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Title: The Airship Boys' Ocean Flyer - New York to London in Twelve Hours
Author: Sayler, H. L. (Harry Lincoln)
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Airship Boys' Ocean Flyer - New York to London in Twelve Hours" ***

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                     The Airship Boys’ Ocean Flyer


                   New York to London in Twelve Hours



------------------------------------------------------------------------



                       The Aeroplane Boys Series
                            By ASHTON LAMAR

             I. IN THE CLOUDS FOR UNCLE SAM
            II. THE STOLEN AEROPLANE
           III. THE AEROPLANE EXPRESS
            IV. THE BOY AERONAUTS’ CLUB
             V. A CRUISE IN THE SKY
            VI. BATTLING THE BIG HORN

                         OTHER TITLES TO FOLLOW

These stories are the newest and most up-to-date. All Aeroplane details
are correct. Fully illustrated. Colored frontispiece. Cloth, 12mos.

                         Price, 60 cents each.

------------------------------------------------------------------------

                        The Airship Boys Series
                            By H. L. SAYLER

             I. THE AIRSHIP BOYS
            II. THE AIRSHIP BOYS ADRIFT
           III. THE AIRSHIP BOYS DUE NORTH
            IV. THE AIRSHIP BOYS IN THE BARREN LANDS
             V. THE AIRSHIP BOYS IN FINANCE
            VI. THE AIRSHIP BOYS’ OCEAN FLYER

These thrilling stories deal with the wonderful new science of aerial
navigation. Every boy will be interested and instructed by reading them.
Illustrated. Cloth binding. Price, $1.00 each.

          The above books are sold everywhere or will be sent
                     postpaid on receipt of price.

------------------------------------------------------------------------

[Illustration: IN THE PILOT ROOM OF THE _FLYER_.]

------------------------------------------------------------------------



                           The Airship Boys’
                              Ocean Flyer


                            in Twelve Hours


                                   BY
                              H. L. SAYLER


[Illustration]


                    Illustrated by S. H. Riesenberg


                                Chicago
                        The Reilly & Britton Co.
                               Publishers

------------------------------------------------------------------------



                            COPYRIGHT, 1911,
                                   by
                        THE REILLY & BRITTON CO.
                          ALL RIGHTS RESERVED



                     THE AIRSHIP BOYS’ OCEAN FLYER



------------------------------------------------------------------------



                                CONTENTS

       CHAPTER                                               PAGE

             I THE MAKING OF A NEWSPAPER STORY                  9

            II WHAT A REPORTER SAW IN THE DARK                 23

           III THE VETERAN TAKES OFF HIS HAT TO THE CUB        36

            IV THE AIRSHIP BOYS MAKE THEIR APPEARANCE          51

             V A BEWILDERING PROPOSITION                       67

            VI AN OLD HOME AND A MODERN BUSINESS               83

           VII NED NAPIER ADVANCES SOME THEORIES               97

          VIII THE _Ocean Flyer_ CREW IS COMPLETED            113

            IX DUTIES OF THE _Ocean Flyer_ CREW               127

             X BUCK STEWART RECEIVES NEW ORDERS               141

            XI SHAPING A NEW COURSE                           156

           XII HOW THE FLIGHT WAS TO BE MADE                  168

          XIII ROY OSBORNE’S “PICK-UP CRANE”                  182

           XIV CAPTAIN NAPIER’S NERVE IN MID-AIR SAVES THE    196
               CARGO

            XV IN WHICH NED’S LIFE IS SAVED                   210

           XVI AN UNEXPECTED TRIBUTE                          224

          XVII WHAT HAPPENED AT THREE FORTY-THREE P. M.       237

         XVIII THE RACING PIGS OF FUNDY                       252

           XIX A CHANGE OF PLANS BY WIRELESS                  269

            XX THE FIRST SIGHT OF LONDON                      284

           XXI THE MARBLE ARCH GATE, HYDE PARK                298

          XXII EXTRACTS FROM THE LOG OF THE _Ocean Flyer_     312

------------------------------------------------------------------------



                         LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS

         In the pilot room of the _Flyer_         _Frontispiece_

         In the “local room” of the New York                45
         Herald

         Picking up the matrices                           206

         The end of the flight, London                     305

------------------------------------------------------------------------



                                  The
                       Airship Boys’ Ocean Flyer
                                  OR,
                   New York to London in Twelve Hours



                               CHAPTER I

                    THE MAKING OF A NEWSPAPER STORY


It was a few minutes of eleven o’clock at night. One of the many
editions of the great New York _Herald_ had just gone to press. But in
the big, half-lit room where editors, copy readers, reporters and
telegraph operators were busy on the later editions to follow, there was
no let-up in the work of making a world-known newspaper.

There was the noise of many persons working swiftly; the staccato of
typewriters, the drone of telegraph sounders and now and then the sharp
inquiry of some bent-over copy reader as he struggled to turn
reportorial inexperience into a finished story. But there was no
confusion and none of the wild rush and clatter that fiction uses in
describing newspaper offices; copy boys were not dashing in all
directions and the floor was not knee deep with newspapers and print
paper.

Calmest of all was the night city editor. With a mind full of the work
already done and in progress, he was as alert mentally as if he had just
reached his desk. Five hours yet remained in which New York had to be
watched; five hours, in any one minute of which the biggest news on hand
might fade into nothing in the face of the one big story that every
editor waits for night after night. And the night city editor, knowing
this, dropped his half-lit pipe when his desk telephone buzzed.

“Stewart? Yes! Yes!” he answered quickly in a voice so low that not even
his busy assistants heard him. “Where are you? What are you doing?”

“In Newark,” came the quick response, “and we landed it. It’s a peach.
That aeroplane tip you know. It panned out all right.”

The night city editor had seemed perplexed for a few moments but at this
his face cleared.

“How big? What’s new?”

“Biggest airship ever made; biggest planes; biggest engines—cabin and
staterooms; two hundred miles an hour—”

“See it yourself?”

“Been workin’ in the factory three days; American Aeroplane Works; got
story cinched. Machine flew to-night first time. It’s a beat.”

“Got talks?”

“Not straight, but I’ve heard ’em talkin’.”

“What’s the idea? Is it a war ship?”

“Got everything but that. Will some one take it by phone? I can get to
the office quarter after twelve; got some stuff ready.”

“Who’s back of it? Whose machine is it?”

“Aerial Utilities Company; those Chicago boys, Napier and Hope and their
friends.”

The editor thought a moment, glanced at the clock on the wall where the
hands pointed to eleven and then said:

“If you can be here by a quarter after twelve, hurry in. If you can’t
make it, phone. Get up all the stuff you can. Are Napier and Hope at the
factory?”

“They made a test to-night. I know where they went. I was outside the
yard. They were gone from ten o’clock till ten twenty-five; were all
over New York and forty miles to sea. It—”

“Grab the eleven fifty express and hustle in,” interrupted the man at
the telephone. “It’s good stuff and’ll stand a couple o’ columns.”

Hanging up the receiver, the night city editor settled back in his
chair, finished lighting his pipe and then, his head leaning in his
clasped hands, seemed to be in a reverie. But this did not last long.
While he had talked to “Stewart in Newark” three young men had hurried
to his desk and laid on it stories or parts of stories on which they had
been working. These reporters were now standing a few feet away awaiting
further orders or dismissal for the night.

“Dick,” exclaimed the editor as he suddenly unclasped his hands, leaned
forward over his desk again and shuffled the copy on it into a little
bundle, “we’ll want about two and a half columns in the last edition.”
As he spoke, a middle-aged man in his shirt sleeves—for the night was
mid-June—leaned backward from a near-by big table at which a dozen men
were busy cutting, rewriting and pasting copy, and took the little
bundle of manuscript from his superior’s hands.

The waiting reporters groaned inwardly. They knew that this was probably
the death warrant for their own evening’s work. Dick, the man addressed,
asked nothing and made no inquiry. He knew that something big had turned
up. As head copy reader the securing of this “something” was no business
of his. Nor did the nature of it stir his calloused curiosity. His
orders were to save two and a half columns of space and this he would
do. When the story came, he and his assistants would see that it was two
and a half columns long and no more.

But this was not the attitude of the three reporters yet waiting near
the editor’s desk. This man was no longer in a reverie. In those few
minutes he had “blocked out” his big story; he already saw it in print
and, unlike Dick, he was now ready to go after it.

“Anything more, Mr. Latimer?” asked one of the reporters eagerly, for
each of them had now scented a “beat” and all, forgetting the probable
fate of their earlier evening’s work, were eager to be in on it.

Mr. Latimer arose and without reply hurried away in the direction of the
night editor’s desk. When he returned, his pipe now sputtering
viciously, he called: “Dick, make that two columns.” Then he turned
toward the still lingering reporters. They moved to his desk, each
trying to attract special attention.

“Chambers,” said Mr. Latimer to the youngest of the trio, “get
Governor’s island on the phone and see if they’ll put you on Colonel
Fred Grant’s wire. If you can’t raise him by phone go down to the Ship
News office and have the boys take you over in the boat. We want a good
talk with him on this idea: What military prestige will it give the
country that is the first to perfect an airship that can travel two
hundred miles an hour—an aeroplane that can actually carry men and
bombs? Point out that this means across the Atlantic in fifteen hours.
Make him talk new stuff, practical, and cut out the Jules Verne patter.”

Chambers, young and inexperienced, hurried away without a question,
knowing well enough that this interview was to fit into another story
and that it was his business to get it, and the earlier the better.

“Glidden,” said the night city editor, turning to the oldest reporter of
the three, “didn’t you write a Sunday story a few weeks ago on ‘The
Limit of the Automobile’?”

“Yes, sir,” was the prompt reply of the pleased young journalist.

“Have you some ideas on the possibilities of the aeroplane?”

“I have,” was the prompt reply. If Glidden had gone further he would
have added, “I’m getting up another story on that line now.”

“That’s good,” broke in Mr. Latimer. “We’re going to print a big
aeroplane story in the morning. I want a ‘lead.’ The man on the story
can’t write it. I can’t tell you anything except that this story
concerns the first real airship. Give me half a column of what a real
aeroplane ought to do—”

“It ought to go ten miles up in the air,” broke in Glidden impulsively
as if anxious to demonstrate that he really had some ideas, “and the
time will come when the flying machine will stay in the air more than
five days. It will carry fifty people, cross the Atlantic or Pacific and
sail two hundred miles an hour—”

“That’s enough,” laughed the editor. “Our machine does two hundred
miles. Go to it.”

Glidden, who should have had Stewart’s assignment on the aeroplane
story, wanted to ask more but he was too wise to do so. A few minutes
later he was back at his typewriter, nervous and excited over the part
he was to take in the making of the next morning’s “beat.”

The work of the third man was better known to Mr. Latimer.

“Winton,” he began as if sure that his orders would be carried out to
the letter, “you’ve heard of the Airship Boys—those Chicago youngsters
who have been starring in aeronautics for several years?”

“I know Bob Russell personally,” answered Winton. “He’s the newspaper
man from Kansas City who has been with the boys in all their stunts.”

“Did he ever work in New York?” inquired Mr. Latimer.

“I think not. I believe he’s in business with the Airship Boys. Used to
work on the Kansas City _Comet_.”

“Couldn’t get hold of him?”

“If it’s about some new project of these boys,” laughed Winton, “it’s
not worth while. They’re all clams concerning their own affairs.”

“But is this the outfit that interested Mr. Morgan in the Universal
Transportation Company last summer?”

“I never worked on the story except once when I tried to get Russell to
talk and couldn’t. They had a suite of offices in the Waldorf last
July.”

“Call the Waldorf and see what you can find.”

Five minutes later Winton was back at Mr. Latimer’s desk.

“Five or six persons connected with the Aerial Utilities Company had
apartments and offices in the hotel until the middle of last August.
Then the offices were moved to Chicago. There seems to be a group of
these people, all interested in aeroplanes on a big scale and their
headquarters I think are in Chicago.”

Mr. Latimer touched a button and hastily wrote a note.

“Hand this to the telegraph editor,” he said to the messenger as he gave
him this message:

“_Craig, Tribune, Chicago. Rush anything on Aerial Utilities Company,
organization and business. Also matter concerning Airship Boys, Napier,
Hope and Russell._”

Then he turned to Winton again.

“Story in to-night about those boys and a big aeroplane. Napier and Hope
and maybe Russell are not in Chicago, but somewhere in Newark. Their
newest idea was manufactured by the American Aeroplane Company in
Newark. Call the works on a chance; like as not you won’t find any one
there. Look up the head of the company. Raise him on the phone. If he
won’t talk about the new airship make him tell you where the Airship
Boys are. Try the hotels by phone. Must have something about these young
men. The man on the story missed a talk with ’em.”

Winton rushed to the telephone room and Mr. Latimer, with another glance
at the clock, put the Newark “beat” aside for a moment while he gave his
attention to the accumulating copy received from the local news bureau
and late evening assignment men. With instructions for each, he had
“covered” an East Side tenement fire by rushing four men to the scene
and had personally called up and talked to a leading financier on a
financial story when Winton returned.

“J. W. Atkinson is president of the Aeroplane Company,” Winton reported.
“No one at works. Got Atkinson on phone. He won’t talk but acknowledges
Airship Boys are in Newark. Won’t say where. Can’t find ’em at hotels.”

Without answering, the night city editor turned to his telephone.

“Get me the Newark office,” he ordered. “Nathan, if he’s there. Go to
the library,” he added, speaking to Winton, “and dig up a story on these
kids. There’s plenty there. Get half a column. See if we have any
pictures.”

While Winton hurried away on his new task, the telephone rang.

“Newark?” asked Mr. Latimer. “Is that Nathan?”

“Mr. Nathan’s out eatin’ supper,” replied a juvenile voice.

“Go get him. Tell him this. Ready? Put down J. W. Atkinson. Got it? J.
W. Atkinson, president American Aeroplane Company. Tell Nathan to see
Mr. Atkinson at his home and find where Ned Napier and Alan Hope can be
found. Put the names down: Ned Napier and Alan Hope.”

“I know ’em,” interrupted the youthful voice. “Them’s the Airship Boys.”

“Tell Nathan not to leave Mr. Atkinson until he learns where those boys
are stopping: where they are in Newark. Got it?”

These events had taken place within fifteen minutes. At ten minutes
after eleven Mr. Latimer again put the Newark story aside temporarily
and gave all his time to rounding up his part of the next edition. At
eleven thirty o’clock Glidden, who was to provide the material for a
general “lead” to the big “beat”—none of the details of which he even
knew, turned in five hundred words. Mr. Latimer paused in his other work
and glanced hastily at the pages. Then he looked at the clock, leaned
back in his chair and read each page.

“Good stuff,” he announced without even a smile as he finished. “That’s
the idea; just what I wanted. Stewart is coming in from Newark with the
story a quarter after twelve. Get your supper and be back by that time.
I want you to help him shape up his stuff. Chambers and Winton will have
‘adds’ to the story.”

A quarter of an hour later Winton reported with his sketch of the
Airship Boys. His superior did not read the matter—he was sure enough of
Winton—but spiked it with Glidden’s copy.

“No pictures,” explained the reporter, “except one in the _Scientific
American_ of last July showing working drawings of a steel monoplane—the
one they used in the New York-Chicago flight.”

“Get it and take it to the picture man. Tell him to make a two-column
cut of it. No pictures of the young men?”

“Not on file.”

“That’s good,” said Mr. Latimer with his first smile of the evening.
“It’ll make a good ‘follow’ to-morrow. By the way, did you get a story
of these youngsters right up to date?”

“No,” answered the reporter, somewhat regretfully, “I couldn’t find
anything about them after their record flight in a steel monoplane
between New York and Chicago last July. I know they were in New York at
their Waldorf offices until August. But I can’t find anything about them
since that date. If they’ve got a new idea, they’ve had since last
August to work on it unmolested by the newspapers.”

Mr. Latimer was shaking his head as he refilled his pipe.

“Get your supper and hurry back. Stewart’ll be here in fifteen or twenty
minutes. Then we’ll see what we can all do to find out what they’ve been
doing since August. The story is gettin’ to look good.”

Winton was about to hasten away when his interest got the better of his
judgment and he violated one of the unwritten rules of the _Herald_
office: he questioned his superior.

“I know it isn’t my business, Mr. Latimer,” he began, hesitatingly, “but
didn’t Stewart say they have made a new machine that can fly two hundred
miles an hour?”

The night city editor nodded his head.

“And he has the details of the machine?”

“All of them,” replied the editor. “But he’s missed the main thing—the
story. What are they going to do with such a craft? Why should they test
it out in secret—under cover of night?”

“And that’s what we are trying to find out?” asked Winton, showing
confusion.

“Certainly,” was the response. “The mere account of a new aeroplane
isn’t worth two columns in the _Herald_. That’s only half the story. Its
purpose and possibility make the real story.”

Winton leaned over the desk, his face flushed.

“I know what those boys have done in the past,” he said in a low voice.
“There’s only one thing left for them to do now. If you can’t find them
and don’t know what that is I’ll make a guess for you: they’re going to
cross the Atlantic.”

“Certainly,” was Mr. Latimer’s response. “My own idea precisely. And
that is the story the _Herald_ is going to print in the morning.”

But the night city editor was wrong. The _Herald_ did not print such a
story in the morning, as will be set forth in the next chapter.



                               CHAPTER II

                    WHAT A REPORTER SAW IN THE DARK


Stewart, the reporter who had been working in the American Aeroplane
Company’s plant for several days and who had telephoned the tip on the
first flight of the wonderful new machine, reached the _Herald_ office a
few minutes ahead of his schedule. He was hot and excited. As he hurried
to Mr. Latimer’s desk he drew from his pocket a wad of copy—a part of
his story already prepared. The night city editor looked at the clock—he
seemed always watching the clock.

“Twelve ten,” Mr. Latimer began without question or comment and waving
back the proffered manuscript. “We want a column. Take an hour and do it
right. Tell what you saw—don’t speculate. Tell about the new machine,
and don’t be technical. We’ll make the ‘lead’ when we see what you’ve
got—”

“This is ready now,” interrupted Stewart, mopping his brow. “I did it on
the train.”

“Use it in your story; put it together yourself. It’s for the last
edition. By the way, you didn’t find what they’re going to do with the
new airship?”

“Everything but that,” confessed Stewart. “No one in the factory seems
to know. But it seems to me that they’ll certainly use it first to cut
down the time on that New York-Chicago airship line. Four or five hours
to Chicago would be quite a card.”

“Why not fifteen hours across the Atlantic?” asked Mr. Latimer with a
significant twinkle in his eyes.

“You’re right,” exclaimed Stewart. “I hadn’t thought of that. Say,
that’s great; first airship across the ocean. Sure! They can do it.
That’s the idea. That’s my ‘lead’—”

The night city editor raised his hand.

“Don’t bother about the ‘lead.’ Do what I told you: write what you saw
and a description of the machine. And you might start right away if you
like.”

Stewart, coat off and pipe going, was just well into his story when
Chambers reported from Governor’s Island. He had seen Colonel Grant.

“But,” explained the reporter to Mr. Latimer over the telephone, “he
said it was too late to talk to-night. He’s offered to prepare a
statement for me to-morrow.”

“What did he say to-night?” snapped the night city editor.

“Well, he said America ought to be proud of its advance in aeronautics;
that there were great possibilities in aerial navigation—”

“Yes,” broke in Mr. Latimer, “but did you think to mention what I told
you to ask him? What military prestige it would give a country to own
the first aeroplane that could fly two hundred miles an hour?”

“Yes, sir,” was the prompt answer, “but he said he’d rather not be
quoted on that.”

“What was it?”

“He said he rather thought it might give prestige to any one of the
great nations and that if America had such a ship that it ought to keep
it and not let some European government snap it up. He said, as a
nation, he thought we were rather behind the other powers in the
development of the airship in a military and naval way.”

“Did you promise not to quote him?”

“No, sir. But—”

“Glidden,” called Mr. Latimer to that young man, who had just returned,
“here’s Chambers on the wire at Governor’s Island. He’s had a talk with
Colonel Grant: hot stuff about neglect of government to develop airships
for naval and military purposes: thinks our new aeroplane gives us
balance of power among the big nations. Take it and get up a good story
on it. Here’s Glidden, Chambers,” he continued, turning to the telephone
again, “he’ll take your stuff.”

A moment later Glidden was at a desk and the waiting Chambers had been
switched to him. With almost one movement the more experienced Glidden
caught up the receiver and, with a piece of paper rescued from the floor
and a stub of a pencil borrowed from a man next to him, was ready.

“Shoot it, Chambers,” was his salutation and the interview was under
way.

Several pages of Stewart’s story had now reached Mr. Latimer’s desk.
Before he gave it his attention, he took up Winton’s matter on the
Airship Boys and glanced hurriedly through it. This apparently called
for no comment and he passed it at once to Dick, the head copy reader.

“Here’s the first of that two-column story for the last edition. It’s
the last ‘add.’ Use all of it. There’ll be a talk with Colonel Fred
Grant to follow the main story.”

Dick shuffled the sheets together without a glance at the words on them,
spiked the pages on a spindle, readjusted his pipe and raised his green
eye shade.

“Who’s writin’ the story?” was his only response.

“Stewart,” said Mr. Latimer.

“A cub?” grunted Dick as he looked at the watch on the blotter before
him. Then he jerked his head to show the contempt all old copy readers
feel for inexperienced reporters. “It’s twelve thirty,” he added as a
part of his groan.

“He may not be a cub after to-night,” was Mr. Latimer’s tart rejoinder
as he at last tackled Stewart’s copy.

“At ten twenty o’clock last night,” Stewart’s story began, “an airship
that is undoubtedly destined to make the first flight across the
Atlantic ocean, was given a secret test from the yards of the American
Aeroplane Company’s plant in South Newark.

“That the experimental flight was successful in every way is attested by
the fact that this newest and most complete aeroplane was in the air
twenty-five minutes and attained a speed of between 180 and 200 miles an
hour. The flight was cloaked in mystery and the only spectators were the
inventors and owners of the airship, the superintendent and the
president of the Aeroplane Company and a reporter for the _Herald_.

“While every effort has been made to keep any intelligence of the new
marvel from reaching the public at the present time, the record breaking
test made last night was observed and timed. This mechanical,
sky-piercing meteor was driven by man thirty or forty miles out to sea
and, concealed by the shadows of night, it returned successfully and
unseen directly over the skyscrapers of New York.”

Without reading further Mr. Latimer reached for a pad of copy paper, a
pencil and his shears. In a few minutes Stewart’s carefully prepared
story had been transformed by scissors, paste pot, interlineations and
new lines into this:

“This mechanical sky-piercing meteor last night set what may be the
ultimate record for man’s aerial flight. Three miles in sixty seconds or
one hundred and eighty miles an hour, is the last proof of man’s
complete conquest of the air. With London but fifteen hours from New
York, the crossing of the Atlantic is assured. And, in the language of
Colonel Fred Grant, ‘this assures the superiority of the United States
as a naval power.’

“This new marvel was given its initial test last night. At ten twenty
o’clock the airship that is destined to revolutionize aeronautics, rose
mysteriously from the yards of the American Aeroplane Company’s plant in
South Newark. Within the next twenty-five minutes it had darted forty
miles straight out to sea and then, concealed by the shadows of night,
returned successfully and unseen, directly over the sleeping skyscrapers
of lower New York.

“This historic flight, cloaked in darkness, was made with no spectators
other than the inventors and owners of the airship, the superintendent
and the president of the aeroplane works and a reporter for the
_Herald_. While every effort had been made to keep intelligence of the
wonderful invention from the public at the present time, an account of
the secret test as well as a complete description of the aeroplane
itself, is given herewith in detail.”

By the time the copy boy had laid Stewart’s next batch of copy on the
night city editor’s desk Mr. Latimer had passed all of the first “take,”
marked “lead to come,” over to Dick, the head copy reader, and the big
aeroplane “beat” was on its way into print. Few changes were made in the
rest of Stewart’s story. Having finished his first few pages and reached
the real narrative, he wrote rapidly and easily.

The inexperienced young reporter had done his work well. For several
days he had been in the service of the Aeroplane Company as a common
workman in the yards. In that time, with his eyes open and by skillful
questioning, he had succeeded in striking up an acquaintance with one of
the skilled enginemen working on the new car. From this man he had
wormed the general details of the aircraft and learned that a test of
the completed aeroplane was to be made.

These things were not told in his story but he did describe graphically
and in a way that made Mr. Latimer nod his head in approval, everything
to be seen by the eye from the time the great tandem-planed sky vehicle
was rolled out into the yard and lifted itself cloudward until it sank
in the same spot again twenty-five minutes later.

When those pages of his story reached the desk Mr. Latimer rose and
hurried to the busy writer’s side.

“How did you know they were going to pull this off to-night?” he asked.

“I didn’t. But I guessed it would be at night. I meant to watch each
night—”

“Where were you?”

“On the roof.”

“You’re doing very well. Good stuff,” was his superior’s comment. “Get
it in a column.”

There wasn’t a great deal that the young reporter could write of the
actual flight. The ship-like structure had been wheeled out of the gloom
of the canvas-sided setting-up room into the yellow glare of half a
dozen yard torches. It rumbled heavily—more like a heavy truck than the
flimsy airships Stewart had seen. Then, for some minutes, several
persons had passed back and forth by means of a step ladder into an
enclosed part of the great, metallic-glinting structure. From the lights
that flared up and died out in the big torches he knew that his first
night’s vigil was to be rewarded with something.

“At ten fifteen o’clock,” he described in his story, “only a vast
expanse of metal, cables and truss could be seen vaguely as those busy
about the towering superstructure moved a torch or climbed into or out
of the mammoth enclosed frame. Just before ten twenty o’clock an engine
started suddenly somewhere within the ship-like body of the winged
wonder. A little later, a brief burst of light within the central
enclosure threw into sudden view two rows of flashing portholes. Like
the bow of a miniature ocean steamer, the front of the shadowy structure
stood, for a moment, clearly defined in the night.

“Halfway up the side of the vessel extended a railing-protected gallery
that indicated two decks. Along the lower of these ran a second gallery.
The forward part of the upper deck was plainly a pilot house, from the
rounded front of which, through two small heavily glassed openings, shot
antennaelike feelers of light into the black factory yard. Behind this
section the skeletonlike gallery led astern along what were apparently
three more rooms. Passing these, the gallery ascended the rounded side
of the giant car and disappeared sternward in the form of a protected
path or bridge. The front of the lower deck resembled the dark hold of a
freight vessel. In the rear, a door opening from this gallery revealed,
through a glare of light, an engine room, now the center of much
activity.

“Herein two young men hung over a puzzle of levers, wheels and valves
while a third was just climbing into the gallery by means of a drop
ladder or landing stage.

“‘What’s the use of all this illumination?’ called the young man just
mounting the machine. ‘Why not send out cards?’ he added, laughing.

“One of the boys in the engine room stuck his head outside, glanced
about and chuckled. As he disappeared within again, there was a snap and
the lights outlining the air machine turned black. Then came the renewed
sound of feet hurrying back and forth on metal runways; doors opened and
closed and, where deck lights had flooded the strange craft, only the
thin rays of electric hand torches indicated persons moving about. One
of several men on the ground below now made his way up the ladder to the
landing stage and by this to the lower deck gallery, where two of the
moving lights were suddenly focussed. Words passed in low tones and, in
a few moments, the glow of a green-shaded light appeared through the
suddenly reopened door of the pilot house.

“Almost at the same time, but from the distant offices of the aeroplane
factory, broke out the staccato of a wireless sender in operation. Those
on the lower gallery waited in silence until a voice called from the
pilot house:

“‘All right, Ned; fine and dandy; the operator says _success and
speed_.’

“‘Good,’ was the quick response. ‘Come on down, Bob; we’re off.’

“As the light in the pilot cabin winked out, the same voice continued,
‘Good-bye, Mr. Osborne. We’ll be back in half an hour. Stay by the
wireless. We’ll keep in touch with you every few minutes.’ ‘Good-bye,’
called another voice and then the man who had just mounted the landing
ladder made his way quickly to the ground.”

When Stewart’s account of the aeroplane test had reached this point,
Dick, the copy reader, shuffled the pages of the last “take” like a deck
of cards and snorted.

“This is fine,” he said, with a despairing look, addressing Mr. Latimer,
“but I thought he was goin’ to tell something. Here’s six hundred words
and he hasn’t got anywhere yet—”

“Let it stand,” was Mr. Latimer’s snappy order. “It’s good stuff.”

“Simultaneously,” continued Stewart’s story, “the sound of the engine in
operation deepened into an almost inaudible note. Then this was doubled
as if a second power had been put in operation. A shaded light shone in
the engine room and the pilot house door opened and closed. There was
the _tap-tap_ of swift footsteps on the lower gallery, one of those
aboard sprang up the steps to the top gallery and then a light flashed
at intervals along the ladderlike runway on the rear truss. Some one was
inspecting the shadowy bridge.

“Far in the rear the hurrying figure dropped through what seemed a small
manhole in the truss frame. Half within the tapering, spiderlike
construction the person appeared to press a button. There was a sharp
buzz in the pilot cabin. Then the figure with the light ran swiftly
forward inside the hollow frame of the tail of the airship and
disappeared through a self-closing door into the engine cabin.

“Two powerful engines were apparently in full operation. There was the
sound of a quick voice in the engine room as if someone were shouting
through a tube.

“‘All ready here and astern, Ned,’ could be distinguished. Then, at the
resonant single tap of a gong in reply, powerful clutches must have been
instantly applied. The aeroplane’s propellers began their wide sweep.
Faster and faster they moved, until, as the closed engine room door
opened once more and one of the young men passed out onto the gallery,
the wide-reaching metal bird suddenly sprang forward. But it was only
for a short distance. Within fifty feet, it lifted in the air and, once
off the ground, its bow darted skyward like the beak of a frightened
bird.

“‘Don’t forget your lights!’ yelled the figure on the gallery as the
airship swept upward, ‘and keep the wireless goin’.’ While he was
speaking the swift propellers had already carried the car beyond
hearing.”



                              CHAPTER III

                THE VETERAN TAKES OFF HIS HAT TO THE CUB


The rest of reporter Stewart’s story of the mysterious airship flight,
together with his elaborate account of the construction of the aeroplane
as it had been described to him, ran much over a column. Old Dick, the
copy reader, groaned and even Mr. Latimer began to wonder how he was to
get his “beat” into two columns without “killing” Chamber’s “talk” with
Colonel Grant, Winton’s account of the Airship Boys or Glidden’s “lead.”

The latter Mr. Latimer had already thrown out conditionally but he was
determined to use the interview and the account of the earlier
adventures of the daring boys. There could be only one solution of the
difficulty: he must have more space if he had to choke it out of the
night editor. Meanwhile, he began to put some pressure on the wordy
reporter.

“It’s good stuff, old man,” he said to the perspiring reporter as the
latter pounded his typewriter, “but you know this isn’t a magazine and
other things have happened to-night.”

Stewart was only a beginner. As yet he knew only a part of a reporter’s
trade. He could write but he hadn’t learned how to tell it in a “stick.”
The editorial admonition fell on him with little effect. He seemed
unable to omit any detail. Page after page came from his machine to tell
how for twenty-five minutes the four or five men in the Aeroplane
Company yards waited for the return of the flying car.

He told how a movable searchlight was stationed at the landing place and
how the watchers then betook themselves to the wireless office of the
works. With good judgment he refrained from telling how he concealed
himself just without an open window, and one reading his narrative might
conclude that the prying reporter was a guest of the watchful group.

Some of the messages from the moving aeroplane he heard and of these he
told. Most of them he missed, as his vantage point was somewhat removed.
He could tell that the busy wireless operator was in almost constant
communication with “Bob” on the airship. But the most important message
he did hear, because when it came the excited operator repeated it as if
reading a bulletin to anxious thousands.

“_On board Ocean Flyer_,” he read, “_10.24 P. M. Estimate forty miles
from Newark at sea. Big steamer beneath. Turning. Better time returning.
Look out. Bob Russell._”

It required but a moment’s calculation when he heard this to make
Stewart gasp with amazement. At that rate the _Ocean Flyer_ was doing
one hundred and eighty miles an hour. Not even this speed had been
predicted by his talkative fellow workman. And at this rate he knew that
the marvelous airship might be expected in the Aeroplane Company yards
again by ten forty-five o’clock.

The reporter made his plans at once. He knew that it was both futile and
inadvisable, if he was to attempt to score his news “beat,” to wait in
an attempt to interview either the Airship Boys on the aeroplane or to
get more exact particulars from the Aeroplane Company officials.
Therefore, making his way out of the yards, he hurried along switch
tracks until he was in the vicinity of the street car terminal.

With watch in hand, he waited in the suburban stillness and gloom while
he searched the eastern sky. He knew the _Ocean Flyer_ carried no
outside signal yet he hoped for a possible glimpse of the shaded green
pilot or engine room light. More than once he fancied he could hear the
peculiar low note of the big craft’s engines. And all the time he kept
an eye on the vertical shaft of the searchlight at the works, for by
this beacon he knew the returning craft must guide itself to a safe
landing. But neither sound nor returning light could he detect. When it
was exactly a quarter of eleven o’clock he began to regret his attempt
to save time and was debating the advisability of returning to the
plant. In doubt, he was aware suddenly of a new note in the hum of the
mosquitoes and other marsh things about him. Was it mosquitoes or was it
the hum of the unseen airship? The sound ceased suddenly. Almost
immediately the shaft of the warning searchlight swept earthward and
disappeared.

Instinctively the nervous reporter glanced at his watch. It was a few
seconds of ten forty-six. A trolley car was just starting. With a gulp
of exultation the happy Stewart dashed forward and flipped the car. He
knew that the _Ocean Flyer_ had made a successful flight and had safely
returned. He knew also the distance it had traveled and the time it had
taken to do it. His only object was now to call his office by telephone
and deliver the story. All these details his rapidly written copy told
later, omitting the personal part. When it was complete a column of
matter was on Mr. Latimer’s desk.

As Stewart noticed the number of his last page and realized how much he
had written, he paused aghast. The bigger part of his story was yet to
come—all the details of the ingenious creation remained to be written.
Frightened by his failure to obey orders he hastened to Mr. Latimer’s
desk. Here, three tired and nervous men, with the marks of a night’s
grinding work on their faces and linen—unlit pipes or half consumed,
fireless cigars gripped in their set teeth—were gathered in sullen
debate.

“There’s two columns of it now and more to come,” the night editor was
saying decisively. “We can’t give you another inch.”

Mr. Latimer saw Stewart approaching.

“How much more of that story is there?” he asked appealingly.

“A column, I think.”

The night city editor sighed and the telegraph editor laughed
sarcastically.

“Any one who can see three columns in an airship story to-day must have
forgotten they’re already back numbers,” exclaimed this executive.

“Lift a column of cable rot,” suggested the night city editor. “This
can’t be cut; it’s a big story and it’s a ‘beat’.”

“Give him the paper,” went on the telegraph editor wearily.

“You’ll have to get along with two columns,” answered the night editor,
“unless you think the paper is elastic or that we ought to have another
page.”

Mr. Latimer slapped the desk with the last “take” of Stewart’s copy.

“You fellows don’t know news when you see it. What does the average
reader care about English elections and French champagne riots? Every
man and boy in the United States is interested in aeroplanes. And this
story tells about the final thing in airships. It’ll be read all over
the world to-morrow. It’s big, I tell you, and worth a page—”

“That’s what they all say,” sneered the telegraph editor.

“And I’m goin’ to print it all—every word of it—if I have to take it up
to the old man himself.”

“That’s your cue,” broke in the night editor as he excitedly attempted
to relight his dead cigar. “That’s where you’ll have to go. You don’t
get but two columns from me.”

“It’s twenty minutes after one o’clock,” remarked a sour voice from the
near-by copy reader’s desk. “If there’s any more of that Newark stuff
you’d better hump it along.”

Without replying, the night city editor tossed old Dick the last of
Stewart’s story describing the departure and return of the Airship Boys’
newest wonder and then arose with fire in his eyes.

“Give me all you can write up to two fifteen,” he snapped to Stewart,
“and—” Just then his telephone rang.

“Yes,” he answered in a tired voice while the telegraph and night
editors yet lingered by his desk. “Nathan? You seem to have taken plenty
of time for your supper. Well? Oh, they did. All right. You don’t know
where they are stopping? Good-bye.” Then he arose and glared once more
at his nightly enemies—the telegraph and night editors. “Winton,” he
called sharply to that reporter, who was sitting near by with his feet
on a table. “These Airship Boys left Newark on the express just after
Stewart. Nathan says they’re in town. Take a flyer through the hotels.
Land ’em if possible. Make ’em talk. Phone me if you locate them.”

“’S that mean more of this flyin’ machine stuff?” grunted the head copy
reader.

“It means I’m attending to my own business,” retorted Mr. Latimer, and
with no further word or look for his office associates, he walked
hurriedly toward the door. As the sailor “goes to the mast” or to the
captain of the ship in a last appeal against unfairness or injustice,
Mr. Latimer was on his way to the “old man” or the managing editor on
his customary protest against the machinations of the night editor.
Stewart hastened to his typewriter and resumed his tale of the
aeroplane.

“The problem of how to build an aeroplane large enough to carry
passengers hundreds of miles—possibly across the Atlantic—and at the
same time develop speed enough to hold its own against storms, seemed
unsolvable until two discoveries were made last winter. Both of these
are now well known to scientists and both are unknown as yet to the
layman. It was the almost simultaneous discovery of the new metal
magnalium (due to the development of the electric converter by the steel
works in Chicago) and a final determination of the law of the propeller
by Professor Montgomery of California.

“With this new magnalium it is at last possible to make an all-metal car
with light but rigid wings or planes. This metal, a magnesium alloy with
copper and standard vanadium or chrome steel, at once assumed a new
place in metals.” (These facts Stewart had secured from a German
metallurgical quarterly in the Newark Public Library.) “Magnalium is not
only extremely light but it has a molecular cohesion never before
attained. Its peculiar toughness gives it a capacity for being worked
slowly that is ideal for aeroplane uses. It turns the edge of the
hardest chisel driven against it, yet the same drill, under slow
pressure, will cleave it almost as easily as aluminum.”

Marking this much of his new story “more,” to indicate to the copy
readers that more was to come, and heading his next page “Add 1
Description Aeroplane,” Stewart rushed the prepared “take” of copy to
the city editor’s desk and continued:

“It is from this new metal that the car, planes and truss of the _Ocean
Flyer_ are constructed. The aeroplane is modeled in general after the
body and wings of a gull in full flight, insuring, by its peculiar
construction, not only the greatest speed, but, by an ingenious
adaptation of the same gull’s wing, the automatic stability long striven
for by aeroplane builders.”

[Illustration:

  IN THE “LOCAL ROOM” OF THE NEW YORK HERALD.
]

“Three sets of follow or tandem planes project, with slight dihedral
angles, for from eighty to forty feet on each side of the body of the
craft, a wing width never before attained. Yet, in flight, the enormous
craft is readily held aloft, with all its load, by wings that are no
more than seven and one-half feet in chord—from front to trailing edge.
Although it will be incomprehensible to many how such small lifting
surface can elevate such a heavy structure, this becomes apparent when
the airship is seen at rest. The moment the air pressure due to rapid
flight is lessened to a certain point by descent or cessation of motion,
the narrow wing surfaces automatically spread till they are twenty-one
feet from front to back.”

Glidden, the only airship man in the office, who covered all the
aviation “stunts,” had long since finished his interview and was now
lounging on the desk next to Stewart’s.

“Great!” was his comment, as he read this part of the story page by
page. “Some one is strong with the Jules Verne stuff. Go to it, kid.”

The busy Stewart scarcely heard him.

“This was accomplished,” went on the young reporter, shouting for a copy
boy and hustling to the desk another section of the story that was
destined never to be printed, “in a simple manner. Near the leading edge
of each wing is installed one of the new German pressure gauges with
small openings just under the dipping edge. These small appliances, of
compact construction, are easily concealed in the depth of the wing.
Ordinarily these powerful gauges operate a needle to record pressure.
Those used on the planes of the _Ocean Flyer_ are made on a heavier
scale and operate directly on a spring drum. From these, light cables
extend to movable sections of the wings.

