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The Master Key by L. Frank Baum

Part 2 out of 3

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straight in, as I haven't any friends to give me a regular introduction."

So he boldly advanced to the gate, where he found himself stopped by
crossed carbines and a cry of "Halt!"

"Excuse me," said Rob; "I'm in a hurry."

He pushed the carbines aside and marched on. The soldiers made
thrusts at him with their weapons, and an officer jabbed at his breast
with a glittering sword, but the Garment of Repulsion protected him
from these dangers as well as from a hail of bullets that followed his
advancing figure.

He reached the entrance of the palace only to face another group of
guardsmen and a second order to halt, and as these soldiers were over
six feet tall and stood shoulder to shoulder Rob saw that he could not
hope to pass them without using his electric tube.

"Stand aside, you fellows!" he ordered.

There was no response. He extended the tube and, as he pressed the
button, described a semi-circle with the instrument. Immediately the
tall guardsmen toppled over like so many tenpins, and Rob stepped
across their bodies and penetrated to the reception room, where a
brilliant assemblage awaited, in hushed and anxious groups, for
opportunity to obtain audience with the king.

"I hope his Majesty isn't busy," said Rob to a solemn-visaged official
who confronted him. "I want to have a little talk with him."

"I--I--ah--beg pardon!" exclaimed the astounded master of ceremonies.
"What name, please?"

"Oh, never mind my name," replied Rob, and pushing the gentleman aside
he entered the audience chamber of the great king.

King Edward was engaged in earnest consultation with one of his
ministers, and after a look of surprise in Rob's direction and a grave
bow he bestowed no further attention upon the intruder.

But Rob was not to be baffled now.

"Your Majesty," he interrupted, "I've important news for you. A big
fight is taking place in South Africa and your soldiers will probably
be cut into mince meat."

The minister strode towards the boy angrily.

"Explain this intrusion!" he cried.

"I have explained. The Boers are having a regular killing-bee. Here!
take a look at it yourselves."

He drew the Record from his pocket, and at the movement the minister
shrank back as if he suspected it was an infernal machine and might
blow his head off; but the king stepped quietly to the boy's side and
looked into the box when Rob threw open the lid.

As he comprehended the full wonder of the phenomenon he was observing
Edward uttered a low cry of amazement, but thereafter he silently
gazed upon the fierce battle that still raged far away upon the
African VELD. Before long his keen eye recognized the troops engaged
and realized their imminent danger.

"They'll be utterly annihilated!" he gasped. "What shall we do?"

"Oh, we can't do anything just now," answered Rob. "But it's curious
to watch how bravely the poor fellows fight for their lives."

The minister, who by this time was also peering into the box, groaned
aloud, and then all three forgot their surroundings in the tragedy
they were beholding.

Hemmed in by vastly superior numbers, the English were calmly and
stubbornly resisting every inch of advance and selling their lives as
dearly as possible. Their leader fell pierced by a hundred bullets,
and the king, who had known him from boyhood, passed his hand across
his eyes as if to shut out the awful sight. But the fascination of
the battle forced him to look again, and the next moment he cried aloud:

"Look there! Look there!"

Over the edge of a line of hills appeared the helmets of a file of
English soldiers. They reached the summit, followed by rank after
rank, until the hillside was alive with them. And then, with a ringing
cheer that came like a faint echo to the ears of the three watchers,
they broke into a run and dashed forward to the rescue of their brave
comrades. The Boers faltered, gave back, and the next moment fled
precipitately, while the exhausted survivors of the courageous band
fell sobbing into the arms of their rescuers.

Rob closed the lid of the Record with a sudden snap that betrayed his
deep feeling, and the king pretended to cough behind his handkerchief
and stealthily wiped his eyes.

"'Twasn't so bad, after all," remarked the boy, with assumed cheerfulness;
"but it looked mighty ticklish for your men at one time."

King Edward regarded the boy curiously, remembering his abrupt
entrance and the marvelous device he had exhibited.

"What do you call that?" he asked, pointing at the Record with a
finger that trembled slightly from excitement.

"It is a new electrical invention," replied Rob, replacing it in his
pocket, "and so constructed that events are reproduced at the exact
moment they occur."

"Where can I purchase one?" demanded the king, eagerly.

"They're not for sale," said Rob. "This one of mine is the first that
ever happened."


"I really think," continued the boy, nodding sagely, "that it wouldn't
be well to have these Records scattered around. Their use would give
some folks unfair advantage over others, you know."


"I only showed you this battle because I happened to be in London at
the time and thought you'd be interested."

"It was very kind of you," said Edward; "but how did you gain admittance?"

"Well, to tell the truth, I was obliged to knock over a few of your
tall life-guards. They seem to think you're a good thing and need
looking after, like jam in a cupboard."

The king smiled.

"I hope you haven't killed my guards," said he.

"Oh, no; they'll come around all right."

"It is necessary," continued Edward, "that public men be protected
from intrusion, no matter how democratic they may be personally. You
would probably find it as difficult to approach the President of the
United States as the King of England."

"Oh, I'm not complaining," said Rob. "It wasn't much trouble
to break through."

"You seem quite young to have mastered such wonderful secrets of
Nature," continued the king.

"So I am," replied Rob, modestly; "but these natural forces have
really existed since the beginning of the world, and some one was
sure to discover them in time." He was quoting the Demon,
although unconsciously.

"You are an American, I suppose," said the minister, coming close to
Rob and staring him in the face.

"Guessed right the first time," answered the boy, and drawing his
Character Marking spectacles from his pocket, he put them on and
stared at the minister in turn.

Upon the man's forehead appeared the letter "E."

"Your Majesty," said Rob, "I have here another queer invention. Will
you please wear these spectacles for a few moments?"

The king at once put them on.

"They are called Character Markers," continued the boy, "because the
lenses catch and concentrate the character vibrations radiating from
every human individual and reflect the true character of the person
upon his forehead. If a letter 'G' appears, you may be sure his
disposition is good; if his forehead is marked with an 'E' his
character is evil, and you must beware of treachery."

The king saw the "E" plainly marked upon his minister's forehead, but
he said nothing except "Thank you," and returned the spectacles to Rob.

But the minister, who from the first had been ill at ease, now became
positively angry.

"Do not believe him, your Majesty!" he cried. "It is a trick, and
meant to deceive you."

"I did not accuse you," answered the king, sternly. Then he added:
"I wish to be alone with this young gentleman."

The minister left the room with an anxious face and hanging head.

"Now," said Rob, "let's look over the record of the past day and see
if that fellow has been up to any mischief."

He turned the cylinder of the Record to "England," and slowly the
events of the last twenty-four hours were reproduced, one after the
other, upon the polished plate.

Before long the king uttered an exclamation. The Record pictured a
small room in which were seated three gentlemen engaged in earnest
conversation. One of them was the accused minister.

"Those men," said the king in a low voice, while he pointed out the
other two, "are my avowed enemies. This is proof that your wonderful
spectacles indicated my minister's character with perfect truth. I am
grateful to you for thus putting me upon my guard, for I have trusted
the man fully."

"Oh, don't mention it," replied the boy, lightly; "I'm glad to have
been of service to you. But it's time for me to go."

"I hope you will favor me with another interview," said the king, "for
I am much interested in your electrical inventions. I will instruct
my guards to admit you at any time, so you will not be obliged to
fight your way in."

"All right. But it really doesn't matter," answered Rob. "It's no
trouble at all to knock 'em over."

Then he remembered his manners and bowed low before the king, who
seemed to him "a fine fellow and not a bit stuck up." And then he
walked calmly from the palace.

The people in the outer room stared at him wonderingly and the officer
of the guard saluted the boy respectfully. But Rob only smiled in an
amused way as he marched past them with his hands thrust deep into his
trousers' pockets and his straw hat tipped jauntily upon the back of
his head.

11. The Man of Science

Rob passed the remainder of the day wandering about London and amusing
himself by watching the peculiar ways of the people. When it became
so dark that there was no danger of his being observed, he rose
through the air to the narrow slit in the church tower and lay upon
the floor of the little room, with the bells hanging all around him,
to pass the night.

He was just falling asleep when a tremendous din and clatter nearly
deafened him, and set the whole tower trembling. It was the
midnight chime.

Rob clutched his ears tightly, and when the vibrations had died away
descended by the ladder to a lower platform. But even here the next
hourly chime made his ears ring, and he kept descending from platform
to platform until the last half of a restless night was passed in the
little room at the bottom of the tower.

When, at daylight, the boy sat up and rubbed his eyes, he said,
wearily: "Churches are all right as churches; but as hotels they are
rank failures. I ought to have bunked in with my friend, King Edward."

He climbed up the stairs and the ladders again and looked out the
little window in the belfry. Then he examined his map of Europe.

"I believe I'll take a run over to Paris," he thought. "I must be
home again by Saturday, to meet the Demon, so I'll have to make every
day count."

Without waiting for breakfast, since he had eaten a tablet the evening
before, he crept through the window and mounted into the fresh morning
air until the great city with its broad waterway lay spread out
beneath him. Then he sped away to the southeast and, crossing the
channel, passed between Amiens and Rouen and reached Paris before
ten o'clock.

Near the outskirts of the city appeared a high tower, upon the flat
roof of which a man was engaged in adjusting a telescope. Upon seeing
Rob, who was passing at no great distance from this tower, the man
cried out:


Then he waved his hands frantically in the air, and fairly danced with
excitement. So the boy laughed and dropped down to the roof where,
standing beside the Frenchman, whose eyes were actually protruding
from their sockets, he asked, coolly:

"Well, what do you want?"

