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Title: The Boy Aviators' Flight for a Fortune
Author: Goldfrap, John Henry, 1879-1917
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 Aviators' Flight for a Fortune" ***

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[Illustration: FRANK WAS LIFTED BY MAIN FORCE AND PLACED IN IT.—_Page
228._]



                           THE BOY AVIATORS’
                          FLIGHT FOR A FORTUNE

                                   BY
                         CAPTAIN WILBUR LAWTON

                     AUTHOR OF “THE BOY AVIATORS,”
                        “DREADNOUGHT BOYS,” ETC.

                            _ILLUSTRATED BY_
                           _CHARLES L. WRENN_

                                NEW YORK
                            HURST & COMPANY
                               PUBLISHERS



                            Copyright, 1912,
                                   BY
                            HURST & COMPANY



                                CONTENTS

             CHAPTER                                      PAGE
                  I. On Brig Island                          5
                 II. The Wireless                           22
                III. A Night Alarm                          36
                 IV. Cut Adrift                             45
                  V. Adventures on the Hulk                 56
                 VI. Harry Meets an Old Friend              66
                VII. A Puzzling Problem                     80
               VIII. The Derelict Destroyer                 89
                 IX. The Flight of the “Sea Eagle”          97
                  X. “C. Q. D.!”                           112
                 XI. “Good Luck!”                          121
                XII. Through the Night                     129
               XIII. A Twentieth-Century Rescue            137
                XIV. Ben’s Plan Stolen                     148
                 XV. What Happened Ashore                  158
                XVI. Off on the “Air Route”                170
               XVII. An Aerial Ambulance                   180
              XVIII. An Errand of Mercy                    189
                XIX. Plumbo Found Wanting                  199
                 XX. Frank’s Battle                        209
                XXI. A Rascally Trick                      219
               XXII. Reunited!                             230
              XXIII. Off Once More                         237
               XXIV. A Struggle for Life                   246
                XXV. A Race to Cloudland                   253
               XXVI. The Boy Aviators’ Pluck               264
              XXVII. Captured by Aeroplane                 275



THE BOY AVIATORS’ FLIGHT FOR A FORTUNE



CHAPTER I.—ON BRIG ISLAND.


The sharp bow of Zenas Daniels’ green and red dory grazed the yellow
beach on the west shore of Brig Island, a wooded patch of land lying
about a mile off the Maine Shore in the vicinity of Casco Bay. His son
Zeb, a lumbering, uncouth-looking lad of about eighteen, with a
pronounced squint, leaped from the craft as it was beached, and seized
hold of the frayed painter preparatory to dragging her farther up the
beach.

In the meantime Zenas himself, brown and hatchetlike of face, and lean
of figure—with a tuft of gray whisker on his sharp chin, like an
old-fashioned knocker on a mahogany door—gathered up a pile of lobster
pots from the stern of the dory and shouldered them. A few lay loose,
and those he flung out on the beach.

These last Zeb gathered up, and as his father stepped out of the dory
the pair began trudging up the steeply sloping beach, toward the woods
which rimmed the islet almost to the water’s edge. All this, seemingly,
in defiance of a staring sign which faced them, for on it was printed in
letters visible quite a distance off:

                           PRIVATE PROPERTY.
                            NO TRESPASSING!

Instead, however, of checking the fisherman, it caused old Zenas to
break into a harsh laugh as his deep-set, wrinkle-surrounded eyes dwelt
for an instant on the inscription. His jaw seemed to set with a snap,
and his thin lips formed a narrow, hairlike line as a second later he
saw something else. This was a stout wire fence, clearly of recent
construction, which extended along the edge of the woods. Apparently it
must have encircled the island, for it ran as far as eye could see in
either direction.

“Waal, I’ll be dummed-gosh dummed!” snorted Zenas, his thin nostrils
dilating angrily.

“Put up a fence now, have they?” he continued. “Waal, if thet ain’t ther
beatingest! A passel of city kids ter come hyar and think they kin run
things in Casco Bay!”

“I reckon thet fence ain’t goin’ ter hinder us powerful much, dad.”

“Waal, I swan _not_. Come on, Zeb, look lively with them pots; we’ve got
ter git across ther island an’ back ez slippy ez we kin.”

But as father and son resumed their journey, the thick brush suddenly
parted and down a narrow path a boyish figure came suddenly into view.
The newcomer was a tall, muscular youth, with a face tanned to a healthy
brown by constant outdoor life. His clean-cut figure and frank, open
countenance formed a striking contrast to Zenas’ crabbed features and
the shifty look of his son.

“Where do you intend going?” demanded the boy, as he halted a few paces
on the opposite side of the fence.

“You know waal enough, Frank Chester, or whatever yer name is,” growled
out Zenas, “we’re goin’ across ther Island ter stow our lobster pots,
just as we’ve bin a-doin’ fer years.”

“I’m very sorry. I don’t want to seem unfair, but, as I explained to you
the other day, this island is now private property. It was rented from
Mr. Dunning of Portland on the express condition that we were not to be
interfered with.”

“Land o’ Goshen! So ye think yer kin come hyar an’ run things ter suit
yerselves, do yer?”

“We rented the island for that purpose. As I said before, we are all
very sorry if it interferes with your convenience; but there’s Woody
Island half a mile below, and closer in to Motthaven, too, why won’t
that suit you as well?”

“’Cos it won’t. Thet’s why. Brig Island’s bin here a sight longer than
you er I, and it’s goin’ ter stay hyar arter we’re gone, too.”

“I don’t quite see what that has to do with it.”

“Waal, I do. We ain’t used ter bein’ dictated to by a passel of kids.
I’ve bin usin’ this island fer ten years or more. It suits me first
rate, and I propose ter go on using it, and ther ain’t no kids kin stop
me,” spoke Zenas stubbornly.

“Well, we shan’t keep you from it for more than a few weeks at most—at
least I hope so,” rejoined Frank, with perfect good nature, “after that,
although we have leased it for a year, we shall be glad to have you use
it in any way you like.”

“I want ter use it right now, I tell yer.”

“Well, you can’t!”

Frank’s control of himself was beginning to ooze away in the face of
such mule-like obstinacy.

“Kain’t, eh? We’ll see. You’re alone on the island ter-day, I seen ther
other kids go ashore this mornin’. Come on, Zeb, climb over thet fence.”

“Thet’s right, dad,” applauded Zeb, “ef he gives yer any sass jes’ hit
him a clip in ther jaw. Reckon that ’ull stop him fer a while.”

As his son spoke Zenas made as if to lay his hand on the top wire of the
fence preparatory to scaling it. Frank Chester stepped hastily forward.

“Don’t try to climb that fence!” he warned. His tone was so earnest
that, involuntarily, Zenas checked himself.

“Why not?” he demanded.

“Because if you do you are going to get hurt. I give you fair warning.”

“Shucks! ez if a kid could bother me. Come on, Zeb.”

As he called to his son, Zenas clapped his hand on the top wire. Zeb,
with a contemptuous grimace at Frank, did the same.

“We’ll show yer——” Zeb was beginning, when a singular thing happened.

[Illustration: “OUCH! WHAT IN THE NAME OF TIME HIT US!”]

Zenas, with a yell, sprang into the air and, tripping as he came down,
alighted in a sprawling heap among the freshly-tarred lobster pots. His
gray goatee wagged savagely as he lay there impotently clenching his
fists, alternating this performance by vigorously rubbing his elbows. In
the meantime his son, giving vent to a no less piercing cry, had
executed a backward bound from the fence with as much velocity as if he
had been a rubber ball.

“Ouch! What in ther name of time hit us!” he demanded.

“Dear land o’ Goshen! What was thet?” shouted his parent.

Frank had some difficulty in steadying his voice to reply. The sight of
the two lately militant figures sprawling there on the beach was too
much for his gravity.

“_That_,” he managed to gasp out at length, “that was a _mild_ current
of electricity running through those wires. You recollect I warned you
not to touch them.”

“You—you—you young villain!” roared Zenas, springing to his feet with
great agility for one of his years, “I’ll have ther law on yer!”

“Consarn you, yes!” echoed Zeb, “assault and battery!”

“No, not batteries—a dynamo,” Frank could not resist saying. “If you
think of going to law over it,” he added, more seriously, “please
recollect that I warned you not to touch those wires. Furthermore, you
were defiantly trespassing on private property, although you could see
that sign from quite a distance out on the water.”

The elder Daniels’ face was a study at this. But his son continued to
bellow angrily.

“You may hev injured dad and me fer life!” he shouted.

“Oh, no; on the contrary, a mild shock of electricity is a fine thing
for the system. But,” and Frank smiled, “don’t take an overdose.”

“Oh, y’er laughin’ at us, are yer? Waal, maybe ther laugh ’ull be on the
other side of yer face nex’ time we meet.”

All this time the elder Daniels had remained silent, gathering up his
scattered lobster pots. Evidently he did not meditate a second assault
on the fence. Now he turned the overboiling vials of his wrath on his
son.

“Pick up them pots, consarn ye!” he rumbled throatily, “and git out ’er
this.”

Zeb obeyed, and then, with what dignity they could muster, the two
shuffled back down the beach to their dory. Then they shoved off and
began pulling for Woody Island. Frank Chester watched them in silence.
But they did not look his way once during the swift row. When they
landed on the distant islet, he saw Zeb turn and shake his fist in the
direction of Brig Island with vicious emphasis. The elder fisherman,
however, simply strode off along the beach of the adjacent island
without turning.

“Well, the fence certainly served its purpose,” said Frank to himself,
as he turned away; “it proved as effectual as it did that night we used
the same sort of contrivance to put to rout the rascals who wanted to
wreck the old Golden Eagle. Sorry I had to give those fellows such a
severe lesson, though. They liked us little enough before. They’ll have
still less use for us now.”

He was about to retrace his steps up the path when his attention was
arrested by a sudden sound—the sharp “put-put-put!” of a motor boat.

“I’ll bet that’s Harry, Billy and Pudge coming now!” he exclaimed. “I’ll
go round to the hulk and meet them.”

So saying, he started off along the beach. In a few seconds he rounded a
wooded promontory and passed out of sight. Right here, perhaps, is a
good place to give those readers who have not already formed their
acquaintance, some further idea of who Frank Chester and his companions
are, and how the quartet came to be on Brig Island, off the coast of
Maine, in the island-dotted Casco Bay region.

The first volume of this series related the adventures of Frank and
Harry Chester, two bright, inventive New York lads of seventeen and
sixteen, in the turbulent Central American Republic of Nicaragua. In
this book was set down the part that their aëroplane, _The Golden
Eagle_, played in the drama of revolution, and followed also the
tempestuous career of their chum Billy Barnes, a young reporter whom
they met in the tropics. Mr. Chester, a New York man of affairs, owned a
plantation in Nicaragua, and the boys and their aëroplane were the means
of saving this from the depredations of the revolutionaries. But in an
electric storm in which she was driven out to sea the _Golden Eagle_ was
lost. By means of the wireless apparatus with which she was equipped,
the lads, however, managed to communicate with a steamer which picked
them up and saved their lives.

In The Boy Aviators on Secret Service, the second volume of the Boy
Aviators’ series, we find them in the mysterious region of the
Everglades. Once again they demonstrated—this time for Uncle Sam—the
almost limitless possibilities of the two greatest inventions of modern
times—the aëroplane and wireless telegraphy. In this book we related how
the secret explosive factory was located and put out of commission, and
what dangers and difficulties surrounded the boys during the process.

Not long after this a strange combination of circumstances resulted in
the boys taking a voyage to Africa. In The Boy Aviators In Africa you
may read how they discovered the ivory hoard in the Moon Mountains, and
how the Arab slave trader, who had cause to fear them, made all sorts of
trouble for them. The first aëroplane to soar above the trackless
forests of the Dark Continent conveyed them safely out of their
dilemmas, and indirectly was the cause of their being able to voyage
back to America on a fine yacht.

The boys had figured on resting up after this, but the love of adventure
that stirred in their blood, as well as their warm friendship for Billy
Barnes, prompted them to take part in a cross-continent flight against
great odds. The story of the contest, The Boy Aviators in Record Flight,
related stirring incidents from coast to coast. Readers of that volume
will readily summon to mind the ruse by which the lads escaped the
cowboys and baffled some renegade Indians and, finally, their fearful
battle in midair with the sand storm.

The story of an old Spanish galleon enthralled in the deadly grip of the
Sargasso Sea furnished the inspiration for the tale of the Boy Aviators’
Treasure Quest. But they were not alone on their hunt for the long-lost
treasure trove. Luther Barr, a bad old man who had caused them much
trouble before, fitted out a rival expedition. High above the vast ocean
of Sargasso weed the boys had to fight for their lives with a crew of
desperate men in a powerful dirigible craft. How they won out, and
through what other adventures they passed—including the surprising one
of the “rat ship,”—you must read the volume to discover, as we have not
space to detail all that befell them on that voyage.

Then came what was, in many respects, their queerest voyage of all—the
flight above the Antarctic fields of eternal ice, in search of the goal
of discoverers of half a dozen nationalities, the South Pole. The Boy
Aviators’ Polar Dash was a volume full of swift action and enterprise.
Many hardships were endured and dangers faced, but the boys did not
flinch when duty required their best of them. They emerged from the
frozen regions having achieved a signal triumph, but one which would not
have been possible of accomplishment without their aëroplane.

Having thus briefly sketched the previous careers of the Boy Aviators,
we shall give a short account of how they came to be on Brig Island, and
then press on with our story. About a month before the present story
opens then, a scientific friend of Mr. Chester’s, Dr. Maxim Perkins, had
called on the Boy Aviators’ father and requested the aid of the young
aërial inventors in some problems that were bothering him. Dr. Perkins
was already an aviator of some note, but his achievements had not found
their way into the newspapers as, like most scientific men, he did not
care for publicity in connection with his experiments.

In common with the rest of the civilized world Dr. Perkins—horrified at
a mid-ocean tragedy in which hundreds of lives were sacrificed—had set
his wits to work to devise some means of life saving—in addition to the
regular boat equipment—which might be easily carried by ocean liners. He
was convinced that it would be feasible for vessels of that description
to carry an auxiliary fleet of what he termed
“dirigible-hydro-aëroplanes.” By this rather clumsy name he meant a
combination of the hydroplane, dirigible and aëroplane. But although his
ideas on the subject were clear enough in theory, he was rather hazy
about the practical side of the matter, and this was the object of his
call on Mr. Chester—to ask the aid of the Boy Aviators in carrying out
his experiments.

To make a long story short, arrangements were finally completed by which
the doctor had leased Brig Island, and had set up on it such sheds and
appliances as would be needed by the boys in their work. These included
a wireless, by means of which communication with the mainland might be
kept up—via Portland—and also a unique piece of apparatus (if such it
could be called) of which we shall learn in the next chapter.

The boys had now spent two busy weeks on the island, and the work that
they had mapped out for themselves was so nearly completed that they had
felt justified that morning in wirelessing Dr. Perkins to come and see
how things were going on. As we have seen, their stay on the island had
not been altogether tranquil. The spot had been used for years by the
fishermen as a sort of stowage place for their apparatus, and also,
sometimes, as a summer residence. With the coming of the boys and their
necessarily private work, all this had been changed, and the resentment
of the fishermen had been bitter. Of all the complainers, Zenas and his
son were the most aggressive, however, and had openly threatened to
drive the boys off the island.

To avoid being taken by surprise the lads had rigged up the electric
fence, which device, as readers of The Boy Aviators on Secret Service
will recall, had been used by them before with success to repel
unwelcome visitors.

Let us now rejoin Frank Chester as he goes to meet the approaching motor
boat on which his brother Harry, Billy Barnes and Pudge Perkins, the
doctor’s son, had visited the mainland for provisions and mail that
morning.



CHAPTER II.—THE WIRELESS.


As Frank rounded the point, the waves almost lapping his feet as he
edged along the rocky promontory, he came into full view of the adjunct
to the little settlement which was mentioned in the preceding chapter.
This was nothing more nor less than the hulk of what had once been a
fair-sized schooner. But her masts had vanished, and on her decks
nothing now rose above the bulwarks but a towering structure of
sufficiently odd form to have set the wits of every man in Motthaven who
had seen it at their keenest edge.

This structure began about amidships, where it attained a height of some
thirty feet. From thence its skeleton form sloped sharply down toward
the stern of the dismantled hulk, much in the manner of the “Chute the
Chutes” familiar to most lads throughout the land from their having seen
them at amusement resorts. The old schooner—formerly rejoicing in the
name of _Betsy Jane_—had been picked up for a song in Portland by the
Boy Aviators, who saw in it exactly what they needed for a bit of
experimental apparatus. At their orders the inclined “slide” had been
built, and when this was accomplished the craft had been towed into the
cove, where it now lay anchored by a stout line, about 200 yards off
shore.

As Frank came into view of the black old hull, swinging on her mooring
line on the turning tide, a “Hampton” motor boat came chugging round the
_Betsy Jane’s_ stern. In it were three lads. The one in the bow handling
the wheel is already familiar to our readers, who will at once recognize
the cherubic, smiling features of the spectacled Billy Barnes. In the
stern, tending to the engine—a five horse power one of the
make-and-break type—was Harry Chester, Frank’s younger brother, and
standing amidships, waving cheerfully to Frank, was a youth best
described as being “tubby” of build, with round rosy cheeks and a most
good-natured expression of countenance.

This last lad was Ulysses—otherwise “Pudge” Perkins, the son of the
aërial scientist who had sent the lads on their strange mission.

“Batter and butterflies!” he shouted, as the boat drew closer and he
spied Frank, “how are you, Frank? Get lonely without your chums?”

“No; I rather enjoyed myself,” laughed back Frank, shouting his words
across the water; “you see, while you were away I had some quiet, and a
chance to work out a few problems.”

“Mumps and mathematics!” sputtered Pudge amiably, “you don’t mean to say
I worry you, Frank?”

By this time the motor boat had approached close to her mooring, at
which swung a small boat of the dory type. The motor boat was speedily
made fast, and the boyish occupants tumbled into the small boat and
Harry rapidly sculled them ashore. Before leaving the motor boat some
sacks of supplies had been thrown in, and the small craft was so heavily
laden that Pudge had to be sternly warned to keep still on peril of
swamping it.

“Dories and dingbats! as if my sylphlike form could bother this staunch
craft! Yo-ho! my lads, yo-ho! pull for the shore and don’t bother about
me.”

The beach was reached without catastrophe, and while Frank helped the
others unload the supplies he told them of what had occurred during
their absence.

“After you left,” he said, “I got busy figuring on that plane problem.
All at once I heard voices, and by listening I soon recognized them as
Zenas Daniels and that precious son of his. As I knew what ugly
customers they were I turned the current into the fence and sauntered
down toward the shore. Sure enough it was Zenas and Zeb and they tried
to rush the fence.”

Frank then went on to tell of what had happened. Shouts of laughter
greeted his narrative.

“Sugar and somersaults! But I’d have liked to see those chaps do a
flip-flap,” chuckled the rotund Pudge, hugging himself in his joy.

“I guess Zenas must have learned that electricity is good for the
rheumatiz,” laughed Billy Barnes gleefully; “I’d like to have had a
picture of them when they hit the wire,” he added, swinging his
inevitable camera at the end of its carrying straps.

“It would have been worth while,” laughed Harry; “but come on, boys,
let’s get this stuff up to the hut. Anything to eat, Frank? I’m hungry
enough to swallow one of old Zenas’ lobster pots.”

“Sandwiches and sauerkraut! So am I,” chimed in Pudge.

“Great Scott!” cried Billy Barnes, “as if we didn’t know that. If you
told us you _weren’t_ hungry it would be something new.”

“Well, I don’t see where I’ve got anything on you when it comes to meal
times,” retorted the fat youth.

“Only about six inches more around the waist line,” grinned Billy,
dodging a blow from the fleshy youth’s fat but muscular arm.

Shouldering the supplies, which consisted of such staples as bacon,
flour, sugar, rice and so forth, the lads made their way up the beach,
having first carried the dory’s anchor far up above highwater mark. They
took their way along the electrically-charged fence till they came to a
spot where there was a gate and a switch to break the connection. Frank
turned off the switch, grounded the current, and opened the gate,
through which they passed, and entered on a narrow path winding up among
the rocks. When they had all gone through, Frank closed the gate,
snapped on the switch again and the fence became as mischievous as
before.

In single file, headed by Harry, for Frank had now taken a rear place,
they toiled up the steep path until, at the summit of the rocky little
cliff, it plunged into the woods. Traversing these for a short distance,
and always climbing upward, for the island converged to a point in the
middle, they at length emerged on a clearing, evidently of nature’s
workmanship, for there was no trace of recently felled trees or other
human work.

The floor of this clearing was of rock, and off at one side a clear
spring bubbled cheerfully over into a barrel set so as to catch the
overflow. In the center of the open space stood a small but
substantially-built portable house—one of the sectional kind. This
formed the living quarters of the young island dwellers. Above it rose,
like gaunt, leafless trees, two iron poles set thirty feet apart and
stayed by stout guy wires. Between those two poles were suspended, by
block and tackle, the aërials, or antennæ, by which messages were caught
and sent. Within the hut was the rest of the wireless apparatus, which,
with the exception of some improvements of Frank’s devising, was of the
portable kind—the same in fact that they had used in Florida. Outside
the hut was a small shelter covering a four horse-power gasolene engine,
which generated the power for the station.

As most boys are familiar nowadays with the rudiments of wireless
telegraphy we are not going into technical details concerning the plant.
Suffice it to say that the boys were able to converse with Portland,
under favorable conditions, and judged that, in suitable weather, they
had a radius of some two hundred and fifty miles.

But it was off to one side of the clearing, the side nearest to the
cove, that the most interesting structure on the island was situated.
This was more of a covering than a shed, for it consisted merely of a
roof supported with uprights; but in bad weather canvas curtains could
be drawn so as to make its interior stormproof.

This shed was now open, and under the roof could be seen what was
perhaps at the moment the most unique machine of its kind in the world.
Looking into that shed you would have said at first that it housed a
boat. For the first object that struck your eye was a double-ended,
flat-bottomed craft of shimmering aluminum metal, about thirty feet in
length and built on the general lines of one of our life-saving craft.
That is to say, with “whalebacks” at each end containing air chambers,
and plenty of beam and room within the cockpit. A peculiar feature,
however, was the addition of four wheels.

But the boat theory would have had to be abandoned the next moment, for
above the hull of the whaleboat-shaped craft was what appeared to be the
understructure of an aëroplane. But the planes—the broad
wings—themselves were lacking. The twin propellers connected to a motor
within the boat were, however, in place. Apparently they were driven by
chains, similar to, but stouter than, the ordinary bicycle variety.

All about was a litter of tools and implements of all kinds. Several
large frames leaning against one side of the shed appeared to be the
skeleton forms of the wings which were soon to be added to the
superstructure.

“Tamales and terrapins!” cried Pudge admiringly, as he gazed at the
uncompleted craft, “but she begins to look like something, eh, Frank?”

“Yes,” nodded the young aviator, “but until your father arrives we
cannot adjust the wings. There is a lot of theoretical work connected
with them that he will have to do. By the way, I wonder if Portland’s
got any answer to our message yet?”

Followed by the others, Frank entered the living hut, which proved to be
a snug, neat compartment about fifteen feet in length, by ten in width.
It had four windows, two on a side, and a door at one end. At the other
end was the wireless apparatus, with its glittering bright metal parts,
and businesslike-looking condensers and tuning coils. Along the walls
were four bunks, two on a side, one above the other. In the center were
a table and camp chairs, and from the ceiling hung a large oil lamp.

A shelf held a good collection of books on aëro and wireless subjects,
and at one side of the door was a blue-flame kerosene stove. On the
other side of the door was a cupboard containing crockery, knives, forks
and cooking utensils. Altogether, if the boys had not been there for a
more serious purpose, the place might have been said to form an almost
ideal camp for four healthy, active lads.

“Start up the motor, Harry,” said Frank, as soon as they had deposited
their burdens, “and we’ll try and get some track of Dr. Perkins. His
answer to our message ought to be in Portland by now.”

The younger Chester lad hastened outside, and soon the popping of the
motor announced that it was running. Frank sat down at the key and,
depressing it, sent a blue-white flame crackling across the spark gap.
Out into space, from the aërials stretched above, the message went
volleying. It was the call of the Portland station that Frank was
sending. He flashed it out three times, as is customary, and then signed
it F-C., the latter being Brigg Island’s agreed-upon signature. Then,
while the others gathered round, Frank adjusted the “phones,” the
delicate receivers that clamp over the ear and through which, by way of
the detector, any message vibrating in the air may be caught as it
encounters the antenna.

Frank listened some time but—save for the conversation of two wireless
operators far out at sea—he could hear nothing. With a gesture of
impatience Frank began adjusting his tuning coil. All at once he broke
into a smile of satisfaction. At last Portland was answering:

“F—C! F—C! F—C!”

“All right,” rejoined Frank, sending a volley of sparks crashing and
flashing across the gap as soon as he could break in, “is there any
answer to my message?”

“Yes. Perkins will be at Motthaven to-morrow night. He wants you to meet
him,” came back the answer, winging its way over the intervening miles
of space.

“Is that all?”

“That’s all.”

Frank removed the “phones,” grounded his key and told Harry he could
stop the motor.

“I’ll be glad when the doctor does get here,” he confided to the others,
after he had communicated the message, “for I’m beginning to think that
we are in for some sort of trouble. Those two Daniels are pretty
influential in the village, and it only needs a word from them to turn
the whole crowd against us.”

“We could stand ’em off,” bragged Pudge grandiloquently, “lassoes and
lobsters, we could stand ’em off. I half wish they would come—buttons
and buttercakes, but I do!” and Pudge doubled up his fists and looked
fierce.

“You forget, Pudge,” said Frank, “that we are here in positions of
responsibility. All this property is your father’s. It is our duty to
see that no harm comes to it. A bunch of those fishermen inflamed by
anger might be able to do more harm here in an hour than could be
repaired in months, not to mention the cost.”

“Surely you don’t think they’d come down to actual violence, Frank?”
inquired Harry.

“I don’t know. The two Daniels looked mighty savage to-day, I can tell
you. If it hadn’t been for the electric fence they might have made
trouble. At all events I’ll be glad to have some advice.”



CHAPTER III.—A NIGHT ALARM.


After supper that night, a meal consisting of fried salt pork, boiled
potatoes and some fresh fish which Frank had caught earlier in the day,
the elder of the Chester lads called what he termed “a conference,”
although Billy Barnes declared it was more in the nature of a “council
of war.”

We are not going to detail here all that was said as it would make
wearisome reading; but, after an hour or more of talk, Frank spoke his
mind.

“It may be all foolishness, of course,” he said, “but I think that we
ought not to leave the island unguarded to-night. Daniels and his son
have had a taste of that wire fence and they may have figured out some
way to get around it—it would be a simple enough matter to do, after
all.”

“Well, what’s your proposal?” inquired Billy Barnes.

“To patrol the island all night, taking turns on watch. It’s not more
than a mile or so all round it, and it ought to be an easy matter to
keep the ground thoroughly covered.”

“Rifles and rattlesnakes!” burst out Pudge, “I thought this was to be a
sort of working vacation and not a civil war.”

Frank smiled, and then assumed a graver expression as he went on:

“There is so much valuable property here which it would be easy for
malicious people to injure that I wouldn’t feel justified in leaving the
island unguarded all night. What do the rest of you think?”

“Just as you do, Frank,” rejoined Harry heartily, while Billy and Pudge
nodded vigorously; “we’ve got to keep a sharp lookout. I nominate myself
and Pudge for the first watch—say from eight to twelve. You and Billy
can go on duty from midnight till daylight.”

After some discussion this order of procedure was adopted. Promptly at
eight o’clock Harry and Pudge Perkins went “on duty,” while Frank and
Billy turned in to get what sleep they could. As a matter of precaution,
when they came to the island, the boys had brought along a revolver, and
Harry was armed with this when he went on duty. He was not, of course,
to use it as a weapon of offence, but it was agreed that, in case there
was any alarm during his watch, he was to fire it three times, when the
others would come to his assistance.

Harry and Pudge accompanied each other as far as the gate, and then
threaded their way down the path among the rocks toward the beach. A
mild current had been turned on in the fence, enough to give an
uncomfortable shock to any one tampering with it, but not enough to
exhaust the storage batteries which supplied it.

When they reached the beach, Harry paused.

“We’d better start this patrol in opposite directions,” he said, “and
then we can meet each other once on every circuit.”

“All right,” agreed Pudge, “but—pirates and parachutes—keep a good eye
open.”

“Don’t worry about me,” rejoined Harry; “so long!”

As he spoke each boy stepped off into the darkness to begin the patrol.
As Harry trudged along the beach his mind was full of the events of
which Frank had spoken that afternoon. Up in the lighted hut, with his
companions around him, it had seemed a very remote possibility to the
boy that any attack should be made on the island. But pacing along under
the stars, with only the sound of his own footsteps for company, placed
a very different light on the matter. What if the disgruntled fishermen
should make a night descent on the island?

“This won’t do,” exclaimed Harry to himself, coming to a sudden halt in
the cove opposite to which the motor boat was moored, and where a
blacker patch on the dark sand showed him the beached dinghy, “it’s no
use getting shivery and scared just because a couple of cranky fishermen
are so sore at us. I’ve got to brace up, that’s all there is to it.”

His surroundings, however, were not calculated to soothe the nervous
suspense of the lad. Except for the stars glittering like steel points
in the night sky there was no light. The night was so pitchy dark, on
the beach under the shadow of the trees, that he could hardly see with
certainty a yard ahead of him. The surf roared hoarsely against the
rocks at the point—for the tide was full, and the night wind moaned in
the trees like a note of warning.

With an idea of carrying out his patrol properly, Harry went toward the
darker patch amid the gloom which showed him where the beached dinghy
lay. He examined it as well as he could, and made sure that it was well
above tide water. Having completed this, he paced on, and in due time
heard footsteps approaching him which he knew must be those of Pudge
Perkins. A minute later the two young sentinels met and exchanged
greetings. Pudge had nothing to report, except that it was what he
called a “creepy” job. However, he pluckily averred: “Ghosts and
gibberish, Harry, I’m going to stick it out.”

“That’s right,” approved Harry, and after a few words both boys once
more started out on their lonesome tours of duty.

In due course Harry again reached the cove opposite the schooner hulk,
and this time, being rather tired, he decided to sit down on the beached
dinghy and take a rest. But, to his astonishment, it didn’t seem to be
in the place where it should have been.

“I could have sworn it was right here,” said Harry to himself, as he
trudged about on his quest, “it must be close at hand. Guess I’ll fall
over it and hurt my shins in a minute.”

But although he reassured himself, the boy felt far from secure in his
belief. After a further painstaking search he was fain to confess—what
he really believed from the first—that the dinghy which had lain there a
short time before had mysteriously vanished!

“Can it be those miserable Daniels?” gasped Harry to himself. “Yes, it
must be,” he went on, answering his own questions, “who else would have
done it, unless it drifted off.”

