Part 3 out of 5
The attempt to start the motor had been given up, and under the
supervision of Mr. Vardon the two cadets, Innis and Paul, took turns
in bringing the craft down with the engine "dead." The aviator and
his helper had had experience enough at this.
"Say, this is something new, guiding as big a ship as this without
power," remarked Innis, as he relinquished the wheel to Paul.
"It sure is," said tile latter. Then, a little later, he called
"I say, somebody relieve me, quick. I believe I'm going to bring
her down in that creek!"
They all looked ahead and downward. The Abaris, surely enough, was
headed for a stream of water.
"Perhaps you'd better handle her," said Dick to the builder of the
craft. "We don't want her wrecked before we at least have a START
after that prize."
Mr. Vardon nodded, and took the wheel from Paul. A few seconds
later he had brought the craft to the ground within a few feet of
the edge of the stream. Had it been a wider and deeper one they
could have landed on it by using the hydroplanes, but the water
seemed too shallow and full of rocks for that evolution.
And so skillfully had Mr. Vardon manipulated the planes and levers
that the landing was hardly felt. A number of specially-made
springs took up the jar.
"Well, we're here!" exclaimed Dick, as they all breathed in relief.
"Now to see what the trouble was."
"And we've got a long walk back home, in case we can't find the
trouble," sighed Innis, for he was rather stout, and did not much
enjoy walking. They had come down several miles from Hamilton
"Oh, we'll get her fixed up somehow," declared Dick, with
Quite a throng had gathered from the little country hamlet, on the
edge of which the aircraft had descended, and they crowded up about
the Abaris, looking in wonder at her size and strange shape.
Mr. Vardon lost no time in beginning his hunt for the engine
trouble, and soon decided that it was in the gasolene supply, since,
though the tank was nearly full, none of the fluid seemed to go into
"There's a stoppage somewhere," the aviator said. The fluid was
drawn off into a reserve tank and then the cause of the mischief was
A small piece of cotton waste had gotten into the supply pipe, and
completely stopped the flow of gasolene.
"There it is!" cried the aviator, as he took it out, holding it up
for all to see.
"I wonder if anyone could have done that on purpose?" asked Dick,
looking at his chums, reflectively.
"You mean--Larson?" inquired Jack Butt. "He's capable of anything
"But he wasn't near the machine," said Paul.
"Not unless he sneaked in the barn some night," went on the
machinist, who seemed to have little regard for the former
"Well, there's no way of telling for certain, so we had better say
nothing about it," decided Dick. "Then, too, any of us might have
accidentally dropped the waste in the tank while we were working
around the ship. I guess we'll call it an accident."
"But it must have been in the tank for some time," argued Larry
Dexter, "and yet it only stopped up the pipe a little while ago."
"It was probably floating around in the tank, doing no damage in
particular," explained Mr. Vardon. "Then, when we made the ship
tilt that way, to test the stabilizer, the gasolene shifted, and
the waste was flushed into the pipe. But we're all right now."
This was proved a little later when the motor was started with no
trouble whatever. There was not a very good place to make a start,
along the edge of the stream, but Dick and his chums realized that
they could not always have perfect conditions, so they must learn
to do under adverse ones.
"Look out of the way!" warned the young millionaire to the assembled
crowd. They scattered from in front of the craft. The motor
throbbed and thundered up to high speed, and then the propellers
were thrown into gear. The big blades beat on the air, the ship
moved slowly forward. It acquired speed, and then, amid the
wondering comments and excited shouts of the crowd, it soared aloft,
and glided through the air to a great height.
"Off again!" cried Dick, who was at the wheel.
The trip back to Hamilton Corners was made safely, and without
incident worthy of mention. The four young men took turns in
working the various controls, so as to become familiar with them,
and Dick paid particular attention to Larry Dexter, who needed some
"I'll get a good story out of this for my paper," said the young
reporter, who was always on the lookout for "copy."
"Well, we've proved that she will fly, and take care of us even when
an accident happens," remarked Dick, when the craft had been put
back in the barn. "Now we'll groom her a bit, put on the finishing
touches, and we'll be ready to try for that prize. The time is
getting short now."
"I hope you win it," said Mr. Vardon. "I shall feel responsible,
in a way, if you don't."
"Nothing of the sort!" cried Dick. "Whatever happens, I've got a
fine airship, and we'll have a good time, even if we don't get the
twenty thousand dollars."
The next week was a busy one, for there were several little matters
about the airship that needed attention. But gradually it was made
as nearly perfect as possible.
Then, one morning, Mr. Hamilton, who had some business to transact
with Uncle Ezra, said to Dick:
"Could you take a run over there and leave him these securities?
He asked me to get them for him out of the safe deposit box. I
don't know what he wants of them, but they are his, and I have no
time to take them to him myself. You can go in your airship, if
you like, and give him a surprise."
"No, I think I'll go in the auto. Mr. Vardon is making a change in
the motor, and it isn't in shape to run today. I'll take the boys
over to Dankville in the small car."
A little later Dick and his chums were on their way to Uncle Ezra's.
They reached Dankville in good time, but, on calling at the house,
Aunt Samantha told them her husband was at the woolen mill.
"We'll go down there and see him," decided Dick, after talking to
his aunt a little while. She had been looking in the parlor to see
that, by no chance, had a glint of light gotten in. Of late her
husband and his airship-partner, Larson, had not used the "best
room," and so Aunt Samantha's fears about the carpet being spoiled
by cigar ashes had subsided.
At the factory Dick was directed, by a foreman, to an unused wing
of the building.
"You'll find your uncle in there," the man said to Dick. "He's
building an airship!"
"A what!" cried the young millionaire in great astonishment, for he
had been too busy, of late, to hear any news from Dankville.
"An airship--a biplane, I believe they're called," the foreman went
"Well, I'll be gum-swizzled!" cried Dick, faintly. "Come on,
fellows. The world must be coming to an end, surely."
As he started to enter the part of the factory whither he had been
directed, his uncle, plainly much excited, came out.
"Stop where you be, Nephew Richard!" he warned. "Don't come in
here! Stay back!"
"Why, what in the world is the matter?" asked Dick. "Is something
going to blow up?"
OFF FOR THE START
Uncle Ezra Larabee stood fairly glaring at his nephew. The crabbed
old man seemed strangely excited.
"No, there ain't nothing going to blow up," he said, after a pause.
"But don't you come in here. I warn you away! You can go in any
other part of my factory you want to, but not in here."
"Well, I certainly don't want to come where I'm not wanted, Uncle
Ezra," said Dick, with dignity. "But I hear you are building an
airship, and I thought I'd like to get a look at it."
"And that's just what I don't want you to get--none of you," went
on Mr. Larabee, looking at Dick's chums. "I don't want to be mean
to my dead sister's boy," he added, "but my airship ain't in shape
yet to be inspected."
"Well, if it isn't finished, perhaps we can give you some advice,"
said Dick, with a smile.
"Huh! I don't want no advice, thank you," said Uncle Ezra, stiffly.
"I calkerlate Lieutenant Larson knows as much about building
airships as you boys do."
"Larson!" cried Dick. "Is he here?"
"He certainly is, and he's working hard on my craft. I'm going to
be an aviator, and win that twenty-thousand-dollar government
prize!" Mr. Larabee said, as though it were a certainty.
"Whew!" whistled Dick. "Then we'll be rivals, Uncle Ezra."
"Humph! Maybe you might think so, but I'll leave you so far behind
that you won't know where you are!" boasted the crabbed old man.
"Building an airship; eh?" mused Dick. "Well, that's the last thing
I'd ever think of Uncle Ezra doing." Then to his relative he added:
"But if you're going to compete for the prize your airship will have
to be seen. Why are you so careful about it now?"
"Because we've got secrets about it," replied Mr. Larabee. "There's
secret inventions on my airship that haven't been patented yet, and
I don't want you going in there, Nephew Richard, and taking some of
my builder's ideas and using 'em on your airship. I won't have it!
That's why I won't let you in. I'm not going to have you taking our
ideas, not by a jugful!"
"There's no danger," answered Dick quietly, though he wanted to
laugh. "My airship is all finished. We've used her, and she's all
right. I wouldn't change her no matter what I saw on yours."
"Wa'al, you might think so now, but I can't trust nobody--not even
you, so you can't come in," said Uncle Ezra.
"Oh, we won't insist," answered Dick, as he passed over the bonds.
"Father said you wanted these, Uncle Ezra."
"Yes, I do," and an expression, as of pain, passed over the man's
face. "I've got to raise a little money to pay for this airship.
