

"I see I have another job on my hands now," said Hawke, good-naturedly,
"But then I don't think you'll be hard to train."

"We're sure glad you're going to be one of the bunch," answered Herb
cordially.

"These are our scout outfits," explained Fred, noticing that Hawke was
regarding the packing boxes with wrinkled brows.

"Just going to open them," added Fly, anxious to get at the work.

"Let me help," exclaimed Hawke, peeling off his light coat, and rolling
up his shirt sleeves before any protest could be made.

For the next few minutes they busied themselves with the lid of the
largest box.

"Uniforms," they shouted, when Herb had opened one of the smaller
pasteboard boxes of which there were a number contained in the larger
enclosure.

"This is yours, Fly," he added, noting the name and measurements which
were pinned on the trousers.

As the packages were properly labeled, each boy was soon in possession
of his own suit.

After a quick but admiring inspection of the outfits, the second box was
eagerly torn open. It contained a hospital corps pouch for each boy,
penknives, haversacks, mess kits, signal flags, whistles, sanitary
drinking cups, canteens, Red Cross first aid outfits, camp supplies, and
last, but not least, seven brand new shining Remingtons.

Each new article was met with shouts of delight and surprise.

"I don't remember ordering these," gasped Fred, when at last they had
reached the bottom of the box.

"Oh, dad thought yuh might as well have a good supply," explained Herb,
"so he wrote to a friend of ours in New York and got these to surprise
yuh."

"Ain't your father never going to quit doing things for us kids?" asked
Dunk, stroking the slender, glittering barrel of his new gun.

"I wish we could do somethin' real fine for him," chipped in Jerry.

"Dad don't want thanks. He just likes to be doin' somethin' for somebody
all the time," Herb assured them. "He always was that way."

"Well, we're certainly going to get after that sheep stealer," declared
Carl.

"You bet," echoed Fly, with a will.



CHAPTER XI

A SURPRISE FOR MR. PHIPPS


The third box, addressed to Fred, proved to be from Mr. Stanton,
containing the handbooks, badges and patrol flag.

After distributing the badges, and admiring the flag, each of the boys
made a hasty examination of his book.

"How we goin' to learn about first aid to the injured?" inquired Gray.

"Oh, dad'll teach you that," responded Dunk readily. "He said he would."

"And Hawke's going to teach us aviation, and Carl can show us trailing,"
began Jerry.

"And my dad'll show you craftsmanship and machinery, and we all know
swimming," cut in Fly.

"Whoopee, fellows," shouted Fred, "we've got nearly all the badges now!"

"Who knows all the states in the union?" asked Hawke with a smile,
reading from the Scout Handbook.

It was found that only Carl and Fred could stand this test.

"Who can tie a bowline knot?" demanded Dunk.

"Say, this ain't no schoolroom," objected Jerry. "I see we've got to
work some for those badges," he added thoughtfully, "but it's fun just
the same."

"Tell you what we'll do," burst out Herb suddenly, throwing down his
book, his dark eyes snapping.

The boys were ready in an instant for anything he might suggest.

"Let's get on all these duds," proposed the rancher, "have a regular
scout tramp over to the ranch and surprise dad with a dressed-up
parade."

"Bully for you," shouted Fred.

"Can't we borrow a drum somewhere?" suggested Dunk.

"Dad's got one I can get," offered Jerry.

"Jerry's some drummer too," said Fly.

"All right, get a move on you," ordered the southerner. "It's just ten
now, and if we start right soon we'll get there about time for dinner."

About a half hour afterwards, Captain Crawford was drawn to his window
overlooking the parade grounds, by the martial sound of drum beats.

"Well, I never," he exclaimed to his wife, who hurried to join him.

Filing past the house two by two, in regular order and military step was
the new Boy Scout Patrol, uniformed and carrying bright new rifles.
Fred, bearing the flag, was slightly in advance, while just behind him
was the tall form of their son, dexterously flipping the drumsticks and
rolling out rhythmic march time.

Not once did any of the paraders turn in the direction of the house,
although they felt they were being observed.

Captain Crawford leaned out of the window.

"Hurrah for the 7th infantry," he shouted. "I mean the seven infants,"
he amended laughing.

The boys maintained their composure with difficulty at this sally, but
following Fred's leadership, wheeled and marched up, abreast, to the
front steps, where they stood marking time.

"At your service, Captain," announced Fred, saluting.

"Present arms, shoulder arms, port arms, order arms!" commanded Jerry's
father.

The bewildered company started to comply, but the orders came too fast
for them, and soon their efforts were checked by a merry shout from the
captain.

"Back to training camp," he ordered. With a general laugh the boys broke
ranks.

"We're goin' on a scout tramp over to Phipps' ranch," announced Jerry.

"This is a good day," assented the captain. "Been kind of cloudy all
morning, so you won't find it very warm walking."

"How do you like us," asked Fly, looking down at his khaki trousers,
while the others looked up expectantly.

"You look like regular soldiers," commented Mrs. Windham, who had joined
the captain and his wife at the window.

"Your suits are very pretty," put in Mrs. Crawford.

"Ha--Ha!--your mother says the suits are pretty," reiterated the
captain. "Guess that's handing it to you."

"Oh, as for us," retorted Fred. "We're just plain handsome."

"Tell Phipps he's spoiling the whole bunch of you," enjoined the
captain, as the party started down the road that led to the ranch.

They had been unable to bring all their new equipment, but the canteens
were strapped on and each boy carried his Remington. The whistles,
drinking cups and penknives were safely stowed away in trouser pockets.
On their shirts were pinned the new Boy Scout badges.

"Sorry Hawke couldn't go," said Dunk. The aviator had some business
letters on hand, and chose to remain at the Fort.

"Ever develop that picture you took in the mountains?" asked Fly of
Fred.

"Yes, but it was no good. Something the matter with the plate. Hawke's
got the proof," responded Fred. "Order, now," he added, with pretended
severity. "Remember, left, right, left, right, ready," and the boys
started off in correct step.

About midway in their tramp they met a group of Indians, of which Tommy
was one, returning from a search for customers for their baskets and
bead work.

"Pike along slow, fellows," said Carl. "I'm going to see if Tommy knows
anything about our friend of yesterday."

He engaged the old Indian in conversation, while the other boys parleyed
with the squaws over their wares. After some good-natured teasing, Fred
bought a particularly attractive woven basket for his mother, and Gray
purchased a bead belt, which he intended to take to his sister when he
went back to New York.

"Tommy doesn't seem to know very much about him," informed Carl when he
joined his companions. "Says he showed up here about a week ago, and
wanted to know if anyone could tell him where he could find the old
Thunder Bird shrine."

"Did Tommy ever see him before?" asked Dunk.

"No. None of these Indians around here ever did. He says he has been
down in the Mexico mining districts, but claims to be an Araviapa
Apache. That's what my father was, and he looks to be of the same
tribe."

"Looks somethin' like you," remarked Fly.

"I think so too," chimed in Fred.

"Well, Tommy says the old scout has an idea he has done something to
offend the Great Spirit," continued Carl, "and, unless he makes some
kind of reparation, he won't get into the happy hunting ground with his
ancestors."

Carl smiled at this fallacy which he had long since abandoned.

"Did he say what he had done?" inquired Herb.

"No, merely said that a medicine man told him he was on the wrong side
of the deity and that he'd better make up. Seems that he thinks if he
puts the Thunder Bird back on its shrine again everything will be all
right. I think he's got the talk of some missionaries and his own ideas
mixed. It isn't like an Indian to be making up for bad deeds."

"Get in line there, you scouts," ordered Fred, for his patrol had
disorganized during Carl's conversation.

"Remember you have to stick to the rules," added the leader, trying to
be severe.

The boys fell back at once, and started on two and two, keeping step and
order the rest of the way.

Though shorter than any of the other boys, young Windham had the
personality of a commander, and, as he marched on ahead, his head erect,
and square shoulders set, he gave promise of being an influential leader
later on in life.

It was about two hours afterward that they reached the outskirts of the
Bread Pudding ranch, tired but by no means fagged.

They stopped for a few minutes' rest and adjustment. After a long drink
from their canteens, which they had filled with ice water before leaving
the Fort, they laved their faces and hands. Then refreshed but somewhat
excited, they started for the ranch-house.

It was agreed that Jerry should not begin drumming until they had come
very near, planning to take a path on the other side of the house which
brought them very close without disclosing them until they were within
full view of the veranda.

As they came up, the drum rolling, they saw Hop Sing, who was gathering
vegetables for dinner, stop, look, and then make for the kitchen as fast
as his thin legs would take him.

"Look at those chop suey drumsticks," laughed Fly, as the Chink vanished
through the doorway.

"Never recognized us," laughed Jerry, giving his sticks an extra twirl,
and, consequently, producing more noise.

They saw Mr. Phipps before he sighted them. He had arisen from his seat
on the veranda, where he had been enjoying his newspaper before dinner
should be announced, and was looking down the road for the source of the
commotion. As the boys turned sharply at the east wing of the big house,
they were brought into full view. They walked steadily on, as straight
as comfort would allow them, keeping step like a squad of trained
soldiers, and looking neither to the left nor the right, although
several of them could not help smiling. Mr. Phipps gave them one puzzled
glance, then threw up his hands, and bending back his head, laughed long
and loud.

"You young rascals," he roared. "Here I thought the state militia was
out after my hide."

Fred led his small company around in a circle in front of the house,
then made several zigzag figures which he had learned for a drill while
in Cleveland. Finally they drew up, abreast, before Mr. Phipps, and,
solemnly saluting, gave three hearty cheers.

"Fine, fine!" exclaimed the rancher. "My, but you all look brave and
ferocious. You might be able to meet a real enemy--with his back toward
you. Let's see how they fit."

The small army marched up onto the veranda, while the rancher gave them
a critical survey.

"Couldn't be better," he finally announced satisfied. "Not if you had
had them tailor made."

"They're certainly great," returned Fly, a little awkwardly.

Then he looked at Jerry, and the other boys followed his example....
There was a sudden silence, as they drew in a closer circle around Mr.
Phipps. It had been planned that Jerry should make a short speech of
thanks to their generous patron. But though he was brave enough when the
suggestion was made, now that the time had come the boy felt himself
growing shaky and confused.

The surprised rancher looked around at the quiet group a little puzzled.
Finally Fly gave Jerry a nudge, at which the latter collected himself as
well as he could, and with something of a tremble in his voice, which
seemed suddenly weak and faint, he began what he had planned to make a
very grand speech.

"Mr. Phipps," he said, his cheeks growing rapidly redder and hotter,
while his knees shook, "we--we--we all want to thank you very much
for--"

"Oh, forget it," entreated the man, giving the relieved Jerry an
affectionate pat on the back. "Why, you boys have nothing to thank me
for. You're just like my own sons--you're Herb's playmates. Yuh see Herb
hasn't any mother to--to--but I tell you, I like to have him associated
with a fine lot of lads like you. Get into the house here, and we'll see
if we can pick up some grub." The rough rancher spoke cordially, but
there was a slight shake in his voice.

"We're always grabbin' fodder over here," apologized Fly, as they made
for the dining room.

"And I guess we're here with our appetites to-day," put in Dunk. "That
was a fine tramp for a hungry fellow."

"Well, go to it."

"Lose any sheep lately?" asked Dunk, as the usual hearty meal
progressed, or rather disappeared.

"They haven't bothered us since Sunday night," responded Phipps. "About
time for something to be doing."

"I've got to get back early this afternoon and go to work," said Fly,
when they arose from the table--"filled to the eyes," to use Gray's
words.

"Guess we'd better go back," said Jerry.

"I've got to go to Silver City to-day myself," said Mr. Phipps. "Suppose
you all pile in my hack and we'll drive over."

This was a welcome suggestion and the boys quickly accepted it.



CHAPTER XII

THE THUNDER BIRD ATTACKS


Thinking that experience was the best teacher, Hawke decided to
discontinue lessons on aviation until the materials for the biplane
arrived and they could begin actual work.

During the rest of the week, therefore, the boys, with the assistance of
Captain Crawford, Dr. Rivers and the aviator, put in their time
mastering some of the Boy Scout requirements.

They organized a bucket brigade, and, by several mock fire fights fitted
themselves to take care of a blaze should one occur at any time.