The other was for a moment speechless. He was a tall, lean man,
having a bald head but a thick, iron-gray beard, and his black eyes
sparkled brightly from behind a pair of gold-rimmed spectacles. After
attentively regarding the boy for a time he said, in broken English:

"But, M'sieur, how can you fly wizout ze--ze machine? I have experiment
myself wiz some air-ship; but you--zere is nossing to make go!"

Rob guessed that here was his opportunity to do the Demon a favor by
explaining his electrical devices to this new acquaintance, who was
evidently a man of science.

"Here is the secret, Professor," he said, and holding out his wrist
displayed the traveling machine and explained, as well as he could,
the forces that operated it.

The Frenchman, as you may suppose, was greatly astonished, and to show
how perfectly the machine worked Rob turned the indicator and rose a
short distance above the tower, circling around it before he rejoined
the professor on the roof. Then he showed his food tablets,
explaining how each was stored with sufficient nourishment for an
entire day.

The scientist positively gasped for breath, so powerful was the
excitement he experienced at witnessing these marvels.

"Eet is wonderful--grand--magnifique!" he exclaimed.

"But here is something of still greater interest," continued Rob, and
taking the Automatic Record of Events from his pocket he allowed the
professor to view the remarkable scenes that were being enacted
throughout the civilized world.

The Frenchman was now trembling violently, and he implored Rob to tell
him where he might obtain similar electrical machines.

"I can't do that," replied the boy, decidedly; "but, having seen
these, you may be able to discover their construction for yourself.
Now that you know such things to be possible and practical, the hint
should be sufficient to enable a shrewd electrician to prepare
duplicates of them."

The scientist glared at him with evident disappointment,
and Rob continued:

"These are not all the wonders I can exhibit. Here is another electrical
device that is, perhaps, the most remarkable of any I possess."

He took the Character Marking spectacles from his pocket and fitted
them to his eyes. Then he gave a whistle of surprise and turned his
back upon his new friend. He had seen upon the Frenchman's forehead
the letters "E" and "C."

"Guess I've struck the wrong sort of scientist, after all!" he
muttered, in a disgusted tone.

His companion was quick to prove the accuracy of the Character Marker.
Seeing the boy's back turned, he seized a long iron bar that was used
to operate the telescope, and struck at Rob so fiercely that had he
not worn the Garment of Protection his skull would have been crushed by
the blow. At it was, the bar rebounded with a force that sent the
murderous Frenchman sprawling upon the roof, and Rob turned around and
laughed at him.

"It won't work, Professor," he said. "I'm proof against assassins.
Perhaps you had an idea that when you had killed me you could rob me
of my valuable possessions; but they wouldn't be a particle of use to
a scoundrel like you, I assure you! Good morning."

Before the surprised and baffled scientist could collect himself
sufficiently to reply, the boy was soaring far above his head and
searching for a convenient place to alight, that he might investigate
the charms of this famed city of Paris.

It was indeed a beautiful place, with many stately buildings lining
the shady boulevards. So thronged were the streets that Rob well knew
he would soon be the center of a curious crowd should he alight upon
them. Already a few sky-gazers had noted the boy moving high in the
air, above their heads, and one or two groups stood pointing their
fingers at him.

Pausing at length above the imposing structure of the Hotel Anglais,
Rob noticed at one of the upper floors an open window, before which
was a small iron balcony. Alighting upon this he proceeded to enter,
without hesitation, the open window. He heard a shriek and a cry of
"AU VOLEUR!" and caught sight of a woman's figure as she dashed into
an adjoining room, slamming and locking the door behind her.

"I don't know as I blame her," observed Rob, with a smile at the panic
he had created. "I s'pose she takes me for a burglar, and thinks I've
climbed up the lightning rod."

He soon found the door leading into the hallway and walked down
several flights of stairs until he reached the office of the hotel.

"How much do you charge a day?" he inquired, addressing a fat and
pompous-looking gentlemen behind the desk.

The man looked at him in a surprised way, for he had not heard the boy
enter the room. But he said something in French to a waiter who was
passing, and the latter came to Rob and made a low bow.

"I speak ze Eengliss ver' fine," he said. "What desire have you?"

"What are your rates by the day?" asked the boy.

"Ten francs, M'sieur."

"How many dollars is that?"

"Dollar Americaine?"

"Yes; United States money."

"Ah, OUI! Eet is ze two dollar, M'sieur."

"All right; I can stay about a day before I go bankrupt.
Give me a room."

"CERTAINEMENT, M'sieur. Have you ze luggage?"

"No; but I'll pay in advance," said Rob, and began counting out his
dimes and nickles and pennies, to the unbounded amazement of the
waiter, who looked as if he had never seen such coins before.

He carried the money to the fat gentleman, who examined the pieces
curiously, and there was a long conference between them before it was
decided to accept them in payment for a room for a day. But at this
season the hotel was almost empty, and when Rob protested that he had
no other money the fat gentleman put the coins into his cash box with
a resigned sigh and the waiter showed the boy to a little room at the
very top of the building.

Rob washed and brushed the dust from his clothes, after which he sat
down and amused himself by viewing the pictures that constantly formed
upon the polished plate of the Record of Events.

12. How Rob Saved A Republic

While following the shifting scenes of the fascinating Record Rob
noted an occurrence that caused him to give a low whistle of
astonishment and devote several moments to serious thought.

"I believe it's about time I interfered with the politics of this
Republic," he said, at last, as he closed the lid of the metal box and
restored it to his pocket. "If I don't take a hand there probably
won't be a Republic of France very long and, as a good American, I
prefer a republic to a monarchy."

Then he walked down-stairs and found his English-speaking waiter.

"Where's President Loubet?" he asked.

"Ze President! Ah, he is wiz his mansion. To be at his
residence, M'sieur."

"Where is his residence?"

The waiter began a series of voluble and explicit directions which so
confused the boy that he exclaimed:

"Oh, much obliged!" and walked away in disgust.

Gaining the street he approached a gendarme and repeated his question,
with no better result than before, for the fellow waved his arms
wildly in all directions and roared a volley of incomprehensible
French phrases that conveyed no meaning whatever.

"If ever I travel in foreign countries again," said Rob, "I'll learn
their lingo in advance. Why doesn't the Demon get up a conversation
machine that will speak all languages?"

By dint of much inquiry, however, and after walking several miles
following ambiguous directions, he managed to reach the residence of
President Loubet. But there he was politely informed that the
President was busily engaged in his garden, and would see no one.

"That's all right," said the boy, calmly. "If he's in the garden I'll
have no trouble finding him."

Then, to the amazement of the Frenchmen, Rob shot into the air fifty
feet or so, from which elevation he overlooked a pretty garden in the
rear of the President's mansion. The place was protected from
ordinary intrusion by high walls, but Rob descended within the
enclosure and walked up to a man who was writing at a small table
placed under the spreading branches of a large tree.

"Is this President Loubet?" he inquired, with a bow.

The gentleman looked up.

"My servants were instructed to allow no one to disturb me," he said,
speaking in excellent English.

"It isn't their fault; I flew over the wall," returned Rob. "The fact
is," he added, hastily, as he noted the President's frown, "I have
come to save the Republic; and I haven't much time to waste over a
bundle of Frenchmen, either."

The President seemed surprised.

"Your name!" he demanded, sharply.

"Robert Billings Joslyn, United States of America!"

"Your business, Monsieur Joslyn!"

Rob drew the Record from his pocket and placed it upon the table.

"This, sir," said he, "is an electrical device that records all
important events. I wish to call your attention to a scene enacted
in Paris last evening which may have an effect upon the future history
of your country."

He opened the lid, placed the Record so that the President could see
clearly, and then watched the changing expressions upon the great
man's face; first indifference, then interest, the next moment
eagerness and amazement.

"MON DIEU!" he gasped; "the Orleanists!"

Rob nodded.

"Yes; they've worked up a rather pretty plot, haven't they?"

The President did not reply. He was anxiously watching the Record and
scribbling notes on a paper beside him. His face was pale and his
lips tightly compressed.

Finally he leaned back in his chair and asked:

"Can you reproduce this scene again?"

"Certainly, sir," answered the boy; "as often as you like."

"Will you remain here while I send for my minister of police? It will
require but a short time."

"Call him up, then. I'm in something of a hurry myself, but now I've
mixed up with this thing I'll see it through."

The President touched a bell and gave an order to his servant. Then
he turned to Rob and said, wonderingly:

"You are a boy!"

"That's true, Mr. President," was the answer; "but an American boy,
you must remember. That makes a big difference, I assure you."

The President bowed gravely.

"This is your invention?" he asked.

"No; I'm hardly equal to that. But the inventor has made me a present
of the Record, and it's the only one in the world."

"It is a marvel," remarked the President, thoughtfully. "More! It is
a real miracle. We are living in an age of wonders, my young friend."

"No one knows that better than myself, sir," replied Rob. "But, tell
me, can you trust your chief of police?"

"I think so," said the President, slowly; "yet since your invention
has shown me that many men I have considered honest are criminally
implicated in this royalist plot, I hardly know whom to depend upon."

"Then please wear these spectacles during your interview with the
minister of police," said the boy. "You must say nothing, while he
is with us, about certain marks that will appear upon his forehead;
but when he has gone I will explain those marks so you will
understand them."

