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Title: Motor Matt's Hard Luck - or, The Balloon-House Plot
Author: Matthews, Stanley R.
Language: English
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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.

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courtesy of the Digital Library@Villanova University
(http://digital.library.villanova.edu/))



  MOTOR STORIES

  THRILLING
  ADVENTURE

  MOTOR
  FICTION

  NO. 10
  MAY 1, 1909

  FIVE
  CENTS

  MOTOR MATT'S
  HARD LUCK
  OR THE BALLOON
  HOUSE PLOT

  [Illustration: "This way, Dick" yelled Motor Matt
  as he struck down one of the
  ruffians.]

  STREET & SMITH
  PUBLISHERS
  NEW YORK



MOTOR STORIES

THRILLING ADVENTURE MOTOR FICTION

_Issued Weekly. By subscription $2.50 per year. Entered according to
Act of Congress in the year 1909, in the Office of the Librarian of
Congress, Washington, D. C., by_ STREET & SMITH, _79-89 Seventh Avenue,
New York, N. Y._

  No. 10.      NEW YORK, May 1, 1909.      Price Five Cents.


Motor Matt's Hard Luck

OR,

THE BALLOON-HOUSE PLOT.

By the author of "MOTOR MATT."



CONTENTS


  CHAPTER I. AN OLD FRIEND.
  CHAPTER II. A TRAP.
  CHAPTER III. OVERBOARD.
  CHAPTER IV. RESCUED.
  CHAPTER V. BUYING THE "HAWK."
  CHAPTER VI. MATT SCORES AGAINST JAMESON.
  CHAPTER VII. AT THE BALLOON HOUSE.
  CHAPTER VIII. THE PLOT OF THE BRADY GANG.
  CHAPTER IX. CARL IS SURPRISED.
  CHAPTER X. HELEN BRADY'S CLUE.
  CHAPTER XI. JERROLD GIVES HIS AID.
  CHAPTER XII. GRAND HAVEN.
  CHAPTER XIII. THE LINE ON BRADY.
  CHAPTER XIV. THE WOODS BY THE RIVER.
  CHAPTER XV. BRADY A PRISONER.
  CHAPTER XVI. BACK IN SOUTH CHICAGO.
  THE RED SPIDER.
  PIGEON-WHISTLE CONCERTS.



CHARACTERS THAT APPEAR IN THIS STORY.


  =Matt King=, concerning whom there has always been a mystery--a lad
  of splendid athletic abilities, and never-failing nerve, who has won
  for himself, among the boys of the Western town, the popular name of
  "Mile-a-minute Matt."

  =Carl Pretzel=, a cheerful and rollicking German lad, who is led by a
  fortunate accident to hook up with Motor Matt in double harness.

  =Dick Ferral=, a Canadian boy and a favorite of Uncle Jack; has
  served his time in the King's navy, and bobs up in New Mexico where
  he falls into plots and counter-plots, and comes near losing his life.

  =Helen Brady=, Hector Brady's daughter, who helps Motor Matt.

  =Hector Brady=, a rival inventor who has stolen his ideas from
  Hamilton Jerrold. His air ship is called the Hawk and is used for
  criminal purposes. Brady's attempt to secure Motor Matt's services as
  driver of the Hawk brings about the undoing of the criminal gang.

  =Hamilton Jerrold=, an honest inventor who has devoted his life to
  aëronautics, and who has built a successful air ship called the Eagle.

  =Jameson=, a rich member of the Aëro Club, who thinks of buying the
  Hawk.

  =Whipple=, =Pete=, =Grove=, =Harper=, members of Brady's gang who
  carried out the "balloon-house plot," which nearly resulted in a
  tragedy, and finally proved the complete undoing of Hector Brady.

  =Ochiltree=, an ex-convict whose past record nearly got him into
  trouble.

  =Harris=, a policeman of South Chicago who aids Motor Matt in his
  work against the Bradys.

  =Dennison and Twitchell=, police officers of Grand Haven, Michigan,
  who take a part in the final capture of Brady.



CHAPTER I.

AN OLD FRIEND.


"Py chimineddy!" muttered Carl Pretzel to himself, starting up on the
couch, where he had been snatching forty winks by way of passing the
time. "Vat's dot? Der voice has some familiar sounds mit me. Lisden
vonce."

A loud, jovial voice floated in through the open window, a voice with a
swing to it that set Carl's nerves in a flutter.

        "'In Cawsand bay lying,
        And a Blue Peter flying,
    All hands were turned up the anchor to weigh,
        There came a young lady,
        As fair as a May-day,
    And modestly hailing, the damsel did say:

        "'"I've got a young man there,
        D'ye hear? Bear a hand there
    To hoist me aboard or to bring him to me:
        Which his name's Henry Grady,
        And I am a lady,
    Just come down to purwent his a-going to sea."'"

The roaring song had come closer and closer. By then it was almost
under the open window. Jumping from the couch, Carl ran across the room
and looked out.

A youth of seventeen or eighteen, wearing a sailor rig and with his hat
cocked over one eye, was lurching along with both hands in his pockets.
Behind him trailed four or five hoodlums, bunched close together and
talking among themselves.

"Here's where I quit you, you lubbers," said the young sailor, halting
at the steps leading up to the boarding-house door, and turning to the
hoodlums. "A messmate of mine berths here, and I'm going to drop in on
him and have a bit of a chat over old times. 'Bout ship, the lot of
you, and make a good offing. I don't like the cut of your jibs any too
well, anyhow. Slant away, slant away."

The sailor backed up against a post at the bottom of the steps.

"Say, yous ole webfoot," said one of the hoodlums, "loosen up, can't
yous, an' fork over the price o' a drink, all around?"

The fellow shambled closer to the sailor and held out one hand with an
expectant grin.

"Not a bob will I give you for a tot of drink," answered the sailor,
"for I'll be keelhauled if you don't look as though you'd already been
topping the boom too much for your own good, but I'll loosen up, as you
call it, for a good meal all around."

His hand went into the pocket of his trousers and he drew out a big
roll of bills. A greedy gleam darted into the hoodlum's eyes as he
glimpsed the bundle of money, and those at his back pushed closer
together, nudging each other in the ribs and pointing while the
sailor's head was bent.

Suddenly the rascal who had acted as spokesman for the rest made a leap
and a grab.

"Avast there, you loafing longshore scuttler!" yelled the young tar.
"What sort of a beachcomber's trick do you call that?"

The hoodlum had whirled, the roll in his hands, and was making off as
fast as his legs could carry him. The sailor sprang after him, but
the rest of the thieving pack jumped in his way and began using their
fists, hoping to give their pal the necessary time to get clear with
the money.

Carl Pretzel, with an angry shout, withdrew from the open window,
dashed from the room, down the stairs and out at the front door.
Without paying any attention to the sailor and those with whom he was
tussling, the Dutch boy rushed past the struggling group and made a bee
line after the thief.

Carl was too fat for a swift sprinter, but the thieving hoodlum was
handicapped by a game leg, and Carl was able to overhaul him slowly.

Looking over his shoulder in order to take in the situation behind,
the thief saw the Dutch boy, and redoubled his efforts to get away. An
alley lay just ahead, and the thief turned into it. Carl plunged after
him, but when he got into the alley, the fellow with the money had
mysteriously vanished.

"Dot's a funny t'ing!" panted Carl, coming to a halt and peering
around. "Vere dit he go mit himseluf?"

Garbage barrels and boxes lined the alley on both sides. Carl started
onward again, peering sharply behind each garbage receptacle as he
advanced. Suddenly he discovered the man he was looking for, crouching
behind a big box.

Carl was a little way beyond the box before he caught sight of the
thief.

"Dere you vas!" he yelled, as he faced about. "Now I ged you, und I
dake avay vat you got--yah, so helup me!"

He rushed at the thief, and the latter got up, squirmed around the end
of the box, and leaped for the side of a shed whose wall stood flush
with the alley.

The shed had a square opening, about four feet from the ground, for
convenience in unloading wood. The thief had his eye on the opening. If
he could get into the shed, he probably reasoned, he could run through
into the back yard of the house, gain the street in front, and so,
undoubtedly, evade his fat pursuer.

But he didn't make it. By the time he was half through the opening,
Carl was close enough to grab his thrashing feet, and he hung onto them
like grim death.

"How you like dot, hey?" jubilated the Dutch boy. "You findt oudt, py
shimmy, dot it don'd vas so easy to ged avay mit money dot don'd pelong
mit you. Oof you shkin oudt, you leaf your feet pehind, und oof you
don't come pack indo der alley, den I pull you in two. How vas dot for
some fixes?"

"Wot's de matter wit' yous?" came the angry, muffled voice from inside
the shed. "Le'go 'r I'll kick a hole in your face!"

"You vill I don'd t'ink," puffed Carl, still hanging to the feet. "Gif
oop der money, you dinhorn, oder I turn you ofer py der bolice und you
go to der lockoop."

The hoodlum made no move to return the money, but continued to struggle
wildly. With a firm hold on each ankle, Carl laid back and pulled for
all he was worth; but the thief had caught hold of something inside and
all Carl's pulling didn't get him an inch toward the alley.

While the whole matter was at a deadlock, the thief half in half out of
the shed, and Carl tugging fruitlessly, the young sailor appeared at
the end of the alley. Taking quick note of the situation at the shed,
he gave a yell and bore down in that direction.

"Well, strike me lucky, old ship," cried the young tar, "this is my
busy day and no mistake. Is that the duffing son of a flounder that got
away with my wad?"

"He iss der feller, Verral," panted Carl. "He don'd vant to come out
oof der vood shet."

"Hang onto his pins, matey," was the answer, "and I'll fix him."

The sailor pushed his hands through the hole, grabbed the hoodlum by
the throat, and exerted a steady pressure.

This manoeuvre was successful. Half strangled, the thief's clutching
fingers relaxed their hold, and the sailor and Carl, between them,
managed to drag him back into the alley.

"Now, you pirate," cried the sailor, dropping down on the captive,
"where's that money? That was a raw play you made and you might have
pulled it off if it hadn't been for my mate, here. D'you want to go
below, in irons? Where's the roll?"

"Look in his bocket vonce," suggested Carl.

"I'll kill you fer dis!" fumed the hoodlum.

"Stow that!" growled the sailor. "I've a knife at the end of my
lanyard, but there's nothing about this that calls for cold steel.
Drop down on his feet, Carl, and that will hold him steady while I go
through his clothes."

While the Dutch boy sat on the hoodlum's feet, the sailor was able
to push his hands into the thief's pockets. The roll was found and
appropriated, and both boys leaped up.

The hoodlum floundered erect.

"I'll git even fer dis!" he scowled. "Yous can't run in dat kind of a
play on Nifty Perkins an' make it stick."

"Bear away!" cried the sailor angrily. "Maybe that'll help you," and he
gave the villainous scoundrel a kick that sent him two yards on his way
toward the street.

The hoodlum turned to shake his fist, and mutter a threat, then started
off at a run. When he reached the street, the rest of his pals joined
him. For a time they hung about the alley entrance, apparently trying
to make up their minds whether it would be wise to attack the sailor
and Carl in force.

"Donnervetter!" cried Carl. "Dot looks like a shance for some
scrappings. I don'd vas looking for drouple, aber you bed somet'ing for
nodding dot I don'd dodge any. Come along mit yourseluf, Verral! Led's
gif dem fellers Hail Golumby."

"Cut away!" shouted the young sailor. "The swabs that ran foul of me
bolted as soon as you crossed that other chap's hawse. I'd like to
square my score with them."

But the hoodlums did not wait. Carl and the sailor looked altogether
too war-like. By the time the two boys reached the end of the alley,
the street rowdies had taken to their heels.

"A jolly fine lot they are!" cried the sailor contemptuously. "You
saved my roll for me, Carl. Haven't had time to shake your hand before,
but I can do it now to the king's taste. Your flipper, mate!"

Carl gripped the sailor's hand.

"Vat a surbrise it iss!" he exclaimed. "I don'd haf time to say mooch
aboudt dot, eider, aber ven I heardt you singing mit yourself, und
looked oudt oof der vinder und saw dot you vas Tick Verral, I ketched
my breat' a gouple oof times. Vere you come from, Tick?"

"From Denver, messmate," answered Dick Ferral. "My uncle supplies me
with plenty of money, but just the same I'd hate to lose that roll. He
made me a present of it when I started for Quebec. But where's my old
raggie, Motor Matt? I stopped off here in Chicago just to see him. Got
his address from the Lestrange automobile people, and I'm fair hungry
to grip his fin, once more. I'll never forget what Matt King did for
me--and my uncle won't, either."

"He don'd vas in Chicago schust now, Tick," said Carl. "He vill be
pack in two or dree tays, meppy. Anyhow, oof he don'd come pack py
do-morrow, meppy ve go oudt vere he iss, und see him? Vat you t'ink oof
dot?"

Dick Ferral's disappointment was keen, and he showed it plainly.

"How far is he from here, Carl?" he asked.

"Only a leedle vays. It iss in a blace vat dey call Sout' Chicago."

"What's Matt doing out there?"

"Vell, ve hat some ructions oudt dere--a mighdy high olt time, you bed
you. Look at here vonce. Ven you read somet'ing, den you vill know
more."

Carl pulled a newspaper out of his pocket and held it under Ferral's
eyes, indicating a certain paragraph with his finger.

What Ferral read was this:

"For Sale--The practicable air ship, Hawk, fully equipped with gasoline
motor, rudders, propellers, and almost new gas bag. Apply to Chief of
Police, South Chicago, Illinois."



CHAPTER II.

A TRAP.


"Well, sink me!" muttered Dick Ferral, staring at the newspaper
paragraph. "Have they really got so they can navigate the air like they
do the water? I've heard of such things, but I didn't know they'd made
a success of them."

Carl threw back his shoulders and puffed out his chest.

"Vell, Modor Matt und me ve haf sailed der sky mit der air ship," said
he. "Matt sailed in der Hawk, und I sailed in der Eagle. Ditn't you
hear about dot? Vy, it vas in der bapers."

"I haven't looked at a paper for a week," returned Ferral curiously.
"How did you and Matt happen to go up in an air ship?"

"It vas like dis, Tick. Matt und me vas oudt peyond Sout' Chicago
taking some spins in a pubble, ven along comes a runavay air ship,
und----"

"A runaway air ship?" interrupted Ferral incredulously. "Tell that to
the marines, Carl!"

"Dot's righdt," insisted Carl. "Der air ship vas running avay mit two
fellers vat don'd know how to use him, see? Matt und me shtopped it
mit a rope vat vas tragging on der groundt, und der rope proke avay
und der air ship vent on, aber vone oof der fellers in der car tropped
somet'ing oudt oof his bocket, vich Matt und I picked oop. Vell, dot
roll oof bapers pelonged mit anoder feller vat hat hat dem shtolen, und
ve hat a mighdy oxciding time gedding dem pack. Matt vas carried off
in der air ship to a svamp in Intiana, und I followed him dere in der
Eagle, und Matt turned der tables on der fellers vat run avay mit him,
und come pack mit two oof der roppers."[A]

[A] See No. 9 of the MOTOR STORIES, entitled, "Motor Matt's Air-Ship;
or, The Rival Inventors."

"Well, keelhaul me!" exclaimed Ferral. "I'd give my eyeteeth to be able
to take a sail in an air ship. How much do they want for this one?"

His hand wandered to his pocket, where he had replaced the roll of
money.

"Dey vant so mooch as dey can ged," said Carl.

"Why is the Chief of Police of South Chicago selling it?"

"Prady, der feller vat owned it, vas a t'ief. Some oof vat he shtole
vas prought pack by Matt, und der air ship iss going to be soldt to pay
a leedle to some oof der odders vat don'd ged der goots pack."

"What's Matt doing?"

"He shows der air ship off to fellers vat come to see how it vorks. He
is heluping der bolice, und dey gif him den tollars a day for flying
aroundt mit it."

"Strike me lucky!" exclaimed the impulsive Ferral, slapping Carl on the
shoulder, "do you think two thousand plunks would buy the craft, Carl?"

"Nix, Verrai, I don'd. Oof two t'ousandt vouldt puy her, den Matt vould
haf owned her pefore now. He vants der Hawk vorse as anypody you efer
see."

"Couldn't we rake up enough between us to buy her?" cried Ferral. "If
Matt knows about her, and if she'll sail successfully, I wouldn't like
anything better than to go from Chicago to Quebec by the air-ship
route. What a high old jinks that would be!"

"Pully!" exclaimed Carl, as highly elated over the prospect as was
Ferral. "King und Verral, oof der Air-ship Limidet Line! Ach, vat a
habbiness oof it couldt come oudt like dot."

"King, Ferral & Pretzel," said Ferral. "You'll be in on the deal, Carl."

"Fife tollars' vort," returned Carl. "Dot's all der money vat I got."

"We'll let you in on the deal just to have you along. Matt will be
captain, I'll be mate, and you'll be the crew."

"Py shinks," chuckled Carl, "I vould make a fine crew."

"Does the Hawk handle easily?"

"So easy as I can't dell! You pull a t'ing und she goes oop, den you
pull anoder t'ing und she comes down, und you viggle her aroundt
mit some more t'ing--I don'd know vat. Aber Matt can vork her so
shlick as nodding. Say, Verral, Matt can make dot air ship turn some
handt-shprings in der cloudts, und----"

"Avast there, Carl! I'll bet Matt can handle the craft, all right, even
if he can't make her do any hand-springs. Do you suppose she'll be sold
before we get out to South Chicago?"

"Vell, I hope nod. Meppy ve go righdt avay, hey?"

"Sure! The quicker we go, the more chance we will have to get the
Hawk. If we----" The boys had been walking slowly back to the boarding
house, and Ferral suddenly broke off his words and came to a halt. "Oh,
hang it," he went on, "I'm due for a sail on the lake at one o'clock.
Merrick, a nice chap I met on the train coming from Denver, invited me
to go with him, and I said I'd meet him across the Lake Street viaduct
right after dinner. I hate to cut away from Merrick like that."

"Vy nod ged him to sail us as near Sout' Chicago as he can go?"
suggested Carl. "Den meppy ve ged off der poat und dake der shdreed
car?"

"Right-o!" cried Ferral. "That's what we'll do. How long before you can
be ready, Carl?"

"Schust so kevick as I can go up py my room und ged dot fife tollars
oudt oof der pureau trawer."

"That's the ticket! But you don't need any money, old ship, while
you're with me. I've got plenty for the two of us."

"Anyvay, Tick, I got to vash oop a leedle, und prush my clothes----"

"So've I. Those swabs handled me a bit rough, although they didn't
leave many marks on me."

Ferral was completely carried away with the idea of buying the air
ship, and he could talk of nothing else while he and Carl were
smoothing the kinks out of their personal appearance, and riding
downtown on the car.

It was nearly one o'clock and they did not have any time to stop at a
restaurant for dinner. But neither of the lads thought of anything to
eat--and that was what Carl had a habit of thinking of at the right
time, and between times, so it will be understood how the prospect of
securing the air ship dazzled him.

A little sailing craft was bumping against the wharf at the lake end
of the viaduct. Although a small boat, yet she had a cuddy forward,
a cockpit aft, and was as spick and span as snow-white canvas, clean
decks, and polished brasswork could make her.

A young fellow, rather loudly dressed, was leaning against one of the
posts to which the sailboat was moored. He was smoking a cigarette,
and, at sight of Ferral, ran up to him with outstretched hand.

"Ahoy, my gay sailorman!" he cried. "I had a kind of hunch that you'd
go back on me, and wouldn't show up."

"Whenever I say I'll do a thing," replied Ferral, catching the other's
hand heartily, "I lay my course in that direction. But I'm in a rush
to get to South Chicago. Do you suppose you can take us somewhere near
there?"

"Take you anywhere, old chap," returned the other.

Ferral presented Carl. The Dutch lad was not very much taken with
Ferral's friend. There was something about him that rubbed Carl's fur
the wrong way. However, Carl did not pay much attention to this vague
distrust. He was thinking of the Hawk, and hoping that he and Ferral
would reach South Chicago in time to buy the air ship before she was
sold to anybody else.