“These movable sections of the planes, the first unique feature of the
new airship, telescope within and without the standard sections of the
wings. By means of the gauge and spring drums they are extended
automatically when the machine is not in swift flight. When the craft
has made an ascent and attained a speed sufficient to create a vacuum
under the dipping or front edge of the planes, the suction or reverse
pressure on the gauges allows the drums to reel in the extension
surfaces. When in full motion, as these come in, speed is naturally
increased and all the extensions are housed securely beneath or over the
main section of the wing.”

“How about the wing trusses?” broke in the skeptical Glidden.

“Corrugated rigidity,” replied Stewart promptly, remembering the phrase
he had heard applied to the long, untrussed wings.

“The first section or extension,” his story continued, “running in its
grooves, so closely overlaps the outside of the main section as to
appear to be its proper covering. The rear section, with separate
leaves, like the feathers of a bird’s wing, likewise disappears, leaving
only the long narrow wing which has always been the ideal speed machine.

“To drive this huge craft, whose body consists of two stories or decks
with pilot house, staterooms, fuel chambers, engine room, bridges above
and protective galleries, a much higher percentage of motor power than
ever secured before had to be turned into propulsive energy. The waste,
or ‘slip’ of the ordinary propellers not only allowed a great deal of
the motor’s power to escape, but it applied the remaining power so far
from the shaft of the propeller that the resultant leverage greatly
reduced the actual thrust.” (As Stewart finished this sentence, after
several pauses and corrections, he turned the page over to Glidden with
some pride. Then he paused while the older reporter read it.)

“Is that right?” asked Stewart with a curious smile.

“Absolutely,” answered Glidden. “What’s next?”

Stewart’s typewriter began clicking again.

“The new French ‘moon propeller’ does away with this ‘slip’ and allows
the full power of the engine to be applied advantageously. Viewed
sidewise this new form of propeller looks exactly like the new moon, its
tips bending ahead of its shaft attachment. Its object is to gather the
air at the outside of the circle,—”

“Periphery,” suggested Glidden, who was reading over the writer’s
shoulder. Stewart made the change and continued: “compress it in
accelerating degrees as it is forced toward the shaft and there, at the
broad, ugly-looking middle section of the blade, exert the full force of
the motor on the compressed air. The result is to increase the
efficiency of the engine by two hundred and fifty per cent. The massive,
eleven-foot propellers, with a section five feet broad at the center,
give opportunity for the application of this great force.”

“How about the engine?” exclaimed Glidden as this paragraph was
finished. His smile of skepticism was not as marked now.

“This force,” continued the younger man, “is secured by a chemical
engine in which dehydrated sulphuric ether and gasoline or either may be
used. Since the experiments with sulphuric ether, made last fall, engine
makers have watched the rapid development of this form of engine with
the greatest interest. Magnalium cylinders, sustaining the shock of the
tremendous explosions as the cylinders revolve past the exploding
chamber, have developed a power previously only dreamed of. Each of the
two huge engines used on the _Ocean Flyer_ is six feet in diameter with
four explosion chambers cooled by fans which feed liquid ammonia to the
cylinder walls in a spray and then furnish power for its liquefaction
again. In form, each engine is a great wheel or turbine on the rim of
which is a succession of conical pockets or cylinders. These are
presented to the explosion chambers, receive the impact of the explosion
and then, running through an expanding groove, allow the charge to
continue expanding and applying power till the groove ends in an open
slot which instantly cleanses the cylinders or pockets of the burnt
gases. By this arrangement there is only a twentieth part of the engine
wheel where no power is being imparted, thus giving practically a
continuous torque.”

“How’s ‘torque’?” laughed Stewart as he inserted a fresh sheet of paper
in the typewriter.

“Torque,” responded Glidden without even a smile, “is exceedingly good.
As to the rest of your mechanical details all I can say is I take off my
hat to you and whoever handed you this. It is exceedingly warm.”

“The joke of it all,” commented the other reporter, who was not without
his own sense of humor, “is that these absurdities all happen to be
practicalities. There’s a little more.”

“Weighing 520 pounds each,” continued Stewart, “and with a speed of
1,500 revolutions a minute, these big turbines generate 972 horsepower,
natural brake test, and this may be raised to above a thousand
horsepower without danger. Revolving in opposite directions they do away
with dangerous gyroscopic action. Power is applied to the propellers by
magnalium gearing. These are geared up, instead of down, as has always
been the practice, and the new ‘moon propellers’ gain in thrust with
high speed instead of losing it. This is because of greater compression
of the air and a vacuum set up ahead of the blades by reason of their
high speed. The car itself—”

At this moment—now after two o’clock—Mr. Latimer suddenly appeared at
Stewart’s side.

“Needn’t write any more,” he said sharply. “The story isn’t going to be
printed. The managing editor wants to see you at once.”



                               CHAPTER IV

                 THE AIRSHIP BOYS MAKE THEIR APPEARANCE


To be ordered to the office of the managing editor in this summary
manner at half-past two o’clock in the morning was enough to set an
older reporter than Buck Stewart guessing—Buck because his given name
was Buckingham. Buck’s first thought was that he would now be asked to
explain why he had persisted in expanding a column story into twice that
space. Somewhat to his gratification Mr. Latimer escorted him to the
office of the head of the paper.

The young reporter had never even seen his distantly removed superior.
He had heard that the august editor looked like a preacher. He knew that
the “boss” was one of the greatest journalists in the world. Then,
instead of speculating on the cause for his summons, he began to wonder
how the “M. E.” happened to be in his office at that late hour. The real
reason was that the editor had entertained friends at the theatre and
lingered long at the supper after. But in Buck’s mind, it could only be
because the books on “How to be a Journalist” all said the real
newspaper man is always at the right place in a news crisis.

Without a question to his guide, the young newspaper man deferentially
followed Mr. Latimer down the long, half-lit hall, through the ground
glass door into the anteroom where, in the day time, a colored Cerebus
sat in state, and thence into the not over-large room of the director of
the great paper. The managing editor, in evening clothes and a crumpled
shirt, was slowly exhaling the smoke of a cigar while he examined a
large wall map of America and Europe—tracing with a long, white finger a
curved red line that marked some steamer course. On the approach of Mr.
Latimer and Stewart, the editor turned, motioned Buck to a chair and
seated himself in the one at his own desk. There was no introduction.
The night city editor took a leaning position against a big table in
silence.

“This is Mr. Stewart, I believe,” the managing editor began with a smile
as he leaned forward and nervously tore a strip of paper into bits. The
smile rather increased Buck’s alarm. He was sure he was in for nothing
but criticism and the smile made him fearful that this was to come in
ironical words.

“Yes, sir.”

“You discovered this new aeroplane—wrote the story about it?”

“Mr. Latimer sent me out on it. I tried to write a story but I guess—”

“At least you know all about it?”

“I think so. Yes, sir. There are some things I couldn’t learn, but I
found out considerable.”

“And it was made by the young men they call the Airship Boys?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Do you think any one else knows what took place to-night?”

“I’m sure no one does.”

“Or the details of the new airship; the nature of it and what it can
do?”

“They seem to be trying to conceal everything. I think no outsiders knew
anything about it.”

“And this machine can travel at the rate of one hundred and eighty miles
an hour?”

“It did it to-night and kept it up for twenty-five minutes.”

Buck’s questioner leaned back in his chair and gave Mr. Latimer a
peculiar look. He seemed about to speak to his assistant but turned
toward young Stewart again, took a long, reflective puff on his cigar
and continued:

“Have you any reason to believe this machine could cross the Atlantic?”

“I think it could. I believe its makers think so. They call it the
‘_Ocean Flyer_.’”

What had been a smile on the editor’s face turned into straight, set
lips. Again he turned to Mr. Latimer.

“These boys are somewhere in the city you say?”

“Newark says so,” was the night city editor’s prompt response as he slid
from the table and took a step toward the desk. “Nathan says they came
in from Newark on the midnight express. I’ve got a man out after them
now.”

“Haven’t heard from him?”

Mr. Latimer stepped to his superior’s desk and took up the telephone.

“See if Winton is back yet,” he asked sharply.

“Mr. Winton called a few minutes ago,” was the instant response from one
of the switchboard operators. “He says them parties is at the Breslin
but he ain’t seen ’em yet. He wants as you shall call the Breslin what
he shall do.”

Mr. Latimer turned to the head editor, the telephone yet in his hand:

“Yes, sir; they are at the Breslin. Our man hasn’t seen them. They’ve
probably turned him down.”

The managing editor thought a moment, in which interval of silence he
relit his cigar and then nodded an approval.

“That’s all,” answered the night city editor to the operator, “no
message now.” And he replaced the receiver. Mr. Latimer’s attitude
seemed to indicate that he knew something important was about to happen.
Buck, himself—only temporarily relieved that the storm had not yet
broken on him—also cudgeled his brain to account for his interrogation.

“You’ve stopped the story?” continued the managing editor at last.

“Yes, sir,” answered Mr. Latimer ruefully, “although most of it is in
type. It was a beat.”

“I understand,” said the editor instantly and in a consoling tone.
“Perhaps we can get a bigger beat.” He began tearing another bit of
paper. Then throwing the pieces suddenly from him, he sat upright,
grasped the arms of his chair and said to Latimer:

“I must see these boys to-night—at once if possible. Can you bring them
to me? To this office?”

“Certainly,” replied the night city editor without a falter or a doubt
in his voice. “I’ll go myself.”

“Get them if you can; it is important.”

Without a question Mr. Latimer hastened doorward. Stewart arose to
follow him. The managing editor waved Buck to his seat again.

“I want you to tell me the story you wrote to-night: all you know about
this new airship.”

Buck now made up his mind that, whatever might be the meaning of the
managing editor’s sudden interest in his aeroplane story, it was not
directed toward him personally either in the way of commendation or
criticism. Something had developed the possibility of a bigger “beat,”
the manager had suggested. As the reporter received the order to tell
the whole story he reseated himself. He also had a new thought: “This
means something good,” he said to himself, “and while I’m talking I’m
not goin’ to forget Buck Stewart. If something is to come out of this I
want to be in on it.”

Before he could begin his story his chief executive resumed, suddenly:

“These Airship Boys—did you see them?”

“No,” replied the reporter. “I was totin’ lumber in the yards—”

“You are from the south?” interrupted his listener.

“Kentucky,” answered Buck.

“How long have you been with the _Herald_?”

“Six months.”

“You are about twenty-one years old?”

“Twenty in the fall.”

“How did you get your job?”

“I worked on the Paducah _News-Democrat_ until I had money enough to get
to New York. Then I came here and asked for work. They put me on.”

“Right away?” went on the managing editor with an incredulous smile.

“No, not at once. I think it was after two weeks.” Buck became a little
embarrassed and shifted his position. “At first the city editor told me
there wasn’t any chance; that he couldn’t even try me out until I’d had
some city experience. I told him news was news, whether it was in the
‘tenderloin’ or in Paducah. But he didn’t seem to hear me. Then I found
out when the city editor came to work and I showed up at the same time
each day for two weeks. He was pleasant enough for a few days. Then he
began to look bored. At last he used to scowl at me.”

“Then what?” laughed the editor softly.

“Well, one day he seemed more out of sorts. He looked as if he had a
notion to kick me. Then he groaned and said ‘report to Mr. Latimer
to-night and keep out of my sight.’ I haven’t seen him but two or three
times since.”

The editor seemed to chuckle but Buck could not be sure. Then the
manager returned to the Airship Boys after a few moments of silence.

“What do you know about these young men, the Airship Boys?”

“Only what I’ve read,” was Buck’s answer. “They’ve been in the papers
for several years. They are from Chicago.” Then he recalled Winton’s
assignment—the sketch this reporter had made of the young aviators to be
used in the now abandoned story. “There’s a story of them in proof by
this time, I think,” he added. “Mr. Winton wrote it to use in the
morning.”

“Get it for me, if you will,” said the editor. “And the proof of any
other matter on this story that has been set.”

In a few minutes Buck was back with a handful of Mr. Latimer’s proofs.
As he passed through the big local room he noted that it was two
thirty-five o’clock. The managing editor was lighting a fresh cigar when
he returned and was again on his feet intently examining the big wall
map, the principal part of which seemed to be the Atlantic Ocean.

“Ever been abroad, Mr.—Mr.—?” was the editor’s rather irrelevant
greeting to Buck as he reentered the room.

“Yes, sir, to England,” was the reporter’s response. Buck did not bother
about reminding the great journalist that his name was Stewart. His
questioner, whose head was twisted sideways as if he were trying to make
out the printed words or figures on the scores of steamer routes, looked
up in surprise. “My grandfather lives in London. I’ve been there twice
with my mother. When I was fifteen I rode a wheel from Liverpool to
London. We spent a summer there.”

The managing editor looked Buck over as if making an inventory of him.

“Is your story in proof?” he asked at last as he returned to his desk
and picked up some of the proofs.

Buck, standing by the editor’s side, began nervously to look over the
galley slips. Some were yet damp. The more experienced eyes of the older
man detected Winton’s story of the Airship Boys. Extracting it from the
bundle he passed the other slips back to the reporter and gave his own
attention to Winton’s “insert.”

“The Airship Boys,” the story began, “now known everywhere in America,
are not unknown in Europe. Ned Napier and Alan Hope, who first attracted
attention under this pseudonym, are Chicago products. Robert Russell,
who, from constant association with Napier and Hope, is now generally
reckoned as the third of the trio who have gained fame under that title,
is the oldest of the three and hails from Kansas City, where for some
time he was a reporter on the _Comet_.

“The greatest achievement of Napier, Hope and Russell was the creation,
elaboration and institution of a system of aerial navigation which
resulted in the present Chicago-New York air line.”

“I see that one of these young men, Russell, is a newspaper man,”
commented the editor, lifting his tortoise-shell nose glasses
inquiringly.

“Yes, sir,” answered Buck, “and a good one, I guess. Winton knows him.
Met him in New York last summer when Russell and Napier and Hope were
here floating the New York-Chicago airship line—the Universal
Transportation Company. You remember the ‘Flying Cow’ mystery, sir?”

“And these are the youngsters?” exclaimed the editor with new
illumination, replacing his glasses and resuming his reading.

“Napier,” Winton’s account continued, “is the son of a Chicago
lawyer—now dead—who was an amateur aeronaut. The father became
interested in dirigible balloons about four years ago and contracted to
make one for an amusement park. The father dying before the completion
of the contract, his son Ned assumed it, finished the craft and then
undertook to operate the balloon. Through a series of adventures he
attracted the public eye and his career began.

“Early in the following year Napier and a chum, Alan Hope—a lad of
mathematical turn—were employed by an ex-army officer, Major Baldwin
Honeywell, to construct a large balloon—one capable of a five-day
flight—for the purpose of locating a hidden Aztec temple in Navajo land
in Arizona. In this adventure Robert Russell, then representing the
Kansas City _Comet_, joined the boys and when the details of this highly
interesting, novel and profitable project reached the public the title
of the ‘Airship Boys’ was coined by the newspapers.

“It was in this flight over the mountains and desert that liquefied
hydrogen was used for inflation purposes, probably for the first time.
Although the big balloon used at this time was left in the mountains it
was rescued later by a second expedition organized in the same year. At
this time young Napier and Hope encountered one of their most marvelous
adventures. While they were attempting to ascend from one of the mesas
of Navajo land, their balloon was caught in an aerial maelstrom, swept
westward to the Pacific Ocean and finally wrecked on a water-logged
derelict lumber vessel. On this, within ten days, the young aeronauts
turned aviators by constructing an aeroplane out of the remnants of the
car of their dirigible balloon.”

Buck had what proofs he could find of his story and stood waiting but
the managing editor leaned a little further toward his desk light and
continued to read.

“Escaping from the abandoned wreck, the improvised aeroplane made a
three hundred mile flight to land and came down in the highlands of
Mexico where the daring aviators added further flavor to their novel
experiences by rescuing a blind man, long a prisoner among an unknown
tribe of Mexican Indians, and preventing his immolation as a human
sacrifice on the summit of a prehistoric pyramid.”

The absorbed editor paused and, without lowering the slip he was
reading, glanced at Buck over the top of his glasses.

“Are you familiar with the story of how these boys made an aeroplane on
a wrecked vessel in the Pacific?” he asked.

“Yes, sir,” responded Stewart. “It has been told in the newspapers.
There are several books about it and other adventures of these young
men.”

“I wish,” continued the editor, “if you know the titles of them, that
you would step into some book shop to-morrow and have all of them sent
to me.” Then he resumed his reading.

“In the summer of the following year the Airship Boys, including young
Russell, the reporter, sailed from San Francisco on a novel Arctic trip.
One of the backers of this expedition was Major Honeywell and another
was J. W. Osborne, of Boston, a millionaire manufacturer interested in
copper mines in North British America. For traveling over the ice a
dirigible balloon was carried along. The car of this was a practical
aeroplane and ice yacht. This little-heralded dash to the north is said
to have reached to within a few miles of the pole. The return was made
by way of northern British America where the aeroplane part of the
aeronautic outfit was used to discover a marvelous copper mine on an
uncharted island in Coronation Gulf.

“Out of their interest in this mine and the profits of their previous
flights, the Airship Boys were able to take up the study of scientific
aeronautics. This resulted in several marvelous inventions, including
the ‘rocket’ engine of ‘Flying Cow’ fame and the subsequent organization
last summer of the Universal Transportation Company which was
underwritten by J. P. Morgan & Co. Little has been heard of the
celebrated aviators since then. That they have not been idle the above
story attests.”

When the managing editor finished the galley proof of this brief account
of Ned Napier and his chums, he removed his glasses, lighted his cigar
once more, reached out his hand for Buck’s story and then laid it on his
desk.

“Tell it to me yourself, briefly,” was his order.

“If you ever read what I wrote,” began Stewart attempting to conceal
some chagrin, “the ‘lead’ isn’t mine. I guess it was rotten. Some one
rewrote it.”

The listener only nodded his head and waited, smoking slowly and
swinging his glasses expectantly. Thereupon Buck began and, much better
than he had written it, told the story of the new aeroplane: how he had
secured work in the plant, ingratiated himself into the confidence of
the workmen, used his eyes and ears and finally witnessed the night
ascent. In the midst of his rapid narrative the telephone rang. The
listening man responded, smiled, replied in approval and then returned
to the graphic narrative. Toward the close of the description the editor
arose. As Buck finished, the editor laid a hand on his shoulder in
silence. Then, as if recalling the written story, he stepped to his
desk, picked up the proof and gave it swift inspection. Without reading
it all he turned to the young reporter.

“I don’t know what your wages are, my boy,” he said kindly, “but
whatever they are, they are now doubled. It is probably the last time
any of your copy will have to be rewritten. I am glad you are on the
_Herald_. Good night.” He held out his hand. “Don’t think your unprinted
story is wasted. I may want to see you to-morrow.”

As Buck, his cheeks aflame, shook hands there was the sound of footsteps
in the next room.

“Thank you, sir,” Buck began. But he found no time to say more. The door
was thrown open and Mr. Latimer and three young men entered the office.
The sudden invasion threw the retiring reporter into the background. And
yet, before he closed the door on himself, he paused a moment to observe
the managing editor hastening toward his visitors.

“Mr. Napier, Mr. Hope and Mr. Russell,” announced Mr. Latimer in a tone
that was not without a little pride.

“Clear the stage for the real stars—the Airship Boys,” said Buck to
himself and closing the door, he hurried down the hall.



                               CHAPTER V

                       A BEWILDERING PROPOSITION


There was no marked sign of cordiality in Ned Napier, Alan Hope and Bob
Russell as chairs were brought from the anteroom and the Airship Boys
were asked to seat themselves. It was three o’clock in the morning (the
giant presses below were just starting on the big last edition of the
paper) and the visitors were yet to be given an explanation of why they
had been asked to get out of bed after but two hours asleep, and hurry
by taxicab to the office of the _Herald_. Even their brief rest had been
broken into by reporter Winton’s persistent telephone calls. Not even
the just before dawn coolness of the streets had aroused the boys into
daytime alertness.

“I am obliged to you, gentlemen,” said the managing editor after the
conventional salutations. “I would have come to you myself, but the
matter in hand is so new to me and so important that I am just now
prepared to talk to you intelligently. What I want to discuss with you I
had not heard of at one o’clock. I have been studying it ever since. I
hope you will pardon me.”

Napier—just between boyhood and young manhood—spoke for the visitors.
The slight frown on his face relaxed.

“We have no idea what this business can be,” he responded with a smile,
“but of course it is no foolish errand. If we seem a little stupid
please have patience with us. I’m hardly awake now.”

“Thank you,” responded the editor. Then he paused while he carefully
scanned each member of the party. As if to gain further time in which to
frame his ideas into words, he offered his cigar case. Only Bob Russell
and Mr. Latimer accepted a cigar. In the interval of lighting these, Ned
and Alan adjusted their disheveled clothing. In age, Alan was slightly
older than his chum. Russell had just attained his majority. Each boy
was typically Western. All were in comfortable light clothing and soft
shirts, the former trim and natty enough originally no doubt but now
somewhat sagging in the pockets because of note books, pencils, pens and
folded papers.

Ned wore a new straw hat, Alan had thrown off a cap, and Bob’s hat, on
the table, was a felt, light and soft after the Western style. A fresh
spot of oil on Ned’s light coat seemed to annoy him, probably because of
the formal and spotless attire of their host. The main differences
between the boys were in their faces. Russell had the imperturbable,
frank—even bold stare of the typical reporter, which was only lost when
he smiled. Napier’s, boyish and yet intense, wore at times the soft look
of a dreamer or poet. Hope, always alert and quizzical, had not even
smiled as yet. Alan’s character was well indicated by Ned’s frequent
phrase: “the boy wonder who has to be shown.”

The managing editor’s examination of the three young men did not seem to
make his coming explanation any easier. “They were just three boys,” he
explained later to a friend, “but I knew in a moment they were not
‘kids’ mentally.” While Ned coolly smoothed his hair the editor finally
began.

“I may as well be frank as a preliminary. The _Herald_ is in full
possession of the facts concerning what has taken place this evening.”
Not a boy batted an eye.

“If you don’t mind,” said Ned in the pause that followed, “would you be
a little more explicit?”

“I mean that a _Herald_ reporter watched the _Ocean Flyer_ leave the
Aeroplane Company’s yards to-night and saw it return twenty-five minutes
later. We are advised that it traveled forty miles seaward and returned
safely at a rate of one hundred and eighty miles an hour. We have
reasonably full details of the construction of your new airship and, I
believe, exact accounts of its unique features—the triple tandem planes,
their automatic adjustment, the new ‘moon propellers’ and the enormous
turbine sulphuric ether engines.”

There was a silence following this speech that was dramatic. As if
schooled for such emergencies not one of the three boys looked at the
other. When the silence was broken it was by Ned.

“As you say, your information is reasonably correct.”

Another pause followed.

“I assume,” continued the editor, “that you recognize that these facts
make a good newspaper story, particularly when they are known to one
paper alone.”

The first response to this came from Bob Russell, the reporter. But it
was not spoken. Recrossing his legs, he thrust his hands deep in his
coat pockets and gazed determinedly toward the ceiling.

“And I assume,” spoke out Alan Hope at last, “that you did not call us
here to tell us that.”

“Incidentally,” said the editor at once. “I may add that, despite the
excellence of this story as a piece of news, the _Herald_ is not going
to print it. Here,” he added picking up the bundle of proofs from his
desk, “are the proofs of nearly three columns of matter telling this
story. It is in type and ready for the press. The last edition of the
_Herald_ is now on the street without a word of it.”

The surprise caused by this statement seemed almost as great as that
caused by the editor’s first speech. Still the cautious boys gave no
outward signs of deep concern.

“Perhaps I ought to return your frankness,” said Ned at last after it
had become doubtful who would speak next. “When we entered your office I
suspected just what you have told us. The young man who left it as we
came in, I recognized. He is a skillful reporter. We thought we owned
our new car and its ideas. At least we paid considerable money to
develop them. We also had reasons of our own why the matter was not to
be made public. The _Herald_ has been clever enough to get our story. I
suppose we are helpless.”

The managing editor waved his hand as if this sort of irony was an old
story to him.

“You don’t want the story printed?” he said laconically.

“We do not,” replied Ned in the same tone.

“We are _not_ printing it.”

Ned bowed his head as if to say: “Well, why not?”

“Let me be still franker and ask you: ‘Why do you object to the story
being printed?’”

“Perhaps,” answered Ned, “if I may be equally candid, that is our
business.”

The editor smiled unmoved.

“Are you not curious as to why I suppressed it? Why I did not see fit to
print it?”

Not one of the boys, apparently, had taken this view of the situation.
All, at once, felt a little abashed.

“I think I’ll have to ask your pardon. Of course you had a reason.”

“Purely selfish,” was the quick response of the manager. “Let me ask you
one more question. Your secrecy suggests some particular plan or
purpose. Do you care to tell me what that is?”

“It is a long-concealed secret,” explained Ned after a look at Alan and
Bob. “I don’t see just why we should talk now!”

The head of the _Herald_ nodded as if in entire approval, leaned back in
his chair for a moment and then, much as if it had been under
discussion, remarked:

“At the speed you have secured and with the protected car the _Ocean
Flyer_ carries, why don’t you cross the Atlantic?”

Ned eyed his questioner a moment and then, with a glance at his two
chums, broke out laughing.

“And make good our name?” he asked, apparently glad to get into his
usual vein of joviality.

“And make good your name,” repeated the editor.

“Perhaps we may,” went on Ned impulsively. “Now that you’ve betrayed me
into that confession, whatever you do with your story of our new
machine, I hope you’ll say nothing of this. That is our object.”

“To reassure you,” answered the editor, “I have only to tell you that I
hope your secret will be the _Herald’s_.”

“What do you mean?” broke in Alan.

“You _can_ cross the Atlantic, you _ought_ to cross the Atlantic and I
hope you _will_ cross the Atlantic—for the New York _Herald_.”

“For the _Herald_?” exclaimed Bob. “For a prize?”

The editor nodded his head.

“Not for a prize,” he replied soberly, “but on a news assignment—the
biggest news ‘beat’ ever pulled off by a newspaper.”

The Airship Boys forgot the irritation of their abrupt summons, the
chagrin over their stolen secret and all the languor the late hour had
been working on them. With hurried glances at each other they faced the
managing editor wonderingly. In the silence a book dropped from the
table with a crash. Night city editor Latimer had fallen against it and
stood with bulging eyes and mouth agape. Not until that moment did even
he suspect the plans of his chief.

“A news assignment?” mumbled Ned finally.

“I don’t know how much thought you have given the possibilities before
you,” answered the editor, “but I have thought very hard on the subject
for an hour. As I understand it, your metal airship can maintain a speed
of one hundred and eighty miles an hour for a protracted period. It is,
in a direct great circle course, a little over three thousand miles from
this city to London.”

“Which we could cover in seventeen hours,” boasted Alan.

“Precisely,” went on the editor. “In other words, for our purposes, you
can cross over in twenty-two hours and come back in twelve hours or
less.”

“Twelve hours or less?” exclaimed Mr. Latimer speaking for the first
time.

“Certainly, in a way,” laughed Ned. “There is a difference in time you
know of five hours coming west. We gain that. We’d be in the air
seventeen hours actual time but by the clock not over twelve hours.”

“For instance,” interpolated the managing editor, “if the _Ocean Flyer_
left London at two o’clock in the afternoon and came to New York at the
rate of one hundred and eighty miles an hour it would reach this city in
seventeen hours. Allowing five hours for the difference in time, instead
of reaching here at seven o’clock the next morning it would arrive when
our clock hands were pointing to two o’clock.”

“In the same way,” explained Alan, “we would have to add five hours to
our clock time going east. That is,” he added edging forward in his
enthusiasm, “if we left New York at two o’clock in the afternoon,
instead of reaching London seventeen hours later or at seven in the
morning, the clocks would be striking noon when we got there. Oh, we’ve
figured all that out many times.”

“That being true,” resumed the managing editor, “and this marvelous
annihilation of space and time being at last a possibility, as I
conceive it, I have decided that the _Herald_ ought to assist in
announcing the fact to the world by giving a practical illustration of
what may some day be a commonplace.”

“You mean the _Herald_ wants to share in the glory of our ocean flight
if we make it?” asked Ned, his brows knitted.

“I do,” was the response. “You boys have the airship that can do this
and I think you have the daring to try it. If you do it with no other
purpose than to show that a flight across the Atlantic is a possibility,
you will get for it glory and fame—both empty rewards. Cooperate with
the _Herald_ and I will see that your success brings you not only fame
but substantial pecuniary reward. The _Herald_ is prepared to pay you,
not a _reasonable_ sum but an _extravagant_ reward.”

“What if we are satisfied with fame alone?” asked Ned.

“It will not be less because you act for the _Herald_.”

“What is there in it for your paper?” asked practical Alan.

“Let me finish my proposition,” continued the editor drawing his chair
forward into the half-circle of alert boys. “By the way, the Ocean
_Flyer_ is finished and ready for flight at any time, I take it?”

“Practically so,” answered Alan guardedly.

“This is Thursday, June 17. One week from to-day King George V will be
crowned King of England. It will be a ceremony that will attract
attention throughout the civilized and savage world. As a news story, it
is an event to test the news-gathering ability of the greatest
newspaper. The dramatic repetition, on a modern stage, of feudal forms
and priestly rites, may never again be repeated. The _Herald’s_ best
writers are already in London. Our photographers are now there to
graphically illustrate the unique picture of royal pomp and power. It is
the aim of the _Herald_ on this occasion, as on all others, to present a
better story, a fresher narrative and more perfect pictures of this
event than any other newspaper in the world.”

“Not counting the London _Times_?” suggested Bob as the editor paused.

“Not counting the London _Times_!” repeated the great journalist slowly
and significantly. “And to-night I have decided that we can do this with
the assistance of the Airship Boys and the _Ocean Flyer_.” The speaker
now showed his first enthusiasm. As he gripped the arms of his chair he
continued with precision. “I want the _Ocean Flyer_ to leave London at
two o’clock on Coronation Day, June 22, and bring to the _Herald_ office
in New York the best writers covering the coronation and the photograph
films made of the royal procession and such other pictures of the actual
coronation as our photographers may secure. I want these men and
pictures delivered at the _Herald_ office or its vicinity by two o’clock
the next morning. If you can and will do this you may name your own
price.”

It would have been difficult to tell on whom this astounding proposition
fell with the greatest surprise: the Airship Boys or Mr. Latimer, the
night city editor. The latter’s immediate wonder seemed to turn almost
at once into an envious admiration for the man who could conceive such a
bewildering idea. In this, he was apparently joined by Bob Russell upon
whose face there was a frank look of exhilarating amazement. Alan,
elated but puzzled, turned slowly to Ned. The latter gazed at the author
of the daring conception as if partly hypnotized.

“That is the reason I killed to-night’s story,” continued the editor in
a low voice. “I could not take the chance that another newspaper might
attempt to do the same thing. Only those in this room know what is
possible. We can make this effort in secret. What you planned to do you
_will_ do. What I propose will only add to the glory of your success.”

“It is not easy to give you an answer,” almost whispered Ned at last as
he wetted his lips. “It upsets all our plans and we have had no time to
consider it.”

“Do you want time for that?”

“It’s a tremendous thing to decide in a few minutes.”

“Is it the amount of compensation?” asked the elder man.

“I think that will not decide us.”

“What is it that makes you hesitate?”

“I hardly know. Alan,” said Ned turning to his chum, “you haven’t said
anything.”

But Alan made no reply. Gazing at the floor, he sat as if lost in
thought.

“You could carry these men; two writers and a photographer?” asked the
editor.

“Oh, there’d be no trouble about that; that many and enough persons to
operate the car. I think we could even give the photographer a dark
room,” answered Ned. “What do you say, Bob?”

“I’m on from the start, if you put it up to me,” exclaimed Russell who
had now wholly recovered his equanimity. “We could do it without turning
a hair.”

Every one smiled, while Ned drew his chair closer to Alan’s.

“Let me add another detail,” resumed the editor. “On the day before the
coronation the evening edition of the _Herald_ will print a special
coronation edition—American tributes to the King and Queen. Two sets of
the stereotype matrices of this edition will be made at two o’clock that
day. These are paper and light, as you know. On your eastern flight you
will carry these to the office of a London paper and deliver them at
noon of Coronation Day. With the London evening papers we will issue the
complete New York _Telegram_ of the day before.”

The listening, newly excited boys all arose and stood together. Mr.
Latimer walked to the window and raised the shade. The soft gray light
of a June dawn flooded the room and paled the yellow electric lights. It
was four o’clock. A sleepless night had left its traces on all. The
managing editor was again tearing a paper strip into bits. The night
city editor turned out the light bulbs and, biting at his short
mustache, walked nervously back and forth. Suddenly the editor brushed
the torn paper from his lap, arose and went to the big wall map. The
three boys followed him.

“We had planned to start from St. John’s in Newfoundland,” Ned began in
a tired voice. “The distance from that point to Fastnet Light or Cape
Clear in Ireland is less than seventeen hundred miles. That was our
plan. It seemed to us to be a big thing to undertake.”

The editor did not argue. Turning to the map, his form straightened. A
smile of assurance seemed to blot out the traces of night. With a sweep
of his arm he described a wide curve from New York to London. His smile
deepened. Dropping his other hand on Ned’s shoulder he exclaimed:

“There is your real course. You are next to one of the greatest
achievements ever accomplished by man. Do it or attempt it in good faith
and the _Herald_ stands ready to pay you $50,000.”

The figures were staggering but the three boys were now almost beyond
fresh sensations. While no one spoke, Mr. Latimer threw up a window. A
wave of cool, fresh air that burst into the room seemed to arouse the
bewildered boys more than the editor’s last words. It was day and time
for clearer thought. As the hesitating boys turned to drink in the
refreshing air, on a sudden all was decided. The telepathy of boy
comradeship passed the message without spoken words.

“We don’t want the money unless we do what you ask,” said Ned turning to
face the managing editor, “but we’ll try to do it.”

“Thank you, gentlemen,” exclaimed the worn editor. “Say that we meet at
the Knickerbocker at one o’clock for luncheon and then to business. Good
night.”

As the three boys took their departure the editor seated himself at his
desk again and reached for a pad of cable blanks.



                               CHAPTER VI

                   AN OLD HOME AND A MODERN BUSINESS


The full significance of this unique proposition did not appear to the
Airship Boys until they had cleared their brains with several hours of
sleep. In the preceding few days, as the _Ocean Flyer_ came to
completion, the three boys had put in long hours at the aeroplane
factory. And the final test—the flight in the dark to sea and back—had
been a strain that left them exhausted and ready for rest. Losing this
by being aroused from bed at two o’clock, put them in a nervous and
easily irritated condition. There was little time given that night to a
consideration of what was to come.

This was not true of the man who had suggested the daring venture. Long
after the boys had left him and while they were soundly asleep in their
near-by hotel, he remained at his desk elaborating his plans and taking
further steps towards their early execution. Long cablegrams in cipher
accumulated on his desk. These were to the London office and mainly
devoted to instructions and injunctions to the men already in the field
and at work on the coronation program.

Many of his messages asked questions necessary to an intelligent
cooperation between the aviators and the London representatives. Not the
least important was the one asking for a description of the best landing
place and an account of land marks and signals by which this might be
easily discerned. Motor cars were to be in readiness to carry the
matrices of the special edition to Fleet street, special police permits
were to be secured and arrangements made for the printing and
circulation of the transported paper in London.

At ten thirty o’clock the next morning Ned was taking his bath.
Remembering their luncheon engagement with the managing editor of the
_Herald_ he looked over his unpressed clothing with a smile. The oil
spot on his coat seemed even bigger than it had the night before. The
fact was the boys had come to New York unexpectedly and had meant to
return to Newark on the noon train. The new aeroplane having
demonstrated the complete success of their latest ideas it had seemed
right to report their experience to Major Baldwin Honeywell, the
treasurer of the Universal Transportation Company and their closest
adviser.

“We’ll have to get a move on us to see Major Honeywell before noon,”
exclaimed Alan who soon joined his chum. “What do you suppose he’ll say
about it?”

“What do you say yourself?” asked Ned as he manipulated the big bath
towel. “It comes to me like a dream.”

“I’m afraid we didn’t give it enough consideration,” answered the other
boy. “I’m not so warm in my feet on the subject to-day.”

“That’s all right,” panted Ned. “You’ll work into it. I think we did the
right thing. We meant to try to do it anyway. Why not have an object?”

“And $50,000,” added Alan.

“That’ll help some,” replied Ned. “Advertising must really pay,” he
continued, “when a newspaper gives up that much money just to make the
world talk about it.”

“How can a paper afford it?” mused Alan. “It could transmit by cable all
the copy those men can write coming over; and cheaper and quicker too.”

“But the pictures!” suggested Ned. “That’s what it’s really for. That’s
the big thing. They’ll stand out like the first telephone or the first
electric light. I reckon the stuff the _Herald_ reporters write on the
_Flyer_ may seem fresher and better but you can bet the pictures are
what the paper is after. They’ll beat the other papers by six days. You
know what that means.”

“What’s what mean?” sang out Russell, flouncing into the room. “Mornin’,
gents. Hustle along. I’m starved.”

He was told what Ned had been discussing.

“It means that the publication of those pictures the next
morning—pictures made at noon one day in London, printed the next
morning in New York—will put a crimp in every other sheet in New York.
Those are the things that give a newspaper a place in history. It’s the
way one newspaper gets to be known above another,” volunteered Bob.

“How about us gettin’ a little place in history?” asked Ned as he got
into his clothes. He held up his rumpled trousers. “We may get a place
in history,” he went on laughing, “but it won’t be in the ‘History of
Fashions.’ We’re a fine bunch to be dining at the Knickerbocker in these
togs.”

“Don’t you bother about your clothes,” broke in Alan. “We’re not
parading to-day. All you need worry about is that $50,000 contract.”

“And breakfast,” added Bob. “A little coffee and a cool cantaloupe’ll
set you up. By the way,” he added with a new laugh, “you can get a new
outfit in London—some o’ those swell Piccadilly rags.”

“I suppose you know how long we are to be in London?” interposed Alan.
“An hour or less.”

“That’s all right,” persisted Bob, “buy ’em ready made. If they don’t
fit that’ll be one proof we’ve been to England.”

“Well,” exclaimed Ned with another look of disgust at his grease-spotted
coat, “I’m ready. Now for some breakfast. Then we’ll hurry over and have
a talk with the Major. After that, we’ll meet our new friend at the
Knickerbocker. Meanwhile, get your heads working. There are a lot of
details to be arranged—if the _Herald_ don’t change its mind—and we’ve
got just six days in which to get things ready.”

Seated in the Breslin Hotel restaurant—the busy Broadway throng passing
just outside the window—while melons, cereals and ham and eggs fell
before the attacks of the three boys—each individual head began
“working.”

“First and most important,” began Alan, “excepting the details of the
contract of course, we’ve got to decide how we are to get away with
those matrices; that is, how are we to pick ’em up without losing the
time to send ’em over to Jersey or out to the suburbs? We certainly
can’t make a landing at the _Herald_ office in the city. And if we can’t
do that in New York we can’t do it in London. Where do we land in London
within a few minutes motor run of Fleet Street?”

“And we’ve got to have a fourth man,” added Bob. “Are we going to select
him or will the _Herald_ want to send one of their own men?”

“Those things’ll work out,” exclaimed Ned. “But they’ll have to _be_
worked out and we haven’t any time to waste. I think we ought to invite
the _Herald_ man out to see the machine. He’ll certainly want to meet
some of the business men we know.”

“Let’s bring Major Honeywell to luncheon with us. He expects to go over
to Newark with us to-day. Then we’ll get a big car and motor out early
in the afternoon. With that off our minds we can get down to business,”
suggested Alan.