"That's what we've been needing at this fort for a long time," remarked
Captain Crawford, when he saw the young fire fighters practicing. "In
case of a fire here we'd have to depend on the volunteer bunch at Silver
City, and everything would be up in smoke before they could get here."

Dr. Rivers gave the young scouts a thorough drilling in first aid to the
injured. In his laboratory, which was a large and heretofore mysterious
room at the top of the house, he taught them many things which they did
not know about the human body and its needs in case of accident--how to
construct an emergency stretcher, prepare splints, roll and apply
bandages, and stop the flow of blood from an artery by means of the
tourniquet.

"I guess I'm beginning to know something," said Jerry, a little proudly,
when they left the doctor's office just at dark Friday evening after an
interesting lesson.

"I got real well acquainted with that handsome skeleton," remarked Gray,
who had been a little sensitive at first about approaching the uncanny
bony structure which Dr. Rivers called one of the "ornaments" of his
experimenting room.

Although Herb and Tender were urged to remain at the Crawford's for
supper, the former thought it best to go on home.

"I can't be very long away from dad," he explained, "or he has a search
party out after me."

"I didn't realize how much this Boy Scout affair was going to do for
you," observed the captain that night at the supper table, when Jerry
and Fred had been relating their new accomplishments. "I was a little
skeptical at first--thought it was a waste of time--but I'm getting
pretty much interested in it now myself."

"I think it is a splendid idea," agreed Mrs. Windham, who, mother-like,
was in favor of anything that safeguarded the interest and welfare of
her boy.

"And his aeroplane stunt strikes me as pretty fine," went on Jerry's
father. "As a whole, this vacation is doing more for you boys than a
year of schooling, and--" he was interrupted by the ringing of the
telephone bell.

"Hello--Phipps, yes, this is Crawford," they heard him say. "What's
that? Well, that's strange. Oh, I don't think it can be anything
serious. The doctor is not at the house? Gone to Silver City? Well,
we'll start right out."

"What is it?" cried Mrs. Crawford, as the group at the table arose and
surrounded the captain.

"Phipps says Herb's horse came home alone, wounded in the back. He's
afraid something has happened to him and Graystock. Thinks it may be
that thing that's killing the sheep--or thieving Greasers," explained
captain, speaking hurriedly, at the same time putting on his hat and
ringing for the maid.

"Tell Ike to get the horses and saddle them at once--three of them," he
ordered when the servant appeared. "Tell him to stop and get Carlito,
and have them all here as soon as possible."

"Come on, boys--Phipps says he's just starting. He says he telephoned
for Dr. Rivers but he isn't home. What'll we do in case either of them
is badly hurt?"

"We fellows ought to put our learning into practice," spoke up Fred at
once.

"Yes, we'll take our emergency kits," said Jerry.

"I doubt if you can do anything," replied the captain, as they left the
house. "You haven't had any practical experience yet."

"We'll do anything we can for Herb," responded Jerry warmly.

"Why not get Dunk?" suggested Fred. "He was the best of the bunch, his
father being a doctor."

"All right," agreed the captain, swinging into his saddle, just as
Carlito dashed up.

"What's the matter?" he asked, breathlessly.

They told him the situation in a few words.

"I'll go right on," he exclaimed, digging his heels into the pony's
flanks.

On the way over to the Rivers' residence, the captain and the boys met
Dunk and Fly mounted on their horses. Mr. Phipps' telephone message for
the doctor had told them the news.

"Well, if anything's the matter," said the doctor's son, "both of them
have their Red Cross materials with them, if they're able to use them.
You go on ahead," he added. "Fly and I are going to bring that stretcher
we made to-day, and some bandages and stuff. We'll be right along."

The two boys wheeled their ponies, and the rest of the party galloped
into the darkness after Carl.

It was an unusually dark night, and very few stars relieved the dense
blackness overhead. Fortunately, the riders were familiar with their
road, or it would have been impossible for them to keep up the pace they
did.

"Carl'll be sure to find them if they're anywheres along here," said
Fred, breathlessly, when they were obliged to slow up at a particularly
rough place.

They urged on their horses again, and for a time nothing was heard
through the moonless silence of the night but the sound of hurrying
hoofs and the croaking of the frogs as they vied with the monotonous
singsong of the crickets. Occasionally, from somewhere far out on the
prairies, a lonesome coyote would wail dismally.

After about a half hour of riding, the party on horseback descried
through the darkness a glimmering light almost in the center of the
road. As they came nearer, Jerry blew his whistle.

"We're here," came the answer.

"That's Phipps." The captain breathed a sigh of relief.

"He's not badly hurt," Carlito was saying as they drew up to where the
Indian and Tender Gray were bending over Herb, bandaging his arm while
the father held the boy's hand.

"I'll be all right," faintly assured Herb. "Don't you--" but his voice
trailed off into silence, and the upraised arm grew limp.

"Here, I brought some ammonia," exclaimed Fred, springing forward, and
placing a small bottle to Herb's nostrils, while Gray and Carl rubbed
his arms and legs vigorously.

"I wish we had a stretcher," exclaimed Mr. Phipps, his voice shaking
with anxiety.

"Dunk and Fly are coming along with one," responded the captain.

"Thank heaven for that," exclaimed the rancher gratefully. "Carl
snatched some branches off of the trees coming along," he continued "and
made some splints on the run." He laid his hand affectionately on the
Indian's bent shoulders.

A few moments later Dunk and Fly came up, bearing a stretcher between
them. Riding had been rather difficult with this clumsy load.

It was not long before Herb was comfortably stretched out on the
improvised bed, and, resuscitated by the liberal whiffs of ammonia which
Fred faithfully applied, and the constant massage, he soon opened his
eyes and smiled, as a sign that he had regained consciousness.

"It's mostly jolt," said Dunk, who began applying more bandages. When
the arm was well bound up, he went over Herb's body carefully in search
of more injuries.

Finding none, Mr. Phipps suggested that they start for the ranch.

Carl, Dunk, Fly and Fred immediately picked up the stretcher.

"Feeling better, son?" asked the father gently as they started off, the
four boys carrying the stretcher, while those on horseback led the
ponies.

"Better all the time," answered Herb, trying to speak firmly. While his
voice was not normal, it was stronger than when he first spoke.

"What happened anyway?" asked Fly of Tender Gray.

"All I can say is, it's just about like that time you got mixed up when
you met Windy at Silver City," answered Tender. "I didn't know anything
was wrong until I heard Herb yell, and the next minute he was thrown
from his horse, while the critter ran off like wild."

"Didn't you see anything?" urged Fred.

"It was too dark--anyhow I didn't look for anything. I got busy with
Herb," responded Gray.

"That's right," approved Mr. Phipps. "But it looks to me as if it was
the same devil that's been botherin' my sheep--horse's back is cut
pretty deep."

When they reached the ranch-house, Sing informed them that Dr. Rivers
had telephoned, and was on his way over. They had scarcely put Herb on
the bed before the doctor arrived. After listening to a hasty
explanation, he made a thorough examination of the wounded boy.

"Well, it's just a minor fracture of the forearm," he announced finally.
"Nothing serious. I'll have to set it though.

"It may hurt you a little," he warned Herb, as he removed the bandages
and splints, but, though his patient did wince once or twice, he set his
lips tightly, and did not emit a sound of complaint.

After it was all over, however, he sank back with a sigh of relief and
exhaustion. With the aid of a sleeping potion, he was soon quietly
resting.

Mr. Phipps, though relieved by the doctor's reassurance, was greatly
agitated over the accident, and continually paced the floor in the big
library, his face pale and his lips set.

"I'll be over early to-morrow," the doctor told him. "It's only a green
stick break and will soon knit. The bandaging was splendidly done--I
couldn't have put those splints on better myself," he added. "By the
way, did you do it?"

"The boys did," answered the rancher, with a faint smile, looking
affectionately around the anxious group.

"You certainly did well," said the doctor heartily. "I had some doubts
about instructing you at first, but I must admit you have profited by
your lessons wonderfully."

As there was nothing more to be done, the party from the fort prepared
to start back, the doctor going ahead with his machine.

"We've got to get that confounded animal that's causing all this
trouble," exclaimed Phipps as vigorously as his shaking voice would
permit.

"We're goin' to get him, all right!" responded Jerry heartily.

"You bet we are," reiterated Fred, with determination, while the other
boys made similar assurances.

It was a sober party that rode slowly away, and for a long time nothing
was said.

"It's so quiet to-night it makes me think of spooks," remarked Jerry,
finally breaking the silence.

"Something makes me feel queer too," said Fred.

Just then a shrill, weird inhuman shriek came from somewhere in the
direction of the mountains: "Kreee-kreee-ee," almost blood-curdling in
its penetrating sharpness, cutting through the air like a keen knife
blade, and sending unpleasant shivers down the backs of all who heard.

Again and again it came, threatening, foreboding, like some evil spirit
about to swoop upon its prey.

They listened, spellbound, thrilled in every nerve. It was not fear that
seemed to clutch at their hearts and make them pound, or that struck
them silent, it was an awing sense of something supernatural, something
not quite real. It was as though they had suddenly caught a glimpse of a
demon of the underworld.

The dread cry continued for some minutes, then gradually grew fainter,
until it seemed smothered by the intervening hills.

Before any of the party gathered courage to speak, a tall figure, like a
fleeting shadow, glided across the path in front of them, and rapidly
disappeared into the darkness. He seemed bent on an errand and was going
toward the northeast mountain ranges.

"It's the Indian," whispered Carl, as the form hurried into the
darkness.

"What do you suppose that noise was?" queried Jerry in a low tone.

"Was it a hawk?" asked Fly cautiously, crowding nearer to Carl.

"I've heard hawks cry and eagles scream, but never like that," returned
the Indian, his voice growing louder.

"What was it then?" asked Fly in a natural voice, gathering courage as
the conversation progressed.

"I never heard one, of course," replied Carl slowly, "but I think that
was the Thunder Bird."

"That's just what it was," exclaimed Dunk at once.

For some moments nobody spoke, then Carl said reflectively: "I suppose
that Indian friend of ours heard it too, and is on the trail."

"You'd better look out or he'll get it before you do," commented the
captain, who had heard of the mysterious stranger.



CHAPTER XIII

AT WORK ON THE AEROPLANE


The following day the first box of material arrived from Kansas City,
and was taken to Mr. Giles' machine shop, which, having formerly been
the army stables, was a great deal larger than was needed for the
machinist's work, and he was able to give Hawke and the boys a roomy
space at the rear.

A box from Denver came on Monday morning, and in the afternoon there was
a consignment from New York. The engine was to be sent by freight from
Fort Omaha, and would take some time to reach Silver City, but, as Hawke
explained, it was the last thing to be used and the delay would not
matter.

By Wednesday morning, therefore, which was the day after the Fourth, all
was ready to go ahead on the aeroplane. The Fourth had been unusually
quiet for the boys because Herb could not take part in any active
festivities. While his injury had been slight, and was now practically
healed, his father insisted that he should remain perfectly quiet and
not become excited by unwarranted celebration. This was a hardship for
so active a boy as Herb, but to please his father he obeyed without
complaint.

As reparation, the rancher ordered a lavish display of fireworks from
Albuquerque, and in the evening the boys were entertained by an
exhibition that was worthy of young princes.

The exhilaration which followed this event, their sympathy for Herb, the
gratitude they felt for the generous rancher, and their eagerness to
solve the mystery of the Bread Pudding ranch, which was heightened by
the incidents of the last few weeks, coupled with their growing interest
in aviation, gave the boys an enthusiasm for the work of constructing
the biplane which guaranteed success.

Hawke set up his model in the shop for their guidance, and, desiring to
start them with fundamentals, he dissected the wing of a hawk, and, the
first thing Wednesday morning, explained to them the first principles of
plane construction, using the formation of the wing as an illustration.

"The early planes were straight," he explained, "but we have since
learned that the curved surfaces are far more efficient. Keep in mind
the idea of the bird, the shape of his wings, and you have the best
working basis for building a plane." The aviator believed, with some
other specialists, that examples taken from nature were the best sort of
instruction for the novice.

The materials were unpacked, including all necessary tools, and without
wasting much time on preliminaries, the boys set heartily to work.