Carl, more than anyone else, knew how Motor Matt was longing to own
the Hawk, and how badly disappointed he was to think he had not the
money to buy her. Dick Ferral had dropped into the affair at just the
right time.

The name of the sailboat was the _Christina_, and her skipper was a
heavy-jawed Norwegian by the name of Erickson. There was something
about Captain Erickson that Carl did not like, and the Swede who
helped the skipper sail the _Christina_ did not appear to any better
advantage. Yet the idea of buying the air ship had put Carl's nerves in
a twitter, and he gave little heed to his vague suspicions.

Merrick, Ferral and Carl got aboard the _Christina_, the Swede cast
off the bow moorings, the skipper hauled up the mainsail and jib, and
then the Swede threw on the stern rope and jumped aboard. There was a
fine breeze, and the little boat tripped out through the harbor in the
direction of the government pier.

Ferral and Carl went forward and seated themselves on the top of the
cabin. Merrick lingered in the cockpit to talk with Erickson, who had
the wheel. The Swede was farther forward, setting another of the jibs.

"How long you knowed dot Merrick feller, Tick?" queried Carl.

"About a day and a half. Why?"

"His looks don'd make some hits mit me; und I don'd like der Norvegian
or der Svede, neider."

Ferral laughed.

"Why, Carl," said he, "you can't smoke a fellow's roll on such a short
acquaintance."

"I ged some hunches ven I see vat I don'd like, und I got all kindts
oof hunches, righdt now, dot somet'ing is crooked. Meppy dot Merrick
feller shmokes your roll--der vone vat you got in your bocket."

"Belay, Carl! You'll like Merrick after you know him a little better.
I'll admit he's not exactly my style, but he's no beachcomber. If
anything happened, why, there's two of us to three of them, and we
could put up a pretty stiff set-to. But South Chicago and the Hawk loom
pretty large in my glass, just now, and I haven't got time to think of
much of anything else."

Just at that moment a doubled-up form pushed out of the cuddy into the
cockpit. As the form straightened, and turned around so as to face
forward, Carl went off the cabin at a jump and gave a yell.

"Prady!" he gasped; "Prady, or I vas a geezer!"



CHAPTER III.

OVERBOARD.


Carl's yell drew the attention of all those on the boat. Brady leaned
over the top of the cabin and laughed huskily. Merrick dropped his mask
and joined triumphantly in Brady's laugh. The Norwegian and the Swede
stared blankly for a minute, and then went stolidly on about their work.

"Brady!" muttered Ferral, squaring around on the cabin so as to get a
good look at the man in the cockpit. "Is he the swab that carried Matt
off in the air ship, Carl?"

"Sure he iss der feller!" averred Carl. "I vould know him any blace.
Ach, himmelblitzen, I toldt you I hat some hunches, Verral!"

"I've made a monkey's fist out of this," growled Ferral, "and I'm a
Fiji if I can understand the thing yet. The way this Brady falls afoul
of us don't look like a happenchance, and yet I can't make anything
else out of it. Ahoy, there, Merrick! Stow that grinning and give me
the lay of this business."

"Merrick's real name is Brady," explained the outlaw in the
cockpit--and outlaw he was, having been a fugitive from justice ever
since Matt had navigated the Hawk away from the swamp and into South
Chicago. "He's my son, Hector, Jr., and I'm proud of the way he worked
this deal," Brady continued, still laughing as though the affair was a
huge joke.

Ferral was bewildered.

"You're a thief, are you," said he, struggling to get the matter clear
in his head, "and the fellow who met me on the train, and said his name
was Merrick, is your son?"

"That's the how of it," returned Brady.

"Then I'm free to say," cried Ferral, "that I don't like the how of it.
'Bout ship and takes us back to the wharf. I'm a bit particular about
the company I keep."

"Well, you've got a picture of us letting you go after we've been to
all the trouble to get you here. We'll put you ashore somewhere to the
north, my bantam, but before we do that we'll frisk you for that bundle
of long green you've got in your pocket. The Hawk's for sale, and I'm
counting on buying her."

The more Carl heard and saw, the more puzzled he became. It didn't seem
like an accident the way Ferral had met Brady, Jr., on the train, and
yet the two Bradys must have taken a long look ahead in order to bring
about the situation in which Ferral and Carl now found themselves.
Their plots, however, had centred about Ferral, and Carl had merely
blundered into them.

"I'll hear from you, Merrick," said Ferral sharply. "What have you got
to say about this?"

The _Christina_ had passed through the break in the government pier
and was breasting the heavier waves in the open lake. The pier behind
was rapidly receding. There were a score of fishermen on the piles,
but they had become mere dots, almost out of sight and entirely out of
hearing.

Carl looked around for a glimpse of some other boat. There was a smudge
of smoke from a steamer, off on the watery horizon to eastward, and
well to the south could be seen the upper sails of a schooner, but
these were the only craft in sight, and they were too far away for any
practical benefit.

"There's nothing much to say," answered Hector, Jr., as calmly as
though he had been talking about the weather. "I was running a hand
book on the Denver races, but got a wire from dad that he was in
trouble. You happened to be on the same train that brought me to
Chicago, and when you flashed that roll on me, and I remembered that I
was nearly strapped and that dad needed money, I figured on how I could
annex such a nice fat wad of the long green. You wouldn't play cards,
you wouldn't drink, and there wasn't anything else I could do but make
this sort of a play. I put dad next as soon as I could get to him. He
didn't think you'd show up to take the sail, but I told him that you
had said you would, and that I believed you were the sort of a fool who
always did what you said. I reckon I was right, eh, dad?" and Hector,
Jr., came forward and leaned over the top of the cabin beside his
worthy father.

"Bright boy, son," said the elder scoundrel approvingly. "We've got
you, younker," went on Brady, Sr., again facing Ferral. "We're too far
from land for you to swim ashore, and I'm giving you credit for too
much sense to try a trick like that. It was a bit of a surprise to me
to see that Dutchman trailing along after you, but"--and here a black
scowl crept over the man's face--"I've got a bone to pick with him and
that meddling whelp, Motor Matt. The Dutchman won't get away from us so
easily as you will, Ferral, I can promise you that. And before Motor
Matt is many days older, I'll show him what it means to cross Brady's
path."

Hector Brady, like his son, was a fair-spoken villain, but none the
less dangerous for all that. As he ceased talking, he started to step
from the cockpit to the aisle of deck between the cabin top and the
sailboat's side.

"'Vast, there!" roared Ferral, twitching at the lanyard about his neck
and bringing out a sheath knife. "Keep your offing, both you sharks, or
you'll find a knife between your ribs. You've got us out in the lake,
but you haven't my money yet, and you're not going to cut up rough with
my raggie here. I got him into this mess, and I'm going to see him out
of it."

A boat hook, dropped by the skipper when he was pushing the nose of the
boat away from the pier, lay on the deck close to Carl's feet. He bent
down and picked it up.

"Oof he makes some foolishness mit me," averred Carl, "you bed my life
I vill haf somet'ing to say aboudt dot meinseluf. I had some hunches
all der time," he harped ruefully.

Brady, Sr., did not come out of the cockpit just then. "There are four
of us against you," said he sternly, "and if you've got as much sense
as I give you credit for, you'll not resist. All I want of you, Ferral,
is your money. If what you told my son is true, your uncle is a rich
man. He'll give you another roll for the asking and never miss it. Are
you a pard of King's?"

"I'm all that," declared Ferral. "I owe Motor Matt a debt I can never
repay."

"And I owe him one I'm going to repay," said Brady, with a black look.
"He stole my air ship from me, and I've got to buy it back. It's no
more than justice that I take part of the money from you--if you're
such a good pal of King's. I didn't think, any more than Hector, that
the thing was going to fall out like this, but my luck must be taking a
turn for the better."

"Skipper," shouted Ferral, looking at the Norwegian over the heads of
the two Bradys, "put about and take us ashore! These scoundrels are
trying to rob me."

The skipper, however, only returned a stolid look.

"You'll be hauled over the coals for this!" threatened Ferral.

Carl had been on the point of saying something, but off toward the west
and south, over the stern of the sailboat, he beheld an object that
amazed him and aroused a faint hope.

The object seemed to hang in the sky like a black cylinder. It was
the Hawk, there could be no possible doubt about that, but was the
Hawk sailing out over the lake or merely traveling over the City of
Chicago? So far away was it that Carl could not tell whether it was
coming or going. Could it be possible that Motor Matt was bringing
the air ship in the direction of the _Christina_? It seemed too much
of a coincidence to be true, and yet it was hardly stranger than the
circumstances which had enveloped Ferral in the net spread by the two
Bradys.

Carl, although the discovery of the air ship stretched his nerves to
tightest tension and filled him with fluttering hope, kept the news
of his discovery to himself. If the Hawk was really heading lakeward,
Brady, if he knew it, might realize the possibilities of escape which
it would afford the two boys and take measures to keep the _Christina_
away from the air ship.

"No one is going to be hauled over the coals, Ferral," said Brady.
"When we put you ashore, it will be in a place from which it will take
you a good long while to get back to Chicago. Before you get back, I'll
have a man buy the Hawk, and I and my friends will make a quick getaway
to parts unknown. The Hawk means liberty for me, for I can't dodge
around on the ground and keep clear of the police much longer. Are you
going to hand that money over, or have we got to take it away from you?"

Shifting his sheath knife to his left hand, Ferral drew the roll of
bills from his pocket and stowed it snugly in the breast of his blue
shirt.

"If you get this money you'll have to take it," said he defiantly, "and
if that two-faced sea cook you say is your son comes too close to me,
I'll get him on the point of this dirk."

Covertly, Carl was watching the round swaying speck in the heavens.
That it was round, proved that he was looking toward the end of the
gas bag, which, seen lengthwise, would have been of cigar-shaped
proportions; and the fact that the object was growing larger by swift
degrees, proved that it was coming closer to the sailboat.

"Enough of this foolishness," scowled Brady, drawing a revolver and
leveling it at Ferral over the end of the cabin. "Take that money out
of your shirt and throw it this way. If you make a miss throw and land
it in the lake, I'll plug you for that just as quick as I would for not
throwing it at all. It's up to you," he added warningly, "and I'm not
going to wait all day."

Carl, in the moment of silence that intervened, suddenly hurled the
boat hook with all his strength. The move was entirely unexpected on
Brady's part, and he was caught unawares. The handle of the hook struck
his arm a violent blow, knocking the weapon out of his fingers and
dropping it overboard.

A yell of rage went up from Brady.

"Kick off your shoes, Tick," whispered Carl excitedly. "Ven I gif der
vort, chump indo der lake. I know vat I know, und I dell you it vas all
righdt. Do schust vat I say, aber don'd say somet'ing."

The presence of the air ship was unknown to everyone on the sailboat
except Carl. To Ferral it looked like suicide to jump into the lake,
with no other boat anywhere in sight.

"I'll kill you for that!" bawled Brady to Carl.

The Dutch boy paid no attention. He had already kicked off his shoes
and pulled off his coat. Holding his coat in his hand, he leaped to the
top of the cabin and began waving it frantically.

The Bradys, the Norwegian and the Swede swept the surface of the lake
with their eyes. Even then their glances fell too low to give them a
glimpse of the Hawk.

Ferral had got rid of his shoes, although he was still reluctant about
taking to the water. Carl did not give him much time to consider the
matter, but grabbed him by the arm and, when the little craft heeled to
a strong gust of wind, pulled him overboard.



CHAPTER IV.

RESCUED.


All those on the _Christina_ were astounded at the move made by the two
boys.

"Leave 'em in the water for a while!" shouted Brady, Sr. "I guess
that'll take the ginger out of 'em. Don't be in any hurry, captain,
about turning around."

The captain could not have turned very quickly, even if he had wanted
to. With all sail set, the _Christina_ was driving through the water at
race-horse speed. It would take time, and she would inevitably have to
get a long way from the boys before she could be put about.

Both Carl and Ferral were good swimmers and had little difficulty in
keeping themselves afloat, hampered though they were with their wet
clothing.

"We're in for it now, Carl!" gurgled Ferral. "That sailboat will put
about and we'll be hauled aboard--then that swab of a Brady will have
us just where he wants us." Ferral rose in the water, shook his head
to clear his eyes, and peered after the _Christina_. "They're coming
around now," he added.

"Led dem come aroundt all vat dey blease," sputtered Carl; "Matt vill
pull us oudt oof der vet pefore dey ged here."

"Matt?" echoed Ferral.

"Look oferheadt vonce, Tick."

Ferral took a look upward. Rushing toward that part of the lake and
swooping downward like a huge bird was an air ship. The strange craft
was almost upon him and Carl. Two men were leaning over the guard rail
of the car on each side; both held coiled ropes in their hands, and one
of them was shouting instructions to Matt, who was in charge of the
motor.

The _Christina_ was forging along on the back track, the Bradys well
forward and clinging to ropes while they watched the manoeuvres of the
Hawk. It must have been apparent to them that the Hawk would pick up
the boys before the _Christina_ could come anywhere near them.

Splash! splash!

Two ropes dropped in the water just as the Hawk, with a graceful,
gliding motion, came to an even keel some fifteen or twenty feet above
the surface of the lake. The whirling propeller lessened its speed and
the air ship hovered over the water.

"Grab the ropes!" shouted a voice from the Hawk's car.

It was a useless suggestion, for the ropes had already been caught.

"Can you climb up?" called one of the men. "It isn't safe to bring the
air ship any closer to the water."

Climbing the rope was easy for Ferral. Hand over hand he lifted himself
upward, was caught by the man and pulled over the rail and into the
car. But Carl was no sailor, and every time he tried to climb the rope
he slid back into the water again.

"Hang hard," shouted the man in the car, "and we'll pull you up."

The _Christina_, by then, was quite close. Carl had hardly been lifted
clear of the water before the crack of a revolver rang out.

Brady, Jr., had passed his own revolver to his father, and the latter
was pecking away at Carl as he gyrated under the car of the air ship.

"Keep a firm hold on that rope!" cried the man in the car. "We've got
to ascend and get away from that sailboat."

The nose of the Hawk tilted sharply upward, the propeller whirred at
steadily increasing speed, and the air ship bore swiftly away with the
dripping form of the Dutch boy swinging underneath.

Crack! crack! came the reports from Brady's revolver.

Carl, however, was not a good target, and, besides, Brady had to fire
from the pitching deck of the _Christina_. All the bullets flew wide,
and before Brady could fire more than three shots the air ship was out
of range.

The Dutch boy's position was in no wise comfortable for his nerves.
The Hawk was steadily mounting toward the clouds, and Carl was swaying
underneath like a pendulum. As soon as the air ship was out of pistol
range of the _Christina_, however, hands were again laid on the rope
and Carl was jerked up to the car and pulled to safety.

"Well, great spark plugs!" cried the voice of Motor Matt. "Of all the
brain twisters I ever ran up against, this takes the banner! Where did
you come from, Dick? And how does it happen Carl is with you?"

Matt was in a chair at one end of the open space in the middle of the
car, his hands on the levers that worked the mechanism and controlled
the motor.

Ferral, wet as a drowned rat, was sitting up on the floor of the car,
his back against the rail. Across from him was Carl. In the other end
of the car were the other two passengers. One of these wore the uniform
of a policeman.

Ferral's novel situation filled him with wonder. His eyes were darting
all around him, above at the swelling gas bag, around him at the
machinery, the propeller, the rudder and space, and below him at the
heaving expanse of water.

"Well, strike me lucky," he breathed, "but all this seems like a dream.
Am I doing a caulk, and imagining I'm wide awake? If I am, pinch me,
somebody."

"You're not asleep, old chap," laughed Matt, "if that's what you mean
by 'doing a caulk.' Where did you come from?"

"Denver. I'm on my way to Quebec. Heard you were anchored in Chicago
and stopped off there to see you. Couldn't find you at home, but I did
find Carl."

"How in the world did you and Carl happen to be on that sailboat?" went
on Matt. "And why did you jump overboard?"

"Carl pulled me overboard," replied Ferral.

"It vas healthier for us in der vater dan it vas on der poat," put in
Carl, slapping at his wet clothes. "Aber I vouldn't haf pulled Verral
oferboardt oof I hatn't seen der Hawk skyhootin' along toward us. Ach,
dot vas pully! How you habben to be vere you vas schust ven ve needet
you, bard?"

"Mr. Jameson"--and Matt nodded toward the passenger forward with the
officer--"is thinking of buying the Hawk, but he wanted to try her out
with a good long flight and to see if she would be perfectly safe over
water. So we sailed over Chicago and headed into the lake. We saw that
sailboat, but didn't pay much attention to her until Harris saw some
one waving something on her deck. Then, thinking we were being hailed,
we laid a course for her. As we came closer, we saw two persons jump
into the water. That was our cue to get closer to the lake and pick you
up. But what was the matter on that boat? You haven't told me yet."

Ferral ran one hand into the front of his shirt and fished out his
water-soaked roll of greenbacks.

"That's what caused the trouble," said he. "Brady wanted the money."

"Brady?" Motor Matt looked questioningly at Carl.

"Yah, so," spoke up Carl. "It iss der same Prady vat you hat sooch a
time mit, ofer py Villoughpy's svamp."

"What do you think of that, Harris?" cried Matt, looking at the officer.

"If Brady is on that boat," returned Harris, showing a good deal of
excitement, "we ought to tip somebody off and have him captured."

"We'll turn back toward Chicago," said Matt. "Meantime, Carl, you and
Dick tell us all about how you got into that fix. Hurry up with the
yarn. If we're to do anything toward capturing Brady, we haven't much
time to lose."

Carl and Ferral went over their recent experiences. Matt's wonder
grew as he listened. It was strange the way events had fallen
out and brought the three chums together just in time to avert a
robbery--perhaps a tragedy.

"It's main queer, mate, don't you think?" queried Ferral, when the
details had all been given.

"Queerest thing I ever heard of!" avowed Harris. "I knew Brady had a
son, but I hadn't a notion where he was, or what he was doing. Looks as
though young Brady was a chip off the old block."

"It's a lesson for me," remarked Ferral ruefully, "never to pick up a
fellow on his own showing. The queerest part of the whole business was
my meeting young Brady on the train, walking right into the trap he had
set for me and his father was going to help him spring, and towing Carl
along."

"We're coming close to the shore, King," called Jameson.

Matt stole a look over the side.

"Take out your notebook and pencil, Harris," said he, drawing back,
"and write a note. Address the memorandum to the police department
and say that Hector Brady and his son are off the government pier in
a sailboat called the _Christina_, and that if the scoundrels are
captured, a tug better put off at once."

Harris scribbled the note. When it was finished, Matt had him tie the
small sheet of paper around a bolt taken from the tool box.

"We'll fly low over the park near the Art building," said Matt, "and
you yell to the first policeman you see, Harris, and drop the note."

There was no need of yelling to attract anybody's attention in the
park, for every person was looking upward at the air ship.

Harris was not long in sighting an officer, and his own uniform
demanded the officer's respectful attention.

The note was dropped, and those in the air ship could see the policeman
pick it up, untie the sheet of paper and read the communication.

Before the Hawk got out of sight of the park, Matt and the rest had the
satisfaction of seeing the policeman wave his hand to signify that he
understood, and then hurry off toward the lake.

"I guess that will cook Brady's goose for him," muttered Harris
complacently.

"Are you satisfied with the Hawk, Mr. Jameson?" inquired Matt.

"I never imagined that an air ship had been invented which could be
manoeuvred as you have manoeuvred this one," said Jameson. "I'm so well
satisfied with the Hawk that I will give three thousand for her."

Carl gave a gasp and stared at Ferral, only to find that Ferral was
already looking at him.

Were Matt and Ferral to lose the air ship, after all?



CHAPTER V.

BUYING THE "HAWK."


"An air ship's a hard thing to sell," observed Harris; "about as hard,
I should say, as a white elephant. Your offer, Jameson, is the best one
we've had, so far, and I shouldn't wonder if you'd get the Hawk. What
are you going to use her for?"

"For a pleasure craft," was the answer. "I'm a member of the Aëro Club
and I'm tired of just plain ballooning. I want to climb around through
the air wherever I take a notion, and not wherever the winds choose to
carry me."