“Say,” exclaimed Bob, “I don’t see any need to bother about picking up
that bundle of matrices. That’s easy.” To the looks of inquiry he
responded, “You know the postal crane that young Roy Osborne planned for
use on ocean steamers? Well, the model is finished. He figures on
installing it on liners so that passing ocean aeroplanes can swoop
alongside, toss off the latest London or New York papers with the mail
bag, and pick up the ship’s mail as the express trains do on land.”

“That’ll be all right when the time comes,” laughed Alan, “but I don’t
know any liner that needs to spend money now on such an equipment. It’s
a little previous isn’t it?”

“Just in time,” exclaimed Bob. “We need it now. At two o’clock when
these sheets are ready, they can be tossed into a fast motor, whirled to
the Battery, thrown on the _Herald_ motor boat, rushed out into the
sound and delivered to our ocean tug in fifteen or twenty minutes, maybe
less.”

“And then?” asked Ned.

“And then?” repeated Bob contemptuously. “Why, there is Osborne’s postal
crane rigged up on the tug and waitin’ for our ‘pick up arm.’”

“Simplest thing in the world,” Ned chuckled. “Great! Check off that
problem.”

“And meanwhile the _Flyer_ loses twenty minutes soaring around over the
bay,” suggested Alan. “You ought to allow for that in the contract.”

“Lose nothing,” went on Bob. “We won’t lose a second. We can come from
Newark to the Sound in eight or nine minutes. We’ll be all set and ready
to start at two o’clock. When the matrix bundle is hustled into the
automobile, the _Herald_ will notify us—”

“Wireless!” suggested Ned.

“Sure,” exclaimed Bob. “Ten minutes after the auto leaves _Herald
Square_, they’ll give us the signal by wireless. Then we’re off. Eight
minutes later, we ought to grab the bag off the tug and drop our
‘good-bye.’”

“How about London?” asked Alan.

“I pass that up,” replied Bob. “What I don’t know about London is a
whole lot. That’s up to some wiser head than mine.”

“That suggests something,” said Ned after a period of thinking. “We’ve
generally planned to make Roy Osborne our companion and fourth
operator.”

“He’s the best young man at the works,” Alan condescended to admit.

“But,” went on Ned shaking his head, “I can now see that our other man
ought to be an Englishman or at least some one who knows London inside
and out. Remember, we never planned flying into London. Now, we’ve got
to do that and go as far as we can toward the center of the city. Maps
and charts won’t help much if we are going high or at anything like full
speed.”

“We’ve got six days to find an Englishman,” argued Alan.

“And even if we have one who puts us just where we ought to go it’s a
cinch we’ll be pinched,” suggested Bob. “I reckon they’d do just that
thing here in New York if we tried to use Central Park as an aviation
field.”

“That’ll be up to the _Herald_,” announced Ned, “and we’ll have to talk
it over. I have an idea that the newspaper can arrange for some special
permit. If it can’t there’ll have to be some figuring.”

“We can’t chance that,” urged Alan. “There’ll be trouble enough without
fighting the London police. Two or three hours conversation in some
police station would upset everything.”

“Well,” announced Ned as he paid the check—he was usually the banker for
the three boys—“we can’t settle anything sitting here. Let’s hurry down
to the office.”

Calling a taxicab, the trio hastened down Broadway to Fifth Avenue and
south on that street to an old fashioned brick residence yet standing
almost within the shadow of the Flatiron building. There was nothing on
the windows to indicate the nature of the business of the house.
Hurrying inside, the boys paused for a few moments in a large room at
the right, the front windows of which looked out on the avenue. They
were apparently familiar with the place, the contents of which no longer
left a doubt as to the kind of business transacted in the house.

Framed photographs, wash-drawings and scale plans of aeroplanes hung on
all walls. On the old-fashioned marble mantle was a confusion of odds
and ends: samples of balloon cloth, rubberized silk, gossamerlike
aeroplane covering; thin bars and blocks of steel; a bundle of strips of
wood that had apparently been scientifically tested. Above these, tacked
to the wall, was a small white flag or burgee on which, in faded red,
appeared the word “Cibola.” This was the flag carried on the first
aerial craft made by Ned and Alan, the dirigible balloon with which the
Aztec temple was discovered on the hidden mesa in Navajo land.

On one side of the room two desks, their tops down and locked and
covered with dust, bore end plates marked “Mr. Napier” and “Mr. Hope.”
On the other side of the room was a flat desk. The top was a special map
of the United States, Canada and Mexico covered with a sheet of beveled
glass the exact size of the desk. On an adjoining small desk stood a
covered typewriter. While Ned and Alan opened their desks, Bob left the
room and made a tour of three rooms in the rear. In the two middle rooms
a half dozen elderly and sedate men were busy on books. All showed
deference to Bob above his years. But, beyond shaking hands as if he had
been some days absent, there was little conversation.

In a rear room it was different. A square shouldered man was in charge.
Between the windows was a breast-high, glass-encased, recording
instrument ticking off the seconds of Washington Naval Observatory time.
Over this, the second hand of a large clock jerked forward monotonously.
At one side, on a table, reposed several compasses. On two desks were
small engineering instruments, books, nautical almanacs and drawing
tools.

“Well, Lieutenant,” exclaimed Bob, “how’s the ‘old calculator’?”

“Oh, the major seems to get a new idea each day,” responded the man,
shaking hands. “How’s the _Flyer_?”

The details of the previous night’s test were described.

“I suppose you boys will be back now on commoner things for a while.
Pretty lonesome here. I haven’t seen one of you in ten days.”

“You worked out that great circle from St. Johns, Newfoundland, to Cape
Clear in Ireland, I suppose?” went on Bob throwing a leg over a desk.
When the man nodded, the boy added, “Well, that’s all changed. We’re
goin’ to start from Newark and head straight for London. You’ll get a
request to route us on that line.”

“It won’t make much difference,” answered the calculator as he opened a
portfolio and selected an outline sheet covering the Atlantic ocean. “As
I remember it, a great circle course connecting Fastnet Light off Cape
Clear and St. John’s harbor, if you continue it west, will pass just
south of New York harbor.”

“Then St. Johns wouldn’t be much out of our way?”

“Almost on your path.”

“There’s a new deal on,” explained Bob. “Get busy and project the new
course. And you might as well get down to all deviations; we’ll be goin’
in a few days.”

When Bob came back down the hall both Ned and Alan were busy at their
desks, in which all sorts of mail had accumulated.

“Hey,” called Ned as Bob passed the door on his way upstairs. “Here’s an
idea. There isn’t one of us really fit to go up there and have luncheon
with the _Herald_ man. Let’s ask him down here. This is the place to
talk it over; we’ll cut out the eatin’.”

“It may happen to be just our host’s time for eatin’,” laughed Bob.

“I’ll chance it,” answered Ned, “on the theory that newspaper men can
always go without food. If I can catch him, I’ll try to call it off and
have him come down here.”

A little later all three boys met in a sunny front room on the second
floor, the comfortable office of Major Baldwin Honeywell, treasurer of
the Universal Company. The white haired, military looking, elder man
tried to absorb and digest three lines of talk; the result of the
previous evening’s experiment, the prospects of the new airship; matters
in abeyance in relation to the Universal Transportation Company; the
experience in the _Herald_ office, the unique proposal, its acceptance
and the coming contract.

“We were goin’ to carry you up to the Knickerbocker,” explained Ned.
“Now our man is comin’ here at one o’clock. It’s up to you, Major, to
see that every thing is all right.”

Again Bob was off and up on the third floor. One following him would
have known at once that in the back room that overlooked a grass plot in
the rear, telegraph instruments were busy. A chief operator and two
assistants were recording reports. One of the assistants sat at a
wireless desk.

“Get the works at Newark,” exclaimed Bob with a good-natured salutation
for all. “I want to hold some conversation with Tom.” A moment later he
was busy with the key of the wireless.



                              CHAPTER VII

                   NED NAPIER ADVANCES SOME THEORIES


Neither J. W. Osborne, president of the Universal Transportation
Company, nor Major Baldwin Honeywell, its treasurer, had any financial
interest in the new airship. This had been planned and manufactured
under the supervision of and paid for by young Napier, Hope and Russell.
The cost, approximately $25,000, did not include any pay for the
services or ideas of the projectors.

After a trial of the novel airship it was understood that the machine
was to be sold to the Aerial Utilities Company in which the Airship Boys
and the underwriter of the Universal Transportation Company were the
sole stockholders. In the few minutes that Ned and Alan were together in
their office on the first floor they decided that the sale of the new
_Ocean Flyer_ to the Aerial Utilities Company should not be consummated
until the transatlantic flight had been made.

In the progress of their hasty talk, however, Ned managed to read
several personal letters. One, in a feminine hand and postmarked
Chicago, he did not throw back on the desk for his files. This one he
carefully put in his pocket. It was signed by Alan’s sister, Mary Hope.

“Your letter is here,” it read, “but I do not share in your enthusiasm
over the near completion of the new aeroplane. We are not happy to know
that Alan and you are to risk your lives again in a new experiment.
While you do not say so, Alan has written to father that it is your
intention to make a long water flight in the _Ocean Flyer_ if it proves
a success. I know what that means. I remember the speech you made at
your birthday party last summer about crossing the Atlantic! Don’t you
think that you and my brother have enough fame and reward to stop these
risks? I suppose it is presumption for me to attempt to interfere in any
way with what you and Alan look on as your ‘profession,’ but don’t you
believe your families ought to receive some consideration? And I’m sure
it would make us all very happy to hear that you are not going to try to
cross the ocean in an airship even if you did make the machine yourself.
Please send me word that you are not going to do it.”

Ned neither showed the letter to Alan nor referred to it. In fact, he
had recently reached a point in his acquaintance with Mary Hope that did
not inspire conversation in relation to her—least of all with his chum,
her brother. When the three boys met in Major Honeywell’s office a busy
hour followed. There was not only much talk concerning the new airship
but the temporarily postponed business of the Universal Transportation
Company demanded consideration. When the matter of the _Herald_ project
came up for analysis Major Honeywell and the boys discussed it in all
its phases.

When the _Herald_ manager arrived, a little after noon, the visitor was
first escorted through the various offices. Although he was acquainted
in general with the importance and magnitude of this newly organized
company, the details of its operating machinery astounded the
journalist. For some time after the _Herald_ manager reached Major
Honeywell’s office, he insisted on additional information on this
astounding aeroplane transportation service. The route maps, latitude
and longitude tables for all cities, magnetic variation and compass
deviation tables for aviators, photographs of the newly completed metal
monoplanes and the air-line hangars on the 750 mile route to Chicago
almost drove the proposed ocean flight out of the newspaper man’s mind.

“At least,” he said, “what you’ve shown, proves to me that we can’t fail
in what we’re about to attempt. I’m mighty glad I missed my luncheon.
I’ll not be satisfied now till I’ve seen your latest aeroplane.”

“This afternoon!” responded Ned with enthusiasm. “Mr. Russell has just
been in wireless communication with the factory. Daylight didn’t show a
scratch on the _Ocean Flyer_. We’d like to have you and Major Honeywell
go out with us this afternoon.”

“Delighted,” responded the managing editor. “We’ll pick up a bite on the
way. And as that is to be pleasure, let’s get down to business. Of
course you’ll want a contract.”

“Only a memorandum,” answered Ned. “Not so much a _contract_ as a record
of what we are to undertake.”

Thereupon Ned reviewed the talk he and his friends had had at breakfast,
the journalist making brief notes. The plan for picking up the matrices
at the start was received with enthusiastic approval. The boys were to
deliver the Osborne postal crane to a sea tug to be furnished by the
_Herald_, which was to install the device under young Osborne’s
supervision. The question of a landing in London was a harder nut to
crack. On this there was prolonged debate. The boys felt forced to put
the arrangement of this up to the newspaper.

“I have had but one idea on that,” explained the manager. “It may not be
wholly feasible but it is all I have in mind. Hyde Park is the biggest
open place near the ‘city.’ It is only about two miles from Fleet Street
or ‘newspaper row.’ There is plenty of room in this park to make a
landing and a new start just north of the Serpentine—that’s a long,
irregular bit of water you know.”

“Will the police permit it?” asked Alan.

“They can’t prevent the landing,” laughed Bob, “but we may all be in the
police station when it’s time to start back.”

“I’ll have to undertake to arrange that,” volunteered the manager. “Our
men in London ought to have enough influence to get a special permit.”

“That’s a point that’ll have to be covered in the contract or
memorandum,” suggested Major Honeywell. “The boys being strangers to
London can not undertake to guarantee this privilege to themselves. If
detained by some power beyond their control, the project might fail
through no fault of theirs. This contingency should be anticipated.”

“I concede that,” said the _Herald_ representative. “And yet, naturally,
an accident of that kind would defeat the main purpose of the project.
We might be paying our money for a practical failure.”

“Why not arrange a sliding scale of compensation?” suggested Major
Honeywell.

“Don’t misunderstand me,” continued the editor smiling. “The mere
crossing of the Atlantic on a mission for the _Herald_ is valuable
advertising. But, since so much depends on the time of the return trip,
I’d like to make an extra incentive, if possible, for its exact
fulfillment.”

“In other words,” exclaimed Ned, “you feel that part of the
responsibility of successfully getting away on the return trip ought to
be on us.”

“Perhaps that is the plain way of putting it,” announced the editor.

“I don’t know but what that’s fair,” responded Ned. “It’ll make us stir
our stumps at least. Let’s make it a sliding scale.”

“On that basis,” said the journalist quickly, “I’ll make a better offer
than I submitted last night—I’ll add $10,000 if the scale covers both
the east and west voyages. What do you suggest?”

Major Honeywell was already figuring. In a few moments he read the
following: “For picking up _Telegram_ matrices from _Herald_ sea tug on
East River between 2 P. M. and 2:20 P. M. Thursday, June 21, and
carrying them by aeroplane for the _Herald_ directly to European soil
within not more than eighteen hours, the sum of $25,000; for delivering
the same, within the same period, in England, $10,000 in addition; for
delivering the same within the same period into the hands of the
_Herald_ representatives in Hyde Park, London, $5,000 in addition. For
conveying from London, between the hours of 1:30 P. M. (London time)
June 22 and 2 A. M. (New York time) June 23, three representatives of
the _Herald_ and delivering the same within ten miles of the _Herald_
office, the further sum of $25,000. In case of a failure to carry out
the conditions of the last clause, the party of the second part is to
receive a bonus of $5,000 if the representatives of the _Herald_ are
delivered on American soil within twenty-four hours.”

“In other words,” explained Major Honeywell, “if the _Ocean Flyer_,
carrying your matrices, reaches any European point within eighteen
hours, the boys get twenty-five thousand dollars. If they reach London
successfully they are to be paid ten thousand dollars more or
thirty-five thousand dollars. If they make the trip back in the same
time, carrying your three people, they get another twenty-five thousand
dollars or sixty thousand dollars altogether.”

“That is the idea.”

“And if they fail to get back on time they get only five thousand
dollars for the return trip.”

“I’ll do better than that,” added the editor. “I have with me our
cashier’s check for $10,000 payable to the Airship Boys. The above terms
are agreeable to me. If they are satisfactory to the young men, I’ll pay
over the check now, unconditionally. It will have been earned if a start
is made in good faith.”

Ned at once waved the check aside.

“We’ll sign the contract and we’ll start not only in good faith but in
good hope. But we’ll call for our money on the morning of June 23, and,”
he added, his eyes twinkling, “when you may as well have a check for
sixty thousand dollars ready. We’ll earn it.”

While Major Honeywell’s secretary prepared a duplicate copy of the
memorandum contract Alan raised another point:

“Has any one figured where and how we are to deliver your reporters,
their copy, the photographer and his pictures? Remember, it will be
about two o’clock in the morning.”

“Can’t you drop the manuscript and the pictures somewhere out in the bay
near the _Herald_ boat if it shows prearranged signals?” asked the
editor.

“Why not show the same signals on the _Herald_ building?” asked Bob.
“Our customary green diamond?”

“But we can’t drop the reporters,” laughed Ned.

“If you can land our stories and our pictures on the _Herald_ roof,”
exclaimed the editor with new interest, “you may dump the reporters in
the Jersey flats and let ’em swim.”

“We’ll come over and look at the roof,” exclaimed Ned smiling. “The men
can take a chance with us.”

“Now,” began the editor in a new tone, “with these business details out
of the way, I want to ask something. I wish you’d explain to me how you
are going to travel one hundred and eighty miles an hour.”

“To confess the truth,” answered Ned promptly, “it’ll be two hundred
miles an hour. One hundred and eighty is our minimum.”

The editor’s face wore a puzzled look.

“This rate of two hundred miles an hour,” explained Ned, “involves no
new ideas. That is the natural evolution from the sixty mile an hour
rate due to a better built machine and more powerful engines. All
aeroplanes will reach that speed in time just as railway trains go
faster with more powerful engines, heavier road beds, better tracks and
more daring engineers. But the _Ocean Flyer_ has possibilities far
beyond two hundred miles an hour—theoretically at least.”

“More than two hundred miles an hour?” gasped the journalist.

“Mathematically,” answered Ned. “I can hardly say how near practice will
coincide with theory.”

“And how fast mathematically?” asked the _Herald_ manager quizzically.

“Anything up to eight hundred miles an hour. Possibly one thousand.”

Even Major Honeywell started with astonishment. The newspaper man shook
his head.

“Beyond sixty miles an hour,” he replied in a puzzled tone, “speed
doesn’t mean much to me. I can’t realize what it means to travel one
thousand miles an hour.”

“Here’s an illustration,” volunteered Alan. “At one thousand miles an
hour, an aeroplane could circumnavigate the globe, in the latitude of
Paris, in seventeen hours.”

“And beat the sun?” exclaimed the newspaper man.

“Mathematically,” repeated Ned, his smile broadening.

“I don’t believe you could travel at the rate of two hundred miles an
hour and live,” argued the editor.

“Oh yes you can,” retorted Alan. “How do you suppose birds cross the
ocean without food or water? Don’t you know that there are birds that
migrate the length of the Pacific ocean? There are Arctic birds that
winter in the tropics and fly to the polar regions in the summer—birds
that are never seen on land between those zones.” The newspaper manager
and the major were listening intently. “German scholars have discovered
that many migrating birds fly at such a high altitude that they can be
seen only by means of a powerful telescope. The flight of some of these
birds has been measured. Four miles a minute or two hundred and forty
miles an hour is not uncommon.”

The surprised manager made no comment.

“The mathematical possibilities of airship speed,” resumed Ned, “are
based on height or altitude. The maximum of speed at or near sea level
is no indication of what may be accomplished miles in the air. Let me
explain. Say we have an airship such as the _Ocean Flyer_ that can fly
two hundred miles an hour near sea level where the air pressure is
greatest.”

“Yes.”

“Then imagine the same airship seven miles in the air.”

“You’d freeze. Or if you didn’t you’d die from lack of oxygen.”

“Balloonists have gone that high. They were cold enough but they carried
oxygen with them and didn’t die.”

“Well!”

“At seven miles in the air the air pressure is reduced one half. The
forward speed of your airship, assuming that it is flying on the same
angle, ought to be doubled. You’d be advancing at the rate of four
hundred miles an hour.”

“I thought the buoyancy decreased with the pressure,” broke in Major
Honeywell who had absorbed more or less of the terms of aeronautics.

“So it does,” explained Ned, “but the buoyancy of an aeroplane is due
wholly to its rapid flight. If we are going at the rate of two hundred
miles an hour and are then able to double this, we have compensation for
the loss of half our buoyancy. So, all other things being equal, we have
a theory that like a migrating bird, the higher we ascend, the faster
our flight. And, one other thing. The faster you rise from the earth the
less the force of gravity. At eight miles altitude, where the air
pressure is one fourth that at the sea level, and where,
mathematically,” he looked at the astonished editor mischievously, “the
two hundred mile an hour aeroplane would be traveling at the rate of
eight hundred miles an hour, it has already been calculated that the
specific gravity of the airship would be two per cent less than at sea
level. Do you understand what that means?”

“That the force of gravity would be less,” answered the editor.

“And that the centrifugal tendency would be greater,” continued Ned. “In
other words there would be an appreciable inclination of the airship to
fly away from the earth.”

“Oh, I see,” exclaimed the journalist. “We have at last come around to
Jules Verne’s cannon ball that was fired at the moon.”

“Only that in this instance,” replied Ned soberly, “we have a guidable,
continuously propelled cannon ball.”

“Didn’t an aeroplane man go up eleven thousand feet?” queried the
_Herald_ manager suddenly. “Did he fly faster?”

“On the contrary,” explained Ned, “he had great trouble in maintaining
his position and in controlling his machine. But that wasn’t because the
mathematics of it was wrong,” and again he laughed. “All other
conditions changing at that enormous height, your mechanical appliances
must also change. Propellers made alone for the heavy air of the lower
altitudes are not adapted to use in the rarefied atmosphere seven or
eight miles up. The _Ocean Flyer_ has propellers that compress the thin
air of the upper levels. Gasoline engines doing their best work when
ordinary air is used in the explosion chambers are far less efficient
when air at one-half or one-fourth pressure is used. The _Ocean Flyer_
has an arrangement for compressing air. Its liberated, exploded gas
expands even better in thin air. Present-day aeroplanes and their
engines and propellers are made for sea level work. Hoxie, who did that
eleven thousand elevation feat skyward had no excuse for such a flight.”

“And you think you can live at that altitude?”

“We’ll carry oxygen, of course,” went on Ned, “but we won’t even need
that. The _Ocean Flyer_ has the first enclosed car or cabin used on an
aeroplane. The compartments of its two decks connect with each other but
all can be made one airtight whole. Even the engines are within an
airtight compartment. Attached to the point or bow of the car is a
large, metal funnel with a wide flange. Tubes leading from the small end
of this pass into each room. Flying at sixty miles an hour causes the
air to rush into this funnel with such force that all or any one of the
compartments are soon full of compressed air. At a speed of two hundred
miles this would be so great that, instead of having too little air, we
would have too much unless the pressure gauges were watched and the flow
shut off from time to time.”

The great editor looked on the young aviator as if the latter possessed
some of the mysterious power of a wizard.

“That does seem reasonable,” was his comment at last.

“At least _mathematically_,” went on Ned with the same smile. “This will
not only give us breathing air but the pressure ought to give us
sufficient heat to prevent frost bite. It will certainly do another
thing. If we are driven to use our engine at such a height, we can draw
the air for mixing with its gas directly from the engine room where it
can be regulated to sea level pressure.”

“Major,” suddenly exclaimed the puzzled and not unexcited editor, “send
me those contracts when they are ready. I’m going over to Newark and
have a look at this _Ocean Flyer_. I think I’ve made the best bargain of
my business life.”



                              CHAPTER VIII

                  THE _Ocean Flyer_ CREW IS COMPLETED


Before the arrival of the big automobile, Ned and Alan had a conference
with the man in the rear room on the first floor. In all their
aeronautical experience, one constant annoyance had been their inability
to estimate exactly the speed at which they were traveling. Advancing
either with or against the wind—which is always in motion a few hundred
feet above the ground—they always had to take the readings of the
anemometer with allowances. With the airship speeding into the wind, the
pressure set up by the aeroplane itself was increased by the force of
the encountered wind. The flight of a balloon directly upward is
accurately determined by the barometer. But the drift of a dirigible is
largely a matter of judgment or deduction from the anemometer readings.

Because of this the boys had been utilizing the reserve monoplanes of
the Universal Transportation Company and some of the lighter, standard
aeroplanes of the manufacturing company, to make experiments in flight
speed and how to determine this speed with exactness. Alan, the
mathematician of the young partners, had made deductions based on their
accumulated data and these he had recently submitted to the engineering
department of the company. In the light of the new project this phase of
their work had an added importance.

At times, when there was no appreciable breeze (and the boys were always
on the lookout for these infrequent occasions) quick flights had been
made and the speed of the aeroplane in relation to propeller revolutions
had been exactly timed by land marks. Records were also made of the
anemometer register on these trips, the latter giving, in the absence of
wind, the real pressure on the instrument due to the rush of the
aeroplane through the air. At other times, flights were made in the
wind, both with and against it. The movement of the atmosphere was
carefully measured before these flights and from these figures, compared
with the wind gauge readings recorded when the aeroplane was under
power—at all speeds of the propeller—tables were made of pressure due
wholly to the wind and that caused by the flight of the air craft.
Different forms of propellers were used and out of this mass of
statistics the engineer of the company and Alan had worked out formulas
for speed computation.

“We’ve got to know the wind, Lieutenant,” exclaimed Alan as the boys
looked over the engineer’s neatly recorded calculations. “If we don’t
know and can’t measure that, we’re as helpless as the old sea dog who
navigates ‘by guess and by God.’ We may guess right on its velocity when
we start a flight, but in a little while the whizzing sound dulls your
sense of speed. You may make a bad mistake in rising or ‘banking’ and
you won’t know where you are—especially at sea.”

“‘Bird sense’ is all right for race track stunts,” added Ned, “but it
won’t do when you’re out of sight of land. We’ve got to have something
that is automatic; something, at least, that we can use as a guide for
figures.”

Upon his desk and at other places in the engineer’s room were aneroid
barometers, a new pocket device in shape like a watch especially
interesting the young aviators. A barograph for automatically recording
air pressure and indicating height in the air, not only received
attention but was at once repacked in its case to be taken to Newark. A
new aerometer was also wrapped up for the same purpose.

“This barograph looks like a good thing,” the engineer explained. “It
has a recording cylinder that revolves by clockwork and the indicator
needle bears on a series of levers which communicate their displacements
to a pen arm. Each movement of the mercury is then recorded on the
cylinder. On that you have a graphic story of your up and down journey.”

Compensated and gyroscopic compasses, statoscopes for measuring
equilibrium, thermometers and shaft speed indicators were also to be
seen. But with the new barograph and the new aerometer, Ned and Alan
seemed to content themselves for the time.

“Mr. Russell tells me the new ‘Flyer’ did all you expected of it,” said
the engineer.

“It’ll do two hundred miles at sea level when it’s tuned up,” answered
Ned proudly.

“Then you’ll certainly make your ocean flight?” suggested the engineer.

The boys immediately explained in brief the new program. The engineer
heard them soberly.

“In that event,” he said at once, “you’d better take several days for
experimenting with the wind and speed pressure of the new car. I can’t
guarantee that the figures made for the other machines will apply to
this one. I’ll come to the works in the morning and make the kite and
ground records while you young gentlemen get me the flight pressures of
the ‘Flyer’ under all conditions.”

“Fine,” exclaimed Alan. “You know you’ll have to project a new ocean
course for us with all the variations, sailing rhumbs and course
alterations.”

“From New York to London?” asked the engineer nodding his head. “I wish
you could have counted on the stops at St. Johns and Cape Clear in
Ireland. I’d have felt better about it,” he continued turning to his
desk and opening a large portfolio. “That chart is ready.”

“Let’s have a look,” exclaimed Ned.

On a United States Hydrographic Office “Pilot Chart of the North
Atlantic Ocean,” the boys traced a slightly circular line reaching from
St. Johns in Newfoundland to Brow Head and Cape Clear, in Ireland just
below which appeared the little dot indicating Fastnet Light, the first
old world signal to passengers from America. Far north of any steamer
route, the seeming curve of the lieutenant’s projected line of flight
was seen to be really a succession of straight lines—the sailing
variations and compass courses from hour to hour.

In neat engineering letters, in a vacant place on the map, was this
memorandum: “From St. Johns, Newfoundland, to Fastnet Rock, Ireland, by
great circle is 1666 miles. Initial course is N. 66 E. true. Final
course is S. 81 E. Therefore you port one-eighth of a point every
seventy-five miles easting.”

Alan made a few figures with his pencil on a corner of the chart. “A
point,” he said aloud, “is eleven degrees and fifteen minutes.
One-eighth of that is one degree and twenty-four minutes. Every
seventy-five miles we port one degree and twenty-four minutes.”

“Exactly,” replied the lieutenant, “and that’s why you’ve got to be
right on your speed measurement. Then, knowing the distance covered, you
can navigate by compass.”

“The machine is out here eatin’ her head off,” shouted Bob at this
juncture. “Get a move on, youse ducks, I’ve wired the works to have
lunch ready for us.”

“In a minute,” answered Ned. He turned to the engineer again. “Did you
work out those distances and the time from St. Johns to New York by rail
and steamer?”

In some of the preliminary talk on the possibilities of a transoceanic
aeroplane service it had been suggested that the actual air flights be
between Brow Head or Cape Clear in Ireland and St. Johns in
Newfoundland. But the boys had been so busy on the new sky-craft that
they had not gone into the shore ends of this suggestion.

“I’m afraid the company would beat itself by doing that,” answered the
engineer. “However fast you flew from Cape Clear to St. Johns, you’d
lose so much time by finishing the trip on land that the big liners
would almost beat you in. It’s eighteen hundred and forty-five miles
from St. Johns by rail through Nova Scotia up to Montreal and down to
New York and the present train schedule calls for seventy-four hours to
cover it.”

“How about rail to Halifax and then by steamer to Boston and New York?”

“Worse,” laughed the lieutenant. “That would take nearly eighty hours.”

“That settles it,” announced Ned picking up the barograph case. “It will
be New York to London direct. We can’t afford to hustle over the
Atlantic at two hundred miles an hour to lose one hundred and fifty
miles an hour on a slow fifty mile an hour express train. Lieutenant,”
he added affectionately, patting their skilled assistant on the
shoulder, “we’ll be glad to see you to-morrow and we’ll do all the
experimenting you suggest. But, sometime in the next six days, just
piece out that ocean course and hook London and New York on the ends of
it.”

“That’s almost what I’ll do in reality,” was the prompt answer of the
engineer. “Until you figure it, you’d hardly believe that a direct east
or true great circle sailing course between London and New York would
pass over St. Johns. But it’ll come mighty close to it. The route I’ve
projected,” he explained pointing to the sweeping curve on the chart,
“if extended on the same lines, will pass just south of New York bay.”

Alan had the new aerometer under his arm but at this suggestion he
laughed, put it down and opened an atlas of the world. Turning to the
map of Ireland with his finger he followed the southern shore line until
it came to Cape Clear. Nearby he made out a small town from which he
traced the Cork, Bandon and Southern Railway, connecting through Cork
with Dublin on the east coast. Then he slammed the book shut and
exclaimed:

“All aboard, in Aeroplane Number One, for St. Johns, Newfoundland,
Skibbereen, Ireland, and London. First stop St. Johns. All aboard.
_Ocean Flyer_ leaves in one minute.”

Major Honeywell and their guest now appeared and Ned and Alan hurried
with them to the automobile. In the trip to the ferry and across the
Hudson river Ned entertained the _Herald_ manager with an account of
what a flight across the ocean meant.

“Ordinarily,” said the journalist at one time, “all I have seen to-day
and what you are telling me would make very good newspaper reading—to
say nothing of what we threw away last night.”

“And I’ve been livin’ in that kind of stuff for over three years,”
volunteered Bob, “without writing a tenth of what I knew.”

“I’m afraid your reportorial instincts are a little dulled,” laughed the
editor.

“No, sir, not by a jugful,” retorted Bob. “When I do break out it’ll be
good and proper. They’ve had me for three years just where they had the
_Herald_ last night.” Evidently Bob was a little touched by the comment
of the editor. “If you’ll excuse me, I’ll make a guess you’ve found out
considerable to-day that _you_ ain’t goin’ to print.”

“You’re right,” laughed the editor heartily. “I’ll withdraw what I said.
Your friends seem wonderfully successful in keeping their business to
themselves. You’re quite right. The _Herald_ is going to print nothing
that will detract from the spectacular finish of what we shall try to
do.”

“We’ve been counting on that, of course,” broke in Ned. “And even after
we make the trip,” he went on, “I hope the _Herald_ will never print
anything more than we tell its reporters. There are some ideas that we
can only protect by secrecy.”

“You mean that what I have personally seen and been told to-day is
confidential? Of course. Feel perfectly free, while I am with you, to
say what you like. All editors must be able to distinguish between
conversation that carries news and the free talk of friends.”

The car was speeding out of Jersey City on the marsh road westward
toward Arlington.

“If every flight we have made over these marshes had left a mark in the
air,” remarked Alan, “that sky up there would look like a waffle.”

“Are all three of you equally old in this aviation business?” asked the
editor smiling and unconsciously looking skyward as if he really
expected to see a maze of aerial paths.

“Bob is what we call an auxiliary,” explained Alan. “He hasn’t flown as
often as he wanted to but he’s no tenderfoot. However, his chance is
comin’. He’ll have to make a full hand on this ocean trip.”

“Will it require three of you to operate the machine?” the editor asked.

“Four,” answered Ned. “There’s a young man out at the works, Roy
Osborne—the son of the chief engineer—who has had experience all over
the country. He’ll probably be the fourth member of the crew.”

“Tell me what each one does,” asked the editor straightening up and
grasping his Panama to make sure the speeding car did not tear it from
his head. “Talk about two hundred miles an hour,” he added with a
grimace as he saw forty-five miles indicated on the speedometer, “this
is enough for me.”

“Me too,” announced Ned to the editor’s surprise. “There’s more sense of
speed right now in this car goin’ forty-five miles an hour—and more real
danger too,” he added positively—“than there is in an airship going
sixty miles an hour. In the air, our road bed is perfect. Here a rut may
pitch the whole machine over the fence. High up in the air you have no
objects along your path to measure flight. The ground is so far away
that it is no criterion. In the air, at your highest speed, there is
almost no sense of motion. It’s like a swiftly ascending balloon in
which you can only judge your flight by tossing paper overboard.”

“Tommy rot,” broke in Bob, “you talk as if you were selling aeroplanes.
Ruts in the road! There are more ‘ruts,’ ‘holes,’ ‘pockets’ and ‘chasms’
in the air than you’ll find on the worst roads on the ground. And that
ain’t all! You can’t see ’em till you’re in ’em. The death record this
year tells what they mean too. As for bein’ no danger, give me an
automobile and a place to fall even if it is hard.”

“Then you’re not going?” asked the editor wonderingly.

“Sure,” answered Bob. “That’s one reason I’m goin’. And that’s the
reason the _Herald_ is goin’ to give us $60,000. You can bet you
wouldn’t give us that for drivin’ an automobile to San Francisco—even at
top speed. It’s the chances we take of strikin’ one of these ‘gullies’
up in the sky and turnin’ turtle just where the Atlantic is deepest and
wettest.”

“He’s all right now,” was Alan’s quiet comment when Bob had finished.
“Bob always blows off under pressure.”

“Well,” said the editor in turn, “I had an idea—a suggestion—but Mr.
Russell’s speech almost killed it. Still—”

“What is it?” insisted Ned.

“You said you had not definitely made up your crew. For a time I was
prompted to ask if all your operators had to be persons of experience
with aeroplanes.”

“They should be, on a trip like this,” explained Ned, “but not
necessarily so. They must have coolness, however, and nerve and
endurance.”

“Would it be out of the way for me to send a representative with you?”

“If you had the sort of man we could use, that is, one that could stand
watch with us and who was not merely a passenger,” answered Ned looking
at Alan and noting that the latter approved, “it would not only be
proper but we’d be glad to make him our fourth man.”

“I’m sure I have such a young man,” continued the editor quickly, “and
he is just about your own age. I never saw him until two o’clock this
morning.”

“You mean the guy that tipped us off to the _Herald_,” exclaimed Bob
impulsively.

The editor nodded his head with a smile.

“The young man we saw leaving your office as we entered it?” asked Ned
edging forward.

“Buckingham Stewart, a _Herald_ reporter,” answered the editor. “He
seems to me to have all the qualities you name. I don’t know that he’ll
care to take the risk. If he does, I offer him as my representative.”

“Don’t you worry about him not goin’ if he gets a chance,” volunteered
Bob.

“Alan,” said Ned with a broad smile, “if this fellow was smart enough to
find out all he did about the _Flyer_ without a look at it in the
daylight or a word from us, it’ll take him about fifteen minutes to
understand it when he really sees it. I say, take him.”

“I’m agreeable,” answered Alan and the crew was complete.



                               CHAPTER IX

                    DUTIES OF THE _Ocean Flyer_ CREW


President J. W. Atkinson of the Aeroplane Company, was always ready to
offer chance visitors noon-time refreshment. In fact, for over ten days,
the Airship Boys had not left the factory in the middle of the day but
had devoted the resting hour to a hasty luncheon and talk with Engineer
Osborne, his son Roy, an experienced aviator, and other skilled
employes. Therefore, at two thirty o’clock, as on their previous busy
days, the boys were at luncheon in the same place with their guests. Mr.
Atkinson sat with them and kept Major Honeywell and the _Herald_
managing editor company over their cigars.

In spite of the injunction of the engineer of the Universal
Transportation Company (which by the way had no business connection with
the American-Aeroplane Company although Mr. Atkinson was a heavy
stockholder in each) that experiments should be made for several days to
ascertain the wind pressure on the new airship in flight, it was at once
agreed that these voyages must be made at night.

“The first appearance of such an unusual craft,” the editor argued,
“would certainly attract wide attention. Publicity is bound to follow.
The car ought never to appear by day until the real flight is made.”

This being conceded, Bob immediately sent a wireless message to New York
notifying the engineer to report that night at the factory. The chef at
the factory was not an unskilled one. The day was hot and a cooling
drink he had invented and served received so many compliments that Chef
Jasper was summoned from the kitchen. To be openly and personally
congratulated by such a celebrity as the director of the New York
_Herald_ disconcerted Jasper. For a time he could not explain the
composition of his unique beverage. But at last the pleasant mystery was
revealed.

“Mah wife Lindy,” Jasper finally made plain, “she jes’ done git a bucket
o’ fine, ripe, sweet churries an’ she pits ’em and biles ’em till de
juice is jes lak ’lasses, puttin’ plenty o’ sugar in ’em till de surup
is sweet ’nough an’ not too sweet. An’ dats all. When yo’ desiahs to
make a churry coolah you done take a big col’ glass an’ fill it plum up
full o’ crush ice, dry an’ powdah lak. Den yo’ takes a half a cup o’ de
juice and dreen it down trew de white ice. When de ice ’gins to melt yo’
pour de glass full o’ ginger ale an’ let her fizz an’ bile. But not no
Jersey City ginger ale. You wants English ginger ale cause Jersey ginger
is sweet lak ’lasses.”

“I suppose,” said the delighted editor to the boys, “that you won’t
really need one of Jasper’s ‘cherry coolers’ on your ocean voyage.”

“We’ve made several trips in the air,” laughed Ned shaking his head, “in
which we had to do a good deal of figuring on the food supply. This time
this will give us little trouble. Sandwiches, bread and butter, some
tinned beans, meats and made coffee for heating over an alcohol stove
will be about our only supplies. It’ll be such a short voyage and such a
busy one that eating will be the least of our troubles.”

“Wait till the regular transatlantic service begins,” laughed Bob. “You
ought to see the sketch of the passenger car with its dining
compartments. No ‘short order’ service; soups, roasts, salads, ice
cream. And the sleepin’ car—”

“But that’s to come,” interrupted Alan. “Meanwhile, we have a rather
comfortable car out here in the setting-up room. It’s ready for
inspection.”

“Just one minute,” suggested Major Honeywell. “Your guest asked you a
question on the way out here that has not yet been answered. He wants to
know the duties of the four members of the operating crew.”

As they arose from the table Ned volunteered to explain.

“First, we must have a pilot constantly at the wheel. But his duties are
not simply to keep a lookout ahead. His chief concern is to watch the
control of the machine by counteracting the influence of unexpected air
currents and those atmospheric obstructions that Bob calls ‘ruts.’ It
can’t be denied that there are unexpected and indistinguishable puffs of
air that will bump an aeroplane just as a rock or a piece of wood will
bounce an automobile in the air.”

“You are the pilot, I take it?” commented the editor.