He was moving about as he spoke, and as he uttered the last words he
stumbled across something that showed him very plainly that the dinghy
could not have drifted away from the beach. What he had fallen over was
the anchor firmly embedded in the sand, with a length of rope still
attached to it.

Harry felt along the bit of rope in the darkness till he reached the end
of it. Then he struck a match. In the flicker of light which followed he
saw plainly enough what had occurred—the rope had been slashed through.
The boy had just made this discovery when from the water he heard
something that caused him to listen acutely, bending every sense to the
operation.

What he had heard was the splash of an oar, and a quick exclamation of
impatience, as if the rower, whoever he was, had blamed his involuntary
misstroke.

“Some one’s out there, and they’re aboard the schooner, too; or I’m very
much mistaken,” exclaimed Harry to himself, as, listening acutely, he
caught the sound of footsteps proceeding, seemingly, by their hollow
ring, from the decks of the dismantled hulk; “what will I do? If I fire
the pistol I’ll scare them off, and if I don’t——”

He stopped short. A sudden daring idea had flashed into his mind. The
boy hastily slipped off his shoes and divested himself of all but his
undergarments. Then, leaving his pistol on the beach, he slipped
noiselessly into the bay and struck out in the direction of the
schooner. The water was bitterly cold, as it always is off the Maine
coast, even in the height of summer, but Harry kept dauntlessly on,
determined to brave anything in the execution of his purpose.

The hulk lay only about a hundred yards off the shore, and before long
he could see her dark outlines looming up against the lighter darkness
of the sky on the horizon. He fancied, but could not be certain that it
was not an illusion, that for an instant he could see two forms creeping
along the decks. The next moment something showed up ahead of him with
which he almost collided.

Harry, with a gasp of gratitude, for the water had chilled him to the
bone, recognized it as the motor boat. As silently as he could he drew
himself up into it, and then, casting himself flat in the cockpit, he
listened with all his might for further sounds from the schooner.



CHAPTER IV.—CUT ADRIFT.


He did not have long to wait. Seemingly, whoever the marauders were—and
as to their identity the lad could hazard a pretty good guess—they did
not bother much about lowering their voices.

“By the jumping crickey!” he heard coming over the water from the
schooner, “jiggered if I kin make out what they cal’kelated ter use this
hulk fer.”

“Hush! Not so loud, pop. Ther sound carries tur’rble fur over ther
water.”

“As if I didn’t know thet, Zeb, but what do we care? Them kids is fast
asleep, and anyhow, we cut the dinghy adrift so they couldn’t do us any
harm ef they wanted to.”

“Thet’s right, too; but some of ’em might be prowling about. They’re up
ter all sorts uv tricks. I ain’t forgot thet thar fence, I kin tell yer.
My arm’s a-tingling yet whar thet electricity hit me.”

Soaked through as he was, and chilly into the bargain, Harry couldn’t
help smiling as he heard this eloquent testimonial to the efficacy of
the “charged” fence. He had caught the name of “Zeb,” too, which
speedily removed all doubt from his mind as to the identity of the
marauders.

“The precious rascals,” he thought, while his teeth chattered with cold,
“I’m mighty glad I did swim out here, even if I am almost frozen to
death. If they aren’t under arrest to-morrow it won’t be my fault.”

Little more was heard from the schooner, but from what he could catch he
surmised that the two fishers were completely mystified by the craft.
Presently he heard their footsteps descending the gangway and then came
the splash of oars. They were dipped silently no longer, a pretty sure
sign that the two rascals didn’t much care if they were heard or not.
After a moment the splashing sound grew more remote, and Harry knew that
the two prowlers had taken their departure.

There was a scull in the motor boat and as soon as he was sure that the
Daniels were out of earshot, Harry up anchored and began sculling the
motor boat toward the hulk. The distance was so short that he did not
want to bother to start the engine, and in a few seconds he was
alongside the dark hulk. He shoved along the side till the motor boat
grated against the gangway, and then, not forgetting to make the motor
craft fast, he leaped up the steps, with the purpose of discovering what
harm, if any, had been wrought aboard the _Betsy Jane_.

Harry knew where a lantern was kept, and descending into what had once
been the cabin he began rummaging about for it. In the pitchy blackness
the task took him longer than he had anticipated, but at last he found
the lantern and the matches which lay beside it. Hastily striking a
light he soon had the bare cabin filled with the yellow rays of the
lamp. As has been explained, the _Betsy Jane_ had been purchased as a
sort of “trying-out” appliance for the inventions of Dr. Perkins, and
therefore the cabin contained nothing in the way of furniture. The lamp,
in fact, had only been placed on board as a precaution in case a riding
light was ever needed on the anchored hulk. But as she had remained at
her moorings in the isolated cove this was not, of course, necessary.

A brief look about the cabin showed Harry that nothing had been molested
there. In fact, as has been said, there was nothing to molest. A door in
the forward bulkhead led into the empty hold, and the boy next made his
way there, the lamp casting weird shadows on the timbers as he went. His
steps rang hollowly through the deserted ship, and he could hardly
repress a shudder as he threaded his way among the stanchions, which,
like the pillars in a church, upheld the deck above his head.

Reaching what had been the forecastle of the _Betsy Jane_, Harry came to
the conclusion that nothing had been damaged below. His next task was to
go up on deck. His examination below decks had been painstaking, and had
occupied him some time, but he was determined to make it a thorough one.
The fact is that an ugly suspicion had crept into Harry’s mind as he lay
in the bottom of the motor boat listening to the two Daniels on board
the schooner. This was nothing more nor less than a dread that they
might have “scuttled” the craft. From what he knew of them the two were
capable of anything, and he thought that in their rage at finding
nothing on board that they could damage they might have bored holes in
the schooner in order to sink her. His investigation of the hold,
however, had shown him—to his great relief—that nothing of the sort had
occurred.

Coming on deck Harry made as careful a search for damage as he had done
in the hold. But the inclined superstructure remained intact, and
nothing indicated that the Daniels had done anything more than stroll
about, trying to discover what the object of the schooner was.

So intent had Harry been on his task that he had, for the time being,
completely forgotten that Pudge must be anxiously looking for him. Going
into the eyes of the craft he sent a hearty hail ashore:

“Pudge ahoy! Oh-h-h-h, Pu-d-g-e!”

Then he stopped to listen intently. But no reply came to his hail. He
tried it again and again, without success. Then he determined as a last
resort to fire the agreed-upon three shots. He did not want to alarm his
companions unnecessarily, but surely, he thought, it would be a good
idea to arouse them and communicate what had occurred since he left the
hut.

Up to that moment the boy had completely forgotten that he had left the
pistol on the beach. He felt compelled to laugh at himself for his
absentmindedness, but while the laugh was still on his lips something
happened that caused it to freeze there.

A mass of cold spray was suddenly projected over the bow. At the same
instant the old hulk quivered at the smart “slap” of a wave.

“Gracious!” thought Harry to himself, “the sea must be getting up. I
reckon I’d best be going back ashore.”

As he made his way aft toward the gangway he found that the sea must
indeed have risen since he came on board. The old hulk was rolling about
like a bottle, and he had to hold on to the rail as he made his way
along the decks. Getting into the motor boat under these conditions was
no easy task. But it was accomplished at last.

“I guess I’ll start the engine before I cut adrift,” said Harry to
himself.

Later on he was to be very thankful he did. Turning on the switch and
gasolene he began to “spin” the fly wheel; but beyond a wheezy cough the
motor gave no sign of responding. For more than half an hour the boy
worked with might and main over the refractory bit of machinery, but to
no effect. The engine was absolutely “dead.”

“What can be the matter with it?” thought Harry to himself. “It’s never
acted this way before.”

He stood up, too engrossed in his problem to realize what a sea was
running. Before he could recover his balance the pitching craft almost
bucked him overboard.

“Gracious! the waves are getting up with a vengeance,” exclaimed the boy
to himself; “I can never scull ashore in this sea. Queer, too, there,
doesn’t seem to be any more wind than when I left shore. Certainly I’ve
never seen the sea as rough as this in the inlet before.”

With the object of finding out what ailed the obstinate motor, he
returned to the deck of the schooner where he had left the lamp. Getting
into the motor boat with it once more, by dint of much balancing and
holding on he cast its rays on the single cylinder. Almost
simultaneously he saw what had happened. Somebody, he had no difficulty
in guessing who, had removed the sparking points. No wonder that no
explosion had followed his efforts to get the craft under way.

“Well, here’s a fine fix,” thought Harry; “even if I could attract their
attention ashore I’ve got no means of getting there. Oh, if I won’t get
even with those Daniels as soon as I get a chance! Wonder what I’d
better do?”

His first move was to clamber back on board the schooner, for the wild
rolling of the motor boat, as she plunged about at the foot of the
gangway, was not helpful to thought. Gaining the deck once more Harry
sought out the cabin and seated himself on the edge of one of the empty
bunks which ranged its sides.

Suddenly it occurred to him that he was uncommonly sleepy, and at the
same time he thought that possibly it would be a good idea to pass the
rest of the night in slumber. He had no watch, but he imagined that it
could not be so very far to daylight. With this object in view he cast
himself down in the bunk and, despite the hardness of the bed and the
chilliness of his scantily clad limbs, he rapidly slipped away from his
surroundings into a dreamless sleep.

When he awoke the sun was shining through the stern ports. That is, it
was for one instant, and then in the next it was obscured again. Harry
was enough of a sailor to know that this meant a cloudy day, with
possibly a piping wind scurrying the clouds across the sky.

“Thank goodness it’s daylight anyhow!” he exclaimed, jumping from his
uncomfortable couch, with an ache in every limb in his body; “now to go
on deck and attract their attention ashore.”

Utterly unprepared for the shock that was to greet him, Harry bounded up
the companionway stairs and on to the deck.

Had a bomb exploded at his feet he could not have been more
thunderstruck than he was at the sight which greeted him.

There was no island, no distant mainland. Nothing but miles upon miles
of tumbling blue water in which the _Betsy Jane_ was wallowing about,
casting showers of spray over her bow every time she nosed into a
billow.

Harry’s heart stood still for an instant. His senses swam dizzily. Then,
with a sudden return of his faculties, he realized what had occurred.

The mooring rope of the _Betsy Jane_ had been cut or had broken, and he
was miles out on the Atlantic without a prospect of succor.



CHAPTER V.—ADVENTURES ON THE HULK.


A sudden sharp puff of wind, followed by a heavier dip than usual on the
part of the dismantled hulk, apprised the boy that both breeze and sea
were increasing. Putting aside, for the moment, by a brave effort, his
heart sickness, Harry ran to the rail and peered over the side. The
motor boat was careering gallantly along by the side of her big consort,
and the boy was glad to note that the painter still held, despite the
strain.

But Harry knew, from his examination the previous night, that it would
be useless to try to escape by the motor craft. She was disabled beyond
hope of repair, unless he could get another spark plug. Having made sure
the motor craft was all right, Harry returned to the bow and sat down to
think the situation over.

It would have been a trying one for a man to face, let alone a lad; but
Harry’s numerous adventures had given him a power of calm thought beyond
his years, and he managed to marshal his ideas into some sort of shape
as he crouched under the bow bulwarks.

“Evidently the _Betsy Jane_ was caught by the tide, when it turned, and
carried out to sea,” he thought, “and then, when the wind got up, she
drifted still faster. I wonder if her mooring rope broke or if it was
cut—guess I’ll take a look.”

The boy dragged inboard the end of the mooring line that still hung over
the bow. One look at it was enough. The clean cut strands showed
conclusively that it had been severed, just above the water line, by a
sharp knife. The fact that the Daniels could not know that any one would
come on board after they slashed the line did not make their act any
less heinous in Harry’s eyes. It had been their deliberate intention to
set the schooner adrift, and they had succeeded only too well in their
act of spite.

“Whatever will they be thinking on the island when they discover all
this?” thought Harry with a low groan. “They’ll imagine that I’m dead,
or at least that some fatal accident has befallen me, and, worst of all,
they have no boat to use to reach the mainland. They are just as much
prisoners as I am.”

Sharp pangs of hunger now began to assail the lad, and he recollected,
with a thankful heart, that on board the motor boat there were the
remains of a lunch they had taken ashore with them on their expedition
the previous day. There was also a keg of water. Harry lost no time in
descending the gangway and making his way to the locker where the food
had been stored. First, however, he made a foray on the water keg.
Taking out the stopper he found that it was only half full, but he
slaked his thirst gratefully, taking care to use as small a quantity of
the fluid as possible. He knew that before long the water might be
precious indeed.

In the locker he found the remnants of the lunch. As he consumed the
scraps of bread and cheese, and a small hunk of corned beef, he recalled
with what light hearts they had fallen to the meal of which he was now
devouring the remains. The recollection almost overcame him. With a
strong effort the boy choked back a sob and formed a grim determination
not to dwell upon his miserable situation more than was possible. He
felt that the main thing was to keep a clear head.

There was some spare rope on board the hulk, and with this Harry made
the fastenings of the launch more secure, leading one end of the rope on
board the schooner itself, and making it fast to a cleat. He felt that
the craft would be more safe if attached thus than would have been the
case had he depended on the gangway alone.

This done, he took a look about him. He had had a vague hope that he
might sight a ship of some sort, but the ocean was empty as a desert.
Not a sail or a smudge of smoke marred the horizon. All this time the
wind had been steadily freshening, and Harry judged that the schooner
must be drifting before it quite fast. The inclined superstructure
naturally added to her “windage” and made her go before the gale more
rapidly. The sea, too, was piling up in great, glistening, green water
rows, which looked formidable indeed. But so far the _Betsy Jane_ had
wallowed along right gallantly, only shipping a shower of spray
occasionally when a big sea struck her obliquely on the bow.

“If only I had plenty of food and water,” thought Harry, “this would be
nothing more than a good bit of adventure, but——”

In accordance with his resolution not to dwell on the more serious
aspects of his predicament he dismissed this side of the case from his
mind. But as the day wore on, and he grew intolerably thirsty, the
thought of what might be his fate, if he did not fall in with some
vessel, beset his mind more and more, to the exclusion of all else. In
the afternoon, as closely as he could judge the time, he took another
drink from the fast-diminishing supply in the keg. He noticed, with an
unpleasant shock, that the fluid was growing alarmingly lower. Before he
took the draught he had cleaned up the remaining crumbs left in the
locker, and was now absolutely without food.

The rest of that afternoon he passed watching the empty sea for some
sign of a ship, but not a trace of one could he discover. Utterly
disheartened he watched the sun set in a blaze of crimson and gold. The
sunset lay behind him, and Harry knew by this that he was drifting east
at a rapid rate. Just how rapid he had, of course, no means of
calculating. Of one thing he was thankful—the sea had not increased, and
the wind appeared to have fallen considerably with the departure of
daylight.

“Surely,” thought the boy, “I must have drifted on the track of ocean
vessels by this time. I know there’s a line to Halifax, and another to
Portland, besides the coasters.”

With this thought came another. What if he should be run down during the
night? The idea sent a shudder through his scantily clothed form. He
knew that derelicts are often the cause of marine disasters, and during
the dark hours the hulk might invite such a fate if he did not take
steps to guard against it.

Accordingly he lit his lantern and hung it in the underpinning of the
inclined superstructure.

“At least they can see that,” he thought, as he completed the hanging of
his warning light.

Then, having done all he well could under the circumstances, Harry cast
himself down in the lee of the weather bulwarks and tried to sleep. But
in his scanty attire he was far too cold to do aught but lie and shiver
till his teeth chattered. He determined to pass the rest of the night
below, and once more sought a couch in the empty bunk. But sleep was a
long time coming. Tired, excited and hungry as the boy was, he could not
compose himself to slumber. Ten or a dozen times he started up and ran
to the deck, thinking that he had heard the distant beat of some
vessel’s engines. But each time it proved a false alarm.

At length tired nature asserted herself, and he sank to sleep in good
earnest. When he awakened it was daylight, and there was an odd feeling
about the motion of the _Betsy Jane_. She seemed to have ceased her
rolling and pitching, and was almost steady in the water. Suddenly there
came a jarring crash that almost threw Harry out of the bunk.

Much startled, he ran on deck, and found, to his astonishment, that the
vessel lay right off an island. Seemingly she had grounded on a reef of
rocks stretching out from the island itself. At any rate, as the waves
rocked her she gave a jarring, crunching bump with each pitch of her
hull. The island appeared to be a small one, and in general appearance
was not unlike Brig Island. In fact, at first Harry had thought that in
some magical way the _Betsy Jane_ had drifted back to that small speck
of land. But a second glance showed him that the island off which the
dismantled hull had grounded differed in many essentials from the one he
had left. Far to the westward, about twenty miles as well as the boy
could judge, lay a dim streak of dark blue that Harry guessed was the
mainland. But for all the good it did him it might have been a hundred
miles removed.

Harry was still gazing at the island and wondering how he could reach it
before the _Betsy Jane_ pounded herself to pieces on the rocks, when he
started violently. The island was not, as he had supposed,
uninhabited—at least, he had caught sight of a swirl of blue smoke
rising from among the trees on its highest part. This meant help,
companionship and food. An involuntary cry of joy rose to the boy’s
lips, which the next instant turned to a groan as he looked over the
side of the schooner and saw that the reef on which she had struck was
much too far out from the shore for him to try to swim the distance,
even if a roaring, racing tide would not have made it suicidal to
attempt the feat.

“Unless I can attract the attention of whoever lives there by shouting,
I’m as badly off as I was before,” exclaimed Harry, in a voice made
quavery by panic.



CHAPTER VI.—HARRY MEETS AN OLD FRIEND.


All at once, while he was still gazing at the column of smoke shoreward,
Harry became aware of a figure coming out of the woods toward the beach.
He shouted with all his might, and the man who had appeared from the
undergrowth waved a reply.

Then his voice came over the water.

“What’s up?”

The tone somehow was strangely familiar to Harry, and, for that matter,
when he had first seen the figure of the newcomer it had struck him with
an odd sense of familiarity. Suddenly he realized why this was.

“Ben Stubbs!” he yelled at the top of his lungs.

“Ahoy, mate!” came back after a pause; “who are you?”

“Harry Chester!”

“By the great horn spoon! What the dickens are you doing out there?”

Cupping his hands to make his voice carry the better, Harry hailed back
once more.

“I drifted here on this hulk. Can you take me off?”

“Can I? Wait a jiffy.”

Ben Stubbs—for it was actually the “maroon” whom the boys had rescued
from a miserable fate in the Nicaraguan treasure valley—began running
along the shore as fast as his short legs would carry him. Presently he
vanished around a wooded promontory, leaving Harry in a strange jumble
of feelings. What could the good-hearted old companion of several of
their adventures be doing on this desolate island off the Maine coast?
When they had last heard from him he had been running a tug boat line in
New York harbor, having purchased the business with the profits made out
of the discovery of the treasure trove in the Sargasso Sea.

Before a great while the man who had so opportunely appeared came into
view once more This time he was in a skiff, rowing with strong strokes
toward the stranded hulk of the _Betsy Jane_. Harry watched him with
eager eyes. Fast as Ben Stubbs rowed, it seemed an eternity to the
anxious boy before his strangely rediscovered friend reached the side of
the grounded schooner.

When he did so he hastily made fast, and was up the gangway ladder three
steps at a time. Fortunately for his haste, the sea had diminished in
roughness considerably, and the _Betsy Jane_ lay almost motionless on
the reef. Otherwise he would have stood a strong chance of being thrown
from his footing. Harry was at the gangway as Ben Stubbs’ weather-beaten
countenance came into view at the top of the steps.

Ben seized the boy’s hand in a grip that made Harry flinch, but he
returned it with as strong a clench as he could. For a moment both of
them were too much overcome with emotion at the strange meeting to utter
a word. It was Ben who spoke first.

“Waal, what under the revolving universe are you doing here?” he
demanded.

“I was about to ask the same question of you.”

“It’s a long story, boy, and you look just about played out. What has
happened? I never dreamed that you were even in this neighborhood.”

“I guess the same thing applies to me, so far as you are concerned,
Ben,” rejoined Harry, between a laugh and a sob. “As for myself, I’ve
been adrift all night on this old hulk. Some rascals cut her loose from
her moorings at Brig Island.”

“Wow! you’ve drifted all the way from there. Why, it’s fifty miles or
more away.”

“I know it. It seemed a million to me. What worries me is what the
others must be thinking. They won’t know if I’m dead or alive.”

“We’ll find a way to let ’em know, never fear,” struck in Ben in his
deep, rumbling voice; “but I reckon you’re hungry and thirsty?”

“Am I? Why, I could eat a horse without sauce or salt, as you used to
say.”

“Then get in the skiff and come ashore. I’ve got a sort of a hut there.
It ain’t much of a place, but I’ve got enough to eat and a good spring
of clear water, and I can give you a suit of slops.”

“But the schooner?” demanded Harry.

“She’ll be all right, I reckon. She’s lying on a sort of sandy ridge
that runs out here. The sea’s gone down so that she won’t do herself any
harm, and we can’t do her any good right now. You see, the tide is
falling. When it rises we’ll try to get her off and anchor her in a
snugger berth.”

Harry might have argued the point, but the prospect of food and drink
made so strong an appeal to him that he did not stop to waste words.
Five minutes later they were rowing ashore, and, while Ben bent to the
oars with a will, Harry told him in detail all that happened since they
came to Brig Island, and the reason of their presence there. He knew
that he was safe in confiding in old Ben.

The relation of his story occupied the entire trip to the shore, and
when Ben had beached his skiff he seized Harry by the arm and began
hurrying him up the beach toward a small hut, half canvas, half lumber,
which stood back under the shelter of a low bluff. The boy was
desperately anxious to learn the reason of Ben’s presence on the island,
for he knew it could have no ordinary cause. But the weather-beaten old
adventurer would not allow the boy to say another word till he had
clothed himself and eaten all he could put away of a rabbit stew washed
down with strong coffee.

“Now, then,” remarked Ben, as soon as Harry had finished, “I suppose
you’re a-dyin’ to hear what I’m doin’ on Barren Island, which is the
name of this bit of land?”

“I am, indeed,” declared Harry, shoving back the cracker box which had
served him as a chair; “the last person in the world I would have
expected to see when the _Betsy Jane_ grounded was Ben Stubbs.”

Ben chuckled.

“Allers turnin’ up, like a bad penny, ain’t I?” he said, shoving some
very black tobacco into his old pipe. “’Member ther time I dropped out
of the sky in thet dirigible balloon?”

“Well, I should say I did,” laughed Harry; “but how you got here is past
my comprehension. What became of the tug boat line?”

Ben snapped his fingers.

“All gone, my lad! Gone just like that! I reckon I’m not a good hand at
business, or the crooked tricks that answers for that same. Anyhow, to
make a long yarn a short one, I went on a friend’s note and he dug out.
That was blow number one. To meet that note I had to mortgage some of my
boats, and in some way—blow me if I rightly understand it yet—I got
myself in a hole whar’ the lawyer fellers bled me till I was mighty near
dry. I tried to struggle along, but it wasn’t no go. Then came a strike
of tug boat hands and that finished me. I couldn’t stand the long lay
off without anything to do, so I sold out for what I could get, and—and
here I am.”

“I’m mighty sorry to hear that you failed, Ben,” said Harry with real
sympathy in his tones, “but you haven’t said yet what you are doing here
on Barren Island, as you call it.”

“I’m a-gettin’ to that, lad,” said Ben, emitting a cloud of blue smoke;
“give me time. As I told you, that feller on whose note I went,
skedaddled. You see, I’d trusted him as my own brother, bein’ as I knew
his father when I was a miner. He—that’s this chap’s father, I mean—was
a Frenchman, Raoul Duval was his name, and his son’s name the same. Old
man Duval made his pile in Lower Californy and was makin’ fer his home
in New Orleans when ther steamer he was travelin’ on blew up, and he and
all his gold dust—a whalin’ big lot of it—went to the bottom.

“I never calculated to hear anything more of Duval arter this, but one
day this young feller I’ve been tellin’ you about shows up in New York
and hunts me up. He tells me that he’s old Raoul’s son, and that he’d
had a run of hard luck and so on, and wants to go into business, and if,
for his father’s sake, I’ll help him out. I asks him how he found me
out, and he says that in his father’s letters home I had often been
mentioned, and that when he heard of the Stubbs Towing Line he made
inquiries and found that I was in all probability the same man.

“As I told you, I let him have the money. It don’t matter just how much,
but it was quite a bit. You see, I did it for the old man’s sake. I was
sorry afterward. Young Duval wasn’t a chip of the old block at all. He
was idle and dissipated. His business went under and he skipped out.”

“Did you lend him this money without security of any sort?” asked Harry
incredulously.

“In a way, yes. In another way, no. The young chap, when he came to me,
had a wild story about knowing where the steamer on which his dad lost
his life had sunk. He said that from letters written home before he left
Lower Californy, he knew the old man was carrying with him, besides the
dust, a fortune in black pearls. Of course, all these went down when the
steamer blew up. He had tried, he said, to get a lot of folks interested
in a scheme to get at the wreck and recover the dust and the pearls, but
they had all laughed at him. He said if I’d give him the money he wanted
he’d give me, in return, the plan of the location whar’ the steamer went
down.”

“And did he?”

“Yes; but since he acted as he did I guess there’s no more truth in his
yarn than there was in anything else he told me. Anyhow, I’ve never
bothered my head about the matter since.”

“Have you got the plan?”

“Sure enough,” Ben fumbled in his pocket, “here it is; it’s a roughly
drawn thing, as you see, but I reckon if the ship was really there it
would be an easy matter to locate her bones.”

Harry nodded. He was looking over the map with deep attention. It was,
as Ben had said, a crudely drawn affair, and purported to have been
sketched by one of the survivors of the wreck, who, of course, did not
know that in the returning miner’s cabin there was so much wealth.

“How did young Duval get hold of this?” he asked at last.

“He said that by chance he met a man who was the lone survivor of the
disaster. This feller didn’t know who Duval was, and began talking to
him about the wreck. Duval, recollecting that his father had carried a
sum that amounted to more than $75,000, was naturally interested. He
asked the man if he could draw him a sketch of the scene where the
steamer sank. The feller said he could, and that thar sketch is what he
drawed. At least that’s Duval’s story, and I’m frank to tell you I don’t
believe a word of it.”

“But still you haven’t told me what you are doing on this island,” said
Harry after an interval.

“That’s so, too, lad. I got so interested in tellin’ my troubles I clean
forgot about Barren Island. Well, it’s this way. Arter the crash I felt
ashamed to show my face. Oh, all the creditors were paid up—every last
one of ’em. But I felt like I was an old failure, and good fer nuthin’,
so I remembered all of a sudden about this island that I’d been stranded
on a good many years ago. I made inquiries and found that I could live
here rent free as long as I liked, with none to interfere, and so I came
here. It’s quiet and might be lonesome to some folks, but it suits me
well enough, and I was calculatin’ to spend the rest of my days here,
till you came along. But I feel different now.”

“How’s that?” asked Harry, not knowing well just what to say to the old
man who took his business failure so much to heart.

“Why, I was watching you studyin’ that map. I could see by yer face that
you put some stock in Duval’s yarn. Ain’t that so?”

Harry could not but confess that it was. The old man’s story, and the
map, had aroused in him the strong desire for adventure that both Boy
Aviators possessed to a marked degree. Of course, from what Ben had
said, Duval did not appear to be a person on whom much reliance could be
placed, but then, again, there was the map, and it at least, even if
crude, appeared to have been a genuine effort to mark the spot where the
wreck lay. It showed a bayou marked “Black Bayou,” running back from the
main stream of the Mississippi. A black dot some distance up this bayou
was lettered “Belle of New Orleans,” presumably the name of the steamer
on which Duval met his end.

The boy was still pondering over the map when, from seaward, there came
a sound that made both Harry Chester and Ben Stubbs spring to their
feet.

“It’s a gun!” shouted the old man, as the booming echoes died away; “may
be a ship in distress.”

“Hardly, in this weather,” rejoined Harry, in a perplexed tone.

But Ben Stubbs had darted from the shanty and was running for the
beached skiff. A minute later Harry was close on his heels, and
presently they were pulling around the point, about to run into the
surprise of their lives.



CHAPTER VII.—A PUZZLING PROBLEM.


It is now time that we returned to the island where we left Pudge
Perkins patrolling the beach, and Frank Chester and Billy Barnes wrapped
in slumber. Frank had set the alarm clock for midnight, when it had been
arranged that he and Billy were to turn out on patrol, and its insistent
clamor had only just commenced when he sprang out of his bunk broad
awake and prepared to go on duty. Billy stretched and yawned a bit
before he, too, tumbled out.

“Gee whillakers!” he exclaimed, as he got into his clothes, “it seems to
me that we are making a lot of fuss over nothing, Frank. I don’t believe
those fellows will come near the island to-night.”

“Perhaps not; but it’s our duty to be on guard. If anything happened to
Dr. Perkins’ invention now it would be almost impossible to repair it in
time for the tests he wants to make.”

Talking thus the two lads got into their clothes, drank some coffee,
which Frank had prepared while they were dressing, and then set out into
the night. They made for the cove from which Harry had started his
eventful swim.

“Best wait here till they come round,” said Frank, and he and Billy
found places in the sand and made themselves as comfortable as possible
till they should hear the footsteps of one of the young sentries. They
had not long to wait. Hardly fifteen minutes had elapsed before Frank’s
sharp ears caught the sound of some one approaching. A minute later
Pudge joined them. His first words were not calculated to make the
newcomers feel at ease.

“Where’s Harry?” he demanded.

“Don’t you know?” ejaculated Frank with considerable surprise.

“No. I’ve been making my patrol regularly, and the last three times I’ve
been round I haven’t met him.”

Frank’s face could only be dimly seen in the darkness, but all his alarm
was plain enough in his next words.

“What can have become of him?”

“Maybe he took the dinghy and decided to look over the motor boat and
the hulk,” suggested Billy.

“That’s easy enough to find out,” declared Frank, starting for the place
where the dinghy had been beached. A moment later he stumbled over the
anchor and, closely following this, by the aid of a lighted match, he
made the discovery that the rope had been slashed.

“Harry never took that dinghy,” he exclaimed apprehensively, “there’s
been some crooked work here.”

“Thunder and turtles! What do you mean?” gasped Pudge, fully as
anxiously.

“That some one has landed here and stolen the dinghy and taken Harry
along with them. I can’t think of any other explanation. Harry would
never have cut that rope.”

“You mean he’s been carried off?” The question came from Billy Barnes.

“I can’t think of any other explanation. Pudge, did you hear anything
that sounded suspicious?”

“Oilskins and onions, no! Not a sound. Let’s fire a pistol and see if we
get any answer.”

“That’s a good idea, Pudge—Great Scott!”

“What’s the matter?” demanded Billy Barnes, as Frank broke off short and
uttered the above exclamation.

“Look here! Harry’s clothes! Wait till I get a light. There! Now, see
all his outer garments and his pistol lying by them.”

“Gatling guns and grass hoppers, if this doesn’t beat all.”

“He can’t have been carried off, then,” burst out Billy, “but if he
wasn’t, how did that dinghy rope come to be cut?”