The President covered his eyes with the spectacles.

"Why," he exclaimed, "I see upon your own brow the letters--"

"Stop, sir!" interrupted Rob, with a blush; "I don't care to know what
the letters are, if it's just the same to you."

The President seemed puzzled by this speech, but fortunately the
minister of police arrived just then and, under Rob's guidance, the
pictured record of the Orleanist plot was reproduced before the
startled eyes of the official.

"And now," said the boy, "let us see if any of this foolishness is
going on just at present."

He turned to the opposite side of the Record and allowed the President
and his minister of police to witness the quick succession of events
even as they occurred.

Suddenly the minister cried, "Ha!" and, pointing to the figure of a
man disembarking from an English boat at Calais, he said, excitedly:

"That, your Excellency, is the Duke of Orleans, in disguise! I must
leave you for a time, that I may issue some necessary orders to my
men; but this evening I shall call to confer with you regarding the
best mode of suppressing this terrible plot."

When the official had departed, the President removed the spectacles
from his eyes and handed them to Rob.

"What did you see?" asked the boy.

"The letters 'G' and 'W'."

"Then you may trust him fully," declared Rob, and explained
the construction of the Character Marker to the interested
and amazed statesman.

"And now I must go," he continued, "for my stay in your city will be a
short one and I want to see all I can."

The President scrawled something on a sheet of paper and signed his name
to it, afterward presenting it, with a courteous bow, to his visitor.

"This will enable you to go wherever you please, while in Paris," he
said. "I regret my inability to reward you properly for the great
service you have rendered my country; but you have my sincerest
gratitude, and may command me in any way."

"Oh, that's all right," answered Rob. "I thought it was my duty to
warn you, and if you look sharp you'll be able to break up this
conspiracy. But I don't want any reward. Good day, sir."

He turned the indicator of his traveling machine and immediately
rose into the air, followed by a startled exclamation from the
President of France.

Moving leisurely over the city, he selected a deserted thoroughfare to
alight in, from whence he wandered unobserved into the beautiful
boulevards. These were now brilliantly lighted, and crowds of
pleasure seekers thronged them everywhere. Rob experienced a decided
sense of relief as he mixed with the gay populace and enjoyed the
sights of the splendid city, for it enabled him to forget, for a time,
the responsibilities thrust upon him by the possession of the Demon's
marvelous electrical devices.

13. Rob Loses His Treasures

Our young adventurer had intended to pass the night in the little bed
at his hotel, but the atmosphere of Paris proved so hot and
disagreeable that he decided it would be more enjoyable to sleep while
journeying through the cooler air that lay far above the earth's
surface. So just as the clocks were striking the midnight hour Rob
mounted skyward and turned the indicator of the traveling machine to
the east, intending to make the city of Vienna his next stop.

He had risen to a considerable distance, where the air was remarkably
fresh and exhilarating, and the relief he experienced from the close
and muggy streets of Paris was of such a soothing nature that he
presently fell fast asleep. His day in the metropolis had been a busy
one, for, like all boys, he had forgotten himself in the delight of
sight-seeing and had tired his muscles and exhausted his strength to
an unusual degree.

It was about three o'clock in the morning when Rob, moving restlessly
in his sleep, accidently touched with his right hand the indicator of
the machine which was fastened to his left wrist, setting it a couple
of points to the south of east. He was, of course, unaware of the
slight alteration in his course, which was destined to prove of
serious importance in the near future. For the boy's fatigue induced
him to sleep far beyond daybreak, and during this period of
unconsciousness he was passing over the face of European countries and
approaching the lawless and dangerous dominions of the Orient.

When, at last, he opened his eyes, he was puzzled to determine where
he was. Beneath him stretched a vast, sandy plain, and speeding across
this he came to a land abounding in luxuriant vegetation.

The centrifugal force which propelled him was evidently, for some
reason, greatly accelerated, for the scenery of the country he was
crossing glided by him at so rapid a rate of speed that it nearly took
his breath away.

"I wonder if I've passed Vienna in the night," he thought. "It ought
not to have taken me more than a few hours to reach there from Paris."

Vienna was at that moment fifteen hundred miles behind him; but Rob's
geography had always been his stumbling block at school, and he had
not learned to gage the speed of the traveling machine; so he was
completely mystified as to his whereabouts.

Presently a village having many queer spires and minarets whisked by
him like a flash. Rob became worried, and resolved to slow up at the
next sign of habitation.

This was a good resolution, but Turkestan is so thinly settled
that before the boy could plan out a course of action he had passed
the barren mountain range of Thian-Shan as nimbly as an acrobat
leaps a jumping-bar.

"This won't do at all!" he exclaimed, earnestly. "The traveling
machine seems to be running away with me, and I'm missing no end of
sights by scooting along up here in the clouds."

He turned the indicator to zero, and was relieved to find it obey with
customary quickness. In a few moments he had slowed up and stopped,
when he found himself suspended above another stretch of sandy plain.
Being too high to see the surface of the plain distinctly he dropped
down a few hundred feet to a lower level, where he discovered he was
surrounded by billows of sand as far as his eye could reach.

"It's a desert, all right," was his comment; "perhaps old Sahara herself."

He started the machine again towards the east, and at a more moderate
rate of speed skimmed over the surface of the desert. Before long he
noticed a dark spot ahead of him which proved to be a large body of
fierce looking men, riding upon dromedaries and slender, spirited
horses and armed with long rifles and crookedly shaped simitars.

"Those fellows seem to be looking for trouble," remarked the boy, as
he glided over them, "and it wouldn't be exactly healthy for an enemy
to get in their way. But I haven't time to stop, so I'm not likely to
get mixed up in any rumpus with them.

However, the armed caravan was scarcely out of sight before Rob
discovered he was approaching a rich, wooded oasis of the desert, in
the midst of which was built the walled city of Yarkand. Not that he
had ever heard of the place, or knew its name; for few Europeans and
only one American traveler had ever visited it. But he guessed it was
a city of some importance from its size and beauty, and resolved to
make a stop there.

Above the high walls projected many slender, white minarets,
indicating that the inhabitants were either Turks or some race of
Mohammedans; so Rob decided to make investigations before trusting
himself to their company.

A cluster of tall trees with leafy tops stood a short distance outside
the walls, and here the boy landed and sat down to rest in the
refreshing shade.

The city seemed as hushed and still as if it were deserted, and before
him stretched the vast plain of white, heated sands. He strained his
eyes to catch a glimpse of the band of warriors he had passed, but
they were moving slowly and had not yet appeared.

The trees that sheltered Rob were the only ones without the city,
although many low bushes or shrubs grew scattering over the space
between him and the walls. An arched gateway broke the enclosure at
his left, but the gates were tightly shut.

Something in the stillness and the intense heat of the mid-day sun
made the boy drowsy. He stretched himself upon the ground beneath the
dense foliage of the biggest tree and abandoned himself to the languor
that was creeping over him.

"I'll wait until that army of the desert arrives," he thought,
sleepily. "They either belong in this city or have come to capture it,
so I can tell better what to dance when I find out what the band plays."

The next moment he was sound asleep, sprawling upon his back in the
shade and slumbering as peacefully as an infant.

And while he lay motionless three men dropped in quick succession from
the top of the city wall and hid among the low bushes, crawling
noiselessly from one to another and so approaching, by degrees, the
little group of trees.

They were Turks, and had been sent by those in authority within the
city to climb the tallest tree of the group and discover if the enemy
was near. For Rob's conjecture had been correct, and the city of
Yarkand awaited, with more or less anxiety, a threatened assault from
its hereditary enemies, the Tatars.

The three spies were not less forbidding in appearance than the horde
of warriors Rob had passed upon the desert. Their features were
coarse and swarthy, and their eyes had a most villainous glare. Old
fashioned pistols and double-edged daggers were stuck in their belts
and their clothing, though of gorgeous colors, was soiled and neglected.

With all the caution of the American savage these Turks approached the
tree, where, to their unbounded amazement, they saw the boy lying
asleep. His dress and fairness of skin at once proclaimed him, in
their shrewd eyes, a European, and their first thought was to glance
around in search of his horse or dromedary. Seeing nothing of the
kind near they were much puzzled to account for his presence, and
stood looking down at him with evident curiosity.

The sun struck the polished surface of the traveling machine which was
attached to Rob's wrist and made the metal glitter like silver. This
attracted the eyes of the tallest Turk, who stooped down and
stealthily unclasped the band of the machine from the boy's
outstretched arm. Then, after a hurried but puzzled examination of the
little instrument, he slipped it into the pocket of his jacket.

Rob stirred uneasily in his sleep, and one of the Turks drew a slight
but stout rope from his breast and with gentle but deft movement
passed it around the boy's wrists and drew them together behind him.
The action was not swift enough to arouse the power of repulsion in
the Garment of Protection, but it awakened Rob effectually, so that he
sat up and stared hard at his captors.

"What are you trying to do, anyhow?" he demanded.

The Turks laughed and said something in their own language. They had
no knowledge of English.

"You're only making fools of yourselves," continued the boy,
wrathfully. "It's impossible for you to injure me."

The three paid no attention to his words. One of them thrust his hand
into Rob's pocket and drew out the electric tube. His ignorance of
modern appliances was so great that he did not know enough to push
the button. Rob saw him looking down the hollow end of the tube
and murmured:

"I wish it would blow your ugly head off!"

But the fellow, thinking the shining metal might be of some value to
him, put the tube in his own pocket and then took from the prisoner
the silver box of tablets.