“One of ’em,” smiled Ned. “Mr. Hope is the other. We find it good policy
to take three-hour tricks. The strain of a longer watch unnerves one.
The pilot also controls the engines. But that does not relieve us of the
need of a man in the engine room. This engine man, who on this trip will
be Mr. Russell, who really knows more about an aeroplane than his
conversation suggests, has enough to do. He watches the automatic fuel
and lubricator supply feed pipes; the compressed air gauges and pipe
valves; the signal and illuminating light motor, the oxygen tanks, the
plane valves, and if the rudders go wrong, he is the man who goes out
and fixes them. In this instance he is also the wireless operator.”

“When does he sleep?” asked Major Honeywell chuckling.

“When everything is going all right,” answered Ned, “or when one of the
pilots spells him off for an hour.”

“And the fourth man?” asked the editor. “Everything seems provided for.”

“The rear of the pilot room,” went on Ned, “resembles a laboratory. It
is the observation and record office of the ship. The observer in charge
keeps the log of the flight, records the data that gives the pilot his
bearings and enables him to find his way through unmarked space,
prepared at any minute to sound warnings of perils ahead or behind that
the eye can not detect. His record of the pressure of the aerometer
gives the speed of the machine as nearly as instruments can show it.
These figures, with our own tables of wind and flight pressures under
all revolution speeds, give us approximately the exact rate of advance.
He must watch and keep in operation the barograph or self-recording
altitude gauge which takes the place of the usual barometer; as a check
he also notes and records periodical readings of the regular barometer;
he keeps constant watch on the car equilibrium by means of the
statoscope; he records the compass course, sets down the latitude and
longitude by following the compass bearing and the advance in miles; is
the pilot’s clerk and keeps a record of the pilot’s changes of course—”

“Is that the job my reporter is booked for?” interrupted the astonished
editor.

“That’s the plan. It’s really Mr. Hope’s work; he has the experience and
he is personally acquainted with figures,” answered Ned with a smile.
“But I’d like to have him to work with me. Of course we give a lot of
attention to this work ourselves, as we’re right alongside.”

“Then don’t take him because I asked it,” said the journalist hastily.
“If you want him, take him of your own accord. I wouldn’t recommend any
one for that job.”

Bob, passing a window on his way to the door, sprang forward suddenly,
grasped the open window ledges and then turned as hastily toward those
behind him. His face was a study.

“There he is, now,” Bob stuttered. “He’s here again.”

“I saw his face,” shouted Bob pointing toward a young man in new
overalls and cheap gloves who was running down a little tramway on which
a car carried some castings.

“Was it Stewart?” panted Ned equally excited.

“Sure’s you’re born,” exclaimed Bob. “He certainly has nerve. Hey, you!”
yelled Bob out of the open window.

Their older companions having joined them there was a quick explanation.

“A _Herald_ reporter!” almost shouted President Atkinson.

“And he’s been here four or five days trying to get a line on the _Ocean
Flyer_,” broke in Alan angrily.

Mr. Atkinson started on a run for the door but a word from the _Herald_
manager halted him.

“The horse is stolen now,” began the editor, smiling. “Any way, I’ll
guarantee you against the young man’s causing any trouble. Have some one
bring him here. We’ll see what this means. He’s certainly persistent.”

“All of that,” replied Mr. Atkinson coldly. “We don’t care much for
spies around here.”

“Nor I, anywhere,” replied the editor in a tone that made the
manufacturer turn. “He probably thinks he is doing his duty. At any
rate, he has done no harm.”

The party passed out of the dining room into Mr. Atkinson’s office. In a
few minutes a clerk ushered the overalled young tram car conductor into
the room. His inquisitors were all seated. “Buck” Stewart looked at them
wonderingly. His face wore no smile but he did not seem especially
alarmed.

“Isn’t your name Stewart?” asked the editor sharply.

“Buckingham Stewart,” was the only answer but, as the young man made a
closer inspection of those about him, a look of recognition came into
his face. As he met Ned’s glance there was even the ghost of a smile on
his lips.

“What are you doing here?” went on the editor.

“Workin’.”

“What for?”

“To increase my fund of information.”

“By sticking your nose into other people’s business,” added President
Atkinson warmly.

“I expect that’s true,” answered Stewart as he drew off his gloves and
revealed two very white hands. He also made an attempt to clear his wet
face of perspiration. “I’m a reporter—or almost was,” he added, his
smile broadening into a magnetic grin.

The editor held a whispered talk with Mr. Atkinson which turned the
manufacturer’s irritation into a milder mood.

“Were you sent here to-day?” resumed Stewart’s superior brusquely. “I
told Mr. Latimer I might want to see you.”

“Then he forgot it,” exclaimed Stewart promptly. “I asked for orders
last night and was told there were none.”

“But Mr. Latimer was in my office until after four o’clock,” went on the
editor pointedly.

“I waited for him.”

“And he said—?”

“‘Nothing doin’, young man.’ Then I asked if I could come out here
to-day and get my things.”

“What things?” asked his questioner.

“My gloves and my new overalls,” answered Buck without a smile.

“Have you been _getting_ these all day?”

“I asked the foreman if I could get off to go to New York,” responded
Buck solemnly, “and he laughed at me.”

“And meanwhile—?” began the now almost smiling journalist.

“Meanwhile, I twice just escaped bein’ sent into the shed where the
‘Ocean Flyer’ is.”

Despite his efforts, the straight face of the editor was breaking into a
laugh.

“Your story’s dead,” broke in Bob with a professional tone. “What are
you hangin’ around here for?”

“I don’t know officially that it’s dead,” responded Buck. “I have an
idea it isn’t. Any way, I thought I’d finish the job. But I just missed
it.”

“What would ‘finish’ your job?” asked Ned suddenly and with animation.

“One good peek at your new airship.”

“Come with us,” exclaimed Ned laughing outright. “We’re just goin’ to
look it over.”

“Stewart,” said the editor recovering himself, “you’d better get your
time from the foreman. I am now on this assignment myself. We don’t want
to make it a case of too many cooks.”

“Yes, sir.”

“When you’ve cleaned up, follow us. The _Herald_ has another assignment
where you and I won’t clash.”

The puzzled Buck watched the editor withdraw, trying to decide just what
this meant. Ned and Alan taking charge of the older men, Bob held back a
moment.

“You’re Russell, ain’t you?” exclaimed Buck. “My name is Stewart. I’m in
the business too.”

“I’ve heard all about you,” answered Bob. “You came near makin’ a mess
o’ things by tippin’ our hand.”

“I reckon I ought to say I’m sorry but you know the game. It’s all right
now; I’m fired from the job. And I guess it don’t necessarily mean I’m
promoted, either. The city editor didn’t tell me to quit. So I stuck
another day. Now I’m holdin’ a fine, large empty sack.”

Bob leaned over and caught Buck by the shoulder. The grimy Stewart was
instantly alert.

“Say, kid,” said Bob in a half whisper, “there’s something doin’. Wash
up and get on our trail.”

“Am I in wrong with the old man?” asked Buck eagerly in the same tone,
catching Bob’s hand.

“Not so’s you could notice it,” answered Bob with a significant wink.
“Trail us.”

The aeroplane setting-up room of the factory resembled a union depot in
floor surface. Its south or yard front was a drop of heavy canvas with
roof supports at one hundred feet intervals. Within this far-reaching
compartment, and dwarfing all other forms of aircraft, stood the _Ocean
Flyer_. A heavy tarpaulin, partly covering the big central car, gave an
added air of mystery to the gigantic machine. Its unusual weight was
indicated by the fact that the big airship was not resting on its extra
size automobile landing wheels but was supported on temporary jacks.

“How do you get it in and out?” was the editor’s instant inquiry as he
noticed the one hundred foot wide entrances and the wing spread of one
hundred and seventy feet.

“The landing wheels turn to any angle,” responded Ned as he threw off
his coat. “We move them sideways, push out one of the wing planes, turn
the wheels back to a right angle and then ‘the tail follows the dog.’”

While the three boys sprang on the side galleries of the car and began
to draw off the protecting cover, the visitors advanced under the high,
wide, spidery planes and gazed in wonder at the metal marvel. One after
another, on each side, the dull, gun-metal colored planes reached out in
unbelievable length and lightness. Braces reaching from the bottom of
the car and metal cables from the top partly supported the vast expanse
of magnalium steel sheets. But, toward the outer ends, the wings
extended unsupported in apparent defiance of all mechanical
construction.

“It’s the corrugated structure and the stiffness of the metal alone,”
explained Major Honeywell.

The decreasing length of each plane, the first eighty feet, the second
sixty and the last forty feet, did not detract from the majesty of the
structure and only added to its birdlike appearance. Each plane, made of
three separate, telescoping fore and aft sections, measured twenty-one
feet in depth. The immense pressure gauges, almost concealed under the
curved front of the main plane, by which the rear sections were drawn in
by cables on a spring drum until the chord of each of the three
planes—or its depth from front to back—was reduced to seven feet, were
almost concealed by the artfulness of their construction. Yet the spring
drums and their extended cables were in sight, beautiful illustrations
of the unique method by which the ingenious boys were able to provide
pressure surface when they needed it and contract it when soaring speed
demanded only a maximum of front or cutting edge. The curious, golden
tinted “moon propellers,” like the thick, heavy wheels of a liner,
suggested nothing of the long, oar-bladed propellers commonly in use.
These, one on each side of the car, were located just beneath and
forward of the front edge of the long planes. Powerful, magnalium chain
drives connected these with the shaft in the car. Behind the chain
drives a light metal causeway extended twelve feet from the car to the
propeller bearing so that the latter might be reached while the car was
in transit, by an operator for adjustment and oiling.

“All right,” exclaimed Alan from the car gallery above. “Stand by to
come aboard.”

The visitors hastened from under the shadow of the planes and looked up.
The lead colored hull of a ship rose before them. A completely closed
car, pierced with ports and doors, twelve feet wide, thirteen feet high
and thirty feet long, extended between the first planes and disappeared
in a maze of metal truss work in the rear—a magnalium braced tail
seventy-three feet more in length, not counting the twenty foot rudder
at its stern.

“And you mean to tell me that heap of metal can actually fly?” exclaimed
the editor at last, unable longer to conceal his amazement.

“Like a gull and as fast,” answered a new voice and Buck Stewart, in
straw hat and natty summer clothes, joined the group.



                               CHAPTER X

                    BUCK STEWART RECEIVES NEW ORDERS


“Come aboard,” called out Ned, giving the young _Herald_ reporter a look
that also included him. The managing editor paused, seemed about to open
a conversation with Buck and then said nothing. The smile of the latter
was a combination of assurance and of gentlemanly modesty and breeding.
Added to this was the charm of a faint southern accent. Buck was not
exactly superficial but his peculiar and animated face never betrayed a
lack of knowledge.

“Up the ladder,” added Alan, and Major Honeywell led the way up a
step-ladder to a short flight of landing steps lowered from a side
gallery along the lower deck. Reaching this little metal gallery or
walk, the boys led the two visitors astern to the end of the enclosed
part of the airship and up a stairway that passed around the after part
of the car to the second deck and from that to the top, where a
protected walk or bridge extended the length of the airship car.

Bob, rushing ahead, caught up a metal jack staff from its cleats on the
bridge rail and unfurled a blue flag on which were the words “_Ocean
Flyer_.”

“I think we ought to carry another flag now with _New York Herald_ on
it. We can carry the colors aft where they belong and put the _Herald_
burgee on the port staff.”

The editor seemed pleased. Looking from one boy to the other as if to
get approval, he did not notice the look of sudden intelligence that
flashed over Buck’s face. Since two o’clock that morning Buck had been
trying to answer the question: “Why had the _Herald_ killed his story?”
He knew there was a reason. For the last fifteen minutes a new problem
had mystified him: “Why was his managing editor so interested in the new
aeroplane?” The cross examination he had undergone the night before gave
him many clues. The instant Bob Russell spoke of a _Herald_ burgee for
the _Ocean Flyer_, Buck’s mental short circuit was repaired: “They’re
goin’ to represent the _Herald_,” he concluded instantly—not stopping to
reason,—“and this car is goin’ to cross the Atlantic. Whatever these
kids _meant_ to do, the boss has now hooked up with ’em. The biggest
thing they can do is to fly to Europe. The boss stopped the story to
pull off the stunt in secret. I’ve got to go with ’em.”

The car on which the inspectors were standing resembled, in front, both
the bow and the stern of a yacht. Seven feet from the bottom, the
curving side lines ended in a cutwater edge. Above this, for six feet,
the front was rounded and pierced by heavy, glass protected ports. Four
feet from the bottom of the car, a shaft extended through the cut water
carrying a third or auxiliary propeller, moon shaped like the side
propellers, but seven feet instead of eleven in length. This reserve
propelling force was for use in case either of the other propellers
became disabled, in which event both side propellers would of course
have to be shut down.

The heavy glass ports marked the pilot room. Directly over this and
extending forward from the top of the car like the headlight of an
old-fashioned locomotive, was the air compression funnel. This dull
finished aluminum adjunct resembled a fog horn, and its functions were
explained by the young aviators with considerable pride.

“We’ll carry oxygen of course,” Ned said, “but we are so sure that our
compressor will furnish us with enough air, that we’re counting on it if
we attempt a high altitude. Whether we go above a thousand feet depends
on the weather conditions. On that level we can fly one hundred and
eighty miles an hour. And that’ll put us over in seventeen hours.”

Buck was listening with both ears. At these words he knit his brows as
he checked off figures on his fingers and then, with a pencil, did a
problem on an envelope.

The party had just made a close examination of the funnel compressor and
the two double acting acetylene and electric search lights. As its
members turned, Ned came up with Buck.

“Can I help you?” he asked mischievously, noting Buck’s calculation.

“Yes,” answered young Stewart. “Let me go with you.”

“Where?” asked Ned looking directly at Buck.

“Wherever you carry the _Herald_ flag and wherever one hundred and
eighty miles an hour takes you in seventeen hours which is 3060 miles
from here—London it might be.”

The major, the editor and Alan were advancing out on the tail runway to
examine the big equilibrium plane and the gigantic rudders. Instead of
answering Buck, Ned said:

“Do you usually use a pencil to find how much seventeen times one
hundred and eighty is?”

“You don’t reckon I’m a lightning calculator do you?” answered Buck. “I
use a pencil for anything above the ‘nines’ when I want to be sure.”

“Can you subtract sixty-eight degrees and forty-five minutes from
seventy degrees and fifteen minutes?” asked Ned without a smile.

“Forty-five minutes from fifteen minutes?” repeated Buck twisting his
pencil. “That don’t seem right. Oh yes, you borrow, of course. One
degree,” he went on, “that’s—” and he hesitated.

“You know how many minutes there are in a degree, don’t you?” prompted
Ned, smiling at last.

“Three hundred and sixty,” exclaimed Buck proudly.

Ned held up his hands in amazed despair. Buck didn’t seem the most
promising material for a competent observer. And yet there was something
about the _Herald_ reporter that made Ned anxious to take him along.

“I suppose there isn’t such a job as steward or galley boy on this
ship,” went on Buck with his engaging smile. But Ned could only answer
him with a shake of the head. Then, leading the way to the gallery of
the second deck all passed into the pilot room. In no way, except in
size did it differ from the wheel house of an ocean liner.

The compass box, with its compensating magnetic mechanism beneath and
its shaded lights above, stood just in front of the steering wheel,
beneath which, parallel with but not connected with it, was the larger
plane elevating and depressing wheel. Both the steering and plane wheels
operated indirectly, utilizing compressed air cylinders to move the big
rudder and wing surfaces. At the right of these wheels was the engine
control; a lever board containing the starting and stopping levers for
each engine and the gear clutch for each wheel. At the left, in compact
semicircular form, was the signal board, the automatic indicator which
gave at all times a record of the position of each plane, the set of the
rudder, the speed of the engines and, below this, the air craft
chronometer.

Hanging at the pilot’s left side and on a line with his face was a
speaking tube. But it was on the rear of the pilot that indicators and
gauges appeared in confusion. This was the observer’s station. On each
side of the room a small door opened onto the side galleries. Aft of the
door on the port side a metal ladder led through the floor into the
compartment beneath. On the starboard side, between the gallery door and
the aft partition, stood the observer’s desk. Here all readings were
recorded, the detailed log continuously set down and the observer
performed his duty as assistant to the pilot.

Many of the instruments were enclosed in an outside case open to the
weather and wind. Heavy glass doors gave the observer access to this
case but his observations were to be made, in the main, through the
glass. The aerometer, attached to the top of this outer case, registered
on the observer’s desk. The automatic barograph, the checking barometer
and a self-recording thermometer were housed in the exposed case. Within
the room the equilibrium statoscope, the compressed air gauge for all
compartments, interior thermometer, chart racks, hooks for pressure and
speed tables and indicators to show the consumption of fuel and
lubricating oil, covered the walls except in the center of the rear
bulkhead where a door gave access to the next compartment.

In this pilot room, the heart of the gigantic airship, Ned turned
lecturer. The place was small and hot but no one seemed to mind these
things.

“How about your compressed air funnel?” asked the major pointing to the
bank of aluminum tubes that passed along the roof of the cabin. “Has it
been tested?”

“That’s different,” answered Alan. “That proposition stands like the
answer to two plus two. We all concede this is four.”

“And you mean to say that you may send this thing seven or eight miles
up in the air where a bird couldn’t live and where it may be sixty
degrees below zero, on the theory that your funnel will gather in air
for you and make heat enough to keep you from freezing?” added the
editor.

“Just that,” laughed Ned, “although, of course we don’t have to stay up
there. If anything goes wrong we’ve got our oxygen and we’ll have
clothing, too, that Peary or Cook might have used.”

“But it _will_ work,” went on Alan with equal enthusiasm, “and the man
at that desk, with his air-pressure gauges for each room and his stop
cocks for each compartment, will keep us as comfortable as if we were at
sea level and he’ll keep our engines running without a break.”

“Stewart,” suddenly exclaimed the apparently embarrassed editor turning
to his reporter, “your story about this marvelous craft was killed last
night because the _Herald_ hoped to make an arrangement with these young
men, its designers and owners, to make a trip across the Atlantic to
London in the interest of the paper. This has been made. I think the
assignment will be the biggest newspaper beat ever achieved. What you
are now hearing is confidential.”

“Yes, sir,” responded Buck. “Can’t I go along?”

“I was just about to say,” went on the editor, “that, for a short time,
I was disposed to ask the privilege of having a representative on board
and that I meant to select you—”

“And you can’t find a place for me?” Buck interrupted with the fetching
little twist of the mouth that had caught Ned.

“The only place open was this desk,” explained Ned.

“I can do it,” exclaimed Buck.

“You mean you’d try,” said Ned.

“That’s it,” went on the editor. “I now see that I have no one who could
be useful here. I withdraw my request. At least, young man,” he added,
turning to Buck, “I have shown my appreciation of your work by
complimenting you with the suggestion.”

“What’d you have to do to these things?” persisted Buck, undefeated,
after he had blushingly acknowledged his superior’s compliment.

“Something more difficult than multiplying one hundred and eighty by
seventeen,” announced Ned with a laugh.

His good natured smile yet showing on his lips, though puckered in
chagrin, the disappointed Buck followed the party through the rear cabin
door into the next compartment, “Stateroom No. 1.” This little
apartment, six feet high, eight feet wide and the same in depth, had a
door and a window on each side and the metal frame work of a cot, six
feet in length, against the rear wall, the remaining two feet of space
being devoted to another door opening into a similar room. The
compartment walls were of metal and perfectly bare. Beneath the cot was
a metal tank six feet by three feet by three feet, in which fifty-four
cubic feet of fuel could be stored.

“There are three of these rooms,” explained Ned. “In each are electric
lights, compressed air cocks and exhaust pipes. We’ll put thin
mattresses and bed clothing in each.”

“Put in some skeleton tables for typewriters and some camp chairs,”
suggested the editor. “I don’t believe the men will have time for
sleeping.”

“And the last room, Number three,” went on Ned, “we’ll rig up as a dark
room for your photographer.”

Buck could restrain himself no longer. Stepping to his superior’s side
he asked appealingly:

“Are you going to send _Herald_ men on this trip?”

“They’re not going,” answered the editor a little irritably as if this
were getting too close to the real object of the trip. “They are coming
back.”

“Three or four of ’em,” persisted the reporter.

The editor nodded his head slightly as if out of patience.

“Let me go across then,” pleaded Buck. “If these men can come back I
certainly wouldn’t make much difference goin’. I _may_ come in handy,
somewhere. And I’ll stay, when I get there. Dump me out anywhere. I
won’t care. I know London like a book.”

“You know London like a book?” exclaimed Ned instantly.

But Buck was at last too agitated to respond. His lips were twisting in
an effort to show his usual composure.

“I say,” repeated Ned. “Do you actually know London and its
surroundings?”

“I’ve lived there,” answered Stewart, “and driven my grandfather’s motor
over every road I could find.”

“Why didn’t you say so?” almost shouted Ned. “You’re booked right now,
young man, and this’ll be your room east bound.”

“Me?”

“And we’ll carry you three thousand miles to use you fifteen minutes or
less. You’re our landing pilot and what you don’t know about London
you’d better find out in the next six days.”

Buck took off his straw hat, wiped the perspiration from his face,
hitched his trousers and then made his speech in two words. “Thank you,”
he said and for the first time he seemed absolutely confused. Ned and
Alan had hurried on and the elder men were crowding through the narrow
door into the stateroom when Buck held out his hand and stopped his
fellow reporter, Bob.

“Russell,” he whispered, “what’s the game? You’re on!”

Bob glanced toward the door and then, in a low voice, answered:

“We’re goin’ to pick up three staff men in London at two o’clock on
Coronation Day and, while they’re knockin’ out the big story, shoot ’em
over the Atlantic in twelve hours with the _Herald’s_ next day leads.
While they’re clickin’ these off, the picture man in the back room is
gettin’ ready all the parade stuff with snaps of George and Mary and
flash lights of the show in Westminster—”

Buck eyed him open-mouthed.

“Ain’t you in on this?” he asked breathlessly.

“I’m the engineer in overalls.”

Buck’s vacant stare suggested a vain attempt to think.

“Don’t worry,” laughed Bob, “you’ll be dumped in London.”

“And you and I don’t get a look in?” went on Buck, still absently.

“I’m used to it,” answered Bob. “My long suit is missin’ big stories.”

“And I’ve made a good start,” added Buck ruefully. “But,” and suddenly
the old twitch of his lips came back, “I’ll stick around as long as I
can.”

The two reporters met the inspection party at the rear of the enclosed
car where the extra gasoline and ether tanks under the companionway
leading to the tail truss were being examined. Then all descended to the
lower deck and entered the sixteen by eight foot engine room. Through
the center of this, in bearings, ran the big propeller shaft and next to
the rear wall stood the powerful, unique engines that were to make
success or failure of the perilous project. Fuel and lubricator gauges
and indicators, shaft revolution recorders, an electric generator, a
signal board duplicating the one in the pilot room above, racks of
electric hand lights, tools and oil cans, the compressed air pipes on
the ceiling, fixed, green-shaded lights over the two circular engines,
switch boards for the compartment, port and starboard signal lights and
the forward search lights, acetylene gas tanks and the heavy emergency
clutch levers seemed to fill the compartment.

Yet, Ned led the fascinated visitors through this seeming confusion and
for fifteen minutes attempted to make clear the mechanical complexity of
the hitherto unheard of ether gas turbine double engine. When he tried
to make clear how gasoline and sulphuric ether were to be combined to
make a new explosive fuel of infinitely greater power than gasoline
alone, and how this enabled them to economize in the amount of gasoline
carried, the editor surrendered.

“I’m glad to sign that contract,” he exclaimed with relieved expression,
“so long as I am the party of the first part that merely pays and you
are the party of the second part that works this thing.”

“And you’ll use it yourself,” was the boy’s confident answer, “before
another year passes.”

There was a look into the now vacant store room just forward of the
engine compartment and the perspiring party made its way down the
landing ladder. Ned spoke to his journalist guest.

“Mr. Stewart,” the editor immediately announced. “You are under Mr.
Napier’s orders until you receive other instructions.”



                               CHAPTER XI

                          SHAPING A NEW COURSE


The program planned for the next six days was a full one. It was
complicated somewhat by the fact that Ned left for Chicago a day later
and was gone from Saturday morning till Monday morning, making a stay in
the western city of five hours. That this was not a business trip was
indicated by the fact that he did not visit the local office of the
Universal Transportation Company. Mr. Napier and Mary Hope rode to the
depot with Ned when he boarded the Sunday afternoon Limited. His last
words to them were: “All right, I promise. We can’t possibly put this
thing off. But when we get back I bring Alan home and we’ll all take a
good long vacation and go somewhere—not in an airship.”

The _Herald_ editor examined the _Ocean Flyer_ Thursday, June 15. When
he left in the motor car that evening, he took Buck Stewart with him,
the arrangement being that the latter was to return the next morning and
from that time do all he could to help the busy young men. One specific
duty was to stand guard over the new airship as an additional precaution
against unexpected and undesired publicity.

Thursday evening, much to Buck’s regret, Ned and Alan made a late-hour
experimental flight, the company calculator having arrived. While the
Airship Boys, assisted by Roy Osborne, who was now formally booked as a
member of the crew, made speedy flights in all directions, even
venturing out to sea again for a short distance, the engineer was busy
in the “weather” tower of the plant. This important part of the works
was a fifty foot tower rising from a flat-roofed corner of the
setting-up room. Instruments in the tower automatically recorded wind
direction, duration and force. From the roof below, kite experiments
were also frequently in progress. From these, important meteorological
tables were made. Small captive balloons might also be seen anchored
from this roof at nearly all hours. On several occasions, the kites had
been sent up 19,000 feet by use of metal cables and power-driven drums.
The engineer’s work in the night tests was to elevate small balloons to
the level of the Flyer in flight and get exact data on the wind
pressure. From this and the anemometer variations recorded on the flying
aeroplane, it was possible to estimate the actual advance of the airship
under all aerometer readings.

Thursday night, Alan acted as engineer. Roy Osborne took the observer’s
post and Bob was in charge of the wireless. This was located in the
after part of the store room on the lower deck. The antennae of the
outfit followed the cables bracing the wing planes. But these, it was
decided, were to be altered and rigged on masts erected on the top deck
and tail truss.

The Airship Boys had been living in a private hotel. Before retiring
that night, future accommodations had also been provided for Buck. When
Ned awoke the next morning, a fuller significance of what had happened
in the previous twenty-four hours seemed to present itself to the boy.
He threw open the door of Alan’s adjoining room.

He began by announcing that he meant to go to Chicago the next day and
would be gone over Sunday. There was a time when Alan would have
answered this statement with some facetious inquiry about his sister
Mary. But that time had passed. “Got anything else on your mind?” was
his only reply.

“Several things,” responded Ned. “We haven’t told the _Herald_ yet about
the London supply of gasoline and ether.”

“It’s ‘petrol’ over there,” explained Alan. “Don’t you reckon they’ve
plenty of each?”

“Sure,” answered Ned a little contemptuously. “But we’re goin’ to be
there less than an hour. We ain’t goin’ to have time to go out shoppin’
for our fuel. And how are you goin’ to take over half a ton of ‘petrol’
on board? In quart cups? There must be a good supply of it and there
must be some sort of hose and pump.”

“That’ll have to be arranged for by cable.”

“And don’t forget this,” went on Ned. “You can’t count on finding
dehydrated sulphuric ether for sale like peanuts.”

“They don’t sell peanuts in London,” suggested Alan soberly.

“And they don’t generally sell this kind of ether,” answered Ned. “This
is one of the things on my mind. This ether must be specially made and
it should have been ordered by cable yesterday.”

“Righto,” answered Alan, who seemed in a specially good humor. “Why
don’t we take on some gasoline at St. Johns?” he added. “We can stop
there.”

“Because we won’t need it,” explained his chum. “And we ain’t goin’ to
load up with anything we don’t need. I’ll run into town and see the
_Herald_ about these supplies. When Stewart comes out you can tell him
he’s in charge of the larder. And I wish we could get that new sailing
chart at once. The lieutenant ought to go to the office and work on it
in the afternoon. He can come over here in the evening for the pressure
tests.”

Plans for certain alterations in the ether tanks having been talked over
while at breakfast, it was decided that Ned should go to New York on an
early train and have a personal conference with their journalist patron
while Alan and Bob went to the aeroplane factory and started the work on
the airship. While waiting for the editor to reach his office Ned did
some shopping in the clothing line, and at a sporting goods outfitter,
laid in special outdoor underwear, felt boots, wool jackets, fingered
mittens and heavy caps for five persons. He also made a note of what the
returning _Herald_ men would need, to be given to the editor to be
included in his many other cabled instructions.

“It’s a pity,” said the editor a little later when Ned met him, “that we
did not get together a few days earlier. We should have sent a man
across on the steamer with full instructions. However, we have five days
and our own cable. Don’t hesitate to tell me all you need.”

Ned carefully went over every preparatory detail, made memoranda of the
supplies needed, described the grade of gasoline and sort of ether
needed, and drew up suggestions how these articles were to be delivered
to the _Flyer_ in Hyde Park. There were also instructions to the men as
to typewriters, what facilities could be expected aboard, the kind of
clothing needed, the absolute necessity for promptness in reporting for
embarkation and a list of food supplies for the return trip. Then the
editor and Ned reviewed the plans for shipping the _Telegram_ matrices
in New York bay.

Close figuring showed that, while it was a fraction under ten miles from
the Aeroplane Company’s yards in Newark to the point off the old Battery
in East River, where the sea tug would be waiting, it would be advisable
to allow the newspaper operators at least twenty minutes for
transporting the forms to the Ship News wharf and to start the _Flyer_
on signal about ten minutes before the expiration of this period. This
meant that the double set of matrices would leave the _Herald_ office on
a fast motor at two o’clock; that the _Flyer_ would leave Newark about
two ten and, advancing under slow speed, pass over the waiting tug at
two twenty.

“If everything is ready and the packages are in position when we
approach,” suggested Ned, “show a white flag. If there is delay, show a
red flag. Then we will veer off and return when the white flag is
shown.”

“And the return?” asked the editor. “Getting away seems simple enough
and landing in Hyde Park, London, ought not be difficult, barring police
interference, which I hope to prevent through influence, but what can we
do to help you at this end on your return trip?”

“We’re going to try to deliver the copy and pictures right at your
door,” laughed Ned, “to-wit, on the roof of the _Herald_ building. It
isn’t going to be so difficult to pick up New York at night although we
may be flying pretty high. The coast lights will be our guides until we
are in sight of the glare of the city. Then we’re going to take a chance
and drop right down over it. We’ll keep to the north and avoid the sky
scrapers. Fortunately, the _Herald_ vicinity is pretty free of tall
buildings. All you can do is to show us our signal: a green diamond. Rig
up four search lights on the roof and let the lights point upward from
midnight till we get there. And keep the roof clear when you see our
lights. I’m hopin’ to drop your copy and picture bags between one and
two o’clock.”

The editor was aglow with enthusiasm.

“And the men?” he asked.

“Our signal will be showing at the Newark works and a motor will be
waiting there. Your men may be with you an hour later. And keep your
wireless man on duty. We may be calling at any time after we are within
two or three hours of the coast.”

After nearly two hours of close conference Ned and his patron adjourned
for luncheon, at which another phase of the coming experiment was
discussed:

“Do you think the perils of the voyage will upset our men?” asked the
editor.

“They might,” answered Ned, “if the machine was the fragile aeroplane
commonly in use. But I’ll see that the men have no excuse for getting
panic stricken. Before we start, I’ll put them in their staterooms and
lock the doors. They’ll hardly know when we get away. They’ll know
nothing as to our height or speed. All they’ll have to do is to pound on
their stories, eat when they’re hungry, and sleep when they get tired.”

“Are you going to lock young Stewart in a room?” inquired the _Herald_
manager.

“Not him,” chuckled Ned. “He ain’t that kind. He’s been promoted already
to the position of chef. Don’t worry about that boy. I wouldn’t be
surprised if he turned out an able ‘birdman’ before we get away.”

As Ned was to leave the next morning for Chicago, not to return until
Monday morning (the _Flyer_ was to sail Wednesday, June 21, at 2:10 P.
M.,) he took a taxicab to the New York-Chicago office after leaving the
editor. It was his intention to have a look at his mail, a talk with
Major Honeywell, and then catch the three o’clock train for Newark to
see how Alan and Bob were progressing with the alterations. To his
surprise he found the engineer in his office. He had followed Alan’s
suggestion at once and reached New York some time before noon.

“I thought I’d make your new chart to-day,” he explained, “so that you
could see it before you leave for Chicago.” The lieutenant’s big flat
drafting table was covered with United States hydrographic Atlantic
Coast charts and English Admiralty maps of the Irish and English sea
lines and harbors. The officer himself was at another table busy with
logarithms, trigonometry and almanacs of latitude and longitude.

“Fine,” exclaimed Ned, to whom such details were always fascinating.
“What have you found?” In another instant he had thrown off his coat and
was perched on a corner of the lieutenant’s desk.

“I’ve found something that may surprise you,” answered the engineer
laying down his pencil. “The continuation of the other St. Johns,
Newfoundland and Fastnet Light, Ireland, course won’t do at all. A great
circle course from New York is going to take you miles north of St.
Johns. And it’ll pass far to the north’ard of Fastnet Light.”

“Is that so?” responded Ned, not a little amazed. “What’s the distance?”

“Something over 3,200 miles.”

“Good,” exclaimed Ned. “That’s fine. Much over?”

“Exactly three thousand two hundred and eighteen and one-tenth miles.
And that beats a steamer course about two hundred miles. It figures
eleven hundred and sixty miles from New York to where you leave the
American shore line and it’s two thousand and fifty-eight and one-tenth
miles from that point to the center of London, three thousand two
hundred and eighteen and one-tenth miles of traveling.”

“Better and better,” exclaimed Ned.

“And now I’ll really surprise you, I think,” went on the engineer,
resuming his pencil. “In all of that first eleven hundred and sixty
miles you’ll hardly be out of sight of land. You’ll have capes, islands,
buoys and lights as steering points nearly all the time.” Ned’s eyes
opened and the engineer arose and led him to a big, great-circle chart
of the Atlantic ocean. “I suppose,” continued the calculator, “that you
think, after leaving New York harbor, you’ll pass out to sea at once.”

“Of course,” exclaimed Ned. “Where else could we go?”

“You’ll go east on Long Island sound to S. Norwalk, Connecticut. Then,
you’ll start over the land, cross Connecticut a little south of
Hartford, pass over Massachusetts ten miles north of Boston and come to
water again off Ipswich, Massachusetts, near Cape Ann. From that point
you’ll begin to take a calculated course, shaped from Thatcher Island
lights, and steer over the Gulf of Maine N. 65-1/2° E. till you raise
Matinicus Island. There you’ll veer to E. N. E. 1/4 E. till you’re over
Grand Manan in the mouth of the Bay of Fundy. Sailing ahead E. by N.
you’ll pass up the north arm of Fundy to the town of Amherst in Nova
Scotia. A new course E. 1/2 N. will take you across Northumberland
Straits and Prince Edward Island to Cape Anguille in west Newfoundland,
and then to the east coast at Fogo Island.”

“What’s that?” asked the interested Ned.

“Only a name,” was the engineer’s answer. “But it ought to be better
known for it is the exact place where a direct line from New York City
to London cuts across the easternmost sea line of our part of the
world.”

“And then?” continued his rapt listener.

“Fogo Island is 50° 5´ west longitude and 49° 43´ north latitude. With
an initial true course from this point of E. 1/4 S. you’ll hit one of
the Arran Islands in Galway Harbor, west coast of Ireland. In these
short courses across the states, the Gulf of Maine, Nova Scotia and
Newfoundland, a true course is exact enough considering your land and
sea marks—you’ll pass over islands and light houses every few miles.
But, when you leave Fogo it is another story. By night I’ll have you a
plotted chart of your ocean leg showing the magnetic variations and the
alterations you must make in your true course.”

“Then it’s almost a land journey for the first thousand miles?”

“On which you can watch summer guests at Mt. Desert Island, shore yachts
along the Maine coast and, like as not, deers scampering over the pine
tree covered rocks of New Brunswick. You could almost do it without a
compass.”



                              CHAPTER XII

                     HOW THE FLIGHT WAS TO BE MADE


When Sunday came, Alan, Bob and Buck were glad enough to ease up on
their work. Supplies to be used on the flight were now accumulating in a
corner of the setting-up room. All the boys took luncheon with President
Atkinson this day. In the early afternoon the manager of the _Herald_
got Alan on the telephone and a long talk followed. At its close Alan
announced a surprising development.

“The editor,” Alan explained, “has a new proposition. I didn’t agree
with him because I want to talk it over with Ned. I’ll wire him at
Pittsburgh this evening and in the morning I’ll board his train and go
on into the city with him. If it comes to anything you fellows will be
interested.”

“And we’ve got to wait till to-morrow to know?” asked Bob.

“He wants to get up the story of the _Flyer_ and what it’s goin’ to do,
and spring it the night we get back.”

“_My_ story?” asked Buck. “The one that wasn’t printed?”

“The _real_ story,” added Alan nodding his head, “for I reckon you’d get
a different angle on it now.”

“You’re talkin’ now,” sighed Buck. “My, but I’d like to have another
chance at it.”

“The _Herald_ may give you all the chance you want,” went on Alan, “if
we agree to the plan.”

“Spit it out,” broke in Bob, his eyes dilated.

“Well, the idea is this. Neither the _Herald_ nor Ned and I want to do
any talkin’ if this thing ain’t a go. If we stick our nose in the Jersey
marshes or drop into the Sound we’ll let the other fellows guess at what
we were tryin’ to do. But as the _Herald_ suggests, if we reach London
and get back, there isn’t any reason why the story shouldn’t be told and
told right. The editor wants to get up a full account of the _Flyer_,
its motive power, pictures of it, the program of its proposed voyage,
the route and a sketch of its ‘brilliant’ crew, and have it all ready to
print the moment we return.”

“But what if we don’t quite do it?” broke in Buck.

“There won’t be any story to print,” laughed Alan.

“How are _we_ interested, specially?” asked Bob, pointing to young
Stewart and himself.

“You’ll have to write the story, that’s all,” answered Alan. “Who else
could?”

The young Kentuckian sprang to his feet.

“I told you I’d stick around,” he cried. “I told you something would
turn up.”

“Say,” added Bob skeptically, “don’t get excited. I’ve been on the point
of almost puttin’ over a story about those wise young fellows a good
many times. But don’t you count on ’em. Don’t forget they haven’t
consented yet. I’m not goin’ to believe there’s any job like that comin’
to me till it gets here.”

“The way things look now,” continued Alan, laughing, “I think I’m in
favor of the idea. If Ned is, it’ll probably go through.”

Neither of the reporters waited for formal orders. During the afternoon
they persuaded Alan to have the giant aeroplane hauled out into the
deserted factory yard, and Bob photographed it from every angle, getting
views in general and in detail. Alan was also pictured in a half-Arctic
costume. That evening, borrowing typewriters from Mr. Atkinson’s
business office, Bob and Buck began writing a story that they hoped
would be wanted.

“I know the machine, now,” suggested Buck. “I thought I did once before
but now I do. I’ll tell about it; how it was made and all about their
nightly experiments. You tell about the trip, how it’s to be made and
how the thing is to be navigated. And don’t forget to get in an account
of the Airship Boys.”

Not being under the pressure of a press hour, neither reporter finished
his work that night. In the morning their duties in the setting-up shed
called them to the plant. But at noon, when Alan told them over the
telephone that the new plan had been approved and that they were to
report at the _Herald_ office at once, they were off on the first train,
their pockets stuffed with manuscript and camera films. Ned and Alan
left for Newark on the three o’clock train with the engineer’s completed
sailing charts and at eight Buck and Bob had completed almost nine
columns of the big story.

This work was not done in the big local and telegraph room of the paper
but in an adjoining editorial office. It was in charge of Mr. Latimer,
the night city editor of the _Herald_, who for four days, representing
both the _Herald_ and _Telegram_, had been preparing for the great
event. He told Buck and Bob of the special edition which contained
features of all kinds that might interest Englishmen or represent the
good wishes of Americans from Canada to the West Indies.