It's costing a terrible pile; a terrible pile!" and he sighed in
despair. "But then, of course, I'll get the twenty thousand
dollars, and that will help some. After that I'm going to sell
plans and models of my successful airship, and I'll make a lot more
that way. So of course I'll get it all back.
"But it's costing me a terrible pile! Why, would you believe it,"
he said, looking around to see that the door to the factory was
securely closed, "would you believe I've already spent five
thousand, six hundred twenty-seven dollars and forty-nine cents on
this airship? And it ain't quite done yet. It's a pile of money!"
"Yes, they are expensive, but they're worth it," said Dick. "It's
"It may be. I've never tried it, but I'm going to learn," declared
Uncle Ezra. "Only I didn't think it would cost so much or I never
would have gone into it. But now I'm in I can't get out without
losing all the money I've put up, and I can't do that. I never
could do that," said Uncle Ezra with a doleful shake of his head.
He gave a sudden start, at some noise, and cried out:
"What's that? You didn't dare bring your bulldog in here, did you,
Nephew Richard? If you did I'll--"
"No, I left Grit at home, Uncle Ezra."
Then the noise was repeated. It came from the part of the factory
where the airship was being constructed, and was probably made by
some of the workmen.
"I guess I'll have to go now," said Mr. Larabee, and this was a hint
for the boys to leave.
"Lieutenant Larson said he wanted to consult with me about
something. I only hope he doesn't want more money," he added with
a sigh. "But he spends a terrible pile of cash--a terrible pile."
"Yes, and he'll spend a lot more of your cash before he gets through
with you, if I'm any judge," thought Dick, as he and his chums went
back to the automobile. "To think of Uncle Ezra building an
airship! That's about the limit."
"Do you really think he is going to have a try for the government
prize?" asked Larry Dexter.
"Well, stranger things have happened," admitted the young
"You're not worrying, though, are you?" asked Paul.
"Not a bit. I imagine I'll have to compete with more formidable
opponents than Uncle Ezra. But I do give Larson credit for knowing
a lot about aircraft. I don't believe, though, that his mercury
stabilizers are reliable. Still he may have made improvements on
them. I'd like to get a look at Uncle Ezra's machine."
"And he doesn't want you to," laughed Innis. "He's a queer man,
keeping track of every cent."
"Oh, it wouldn't be Uncle Ezra if he didn't do that," returned Dick,
with a grin.
There were busy days ahead for the young millionaire and his chums.
Though the Abaris seemed to have been in almost perfect trim on her
trial trip, it developed that several changes had to be made in her.
Not important ones, but small ones, on which the success, or
failure, of the prize journey might depend.
Dick and his friends worked early and late to make the aircraft as
nearly perfect as possible.
Dick's entry had been formally accepted by the government, and he
had been told that an army officer would be assigned to make the
trans-continental flight with him, to report officially on the time
and performance of the craft. For the government desired to
establish the nearest perfect form of aeroplane, and it reserved
the right to purchase the patent of the successful model.
"And it is on that point that more money may be made than by merely
winning the prize," said Mr. Vardon. "We must not forget that, so
we want everything as nearly right as possible."
And to this end they worked.
"You're going to take Grit along; aren't you?" asked Paul of Dick
one day, as they were laboring over the aircraft, putting on the
"Oh, sure!" exclaimed the young millionaire. "I wouldn't leave him
behind for anything."
"I wonder what army officer they'll assign to us," remarked Innis.
"I hope we get some young chap, and not a grizzled old man who'll
be a killjoy."
"It's bound to be a young chap, because none of the older men have
taken up aviation," said Larry. "I guess we'll be all right. I'll
see if I can't find out from our Washington reporter who it will
But he was unable to do this, as the government authorities
themselves were uncertain.
The time was drawing near when Dick was to make his start in the
cross-country flight, with but two landings allowed between New York
and San Francisco. Nearly everything was in readiness.
"Mr. Vardon," said Dick one day, "this business of crossing a
continent in an airship is a new one on me. I've done it in my
touring car, but I confess I don't see how we're going to keep on
the proper course, up near the clouds, with no landmarks or anything
to guide us.
"But I'm going to leave all that to you. We're in your hands as
far as that goes. You'll have to guide the craft, or else tell us
how to steer when it comes our turn at the wheel."
"I have been studying this matter," the aviator replied. "I have
made several long flights, but never across the continent. But I
have carefully charted a course for us to follow. As for landmarks,
the government has arranged that.
"Along the course, in as nearly as possible a bee-line from New York
to San Francisco, there will be captive balloons, painted white for
day observation, and arranged with certain colored lanterns, for
night-sighting. Then, too, there will be pylons, or tall towers of
wood, erected where there are no balloons. So I think we can pick
our course, Dick."
"Oh, I didn't know about the balloon marks," said the young
millionaire. "Well, I'll leave the piloting to you. I think you
know how to do it."
Several more trial flights were made. Each time the Abaris seemed
to do better. She was more steady, and in severe tests she stood
up well. The gyroscope stabilizer worked to perfection under the
most disadvantageous conditions.
Several little changes were made to insure more comfort for the
passengers on the trip. Dick's undertaking had attracted
considerable attention, as had the plans of several other, and
better-known aviators, to win the big prize. The papers of the
country were filled with stories of the coming event, but Larry
Dexter had perhaps the best accounts, as he was personally
interested in Dick's success.
Dick paid another visit to Uncle Ezra, and this time his crabbed
relative was more genial. He allowed his nephew to have a view of
the craft Larson was building. The former lieutenant greeted Dick
coldly, but our hero thought little of that. He was more interested
in the machine.
Dick found that his uncle really did have a large, and apparently
very serviceable biplane. Of course it was not like Dick's, as it
designed to carry but three passengers.
"We're going to make the trip in about forty-eight hours, so we
won't need much space," said Uncle Ezra. "We can eat a snack as we
go along. And we can sleep in our seats. I've got to cut down the
expense somehow. It's costing me a terrible pile of money!"
Uncle Ezra's airship worked fairly well in the preliminary trials,
and though it did not develop much speed, Dick thought perhaps the
crafty lieutenant was holding back on this so as to deceive his
"But, barring accidents, we ought to win," said the young
millionaire to his chums. "And accidents no one can count against."
Everything was in readiness. The Abaris had been given her last
trial flight. All the supplies and stores were aboard. Jack Butt
had taken his departure, for he was not to make the trip. His place
would be taken by the army lieutenant. A special kennel had been
constructed for Grit, who seemed to take kindly to the big airship.
"Well, the officer will be here in the morning," announced Dick,
one evening, on receipt of a telegram from Washington. "Then we'll
make the start."
And, what was the surprise of the young millionaire and his chums,
to be greeted, early the next day, by Lieutenant McBride, the
officer who had, with Captain Wakefield, assisted in giving
instructions at Kentfield.
"I am surely glad to see you!" cried Dick, as he shook hands with
him. "There's nobody I'd like better to come along!"
"And there's nobody I'd like better to go with," said the officer,
with a laugh. "I was only assigned to you at the last minute.
First I was booked to go with a man named Larabee."
"He's my uncle. I'm glad you didn't!" chuckled Dick. Then he told
about Larson and Lieutenant McBride, himself, was glad also.
In order to be of better service in case of an emergency, Lieutenant
McBride asked that he be taken on a little preliminary flight before
the official start was made, so that he might get an idea of the
working of the machinery.
This was done, and he announced himself as perfectly satisfied with
"You have a fine craft!" he told Dick. "The best I have ever seen,
and I've ridden in a number. You ought to take the prize."
"Thanks!" laughed the young millionaire.
"Of course I'm not saying that officially," warned the officer, with
a smile. "I'll have to check you up as though we didn't know one
other. And I warn you that you've got to make good!"
"I wouldn't try under any other conditions," replied Dick.
The last tuning-up of the motor was over. The last of the supplies
and stores were put aboard. Grit was in his place, and the
cross-country fliers in theirs. Good-byes were said, and Mr.
Hamilton waved the Stars and Stripes as the cabin door was closed.
"All ready?" asked Dick, who was the captain of the aircraft.
"All ready," answered Lieutenant McBride.
"All ready," agreed Mr. Vardon.
"Then here we go!" cried Dick, as he pulled the lever. The airship
was on her way to the starting point.
UNCLE EZRA FLIES
"Well, Mr. Larabee, we are almost ready for a flight."
"Humph! It's about time. I've sunk almost enough money in that
shebang to dig a gold mine, and I haven't got any out yet--not a
cent, and I'm losing interest all the while."
"Well, but think of the twenty thousand dollars!"
"Yes, I s'pose I've got to. That's the only consolation I have
The above conversation took place one afternoon between Ezra Larabee
and Lieutenant Larson. The airship with the mercury stabilizers was
nearly completed. But a few touches remained to be put on her, to
make her, according to Larson, ready for the flight across the
"I presume you will go with me when me make the first ascent; will
you not?" the lieutenant inquired.