Frank made no answer at the moment. The discovery of Harry’s clothes on
the beach had put a dreadful fear into his mind. What if the boy had
heard a disturbance on the hulk or on the motor boat and, having swum
off to see what was the trouble, had been seized with a cramp and
drowned?

But Frank firmly thrust the question from him the next minute. Such
thoughts were by far too unnerving to be dwelt on. The others remained
silent. They seemed to be waiting for Frank to speak. Presently the
words came.

“It’s too dark to see anything out there,” said the boy, in as firm a
voice as he could command. “Let’s fire three shots—the signal we agreed
upon—and then if Harry is on the hulk or the motor boat he will be sure
to answer them.”

The others agreed that this seemed about the best thing to do, and
Pudge, taking Harry’s discarded weapon, fired it three times. Then came
a long pause, filled with an ominous silence.

“Try again,” said Frank in a strained voice. Once more three sharp
reports sounded. But again there was no answer.

“That settles it,” declared Frank solemnly; “something has happened to
Harry. We must get out to the hulk and to the motor boat.”

“How? The dinghy’s gone, and——”

“I’m going to swim for it.”

Already Frank had thrown off his outer garments. On the beach lay a balk
of timber which they sometimes used to tie the dinghy to. Frank now
ordered his companions to help in rolling this down to the water.

“I’m going to use it as a help in swimming out there,” he said; “the
water’s pretty cold, and I don’t want to risk a cramp.”

“Wait till daylight, Frank,” urged Billy; “it won’t be long till dawn
now, and——”

But Frank cut him short abruptly.

“My brother’s out there somewhere,” he said in a sharp, decisive voice,
“and I’m going to find out what’s happened to him.”

A minute later Frank was in the water pushing the balk of timber before
him and heading, as nearly as he knew how, for the spot where the hulk
and the motor boat had been moored.

It was more than half an hour before Billy and Pudge saw him again. Then
he reappeared, chilled through and shivering in every limb. His first
words almost deprived his companions of breath.

“They’re gone!” he exclaimed.

“What!” the exclamation came from both Billy and Pudge simultaneously.
They guessed by some sort of intuition what Frank referred to.

“Yes, they’re both gone,” repeated Frank; “the _Betsy Jane_ and the
motor boat.”

“Are you sure you’re not mistaken, Frank?” inquired Billy, unwilling to
believe the extent of the catastrophe that had overtaken them.

“I’m as sure that they’re gone as I am that I am standing here,” was the
reply. “I cruised about on my log for quite a radius, and couldn’t
discover a sign of them. I found the motor boat’s buoy, though. She had
been untied by some one.”

“But the _Betsy Jane_? Schooners and succotash! The _Betsy Jane_!” broke
in Pudge.

“Gone, too,” Frank’s voice broke, “but I wouldn’t care about either if I
only knew what had become of Harry.”

“Come on up to the hut and we’ll have some hot coffee and talk it over,”
said Billy, who saw that Frank, besides being almost numb with cold, was
half crazy at the mystery of Harry’s fate.

Frank suffered himself to be led up to the hut and the rest of the night
was passed in speculation as to the fate of the missing boy. All three
of the lads were pretty sure that the two Daniels had had a hand in the
night’s work somehow, but they were far from guessing what had actually
occurred.

Soon after daylight the wireless began working. Dr. Perkins notified
them from Portland that he expected to arrive that afternoon at
Motthaven, and wished them to meet him. Frank found some relief for his
wrought-up feelings in informing the inventor of what had occurred.

“Will charter fast boat and be there with all speed,” came the reply
through the air; “make the best of it till I come. Am confident that
everything will come out all right.”

And with this message the “marooned” trio on the island had to be
content. The day was passed in making a careful survey of the island to
discover, if possible, some trace of the marauders. But none was to be
found. The tide had even obliterated any footmarks they might have left
in the damp sand. Thoroughly disheartened and miserable, the boys ate a
scanty lunch and then sat down to await the arrival of Dr. Perkins.

It was sundown when a fast motor boat appeared to the southward,
cleaving the water at a rapid rate. A quarter of an hour later Dr.
Perkins was hearing from the boys’ own lips the strange story of their
adventures of the past day and night.



CHAPTER VIII.—THE DERELICT DESTROYER.


Assuredly it was a surprising sight that greeted the eyes of Harry and
Ben Stubbs as the latter pulled the skiff around the point. Not half a
mile away lay a dull, gray-colored craft like a gunboat, with the Stars
and Stripes floating from her stern. From her bow a puff of smoke was
drifting away, showing that she had been the craft that had fired the
shot which had aroused them.

But what could she be doing? Above all, why had the shot been fired?
Harry’s eyes furnished the answer as he saw that part of the rail of the
schooner was missing, a jagged break showing where it had been torn
away.

“Great guns!” shouted Ben, “they’ve bin firin’ at your old hulk.”

As he spoke there was a flash from the side of the lead-colored craft,
and a projectile shrieked by above the pair in the boat, causing them to
duck involuntarily.

“Cracky!” shouted Harry, “I’ve got it. That craft is a derelict
destroyer. One of Uncle Sam’s craft whose duty it is to put obstructions
to navigation out of the way.”

“You’re right, boy, and they are bent on sending that there _Betsy Jane_
to the bottom.”

“We must stop them,” ejaculated Harry excitedly; “that schooner is
wanted by Mr. Perkins to use in his experiments. That’s why he had the
runway built. We must signal them somehow.”

“No need to, lad. See, here comes a boat.”

Sure enough, as he spoke a cutter was lowered from the warlike-looking
vessel’s side, and before long, impelled by muscular arms, it was flying
over the water toward the hulk.

“Pull round and meet them,” suggested Harry.

But Ben was already doing that very thing. So fast did the government
cutter approach that just as the skiff was rounding the stern of the
ill-used _Betsy Jane_, the former craft, with a dapper young officer in
the stern, was drawing alongside the hulk.

The astonishment of the officer was great when Harry explained matters.

“It’s lucky that I decided to make an examination into the effect of the
shots already fired before I finished her up,” he laughed. “I am in
command of the United States derelict destroyer _Seneca_, yonder. We’ve
just despatched an old hulk some miles out at sea, and when, on our
return down the coast, we saw your old hull, we thought it was a good
chance to try out a new kind of gun we have to despatch these menaces to
navigation.”

“I’m glad we heard your first shot in time to explain matters,” said
Harry; “this craft belongs to Dr. Perkins, the aëronautical inventor,
who wishes to use it in some experiments. As I told you, I unfortunately
drifted to sea in it when some rascals cut the rope.”

The officer sympathized to the full with Harry and offered to give him a
spark plug for his motor boat from a supply carried for a similar craft
on board the _Seneca_.

“But,” he continued, “I’ve got a better plan than that. I’m bound down
the coast. I know Dr. Perkins slightly and should be glad to do him a
service. Why not accept a tow from me? I’ll get you to Brig Island by
nightfall anyway, and that’s much quicker than you could tow this hulk
with the motor boat, even if you _could_ get her off the sand.”

Harry gladly agreed to this arrangement. A line was made fast to the
_Betsy Jane_ and affixed to the towing bitts of the derelict destroyer.
The tide by this time had turned, and after a short struggle the _Betsy
Jane_ once more floated in deep water.

“I don’t know if this is exactly regular,” remarked the young officer in
command, when the hulk lay bobbing astern of the trim and trig
government craft, “but I guess it’s all in the line of duty. So come on
board.”

Harry and Ben were in the skiff alongside the _Betsy Jane_ when this
offer was made.

Without hesitation Harry stepped upon the companionway. He turned to
Ben, and was about to bid that veteran adventurer good-by, with a
promise to visit Barren Island in the near future, when, to his
astonishment, Ben calmly hitched his skiff alongside the motor boat and
stepped up after him.

“I reckon I’ve had about enough of that island,” he said; “I’m a-goin’
to ship with you on this cruise if it’s agreeable.”

“Agreeable?” laughed Harry. “Why, Ben, you are as welcome as the flowers
in May. But haven’t you left a lot of stuff behind on the island?”

“Nothing that ’ull hurt. The only other suit I own you’ve got on, and
funny enough you look in it, too,” and Ben chuckled; “as for the hut and
what grub’s left, and so forth, any one’s welcome to ’em that takes a
fancy to ’em. I’ve got a bit left in the bank yet, and I guess I can
afford a new outfit anyway, so heave ahead, Mister Skipper, as soon as
you’re ready.”

The officer, who had watched this scene in some astonishment, broke into
a laugh.

“I see you are an individual of impulse,” he said, “but if you want to
go along it will spare my sending a man on board the schooner to help
our young friend.”

“Waal, then, it’s an arrangement that’s agreeable to all parties,”
rejoined Ben, lighting his pipe; “so that’s all settled.”

A short time later the _Seneca_ moved ahead, at first slowly, and then
faster, while the wandering _Betsy Jane_ followed docilely after her
through the now calm sea. True to Lieut. MacAllister’s promise, they
were off Brig Island by sunset. As deep water extended close inshore,
the derelict destroyer was enabled to tow the hulk almost up to the
boys’ “front door,” so to speak, and from the beach a little group set
up a loud cheer as the _Betsy Jane’s_ spare anchor rattled down and she
swung at rest.

The presence of the little party to witness the arrival is due to the
fact that Lieut. MacAllister, who knew from Harry that there was a
wireless on the island, had kept his operator busy sending “bulletins”
to Dr. Perkins all the way down the coast; and so, when first the
_Seneca’s_ smoke streaked the horizon, all was ready to give the
returned wanderer a big reception.

The _Betsy Jane_, having been safely anchored, the _Seneca_, with three
toots of her siren, departed on her way, while Harry and Ben lost no
time in tumbling into the skiff and rowing ashore. To describe what took
place then would take up a lot of space without giving any clearer
picture of the reunion that each of you can imagine for himself.

Readers of the former volumes of this series know how highly the Boy
Aviators regarded Ben Stubbs, and after a short conversation with him
Dr. Perkins came to share their good opinion of the rugged old
adventurer. It would be impossible to tell with accuracy how many times
that night Harry’s story was told, and how many times Frank and the
others repeated the tale of their anxious hours while he was missing.
The first wireless flash from the _Seneca_, Frank described as “the best
thing that ever happened.” This opinion the others heartily echoed.

“Well,” said Dr. Perkins, as at last they made ready to “turn in,” “all
is well that ends well, and to-morrow I have an announcement of some
interest to make to you lads. From my inspection of the work done so far
on the ‘_Sea Eagle_,’ as I have decided to christen her, I think that
within a few days we can take her on her trial trip.”

“Anchors and aëroplanes!” shouted Pudge, in high glee, “I book passage
right now!”

“And I—and I—and I,” came from the others, while Ben Stubbs inquired
plaintively if there would be room for him.



CHAPTER IX.—THE FLIGHT OF THE “SEA EAGLE.”


Having already given a brief description of Dr. Perkins’ _Sea Eagle_, it
would be wearisome to dwell in detail on all that was done during the
next week to put that craft in shape for the final tests, upon which so
much depended. It may be said here, though, that besides a visit paid to
Motthaven in an effort to secure the apprehension of the two Daniels, a
search was prosecuted for the missing dinghy. Neither mission proved
successful.

The Daniels, having discovered that Harry was on board the _Betsy Jane_
after they cut that craft loose, had vanished from the little community.
As for the dinghy, it was supposed that they had taken that small craft
with them. At any rate, it was impossible to get any news of their
whereabouts on shore. This may be attributed to a distinct prejudice
felt by the fishing community against the dwellers on Brig Island. Your
down-easter is inquisitive to a degree, and the secrecy under which
operations on the island were carried on was felt as a distinct affront
to the little town. So therefore, although the local authorities
promised every co-operation in seeking out the Daniels and punishing
them for their outrageous conduct, it may be doubted if the efforts went
much further than the mere assurance.

But after all, in the rush of interesting work that was now on hand, the
Daniels were almost forgotten. The _Betsy Jane_ had been towed round
into the nearer cove, where she could be constantly watched, and the
motor boat was used in the operation, the officer of the derelict
destroyer having fulfilled his promise to furnish the boys with a new
spark plug for the engine in place of the one taken by the marauders.

The morning after Harry’s return to the island Dr. Perkins had laid down
a systematic plan of action. Frank and Harry were assigned to aid him in
giving the finishing touches to the _Sea Eagle_, while his son and Billy
Barnes were set to work with axes to clear a sort of runway down to the
beach. Both Billy and Pudge would much rather have had a hand in the
mechanical part of the work, but they pluckily went ahead on their
designated duty and stuck to it till a broad path had been cleared from
the summit of the island to the margin of the beach.

When this “roadway” through the brush had been cleared, two lines of
planking, firmly nailed to stout supports, were run down on each side of
it, forming a sort of railway, similar to those from which vessels are
launched.

It was down this runway that it was designed to introduce the _Sea
Eagle_ to her initial plunge. At last the day arrived when all was
complete, and the _Sea Eagle_ was pronounced fit for the test. During
the night before this event not one of the boys got more than half his
usual allowance of sleep. In fact, it is doubtful if Dr. Perkins enjoyed
much more repose.

By earliest dawn they were out, to find every promise of a glorious day.
Breakfast that morning was a hasty apology for a meal, and hardly had it
been gulped down before all hands were in the _Sea Eagle’s_ shed. As has
been said, the boat-like underbody of the craft had been mounted on a
wheeled frame before it was assembled. All that had to be done then to
get everything in readiness for the final test was to make fast a block
and tackle to a stoutly rooted tree, and then wheel the _Sea Eagle_ to
the top of the inclined runway.

When the odd-looking craft was safely poised on the top of the rails the
loose end of the tackle was made fast to the stern of the substructure,
and Billy, Pudge and Harry were delegated to “belay” the rope as
required. Frank and Dr. Perkins seated themselves in the “boat,” and at
the words “Let her go!” the _Sea Eagle_ in her wheeled frame began her
descent down the runway. By means of the tackle the three boys at the
summit of the incline easily controlled the novel craft’s descent,
stopping from time to time while Dr. Perkins and Frank made a survey to
see that all was going well.

“Bunting and buttercakes!” grumbled Pudge, as the boys alternately “let
go” and “hauled in” on the tackle, “I thought a launching was more of a
gala event than this.”

“I guess the doctor is too anxious to test out the _Sea Eagle_ to bother
with the trimmings,” laughed Harry; “it’s _results_ that he’s after.”

As a matter of fact, the launching of the _Sea Eagle_ was a very mild
affair compared with what might have been expected. Had the villagers
ashore known of it, doubtless a small fleet of boats would have been
lying off the cove to witness it, but it was for that very reason that
the deepest secrecy had been observed, and that the early hour had been
chosen. As Dr. Perkins said, he “didn’t want any fuss and feathers” made
over what was merely, after all, an experiment.

The rolling glide down the runway was made without incident, and at last
the bow of the _Sea Eagle’s_ “hull” struck the water. A cheer went up
then that, rang shrill and clear out over the calm sea. Even Dr. Perkins
joined in the enthusiasm, as well he might, for the goal of his ambition
was in sight at last.

The _Sea Eagle_ had been sent on her initial voyage without the
aëroplane wings or the auxiliary lifting bags being attached. It was
desired, first of all, to try out her qualities as a water skimmer. As
soon as she was fairly afloat, the wheeled carriage on which the descent
had been made was drawn ashore. Having been weighted before the start
was made, it of course sank under the _Sea Eagle_ when the sea and air
craft floated, thus allowing it to be reclaimed with ease.

“Looks like a butterfly with its wings clipped off,” commented Billy
Barnes as, with the others, he hastened to the beach as soon as their
task was over.

Indeed, the odd-shaped hull, with its naked frame and two gaunt aërial
propellers, did look strangely incomplete. But the boys knew that the
wings were all ready for instant attachment. In fact, it was one of the
features of the _Sea Eagle_ that the craft was capable of being taken to
pieces and put together again with very little loss of time or labor.

As the hydroplane portion of the _Sea Eagle_ floated clear of the
weighted frame in which it had made its journey to the beach, Frank
looked inquiringly at the inventor. His hand was on the self-starting
device which put the powerful motor in operation. Dr. Perkins was
actually pale, and Frank could see that his strong hand shook
perceptibly as he nodded his head.

But he mastered his nervousness quickly, and, grasping the
steering-wheel in a firm grip, he spoke:

“You can start up now,” he said.

Frank turned the starting handle, admitting a charge of gas to the
cylinders. Then he pressed a button and instantly the motor responded
with a roar and a series of explosions, like those of a battery of
gatling guns going into action. Having started it he admitted gasolene,
and adjusted the carburetor till the cylinders were all working
steadily.

Close to Dr. Perkins’ hand was a lever. This, when moved, “threw in” the
clutch connecting the motor with the driving mechanism. Directly Frank
had finished tuning up the motor Dr. Perkins’ hand reached for the
lever. He jerked it nervously back. There was a whirr and a buzz, as the
chains whirled the twin propellers round, and at the same instant the
_Sea Eagle_ darted forward like an arrow from a bow.

Faster and faster she went, getting up speed with seemingly marvelous
rapidity. But instead of driving deeper into the water, under the
pressure of the aërial propellers which rushed her forward through the
atmosphere, the faster the _Sea Eagle_ was driven the more lightly did
the craft skim the surface of the water, till at top speed—2,000
revolutions a minute—her bottom barely touched the water. This was owing
to the peculiar construction of the hull, which was designed so as to
“plane” the water in exactly the manner it did.

Cheer after cheer broke from the lads on shore as they saw the swift
craft dart off, slicing the tops of the small waves like a cream
skimmer. Dr. Perkins circumnavigated the island three times before he
gave the signal to Frank to slow down. Then, releasing the clutch, the
inventor allowed the _Sea Eagle_ to come to rest, with its bow almost
touching the beach.

“Now we will have a weight test,” he announced; “come on, boys.”

The lads ashore surely needed no second invitation. Without bothering to
remove shoes or stockings they waded into the water and out to the _Sea
Eagle’s_ side. In less time than it takes to tell it they were swarming
over the side of the cockpit and struggling for positions near the
engine. But Dr. Perkins made them arrange themselves so that their
weight would be evenly distributed. Ben Stubbs and Harry sat in the
extreme stern, while Pudge and Billy occupied opposite seats amidships.

This done, off darted the _Sea Eagle_ once more, and speedily set at
rest all doubts as to her capability to “plane,” or skim the water,
under an added load.

“It’s like riding on a floating island over a sea of raspberry ice cream
soda,” declared Billy, when he was asked later to describe his
sensations.

But a severer test awaited the _Sea Eagle_, namely, the trying out of
her capacity actually to rise into the air. The craft was run partially
ashore, and the great wings bolted in place and the stay wires adjusted.
The stay wires were tightened by turn buckles till they were taut as
fiddle strings, assuring stability of the wings. But in addition the
wings were, of course, partially supported on the light but strong
skeleton framework before noticed.

Much to the disappointment of the others, only Frank and Harry Chester
and Dr. Perkins were to participate in the flying trials. But they took
it all in good part, being promised rides later if the tests were
successful. As before, the _Sea Eagle_, after she had been backed off
and the propellers started, skimmed along the top of the water like a
flying fish. But all at once the watchers on shore saw her rise bodily
from the water and soar upward into the air. Higher and higher went the
craft, gliding like a gull through the ether. It was an inspiring sight,
and a perfect tornado of yells broke from Ben Stubbs, Billy and Pudge.
But those on board the _Sea Eagle_ could not hear the sounds of
enthusiasm above the roaring of the motor.

Under Dr. Perkins’ skillful guidance the _Sea Eagle_ climbed the aërial
staircase till a height shown by the barograph to be almost 4,000 feet
had been attained.

“Now to test the buoyancy apparatus,” cried the doctor suddenly. “Shut
off power, Frank.”

Frank, who knew what was coming, obeyed the order and turned a valve
admitting the pure hydrogen gas from one of the cylinders into the
buoyancy devices. Instantly the upper wings swelled, till they resembled
puffed-out mattresses more than anything else, and the “volplaning”
downward movement was perceptibly checked. But, setting the descending
device, Dr. Perkins headed the _Sea Eagle_ for the water, and,
skillfully manipulating the craft, landed it as lightly as a drifting
feather on the water by the hull of the _Betsy Jane_.

Now came a further trial of the capabilities of the wonderful new craft
which, so far, had proven such a success. Dr. Perkins set the planes in
a rising position and allowed the _Sea Eagle_ to hover above the _Betsy
Jane_, like the bird for which the aërial craft had been named. Then
suddenly he began a rapid descent, landing finally on the very summit of
the inclined runway before mentioned. The sides of the _Sea Eagle_ were
equipped with large metal hooks, which were hastily thrown out by the
boys and attached to four “eyes” arranged to receive them.

When this had been done the suction pump was set to work, and the
inflated wings emptied of the gas, which was forced back into its
receiver, and the valve closed. It was calculated that less than two per
cent of the gas was lost during the process. The _Sea Eagle_ was now
once more a simple hydroplane, without any buoyancy device.

At a word from Dr. Perkins the hooks which had held the machine in place
were disengaged, and instantly the craft began to glide down the runway.
Half way down the engine was started, and when the graceful craft
reached the abrupt end of the incline, the _Sea Eagle_ went soaring off
into space like a huge white-winged bird. This test was regarded by Dr.
Perkins as the most important, for it proved the entire practicability
of launching the _Sea Eagle_ from a ship far out on the ocean.

After circling in the air a few times the tests were concluded by a
rapid drop toward the earth right above the summit of the island. Just
as it seemed as if the new craft must end her career by being dashed to
bits against the construction shed, a skillful twist of the steering
device sent her soaring upward once more. Two more swinging aërial loops
were described, and then, with hardly a jar or vibration, the _Sea
Eagle_ was brought to rest by her inventor, almost in front of the shed
where she had been assembled.

As the thrilling and wonderful trip was concluded, the boys came
pressing about Dr. Perkins, showering congratulations and good wishes.

“Why, one could fly across the ocean in such a craft,” declared Frank
enthusiastically.

The others laughed, but, to their astonishment, Dr. Perkins looked
perfectly serious.

“I have a long trip in view,” he said, “a flight that will test every
wire and bolt in the _Sea_ _Eagle’s_ construction. I did not announce
this before for I wished first to see if everything worked
satisfactorily.”

“No doubt about that,” said Billy Barnes with enthusiasm. He had been
dodging about the great flying machine, taking photos from every
possible angle.

“No,” admitted Dr. Perkins; “I must say that so far the _Sea Eagle_ is
all that I could desire. But the final test will put that beyond the
shadow of a doubt. Do you boys wish to undertake a long trip?”

“Cookies and cucumbers! Do we!” roared Pudge, as the others pressed
eagerly about to hear the unveiling of the doctor’s plan.



CHAPTER X.—“C. Q. D.!”


But they were compelled to curb their impatience till that evening after
supper, for the doctor set every one busily to work “stabling” the _Sea
Eagle_ and attending to the engines after the hard test they had
undergone. Every part was carefully gone over, and it was found that
despite the strain of the novel craft’s first try-out, nothing save a
few minor adjustments were required.

“Now, dad,” said Pudge, after the dishes had been washed and Ben had his
pipe going, and the others were perched on the edge of the lower bunks,
like so many birds on a rail, “now, then, dad, we are ready to hear your
plans for that cruise.”

Dr. Perkins smiled.

“I’m afraid, my boy,” he said, “that you are in for a disappointment.
While I thoroughly believe the _Sea Eagle_ is capable of conveying our
whole party through almost anything, I am unwilling to place too great a
burden on her at her first long-distance trial.”

Pudge’s face lengthened.

“Oceans and octopuses!” he groaned, “I s’pose I’m to be left behind, as
usual.”

“I’m afraid it will be necessary,” was the reply; “you see, there will
only be room under my present plan for experienced navigators. But not
to keep you in suspense any longer, my present plan is to cruise down
the coast to Florida, round that peninsula, and then fly up to New
Orleans, and then possibly I might test out the _Sea Eagle_ still
further on a flight up the Mississippi.”

“Wow! And we’re to miss all that?”

“Not _all_ of it, Pudge,” smiled the doctor. “I was planning to send you
and Billy on ahead to meet us at New Orleans and make arrangements for
our arrival there.”

“Cookies and catamounts! That’s not so bad. I’ve always longed to see
New Orleans. But, then, would you take us with you up the Mississippi?”

“If we go—yes.”

“Look a-here,” struck in Ben’s bass voice at this point, “I don’t want
to butt in, or nothing like that, doctor; but this here is a cruise that
just suits me. Would you have any objection if I went along with ther
boys ter New Orleans?”

“Why, I hadn’t thought of it,” confessed Dr. Perkins.

“You see, I’ve got some partic’lar business down that way,” said Ben,
with a portentous wink at Harry; “ain’t I, Harry?”

The boy addressed instantly guessed that Ben referred to the supposed
treasure trove lying at the bottom of the Black Bayou. Now, in the rush
of events following Harry’s return from his strange cruise on the _Betsy
Jane_, he had quite forgotten about Raoul Duval’s map. But now it
flashed back on him, and the recollection caused him to flush with
excitement.

Dr. Perkins looked puzzled, while a glance of intelligence shot between
the grizzled old adventurer and the boy.

“Have I got your leave to tell about the sunken steamer?” inquired
Harry.

“Sure. Heave ahead, my boy,” was the hearty answer; “I was never much of
a hand at spinning a yarn.”

“Pirates and petticoats! What’s all this about a yarn and a sunken
ship?” demanded Pudge.

“Sounds like some fresh adventure. Anything like the Buena Ventura
cruise?” asked Billy Barnes, referring, of course, to their experiences
in the Sargasso Sea.

“I hope not,” laughed Harry. “No, this is a much tamer affair,” he
continued. “Ben, here, thinks that he knows of a craft sunk in a bayou
off the Mississippi, on board of which is a small fortune in gold dust
and black pearls.”

“Gold dust and black pearls!” cried Billy Barnes. “Wow! that sounds like
a regular story.”

“Suppose we let Harry heave ahead, as Ben calls it, and tell us what all
this is about,” suggested Frank quietly. But his eyes were shining. He
knew that what Harry was about to communicate must be of deep interest
from the manner in which the boy had spoken.

“Yes, let us hear the story,” said Dr. Perkins; “since we plan to be
down in that region, anything of interest to be investigated will add to
the pleasure of the trip.”

Thereupon Harry, without further delay, plunged into the narrative as
Ben had related it to him. He was interrupted from time to time by
excited exclamations, but at last he finished his narration and then,
turning to Dr. Perkins, he said:

“What do you think of it, sir?”

“Aye, aye,” growled out Ben, “supposin’ the yarn is true, have I got a
legal right to the stuff?”

“Undoubtedly, if you have papers assigning the claim to you,” said Mr.
Perkins, after a moment’s thought.

“Oh, I’ve got them fast enough. I was goin’ to chuck ’em away, but I
thought better of it. Glad I did now, but you see I never thought I’d
have a chance to go down there.”

Ben reached into his pocket and drew out a battered, brown leather
wallet. From it he produced Raoul Duval’s promise to deed him his
(Duval’s) interest in the supposed treasure chest, providing the loan
Ben had made the mining man’s son was not repaid. He handed the document
to Dr. Perkins, who perused it with knitted brows.

“This certainly appears to give you a legal claim to whatever may be of
value in the late Duval’s effects,” he said.

“Then you think it is worth looking into?”

“By all means. While the story sounds fanciful to a degree, it is not
much more so than plenty of recorded cases. At all events, no harm can
be done by trying to locate the wreck, and it may be the means of
rehabilitating your fortunes.”

“I dunno what that means,” grinned Ben, “but if it signifies that I’m to
get some money out of the cruise, I’m willing right now to split it up
any way it suits you.”

“We can talk about that later,” said Dr. Perkins, with a smile at the
old man’s enthusiasm; “now would you mind letting me have a look at that
map to which Harry has referred?”

“Here it be,” grunted Ben, once more diving into the wallet and
producing the map that Harry had looked over on Barren Island.

“At any rate, this looks definite enough,” declared Dr. Perkins after a
careful examination of it. “Of course, as this Duval appears to be a
thorough rascal, he may have ‘cooked this up,’ as the saying goes, in
order to induce you to make him a loan. But certain things about it make
me believe that it may be genuine. I recall reading some time ago a
newspaper account of mysteries of the Mississippi, and among them was an
account of the serious disaster to the _Belle of New Orleans_, so, at
any rate, that part of the story is authentic enough.”

“Meanin’ it’s true,” murmured Ben. “Waal, if you’ll help me we’ll soon
find out the truth of it, or otherwise.”

“As I said,” rejoined Dr. Perkins, “I had intended to cruise up the
Mississippi from New Orleans. What you have told us furnishes us with a
distinct object in making the trip, and,” he added with a smile, “I
suppose the spice of adventure about it does not displease the lads
here.”

Frank was about to reply when, from the wireless table, there came a
queer buzzing sound from an instrument which the boy had connected with
his detector.

“Hullo! some one is sending out a message,” he exclaimed, “and our wires
have caught it. Wonder what it can be.”

The boy rose and went over to the wireless table. Seating himself on the
stool in front of the instruments he adjusted the “phones” and began
putting his variable condenser in tune to catch whatever message was
pulsing through the air.

“What’s coming?” demanded Harry, as the instruments began to crackle and
snap.

“Don’t know yet,” spoke Frank, again changing the capacity of the
condenser; “looks as if——”

He ceased speaking suddenly. Sliding his hand across the table he made
an adjustment to catch longer sound waves. Instantly a hail of aërial
dots and dashes came pattering against his ear drums, like rain on a
window pane.

With startling suddenness Frank sensed the meaning of the storm of
desperate flashes.

“C-Q-D! C-Q-D! C-Q-D!”

“Some one out at sea is calling us in distress!” he cried loudly. The
others, brim full of excitement, rose and crowded about him. But Frank
waved them back.

“No questions yet, please!” he said sharply, and then bent all his
faculties to catching the voice out of the black night.



CHAPTER XI.—“GOOD LUCK!”


The silence in the hut was absolute as Frank bent low over his
instruments. Even Pudge was subdued for once. There is something
thrillingly dramatic to the most phlegmatic of temperaments in the idea
of a wireless call for aid. Across unknown miles the message comes
winging through the air—an appeal out of space.

Of course, the others could not catch what was coming, for the whisper
of the wireless waves sounds faint and shadowy even to one with the
“phones” clasped to his ears. But Frank’s manner showed plainly enough
that, whatever was winging its way to his organs of hearing, was
exciting to the last degree.

Suddenly the boy switched to his transmitting apparatus. With his helix
he began attuning the length of his sparks, while the snake-like blue
flame hissed and crackled across the “high-efficiency” spark gap. It
looked like a living thing of lambent fire, as it writhed and screamed
in response to the pressure on the key.

“What’s wanted? Where are you?”

This was the message that went speeding out on the air waves from the
aërials above the hut.

“This is the yacht _Wanderer_, from New York to Rocktown. We have struck
a derelict and are leaking badly. Who are you?”

“A station on Brig Island, about four miles at sea from Motthaven. Where
are you?”

The latter question was unanswered for the time being. Instead came
another query:

“Have you any means by which you can get to our assistance? We are in
dire peril.”