"You won't make any mistake buying the Hawk at three thousand," said
Matt, a disappointed look on his face. "If I had that much to spare,
Mr. Jameson, you'd never get her."

"Vell, Matt," spoke up Carl, "oof you vant somepody to helup you oudt
mit more money, vy----"

Just then Carl caught an expressive look shot at him by Dick. The
sailor shook his head. Carl couldn't understand why he was saying more
than he ought to, but bit off his words.

Dick felt sure that if Jameson knew there was some one else to bid
over him, he would increase his bid, and run it up until it would be
impossible for Matt and Dick to consider the purchase.

Jameson was undoubtedly a man of wealth, and able to go any length in
gratifying his hobby for air ships. Matt, of course, did not know what
Ferral and Carl had at the back of their heads, for no mention had yet
been made of Ferral's desire to joint Matt in the purchase of the air
ship.

The return to South Chicago was quickly made, the wind being behind the
Hawk and helping her onward. The aëronauts descended at Brady's old
balloon house, in a swamp field in the outskirts of South Chicago. Two
police officers were constantly on guard at the balloon house to keep
anyone from tampering with the air ship.

After the craft had been safely stowed in its quarters, Matt, Carl,
Ferral, Harris, and Jameson set off toward town.

Carl and Ferral were in a sorry plight and in urgent need of dry
clothes and hats and shoes, but they were not thinking of their own
comfort. The danger of losing the air ship was causing them a vast
amount of worry.

"I'll take you fellows to a clothing store," said Matt, as they came
into the town, "and fix you out so you'll look respectable. Everybody
is looking at you as though you were a couple of freaks."

"Belay that--for awhile," returned Ferral. "Take us to a hotel, or
anywhere else where we can have a talk."

"You can talk better if you're in dry clothes," said Matt.

"Don'd you t'ink dot for a minid," palpitated Carl, with an
apprehensive look at Jameson.

The signs were plain enough to Matt that Ferral and Carl had something
they wanted to tell him. At the place where they left Harris to pursue
his way to police headquarters, Jameson likewise broke away.

"You'll hear from me sometime this afternoon, Harris," said Jameson,
"and when I come around I'll bring a certified check for three thousand
with me."

"You'll have to deal with the chief," answered Harris, "and he's acting
under instructions from the court. I suppose your offer will take the
Hawk, but I can't make any promises."

"People are not falling over themselves to buy the air ship," laughed
Jameson, "and I guess my offer is the best one you'll ever get. See you
later."

Matt took his chums to the hotel at which he had been stopping while in
South Chicago. As soon as Carl and Ferral got inside the hotel office,
they grabbed hold of Matt and hustled him toward some chairs in a
corner of the room where they could have a private talk.

"You fellows have got something on your minds," laughed Matt. "I've
seen that for quite a while. What is it?"

"How'd you like to own the Hawk yourself, mate?" asked Ferral.

"I'd like it fine," answered Matt, his gray eyes brightening. "If I had
more money than I knew what to do with, I'd buy the Hawk just to play
with it."

"Jameson offers three thousand," went on Ferral. "If you and I offered
thirty-five hundred, and hustled the deal right through before Jameson
had a chance to overbid us, we'd get the old flugee, eh?"

"Sure!" said Matt. "But where's the thirty-five hundred to come from?"

"Well, I've got two thousand damp dollars in this roll. If you can
scrape up the other fifteen hundred, pard, we'll go halvers on the buy
and own the Hawk together."

Matt started forward in his chair. No one knew how Motor Matt longed
to own that air ship. Carl thought he knew, but he didn't. It was a
passion with Matt, almost a mania, but he had held it under control by
his iron will.

Matt had his way to make in the world, and what little money he had in
the bank had come by hard knocks. Would it be wise to put it into such
a thing as an air ship?

"You've got a wealthy uncle, Dick," said the young motorist, "and I
don't suppose he cares a picayune what you do with your money. But it's
different with me. I've got to invest what little capital I have where
it will bring returns."

"It vill pring redurns oof you pud der money in der air ship, Matt,"
fluttered Carl. "You can make ascensions at shtate fairs, und a lod oof
t'ings like dot."

"And maybe we can sell the Hawk, when we are through with her," put in
Ferral, "to the United States government for a whole lot more than we
paid for her.

"Und oof der gofermendt don'd vant der Hawk," said Carl, "den meppy you
can sell her py some feller like Chameson for more as you pay."

"Keelhaul me!" exclaimed Ferral, struck by a sudden thought. "They're
offering all kinds of prizes now for air-ship flights. We can get into
some of them, mate, and make more money than we ever dreamed of! Come,
old ship! Don't look as though you'd lost half a sovereign and found a
sixpence. Say the word and we'll go navigating the sky for all there
is in it. It's a first-chop game, you take it from me."

"I thought you were going to Quebec?" queried Matt, with a twinkle in
his eyes.

"That's where I was bound for, but it makes no odds how long it takes
me to get to the place. Besides, when I'm ready to pull out for the
River St. Lawrence and the gulf, why can't I sail there in the Hawk?"

Matt was thoughtful. It was not his habit to jump into any new
undertaking blindly, and there was something mighty alluring about this
air-ship proposition.

"I'll have to give up my job with the Lestrange people," said he, "and
there's a future to that."

"Future?" repeated Ferral. "Aye, mate, there's a prospect that you'll
go into a smash, one of these days, and break your neck. Racing an
automobile is risky business."

"Maybe it's not so dangerous as running an air ship, at that," laughed
the young motorist.

"Vell, anyhow," said Carl, "you don'd make some collisions in a air
ship oxcept mit der clouds. Air ships ain'd so blendy like pubbles."

"I'll go you, Dick!" cried Matt suddenly, reaching out his hand to grab
Ferral's. "But," he added, "it will have to be an even thing. You put
in seventeen hundred and fifty and I'll put in the same amount. That
will make each of us a half owner."

"Three times three and a tiger!" exulted Ferral, pulling the roll
of bills out of his pocket and counting off the water-soaked notes.
"There's your seventeen hundred and fifty, matey," and he thrust the
money into his chum's hand; "now, slant away for the place where you
pay it over, and be sure you get ahead of Jameson."

"There's plenty of time for that," answered Matt, smiling at Ferral's
impatience. "Jameson said he would happen in on the chief sometime
during the afternoon. Why, it wasn't more than a half hour ago that we
left him."

"A whole lod oof t'ings can habben in haluf oof an hour," said Carl.
"Go on, bard, und finish oop der teal. I von't be easy in my mindt
ondil I know dot you und Ferral own der Hawk. Himmelblitzen, vat a
habbiness dot vill be. Captain Matt, oof you blease, oof der air ship
Hawk, sailing from eferyvere und going der same blace. Hoop-a-la! I vas
so gay mit meinseluf as I don'd know. Be jeerful, be jeerful!"

With that, Carl jumped up and began a war dance around the office. He
looked like a crazy man, shoeless and hatless, and with his tow hair
standing out all over his head like an albino's.

Ferral was every whit as delighted over the prospect as was Carl.
He had to do a little jubilating himself, so he got up and began a
hornpipe.

"I'll get out of here," laughed Matt, starting for the door, "before
you fellows are pinched for escaped lunatics. If I was around, the
officers might nab me, too. Get some decent clothes while I'm away."

With that, he started for the office of the chief of police. On his way
to headquarters, he passed a bank. Just before he reached the bank, he
saw Jameson come hastily out the front door and hurry to a cab that was
waiting beside the walk.

"Police headquarters," Matt heard Jameson call to the driver of the cab.

A suspicion darted through Matt's brain. Jameson, having secured his
certified check, was losing little time putting through his deal for
the Hawk. Had his remark about dropping in on the chief sometime during
afternoon been merely a "bluff"?

There was no other cab in sight, and several long blocks lay between
Matt and the chief's office. Jameson was bound to reach police
headquarters before Matt could possibly arrive there.

For a minute, Matt stood in front of the bank, racking his brains;
then, as a swift counterstroke came to him, he darted across the street
to a corner drug store.



CHAPTER VI.

MATT SCORES AGAINST JAMESON.


What Matt had in mind when he raced across the street was the telephone
booth in the drug store. He would call up the chief on the telephone.

The chief was a good friend of Matt's. In fact, Motor Matt, because of
the plucky and successful work he had done, stood pretty high with the
South Chicago police department.

After a hurried examination of the telephone directory, the young
motorist called up the chief's office.

"Hello!" said he. "Is Chief Raymond there?"

"Yes," some one answered at the other end of the wire. "Want to talk
with him personally?"

"Got to, and right away."

"He's busy just now. Leave your message and I'll see that he gets it."

"Can't. This is important and I'm in the biggest kind of a hurry. Tell
the chief Matt King--Motor Matt--wants a word with him."

"Oh! Is that you, Matt? Why didn't you say so at the start off? This is
Harris. Couldn't you recognize my voice?"

"Is Mr. Jameson there, Harris?"

"He's just gettin' out of a cab, in front--I can see him through the
window."

"Well, please call the chief; I want to talk to him before Jameson gets
a chance."

A low whistle floated along the wire.

"All right," answered Harris.

It seemed to Matt as though he waited in that hot telephone box for an
hour, although it could not have been more than a minute or two. He was
now as eager to get ahead of Jameson in the deal for the Hawk as were
Ferral and Carl.

Finally the chief's voice came over the phone.

"Howdy, Matt. What can I do for you?"

"I want to buy that air ship, chief," answered Matt.

"Great Scott, boy! You haven't any money to throw away, have you?"

"I should say not, but----"

"Well, forget it. You'd have about as much use for that flying machine
as a pig for two tails. Just wait a second--here's Jameson, the fellow
you had out in the Hawk, waiting to talk with me. I'll call you up in a
few----"

"No, wait a minute," cried Matt. "Jameson's got three thousand he's
going to pay for the Hawk. I'll give thirty-five hundred, and put half
the amount in your hands inside of fifteen minutes. The rest will be
here as soon as I can get it from Chicago."

"I'm not going to let you squander your money in any such fool way,"
was the chief's astonishing response. "I've got your best interests too
much at heart, my lad."

"Look here," and Matt's voice took on a steely note, "I'm not so young,
chief, that I don't know what I'm doing. I can see a good many chances
to make money with the Hawk, and if you keep me from getting the air
ship you'll be cutting a big hole in my prospects. Besides, you've got
to sell to the highest bidder, and I'm giving you five hundred more
than Jameson offers. Not only that, but only part of the purchase money
is mine. I've got a partner in the deal, and----"

From a click and a sudden silence on the wire, Matt knew that "central"
had cut him off. Throwing the receiver onto the hooks, he rang the bell
frantically. After two or three minutes, "central" answered him, begged
his pardon for cutting him off, and once more gave him the chief's
office.

Harris answered the phone again.

"Where's the chief, Harris?" asked Matt.

"In his private room, Matt, talking with Jameson," came the officer's
reply.

"Well, I'm coming right over there," said Matt. "Please find out if
the chief will see me when I arrive. You can tell me when I reach
headquarters."

"I guess he'll see you, all right."

Matt entered the big stone building in less than ten minutes.

Harris met him with a wide and wondering grin.

"You've bought something, Matt," said he.

"How do you know?" queried Matt.

"Jameson just left, and he was considerably worked up. He said he
hadn't any idea that you were bidding over him, and that he had stood
ready to offer five thousand for the Hawk before letting the machine
get away from him."

"What did the chief say?"

"Why, that if you didn't show up inside of fifteen minutes, with half
the purchase money, Jameson could have the air ship."

The young motorist drew a long breath of relief.

"Well," said he, "right here is where I deliver the goods."

He walked into the chief's office, and found that official smoking a
cigar.

"Here's the money, chief," said Matt, laying the bills down on the
table. "I can give you a check for the balance, or I'll go to Chicago
and get the cash."

"I suppose you know what you're doing, Matt," returned the chief, "but
I'll be hanged if I do. First off, you'll have to have a place to keep
the Hawk, and you know Brady sold that old balloon house before he
skipped out, and the place is to be pulled down in a few days."

"I've figured out how I can have a light canvas shelter made and carry
it along in the car," said Matt.

"But what are you going to do with the machine?" went on the chief
curiously.

"Give exhibitions at state and county fairs, compete for aëronautical
prizes, perhaps, and after I and my partner have had all the fun we
want to with the Hawk, we'll sell it to the government."

"You're buying a pig in a poke, Matt, but that's your lookout. The Hawk
is yours, and I guess I know you well enough to take your check. When
do you want possession?"

"This afternoon or to-morrow morning."

"Better make it to-morrow morning. It will take this afternoon to get
the necessary papers from the court."

"All right, then. Will you let your officers guard the Hawk until
to-morrow morning?"

"I'll keep two men at the balloon house until you show up there to
claim your property."

"Thank you, chief. Just give me a receipt for that cash and the check
saying the money is in payment for the air ship Hawk and that I'm to
have the necessary papers completing the transfer as soon as you can
get them."

This business formality was quickly carried out, and when Matt left the
chief's office, his Chicago bank account looked as though it had been
sandbagged. But Matt had the chief's agreement in his pocket, and his
heart was light and his hopes buoyant.

Carl and Ferral were waiting for him in the hotel office.

"The Hawk belongs to us, Dick," announced Matt, and both Carl and
Ferral began to rejoice. "We've got to take possession to-morrow----"

"The quicker the better!" cried Ferral.

"What are we going to do with the machine?"

"Do?" gasped Ferral blankly. "Why, fly in it, of course! Navigate the
skies."

"We can't be in the skies all the time. We'll have to come down once in
awhile, for gasoline, if for nothing else, and for gas. Where are we
going to keep the Hawk while she's on the ground?"

"Hitch her to a tree," suggested Ferral. "It's easy enough to find
moorings for such a craft."

"But, if there's a storm, the Hawk will have to be protected."

"Py shinks," muttered Carl, "dere iss more to der pitzness as vat I
t'ought."

Ferral had bought a new outfit of shoes, hats, and clothes for himself
and Carl. Ferral's sailor rig was being dried and pressed, and he had
managed to pick up a sailorman's hat, in lieu of the one he had lost on
the _Christina_.

Matt's logical remarks impressed Ferral quite as much as Carl.

"Well," said he, with a grim laugh, "owning an air ship ain't all beer
and skittles. The best thing for us to do is to keep traveling with it.
At night, we'll berth the thing in some farmer's barn, and we'll spend
the day fanning along through the air."

"There are plenty of barns big enough to house the Hawk," returned
Matt, "but I don't know where you'll find a barn, in the whole
country, with a big enough door to take it in. And when you talk about
traveling, Dick, where'll we go?"

"Oh, anywhere, mate, it's all one to me until I'm ready for Quebec."

"It costs money to travel by air ship. We've got to buy oil and
gasoline, and gas, too, now and then. Wherever we travel, we've got to
have the idea of profit in mind. How about going to New York and hiring
the air ship to some one out on Coney Island?"

"Fine-o!" applauded Ferral. "You're overhauling the right idea, at
last, messmate. I knew we could trust you to do that."

"Pully!" cried Carl. "Ve vill show off der machine at Goney Islandt,
und make so mooch money ve von't know vat to do mit it. Hoop-a-la!"

Just then a bell boy came hurriedly up to Matt.

"You're wanted on the phone," said he. "Police headquarters is callin'
fer you."

Matt and his chums had a distressful feeling that something had gone
wrong with the air-ship deal, and that the chief was calling up to tell
Matt to come back and get his money. All three of them hurried to the
telephone booth.

While Matt was talking, Carl and Ferral hung about the door of the
booth, wrestling morbidly with their doubts and fears.

"The air ship is still ours," laughed Matt, as he came out of the
booth, "but Grove, one of the gang that worked with Brady, and who was
captured and in jail here awaiting trial, has escaped. What's more, the
Chicago police haven't been able to find that sailboat and catch the
Bradys. The chief here thinks Grove has gone to join Hector Brady, and
that----"

Matt paused.

"Go on, mate," urged Ferral.

"And that Carl and I had better look out," finished Matt, "or Brady and
his gang will put us out of the way."

"Dey vill haf more as dey can do keeping oudt oof der vay oof der
bolice deirselufs," said Carl, "to bodder mit us, Matt."

"That's the way I size it up, Carl," returned Matt. "Besides, if Brady
and his gang want to find us, after to-morrow morning, they'll have to
get hold of another air ship."

But, even then, the cunning Brady was engineering a plot which was to
strike Matt and his chums like a bolt from the blue.



CHAPTER VII.

AT THE BALLOON HOUSE.


Late that afternoon Matt and Carl went into Chicago on the train. The
young motorist had to sever his connection with the Lestrange people,
who were the eastern representatives of the Jarrot Automobile Company,
for whom Matt had won the Borden cup during the recent Kansas race.

While Matt was at the office of the Lestrange Company, Carl was to go
to the boarding house, settle their bill, and get their baggage.

Meanwhile, Dick Ferral went to the balloon house to keep watch over the
Hawk with the two officers on guard there.

The Lestrange people were more than sorry to lose Matt's services.
There was no driver who could get more speed out of a racing car than
Motor Matt, and it was largely his driving that had won the five-day
race at the Coliseum for the Jarrot car. Matt agreed, before he left
the Lestrange offices, that if ever he drove in another race, he
would give the Lestrange and Jarrot people first chance to secure his
services. Then, with his back pay in his pocket, he made his way to the
Twelfth Street Station, met Carl with the luggage, and they returned to
South Chicago.

Matt and Carl went to the hotel to stay all night, and the two officers
who had been on duty at the balloon house, having been relieved by a
fresh detail, came in about nine in the evening and informed Matt that
Ferral was going to stay at the balloon house until morning.

"Verral is afraidt der machine vill fly avay mit itseluf," chuckled
Carl.

"It's all right to be on the safe side," said Matt. "I guess that there
won't be anything happen to the Hawk, with two policemen and Dick to
look after her."

"Sure nod," agreed Carl. "Vere vill Ferral shleep?"

"There's a small sleeping room in the back of the big shed. Brady
used to spend his nights there when he had the air ship under the
roof. There's a fixture in the room for supplying the Hawk with
illuminating gas. Brady used to manufacture hydrogen, but since the
police department has had charge of the air ship, the supply of gas has
come from the city gas works. Oh, Dick will be comfortable enough, out
there, and when we join him in the morning we'll take his breakfast
along."

It was the intention of the three chums to start on their long journey
to New York the following morning. Matt had bought a compass and a
number of maps covering the country they would cross. For a long time
he sat up, studying the maps and figuring on the towns at which they
would stop during their flight. It was nearly midnight when he went to
bed, and Carl had been snoring for several hours.

Both boys were up bright and early. They ate a hearty breakfast, and
Matt had a meal packed away in a box for Dick. It was about half-past
six when they were ready to start for the balloon house, and Matt
suddenly remembered that the papers completing the transfer of the air
ship had not come from the chief.

"I'll go on out to the balloon house with my satchel and the box of
grub for Dick," said Matt, "and you go to police headquarters, Carl,
and ask the chief for the papers he was to get for me. If the chief
isn't there yet, see Harris. It may be you'll have to go to the chief's
house."

"All righdt," answered Carl, "schust so you don'd fly avay und leaf me."

"You can bet we won't do that, Carl. We'll wait until you get there
before we start."

The two chums separated in front of the hotel, Carl walking rapidly
toward police headquarters, and Matt turning toward the outskirts of
the town and striding away in the direction of the black smoke from the
rolling mills.

Ferral, once more in his sailor rig, was out in front of the balloon
house, and gave a yell when he saw Matt coming down the road.

Matt dropped the satchel and lunch box over the fence at the roadside,
jumped after them, and then started across the swampy stretch of ground.

"Ahoy, old raggie!" whooped Ferral, whose enthusiasm seemed to have
grown during the night. "Our ship's pulling at her cables, just as
though she's as anxious to get away as we are. Where's Carl?"

"I sent him to the police department after those papers the chief was
to get for us," replied Matt. "Here's some breakfast for you, Dick.
Better get on the outside of it as soon as you can. By the way, haven't
you some luggage in Chicago you'll want to get?"