The engineer’s final report on the direct or “as a bird flies” route
between New York and London was complete in all details. To Alan, a
mathematician and calculator himself, it appealed as a fine picture
interests an art connoisseur. Although the company expert gave the
initial direction from the Battery (magnetic course N. 67° E, and the
compass point as E. N. E.), and the names of the larger towns in
Connecticut and Massachusetts over or near which a direct line to
Ipswich, Massachusetts, would take the aerial navigators, he left this
portion of the line of travel to be worked out for land marks and other
details by the boys themselves.

For the use of the pilot he had furnished full directions covering the
trip between Ipswich and Fogo Island, off the east coast of
Newfoundland, and for the ocean voyage proper, a North Atlantic Pilot
Chart plotted on rhumb lines, and a table of true and magnetic courses
with latitude and longitude indicated. The directions and table were
carefully printed that they might hang in front of the pilot. The chart
was mounted so that the observer could check off the advances.

As soon as Newark was reached the two boys provided themselves with
large scale maps of Connecticut, Massachusetts, Newfoundland, Nova
Scotia, Ireland and England. Late that evening when the elated
journalists reached the hotel, Ned and Alan were yet busy with rule and
dividers locating land points, towns, railroads, rivers, hills and
lakes. The data on the water voyage and the big northward bend of the
charted ocean route instantly mystified Buck.

“Do you mean to tell me,” began the astounded Bob, “that when we start
for London we’re goin’ to begin by crossing over Connecticut?”

“Forty miles up the sound,” explained Ned.

“Why don’t we go right at it and hit the water?” added Buck. “What’s the
use of losing time to make that big curve? Want to keep over the land as
long as you can?”

“Say,” laughed Alan, “you fellows didn’t happen to try to tell anything
about our course in your story, did you?”

“Certainly,” answered Buck, “I said we’d sail east as the crow flies.”

“Well,” responded Alan, “we’ll never sail exactly east. Do you know what
a great circle course is?”

The good natured Buck blushed and shook his head.

“It’s an imaginary line that shows the shortest distance between two
parts of the world and it’s curved because the maps we generally use
represent the curve of the globe and a straight line on these wouldn’t
show the shortest distance,” volunteered Bob promptly and proudly. “But
I didn’t know it ran over Connecticut.”

“Correct,” exclaimed Alan.

“But what’s all these figures?” went on Buck.

“They’re to keep us on our course. You’ll find the same charts in the
navigating room of every liner. With these and our compass we hope to
cross the Atlantic without attempting an astronomical observation for
our bearings.”

“But out here on the Atlantic you’ve got a path laid down in ink. And
between Ipswich and where you leave Newfoundland you haven’t any path!”
continued the inquisitive Buck.

“For this reason,” explained Ned. Then, pausing, he continued, “Bob, you
ought to understand this. You were with us in Bering Straits and
Beaufort Sea. You tell him why.”

“Pie,” grunted Bob. “Maybe you think I don’t know. On short legs,” and
he winked, proud of his nautical record, “where there isn’t much
variation in the compass—”

“You know,” volunteered Alan, “that you can’t pick out a compass
direction and stick to it for a long voyage. You’ve got to allow for the
lessening tendency in the compass needle to point directly toward the
magnetic pole.”

“I’d have got to that in a second,” protested Bob. “Well, where the
distances are not great and you have land marks or lighthouses or buoys
to bring you up if you go wrong, sailors generally set a course by
compass and allow nothing for the variation of the needle. They may shy
off a few miles but a headland or a known lighthouse will bring ’em
right again. But, on the high seas, it’s a different story. When they
begin a voyage a course is laid to an imaginary point—say three hundred
miles out. You can pretty nearly tell when you’ve covered this on a
steamer by the speed of the engines. On a sailing vessel it’s often
necessary to find the point with an observation for longitude and
latitude. When that point is reached, the course is altered and a new
point taken. The direction of this is marked down by compass. That’s
called the ‘true course.’ Then, knowing your latitude and longitude,
you’ve got to calculate what the magnetic variation will be in that
place and from that you get what’s called a ‘magnetic course.’ That’s
the one you sail. And you do this over and over till you get there.”

Poor Buck shook his head, not much better off than before. Ned picked up
the engineer’s table of courses for the ocean flight.

“Look here,” he began, pointing to the chart. “Let me try. See Fogo
Island up here—where we leave Newfoundland?” Buck wrinkled his forehead
and looked. “Well, the bearing of that is known—it’s 54° and 5´ west
longitude and 49° 43´ north latitude. Our course from that looks like a
curve but the curve is really made up of short straight lines. We make
our first straight line end at a convenient place on our curve. The
first one stops at 50° west longitude and 54° 40´ north latitude. For a
navigator it is now a question in mathematics to find the true direction
between these two bearings. In this instance you’d reach the end of the
first straight line by sailing N. 67° E., from Fogo Island. That is, you
would if it were not for the variation in the compass due to the
magnetic pole. In this latitude and longitude the variation would be
33-1/2° W. Then it’s a question of more mathematics and your true course
of N. 67° E., becomes a magnetic course of S. 79-1/2° E., or, by
compass, E. by S.”

“I ain’t goin’ to be called on to do that figurin’, am I?” asked the
alarmed Buck.

“It’s all done,” laughed Ned, “thanks to our engineer.”

“Well, or try to understand it?” persisted Buck. “For I might as well
let you in on a secret: I don’t understand a bit of it. If you can start
goin’ N. 67° E., and then go the same way by runnin’ S. 79° E., you’ve
got my goat.”

“Oh, you’re not so much wiser,” exclaimed Alan when Ned and Bob laughed
at Buck’s perplexity and frankness. “Neither of you could make one of
these calculations.”

“Right,” retorted Ned, “but you watch me use ’em.”

Bob had been studying the Ipswich-Fogo courses and data.

“I think I could almost do this part of the trip myself. It’s pretty
plain sailin’.”

Ned took up this section of instructions and produced a map of the Gulf
of Maine and the Nova Scotia peninsula. A straight line had been drawn
on it from Ipswich harbor to Fogo Island.

“We can start from Ipswich almost any old way, so long as it’s seaward,”
he began with another laugh. “But, when we pick up the two lighthouses
on Thatcher’s Island off Cape Ann they ought to lie ten miles abeam to
the south.”

“What’s abeam?” asked Buck innocently.

“Anything at right angles with the deck,” explained Bob learnedly. “That
means when a vessel is nearest to an object it’s passing. In other
words, when you don’t see it forward—I mean for’ard—or astern.”

“At that point,” continued Ned, “we simply bring our vessel on a plain
compass course of E. N. E., and buckle down to it. If it were night,
when a little later we passed a red and white flash light eight miles
abeam to the north—”

“Nor’ard,” corrected Bob.

“To the nor’ard,” repeated Ned, “we’d know exactly where we were—fifteen
miles from Thatcher’s Island and off the Isle of Shoals. And so it goes
across the Bay. Ninety miles farther, or a half hour’s flight, ought to
put Montigan Light twelve miles abeam north of us, if we are on our
course. Then it’s 105 miles to Matinicus with its two fixed white
lights.”

“Oh, I see,” commented Buck with a chuckle. “You’ve got a mile post
every hundred miles or so.”

“Every half hour or so,” replied Ned significantly.

“And a height from which we can see fifty or sixty miles in a pinch,”
added Alan.

“That _may_ make a difference,” acknowledged the reporter.

“Then, something comes every few miles,” went on Ned, “points abeam,
north or south, but always in sight; thirty-two miles to Mt. Desert
rock, Great Duck alongside; seventeen miles to Petite Manan, sixteen
miles to Moosabec, nine miles to Libby, seven miles to Machias Seal
Islands, nine miles to Cutter’s Harbor and then twenty miles to the east
end of Grand Manan, a big island. At Matinicus we change our course from
E. N. E. to E. N. E. 1/4 E., and when we pass the fog horn on Long Eddy
Point at the east end of Grand Manan, we change again to E. by N.”

“When do we get there?” asked Buck soberly.

“That’s about five hundred and fifty miles from New York,” replied Ned
in the same tone. “Allowing a safe margin, if we leave New York on
schedule, at two twenty P. M., we ought to lay Eddy Point abeam before
six o’clock or better.”

“What’s the good o’ all the lighthouses in the daytime?” commented the
reporter.

“A lighthouse usually stands up in the air,” Bob put in, “and in many
cases, they’re white. Besides, and you may as well keep this in mind,
we’ll be returning that way the next evening sometime about nine o’clock
when the lights are working.”

“Very good,” responded Buck. “I understand that at least.”

“Got enough?” asked Ned, yawning and looking at his watch, which marked
after midnight.

“Go on,” exclaimed Buck with alacrity. “Acquiring information is my long
suit. When do we get to Nova Scotia, the ‘Land of the Blue Noses’?”

“From that on,” answered Ned, “we’ll follow its shore, for we’ll be over
the north branch of the Bay of Fundy where the tides come from—the ‘fog
factory.’ On our north, we’ll pass the city of St. Johns, New Brunswick,
forty-five miles farther east, and then for seventy-five miles the rocks
and trees of New Brunswick will be almost beneath us. At the town of
Amherst, where the Bay of Fundy ends, the _Flyer_ will have fifteen
miles of Nova Scotia to cross.”

“We ought to have supplies there,” broke in Alan.

“No stop scheduled,” commented Ned tartly. “On the east side of the
peninsula of Nova Scotia we’ll strike Northumberland Straits at Cold
Spring Harbor. At Amherst we alter our course again to E. 1/2 N.
Northumberland Straits are twenty-five miles wide. Then it’s Prince
Edward Island, which we cross. That puts us over the Gulf of St.
Lawrence with a one hundred and sixty-five mile glide to Cape Anguille
on the west side of Newfoundland. There’s a light on Anguille Point. A
last run of two hundred and forty miles across Newfoundland brings us to
Fogo and the real start. Then it’s ‘ho for Galway Bay’ in Ireland and
London Town.”

“It says we change our course to E. 1/4 S. at Anguille,” added Alan, who
was following the directions.

“That ought to make it easy,” remarked Buck with one of his grins. “Do
we stop at Fogo?”

“Not so you could notice it,” said Ned with a snap. “Good night.”



                              CHAPTER XIII

                     ROY OSBORNE’S “PICK-UP CRANE”


Just before one o’clock on the afternoon of June 21 ten persons sat down
to luncheon in the private dining room of the American Aeroplane
factory. President J. W. Atkinson, of the company, and Mrs. Atkinson;
Chief Engineer Osborne and Mrs. Osborne; Night City Editor Latimer, of
the _New York Herald_, and the five members of the crew of the giant
aeroplane—the _Ocean Flyer_. These were, Ned Napier, captain and pilot;
Alan Hope, first officer and pilot; Roy Osborne, observer and
calculator; Robert Russell, engineer, and Buckingham Stewart, “assistant
engineer” and “English pilot.”

Not a member of this crew had been in bed less than ten hours the night
before. And, as an athletic trainer would have expressed it, there had
been only “light work” that morning. One after another, the Airship Boys
and their associates had met at the setting-up room of the big plant
where, from time to time, many of the older employes of the works had
also gone for a last inspection of the aerial craft that was soon to
start on its astounding voyage seaward in an attempt to cross the
Atlantic—to make good its projector’s prophecy of “New York to London in
Twelve Hours.”

“But, remember,” explained Captain Napier more than once to those who
persisted in crowding around him, “I’m frank to confess we’re going to
take advantage of a technicality in our attempt to do this. And the
twelve hour trip, if we can make it, will be from London to New York—not
eastward. At the speed we have planned to make, we couldn’t do it; we’d
have to be in the air seventeen hours. Going over, we’ve got to add five
hours and a fraction to this because of the time we lose; that’ll make
us twenty-two hours going. We ought to reach London between twelve and
one o’clock to-morrow. But coming back,” and Ned’s face showed a grin,
“look out! We’ll gain five hours in clock time. We’re goin’ to start
back at one thirty P. M. We’ll be in the air seventeen hours again but
we’ll get here in twelve hours by the watch—at one thirty the next
morning.”

So far the big aeroplane had not made a single daylight flight. Every
test had been made under cover of darkness. And in spite of the long
voyage now about to begin and all the activity that this had
necessitated, the secret of the _Ocean Flyer_ had not passed beyond its
makers and their friends. With fuel, chemical and lubricator tanks full,
every tool and appliance in place, provisions and clothing aboard, the
final inspection of the car took place just before noon when Mrs.
Atkinson and Mrs. Osborne went aboard.

Roy Osborne, the young professional who was to act as observer and
assistant to the pilot, hardly needs a description. About the age of Ned
and Alan, he was already an experienced aviator. More than once he had
represented the Aeroplane Company on daring and dangerous airship
expeditions. When not so employed he was the factory expert testing new
machines. He also had a national reputation, and considering his
mother’s aversion to having him undertake the present trip, the boys
were doubly fortunate in signing him as a member of the crew. Mrs.
Osborne had only consented after her husband, Chief Engineer Osborne,
had decided that there wasn’t a mechanical defect in the new aeroplane
and that, in his judgment, it had better than an even chance to make a
successful flight.

In spite of some forced joviality the luncheon was not very lively.

“Don’t eat too much, boys,” suggested Buck Stewart. “The pantry is well
stocked. I’m going to serve tea about five o’clock, dinner at seven and
supper at midnight, wind and weather permitting.”

“You mean Captain Napier permitting,” suggested Bob. “We’ll probably eat
and sleep when he gives the word.”

“In less than an hour, Roy,” spoke up Ned, evading comment on the
statement, “we’ll find out all about your ‘pick up crane.’ If it don’t
work,” he went on with a smile, “and our freight is dumped into the sea,
we’ll come about, hang you through the engine room trap and make you
pick it up with your hands.”

“Give me the wheel,” answered Roy with spirit, “and I’ll pick it up. But
my crane won’t reach out and grab your bundle unless you put the machine
where it ought to go.”

These references were to the devices installed on the _Herald’s_ sea tug
and on the airship for picking up the matrices while in flight. A
somewhat enlarged copy of Roy’s land crane had been selected. The tug,
of twenty-foot beam, was equipped with two twenty-foot masts stepped
abaft the engine house. These provided a space of fifteen feet in the
clear between their tops. Some experience in tackling a foot ball dummy
had given Roy the idea for the equipment of these spars. On the top of
each, to which it was elevated by a block and tackle, was a spring hook
that released instantly under sharp pressure. Between these hooks
extended a looped rope or cable, to the center of which was attached the
article to be taken aboard by the flying car.

On the aeroplane, well to the front, a hinged metal arm dropped about
ten feet below the car bottom. It was in the shape of a long, acute
letter V with one side against the bottom of the airship and the other
pointing forward on a wide angle at its mouth. The acute end of the arm
ended at the trap door in the bottom of the engine room. Rushing toward
the freight to be loaded, suspended between the masts and held by the
spring hooks, the metal V crane would be lowered in place. As its arm
passed under either the freight itself or the cable holding it, the
metal crane would guide the package or cable swiftly along the angle
until the narrowing slot of the apex caught and held the object. At the
impact, the spring hooks released the suspension cable and the motion of
the aeroplane held the freed article until it could be secured through
the trap door. At the apex of the crane the arms were jointed and held
in place by a bolt. By loosening this, the lower arm could be folded
parallel with the upper one and thus made fast against the car bottom
until needed again.

“I’d think you’d have a net, like those on street cars,” suggested Buck.

“When you can tell us how to use a net without danger of knocking your
freight farther from you, we’ll be glad to try it,” answered Roy.

“You can’t pick up a passenger with it, can you?” went on Buck, who was
desperately trying to make conversation.

“No,” answered Roy, “and I don’t know any way to take on and land
passengers when trains are going sixty miles an hour.”

When some one commented on the absence of Major Honeywell from the
luncheon it was soon explained that he would be on the _Herald_ tug,
preferring to get the latest possible view of the departing _Flyer_. At
half past one o’clock Mr. Atkinson’s telephone called Ned. It was the
_Herald_ editor who only wished to give the voyageurs good luck, to ask
if everything was ready and to announce that the program of the
_Telegram_ would be carried out on the minute.

“You have the _Herald_ code book,” were his parting words. “Try to send
me advices from Ipswich and Nova Scotia if you can. In London, the
_Herald_ representatives will look after your arrival. Don’t bother
about anything but getting safely across and back. You have the best
wishes of the _Herald_. Good-bye and good luck.”

Ned and those about him did not know that the great editor, as he hung
up his receiver, sighed and for a moment leaned his head in his hand.
The journalist realized that he was sending five young men on a mission
in which there were overpowering odds of death unnoted in time and
unmarked in place. Then he thought of the time when, as a young
reporter, he rode six days with the thermometer forty below zero to
interview Sitting Bull, and he was an editor again.

Since it had also been decided that the _Telegram_ as printed in London
was to contain matter describing the _Ocean Flyer_ and a brief “advance”
story of its plan of flight, it was accepted as inevitable that these
details would return to all American newspapers in time for publication
the same morning that the _Herald_ printed its own elaborate account. It
was planned, therefore, that the _Herald_ was to arrange to publish a
much fuller and better story by using, in addition to the story in hand,
the log of the _Flyer_ for the description of the actual flight, and to
augment this by adding the particulars of the start in Newark as well as
a graphic account of what took place while the aeroplane was in London.

This accounted in part for Mr. Latimer’s presence at the luncheon. He
had assigned himself the duty of preparing the story of the start. He
had also another mission. While making his first inspection of the
aircraft that morning he had arranged with Bob Russell for a lively
account of both flights to be ready on the return and to be delivered
with the great coronation story.

“I ain’t puttin’ anybody’s nose out of joint, am I?” asked Bob at once
when first approached on this subject.

“Whose nose?” asked Mr. Latimer wonderingly.

“Stewart’s, of course,” answered Bob. “He’s the _Herald_ man, you know.”

“But I thought Stewart wasn’t coming back!” said the night city editor.

“I know he isn’t,” answered Bob with a wink. “But what if he does?”

“In that event,” replied Mr. Latimer, smiling, “he won’t need any
instructions. We can count on him for twice what we can use. And we’ll
run it as ‘The Only Passenger’s Story.’”

By two o’clock, each of the crew—except Ned—had gone through the final
formality of farewell and mounted into the car. The big aeroplane,
silent and strong, stood on the starting-ways facing the east, as if
anxious for the touch that was to start its planes into vibrant life.
Just within the open window of Mr. Atkinson’s office Mr. Latimer sat at
the telephone, watch in hand. Just without, his shirt sleeves rolled to
the elbows but with a heavy gray sweater on his arm, stood Ned. And, as
in all crucial moments, the editor and Ned were speaking of the thing
least related to their real thoughts. As if wholly unconcerned with the
things about them they talked of trout fishing in Wisconsin.

When the telephone rang and the newspaper man responded he turned to Ned
again with no excitement in his voice.

“The last form has gone to the stereotyping room,” he remarked almost
casually.

“One fifty-six,” replied the boy outside.

“Correct,” answered Latimer. “They’ll be on time.”

Three minutes later the instrument called him again.

“It’s off,” he announced in a low voice. “We won’t hear from them
again.”

At that instant the wireless operator rushed from the adjoining room and
the coatless and hatless Bob—already in overalls—sprang onto the _Flyer_
lower gallery.

“They’ve started,” yelled both, almost together.

Ned smiled and held out his hand to the night city editor.

“Until we meet again,” he said.

“Remember me to the king,” was the journalist’s only reply as he shook
hands and Ned walked slowly toward the mounting steps. Part way to the
car he paused, turned and hurriedly retraced his steps. Mr. Atkinson,
watch in hand, was approaching from a group of several hundred
employees. Ned lifted his cap to the assembled onlookers and then caught
the president by the sleeve.

“I don’t know that we’ll need it,” he said with a laugh, “but I just
remembered we haven’t any money. Have you a thousand dollars in the
office?”

The two entered the office. At six minutes after two o’clock Alan
appeared on the upper gallery, watch in hand and an expression of
concern in his face. About the same moment Mr. Atkinson and Ned
reappeared, the latter carrying a package of bills.

“Don’t leave without me,” called out Ned, waving his arm to show the
money. “I almost forgot; we may have to pay some fines in the big town
if we’re arrested.”

“It’s eight minutes after two,” was Alan’s anxious reply.

“Don’t worry,” called back Ned as he advanced, “feeling” the direction
of the breeze with his raised hand. “I’d rather be a little late than
too early.” Then, at the foot of the ladder, he turned to Mr. Latimer
again. “As I was saying,” he continued, addressing the night city
editor, “when we get back, if you’ll take about ten days off, I’ll show
you the best fishin’ spot in Wisconsin.”

If those congregated near the airship had the impression that Captain
Napier would start with some ceremony or formality they were
disappointed. Although Alan, Bob, Roy Osborne and Buck were now on the
gallery above, each in some stage of excitement or concern, Ned made his
way up the ladder as calmly as if preparing for one of the nightly
tests.

His first words aboard were, “Buck, you seem to have less to do than any
one else. We’d better make you purser as well as steward. Here’s a
thousand dollars,” and he shoved the bills into the reporter’s hands.
“Take care of it till we need it. And now a last word to everybody: the
rolling and plunging of a vessel on the water is steadiness itself
compared with some of the sudden motions the _Flyer_ may make; do not
pass from one part of the ship to another except when necessary and do
not fail, on the galleries or top deck, to keep a hand on the rail. It’s
a few minutes after two o’clock. All hands stand by their stations for
the signal and we’ll be off.”

Just as Alan and Roy sprang up the store room ladder to reach the pilot
house and Bob and Buck were entering the engine room, an employee rushed
from Mr. Atkinson’s office.

“The _Herald_ wants Mr. Latimer,” he shouted.

The latter glanced at Ned inquiringly and the boy nodded his head.

“Go ahead,” exclaimed Ned. “It’s probably an O. K. message for us. We’ll
wait.”

Within two minutes—Ned’s associates having once more appeared on the
upper and lower galleries with no attempt to conceal their
impatience—the night city editor hurried toward the car again.

“From the office,” he said in a low tone to the boys above him, for as
yet none of the spectators were advised of the mission of the aeroplane.
“They’ve just received word that the English government authorities have
prohibited airship flights over London during the coronation exercises.”

“London—the big London—or just the city?” inquired Captain Ned.

“Over London: that’s the message. The office wants to know if you’ll
wait till it talks with the managing editor down at the marine office.”

“I’m afraid it’s too late,” answered Ned.

“Two twelve,” exclaimed Alan, whose watch had not been out of his hand
since two o’clock.

“It’s too late,” repeated Ned. “Tell your folks everything stands as it
was. We’ll put it over. Are you all ready, Mr. Engineer?” went on Ned.
Bob’s eyes snapped.

“All ready, sir.”

“Start your engines.”

As if an electric button had been pressed, first one and then the other
big turbine began moving. With neither jar nor noise the circular
engines spun faster and faster until the ceaseless, muffled explosions
fell into a soft, continuous purr of power. For a few seconds Ned stood
at the engine door. Then, with a slight wave of the hand to those
standing almost breathless on the ground below, Captain Napier walked
forward until he was beneath the open door of the pilot room above.

“Are you ready, Mr. Hope?”

“Two, twelve, twenty-eight,” came from the pilot house.

“You may start at once.”

Slowly and gently, like the Alpine pebble that starts the avalanche, the
eleven foot “moon propellers” began moving. Taking time to draw on his
sweater, Ned hurried aft on the gallery to the companionway leading to
the upper gallery and thence to the top deck. As he appeared on this the
propellers had already attained a speed that drove the near-by
spectators to flight. Then, suddenly, the streams of compressed air
began to sing in the terrifying moan of a coming cyclone. As Ned made
his way forward on the narrow elevated deck the storm broke; the cyclone
burst.

Under the most powerful propellers ever made, the _Ocean Flyer_
surrendered. It ran forward twenty yards as if trying to escape the
terrific power grasping it, tossed its head sideways two or three times
and then, the ingenuity of man annihilating gravity, the heavy airship
left the ground. As if falling from a great height, it plunged forward
at increased speed. The seventeen hour flight had begun.



                              CHAPTER XIV

           CAPTAIN NAPIER’S NERVE IN MID-AIR SAVES THE CARGO


When Captain Ned, leaning backward over the lower gallery rail, gave the
order to start, his eye caught sight of the _Herald_ burgee flying from
the jack staff above. By deduction he guessed that the _Flyer’s_ own
flag was also displayed. In fact, both had been raised by Bob at the
last moment. With a frown Ned had hurried to the top deck. To fly over
New York Bay with these emblems prominently displayed in the breeze was
a plain advertisement to any observer of the identity of the aeroplane
and its connection with the paper. While the airship began to rise to a
steadier flight Ned dropped each flag and, without waiting to furl or
make them fast, sprang down the ladder again.

“We started two minutes and twenty-eight seconds late,” exclaimed Roy as
Ned at last entered the pilot room. “To reach the tug we ought to do a
mile in forty-four seconds.”

“Take it easy,” answered Ned. “If they are ready on time, a minute or
two won’t make any difference. They can wait. How is she?” he went on in
a more concerned voice, turning to Alan who was taking the first trick
at the wheel.

“All right,” was the only response from the associate pilot, who did not
even turn his head, and whose strained expression showed that his mind
was on but one thing—the waiting tug and its valuable freight. This
first stage of the overseas flight was too short and too low to call for
either observation or compass reckoning and Roy, the observer, was
standing at the open port door.

“I think you’ve got your eight hundred feet,” was his sudden,
experienced comment.

Alan merely nodded his head, with a quick glance below, and then brought
the airship slightly off the southeast breeze. There was a small dip to
port, enough to make Ned and Roy “give” in their legs like old sailors
on a pitching deck and the starboard door flew fully open. As the craft
righted on a level keel again Ned explained:

“Take the lookout below, Osborne, and if we miss, pass the word to Alan
at once by tube. I’ll attend to the crane.”

“If you don’t mind,” responded Roy, “I’d like to take charge of the
pick-up, this time at least. Then, if it fails, it won’t be because the
operator don’t understand it.”

“Get busy then,” responded Ned, granting the request with a wave of his
hand. “When you’re ready let Stewart pass the word.”

As Roy slid down the ladder into the store room to open the engine room
trap door and drop the metal crane into place, Ned stepped onto the port
gallery at the bow of the car, from which station he had an unobstructed
view below. Their objective point was in sight. Just before them rose
the jagged sky line of New York’s skyscrapers. Where these ended on the
south, the spidery arch of the big bridge sprang seaward to drop in the
less distinct Brooklyn. In spite of the hot, sunny day, a haze seemed
partly to obscure the bridge, their landmark, yet it was toward the
center of this, dimly to be seen, that the _Flyer_ was now headed.

To Ned, Alan and Roy, the sensations that come with a flight at a high
altitude were not new. But, to Buck and Bob—although the latter had made
a few flights,—the experience was a thing to hasten their heartbeats. By
this time the airship was gliding ahead on a level keel, its metal
humming in the breeze. As Roy got the crane in place, working through
the open trap door of the engine room, Buck got a direct view of the
earth beneath. It was only salt marshes and winding waterways that he
saw but they were enough to show him that he was traveling far faster
than any limited train had ever carried him.

“We’re a mile high and the ground’s flyin’ backward!” he gasped to Bob,
who sat with his eyes fixed on the signal board, fuel and lubricator
gauges.

“Get out on the gallery,” ordered Roy, “and give me more room—it’s
crowded here. But stand by to bear a hand when I call you.”

As Buck edged to the cabin door and passed into the gallery, Roy dropped
his crane and then threw himself on the floor to get an unobstructed
view of the region below. Buck, clinging to the frame of the door, had
another full view of the world spreading out beneath. Far in the west
the Orange mountains rose in green and gray walls, over the tops of
which heavy shadows told of unseen clouds and possible rain.

Cities and towns to the north and south, like pawns upon a giant
chessboard, were known only by their clouds of smoke, the glimmer of
metal roofs and squatty spires. There was no life and the silver
estuaries of the sea, winding snakelike in the green of the salt marshes
below, confused the eye. To the east the ribbon of the Hudson glistened
in the sun while the great city beyond lost its dull browns and reds in
the haze of smoke lying low in the almost breezeless June day.

As the _Flyer_ increased its speed, Buck pulled his cap lower. From
where he stood on the engine room gallery, the port planes or wings,
stretched horizontally over his head far from the body of the car.
Swaying slightly beneath the pressure of flight, they sounded a
constantly changing note of vibration. Beneath the forward plane the
giant propeller caught and fixed his eye. He could no longer make out
its blades but the heavy chain drive ran smoothly back and forth with
all the fascination of an endless waterfall. Spell-bound, Buck held to
the door frame and gazed until a sudden new lunge almost tore his grasp
loose.

The sea was almost beneath. New York had risen in the air as if fresh
new scenery had been pushed upon the stage. The big ocean steamers in
dock at Hoboken and Jersey City lengthened from black lines to port
pierced and big funnelled leviathans of the sea. Just to the north,
round shaped ferry boats, drifting with the tide, were churning their
way back and forth across the river. Then the great sky craft dropped
once more. All the world seemed rising as if to meet the speeding
aeroplane. Buck grasped the door and with the other hand caught the
gallery rail.

“Stand by,” came a sharp command from within the cabin. Although holding
to the ship with both hands in his new alarm, Buck had sense enough to
realize this meant him. Scarcely knowing how he did it, the young
reporter got into the engine room.

“Aye, aye,” he responded rather feebly. Just then the _Flyer_ tilted
still further forward. It had reached New York harbor and its vigilant
pilot was now preparing to pick up the waiting cargo. Buck saw the
gently heaving tidewater as he took his post. Had either Roy or Bob
looked at him they would have seen a sort of pallor creeping into his
face. Bracing himself against the downward dip of the car Buck awaited
further orders—his teeth set and his lips compressed as he fought his
first attack of “sky sickness.”

“All right,” came suddenly through the speaking tube—the prearranged
signal to Roy—and before Bob could repeat it he saw the speed indicator
begin to drop. The _Flyer_ was gliding toward the water and Roy’s head
sank lower through the open space. On the upper forward gallery, Ned
stood with a pair of binoculars in his hands. He had moved back opposite
the open pilot room door. Ned made neither suggestion nor comment to his
chum at the wheel. But, with a busy glass, he swept the opening of East
River now dead ahead.

“See her?” called Ned when he first made out the “Fanny B.”

“In mid-river?” answered Alan.

“With a small black boat lying alongside,” continued Ned.

“Make out her two black-banded stacks?” asked Alan.

“And the signal too,” announced Ned. “She has a white flag at her
stern.”

Alan made no reply, as these marks were not yet distinguishable by the
naked eye. Yet he headed toward the craft in the middle of the river.

“I got her,” he exclaimed at last, giving the signal of caution through
the tube at this time and beginning to decrease his speed. “She’s
headin’ with us. Make out any one aboard?”

“Quite a bunch,” reported Ned without lowering his glasses. “Most of ’em
on the roof of the engine house. There are two persons well aft standing
by the hawser run in the stern.”

“Better come in and catch the time we pass the Battery,” suggested Alan
and from that time he gave no more heed to his companion. Ned saw that
the powerful ocean tug had already advanced some distance up the river.
This made no difference in their plans so far as the catching of the
cargo was concerned. But it did in another way, for their calculations
for time and their latitude and longitude made the Battery their real
starting point. In a moment he was at Alan’s side with the chronometer
before him and his eyes looking through the port door.

Captain Ned knew that the tug was rising and falling just ahead and
stern on. He had seen the black-hulled _Herald_ despatch boat veer off
as if for a better view of what was to come. He thought he made out the
figures of Major Honeywell and the managing editor standing apart in the
stern. Then, like the painted panorama he had once seen of “Departure
from New York harbor,” the old, round, familiar Battery in its little
setting of green flashed into view.

“Two, twenty-one, seventeen,” exclaimed Ned and once more he disappeared
through the starboard door. All was now so plain that Ned almost shrank
back. As if shooting at a target, Alan held the airship directly on the
rapidly expanding mark. One less familiar with the young aviator’s skill
could have seen nothing but disaster ahead. In a constantly lowering
curve the _Ocean Flyer_ seemed doomed to an inevitable collision.

There was a frightened scurrying on the tug. Those on the engine room
roof were scrambling to the deck. The two men in the stern were waving
their arms. But the cool-headed pilot had no eyes for these. Between two
slender spars hung the rubber encased package of matrices that
twenty-one minutes and seventeen seconds before, had come hot and
steaming from the stereotyping room of the _Evening Telegram_. It was
Alan’s business to pick up these paper forms and in seventeen hours
carry them to the heart of London on the other side of the world.

The skill with which he laid his nerveless hand to this task meant the
possibility of success or immediate disaster. To fail in his course by
inches meant the wreck of all their cherished hopes and possibly the
death of five persons. To Ned, on the gallery without, peering downward
and crouching forward as rigid as bronze, the strain was no less. And
yet, he remained silent. What one could do, two might not. Nothing of
his own skill was missing in Alan. He rested his own fate, that of his
companions and that of the great machine, in the hands of Alan and
waited.

At the precise moment when the still rapidly moving airship seemed about
to drop into the spray of the choppy waves—when, in fact, the lowered
arm of Roy’s crane had already touched the water—there was a sudden
movement for which only Ned and Roy were prepared. As Bob stumbled
against the signal box and Buck’s weakened legs gave way beneath him,
the propellers shot into high speed and the chug of the compressed air
valves told that the big planes had been altered violently. There was
only the hint of a check in the downward sweep of the aeroplane and as a
din of cheers sounded ahead the birdlike _Flyer_ sprang forward on a new
course.

Alan, driving the ship, could not see at the moment of contact the
object he was to pick up. Nor was Ned able to keep his eye on the
waiting package. Roy alone of those on the aeroplane was in a position
first to detect success or failure. From the instant the hurtling
machine jumped on its upward course the tug and its masts disappeared
from Alan’s sight. But all this was carefully calculated. It was easier
to clear the tug’s masts with a lifting tail-piece than it was to avoid
them on a downward swoop. But, more important, the checking of the swift
flight for a moment put the aeroplane over the tug masts at a lessened
speed.

There was no time to examine the persons on the tug. Like a moving
picture, Alan and Ned caught a glimpse of the major and the newspaper
man. The latter seemed to be calling, for his hands were at his mouth.
But no words reached the aviators. A cloud of steam burst upward like
the discharge from a gun and Alan’s last view of the boat beneath made
out the face of the tug pilot as the man thrust his head from the small
pilot house with one hand inside yet grasping the wheel. Ned saw these
things but as he clung stoutly to the rail his eyes also swept the river
ahead. For a second his thoughts left the question, “Would they pick up
their valuable freight?” Before he could even realize a new fear that
suddenly possessed him, there was a shock and the _Flyer_ threw its bow
downward.

But the momentum of the machine and its altered planes acted as rudders.
The dart seaward died almost instantly and the airship rose again on its
upward course. With the shock had come a strain and then Roy saw the tug
beneath him dip by the bow while the two masts bent forward under a
heavy strain. The “pick up crane” had done its work but the spring hook
on the starboard mast held until the strain of the pulling airship tore
it loose. While it held, the powerful car veered to the right and then,
as the hawser between the masts tore itself free, there was a new crash,
a new shock and the _Flyer_ cleared the bobbing tug beneath.

[Illustration: PICKING UP THE MATRICES.]

“The engine room!” rang out in the pilot room and Ned, balancing himself
securely, sprang into that apartment. “The engine room!” cried Alan a
second time. As he moved his head toward the hanging speaking tube, Ned
understood and slid down the ladder into the store room. In the engine
room he found Roy and Bob bending over the trap door opening. Near them,
steadying himself against the wall of the compartment, was Buck—his face
ashen and the picture of despair. Buck pointed feebly to the opening,
almost blockaded by Roy and Bob.

“Jammed,” panted Roy, his face red with exertion, when he realized that
Ned had arrived.

“She came back in the crane so hard,” explained Bob, breathing quickly,
“that we can’t get the bundle loose.”

Ned threw himself on the floor and got a look below. The compact bundle
of matrices, enclosed in waterproof oil cloth, had been caught by the
crane and, as planned, had been shot up into the narrow V of the crane.
But it had traveled with such speed that the metal arms of the V had
sprung and were now closed on the bundle with a grip that the two boys
could not loosen. While attempting to do so Roy had also been forced to
maintain a hold on the cord holding the V point of the crane up against
the car opening. To loosen this meant that the crane would drop many
feet below the bottom of the airship and that the valuable package might
be dislodged and lost.

Without comment or inquiry Ned plunged into the store room and almost
instantly reappeared with the light but strong rope landing ladder. The
end loops of this he snapped into two rings on the engine room floor and
while the passengers on the now fast receding tug on the river beneath
could yet make out the details of the rapidly ascending airship, they
saw what seemed to be a rope drop suddenly through the bottom of the
aeroplane. Then they saw a figure crawling down the rope. It was Ned on
the swaying rope ladder. When this nervy young man crawled through the
door and risked his life on a few slender strands, it was to make fast a
line on the wedged bundle. He could only work with one hand but he had
done the same thing on a dirigible balloon and there was no nervousness
to delay him.

“All fast,” he shouted after a few moments and Bob and Buck hauled away
on the line. And they were just in time. Roy was nearly exhausted. As
the new line took the strain off him and Roy straightened up to rest,
the deep impress of the crane cord on his hand showed the weight he had
been sustaining. But Ned’s work was not done. Still hanging to the
fragile, swaying ladder, he tugged at the caught package until at last
it began to move toward him.

“Stand by up there,” Ned yelled again. “All take a turn on the
rope—she’s comin’.”

With another violent jerk the package came loose, slid forward on the
crane and struck Ned’s legs. The hanging ladder flew forward while Ned
caught himself with hands and legs and the bundle dropped free, swinging
wildly back and forth. Twice, the human, swaying target was struck by
the plunging package while Ned hooked his legs and arms desperately
around the ladder, and then those in the engine room managed to draw the
whirling parcel up to the trap door. Quick hands grasped and dragged it
into the car.

The precious packet safe, Roy turned to assist Ned in mounting the
ladder and re-entering the cabin. One glance and a frightened cry came
from him. There was no one on the rope ladder. Ned had disappeared.



                               CHAPTER XV

                      IN WHICH NED’S LIFE IS SAVED


While Roy’s wild cry of alarm yet filled the engine room, other words
broke on the ears of the dazed boys.

“What’s the matter with Ned!” came in a shriek through the pilot room
tube.

Bob was already at Roy’s side, crowding the trap opening in gasping
alarm. Nearly 2,000 feet below them the haze of Brooklyn thickened into
a cloud. Sweeping backward in the rush of flight the empty rope ladder
told of their companion’s fate. The “sky sick” Buck seemed desperate.
Weak and trembling as he was, the tragedy that seemed to paralyze Roy
and Bob galvanized him into action. Forgetting the illness that was on
him, he pushed Roy and Bob aside and forced his head through the door.

“All right, old man; you’re all right!” heard the boys in the car.
“We’ll get you in a second; you’re safe; keep your head. He’s all
right,” shouted Buck drawing his head into the car. “He’s in the crane;
he’s all right; it’s safe; it’ll hold him: Get a line,” he went on,
breathless but cool and determined now. “Get a line—quick!”

“Hurry up here,” came a second agonizing cry from Alan in the pilot
house, “some one! What’s the matter? Quick.”

“He’s all right,” yelled Bob in answer. “He’s on the crane. We’ll have
him in a minute.”

“Send Roy here,” came back instantly. “Quick!”

His pallid face yet stamped with fear, Roy understood. He was the only
one to take Alan’s place. Without even a look below he rushed into the
store room and up the ladder. Almost before he grasped the pilot wheel
Alan had dropped to the deck below. But he was not quicker than Bob and
Buck. The latter’s feet were already through the trapdoor and on the
ladder rungs. From its hook on the port gallery just outside the engine
room door, Bob had caught up one of the buoy life lines. It was fragile
looking but tested to 750 pounds. Bob did not yet fully understand the
situation but he had acted instantly on Buck’s orders.