"Who, me? No, I don't reckon I'll go up first," said Uncle Ezra
slowly. "I'll wait until I see if you don't break your neck. If
you don't I'll take a chance."
"That's consoling," was the answer, with a grim laugh. "But I am
not afraid. I know the craft will fly. You will not regret having
commissioned me to build her."
"Wa'al, I should hope not," said Uncle Ezra, dryly. "So far I've
put eight thousand, four hundred thirty-two dollars and sixteen
cents into this shebang, and I ain't got a penny out yet. It just
seems to chaw up money."
"They all do," said the lieutenant. "It is a costly sport. But
think of the twenty-thousand-dollar prize!"
"I do," said Uncle Ezra, softly. "That's all that keeps me from
thinking what a plumb idiot I've been--thinking of that twenty
"Oh, you'll get it!" the lieutenant asserted.
"Maybe--yes. If my nephew doesn't get ahead of me," was the grim
"Oh, he never will. We'll win that prize," the lieutenant assured
him. "Now there's one other little matter I must speak of. I need
some more money."
"More money! Good land, man! I gave you three dollars and a half
last week to buy something!" cried Uncle Ezra.
"Yes, I know, but that went for guy wires and bolts. I need about
ten dollars for an auxiliary steering wheel."
"A steering wheel?" questioned Uncle Ezra. "You mean a wheel to
"That's it. There must be two. We have only one."
"Well, if it's only a wheel, I can fix you up about that all right,
and without spending a cent, either!" exclaimed the stingy old man
with a chuckle. "There's an old sewing machine of my wife's down
cellar. It's busted, all but the big wheel. We had an accident
with it, but I made the company give me a new machine, and I kept
the old one.
"Now that's got a big, round, iron wheel on it, and we can take that
off, just as well as not, and use it on the airship. That's what
you've got to do in this world--save money. I've spent a terrible
pile, but we'll save some by using the sewing machine wheel."
"It won't do," said the lieutenant. "It's far too heavy. I must
have one made to order of wood. It will cost ten dollars."
"Oh, dear!" groaned Uncle Ezra. "More money," and he looked
distressed. Then his face brightened.
"I say!" he cried. "There's a busted mowing machine out in the
barn. That's got a wooden wheel on it. Can't you use that?"
Lieutenant Larson shook his bead.
"It's no use trying to use make-shift wheels if we are to have a
perfect machine, and win the prize," he said. "I must have the
proper one. I need ten dollars."
"Oh, dear!" moaned Uncle Ezra, as he took out his wallet, and
carefully counted out ten one-dollar bills.
"Couldn't you look around and get a second-hand one?" he asked
"No; we haven't time. We must soon start on the prize trip. We
don't want to be late."
"No, I s'pose not. Wa'al, take the money," and he parted with it,
after a long look. Then he made a memoranda of it in his pocket
cash-book, and sighed again.
Several times after this Lieutenant Larson had to have more money
--or, at least, he said he needed it, and Uncle Ezra brought it
forth with many sighs and groans. But he "gave up."
To give Larson credit, he had really produced a good aircraft. Of
course it was nothing like Dick's, and, after all, the former army
man was more interested in his stabilizers than he was in the
airship itself. But he had to build it right and properly to give
his patent a good test, and he used his best ideas on the subject.
In general Uncle Ezra's machine was a biplane, a little larger than
usual, and with a sort of auxiliary cabin and platform where one
could rest when not in the seats. Three passengers could be
carried, together with some food and supplies of gasolene and oil.
It was an airship built for quick, continuous flight, and it really
had a chance for the prize; perhaps not as good a chance as had
Dick's, but a good chance compared with others in its class. The
one weak point, and this Lieutenant Larson kept to himself, was the
fact that it was only with the best of luck that the flight could
be made with but two landings.
Finally the former army man announced that the craft was ready for
a flight. He had spent all the money Uncle Ezra would give him
--nearly ten thousand dollars--and I suspect that Larson himself had
lined his own pockets well.
"She's ready," he announced to Uncle Ezra, one day.
"Well, take her up."
"Will you come?"
"Not till I see how you fare. Go ahead."
"Ezra, be you goin' up in that contraption?" asked Aunt Samantha,
as she came out in the meadow where a starting ground had been laid
"I'm aiming to, if he comes back alive with it," Uncle Ezra made
"Well, as I said before, it's flyin' in the face of Providence,"
declared Mrs. Larabee. "I might as well order my mourning now, and
be done with it."
"Oh, I ain't aiming to be killed," chuckled Uncle Ezra. "I guess
it's safe enough. I've got to get my money back out of this thing."
Lieutenant Larson, with one of the helpers, made the first flight.
He did not go very high, so that Uncle Ezra would have confidence.
When he came back to the starting point he asked:
"Well, will you take a chance?"
"I--I guess so," replied Mr. Larabee, and his voice was not very
"I'm goin' in the house," announced Mrs. Larabee. "I don't want to
Uncle Ezra took his place.
"I've got accident insurance in case anything happens," he said,
"I don't believe your policy covers airship flights," the lieutenant
"Then let me out!" cried Uncle Ezra. "I'll have the policy changed!
I'm not going to take any such chances!"
"It's too late! " cried Larson. "Here we go!" The engine was
thundering away, and a moment later the craft shot over the ground
and into the air. Uncle Ezra was flying at last.
UNCLE EZRA'S ACCIDENT
For some seconds after he had been taken up in the atmosphere in
his airship, Uncle Ezra said nothing. He just sat there in the
padded seat, clutching with his hands the rails in so tight a grip
that his knuckles showed white.
Up and up they went, Larson skillfully guiding the craft, until they
were a considerable distance above the earth.
"That's--that's far enough!" Uncle Ezra managed to yell, above the
throb of the now throttled-down motor. "Don't go--any higher!"
"All right," agreed the aviator. "But she'll work easier up a
"No--it--it's too far--to fall!" said Mr. Larabee, and he could not
keep his voice from trembling.
Really, though, he stood it bravely, though probably the thought of
all the money he had invested in the craft, as well as the prize he
was after, buoyed up his spirits.
"How do you like it?" asked Larson, when they had circled around
over Mr. Larabee's extensive farm for some time.
"It's different from what I expected," remarked Uncle Ezra. "But
it seems good. I don't know as I'll stand it all the way to San
"Oh, yes, you will," asserted Larson. "You'll get used to it in
"Is she working all right, Lieutenant Larson?"
"Yes, pretty well. I see a chance to make one or two changes
though, that will make her better."
"Does that mean--er--more money?" was Uncle Ezra's anxious question.
"Well, some, yes."
"Not another cent!" burst out the crabbed old man. "I won't spend
another cent on her. I've sunk enough money in the old shebang."
Larson did not answer. He simply tilted the elevating rudder and
the biplane poked her nose higher up into the air.
"Here! What you doing?" demanded Uncle Ezra.
"I'm going up higher."
"But I tell you I don't want to! I want to go down! This is high
enough!" and Uncle Ezra fairly screamed.
"We've got to go higher," said Larson. "The carburetor isn't
working just right at this low elevation. That's what I wanted the
extra money for, to get a new one. But of course if you feel that
you can't spare it, why, we'll simply have to fly higher, that's
all. The carburetor we have will work all right at a high elevation
on account of the rarefied air, but with a different one, of course
we could stay lower--if we wanted to.
"Still, if you feel you can't afford it," he went on, with a sly
look at the crabbed old man who sat there clutching the sides of
the seat, "we'll have to do the best we can, and make this
carburetor do. I guess we'll have to keep on a little higher," he
added, as he glanced at the barograph.
"Say! Hold on!" yelled Uncle Ezra in his ear. "You--you can have
that money for the carburetor! Go on down where we were before."
"Oh, all right," assented Larson, and he winked the eye concealed
from his employer.
The aircraft went down, and flew about at a comparatively low
elevation. Really, there did not seem to be much the matter with
the carburetor, but then, of course, Larson ought to know what he
was talking about.
"She's working pretty good--all except the carburetor," said the
former army man, after they had been flying about fifteen minutes.
"The motor does better than I expected, and with another passenger
we'll be steadier. She needs a little more weight. Do you want to
try to steer her?"
"No, sir! Not yet!" cried Uncle Ezra. "I can drive a
mowing-machine, and a thresher, but I'm not going to try an airship
yet. I hired you to run her. All I want is that
twenty-thousand-dollar prize, and the chance to sell airships like
this after we've proved them the best for actual use."
"And we can easily do that," declared Larson. "My mercury
stabilizer is working to perfection."
