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Boy Scouts in an Airship by G. Harvey Ralphson

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Boy Scouts in an Airship;

or, The Warning From the Sky




Gates, the United States Secret Service man, closed the door gently
and remained standing just inside the room, his head bent forward in
a listening attitude. Ned Nestor and Jimmie McGraw, Boy Scouts of
the Wolf Patrol, New York City, who had been standing by a window,
looking out on a crowded San Francisco street, previous to the
sudden appearance of the Secret Service man, turned toward the
entrance with smiles on their faces.

They evidently thought that Gates was posing, as so many detectives
have a silly habit of doing, and so gave little heed to the hand he
lifted in warning. The boys knew little about Gates at that time,
and so may be pardoned for the uncomplimentary thoughts with which
they noted his theatrical conduct.

Young Nestor had been engaged by the United States government to
undertake a difficult and dangerous mission to South America, and
Gates had been sent on from Washington to post him as to the details
of the case. The boys had waited at the San Francisco hotel three
days for the arrival of the Secret Service man, and waited
impatiently, as Sam Leroy, who was to be the third member of the
party, was anxious for the safety of his aeroplane, the Nelson, in
which the trip to "the roof of the world" was to be made.

The Nelson was lying, guarded night, and day, in a field just out of
the city, on the Pacific side, and Leroy was impatiently keeping his
eyes on the guards most of the time. There was a subconscious
notion in the minds of all the boys that there were enemies about,
and that the aeroplane would never be fully out of danger until she
was well over the ocean on her way south. Gates had arrived only
that morning, and now the lads were eager to be off.

A couple of hours before his appearance in the room that morning,
the Secret Service agent had left the boys in the lobby below to
arrange for the necessary papers and funds for the mission. Before
going out, however, he had been informed of the boys' suspicions,
and had made light of the idea that the aeroplane was in danger from
secret enemies, pointing to the fact that no one was supposed to
know anything about the proposed journey save the boys and himself
as conclusive evidence that the suspicion of constant surveillance
was not well founded.

Now, on his return, his cautious movements indicated that he, too,
was alarmed and on his guard. While Ned was wondering what it was
that had so changed Gates' point of view, there came a quick,
imperative knock on the door of the room, which was occupied by Ned
and Jimmie as a sleeping apartment.

Instantly, almost before the sound of the knock died away, Gates
opened the door and stepped forward. The man who stood in the
corridor, facing the doorway, was tall, slender, dark of complexion,
like a Spaniard or a Mexican. His black hair was long, straight,
thin; his black eyes were bright, treacherous, too close together,
with a little vertical wrinkle between the brows. He was dressed in
a neat brown business suit of expensive material.

When the door was opened he stepped forward and glanced into the
interior of the room, apparently with the purpose of entering. But
when Gates moved aside to give him passageway he drew back, the set
smile on his face vanishing as he bowed low and swung his slender
hands out in elaborate gesture.

"Pardon!" he said. "I have made a mistake in the room."

He was about to move away when Gates gritted out a question.

"For whom were you looking?" he asked. "We may be able to direct you
to your friend," he added, more courteously, his alert eyes taking
in every detail of the man's face, figure and dress.

"It is nothing!" was the quick reply. "I will make inquiries at the
office--which, undoubtedly, I should have done before."

In a moment he was gone, moving gracefully toward the elevator.
Gates watched his elegant, well-dressed figure with a smile of quiet
satisfaction. When the visitor gained the elevator, he turned and
bowed at the still open doorway, and the Secret Service man
recognized the grin on his face as expressive of triumph rather than

"What did he want?" asked Jimmie, as Gates, closed the door.

Gates did not answer the question immediately. Instead he asked

"Ever see that fellow before?"

Jimmie shook his head, but Ned looked grave as he answered:

"I have seen him about the hotel--frequently. He seems to have a
suite off this corridor, or the one above it."

At this moment the door was opened again and Sam Leroy bounced into
the room, his eyes shining with enthusiasm, his muscles tense with
the joy of youth and health. He drew back when he saw Gates, whom
he had not met before, and looked questioningly at Ned.

"This is Lieutenant Gates, for whom we have been waiting," Ned said,
"and this, Lieutenant, is Sam Leroy, who is to take us to South
America in his aeroplane."

"I hope the machine is above reproach as to strength and speed,"
laughed Gates, as the two shook hands cordially, "for there is
likely to be doings down there."

"The Nelson is warranted for work and wind," said Ned. "She crossed
the continent in a rush and spied on us through British Columbia and
on down the Columbia river, not long ago, and I can recommend her as
a very desirable bird of the air."

"She's all sound now," Leroy said, "but there's no knowing how long
she will be if we don't get her out of San Francisco. There was a
couple of men hanging around her last night, and one of them went
away with a bullet in his leg. I'm glad you're here, Lieutenant,
for now we can get away--quick!"

"Did you get a good look at either of the two men you speak of?"
asked Ned, his mind going back to what seemed to him to be a secret
conspiracy against the Nelson.

"One of them," Leroy answered, "was tall, slender, dark; with long
straight hair and eyes like a snake. I noticed, too, that he had a
habit of moistening his lips with the end of his tongue, and that
made me think of a snake thrusting out his tongue. I got a shot at
the other fellow, but not at this one."

Gates and Ned looked at each other with nods of mutual
understanding. This was a pretty good description of the man who
had just stood before the door of that room. Then the lieutenant
turned to Jimmie.

"You asked a moment ago," he said, "what the fellow wanted here.
Now I think I can tell you. He wanted to confirm his suspicions
that the four of us axe working together. He has been sleuthing
about the corridors all the morning, watching me; and his mission to
this room was to make sure that my business in San Francisco is with
Ned--that we are working together."

"He's sure doing a lot of Sherlock Holmes stunts," Jimmie declared.
"And I reckon he's next to his job, for he appears to have inspected
all the points of interest, from the field where the Nelson is to
the room where the plans are being made."

"Yes," Leroy said, his manner showing apprehension as well as anger,
"but how the Old Scratch did he get his knowledge, of what, we are
about to do? I thought no one in the West knew except us four. And
what's he trying to do, anyway? What difference does it make to him
if we do go to South America in an aeroplane?"

"I have a notion," Gates replied, "that he objects to your going in
an airship because you will make such swift time. Let me tell you
something more about this case. Then you will be able to understand
why efforts may be made to prevent your going to South America, in
an airship or in any other way."

"It's just the airship they've been after so far," Leroy
interrupted. "They haven't troubled us--and they'd better not!"

"I imagine," said the lieutenant, gravely, "that their activities
will broaden out as they get warmed up to their work. Understand?
What I mean is this: You boys are risking your lives in undertaking
this mission. You will be followed and spied upon from the minute
you leave San Francisco, and the chances will be all against you
when you reach your field of operations. Even the Government cannot
protect you in your undertaking, for the Government is not supposed
to know anything about this case."

"We are to do something by stealth, then, which the diplomats of the
State department are too cautious to undertake?" asked Ned.

"That is it exactly," was the reply. "If the State department
should take cognizance of the situation down there and make any sort
of a demand, war would be certain to follow in case the demand was
denied, which it would be. Therefore, the State department does not
wish to make a demand. Still, the American who is in trouble must
be protected. You are to go and get him out of his dungeon, or
wherever he may be, and the Department of State will wink at what
you do and look innocent."

"Aw, why don't they send a warship to do the job?" demanded Jimmie.

"Because," replied the lieutenant, "Uncle Sam has taken the
republics of South America under his protection, and he does not
care to spank them in the presence of all the nations of the earth!
He wants to get this man Lyman--Horace M. Lyman, to be exact--out of
the clutches of a crooked gang in Paraguay without wasting money and
lives. Hence the arrangement with you boys."

"I have read something about the Lyman case," Ned observed, "but I
have forgotten all the material points, I guess."

"Lyman," Gates went on, "took up his residence in Paraguay some
years ago and opened negotiations with the government for a cattle
concession. The lands known as the 'Chaco' district, lying between
the Paraguay and Pilcomayo rivers, are said to be the best for
grazing purposes in all South America. Years ago they were
considered worthless swamps, but this is all changed now.

"Well, Lyman entered into negotiations with the president of this
alleged republic and got his concession. There is no knowing how
much he paid for it, for every new president of Paraguay--and they
have new ones quite frequently down there--seems to do business on
the theory that what he doesn't get while the getting is good he
never will get at all. There have been four or five new official
heads of this alleged republic within a couple of years.

"The country is on the verge of revolution most of the time and as
the army goes so goes the election. Jara was made prisoner last
July, and one Rojes put in power. Now, in order to keep in good
standing with the army, the government is obliged to have generals
who are loyal to whoever is in power. These generals must be paid
for their services, of course.

"It seems that Lyman fell under the displeasure of one of these
powerful military chaps, probably because he refused to give up all
his profits in the cattle business. Anyway, Lyman disappeared from
home, quite suddenly, and his manager was notified that settlement
could be made with one Senor Lopez, an army chief, said to be a
relative of a former president. So Lopez was appealed to.