"I am planning to equip this machine with swinging wing ends," said
Hawke. "This is something not used on many biplanes, but it will be
necessary to have them if we are to follow the maneuvers of a bird. If
the wing tips are made with a down curve at their ends, the result of
swinging them to the rear will be to increase the lifting power, while
at the same time reducing the resistance of the air to forward movement.
This would afford an ideal method of steering, being exactly like that
employed by birds."

Later, when work was begun on these wing tips, the boys fully understood
Hawke's theory.

Another innovation which Hawke planned for the machine was a mica window
in the forward part of the fuselage, which would enable them to see what
was passing below them, without leaning over or altering the angle of
the planes.

While the boys worked and followed directions, Hawke explained the parts
and their use on the machine. Fred and Fly proved themselves the most
accomplished at first, owing to their previous experience with mechanics
and aeroplanes. Gray also had a previous knowledge of the possibilities
of aeronautics, and it was not long before all of the boys were
intelligently working on Hawke's model and making progress.

Mr. Phipps rode over from the ranch almost every day to see them at
work, and was much pleased with the rapid advance his son was making.
Entirely recovered from the accident, Herb was as useful as any of his
companions, and, besides evincing a great deal of mechanical skill,
which he had never been called upon to display before, he readily
grasped the principles Hawke continually ground into his pupils.

"You see, Dad," Herb said, when the rancher had inquired, on the
occasion of one of his visits five or six days after work had been
begun, about the use of the propeller, the particular part on which Herb
was working, "the propeller is everything on an aeroplane. It's got to
be made just right, or the whole thing goes to smash. If it wasn't for
the propeller the machine wouldn't go at all," he finished triumphantly.

"Oh, indeed," remarked the southerner, an amused twinkle in his eye.
"And what's the reason for that?"

"Well, yuh see," replied Herb, seriously, not noticing the smile playing
about his father's mouth, and anxious to display his newly acquired
knowledge, "it's the thing that moves the machine forward, and it has
almost everything to do with the pitch and speed. The surfaces of the
aeroplane are called the skin, and there is some friction of air against
these surfaces, and that is called skin friction. Well, yuh see, the
propeller has to make the machine move through the air with the smallest
amount of skin friction. It has to travel through as large an amount of
air as possible in a certain time, and take as little power as possible.
Yuh understand?"

"Oh, yes," exclaimed the rancher, unable to restrain a short laugh. "How
about that, Hawke?"

"He's right," responded the aviator, slapping his young pupil on the
back. "He's got the dope exactly."

"Yes, but a good deal depends on the operator," chipped in Fly, who was
ambitious to excel as an aviator, and could scarcely wait until the
machine was finished to try his hand.

"I'm working on the box-girder," said Dunk, feeling called upon to give
an account of himself.

"What's that," asked Mr. Phipps indulgently.

"It's the part that really bears the greatest weight--a sort of a beam
with the weight in the center, fixed so it bears the load equally
distributed. You can see one on Hawke's model."

"And one of the important things," said Jerry, not to be outdone, "is to
build the plane so the guy wires remain taut, and the main spars, ribs
and struts are properly placed."

"Yes, and then we have to remember to build it as light as we can and as
strong as we can," put in Gray. "We want to go fast, but we don't want
accidents, so we can't make it as light as we'd like. Oftentimes we have
to make a part heavier to be sure it's strong enough."

Other technical information was glibly imparted when Captain Crawford
dropped in occasionally. Dr. Rivers also paid the shop frequent visits,
while the ladies did not neglect to show an interest in the work.

In fact, everyone in and about the fort shared the enthusiasm of the
young aviators, and the aeroplane got to be the most important topic of
conversation. Hawke was obliged to put a sign on the door of the shop:
"NO ADMITTANCE," in order to keep away the soldiers, Greasers, loafers,
and even Indians who had a habit of dropping in and interrupting the
work.

About eight days after construction started they were ready for a
hangar. As Mr. Phipps sent over two of his idle Greasers to erect this,
work on the aeroplane was not stopped. The shed was erected just north
of the machine shop, facing the old parade grounds, which was an ideal
spot for the first try-out.

"I'm anxious to test my new feature of equalizing the stress and
distribution of weight," Hawke explained to Mr. Phipps, who had come
over with the Greasers. "I want to be able to carry all of the boys, if
possible, and this is a difficult feat, for the greater the number of
passengers carried the greater is the tax on the stability of the
machine. The boys have shown such unusual ability in carrying out my
ideas, however, that I think I am going to be able to perfect the device
and prove its efficiency in a flight or two."

The day the hangar was completed, the engine arrived. A small truck
which Mr. Giles had in the shop was to be used in wheeling the aeroplane
out of the shop through the big middle doors of the stable, and into the
hangar.

"My, ain't she a beautiful bird," exclaimed Jerry, when they put away
their tools, and were proudly viewing the result of their work, for the
aeroplane was set up complete with the exception of the engine, and
stood mounted on the small wheeled truck ready for removal. A trial
flight was to be made in the morning.

"You can't beat that anywhere in the world," said Dunk, proudly.

"I almost feel as though she were alive," commented Herb.

"I must say you did a mighty fine job, boys," said Hawke, "and if she
flies as well as she looks, we'll put in our application for medals."

"Is there any chance that she won't fly?" asked Fly anxiously.

"You never know what a brand new plane is going to do," responded Hawke,
"and you're never sure till you're gliding safely up in the air, whether
or not all the cogs are in tight. But I don't think there's much danger
that this one won't fly."

"We'll steer straight for that old tower," said Jerry, "and see if we
can't roust out the Thunder Bird--or devil bird, whatever it is."

"Better watch for it some dark night near the sheep fold," suggested
Herb. "It's about due to be around here now. We haven't seen it for some
time. But another rancher several miles north of father says he's had
some sheep hurt and taken, so I suppose it's shifted its hunting ground
for a while."

"Gee, I'm awful anxious to find out just what it is anyway," exclaimed
Fred. "Certainly is a mysterious animal."

"Have you seen that old Indian snooping around here?" inquired Herb,
changing the subject. "I saw him a minute or two ago peeping in through
the door over there, but I didn't say anything at the time."

"Oh, I suppose he has some superstitious idea that this is a destroying
evil spirit we're building," said Carl. "Only I wish he would keep away.
The way he stands around and peers makes me nervous."

"He doesn't seem to pay any attention to the "No Admittance" sign,"
remarked Hawke, smiling.

"Suppose he can't read English," said Carl. "But I have a sneaking
suspicion that he can understand it. It's an old trick of the Indian to
stand around and look as innocent as a brick wall, and yet take in
everything you say."

"We've been talking a lot about the Thunder Bird lately," observed Fly.
"Maybe that's interested him."

"I wouldn't be surprised if he's planning some deviltry," Carl remarked
as they left the shop. "He's got some exaggerated notion about the
Thunder Bird already."

As they entered the parade grounds they saw the retreating form of the
strange Indian.

"I'll bet he's been listening," exclaimed Carl, a little disturbed.
"There's no tellin' what a half-cracked, superstitious Indian may get
into his head."



CHAPTER XIV

THE FIRE


"You fellows have certainly made wonderful progress," Mr. Giles said to
Fly that evening as he sat on the porch of their residence with his wife
and son. "That man Hawke is a wonder. I'm as proud as anybody of that
fine aeroplane, and mighty proud that my boy helped in building it."

"You ain't any prouder than I am," said Fly, while his mother stroked
his red locks affectionately. "Hawke says he thinks I'm going to make a
good flier. Gee, won't it be great to be up in the air sailing around
like a bird!"

"I'm a little afraid of accidents," said Mrs. Giles, who had been
somewhat worried about the safety of the venture, but had not wished to
dampen her son's enthusiasm.

"Oh, leave that to Hawke," exclaimed Fly confidently. "He's going to
make the first flight, although I wouldn't be afraid to go with him.
Besides, we've got to get that sheep stealer. Herb's dad has been mighty
good to us. We fellows are just crazy to find out what that killing
thing is anyway. Gee, you ought to hear the way he howled the night Herb
got hurt!" Even now, Fly thrilled at the memory of the experience.

"Hello," he broke in, as Dunk appeared some yards from the house. "Come
on over."

"I'm tired," sighed Dunk, as he sat down beside Fly on the stoop, "but I
can't think of going to bed, I'm so excited over that plane."

"To-morrow we get it in the hangar," began Fly, "then the engine and
then, whoopee, up she goes!"

Fred, Jerry and Carlito strolled by at that moment, and, when they had
joined the pair on the porch, made the same complaint as Dunk.

"I'm a little cut up over that old Indian, too," pondered Carl. "I
wouldn't be afraid to meet him single-handed, but when a redskin gets to
plotting things behind his paint, watch out!"

"Oh, don't worry about that," protested Dunk, who did not understand as
well as Carl the malicious nature of a semi-wild Indian. "He's just a
little bit cracked, that's all."

"Sure," corroborated Jerry. "The bunch of us wouldn't do a thing to him
if he got actin' funny."

Carl had apparently dismissed the subject, however, for he was throwing
his knife with a dexterity that only an Indian could have displayed. His
action invited competition, and soon there was a lively contest in
progress. Mr. and Mrs. Giles withdrew and left the boys to their game.

"Say, what's that?" exclaimed Dunk suddenly, in a voice of alarm.

"Smoke," yelled Jerry, jumping to his feet.

"Fire in the machine shop!" fairly screamed Carl as he started off on a
run.

"The aeroplane!" gasped Fly.

"Get your buckets, quick!" ordered Fred, the coolest one of the bunch.

The boys ran to the side of the old barracks, just south of the machine
shop, where the buckets were kept, yelling "Fire! Fire!" at the same
time.

As they turned the corner of the barracks sharply they unexpectedly
bumped into the mysterious red man, who was crouching and feeling his
way along the wall. They were too excited to attach any importance to
the occurrence at the moment, and the Indian was soon making swiftly for
the open prairies to the west.

Aroused by the commotion, people were now running from all directions,
and in an incredibly short time there was a good-sized crowd at the
scene of the fire.

Carl had gone immediately to the shop. "Get a hose," he shouted to some
idly gaping Greasers and soldiers who stood looking at the smoke which
poured from the cracks of the doors and windows.

"Bring some buckets," he ordered to another group.

Carl made for the double doors, where a soldier was struggling to throw
them apart.

"Here, keep those shut," he commanded. "Do you want to eat the place up
with drafts?"

"We must keep it away from the plane," gasped Hawke, who had arrived a
second before.

The small brigade had formed a double chain from the well to the machine
shop. One line passed the filled buckets and the other returned them
empty. Soldiers and Greasers were put to work.

"It's in the front," Fred announced.

Immediately Carl smashed in a front pane with his fist, for the window
was locked on the inside.

"Shove that hose in here," said Fred, as the soldier came up with a
small garden hose which gave forth a shallow spray of water.

Carl smashed in the companion window, and started to get inside.

"Here, hold on, Carl," protested Hawke. "That won't do."

But Carl shook him off and sprang through.

"Hand some buckets to me," he said. Fly, standing at the well, filled
the buckets, passing them on down the line until they reached Carl, who
threw them on the flames and then handed them back.

Hawke leaned through the window and tied a wet handkerchief over Carl's
mouth and nose.

It had now grown quite dark, and there was little evidence of the fire
from the outside of the building, except for the smoke which poured
through the windows and cracks of the doors.

After a few minutes Carl sprang out of the window.

"It's eating its way toward the center," he announced hurriedly,
snatching the handkerchief from his face. "We'll have to take a chance
on getting the plane out. Keep fighting though."

Fred took up his position outside and they fought the fire as best they
could through the open windows. Hawke, Jerry and Carl went to the side
double doors.

Captain Crawford and Mr. Giles arrived at this time, and took turns
relieving the boys, whose arms were aching from swinging the heavy
buckets.

While the structure was of substantial brick, and the equipment of the
machine shop consisted mostly of iron and metal and little combustible
material, a large amount of debris had been piled in one corner of the
shop, awaiting removal, and this burned quickly, giving the fire a good
start. The one thought in the minds of the boys was to keep the flames
from getting back to the aeroplane.

Hawke, Carl and Jerry had decided to open the double doors and go inside
the burning building. As the others were at the front fighting the fire,
there was no one to protest, except some of the frightened Greasers who
insisted that "You fellows'll get killed."