“We will try to aid you. But what is your position?”

“Wait. I’ll look at the chart.”

There came a pause, during which Frank rapidly detailed what he had
heard to the eager group of listeners. But in the midst of it the
unknown sender broke in once more.

“We are about twenty miles to the southeast of you, on an almost
straight course. Can keep afloat only a few hours longer. Can you get
tug from the mainland?”

“Impossible,” flashed back Frank, “but will do what we can. Are you at
anchor?”

“No, but the drift is very little. We are off soundings. Can you come to
our aid?”

Frank’s fingers pressed down on the key firmly. Rapidly he sent this
message pulsating:

“How many on board?”

“Three. Owner, a friend and a hand.”

“All right. Standby!”

“Good-by, and hurry,” came out of the night, and then—silence.

Frank disconnected his instruments and turned to the others. Rapidly he
detailed the impending tragedy out there in the darkness.

“Can’t we get to them in the motor boat?” demanded Harry breathlessly.

Frank shook his head.

“Not in the time we have. They can’t keep afloat much longer, recollect.
What can be done? Is there no way we can help them?”

“Yes, there is.”

The words came quietly but in a decided tone from Dr. Perkins. Frank was
the first to guess the import of the speech.

“The _Sea Eagle_!” he exclaimed excitedly.

Dr. Perkins nodded.

“Yes. Here is our chance to test her in the service of humanity. She is
ready for flight this instant.”

“But in the darkness? How can we pick up this yacht?”

“By the searchlight. Most likely the yacht has rockets. When she sees
our searchlight she will send some up. That will give us her bearings.
The general location of the craft we know.”

“Are we all to go?” demanded Pudge.

“Hardly,” rejoined his father, slipping into an overcoat, for the night
was somewhat chilly, though the air was calm. “Frank and Harry, I need
you two. You others await our return. Have hot coffee and food ready, as
the survivors may be in need of nourishment.”

“Aye, aye, sir,” responded Ben; “and now, sir, if I may give a bit of
advice, lose no time in getting away. I’ve been in some sea disasters
myself, and sometimes every second counts.”

“You’re right, Stubbs,” ejaculated Dr. Perkins. “Boys, get the _Sea
Eagle_ ready. I’ll bring along the searchlight.”

While Frank and Harry hastened on their errand, Dr. Perkins got the
searchlight out of its locker. It was a small but powerful one,
constructed so as to fit into a socket on the _Sea Eagle’s_ “bow.” Its
light was supplied from a small dynamo connected with the engine of the
sea-and-air craft. By the time the doctor was ready the _Sea Eagle_ had
been wheeled out of her shed, and Frank gave a sharp hail.

“All ready, doctor!”

“With you in a moment, my boy,” was the response, as the inventor
hastened out into the darkness.

The outlines of the _Sea Eagle_ loomed up gray and ghostly in the gloom.
Only a tiny speck of light showed in her bow by the steering wheel,
where a minute electric bulb shed light on the compass. This light was
obtained from a storage battery of peculiarly light construction,
connected with the dynamo before mentioned.

The boys had clambered on board as soon as the airship had been wheeled
out of its shed. They extended their hands to Dr. Perkins and helped him
on board. The searchlight was put in place and its wires connected to
the storage battery. A snap of a switch and a sharp pencil of light cut
the night. The appliance worked to perfection.

“Now, then,” said the doctor, as he took the wheel, “the less time we
lose, the better. Frank, you had better apply the buoyancy apparatus, as
we must make an abrupt rise to clear the trees.”

“Why not launch from the runway?” inquired Frank; “wouldn’t that be
quicker?”

“That’s right. I think it would. Head the prow round for the rails.”

Willing hands pushed the _Sea Eagle_ around, for on her ball-bearing
supporting wheels she handled very easily, despite her great weight.

Presently the craft was poised at the summit of the incline, ready for
her rush downward.

“Give her power!” cried the doctor.

Frank seized the self-starting lever, and gave it a twirl. A pressure of
his forefinger on the button followed, and almost simultaneously the
motor began to thunder and roar.

“Right here!” cried Frank.

“All right. Hold tight. I’m going to apply full power.”

Dr. Perkins jerked back the clutch lever as he spoke. There was a
jarring shock, and then a downward rush through the night, the
searchlight cutting a blazing white path through the blackness. Down,
down they raced at terrific speed. Suddenly the jarring movement ceased.
The _Sea Eagle_ appeared to glide upward as if drawn skyward by
invisible ropes. As the craft left the rails, and began soaring to the
stars that looked quietly down on the exciting scene, a sound was borne
upward to the aërial voyagers.

“Good-by.”

And then an instant later in Ben’s stentorian tones:

“So long, mates! Go-o-o-d luck!”



CHAPTER XII.—THROUGH THE NIGHT.


Up and out into the night winged the great sea-and-air craft, the
powerful motors working without a skip, and the propellers beating the
air with a noise like the drone of a mastadonic bee—or more
appropriately, night beetle. Above shone the stars, steady points of
brightness in the dark blue canopy of heavens; below stretched the
silent, empty sea, heaving gently. The air was calm and still, and the
_Sea Eagle_ cleaved her way through it powerfully. Dr. Perkins set the
course at due southeast, and kept a careful eye on the compass.

“What speed are we making?” shouted Frank presently.

The inventor glanced at the aërial speed meter, a device of his own
invention.

“Close to fifty,” he shouted back, for, owing to the roar of the engines
and propellers, it was necessary to raise the voice in speaking to any
one at a distance.

“Then we should be in the vicinity in half an hour?”

“Yes; that is unless——”

But Dr. Perkins broke off abruptly. The _Sea Eagle_ had now attained a
height of some five hundred feet, at which altitude he intended to keep
the craft till they reached the vicinity of the disabled yacht.

The cause of the sudden breaking off of his shouted remarks was this:
Without the slightest warning the _Sea Eagle_ gave a sickening dip
downward, and rushed toward the sea; or rather, to those in the falling
ship, it seemed as if the sea was racing up devouringly toward them.

“Gracious, what’s happened?” shouted Harry.

But Frank was too busy with the engine to answer just then.

“Power! Give me lots of power!” yelled Dr. Perkins.

But although Frank instantly opened up the motor to its full capacity of
two thousand revolutions a minute, the downward rush still continued.

“The sea! We’ll be plunged into the sea!” cried Harry, in alarm,
gripping a side support.

Indeed there appeared to be good cause for his apprehension, for the
_Sea Eagle_ was falling like a stone flung into space. All this, of
course, took place in far less time than it takes to describe or to read
it. In fact, hardly had Harry shouted his fears before the _Sea Eagle’s_
“hull”—as we must call the hydroplane part of the craft—struck the
water, and a huge cloud of spray flew high on either side.

But instead of diving, the _Sea Eagle_ shot forward over the waves,
gliding over their tops for some time before Frank shut off the motor.
Even then such was the “shooting” velocity gained, that the _Sea Eagle_
still continued to scoot along until the young engineer, in response to
Dr. Perkins’ instructions, reversed her propellers, and thus brought the
craft to a speedy standstill.

“What on earth happened?” demanded Frank anxiously, as the _Sea Eagle_
lay still, bobbing up and down on the gentle swell.

“We struck an air pocket. An empty hole in space where there was no
ether to support us,” explained Dr. Perkins.

“Gracious; I thought we were goners,” cried Harry, still a little shaky
over the fearful sensation of the fall.

“Had the _Sea Eagle_ been of different construction we should have dived
as straight to the bottom as a loon,” said the inventor, “but the
spoonlike construction of the bow allowed me to handle her so that,
instead of the impulse of the fall being downward, it was diverted into
a forward movement along the surface.”

“Shall we go up again?” asked Frank, after a hasty examination had been
made to ascertain if anything had parted or snapped under the strain of
the suddenly arrested tumble through the air pocket.

“Yes. We had better lose as little time as possible,” was the rejoinder.
“If you are ready, start the engine up, and we will try a flight from
the surface of the water.”

“You want full power?” asked Frank.

“Yes; but start up gently at first, gradually increasing to top
velocity. I think, however, that we shall leave the water at about 1,500
revolutions a minute.”

The next minute the roar of the newly started engine prevented further
conversation. In order to develop every ounce of power of which the
motor was capable Frank had opened the muffler cut-out, and the uproar
was terrific. Spurts of greenish flame spouted from the exhausts, and
the acrid smell of burning oil and gasolene filled the air. To any one
less accustomed than the Boy Aviators to the uproar of aërial motors,
the noise would have been alarming to say the least. They, however, were
too much used to such scenes to pay any attention to it.

Faster and faster the _Sea Eagle_ sped over the waves, till her keel
barely touched the tips of the swells. Then suddenly the jerky motion
ceased, and the craft, buoyed by its wings, began to soar upward in a
steadily increasing gradient. Before ten minutes had passed they were
once more on an even keel at a five-hundred-feet altitude, and bearing
steadily for the southwest.

Frank looked at his watch.

“We ought to be getting pretty close to that yacht by now,” he remarked
to Harry, who had seated himself at his side, and was assisting in
attending to the lubrication and watching of the motor.

“I’ll keep a sharp lookout,” rejoined Harry; “they surely ought to hear
the noise of our motor and send up a rocket or wave lights, or
something, if they are in the vicinity.

“That’s just what I think. Keep your eyes open while I watch the
engine.”

Harry peered out into the night, but as far as he could see nothing
appeared but the reflection of the stars in the water to relieve its
blackness.

“I can’t see anything yet,” he said, after a while.

“Just keep on looking,” rejoined Frank; “there’s a chance that they may
have drifted from the position they gave us.”

“Well, in any case it would have been impossible for us to fly direct to
the spot,” rejoined Harry; “this thing is a good deal like looking for a
needle in a haystack, to my way of thinking.”

“I’m not so sure of that. If they are anywhere within five or six miles
they must hear the beat of our motor.”

“Wonder why Dr. Perkins doesn’t switch on the searchlight. Hullo, there
it goes now.”

As Harry spoke, a fan-shaped ray of brilliant white light cut the night
in front of the _Sea Eagle_, like a radiant sword. Hither and thither it
swept over the dark sea; but it revealed nothing. All at once Dr.
Perkins shut the searchlight off.

“If they have seen it they will reply in some way,” he shouted in
explanation to the boys. “Keep a bright lookout for an answer. I’ll keep
the _Sea Eagle_ swinging in circles. We have been doing thirty miles an
hour, and even allowing for the delay when we struck the air pocket we
ought to be in the disabled yacht’s vicinity by this time.”

As the searchlight was extinguished Harry peered out into the darkness
with straining eyes. Suddenly he gave a shout and clutched Frank’s arm.

“What’s that,” he shouted, “that light off there to the south?”

“It’s a lantern,” cried Frank; “somebody’s waving it.”

Dr. Perkins confirmed Frank’s supposition, and the _Sea Eagle_, on her
errand of rescue, was headed for the swinging pin-point of light in the
distance.



CHAPTER XIII.—A TWENTIETH-CENTURY RESCUE.


As he flew his craft in the direction of the feeble beacon of distress,
Dr. Perkins once more switched on the searchlight. Its comforting beam
shot across the sea, and finally ceased its swaying and centered on a
strange sight. As a dark scene in a theater is illumined at one single
point by the calcium light, so the search rays concentrated themselves
on a striking picture of distress at sea.

Framed in the circle of white light the boys could see a small gasolene
craft, apparently up to the rails in the water. At any rate nothing of
the hull but a narrow white strip could be seen, while, on the top of
the raised deck cabin crouched the figures of three men. One of these
had been swinging the lantern, but he ceased as the bright light from
the _Sea Eagle_ bathed the group in its rays. One single mast arose high
above the pitching hull, and from it could be seen wires strung down to
the cabin top. Evidently this was the wireless apparatus which had been
the means of bringing the Boy Aviators and their friend to the rescue.

The yacht could not have been more than fifty feet in length—a very
small craft to be equipped with wireless; but her owner, if he was on
board, must have been congratulating himself at that very moment on his
wise precaution.

It was but a few minutes after the searchlight had first revealed the
_Wanderer_ and her distressed company that the _Sea Eagle_ was swinging
in a graceful, birdlike circle in the air above the sinking craft.

Frank seized up a small megaphone, which formed part of the sea and sky
ship’s equipment.

“Ahoy! Aboard the yacht!” he cried.

“Ahoy!” came back the cry, with a note of incredulous wonder in it, as
well there might be, considering the extraordinary circumstances.

“Are you the folks we talked with by wireless?” called Harry.

“The very same,” was the shouted reply, “but who are you? Can you get us
off this? The ship won’t last much longer.”

“We’ll get you off all right,” exclaimed Frank comfortingly, and as he
spoke Dr. Perkins allowed the _Sea Eagle_ to glide down to the surface
of the waves, alighting on the water about five hundred feet from the
castaways. He at once headed the _Sea Eagle_ round, and calling for
reduced speed made for the sinking yacht.

“Slow down! Stop her! Reverse!” he shouted in rapid succession, as they
bore down.

“On board the yacht!” hailed Frank, as they glided up alongside, “throw
us a line.”

The desired rope came snaking through the air, falling across the _Sea
Eagle’s_ bow. Harry bounded forward and made it fast.

“Now haul in,” ordered Dr. Perkins, as soon as the propellers had ceased
to beat the air; “easy now; we don’t want to foul the wings.”

His order was obeyed; and before long the _Sea Eagle’s_ bow was scraping
the side of the _Wanderer_. Fortunately, the sea was smooth, or the
maneuver would have been impossible of execution. As it was, however, on
the easy swell that was running it was made with comparatively small
difficulty.

“Well, great Cæsar’s ghost!” blurted out a stout, blond man in yachting
costume, who occupied, apparently, the position of owner of the yacht,
“if this isn’t the twentieth century with a vengeance. Just think of it,
Griggs—rescued by an aëroplane!”

The man addressed, a good-natured-looking man, almost as corpulent as
the first speaker, nodded appreciatively.

“We don’t really know how to thank you folks,” continued the stout man;
“we haven’t much longer to stay above water, as you see. We hit a
derelict at dusk, and stove in our port bow. The water came rushing in
so fast that I had barely time to flash that wireless that you so
providentially caught.”

“It was feeble enough, I can tell you,” Frank assured him; “fortunately,
we were not far off, and so managed to catch your appeal for help.”

The stout man was again warmly thanking his rescuers, when Dr. Perkins
interrupted.

“Suppose you come on board,” he said; “by the looks of your craft she is
likely to take a plunge at any minute. I’d like to be able to cut loose
from her before that happens.”

Taking this hint, the stout man clambered on board the _Sea Eagle_ with
more agility than might have been expected from a man of his heavy
build. This done he extended a hand to his friend, and then came the
turn of the third occupant of the cabin roof to disembark. This third
man was evidently, from his costume, a paid hand on board the _Sea
Eagle_. He was slight and dark and foreign looking, with beady black
eyes, and a not over-prominent chin.

Directly all were on board, Dr. Perkins ordered Frank to “cast off” from
the sinking yacht. It was well this order was obeyed promptly, for
hardly had the _Sea Eagle_ been disengaged from the other craft’s side,
than the _Wanderer_ gave a sudden plunge, bow downward, under the waves.
For one instant her stern upreared itself vertically, showing the rudder
and propeller, and then, as if by magic, the whole craft vanished, to
find a grave in the ocean bed.

All this was seen by the searchlight, which Dr. Perkins had kept
concentrated on the yacht while the last act of this ocean drama was
being consummated. As the yacht vanished a deep sigh broke from the
stout man.

“Good-by, poor old _Wanderer_,” he said, “there’s an end of this
cruise.”

“I am sorry that she was not in a condition to tow to Brig Island,”
remarked Dr. Perkins.

“My dear sir, so far as the actual monetary loss is concerned it was
fully covered by insurance,” responded the stout man; “my only regret is
to see a craft I was very fond of end her days in such a fashion. Also,
I am afraid my friend Griggs here will be disappointed at the failure of
our cruise.”

“Good heavens!” cried Mr. Griggs, who appeared to be a highly nervous
individual, “I’m glad to have my life, Sterrett—glad to have my life. If
I don’t catch my death of cold over this I’ll be fortunate indeed.”

“In the meantime,” struck in the man addressed as Sterrett, “we are
forgetting in our own troubles the debt of gratitude we owe to our
friends here. In the first place, let me introduce ourselves. I am Paul
Sterrett, late owner of the _Wanderer_. This is my friend, Samuel
Griggs, and yonder,” indicating the foreign-looking third man, “is
Francis Le Blanc, our cook and general handy man. We left New York on a
cruise up the coast sometime ago, and up till to-night experienced no
mishaps. However, as my friend says, we must not repine; we should
consider ourselves fortunate indeed to be onboard your remarkable craft
instead of being in a watery grave, as we must have been had it not been
for your opportune arrival.”

“We consider ourselves fortunate to have been of service to you,”
responded the inventor, and then went on in his turn to introduce
himself and his party, and also give a brief explanation of the _Sea
Eagle_, which had, as may be imagined, excited the liveliest curiosity
on the part of the rescued castaways.

“But as we shall now get under way without further loss of time,” he
concluded, “you will be able to see for yourselves just how the _Sea
Eagle_ is controlled, and what she can do.”

As he finished this speech, Dr. Perkins extinguished the searchlight,
which had still been playing on the oil-streaked waters which marked the
burial spot of the ill-fated _Wanderer_. This done, he gave Frank the
“come ahead” signal. Obediently, as usual, the motor began its song, and
the propellers took up the whirring, buzzing refrain. Mr. Sterrett and
his companions sat perfectly still in the positions in the stern which
had been assigned to them. Had it been light enough to read the
expressions on their faces one would have said that they were absolutely
dumbfounded.

Of course both Mr. Sterrett and his friends—as well informed men—knew
the wonderful capabilities of the modern aëroplane. They had witnessed
many flights, and in common with the generality of progressive
Americans, knew the general principles of aërial locomotion. But when
the _Sea Eagle_ from a “boat” turned suddenly into a hydroplane, they
exchanged swift expressions of the utmost astonishment. Only their
companion, the paid “hand” from the yacht, sat sullenly unimpressed. In
fact, since he had boarded the _Sea Eagle_, he had not uttered a
syllable, only mumbling his thanks when Mr. Sterrett and his companion
had finished expressing their gratitude for their rescue.

Under the skillful guidance of Dr. Perkins, and the constant attention
that Frank paid to the whirring motor, the _Sea Eagle_ made a quick run
back to the island, being guided, when she was still some distance away,
by the ruddy glare of a big beacon fire lighted by Ben Stubbs. It was an
instance of the veteran adventurer’s thoughtfulness and resource that he
had thought of doing this, for in the hurry of the departure, no such
instructions had been given him. But on his own responsibility he had
kindled the blaze which materially aided the swift return of the _Sea
Eagle_ to her eyrie.

Reaching the island, the aërial wonder was sent swinging in decreasing
circles, till Dr. Perkins was sure of a safe drop to the workshop on the
summit of the little spot of land, and then, with a breath-catching
rapidity, the helmsman sent his wonderful vessel earthward, bringing it
to a stop within the ruddy glow caused by the blazing bonfire which had
guided them.

As the _Sea Eagle_ settled to the earth the party that had been left
behind on the adventurous night flight pressed to the side of the novel
craft. A glance showed them that the mission of Dr. Perkins’ craft had
been crowned with success, and Billy and Pudge began plying the returned
voyagers with eager questions. Ben Stubbs was slightly in the
background, and it was not till Mr. Sterrett and his companions had
stepped out on to the ground that he got a good look at them.

When he did, he gave a deep-drawn gasp of surprise. An expression of
supreme amazement overspread his weather-beaten countenance. But his
eyes did not fix on Mr. Sterrett or his companion, Griggs. Instead they
traveled beyond the nattily clad yachtsmen and rested on the slim figure
of the paid “hand.”

“Raoul Duval, as sure as there’s a north star!” choked out Ben, half to
himself, “waal, if this ain’t a small bit of a world!”



CHAPTER XIV.—BEN’S PLAN STOLEN.


For his part Duval was no less quick in recognizing Ben Stubbs. At the
moment, Dr. Perkins and the rest were standing in a group a little
apart, and discussing their adventure, while Mr. Sterrett was loud in
his praises of the _Sea Eagle_, which he described as the most wonderful
craft on earth. Giving a swift look round to see that he was unobserved,
Duval pressed a finger to his lips to enjoin silence on Ben, and then
beckoned him to come a short distance out of the firelight.

Ben, in wonderment as to this unexpected reappearance of the young man
who had exercised such sharp practice on him, obeyed the summons. But
when he addressed Duval it was in an angry tone.

“What’s this mean,” he exclaimed, “how did you come here?”

“As you see, by that air ship,” was the reply; “I never expected to see
you here, however. I tell you, Stubbs, I’ve had a lot of hard luck. When
those boys and that professor-chap rescued us I had been compelled to
ship as a deckhand and cook on that yacht. Just think of it.”

“A mighty good thing for you, say I,” grunted Ben brusquely, “a little
good, honest, hard work will take some of the crooked kinks out of your
brain. My recommendation to you, Duval, is to stick to that sort of a
job, and in time you’ll learn to be a man.”

Duval shot a look full of malice at the blunt old fellow. But his face
was in the shadow, and Ben did not notice it. Instead he continued:

“But I ain’t the one to bear a grudge, Duval, although you did come
mighty near shipwrecking my faith in human natur’. Shake hands, mate,
and for your old father’s sake I’ll do what I can fer you. I ain’t one
to kick a man when he’s down.”

Duval extended his thin, long-fingered hand, and Ben seized it in his
rough paw and shook it with a heartiness that made the dark-skinned
Duval flinch.

“There!” exclaimed the old fellow heartily, as he relinquished his grip,
“that’s all ship-shape and in good trim. Now let’s get back to the rest
of ’em afore they see us talking apart.”

“You’re not going to give me away to them?” asked Duval, almost
breathlessly. “Sterrett thinks I’m all right, and may give me a better
job some time.”

“I won’t stand in your way, lad,” heartily rejoined Ben. “In fact, I’d
like to help you get on your feet again.”

“How about that plan of the location of the _Belle of New Orleans_?”
asked Duval, without paying any attention to Ben’s last remarks.

“Safe enough in my pocket, mate,” replied Ben, tapping his worn coat;
“why do you want to know?”

“I wondered if you had investigated my story.”

“No, I haven’t yet; but I don’t mind telling you that I may do so before
very long. And I’ll tell you right now, Duval, that if we recover
anything valuable from that wreck I’ll see to it that you get a good
share of it, and then you can set up in business again and make a new
start.”

Duval expressed what appeared to be very deep thanks for Ben’s
generosity. But, in reality, his thoughts were busy elsewhere. An idea
had come into his head that was to bear strange fruit before very long.
They joined the group clustered about Dr. Perkins without their absence
having been noticed. Billy and Pudge had seen to it while the _Sea
Eagle_ was on her mission of rescue that a good hot lunch should be
ready on the return of the expedition. A few moments after Ben and Duval
joined the others Pudge announced this fact, and the party trooped into
the hut, nothing loath, to fall to with hearty appetites on a good meal.
Soon after they “turned in,” the boys insisting on the strangers taking
their bunks, while they and Ben Stubbs put up with “shake-downs” on the
floor.

It was very late—or rather early morning—when they retired, and before
long all were wrapped in the deep sleep of exhaustion. Ben was the first
to awaken, to find the sun streaming into the hut.

“Great guns!” he exclaimed, glancing at Billy’s alarm clock on a shelf,
“it’s after seven.”

Broad awake in a jiffy, he aroused the others, going from the floor
sleepers to the bunks. Dr. Perkins, Mr. Sterrett and the latter’s friend
were awakened in turn, and it was not till then that Ben noticed that
Duval’s bunk was empty.

“Good fer him,” he said to himself warmly, “the young chap has started
to turn over a new leaf by gittin’ out early. I’ll take a turn outside
afore breakfast and see if I can find him.”

But Duval was not about the workshop, nor did Ben’s calls summon him to
breakfast. It was not till that instant that an ugly suspicion flashed
into Ben’s hitherto unsuspecting mind. Without saying a word to the
others he hastily drew out his wallet and, withdrawing to a corner of
the hut, examined its contents. Instantly his suspicions were verified.

The plan of the location of the wreck of the _Belle of New Orleans_ was
missing!

Stifling his anger as well as he could, Ben hastened to the beach. As he
had suspected the moment he found the plan missing, the small skiff was
gone. What had happened was as plain as print to Ben now. Young Duval
had waited till all in the hut were asleep, then he had stealthily crept
from his bunk, recovered the plan he had given to Ben, and had decamped
in the small boat.

“Waal, the dern scallywag!” burst out Ben, as he stood on the beach in
the first shock of his discovery.

In his anger he shook his fist at the strip of sea between the island
and the mainland to which, he did not doubt, Duval had crossed in his
flight.

“The—the—precious scamp!” he continued, his bronzed features working,
“and I trusted him as I would have trusted his dad.”

Shaking his head, Ben slowly made his way from the beach back to the
hut. He said nothing of his discovery during breakfast, but after the
meal he found a pretext for drawing Dr. Perkins to one side. To him he
communicated what had occurred.

“A good riddance of bad rubbish,” said Dr. Perkins when Ben, whose voice
shook with anger, had concluded his story; “we are cheaply rid of him,
Ben.”

The inventor, while not a selfish man, was so wrapped up in the success
of the _Sea Eagle_ that, to him, the loss of the plan of the wreck did
not appeal in the same way that it did to Ben Stubbs. But the old
adventurer took him up indignantly.

“Bad rubbish, as you say, sir,” he grated out, “but if that paper hadn’t
bin worth something Duval wouldn’t have taken it. It’s good-by to
recovering that stuff from the _Belle of New Orleans_ now.”

“By Jove! I’d quite forgotten my promise to you,” said Dr. Perkins
contritely; “but never fear, Ben, I’ll see that you are not a loser.”

“It ain’t that,” rejoined Ben; “I don’t give a snap for the plan; but
it’s the ingratitood of that young whippersnapper that’s got me sore.
I’d like—I’d like to find that wreck just to get ahead of him.”

“Humph!” rejoined the inventor, “I understand your feelings. He has
certainly treated you very badly. But possibly we can think up some way
to outgeneral him.”

“Don’t see how we are goin’ to do it without that plan,” rejoined Ben;
“but I ain’t one to cry over spilt milk. It’s gone, and that’s all there
is to it. The best thing to do is to forget it.”

Frank and Harry, on their way to the _Sea Eagle’s_ shelter, were passing
at the moment. After asking the inventor if he thought it would be
advisable, and receiving an affirmative reply, Ben called them over. As
briefly as he could he told them what had happened.

“Well, the precious rascal!” broke out Frank; “I thought there was
something snaky-looking about the chap last night. Isn’t there a chance
of catching him?”

“Not such a slick rascal as he is, Frank,” rejoined Ben despondently;
“no, the plan is gone, and gone for good—so good-by to that.”

But Harry now spoke up, and to the astonishment of the others his voice
did not hold a trace of the disappointment they could not help but feel.

“Cheer up, Ben,” he said heartily, “and by the way you might just cast
your eye over this and see if it looks familiar.”

As he spoke he dipped a hand into his breast pocket and produced a
folded paper. Ben, with a mystified expression, took it and opened the
thing up. The next instant it almost fell from his hands.

“Why!—why, by the glittering Pole Star!” he choked out, “it’s the plan
itself!”

“Not exactly,” laughed Harry, “but I think it’s a pretty good copy. You
see I always liked drawing and that sort of thing, so when you showed me
that plan I memorized it, and when I got a chance I sketched out this
copy in case anything happened to the original. I think it’s good enough
to take a chance on.”

“Good enough!” roared Ben, “why, lad, it’s the plan itself. Now, then,
if we don’t beat Master Duval to the _Belle of New Orleans_ call me a
double-decked, lee-scuppered sea cook!”



CHAPTER XV.—WHAT HAPPENED ASHORE.


As Ben had surmised, Duval had waited till the boys and their friends
were sound asleep, and had then, in accordance with a plan he had
thought of the instant he set eyes on his kind-hearted friend, sneaked
out of his bunk and, tip-toeing softly to Ben’s clothes, located the
wallet and with small trouble or loss of time abstracted the plan of the
lost wreck. During the evening the ingrate had heard a description of
the island given to Mr. Sterrett by Dr. Perkins, so that after taking
the plan he left the hut and made for the beach by the path through the
woods.

Shoving off the skiff, he had taken up the oars and started rowing as
fast as he could for the mainland. But what with the darkness and his
unfamiliarity with that part of the coast, he had failed to land in the
cove adjoining the fisher village of Motthaven, and had beached his
craft a considerable distance to the south of the place. It was just
growing light when the bow of the skiff grated on the sand, and Duval
hastily scrambled out and started off. His object was to find a railroad
station and travel as far as his scant supply of money would take him
from the vicinity of Brig Island.

After that his plans were still vague; but he had an indefinite idea of
getting to New York or some large town, and interesting anybody with
capital to finance an expedition for the recovery of the gold dust chest
and the bag of black pearls that lay at the bottom of the Black Bayou
amid the moldering timbers of the lost steamer. The utter depravity and
black-heartedness of this plan, and his base ingratitude to the man who
had aided him in every way, did not strike him. Instead, there was but
one over-mastering thought in his mind, and that was to secure whatever
treasure might be in the wreck as quickly as possible, and then vanish
from America for some foreign country with his ill-gotten wealth.

Busy with such thoughts as these, he hastened up the beach in the gray
of the dawn, and finding a rough sort of path leading up the low cliff
that overhung the beach, he started to ascend it. He had not gone more
than a few paces, however, before he saw, buried back in some trees, a
rough-looking hut.

Duval was hungry and thirsty, and, moreover, his long row, at such a
feverish pace, had exhausted him. Determining to tell a story that would
account for his presence in that isolated part of the coast at such an
early hour, he made up his mind to apply at the hut for some
refreshment. His story was to be that he had set off on a fishing
expedition and had lost his way and been wandering all night.

“Probably only some fool fisherman lives there who will believe anything
I choose to tell him,” he thought; “these fellows are all as thick as
mud, anyhow.”

Musing to himself in this fashion, the renegade fellow made his way
toward the hut and, coming to the door, knocked loudly on it. But there
was no answer, and when, after repeated knockings, he could elicit no
response, Duval determined that, as there appeared to be nobody at home,
he would walk in uninvited and see what he could “forage” for himself.

The door was unlocked; in fact, it had no latch and hung crazily on its
rusty hinges. Opening it, Duval found himself in an interior as rough
and uncouth as the outside of the hut had promised. A table made of old
planks, seemingly flotsam from the beach, two soap boxes for chairs, and
a rough sort of bunk, or rather shelf, littered with a pile of dirty old
blankets, made up the furnishings. On the table were the remains of a
meal, which had consisted apparently of roasted lobsters and fish. Two
tin cups and tin plates, with battered knives and forks beside them,
completed the table service.

“Confound it all,” muttered Duval, “whoever lives here is as poor as a
church mouse. Some miserable fisherman, I suppose, who has hardly enough
to keep body and soul together.”