"When can we start on the race?" Mr. Larabee wanted to know.
"Oh, soon now. You see it isn't exactly a race. That is the
competing airships do not have to start at the same time."
"No?" questioned Uncle Ezra.
"No. You see each competing craft is allowed to start when the
pilot pleases, provided an army officer is aboard during the entire
flight to check the results, and the time consumed. Two landings
will be allowed, and only the actual flying time will be counted.
"That is if the trip is finished within a certain prescribed time.
I think it is a month. In other words we could start now, fly as
far as we could, and if we had to come down because of some
accident, or to get supplies, we could stay down several days. Then
we could start again, and come down the second time. But after that
we would be allowed no more landings, and the total time consumed
in flying would be computed by the army officer."
"Oh, that's the way of it?" asked Uncle Ezra.
"Yes, and the craft that has used the smallest number of hours will
win the prize," went on Larson. "I'm sure we can do it, for this
is a fast machine. I haven't pushed her to the limit yet."
"And don't you do it--not until I get more used to it," stipulated
the owner of the airship.
The former army officer sent the aircraft through several simple
evolutions to test her. She answered well, though Uncle Ezra gasped
once or twice, and his grip on the seat rail tightened.
"When do you plan to start?" Mr. Larabee wanted to know, again.
"Oh, in about a week. I have sent in an application to have a
representative of the government assigned to us, and when he comes
we'll start. That will give me a chance to buy the new carburetor,
and make some other little changes."
"Well, let's go down now," suggested Uncle Ezra. "Hello, what's
this?" he cried, looking at his coat. "Why, I'm all covered with
"Yes, it does drip a little," admitted the aviator. "I haven't
tightened the washers on the tank. You mustn't mind a little thing
like that. I often get soaked with oil and gasolene. I should have
told you to put on an old suit."
"But look here!" cried Uncle Ezra, in accents of dismay. "I didn't
put on an old suit! This is my second best. I paid thirteen
dollars for it, and I've bad it four years. It would have been good
for two more if your old oil hadn't leaked on it. Now it's
"You can have it cleaned, perhaps," suggested the lieutenant as he
sent the biplane about in a graceful curve, before getting ready
for a descent.
"Yes, and maybe have to pay a tailor sixty-five cents! Not much!"
cried Uncle Ezra. "I'll clean it myself, with some of the gasolene.
I ain't going to waste money that way. I ought to charge you for
"Well, I'll give you the gasolene to clean it," said the aviator,
with another unseen wink.
"Humph!" ejaculated Uncle Ezra with a grunt, as he tried to hold on
with one hand, and scrub off some of the oil spots with his
"Well, I guess we'll go down now," announced Larson, after making
several sharp ascents and descents to test the efficiency of the
"Why, we're quite a way from the farm!" exclaimed Mr. Larabee,
looking down. "I didn't think we'd come so far."
"Well, I'll show you how quickly we can get back there!" boasted
Larson. "I'll have you at your place in a hurry!"
He turned more power into the motor, and with a rush and a roar,
the biplane shot forward.
But something happened. Either they struck an air pocket, or the
rudder was given too sudden a twist. Anyway, the airship shot
toward the ground at a sharp angle. She would have crashed down
hard, only Larson threw her head up quickly, checking, in a measure,
But he could not altogether control the craft, and it swept past a
tree in an orchard where they were forced to land, the side wing
tearing off the limbs and branches.
Then, bouncing down to the ground, the airship, tilted on one end,
and shot Uncle Ezra out with considerable force. He landed in a
heap of dirt, turned a somersault, and sat up with a queer look on
IN NEW YORK.
"Well, this is going some!"
"I should say yes!"
"All to the merry!"
"And no more trouble than as if you got in a taxicab and told the
chauffeur to take you around the block."
Thus did Dick Hamilton's chums offer him their congratulations as
they started off on the trip they hoped would bring to the young
millionaire the twenty-thousand-dollar prize, and, not only do that
but establish a new record in airship flights, and also give to the
world the benefit of the experience in building such a unique craft.
They were in the Abaris flying along over the town of Hamilton
Corners, a most successful start having been made. As they
progressed through the air many curious eyes were turned up to watch
"I say! Which way are you steering?" asked Paul, as he came back
from a trip to the dining-room buffet, where he had helped himself
to a sandwich, a little lunch having been set out by Innis, who
constituted himself as cook. "You're heading East instead of West,
Dick," for the young millionaire was at the steering-wheel.
"I know it," replied the helmsman, as he noted the figures on the
barograph. "But you see, to stand a chance for the prize you've
got to start from New York, and that's where we're headed for now.
We've got to go to the big town first, and then we'll hit the
Western trail as nearly in a straight line as we can."
"That's the idea," said Lieutenant McBride. "The conditions call
for a start from New York, and I have arranged for the beginning of
your flight from the grounds at Fort Wadsworth. That will give the
army officers there a chance to inspect your machine, Mr. Hamilton."
"And I'll be very glad to have them see it," Dick said, "and to
offer their congratulations to Mr. Vardon on his success."
"And yours, too," added the aviator. "I couldn't have done anything
had it not been for you."
"Then we really aren't on the prize winning flight, yet?" asked
Larry, who wanted to get all the information he could for his paper.
"Not exactly," replied the lieutenant. "And yet the performance of
the airship will count on this flight, in a measure. I have been
instructed to watch how she behaves, and incorporate it in my
report. It may be, Mr. Hamilton, though I hope not, that the prize
will not come to you. But you may stand a chance of having your
airship adopted by Uncle Sam, for all that."
"That would be a fine feather in my cap!" cried Dick. "I don't care
so much for the money, I guess you all know that."
"I should say not!" cried Innis, with a laugh.
"Any fellow who's worth a million doesn't have to bother about a
little small change like twenty thousand dollars."
"Not that I haven't a due regard for the prize," went on Dick. "But
if I lost it, and still could have the honor of producing an airship
that would be thought worthy of government approval, that would be
"Indeed it would!" agreed the lieutenant.
"Are we going to have any time at all in New York?" asked Paul. "I
have some friends there, and--"
"I believe her name is Knox; isn't it?" interrupted Innis, with a
grin at his chum. "First name Grace, lives somewhere up in Central
Park, West; eh, old chap?"
"Oh, dry up!" invited Paul. "Don't you s'pose I've got any friends
"Well, Grace does live in New York," insisted Innis.
"Yes, and so do Irene Martin and Mabel Hanford!" burst out Paul.
"It's as much on you fellows as it is on me," and he fairly glared
at his tormentor.
"Easy!" laughed Dick. "I guess we may as well make a family party
of it while we're about it. Of course we'll see the girls. In fact
I half-promised Miss Hanford I'd call on her if I could get my
airship to work."
"Oh, you sly dog!" mocked Innis. "And you never said a word!"
"I didn't know I could get it to work," laughed Dick, as he stood
at the wheel.
The Abaris was cleaving through the clear air at a fast rate of
speed, though she was not being sent along at her limit. The
aviator wanted to test his machinery at moderate speed for some time
before he turned on full power, and this trip to New York for the
start gave him the very chance wanted.
It was a journey of about five hundred miles from Hamilton Corners
to New York City, and, as Dick and his friends had planned it, they
would be in the air all night.
They had set for themselves a rate of progress of about fifty miles
an hour, and if this was kept up it would take ten hours to the
Of course the journey could have been made in much less time than
that, for Dick's motor was calculated to give a maximum speed of
one hundred miles an hour. But this was straining it to its
capacity. It would be much more feasible, at, least on this trial
trip, to use half that speed. Later, if need be, they could go to
They had started late in the afternoon, and by journeying at fifty
miles an hour they would reach the upper part of New York city in
the morning; that is if nothing occurred to delay them. But the
weather predictions were favorable, and no storms were in prospect.
"I think I'll take her up a bit," remarked Dick, when they had
passed out over the open country, lying outside of Hamilton Corners.
"We might as well get used to good heights, for when we cross the
Rocky Mountains we'll have to ascend some."
"That's right," agreed the lieutenant. "Take her up, Dick."
The young millionaire pulled over the lever of the vertical rudder,
and as the nose of the Abaris was inclined upward, she shot aloft,
her big propellers in the rear pushing her ahead.
"I'm going out on the outer deck and see how it seems," said Larry.
"I want to get some new impressions for the paper. I told the
editor we'd pull off a lot of new stunts. So I guess I'll go
"No, you won't, said Lieutenant McBride, laying a detaining hand on
the arm of the reporter. "Do you see that notice?"
He pointed to one over the door. It read:
"No one will be allowed on the outer deck while the airship is
ascending or descending."
"What's that for? " Larry wanted to know.