"Close those doors as soon as we get in," said Carl in answer to their
protests. "And the minute we give the signal open them again."

"Don't lose any time opening them, either," warned Hawke. "We'll all be
needing air by that time."

"Jump in as quick as you can, Jerry," said Carl, as they slid the door
back just enough to make an entrance.

Once inside, all three dropped on their hands and knees, first tying
about the lower parts of their faces handkerchiefs which they had
dampened.

They crept, wriggled and crawled in the direction of the machine. The
air was stifling, and it was with the greatest difficulty that they
could breathe, but, groping in the smoke and darkness, Carl finally got
his hands on the truck.

Jerry and Hawke were quick to give him assistance, though none of them
could do much more than fumble, handicapped as they were by the smoke
and heat and their awkward position. The truck was a frail affair, and
it would have been slow work at best. Under present conditions, the
peril of upsetting the plane and of damaging if not losing it in the
fire trap, demanded double caution.

Speech was impossible, but the three rescuers were practically of one
mind, all realizing the importance of the hazardous mission they had
undertaken, as inch by inch, they cautiously moved the plane nearer to
the closed door. Hawke slowly pushed from the rear, while Carl and Jerry
crawled on each side, steadying the machine with upraised arms. Their
position was awkward and uncomfortable. After a few minutes it grew
actually painful, their arms and bodies aching from the strain, and they
felt themselves gradually growing weaker.

The fire had now about reached the center of the shop, and they could
hear the shouts of the boys and others, ignorant of their plight,
outside. Jerry could hear his father's voice raised in command, now and
then, but, though he was gaining ground, the voices outside seemed
growing fainter and fainter.

"Doctor Rivers has gone to Silver City with his machine to bring down
the fire department," said Captain Crawford, his shirt soiled and wet
and his face grimy with smoke.

The bucket brigade had kept up a continuous fight, and had done
admirably in keeping the blaze in check. The fire had had such a start,
however, that it seemed almost impossible to save the building. They
were all, therefore, very much relieved to learn of Dr. Rivers' action
and that help might soon be forthcoming.

"Maybe we can keep it under way until that time," said Fred, swinging a
bucket in his aching arms. Two reels of hose had been found about the
fort, and these were being used by Dunk and Captain Crawford. Three or
four lanterns had been lit, but their pale light was scarcely needed,
for the moon shone down full and bright, and this, aided by the light of
the fire, which had eaten through the front of the building, made the
fort as bright as day.

"Where's Carl?" suddenly asked Dunk.

"Jerry isn't here either," exclaimed Captain Crawford, hastily
inspecting the line of boys.

At that moment a soldier rushed up to the captain.

"Three of your fellows went into the shop quite a while ago," he shouted
above the din. "They told us not to open the doors until they gave the
signal. Said they were going to get the aeroplane out. Seems they've
been there a long time."

The captain paled and dropped his hose, starting after the soldier on a
run. After disposing of their buckets, which they put into the hands of
two watching Greasers, Dunk and Fred started after them.

A loud toot was heard just then, and Dr. Rivers came dashing up, his
machine loaded with men from Silver City, the hose cart being attached
to the back of the automobile. The new firemen started to work at once,
a great relief to the tired boys and men of the fort. A second after,
Herb and his father galloped into the parade grounds.

"Throw open those doors," gasped the captain, when the party reached the
rear of the building. Fred and Dunk readily complied. The air poured
into the interior, driving the smoke back and a sheet of eager flames
mounted to the ceiling.

Within a foot of the door, however, was the aeroplane. As Fred rushed
into the building he stumbled over the prostrate body of Carl, who had
managed to crawl as far as the door to give the signal but had lost
consciousness at the last moment. He was quickly dragged out into the
open air, while the captain, Herb, Dunk and Fly, throwing themselves
down on all fours, crept after the other two. They located them not far
from Carl, by the side of the machine, and all three were soon receiving
careful attention from Dr. Rivers.

Jerry and Hawke were soon revived, and taken to the Crawford residence
where they were put under the care of Mrs. Crawford and Mrs. Windham.

Carl's condition gave some alarm. All efforts of the doctor to bring him
to consciousness seemed fruitless. There was a great bump over his left
temple, showing that he had hurt himself in falling, and the blow had
partly stunned him.

At last, however, to the great relief of everybody, he opened his eyes.
At first he looked bewildered at the anxious faces above him. Then
catching sight of a bucket which Fly held in his hand, he seemed to
realize the state of affairs at once.

Suddenly, without warning, he jumped to his feet.

"I must get the money out of my room," he cried, lurching forward, but
fell back again limp.

The boys looked from one to the other. For the first time since the fire
began they remembered that Carl's room was over the shop, and by this
time, was completely ruined.



CHAPTER XV

REPAIRING THE PLANE


There was no time to be lost. Dr. Rivers and Mr. Giles carried Carl to
the latter's home, where he lay in a semi-conscious condition the rest
of the night, talking incoherently about going to college, saving his
money, being robbed of it, and calling now and again for the old squaw
who had given him his charm and had told him the story of his father's
death. At intervals he would break out with fierce denunciations against
the mysterious redskin.

Meanwhile, satisfied that their brave friends had been taken care of,
Fred and Dunk ran back to the shop, which was now enveloped in smoke,
flames shooting out of the upper story. As they reached the opening,
near which the plane stood, several threatening creaks warned them of
the danger of entering.

"That roof's going to fall," exclaimed one of the soldiers.

"Hey, are you crazy!" shouted another. "Don't go in there!" But before
they could be detained the two boys darted into the smoke. They were
just in time to escape the restraining hand of the captain and Mr.
Phipps, who were running a few yards behind. There was a moment of
terrible suspense, then a crash, and the plane pitched forward into the
parade grounds.

The captain and the ranchman, in a tremor of apprehension, started into
the smoke, but a soldier's voice arrested them.

"They're under the machine," he shouted.

Quickly tipping the plane back into position, the men found the boys,
who had been pinioned under it. Their clothing was torn, and covered
with mud, but the boys, fortunately, were unhurt.

"Is it safe?" gasped Fred, jumping to his feet.

"Is it all right?" was Fly's first question.

But there was no time to inspect the machine carefully for damage. It
must be hauled into the hangar as soon as possible. The draft-fed flames
were shooting hungry, livid red tongues skyward, and the almost
deafening noise of falling bricks and timber too well foretold the fate
of the building.

"Here, everybody lend a hand," said Herb, perspiring from the intense
heat of the fire.

"Pick the machine up on your shoulders," Mr. Phipps ordered several of
the idlers.

"And get away from this building quick, before the side wall falls,"
commanded the captain. This note of warning served to send all the
onlookers scurrying to a safe distance.

Soon the precious aeroplane was safe in the new shed.

"Suppose there's two weeks' repairs on it," lamented Fly.

"Never saw such luck," complained Herb, but added quickly, "We ought to
be glad, though, that nobody got hurt."

They turned from their task of lodging the machine, just in time to see
the walls and roof of the shop cave in completely. A choking mass of
thick smoke rolled out of the debris. The blaze was soon extinguished,
but the building was a complete ruin.

"Now, how do you suppose that fire started?" asked Dunk, when, an hour
later, and long past midnight, the tired boys started for their homes.
All was quiet at the Fort now; everybody had gone to seek their long
deferred rest, except Dr. Rivers, who had taken the fire fighters back
to Silver City.

Before the rising sun had gilded the mountain tops, Dunk and Fly, tired
but too restless to sleep, were again at the feebly smoking ruins.

They were soon joined by Herb Phipps, his father and Tender Gray, who
had remained at the Fort overnight.

"Too bad about Carl," reflected Fly.

"He was saving that money so long too," continued Gray.

"Wish't I'd thought of it," said Dunk; "I'd risked my neck to get it."

"Just shows what Carl is," added Herb. "He went in after that plane and
never thought about his own stuff."

"I'll make him let me put up for it," put in Mr. Phipps. "The boy
deserves it for his bravery."

"How is he this morning, Dunk?" asked Gray.

"He's all right now. I left him eating his breakfast in bed. He wanted
to get up, but father says he might as well take it easy for a half a
day or so until he gets stronger."

"Hello, fellows," greeted Jerry heartily. "What do you think of the
heroes?" The aviator, paler, but smiling as ever, accompanied young
Crawford, and they both jokingly demanded the reward of the brave.

"You deserve it too, and no kiddin'," observed Herb seriously.

"Well, let's take a look at the plane," said Hawke. "Wonder how much
damage there is."

"Right upper wing pretty badly jammed on the left side," he said, after
he had given the plane an inspection. "These wires will have to be
restrung. Oh, I guess we can fix her up in a couple of days."

"That's lucky," said Fly. "Thought we'd have to take her all apart."

"Lucky thing Ike didn't bring that engine over to the shop," commented
Dunk. "We never would have gotten that out."

"Pretty good luck all around," responded Hawke, optimistically. "So
cheer up, and let's get busy right away this afternoon repairing the
_Thunder Bird_. If we're goin' to chase thieves we've got to get at it
soon."

In the afternoon, Carl, whose active spirit chafed under the restraint
put upon him by Dr. Rivers, broke bonds and escaped from the sickroom.
The boys were industriously working on the plane when he appeared, a
little haggard and hollow-eyed, at the hangar.

"Hello there, old scout," exclaimed Herb heartily. "Glad you're out."

"Was she much smashed up?" asked the Indian, smiling rather forcedly.

"Not much, we can mend her up in a couple of days," responded Hawke.

"Too bad we went under before we got her clear out," continued Carl,
"but I'm glad it isn't damaged worse than it is."

"Guess I'll take a walk over to the cliffs," added the Indian,
reflectively. "There's enough of you working on this."

"The cliffs?" echoed Fred interrogatively.

"Yes, I'm going to see if I can scare up that confounded Indian,"
responded Carl, shutting his lips rather tightly, a light in his eyes
which the boys had never seen there before.

"The strange Indian?" repeated Jerry uncomprehending.

"Sure thing. He's the fellow that's done all this," said Carl. "And he's
going to meet me on the warpath for it too."

"Better not get mixed up with him, Carl," advised Hawke, seeing that the
boy was rather excited and fearing that his savage nature might assert
itself. "Wait till he turns up here and we'll all get after him."

Carl did not reply, but, turning, walked away in the direction of the
mountain trail.

"Maybe it was the old scout," reflected Dunk. "You know what Carl said
the very afternoon of the fire."

"And we bumped into him snooping back of the barracks right after the
fire started," continued Fly.

"He's after the Thunder Bird, too," went on Gray. "Say, I'll bet he did
it, all right."

"Dad went in to see Carl this morning," said Herb; "wanted him to let
him make up the money he had lost, but Carl wouldn't hear to it. Maybe
he'll come 'round in a day or two, when he has time to think it over."

"Say, fellows, did you see in the paper that Chance, the big New York
aviator is going to fly over this way in a week or so?" asked Hawke,
changing the conversation.

"No--haven't looked at a paper to-day," responded Fly. None of the other
boys had heard the news.

"My, that'll be great," exclaimed Jerry. "What's he coming this way
for?"

"We're on the route. You know, he's in the contest for the $10,000
longest distance record," answered Hawke.

"Is he the guy that won the highest altitude prize," asked Dunk.

"That's the one. He's gone into teaching lately in New York City, and
charges $500 for four hours."

"Whew! I'll take a minute and one-eighth," laughed Gray.

"Do you know him?" asked Fred.

"Yes, met him once in New York. Fine chap. Nerves like cast iron,"
answered Hawke.

"Gee, can't you write and ask him to stop here," asked Fly.

"He's going to make a stop at Albuquerque, according to the newspaper
account, so I don't suppose he'll drop off here."

"Wouldn't it be sport to meet him with our plane!" exclaimed Fly.

"Maybe we can," said Hawke. "We might run him a race for a mile or so."

"Jiminy, that'd be great," cried Jerry, almost dropping his hammer.

"Hope I can fly by then," commented Fred.

"Me too," eagerly exclaimed Fly. "Wonder if I'll ever be tryin' for a
record," he added wistfully.

"Can't tell," laughed Hawke.

That evening when Carl returned he reported that he had been unable to
find the Indian, and that he had not been seen around the cliff
dwellings for several days.