“The line!” came again from the young Kentuckian, one of whose hands
could now alone be seen. As Buck’s fingers grasped the rope Alan tumbled
into the room.

“He’s on the crane,” panted Bob.

“Come back, let me down there,” shouted Alan dropping over the trap.

“Pay out that line,” was Buck’s only answer. “Gimme me more of it.”

“Don’t try that,” yelled Alan anew as he tried to grasp Buck’s swaying
body, “I’ll do it. Come up!”

If the tense Buck heard these injunctions he gave no sign of obeying.
The tenderfoot who, five minutes before, had been writhing in the
miseries of “sky sickness,” was now clinging to the swinging ladder with
his feet and his left arm. With death defying recklessness he did not
even grasp the rung of the ladder with his hand. His left arm thrust
between two rungs, he was using his left hand and his free right hand to
draw the life line through the trap and coil it in a loop. Then,
catching the circles of the line in his right hand, he grasped a ladder
rung with his left and balanced his body to cast the coiled rope.

“Stop! Stop!” called Alan again. “Wait till we get a rope around you.”

But Buck seemed deaf to appeal or command. He had thoughts only for the
figure beyond him swinging helplessly back and forth, caught on the
long, pendulumlike crane. With each movement of the airship the twenty
foot metal arm swung forward and backward as if to shake Ned from his
hazardous hold. And with each swing of the fragile crane, the spidery
ladder and Buck moved back and forth like a shadow. Cold with fear, Alan
and Bob were helpless. To follow Buck on the ladder was impossible.

“Make a landing,” cried Bob hoarsely. All had happened so quickly that
no one had even thought of this. “Hold on,” he yelled through the door,
“we’re goin’ down.”

Alan was already at the tube.

“Put her down,” he screamed, “or they’ll both be killed. Quick! Put her
down—in the water!”

He sprang to the pilot house ladder and then stumbled back and threw
himself on the floor at the door. The panic that had seized him and Bob
was lessening. His muscles still numb with sickening fear, his mind had
begun to work.

“Another line,” he panted to Bob, “the starboard buoy, Stewart,” he
added quickly, “don’t throw till we make you fast. Wait!”

But the reporter gave him no heed. Buck, who had not yet cast his life
line, hung poised like a cat.

“Keep your nerve, Ned,” called out Alan hoarsely, “we’re goin’ down.
We’ll get you in a minute. Hold on!”

The boy hanging between life and death, made no response. Alan, his head
through the trap, saw that Ned had no thought but for Buck and the
coiled rope. He seemed not to hear the words meant for him. Then Alan
saw for the first time that his chum’s lips were set. His face was
distorted as if by pain.

“Hurry!” shouted Alan again as Bob threw an end of the starboard buoy
line from the gallery. Even Roy in the pilot room above, despite the
vibration of the planes and the noise of the engines, heard the cry. It
was needless so far as he was concerned. From its height of nearly two
thousand feet the _Flyer_ was already on the first downward sweep of a
huge spiral.

Grasping the new line Alan prepared to lower it to Buck. He had quickly
doubled it for added strength and was looping it to drop over the nervy
reporter’s head and arms when the _Flyer’s_ first dip was felt. With the
first sensation of it Alan was at the tube.

“Stop! stop!” he yelled, “or they’ll both be lost.”

When the bow of the car dropped, both the crane and the ladder swung
forward violently. The metal to which Ned was clinging in apparent
desperate pain, dropped far below his would be rescuer and both Ned and
Buck grasped their fragile supports anew.

“Don’t!” shouted Buck. “Don’t! Keep her up. I’ll get him. Don’t do
that.”

For the first time Ned spoke. Far forward and low beneath the car, he
looked up and caught Alan’s eye. First, he shook his head while he
seemed almost to groan with pain.

“Even keel—” he began and then stopped. Alan saw him, gripping his steel
supports, vainly attempt to raise his body. One of his legs was free.
The other was between the narrowing arms of the V. It was caught as if
in a vise. While this had saved the victim from instant death, every
dart or movement of the flying car wedged Ned’s leg tighter. With Buck’s
words in his ears, and the sight of Ned’s predicament before him Alan
sprang to the tube once more.

“Stop her and hold her!” he called, his voice husky with a return of
sickening apprehension. “Level and steady!”

Bob now had the looped line which he extended in vain for Buck’s use.
The reporter on the ladder neither looked above nor gave attention to
the rope that might safeguard his position. The swaying crane and ladder
had lessened their sweeping flights and Buck had gripped his coil anew.

“Here she comes!” he shouted suddenly. “Look out!”

With the words he cast the loops of the line toward the still moving
crane and Ned. The latter’s left arm shot toward the circling line but
the rope fell short. At the same instant Roy in the pilot room shifted
his planes; the car came on a level keel and the crane and the ladder
again swept forward in a nauseating sweep. Alan was desperate.
Speechless and ashy white he pushed his feet through the trap as if to
join Buck on the dizzily bobbing ladder rungs.

“You’re crazy,” shouted Bob. With all his strength, Bob caught the
distracted Alan by the shoulders and hurled him to the floor of the
engine room. “You can’t do that,” he panted. “You’ll kill Buck and
yourself too. Buck’ll get him. Buck,” he called anew, putting his face
to the opening again, “put this line under your arms before you try
again.”

As before, there was no answer from Buck. The gritty reporter had taken
his old position—his left arm between the ladder rungs—and was again
coiling his line. Alan had drawn himself to the opening and lay beside
it as if dazed. The giant car was now horizontal—shooting ahead with
meteorlike speed—but without a jar and almost without vibration. Where
they were, not one of the boys knew or cared. Even Roy above, with his
gaze riveted on the compass, had only thought and ears for what might be
happening below. To leave his post meant certain death for all.

“Here she comes again, Ned!” sounded once more from beneath the car.

“He’s got it; he’s got it,” cried Bob almost hysterically as he clasped
dazed Alan by the shoulder. “Brace up, old man—brace up. You’ve got to
help now. He’s all right—brace up.”

Just as Buck had forgotten his illness in the sudden crisis, Alan now
rose to the emergency. Sick at heart as he was, he again threw off his
nervousness and almost forced Bob from the aperture. One look at Ned
made him doubly ashamed of the condition that fear had wrought in him.
The steel-nerved Ned, though racked with pain—with nothing but a slender
steel bar between him and certain death—had already taken a turn of
Buck’s line around the steel uprights between which he was caught. At
that moment he was passing the free end of the light cable about his own
body beneath his arms.

The three pairs of eyes that watched every movement needed no signal to
tell them when the suffering boy had done all he could. One glance by
Ned said plainly enough: “Do what you can to save me.” Then his rescuers
saw him grip the steel anew and close his eyes.

The first strain of his efforts at an end, Buck now seemed almost
incapable of further effort. He held his end of the line above his head
but it did not quite reach the outstretched arms of Alan.

“A little more,” urged Alan, “careful now; a little more!”

As if the panic of fear had at last reached him, Buck looked up in
silent appeal.

“Shut your eyes. One foot at a time,” went on Alan. “You’re all right.”

Slowly, as if his body weighed hundreds of pounds, Buck’s foot arose to
the next rung. Hampered by the precious line, which he must not lose, he
drew himself up a step. Again and again he repeated the effort—the
perspiration standing on his forehead—until, at last, his trembling
fingers got the rope to Alan’s low reaching hand.

“Hadn’t I better stay here and guide the arm?” almost groaned Buck.

Both boys above saw the impossibility of this. Stewart had done his
work. They knew he could do no more.

“Come on,” urged Bob hoarsely. “You’re doin’ fine. Easy now. We need you
up here!”

Twice more and the weak Buck was within reach of the boys in the cabin.
Together they caught his shoulders and almost lifted him into the cabin.

“Right,” gasped Buck, “we’re all needed—here. I—” and the exhausted
reporter rolled over on the floor. The trap-opening clear of Buck’s form
Alan looked below once more. Ned, his eyes yet closed, was waiting for
the effort that meant life or death to him.

“You’re all right, old man,” called Alan reassuringly. “Keep your nerve
and you’ll be with us in a second. Hold tight. All ready.”

“Can we do it?” whispered Bob as the two boys braced themselves for the
strain that was to draw the crane back in place.

“We’ve got to do it,” was Alan’s reply. “And the line mustn’t give an
inch. I’ll draw in and you take a turn each time around that deck post—”
pointing to a metal upright about three feet astern of the opening. “All
ready!”

With one foot against the inside edge of the trap door aperture and the
other beneath him, Alan and Bob, the latter with a single turn of the
line about the deck post, and his feet against it, both lay back on the
first heave of the cable that meant so much to all of them. While Alan
held the first hitch steadily for Bob to take up slack, a form crowded
close behind him.

“I’ve got it,” said a low, weak voice in Alan’s ear. “Get a new hold.
I’ve got it,” and Buck Stewart came once more to the rescue.

With Buck’s help the line came in slowly, hand over hand, until,
suddenly, the opening was darkened by Ned’s body. Another heave to bring
the silent form close to the trap and Alan, panting with exertion and
his arms trembling, whispered:

“Make fast, Bob! Hold her, Buck.”

When he felt that the line was secure he released his hold and without a
word to Ned, who seemed only partly conscious, Alan slipped a double
thickness of the other line about his chum’s body. Almost with the same
motion, he caught the short cable on the end of the crane used to hold
it in place. There was a heavy belaying cleat just outside the opening,
attached to the bottom of the car and on this, with a few swift turns,
he made fast the crane cable. All this time Alan had been gripping Ned’s
coat as well as he could with his disengaged hand. Then he realized that
the prisoner in the V had spoken no word.

“Both of you on the line,” the fear stricken Alan shouted as, with both
hands now free, he threw his arms about Ned’s body. Almost lying on the
lower arm of the pick-up contrivance and tightly grasping the upper arm,
as Alan attempted to lift him, Ned gave no sound save a groan. His leg
yet held in the viselike narrowing arms. Driven to desperation Alan
thrust his own legs through the trap opening and, catching the rope
ladder with his feet, wriggled his body past the inert form of the boy
just below. Releasing his hold on Ned only long enough to get an arm
between two ladder rungs, he anchored himself on the slender support and
with both arms again caught helpless Ned about the waist.

“Keep the line tight,” he cried. “Don’t let it give.”

Buck and Bob knew well enough what this would mean. They saw at once
that Alan was about to pull Ned’s body backward from the clutches of the
steel arms. If he freed the boy and Ned should drop only a few inches,
the fall might tear the line from their grasp. If not that, the shock
might easily hurl Alan from the ladder. The boys in the cabin drew on
the line until the victim at its other end groaned again.

“Now!” muttered the rescuer on the ladder. One pull and Ned shrieked
with pain. But the anguish that this carried to those above and below
him did not lessen the grip of Buck and Bob or deter Alan.

“Again!” came from Alan as he threw himself backward, Ned’s waist in his
arms. The body of the suffering boy slid forward on the steel arm, only
an inch or so, but so quickly that Alan had to cling to it to keep from
falling. The leg released at last, Ned’s body turned sideways. The
almost unconscious boy grabbed mechanically at the steel arm below him
but Buck and Bob, with all the muscle in them, acted as quickly. The
middle of Ned’s body rose upward as Alan released it and caught in turn
the steel arm himself. With one pull the almost helpless Ned was drawn
to the door and while he hung there, Alan sprang up the ladder. But,
before he could give further assistance, the strong grip of the boys in
the cabin had drawn their commander to safety. The same hands also
caught Alan as his head reached the opening, and the fight was over.

On the floor, with his eyes closed, lay Ned. While Bob slammed fast the
trap door, Alan sprang to the tube, breathing hard and supporting
himself with the deck upright.

“It’s all right, Roy; we’ve got him. The course is straight up the
sound. Head away.”

Then he rushed to his chum’s side. Buck and Bob were already loosening
Ned’s clothing. Alan caught his hand and began chafing it.

“You’re all right, old man,” he exclaimed, rubbing the prostrate boy’s
hand.

Ned opened his eyes, groaned and then closed them again.

“You’re safe—in the cabin,” announced Bob.

“Thank you,” answered Ned weakly. “My leg?” and he moved his arm toward
his right leg.

Bob ran his hands over the injured member and lifted it, despite Ned’s
groans.

“It isn’t broken,” he announced. “It’s only bruised.”

“Then,” said Ned suddenly as he fully opened his eyes, “every one to his
station. I’ll be all right in a few minutes. Keep the ship on her
course.”



                              CHAPTER XVI

                         AN UNEXPECTED TRIBUTE


Alan gave little heed to these words. If Ned had sustained a severe
injury the flight of the _Ocean Flyer_ would come to an end at once.
When the boys had removed his clothing, the first sight of the rescued
boy’s leg was alarming. Midway between the knee and the thigh of the
right leg there was almost a complete band of red bruised flesh, the
indentation so deep and vivid that it resembled a cut. But the skin was
not broken and there was no blood.

“It’ll be sore,” explained Bob; “good and sore. But there’s nothing to
be scared about.” This he explained to the exhausted Ned. “And, with a
wash of alcohol, a little massaging and rest,” he concluded, “he’ll be
all right in a few hours except for a limp.”

While the boys washed and applied a light bandage to the bruised leg Ned
told what had happened.

“Your ‘pick-up crane’ is a frost,” he attempted to call above to Roy in
the pilot room as his spirits returned. “At least, it’ll have to be
improved. It catches all right but it holds too good.”

“Too good?” laughed Alan who was already bringing circulation in Ned’s
stiffened leg with gentle rubbing. “I reckon it wasn’t ‘too good’ for
you. If it hadn’t held as it did you might have been ornamenting some
Brooklyn church spire by this time.”

“Any way,” persisted Ned, “unless it is changed so that it releases its
prey easier, we’ll have to add a platform below to carry an extractor. A
rope ladder is a little risky for that work. I’ve had enough.”

“The crane fell and hit you, I suppose?” suggested Alan.

“It did,” answered Ned, “although it was all done so quickly that I
didn’t get the full details,” and he laughed feebly. “When you fellows
grabbed the package I let go and braced myself on the ladder to get my
back under the bundle. While I was doin’ this something gave my legs a
wallop. The crane had got loose and it fell. I was only payin’ attention
to the ladder and the crane made a sneak on me. Anyway, the next thing I
knew, to keep from fallin’, I had grabbed the crane and, talk about your
trapezes! I made a swing with it that was a wonder.”

“That’s when I saw you,” exclaimed Alan. “I was just gettin’ the machine
on her course up the Sound when that crane swung out in front of the
car. I ain’t over it yet. You weren’t graceful and your hair was flyin’
but you were stickin’ all right.”

“When I went out the first time,” went on Ned, now recalling the details
of his horrifying flight through the air, “I was holdin’ on to the arm
of the crane. But it was smooth and I couldn’t stick. I had to slide
down. When I got to the bottom my leg was inside.”

“It’s all that saved you,” repeated Alan.

“It’s the closest call I ever had,” went on Ned. “I hope I didn’t delay
things—much. What time is it?” he asked suddenly as he lifted himself
into a sitting posture. Alan looked at his watch and then called to Roy,
through the tube, for chronometer time.

“Two, thirty-three, thirty-five,” came the instant response.

“We passed the Battery at two, twenty-one, seventeen,” said Ned,
calculating. “We’ve been on our way twelve minutes and eight seconds.
Are we on the course, Alan?”

“What’s the course, Roy?” called Alan again.

“Northeast by East one-half East,” came the sharp answer.

“Good,” exclaimed Ned. “And what are we doin’ in the way o’ speed?”

“To tell the truth,” laughed Alan, “we’ve been just a trifle busy down
here and Roy has been alone. I haven’t made an observation since we
left. But we’ll know in a few minutes. Norwalk is only forty miles out.”

Without immediate reply Ned began to get on his feet. He did so at last
and by leaning on Alan was able to stand. Suddenly he caught his chum’s
shoulders.

“Now,” he exclaimed, “I remember what was on my mind! I’ve been tryin’
to remember it ever since I made my swing for life. When Roy called for
help down here I was watchin’ Brooklyn bridge just ahead of us. Did you
go under it or over it?”

“Over it. Why?”

“I knew we were so close to it that I was afraid you couldn’t get up
quickly enough. And then, just when I figured out that you’d go under
it, those Sound steamers and tugs showed up.”

“I had to go over,” explained Alan, “but there wasn’t much to spare. It
took all our surface and a sharp lift. But we made it.”

Ned was now standing in the store room door with a hand on the pilot
ladder. Suddenly his face changed and livened up as if he had just taken
a plunge in his morning tub.

“Boys,” he exclaimed, “I reckon I’m a fine example of selfishness. Buck,
and you too Bob! I reckon you’re thinkin’ I’m goin’ to write you letters
to thank you for what you’ve done. I’ve pretty near made a failure of
our start and I’ve put you boys where you had to take big chances. I’ll
have to be pretty good the rest of the trip. I won’t say much to Bob
because he knows. But Buck, you’re all right. Gimme your paw!” As Ned
tried to walk to Buck’s side he limped and would have fallen had not
Stewart caught him.

“You know why I did what I did?” laughed Buck. “I didn’t know what I was
doin’. I was crazy, out o’ my head from ‘sky sickness.’ I never knew
where I was nor what I was doin’ till it was all over. And then I
flunked.”

“You got scared when you’d done the trick,” exclaimed Alan. “And if you
were crazy when you did your lariat act, I’d like to see you in action
when you have your senses.”

“Right,” exclaimed Bob, slapping Buck on the shoulders. “Old top, you’re
a brick. You’re It and you belong. That’s all I’ve got to say except
that we’ve all lost a lot o’ good time not knowin’ you sooner.”

“Were you sick?” broke in Ned. “Sick from the motion of the car?”

“I certainly was,” replied Buck. “Good and sick.”

“And how are you now?” went on Ned sympathetically.

“I guess it’s like hiccoughs. You must have scared it out of me. I’m
fine.”

“You’re all right, Buck,” exclaimed Ned, catching the reporter by the
shoulders anew. “Bob’s right. I hope you’ll stick to us. And you’ve got
a big credit with me. But now, why don’t you subordinates follow
instructions? Didn’t I order you all to your stations? Get busy. We’ll
talk this over when we’ve got time to spare.”

Bob laughed, saluted and hurried aft to the purring engine. Buck looked
about for a moment in an embarrassed way, having no specific duties, and
then, his eyes falling on the life buoy lines lying tangled on the
floor, he fell to getting them in order. Ned, stumbling to the ladder
with Alan’s assistance, was about to draw himself up when he paused.

“I’ve just thought of it,” he remarked with a smile. “Major Honeywell
and the _Herald_ must have thought us a jolly lot.”

“Why?”

“From what I can recall, there wasn’t an answering hail or a parting
salute from the _Flyer_ when she passed over the tug. Was there?”

“I guess you’re right. I didn’t see it after I got the crane on the
line. As a matter of fact,” continued Alan, “I haven’t had a look below
since we picked up the baggage. I don’t know how high we are nor what is
below us, land or water.”

“In that case,” said Ned, drawing himself slowly up the ladder, “after
we passed, it must have looked as if the _Flyer_ had no one aboard. We
should have dropped a message or waved a handkerchief or dipped our
colors. By the way,” he added, “the baggage is all right I suppose?
Where is it?”

“Buck,” called out Alan, “stow that package away safely. It’s a valuable
bundle.”

As Ned drew himself stiffly into the pilot room and Alan was about to
follow up the ladder Buck called to him.

“There’s two bundles. One of ’em is nearly loose.” Alan dropped back and
stepped into the engine room. For the first time he examined the
carefully wrapped parcel that had nearly cost Ned his life. Lashed to
the stout cords tied around the big bundle was a small, oblong
pasteboard box—now crushed and flat.

“Looks to me as if this is what caused the trouble,” commented Alan as
he cut the strings holding the small package and saw a deep mark across
the box’s top where the arm of the crane had undoubtedly cut into the
extra package. As the broken box fell apart, a bunch of crushed and torn
roses fell to the floor. The box bore the name of a well known New York
florist who caters to the steamship trade. Among the fragrant fragments
was a waterproof envelope in which Alan found a card. It bore his
sister’s name, “Miss Mary Hope.” And, written in a small hand above
this, the words: “To the crew of the _Ocean Flyer_ with my earnest
wishes for a safe voyage.”

In spite of the smile on Alan’s face there was a little thickness in his
voice when he tried to make a joke of the affair to Bob and Buck.

“I guess she really meant ’em for Ned and you,” said Bob, “but I’m goin’
to take her at her word. She’s been thinkin’ of this for a long time. It
kind o’ sets me back. But it’s like her. She’s a dandy, Alan.”

There was a sudden sound at the speaking tube.

“Hurry along, Alan. Roy’s got to get at his work. Tell Buck to rig up
something for me to sit on. Get a move on you!”

“In a minute,” replied Alan, chuckling. “We’ve just found a box of
flowers tied to the big package.”

“Flowers?”

“Yes. Roses for the crew of the _Flyer_.”

“From the _Herald_?”

“Got Mary’s card in ’em.”

There was no response but a scrambling on the metal floor of the pilot
room and a sight, through the open store room door, of a pair of legs on
the ladder made all the boys smile.

“Don’t come down,” shouted Alan. “I’ll bring ’em up. We’ve got too much
to do to be botherin’ with flowers.”

As Alan smiled, crowded the fragments of the blossoms back in the
crushed box and hurried away, Buck looked inquiringly at Bob.

“Sure,” said the latter with a wink. “You bet your life. Bad too.”

In the pilot room there was not much time for admiring flowers. With a
slight blush and a few words of appreciation both boys gave quick
attention to the car, its course and the work before them. The Sound
bridges and even the tallest of New York’s skyscrapers had long since
disappeared. Quick glances at the land and water beneath and at the
compass showed Ned and Alan that Roy knew his business: he was on his
course to the fraction of a degree and he was keeping close to the two
thousand foot level as directed.

Over the operator’s table hung Course Chart No. 1. On this the distance
between the Battery in New York harbor and Ipswich, Massachusetts, was
set down as 187 nautical or 215 land miles. And the first leg of this
course ended at South Norwalk on the Sound. The true course by compass
to Ipswich was N. 51° E. But, with a magnetic variation of 11 degrees
W., this made the magnetic course N. 62° E., or, by compass points, N.
E. by E. 1/2 E.

Roy repeated his direction, his estimated height and the time by
chronometer.

“Very good,” answered Ned. “Keep her so.”

Then he seated himself at the operator’s table and, for the first time,
made use of the tables prepared by their office calculator.

“It’s hardly worth while,” he explained to Alan, “since we’re in sight
of known landmarks, but I want to see how it comes out.”

He noted the automatic register of the anemometer for speed, averaged
this for speed per minute since they started, deducted the loss in
forward flight caused by the quartering southeast breeze as set down in
their calculated tables and then figured the actual flight. When he had
done this part of his work he frowned.

“Two miles a minute,” he exclaimed. “Pretty slow.”

“It is,” explained Roy, “but it isn’t a fair test. I was down to
three-quarters speed during our little unpleasantness and we lost time
pickin’ up the package and gettin’ up over the bridge. I’ll keep her
there till you pass over Norwalk so you can check her speed.”

“It’ll be beneath us in less than five miles,” announced Ned. “My
figures were made at two o’clock, thirty-eight minutes and forty-seven
seconds. We were seventeen and a half minutes out and had done
thirty-five miles. Beyond Norwalk we’ll have to hit her up. If we can’t
do three miles a minute we may as well call it off.”

“When’ll that bring us to Ipswich?” asked Roy. “Here’s Norwalk,” he
added quickly.

Before he joined Roy and Ned for a look at the brisk Connecticut town
with its factory stacks, long fishing wharfs and deep river harbor, Alan
made a calculation himself to answer Roy’s inquiry.

“We’ll cover the distance to Norwalk by two forty-one o’clock. From
there to Ipswich it’s one hundred and seventy-five miles. If the _Flyer_
has a three mile a minute gait in her, that’ll take us less than an
hour—fifty-eight minutes and twenty seconds. We’re due at Ipswich and
the ocean again at thirty-nine minutes and twenty seconds after three
o’clock. Call it three forty to be safe,” he added laughing.

“Got your land chart ready?” asked Ned.

“Everything is in place,” answered Roy.

“Alan,” exclaimed Ned, “take the wheel and finish your trick. Roy, you
had better begin your observations and log. Norwalk is just below us.
Take your station and give your orders.”

Each boy sprang to his work, Alan to the wheel and Roy to the desk. As
Alan saw the little city spread out beneath him, 2,000 feet below but
sharp and distinct in the now clear, sunshiny June mid-afternoon, he
reported:

“Town beneath; two, forty-one, seventeen o’clock and the course is
northeast by east one-half east.”

“Make it so,” responded Roy instantly. Then he entered the time on his
log and went through the form of checking the course. “Steady ahead and
keep a lookout for town of Derby, twenty miles. Landmarks, red water
tower north of town and small park with two cannon near center of town.”

“Aye, aye,” was Alan’s reply and the new watch was set.

“I’ll take a look over the ship,” said Ned. “Give her all she’ll take.
It’s full speed from now to the end.”

Stepping out into the gallery the young commander sighed. Able to walk
only with difficulty he stationed himself near the instrument case and
the aerometer. As the wind cups of this flew faster and faster he
watched them as if fascinated. He knew from the gale pushing against him
that their speed was increasing. Then he hobbled back into the pilot
room and stood by the speed register. It had increased to two and
one-third miles a minute. Never had any other man driven vehicle passed
through the air at that speed. But it was not enough. Slowly, the
indicator arm trembling, the needle reached a shade over two and
one-half miles and then paused.

“Is that your best?” asked Ned calmly and slowly.

“She’s got it all,” responded Alan, his eyes on the compass binnacle and
his hands gripping the rudder wheel.

“Very good,” answered Ned as if in deep thought, “hold her to it.”



                              CHAPTER XVII

                WHAT HAPPENED AT THREE FORTY-THREE P. M.


The pilot room of the _Flyer_ contained no loose furniture. The only
chair was that at the observer’s desk. When Buck appeared with a camp
chair for Ned—one of those stored below for use in the state rooms on
the return trip—Captain Napier laughed.

“I meant something that I can use at the wheel,” he explained. “I’ll be
takin’ my trick at the wheel at six o’clock. See if you can’t fix me up
a stool.”

Buck hurried away and Ned limped out into the gallery again. The
responsibilities of commandership had at last begun to worry him. The
_Flyer_ was not making the speed he had planned. Something had gone
wrong. And if the trial trips and calculations had not deceived him, it
was something to be remedied at once or the great experiment was a
failure before it was made. In its trials the monster airship had
attained a speed of three miles a minute. Crawling to the door of the
first stateroom Ned entered and seated himself on the cot. In his note
book he turned to the pages of figures he had made, erased, added to and
revised for a week.

From New York to Ipswich was 205 miles. From Ipswich to Fogo Island it
was 787 more. Nothing was plainer than the total of the sailing courses
from Fogo Island to Galway in Ireland, 1709.1 miles. Adding that and the
three hundred and forty-nine miles between the Arran Island lights in
Galway Bay and London there was a voyage of 3050.1 miles to be covered.
Checking these figures again Ned shook his head.

“We’ll even have to beat three miles a minute by a fraction,” he said to
himself, beginning a new calculation, “and we’re doing only two and
one-half a minute. At that rate it’ll take us twenty-one hours and
thirty minutes to sight Hyde Park. Add to that, five hours for corrected
time goin’ east and we’ll eat up over twenty-seven hours. Let’s see,” he
added, making an addition. “That means we’d land fifty-one minutes and a
fraction after four o’clock to-morrow afternoon—practically five
o’clock. A fine time for our paper to be issued. And that isn’t the
worst. If we started back in an hour it’d take us as long to reach New
York. Even subtracting the five hours in time we gain, we’d reach New
York sixteen hours and thirty minutes later. That means, leavin’ London
at six P. M., we’d get to New York at half past ten the next morning. We
can’t loaf along at that rate. We’ve _got_ to do one hundred and eighty
miles an hour—and better!”

He jammed his book into his pocket and started painfully toward the
pilot room. On the gallery he paused a moment to look over the
_Flyer_—hurling itself like a comet toward the distant sea—and at the
panorama beneath. So great was the nervous tension of all on board and
so insistent were the duties of each that hardly a moment had been given
to this picture. Ned saw it all but his mind was not on it. Even as he
looked, his alert ears were strained for the rhythmic beating of the
propellers and the low note of the vibration of the mammoth planes. But
his thoughts were, “Three miles a minute or better; three miles a minute
or better.”

Yet, he could not fail to notice the town-spotted earth, its web of
roads and railroads, moving specks that might be people walking or motor
cars—at the speed the great aeroplane was flying there was no comparison
of speed with objects below, and even express trains seemed standing
still. Colors played before his eyes; the emerald green of fields,
endless ribbons of chalky white roads. The great black bat moving over
towns and fields he knew to be the shadow of the airship. Far to the
north the mountains of New England lay on the horizon in bands of misty
color that faded from green to gray. Above them, distinct in the far
distance, soft, cottony clouds piled themselves heavenward.

Reaching the pilot room door Ned paused again. His eyes were now fixed
on the world of clouds above him. His abstracted look had disappeared.
His eyes swept the sky from west to east. Just above him, fleecy banks
of motionless clouds seemed suspended, great umbrellas to protect the
earth from the glistening sun. Their tumbling turrets turned to
translucent pearl by the sun, below they joined to make one canopy of
fleeting gray. Here and there, through rifts in this, Ned had seen that
which made him halt again. Then he hurried to Alan’s side.

The town of Derby had been passed and Roy had just cautioned the pilot
that Middleton lay twenty-five miles ahead with Hartford ten miles abeam
to the north.

“What’s she doin’?” asked Ned.

“Ain’t had a hitch. But I’m up a little—seems to handle easier.”

“I hope so,” answered Captain Ned soberly, and he hobbled over to Roy’s
desk. One look at the speed register and the look of concern on his face
deepened. The needle was yet vibrating just beyond the two and one-half
mile figure. Then he went back to the wheel and for some moments studied
the gauges showing the propeller revolutions and the engine development.
The propeller speed had lessened but the engines were doing the same
work that had already driven the car one hundred and eighty miles an
hour. Alan knew what was going on in Ned’s mind and he chuckled.

“Don’t get scared before you’re hurt,” he said, laughing. “I guess
you’re a little upset yet. Go back there and lie down a while. We’re
doin’ all right.”

“We’re a half mile slow,” answered Ned. “We’ll have to go up right away.
There’s a fast drift above this bank of clouds and it’s all in our
favor—”

“Up nothin’,” laughed Alan again as he turned his wing wheel slightly
and brought the _Flyer_ on an even keel again. “Go look at the register!
Do you know what we did between Norwalk and Derby?”

“Better than we are doin’ now?” asked Ned.

“It’s twenty miles. We reeled it off in six and a half minutes. What’s
that figure out?”

“One hundred and eighty-four miles an hour,” volunteered Roy with
alacrity.

“But,” began the astounded Ned pointing to the speed indicator.

“I told you I was liftin’ her a little,” explained Alan. “Look at her
now.”

Another glance showed Ned that the aeroplane had found herself. The
indicator showed a speed of practically three miles a minute. The
nervous young commander threw himself into Buck’s camp chair.

“I—I see,” he said at last, “but what did it? She had all you could give
her when I went out.”

“Sure,” explained Alan without turning his head. “But we didn’t get any
help from the breeze comin’ up the Sound. You’ve got to remember we’re
gettin’ a little slant of it now. If there’s a fair breeze higher up and
this ain’t fast enough for you I can go up and do better—”

“This’ll do,” answered Ned a little hysterically. “I guess you’re
right,” he added soberly. “I think I’ll lie down a few minutes and try
to pull myself together.”

As Ned disappeared into the state room Alan said to Roy:

“That’s the first case of ‘nerves’ I ever saw in Napier. But he’s
certainly excusable to-day. That little swing of his was enough to give
any one the rattles. When he comes out of that room he’ll be the boss
again. Stand by for Middletown with Hartford on the port beam,” he
concluded. And silence once more fell on the wind swept pilot room.

There seemed no longer any question as to the stability or speed of the
_Ocean Flyer_. All that those in charge of it now had to fear, so far as
they could see, was an accident—an unlooked for storm, the breaking of
machinery or a bit of carelessness that might end disastrously before it
could be corrected. When Ned retired to the stateroom Roy took the wheel
a few moments while Alan went below.

He found Bob installed on a camp stool by the emergency engine levers, a
bit of waste in his hands and his eyes on the speed indicators, clock
and signal board. Buck, now wholly recovered from his illness and his
face and clothes spotted with oil drippings, was on his knees at the
silent dynamo cleaning and polishing its exposed parts. There was
already a hot, greasy smell in the engine room. But there was not a
discordant sound, not a jar to alarm the second officer.

With a quick feel of the main bearings for possible heat, Alan looked
over the fuel and oil supply gauges and then motioned to Buck to follow
him.

“Leave your cap in here,” he suggested with a smile. Taking up an oil
can he passed to the gallery and led the way aft to the tail truss. On
the long, narrow gangway reaching through this, protected only by
slender cables on each side, he made his way toward the big twenty foot
parallel rudders.

“Don’t look down,” he suggested to Buck, “and hang on to the cables.
It’s worse than walkin’ a rope, for a tight rope don’t fly up to shake
you off.”

“I’m all right,” responded Buck. “I’ve been initiated. Go ahead.”

Unlike a wind, with its varying gusts and puffs, the air hurled rearward
by the propellers struck the two boys with a steady pressure. Clothing
clung to their bodies like a wet glove. Their hair was plastered down as
if with pomade. With shoulders stooped and legs bent under the strain,
Alan led the tenderfoot Buck slowly out over the void beneath—now nearly
3,000 feet.

“You may have to do this to-night,” yelled Alan bringing his mouth near
to Buck’s ear. “But never try it unless the lights are on. And never let
go the cable. The rudder bearings need oil. They’ve been workin’ like a
barn door with rusty hinges.”

Reaching the end of the truss gangway, Alan braced himself and oiled the
bearings. The lower ones were accessible from the lower gangway. The
upper ones he reached by crawling through a manhole to the top of the
truss, along which ran another exposed and unprotected gangway. By means
of this the big balancing plane could be reached in emergencies.

“But don’t let me ever catch you up here,” admonished Alan as he dropped
down again.

“Very good, sir,” responded Buck with a twinkle. “But you’ll trust me
with this work?”

“Only when you are ordered to do it.”

“How about the propeller bearings?” went on Buck eagerly. “Don’t you
reckon they need a little oil?”

“Look here,” replied Alan. “Get that notion out of your system at once.
I wouldn’t even let Russell go out there. When the propellers need
attention we’ll attend to them. The rear of those wheels isn’t anything
but the tail of a tornado.”

Reaching the engine room again, Alan explained in detail to both boys
what had already been done on the voyage, the ground covered and the
speed. With renewed instructions he disappeared above.

For some minutes no sound came from the pilot room except, now and then,
the slight jar of adjusting planes as the pilot shifted slightly with
the wind. Buck, balancing himself at the starboard door—across which the
guard rail had now been dropped—listened always for the monotonous but
fascinating words of the pilot and observer as land marks were passed
and the hour was compared and noted.

“Webster,” repeated Buck to the unmoving Bob at one time. “Three,
fifteen, twelve o’clock,” Buck added, listening for more.

“Right,” repeated the vigilant engineer noting his own time.

“Thirty-four minutes from Norwalk,” went on Buck as he heard Roy make
the announcement above.

“What was the speed?” asked Bob. “It’s three miles now,” he added as he
examined his own register.

“Average speed between Norwalk and Webster for ninety-five miles, two
and eight-tenths miles a minute,” called Buck excitedly.

“Great,” cried Bob. “We’ve jumped four-tenths of a mile. It was two and
a half on the first leg to Norwalk.”

Buck was again listening.

“He says we should have been over Webster at six minutes after three and
that we’re eight minutes late,” he repeated.

“It’s fifty miles to Woburn,” volunteered Bob, consulting a memorandum
book into which he had copied the land parts of their early flight.
“Look out for old Bunker Hill when we get to Woburn. Boston’ll lie ten
miles abeam on the starboard.”

A few minutes later observer Osborne came down the ladder and confirmed
jubilantly what Buck had reported. He also told Bob and Buck for the
first time of Ned’s nervousness and how he was then resting in the state
room above.

“That’s good,” commented Bob. “I think his leg hurt him a good deal
worse than he let on.”

“Don’t bother about that stool for him,” went on Roy. “Alan and I’ll
take the wheel. Ned can sit in on my trick at the desk.”

“But it’s ready,” explained Buck pointing to an empty tin provision box
to which he had lashed a camp stool. “And you and Alan can’t keep awake
till to-morrow afternoon!”

Roy only smiled and turned to the hooks in the store room on which were
hung extra clothing. Selecting an aviator’s close fitting hood he put it
on and adjusted it about the neck.

“Gettin’ cold?” asked Buck wonderingly.

“I’m goin’ to take a stroll while Alan runs the shop,” answered Roy
laughing. Selecting a can of special lubricating oil, he loosened its
screw cap and then, pausing at the store room door to call “all ready”
to Alan at the wheel, he stepped onto the gallery and, climbing lightly
over the rail, caught the guard cable in his left hand and made his way
out on the suspended gangway leading to the starboard propeller.

The moment Roy reached the edge of the terrific gale shooting rearward
from the heard but unseen propeller blades he gripped his support anew,
and while the fragile looking but strong ropelike bridge swayed dizzily
in the gale, made his way without hesitation to the propeller frame.
Buck and Bob almost held their breaths while they watched Roy, crouched
to break the force of the compressed atmosphere, raise the oil reservoir
lid and pour the liquid into the supply tank. He returned in safety,
Alan regulating the equilibrium as he did so and then, adding a pair of
goggles to his outfit, repeated the same work on the port reservoir.

“Are you going to do that to-night?” asked Buck thoughtfully.

“About three times,” answered Roy, removing his protecting appliances.

“If you’re busy,” volunteered the ambitious Buck, “I can do it. I’ve
already got orders to look after the rudder bearings. I’d like to be
something. ‘Chief Oiler’ would suit me!”

“Like as not,” answered the amused Roy. “But, you see, you’re a sort of
guest. They don’t take chances with guests. And I’m a paid hand.”

The speed of the _Flyer_ was so terrific that there seemed no long view
of any one point. No sooner was a hill or town plainly sighted than the
lightninglike airship seemed over it and, in a few more minutes, the
place had faded into gray astern. The moment Alan announced to Roy that
Woburn was in sight Bob called to Buck:

“Then Boston’s also in sight ten miles abeam.”

“And the sea!” shouted Buck.

When the _Flyer_ shot over Woburn all knew that it was but twenty miles
further to Ipswich where the real flight over the sea was to begin. Ned
had not yet appeared. At exactly forty minutes and twenty seconds after
three o’clock the _Flyer_ passed over the main wharf of Ipswich at an
elevation of 2,800 feet. Beautiful summer homes stretched along the bay
on each side of the town. In the rear lay the bare granite hills and the
derricks of great quarries.

Breathless with excitement, Buck once more took station on the gallery.
He could distinctly hear the puffing of little derrick engines and the
business like “tamp—tamp” of quarry drillers. A strange feeling came
over him. It seemed to him, as was natural to a reporter, that some
ceremony should attend the moment. But, above him, Captain Ned lay
quietly in his state room. Alan stood at his wheel stolid and silent. At
the desk, not even rising to take a look at what was below, Roy bent low
over his work. In the engine room, Bob Russell, as if unconcerned, sat
at his gauges and signal board.

As the little city fled backward Buck saw a squat stone-boat making its
way up the crooked bay. At the same moment, on a distant stretch of
white beach, he made out a group of bathers. Would he and his friends
ever come to home and harbor again? Would they ever again come back to a
world of pleasure and safety? In these minutes the _Flyer_ was five
miles at sea.