He walked to a corner of the shack where there was a sort of cupboard
contrived out of old boxes. He had guessed that this formed the pantry
of the establishment. Sure enough, in it he found a loaf half consumed,
and the remains of a roasted lobster, as well as some scraps of fish. He
was too hungry to be particular and was just about to start eating when
a quick step behind him caused him to start violently, dropping the food
he had in his hand.

But before he could utter a word the young man—or, rather, loutish
boy—who had entered so quietly, owing to his being barefooted, stepped
up to him and, raising a heavy oar he carried, dealt the intruder a blow
that deprived him of his senses for the time being.

As Duval fell to the floor a man in rough fisherman’s garb, with a
wrinkled, mahogany-tinged face and a tuft of gray whisker on his
prominent chin, entered.

“Why, Zeb, what’s up?” he exclaimed, in an astonished voice.

“I found this feller snoopin’ about in here, pop,” was the rejoinder,
“an’ I calkelated ter lay him out till we could find out what his
business was.”

“Good ernuff, boy,” responded the elder Daniels, for most of our readers
must be aware by this time of the identity of the two newcomers; “but
who do yer suppose he is? He’s dressed like one of them fancy sailors
off’n a yacht.”

“Dad, I figger he’s a detective sent here by them kids on Brig Island.
That’s the way it looks to me.”

“I guess you’re right, Zeb. Here, give me a hand to get him up on the
bunk. By hickory, but you must have hit him a clip.”

“Reckon I did land kind er hard on him, dad, but I wasn’t takin’ chances
of his turning on me.”

The two worthies lifted Duval’s limp form and laid it, not over-gently,
on the tumbled pile of frowsy blankets. This done, a sudden thought
struck the elder Daniels.

“Calkerlate I’ll take a look through his pockets,” he said; “might
rummage out something worth havin’.”

Zeb helped his father in this task; but aside from a small sum of money,
and a collection of worthless odds and ends, they found nothing that
appeared to them to be of importance. In an inner pocket Zeb came across
the stolen map. Much mystified, he showed it to his father.

“What do you think this kin be, pop?” he inquired.

The old man took it and knitted his brow over the document in a puzzled
fashion.

“By hickory, I kain’t make it out,” he confessed; “thar’s some riting in
ther corner, though. Spell it out, Zeb.”

Zeb, obediently, but somewhat laboriously, read out:

“‘Map of the location of the wreck of the _Belle of New Orleans_.’
That’s what it says; but what does it mean?”

“That’s plain enough, ain’t it?” retorted the old man. “It’s a map of
some wreck or other, but what does this feller want with it? That’s the
question.”

“Better ask him. He’s opening his eyes and coming to.”

Sure enough Duval stirred uneasily, and threw up his hand as if to ward
off a blow.

“Don’t hit me, Frank Chester,” he cried out; “I’ll give back the plan I
stole.”

“Oh-ho! That’s the way the wind blows, is it?” muttered the elder
Daniels, and then, addressing Duval, who was now staring wildly about
him, he said:

“So you come from Brig Island, eh, my hearty?”

“Yes; but how did I get here? Oh, I remember now. I was looking for food
and somebody struck me.”

“That was me, I reckon,” grinned Zeb, “who are you, anyhow? Did those
kids on Brig Island send you here after us?”

What with the effects of his blow, and his alarm at his position, Duval
lost his customary caution.

“I’m no friend of anybody on Brig Island,” he exclaimed, “but what do
you know about that place, anyhow?”

“A whole lot,” grimly rejoined the elder Daniels; “now, see here, my
lad, you’d best make a clean breast of it. How did you come by this
plan?”

The old fisherman, who was pretty keen-minded, had guessed by Duval’s
guilty manner that there was some mystery connected with the document
which he now flourished.

Duval sat up on the bunk and pleaded for the return of the plan; but to
no avail.

“I’m smart enough to see through a wall when there’s a hole in it,” said
old Daniels; “now, see here, I reckon you ain’t no friend of them kids
on the island?”

Duval shook his head. He had, of course, no reason to dislike the boys;
but he was an arrant coward at heart, and saw that the men in whose
power he was, hated the young dwellers on Brig Island. He therefore
thought it good policy to affect to be of their way of thinking.

“I’m no friend of theirs,” he said, rather sullenly, “but what’s that to
you?”

“May be a whole lot, if this plan is what I think it is. Now I’ve a
pretty good idea that you come by it in no very honest way. Ain’t that
so?”

“I—I was given it,” stammered Duval uneasily, while Zenas’ little
gimlet-like gray eyes bored him through.

“That’s a lie,” rejoined Daniels easily; “come on, out with the truth,
now. It won’t do you no harm, and may keep you from the constables.”

This was a shrewd move on Daniels’ part. Duval’s eyes dilated with fear
at the idea of coming within the reach of the law. Without more ado he
blurted out part of the story of the lost _Belle of New Orleans_, and
offered to let Zenas share in the prize if he should locate it. While
Duval was talking the elder Daniels had leaned forward, consumed with
interest. Avaricious to a degree, the thought of the sunken treasure
made him fairly burn with desire to gain it.

“You’re sure that was a true story that feller give you?” he asked, as
Duval concluded his story.

“I’m certain of it. I know for a fact that my father had a lot of gold
dust and those black pearls with him on his last voyage, for he had
written home about the fortune that he was bringing.”

“Humph! Waal, your story sounds all right, and I don’t know but what
you’ve come to the right shop to get some one to help you get at the
wreck. I’ve got a diving outfit and a little money, and I kin raise some
more. Now sit down and Zeb will get you a bite to eat, and we’ll talk
things over.”

And thus was begun an alliance which was to prove a source of much
trouble to the Boy Aviators and their friends in the near future.



CHAPTER XVI.—OFF ON THE “AIR ROUTE.”


In the meantime indignation was at white heat on Brig Island. Mr.
Sterrett was for advertising the disappearance of Duval, and offering a
reward for his apprehension. He confessed that he had not liked the
man’s looks, but had shipped him as help was hard to get at the time.
Dr. Perkins agreed that it might not be a bad idea to communicate at
once with the authorities and try to have the rascal captured.

“But,” he added, “I am afraid he is too clever a scamp to fall into the
clutches of the law very easily.”

“I am of that opinion, too,” frankly admitted Mr. Sterrett, “but it will
do no harm to do all we can to place him where he belongs.”

To get ashore Frank had first to swim off to the motor boat, for the
skiff, as we know, had vanished. He then ran the engine-driven craft in
alongside some rocks that sloped down into deep water, and from that
elevation the party embarked. A quick run was made to Motthaven, from
whence a description of Duval was wired to the metropolitan police, and
the local authorities urged out of their usual lethargy by promises of a
reward if Duval was found. Late that afternoon the search yielded
results in the finding of the abandoned skiff, and the discovery of the
hut in which the Daniels had been living since the boys had instituted
proceedings against them.

Some evidences of a hasty departure were found, but no clews that would
give any idea of whither the fugitives had proceeded. In fact it was
only by piecing together some scraps of torn paper that it was
discovered that the hut had been used by the Daniels as a refuge.

“Well,” said Dr. Perkins that evening, after they had bidden good-by to
Mr. Sterrett and his friend, who had returned to New York, “well, in my
opinion the less time we lose in getting to Black Bayou the better it
will be, for, to my mind, there is little doubt that Duval means to
forestall our friend, Ben Stubbs, in ransacking the wreck.”

The others agreed that this seemed highly probable, and Dr. Perkins made
immediate arrangements for a caretaker to occupy quarters on Brig Island
during their absence. This done, a return was made to the little
settlement, and the next day final preparations were made for the
adventurous trip through the air. The _Sea Eagle_ was provisioned, and a
light wireless apparatus installed, the stay wires being used as
aërials. Of course the instruments were not so strong as those used at
the shore station, but it was calculated that they had a capacity of
about twenty miles over land, and forty above the sea, depending, of
course, a good deal on the wave adjustment and the weather conditions.

Twenty-four hours after the adventurers had started work on the _Sea
Eagle_, the craft was ready for her dash. Ben Stubbs, Pudge Perkins and
Billy Barnes were to go to New Orleans, there to await the arrival of
the party. Their departure took place amid regretful wails from Pudge,
who loudly declaimed:

“Aërials and ant-hills! I don’t see why we can’t go by the _Sea Eagle_.”

But Dr. Perkins’ word was law and he had decided that the fewer persons
who took part in the test the better the chance of success would be, and
as Frank and Harry were both experienced aviators he placed great
reliance in their aid. The morning after the departure of the New
Orleans-bound passengers the caretaker and his family arrived. They were
honest folk from the shore, who could be trusted to look after the many
valuable devices on the island, and keep curiosity seekers off till the
party returned. For Dr. Perkins had decided to use Brig Island as a
permanent workshop, and expected, if the _Sea Eagle_ proved a success,
to build many craft like her and dispose of them at good prices. The
working of the electric fence was explained to the caretaker; but he
declared:

“I reckon my old gun will do more to keep undesirables off than any of
them electric didoes.”

There was now nothing more to do, the caretaker being duly installed,
but to take to the air, in what was, at that date, the most unique
aërial craft in existence. For the voyage, beside the provisions and
extra fuel and oil, life belts had been provided, and not a detail had
been overlooked. It was seven o’clock on a fine, breathless morning when
Dr. Perkins gave the order, “Start up the engines!”

A thrill shot through both Frank and Harry at the words. Experienced in
aërial adventure as were both boys, they could not but feel that they
were embarking on the most adventurous undertaking of their lives.

“We’re off!” cried Harry, as a quiver ran through the craft, and the
motor roared from its exhausts, emitting clouds of mingled flame and
blue smoke.

“Yes; off on a fight for fame and fortune!” cried Frank, as Dr. Perkins
threw in the clutch; and, with her propellers beating the air so rapidly
that they were a mere blur, the _Sea Eagle_ shot skyward.

In half an hour’s time, to the watchers on the island, the aërial craft
had dwindled to a mere dot in the distant sky, and five minutes later
she vanished from view. The boys gave many backward looks as they winged
away from Brig Island. Despite their adventures, they had spent many
pleasant days there, and it appeared to them to be almost a second home.
Of all that they were to experience before returning to the island they
little dreamed at the moment, but their hearts beat high with exultation
as the _Sea Eagle_ winged her way southward at forty miles an hour, and
about five hundred feet above the ocean.

They had been in the air about an hour when they encountered a situation
which may become common enough before many years have passed, but which
was an exciting novelty to them. Off on the horizon a liner was sighted,
steaming toward the American coast. Before long they made her out to be
a big, two-funneled craft, painted black, and with numerous decks rising
above her shapely hull.

“One of the transatlantic liners that make Portland their terminal,”
decided Dr. Perkins.

“Shall I wireless them?” said Harry.

“Yes, do so. It will be an interesting experiment, and besides will show
how the apparatus will work.”

Harry lost no time in getting to work. After a brief interval he
“raised” the operator on the liner, Dr. Perkins keeping the _Sea Eagle_
swinging in big, lazy circles while he did so.

“We sighted you from the bridge half an hour ago,” flashed the operator,
“who and what are you?”

“The hydro-aëroplane _Sea Eagle_, bound from Maine for New Orleans. Who
are you?” flashed back Harry.

“The _Ultonia_, of the Portland and Liverpool line, eight days out from
England,” was the rejoinder; “have you got any American newspapers on
board?”

Now it happened that Dr. Perkins had brought some papers of the day
before along in his pockets, and at Harry’s request he handed them to
him.

“What are you going to do?” asked Frank.

“I was going to suggest that we dive across the _Ultonia_ and deliver
the papers,” said Harry; “can we do it, doctor?”

“By all means,” rejoined Dr. Perkins, deeply interested; “flash them a
message of what we intend to do so that they may be prepared.”

Harry sent out the message and the operator flashed back a quick
“Thanks,” adding the next moment: “Good-by. I’m going to beat it out on
deck and watch you.”

Frank, in the meantime, had done the papers up in a compact bundle and
weighted them with an empty beef can.

“All ready?” cried Dr. Perkins.

“All ready, sir,” was the prompt reply from the boys.

“Then hold tight. I’m going to make a swift dive.”

The liner was now almost directly underneath the soaring _Sea Eagle_.
Her rails were black with passengers craning their necks upward at the
great, man-made bird. From her funnels poured clouds of inky smoke,
while her sharp prow cut the water on each side of her bow into
sparkling foam. On the bridge were uniformed officers, pointing
binoculars and spy glasses aloft, for the operator had communicated the
news of what the _Sea Eagle_ was about to do.

Suddenly the watching throngs of ocean travelers saw the _Sea Eagle_
poise in air like a hawk about to pounce. Then down she came, cleaving
the air like a falling stone.

A great cry went up from the packed decks. It seemed as if the air craft
must perish, that nothing could check her fall, and that she was doomed
to plunge headlong into the sea. But in a flash the cry changed to a
mighty cheer.

Less than forty feet from the water the _Sea Eagle_ was seen to shoot
upward and straight toward the steamer. Like an arrow from a bow the
great aërial craft shot whizzing above the liner’s bridge, and under the
wireless aërials extending from mast to mast. Just as she roared by
above the officers’ heads, like some antedeluvian thunder-lizard,
something was seen to fall downward and land on the top of the
charthouse. It was the bundle of papers thrown by Harry. A sailor
scrambled up and got them, while the crowded decks yelled themselves
hoarse.

Then the _Sea Eagle_ soared up high above the mast tips, and Harry
seated himself at the wireless once more. Presently to his ears came a
message from the speeding liner far below.

“Captain Seabury wishes to congratulate you on the most wonderful feat
of the century.”



CHAPTER XVII.—AN AËRIAL AMBULANCE.


Harry was about to flash back an answer to the message of congratulation
when, suddenly, into the scene of triumph was injected a grim note of
threatened tragedy. One of the passengers, a young woman who had been
leaning far out over the rail of the boat deck waving a handkerchief of
filmy lace and linen, was seen, all at once, to topple from her perch.

The next instant, and while her shrill scream for help still rent the
air, a young man who had been standing beside her jumped out into space
without waiting to do more than strip off coat and shoes. The _Ultonia_
was speeding ahead at the fastest gait her twin screws were capable of.
She was a large vessel, probably some 15,000 tons of registration, and
her momentum was too great to stop her for a considerable distance.

From the _Sea Eagle_ horrified eyes saw the accident, and witnessed the
young woman’s head bob up for an instant amid the frothy wake of the big
craft. The liner’s whistle screamed out a shrill alarm, and men could be
seen scampering to lower a boat, while life buoys were thrown overboard.

But before anything more could be done the _Sea Eagle_ took a sudden
swoop, a swift dive downward, characteristic of the bird for which she
had been named.

The wonderful craft struck the water with a force that sent a cloud of
spray boiling up about her, temporarily hiding her substructure and her
occupants from view.

“She’s sunk!” went up a moaning cry from the decks of the liner. But,
no! An instant later it was seen that the _Sea Eagle_, an aëroplane no
longer but a winged boat, was speeding as fast as her twin propellers
could drive her toward the spot where the young woman had last been
seen.

Hardly a word, except Dr. Perkins’ caution to “hang on tight,” had been
exchanged between the aviators from their simultaneous observation of
the accident till the moment the _Sea Eagle_ struck the water. But now
orders came quick and fast.

“Attend to the engines!”

The order came from Frank, and Harry sprang into the place his brother
vacated.

Frank hastily buckled on one of the life jackets and then, as the _Sea
Eagle_ skimmed the water at a twenty-five knot gait, he scanned the
seething lane of foam behind the liner. Suddenly he saw what he was
looking for. A white, imploring face, crowned with a wealth of golden
hair.

“Save me!” screamed the girl who, although she had been swimming, was by
this time too exhausted with the effects of her immersion and the weight
of her water-soaked clothes, to keep up any longer. Without an instant’s
hesitation, Frank leaped into the water and began striking out with
powerful strokes for the sinking girl. He reached her side just as she
was going down for the third time.

[Illustration: WITHOUT AN INSTANT’S HESITATION, FRANK LEAPED INTO THE
WATER.]

In the meantime the young man who had sprung after her had also become
exhausted, and would certainly have sunk had not Dr. Perkins headed the
_Sea Eagle_ in his direction. Leaning far out as they came alongside the
struggling man, Harry grasped him by the collar, and then half dragged
him into the hydroplane portion of the air craft. This done, full speed
was made for Frank and the young woman.

None too soon did they reach Frank’s side. With the blind instinct of a
drowning person the young woman was clinging so tightly to Frank that,
strong swimmer though he was, he had much difficulty in keeping above
the water. Dr. Perkins ordered the motor stopped as they neared the two,
and allowed the _Sea Eagle_ to glide up to them. Then both he and Harry
bent all their strength to hauling on board, first the young woman and
then Frank.

By this time the liner’s speed had been checked, and her officers were
swinging her in a broad circle to the scene of the accident. A boat had
been lowered and was heading for the _Sea Eagle_, but Dr. Perkins,
snatching up the megaphone, hailed the oarsman and told them that
everything was all right.

This done, power was applied once more, and the _Sea Eagle_ headed for
the liner’s side. As if guessing his intention a gangway had been
lowered, and all was ready for their reception as they came alongside.
In the meantime the young man had introduced the golden-haired young
woman as his bride, and himself as Stanley Travers, of Portland, Me. To
say that both he and Mrs. Travers were grateful would be not to state
one half of their actual feelings.

In fact, their expressions of appreciation took so long that one of the
officers at the head of the gangway shouted:

“This is a mail boat and we must hurry, please.”

While this was going on congratulations on the plucky act had been
shouted down from the uniformed skipper on the bridge and from a score
of the passengers that banked the rails three and four deep.

At last Mr. and Mrs. Travers, wet to the skin, clambered up the liner’s
tall, black side, and the boat was hauled up on the davits. As the big
craft, dipping her ensign and blowing her siren, heaved ahead, a shout
of enthusiasm went up. But it was drowned by the roar of the _Sea
Eagle’s_ motor. Hardly had the propellers of the vessel begun to churn
the water once more before Dr. Perkins’ craft rose from the water like a
white-winged sea gull after a refreshing dip. As the gallant sea-and-air
ship rose, her three occupants waved their hands in farewell in
rejoinder to the babel of shouts beneath them.

“Well, at any rate, if the _Sea Eagle_ never does anything more,”
remarked Dr. Perkins, “she has accomplished a great deal.”

“I should think so,” exclaimed Frank, who had slipped into dry clothes
as soon as the _Sea_ _Eagle_ took the air once more; “it isn’t every
craft that finds her baptism in life-saving at sea.”

As long as they could see the _Ultonia_ the big liner continued to blow
her whistle, and doubtless the eyes of all her passengers remained fixed
attentively on the wonderful sky ship as she waxed smaller and smaller
against the blue. That afternoon the voyagers found themselves off Cape
Ann. High above the cape they flew, cutting off a good chunk of distance
in this way. The folks in West Gloucester stared in wonderment as the
huge air ship soared by high above the town, and when a short time later
the aviators passed above the white-winged fishing fleet, every tin pan
and fog horn in the flotilla of small craft sounded an enthusiastic “God
speed” to the air travelers.

Far behind the main body of the fisher craft lagged a small sloop, and
as the _Sea Eagle_ came closer to her the boys noticed that her flag was
flying from the peak “union down,” a sign of distress the world over.
The big hydro-aëroplane was flying low at the time, and it was easy to
see, without the aid of glasses, that several men were running about the
sloop’s decks and shouting something up at the air voyagers.

“Shall we go down and see what the trouble is?” asked Frank, as he and
Harry saw the signs of distress.

“Yes,” decided the doctor, “no craft, either of the air or of the sea,
can disregard such a signal of disaster. It will be odd if, for the
second time on the very first day of our cruise, we are able to render
aid to somebody who needs it badly.”

The boys thought so, too, and as they dropped seaward the minds of all
three occupants of the _Sea Eagle_ were busy with speculations
concerning what could be the cause of the sloop’s distress. Dr. Perkins
caused his craft to alight gently on the sea a short distance from the
sloop, and then headed her over the waves toward the distressed vessel.
As they drew closer they could see a grizzled-looking fellow, in rough
fisher’s garb, leaning over the side.

“Come quick!” he shouted, “there’s been bad work going on aboard!”



CHAPTER XVIII.—AN ERRAND OF MERCY.


“What’s up?” cried Frank.

“Yes, what’s the trouble?” came from Dr. Perkins.

“Trouble enough. We sprang a leak two days ago, out on the fishing
banks, and have been at the pumps ever since. Now we’ve got the leak
stopped, but my mate, Joe Higgins, was struck on the head by the boom
and is so mortal bad that if we don’t get a doctor for him pretty quick
I’m afraid he’ll die. Then, too, our provisions is run out.”

While the man was reciting this catalogue of mishaps the _Sea Eagle_ was
run alongside, and Dr. Perkins made her fast with a line the man flung
to him.

“First let’s have a look at the injured man,” he said and, without
further delay, Captain Zebedee Crooks, as he informed the travelers his
name was, led them aft to a tiny cabin, stuffy, dark and reeking of
fish. The boys followed Dr. Perkins into this wretched little den and
Captain Zebedee lighted a sea lantern.

Its rays showed them a heavily built man of middle age lying on a
locker. His head was bandaged, and although he breathed he showed no
other signs of life. Dr. Perkins, with the skill of a professional man,
made a hasty examination.

“This man is badly hurt,” he said at length. “I am afraid his skull is
fractured, but of that I cannot be certain. He should be ashore in a
hospital.”

“Aye! I know that,” rejoined Captain Zebedee, “but at the rate we are
going now we won’t get ashore till to-morrow night, and by that time
poor Joe may be dead.”

“I think it extremely likely,” replied Dr. Perkins, “but we must get him
ashore at once.”

“What, in that sky schooner of yours?” Dr. Perkins nodded.

“Yes, we must get him on deck without further loss of time. Then we’ll
rush him to a hospital.”

“The good Lord who sent you here bless you!” exclaimed the rugged old
fisherman, affected almost to tears. “I never thought when I seen you
away up thar in ther sky that you’d bother to notice the poor _Star of
Gloucester_; but you did. You come down from the clouds like so many
angels.”

“Funny-looking angels,” remarked Frank to Harry, in an undertone. But
Captain Zebedee’s gratitude was so heartfelt and earnest that neither of
the boys could find it in them to smile at his odd phrases.

Captain Zebedee summoned some of his crew from the deck and as tenderly
as possible the injured man was conveyed from the cabin. This done, he
was lowered into the _Sea Eagle_ and laid on a pile of blankets already
prepared for his reception.

“Better make for Bayhaven,” counseled Captain Zebedee; “there’s a good
hospital there, and it lies right on the coast about in a straight line
from here.”

Dr. Perkins nodded, and then, having seen that the injured man was in a
position to endure the ride comfortably, the flight to the shore was
begun; but not till a substantial amount of provisions and some fresh
water had been supplied to the fishing smack. As the _Sea Eagle_ took to
the air the _Star of Gloucester_ was set before the wind, and staggered
off on her slow course once more. The last the boys saw of the clumsy
fisherman, the stout figure of Captain Zebedee was leaning on the stern
bulwarks waving to them as they winged shoreward.

The coast was a rocky one, with gaunt cliffs and few habitations. But as
they reached it and flew low above a small house on the summit of the
cliffs, they spied a man at work in a small garden. Of him Frank
inquired the way to Bayhaven. The man was too much astonished to answer
at first, and stood looking stupidly up at the winged monster above him.

But finally he collected his wits and pointed to the south. The _Sea
Eagle_ was thereupon headed round, and, not long after, her passengers
came in sight of a tiny town huddled in a cove almost at the water’s
edge. Heading out seaward once more, Dr. Perkins dropped to the water in
the harbor, and then at reduced speed ran the _Sea Eagle_ up to the long
wharf which jutted out at the foot of the little city’s main street.

By the time they arrived alongside of the jetty half the population of
the town was on hand to greet them. Their approach through the air had
been seen when they were still some distance off, and as the _Sea Eagle_
was the first air ship ever seen in Bayhaven it may be imagined what a
sensation Dr. Perkins’ craft created.

But all eager questioners were waved aside while Dr. Perkins and his
young friends called for volunteers to help lift the injured man out of
the _Sea Eagle_. A dozen willing hands responded, and before long the
mate of the _Star of Gloucester_ was on his way to the hospital in a
wagon which had been hastily converted into an ambulance. It may be said
here that, thanks to the prompt manner in which aid had been secured for
him, the man recovered after a long illness, and was able to resume his
work on Captain Zebedee’s ship, where he never tires of telling of how
he was saved by an aërial ambulance.

Dr. Perkins accompanied his patient to the hospital, where he saw him
comfortably settled. In the meantime Frank and Harry had been left on
guard with the _Sea Eagle_, for the crowd had grown so large, and so
curious, that it would not have been wise to have left the ship to the
mercies of the inquisitive. The boys answered a perfect hailstorm of
questions as good-naturedly as possible, but once or twice they had to
use physical means to keep the younger element of the population of
Bayhaven off the decks.

By the time Dr. Perkins returned they were heartily tired of their job,
and hailed his proposal that they should go up to town and purchase a
fresh supply of provisions, with much delight. Leaving Dr. Perkins to
cope with the throng, the two boys, arm in arm, made their way through
the press and set off for the main street, which sloped up from the
wharf. One or two of the crowd followed them, gaping curiously at the
youthful aërial voyagers. But the boys were too used to the curiosity of
crowds to mind this, and before long their followers dropped back to
gape at the great flying machine.

They found the town a small, uninteresting place. There were several
shops, a hotel, with the usual group of loungers hanging about the
porch, and further back a canning factory, which gave employment, in one
way or another, to most of the inhabitants of Bayhaven. Beyond the hotel
was a big “general store.” Entering it, the boys made a variety of
purchases, and arranged that the goods should be shipped to the _Sea
Eagle_ as soon as possible.

They were just leaving the place when out of the dusk—for by this time
it was getting late—there came a figure that caused both boys to come to
a dead stop in petrified astonishment. As for the man who had caused
their sudden stoppage he, for his part, appeared to be nonplussed for a
second. But the next moment he turned and fairly ran out of the store.

“After him!” cried Frank; “it’s that rascal Duval!”

“That’s what!” cried Harry, no less excited.

Both boys, to the utter amazement of the storekeeper, who thought they
had gone suddenly crazy, dashed out of the door of the emporium, and
taking the steps outside in one jump they made off in the direction in
which Duval, for there was no doubt it was he, had vanished. But as ill
luck would have it, the cannery whistle had just blown for the cessation
of the day’s work, and round the corner there streamed a big crowd of
the employees.

It took the boys some time to work their way through the throng, for
some of the men were inclined to tease them by stepping in their way and
otherwise annoying them so that by the time they got through the crowd
all hope of catching, or even sighting, Duval was gone.

Greatly disappointed, and almost as much mystified by their sudden
encounter with the rascally Frenchman, the boys decided to turn back and
go down to the _Sea Eagle_. On their way they discussed Duval’s sudden
reappearance with interest.

“What can he be doing here?” wondered Harry.

“Blessed if I know,” was the rejoinder, “but I’ll bet he’s up to some
mischief or other. My! How he ran when he saw us.”

“He had good reason to,” declared Harry; “I guess we’d have had him
arrested if we’d ever caught him.”

“Not much doubt of that,” declared Frank; “we could have charged him
with the theft of that boat, anyhow, and that would have held him in the
custody of the authorities till we could have obtained further
evidence.”

“Well, I don’t imagine we’ll see him again,” decided Harry, as they
turned into the Main Street.

“No such luck,” declared Frank.

But, after all, the boys were to see Duval again, and sooner than they
expected, too.



CHAPTER XIX.—PLUMBO FOUND WANTING.


They were still talking in this vein when they reached the wharf. The
crowd had, by this time, thinned out somewhat, and they made their way
to the _Sea Eagle_ without difficulty. They found Dr. Perkins talking
with a most peculiar looking individual. He was long and lanky as a bean
pole, and his thatch of bright red hair was crowned by a hat that a
scarecrow might have disowned.

“Wonder who our new-found friend can be?” laughed Harry, as they
clambered down a rough ladder to _the Sea Eagle’s_ deck.

They soon found out. Dr. Perkins, it appeared, had decided to spend the
night at Bayhaven, and had engaged quarters at the hotel which the boys
had passed. The man with whom he was talking rejoiced in the name of
Plumbo Boggs, and was a village character. However, he was honest,
though not overmuch endowed with brains, and had been recommended to the
inventor as a reliable man to leave in charge of the _Sea Eagle_.

Immediately Dr. Perkins had introduced this strange character, Plumbo
broke out into rhymed speech which was a peculiarity of his. Some odd
twist in his brain made it impossible for him to express himself in
prose.

“I’m Plumbo Boggs of old Bayhaven; from harm your air ship I’ll be
savin’,” quoth he, striking an attitude.

“Do you always talk that way?” inquired Frank.

“Yes; I’m a poet, though you didn’t know it,” was the response.

“Well, I don’t know that that will keep you from being a good watchman,”
smiled Dr. Perkins.

“I’ll watch by day or I’ll watch by night; you’ll soon find that I’m all
right,” was the quick response, while Plumbo’s blue, rather watery eyes,
flashed feebly.

“That’s satisfactory. Mind, you are to let no one on board, under any
pretext whatever.”

“Pretext is a word that I don’t understand; but I’ll keep them off
though they come in a band,” rejoined Plumbo.

“How much will you do the job for?” asked Dr. Perkins.

“Two dollars will be my price to stay here; pay it and then no trouble
you’ll fear.”

“I’ll agree to that,” said Dr. Perkins, “we are going uptown now. I’ll
have your supper sent down to you and you are to remain here till you
are relieved by us early to-morrow.”

“I’ll stay right here, watchful and steady; you’ll find me here when to
go you’re ready,” declared Plumbo.

“And now that everything is well I guess we’ll start for the hotel,”
said Frank, and not until both Dr. Perkins and Harry burst into a roar
of laughter did he realize that he had caught the rhyming “infection”
from the poetical Plumbo.

“Be sure and don’t forget my supper; I like pork and beans and bread and
butter,” called Plumbo after them as they left the wharf, and he took up
his vigil.

“An eccentric sort of character, but I guess he’ll take good care of the
_Sea Eagle_ while we’re gone,” said Dr. Perkins.

It was on the tip of Frank’s tongue to tell about their encounter with
Duval; but the next instant he decided not to speak of it. Dr. Perkins
had several important matters on his mind, and after all, the boy
argued, Duval could not do them any harm now. After supper the editor of
the local paper called round at the hotel to elicit from the aërial
voyagers the story of their trip as far as it had gone. He was also
correspondent for the Associated Press, he informed them. Dr. Perkins
granted him a careful interview, in which he described part of their
adventures, but was cautious not to reveal any of the details of the
_Sea Eagle’s_ construction. Shortly after the newspaperman had taken his
departure the party retired, having left an early call for the morning,
for it had been determined to get under way as soon as possible the next
day.

Bayhaven retired early to its rest, and the streets were deserted when,
soon after midnight, three men walked down the main street, taking care
to keep in the shadows of the buildings as they proceeded. One of the
men was Duval, and the others were the Daniels, father and son. Their
presence in Bayhaven is soon explained.