"Now Lopez is a slippery chap. He denied knowing anything about
Lyman, but declared that unless the cattleman appeared shortly and
took up his work on the cattle concession the grant would be taken
from him. That is like South American justice. Lock a man up and
then deprive him of his rights because he can't appear and claim

"Must be a fine healthy country!" Jimmie interposed.

"It is all of that," laughed the lieutenant. "Then this manager, I
think his name is Coye, appealed to the United States consul and the
consul to the president. Nothing doing! Lyman, they insisted, had
not been molested by the authorities. But Lyman's people in this
country are kicking up an awful row, and something must be done.

"There is no doubt that the cattleman, is locked up in some of the
old military prisons of the country, yet the State department can't
get him out. The president offers any assistance in his power, of
course! Lopez weeps when the matter is mentioned to him--weeps at
the unfounded suspicions which are being cast upon him! So there
you are! The only hope for Lyman lies in some such method as has
been planned. If you fail, the situation will be desperate,

"Why don't Lyman buy the fellow off?" asked Jimmie.

"The purpose of Lopez in pursuing the course referred to is
undoubtedly to find an excuse for robbing Lyman of the concession
and selling it to another at a much greater price. So others
besides the general and Lyman are concerned in this mix-up."

"You refer to a person, or corporation, waiting to buy the
concession?" asked Ned, the reason for the surveillance in San
Francisco coming to him like a flash.

"That is it."

"And these prospective concessionaires are looking to it that Lyman
gets no aid from this country?"

"I had not looked at the matter in that way, had not thought of
their venturing over here, but presume you are right."

"Look here," Leroy asked, "are you figuring it out that the people
who are trying to steal or cripple the Nelson came here from
Paraguay for the express purpose of watching this Lyman case and
preventing his friends from assisting him?"

"You state the case in a way which gives it a good deal of
importance," Gates replied, "But I believe you state it correctly.
Just how the men who hope to gain the concession if Lyman loses it
came to understand the attitude of our Government is more than I can
imagine, but it is quite clear to me that they do understand the
situation--that they are thoroughly posted as to every move that has
been made by the Government and by the friends of the cattleman."

"It is a good thing to know that we are likely to be chased to South
America," Ned said, "for we know exactly what to expect, and shall
be on our guard."

"Chased to South America!" laughed Leroy. "They'll have to go some
if the keep up with the little old Nelson! She can fly some--if you
want to know!"



Nelson hung like a great gull over New Orleans one hot morning in
early August. The boys who occupied seats on the light aluminum
form under the sixty-foot wings glimpsed the Gulf of Mexico in the
distance, while directly their feet ran the crooked streets of the
French Quarter.

The departure from San Francisco had been for a delayed for a long
time because of the non-arrival of important instructions from
Washington, and because of a slight injury to the aeroplane while
out on what Leroy called an "exercise run." Lieutenant Gates had
remained with the boys until they started on their long flight to
the mouth of the great Mississippi river, and had then returned to

I had first been the intention to proceed due from San Francisco,
then wing toward the east where the coast of Peru showed. This plan
was opposed by the lieutenant, for the reason that an airship far
out on the Pacific ocean, directly in the steamship route, would be
likely to attract attention sailing over the southwestern states and
Central America. Daring aviators now venture in all directions and
at all altitudes above the solid earth, but they are still cautious
about proceeding far out over the merciless waters of the oceans
which rim the continent of North America.

So, yielding to the wishes of the lieutenant, the Nelson had been
directed by her navigators across California, Arizona, New Mexico,
Texas and Louisiana until the great city of the South lay spread out
before them. The distance covered by the airship in this flight was
not far from thirty-five hundred miles, and the Nelson, leaving the
coast city on Monday morning, August 7, had covered the run so as to
reach New Orleans late Wednesday afternoon.

The boys might, it is true, have speeded up and made the distance in
thirty-six hours, or less but they realized the necessity of taking
good care of themselves, and so they had rested in quiet places both
Monday and Tuesday night, landing about midnight and sleeping until
long after daylight. Having provisions with them, they had not
found it necessary to land except when gasoline was obtained at
Santa Fe.

The machine had attracted little attention on the route, for it was
painted a dull gray, and its aluminum motors gave forth little
sound. It was two merits of the machine, which had been invented by
young Leroy, that it could navigate in a clear sky a mile up without
being observed from below, and could also run to within a short
distance of the earth without making herself conspicuous by the
popping of her motors. The United States authorities are now
adapting these two qualities to the government airships to be used
in the military service.

The boys remained in New Orleans until Thursday morning, August 10,
and then, with full provision baskets and gasoline tanks, they set
out across the Gulf of Mexico. They soon sighted Yucatan, which is
really a province of Mexico, darted over British Honduras, and swung
over the forests of Guatemala, the one country in Central America
which is never bothered with revolutions.

When an ambitious person wants to wrest the reins of government from
the officials in charge, they take him out and stand him up against
a stone wall, with a firing squad in front. This manner of
preventing revolutions is believed to be conducive to peace and also
to the sanctity of human lives. Jimmie, who had been reading up on
South and Central America while waiting in San Francisco, explained
many points of interest as the Nelson sped on her way.

They took on more gasoline at Panama, and Ned and Jimmie were very
glad to renew their acquaintance with that now model city. Those
who have read the former books of this series will remember that the
Boy Scouts at one time had a commission to stand guard over the
great Gatun dam.

They did not remain long in Panama, however, as they were anxious to
get to the scene of their future operations. They were all
anticipating great fun in exploring "the roof of the world," which
extends from Colombia to Argentina, north and south, through
Equator, Peru, and Bolivia, more than 2,000 miles, or as far as from
New York City to Denver. In many directions from this "roof" may be
seen villages, cattle, sheep, llamas, and evidences of mining.

The boys made good progress down the coast of tropical South
America. They had heard much of Peru, and were surprised to see
only a great strip of sand, lying like a desert, between the Pacific
and the mountains. Now and then a little stream, fed by the melting
snows in the Andes, comes trailing out toward the sea, but it is
usually smaller at its mouth than at its source for the reason that
the precious water is utilized for irrigation purposes. Wherever
there is water crops grow luxuriantly.

Thus far they had not been molested in any way. Indeed, considering
the speed with which they had traveled, it would have been difficult
for any one to have meddled with their plans. They were therefore
in excellent spirits when they landed at Lima, which is the one
large city of the country.

Lima, however, is not built on the coast, Callao being the seaport
of the metropolis. Lima is a modern city in every way, with,
handsome streets, electric lights, and all that any modern city has
in the way of amusements.

The Nelson was anchored on the morning of August 14, in a
sequestered spot, and the boys, after answering many foolish
questions, laid plans to look over the wonderful city. It was
necessary to station a strong guard about the machine, for the
natives--many of whom spoke the English language fairly well--were
overly curious concerning the man-made bird.

In answer to all questions as to their plans, the lads replied that
they were seeking the headwaters of the Amazon, and would soon pass
over the Andes and drift down into Brazil. This was not far from
the actual truth, as it really was the Intention to return home by
that route after their mission had been accomplished.

"But the wind is always from the east," was often urged against this
plan, as explained by Jimmie, who lingered about the Nelson while
the others were at the hotel.

When it was explained to the doubters that the Nelson was capable of
making a hundred miles an hour against a stiff breeze, the natives
seemed to doubt the veracity of the boys. The Peruvians knew little
of airships, and when Jimmie exhibited to them daily newspapers
showing how Germany was building a fleet of three hundred airships
to use in case of war, they still looked incredulous.

"Look here, fellers," Jimmie explained to them, later in the
afternoon of the arrival, as a group of curious ones stood about the
roped-in enclosure where the Nelson lay, "I guess you don't know
much about the navigation of the air. It used to be risky; now it
is no more so than riding on a railroad train."

"You say it well!"

The words were spoken in good English, seemingly in a boy's voice,
and Jimmie peered through his audience in order to catch a glimpse
of the speaker. Presently, above the heads which surrounded him,
the boy saw a hand and arm extended. The palm was out, the thumb
and little finger flat and crossed, the three remaining fingers held
straight out. The full salute of the Boy Scouts.

"Say, you!" the lad cried out, greatly pleased at finding a Boy
Scout there. "Where did you get that?"

"Scouted for it!" was the reply.

"What does it read?"

"Be prepared!"

"Where from?" was the next question.

"Fox Patrol, Chicago."

"You must be pretty foxy," Jimmie laughed, "to get away off here."

The member of the Fox Patrol now made his way through the crowd and
extended a hand to Jimmie.

"You don't look as if it paid to be a Fox," laughed the latter.

The boy certainly did look like a tramp. He was a lad of about
sixteen, well formed as to figure and attractive as to feature, with
bright blue eyes, long, fair hair, and a complexion which would have
been perfect only for the grime upon it. He blushed as Jimmie
looked him over, and involuntarily turned his eyes down to his
ragged clothing and broken shoes.

"Forget that!" Jimmie cried, in a moment. "I didn't mean anything
by it. Where you stopping?"