"I sent all my luggage through to Quebec. When I travel, Matt, I always
travel light. Mighty nice of you to remember my 'scran,'" Ferral added,
as he took the box Matt handed him.

While he was eating, the two officers came around the end of the
building.

"Our orders was to pull out as soon as you got here, King," said one
of them. "You're goin' to leave purty soon, anyhow, ain't you?"

"Just as soon as we can get the Hawk out of the shed. Our Dutch pard
will be here by that time."

"I'd like to stay and see you off, but the old woman'll have my
breakfast ready, an' there's always a row if I don't get there while
it's hot. Good-by, an' good luck to you."

"The same to you, officer."

The policeman started off toward the road, and Matt went around to
the front of the balloon house to open the doors. The doors comprised
almost the whole end of the building, and when they were open, the
interior of the shed was well lighted by the sun.

The Hawk seemed fit and ready for any work she might be called upon to
do. As Matt looked at the great swaying bag, the light car and its trim
machinery, he experienced a pride in the air ship he had never before
known. This was because the Hawk belonged partly to him, now.

While in the balloon house, the air ship was not moored with ropes, but
was weighted down with sand bags hung to the under side of the car. A
pull of a lever would release all the sand bags.

There was a supply of gasoline in the shed, and also a small amount
of oil. Matt filled the gasoline tank and the oil tank, saw that all
ropes belonging to the car were safely stowed, and that propeller and
steering rudder were working properly.

By the time he had finished his survey, Ferral had got through with his
breakfast and had joined him.

"See anything of Carl, Dick?" asked Matt.

"He wasn't in sight when I came in," replied Ferral.

"Probably the chief wasn't at his office and Carl had to go to his
house. He'll be along pretty soon, though. It's a fine morning for the
start. Hardly a breath of air stirring."

Matt stowed his maps and compass in a little locker close to the
driver's chair.

"We've got to have a compass, eh?" grinned Ferral.

"It's just as well to have one," said Matt.

"And charts! Keelhaul me, mate, but this is just like putting to sea in
a ship."

"It's about the same thing."

"Only when we make landfall we drop to it. But what's the good of the
charts? We'll be off soundings all the time, and no danger of bouncing
up on a reef."

"It's a good thing to keep track of the towns we pass. If we need gas,
we want to be able to figure on reaching a town big enough to supply
it."

"Right-o, mate. I'll lay a month's pay your head's level on the whole
business, and that you've figured out everything connected with the
cruise. Are we going to follow the railroad?"

"Not much, Dick! We're going to strike a bee line for where we want to
go. That's the beauty of traveling in an air ship. You don't have to go
around a mountain, or hunt for a place to cross a stream."

"Strike me lucky, mate," jubilated Ferral, rubbing his hands, "I'm
mighty glad I stopped over in Chicago to see you, and that we were
able to get our hooks on this air ship. The way the thing fell out, it
seems like that was how it was meant to be. Everything that's happened
has steered us both for the Hawk. If I hadn't dropped into that trap
Brady, Jr., laid for me, I wouldn't have been out in the lake; and if
you hadn't come along in the Hawk, just when you did, I couldn't have
saved my money; and if you hadn't picked me up, money and all, that
other lubber would have got ahead of us and grabbed the air ship. Oh,
we've been main lucky, all around."

"What will your uncle say," quizzed Matt, "when you write him you have
bought an interest in an air ship?"

"Bless the old chap! Why, matey, anything I do is all right for Uncle
Jack. If I'd bought a menagerie, or a steam calliope, the old boy would
have clapped me on the shoulder and said I'd done well."

"Well," laughed Matt, "that's mighty nice--for you. Suppose we get the
Hawk out of the shed? By the time we do that, Carl ought to be here."

"Aye, aye, my hearty! How do you go to work to warp the craft out of
her berth? You'll have to tell me what to do, until I can learn the
ropes."

"All we've got to do," said Matt, "is just to take hold of the car and
pull the air ship through the door. These sand bags hold her steady. Be
careful, though, that the gas bag don't strike the side of the door.
It would cost us a lot of money, and delay us for a week or two, if we
were unlucky enough to rip the fabric."

By working carefully, the boys got the front part of the Hawk through
the end of the shed and into the open air. Matt was at the front of the
car, and Ferral was at the rear. While the young motorist bent to his
work, he heard a noise as of running feet.

Straightening himself quickly, he whirled around. Four roughly dressed
men were rushing at him from the corner of the shed. The rascals were
plainly hostile, as their clinched fists and their scowling faces
proved. One of the scoundrels, who was within arm's length of Matt,
halted and aimed a blow at him. Matt deftly evaded the blow. By then
the others were near enough to take part in the set-to.

"This way, Dick!" yelled Motor Matt, as he struck down one of the
ruffians.



CHAPTER VIII.

THE PLOT OF THE BRADY GANG.


The attack of the four men had been engineered with a suddenness that
took Matt's breath. The men were not common hoodlums, although they
looked the part, but all four of them were men whom Matt recognized.

They were all members of the Brady gang. One was Grove, who had escaped
from the South Chicago authorities on the preceding afternoon; another
was Harper, who used to drive the Hawk for Brady when the air ship was
in his possession; another man was Pete, and the fourth was Whipple.

Matt had seen a picture of Harper in the "rogues' gallery" in the
chief's office, and he had had no difficulty in recognizing the rascal
at a glance. Harper had been with Grove at the time some blue prints
were stolen from Hamilton Jerrold, another inventor of air ships,
living in South Chicago. But Harper had been hurt in Jerrold's house
and had not got away in the air ship, which the thieves had used to
help them commit their robbery.

Pete and Whipple had been with Brady in a rendezvous in Willoughby's
swamp, near Lake Station, Indiana. Matt had had some exciting dealings
with Grove, Pete, and Whipple, and knew them fairly well.

Ferral, hearing Matt's cry and the rush of feet, had run out of the
shed and around the front of the car. As quickly as he could, he leaped
to Matt's assistance.

But what could the two boys accomplish against four husky men, all
desperately determined to carry out the plot they had formed? Officers
of the law were hunting for all of them, and if they did not succeed in
their nefarious work, it would not be many hours before they saw the
inside of a prison cell.

Matt King never fought better than he did then. He had struck down
Whipple, and had thrown himself at Pete.

About the same time, Ferral engaged Grove. Grove had science as well as
strength, and was keeping Ferral pretty well occupied.

Whipple, wild with fury, staggered to his feet. He was behind Matt, and
Ferral, out of the corner of his eye, saw him preparing to strike.

"Look out, mate!" warned Ferral. "There's a big swab behind you!"

But the warning came too late. Whipple's ham-like fist reached Matt's
head, and the young motorist staggered and flung up his arms. Again the
enraged Whipple aimed a blow, but Matt dropped to one side, and the
fist only grazed his shoulder. Pete, however, had been watching his
chance. Throwing himself forward, he dealt a fierce blow with his fist
that toppled Matt to the ground.

Harper, meantime, had come up behind Ferral and successfully carried
out the same manoeuvre that had been made use of by Whipple. Both boys
were brutally knocked off their feet. The moment they were down, Harper
fell on Ferral and Pete dropped on Matt, when Whipple turned on Grove.

"Go ter the side o' the shed, Grove," said he, "an' keep yer eyes
skinned along the road. If ye see anyone comin', jest let out a yell."

"What's the use of fooling around here any longer?" demanded Grove.
"We've got the car, and all we have to do now is to get into her and
let the police look up at us."

"Do as I tell ye!" bawled Whipple. "Our work ain't done yet. The ole
man told us what ter do with King, an' we're goin' ter do it. He's
played hob with Brady's plans, an' the ole man is crazy ter git even.
T'other chap, bein' with King, 'll have ter stand fer the same dose."

Grove, muttering to himself, moved off toward the corner of the balloon
house. Whipple, hurrying to the car, took out a coil of rope. It was
not heavy rope, but fine and pliable.

Cutting off four pieces of the rope, Whipple went to Matt. The young
motorist was still dazed from the blows he had received, and it was not
difficult for Pete to hold him while Whipple tied his wrists at his
back and his feet at the ankles.

Thereupon Whipple passed to Dick and secured him in the same way.

"Anyone in sight yet, Grove?" Whipple asked as he straightened up.

"No," replied Grove.

"Well, keep yer eyes peeled. We're a good ways from bein' through." He
turned to Harper and Pete. "Lay holt o' the car, you two," he ordered,
"an' pull the Hawk clear o' the shed. Mind ye don't let the gas bag
tech the sides o' the door."

"This ain't the first time I've helped with the Hawk," said Harper. "I
reckon I know how ter handle her as well as anyone."

Harper and Pete managed to get the air ship out of the shed without
injury. This left the opening into the shed clear.

"You two," Whipple went on to Pete and Harper, "pick up that other
feller an' kerry him in. I can handle King, all right."

The way Whipple handled Matt was to grab him by the collar and drag him
through the door and the length of the shed. At the end of the big room
he opened a door and pulled Matt into a small chamber not more than ten
feet square by as many high--hardly more than a big box. There was a
window in one wall, and two cots at each side.

Halting in front of one of the cots, Whipple picked Matt up in his arms
and dumped him upon the narrow bed.

"Put your kid on the other cot," ordered Whipple to Harper and Pete.

Ferral was lifted and placed as the leader of the gang had directed.

Matt had been conscious of every move that was made, although his mind
had not been at all clear. By the time he had been placed on the cot,
however, his faculties were as keen as ever, in spite of the pain he
suffered on account of his rough treatment.

"What are you trying to do, Whipple?" he demanded, turning his head so
he could look directly into the face of the leader of the gang.

"What we're tryin' ter do we've as good as done," was the fierce
answer. "We're undoin' the thing you done a week er more ago. The
perlice are after us, on account o' you, an' we're goin' ter make a
getaway in the Hawk."

"The Hawk belongs to me and my friend, on the other cot."

"How d'ye figger that out? I reckoned the Hawk belonged ter Brady."

"Brady is a thief. He stole a lot of stuff, and the Hawk was sold to
help pay back the losses of some of the people who were robbed."

"Oh, ho!" laughed Whipple, huskily, "that's the way of it, eh? An' you
an' yer chum bought the Hawk?"

"Yes. If you steal her you'll get into trouble--a lot more trouble than
you're in already. I guess you've got more now than you can take care
of."

"An' it was you as made the trouble fer us!" cried Whipple, with a
black scowl, stepping closer to Matt and shaking a fist in his face.
"But you're right at the end o' your rope, my buck. Brady never fergits
a feller who crosses his plans like you done. Arter we leave here it
won't be you that makes the trouble fer us."

"Is Brady in this?" queried Matt, seeking information.

"He's on deck, you bet, an' we're goin' ter pick him up close ter
Willoughby's swamp; then we're goin' ter cross the lake an' come down
in a place where we'll be safe fer a spell. While we got the Hawk we're
safe from the perlice, all right, but we got our operations ter attend
to."

"More robbery, I suppose."

"Suppose what ye blam' please, ye'll never be able ter tell anyone
what ye're hearin' from me now. What we're goin' ter do to you an' yer
chum'll teach others ter let Hector Brady an' his gang alone. If I----"

Just then a shrill whistle came to the ears of those in the little
room.

"Listen to that!" exclaimed Pete, in consternation.

"Somebody's comin'!" gasped Harper. "If we don't make a run out of this
we'll be nabbed."

Whipple jumped to a gas bracket against one of the rough board walls.
It was not an ordinary bracket, but had a wide mouth to which a piece
of hose could be attached. This had been used by the police officials
to replenish the gas in the silk envelope of the Hawk.

With one jerk of his hand Whipple turned the gas full on.

"Get out!" he called to the two with him.

Pete and Harper tumbled through the door into the shed. Whipple hurried
after them but paused a moment on the threshold to give a wild,
taunting laugh.

"That's what Brady told us ter do," said he, savagely, "an' we've done
it. Git clear o' this, if ye can!"

With that, Whipple slammed the door.

The fate to which the murderous scoundrel had consigned the two boys
was a fearful one. Even as the door closed, Matt could smell the odor
of gas pouring into the small room and poisoning the air.

"Dick!" he called. "Can you hear me? Do you know what has been going
on?"

"Aye, aye, old ship," came from Ferral. "We're bound for Jones', as
straight as we can go. We've lost the Hawk, and probably we've lost our
lives. Hard luck!"

"Hard luck!" exclaimed Matt. "Why, Dick, it's the hardest luck I ever
had come my way. But there's a chance."

"What sort of a chance, mate? I can't see any."

"Grove, one of the gang, was left outside to watch. He was to whistle
if anyone came along the road. Didn't you hear him give the warning? If
anyone is coming, we can bring them here. Use your lungs, pard! Yell
for all you're worth! Our lives may depend on it!"

Fighting frenziedly to free themselves of the ropes about their hands,
the boys shouted at the top of their voices for help. They could feel
the vitiated air of the room bringing their breath short and hard,
and they knew that their voices were getting feebler by degrees.
Desperately they continued to call, hoping against hope that they would
be heard, and that some one would come to their aid before it was too
late.



CHAPTER IX.

CARL IS SURPRISED.


Carl, when he left the hotel to call on the chief in accordance with
Motor Matt's instructions, left his satchel in care of the clerk. In
going to the balloon house, after he had transacted his business at
police headquarters, he would have to return past the hotel, and by
leaving the satchel he would not have to bother with it during his call
on the chief.

It was very early, too early for the chief to be in his office. Nor was
Harris at headquarters. No one there knew of any papers that had been
left for Matt.

Carl was disappointed, for he was in a hurry to rejoin his friends at
the balloon house. Nevertheless, Matt had told him to be sure and see
the chief, and so Carl inquired his way to that official's house.

When he arrived at the house, Carl found that the chief had left and
gone to headquarters; so the disgusted German turned around and made
his way back to the chief's office. The head of the department had not
yet arrived there, having been delayed somewhere on the road.

Carl had to wait half an hour. When the chief finally came, Carl got
to him at once and asked about the papers. "They're here, all right,"
smiled the official. "I would have sent them to Matt last night, only
I was so busy trying to find that escaped prisoner, Grove, that the
matter slipped my mind. You lads are going to start off in the air
ship, are you?"

"Sure," answered the impatient Carl, "oof I efer ged dose bapers and
meet Matt like vat he saidt. I don'd vant dem fellers to go off mitoudt
me."

"Oh, I guess they won't do that! Where are you going?"

"Py New York. Anyhow, dot vas our bresent indentions."

"New York? Great Scott! Do you think that----"

"I vas in a pig hurry, chief," interrupted Carl, wildly. "You see, I
haf peen more as an hour looking for you, und I vas vay late meeding
Matt und Tick. Oof you vill blease handt ofer dose bapers, I vill
shlide oudt so kevick as bossiple."

The chief pulled a sealed envelope from a pigeonhole in his desk and
handed it to Carl.

"There you are," said he. "If Matt hears anything about Brady, or the
rest of his gang, tell him to be sure and let me know."

"He vill do dot, you bed you. He iss as anxious to haf Brady captured
as anypody."

"He ought to be. Brady will do everything he can to get even with Matt
for the havoc Matt has played with the gang. And that's what leads me
to believe Matt may see something of him. Tell your friend that----"

But Carl waited for no more. He had already lost more time than he
could well afford.

Bolting out of the chief's office, he made a rush for the hotel. There
he secured his satchel and started along the road toward the rolling
mills.

The drops rolled off Carl's face as he hurried. As soon as he struck
the beginning of the road that ran past the swampy meadow, he kept his
eyes in the direction of the balloon house. It was several minutes
before he sighted the big building, and then it was far off and could
be seen only indistinctly.

Swiftly he drew nearer and nearer. As the building came more
prominently into view, he was able to make out the air ship, swaying in
front.

"Dey haf got der Hawk oudt oof der house!" he muttered. "Dey're alretty
to go, und dey vas only vaiting for me."

Even as Carl was congratulating himself on the fact that he was not
going to be left behind, he was astounded to see the Hawk move upward
and away from the balloon house. He was still so far away that he could
not see those in the car, and a terrific fear shivered along his nerves.

"Himmelblitzen!" he groaned, "I vouldn't haf t'ought it bossiple! Dey
vas leafing me in der lurch. Modor Matt, der pest friendt vat I efer
hat, iss skyhooting avay mitoudt his Dutch bard! Vat iss der meaning
oof dot?"

For a few moments Carl stood rooted to the ground. Then he had an idea.

"Meppy Matt und Tick vas coming pack tovards town to pick me oop!" he
murmured, and continued to stand still and watch.

But the Hawk did not turn around and come in Carl's direction. On the
contrary, it kept moving off toward the south and west.

"Ach, vat a pad pitzness!" groaned Carl. "Matt!" he yelled, as loud as
he could, starting to run along the road and waving his satchel as he
went, "vy don'd you vait for your Dutch pard, Matt? Haf you gone back
on me?"

If Carl's voice had been strong enough to reach a mile, his yelling
might have ascended to the ears of those in the car. As it was,
however, Carl might as well have shouted into the empty air. But he was
excited, and hardly knew what he was about.

When he came opposite the balloon house he hardly gave it a look; and
he was making so much noise himself that he was unable to hear the
calls coming from the small addition in the rear of the big shed.

On and on along the road went Carl, keeping up his frenzied pace. He
got beyond the big mills, and then, after he had got past the smoke
from their huge chimneys, he saw that the air ship had disappeared.
Utterly dejected, and tired out with his hard run, he sat down on a
rock near the roadside.

"I nefer vouldt haf t'ought dot oof Modor Matt," he wheezed mournfully.
"All along I haf hat some hunches dot I vouldn't ged avay in dot air
ship py New York. Vell, vell! Der pest friendt vat I efer hat has vent
pack on me, und I vas a shdray Dutchman mit fife tollars in my bocket
und no blace to go."

While Carl mused in this lugubrious strain, a girl came toward him
along the road. Her clothes were dusty, and her face was haggard. She
was pretty, in spite of her weariness and her coarse clothes, and there
was a dauntless gleam in her dark eyes. When she came close to Carl she
paused.

Carl pulled off his hat.

"Vas you in some drouples, too, miss?" he asked. "Oof you vas, den ve
ought to be some pooty goot gompany. Misery lofes gompany, dey say, und
I vas so full oof misery as I can't dell."

The girl stared at him wonderingly for a moment.

"Are you acquainted with the country around here?" she asked. "I ought
to know it, but I never came into South Chicago before by this road."

"Vell, I know somet'ing aboudt it," replied Carl. "For vy do you make
dose inkviries?"

"I'm looking for the balloon house where they keep the air ship called
the Hawk," was the astounding reply.

Carl leaped off the stone as though he had been touched by a live wire.

"Sure I know dot!" he cried. "Vat for do you vant to know?"

"I must hurry and get there," answered the girl. "I've walked a long
ways, and I'm pretty tired, but I've got to reach the balloon house."

"Der Hawk don'd vas dere any more," said Carl.

The girl clasped her hands.

"You mean to say that the Hawk has been taken away so soon?"

"Vell, she don'd vas oxactly daken. You see, der bard vat I hat has
gone pack on me und he skyhooted off mit der Hawk, leafing me behindt."

"When was this?" asked the girl, excitedly.

"Schust a leedle vile ago. Ter Hawk only schust got oudt oof sight.
Couldn't you see it? Oof you hat looked oop you vould sure haf seen der
air ship."

"Oh," cried the girl, tearfully, "then I'm too late! And I tried so
hard to get here. I hadn't any money, you see, and I had to walk."

"How far haf you valked?"

"All the way from Lake Station."

"Ach, chimineddy! Dot vas too pad, I bed you. Who you vas? I haf fife
tollars, und you can haf dot."

Carl pulled the crumpled bill out of his pocket and tried to push it
into the girl's hand. But she would not take it.

"No, no," said she. "My name is Helen Brady, and I----"

Carl grew rigid. His amazement was growing.

"Vy," he cried, "den you vas Prady's daughter, eh? Der vone vat heluped
Modor Matt ged avay from Villoughy's svamp mit der Hawk dot time he
prought two oof der gang indo Sout' Chicago?"