"So you won't roll off into space," replied Lieutenant McBride.
"You see the deck is much tilted, when we are going up or down, and
that makes it dangerous. Of course the cabin floor is tilted also,
but there are walls here to save you from taking a tumble in case
you slip. Outside there is only a railing."
"I see," spoke Larry. "Well, I'll stay inside until we get up as
high as Dick wants to take us."
"Not very high this time," the young millionaire answered. "About
six thousand feet will be enough. We haven't gone quite a mile yet,
and it will be a good test for us."
Steadily the aircraft climbed upward until, when he had noted from
the barograph that they were at a height of nearly six thousand
feet, Dick "straightened her out," and let her glide along on a
"You may now go outside, Larry," said the lieutenant, and the young
reporter and the others, except Dick, who remained at the wheel,
took their places in the open.
It was a strange sensation standing out thus, on a comparatively
frail craft, shooting along at fifty miles an hour over a mile above
the earth. The cabin broke the force of the wind, and there was
really little discomfort. The Abaris sailed so steadily that there
was scarcely a perceptible motion. Larry made some notes for a
story on which he was engaged. He wrote it in his best style, and
then enclosed the "copy" in a leather case.
"I'm going to drop this when we are passing over some city," he
explained. "Someone is sure to pick it up, and I've put a note in
saying that if they will file the copy at some telegraph office, so
it can be sent to my paper, they'll get five dollars on presentation
of my note."
"Good idea!" cried Dick.
"Oh, I've got to get the news to the office, somehow," said Larry
with a smile.
A little later they passed over a large town, and, though they did
not know the name of it, Larry dropped his story and eventually, as
he learned later, it reached the office safely, and made a hit.
In order that all might become familiar with the workings of the
airship, Dick, after a while, relinquished the wheel to one of his
chums. Thus they took turns guiding the craft through the air, and
gained valuable experience.
They flew along easily, and without incident, until dusk began to
overcast the sky, and then the electric lamps were set aglow, and
in the cosy cabin they gathered about the table on which Innis had
spread a tempting lunch.
"Say, this sure is going some!" cried Larry, as he took another
helping of chicken, prepared on the electric stove. "Think of
dining a mile in the air!"
"As long as we don't fall down while we're dining, I shan't mind,"
mumbled Paul, as he picked a wishbone.
The night passed without incident of moment. For a time no one
wanted to go to the comfortable bunks, but Dick insisted that they
must get used to sleeping aboard his craft, so the watch was told
off, two of the occupants of the Abaris to be on duty for two hours
at a time, to be relieved by others.
On and on rushed the airship. Now and then she was speeded up for
a time, as Dick and the aviator wanted to see what she could do when
called on suddenly. She responded each time.
"I think she'll do," said Lieutenant McBride, when it came his turn
to take a little rest. "You have a fine craft, Mr. Hamilton."
"Glad of it," responded Dick. "We'll see what she does when we
straighten her out on the long run to San Francisco."
The night wore on. Above the earth, like some gigantic meteor, flew
the airship, her propellers forcing her onward and onward. Now and
then some of the machinery needed attention, but very little. The
gyroscope stabilizer worked well, and as it was automatic, there was
no need of warping the wing tips, or of using the alerons, which
were provided in case of emergency. The Abaris automatically kept
herself on a level keel, even as a bird does when flying.
The gray dawn crept in through the celluloid windows of the
aircraft. This material had been used instead of glass, to avoid
accidents in case of a crash. The celluloid would merely bend, and
injure no one.
"It's morning!" cried Dick, as he sprang from his bunk, for he had
had the previous watch.
"Morning?" repeated Innis. "Well, where are we?"
"Have to go down and take an observation," suggested the lieutenant.
"I think we must be very near New York."
Paul, who was in charge of the wheel looked for confirmation to
Dick. The latter nodded, and the cadet pulled the lever that would
send the airship on a downward slant.
It was not long before a group of big buildings came into view. It
needed but a glance to tell what they were sky-scrapers.
"New York!" cried Dick. "We're over New York all right!"
"Then I've got to get a message to my paper!" exclaimed Larry. "Is
the wireless working?"
"We'll have to make a landing to send it up," replied Mr. Vardon.
"Well, if we're going down anyhow, a telephone will do as well,"
went on the reporter. "Only it's going to be a job to land down
among all those sky-scrapers."
"We can't do it," Mr. Vardon declared.
"We'll have to head for an open space."
"Central Park, or the Bronx," put in the lieutenant. "Either place
will give us room enough."
"We'll try the Bronx," suggested Dick. "That will give us a chance
to see New York from aloft. We'll land in the Bronx."
They had sailed over to the metropolis from a point about opposite
Jersey City, and now they took a direct Northward course flying
lengthwise over Manhattan.
As they came on down and down, they were observed by thousands of
early workers, who craned their necks upward, and looked with eager
eyes at the big airship over their heads.
A few minutes of flying over the city brought the aviators within
sight of the big beautiful Zoological Park which is the pride of
New York. Below Dick and his chums stretched out the green
expanses, the gardens, the little lakes, and the animal enclosures.
"There's a good place!" exclaimed Dick, pointing to a green expanse
near the wild-fowl pond.
"Then you take the wheel and make it," suggested Innis, who had been
Dick did so, but his hand accidentally touched the gasolene lever,
cutting off the supply to the motor. In an instant the machine went
"Never mind!" cried the young millionaire. "I'll go down anyhow.
No use starting the motor again. I'll volplane and land where I
And, as it happened, he came down in New York, in the midst of the
Bronx Park buffalo range.
It was a perfect landing, the Abaris reaching the ground with
scarcely a jar. But the big, shaggy buffaloes snorted in terror,
and ran in all directions. That is, all but one big bull, and he,
with a bellow of rage, charged straight for the airship!
OFF FOR THE PACIFIC
"Look out for him!"
"Go up in the air again!"
"Has anybody got a gun?"
"Start the motor!"
These, and other excited cries, came from those in Dick Hamilton's
airship as they saw the charging buffalo. The animal was the
largest in the captive herd, probably the leader. It seemed a
strange thing for a modern airship to be threatened with an attack
by a buffalo in these days, but such was the case.
"He may damage us!" cried Dick. "We've got to do something!"
But there seemed nothing to do. Before they could get out of the
cabin of the airship, which now rested on the ground within the
buffalo range, the frightened and infuriated animal might rush at
And, though he would probably come off second best in the odd
battle, he might damage some of the frail planes or rudders.
"Come on!" cried Paul. "Let's all rush out at him at once, and yell
as hard as we can. That may scare him off."
But there was no need of this. Before the buffalo had time to reach
the airship a mounted police officer rode rapidly up to the fence
of the enclosure, and, taking in the situation, novel as it was, at
a glance, he fired several shots from his revolver at the rushing
None of the bullets was intended to hit the buffalo, and none did.
But some came so close, and the noise of the shots was so loud, that
the beast stopped suddenly, and then, after a pause, in which he
snorted, and pawed the ground, he retreated, to stand in front of
the herd of cows and other bulls, probably thinking he constituted
himself their protector against the strange and terrible foe.
"Well, that's over!" exclaimed Dick, with a sigh of relief. "Say,
isn't this the limit? If we bad an airship out on the plains fifty
years ago it wouldn't have been any surprise to be charged by a
buffalo. But here in New York--well, it is just about the extreme
edge, to my way of thinking!"
"All's well that ends well," quoted Innis. "Now let's get
But it seemed that something else was to come first.
"Get your craft out of there," ordered the police officer, who had
fired the shots.
"I guess we'd better," said Dick to his chums. "That buffalo might
change his mind, and come at us again."
"How are we going to get out?" asked Mr. Vardon, as he noticed the
heavy fence around the buffalo enclosure. And there was hardly room
inside it to get the necessary start to raise the big airship.
"I'll unlock this gate for you, and you can wheel her out," said
the officer, who seemed to know something about aircraft. He rode
over to a double gate, which he soon swung open, and Dick and his
chums, by considerable exertion, managed to wheel the airship out
on the walk. The slope of the buffalo enclosure was downward or
they might not have been successful.
"Now then," went on the mounted policeman, when he had locked the
gate to prevent any of the animals from straying out, "who's in
charge of this outfit?"
"I am," admitted Dick, as his chums looked at him.
"Well then, I'm sorry, but I have to place you under arrest," spoke
the officer. "You'll have to come with me."
"Arrest! What for?" gasped Dick.
"Two charges. Entering the buffalo enclosure without a permit, and
flying an airship over a city. I saw you come from down New York
For a moment those of Dick's aviation party hardly knew whether to
treat the matter as a joke or not, but a look at the face of the
officer soon convinced them that he, at least, was in earnest.