The fact was that Jimmie suspected from the appearance of the lad
that he was hungry as well as ragged and dirty. He certainly looked
hungry. The boy hesitated before replying, his hands deep in his
trousers pockets, his eyes on the ground. Then a whimsical smile
came to his face and he looked Jimmie squarely in the face.

"No use of lyin' about it," he said. "I'm stoppin' down here at the
Blue Sky Hotel. It's a dandy place to stop at. They never present
a board bill."

Jimmie sat back on the rope which was drawn about the Nelson to keep
meddlesome ones away from the machine and burst into a roar of
laughter. The crowd looked on stupidly, glancing from boy to boy,
and then at one another, as if wondering if these Americans always
went crazy when they met in a foreign land.

"I know that Blue Sky Hotel," Jimmie said, presently, "though I've
never heard it called by that name before. I had a room in one, in
Central Park, New York, until a sparrow cop drove me out of it. I
liked it because I didn't have to dress for dinner there," he added,

"The feed is rather slim," observed the other.

"It's run on the European plan," grinned Jimmie. "You get your
sleepins, an' no one cares whether you get your eatin's or not.
What's your name?"

"Dougherty--Mike Dougherty, Clark street, south of Van Buren!"

"I guess you must be French," Jimmie grinned.

"You've guessed it. Now, what's your name, and what are you boys
doin' here with this old sky-ship?"

"I'll tell you all about it when we get back to the hotel," Jimmie
replied. "Do you know any of the gazabos about here? I want some
one to watch the ginks who are watchin' the mutts who are watchin'
the aeroplane."

Dougherty laughed at this suggestion of a treble surveillance and
pointed out a lanky looking individual who was studying the machine
closely from the outer side of the roped-circle.

"That's Pedro," he said. "He's all right. About all I've had to
eat since I came here he's given me. He's a Peruvian Indian, and in
need of money. Give him a dollar, and he'll guard your guards a
month, and never leave the machine, night or day."

"Does he talk United States?"

"Oh, just a little."

Pedro talked quite a little United States, as Jimmie called it, and
a bargain was soon struck with him. Then the two boys started away
together. First they visited a clothing store, where Jimmie looked
at the best suits in stock, and measured Dougherty cautiously with
his eyes. A full outfit of under and outer clothing provided, they
proceeded to the hotel, where Jimmie ushered his new-found friend
into a commodious bathroom.

"Remove some of your real estate," the boy said, "an' hop into these
new clothes. They ain't very nobby, but the best I could get here."

Mike Dougherty stood looking at Jimmie for a moment as if he could
not believe what he heard. It had been a long time since he had
been clean and properly clothed. Then there came a suspicious
moisture to his keen eyes and he turned away.

"Oh, well," he said, with a tremble in his clear young voice, "mebbe
I'll be able to pay you back some day. Just now I'm--"

"Cut it out!" Jimmie replied. "You hain't got anythin' on me. I've
been there meself, an' the Boy Scout that helped me out told me to
pass it along. That's what I'm doin' now, and there's nothin' more
to be said. When you get washed and dressed, come on to No. 4,
that's the second room from this tub, on the left of the corridor,
an' I'll show you the rest of the bunch."

Jimmie went away to No. 4, where Ned and Sam Leroy were waiting for
him. Somehow, it seemed to Ned that Jimmie kept him waiting about
half the time when they were in a strange city. The little fellow
had a way of wandering off alone and forgetting all about time in
his delight at the strange things he saw. When he entered No. 4 he
found Ned standing near the door.

"Were you out there before?" Ned asked, pointing to the corridor, as
Jimmie stepped inside.

"Just got here," was the reply. "Found a Boy Scout from the Fox
Patrol, Chicago, an' brought him along with me. He's washin' some
of the Peruvian scenery off his frame, now, an' will soon be along."

Then Jimmie told of his discovery of Mike Dougherty, of his leaving
a treble guard around the Nelson, and of numerous other adventures
in the city, which, not being in any way connected with this
narrative, are not set down here.

"I'm glad you brought this boy Mike here," Ned said, at the
conclusion of the story. "We need some one who knows something
about Lima to keep us posted."

"About what?" asked Jimmie.

"We're spotted!" Leroy cried out, before Ned could answer the
question. "The wireless is swifter than the Nelson!"

"How do you know?" demanded the little fellow. "How do you know
we're spotted?"

"Oh, Ned's been doping it out," was the reply. "He'll tell you, I

"You thought you'd take the cream off the sensation!" laughed Ned.
"Well, that is the boy of it! All I know about it, Jimmie," he
continued, "is that I've been receiving telegrams which simply mean
nothing. They are from people I have never heard of, and are most
mysteriously worded."

"There's one that tells you to get out of the country," suggested

"Yes, but the others seem to infer that the man who sent them is out
of his mind. The three received are from Washington, San Francisco,
and New Orleans."

"What have the messages to do with our being spotted?" asked Jimmie.
"I don't see any connection."

"Stupid!" cried Leroy. "Can't you see the wires were sent to locate
Ned? The person who delivered them to him sure wired back that they
had been delivered to Ned in person--in other words, that he has
reached Lima on his journey to Paraguay."

"I see!" Jimmie said, slowly. "It's clever, eh?"

"Too clever," Ned said. "I don't like the looks of it. It means,
of course, that the people who are trying to get the cattle
concession away from Mr. Lyman have secret agents here. And that
means that everything we do at Lima will be watched and reported."

"Reported to whom?" asked Leroy.

"Probably to this military person, Senor Lopez, who is on the job
with both hands out," suggested Jimmie. "Well? What about it?"

"I think," Leroy cut in, "that we'd better be getting out of this.
They can't follow us after we get up in the air."

Here a knock came on the door, and Jimmie admitted Mike and
presented him to his chums. The boy looked trim and handsome in his
new suit, and all took a great liking to him. While they discussed
their plans another interruption took place, and then Jimmie saw
Pedro at the door, beckoning excitedly to Mike Dougherty. The boy
talked with the Indian for a short time, and then turned to Ned,
excitement showing in his face.

"He says there's another airship here," Mike said. "Prowling over
the mountains."

"They can't follow us in the air, eh?" cried Leroy. "I guess this
is going some!"



The handsome club room of the Black Bear Patrol, in the city of New
York, was situated on the top floor of the magnificent residence of
Attorney Bosworth, one of the leading corporation lawyers in the
country. Jack Bosworth, the lawyer's only son, was a member of the
Black Bear Patrol, and the club room had been fitted up at his

It was in this room that Ned Nestor, Jimmie McGraw, Jack Bosworth,
Harry Stevens, and Frank Shaw had planned their motor-boat trip down
the Columbia river, as described in the first volume of this series.
Jack, Harry and Frank had returned to New York from San Francisco
when Ned had decided to accept the Secret Service mission to
Paraguay, at the conclusion of the motor-boat vacation on the
Columbia, leaving the two boats, the Black Bear and the Wolf, stored
at Portland, Oregon.

One evening--the evening of the 1st of August, to be exact--while
Ned, Sam, and Jimmie were still in San Francisco, awaiting the slow
action of the State department at Washington, Jack, Frank and Harry
met in the club room for the purpose of "sobbing together," as they
expressed it. They had left their friends in San Francisco
reluctantly because of orders from home, and now they understood
that they might have gone with Ned and Jimmie if they had only
explained to their parents the purpose of the mission.

"I suppose," Frank Shaw said, at the end of a long pause in the
conversation, "I suppose Ned and the others are out over the Andes
by this time."

"No," replied Jack. "I heard from Jimmie by wire today, and they
are still in Frisco, and likely to remain there nearly a week

"If the airship was only large enough!" sighed Harry.

"We might still get there in time!" Frank suggested, eagerly.

"The Nelson wouldn't carry us if we were there," Jack exclaimed, in
a disgusted tone. "I wish the Black Bear had wings! Say, wouldn't
that be a peach? We could run over to Paraguay and scare the life
out of the boys!"

"What good would it do if she had wings?" demanded Frank. "She is
in storage at Portland, Oregon."

"No," replied Harry Stevens, whose father, a noted maker of
automobiles, had presented the motor-boats to his son, "I ordered
the boats sent on here the day after we left the coast. We can
take a trip up the Hudson, anyway."

Jack walked thoughtfully around the room for a moment and then
turned back to the others, looking moodily out of a window.

"I've got it!" he shouted, slapping Frank on the back.

"I should say you had!" remarked Frank. "What do you take for it?"

"I say I've got an idea!" Jack explained, jumping up and down and
swinging his hands over his head. "A peach of an idea!"

"Does it hurt?" asked Harry.

"Oh, cut out that funny stuff!" Jack cried. "When will the two
motor-boats be here?"

Harry counted on the fingers of his left hand.

"We've been home two days," he said, "and we were four days getting
to Chicago. There we laid over a day, and came on here in twenty
hours. We are eight days from the Pacific coast. That right?"

"It seems to be."

"Well, then, it is seven days since I ordered the Black Bear and the
Wolf sent on here in a special express car. They ought to be here

"Then," shouted Jack, pulling Harry around the room, "we're all
right--fit as a brass band at a free lunch! Whoo-pee!"