“Two lighthouses on the starboard beam,” he heard Alan exclaim suddenly.

“Plum Light eight miles abeam and Thatcher’s Island Light off Cape Ann,”
called back the observer, checking the time.

“Three, forty-three o’clock exactly,” went on Alan with precision.

“Three-forty-three o’clock,” repeated Roy. “And the course is north,
sixty-five and one-half degrees east.”

“East, north, east by compass!” replied Alan.

“East, north, east it is,” repeated Roy. “Make it so.”

And in this wise, with the blue sea beneath them at last and a shore
line fast fading in the west, the real voyage of the _Ocean Flyer_
began.



                             CHAPTER XVIII

                        THE RACING PIGS OF FUNDY


The next land the _Ocean Flyer_ would pass over was the fifteen mile
wide peninsula of Nova Scotia lying between the north arm of the Bay of
Fundy and the Straits of Northumberland. The town of Amherst at the head
of the Bay of Fundy was the next objective point. By the Route Chart it
should be reached a little after six o’clock. The course between Ipswich
and Amherst lay across the Gulf of Maine.

Islands and light houses, with glimpses now and then of the mainland,
made the work of the pilot easy. Yet, Roy persisted in his work, and the
routine of the time record and the checking and confirming of known
landmarks was not relaxed. In this manner the Isle of Shoals, Montigan,
Matinicus, Mt. Desert, Great Duck, Petite Manan, Moosabec, Libby,
Machias Seal Islands and Cutter’s Harbor were passed, the latter sighted
at twenty-eight minutes after five o’clock—the weather so far clear and
fair and the barometer steady.

Not one of these islands was directly in the airship’s course, all of
them showing either abeam to port or starboard and frequently only to be
located in the distance by their lighthouse towers or their high, rocky
bluffs. Cutter’s Harbor was an important point, for from it the
sharp-eyed Alan got his first glimpse of the Grand Manan, the big rock
pile thirteen miles long that guards the entrance to the Bay of Fundy. A
few miles east of Cutter’s Harbor the pilot picked up the southwest
light of Big Manan. Then the West McQuoddy Light appeared four and a
half miles abeam to the south. When Long Eddy Foghorn was made out on
the white cliffs at the north end of Manan, the Bay of Fundy lay dead
ahead.

“I was afraid of this,” shouted Alan after he and Roy had made their
reports and checked them. “We’re runnin’ into the ‘fog factory’ and it
looks like a change.”

“It’s been gettin’ cooler for the last half hour,” answered Roy. Both
now noticed that the glare had gone out of the sun and that the clouds
had lost their fleeciness.

“I hope, if it’s fog,” went on Alan, “that it’ll hold off till we pass
Amherst. If we could have clear weather to Fogo Island it would be
better. Towns, islands, lights and rivers are beautiful checks on our
compass course. We get to Fogo at seven thirty-two and it’ll be daylight
yet.”

For some time Roy was silent. He was consulting the estimated time of
reaching various points and figuring. Finally he arose and braced
himself at Alan’s side, an alarmed look on his face.

“The engineer’s table estimates we’ll reach Fogo Island at seven
thirty-two o’clock traveling at three miles a minute,” he said,
consulting his notes again.

“That’s right,” answered Alan. “We’re doin’ it, ain’t we?”

“We cleared Big Manan at five thirty-four!”

“Well?”

“That’s five hundred and forty-six miles from New York.”

“What’s wrong?”

“It’s six hundred and fourteen miles from here to Fogo Island—”

“What are you gettin’ at?” interrupted Alan somewhat excitedly.

“Only this: you can’t get to Fogo by seven thirty-two o’clock this
evening.”

“We can’t?” exclaimed Alan. “Why not? Those are the figures. What’s
wrong?”

“The trouble seems to be,” continued Roy, “that someone didn’t check his
figures. The list of distances between points is footed up as nine
hundred and ninety-two miles from the Battery to Fogo. Well, it’s eleven
hundred and sixty miles!”

Alan looked at him with eyes popping.

“It’s one hundred and sixty-eight miles farther than was figured. We
can’t get to Fogo till nine o’clock as I figure it.”

“How much later is that?” asked Alan finally—his lips set.

“One hour and twenty-eight minutes.”

A long whistle escaped the pilot’s lips. He tried to keep his composure
by forcing a smile but it was a failure.

“Do you suppose there can be a mistake in our ocean chart?” he continued
at last.

“Probably not. Your man wouldn’t likely make two errors.”

“When’ll that bring us to London—an hour and twenty-eight minutes late?”

“Thirty-eight minutes after one o’clock to-morrow afternoon, allowin’
for the difference in time,” replied Roy promptly.

“Then we’ll never come back in twelve hours,” announced Alan decisively.
“Unless—” and he paused.

“Unless what?”

“Unless we make no stop in London—or fly faster. But say!” he exclaimed
suddenly, “How’d you figure there’s a mistake? How’d you know it’s
eleven hundred and sixty miles to Fogo? I checked those figures. If the
distances are right you can bet it’s nine hundred and ninety-two miles.”

“Did you ever calculate the distance from New York to London on a great
circle?”

“Sure. It’s three thousand two hundred and eighteen and one-tenth
miles.”

“That was by latitude and longitude, wasn’t it?”

“Certainly.”

“What did the same kind of calculation give you between Fogo and
London?”

“Two thousand, fifty-eight and one-tenth miles,” answered Alan, the
figures at his tongue’s end.

“The difference is eleven hundred and sixty miles. _That’s_ the distance
Fogo is from New York. The chart shows nine hundred and ninety-two
miles. Where’d you get those figures?”

Alan indicated to Roy to take the wheel. Stepping to the table and
sailing chart he studied the latter some minutes. When he arose he
noticed that a mist was perceptible even in the pilot room. As he
resumed his place at the wheel he growled:

“We did this first leg of our flight on tangents with parallel rulers.
We got the distances from the map scale of miles with dividers. I reckon
the dividers were loose. That’s all.”

“That’s hardly navigation,” said Roy with a half smile.

“Not even common sense,” snapped Alan.

Off St. John’s, New Brunswick, the mainland should have been in plain
view but the outer buoy in the harbor, over which the _Flyer_ passed,
was made out with difficulty. But, when its vague shape was at last
sighted the hour was noted as five fifty-one P. M., and the course was
immediately altered to E. by N. The fog was now gathering fast and the
rocks and trees of the rugged New Brunswick coast soon disappeared from
sight. Watching closely for Cape Chignecto Alan headed the airship for
Amherst at the tip of the Bay of Fundy, seventy-three miles distant.

A problem now confronted the pilot. The fog soon thickened to a mist
that resembled a drizzling rain. The flight of the aeroplane hurled this
chilling vapor through the pilot room. Alan was debating what to do. It
was possible to ignore the land beneath and to begin the long compass
flight to London at once. But it was wisdom to check their flight, as
long as possible, with points beneath. In the fog these could not be
distinguished at the height they were flying.

“We’ll have to drop to five hundred feet or less,” he suggested to Roy,
“if we expect to pick up Amherst or any of the Prince Edward Island
marks. What d’ you say?”

“I’d come down and I’d stay down till it’s too dark to make out the
land. That’ll be about Cape Anguille on the west coast of Newfoundland.
Then we’ll cut loose and say good-bye to America.”

Calling below to Bob to close the engine room doors and ports, Alan was
about to head down when he suggested to Bob to see if the ports in Ned’s
state room were closed. At Roy’s first step within the room Ned sprang
up wildly. In another moment, wincing from the pain in his stiffened
leg, he was by Alan’s side.

“What time is it?” he began as he looked with dismay out on the blinding
fog.

“A few minutes after six,” answered Alan with a smile.

“Six, three,” corrected Ned looking at the chronometer himself. Then he
stepped heavily to Roy’s charts. “Are we on time? Why’d you let me
sleep?”

“We’re on time, goin’ without a slip, just passed St. Johns and—because
you needed it.”

“St. Johns?” repeated Ned. “You’re droppin’!”

“Ready to get a bearin’ on Amherst, Nova Scotia, when we pass.
Everything’s fine—exceptin’ the fog.”

“I went to sleep,” exclaimed Ned who was yet a little dazed.

“That’s right,” said Alan. “I’ll take my turn later.”

“I didn’t mean to,” persisted the other boy. “Didn’t you need me?”

“Movin’ like clockwork,” insisted Alan, trying to placate the
disgruntled Ned. “The weather was fine up to Big Manan. I think it’ll
clear before we reach Fogo Island.”

“Did you say we’d just passed St. Johns?” interrupted Ned excitedly,
almost himself again. “We ought to have been there over an hour ago if
it’s after six!”

This necessitated the explanation of the error in the Gulf of Maine
sailing chart and then the explosion came. In time, when Ned had calmed
down and had gone over the figures himself, he became philosophical.

“I don’t mind bein’ an hour and a half late goin’ over,” he said at
last, “but we’ve got to come back in twelve hours.”

“I’d like to,” said Alan. “We can save some of it by shortening the stop
in London.”

“We’ll save _all_ of it!” announced the young captain decisively.

“We may catch a fair wind,” suggested Roy.

“Fair wind or not,” exclaimed Ned, “we’ll come back on time if we have
to go up above the clouds to do it.”

By this time the _Flyer_ was only a few hundred feet in the air. In the
silence that followed Ned’s positive assertion a strange sound fell on
the ears of all. On the instant, Alan’s face paled and the wing wheel
sped around to throw the airship upward. It was the unmistakable,
frightened grunting of pigs.

“Off our course,” yelled Roy springing forward to examine the compass.

“Then the chart’s wrong,” exclaimed Alan. “We’re on our line within half
a point.”

Ned burst out laughing.

“Aren’t you hugging the shore along here?” he asked, still chuckling.

“All the way,” answered Alan quickly, “but over the water—not over barn
yards. Them’s pigs. The course is wrong.”

“And you’re on the Nova Scotia side of the bay aren’t you?”

“We ought to be. But it looks like we’re sailin’ over a lot of Blue Nose
Cajan farms. And there ain’t no farms called for by my chart.”

“I once read a book about Nova Scotia, ‘Among the Blue Noses’—and now
I’m glad I did,” went on Ned. “Don’t get scared. You’re all right. The
forty-foot tide of old Fundy is just comin’ in—that’s all. Drop her down
again. You’re in no danger.”

“Do tides squeal like pigs?” almost sneered Roy, his face a blank.

“Listen to a bit of natural history,” went on Ned. “Be it known that
this shore of Fundy is a succession of small farms. Each farm supports
its share of pigs. But this support is not corn, of which there is none
to spare. The pigs must forage for themselves. From living on the sea
shore the porkers have learned that clams are succulent and fattening.
When the tide is in, there is no beach on which to pick up a dinner.
When it is out, it is good and out. The forty feet that it rises gives a
beach two or three miles wide in places when the tide is out. Seeking
the freshest and fattest clams, the Blue Nose pigs follow the receding
tide as far as they can. Then occurs something that proves one is right
when he calls another a pig—meaning the other has a pig intellect.
However old they grow, these clam chasing pigs never learn by
experience. They are always astonished when the tide turns. They doubt
the fact until the rising water swashes their noses. But they have
learned one thing—unless they beat old Fundy they’ll need no more clams.
They fly before the swift tide and race for the farm. Their grunts are
expressions of astonishment and anger. You’ve just heard the racing pigs
of Fundy. For further details consult the skipper of any old New
Brunswick lumber lugger.”

For a few moments Alan and Roy eyed Ned in silence.

“I guess you’re right again,” said Roy soberly as he turned to his desk
and took up his chart.

“If you’re quite through,” said Alan in turn without a smile and
bringing the _Flyer_ toward the sea again, “I suggest you ask Buck to
bring up some food.”

“That must be Amherst now,” exclaimed Ned sobering instantly as the
noise of a puffing engine sounded through the fog. In a moment there was
no doubt of it. The _Flyer_, less than four hundred feet in the air,
shot over the edge of the little city. Ned threw open the port door and
hung over the gallery rail to get more details. As the fog rolled in
Alan shouted:

“Come in here, you Blue Nose pork, and shut the door.”

“Well, it’s Amherst, anyway,” answered Ned laughing as he hobbled in
again, “I made out the brick yard on both sides of the railroad track.”

Alan and Roy gave him little attention. They were busy confirming time,
speed and location.

“New course, east by one-half north,” exclaimed Roy.

“East by one-half north,” repeated Alan.

“Make it so,” quickly continued Roy in a tone of pride that was plainly
meant for Ned. “Cold Springs in Northumberland Straits, twenty miles
ahead. Weather cool and foggy,” he concluded as he entered the same in
his log.

“Sounds like a yacht,” remarked Ned, still laughing. “I guess I’ll go
below.”

“Hurry up some supper,” repeated Alan who was again intent on the flight
ahead. “Buck must be asleep.”

But Buck wasn’t asleep. For four hours, almost without quitting his
chair, Bob had not left his gauges and indicator board. He was still
there, the close room now hot and stifling with its closed doors. Buck,
on the contrary, since half past four, had been busy in the storeroom in
the forward end of which was the galley.

“How’s the eats, Buck?” called out Ned opening the door to the galley.
There was no need to ask. The odors that rolled out were positive
evidence that, whatever might be Buck’s culinary skill he was at least a
miscellaneous and prodigal provider.

“How you feelin’?” were Buck’s first words.

“I guess you needed a bracer worse than I did,” answered Ned.

“Gettin’ scared don’t hurt. I’m all right.”

The embarrassed young men faced each other a few moments in silence.

“There’s pea soup and hot crackers, hot pork and beans, steamed
frankfurters with rye bread and pickles, orange marmalade and some o’
them fancy preserved pears, hot plum puddin’, coffee, and strawberries.
How’ll that do?” exclaimed Buck wiping his perspiring forehead with a
black looking handkerchief. “Bob says I ought ’a’ cut out the puddin’
but I put that in for myself.”

“Where are we goin’ to eat it?” roared Ned.

“You got to come down here near the stove. That’ll be best,” suggested
Buck. “There’s chairs and a foldin’ table right there in the store room.
Ain’t no way to get these hot things up stairs or I’d ’a’ rigged up a
spread in a state room.”

“You’re doin’ great, Buck,” laughed Ned, “and you’ll either save us from
starvation or kill us with pickles and plum pudding.”

Ned went to the ladder and called off the entire bill of fare to the
busy boys above.

“What’ll you have?” he concluded soberly.

“All of it,” yelled Alan and Roy together. “And what’s the matter
openin’ some o’ those olives?” added Alan.

Within a few minutes Ned had the dynamo going and the lights glowing in
the store room. Then two of the folding tables were set up and at
half-past six o’clock, Roy having announced Cold Spring Harbor on
Northumberland Straits, Chef Buck yelled “First call for dinner on the
_Ocean Flyer_.”

Relieving each other at the wheel and engine, in an hour the five boys
had all dined. In that time the fog had partly lifted. At seven
thirty-seven o’clock it was possible to confirm their bearing by a
glimpse of their first lighthouse rays, the flashing white light on Cape
Anguille in Newfoundland. In that time the _Flyer_ had crossed
Northumberland Straits, twenty-five miles wide; passed over Prince
Edward Island, a stretch of twenty-six miles and then over water again
as the Gulf of St. Lawrence was reached. Many towns, and even great
summer hotels had been in sight during the latter part of the afternoon
but here Ned, then at the wheel, saw the last settlement—the fishing
village of Tracade Harbor on Prince Edward Island.

For thirty-four miles the airship followed the bend of Prince Edward
east. In the misty evening glow East Point Light was just noted to the
south with Magdalene Island lying to the north.

“It’s almost like runnin’ on a track,” said Ned to Alan, who relieved
him a little later. “To make sure we don’t get lost, ninety miles out
there in the gulf you might pick up St. Paul’s Island Light. But it’s
twenty miles south of our course. I reckon you won’t see it in the fog.”

When Ned had finished his dinner St. Paul’s Light had been passed unseen
on the starboard beam and the fog was lifting rapidly. When Cape
Anguille Light suddenly winked like a pale star, almost dead ahead, Ned
summoned Buck to the pilot room. Then he went below to the engine room
and relieved the faithful Bob.

“You boys go above,” he ordered. “You’re both reporters and you love the
picturesque and dramatic. We’ll be over Newfoundland in a few minutes.
Then it’ll be only two hundred and forty-one miles over the last land
we’ll see till we reach the old sod of Ireland. I want you to see all
you can—you may need the impressions in your newspaper stuff. I’ll run
up when you sight Fogo Island.”

When Newfoundland’s dark pine forests, its lakes and rivers, its rocky
wilds where yet the moose lives and multiplies, had filled the circle of
the horizon beneath the birdlike aeroplane, it was eight o’clock. Just
then the long obscured sun broke through the mist clouds. A brilliant
orange and red sky suddenly darkened the lakes and woods beneath. Then
the uninhabited world turned to a sunset glow as if the day had been
born again.

“It’s the longest day in the year,” exclaimed Buck. “We’ll see Fogo!”

At ten minutes of nine Alan announced:

“Fogo Island, almost dead ahead to port.”

Bob and Buck were on the port gallery when Ned joined the excited pair.

“Gentlemen,” exclaimed Ned taking out his watch, “we shall lose five
hours by the time we reach London. Since our next points of bearing will
be reached under London time we may as well change our watches now as
later. When we pass Fogo Island I suggest we move our time pieces ahead
five hours.”

“Fogo Island and eight fifty-nine P. M.,” exclaimed Alan a few minutes
later.

“Fogo Island and one fifty-one A. M.,” announced Ned laughing.

And as the hands of four watches flew to the new time, the flight over
sea began.



                              CHAPTER XIX

                     A CHANGE OF PLANS BY WIRELESS


Fogo Island, bleak, uninhabited and wave drenched, is now known for
nothing except that it is the only island cut by the great circle or
shortest course between New York and London. In time it will be known as
the intermediate land station on the aerial route between these two
great cities. It lies in 50° west longitude and 50° 40´ north latitude.

At one minute of two o’clock on the morning of June 22, by the altered
watches, and eight o’clock and fifty-nine minutes by the unaltered
chronometer, the _Ocean Flyer_ cleared this vague, rocky point and
headed S. 79-1/2° E. at an elevation of 2,500 feet. For 146 miles the
airship was to hold this course. It seemed strange to Buck to see the
compass showing a course east by south which, in his judgment, presaged
a landing in France.

“If it wasn’t for the magnetic variation,” explained Alan, “we would
sail north, sixty-seven degrees east. But the magnetic variation in this
place is thirty-three and one-half degrees. We’ve got to subtract this
variation. As there are only ninety degrees in a quadrant this
sixty-seven degrees north of east changes to seventy-nine and one-half
degrees south of east. Or, by compass points, east by south. The first
is the true course. The last is our magnetic course.”

“And the rest of our journey,” added Ned, “is made up of eleven straight
flights across the Atlantic.”

He showed Buck the pilot chart on which these lines were indicated with
the altered courses for each and the tabulation for the pilot’s use.
These were now spread out on the operator’s table ready for the night’s
long vigil. The tabulated matter was a maze of figures in this form:

Fogo Island to London—Rhumb Line Course:

MILES:

  146 to 50° W. and 50° 40´ N.; True course N. 67 E.
    Variation 33-1/2° W.; Magnetic course S. 79-1/2
      E. or E. by S. Time 8.59 P. M.

  199.6 to 45° W. and 51° 45´ N.; True course N. 71 E.
    Variation 35° W.; Magnetic course S. 74 E., or
      E. S. E. 1/2 E. Time—.

  206.7 to 40° W. and 52° 35´ N.; True course N. 76 E.
    Variation 35-1/2° W.; Magnetic course S. 68-1/2 E.
      or E. S. E. 1/8 E. Time—.

  177.8 to 35° W. and 53° 15´ N.; True course N. 77 E.
    Variation 35° W.; Magnetic course S. 68 E. or E. S. E. Time—.

  169 to 30° W. and 53° 40´ N.; True course N. 81-1/2 E.
    Variation 34° W.; Magnetic course S. 64-1/4 E.
      or S. E. by E. 3/4 E. Time—.

  191 to 25° W. and 53° 50´ N.; True course, N. 87 E.
    Variation 31-1/2°; Magnetic course S. 61-1/2 E.
      or S. E. by E. 1/2 E. Time—.

  180 to 20° W. and 53° 50´ N.; True course E.
    Variation 28° E.; Magnetic course S. 62 E. or
      S. E. by E. 1/2 E. Time—.

  215 to 15° W. and 53° 35´ N.; True course S. 85 E.
    Variation 25-1/2° W.; Magnetic course S. 59-1/2°
      E. or S. E. by E. 1/4 E. Time—.

  180 to 10° W. and 53° 10´ N.; True course S. 81-1/2 E.
    Variation 22-1/2° W.; Magnetic course S. 50°
      E. or S. E. by E. 1/4 E. Time—.

  192 to 5° W. and 52° 30´ N.; True course S. 78 E.
    Variation 19-1/2° W.; Magnetic course 58-1/2° E.
      or S. E. by E. 1/4 E. Time—.

  201 to 0° W. (London) and 52° 30´ N.; True course S. 72 E.
    Variation 16-1/2° W.; Magnetic course S. 55-1/2°
      E. or S. E. 7/8 E. Time—.

  2,058.1 Miles Fogo Island to London.

  1,160. Miles New York to Fogo Island.

  3,218.1 Miles New York to London.

“Not for me,” sighed Buck. “And that’s what you thought I could do? Not
in a thousand years. Take it away.”

“Here’s a little one that is easier,” went on Alan pointing to a smaller
card while the other boys laughed.

“Looks better than the alphabet and funny marks and figures,” conceded
Buck. “What’s that?”

“This is another land chart,” explained Alan. “It tells us where we
ought to strike Ireland—sort o’ postscript to the other chart. With it
and your knowledge of London’s vicinity we ought to be able to shut up
the compass later. Look at it! It won’t bite.”

This smaller table was:

     Arran Island (Galway Bay) Ireland to
     London Air Line Route

     Fogo Island (Newfoundland), to Arran             1,665.1 Miles
     Island (Ireland)

     Arran Island (North Light) to Gorey                  123 "
     (Wexford)

     To line off shore between Arklow Bank                  8 "
     and Blackwater Bank

     To Cardigan Bay Lightship                             56 "

     Cardigan Lightship to New Quay, Wales                 41 "
     (England)

     New Quay to London, passing south of                 165 "
     Hereford, over Cheltenham, between
     Oxford and Abingdon and south of Harrow
     to Hyde Park

                                                         ————

     Total                                            2,058.1 Miles

“Find Oxford,” was Buck’s only comment, “and I’ll show you the way from
that town. If that’s all for the present I’ll go below and wash the
dishes.”

The _Flyer_ being now well on her new course there was a conference and
a program was made of the night watches. These were divided into
three-hour tricks beginning at ten o’clock (“or three o’clock, which
ever you like,” suggested Ned laughing). Bob had already instructed Buck
as to the things to look out for in the engine—that the gasoline and
ether supplies were free and working, that the lubricating cups were
full of oil and, most essential, that the bearings were not hot. The two
reporters were to alternate in the engine room, Buck going on at ten
o’clock and giving Bob an extra hour on the first trick which would give
the latter four hours straight sleep.

“Here are notes on the best time we can make to each change of course,”
suggested Roy. “If some one will call me before the altering time I’ll
get enough sleep between legs. The pilot can watch his own barometer and
I’ll note everything about once an hour.”

This was agreed upon, Ned insisting on giving Roy three hours
undisturbed sleep between one and four o’clock, when Alan relieved him.
Ned and Alan were to manage the wheel, generally taking three hours on
and three off. This arrangement being agreeable to all Roy took the
wheel while the captain and Alan made a complete survey of the airship.
Each detail of the engines was scrutinized and further explanations made
to Buck. Then, drawing on sweaters, for the sea air was cold and damp,
the Airship Boys examined each plane and its supports and finally oiled
the rudder bearings and refilled the propeller lubricators.

They returned to the engine room and the acetylene gas was turned on and
with only a low, shaded light over the engine gauges, Roy’s desk and the
binnacle, the dynamo was shut down. Ventilators were opened and all
ports and doors closed. Everything shipshape, Bob was persuaded to turn
in. This he did in stateroom number two. Roy kept at the desk until the
end of the first sea leg was reached, took the readings, gave the new
course and then entered the new time figures—“forty-seven minutes and
thirty-six seconds after nine o’clock.” Then he settled himself for his
first doze while the aeroplane reeled off its next leg, 199.6 miles.

“It’s ten o’clock,” said Ned to Alan, “and your bed’s ready. Tumble in.”

But Alan, although he surrendered the wheel, only moved to the lookout
and peered into the night in silence. The sea was so far below as to be
out of view. The sky was clear with stars showing. With nothing outside
to distract the eye the rush of the _Flyer’s_ own body through the air
made it seem as if a spectral tornado were trying to hold the airship
back. And the roar of it seemed to increase when the last glow of day
blotted out the sea.

“I’ve been thinkin’,” Alan said at last, “that we made a mistake. We’re
goin’ to have trouble in London. We’ll be able to deliver the matrices
but it’s going to be another story to take on our passengers and get
away again. The police are always too curious.”

“Don’t forget that the _Herald’s_ back of us,” answered Ned, his eyes on
the compass, for there was now no need to keep a lookout ahead. “I’m
countin’ on their men to arrange that; to get a permit for us.”

“And if they don’t?” went on Alan skeptically.

Ned shrugged his shoulders.

“And, worst of all,” went on Alan. “As I understand it, Hyde Park is
pretty exclusive with its Serpentine and Rotten Row. How are we going to
be sure our gasoline and ether and lubricator oil supply wagon or dray
will be allowed in the park?”

“That’s a thing I’ve been leavin’ to the _Herald_ agents,” answered Ned
slowly, “although I rather wish we hadn’t.”

“That’s it,” exclaimed Alan. “Maybe it ain’t too late to take charge
ourselves.”

“Wireless?” asked Ned, turning to Alan in surprise.

“If we only had to deliver the matrices in the park,” went on Alan
nodding his head, “we could do that with a slow down. Then we could be
off and give the ‘bobbies’ the laugh.”

“But our passengers and the supplies?” urged Ned.

“We ain’t goin’ to get to London before half past one,” resumed Alan
taking a position in front of Ned and laying a pocket map of London and
its suburbs on the binnacle where the light fell on it. “Those picture
makers will be through their work when the royal procession has reached
Westminster and the exercises begin or as soon as they’ve had a few
shots inside the building—if they expect to do that. Any way, they ought
to be free before half past twelve if they cut out the return parade.
Bob says the men doin’ the coronation can leave any time after they’ve
had a look at the crowd. They know the program to the last word. And the
supplies will be ready at any time.”

“Well,” commented Ned. “I think I get you. But, go on!”

“These men and our supplies ought to be out in the western suburbs of
London—far out. Then we’d throw out the matrices, get away before any
one could stop us and make a landing where our passengers are waiting
for us. They ought to be able to sneak out twenty or twenty-five miles
in a good motor and the supplies could be sent early in the day.”

“Then we could stop in peace and safety,” broke in Ned enthusiastically,
“long enough to overhaul everything and start again in good shape. Were
you figurin’ on the wireless?”

“Yes,” answered Alan. “If we could pick up a liner either on this side
or close in on the other it could forward the message. I don’t think our
outfit is strong enough to do much more—”

“Why not try a Labrador station?” interrupted Ned with enthusiasm. “We
can’t be more than three hundred miles from a Marconi office there. I
know there’s a telegraph line to Chateau Bay. Surely there’s a station
just behind us at Heart’s Content where the cables end in Trinity Bay,
Newfoundland. And that’s not over three hundred miles either.”

“Bob ought to be good for three or four hundred miles,” suggested Alan,
his eyes sparkling. “Shall we?”

“What’s the outfit for?” retorted Ned. “We can’t lose. If we don’t raise
any one we’re no worse off. Rouse him out!”

When the soundly snoring Bob was pulled from his bed and at last made to
understand the sudden plan, sleep fled from him. In five minutes the
dynamo was in operation and Bob was at the little desk in the store
room. As the lightninglike blue and green flashes in the condenser
sounded through the airship, Bob, with his ear-set in place, bent low
over the tuner. Before him, just showing in the small circle of his one
shaded light bulb, lay his code and signal books for all systems on the
far northern American coasts and the calls for all northern route
steamers.

“I’ll raise something,” he shouted with eagerness. “Get your message
ready.”

Buck had already been summoned from the engine room. With the first bark
of the condenser Roy was awake. Only Ned stood to his post while Alan,
Roy and Buck got out the detail maps of England, London and vicinity.

“Now,” almost shouted Alan to Buck, “get busy.” And he explained the
situation. “These places all look alike to us. You know London and the
country around it. We want the least settled place nearest to Fleet
street that can be reached quickly by motor. Some open, smooth spot
where the police are asleep. Some place that the _Herald_ men will know
without description. You’re the English pilot, as well as cook and
rudder greaser. Now show us what you can do.”

“‘Acton,’” exclaimed Buck before he looked at the map. “We’ll pass it
goin’ in. And it isn’t over five or six miles from Fleet street. It’s
quiet as the grave. There’s even a cemetery near by. There are open
fields with walks. Why,” and he reached for the map, “there’s some old
ruins, a ‘moat’ they call ’em, about a quarter of a mile from the
railway station. That’s a good meetin’ place. Let’s see,” and he ran his
pencil over the big red, blue and green chart. “It’s on the Great
Western Railway,” and he pointed to a square green spot, “at the north
end of Horn Lane, and there’s a fine road right out to it, from Horn
Lane into High Street; then east to Acton Vale and then Uxbridge Road.
You know they give a new name to a London Street every few yards,” he
explained laughing. “Then Notting Hill and Bayswater Road bring you
right to Hyde Park. The place was made for just such a trick.”

“That’s good,” chuckled Alan. “Now for the message. If we can get this
to the _Herald_ to-night, it’ll go to London by cable at once.”

“How’ll you know?” asked Buck.

“Don’t need to,” announced Ned from the wheel. “But you might put in
that we’ll be within two hundred miles of Ireland, off Galway, at ten
thirty in the morning. They might get us an answer there.”

“Get your message ready,” yelled a voice below.

“Heard any thing yet?” shouted three boys springing to the ladder
opening.

“Not yet,” replied Bob, “but when I do I want to break right in while I
got ’em.”

For some minutes Alan scratched away at Roy’s table. Then he submitted
the following:

“Herald, New York. Wire reporters photographers be at Acton suburb old
moat one thirty London time with all supplies. Have motor for forms
northeast corner Hyde Park from twelve thirty. Men carry white
handkerchiefs. No stop park.”

When he had read this Ned laughed.

“Can’t you imagine the _Herald_ will be just a bit curious as to whether
we are in the air or the sea?”

Alan added:

“All well. On time. Left Fogo eight fifty-nine. This forwarded at ——
o’clock (‘that’s for Bob to fill in if he ever gets it off,’ Alan
explained). At ten thirty P. M., about 240 miles off N. F. Napier, Ocean
Flyer.”

“Cut out the ‘Napier,’” ordered Ned, “and I think it’ll do.”

Alan did so but when he handed the message to Bob he instructed him to
reinsert the name.

“And now,” he added to the wireless operator, “do your best. Meanwhile,
as I can’t help you I’ll turn in.”

Despite the “bark, bark” and “snap, snap” of Bob’s condenser Alan and
Roy were soon fast asleep. Later, the increasing cold awoke Alan. Dazed
for a moment he at last got his bearings. He thought first of Bob and
the wireless. Then he realized that there was no sound from the
condenser. Springing up he hurried into the pilot room. There was no
light over the operator’s table but in the gloom he made out the
sleeping figure of Roy, his head on his arms. At the wheel, silent and
rigid, stood Ned.

“What’s the hour?” asked Alan sleepily.

“Nearly two o’clock,” came the answer in a low voice. “Don’t wake up
Roy.”

“Where are we!”

“On the fifth leg, nearly eight hundred miles out.”

“And the wireless?” whispered Alan. “Where’s Bob?”

“Asleep. He got Heart’s Content just after twelve. Put her through.”

“Great,” exclaimed Alan. “Let me take the wheel. I’m an hour late.”

“Stand by for a new course,” was Ned’s only answer in a low voice.

“Aye, aye, sir,” sounded instantly from the operator’s table and as the
light flashed, Roy was on duty again.



                               CHAPTER XX

                       THE FIRST SIGHT OF LONDON


On the morning of June 22 a fog lay on the Irish Coast until nine
o’clock. Between that hour and ten o’clock the fog turned into a misty
rain and it was not until nearly eleven o’clock that old Donald O’Meara,
keeper of the north light on Arran Island off Galway bay, applied
himself to the work of cleaning the outside metal and glass of the light
house. At twenty minutes after eleven o’clock “Captain” O’Meara,
sweeping the horizon as he recharged his little clay dudeen, made out a
strange object in the west high above the sea.

“Captain” O’Meara was the first European to sight the first airship that
crossed the Atlantic ocean. It was a few seconds after twenty-eight
minutes after eleven o’clock when the _Ocean Flyer_ passed the Arran
light. As the giant airship approached this tower, the aeroplane seemed
swooping toward the island as if to perch thereon. When the swift
incline suddenly turned to horizontal and the dull metal wings carried
the aeroplane ahead only a few hundred feet above the dazed light
keeper’s head, O’Meara could make out no person aboard.

Although the veteran light keeper sprang into the tower when the roar of
the cyclonelike propellers reached his ears and fled down the steps to
his cottage below, the _Flyer_ was yet in plain sight when he reported
what he had seen, by telephone to the mainland. Within thirty minutes
this information and similar reports had reached the Galway evening
newspapers from a dozen sources.

“She looks like a big French aeroplane,” came one message from
Bullyvaughan on the south shore of Galway bay. “Like as not lost in the
fog early to-day.”

No observer suspected or suggested that the strange vehicle had actually
crossed the Atlantic ocean. And the telegraph messages that hastened to
London, receiving little attention in the midst of the coronation
exercises, were not even repeated to America. Within the apparently
untenanted car of the big air craft there was little excitement and
almost no activity. The nerve tension of the long trip had resulted in a
spiritless, almost tired condition that did not even prompt enthusiasm
in the crew over the first glimpse of the long looked for shores of the
old world.

Ned and Alan were both at the wheel. They had picked up the Galway bay
light with no other comment than “There she is!” And Roy, heavy-eyed but
wide awake, had made his observations and set down his figures as
mechanically as if yet far a-sea. In truth, as the _Flyer_ had made her
night-long swift flight eastward, hour by hour holding to its course in
unvarying response to the powerful engine that never faltered, the
surprise would have been _not_ to see the landmark that spelled success
and victory.

The arrangement of the night watches had been, in the main, carried out
as planned. At two o’clock Alan relieved Ned at the wheel. About four
thirty o’clock Ned took charge again and Alan was off till seven. From
that time until ten o’clock Ned slept and at ten both boys were together
to stick to the end. Roy, at the observer’s table, got along with his
three-quarter hour cat naps till seven o’clock in the morning when Bob
spelled him off until ten o’clock. At this time Buck threw himself on
the floor of the store room and was only called when the Arran light
came in sight.

When the stars faded at four o’clock in the morning and Alan felt the
snappy night air changing to a colder moisture he feared a fog. Ned came
on watch at seven o’clock to find every indication of heavier weather.
Hoping that the fog, if it grew worse, would lift when the land was
reached, the young aviators made the best of a bad prospect and Alan
prepared to turn in.

“I’d stick now, to the end,” he explained, “if it wasn’t for what’s
comin’. It’s a long haul back, old man,” he added as he patted Ned
affectionately on the shoulder, “and that’s goin’ to be the real test.”

“In more ways than one,” replied Ned significantly. “But I’m feelin’
fine. Get what rest you can. We may have to stand a straight watch
to-night.”

“Isn’t it surprisin’,” exclaimed Alan, “that we’re not throwin’ up our
hats and yellin’? We’ve practically crossed the ocean at last and there
don’t seem to be any excitement. What d’ you think we’ll do when we
really sight the land?”

“If it’s Arran light,” answered Ned with a smile, “as I hope and reckon,
I’ll bet our first thought’ll be ‘Are we on time?’”

No member of the crew had been busier during the night than Bob. Only a
part of his “watch off” had he given up to sleep. In his eagerness he
was frequently at the wireless, as the night wore on, watching and
waiting for some answer to his earlier message. In mid-ocean this had
been an almost useless precaution. The _Flyer_ wireless outfit was
hardly powerful enough to make a fifteen hundred mile connection. But
Bob had a theory that the answer might come by way of some liner; that
it might be picked up by the operator on some large steamer and thus
relayed to the _Flyer_.

As the airship approached the Irish coast the keen young reporter was on
the alert for a direct message from the station at the Lizard. At ten
o’clock in the morning no word had been received and it was Bob’s turn
for a few more hours’ sleep. As they must now be not much over two
hundred miles from the land, Bob wanted to get off another message
directly to the _Herald_ office in London.

“There’s time yet,” he explained, “even if the other message went wrong.
They’ll have three hours to change their plans—they can even send the
fuel and oil wagon out to that place in three hours.”

Alan rather opposed the idea.

“We’ve got trouble enough ahead,” he suggested. “I don’t suppose the
government would know about it and of course the wireless people
wouldn’t interfere with a private message. But we can’t send it without
telling about our plans again and I don’t like the idea of so many
persons knowin’ what we’re tryin’ to do. If there’s a leak anywhere, you
can bet the police ain’t goin’ to go to sleep on the job.”

“I’m not afraid of the message becoming known through the wireless
office,” said Ned, “but there are hundreds of amateur operators always
on the lookout for practice. If one of these caught us he might not
hesitate to tell all he knew. Wait a little while. We may hear
something.”

Disappointed, Bob surrendered and retired to a state room. However, Ned
knew something about the working of the wireless and two or three times
during the next three hours he sleepily arose and listened for a
possible call. At ten o’clock Bob turned out for the long watch and,
relieving Buck, alternated from that time in keeping an eye on the
engines and an ear on the wireless receiver. At 10:30 o’clock all were
relieved by a shout from Bob and almost before the three boys on duty
could question him, the wireless operator was filling the store room
with loud “barks” of the wireless condenser. Bob had received a call and
was pounding his key in response. Suddenly the wire ceased. A few
moments of silence and then Bob threw off his head piece and shouted:

“New plan O. K.; new plan O. K. They got it. Message is a Marconi from
the Lizard. Signed _Herald_.” “Any answer?” he yelled as he sprang to
the instrument again.

Ned examined the chronometer.

“Roy,” he announced, “it’s ten thirty-two o’clock. How near in are we?”

The vigilant Roy made a quick calculation.

“We’re less than one hundred and seventy miles out.”

“Send this,” called Ned to Bob: “‘Herald, New York. Ten thirty-two A. M.
One hundred and seventy miles off Irish coast. Light rain. London one
thirty P. M. Message received. _Flyer_.’”

At various times during the night the constantly changing watches of the
airship had partaken of cold luncheon and hot coffee. Between ten thirty
and eleven o’clock Roy and Bob between them had prepared an ample
breakfast and when the lookout finally saw the Arran light and sang out
“There she is!” Roy, Bob and Alan were at breakfast below. It was then
that Buck was aroused and all climbed above to feast their eyes on the
point to which they had been making all night.

While the _Flyer_, speeding forward over the lakes and rivers, white
highways, thatched cottages and little stone fenced villages of Ireland,
carried its crew nearer the great metropolis, all was made shipshape
aboard. The staterooms were arranged for the return passengers. The boys
aboard had no plans for further sleep or rest except such as they could
snatch while on duty or in the short stop before their start on the
return trip. The program called for a departure from London at two
o’clock or before. And the flight to New York was to be made in twelve
hours “or less” as Ned put it.

The boys in turn freshened themselves with sponge baths and, when the
Irish Sea hove in sight at twelve o’clock, every one was newly alert and
as spick and span as if the voyage was just beginning.

“The Arklow Light five miles abeam to port,” cried Ned a few minutes
later.

“Blackwater Light five miles to port,” chimed in Alan in great spirits.