"Tommy says the last time he saw him he told him he was going up into
the mountains to look for the Thunder Bird," said Carl. "That's the bee
in his bonnet, all right."

"So long as he don't come 'round here making bonfires out of our
_Thunder Bird_, we'll leave him alone," commented Jerry.

Though Carl visited the cliffs every day after that, the Indian either
religiously avoided him or had previously disappeared.

Three days later the aeroplane was again in first-class condition, and
Monday, the first week in August, was set for the try-out day.

The news was noised abroad, and people for miles around were planning to
be present at the event. Great excitement prevailed at the Fort, where
the boys and their handiwork became the center of interest.



CHAPTER XVI

THE FIRST FLIGHT


A group of curious spectators stood around the _Thunder Bird_
open-mouthed and wide of eye.

"You tell me that thing go up--up high? No!" expostulated one of the
Mexicans with a gesture of skepticism.

"Da boys make him fly," said another, grinning, and showing an even row
of milk-white teeth.

"Na, not da leetle boys?" protested a third, mopping his perspiring
swarthy skin with a red bandanna handkerchief, for the day was a warm
one and the sun had almost reached the middle of its daily course.

"Funniest lookin' thing I ever seed," put in a lame soldier, hobbling
around the machine and scrutinizing it doubtfully. He had, like a number
of his comrades, spent the last decade or so in and around the fort,
hearing little of the outside world.

"Who's goin' to shoot it up?" asked a sheep herder, with some notion of
a sky rocket. He had begged the day off in order to be present at the
first flight.

"Da leetle kids," replied a fat, indolent-looking Greaser, spitting a
generous supply of tobacco juice. "I na believe it," he added, with a
foolish grin which was intended to betoken shrewd disbelief.

"That so," laughed the soldier. "What you think, John?" he asked
another.

"No sabe," responded the Mexican, spreading out his palms. "Spak no
Angloise." He turned his attention to the machine which he had been
inspecting with childlike interest.

"I'd give a dollar for a cool breeze," sighed a soldier, skimming off
the moisture that had gathered on his face and neck.

Grouped about Hawke were the aspiring young aviators--the Fort Bayard
bunch and the two from the Bread Pudding ranch. Their bright faces were
rosy with excitement, and Hawke's was flushed with eagerness.

"Suppose it shouldn't work," whispered Fly, breathlessly, afraid to
sound aloud the unconfessed fear which he did not share alone.

"Forget that noise," reproved Jerry. "Just leave it to Hawke. He says
she's going to."

"Dry up, old man," chided Dunk. "Didn't we make it--then it's all
right."

"You bet it's goin' to work," confidently assured Herb, unwilling to
allow himself a moment's doubt.

Perhaps Hawke himself was a little anxious, for his habitual cool
demeanor had given place to a rather apparent agitation. He continually
plowed his hands through his damp hair as he went about giving the
machine a final examination.

"Is she all right?" inquired Dunk, when the aviator, seemingly
satisfied, straightened up and discontinued his examination.

"As slick as a whistle," returned Hawke cheerily, springing lightly into
the plane.

A touch of his hand and the motor was buzzing impatiently.

"Fine day for a try-out," he observed. "Not a breath of wind stirring."

Fred and Dunk were instructed to hold the tail at the start, and Jerry
was to turn the screw that set the machine in motion.

"I'm ready now, any time," said Hawke, with perfect composure.

"Clear away, everybody," commanded Captain Crawford, but it took both
him and Mr. Phipps to force the crowd back against the buildings
surrounding the parade grounds.

"When I fire, up she goes," laughed Herb, rather nervously, gripping the
revolver which he held in his hand. He almost hesitated to fire the shot
that should decide the fate of their earnest labors.

Hawke, however, had regained his natural calm, and sat waiting, composed
and confident.

"Let 'er go," he commanded, taking hold of the lever with a sure and
steady hand.

"One, two, three--bang!"

A puff of smoke--then the whirr of the propellers, creating a sudden
wind which blew hats off and left the bystanders breathless--and the
man-made bird was running swiftly over the smooth parade grounds like a
low-flying bird.

There was a murmur among the crowd, a straining of necks and eyes, and
an unconscious leaning forward. Then, as the aeroplane, with an almost
imperceptible slant, challenged the air and gradually ascended, a shout
of spontaneous admiration arose, gaining in volume and reaching such a
thunderous climax that it seemed to call forth an echo from the distant
mountains.

Again and again the skillfully guided plane swept gracefully over the
group of buildings, its circle constantly widening as it rose, and,
finally, shot above the tall flag pole. On and up it went, swift as a
hawk, gracefully taking higher and higher altitudes, until the crowd,
realizing the height attained, began to gasp almost with fear, their
heads strained back painfully, their hands shading their eyes.

At last the plane, with rhythmic undulations, began to descend, its
purring music growing louder as, accomplishing slow circles, it came
nearer and nearer, until, amidst a hush that was almost deathlike, it
skimmed the ground and lit, a few feet from the starting point.

Again there was a mighty yell, and hats went up as Hawke leaped joyously
upon the firm ground.

Faces alight, the boys pressed around him, almost speechless with
delight. The first joy of real success was upon them all. They had
attempted a splendid task, and they had won!

The crowd, refusing to be held back longer, streamed to the center of
the grounds, like water surging over a suddenly opened dam.

"Marvelous," exclaimed Mr. Phipps, the first to find his voice.

This single word opened the flood gates, and a babble of voices ensued.
The boys shouted excitedly, pranced like long-imprisoned colts enjoying
their first freedom, hugged one another, and threw up their hats and
handkerchiefs. Soldiers talked excitedly and endeavored to edge nearer
to the structure which fascinated and compelled their admiration. In
spite of its performance, they still looked upon it in skeptical wonder.
The Greasers, with unfeigned admiration, rubbed their dark palms
caressingly over the cloth-covered wings. Several Indians, their blank
faces for once expressive, stood fearfully on the outskirts of the
crowd, and finally slunk away, breaking into a dogtrot as they took the
trail to the cliffs.

But it mattered not to the boys what the crowd might think or say--they
were elated beyond the influence of the opinions of others. They
suddenly felt themselves grown to manhood--for they had done what men
were doing--and, without exception, they felt inspired with a dauntless
determination to master the thing which they had made, and learn to
control it as Hawke had done.

"Take us up! Take us up!" they cried at once, pressing around the
aviator, who, though nearly exhausted from the strain under which he had
been laboring, and choking for air, in this tight circle of humanity,
was smiling happily. He too felt the intoxicating joy of triumph surge
through his whole being, and forgot all external conditions.

"You must rest," protested Mr. Phipps.

"Yes, come right over to the house. We'll have something cool to drink,
and a light lunch," seconded the captain.

"Guess we'd better not try any more for to-day," said Hawke to the boys.
"Just before I landed, one of the guy wires snapped."

"Put her in the hangar then," suggested Herb, willing to sacrifice his
desire to the comfort of the aviator.

"Sure, you've done enough to-day," put in Fly, not wishing to be
selfish, although he would have given a good deal to take a turn in the
machine beside Hawke.

With the aid of the bystanders the plane was put back into the shed. Ike
was left to watch it until the crowd should disperse.

"We'll have another demonstration soon," said Hawke, noticing the
disappointment depicted on the faces of the onlookers as they divined
the intention to discontinue flying for that day.

"The plane has succeeded almost beyond my hopes," Hawke said, as after
luncheon he sat with the men and boys at the Crawford residence. "My
equalizing device has to be tested, but I'm sure it's going to be
entirely adequate to carry at least six passengers at a time."

"Well, you see you have a band of crack workmen," laughed Mr. Crawford,
taking the boys in with a gesture.

"That can be said with all seriousness," replied Hawke earnestly.

The week was spent in trying out the machine, Hawke and the boys making
several test flights each day. At the end of that time, they knew beyond
a doubt that they could trust the _Thunder Bird_ to do anything they
wished. Hawke and five of the boys had ridden in it with safety for four
hours, putting it to the most severe test.

With unfailing patience and ready good will, Hawke took them, by ones,
and twos, and often filling the machine to its capacity, explaining to
them the principles of successful flight. It was impossible, however, in
this short time, for all of the boys to become masters of the machine.
Fly, however, showed unusual proficiency, and by Saturday night was
enthusiastically begging to be allowed to take the machine up alone, a
request which was of course persistently refused by his anxious father
and mother.

"I'm astonished, though, at the ability the boy shows," Hawke told Mr.
Giles confidentially. "They're all first class, but Fly has the inborn
instincts of a successful bird-man. He takes hold instantaneously,
thinking, as it were, with his muscles, and handling his levers
automatically, with the precision of an expert. All the boys have steady
nerves and are going to acquire the poise and control of good fliers,
but your son has unusual intuition."

"But you wouldn't let him go up alone yet?" said Mr. Giles, skeptically,
though he might have altered his refusal at this assurance from Hawke if
Mrs. Giles had not protested anxiously.

"Well, no. Better wait until after the hunt. That'll give them a good
working basis," advised Hawke.

"Oh, please, please, please," pleaded Fly, whose anxiety to sail once,
only just once, alone and unaided, up into the inviting blue clouds, and
feel that he had at last achieved his great ambition, prompted him to
repeated entreaty that the privilege might be granted him.

"Time enough, my son," said Mr. Giles indulgently.

But the time came sooner than any of them dreamed.



CHAPTER XVII

IN SIGHT OF THE ENEMY


The following Monday morning, Herb telephoned that the marauder had
again appeared at the Phipps ranch, and had killed off three of the
fold, carrying one away.

It was decided, therefore, to proceed at once with the hunt, and, when
the capture of the thief had been accomplished, to continue the
instruction of the boys.

"Dad thinks the best way to begin is to watch around the fold at night
till the thing appears," said Herb.

His suggestion was adopted, and that night the Fort Bayard boys and
Hawke flew at dusk to the Bread Pudding ranch. It was not their first
trip to the B. P. in the new plane; in fact, it had become quite a
matter of course to drop in on Mr. Phipps, and, as the latter expressed
it, "tie the bird outside."

The full moon had waned and should a chase be necessary they would be
obliged to rely entirely on the acetylene lamps which, however, had been
well tried out. They were not to be lit, however, until needed, lest the
light should frighten away the enemy.

Hawke, Herb, Gray, Fred, Fly and Jerry remained near the plane, which
was stationed just inside the wire fence enclosing the sheepfold. Carl
and Dunk went to the other side of the pasture, while Mr. Phipps and one
of his herders took up their position near the entrance gate. Between
them all, they hoped to get a glimpse of the unwelcome visitor. If Hawke
or his companions sighted him first they were to give instant chase in
the plane, if they could not shoot him, which would be practically
impossible in the dark. The others agreed to wave their lanterns if they
were the first to come in contact with the mysterious sheep stealer. The
plane would then be put into use.

Quietly but anxiously the pursuers watched, until, about nine o'clock,
Jerry began to despair.

"Bet now we're ready for him the old guy won't turn up," he said,
disappointedly.

"Don't worry," assured Herb. "Like as not he won't come 'round till
midnight. That's his usual calling time."

"Regular New York swell," commented Gray.

"Wonder what kind of a thing it is," said Fred.

"I'm beginnin' to think it's a witch--never comes around in daylight,
and nobody ever can get a peep at him," responded Jerry.

"We'll soon find out," returned Herb. "Least, I hope so."

"How near's Chance now?" suddenly interrogated Fred.

"He's within a couple day's run of us," responded Hawke. "Ought to pass
over here Tuesday or Wednesday."

"Gee, bet it'll take a fall out of him to see another plane bobbin
'round here, won't it?" said Herb.

"We'll surprise him, all right," laughed Hawke. "He'll lose his bearings
when he sees us put in our appearance. I'll find out the time he's
comin' and run him a race."

"He's clippin' off a good record," commented Fred, who had been reading
the papers. "Goin' to make it, I guess."

Talking thus the hours sped by until it was after eleven o'clock. The
night descended thicker and blacker as time passed, and in the tense
silence, broken now and then by a tuneful bleat, the boys huddled closer
together and talked in hushed voices.

"We sure could hear the flutter of a wing," reflected Herb.

The next moment they were on their feet, scarcely suppressing a yell.
Something had rushed directly over them, fanning the air like a
propeller, but with less noise. Quick as thought they were in the plane,
the lamps were flashed on and they had mounted into the air.