"It must be hungry," Frank exclaimed, regarding Jack with seeming
terror. "Does it ever bite when it puts out these signals of

"Don't get too funny!" Jack warned.

"Then loosen up on this alleged idea!" Frank replied.

Jack rushed across the room and brought out an atlas of the world,
which he dumped on the floor and opened.

"Look here, fellows!" he said, squatting over the map of South
America, his chin almost on his knees.

"We're looking," grinned Frank. "What about it?"

"Here we are in New York," Jack went on. "Here they are in San
Francisco. Now, they've got to sail to Paraguay, which is just
about twice as far from San Francisco as is New York. Anyway,
that's the way it looks on the map."

"It is all of that distance," Harry put in.

"Well," Jack continued, "as I said before, here we are in New York,
with the mouth of the Amazon river about as far away as San
Francisco, perhaps a little farther."

"Well?" demanded Harry.

"I begin to see the point!" Frank admitted. "But will the folks
stand for it?"

"Mine will," Harry answered. "Dad didn't make the Black Bear to lie
in storage. He'll stand for it, all right."

"So will mine," Frank said, then. "I'll tell him I'll send him a
lot of news for his paper."

Frank's father was owner and editor of the Planet, one of the
leading morning newspapers in the big city, and it was always a
fiction of the boy's that he was going out in the interest of the
paper when he wandered off on a trip with the Boy Scouts.

"I'm afraid you can't make that work again," laughed Jack. "Ned
says that you sent only four postal cards and six letters back from

"Well, wasn't that going some?" asked Frank.

"Of course, only Ned says the postal cards carried the
correspondence for the Planet, and the letters carried requests for
more money!"

"Anyway," Frank insisted, "Dad will stand for it. What is it?"

"Well," Jack went on, "I'm sure my Dad will let me go. He wants me
to go about all I can. Says it brightens a fellow to rub up against
the rough places of the world."

"There's rough corners enough in South America," laughed Harry.

"Now, let us get down to figures," Jack continued. "We ought to be
able to get to the mouth of the Amazon on a fast boat, with the
Black Bear and the Wolf on board, in a week or ten days-say ten
days. About that time they will be getting into Paraguay. What do
you think of it?"

"Fine!" cried Harry.

"The best ever!" Frank responded. "But what then? We can't run up
to Paraguay in the Black Bear."

"We can get away up in the Andes," answered Jack, with the map of
Brazil before him. "See these crooked little lines? Well, those
are rivers. Just see how far we can go in a motor boat."

"But that won't bring us to the aeroplane," Frank objected.

"Yes, it will," Harry answered. "They are coming back by way of the
Amazon valley, and we can't miss them. Oh, what's the use? Suppose
we begin packing?"

"Well, I don't know exactly what we are to do after we get up the
Amazon," Harry laughed, "but I'm game to go. There are head-hunters
and cannibals up there, and we may find a little amusement."

"We're going after Ned and Jimmie," Jack explained. "This is a
relief expedition! After they get to Paraguay they'll snatch that
Lyman person out of the cold, damp dungeon keep he is supposed to be
in and then sail off over the Amazon valley. There's where we catch
up with them. Do you suppose we can find a ship going to the mouth
of the Amazon early in the morning?"

"You certainly are fierce when you get started!" laughed Harry.
"Well," he added, "you can't get ready any too soon to please me."

It was two days before the boys found a vessel going their way, and
even then Jack insisted that his father bribed the owners to run off
their course in order to set the boys and their motorboats down at
the mouth of the Amazon river. The boat, however, was a fast one,
equal in speed to a modern ocean liner; and in ten days from the
time of starting from New York--on the 12th of August--the boys were
stemming the current of the great river--more like a shoreless sea
there at the mouth than a river!

"Huh!" Frank exclaimed, as they left the island of Joannes to the
south, "this is no river! It is a blooming sea!"

"Pretty near three hundred miles wide at the delta, including that
big island," Harry said. "It is some river, eh?"

"Four thousand miles long!" Jack contributed. "It is navigable for
commercial purposes for 2,200 miles, and our boats can go up clear
to the foot of the Andes."

"Boats went there in the days of Columbus," Frank said. "A
companion of Columbus first discovered this great delta. The river
fertilizes two million square miles of territory, and is the
greatest water system in the world."

"Why," Harry observed, desiring to contribute something startling to
the discussion of the river, "the current is so strong that it
carries fresh water and sand five hundred miles out into the
Atlantic Ocean. It is just a fresh water river in a salt water sea
for five hundred miles!"

That night the boys kept the engines of the Black Bear going, one
remaining on watch all through the dark hours. They had plenty of
gasoline in the tank, and the tender, the Wolf, was carrying a load
of fuel which Jack declared would last them until the end of the

It may be well to state here that the Black Bear, the Boy Scout
motorboat, was a specially constructed vessel, built by Harry's
father for river work. The materials were light yet strong, and the
boat could easily be taken apart and put together again when
occasion required. Between the cross-grained slices of tough wood
of which the craft was built were plates of steel, thus rendering
the boat virtually bullet proof.

The Black Bear was constructed so that it could be almost entirely
thrown open to the sunshine when so desired or closed tightly
against cold or rain. The roof could be rolled up in a bundle in
the middle like the curtain of a modern desk. The sides were
composed of oblong panels which could be inserted in grooved steel
uprights when it was desired to close in the interior of the boat.
The motors were very powerful.

In fact, it was just such a boat as was needed on the trip the boys
had in mind. It had done excellent service on the Columbia, and
nothing less could be expected of it on the Amazon. The Wolf, which
was merely a tender, was watertight in construction, being shaped
like a banana, and was towed by the motor-boat. Here the extra
stocks of gasoline, provisions, and ammunition were packed. The
interior of the Wolf was about six feet by eighteen in size, while
the distance from rounded floor to convex roof was about four feet.

On both sides of the interior were gasoline tanks, which also
extended under the floor, lifting the bottom of the interior space
three feet. Above the tanks were spaces for provisions and
ammunition. The space between the tanks and the lockers was about
two feet, and here one might ride in comfort, after getting used to
the rolling of the boat. There were tight glass panels of thick
plate glass at the ends and the top.

Ventilators and loopholes, controlled by wires from the center, were
cut in the ends and protected by sliding covers. Lying in the
passageway, one might look out at either end, and shoot out, too, if
occasion required. When fully loaded, the Wolf was submerged about
half its height. On the top was a staff from which floated an
American flag. The boys were very proud of the Wolf, and Jimmie had
often declared, on the Columbia river trip, that he would some day
take an exciting ride in it.

During their passage up the river the boys were often hailed from
passing craft, but they took little heed, as they did not care to
lose time gratifying the curiosity of those they met. Indeed, if
they had stopped to talk with all who hailed them, they would have
made slow progress. Up to about sixty years ago the Amazon was
closed to all save Brazilian vessels, but now it is open to the
commerce of the world.

There are now vessels coming from and going to all parts of Europe
and America from Amazon ports. There are lines of great steamers on
the main stream, lines of smaller steamers on the big tributaries,
and launches and small craft of all sizes on the affluent branches.
Often the passing ships, steamers, launches, etc., almost took the
form of a procession on the lower waters.

Everywhere the smaller ships were gathering the products of the
great Amazon basin-rubber, cocoanuts, hardwoods, dyewoods, pelts,
tropical fruits and other commodities. Every year over three
million tons of products come down the great river. The Amazon
drains a country as large as the United States east of the
Mississippi. Its feeders reach the Andes, draining watersheds
within a hundred miles of the Pacific ocean. It has tributaries
fifteen hundred miles long.

It did not take the Black Bear very long to pass the green islands
near the delta. The river there looks like an ocean. In fact, the
main branch of the Amazon is from fifty miles to two hundred miles
in width. Some of the tributaries are a hundred miles wide. It is
from fifty to two hundred feet deep. The water is always dark
colored because of the wash brought down from the uplands. For a
long time it did not seem possible to the boys that they were
sailing on a river instead of an ocean.

"Ned and the boys must be over Paraguay now," Jack said, one day,
after they had been on the river nearly a week without accident or
important incident of any kind.

"Yes," Frank replied, "they must be there by this time. Jimmie said
they were to leave San Francisco on the 7th, or about that time. It
would take a week or more to get to Lima, for they couldn't remain
in the air long at a time, and the resting spells would set them
back a little. Suppose they got to Lima on the 14th, which was last
Monday, they could rest up and go prowling over that dirty little
republic--which is not a republic at all, but a despotism tempered
by revolution."

"I'd like to know just what course Ned has decided on," Harry said.
"I don't see how he's going to get to Mr. Lyman."

"He'll find a way," Jack insisted. "He always has, and he always

It will be seen that the boys were tolerably accurate in their
estimates of the speed of the Nelson. On the day they were
discussing the possible location of the big airship, which was the
18th of August, the Nelson was in the center of as pretty a muss as
Ned had ever mixed with.