As we know, the elder Daniels had offered to get money to finance the
trip to the Black Bayou, and it was from relatives in Bayhaven that he
calculated on getting it. The trio had arrived in the town the day
before, and Daniels had promptly obtained the money as a loan, he having
represented that the treasure was undoubtedly to be found in the
long-forgotten wreck.

They had been on the streets the day before when the approach of the
_Sea Eagle_ was announced, and Duval instantly guessed that the oncoming
air ship was the same that had rescued him and his employers from the
illfated _Wanderer_. Neither the Daniels nor Duval himself knew anything
of the destination of the _Sea Eagle_, nor did they guess for an instant
that Harry Chester carried with him an exact duplicate of Duval’s stolen
plan. But their evil natures prompted them to do all the harm they could
to the party, and it was with this end in view that they were making
their way down the badly lighted and deserted streets of Bayhaven at
such an hour. Duval’s dislike of the boys had been roused to fever heat
by their chase of him in the afternoon, and he was burning to do them
some injury. From one of the elder Daniels’ relatives the rascals had
learned that Dr. Perkins and his two young friends were registered at
the hotel, leaving the _Sea Eagle_ in charge of Plumbo. At once they had
decided to visit the air ship and see what harm they could do it.

Stealthily they advanced toward the wharf, revolving in their minds as
they went what they would do when they got there.

“We’ll have to get that half-witted chap out of the way,” declared
Duval, in a low tone, “or he may make an outcry and arouse the whole
place.”

“Leave that to me,” Daniels assured him; “we’ll fix him up all right.”

“You don’t mean to hurt him? I don’t want to get mixed up in anything
like that,” whimpered Duval, who was somewhat of a coward, as we know.

Daniels actually chuckled.

“Waal, you are a chicken-hearted fool,” he muttered, “but don’t you be
scared. There won’t be no necessity of hurtin’ this Plumbo. I can
recollect him from a time when I was here years ago. He’s soft-headed
and talks poetry. Them two things most allers goes together I’ve found.”

Nothing more was said till they reached the wharf. It was dark and
deserted, but in the starlight the dim outlines of the _Sea Eagle_ could
be seen as she lay at her moorings.

“I’ll bet a cruller that chap’s asleep,” whispered Zeb, as they crept
forward cautiously.

“Hope so. It’ll make our work a lot the easier,” chuckled his worthy
father.

But the next moment they had undeniable proof that the watchman was not
slumbering. From amidst the ghostly outlines of the _Sea Eagle_ came
Plumbo’s voice.

“Who’s there so late? Answer up, mate.”

“Is that you, Plumbo?” said the elder Daniels.

“Yes, this is me, as you can see.”

“How are we goin’ ter see you when it’s so confounded dark?” growled
Daniels.

“Well, what do you wish? To bathe or fish?” inquired Plumbo, ignoring
this remark. Then he continued:

“You’d better skip. You’ll not board this ship.”

“That’s just what we came here to do,” replied Daniels, in an unruffled
tone; “your mother is very ill and we come down to take charge of the
air ship while you go home as quick as possible.”

Now poor Plumbo’s love for his widowed mother was a matter of common
talk in the village, and the cunning of the elder Daniels had suggested
this scheme to him as they came along. It worked even better than he had
dared to expect. The rhyming watchman gave a gasp of pained
astonishment.

“I must go home; though I ought not to roam,” he said.

“Make your mind easy about that, lad,” Daniels assured him; “we’ll watch
this cloud clipper while you’re gone. Dr. Perkins told us to stay here
while you are gone.”

“I’ll go home in a hurry; be back in a scurry,” declared Plumbo, who was
completely taken in. His none too acute brain had been easily imposed
upon by Daniels’ rascally trick. He scrambled up on the wharf and at
once set off on a run for his home, crying as he went:

“Watch every crack till I can get back.”

“Oh, go to the dickens while we get our pickin’s,” growled out young Zeb
Daniels, at which specimen of wit his father laughed heartily, though in
a subdued way.

“Now, then, boys,” said Daniels, as Plumbo’s footsteps died away, “get
busy and spile this cruise for that bunch of fine gentlemen. We’ll show
’em what it means to try to take folks’ livings away.”



CHAPTER XX.—FRANK’S BATTLE.


It was about midnight that Frank, for no reason that he could explain,
awakened with a vague feeling of uneasiness. Try as he would he could
not compose himself to sleep again, but lay awake, struggling with a
sort of intuitive suspicion that all was not well with the _Sea Eagle_.

At last, so strong did his conviction become, that, although he was
ridiculing his fears all the time, he arose and dressed himself, and
then started out for the wharf. For a moment he thought he would rouse
Harry, who slept on another bed in the same room; but in the end he
decided not to disturb his brother’s repose. Perhaps he had a vague fear
of ridicule, but at any rate Frank crept out of the hotel alone and made
his way silently down the dark and empty streets.

“This is certainly a fool’s errand I’m going on,” he told himself; “I
suppose that my reward for my pains will be to hear some more of
Plumbo’s poetry, and yet—and yet, I can’t help it. I couldn’t sleep
another wink unless I was sure that the _Sea Eagle_ was all right.”

Musing thus, and minimizing his own fears, Frank came in due time to the
wharf. He made his way down it and was about to step forward to descend
the ladder that led to the _Sea Eagle’s_ deck, when he heard something
that made him pause. He recognized the sound instantly.

It was the rasp of a file!

“My gracious! Somebody _is_ tampering with the _Sea Eagle_!” exclaimed
the boy to himself. “My fears were not as groundless as I thought them,
after all. I wonder if that rascal Duval——”

The current of his thoughts was suddenly checked at this point by
another noise near at hand. It seemed to come from behind a big pile of
boxes on the wharf.

“Goodness! What’s that?” thought Frank, and then for the first time it
flashed across him that if more than one man was engaged in the
nefarious work that he was sure was going on, he was at a serious
disadvantage. He had no weapons but his hands, whereas the others were
undoubtedly well armed.

“I’ll slip back uptown as quickly as I can and arouse the authorities,”
he decided, “if they are quick we can catch the rascals red-handed. I
wonder what can have become of that fellow Jumbo or whatever his name
was? I suppose he went to sleep or something. Well, it serves us right
for leaving such an eccentric fellow on guard.”

Frank, who had been crouching in the shadow of the very boxes behind
which he had heard the suspicious sounds, rose quickly to his feet. He
was just slipping off, congratulating himself that he had been
unobserved when from behind the boxes a dark figure suddenly emerged.

“Hands up, Frank Chester,” it exclaimed; “we’ve got you where we want
you this time.”

“Zeb Daniels!” exclaimed Frank, dumbfounded with astonishment. He had
not supposed the rascally young fisherman within miles of the place.

“Yes; that’s me. Don’t move a step or you’ll get hurt.”

But Frank’s indignation overcame his prudence.

“What are you doing here?” he demanded angrily.

“None of your business.”

“It isn’t, eh? Well I know that you are damaging Dr. Perkins’ boat in
some way and——”

Frank stepped deftly aside as Zeb, who was a far heavier, stronger boy
than the young aviator, made a tigerish jump at him, at the same time
brandishing a thick club threateningly.

But Zeb’s sudden rush proved his undoing. Before he could recover his
balance Frank had planted a clean, hard punch on the young ruffian’s
jaw, and Zeb reeled back dizzily. He recovered himself almost instantly,
however, and without making a sound hurled himself at Frank once more.
In a rough and tumble fight the sturdily built fisher boy might have
been a match for Frank Chester, but Frank had already gained some
advantage and he met Zeb’s frenzied charge coolly.

Zeb, as he got within reach, let loose a tremendous swing which, if it
had struck Frank’s head as his burly young opponent intended, might have
laid him flat. But to his astonishment Zeb’s fist met only empty air.
Frank had ducked the blow with consummate ease, and the next instant:

One! Two!—Crack! Smack! Two well-planted blows landed on Zeb’s face and
body. Frank was rushing in to complete his victory when he was suddenly
seized from behind in a powerful grip and hurled to the ground with
great violence.

Zeb’s father, on board the _Sea Eagle_, had heard the disturbance, and
had swiftly and silently climbed the ladder leading up on to the wharf.
Behind him, but at a prudent distance, came Duval. The Frenchman had no
love for fighting, unless the odds were all in his favor, and he was by
no means certain how many men might have attacked them.

The elder Daniels took in the situation in a flash, and pinioned Frank’s
arms, just as the latter was about to put an end to the battle. Duval
saw instantly that there was no personal danger to himself, and while
the elder Daniels held a grimy, leathery paw over Frank’s mouth to
prevent his shouting for aid, Duval pinioned the lad’s lower limbs.
Helpless as a baby Frank lay there on his back, completely at the mercy
of three individuals whom he had no reason to suppose would handle him
gently.

While he still lay there a helpless captive, young Daniels came up, and
doubling up his fist deliberately struck the helpless boy in the face.
But the elder of the Daniels angrily checked him.

“Stow that,” he muttered roughly. “What’s the matter with you?”

“I wanted to get even with him,” whined Zeb; “he licked me and——”

“Waal, git even some other way. Bring me that rope off them pile of
boxes while I make him fast.”

Zeb said no more, but obediently fetched the rope, and before many
minutes had passed Frank was bound hand and foot. Moreover, a gag,
consisting of a dirty fragment torn from the elder Daniels’ shirt, was
thrust into his mouth.

“What’ll we do with him now?” demanded Zeb, when this had been done.

“Humph, I hadn’t thought of that,” rejoined the elder fisherman; “we
can’t leave him here, for we don’t want any one to find him when they
come down, as they are bound to do afore long when that idiot Plumbo
finds out that we’ve fooled him. What _will_ we do with the young game
cock?”

“I’d like to chuck him overboard,” quoth Zeb amiably, staunching his
bleeding nose with a dirty coat sleeve.

“Don’t waste time talking rubbish,” angrily rejoined his parent; “see
here, Duval, kain’t you think of something?”

“Yes, I can,” was the eager reply; “it’s just occurred to me. Ho! ho! I
guess that’ll keep him quiet for a while.”

“Well, what do you propose to do?” growled Daniels. “Don’t stand there
like an owl. Out with it.”

“Well, my friend, you see those big barrels over there?”

“Yes, what about them?”

“We’ll put him in one of those and give him a sea trip.”

“By Jeehosophat, but that’s a notion! I reckon by the time he’s picked
up, or drifts ashore, he’ll be sorry he interfered with us.”

“That’s a great scheme,” chuckled Zeb, equally delighted. “That’s what I
call getting even in good shape.”

“Hold on a minute; how’s the tide?” murmured Daniels. “We don’t want him
to be picked up too quick.”

“The tide’s running out, pop,” said Zeb, after a minute; “I tell you,
though, what’s the matter with putting the barrel in that dory there and
then loading him in it? We can row out a ways and then dump him
overside.”

“That’s the best idea yet,” warmly approved his worthy parent; “come on,
boys, tumble the barrel into that dory. Lively, now!”

The barrel, quite a big one, which had been used for salting down fish
and was quite watertight, was lowered into the dory that Zeb’s sharp
eyes had spied with some difficulty.

Frank had watched the movements of his captors as well as he could in
the darkness; but he was quite unable to guess what all this meant,
which, perhaps, was just as well. As the conversation had been carried
on in whispers, he had not overheard a syllable of the rascally plan to
set him adrift out of pure malice.

Still bound and gagged, he was lowered into the dory, unable to call out
or move, despite the now serious alarm he felt. What could the men be
going to do with him, he wondered, and was still busy speculating on his
probable fate when Zeb and his father cast off the dory and, with rapid
strokes, began to row toward the mouth of the harbor on which Bayhaven
is situated.



CHAPTER XXI.—A RASCALLY TRICK.


While all this had been occurring on the wharf Plumbo Boggs had
discovered the deception that had been practiced on him, and was
hastening as fast as he could to the hotel. Even he, whose mind could
not be called quick acting, realized that he was the victim of a trick,
the object of which was, in all probability, to injure the _Sea Eagle_.

Arousing the night clerk, Plumbo begged to be directed to Dr. Perkins’
room. The night clerk knew the eccentric character, and lost no time in
escorting him to the doctor’s quarters. Plumbo thundered on the door
with noise sufficient to arouse the other guests.

“What is it? What’s happened?” shouted Dr. Perkins, thinking for an
instant that the place must be on fire at least.

“Oh, doctor, come quick! They’ve played us a trick!” yelled Plumbo.

“Who? Where? What do you mean?” exclaimed Dr. Perkins, coming to the
door.

“Two men and a lad; they’ve fooled me bad.”

“Do you mean that they persuaded you to leave the _Sea Eagle_ alone and
unguarded?”

“They told me a story to get me from there; or I’d have given your air
ship the best of good care,” pleaded Plumbo, seriously alarmed at the
angry look that had come over the doctor’s face. “Don’t be angry with
me, I pray; if they hurt it I’ll ask you no pay.”

“As if that would help,” cried Dr. Perkins angrily; “wait there till I
get some clothes on.”

He retreated into the room and as he hastily donned some garments he
wondered who the men could be who had induced the soft-witted poet to
leave his position of trust.

“For the life of me I can’t imagine who they can be,” he was thinking,
while he hurriedly laced his shoes, when the door opened and in walked
Harry fully dressed.

“I heard the noise in the corridor, and heard Plumbo telling you that
something had happened to the _Sea Eagle_,” he said excitedly.

“I don’t know that anything has happened yet,” cried Dr. Perkins
anxiously; “I’m hoping not. But from what I can gather from Plumbo’s
foolish talk three men induced him, on some pretext, to leave the ship
unguarded. I must say it looks suspicious. But I cannot think who there
is in this place where we are unknown who would want to harm us.”

The thought of Duval flashed across Harry’s mind. He and Frank had
decided not to tell Dr. Perkins about their encounter lest it should
worry him; but surely the time to tell about it had come now.

“We ought to have told you,” he said, rather falteringly, “but we did
not want to cause you undue anxiety,—we saw Duval this afternoon.”

“What!”

Dr. Perkins almost shouted the question, or rather exclamation, in a
thunderstruck tone.

“Yes. We tried to catch him, but he escaped us. Frank can tell you all
about it. By the way, where is Frank?”

“Isn’t he in your room?”

“No; when I was awakened by the noise in the passage I saw that his bed
was empty. I supposed that he had got out of bed ahead of me and had
come in here.”

“I haven’t seen him since we retired.”

“Then where can he be?”

The inventor and the boy aviator stared at each other for an instant.

“Good gracious, this looks serious, indeed,” exclaimed Dr. Perkins; “not
in his room, and not in the hotel, apparently. Where can he have gone
to?”

“That’s what’s worrying me,” cried Harry, in a rather quavering tone;
“I’m sure, perfectly sure, that that rascal Duval knows something about
him wherever he is. Maybe he heard some word of a plot to injure the
_Sea Eagle_ and has gone down to see if he can frustrate it. Duval——”

“Yes; but Duval, if it is he, is not alone in this thing. Plumbo says
there were two men and a lad.”

“Two men and a lad,” cried Harry joyously, “then the lad must have been
Frank.”

“But who could the others have been? They all came together and sent our
watchman away.”

“It’s all a deep mystery, doctor. I think our best plan is to make all
the speed we can to the wharf. Perhaps we can find some solution there.”

“Yes; let us do so at once. I am all ready, are you?”

“Yes; I hurried to get dressed as soon as I heard the noise in the
corridor.”

Plumbo was waiting, and as they hastened down the street he explained in
his odd rhyming speech just what had happened. He could not describe the
men except to say that one had whiskers on his chin. In a part of the
country where this is a favorite facial adornment this information was
not much of a clew.

It took the alarmed party much less time to reach the wharf than they
would have thought was possible. In fact, almost the whole distance was
traversed at a run. But when they arrived at the wharf and a lantern,
which Dr. Perkins had had the foresight to bring along, had been
kindled, they found nothing to inform them as to what had taken place.
The doctor had not expected to find Plumbo’s three men there, but he had
had an idea that he would find something damaged about the _Sea Eagle_.
But as careful an examination as it was possible to make by lamplight
failed to reveal any trace of damage.

Naturally this, instead of helping to clear the mystery, only deepened
it. What object could the men have had who had sent Plumbo off on his
wild goose chase if it had not been to wreak injury to the _Sea Eagle_?

“Maybe they were some inventors who wanted to steal your ideas,”
suggested Harry, recalling some experiences of their own with
unscrupulous aviators.

But Dr. Perkins shook his head.

“Every important feature of the _Sea Eagle_ is fully covered by
patents,” he said; “there isn’t a single idea they could appropriate in
the short time they could have spent here anyhow.”

Harry had to admit that this was so, but to tell the truth his thoughts
were centered more on Frank and on the strange circumstances surrounding
his disappearance than they were on the _Sea Eagle_.

“I’m as certain as that daylight will come again that Frank fits into
this mix-up somewhere,” he said, voicing his thoughts, “but the question
is where?”

“Well, he’s not here now, that’s certain,” declared Dr. Perkins. “I
propose that we should return to the hotel now that we have discovered
that no damage has been done. He may meet us there.”

“Let’s search the wharf first,” said Harry, but, naturally, even their
painstaking search failed to reveal any trace of Frank’s fate till, all
at once, Harry, who was carrying the lantern, came upon his brother’s
cap lying where it had fallen in the scuffle among the boxes.

The bit of headgear had been kicked close to the string-piece of the
wharf, and a fearful fear that made Harry’s head swim shot into his
mind. Could Frank have come down to the wharf, suspecting mischief was
on foot, and have either fallen or been thrown into the water?

“Look—look here, sir,” he exclaimed in a shaking voice, as Dr. Perkins
asked him what was the matter.

“What is it?” asked the doctor, coming forward. “A clew?”

“Yes; it’s—it’s Frank’s cap, doctor. Pray heaven no harm has befallen
him.”

“If it has, swift vengeance is going to overtake somebody,” declared Dr.
Perkins, clenching his hands; “where did you find the cap?”

“Close to the string-piece. You—you don’t think he could have fallen
over?”

“Nonsense,” declared Dr. Perkins with a confidence he was far from
feeling; “we’ll get him back again safe and sound, never fear.”

But Harry’s heart sank as he fingered his brother’s cap.

“I’m trying to think so, too, sir,” he said miserably; “but—but——”

He paused abruptly, for he could not have gone further without breaking
down. Harry had gone through some anxious moments in his life, but never
had his heart sunk so low as it did that night on the Bayhaven wharf.

In the meantime, let us see how it was faring with the boy whose
disappearance had caused such cruel fears—fears which even the vengeful
tempers of Daniels and his son would have been satisfied with. We left
Frank gagged and bound on the bottom of the dory, while Zeb and his
father were pulling with strong, swift strokes for the open water.

The dory shot swiftly and silently seaward, with Frank completely in the
dark as to what was to be his fate. It occurred to him, though, that
perhaps they meant to maroon him on some island. This thought did not
give him so much anxiety as might have been expected, for he knew that
the waters about Bayhaven were fairly populous with boats, and did not
suppose that his captors meant to keep him a prisoner any longer time
than would be necessary for them to take their departure from that part
of the coast before the authorities could be notified.

Imagine, then, his thrill of surprise when the boat suddenly stopped and
the barrel, into which some big stones had been thrown to keep it
upright in the water, was lowered from the dory. This done, Frank was
lifted by main force and placed in it.

A brutal laugh broke from Zeb and his father as they shoved the barrel
containing its helpless captive away from the side of the dory. Duval
said nothing, but his white teeth showed in a grin in the starlight.
Frank, gagged as he was, could not utter a word or move a limb. He could
only realize, with dumb agony, the terrible nature of his fate.

Still laughing, the brutal rascals who had conceived the idea of setting
him adrift, rowed off at a quick rate, leaving the barrel and its
helpless occupant bobbing up and down on the swells of the starlit sea.



CHAPTER XXII.—REUNITED!


Frank’s heart sank as he cast a look about him and perceived the
helplessness of his position.

“If I could only get this gag off and shout for help,” he thought,
“maybe somebody would hear me.”

But there seemed to be no means of compassing this end, try as he would
to think of some way. All at once, as the stars were beginning to fade
and a faint flush of gray appeared in the east, he perceived a nail
sticking up on the rim of the barrel. This gave him an idea. By bending
slightly he would be able to bring the edge of the gag against the sharp
pointed bit of metal, and possibly tear it out. At any rate, it was
worth trying, and Frank at once proceeded to put his plan into action.

It was a hard job to bend low enough to bring his mouth on a level with
the nail, but fortunately the barrel was a large one, and consequently
he had not so very far to stoop. By making a desperate effort he
succeeded at last in dragging the gag across the nail. In doing this he
scratched his chin, but he did not mind that, for the nail caught and
held the rag, tearing it out of his mouth as he moved his head.

“Hurray!” breathed Frank, inhaling a great lungful of fresh air. “Now I
can at least make a racket, and maybe that will bring some one.”

With all his might he began shouting for help. In the still morning air
his voice carried clearly across the water, and to the lad’s huge
delight it was not long before he perceived, coming toward him a small
fishing boat, which, from the “chugging” sound it made, was evidently
furnished with a gasolene engine.

But the question that now agitated the boy was, “Would they see him or
hear his voice above the loud noise of the motor?” If they did not,
Frank realized that his plight would pass from a serious to a desperate
state, for the barrel was, by this time, caught in a current which was
rapidly increasing the distance between himself and the shore.

To his intense relief, however, he saw the fishing boat suddenly change
her course, and before long she was close enough for him to read the
name “_Two Sisters_” on her broad, bluff bow.

“Waal, by the tarnal!” came a gruff voice, “who and what are yer out
here in a ba’rl?”

The speaker, a burly-looking fellow, with a rough but kindly
countenance, regarded Frank’s face, which was all that was visible of
him, with the most intense astonishment, as well he might. In a long
experience off shore, covering all sorts of adventures, Captain Elihu
Carney of the _Two Sisters_ had never before beheld a floating barrel
with a human head projecting from it.

“It’s a kid—a boy!” shouted one of his mates from the stern of the _Two
Sisters_, where he held the tiller.

“Crack-e-e! so it air. Hey, kid, what yer doin’ out here? Takin’ a
cruise, or is this one of them new-fangled health cures?”

“It’s neither, I assure you,” cried Frank; “get me out of this and I’ll
tell you all about it.”

“I’ll run alongside and you can climb out.”

“No, I can’t,” returned Frank; “I’m bound hand and foot.”

“What! Say, you be’ant one of them movin’ picter fellers makin’ a fillum
be yer?”

Captain Carney’s rugged face held a look full of suspicion. Once not
long before his boat had been boarded by a beauteous maiden, apparently
fleeing from a band of desperadoes. The gallant captain had fished her
out of the dory in which she was rowing from her pursuers and had
threatened the apparent rascals with all sorts of dire things. Then to
his chagrin a voice had hailed him:

“Hey, you old mossback! You’ve spoiled a grind!”

A “grind” being moving picture language for a film.

“I certainly am not,” returned Frank indignantly; “no moving pictures
about this, I can tell you. This is the real thing.”

“Waal, as I don’t see no camera about I reckon it’s all right. Put her
head round, Eph, and we’ll pick him up, but ‘once bitten twice shy,’ you
know.”

Eph, the helmsman, brought the bow of the _Two Sisters_ round and slowed
up the engine. A minute later the fishing boat’s side was scraping the
barrel, and Captain Carney’s muscular arms lifted Frank out of his
floating prison as if he had been an infant.

“Waal, I’ll be double decked consarned!” he roared, as he saw the ropes
that confined the boy’s limbs. “Who done this?”

“Some rascals who had good cause to wish me harm,” said Frank. “I
suppose they thought they could get rid of me while they made their
escape.”

“What’s the world comin’ to?” cried the rugged skipper, throwing up his
hands.

He reached into his belt for a tarry sailor’s knife and cut Frank loose
in a few strokes of the keen blade. But the boy was so stiff from loss
of circulation that it was some time before he recovered the use of his
limbs. The _Two Sisters_, it turned out, was headed for Bayhaven, to
which port she belonged, but so far had Frank drifted in his—or rather
somebody else’s barrel—that he was able to tell his whole story before
the wharf was reached.

As they neared it the skipper ordered Eph to blow the compressed air
whistle so as to apprise every one ashore that something unusual was
happening. Among the crowd that hastened to the wharf in response to the
frenzied tooting Frank recognized Dr. Perkins and Harry. As they drew
close he saw how white and strained their faces were, and realized what
anxiety they must have been through on his account. He shouted loudly,
and at the sound of his voice both Harry and the staid inventor set up a
series of cheers that drowned the tooting of the whistle. As for Plumbo
Boggs, who was also on the wharf, he burst into rhyme at once.

“Home again! home again from the stormy sea; now that your chum is found
all right, don’t blame me!”

So saying he capered about, snapping his fingers and performing a dozen
odd antics while the _Two Sisters_ was making fast. Without waiting for
Frank, who was still stiff and sore, to come up on the wharf, Harry and
Dr. Perkins jumped to the deck of the _Two Sisters_, and the former
fairly threw his arms about his brother’s neck.

“If you only knew how glad I am you have come back,” he exclaimed.

“What ever happened to you?” demanded Dr. Perkins.

“It’s a long story,” said Frank, “and I’m famished. Suppose we ask
Captain Carney and Eph to breakfast with us and while we are eating I’ll
tell you all about it.”



CHAPTER XXIII.—OFF ONCE MORE.


AS our readers are fully acquainted with Frank’s adventure it would only
tedious to relate all that took place at the breakfast. It may be said,
however, that both Captain Carney and his mate received a substantial
recognition of their services, from Dr. Perkins, in the form of a check.
At first the bluff fishermen were by no means willing to take pay for
what they had done, but were finally prevailed upon to accept the
present, which, as Captain Carney owned, “would come in mighty handy.”

After the conclusion of the meal all hands adjourned to the wharf, and a
thorough examination was made once more of the _Sea Eagle_, with the
object of detecting any damage which the Daniels and Duval might have
done her, and which might have been overlooked in the lamplight
investigation made by Dr. Perkins and Harry. A bright spot was found on
one of the metal braces. Undeniably it had been done by the teeth of a
file, but it was only a superficial damage, which did not affect the
strength of the _Sea Eagle_ in any way.

“I guess Frank scared them away before they had time to do any more
harm,” was Dr. Perkins’ conclusion; but later on he was to have a
different opinion.

As things were at present, however, Dr. Perkins felt no hesitation in
declaring the _Sea Eagle_ fit to resume her voyage without further
delay. The fresh provisions being on board, and there being nothing to
prevent an immediate start, the voyagers at once made ready for a
continuance of the trip which, so far, had proved so packed with
adventure.

The gasolene tank was refilled, and the emergency receptacles for the
liquid fuel seen to. Plumbo Boggs was paid and instructions left to
telegraph Dr. Perkins in New Orleans in case any trace was found of the
miscreants, who undoubtedly had intended to injure the _Sea Eagle_, and
who had played such a dastardly trick on Frank.

“You’ll fly from the sea far up to the sky; good-by! good-by! good-by!
good-by!” cried Plumbo Boggs as the ropes that held the _Sea Eagle_ to
the wharf were cast off and, amidst a loud cheer from the crowd, the
engine was started.

It was a fine summer morning with a glassy sea and a sky that was
cloudless, except in the east, where a great mass of castellated white
clouds were piled up.

“You’d best hug the shore,” were Captain Carney’s parting words of
advice. “To my mind we’ll have a storm of some sort before the day’s
out.”

But in the noise and excitement of the departure his words were unheard
and the _Sea Eagle_ started off down the coast with the warning
unheeded. Dr. Perkins ran the craft over the water till the mouth of the
harbor was reached, easily outdistancing some fast launches that tried
to keep up with them. When they got “outside,” the _Sea Eagle_ was
driven ahead at top speed, and with her rising planes set at a sharp
angle she was driven upward till a height of some five hundred and fifty
feet had been obtained. Her course was due south.

They were flying over a small island not far from the shore when Frank,
who was looking over the side, noticed a dory ashore on the beach. He
had hardly noticed this before three figures came running down to the
beach and pointed upward. One of them jerked a rifle up to his shoulder,
and a minute later a puff of smoke came from the barrel. Simultaneously
a bullet sang through the rigging of the _Sea Eagle_, boring a small
hole in one of the upper planes, but, fortunately, not striking any
vital part of the craft or doing injury to her passengers.

“That’s those rascals now!” exclaimed Frank indignantly. “They must have
rowed down to that island and are waiting there for a chance to get
ashore quietly. Shall we go down and attack them?”

Dr. Perkins shook his head.

“Nothing much would be gained by it,” he said, “and it would only delay
our trip.”

The _Sea Eagle_ was flying fast, and the rascals on the island, who, as
Frank had rightly guessed, were the two Daniels and Duval, had no chance
to try a second shot. At noon, after a steady flight all the morning,
the voyagers found themselves off Martha’s Vineyard. A hasty lunch was
eaten in midair, with the _Sea Eagle_ still winging her way like a
grayhound of the sky.

The shore swam by below them like a panorama, but they only viewed it
indistinctly, as the course was kept about five miles off shore. In the
afternoon they saw, off to the right, a stretch of mammoth hotels and
amusement resorts.

“Atlantic City!” cried Frank. “I’ll bet there are hundreds of glasses
leveled at us from the boardwalk right now.”

“I guess so,” rejoined Harry. “We must look funny way out here at sea.”

It was half an hour later that Frank’s attention was attracted to the
sky by the sudden blotting out of the sun, which had been shining
brightly. He gave a cry of alarm as he looked upward. A vast bank of
black clouds had come rolling up, like a sable curtain, blotting out the
blue sky. The sea below was leaden and angry in hue, and its surface was
flecked with white caps.

“We’re in for some bad weather, I’m afraid,” declared Dr. Perkins, when
Frank called his attention to it.

Hardly had he spoken before, from the cloud bank, a red, jagged flash of
lightning blazed. It was followed almost instantly by a sharp clap of
thunder, and some heavy rain drops began to patter on the broad upper
planes of the _Sea Eagle_.

“I’ll make for shore,” declared Dr. Perkins; “we must be about off Cape
May now. We can lie there in shelter till this blows itself out.”

“That will be the best idea,” said Frank. “This is going to be a hummer.
Wow! Look at that!”

A flash of lightning, that seemed as if the whole curtain of clouds had
been split from top to bottom, had caused his exclamation. So brilliant
was the glare that it caused them all to blink involuntarily.

“Put on full speed, Frank!” shouted Dr. Perkins above the deafening peal
of thunder that followed.

Frank needed no second bidding. He opened both gasolene and spark levers
to their full capacity. Dr. Perkins had already headed the _Sea Eagle_
for the distant low-lying shore. This caused the craft to plunge almost
as much as if she were “bucking” into a heavy sea. For the wind was off
shore, and the thunder storm, as such storms frequently do, was coming
up against it.

Suddenly, in the midst of the fight with the wind, Frank noticed an
ominous sound from the motor. It gave a sort of spluttering, coughing
exhaust and slowed down perceptibly.

“What’s wrong now?” he exclaimed anxiously. “Gracious, if the motor
should go out of business now!”