Rob writhed and groaned at losing his possessions in this way, and
while his hands were fastened behind him tried to feel for and touch
the indicator of the traveling machine. When he found that the
machine also had been taken, his anger gave way to fear, for he
realized he was in a dangerously helpless condition.

The third Turk now drew the Record of Events from the boy's inner
pocket. He knew nothing of the springs that opened the lids, so,
after a curious glance at it, he secreted the box in the folds of his
sash and continued the search of the captive. The Character Marking
Spectacles were next abstracted, but the Turk, seeing in them nothing
but spectacles, scornfully thrust them back into Rob's pocket, while
his comrades laughed at him. The boy was now rifled of seventeen
cents in pennies, a broken pocket knife and a lead-pencil,the last
article seeming to be highly prized.

After they had secured all the booty they could find, the tall Turk,
who seemed the leader of the three, violently kicked at the prisoner
with his heavy boot. His surprise was great when the Garment of
Repulsion arrested the blow and nearly overthrew the aggressor in
turn. Snatching a dagger from his sash, he bounded upon the boy so
fiercely that the next instant the enraged Turk found himself lying
upon his back three yards away, while his dagger flew through the air
and landed deep in the desert sands.

"Keep it up!" cried Rob, bitterly. "I hope you'll enjoy yourself."

The other Turks raised their comrade to his feet, and the three stared
at one another in surprise, being unable to understand how a bound
prisoner could so effectually defend himself. But at a whispered word
from the leader, they drew their long pistols and fired point blank
into Rob's face. The volley echoed sharply from the city walls, but
as the smoke drifted slowly away the Turks were horrified to see their
intended victim laughing at them.

Uttering cries of terror and dismay, the three took to their heels and
bounded towards the wall, where a gate quickly opened to receive them,
the populace feeling sure the Tatar horde was upon them.

Nor was this guess so very far wrong; for as Rob, sitting disconsolate
upon the sand, raised his eyes, he saw across the desert a dark line
that marked the approach of the invaders.

Nearer and nearer they came, while Rob watched them and bemoaned the
foolish impulse that had led him to fall asleep in an unknown land
where he could so easily be overpowered and robbed of his treasures.

"I always suspected these electrical inventions would be my ruin some
day," he reflected, sadly; "and now I'm side-tracked and left helpless
in this outlandish country, without a single hope of ever getting home
again. They probably won't be able to kill me, unless they find my
Garment of Repulsion and strip that off; but I never could cross this
terrible desert on foot and, having lost my food tablets, I'd soon
starve if I attempted it."

Fortunately, he had eaten one of the tablets just before going to
sleep, so there was no danger of immediate starvation. But he was
miserable and unhappy, and remained brooding over his cruel fate until
a sudden shout caused him to look up.

14. Turk and Tatar

The Tatars had arrived, swiftly and noiselessly, and a dozen of the
warriors, still mounted, were surrounding him.

His helpless condition aroused their curiosity, and while some of them
hastily cut away his bonds and raised him to his feet, other plied him
with questions in their own language. Rob shook his head to indicate
that he could not understand; so they led him to the chief--an immense,
bearded representative of the tribe of Kara-Khitai, the terrible and
relentless Black Tatars of Thibet. The huge frame of this fellow was
clothed in flowing robes of cloth-of-gold, braided with jewels,
and he sat majestically upon the back of a jet-black camel.

Under ordinary circumstances the stern features and flashing black
eyes of this redoubtable warrior would have struck a chill of fear to
the boy's heart; but now under the influence of the crushing
misfortunes he had experienced, he was able to gaze with indifference
upon the terrible visage of the desert chief.

The Tatar seemed not to consider Rob an enemy. Instead, he looked
upon him as an ally, since the Turks had bound and robbed him.

Finding it impossible to converse with the chief, Rob took refuge in
the sign language. He turned his pockets wrong side out, showed the
red welts left upon his wrists by the tight cord, and then shook his
fists angrily in the direction of the town.

In return the Tatar nodded gravely and issued an order to his men.

By this time the warriors were busily pitching tents before the walls
of Yarkand and making preparations for a formal siege. In obedience
to the chieftain's orders, Rob was given a place within one of the
tents nearest the wall and supplied with a brace of brass-mounted
pistols and a dagger with a sharp, zigzag edge. These were evidently
to assist the boy in fighting the Turks, and he was well pleased to
have them. His spirits rose considerably when he found he had fallen
among friends, although most of his new comrades had such evil faces
that it was unnecessary to put on the Character Markers to judge their
natures with a fair degree of accuracy.

"I can't be very particular about the company I keep," he thought,
"and this gang hasn't tried to murder me, as the rascally Turks did.
So for the present I'll stand in with the scowling chief and try to
get a shot at the thieves who robbed me. If our side wins I may get a
chance to recover some of my property. It's a slim chance, of course,
but it's the only hope I have left."

That very evening an opportunity occurred for Rob to win glory in the
eyes of his new friends. Just before sundown the gates of the city
flew open and a swarm of Turks, mounted upon fleet horses and camels,
issued forth and fell upon their enemies. The Tatars, who did not
expect the sally, were scarcely able to form an opposing rank when
they found themselves engaged in a hand-to-hand conflict, fighting
desperately for their lives. In such a battle, however, the Turks
were at a disadvantage, for the active Tatars slipped beneath their
horses and disabled them, bringing both the animals and their riders
to the earth.

At the first onslaught Rob shot his pistol at a Turk and wounded him
so severely that he fell from his horse. Instantly the boy seized the
bridle and sprang upon the steed's back, and the next moment he had
dashed into the thickest part of the fray. Bullets and blows rained
upon him from all sides, but the Garment of Repulsion saved him from a
single scratch.

When his pistols had been discharged he caught up the broken handle of
a spear, and used it as a club, galloping into the ranks of the Turks
and belaboring them as hard as he could. The Tatars cheered and
followed him, and the Turks were so amazed at his miraculous escape
from their bullets that they became terrified, thinking he bore a
charmed life and was protected by unseen powers.

This terror helped turn the tide of battle, and before long the enemy
was pressed back to the walls and retreated through the gates, which
were hastily fastened behind them.

In order to prevent a repetition of this sally the Tatars at once
invested the gates, so that if the Turks should open them they were as
likely to let their foes in as to oppose them.

While the tents were being moved up Rob had an opportunity to search
the battlefield for the bodies of the three Turks who had robbed him,
but they were not among the fallen.

"Those fellows were too cowardly to take part in a fair fight,"
declared the boy; but he was much disappointed, nevertheless,
as he felt very helpless without the electric tube or the
traveling machine.

The Tatar chief now called Rob to his tent and presented him with a
beautiful ring set with a glowing pigeon's-blood ruby, in
acknowledgment of his services. This gift made the boy feel very
proud, and he said to the chief:

"You're all right, old man, even if you do look like a pirate. If you
can manage to capture that city, so I can get my electrical devices
back, I'll consider you a trump as long as I live."

The chief thought this speech was intended to express Rob's gratitude,
so he bowed solemnly in return.

During the night that followed upon the first engagement of the Turks
and Tatars, the boy lay awake trying to devise some plan to capture
the city. The walls seemed too high and thick to be either scaled or
broken by the Tatars, who had no artillery whatever; and within the
walls lay all the fertile part of the oasis, giving the besieged a
good supply of water and provisions, while the besiegers were obliged
to subsist on what water and food they had brought with them.

Just before dawn Rob left his tent and went out to look at the great
wall. The stars gave plenty of light, but the boy was worried to find
that, according to Eastern custom, no sentries or guards whatever had
been posted and all the Tatars were slumbering soundly.

The city was likewise wrapped in profound silence, but just as Rob was
turning away he saw a head project stealthily over the edge of the
wall before him, and recognized in the features one of the Turks who
had robbed him.

Finding no one awake except the boy the fellow sat upon the edge of
the wall, with his feet dangling downward, and grinned wickedly at his
former victim. Rob watched him with almost breathless eagerness.

After making many motions that conveyed no meaning whatever, the Turk
drew the electric tube from his pocket and pointed his finger first at
the boy and then at the instrument, as if inquiring what it was used
for. Rob shook his head. The Turk turned the tube over several times
and examined it carefully, after which he also shook his head, seeming
greatly puzzled.

By this time the boy was fairly trembling with excitement. He longed
to recover this valuable weapon, and feared that at any moment the
curious Turk would discover its use. He held out his hand toward the
tube, and tried to say, by motions, that he would show the fellow how
to use it. The man seemed to understand, by he would not let the
glittering instrument out of his possession.

Rob was almost in despair, when he happened to notice upon his hand
the ruby ring given him by the chief. Drawing the jewel from his
finger he made offer, by signs, that he would exchange it for the tube.

The Turk was much pleased with the idea, and nodded his head
repeatedly, holding out his hand for the ring. Rob had little
confidence in the man's honor, but he was so eager to regain the tube
that he decided to trust him. So he threw the ring to the top of the
wall, where the Turk caught it skilfully; but when Rob held out his
hand for the tube the scoundrel only laughed at him and began to
scramble to his feet in order to beat a retreat. Chance, however,
foiled this disgraceful treachery, for in his hurry the Turk allowed
the tube to slip from his grasp, and it rolled off the wall and fell
upon the sand at Rob's very feet.

The robber turned to watch its fall and, filled with sudden anger, the
boy grabbed the weapon, pointed it at his enemy, and pressed the
button. Down tumbled the Turk, without a cry, and lay motionless at
the foot of the wall.