"Yes, yes," returned the girl. "I am the same Helen Brady who helped
Motor Matt. If the air ship is gone from the balloon house, then it
wasn't Matt who sailed away with her, but four of my father's men."

Carl was electrified.

"Ach, I ditn't t'ink my olt bard, Modor Matt, could dreat me in sooch a
vay as dot!" he exclaimed. "Vat has pecome oof Matt und Verral?"

"Oh, I don't know," answered the girl. "I'm afraid that some awful
trouble has come to them. We must hurry to the balloon house and see."

"Yah, you bed you!" cried Carl. "Meppy I can gif you some helup on
der vay? You vas more tired as me--und you valked from Lake Station!
Himmelblitzen! vat you t'ink oof dot! A leedle girl like you valk
all der vay from Lake Station! Come, und ve vill got togedder py der
palloon house."

Carrying his satchel in his left hand, with his right Carl grasped the
girl's arm and helped her along the road. They did not proceed at a
very rapid pace, but they walked much faster than the girl could have
done had she been compelled to go on alone.

"Vat iss der drouple, anyvay?" asked Carl. "Vy you vas valking to der
palloon house?"

"There is a plot," answered the girl, "a plot to steal the air ship and
to do some harm to Motor Matt. Matt helped me, that time he took the
air ship away from the swamp, and I want to help him. But I'm afraid
I'm too late, too late."

The girl's voice and manner all convinced Carl that there was something
very serious the matter. The theft of the air ship would have been bad
enough, in itself, but there was a chance that harm had befallen Matt.

Excited and anxious, Carl toiled on along the road, helping the girl
and keeping his eyes on the balloon house, just as he had done when he
had approached it from the direction of town--only he was even more
wildly anxious now than he was then.



CHAPTER X.

HELEN BRADY'S CLUE.


Matt remembered the awful moment when he felt his senses leaving him,
when the interior of the bare little room swam on his sight and was
blotted out in a black mist. After that he could remember nothing until
he opened his eyes in the bright sunlight, and saw the strangely
familiar face of a girl bending over him.

For a brief space his clearing senses grappled with the situation
helplessly; then, as the clear outer air drove from his lungs the
poison he had been breathing, his faculties regained their normal
condition.

"Helen Brady!" he mumbled, sitting up.

"Yah, you bed you!" whooped Carl, from a little distance away. "Dot vas
Helen Prady, Matt, und oof it hatn't peen for her, you und Tick vould
haf peen goners. Helen Prady is a pooty fine girl, you bed you. I dake
off my hat to her any tay as you can findt in der veek. Miss Prady,"
and Carl directed his admiring gaze at the girl, "allow me to make some
remarks dot you vas a brick--und not a goldt brick, neider. She valked
all der vay from Lake Station, Matt, to safe you und Tick!"

Carl was near Ferral, who was likewise sitting up in front of the
balloon house, only a little way off.

"Sink me, mate," cried Ferral, "but we had a close call of it. We shook
hands with Davy Jones--just about--and then Miss Brady and Carl pulled
us away from him."

"I'm all twisted up about this," said Matt, rubbing a hand across his
eyes in a dazed way.

"I'm all ahoo over it myself," put in Ferral. "I'm glad I'm alive, but
I can't understand how Miss Brady got here and helped us out of that
scrape."

"Tell dem aboudt it, Miss Prady," urged Carl. "You haf tone a mighdy
fine t'ing, und Matt und Tick ought to know all aboudt it."

"Ever since you got away from Willoughby's swamp with the Hawk, Matt,"
said Helen, "I have been staying in Lake Station. My father, and Pete,
and Whipple got out of the swamp by a secret way they knew about, very
soon after you left. Dad gave me some money and told me to find a place
to stay in Lake Station. He was terribly ugly to me, and I was glad
that I was going to be free from him for a while. There was a woman in
the village who had some furnished rooms to rent, and I rented them and
stayed there. I didn't see anything of dad until last night. I was in
the other part of the house, visiting the woman who owned it, and when
I went back to my rooms I saw a light shining through a window between
the edge of the curtain and the sill. I listened and heard voices--then
I knew that dad had found the place where I was staying, and had come
there.

"There was a way to get into the cellar, and I got into it and crept up
a stairway without being heard. By sitting at the top of the stairs I
could listen and hear all that was said.

"Whipple was in the room with dad, and they were talking over a scheme
for getting hold of the Hawk. Officers of the law were hunting them,
and, if they did not have the air ship, they felt that they would not
be able to avoid arrest for very long.

"Whipple told dad how Grove had managed to escape from the South
Chicago police, and dad told Whipple how he had been out in a sailboat
with my brother, and how they had tried to get some money from a young
fellow my brother had met on the train, and how Motor Matt, with the
Hawk, had come along just in time to prevent the robbery. After that,
my father said he and my brother had the sailboat set them ashore.
My father had come to Lake Station, and had sent my brother to tell
Whipple to come to the same place. And that was how the two happened to
meet in my rooms.

"Whipple, Pete, and Harper had been in hiding in Willoughby's swamp,
and that was the place to which Grove came when he made his escape.

"My father knew that the Hawk was being kept by the police in the old
balloon house, and that two officers were constantly on guard to see
that no harm came to the machine. It was also known that Motor Matt was
spending a good deal of time at the balloon house and running the air
ship for the officers.

"Dad's plot centred about the balloon house. It was a risky plot, but
dad told Whipple they would all have to take desperate chances if they
hoped to succeed in stealing the Hawk and getting away in her. Whipple
agreed with dad, and they arranged between them that Whipple, Grove,
Harper, and Pete were to get close to the balloon house in the early
morning, steal the Hawk, and sail away. If they were successful, they
were to stop at the marsh for dad; and if they captured Motor Matt,
Whipple was to put him, securely bound, in the back room, behind the
shed, and turn on the gas there."

The girl shivered, and an expression of horror crossed her face.

"I can't begin to tell you," she half sobbed, "how terribly I felt.
Motor Matt had helped me, and I could not bear to think that my own
father was--was----"

Helen paused, and it was a moment before she could recover herself and
go on.

"At first," she continued, "I thought of running into the room where
dad was and begging him not to let Whipple harm Motor Matt. But a
little thought showed me that such a course would be foolish. Not only
would dad not listen to me, but he would probably make me a prisoner,
so as to keep me from interfering with his plot. I had no money left,
and the only thing I could do was to walk to South Chicago, and try to
get there before the plot was carried out. I got my hat--it was in a
bedroom easily reached from the cellarway--and I started.

"I walked miles and miles through the darkness, and at last I was so
tired I had to sit down and rest. Then I got up and started on again.
Every little while I would sit down for a few minutes. But I did not
dare to stop very long, for fear I would not get to South Chicago in
time.

"Morning came, and I guided myself by the smoke from the rolling mills.
Just as I was about to give out entirely, I met Carl."

The girl turned her eyes toward the Dutch boy.

"Und it vas a pooty goot t'ing dot Miss Prady met me schust ven she
dit. I vas feeling pooty plue mit meinseluf, you bed you. You see,
Matt, it vas like dis: Afder fooling aroundt und losing more dime as
I vanted to, I got dose bapers from der chief. Den I come pack py der
hodel, get my sadchel, und hurry kevick along der roadt to der palloon
house. Ven I see der blace, oop goes der Hawk in der air, und I t'ink,
py shiminy, dot Matt hat got tired oof vaiting und hat gone off py New
York mitoudt his Dutch bard. Vell, meppy it vas some foolishness, aber
I shaced afder dot air ship so fast as I couldt. Sure I couldn't ketch
der Hawk, aber I vas oft my headt und ditn't shdop to t'ink. I schust
run, und yelled, und got vay past der palloon house ven I med Miss
Prady. As soon as she say a few t'ings, den I know dot it vasn't Matt
vat vent avay mit der Hawk, but dot Prady gang; und as soon as she say
a few t'ings more, den I ged some vorries aboudt Matt und Tick. Ve come
pack py der palloon house togedder, Miss Prady und me, und ve go to dot
leedle room pehindt der blace, und, whoosh! sooch a odor vat shtruck
us in der faces ven ve obened der door.

"Vell, dere vas my bard, Modor Matt, lying shdill on der cot on vone
site, und my odder bard, Tick Verral, lying shdill on der cot on der
odder site. Ve hat some vildness mit us ven ve t'ink you vas gone oop
der shpout, aber ve turned off der gas, got you oudt oof der room und
indo der glear air, und pooty kevick, pympy, you refifed. Ach, it vas
some habbiness for bot' oof us ven ve see dot!"

Matt and Dick had listened to all this with deep interest. What most
impressed them was the courage and determination shown by Helen Brady.
Matt reached out and clasped her hand.

"You saved my life and Dick's," said he, with feeling, "and that is
something we'll never forget."

"Not if we live to be a thousand years old!" declared Ferral. "You're a
brave lass, Miss Brady, and I've an uncle who won't forget what you've
done, either."

"I only did what I thought I ought to do," said Helen. "It was merely
undoing a wrong of my father's, and it was no more than right that I
should do what I could."

"Ach, Matt," piped up Carl, "aber you vas blaying in some hardt luck!
Und shdill, mit all dot, vasn't it pooty fine dot you got oudt oof dot
tight blace mit your life, you und Tick?"

"Right-o, matey!" agreed Ferral heartily. "Matt and I, between us, have
lost the Hawk, which means thirty-five hundred, in cold cash, but, all
the same, we ought to shake hands over it and call ourselves well off."

Matt grabbed Dick's hand.

"Shake!" said he. "A fellow never has such a run of hard luck but he
can think a little and see where it might have been a whole lot worse."

A puzzled look had come into Helen's face.

"How was it, Matt," she queried, "that you and your friend lost so much
money?"

Matt explained about the purchase of the air ship. As Helen listened,
her look of wonder changed to one of distress.

"I am sorry!" she said, with a pang of deepest regret. "I know where
dad and the rest have gone, though, and if you wanted to follow them,
you might be able to get the air ship back."

The information startled all three of the boys.

"You know that?" cried Matt, his face brightening.

"Yes. They are going to cross the lake to Grand Haven. There's a man in
Grand Haven that dad knows. His name is Ochiltree, Dave Ochiltree. Dad
is going to see him. I don't know where the rest will be with the Hawk,
but no doubt you could find out from Ochiltree."

"It's a clue, and a good one!" said Matt. "We will follow it, Helen."

"Aye, that we will!" exclaimed Ferral.

"You bed you!" averred Carl. "Sooch a goot luck as dot iss vat ve vas
looking for. Meppy ve follow der clue und get der air ship pack, den
make anoder shtart for New York, hey?"

An idea came suddenly to Matt. Leaping to Carl, he grabbed him by the
arm.

"The Eagle," said he, speaking rapidly, "has chased the Hawk before.
Why not call on Hamilton Jerrold?"

Carl gave an exultant yell and tossed his cap.

"Dot's der fery t'ing, Matt!" he declared. "Oof dere iss enyvone in der
whole vorldt as vouldt like to do Modor Matt a goot durn, it iss dot
feller Jerrold! Led us go to him righdt avay, ad vonce, mitoudt losing
some more dime!"



CHAPTER XI.

JERROLD GIVES HIS AID.


"You've got me in a monkey's fist again," spoke up Ferral. "What's all
this about the Eagle and Hamilton Jerrold?"

"Don'd you rememper, Tick," said Carl, "I toldt you aboudt dot odder
feller in Sout' Chicago vat hat inventioned an air ship? His ship iss
der Eagle, und----"

"Aye, aye, mate, now I rise to you," interrupted Ferral. "Fine idea,
that of chasing one air craft with another. The only point is, will
this man Jerrold let Matt take his air ship?"

"Dot feller vouldt do anyt'ing for Matt," averred Carl. "Matt got pack
der plue brints for him, und he t'inks der King oof der Modor Poys iss
der greadest feller vat efer habbened."

"The quicker we can see Jerrold," suggested Matt, "the sooner we shall
know whether or not he can help us. Not only that, but I've got to
report the theft of the air ship to the police."

"Who loses der air ship?" queried Carl. "Der bolice, oder Matt und
Tick?"

"Matt and Dick," answered Ferral. "We had bought the machine, and if it
had been stolen no more than a minute after the money had been turned
over, we would still have been the ones to lose it. I don't know what
sort of case you're in, Matt, but I've got a head that feels as big as
a barrel. If I could soak it awhile in cold water I think it would do
it good."

"My head was pretty near knocked off my shoulders," answered Matt, "and
then to inhale all that gas on top of the pounding, gave us a whole lot
to stand. Work is what we need, Dick. If we can get busy we'll forget
our troubles."

The doors of the empty balloon house were closed, Matt and Carl
gathered up their satchels, and they started back toward South Chicago,
Ferral helping Helen Brady over the road.

"Some beople vill be surbrised ad seeing us come in valking mit
ourselufs," observed Carl, "ven ve vas going to rite der odder vay in
der Hawk. Ve nefer know vone minid vat iss going to happen der next."

This remark of Carl's was generally agreed to.

"What are you going to do now, Helen?" asked Matt, dropping alongside
the girl and Ferral. "Your father has gone away and left you, and you
will have to do something for yourself."

"I know it," answered the girl.

"What has become of your brother?"

"I don't know where he has gone. He may go across the lake with dad, or
he may stay in Chicago. When dad talked with Whipple, I didn't hear him
say what Hector was to do."

"It's a good thing your father has left you, Helen," said Matt, "and if
all I hear about your brother is true, I hope he won't come around to
bother you."

A sad look crossed the girl's face. With her father and her brother
both criminals, her position was forlorn, indeed.

"I have friends in Chicago," said she, "and I could go and stay with
them for a time."

"That's the thing to do," approved Matt. Taking two ten-dollar bills
from his pocket, he forced them into the girl's hand. "You've got to
take the money," said he. "Sometime, if you feel as though you ought
to, you can pay me back, but don't let the debt bother you."

"Here," called Ferral, diving into his own pocket and bringing up some
money, "I'm in on this."

"Und me, too," said Carl. "I vill dake five tollars' vort'."

Helen thanked all the boys, with tears in her eyes, but Matt's was the
only money she would take.

"This will be enough for my immediate needs," said she, "and while I am
staying in Chicago, I can arrange to get something to do."

By that time the little party was well into South Chicago. The satchels
were returned to the hotel, and Carl was left with Helen, to take her
to a restaurant where she could get something to eat, and then to put
her aboard a train for Chicago. After that, Carl was to make his way to
Jerrold's house.

Matt and Dick, when they left their Dutch chum and the girl, hurried to
police headquarters.

When the chief saw Matt, he threw up his hands.

"Did your air ship give out on you?" he asked. "I thought you were well
on your way to New York by this time."

What Matt had to say about the air ship nearly took the chief's breath.
Then, when he realized all that recent events meant, his temper got the
better of him.

"I've got a fine force of roundsmen and detectives," said he
sarcastically, "when a pack of scoundrels we're looking for can pull
off a trick like that right in the outskirts of town!"

Matt eased the chief's anger somewhat by telling him of the clue they
had received as to Brady's whereabouts, and he explained how he and his
friends were going to get Jerrold's air ship and follow the clue across
the lake.

"Now that sounds mighty good," said the chief, a flicker of hope
crossing his face, "and of course the South Chicago police department
ought to be represented in the expedition. Suppose I send Harris, in
plain clothes, along with you? He knows St. Jo, Benton Harbor, Grand
Haven, and all those places across the lake like a native. He'll be a
help. Unless I'm mightily mistaken, this man Ochiltree is an old-time
crook, and has served a term or two in the 'pen.' Anyhow, his name is
familiar to me. But you boys are in a hurry and I won't detain you. Go
on to Jerrold's. I'll have Harris get into civilian's clothes and join
you there."

Fifteen minutes later, Matt and Dick were at the inventor's rambling
old house. Hamilton Jerrold himself answered Matt's ring, caught him by
the hand with the utmost cordiality, and ushered him and Ferral into
the sitting room.

"It does my eyes good to see you again, Matt," beamed Jerrold. "You've
been making some fine flights with the Hawk for the police department.
Jupiter, but you're a wonder when it comes to handling anything that's
driven with an explosive engine."

Matt flushed and made a deprecatory gesture.

"It seems, Mr. Jerrold," said he, "that I never call on you except when
I'm in trouble."

The inventor took fresh interest.

"You're in trouble now?" he asked, showing a good deal of concern.

"I'm in the hardest kind of luck," went on Matt, and he proceeded
to explain how he and Ferral had bought the Hawk, and how Brady had
executed his balloon-house plot, stolen the machine, and almost caused
a tragedy.

Hamilton Jerrold had been himself entangled with Brady and knew just
what kind of a scoundrel he was. His experience with Brady had left
much bitterness in its wake, and Jerrold was eager to do whatever he
could to bring the leader of the Brady gang to justice. Apart from his
own feelings in the matter, Jerrold felt that Motor Matt had a claim on
him.

"The Hawk," said Jerrold, "is a good machine, but the Eagle is a better
one. We can cross the lake in the Eagle and land wherever you want to,
and it is needless for me to say, my boy, that both the air ship and
myself are at your service."

"Thank you, Mr. Jerrold," returned Matt gratefully. "Is the Eagle ready
for use?"

"During the last week Payne and I have been improving her, and we did
the very last tap on the car yesterday. All we have to do is to fill
the tanks and put a little more gas in the bag--inside of an hour we
can start."

The boys accompanied Jerrold into the back yard, where he had the air
ship under a canvas shelter. Payne, Jerrold's assistant, was working
around the car. As soon as Jerrold had told Payne what was wanted, the
latter began making the Eagle ready.

"This is a great town for flying machines," remarked Ferral, as he
watched the operation of getting the craft ready for a voyage.

"Jerrold has done a whole lot toward solving the problem of aërial
navigation," said Matt. "It was his work that made the Hawk as good as
it is. You see, Brady used to work for Jerrold, and he stole most of
his ideas for the Hawk from the Eagle."

"A regular skull-and-cross-bones pirate, that Brady," muttered Ferral.
"I hope we can lay him by the heels and cut short his lawless career."

While the Eagle was being made ready, Harris and Carl arrived together
on the scene of operations. Harris wore civilian clothes and looked
like anything but a police officer.

"Well," said he, rubbing his hands, "this reminds me of that other
time, Matt, when Carl and Jerrold and I went chasing the Hawk in order
to get hold of you. I hope we'll have better success this trip than we
had before."

"Ve vill," declared Carl. "Matt iss mit us, now, und dot means dot ve
vill haf more luck. He iss der lucky poy, all der dime."

"I don't know about that, Carl," laughed Matt a little grimly, "my luck
seems to have taken a turn."

"Did you look after Miss Brady, Carl?" queried Ferral.

"Vell, I bed you. She hat a good meal, und den I pud her apoardt a
drain for der city. She vanted me to say to you dot she vas mooch
opliged."

"We're under more obligations to her than she is to us," went on
Ferral. "Kind of strange, it strikes me, that she should be willing to
give us a tip about her father."

"You wouldn't think it strange, Dick," said Matt warmly, "if you knew
the girl better. She knows that her father, if he is not captured,
will go on and on in crime until he does something that will earn him
more than a mere prison sentence. She wants him captured, and the Hawk
taken away from him. That was her plan when Brady captured me and held
me a prisoner in Willoughby's swamp. But she wouldn't leave her father
when I came away. She considered it her duty to stay with him up to the
very last moment. It's a good thing for her that her father went away
like he did. Now Helen can look out for herself, and do it with a clear
conscience."

"All ready, friends," called Jerrold. "Step into the car and we'll
start for Michigan."

Payne was not to go with the searching party. Jerrold, Matt, Carl,
Harris, and Ferral were to be the passengers.

All climbed aboard and took the places to which Jerrold assigned them.
Jerrold himself was to run the motor, but he had Matt near by to
"spell" him now and then. Carl and Ferral were to act as lookouts, and
were placed as far forward as the car would allow them to go.

Ferral's position was almost opposite Matt's. The stability of the air
ship depended a good deal on its "trim," and the positions taken by the
passengers at the start were to be kept throughout the trip.