He did not say this aloud, but bent over the laboring machine to try and
ascertain what was the matter with it.

“More speed!” cried Dr. Perkins from the forward part of the air ship;
“we can’t fight this wind at this pace.”

“There’s something the matter with the motor,” shouted Frank above the
now almost continuous rolling of the thunder. “I can’t make out what——”

A sudden loud report, like a pistol shot, came from the engine—a
back-fire, as it is called—and the next instant the motor stopped dead.

The _Sea Eagle_ was at that moment some 750 feet above the angry sea,
with the storm raging about her furiously. Before Dr. Perkins could
realize what had happened, the big craft began to drop downward with
sickening velocity, while her occupants clung on to whatever was handy,
with the desperate clutch of drowning men.

Frank had just time to shout:

“The life preservers! Quick, quick! for heaven’s sake!”

But there was no time to obey the order before the _Sea Eagle_ struck
the waves, hurling spray and wind-driven foam in a great cloud all about
her wings and substructure.



CHAPTER XXIV.—A STRUGGLE FOR LIFE.


The next moments were filled with anxiety. The sea was running high,
and, although Dr. Perkins had brought his craft upon a level keel by
skillful volplaning, before it struck the waves, the situation was
extremely serious.

The hydroplane portion of the _Sea Eagle_ was built lightly, and,
although it was well strengthened with braces, the test was a severe
one. Over the bow the crests of the waves broke constantly, showering
the occupants with spray. The _Sea Eagle_ was tossed about helplessly, a
plaything of the waves, while her adventurers strove to collect their
thoughts and decide what was to be done.

First they adopted Frank’s suggestion and donned the life jackets, so
that if the worst came to the worst they would have a fighting chance
for their lives. When this had been done, Frank, who had had some
experience in motor boats, supervised the rigging of a “spray-hood”
across the bow. This kept some of the spray out, and, although it was
formed of sheets of spare canvas intended to be used as waterproof night
coverings, it answered its purpose well enough.

“Do you think that there is a chance of our keeping afloat?” asked Harry
when this had been done.

“Well, we appear to be making out all right so far,” rejoined Dr.
Perkins; “the wing floats are working well, and if only we can get the
engine going again we may be able to fly ashore yet.”

The wing floats referred to were nothing more nor less than the light
cylindrical pontoons affixed to each lower wing tip. They acted
precisely as “outriggers” would do in steadying the _Sea Eagle_. In
fact, had it not been for this lateral support, the craft must have
turned turtle under the terrific tossing she was receiving.

“I’m going right to work on the engine,” announced Frank.

With Harry to help him, the lad proceeded to carry out this purpose. But
it was the hardest bit of “trouble finding” he had ever done. The motion
of the _Sea Eagle_, as she was tossed on a wave crest and then hurled
into the abyss beyond, made it hard to hold on, let alone investigating
the complicated mechanism of a motor. But as time wore on and they still
kept afloat, they began to have hopes that they would at least stay on
the surface till the engine could be started once more.

One after another Frank made the different tests employed to ascertain
the various troubles that may assail a gasolene motor. He tested the
ignition, the spark, the gasolene supply and the bearings. Everything
appeared to be all right, and he paused in a puzzled way before he went
to work on the carburetor. That is a delicate piece of mechanism, even
to an ingenious boy like Frank Chester; but he finally concluded that
the trouble must lie there. His first task was to open the relief cock
and drain the brass bowl of the mixing chamber.

He turned the valve, and the mystery of the stoppage of the engine was
instantly explained.

Sand had been placed in the carburetor by persons whom Frank had little
difficulty in mentally identifying.

“So that was what those rascals did!” he cried aloud. “No wonder we
couldn’t find anything the trouble with the ship. They were too foxy for
that, and could hardly have found a better way of injuring the _Sea
Eagle_ than to do that.”

“Is there any way of fixing the damage?” asked Dr. Perkins, who, with
Harry, had hastened to Frank’s side as he cried out over his discovery.

“Yes. Thank goodness, we’ve got a spare carburetor on board, for it
would take a week to clean out this. If no sand has got into the
cylinders I think I can promise to get things going again before very
long.”

Out of the locker in which the spare parts were kept Frank produced
another carburetor. But unscrewing the feed pipe and taking off the old
mixing chamber and adjusting the new one were tedious tasks, especially
under the circumstances in which Frank was compelled to work. But at
last it was done, and with a beating heart Frank adjusted the
self-starter. A few seconds now would decide their fate.

Harry shivered in anticipation of failure as his brother, having got the
engine going by the just mentioned appliance, turned on the gasolene and
spark.

For a breathless instant their fate hung in the balance, and then there
came the welcome sound of the exhaust. Bit by bit Frank allowed the
speed to increase, till the engine was running at its full capacity of
revolutions. But the propellers were not turning, as before testing the
motor he had thrown the clutch out of gear.

“I think that we can try to rise now,” he said calmly, after the motor
had run without a miss or a skip for ten minutes or so.

“I think so, too,” said Dr. Perkins, “and I want to tell you, Frank,
that you have done what I would not have believed possible under the
conditions.”

Another anxious moment followed when the clutch was thrown in and the
full load of the propellers came upon the engine. But not a hitch
occurred. The large-bladed driving fans of the _Sea Eagle_ beat the air
rapidly and surely, and the hydroplane-formed underbody began to glide
over the tops of the waves, instead of rolling and pitching helplessly
among them. To the westward, too, there showed a patch of lighter sky,
heralding the passing of the storm.

But, as if unwilling to allow them to escape without again bringing
their hearts into their mouths, the storm had one more buffeting to give
them. As full power was applied, and the _Sea Eagle_ rose above the
tossing wave crests and headed slantingly skyward, there came a sudden
puff of wind.

Skillful as Dr. Perkins was, it caught him momentarily unprepared. In
the wink of an eye the _Sea Eagle_ careened over, almost on her “beam
ends.” It seemed as if the right hand wing tips actually touched the
water. One inch more and there might have been an abrupt conclusion to
this story, but Dr. Perkins’ hands seemed to be everywhere at once. They
flashed among levers and wheels.

For the space of a breath the _Sea Eagle_ hung almost vertically, and
then the big craft suddenly righted and shot upward on an even keel once
more. But the moment had been an awful one, and as they winged their way
upward not one aboard was there but felt that they had been delivered
from a dreadful fate by what might well be described as a miracle.

[Illustration: ONE INCH MORE AND THERE MIGHT HAVE BEEN AN ABRUPT
CONCLUSION TO THIS STORY.]



CHAPTER XXV.—A RACE TO CLOUDLAND.


Scudding before the wind, for the half gale that was blowing had shifted
during their battle with the waves, the aërial voyagers made fast time
beneath the storm wrack racing by overhead. In fact, it appeared to the
boys that they actually outflew the wind. At any rate, it was not long
before the thunder of the great breakers on a low, sandy beach told them
that they were close to the shore.

An instant later houses and streets came into view, and Dr. Perkins
began looking anxiously about beneath for a place to land. He soon spied
a spot,—a large ball-ground, or at least it appeared to be one, not far
from the center of the city. Calling to Frank to “stand by” the engines,
he began to descend in a series of circles.

Coming to earth in a high wind is a risky bit of business for the air
man, about as dangerous a maneuver, in fact, as can be imagined. But in
this case there was no choice for Dr. Perkins and his young friends,
unless they wanted to be carried clear across the cape and into Delaware
Bay.

Below them they could now see excited crowds racing toward the
ball-ground, as soon as it became evident that that was the spot where
the air men intended to alight. This did not please Dr. Perkins at all.
A crowd was the last thing that he wished to have about when he made his
drop earthward. But there was no help for it, and he kept on descending,
trusting to the good sense of the throngs below to get out of the way
when the time came.

But crowds have never been remarkable for their common sense, and this
one was no exception. The last “bank” had been made with safety, and the
_Sea Eagle_ was making a clean-cut swoop to earth, when the crowd rushed
in right below her. To have kept the craft on its course would have
meant much injury, and possible loss of life. On the other hand, Dr.
Perkins knew that in the wind that was blowing it would be dangerous in
the extreme to the air craft to change her course.

“Get out of the way!” he shouted.

“Out of the way unless you want to get hurt!” yelled Frank and Harry.

But the crowd, like foolish sheep, only stared and gaped, and made not
the slightest effort to avoid the on-driving _Sea Eagle_.

There was only one thing to do, and Dr. Perkins did it. There was a
quick twist of his steering wheel, and the _Sea Eagle_, instantly
obeying her helm, darted off in an opposite direction to the one in
which she had been advancing. Like a flash Dr. Perkins pulled the rising
lever, at the same time shouting to Frank to stop the engines
momentarily. He thought that the _Sea Eagle_ would rise of her own
volition, and knew that if the engines kept driving at top speed that
his craft would be plunged prow first into the earth.

So he chose the lesser of the two evils, and the maneuver might have
been successful but for one thing. There was not room in which to
execute it.

The _Sea Eagle_ hesitated, half rose, and then crashed down to the
ground, landing heavily on one wing tip and smashing it to bits. Frank
and Harry were pitched clean out of the hydroplane substructure when the
impact came, and a cry of alarm went up from the crowd. But Dr. Perkins
clung to his seat and brought the big craft to a stop.

Fortunately neither Frank nor Harry had been much injured, beyond being
badly shaken up and bruised, and they were both on their feet again in a
jiffy after the accident. The crowd, as if realizing that its actions
had had a good deal to do with the accident, forebore to press in, and
they made their way to Dr. Perkins’ side without difficulty.

“Is she much injured?” was Frank’s first question.

“By good luck I think we have escaped serious damage,” rejoined Dr.
Perkins, “but only an examination can tell.”

At this moment a well-dressed, prosperous-looking man came elbowing
through the crowd. He came straight up to Dr. Perkins with hand
extended.

“Well, Perkins!” he exclaimed. “I always told you you’d have a tumble
some time, and now you’ve had it; right in my back yard, too. But I’m
sincerely glad to see that neither you nor your machine appears to be
much injured.”

The newcomer was Mr. James Studley, an old acquaintance of the
inventor’s, who was summering at Cape May. The doctor was very glad to
see him and accepted his cordial invitation to spend the night at his
house, the boys, of course, being included in the invitation.

In the meantime, a squadron of police had arrived, who drove back the
crowds, and arrangements were made to keep a guard on duty all night
till an examination of the wrecked machine could be made.

“The accident, if it had to happen, could not have occurred more
conveniently, so to speak,” Dr. Perkins confided to his companions as
they followed Mr. Studley to a handsome house not far away. “Mr. Studley
is a manufacturer of aëroplanes, and has started a factory here, so that
very probably we can get material to repair our damages without much
trouble.”

This was good news indeed to the boys, who had begun to fear that the
trip might be abandoned.

They enjoyed a good dinner and a change into dry clothes as the guests
of Mr. Studley and his wife, and bright and early the next morning
repairs were made to the splintered wing tip, which was not so badly
damaged as had at first appeared. Mr. Studley, who had provided workmen
and materials for the task from his aëroplane factory, refused to hear
of any compensation.

“Such services should be rendered freely and gladly by one birdman to
another,” he declared laughingly. “Who knows that some day I may not
drop in on you at your island, in more senses than one.”

As every trace of the storm had vanished, and the morning was bright and
clear, no obstacle opposed itself to the continuance of their journey as
soon as the repairs had been completed. So fine was the weather, in
fact, that Mr. Studley declared his intention of accompanying them in a
light “runabout” aëroplane of the monoplane class, for a short distance.

The machine, a pretty little affair of the Bleriot type, was soon
wheeled out, and Mr. Studley declared all was ready for the start. As on
the evening before, a large crowd had gathered, but the police kept them
back, and gave the two vastly different aëroplanes a clear field in
which to rise. A greater contrast could not well be imagined than that
presented by the heavy, rather cumbersome-looking _Sea Eagle_ with her
substantial underbody and huge wing spread, and the trim, dainty little
monoplane, which was named the _Green Firefly_.

“We’re all ready when you are,” exclaimed Dr. Perkins, turning to his
friend, who was already seated in his long-bodied, gauzy-winged air
craft.

“All right! Clear the way!” cried Mr. Studley with a wave of his hands.

His mechanics gave the propeller of the monoplane a twirl, as it was not
provided with self-starting mechanism, and a moment later the roaring
fusillade of the _Sea Eagle’s_ motor was drowning the sharp, angry,
hornet-like buzzing of the _Green Firefly_.

“Go!” yelled Mr. Studley, and simultaneously, as it seemed, the two sky
ships dashed forward over the smooth sward.

“Hooray!” shouted the crowd.

“They’re off!” shouted others.

And then, a minute later:

“Look! They’re going up!”

“So they are!” cried the spectators, as if there was any room for doubt
about the matter.

The light _Firefly_ was first, by the fraction of a second, to point her
sharp nose up toward the tranquil blue dome of the sky. But the _Sea
Eagle_ was not tardy in following.

“Come on!” shouted Mr. Studley, casting a swift glance back over his
shoulder at his large comrade of the air. He appeared to think that he
would have little difficulty in distancing the huge machine.

“We haven’t begun yet!” cried Dr. Perkins back to him, with an answering
wave of the hand.

Nor was the _Sea Eagle_ as yet making a quarter of the speed she was
capable of. On account of her great weight, and general size of her wing
spread, it was not advisable to “open everything up” at once when she
made an ascent from the land.

The _Firefly_ darted ahead like some creature that rejoiced to be
sporting in its element. But close behind came a roar and whirr as Frank
let out another notch on the _Sea Eagle_. Up and up they flew, while the
crowd below dwindled to pigmies, and the houses looked like so many toy
Noah’s Arks. It was plain enough that Mr. Studley was engaged in a
good-natured effort to show his friend that the _Firefly_ was an
infinitely faster craft than her cumbersome rival. He darted this way
and that, making spirals and doing rocking-chair evolutions with the
perfection of aërial grace.

Dr. Perkins attempted none of these stunts, but from time to time he
turned back to Frank and nodded as a signal to give the craft a little
more power.

By the time the twin propellers were developing their top push and
speed, the owner of the _Firefly_ realized that he had a tussle on his
hands. He ceased his graceful evolutions and settled down to real
flying. But he had not gone a mile over the aërial race track before the
_Sea Eagle_ thundered past him like a “Limited” of the skies.

“Good-by and thank you!” Dr. Perkins found time to yell, as they flashed
past, bound due south once more.

“Good-by. Good luck to you!” came from Mr. Studley, as he waved his hand
in the realization that he was beaten.

There was no time to exchange more words. In a few minutes the boys,
looking back, could only see a black speck like a shoe button against
the sky to mark where the defeated _Firefly_ was turning about and
heading for home.

As for the _Sea Eagle_, at sixty miles an hour, and with her motor going
faster every minute, that staunch and speedy craft was winging her way
at top speed for her distant goal.



CHAPTER XXVI.—THE BOY AVIATORS’ PLUCK.


But it was almost a week later that the 1,400 odd miles down the coast
to Fernandina, Florida, and from thence overland to the Crescent City,
were completed. Storms and minor accidents spun out the voyage to this
length, although Dr. Perkins had calculated on making a faster run. In
fact, his aim had been to make about 500 miles a day, with night flights
to help out, if possible.

Many interesting incidents, which it would require another volume to
chronicle in detail, marked the trip. Off Savannah the _Sea Eagle_ towed
a disabled motor boat, containing a pleasure party, into port, and a
short time later flew above the Atlantic squadron of the United States
fleet bound south for target practice. Aërial greetings were exchanged
by wireless between the _Sea Eagle_ and Uncle Sam’s bulldogs of the
ocean.

The next day the _Sea Eagle_ was once more enabled to render aërial
ambulance service by taking an injured keeper from a lighthouse off
Fernandina into port, and arranging for a substitute to be sent out at
once. At every city they stopped they received a great reception, for by
this time the flight of the _Sea Eagle_ had received the attention of
the country through the medium of the newspapers.

Possibly one incident may be worth chronicling in more detail. This
occurred when, a short time after rising for a night flight from Eufala,
Alabama, to the Mississippi State line, Frank descried, through some
trees, what he thought was the rising moon.

“That’s the funniest-looking moon I ever saw,” declared Harry, who
happened to be doing duty as engineer.

“Why, what’s the matter with it?” demanded Frank.

“Why, it’s red.”

“Probably caused by the mist from some marshlands,” decided Dr. Perkins,
who was resting, while Frank guided the _Sea Eagle_, at which he had
become quite expert. But the next moment he changed his opinion.

“It isn’t the moon at all. It’s the glare from a fire, and a big one,
too. Let’s hurry up, boys.”

Neither Frank nor Harry needed any urging, and the _Sea Eagle_ was soon
traversing the air so fast that the wind sang in their ears. As they
raced along the glare grew brighter and angrier, glowing with a lambent
red core from which flames could be seen leaping skyward like a nest of
fiery serpents.

A few minutes brought them into full view of the conflagration. It
proved to be a fine old farm-house. The front of the place was a mass of
flame, and the blaze appeared to be bursting through the roof. Men could
be seen running about the grounds like a nest of disturbed ants, and
others were hastening on foot, in autos and in buggies, from every
direction.

Nobody paid any attention to the oncoming aëroplane in the excitement,
and when it dropped to earth on the lawn in front of the blazing
building, there was the liveliest sort of confusion. Some of the farmers
did not know what to make of the visitor from the skies, but their more
enlightened neighbors soon informed them, and recalled the newspaper
accounts they had read of the _Sea Eagle’s_ great flight.

“Anybody in the building?” shouted Frank, jumping from the _Sea Eagle_
as the craft came to a standstill.

Nobody answered for a moment, but suddenly, from the back of the
building, came a piercing scream.

“Help! Help!”

“Goodness, that’s a woman calling!” exclaimed Frank. “Come on, Harry.”

Both boys dashed round to the rear of the blazing mansion, and there, at
a third-story window, they saw a woman with a baby in her arms, leaning
out and frantically calling for help.

“Get a ladder!” shouted Frank.

“No time to hunt for it,” cried Harry. “We’ll have to try another way.”

“What do you mean?”

“See the flat roof of that coach house over there? If we had a board we
could make a bridge from it to the window.”

“But how are we to get to the roof of the coach house?”

“Fly there.”

“What! in the _Sea Eagle_?”

“Why not? The roof is flat and big enough to give us room to land if we
are careful.”

“Cracky! I think you’re right. Has anybody got a board?”

“Here you are,” exclaimed a man who had darted off to a lumber pile when
he overheard Harry’s plan.

“Good! I think this will be long enough. Come on, Harry, let’s lose no
time. See, the flames are almost at that part of the house.”

At top speed the two boys ran back to the _Sea Eagle_, calling to Dr.
Perkins to join them. Hastily they explained what they meant to do. Dr.
Perkins was inclined to doubt if the plan was feasible, but as it
appeared to be the only way to save the woman and the child, he agreed
to attempt it, grave though the risk of disaster to the _Sea Eagle_
appeared to be.

While the excited men gathered about, and the woman’s cries still filled
the air, the _Sea Eagle_ was started up, and after circling about,
dropped to the coach house roof. The big craft landed without mishap,
but Frank reversed the engines barely in time to prevent her from
rolling off. However, with the front wheels of the substructure on the
very brink of the cornice, the _Sea Eagle_ came obediently to a
standstill.

They had brought the board with them, and it was shoved across to the
woman, who saw at once what they intended to do. She secured it to the
ledge of the window at which she had been standing, and Frank worked his
way across the plank bridge and took the child in his arms. He recrossed
in safety with it, and then came the woman’s turn to trust herself to
the frail bridge. But she hesitated till smoke was pouring into the
room, and then, fairly driven to try the slender support, she began to
cross it.

From the coach house roof the boys called encouragingly to her, for the
plank was far too weak to bear the weight of two persons. Even under
Frank and the baby it had sagged ominously. Something in the woman’s
face as she neared the end of her journey caused Frank to reach out
toward her. It was well that he had the foresight to do so, for as she
reached the end of her journey she suddenly fainted.

Another instant and she would have fallen forty feet to the ground, but
Frank caught her dress in a strong grip. Luckily, it was of stout
material and did not rip as he seized it. Dr. Perkins and Harry came to
his aid the next minute, and with their united strength they managed to
draw the woman’s limp form to safety.

Hardly had they done so before the flames began breaking out fiercely
from the back of the house, and, driven by the strong wind, they were
uncomfortably close to the coach house roof. No time was lost in placing
the woman and her infant in the _Sea Eagle_, after which the air craft
was started. Dr. Perkins rose to a suitable height from which to make a
safe descent, and then swept down to the ground, carrying the first
woman and child in the history of the world to be saved from a blazing
building by aëroplane.

The woman soon recovered after some friends of the neighborhood had
taken her and her child to a nearby dwelling.

The owner of the building, and the husband of the woman who had been so
bravely rescued, now came bustling up, his face beaming with gratitude.
At the moment he was not thinking of the fire but of the brave strangers
from the sky who had saved his wife and child.

“I don’t know who you are, or where you came from,” he exclaimed, “but
you literally dropped from the skies when all hope appeared lost. I was
in town buying stock, and on my way out I saw the flames coming from my
home. Knowing my wife and child had retired I dreaded to think what
would have happened if they had not been aroused. I arrived here in time
to find my worst fears realized. How can I ever thank you for what you
have done?”

“Oh, we only tried to do what we could,” said Frank modestly; “we saw
the fire and came down to see if we couldn’t help.”

“I owe the lives of my wife and child to your quickness and courage, and
that wonderful airship of yours,” vehemently declared the man, whose
name was Winfield Thomas, a wealthy farmer. “It was a real blessing you
happened along as you did.”

Dr. Perkins and the boys could only repeat how glad they were to have
done what they could. Without waiting much longer, except to
congratulate Mrs. Thomas on her quick recovery, and to express the hope
that she would feel no bad effects from her experience, the voyage was
shortly resumed. But the adventure at the burning farm house long
remained in the boys’ memory, and strengthened their attachment to the
_Sea Eagle_.

Nearing New Orleans they caught a wireless message from Billy Barnes
telling them that he had secured quarters for the _Sea Eagle_ in
Algiers, a suburb across the river from the city. That night one stage
of the trip was concluded when, in answer to a signal given with a blue
lamp, they dropped into a field on the outskirts of Algiers and housed
the _Sea Eagle_ in a large barn.

“Thunder and turtles!” cried Pudge when that night in the St. Charles
Hotel they were relating their adventures. “You fellows have all the fun
and we do all the work.”

“Never mind, Pudge,” said Frank; “I guess we’ll have adventures in
plenty ahead of us when we try to locate the wreck of the _Belle of New
Orleans_.”

“Which will be as soon as possible,” said Dr. Perkins. “Our trip has
taken us longer than I anticipated, and there is a strong chance that
Duval may have got ahead of us.”

“There’s another reason for hurrying,” declared Billy, who had just
wired to his paper a long account of the _Sea Eagle’s_ trip; “they say
that the river is rising. There have been unprecedented rainstorms and
the levees are weakening. Negroes are at work on them all along the
line, but they doubt if they can make them hold if the river keeps
rising.”



CHAPTER XXVII.—CAPTURED BY AËROPLANE.


During the short time that they had been in the city Ben Stubbs and his
two young companions had done wonders in the way of collecting equipment
for the purpose of rifling the treasure which it was expected lay in the
submerged hulk of the _Belle of New Orleans_. A diving suit with pumping
apparatus of the latest type, blocks and tackles and hand spikes were
among the things laid in stock. Ben had also invested in a new device, a
submarine searchlight. The choice of this last was warmly approved by
Dr. Perkins.

“I was wondering how it would be possible to find one’s way about the
sunken ship without some such article,” he said approvingly, and old
Ben’s rugged face glowed with satisfaction.

“Trust an old timer, sir, for remembering those things,” he said.

“Indeed, nobody could have selected a more complete outfit,” rejoined
Dr. Perkins.

The inventory of the goods was taken the next morning, and hiring a boat
the stuff was transported to Algiers, where the _Sea Eagle_ had been
looked after over night by a couple of darkies.

As they crossed the river in a hired boat they noticed how swiftly the
current ran and how discolored it was. The negro who rowed them
commented on it, too.

“Dey be po’ful big flood befo’ long, genelmen,” he opined, “an’ when ole
man Mississip’ git up on his hind lags ain’t nuffin’ kin stop him. Dem
lebees dey go jes lak so much straw er hay.”

“All the more reason for our making haste,” said Dr. Perkins, addressing
the others; “it would be hard fortune indeed if Ben were to be robbed of
his fortune by a flood.”

The shed which had sheltered the _Sea Eagle_ overnight was close to the
water’s edge so that the goods were soon transported on board. All was
found to be in good shape, and the two darkies, who had watched the air
craft overnight, received an extra gratuity for their pains. The
adventurers had been particular not to give out any details of their
flight, and it was expected that they would stay in New Orleans for some
days before proceeding, so that no curious crowd, only a few negroes and
stragglers, were on hand to see them start.

Dr. Perkins had an excellent chart of the river, showing distinctly the
location of Black Bayou, which lay back from the river amidst a maze of
other wriggly creeks and water courses. The _Belle of New Orleans_ had
been on her way to a “far back” plantation to pick up cotton, when she
blew up, which accounted for the wreck being submerged in such an out of
the way place.

As they flew along the river, but far above it, they could see human
beings, busy as ants, working along the levees, strengthening them
against the dreaded floods which already had devastated whole sections
of country in Ohio and farther up the mighty stream. At length the
course of the _Sea Eagle_ was changed till she was flying over a perfect
maze of water courses and bayous, winding in and out of a dense forest.
From above, it looked like a lace work of water overlying a piece of
dark green plush.

But the map showed a landmark for Black Bayou. Harry’s plan was marked
“Ruined plantation house and sugar mill.” Frank was the first to spy out
this important “bearing.” The _Sea Eagle_ was at that time not very far
up, and the gaunt walls and desolate overgrown buildings of the once
prosperous place could be seen clearly. “Giant cypress with three
forks,” was the next marking, and, sure enough, on a little patch of an
island, not far from the ruined plantation, they presently saw a gaunt
dead tree answering this description.

“Bayous and bullfrogs! We’re getting hot now!” cried Pudge excitedly.
“Ben, I believe that that rascal was telling the truth after all.”

“I’m inclined to think so, too, Master Pudge,” rejoined Ben; “and
look—look there—that must be the Catfish Island marked on the plan. See,
it’s just the shape of one of them critters.”

“So it is, Ben,” cried Frank, peering down. “Goodness, this _is_
exciting, though. Just think, in a short time we shall know if our
flight for a fortune is——”

“A fizzle or not,” interrupted the slangy Pudge.

“Right off Catfish Island two points to the north,” read out Harry.

Dr. Perkins glanced at the compass and slightly altered the direction of
the _Sea Eagle;_ then he allowed the great craft to drop gently to rest
on the waters of Black Bayou.

Harry referred to the plan again.

“North a hundred yards to the Lone Pine Island.”

“There it is,” cried Frank, indicating a small spot of land on which a
dead pine reared its bare trunk.

Hardly had he spoken when a canoe shot round a bend in a small bayou
just ahead of them, and a wild-looking man, who had been paddling it,
checked his frail craft. His unkempt whiskers covered him almost to his
waist, and his clothes were ragged to a degree. But none of them thought
of this as the swamp dweller so unexpectedly came into view.

“Is this the Black Bayou?” they cried almost in chorus.

The other nodded and stared wildly and half in alarm at the
strange-looking craft that confronted him.

“_Oui!_ Thees Black Bayou,” he rejoined in soft, broken accents; “what
you want, eh?”

“Did you ever hear tell of the _Belle of New Orleans?_” asked Ben, in a
voice that shook with suppressed excitement.

To his astonishment the Acadian—for the weird figure in the boat was one
of those strange dwellers of the cypress swamps—burst into a loud laugh.

“Oh ho! Oh ho!” he cackled; “what you want wid zee _Belle of New
Orleans_, eh? What you want weez her?”

Ben hesitated, and before he could reply the other burst into another
weird cackling laugh, and held up a small object.

“You want zee pearl, zee gold, hey? Zey all gone! See, I have one. Zee
men who come here two day ago give it me for help zem. Adieu!”

Before anybody on the _Sea Eagle_ could utter a word the fellow gave a
deft stroke of his paddle and his canoe shot off into the trackless
paths of the swamps.

“Well, what under the sun!” burst out Frank, while Pudge weakly
ejaculated:

“Centipedes and spongecakes!”

“It’s all clear enough,” exclaimed Ben bitterly. “Those ruffians got
ahead of us. That ’Cadian took them to the scene of the wreck and
they’ve rifled it.”

“That was undoubtedly a black pearl he held up,” said Dr. Perkins in a
faint voice. “I suppose they gave him that for guiding them here.”

The sudden shriek of a high-crested kingfisher made them look up
suddenly. The bird was darting from tree to tree on an island at a
little distance. Suddenly something that lay at the foot of a tree
caught Ben’s sharp eyes.

“What’s that? That glittering thing yonder?” he exclaimed, pointing.

“Easy enough to see,” said Dr. Perkins, starting up the _Sea Eagle_ for
the little island.

“It’s a diving helmet!” cried Frank as they drew closer to the object,
“just look, the rascals must have left it there after they got the
treasure out of the sunken wreck. I guess they thought that as they were
so rich they need not bother with it.”

They landed on the island as disconsolate and downcast a band of
treasure hunters as ever set foot on the site of a treasure trove.
Abundant evidences of a camp were all about them. The ashes of a fire,
and scraps of food and paper. One of these caught Frank’s attention. It
was a fragment of newspaper, and what had challenged Frank’s notice was
that a band of red ink had been drawn around some printing on it. Frank
read the marked portion with a somewhat vague curiosity. For the moment
he did not realize what an important clew he had stumbled upon. Then it
rushed upon him with full force.

Ben and the others were on the shore of the island pointing down into
the muddy waters of the bayou.

The earth was trampled in the vicinity, and showed plainly that the
miscreants who had stolen the treasure had carried on their operations
from that point of the bank.

“Down thar somewhar’ lies the wreck of the _Belle of New Orleans_,” said
Ben, shaking his head dolefully, and pointing into the black current;
“but it ain’t going to do us no good, mates. It ain’t going to do us no
good; them sea skunks has got ahead of us for fair.”

It was at this point that Frank’s shout interrupted them.

“What is it?” cried Dr. Perkins.

“This paper. Come here. I think it’s a clew to where they have gone.”

They crowded about him while Frank read out from the marked paper.

“‘The new South American Commerce Company’s steamer _Buenos Aires_ sails
to-morrow for the latter port. She is a fast, capable craft and will
make a direct run to the Argentine. The inauguration of this service is
a distinct addition to the commercial importance of New Orleans and
establishes new trade relations with South America.’”

“Very pretty,” said Ben; “but what does it prove?”

“Yes, I don’t see much of a clew in that,” put in Harry.

But Frank raised his hand to command silence.

“Listen a minute,” he said. “Of course, I may be altogether wrong, but
it seems to me that the reason this paragraph is marked is because those
fellows meant to sail on this very boat.”

Ben brought his hand down on his knee with a resounding whack.