Rob's first thought was to search the pockets of his captive, and to
his delight he found and recovered his box of food tablets. The
Record of Events and the traveling machine were doubtless in the
possession of the other robbers, but Rob did not despair of recovering
them, now that he had the tube to aid him.

Day was now breaking, and several of the Tatars appeared and examined
the body of the Turk with grunts of surprise, for there was no mark
upon him to show how he had been slain. Supposing him to be dead,
they tossed him aside and forgot all about him.

Rob had secured his ruby ring again, and going to the chief's tent he
showed the jewel to the guard and was at once admitted. The
black-bearded chieftain was still reclining upon his pillows, but Rob
bowed before him, and by means of signs managed to ask for a band of
warriors to assist him in assaulting the town. The chieftain appeared
to doubt the wisdom of the enterprise, not being able to understand
how the boy could expect to succeed; but he graciously issued the
required order, and by the time Rob reached the city gate he found a
large group of Tatars gathered to support him, while the entire camp,
roused to interest in the proceedings, stood looking on.

Rob cared little for the quarrel between the Turks and Tatars, and
under ordinary circumstances would have refused to side with one or
the other; but he knew he could not hope to recover his electrical
machines unless the city was taken by the band of warriors who had
befriended him, so he determined to force an entrance for them.

Without hesitation he walked close to the great gate and shattered its
fastenings with the force of the electric current directed upon them
from the tube. Then, shouting to his friends the Tatars for
assistance, they rushed in a body upon the gate and dashed it open.

The Turks had expected trouble when they heard the fastenings of the
huge gate splinter and fall apart, so they had assembled in force
before the opening. As the Tatars poured through the gateway in a
compact mass they were met by a hail of bullets, spears and arrows,
which did fearful execution among them. Many were killed outright,
while others fell wounded to be trampled upon by those who pressed on
from the rear.

Rob maintained his position in the front rank, but escaped all injury
through the possession of the Garment of Repulsion. But he took an
active part in the fight and pressed the button of the electric tube
again and again, tumbling the enemy into heaps on every side,
even the horses and camels falling helplessly before the resistless
current of electricity.

The Tatars shouted joyfully as they witnessed this marvelous feat and
rushed forward to assist in the slaughter; but the boy motioned them
all back. He did not wish any more bloodshed than was necessary, and
knew that the heaps of unconscious Turks around him would soon recover.

So he stood alone and faced the enemy, calmly knocking them over as
fast as they came near. Two of the Turks managed to creep up behind
the boy, and one of them, who wielded an immense simitar with a
two-edged blade as sharp as a razor, swung the weapon fiercely to cut
off Rob's head. But the repulsive force aroused in the Garment was so
terrific that it sent the weapon flying backwards with redoubled
swiftness, so that it caught the second Turk at the waist and cut him
fairly in two.

Thereafter they all avoided coming near the boy, and in a surprisingly
short time the Turkish forces were entirely conquered, all having been
reduced to unconsciousness except a few cowards who had run away and
hidden in the cellars or garrets of the houses.

The Tatars entered the city with shouts of triumph, and the chief
was so delighted that he threw his arms around Rob's neck and embraced
him warmly.

Then began the sack of Yarkand, the fierce Tatars plundering the bazaars
and houses, stripping them of everything of value they could find.

Rob searched anxiously among the bodies of the unconscious Turks for
the two men who had robbed him, but neither could be found. He was
more successful later, for in running through the streets he came upon
a band of Tatars leading a man with a rope around his neck, whom Rob
quickly recognized as one of the thieves he was hunting for. The
Tatars willingly allowed him to search the fellow, and in one of his
pockets Rob found the Record of Events.

He had now recovered all his property, except the traveling machine,
the one thing that was absolutely necessary to enable him to escape
from this barbarous country.

He continued his search persistently, and an hour later found the dead
body of the third robber lying in the square in the center of the
city. But the traveling machine was not on his person, and for the
first time the boy began to give way to despair.

In the distance he heard loud shouts and sound of renewed strife,
warning him that the Turks were recovering consciousness and engaging
the Tatars with great fierceness. The latter had scattered throughout
the town, thinking themselves perfectly secure, so that not only were
they unprepared to fight, but they became panic-stricken at seeing
their foes return, as it seemed, from death to life. Their usual
courage forsook them, and they ran, terrified, in every direction,
only to be cut down by the revengeful Turkish simitars.

Rob was sitting upon the edge of a marble fountain in the center of
the square when a crowd of victorious Turks appeared and quickly
surrounded him. The boy paid no attention to their gestures and the
Turks feared to approach him nearly, so they stood a short distance
away and fired volleys at him from their rifles and pistols.

Rob glared at them scornfully, and seeing they could not injure him
the Turks desisted; but they still surrounded him, and the crowd grew
thicker every moment.

Women now came creeping from their hiding places and mingled with the
ranks of the men, and Rob guessed, from their joyous chattering, that
the Turks had regained the city and driven out or killed the Tatar
warriors. He reflected, gloomily, that this did not affect his own
position in any way, since he could not escape from the oasis.

Suddenly, on glancing at the crowd, Rob saw something that arrested
his attention. A young girl was fastening some article to the wrist
of a burly, villainous-looking Turk. The boy saw a glitter that
reminded him of the traveling machine, but immediately afterward the
man and the girl bent their heads over the fellow's wrist in such a
way that Rob could see nothing more.

While the couple were apparently examining the strange device, Rob
started to his feet and walked toward them. The crowd fell back at
his approach, but the man and the girl were so interested that they
did not notice him. He was still several paces away when the girl put
out her finger and touched the indicator on the dial.

To Rob's horror and consternation the big Turk began to rise slowly
into the air, while a howl of fear burst from the crowd. But the boy
made a mighty spring and caught the Turk by his foot, clinging to it
with desperate tenacity, while they both mounted steadily upward
until they were far above the city of the desert.

The big Turk screamed pitifully at first, and then actually fainted
away from fright. Rob was much frightened, on his part, for he knew
if his hands slipped from their hold he would fall to his death.
Indeed, one hand was slipping already, so he made a frantic clutch and
caught firmly hold of the Turk's baggy trousers. Then, slowly and
carefully, he drew himself up and seized the leather belt that
encircled the man's waist. This firm grip gave him new confidence,
and he began to breathe more freely.

He now clung to the body of the Turk with both legs entwined, in the
way he was accustomed to cling to a tree-trunk when he climbed after
cherries at home. He had conquered his fear of falling, and took time
to recover his wits and his strength.

They had now reached such a tremendous height that the city looked
like a speck on the desert beneath them. Knowing he must act quickly,
Rob seized the dangling left arm of the unconscious Turk and raised it
until he could reach the dial of the traveling machine. He feared to
unclasp the machine just then, for two reasons: if it slipped from his
grasp they would both plunge downward to their death; and he was not
sure the machine would work at all if in any other position than
fastened to the left wrist.

Rob determined to take no chances, so he left the machine attached to
the Turk and turned the indicator to zero and then to "East," for he
did not wish to rejoin either his enemies the Turks or his equally
undesirable friends the Tatars.

After traveling eastward a few minutes he lost sight of the city
altogether; so, still clinging to the body of the Turk, he again
turned the indicator and began to descend. When, at last, they landed
gently upon a rocky eminence of the Kuen-Lun mountains, the boy's
strength was almost exhausted, and his limbs ached with the strain of
clinging to the Turk's body.

His first act was to transfer the traveling machine to his own wrist
and to see that his other electrical devices were safely bestowed in
his pockets. Then he sat upon the rock to rest until the Turk
recovered consciousness.

Presently the fellow moved uneasily, rolled over, and then sat up and
stared at his surroundings. Perhaps he thought he had been dreaming,
for he rubbed his eyes and looked again with mingled surprise and alarm.
Then, seeing Rob, he uttered a savage shout and drew his dagger.

Rob smiled and pointed the electric tube at the man, who doubtless
recognized its power, for he fell back scowling and trembling.

"This place seems like a good jog from civilization," remarked the
boy, as coolly as if his companion could understand what he said; "but
as your legs are long and strong you may be able to find your way.
It's true you're liable to starve to death, but if you do it will be
your own misfortune and not my fault."

The Turk glared at him sullenly, but did not attempt to reply.

Rob took out his box of tablets, ate one of them and offered another to
his enemy. The fellow accepted it ungraciously enough, but seeing Rob
eat one he decided to follow his example, and consumed the tablet with
a queer expression of distrust upon his face.

"Brave man!" cried Rob, laughingly; "you've avoided the pangs
of starvation for a time, anyhow, so I can leave you with a
clear conscience."

Without more ado, he turned the indicator of the traveling machine and
mounted into the air, leaving the Turk sitting upon the rocks and
staring after him in comical bewilderment.

15. A Battle with Monsters

Our young adventurer never experienced a more grateful feeling of
relief and security than when he found himself once more high in the
air, alone, and in undisputed possession of the electrical devices
bestowed upon him by the Demon.

The dangers he had passed through since landing at the city of the
desert and the desperate chance that alone had permitted him to regain
the traveling machine made him shudder at the bare recollection and
rendered him more sober and thoughtful than usual.

We who stick closely to the earth's surface can scarcely realize how
Rob could travel through the air at such dizzy heights without any
fear or concern whatsoever. But he had come to consider the air a
veritable refuge. Experience had given him implicit confidence in the
powers of the electrical instrument whose unseen forces carried him so
swiftly and surely, and while the tiny, watch-like machine was clasped
to his wrist he felt himself to be absolutely safe.