A huge flying bulk was just in front of them, and, as it swooped
downward toward the sheep, a shout from Fred apparently startled it, for
it rose again, and, whirling, circled rapidly above the fold.

"It's some kind of a flying monster all right," whispered Herb
excitedly.

Hawke had made a rapid semicircle and was flying swiftly in pursuit,
but, as he had lost time in turning, the object had become a part of the
darkness and he could only steer in the direction in which it had seemed
to be flying.

"Carl's waving his lantern," exclaimed Herb. "Must be over there."

Hawke veered quickly. The lamps, while shedding a bright glow for some
distance around the machine, did not throw their light very far ahead.

"There is it, under us," cried Fly. They could see a huge, black,
floating mass, just beneath them.

Circling again and again it was with the utmost difficulty that they
kept it in sight. At last, however, it struck a straight line for the
cliffs.

"We can't get an aim if he keeps on swerving," said Herb.

"Steady, fellows," warned Hawke, for they had moved about, twisting in
their seats, to get a sight of the game. The plane was mounting steadily
higher, and Hawke had reduced his speed, pursuing the enemy as well as
he could, for it had adopted a zigzag course, flying to right and left
and dipping up and down.

"I'm going to try a shot anyway," said Herb.

The others unconsciously left the shooting to the southerner, who, it
was naturally and rightly supposed, would be glad to bag the animal that
had given his father so much trouble.

Young Phipps took aim at the first good opportunity, and shot three
times. It seemed to be without result, for the huge shape moved on,
though its course became more uncertain than ever, and, although it
seemed heading toward the mountain ranges, its flight was uneven and
hap-hazard.

"We must be over the mountains now," said Fly, after a time.

"We're about 1,800 feet above level," responded Hawke.

At that moment the bird resumed its swift circles, flying downward.
Pointing the nose of the plane toward the earth, Hawke followed it,
making a thrilling spiral descent.

"Why, there's the old tower," cried Fred, when the plane had dropped far
enough for its lights to play upon the surface below.

"And he's circling down for it," cried Fly.

"That's his roost, I'll bet," exclaimed Jerry.

"Then it must be the Thunder Bird Carl told about--the one you saw when
I tried to take that picture--the one that raised the storm," jabbered
Fred disjointedly.

"And the one the old Indian is after," put in Gray.

"Let him roost, and then we'll get him," suggested Herb.

But Hawke had altered his course, and was making swiftly in the
direction of home.

"Where you going?" shouted Fly in surprise. It had been necessary for
them to raise their voices considerably, for the mountain torrents were
distinctly heard below, while the noise of their own machine added made
hearing difficult.

"We've got to get right back," responded the aviator, throwing on top
speed.

"What--what for?" yelled Gray. "We nearly had him."

"There's a wind rising, and I felt a splash of rain," returned the
aviator. "We can't take chances over these peaks in a storm."

As if to corroborate his statement there was a distant rumble.

"Thunder," gasped Jerry breathlessly, for the speed of the machine
almost shut off his wind, and like the other boys he was clinging
tightly to his seat.

"I felt rain then, too," shouted Herb.

Another rumble, louder than the first, sent thrills down their backs.

"It was the Thunder Bird all right," yelled Fred. "I told you I saw him
that day."

"We know where he lives now, though," returned Fly.

But they were dashing through space at such a terrific pace that speech
became impossible. Hawke was bending every energy to beat the storm.
Already the wind had risen considerably, and he was obliged to
concentrate his whole thought on the control of the machine.

"Make for the B. P.," requested Herb. "Dad'll be anxious to know how we
come out. We can--"

But the rest of his sentence was lost in a deafening roar, while a flash
of lightning split the darkness and revealed, below them, the stretches
of pasture belonging to the Bread Pudding ranch.

While they had been obliged to give up when victory was within easy
reach, the boys were more pleased than otherwise at the adventurous turn
things had taken. The flight by night, so eagerly anticipated, was
becoming more exciting than they had expected.

Before they realized it, they had skidded down and stopped in front of
the ranch-house. But they could only pause long enough to allow Herb and
Gray to dismount, for it was necessary to reach the Fort as quickly as
possible and lodge the plane in its shed before the storm, whose
threatening voice was growing constantly louder, broke upon them.

The boys had no chance to exchange words with the rancher before, Carl
and Dunk having taken the place of Herb and Gray, they were whisked
upward again. And, though anxious to learn the result of their
companion's flight, the Indian and his friend were obliged to wait
until, just in time, they had shoved the plane back into the hangar and
rushed to the Crawford residence. They had scarcely reached the veranda
when the fury of the tempest was upon them.

"Whew!" ejaculated Hawke, breathing a deep sigh of relief. "That was a
record run. If I had made that at an aviation meet I'll bet they'd have
awarded me some kind of a medal."

He spoke lightly, and the boys never knew how wonderfully well he had
made that flight. Not one aviator in a hundred would have been able to
accomplish it with such coolness and accuracy as Hawke had displayed.
Perhaps, after they had themselves learned to fly, they realized the
precarious condition in which they had been that night and how much they
owed their safe return to Hawke.

They were greeted cordially by the captain when they arrived at the
Fort, who listened, with unfeigned interest, to their rapid recital of
the evening's events.

"But we're goin' back to-morrow," said Fly, "and get him. For we know
where he roosts."

"Yes," said Hawke. "We must lose no time. We have the drop on him now,
and I'll run you all up there in the morning. You can let Herb and Gray
know."

"Telegram for Mr. Hawke," announced Ike, appearing, dripping but
smiling, at the screen door.

"Well, what do you think of that!" exclaimed the aviator, his face
suddenly growing grave as he read the wire, and handed it to the
captain, who was quickly surrounded by the boys.

"'Mexican insurrectos threaten invasion of Texas,'" read Jerry's father.
"'Come immediately. Take charge aviation corps. Urgent.'" The message
was dated from Juarez, and was signed by General Marley, commander of
the border troops.



CHAPTER XVIII

SUCCESS AT LAST


The next day was a blue one for the boys. Apparently all their plans had
been knocked sideways. The hunt, for which they had worked and waited
all summer, had been nipped in the bud at the moment of success.

"Let's scout it, anyhow," suggested Fred that evening, as the downcast
group huddled together on Jerry's veranda.

"What d'ye mean?" asked Dunk, uninterestedly.

"Well, make a trip up into the mountains and see what we can do,"
continued the easterner.

"How you going to get across that ravine?" disparaged Fly, who had been
moping all day. "It's too wide even to throw a rope across."

"I could get across if you could span it with a rope ladder," said Carl.

"Maybe Herb wounded him so badly he's dead up there somewhere," Jerry
went on. "You know he told us over the phone that he and Gray found some
feathers about where he shot the other night."

"Whether it's a bird or not, it's got wings," said Carl. "But if those
feathers are as long as Herb said they were it can't be an eagle."

"Don't care nohow," responded Fly, shoving his hands deep into his
pockets with an air of dejection as he rose to his feet. "Hawke maybe
can't be back this summer. Didn't even have a chance to say good-bye to
the B. P. bunch. And mother just won't let me run the plane alone. Aw,
I'm going home," he continued thoroughly disgusted. "Good night."

"Wait a minute--here comes your father," said Fred.

"Just got a letter from Hawke," announced Mr. Giles, walking up to the
veranda.

"What does he say?" exclaimed Fred eagerly, the faces of all the boys
brightening at once. A faint hope of the aviator's early return sprang
into their minds.

"Don't get too excited if I tell you," said Mr. Giles mischievously.

This only served to make the boys more anxious, of course.

"Well, he says he thinks Fly's pretty steady and could handle the
machine all right alone. So we've decided to let you continue the hunt.
We owe it to Phipps anyhow," he added.

"What!" yelled Fly, scarcely comprehending the good news at first.

"Hurray!" shouted several of the boys.

"Keep cool," laughed Mr. Crawford, but Fly was unable to contain himself
for joy, and singing gayly, began hopping around first on one leg and
then the other.

"I knew it would come out all right," said Dunk, although his attitude
of a half hour before had not betokened very strong optimism.

"We'll go right over to the Phipps ranch in the morning," announced Fly,
when he became calmer, "tell Herb and Gray, and start right out. Maybe
Herb can go up with me," and he turned another handspring.

"I'd like to see a trial flight first," said the father.

"Just give me the chance," retorted Fly.

The next morning, before a skeptical audience composed of Mr. and Mrs.
Giles, Captain Crawford and his wife, Mrs. Windham and Lieutenant
Rivers, Fly practically repeated Hawke's performance of the first day.

"My, it's great!" he exclaimed after the flight, his eyes shining and
his face flushed. "I could do it with Hawke, and I knew I could do it
alone."

The older ones were satisfied, and Fly was permitted to start out for
the B. P. to get Herb, if his father would allow him to go. It was
planned that the others should ride, and going as far as they could with
their horses, climb up to the spot near the tower.

Mr. Phipps was at first reluctant, but a telephone conversation with Mr.
Giles and Captain Crawford, strengthened by eager coaxing on the part of
his son, finally gained his consent. Gray started off to meet the other
boys with his pony.

Fly and Herb remained at the B. P., for a while, to give the plane a
thorough inspection, and to make a rope ladder they had previously
planned to use if possible.

About midway in their way they experienced some difficulty with the
engine, and were obliged to make a landing in a pasture and remedy the
difficulty. This took the better part of an hour.

"I feel that we're goin' to get him to-day," said Herb, as Fly once more
lifted the plane above the green meadowland. It was one of those rare,
quiet, contented summer days, when even the bee's buzzing sounded noisy.
The mountains, with all their towering majesty, seemed challenging the
young aviators, who, calm and confident, rose steadily upward and
forward, the fresh air blowing cool and sweet against their faces. It
was a day such as fills the veins with a joyousness of life, a
willingness to undertake anything, and a confidence that bespeaks
success.

They were soon passing swiftly over the rugged mountain's face, its huge
irregular boulders, tufted here and there with stubborn plant life,
rapidly receding. The tall majestic firs, which, as the boys looked down
from their superior height, dwindled to miniature Christmas trees with
the morning dew still upon them glistening like toy candles, and the
foaming torrents rushing down the time-scarred and waterworn ravines.

Above all they could see, as they mounted higher, the gloomy old tower
lifting its dark head to the sunshine, and rising out of a mass of rock,
stone and dense growth.

"Look! Look!" panted Herb when they at last circled above the mysterious
dwelling.

Fly looked down through the mica window at his feet and saw, crouching
between the four walls of the roof, a monstrous feathered shape,
apparently headless, its wings folded. Like some gorged dragon it lay
there, contentedly wallowing in a bed of bones, skeletons, sheeps' wool
and meat still red, the remains of many an ill-gotten feast.

Startled by the noise of the propellers, it drew out from under its wing
its great shining black head, disclosing a vicious hooked beak.

Meanwhile, the rest of the party had arrived on the other side of the
ravine. They shouted at the boys in the air, but the tremendous noise
caused by the roaring water and the whirring propellers, drowned their
voices completely. Herb and Fly had seen them, however.

"Scare him out," suggested Fly. "Then they can all see him and have a
shot."

"I hate to shoot an enemy in the back," said Herb. "But he deserves it."
And he fired down into the roost. But the plane was going at such a
speed that his aim was not true. The bullet struck the side of the
structure, throwing up dust and mortar. The creature fluttered and
stirred, moving its head about perplexedly, but remained in its nest.

Herb shot a second time, just grazing his mark, picking off some of the
feathers on the monster's back. At this time the crouching shape sprang
upward with a sharp cry of anger, almost completely hiding the top of
the tower from view, so enormous was the spread of its wings.

"There it is! There it is," exclaimed several of the party on the back
of the ravine.

"An eagle," gasped Fred.

"The Thunder Bird," panted Carl.

"But what's the matter with him?" cried Dunk. At the same moment, the
boys, staring upward with fascinated eyes, gave a cry of alarm.

The great creature seemed flying about wildly, furiously, without sense
of, or regard for direction, beating its immense wings against the air,
and, instead of attempting to escape, flew straight for the plane,
almost colliding with it.

Fly, who had anticipated a chase, now found himself on the defensive,
and was obliged to dodge, circle, swoop and whirl in a manner that made
his head swim. Although almost near enough to touch the bird at times,
the motion of the machine and the strange uncertain course of their
antagonist made accurate aim impossible.