"Under arrest!" murmured Dick. "Well, I guess the two charges are
true, as far as that goes. We did fly over the city, but there was
no harm in that, and--"
"Hold on--yes, there was!" exclaimed Mr. Vardon. "It was stupid of
me to forget it, too. It is against the law now for an aeroplane
to fly over a city, and contrary to the agreement of the association
"You are right!" exclaimed Lieutenant McBride. "I should have
thought of that, too, but I was so interested watching the working
of the machinery I forgot all about it. The rule and the law was
made because of the danger to persons over whose heads the
aeroplanes might fly--that is, not so much danger in the flying as
in the corning down. And then, too, as a general thing it might
not be safe for the aviators if they were forced to make a landing.
But we've gone and done it, I guess," and he smiled frankly at the
"As for coming down in the buffalo enclosure, I was sorry we did it
when I saw that old bull coming for us," remarked Dick. "But it
seemed the best place around here for us to land, after our motor
stopped. I suppose it won't do any good to say we're sorry; will
it?" he asked the policeman, with a smile.
"Well, I shall have to do my duty, and arrest you," said the
officer, "but I will explain to the magistrate that you did not mean
to land contrary to the law."
"Who is the magistrate before whom we shall have to appear?" asked
"Judge Scatterwaite," was the answer.
"Good!" cried the young reporter. "I know him. My paper supported
him in the last campaign, and I believe he will be glad to do a
favor for me. Is there a telephone around here?" he asked the
officer. "Oh, we won't run away," he hastened to assure the
guardian of the peace. "I just want to talk to the judge. I'm
Larry Dexter, of the Leader."
"Oh, is that so? I guess I've heard of you. Aren't you the
reporter who worked up that stolen boy case?"
"I am," admitted Larry, modestly. "There's a telephone right over
there, in the Rocking Stone restaurant," went on the officer, who
seemed to regard Larry and his friends in a different light now.
"You can call up the judge. He'll probably be at his house now.
I'll go with you. It may be that he will want to speak to me, and
will dismiss the complaint."
"We'll wait here for you, Larry," said Dick. "There's nothing like
having a reporter with you when you break the law," he added, with
The officer rode his horse slowly along with Larry, going to the
place whence a telephone message could be sent. Larry was soon
talking with the judge, who, on learning the identity of the young
reporter, and having heard the circumstances, spoke to the officer.
"It's all right! " exclaimed the policeman, as he hung up the
receiver. "I'm to let you go. He says he'll find you all guilty,
and will suspend sentence."
"Good!" cried Larry. "That's the time my 'pull' was of some use."
"And I'm glad I didn't have to take you to the station," the mounted
man proceeded. "I'm interested in airships myself. I've got a boy
who's crazy about them, and wireless. He's got a wireless outfit--
made it all himself," he added, proudly.
There was nothing further to worry the aviators, on the return of
Larry with the officer, so they prepared to have breakfast, and then
Lieutenant McBride said he would arrange to have the official start
in the prize race made from Fort Wadsworth.
"But we'll have to fly over New York again," suggested Dick, "and
if we're arrested a second time--"
"I think I can arrange that for you," said the army man. "I will
have the war department make a request of the civil authorities who
will, no doubt, grant permission to soar over the city."
"Good!" cried Dick. "And now for breakfast. Didn't that officer
say something about a restaurant around here?"
"Yes, I telephoned from one," spoke Larry. "Then let's go there
and have breakfast," suggested the young millionaire. "We'll have
a little more room than in the airship, and Innis won't have to do
"Oh, I don't mind," the stout cadet put in.
"What about leaving the airship all alone?" asked Paul, for already
a crowd had gathered about it.
"I'll look out for it while you're gone," promised the officer.
"Isn't there some shed around here where we could leave it, so it
would be safe?" asked Innis.
"What's the idea of that?" Dick wanted to know. "We'll be sailing
down to the fort in an hour or so."
"Why can't we stay over a day or so in New York?" went on Innis.
"I don't get here very often, and I'd like to see the sights."
"You mean you'd like to see the girls!" declared Paul, laughingly.
"Have your own way," murmured Innis. "But, if the airship would be
safe up here in the park, in a shed, we could take our time, and not
have to hurry so."
"I guess that would be a good plan," agreed Dick. "I'd like to see
the girls myself. We'll do it if we can find a shed."
The obliging officer arranged this for them, and the airship was
soon safely housed, a watchman being engaged to keep away the
curious. Then our friends went to breakfast, and, later, down town.
Mr. Vardon wanted to call on some fellow aviators, now that it had
been decided to postpone the start a day, and Larry Dexter had some
business to transact at the newspaper office.
"And we'll go see the girls!" cried Dick.
Mabel Hanford, Grace Knox and Irene Martin, the three young ladies
in whom the boys were more than ordinarily interested, had come on
to New York, after their school closed, and our friends had made a
half-promise to meet them in the metropolis. Now the promise could
be kept. They found the girls at a hotel, where they resided part
of the year, and, sending up their cards, were ushered to their
"And did you really come all the way from Hamilton Corners to New
York in your airship?" asked Mabel of Dick.
"We surely did," he answered. "And we're going to start for San
Francisco tomorrow. We just stopped overnight to see you."
"We appreciate the honor," laughed Irene, with a bow.
"Have you any engagement for tonight?" asked Innis.
"We were going to the theatre," said Grace.
"Isn't there any place we could go to a dance?" inquired Paul.
"Say, he's crazy on these new dances!" exclaimed Dick. "I caught
him doing the 'lame duck' the other night, with the broom for a
"Oh, do you do that?" cried Mabel.
"A little," admitted Paul.
"Will you show us how the steps go?" asked Irene.
"And I know the 'lace glide,' and the 'pivot whirl,'" put in Dick.
"You needn't think you can walk off with all the honors," he said
to his chum, laughingly.
"Oh, let's stay at the hotel and dance tonight," suggested Mabel.
"Mamma will chaperone us. It will be more fun than the theatre."
"We'll have to hire dress suits," said Innis. "We didn't bring them
in the airship."
"No, we'll make it very informal," Grace remarked. "There is a
little private ballroom we can engage."
So it was arranged, and the young people spent an enjoyable evening,
doing some of the newest steps.
"We'll come down to the fort in the morning, and see you start for
San Francisco," promised Mabel, as she said good-night to Dick.
"Will you!" he exclaimed. "That will be fine of you!"
An early morning start was made for the fort, after the airship,
which had been left in Bronx Park all night, had been carefully gone
over. An additional supply of gasolene was taken aboard, some
adjustments made to the machinery, and more food put in the lockers.
"There are the girls!" exclaimed Dick, after they had made a
successful landing at the fort, which they would soon leave on their
"Oh, so they are! I hardly thought they'd come down," observed
Paul, as he waved to the three pretty girls with whom they had
danced the night before.
"I wish we were going with you!" cried Mabel, as she greeted Dick.
"Oh, Mabel! You do not!" rebuked Irene.
"Well, I just do!" was the retort. "It's so stupid just staying at
a summer resort during the hot weather."
"We'll come back, after we win the prize, and do the 'aeroplane
glide' with you," promised Innis.
"Will you?" demanded Irene. "Remember now, that's a promise."
Final arrangements were made, and everything was in readiness for
the start for the Pacific. The army officers had inspected the
craft, and congratulated the young owner and the builder on her
"Well, good-bye, girls," said Dick, as he and his chums shook hands
with their friends who had come to see them off. The aviators took
their places in the cabin. A hasty inspection showed that
everything was in readiness.
"Well, here we go!" murmured Dick.
He turned the switch of the electric starter, and, an instant later,
the Abaris shot forward over the ground, rising gracefully on a
long, upward slant.
Then Dick, who was at the steering wheel, headed his craft due West.
From the parade ground below them came cheers from the army men and
other spectators, the shrill cries of the three girls mingling.
"I wonder what will happen before we dance with them again?" spoke
"You can't tell," answered Innis, as he looked down for a last sight
of a certain pretty face.
"Well, we can only hit the ground twice between here and San
Francisco," remarked Dick, as he turned on more power. "If we have
to come down the third time--we lose the prize."
"We're not going to lose it!" asserted Mr. Vardon, earnestly.
Of course there were many more entrants for the prize than Dick
Hamilton. Two airships had started that morning before he got off
in his craft, and three others were to leave that afternoon. One
prominent birdman from the West was due to start the next day, and
on the following two from the South were scheduled to leave. There
were also several well-known foreigners who were making a try for
the fame, honor and money involved.
But this story only concerns Dick Hamilton's airship, and the
attempt of himself, and his Uncle Ezra, to win the prize, and I have
space for no more than a mere mention of the other contestants.