Weighted bags at each end of the cigar-shaped envelope were used for
giving the required angle for rising or falling. The pull of a lever
drew in the bag at the forward point, and the Eagle inclined upward.
Payne had already pulled aside the top of the canvas protection.

"All ready," said he.

The motor was started, and presently the power was switched into the
propeller. The air ship took the push and arose slowly and easily into
the air.

"Ve're off!" shouted Carl. "I hope, py shinks, nodding goes wrong und
ve come down in der lake. Verral und I haf peen in der lake vonce, und
it don'd vas any fun, I tell you dot."



CHAPTER XII.

GRAND HAVEN.


Jerrold soon demonstrated the fact that the Eagle was a much faster
craft than the Hawk. As already stated, there was scarcely any wind, so
the Eagle had practically no adverse air current to contend against.
Pointing the air ship east by south, Jerrold tuned up the engine, and
the speed they made was marvelous. They could form a tolerable idea of
the swiftness of their flight by watching the surface of the earth,
some five hundred feet below them.

"She's certainly a swifter craft than the Hawk," remarked Ferral.

"I will improve the Hawk for you," said Jerrold, "so she will be just
as swift as the Eagle."

"Oof ve efer ged der Hawk pack, vich ve don'd know," struck in Carl.

"We _must_ get her back," averred Matt.

"The biggest trouble with air ships equipped with gasoline," continued
Jerrold, "is the fact that the slightest change in the temperature
affects the buoyancy. Even a cloud over the sun will cause the gas to
contract, and the difference in heat thrown off by the sun at morning
and noon will expand the gas and also disturb the equilibrium. Now I
have an improvement that remedies that. It consists of a smaller bag
inside the gas bag, filled with a vapor of my own invention. When the
buoyancy of the outer bag decreases, that of the inner bag increases,
and _vice versa_. That gives us a unit of buoyancy which is always the
same, and leaves the propeller free to carry us in any direction."

"Greadt!" cried Carl. "I don'd ondershtand vat you vas gedding ad,
aber I bed it vas somet'ing fine. Ach!" and he looked downward, "here
ve go ofer der lake. I hope dere iss some ships all along der vay, so
dot oof anyt'ing habbens ve can trop down ondo vone oof dem."

"Don't worry about our dropping into the water, Carl," smiled Jerrold,
"for there is absolutely no danger of that."

In an hour the Eagle was out of sight of land. The sails of one or two
schooners could be seen far away on the horizon, but they were too far
off to be considered "company."

As the Eagle plowed on and on through the sunny air, with never a hitch
or a sign of anything going wrong, Carl's fears slowly subsided and he
took delight in this novel experience of crossing a large body of water.

For a time, Matt relieved Jerrold at the motor. So far as the young
motorist could see, the Eagle handled as easily as the Hawk; besides
that, there were points of superiority about her, in addition to speed,
as compared with the Brady air ship.

For three hours the Eagle was over the lake, and then Ferral, with a
shout, announced:

"Land ho, messmates, right under our fore foot!"

Harris examined the shore line, critically. A little later, when they
were nearer, he turned to Jerrold.

"We're a bit south of Grand Haven," said he, "about two miles, I should
judge. I can see the cottages on the trolley line that follows the lake
shore."

Jerrold was about to shift the steering rudder so as to point the Eagle
directly for the town, when Matt interposed.

"It strikes me," said Matt, "that it would be better for us to land
outside the town and go in on the trolley. If we took the Eagle over
the place, the whole town would be out to see us. That would make it
impossible for us to take this Ochiltree by surprise, and might give
Brady and his gang a chance to clear out."

"That's a level-headed suggestion," declared Harris. "An air ship
arouses everybody's curiosity, and if Brady and his gang saw us, or
heard about us, they'd know at once that we were on their track with
the Eagle. Make a landing on the lake shore, Jerrold. That ought to be
easy, as the beach is clear of obstructions and covered with good white
sand."

"It's never hard for me to make a landing with the Eagle," said
Jerrold. "I can come down anywhere, and ascend from anywhere."

He took a look over the side.

"Right ahead looks like an excellent place," he went on, as he drew
back. "The trees run right down to the beach, and there are no houses
near. That means that our descent will be screened, and that we'll not
arouse so much curiosity as we would if we alighted in a more populous
place."

Instructed by Carl, Ferral, and Harris, Jerrold brought the air ship
to rest on the beach without the slightest difficulty.

"Now to call on this fellow Ochiltree," said Harris briskly, as he
stepped out of the car. "We can't all go, and I'd suggest that Carl
stay here with Jerrold and watch the car while Matt, Ferral, and I
call on the police department here and see if we can find out where
Ochiltree lives."

Carl's face fell. If there was going to be any trouble, he had hoped
that he would have as big a part in it as any of the rest of them.

Ferral, noting Carl's long face, clapped him on the back.

"Don't go into the doldrums, my hearty," cried Ferral. "If Brady and
his gang should find out that the Eagle is here, you and Jerrold may
have more trouble on your hands than the rest of us."

Carl brightened visibly.

"Py shinks," said he, "I hatn't t'ought oof dot. Aber you bed you can
drust us to dake care oof der Eagle."

Without waiting longer, Harris led Matt and Ferral through the timber
and to the tracks of the trolley line. They had not long to wait before
a car came along, headed toward Grand Haven. Apparently, neither the
conductor nor the motorman had seen the descent of the Eagle, for they
had nothing to say about the air ship.

"We're playing in great luck, right at the start-off," said Harris, in
a low tone. "In how many places in this country, do you think, could an
air ship come down without having a curious crowd around it inside of
five minutes? Not many, I'll bet; and yet, here we make a landing in
the midst of a summer resort and not so much as a dog comes out to bark
at us."

"A good thing for us, too," returned Ferral. "If there's anything to be
accomplished in Grand Haven, we can do it, for all the odds are in our
favor."

"Exactly," said Harris. "That's the point I was trying to make."

In ten minutes they reached Grand Haven, and in fifteen minutes they
were at police headquarters, and Harris was having an interview with
the head of the department. Harris was not long with that official, and
when he came out he took a chair between Matt and Ferral.

"Prospects are bright," said he. "The chief here knows all about
Ochiltree, and says he's a shady character and has a record. We've got
to wait for a few minutes for a plain-clothes man who is going with us
to call on the party."

"Did the chief say anything about another air ship?" asked Matt.

"I was coming to that," went on Harris. "Yes, another air ship was seen
crossing over the town about two hours ago. Everybody was out to look
at it, and the chief says there were four or five men in the car."

"That would be Whipple, Pete, Harper, and Brady," put in Matt.

"That's the way I had figured it out. Young Brady wasn't picked up by
the other four that got the Hawk away from you at the balloon house. It
would be a great piece of work if we could capture the whole gang."

Just then a small man, with a restless black eye and a beak-like face,
pushed up to where Harris and the boys were talking.

"My name's Dennison," said he. "The chief has told me what you wanted,
and I'm to take you to Ochiltree's place."

Harris gave Dennison his name and introduced Matt and Ferral.

"We hadn't better lose much time," suggested Dennison. "The fellow
we're looking for is usually at home this time of the day."

"The quicker we can wind this up, the better," said Harris. "Lead the
way, Dennison, and we'll be right behind you."

The course they followed took them across the river and then along the
opposite bank in the direction of the life-saving station. There, in a
patch of scrub, they came upon a small, shanty-like house.

As a precautionary move, Dennison went around to the back door, and
left Harris and the boys to present themselves at the front.

It was well this precaution was taken. Although Harris rapped and
pounded, no one answered his summons for several minutes. When a voice
was finally heard from within the house, it was Dennison's.

"Come in, Harris," he called. "If the front door's locked, come around
to the back of the house."

The front door, however, was not locked. Harris and the boys opened it
and walked in. They found Dennison, revolver in hand, standing in front
of a sulky, black-whiskered man, who was sitting in a chair.

"He didn't like your looks," explained Dennison, "and so he wouldn't
open the door. On the contrary, he tried to get away by the rear of the
house, and so ran into me. All that looks suspicious, on the face of
it."

"I'm tryin' ter do an honest turn," growled Ochiltree, "an' you cops
keep naggin' me. It's a wonder I don't go wrong, when ye're all
expectin' me to."

"What did you try to duck by the back way for?" demanded Dennison.

"I ain't anxious fer callers," was the sullen response.

"Has Brady been here to see you?"

"Brady?" queried Ochiltree. "Who's Brady?"

"Come, Ochiltree, that won't go down. You haven't forgotten your old
friend Brady, have you?"

"Never heard o' such a feller. If he's----"

Matt, who had been looking curiously around the room, glimpsed some one
through the front window, stealthily approaching the house.

"Hist!" the young motorist whispered, turning to Harris. "Here comes
Harper, now."

Ochiltree began to squirm uneasily in his chair.

"Luck again!" muttered Harris exultantly. "Keep Ochiltree covered,
Dennison, and be sure he doesn't open his mouth to call a warning. I'll
take care of Harper. He's one of the gang and can give us a line on
Brady."

Harris stole noiselessly to the door. Matt likewise crowded up close to
it on the other side.

The instant Harper rapped, Harris flung the door open, and he and Matt
grabbed the astounded caller and dragged him into the room.



CHAPTER XIII.

THE LINE ON BRADY.


Harper's astonishment was so profound as to be ludicrous. Naturally he
could not recognize Harris, even as being a policeman, but he could
hardly fail to be astounded at seeing Matt and Ferral.

With a revolver in his hand, Harris drove Harper into a chair beside
Ochiltree.

"What--what's the meanin' o' this?" asked Harper, in faltering tones,
his bewildered eyes roaming from Matt to Ferral, and then to Ochiltree.

"You'll find out the meaning of it before you're many minutes older,"
answered Harris, with a snap of the jaw. "Why, you murderous hound," he
went on, "how can you look at King, there, and at his friend, Ferral,
and find the nerve to put such a question? I suppose you've forgotten
how you tied these two lads, put them in the little room back of the
balloon house, and then turned on the gas?"

"It wasn't me done that," protested Harper.

"It was you, just as much as it was Whipple or Pete. The law won't make
any fine distinctions, I can tell you, when it comes to playing even
for that bit of dastardly work. You're in a hard row of stumps, Harper.
I don't know as anything can be done to help you, either, but if you
show a disposition to help us, it won't hurt you any."

"Nothin' happened to them two kids," growled Harper, recovering a
little of his courage, "an' I knew all the time they'd get clear."

"Use the soft pedal!" warned Harris. "You didn't have any such notion.
Anyhow, the law will handle you almost as it would if both boys had
been smothered to death. It wasn't anything to your credit that they
got out of that room alive. But you're not the main object of our
expedition. Where's Brady?"

"Who told you where we was?" asked Harper, ignoring the question.

"Some one gave us the tip, and that's enough for you to know. Where's
Brady?"

"I don't know where he----"

"Yes, you do!"

The muzzle of Harris' revolver was pushed closer to Harper's face. He
cringed away from it with a frightened look in his eyes.

"Don't get careless with that," he whined. "I'm not goin' to run away."

"You're right you're not. It wouldn't do you any good if you did try.
Where's Brady? I'm not going to ask you many times."

"Who're you?" demanded Harper. "What right you got to ask me things
like that?"

"I'm an officer from South Chicago," and Harris pulled back his coat
and showed the badge pinned to his vest.

"And I," spoke up Dennison, going through the same movements, "am a
Grand Haven officer. You're nigged good and plenty, my man. If you know
when you're well off, you'll help rather than hinder this game we're
playing."

Harper cast an appealing look at Ochiltree. The latter met the look
savagely.

"What ye lookin' at me fer?" he snapped. "I don't know you--never seen
ye before in my life. Ye can see what trouble ye've got me in by comin'
here. Take him away an' jug him," Ochiltree added, turning to Harris.
"He's nothin' ter me, an' I'd like ter have ye git him out o' this
house as soon as ye kin."

"We'll jug the two of you, Ochiltree," answered Dennison grimly, "until
we find out just where you stand in this business."

Ochiltree relapsed into his chair with a black scowl. This byplay
between Ochiltree and the officer did not serve to make Harper any more
easy in his mind.

"Are you going to tell us anything about Brady?" demanded Harris. "I'm
waiting."

"What's it goin' to mean to me?" asked Harper, wishing to drive some
sort of a bargain on his own account.

"It may help you, but I'm making no promises."

Harper bowed his head and, for a moment, thought the matter over.
Evidently he made up his mind that he was cornered, and that it would
be well for him to take a chance at doing something for himself.

"What do you want to know?" he queried.

"Where is Brady?" repeated Harris.

"He's out on the trolley line that leads toward Grand Rapids."

"Is the Hawk there?"

"Yes. Something went wrong with the Hawk's motor, and Brady sent me
after Ochiltree while he was tinkering with the machinery."

"Sent you after Ochiltree, did he?" echoed Harris. "Why was that?"

"Give it up. I guess Brady was plannin' to have Ochiltree help him to
steer clear of the law."

"Consarn you!" flared Ochiltree, glaring at Harper. "What ye tryin'
ter git me inter this thing fer? I'll admit I useter know Brady," he
went on, turning to Dennison and Harris, "but I ain't had a thing ter
do with him fer years. Why he comes to me now, like this, is more'n I
know."

"It looks bad for you, Ochiltree," commented Dennison.

"I know that," scowled Ochiltree, "an' all because o' this mutt. He's
doin' his best ter ring me in on the deal, but I'll swear I ain't got a
thing ter do with it."

"We'll find that out for ourselves."

"How far is the Hawk from town?" queried Harris, again taking up his
line of questioning with Harper.

"About two miles," was the prisoner's answer.

"How'll we know the place when we get to it?"

"There's a broken oak close to a platform where the cars stop to take
on an' let off passengers. Ye can't miss the place. Get off at the
platform and walk to the right, straight into the timber."

"Was Brady to wait there until you and Ochiltree joined him?"

"Yes."

"How long will it take Brady to repair the Hawk?"

"He figured on a couple of hours."

"Who's with him?"

"Pete and Whipple."

"No one else?"

"No."

"What's become of Hector, Jr.?"

"He's gone East. Brady thought Hector, Jr., had better cut out of
Chicago after what happened on the lake."

"I see." Harris turned to Dennison. "We've got a good line on Brady,"
he continued. "We'll take Harper and Ochiltree to the lockup, and then
we'll pick up another officer and go to the platform by the blasted
oak, and----"

"I know the place," broke in Dennison. "I've passed it a dozen times on
the way to Grand Rapids. The quicker we pull off the rest of this the
better."

"My notion to a t, y, ty."

Harris snapped a pair of iron bracelets about Harper's wrists, while
Dennison gave the same delicate attention to Ochiltree.

"I'm blamed if I can understand why ye're treatin' me in this way,"
growled Ochiltree.

"Your actions are suspicious," replied the Grand Haven officer.

"I can't keep crooks from callin' on me," protested Ochiltree.

"Well, you'd better," was the significant response. "Come along,
Ochiltree, and come peaceably."

Ferral walked on one side of Ochiltree, and Matt walked on one side of
Harper.

With this escort, the two prisoners were removed from the house, taken
across the river and conducted to police headquarters.

If success was to attend the rest of the officers' movements, there
was no time to be lost. The two prisoners had been paraded through
the town, and there was the possibility that the news of their arrest
might reach Brady and his men in advance of the arrival of Harris and
Dennison.

Another officer was secured. While the three plain-clothes men were
waiting for the car, Harris endeavored to persuade Matt and Ferral
to go back to the Eagle and leave the rest of the work to him, and
Dennison, and the other officer.

"Keelhaul me if I cut adrift at this stage of the game," answered
Ferral. "Why, it's just beginning to get exciting."

"I feel the same way, Harris," spoke up Matt.

"If Brady does any shooting, Matt," answered Harris, "you can gamble
that it will be in your direction. The scoundrel has got it in for you,
and he'll take any chance to play even, no matter what it costs him."

"I'll look out for myself," said Matt confidently. "Besides, Harris,
you're overlooking one important point.

"What's that?"

"Suppose Brady hasn't got the Hawk in shape. It would be necessary for
some one that understands a gasoline motor to lay hold and finish the
job. Who could do that, if I wasn't along?"

There was a brief silence, broken at last by Dennison.

"The youngster is right," said he. "Perhaps he'll be needed."

"What's more," averred Ferral, "Matt and I own the Hawk, and it's right
and proper that we should be there to look after it. If there's any
shooting, you fellows see that the air ship isn't hurt."

"We'll do our best to look after the Hawk," answered Harris, "but we
can't forget that the capture of Brady and his men is our principal
business."

"Here comes the car," announced Dennison. "Tumble aboard and we'll
start off on the last lap of the chase."



CHAPTER XIV.

THE WOODS BY THE RIVER.


There was a wait on a siding, a little way out of town, for another car
from Grand Rapids to pass on the single track of the trolley system.
Five minutes were lost, and Ferral fretted and fumed.

"Take it easy, son," said Harris soothingly. "We're on the way, you
know, and a little wait like this isn't going to make much of a
difference."

"It might, matey," answered Ferral. "A whole lot can happen in five
minutes."

At last the car got under headway again and rushed over the remaining
distance.

"I'd better get off alone," suggested Dennison, just as the car
began slowing up for the platform. "If Brady has anyone watching the
platform, the fellow won't know but that I'm Ochiltree, or some one
sent by Ochiltree and Harper. The rest of you go on a little way, get
off, and double back. Show your badge to the conductor, Harris, and
he'll let you off anywhere."

This was a good idea, and Dennison deserved credit for thinking of it
at the last moment. The success of the whole plan might depend upon the
ruse.

Dennison debarked on the platform, and, when the car pulled out, those
still aboard saw him stepping off the planks and pushing into the
timber that grew close up to the stopping place.

Matt and Ferral, as the car went on, saw the broken oak at the end
of the platform. It was a plain enough landmark and not easily to be
passed or mistaken.

"Harper is playing square with us, matey," remarked Ferral, pointing to
the tree.

"It looks that way, Dick," agreed Matt.

"Here's where we get back our air ship," jubilated Ferral. "Sink me,
though, but the loss of that flugee gave me a scare."

"We haven't got it back yet, old chap."

"I know that, but I feel in my bones that we're going to. I----"

Just then the car began to slow down. Harris had got out of his seat,
with the other officer, and had gone back to the conductor. Evidently
the badges worn by the two men had caused him to slow down the express
car for a halt in defiance of rules.

The boys, heeding a call from Harris, got up and ran back along the
aisle. They jumped off, after the two officers, and the car resumed its
course to Grand Rapids. But there was a mighty curious conductor on the
rear platform. As long as the car remained in sight of the four who had
debarked, he looked back and wondered what was up.

"We'll go back quietly," said Harris. "The river is just over there,
and the woods lie between it and the trolley line. We'll get to the
river bank and follow it back. That ought to bring us out close to
the place where the Hawk landed. Follow me, Twitchell," he added to
the other officer, "and you boys," he finished, "come along behind
Twitchell. Quiet's the word."

Harris darted into the timber, which bordered the track closely. The
underbrush had evidently been cleaned out, so that the timber had the
appearance of a grove. On one of the trees, near the track, Matt saw a
big white sign bearing the words, "Lots for Sale."

The river, as it proved, was hardly more than a stone's throw from the
trolley track. Turning along its bank, Harris led the way back toward
the vicinity of the broken oak and the platform.

They all knew they had not far to go, but they were startled at the
suddenness with which Harris turned on them before they had followed
the river bank for more than two or three minutes.

"I can see the Hawk," whispered Harris. "She's just ahead. And Brady is
there--and Dennison, too. They're talking. I can't see Pete or Whipple,
and those rascals may be laying low to carry out some black plan of
Brady's--but we'll see about that. Come along, and keep behind the
trees as much as you can."

As Harris turned about, he drew his revolver. Twitchell likewise got
out a weapon. Then the party separated, and each advanced from tree to
tree.

It was not long before Matt and Ferral, who were advancing near each
other, were able to get a good look at their air ship.

The Hawk had descended in a cleared space hard by the river, and seemed
to be in good condition. She was moored to the ground with two ropes at
the front and rear of the car, the ropes being tied to trees.

Coming a little closer, the boys were able to see Brady and Dennison.