Above them it flew, passing like a dark cloud over the machine, then
veering down so suddenly that Fly was obliged to concentrate all his
energies to get out of its way. It was an equal conflict between
nature's great king of the air, and the supreme handicraft of mechanical
skill which had been made to conquer it in its own element.

"It must be blind," said Herb, remembering that Carl had told them the
Thunder Bird was sightless in the daylight. "If I could only get a line
on it!"

The boys below dared not shoot, lest their bullets go astray and strike
their friends. The monster seemed possessed by an insane rage, throwing
itself about in the air with blind recklessness.

"Now!" exclaimed Fly, as the wily native of the air rushed below them.
Herb, with the quickness of an experienced hunter, did not waste his
chance. There was a loud report, a shrill blood-curdling cry, such as
they had heard on two other occasions, and the creature's inert bulk
whirled to the earth, landing heavily almost in front of Jerry.

It was not yet dead however, and the boys made for a safe distance, as
the monster, in its death struggle, furiously beat the ground with its
powerful wings, springing upward again and again in a desperate effort
to recover itself, each time falling back.

"Finish him," implored Fred. "It's a shame to have him suffer."

A second later a shot from Dunk's rifle stilled the great bird's
fluttering form forever. Its frightful beak opened and closed, its
beastlike talons sought to clutch support, its owl-like eyes became
glazed and fixed. The Thunder Bird had killed his last sheep!

Hushed and silent the boys crowded around the huddled shape. Carl,
taking hold of one of its wings, pulled it out to its natural spread.

"About four feet," he said. "Must have a spread of ten. And about five
feet from the end of its beak to the tip of its tail."

"Wonder how old he is?" speculated Fred.

Just then something fell in their midst. It was a note from Herb,
weighted with a heavy memorandum book.

"We've done the deed. Now for the reward," it read. "We can see
something glistening like gold under a shelf in the roof. Ask Carl to
get it. We'll drop the ladder."

Carl waved his hat in assent, while Herb swung the rope ladder down,
attempting to hitch it at some point on the side of the gorge near the
tower. At the third trial, it lodged over a projecting rock, which
jutted, hooklike, from the wall of the ravine. Carl caught the other end
and fastened it. The crossing did not prove as perilous as it looked,
for the rope held firm, and it was an easy trick for an Indian.

After some fumbling among the shrubs, Carl disappeared, and the boys
knew he must have found an entrance to the dwelling. They were right,
for the Indian, through a low door obscured by shrubs, had crawled into
the house of mystery. Though it was dark at first, he soon perceived a
thin ray of light percolating through an opening in the roof. He was
provided with matches, and lighting a few of these, he scrutinized the
walls for some possible handhold by which he could mount. Directly under
the aperture through which the feeble light came he struck what seemed
to be poles projecting from the sides of the tower.

"A ladder," he thought, and made short work of the climb. With little
difficulty he scrambled through the roof-opening to the outside of the
tower. A wall about five feet high ran around the edge of the roof,
along the four sides of which was a projecting shelf several feet wide.
In the center, cluttered with refuse of all kinds, was the abode of the
Thunder Bird, to which he would never more return.

Under the shelf in one corner was the shining object the boys had
written of. Carl uttered an exclamation of surprise and delight when he
found this to be a beautiful bowl, apparently of beaten gold, measuring
about fifteen inches in diameter, and set with many semi-precious stones
of varied hue.

"The Holy Bowl of the Medicine Men," he said wonderingly, astonished at
its seeming newness. Though it must be decades old it appeared to have
been recently polished. A vague thought of the mysterious Indian flashed
through Carl's mind. He jumped up on the shelf and held up to the
admiring gaze of his companions below the brilliant trophy, which
glittered with dazzling brightness in the sun.

A shout greeted this sign, and, after looking around without success for
further relics, he tucked the bowl under his arm and descended. Again
pushing through the thick foliage that had obscured the low entrance, he
came out, flushed and excited, holding the prize aloft.

Suddenly the watching boys uttered a warning cry, but before he could
comprehend it, Carl was seized around the waist by strong arms and
thrown to the ground with violent force. The next moment he found
himself grappling with the strange Indian.



CHAPTER XIX

JUMPING A PEAK


Before Carl had an opportunity to recover himself the Indian had seized
the golden bowl and was making off with it at top speed. It did not take
the lad long to comprehend the situation, however, and springing to his
feet, he soon overtook the would-be thief. Wresting the prize from him,
and throwing it to one side, Carl met the attack with the strength,
ability and skill only found in strong young manhood. But the older
Indian was fully a match for him, and the struggle promised to be a long
and hard one if Carl were left to fight it alone.

[Illustration: The struggle promised to be a long and hard one if Carl
were left to fight it alone. But this the other boys did not propose to
allow, and they immediately began to cross on the rope ladder.]

This the other boys did not propose should be the case. Forgetting all
fear for themselves in the face of Carl's danger, they immediately
prepared to utilize the rope ladder, crossing even more quickly than
Carl had done and surely with less caution, for their only thought was
to come to the rescue of their friend.

Carl's assailant, whose every energy was strained to gain an advantage,
did not hear their approach. Before he realized it he found himself
helpless in the hands of the strong palefaces, his hands tied behind his
back, a threatening Remington, in the hands of Jerry, pointed meaningly
in his direction. He was very much the worse for wear, his face having
been severely scratched across the lines of paint, and his clothes
considerably disarranged.

"Well, what shall we do with him?" asked Dunk, turning to Carl. "He
ought to be pitched over the ravine."

But the Indian boy's face wore a strange expression. His eyes were wide
and staring, and he stood, pale and open-mouthed, regarding his helpless
enemy.

"What's the matter!" cried Gray, alarmed.

Carl did not reply, but walked up to the captive, and, with a hand that
shook slightly, examined something that hung on a string around his
neck. Then he pulled out the charm from under his own shirt.

"Look," he said huskily.

The stones were exactly alike.

Although the older Indian betrayed no signs of surprise or emotion he
broke into an angry torrent of Apache.

Carl, stepping forward, took out his hunting knife, and cut the other's
bonds.

"Now get!" he commanded, allowing himself the pleasure of one strong
punch at the back of the conquered redskin, who lost no time in making
his get-away.

"That's my uncle," said Carl coolly. "I'm civilized and educated, or I'd
kill him. Come on, let's get back."

The others thought it best not to make any further reference to the
matter, and silently followed Carl, the bowl again in his possession,
across the ladder spanning the cascade. At the same time the boys in the
plane, who had watched the conflict with tense anxiety, started back to
the Fort.

"Gee, I can't stand much more to-day," ejaculated Fly, as they circled
the tower for the last time.

"Strange what a lot can happen to a fellow in a short time," commented
Herb, reviewing mentally the many adventures in which they had all been
involved that summer.

"But most important of all," continued Fly, "we've laid the Thunder Bird
low--we've done something for your father."

"Now the next thing is for you to teach us all to aviate," laughed the
southerner. "But I don't believe I can ever handle a machine as you do."

"Sure," exclaimed Fly. "Why you--" but he stopped short with an
exclamation of horror that fairly froze his companion's blood. At the
same moment, Herb was conscious that something--he knew not what--had
happened. The loud insistent voice of the machinery was abruptly
stilled.

Looking perplexedly at Fly, he saw great drops of perspiration starting
out on the young pilot's forehead. "The motor is dead," he breathed, his
throat and lips going dry.

For a moment Herb's heart seemed to stop in sympathy with the mechanism
that had failed them.

"Can't you volplane," he said giddily.

"Rocks, peaks, crags," sputtered Fly. Oh, if he were only over the
smooth meadow. But to volplane here would mean certain death. As it was,
he was sliding along at a perceptibly lessening speed. Any moment the
machine might balk and rear, hurling them both to destruction.

But Fly was plucky and after the first shock he recovered his nerve,
bending every energy of mind and body to maintain his balance. To keep
high enough and steady enough until they left the mountains was his sole
endeavor. After that, he felt confident that he could volplane with
safety into the meadow. Even now he could see this haven of inviting
green tantalizingly near at hand--and yet so far away. Grudgingly he was
obliged to slant, else the machine would rear and wrest the control from
him. But the slightest incline was too much now, for it meant landing on
the rocks.

Though a fever raged in his brain, he was rapidly calculating. Someway
he must save Herb. That was his predominant thought.

"I'll do it," he suddenly exclaimed through his shut teeth, at the same
moment swooping down with such rapidity that his companion's head was
jerked violently back, and he grabbed tight hold of his seat. Confident
that the end had come, the southerner resolutely shut his eyes and
relaxed.

But he was sitting rigid a moment later, for the aeroplane had shot
upward again with a jerk, mounting higher and higher, until it seemed
ready to tip backwards and whirl to earth like the mortally wounded
Thunder Bird.

"Fly!" he implored, suddenly petrified with the fear that his companion
had lost his senses and was deliberately throwing caution to the winds
with hopeless recklessness.

The suspense was only for a second, although that seemed to span an
eternity. At the last moment, when the plane seemed ready to tilt and
somersault backwards, Fly fairly threw it forward with main force, and,
as it plunged swiftly downward, he breathed a reassuring sigh. Below
them they saw the carpet of the meadow spread out calm and serene, a
pale slender stream winding its peaceful course zigzag between
flower-decked banks--gently flowing waters that would have reflected
their dash to death and destruction as undisturbedly as it mirrored
their safe descent.

Dizzy and faint, but almost sick with joy, they landed gently on the
bosom of mother earth. Fly had taken a desperate chance to clear the
peaks, and had succeeded.

"Safe!" he groaned, too weak to move from the plane. "I'm so glad, old
man," he added huskily. "If anything had happened to you--"

"Why, it's a couple of boys," a cheerful voice was saying just behind
them.

Herb and Fly turned to see two men approaching the plane, and, at the
same moment, their eyes took in another strange sight. A hundred feet or
so behind them stood another plane!

"I must believe it, for I have seen it with my own eyes," continued the
speaker, a slender young fellow with a spare blond mustache. "You
accomplished a feat there, my boy, that I wouldn't attempt for fifty
thousand dollars!"

"Who are you?" asked Fly weakly. Surely this was an apparition. The
nerve which had upheld him in the face of imminent danger seemed now
deserting him. He felt like falling over in a limp heap, abandoning
himself to the sick faintness which made his head swim. He saw the
stranger as in a haze, and his voice came to him faintly out of the vast
distance.

"I'll get him some water," said the other man. "He looks sick."

"No wonder," exclaimed the other. "I never saw such a performance as
that in my life."

"Is--is that plane yours?" asked Herb, who, like Fly, did not know
whether the two strangers were real beings or ghosts.

"Sure. I just had a silly little breakdown. Stopped to mend it.
Then--great Cæsar, I saw you fellows up there. How my brain went
traveling when I realized the plight you were in. And you came through!
A couple of kids! Who is he?" he continued, referring to Fly. "Where did
he learn to control like that--at his age!"

The speaker's friend was forcing Fly to drink the water he had brought
for him from the stream, and when the boy had moistened his lips, the
man bathed his brow and face with the solicitude of a brother.

But Fly's sinking spell was only momentary and he soon recovered his
composure.

"Where you going?" demanded their new friend breezily. "I'm going to
take charge of you. You're in no condition to fly any more to-day."

But the young aviator was made of stronger stuff.

"Oh, I can handle her all right," he said contemptuously, a little
ashamed of the weakness he had shown.

"What!" ejaculated the blond young man, looking at his friend in
amazement, as much as to say, "Listen to that, will you!"

"Nothing doing," he added, decidedly. "Barkely, just take care of our
baby--follow us up--while I whirl this young dare-devil to--where will
it be?"

"Fort Bayard," said Herb, laughing. Certainly, this was an engaging
young fellow, and he didn't mind having him along at all.

"Now, young man, I'm going to throw you out of that seat if you don't
move over, and let me run this thing!" commanded the stranger. "Hike!"

Fly good-naturedly gave way, for he shared Herb's admiration and was
thoroughly pleased with this new acquaintance.

"Who--who are you?" asked Fly again, as the machine ascended.

"That's what I want to know about you," returned the stranger. "I'll
tell if you will. My name's Chance."

"Chance!" gasped the boys at once.