“By hookey, lad!” he roared; “that’s reason. That’s solid sense and
reason.”

“What is the date of that paper?” asked Dr. Perkins.

“Luckily the paragraph was torn off from the top of the page,” said
Frank, “and the date of the issue is legible. It is dated yesterday.”

“Then the _Buenos Aires_ sailed this morning?”

“Yes; that’s the way it looks.”

“And while we are wasting time here she is heading down the river for
the open sea,” groaned Harry.

“Can’t we wireless to New Orleans and find out?” asked Pudge.

“That’s a mighty good idea, Pudge,” said his father, “but the set we
have on the _Sea Eagle_ wouldn’t carry as far as that.”

“Then let’s get on board again and fly back as quickly as possible. We
are only wasting time here,” said Frank.

His suggestion was quickly acted upon, and the voyagers reëmbarked. They
were a very different party from the pleasantly excited expedition that
had set out that morning so full of hope and enterprise. Frank alone
kept up his spirits. He sat constantly at the wireless as they winged
their way back to New Orleans, incessantly trying to get into
communication.

At last he caught the operator of the Harbor Master’s office. Instantly
he flashed his query:

“Did _Buenos Aires_ sail this a. m.?”

“Yes. Ship sailed early to-day.”

“Where will she be now?”

“About off Fort Jackson, near the mouth of the river,” came the reply.
“She has wireless, but it is out of order, so that I can’t tell you
exactly where she is right now.”

“Thanks!” flashed Frank and disconnected.

He quickly communicated his tidings, and immediately a hasty, excited
consultation followed. The result of it was that Dr. Perkins decided to
ground the _Sea Eagle_ in Algiers. This done, Ben would swear out a
warrant before the most available justice, and then, if they could find
a deputy nervy enough to make the trip, he was to be taken on board the
_Sea Eagle_ and the _Buenos Aires_ overtaken before she got beyond the
jurisdiction of the State.

But after landing in Algiers these plans were changed. It was decided
instead to swear out a federal warrant, as there was grave danger of the
ship getting out of the State’s power before they could overtake her. On
the extraordinary circumstances being related to him, the U. S.
Commissioner at New Orleans readily granted the warrant for the arrest
of all three of the rascals. It now remained only to find a Deputy U. S.
Marshal courageous enough to make the trip through the air.

The only one available seemed a bit doubtful.

“A trip in an aëroplane!” he said. “I’ve never taken such a journey and
I’m scared of the blessed things. You see, I’ve got a wife and family,
and——”

“Don’t be afraid. There’s really no danger, and we’ll be over water most
of the way,” urged Dr. Perkins.

The deputy seemed to come to a sudden conclusion. His eyes snapped and
his lips tightened.

“All right, I’ll go with you!” he suddenly cried. “Wait till I ’phone
the missus and I’m your man. Those rascals played you a mean trick, and
I’d like to see you win out.”

The hearts of the adventurers gave a bound of hope. There was a chance
of seeing justice come into its own, after all.

                   *       *       *       *       *

The _Buenos Aires_, a fine ship of five thousand or more tons, dropped
rapidly down the river. She had few cabin passengers, and of these only
three were on deck. The remainder were in their cabins putting their
belongings to rights.

These three men were the elder Daniels, his loutish son and Duval. But
they all wore smart new clothes, and Duval had shaved off his mustache.
As for the two Daniels, it is an example of what clothes can do to say
that they looked more like prosperous, rather countryfied commission
dealers than rugged fishermen from Maine.

“Let’s have a look at them pearls again,” Daniels was saying, after he
had given a cautious glance about him to make sure they were not
observed.

Duval reached into his pocket and drew out a canvas bag. From it he
poured out a number of black, lustrous objects, catching them in a
cupped hand.

“Twenty of the beauties,” he exclaimed; “twenty black pearls—the rarest
gems that come out of the ocean.”

“What are they worth again?” asked the elder Daniels, licking his lips
anticipatively.

“Thirty thousand dollars at the least.”

“Jiminy! Hold me, some one!” sputtered Zeb.

“And that, counting the gold dust in the cabin, makes a fortune of close
upon seventy-five thousand dollars we got out of that old hulk, don’t
it?”

“That’s right,” answered Duval; “you fellows did a good day’s work for
yourselves when you knocked me on the head in that hut.”

“Waal, I should say so. Let’s go below and look at that gold again. I
kin hardly keep my fingers frum touching it. We’re rich, boys, we’re
rich!”

The three worthies disappeared below after Duval had carefully replaced
the black pearls in their bag. It was some hours later when they came up
again and the ship was passing the Port Ead’s light.

“We’re safe now,” exclaimed Duval in a low tone; “even if they do
discover the trick we’ve put up on em, they could never catch us now. In
another two hours we’ll be out on the gulf and by to-morrow we’ll be out
of reach of any one in Yankeeland.”

“Hulloo, what’s up astern?” asked Zeb suddenly. “What are they all
pointing at?”

“Pointing at? What do you mean?” demanded Duval, suspicious as are most
guilty consciences of anything unusual.

“Something in the sky. Hark! They are shouting!”

“_Something in the sky!_”

Duval’s face went white. His knees shook. By a flash of guilty intuition
he had guessed what that something was, even if the next minute a shout
had not split the air.

“An aëroplane! It’s an aëroplane!”

Duval’s knees quivered under him. He trembled like a man with the palsy.
Old Daniels came up to him hastily.

“Duval, they’ve sighted one of them airyoplanes—you don’t think——”

“No, I don’t _think_. I know,” choked out Duval, “they are after us.
Hark!”

From the distance came the sound of shots high up in the air. In reply
to the signal—for such it was—the _Buenos Aires’_ whistle emitted three
long, mournful toots. Her engines began to slow down. As Duval felt the
steamer’s speed check he dashed below to his cabin. As for Daniels, he
stood rooted to the spot, his lips moving, but no speech coming from
them. Zeb was nowhere to be seen.

Up on the _Buenos Aires’_ lofty flying bridge her officers, in the
meantime, had been almost equally excited. They had seen the aëroplane
some time before; but as nowadays such craft are a fairly common sight,
they had not paid overmuch attention to it. It was not till the unusual
size of the craft was revealed that they scrutinized it closely.

Then, as the big winged man-bird swung above the steamer’s masts, had
come the quick six pistol shots. An imperative signal, rightly
interpreted “Stop!”

The whistle had replied and the vessel’s way been checked as the
jangling signals sounded in the engine-room, and “Slow down” flashed up
on the telegraph.

“What do you want?” hailed the captain through a megaphone, as the _Sea
Eagle_—for of course our readers have guessed the identity of the craft
of the air—swung above him.

“We want to board you with a United States warrant!” came the startling
reply from midair.

“A warrant! For some of my passengers?”

“Yes; for three men whom we have reason to believe booked passage as
Daniel Maine and son and another one who calls himself Francis Le
Blanc.”

“I have three such men on board and recognize the authority of the
United States. How will you board me?”

“We’ll come alongside.”

The captain looked as if he didn’t understand how this was going to be
done, but gave orders to stop the ship, drop anchor and lower the
gangway. This was done, and the _Sea Eagle_ dropped to the water
alongside with perfect precision. In the meantime, the wildest
excitement reigned on board. Rumors flew thick and fast as to the errand
of the men from the air.

Lest it should be wondered how Dr. Perkins and his companions knew the
names under which the three rascals had sailed, we had better clear this
matter up. Before embarking in the _Sea Eagle_ in pursuit of the _Buenos
Aires_, a passenger list had been obtained from the offices of the
steamship company. It will be recalled that Francis Le Blanc was the
alias, or false name, which Duval had used when in the employ of Mr.
Sterrett on the yacht _Wanderer_. This gave them a clew, and when they
came across the names Daniel Maine and son, booked for an adjoining
cabin, there remained small doubt that those names concealed the two
Daniels.

The _Sea Eagle_ was soon made fast, and Marshal Howell, followed by Dr.
Perkins and the two Boy Aviators, sprang up the gangway. The others they
had been compelled to leave behind, as, with the three prisoners to
carry back, the _Sea Eagle_ would have been overcrowded.

As they reached the top of the gangway Captain Stow and his officers
advanced to meet them.

“To what am I indebted for the honor of this visit?” asked the seaman.

The marshal showed his authority and his warrant.

“We don’t wish to detain you longer than necessary, captain,” he said,
“so will you have us shown to their cabins?”

The captain himself led the way below, and conducted them down a
corridor to the stern of the ship. As they reached the end of the
passage a door was thrust suddenly open and a bullet whizzed past
Frank’s head. At the same instant Zeb’s figure appeared in the doorway.

But before he could fire another shot the marshal had wrested the pistol
from him and burst into the cabin. Frank was close behind him. At a port
hole was Duval; he had something in his hand and was just about to hurl
it out of the port hole, when Frank, in one bound, was at his side and
had his arm captive. With a snarl like a wounded wild beast Duval turned
on him, whipping out a knife as he did so. But before any harm could be
done, Dr. Perkins seized and disarmed him.

It was speedily found that the bag which Frank had saved was the one
containing the black pearls which Duval, in his extremity, had
determined to throw away rather than let any one else gain their
possession. The Marshal slipped the handcuffs on Zeb and Duval, who
submitted sullenly to arrest. It was not till then that their thoughts
turned to the elder Daniels. He was not in his cabin, and search of the
ship failed to reveal him. The mystery was soon to be explained,
however.

A boat with a colored oarsman had been lying alongside the steamer
waiting to take off the pilot. In the confusion old Daniels had opened
the bag of gold dust, selected a packet, and, dropping into the boat,
told the negro to row him ashore to secure help for the officers. The
negro naturally supposed that he was acting under proper instructions,
and put the old fisherman ashore. He was never heard of again.

Zeb and Duval sullenly refused to utter a word, but ultimately, after
their return to New Orleans, Frank had an interview with Duval in his
prison cell, in which he made a clean breast of everything. From
Bayhaven they had hastened south by fast trains, stopping on the way to
buy diving dress. The Acadian whom the boys had encountered in the
swamps had guided them to the scene of the wreck, receiving one black
pearl as his reward.

Of the voyage back from the _Buenos Aires_ with the two prisoners not
much can be said. It was made at a good rate of speed, and both Duval
and Zeb were docile. Indeed, there was no use in their being otherwise.
On account of his youth and the pleadings of Dr. Perkins and the boys,
Zeb got a light sentence in a reformatory institution, and it is hoped
that he will prove a far better character when he gets out. Duval was
more severely dealt with, but even he got off more lightly than he
deserved, thanks to the clemency of the people he had wronged.

And so ends the story of the Boy Aviators’ Flight for a Fortune in the
most wonderful aëroplane constructed up to date. But no doubt, in the
rapid march of events, even the _Sea Eagle_ will soon be surpassed.
Already, while this book goes to press, plans are being made by no less
than four separate aviators to dare the terrors of a transatlantic
passage. Whether they will succeed or not is in the lap of the future,
but the author is certain that some day flights across “The Pond” at
seventy or eighty miles an hour will be so common as to attract but
small attention.

Some of my readers doubtless wish to know how Ben disposed of his
fortune. Well, part of it he wisely invested in real estate, and the
rest he is thinking of putting into the company Dr. Perkins has formed
to manufacture _Sea Eagles_. Mr. Sterrett is a member of the company,
and so are the Boy Aviators. Naturally Ben’s keen wish to have them
share some of his good fortune was refused, for, as we know, the Boy
Aviators’ adventures in the past had netted them a good share of this
world’s goods. Billy Barnes is publicity agent at a good salary for the
_Sea Eagle_ Company, Ltd., and the work just suits his tastes. As for
Pudge, he is as hard a worker as anybody at the plant on Brig Island,
learning the business “from the bottom up.”

And so, wishing them well in their future undertakings, we will here
take leave for the present of our friends, until we hear of them again
in the next volume, entitled “The Boy Aviators with the Air Raiders.”

                                THE END.



BOY AVIATORS’ SERIES

By Captain Wilbur Lawton

Absolutely Modern Stories for Boys

Cloth Bound, Price, 50c per volume

The Boy Aviators in Nicaragua

Or, Leagued With Insurgents

  The launching of this Twentieth Century series marks the
  inauguration of a new era in boys’ books—the “wonders of modern
  science” epoch. Frank and Harry Chester, the Boy Aviators, are the
  heroes of this exciting, red-blooded tale of adventure by air and
  land in the turbulent Central American republic. The two brothers
  with their $10,000 prize aeroplane, the Golden Eagle, rescue a chum
  from death in the clutches of the Nicaraguans, discover a lost
  treasure valley of the ancient Toltec race, and in so doing almost
  lose their own lives in the Abyss of the White Serpents, and have
  many other exciting experiences, including being blown far out to
  sea in their air-skimmer in a tropical storm. It would be unfair to
  divulge the part that wireless plays in rescuing them from their
  predicament. In a brand new field of fiction for boys the Chester
  brothers and their aeroplane seem destined to fill a top-notch
  place. These books are technically correct, wholesomely thrilling
  and geared up to third speed.

Sold by Booksellers Everywhere

HURST & CO.—Publishers—NEW YORK



BOY AVIATORS’ SERIES

By Captain Wilbur Lawton

Absolutely Modern Stories for Boys

Cloth Bound, Price, 50c per volume

THE BOY AVIATORS ON SECRET SERVICE

Or, Working With Wireless

  In this live-wire narrative of peril and adventure, laid in the
  Everglades of Florida, the spunky Chester Boys and their interesting
  chums, including Ben Stubbs, the maroon, encounter exciting
  experiences on Uncle Sam’s service in a novel field. One must read
  this vivid, enthralling story of incident, hardship and pluck to get
  an idea of the almost limitless possibilities of the two greatest
  inventions of modern times—the aeroplane and wireless telegraphy.
  While gripping and holding the reader’s breathless attention from
  the opening words to the finish, this swift-moving story is at the
  same time instructive and uplifting. As those readers who have
  already made friends with Frank and Harry Chester and their “bunch”
  know, there are few difficulties, no matter how insurmountable they
  may seem at first blush, that these up-to-date gritty youths cannot
  overcome with flying colors. A clean-cut, real boys’ book of high
  voltage.

Sold by Booksellers Everywhere

HURST & CO.—Publishers—NEW YORK



BOY AVIATORS’ SERIES

By Captain Wilbur Lawton

Absolutely Modern Stories for Boys

Cloth Bound, Price, 50c per volume

THE BOY AVIATORS IN AFRICA

Or, An Aerial Ivory Trail

In this absorbing book we meet, on a Continent made famous by the
American explorer Stanley, and ex-President Roosevelt, our old friends,
the Chester Boys and their stalwart chums. In Africa—the Dark
Continent—the author follows in exciting detail his young heroes, their
voyage in the first aeroplane to fly above the mysterious forests and
unexplored ranges of the mystic land. In this book, too, for the first
time, we entertain Luther Barr, the old New York millionaire, who proved
later such an implacable enemy of the boys. The story of his defeated
schemes, of the astonishing things the boys discovered in the Mountains
of the Moon, of the pathetic fate of George Desmond, the emulator of
Stanley, the adventure of the Flying Men and the discovery of the
Arabian Ivory cache,—this is not the place to speak. It would be
spoiling the zest of an exciting tale to reveal the outcome of all these
episodes here. It may be said, however, without “giving away” any of the
thrilling chapters of this narrative, that Captain Wilbur Lawton, the
author, is in it in his best vein, and from his personal experiences in
Africa has been able to supply a striking background for the adventures
of his young heroes. As one newspaper says of this book: “Here is
adventure in good measure, pressed down and running over.”

Sold by Booksellers Everywhere

HURST & CO.—Publishers—NEW YORK



BOY AVIATORS’ SERIES

By Captain Wilbur Lawton

Absolutely Modern Stories for Boys

Cloth Bound, Price, 50c per volume

THE BOY AVIATORS TREASURE QUEST

Or, The Golden Galleon

Everybody is a boy once more when it comes to the question of hidden
treasure. In this book, Captain Lawton has set forth a hunt for gold
that is concealed neither under the sea nor beneath the earth, but is
well hidden for all that. A garrulous old sailor, who holds the key to
the mystery of the Golden Galleon, plays a large part in the development
of the plot of this fascinating narrative of treasure hunting in the
region of the Gulf Stream and the Sargasso Sea. An aeroplane fitted with
efficient pontoons—enabling her to skim the water successfully—has long
been a dream of aviators. The Chester Boys seem to have solved the
problem. The Sargasso that strange drifting ocean within an ocean,
holding ships of a dozen nations and a score of ages, in its relentless
grip, has been the subject of many books of adventure and mystery, but
in none has the secret of the ever shifting mass of treacherous currents
been penetrated as it has in the BOY AVIATORS TREASURE QUEST. Luther
Barr, whom it seemed the boys had shaken off, is still on their trail,
in this absorbing book and with a dirigible balloon, essays to beat them
out in their search for the Golden Galleon. Every boy, every man—and
woman and girl—who has ever felt the stirring summons of adventure in
their souls, had better get hold of this book. Once obtained, it will be
read and re-read till it falls to rags.

Sold by Booksellers Everywhere

HURST & CO.—Publishers—NEW YORK



BOY AVIATORS’ SERIES

By Captain Wilbur Lawton

Absolutely Modern Stories for Boys

Cloth Bound, Price, 50c per volume

THE BOY AVIATORS IN RECORD FLIGHT

Or, The Rival Aeroplane

The Chester Boys in new field of endeavor—an attempt to capture a
newspaper prize for a trans-continental flight. By the time these lines
are read, exactly such an offer will have been spread broadcast by one
of the foremost newspapers of the country. In the Golden Eagle, the
boys, accompanied by a trail-blazing party in an automobile, make the
dash. But they are not alone in their aspirations. Their rivals for the
rich prize at stake try in every way that they can to circumvent the
lads and gain the valuable trophy and monetary award. In this they stop
short at nothing, and it takes all the wits and resources of the Boy
Aviators to defeat their devices. Among the adventures encountered in
their cross-country flight, the boys fall in with a band of rollicking
cowboys—who momentarily threaten serious trouble—are attacked by
Indians, strike the most remarkable town of the desert—the “dry” town of
“Gow Wells,” encounter a sandstorm which blows them into strange lands
far to the south of their course, and meet with several amusing mishaps
beside. A thoroughly readable book. The sort to take out behind the barn
on the sunny side of the haystack, and, with a pocketful of juicy apples
and your heels kicking the air, pass happy hours with Captain Lawton’s
young heroes.

Sold by Booksellers Everywhere

HURST & CO.—Publishers—NEW YORK



BOY AVIATORS’ SERIES

By Captain Wilbur Lawton

Absolutely Modern Stories for Boys

Cloth Bound, Price, 50c per volume

THE BOY AVIATORS POLAR DASH

Or, Facing Death in the Antarctic

If you were to hear that two boys, accompanying a South Polar expedition
in charge of the aeronautic department, were to penetrate the Antarctic
regions—hitherto only attained by a few daring explorers—you would feel
interested, wouldn’t you? Well, in Captain Lawton’s latest book,
concerning his Boy Aviators, you can not only read absorbing adventure
in the regions south of the eightieth parallel, but absorb much useful
information as well. Captain Lawton introduces—besides the original
characters of the heroes—a new creation in the person of Professor
Simeon Sandburr, a patient seeker for polar insects. The professor’s
adventures in his quest are the cause of much merriment, and lead once
or twice to serious predicaments. In a volume so packed with incident
and peril from cover to cover—relieved with laughable mishaps to the
professor—it is difficult to single out any one feature; still, a recent
reader of it wrote the publishers an enthusiastic letter the other day,
saying: “The episodes above the Great Barrier are thrilling, the attack
of the condors in Patagonia made me hold my breath, the—but what’s the
use? The Polar Dash, to my mind, is an even more entrancing book than
Captain Lawton’s previous efforts, and that’s saying a good deal. The
aviation features and their technical correctness are by no means the
least attractive features of this up-to-date creditable volume.”

Sold by Booksellers Everywhere

HURST & CO.—Publishers—NEW YORK



BOY INVENTORS SERIES

Stories of Skill and Ingenuity

By RICHARD BONNER

Cloth Bound. Illustrated. Price, 50c. per vol., postpaid

THE BOY INVENTORS’ WIRELESS TELEGRAPH.

  Blest with natural curiosity,—sometimes called the instinct of
  investigation,—favored with golden opportunity, and gifted with
  creative ability, the Boy Inventors meet emergencies and contrive
  mechanical wonders that interest and convince the reader because
  they always “work” when put to the test.

THE BOY INVENTORS’ VANISHING GUN.

  A thought, a belief, an experiment; discouragement, hope, effort and
  final success—this is the history of many an invention; a history in
  which excitement, competition, danger, despair and persistence
  figure. This merely suggests the circumstances which draw the daring
  Boy Inventors into strange experiences and startling adventures, and
  which demonstrate the practical use of their vanishing gun.

THE BOY INVENTORS’ DIVING TORPEDO BOAT.

  As in the previous stories of the Boy Inventors, new and interesting
  triumphs of mechanism are produced which become immediately
  valuable, and the stage for their proving and testing is again the
  water. On the surface and below it, the boys have jolly, contagious
  fun, and the story of their serious, purposeful inventions challenge
  the reader’s deepest attention.

Any volume sent postpaid upon receipt of price.

HURST & COMPANY—Publishers—NEW YORK



BORDER BOYS SERIES

Mexican and Canadian Frontier Series

By FREMONT B. DEERING.

Cloth Bound. Illustrated. Price, 50c. per vol., postpaid

THE BORDER BOYS ON THE TRAIL.

  What it meant to make an enemy of Black Ramon De Barios—that is the
  problem that Jack Merrill and his friends, including Coyote Pete,
  face in this exciting tale.

THE BORDER BOYS ACROSS THE FRONTIER.

  Read of the Haunted Mesa and its mysteries, of the Subterranean
  River and its strange uses, of the value of gasolene and steam “in
  running the gauntlet,” and you will feel that not even the ancient
  splendors of the Old World can furnish a better setting for romantic
  action than the Border of the New.

THE BORDER BOYS WITH THE MEXICAN RANGERS.

  As every day is making history—faster, it is said, than ever
  before—so books that keep pace with the changes are full of rapid
  action and accurate facts. This book deals with lively times on the
  Mexican border.

THE BORDER BOYS WITH THE TEXAS RANGERS.

  The Border Boys have already had much excitement and adventure in
  their lives, but all this has served to prepare them for the
  experiences related in this volume. They are stronger, braver and
  more resourceful than ever, and the exigencies of their life in
  connection with the Texas Rangers demand all their trained ability.

Any volume sent postpaid upon receipt of price.

HURST & COMPANY—Publishers—NEW YORK



BUNGALOW BOYS SERIES

LIVE STORIES OF OUTDOOR LIFE

By DEXTER J. FORRESTER.

Cloth Bound. Illustrated. Price, 50c. per vol., postpaid

THE BUNGALOW BOYS.

  How the Bungalow Boys received their title and how they retained the
  right to it in spite of much opposition makes a lively narrative for
  lively boys.

THE BUNGALOW BOYS MAROONED IN THE TROPICS.

  A real treasure hunt of the most thrilling kind, with a sunken
  Spanish galleon as its object, makes a subject of intense interest
  at any time, but add to that a band of desperate men, a dark plot
  and a devil fish, and you have the combination that brings strange
  adventures into the lives of the Bungalow Boys.

THE BUNGALOW BOYS IN THE GREAT NORTH WEST.

  The clever assistance of a young detective saves the boys from the
  clutches of Chinese smugglers, of whose nefarious trade they know
  too much. How the Professor’s invention relieves a critical
  situation is also an exciting incident of this book.

THE BUNGALOW BOYS ON THE GREAT LAKES.

  The Bungalow Boys start out for a quiet cruise on the Great Lakes
  and a visit to an island. A storm and a band of wreckers interfere
  with the serenity of their trip, and a submarine adds zest and
  adventure to it.

Any volume sent postpaid upon receipt of price.

HURST & COMPANY—Publishers—NEW YORK



DREADNOUGHT BOYS SERIES

Tales of the New Navy

By CAPT. WILBUR LAWTON

Author of “BOY AVIATORS SERIES.”

Cloth Bound. Illustrated. Price, 50c. per vol., postpaid

THE DREADNOUGHT BOYS ON BATTLE PRACTICE.

  Especially interesting and timely is this book which introduces the
  reader with its heroes, Ned and Herc, to the great ships of modern
  warfare and to the intimate life and surprising adventures of Uncle
  Sam’s sailors.

THE DREADNOUGHT BOYS ABOARD A DESTROYER.

  In this story real dangers threaten and the boys’ patriotism is
  tested in a peculiar international tangle. The scene is laid on the
  South American coast.

THE DREADNOUGHT BOYS ON A SUBMARINE.

  To the inventive genius—trade-school boy or mechanic—this story has
  special charm, perhaps, but to every reader its mystery and clever
  action are fascinating.

THE DREADNOUGHT BOYS ON AERO SERVICE.

  Among the volunteers accepted for Aero Service are Ned and Herc.
  Their perilous adventures are not confined to the air, however,
  although they make daring and notable flights in the name of the
  Government; nor are they always able to fly beyond the reach of
  their old “enemies,” who are also airmen.

Any volume sent postpaid upon receipt of price.

HURST & COMPANY—Publishers—NEW YORK



FRANK ARMSTRONG SERIES

Twentieth Century Athletic Stories

By MATHEW M. COLTON.

Cloth Bound. Illustrated. Price, 60c. per vol., postpaid

FRANK ARMSTRONG’S VACATION.

  How Frank’s summer experience with his boy friends make him into a
  sturdy young athlete through swimming, boating, and baseball
  contests, and a tramp through the Everglades, is the subject of this
  splendid story.

FRANK ARMSTRONG AT QUEENS.

  We find among the jolly boys at Queen’s School, Frank, the
  student-athlete, Jimmy, the baseball enthusiast, and Lewis, the
  unconsciously-funny youth who furnishes comedy for every page that
  bears his name. Fall and winter sports between intensely rival
  school teams are expertly described.

FRANK ARMSTRONG’S SECOND TERM.

  The gymnasium, the track and the field make the background for the
  stirring events of this volume, in which David, Jimmy, Lewis, the
  “Wee One” and the “Codfish” figure, while Frank “saves the day.”

FRANK ARMSTRONG, DROP KICKER.

  With the same persistent determination that won him success in
  swimming, running and baseball playing, Frank Armstrong acquired the
  art of “drop kicking,” and the Queen’s football team profits
  thereby.

Any volume sent postpaid upon receipt of price.

HURST & COMPANY—Publishers—NEW YORK



MOTOR RANGERS SERIES

HIGH SPEED MOTOR STORIES

By MARVIN WEST.

Cloth Bound. Illustrated. Price, 50c. per vol., postpaid

THE MOTOR RANGERS’ LOST MINE.

  This is an absorbing story of the continuous adventures of a motor
  car in the hands of Nat Trevor and his friends. It does seemingly
  impossible “stunts,” and yet everything happens “in the nick of
  time.”

THE MOTOR RANGERS THROUGH THE SIERRAS.

  Enemies in ambush, the peril of fire, and the guarding of treasure
  make exciting times for the Motor Rangers—yet there is a strong
  flavor of fun and freedom, with a typical Western mountaineer for
  spice.

THE MOTOR RANGERS ON BLUE WATER; or, The Secret of the Derelict.

  The strange adventures of the sturdy craft “Nomad” and the stranger
  experiences of the Rangers themselves with Morello’s schooner and a
  mysterious derelict form the basis of this well-spun yarn of the
  sea.

THE MOTOR RANGERS’ CLOUD CRUISER.

  From the “Nomad” to the “Discoverer,” from the sea to the sky, the
  scene changes in which the Motor Rangers figure. They have
  experiences “that never were on land or sea,” in heat and cold and
  storm, over mountain peak and lost city, with savages and reptiles;
  their ship of the air is attacked by huge birds of the air; they
  survive explosion and earthquake; they even live to tell the tale!

Any volume sent postpaid upon receipt of price.

HURST & COMPANY—Publishers—NEW YORK



GIRL AVIATORS SERIES

Clean Aviation Stories

By MARGARET BURNHAM.

Cloth Bound. Illustrated. Price, 50c. per vol., postpaid

THE GIRL AVIATORS AND THE PHANTOM AIRSHIP.

  Roy Prescott was fortunate in having a sister so clever and devoted
  to him and his interests that they could share work and play with
  mutual pleasure and to mutual advantage. This proved especially true
  in relation to the manufacture and manipulation of their aeroplane,
  and Peggy won well deserved fame for her skill and good sense as an
  aviator. There were many stumbling-blocks in their terrestrial path
  but they soared above them all to ultimate success.

THE GIRL AVIATORS ON GOLDEN WINGS.

  That there is a peculiar fascination about aviation that wins and
  holds girl enthusiasts as well as boys is proved by this tale. On
  golden wings the girl aviators rose for many an exciting flight, and
  met strange and unexpected experiences.

THE GIRL AVIATORS’ SKY CRUISE.

  To most girls a coaching or yachting trip is an adventure. How much
  more perilous an adventure a “sky cruise” might be is suggested by
  the title and proved by the story itself.

THE GIRL AVIATORS’ MOTOR BUTTERFLY.

  The delicacy of flight suggested by the word “butterfly,” the
  mechanical power implied by “motor,” the ability to, control assured
  in the title “aviator,” all combined with the personality and
  enthusiasm of girls themselves, make this story one for any girl or
  other reader “to go crazy over.”

Any volume sent postpaid upon receipt of price.

HURST & COMPANY—Publishers—NEW YORK



MOTOR MAIDS SERIES

Wholesome Stories of Adventure

By KATHERINE STOKES.

Cloth Bound. Illustrated. Price, 50c. per vol., postpaid

THE MOTOR MAIDS’ SCHOOL DAYS.

  Billie Campbell was just the type of a straightforward, athletic
  girl to be successful as a practical Motor Maid. She took her car,
  as she did her class-mates, to her heart, and many a grand good time
  did they have all together. The road over which she ran her red
  machine had many an unexpected turning,—now it led her into peculiar
  danger; now into contact with strange travelers; and again into
  experiences by fire and water. But, best of all, “The Comet” never
  failed its brave girl owner.

THE MOTOR MAIDS BY PALM AND PINE.

  Wherever the Motor Maids went there were lively times, for these
  were companionable girls who looked upon the world as a vastly
  interesting place full of unique adventures—and so, of course, they
  found them.

THE MOTOR MAIDS ACROSS THE CONTINENT.

  It is always interesting to travel, and it is wonderfully
  entertaining to see old scenes through fresh eyes. It is that
  privilege, therefore, that makes it worth while to join the Motor
  Maids in their first ’cross-country run.

THE MOTOR MAIDS BY ROSE, SHAMROCK AND HEATHER.

  South and West had the Motor Maids motored, nor could their
  education by travel have been more wisely begun. But now a speaking
  acquaintance with their own country enriched their anticipation of
  an introduction to the British Isles. How they made their polite
  American bow and how they were received on the other side is a tale
  of interest and inspiration.

Any volume sent postpaid upon receipt of price.

HURST & COMPANY—Publishers—NEW YORK





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