Brady had his coat off and his shirt sleeves rolled up. He was holding
a heavy wrench in his hand and had evidently been working with the
motor when Dennison presented himself. The two men were talking, and
Matt and Ferral were able to hear what passed between them.

"What did you say your name was?" inquired Brady, evidently distrustful.

"Gammon," answered Dennison. "I'm a pal o' Ochiltree's."

"Where's Harper?"

"He stayed behind at Ochiltree's house."

"Why was that? I told Harper to come and to bring Ochiltree with him."

"I'll tell ye the why of it, Brady. Ye see, the perlice are watchin'
Ochiltree good and hard, an' if he was seen comin' here with Harper,
the two of 'em might be follered. Ochiltree got word ter me ter come
an' put the situation up to you, an' to tell ye that he an' Harper 'u'd
be along when it got dark, as it wasn't safe ter come in broad day."

"I see," muttered Brady, studying Dennison with his gimlet eyes.

"Harper said ye had two more men with ye," went on Dennison, playing
his game easily and evidently edging closer for a chance to lay hold of
Brady and make him a prisoner. "Where are they?"

"They're off watching the platform. I reckon they'll be along in a
minute. Prob'ly they followed you, and----"

At that precise moment, Pete and Whipple broke out of the timber. They
came up directly behind Dennison and laid hands on him before he could
make a move to defend himself.

"What you doing?" yelled Brady, leaping forward.

"Grabbing an officer," said Whipple, with an oath. "His name's Gammon,
all right, an' the talk he was givin' ye, Brady, was pure gammon, an'
nothin' else."

"How's that?"

Brady's voice, as he put the question, was hard and metallic, and he
measured Dennison with glistening eyes.

"Why," explained Whipple, "when he got off'n the keer we seen some
'un else through a winder. I'm a sinner if it wasn't Matt King. Now,
whatever was King doin' on that keer? By rights, he ort ter hev got
shuffled out o' the game, across the lake in that balloon house. But
he didn't, an' here he is, travelin' on the same keer with a feller as
says his name is Gammon, an' that he comes from Ochiltree."

Dennison, as he was held helpless in the hands of Pete and Whipple, was
studying the timber covertly, but none the less anxiously.

"What have you got to say for yourself?" cried Brady, advancing
threateningly upon Dennison.

Matt and Ferral had been wondering why Harris and Twitchell had not
shown themselves. Unable to hold back any longer, the boys dashed
forward.

The noise they made drew the instant attention of Brady, Whipple and
Pete.

"There's King now!" yelled Pete.

In a twinkling, Brady dropped the wrench and drew a revolver.

A sharp, incisive note echoed through the woods and across the river.
Matt felt the wind of the bullet as it passed his face.

"Look out, matey!" bellowed Ferral. "Duck for a tree! You're not armed,
and can't take any chances. He's going to shoot again."

But it was not necessary for Matt to get behind a tree. Before Brady
could fire another shot in his direction, Harris and Twitchell rushed
upon the scene.

"Drop your guns!" cried Harris sternly. "Stand right where you are!
You're our prisoners!"

Brady, however, was made of sterner stuff. A prison cell was yawning to
receive him, and he knew it.

Whipple and Pete, astounded by this sudden demonstration, paused
undecided. Their fingers relaxed, and Dennison leaped away from them.

"Treachery!" roared Brady; "Harper has sold us out! Fight for it, boys!"

Dennison, being nearer Brady than any of the rest, jumped for him.
He tried to draw his revolver, but it stuck in his pocket. Brady
had leveled his weapon at point-blank range, and only Motor Matt's
quickness, at that moment, saved the officer's life.

Matt, watching the fight breathlessly, had instinctively picked up a
stone. Now, seeing Dennison's danger, he hurled the stone at Brady with
all his strength.

The missile sped true, struck Brady's arm with terrific force and
caused the revolver to drop. With wild yells, Harris and Twitchell
rushed forward to capture Brady and his two men.

But Pete and Whipple, not knowing the extent of the forces against
them, thought best to trust their liberty to their heels. Whirling
around, they darted into the timber, leaping from tree to tree as they
ran in order to screen themselves from any bullets that might be sent
after them.

The bullets came fast and thick, but evidently without doing any
damage, for Whipple and Pete did not slacken pace.

Brady, swearing like a pirate, turned on Dennison like a madman,
grabbed him about the waist and, with a tremendous display of strength,
held the officer in front of him. Still swearing, he began backing into
the timber, with the intention of making his escape as Pete and Whipple
had done.

Seeing that he would be likely to effect his purpose, Matt and Ferral
doubled around behind him and suddenly hurled themselves upon him from
the rear.

Brady fought like a tiger. Matt could not have believed that one man
possessed so much strength. Dennison, whose temper was fiercely aroused
by the turn events had taken, jerked loose from Brady and turned to
help the boys.

Harris and Twitchell, seeing that Brady was as good as captured, took
after Pete and Whipple.



CHAPTER XV.

BRADY A PRISONER.


Matt, Ferral and Dennison were not long in getting the whip hand of
Hector Brady. As Matt and the officer held him down, Dennison called to
Ferral to get a rope.

Ferral got a rope from the car and the desperate thief was finally
secured, wrist and ankle. Even then he continued to struggle and roar
his defiance of his captors.

"You might as well calm down," cried Dennison, picking up the revolver
which Matt's missile had knocked from Brady's hand. "Your goose is
cooked, Brady, and there's no use tiring yourself out."

After a few moments Brady seemed to realize this.

"You've got me, but you won't keep me," he snarled.

"If you can get away from us," replied the officer, "you're welcome to
your liberty. But you won't get away. I had too close a call at your
hands to let you do that."

"Who in the fiend's name are you?"

"A plain-clothes man from the Grand Haven police headquarters."

"Did you get this tip from Harper?"

"Harper couldn't help himself. He and Ochiltree are in the lockup."

Dennison turned to Matt and grabbed his hand.

"If it hadn't been for you, King," said he, "I'd have been laid out.
You were quick as a cat and as certain as fate. I never met your kind
before, and it does me good to shake hands with you. I'm mighty glad,"
he added, with a grin, "that we couldn't persuade you to stay behind,
in Grand Haven."

"That's the way this raggie of mine does things, Dennison," remarked
Ferral, looking at Matt admiringly. "He's chain lightning when he turns
himself loose."

"The best part of it all is," observed Matt, anxious to change the
subject, "no harm has happened to the air ship."

Throwing off his coat and cap, Matt lost not a moment in diving into
the machinery. He could see nothing wrong, and he "turned over" the
engine and set it to going. It worked perfectly.

"If you're looking for trouble," growled Brady, turning his head
to follow Matt's movements, "you won't find any. I've fixed the
motor--just got through with it when this cop in plain clothes showed
up. If I'd known who he was----" and Brady finished with a diabolical
light in his eyes that told plainly what he would have done.

"Pass it up," said Dennison curtly; "you came within an ace of getting
me, as it was."

"King balked me again, just as he has been doing right along," went on
Brady fiercely. "I'd willingly have gone to Joliet for life if I could
have nicked him. He's the cause of all my troubles."

"Bully for King!" applauded Dennison. "The more I hear of him the
higher he stacks up with me."

"Who put you next to where I was going, King?" demanded Brady.

"Never mind about that," replied Matt, getting into his coat and cap
again. "We've captured you, Brady, and that's enough for you to know."

"Captured, but not sent up," qualified Brady. "Nor I won't be sent up.
I'll live and have my liberty until I can settle accounts with Motor
Matt and some more of you fellows."

"Let him rave," laughed Dennison. "That's the only thing he can do, and
it won't hurt anybody."

"If it was that girl of mine that tipped me off to you and Harris,"
went on Brady, "she's one of those who'll come in for a fair share of
the trouble I'm going to turn loose. Nice kind of a daughter she is!
It's been the grief of my life that she never was more like Hector, Jr."

Matt listened to this in amazement, and his heart sickened as he turned
away.

At that moment, Harris and Twitchell came hurrying back.

"Where are the other two?" cried Dennison.

"I'd give a bunch of pay if I knew," answered Harris, very much put
out. "We couldn't locate them, and the thing for us to do, Dennison, is
to get back to headquarters and use the telegraph and the telephone."

He hurried forward to Brady's side.

"You're in Michigan," said he, "and you're wanted in Illinois. Will you
waive requisition?"

"Waive nothing!" shouted Brady. "All you get out of me you'll fight
for."

"Personally," said Harris contemptuously, "I don't care a toss-up.
We've got you, Brady, and we've got you right. By staying in Michigan
until requisition papers are put through you're only delaying a game
that can have only one termination."

"Well," was the scowling response, "we'll wait for the termination.
Maybe somebody will get fooled before we're at the end of this."

Harris turned away to Matt and Ferral.

"Twitchell, Dennison and I," said he, "will take Brady to Grand Haven
and put him in the lockup with Harper. They'll both stand out for
requisition, and they'll have to be left on this side of the lake until
our governor can get the case before the Michigan executive. Have you
looked over the Hawk, Matt?"

"Yes."

"Much tinkering to be done on her?"

"Brady had already fixed the motor so that it works as well as ever."

"Then you and Ferral had better get aboard and make a getaway to the
place where Jerrold and Carl have the other air ship. As soon as I
finish my work in Grand Haven, I'll join you and we'll all go back to
South Chicago together. Your hard luck has certainly taken a turn for
the better, Matt, and we want to make sure that you don't have any more
backsets. Whipple and Pete are loose in the timber, and I'll bet they'd
give their eyeteeth to be able to capture the Hawk. We want to keep
them from doing that, or from trying it. We'll take Brady back on the
trolley, but before we start I want to see you well away in the Hawk."

"It won't take us more than a couple of minutes to get under way,"
returned Matt. "All aboard, pard," he added to Ferral. "Get into our
air ship, old chap, and we'll go on a still hunt for Carl and Jerrold
and the Eagle."

"Aye, aye, Captain Matt," laughed Ferral, getting into the car.

Matt followed him aboard and settled himself in the driver's seat.

"Cast off the ropes, Harris, you and Dennison," called Matt.

Harris was familiar with that part of the work, and he and Dennison
soon had the air ship unmoored and the cables in the car. The river
offered a clear stretch for rising, and Matt turned the Hawk in that
direction.

The motor began to pop and then to settle down to a steady hum. Matt
manipulated the steering rudder, switched the power into the propeller,
and the Hawk arose gracefully accompanied by the cheers of the officers.

But no cheers came from Brady. With baleful eyes he watched the Hawk's
departure.

"That's the second time you've taken my air ship away from me, King,"
he roared. "The next time----"

"There'll never be a next time," cried Harris. "You're down and out,
Brady, and you'd better begin to realize it."

Up and up mounted the Hawk, the river lying below her like a silver
ribbon, entangled among the greenery of the trees. Off to the west
sparkled the waters of the lake, and in between the Hawk and the shore
lay Grand Haven, cottages and farms, all spread out like a map.

"Getting a bird's-eye view of a scene is a heap finer than looking at
it from the ground," observed Ferral, leaning over the Hawk's rail and
feasting his eyes on the panorama below.

"We're in good trim to enjoy looking down at the landscape from the
Hawk," laughed Matt.

"Right-o, matey," answered the young sailor. "I'd about given up ever
taking another ride in the Hawk. We're thirty-five hundred to the good
by this afternoon's work."

"That's the least of what we have accomplished," said Matt. "The
capture of Brady is a bigger thing than the recovery of the air ship."

"I guess that's right," said Ferral, "but I'm sorry those other two
beachcombers got away. They'll be making trouble for some one later."

"Harris will get quick action over the telegraph and telephone,"
said Matt, "and the chances are good for the overhauling of Pete and
Whipple."

"I hope so, and that's a fact. Say, I'll bet Carl and Jerrold will be
surprised when they see the Hawk coming for their part of the beach."

"Keep a good lookout, Dick, and let me know when you sight the Eagle.
This is unfamiliar territory to me, and your eyes will have to guide
us."

"As I get the bearings," said Ferral, leaning over the rail and peering
ahead, "we ought to be about east by north of where we want to land.
When we took the trolley we went east."

"That's right," returned Matt. "Keep your gaze south and west, and you
ought to be able to pick up the Eagle."

A few moments later Ferral sighted the swaying bulk of the other air
ship.

"Bear to the left a little, Matt," said he, "and we'll come down right
where we want to go. I can see Jerrold and Carl standing on the beach
and looking up at us. I'll bet they're wondering whether we're in the
car, or whether Brady and his gang are the passengers."

"Wave something at them," suggested Matt. "We don't want to scare them."

Ferral waved his handkerchief. This calmed the fears of Carl and
Jerrold, if they had had any, and Ferral reported that they were waving
their hats.

A few moments later Matt engineered an easy landing, and the Hawk was
moored within a dozen yards of the Eagle.



CHAPTER XVI.

BACK IN SOUTH CHICAGO.


There was some great rejoicing on Carl's part when he learned what had
happened in Grand Haven and out along the trolley line to Grand Rapids.

"Ach, aber dot all sounds too goot to be droo!" exulted the Dutch boy.
"I vish I hat peen dere during der fragas. Ferral vas fooling mit me
ven he saidt dot Jerrold und I mighdt haf more drouples as der resdt
oof you. Dere don'd vas any tanger oof dot at any stage oof der game.
Prady gaptured! Hoop-a-la! Aber der pest oof all iss dot der Hawk is
pack vere she pelongs, und dot pooty soon, pympy, Modor Matt, Tick
Ferral und Carl Pretzel vill sail avay mit demselufs py Noo York. Der
palloon-house plot ditn't vork oudt like Prady t'ought."

"It would have worked out just as he planned," said Matt, "if it hadn't
been for Helen Brady."

"Yah, so! Miss Prady safed der tay for all oof us. Ven ve shdart for
Noo York now, Matt? Oof ve vaid too long, den meppy dose odder two
fellers, Vipple und Pete, vill hatch some more plots. I don'd like dot.
Der kevicker vat ve get avay, der pedder all aroundt."

"Carl's got the marlinspike by the right end, old ship," said Ferral to
Matt.

"That may be," answered Matt, "but I think we ought to find out
something more about what Helen Brady intends doing before we leave
Chicago."

"Right-o!" agreed Ferral. "I was forgetting about that. She's mighty
independent, though, and I doubt whether she'll let us do much to help
her."

"That's one of the things I like about Helen Brady."

Matt went over the Hawk and found that she would need more gasoline
before the trip back across the lake was attempted.

Jerrold was also wanting a supply, and he and Matt, leaving Carl and
Ferral in charge of both air ships, started for the nearest house to
find out where they could get the fuel of which they stood in need.

They found that gasoline was used for cooking, and for manufacturing
gas for lighting, in the house where they inquired. The man who owned
the place kindly offered to let the air ship owners have all they
needed.

In less than an hour Matt and Jerrold were back and filling their
gasoline tanks.

A little later Harris reached the scene. The sun was down and darkness
was coming on.

"I couldn't get away any quicker," explained Harris. "I am leaving
everything in good shape here, though. Harper is willing to go back to
South Chicago without any requisition papers, but I thought it best
to let him stay and take him across the lake at the same time we took
Brady."

"I should think that would be better," agreed Matt.

"Harper is ready to turn states' evidence against the gang in the hope
of getting a light sentence," went on Harris. "He claims to know where
some more stolen property has been secreted, so I suppose there will
be a few happy people in South Chicago if he proves that he knows what
he's talking about."

"The law will deal lightly with Harper, I suppose," put in Jerrold, "if
he does all that."

"I guess so, but the law will not let him off scot free. Harper will go
to the 'pen,' but he won't get anywhere near the sentence that Brady
will."

"How long will Brady go up for?"

"That's hard to say, but it will be long enough to keep him out of
mischief for twenty or thirty years."

"What is going to be done with Ochiltree?" asked Matt.

"Nothing. Ochiltree will be kept in the lockup until the officers in
this part of Michigan have had a chance to capture Whipple and Pete.
After that, Ochiltree will be turned loose."

"What are the chances for capturing Whipple and Pete?"

"Good. We have used the wires in every direction, and also coupled a
description of Grove with the descriptions of the other two."

"Why, shiver me," cried Ferral, "I hadn't thought about Grove! What
became of him, Harris?"

"Harper says that Grove was put down on the lake shore, just before
Brady and the rest started across. I don't know how true that is, and
I'm just telling you what Harper told me. But Harper's information has
panned out straight goods, so far. He says that Grove showed signs of
weakening, and that Brady, in a temper, cut loose from him. It may be
that Grove will join Whipple and Pete, somehow, and I thought it well
to telephone and telegraph his description along with the others. But
what are we going to do, Jerrold? Wait here until morning?"

"I don't think we'd better," said Jerrold. "The night bids fair to be
as calm as the day has been, and we can cross the lake easily enough
by moonlight. If we wait until to-morrow we may have a high wind, and
perhaps a storm. Air ships, and flying machines of every sort, ought
to be under cover in a time like that. We'd better make the most of the
good weather. Don't you think so, Matt?"

"You know more about air ships than I do, Mr. Jerrold," answered Matt,
"but, from my brief experience with the Hawk, I think a storm would be
bad business for an air ship. I've weathered out storms in balloons,
but it's possible, with just a plain gas bag, to get above the clouds
and the tempest. You can't safely do that with machines like ours."

"Well," said Harris, "if we're going to South Chicago to-night, the
quicker we start the quicker we'll get there. I'll confess I'm not in
love with the idea of hanging out on this beach all night with these
two air ships. We can't tell what might happen, with Grove, and Pete,
and Whipple at large."

"Then," said Jerrold, "we'll pull out at once. You start first, Matt,
and we'll follow."

"I'll ride mit my bards," said Carl, "und Harris can come mit you,
Misder Jerrold."

The ropes were cast off and Matt manoeuvred the Hawk upward and out
above the lake. When they had got a good "offing," as Ferral described
it, those in the car could look back and see the dark, weird shape of
the Eagle flinging itself upward against the lighter background of sky.

What little wind there had been, during the day, had gone down with the
sun, and perfect silence, save for the lapping of the waves, reigned on
every hand.

The Eagle soon overhauled the Hawk, and side by side the two air ships
made toward the Illinois shore.

Could anyone in a boat have seen the air ships, the sight presented
would have been strangely exciting. The spectacle would have been
prophetic, too, of man's coming command of an element heretofore out of
his reach.

As time passed, the moon arose as if out of the water, and a scene of
weird beauty unrolled to those aboard the Hawk and the Eagle.

"I vould radder be a sailor oof der air dan oof der sea," remarked
Carl, breaking a silence during which all hands had been enjoying their
novel surroundings.

"Why so, Carl?" came across from the Eagle, in the voice of Harris.

"Pecause," said Carl, "you got four vays to go insteadt oof two. In a
sea ship, you don't vas aple to go oop und town."

"Once in awhile, matey," laughed Ferral, "a sea ship goes down."

"Yah," averred Carl, "und she shdays town. Go on mit dot song vat you
vas singing mit yourseluf, Tick, der dime vat you vas coming py der
poarding house to see Matt. It vas a pooty fine song, I tell you dot."

Ferral had a fine voice, and he at once broke into "In Cawsand Bay
Lying," and followed it through from start to finish.

Harris thereupon tuned up, and when he got through Carl piped out in
German. This singing was kept up, off and on, during the entire trip
across the lake.

It was decided, just as the air ships were hoving over South Chicago,
that Matt and his chums should take the Hawk to the balloon house and
stow her away there. Harris would go on to Jerrold's place in the
Eagle, and then send a couple of policemen from headquarters to watch
the Hawk until the boys were ready to leave.

This programme was carried out without a break. It was about three
o'clock in the morning when the boys got their sand bags in place along
the bottom rail of the car and towed the Hawk into her old berth.

Half an hour after that a detail of two officers arrived and went on
guard. Matt, Ferral and Carl went into the small room at the back of
the balloon house, and two of them took possession of the cots and the
third had a bed made for him on the floor. It was Carl who stretched
out between the two cots, and it was he who remarked, just before he
dozed off to sleep:

"You fellers came pooty near daking a long shleep here, hey?"