"Sure. Ever hear of me?"

"You bet," answered Herb heartily. "You know Hawke, don't you?"

"Hawke the government aviator?" repeated the stranger in surprise.

"Yep."

"Well, he helped us to build this machine, and taught us how to run it,"
informed Fly.

"Build this machine?" Young Chance scrutinized his informant as he would
look upon a strange, supernatural being.

"Say," he said. "We want fellows like you in New York. You wouldn't mind
making some good money, would you?"

"I--I--" began Fly, but he could not wield his tongue somehow.

"Got a father around the Fort?" asked the young aviator brusquely.

"Yes--yes," answered Fly. "You must meet him."

That evening, when Herb met the boys returning from their mountain trip,
triumphantly bearing the Thunder Bird, which Dunk and Jerry carried with
the aid of a stout branch stuck through its bound feet, and happily
flashing the golden bowl, he ceremoniously held up his hand for them to
halt, demanding silence.

"We formed a Boy Scout patrol," he began strangely. "Didn't we?"

"Why--yes," replied Fred, wonderingly.

"That's nothing." Herb wrinkled his nose contemptuously. "And shot a
grizzly?" he interrogated.

"Why yes," answered Gray, regarding him with a puzzled expression.

"That's nothin'," repeated the southerner. "We built an aeroplane," he
went on. "That's nothin'. Mere trifle. We shot the Thunder Bird.
Nothin', nothin' at all. That bowl's nothin'."

"Say, what you driving at," exclaimed Jerry. "Spit it out quick, or you
to the bug house."

"Because something has happened that makes everythin' else look like a
thunder clap when it quits."

"What?"

"Fly's goin' to New York to be an aviator with Chance!"

       *       *       *       *       *

Vacation is over. We are again waiting for the train in the stuffy
little depot at Silver City. Gray and Fred are there--they are going
back to school. Mr. Phipps is there, smiling happily upon the handsome
boy who is returning to college. Captain Crawford and his wife are
there, proud of the stalwart young son they are sending to New Jersey,
where he will complete his education at Princeton. Lieutenant Rivers and
his wife are there, for Dunk is going to an eastern medical school.

And Carl is there, for Carl too is going to college. True, he lost the
money he had saved for the purpose, but the golden bowl, which the boys
persuaded him was his by right of conquest, proved to be of sufficient
value to pay his way through and leave him a generous surplus. Thus,
after all, the unselfish Indian realized his dream.

One of the boys is missing--Fly. He left a month ago for New York, where
he has already met Mr. Chance, and is showing promise of being one of
the most successful bird-men of the day. Before leaving the Fort, he
gave all of the boys sufficient instruction to enable them to fly alone,
and to qualify for the aviation medal, which, with a number of other
awards, for first aid, machinery, marksmanship and stalking, were
promptly awarded to the members of the Thunder Bird Patrol, at the
recommendation of Hawke, who remembers them now and then with letters
from Juarez.

The _Thunder Bird_ aeroplane is safely packed away at the Phipps ranch,
where it is to remain until next summer, for, if all turns out well, the
boys are again to spend their next vacation in New Mexico.

As for the Thunder Bird himself, stuffed and mounted it occupies a
prominent place in the Phipps ranch-house. So hideous is its aspect even
in this harmless condition, that you would not care to stumble on it
unawares in the dark, but it no longer makes nightly visits to the
sheepfold for prey.

The treacherous redskin, his idol dead, has disappeared, and, according
to Tommy, has gone back to the Mexican gold fields.

The antiquated train finally reaches the old depot, puffing and blowing
as though short of breath. Our young friends scramble into the dusty
coaches, stumbling over their suit cases, and bumping good-naturedly
against one another.

There are reluctant but cheerful good-byes, and the wheels turn slowly,
gathering speed as the last coach passes the station. The last we see of
it, handkerchiefs are still fluttering and hats waving farewell.



The Boy Scouts of the Air Books

_By_ GORDON STUART


Are stirring stories of adventure in which real boys, clean-cut and
wide-awake, do the things other wide-awake boys like to read about.

    THE BOY SCOUTS OF THE AIR AT EAGLE CAMP

    THE BOY SCOUTS OF THE AIR AT GREENWOOD SCHOOL

    THE BOY SCOUTS OF THE AIR IN INDIAN LAND

    THE BOY SCOUTS OF THE AIR IN NORTHERN WILDS

    THE BOY SCOUTS OF THE AIR ON FLATHEAD MOUNTAIN



The Boys' Big Game Series


THE GIANT MOOSE.

The monarch of the big Northwest; a story told over camp fires in the
reak of cedar smoke and the silence of the barrens.

THE WHITE TIGER OF NEPAL.

The weird story of the man-killer of the foothills. Tinged with the
mysticism of India, dramatic and stirring.

THE BLIND LION OF THE CONGO.

A story of the least known part of the earth and its most feared beast.
A gripping tale of the land of the white pigmies.

THE KING BEAR OF KADIAK ISLAND.

A tale of the bully of the Frozen North and his mysterious guardian. A
game-and-man-story that makes a good boy-story.

THE ROGUE ELEPHANT.

A big game hunt that leads into strange lands and stranger adventures in
a real big game country.



_Books for Older Children by L. Frank Baum_


The Daring Twins Series

In writing "The Daring Twins Series" Mr. Baum yielded to the hundreds of
requests that have been made of him by youngsters, both boys and girls,
who in their early childhood read and loved his famous "Oz" books, to
write a story for young folk of the ages between twelve and eighteen.

A story of the real life of real boys and girls in a real family under
real conditions.

_Two Titles:_

    The Daring Twins
    Phoebe Daring

While preparing these books Mr. Baum lived with his characters. They
have every element of the drama of life as it begins within the lives of
children. The two stories are a mixture of the sublime and the
ridiculous; the foibles and fancies of childhood, interspersed with
humor and pathos.



The Famous AIRSHIP BOYS SERIES

_By_ H. L. SAYLER


_SEVEN TITLES_

    THE AIRSHIP BOYS Or, The Quest of the Aztec Treasure
    THE AIRSHIP BOYS ADRIFT Or, Saved by an Aeroplane
    THE AIRSHIP BOYS DUE NORTH Or, By Balloon to the Pole
    THE AIRSHIP BOYS IN THE BARREN LANDS Or, The Secret of the White
      Eskimos
    THE AIRSHIP BOYS IN FINANCE Or, The Flight of the Flying Cow
    THE AIRSHIP BOYS' OCEAN FLYER Or, New York to London in Twelve Hours
    THE AIRSHIP BOYS AS DETECTIVES Or, On Secret Service in Cloudland

Fascinating stories of that wonderful region of invention where
imagination and reality so nearly meet. There is no more interesting
field for stories for wide-awake boys. Mr. Sayler combines a remarkable
narrative ability with a degree of technical knowledge that makes these
books correct in all airship details. Full of adventure without being
sensational.



The Captain Becky Series

_By_ MARGARET LOVE SANDERSON


Resourceful, self-reliant, sunny-natured Captain Becky will find many
friends among girl readers. The Captain Becky Series is a noteworthy
contribution to books for girls--distinctive and individual in every
detail, inside and out.

Two very much alive stories of a girl who makes things happen--who is a
_doer_. Whether she is on cruise on the picturesque Indian River in
Florida or in laughable masquerade among the old homesteads of New
Hampshire, her experiences are worth writing about--and worth reading.
Two titles:

    Captain Becky's Winter Cruise.
    Captain Becky's Masquerade.



The Aeroplane Boys Series

_By_ ASHTON LAMAR


"The best yet written," says the Grand Rapids Herald. These stories have
a strong appeal to the active American boy, as their steady sales bear
witness. Each of the seven titles already published has met with great
popularity, and the new title, "On the Edge of the Arctic," is the best
of the series. Correct in all mechanical details, full of wholesome
adventure and excitement.

EIGHT TITLES

    _IN THE CLOUDS FOR UNCLE SAM
    Or, Morey Marshall of the Signal Corps_

    _THE STOLEN AEROPLANE
    Or, How Bud Wilson Made Good_

    _THE AEROPLANE EXPRESS
    Or, The Boy Aeronaut's Grit_

    _THE BOY AERONAUTS' CLUB
    Or, Flying for Fun_

    _A CRUISE IN THE SKY
    Or, The Legend of the Great Pink Pearl_

    _BATTLING THE BIGHORN
    Or, The Aeroplane in the Rockies_

    _WHEN SCOUT MEETS SCOUT
    Or, The Aeroplane Spy_

    _ON THE EDGE OF THE ARCTIC
    Or, An Aeroplane in Snowland_



The Aunt Jane's Nieces Series

BOOKS FOR GIRLS

_By_ EDITH VAN DYNE


EIGHT TITLES

    _Aunt Jane's Nieces_
    _Aunt Jane's Nieces Abroad_
    _Aunt Jane's Nieces at Millville_
    _Aunt Jane's Nieces at Work_
    _Aunt Jane's Nieces in Society_
    _Aunt Jane's Nieces and Uncle John_
    _Aunt Jane's Nieces on Vacation_
    _Aunt Jane's Nieces on the Ranch_

Distinctly girls' books and yet stories that will appeal to _brother_ as
well--and to older folk. Real and vital--rousing stories of the
experiences and exploits of three real girls who do things. Without
being sensational, Mrs. Van Dyne has succeeded in writing a series of
stories that have the tug and stir of fresh young blood in them. Each
story is complete in itself.



The Girl Graduate

HER OWN BOOK

_A Novelty Every Girl Wants_


In which to keep the happy record of her last year at school or
college--a book she will keep and prize always.

There is a place for everything dear to the girl graduate's heart and
memory--class flower, color, yell, motto, photographs, jokes and
frolics.

Departments for social events, officers, teachers, invitations,
baccalaureate sermon, programmes, presents, press notices, class
prophecy and various "doings."

THE GIRL GRADUATE is equally appropriate for young girls leaving grade
or high schools and their older sisters who have "finished" at college
or boarding school. It makes a suitable present at any season of the
year.



ANNABEL

_By_ SUSANNE METCALF


A girls' book with a clever, quick-moving plot is unusual. ANNABEL is
that kind. The heroine is a lovable girl, but one with plenty of
snap--her red hair testifies to that. Her friend, Will Carden, too, is a
boy of unusual qualities, as is apparent in everything he does. He and
Annabel make an excellent team.

The two, the best of chums, retrieve the fortunes of the Carden family
in a way that makes some exciting situations. The secret of the
mysterious Mr. Jordan is surprised by Annabel, while Will, in a trip to
England with an unexpected climax, finds the real fortune of the
Cardens.

ANNABEL is a book whose make-up is in keeping with the high quality of
the story.



School-Fellow Days

_Designed by_ CLARA POWERS WILSON


_A Memory Book for Younger Boys_

A record book suitable for boys of the upper grammar grades, through
high school, preparatory school and military academy. Striking
illustrations, printed in two colors on specially made, tinted paper
with good writing surface.


My Golden School Days

For schoolboys of all ages--with places and departments for every
important item of interest--and containing appropriate verses and poems.



Azalea

_By_ ELIA W. PEATTIE

The first book of the "Blue Ridge" Series


Azalea is the heroine of a good, wholesome story that will appeal to
every mother as the sort of book she would like her daughter to read. In
the homy McBirneys of Mt. Tennyson, down in the Blue Ridge country, and
their hearty mountain neighbors, girl readers will find new friends they
will be glad to make old friends.

This book marks a distinct advance in the quality of books offered for
girls. No lack of action--no sacrifice of charm.



The Flying Girl Series

_By_ EDITH VAN DYNE

_Author of "Aunt Jane's Nieces" Series_

_Exhilarating Books for Girls of Today_


Capital up-to-the-minute stories for girls and young people, in which
the author is at her very best. Thrilling and full of adventure, but of
that wholesome type parents are glad to put in the hands of their
daughters. Two titles:

The Flying Girl

Orissa Kane, self-reliant and full of sparkling good nature, under-study
for her brother, prospective inventor and aviator whose experiments put
the Kane family into great difficulties, in the crisis proves
resourceful and plucky, and saves the day in a most thrilling manner.

The Flying Girl and Her Chum

This story takes Orissa and her friend Sybil through further adventures
that test these two clever girls to the limit. A remarkably well told
story.





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