“Nine minutes after twelve o’clock,” shouted Buck standing by the
chronometer.

“Two hundred and twenty-six miles to London,” called Roy from his table.
“Stand by for Cardigan Light Ship and the Welsh coast.”

When the village of New Quay in Wales had been laid astern at twelve
thirty-three o’clock and the _Ocean Flyer_ at last had English soil in
sight ahead there was new activity. Ned, Buck and Bob tried the engine
room trap door; the rope ladder was attached to hooks at the door’s edge
and the landing ladder was got in readiness on the starboard gallery.
Then a thirty foot length of line was procured and made fast to the
matrix bundle. With this line the package was to be suspended below the
car and dropped at the right moment rather than to take the risk of
hurling the bundle from the slackened airship.

Alan returning to the pilot room, Ned sat down at Roy’s table and wrote
a message to be cabled to the _Herald_. Using what time he had before
Oxford was reached, Buck also prepared a cablegram for his manager.
Suddenly, all aboard seemed to have new duties. Only Alan had the time
to examine the new land below. Welsh mountains soon gave way to the
English country side of history and fiction. Almost unconsciously Alan
brought the _Flyer_ nearer the moors and woods of the outlying counties.

“They’re all here, boys,” he shouted. “I’d know it without Roy’s chart.”

“A little strange,” answered Roy, “to go to London, turn around and
leave England again without putting foot on the soil.”

“You may have a chance to stretch your legs at Acton,” broke in Ned.
“We’ll be there nearly a half hour.”

“Think I can run over to the village?” continued Roy.

“What’d you want to do there?” asked Alan. “No soda water in England you
know.”

“I thought I’d mail the folks a picture postal card,” laughed Roy.
“That’ll be one way to prove we’ve been here.”

“But a better way to put in your time,” interrupted Ned again, “will be
for you and Bob to take charge of the men who are to go back with us and
get ’em aboard and in their staterooms. Buck,” he announced, “you get
the new supplies and water aboard and store ’em away. Alan and I’ll be
busy with the fuel and oil. If we’ve got any time left after that, we’ll
stretch our legs and rest.”

“Hereford, by the chart,” was Roy’s only reply. “Stand by for Cheltenham
and Oxford dead ahead.”

Buck, somewhat nervous over his coming pilot duty, was hastening to
finish his report. When Roy announced Cheltenham a few minutes later,
Buck hastily ended his copy, sealed and addressed it and sprang to
Alan’s side by the wheel.

“The shore pilot is aboard, sir,” exclaimed Alan turning toward Ned and
speaking with assumed dignity.

“Very good,” answered Ned. “Turn the ship over to him.”

Roy, continuing the joke, turned his land chart face down on the desk
and arose with a smile, stretching his arms.

“I suppose I’m off duty now, sir.”

“Until we leave Acton at two o’clock,” was Ned’s sober reply.

“Bring her down to seven hundred feet,” came a sharp order from Buck.

All looked up in surprise and Ned even chuckled. It was apparent that
the new pilot had taken charge in reality. Before Oxford was reached the
shadowy east had formed itself into the cloud that always hangs over a
great city. The moors and farms of west England had long since merged
into the park like places and estates in which rose the country homes of
wealth and the nobility. Even at 700 feet these fled beneath the
speeding car until all detail was lost. Railway lines, vine-clad
stations, the picturesque cots of rural hamlets were almost a blur. But
they all meant one thing—London was near.

As the silver thread of the Thames at Oxford crossed their flight there
was a new order from Buck. Ignoring the chart course of S. E. 7/8 E. he
moved his hand to the right, peering ahead, until he gave the word “hold
her!”

Alan at the wheel seemed in doubt and showed it.

“I’m doin’ this,” exclaimed Buck. “See those two towers dead ahead?
Well, they’re Windsor Castle.” Ned and Roy sprang to the lookout.

“Was that bunch of gray towers Oxford?” asked Buck craning his neck
astern.

“And that’s Windsor ahead?” inquired Ned with no less interest. “This is
certainly a fine way to study a new country.”

“I wouldn’t reckon Windsor was on our course,” argued Alan.

“It isn’t much off it,” explained Buck. “But you’ve got to remember I
know London suburbs from the ground—not from the sky. It’s twenty-one
miles from Windsor to Fleet Street. And it’s twenty-one miles of as
windin’ roads and streets as ever were made; suburbs and cemeteries,
prisons and gas works, remnants of old parks and flower spotted new
ones; old mansions goin’ to ruin in a world of tradesmen’s villas and
bungalows; electric trams and windin’ railroads—”

“You don’t mean to say you don’t know the way in?” broke in Ned.

“I’ll get you there,” answered Buck undisturbed. “And to be sure of it
I’m goin’ by way of Windsor because you can’t miss its towers. There
we’ll pick up the Great Western railroad and then we can’t miss our
way.”

“Sure you know the railway?” asked Alan anxiously.

“Throw me off if I don’t,” was Buck’s answer.

“Where does it end?” asked Ned not wholly reassured.

“At the great Paddington Station.”

“Then how do we get to Hyde Park?” was Alan’s next question.

“It’s in sight. Before we’re well over the station I’ll point out the
Marble Arch gate at Oxford Street and Park Lane.”

At Windsor the Thames was wider but there was no time for scenery now.
It required only a motion for Alan to pick out the railway and then with
a wide swerve the _Flyer_ headed into the thin haze ahead.

“What time is it?” asked Roy reopening his log.

“One fifteen o’clock,” answered Alan, his voice trembling, “English
time.”

“It’s twenty-one miles to Fleet Street,” said Buck at once. “It must be
about three miles to the Arch from Fleet Street. You’ve got eighteen
more miles—”

“That’s ten minutes,” exclaimed Ned. Catching Roy by the arm he motioned
to the store room ladder. “We’ll go below and get ready. When you pass
Paddington lift her to about one thousand feet and then do a wide
spiral. Unless we give you the word through the tube you’ll have to
stop. If they’re ready for us Roy’ll pass the word ‘go ahead’ and I’ll
drop the stuff. Then hit it up for Acton. Keep your place, Buck. If we
stop, both stand by the wheel. It may be a race with the police. Don’t
leave the wheel, either of you. Bob’s at the engine. Roy and I’ll do the
work below.”

In a few moments the engine room trap was open and Captain Ned was on
the floor getting his first view of London.



                              CHAPTER XXI

                    THE MARBLE ARCH GATE, HYDE PARK


When Buck Stewart finally pointed out the long, black train sheds of the
Paddington station and Alan began lifting the _Flyer_ to the thousand
foot level, the eyes of every one aboard the airship—except Bob at the
engine—were searching for the Mecca of the three thousand mile voyage,
the celebrated Hyde Park.

“There,” announced Buck at last pointing over a mass of irregular brown
buildings between which, here and there, rose clumps of green where
little squares and crescents gave color to sooty chimney pots and roofs
of drab. “See the trees?”

Beyond a row of these, marking Bayswater Road, lay a vast oasis of
shrubbery. With a long curve to the east and north Alan followed Buck’s
continued directions and in a few moments all made out the landmark that
each had fixed in his mind—the Marble Arch gate that stands at the
Oxford Street and Park Lane entrance to the park. The second thing that
caught Alan’s eye was the mass of people in the park all moving slowly
over its open commons as if moved by one impulse. The great coronation
was at an end; the royal procession had returned to St. James—on the far
side of the park—and West London was making its way homeward.

Ned, below, saw something else. In Oxford street, just without the gate,
stood a long, gray motor car. In it sat a chauffeur and standing on the
rear seat, a man with a pair of binoculars. The _Herald_ representatives
were on the ground. As Ned looked, the man dropped the glasses on the
seat, sprang from the car and hurried through the ponderous arch. Not
until that moment did the people in the park appear to notice the on
rushing car. But the exclamations of those first sighting it swelled in
an instant into a roar. Ten thousand persons rushed forward and then
surged backwards as the airship, pausing in its course, began a giant
circle.

Just within the gates the murmuring thousands herded on the
“People’s Forum,” the worn bit of grass where for many years
proletariats—socialists, anarchists, the advocates of all new
philosophies and ’isms—have been accustomed to make their Sunday
stands. To land among these was impossible. To fly along the ground
just above them was perilous. The man who had hastened into the park
from the motor car was in plain sight. He was already in company
with two other men who had bands of white on their arms.

“What are you goin’ to do?” called Alan through the tube. “We can’t land
here. And you’ll kill someone if you drop the bundle.”

Ned was at his wit’s end. Before he could reply, keeping his eye on the
two white-marked men and the one who had used the glass—who seemed to be
in charge—he noted that the latter was waving his arms upward and
pointing to the gate.

“Keep her up,” Ned called back—Roy repeating the message. “Take another
turn or two.”

The three men in the park now made their way quickly to the arch and all
sprang into the waiting motor, their leader meanwhile pointing west
toward Bayswater Road. With only the loss of a few moments the car
turned onto Hyde Park Terrace. Here, in the torrid noonday sun, the
hordes coming from the park were keeping in the shade of the trees. The
wide, smooth terrace stretched away almost free of vehicles.

“Get over ’em and ahead,” shouted Ned—for by this time all were watching
the motor and its occupants. “The street’s wide enough. Drop down and
pass ’em. Get as close as you can.”

As if out for a leisurely tour of the park the gray car moved west on
the terrace. With one more wide swing Alan brought the _Flyer_ to the
west and then, as if on a toboggan, the condorlike airship slid directly
toward the motor. When it seemed as if the aeroplane would crash into
the automobile there was an upward swerve. As if balanced in the air the
_Flyer_ hung in equilibrium an instant. Those in the motor sprang aside
as if to escape the impending blow from the suspended bundle. At that
instant the black package dropped directly into the car.

Ned’s shout of “All right!” was not needed. The checked airship had to
go ahead. And before the order reached Alan the _Flyer_ had hurled
herself forward again. Barely averting a cab, whose driver was too dazed
even to hurl at them a cabby’s imprecations, the aeroplane skimmed
skyward.

“Up!” shouted Roy through the tube, “Up!”

Knowing then that the precious matrices had been delivered, for better
or for worse, Alan threw his wheel over and while Ned lay on the floor
watching the astounded occupants of the motor, the airship began
climbing skyward with straining planes, the engines at full speed again.
Not a word had been spoken to the men in the automobile. None was
necessary.

As the _Flyer_ mounted upward and forward Ned could see the motor
beneath stop for a moment and then turn quickly in the broad road. A
policeman was hurrying toward the motor but the latter did not pause.
While the officer ran by its side the motor suddenly jumped ahead and
Ned, chuckling, knew it was on its way to Fleet Street. Laughing, he
arose and closed the trap door. Then, suddenly, his face became
thoughtful. He seemed almost frightened.

For the second time a big crisis in their perilous voyage had been
passed with a laugh. A week before, the thought of this moment would
have come to Ned as the climax of a ceremony. Now, he had just done that
for which he and his friends had risked their lives, with the ease that
a bag of peanuts might have been tossed into a monkey cage.

When Ned reached the pilot room Roy had already repeated all the details
of what had happened. Both Alan and Buck were elated.

“What’s the matter with you?” exclaimed Buck as soon as he saw Ned’s
face.

“Nothin’,” answered Ned as he took his place at the lookout. “Nothin’ at
all. It worked out all right, didn’t it?”

But there was a good deal the matter with the young leader. He had just
realized what it meant to cross the Atlantic ocean over night and the
thought that the _Flyer_ had just accomplished an undreamed of feat in
the delivery of the _Telegram_ matrices almost unnerved him. The great,
busy London beneath, scarcely attracted his attention.

But his reverie lasted only a few moments. Buck and Alan were picking
out the route to the country rendezvous and Roy’s activity aroused Ned.
Throwing open and latching the pilot room doors they quickly reviewed
the program for the stop.

“We’ve been seen, good and plenty,” said Alan, “and we’ll likely be
followed. If the authorities interfere they mustn’t be allowed to get
away with it. Buck,” he added, “you know police and their ways. Stall
off anybody till we get our people and the fuel aboard—if the ‘bobbies’
show up. And we’ll make the shift in rag time.”

Buck had never seen Acton and the place was far from being an ideal
landing place. But it was not wholly bad. And there was no need to waste
time searching for the best ground. Hardly had Alan and Buck decided
that they were approaching the agreed upon spot when Buck’s eye caught
sight of a waiting automobile about a quarter of a mile north of the
suburban depot. Just beyond, in the midst of market gardens and on what
seemed to have once been a cricket ground, now awaiting the gardener’s
plow, an auto-truck and another automobile were in sight.

“These folks certainly ain’t goin’ to be lonesome,” smiled Buck. “I’ve
counted eight men. One o’ the cars is a motor truck!”

As Alan began a swinging volplane, Buck, his pilot duties ended, closed
his lips and hastened down the store room ladder. Ned was on the port
gallery examining the land beneath and the waiting group.

“Ned,” began Buck somewhat embarrassed, “what are you goin’ to do with
all the money you brought along?”

“Probably nothing. I hope so, at least,” answered Ned, his eyes still
squinting to make out the details of the waiting party still far below.
“But why?”

“I don’t want to ask these folks for money. I don’t know ’em. And I
haven’t enough.”

“Enough for what?” asked Ned, turning to Buck at last.

“Well, I thought—you know you said—I mean I said—I’d get off here if
you’d bring me along.”

[Illustration: THE END OF THE FLIGHT, LONDON.]

“You—” began Ned, open-mouthed.

“I know you’ve got a big load goin’ back. I’m expecting to get off
here.”

“You—” repeated Ned and he stopped.

“I thought may be you’d think I was countin’ on goin’ back with you.”

“You get ready to yank those supplies on board,” Ned managed to say at
last, “and shut up.”

That was the end of the episode so far as Buck was concerned. But when
Ned came to talk it over with Alan, the recollection of how Buck had
saved his life was enough to make Ned’s words short and choky.

When the heavy _Ocean Flyer_ at last sank to the ground and came to a
stop—the first in eighteen and one half hours’ constant flight—it was
plain that for a few moments at least its crew need fear no molestation.
Spectators had not yet begun to collect. One machine stood on the hard,
white highway. From it, as the _Flyer_ came to a stop, a figure sprang
out and rushed across the green. The man who greeted them, Mr. Phillips,
the business representative of the _Herald_, seemed to be under greater
strain than any of the young aviators who now dropped from the silent
_Flyer_.

There was an instant confusion of presentations in which Ned managed to
discover that Mr. Arthur Ballard, a man of about forty-five years with a
closely cropped beard and heavy spectacles, and a Mr. Fred Clarke, a
younger man of something over thirty, were the reporters who were to be
taken to New York. Each had his typewriter and Mr. Ballard carried a
case of clothing and a heavy coat.

The younger man’s equipment ran largely to a big pipe and some very
heavy English tobacco. These were in marked contrast to the silk hat and
elaborate afternoon clothes which he yet wore. Clarke had just come from
the coronation exercises in Westminster Abbey with no time to change his
clothes. And, in the ten minutes’ wait, he had been busy on his
typewriter with the beginning of his big story.

“Haven’t you a coat?” was Ned’s first inquiry.

“I haven’t even an extra handkerchief,” responded the younger reporter.
“My stuff is at the office. They picked me up and brought me here
directly.”

“It’s all right,” responded Ned, laughing, “We’ve plenty.”

Then, while the fusillade of questions rained on the boys, inquiries
about the trip and its incidents, Ned and Buck turned over their
messages for the _Herald_ and, answering as best they could, began the
important work of taking on supplies.

“Just a moment,” shouted a voice, “I’d like to get all of you. Mr.
Napier, would you mind taking Mr. Phillips’ hand? It’s a good stunt to
raise your hats a la Stanley greeting Dr. Livingstone. ‘Mr. Phillips
greeting Captain Napier at the end of the marvelous flight.’ What?
Please,” he added.

“It’s Bowman, the photographer,” explained Mr. Phillips laughing. “And
he’d have put it to King George the same way. We’ll have to do it.”

Raising his hat, Mr. Phillips stepped toward Ned with outstretched hand.
As Ned, a little embarrassed, did the same, Mr. Phillips exclaimed,
grasping the boy by the hand:

“Captain Ned Napier I believe!”

There was a snap.

“Once more,” shouted Mr. James Bowman, the irrepressible picture maker
and again the London manager and the _Flyer’s_ commander were “snapped.”
Without taking the time formally to meet those who were to carry him
across the sea, Mr. Bowman instantly plunged into a heap of cameras,
selected another kind and began a series of photographs of the big
airship.

The London party had come to Acton in two motors. Mr. Phillips, his
chauffeur and the photographer with his cameras, were in one, and the
two journalists and a chauffeur were in the other. The supply auto truck
carrying the _Flyer’s_ stores and an agent was early on the ground. It
was now one forty o’clock. Bob and Roy took charge of the London writers
while Ned, Alan and Buck threw off their coats and prepared to get the
gasoline, carboys of ether and lubricating castor oil aboard and in
their proper tanks.

Ned and Alan had no time to act the hosts to the London party. But it
was in good hands. Clambering gingerly up the landing ladder Mr.
Phillips and the well known reporters went aboard. As their luggage was
being stored in the state rooms Mr. Ballard remarked:

“I’m afraid we’re taking up some one’s sleeping apartments. But,
sleeping rooms in an airship! Fancy!”

“Don’t you bother about that,” answered Bob, with a smile. “We loafed,
comin’ across; took it easy and got some sleep. We’re goin’ back on
express time. We’re going to be there by two o’clock to-morrow morning,”
he added nonchalantly. “I reckon we won’t have much time to sleep—any of
us. Will you?”

“I won’t if I’m not sea sick,” answered the older journalist. “But I
never miss, going or coming.”

Leaving the two journalists and Mr. Phillips to Roy’s care, Bob hurried
to the assistance of Ned and Alan. The latter put him to work on the
engines, still hot from the long strain. The supply store representative
was a valuable aid. He had brought with him pumps, pipes and strainers
and in a few minutes the engine gallery of the airship looked like the
oil room of a liner. The gasoline was tested by the airship’s own gauges
and then, with the usual precautions, rapidly pumped aboard. Within ten
minutes several hundred persons had collected, among them several
suburban police. But as these seemed only interested in the details of
the big air vehicle and gave no signs of molesting the crew of the
airship the preparations for a new flight were continued without
excitement.

Buck’s work was the handling and storing of a few new supplies and fresh
water. This done he joined the London journalists. He received with
thankfulness a package of morning and early afternoon papers and then he
assisted Bowman, the photographer, in getting his outfit into the third
state room and in checking over the requirements for a dark room. The
photographer had brought developing pans, “hypos” and other liquids.

“If you need a lot of water,” suggested Buck, “you’d better lay it in
now. After we get goin’ it isn’t easy to run back and forth to the store
room.”

“Good,” exclaimed the photographer, “but I won’t need it till dark. I’m
goin’ to get every kind of a shot before we leave the land. And you can
bet I’ll run back and forth unless we’re standin’ on end. I’ve done
pictures in balloons and snapped mountain sheep. Don’t bother about me.”

Neither Ballard nor Clarke seemed to be specially keen about their
coming trip but as it was an assignment each went to it as readily as if
he had been ordered to the front in battle. Mr. Phillips was joking with
them when Ned and Alan reappeared.

“Are you ready, gentlemen?” Ned asked, looking at his watch.

It was six minutes of two o’clock. Mr. Phillips began shaking hands. The
other men nervously drew out their own watches and each smiled.

“We are a little ahead of time but the visitors are gettin’ thick. We
are ready,” continued Ned.

The London manager took Ned’s hand.

“I wish you the best of luck,” he said soberly.

“Wish us all the highest speed,” exclaimed Ned with a smile. “We’ve got
a job ahead of us that calls for it.”

With another good-bye all around Mr. Phillips clambered down the ladder
and instantly it was drawn up with a bang.

“Won’t you gentlemen go into your rooms until we are under way?” asked
Ned with something of authority in his voice.

As they did so each member of the crew went to his post. Alan and Buck
took the starboard and port galleries and with insistent demands drove
the spectators back. Again and again they yelled until all was clear
about the _Flyer_.

“All clear forward,” called Alan at last.

“All clear below,” yelled Buck in turn.

Slowly the propellers began to move. Then faster until the great ship
began to tremble.

“Good-bye,” came Mr. Phillips’ parting words.

“Good-bye,” answered Alan waving his cap as the _Flyer_ lifted its huge
shape into the air. “Report our departure two one P. M.”

The real test of the _Ocean Flyer_ had begun.



                              CHAPTER XXII

               EXTRACTS FROM THE LOG OF THE _Ocean Flyer_


“June 22, 2.1´ P. M. Left Acton (London). Fair S. W. wind. Thermometer
88°. Mr. Hope at wheel. Magnetic course, N. 55° 30´ W. (N. W. 7/8 W.)
Altitude 800 ft. Speed 176 miles per hour.

“June 22, 6.47´ 12´´ P. M. Finished fourth leg W. bound. Heavy S. W.
wind. Thermometer 68°. Mr. Napier at wheel. Magnetic course, N. 62° W.
(N. W. by W. 1/2 W.) Altitude 2,800 ft. Speed, 165 miles per hour. East
bound speed average of three miles per hour dropped to 2.75 miles.
Distance covered, 788 miles. Mr. Napier and Mr. Hope in consultation
over loss due to increasing S. W. wind. At 4 P. M., Mr. Ballard was too
ill to work. Mr. Clarke busy writing. Mr. Bowman working under
difficulties owing to the motion of the ship. Mr. Stewart served dinner
at 5.30´ P. M. Mr. Ballard did not appear. Mr. Bowman, the photographer,
has been forward many times. Interesting descriptions by him of the
royal pageant.

“June 22, 7.15´ P. M. At present rate of speed New York will be reached
in 19 hours and 30 minutes. Deducting time gained, in 14-1/2 hours or at
4.30´ A. M., June 23. Wind strong and steady S. W. Thermometer falling,
65°. Present speed, 2.72 miles per minute or 163 miles per hour. Mr.
Napier and Mr. Hope have gone over all calculations.

“June 22, 7.25´ P. M. Mr. Ballard has asked that Mr. Stewart be assigned
to take dictation on his newspaper work. Seems very ill. Mr. Clarke
complains of the cold and has borrowed a sweater.

“June 22, 7.30´ P. M. Captain Napier has decided to rise above wind
which continues strong. Passengers not notified.

“June 22, 9.48´ P. M. Finished seventh leg W. bound. Got above wind at
7.40´ P. M., rising to 4,000 feet; light breeze on that level S. by E.
Speed 180 miles per hour. Mr. Hope at wheel. Magnetic course N. 68 W.
(W. N. W.) Altitude 6,000 feet. Five hundred and forty miles have been
covered since 6.48´.24´´ total, west bound, 1,328 miles. Miles to New
York, 1,890.1. Difficulty calculating speed owing to quick rise and
special pressure in anemometer. Mr. Napier and Mr. Hope in frequent
consultation. Mr. Russell is preparing newspaper copy at his engine
post. Mr. Stewart yet engaged with Mr. Ballard.”

These brief and colorless notes by Observer Osborne give little
indication of what was occurring on the _Flyer_. When the last
calculation was made just before ten o’clock it was plain, unless a
change came at once that the great experiment was to be, in part at
least, a failure. With only one thousand three hundred and twenty-eight
miles covered in seven hours and forty-eight minutes the problem before
the aviators was hard enough.

Although by taking the 6,000 foot level at seven forty o’clock they had
escaped the stiff southwest breeze and had since averaged three miles a
minute they were now so far behind their schedule that one hundred and
eighty miles an hour would not save them from defeat. In addition, the
higher flight was telling on all. Mr. Clarke had borrowed an overcoat
and was working in gloves. Mr. Ballard was buried under blankets.

“We’ve got eighteen hundred and ninety miles before us,” explained
Captain Ned. “If we can’t beat a three mile a minute gait for that
distance, it’ll be nearly half past three o’clock in the morning when we
land. That makes it impossible to get anything—stories or pictures—in
the regular editions. And the biggest card of our assignment is to get
these things in the regular editions. An ‘extra’ will take the edge off
success.”

“Well,” said Alan determinedly, “you know we always have a last resort.
It means compressed air and polar temperature. But, there’s the high
altitude!”

“A shade under three miles and a half a minute will do it,” Ned
announced.

“That’s over two hundred miles an hour,” suggested Roy.

“It’s three and forty-two hundredths miles a minute,” added Ned, “or two
hundred and five and two-tenths miles an hour. We’ll try it!”

“Can you watch the compressed air tubes and gauges and keep up your
other work?” asked Alan, turning to Roy.

“We’ll have to do that,” broke in Ned. “Let Roy stick to his work. He’s
got to watch the aerometer readings and the wind pressure chart. We’ll
all know when the _air_ is wrong, but his speed figures must be
watched.”

“Are you goin’ to tell our passengers?” asked Roy.

“We’ll have Buck watch their rooms and open the foul air exhausts when
it’s necessary,” suggested Ned. “Bob can watch the lower compartments—”

“How about the temperature? If we get down below freezing, they’ll know
that something is wrong,” Alan exclaimed.

“We’ll cross that bridge when we reach it,” argued Ned.

This decided, Ned hastened below to advise Bob of the desperate chance
to be taken. Together the two boys overhauled the heavy clothing in the
store room and got it into the pilot house.

“I hope it won’t get too cold,” Bob said in the midst of their efforts.
“I’m workin’ on my story of the trip across and back.” He showed Ned a
bunch of neat copy. “I’m keepin’ it down but it’s a pretty big story.”

When Buck was summoned from Mr. Ballard’s stateroom, he received the
notification of what was to be done, with no excitement. It was apparent
that his present work almost wholly engrossed his thoughts.

“How’s your patient?” asked Alan laughing.

“Mr. Ballard? Oh, he’s all right. I mean he’s all wrong. That is, he’s
still sick. He’s been asleep.”

“Asleep?” exclaimed Ned. “And what have you been doin’ meanwhile?
Holdin’ his hands?”

“Why, I’m writin’ his story.”

“While he’s asleep?”

“Sure! Why not? Someone has to do it. But—ssh! Don’t say a word to that
fellow Clarke!”

“How are you writin’ if he’s asleep?” persisted Ned curiously.

“Oh, he told me a lot himself and then there’s the papers they brought
aboard—”

“And you’re makin’ a story out of that? When you weren’t near the
place!”

“Mr. Bowman was!” went on Buck chafing his stiffened fingers. “And I
think he saw more than Mr. Ballard did. I’m gettin’ along all right.”

“Well,” exclaimed Alan, “be sure that our guests do. We’re goin’ up
considerable and if you get too busy ‘assisting’ Mr. Ballard you may
kill ’em all. Watch your exhausts in the three rooms. Don’t suffocate
yourself and them—”

“What time is it?” broke in Buck, his mind back on his work already.

“Ten o’clock!”

“Oh, that’s all right. I’ll be through by one or half past—maybe.”

“And at twelve o’clock,” said Ned, “remember that coffee and food is
due.”

With a last examination of all ports and doors, at ten o’clock, Ned at
the barometer and barograph and Roy at the aerometer and statoscope,
Alan headed the _Flyer_ still further skyward. At twelve o’clock,
midnight, the following entry appeared in the _Flyer_ log:

“June 22, 12 midnight. Have made 439 miles since 9, 48´ 24´´. Time
between observations 2, 11´ 36´´ or 3.33 miles a minute. Between 3.40
and 3.50 miles a minute expected on 1,451.1 miles yet to be covered. All
suffering from cold. Thermometer 6° above zero. Altitude 24,612 feet. No
trouble with fuel or oil. Lubricator heaters turned on at 10.30 o’clock.
Air funnel working well but must be watched closely. On instructions
from Captain Napier New York time now substituted for London time. New
York time of this entry is 7 P. M.”

For seven long hours after this entry was made in the log of the _Ocean
Flyer_, the giant airship sped like a shooting star toward the distant
west. Above the clouds and above the unseen sea, it held its course with
never a lessening beat of its ceaseless engines. To most of those within
the spectre shape, time and distance had now lost their meaning. Each
port and window was heavy with frost and each occupant was shivering
from the intense cold. By ten o’clock few sounds were heard except the
heavy purr of the engine and the vibrant notes of the great wings as
they cracked in the wintry air. Talk had ceased except in the few low
words that passed at intervals between the man at the wheel and Roy at
the observer’s table—the limbs of the latter stiff under the furs he
wore but his brain active under the pressure of the work that meant so
much to all.

Mr. Ballard was yet silent beneath extra clothing and blankets. In the
next room the photographer shivered beneath the doubled bed covers. Buck
and Mr. Clarke sat with Bob in the engine room, cold but philosophical,
making talk of the journey and what it meant. After thirteen hours of
work, the coronation story and Mr. Bowman’s pictures were ready for the
_Herald_. Copy and pictures, carefully marked and sealed, were enclosed
in wrappings. Four hours more and the strain would be at an end—or
worse.

A stupor had fallen on the physical activity of Ned, Alan and Bob. But
their mental alertness had not dulled. With no more words than were
necessary, the three young men guided the wonderful craft onward as they
steeled themselves against the dread of failure and the numbing cold.
Just after ten o’clock, New York time, Buck served hot tea to the silent
ones in the pilot room.

“We’re almost over the ocean, aren’t we?” he asked, chattering.

“I think we were over Newfoundland about nine thirty o’clock,” answered
Ned in a tired voice. “What’s the time, now?” he asked abruptly of Alan
who was then at the wheel.

“Ten six,” was the brief answer.

“And the course?” he added, facing Roy.

“West, one-half south,” answered Roy without spirit. It was the third
time he had announced this in the last half hour. By his figures the
_Flyer_ was over Fogo Island at 9:36 P. M.

“What d’ you know about that?” yelled Buck climbing awkwardly down the
ladder. “We’re over America again—a half hour ago.”

“How far is it now?” asked Mr. Clarke, slowly as if the words were an
effort.

“Only eleven hundred miles,” answered Bob.

“Eleven hundred—?” sighed the London reporter. Then he became silent and
his head sank between his numb, gloved hands.

At eleven o’clock Buck and Bob prepared food—soup and coffee. Mr.
Ballard and the photographer were the only ones who ate nothing. The
_Flyer_ was now at an altitude of 31,000 feet and Captain Napier took
his coffee standing with his eyes on the compressed air gauge. A few
pounds too much pressure and all felt the extra supply by the pains in
their chests and heads. The thermometer had now dropped to two degrees
above zero.

When the chronometer showed twelve thirty o’clock, Roy prepared to make
a new calculation. He climbed down the ladder for a cup of tea to
quicken his brain. Bob alone was awake. But he sat gazing stolidly at
the engine and did not even notice Roy’s entrance. The London reporter
and Buck sat crouched together and sound asleep. With a supply of tea
for Alan and Ned, Roy returned to his desk. Wearily getting the time
again—and the thirty-four hours in which he had been doing this
constantly, seemed a week—he read his aerometer, calculated the wind
pressure charts and then, to his last figures, added the advance.

“Captain,” he said at last, “we’re only a little over three hundred
miles from New York.”

For a moment this seemed to have no special significance. Then Ned
aroused himself.

“It’s only two hundred and five miles from New York to Ipswich. Are we
goin’ to make it?”

“It’s twelve thirty o’clock now,” was Roy’s answer. “Our calculated
position is three hundred and nine miles out.”

“And what can we do that in?”

Rousing himself again, Roy figured a few moments.

“One hour, thirty-four minutes and forty-eight seconds,” he reported.

“That’s nearly five minutes after two, isn’t it? Well, it’s close
enough.”

“Hadn’t we better come down?” asked Alan as he tried to warm his left
hand under his arm. Ned looked at the barograph. It marked 29,640 feet.

“To one thousand feet,” he responded.

“Watch your gauge and pressure,” suggested Alan and, as he depressed the
_Flyer’s_ bow, Ned recharged the ship with compressed, polar air.
Gradually the airship sped toward the earth. In two minutes the crisply
glittering stars winked out and the _Flyer_ was in an opaque mist. In
two minutes more a patter on the frost covered windows alarmed the boys.
Then Roy arose and unlocked the port door. A gust of rain swept into the
room. At the same moment the cabin lights paled and then a fog filled
the compartment. The boys lost sight of each other and of the
instruments near them.

“We’re in a fog bank!” exclaimed Roy.

“It’s our own,” shouted Ned. “We’re near the ground and it’s June. The
car was filled with zero atmosphere. It’s condensing.”

“Everything’s covered with water,” added Alan.

Ned groped about and threw open all ports and doors. The fog cleared
almost as quickly as it came. In four minutes the thermometer jumped
from 2° above zero to 65°. As the comparatively hot wave rolled into the
car Alan dropped lower, looking for lights or landmarks. The quick drop
again interfered with Roy’s figures but at 12.45 o’clock Alan relieved
all doubt.

“Two fixed white lights,” he shouted. “Looks like Thatcher’s Island
lighthouse. Hold the wheel while I peel these togs.”

At the same moment the door of the adjoining state room opened and Mr.
Arthur Ballard, encased in sweaters and a fur coat, exclaimed:

“The roof is leakin’. I’m soaked through.” The thermometer was now 78°.
“Where are we?”

“Ipswich, Massachusetts,” exclaimed Roy. “Change cars for Boston.”

Tossing his polar garments to the floor Roy made this entry in his log:

“June 23; 12, 59´ 11´´ A. M. Thatcher’s Island light abeam to starboard.
Between 12.30 and 12.40 A. M. descended from 29,640 feet altitude to 700
feet. Temperature rose from 2° above zero to 78°. Rain falling and
weather sultry. Ipswich, Mass., lights ahead. Course for New York,
Battery, S. 79° 30´ E. (E. by S.) Last leg 210 miles. Low level speed
180 miles an hour. Probable time of end of journey 1, 10´ plus 12, 59´
11´´ or 2, 9´ 11´´ A. M. Mr. Napier at wheel again.”

With a word to Ned and a nod in reply, Alan hastened below. Those in the
engine room were yet swathed in extra clothing and calling for
explanations. Seizing Bob, Alan announced the situation—to the relief of
all—and then instructed Russell to attempt to get in touch by wireless
with the _Herald_. The store room was soon aglow from the flashes of the
snapping condenser. In fifteen minutes Bob’s call was answered. Then,
with short interruptions, this message was forwarded:

“_Ocean Flyer_ west of Ipswich one o’clock on time all well Ballard
Clarke Russell stories ready pictures O K best time two hundred five
two-tenths miles hour highest altitude thirty-one thousand feet coldest
weather two degrees above zero reach office few minutes after two
congratulations _Herald_ enterprise answer.”

Within a few minutes came this message in reply:

“Congratulations unparalleled success presses waiting, estimate exact
time arrival if possible. _Herald_.”

“Two ten,” flashed the answer.

Then, a little later, followed this wireless to the _Herald_ operator:

“Forward Chicago Mary Hope Beverly Hills. In America again safe and
well. Alan and Ned.”

But the wireless figures were not exactly correct. Picking out lights,
the detour to find South Norwalk, a slow-down in the Sound as the
bridges were approached and then the rise as the _Flyer_ headed over the
sleeping metropolis to trace its way north by the winking lights of
Broadway, threw Roy out in his calculations. When the green lights
marking the signal diamond on the _Herald_ roof flashed out no one on
board noted the hour. Checking and sinking between the buildings on
either side, the _Flyer_ floated over _Herald_ square. As a bag dropped
on the _Herald_ roof with a crash the manager of that newspaper glanced
at his watch. It was twelve minutes after two o’clock.

At the moment Ned whirled the wing wheel for a new lift a loud voiced
boy dashed from the rear of the _Herald building_.

“Here y’ar; extry papia; all ’bout big airplane crossin’ ’Lantic ocean;
papia, double extry _Hurld_!”

On the first page of the damp sheets under the boy’s arm—and the first
loaded wagon of extras was now rattling down Broadway—was the story Buck
and Bob had written three days before. In display type above this was
printed this bulletin:

“The first aeroplane to cross the Atlantic Ocean reached the _Herald_
office at ten minutes after two o’clock this morning. It left London at
one minute after two o’clock yesterday afternoon. Distance traveled
3,218.1 miles. Time, twelve hours and eight minutes. Highest speed,
205.2 miles an hour. Greatest altitude, 31,000 feet. Lowest temperature,
2° above zero. The monster triple-planed _Ocean Flyer_, with a daring
crew of five men, has conquered the air at last. Under the auspices of
the _Herald_ and _Telegram_, Captain Ned Napier and his associate Alan
Hope, left New York Wednesday, June 21, at one o’clock, twenty-one
minutes and twenty-two seconds in the afternoon. Their monster aeroplane
successfully crossed the Atlantic—traversing Massachusetts, the Gulf of
Maine, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, 1,709 miles of trackless water,
Ireland, the Irish Sea—and delivered the plates of the _Telegram’s_
special coronation edition safely to the _Herald_ representatives in
Hyde Park, London, at twenty-five minutes after one o’clock the next
day. The story of the preparations for these marvelous feats, with a
full description of the _Ocean Flyer_, its unique ideas and a detailed
account of its now celebrated crew, appears below.”

Then followed a full page of the matter that Bob and Buck had written
and a graphic story, written by night city editor Latimer, of how the
_Herald_ discovered the _Ocean Flyer_, of the “beat” that was not
printed and a full account of Ned Napier and Alan Hope, the “Airship
Boys.”

When the _Ocean Flyer_ reached the yards of the aeroplane factory in
Newark fifteen minutes later and came to a final stop, there was no more
demonstration than might have followed a half hour’s flight out over the
marshes. President Atkinson was awaiting his friends. As he took Ned’s
hand he handed him a telephone message just received. It read:

“Heartiest congratulations to Captain Ned Napier and his associates on
accomplishing the greatest feat of the age; an airship journey from
London to New York in twelve hours. Consider contract carried out.
Editor _Herald_.”


------------------------------------------------------------------------

       ---------------------------------------------------------

This is the sixth story in the AIRSHIP BOYS Series. The seventh is
entitled THE AIRSHIP BOYS AS DETECTIVES Or, Secret Service in
Cloudland. This worthy successor of the OCEAN FLYER deals with the
fascinating task of guarding both frontiers of the United States,
bringing into play the most modern and effective means—the airship.
Accurate information—exciting situations—rapid action—thrilling
adventures—make this story one every boy will want to read.

For other titles in this Series see Page 2.

       ---------------------------------------------------------

------------------------------------------------------------------------



                            Transcriber’s Notes:

    Italicized phrases are presented by surrounding the text with
    _underscores_. Boldface phrases are presented by surrounding the
    text with equal signs. Small capitals have been rendered in full
    capitals.

    Punctuation has been standardized. Minor spelling and typographic
    errors have been corrected silently except as noted below.
    Hyphenated words have been retained as they appear in the original
    text, except as noted below.

    The inconsistent spelling of "employe" (versus "employee") has been
    left as is.

    The inconsistent capitalization of "Fleet street" versus "Fleet
    Street" has been left as is.

    The inconsistent usage of "air craft" versus "aircraft" has been
    left as is.

    In several places throughout the book, inconsistent usage of the
    degree symbol (°) has been left as is.

    On page 31, "shiplike" changed to "ship-like" to be consistent with
    other usage in the book.

    On page 31, "inclosed" changed to "enclosed" to be consistent with
    other usage in the book.

    On page 67, "day-time" changed to "daytime" to be consistent with
    other usage in the book and with contemporary usage of the time
    period.

    On page 129, "trans-atlantic" changed to "transatlantic" to be
    consistent with other usage in the book and with contemporary usage
    of the time period.

    On page 186, "sustention" changed to "suspension" in "...the spring
    hooks released the sustention cable...". While "sustention" was used
    in that time period (and is still), it has a somewhat different
    meaning that what is implied in the sentence.

    On page 201, "skysickness" changed to "sky sickness" to be
    consistent with other usage in the book.

    On page 268, "Fogo Island and one fifty-one A. M." has been left as
    is, although the stated time calculation should yield "one
    fifty-nine A. M.".

    On page 269, the chapter number has been changed from "IX" to "XIX".





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