Having slipped away from the Turk and attained a fair altitude, he set
the indicator at zero and paused long enough to consult his map and
decide what direction it was best for him to take. The mischance that
had swept him unwittingly over the countries of Europe had also
carried him more than half way around the world from his home.
Therefore the nearest way to reach America would be to continue
traveling to the eastward.

So much time had been consumed at the desert oasis that he felt he
must now hasten if he wished to reach home by Saturday afternoon; so,
having quickly come to a decision, he turned the indicator and began a
swift flight into the east.

For several hours he traveled above the great desert of Gobi,
but by noon signs of a more fertile country began to appear, and,
dropping to a point nearer the earth, he was able to observe
closely the country of the Chinese, with its crowded population
and ancient but crude civilization.

Then he came to the Great Wall of China and to mighty Peking, above
which he hovered some time, examining it curiously. He really longed
to make a stop there, but with his late experiences fresh in his mind
he thought it much safer to view the wonderful city from a distance.

Resuming his flight he presently came to the gulf of Laou Tong, whose
fair face was freckled with many ships of many nations, and so on to
Korea, which seemed to him a land fully a century behind the times.

Night overtook him while speeding across the Sea of Japan, and having
a great desire to view the Mikado's famous islands, he put the
indicator at zero, and, coming to a full stop, composed himself to
sleep until morning, that he might run no chances of being carried
beyond his knowledge during the night.

You might suppose it no easy task to sleep suspended in mid-air, yet
the magnetic currents controlled by the traveling machine were so
evenly balanced that Rob was fully as comfortable as if reposing upon
a bed of down. He had become somewhat accustomed to passing the night
in the air and now slept remarkably well, having no fear of burglars
or fire or other interruptions that dwellers in cities are subject to.

One thing, however, he should have remembered: that he was in an
ancient and little known part of the world and reposing above a sea
famous in fable as the home of many fierce and terrible creatures;
while not far away lay the land of the dragon, the simurg and other
ferocious monsters.

Rob may have read of these things in fairy tales and books of travel,
but if so they had entirely slipped his mind; so he slumbered
peacefully and actually snored a little, I believe, towards morning.

But even as the red sun peeped curiously over the horizon he was
awakened by a most unusual disturbance--a succession of hoarse screams
and a pounding of the air as from the quickly revolving blades of some
huge windmill.

He rubbed his eyes and looked around.

Coming towards him at his right hand was an immense bird, whose body
seemed almost as big as that of a horse. Its wide-open, curving beak
was set with rows of pointed teeth, and the talons held against its
breast and turned threateningly outward were more powerful and
dreadful than a tiger's claws.

While, fascinated and horrified, he watched the approach of this
feathered monster, a scream sounded just behind him and the next
instant the stroke of a mighty wing sent him whirling over and over
through the air.

He soon came to a stop, however, and saw that another of the monsters
had come upon him from the rear and was now, with its mate, circling
closely around him, while both uttered continuously their hoarse,
savage cries.

Rob wondered why the Garment of Repulsion had not protected him from
the blow of the bird's wing; but, as a matter of fact, it had
protected him. For it was not the wing itself but the force of the
eddying currents of air that had sent him whirling away from the
monster. With the indicator at zero the magnetic currents and the
opposing powers of attraction and repulsion were so evenly balanced
that any violent atmospheric disturbance affected him in the same way
that thistledown is affected by a summer breeze. He had noticed
something of this before, but whenever a strong wind was blowing he
was accustomed to rise to a position above the air currents. This was
the first time he had slept with the indicator at zero.

The huge birds at once renewed their attack, but Rob had now recovered
his wits sufficiently to draw the electric tube from his pocket. The
first one to dart towards him received the powerful electric current
direct from the tube, and fell stunned and fluttering to the surface
of the sea, where it floated motionless. Its mate, perhaps warned by
this sudden disaster, renewed its circling flight, moving so swiftly
that Rob could scarcely follow it, and drawing nearer and nearer every
moment to its intended victim. The boy could not turn in the air very
quickly, and he feared an attack in the back, mistrusting the saving
power of the Garment of Repulsion under such circumstances; so in
desperation he pressed his finger upon the button of the tube and
whirled the instrument around his head in the opposite direction to
that in which the monster was circling. Presently the current and the
bird met, and with one last scream the creature tumbled downwards to
join its fellow upon the waves, where they lay like two floating islands.

Their presence had left a rank, sickening stench in the surrounding
atmosphere, so Rob made haste to resume his journey and was soon
moving rapidly eastward.

He could not control a shudder at the recollection of his recent
combat, and realized the horror of a meeting with such creatures by
one who had no protection from their sharp beaks and talons.

"It's no wonder the Japs draw ugly pictures of those monsters," he
thought. "People who live in these parts must pass most of their
lives in a tremble."

The sun was now shining brilliantly, and when the beautiful islands of
Japan came in sight Rob found that he had recovered his wonted
cheerfulness. He moved along slowly, hovering with curious interest
over the quaint and picturesque villages and watching the industrious
Japanese patiently toiling at their tasks. Just before he reached
Tokio he came to a military fort, and for nearly an hour watched the
skilful maneuvers of a regiment of soldiers at their morning drill.
They were not very big people, compared with other nations, but they
seemed alert and well trained, and the boy decided it would require a
brave enemy to face them on a field of battle.

Having at length satisfied his curiosity as to Japanese life and
customs Rob prepared for his long flight across the Pacific Ocean.

By consulting his map he discovered that should he maintain his course
due east, as before, he would arrive at a point in America very near
to San Francisco, which suited his plans excellently.

Having found that he moved more swiftly when farthest from the earth's
surface, because the air was more rarefied and offered less
resistance, Rob mounted upwards until the islands of Japan were mere
specks visible through the clear, sunny atmosphere.

Then he began his eastward flight, the broad surface of the Pacific
seeming like a blue cloud far beneath him.

16. Shipwrecked Mariners

Ample proof of Rob's careless and restless nature having been frankly
placed before the reader in these pages, you will doubtless be
surprised when I relate that during the next few hours our young
gentleman suffered from a severe attack of homesickness, becoming as
gloomy and unhappy in its duration as ever a homesick boy could be.

It may have been because he was just then cut off from all his
fellow-creatures and even from the world itself; it may have been
because he was satiated with marvels and with the almost absolute
control over the powers which the Demon had conferred upon him; or it
may have been because he was born and reared a hearty, healthy
American boy, with a disposition to battle openly with the world and
take his chances equally with his fellows, rather than be placed in
such an exclusive position that no one could hope successfully to
oppose him.

Perhaps he himself did not know what gave him this horrible attack of
"the blues," but the truth is he took out his handkerchief and cried
like a baby from very loneliness and misery.

There was no one to see him, thank goodness! and the tears gave him
considerable relief. He dried his eyes, made an honest struggle to
regain his cheerfulness, and then muttered to himself:

"If I stay up here, like an air-bubble in the sky, I shall certainly
go crazy. I suppose there's nothing but water to look at down below,
but if I could only sight a ship, or even see a fish jump, it would do
me no end of good."

Thereupon he descended until, as the ocean's surface same nearer and
nearer, he discovered a tiny island lying almost directly underneath
him. It was hardly big enough to make a dot on the biggest map, but a
clump of trees grew in the central portion, while around the edges
were jagged rocks protecting a sandy beach and a stretch of
flower-strewn upland leading to the trees.

It looked beautiful from Rob's elevated position, and his spirits
brightened at once.

"I'll drop down and pick a bouquet," he exclaimed, and a few moments
later his feet touched the firm earth of the island.

But before he could gather a dozen of the brilliant flowers a glad
shout reached his ears, and, looking up, he saw two men running towards
him from the trees.

They were dressed in sailor fashion, but their clothing was reduced to
rags and scarcely clung to their brown, skinny bodies. As they advanced
they waved their arms wildly in the air and cried in joyful tones:

"A boat! a boat!"

Rob stared at them wonderingly, and had much ado to prevent the poor
fellows from hugging him outright, so great was their joy at his
appearance. One of them rolled upon the ground, laughing and crying
by turns, while the other danced and cut capers until he became so
exhausted that he sank down breathless beside his comrade.

"How came you here?" then inquired the boy, in pitying tones.

"We're shipwrecked American sailors from the bark 'Cynthia Jane,'
which went down near here over a month ago," answered the smallest and
thinnest of the two. "We escaped by clinging to a bit of wreckage and
floated to this island, where we have nearly starved to death.
Indeed, we now have eaten everything on the island that was eatable,
and had your boat arrived a few days later you'd have found us lying
dead upon the beach!"

Rob listened to this sad tale with real sympathy.

"But I didn't come here in a boat," said he.

The men sprang to their feet with white, scared faces.

"No boat!" they cried; "are you, too, shipwrecked?"

"No;" he answered. "I flew here through the air." And then he
explained to them the wonderful electric traveling machine.

But the sailors had no interest whatever in the relation. Their
disappointment was something awful to witness, and one of them laid
his head upon his comrade's shoulder and wept with unrestrained grief,
so weak and discouraged had they become through suffering.

Suddenly Rob remembered that he could assist them, and took the box of
concentrated food tablets from his pocket.

"Eat these," he said, offering one of each to the sailors.