The boys in the Black Bear put on all speed, traveling nights as
well as days, and before long began watching the heavens, for an
aeroplane. But the lads on the Nelson were not looking for a boat
poking her nose toward the Andes--"a relief expedition," as Jack
called it!



Following the excited announcement by Mike that an airship was
prowling about over the mountains and Leroy's sudden cry of
exultation at the prospect of a struggle for supremacy above the
clouds, there was for a moment absolute silence in the hotel room
where the boys stood. Finally Pedro entered and closed the door.

Ned walked to a window and looked out. The day was fading, and
already the feet of the distant mountains were wrapped in purple
twilight. The window faced the north, giving a fair view of the
city and the Andes as they strung along in that direction, looking
like a chain of bald heads lifting from the obscurity of a fog. The
airship was not in sight from where he stood.

Pedro saw what he was looking for and stepped to his side, one hand
pointing off to the east.

"Out there!" he said.

"When did you first see it?" asked Leroy, not waiting for Ned to
conduct the cross-examination.

The Indian talked with Mike for a moment.

The latter did not seem to understand all that was said to him, but
presently he turned to Ned.

"He says he saw it only a minute before he came here," he explained.
"He says a lot more that I can't understand. I've been here only a
month, and I'm not quick at learning new speech."

"Ask him if he knows whether she landed anywhere near the city," Ned

The Indian did not know. The airship was over the mountains when he
first saw it, and that was all he could say about it.

"Do you think we've been followed down here?" asked Jimmie.

"Of course!" Leroy broke in. "What else would an airship be here
for just at this time? And if she wasn't sneaking about after us,
what would she be hanging up there in the sky for? Why doesn't she
come down to town, like we did?"

"It may be that the arrival of this airship just at this time is a
coincidence," Ned said, "but it seems to me that there is something
significant about it. I have felt all along that we were not yet
rid of the rascals who tried to make us trouble at San Francisco."

"Some one must want the cattle concession that Lyman has pretty
badly," Leroy ventured. "Well, we'll, have to run away from them, I
take it!"

"Then how are we going to find out where this Lyman person is?"
demanded Jimmie. "No, Sir!" he went on, rubbing his freckled nose
in meditation. "We've just naturally got to bust 'em up!"

The proposition was indeed a serious one. If the airship was really
there to take note of the activities of the boys on the Nelson, the
situation could hardly be improved by following either line of
conduct suggested by the boys.

Nothing could be gained by "running away" from the unwelcome
visitor. Nothing was to be gained by following the advice to "bust
'em up." A race would only serve to draw the Nelson away from the
point of action, away from the place where Lyman was held in
captivity. To "bust 'em up" would be to set all the official rings
of Paraguay in operation against the lads, place the Boy Scouts
under the ban of the law!

"If we only knew just where to find this Lyman person," Jimmie went
on, "we might swoop down an' get him an' give the lobsters a run for
their money."

"Perhaps," Ned suggested, "we'd better wait for this new navigator
of the air to show us where he is."

"I see him doing it!" cried Leroy.

"You bet he will!" Jimmie cut in. "He'll hang around the point of
danger! He'll show us where the man is by standing guard over him!

"That's my idea," Ned replied, "still, he may devote his energies to
keeping track of us. One can never tell what an enemy will do."

"Well," Leroy said, "I'm going back to the Nelson. There's a chance
of the lobster dropping down and trying to cripple her."

"A very good idea," Ned agreed.

Jimmie and Mike hastened away with Leroy, but Pedro remained at the
request of Ned. A plan for meeting the emergency was already
forming in the active brain of the Boy Scout, and an important
detail depended on information which the Indian might be able to

Before opening the question, however, Ned, motioning to the Indian
to follow, made his way to the flat roof of the hotel building.
There he found several men, smoking, chatting, and watching the
airship, now almost directly over the city. In Peru many houses are
built with especial reference to providing a lounging place on the

It was growing darker, and the lights of the airship shone brightly
against the dimming sky. The aviator was now circling around the
city, dropping lower at times, then skimming in spirals to a higher
point. While Ned stood watching the machine, realizing that the
fellow in charge was no novice in aviation, a gentleman whom he had
noticed three times before that day observing him closely advanced
and stood by his side. He was a well dressed, clean-shaven man of
perhaps thirty, with an intelligent face, a bustling manner, and a
suit of clothes which Jimmie would have described as "loud enough to
lead a circus parade."

"Evidently an American commercial traveler," Ned thought, as the
stranger stood by his side a moment without speaking, his eyes fixed
on the airship.

"She goes some, eh?" the stranger observed, presently.

"The aviator seems to know his business," Ned admitted.

"You came in an aeroplane yourself, didn't you?" asked the other.

Ned answered in the affirmative.

"Thought so," the other went on. "Hadn't seen you about the city
until this afternoon, and some one said you came in an airship.
Where from?"

"New York," Ned replied, half amused at the impertinence of the

"Good old town!" the other exclaimed. "Hot old town! I like it.
There's something always going on there. I'm from New York myself,
but I'm selling goods for a Chicago firm--steam pumps! I've got the
best steam pump in seven countries! Came here to sell to a mining
company. Nothing doing. What's your name? Mine is Thomas Q.

"Nestor," Ned replied, shortly.

"And you're out for fun?"

"That's the idea." Ned did not think it necessary to enter into

"Hope you get all that's coming to you! Say, will you give me a
ride in that machine of yours? I went out to see it today. Looks
to me like it could knock the spots off anything of the kind in the
world. I don't know anything about airships, but I do know about
steam pumps, and also about machinery. I know a good piece of work
when I see it. That boat of yours is a peach!"

"It isn't my machine," Ned replied, "but if we remain here over
tomorrow I'll see about granting your request."

The two talked for a moment longer, and then Collins left the roof.
Later, Ned saw him moving through the street below in the direction
of the place where the Nelson had been left. The boy hardly knew
what to make of Collins. He might be a steam pump salesman, just as
he had described himself, and, again, he might be a spy sent out by
Lyman's enemies to discover the plans of the Boy Scouts--even to
wreck the Nelson if possible. He decided to, if possible, learn
something of the fellow before taking him on board the aeroplane.

After a time the strange airship fluttered away to the north and
then Ned and Pedro descended to the former's room. Sitting at the
north window, the two could see the lights of the aeroplane dropping
downward, and they concluded that the aviator was seeking a resting
place for the night.

"He's going to bed in Inca Valley," Pedro said, watching the
descending bird. "It is a good place to hide the machine."

The words were spoken in pretty good Spanish, and Ned turned quickly
and asked:

"You speak Spanish then?"

The question was asked in Spanish, and the Indian's face brightened.

"Yes," he said, "but I never suspected that you knew the language."

"Only a smattering of it," laughed Ned, "but, still, I think you can
understand what I say to you. As I want you to do most of the
talking, we may get on very well together."

"What do you want to know?" asked Pedro.

"First, I want you, after we have had our talk, to go out into the
city and find out, if you can, all about that aeroplane. I want to
know if it has ever been seen here before, if the aviator comes to
the city after descending, if he is a stranger here--all about him,
in fact."

The Indian bowed.

"Then," Ned went on, "I want you to find out whether the machine is
well guarded. I also want to know what kind of a machine it is, and
where it came from. If you think it advisable I want you to get
into conversation with the aviator and see what kind of a chap he

Another bow from the Indian, whose face expressed pleasure at the
prospective employment. Ned pondered for a moment, as if not quite
certain of his ground, and then asked:

"How, well are you acquainted with the country lying between Lima
and Asuncion?"

"Oh," was the astonished reply, "but that is a long, long
distance--two, three thousand miles."

"Yes, I know, but have you ever been over the Andes?"

"Oh, yes. I am a guide."

Ned pondered a moment.

"How far east and south?" he asked, then.

"To Lake Titicaca."

"That is on the boundary between Peru and Bolivia?"


"And you know that country--the country around the lake?"

"Very well, indeed."

"It is a long way from Asuncion?"

"It is barely a third of the way. You will see on the map."

"Well," Ned said, after a short silence, "I may as well tell you
what I want. I want to be directed to a place in the mountains
where I can securely hide our aeroplane. It must be a hiding place
absolutely out of sight, especially from the sky. Do you

The Indian nodded, a knowing smile on his dusky face.

"You mean to hide from the other airship?" he asked.


"There are caverns near Lake Titicaca."

"So I understand. Caverns which defy exploration. But, you see, I
must have a hiding place from which the airship can be brought out
with speed and returned in the same way."

"To dodge out and in? Yes, I comprehend."

The two dwelt over the maps and plans until; Leroy and Jimmie came
romping in to report that all was quiet at the machine, and that
Mike was to remain on guard until midnight, when Jimmie was to
relieve him. Then Pedro went out in the city to listen to such talk
of the strange airship as was floating about the streets. He was
back in a couple of hours with the information that the airship had
not landed in the city, and that it had never been seen there

"It seems to me," Ned said after the Indian ceased speaking, "that
now is our time. We ought to be a long way from Lima before dawn."

"The other fellow'll see us!" Leroy objected.