UNCLE EZRA STARTS OFF
Let us now, for a moment, return to Uncle Ezra. We left him sitting
on the ground after his rather unceremonious exit from the airship
which had crashed into the apple tree in the orchard. Somehow the
strap, holding him to his seat, had come unbuckled, which accounted
for his plight.
"Are you hurt?" asked Lieutenant Larson, after a quick glance that
assured him the airship was not badly damaged.
"I don't know's I'm hurt such a terrible lot," was the slow answer,
"but my clothes are all dirt. This suit is plumb ruined now. I
swan I'd never have gone in for airships if I knew how expensive
they'd be. This suit cost thirteen dollars and--"
"You're lucky you don't have to pay for a funeral," was the
lieutenant's grim answer. "You must look to your seat strap better
"Well, I didn't know the blamed thing was going to cut up like
this!" returned the crabbed old man. "That's no way to land."
"I know it. But I couldn't help it," was the answer. "I'm glad
you're not hurt. But I think we have attracted some attention.
Here comes someone."
A man was running through the orchard.
"It's Hank Crittenden, and he hates me like poison!" murmured Uncle
Ezra, as he arose from the pile of dirt, and tried to get some of
it off his clothes.
"Hi, there! What's this mean?" demanded Hank, as he rushed up,
clutching a stout club. "What d'ye mean, comin' down in my orchard,
and bustin' up my best Baldwin tree? What d'ye mean?"
"It was an accident--purely an accident," said Lieutenant Larson,
suavely. "It could not be helped."
"Accident? You done it on puppose, that's what you did!" cried
Hank, glaring at Uncle Ezra. "You done it on puppose, and I'll sue
ye for damages, that's what I'll do! That Baldwin apple tree was
one of the best in my orchard."
"Well, we didn't mean to do it," declared Mr. Larabee. "And if you
sue we can prove in court it was an accident. So you'll have your
trouble for your pains."
"I will, hey? Well, I'll show you, Ezra Larabee. I'll teach you
to come around here bustin' my things up with your old airship!
You ought to be ashamed of yourself, a man of your age, trying to
fly like a hen or rooster."
"I'm trying for the government prize," said Dick's uncle, weakly.
"Huh! A heap sight chance YOU have of winnin' a prize, flyin' like
that!" sneered Mr. Crittenden. "Comin' down in my orchard that
"It was an accident," went on the former army man. "We were making
a landing, but we did not intend to come clown just in that spot.
We are sorry the tree is broken, but accidents will happen, and--"
"Yes, and them as does 'em must pay for 'em!" exclaimed Hank.
At the mention of money Uncle Ezra looked pained. He looked more
so when Hank went on:
"I'll have damages for that tree, that's what I'll have and good
damages too. That was my best Baldwin tree--"
"You told us that before," said Larson, as he began to wheel the
aeroplane out into an open space where he could get it started
"Here, where you takin' that?" demanded Hank, suspiciously.
"We're going to fly back to Dankville," replied Mr. Larson.
"No, you ain't! You ain't goin' t' move that machine until you pay
fer the damage to my tree!" insisted Hank, as he took a firmer grasp
of the club. "I want ten dollars for what you done to my tree."
"Ten dollars!" grasped Uncle Ezra. "Tain't wuth half that if it
was loaded with apples."
"Well, you'll pay me ten dollars, Ezra Larabee, or you don't take
that machine away from here!" insisted the owner of the orchard.
"You beat me once in a lawsuit, but you won't again!"
The two had been enemies for many years, Mr. Crittenden insisting
that a certain lawsuit, which went against him, had been wrongfully
decided in favor of Dick's uncle.
"Well, I won't pay no ten dollars," said Mr. Larabee, firmly,
putting his hand in his pocket, as if to resist any attempt to get
money from it.
"Ten dollars or you don't take that machine out!" cried Hank.
"You're trespassers on my land, too! I could have you arrested for
that, as well as suin' ye fer bustin' my tree."
"I'll never pay," said Uncle Ezra. "Come on, Lieutenant, we'll take
the airship out in spite of him."
"Oh, you will, eh?" cried Hank. "Well, we'll see about that! I
reckoned you'd try some such mean game as that Ezra Larabee, and
I'm ready for you. Here, Si and Bill!" he called, and from behind
a big tree stepped two stalwart hired men, armed with pitchforks.
"This Ezra Larabee allows he'll not pay for damagin' my tree,"
explained Hank. "I say he shall, and I don't want you boys t' let
him take his contraption away until he forks over ten dollars."
"It ain't worth nigh that sum," began Mr. Larabee. "I'll never--"
"I think, perhaps, you had better pay it to avoid trouble," said
the lieutenant. "He has some claim on us."
"Oh, dear!" groaned Uncle Ezra. "More money! This airship business
will ruin me. Ten dollars!"
"Not a cent less!" declared Hank.
"Won't you call it eight?" asked the crabbed old miser.
"Ten dollars if you want to take away your machine, and then you
can consider yourselves lucky that I don't sue you for trespass.
Hand over ten dollars!"
"Never!" declared Ezra Larabee.
"I really think you had better," advised the aviator, and then with
a wry face, and much reluctance, Dick's uncle passed over the money.
"Now, you kin go!" cried Hank, "but if I ketch you on my property
ag'in you won't git off so easy. You can go back, boys; I won't
need you this time," he added grimly.
The hired men departed, and Mr. Crittenden, pocketing the money,
watched the lieutenant and Uncle Ezra wheel the biplane out to an
open place where a start could be made.
The machine was somewhat damaged, but it could still be operated.
The motor, however, was obstinate, and would not start. Hank added
insult to injury, at least in the opinion of Uncle Ezra, by laughing
at the efforts of the lieutenant. And finally when the motor did
consent to "mote," it went so slowly that not enough momentum could
be obtained to make the airship rise. It simply rolled slowly over
"Ha! Ha! That's a fine flyin' machine you've got there!" cried
Hank, laughing heartily. "You'd better walk if you're goin' t' git
any gov'ment prize!"
"Oh, dry up!" spluttered Uncle Ezra, who was now "real mad" as he
admitted later. He and the lieutenant wheeled the machine back to
have another try, and this time they were successful in getting up
in the air. The aviator circled about and headed for Dankville,
the airship having come down about three miles from Uncle Ezra's
"Well, you're flyin' that's a fact!" cried Mr. Crittenden, as he
looked aloft at them. "But I wouldn't be surprised t' see 'em come
smashin' down ag'in any minute," he added pessimistically. "Anyhow,
I got ten dollars out of Ezra Larabee!" he concluded, with a
Mr. Larabee looked glum when he and the lieutenant got back to the
"This is costing me a terrible pile of money!" said the crabbed old
man. "A terrible pile! And I reckon you'll have to spend more for
fixing her up; won't you?" he asked, in a tone that seemed to
indicate he hoped for a negative answer.
"Oh, yes, we'll have to fix her up," said the lieutenant, "and buy
a new carburetor, too. You know you promised that."
"Yes, I suppose so," sighed Uncle Ezra. "More money! And that
skunk Hank Crittenden got ten dollars out of me! I'll never hear
the last of that. I'd rather have landed anywhere but on his land.
Oh, this is awful! I wish I'd never gone into it."
"But think of the twenty thousand dollars," said the former army
man quickly. It would not do to have his employer get too much
discouraged. And the aviator wanted more money--very much more.
The airship was repaired in the next few days, though there was a
constant finding of fault on the part of Uncle Ezra. He parted with
cash most reluctantly.
However, he had officially made his entry for the government prize,
and he could not withdraw now. He must keep on. Lieutenant Larson
arranged with one of the army aviators to accompany them on the
prospective trip from coast to coast, and finally Larson announced
that he was ready to start for New York, where the flight would
"Well, Ezra," said his wife, as he climbed into the machine on the
day appointed, "I don't like to be a discourager, and throw cold
water on you, but I don't reckon I'll ever see you again, Ezra,"
and she wiped her eyes.
"Oh, pshaw! Of course you'll see me again!" her husband cried. "I'm
going to come back with that twenty thousand dollars. And I--I'll
buy a new carriage;--that's what I will!"
"That's awful good of you, Ezra," she said. "But I'm not countin'
on it. I'm afraid you'll never come back," she sighed.
"Oh, yes, I will!" he declared. "Good-bye!"
They were to pick up the army officer in New York, and so Larson
and Uncle Ezra made the first part of the journey alone. They had
considerable trouble on the way, having to come down a number of
"Say, if she's going to work this way what will happen when we start
for San Francisco?" asked Mr. Larabee.