At first they could not understand that these small tablets would be
able to allay the pangs of hunger; but when Rob explained their
virtues the men ate them greedily. Within a few moments they were so
greatly restored to strength and courage that their eyes brightened,
their sunken cheeks flushed, and they were able to converse with their
benefactor with calmness and intelligence.

Then the boy sat beside them upon the grass and told them the story of
his acquaintance with the Demon and of all his adventures since he had
come into possession of the wonderful electric contrivances. In his
present mood he felt it would be a relief to confide in some one, and
so these poor, lonely men were the first to hear his story.

When he related the manner in which he had clung to the Turk while both
ascended into the air, the elder of the two sailors listened with rapt
attention, and then, after some thought, asked:

"Why couldn't you carry one or both of us to America?"

Rob took time seriously to consider this idea, while the sailors eyed
him with eager interest. Finally he said:

"I'm afraid I couldn't support your weight long enough to reach any
other land. It's a long journey, and you'd pull my arms out of joint
before we'd been up an hour."

Their faces fell at this, but one of them said:

"Why couldn't we swing ourselves over your shoulders with a rope? Our
two bodies would balance each other and we are so thin and emaciated
that we do not weigh very much."

While considering this suggestion Rob remembered how at one time five
pirates had clung to his left leg and been carried some distance
through the air.

"Have you a rope?" he asked.

"No," was the answer; "but there are plenty of long, tough vines
growing on the island that are just as strong and pliable as ropes."

"Then, if you are willing to run the chances," decided the boy, "I
will make the attempt to save you. But I must warn you that in case I
find I can not support the weight of your bodies I shall drop one or
both of you into the sea."

They looked grave at this prospect, but the biggest one said:

"We would soon meet death from starvation if you left us here on the
island; so, as there is at least a chance of our being able to escape
in your company I, for one, am willing to risk being drowned. It is
easier and quicker than being starved. And, as I'm the heavier,
I suppose you'll drop me first."

"Certainly," declared Rob, promptly.

This announcement seemed to be an encouragement to the little sailor,
but he said, nervously:

"I hope you'll keep near the water, for I haven't a good head for
heights--they always make me dizzy."

"Oh, if you don't want to go," began Rob, "I can easily--"

"But I do! I do! I do!" cried the little man, interrupting him. "I
shall die if you leave me behind!"

"Well, then, get your ropes, and we'll do the best we can,"
said the boy.

They ran to the trees, around the trunks of which were clinging many
tendrils of greenish-brown vine which possessed remarkable strength.
With their knives they cut a long section of this vine, the ends of
which were then tied into loops large enough to permit the sailors to
sit in them comfortably. The connecting piece Rob padded with seaweed
gathered from the shore, to prevent its cutting into his shoulders.

"Now, then," he said, when all was ready, "take your places."

The sailors squatted in the loops, and Rob swung the vine over his
shoulders and turned the indicator of the traveling machine to "up."

As they slowly mounted into the sky the little sailor gave a squeal of
terror and clung to the boy's arm; but the other, although seemingly
anxious, sat quietly in his place and made no trouble.

"D--d--don't g--g--go so high!" stammered the little one, tremblingly;
"suppose we should f--f--fall!"

"Well, s'pose we should?" answered Rob, gruffly. "You couldn't drown
until you struck the water, so the higher we are the longer you'll
live in case of accident."

This phase of the question seemed to comfort the frightened fellow
somewhat; but, as he said, he had not a good head for heights, and so
continued to tremble in spite of his resolve to be brave.

The weight on Rob's shoulders was not so great as he had feared, the
traveling machine seeming to give a certain lightness and buoyancy to
everything that came into contact with its wearer.

As soon as he had reached a sufficient elevation to admit of good speed
he turned the indicator once more to the east and began moving rapidly
through the air, the shipwrecked sailors dangling at either side.

"This is aw--aw--awful!" gasped the little one.

"Say, you shut up!" commanded the boy, angrily. "If your friend was
as big a coward as you are I'd drop you both this minute. Let go my
arm and keep quiet, if you want to reach land alive."

The fellow whimpered a little, but managed to remain silent for several
minutes. Then he gave a sudden twitch and grabbed Rob's arm again.

"S'pose--s'pose the vine should break!" he moaned, a horrified look
upon his face.

"I've had about enough of this," said Rob, savagely. "If you haven't
any sense you don't deserve to live." He turned the indicator on the
dial of the machine and they began to descend rapidly.

The little fellow screamed with fear, but Rob paid no attention to him
until the feet of the two suspended sailors were actually dipping into
the waves, when he brought their progress to an abrupt halt.

"Wh--wh--what are you g--g--going to do?" gurgled the cowardly sailor.

"I'm going to feed you to the sharks--unless you promise to keep your
mouth shut," retorted the boy. "Now, then; decide at once! Which will
it be--sharks or silence?"

"I won't say a word--'pon my honor, I won't!" said the sailor shudderingly.

"All right; remember your promise and we'll have no further trouble,"
remarked Rob, who had hard work to keep from laughing at the man's
abject terror.

Once more he ascended and continued the journey, and for several hours
they rode along swiftly and silently. Rob's shoulders were beginning
to ache with the continued tugging of the vine upon them, but the
thought that he was saving the lives of two unfortunate
fellow-creatures gave him strength and courage to persevere.

Night was falling when they first sighted land; a wild and seemingly
uninhabited stretch of the American coast. Rob made no effort to
select a landing place, for he was nearly worn out with a strain and
anxiety of the journey. He dropped his burden upon the brow of a high
bluff overlooking the sea and, casting the vine from his shoulders,
fell to the earth exhausted and half fainting.

17. The Coast of Oregon

When he had somewhat recovered, Rob sat up and looked around him. The
elder sailor was kneeling in earnest prayer, offering grateful thanks
for his escape from suffering and death. The younger one lay upon the
ground sobbing and still violently agitated by recollections of the
frightful experiences he had undergone. Although he did not show his
feelings as plainly as the men, the boy was none the less gratified at
having been instrumental in saving the lives of two fellow-beings.

The darkness was by this time rapidly enveloping them, so Rob asked
his companions to gather some brushwood and light a fire, which they
quickly did. The evening was cool for the time of year, and the heat
from the fire was cheering and grateful; so they all lay near the
glowing embers and fell fast asleep.

The sound of voices aroused Rob next morning, and on opening his eyes
and gazing around he saw several rudely dressed men approaching. The
two shipwrecked sailors were still sound asleep.

Rob stood up and waited for the strangers to draw near. They seemed
to be fishermen, and were much surprised at finding three people
asleep upon the bluff.

"Whar 'n thunder 'd ye come from?" asked the foremost fisherman, in a
surprised voice.

"From the sea," replied the boy. "My friends here are shipwrecked
sailors from the 'Cynthia Jane.'"

"But how'd ye make out to climb the bluff?" inquired a second
fisherman; "no one ever did it afore, as we knows on."

"Oh, that is a long story," replied the boy, evasively.

The two sailors had awakened and now saluted the new-comers. Soon
they were exchanging a running fire of questions and answers.

"Where are we?" Rob heard the little sailor ask.

"Coast of Oregon," was the reply. "We're about seven miles from Port
Orford by land an' about ten miles by sea."

"Do you live at Port Orford?" inquired the sailor.

"That's what we do, friend; an' if your party wants to join us we'll
do our best to make you comf'table, bein' as you're shipwrecked an'
need help."

Just then a loud laugh came from another group, where the elder sailor
had been trying to explain Rob's method of flying through the air.

"Laugh all you want to," said the sailor, sullenly; "it's true--ev'ry
word of it!"

"Mebbe you think it, friend," answered a big, good-natured fisherman;
"but it's well known that shipwrecked folks go crazy sometimes, an'
imagine strange things. Your mind seems clear enough in other ways,
so I advise you to try and forget your dreams about flyin'."

Rob now stepped forward and shook hands with the sailors.

"I see you have found friends," he said to them, "so I will leave you
and continue my journey, as I'm in something of a hurry."

Both sailors began to thank him profusely for their rescue, but he
cut them short.

"That's all right. Of course I couldn't leave you on that island to
starve to death, and I'm glad I was able to bring you away with me."

"But you threatened to drop me into the sea," remarked the little
sailor, in a grieved voice.

"So I did," said Rob, laughing; "but I wouldn't have done it for the
world--not even to have saved my own life. Good-by!"

He turned the indicator and mounted skyward, to the unbounded
amazement of the fishermen, who stared after him with round eyes
and wide open mouths.

"This sight will prove to them that the sailors are not crazy," he
thought, as he turned to the south and sped away from the bluff. "I
suppose those simple fishermen will never forget this wonderful
occurrence, and they'll probably make reg'lar heroes of the two men
who have crossed the Pacific through the air."

He followed the coast line, keeping but a short distance above the earth,
and after an hour's swift flight reached the city of San Francisco.

His shoulders were sore and stiff from the heavy strain upon them of
the previous day, and he wished more than once that he had some of his
mother's household liniment to rub them with. Yet so great was his
delight at reaching once more his native land that all discomforts
were speedily forgotten.

Much as he would have enjoyed a day in the great metropolis of the
Pacific slope, Rob dared not delay longer than to take a general view
of the place, to note its handsome edifices and to wonder at the
throng of Chinese inhabiting one section of the town.

These things were much more plainly and quickly viewed by Rob from
above than by threading a way through the streets on foot; for he
looked down upon the city as a bird does, and covered miles with a
single glance.