"We'll have to chance that," Ned replied. "We needn't have any
lights you know, and the motors make very little noise. Get your
traps ready, boys!"

It was arranged that Pedro was to remain, under pay, in Lima,
storing up such information as he could secure against the day of
the return of the Nelson. Mike was to remain with him, of course,
as there would be no room on the Nelson for him. The young man when
told of the plans, objected strenuously to being left, but was
finally consoled by the promise that the aeroplane would be sent
back after him when opportunity offered.

It was after midnight when all the arrangements were made and the
boys passed out of their rooms into the hotel lobby. At that hour
they thought the driver of the other aeroplane would be likely to be
sleeping. At the very door of the hotel they came upon Mr. Thomas
Q. Collins! He strolled up as Ned stepped into the doorway and
extended his hand. Ned took it, gave it a perfunctory grasp, and
attempted to paw on.

"If you don't mind," Collins said, with a persuasive mile, "I'll
walk with you if you are going out to your aeroplane. I've been to
bed and find that I can't sleep."

"All right," Ned replied, thinking that he would rather have the man
with him than on his way to report the departure of the Nelson. "We
are just going to look the ship over--perhaps take a little spin.
Come along."

"I should like very much to go with you, in case you decide to go
sailing tonight," Collins said. "Perhaps you may be able to arrange

"I'm afraid not tonight," Ned replied, wondering just what this new
acquaintance was up to. "However," he added, "you may as well come
along and look over the ship."

Collins seemed glad of even this slight concession on the part of
the boy, and walked along briskly. Presently, however, he began to
fall back, talking with Jimmie, who was a few paces behind. Then,
before very long, the little fellow missed Collins. He had
disappeared in a dark alley. Ned worried over this when informed of
the fellow's strange and contradictory conduct. The man might have
gone to make report to the other aviator! This was not a pleasant

Mike was found sitting in front of the Nelson, talking with a native
who was trying to learn all about an aeroplane from, a boy who knew
nothing about it himself! It took only a short time to make ready
for flight, then the Nelson was up and away, making little noise as
she cut the air, her great planes flashing in the light of the moon.

"This is pretty poor, I guess!" Leroy exclaimed, glancing over the
mighty map of sea and plain and mountain. "How fast do you want to

"At full speed," Ned replied.

"I should say it would be full speed!" Jimmie said, half covering
his mouth with his hand, to keep his words from being blown back
down his throat. "That is," he added, "if you want to make a

Ned turned away to the north and saw the white planes of the strange
aeroplane gleaming in the moonlight. She seemed to stand still for
an instant, and then sped off to the southeast. Ned sighed with
apprehension, but Leroy laughed.

"Come along, you!" he cried, looking back. "If you want a race,
come on, and I'll give you the run of your life!"



The white aeroplane flashed by, going farther to the east, and Ned
laid a hand on Leroy's arm as he was about to increase speed.

"Don't hurry," he said, almost screaming the words into the boy's

"I don't want him to beat me!" the driver called back.

"Let him go," Ned commanded. "Play about the scenery a little
while, and then we'll go back to Lima."

"Let me catch him!" pleaded Leroy. "Just let me chase around him a
couple of times. I want to see him make a sneak when he sees the
Nelson in action!"

"Can you do it?" asked Ned.

"Sure I can do it. Just give me a chance. There isn't a machine in
the world that can win a race against the Nelson!"

"I'm sure of that," Ned answered, "and I hope that fellow over there
won't find it out right away. Let him think he can go by us like we
were tied to a cloud, if he wants to. There will come a time when
his confidence in his machine will cost him his job!"

Leroy saw that Ned was really in earnest in the expressed wish to
deceive the aviator of the rival aeroplane, and also saw that there
was good reason for doing so, so he shut off the motors and started
to volplane downward.

"No," Ned said, "that's not right. Make him think we're trying to
catch him. Give him the impression that we want to overhaul him,
but haven't the speed."

"The Nelson will blush red with shame to be bested by a water wagon
like that!" Leroy grumbled, but he did as requested.

The white aeroplane's driver appeared to take the bait. He
loitered, as if waiting for the Nelson to come up, then circled away
from her in great wide swaths. Once he swept around the Nelson, and
Leroy almost shed tears of chagrin.

"Just see him!" the boy wailed. "He thinks I've got a dirt cart
here! He is putting it all over me! I can go two miles to his one,
and yet I'm taking all his guff! Let me get at him! I'll run him

In a short time the stranger, apparently satisfied that he could
outfly the Nelson, should he desire to do so, moved off to the south
and soon disappeared in the distance.

"Now what?" asked Leroy, half angrily.

"He'll watch for us," Ned replied, "but he won't find us chasing
him. Go through some of your flip-flaps and then go back toward
Lima. I want to say a few words to that Mr. Thomas Q. Collins."

Half mollified at the thought of getting a little speed out of the
Nelson, Leroy drove straight for the zenith. Up, up, up he went,
onward toward the stars, shining no brighter for his approach, yet
luring him on. All the world below was flooded with moonlight and
starlight. The mountains were dim in spots, where higher peaks
dominated the light, the Pacific shone in the radiance of the night.
The blue dome of heaven rounded away like a precious bowl set with

The roofs of Lima drew closer together, apparently, and the whole
town looked like a little cluttered point of land. And the
mountains and the sea stretched away endlessly, and earth took on
the look of a great rug woven with invisible stripes. Up, up, up,
until the air became thin and the lungs staggered for breath.

Then the motors were shut off and the ocean and the mountain chains
seemed to rise up to meet the aeroplane, sailing at the speed of
the, fastest express. Over the water and down until even Jimmie
clutched Ned's arm and gave forth an exclamation of alarm. Then a
turn of a lever sent the Nelson skimming over Calleo and back toward
Lima. Avoiding the vacant space where the Nelson had rested before,
Leroy, under Ned's directions, landed on the dry sand some distance

"Of course that other chap will find us when he comes back," Ned
said, when the boys stood on solid ground again, "but we'll try to
make him think we're hanging around Peru just for the fun of it."

"Perhaps he won't come back," suggested Leroy. "Then I'll lose my
chance of showing him what the Nelson can do."

"I have an idea that he'll be back by morning," Ned replied.

In this the boy was right, for the white aeroplane showed in a
couple of hours, just about dawn, circled around the city, hovered
for a moment over the Nelson, and then went off to the north again.

"It is a certainty that she is here to butt into our game!" Jimmie
said, as the white planes disappeared. "She'll start when we start,
an' stop when we stop, an' there won't be any getting away from her.
How does she get into the air so quick after we cut loose? That's
what I'd like to know."

"Some system of signals, undoubtedly," Ned answered. "Now," he
continued, "we'll cuddle up in our blankets here and sleep as long
as the natives will let us. Who'll keep awake?"

Each one wanted to be the one to stand guard, but the point was
decided by the appearance of Mike and Pedro, who had watched the
maneuvers of the Nelson, had noted her landing place, and hastened
forward. Thus relieved of the care of the machine, the three boys
hastened to the hotel and were soon sound asleep.

It was noon when Ned awoke, brought out of a deep slumber by an
impatient knocking at his door. He was out of bed in an instant
and, clad only in his pajamas, opened the door and looked out. Mr.
Thomas Q. Collins stood in the corridor with a look of alarm on his

"Thought I'd never get you out," he said, stepping, uninvited, into
the room and taking a chair. "Thought that you ought to know what's
been going on."

Ned had little confidence in Collins. The fellow's strange conduct
of the night before naturally made the boy suspicious. After
requesting a ride in the Nelson, or, at least, the company of the
Boy Scouts to the place where the machine had been left, he had
disappeared without a word of explanation.

It seemed to Ned that he had good grounds for the belief that
Collins had spied around until he had learned that the aeroplane was
going up, and had then communicated the information to the man on
the white machine. At least, the strange aviator had shown in the
air directly after the disappearance of Collins.

But it was no part of Ned's purpose to permit Collins to see that he
was suspected. It was rather his idea to keep on good terms with
the fellow and watch him for any evidences of treachery. He
therefore greeted him cordially and asked:

"Something interesting going on in the city? We did not return
until nearly dawn, and I've been asleep ever since."

"You haven't heard about the attack on our aeroplane, then?" asked
Collins, looking Ned over keenly.

The boy tried not to exhibit the least emotion or excitement at the
disturbing question. Leaning back in the chair he had taken, he

"The curiosity of the people got the better of their courtesy, eh?
I have been afraid of that. Well, I hope the Nelson was not
seriously injured."

Thomas Q. Collins had the appearance of one who had expected to
unwrap a great sensation and had failed. His face was a study.

"Well, no," he replied. "The fact is, when the rush was made the
aeroplane shot up into the air."

"Then one of the boys must have been there," Ned said, calmly,
although his heart was beating like a drum.

"The little fellow was there, the one you call Jimmie," was the

"And he went into the air alone?"

"No; at the last minute a Peruvian Indian who has been hanging about
the machine ever since you came here went with him."

"Then there is no danger," Ned replied, really feeling relieved at
the thought that Jimmie was not alone in the aeroplane. "The lad
will bring the Nelson back in good time. Anyway, he is entitled to
a little excursion, 'all by his lonely,' as he puts it."