"Oh, it will be all right when I make a few changes in her," the
lieutenant said. "And when we have another man aboard she'll ride
"Well, I hope so," murmured Uncle Ezra. "But more changes! Will
Uncle Ezra groaned.
However, New York was eventually reached, and after some repairs
and changes were made, the airship was taken to the same place where
Dick's had started from, and with the army representative aboard,
the journey for the Pacific coast was begun. The beginning of the
flight was auspicious enough, but if Uncle Ezra could have known all
that was before him I am doubtful if he would have gone on.
AN IMPROMPTU RACE
"How's she running?"
"Couldn't be better!"
"You're not crowding her though, are you? I mean we can go faster;
"Oh, yes, but I think if we average fifty miles an hour for the
whole trip, we'll be doing well."
Dick, Paul and Innis were talking together in the small pilot-house
of the airship. And it was Dick who made the remark about the
speed. They had risen high above New York now, and were headed
across the Hudson to the Jersey shore. They would cover the Western
part of the Garden State.
"It sure is great!" cried Innis, as he looked down from the height.
"If anyone had told me, a year ago, that I'd be doing this, I'd
never have believed him."
"Me either!" declared Dick. "But it's the best sport I ever heard
"And you sure have got some airship!" declared Larry, admiringly.
The young reporter had just finished writing an account of the
start, heading his article, "Aboard the Abaris," and, enclosed in
a leather holder, had dropped the story from a point near the
clouds. The leather cylinder had a small flag attached to it, and
as it was dropped down while the airship was shooting across the
city, it attracted considerable attention. By means of a glass
Larry saw his story picked up, and he felt sure it would reach the
paper safely. And he learned, later, such was the case.
"We'd better arrange to divide up the work of running things while
we're in the airship," suggested Dick. "We want to have some sort
"That's right," agreed Mr. Vardon. "We shall have to do some
"How long do you figure you will take for the trip?" asked
Lieutenant McBride, who was making official notes of the manner in
which the motor behaved, and of the airship in general.
"Well," answered Dick, "we can make a hundred miles an hour when
we're put to it," and he looked at Mr. Vardon for confirmation.
"Yes, that can be done," the aviator said. "But of course we could
not keep that up, as the motor would hardly stand it. But fifty
miles, on the average, for the entire trip, would be a fair estimate
"And figuring on it being three thousand miles from New York to San
Francisco, we could do it in sixty hours of continuous flight,"
added Dick. "Only of course we'll not have such luck as that."
"No, we've got to make one descent anyhow, about half-way across,
to take on more oil and gasolene," Mr. Vardon said. "And we will
be very lucky if we don't have to come down but once more on the
way. But we may have luck."
"I think we will!" cried Dick.
While the young millionaire was at the wheel, taking the airship
higher and higher, and Westward on her journey. Mr. Vardon and
Lieutenant McBride arranged a schedule of work, so that each one
would have an opportunity of steering.
"And while you're at it," suggested Innis, "I wish you'd arrange a
schedule for the cooking. Have I got to do it all?"
"Indeed not," said Dick. "We'll put Paul and Larry to work in the
"Not me!" exclaimed Paul. "I can't even cook water without burning
"Get out! Don't you always do your share of the camp cooking when
we go off on hikes and practice marches?" objected Innis, to his
cadet chum. "Indeed and you'll do your share of it here all right!
I'll see to that."
"I guess I'm caught!" admitted Paul.
The start had been made about ten o'clock in the morning, and before
noon more than ninety miles had been covered, as registered on the
distance gage. This took the party across New Jersey.
They had passed over Newark, and the Orange mountains. The rule
against flying over a city had bothered Dick who argued that it
would take him much out of his air line, and consume more time if
he always had to pick out an unpopulated section.
So the rule was abrogated as far as the aviation association was
"And if the policemen of any cities we fly over want to take a
chance and chase us in an aerial motor cycle, let 'em come!" laughed
the young millionaire.
Dinner was served at a height of about eight thousand feet. Dick
wanted to get himself and his companions accustomed to great
heights, as they would have to fly high over the Rockies. There
was some little discomfort, at first, in the rarefied atmosphere,
but they soon got used to it, and liked it. Grit, however, suffered
considerably, and did not seem to care for aeroplaning. But he was
made so much of, and everyone was so fond of, him that he seemed,
after a while, to forget his troubles. He wanted to be near Dick
all the time.
Mr. Vardon was a veteran aviator, and heights did not bother him.
Lieutenant McBride, too, had had considerable experience.
Afternoon found the Abaris over Pennsylvania, which state would
require about six hours to cross at the speed of fifty miles every
sixty minutes. The captive balloons, and other landmarks, enabled
them to keep to their course.
Dick put his craft through several "stunts" to further test its
reliability and flexibility. To every one she answered perfectly.
The gyroscope stabilizer was particularly effective, and no matter
how severe a strain was put on the craft, she either came to an even
keel at once when deflected from it, or else did not deviate from
"I shall certainly report as to the wisdom of having such an
apparatus on every airship the United States uses," declared
Lieutenant McBride. "No matter whether Dick Hamilton's craft wins
the prize or not,--and I certainly hope he does--the gyroscope must
"I am glad to hear you say so," spoke the inventor, "but I never
would have been able to perfect it had it not been for my friend
"Why don't you blush, Dick?" asked Innis, playfully.
"I don't take any credit to myself at all," said the young
"Well, I'm going to give it to you," declared the aviator. "From
now on the gyroscope stabilizer will be known as the
Vardon-Hamilton, and some additional patents I contemplate taking
out will be in our joint names."
"Thanks," said Dick, "but I'll accept only on one condition."
"What is that?"
"It is that no money from this invention comes to me. If I win the
twenty thousand dollar prize I'll be content."
"What are you going to do with the money?" asked Paul Drew, for Dick
really had no need of it.
"I'll build a new gym, at Kentfield," was the reply. "Our present
one is too small. We need an indoor baseball cage too."
"Good for you!" cried Innis. "You're a real sport!"
In the evolutions of the airship each one aboard was given a chance
to pilot her. He was also allowed to stop and start the machinery,
since it could not be told at what moment, in an emergency, someone
would have to jump into the breech.
It was about three o'clock in the afternoon, when Dick's ship was
nearing the Western borders of Pennsylvania, that Paul, who was
looking down through the celluloid floor in the cabin, cried out:
"Something going on down below us, boys!"
All save Innis, who was steering, crowded around the odd window.
"Why, there's an airship meet going on down there," said Dick.
"Look, there are a lot of monoplanes and some biplanes."
"Let's go down a bit and salute them," suggested Larry.
"Down she is!" cried Innis, as he pulled over the lever of the
deflecting rudder. "Say when, Dick."
"Oh, keep her up about two thousand feet. We don't want to
interfere with any of their evolutions."
But the advent of the Abaris seemed welcomed by the other airships
that were taking part in the evolutions below. Two of them, which
had been flying high, at once pointed their noses upward, and raced
forward to get in line with Dick's craft.
"They're going to race us!" Paul shouted.
"Come on, Dick, now's your chance!"
"Shall I?" the young millionaire asked of Mr. Vardon.
"Yes, go ahead. Let's see what we can do to them. Though they are
probably much swifter than we are."
"Take the wheel, Dick!" cried Innis. "I want to see you beat 'em."
The implied challenge was at once accepted, and in another moment
the impromptu race was under way.
Two large biplanes were in the race with Dick Hamilton's airship.
They were of the latest type, as could be noted by the young
millionaire, and were swift craft. They had come up from behind,
on a long, upward slant, and were now about in line with each other,
and on a par with the Abaris, though considerably below her.
"Say, look at that crowd of people!" exclaimed Paul, as he stood at
the side of Dick who was at the wheel. The cadet was ready to lend
any assistance that might be needed in working the airship.
"Yes, there is quite a bunch," observed Dick, as he opened the
gasolene throttle a little wider, and took a quick glance down
through the celluloid bull's-eye in the floor of the cabin. "It's
a big meet."
They were flying over a big aviation park, that Mr. Vardon at once
recognized as one in which he had given several exhibitions.
"This is quite a meet, all right," the aviator remarked as he noted
at least ten machines in the air at one time. There were mono and
biplanes, but only two of the latter were near enough to Dick's
machine to engage in the impromptu race with it.
"How are we coming on?" asked Paul.
"Holding our own," answered the young millionaire. "I haven't
started to speed yet. I'm waiting to see what those fellows are
going to do."
The latter, however, were evidently also hanging back trying to "get
a line" on the performance of the big craft. The pilots of the
lower biplanes could, very likely, tell by the size of the Abaris
that she was no ordinary airship, and, in all probability, they had
read of her, and of the try for the prize. For Larry Dexter made
a good press agent, and had written many a story of Dick's plans.