Having satisfied his curiosity without attempting to alight, he turned
to the southeast and followed the peninsula as far as Palo Alto, where
he viewed the magnificent buildings of the university. Changing his
course to the east, he soon reached Mount Hamilton, and, being
attracted by the great tower of the Lick Observatory, he hovered over
it until he found he had attracted the excited gaze of the inhabitants,
who doubtless observed him very plainly through the big telescope.

But so unreal and seemingly impossible was the sight witnessed by the
learned astronomers that they have never ventured to make the incident
public, although long after the boy had darted away into the east they
argued together concerning the marvelous and incomprehensible vision.
Afterward they secretly engrossed the circumstance upon their records,
but resolved never to mention it in public, lest their wisdom and
veracity should be assailed by the skeptical.

Meantime Rob rose to a higher altitude, and sped swiftly across the
great continent. By noon he sighted Chicago, and after a brief
inspection of the place from the air determined to devote at least an
hour to forming the acquaintance of this most wonderful and
cosmopolitan city.

18. A Narrow Escape

The Auditorium Tower, where "the weather man" sits to flash his
reports throughout the country, offered an inviting place for the boy
to alight. He dropped quietly upon the roof of the great building and
walked down the staircase until he reached the elevators, by means of
which he descended to the ground floor without exciting special attention.

The eager rush and hurry of the people crowding the sidewalks
impressed Rob with the idea that they were all behind time and were
trying hard to catch up. He found it impossible to walk along
comfortably without being elbowed and pushed from side to side; so a
half hour's sight-seeing under such difficulties tired him greatly.
It was a beautiful afternoon, and finding himself upon the Lake Front,
Rob hunted up a vacant bench and sat down to rest.

Presently an elderly gentleman with a reserved and dignified
appearance and dressed in black took a seat next to the boy and drew a
magazine from his pocket. Rob saw that he opened it to an article on
"The Progress of Modern Science," in which he seemed greatly interested.

After a time the boy remembered that he was hungry, not having eaten a
tablet in more than twenty-four hours. So he took out the silver box
and ate one of the small, round disks it contained.

"What are those?" inquired the old gentleman in a soft voice. "You
are too young to be taking patent medicines."

"There are not medicines, exactly," answered the boy, with a smile.
"They are Concentrated Food Tablets, sorted with nourishment by means
of electricity. One of them furnishes a person with food for an
entire day."

The old gentleman stared at Rob a moment and then laid down his magazine
and took the box in his hands, examining the tablets curiously.

"Are these patented?" he asked.

"No," said Rob; "they are unknown to any one but myself."

"I will give you a half million dollars for the recipe to make them,"
said the gentleman.

"I fear I must refuse your offer," returned Rob, with a laugh.

"I'll make it a million," said the gentleman, coolly.

Rob shook his head.

"Money can't buy the recipe," he said; "for I don't know it myself."

"Couldn't the tablets be chemically analyzed, and the secret
discovered?" inquired the other.

"I don't know; but I'm not going to give any one the chance to try,"
declared the boy, firmly.

The old gentleman picked up his magazine without another word, and
resumed his reading.

For amusement Rob took the Record of Events from his pocket and began
looking at the scenes reflected from its polished plate.

Presently he became aware that the old gentleman was peering over his
shoulder with intense interest. General Funston was just then engaged
in capturing the rebel chief, Aguinaldo, and for a few moments both
man and boy observed the occurrence with rapt attention. As the scene
was replaced by one showing a secret tunnel of the Russian Nihilists,
with the conspirators carrying dynamite to a recess underneath the
palace of the Czar, the gentleman uttered a long sigh and asked:

"Will you sell that box?"

"No," answered Rob, shortly, and put it back into his pocket.

"I'll give you a million dollars to control the sale in Chicago alone,"
continued the gentleman, with an eager inflection in his smooth voice.

"You seem quite anxious to get rid of money," remarked Rob,
carelessly. "How much are you worth?"



"Nothing at all, young man. I am not offering you my own money. But
with such inventions as you have exhibited I could easily secure
millions of capital. Suppose we form a trust, and place them upon the
market. We'll capitalize it for a hundred millions, and you can have
a quarter of the stock--twenty-five millions. That would keep you
from worrying about grocery bills."

"But I wouldn't need groceries if I had the tablets," said Rob, laughing.

"True enough! But you could take life easily and read your newspaper
in comfort, without being in any hurry to get down town to business.
Twenty-five millions would bring you a cozy little income,
if properly invested."

"I don't see why one should read newspapers when the Record of Events
shows all that is going on in the world," objected Rob.

"True, true! But what do you say to the proposition?"

"I must decline, with thanks. These inventions are not for sale."

The gentleman sighed and resumed his magazine, in which he became
much absorbed.

Rob put on the Character Marking Spectacles and looked at him. The
letters "E," "W" and "C" were plainly visible upon the composed,
respectable looking brow of his companion.

"Evil, wise and cruel," reflected Rob, as he restored the spectacles
to his pocket. "How easily such a man could impose upon people. To
look at him one would think that butter wouldn't melt in his mouth!"

He decided to part company with this chance acquaintance and, rising
from his seat, strolled leisurely up the walk. A moment later, on
looking back, he discovered that the old gentleman had disappeared.

He walked down State Street to the river and back again, amused by the
activity displayed in this busy section of the city. But the time
he had allowed himself in Chicago had now expired, so he began
looking around for some high building from the roof of which he
could depart unnoticed.

This was not at all difficult, and selecting one of many stores he
ascended by an elevator to the top floor and from there mounted an
iron stairway leading to the flat roof. As he climbed this stairway
he found himself followed by a pleasant looking young man, who also
seemed desirous of viewing the city from the roof.

Annoyed at the inopportune intrusion, Rob's first thought was to go
back to the street and try another building; but, upon reflecting that
the young man was not likely to remain long and he would soon be
alone, he decided to wait. So he walked to the edge of the roof and
appeared to be interested in the scenery spread out below him.

"Fine view from here, ain't it?" said the young man, coming up to him
and placing his hand carelessly upon the boy's shoulder.

"It is, indeed," replied Rob, leaning over the edge to look
into the street.

As he spoke he felt himself gently but firmly pushed from behind and,
losing his balance, he plunged headforemost from the roof and whirled
through the intervening space toward the sidewalk far below.

Terrified though he was by the sudden disaster, the boy had still wit
enough remaining to reach out his right hand and move the indicator of
the machine upon his left wrist to the zero mark. Immediately he
paused in his fearful flight and presently came to a stop at a
distance of less than fifteen feet from the flagstones which had
threatened to crush out his life.

As he stared downward, trying to recover his self-possession, he saw
the old gentleman he had met on the Lake Front standing just below
and looking at him with a half frightened, half curious expression
in his eyes.

At once Rob saw through the whole plot to kill him and thus secure
possession of his electrical devices. The young man upon the roof who
had attempted to push him to his death was a confederate of the
innocent appearing old gentleman, it seemed, and the latter had calmly
awaited his fall to the pavement to seize the coveted treasures from
his dead body. It was an awful idea, and Rob was more frightened than
he had ever been before in his life--or ever has been since.

But now the shouts of a vast concourse of amazed spectators reached
the boy's ears. He remembered that he was suspended in mid-air over
the crowded street of a great city, while thousands of wondering eyes
were fixed upon him.

So he quickly set the indicator to the word "up," and mounted sky-ward
until the watchers below could scarcely see him. They he fled away
into the east, even yet shuddering with the horror of his recent
escape from death and filled with disgust at the knowledge that there
were people who held human life so lightly that they were willing to
destroy it to further their own selfish ends.

"And the Demon wants such people as these to possess his electrical
devices, which are as powerful to accomplish evil when in wrong hands
as they are good!" thought the boy, resentfully. "This would be a
fine world if Electric Tubes and Records of Events and Traveling
Machines could be acquired by selfish and unprincipled persons!"

So unnerved was Rob by his recent experiences that he determined to
make no more stops. However, he alighted at nightfall in the country,
and slept upon the sweet hay in a farmer's barn.

But, early the next morning, before any one else was astir, he resumed
his journey, and at precisely ten o'clock of this day, which was
Saturday, he completed his flying trip around the world by alighting
unobserved upon the well-trimmed lawn of his own home.

19. Rob Makes a Resolution

When Rob opened the front door he came face to face with Nell, who
gave an exclamation of joy and threw herself into his arms.

"Oh, Rob!" she cried, "I'm so glad you've come. We have all been
dreadfully worried about you, and mother--"

"Well, what about mother?" inquired the boy, anxiously, as she paused.

"She's been very ill, Rob; and the doctor said to-day that unless we
heard from you soon he would not be able to save her life. The
uncertainty about you is killing her."

Rob stood stock still, all the eager joy of his return frozen into horror
at the thought that he had caused his dear mother so much suffering.

"Where is she, Nell?" he asked, brokenly.

"In her room. Come; I'll take you to her."

Rob followed with beating heart, and soon was clasped close to his
mother's breast.

"Oh, my boy--my dear boy!" she murmured, and then for very joy and
love she was unable to say more, but held him tight and stroked his
hair gently and kissed him again and again.

Rob said little, except to promise that he would never again leave
home without her full consent and knowledge. But in his mind he
contrasted the love and comfort that now surrounded him with the
lonely and unnatural life he had been leading and, boy though he was
in years, a mighty resolution that would have been creditable to an
experienced man took firm root in his heart.

He was obliged to recount all his adventures to his mother and,

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