"He can operate the machine?"

"Certainly. He can handle the Nelson easily."

Thomas Q. Collins regarded Ned steadily for a moment, his brusque,
salesmanship manner all gone, and then asked:

"'Where are you going from here?"

The fellow was showing his hand at last! Or was this just natural
curiosity? At that moment Ned was more interested in discovering
something about the attack on the Nelson than in fighting off
personal and impertinent questions, so he said:

"We haven't made up our minds as to our future course. By the way,
what was the cause of the attack on the aeroplane?"

"Oh," replied Collins, frowning slightly, "there were a lot of
people gathered about the ropes, and one of your guards was a little
coarse in protecting your property, and there was a blow struck,
then the mob rushed the roped-in enclosure. I think there was no
one seriously injured."

"I wonder if the other aviator is also having trouble with his
machine?" asked Ned, anxious to know what Collins would say about
the white aeroplane.

"I don't know about that," Collins replied. "In fact, the other
fellow went off to the south soon after the departure of the

"Chased Jimmie up, eh?"

"Well, anxious for a race, it seemed to me."

"Has the Nelson returned?" asked Ned, then.

Collins shook his head.

"If you'll excuse me, then," Ned said, presently. "I'll dress and
take breakfast and go down to see what's doing."

"Your breakfast will be luncheon, I guess," laughed Collins. "I was
on my way to the dining room when I thought of you. If you don't
mind I'll wait for you in the lobby. These natives are not very
good table companions. I'm sick for the sight of my own countrymen,
anyway, and I can't tell you how glad I am to see you here."

Collins went out and closed the door and Ned set about his toilet.
He did not know what to make of the alleged steam pump salesman. At
times he appeared to be perfectly frank and honest, then there would
come to his eyes a look of half-concealed cunning and greed which
put the boy on his guard.

However, Ned thought, the correct way to fathom the fellow's
intentions would be to remain in his company as much as possible.
So the boy bathed and dressed and went down to Collins in the lobby
with a cheerful face.

During the meal Collins talked incessantly of the country and his
prospects in South America. Ned listened, saying little, even in
the short spaces of silence. He was waiting for the fellow to
strike some chord which tuned with his actions of the night before.
At last it came.

"I'm thinking of going over to Asuncion," he said, when the meal was
nearly over. "There are mines over that way, and I may stand a
chance of selling a pump. Rotten luck in Peru, and I can't afford
to spend all this expense money and not sell a thing. I hear that
there are a few Americans over in Paraguay," he added, tentatively,
smiling over at Ned.

"I know very little about the country," Ned said, coolly, fearful
that Collins would drop that line of conversation, "and I never
heard that foreigners of any sort were made welcome in Paraguay. I
don't think we'll go out of our way any to visit that hot little

Collins looked disappointed. Ned could see that. In a moment he
tried again to bring the subject out, but Ned seemed entirely

When the two left the hotel and walked in the direction of the sand
lot where the Nelson had been left, the boy was fully satisfied that
Collins was in league with his enemies. For all he knew, the fellow
might be the very man who was trying to get Lyman's concession away
from him. This might be the man who was bribing the crooked
military chief to make it impossible for the cattle man to carry out
his contract.

"What time did the Nelson leave?" Ned asked, as they drew near a
little group of natives standing on the sand lot.

"Not far from nine," was the reply.

"I didn't think Jimmie would be out that early," laughed Ned. "He
is a little sleepy head, ordinarily."

Pushing their way into the center of the little crowd, Ned and
Collins found Leroy and Mike Dougherty engaged in a heated debate
with a police officer who was threatening arrest. Ned stepped back
so as not to attract the attention of the boys, and kept his eyes
fixed on Collins. In a moment he saw that gentleman give an
impatient gesture which seemed to urge the officer on.

Ned thought fast for a moment. He was considering whether or not he
had been brought there for the purpose of getting into a row in defense
of his chums and being arrested with them. He was heartily glad that
the Nelson was out of the way, although he would have been better
pleased had he been safe aboard of her.

"These Peruvian officers are too fresh!" Collins said, in a moment.
"What do you mean by molesting these boys?" he added, in Spanish,
turning to the officer.

"They are charged with assault," the latter replied.

"By whom?" asked Ned, also speaking in Spanish.

"They struck half a dozen citizens," was the indefinite reply. "We
must take them to jail."

"I'll give you a bump in the eye if you come near me!" Leroy put in,
as he searched the sky eagerly for some sign of the Nelson.

"That wouldn't help matters any," Ned said, speaking in English.
"Go along with the officer, and I'll pay your fine."

Collins looked annoyed at this cautious advice. He came nearer to
Ned and whispered:

"The courts are slow and uncertain here. It may be weeks before the
boys will be restored to liberty if they are locked up. If we could
get them away into the mountains until the Nelson returns that would
end the whole affair."

"And so you want to get me mixed up in it, too!" thought Ned, as the
officer glared at him. "You want to get me on a charge of resisting
arrest! When we get out of here, Mr. Thomas Q. Collins, I'll see
that you get what's coming to you!"

If Collins could have known what was passing in Ned's mind, could
have understood how suspicious the boy was of him, he would not have
urged the lads, in English, to cut and run. By doing so he merely
confirmed Ned's unfavorable opinion of him. From that moment Ned
knew him for what he was, and resolved to get him out of the way in
some manner.

Leroy and Mike paid little attention to what Collins said, as a
shake of the head from Ned gave them to understand what was passing
in his mind. In a moment Ned stepped to the side of the policeman.

"You are all right, officer," he said. "You are only doing your
duty. The boys will go with you, and I'll pay their fines."

But, as Ned discovered, it is easier to get into jail in Peru than
it is to get out.



Night came on and no Nelson showed in the sky. Ned wandered
restlessly about the rather handsome city, anxious for the aeroplane
as well as for the boys who were in the city prison. Collins was
always with him, at first, expressing sympathy and suggesting plans
for getting the prisoners out on bail. The complainant in the case,
it was claimed by the officers, was too badly injured to appear in

Ned grew sick of the constant talking of the fellow at last, and
went to his room, saying that he was due for a little sleep. But
the boy, as may well be imagined, did not sleep. Instead, he sat by
his window watching the sky.

Where had Jimmie gone with the machine? This question was always in
his mind. Had he met with an accident and was he lying, crushed
from a long fall, in some mountain canyon? Had the pursuing
aeroplane overtaken him and destroyed or captured the Nelson?

It was not like the little fellow to disappear so utterly. Even
supposing he was afraid to return to Lima, he ought to understand
how anxious his friends would be and signal them from the upper air.
Surely, Ned reasoned, this would be safe, for the hostile machine
could not approach the Nelson in speed, and, after giving a
reassuring signal, the boy could disappear in the mountains again.

It was dark now in the room where Ned was, and he sat looking out at
the sky in the hope of seeing the welcome lights of the aeroplane.
Presently, he saw a flicker of light off to the east. It increased
in size rapidly, and Ned knew that it was an airship he saw
approaching at wonderful speed, but he had no means of knowing
whether it was Jimmie on the Nelson or the hostile aviator.

If it was Jimmie, he thought, there would be a signal directly. He
waited eagerly, but no signal showed. Presently the airship drifted
off to the north, and Ned saw the glint of moonlight on white
planes. It was the hostile ship, sure enough, but why had she
abandoned pursuit of the Nelson?

Ned resolved to secure a closer view of the airship, but the next
question was how to avoid Collins, who was at that moment pacing to
and fro in front of the hotel. The alleged salesman would be apt to
accost him as soon as he appeared and insist on going with him.

He had had enough of Collins. He had no doubt that the fellow was
in the conspiracy against him. It seemed reasonable that he had
been warned by wire of the approach of the Boy Scouts, and had
hastened to Lima to intercept them. Ned thought over the situation
deliberately, and then a daring smile came to his face.

"I wonder if I can?"

He chuckled as he asked himself the question.

"I wonder if I can?"

He paced his room for a moment, and then continued.

"If he goes with me, there will be less suspicion, provided I am
right in my estimate of the fellow. We may be even left alone with
the aeroplane! Ah, that would be too good to come true!"

The boy watched the sky to the east from the roof as well as from
his window, but there were no signs of the aeroplane which Jimmie
had taken away.

"The little rascal knows what he is doing!" Ned told himself, "but I
wish he would let me know, too! I reckon I'll take a chance on the
plan. I'll try anything once, as the Bowery boys say."

Having settled the vexed question in his own mind, Ned went
whistling down the broad stairway and came out in the lobby. Just
as he had figured, Collins sat where he could keep an eye on the
front entrance. When Ned appeared the fellow arose and stepped over
to him.

"There is nothing new, I'm afraid," Collins said. "I've just been
over to the police station, and nothing can be done tonight."

Ned thought that Collins must have made pretty good time to get over
to the police station and back during the short space of time he had
been out of sight, but he did not say so.

"Anything new about the aeroplane?" asked Ned. "I saw the white one
come back."