"Stow it, matey!" cried Ferral. "I'll be dreaming about that now."

"Ach, donnervetter!" returned Carl, "dere iss pedder t'ings as dot to
tream aboudt, Ferral. For insdunce, tream oof der vay Matt shtruck
some shtreaks oof hardt luck, und den turned der hardt luck to goot
atvantage py gedding Prady gaptured."

"And recovering the Hawk," added Matt. "There's a silver lining to
every cloud, Dick."

"There's never a flat foot nor a shellback but will tell you same
thing, messmate," agreed Ferral heartily. "Good night, or good morning,
whichever you want. I'm ready to take my stretch off the land, and here
goes."

Two minutes later the fateful old balloon house was steeped in silence.


THE END.


THE NEXT NUMBER (11) WILL CONTAIN

Motor Matt's Daring Rescue

OR,

The Strange Case of Helen Brady.


  The Disappearance of Helen Brady--The Important Letter--By the Old
  Quarry--A Queer Situation--Pete and Whipple Make a Capture--Brady's
  Proposition--A Surprise at Hooligan's--Back to the Canal--Brady
  Returns With Hot News--The Mansion On the River--The Fight--Daring
  Work--Helen's Ordeal--The Capture of Pete and Whipple.



MOTOR STORIES

THRILLING ADVENTURE MOTOR FICTION

NEW YORK, May 1, 1909.

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THE RED SPIDER.


"This," said Phil Clode, setting down his bag, "is the limit!"

Having given vent to which expressive remark, he laughed to himself
and gazed round upon the most desolate scene that it had ever been
his fortune to behold. Behind him stood a small, wooden erection, not
unlike an enlarged run, which was, however, dignified by the name of
station. For the rest, a clove-brown plain stretched away to infinity,
marred only by the shining ribbons of the railway track and an
occasional clump of cactus or greaseweed.

"The limit," the boy repeated solemnly. "Hullo! there's a man, or
something very like one. I will get a line on to his vicinity, and try
to extract a little useful information."

Picking up his grip, he hustled over to where a specimen of the cowboy
genus had lounged from behind the station, leading a broncho that
looked rather the worse for wear. Phil, as he approached, saw that
a bag branded with the sign "U. S. Mail" was slung over the beast's
saddle, and his eyes brightened. He knew that even in that deserted
region of Colorado any servant of Uncle Sam's could be trusted.

"Say," he sang out. "Can you give me any notion where I am, mister? I
was told to get off at Silver Bridge, and here I am right enough, but I
can't see much sign of the town."

"You on foot?" the other returned with undisguised astonishment. "You
must be stark----"

"Broncho waiting for me at Silver Bridge," Phil interrupted shortly. He
had urgent reasons for not wishing to talk about his private affairs.

"So?" the man muttered with a sidelong glance. He had a pleasant face,
rough but good humored, and the lad took to him instinctively. "You're
an Easterner, ain't yeh?"

"Yes, and proud of it."

"That's all right. I'm from the East, too, only I've been here so long
that yeh wouldn't think it. I guess yeh'd better hop up behind me,
pardner. Betsy's a game chicken--she's carried three before now."

"You going to Silver Bridge, then?" Phil queried as the cowboy stroked
the unprepossessing broncho fondly.

"I should smile. I'm cattle tender to the ore-crushing plant there."

Phil received this information with a start, but made no remark. In
silence he mounted behind the man, who gave his name as Idaho Bart, and
felt with some surprise the plain bumping rapidly away beneath them, as
the broncho, becoming a bunch of throbbing muscles, pounded eastward
with the regularity of tirelessness of a steam engine.

The mail rider did not seem disposed to let the silence continue. Out
West curiosity about another man's affairs is usually the signal for
gun play, but Idaho Bart proceeded to break the rule by a series of
interrogations of the most pointed and particular description.

Phil Clode, however, was old for his years, and he met him at every
point, giving a false name, and a reason for his arrival at Silver
Bridge that was so obviously wide of the truth that the mail carrier,
having turned in the saddle to fix him with a twinkling eye, emitted a
short laugh, and relapsed into taciturnity.

This muteness remained undisturbed until they were in sight of Silver
Bridge, the big ore-crushing town, the shares of which, back in Wall
Street, were at a premium. It appeared suddenly as they topped a
swelling hill that surrounded two sides of the city like a wall, and
Phil surveyed it with the curiosity of first acquaintance. It reminded
him of a battle ship out of action--of something Titanic which is
wrapped in incongruous slumber. Though only midday, not a sound rose
from the vast collection of shacks and wooden buildings. The mighty ore
crushers and distributors were idle, the men lounged listlessly round
the two hotels, and the river swirled past unstained by the red of
washed metal.

The river? In those two words lay the tragedy--the reason of the
inaction that spelled ruin to thousands, including the canvas-coated
men who diced and gambled and swore in the saloons. For the river was
now a mere meandering stream, and the power that worked the mills was
gone, leaving the great plant worse than useless, for it would cost
more than it was worth to entrain it to any place where there would be
the likelihood of a buyer.

"Looks pleasant, I don't think," Idaho Bart said bitterly as he watched
Phil's keen, dark eyes glancing over the drowsy, deserted streets,
splashed golden by the afternoon sun. "Two weeks ago yeh would have
opined that yeh were back in New York. Busy? I guess we had got the
Fountain of Youth faded to a Harlem ash can, when it came to hustling."

"And now the river's gone," the boy rejoined quietly. His remarks were
all couched to extract information without giving any in return.

"Say, that's a right hook on the jaw of truth! It's a lead-pipe cinch
that this is about the most mysterious thing that ever gave a whole
layout brain storm. The river stopped in the night, and we woke up to
find this here dribble. The men are going to pike out, if there don't
come a change 'fore Saturday."

Phil muttered something to himself.

"Why don't you find out what has dammed the source of the river?" he
asked a moment later.

"Say, yeh are a young green-growing thing, all ready canned and
labeled!" Bart sniggered. "Do you know that the source of Silver River
is up in Black Cañon?"

"What of that?" queried Phil ingenuously.

"Oh, come off! This ain't the season for spring chickens, I reckon.
I only know of three men what have been into Black Cañon, and come
out alive. Two o' them were engineers belonging to the United States
Reclamation Service, and they had the time of their lives. The other
was a Indian, and went in to escape the posse that was trailing him for
hoss stealing. He said afterwards that he wished he'd stopped and been
lynched."

Phil made no reply to these revelations, for they were now in the main
thoroughfare of Silver Bridge, and the ore-stained men were lounging
up with a tumultuous outcry for the mail. They also bestowed upon the
boy the benefit of their rather doubtful wit, but, finding that they
got rather better than they sent, soon betook themselves back to the
enticements of the saloons, leaving Idaho Bart to take the few official
letters up to the office.

"Say, kid, where are yeh going?" he drawled as he strode away with the
loping movement peculiar to the riders of the plains.

"To Mr. Allsoner," Phil returned carelessly, keeping pace with him.

He made a clucking sound in his cheek.

"If yeh are after a job, yeh'd better carry your store clothes away
along the shining homeward track right now," he said poetically. "Old
Allsoner's hoppin' mad, and he'll have yer scalp before yeh could say
Teddy."

"I don't want a job," was the irritating reply, and Phil grinned as he
noted the other's mystification.

The office of Mr. Allsoner, general manager of Clode's Silver Bridge
Reducing Company, Limited, was not an imposing structure. In fact,
it might well have been taken for a stack of damaged firewood by
the uninitiated, but Phil Clode did not make this mistake. Suddenly
shouldering his way ahead of Idaho Bart, he entered the office at a
run, and disappeared into the manager's private office--the most sacred
spot in the whole townstead--with a coolness that left the two clerks
in the outer department absolutely petrified.

Mr. Allsoner, however, was far from being petrified, and he had already
used more adjectives than could be found in any dictionary before he
looked up, started as though he could scarcely believe the evidence of
his senses, and ejaculated:

"Phil Clode!"

"Yes, it's me," was the ungrammatical rejoinder. "Father's got to
keep his eye on the market, or we'd go up in a balloon before an hour
was through, and there was nobody else to come. Mr. Allsoner, there's
treachery afloat."

The keen-eyed business man uttered an exclamation of wonderment, and
then, rising, locked the door.

"Spit it out," he said tersely.

"You know our river is stopped."

"I do."

"It's been dammed purposely."

The manager had just seated himself, but he leaped up again at these
quietly spoken words.

"Nonsense! The source is in Black Cañon."

He made his rejoinder with an air of finality, as though there was no
room left for argument.

"Nevertheless, father overheard a conversation between two Wall Street
brokers that convinced him that they have paid some bad man to dam the
river for a time. It's a certainty, not guesswork."

Mr. Allsoner stared at him in bewilderment.

"I may be dense, Phil, but I fail to see what good damming our river
would do to anybody."

"You are dense," smiled the boy. "Don't you see? Silver Bridge river
runs dry. Panic in Wall Street, and two-hundred-dollar shares sold in
bucketfuls, and bought by the men who have had the river dammed. Then,
after, say, a month, when they've got control of every share in the
market, down comes the river again, up go the shares to top notch, and
they've netted a cool million."

Silence reigned for a minute, while the manager reviewed this startling
idea. Then he murmured "Jove!" in the tone of one seeing visions.

"You couldn't tell me who's working the rig, could you?" he asked
facetiously. The realization that the stoppage was only temporary acted
like a tonic. "The boys would give him a lively time, if they got their
fingers in his wool. It would be a case of the nearest telegraph pole."

"The man mentioned," Phil answered in a cautious whisper, "was
nicknamed Red Spider."

"What! By heavens, you are right! Red Spider is an outlaw half-breed,
horse stealer, cattle runner, murderer, and everything else abominable.
He is known to have a cache up in the hills, too."

"Then catch Red Spider before eleven o'clock to-morrow. At that hour
there is a meeting, and the state of affairs here will become public
property. The river must be running before then."

"There isn't a man here that will go into the Black Cañon, and I don't
blame them," the manager declared hopelessly. "It's certain death."

"What Red Spider can do we must do."

"He's discovered some secret way. Besides, a cross between an Omaha
Indian and a Mexican produces something tougher than a white man."

"I start at midnight," said Phil Clode, strolling toward the door.

It was a few minutes after midnight when Phil Clode rode out of the
town.

He was alone. As one man the ore workers had jeered at the idea of
attempting to penetrate into the famous Black Cañon. They had already
been as far as possible, and found the river unstopped. It had failed
at its source, they argued. Such things had been heard of before. Mr.
Allsoner did not agree with this latter conclusion, but he was entirely
convinced that any attempt to enter the cañon would be futile, and he
did not scruple to tell Phil so.

The boy, however, although he pretended to accept the manager's
decision as final, secretly determined to make an attempt at solving
the mystery single-handed. He knew that the failure to resume
operations on the morrow would mean ruin to his father, and with the
impetuosity of youth he stigmatized the ore workers as a pack of
"superstitious grandmothers."

Once out of sight of the camp, he urged his game little steed to a
gallop, and set off to where the mountains rose stark and flat against
the mauve-colored rim of the horizon, keeping his course by the dried
river bed that led the way into the very heart of Black Cañon.

After about an hour's hard riding the track grew even too steep for
the broncho, and Phil, tethering the animal to a rock, made his way
forward on foot. Gradually the walls of rock rose up and encompassed
him, leaving only a strip of sky faintly seen above his head, and the
stillness became so unearthly that he paused occasionally to cast a
stone down a chasm for the mere pleasure of hearing it rattle.

Arrived at the entrance of the cañon, he halted and surveyed the way
for a few minutes. As Allsoner had told him, the river--now a morass of
horrible mud--entirely filled the gulch from side to side, rendering
progress without a boat an impossibility. The dam controlling the
flow, however, was built half a mile farther up, and this was reached
by a species of aërial railway, built on the plan of the old overhead
switchbacks, with a car slung to a double rope, worked by block and
pulley on the return journey.

It was certainly not an inviting mode of progression, but Phil did not
falter. Setting his teeth, he grasped the iron ladder that led up to
the summit of the first trestle, and mounted steadily. By the time that
he reached the top the wind was shrieking in his ears with demoniac
fury, and the trestle seemed to sway bodily before the furious gusts,
although only a mild and gentle breeze could be felt in the cañon below.

Buttoning his fluttering jacket tightly around him, he stepped
nervously on to the flat, swaying car, and fumbled with the two hooks
that held it in place, being secured to a couple of iron rings in the
top corners.

With a sudden swoop the frail craft left its moorings, and Phil found
himself spinning at a dizzy speed through space. Presently the slope
became less steep, and as his conveyance slackened speed he was able to
look about him.

Not that there was much to be seen, even though the moon rendered it
nearly as light as day. Before him the ropes ran on in an everlasting
stream, and on each side nothing was visible but the walls of rock,
smoothed in places by human handiwork to allow of the passage of the
traveling cradle. Occasionally the car would almost stop as it passed
with a shock over the platform of one of the trestles, and Phil found
that, by clutching the railings at the proper moment, he could arrest
it without feeling any particular strain.

He had closed his eyes, and was almost enjoying the rush through the
scented night air, when he felt a sudden shudder run through the car,
as if it had struck against something. Opening his eyes hastily, he
peered round, and then a terrified cry rose to his lips.

The swaying cradle had a new passenger, in the shape of a picturesquely
garbed Mexican, who glared upon the boy with fierce wolfish orbs, fiery
and bloodshot, as he flourished a long-barreled revolver in his face.

Phil did not need to inquire who the stranger was.

He guessed, and rightly, that it was Red Spider, the outlaw of the
plains, who stood before him.

"Carajo!" the man hissed gutturally, thrusting the firearm forward
until it snicked the boy's nose. "Whose baby are you? Why are you here?
Answer, or over the side you go!"

Leaning forward, he seized Phil's wrist in a vise-like grip, and forced
him slowly toward the edge of the car.

"Come to that, who are you?" the boy retorted pluckily. "You've got
less right than I have to be here, I guess."

The half-breed's teeth grated with fury at this impertinence.

"I am left here to guard the trestle railway," he yelled, with a curse.
"And my duty is to shoot brats who have no business here!"

He pushed the revolver into Phil's face, gradually forcing him nearer
and nearer to the edge of the vibrating car.

"You find so many boys trying to steal rides on the trolleys, don't
you?" that worthy choked, keeping his wits by a mighty effort of will.
He could see that they were rushing rapidly toward the last platform,
and, if he managed to cling on till then, he might manage to escape,
hopeless as it seemed.

Reaching out as the Red Spider made a vicious lunge, he caught hold
of one of the iron crossbars that secured the car to the rope, and
held on like grim death. The outlaw, with a shriek of fury, lifted
his revolver, and his finger was pressing upon the trigger when the
last platform stopped their progress with appalling abruptness. Phil,
clinging desperately as he was, narrowly escaped being flung off, and
the Mexican, unprepared for the impact, literally hurtled through the
air. Over the boy's head he flew, spread-eagled and screaming, and went
down--down--down, with the swiftness of a shot bird, and disappeared
into the purple mists that veiled the bottom of the cañon from sight.
A crash, a single soul-appalling scream, and Red Spider had vanished
forever from the sight of men.

Sick at heart, Phil Clode lay for a few minutes without tempting to
move. Then he rose cautiously, and, keeping his eyes averted from the
dreadful cañon, commenced the descent. Before he had reached the bottom
all his natural courage had returned, and he pressed on with renewed
energy, inspired by the idea that the outlaw might have left some trail
which would lead to his hiding place.

It was black as within a tomb now, for the rocky walls towered up and
up higher than the eye could reach.

The track was no more than a smear along the face of the cliff, and
Phil began to realize the difficulties that he was to encounter as
he proceeded inch by inch, clinging on with teeth and hands, with a
thousand-foot drop waiting below. The path, too, grew narrower, and
he was just about to relinquish his herculean task in despair when he
saw a gleam of light--lantern light--searing the eternal glooms like a
streak of fire, and not twenty yards ahead of him as he rounded a sharp
bend.

In another minute Red Spider's secret lay revealed.

A square of rock, fitted with powerful hinges, had been opened inward,
and the lantern set in the entrance as a guiding light when the
outlaw returned. Beyond, the path grew so narrow that it was a human
impossibility to scale it; below, until the mysterious catastrophe of
its cessation, lay the river, sliding and thundering in cascades and
waterfalls, and usually fifty feet or more deep. Phil realized that the
passage of Black Cañon was a thing to be dreamed of, and not attempted.

Taking up the lantern, he set off at a brisk pace up the sandy tunnel
at the entrance of which it was placed, keeping his eyes open for
pitfalls and fissures. The passage led to the right, and perceptibly
upward, and ere long he found himself walking parallel with what had
once been the river.

After an hour's hard walking he came suddenly into a spacious cave, and
found himself gazing once more at the oozing river bed, and at--Red
Spider's dam!

Yes, there it was, a great mass of blocks of stone, walling the cañon
from side to side, and cunningly diverting the foaming water into a
subterranean stream that had been uncovered and channeled for the
purpose. Picks and ropes, and blocks of stone, were strewn around in
every direction, and just over the mouth of the underground river hung
a platform of planking supported by countless ropes, and loaded with a
ton or more of cut rock.

Phil was not long in doubt as to its use.

With a little bubbling cry of joy he produced his clasp knife, and went
to work busily to hack the ropes in twain.

A score of them were severed, when an ear-splitting crack made him
start hastily back. Next instant the whole load of rock fell with a
mighty crash, completely blocking the entrance to the subterranean
stream that had been draining the life from the river.

Something had to give way, and Red Spider's cunningly constructed dam
was directly in the path of the river as it swelled, and rose, and
bellied upward. Then, with a roar louder than any thunder, it broke
the barrier away, and hurled itself into Black Cañon with irresistible
fury, to race and tumble down to where the Silver Bridge Reducing
Company's plant was waiting to sully its foaming waters with the red
stain of the ore.



PIGEON-WHISTLE CONCERTS.


A traveler in Eastern lands tells the following little story of the
Chinese and their most unique pigeon whistles.

"One of the most curious expressions of emotional life in China is the
application of whistles to a flock of pigeons. These whistles, very
light, weighing hardly a few grammes, are attached to the tails of
young pigeons soon after their birth, by means of a fine copper wire,
so that when the birds fly the wind will blow through the whistles
and set them vibrating, thus producing an open-air concert, for the
instruments in one and the same flock are all tuned differently. On a
serene day in Peking, where these instruments are manufactured with
great cleverness and ingenuity, it is possible to enjoy this aerial
music while sitting in one's room.

"There are two distinct types of whistles--those consisting of bamboo
tubes placed side by side, and a type placed on the principle of
tubes attached to a gourd body or wind chest. They are lacquered in
yellow, brown, red, and black to protect the material from destructive
influences of the atmosphere. The tube whistles have either two, three,
or five tubes. In some specimens the five tubes are made of ox-horn
instead of bamboo. The gourd whistles are furnished with a mouthpiece,
and small apertures to the number of two, three, six, ten, and even
thirteen. Certain among them have besides, a number of bamboo tubes,
some on the principal mouthpiece, some arranged around it. These
varieties are distinguished by different names. Thus a whistle with one
mouthpiece and ten tubes is called 'the eleven-eyed one.'"



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MOTOR STORIES


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The boys who want to learn something from what they read, as well
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TO BE PUBLISHED ON APRIL 26th

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TO BE PUBLISHED ON MAY 3d

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TO BE PUBLISHED ON MAY 10th

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Transcriber's Notes:


Added table of contents.

Italics are represented with _underscores_, bold with =equal signs=.

Replaced oe ligatures with oe for the text edition (they are retained
in the HTML version).

Page 1, changed "who" to "whose" ("whose past record") and changed
"Motor Mart" to "Motor Matt" ("who aids Motor Matt").

Page 4, added missing italics to "helped the skipper sail the
_Christina_."

Page 8, changed "gratfying" to "gratifying."

Page 15, changed "dutsy" to "dusty" ("clothes were dusty").

Page 17, changed "intrrupted" to "interrupted" after "now I rise to
you."

Page 29, changed "wtih" to "with" ("with the regularity of
tirelessness").





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