"Perhaps she can give us the information we want about your ship,
or, perhaps the aviator can," he added with a laugh.

"Why not go and see?" asked Ned, his heart bounding with hope and
excitement as he noted how eagerly Collins took the bait. "Can we
get a motor-car here? The machine must be quite a distance away."

"It does look that way," Collins replied, with a yawn, "and we may
as well take a car, if we can find one. I hope you don't mind my
going with you."

"Why, I wouldn't go alone!" Ned replied, speaking with perfect
truth, as Collins discovered later on. "You don't know how glad I
am to find you up and ready for a little adventure!"

Collins, in turn, told how pleased he was to be of service, and the
two found a motor-car and started off, taking a road which ran along
a level strip of land which lay between the sand and the mountains.
They had proceeded a couple of miles when a motor-car appeared in
sight just ahead of them, traveling toward the city.

Collins arose in his seat and waved his hand frantically.

"I believe that's Sherman!" he cried. "Sherman's here for a rival
steam pump firm, but I'll be good to him, especially as there is
nothing doing in the way of trade. Hey, there, Sherm!" he shouted
as the two cars drew nearer. "Pull up and give an account of

Sherman was a dark-faced, black-haired, bewhiskered fellow of
perhaps forty. He was dressed in a dark business suit and wore
glasses. The two men talked shop for a moment, and then Collins

"Where have you been?"

"Just out for a ride," was the reply.

"You saw the airship come down?"

"Of come, but I'm not interested in airships."

"Then you haven't been out there?"

"Hardly. It doesn't interest me--this aviation craze."

"Then you don't know whether the aviator is out there or not?"
continued Collins.

"Why, yes, I do know about that," Sherman replied. "I heard this
driver of mine talking Spanish with a shoofer we met, and learned
from the mix-up in tongues that the aviator has gone to the city,
leaving a couple of natives in charge of the machine."

Ned's heart bounded so fiercely that he feared that Collins would
hear its quick beats! The aviator was not there. Only two
Peruvians, timid chaps at best! Mr. Thomas Q. Collins might receive
his reward for his treachery sooner than he imagined, the boy

"Well, so long!" Collins cried. "We'll see you in the city

The cars parted, each going its separate way, and Ned and Collins
were soon within sight of the white aeroplane, which lay in a valley
a short distance from the road. The spot where it lay was well
irrigated, and fruits and vegetables were growing all around the
rope which had been strung about the machine. The aviator had
evidently paid a good price for the privilege of landing there.

A short distance away from the site of the machine was a small
house, a tiny affair, with plenty of porches and a flat roof. As
the two men left the car and advanced toward the machine a man left
the porch and walked in their direction.

"Probably the farmer," Collins said. "We may have to pay for the
privilege of looking over the machine."

Much to the amazement of the boy, the man who approached from the
porch spoke to the two in English.

"What do you want?" he asked.

Ned waited for Collins to make a reply. If Collins really was in
the conspiracy against Lyman, he would probably show his hand within
the next few minutes. Just as Ned anticipated Collins gave the
other a sly signal before he opened his mouth. Ned was not supposed
to see this evidence of a common understanding, but his watchful
eyes caught not only that but the answering sign of the other.

"We came up to look over the machine," Collins said.

"Well, you keep away from it," the other replied, fixing his eyes
keenly on the face of the boy.

"This lad," Collins said, then, motioning toward Ned, "knows
something about an aeroplane, and wants to inspect this one."

A sly wink followed the remark. It was getting rather cheap to Ned.
The collusion between the two was so evident that their attempts to
conceal it appeared very slazy.

"Yes," Ned put in, "I'd like to look the machine over."

"You came in that other aeroplane?" was asked.

Ned nodded, and Collins broke in:

"He's an expert, but he has no machine just at present. A member of
his party took his machine away this morning," he added, with a

"So Rowan said," the alleged farmer replied.

"Rowan?" repeated Ned. "Is that the name of the aviator who runs
this machine?"

"Yes; he is a New York man. Do you know him?"

Ned replied that he had heard of him, knew him to be a splendid
operator, but had never met him.

After some further talk Ned and Collins were given permission to
look at the machine, which was called the Vixen. Collins expressed
his thanks in elaborate language, but Ned went straight to the
Vixen, which was then guarded by a Peruvian Indian. He was weary of
the cheap pretense of the other.

"This is a peach of a machine," the alleged farmer explained,
following Ned as he walked about the great planes. "See here! No
cranking at all! You just get into the seat, which will carry two
nicely, and push this button. That releases a spring which whirls
the propellers until the spark is made, then off you go."

Ned admired the arrangement fully, as he was expected to do. The
Nelson was fitted out in the same way, but he did not say so.
Presently the Indian left the circle created by the rope and, going
into the shelter of the porch, left Collins and Ned with the alleged
farmer, who announced that his name was Yerkes.

Ned thought this action on the part of the Indian was in obedience
to a signal from Collins, but could not be too sure of it. Then
Collins and Yerkes trailed about after Ned as he wandered around the
airship. The boy saw the former remove certain bits of wood which
blocked the wheels of the Vixen, also he saw Yerkes, testing the
gasoline gauge and looking the carburetor over carefully.

"It is all right," the boy thought. "Two hearts with but a single
thought, two souls that beat as one--or the reverse anyway, they are
thinking of giving me a ride in this old ice wagon! Pretty soon
they'll be asking me to get up on the seat and see how easy it is.
Then one of them will slip this harness about me--the harness
provided for timid riders--and I'll be off in the air--a prisoner!"

Collins and Yerkes tinkered about the aeroplane for some moments,
while Ned seemed to be studying the machine. The boy was anxious
for the decisive moment to come.

Finally Yerkes, went back to the porch and stood there in
conversation with the Indian for a number of minutes.

When he returned Collins stepped forward toward the seat.

Knowing that the time for action had come, Ned sprang into the
driver's seat. Collins looked vexed at the movement, but Ned
laughed down at him.

"I won't hurt your old machine," the boy said. "Get up here, so we
can see how it rides."

Collins obeyed, first giving Yerkes a significant look which was not
lost on the watchful boy.

The harness for the visitor's seat was a peculiar one, as Ned had
noted with considerable satisfaction. There were leather cuffs for
the wrists and a broad leg band which prevented the guest leaving
his seat. The cuffs held the hands close together in the lap, the
idea being to prevent a timid person from grasping the arm of the
driver in a moment of terror.

"Move on over!" Collins called, as he stepped up, "and I'll see if I
can take you out of the valley without breaking your neck. Don't
say a word to Yerkes about his race with the Nelson," he added, in a
whisper. "He got beaten, and doesn't like to talk about it."

Ned noticed but remained where he was, so Collins reluctantly took
the other seat. As he did so Yerkes stepped forward, and the Indian
stationed himself at the back of the machine, where he could give it
a push down the incline which lay before it, and against which the
wheels had been blocked.

As soon as Collins was fairly in the seat, Ned gave the harness a
quick snap, and the click of metal told him that the cuffs had
closed about Collins' wrists, that the broad strap which held him
down was in position. Then he pushed the button and the spark
caught. The Vixen moved down the incline.

Collins tried to lift his hands, but was unable to do so, so he
lifted his voice instead! Yerkes, in the whirr of the machine,
doubtless mistook the voice for that of the boy, for he paid no
attention to it.

"Help! Help!" roared Collins. "Stop the machine! He's got me tied
down! Stop it, you fool! Stop it!"

Yerkes and the Indian looked stolidly on with grins on their faces,
and Ned stuck an elbow into Collins' ribs.

"Keep still," he said, "or I'll have to put you out of the speech
habit. I've got you just where you expected to get me, and you
ought not to kick about the accommodations."

"Yerkes!" yelled Collins. "Why don't you stop the machine? Catch
hold of the propellers and yank them off! Put a bullet through this
young fiend! Anything to stop the crazy thing. I tell you he's got
me tied in!"

Then Yerkes, recognizing the voice, sprang toward the propellers.
He made a brisk spring, but was too late. The blades were just
about an inch out of his reach. Foiled in this attempt, he drew a
revolver and began firing foolish shots at the machine, none of
which came near the mark.

In a moment the Vixen was under full speed, the ground dropped away,
and the last Ned saw of Yerkes and the Indian they were performing a
dance of rage on the growing vegetables below. Straight to the
south the machine flew, the motors popping like mad.

The boy saw little crowds in the lighted streets below, looking and
pointing up at the aeroplane, and then the city streets faded away
into a dull mat, and there were only the silent peaks, the sea, and
the deep, dim valleys.

Then Ned turned to his prisoner, who had by this time given over the
useless struggle against the harness. Collins' eyes were fixed on
the moonlit Pacific, away off to the west, and the boy's eyes
followed those of his captive.

A steamer was creeping into the shallow harbor at Calleo, and the
dark spot on the sand showed that a crowd was there to greet her.
The Vixen was too far away for Ned to see the surf boats getting
ready to take off the passengers and freight, but he knew that they
were there.

It was now eleven o'clock, and the moon was well up in the sky. The

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